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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Another View--or two--on Self-publishing.

Most of you know my take on self-publishing. I've posted about it HERE. You also probably know that I am a reviewer at Underground Book Reviews--a site dedicated to reviewing "Indy-published books." We take a fairly broad view of "Indy," including small publishers, vanity presses (as long as they aren't imprints of a major publishing house), and self-published. At UBR, we're all very committed to providing honest reviews and feedback to authors, even when it means exposing them to some harsh truths about what they've put out. You can read about my approach to reviewing in this blog post: So, You Want Me to Review Your Book, and also at UBR HERE.

I've also written about the long haul of the writing life...it's a marathon, not a sprint. You can read my thoughts about writing as an endurance sport on author KW McCabe's website (and updated HERE in 2014), and about the patience required during the writing, querying, and publishing process HERE and HERE .

Yes, I've taken a pretty harsh tone for someone who did self-publish the electronic versions of my books (the print versions are published by Casperian Books, a full-service, no cost, fees, or book purchase requirements to the author, or, as the publishing industry truism says, "money flows to the author"). But, if you read those posts, you'll see that I'm not opposed to self-publishing, but I am very much against rushing to publish without "paying one's dues" by putting in the time and effort needed to learn and hone the craft.

Yesterday, an opinion piece appeared on Huff Post: Self-publishing: An Insult to the Written Word.

An insult to the written word.

Wow.

That's harsh. Even by my standards. And as a read through the comments (time-worthy) shows, many of her points really do lack validity. But, many of them don't.

A better, more evenhanded and accurate take on the impact of self-publishing on the reading and writing world can be found in Kristin Lamb's Blog Generation Author Snowflake & the High Cost of Instant Gratification.

This.

This.

This!

All authors and aspiring authors, all those who "won" NaNoWriMo in November and rushed to Create Space or some other instant-gratification site to "publish,"--you need to read this. Take it to heart. And while the "participation award" mentality may be more pronounced in the millennial generation, don't think any of us are exempt from the excitement and ego-stroking of some instant gratification. That's pretty clear in all the self-published novels from the 40-, 50-, 60-, 70+ year-old authors. While many are well-written, with great story-telling, an equal (or greater) number are premature publications, put out by "good writers" who didn't take the time and make the effort to become better, to strive for "great."

As Lamb predicted, the slush pile has been dumped in the reader’s lap and it has devalue what it means to say, “I am a published author.” It's been overrun with rough drafts from those who have always been told they're "good" writers. Sure, they're good--more than good enough for the writing in their life--the annual Christmas letters, the college-essays, their personal blogs. But is it good enough to be a "professional"--a published novelist?

Probably not.

In academia, good enough is a C...it's average. A "good" athlete doesn't walk on to a pro team without putting in an awful lot of work first. Why assume it's different for writing?

What's the solution to the glut of not-ready-for-prime-time published books out there?

That's the big question for all of us--authors, agents, publishers--isn't it?

We're still in the midst of the mayhem. A new model for publishing is still thrashing around, trying to emerge. It hasn't fully formed and worked out what it is yet.

I do think it's going to become more imperative for reviewers to give honest reviews, not just 5-star hoping for the same in return. I also think it's a disservice if/when reviewers only post a review if they can give >3-stars. That's not really helping anyone, is it? If an author has asked for the review, give it to them--the one they earn. They have every opportunity before asking for a review to find critique partners, edit, revise, rewrite, go through beta readers, rewrite again. Their failure in due diligence shouldn't give them a pass to not receive a bad review when it's merited.  Too many of us are worried about "revenge reviews" coming back at our own work if we're that honest. I'd like to think any petty, revenge-reviews would be obvious, so wouldn't really cause any real damage. Maybe that's naive.

We do need more review sites like Underground Book Reviews, where the reviewers are held to a high standard for our reviews (higher, at least, then I've found at some review sites where it's clear they're just pumping out 5-star reviews based on the back cover blurb and maybe some info they found on the author's website.). We are required to read the book, and we post the review the book earns, not the one the author necessarily wants.

Whatever the new publishing landscape turns into, one thing is clear: Self-publishing is here to stay. How does it become something that lets saying "I am a published author" retain its value?

I wish I knew.





Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Rampant Gullibility: Ah, so that's how it happened

A common reaction from students learning about the Holocaust 40, 50, 60+ years after the fact is, "How could the world have let that happen?" or "How could the German people let that happen?" The latter comes after reading about all the German people who claimed not to have known what was going on in the concentration camps, even while soot, thick with the incompletely incinerated remains of humans burned in the crematoriums, fell on their homes and in their yards. We are repulsed by what that country did to the world---and yes, we blame the entire country. "How could they not know?" "How could they let it happen?" "How could someone who was so clearly demented come to power?"

By promising to make Germany great again.

By promising to fix the economy.

By placing the blame for all the woes of the "Aryan race" on "others"--anyone with dark hair, dark eyes, swarthy complexions...

anyone different: homosexuals, foreigners...

anyone who could recognize and call out the lies: intellectuals, scientists, journalists...

Anyone not gullible enough to believe Josef Goebbels propaganda machine, the fake news spewed out with little regard to even a passing acquaintance with credibility.

Those were the enemies of the state who were to blame for all of German society's ills and against whom Hitler and the Nazi party directed all the animosity, hate, and revenge of the small-minded, ignorant, and gullible. Those like them.

Trump. Bannon. Flynn. Pizzagate.

The ignorant and hateful, led by the ignorant and hateful, spewing lies by and to the ignorant and hateful. The reality is already playing out. When members of Trump's team blatantly post fake news, when his minister of propaganda runs a "media" outlet that's not only known for, but proud of, how well it can get gullible people to believe its fake news, when followers read not only fake, but so ridiculously-over-the-top-that-only-a-complete-moron-could-believe-it news, when an ignorant and gullible Trump-supporter will drive hundreds of miles to shoot up a pizza parlor and "free the children held captive in the basement" because of that news, there can no longer be any doubt about what you--Trump voters--have wrought on this country.

I am repulsed by those who voted for Trump, and even more so by those who continue to support him. If you voted for this deplorable man, you are deplorable. There is no rational reason for it--the economy has steadily been improving, slowly but surely, since the devastation of the Bush administration, so it can't be the economy. It can't be in support of his policies: there were no policies, there were no remedies proposed in his campaign, only blame and lies.

