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Yellow Springs creative agency hosts December writers event

In Books, crafts, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Uncategorized on November 27, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Yellow Springs, OH – The Yellow Springs creative strategy firm, The Bricks Agency, will host the next session of the Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) at 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 8 at the company’s headquarters complex at 888 Dayton Street. This writing workshop and critique session is open to all area writers for a $6 door fee that includes a one-month membership to the organization.

12523171_10153637326689342_7047777894206660975_n The WOWA was founded in October of 2008 to provide resources for writers in Southwest Ohio, North Eastern Kentucky and South West Indiana. From monthly critique sessions and guest speaker presentations to special networking and educational events, WOWA offers support to writers of all genres, from hobbyist to professional.

Dayton area entrepreneur and business writer, Gery L. Deer, is the Executive Director of the Western Ohio Writers Association. “Our organization offers honest critique, peer support and networking opportunities as well as real-life experience to help guide our writers toward whatever goal they’ve got in mind,” he said. Annual events include guest speakers, author workshops, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) support and more.

“We have a diverse group of writers including novelists, poets, journalists, screenwriters, and copywriters,” Deer continued. “We’ve launched a few up-and-coming professionally published novelists over the years and all of them credit our group as a major factor in that success.”

According to Deer, the goal of WOWA is to offer, “consistent educational and networking

The monthly critique session of WOWA will be held in Yellow Springs at 7PM, Thursday, December 8.

The monthly critique session of WOWA will be held in Yellow Springs at 7PM, Thursday, December 8.

opportunities” for all members. They enjoy a regular schedule and professional, supportive meeting environment along with other membership perks such as sponsor discounts and access to special events such as the Beatnik Café, a quarterly live public reading.

The Bricks Agency is a creative subsidiary of DMS ink. Western Ohio Writers Association is an educational outreach program DBA of GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. designed to encourage the success of local writers in the art and business of writing. For more information or to register for the December Yellow Springs meeting, go online to westernohiowriters.org or email wowainprint@gmail.com.

 

Stories, the tapestry of our lives

In Dayton Ohio News, Health, Literature, Opinion, Uncategorized on November 9, 2016 at 9:35 am

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines
DIH LOGOLong before man learned to put pen to paper, stories kept the history of human kind. Passed down from generation to generation, our stories weave the tapestry of who we are as a people, the perils and the promise, the struggles and successes.

One might think in this modern age of nonstop information, digital data and wearable technology, that we would have abandoned the need for sharing stories verbally. Thankfully, I’ve learned not only that the practice is alive and well, but also takes place often in the most unlikely places.

Recently I was privileged to attend a storytelling event hosted by my friend Michael. For more than two decades, he and some of his closest friends have gathered each year to share stories of all kinds.

Painting by Albert Anker

Painting by Albert Anker

Everyone brings a snack or beverage to share and gather, goodies in hand, to lose themselves in the tales spun by each reader.  Those chosen to read take, in turn, the “reader’s chair” to share aloud an original story or a piece by a favorite author.

I’ve both hosted and attended author readings before. But I’ve never been to something like this. But there is no formal group or organization involved here. There is no religious or political agenda – something I found beyond refreshing.

The entire evening is focused, not the quality of the writing or the impact of the stories, but the fellowship and common interest of long time friends and new acquaintances. It was the modern day equivalent of a tribe sitting around a campfire.

What I was most impressed by was everyone’s level of attention, respect and admiration for the person in the reader’s chair. This was not something people were compelled to attend. There was no work obligation or social requirement.

And, while some of us who were there are writers, most were not. Add to that such a variety of people who really had only one thing in common – our host. One person whose circle of friends combined for this single purpose, a couple of hours of distance between us and the chaos of the world outside.

The stories chosen were also captivating, not as much because of the tales being told but the teller. Each reader had his or her own, individual style, some more animated, others more calm and quiet. To say it was entertaining would be an understatement.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that in our “immediate” society, it was really nice to calm down, relax and just be there, in the moment, among friends and new acquaintances.

You know what else? No one was looking at their smart phone or any other kind of screen for a couple of hours! Sure people checked for texts once in a while from the sitter or verified the ringer was off. But, for just a little while, no one was nose-down into a glowing box.

