The Accidental Activist: Ripped From Tomorrow’s Headlines

So my second novel is going to debut in brick and mortar stores on Thurdsay, May 22nd at 7:00 p.m. at Everybody Reads Books & Stuff at 2019 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, Michigan.

 And it is going to be birthed into this world with great reviews.

Terry Olson’s Skinny Berry is a highly intriguing legal thriller that’s ripped from straight from tomorrow’s headlines.


Full of likable and despicable characters caught in tense situations, Olson’s paperback thriller is a timely, enjoyable and entertaining follow-up to his earlier book, “Direct Actions.”

Well, I must admit, it is a pretty timely novel.  Those of you who remember my first book, Direct Actions, will recall it deals with a popular democratic uprising in rural Michigan. Skinny Berry takes on the dangers of genetically modified foods in the same setting.  Together, the novels presage events that recently unfolded in rural Maine.

On March 29, a distant echo of the American Revolution’s idealism and independence reverberated through the rolling, wooded hills of Montville.

Warmed by a woodstove and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with their neighbors in the town’s 200-year-old meetinghouse, members of the community came together to exercise their fundamental right in a pure democracy. By casting their vote with a show of hands, they enacted an ordinance that places a 10-year moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified crops (GMOs) in town.


The vote to enact the GMO ordinance in Montville was an emphatic statement of consumer preference. What our town said is this: Genetically modified organisms provide no benefit to our families; genetically modified organisms provide no benefit to our community; genetically modified organisms compromise the integrity of our food system and our environment.

Corporations that have placed genetically modified foods on the supermarket shelves and, in turn, in our household cupboards without our consent will not silence the people of Montville. We believe we have the right to choose what we eat. We stand against this assault on our democracy. We state, quite simply, “This is not the right thing to do.”

A number of years ago, I heard Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, give an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now.  During that interview, Ms. Walker talked fondly about being arrested for her non-violent participation in an Iraq War protest.  And in examining whether she believed such protests were futile, given their seeming ineffectiveness in the face of a dogged and unending war, Ms. Walker explained an evident truth.  We do not plainly see the results of our efforts immediately.  But to all those who have struggled, have heart that each action incrementally contributes to the sought end.  We all-those of us who have struggled-and those of us who continue the struggle, have contributed to the atmosphere in America that may well see the a revolutionary election in 2008.  Our efforts have hastened the end we seek.

North Dakota Democrat once wrote a series of articles on non-violent resistance, citing as one of his many sources, author Gene Sharp.  Sharp compiled a practical menu of actions for contributing toward the never ending struggle for peace and justice.  For me, my art is my struggle against the powers that keep us from our full humanity.  And my art has given me a voice.  I get to speak to the same progressive community that hosted Amy Goodman and Jim Hightower just two weeks ago.  A pretty nice honor.

If you are near enough, don’t be a stranger.  Come and say hi this Thursday.  Always good to see kindred progressive spirits.

And as a last note: There is a contest now open from the Skinny Berry Book Tour e-newsletter – Episode 4.  Here it is:

As some of you know from the Direct Actions Book Tour Newsletter, sometimes in selling books, you end up with mildly damaged copies.  Bent covers.  That kind of thing.  Still readable.  But scuffed up a bit.  And I don’t want them to go to waste.  So for those of you still reading along, we’ll have a super easy contest to give one away this week.  Here’s the contest:  While the review loves the book, it does suggest it needs a “punchier” title.  Of course, it is too late to actually change the title.  But e-mail in your idea (to: tjayolson(at)hotmail(dot)com) for a better title and I’ll pick the best suggestion to win a damaged copy of the book.  Include “Episode 4 Contest” in the subject line for your entry to count.   All entrants are welcome.  Bribes of some sort are strongly encouraged.


  1. to this most zen place of blogdom.  I’m not sure if anyone here is close by.  But if so, come on out and say hey.  I’ve got to get off to work, but I’ll check back later to say hello here.

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