Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Author in ICU-Please Tell a Friend

Today I have important news. For the holidays, author, teacher, husband, and father of two wonderful girls, D.M. Anderson is in the ICU. I was honored to be the editor of his book, Killer Cows. This isn't just your run of the mill author, he's a man who cares very deeply about others. Even while he's been ill, he's promoted the ebook version of Killer Cows. Not because he wants a new car or large screen television. No, he wants the ebook version to sell widely because he's donating 100% of the royalties to the Boland family. Their son, Jeremiah, has a tumor attached to his carotid artery and needs risky surgery.

If ever there was a person who needed our support, it's this author. When you purchase either an ebook copy, or a print copy of Killer Cows, you'll not just be getting a great read, but you'll be helping one of two very deserving people and the people who love them. They say it is the season of giving, and I believe we can really make a difference.

To purchase either ebook or print copy of Killer Cows, visit this link: http://astore.amazon.com/echelonpressp-20/detail/B003CT33LY

Thank you for reading!


Sunday, November 21, 2010

And now for some Chummy Fun :)

This is a short story I wrote a few years back. I thought it might be sort of cool to share my writing here as I haven't in a very long time. So, here's my short story:)


College chums, college pals, maybe cold blooded killers. They come for him, intruding without warning to wrestle him from his dorm room. Trash bag ties bind his wrists, and visions of putrid green dumpsters fill his head. They pull a sham over his head, pull a scam on him, he thinks. His glasses fall and break, leaving a distorted view of the plaid inside the sham. Laughing and cussing they take him from his dorm room into the chill of an autumn night.

The rumble of the car, the squeal of tires and delight. Bouncing and jerking inside the back seat as they go round and round. Teeth snapping down on his tongue as his heart explodes.

thud-thump thud-thump.

Glistening copper fills his mouth. Jimbo, he thinks it’s Jimbo, shoves a whisky bottle beneath the sham, scam, sham. It’s a prank? he asks himself as he drinks the whiskey, burning the tender hole in his tongue.

Hands grabbing him, shoving him onto pavement. Asphalt peels the flesh from his knee and he shouts at the pain. He tries to speak, but they push, giggling and snarling all at once. He falls to his back, and the sham comes off. Blurry ghosts and Mike’s red Trans Am glowing like a grinning demon, doors open like the beast’s wings.

The black sky hangs low as he crawls away, bound hands thudding on the pavement, unable to suck in air to form a sound. They follow, taunting him.

He yearns to flee his pals, to run. He makes it to his knees, glaring at his indistinct hands folded together, straining at the ties. He imagines clubbing them to escape. They kick him. He sprawls, skinning his chin on the concrete, bloodying his nose. He hawks and spits blood to hide a whimper.

It has to be a sham, to be a scam, to be a prank, he thinks as their laughter turns vicious, tearing the air with monster teeth and gargoyle claws. They shout names, swimming toward him like ravenous sharks, after their chum. Pals, peers, when did he become their prey?

In the foggy distance he sees the end of the concrete. Cold blackness shimmers, but beyond it, the lights of salvation. Smelling blood, the sharks advance, throwing the whiskey bottle. It explodes with a pop and glass shreds the skin on his arm. He hobbles to his feet and runs, favoring his bruised knee. His heart beats in rhythm with his flapping feet.

thud-thump thud-thump

They shout behind him, telling him to stop, to come back. His mind cannot focus any more than his eyes can see.

The concrete disappears, and the whooshing air surprises him. He is falling, falling, falling. The lights of salvation aren’t there, only a new pavement, rushing up to great him. It slams into him with the force of an angry steel anvil. His teeth disintegrate and, blood fills his eyes, washing the light crimson…the light.

Atop the parking garage, the sharks finally move like the reanimated dead, head’s hanging. They go back to the Trans Am, folding inside like rubber dolls, and close the doors.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Inferior and Superior People Prt. 5

We've reached the end of the week's look at my debate on Gauging Inferior and Superior People. The first four parts precede this post.

Paraphrased: Associating with undesirable people can harm our reputation in society and in the workplace.

