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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Art for empathy and world peace

The Golden Rule by Normal Rockwell as available at art.com

Lola’s most cherished gift for her 50th birthday is a print from fellow telepath Maurice of Norman Rockwell’s famous painting called “The Golden Rule”. It occurred to me that I’d like a copy of it myself, and now that writing the novel x0 has me thinking so much about the subject, maybe I’ll even start a little collection of prints relating to empathy and world peace. So I looked around.

It turns out that one can get a print of the April 1, 1961 cover of the Saturday Evening Post as shown at the left at art.com and for additional dollars it will come matted and framed.

Peace to the World by saleire

If you prefer original art on the subject of world peace, check out redbubble.com where the original of the painting to the right, entitled Peace to the World by the artist   is available at an affordable price.

Peace Sign by Laura Barbosa

If you are looking for nostalgic peace symbolism  (and how could you not be?) take a look at this original by Laura Barbosa on her website.  She also has quite a bit of other original art available on the rest of her blog, and much of it may bring thoughts of empathy, telepathy and world peace into you head. Although this particular original has been sold, prints can be purchased at redbubble.com.

I’m going to keep seeking more prints to add to my world peace art collection, so you can expect to see additional items here soon.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in art for peace

 

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Making a little noise

It’s been nice to make a little positive noise lately, including a couple of good new reviews on amazon.com, a nice review on The Virtual Muser eBook Review, and a short interview on Hock G. Tjoa‘s blog. Please check them out.  Both Virtual Muser and Hock G. Tjoa are very interesting places to visit as they both make a point of seeking out new authors doing something a little different. Both are good places to discover reading material you might not easily find elsewhere.

Also thanks to everyone who clicked on x0 for me at Best Indie Books.  Thanks to you I’m ranked 10th out of, well, lots of books. If you feel like doing a quick good deed, click on the link above, scroll down to x0 and just click one last time for me. Thanks!

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2012 in x0 elsewhere

 

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Would you like to visit “The Palace of Eternity?”

Many of us share a fascination for books that cross genre lines, and I thought long and hard about whether to label my own magical realism collection as science fiction or as fantasy, knowing that each genre’s followers have fairly specific expectations.

This is why new indie writer Andre Jones has my staunch admiration.  He has written a three novel series that flies in the face of genre classifications, with multiple story lines firmly rooted in both science fiction and fantasy. Check out the information below on both Andre and on his first novel “The Palace of Eternity” and for a brief interview with this author.

You’d think riding wyverns, and being in the company of a shape-changer and an armoured telepath, you’d be safe enough. Prophecy, however, always turns one reality into another.

Shak’aran is a far away world full of exotic beings intrigue and magic. So how did humans get there?  Leonie is a feline thief, down on her luck and fighting for survival in the uncaring city of Delta. Various cults are after her, as is the Jart’lekk, the local assassins guild. And this is a good day.  In her travels to assist Fieron, her shape-changer companion, Leonie learns more about herself and her past. She also gains many enemies … even the dead ones still come after her. But, regardless of her prowess, her uncanny abilities (and being able to ride wyverns) magic is the cause of her undoing … on this world, at least.

Andre Jones was born and bred on the east coast of Australia. He had a varied childhood (mostly involving something to do with the beach) and developed an early interest in drawing and reading.

A friend introduced him to role playing games – and NOT those of the computer variety – real ones. As most gamers had no doubt realised at some point, a new gaming system could be designed with better rules (and omitting all those ‘nuisance’ rules). Andre developed such a system, then decided it needed its own world to test it. Joining the Navy put a dampener on the this scheme, so all the details were to be included in a book … or so he thought. Also being an avid scifi reader, it was only natural to include aspects of scifi.

‘In the Fullness of Time’ is a trilogy involving fantasy and futuristic Earth. Palace of Eternity is book one, Shadow of the Tower is book two and Depths of Time (working title) is the third and final book.

When pushed, he can’t decide who, if any, writer influenced him the most, but the names of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and Harry Harrison adorn his bookshelves along with Katherine Kerr, Stephen Donaldson and Robin Hobb, just to name a few. He now lives in Victoria, Australia, and shares his life with his Scottish wife, daughter and two manic British Shorthair cats. When not writing, he still gets involved with Navy activities, permaculture and designing his straw bale home on his soon-to-be self-sufficient farm.

Sherrie: Have you found it difficult to blend the two different genres of fantasy and science fiction?

