A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of reviewing Lisa de Pasquale’s memoir of life and love in Washington, DC, Finding Mr. Righteous. Her honest, sometimes funny and sometimes heartbreaking tell-all about dating life in the conservative world struck a few chords with me, so I asked her some follow-up questions. Keep reading to find out how she’s dealt with people trying to figure out who’s in the book, the current status of her dating life, and the latest steps in her spiritual journey.
Lesson #5: Everybody’s human. Very, very human.
I once heard a guy tell a story about a disastrous first date he went on. He was ultra-liberal, and didn’t realize the girl he’d asked out was a libertarian. They discovered their differences soon enough, and their debate was so fierce she left in tears. It didn’t end there, though; he followed up with links to articles and documentaries she had to see, to correct her point of view. She participated as well, sending him material from her own side. But it was clear there was no romantic possibility between the two of them — instead of finding love on a blind date, they found hate.
He asked, “What do you do? When you meet up with these DC vampires who are just dead set on destroying the world?”
I told him the first thing you do is stop denying their essential humanity by calling them monsters. Then, give them the benefit of the doubt by assuming they hold their views because they want to make the world a better place, too — or, at the very least, not because of some desire to burn it all down. I wish now I could have just given him a copy of Finding Mr. Righteous, the romantic memoir by conservative activist Lisa de Pasquale.
(Hi, this is Sarah.) When I was a young writer, knee high to a trilogy print out, I subscribed to every possible market listing in the world. [“What is a market listing?” “That’s what people used to have, back when they needed gate keepers to publish them. Back in prehistory. Publishing was expensive, on account of having to dispose of the chips you carved out of the rock with your chisel.”] Partly this was, of course, because there was no internet. [“Seriously, no internet? Now you’re just making stuff up.” “Okay, you’re right. There was internet. It’s just the t-rexes kept snapping the cable with their toe claws.”] You couldn’t just search for “markets for science fiction” and then spend three hours reading about Amazon’s dispute with Hatchette and dino porn. [“I don’t read dino porn.” “Of course not, the Amazon/Hatchette thing makes you feel dirty enough.”]
Anyway, so I subscribed to all of these in the certain hope that eventually I’d find the one that said, “You, Sarah A. Hoyt, sitting there, with your manuscript of dino porn inchoate pseudo literature, you’re the person we want to publish.”
Alas, this never happened. But I used to come across this listing that baffled me. After the pro markets to which I sent for fastest rejections, and the semi-pro markets which were buying me, and the penny markets, where I sent stuff that had been rejected everywhere else, there was a “for the love” column.
Look, I yield to no one in my love for writing. [“Liar, you just say that to get it into bed.” “Only because the pterodactyl isn’t willing.”] And I’m one of those people who think if something is not making you rich, and you don’t love it, then you’d be better off doing something else. [“Unless of course writing is the only thing you can do. Not that this has ever happened at low points in our personal finances.” “Er… right, never.”] Writing, in particular, while easier than digging ditches, is still a lot to do day after day if you don’t enjoy it. But… “for the love?”
I mean, if no one is ever going to pay you, are you going to give this story away just so someone will read it? [“Yeah, like someone who wrote fanfic so that it would actually get read, when nothing else was selling.” “That was different. How many people make money rewriting Jane Austen with dragons? Don’t answer that.”]
Then I broke in, started selling to those pro markets, and then started getting paid more so the pro-markets attracted me, and I never gave this another thought.
Until today when I was thinking about writing for readers and writing for prestige. For most of my traditional career, I argued with my agents/editors/publishers that I wanted to write popular and accessible fiction, while they tried to push me into writing convoluted, difficult “literary” fiction.
My fault in a way, because I broke in with a series that was a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s biography, this time with elves. But at least I realized that though I loved that series, it had a limited audience. The average person on the street doesn’t want to relax after a hard day with Shakespearean word-play. Also, the idea of writing nothing but literary fantasy forever made me want to slit my wrists.
I wanted to write mystery, and science fiction, and funny things, and serious things, and romantic things. And while some of them would come out in a way that could be described as “literary” that was not what I was aiming for. I mostly wanted to write to be read and to make a living.
I knew for a fact that “literary” works sold very little.
So why were publishers and agents so interested in them? Because their interests aren’t the same as writers’. Writers want to make a living, and to get the sincerest form of appreciation in foldable form. Publishers, or at least editors, working for multinational corporations where their salary is assured, don’t want that – they want to be hailed at the next cocktail party as the person who discovered the literary wonder of the century. And agents, too, want the prestige of being known to have exquisite taste. They won’t object to a lot of money, but mostly they need the prestige.
Eric S. Raymond said that what is destroying mainstream science fiction… (and more so mystery. I’m going through my shelves to get rid of excess paper books, and if I had a dime for each “high prestige” mystery I got because it was up for some award or other and which is now worth less than one cent, I’d have a lot of dimes.) … is not so much politics, as this entire idea of “worth” that’s predicated on an academic culture which ignores readers and the ludic aspects of reading. [“Ludic. My, aren’t we posh?” “Ludic means fun. Like, you know, dinosaur porn. At least I presume people have fun with it. Never having read any, I wouldn’t know.” “Yes, but growing up in the Jurassic would give you a different perspective.]
He is right at that. But I don’t think it’s something that can be wrung out of the publishing establishment. If the shrinking of the bottom line didn’t convince them, neither will our telling them what they’re doing wrong.
Fortunately, though, we don’t have to. It’s entirely possible that, after the shocks and aftershocks, traditional publishing will settle into a prestige and validation role for academic writers, bringing out little gems of books (possibly leather bound) for a small clientele for whom they’re objets d’art and not a way to while away a couple of hours of a rainy evenings.
I’m fine with that. They can do whatever they want.
