Archive for November 2015

Black Friday Avoidance   Leave a comment

I am kicked back at home actively avoiding Black Friday. Trust me, I’m a whole lot saner than anyone in any store. Most of my Christmas shopping is already done.

I know this may not help anyone today — but those “great deals” they use to lure you into the insanity today are actually increases over the price for the same items in September. Watch for it next year. What the trend for the item you want to buy slowly go up from Labor Day until Thanksgiving and then they drop it to the earlier price, or just above it. It’s not a sale. It’s a manipulation.

If we weren’t out of coffee, I wouldn’t have to go to any store today.

It’s a great day to start work on Book 2 of the Transformation Project — Objects in View. So far, I’ve written 100 words today.

I’m taking a short break from Mirklin Wood before the next phase of rewriting.

Posted November 27, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in culture

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Celebrate the Magical World of Books   Leave a comment

The Booktrap is holding an event December 3- 4 and I am participating.

If you want to participate in my Rafflecopter giveaways follow the link below.

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I’m giving away e-book copies of both my books, a signed copy of each paperback* and updating my mailing list for the launch of Mirklin Wood.

Gratitude Flourishes Amid Grace   2 comments

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. The government gives us a day off. For many Americans, it is simply a day of watching football and overeating. That was pretty much how Brad and I were raised in the non-Christian homes (his,  cafeteria Catholic and mine, unchurched) that shaped our childhoods.

Our coming to see Thanksgiving as a Christian celebration has progressed over the three decades we’ve been together. It all started with being invited to a Thanksgiving gathering by my brother’s inlaws. His mother-in-law tried to interject some meaning into the holiday by asking what people were grateful for. Cleo’s best efforts were quickly drowned out by the football game, but Brad and I remembered it when we started celebrating Thanksgiving in our own home.

If you want to join this Thankful Thursday blog hop, click the link below.

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Christmas is such an insane season and it is really not a terribly grateful one. Has anyone seen the commercial where they have renamed Thanksgiving to Thanks-Getting? We just shook our heads while watching that.

By taking a pause right before the start of the silly season, I don’t buy into the BS. I think about all the things in my life that matter and realize that almost none of them come from Santa. Yeah, I appreciate the gifts I get, but I’d really rather spend time with my family and play fetch with the dog in the snow.

I could designate another day of the year for doing that. In fact, I try to do it periodically throughout the year on a more or less quarterly basis that roughly coincides with my church’s celebration of the Lord’s Supper, but Thanksgiving is usually when I suck the rest of my family into the practice.

There are so many blessings in our lives that walk around dressed up like ordinary life. I’ve been highlighting some of mine lately, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on MY blessings today. Suffice it to say that, to me, much of ordinary life is a miracle. In fact, that I can even call it ordinary is a miracle.

I’m just going to ask you to take a pause and list some of your own ordinary miracles. If you’ve got a Christmas stocking, roll it up in a scroll and slide it in there and see what you think of the message you wrote to yourself in saner times.

Trust me! Christmas will be a whole lot better because you have identified what is precious and praise-worthy on Thanksgiving.

Stay Tuned for Thankful Thursday   Leave a comment

www.oyegraphics.comThe blog hop of gratitude continues. What better day to be thankful than Thanksgiving?

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And watch for my post later today.

Posted November 26, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Thankful Thursday

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Who is a ‘real’ Black?   Leave a comment

I was at a writers’ guild meeting last week and this woman I had just met decided to unload on me about racism in America. She had a half dozen stories about how this person or that person (all of whom I had never met) had treated her with disrespect because she was black. She didn’t seem to be saying that I was a racist, but I walked away definitely thinking she is one. So when I encounter people who cannot see their own racism, I often go looking to see what reasonable people of color say on the subject.  Star Parker is one of my favorites.

Source: Who is a ‘real’ Black?

I am currently not planning to vote for a candidate of either major political party in the 2016 Presidential election. 2014 marked the first election where I did not vote for a single candidate who was a member of a major party. I’ve just become so disgusted by all the shell game nonsense. Candidates who proclaim themselves to be small-government conservatives who then switch to sounding an awful lot like progressive Republicans have caused me to seriously question voting at all (and I’m a super voter!). So I’m planning to vote 3rd party in 2016. No, the candidate won’t win, but that is not the point. I don’t trust either major political party to represent me and I’m hoping the many other voters out there who agree with me join me in giving a 3rd party (any 3rd party) candidate a sizable minority vote so that we can send a message that we’re tired of politics as they stand right now in the United States.

However, I do like Ben Carson, if for no other reason than that his story is compelling and he seems not to be as much of a statist as some in the race. I could be persuaded to vote for him in the primaries (Alaska lets non-partisans vote the Republican ticket in the primaries). If he won the nomination, I would have to decide whether to trust the GOP nominee or not.

I don’t think Carson will be the nominee. In fact, I am still almost certain that it will be Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, not because of any polls, but because the RNC has already chosen their nominee. We can vote however we want to and it’s still going to turn out the way the party leadership wants it to, which is going to guarantee that Hillary Clinton is the next President of the United States, even though she is a terrible choice.

