Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review of 'Foundation' by Isaac Asimov

Foundation (Foundation, #1)
Asimov's 'Foundation' is the book that launched a thousand imitators. Frank Herbert's 'Dune' series is a prime example. Star Trek is a direct descendent. At the time it was written, Asimov's vision of a Galaxy-wide empire was revolutionary, and therefore stunningly brilliant.  It is hard to underestimate the genius it takes to be the first to fully articulate a new idea and hard to appreciate that genius in hindsight, since the idea has so deeply ingrained itself in our culture.

With that said, reading this book from today's perspective, when all the novelty of the concept has completely worn away, I found this book to be unpalatable. Fortunately the Foundation series gets better with each succeeding book, but this first effort isn't even mostly science fiction--it is political fantasy.

I had always thought the title – ‘Foundation’ – referred to the establishment of some lofty and profound underpinnings of a grand intragalactic society.  Wrong.  It’s that other definition of the word: a group of stuffy bureaucrats organized to promote an agenda.  The story consists of one dreary formal 'boardroom-style' meeting after another. In it we are fed much more detail about Asimov's (impossible to swallow) vision of the political workings of society than detail about the wider scope. Action is not shown but discussed in hindsight in the board room. To me that is cowardly and stand-offish. And the writing style exacerbates this impression. It is consistently pompous.

I know I'm swimming against the tide by saying this, but having read five of Asimov's books now, I’ve had enough. On to some other authors.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Review of 'Menonite in a Little Black Dress' by Rhoda Janzen

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home
Rhoda Janzen has several things going for her that made this an enjoyable read. First, she is an interesting person. Second, she has a talent for a familiar kind of humor that juxtaposes insignificant detail with excellent comedic timing and an air of elegant absurdity. Third, she is an English professor with a PhD in the subject, so she has the qualifications and connections necessary to pull off a well written memoir. Fourth, she has a reasonably interesting story to tell. And fifth, her background (the Mennonite culture) provides an opportunity to gently educate the majority of us in a relatively little-known subject.

The book was thoroughly enjoyable to read, though not particularly memorable, distinctive, or informative. The theme (or 'story') really didn't take you anywhere. The book started out discussing her divorce from a fifteen year marriage, and there it ended. In between were various vignettes from her life, arranged in no particular chronological order, and the main theme was revisited from various angles. I would recommend it for light beach reading, which is exactly what it was for me.

It's more of a gal book than a male-oriented one, but in no way did it put me off. My Mom read it before me and I'm now passing it on to my daughter who read an excerpt and insisted I finish it quickly so she could read it all, declaring that she 'loves anything written by an English professor'.

Okay - As with any book I read this and wrote my review before reading any other reviews, so as not to be at all prejudiced.  But after having read a few of the top 1-star reviews, I was awakened to the reasonable possibility that this book could be offensive to people with some different perspectives from mine.  I approached this book with no expectations, believing that I was well outside the 'bulls-eye' of Janzen's target audience, and my expectations were met (that's a little joke).  It appears that some of the reviewers who came away from this book offended cared about the subject matter far more than I did.  And for that I respect them and do not propose to disagree with their comments at all, either in detail or overall conclusion.

***** here for my blog reader's convenience is one of the best of those negative reviews, written by Julie Sievers on GoodReads:

"I continued reading past the first chapter only by accident. I had set up the book on my nursing stand, and each time I finished nursing, I was too distracted with the baby to remember to change out the book. But if I'd had free hands, I'd have thrown it against the wall.

In this book, Rhoda Janzen commits the following crimes:

--she makes fun of her family members for being backwards hicks -- in mean ways

--she makes snarky comments about almost everyone and everything -- snarky comments which she thinks are very clever, but usually are not

--she writes as if she is telling the story to her best friend. Perhaps that is an effective technique for some types of books, but it never works here. Rather, it sounds as if she is re-working material that played well at the water cooler at work, but has now lost its mooring and audience.

--she tries hard, way too hard, to be funny

--she repeatedly pokes fun at Mennonites, Christianity, and religion in general and -- worse yet -- associates belief with lack of education and inexperience.

