Archive for August 2021

Thinking Outloud   9 comments

August 30, 2021

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” – Flannery O’Connor.

Authors have many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”f57384aa086c4eb68d758039fbe426fc” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/f57384aa086c4eb68d758039fbe426fc” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”f57384aa086c4eb68d758039fbe426fc”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/f57384aa086c4eb68d758039fbe426fc

Many Reasons

Tarhe (1742-1818) - Find A Grave Memorial

I love that Flannery Connor quote which I first ran across in a high school creative writing class. I started writing when I was about 12, after a school assignment ignited something in me that I couldn’t explain. In that high school creative writing class, we were encouraged to keep a writing diary. I’d already been writing for my own amazement for a few years, so when my fellow students averred that it was hard to write something everyday, I felt perplexed. Although I didn’t necessarily write every day, I almost always wrote every day. Mad at my mom? Write something about it. Stunned when hundreds of people poison themselves in the South American jungle. Write something about it. Someone was mean to you for reasons you didn’t understand. Imagine them explaining themselves and write about it. I didn’t need a teacher to tell me to write every day. Some inner muse wrote nearly every day. The teacher merely validated that I was unusual among my peers, but I wasn’t nuts. Everybody has inner dialogues. Some of us write them down.

Over time, I found it was easier to fictionalize those inner dialogues. My characters increasingly began to say things I couldn’t say as me. Although my mom permitted reasoned arguments to her bossiness, I would never have screamed “I hate you!”, for example, but my characters could do that. Sometimes they’d say things I thought I wouldn’t ever think. I didn’t really think of it as talking to myself until I was in a college psychology class and the professor made an offhand comment about some popular novel which in his psychological opinion was the writer talking to himself (and, no, I don’t remember the author or the book). Hmm, now there was a thought.

When my characters said or did things I didn’t agree with was that me talking to myself? Maybe, sometimes. If so, I sounded like a schizophrenic arguing with his imaginary friend in the canned goods aisle (This actually happened in a grocery aisle on Saturday. The man was clearly holding two opposite opinions at the same time.) Well, there was evidence that I was insane. I had characters who clearly didn’t agree with one another and yet they were all me talking to myself. Did I need a therapist?

Healthy Internal Self Talk

I wrote for my own amazement for decades — occasionally submitting short stories to anthologies or writing as a newspaper reporter. As a newspaper reporter, my hallmark was balanced news. I’d try to find the other side of most stories. I got a lot of compliments from subscribers for my seeking out both (or more) sides of a story. My first editors encouraged that balance, but then I got a new editor who was empowered by a new publisher to slant the news. I couldn’t accept the balance being edited out of my articles, so I stopped being a newspaper reporter. These days, I still write non-fiction as blog posts — sometime as opinion, sometimes as fact-based reporting.

When I worked for community behavioral health, one of our psychiatrists picked up my writing notebook when he was visiting my office. It was a mistake. I jot ideas down as they come to me and they come to me during some of the most mundane ideas — like when transcribing a doctor’s notes about a client. He thought he was grabbing his own notebook. He was back in his own office when he flipped it open and realized his mistake, but instead of returning it to me immediately, he read it. He brought it back to me the next day and a) complimented me on not breaking confidentiality, and b) assured me I was perfectly sane.

“Everybody talks to themselves to work out what they think. Most people do it in their heads. Some people mutter to themselves out loud. Writers do it on paper.” Dr. Weineger

Reading What I Think

I’m a discovery writer. I never really know what I’m going to write when I start a story. It takes shape as I write and then read what I’ve written. At some point, the path forward becomes clear and I choose a goal for what I’m writing. Sometimes what I’ve written surprises me. For example, when I wrote a alternative historical fiction short story for an anthology a few years ago, I knew I wanted to do something with my mother’s tribe. Short stories are tough. You can’t ramble. But I did my research on the era — 1780s, Marietta, Ohio. I knew how history turned out, but I wanted to show that it might have been different.

Short stories are hard because you have a limited amount of space to create a world, introduce characters and make a statement. The prompt was for an alternative history fiction that focused on liberty principles.