Andre: Maybe because I love Science Fiction and Fantasy so much, to me there was no border and therefore no difficulty. I know that may sound crazy to some – magic is fantasy and has no correlation with real science (so how can they be regarded as ‘the same’?) – but through my novels (more specifically in Shadow of the Tower) I tried this analogy: there are natural forces in the universe that, when harnessed correctly – can give you a desired outcome (ie harnessing electricity to give you light). A science-based civilisation uses technology to do this – making wires, filament, bulbs etc. In a low-tech world, ‘magic’ is prominent, they’ve learnt to utilise esoteric means to convert the natural forces to get a desired outcome. But you have to believe 100% that it will work (as well as knowledge and training). A scientist and a sourcer are one and the same – they just used different tools.So, other than the method of hanessing the forces – the results are the same. Its simply that attitude/belief-system of the user that determines what method to use. Spoiler alert – based on that premise, you just might find magic going head-to-head with hi-tech weapons and gadgetry on a futuristic earth … and winning.

Sherrie: What is the thing that  you like best so far about your three novel series?
Andre: A couple of things come to mind: I may be wrong (there could be bias ;), but I feel that there’s a slightly different aspect of the magic and hi-tech blend, the theory behind it and the way it manifests in the ‘real’ world. Also, timetravel is a concept that I find extremely intriguing and the various paradoxes that it can cause. You can’t travel through time without travelling through space. I remove the need to have massive engines for FTL travel or ‘hyperspace’.
Note that Andre will be publishing his series online soon and I will run information here on where one can purchase his book.  In the meantime, you can check out the first twenty chapters at Worthy of Publishing .

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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in other authors

 

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one for one for one

x to the power of 0 equals one. That little mathematical quirk forms the basis for the title of my book and I figure that if you write a book that is basically called “one” you’ve got to love a movement called “one for one“. This past week I became acquainted with Tom’s Shoes and their policy of giving a new pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer buys a pair of shoes. In other words, you aren’t just buying yourself a pair, you are buying one for yourself and one for a child. Thus, the “one for one” movement.

Tom’s has a similar program with eyeglasses, and they also hold a drawing every week to send one customer off with Tom’s employees to deliver that week’s shoes. Both very cool. But what intrigued me most about this company is its rather phenomenal attempt to achieve empathy for those who have no shoes by hosting an annual “One day without shoes” movement. Check out their website for a fun video showing folks from 50 countries trying get through a normal day without shoes. Talk about learning to walk a mile in anothers footsteps…

One of the themes of x0 was to explore the idea of how telepathy would affect our ability to be cruel, or even just indifferent to each others suffering. I’m in awe of this company for trying to achieve that same awareness of the thoughts and feelings of others through a simple act of identifying with them physically for a day. Will a day without shoes bring us closer to world peace? It seems like such a simple idea, but like any act that fosters empathy, it has to help.

And check out my great new shoes in the photo above.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in peace

 

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Empathy lessons from Nigeria

When I started writing a book about a telepathic link developing between two strangers, I wanted the second woman to lead a life that was very different from my protagonist. There were a lot of good reasons to make her Nigerian. For one, I’ve gotten to work with and know a variety of Nigerians in my day job, and I had both information on and appreciation for Nigeria’s cultures. Secondly, I recognized that few nations have as poor a reputation here in the US, largely due, I think, to the ongoing rash of Nigerian internet scams.

But I also knew that Nigeria has lessons to teach the rest of the world about learning to get along. As a nation born out of a forced union of tribes which sometimes held a deep hatred for each other, modern Nigeria has endured internal fighting and atrocities beyond belief. Years ago when I was involved in recruiting geoscientists, I learned about Nigeria’s National Youth Service Core.  Set up in response to Nigeria’s civil war in the early 1970’s, it requires that all Nigerian college graduates spend a year of public service while placed within other ethnic groups. In other words, they are sent off to live with the very people whom their own families may have hated.  The goal is to foster communication, compassion and empathy by exposing young Nigerians to the day to day lives of these “others’ .

As one might guess, such a scheme is plagued by problems.  It targets only the educated youth, and arguably they are already the more open-minded and least likely to perpetuate old hatreds. University graduates are not evenly distributed throughout the regions, and so some areas contribute considerably more to the workforce while other regions benefit more. Sadly, several brutal attacks on young corp members in recent years have tarnished its reputation and left families fearful. And finally, all the problems found in a large bureaucracy can be found here as well. For all it’s failings, however, Nigerians themselves ask the question “What would our nation be like if we hadn’t set up such a program?”

Which brings me to going to college here in the United States. Thanks to the bargain of in-state tuition and the relative ease of moving a teenager a few hundred miles instead of a few thousand, most parents I know strongly encourage their children to go to college nearby. When my three children left Texas to attend schools in far-flung New England, Chicago and the West Coast, we got asked what it was we had against Texas. The answer was that we had something for seeing our nation from different points of view. The U.S. of 2012 is not plagued by civil war, thankfully, but regional animosity and cultural dislike seem to be only growing, and in the end I think that fact can only serve to hurt us all, no matter where our home is or what our beliefs are.

