Tag Archives: family

The Fun of Genealogy

lucille-ball-19I love genealogy. I love the research aspect and more than anything I love the discovery aspect. My husband clings diligently to the “Adam & Eve” theory that we are all related and the rest is just a waste of time. That’s fine for him,  but I guess I am more about the how of the connections. If I am potentially connected to someone, I want to know how, by who, or is it whom. Either way, I want to know.

So, I am a huge fan of Ancestry’s “We are Related,” and Family Search’s “Relative Finder.” I spent yesterday tracking my connections to some of the famous movie stars I am potentially related to. I am always tickled when I can line everyone up to fit.

Below is my most current list of potential famous movie star relatives.

  1. Francis Phillip Wupperman (Frank Morgan)
  2. Eldred Gregory Peck
  3. William Edgar Buchanan
  4. Elizabeth Victoria Montgomery
  5. Humphrey DeForest Bogart
  6. Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives (Burl Ives)
  7. Jackson DeForest Kelley
  8. Harry Lillis Crosby II (Bing Crosby)
  9. Jane Waddington Wyatt
  10. Jesse Donald Knotts (Don Knotts)
  11. Lloyd Vernet Bridges II
  12. Margarita Carmen Cansino (Rita Hayworth)
  13. Joseph Frank Keaton (Buster Keaton)
  14. Fess Elisha Parker II
  15. Lucille Desiree Ball
  16. Mary Frances Reynolds (Debbie Reynolds)
  17. Frances Ethel Gumm (Judy Garland)
  18. James Harrison Coburn


I look at this list and two things stand out for me. I am potentially related to the two main characters of the Wizard of Oz, and I am related to a number of strong, beautiful and very funny ladies. Must be in my genes.

Accidents Happen (Guest: Robert P. Bennett)

I’ve just signed a contract for my second novel, “Blind Traveler’s Blues.”

Wow, that feels good!

People ask me all the time. “How did you become a writer?” For me it wasn’t something I had always dreamed of being. It was an accident – literally !

Growing up I wanted to be a lawyer. Frankly, I always enjoyed arguing with people. My family would tell you that my ideas were not mainstream, and that I always find a different point of view than those around me. Alas, I was never a good student. I was not one of those kids for whom learning was easy. And, I was terrible at taking tests. I would study hard, feel I knew the material going in to test day, but then freeze up when the test paper sat before me on the desk. So, I never got the exceptional grades needed to get into a law school.

My saving grace was my mother. She convinced me that, since I always wanted to help people, and always argued the point of view of the disenfranchised, that I would make a good social worker ( her own calling by the way ). At the time I wasn’t sure I agreed. But, I finally decided, I could go to social work school for one year and reapply for law school ( with hopefully better grades ) if that was still what I wanted to do. I finished my studies, got my MSW, and went to work at a group home for mentally challenged men. And then I had a car accident!

Car accidents are great if you want to completely change the direction your life is going. Frankly, they serve no other useful purpose, and I don’t recommend them as a fun way to spend a few minutes. But, it was because of the accident I became a writer, again with my mother’s help (no, mom was not in the car when I had the accident).

At the time she was working at a mental health agency where someone, for some reason, had posted a notice for classes at a place called The New York Studio for Writers. As it turned out, the school was only a couple of minutes from our home. Well, Mom remembered that I had always been writing stories and little diddies growing up. She gave me the notice. I made a phone call. Soon after, I was sitting with a small group of wannabe writers learning the craft.

That was more than seventeen years ago. Since then I’ve devoted my life and my writing skills to what I call “issues of disability,” everything from sports to politics. I write about people who challenge societal views of what we commonly, and mistakenly, call ‘disabilities’ and ‘handicaps.’ I write about technology that helps people with disabilities lead better, easier, more productive lives. I write about social and physical barriers and how to circumnavigate them. You see, what I’ve learned over the years is that we’re all disabled in one way or another. Some disabilities, like my need for a wheelchair, are more obvious than others. Some, like glasses or hearing aides, are more socially accepted. In my worldview, it is society itself that is disabled because it consciously or unconsciously creates physical/intellectual/emotional barriers for people.