Some initially wanted to be patient, give him and his ilk the benefit of the doubt (because 2 years of campaigning wasn't enough to see the real man? How stupid and slow are you?) But now we're seeing more and more that what he spewed for those two years does show the man he is, and he proclaims it loudly and proudly with every appointment to his transition team, with every Tweet, and with every refusal to disavow the clear and obvious fake news spread by those with whom he surrounds himself. Hell, who he surrounds himself with is more than enough evidence of what a misanthropic, manipulative, mean-spirited man he is.

If you're still waiting to see, to give this deplorable excuse for a human being a "chance," I wonder how you'll respond in 10, 20, 30+ years when people ask, "How could the US have let that happen?" and "How could they not know?" "How could they not have stopped it?"

Future generations will judge us. They will judge you. They will ask how you could be so ignorant and gullible. And like millions of people judging the Germans after World War II, who don't separate out the German people from the Nazi party, or those who didn't vote for Hitler from those who did (yes, he was elected to office), they won't separate out those who committed atrocities from those who claim to have opposed them but did nothing to stop them, or those who will claim ignorance.

We will all be judged, and we will all be blamed for the atrocities that have already started.

How far will we let this go? I'd like to think we'll be smarter, braver, stronger than the Germans who opposed Hitler were, but so far, all evidence is to the contrary. So far, this country is exhibiting the same rampant gullibility the Germans did when Hitler came to power, with no sign in sight that we have the ethical or intellectual will to stop it. No sign we'll stand up for what is right, good, and decent.

We should all be very ashamed of our country. More so with each passing day and each new assault to democracy and truth that the incoming administration heaps on us. Instead, we're taking the easy, lazy way out, saying "this to shall pass." That might be true, but maybe we should ask Germany about what can happen between now and the time the evil passes.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fathom the Depths of Imagination

A moving article by Jeffrey Davis, Fathoming Black Lives, is so worth spending a few minutes reading. And hours, days, years contemplating.  I think his idea of imagination--the ability to consider the plight, the feelings, emotions, history of "other"---or the inability, for many, is a dividing line that needs more exploring.

Imagination: the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

Empathy requires imagination. Reading, writing, and being pulled into fictional worlds requires imagination. A 2013 study by Castano and Kidd showed that reading literary fiction increases one's empathy. They conclude that, because literary fiction requires more mental processing than genre fiction or nonfiction, "readers of literary fiction are tasked with interpretation, or critical thinking. Literary fiction, they posit, has the power to “disrupt our stereotypes”; what’s more, it is full of “complicated individuals whose inner lives are rarely easily discerned but warrant exploration.”"

Another study conducted by Keith Oatley and Raymond Mar found that reading activates neural "that measurably help the reader better understand real human emotion — improving his or her overall social skillfulness."

In another study by the same researchers in 2006, 94 subjects were asked to guess the emotional state of a person from a photograph of their eyes. “The more fiction people [had] read, the better they were at perceiving emotion in the eyes, and…correctly interpreting social cues.”

In 2009, wondering if “devouring novels might be a result, not a cause, of having a strong theory of mind,” they expanded the scope of their research, testing 252 adults on the “Big Five ” personality traits — extraversion, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness — and correlated those results with how much time the subjects generally spent reading fiction. Once again, they discovered “a significant relation between the amount of fiction people read and their empathic and theory-of-mind abilities” allowing them to conclude that it was reading fiction that improved the subjects’ social skills, not that those with already high interpersonal skills tended to read more.

Empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, is critical to really comprehending the world around us. No, I can never be a black man. I can never fully know what it's like to be an undocumented immigrant, but I can imagine and feel the stress and the terror that is a part of their lives every day. I can also empathize with those who cause that stress and terror--not sympathize, but I can attempt to get into their head and imagine what they're feeling and why. And no. That doesn't make me sympathetic to them. It makes me angry.

It makes me wish they'd read more fiction as a child.

Friday, November 11, 2016

It'll be interesting

No. I haven't come around. No. I'm not ready to think you're anything less than a cretin if you voted for that blowhard. He said what he said, he did what he did. People who voted for him, to defend themselves, are saying they didn't take it literally. They didn't really believe he meant it.

I'm not ready to accept it was all hyperbole. His words were his words, with no disclaimers from him, no matter how hard his campaign workers tried to backpedal. So, yes, I do still think you're deplorable if you voted for him. He's scum. If it was all an act, well....we'll see. Time will tell. But, even if it was, that's no excuse for any moral and sane human to vote for him after all he said and did. You're still deplorable.

So, no. This isn't an easing of my position. But a surprising, eye opening moment of consideration. I actually think Glenn Beck is being somewhat sensible about something. Read what he said HERE.

No. Don't want to talk to you right now. Can't talk to you right now. Still have to process the fact of his words and actions--the evidence of who he is and what he represents--with your vote, showing your support for those words and action; and try to figure out how your acceptance and support of those words and actions makes you anything other than deplorable. I'm not there yet. 

But, some of Beck's words make sense. Possibly because I've always suspected that Beck isn't nearly as scary-nuts as he acts. That's the key. It IS an act for him. He's just fucking with all the conservatives who listen to him. I'd even planned a book around that idea. A sane person saying, "look how stupid and ugly these conservatives are. I'll bet I could really expose them for who they truly are." He gets on talk radio and shoots to superstardom. It's a funny joke for him, his girlfriend, and other friends who are in on the joke. But the joke backfires when he gets caught up in his own hype; addicted to the attention; to his power to really pull out the true nastiness in humans. In the process, he loses everyone he loves. Only when he's balancing on that razor's edge, a hairs breadth away from stepping over the line does he realize what  he's become. But by then, it's too late. He has alienated all of his truly good and decent friends, including his girlfriend. There is no happy ending, no matter how hard he tries to redeem himself. I think the real Beck is in that position now.

Beck tried to redeem himself by not supporting Trump. It was too little too late. Today, he put himself in the hot seat, exposed something of a soft underbelly. He tried to explain to those of us hurting over this election that, if we keep the lines of communication open, well, we might be surprised. Not much of an olive branch, but it's a start.

