Saturday, August 27, 2011

Disclosure in Cheney Memoir

In his new memoir, In My Time, former Vice President Dick Cheney talks about a letter of resignation that he wrote only two months into office. Worried about his health, he wrote the letter in March 2001 and locked in a safe. According to The Huffington Post: “I did it because I was concerned that — for a couple of reasons … One was my own health situation. The possibility that I might have a heart attack or a stroke that would be incapacitating. And, there is no mechanism for getting rid of a vice-president who can’t function.’”

The power of memoir is insight to better understand our world and make better decisions. For me, this affirms that what we hear and what is really happening can have little to do with each other. After Cheney wrote this letter, he told the public he had no concerns for his health. It also speaks to the importance he played in the Bush White House, which implies less than conviction that Bush could handle the responsibility alone.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse in the Broader Society

There is so much in the media this week about pedophilia and child rape. Since I am writing about instances of this in the Move, I've been pondering what drives it. My questions this morning were basically situation or interest? Warren Jeffs conviction this week of sexual abuse and rape of underage girls made me wonder if access made the monster. Corey Feldman's shocking assertions on Nightline that many child actors are abused by Hollywood "moguls" also made me wonder why, why, why?  Elissa Wall, the author of Stolen Innocence whose testimony helped convict Jeffs, cried on national television yesterday saying, "We have been screaming" for someone to listen to us. 

Would the Hollywood heavy hitters go out of their way to find children if they did not have the casting couch? Does the power drive the interest in some way? My naive questions led me to some illuminating answers. 

Child sexual abusers fall into two main categories;
  • Situational - does not prefer children, but offend under certain conditions.
    • Regressed - Typically has relationships with adults, but a stressor causes them to seek children as a substitute.
    • Morally Indiscriminate - All-around sexual deviant, who may commit other sexual offenses unrelated to children.
    • Naive/Inadequate - Often mentally disabled in some way, finds children less threatening.
  • Preferential - has true sexual interest in children.
    • Mysoped - Sadistic and violent, target strangers more often than acquaintances.
    • Fixated - Little or no activity with own age, described as an "overgrown child."

So, I'm guessing that most of the abusers in Hollywood and the Move are situational and regressed. Access does drive the behavior. Many Catholic priests would be preferential and fixated since their attraction seems mainly to be oriented toward children. According to recent news stories of Warren Jeffs' violence toward his nephew and niece, he is likely a preferential msyoped. Somehow, understanding this makes me feel safer as it is less random. 

I found this on wikipedia;


Early research in the 1970s and 80s began to classify offenders based on their motivations and traits. Groth and Birnbaum (1978) categorized child sexual offenders into two groups, "fixated" and "regressed."[106] Fixated were described as having a primary attraction to children, whereas regressed had largely maintained relationships with other adults, and were even married. This study also showed that adult sexual orientation was not related to the sex of the victim targeted, e.g. men who molested boys often had adult relationships with women.[106]
Later work (Holmes and Holmes, 2002) expanded on the types of offenders and their psychological profiles. They are divided thus:[107]
  • Situational - does not prefer children, but offend under certain conditions.
    • Regressed - Typically has relationships with adults, but a stressor causes them to seek children as a substitute.
    • Morally Indiscriminate - All-around sexual deviant, who may commit other sexual offenses unrelated to children.
    • Naive/Inadequate - Often mentally disabled in some way, finds children less threatening.
  • Preferential - has true sexual interest in children.
    • Mysoped - Sadistic and violent, target strangers more often than acquaintances.
    • Fixated - Little or no activity with own age, described as an "overgrown child."

    Offenses may be facilitated by cognitive distortions of the offender, such as minimization of the abuse, victim blaming, and excuses.[110]

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Class Action Suit Over eBooks Pricing

Apple and publishers being sued over what some say amounts to price fixing of eBooks.

This from Galley Cat;

Here’s more about the suit, from the law firm: “While free market forces would dictate that e-books would be cheaper than their hard-copy counterparts, considering lower production and distribution costs, the complaint shows that as a result of the agency model and alleged collusion, many e-books are more expensive than their hard-copy counterparts. According to the complaint, the prices of e-books have risen as much as 50 percent since the switch to an agency model.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Comment for Ross

So true and beautifully said. Knowing you it is clear how you came to have such an adventure in the pantry of an aging, worldly professor. It is also easy to see why she left you here library and art collection. Without your adventurous spirit a pice of local history would have been lost. Thank you for your partially inadervtent contribution.  

My computer won't let me comment in the appropriate section and I wasn't going to let a tech glitch stop me!

