My Response to “In America”

I saw this shared on Facebook. I try to not give in to confirmation bias. I purposely have friends with whom I do not agree on politics or religion.

Most of the time I don’t respond. This post made me want to respond because the author is questioning foreign aid as if that was the reason for the atrocities within our society. Foreign aid is kinda like PBS: it amounts to very little of the budget.

My husband read what I wrote and encouraged me to post it on Facebook, but I felt further emboldened to share my response with you here.

In America, we have to press 1 to speak English, the language that wiped out the languages of the Native Americans. We get angry that some people have the audacity of having a different native tongue. If they do speak English with an accent, we still can’t understand them. It’s Us vs. Them.

Continue reading “My Response to “In America””

Sunshine Blogger Award

I just want to thank Currently Apple for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. She’s very sweet and her posts are so philosophical and thought provoking.

https://currentlyapple.wordpress.com/

The Rules:

1 – Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blogging sites.

2 – Answer the questions.

3 – Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

4 – Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.

5 – List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo on your site or on your post.


Q&A:

1. What is your favorite pet?

Cats!

2. What is your birthstone?

Diamond

3. What is your dream job?

More of a goal, but I’d like to create a TV series.

4. Who is your favorite person and why?

My husband. He knows me better than anyone else and I can relax completely with him.

5. Who is your favorite author?

It’s hard to pick one. I suppose Madeleine L’Engle. A Wrinkle in Time changed my life and I own so many of her books. My favorite book of hers is non-fiction – A Circle of Quiet. Much of it is about writing fiction and her discussing a workshop she lead at Columbia University.

I want to see the new movie.

6. What is your favorite quote?

Make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.

– Edward Bok, a magazine editor who created Bok Tower

7. What is the one thing you can’t live without?

Communication. If There wasn’t at least someone who understood me then I don’t know how I could make it.

8. What is your greatest fear?

I’m very claustrophobic. Being stuck in a few elevators over the years hasn’t helped.

9. What is the bravest thing you ever did?

I guess night diving. It was kind of an unusual experience. It was beautiful though. We saw bioluminescent string of pearl plankton. I wish I had a picture. Video would be nice too!

10. What is the silliest thing you did for love?

I’m a terrible artist. I painted a ceramic cat like my childhood cat. It looks awful. I was so embarrassed by how it turned out that I shoved it in a cabinet and forgot about it.

I found it last year and was going to get rid of it but it cracked me up so much that instead it’s become an Elf on the Shelf type joke in our house. I hide it. My husband hides it. Wherever it’s found, due to its sheer ugliness, it brings laughter.

11. If you have just one wish for yourself what would it be?

More inner stability. It feels like every time I start to feel like I have a handle on things, they change. Que sera, sera.

There’s a stanza from a song I can really relate to:

“Is my malfunction so surprising

‘Cause I always seem so stable and bright?

Ain’t it always the quiet types?” – “Phone in a Pool” by Ben Folds

Questions for my nominees:

  1. If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be?
  1. What word annoys you the most?
  2. When you were six, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  3. Is there a movie based off a book that disappointed you?
  4. Is there a dessert you find overrated?
  5. What was your favorite book when you were a child?
  6. What’s something that always makes you smile?
  1. Is there a book that you wish was a movie?
  2. Is there a disease you wish the average person knew more about?
  3. If you could only read books by one author for the rest of your life, who would you choose?
  4. What is your least favorite movie?

My Nominees Are:

Alice Gristle

Keni Write

Normabobb

Ana P. Rose

TimelessLady

Aria the Dreamer

Sascha Darlington

SimpleDimple

Notestoponder

So Eye Write

Words and Whatnot

Happy blogging!

In time of silver rain

The poem by Langston Hughes came to mind when I saw rain drops clinging to the branches this morning.

I read his poem and realized it was about spring. To me there are parallels from the beginning of greenery to the end of it. Some of the flowering trees of Spring are so colorful they bring Fall to mind. The berries on some Autumn trees make me recall Spring blossoms.

Poetry is not my forte, but I hope you will enjoy this poem I cobbled together as an autumnal follow up to “In time of silver rain“. Yes, I know, his poem rhymes and mine does not, but I hope you will still enjoy it. I tried to match the number of syllables versus his poem.

