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Howling Darkness Complete

I finished the novel, Howling Darkness this week. It is a young reader's novel, similar in taste to the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. I wrote this book for my grandson, Stephen, and I plan on writing another for his sister Christina.

Writing this type of novel is challenging and fun. It certainly isn't easy and after looking at R.L.Stine's biography and list of works on wikipedia, I have a lot of respect for the man. I am also toying with the idea of making my own series of books, the collection being called Dark Watch.  Stine publishes through the Scholastic Corporation. I'm not sure that this is the way to go with the Dark Watch series, though I doubt there is any reason not to.

Currently, the book idea I have for Christina's novel is not really a Dark Watch type novel. For one, I think it might be a trilogy. And two, it might be a little more young adult reading, rather than young readers. The title is HEX and I've completed the first chapter. It promises to be a fast thriller, full of vampires and scary monsters.

Dad Talk: ADHD -- Starting Out

When I was growing up (the 1965-1975 era) ADHD and ADD were called Hyperactivity Disorder. Schools and neighbors treated this diagnosis as one-step-up from taking the short bus to school. It was a Learning Disorder, a Behavioral Disorder, but most of all it was a Psychological Disorder.

I don’t know how many hours I spent talking to psychologists as a child, but it was quite a few. I don’t blame them for anything. In that period of history, we simply didn’t know any better. Ritalin was prescribed by doctors without the clarity of why it made a difference in the behavior of hyperactive children. It was also common to hear from a doctor that the child would ‘grow out’ of her hyperactivity after puberty. Some doctors today still believe this fallacy.

The 1980’s brought little change in this area of treatment, except for some brave souls who changed the name from Hyperactivity Syndrome to Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD). There were a few good insights, but not much research going on.

The 1990’s were brilliant with research. A whole new perspective on ADD, and ADHD was being described by researchers and the results of their tests. More attention to the Physiological aspects of the condition (rather than the perceived Psychological aspects conjured up in the 60’s and 70’s), was focused on.

Being a dad, growing up with this condition, as well as facing treatment for a son with the same condition, I have had to learn quite a bit about treatments, and parenting. I was required to Un-Learn even more. I started with all of the anger and frustration that came from the treatments of Ritalin and the 70’s (if the child is a little too active, dope him up). I also had clear memories of the ostracizing treatment a child feels from teachers and other parents when he has a Hyperactive diagnosis. I didn’t want my son going through the same experiences, and for a long time I refused to have my son on any treatment for his ADHD.

It was only through the work of a very patient doctor and a great deal of research on my part, that I changed my fears into experience and knowledge. I hope that this book, in which I expand on some of those experiences, helps you to make clearer decisions with your children.

Let’s start out with…I’m not a doctor. I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or even a witch-doctor. I don’t even have a snake oil cart. All I am is a Dad, who has done a great deal of reading on this subject, raised children with this condition, and still deal with the condition as an adult. I rely strongly in this book on the research done. and continuing to be performed, by some very intelligent people, all of whom I truly hope I give proper credit to with citations.

·  Kelly, Kate; Peggy Ramundo (2006). You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?! The Classic Self-Help Book For Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder. New York, NY: Scribner. pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-7432-6448-7.

·  Lane, B. (2004). The differential neuropsychological/cognitive profiles of ADHD subtypes: A meta-analysis. Dissertation Abstracts International, 64, Retrieved from PsycINFO database.

·  Barkley, Russell A. (2001). "The Inattentive Type of ADHD As a Distinct Disorder: What Remains To Be Done". Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 8 (4): 489–501. doi:10.1093/clipsy/8.4.489.

·  Milich, Richard; Balentine, Amy C., Lynam, Donald R.. "ADHD Combined Type and ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type Are Distinct and Unrelated Disorders". Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice 8 (4): 463–488. doi:10.1093/clipsy/8.4.463.

·  Murphy, K., Barkley, R., & Bush, T. (2002). Young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: subtype differences in comorbidity, educational, and clinical history. The Journal Of Nervous And Mental Disease, 190(3), 147-157. Retrieved from MEDLINE database.