--in spite of Herculean efforts, she fails to be funny

--when she fails to be funny, she often resorts to jokes about farting, pooping, or other bodily functions

--her chapters wander around without knowing where they are going, and she follows any tangent that she thinks will yield her a laugh

-- did I mention that she is constantly mugging for laughs?

--she fails to understand that most of the aspects of her childhood that she characterizes as hopelessly "Menno" are not particularly unusual. She was an awkward child embarrassed by her unpolished appearance. This is not enough to make her fascinating.

--It reads as a rough transcript of a lot of conversations with her sister and best friend--both in structure (the randomness of the flow of thoughts in any given chapter) and in tone (the way in which she seems completely sure that we will feel the same way that she does and take her point of view).

The fundamental problem underlying all of these issues is that Janzen can't decide whom she wants for an audience. Most of the time, it seems that this book is a rough transcript of jokes she's told to her academic friends -- jokes where the Mennonite practices of her childhood are punchlines that only urbane, sophisticated academics can fully understand. This comes across as obnoxious. But then she drifts into a more sympathetic portrayal of some of these characters, particularly her mother, as if she is writing for those who are able to take a more nuanced and sympathetic view of religious cultures. Anyone even remotely capable of such a view would have been completely put off by the first tendency, however.

In short, I don't understand how this book ever was published. I really had no idea that such a manuscript could get through editing. But here it is.

For the record: I am an English professor, raised in a strict, conservative Christian family in a backwoods, rural area, who now lives in a town full of clever, urban sophisticates. Rhoda, you do not speak for those of us who have walked that road. Let's get that clear."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Climate change - mankind's final exam

The future is bright.  I come to you with good news and better news.  Take notes because there's a quiz at the end ... well, actually more of a 'final exam' really.

Good news first: Some day we will stop using fossil carbon.  100% guaranteed.  Yeah, even if the last molecule of it is pried from our cold dead hands.  Or maybe we’ll just keep the furnaces burning until we use it all up.

I’m guessing it will be the latter.  I don’t think carbon pollution is going to kill us—at least not on its own.  And I also don’t think our collective greed can be effectively checked as long as there’s a buck to be made.  I suspect the end of the carbon era will come as a grudging concession muttered in cynical boardrooms and black market hovels behind locked doors and drawn shades.

In the 1950's, when humanity realized that we were filling the atmosphere with radioactive fallout, we swung into action and ended atmospheric nuclear testing.  In the 1980's when the ozone hole developed and we learned that CFC's were the culprit, regulators again took effective action.  It's not so easy with carbon--there's nothing intrinsically artificial about it--there are plenty of natural sources.  It's a lot harder to call it 'pollution' and make the label stick.  But there are different kinds of pollution.  Whereas radioactivity is an active destructive agent in the human body but essentially inert in its affect on climate, carbon pollution directly targets the sustaining structures that regulate the health of the one and only atmosphere we have.  But the changes have (so far) been slow and subtle, so we allow ourselves to play the 'frog in the frying' pan game--not realizing we're being burned until we're too damaged to jump to safety.

And just as radiation sickness may not be catastrophic until a sudden run-away cancer develops, so also have climate scientists identified a whole collection of potential sudden run-away cancers in our atmosphere-earth system.  The collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet or of the North Atlantic Thermo-Haline circulation (sustaining the Gulf Stream that pumps huge amounts of heat into Europe) are two prominent examples.  Then there's the nightmare scenario of sudden massive releases of methane from clathrates on the ocean floor.  Methane is a far more intense greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Lastly, effects on the web of life have also been identified, such as irreversible desertification and the spread of insect plagues and insect-bourne diseases.

How badly will we be burned by all these potential tipping points before the carbon spigot dribbles to a stop?  How much of the planet will be rendered uninhabitable or unproductive by heat, drought, disappearance of glaciers and soil erosion?  Will there be any hope of mitigating the damage, or will the collapse of our natural support system lead to a chain-reaction catastrophic collapse of civilization?  Will carbon pollution participate in positive feedback loops involving socio-economic pressures such as wars and coups, overpopulation and uncontrollable pandemics such as influenza?

So, here's Question One of mankind’s quick two-question final exam:  "When your carbon tampering days are ended, how badly will you have soiled your own nest--that one and only atmosphere you suck into your lungs every day?"

