Sunday, March 23, 2014

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

I had a very enjoyable time yesterday at Joe Scarborough's 20-Year Reunion for his campaign volunteers. Although after the campaign, several of us maintained contact the years he was in Congress -- especially we who worked in his district office -- there were folks there I had not seen since his first campaign, when he was a 30-year-old unknown with no political experience taking on Earl Hutto, a 16-year incumbent.

Had to look at name tags to recognize a few people...heck, ain't none of  us getting any younger. Had some laughs. Chatted with Joe's mom, shared memories of her husband, George, who passed away several years ago. There were others no longer with us that brought home the passage of time. 

I got a big hug, three pecks on the cheeks and some nice words of welcome and remembrance from the former member of Congress and talk-TV host. I gave him an autographed copy of Southern Man. Noted the slight graying  at Joe's temples. Very distinguished looking, though in many ways, he still looks so much like that thirty-year-old who was inspired -- goaded? -- to run for Congress by the election of Bill Clinton, and the leftward lurch of the country afterward.

I left the Congressional office in 1998; worked for Joe at The Florida Sun for a while after that, and helped prepare the Congressional office for the incoming member, Jeff Miller, after Joe resigned. But basically, my interest in national politics ended with the Clinton impeachment hearings. If memory serves, I didn't vote in any presidential elections after that, until my vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, which wasn't so much a vote for the Republican candidate as it was a vote against the Democrat incumbent. My main reason for voting for Romney was my belief that he would be immensely better for the economy than Barack Obama.

Me and Joe, Back in the Day
Joe reminisced about the accomplishments of the 104th Gingrich-led Republicans in DC, and how the GOP has changed since then, giving rise to the Tea Party. But he says the country is strong and it will survive eight years of Barack Obama. I'm not so sure.  It would be interesting to know  his perspective, and why he thinks that. From where I sit, the USA is not only weak and growing weaker all the time -- its culture, politics, religion and nearly every other aspect of its existence are practically unrecognizable.

Still, it was nice to see folks, and remember when we were younger, had boundless energy and  genuine hope for the country.

And  now, back to defending Dixie and writing books.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Early Smallfoot Crits Very Encouraging

First critiques for Love in Smallfoot Alley are in, and I'm greatly encouraged. This little story, remember, started as part lark, part experiment, and I really wasn't dedicated to it.   I abandoned it and kept going back to it, and the story and characters started growing on me. I'm quite invested in them now, emotionally and time-wise, so I'm delighted at the positive cast of the early critiques.

I've received four on the opener, and here are some of the very encouraging comments and suggestions:
~~ CRIT ONE ~~

Dialog: You're really strong here.

Language: Again, this is something you're doing really well. Your language is interesting. There's a bit of a southern drawl to them. But the 3rd person POV uses some $50 thousand dollar words (SAT words if you have a kid in high school) like rivulets and to a lesser extent perfunctory. To me they kind of jumped out as not fitting in the scene. But I haven't read the other chapters so it's hard to say if they are out of place in a bigger context.

Impression of story: It's scary. The dialogue flows perfectly and I can picture the scene. Overall, I loved it!!

~~ CRIT TWO ~~

I'm a bit lazy when it comes to critting and generally don't bother if something looks like it'd be too much work. The unique opening drew me in and I like that you begin immediately with the MC and a setting and what she's doing.   
I wasn't assuming she was easily frightened at all. The pacing and tension was excellent and you'd make a really good horror writer.That said, I'm not seeing Romance here just yet, but it's definitely something I'd read on for now.  
Just watch for longer sentences and try to break some of them up a bit more, and be sure not to overdo it with the commas. I pointed out the most noticeable ones...
Overall, well done. 
~~ CRIT THREE ~~

... thanks for the opportunity to read your chapter! Overall I like it a lot, I think it's an intriguing start with interesting characters and setup, and I'm curious to know what happens next. I made a few comments/suggested edits in the text, these are just my personal opinion so feel free to ignore if you don't agree! 

I don't personally think the chapter is too long at all, it seems about right to me. You could possibly have a 'cliffhanger' chapter break with 'her scream filled the night', but really I think it's fine as it is.

~~ CRIT FOUR ~~

I enjoyed this scene. I don’t think the chapter is too long at all. Hopefully my comments make sense and are helpful. I think you have a great start to your story. By adding a bit more interiority, and a few level changes in emotions, I think you can tighten this scene up to give it a bit more punch.

Most crits are done by authors. Once I've made changes to the manuscript based on the critiques, I'll submit the whole thing to beta readers. They usually aren't writers, they're readers, and their evaluations come from a whole different standpoint.