As I said, I'm not there yet, and can't be sure that I ever will be. If you voted for Trump, you are a deplorable human being. But, if there's hope for this country, hope that some of our institutions can survive, hope that some of the deplorables will snap out of it in time and act, in the way Beck said he will ("If our Mr. Trump, or any future president, should decide to round up Muslims (or any group) as America did with Japanese during World War II under Franklin D. Roosevelt, I will declare, “I am a Muslim.” My values, honor, integrity and the Bill of Rights demand I stand for those most unlike me — that is when it counts,") well, then maybe there is hope for this country, and maybe I am wrong about you all being misogynistic, racist, homophobic bigots.
I think I'd like to find out I'm wrong. I'm still pretty sure I'm not, because as nice a thought as it is, Glenn Beck didn't vote for Hitler/Trump, but you did.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What You Have Lost

I respect every citizen's right to choose who they will in an election. The purpose of a secret ballot is to ensure we can all choose who we want, without undue pressure from spouses, poll workers, the government or special interests.

I respect your right to choose. I do not respect your choice. And because you made that choice, Americans-who-voted-for-Trump, I can not respect you either. You have lost not only my respect, but a whole lot of other thin veils you've been using to hide the true-you.

You have lost the right to claim you're a "Christian." You opted for a man who has broken almost every one of the commandments. He has coveted (thus the 3 marriages, each with a mistress he took while married to the previous wife). He has disrespected women time and time again, loudly, proudly, and unrepentantly. I'm pretty sure his mother is a woman, and his wives, daughters, employees, colleagues. He shows no regard for women, including his mother, through his words and actions. He worships gold and wealth, the most false of idols. He has willingly and knowingly signed contracts then reneged on payment--cheating, stealing, and lying in one tidy package. Keep the sabbath? The man doesn't even attend church. Idolatry, blasphemy, theft? Check, check, check.

Until you can find the passages in the New Testament where Jesus said to throw out foreigners (oh, wait, he preached exactly the opposite!), to accumulate wealth, especially at the expense of others (uh-oh, again, your choice did the exact opposite), to belittle and berate the poor, the disabled, and anyone who is different...until you show me those passages, until you actually read and comprehend the words in the New Testament, you have lost the right to hide behind your cloak of "Christianity." You voted for a person who is the antithesis of everything you claim to "believe in."

Actions speak louder than words. What his actions show is clear. What your actions show is that your choice had nothing to do with faith, belief, morality, or Christian-values. It shows you've been duped into believing that "Republican" means "Christian." So you vote mindlessly for a candidate who represents all you claim to oppose. You chose hatred over love, greed over charity, racism over inclusion, and words over deeds. You have lost the right. Don't you DARE claim your Christianity to me. That only adds liar to your already clear actions showing what you are.

You've also lost the right to claim anything related to fiscal responsibility. You lost the right to claim any decision based on helping the economy when you selected a man whose wealth has come from running businesses into the ground, declaring bankruptcy and walking away from his financial obligations, scot-free, leaving his mess to the taxpayer and small businesses to suffer the damages. How will that make the country great again? By driving us into bankruptcy borrowing from his allies, Russia and China? Leaving us indebted to them and walking away after four years, so someone else can once again clean up his fiscal mess? So that we're obligated to countries we've claimed to oppose because of human rights violations, their form of government, their anti-Christian policies? Yes, sure. That's going to help the economy (that has slowly been recovering after 8 years of Bush putting two wars on a credit card that we've been paying off over the past 8 years under Obama--the fiscally responsible one who ignorant people blame for the mess the previous administration put us in.) 

If that's the reason you gave for your vote, as a way to justify that choice, I'm sorry, but you've lost the right to claim that you're a "fiscal conservative," or that you care about the economy at all. What your vote shows is that you don't care how or where the money comes from, just get it. Compromise our values, throw away integrity, borrow from China and Russia, use bankruptcy as your fiscal recovery plan for the country. If you think your vote was about the economy and you don't see the idiocy of electing a businessman whose repeated strategy for "success" is bankruptcy, then you're just not very bright. If you do see that, then it's clear your vote wasn't about fiscal responsibility or the economy, it was about your own hate and fear.

Those who claim they voted because of Benghazi? Please. Unless you also voted against both Bushes, W after the 13 embassy attacks killed 60 people under his watch and against Bush SR after the attacks during the Reagan administration when 5 embassy attacks killed 48 US citizens, you're a liar and a hypocrite. If you don't see the hypocrisy, you're just stupid. What your vote clearly tells the world, is that you latched onto any excuse you could to cling to your party, to find a way to justify an unjustifiable decision. Whether you needed that justification to rationalize your misogyny or your sheepish obedience to party, or to justify your racist opposition to anything associated with the Obama administration, who knows? Who cares. Unless you were equally mortified, belligerent, and actively opposed to those in power in the previous, more egregious instances of attacks and deaths at embassies, we can all see you're just grasping at straws. You didn't vote against Hillary because of Benghazi. You voted against her because you embraced the GOP's brand of hatred. You voted for exclusion and for war.

If you claim your vote was in the interest of national security because of Hillary's emails, as above, unless you voted against the George W Bush administration for using private email servers, unless you were outraged by that, and by Rumsfeld and Chaney's blatant lies to Congress and the American people, just stop. You're again grasping at straws to justify your misogyny, hypocrisy, and hate. You're blindly following your party dogma, against common sense, critical thinking, and mountains of evidence.

If you claim to be "pro-life," there's just no sane or reasonable way to support the GOP platform that condemns children to hunger, disease, poverty, and a poor education to lock them into a continuing cycle of poverty. Face it: you're pro-pregnancy, and after that, you're pro-punishment and suffering for children and women. Unless you support expanding and improving affordable health care, easy and inexpensive access to contraception, more school-lunch programs, welfare, public education, then you aren't pro-life. You're pro-pregnancy, pro-punishment, anti-woman and anti-child. If you are truly pro-life, you won't  have an abortion yourself. You'll teach your sons to respect women and not have unprotected sex. You'll teach your daughters about how their bodies actually work--using biological facts (no, we can't just "shut that down.") For the many, many "friends" and family members who I know had or paid for their girlfriends' abortions and are now vehemently "pro-life," you're despicable human beings. You got yours. You were able to move on and have a better life, marry the person you're with now, have the children you have now BECAUSE you had the right and opportunity to take control of your body and your future. And now that you've used that right, you don't want anyone to have it. (And no, I won't tell anyone your secret, but just know, people know what a hypocrite you are. Just don't preach your pro-life nonsense to me.) 