We’ll come to Question Two in a moment …

First the better news: Someday the inheritors of Future Earth will learn to live sustainably—truly in balance and harmony with nature’s rhythms.  This is also 100% rock-solid guaranteed.

The only question is: Who will those inheritors be?

We, as a species are currently in a position to dictate the answer.  No … I said that wrong.  We are currently in a position to learn from our long-enduring stable companion species on this planet, to emulate their successes, and thus to claim the inheritance.  Or, failing that, some more capable heir will someday emerge from the rubble of our plundering and pry our inheritance from our cold, dead hands.

"Slime molds, anyone?"

Yes, that is question two.  I’ll rephrase the question three more times before I end the discussion.  First rephrase:  "Is there intelligent life in the universe?"  Bear with me on this ... it does lead back to slime molds, and to carbon pollution, I promise.

The answer to the rephrased question, of course, depends on your definition of intelligent life.

Supposing we define intelligence in the sort of mechanistic way that our technology-drunk western society loves to do--as the capability to send radio signals to space and to listen for such signals from space.  That raises some surprising issues.  Foremost among these is that by all objective measures intelligence thusly defined must be terribly short-lived.   Our statistical sample of one lonely observed case tells us that intelligent civilization has only existed for a hundred years.  In a sample of one, we have to assume that's the average!  So, on average, scientifically speaking, Intelligent life on a planet four billion years old lasts a couple hundred years (assuming 'Intelligence' takes as long to decline as it took to develop).  That's far too short a time to have any hope of exchanging notes with some other similar civilization on another world.  Note well that the silence screaming at us from outer space fully confirms this estimate: intelligence by the above definition is ephemeral at best.

Let's try on another measure of intelligence.  Let's define it as the cleverness to find a way to live long enough to be noticed by somebody out there--to sustain a stable existence through geological/evolutionary time scales without self-destructing.  I propose a modest minimum time scale for this survival test, say long enough for an observer on our nearest neighboring galaxy to detect and respond—a modest five million years.  This is a test most species on our planet have easily passed--species like our friends the eagles, the wolves, not to mention sharks, cockroaches, and—yes—that longevity sweepstakes winner: slime molds.  They are our statistical sample.  Their cultural and lifestyle choices are the proven ones.  Our own species hasn't even come close to passing this test.  So by this definition we have a long way to go before we can claim superiority in the IQ department.

So here's the second rephrase of question two of mankind's final exam:  "Who's that dunce in the corner sitting in his own defecation?"

Or maybe a slightly less pejorative phrasing: "How long is it going to take to potty-train this upstart new baby species that's already calling himself' 'wise human' (Homo sapiens)?"  A central underlying theme of my distant future Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel series 'Eden's Womb' explores one plausible answer to this version of the question.  It speculates the demise of Homo sapiens and the emergence of a much humbler, much more balanced human species that has a better chance of surviving out to the five million year minimum test criterion.

So why all this human-bashing? Humans are quick learners, no?  We know what we need to do, don’t we?

Ermm …

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review of Juggler's Blade by Rob Ross

First of all a personal note.  Rob and I began communicating soon after we learned that we both won prizes for our novels in the 2012 Maryland Writer's Association Novel Contest in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category.  Rob won second place and my soon to be published novel 'Ice King' won third.  Rob sent me a free copy of his book for me to read and review.  It was a pleasure.  So ... down to business ...

Ian is a young showman with a special gift. Yes, he is an accomplished juggler, but that's not the gift to which I refer. The gift that makes him special is telekinesis--the ability to use his mind to make things move. Ian is not yet aware of his gift, but it puts him in grave danger. It makes him `D'Natai'--Accursed--a target of the Heralds, immortals who are able to fly and wield enormous power through the use of a mineral known as dianthium. The Heralds want nothing more than to suppress and control all who possess such gifts as Ian's.

Opposing the Heralds are experienced free D'Natai such as Jolland, a friend of Ian's family, who roams the land rescuing young Accursed before the Heralds and their henchmen the Wardens get to them. Jolland maintains an underground network of `Packs' of her charges, and when Ian first unwittingly displays his gift, it is Jolland who manages to rescue him even as the Wardens are closing in.

Therein begins the tale. Ian is whisked away to a `Pack' of D'Natai living underground in the sewers of the capital city of Lodric. He is brutally hazed and trained in his skills by Della, the cynical and headstrong pack leader. Though Jolland's goal is merely to allow the D'Natai to survive and remain out of the hands of Lodric's ruling Heralds, Della wants more. She wants revenge. And she recruits Ian to help her.

`Juggler's Blade' is a fast paced fantasy tale of suspense and intrigue. Rob Ross builds the story gradually, exposing the reader by degrees to the rich and elaborate fantasy world he has constructed and to the story arc. The four fellow members of Ian's pack are all very different characters, and Ross is deft at developing their personalities. And though the writing style is sometimes wooden, occasionally clich├ęd, the plot grabs your interest from the start and keeps it as the tension builds. By half-way through the book I didn't want to put it down.

`Jugglers Blade,' published as an e-book only, is the first of Ross's `Juggler's Trilogy'. I heartily recommend it, and look forward to reading the second and third installments.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Review of 'Seven Principles in Word and Worship, Ellen Brandenburg, ed.

‘Seven Principles in Word and Worship’ is published by the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Imprint, Skinner House. It is a compendium of seven very short essays, each elaborating on one of the ‘official’ Principles that the UUA affirms and promotes.

UU congregations are notably open and non-creedal, and I’ve seen criticisms of this book that state that these seven principles amount to a creed.  Not so – at most the church considers them moral guidelines.  As nearly any church member will tell you, no statement of belief, either pronounced by the church organization, or by any individual member, is beyond the realm of free and open discussion and respectful disagreement. UU’s thrive on such discussion. Just read and contemplate the underlying arc of the principles themselves, especially the fourth.  This book would be a good place to start.

Each of the seven essays is written by a young UU minister—young enough to have been ordained after the UU statement of Seven guiding Principles was adopted in its current form in 1985.

Rather than simply list the Seven Principles here as officially adopted, I’ve chosen, as an adjunct to this review, to share my own poetic interpretation of them.  I don’t know if anyone else in the faith has noticed this, or whether the principles were deliberately crafted this way, but I find a clear symmetry to the seven principles, which I’ve reflected in my poetic rendition, offered in my favorite form—the ‘tight-rhymed Fourteener’:

To seven bold-struck rules we hold.  The first says ‘All have worth.’
The last declares: ‘Bequeath your heirs a healthy living earth.’

Rules two and six: let justice fix compassion’s primal drive
So world-wide peace achieves release from bonds for all alive.

Our fifth and third rules guide the ‘herd’ of fellow trav’lers all:
Accept and cheer your friends and peers toward growth by common call.

And at the core is number four: for balance springs from this:
Seek to be free, responsibly; dynamic truth is bliss.

In the interest of full disclosure one of these essays is written by Rev. Paige Getty of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, MD, a congregation of which I was a member.

In addition to the essays, each of which explores the individual's personal take on one of the Principles, there are six short 'Prayers and Readings' appropriate to the theme.

Since I bought the book and read it straight through, I've found myself returning to it as a reference to both broaden and clarify my understanding of a particular Principle. I've also used the readings in some of the Adult Education classes I've attended that are organized by my congregation.

In a nutshell, this is an excellent resource for people new to UUism, because it can serve as both a handbook and a jumping off point for the personal spiritual seeking that UUism so favors.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Machu Picchu - ultimate bucket list destination

May 31, 2007 is a day I'll remember as long as I have a shred of a brain cell left.  It was the day I beheld this place and fell under its spell.  Machu Picchu, likely a retreat for Inca royalty, was voted in 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.  I recommend it as a must-see destination.  What makes it so special to me is that it combines stunning examples of the famous Inca dry-stone masonry with equally stunning natural beauty.  Either alone would be worth the trip.  Here are a few more views:

I only spent a day there and chose to wander the grounds without a guide so that I could absorb the special feel of the place in my own way.  What is that special feel?  I guess the best way I can describe it is a sense of gratefulness that an ancient people took the time and energy to glorify this natural setting in a way that did not despoil it but enhanced it.  All that was man made was wrought of natural materials, and all that was built was designed to glorify nature rather than subdue it.  The focal point, the Intihuatana has been described as an astronomical marker but it and other carved stones around Machu Picchu are also scale models--physical representations of the prominent peaks as viewed from the site.  Note in the photo below the low spur on the right top of the carved stone which mirrors the extended spur to the right of Wayna Picchu behind.

The Intihuatana - 'Hitching Post of the Sun'
The prominent peak in the background in many of the photos above is Wayna Picchu.  There's a trail up this mountain, and they allow 400 people per day to climb it.  It's well worth the hike if you're in decent shape.  Here's a look at the start of this trail, with the precipitous walls of the Urubamba River canyon at right:

There are many ruins clinging to the upper slopes of Wayna Picchu, and some of the sacred 'scale model' stone shrines as well.  The third of the photos below shows two such stones along with a view down on the main Machu Picchu grounds from high on the mountain.  It gives you an idea of the precarious switch-back bus ride necessary to reach it.

It was a long day.  I came to Machu Picchu by train from Cuzco and returned late that evening.  While in Cuzco I had the opportunity to visit several other Inca sites that feature the dry-stone masonry.  Here's a detail view from one of these sites, called Raqchi.

The most impressive example of this stonework that I saw was the expansive walls made of gigantic boulders at Saqsaywaman (gotta love the name - pronounced almost like 'Sexy Woman') which is swarming with people because it's just a few miles from downtown Cuzco:

From Cuzco I traveled south to Bolivia by bus, and in Bolivia I had an opportunity to trek one of the lesser used Inca Roads, far from any tourist destination and so untrampled (the famous Inca Road trek to Machu Picchu is today a well-worn path), still perfectly preserved many centuries after it was built.  Here are two photos.  The second is especially impressive to me because it is taken in a tiny village called Takesi which has no electricity and no access by any conventional road--only via the ancient Inca Road, built by a culture that did not have the wheel.

Since 2011 the number of visitors to Machu Picchu has been limited to 2500 per day.  It's one of those fragile places that was being 'loved to death'.  Make your reservations early.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review of AWOL on the Appalachian Trail by David Miller

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
In 1981 Chris Miller, having graduated from High School and not ready to go to college, took off hiking around Florida.  Then after a couple weeks he hitchhiked to Georgia and started hiking the Appalachian Trail--no tent, no stove, no money, no plan.  When he got to Damascus, VA, having accomplished the first 465 miles of the trail, he decided to go on and do the whole thing.  And he did.  That's all we're told in his brother David Miller's book 'AWOL on the Appalachian Trail'.  I want to know more.

In 2003 David, then 41 years old, was having a typical mid-life crisis.  After a year of planning and considering options, he quit his job and headed out deliberately, with full support of his wife and three girls, and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail (but see the last paragraph).  We are never told how much his brother's hike from 21 years earlier influenced him, even subconsciously.  It leaves me wondering about sibling rivalry, how close the brothers are, etc.  Again I found myself craving more information.

A good story-teller might have jumped on this opportunity to add more richness to the narrative.  But David Miller is not a story-teller.  He's a reporter - he wrote bi-weekly newspaper articles about his hike as he was doing it, and originally never intended to write a book at all.  When he did, it turned out to be essentially a long report--a chronicle of his experience.

Professionally David is a computer software engineer.  And his writing style is exactly what you would expect from one who carefully writes and debugs computer code.  It is free of typos and grammatical errors, heavy on simple, short declarative sentences, is written in the first person present tense, and when he discusses his emotions in his narrative he tends to describe them rather than immersing the reader in them.  It left me with the overall impression of a 'workmanlike' piece of prose--it got the job done, and done pretty well, but remained very squarely 'inside the box'.

And maybe that's a good thing.  As it turns out, 'AWOL on the Appalachian Trail', David's personal memoir, has become a companion to his popular yearly-updated 'The AT Guide' - a no-frills encyclopedia of data and information for the hiker who is actually on the trail living the experience for him/herself.  The two books complement each other well.

