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Friday, February 27, 2015

Writing Quote: Is Investigative Journalism In Its Golden Age?

     The news about news is often grim. Newspapers are shrinking, folding up, or being cut loose by their parent companies. Layoffs are up and staffs are down. That investigative reporter who covered the state capitol--she's not there anymore. Newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune have suffered from multiple rounds of layoffs over the years…But despite a long run of journalistic tough times, the loss of advertising dollars, and the challenge of the Internet, there's been a blossoming of investigative journalism across the globe from Honduras to Myanmar, New Zealand to Indonesia.

     Woodward and Bernstein may be a fading memory in this country, but journalist with names largely unknown in the U.S…are breaking one blockbuster story after another, exposing corrupt government officials and their crony corporate pals in Azerbaijan, Angola, and Costa Rica…

     "We are in a golden age of investigative journalism," says Sheila Coronel. And she should know. Now the academic dean at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Coronel was the director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, whose coverage of the real estate holdings of former President Joseph Estrada--including identical houses built for his mistresses--contributed to his removal from office in 2001.

     There are, to take another example, the halcyon days for watchdog journalism in Brazil. In October 2013, at an investigative journalism conference there organized by the Global Journalism Investigative Network, there were 1,350 attendees.

Anya Schiffrin, salon.com, August 31, 2014 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Florida Cop Might Be Charged With Abuse of Homeless Man

     Authorities in Fort Lauderdale are considering filing criminal charges against an officer who was videotaped pushing and slapping a homeless man at a bus terminal. The incident happened on February 23, 2015 and the video soon surfaced on YouTube. Officer Victor Ramirez, a nine-year veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, has been suspended without pay.

     The video shows the officer holding the man's arm, then pushing him to the ground. The officer tells the man to get up and slaps him in the face. Police identified the man as Bruce Laclair. Laclair has been charged with trespassing.

     Police Chief Frank Adderley said that in addition to looking at possible charges against the officer, the agency will review its use-of-force policy. [Why? Surely every cop with a brain knows that you don't go around pushing and slapping people for the hell of it.]

"In Video, Officer Pushes, Slaps Man at Florida Bus Terminal," ABC News, February 25, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Arrest Counterterrorism Official With State Department For Soliciting Sex With A Minor

     A senior State Department official in charge of counterterrorism programs was arrested after allegedly soliciting sex from a minor. Daniel A. Rosen, who is the State Department's director of counterterrorism programs and policy, was arrested on a charge of using a communications device to solicit a juvenile. Investigators believe Rosen, 44, had been communicating online with a female detective from a police child exploitation unit posing as a minor. Officers arrested him at his home and transported him to a Washington, D.C. jail.

     According to Rosen's Linkedin page, he is responsible, at the State Department, for all "strategic planning, policy planning, program and budget planning and oversight, and legislative relations and interaction" associated with the agency's counterterrorism program.

"Senior State Dept. Official Accused Of Soliciting Sex From Minor," UPI, February 25, 2015 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Sex Offenders Are Being Murdered In California's State Prison System

     California state prisoners are killed at a rate that is double the national average--and sex offenders account for a disproportionate number of victims, according to an Associated Press analysis of correction records.

     Male sex offenders made up about 15 percent of the prison population but accounted for nearly 30 percent of homicide victims, the AP found in cataloging all 78 killings officials reported since 2007…The deaths--23 out of 78--came despite the state's creation more than a decade ago of special housing units to protect the most vulnerable inmates, including sex offenders, often marked men because of the nature of their crimes. In some cases they have been killed among the general population, and in others, within the special units by violence-prone cellmates. Correction officials acknowledge that those units, places that also house inmates trying to quit gangs, have spawned their own gangs.

    Officials blamed a rise in the prison homicide rate on a state corrections system overhaul meant to reduce crowding. As part of the effort, California in 2011 began keeping lower-level offenders in county lockups, leaving the prisons with a higher percentage of sex offenders and gang members…

     The problem is most acute with sex offenders. In the fall of 2014, the corrections department inspector general reported that so many homicides occurred in the "increasingly violent" special housing units reserved for vulnerable inmates that the department could no longer assume that inmates there could peacefully co-exist.