But regardless of whether they're critiques or beta reads, you can see why hostile and abusive "evaluations" of my writing by fault-finders and back-biters like Simpson and BParks -- who base their criticism not on my writing but on their personal animosity for me -- flows off me like water off a duck's back.


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Duck image: Free Clip Art

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Back Home from North Louisiana


 Visited with the in-laws. Met the newest addition to the family. Ate an utterly delicious home-cooked Christmas dinner. Great fun! And on the way home, stopped at the Duck Commander store and had my picture made in front of the famous sign. Got a Phil T-Shirt. 

It was a quick trip -- up on Tuesday, Christmas dinner on Wednesday, back home today. Taking it easy for another day or two before jumping back into everything.

____________________
Photo: T. Ward

Monday, December 23, 2013

...and a Happy New Year, too


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Public Domain Image by Petr Kratochvil

Phil's Right. The NAACP Is Wrong

Josh Barro: Robertson thinks black Americans were treated just fine in the Jim Crow-era South, and that they were happy there.

The NAACP: "As you may know, Phil attacked both African Americans and LGBT people in a recent GQ interview (January 2014) – saying that African Americans were happier under Jim Crow laws, and equating being gay with bestiality and promiscuity."

First, Phil didn't attack anybody. Second, I've already dealt with Barro's first lie, that Phil equated homosexuality with bestiality Here. http://one80dts.blogspot.com/2013/12/what-josh-barro-gets-wrong-about-phil.html

Now let's expose the NAACP's lie, and see whether or not Phil's memories are accurate.

Phil said,
"I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues."
I don't have any problem believing he never personally saw mistreatment of a black person. As a kid in the same era, I didn't, either. I heard about it, read about it ... never saw it with my own eyes.

Judging by his reference to welfare and entitlement, he is not talking about the effects of Jim Crow laws or the changes made by the civil rights movement. His use of the terms "pre-entitlement, pre-welfare" indicate he was talking the poverty programs of the 1960s -- i.e., the Great Society and the War on Poverty. And what were the effects of those programs?

(Note; these programs had the same effect on all poor families, but the subject of the question, the subject of the answer and the subject of the "outrage" is blacks, so that's what I'm discussing here).

Did the poverty programs end poverty for blacks? No. According to BlackDemographics.com, The poverty rate for all African Americans in 2012 was 28.1% which is an increase from 25.5% in 2005. Not a good track record for anti-poverty legislation that's been clipping along for fifty years or so.

But the poverty programs did far more damage to the black family than simply failing to end poverty. The absolute worse effect, with horrific consequences, was the removal of the husband and father from the black home -- which resulted, basically, in the dissolution of the black family.

Studies show that the safest place for women and children is in a home where there are two parents married to each other. Conversely, the single most accurate predictor that a child will live in poverty is being born into a single parent household.

In 1963, the black out-of-wedlock birthrate was 23%. Today it is 72% and growing. Again, according to BlackDemographics.com, black families with children under 18 headed by a single mother have the highest rate of poverty at 47.5 compared to only 8.4% percent of married-couple.

Do you suppose they're happy in their government-created, father-absent existence?

The marriage penalty built into welfare programs has basically destroyed the black family by removing husbands and fathers from the black home. The effects are far, far worse than mere poverty. Fatherlessness is the cause of some of the worst social pathologies in our society.

Children from fatherless homes are:

   15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
   4.6 times more likely to commit suicide
   6.6 times more likely to become teenaged mothers
   24.3 times more likely to run away
   15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
   6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions
   10.8 times more likely to commit rape
   6.6 times more likely to drop out of school
   15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenage
   73% of adolescent murderers come from mother only homes
   6.3 times more likely to be in state operated institutions

CHILDREN NEED BOTH PARENTS

ItÂ’s a Fact!  HereÂ’s why:
     · 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census).
     · 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
     · 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. (Source: CDC)
     · 80% of rapist motivated by displaced anger come from fatherless homes. (Source: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14, pp. 403-26).
     · 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. (Source: National Principals Assoc. Report on the State of High Schools).
    · 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. (Source: Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. Of Corrections, 1992).

These statistics translate to mean that children from fatherless homes are:

     · 5 times more likely to commit suicide
     · 32 times more likely to run away
     · 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
     · 14 times more likely to commit rape
     · 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
     · 20 times more likely to end up in prison

http://fathersunite.org/statistics_on_fatherlessnes.html

So, blacks weren't better off before the "poverty" programs that didn't erase poverty but did erased the black father and destroyed the black family?  They're happier living with these horrific social pathologies than they were living in intact families working the fields? Black mothers in that situation weren't happier than black welfare mothers today who lose their children to behavioral disorders, crime, joblessness, hopelessness, suicide, murder and prison? Would YOU be happier with that?