It might sound corny to some people but there’s something great about the disconnection from the outside to connect with the in. That’s saying something since socializing is not my strong suit. I’ve never been that comfortable at social gatherings, always feeling awkward and out of place, but not this time.

Everyone was engaged and welcoming in this setting, with no hidden agendas, no ulterior motives, no business maneuvering. This was just some great people getting together to enjoy an evening of calm, thoughtful writing.

Yes, it’s probably a bit nerdy and may sound pretentious to some people. But, I can assure you it wasn’t. If anything, it gave me a break from the hustle bustle of the week and I got to see my friend Michael in a different environment, something we should all try to do from time to time.

Sharing stories creates our history and weaves our society together and we need to remember that it started with two people communicating with each other – directly, person to person. Try it sometime. You might just find you have more in common with those around you than you may have thought. And thanks again to Michael and his storytellers.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the Deer In Headlines podcast at MyGreeneRadio.com.

 

 

A short discussion of time.

In Entertainment, history, Literature, Opinion, psychology, Religion, Science, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on January 12, 2015 at 12:51 pm

DIH LOGOTime is a concept, at least on Earth, unique to humans. No other creature has a sense of time nor do they seem to miss it. When deprived of its constant ticking, however, humans do indeed miss it – sometimes to the point of madness. People can go insane without the ability to follow the hands around the clock, chasing them as if to pursue food or shelter.

But time simply doesn’t exist. With all due respect to clock makers and the people who force you wait incredulously for an hour after arriving on punctually for a doctor’s appointment, time has no basis in reality; none, whatsoever. Oh sure, early man followed the sun up and down and watched moon phases to generate a calendar with which he soon began measuring the march of days. But he (figurative “he,” not intended to slight the fairer sex) is the only creature on the planet that has done so.

Contrary to the beliefs of theoretical physicists and science fiction fans, the “space-time continuum” is, for lack of a better word, hooey. Time travel will never be possible, forward or backward, regardless of whether one climbs into a souped-up DeLorean or a Frigidaire. It’s just impossible to physically move through a “concept.”

GLD_DIH_JAN15_TIMEThe great physicist, Albert Einstein, couldn’t have said it better when he theorized that time was relative to the position of the spectator. Time exists only in a single instant and even then only in the mind of the observer. There is no yesterday; no tomorrow. Man has no future and no past.

“History,” as it is referred to, is merely the recorded experience of one onlooker in a particular moment, captured in human memories, cave paintings, crayon, photos, writings, and now selfies. One cannot pass to and fro through history and every moment is affected by whom or whatever is present at that instant, without exception; otherwise referred to as “causality.”

For creatures with such a self-confident understanding of the passage of time, human beings certainly spend a great deal of it wastefully, ignoring the precious moments that can never be revisited or repeated. Mankind can be so caught up in his own affairs that important lessons whiz right by his primate-anchored brain cells, forcing him to forget to learn from his recorded past.

In youth, human beings tend to feel, somewhat accurately, that time is endless. In fact, since it is nothing more than a concept, time is endless, but the lifetime of the person is what turns out to be far more limited.

Young people burn up their early years in the ridiculous pursuit of high school glory, good grades, the first of a string of hopeless romantic partnerships, and, eventually, trying to get into the latest night spot by claiming to be older. Sadly, none of these efforts generally result in a fortunate use of time, mostly ending in yet another suitcase on the ever overstuffed baggage cart of life.

As the cart grows, letting go of some of that baggage is something with which humans have an incredibly difficult time. Resolving the past often requires thousands of dollars and hours on the analysts couch, but to no end. Life is cumulative, but time isn’t.

Eventually, humans created machines to measure time’s conceptual passing. Clocks are designed to offer a graduated visual representation of the passage of conceptual time based originally on the movements of the sun. In reality, it was the movement of the earth that was being marked.

Clocks and calendars are man’s way of trying to wrangle time to behave the way he wants it to. The fact is, since he created the idea of time, he has had complete control of it all along but never realized it.

Whether it’s being measured or not life goes on. Human beings would be far happier if they spent less time wallowing in the past or worrying about the future.

