Sunday, January 30, 2011

For my husband

I have discovered a comfort in knowing that my husband is my best friend. He loves me absolutely and unconditionally, and that is a gift that should never be underestimated nor devalued. He knows everything about me, and he accepts me for who I am. No, he doesn’t just accept me – he likes me, respects me, and continues to choose to spend his life with me.

Terry and I have had some difficult times in our relatively short time together. But he never gave up on us. He never stopped loving me. He never stopped wanting me in his life. He threw me the rope that I chose to grasp onto.

I think it’s important for your spouse to be your best friend. I didn’t really “get” that for a long time. Now I do. Terry’s fun to hang out with. He’s generous and kind, and he’s got a great sense of humor. We have compatible – not identical, but compatible – tastes in TV shows, movies, music, and books, which give us fun things to do together and to talk about. Sometimes our politics mesh and sometimes they don’t, but that’s good for conversation too. He sounds like a friend, doesn’t he?

For a long time, I think I saw “husband” and “friend” as two separate entities. I just didn’t understand how many things are less difficult when you let your husband be your friend too. Terry’s my best friend, and, on top of that, he’s the love of my life.

When I see him walk in the door at the end of a day, or when my feet are resting in his lap at the other end of the couch; when he’s driving Tori and me to a school function or just to the mall, or when he’s teasing my mom, listening to my dad, or playing with my nephew, I see the man I said “yes” to five years ago. I see the man I love so much more today than I did even then. And I see the man that I want sitting beside me on our front porch when we’re retired and waiting on grandkids to visit.

I’m grateful. I’m blessed. I’m Terry’s wife, and I’m happy to say it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The Cove" will change the way you see dolphins forever.

There is footage in The Cove, the 2010 Oscar winner for Best Documentary, of a lagoon turning red with blood as dolphins are slaughtered. As I watched it, I thought about other movies I’d seen where seas bled and felt horrified as I reminded myself that this wasn’t being done with special effects – real blood turned that ocean red. Real animals were being slaughtered.

In Taiji, Japan, 23,000 dolphins are still slaughtered every year.

Why? Partly for money, but partly, some think, simply because they can. Because there is a national sense of pride – for those engaged in this enterprise – that they are doing something the West doesn’t want them to do. And they hide these activities with the help of corrupt police officers, politicians, and fishermen.

The filmmakers and the crew of The Cove had to enlist the expertise of former U.S. military personnel to infiltrate the forbidden area around the cove where the slaughters take place. They hired professional Hollywood prop makers to create “rocks” which hid high-definition cameras that the crew placed around the cove – risking personal safety under the cover of night – so that footage of the slaughters could be recorded. Award-winning free divers who have been fortunate enough to swim with dolphins in their natural habitat signed on to the mission and placed underwater sound devices in the cove, enabling us to hear the last cries of the dolphins.

Every dolphin show, dolphin encounter, and dolphinarium (did you know that was a word?) has to get their dolphins from somewhere. Many – if not most – of them get them from Taiji. The dolphins are herded into a lagoon from the ocean by scaring them with loud, clanging noises. From that lagoon, dolphin trainers come to pick out the ones they want and pay as much as $150,000 or more for each one. The rest are then herded into the cove, which is hidden from view, and slaughtered. The dead ones are sold for their meat for about $600 each.

Dolphin meat is very high in mercury. Food safety commissions recommend no more than 4 ppm (parts per million) of mercury in any serving of food. Dolphin meat from Taiji registers as high as 2,000 ppm. Who eats it? Many people (most of whom are Japanese, it would appear from the film) who purchase what they believe to be whale meat are actually buying dolphin meat. How is this allowed? Well, dolphins are little whales. Did you know that? I didn’t.

Most Japanese citizens don’t know about the slaughters in Taiji. When interviewed on the streets of Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, the citizens were shocked when told about the killing and the selling of the meat. They said it needed to stop. Ironically, at the end of the film, it is revealed that Hideki Moronuki, the man who was the chief of whaling for the Japanese Fisheries Agency had mercury poisoning.

Dolphins are amazing, beautiful, highly intelligent creatures. No one knows this better than Richard (Ric) O’Barry, the man who trained five dolphins in the 1960s to play the part of “Flipper” in the television show of the same name. “Flipper,” O’Barry feels, is one of the biggest reasons that dolphin shows and experiences are as popular and widespread as they are today. And no one regrets that now more than the man himself.

