Cover Reveal: Some Time Later


Hi, everyone.  I’m very excited to share the cover for Some Time Later, the latest anthology from the Treehouse Writers Group.  Inside, you’ll find tales by Dover Whitecliff, Kristen Weiss, T.E. MacArthur, Harry Turtledove … and me!  This is the place to get my latest tales, Flowers of London and Flowers of Paris (look for a certain masked inventor in this one!).  Funds from the anthology will benefit literacy programs.  I’ll put up a sales link as soon as it’s available.

Weekend Reads: “Strangers In Their Own Land”

This book was recommended by Ed Erickson, PhD, my co-author on the long out-of-print Born of War … Dedicated to Peace (my first book was a non-fiction military history work about Sixth U.S. Army).  It was far from being an easy read, but it was an enlightening one. I wound up including in the reference list for Bayou Fire as it dealt with some of the issues discussed in the text.

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American RightStrangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild decided that she wanted to find answers to a question that many progressives/liberals ask: why do conservatives vote against their own best interests? Hochschild refers to this as the Great Paradox.

She decided to pick one keyhole issue: the environment. Then, she looked at one of the most polluted areas in the United States, which also happened to be (by most measures) the most conservative: Louisiana’s Cajun country. So, she visited the region 10 times over five years to interview residents. A couple were progressives, but they had Tea Party friends to whom they could introduce her.

Hochschild’s interviewees included a man whose job it was to dump toxic sludge into the bayou, a man whose dream retirement home was destroyed by a sink hole directly attributable to environmental damage, and more. Every single one of the people affected the worst by environmental damage was a staunch conservative who voted along Republican party lines because they considered issues like abortion more important than the environment.

At the root of all of these decisions was what Hochschild called the deep story, which was about feelings. These voters, all of them white and older, felt that people were cutting ahead of them in line and telling them how they should feel about things: that they should be okay with black people, or LGBTQ people, or women, having equal rights to white men whether they felt that way or not.

Many of the interviewees, toward the end of the research cycle, were planning to vote for Trump because he told them that it was okay not to care about those people (I am summing up).

This was a disturbing and enlightening look into the mind of the typical cultural conservative. I felt a great deal of empathy and pity for this group of people who were seeing blue collar jobs go away … although they had opportunities to train to learn something different and chose not to. What I did not feel was sympathy. In fact, I found myself mentally yelling at people who were more concerned with telling themselves stories that felt good than looking at facts.

This book was recommended to me as a way to better understand Trump voters. I grew up in a rural part of Oregon, and lived around people with this kind of mindset for the majority of my life until I moved to a different state. I refer to that moving-away as an escape with good reason. So, yes. I have new insight … but I’m mad as hell at people who are willing to ignore the fact that they can’t swim in their lakes or fish in their bayous because of pollution, but will vote for a man who is going to make matters worse because he makes them feel good about their bigotry.

View all my reviews

I’m Going To Try Something New!


I just learned, via fellow author Lillian Csernica, about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  The idea is to post something every single day (except Sundays) in April, based on the alphabet — and yes, they provide a calendar to help you out.  Some writers do a theme for the entire month, and the reveal day was yesterday — so I’m already a little bit behind the 8-ball.  My plan is to stick with my current features as much as possible, which means that I’ll pick facts from my fiction that suit the appropriate letter wherever possible.  This is going to be fun!

Completions and communions

This blogger spent an entire year reading the complete works of Shakespeare (something I’ve never tackled, although I should), and learned some fascinating things about himself. Nicely done indeed.

Shakespeare Confidential

Not long after I finished the complete works, I popped into a bookstore. I knew exactly where to find him. He has his own section. He always has his own section.

I strutted straight over. Shakespeare.

Top to bottom, shelf by shelf, I eyed all the Macbeth’s and Much Ado About Nothing’s, all the Romeo and Juliet’s and Richard III’s. I puffed out my chest. I cocked back my chin.

Think your so tough? I said to myself. I read you. I pointed to Hamlet. I read you. I pointed to The Tempest. I read you and you and you. I even read you, singling out a copy of Cymbeline I was surprised, and impressed, to see stocked. Whatcha got on me?    

Wait. I stepped off.

What do you got on me, Shakespeare?

What did I…

View original post 2,329 more words

Facts from My Fiction: Story Board, “His Beloved Infidel”

layoutHi, everyone.  Yesterday, I shared a little sample of His Beloved Infidel.  This novella ranks among my favorite pieces of work for a variety of reasons.  I got to write about a city I love, share real-world events as seen through the eyes of ordinary people, and learn a great deal about the Persian culture.  I had the opportunity to ask questions of people, as well as studying on my own.

I also gathered a great many images to inspire me.  I use Pinterest for my story boards; it’s easy and convenient.  If I found an inspiring image, I could put it up.  I could also put up photos of places I planned to use in the text so that I could find them for easy reference.  Whether it was architecture, wedding traditions, or poetry, I could take a look and get on track.

You can see the story board for His Beloved Infidel at this link.

Do you use story boarding when you write?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.