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News from Betsie's Literary Page
September 17, 2004
Betsie's Literary Page Newsletter


Hi there. I'm back from the long weekend. I hope you had a good one. It does seem as if it were a long time ago though. For those of you who sent in email letting us know you missed us -- THANKS!!

I don't know about you, but this past week seemed to kick into high speed for me. A lot seems to be happening. The fall is upon us, boxes are popping up all over the place (in my house that is.)


Scumbag of the Week
We "celebrated" the 3rd anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack on the United States over last weekend. While you always have it in the back of your mind that it was an awful thing, seeing those images again on Saturday brought it all back... the fear, the disbelief, the outright anger. Russia, our former nemesis suffered an equally appalling terrorist situation last week, with over 300 people being slaughtered... over half of them school children in their school. Kept hostage like pigs, without food or water, they were the latest victims to fall to those who would see every one of us die, given the chance.

Can anything rate as high on the Scumbag meter as this? Waging war on us (or Russia, or Spain, or whoever is next on their list) is one thing... I thought that killing innocent people at work was brutal and unforgivable... but slaughtering kids? Enough is enough already.

It's time that everyone wakes up and sees these "people" for what they are. They're not freedom fighters, they're not oppressed, they're not "acting out" for reasons of economic equality, and they're not honorable practitioners of Islam. They are thugs, murderers, and scumbags... and their holy war is all encompassing. As a world, we need to band together and agree to put a stop to it. As has been said, this is a war that we did not start, but unfortunately - one that we must finish. Russia now feels our pain, and understands that statement better than anyone. I hope that they're the last country to be forced into that realization.

We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore
sent in by one of our subscribers

How did the Party of Lincoln and Liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?


The Catalan Gambit by Douglas Quinn
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc.; (June 2004)
ISBN: 0595319874
Genre: Mystery - Thrillers
Paperback: 244 pages

Rating: Highly Recommended

An action packed thriller about a father's quest to save his children.

September 10, 2004

Ever since Henry Ellis lost his wife, his twins have been the focal point of his life. He still felt the pain of being a widower, and he has realized that he could not control the events that took his wife from him. However, when the plane carrying his children to Spain was hijacked, Henry Ellis vowed to do anything possible to save them. Henry was aware of the President's refusal to negotiate with terrorists; therefore he has rested the responsibility for liberating the twins squarely on his own shoulders.

He arrives in Spain where he makes contact with the "underground" through a priest and "old men" from his family's past. He makes some startling realizations about the "old men" that his mother advised him to be wary of and realizes that they may be behind the bloody hijacking that has been orchestrated. Ellis exists now in a world about which he was uncertain and learns to trust no one. He learns about his father, a "hero" who died for the cause many decades ago and now questions if he really was a hero or just a terrorist similar to the ones who were now holding his children and killing the passengers one at a time.

Douglas Quinn delivers a truly captivating and gritty story. His writing style is very honest and frank. His use of imagery and bloody, vivid descriptions are not to frighten us - they are to enlighten us. It's an emotional roller coaster ride as you shift between the events that involve Henry Ellis, the U.S. Government and the terrorists. Scenes are written and at the last word a major event unfolds and the reader will draw his or her own conclusions, only to have them rebuffed at the beginning or middle of the next scene.

This book has it all - love, action, drama, mystery, suspense and a small dose of horror. All of these key elements reside between the pages of "The Catalan Gambit" and you will enjoy this book. It is an adult read that chronicles the Post 9-11 society that we live in and it will frighten you and then relieve you in some ways. This cycle of emotions will repeat throughout this work and captivate you in the process.

Prepare yourself for the ultimate action movie when you read "The Catalan Gambit" by Douglas Quinn. This book has it all, so, give it a read!

Reviewed by: Tyrone Vincent Banks

Yiddish with Dick and Jane by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 2004)
Genre: Humor/Parody
ISBN #: 0316159727
Paperback: 104 pages
Price: $14.95

Rating: Recommended

See Dick, Jane and Sally Today - Oy Vey!