"Many Sex Offenders Killed By Inmates in California Prisons," Associated Press, February 17, 2015

Writing Quote: Horror, The Least Literary Branch Of Speculative Fiction

For awhile now, so-called "literary" and "genre" fiction have been moving from outright opposition to a cautious rapprochement. Literary writers such as Jonathan Lethem, Donna Tatt and Michael Chabon increasingly deploy tropes and images from genre, while genre writers have upped their stakes considerably in terms of complexity, moral resonance and style. Sophie Hannah, Josh Bazell and Denise Mina have reinvented crime fiction; Charles Yu, Iain M. Banks and M. John Harrison have given a literary uplift to science fiction; while China Mieville, Jeff VanderMeer and Kelly Link have done the same for fantasy. But horror--the third aspect of "speculative fiction"--has had markedly less success in this regard.

Stuart Kelly, The Guardian, November 7, 2012 

Writing Quote: Charles Bukowski On Magazine Publishers

I've followed this writing game a long time. Strange thing. Take a guy who has been editing a magazine. You see him published here and there. Then he decides to stop publishing his mag and devote himself to his "art." He then vanishes and is never heard from. He's no longer there to play you publish me and I'll publish you. And this happens as well with the magazines of more expensive format and a larger readership. What the hell does this tell you?

Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Country Boy Version Of Citizens Arrest

     A police manhunt in northern Idaho for an escaped person with a history of violent crime came to an end on February 19, 2015 when a homeowner shot and wounded the fugitive. Roy Beiluch escaped from the Shoshone County Jail two days before while on cleaning duty. He entered a crawl space through the ceiling of a utility room and made his way to the jail lobby. The 48-year-old was aided by a female accomplice who was taken into custody a day after the escape.

      Bieluch, in custody since December 2014 on charges of burglary, malicious injury to property and petty theft, wound up at the home of a man living outside of Wallace, Idaho, a town of about 800 people.

     Shortly after five-thirty on the evening of February 19, the homeowner responded to his dog's wild barking. Armed with a handgun he went out to see what was disturbing his dog. That's when he confronted the jail escapee. The homeowner called 911 and ordered Bieluch not to move. The fugitive instead moved toward the homeowner who opened fire, hitting the intruder in the leg.

     According to the authorities, Bieluch has ties to the white supremacist group Aryan Nation. Officers who took him into custody transported the escapee to a nearby hospital….

Chuck Ross, "Armed Idaho Homeowner Ends Manhunt," The Daily Caller, February 20, 2015


Writing Quote: Science Fiction Writers Know Their Genre

     Writers of science fiction are, first and foremost, voracious readers, and they're often very savvy about the genre they work in. Whereas most literary writers have only the barest conception of where their work fits in the current publishing milieu. This is because many of them have been studying classic literature.

     The literary divisions are a little clearer within genre fiction--to an almost laughable degree (hence paranormal young adult romance, alternative historical fantasy, "furry" fiction, and virtually everything ending in the suffix-punk). But despite the fact that the differences between various types of literary fiction are more subtle, it behooves anyone serious about publishing to get savvy about them…

     The more knowledgeable you are about the imaginative space you're working in, the less likely you are to reinvent the wheel, and the more likely you are to get a handle on who your readers are and what they like.

Susan Defreitas, litreactor.com, September 24, 2014 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Writing Quote: Ray Bradbury Called Himself A Fantasy Writer

     Ray Bradbury's rocket ships were not souped-up fighter jets. Instead, they were the latter-day descendent of Joseph Conrad's sailing ships: You traveled on them not so much to encounter adventures as to think about what the encounter might mean. His Mars was not an arid red desert, it was filled with towns where old ladies puttered around on the same kinds of charming but pointless errands little old lades do in Marcel Proust's Cambray…


     One way to sum up Ray Bradbury is to notice that he is just about the only American science fiction writer to claim, proudly, the label "fantasy" for his books. Fahrenheit 451 was his only real science fiction novel, he said. You might even locate him in a middle ground between the best American fantasy literature and the hyper-masculine world of Astounding Science Fiction. 

John Plotz, slate.com, June 6, 2012
      

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Mob of Teens Storm Theater Showing "50 Shades of Gray"

     Orange County, Florida deputies were trying to figure out why hundreds of teenagers suddenly rushed into the movie theater at the West Oaks Mall in Ocoee Saturday night, February 14, 2015. As many as 900 kids, described as middle school and high school-aged, attempted to rush the theater at once…Nearly 300 of them were able to get into the theater before the security gates were closed.

     Jessica Weckerly and her husband were in the theater when they heard hundreds of kids stampeding into the place…Several fights broke out before police officers from several agencies brought the situation under control.