Please, for the love of God and country, those of you who voted for Trump, stop making weak excuses and rationalizing what you did. I know it hurts to come face-to-face with the truth, but all the evidence is there. The rest of the world sees it. Your fellow Americans see it. Your vote tells us all we need to know about you. You no longer have the right to claim morality, Christianity, responsibility, or common sense. You have embraced hate, ignorance, and fear. I am embarrassed for you and ashamed of what you've made of our country. I am sorry for you. And I will never again respect you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In Mourning

I am in a state of shock this morning. Later, I'll mourn. For now, I still can't fathom the depths to which a once great nation has sank.

But should I really be surprised? Isn't this just the culmination of 30+ years of eroding the fabric of society? Of demonizing education, making greed the focal point of religion and morality, of shunning evidence-based analysis and critical thinking in favor of magical thinking and easy answers?

Whatever these election results are, whatever mandate they speak of should terrify everyone. For those of us who chose a flawed, but sane and intelligent candidate, hoping for reason to prevail and lost, the reasons are too many and too obvious. We don't accept hate, xenophobia, lies, cheating, stealing, misogyny, and anger as the default position for this nation, or for our lives.

For those who supported those under the battle cry of "Christianity," you should be terrified. You've driven the final stake through the heart of all that term means. Until you can show me where the New Testament where Jesus urged hatred and bigotry, where he said greed is good and foreigners should be not only shunned, but mistreated, where he approved bullying, reneging on contracts (aka lying and stealing)--until you find where he promoted hate and anger over love, you don't get to play the "Christian" card anymore. You have chosen the antithesis of everything in the New Testament, embraced it, and proclaimed it yours. If that doesn't terrify you, you're nothing short of stupid, and at worst, you're evil.

For those of you who supported under the battle cry of "Make America Great Again," you should be terrified. Read the words on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your hungry, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to be free." That's what made America great. What made America great was going to stand up for those who were different, to free them from the concentration camps in Europe. You've elected someone who has promised to erect walls and remove those who are different. The very thing this country stood against when we were great. You should be terrified of your choice. If you aren't, you're nothing short of ignorant, and at worst you're hateful.

For those of you who thought someone whose wealth came from cheating and not paying on contracts--lying and stealing from honest, hard-working people who helped to create his wealth--who declared bankruptcy SIX TIMES as a way to avoid paying his debts--stealing from creditors, employees, workers, and taxpayers. Markets all around the world have been in free-fall since the outcome of this election became increasingly clear overnight. You've chosen that same path of bankruptcy and cheating for our country. You should be terrified of your choice. If you aren't, you're gullible at best, but mostly, you're an idiot.

My heart is breaking for my country. If I could look on a bright side, if I could find some moral, logical, sensible reason for anyone to vote for this man, I might be able to have hope. There is none--no reason, and no hope. I am embarrassed for my country, embarrassed by the people who could so willingly become so ignorant and gullible, who could be so hypocritical as to vote against everything this country stands for, all while waving their flags and proudly embracing all that it doesn't stand for.

Everyone at one time or another, has wondered how Hitler came into power. How the German people could have so willingly walked down that path. Well...now we know. We not only know, we're following in their footsteps. If you aren't terrified for yourself, you should be terrified for the next generation, and the ones after that. On the positive side, after Germany was blown to pieces, after they lost all respect on the world stage, and after they did some deep soul-searching to come to terms with the collective guilt they rightly carry, they were able to rebuilt a great nation. I can only hope that future generations will forgive us for this election, and rebuild something decent from the ruins. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Election 2016, Empathy, and the Betrayal of Trust

Wow. Some election year, eh? Smear campaigns galore and plenty of name-calling, and most spectacularly, somehow our country has selected a candidate that can blatantly and callously--and very vocally--contradict everything his party and its followers claim to stand for, and they still support him. 

If ever there was more evidence needed of the lock-step mentality of some voters, that's it. But, evidence be damned. 

Again, anyone who's been paying attention can see the mound of evidence--videos, tape-recordings, interviews, written statements--just go hit rewind to see all the blustering falsehoods, followed up with, "well...what our candidate meant to say..." or some other excuse for why the reality, the facts, and the actual incidents of racism, sexism, and lies should be ignored. 

And some obediently nod their heads and say, "Yeah, see? It's ok," then point their finger at emails--that four different investigations have cleared as a stupid mistake, but not a crime--or at Benghazi (while ignoring all of the embassy attacks in the previous 30 years, all with greater loss of life, and again, with the subject of their witch hunts cleared of misconduct or any offense by numerous investigations). 

Yes, this is the era of a "facts-be-damned" electorate. Any thinking person knows that's the culmination of years of attacks on education, science, and critical thinking skills. The perfect storm of ignorance, predicted by Justice David Souter four years ago. You can see his comments in this video.

This current election and the state of the country--particularly the state of those who cling so tightly to what everyone else in the country and world see as failed party dogma--is sad. It's disturbing, and frustrating. But through all that, the biggest thing we should be feeling, and that I've been reminding myself to feel--is empathy. 

I know I've lashed out in my own frustration. How can anyone who claims to be for fiscal responsibility support a candidate whose wealth has come off stealing from tax payers? Yes, he legally manipulated a flawed tax system. Legal, sure. Moral--not so much. Does it demonstrate fiscal responsibility? Not in the least. How can those who claim to admire "a good businessman" think that someone with 6 bankruptcies and a trail of lawsuits for failure to make good on contracts, payments, and financial obligations is an example of that? How can those who embrace the GOP as the party of family values and morality reconcile that with his pussy-grabbing, cheating, lying behavior and words? 

The clear and overwhelming evidence shows he's not a good businessman, he doesn't practice fiscal or personal responsibility, and his morality is nonexistent. Sure, those purporting to be good Christians while supporting his behavior say, "judge not lest you be judged" and "people make mistakes, but we forgive them." Except, that only applies to those candidates on the right. Seems all one has to do to get the fundamentalists and non-thinking Christians behind you is to say, "I'm a Christian," or "I support family values" or "I oppose a woman's right to autonomy over her own body." Then go ahead and do whatever you want. For them, actions don't count, only words. 

 But, at the same time as I vent my frustration over the wild hypocrisy, and rail against the mind boggling cognitive dissonance of these people, I also have empathy for them. My heart aches for what they must be going through. For more than a generation, this group of people have been told, "You don't need to learn science, we'll tell you what you need to know," and "you don't need to research the facts about how elected officials actually act and vote, we'll tell you who to vote for," and "don't look beneath the surface of these complex, multi-faceted issues, we'll give you the answer." 