As hair turns grey and bones go brittle, the clock continues to tick down the conceptual passage of time. But real or not, the most important thing anyone can do is try to appreciate that one, amazing, wondrous moment of time within which everyone exists.

 

The Jamestown Comet.com Publisher / Editor Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

 

WOWA’s Beatnik Cafe, “Here Be Dragons,” Jan 16 at Books & Co.

In Books, Children and Family, crafts, Dayton Ohio News, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, State News, Theatre, Uncategorized on January 5, 2015 at 9:50 am
Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Graphic design by Michael Martin.

Beavercreek, OH – Once upon a time, sailors threatened to hang their captains from the yard arm if they ventured beyond a certain point in the sea. Venturing out into the unknown is something about which writers are far too familiar. At 7PM on Friday January 16, authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association will perform their own original tales of uncharted territory at their Winter 2015 Beatnik Cafe event at Books & Co. at The Greene. This quarter’s theme is, “Here be dragons, stories of adventure, exploration and uncharted territory.”

The WOWA Beatnik Cafe reading is a quarterly presentation that pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Performing original work, each writer will take the mic to dazzle audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what. The event is free and open to the public.

Jamestown writer, Barbara Deer, is the co-founder of the organization. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” she says. “The Beatnik Café offers the public a chance for a glimpse at some of the most talented writers in the region as they showcase their work, in person, to entertain and enlighten.”

“Our group consists of professional and hobbyist writers, all of whom check their egos at the door,” Deer continues. “All are willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

600_376854182Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly workshops, critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

About to embark on its seventh year, WOWA members definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Loconeal Publishing (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Communications. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to http://www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Watch the Video Interview from October’s Beatnik with co-founder Barbara Deer on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

WOWA-LD_MASKS_SCREENSHOT

 

It’s not what you read, but why.

In Books, Children and Family, Literature, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on August 11, 2014 at 12:10 pm

DIH LOGOAs a professional writer, and the executive director of the Western Ohio Writers Association, I am often asked what books I read or what I’d recommend to someone. But, over the years, I’ve learned that it’s not so much what you read that’s as important as why you’re reading it. Let me try to explain.

For example, it would be pretty short-sighted to read bestselling novels simply because they made the list, rather than because of their actual content. Just because a book or movie is popular, particularly with critics, by no means guarantees its quality.

The same could be said of reading only one genre or restricting your choices to only a couple of authors. Science fiction buffs, for instance, might really enjoy a good political thriller – I know I do – but rarely does one give the other a chance.

I tend to go take risks on books or lesser known writers. Since I work with so many unknown authors, I have the advantage of being exposed to material you’ll probably never see listed in the New York Times but which is still of outstanding quality and entertainment value.

I tend to ignore online reviews considering, instead, the recommendations of friends or family. A great many reviews today are pretty unreliable since they’re often paid for by the book’s publisher, or even the author, to boost the book’s visibility and increase sales.

"Flights of Fancy" is an anthology of stories set in southwest Ohio by local authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association. It will hit shelves in mid-April 2013 and features local talent and production.

“Flights of Fiction” is an anthology of stories set in southwest Ohio by local authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association. Click the cover art to order!

Local authors are also a favorite of mine and I’m always surprised at how people rarely give them a chance until they’ve hit the big time, as if they’re not good enough yet – nonsense. Remember, talented writing does not require residence in a high-rise loft in Manhattan. Helping a new writer break ground is part of my job, but I also enjoy having a connection with the author. Even if you don’t know the individual, however, chances are you’ll have a greater appreciation for their work if they’re from your hometown.

The format of the book is also less important to me than the content. I like e-readers like Kindle Fire and Nook because they make reading convenient, but I still buy hardbacks when I want to collect a book or have it autographed.

So, having said all of this, I will break my rule and answer those questions for you, starting with my favorite author: Douglas Adams, the British author of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” series of novels. I’ve always loved Adams’ satirical style of storytelling and his ability to say precisely what everyone else is thinking but won’t speak aloud. You don’t have to be a science fiction buff or a fan of Monty Python to enjoy his work.