My response: There ARE certain lines one wouldn't cross, but on the other hand, I don't limit my friendships to only those society deem as "worthy" enough to be respected. As far as I'm aware, in the U.S., one cannot be terminated because the boss doesn't like who you hang out with in your private life. Sure, it likely does happen, but it would be an illegal termination (discrimination) and would therefore, be on the shoulders of the one terminated to bring about a lawsuit. (Too few people actually sue on these issues however, which brings about blatant power monopoloies by the discrimantors in our society--but that's another issue.)

What I think we're forgetting, however, is the biblical mandate that we are to go amongst the 'sinners' and love them like our neighbors, expose them to the word of God, and live an exemplary life.

If we continue to discriminate against others because we think (rightly or wrongly) simple interaction with them will bring about negative consequences, then we are furthering the very societal norms that Jesus would have us fight against. Aren't we?

Paraphrased: Worry serves no purpose and anxiety can be harmful.

My response: I believe worry is a natural human emotion that, when used in a healthy manner, can helpfully indicate what needs our attention the most.

I worry that my child will get hit by a car (a reality) and I therefore, pay extra attention when they are near the street. This is healthy.

Worry about those things which we have no power over (such as what another person is nourishing themselves with) is unhealthy because it allows us to take on responsibilities that are not our own.

Helping others to find more positive nourishment is not the same as *owning* another person's health--and therefore *worrying* about their health. We can simply love, understand, and communicate to the best of our abilities our desire to see that other healthy. Our 'healthy' worry then, would be to ensure we are encouraging the 'positive' to the best of our abilities.

Yes--unnecessary anxiety after-the-fact is not healthy and can lead to physical illness beyond the emotional and mental burden. The anxiety itself, however, is a natural human emotion, one that alerts us to the work that needs doing, perhaps using all or some of the methods you used above.

Either way, worry (or concern) and anxiety can never be eradicated from our lives. I disagree that they are "negative" and used in a healthy way, can promote even more positivity in our lives.

Without the worry or anxiety, however, we wouldn't be alerted to the need to take those necessary steps to prevent a misfortune. I think what Jesus was talking about are those instances where we have no power over the situation.

Such as: Worry that I might lose everything in a natural disaster will not keep a natural disaster from happening (an illogical worry/anxiety that Jesus said we shouldn't engage in) but worrying that I will be prepared for such an event will lead me to take necessary steps to prevent as much misfortune as possible. (Food and water supplies, insurance coverage, etc.)

This ended my part of the discussion. I found it very interesting to put into words what I believed. I hope you've found it interesting as well!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Inferior and Superior People Prt. 4

Part 4 of our ongoing review of my debate about Gauging Inferior and Superior People:

Paraphrased: We don't need to be invited to assess one's negative or positive qualities.

My Response: I would say that we do need to be invited to *assess* those qualities, however. What our focus should be, what we should be assessing, is how we wish to respond to any observable quality displayed by another.

Our focus, however, should not be on the other--it is to be on ourselves. If our focus is "gauging" others, such as the title of this thread states, then our focus is not on ourselves, where it needs to be. Connecting with others, on a personal level, is based on how vulnerable we allow ourselves to be with them. How vulnerable we are comfortable with, depends on our own self-assessment and self-acceptance. And thusly, the extent of our own vulnerability will either be abused, or appreciated, depending on the other's ability to be vulnerable with us.

In either case, learning where another person is coming from can't be learned if we don't know where we are coming from. If we are coming from a position of "evaluation" or "gauging" another, then we are not coming from vulnerability and therefore, cannot expect another to make themselves vulnerable to us.

Paraphrased: Jesus taught appreciation of positives and awareness of negatives, as well as detachment. As in a car accident, it's important to know who's to blame and who isn't.

My Response: *Appreciation* and *awareness* are not the same as "interpreting" positives and negatives, however. Discerning between the positive and the negative also has its pitfalls. We see man steal bread (a negative) and interpret it as a sin. We see the same man take his child necessary food to continue living (a positive,) and we see the greater sin of a society that would allow a child to starve when bread is available. Without the second knowledge, however, our discernment is incomplete and our interpretation flawed.

Detachment, however, is a loaded word. I'm having difficulty finding meaningful ways in which detachment could be implemented, let alone how Jesus may have wanted us to use this tool of separation.

I agree that we can intuit much, once we begin to become attune to the 'vibes' or the 'body language' of others and have dedicated ourselves to the observation of others in an intelligent way for the sake of 'reading' those around us. However, I would caution that any such intuitiveness, to be free of false beliefs in our own superiority, must be tempered with the knowledge that we can rarely ever know another beyond the external manifestations of their interior.

Once we recognize that when it comes to interpreting another person, we will almost always be wrong if we attempt a deep evaluation on minimal information, no matter how adept we become at that interpretation, then we have cultivated the necessary humbleness within ourselves to avoid the pitfalls of 'judgement' and inflated superiority.

"God never gives you a burden you cannot bear." I believe that, and therefore, my questioning wasn't so much along the lines of "why me?" as it was: "What am I supposed to DO with this?"

I don't believe it's so much about blame--recognizing the "at-fault" entity in any given situation is VITAL to correctly interpreting cause and effect--but more about what we are to DO with said information.

For me, my personal experiences, engendered in me an obsessive desire to understand the people and the world around me. I believed that if I could understand why people did what they did, then I would be able to move 'past' all that happened. I learned very quickly that while I can trace the development of behaviors in a human being back through each life-altering instance in their life--I could never fully comprehend why one person turns out "normal" and another person becomes "deviant."

Therefore, I relinquished any thought I had of *control* over the world and instead, focused on what, in the end, is most important:

My impact on the world around me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gauging Inferior and Superior People Prt. 3

We continue the week with the third part of my conversation on Gauging Inferior and Superior People.

Paraphrased: If a person has a mind of their own and the ability to use it, then it's acceptable to allow his assessment of himself to influence our assessment of him. Jesus did his best to cultivate righteousness (superior qualities) where He could.

My Response: And WHO would you say *doesn't* have a mind of their own? Which person would you "assess" to be mindless? Which persons would you say don't have the ability of discernment?

This is what is unavoidable once we give ourselves the power to begin assessing "inferior" and "superior" traits in others uninvited. This is negative and is, indeed, a subtle way of feeding ego. There is nothing "humble" about declaring other people are mindless and incapable of discernment.

Was that really what [Jesus] was doing? Was he really trying to empower others into believing they were superior? Or was he attempting to show them, through His love, that prostitutes and 'undesirables' were worthy people, that they had self-worth, that His father loved them and believed them valuable, and that they should love themselves just as much and refrain from doing anything harmful to themselves?

Wasn't this precisely the reason why He went amongst the most egregious "sinners"? So that they might know self-love?

Wasn't His business here on earth to show people how to live with love for one another? Didn't He come to share God's will that they give up the "stoning" of women and the like and learn to love their neighbor? Sharing the value of love WAS his business. He didn't come to teach us to "assess" one another and "evaluate" who is superior or inferior so that we might disengage from one another.

He came to show us that we need not fear mingling with sinners (through His actions) but that we are to love one another as God loves us.

Paraphrased: The accuracy of an interpretation depends on the skills of the interpreter. Intuition also plays a large part in the assessment of others.

My Response: I would add that the quality of the interpretation is also dependent on their motivation, their own self-awareness, and their knowledge of humanity in general. Intuitiveness can be faulty if the lens applied is dirty--or complicated by the log in our own eye.

Yet I would also suggest that there are many who would assess the behavior of another based on a hypothetical "what would I do" that can often lead to a false assessment as well. Which brings in objectivity and the impossibility of accuracy other than when it comes to ones own self.

Simply because I was able to find a way to lay to rest the traumas I have experienced and move through those life-altering episodes, does not mean that another will have found *a* solution, let alone the same one(s) I have. While our experiences may be parallel, the uniqueness of each individual doesn't allow a one-size-fits-all solution, as I'm sure you're aware.

It is not so much the aspects that deal with each individual's internal spiritual journey that I have taken issue with. It is the belief that one has the *ability* to assess another person accurately, either to the negative or the positive.

Nourishment: In cultures that rely on insects for protein, they find ways to make what would be repulsive to others, a positive in their lives. I don't believe that we have sole control over the 'nutrition' in our lives. Yes, we can make positive choices, but negatives will always have their effect on us. We are 'porous' that way, absorbing the world around us.

As to adaptation: While I agree that adaptation is part of survival, we are much more than merely survivalists. I believe that within each one of us is the power to exert our own selves into any environment, both for greater or lesser 'good' or 'evil.'

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inferior and Superior People Prt. 2

This week I'm sharing an exchange I had a few years back about Gauging Inferior and Superior People. This is part 2.

While it's often impossible to avoid undesirable (inferior) people, such as in the workplace, it's best to limit any association with such people as possible.

My response: This is where you lose me. What "undesirable" people do you mean? Undesirable to *us*? Or to society? And what benefit can we give someone we would 'assess' as 'undesirable' if we were not to engage them to change habits that may be harmful to themselves? And if we should fail in that endeavor, does that mean they are any less deserving or worthy of our kindness? In a way, wouldn't it mean they are even MORE deserving of our kindness because they are the ones who need it the most?

I simply don't understand how it is our right or duty to assess others--since that is something we cannot fully do in a meaningful way with confident results. It is an exercise in futility and I believe largely an inappropriate way to spend our time. How another person is treating themselves is only my business if I'm invited, by that person, to help them. If no invitation is offered, then I am intruding where I have no business going.

Yet you charge us with the duty of assessing other human beings--when what we are presented may be one of those moments where an unusual behavior is being displayed, or perhaps they are going through a personal tragedy or trauma--one we know nothing of.

If you were to be assessed by others based on a time when you were displaying a 'totally out of character' behavior, how accurate would that assessment of you be?

On another note--I don't believe that we behave 'out of character' in the true sense of the word, at any time. Whatever we do, it is within us to do. That is not to say that with self-assessment and study of our goals that we can't work to change an aspect of our character.

There's a world of difference between working WITH a person to better understand them to the best of our abilities, and assessing them uninvited. This leads to the trap of believing we can somehow "know better" than they do about what is best for them. We can never be certain, either, in an independent assessment, if we have assessed another person correctly. Unless the sort of intimate communication necessary to understand another is invited, we really have no business assessing anyone but ourselves.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Inferior and Superior People

I used to belong to a lot of "debate" groups a few years back. In one of those groups, a topic was posted about how to gauge "inferior" or "superior" people. Without the other person's permission, I don't feel comfortable sharing their side of the conversation. Because I found the exchange so interesting, I saved the posts to my computer. This week I'll share a few of the parts I authored each day. I will paraphrase the segments I responded to for clarity.

Gauging Inferior and Superior People

Paraphrased: Once we learn how to assess inferior and superior qualities in people, we can choose to disengage from those who are inferior and make room for blessings in our lives.

My response: In essence--what you're saying here is that when one displays qualities others see as 'superior'--we earn respect. When that same person displays qualities other see as "inferior"--we earn their disrespect?

Yet couldn't the very same quality be judged two different ways by different people?

For instance, if one were to stick up for a woman [being discriminated against, the person discriminating against her] would see that as an "inferior" quality--while the woman being discriminated against--would see that as a "superior" quality--right?

So in the end, if others are going to judge one according to their personal views on life--don't we simply owe it to ourselves to be true to who we are, our values, and what we deem important?

I believe in MLK's words that we all have intrinsic worth. None of us are inferior to the next person. Each human being is innately human.

Paraphrased: We must be thoughtful about the food we put into our bodies, just as we must be thoughtful about what we feed our minds to protect our fundamental well-being. An inferior person feeds his ego and should be avoided.

My response: I believe that ignorance on any subject is not something we should seek, no matter how appalling that subject is. For instance, I find child abuse of any sort hard to stomach--but to ignore it in order to try to protect my "fundamental well-being" would be rather selfish, and I'm sure you can agree that being 'selfish' is not a quality anyone should try to attain.

I would consider it a great misfortune to live a life where I believe anyone is inferior. I would consider it a great misfortune to segregate myself away from ANY human being and what I can learn from each and every person.

One would miss the blessing of learning how superior those deemed 'inferior' actually are, one would miss the blessing of learning that our judgments on others is often proven wrong by intimate knowledge of that other. One would miss the blessing of learning about our own strengths and weaknesses. In fact, I can think of no true blessing one gains from ostracizing others from our lives.

I think that we have little control over how some may view us. Sure, there are ways to make ourselves clear and to behave in a way one would assume would be considered 'respectable' by the society we interact in--however, that doesn't mean people within that society don't bring their own mindset to the table.

Globally, we can see how certain expected traits within any given culture are taboo in others. For instance, I know in some cultures it's expected that you will be asked to divulge how much money you have--while in others (mine) it is considered the height of rudeness.

Should I judge that other, from another culture, by my own cultural standards? Or do I do that based on what is normal for them? Of course I would choose the latter, but there are many who would choose the former in my culture. In my culture, some believe if you don't speak our language or swear allegiance to our way of life, you don't belong here. (I disagree.) Yet in many other places in the world, that's not the case at all and views such as those would be seen as odd--to say it nicely ;)

So, perspective and culture plays a large factor in how one's behavior/views are judged. To me, there is no way that we can be human and *never* be in the position where someone won't judge our quality as being inferior or superior. The judges are just as fallible (human) as those they judge.

Striving to be superior by defining inferiority, in my opinion, is a monumental waste of our energy. What we should be striving for, I believe, is understanding and knowledge because it affords us the stronger possibility that we can adhere to our values in any given situation.

The one truism that I have encountered in my life is that people always surprise me. Just when I think I know a person, can predict how they may respond in a given situation, they do something completely out of the blue that shocks me.

I think the most one can do is assess themselves and how they do respond, how they wish they responded, or how they would not want to respond.

(More Tomorrow)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Snowing here...

This is a picture of Molly Eddie took in '08, but I think she's a doll, so I used this one :) I'm writing today, listening to some great music, and having some wonderful coffee. I'm expecting to have a great day that ends with Dexter and The Walking Dead. Very cool! :)

5 Fun but True things about me:

1) I heard over the phone that a friend's grandchildren had head lice. Over the phone, mind you, and I've been lucky enough to have never had head lice, but now my head itches.

2) I love a slice of white bread folded over peanutbutter and a tall glass of ice cold milk with my spaghetti far more than I like garlic bread.

3) I don't like buffets because I feel strange carrying my plate through a room full of strangers.

4) I love the smell of Elmers glue and crayons--they remind me of my childhood.

5) When I was young, we were so poor I used to wear bread bags over my socks to keep them dry inside my boots because they weren't "snow proof."

So that's 5 fun facts about me ;) What about you? Any quirks or situations you want to confess to?


Friday, November 12, 2010

To Nano or Not to Nano, That is NOT the Question

Seriously, I don't have a choice. I want Detour 2 Death to debut at Love is Murder and that means I have to have a complete draft by the end of November. So, not only am I going to be getting those 50k words one way or another, I'm gonna go over by around 30K or so. This just has to happen.

At least that's what I keep telling myself. I can do this. I've got two 10K days scheduled with Milli Thornton, so that's 20K (or more) right there. In the meantime, I'm gonna keep plugging away.

On another note, I'm excited to see tonight's episode of Supernatural. I want to watch the brothers get Sam's soul back and give Crowley what he's got coming to him. I'll be honest, I was scared season 6 would be like "jumping the shark" but I'm truly thrilled with the direction the Eric Kripke took with this. Since the series was only planned for 5 seasons, they've done an impressive job of keeping the legend going. For that, you have my heartfelt thanks! Besides, Jensen Ackles is hot! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fear of Writing-The Year I Quit Writing

Today I'm over at Milli Thornton's blog, Fear of Writing. I talk about why, after winning awards and having multiple books published, I decided to quit writing. Leave a comment and I'll send you a copy of Extreme Writing: Crafting the Action Scene.

