Friday, September 30, 2011

A Road that Leads to ...

Roads have always interested me. I often look at them in paintings and wonder where the artist intended for his to go.

Back when I was married many years ago and worked long hours putting my husband through medical school, I had a painting I used to admire while I sat at my desk. On one side of the unpaved road was a fence; on the other were overhanging oak trees. The road disappeared over a mountain and faded into the background.

I used to wonder, where will we live when my husband finishes his education? What will he specialize in? And what will our lives be like? As I dictated my court reporting notes, I would stare at that painting, wishing I could be doing something else.

I am glad I didn't know where that road went.  I wouldn't have wanted to travel it. But hindsight knows better than foresight.  That road, my Via Dolorosa, was the best thing that ever happened to me. It's the hard roads that mold us or break us; it is the journey that matters, not where we end up. That is already decided.

I thank God these many years later I am still here--many of my friends and family aren't. Their road was different from mine. But hopefully, when we arrive at the Pearl of Great Price, the journey will have been worth it, and the roads in that wonderful place won't be paved in sorrow, as our Savior's was, but paved in gold, a road that leads to.....what is your Via Dolorosa? Please share.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Unofficial Transcript of Prime Minister Netanyahu's Response to the U.N. following the Palenstinian bid for Statehood

I would encourage you to read this unofficial transcript that I wrote today—an impassioned plea from Prime Minister Netanyahu for peace that should stir the hearts of all Christians and Jews.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Response to the United Nations on September 22, 2011, following the Palestinian bid for Statehood.

>> ...I extend it to the people of Libya, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future, I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning.
I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon, and Iran, with all the courage of those fighting brutal oppression, but most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace.

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel, our hope for peace never wanes.
Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow.
Our artists, our writers, which is the heritage of humanity.
Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall.
After all, it was here in 1975, the age old yearning of my people to restore our national life and our ancient Biblical homeland, it was then that this was branded shamefully, as racism.
And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn't praised.
It was denounced.
And it's here, year after year, that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation.
It's singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined.
21 out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.
This is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution.
It's the theatre of the absurd.
It doesn't only cast Israel as the villain, it often casts real villains in leading roles.
Qaddafi's Libya shared the U.N. commission on human rights, Saddam's Iraq headed the U.N. committee on disarmament.
You might say that's the past.
Well, here's what's happening now, right now, today.
Hezbollah‑controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. security council.
This means in effect that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world security.
You couldn't make this thing up.
So here, in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything.
They can decide that the sun sets in the west or rises in the west, I think the first has already been preordained.
They can also decide, they have decided, that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.
And yet, even here, in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through.
In 1984, when I was appointed Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great Rabbi.
He said to me, and, ladies and gentlemen, I don't want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honourable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here, but here's what was said to me.
He said, you'll be serving in a house of many lies.
And then he said, remember, that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.
Today, I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country.
So as Israel's Prime Minister, I didn't come here to win applause.
I came here to speak the truth.
The truth is ‑‑
The truth is that Israel wants peace.
The truth is, that I want peace.
The truth is, that in the Middle East, at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security.
The truth is, that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties.
The truth is, that so far, the Palestinians have refused to negotiate.
The truth is, that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want one state without peace, and the truth is, you shouldn't let that happen.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I first came here 27 years ago, the world was divided between East and West.
Since then, the Cold War ended.
Great civilizations have risen from centuries of slumber.
Hundreds of millions have been lifting out of poverty.
Countless more are poised to follow and the remarkable thing is, so far, this monumental historic shift has largely occurred peacefully.
Yet a malignancy is now growing between the East and West that threatens the peace of all.
It seeks not to liberate but to enslave.
Not to build, but to destroy.
That malignancy is militant Islam.
It cloaks itself in the mantle of a great faith, yet it murders Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike with unforgiving impartiality.
On September 11, it killed thousands of Americans and it left the Twin Towers in smoldering ruins.
Last night, I laid a wreath on the 9/11 memorial.
It was deeply moving.
But as I was going there, one thing echoed in my mind.
The outrageous words of the president of Iran on this podium yesterday.
He implied that 9/11 was an American conspiracy.
Some of you left this hall, all of you should have.