If I had to pick a periodical I read regularly, it’d probably be split between “The Writer,” a magazine for – you guessed it – writers; and “The New York Times.” As a former editor and long-running op-ed writer, I enjoy reading the work of my fellow columnists. It’s interesting to see all of our different approaches to the same subjects.

Lastly, here is a list of books I’d recommend. I won’t say why I’m recommending them, however, because that would spoil the reader’s personal discovery of their value.

In bestselling fiction I can recommend, “Hit Man,” by Lawrence Block, as well as “Camel Club,” “Simple Genius” and “Stone Cold,” all by David Baldacci. If you’re looking for work by local authors, I suggest “Pretty Girl 13,” by Liz Coley, and “Flights of Fiction,” an anthology of stories set in and around the Dayton region by member authors of the Western Ohio Writers Association. For non-fiction I would propose “Lucky Man: A Memoir,” by Michael J. Fox; “I Will Never Forget,” by Elaine C. Pereira, and “The Art of War,” by Sun Tzu.

There you have it. My recommendations, at least up to this point. There are others I could suggest but these are the top of the list. So put down the video game, turn off the TV and pick up a good book. See you in the library stacks!

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and executive director of the Western Ohio Writers Association. More at westernohiowriters.org.

 

 

Improving American language skills: Reading and writing are fundamental

In Books, Children and Family, Education, Literature, Local News, Opinion, Technology, Uncategorized on June 30, 2014 at 3:53 pm

dih-logo-SENext to the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence may be the single most important document ever created in the history of America. It established our country’s formal separation from England and set in motion more than two centuries of global influence and an example of how a free republic can succeed.

But what would have happened if the men who founded our country lacked the basic language skills to create that first, all-important document? How would these men have properly and so effectively communicated the displeasure and intent of an entire people without such a firm grasp on the English language, not merely to speak it but to put it down in a document to be revered for centuries to come? In short, they couldn’t have.

On this 238th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we need to remember that it’s author had but two years of formal, college education. In those days, a man wishing to become a lawyer apprenticed under other attorneys, reading the law and learning to interpret and apply it for the good of the people for whom it was put in place. Jefferson eventually became a lawyer but not by obtaining any degree we might understand today.

Likewise, Benjamin Franklin went to school briefly but, because of financial issues, he had to stop to help support his family by going to work with his father. He furthered his own education, however, through reading and self-study, a practice that is, sadly, frowned upon today. Both of these men demonstrated the vast important of language and writing, and how the written word can change history. Some people, though, struggle with language skills or never learn to read at all.

One of my favorite books from childhood was called, “The Little Old Man Who Could Not Read,” by Irma Black. The book chronicles the story of a little, old toy maker who, despite his amazing craftsmanship for pleasing children, never learned to read. One day, his wife went to visit a sick friend and left him alone for what must have been the first time. He was forced to do the grocery shopping on his own, which turned out to be a very frustrating endeavor. Upon arriving home, he sadly discovered that what he thought was a spaghetti box turned out to be wax paper and the can of sauce, coffee instead. It was very disheartening. But it motivated him to learn and he did. The book was written many years before the technology age, but imagine what he would have to deal with today if he couldn’t read at all? It would be nearly debilitating in modern American culture.

little_old_manI have always been a writer, even back into childhood, but most of my language skills came from audio books and those children’s books that came with a 33 rpm record. I found later that I had been dealing with a learning disability that hindered my ability to retain what I had read. Over the years, I adjusted and coped, but was not diagnosed until my mid-30s. Today, I have new ways of dealing with the problem and read as much as I can. I learned to defy my disability because I wanted to read.

There’s no question that Jefferson and Franklin were above-average men, but we all have the ability to move past our limitations, just as Franklin taught himself what he needed to know and just as I worked past my reading issues. For those who want to improve their language skills across the board, here are a few tips and they work for pretty much all ages.

First, try to write as much by hand as possible. Using paper and pen will slow you down a bit and force you to think before you write. People were better writers in the old days because it took time to get thought to page. Today, technology has us whizzing through sentences without a thought to grammar and word usage.

Next, although it’s fallen out of favor with the public school set, use cursive writing as much as you can. As with the first point, handwriting something makes you think and use the right language. It even gives you the chance to look up a word before you use it.