I look forward to hearing from you all! :)


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Freeing Myself: TV, Movies, and More

What the heck is wrong with me? I have this weird notion that because I'm a writer and an avid reader, that somehow blogging about movies is a big no-no. What's up with that? This is my darn blog, I should blog about what excites me. I love movies and television (my all time favorite is Supernatural) and music and there ain't nuthin' wrong with that!

So today, I'm gonna start writing about the stuff I'm interested in beyond just what's going on in my writing world—because seriously, who wants to "talk shop" all the time?

First off, I better tell you I have very low-brow tastes when it comes to movies and television. I'm a HUGE horror fan and I don't care what anyone says, I think AMC's new series "The Walking Dead" is awesome. Seriously, who would rather be watching the news (much more horrifying than fiction) or reruns of Bones (and I really like Bones!) I'm enjoying the heck out of this series. SPOILER ALERT: When they walked down the middle of the street covered in guts? I sure as heck wasn't thinking about channel surfing.

Tonight—my program choices are the finale of the Bad Girl's Club (can't wait to see which two roomies show up—and I hope that sneaky Ashley gets the brunt of it all) and the premiere of The Fashion Show with Iman—who sounds like she's going to be as tough and opinionated on the show as she's been in the past.

As far as movies go—I watched Predators last night and thought it was really cool. At first I was like, "The Pianist is gonna play Arnie's role? Huh? Who cast this thing?" But he quickly won me over, as all great actors do! There's a spoiler coming up here, so if you haven't seen the movie yet, don't read the next paragraph:

The part where Adrien Brody's character Royce turns the chameleon trick back on the alien predator by using fire to mask his body heat was truly exciting for both it's action and the intelligence behind that action. Way to go script writers—whoever you may be!

Okay, I'll be blogging about a lot of different stuff from now on. Funny how we don't realize the constraints we put on ourselves sometimes, isn't it?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My 10K (or more) Day

I'm doing Nanowrimo this year. So far, I haven't had much time to write as I've been busy with my editing work. Today, I'm taking the time to write and have declared for myself a 10K day. Over the course of the day, I'll be updating my blog to let y'all know what my word count is so far--just for fun! :)

So, I'll see y'all in a bit!


Friday, November 05, 2010

An Explanation...

In 2005, Echelon Press published my first book, Stark Knight. Before I was published, I'd written Loving Lillie, Bulletproof Bride, and My Biker Bodyguard as well. Today, I had to put together some information for record-keeping on all the titles I've had published since then. Aside from two of the three I mentioned were written before my first book came out, there are nine other titles Echelon has acquired from me. That's 12 in total. Holy Writing Frenzy Batman! :)

So here they are, in the order they were written, followed by the order they were or will be published:

1) Loving Lillie--never
2) Bulletproof Bride--2nd
3) Stark Knight--1st
4) My Biker Bodyguard--3rd
5) Racing the Moon--10th or 11th
6) Silent Knight--4th
7) The Knight Before (short epilogue to the series)--5th
8) Good Knight--6th
9) DFF: Dead Friends Forever--7th
10) School's Out 4-Ever--8th
11) Redemption--10th or 11th
12) Still Life in Death--12th
13) Detour 2 Death--9th

Now all I have to do is finish my half-completed books: Face the Dark, Born to Run, and Driven to Love. Oh, and there's the series I outlined for the Lockwood Legacy, about 5 sisters who, when they hit puberty, discover they're witches. Their father is a traveling antique's collector and evil beings are always trying to murder, maim, or otherwise harm the girls through cursed objects. Sort of Little Women meets The Craft. Then there's the one I've fully researched, temporarily titled "Lucy Book" about psychic twins, remote viewing, and nanotechnology. So that's what--3 half-completed, 5 outlined, and 1 researched. And we need to add the last 3 in the Extreme Hauntings series--which brings me to a grand total:

12 more books.

Wow. By the time I'm done (five years from now? LOL?) I'll have 25 books published. (Well, 24, because The Knight Before is really a short story.)

So now you know why writers get a funny look on their face when someone says, "Hey, you're a writer. I've got this really cool idea for you...."