Those who want to read and write for fun can always go Indie.
Set some time after Lost Years: The Quest for Avalon and before The Grail War, Blood and Dreams continues the story of Parsival, who in middle age finds himself more the jaded cynic than the wide-eyed fool of his youth. Waylaid as he journeys home from his latest “bloody bit of work for Arthur,” Parsival must escape his captors, save his kidnapped family, and prevent the forces of Clinschor, the mad sorcerer bent on world domination, from finding and exploiting the Holy Grail, all while enduring the disdain of his teenaged son, Lohengrin.
(Charlie here: Richard has been one of my favorite writers for longer than either of us would care to think. This is free for the rest of today, and worth the $4.99 any time.)
When The God’s Wolfling opens Linnea Vulkane has grown up since the summer of Vulcan’s Kittens. Sanctuary, the refuge of immortals on an Hawaiian island, is boring. When the opportunity for an adventure arises, she jumps right into it, only realizing too late the water may be over her head. Literally, as she is embroiled in the affairs of the sea god Manannan Mac’Lir. Merrick Swift has a secret he’s ashamed of. Then when he meets Linnea and her best friend, he doesn’t like her. She’s bossy, stuck up… and oddly accepting of his wolf heritage. Like her or not, he must do his duty and keep her alive. The children of the myths are being plunged into the whirlpool of immortal politics, intrigue, goblin wars, and they might be the only ones who can save a world.
Entertaining pulp crime stories written in 1979 and 1980. Paul F. Gleeson was a lawyer, but he ached to be a writer, of tales of murder and intrigue and dark forces and witty twist endings. He submitted manuscripts to the pulp mags, and actually got two stories published, but the rejection letters kept piling up, and he finally stopped writing. After he died in 2012, his sons and daughter found the manuscripts in a cardboard box. They collectively decided that these stories would finally be published for the world to enjoy, the way their dad always wanted.
“Paul F. Gleeson’s hardboiled fiction paints characters who live in swirling cesspools of corrupt human nature in a rich, distinct voice that’s not to be missed.” — David Cranmer, editor of BEAT to a PULP
LB Johnson knew how to get things done. The former jet commander was singularly driven, capable and highly educated, immersed in a world of complex puzzles, tangled story lines and the intricacies of the law. So how hard would it be for one redheaded federal agent to raise a black Labrador retriever puppy?
Mayhem on four legs was named Barkley and he led his owner down a path of joyful self discovery, loving frustration and self sacrifice, changing the way she viewed the world, and those that shared it with her. Her home and her heart were never the same.
Free from August 1-5
A short story of a woman who looks to the stars as she tries to protect her children and offer them a future. In a world with no escape for those who cannot undergo a genescan, a fugitive mother has vanishingly few options left to her. Ultimately, only her sacrifice can change the world… but what becomes of the children?
Two millennia ago, a demon named Suwraith thundered into the skies and cast down the First World. In a single horrific night, a glorious age of enlightenment was ended, leaving the world in fearful darkness. Humanity survives by a thread, only surviving in cities protected by an Oasis, mysterious places impervious to Suwraith’s power. Throughout the rest of the world Humanity is an endangered species, fodder for Suwraith’s deadly Chimeras. Into this world is born Rukh Shektan, a peerless young warrior from a Caste of warriors. He is well-versed in the keen language of swords and the sacred law of the seven Castes: for each Caste is a role and a Talent given, and none may seek that to which they were not born. It is the iron-clad decree by which all cities maintain their fragile existence and to defy this law means exile and death. But all his knowledge and devotion may not save him because soon he must join the Trials, the holy burden by which by which the cities of Humanity maintain their slender connection with one another. In the Wildness, Rukh will struggle to survive as he engages in the never-ending war with the Chimeras, but he will also discover a challenge to all he has held to be true and risk losing all he holds dear. And it will come in the guise of one of Humanity’s greatest enemies – perhaps its greatest allies. Worse, he will learn of Suwraith’s plans. The Sorrow Bringer has dread intentions for his home. The city of Ashoka is to be razed and her people slaughtered.
Free on 8/1 and 8/2
Alex Sanderson doesn’t like much of anything, but of all the things he hates, getting locked up in an alien prison on trumped-up charges tops the list. All he wants is a fair hearing and he’s sure he can get out. His cellmate on the other hand, she has different plans for Alex….
Note: This story contains profanity, some violence, and sexual situations, although not especially graphic, they may be offensive to some readers.
This story is a Novellette, about 14,500 words long.
Bought the book in the morning. Finished it in the afternoon. Literally could not put it down.
That may sound odd when you learn that I’m a 52-year-old father of four and I’m talking about a nonfiction book written by a geeky teenaged girl about her efforts to become popular. But it’s weirder than that: I actually had to reach for the Kleenex more than a time or two.
In Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, Maya Van Wagenen, 15, lives and writes an engaging adventure — a social experiment, in which she tries to apply the lessons of “Betty Cornell’s Teenage Popularity Guide,” which her Dad found in a thrift store. Maya manages to bring precocious insight into the human condition through a fun, often dramatic, personal story.
Did you ever wish you could go back to high school knowing what you do now about human nature? Maya actually does it, but as a middle-schooler willing to test out principles of grooming, attire and attitude tailored for 1951. And she doesn’t update them. She lives out the vintage popularity guide as written.
How could paleolithic advice about makeup, girdles and etiquette survive the onslaught of feminism and political correctness? Quite well actually — surprisingly well. But ultimately, what Maya learns has little to do with superficial attractiveness. It really gets at the core of why some people seem to naturally attract friends, and have more fun, while others live lives of quiet desperation.
It’s easy to understand why this book, out since April 15, has already been optioned for a movie. I hope that the studio realizes that this is much more than a story of teenage angst — that it has broad appeal, and deep meaning.