I’d recently read a history of my mom’s tribe, the Wyandot. I’d learned some cool things. Tarhe, a legendary sachem (war leader) was a fascinating study — a warrior who sought peace with the white settler on several occasions only to see treaties violated and to lead battle after battle against the whites until the US army eventually forced a multi-tribe treaty and saw the Wyandot and Shawnee giving up half the Northwest Territories in order to achieve peace. Later, in the 1830s, the Wyandot sold their land around Sandusky Ohio and moved to Kansas, negotiating American citizenship for that decision. It changed the course of the tribe and its relationship to the American government was quite different from that of other tribes. I also learned that the women really ruled the tribe. They owned the land and did the farming. The men hunted and occasionally fought wars, but it was the women who decided the land division and declared war. The men then took over and committed all the atrocities on behalf of the tribe. I remember finishing the reading and thinking “Well, wow, why weren’t the woman ever involved in all these peace treaties?”

So when I started writing the alternative historical fiction, I wanted to focus on my tribe, but I also wanted to focus on something the readers would recognize. My tribe had been in contact with white men since the 1600s and already supported a large metis (half-breed) population by the 1780s, when white settlers pushed into the Northwest Territories while the US Constitution was being debated in Philadelphia. The next year, the Shawnee convinced the Wyandot (my people) into supporting them in a war against the settlers. I knew the Indians attacked settlements there and the whites fought back. Growing up, I heard both sides of the argument. The tribes were just defending themselves and their lands. The whites saw unused land and turned it to productive use and the tribes attacked them for no reason. I was raised by my Native American mother and my white father to believe there was truth somewhere in the middle of those narratives. The thing about alternative historical fiction is that you need to decide what the pivotal point is — something in history changed and that made all the difference. For me, it was George Washington’s letter to Alexander Hamilton discussing how he looked forward to the proposed stronger government to secure his land holdings in the Northwest Territories. Washington, suffering from arthritis, didn’t really want to be president, but he agreed with Hamilton that it would be worth it if he could enforce his claims to those lands, which were also a primary reason he supported the Revolutionary War. I don’t know if I’d ever read that letter before I started my reseach, but it opened my eyes to Washington’s corruption. “What if,” I thought, “this letter fell into the public domain during the ratification process?”

I started writing on that premise and the story “Pivot of Fate” (Agorist Writers Workshop Clarion Call 2 Echoes of Liberty) took shape based on that changed item. Rhode Island, which started with buying Indian lands, would have voted against ratification if Washington’s greed became known. It was a near thing there. Other states were also close votes on ratification. What if it didn’t happen? The United States would have remained under the Articles of Confederation. There’d be no standing army. The tribes outnumbered white settlers. Without a powerful US military (which would be authorized 1791 following ratification of the Constitution), the settlers would have needed to negotiate with the tribes if they hoped to survive at all. But there was a pivot of fate here. If the settlers didn’t have that power would the tribes have agreed to allow them to remain under certain rules? Tarhe was a legendary war chief of my tribe who was known for seeking peace on several occasions. Reading Tarhe’s speech in 1804 during a peace treaty negotiation (required because the tribal population, already diminished a century before by encounter with white man’s flu virus, had further plummeted in the wars of the last decade). I recognized Tarhe had sought peace back in the 1780s, but when the negotiations failed, he joined the warriors and for a while the tribes had been the victor. The difference came when the US army came onto the field and then the tribes started losing. I could change that in an alternative history. While Washington’s letter was a plot device, as I wrote, I informed myself how deeply I disagreed with the corruption that led to the ratification of the US Constitution and how much violence it permitted against people who, yes, fought back, but didn’t have the means to equal a coordinated Euro-American assault.