'AWOL on the Appalachian Trail' contains relatively little information about David's gear or his planning.  It leaps directly into his first day on the trail at Springer Mountain and concludes with his summit day on Katahdin with his wife and oldest daughter.  In between it tends to focus about equally on trail description and his personal battles with various health issues, description of fellow hikers and hostel keepers and his interactions with them, and elaborate, glowing analysis (every long distance hiker identifies with this) of very ordinary food.  As such, the strength of the book is that it gives the reader a good solid feel for the day-to-day reality of doing a thru-hike with enough detail to make it real, but not so much that it becomes tedious.  Finding that balance is a hard thing for a writer to do, and the continuing popularity of this book is testament to the fact that David did it well.

Okay,  now for the niggling little personal pet peeve: The hard-core "every white blaze" purist would say that David's hike, as described, was incomplete.  When I hiked my double in 2012 I followed the marked official trail route without fail (once northbound, once southbound), and always meticulously connected my (invisible) footprints from one day's segment to the next.  So this point stood out for me.  David skipped a half mile around the Loft Mountain Campground in Shenandoah National Park, VA and an even shorter bit of the upper end of Crawford Path between the West Side Trail and the summit of Mt. Washington, NH.  No big deal - he hiked his own hike in his own way - it does not detract one iota from my respect for the man or this book.  It's just one of those peculiar things that you mention when you're reviewing a book that already has a bazillion reviews and are looking for something original to say before you utter the obligatory 'great book', 'highly recommended', 'one of the top five Appalachian Trail hiking books of all time'.  David's book is all of those things.  Bottom line: it's an accessible, balanced every-man's memoir which has inspired uncounted hundreds or even thousands of prospective AT hikers.  Bravo!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Stella G. Maddox is a riot

Quirky sense of humor, geeky engineer, stay-at-home mother of three, frustrated, knee-jerk contrarian, and venting it all in writing with a rare natural talent that transcends her mundane existence - that, in a nutshell, describes author Stella G. Maddox.  This week Huffington Post recognized the gift that she has for turning a phrase by selecting one of her many delightful tweets as tops among their selection for 'Best Parenting Tweets'.

Here are a few more of Stella's gems from Twitter:

My new twin nephews make me want to write an inspirational tweet about my hysterectomy.

Me, trying to be nice: "What a beautiful necklace." Grandma: "Look closely. It says Do Not Resuscitate. Don't you dare bring me back."

 At what age is it socially acceptable to begin discussing strategies to incarcerate my spouse in a nursing home?

 You haven't truly been embarrassed until your 4 yr old provides an out-loud, play-by-play commentary of your visit in a public bathroom.

 I was voted most likely to succeed if you're looking for a reference point to determine how far my life derailed.

 Why yes, I did feed my kids toaster waffles for dinner so I could go to the gym instead of cooking. I think I deserve a man card.

 We're going to my parents tomorrow, so feel free to start insulting me now to prepare me for the onslaught.

 My mom read my book and hasn't spoken to me since. Do I categorize that as success?

 Who knew I'd excel at writing dysfunctional sex? At least my life experience is good for something.

Want more?  As those last two tweets imply, Stella  has written a book of fiction based on her life experience, but amplified.  Noting her eccentric sense of humor and her wonderful ability to express irony, friends had suggested that she write a fantasy that would elevate the experience.  Her reaction:  "What if instead of making it better, I made it worse? Much, much worse? A Thousand Tiny Cracks, my first novel, is the result."

A Thousand Tiny Cracks
'A Thousand Tiny Cracks' was published by All Things That Matter Press in March, and it has received excellent reviews.  Here's a good descriptive example, offered by 'Al in the County':

" I was thrilled with this book. Written from the perspective of Stella, a professional turned stay-at-home mom with two children, it is an emotionally raw and thoughtful look at a modern day, 30 something year old woman who is trying to find who she is and what love is.

I won't go into details about the plot, but I will say that there were numerous times that Stella, the main character, faced decision points as to whether or not she should pursue her search for life and love or close that door. A credit to the author that you were never able to predict which turn she would take.

I highly recommend this book for anyone. A great read that made me reflect on my own life and relationship and the choices I make."

I'm a happily retired male, and 30 years older than Stella Maddox, but somehow I feel kindred - I can identify with her.  That alone tells me she has a rare gift indeed.  Stella lives in southern Ohio with her husband, three children and two cats.


This is the twentieth of an occasional series of Author profiles that features fellow authors in the All Things That Matter Press family.