September 14, 2004

See Dick. See Jane. See Sally. See Dick , Jane and Sally in an off-the-wall primer where they speak phrases such as, "He is a goniff! Someone ought to give him a zetz in the schnoz."

Oy vey! What has happened to Dick, Jane and Sally since we last saw them? They now speak Yiddish?! Jane is married to Bob and they have two children who are very well behaved: "Kina-hora." Jane works in real estate. Dick is a businessman who likes to "schmooze" on the golf course to drum up business. He is married to Mary and they also have two children. Sally now lives in Berkeley where she teaches "Transgressive Feminist Ceramics."

In this alternate universe to the Dick and Jane primers of our childhood, we see a married woman having an affair with her husband's friend. We see her husband in a lip lock with Jane's male boss. When Dick, Jane and Sally's mother is recovering from a small stroke, which has left her slightly "farblondget," Sally comes to visit. When her mother compliments her on her looks, a "zaftig" Sally protests and rails at her mother about the fact that her mother did nothing to help her get ready for the real world. Her mother tells her that she prepared her to live in the world that she lived in. And that is the heart and soul of this book - the Dick, Jane and Sally who we grew up with were part of the perfect world that was portrayed in both print and on television where everyone was happy, there were simple solutions to all problems, and no dangers lurked outside anyone's door. There was a very strong disconnect with reality, but in the 50's and early 60's, not many people seemed to mind. Now, Dick, Jane and Sally live in the modern world, but Sally is the only one who is aware of how much things have changed and that there was never such a thing as a perfect world.

Yiddish with Dick and Jane is probably not for everyone. But for those who enjoy a good parody, it is also a fun and painless way to learn some Yiddish. There is a glossary in the back to help the Yiddish- deficient keep up with the story. The incongruity of Dick, Jane and Sally speaking Yiddish is amusing. The illustrations are right on the mark, capturing the idealized world of the Dick and Jane primers, in strong contrast to the skewed, Yiddish-speaking universe of the modern Dick and Jane.

Reviewed by Nancy Machlis Rechtman

Danger Is Sweet by Cornelia Amiri
Publisher: Awe-Struck; (August 2004)
Genre: Fantasy Fiction / Romance
ISBN: 1587494426
Paperback: 153 pages
* also available as an eBook

Rating: Highly Recommended

Love as deep as the sea!

September 15, 2004

In 843 AD a young Scotsman and his cousin take a boat out into a storm for the thrill and attempt to catch a boatload of fish to impress Kenneth's father, the King at the time. Imperious to the danger of doing such a foolish thing, Malcolm and Kenneth realize their folly when both are thrown over into the sea and only Kenneth appears to have escaped with his life.

Several years later Malcolm arrives on Scotland territories and discovers that not only is his father dead, but Kenneth's father the King as well. Malcolm is persuaded against his will to stay and champion Kenneth in his quest as King to unite the Scots and Pict's

However, before the mission is complete, an attempt on the Kings life forces Malcolm into marriage with a beautiful Pict woman who despises Scots. Malcolm eventually gains the respect and trust of his unwilling bride and they both fall madly in love.

The task of uniting the Scots and the Pict's under King Kenneth McAlpin is close at hand. Completion will end Malcolm's forced stay in the territory, as well, as his one-year hard marriage to his Pict wife, Bethoc.

Just as everything seems to come together, Bethoc unearths a secret about Malcolm that leaves her distraught. Can their love overcome this obstacle or will they be forced apart forever?

Danger Is Sweet combines romance with duty, pride, honor and a little bit of the paranormal. It is a delightfully enchanting tale about the mysteries of romance and the sea.

Reviewed by Juanita Reynolds

Charley Sunday's Texas Outfit! by Stephen Lodge
Publisher: Behler Publications (July 2004)
Genre: Contemporary Western
ISBN: 0974896217
Paperback; 157pp

Rating: Highly recommended

If you loved "Lonesome Dove" you'll love "Charley Sunday's Texas Outfit"

August 31, 2004

Tough, old former Texas Ranger Charley Sunday faces two problems: he's bored, living with his long- time chum Roscoe on his broken down ranch near tiny, dusty Juanita, Texas, west of San Antonio; and far more seriously, he's nearly broke, and is facing the foreclosure of his land.