I don’t view the tribes as innocent victims of white oppressors. Read the transcript of Tahre’s speech and you encounter an intelligent man and brilliant military strategist who was just as blood-soaked as General Arthur St. Clair, the first US governor of the Northwest Territories. He’d been fighting against other tribes since he was a teenager, but by the 1780s, he saw the fighting as being counterproductive. While a lot of the sachems would negotiate a peace treaty for the trade goods the US Army would bribe them with, Tahre actually tried to keep the treaties until it became clear the settlers would continue to the use the Army against his people. (We know this because Tahre’s son-in-law was a white man, a child captive raised by the tribe, who acted as his translator and chronicler). If the US Constitution was never ratified, George Washington wouldn’t become president and St. Clair would never go to the Northwest Territories (I had him arrested for corruption as he was headed to the Territories). I postulated a mutually beneficial peace treaty forged by a relatively weak white settler population with a relatively strong tribal population. I involved the women so the treaty negotiations would actually have validity. All it needed was someone to host the negotiations, which is where the character of Lai came in — the anabaptist-trained son of a Wyandot princess and a French voyageur who believes in free trade and non-violent coexistence and can act as translator during the negotiations. He’s vaguely based on two ancestors with some tweaking of the timeline. And, in the end, the settlers and the Indians remain themselves. Neither loses to the other and there’s hope for the future.

I wrote a lot of stream of consciousness as I tried to figure out the story and I ended up with about five paragraphs out of a hundred that told me what I thought. It was way too long for a short story, so I rewrote it and it was in that first draft that Lai came into being and started telling me his (my) hopes and dreams for my long-dead people — hopes and dreams I didn’t even know I had. And, yes, of course, it’s too late to go back and take the road less traveled, but I hadn’t even realized that I wished I could step back into history and change that one thing – how the tribes and the settlers at Marietta encountered one another. And in doing so I realized that the US Constitution made the slaughter of the tribes possible. Without that, the settlers would have had to negotiate. Hinted in the story is that some of the sachems would not have played fair with the settlers, but I think Tarhe would have. Also in the story and much more strongly stated, is that the actual peace treaties never worked because they were negotiated with the sachems (war chiefs) rather than the women who in most tribes of the Northwest Territories were the actual owners of the land and were also the ones who told the sachems when to go to war. The men conducted the wars, but they had no authority to declare war. That was a function of the women’s council.

I finished the first draft and went “whoa, is that what I really think? The US Constitution killed the tribes? Where did that come from?” It came from a decade of study in which I’d encountered issues with the American government that caused me to be concerned by what I encountered. I’m a realist and I see no reason to go back and fight wars that ended centuries ago. You can’t change history and being angry at people today who look like my tribe’s enemies two centuries ago does nothing to change that history and does great violence to society today. History is a one-way street and I accept that. They didn’t choose the path of peaceful cooperation, but in an alternative historical fiction, I could show the possibilities of handling it a different way.

For now, it’s a short story, but some day, I plan to finish the story and show where I think the United States would have ended up if we’d never ratified the Constitution. I’ve drafted about 10 chapters to encompass Lai’s life, based on historical events that would have occurred in Lai’s lifetime, ending a short time after the Civil War.

Someday…someday.

A Glorious Quilt of Humanity   12 comments

Do you write diverse characters? If so, how do you avoid cultural insensitivity?

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”ff418ba9669d48269e89779f3edc92ba” style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/ff418ba9669d48269e89779f3edc92ba” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”><script async=”true” src=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/js/widget/load.js…“></script></span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”ff418ba9669d48269e89779f3edc92ba”]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/ff418ba9669d48269e89779f3edc92ba

Governor Sarah Palin in blanket toss, Point Barrow. | Accent Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin preps to dance the blanket

Diversity

Yes, I write diverse characters. I grew up in a very diverse state — Alaska — and my mother was part-Native American. No other members of our tribe lived in our community, but my mother was popular for blanket tosses at community gatherings because she was light — less than a hundred pounds — and athletic, so they knew they could send her high, and if she’d had sufficient beers, she might grace them with a somersault or a grand jete. So since she was useful, we were semi-adopted by the local Natives and also since she worked in the cafes, everybody knew her. My dad was less useful, but they allowed him along as her husband because Dad never met a stranger and they sensed that.

What? You’ve never heard of a blanket toss?!