·  Bauermeister, J., Matos, M., Reina, G., Salas, C., Martínez, J., Cumba, E., et al. (2005). Comparison of the DSM-IV combined and inattentive types of ADHD in a school-based sample of Latino/Hispanic children. Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, And Allied Disciplines, 46(2), 166-179. Retrieved from MEDLINE database. 

Excuses Maintain Victim Mentality

When we allow our excuses to succeed, we allow our futures to be limited. Too often we believe that an excuse is temporary -- that it excuses a current outcome, or temporary setback by illustrating a temporary limitation. Leadership Expert Christopher Avery, PhD, and Leaders such as Former Quarterback Steve Young, strongly disagree with this thought process.

The single most important quality for success in any venture is opportunity. When we successfully use excuses for our current setbacks and failures we nurture a Victim Mentality, which sets up limitations against opportunities in the future. We literally set up road blocks against our own success by using excuses.
Stanford University, with Steve Young offer a brilliant lecture series which describes this problem, as well as offering my solutions in the areas of performance, and negotiation.

Christopher Avery offers an amazing live lecture, which focuses on Leadership, and how to step away from the Victim Mentality, which strangles our futures. 

WTF Did you just Say?

I heard one of the Republican candidates, in a quick blurb, say that he wanted to restore the original glory of the United States, by bringing back “In god we trust.” How stupid was that?

First of all, the office of President doesn’t have the power to make that change.

Second, the change was made based on the meaning of the Constitution – which pits him against the Constitution of the U.S.

Third, to exactly what ‘Original Glory’ is he referring? The Founding Fathers? That group of slave owners who wanted to be free?

The only good thing we can say about our history is that we have consistently learned and grown from our mistakes – most of the time in spite of ourselves. We didn’t always feel that some of our best changes were very good at the time – for example, when Lincoln freed the slaves. A large group of good Christian folk didn’t feel that was a good move.

This nation should pay closer attention to what is being said by these guys, because what they are saying is about as Christian and Good as burning crosses on Sunday.

Medusa and Athena

By Glenn Hefley © 2011

It is difficult to transcribe, from across time, the myths of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, even more difficult to grasp the full meaning. All that we can do is attempt to understand the myths from what we know about the people, the culture and the values those people had at the time of the telling.  We also have to keep in mind, especially with the Ancient myths, that these stories were as much art as they were religion, and like art, often sought to render meaning that the people did not possess at the time of the telling – to bring to the populous a new perspective – so, it is very likely that the full meaning of some of these myths, was not understood by the original audiences. All we have is perspectives. So this writing will not be a conclusive evaluation of Medusa’s story, only a perspective.


The story of Medusa, by the poet Ovid, is one that deserves a closer examination, much closer than is popularly rendered by our own storytellers.  The origin story of Medusa is rarely told at all, we are only introduced to the monster, and the terrible weapon of her gaze; given to us as the monster in the story of Perseus.  Perseus sets out on the task of acquiring Medusa’s head. When Perseus makes the boast that he will acquire this terrible weapon, it is the vainglory of youth, which pushes him to set this term for himself. Thousands of the best warriors in the world had already gone before him with the same claim, and never returned from the island where Medusa made her home. Perseus, another son of Zeus, is young, untried and overly protective of his mother. In other words, Perseus is a boy, not a man. He is innocent, not only of the true nature of the course he set himself on, but ignorant of the power he has set out to acquire.

But, enough about Perseus for now. He is important to us later, when looking at the story of Medusa, but we should learn more about Medusa herself.

Medusa, as a young girl, wanted only one thing from life, and that was to be the high priestess of Athena. This is a lofty goal for a youth as well, but unlike Perseus, Medusa does not set out to achieve this goal without the foreknowledge of what she is getting herself into. She has the mindset of a modern career woman. That she not only achieves this goal, and becomes the high priestess of Athena, in the city of Athens (the city of Athena), tells us a great deal about Medusa. First, we know because of this achievement, that Medusa is a great warrior, both with the bow and the spear. She is educated in all of the martial arts, as well as the law. She understands and helps to inspire the arts (though it does not follow that she would have to have been a great artist herself).  In our times, Medusa would be the equivalent of a Supreme Court Justice, as well as an Army General. Further more, she achieved this status pitting herself against the best women the ancient world had to offer, including women from the cultures of Sparta and the Amazons.