His beloved grandson Henry-Ellis comes to stay with Charley while his parents are on vacation. Charley and his grandson have always had a special bond, and Charley dearly wants to pass on his rugged-and rapidly vanishing--frontier values to the boy, who is growing up in our high-tech urbanized, confusing world. While watching the classic John Wayne film Red River, they see a commercial about a herd of 300 genuine Texas longhorns that is being auctioned in Golden, Colorado. This becomes an itch that Charley has to scratch, and he heads to his favorite pool hall to do some "serious thinking." His sometime sweetheart, the wealthy Flora-Mae owns the bar. It turns out Charlie and Flora-Mae were thinking along the same lines, and they form a partnership, financed by Flora-Mae, to bring the herd back to her ranch so she can get back into the cattle business.

Charlie, Roscoe, Henry-Ellis and their old dog Buster head to Colorado to the auction. They run into their first of many obstacles from a very evil, abusive meatpacker named Pike who intends to buy the herd and turn it into fast-food hamburger. Pike sends his attorney, a young Indian named Rod to the auction to make a pre-emptive bid. But it turns out Charlie and his gang wins the bidding. Their celebration is short-lived and is replaced by despair when they find Pike has convinced the trucking companies to not do business with Charley: he can't get the longhorns back to Texas.

Or can he.. how about an old-fashioned cattle drive across the West? Charlie is just desperate enough, and perhaps crazy enough, to attempt it. So off they go, accompanied by beautiful TV reporter Kelly King who thinks the cattle drive makes a unique human- interest story-and also Rod, who has had enough of his boss Mr. Pike and switches sides.

Charley Sunday's Texas outfit faces the usual hardships all cattle drovers did, the weather, potential rustlers, the rough terrain and brutally long workdays. But this cattle drive also faces unique challenges: how do you get cattle across an oil company's fields? Through an Air Force Base? It is then we enjoy the central theme of Stephen Lodge's simple, elegant and pleasantly sentimental story; Charley Sunday's indomitable will, the same pioneer spirit that conquered the West, will not allow him to quit, will not permit him to fail-especially not in front of his grandson. This may be the last chance the old man has to show Henry-Ellis what kind of young man Charley was in his glory days as a Texas Ranger. And for Henry-Ellis' part, it is a wonderful opportunity for adventure across the great, glorious West-much more fun than surfing the Internet or going on a fancy vacation in Hawaii with his mom and dad. "Take them to Texas, gentlemen," Charley tells his men at the start of the drive, echoing John Wayne in Red River. And over the course of the cattle drive, Henry- Ellis sees that his grandpa can ride, shoot, brawl- and fight for what he believes in--just like Duke himself.

Through Kelly's TV reports, the whole U.S. gets caught up in the cattle drive saga-reality TV at its very best. Pike turns out to be a particularly vengeful foe that uses all his resources and contacts to keep Charlie from succeeding. Charley's outfit gets the cattle back to Juanita, Texas-but not without some unusual allies including a biker gang and the President of the United States.

Author Stephen Lodge is a veteran Hollywood screenwriter and actor, and it shows in the wonderfully visual style of this novel. Mr. Lodge takes you right into the middle of the action. The scenes move along at the clip of wild horses galloping across the prairie. In fact you wish he would slow down a little and spend more time describing the wonderful scenery and vistas they are traveling through. I would also have enjoyed learning more back-story about Charley's undoubtedly fascinating life and times.

If you loved the old west cattle drive novel (and TV movie) Lonesome Dove, you will love the vivid characters, warm relationships and fast-paced action of Steven Lodge's novel of the New West, Charley Sunday's Texas Outfit.

Reviewed by Brian Hill


Yahoo FareChase Launched

Yahoo has launched beta site FareChase is a travel search engine designed to assist users in finding airfairs, accommodation and car hire. Currently in test phase, Yahoo is collecting consumer feedback for further development.