     At one point during the chaos, someone fired a gun into the air out in the mall parking lot where a person was robbed. Officers at the scene recovered a stolen car that contained drugs…One juvenile was arrested for battery and resisting an officer without violence. A second kid was arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge.

"Arrests Made After Hundreds of Teens Cause Riot at Florida Movie Theater," palmbeachpost.com, February 15, 2015  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bad Times At "The New York Times"

I have witnessed some fraught moments at The New York Times. Jayson Blair was a friend of mine. [Fired from The Times in 2003, Blair fabricated quotes from people he'd never met.] I watched Howell Raines fly into a mountain at very close distance. I saw the newspaper almost tip over when the print business plunged and the company had to borrow money at exorbitant rates from a Mexican billionaire.

David Carr, The Independent, February 13, 2015 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Brent Taff: One Bad Dude

     A kidnapping suspect accused of threatening the judge overseeing his case faced new assault charges after he attacked a deputy during a failed escape attempt at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport…Brent Taff, 37, was being escorted from Utah to Oklahoma to face assault charges for verbal threats against the judge and others, when he made his bid for freedom during a layover Friday February 13, 2015 in Dallas…Taff told his deputy escorts that he needed to use the restroom and then attacked the deputy sheriff who took him inside.

     The officer's head was injured in the ensuing struggle, but he managed to shoot Taff in the hand before the other deputy and airport security captured Taff as he tried to flee the restroom…Investigators are trying to determine if the deputy had taken off the handcuffs to allow Taff  to use the facility.

     Taff was initially accused of stalking, kidnapping and domestic assault as well as violations of protective orders. Taff, of Sapula, Oklahoma, was free on bond when the authorities arrested him in Utah after he made threats against a prosecutor, his ex-wife, and the judge. After his escape attempt in Dallas, he was charged with assault on a public servant and escape causing bodily injury.

"Kidnap Suspect Faces Assault Charges in Texas Failed Escape," Associated Press, February 14, 2015 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Truck Thief Shot To Death In Civilian Chase

     Two brothers chased down suspects who stole their pickup truck from their driveway in Houston, Texas on February 8, 2015, killing the man driving the vehicle and triggering an investigation into whether they took the law into their own hands…The brothers, ages 23 and 30…were taken to the police station for questioning.

     A police spokesperson told reporters that "the Harris County Sheriff's Office never encourages anyone to chase down suspected criminals. We want civilians to dial 911 and let us handle it. Things can otherwise go tragically wrong. Innocent bystanders can be killed by stray bullets or crashing vehicles."..

     Once the homicide investigation has been completed, the case will be submitted to a Harris County grand jury for review…

     The brothers were inside their home at one in the morning on Sunday when they heard the truck alarm go off. They rushed outside to find men stealing their truck. They confronted a man inside their vehicle as well as two accomplices in a tan Chevy Suburban…

     The brothers retrieved their guns from inside their house, jumped into a Mustang and began pursuing the truck thieves. They chased them for about two miles, while dialing 911, until the brothers said they noticed one of the two men in the Suburban pointing a gun toward them. The brothers said they fired at the Suburban and the stolen truck, striking the driver of the pickup in the chest. He lost control of the vehicle and crashed in the parking lot of an Office Depot store…The driver of the stolen truck died at the scene. The men in the Suburban drove off….

"Sheriff's Office Investigates Brothers Who Killed Suspected Truck Thief," chron.com, February 8, 2015

     

Writing Quote: It Hasn't Always Been So Hard To Get A Short Story Published

I suspect that things were much easier back when I was starting out. Editors were actually writing to young short story writers asking if they had manuscripts! It's occurred to me that if I were an unpublished young writer right now, I might very well have to stay unpublished.

Anne Tyler in The Best American Short Stories, edited by Anne Tyler, 1983 

Writing Quote: Latin American Journalism

In my journalistic writing, I purposefully blend information, observation, analysis, and my own reactions to the material. I tell stories, because stories allow us to think wholeheartedly, to truly understand. The greatest Latin American novelists, such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, began as journalists. That experience has contributed to the literary school of Latin American journalism that is better written and contains much more emotional content than U.S. journalism.

Alma Guillermoprieto in Telling The Story, Telling The Truth, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, 2007 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: San Diego TV Sports Anchor Shot

     A San Diego television sportscaster was shot and wounded outside his home…Kyle Kraska, sports director and anchor for CBS affiliate KFMB-TV, was shot in the leg and stomach in the wealthy Scripps Ranch area of the city on Tuesday afternoon February 10, 2015. He is expected to recover from his wounds.