How comforting and easy life is when you trust so much that someone, some entity, is looking out for you like that. How much less anxiety in life when you don't have to look at perplexing issues from multiple perspectives, considering all the information and evidence, but are handed black-and-white answers. And, as long as you don't look beneath the surface, don't question, well, it all makes sense. It's all simple. It's all comfortable. You can bury your head in the sand and let the people you've been told to trust make all the decisions, do your thinking for you. 

Then this election year happens, and this candidate emerges. Suddenly, all of those reassurances to "trust us, we'll tell you who stands for the same things that we do," are harder and harder to justify and believe. The evidence rings out loud and clear every time this candidate opens his mouth, contradicting everything Jesus taught, everything the New Testament tells us to do, everything years of being told that the GOP value the same things its supporters do. 

Put yourself into that position. Thinking about it makes my brain hurt. I can feel it bending and contorting, trying to put all of those ill-fitting pieces into the proper places in that puzzle. If trying to just consider it makes my brain hurt, knowing I don't have to reconcile lies and betrayal with the picture of me in my head, then just imagine the agony of all those people who really do have to reconcile the pieces they've been handed into the coherent picture they have of their beliefs. How do they force this new narrative onto their lives? 

Thinking about how they must feel makes me want to cry for them. I can imagine the gut-wrenching pain they have to live with daily, as they place Trump signs in their yard, then go inside to hug their daughters, knowing they'd never let those young girls stand in the same room with the man they're going to vote for. I can imagine the squirming and twitching in the church pew as they read Bible passages about loving thy neighbor. They have to reconcile wall-building, Muslim concentration-camp constructing claims with the words, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me." The horror they must feel as the preacher reads the next passage: “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me you who are cursed...For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." 

Yes, cognitive dissonance (the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change) will allow people to behave in ways inconsistent with the words that come out of their mouths and with the image they've developed of who they are. To others, the elaborate stories created to reconcile these conflicting narratives can easily be labeled hypocrisy. But it's deeper, more difficult to subvert ones very psyche. The burden and effort must be draining. More than draining, demoralizing and even physically painful. It can be hard to feel empathy for those whose thinking is so completely different from our own, or so distorted from their own beliefs. 

I know I hadn't let myself go there--to empathy. It's easier to voice frustration, disappointment, or anger. But this week, I've made an effort to understand and try to put myself in the shoes of friends and relatives who are clinging tightly to what's been their source of comfort, their trusted way of dealing with life. 

When I did that, the feeling hit me like a brick wall--a painful wall that I hit while running at full speed. I got a lump in my throat wanting to cry for those people who have placed their total and complete trust in a system and in institutions that have now abandoned them. I'd imagine it's something like the heartbreak and disappointment children feel when they discover that the story mommy and daddy told them all these years about Santa Claus isn't true. But magnify that by orders of magnitude: an adult lifetime of believing the story you've been told, and about issues that are far more important and complex, not only to you, but to the entire country and even the entire world, and not on one day of the year but every day. 

The complete and total betrayal of a lifetime of belief and obedience, doing what you're told because you trust them completely, only to discover it's been a lie. Imagine the grief one feels realizing nothing you've been told is working out quite the way you were promised. How does anyone recover from such a comprehensive betrayal? I think that question explains what we're seeing now. 

The country, and especially those who have trusted in certain institutions like the GOP or the church to provide all the answers they need, is grieving. Grieving for that lost trust. Many are just realizing it and are in the first stage of their grief: denial. These are the ones digging in their heels, planting their signs, and defiantly standing by their candidate. They grasp onto the one or two stalwart positions they hold: abortion is wrong (but let's ignore those policies that let children starve, go homeless, and suffer from illness because they can't afford insurance). They develop convoluted stories that let them rationalize how everything antithetical to their stated beliefs is okay and not what it seems, mostly by demonizing the other candidate over demonstrably false claims. 

Some have moved on to bargaining. "I don't support this one candidate, but if I vote for the rest of the party slate, then everything will be ok." Many have even moved on to the third stage in their grief: depression. At this point and in this election, that's probably a healthy place to be. 

Luckily for this country, many, including party stalwarts, have come to terms with the reality regarding the culmination of their party's 30-year embrace of civic ignorance: acceptance. They're the current GOP leaders who have thrown their support behind Hillary, or Johnson, or won't be casting a vote. They're the ones signaling the wake-up call that the GOP had better change course or become irrelevant. 

 Getting to that point in the grieving process can take a long time and is uncomfortable, even painful. Rather than drive people to defiance, backing them into a corner to stand by their denial, the rest of us should exercise a bit of empathy. Give them the room and understanding they need to grieve and move on. Allow them a graceful move away from the corner they've backed into. Show empathy for the pain and grief they must be feeling over this huge loss of trust. As difficult as that can be, especially with the election looming in only in only: 




It's important we do this so that after the election, we can move on as one nation, undivided. Together, with liberty and justice for all.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Patronus is a Jellyfish... Weird Musings on My Peculiar Penchant for Cnidarians

To paraphrase Rubeus Hagrid, "Seriously misunderstood creatures jellyfish are." 

I've been quite partial to jellyfish ever since my first close encounter with Cassiopeia xamachana (I've blogged about them HERE on my now mostly defunct Waterblogged site). 

My infatuation with these graceful, mesmerizing invertebrates started when I saw what looked like a cross between a flower and an anemone on the sandy bottom of Brewer's Bay in St. Thomas. I'd recently transferred to the College of the Virgin Islands and was snorkeling around the school's dock. The flower was beautiful with its green-gold petals undulating with the slight surge. I had to get a closer look! (Casseopia photo courtesy of Shyzaboy's Flickr photostream.)

As I was about to touch a petal, a hand grabbed my wrist. My ecology professor was snorkeling nearby and saw what I was about to do. He pulled me to the surface and said, "That's not a plant, it's a jellyfish."

Now I was even more fascinated so found out everything I could about Cassiopea xamachana, the "upside-down jellyfish." Three years later, I did my senior research project and independent study on Cassiopea, and have never lost my fascination with jellies. 


In the 30 years since the onset of my love affair with jellies, I've only become more passionate about them. Could it be because I can so closely identify with so many of the their "seriously misunderstood" traits? I think that might have something to do with it.

So what are some of the misunderstood traits?