I would be remiss not to mention that I am referencing “Late October” by Maya Angelou in the line about tinny dying.

In time of silver rain,

The sky

Lets fall the autumn tears:

Tinny dying –

As leaves, their emerald shed.

Browns and scarlets descend.

Cyclical life

Spirals on,

Gales up,

Drifts down.

In time of silver rain-

Final repast

Before the chill-

Hoarding cozy comfort,

Red squirrels, frenetic,

On ground yet soft

Scratch troves to shield treasures:

Acorns, crab apples, odd berries.

Anything to fuel them

Through Winter’s Bleak.

In time of silver rain,

When leaves

Fall off,

Spiral down.

Writers Tag

Okay, so I wasn’t tagged but I couldn’t resist. Sometimes we have to create our own opportunities. I read this on K. M. Allan’s blog and felt compelled to fill it out myself.

Thank you, Lorraine Ambers and Ari Meghlen for creating this.

The rules are simple:
• Post the Tag and Image on your blog.
• Thank whoever nominated you and link back to their blog.
• Mention the creators of the award and link back to their blogs.
• Nominate 6 bloggers and notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
Let the questions begin…

Name one novel that inspired you to write.

The Sea Sword by Adrienne Martine-Barnes. It was such an interesting fantasy take on the Hindu goddess Kali and I enjoyed it very much.

Since I do what I want (apparently), I’ll add two more books: Ursus of Ultima Thule by Avram Davidson and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley.

What’s your favorite genre to write and read?

Speculative fiction. I used to say I liked progressive fiction but the authors I enjoyed at the time became mostly erotica and less supernatural crime, which is what I really enjoyed. I believe that horror has the capacity to guide us away from ills in society and as individuals; science fiction helps us imagine a future worth achieving; and fantasy helps us answer “what if”.

Though it’s taken wildly out of context, these words by Dickens sum it up well:

Welcome, everything! Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter round the holly… where what is sits open-hearted! … On this day we shut out Nothing!

Do you prefer to write stand-alone or series?

I don’t know. Stories come to me and sometimes they are succinct and others? They are fractals. In the words of Whitman, “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Use 3 words to describe yourself.

Mercurial. Diligent. Ambitious.

Reveal your WIP image that represents your MC or setting.

Okay, it’s more than one picture. I made this a while back but didn’t have a chance to use it.

How long did your first MS take to draft?

About three months.

Who is your author idol?

Neil Gaiman. He’s so creative, inspiring, and evocative. Some of his books have given me nightmares, which I know it doesn’t sound like that’s a good thing but it means it made such an impression that my subconscious had to process it. That’s powerful.

My screenwriting idol is Bryan Fuller. When I found out he was showrunning “American Gods”, I did a happy dance.

Share a writing memory that made you determined to carry on.

My first full length novel I wrote when I was seventeen. It was in response to a tragedy I experienced the year before: my sweet sixteen boyfriend died in front of me in an accident. As a teen this was devastating and the people around me were not supportive. The book was titled, Like a Sponge in Winter. I’ve been told it’s a terrible title. It comes from a line in the book where a supporting character tells the main character that during winter these freshwater sponges develop a hard exterior to stay alive but when spring returns the sponge softens again.

I then decided I wanted to write genre fiction instead. Yes, I enjoy literary fiction upon occasion but speculative fiction is my first love.

Tell us something surprising or unique about yourself.

I have a warped sense of humor. Not unique but I don’t think people expect it. In fact, my very first rejection was due to my humor. It was when I was a teen. I wrote a parody of Wuthering Heights, which definitely has some comically sketchy elements to it. I was told it was trashy and didn’t uphold their literary standard. I was so downtrodden that I deleted it. Yeah, I won’t do that again! Lesson learned.

My husband said I should say that I’ve been scuba diving in four different countries, which is true.

I took this picture of Caribbean Reef Sharks at about 100 feet down next to a wreck in the Bahamas last year – the “Ray of Hope” was the ship’s name. I love the way the sunlight dissipates through the water. Sharks are such misunderstood creatures and are so majestic.