I just finished Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, which oddly enough I found much more comforting breakup reading than all the books out there about breakups. Abbey mines wisdom — and churns up insanity — from the contemplation of nature. Reading his book I felt I’d found a new friend, someone who wouldn’t ask me how it’s interesting or comfortable to sit and stare at the trees and sky for hours on end (a question I get from those who haven’t really tried it). He’d understand the need to bask in nature, the healing and invigorating qualities of letting your mind roam free; and as a complement, the meditative aspect of scrambling over rocks, up mountains, through bushes and streams — few things sharpen the mind to the beautiful, intricate, rich present moment.
If you were to read just one chapter from Desert Solitaire, pick “Down the River,” the story of Abbey’s rafting trip down the Colorado, a poignant journey taken just before the construction of the Boulder Dam. It can never be replicated; the canyons and grottos he describes are now all flooded under Lake Mead.
The crystal water flows toward me in shimmering S-curves, looping quietly over shining pebbles, buff-colored stone and the long sleek bars and reefs of rich red sand, in which glitter grains of mica and pyrite — fool’s gold. The canyon twists and turns, serpentine as its stream, and with each turn comes a dramatic and novel view of tapestried walls five hundred — a thousand? — feet high, of silvery driftwood wedged between boulders, of mysterious and inviting subcanyons to the side, within which I can see living strands of grass, cane, salt cedar, and sometimes the delicious magical green of a young cottonwood with its ten thousand exquisite leaves vibrating like spangles in the vivid air. The only sound is the whisper of the running water, the touch of my bare feet on the sand, and once or twice, out of the stillness, the clear song of a canyon wren.
Is this at last the locus Dei? There are enough cathedrals and temples and altars here for a Hindu pantheon of divinities. Each time I look up one of the secretive little side canyons I half expect to see not only the cottonwood tree rising over its tiny spring — the leafy god, the desert’s liquid eye — but also a rainbow-colored corona of blazing light, pure spirit, pure being, pure disembodied intelligence, about to speak my name.
If a man’s imagination were not so weak, so easily tired, if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he would abandon forever such fantasies of the supernal. He would learn to perceive in water, leaves and silence more than sufficient of the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him for the loss of the ancient dreams.
Take Desert Solitaire with you on your next camping trip. Or better yet, read it before your next camping trip and them spend the trip bending your mind and soul to nature.
This past Sunday, American audiences finally had their chance to wave goodbye to Nurse Jenny Lee, the lead character in the famed Masterpiece series Call the Midwife. However sad it may be, the departure of the show’s Hollywood-bound lead actress Jessica Raine was, ironically, in no way a traumatic one.
Most American shows die when their lead actor disappears. Dan Stevens’ untimely departure from Downton Abbey still enrages fans over a year later. Yet, while Nurse Jenny Lee will be a much missed character, fans are far from outraged at her departure. Perhaps this is because Call the Midwife was never just about Jennifer (Lee) Worth, but about the many lives she encountered and a profession that is finally being given the credit it so sorely deserves. But there is more to the massive success of what began as a 6-episode BBC show about nursing in mid-century London’s bombed-out East End than giving credit where credit is due.
In an era of roughshod marketing tactics and semiotic overload, Call the Midwife, with its pure, heartfelt approach to the vicissitudes of life, is therapeutic television. We are a desensitized audience: No one cries when a pregnant mother is stabbed to death on Game of Thrones. Yet, everyone, including the burly guys on set, shed a tear at every birth on Call the Midwife. We are treated to an East End rife with chamber pots, not sexy chamber maids, and yet audiences are drawn to the show in droves. We love the midwives, even when they are dressed in habits and wimples; they are the ideal face of medicine, mother, and God in an era when we’ve been taught to doubt all three. Like a nurse checking our pulse, Call the Midwife reminds us that we are human after all, and perhaps not as sick as we’ve been led to believe.
And yet, while TV execs struggle with sex and violence in the name of Tweet power, they remain blind to Call the Midwife’s axiom for success: There is powerful endurance in simple truth. Call the Midwife will survive without the character of Jenny Lee because the show has embraced Jennifer Worth’s own mystical sense of timelessness. It is the stuff that fueled her memoirs of both London’s East End and her time as a nurse caring for the dying. Brilliantly captured in the season finale, this sense of the eternal in both life and death is what makes Call the Midwife a healing balm of a show and transcendental television in its finest form. Forget bloody battles and wild, nameless sex. Call the Midwife empowers its audience with the strength to face, not escape, life’s pressures, and the faith to believe that while “weeping may happen for a night, joy breaks forth in the morning.”
Now and then in life, love catches you unawares, illuminating the dark corners of your mind, and filling them with radiance. Once in a while you are faced with a beauty and a joy that takes your soul, all unprepared, by assault.
I approached Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous with some trepidation. Ann Coulter referred to it as “a true Christian story disguised as racy chick lit.” The reader reviews on Amazon contained phrases like “gets to the inner workings of the mind of an insecure young woman” and “as [if] she was writing about my loving and sexual past.” Our own David Swindle called it “a time bomb waiting to explode.” I thought, ohhhhhh boy. But when David personally recommended it to me, I figured it must be a good read.
Lisa didn’t disappoint. It seems a little weird to refer to her by her first name, since doing so goes against everything you learn about how you’re supposed to write, but after reading Finding Mr. Righteous and talking to her a little about it on Twitter, I feel like I’ve known her for a long time.
Finding Mr. Righteous jumps in to Lisa’s romantic and sexual life with gusto. She never pulls any punches when it comes to her experiences. Situations get steamy from time to time, but I never felt like I was on the verge of being offended. This is no creepy confessional or salacious tell-all — it’s a memoir of a mature woman telling it like it is, warts and all. More often than not, I’d finish a chapter thinking, so that’s what women think about men.