“I spent ten years building that industry up [i.e. capturing and training dolphins],” O’Barry says in the film, “and I spent the last thirty-five years trying to tear it down.”

After watching The Cove, I want to help him. I challenge you to do the same: Watch the movie (I did an instant view on Netflix) and then figure out a way to help him stop the slaughter.

For more information on the movie, click here or on my link above. For more general information, visit The Cove on Facebook, or the Save Japan Dolphins coalition.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Skins" - (sigh) more teen sex on TV

There has been a lot in the news lately about an American version of a British (scripted – not reality) show aimed at teenagers called “Skins.” It’s been on the air for two weeks with original presentations of new episodes aired on MTV on Monday nights at 10 p.m.

I first heard about “Skins” when I read an article this weekend in The New York Times that focused on whether or not the show – which shoots in Canada – crosses the line into child pornography. Evidently there was concern about Episode 3, which airs Jan. 31, which allegedly revealed teenagers in situations that could be considered pornographic. Many of the cast members of the scripted show are 18 years old, but some are only 17; one is as young as 15.

I wanted to watch the show before I commented on it, and I’ve now seen the first two episodes. It centers on a group of friends who seem to care about little else than sex, drugs, and drinking, all of which they engage in as often as they can – which includes school too. Most of the adults in the show are flawed, foolish caricatures of the stereotypical adults who inhabit the lives of urban teenagers.

MTV is losing sponsors for the show. Different news agencies report that Subway, GM, H&R Block, Wrigley, and Taco Bell have pulled their support because of pressure from the Parents Television Council. (H&R Block reps stated they never intended to sponsor the show in the first place, and their ads that ran during the first episode were mistakenly aired.)

My opinion on the show? It’s another vehicle to show teens gratuitous sex, as well as drug and alcohol abuse. The acting is dreadful. But what am I saying that’s new here? In other words, what is MTV doing that’s new here”? Television shows and movies that cater to teenage audiences often have sex, drugs, and alcohol as part of the content, if not at the center of it. “Gossip Girl,” anyone? “The Secret Life of the American Teenager?” Even the much-lauded, fun-to-sing-along-with “Glee” series has its share of teen sex scenes and issues. It’s out there, and that, I think is what I’m weary of.

There’s. So. Much. Of. It.

Did you think about sex when you were in middle school? I did. I’d bet you did too. It’s not a surprise, nor is it unusual (or even unhealthy) that our kids who are middle schoolers today think about it too. The thing is, there is so much out there on television – cable or network – that is available to them that shows them what it looks like to have sex – all kinds of sex. There’s so much out there that shows young teens drinking and doing drugs. Do all of these visuals egg our young teens on when it comes to engaging in activities that they really shouldn’t engage in? Do these images make those activities look so fun, so glamorous, and so cool, that they become irresistible?

I also wonder about what the younger teens are reading on their older friends’ Facebook and MySpace pages. When they read about older kids partying and having sex, does that make them want to do it more because they want to be older?

I’ve posed a lot of questions, I know. Here’s how I think I would answer them. I do think there is too much sex on TV – especially that which is aimed at our kids. I can’t change that, and honestly, I don’t want to be in the business of censoring what gets made.

What I do believe in is censoring what my kid sees and is exposed to in the home. My daughter is 17, so boundaries have grown and changed as she has, as I believe they should. But when she was in middle school and wanted to read the Gossip Girl series because her friends were reading it, I said no. She’s never read it. She didn’t watch the show when it came on TV.

The other thing I believe we can do at home to help offset our kids’ exposure to sex, etc., in the media is to talk to them – a lot – about all of these issues. They have to know they can come to us with questions. We have to be willing to ask questions of them and to do what we can to ensure we’re getting the whole story – the real truth in their answers. I’ve said it before – we have to be involved.

MTV defends its production and airing of “Skins,” saying they closely monitor each episode and the manner in which the issues are handled. They say they’re covered because the show is labeled “TV-MA” and never airs before 10 p.m. This label and this time-frame are supposed to keep young kids from watching the show. Yeah, right. My students are up until after midnight texting each other. Many of them have TVs in their rooms, as well as computers. (“Skins” episodes can be seen in their entirety on MTV’s website. All you have to do is tell the computer you’re 18 or older.) If they want to watch the show, MTV has done nothing to ensure they can’t watch it.