>> Since 9/11, militant Islam has slaughtered countless other innocence.
In London, in Madrid, in Baghdad, in Mumbai, in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem, and every part of Israel.
I believe that the greatest danger facing our world is that this fanaticism will arm itself with nuclear weapons, and this is precisely what Iran is trying to do.
Can you imagine that man who ranted here yesterday, can you imagine him armed with nuclear weapons?
The international community must stop Iran before it's too late.
If Iran is not stopped, we will all face a specter of nuclear terrorism, and the Arab spring could soon become an Iranian winter.
That would be a tragedy.
Millions of Arabs have taken to the streets to replace tyranny with liberty.
And no one would benefit more than Israel if those committed to freedom and peace would prevail.
This is my fervent hope, but as the Prime Minister of Israel, I cannot risk the future of the Jewish state on wishful thinking.
Leaders must see reality as it is.
Not as it ought to be.
We must do our best to shape the future, but we cannot wish away the dangers of the present.
And the world around Israel is definitely becoming more dangerous.
Militant Islam has already taken over Lebanon and Gaza.
It's determined to tear apart the peace treatise between Israel and Egypt, and between Israel and Jordan.
It's poisoned many Arab minds against Jews and Israel, against America and the west.
It opposes not the policies of Israel but the existence of Israel.
Now, some argue that the spread of militant Islam, especially in these turbulent times, if you want to slow it down, they argue, Israel must hurry to make concessions, to make territorial compromises.
And this theory sounds simple.
Basically, it goes like this.
Leave the territory and peace will be advanced.
The moderates will be strengthened, the radicals will be kept at bay, and don't worry about the pesky details of how Israel will actually defend itself.
International troops will do the job.
These people say to me constantly, just make a sweeping offer and everything will work out.
You know, there is only one problem with that theory.
We've tried it.
And it hasn't worked.
In 2000 Israel made a sweeping peace offer that met virtually all of the Palestinian demands.
Arafat rejected it.
The Palestinians then launched a terror attack that claimed 1,000 Israeli lives.
Prime Minister Olmert, afterwards, made an even more sweeping offer in 2008.
President Abbas didn't even respond to it.
But Israel did more than just make sweeping offers.
We actually left territory.
We with drew from Lebanon in 2000.
And from every square inch of Gaza in 2005.
That didn't calm the Islamic storm.
The militant Islamic storm that threatens us.
It only brought the storm closer and made it stronger.
Because Hamas fired thousands of rockets against our cities from the very territories we vacated.
See, when Israel left Lebanon and Gaza, the moderates didn't defeat the radicals.
The moderates were devoured by the radicals.
And I regret to say, that international troops like Lebanon and Gaza didn't stop the radicals from attacking Israel.
We left Gaza hoping for peace.
We didn't freeze settlements in Gaza.
We uprooted them.
We did exactly what the theory says.
Get out.
Go back to the 1967 borders.
Dismantle the settlements.
And I don't think people remember how far we went to achieve this.
We uprooted thousands of people from their homes.
We pulled children out of their schools and their kindergartens.
We bulldozed synagogues.
We even moved loved ones from their graves.
And then having done all of that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.
Now, the theory says, it should all work out.
And President Abbas and the Palestinian authority now could build the peaceful state in Gaza.
You can remember that the entire world applauded, they applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship, as a bold act of peace.
But ladies and gentlemen, we didn't get peace.
We got war.
We got Iran.
Which through its proxy, Hamas, promptly kicked out the Palestinian authority.
The Palestinian authority collapsed, in a day, in one day.
President Abbas just said on this podium that the Palestinians are armed only with their hopes and dreams.
Hopes, dreams, and 10,000 missiles, and rockets supplied by Iran, not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from where else.
Thousands of missiles have already rained down on our cities, so you might understand that, given all of this, Israelis rightly ask, what's to prevent this from happening again in the West Bank?
See, most of our major cities in the South of the country are within a few dozen kilometres from Gaza.
But in the centre of the country, opposite the West Bank, our cities are a few hundred metres or at most a few kilometres away from the edge of the West Bank.
So I want to ask you, would any of you, would any of you bring danger so close to your cities, to your families?
Would you act so recklessly with the lives of your citizens?
Israel is prepared to have a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but we're not prepared to have another Gaza there, and that's why we need to have real security arrangements which the Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate with us.
Israelis remember the bitter lessons of Gaza.
Many of Israel's critics ignore them.
They irresponsibly advise Israel to go down this same perilous path again.
You read what these people say and it's as if nothing happened.
Just keep repeating the same advice, the same formulas, as though none of this happened.
And these critics continue to press Israel to make far reaching concessions without first assuring Israel's security.
They praise those who unwittingly feed the insatiable crocodile of militant Islam as bold statesmen.
They cast as enemies of peace those of us who insist that we must first erect a sturdy barrier to keep the crocodile out.
Or at the very least, jam a bar between its gaping jaws, so in the face of the labels and the Libels, heed advice.
Better a bad press than a eulogy, and better a press that extends beyond breakfast and recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns.
I believe in serious peace negotiations, these needs and concerns can be properly addressed.
But they will not be addressed without negotiations, and the needs are many, because Israel is such a tiny country.
Without Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of nine miles wide.
I'll put it for you in perspective, because you're all in the city.
That's about 2/3 the length of Manhattan.
It's the distance between Battery Park and Columbia University.
And don't forget, that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel's neighbors.
So how do you protect such a tiny country?
Surrounded by people sworn to its destruction and armed to the teeth by Iran?
Obviously, you can't defend it within that narrow space alone.
Israel needs greater strategic depth and that's exactly why security Council Resolution 242 didn't require Israel to leave all the territories it captured in the Six‑Day War.
It talked about withdrawal from territories, to secure indefensible boundaries.
And to defend itself, Israel must therefore maintain a long‑term Israeli military presence in critical strategic areas in the West Bank.
I explained this to President Abbas.
He answered that if a Palestinian state was to be a sovereign country, it could never accept such arrangements.
Why not?
America has had troops in Japan, Germany, and South Korea for more than half a century.
Britain has had airspace in Cypress, or rather an air base in Cypress.
France has forces in three independent African nations.
None of these states claim that they are not sovereign countries.
And there are many other vital security issues that also must be addressed.
Take the issue of airspace.
Again, Israel's small dimensions create huge security problems.
America can be crossed by jet airplane in six hours.
To fly across Israel, it takes three minutes.
So is Israel's tiny airspace to be chopped in half and given to a Palestinian state not at peace with Israel?
Our major international airport is a few kilometres away from the West Bank.
Without peace, would our planes become targets for anti‑aircraft missiles placed in the adjacent Palestinian state?
And how will we stop the smuggling into the West Bank?
It's not merely the West Bank, it's the West Bank Mountains that dominates the Coastal Plains where most of Israel's population sits below.
How can we prevent the smuggling into these mountains?
From those missiles that could be fired on our cities?
I bring up these problems because they are not theoretical problems.
They are very real.
And for Israelis, they are life and death matters.
All of these potential cracks in Israel's security have to be sealed in a peace agreement before a Palestinian state is declared.
Not afterwards.
Because if you leave it afterwards, they won't be sealed.
And these problems will explode in our face and explode the peace.
The Palestinians should first make peace with Israel and then get their state.
But I also want to tell you this.
After such a peace agreement is signed, Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as a new member of the United Nations.
We will be the first.