Share the hardest part about being a writer and how you overcame it.

Rejection is the hardest part of being a writer for me. I suppose each rejection must be overcome by itself. Some are easier than others. A few days ago I received a particularly scathing letter wherein the agent wrote they didn’t like the concept, the beginning, or the writing. Well, then. There’s a quote from Dita Von Teese that comes to mind:

What’s your favorite social media and why? Share your link.

Twitter. I’ve enjoyed the writer’s culture since it’s so supportive.

Share some uplifting wisdom in six words or less.

Nothing’s perfect. Just do your best.

Here are my nominations:

1. Marquessa

2. K. Callard

3. Ariana Allen

4. Eric Klingenberg

5. Michael Kuester

6. Cathy Lynn Brooks

I AM MANY

#IamMany I am a:
– sister
– daughter
– wife
– mother
– friend
– reader
– writer
– hiker
– home cook
– teetotaler
– #exclusivepumper
– vegetarian
– dreamer
– travel enthusiast
– scuba diver
– #trekkie
– #infj
– shy person!
– UU
– sweet tooth
– tea drinker
– coffee drinker
– hot cocoa drinker (basically I’m cold and like non-alcoholic warm drinks)
– balletomane

#IamMany things – too many to list. This hashtag is for “women to encourage women”. We all need encouragement, though. If this hashtag inspires you, please share your many facets with us – regardless of your gender identity or expression: those are multifaceted elements of humanity better enriched by removing cis limiters.

Books Last Longer Than PSLs

Aromatic cinnamon meets earthy nutmeg meets the subtle tang of clove finishing in warm, creamy goodness. Pumpkin spice lattes are returning shortly to a Starbucks near you. But are they worth it?

I love the flavor but 420 calories for a drink?! Also… I’d have to order mine decaf with almond milk and triple check the ingredients for no allergens. I love pumpkin more than might be reasonable and even once did a “pumpkin pie diet”*.

What I really want to suggest is that you buy a book instead. Books have less calories, and offer more utility, more enjoyment. A latte offers maybe ten minutes of enjoyment versus hours of savoring a novel.

It’s that time of year where we start to feel nostalgic and want to indulge ourselves. Buy that book (or borrow it from a friend or the library). Books transport us to another place, another time.

So often I have read or heard authors complain that they pour hours of their life into this piece of paper and cardboard and ink. Consumers will readily hand over money for pumpkin spice lattes that take about two minutes for a barista to whip up but have a hard time spending that same amount of money on a book.

My advice is buy a book: it’ll last longer.

If you really need a pumpkin fix, I totally understand. Here are two of my favorite non-PSL recipes:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Vegan Pumpkin Cream Pasta Sauce

It’s early, but…


*Woman’s Day had an article in 2009 (I remember because an article convinced me to watch The Vampire Diaries) about the “Pumpkin Spice Diet”. It touted the immune boosting properties of clove. The “pies” were ramekins of pumpkin with pumpkin spice, eggs, and splenda. The diet had you eat these in combination with reducing sugar, etc. It was a low carb way to get the sweet on without the extra holiday pounds adding up. I don’t remember if I lost any weight, but I did eventually feel food fatigue.

The Fleeting Beauty of Rocks

One of the interesting conversations I had on a past Thanksgiving (way back when) with a practicing Buddhist was about the fleeting beauty of rock sculptures.  He builds rock sculptures that fall away with the wind and gravity.

I saw a similar concept — Buddha Boards. Boards that one “paints” on with water.  The water evaporates and the painting fades.

Nothing lasts in this life. We need little to remind us of the brevity of our mortality. Life is like sand in an hour glass that just slips by.  The more we hold onto it the faster it seems to slip by us.

I never thought of myself as an optimist, but after taking my economics class a while back , I suppose I am.

In “Fight Club” – the book, not the movie- Marla talks about how she loves the objects loved fleeting by others only to be discarded like prom dresses and Christmas trees. If we wait long enough most things are discarded. Even with recycling there are only so many times before plastic degrades beyond reuse.