     Six hours after the assault, 54-year-old Mike Montana surrendered after a SWAT team surrounded a residence in El Cajon northeast of San Diego…Police said Montana had driven from the shooting scene in a white minivan with the logo "Superior Painting" on its side. The owner of the firm in San Diego said the van did not belong to his company and that he didn't know Montana…

     Kraska, a Boston native, appears on evening broadcasts and hosts the station's San Diego Chargers postgame show. He has worked at the station since 1999 and has been its sports anchor since 2003….

"Suspect Surrenders in Shooting of San Diego TV Sportscaster," ABC News, February 11, 2015 

Writing Quote: Getting Published in Children's Magazines

     Children's magazines are a great place for unpublished Children's writers and illustrators to break into the market. Writers, illustrators and photographers alike my find it easier to get book assignments if they have tearsheets from magazines. Having magazine work under your belt shows you're professional and have experience working with editors and art directors and meeting deadlines.

     But magazines aren't merely a breaking-in-point. Writing, illustration and photo assignments for magazines let you see your work in print quickly, and the magazine market can offer steady work and regular paychecks. Book authors and illustrators may have to wait a year or two before receiving royalties from a project. The magazine market is also a good place to use research material that didn't make it into a book project you're working on. You may even work on a magazine idea that blossoms into a book project.

Chuck Sambuchino in Children Writer's And Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Woman Invaded Fox Anchor's Home and Demanded Car

     On Monday afternoon February 9, 2015, a female intruder walked into the Millcreek, Utah home of Kerri Cronk and her family and demanded a car. Kerri Cronk, an anchor on Fox Network's "Good Day Utah" in Salt Lake City, was taking a nap during the home invasion…

     Tate Cronk, 15, heard the front door open and said he thought his brother had come home. When he didn't hear any noise, he sensed something was wrong. "It was really silent so I stood up and looked and just saw her standing there," he said. Seconds later, Kerri's husband Kevin realized what was going on. "She was telling me that she was being chased, some people were trying to kill her and she wanted a car," Kevin Cronk said…

     The suspect was holding a metal prying device, similar to a crowbar. It can be seen in her hand in the cellphone video captured by the 15-year-old. "After like 15 seconds she actually yelled for me to turn it off," Tate Cronk said.

     "She was aggressive and seemed either on drugs or maybe mentally not stable," the father added. "She actually said if you don't give me a car I'm going to kill you." Kevin and Tate Cronk complied with he demand. The woman drove off in the family's white Honda Pilot…

     Police described the suspect as a white female in her early 20s, about five-foot-tall with piercings on her nose and face.

"Police Respond To Aggravated Robbery At Home of Fox 13 Anchor," Fox News, February 9, 2015, 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Whackademia Quote: What Students Think Of Male Versus Female Professors

     Male professors are brilliant, awesome and knowledgeable. Woman professors are bossy and annoying, and beautiful or ugly. These are a few of the results from a new interactive chart that was gaining notice on social media Friday February 6, 2015. Benjamin Schmidt, a Northeastern University history professor, says he built the chart using data from 14 million student reviews on the Rate My Professors web site. It allows you to search for any word to see how often it appeared in reviews and how it broke down by gender and deportment.

     The chart makes vivid unconscious biases. The implications go well beyond professors and college students, to anyone who gives or receives feedback or performance reviews. It suggests people tend to think more highly of men than women in professional settings, praise men for the same things they criticize women for, and are more likely to focus on a woman's appearance or personality and on a man's skills and intelligence…

     Studies have also shown that students can be biased against female professors. In one, teachers graded and returned papers to students at the exact same time, but when asked to rate their promptness, students gave female professors lower scores than men….

Claire Cain Miller, "Is the Professor Bossy or Brilliant? Much Depends on Gender," The New York Times, February 6, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Police Shoot Car Thief After Wild Chase

     A gunman driving a stolen car led police on a wild chase on roads and freeways east of Los Angeles, smashing into other cars and veering through oncoming traffic before he stole a second car at gunpoint and ran down a crowded street before Los Angeles police opened fire and wounded him...

     Officers shot the man as he tried to steal another car. They handcuffed him and placed him into an ambulance that took him to a hospital.