Lisa is a keen judge of human nature as well. She provides astute glimpses behind the facades of the men she’s dated. She offers plenty of fascinating observations like:
Chris was a cat person. But having one view wasn’t enough for him. He had to denigrate the opposing view. Chris’s cat versus dog views were like his views on religion. It wasn’t enough to just accept that some people are religious and some people are not. You had to be an atheist or true believer. And if you were a true believer, you were ignorant.
Sarah here. One thing for sure is that the publishing industry (following the footsteps of the music industry, the newspaper industry, and all the lemmings who went before it) would rather die sure of its convictions than change.
They will keep insisting that the old model was right, the new model is wrong, and dang it, people will soon realize and come back to them crying… or something.
My friend Amanda Green posted about this at Mad Genius Club this week. Yet another consultant telling the publishing industry what they want to hear: that ebooks are underpriced at…. what they’re selling for, that people should want to pay more for the “convenience”, that it’s just a rental of a service, and of course if you want it in more than one device, you should pay again.
Really, how many times have we heard this? It started with the traditionals manfully declaring that no, ebooks would never take a significant chunk out of paper sales. They were a specialty, a fad, a curiosity. No one really wanted to read on the computer screen (this while the kindle was becoming popular.) Then we were treated to the spectacle of senior VPs in New York Publishing talking about how much they gave their authors in terms of support, of covers, of editing. Well, that is only going to sound good if you don’t know any mid-list authors who talk. And even then, the reading public doesn’t care. Once indie upped its game a little, it competed handily with the bottom of the publisher “support.” And customers bought indie.
Now we’re back to “we really should be able to charge a lot more” and the new twist of “ebooks are so much more convenient.” (Apparently they got that we’re not lugging our CTR monitors to the bathtub to read there. Who knew?)
From Amanda Green’s article:
Now we have someone who calls himself a pricing consultant telling everyone that e-books aren’t a product but a service. Yep, those publishers and their bean counters are doing dances of glee. Someone finally understands!
“Ebooks should be more expensive than they are, more than print books — a lot more,” said Luby, adding that ebooks are relatively cheap because publishers and retailers don’t properly explain their benefits, namely, convenience.
And now those same publishers and bean counters are singing as they dance. Hallelujah! Someone is finally saying what we’ve said all along.We should be able to charge the reader more for something that costs us less, much less, because it is convenient for the reader.
The astounding thing is that they prefer to do this, to actually looking at other industries that have faced catastrophic change, and which went down the merry path to h*ll by holding on to their old model and paying high-priced consultants to tell them to keep jumping, everything was fine.
My friend and co-blogger Dave Freer has some ideas on how the Publishing Industry could restructure. His ideas are good and he gives them for free, but they won’t listen. They want to be told everything will go on as it has been, and that their model is viable.
I imagine King George was told that the rebellion in the colonies was a passing fad too.
This is how the world turns upside down. The old model can’t and won’t adapt, and the new model becomes the only model.
Other industries caught in catastrophic change should take note. And even those of our governing elites who think that applying an early twentieth century model will work, (and at that one that never worked anywhere) should take note. The world is changing. Technology is changing. If you don’t think of new ways of doing things, the world will change OVER you.
Like King George, they should realize that new places, real or virtual, create a new spirit and the old cudgel won’t bring the desired results. But they won’t….
They’ll go to sleep, telling themselves pretty fairytales. And while they sleep, we’ll build the future.
Charlie here. This is late again because I’ve spent the whole week dealing with issues caused by the Heartbleed bug. No, that’s not an emo band. I’ll have more about the bug up, but let me just say, I’m usually the guy telling you “Oh, it’s not that serious.” Well, this one’s pretty bad. Check every website you use often, and as soon as they are confirmed to have updated, change your passwords. In particular, if you use Amazon — and I’m guessing you do, since these links aren’t much use otherwise — you should change your password.
Go do it now. I’ll wait.
Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to email@example.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.
In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.
Out west in Northam, 11-year-old Shayna Miller finds that living underground to escape government persecution is only one problem among many. For instance, her dad never keeps his family in one community very long. It’s almost like he’s running from something horrible in Subterra. But what?
Other books in this series are The Smolder, and The Birdwatcher.
When famine threatens a small fishing village in 19th-century Norway, 17-year-old Lars and his 5-year-old brother, Torvald, are sent to America to live with their Uncle Anders in the Dakota Territory. When Lars buys his first horse, he accidentally buys a horse that’s widely considered a joke. But that ‘crazy’ horse is about to prove his detractors wrong. Historical fiction. Roughly 78,000 words.
When Cyn Bagley became ill in 2002, she thought that it was a case of conjunctivitis and would go away in a week. From eye problems to kidney failure, she tells the story of her diagnosis and treatment. The reflection also contains essays like “half-naked in the doctor’s office,” and “Tales from the Bed.” Even though she deals with a suppressed immune system daily, she has learned that survival is not only physical health, but mental toughness.
The Reprisal chronicles a revenge mission of the world’s deadliest mercenary Fadi Khaldun. A former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past, Fadi sets out to destroy an Iraqi kidnapping ring that brutally killed his client’s son. His relentless and lethal pursuit of the killers through the streets of Baghdad and rural Iraq leads him head on into a startling international criminal conspiracy.
The Reprisal is the first installment in the new Lethal Solutions Short Story Series featuring missions of Fadi Khaldun. The first thirteen chapters of Mitchum’s new full length action thriller Trophy Target also featuring Fadik Khaldun is included as a bonus at the end of The Reprisal.