Suffice it to say, Medusa is not a woman to take lightly in any circle. She did not achieve this status overnight, nor did her beauty or parents give her any advantage. Medusa is said to have been beautiful, but this is more of a contrast description to the monstrous form of the Gorgon she will become later in life. If Medusa was aware of the science, she would have thought of her beauty as only the mere chance of genetics. Beauty in her world was only an advantage for slaves. Birth was only an advantage for wives. Medusa was not interested in either profession. This is important later on, and we will return to this subject soon.

The High Priestess of a Goddess is someone who best describes the aspects of her goddess. She becomes her goddess in mortal form. Recall that the world of Medusa is a world in which the Gods and Goddesses are active participants in the lives of the people. So, there is no cheating on this one, the Goddess is checking up on her priestess.

Athena is a challenging Goddess to represent. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. She is said to have been a match for either Apollo, or Ares. Athena was born from the brain of Zeus. This aspect of the goddess is important to us as well, for both of these Gods pursued Athena, and she had no desire for either of them. Unlike other goddesses, such as Persephone or Artemis, Athena was not a woman anyone could abduct or force into anything she didn’t wish to do. She certainly would not commit herself to a man she could best. If she was not the Goddess of logic, we might be tempted to believe this was vanity on her part, but it was not… she really was that good. This is the model and aspect that Medusa strove successfully to achieve as far as any mortal could -- again, not a woman to be taken lightly.

At the height of Medusa’s power, Poseidon rapes her. He does this to her inside the Temple of Athena, in Athens.  His motives for doing this act are not explained. It can be assumed that his motives were plain, that he felt slighted by Athena’s rebukes and, being unwilling to attack the goddess directly, he choose to vent his frustration on the next best thing, her High Priestess.  It is a petty and cowardly act. Poseidon, who was the protector of many Hellenic cities, although he lost the contest for Athens to Athena. In Greek literature, he represents the physical or violent aspect of war, he is the Earth Shaker, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship. It should also be noted that it is forbidden for a god or goddess to attack another directly … and this is the driving force behind most of the plots and stories involving the gods of the Greeks and Romans.

Now comes the part that most storytellers skip right over or rush through. Medusa is no longer a virgin. That she could not possibly stop the god, or hope to match him physically is not an issue for the Goddess Athena. Medusa is not a virgin so she cannot be the High Priestess of Athena, or any level of priestess.

It is suggested, or rushed through, that Medusa’s transformation into the Gorgon at this point, by Athena, is some sort of punishment. I disagree. From what we have already learned about Medusa, her will and her aspects, I believe she requested this transformation. Perhaps not in this form, but something like “I want the power to hurt him!” Poseidon has taken from Medusa everything she worked her whole life for, and everything she felt was important. She is asking for the means to revenge, and she is asking this of the Goddess of Justice.

Poseidon has also taken from Athena, her High Priestess, a woman she felt close. A friend. She cannot attack Poseidon directly, as he did not attack her, but she can attack his favorites, as Poseidon attacked hers.

Athena does several things at this point. She changes Medusa into the Gorgon. There are other gorgons – they are immortal, and none of them turn you to stone if you look at them. They are monstrous beings, to be sure, but they are not anything like what Medusa becomes. So, turning Medusa into a Gorgon, has a separate purpose to the other aspects Athena renders on Medusa.

Athena does not give Medusa immortality. This is interesting as well. The gift of immortality is not given lightly. In fact, it is not given at all to mortals, only to Scions (those born of the union between god and mortal). Withholding this gift from Medusa would seem to be in-line with the normal case of events, except that she turns Medusa into a member of an immortal race. All of the gorgons are immortal. They are the children of Phorcys (a primordial sea god), and Ceto (a primordial sea goddess). Various stories give various populations to the number of the gorgons, from three to hundreds, but that has no bearing on our current topic. It is falsely assumed that she is turned into a Gorgon so that she has the ‘turn to stone’ power – except, again, none of the gorgons have that power.

This power is horrific and unique, in that Medusa’s gaze works against mortals and gods alike. According to Ovid, in northwest Africa, Perseus flew past the Titan Atlas, who stood holding the sky aloft, and transformed him into stone.

The name, Medusa, means guardian, or protectress. The book Female Rage: Unlocking Its Secrets, Claiming Its Power by Mary Valentis and Anne Devane notes that "When we asked women what female rage looks like to them, it was always Medusa, the snaky-haired monster of myth, who came to mind ... In one interview after another we were told that Medusa is 'the most horrific woman in the world' ... [though] none of the women we interviewed could remember the details of the myth."[16] One of the first publications to express this idea was a 1978 issue of Women: A Journal of Liberation. The cover featured the image of a Gorgon, which inside explained, "can be a map to guide us through our terrors, through the depths of our anger into the sources of our power as women."[16] In a 1986 article for Women of Power magazine called "Ancient Gorgons: A Face for Contemporary Women's Rage," Emily Erwin Culpepper wrote that "The Amazon Gorgon face is female fury personified. The Gorgon/Medusa image has been rapidly adopted by large numbers of feminists who recognize her as one face of our own rage."

Once the power of her gaze is known, and it is learned that her gaze will work even after death, Medusa’s head becomes the ancient world’s equivalent of a Weapon of Mass Destruction. A spear with her head on it could transform armies into stone. There would be nothing anyone could do to stop the holder. The possession of her head, is the possession of the world’s nations – all you have to do, is defeat her.

The Gods keep their distance -- even immortals now have something to truly fear. Thousands of mortal men, warriors, come to her island home, looking for glory. Thousands of mortal men, warriors, are turned to stone. They come as armies, they come as single champions, they come as teams. None of them leave the island. She defeats them all. It is not just her gaze that is deadly to these men. Again, she is a worthy adversary against any warrior, just as her goddess would be a challenge against Apollo or Ares, or even Poseidon. Medusa has intelligence, cunning and bravery.

Note here, now, that Medusa, as a being, is not changed at all, because she never used her beauty as an asset. The poet Ovid described the gorgons as “Hated by men.” In Medusa’s case, we could say that, “She hates them back.” These men are not coming to her island to rid the world of a threat, or a monster, though they can conveniently use this excuse if they like. They are coming to her island seeking the means to cause greater fear, greater death, greater suffering than they already cause. They come so that they can conquer and rape and pillage even more than they already have. They are the greatest warriors of the cities – the greatest warriors of the cities where Poseidon is the patron – all of Poseidon’s greatest warriors.

Reading too much into the tale? Perhaps, but again, we are talking about Athena in this story, not Hera or Venus. Athena is cunning, far thinking, and ruthless.  When the gods go to war it is Athena they look to for leadership. The alteration of Medusa, to reap a full generation of the greatest warriors of Poseidon, Mars, Apollo and others, not only befits her, but has tremendous value to her and Athens, her city.

In a way, Athena does immortalize Medusa. When Medusa is finally defeated by Perseus, so that he can save his mother, Perseus gives her head to Athena afterwards. Athena places Medusa’s visage on her shield. From that point forward, Medusa protects her Goddess forever. It should be noted at this point, that none of the gods ever slight Athena again, nor do they attack what she protects.











Keeping it going

Keeping a relationship going is a daily thing, but I was suprised to discover the advice of Dr. Gary Neuman in his book Connect to Love suggested that what women really want is time spent with their spouse. Of all the things we talk about women wanting, according to a vast amount of research, time with their spouse is number one. The majority of women in happy relationships get 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with their husbands each day. Twenty-four percent of women who claim to be in unhappy relationships spend fewer than five minutes a day with their spouses.  Uninterrupted time means time spent without iPhones and Blackberrys, a conversation with nothing else on

Thirty minutes? Seriously? Sometimes we have to adjust our perspectives a bit and ask if we really are doing what we think we are doing. Thirty minutes of uninterupted time a day, in the course of normal life, can feel like a very long time... and if we inventory, or audit how much time we give those we truely love, we may be in for a rude awakening. Between children, jobs, homes, projects, friends, bills, chores, errands, schoolwork and all the other demands of on our time, it is easy to confuse in our heads the difference between time spent with someone and time spent on someone or for someone



Mastering Story Pacing: Techniques and Insights

Pacing is a crucial element of storytelling that dictates the speed and rhythm at which a narrative unfolds. Effective pacing keeps readers ...