The first thing that comes to mind about jellies: prickly, ouchy, nasty stingers. But those stingers are there to make sure nothing gets close enough to hurt what lies beneath. Inside is just a lot of soft gooey-ness that gets hurt really, really easily. 

That defense mechanism is just that--defensive--to protect the far-too-soft parts. Jellyfish don't hunt, they don't go on the attack. The harpoon-like nematocysts--the stinging part--are released in response to stimulus, mechanical or chemical. The barb or needle at the end releases venom that causes the pain and then incapacitates any food that might have made the mistake of swimming too close. Again, they don't actively chase down prey to sting, it just happens when something bumps them...rubs them the wrong way. 



Jellyfish have a simple symmetrical nervous system. Stimulus to any point on the body, sends the nerve impulse out in a fast reaction, with no brain to intervene. They react to a perceived threat (even if not threatening, with all that vulnerability, anything too close could potentially harm the poor jelly). The reaction protects soft gooey parts without first passing through a brain, like a knee-jerk when the doctor "threatens" you with a hammer.

Please don't judge the jellies on that first reaction. Beneath that, the soft gooey parts are worth the effort to get to know. And the more you know about the jellyfish, the easier it is to safely handle them.

One of the great traits jellyfish have is how well they play with and protect their friends. Yes, despite that initial lashing out, jellyfish have managed to form a few very close symbiotic relationships. They keep those symbionts, their partners and friends, safe from attack, letting some live among their tentacles, where they share scraps from meals with them. Others live right inside the jellyfish's body. The jelly gives them a safe home, provides nutrients, and will even transport it's friends, moving toward sunlight so the zooxanthellae living in their tissue can photosynthesize. Jellyfish are true and loyal friends for the few organisms who get past the stinging barbs.

For those reasons and more, I am empathetic. I can so very closely relate to the jellyfish and feel for them, for the bad rap they get.

My jelly-fettish isn't a passing fancy. I figured if the obsession hasn't faded after 30-years, it's probably a firmly established part of me. As a matter of fact, I wanted to honor that part of me, so had a jellyfish tattooed on my arm in white three years ago.


My "stealth jelly" tattooed in white.


I liked it so much, I wanted to add just a hint of color, and a second, smaller jellyfish. Alas, I didn't go back to my trusted tattoo artist, Frankie, because I got lazy and didn't want to drive to Savannah. Big mistake. Hint: if you find a tattoo artist who you like and know does good work, it's worth the drive! My beautiful jellyfish ended up looking like a kid had drawn on my arm with a crayon. 

So, I went back to Savannah to have Frankie do as much of a touch up as he could to salvage his work. At the time, he urged me to think about adding more color so he could really fix the image and "make it pop." At the time, I still had a clear memory of the white jelly and loved that "stealth" look of my tattoo, so I said, "no, just make it look not so bad, but keeping it mostly white."


Frankie's fix after my bad ink experience at Iron Lotus Tattoo 

It took another 1 1/2 years for me to decide not only do I love my jellyfish, but I want to really fix them, and let them be seen. So, back to Savannah I went, and after exchanging pictures and ideas with Frankie, decided it was time to submerge my jellies in some water. That way I could have my white stealth jellies with just a hint of color, and make them visible. And here's what I now have. This is the freshly done ink, so brighter than it will be when it's healed. 

 
jelly tattoo
My stealth jellies have taken the plunge and are now
surrounded by turquoise blue tropical waters.


 As I said a the beginning, my Patronus is a jellyfish. Now, it's always with me so I'll always be protected and safe from the dementors. I feel better already. 


Up next: I'll take a look at my tattoos more closely: the timing and significance of each, and something of what I now think, in retrospect, the deeper significance of getting those I did when I did.


Friday, July 1, 2016

RELEASE DAY! The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods


It's here! It's here! The day has finally arrived! My third novel, the second book in the Chupacabra Trilogy, was officially released by Casperian Books today!

 The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods




To all of you who have followed along for the past 9 days leading up to this, reading the character interviews, and entering into the daily drawing to win a free book, THANK YOU! I sincerely appreciate your support and encouragement.

Congratulations to all the contest winners: Connie D, Bob S, Pat B, Jennifer K, Lori D, Phyllis G, Keith W, Julie N, and Henny H.  I hope you enjoy the story, whichever book you selected. And please consider writing an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online bookseller websites, and recommending the book to your friends. Word of mouth from satisfied readers is a writer's most effective marketing tool! And please click on Bob's name to check out his blog post about The Un-Familiar---and then read on for more of Bob's great writing.

To wrap up this lead up to the books unveiling, I'll leave you with this: some of the lyrics, and a link to the video, of Demons by Imagine Dragons. I first heard this song while writing an early draft of The Un-Familiar and then, like now, it gave me chills. If ever a song completely captured the essence of a story, this one does for The Un-Familiar. I played it every morning to inspire and motivate me to write. If you've read the character interviews over the past 9 days and/or the first book in the trilogy, Ye Gods!, you'll have some idea of why the words are such a perfect fit. If not, have a listen, read the lyrics, and check back after you've read The Un-Familiar and let me know what you think--is this the perfect theme song for the story, or what?

Demons by Imagine Dragons
(lyrics from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/imaginedragons/demons.html)

When the days are cold
And the cards all fold
And the saints we see
Are all made of gold

...

I wanna hide the truth
I wanna shelter you
But with the beast inside
There’s nowhere we can hide

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide

Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide


Take a look and listen on YouTube: DEMONS by Imagine Dragons and tell me what you think. Does it give you goosebumps too? If not, it just might after you read The Un-Familiar!
Thank you all again for stopping by to read, entering the contest, and being the supportive, wonderful readers and friends you are!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Interview with the Chupacabra!


Here we are, only ONE DAY TO GO until the release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods, and one chance left to win your FREE copy of the book (or of my other two titles, Marina Melee or Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons.)

Congratulations to Wednesday's drawing winner, Julie N!

If you haven't won yet, be sure to give it one more go--head over to the Contact page on my website and send me a message to get your name in the hat.

 
Introducing The Star of the Story, the one, the only--

The Chupacabra!

 
Here we are, the day before the release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods, with our ninth and final character interview. Today, I'm talking with the character this all revolves around, the chupacabra, aka Chewy, formerly known as Muggle, and before that, Paco, and before that, Toby.  Or, as he's known in some circles, the dog-god of Mercy.


LMH: Welcome, Chewy! OMG, you are sooooo adorable!
Chewy: Yip, yip, yip!