That job is ours.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Prescription drug research is not new for Uncle Sam

Have you read the article in The New York Times about the “new” institute Obama and the federal government have created called the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences? It’s going to have a $1 billion budget its first year of operation, and its reason for being is that private drug companies aren’t coming up with new prescription drugs fast enough, so the government wants this institute to do that.

This is a very complicated subject; one that I’m sure I won’t do justice to because the levels of it are almost unfathomable. However, there are a few things I know, a few things that made me go, “Huh?” when I read the story in the Times, and I will share those things with you.

First of all, it’s important to know that the National Institute of Health had a budget in 2010 of $31.2 billion. Almost all of that money – about 90 percent – is spent on basic science research in the form of grants to institutions of higher learning and its own labs in Bethesda. What is basic science? Basic science means finding the connection between A and B. It means identifying a single protein on a single gene. Why identify the protein? The hope is that with the protein identified, an enzyme produced by that protein will also be identified and then tied to some disease or another.

All of that research takes a long time (and millions and millions of dollars), and private companies generally don’t take part in it. What they do is they wait until something is discovered (by a federally funded institution) and then one way or another they get a hold of the research – through less than honorable means because the researcher didn’t patent his discovery in time, or they bring the researcher on board, enticing him away from academia. Either way, the private company makes use of the millions of dollars the federal government has invested.

My first point being, this announcement of this new center makes it sound as though Obama’s administration is just now getting involved in the research for and manufacturing of prescription drugs. That is soooooo not the case. The federal government has been funding drug research for more than 80 years.

My second point has to do with genetic patents. When the Human Genome Project revealed the sequencing of our DNA, there was a gold rush by many private companies to identify and then patent genes (there are 30,000 of them) as well as the proteins produced by the genes (there are about 300,000 of those). These patents were issued – by the FDA – without anyone knowing really what any of those genes and proteins did. It was simply, “I found it. I claim it. Because, by God, if there’s any money to be made off of it, I want my chunk.” Well, those patents last 20 years.

New drugs can’t be discovered before the basic science of the genes and proteins are understood. Who owns a bulk of the patents that have been issued? Private companies. Who does (or funds) the majority of the basic science behind new drugs? You do. I do. The federal government does. Are they talking to each other? They don’t like to.

My last point, which I guess just sums up what I’ve been talking about, is that this new center (IMHO) isn’t needed. In order to get this center up and running by October, one of NIH’s existing institutions has to be eliminated. The government is aiming that arrow at the National Center for Research Resources. Over 1,000 people have commented on a complaint blog about this closure, and many (if not most) of them are doctors and researchers who have benefited from grants issued by the NCRR and who wish for their research to continue, even if the NCRR is dismantled. The NCRR’s annual budget for 2010 was $1.308 billion. The administration plans to transfer some of its functions to the new center. Does that mean some of its budget will go to the new center as well? Will we continue to fund the research being done by the NCRR to the tune of $1 billion-plus as well as the new $1 billion budget for the new center?

My biggest problem with the whole thing is that Obama’s administration is putting this new center out there as something that’s never been done before – the government’s finally getting into the search for new prescription drugs! – and that’s malarkey. I’m also confounded by what is actually going to take place at this new center. And I’m fearful that it’s just more money being taken from our pockets to fund things already being done, to pay people to do jobs other people are doing. More government, but nothing more to show for it.

I learned a lot about this from reading a book for my freelance job called The $800 Million Pill. If you’re interested in learning more about how private drug companies benefit from publically-funded research, about how it’s another bit of malarkey when the drug companies tell you they have to charge excessive amounts of money for their medicines to help fund further research, pick up that book. It’s very scientifically written, but it’s an eye-opener.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Julian Hurley shouldn't have died.

WARNING: Rant ahead! I don’t intend to be politically correct or worry about people’s feelings. I’m getting on a soapbox.

In my job, I come across children every now and then who seem to belong to parents who really don’t want the job they signed up for when Tab A inserted itself into Slot B and a zygote resulted. Being a parent comes with multiple responsibilities, none of which require you to be your child’s friend.

