Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Interview with Prospero

Prospero is a physician and Theurgist in eighteenth century Vienna. Despite his unparalleled success rate, or perhaps because of it, the Holy Order of Physicians, Augurs and Theurgists (HOPAT) believe him to be a fraud. He was kind enough to let Kim McDougall interview him from his home in exile (though he was quick to point out it was simply a mountain retreat).

KM: Please tell us a bit about the Divine Sympathies. How does it work?

Prospero: It is simple. The energy of the universe, the Divine Sympathies, can be harnessed. I lay my hands on the body, and the Divine Sympathies course through my veins. In this way, I can manipulate the organs and release the malevolent humors. Here let me show you. (Prospero reaches for the interviewer.)

KM: Umm. No. That’s all right. (Chair scrapes backwards. Awkward pause.)

Prospero: It’s really very stimulating.

KM: I’m sure it is. So these Divine Sympathies, why are you the only one able to manipulate them?

Prospero: Oh, the others could, but they are too stupid. Too stuck in the seventeenth century, with their bloodlettings and leechcraft. Imagine leeches as medical therapy. Barbaric.

KM: Let’s talk a bit about HOPAT. Why do you think they banned you?

Prospero: Jealousy. Pure and simple.

KM: Didn’t they accuse you of…wizardry?

Prospero: (Sucking in his breath) You should not use such terms lightly, Madam. That is a serious accusation. I am a Theurgist. My power is a divine right, not some…not some feckless charlatanism. Even my detractors would not dare to insult me so.

KM: Says here…(shuffling papers) that Peniakoff, the President of HOPAT, accused you of wizardry before the assembled house.

Prospero: You Madam, are suffering from an abundance of yellow bile. I can hear it in your voice.

KM: (Pauses) Alright, let’s talk about your apprentice, Dr. Edouard Breugen.

Prospero: There is nothing to say. The boy is a fraud, a cheat, and a Judas.

KM: Seems you have a lot to say about Ed…

Prospero: I knew he had lustful feelings for Maria. I should have banished him from my practice, but I assumed he was too ineffectual to act on his feelings. Such an insipid boy. Only a blind girl would fall for him.

KM: Maria, yes. The blind pianist?

Prospero: Blind only because of ignorance. I cured her!

KM: If you cured her, then why is she still blind?

Prospero: I haven’t worked out that part yet, but I assure you, Edouard’s so-called psychology won’t help. Bah! Psychology is just a fad. A bunch of pundits, trying to sound intelligent while they sip sherry and stuff their faces with canapés.

KM: Yes, but getting back to Maria…

Prospero: Only the Divine Sympathies will save her. It’s really a simple technique. Please let me show you. I can alleviate some of that yellow bile. It colors your whole being.

KM: No really. That’s fine. It does seem more like hocus-pocus to me…

Prospero: Hocus pocus? Like some street-corner, potion-peddling, hex-mongering, toothless witch? Burn them! Burn them all, I say! (Prospero pauses to smooth down his frock coat and wipe the spittle from his chin) Madam, I will not sit here and be insulted by your ignorance. This interview is done. Good-day.

Read “Divine Sympathies” in Twist of Fate, 13 tales of fantasy, sci-fi and mystery. Published by Eternal Press (

Kim McDougall writes “Between the Cracks.” You can check out more of her fiction at . The character of Prospero is based loosely on the life of Franz Anton Mesmer.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Updates for the week ending 15 November

A lovely rant and short course in layout and overall book design from new IAG member Moriah Joven, from her blog

Another in our continuing series of authors interviewing their own characters, or variants thereof... here

And the on-line version of the review of my own "Adelsverein-The Gathering" in True West Magazine is here. My, I don't recall putting in anything about tornadoes... but, hey - it's True West!

And Steve's "Compleat Guide to Formatting" is here, on the IAG Website.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Out And About - Activity Update

Marsha Ward has an interview with Eunice Boeve, here

Marva Dasef pointed the way to "The Deepening" an on-line magazine that promotes and encourages fine gourmet writing.

Diane Ashcraft (Hitler and Mars Bars) is on blog tour this week, with stops here, here, and here.

And our fearless leader, Dianne Salerni has posted her latest Spotlight on.... here

Advice from a PR Pro

New member Paul Krupin had this long and informative answer to a recent question about making a living from writing

I'm a copywriter and a publicist and so I guess I do make a living writing. I'm happy to share with you what I've done and what I've learned. I wrote my first news release in 1977. I went online with my first website in 1993. I've built up
my copywriting and publicity services company at home and online over the past 15 years. You can read the story about how I created my business in the book "Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur' s Soul" published by Health Communications Nov 2006. It's titled 'Ripples'. Fun story. If you want to see it send me an email and I'll send you a pdf file.

The marketing I do is pretty nominal but it is consistent, and I take baby steps to keep it going nearly every day. I'm of the belief that if people and companies have employees doing work that you can do and have more work that you can do than they have employees available to do that work, then getting paid is easy.

Can you do it?

Yes you can!

You just need to present them with a very desirable alternative turnkey to hiring you as an employee. Make it attractive and make it easy and it's a done deal.

I've found that if they have employees doing something, then outsourcing to you is often a very attractive option. You can normally charge four to six times the hourly rate of pay that they pay full time employees to do exactly the same work, but without them having to carry the overhead that they have to carry for an employee. So if top technical or professional employees are making $50 an hour, then you can charge $200 an hour. Most companies will not bat an eye at these rates these
days. You can run the numbers and see, at these rates, it's not hard to bill over $100,000 a year and do it part-time from home. The Internet and email can be a wonderful place.

So no matter what the employees or you do, you can create a short menu of options and fees that break both the services you will provides (just like an employee performs, or the deliverables they create), and format this into a short list of the fee based time or product deliverables that you can perform or deliver on demand or by schedule.

So instead of a resume, create a one page brochure that says "menu of options". Then itemize options so people can hire you in bite size chunks of payable time or for products or services by known typical units of performance (by the hour, by the day, by the week, by the page, by the document, or whatever).

This menu allows you and the client to select what you do and price it in advance, and build this into a one page contract or an email or even a phone call.

I've found that the best marketing tactics that work in this business are ones that allow you to leverage professional branding with your target audience. You should not waste time, effort and money unless it brings a professional branding message in front of someone who will potentially be amenable to doing business with you.

So I recommend you experiment, test and most importantly and track and analyze what you do, to identify how you are getting clients and where the biggest income streams come from. Then apply the basic rules of systematic continuous improvement to what you are doing. Simply put, if it works, do more of it, and if it doesn't stop and do something else.

You can use my business as an example. To this day, I get most of my new business by:

> meeting people at conferences at which I exhibit, and giving short but personal consults on the fly, and once I hear what they are all about giving them recommendations that help them a little and indicate what they can get by involving me more.

> writing and publishing articles (problem solving tips articles) in magazines, to demonstrate skills, expertise, ability, knowledge and wisdom, and create desire once they realize they want more of what I can offer.

> posting articles and responding to posted questions in newsgroups and on discussion lists, to do the same.

> adding more free articles and free downloads to an extensive highly educational and focused website, to educate and motivate people to do more themselves, or hire me if they can't do it themselves.

> adding more success stories and testimonials to my portfolio, to again demonstrate and affirm.

> sending really value added email introductions to prospects, to supply them with a plan of action that leads them to hire me.

> doing 30 minute consultations by phone, learning what clients need and delivering strategic advice and one page action plan proposals by email.

> answering prospect questions as though I was already working for them.

> carefully cultivating word of mouth off prior exceptional performance.

> speaking engagements, giving workshops and training sessions for free and for fee, but only to the right targeted company or audience.

> meeting people for lunch and listening to their project needs or dreams.

> sending them one page email proposals.

> building off referrals, and speaking engagements, and seeking to leverage host beneficiary relationships.

This last one is perhaps the most crucial. As you satisfy clients, of course, you can get repeat business. If you do work for a headquarters or a home office of a company with lots of offices all
over the country, your host contact can lead you directly to many other prospects. You then get to pitch them all or better still, the headquarters contact shares you and everyone in that business network then contacts you. This situation can be phenomenally beneficial. Lucrative in fact. Same thing can happen with speaking engagements at associations. The local speech or workshop travels up to the headquarters.

Once every few years I create an innovative post card and do a mailing. My most recent mailer was a one pager back top back. If you want to see my most recent one, send me an email message request and I'll send you the pdf file. I was using US Mail for mailings until two years ago. Now we participate in coop mailings and use email.

Nowadays I also use a show off business card. It has a picture of me fishing. It's a memorable experience to look at and to hold. It brands me as a distinctive writer.

I use email, short letters and one page business proposals extensively to close deals by email and phone. In fact, I have a rule which basically says that you never have a conversation with a prospect without making a customized personal proposal. It works very well.

I actually don't need or use formal contracts at all. I just take credit cards and bill them at the time of performance. I take very few checks and only in advance if the client insists upon paying that way. Client satisfaction with this arrangement is nearly 100 percent for many years now.

I spend NO money on advertising at all and do not care about search engine placement or ad words. Clients who call me have either heard about me or find me online through research or referral. They basically have decided to hire me before they call me so I actually do very little selling.

I've actually found that in my business, the people who search using search engines aren't the clients I seek to work with. Most of them don't have the products or businesses that I enjoy and can be successful with. The people who find my site online rarely are quality clients. So search engine ranking and placement mean very little to me. I can be found very quickly if people search for me nonetheless. In fact, search on my name and you'll see thousands of links going back 15 years.

I've also found that the decision to hire is based on people having convinced themselves that you offer needed value that can be acquired no where else at the costs that you present. What you need to do is just learn how to make the product or service you give remarkable and personal, unique, and phenomenally effective. You also need to learn how to communicate this to them quickly.

Do that and your business will grow consistently with everything you do. The key to enjoying yourself along the way is to simply focus on helping the people you can help the most. You also need to know when to say no to a project that is problematic and where you know won't be able to satisfy yourself or the client. The rule should be 'no unhappy clients'.

I learned this business model by studying a variety of other consultants and copywriters. This model is actually very easy to operate and fairly low cost. I incorporated a few years ago as a full C Corp to take advantage of the tax structure since the business bills over six figures a year.
I pay myself a salary. I also just use QuickBooks Pro to do the day to day bookkeeping myself but do hire a professional accountant to do the taxes each year. I use the merchant credit card services offered with Quicken and it does the bookkeeping entries as it processes the credit card authorizations.

The skills I acquired to conduct my business the way I do is mostly out of books. I am a voracious reader. This is in addition to reading or skimming all the client books that come to me (Fed Ex and UPS stop here nearly every day Monday through Friday). I read at the health club, I read during the day and at night, and in front of the TV. I basically am reading (or searching and surfing the Internet) if I am not writing or on the phone.

My house is totally wireless and there are two computers on plus two laptops available for use by me and the rest of the family at all times.

I can even take my cell phone and my wireless laptop in my boat and take client calls and work while fishing along the Columbia River because of the many hot spots and homes with unsecured wirelessrouters along the river. It's amazing! The technology really is wonderful these days. That makes for some very pleasant days working (yes really working) while catching salmon, steelhead and
walleye! If you've ever called me during the day you may hear me tell you that if I get a fish on I'll have to get off really quick, but I'll call you back! OK, enough bragging.

I just looked over my library and I highly recommend you basically commit to reading most every business, sales and marketing book published and get whatever you can out of each and every one of them. I still probably spend $100 to $200 a month on books in this area and have for years. My wife says it takes more to keep me well read than it does to keep me well fed. I have a 25 year collection and I still refer back to them constantly.

My favorite book authors and the books I can point you to for the best answers to this question the most are:

* Harry Beckwith (everything he writes is golden including: Selling the Invisible, What Clients Love, The Invisible Touch, and his new one, You, Inc.)

* Bob Bly (again, anything he writes is worth owning. The Copywriter's Handbook, Secrets of a Freelance Writer, How to Promote Your Own Business, and Write More, Sell More, which is still one of the best books ever written on running a writing business).

* Ralph G. Riley (The One Page Business Proposal is perhaps one of the most important books you'll ever find. It has made me tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars).

* Dan Kennedy (The Ultimate and No B.S. series)

* Seth Godin (Purple Cow, Free Prize Inside, and Unleashing the Idea Virus)

* Mark Stephens (Your Marketing Sucks)

* Jay Abraham (Getting Everything You Can Out of All You Got)

* Dr. Jeffrey Lant (this dates me! No More Cold Calls, Cash Copy, The Unabashed Self-Promoter's Guide, and Money Making Marketing. Good luck finding these but if you do, consider yourself lucky)

* Jeffrey Fox (How to Become a Rainmaker and How to Become a Marketing Superstar).

If you need attitude and adjustment to get into the right frame of mind for running a business, then I highly recommend:

* Jack Canfield (The Success Principles)

* Napoleon Hill (Law of Success)

* Steven Scott (Mentored by a Millionaire)

* Brian Tracy (Maximum Achievement and many others)

* Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul (Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Bud Gardner)

The real trick to reading is that you have to create a written plan with the ideas that come to you.

Reading and not writing simply isn't productive. Writing a plan of action turns the idea into something tangible. You must add in the tasks and place dates and performance measures so that you know that you have completed the task.