Court Rules Geico can Sue Google & Overture -A district court in Virginia has ruled insurance giant, Geico, can sue Google and Overture for trademark infringements in search advertisements they have sold. The Aug. 25 decision by Judge Leonie Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia delivered a blow to the two Internet search giants in their efforts to defend ad sales of trademarks as fair use. It could also ultimately threaten their livelihood: Google and Overture make money by selling ads linked to keyword-triggered search results, and many commercially driven searches are tied to trademarked brands such as Geico or Nike. Judge Brinkema denied Google's and Overture's motion to dismiss six charges brought by Geico, which alleged the search companies' use of its name to trigger search-related advertisements was trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution of its marks under the Lanham Act.

Mag Research Reveals Newsstand Readers Younger, More Interested in Ads -Magazines that sell well on the newsstand have something new to crow about, and media planners may have some more incentive to pay attention to that "single copy sales" line on the Audit Bureau of Circulations pink sheets. A new study commissioned by Bauer Publishing USA finds that readers who buy magazines at the newsstand are younger, more interested in ads, and more prone to shop than readers of subscribed-to magazines. Among the study's findings were that newsstand buyers are: - Two times as likely to enjoy reading ads in magazines - 63 percent more likely to remember products advertised in magazines when they are shopping - 48 percent more likely to shop frequently - 50 percent more likely to buy things on the spur of the moment In addition, these readers are significantly younger; with an average age of 35.7 (15.3 years younger than subscribers). They are also 50 percent more likely to be female, more than five times as likely to be single, and more than twice as likely to be employed. Based on this group's apparent propensity to read and to shop, Ian Scott referred to the findings as "the holy grail" that marketers are looking for.

"THE NEXT GREAT CHAMP" CAME out swinging - but didn't hit anything. On its first airing Tuesday, the show's ratings lacked, well, punch. As bad as that sounds it's actually good news for Fox. If the show continues down this path, Fox will help disprove one longtime TV programming axiom -- that the first show in a new genre almost always wins. The Fox show debuted to flailing ratings -- only putting up a lightweight Nielsen Media Research 2.4 rating among adults 18-49. Wisecracking tigers on NBC's animated "Father of the Pride," from DreamWorks were able to best the show with a 4.3 among adults 18-49. (This is after "Pride' fell by 20% versus the prior week.) For DreamWorks, who is also producing "The Contender" with Mark Burnett for NBC, it's a snarky victory. Fox and DreamWorks ended up in court over the last several weeks with DreamWorks contending Fox stole its boxing show idea. DreamWorks lost. Fox then hurried the show to air even faster. What stories may have missed is that "The Next Great Champ" could be the first champ of its kind to quickly go to chump. It would be one of the rare examples in TV where the first show of a new genre fails to succeed, only to have the second show in, "The Contender," making the scorecard. Typically, when new TV formats come to fruition, the copycat programs lose out. For example, networks tried to take on CBS' "Survivor," such as with ABC's "I'm a Celebrity. Get me out of the here!" But that didn't survive. CBS tried to combat Fox's "American Idol" with a renewed "Star Search." But that show failed to muster any high notes. Through the years networks have tried to launch "Seinfeld" copies and "Friends" clones - all to failures. Irony? DreamsWorks didn't need a court ruling to stop a Fox failure. For its own part, Fox will prove what it has been saying all along. No one has a monopoly on ideas. Fox proved DreamWorks had nothing to worry about. Nice moral victory - but no honorable ratings. So, Fox. Next time, don't push another tomato can in the ring. Train hard, inhale the smelling salts, and break another program model.