Some six years ago or so I wrote an article about a prototype device that would combine GPS and virtual reality technologies to allow blind people to navigate through their world. After the article was published, my brother and I thought, “what would happen if the device had a glitch, allowing the user to ‘see’ an event that was happening a few blocks away from where he currently was.” That became the impetus for Blind Traveler Down a Dark River, the first book in the Blind Traveler series. The second book, Blind Traveler’s Blues, is soon to be published, in ebook format, by Echelon Press.

If you have something to say, don’t wait for an accident – try writing.

Robert Bennett
Issues of Disability
Author: The Blind Traveler Series

Torn from Normal: My Review

I am sure that if you know who I am, you probably know who Martin Bartloff is. Martin and I have a history where his book is concerned. But during the month of November, while we werre both participating in NaNoWriMo, he had some doubts as to whether he could finish his. So I made a deal with him, if he made his 50,000 words, I would read his book by 12/16/2010. You can see by the date of this post, that I have days to spare.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to read his book because I didn’t think it would be good, I had explained to Martin several times, that it just wasn’t my type of book. I had chosen not to read it for very personal reasons. Martin now knows those reasons, but it seemed very important to him that I read this book, so I did.

I finished it today. It was exactly as I expected it to be. I had some issues, but all techinical. Below you will find my very honest review of Martin Bartloff’s TORN FROM NORMAL. Would I recommend this book? you ask. Absolutely. It is a wonderful book, just be prepared. LOVE STORY ain’t got nothin’ on TORN FROM NORMAL when it comes to emotion.

“Martin Bartloff has taken a horribly complex topic and developed a beautiful story from it. TORN FROM NORMAL is by far one of the most emotional books I’ve ever read. Bartloff uses his warm voice/style to tell readers a stirring and evocative tale of teen angst. Broaching the most difficult of topics, from adoption, grief, and teen suicide, Bartloff takes readers into the very hearts and souls of his characters as they deal with each of these things. Martin Bartloff has the spirit of a remarkable storyteller and should be applauded for his deft handling of such darkness.”

On a different note, if you read my Blog on any kind of regular basis you know that one of our Echelon authors is going through a horrible time right now. We are all saying lots of prayers for Dave Anderson (author of KILLER COWS), but Martin took things a step farther. Martin has committed to donate all his profits from his Kindle sales through Christmas to Dave and his family. You can check out the info on Dave’s condition by visiting his page on The Caring Bridge. But you can also help Dave and his family by purchasing your copy of TORN FROM NORMAL by Martin for Kindle.

Torn from Normal:

Torn from his normal life by a double tragedy, Andy Riley finds himself living on the beach with street kids. When a robbery goes wrong, the kids attack him. A blue Porsche races to the rescue—driven by the man his friends tried to rob.

Danny has had many foster brothers over the years and knows his father won’t leave a kid bleeding in an alley all alone. They bring Andy home and discover a boy in the depths of despair. Danny welcomes Andy as a new brother, eager to soothe his own loneliness and offer his help and friendship.

An abusive aunt, eager for the government check to support her nephew, demands custody of Andy. The loss of his new family is more than he can bear. When he disappears, Danny and Marvin hurry to find him, before it’s too late.

Bad News Be GONE!

Here it is Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:04…yeah, A.M.  Who the hell gets up at 6 A.M. on Saturday morning? I try to sleep until at least 7:30, otherwise I begin to wind down by 2 ish.

This past week has been plagued by one bad thing after another, a few of the highlights are the five bombings in Lahore, Pakistan where we have family, my ISBN Log (where I assign ISBN’s to our books and keep track of the titles and authors, cause each book and format has to have its own ISBN) got corrupted and ate all the info, and my Plantar Fasciitis is in full major pain mode (like I have time to soak my foot.)

