Thursday, April 27, 2017

Censorship

Here's a link to an article by E. Stephen Burnett about censorship and rules in Christian and in Secular book markets:
http://www.speculativefaith.com/secular-fiction-better-christian-fiction/

Here's my response:

When I lived in North Pole, the school system bought an entirely new set of English literature books and told the teachers they must get rid of the old books and only teach from the new books. The teachers in our church told all of us why they were outraged by the books and a bunch of us got together. I was assigned to check out the 4th grade book. Whoa. At a fractious school board meeting where, among many testimonies, an Aleut or Yupik woman said that we wanted to censor the stories of her people, her heritage. When my turn came I stood and said that much in the new 4th grade book was good. I read one of the lovely poems to my kids. I liked the mini-biographies of the woman veterinarian and woman (some other job). I was glad this book included some Native American myths. Then I said I was glad for censorship. I was glad my Jewish children didn't need to read the Jules Verne story with the description of Jews with yellow, grasping fingers. I was glad my black children didn't need to read racist stories that depicted them as evil and subhuman. However, agreed, some censorship is stupid. I knew a writer who had to remove all references to cookies in his story for it to be accepted in a school book, lest children think cookies are good. This textbook had fantasy and science fiction, which I appreciated because that's what I write. However, this is what was censored in this book. All nonfiction except for the women in careers. All nonfiction about our nation, our inventors, my heritage. There was nothing of my heritage in this book. There were gruesome stories of torture and suicide, but no stories of the devastation left behind by those who kill themselves. There were no stories of hope, no stories of Christian myths, no American folktales, no patriotic stories, no positive depictions of the military in a town dominated by military families (Eielson AFB), no stories of men accomplishing anything. Don't tell me you're fighting censorship by disagreeing with those of us who find these books disgusting.
After some hours of testimony, the president of the school board said that they were not going to bow to our attempts to censor such fine literature books.
The teachers in our church told us that a short time later, the new literature textbooks were quietly collected and the old ones given back along with the admonition to not tell anyone they had done so.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dean Koontz permission

Whoo-hoo! Today I received a signed snail mail letter from Dean Koontz giving me permission to use excerpts from his novel The Taking in the textbook! He said my book sounds like a worthwhile project.
He also said he's working 80-90 hours a week on a novel. Whew.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Eagles

The other day as I was walking home I was thrilled to see a bald eagle circling overhead. I see them so often now, and each time is a thrill. When I was a teen, the bald eagle was on the verge of extinction. Draconian laws were passed to protect them (I can't own an eagle feather even if I just pick the feather up from the ground? Really?) and slowly, slowly, as the decades passed, the numbers of bald eagles increased.
I came upon our Russian landlord sweeping the parking lot and told him about the eagles. He told me of watching the fishermen around the pond below the hill we live on. One caught a fish, laid it on the grass, and tended to his hook. The local bald eagle swooped down and stole the fish from him. Considering how impressive those raptors are up close, I'm guessing the fisherman had a tale to tell when he got home.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Speculative Faith article and thoughts thereafter

Here's a link to an article I found interesting and then spent a lot of time thinking about:

http://www.speculativefaith.com/stop-hating-christian-popular-culture/

Here's how I responded to the Facebook post:

I got up from the prior comment, washed some dishes, and thought a book chapter's worth of thoughts, but will reduce it to only a few of the points: Kincaid. I've read a variety of critiques about his work, and I agree with all the criticisms that people have come up with. And yet....I go into relative's homes and there is a Kincaid painting lovingly featured on a wall. And I think it's lovely. I like to look at pretty. It's why I grow flowers and trees. Is my love of gardening only worthwhile when I use it to introduce new food crops into Rwanda? (which, btw, is a lot of fun)
It is such a balancing act between the desire to be the intelligent one with great taste that understands more than the bleating masses, the desire to encourage people who are trying their best even when their best isn't very good by a blinkered view, the desire to be better than one's own best, the desire to be humble, the desire to be great, the desire to be recognized as great, the desire to be discerning, the desire to be accepting.
It's interesting, Stephen, how you like the Left Behind Series. You are not my only friend who does. I can't understand the attraction. I read a few paragraphs in one of the books and tossed it away in revulsion. And here you are, I freely admit it, an intellect that towers over mine. You have an ability to mine the good that sometimes bypasses me. Which brings me to a final point:
It seems like some people work hard to find the tiniest sliver of redemptive quality in a secular work they like, and refuse to look at the larger redemptive quality in a Christian work because it offends their refined sensibility. Maybe some people is me.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