>> And there is one more thing.
Hamas has been violating international law by holding our soldier (name) captive for five years.
They haven't given him even one Red Cross visit.
He's in a dungeon and darkness against all natural norms.
He's the grandson of (name) who escaped the Holocaust by coming in the 1930s as a boy to the land of Israel.
He's the son of every Israeli family.
Every nation represented here should demand his immediate release.
If you want ‑‑

>> If you want to pass a resolution about the Middle East today, that's the resolution you should pass.


>> Ladies and gentlemen, last year in Israel, at the University, this year, in the Knesset and the U.S. Congress, I laid out my vision for peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state, yes, the Jewish state.
This is the body that recognized the Jewish state 64 years ago.
Don't you think it's about time the Palestinians did the same.
The Jewish State of Israel will always protect the rights of all its minorities, including the more than one million Arab citizens of Israel.
I wish I could say the same thing about a future Palestinian state, for the Palestinian officials made clear the other day, in fact, I think they made it right here in New York, they said the Palestinian state won't allow any Jews in it.
They will be Jew‑free, Heathen run.
That's ethnic cleansing.
There are laws today in Ramallah that make the selling of land to Jews punishable by death.
That's racism.
And, you know which laws this evokes?
Israel has no intention whatsoever to change the democratic character of our state.
We just don't want the Palestinians to try to change the Jewish character of our state.
>> We want to give up ‑‑

>> We want them to give up the fantasy of flooding Israel with millions of Palestinians.
President Abbas just stood here and he said that the core of the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict is the settlements.
Well, that's odd.
Our conflict has been raging for ‑‑ was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then I guess that the settlements he's talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, and Beersheba.
Maybe that's what he meant the other day when he said Israel has been occupying Israeli land for 63 years.
He didn't say from 1967, he said from 1948.
I hope somebody will bother to ask him that question.
Because it illustrates a simple truth.
The core of the conflict is not the settlements.
The settlements are a result of the conflict.


