Monthly Archives: August 2015

Next Generation of Bullies

With all the school programs on bullying you would think we’ve learned how to deal with bullies, avoid them, correct them, or at least stifle them somewhat. Unfortunately, based on what I keep seeing online and in the news we seem to have failed dismally.
Or maybe it’s adults, not students, who haven’t learned that bullying in any form isn’t okay.

I refer to the current trend of cyber bullying where supposedly rational adults use Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media to intimidate, threaten, or coerce individuals to a singular way of thinking or belief under the guise of freedom of speech or political correctness. Some of this even  bleeds over into the comment section of legitimate news articles or petition campaigns which encourage readers/listeners to boycott, demonstrate, destroy, or threaten the “victim.”

An example is the recent story of the dentist who shot an African lion overseas.  I am not debating the moral or legal aspects of this issue. However, this case, like so many others in today’s headlines where an individual’s personal beliefs differ from a segment of society, highlights the current trend to verbally and physically belittle or destroy dissenters without benefit of a trial.

Several CEOs have been fired or dismissed like criminals and their lives ruined, yet these individuals were never accused or charged for breaking any laws.  John Public tried and convicted them on social media in a blatant display of “lynch mob” mentality in some of the worse forms of cyber bullying I have ever witnessed.

Journalists are partly to blame, since for decades they’ve “tried” legal cases in headlines, allowing the public to assume that such behavior is acceptable in society.  Should we then be surprised when said public takes matters into their own hands to denigrate, belittle and besmirch someone’s character, livelihood, or status?

As an avid reader of science fiction, I am disturbed where this current behavioral trend might lead us. Science fiction writers have spent decades exploring the “what if” of trends like this one, where a rabid society quickly decays into anarchy or chaos, or worse, a totalitarian regime where individuality and freedom of thought are severely punished.

I may not agree with you; I may think your ideas chauvinistic, puerile, or completely wrong; however, I will defend your right to hold those beliefs and act on those beliefs as long as they do not break any laws.

 

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A Sad State of Affairs

During teacher in service this year, we participated in an unusual activity designed to make us more aware of our students needs. During the course of the simulation, I had to role play the part of a stay-at-home mother.

Unfortunately the simulation did not describe me as a “stay-at-home” mother; it designated me as “unemployed.”

Unemployed. A mother who chooses to stay at home with her children is now considered “unemployed?” When did our culture become so materialistic that we must force mothers to abandon their roles as homemakers to become wage earners?

I grew up in a family where Mom had to work to make ends meet. My dad couldn’t work due to health reasons, so Mom had to put food on the table. Fortunately, she didn’t have to be at work until 8:30 and was home by 4:30ish every day since she worked at the courthouse. She was able to make sure we were up and ready for school and got home pretty much shortly after we did. Minimal “latchkey” kid syndrome. Still, many of the things associated with moms being at home were missing—no tray of fresh baked cookies every day waiting on us with a glass of milk after school, no being there for every program/activity we participated in during school hours, etc.

However, the biggest issue overlooked by feminists and women’s movement proponents were that moms who worked outside the home didn’t have any help with work in the home. You see the movers and the shakers who insisted that the only way to be empowered as a woman was to work outside the home didn’t take into consideration that all the work done inside the home would be done by the mother, as well. And she didn’t have time or energy because she was working outside the home.

We still deal with this issue. Mothers forced to work in the public to make ends meet, or achieve a sense of fulfillment, or to still the niggling voices of belittlement still find themselves trying to juggle both the workplace and home chores, so we find ourselves with fractured families and exhausted, stressed, guilt-ridden mothers.

I’m not saying women can’t find fulfillment in the workplace, but we should never denigrate those courageous women who choose to stay home and be a full time wife and mother. They are the hardest workers, who receive no monetary reimbursement for their work, no overtime, no sick leave, and no vacation. Any mother can tell you she works harder, longer hours, and multitasks at a variety of “vocations” that make her irreplaceable.

Don’t call her “unemployed.”

Mind blowing Love

A lot of people, including Christians, have a mistaken idea of sin and its consequences. Most view sin as a stumbling block that prevents God’s love from reaching us, or as a breaking of law that requires God to punish us.

Yes, sin has consequences, but the true tragedy of sin is often overlooked. Sin separates us from God, not the other way around. You see, God’s view of us doesn’t change. He sees us the way He has always seen us, as sinners, imperfect, impure. Even the best of us fail to match up to His standards, so we are all in the same boat—lost. When a person accepts Christ’s matchless atonement, God sees us through the forgiveness of Christ’s blood which washes away all sin, making us pure, forgiven, perfect. Those are the only two ways God views humanity and all our efforts, actions, strivings, and longings can’t change it.