     The chase began at five in the evening on February 8, 2015 with officers answering a report of a car stolen east of downtown Los Angeles. The stolen Toyota spend through South Gate and other cities southeast of LA. It zoomed through traffic, sometimes going the wrong way, and struck cars at least four times before it was unable to continue…

     The suspect jumped out of the disabled vehicle and stole another car. That vehicle raced along Interstate 710 and state Route 60 with eight patrol cars in pursuit. The car finally veered onto an offramp and onto a Montebello Street where it became wedged between two other vehicles in traffic. The car thief jumped out and pulled open the door of a stopped SUV as police chased him. He tried to stop anther car that took off before pursuing officers took him down….

"Cars Crumpled, Woman Carjacked in Wild Los Angeles Police Chase," miamiherald.com, February 10, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: Did Wife Killer Drew Peterson Try To Have A Prosecutor Murdered?

     Convicted murderer Drew Peterson, on February 9, 2015, stood accused of attempting to have the state's attorney of Will County, Illinois killed. Peterson, a former police sergeant, was charged with one count of solicitation of murder-for-hire in connection with a plot the authorities believe he planned between September 2013 and December 2014 against State's Attorney James Glasgow.

     Glasgow prosecuted Peterson in 2012 for the murder of his second wife, Kathleen Savio who was found dead in a dry bathtub in 2004. Her death was originally ruled an accidental drowning, but after the disappearance of Peterson's third wife in 2007, Savio's body was exhumed and her death reclassified as a criminal homicide.

     Peterson is serving a 38-year prison sentence at the Menard Correctional Facility…A prison spokesperson said he has been moved to a restricted area of the facility that offers more security.

"Drew Peterson Accused in Murder-For-Hire Plot," ksdk.com, February 10, 2015 

Writing Quote: Quotes in Pieces of Journalism

Thousands of editors have told thousands of reporters that quotes will add essential liveliness to a story, and at the same time help cover your posterior: If someone else provides the information, you don't have to stand by it. Yet as tempting as thet can be, after-the-fact quotes are anti-literary. They can take the reader away from the moment in question in some vague and indeterminate present in which the quote is uttered. They take the journalist away from his or her voice. And they take away from the writing the deep-down appeal of once-upon-a-time storytelling. Compare: "I knew I had to get out of there," said firefighter Ken Jones with Jones knew he had to get out of there. The first is boilerplate; the second, a cobblestone in the road to art.

Ben Yogoda, The Sound On The Page, 2004 

Writing Quote: Children's Book Illustrators' Blogs

For aspiring children's picture book illustrators, a blog is the best free tool you have to break into children's book publishing today. With proper blogging, you can demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge, and a desire to illustrate picture books. Blogs are unique in that they allow art directors, editors, and agents the opportunity to see your work. The art you post lets visitors see what and how you illustrate--but it is the writing that gives insight on your thought process, your personality, and ultimately a peek into the kinds of projects you would like to work on in the future.

Teresa Kietlinski in Children's Writer's And Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Some Native Americans Want To Get Into The Marijuana Business

     The Department of Justice granted American Indian tribes the autonomy to grow and sell marijuana on their lands in 2014. Many tribes exhibited caution because of chronic drug and alcohol abuse, but more than 100 tribes [out of about 500] have shown interest  in pursuing manufacturing operations in order to gain financial independence.

     The Pinoleville Pomo Nation in California announced plans for a massive $10 million, 2.5 acre facility to produce medical marijuana…What makes marijuana production particularly lucrative is that tribes might be able to avoid the incredibly high taxes placed on marijuana by states with legal marijuana like Colorado or Washington…

     Dissenting voices from the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) cited an increase in the potency of marijuana over the past few decades as just one of the reasons why it opposes legalization at all levels of government. The NCAI is worried that the already high rates of drug abuse among American Indians, compared to other ethnicities, will skyrocket if tribes begin to produce marijuana, leading to a "reduction of IQ, mental illness, poor learning outcomes, lung damage, and addiction."…

"American Indian Tribes Look Into Multi-Million Dollar Marijuana Production," The Daily Caller, February 3, 2015  

Criminal Justice Quote: Girl Scout Hit By Random Drive-By Gunfire

     A 9-year-old girl who was selling Girl Scout cookies was shot in Indianapolis, Indiana. Sinai Miller was with her two younger sisters not far from their home when someone in a car that drove by fired shots in their direction. She was struck in the leg and taken to the hospital in stable condition, returning home later that day…

     Police responded to the victim's apartment complex at four-thirty in the afternoon of February 3, 2015 to investigate reports of the shooting. Witnesses said they saw someone stick their arm out of a SUV and shoot a handgun into the group of children…Investigators didn't believe the victim was targeted by the gunman. They were looking for a blue Ford Expedition….