But while these and a myriad of other things have been hell on my stress level, there have been some good things to mention.

  1. We have completed and are sending the adoption papers to INS. Yup, hubby and I are adopting a baby from Pakistan. We are certain he will grow up to be President of the world. I’m just sayin’.
  2. I got a person at Borders Corp. who is actually going to help me get the money Borders owes me for books. Woohoo!!!
  3. The snow is all melted here in Laurel, MD. Okay, it took a lot of rain to do it, but you can see the grass! Yeeha!!

If those things aren’t enough to make you smile, then here are a few links to get the ol’ happy juices flowing. I leave you with the good…

A Haiti adoption with a happy ending   *this is especially interesting to me since we are adoptig internationally. All children deserve happy and loving homes.

Alex on track with its first childhood development centre *being a former PreK teacher it warms my heart to see that South Africa is doing so much to help raise the next generation for success and happiness. Go South Africa!

Charming Prince gives monarchy a boost Down Under *This young man has so much of his mother in him. He will make her very proud.

Building free homes for wounded vets *I have nothing but love for those who give back. This man is more than a hero, he is a role model!

Have a HAPPY HAPPY Saturday!


The Streets of Insanity

Happy Sunday. Yup, it is Sunday already. I know a lot of you have been waiting for the next installment of my adventures in Pakistan. Well, I cannot find any of the pieces I wrote, so I am going to wing it from memory.

Keep in mind that I got sick on day three, so a lot of it is a blur. But here goes.

My first week was actually pretty exciting. Since my luggage was lost we went out looking for clothes for me to wear until I got my own. Much to my annoyance, after visiting two different bazaars and about ten shops, we discovered that they don’t sell clothes for people my size. Now, let me tell you what. I used to be a size 24/26 close to 300 pounds. I am now wearing 16/18 and am only weighing in the 230’s (depends on which day of the week.) So to not be able to find any clothes large enough was really quite honestly pissing me off.

Add to this that I don’t understand a single word anyone is saying to me. My husband has even slipped back into his native tongue and I am feeling sorely left out. Now, as to my clothes. Okay, I’ve been in them for about 40 hours at this point and I probably smell bad, but I don’t think it is bad enough to cause everyone to stare at me. And everyone is staring at me. I later discovered it was because my clothes were too tight. Seems as though the Pakistanis don’t appreciate the snug fits of Americans or Europeans.

So after a few tears (mine of course) we make our way to a fabric store where I will choose the cloth for my new outfit. The fabrics are absolutely beautiful. Most of what we look at is embroidered. It is the big thing, and for good reason. After some haggling with my newly-met mother-in-law- and sister-in-law, they decide on a good color for me. I have grown to love them very much, but they are very influential when they choose to be.

I stopped in a few stores looking for books. I figured I would do lots of reading over there on my laptop, but electricity is something else there. Because of the lack of energy in Pakistan they are on a load sharing program. Every couple of hours the lights go out in different areas for an hour at a time. It is very weird to all of a sudden be sitting in the dark with no power. But alas, this has been going on for so long that the locals are used to it. Many have set up their own generators to compensate in those times. However, it does make it difficult to work on a laptop and to stay charged.

In the bookstores I stopped in, I could not find any fiction written in English. They have tons of textbooks and children’s readers, but none of the fun stuff. I was reading THE GILDED SEAL by James Twining and was nearing the end. I was getting very worried. What about my IPod and all the eReader programs I have loaded onto it? Seems as though when I switched computers and synched on the new one, I did not move the eBooks and so there were NONE loaded. I wanted to fall under a truck. Oh well.