The feature photo gives you a little idea what it looks like. They take a skin hide –often walrus or caribou and they stretch it and put handles along the edges. Someone climbs in the middle and a lot of hands take the edges and if the jumper and the pullers can coordinate it, they send the jumper high into the air. In the old days, the Eskimos along the coasts used it to spot whales. Today’s it’s an athletic exhibition often shown at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics and the Intertribal Powwow. The blanket (mapkuq) is made of ugruk (seal) skins sewn into a circle or square. Pullers (naluaqtit) act like the springs on a trampoline, circling the blanket and rhythmatically pulling out to throw the blanket dancer (nalukataqtuaq) in the air. Heights of 20 feet are standard and I know Mom jumped 30 at least once. When they do it indoors, the goal of the Eskimo Olympians is to touch the ceiling. I’ve been the “dancer” a few times in informal “dances”. I’m a native Alaskan — as in I was born here, but I’m not Alaska Native, so I don’t qualify for the Olympics and frankly, I’m not very good. It is an honor to be invited to be one of the pullers and my husband is often invited because his best friend is an Eskimo fellow, he’s the adopted “white son” of an Eskimo ana (elder lady) and, when he was young, he had arms bigger than some men’s thighs. Although I’m small, I’m strong for my size, so I have been invited as a puller on occasion, though usually strangers doubt my abilities. I — uh, pulled my own weight, so to speak.

The beats are set by several men and boys playing drums. These were made traditionally from the skin of the liver or lungs of a whale, but today might also be made of synthetic materials. The men also sing songs (nalukataun[27]) for the dances. Following another prayer, the evening closes.

So, in my books, diversity exists not to make any sort of statement about diversity but because that’s the world I live in. Although our association with our long-time church ended a decade ago, many of my friendships come from that time and the church’s mission statement (at the time — I believe it’s not the same anymore, which is part of the reason we moved on to another church) involved a phrase about the church being a beautiful quilt we were presenting to God.

That’s how I view the world. I’m aware we all have differences, but I don’t think they matter. A quilt is made beautiful by contrasting colors, each square contributes to the whole and they’re not nearly so beautiful separate as when they’re all fit together in a glorious mosaic. That is diversity to me — not separate races who are (or should be) at odds with one another, but individuals who are distinct from one another as individuals and in the groups they associate with, but together make a harmonious whole based on contrasts. This makes society an interesting place, but we need to remember that if we clash unnecessarily, we tear the beautiful quilt apart and that would be truly tragic.

In Daermad Cycle, the Celdryans (descendants of 5th century Celts) and Kin (elves) are the two main races and they hold historic (and highly understandable) animosity toward one another. But other races are plotting to destroy them, so they need to set aside their differences to work together or they’ll both perish. Much of the series relates to how they come to do that — or whether they can’t, though they desperately need to.

In Transformation Project, Rob’s mother Vi was a member of the Kansas branch of my tribe, so the Delaneys have Native American cousins and some of Shane’s dark good looks are drawn from that ancestry. There are occasional references to traditions or ongoing ethics based on that tribal tradition and Rob’s white father’s embrace of that. That’s vaguely drawn from my dad’s interaction with my mother’s tribe. My husband has a more contentious relationship there not because of anything he’s done but because some Native Americans feel empowered to treat whites who are married to Native Americans with hostility these days. At some point that will be addressed in one of my books, but these folks are surviving the apocalypse so woke-ism isn’t really centerstage after they feed themselves.

Because I want my books to reflect American society in reality, the majority of my characters are white because 74% of the American population are white, so that shouldn’t seem odd to anyone. There are several Hispanics in the community because Kansas has a fairly significant Hispanic population, Lila and Vint Barrett are black, Brian is biracial, and Ami Ceylon is Egyptian by birth. They are all based on people I know — although they’ve all morphed into independent characters over the course of the books. My characters tend to do that and I let them because I get a better book that way.

Sensitivity

That’s complicated. First, I recognize that my own perspective is the only one I can truly understand. However, sometimes the story demands that I write from the perspective of one of my characters who happens to be a person of color and not a member of my tribe. And when the story demands that, I can’t be overly worried about what a random reader might think about my sensitivity or lack thereof. I refuse to be intimidated by the “woke” bullies and they can just go read books other than mine if they prefer politically-correct drivel instead. That said, I strive to be as honest and accurate in my writing as I can manage.