“And now I know that every single day, the best and the worst, only lasts for twenty-four hours.” — Tricia Lott Williford
Two days before Christmas in 2010, amid the festive pictures of family Christmas celebrations, cookie recipes, and excited discussions about plans for the holidays, some terrible, heart-sickening news began to spread through my network of Facebook friends and acquaintances:
Stunned by some news. Please pray for a friend and her young family. The husband and father was unexpectedly taken to heaven for Christmas.
Pray for Tricia Williford as her husband went to heaven this morning. They have two little boys, Tucker and Tyler. What a sad day this is.
Three years later, I have fresh tears in my eyes as I re-read those words and I think about the shattering of lives, dreams, and families in that one terrible moment. How does a family survive such a profound tragedy? Can those shattered pieces be fused back together again? What does that really look like? I mean, in real life, starting with how you get out of bed the next day and how in the world you explain to two little boys that their daddy has died?
Tricia Lott Williford, a writer and editor — and a fabulous storyteller — had a blog at the time of her husband’s unexpected death at age thirty-five. Her bio explains, “On the day of her husband’s death, an unknown someone posted a link to her blog on Twitter with the words, ‘Please pray for this woman. Her husband died this morning.’ Overnight, her blog went viral and her community of readers grew exponentially.” Tricia continued with her long-established discipline of writing every day and shared her story, in all its brutal transparency, with friends and strangers around the world. Her story has now been turned into a book, And Life Comes Back: A Wife’s Story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimed, released February 18th.
Most folks first became aware of Dr. Benjamin Carson when he dared to speak out against Obamacare in front of the architect himself at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. I had the privilege of meeting Ben Carson about 20 years earlier when my mother handed me his book Think Big. At the time, I was an above-average student who struggled in the public school environment. Despite being intellectually acceptable (but economically unqualified) for entrance into a prestigious private school, my own public institution refused to allow me to skip a grade because they felt I’d suffer socially.
As if being the #1 nerd in the room qualified me to be crowned Prom Queen.
An outcast, I’d spend most of my time feigning illness or sick with stress, looking for a reason – any reason – to get out of going to school. I knew my mother was right; I couldn’t run away forever. But, I didn’t have a reason to care enough to face my battles. What I needed then is what so many young people need now: A perspective greater than their own. They need to learn how to Think Big.
And so my mother encouraged me to encounter the story of Ben Carson, a young African American boy from the projects who rose out of the ghetto mindset by seeking a perspective greater than his own:
“I am convinced that knowledge is power – to overcome the past, to change our own situations, to fight new obstacles, to make better decisions.”
Carson’s illiterate mother required her 2 sons to turn into her 2 book reports a week. This practice turned Carson into a habitual reader, classical music listener, and Jeopardy! aficionado. His love of learning and imaginative fascination with science developed into the desire to become a neurosurgeon:
First, we cannot overload the human brain. This divinely created brain has fourteen billion cells. If used to the maximum, this human computer inside our heads could contain all the knowledge of humanity from the beginning of the world to the present and still have room left over. Second, not only can we not overload our brain – we also know that our brain retains everything. I often use saying that “The brain acquires everything that we encounter.”
America is celebrating The Beatles’ Jubilee. 50 years ago this year The Fab Four landed on this side of the Atlantic and the ’60s officially began. (At least, that is, according to PBS.) With the announcement that Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the two surviving Beatles, will reunite at the Grammys on January 26 and perform a concert to air on February 9, 50 years to the day of their Ed Sullivan premiere, it would seem that Beatlemania (unlike much of organized religion) is making a resurgence in pop culture. Think the Fab Four are so yesterday? Think again:
A 2009 Pew Research Center survey placed the Beatles in the top four favorite music acts of Americans ages 16 to 64 — suggesting the band that helped create the 1960s Generation Gap ultimately helped us come together. Perhaps that’s the Beatles’ greatest gift: music that can be shared not only across the universe, but across generational lines.
Imagine a mathematician trying to quantify each Beatles’ album with Martha Stewart-like graphics. Wait, you don’t have to, just check out one Millennial’s 4 Simple Charts Visualizing The Beatles’ Major Albums and you’ll find out that The Beatles aren’t just for rock n’rollers, they’re for nerds, too. ”A new project on Kickstarter aims to tap into the passion of teenyboppers young and old withVisualising the Beatles, a book of infographics about each of the Fab Four’s major records.” Seriously: If that doesn’t make you want to start a Revolution, nothing will.
Huff Po details A Comprehensive Guide to The Beatles’ Invasion of Comic Culture for Millennial comic fans:
“Thanks to a book by Enzo Gentile and Fabio Schiavo, appropriately titled “The Beatles in Comic Strips,” we’ve been enlightened on the Fab Four’s history of comic book appearances. From subtle cameos to entire issues, the group managed to squeeze their iconic faces and psychedelic style into more than a few works of comic art.”
In March, Vans will release four pairs of Beatles-themed shoes for their Millennial audience:
“The most expensive of the bunch, the Sk8-Hi Reissue, features stylized portraits of all four Beatles running up the ankles apropos to cartoon portraits of each as they were animated for the film. The other shoes each feature psychedelic tableaus from the film. The Classic Slip-Ons play off the movie’s Sea of Monsters, showing trippy marine life swimming in an ocean of pink. The Era shoes depict all four band members, some wearing rainbow pants, hanging out in a yellow garden. And the final pair, a model called Authentic, is adorned with a pattern that reads “Allyouneedislove” running over and over again and into itself in purple, yellow and green.”
Haven’t yet caught an episode of the BBC/PBS smash hit series Call the Midwife? Here are three reasons from writer/producer Heidi Thomas why you need to watch this groundbreaking feminist masterpiece:
3. Call the Midwife provides female role models who embrace professionalism, not porn.
“I remember an RAF Careers Officer coming to my school and telling us about the wonderful work we could do in the RAF… as catering assistants! We were furious to hear we would never be allowed to be pilots. Now every profession a girl would wish to consider is open to her.