>> The settlements have to be ‑‑ it's an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of the negotiations but the core of the conflict has always been, and unfortunately remains, the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state within any border.
I think it's time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized.
From Lord Balfour and Lord George in 1917 to President Truman in 1948 to President Obama just two days ago, Israel is a Jewish state.


>> President Abbas, stop walking around this issue.
Recognize the Jewish state and make peace with us.
In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises.
We believe that the Palestinians should be neither the citizens of Israel nor its subjects.
They should live in a free state of their own.
But they should be ready, like us, for compromise.
And we will know that they are ready for compromise and for peace when they start taking Israel's security requirements seriously, and when they stop denying our historical connection to our ancient homeland.
I often hear them accuse Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem.
That's like accusing America of Americanizing Washington, or the British of Anglicizing London.
You know why we're called Jews?
Because we come from Judea.
In my office in Jerusalem, there is an ancient seal.
It's a Cygnet ring of a judicial official from the time of the Bible.
The seal was found right next to the Western Wall.
It dates back 2,700 years to the time of King Hezekiah.
Now, there is a name of the Jewish official inscribed on the ring in Hebrew.
His name was Netanyahu.
That's my last name.
My first name, Benjamin, dates back 1,000 years earlier to Benjamin, the son of Jacob, who was also known as Israel.
Jacob and his 12 sons roamed these same hills of Judea and Samaria, 4,000 years ago, and there has been a continuing Jewish presence in the land ever since.
And for those Jews who were exiled from our land, they never stopped dreaming of coming back.
Jews in Spain on the eve of their expulsion, Jews in the Ukraine fleeing the pogroms, the Warsaw ghetto, as the Nazis circled around it.
They never stopped praying, next year in Jerusalem, next year in the Promise Land.

as the Prime Minister of Israel, I speak for 100 generations of Jews who are dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.
Ladies and gentlemen, I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner in peace.
I have worked hard to advance that peace.
The day I came into office, I called for direct negotiations without preconditions.
President Abbas didn't respond.
I outlined a vision of peace of two states for two peoples.
He still didn't respond.
I removed hundreds of road blocks and checkpoints to ease freedom of movement in the Palestinian areas.
This facilitated a fantastic growth into the Palestinian economy, but, again, no response.
I took the unprecedented step of freezing new buildings in the settlements for 10 months.
No Prime Minister did that before, ever.
Once again ‑‑

>> You applaud but there was no response.
No response.
>> In the last few weeks, American officials have put forward ideas to restart peace talks.
There were things in those ideas about borders that I didn't like.
There were things there about the Jewish state that I'm sure the Palestinians didn't like.
But with all my reservations, I was willing to move forward on these American ideas.
President Abbas, why don't you join me?
We have to stop negotiating about the negotiations.
Let's just get on with it.
Let's negotiate peace.


>> I spent years defending Israel on the battlefield.
I spent decades defending Israel in the court of public opinion.
President Abbas, you've dedicated your life to advancing the Palestinian cause, must this conflict continue for generations?
Or will we enable our children and our grandchildren to speak in years ahead of how we found a way to end it.
That's what we should aim for.
That's what I believe we can achieve.
In 2 1/2 years we met in Jerusalem only once.
Even though my door has always been open to you.
If you wish, I'll come to Ramallah.
Actually, I have a better suggestion.
We both just ‑‑ have just flown thousands of miles to New York.
Now we're in the same city.
We're in the same building.
So let's meet here today, in the United Nations.


>> Who is there to stop us?
What is there to stop us?
If we genuinely want peace, what is there to stop us from meeting today and beginning peace negotiations?
And I suggest we talk openly and honestly, let's listen to one another.
Let's do as we say in the Middle East, let's talk ‑‑ straightforward.
I'll tell you my needs and concerns.
You tell me yours.
And with God's help, we'll find the common ground of peace.
>> There is an old Arab saying that you cannot applaud with one hand.
The same is true of peace.
I cannot make peace alone.
I cannot make peace without you.
President Abbas, I extend my hand, the hand of Israel in peace.
I hope that you will grasp that hand.
We're both the sons of Abraham.
My people call him Abraham.
You people call him Abraham.
We share the same patriarch.
We dwell in the same land.
Our destinies are intertwined.
Let us realize the vision of Isaiah, the people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
Let that light be the light of peace.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Five Parenting Do’s and Don’ts for Adopted Children

 Now that my oldest daughter is almost 21 and my youngest is thirteen, here are some words of advice:  