In A Threatening Fragility (third book in Transformation Project) I wrote a scene where Lila Barrett (a black woman) is lecturing Marnie Callahan Delaney (a white woman) about maternity. Marnie was totally in the wrong and Lila is delivering some much-needed mother wit. I wrote it like I thought my friend Janet would speak, knowing that Janet is passionate on that topic. Lila’s character isn’t based on Janet, but she’s a character that morphed from who she was based on and has taken on a life of her own. She used several phrases I’d heard strong black women say on that topic, tweaked for my story’s purposes. I wrote the scene from Marnie’s perspective because I haven’t been able to get comfortable writing from Lila’s perspective, and sometimes it’s just best to know your own limitations as a writer. That’s not a promise that I’ll never write from Lila’s perspective. It’s just an admission that I can’t get that far into her head…yet. When I got to the editing process, I asked myself just how far off the mark I might be with these handful of powerful statements, so I asked my friend Olivia to read the scene. She came back with “You been eavesdropping when my mama lectures me, girl?” I knew I’d captured Janet — who is Olivia’s mother — perfectly.

So, was it insensitive? Olivia didn’t think so. She pointed out that some of Marnie’s assumptions were wrong from her own experience, but then she paused and said “But you’d expect them to be, right?” Ever the social worker, Olivia understands that we can’t read each other’s minds. “We only think we can.” For fiction to mirror real life, Marnie can’t completely understand what Lila is saying, because that sort of insight is not true to life. Marnie’s subculture influences her just as much as Lila’s does and I don’t consider either subculture to be superior — they just are and that’s all the analysis they need.

When I finished the rough draft of Red Kryptonite Curve (Book 1 of What If Wasn’t), I realized there was only one non-white character (a black chauffeur) in the entire book and I kind of panicked a little. Where were all the Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans? Oh, my! And then I realized that I had visited the town that served as template for Port Mallory and maybe the reason there are no minorities in the book was because someone in Peter’s social class living in that town wouldn’t really interact with a lot of racial minorities outside of public school. His family’s wealth grants him the privilege to not really need to worry about race and he’s got enough problems of his own that he doesn’t really think about it. I accidentally wrote that into the story and I think it is 100% right for the story I wrote and the community I set it in. I tweaked a few things — mentioning that Peter’s maternal grandparents are Greek, which is pretty “diverse” for a New York WASP family to marry into — but in the end, I wasn’t going to shoehorn in some diversity characters like it’s some sort of literary affirmative action project. Dumpster Fire (Book 2) was slightly more diverse simply because I’m more aware of it now…and then where the series goes from here will involve a lot more diversity simply because of where Peter’s life is headed. It’s an organic development. I’m not trying to make any sort of political statements about race. I’m just trying to reflect the world as accurately as I see it.

Writing from Different Ethnicities

Because I grew up in a very diverse community and attended a church which often had a majority non-white membership I feel pretty comfortable writing from other cultural perspectives as part of an ensemble cast, but I doubt I’ll ever write a primary character who is a racial minority (other than Kin…which I think is safe since I invented them). Writing too many scenes from that perspective gives devoted critics ample evidence to misconstrue what you meant. I already get enough flack from the born-again Christian parsimonious believers in perfection who think if a non-Christian character says the s-word or engages in off-scene extramarital sex it’s a sign I’m a tare among the wheat, not to mention the commentators who can’t tell alt-right ideology from the libertarian Non-Aggression Principle. I will continue to strive for accuracy in my portrayals and not submit to bullies who make judgements based on their own ignorance, but I know when to avoid a fight I probably can’t win. Besides, I strive for accurate characterizations and if I can’t get into the head of the character, making them the center of the story would likely come off inauthentic.

I think it’s wise to know my limitations as a writer.

Posted August 23, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility   7 comments

What do you wish you had an unlimited supply of?

Today will require an endless supply of coffee or bail money | Etsy

Rules:1. Link your blog to this hop.2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.<!– start InLinkz code –><div class=”inlinkz-widget” data-uuid=”17633f18d42e4cbaada9aa3d43b85e61″ style=”width:100%;margin:30px 0;background-color:#eceff1;border-radius:7px;text-align:center;font-size:16px;font-family:’Helvetica Neue’,Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif”><div style=”padding:8px;”><p style=”margin-bottom:15px;”>You are invited to the <strong>Inlinkz</strong> link party!</p><a href=”https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/17633f18d42e4cbaada9aa3d43b85e61” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow” style=”padding:5px 20px;background:#209cee;text-decoration:none;color:#efefef;border-radius:4px;”>Click here to enter</a></div></div><span style=”display: none;”>http://a%20rel=</span><!– end InLinkz code –>[fresh_inlinkz_code id=”17633f18d42e4cbaada9aa3d43b85e61″]https://fresh.inlinkz.com/p/17633f18d42e4cbaada9aa3d43b85e61