Try to learn a new word every day. Vocabulary is the key to better language skills. Take the time to look up words you hear throughout your normal day. But if you don’t hear any that grab your attention, pick up a hard-bound dictionary, open it up, close your eyes, and point to a word on the page.  That’s your word for the day. One of those “word of the day” desk calendars is a great resource too. Of course, you need to put the word into use whenever possible to make it stick.

Read, read, read, read. And, did I mention, read? Newspapers, well-written blogs, congressional briefs, comic books, it doesn’t matter what you read, just make sure you read a lot. If you’re trying to improve your language skills, however, the more advanced the reading the better. It’s ok if it takes time, look up words you don’t know and charge ahead.

Finally, don’t write like you text. In fact, don’t text how you text, either. The wave of “texting shorthand” is maddening to those of us with good grammar and language skills. Use full words and sentences – even in texts. It’ll make a big difference in how you communicate in email and in other written documents as well. Take your time and say it right.

So this Fourth of July weekend, go out and enjoy the picnics and fireworks.  But remember, when you hear the words to the national anthem or the preamble to the constitution, think about the meaning of each word and be grateful that those guys were diligent enough to get every one of them right. Our very freedom depended on it.

Author celebrates first anniversary of children’s book with reading November 2

In Books, Children and Family, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Print Media, sociology, Uncategorized on October 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm
Author Teasha Seitz, "Little Leah Lou and her Pink Tu"

Author Teasha Seitz, “Little Leah Lou and her Pink Tu”

XENIA, OH – Author Teasha Seitz is a Miami Valley native who has always enjoyed sharing and discovering stories with children. Her stories entertain, enlighten, and encourage young readers to explore their own world and discover who they are. Her first children’s book “Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu,” was released last year (ISBN 0985662506).

To help celebrate the book’s first anniversary, Blue Jacket Books in Xenia is hosting a reading and signing event beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 2. The author will read from her book and the store will have free printed activities for children to do as well.

Illustrated by Jean Ditslear, “Little Leah Lou and Her Pink Tu” tells the story of Little Leah Lou, who loved to wear her pink tutu. She wore it everywhere she went and pretended to be a princess. But when she wore it to the zoo she encountered a giraffe with the munchies and Little Leah Lou was left with just half a tutu. Her tutu was ruined! Could this mean she’s no longer a princess? Little Leah Lou was shocked, but not for long. Her solution to the tutu tragedy will not only surprise and amuse readers; it will win her the admiration of one of the zoo’s flashiest residents.

In addition to copies of “Leah Lou” at a dollar off the cover price, children’s tutus will also be available for purchase as a “package” with the books. Blue Jacket Books is located at 30 S. Detroit St. in Xenia, Ohio. For more information call the store at (937) 376-3522 or go online to http://www.teashaseitz.com.

Little-Leah-Lou-and-Her-Pink-Tu-Seitz

Western Ohio Writers present live Halloween reading at Books & Co., Oct 26.

In Books, Children and Family, Dayton Ohio News, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Media, sociology, Uncategorized on October 16, 2013 at 10:11 pm
WOWA editorial committee member Bill Bicknell reads from his work at Books & Co. during last year’s “Beatnik Café” event.   Photo by Debra Bays, GLD Enterprises

WOWA editorial committee member Bill Bicknell reads from his work at Books & Co. during last year’s “Beatnik Café” event. Photo by Debra Bays, GLD Enterprises

Beavercreek, OH – Beginning at 7 pm on Saturday, October 26, author members of the Western Ohio Writers Association (WOWA) will take the microphone at Books & Co. to present their popular, “Beatnik Café” event. Writers from all genres will regale visitors with tales of Halloween through short works of fiction and poetry. The event is free and open to the public.

The live reading pays homage to the hole-in-the-wall poetry clubs of the 1960’s, but with a more modern style. Reading aloud from original work, each writer will take the stage for 10 to 12 minutes, dazzling audiences with short stories, poetry or who knows what.

Greene County native, Gery L. Deer is the co-founder and executive director of the organization. A professional freelance journalist, editorial columnist and commercial writer, he started WOWA in October of 2008. “WOWA was intended to provide a regular resource for peer critique, educational programs and networking opportunities to local writers of all genres, both amateur and professional,” he says.