"9-Year-Old Girl Shot in Indianapolis Selling Girl Scout Cookies," natmonitor.com, February 2, 2015

     

Writing Quote: Point Of View in Children's Books

This is not a hard and fast rule, but generally younger children's books are written with a single point of view. This means the story is told through the eyes and thoughts of the main character. Don't tell the reader the thoughts or feelings of any character except through their speech and actions. [No internal monologues.]

Bethany Robers, bethanyroberts.com, 2001

Writing Quote: Your Short Story Rejected? No Big Deal, Write Another One

Many writers begin their careers with short fiction, gradually working toward novels as their skills increase and they gain confidence in their ability to handle plot and characterization. A novel requires, at the very least, several months to write, and if it is rejected by publishers, the blow to your ego may be severe enough to discourage further effort. A short story can be completed in a single evening (I've written them in an hour), and if the story fails to gain acceptance with an editor, no great emotional harm is done in terms of rejection. You just go ahead and write another.

William E. Nolan, How To Write Horror Fiction, 1990 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It Is Illegal To Sell Synthetic Urine

     An Ohio man who sold fake urine and other products meant to help people pass workplace drug tests pleaded guilty on February 2, 2015 before a federal judge…David Neal, 61, of Middletown, Ohio, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and the introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce…

     According to the Assistant United States Attorney, Neal sold the illegal substances online beginning in 2006 through his company, ACS Herbal Tea. Some of Neal's products, including "Magnum Unisex Synthetic Urine" and "Urine Luck," were designed to thwart tests overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

     Such drug tests are used by the U.S. Department of Transportation to screen airline pilots, truck drivers and train engineer, as well as other government employees such as FBI agents…Undercover agents bought some of Neal's products in 2010 and 2012 as part of an investigation into his company…

     Neal could face up to six years in prison and a fine of $350,000.

"Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Fake Urine For Drug Tests," Associated Press, February 4, 2015 

Criminal Justice Quote: High School Mother Denies Bomb Threat

     The mother of a high school student pleaded not guilty on February 6, 2015 to charges she threatened to blow up her daughter's school over a failed exam…Karen Shearon, 48 of Staten Island, New York, denied making the call…The judge freed her on $1,000 bail on the charge of second-degree misdemeanor aggravated harassment….

     Shearon allegedly threatened a guidance counselor at Susan Wagner High School on February 4 after she received a call that her daughter had failed a Regents exam. Students in New York state have to pass the Regents exam to graduate from high school.

"Mom Allegedly Threatens To Blow Up School," Associated Press, February 7, 2015 

Writing Quote: Child-Test Your Children's Manuscript

I have always child-tested my books. I go into classrooms to read my manuscripts to boys and girls before they go to the publisher. I accept children's criticisms and enjoy their comments.

Mary Garelick in Pauses, editied by Lee Bennett Hopkins, 1995 

Writing Quote: Reviewing a Friend's Novel

It is extremely painful to write just what you think about your contemporaries' work, when you are meeting them every day at the club, or at some party. Where personal relations are involved, it is almost impossible to be impartial, because being disagreeably "fair" about the work of a friend does give one a feeling of betrayal. Sooner or later one decides never to review the works of one's friends.

Stephen Spender in Opinions and Perspectives, edited by Francis Brown, 1964 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Writing Quote: Romance Novels Are Principally About Relationships

Relationship is what drives the romance story. Whatever plot there is, whatever outside influences there are, it is all about who these people are and what they're going to bring to each other.

Nora Roberts, Writer's Digest, June 2001 

Writing Quote: Jonathan Franzen On Being a "Good" Novelist

When I was younger, the main struggle was to be a "good writer." Now, I more or less take my writing for granted, although that doesn't mean I always write well.

Jonathan Franzen, Paris Review, Winter 2010 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ex-TV Actor Arrested For Murder

     A former star of the "Power Rangers" TV series has been arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing his roommate with a sword. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office officials said 36-year-old Ricardo Medina was jailed Sunday February 2, 2015 in the death of Joshua Sutter.

     Investigators said that Medina and Sutter got into an argument Saturday afternoon in Medina's Palmdale apartment that turned into a fight. Medina reportedly retreated to his bedroom with his girlfriend, but when Sutter forced his way into the room, Medina grabbed a sword he kept near the door and stabbed his roommate in the abdomen. He then called 911 for medical assistance.

     Medina played the Red Ranger on "Power Rangers Wild Force" in 2002 and later played Deker on "Power Rangers Samurai."