So Many Choices

This appears to be a common theme for me–too many choices to choose from. I have to narrow the field somehow, so I decided to eliminate the pat answers of love and money. They were too easy to answer anyway and I wanted to write a longer article. Besides, as a Christian, I already experience the boundless love of God toward me, but as an apocalyptic writer, my experience of human love is that wishing I had boundless love from other people is asking too much, especially in these days of cancel culture, social media flame wars, and people taking absolute sides over mandates that don’t take personal needs and differences into account.

And I certainly don’t think endless money is very healthy for people. There’s something about human nature that too much wealth corrodes even good character. Looking back at the rich men and women in history, there’s been few who could rightly handle money. The few who did were very generous with their wealth while showing judicious wisdom in what they gave their money too. R.G. LeToureau comes to mind as a notable example of a man who didn’t think his wealth was a permit to treat others like serfs. While I’d like to believe otherwise, I can’t say my faith and character are to that caliber, so I would not want an endless supply of money.

There’s the classic example of wisdom. Solomon choose that and it made him a wise ruler. But he still married foreign wives who took him and his children, some of whom were the future rulers of Israel, away from the God who gave him wisdom, which doesn’t seem to be very wise. So I would choose not to complicate my life in that fashion. That way, my “superpower” shouldn’t go to my head and create a megalomaniac.

What Would I Choose?

After a great deal of thought and pondering various supplies that would be intriguing, I finally decided I would like to have an endless supply of good health. I’ve always been very healthy myself, though as I age, my joints complain sometimes, so I feel that would be the most beneficial for me and any extra I’m not using, I would pass to people around me and since it’s an endless supply, I could truly help a lot of people. I would strive to make my contribution anonymous. You’d just pass me in the grocery store and eventually realize you were perpetually well. I would strive to the utmost of my ability to keep my contributions anonymous, so as not to promote myself into megalomania. I might not even tell my husband and kids that I have this supply. And, by passing my good health along to others, I just might solve at least one aspect of our current cultural hate-fest.

You see, the problem with an endless supply of almost anything is that human beings just lack the character to use it appropriately. We always come to believe that it makes us superior to others and therefore justifies abusing them. After all, we’re trying to “help” them. Having observed such character failings in others, I don’t trust myself to be any better. I think God invented scarcity to keep us humble because a near-endless supply of everything clearly went to Adam and Eve’s heads. With great power comes great responsibility.

Posted August 16, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Daryl Devore’s Blog Hop 8.9.21   Leave a comment

Daryl Devore

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 9th August   1 comment

Stevie Turner

Welcome to this week’s blog hop. Today’s topic is:

Do you have a favourite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favourite?

I cannot really say I have an actual favourite book. Instead I have several favourites from my younger days that I’ve read over and over again. I’ve always seen books as a kind of comfort, and during stressful times (for example having various surgeries over the years) I tend to reach for stories I’ve known inside out for years. I can quickly lose myself in the familiar words, and the comfort blanket of a well-known book can distract me from any grim reality I’m experiencing at the time. Some people comfort-eat, but I comfort-read. It saves me gaining too many pounds, lol.

That said, here’s a few books I’ve read many times. They can always distract me from something nasty. I enjoy each author’s…

View original post 259 more words

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

A Favorite Piece of Literature #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

August 9, 2021 Do you have a favorite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favorite??   This will be a quick one, because I am on the road and writing from yet another hot…

Source: A Favorite Piece of Literature #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – A Reader Lives a Thousand Lives   Leave a comment

Steve Smith

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

It sticks in my mind. My all-time favourite   Leave a comment

Richard Deehttps://richarddeescifi.co.uk/my-all-time-favourite/

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Making A Choice   8 comments

Do you have a favorite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favorite?

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So Many?