“Annual workshops are held all around the country, with two of the most well-known right here in the Miami Valley. But for most writers to thrive that type of support needs to come on a more regular basis,” Deer says. “Our group consists of professional writers and editors, college professors and everyone is ready and willing to offer help, a fresh eye and, sometimes more importantly, an honest opinion about the quality of the work – good or bad.”

Writers come from all around the region – southwest central Ohio, eastern Indiana and northern Kentucky – to attend monthly critique sessions, educational lectures and write-in events. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of the month at the Event Connections, 4140 Linden Ave. in Dayton, near the intersection of US 35 and Woodman Drive.

Flights of Fiction. Cover art by Michael Martin

Flights of Fiction. Cover art by Michael Martin

October 2013 marks the organization’s fifth anniversary and these talented scribes definitely have plenty to celebrate. In addition to the many individual members who have been published on their own, in May of this year eleven of them were featured in an anthology titled, “Flights of Fiction,” produced by GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing and published by Handcar Press (ISBN: 978-0-9885289-4-9). The book features stories set in and around the southwest Ohio region and is available in print and electronic formats from the WOWA website as well as Amazon and BN.com.

The Beatnik Café is a family-friendly, free, public presentation of WOWA and GLD Enterprises Commercial Writing. Books & Co. is located at 4453 Walnut St. at The Greene in Beavercreek. For more information, go online to www.westernohiowriters.org or call (937) 902-4857.

Follow the WOWA on Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t Panic. Really, we mean it this time.

In Books, Literature, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology on April 17, 2013 at 7:00 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

dontpanicIn 1978, a radio comedy called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams, aired as a series on the BBC. Hitchhiker’s was a wholly remarkable radio show that eventually became a wholly remarkable television program, and a series of wholly remarkable – not to mention lucrative – novels, five in the so-called trilogy. A sixth novel was completed by a different author in 2009, eight years after Adams’ untimely death.

Commonly known by fans as, “HG2G,” Hitchhiker’s was essentially a parody of age-old science fiction with a satirical spin. The story line is filled with political satire and a pinch of sarcastic banter, the focus of which was the “establishment,” whatever that meant to the reader.

The story begins with one ordinary man’s adjustment to being transported from Earth only moments before it is destroyed to make way for a bypass for space ships. Suddenly thrust into a galaxy of crazy characters and a manically depressed robot named Marvin, human Arthur Dent is dumbstruck by his complete lack of ability to adapt.

Arthur’s friend Ford, an intergalactic researcher who rescued Arthur from his doomed world, finds his way through the galaxy hitchhiking and following the advice of an electronic book, whose cover is inscribed, in large, friendly letters, with the words, “Don’t Panic.” As the pair travels through the stars, Arthur finds little comfort in his new life except for the constant search for a nice hot cup of tea and the friendly inscription on the cover of his electronic guidebook.

A prolific writer and avid environmentalist, Douglas Adams may be single-handedly responsible for inventing the concept of the e-reader (which is essentially what the “Guide” was) nearly three decades before Amazon, the iPad or even the Internet ever existed. Adams also managed to show us the world more as it really it is than how we’d rather it be. I think that’s where, “Don’t Panic,” came from in the first place.

As Adams’ character, Arthur Dent found out, there are simply things we cannot control so the best thing to do is try to keep our heads and move through it. By a curious coincidence, as I watched the tragic events of terrorism unfold in Boston this week, I found myself thinking about the cover of Adams’ book and those large, friendly letters. “Don’t Panic” seemed like just the kind of thing you’d want someone to say to you at a moment like that.

I’ve never been in a situation like a terrorist bombing, but I have had my share of life and death scrapes over the years. From a head-on truck crash that should have certainly killed me to dealing with the painful helplessness of watching my mother whither away from Alzheimer’s disease, I have learned which things I should panic about and what I should try to just push through. And I don’t believe I’m alone in that practice, by any stretch of the imagination.

Given the circumstances, there is no level of security that could have prevented what happened in Boston. But when it did, people clearly pushed their fear and panic aside, stepped up and did their best to help each other through a horrible situation. Human beings are resilient, even though some might seem like they’re not. We’ve managed around 15 million years of evolution so there must be something to us, right?