But I think the Spice Girl, Girl Power thing veered a lot of young women off course, because it was about investing your self-worth in your physical persona, sexuality and “attitude”. I love the idea that we have put the notion of professional women right up there in front of a new generation of TV watchers.”
2. Call the Midwife is the antidote to bad girl TV.
“One of the things they enjoy the most is playing women who are actually nice to each other. Because as young attractive actresses, they are often only offered parts where women are in opposition to one another, where they are catty, or bitchy or quarrelling over the same man.
“They love the idea of women living together in a supportive community dedicated to their professions and to the service of other women, which brings us back round to your thesis about Call The Midwife as a feminist piece.”
1. Even the boys in your house will become addicted to this show about midwives, nuns and babies.
“One interesting thing we learnt, from a breakdown of our audience figures, is that numerically, more men were watching Call The Midwife than Top Gear…”.
“Fundamentally, therefore, any man can even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him–mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp. Dostoevski said once, ‘There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.’”
The common charge against the goodness of God, is that of human suffering. Could only a world without pain provide evidence that God is good and loving? The underlying assumption is that all suffering and sorrow is evil.
A distinction must be made — evil inflicts suffering. Not all suffering is destructive–or evil.
“You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the ‘lord of terrible aspect’, is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes us to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, nor the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work and despotic as a man’s love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child…”
– CS Lewis, The Problem of Pain
It’s human nature to desire comfort and happiness. Most of us spend our days seeking the sort of happiness in this world as Lewis calls ”comfortable guests” who live “happy in our own way.” And yet often we can have that along with many physical comforts, and still hold misery deep inside that can’t be explained or fixed by anything external.
Elizabeth Smart is making the rounds, flogging her new book My Story (written with Congressman Chris Stewart). Smart is, of course, the beautiful Mormon girl who in 2002 at 14 years old was abducted for nine months by evil lunatic Brian David Mitchell and his wife. Then, miraculously, she was found and reunited with her family. Today, she’s married and says she “couldn’t be happier.” She does good work fighting human trafficking and speaking to sexual abuse survivors.
I’ve always been kind of fascinated with Smart (I’ll read the book and get back to you on it if it’s any good). Her kidnappers dragged her around the country, chaining her up like an animal and raping her daily. And the two questions everyone always asks her are 1) why didn’t you run/call for help and 2) how come you’re not, like, bats**t crazy?
The first question doesn’t mean much to me. Fourteen-year-old-girl, threatened, brutalized, terrified: in the movies, she’d have run away. Real life, not so much. I think anyone with half an imagination can figure that one out.
But that second question — that haunts me. It really does. Nine months of trauma, raped every day, mentally tortured by these demonic lowlifes with their threats and their sick religious delusions. Hell, I know women who’ve been assaulted once and have never gotten over it. I know people whose whole lives are defined by the cruel things that were done to them. I myself just have to hear Smart’s story and I start having angry fantasies about what I’d like to do to Mitchell (hint: it involves a ball-peen hammer and pliers). So how does she, who actually went through this stuff… how does she live her life without being consumed by rage every day all the time?
The employees of a company with a history as long and illustrious as Disney have plenty of stories to tell. I’ve read dozens of books on Disney history, including biographies of key figures in the company, and I thought I had heard everything. I discovered just how wrong I was when I began reading It’s Kind Of A Cute Story, the memoir of animator and Imagineer Rolly Crump (also available for Kindle for only $4.99).
Roland Fargo Crump was born in in Alhambra, CA in 1930. He began drawing at an early age and soon discovered his artistic talent. Crump’s only formal training consisted of high school art classes and six Saturdays at an art institute, but his dream was to work for Disney. In 1952 that dream came true, though he had to take a severe pay cut and a second job on the weekends. Crump toiled in animation for seven years until a display of his mobiles and propellers went on display at the company’s library, catching Walt Disney’s attention.
Walt moved him to WED – later Imagineering – where Crump worked on the 1964-65 Worlds Fair pavilions and attractions like It’s A Small World, the Haunted Mansion, and the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland. He went on to work on projects at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Epcot. In all, he spent over 40 years at Disney, and after he left Disney, he worked for a number of different theme parks and other clients before retiring.
In It’s Kind Of A Cute Story, Crump tells his story as only he can. His narration is completely first person, and he writes as though he’s telling the stories directly to the reader. He relates each episode of his life and career warts and all – including some profanity and a few off-color stories.
These days, a career that spans fifty-plus years at one company sounds like a pipe dream. The late John “Flossie Mae” Raiford delivered food to drive-in clients at The Varsity in Atlanta for 56 years. Earlier this year, one of Kroger’s executives retired after a half century with the grocery chain. Google “50 year career” and you’ll find plenty of charming and inspiring stories of long careers with a single employer. And then there’s Marty Sklar.
Sklar was still a fresh-faced college student and editor of UCLA’s Daily Bruin when Disney hired him to create a souvenir newspaper for their new park, Disneyland. Following his graduation in 1956, he joined Disney full time. He began writing speeches and articles for Walt Disney himself, and after Walt’s death, Sklar moved up the ranks in Imagineering until his retirement in 2009. Lucky for us, Sklar has finally told the story of his 53 year career at Disney in his new book Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms (also available for Kindle).
Dream It! Do It! reads as part memoir, part inspirational tome. Sklar writes in a conversational style – you can really imagine him telling the stories directly to you. He shares his memories of working with Walt Disney, including some stories most readers have never heard. He relates the ups and downs of working at Imagineering – the successes, the projects that required a second try, even the moments where language and cultural barriers presented challenges. In one particularly poignant moment, he expresses his anger at having to write Walt’s obituary the day he died rather than planning ahead when many at the studio knew Walt was terminally sick.
It’s now the third Book Plug Friday. And they said we wouldn’t last.
We’ve got a lovely and eclectic collection of books this time, from non-fiction, to Christian memoir, to steampunk, to crime novels.
Now that we’ve been doing it for a couple of weeks we’ve begun to figure out the rules and details.
To submit a piece for consideration, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll receive an automated reply with the submission rules — because when better than after you’ve already submitted?
Here are the rules:
- Your submission should include a link to Amazon if at all possible. B&N and iTunes links are okay in addition, but frankly Amazon gives PJ a cut for any purchases you make through our links.
- Deadline for Friday is Tuesday midnight Mountain Time the preceding week. That is, if you want it in this Friday, we needed it by last Tuesday midnight Mountain Time.
- No more than 2 books per author per week, and don’t resubmit a plug for at least a month.
- Please submit a blurb of 50 words or less with each book.
- If you’re named after another author’s character, we need signed note from the author or his/her heirs.
- It’s free, don’t complain about the service.
- The whim of the editors is law, even with respect to the preceding six rules.
So, this week’s crop, more or less in order of arrival and untainted by editorial choice is below. If a book doesn’t sound like something you’d read, don’t buy it. If it does, have fun.
In the latest entry in the saga of Erling Skjalgsson, the 11th Century Norwegian chieftain is struck by a deadly curse, and must journey north along with his friends in order to crush it at its source. Meanwhile Freydis, niece of the smith Lemming, is kidnapped by the servants of a mysterious, ancient cannibalistic race who dwell in secret in the mountains of the north. Once again the Irish priest Father Ailill narrates a tale of struggle, faith, endurance, and supernatural peril. Fans of H. Rider Haggard will delight in this “lost world” adventure.
Robert D. Rose
It was a kidnapping and revenge scheme so over-planned it was bound to fail, but 22-year-old David Thorne doesn’t have much of a choice. Retired spy Gregor Lunden has taken Thorne’s $170,616 share of a Baltimore robbery. To get it back means help Lunden commit a kidnapping and probably murder. David Thorne is determined that it won’t be his own….
The Stephens-Townsend-Murphy wagon train party crossed the continent in 1844, blazing a trail through the wilderness from Ft. Hall in present-day Idaho, across the high desert and over the Sierra Nevada range to Sacramento; two thousand miles across unknown, trackless wilderness on a gamble that life at the end of the trail would be better. This is the story of their journey, every dusty mile and hard choice, and of an extraordinary group of ordinary Americans.
These essays are collected from my various archives, and focus on events and persons – some of them well-known and some of them not known at all. Some incidents and people have been the inspiration for movies, but many more of them ought to be.
This is a collection of essays about Texas history and people, which originally were blog posts on various blogs. It can be read as a companion and extended footnote to my novels about Texas; The Adelsverein Trilogy, Daughter of Texas, Deep in the Heart, and the upcoming release, The Quivera Trail, which will be available in November, 2013.
C. Blake Powers
An exploration in image and word of day-to-day life of our troops, along with a reminder that beauty can be found in many places even in the most interesting of times.
This book covers my time with the 1st Battalion of the 4th Marines at Al Qa’im, Iraq at the Syrian border; and, a bit about Landstuhl Hospital in Germany — and something very special that takes place there above and beyond the excellent care given.
This is not a book about combat, rather it focuses on the everyday sights that reflect the majority of the time at war that is routine. It is an attempt to share that not seen on the news, and provide a glimpse into a world few have seen and of which even fewer understand.
My hope is that the reader will pause to think even as I try to make them laugh and cry.
ANGRY PRINCESS IS ANGRY. Investigator Lexus Nancy Toulouse, ex-soldier extreme: finds her Libido Generator is on the fritz, learns her old warship wants to “get back together” (despite the fact she already has four husbands!), loses whatever war-torn sanity she had left in a crime reenactment and becomes the Princess Concubine to the mysterious Empress. Then, while trying on lingerie, someone tried to blow her up and she regenerated all the way back to a teenager. Now there will be lots of blood AND NONE OF IT HERS.
Valerie R. Richardson
“Wounded” is a frank look at the wounds dealt to Christians by the Church, and by each other, and biblical ways to fix them. Warmly personal, using stories from the author’s life, herself a wounded Christian, “Wounded” is a must read for pastors, youth leaders and every Christian who has ever found themselves hurt by the Church or fellow believers.
April is an exceptional young lady and something of a snoop. She finds herself involved with intrigues that stretch her abilities after a chance run in with a spy. There is a terrible danger she and her friends and family will lose the only home she has ever known in orbit and be forced to live on the slum ball below. It’s more than a almost teen can deal with. Fortunately she has a lot of smart friends and allies. It’s a good thing because things get very rough and dicey.
In the year 3050, the destroyer Shigure is chosen for a mission critical to mankind. With a new device of unprecedented capabilities, an untested crew and a bold captain, the “Late Rain” is more than she seems…but it remains to be seen if that is enough.
“Ride of the Late Rain” received an Honorable Mention in the Fall 2012 L. Ron Hubbard “Writer’s of the Future” Contest.
Trapped in the Dragon Tong’s search for a lost legend, Steve Maxwell finds a way out by enlisting in the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.
If he survives long enough to earn a commission, he’ll be able to hunt down the pirates who killed his mentor. To get there, he’ll have to slog through rain-swollen swamps, dodge incoming fire on a ‘peacekeeping’ mission, and face down a gang of angry smugglers. Even far away from enemies, a mistake can turn a spaceship into a deathtrap.
It’ll take resourcefulness and courage to succeed… but Steve hasn’t come this far in order to fail.
K. V. Taylor
From independent publisher Dagan Books, IN SITU is a new anthology of science fiction stories featuring alien archeology, hidden mysteries, and things that are better off left buried.