The Young Unicorns by Madeleine L'Engle

I have a lot of “favorite” books and a lot of favorite authors. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one. I enjoy them all for different reasons and the genres range widely. Some of my favorites were encountered when I was a particular age and going back to them was a mistake because I no longer “get” the book. Others are old friends that I have read many times. I’m rereading Sorrow, Memory and Thorn by Tad Williams because when I picked up his newest book in Osten Ard, I found I didn’t remember much about the first trilogy. I am remembering it as I go along and I’m enjoying it all over. I love Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Charles Dickens, Robert Louise Stevenson, Louisa Mary Alcott, Mark Twain, Katharine Kerr, and Kate Elliott, and currently my favorite novelist is Brandon Sanderson. And, at the suggestion of PJ MacLayne, I’m enjoying reading the Longmire series.

And then there’s the nonfiction books and poetry. I like a broad range of reading.

But that’s not really the question, is it?

Do I have an all-time favorite?

Yes. Although I enjoy several books by Madelaine L’Engle, her third book in the Austen family series The Young Unicorns must be my favorite because I have reread it more times than any other book. Why? L’Engle was an amazing writer. You feel like you’re on the street of Manhattan’s Upper West side in many scenes. I asked my husband to read a few scenes because he lived in New York at one point and he said the same thing. Her word pictures are evocative. Her characters feel like people you might know. And she approaches moral questions and quandaries in a way that is both deft and searching.

“They’re a good family…One can tell a great deal around a dinner table…I think the closest we ever come in this naughty world to realizing unity in diversity is around a family table. I felt it at their table, the wholeness of the family unit, freely able to expand to include friends, to include me even through Austin’s and my suspicions of each other, and yet each person in that unit complete, individual, unique, valued.”

I don’t know a better definition of a favorite piece of literature than something you go back to over and over, unless it is one that stirs something so deep in your heart that you remember it for a lifetime.

The Greatest Book I’ve Ever Read

My parents made sure I read a lot as a kid and Alaska’s cold winters gave me plenty of time to do so and made me think it was my own idea. My parents, particularly my dad, wanted me to read all the great literature, so he bought a lot of books and sometimes we would read together. I think I was nine or 10 the first time I read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I grew up in a largely postracial community. Alaska outlawed racial discrimination 15 years before I was born and people were pretty used to being integrated by the time I was old enough to be aware of racial differences. So, in some ways, Huckleberry Finn was my introduction to the whole topic of American slavery. Roots hadn’t mythologized it yet. The last movie adaptation of the book was the year I was born, so I hadn’t seen it on the screen. It was just some book I picked up off a shelf and opened. There was a scene early in the book about Huck’s father having DTs and I knew what those were because it had happened to some friend of my parents and I’d overheard the adults talking about it. But Twain put me right in Huck’s shoes as he experienced the horror and that sucked me right into the character of Huck. I engaged with his moral quandary of being on this raft with an escaped slave. Huck knew it was immoral to break the law and Jim was an escaped slave that the law said should be returned to his owner. Yet, about three-quarters of the way through the book, Huck had to make a decision about Jim, whose freedom is entirely in Huck’s hands.

“It was a close place. I took . . . up [the letter I’d written to Miss Watson], and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: “All right then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up. It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.”

What a powerful statement! One that has never really left me. Society can be wrong about so many things and yet we are responsible to God’s still small voice within us to obey Him rather than people who try to define right and wrong from a flawed human perspective. It’s an incredible lesson for young people to learn.

Posted August 9, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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Reflections on Aging #OpenBookBlogHop   2 comments

My Corner

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s question is:  “What’s something you look forward to as you age? And what do you miss from your youth?”

***

I turned sixty in June of this year, but I don’t look or sound like I’m sixty, and I certainly don’t feel old, despite minor health issues. Someone told me that the reason I don’t have gray hair is that I’ve never had children. Wow, can you imagine what would happen if everybody believed the secret to not having gray hair is to not have children? But I digress.

Since I turned sixty a couple of months ago, I’ve already been enjoying the benefit of eating breakfast or lunch for only $5 at The Hub on Smith, A Center for All Generations. This facility is primarily for senior citizens, but all are welcome.

By the way, my singing…

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Posted August 4, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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