The Chupacabra, aka Chewy, aka Muggle,
aka Paco, aka Toby, aka
the dog-god of Mercy.
 
LMH: Oh, and canine, too. Chewy, sit. Thank you. OK, can I speak to the god?
Chewy (in a play bow, growling): Grrrrrrr.

 
LMH: Chewy? Come on. This is an interview. I need to talk with the god. Can you let him speak?
Chewy: Arf! Arf-arf!

 
LMH: No, I didn't mean "speak" like that, I mean, can Mercy talk with us?
Chewy (runs around the room and grabs a tug-toy.)

 
LMH: Ok, I'll tug for a minute if you promise to settle down afterwards so I can talk with Mercy. Excuse me a moment, folks.
  •  
  •  
LMH: There. No lay down. Down. Good girl. Mercy? Are you there?
Mercy (with a heavy sigh; his answer comes not in words, but in images and thoughts in my mind): I am here.

 
LMH: Welcome back. It must be rewarding to know so many animals believe in you.
Mercy: I am sad that so many still need to believe in me.

 
LMH: True. So, let's talk about some of the positive things in your life. How about Rafi?
Mercy: Unlike most of your species, Rafi is a good, good man. He deserves mercy and love more than most. He deserves the Captain.


LMH: How about the others: Kiki, Senora Milagros, Carmen?
Mercy: Ah, I love them all. They are remarkable and their life stories are meant to converge. I ensure that happens--with a bang. To find out how, read The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods. Now, I must rest. I will release Chewy. She is eager to play.

 
Confused? As the god said, read The Un-Familiar and you won't be! Available tomorrow, July 1, from Casperian Books, or pre-order now at Amazon.

Now go register HERE for your chance to win a copy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An Interview with Reverend Aurelio Peña


The COUNTDOWN continues to Friday's release of my latest novel, The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods. Only 2 days--and 2 more character interviews--to go. That means 2 more chances to win a FREE BOOK, too! Don't forget: you have to enter the drawing every day. Names don't carry over from one day to the next, so head over to my website and send a message via the Contact page to be entered!



Congratulations to yesterday's winner, Keith W!

On to today's character interview.

 

Introducing Reverend Aurelio Peña

 

Our penultimate character interview is with the Reverend Aurelio Peña. Rev Peña, like Dr. Raines, is a newcomer to the cast. A celebrity televangelist, Peña preaches "prosperity gospel," the message that God wants us to be rich and selfish because He wants us to be happy and the way to happiness is to "get mine before someone else does." Given Peña's huge worldwide following, that message resonates with a lot of people. And, according to the corollary that those who are successful at amassing wealth must be pleasing to God because he's blessed them with riches, then Peña is certainly a favorite.

 

LMH: Welcome Reverend Peña. Oh, and I see you're not alone.

Peña: Vales la Peña (bows). You know my catch phrase, yes? It's a play on words. In Spanish, vale la pena means it's worthwhile. I switched that around, vales la Peña, you are worth the Peña...me (wink). Get it?

 

LMH: Yes, I completely get it. You're worth the pain. So, tell us...is there pain involved, following you?

(A petite serious looking woman in a dark business suit, her hair pulled back into a severe bun steps forward, one hand sliding under her blazer. Peña holds out a hand and stops her.)

Peña (to her): Esta bien, General. (Then to me): Tsk, tsk, tsk, such pessimism. An unattractive quality. Probably from low self-esteem. I can help. Follow me and you will learn the way to happiness. Trust me, vales la Peña.

 

LMH: That's nice. Can we get on with the interview? Oh, and can your staff wait outside?

Peña: Ah, my assistants. This is my head of security, who sitteth on my right-hand side, General Luisa Feliciano. (The woman nods). And these are the Women in White, as you said, my staff. (Pointing to each one in turn): My publicist, personal assistant, style consultant, hair stylist, personal physician, um, uh...(finger snapping)

Feliciano (whispering): Shoe shiner, sir.

Peña: Ah, right, my shoe shiner, and (waving absently) that one is in training. You may leave. Except the General. She stays with me at all times.

 

LMH: Fine. Now, tell us about how you came to be such a powerful preacher.

Peña: Ah, well, that is the god's will, isn't it?

 

LMH: Now, when you say gods, is that with a capital G, the God? And are you saying God's, singular, apostrophe s God's or plural, many gods? It's hard to tell just hearing it and I want to make sure I transcribe it correctly for the readers.

Peña: Shrewd. Most people don't catch that ambiguity when they hear the spoken word. That's why I prefer preaching orally to having things captured on paper. It leads to confusion. Questions. Verbally, my followers all hear what they want--need--to hear to believe.

 

LMH: Isn't that a bit...well, underhanded?

Peña: Underhanded? No, of course not. We do what we have to do to be successful. That's god's will.

 

LMH: Again, what god is that? God, capital G or are you referring to something--or someone--else?

Peña: Ah, very good. But, I can't tell you that. It would spoil the surprise. If your readers want to know, they'll have to get The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods to find out!

 
Thank you all for joining us. Now, either scroll down to read about the rest of the characters in The Un-Familiar, or head on over to www.lynnehinkey.com, look around, and send a message to enter for today's drawing for a free book. Or, better yet--do both!
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Character Interview with Dr. Joe Raines

THE COUNTDOWN CONTINUES! Only 4 days until the release of The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods (Casperian Books) and that means we have another winner of a FREE BOOK today, and 3 more chances to win!

Congratulations to yesterday's winner, Phyllis G!

Welcome to today's interview with Dr. Joe Raines! Don't forget to send a message via my Contact page on my website if you haven't won a book yet. There are still 3 more chances to win, but you have to sign-in each day for your name to be entered into the hat!
 

Introducing Dr. Joe Raines


Dr. Joe Raines is another new and captivating character who joins the cast in The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Dogs and Demons. Joe is the new professor of oceanography at UPR and he specializes in climate science. He'll also be Kiki's boss as she starts her college work-study program. Joe has established quite the reputation for himself in his field: he has published prolifically, and his weather and climate models are the most accurate around. So, why isn't he at some big, prestigious university or research institute? Makes one wonder what he's up to in Puerto Rico, doesn't it? Here he comes now.

 
A Joe Raines Look-Alike, and my choice
for who will play him in the movie version of
The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods.
Mmmmm...