Lifetime Runs Out Of Time -The announced shutdown of Lifetime magazine does not appear to have been met with a great deal of surprise or remorse in the ad buying community. Several media planners who spoke off the record indicated that the magazine had never really established a distinctive editorial voice. "There are too many women's magazines as it is--they really weren't doing anything different," one planner said. The problem with Lifetime, which was backed by Hearst and Disney, may have been that its print incarnation did not really reflect the personality of the popular network. Lifetime magazine mostly profiled celebrities and provided women's service stories--stories on great desserts and dieting--pieces that are not hard to find in the magazine universe. However, the Lifetime network's primary draw isn't service. Rather, its fans come for drama (shows like "Missing") and melodrama (movies starring either Melissa Gilbert or Meredith Baxter--usually titled "My Husband is Secretly Evil, and He Took Our Baby"). That's a difficult formula to translate to print. Cable networks can pull this sort of spin-off--see ESPN the Magazine. However, in that case, the magazine is at least about sports, just like the network.

TRAFFIC, AND JAMMING TOO -- The media industry loves to pitch its own wares as the best way to promote other people's products and brands, but when it comes to building traffic to themselves, they apparently prefer a medium that can, well, cause traffic jams. In recent weeks, trucks bearing the images and promotions of satellite radio networks and syndicated TV shows have been seen jamming the streets of major DMAs nationwide. The trucks, of course, are part of Asphalt Media, the roving outdoor media network that festoons ads on the sides of big rigs. In coming weeks, dozens of trucks will begin generating traffic in major cities on behalf of Buena Vista Television's "The Tony Danza Show," "Live with Regis & Kelly" and "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Others will be promoting the syndication launch of "Malcolm in the Middle," as well as a re-recording of the show's theme song by a hot new band. Personally, we're mighty fond of the "They Might Be Giants Take." But if you're fond of digital music beamed from the heavens, the ground-mover medium will also be promoting satellite radio network XM Radio.


DO YOU HAVE AN AMAZING ANIMATION TO SHOW? - Animex Screen is looking for new animations for cinema screenings at the Animex International Festival of Animation, January 31- February 4, 2005 in the U.K. For consideration, send your details, and a preview VHS or DVD to Animex Screen, School of Computing, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, Tees Valley, TS1 3BA, U.K. before October 1, 2004.

WBC IMMERSION PROGRAM SEPTEMBER 19-24 IN LOS ANGELES - Writers Boot Camp's Immersion Program helps writers go from idea to fully developed first draft in one month's time. Beginning September 19, 2004 in Los Angeles with a six-day intensive of instruction and creative support, Immersion provides practical, hands-on tools for solidifying a strong conceptual foundation on which to build a draft over the remainder of the course. An informative evening panel event featuring industry professionals complements the daytime program, and the inclusion of two script deadlines and two full conferences, one on the first draft and a second on the rewrite, takes projects a significant distance along the road to full development. Potent brainstorming tools that facilitate and help manage the conceptual- development process, extensive creative support and feedback, and the insight offered by the panel event makes Immersion a course like no other. Contact Kevin Jackson, LA Program Coordinator, at (800) 800- 1733 x325 or

Enter Canada's Coolest Film Festival -The National Screen Institute - Canada (NSI) is hosting the NSI FilmExchange Canadian Film Festival. NSI FilmExchange Canadian Film Festival is the largest established film festival featuring 100% Canadian feature and short films. The festival showcases some of the best short and feature-length films, industry forums and master classes, parties and free screenings on SnowScreen -- an outdoor movie screen carved out of snow. Approximately 5,000 people attended the festival in 2004. The market- driven programs have led to employment for NSI graduates by giving them a competitive edge - more than 80% of NSI graduates work in the industry. For more information, visit

Win Phone Pitch in Van Helsing Writing Contest - Visionary Cinema is hosting a VAN HELSING writing contest with a grand prize winner receiving a DVD set of the film and a special phone liasion and story submission with screenwriter and director Stephen Sommers. Ten other winners will receive a copy of the DVD. Entries must not exceed 2,500 words and must include Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. The contest will be judged by three literary specialists/writers. Hardcopies of the story must be submitted to VAN HELSING Writing Contest c/o Visionary Cinema P.O. Box 1722, Glendora, California 91740. The winner will be posted at
Van Helsing Writing Contest
World Wide Web
October 31, 2004
Deadline: September 30, 2004


Special Effects Artist - Paradigm Entertainment, Inc.