Phil is right.

And the NAACP not only lies. They are enabling the destruction and misery of blacks by supporting toxic policies and effects that accompany welfare programs.

What Josh Barro Gets Wrong About Phil Robertson

(I have noted on my other blog that I'm not entirely comfortable with some types of religious discussion online, particularly doctrine and the meaning of scripture, because I think it is a not good venue or format for such discussions. But sometimes I have to disregard my discomfort and make some written observations of a religious nature.)

What Barro gets wrong the same thing nearly all critics of Robertson who are ignorant of Scripture get wrong.

Barro says, http://www.businessinsider.com/when-you-defend-phil-robertson-heres-what-youre-really-defending-2013-12
Robertson hates gay people. Robertson in 2010: "Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.

This last one is key. My inbox is full of "love the sinner, hate the sin" defenses of Robertson's 2013 remarks. But Robertson doesn't love gay people. He thinks they're, well, "full of murder."  His views on gays are hateful, inasmuch as they are full of hate.
You have to look at who "They" is referring to in the scripture, and Barro obviously isn't doing that.

You have to go back to the opening verses of the passage. The people Paul is writing about (in Barro's comment) are clearly identified in verse 18 of Romans, Chapter 1 -- men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. What truth are they suppressing? The truth about God -- his eternal power and divine nature. And due to suppressing this truth, they become so foolish as to substitute man himself or animals for God.

Now, does it have to be explained that man and animals do not have eternal power or a divine nature? Does it have to be explained that they are not fit subjects for human worship, and worshiping them will have all kinds of detrimental effects? A look at those affects is what follows in that scripture.

So who are the people described? People who think it is not worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God.  Homosexuals are not the ones instigating the evil listed, and Robertson didn't say they were. They are not the cause -- they are part of the result. The cause is refusing to retain the knowledge of God.

Now, you may disagree with this passage of scripture, Barro -- but DON'T DELIBERATELY MISSTATE WHAT IT SAYS.

Only verses 26 and 27 (highlighted in red, below)  refer specifically to homosexual behavior. The verses before and after them identify clearly who is being discussed: men who suppress the truth (about God)  by their wickedness and who think it is not worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God. In other words, what the scripture is saying is, Remove the knowledge of God from your culture, and expect the following...

Our culture is FULL of such people, both those who suppress knowledge of God, and those who exhibit the behavior of life without God's influence -- in politics, in education, in business and industry, in entertainment. Our whole secular culture constantly pushes the notion that it is not worthwhile for society or individuals to retain the knowledge of God, as Barro has just demonstrated. And the result is what you see rampant in our culture: murder, envy, strife, hatred, and all the rest....

Phil knows this. Most Christians know it. Barro apparently does not.

___________________________

Romans 1: 18-32

Verses 18-20
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Verses 21-25
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.

Verses 26-27
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Verses 28-31
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Verse 32
Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Slight Cover Redesign

Got a lot of help from folks on writers' forums. I think it's a real improvement! In the original design, the stalker dude wasn't even visible at Amazon thumbnail size. Now, everything except the tagline is visible on the thumbnail, and even the tagline is readable at Amazon detail size.



I gave the pyscho stalker dude his meat cleaver back, on the advice of some critiquers at the author forums. Liberty Lamprey may think it looks like a Yoshi blade, but other folks figured out it's a cleaver held at an angle to the camera. (Then, too, LibertyLamprey may have just been in petty ridicule mode...)

Found these definitions of suspense and thriller, at least, insofar as novel genres go. Gone South is suspense, since the reader knows about the danger in advance, but the characters do not.
Suspense - when the reader knows something the character doesn’t, and the tension builds from wondering how or if the character will survive. Will he or won’t he fall into the trap, get shot by the sniper, or be eaten by the monster we know is waiting in the closet. Our hearts beat faster as the tension builds.

Thriller - the reader doesn’t see the threat coming. It’s slam-bang action, and the reader rides along with the protagonist, experiencing things as they happen to him, and is just as surprised when the monster jumps out from the closet.
More great info at the same website: http://hunterswritings.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/elements-of-the-psychological-thriller-mystery-suspense-andor-crime-fiction-genres/ 

It's fascinating to learn about the requirements of different genres.