1.  Be proactive when it comes to the health, safety and welfare of your adopted child.
You know your child’s background and history better than doctors, social workers, teachers, friends, or other adoptive families. Speak up when you think something needs to be addressed. Don’t assume others know better or more than you.
For starters, de-worm your adopted child upon arrival from a developing country.
2.  Be open with your adopted child about his past. Tell him everything you know. Tuck away special items to remind him of his heritage later—pictures, letters, emails, mementos, a favorite toy, or article of clothing. Let your child decide what he wants to do with these things when he is older and respect his wishes.
3.  Be open about adoption with others who are interested. This does not mean you need to divulge the intimate details of your child’s adoption, but it is your opportunity to share the marvelous way God has given us to make families, giving hope to the 150 million plus orphans in the world. When onlookers see the love shared in your family, they will be less inclined to believe the horror stories that have been perpetuated by Hollywood and negative, prejudicial people.
4.  Help your adoptive child to be emotionally, physically, and mentally strong. Young children most likely will catch up on motor and language skills, but be willing to provide speech or physical therapy if needed. Older kids may take more time, but as parents, our job is to do everything we can to help our children reach their potential. Given the right environment, children generally will flourish, and you will be a glowing mother as you see your new son or daughter blossom.
This includes finding their “gift.”  Since adopted children come with a different biological code, parents need to make an extra effort to discover their talents.

 5.  Respect your adoptive child’s family, country, culture, and memories. Even if you do not like your child’s birth family or heritage, you would not be an adoptive parent if it wasn’t for a birthmother’s gift of life. Be sensitive and respectful. Let grace begin with you, remembering that your adopted daughter is a gift from God. Love her as much as you can, and then love her some more. Don’t just tell your daughter you love her, show it. And when you screw up, admit it and say, “I am sorry.” 


1.  Don’t let others discourage you from adopting
. If God has put it on your heart or you have thoughtfully made a decision to build your family through adoption, do your research and pursue your dream with passion. Those who are persistent and don’t give up are the ones who eventually hold their “bundle of joy.”
2.  Don’t make excuses for the poor behavior of your adopted child. Address what rears its head and work through it. Seek wise counsel, particularly experts skilled in adoption issues. You don’t want your son or daughter to grow up with a “victim” mentality.  Love covers many shortcomings, and what was lacking in the beginning can be used for good later—in the form of compassion for others. While an older adopted child will have more scars and come with a history, to overcome his past, he will need to embrace it. Only through acceptance can a child overcome the pain and move on. As a parent, you can help your son or daughter to begin that process of healing.

If your child uses adoption as an excuse for poor grades, low self-esteem, behavior maladjustment, distrust, or a host of other issues that are sometimes found in adopted children, contact a professional. Without intervention, adopted children from deprived circumstances may carry their scars into adulthood, subconsciously gravitating toward familiar dysfunctional behaviors learned from the past. You can stop this destructive cycle by recognizing the need and seeking professional help.
3.  Don’t force your adopted child’s heritage on her. Let her choose how she wants to live her life. If your daughter was adopted internationally when she was young, she won’t have memories of her birth country. Her norms will be the traditions and culture in which she has been raised. Even if your daughter has dark skin or slanted eyes, she is now an American, Canadian or Scandinavian. Don’t be discouraged if your adopted daughter has no interest in her roots. Remember, kids want to fit in—with friends and lifestyles. They don’t want to be different. Let them be themselves.
4.  Don’t be afraid to parent.  People can be quick to blame the misbehavior of adopted kids on being adopted. More than likely, after a period of time, your adopted son will be going through the normal developmental stages of growing up just like all his non-adopted friends. Your adopted son will need the same boundaries and security that all kids need. Be consistent and let him know your expectations and values. Take time. Don’t be too busy.

5.  Don’t forget to enjoy the journey of parenting.  Take lots of pictures. The time goes by too quickly; one day you will turn around and the little baby you brought home in your arms will now be a beautiful young lady. Cherish the memories. There will never be enough. 

 Lorilyn is an adoptive mother (as well as an adult adoptee) of two daughters from Nepal and Vietnam. She wrote their adoption stories in Children of Dreams. You can read more about her experiences at   

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities Book Review -- Needs to be Enjoyed at Least Twice!

 A Tale of Two Cities has a complicated plot with twists and turns that eventually unravel the tightly woven story. The story begins in France, several years before the French Revolution, switches to England, and then returns to France at the end. A lot of foreshadowing creates suspense, and as the story progresses, war ensues. Death is always a constant threat or recurring theme. In typical Dickens’ style, every character and scene is fully developed with symbolism playing an important role; i.e., the broken wine cask in the beginning and the reference to blood. The imagery reminds one of the Christian sacrament, and the impending war in France.