So I personally think that there is lesson to be learned from Nigeria.  If we want our next generation to act and live as one coherent nation working together in spite of differences of opinion, then we need to encourage our youth to get out and see our country through the eyes of people we too often belittle. Nigeria may not be executing this plan perfectly, but they have an idea worth emulating. How would our nation change if a year of college far out of state was encouraged whenever practical? The result could well be that our children end up befriending the very people that we think that do not like, and we find ourselves in the awkward position of having to like more people.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in peace

 

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Come take a Journey to Light

Fellow indie author and kindred spirit Bob Craton has written a fascinating trilogy about four pacifists who must join forces to save their world from a brutal empire. I enjoyed the first novel in his series recently, and below I share the synopsis and Bob’s bio with you.

Journey to Light: Part I of The High Duties of Pàçia: Imagine a world populated with the entire spectrum of humanity. Good people, ordinary citizens of small cities, fear attack from brutal and powerful men called the Zafiri. Great Cities are divided between the decadence and splendor of the wealthy and the deprivation and squalor of the poor. An organization of women known as the Sistéria is widely known but little understood. Its members have the talent to use ‘effect,’ the ability the read and control the emotions of others, and sometimes to have prescient visions of the future. And people in Pàçia, a land with an ancient history set apart from the rest of the world, were once gentle, kind and peaceful. Their leaders did not have the power to rule or command; instead they had duties to fulfill – High Duties which for millennia helped make the world a better place. That is, until twelve years earlier when the Zafiri invaded Pàçia with a massive army, capturing the beautiful city Abbelôn and crushing the gentle people. Now the rest of the world is threatened by more war and destruction.

Then an extraordinary young woman named Sistére Graice crosses paths with a man unlike any she has met before. Her ‘effect,’ which has always worked on everyone else, has no power over him. Known only as Holder, the man has no memory and doesn’t know his own identity. Graice’s mentor Sybille hires him as a guide for a journey she and Graice must make, partly so they can keep him close until they discover his secret. As they travel, Graice tries to help Holder recover his memory. While he is in a drugged sleep, she ‘sees’ into his mind and discovers small fragments of past events, all involving a beautiful golden-haired woman. When he wakes, Holder still does not remember these scenes but Graice gains clues about his identity. The women now know who he is (or was) but do not tell him. He must remember on his own for the recovery to succeed.

In the backwaters of the land meanwhile, a boy age thirteen travels with his aunt (his sole surviving relative) hiding from enemy spies by moving constantly and using false names and disguises. When he complains that he knows nothing about his parents, she reveals his family name and bits of its history. It’s and old and honored lineage. Later, she gives him an amulet and implies he will wear it someday. It’s an Emblem of High Duty, she says. His grandfather and mother had held two of the three High Duties before they died.

A girl named Caelia, also thirteen, hides from the same enemy. She lives with her parents and many other refugees in a cavern where her father searches for secrets of the Anziên people, a civilization which collapsed 3,500 years earlier. Named after a legendary heroine from antiquity, Caelia is unusually bright and mature for her age and her shining red-gold hair sets her apart. Girls with that hair color are born once in a millennium, people say, and everyone in the community loves Caelia. At this point, however, even the girl herself does not know why they do. When she wants to leave the cave on an adventure, everybody objects but no one can say no to her. She gets her way and departs with a trading expedition.

Along their separate paths, Graice and Holder are attacked by a monstrous creature; outlaws kidnap Caelia and drag her into a forest wilderness; and enemy soldiers close in on the boy, causing him to flee for his life. Not only do all survive but the encounters also reveal hidden secrets. The story continues in Return of the High Protector: Part II of the High Duties of Pàçia.

Biography of the Author

When he was a child, Bob Craton’s teachers often remarked (not always favorably) about his day-dreaming. He spent much of his time lost in his own imagination, often creating elaborate elementary school tall-tales, and the habit never went away as he grew up. Coming of age in the 1960s filled his head with dreams of saving the world and having a career in academia. Then the real world closed in. With a family to support, he took a job at the corporate grindstone, just temporarily until he could get back to grad school and earn the PhD he desired. Somehow ‘temporarily’ turned into thirty-three years of stress and boredom but he kept entertaining himself by creating stories inside his head. Interestingly (well, he hopes it’s interesting anyway), his best ideas came to him while he was stuck in rush-hour traffic during his daily commute.

At age fifty-seven, he retired early (a euphemism for ‘got laid off) and had time to put his tales on ‘paper’ (an ancient product now replaced by digital electronics). The ideas in his head were all visual, like scenes from a movie, and as began writing, he learned to translate visual into verbal and improve his skills. Or at least, that’s what he says. He admits that sometimes minor characters – or some who weren’t included in the original plan at all – demand attention. Frequently, he agrees with them and expands their roles. Many people believe he is bonkers for believing that fictional characters talk to him, but he calls it creativity and remains unrepentant.

If you are interested in reading this book it can be found here at Smashwords and here at Amazon.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in other authors

 

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