Brief Thoughts on Memoir Writing by Ross Elliott

Brief Thoughts on Memoir Writing
by Ross Eliot
As a writer immersed in the composition of a personal memoir, recovering the past has created unexpected puzzles.  Examination of diary entries from twelve years before sometimes depict events I can’t remember at all.  Others lie frozen in notebooks as my mind believes occurred, except arrayed in different order.  The static text of diary entries must be accurate, but why should I shuffle certain occurrences around in my head and delete others?  To write a literal account of what these notebooks contain feels like a betrayal of truth.  
But a memoir isn’t a diary, it’s much more than that.  The story of days gone by is always a mixture of faulty memories, skewed perceptions and yes, the scribbled entries in spiral bound notebooks.  For that reason my memoir is a liquor distilled from many ingredients.  I still possess friends and acquaintances who remember those times.  They verify incidents, discount others and add their own.  From all these sources I compose a text that is as real as I can make it, not falsified or fictionalized, but true in essence.
I am fortunate so many sources remain to assist in this project.  My writing is richer for it.    Unfortunately many authors have taken paths which broke the bounds of memoir and entered fantasy.  If a personal story is worth retelling, it shouldn’t require such measures.  A memoir writer should be creative enough to take the past and make it readable for exactly what it is.  Outside perspectives are an invaluable part of keeping on the right track.  If I can’t completely trust my memories, why should any single source be accurate?
Ross Eliot is best known as editor and publisher of the counterculture gun politics magazine American Gun Culture Report.  He is a writer and commercial fisherman who divides his time between Portland, Oregon and Sitka, Alaska.  The website for his memoir project is 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Phenomenon of Memoir

Francine Prose wrote a lovely description of memoir in the New York Times in 2005. As an introduction to a review for Jeanette Walls' Glass Castle, she explores the difficulty of balancing sympathy and realism in depictions of what amount to the villians in many true stories.  Prose is a readable as the book she recommends;

MEMOIRS are our modern fairy tales, the harrowing fables of the Brothers Grimm reimagined from the perspective of the plucky child who has, against all odds, evaded the fate of being chopped up, cooked and served to the family for dinner. What the memoir writer knows is what readers of Grimm intuit: the loving parent and the evil stepparent may in reality be the same person viewed at successive moments and in different lights. And so the autobiographer is faced with the daunting challenge of describing the narrow escape from being baked into gingerbread while at the same time attempting to understand, forgive and even love the witch.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Self Publishing Nets 6 Figure, Four Book Deal

Literary agents were not receptive to Louise Voss' Catch Your Death. So she priced the book at 95v cents and soon topped the charts.

This from Galley Cat;

The low price helped Voss’s book climb the Amazon charts. eBookNewser has more: “The eBook is currently No. 4 in the ‘Suspense’ category of the Kindle UK Store. According to the London Standard the book held the No. 1 position in the Kindle UK Store for the month of June where it sold 50,000 copies.”

Harper Fiction has now given her a 4 book deal. Good book meets good strategy. Here is a link to the story;

Livia Blackburne Says Novelists Shouldn't Blog

In Livia Blackburne's blog on writing, she argues that blogging is a waste of time for novelists but not memoirists. She explains that nonfiction writers share experise that fiction writers do not. It seems to me that memoir would fall somewhere in the middle. Telling a story whether fiction or not does not require the type of knowledge base necessary for science, photography, or history pieces. However, issues regarding memoir benefit from a bit of flushing out.

This from Galley Cat; 

In a recent blog post, writer and blogger Livia Blackburne explained why novelists shouldn’t devote too much time to their blog, declaring: “I think blogging is a waste of time.”
Below, we’ve collected three of her arguments from the essay. Blackburne (pictured, via) studies neuroscience at MIT and writes YA fantasy fiction in her spare time. She runs two blogs; one to study the art of writing and one for her academic career.
1. Blogging is better for nonfiction writers because they share their expertise for a specific audience; connecting with that audience could potentially help sales.
2. “Time spent on the blog is time spent away from something else: writing another book, contacting book clubs, taking a part-time job and investing that money in advertising or a publicist.”
3. Blogging novelist often focus on the art of writing instead of their own readers, creating “a never-ending writing conference.” While that helps in “forming friendships, professional development, and learning your craft,” it doesn’t necessarily boost book sales.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing What You Know- Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This debut novel was inspired by Diffenbaugh's experiences as a foster parent. It seems there is room for a category of the emerging novel/memoir.

Good Reads featured this recommendation of the Language of Flowers;

Vanessa Diffenbaugh Experienced foster mother Vanessa Diffenbaugh has two passions: writing and children in need of a home. Her debut novel, The Language of Flowers, introduces the character Victoria Jones on her 18th birthday. Orphaned as an infant, Victoria spends her childhood bouncing from place to place, never adopted fully by a family. Now she must strike out on her own as a legal adult, bolstered only by an affinity for plants and the Victorian "language of flowers," in which every bloom has a unique meaning.

Diffenbaugh opened her home to foster children in 2005, and over the years she has witnessed firsthand how children "age out" of the system at 18. With little access to support or services, 25 percent become homeless and 25 percent become incarcerated within the first two years. Diffenbaugh's novel shares her in-depth knowledge of a flawed system and her hopes for young people who have never known love or a stable living situation. The author shares with Goodreads a snapshot of her with her husband, PK, and their family.

The Diffenbaugh family: (from left to right) PK Diffenbaugh, Donavan Ford, Chela Diffenbaugh, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Tre'von Lyle, Sharon Higgins, and Miles Diffenbaugh (photo credit: Tre'von Johnson).
Goodreads: Who or what inspired the character of Victoria?

Vanessa Diffenbaugh: Though Victoria is entirely fictional, I did draw inspiration in bits and pieces from foster children I have known. One young woman in particular, whom my husband and I mentored many years ago, was fiery and focused and distrusting and unpredictable in a manner similar to Victoria. Her history was intense: a number on her birth certificate where a name should have been, more foster homes than she could count. Still, she was resilient, beautiful, smart, and funny. We loved her completely, and she did her best to sabotage it over and over again. To this day my husband and I regret that we couldn't find a way to connect with her and become the stable parents she deserved.