Of particular interest are the characters; the protagonist, Lucie Manette, discovers her father has been found alive imprisoned in the French Bastille for the last eighteen years. Lucie is the embodiment of love, and her unconditional love restores her father’s sanity.

As the French Revolution draws nearer, the reader senses the progression of hopeless bloodshed through the continued foreshadowing of events. There is an overarching uneasiness that something evil is going to happen to the main characters. The darkness of one of the main antagonists, Madame DeFarge, and her constant knitting of the names of those condemned to death, stands in stark contrast to the loving protagonist, Lucie Manette.

Soon Darnay and Lucie marry, and a few years later, the French Revolution begins.

Dickens shows the intense suffering and affliction of the masses and the arrogant aristocracy, which is portrayed by the heartless Marquis Evrémonde when he runs over a poor plebian child. The impending conflict in France creeps ever so closer to the Manette family in England when Darnay travels to France and is arrested. Darnay returns to Paris to free one of his former servants from prison, but is imprisoned on false charges. After a year, he is released following a trial, only to be immediately seized again by the evil Madame DeFarge. The father, who has been “recalled to life,” teeter totters on psychosis, reverting to his old shoemaking occupation while in prison when Darnay for the second time is sent to the guillotine.

The tight plot, where nothing is wasted, builds to a stunning conclusion with the eventual escape of Lucie, Darnay, and their young daughter from Paris back to London, thanks to Miss Pross’ killing of Madame DeFarge.

One of the most poignant characters is Sydney Carton. In the beginning, he is an unhappy attorney that has taken to drink and feels his life has been wasted; yet, he still longs for a meaningful relationship and finds it in the ever-so-compassionate Lucie Manette. Through her kindness, he becomes more than he could have hoped for or imagined. Her love reaches deep, and, in the end, propels him to make the ultimate sacrifice for Lucie and her family, where his purpose in living embodies ultimate redemption.

A Tale of Two Cities reminds me of those books and movies that need to be enjoyed twice; the first time for the overview of the complex plot, and the second time to appreciate the various symbolisms and motifs that make for a magnificent story.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sell More Books!: Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors

It’s All in the Name

Book Review by Lorilyn Roberts

When I read the title, Sell More Books! I couldn’t imagine anything that would help ME to sell more books.  After all, I had done nearly everything that had been suggested by marketing gurus and experts. What else was there that I hadn’t already tried?

Originally my marketing plan consisted of a little bit of this and a little bit of that, hoping something might work. I was so afraid that if I didn’t try everything, the one thing I didn’t do would be the difference maker. Why I took this approach, I don’t know, except to acknowledge that marketing is far more overwhelming and complicated than writing a book. 

Oftentimes we are bombarded with a zillion suggestions from well-meaning marketing folks, and being the newbie that I was, I tried most of them. What I found, however, is that many of those highly touted things didn’t work (and don’t work for most new or low-profile authors). Do you really need a publicist, for instance? What about all those press releases that cost a lot of money? And drawing up a marketing plan? What would that consist of, anyway? Sell More Books! will help.

Once I began reading Sell More Books! I realized what I needed were not new methods or ideas but a strategy to help me evaluate what I had already done. And Sell More Books! did not disappoint. I never thought about incorporating what had worked into a marketing plan that would fit my needs and budget into the future. I think it’s just human nature, like a cow, to think the grass on the other side of the fence is greener. Whatever we haven’t done is what we think we need to do because somebody somewhere says so—and we think they know more than we do.

Sell More Books! made me realize I was not alone, but by following some common sense, inexpensive suggestions, I could resurrect my lagging sales and achieve better results. Simply put, I needed to look at those things that had worked and continue to pursue them. And lastly, but also very important, I was challenged not to sit on those ideas but to put them to good use. When you become discouraged, oftentimes the hardest part is just getting started again. And because Sell More Books! helped me to see the mistakes I had made, I felt I could trust Steve Miller on other aspects of marketing I wasn’t as sure about.

Not everybody sells tons of books from TV and radio appearances—really? I thought I was the only one. What worked for me, I found myself asking? What about all of those wonderful book reviews I have posted on Amazon and other websites? Why not get some more? After all, you can’t have too many.

These are just two ways to market out of dozens outlined in Sell More Books. The suggestions run the gamut for every type of book in print and every type of person. Yes, we are all different. Go with what works for you and throw out the rest. Don’t feel like your book is a failure if something worked for someone else but doesn’t work for you.

In addition, Steve Miller shares many stories from authors he has talked to first-hand regarding marketing—and has concluded, as I did, that many things are a waste of money. I wish I had read Sell More Books two years ago. I could have made better choices in marketing Children of Dreams, saving myself a lot of time, money, and discouragement.