After watching the protests and total lack of coverage for pro-life marches

Years ago I was part of a 4,000 or so protest march around the Texas Education Association building in Austin while hundreds vied for the 60 spots open to talk for two minutes about the law the Texas senate was considering. Someone had planned to sneak through a law making homeschooling illegal and all of us liable to go to jail. No internet then. We homeschoolers called each other in a panic that night, and the next day we drove to Austin for what we ended up calling a TEA party (no relationship to the present tea party)
So as I was walking around with the thousands of peaceful protestors, their multitudes of children, and my oldest son who was 9?, and a batch of police cars came squealing up and police exited to stare at our crowd. Josh clutched me and asked if we were allowed to do what we were doing. I proudly taught him about the first amendment. There were television cameras everywhere.
Back in San Antonio, I watched the news all night and read the following morning paper. Nothing about us. Not a single line, not a single word.
I called up every station in town and asked them why. They said a satellite transmission had gone awry. Uh-huh. A short time later twelve teachers also picketed the TEA because of retirement fund issues. That was front-page above the fold news.
Just because you don't hear about it (like you don't hear about the Muslim protests against extremist jihadi terror or pro-life marches) doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Robert Don Hughes

I'm so happy I got permission from the company that reissued the Pelmen the Powershaper series by Robert Don Hughes to use excerpts from his books in the Writing Speculative Fiction textbook. And he's still alive! I forget if he was a missionary or a professor when he supplied an endorsement for the very first version of Shatterworld so many years ago, but I'll always be grateful to him for that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Embarrassment

Well, I'm embarrassed. I have a story in the Fantastic Creatures anthology. That's not what embarrasses me. I was told to write a family-friendly story, so I wrote one thinking age 6-8. So I wrote a very simple story, simplistic even. The anthology is out now, and my story is the simplest, aimed at the youngest reader story in there. But even that doesn't embarrass me, though I now wish I had written something a little more complex about a kappa and a maneki-neko. *shrug* What's done is done.
Here's what embarrasses me. Someone read the book and left a good review but let the editor know I had made a mistake. It's been thirty years since I lived in Japan, but I remembered the honorific -san added to names. Adding -chan to a name indicates affection toward a child. -san indicates honoring an older or more authoritative person. So I had the little girl call her mother mama-san. I didn't think to track down one of my far-off Japanese friends to ask them to read through the story. I should have.
The reader told the editor that mama-san means the owner of a brothel.
Ack!!!! Fixitfixitfixitfixit! I wrote to the editor every few hours until she said she had sent the correction to the formatter. In the meantime I don't know how many hundreds of people downloaded the free book before it was fixed. My kindle version still has mama-san. When the print books arrive, I hope the mama-san has been changed to mama. If not, I guess I'll go through and cross out the -san.
Oh, man....My oldest son is always editing my writing, telling me, um, Mom, did you know this phrase was dirty? And my reply is always, Really?... I don't even want to ask what I inadvertently said.
So, if you get a hard copy with mama-san in it, could you kindly cross out the -san?
https://smile.amazon.com/Fantastic-Creatures-…/…/ref=sr_1_1…
Here be dragons ... and selkies and griffins and maybe even a mermaid or two. Twenty fantasy authors band together to bring you a collection of thrilling tales and magical monsters. Do you like to slay dragons? Or befriend…
amazon.com