Job description: Keep the eyes POPPING!!! Make it look as realistic as possible!!! We need a special effects artist to do just that! To join us you need to have created some of the most breathtaking, realistic special effects for video games! Come work with passionate gamers who focus on making it look as slick and sexy as the gameplay is challenging and satisfying!

Primary responsibilities: Design and implement creative and realistic situation Create effects to include soft/rigid body dynaics, particles and shaders to simulate the effects of explosions, fire, fog, smoke, steam, rain, flowing water, etc. Also create natural phenomena such as hair/fur, cloth, etc. Follow concept art, storyboards, written descriptions, and scripts.

Requirements/skills: BFA in Art related field (Computer Animation, 3D modeling, Film, etc.) Minimum 5-6 years creating realistic and mesmerizing special effects for video games Expert level skills in 3D graphics, particle systems, dynamics, shaders Excellent working knowledge of art software tools (Maya/Alias, 3D studo Max, custom tools, etc.) Interested applicants should forward resume, demo reel and detailed credit list to:

Paradigm Entertainment, Inc.
1628 Valwood Pkwy
Suite 110
Carrollton, TX 75006
Resumes with demo reels will be given priority over those resumes that are received without a demo reel

Children's Story Submissions
Left Lane Cartoons

Job description: Unique opportunity for creators. Seeking three page black and white story submissions for children's comic. Will pay $75.00CAN for chosen entries.

Please see the following link for further info: email:

Creative Script Writer for Animated Shorts Future Thought Productions Pvt. Ltd

Job description: We are looking to work with creative writers with a flair for compelling humor - preferably with hands on experience writing for animated shorts, animated feature films, TV serials, web episodes or web shorts. We require cutting edge character concepts that would be a laugh riot on the web / TV. Writers should be very strong on conceptual skills and be able to write character briefs, characteristics, personality profiles, do's and don'ts and be able to build situational humor around these characters - compelling enough to get millions of forwards on the web with potential for television broadcast. Ability to think out of the box with a grip on global audience appeal will be ideal. Basically allow your imagination to run wild!!

Requirements/skills: We envision our shorts being around a minute or two minutes at the most in length. The shorter the better just as long as they are compelling and have the potential to get millions of forwards. We want to develop a character set and conceptualize premises or situational comedy around a selected character - So have 10 shorts developed around a particular character - almost like a mini series of sorts. Let me know if you can send us some example of humorous shorts you've written. This will help us judge your writing style. Only concepts that are selected will be paid for. characters could be human, could be inanimate objects brought to life, could be animals, could be nothing we've ever laid eyes on before, could be fantasy long as it mass appeal.

Department/division: Animated Shorts
Job starting date: October 2004

For more info write to:

featured news article

One of our reviewers and author Nancy Machlis Rechtman was recently interviewed by The Greenville News

-- Silent crisis: Writer tells of struggle with infertility

HAVE A SMILE ON US! - Prison VS. Work

Just in case you ever got the two mixed up, This should make things a bit more clear....

IN PRISON... you spend the majority of your time in an 8X10 cell.
AT WORK... you spend the majority of your time in a 6X8 cubicle.

IN PRISON... you get three meals a day.
AT WORK... you only get a break for one meal and you pay for it.

IN PRISON... you get time off for good behavior.
AT WORK... you get more work for good behavior.

IN PRISON... the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you.
AT WORK... you must carry around a security card and open all the doors for yourself.

IN PRISON... you can watch TV and play games.
AT WORK... you get fired for watching TV and playing games.

IN PRISON... you get your own toilet.
AT WORK... you have to share with some idiot who pees on the toilet.

IN PRISON... they allow your family and friends to visit.
AT WORK... you can't speak to your family.

IN PRISON... all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required.
AT WORK... you get to pay all the expenses to go to work and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

IN PRISON... you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out.
AT WORK... you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

IN PRISON... you must deal with sadistic wardens.
AT WORK... they are called managers.


Do you send us your news? We'd love to hear what's happening, big or small, domestic or international. Drop us a line!

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