RSS

Peace Out

I’ve taken a bit of break from blogging for a lot of good reasons. Finishing my fifth novel, d4, turned out to be more of an overwhelming experience than I expected, and the timing overlapped with producing a new version of my first novel x0. This mild rewrite was designed to better use the books interactive links in the electronic version, and to be smoother without them in the paperback version. I’m proud of all my efforts but, as I keep learning the hard way, you can only do so much, and if you try to do more, then your head is likely to be lost in the clouds while you are doing it.

True voice 2In the real world, life moved on. I started a new job and went on a vacation and looked up only to discover that one of my own Texan congressmen was busy likening refuge children from Central America to the Normandy invasion. Fellow Americans were screaming and waving signs at busloads of youngsters, in at least one case too angry to notice that it was a bus full American children on a field trip. Another Malaysian aircraft was missing. This one turned out to have been shot down by mistake, by people too angry to know or care that they had blasted a group of uninvolved innocents out of the sky. Meanwhile teenagers of all faiths seem to have become the latest casualties the ongoing dance of fear and revenge in the Gaza Strip.

In fact, every news channel I turned to was using the word “crisis” although they were applying it left and right to all manner of things. A world in crisis. Great. Do we love our screaming and our shooting and our anger that much?

I’m picking up my pen again and I’ll be starting the last book in my series soon. While I write it, I hope to finish editing d4 and get it published, and also to give y1 the bit of a rewrite that x0 just got. It’s too much to do at once and I know it. I’ll be distracted and lost in my own world. I suspect that is why I will be doing it.

(Please drop by the face book page for Your True Voice and give them a like for the image shown here.)

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 20, 2014 in peace

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Tolerance gets a test

nothingThose of us who walk around proclaiming how humans ought to treat each other with more kindness and respect run into this problem. We find people doing things that aren’t illegal or unethical but just make us say “yuck”. Whether it is hot dog eating contests or tongue splitting procedures, our first instinct is to search for reasons why this is a a genuinely bad idea. There must be some valid objection that allows us be disgusted. There is health and nutrition. Infections and sanitation. And always, the children. We have to protect the children.

Of course, one quickly sees how those same arguments are used to ban books and ostracize anyone unusual and ultimately discriminate against freedom of choice of all kinds. Do you really want to live a world were anyone gets told how much they can eat of what or how little they can modify their own body? I don’t. And I don’t believe in treating people poorly based on preferences they are entitled to have. I don’t have to like their choices, but I’m also not entitled to a world in which my sensibilities are never offended by other people enjoying what I don’t like.

Enter the new BSMD craze.Or is it BDSM? I’m not sure, but the indie publishing world is aflame with hunky dominant men who enjoy hurting and demeaning their otherwise strong and gorgeous women who apparently love every bit of the pain and humiliation. Given that I am the author of four self-published books, I do some marketing research and was kind of aware of this in the background. However, I recently took my latest creation, c3, on a blog tour and got a whole new look at what is out there. Oh my.

My tour was conducted by a recommended site that focuses on fantasy, science fiction and romance. Kind of a nice mix, I thought, and I checked out some of the blogs ahead of time and they seemed fine. Once my tour started, however, I noticed how many of the sites involved required me to click something affirming that I was over 18 years of age and did not object to sexual content. That was fine.I enjoy a little erotica now and then. No problem.

To be fair, many sites did include a wider variety of stories, but once it moved to the erotic, it looked like most of the folks in these books were busy tying each other up and beating on each other. Yuck. My fantasy novel championing the power of young girls to take control of their own bodies and their own sexuality was actually sandwiched in between a novel about a football player who likes his women to pretend to be submissive little girls and an excerpt about one female submissive interviewing another about getting beaten with a stainless steel cane by her fiance as he ‘prepares her’ for their honeymoon. I’m not making this up. There was also a blog feature about how African American’s are embracing the sadomasochist fun, and listing various conventions to attend. Conventions? These people with slavery agreements and stainless steel canes have conventions?

spirit science 1I took a few deep breaths. Adults are entitled to all the consenting fun they can handle, I reminded myself. They are entitled to read about it as well. I just had no idea that there was such a market for something that seems to go far beyond mostly gentle horseplay all the way to a lifestyle of chosen submission. I found myself angry about how often these “she really loves” it arguments are used to justify genuine abuse and rape, and how debilitating such treatment is to the many women who find it disgusting, not erotic. I found myself protective for the young men and women who might read this and let it shape their ideas of how to behave, in the bedroom and outside of it, with those who share such tastes and more critically with those who don’t. Yes, I found myself wanting to protect the children. I took a few more deep breaths.