Some of us are blessed with amazing relationships with our kids, but those relationships did not grow as a result of being friends. They grew because we taught them values, accountability, and respect. They grew because we let them know we believe in them, because we support them, because they know we have expectations for them and want them to have expectations and goals for themselves. They grew because we covered all of it in love – love when they’re adorable and sweet, and love when they’re difficult and challenging. We are the constants in their lives. They have to know we’re there, that every day we are going to show up for work – the work of being their mom or their dad.

We need to be involved. We need to put our kids first because that’s what the job requires. We need to know who their friends are, where they are spending their time, if they’re doing their homework, and if they’re not – why aren’t they? We need to just plain talk to them – make sure we know them as people. What are their hopes, their dreams, their fears? We need to offer guidance and strength, discipline and boundaries. And we need to be people our kids can look up to - people they want to emulate. We need to live good lives.

We don’t get a do-over when it comes to raising our kids, just ask Rhonda Hurley.

Hurley was released from the LaPorte County Jail on Monday – too late to save the life of her 4-year-old son, Julian. When she went to jail in September for welfare fraud, she left her 7-year-old son and Julian in the care of Jimmy Isbell, a man she said she’d known for twenty years. According to police, it appears as though Isbell had been abusing Julian for days – beating the little boy with his hands and his belt – until Julian died from his injuries on Friday. The older brother has been placed in a foster home. The oldest of Hurley son’s – an 8-year-old – lives with his father.

Hurley has told reporters she feels horrible. Julian’s grandmother is heartbroken. Yeah, I’m sure they are. The death of a child always makes us sad.

But what about a child’s life? Why didn’t the life that Julian was living – being forced to live because of the actions of his mother – make anybody sad enough to do something when it could have made a difference for that little boy?

Our children are our greatest gifts and responsibilities – for as long as our lungs breathe the God-given air. If you don’t know who your children’s friends are – find out. If you don’t know where your children are spending their time – find out. If your child is struggling in school, talk to them, to us at the school, about it.

Learn the word “no.” They don’t have to have everything they ask for. They don’t need to get to do everything they want to. “No” isn’t always easy, but sometimes it’s essential.

And for your children’s sake, if you’re doing something that could get you thrown in jail, stop it. Your kids need you – in every sense of the word – whether they’ll admit or not.

God knows, Julian Hurley deserved much better than he got in his four brief years on Earth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Olive Kitteridge: Pulitzer Prize winner yes, but not my favorite book

There are lots of reasons that cause me to pick up a book to read – probably many are the same reasons you choose one book over another, why one continually draws you into the bookstore, your fingers tracing the title on the spine, yet you leave it languishing on the shelf as some newer title calls to you. Maybe you think, as I do, “I’ll come back to you, I promise, but I HAVE to read this other one NOW.” (If you ever see me talking to myself in Barnes & Noble, this is the conversation I’m having . I’m not trying to dissuade the aliens from beaming me up – I promise.)

This tug-of-war is what happened with me and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Published more than two years ago – going on three now, actually – I read a review when it was released and thought it sounded intriguing. I’d never heard of Strout. (Make of that what you will – she won a Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge.) Maybe my unfamiliarity with her work made it easier for me to ignore Olive when new books by some of my favorite authors called to me. I know there were multiple times that I had Olive in my hands – and in my cart at Amazon – but failed to purchase it. Until I got my Kindle. The Kindle version is very reasonably priced, so I figured if I didn’t like the book, or Strout’s style, I wasn’t out the price of a traditional book. If Olive turned out to be one I wanted to hold onto, I’d go ahead and buy a hard copy after finishing the Kindle version.

Well, I’m not buying the hard copy.

That’s not to say I didn’t like the book. Overall, I guess I did. Olive Kitteridge was a well-constructed, cantankerous character that I won’t soon forget. At times I pitied those around her who were subject to her insensitivities, but more often than not, I pitied her.

What I wish I had known before I read the book is that many of the chapters in it were previously published as short stories. Had I known that, I would have been less surprised (and aggravated) when characters were introduced for a chapter and then never heard from again. I like books that have characters that I feel as if I know personally, characters that I miss when I finish the book. How can you get to know someone in a single chapter? The answer is – at least for me – I can’t.

All of the stories/chapters in the book are connected through Olive, which is a cool vehicle for the story. I just wish that I had gotten to spend more time with some of the minor characters, and maybe not gotten to know some of the others at all. Olive is basically the same brusque, cold woman regardless of whom she’s interacting with. I did appreciate the difficulties she struggled with inside herself. I pitied her when she felt abandoned by her son, yet angry at her when she wasted her husband’s love. I’ll remember Olive. But that’s about all I’m taking with me from this book.

Many criticisms of the book describe the literary value of Strout’s style and how well she explores human themes throughout all of the stories, even if they’re brief explorations of those themes of loss, grief, love, desire. I agree. She does that well. That’s just not why I tend to pick up a book and read it for pleasure.

So, now you know what you’re getting into if you pick up Olive Kitteridge. If you do read it, or if you have read it, I’d love to hear your take on it. I feel like a numbskull saying I’m disappointed in a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. But darn it, I really was.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Preventing teen pregnancies - by paying them?

So, if Tori had an older sister who’d gotten pregnant as a teenager, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about how to fund her college education. There’s a program for that. It’s called College Bound Sisters, and the program pays its participants seven dollars a week (plus another five dollars a week for transportation costs) to attend a meeting – providing, of course, they show up unfertilized.

Girls can begin attending when they’re twelve years old and can remain part of the program until they graduate from high school. Using simple math, if a girl begins in the program as a 12-year-old preteen, she’ll be earning $364 each year which totals (by graduation) somewhere between $2,100 and $2,500, depending on when her birthday falls. If she makes it to graduation without getting pregnant – successful completion of the program – then College Bound Sisters doubles the amount in her account for her to use toward college expenses. That’s not chump change, and I’m not even factoring in the $5 weekly allowance for transportation.

This is a North Carolina program and is funded by a grant from that state’s Department of Health and Human Services as well as anonymous donors (according to their website). I suppose there’s an argument somewhere in here about spending tax dollars in prevention of pregnancy versus care for dependent children. However, I’m not going to delve into that muddy pit.

My interests – concerns – lie elsewhere.

As my peers and I discussed during our lunch today (because of a video on Channel One), no one paid us not to get pregnant when we were teenagers. Our mothers put the fear of God in us, and believe me, there was no money changing hands.

Why is money the only way to motivate these girls into wanting more for themselves, into wanting to make a better life than their sisters are living? Why isn’t it possible to teach them about character and values?

I’m not na├»ve. I teach teenagers and I know they’re having sex – much younger than you would probably believe. It’s scary as hell. But I still don’t believe bribing them is the answer. They should want to have protected sex – if they can’t or won’t abstain – because it’s the best choice for them and their future children. Using birth control should not have a paycheck attached to it.

There has to be a better way.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail - Book Review

There’s a great little store in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, called The Day Hiker. It’s in the middle of the Parkway, in a conglomeration of stores called The Village Shops. Tori and I like to visit it each time we’re in the Smokies because they have the best assortment of hiking-oriented T-shirts. (They also stock a lot of good hiking gear.) One of our favorite tees has, as its message, “I’ve hiked the entire width of the Appalachian Trail.” We haven’t bought that one yet, but I have a feeling we will one of these days. It makes us giggle.

Laughter aside, though, hiking the AT is something I’ve wondered about for several years – basically for as long as Tori and I have been visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and hiked many of its trails. We’ve bumped up against it on some of our hikes and exchanged fleeting comments like, “We should do that one of these days.” Yeah, we should. Or should we?

The AT is more than 2,170 miles long, with its end points at Springer Mountain in Georgia and Katahdin in Maine. It touches fourteen states and climbs as high as 6,625 feet at Clingmans Dome in Tennessee. According to The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, it takes 5 million footsteps and anywhere from five to seven months to complete a thru-hike. Imagine that – five to seven months basically on your own in the wilderness.

Last night I finished AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller, a man who completed a thru-hike of the AT in less than five months in 2003. He was in a job that didn’t satisfy him, so he walked away from it – with the consent of what I consider his saintly wife – and headed north from Georgia. His book about his adventure is mesmerizing. I don’t know if you have to be a fan of hiking to enjoy it or not, because I happen to be one. What I do know is that Miller does a phenomenal job of taking his readers on a virtual hike of the AT.