The tragedy of sin isn’t that it changes how God views us; the tragedy is that sin changes how we view God. Sin reorders our priorities, warps our sense of right and wrong, infects us with a debilitating cancer of doubt and disbelief. It transforms us from people who can see clearly to people who “see through a glass darkly.” Our view of God changes from someone who “loves us with an everlasting love” to a mean and vindictive, capricious omnipotent being out to get us.

Have you ever had a friend who did something bad to you? Perhaps you forgave the friend because you felt the friendship was worth keeping, but your friend continues to avoid you, justifying his actions by assuming you wouldn’t forgive him, or that his actions were just “too terrible.” After time, the friend begins to tell other people how bad you are and that you abandoned the friendship. Hits a bit close to home, yes? Magnify those attitudes by the factor of God’s greatness and you begin to get a glimpse of what sin does in our lives, how it fractures the relationship on our side. The longer we wallow in sin, the harder it is for us to ask forgiveness and seek out the same God who is constantly pursuing us with love and mercy.

Romans 5:8 says it plainly and simply, “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait for us to “get good, get clean, get better.” He chose to love us when we were fractured, messed up beings without any value or worth. Christ’s atonement didn’t make us better; it made us forgiven. So even when we still mess up, still don’t get it right, still make wrong choices, He sees us as forgiven—not by our actions, but by His.

Shameless Self Promotion

In case you didn’t catch it from the title, I’ll warn you again: I will be talking specifically and in detail about my books. I figure after 70 something blogs, I can relax a bit and talk about a subject near and dear to my heart….my own creations.

So what sets my novels apart from the ocean of books out there? Probably not much. Such a question is as pointless as debating whether apples are better than passion fruit. Or whether a Ferrari out “oomphs” a Lexus. The delight is in the eye of the beholder…in this case, the reader.

What you will find in all my novels is a predilection for the light side of storytelling rather than the dark side. Not sorry for the Star Wars reference…I grew up with the original trilogy before it went dark side. So swashbuckling, fantasy, and space opera like Star Trek fueled my imagination from a young and impressionable age. And I’ve had over 30 years to perfect it. I like a fun read, one that leaves me feeling happy at the end, which is what I write because ultimately I do believe in happy endings, even in real life.

You’ll find my stories have a familiar feel to them, bits and pieces of other authors and genres you’ve read, all blended together into a unique, yet comfortable universe. Thanks to a fan who took the time to review one of my stories, I now know what makes my stories special isn’t the scientists or royalty or upper echelons, but the ordinary folk dealing with what life throws at them in a rather unique setting. And sometimes the ordinary folk don’t get to solve the problem; the answer comes from outside their socio-economic group simply because they don’t have the resources or answers or power—much like real life, although we don’t want to admit it to ourselves.

While Amazon tries to please readers with specific information about books through genres and age groups, my stories really don’t fall in those categories. How do you categorize a book that both teenagers and college professors enjoy? Amazon doesn’t have an All Ages button. Unfortunately.

Merely saying my books are “science fiction” isn’t enough since the various sublevels are as plenteous as the asteroid belt on the other side of Mars. My stories recombine the types of science fiction and fantasy the way Snapple flips juice: Japanese western on Mars? Ninja fantasy? Space opera without a fleet of ships? I take an idea and find a home for it without stressing about what “genre” it falls under.

Then there’s the whole price thing. Ninety-nine cents. On Kindle. Every day. Always. Not because I don’t think my books are worth it, but because I grew up a poor kid making 50 cents an hour babysitting to buy $3.50 paperbacks. No wonder I got most of my books at the library. So I remember what it’s like to be a reader with a voracious appetite for books and unable to buy them. I wish I could keep the paperback price down, but it’s a necessary evil to make the books available to library databases. Yet another reason to keep the Kindle price as low as it will go.

See it’s not about money for me. It’s about readers. I’d rather give a reader a couple hours of pleasure than get a royalty. Don’t get me wrong. If ever I build a large enough reader base that my books take off and I make several thousand dollars, I’ll be whooping and hollering. But I’d rather have the readers.

As an added bonus, I finally figured out how to promo my books as FREE Kindle books, so for the next few days until Aug 5, Redline is free on Kindle. Go grab a copy and enjoy.

So I challenge you. Take a look at my book list, pick one out, and take a gamble. If you like it, pick up another one, or write a review. If you don’t like it, drop me an email. I’d love to visit with you. No strings attached and I won’t get mad. Promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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