It was too late to cancel the book tour, so I let it wind itself down, and declined to add any more posts or articles of my own once I hit this point. Honestly, I’m still struggling with how I feel about this.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 25, 2014 in writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

x0 gets a makeover

cleaningI’ve been quiet lately, hard at word on my own personal version of spring cleaning. Top priority has been to get out the feather duster and my high-powered vacuum and make my original creation x0 somewhat shiny and new.

To that end, I’ve created a second print edition of x0, which has been edited to work better as a hard copy. Underlined links and the references to them have been removed, along with a little too much factual material that was included in the original text. As my writing has evolved, it made sense to take this out. All of this information is available here on the book’s website, after all, where it can be updated and better maintained.

I’ve also added more clearly delineated breaks for scene changes and a list of characters. A small number of corrections have been made, but the story itself is unchanged.

I’ve gone ahead and carried some of those tweaks back into my Kindle version as well, and in a few days both Create Space knightand Kindle should be selling the new and slightly more reader friendly x0. I’m excited! I hope that my story will now be more accessible to those who may enjoy it.

The next step is Smashwords.com. This site distributes all of my books to Barnes and Noble, Itunes and others. Because it must comply with so many different formatting requirements, self-published author’s like myself know that it is a bear to get a new version of a book through the Smashwords autovetter. However, it can be done and in a week or two I will put on my best armor and attempt it.

zen2zany 3Within a month or two, the new and improved x0 will have made its way out to all of the various distribution channels and then I will start a renewed publicity campaign for this, my first novel.

Funny thing. As life has gone on and reviews have come in and people have started reading x0 and never said a word about it and all the other usual nonsense that goes with a creative endeavor like this, I’ve come to think of this first book as “not as good as my others”.

Spring cleaning forced me to reread it carefully and to be more objective and less emotional about it. I found mistakes, of course, and things I did not particularly like. But I also found more that pleased me than I expected. This book was written with my heart wide open, and it shows. I’m going to enjoy spending some time with it again, and giving it another chance to dance in the light.

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 7, 2014 in writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Electrify Africa

Writing a novel in which at least half the action takes place in a sub-Sahara African nation made me more aware than I had been about the day to day struggles in a developing country. Mind you, “more aware” merely means less ignorant. I’ve never lived anywhere without electricity, clean water, and ample food and my research produced information and sympathy, not understanding. But as my hero of x0 concludes, knowledge and concern are a start.

beautiful life3I work with several Nigerians, in real life, and enjoy the occasional opportunity to see the world through their eyes. They give me a feel for how complicated their homeland is, and how well-meant simple solutions often fail. Obviously, problems everywhere else can be complex too. I work in the oil industry, and have a grown child who makes his living trying to understand climate change. We both want what is best for this planet, and we each spend our days surrounded by those with very different opinions about how that should be achieved.

All of this came together for me recently when I received an impassioned email plea, from Bono of U2 no less, to support the Electrify Africa Act. It was described as “a life-saving bill that would help Africa bring electricity to 50 million people for the very first time”. This sounds wonderful. Nigerian co-workers tell me that much of the electric power in their country comes from diesel generators, a smoky, noisy, inefficient part-time solution that they suspect puts money in somebody’s pocket. I am all for a better answer and even willing to see some of my tax dollars used to get there.

I received a follow-up email a few days ago saying the bill had passed. Wahoo! Furthermore, I was informed that my representative,Texas Republican Congressman Kevin Brady, had voted for it. Wait a minute. Maybe I am being too cynical here, but over the past several years I have noticed that Congressman Brady and I don’t agree on a while lot of things. If he voted yes, perhaps I’m not as informed about this bill as I thought.