Sell More Books is the best marketing book I have read. Buy yours today and don’t repeat the mistakes others have made. You will be encouraged to keep on keeping on in the difficult world of marketing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The World of Charles Dickens, Closed Captioning, and Writing Books

A Guest Interview with Lorilyn Roberts
The World of Charles Dickens, Closed Captioning, and Writing Books

As appeared on the blog of Tom Blubauch earlier this year


Question: What is the connection between you and Charles Dickens?

Lorilyn: First, thank you for allowing me to share a little bit about myself.
I like to imagine I have an edge on becoming the next Charles Dickens. Many people do not know that Dickens began his literary career as a court reporter. Of course, I probably won’t, but far-fetched dreams take us to places we would never go. I fancy someday writing that great court case or mystery. If I do, I will make the court reporter a significant character.

Question: I understand you no longer do court reporting but captioning. How did you make that transition?

Lorilyn: After twenty years of court reporting, I had an opportunity to become a subcontractor for the National Captioning Institute. I was probably the least likely person to switch to broadcast captioning because I was illiterate when it came to knowing what was going on the world. I spent my days reading depositions and transcripts. But I passed an unusual exam and NCI provided the rigorous training. After five and a half months, I captioned my first live broadcast for a television station in New York City.

Question: What kind of test was it?

Lorilyn: I wrote a speech by President Bill Clinton without practicing it and sent NCI my raw notes. They wanted to see how clean my stenograph writing was, how many conflicts I had in my writing, that kind of thing.

Question: What type of training is required for becoming a broadcast captioner?

Lorilyn: Most steno broadcast captioners in the past began their careers as court reporters. When I went to court reporting school many years ago, I went to school two nights a week and worked full time in my parents’ map company. It took me twenty months to graduate. I was the first night student to pass the certification exam.

Many court reporting schools today allow students to choose their career path (court reporting or captioning) before graduating, thus enabling less on-the-job training later. There are distinct differences in the training. While both use the stenograph machine, the end result is different. Court reporting must be verbatim while captioning can be summarized when needed. Court reporting does not require the extensive dictionary that captioning does, meaning it takes longer to build a dictionary for captioning work.

Captioning, while not completely verbatim, needs to be cleanly written at extremely high rates of speed. Just listen to the news or sports and imagine writing it all down. It can be very challenging. The length of time it takes to complete the training varies for both court reporting and live broadcast captioning. It depends on how long it takes the student to reach 225 words per minute.

Broadcast captioners also must have a broad knowledge base to caption many topics, including news, sports, politics, geography, Hollywood, religion, and historical events. If a word isn’t in a captioner’s individually-built dictionary, he has to be able to fingerspell it on the fly. I know many names in the news by my brief. For example, Ahmadinejad, the current president of Iran, I write apblg/apblg.

Captioners have hundreds of briefs like this floating around in their head. It can be challenging sometimes to remember them all, especially if an old story crops up that hasn’t been around for a while.

Following completion of the court reporter/captioning training program, the student should take an entry level test administered by the National Court Reporters Association, called the Registered Professional Reporter Exam, which has two sections: The first part is a knowledge test involving topics relevant to court reporting, and the second part is a written test, requiring a stenographer to write 225 words per minute for five minutes at 97 percent accuracy.

While this certification is sufficient for an entry-level court reporter, it is not for broadcast captioning. Captioning speeds often exceed 260 words per minute, and before captions begin to look really nice on a television screen, the captioner needs to be achieving a 99 percent accuracy rate. It can take many years to get to this high level.

The shorter answer to your question, what type of training is required, if a student works reasonably hard in school, he can expect to finish court reporting school in about two years, with another intense year of on-the-job training, though, of course, he will be earning a paycheck during his “apprenticeship.”

Question: Speaking of money, how much can a court reporter or captioner make?

Lorilyn: I have been out of court reporting for a long time, so I am not familiar with the rates today. Broadcast captioning rates have plummeted over the last few years because of competition from voice writers and computer translators. The newer, alternative methods are not as accurate, but sometimes the bottom line is not quality but cost. Still, if a captioner works hard, including nights, holidays, and weekends, and is willing (and qualified) to caption a wide variety of shows, he can make a comfortable income, upwards to six figures.

Examples of programming I have captioned include Fox News, CNN, ESPN, Versus, MCNBC, C-Span, Spike, The Weather Channel, A&E, HSN, QVC, MTV, Golf, Tennis, HIST, SUN, TLC, Bloomberg, Speed, CBS, NBC, and Animal Planet. It makes for interesting work. This week I am captioning the Tour de France, which has been intense but exciting.