"Actor Arrested in Fatal Sword Attack in Southern California," Associated Press, February 2, 2015 

Writing Quote: Novelists Don't Like Each Other

My theory is that novelists don't much like each other. Their relationships with each other are too complicated. I can't understand how two writers can be married to each other any more than I can fathom how two actors can be. It seems to me that the more contact writers have with other writers, the more vitriolic they are on the subject of one another. If a writer is only known from afar, through his or her written word or an occasional meeting at a writers' conference, the observations about that person are more restrained. It is daily contact, like stone rubbing stone, that most often produces sparks.

James Charlton, Fighting Words, 1994 

Writing Quote: Truman Capote's Problem

I can go three or four months without having a drink. And then suddenly I'm walking down the street and I feel that I'm going to die, that I can't put one foot in front of the other unless I have a drink. So I step into a bar. Someone who's not an alcoholic couldn't understand. But suddenly I feel so tired. I've had this problem with alcoholism for about fifteen years. I've gone to hospitals, I tried Anatabuse, I've done everything. But nothing seems to work.

Truman Capote in Capote by Gerald Clarke, 1988 

Writing Quote: William Gibson On Science Fiction

It seemed to me that midcentury mainstream American science fiction had often been triumphalist and militaristic, a sort of folk propaganda for American exceptionalism. I was tired of America-is-the-future, the world as a white monoculture, the protagonist as a good guy from the middle class or above. I wanted more elbow room. I wanted to make room for antiheroes.

William Gibson, Paris Review, Summer 2011 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Ex-NFL Player Warren Sapp Arrested

     Police arrested Warren Sapp on one count of solicitation of a prostitute and two counts of assault in Phoenix, Arizona Monday morning February 2, 2015. He was taken into custody in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix around seven in the morning. This was not Sapp's first arrest. He was arrested for domestic battery in 2010 and again in 2014…He was in Phoenix covering the Super Bowl for NFL Network.

     Sapp, age 42, played 13 seasons in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. He was indicted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013….[Perhaps more importantly, he was once a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars."]

"Former NFLer Warren Sapp Arrested For Soliciting Prostitute, Assault," The Daily Caller, February 2, 2015 

Writing Quote: The Novelist's Delusion

We are not geniuses, most of us who write novels, but we are, many of us, people who have chosen to live the surrogate life of the imagination. We have, perhaps, settled for that state which Wallace Stevens speaks of. "The final belief," he said, "is to believe in a fiction which you know to be a fiction, there being nothing else."

Brian Moore in The Agony And The Ego, edited by Clare Boylan, 1994 

Writing Quote: Novelist Jeffrey Eugenides' Work Schedule

I try to work every day. I start around ten in the morning and write until dinnertime, most days. Sometimes it's not productive, and there's a lot of downtime. Sometimes I fall asleep in my chair, but I feel that if I'm in the room all day, something's going to get done. I treat it like a desk job.

Jeffrey Eugenides, Paris Review, Winter 2011 

Writing Quote: Ursula K. Le Guin On The Science Fiction Genre

I don't think science fiction is a good name for it, but it's the name that we've got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I get prickly and combative is if I'm just called a sci-fi writer. I'm not. I'm a novelist and poet. Don't shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don't fit, because I'm all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Paris Review, Fall 2013 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Criminal Justice Quote: Authorities Doing Poor Job Of Protecting Children

     Laws intended to protect children from abuse and neglect are not being properly enforced, and the federal government is to blame. That's according to a study by the Children's Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law. Children are suffering as a result.

     The numbers are grim. Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died…The Institute conducted a three-year study and found that not one state had met all of the minimum child welfare standards set by the federal government. These standards include such things as timely investigation of reports of child abuse. The Institute blamed Congress and the courts for failing to get involved…

     There's a broad agreement among those involved in child welfare that the system is in desperate need of repair. Agencies are underfunded and caseworkers are often overwhelmed…State and local officials complain that they spend too much time filling out federal forms and trying to meet requirements that aren't necessarily best for children…

"Child Abuse And Neglect Laws Aren't Being Enforced, Report Finds," kplu.org, February 1, 2015

Writing Quote: Romance Novels Made Into Movies

Every romance novel I've seen that's been turned into a movie has been terrible. I'm not sure why Hollywood can't get it right, but they can't, and I don't want to watch one of my babies get destroyed.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips in The Making of a Bestseller, by Brian Hill and Dee Power, 2005 

Writing Quote: Isaac Asimov's Isolation From Life

I'm egocentric in the sense that I live inside my own head most of the time, and I'm fascinated by my own thoughts. Nothing has ever happened to me in any real sense. I haven't met famous people. I haven't been involved in world-shaking events. I haven't done unusual things like climb Mount Everest. I've led a very quiet life.