But in the meantime, until the convention, actual conservatives can hope they’ll get a voice in the Party and, maybe this time, the disappointment will drive us to form or join an actual conservative 3rd party to give us an actual voice in American politics. There is no reason other than tradition that we have only two political parties in American politics and we are not well served by adherence to that tradition.

Posted November 24, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

There’ll be an interview and maybe an update on Mirklin Wood.

And, hey! Watch for a Booktrap event on December 3 and 4. Come celebrate the Magical World of Books.

PG in an Erotica World   10 comments

This week’s blog hop discussion asks me “How do I feel about all the sex and sexual innuendo in the world? And how do I deal with it?”

Before we get started, Stevie Turner is discussing this subject over on her blog too. While you’re there, check out her books. Hit the link below if you want to check out others in the hop … or join us if you are a writer with something to say on the subject.

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I’m an evangelical Christian who thinks monogamy is a God-mandate for Christians. Christian spouses are directed to not only keep themselves physically clean of adultery, but also mentally clean. Porn for men and erotica for women serve the same purpose — a type of mental adultery that Christians should not participate in. I further believe that single Christians should remain chaste or find a willing spouse. Better to marry than to burn, as Paul said.

So, yes, the United States is a challenging culture to the practice of those beliefs. Sex is everywhere — movies, music, television, books, magazines, advertisements … literally everywhere. It is impossible to avoid, so practice of my beliefs requires something different.

Believe it or not, I have a very pragmatic view of sex, and especially the tenderloin trade, because I grew up in Fairbanks Alaska, where many of the ladies of society had been Fourth Avenue Line girls. Hey, don’t knock it! They made more money than the miners they married and that made them business people in their own rights. Alaskans are extremely pragmatic people that way. One of my mom’s best friends was a former “line” girl and retired madam. My parents owned a cafe between a bar and a strip club. During the Pipeline boom in the 1970s, there were prostitutes walking up and down 2nd Avenue (our cafe was on the same block on 1st) and I regularly turned down $300 an hour on my way home from junior high school.

I like sex and prostitutes and strippers can be entertaining to talk to. I’m no prude, but I think the sexual relationship between a Christian husband and wife is a metaphor for Jesus’ relationship with the churches and I have an obligation to interact with my culture in a way that is blameless by Biblical definition.

I don’t read erotica. No, I’m not a prude. If you want to read erotica, go for it. I don’t read erotica because I feel the images it conjures in my brain constitutes cheating on my husband. If you don’t attend my church, I don’t care what you do. I care what I do.

On the other hand, I read Song of Ice and Fire novels. Yeah, there’s some salacious sex in there, but I know when it’s coming (Martin is kind of obvious) and I just skip it. I don’t dwell on it and therefore, I don’t carry it with me into my life.

Brad and I like to watch television in our time together, but we have to be selective these days. We pretty much ignore the occasional innuendo and even the inevitable sex scene, but there are television shows we don’t watch because they seem focused on sex. Sense8 lost us on the third scene of the pilot. It looks like a great sci-fi series, but we’re not going to wade through salacious sex scenes to the good parts. I’ll never find out if the lesbian dildo scene was just an outlier because I’ll never watch the series again. We both felt assaulted by this unnecessarily lewd scene in a show that didn’t seem to be about that.

Brad used to really love Orange is the New Black, but the latest season to go up on Netflix lost him because of the sex. He was okay with the occasional innuendo and women kissing (we used to work in prison ministries, we know what goes on), but apparently this last season goes where he is not willing to follow, so he’s stopped watching it.

On the other hand, a show that has a fairly tame sex scene halfway through the first season doesn’t lose our fandom just because of a montage of people rolling around in the sheets. Yeah, we know they’re supposed to be having sex. It’s not sex we have an issue with. It’s in-your-face sexual content that we want to avoid and if that is what a show is dishing, then we don’t need to watch it.

Right now, the world we live in is sex-obsessed. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that this is normal and healthy and every show and half the books must have sex featured prominently, preferably the kinkier the better. I have it on good authority from the God of the Universe that this cultural obsession is psychologically unhealthy and destructive of marriage. He speaks to me through the apostle Paul, writing to the church in Corinth, that city being a highly sexualized city not terribly unlike the society we live in today. Taking the apostle Paul’s advice, I’m not fighting secular society on the subject because I don’t think it would do any good and I have better things to do with my time than waste it.

I do think Christians need to wake up and smell God’s coffee brewing on this subject. This is what we were told in the New Testament. We damage His message when we don’t stand out from the world on some subjects and since Jesus used the marriage relationship as a metaphor for His relationship with Christians, that’s a good place where Christians ought to stand out. Just hit pause on Netflix, open your Bible and see what God has to say about it. I am only talking to Christians here. The rest of the world is not my concern.