Now, going back to the trips into the bazaars to shop, I have to mention the traffic in great details. There are NO traffic laws. Oh, they have been written and a few of them actually posted, but they are like Atlantis, gone, gone, gone. We get into the car and we head out. We are not even out of the driveway before a car coming down the side street is honking at us because we are not driving fast enough. Our next turn is onto another side road where there are around 30 bikes, maybe a dozen motorcycles, and a line of cars, actually two rows of cars, going the same way on a two-way street, unfortunately we have to go in the opposite direction of them. So the husband (who I never knew possessed the skills of aversion that he does) whips the little car out into the melee. Cars are coming at us. Cars are swerving around us going both directions from both sides. Cars are nearly brushing up against us…I swear one of the cab drivers had a sty in his eye and we were so close I could see the damn thing.

Now, we have to go out onto a main road. Holy CRAP. Now we have a two-lane road with four rows of traffic. No kidding. I am seeing motorcycles with three and four people on each one. Entire families ride on one little Kawasaki. But by God, they are smiling. The “cool” thing about Pakistan drivers is they never flip you off and they always smile just before they push the front fender of your car out of their way. Truly a friendly group of lunatic drivers.

My final observation for the day is the level of poverty I saw while in Pakistan. When you drive through the small towns, the buildings are barely standing, there have been little improvements on them since their initial placement, and some of them honestly look like they might fall down at any moment.

There are hundreds of people who literally live on the side of the road. Some are fortunate enough to have tarps that they stretch between trees or sticks they dig into the ground, but many simply have a cot that they set on the side of a road and tie their goat or donkey to. There are neighborhoods where the housing is so scarce that I wondered if they were actually populated, but when you get in, you notice that they are actually overpopulated.

Everywhere you look there are armed soldiers and police. They simply watch. The police blockades are frequent and in some places they write down every license plate that passes through their sector. It sounds very scary, but in all actuality, there was nothing scary about it. Once you realize how normal that is, it becomes sad.

Here is a culture that is one of the most creative and outgoing I’ve ever seen and they are relegated to poverty because their government refuses to organize and acknowledge their existence. How can that possibly be? I think they simply don’t care. They have their fancy houses and their bank accounts and they have the power to allow hundreds of people to die with nothing. And yet, the people living on the streets smile and nod as you pass. They greet each other with firm handshakes and warm hugs. It is incredible.

But now it is time for our weekly call to the family, so I will sign off so I can get the actual recipe for my sister-in-laws Chicken Corn Soup. It was heavenly.

Next time. Fast Food in Pakistan. Yup!

You can’t go home…

I recently read a series of posts on a Yahoo group that I found very sad. Not jus sad, but very sad. Several people spoke of their pasts and where they came from. The images evoked such dismay that I could not let it pass without comment.

Graceland, Memphis, TN

These poor people talked about how things had changed in the places and neighborhoods where they once lived. They told sad stories of vandalized homes and razor wire surrounding schools. Heartbreaking. I understand. I try not to go home because it is always such a disappointment to me to see how things have deteriorated. I also found great sadness during the few years I lived in Memphis. A city filled with such historical splendor and it is horribly abused and neglected. What could I do? Well, one thing I am doing is working on a story that celebrates some of Memphis’ fine history. Some day it will see publication and others will be able to enjoy the thrill I get each time I am there and I dig for the richness that once was.

In twelve days I will be traveling to Pakistan with my husband. That is the land of his birth and I know that every time he goes back, the changes affect him dramatically. But he has never lost site of what was and is still is mportant to him about home. I learn a lot from him.

With that in mind, I propose this.

As writers and publishers don’t you think we could make a change in all this? Every time I go home I feel lost. I admit it. But I just keep moving and try not to look back, like if I don’t pay attention it won’t really be there. It serves no good purpose.

What if as a collective a group of writers and publisher started a movement to rebuild our old communities and surroundings, one page at a time? We use words as our tools. We paint pictures with those words. We have the ability and the talent to bring those images of beauty and peace back to those areas and to those people who now inhabit them.