Indeed, a little more research showed that the bill is controversial and the issues are complicated “Access to power is a principal bottleneck to growth in Africa. Six hundred million Africans lack access to a power grid” reads one headline. Yes, we need to do something about that.  “Two U.S. initiatives to provide Africans with electricity seem likely to lead to large, climate-polluting projects rather than the locally sourced renewable energy rural Africa needs” says another. Okay, I may be starting to see where my pro-oil-industry congressman fits in.

sungazing7The Nation takes it a step further and adds that “Proponents of Electrify and Power Africa have been most publicly enthusiastic about new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas on the continent, which has many African activists wary of a resource grab.” USAID, a U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty puts it somewhat differently. “Power Africa encourages countries to make energy sector reforms while connecting entrepreneurs and U.S. businesses to investment opportunities.”

What to do? Go with an initiative that will be backed by many more, and yet may well invite more problems into a continent that desperately needs less of them? Or hold out for a better, more environmentally friendly and Africa-centric solution? Remember “electricity allows businesses to flourish, clinics to store vaccines, and students to study long after dark. But for more than two-thirds of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa, these opportunities simply do not exist.” Politics is a messy business. For now, I’m going to reluctantly cheer on the passage of this bill on the grounds that trying to solve a problem is better than doing nothing. Let’s hope that is true in this case.

(Thanks to the Facebook pages of Your Beautiful Life and Sungazing for sharing the images shown above.)

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Nigeria

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ten Wonderful, Easy Things You Can Do for Your Friend Who Writes Books

True voice 4Maybe you don’t read much, or maybe you just don’t like fiction. Maybe you like it a lot and you have a TBR pile of sixty or so novels. Whatever the reason, you have a good friend or close relative who self-publishes her stories and you think it is totally cool but you haven’t gotten around to reading one yet. It would be nice if there was a quick way to show your support.

There are ten of them I can think of, and any single one will make her smile. You can probably do them all in under twenty minutes without spending a dime or uttering anything but the truth. Are you ready? Open your browser and let’s go

Start with Amazon.com. Type in her name, and pick the option to go to her Amazon page. In the upper right hand corner, you can like her author page. Let’s be honest, an author page with few or no likes looks so forlorn. What if she doesn’t have one? Gently suggest to her that she take a few minutes and make one, so you can like it.

Now go to her most recent, or most popular, book. Scroll down to the reviews. Find a few that speak highly of the book, but also are well written and honestly point out her strengths. A positive but fair review will attract readers who will like the work, and that is what you want for her. Click the button at the bottom of these reviews that says you found the review helpful. You did, didn’t you? Your click will help scoot these reviews up to the top.

On to Goodreads. Here, you can add her books to your bookshelf. When you do, all your friends will see that you did, and that is free publicity for her. Then check out Listopia. Goodreads has hundreds of lists, ranging from the color of the cover to the first letter of the title. Her book surely belongs on several, so add it. Once again, that’s more publicity.

hippiepeace10Twitter gives you lots of options. The easiest is to simply retweet one of her own book-related tweets for her. My favorite is to write my own tweet about her book that includes her name, the book’s title, and some fun or funny remark. This gives her something to retweet to her own followers, and that is priceless.

Facebook also offers a lot of options. Hopefully she has a page for her book and you’ve already liked it. If not, fix that. If so, like and share a post of hers that you particularly enjoyed. With the new FB algorithm you may have to go to her page to find it as it may no longer come to you. While you are there, comment about another post or two. All this activity will bring more eyes her way.

Finally, drop by her blog. Become a follower. Comment on a post. You can even mix and match here by tweeting one of her blog posts or sharing it on Facebook, so that you make a little noise everywhere on her behalf.

If you are the writer, not the friend, consider hanging on to this list until your birthday or some other special occasion rolls around. Then don’t be shy. Pass this along to anyone who says that they want to do something nice for you.

Note: z2 is just finishing a blog tour through the fine folks at Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours. The post below is part of that tour and it appeared May 4 on a wonderful blog called Book Faery Reviews. Please share this post with wild abandon and make struggling writers happier everywhere.