People can say I’m sexually repressed if they want. They’re wrong. I’m not going to invite them into our bedroom to prove otherwise. People have been wrong about Christians a lot over the centuries. That’s okay. I’d rather be right with my Savior than right with my culture. And ultimately, I’ve been married to the same man for 30 years next month and a lot of the folks who would criticize my view can’t stay married for weeks, let alone decades, so I think my views rather vindicate themselves.

Stay Tuned for Open Book Blog Hop   Leave a comment

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Posted November 23, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Empire Editorial: Salmon horror story | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper   3 comments

LELA – I have never really stated an opinion on GMOs because I’m generally not opposed to them. Pretty much all food is genetically modified because we humans have been doing hybridization for about 6000 years. Broccoli, kale, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, radish, cress, rapeseed, mustard and several other vegetables all come from the same species of plant found in the Mediterrean region thousands of years ago. The variety comes from hybridization, otherwise known as genetic modification.

Beef used to be much chewier and drier, pork much fatter and yummier, and chickens and turkeys had much smaller breasts. These improvements were brought about by genetic modification through selective breeding. Even organic farmers are actually selling GMOs.

So, I’m not opposed to GMOs generally. I do have big concerns about GMO corn because it contains a DNA-linked pesticide that is killing bees right along with corn worms and, since corn is in almost everything we eat and drink, I worry that ingesting so much pesticide is probably causing some sort of health effect that isn’t a good thing.

The Atlantic salmon bears no taste comparison to Pacific salmon. Sorry if you’re a fan but it is mushy and flavorless — and, yes, I’ve eaten it fresh caught. Alaskans would compare Atlantic salmon to pink (coho) and we refer to that species as “dog salmon” because it’s fit only for the dogs. But here’s the problem. As the article below explains, labeling is not going to be allowed, so people are not going to know what they’re buying. So when they eat mushy, flavorless salmon they will blame all salmon instead of the culprit and that’s not good for Alaska’s market in salmon.

And then there is the problem of cross-breeding. The Canadian government did some stupid accidental experiments in less intelligent times that pretty much prove that Atlantic salmon can survive to adulthood in the Pacific ocean, but don’t appear to be able to produce a second generation. Except … what if these “frankenfish” are able to overcome that difficulty. If they get out into the wild, they can breed. I’m not a biologist, so I don’t know if they can cross fertilize Pacific salmon eggs, but if they can ….

We have a wonderful resource in North Pacific salmon stocks and Alaska has worked hard to return that population to health after the federal government allowed the fish cartels to almost destroy the resource, but this experiment is risking that.

Now, if they wanted to do this farming in the Atlantic ocean … but see, that’s not the plan.


You sit back in your cinema seat and grab your popcorn. The lights go down and the show begins. A giant wooden door appears on the screen and slowly creaks open to reveal a figure of horror – the scaly, wide-eyed face of a salmon.

Source: Empire Editorial: Salmon horror story | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper

Thankful Thursday   Leave a comment

This week’s Thankful Thursday is about loss and the attitude that turns mourning into joy.

Gratitude is really about an attitude that sees the world in ways that have nothing to do with circumstances or emotions.

In March, I launched Life As We Knew It. As I was conducting the launch party on Facebook, I thought I’d get some things done toward my next book Mirklin Wood, which is Book 2 of the Daermad Cycle. The Daermad Cycle was once a massive epic fantasy that I broke into smaller constituent pieces so that I could bring out some of the other stories connected to Padraig and Tamys. So, the book is about half-written and I was about 30,000 words into the additional material. I planned to perform a backup of what I had so far.

In the middle of the transfer, the lights flickered and my laptop shut down. When I pulled everything back up again, the memory stick was fried and my working copy on the laptop was corrupted. I had to go back to the original manuscript (saved on a disk) to start all over again.

I had also lost my map of Daermad and all my cover images.

I wanted to cry, beat my fists against a concrete wall and go yell at a Golden Valley Electric Assocation official.

I didn’t though, because none of those things would have done any good. I still would have been 30,000 words in the hole.

So, I ….

Thanked God for the opportunity to rewrite the book and got started writing all over again.

Gratitude didn’t happen the second I realized all my work was gone. It started when I thanked God that my laptop wasn’t damaged by the surge. It continued when I inserted the disk and found that my original manuscript was just fine. And, then I remembered to be thankful in everything because God can work all things to good in the lives of those who trust Him.

Mirklin Wood isn’t finished yet (it’s in rewrite), but It’s a better book. It’s now 40,00 words beyond that lost manuscript and includes story lines I never would have considered if I’d not lost those words. Characters emerged that never had a place in the lost book. I found some greater depths of human pathos while I was working to recreate what I had lost.

I’m honestly happy that God intervened to send me in a somewhat different direction from whereFront Cover Red I was headed before. Yeah, it was more work, but it was better work.

But I wouldn’t have gotten there without the attitude adjustment. If I’d wept and wailed and gone at the book with anger in my heart, I suspect I’d still be right about where I was that evening in March.

Gratitude has nothing to do with emotions or the circumstances we’re sitting in right now. It’s all about an attitude that recognizes that God knows what He is doing in our lives and that anything, no matter how upsetting or heavy, can work out into a good thing if we just trust Him.

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