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On September 1, the Boston Globe carried a review of Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver by Scott Stossel. The reviewer, Scott W. Helman, sums up: “. . . it’s [Shriver’s] legacy that lives on in the immeasurable good the Peace Corps has done in the world, the untold Americans helped by Head Start, and the athletes who cross the finish line at the Special Olympics. Stossel has done the man not only justice, but a great and enduring honor.”

The IRE Journal, a magazine with resources for journalists including how-tos and tips, is published by Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. In a recent issue, senior contributing editor and a former executive director of IRE Steve Weinberg wrote about Maureen Orth’s (Colombia 1964–66) book The Importance of Being Famous: Behind the Scenes of the Celebrity-Industrial Complex calling it “The best [investigative reporting] of 2004.”  Weinberg writes of the profiles in the book, “all are examples of in-depth reporting. Best of all for lifelong learners without our craft, Orth includes seven intermingled essays about how and why she reports as she reports, writes as she writes.” Orth says one technique is leaving the courthouse and private-home stakeouts [while covering the murder of Laci Peterson in Modesto, Calif., for Vanity Fair, for example] to dig in “grubby places. “My early experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Medellin, Colombia, prepared me to fit in at any level.”
Shining Moments: Visions of the Holy in Ordinary Lives published by CSS Press is a collection of inspirational religion-based non-fiction stories which reinforce spiritual happenings in regular people’s lives. One story, “Too Churchy” by Paul Karrer (Western Samoa 1978–80) is the tale of a chiropractor who goes on a religious mission to Kenya. He is over-whelmed by the desperate need of the poor around him and he questions the purpose of his mission. However, he has a surprising moment with a former Olympic runner which solves any personal doubts he had.
FusionBranding Nick Wreden (Korea 1974–76), author of FusionBranding: How to Forge Your Brand for the Future, was quoted in USA Today on Tuesday, August 31 in an article about giving the city of Atlanta a slogan. As the article pointed out, across the nation cities, counties, states and even small towns are trying to reinvent themselves in the same fashion Atlanta is. They are adopting catchy new slogans — and often dumping old ones — to lure tourists, draw business and capture attention in a crowded marketplace. Nick says, “It’s a happening trend. Government is seeing itself as more of a business than before.” The goal (for Atlanta) is to find a slogan that plays up the characteristics of a place, resonates nationally and has a ring of truth. Pennsylvania, rich in the history of the nation’s founding, became “The State of Independence” this year. Columbia, S.C., is “Where Friendliness Flows,” and the Golden Gate city boasts, “Only in San Francisco.”
     Some people, including Wreden, question the effectiveness of slogans. “Look at Los Angeles,” he says in the article, “That is the most happening city in the country, and it doesn’t have a slogan. What does that tell you about slogans?”
     Well, I I think Las Vegas has them all beat with “What happens here, stays here.”
Philip Damon (Ethiopia 1963–65) teaches “Life Story Workshop,” a unique approach to autobiographical awareness, combining the principles of narrative writing with a universal spiritual perspective to emphasize the heroic purpose of individual life. Working with the elements of narrative in their Life Story Journals, participants recognize the “story nature” of the events, places and people in their lives, in retrospect as well as the here and now, realizing increasingly deeper levels of personal meaning. Narrative skills and personal insights are enhanced by small-group sharing and large-group discussion. The workshop is being offered for seven Saturdays, from October 2 to November 20, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Bellingham, Washington. Cost is $100 for all seven sessions. Call 360/738-9337 for registration and further information.
Damon taught creative writing and spiritual literature at the University of Hawaii for thirty-four years and his fiction and non-fiction have been widely published and anthologized. In addition to his university teaching, he has given spirituality workshops in Arizona, New Mexico, Mexico and Hawaii. He now lives in Sudden Valley, Washington, and his column “Dancing on the Brink” is a regular feature in The Bellingham Weekly.
Five photos by Bill Owens (Jamaica 1964–66) accompanied an article about Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard in the September 19th issue of The New York Times Magazine.
Jason Sanford (Thailand 1994–96) has a story, “Blue Doily Dreams,” in the current Fiction Warehouse. It can be found at:
     2005 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market has an in-depth interview with him about his online literary journal, storySouth, and the site’s Million Writers Award, his Peace Corps days, how to write a great story, and how the online writing community is shaking up the literary world.
John Sherman’s (Nigeria 1966–67; Malawi 1967–68) War Stories: A Memoir of Nigeria and Biafra was self-published in 2002, and John has been an eager beaver and hustler for his book — what all writers need to do to get attention. John hasn’t had any major reviews, but he was reviewed in the Indiana Daily Student by Brittany Ausmus, a junior majoring in finance and business economics and public policy, who wrote, “I highly recommend War Stories. It was an extremely interesting and informative read.” The book was also reviewed in WIND Magazine, that John writes is a “highly respected literary magazine.” The publication, which is currently undergoing editorial staff changes, said, “War Stories provides a window on a horrific period in Nigerian history, and on one man’s attempt to keep people alive in a sea of death.”
   While unable to get many reviews, John has been successful in getting his book mentioned in magazines and on the radio. So far he is up to 15 mentions! The book has been noted in such publications as The Friends of Nigeria Newsletter; Commission Notes, a publication of the Indiana Arts Commission; The Boox Review; even The Midwest Book Review said it was, “vivid, compelling” and The Boox Review, which is no longer published, wrote that the story is “seen through the eyes and heart of one man who so desperately yearned to make a difference for the better.” John was also reviewed in this website by another Nigeria Volunteer who was negative about War Stories and John wants to make sure readers of this publication know that his book have been well received elsewhere, especially in the Midwest.
     John, who is in real life an independent public relations executive, also managed to get on “Dialogue,” a national radio program, and be reviewed in the Albuquerque Journal, where he once lived, and in the Santa Fe Reporter, for which he once wrote a column. Reviewer Anne Hillerman in the Reporter wrote, “From his acknowledgements, Sherman makes it clear that he worked on the book while in Santa Fe, because he thanks many local writers for their assistance.” John’s book was also selected as “Best Book of Indy” in 2003 by the Indianapolis Monthly.
     What John has proven is that is if you want to get reviewed you have to promote your book, take it around, call old friends and get them to review and mention your name. It helps to have John’s outgoing personality and PR background and his determination two years later to keep promoting his book. He is an example for any writer out there, self published or not, on what needs to be done to have your work noticed.
Clifford Garstang’s (Korea 1976–77) short story, “Flood, 1978” was published online in the Summer 2004 issue (#30) of The Circle Magazine.
The June 28th Newsweek had a nice “My Turn” by Joan Lowell, a PCV with her husband in Kazakhstan 1994–96, about being an older Volunteer. They went overseas as business Vols and they have continued to travel and work with nonprofits overseas.
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