Knowledge is valuable but to turn a fantasy into reality you must take action and try, try, try till you actually succeed.

You need to create two independent processes:

The first is the process for creating quality work (writing) that you can get paid for.

The second is the sales process that you use to get customers and get money.

Once you create these success processes for yourself then you apply technology to get more of each done in less time, with less effort and expense.

In fact, if you do both of these enough, it all becomes second nature, much like riding a bicycle or a car.

At some point, it can even get boring. To avoid losing faith and being unhappy, you have to find your happiness in delivering whatever happiness and help you can to others.

And that is my belief in what life is all about. .It's my definition of success:

You achieve happiness and success when you help the people you can help the most and get rich at the same time.

The bottom line is that I believe that the opportunities to be a well paid writer right now are simply phenomenal. You can specialize and focus on any one or more of hundreds of markets. The country is huge. There are 300 million people in the US. There are 30,000 towns. There are simply millions of companies all of whom can be helped again and again.

Don't be shy. This isn't that hard to do and you've got the skills. Focus and go for it.

BTW, if you want a pdf file containing the story 'Ripples' from Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur's Soul, or the latest flyer I used in my mailings, just send me an email request. I'll send you the pdf files.

Hope this helps. Questions welcome!

Paul J. Krupin (who can be reached directly at

Chapter 5 - Dope Smoker

Steve Knutson sent a sample chapter from his work in progress, "Valley of the Shadow"

The myth perpetrated by Lord only knows who, about the rampant and widespread use of drugs and “weed” in Vietnam were just that, a myth. I saw ONE GI smoking dope in the entire 18 months I was in country, and I knew him. He was an Army Com Van driver that made trips, with a “shotgun” between the Golf Course and Qui Nohn. He tried to time his departure from up around Camp Uplift to RON at Phu Cat and play poker with the Mafia in Barracks T-120. When he’d pull out a joint we would invite him to get the hell out of the game and the barracks and don’t come back. His name was Davy Wilson and hailed from California . I remember his name after all these years because there was some keen interest in a particular piece of Air Force property that ended up being discovered in some wreckage that also contained good ole Davy, the dope smoker.

When Davy wasn’t in the process of getting kicked out of our barracks on Poker nights, he was a step-n-fetch-it scrounge/trader/felon//Black Marketeer and anything else that is brought to mind by a vivid imagination. Need it? Ask Davy!

One night about 9PM, Davy and his sidekick knock at, we’ll call them Muff and Indian Joe’s room. I guess you’d a had to read the classic piece of American literature to know the characters. Davy is admitted to the room, nervously pulld out a doobie, I poi…, er…., Indian Joe points to the door with a scowl and Davy stuffs the doobie in his pocket. He then nervously explains he needs a link less feed system, the whole system, for a mini-gun. Muff and Indian Joe look at each other with raised eyebrows, turn to Davy and ask him which side are you scrounging for on this one?

Davy explains, with plausible detail, how he and his squad were sent in to recover wreckage from a downed chopper near the Golf Course and they discovered it was armed with a Gattling gun and they removed the gun but the feed system was shot. They “tried” to turn it in (Oh, sure!) but could find no one to take it (try the Helicopter Brigade) and now they wanted to use the gun at a Guard emplacement (now I, err…, Indian Joe sees where this is going). Davy just wants to shoot a gun he knows nothing about from some place at something, sure, wink, wink, Muff and Indian Joe will see what they can come up with, it’ll cost you ten cases of T-Bones and five cases of Burgers. A hand shake and the deal is made.

Davy and his sidekick leave, probably to smoke some dope and Muff asks Indian Joe if this is crazy, or what? Indian Joe sez, “or what” and has an adult beverage and hits the rack. And so it goes in the Land of Red Dirt and Rice Bugs. The following morning Muff and Joe concur this feed system deal will have to be kept close to the vest because of “possible” outside interest in the “item” sought. They swore an oath, swore at each other and headed for the MMS bus, a day of work awaits!

It took Muff and Joe about a week to track down a Feed System. Davy probably should have dealt with a Weapons crew mechanic who would have thrown him out of their barracks, no doubt, based solely on the price of the General Electric feed system it’s self and the misappropriation of which would garner you a quick trip to a federal facility in Kansas.

What did Muff and Joe know? Not much, apparently. Took two weeks, or more, and the system was illicitly traded for and set in an “obtainable location.” The gears were set in motion when Davy produced the Steak and Burgers. Four cases of Steak and two of Burgers went to the man who opted an insecure twenty two thousand dollar feed system. The trade was made, the Steaks and Burger were passed, the General Electric system went to the Golf Course. Four people knew the details. Muff, Indian Joe, Mr. X with the system and Davy , with his new toy. Now for the fun.

About four weeks go by and Mr. X contacts Muff and Joe in a panic. He sez there has been a “disaster” at the “Golf Course” and Davy has been caught with “his” feed system. We’re…errr, Muff and Indian Joe are talking to Mr. X and three very serious looking types approach the three. All three are led away to be “interviewed,” Re: feed systems and a gun.

Seems Davy, in his “Army” rank of intelligence, has mounted the gun in a Guard Tower and as suggested, removed the tracers from all but the tenth round of each belt of M-60 ammo fed into the de-linker to “mask” the gun. Unfortunately he had cycled it to its highest rate of fire, 6,000 rounds a minute, 100 rounds a second, a veritable lead wall. The tower is built, as are most Guard towers in Vietnam , using 4X4’s for “legs.”

The recoil from a .308, which is what the mini is, is about eleven and a half pounds. A jolt, but not horrific. Multiply that by 100 and each second of burst from a mini-gun gives you, at the cycled rate of fire, one thousand, eleven hundred and fifty pounds of recoil thrust at the top of that 35 to forty foot tower. You can guess what happened to Davy, the tower and the gun. I heard it was spectacular. I’d a paid real money to watch that show.

The interviews? Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof! That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

IAG Author Interviews - An Interview With Ana Darcy, Part 2

(Part 2 of Al Past's Interview with Ana Darcy, of Distant Cousin)

6. What is the native wildlife on your planet? What is the climate on your planet? (DS) 7. Ana, I understand you don't have dogs on your home planet - what do you think of them? (RH)

The Others did an impressive job of selecting a planet similar enough to Earth that humans could live there, after a period of adjustment, to be sure. Thomo's surface area is 1.4 times the size of Earth's, yet the planet's mass is only 1.2 times as great. Our gravity is slightly more, for that reason. It has a molten iron core, like Earth, and tectonic movement in the plates on its surface (and also earthquakes and volcanoes). Our atmosphere has a little less nitrogen, and a little more oxygen, than Earth, and we have no problem with carbon dioxide in our environment. There are nine continents totaling a little less than Earth's land area. That means we have considerably more ocean area, which influences our weather systems. Our poles are cold and our equatorial areas are warm.

The range of our climate is slightly more extreme than Earth's: the poles are colder, the deserts are drier, and the vegetated areas are more concentrated. We have large, temperate plains, good for agriculture.

There is a range of wildlife not unlike that of Earth, which seems logical to me. Biologists speak of "niches" which animals have evolved to fill, and our wildlife and plant life fill them much as they do here. At the same time, our animals and plants are not the same. I am not an expert, but I can say that all are based upon similar biological processes: cells, chromosomes, and DNA. Again, though these are only similar, and your biologists are busy studying the differences.

RH has asked about dogs, for example. We do not have dogs, in the form of canis familiaris. Yet we do have animals you would say were dog-like. The biggest of these is a wolf-like creature the size of a horse. They are hunters, carnivorous, and very clever. They have large fangs for capturing prey, paws which can seize small animals, and rows of spines down their backs. Thomans have populated three of Thomo's nine continents and finally cleared them of these creatures, and other dangerous animals. (They exist unmolested on three of the other six continents.) Our folklore and our cultural memory accords these beasts great importance. Mentioning them is a sure way to frighten young children! On Earth, I had to overcome my ingrained fear of your dogs. It turned out that acquiring a pair of sweet, young puppies helped me adjust. But I still do not like most other dogs.

I cannot begin to catalog our animals and plants. Suffice it to say that there is a wide range of herbivores and a smaller number of carnivores. A visitor from Earth would be most impressed by our larger herbivores, much larger than elephants, and our sea creatures, which encompass a similar range. A biologist could devote many careers to studying our tiny creatures. Our equivalent of your insects are even more diverse than Earth's. I can't begin to cover the microbes, which have caused us more trouble than any other life forms. They may account for my own robust immune system!