A quiet man finds more than he bargained for when he sets out with his metal detector on a lonely hill … A soldier meets a new kind of enemy fighting an altogether different kind of war … On a distant swamp planet, a woman questions what kind of human she’s becoming … a pregnant archeologist finds a connection with a long-dead alien child … while deep space scavengers wonder what it ever meant to be human at all.
These fifteen evocative science fiction stories will take you from dusty archaeologists digging up our alien past into a distant future where we’ve become the relics. Thought-provoking and entertaining, IN SITU explores science, theology, preservation, and the art of alien finance, in a whole new way.
Edited by Carrie Cuinn. Contains stories by Ken Liu, KV Taylor, Paul A. Dixon, Bear Weiter, Mae Empson, Jason Andrew, Greg Burch, Sarah Hendrix, R.S. Hunter, Rebecca Lloyd, Alex Shvartsman, Kelly C. Stiles, Graham Storrs, David J. West, and Dawn Vogel.
What secrets belong only to a fish? Dive in and find out! Explore this genre-bending anthology of 33 delightfully fishy tales. Fantasy, science fiction, retold folklore, new myths, and more await you.
A generation has passed since asteroid scares led the United States to launch its first and only interstellar starship. The ship returns and announces the discovery of another Earth. People are star-struck, crowds form in Washington, DC, and a boy from Alaska and two lawyers grapple with questions surrounding whether ordinary people will emigrate to the stars.
This is bourgeois, legal science fiction with a hearty helping of space policy wonkery.
(Charlie: I will say, this one intrigued me enough that I bought it myself.)
Book 1 of the Western Front Series.
Darkness has descended upon the world; the fabric of society has been torn asunder, sovereign nations collapse under their own burdens, once stable governments are ushered into revolution and allies of old are thrust into war. The tentacles of darkness have inevitably traveled across the Atlantic and are now tightening their grip on the American republic.
Now, faced with a collapsing economy, a failing currency and a society that is swiftly casting its humanity aside, the United States stands at the precipice of a bedlam and malevolence not witnessed since the fall of Rome.
In search of adventure, a young man is propelled across the multiverse to world very different than our own. Airships are plagued by sky pirates. Sea monsters haunt the seas. Cities glow by the light of alchemical reagents, while evil lurks in the shadows just beyond.
Book 1 of The Hounds of Annwn.
George Talbot Traherne is just doing his job on a fine autumn morning, keeping the hounds together for the huntsman of the Rowanton Hunt in Virginia along the Blue Ridge Mountain. Doesn’t pay to get distracted by a white stag in unfamiliar territory, though. Next thing you know, you might find yourself… somewhere else.
The land is the same but not the people. Their huntsman has just been murdered, and George is tapped for the job. It’s an emergency – the Wild Hunt is only two weeks away, and if it doesn’t happen on schedule, the antlered god Cernunnos will take the realm from its ruler Gwyn ap Nudd and find someone who can mete out justice with the Hounds of Hell in his place.
George throws himself into the task, finding strength in the mission and resources he never knew he had. The more he comes to feel at home, settling into his new responsibilities, the more he wants to stay and make a life for himself. He’s finally met someone worth spending his life with, even if she’s just a bit older, a mere fifteen hundred years or so.
Can he keep the Wild Hunt on track despite the attempts to thwart it? Will he be accepted by those he wants to defend who view his timely presence and his human blood with suspicion? Above all, what does Cernunnos want of him and how far will he go? Can he survive the attention of a god?
is a chapbook that contains twenty poems written in 2013 about a small apartment complex in Carson City, Nevada. The poems are an assortment of haikus, tanka, pantoum, and free verse. The first poem starts with “I see the rain tap on the window.”
Cyn Bagley’s poetry has been published in various literary journals such as the Acumen and Bibliophilos. At this time she has two more chapbooks published on Amazon and Smashwords.
Blood is currency in Avenesse. Mortals faced extinction from the undead legions of the Deathlands. Vampires called nephilim offered a bargain: protection for blood. Facing slavery or annihilation, many mortals submitted. Now blood is currency, vampirism is political power, and undead unsanctioned by the Lunar Emperor must be destroyed. Ashia Boucher is the mortal daughter of the nephilim who watches over the Deathlands border. Her father shields Ashia from Avenesse’s harsh realities and turns a blind eye to her pursuit of forbidden necromantic blood magic. A new Terror haunts Ashia’s family and all Avenesse. Lead by the outlaw Dualo, renegade vampires murder mortals and nephilim alike. With the help of the gunslinging witch hunter Etienne Dusang, the mischievous changeling Tamalandrea and the demon horse Uisthre, Ashia must face the Terror threatening Avenesse or die to her family’s numerous enemies.
Impaler by Kate Paulk revisits the tale of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler. This is the tale of historical fact mixed with fiction and a touch of fantasy. But this is most definitely not the tired tale of vampires skulking in the night, lying in wait for innocent victims. Impaler tells the tale of a man devoted to family and country, cursed and looking for redemption.
December, 1476. The only man feared by the all-conquering Ottoman Sultan battles to reclaim his throne. If he falls all of Europe lies open to the Ottoman armies. If he succeeds…
His army is outnumbered and outclassed, his country is tiny, and he is haunted by a terrible curse. But Vlad Draculea will risk everything on one almost impossible chance to free his people from the hated Ottoman Empire.
In the far future, the colony planet of Farai is on the brink of civil war. Colonel Jason Ebert, a master assassin from Exedra, and his neophyte Faraian partner, Mara ibn Durazzi set out to kill the rebels’ leader and replace him with a double. But when Jason becomes emotionally attached to his partner—the double he has been ordered to kill at mission’s end—he must repress his own morality or risk not only the success of his mission but the stability of the Faraian government and the Colony Alliance itself.