I had the good fortune to meet Douglas Adams in 1992 when he came to Dayton for a book signing. Thanks to a fortuitous hiccup in the autograph line, I found myself standing in front of the author for several minutes. He was as gracious and humble, kindly asking how I liked his work.

As we chatted, I asked him what it meant – Don’t Panic. He said simply, “Whatever you need it to.” He also told me I should continue writing and not let the problems of the world interfere with my creativity and positive outlook. I’ve tried hard to do both. So the next time you’re faced with a tough situation just remember the Hitchhiker’s cover line: Don’t Panic. After all, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.gerydeer.com

Great books are hard to find on today’s shelves

In Business, Children and Family, Economy, Education, Entertainment, Literature, Local News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Technology on March 20, 2013 at 2:47 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

"Flights of Fiction" is an anthology of stories set in southwest Ohio by local authors from the Western Ohio Writers Association. It will hit shelves in mid-April 2013 and features local talent and production.

“Flights of Fiction” is an anthology by local authors will hit shelves in mid-April 2013.

Books are incredible things. They can make you laugh and cry. They can whisk you off to faraway places with strange sounding names and introduce you to characters and worlds that only exist in the mind’s eye.

This month, Disney released the film version of Oz, The Great and Powerful, a prequel story to the more familiar tale of Dorothy Gale’s trip down the Yellow Brick Road. Author L. Frank Baum wrote his 14 originally published Oz books between 1900 and 1920 and each one carried us over the rainbow to a world of magic and adventure.

Of course, it was movie magic that brought the Land of Oz to life on more than one occasion. Even with all of the high-tech special effects and brilliant colors, nothing can replace the written versions of these timeless classics.

Books have a way of exciting the mind and launching the imagination of children and adults alike. Sadly, instead of giving us amazing tales of adventure, modern publishing has turned its attention more towards anything that fits a hot-selling genre rather than keeping an eye out for the next Sherlock Holmes.

When Baum and his contemporaries like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were writing their books, publishers were looking for great writing and engaging stories. Of course they wanted to make money, but they were less likely to sacrifice quality in favor of selling solely for the lowest common denominator. They knew that the best way to grow revenue was to publish a great book.

It seems that today’s publishers are looking, not so much for good literature, but sole marketability. Publishing companies are focusing on the bottom line with through a bit of astigmatism.

People often forget that the business of publishing fiction is part of the entertainment industry and is driven by the buying public. As major publishers shrink in size and revenue, they continue to blame the Internet and self-publishing authors rather than looking in a mirror to realize they’ve done this to themselves.

Occasionally, a publisher will take a chance on a unique story which then turns into a runaway success. The best examples are more recent series books like Harry Potter, Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. But once those titles charge up the audience, the publishers start releasing knock-offs or genre-trapped titles based on similar characters and situations to pacify the desire for more of the same.

The problem comes when that’s all they put out, rather than trying to take advantage of a good book-buying market and release something different. All they’re publishing for is cash flow at that point, landing much better manuscripts in the trash bin.

Sadly, there’s really no way to change this trend as long as the public continues to follow hype instead of looking for quality. Until consumers demand better material to read, the status quo will remain low cost, high volume, all buildup and no substance.

So if readers don’t find what they want at the big-box bookstores, they should turn their attention to local authors. After all, everyone talks about buying local and here’s just another way to do that. Thanks to high-quality electronic and self-publishing options, some great local authors are making their work available on a regular basis.

A few minutes in a neighborhood bookstore, even used book shops like Xenia’s, “Blue Jacket Books,” on S. Detroit St., can turn up a treasure trove of locally produced work. From memoires to science fiction local authors have some great work out there to satisfy the hunger of the voracious reader.

Like with larger outlets, local authors can spin some stinkers too, but they often cost less and, even if the book isn’t that great, you’ve helped support the community. Local authors work and live in your community and often hold signings and attend area writing groups. Keep your eyes open. There might just be another L. Frank Baum out there somewhere, yet undiscovered by the big guys. So go hit the local bookstore and remember reading is fundamental.

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