8. Who were the most important leaders on your planet? (DS)

Oh, dear. That would be like listing the most important leaders on Earth! But, now that I think of it, I suppose that would be possible. However, the list would either be very long, or very incomplete. Allow me to mention only a few, if you please. The first important Thoman leader was from Second Generation. His name was Unskett. The Others, you see, didn't understand about tribes. They transferred members of four different ones, which was a big problem. Unskett was a Counselor, not a Warrior, and his skills at compromise and accommodation enabled everyone to work together, just in time to avoid extinction. That skill has characterized Thoman tribal society ever since. Today, my Uncle Rothan, Thoman Ambassador to Earth, has found his abilities at negotiation helpful in resolving several conflicts here on Earth. These skills fall in a direct line from Unskett.

In the 13th Generation, Ferent, an early Thoman scientist, founded a system of schools to preserve and increase our hard-won knowledge. Most of Ferent's ideas are still in effect on Thomo: beginning education early, with an emphasis on practical knowledge, including science and mathematics. Education is just as important as health care in our system, and as costly.

Hleryn, in the 15th Generation, built on the works of Ferent and established libraries for the new works that were written down. These institutions were, and still are, associated with our schools. He also fostered the transcribing of our legends and epics, and began cultivating the arts, which continues today.
There were many other notable leaders in dozens of areas in the succeeding hundred generations. I'll mention just two. The first is Tereis Debergh, in the 19th Generation. Women were always important since Thomans were so few, but she was the first to actually lead a tribe. (Note that by her generation we were numerous enough to require surnames.) Many women followed, and today women head nearly half the tribes of Thomo. The second, and I must beg your pardon for this, is my father, Heoren Darshiell, of the 160th Generation. He was Chief of Clans when the first signals from Earth were detected. This news set off great excitement among our people, and he was the one most responsible for guiding the effort to launch the voyage of discovery that I was privileged to undertake. He brought our people full circle. Whatever happens in the future, whoever reigns, that will perhaps be our greatest achievement as a people.

9. What do you like (and dislike) most about the cultures on Earth? (RP)

Such a good question, and so difficult to do justice to! First, consider the culture of Thomo: we have art, we have music, we have religion, we have literature and cooking, we have nearly every basic category that is found on Earth. But on Earth, you have thousands of cultures, each with its own art and music, literature, all with their own subdivisions, and if that weren't enough, cross-contacts between them! Thousands upon thousands! Learning about and experiencing this richness has been a delight for me. If the day comes that Thomans visit Earth in numbers (and I hope it will), some Thomans might be overwhelmed by all the complex diversity. If they are, I hope people here will try to understand.

I have seen, in fact, that many people of Earth are similarly affected. People of different nations, different religions, people who speak different languages, are sometimes regarded with suspicion, distrust, or worse. While most wars seem to have been fought for economic reasons, these cultural differences often play a large role as well. This is unfortunate. Education is one way to increase understanding and eliminate the discomfort.

Also, Thomans are by nature a collective people. We live in families, clans, and tribes. We think of ourselves as members of groups, and act in the interests of the group--not always, but generally. Most of Earth's cultures value the individual as much as, or more than, the group. I confess I have found this attractive. In some ways, I did not fit in perfectly in Thoman society. I fit better here. But at the same time it seems a shame that there is not more concern by individuals for the welfare of their own groups, for other groups, and for people as a whole. Indeed, it seems that most of the environmental problems and economic inequalities the planet is facing today are at least in part attributable to that lack. There should be a better balance between the needs of individuals and the needs of groups.

One more feature that I feel two ways about is money. Thomans do not have a money culture. The notion of "capitalism" is not something we would readily understand. We have stores, for example, but they tend to contain items that people want. No one will make and market something hoping that many people will buy it. We do not have advertisements. But again, I must admit that I love shopping here. The diversity and sheer delight of discovering something useful I had never thought I needed is thrilling.

Many people here seem to feel that money is more important than people, but I do not. I think people are more important than money. Whatever we think, it also seems obvious that our peoples have much to learn from each other!

10. Why did you marry that slug, Matt Méndez? (NW)

My editor thought I would not want to answer this question, but I do. Thoman marriages are often arranged, particularly when the parents have wide responsibilities within their clans. The wishes of the betrothed are seldom considered when clan politics are involved. I was never comfortable with this. I longed for a husband who was also a friend and a partner, and who would place our family first in his heart. Matt and I were attracted to each other before my renown distorted people's perceptions of me. He was so kind and patient, allowing me time to adjust to a new way of being, without his even knowing why I had to do it. Having a husband who is my best friend and who is totally devoted to our family is much more important to me than having a man who is a great warrior or hunter, or who has high status among his peers. There is no word in Luvit for "soul-mate," but that is what my husband is to me. I consider myself blessed.