Isaac Asimov in The Writer as Celebrity, edited by Maralyn Lois Polak, 1986 

Writing Quote: Inserting Backstory in Young Adult Novels

Too much backstory kills a children's book by slowing the pace to a crawl. This is especially deadly in a young adult novel, where pacing is generally faster than in adult books.

Ricki Schultz in Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, edited by Chuck Sambuchino, 2013 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Writing Quote: Should Aspiring Novelists Be Discouraged?

I think aspiring novelists need as much discouragement as we can muster. Nobody should undertake the life of a fiction writer--so monetarily unrewarding, so maddeningly beset by career vagaries--who has any other choice in the matter. Learn a trade! Flannery O'Connor said it best: "People are always asking me if the university stifles writers. I reply that it hasn't stifled enough of them."

Gerald Howard in Advice To Writers, edited by Jon Winokur, 1999

Writing Quote: Ray Bradbury's Short Story Production

I've written about 2,000 short stories; I've only published about 300 and I feel I am still learning. Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great novelist, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.

Ray Bradbury in On Being a Writer, edited by Bill Strickland, 1989 

Writing Quote: John Updike On His Literary Productivity

I don't feel very rapid or prolific to myself. Looking back on the alleged 50 books that I've written, many of them are quite short, some are children's books, some are collections of material that appear in other books, so in a way it's a fraudulent appearance of muchness. Some of the books are sequels, which again is a kind of cheating.

John Updike in Writer's Handbook, edited by Elfrieda Abbe, 2002 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Academic Literary Critics

The literary thesis writers are after me. They demand that I have some sort of "plan" to my work. Actually, I write without calculation. If you write in a complicated way, you can't think you mustn't write in the complicated way because it encourages academics who would be better occupied ranking leaves.

John Fowles in People, Books & Book People, edited by David W. McCullough, 1981 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hellementary Education Quote: The Texas Elementary School Underwear Check

     A community is united in outrage in Gustine, Texas after 25 fourth and fifth graders, on January 26, 2015, were told to pull down their pants for an underwear inspection after feces had been discovered on the gym floor. A male staff member checked the boys and a female school employee checked the girls for soiled underpants…

     The school superintendent placed the two staff members on administrative leave while he investigated the incident…With a population of 457, just about everybody in Gustine knew what happened at the elementary school that day...

     School administrators said they didn't know about the searches in advance. If they had, they would not have approved….

"Grade School Students Forced to Drop Pants," myfoxphilly.com, January 29, 2015

     

Criminal Justice Quote: American Actor Caught Secretly Video Taping Women in Canadian Condo

     An American actor living in Toronto, Canada has been arrested on voyeurism charges…Jean-Paul Manoux, also known as J. P. Manoux, was arrested on Tuesday January 28, 2015…Two women in their mid-twenties had rented a condo from the actor…The women alerted the authorities when they discovered hidden cameras and video equipment connected to the Internet…

     The actor had rented out this condo before, therefore police believe there may be other victims. The 45-year-old Manoux is a U.S. citizen, but a permanent resident of Canada. He works in both countries…He's a busy actor, but largely in smaller parts, with more than 140 films and television credits….

"American Actor Arrested on Voyeurism Charges in Canada," CNN, January 28, 2015 

Writing Quote: Anais Nin's Diary/Autobiography

The edited diaries of Anais Nin were set down spontaneously as natural diaries, but when Nin chose to publish them, she want back and edited and rewrote from the perspective of a later point in time. Although overlooked, Nin's importance is in creating a new hybrid literary form, something between diary and autobiography.

Tristine Rainer, The New Diary, 1978 

Writing Quote: A Good Short Story Is Harder To Write Than A Good Novel

     When I sit down to write a new piece, I find myself more apprehensive about the idea of writing a short story than embarking on a new novel. A novel doesn't rush me. It gives me time and room to feel out what the story is about…

     Short stories are not like that. It takes little skill to ramble on and on and put all you mind's wanderings out there for the world to see. But try turning a page into three sentences, or three minutes of verbosities into a 30-second spiel. It takes effort to transfer great meaning to small places…

     Short stories are like messages in bottles. They are adventures wrapped up in small packages.

Justin C. Key, scribophile.com, April 15, 2010