LMH: Welcome...mmmmmmm...
  •  
  •  
  •  
Joe (snapping his fingers): Hello? Did you have some questions?

 

LMH: Wow. Milagros was not kidding when she described those eyes: "dark gray, almost black, flecked with gold and green, like the Hubble telescope images of distant galaxies. Like she could fall into them for eternity." Mmmmm...dreamy.

Joe (clearing his throat): Thank you, I guess. You know, the University has a really good online training program on sexual harassment in the workplace. Maybe you should look it over?

 
LMH: Oh, sorry. Um, let's see. Where were we? Yes, The Un-Familiar. You're new to the cast. How was it working with this group, being the newcomer and all?

Joe: I enjoyed it. Jack and I got on great, and you know Kiki is always a pleasure. The girl is absolutely brilliant, if a little cocky. I suspect that's going to get her in trouble in the future. And don't let my scenes with Carmen fool you. I adore her. That's a good thing, too, isn't it? Since we spend a lot of time together. My favorite colleague of all, though, is Milagros--Señora Milagros. You know how touchy she gets if you leave off the title. My scenes with her? There was definite chemistry there.

 
LMH: Looking at your background, you seem to have an uncanny knack for being around right when the most extreme natural disasters strike: San Diego during the wildfires, Oklahoma for the tornadoes, and now, Puerto Rico when a series of hurricanes are lining up, ready to strike. Is there some reason for that, or mere coincidence?

Joe (grinning...and OMG is that a sexy smile...oh, excuse me. Sorry. He's not grinning anymore. Not that the scowl isn't sexy too, but...(sigh) back to the interview): Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe more. Read The Un-Familiar, then you decide.


LMH: Wow. Just wow (sigh). And thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Raines.

Now head on over to the contact page on my website and send me a message to be entered for today's chance to win a free book or your choice! 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Character Interview with Jack Halliman

Welcome back. And CONGRATULATIONS to yesterday's drawing winner, Lori D! For all of you who haven't been drawn, not to worry. There are still 4 more opportunities to win. Don't forget, the contest starts anew each day, so head back to my website and send a message via the Contact page to enter every day.

The winner of Sunday's drawing is...
Lori!
Congratulations!

Now, on to today's interview,

Introducing Jack Halliman

Today we have the pleasure of chatting with the Jack Halliman, bestselling author of the Franz Henle mystery series. We first met Jack in Marina Melee because he lives on his boat-- the Holey Ship--at the marina of that story's title: Porto da Vida Marina, on the island of São Jorge. If you recall, in Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons, Jack sailed to Puerto Rico looking for a cure to his writer's block. Instead, he found a dead body and became one of two suspects in a murder mystery. The other was the chupacabra. Despite his efforts to focus on writing his next novel and not get caught up in the investigation, he still ended up in the middle of it all. But, with a little "inspiration" from Señora Milagros, he did manage to finish the manuscript for his next novel, too.

LMH: Welcome, Jack. Let me say, for anyone who has followed you from those early days when we first met you, you do seem to be mellowing with age. You were a real grouch back in Marina Melee.

Jack: Oh, come on. I wasn't that bad, was I? Maybe a little bit disillusioned. My marriage had fallen apart and the ex took more than her fair share of everything, including my daughter's affection. I'm over all that now. Janelle and I have reconciled. Me paying for her big fat wedding to that no-good Charlie helped, I can tell you that. But, yes, back in those days I was angry. But I wasn't a total ass. Don't forget, I took LaQuisha under my wing and tutored her and mentored her with her marina newsletter idea. Did you know, she's still at it? Some other marinas have even copied the idea. I keep telling her she should get out of that dead-end job, get her degree and go into journalism. I even offered to pay for it. But, she's devoted to George, and now that she and Albie are an item, I don't think she'll ever move. Anyway, I guess maybe I was a bit grumpy back then. But...(shrug).


LMH: OK, I guess it's understandable that you were in a bad place back then. How about now. Let's talk about that novel, Murder in Mayagüez. It was a bit of a departure from your usual Franz Henle story. What did the critics think?

Jack (groan): Do we have to talk about it? That could put me right back into a bad place. Let's just say I've learned my lesson. From now on, I'll stick with my tried-and-true formula for success: Franz sails off to some idyllic island for some R-and-R only to get caught up in a murder investigation---of the non-magical, non-supernatural sort. My fans were not pleased.


LMH: Wow. I'm surprised it wasn't a huge hit. I mean, with your fabulous writing, and Señora Milagros providing the...shall we say "some magical oomph" on top? It should have been great. And really, can we be honest here? The typical vampire/supernatural book reader isn't all that discerning about the quality of the writing, right?

Jack: I'll give you that. But, my readers are. To be fair, the writing is some of my best and I can't fault Milagros for the story. It's a terrific story, but just nothing my fans expect. I guess Kiki had a point when she said my fans--like her dad--like their books to be formulaic and predictable. Anyway, can we change the subject?


LMH: OK. You first met Eddie back in Ye Gods! and since then, you've become great pals. Tell us about that.

Jack: Ed's a great guy. We have a lot in common, with my background in law enforcement and all, and our love of Inspector Clouseau and the Pink Panther series. I mean, how often do you meet someone who can rattle off those Peter Sellers lines like that? I was used to people looking at me like I was nuts when I'd throw one of those classic on-liners out, but Ed just picked up on it. He's just an all-around good guy. Rafi, too. They've come over to São Jorge a few times, and I've visited them in Puerto Rico. We even took a sailing trip to the BVI together--the two of them, and me and my agent, Gail Murphy-Majors. You remember her from Ye Gods!, right? She's a pretty memorable character.


LMH: Oooh, you and Gail? Is there something going on there we should know about?

Jack: It's complicated. You know, she's married to her job and the agency, lives in New York. And I'm down here in the islands, living this laid back life. Well, at least it's laid back when I'm not being manipulated by Milagros and trying to round up Kiki, Carmen, and the god.  Anyway, Gail and I, we complement each other, but if we were always together, we'd drive each other nuts. So, we're taking things slow and casual for now. But who knows? By the time the final book in the trilogy, Ye Goddess! A Tale of Girls and Gods, comes out maybe we'll have progressed to something a bit more defined?


LMH: We're out of time, Jack. It's been a pleasure talking with you. We'll be looking forward to seeing how things develop between you and Gail!
Thank you all for joining us. Now head on over to my website and send me a message on the Contact page to enter into today's drawing for a FREE BOOK!