Some things get better with age or have new life breathed into them. Other things have a fleeting beauty that can only be appreciated in a brief moment, like a photographer catching a picture of a sunrise.

Impenetrable Fog

The past couple of months have been a haze. It feels like everything has run together. I spent weeks in the hospital as a patient and now I’ve spent weeks at the hospital watching over my daughter. It’s been exhausting and emotionally trying. 


What’s surprised me the most is my reaction to rejection. 

I used to check my email obsessively after querying or around contest winner announcements. 

I’ve been so worried about my daughter that I didn’t even think about writing. During the last part of my pregnancy, I was too sick to think of much at all. 

Today I received an email about a contest I’d entered. I honestly had to sit and think about the piece since I couldn’t remember what it was. 


A little over a week ago I received another email from an agent letting me know they were passing on what I had sent them. I sent the query so long ago I’ve written multiple revisions since then and I also had to think about who it was.  It was around a year ago.  I’d figured her rejection was silent. 

There have been times where receiving a rejection letter could really make me have a hard day. I suspected that during times like these it might make me sad. Instead I suppose I’m too exhausted to feel anything about them – I’m in an impenetrable fog. I look forward to normalcy and writing again (or at least a new normal). I hope that’s sooner than later. When that happens, I’ll probably take the rejections harder again.

Recommendation Overload: So Many Books and Not Enough Time 

Amazon has 1.8 million books. According to techcrunch.com there is one new book on Amazon every 5 minutes. 


On one level of thinking, many of those books are self-published and didn’t go through the rigorous editing and revision that a book coming from the Big 5. At the same time I have read indie books that were excellent. 


It’s impossible to read *all* the books. An article I read a while back opined that suggesting books and TV shows to others is rude, intrusive, and not helpful. At the same time, when people find out I write then they inevitably tell me who their favorite author is and recommend a book. Sometimes the suggestions seem worthwhile and I note them. Other times they sound awful and I mentally block the book. 


At times I’ve felt like I don’t know my genre as well as I should because I haven’t read all these books. Other times I’ve realized that the suggestions I receive have little to do with the books I enjoy most. No wonder I haven’t read them: I don’t like supernatural romance. I’m not into YA urban dystopianism. In fact, as sacrilegious as it may sound, I don’t enjoy YA fantasy that much. Three of my favorite authors write YA fantasy, but recent YA hasn’t hooked me. I want to read about adults- not children. I want to read about the distant future or a far off world; I want an element of escapism and not a book club type contemporary fantasy with low fantasy. 


How does one find the next book to read? At The Seymour Agency’s Writer’s Winter Escape, it intrigued me that the agents said these sub-genres like the cozy mystery were pretty much invented by bookstores. At the same time it’s easy to see why that’s a practical move. There are three sources that have pushed me to read books beyond just random suggestions. 


The first is finding an agent I like and reading the books that agent represents in my genre that have been recently published. This shows me what sold in the recent past. 

The second source that’s influenced me is looking at the catalogs online of the Big 5 and seeing what they’re putting out and what of that catches my eye. 


Lastly with Amazon there are several ways to explore new books – relevance, average customer reviews, and new releases. In Joanna Penn’s How to Make a Living with Your Writing, she talks about how much of a funnel Amazon is with books. 

People want a book for entertainment, inspiration or information. If you’re not a brand-name author already, your non-fiction book is more likely to be discovered if it answers someone’s question or helps them solve a problem.
So how do people find these books? They search by category on the bookstores and they also use the search bar to try and find something relevant. They type in keywords or keyword phrases into Amazon or Google and see what comes up. Amazon is basically a search engine for people who are actively ready to buy…

With books, like TV show recommendations, if a name keeps popping up then it grabs my attention. Otherwise I take recommendations with a grain of salt. My tastes are probably not the same as yours. My goals for reading may not be the same as yours either. Find what works for you, and don’t let yourself be bogged down in recommendation overload. 

Not the first time 

We turned on the TV and a pundit on “Real Time with Bill Mather” claimed that in 230 years of American History the first woman to run for president was Hillary Clinton.

The first woman to run for president was Victoria Woodhull in 1870.

Women’s equality has been a long journey and we haven’t reached the destination yet.