Question: Sometimes the captions can be amusing. Is there anything you have written that you hoped no one would see?

Answer: I have had my share of boo-boos; four I will never forget. Years ago I was captioning a local channel out of Little Rock, Arkansas, and they were featuring a story about Point of Grace. The reporter talked about what great singers they were, and I captioned what great “sinners” they were. It was more comical because they were a Christian group.

Another time I was captioning a major news network (which shall remain a secret). I was supposed to start at 9:00 a.m. I had my stenograph machine all set up and ready to go and got up to get my cup of coffee. When I returned, I found one of my daughters, who was too young to know any better, writing a way on my machine imitating me. Her “captions” went out all over the world. I panicked. Fortunately no one important saw it and today I can laugh about it.

A third terrible boo-boo happened when I was captioning the weather on a major network. My word “current” came out as a no-no four-letter word. I spent the next two hours writing at least a hundred versions of the word “current” and entering it into my dictionary. Fortunately no one saw that either. The station could have been fined for that one (and I probably would have been fired).

The fourth memorable event was actually quite comical considering what our country experienced during the 2000 presidential campaign between former President Bush and Al Gore. If you remember, a major lawsuit was filed and the final ruling was made by the U.S. Supreme Court to leave it up to the states on how they conducted their campaigns. My translation came out that the United States Supreme Court ruled they should “Leave it to Beaver.”  I wrote the word “leave” twice, my brief for the movie that had just been released in theaters. I am sure a few folks got a laugh out of that one. I laughed later when I didn’t hear from my boss.

Question: How did you go from captioning to becoming an author?

Answer: I came to the point where I wanted to write my own stories rather than everybody else’s. But I am thankful for the background captioning as well as court reporting has given me. As I have pursued my dreams of writing, I have found captioning hundreds of stories over the last twelve years is not that different from writing my own. I published my first book a few years ago, children’s picture book, and knew then I wanted to pursue writing someday fulltime, but the seeds of aspiration go way back to when I was a young. My youngest daughter was still a preschooler at the time, however, and I knew I needed to postpone my writing dreams for a few more years until she was older.

I wrote my first full length book two years ago, Children of Dreams, about the adoptions of my daughters from Vietnam and Nepal. Using the stenograph machine, I wrote the first draft in about six weeks. I don’t think I could have finished it that quickly if I had written it the traditional way on the computer.

Do you plan to write more books?

Yes. I have a Young Adult fantasy book I am working on as part of my Masters in Creative Writing; but in the meantime, until I make my first million (just kidding), I will keep my day job broadcast captioning.

Question: If there anything else you would like to share?

Lorilyn: I would like to encourage readers to sign a petition I have started to ask the FCC to enact minimum captioning standards. Captions are important for the hard-of-hearing and enable them to live a normal lifestyle. 

By signing the petition, it will send a message to the FCC to pass legislation. We have all witnessed poor captions, and it’s frustrating to see the deterioration. Part of the reason is because there is no minimum standard for broadcast captioning. It’s basically whoever bids the lowest gets the contract. It would be like a lawyer practicing who never passed a bar exam; but he can get lots of work by charging less. If you don’t have a minimum standard, it allows companies who aren’t highly qualified to underbid those who are. And personally, it’s very discouraging to make less money today than ten years ago for the same amount of work.

Most states have licensing requirements for court reporters, but captioning has slipped through the cracks. Many excellent captioners have moved back into court reporting or are providing CART services for students in academic settings where the hourly rate is significantly higher.

Please take a moment and let the FCC know what it means to you to have quality captioning. A significant percent of the American population is either deaf or hard of hearing, meaning between nine and 22 out of every 1,000 people. Here is the link:

Please feel free to forward the link to anyone who would be willing to sign it.

I have also produced an educational and entertaining captioning video, CAT Captions for Television, starring my cat. CAT stands for computer-aided-transcription. You can find the link at:

Again, thank you for letting me share. In the meantime, you might just “see” me streaming live on your television if I am not working on my next book.

Lorilyn has homeschooled her daughters for the past fifteen years. She has published two books, The Donkey and the King and Children of Dreams; is president of the Gainesville, Florida, Word Weavers Chapter; and the founder of the John 3:16 Marketing Network.

Lorilyn's personal website can be found at and her blog is at You can check out her Facebook fan page where she shares writing tips at Also be sure to follow her on Twitter at!/llwroberts. To learn more about the John 316 Marketing Network, visit