What if 1000 writers all took to their computers and wrote essays, articles, short stories, books, etc. painting the images that we so vividly recall?

I would think that with as many magazines as there are out there that a series of well-written articles with some beautifully nostalgic photos might bring about the stirrings of possible change. 

We can all hang out here and feel bad about it, but what if we each made one little effort and then went to one other person to make one little effort, and so on? Don’t you think that the power of the word has the ability to change? It can certainly change for the worse, why don’t we MAKE it change for the better?

These places are our heritage, our roots, doesn’t that make it our responsibility to breathe life back into them?

I’d love hear about where you are from.

A Day of Rest

For most people Sunday is a day of rest. Not at our house. For some reason this is the day my husband has chosen for us to put everything back into order from the week before. So let’s talk about what I did today.

Thankfully, we went grocery shopping yesterday, so the Wal-mart and Sam’s Club trip was out of the way. Of course we left at 10:30 am yesterday and got home just before 3:00. But that was yesterday.

I got up this morning, late of course, I rarely sleep until 10, but today I did. When I got up I found that yesterday I had mentioned making a big breakfast, so I did. For those of you who know me, I am not so much the health freak, but now that my mother aka the general manager is living with us, her and I are on a course for better health and increased endurance, so healthy eating it is. Mush to my husband’s dismay, we are dragging him along with us. Poor thing is starving. LOL

I made our wonderful breakfast. Boiled eggs, hash browns, low sodium turkey bacon, and fruit. Mom had a bowl of cereal w/ a banana, hubby had a piece of my homemade Applesauce Cinnamon Raisin bread that I made yesterday, and I had a Nutrigrain and fruit bar. All in all a great start. We all sat at the table as a family and ate together. Nicely done.

We then cleaned the apartment. Dusting vacuuming, putting things away, unpacking mom’s suitcases, scrubbing bathrooms, and mopping floors. When does the madness end I ask you???

I made lunch. Rice with ground turkey and spices, carrots, and 18 grapes. Yes 18 each. All of this I did while mom read her David Baldacci book. Um…what’s wrong with this picture? Again, we all sat at the table and ate together. Shocking!

Well, then I had to come into the office and unload boxes of books that were received over the last week, you know the ones that I had to take out of the main room where they sat against a wall all week. So I had to rearrange shelves to make room, and stow away all the packing filler and break down boxes etc.

So then once all that was done, we started in on laundry. Five loads later, it is all washed, dried, and now stacked precariously across my bed. Sleep is not imminent…sigh.

Wheat Bread Run Amuck!I put the ingredients into the bread maker for this week’s loaf. Wheat bread-made white last week, thought I would alternate. Well, 2+ hours later, the wheat bread had run amok. Yes, I mean amok. This picture is verifiable proof of what happens when good wheat bread gets attitude. So tomorrow, I will make a loaf of white bread. Wheat bread be damned!

Okay, I worked a little bit on a new plan that Echelon has for increasing our eBook sales. New products on the horizon for interested readers. Keep checking back. So by the time 4:00 rolled around it was time to get dinner ready, so I plunks a chicken into a pan with some cut up potatoes and carrots, popped it into the oven and waited…and waited…and waited. Finally at 7:00 I said the hell with the crunchy carrots and took it out, made gravy, and we all sat down at the table for dinner together. Huh!

That my friend’s is a record for me. It is the first time ever that I sat down with anyone (much less the same people) three times in one day to eat all of our meals together at the table as a family. Ever in my life. No kidding.

Why have I told you all this? Because after this day, I am just too damn tired to try and think of anything clever to say and I really wanted to post a new blog. So, there you have it.

What did you do on this day of rest? Top my day (and be honest) and I will e-mail you a FREE PDF of my novel DARK SHINES MY LOVE. But it’s gonna have to be good to earn a free books! 🙂

If you actually rested, you can always go to Amazon and buy a copy of my book. I would appreciate the sale. LOL