Through his descriptions of the trail and his willingness to share his personal thoughts, dreams, disappointments, and his longing at times for his wife and his children, he provides what has to be an incredibly accurate depiction of what it’s like to undertake a thru-hike. He encounters more than 20 bears, countless snakes, and at least one moose. His knee gives him trouble in the beginning, a blister on his foot becomes infected and costs him a few days off the trail, and he sprains his ankle, which costs him another several more “zero” days off the AT.

But he enjoys the solitude, the sights that he sees as he walks, and he allows the experience to settle inside him. Along the way he befriends many other thru-hikers and enjoys getting to know them and bumping into them again and again as they make their individual ways along the trail. Miller describes “trail magic” and is the beneficiary of it many times along the trail. Now that I understand what it is, I’m going to be sure and pack some extra goodies in our cooler when we head out again to Newfound Gap or Clingmans Dome. Maybe we’ll get to meet and talk to one of these intriguing people who commit themselves to this endeavor.

As for me, I don’t know if I could ever be a true thru-hiker. I don’t know if I could really cut myself off from my family – my life – for that long. I don’t know if I could get used to going for days and days without a shower. But I’d like to leave it open as a possibility. Maybe I’ll be a section hiker – cut the AT into pieces and hike it over the course of a number of visits and many years. I think I could picture myself doing that.

I also know that I’m grateful the Appalachian Trail exists and that people are still dedicated to taking care of it. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Miller’s book: “We spend an inordinate amount of time indoors, and the physical confinement limits the metaphorical bubble of our aspirations. Large rooms, like the vaulted interior of a church, are uplifting. Outdoors, we are free to reach for the sky.”

I intend to keep reaching.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I like my Kindle - What's up with that?

My husband dragged me, kicking and screaming, into the eReader era and bought me a Kindle for Christmas. When he told me about two weeks before Christmas that he'd bought me a gift I wasn't going to like when I opened it but that I would come to love it, I knew what he'd done. And, a week after opening the gift, I can tell you he was pretty much right.

If you've read my profile, or you know anything about me at all, you know that I aspire to publish a book some day. I've written two (that are now collecting dust in a box somewhere in my house), and I'm about a third of the way through my third. This newest one has a lot of promise – I have an agent that wants to read it when it's done – so believe me, I want people to continue to buy traditionally-bound books. I want to walk into a bookstore and see my book on a shelf for sale.

But it's more than this narcissistic side of me that was reticent to try an eReader. I'm a book lover. I like to have them around. I like to see them on my shelves – old friends that I loved spending time with and may visit again and new ones that I can't wait to get to know. I like their weight in my hands, turning pages in anticipation of what will happen next. That part of me won't go away and won't stop buying books. (In fact, I bought two over Christmas break – Joe's Hill's 20th CENTURY GHOSTS, and Christopher Moore's FOOL: A NOVEL.)

In addition to those two trade paperbacks, though, I also bought three eBooks: MOONLIGHT MILE by Dennis Lehane, AWOL ON THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL by David Miller, and OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout. MOONLIGHT MILE was the first one I tried on my Kindle, and I read it in a few days over break (review forthcoming). At first, the device felt like an alien in my hands. My memories, however, locked on quickly to the continuation of the Amanda McCready story – I had missed Patrick and Angie tremendously – so that part of the experience felt familiar and good. But what was this piece of hardware in my hands? What was up with turning pages by clicking a button? It was truly a strange experience, reading with my Kindle. And then, without even my own realization, it wasn't anymore.

Somewhere between learning that Patrick and Angie now have a daughter and that Amanda McCready went missing again, (remember – review forthcoming) I forgot that I was reading with a Kindle and simply READ. The device became insignificant in terms of enjoying the book. I was reading a good book, and, as usual with a good book, I got lost in the story, the characters came alive, and I sighed when it was over, just as I would have if I had been holding a book in my hands. I wanted more, but even the Kindle couldn't do that kind of magic for me.

When it's all said and done, really, isn't that what we as authors and readers hope for – a story that leaves the audience wanting just a little bit more? So, I'm going to keep writing and just count myself blessed if I ever have to wonder which format of my book will sell best - the electronic one, or the hardback. I doubt that I'll care.