Appreciation for the great images above goes out to the Facebook pages of Hippie Peace Freaks and Your True Voice. Please drop by and give them both a like.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 10, 2014 in writing

 

Tags: , , ,

Why in the world would you write a book about Nigeria?

Authors note: My third novel z2 is currently on blog tour through the fine folks at Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours. The post below is part of that tour and it appeared a few days ago on Always Jo Art, a fun blog about books, motherhood, and product give-aways. My thoughts were inspired by a post I wrote here back in 2012, three whole books ago. A lot has changed for me since then, but apparently other things haven’t changed much at all.

http://nollywoodonline.info/?p=5After I finished my first novel, x0, I was told that writing about Nigeria was a poor choice because it just isn’t a place that particularly interests many readers. Paris or London would have been better. I found this funny. Lots of novels take place in Paris and London and it seemed to me that the world didn’t need one more. Nigeria, on the other hand, has a plethora of rich stories to tell which are far less known, at least in Texas where I live.

I chose Nigeria originally because I wanted to write a tale of two very different women helping each other. About the same time that I started the book, I also started a new job exploring for oil in the Niger Delta and had the chance to work with many Nigerians. One day I asked my office mate, a Nigerian geologist, to describe to me how his tribe, the Igbo, were unique. He responded by telling me a legend about Igbo slaves coming to America. It startled me at first that he would even speak of such a thing, but in the end I was touched by both the moving story he told, and by the powerful way in that he told it. I tried to capture each of those when I retold this scene in x0.

95As I wrote, I discovered how much the fascinating details of a far off land appeal to me. That meant that I had to find a location for my second book, y1 that was even less well known. Once I found it, I was writing about the remote Pacific Island nation of Kiribati, exactly on the other side of the globe from my first story.

The plot of my third novel, z2, dictated that my characters not wander off too far from Texas, so instead I found a way to let my readers wander around in time. Although z2 never leaves North America, it includes visits to a Mayan village under siege in Guatemala and the camp of eighteenth-century lumberjacks on the coast of Belize.

image014No, I’m not done with my armchair travels yet. There are three more books in this collection and the one I’ve just finished, c3, takes place partly in the isolated Himalayan nation of Bhutan. The one I’m working on now is taking me to the far North, where I am learning fascinating things about Greenland and Iceland.

Why Nigeria? Why anywhere. Every spot on this earth is teeming with tales of its own and with great settings for new ones. These stories not only have the capacity to entertain us, but they can also give us new information and a fresh perspective.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Nigeria

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Proud of doing nothing

Dalai7I’m pleased with myself this week. Not because I got a lot done, but because I didn’t. You see, I happen to be one of those people who suffer from too much will power. Like all things that others have and we want (curly hair/straight hair, big boobs/small boobs) will power is one of those grass is greener issues. Friends struggle with accomplishing their goals, while I make a list, prioritize it, and then charge my way through every day until I am exhausted and sometimes not particularly pleasant. Then I get up and do the same thing again. I do get a tremendous amount done, just ask anyone, but every so often I want to stop it all and have more fun.

So, this week, I pretty much didn’t do what I do. I did not meet my writing goals. I blew off an entire online course in geomechanics that I signed up for and probably would enjoy. (Maybe next time they offer it.) I didn’t post on a single blog (see how far behind I am on this one) and you don’t want to hear about the laundry and times I didn’t exercise.

What did I do? I spontaneously went to a concert and had a picnic on the lawn. Drank a bottle of wine. Yes the whole thing but it was over a few hours. Saw Arcade Fire and they were great. I got a pedicure, Skyped for way too long with my sister, and I’m going bowling tomorrow with my husband. I haven’t bowled in a decade. Way too busy for that kind of nonsense normally.

I don’t know what has gotten into me. Spring? It is finally hitting the Houston area. Full moon? Accomplishment fatigue? Guess it doesn’t matter. I had a great time and next week Ill go back to being me. I do like who I am, and I’ll get plenty done then.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2014 in writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,914 other followers

%d bloggers like this: