Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning.
Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations - authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we're all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done.
Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and Scoop.co.nz.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (705 views) Why Should We Care About Bookstores? Who Reads Anymore, Anyway?
Bookstores are considered a dying species despite the role they have played in communities as centers for the exchange of information and ideas.I can't predict the future but for people who enjoy the bookstore experience-browsing for books,discussing them with other book-lovers,acquiring them for their libraries-I suggest they take advantage of their existence while they still can. Future alternatives might not be as much fun
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (975 views) Behind the Scenes with Hollywood Screenwriter, Robert Avrech
I learned more about making movies from the late director Sidney Lumet than from any single person.Sidney insisted that a script must have, at its core, an essential truth that the audience recognizes. He also said that 90% of a director's job is in casting the right actors. If you put the wrong actor into a role, no matter how well written and directed, the film will fail. Watching Sidney work with actors was a revelation.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (904 views) Comedian Mark Schiff's Done it All: Seinfeld, Carson, Letterman and Leno - Now What?
I've been doing private events and touring with Jerry Seinfeld. I was at Caesar's Palace with him a few times in the last couple of years. It's a great gig. Private jets and five-star hotels. One of the things I'm most proud of is that I work clean. There is no cursing in my act. I can't tell you how many people appreciate that. The play is also a rare bird these days. There is, I think, one curse word in 90 pages.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (528 views) Novelist Corban Addison Tackles Human Trafficking in "A Walk Across the Sun"
After months of reading and interviews, I traveled to India and Europe. I went to court with lawyers, visited safe houses and met girls rescued from the sex trade; I interviewed field agents about their work investigating pimps and brothel owners; and I went undercover into the brothels of Mumbai to meet trafficking victims firsthand. Without this, I could never have written an authentic story.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (456 views) Producer/Director Jake Kornbluth Shares the Backstory of "Inequality for All"
I'm 40 years old, and it hit me -this is both the story of our times, and the story of my life.I felt like I had to make this film,and dropped everything to start working on it right then.This was an incredibly difficult intellectual and storytelling problem.One of the things I'm proudest about is that the film feels coherent despite these challenges. And audiences have told me that it hits them in both the head and the head.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (554 views) Getting to Know Best-Selling Author Jacquelyn Mitchard, Part 2
Being a reporter, I learned that you can ask anyone about anything and, generally, that person is going to tell you even more than you want to know and certainly more than you would ever write down. Being a reporter also taught me to never waste a word, to write lean. Most importantly, it taught me to get it right. People can say about my stories, oh that was so clunky and stupid. But they can't say it's wrong.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (1993 views) Getting to Know Best-Selling Author Jacquelyn Mitchard
I grew up with the story of Our Lady of Angels fire all around me. It was more than an event, it was a sunset on the bright stable way people saw their world. That fire blew that neighborhood up. There was no one who didn't know someone who'd died in OLA. I was struck by how surviving an event could be just as paralyzing as dying in that event -- that the survivors were changed forever.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (793 views) Novelist Karen McQuestion's "A Scattered Life"
I didn't set out to break the publishing rule that says authors need to brand themselves for marketing purposes. I just like to read and write all different kinds of stories. And since I was having some difficulties getting published at the time, there was no one to tell me what to write.So I just followed my ideas wherever they led me.
I have nine books published--two for kids, four for teenagers, and three for adults.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 (858 views) Best-Selling Author John Lescroart Talks About Latest Book, Prisons, Writing & Friendship
One of the truisms I discovered is that the jail's inmates are in many ways a truly invisible population. Nobody spends a lot of time worrying about them, even though the environment is ripe for abuse. If somebody dies in jail, it's probably not going to make headlines. I thought that putting the jail in the center of this book's conflicts would add an unusual and powerful element to what is otherwise a highly domestic story.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (511 views) Award-winning Children's Author Blue Balliett on "The Danger Box" and More
I'm always fascinated by how kids -- and the rest of us -- learn most effectively. I [taught] at UC Lab Schools for ten years. Ms. Hussey and I see eye to eye philosophically, but I would probably have been fired if I'd done all of the wild things she did! I was, however, a teacher who loved to launch into unpredictable, real-world investigations with my classes, adventures driven by the curiosities of the group.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (449 views) Part Four: Chatting with Uncommon Thinker and Best-Selling Author, Robert Fulghum
And I say, in one way or another, "The world is full of evil and good as it's ever been. But you don't want to miss the good stuff." And, if I have a message, that's pretty much what it is. I don't think that's self-defense or an apology. It's just where I am. I end the essay "The world and the universe go their inevitable way. And meanwhile" I know what I can do. And meanwhile" I do that."
Monday, June 4, 2012 (332 views) Chatting with Uncommon Thinker and Best-Selling Author, Robert Fulghum, Part Three
I've played in two or three bands in my life. But the one that got all the press was the Rock Bottom Remainders, which was a group of writers Stephen King, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, people like that. And a publishers' rep in SF found out that we were musicians and it was her idea that we should put this band together and we would raise money for good causes and, in the meantime have a lot of fun.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (377 views) Part Two: Chatting with Uncommon Thinker and Best-Selling Author, Robert Fulghum
I don't have to be in one place anymore as a writer.I've got family in Seattle.I have friends now in many places. I feel so lucky that I can go and live in a place like Bali for several months and think, "Wow, mine is not the only way to live in the world." You know that abstractly. You live in a village, you experience it; that really jars you loose from your prejudices and preconceptions.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (324 views) Chatting with Uncommon Thinker and Best-Selling Author, Robert Fulghum
You suddenly look in the mirror and think "Why, I are a writer now. "And if they'll take that stuff,maybe if I put my mind to it, I could write something else." So, the second book, It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It came along. And they traded #1 and #2 at the top of the NYT best-seller list for months. And so I thought, "Well, this is something I can do." It'd be crazy not to see how far it would go.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (313 views) Part Three: Talking with Dr. Temple Grandin, Author of "Thinking in Pictures"
I had a terrible time.I was just teased absolutely horribly. If I hadn't had my science teacher in high school,I would have been in a real mess.He got me to start studying.I didn't see any point in going to school.Once I became convinced that I wanted to achieve this goal of becoming a scientist,I stopped messing around and started studying.Because now I had a goal of becoming a scientist.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (306 views) Part Two: Talking with Dr. Temple Grandin, Author of "Thinking in Pictures"
When the animal welfare issue came up first, they go “Oh, animal welfare. Big hassle. Give it to the lawyers, give it to the public relations department. Make it go away.” Then, when I took them out to the plants and things are going right and they're saying “That's not so bad,” but when things were going bad, oh, eyes got opened up. They were saying “Whoa. There are some things here that we need to change.”
Monday, June 4, 2012 (389 views) Talking with Dr. Temple Grandin, Author of "Thinking in Pictures"
One of the things that I started looking at very early in my career was all the little things that animals are afraid of. You know I'd get down in the chutes and I could see that the cattle would balk at a shadow, or a shiny reflection, or a chain hanging down and all these things that people tend to not notice. And if you removed these things from the facility, then the animals are going to walk right up the chute.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (358 views) Part Two: Getting the Inside Scoop from Robert Rotenberg, Author of "Old City Hall"
I'm proudest about the lessons that it's taught my children. That every morning,there's dad typing away, and the moment he sees them the laptop goes off. They see that nothing comes easy. That it's work. But that they're more important.The original manuscript was 143,253 words. I cut 40,000 words, sixteen chapters,out of the book. Probably about two years' worth of work, and it made it a much better book.
Monday, June 4, 2012 (285 views) On the Cusp of Change, and Going with What You've Got
We are on the cusp of a historic moment. The baton will soon be passed; the end is in sight. We survived the last eight years, barely. We may be battered and bloody, but, starting tomorrow, we have another chance.In the spirit of fresh starts and new beginnings, I offer these personal vignettes, each with the theme of going with what you've got.
Sunday, June 3, 2012 (1144 views) Linda Gartz: Digging up family history through letters and photographs
When my mom died in 1994, my brothers and I sorted trash from treasure in her sprawling Victorian home. When we got to the attic, I felt like Howard Carter peering into King Tut's tomb, discovering "wonderful things." There in my mother's neat handwriting was a box labelled, "Lil and Fred's journals." Therein lay diaries from my parents' youth spanning more than six decades. My project began in earnest in 2002.
Sunday, June 3, 2012 (2601 views) Mary Pipher: Writing to Change the World
Stories have the power to open hearts, change minds and inspire action. They can be very simple. Generally when a story deeply moves me, it will move others.They speak directly to the emotions. And they reach both sides of the brain. Stories are not right brain or left brain: they are whole brain. They integrate complicated information from all over the brain in ways that form meaning and pleasure.
Sunday, June 3, 2012 (1722 views) Literary Agent Shares Trade Secrets With New Writers
With the rise of the web, new ideas are not enough. Today, publishing is all about story telling, and that applies to serious nonfiction--yes, even a work of history and science has to tell a story--self-help, memoir, and virtually every other publishing genre. Many people fail to understand that a book can be the story of an idea or a time, as well as the story of an individual or group of individuals.
Sunday, June 3, 2012 (379 views) Talking with Mystery Writer Sharon Fiffer
I knew that Jane Wheel had family issues to resolve;she had to rebuild her own professional confidence after leaving the advertising business,where she was successful if not always content;and I knew that she had to work on her own tics-her impatience,her restlessness,her passion for the worn out stuff of others.I wanted to explore her complicated relationship with her mother.And I wanted to write it with humor & compassion.