Fiction with a Moral Compass

compass2We need more fiction with a moral compass. Not moralizing fiction, not, necessarily, fiction with a moral dilemma at the center of the plot. But, simply, fiction with a moral compass— a sense of right and wrong.

We have been living for some decades now with a publishing culture that rewards fiction without a moral compass. Think back to the advent of ‘bodice ripper’ romance novels. These novels were the first mainstream romance novels to feature explicit sex scenes that went on for several pages. In order to maintain the tradition at the time that the heroine was a pure-minded ‘good girl’, the storyline often included a rape— hence the name ‘bodice ripper’. In one historical novel of this type that I read as a teen, the romantic hero was a ship’s captain who got drunk in port and sent his men out to get him a prostitute. He failed to notice that the girl they brought him was a frightened ‘good girl’ until he’d taken her virginity.  In spite of the ‘accidental’ rape and a resulting pregnancy, the two ended up happily in love.

The ‘bodice rippers’ in their day were shocking and got attention for it. Now books must be far worse to garner such attention— such as the Dexter novels, featuring a serial killer as the first person narrator. But it’s OK for Dexter to indulge his desire to murder, because Dexter was raised by a cop and trained to kill only bad men who’d managed not to get caught by the police.

Fiction without a moral compass may be meant for entertainment purposes only, but it can have a negative effect on the moral values of impressionable readers. Young men who read the ‘hot parts’ of a bodice ripper may have gotten the idea that rape wasn’t so bad if you were a clean and handsome fellow, that women secretly fantasized about being raped and would accept it from a man they were attracted to. Readers of ‘Dexter’ might conclude that murder isn’t so bad if the murder victim wasn’t a nice guy.

Fiction with a moral compass can include characters who do immoral things. In some cases, characters who do immoral things and think those things are OK. But the authors of such fiction provide us with a fictional world in which there are moral absolutes, and if a character does wrong without thinking it’s wrong, it’s likely that some respected character will know that something wrong has been done and will convey it to the reader.

To write fiction with a moral compass, one must know the moral laws. In Western civilization, the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments have been a starting point when talking about the moral law. Catechisms of various religious bodies have expanded on the teaching of the Ten Commandments to cover more of the moral law than the Commandments explicitly mention. I remember reading a book which took place in rural Sweden about a century ago. The farming family felt under moral obligation to teach not only their children, but their servant girl, the Lutheran catechism. At that point in history and for some time thereafter, nearly everyone felt that young persons needed such moral teachings to become responsible members of society when adults.

Today, on the other hand, the school systems are occupied by those who would punish a child for mentioning the Ten Commandments in an essay, but insist that the children rebel against traditional moral teachings in certain areas of life. This is particularly intense in modern sex education, which often has the result of making the children believe that it is not possible to resist one’s sexual urges and so therefore teen sex is not a moral issue so long as ‘protection’ is used.

Many of us also lack the traditional religious education that an older generation received. When I was a child in the Sixties, the Presbyterian church we attended had 1 hour of Sunday school classes for all ages year-round. In addition there was a catechism class that my brother and I went to for a while. Now, the Presbyterian church my mother attends has Sunday school only for children, and only during the hour of the worship service. The children attend part of the service and then are dismissed to the Sunday school. The Sunday school also does not meet in summer. One wonders how well this abbreviated religious education can do in teaching children their Commandments and the moral law. And a great many more children these days don’t even get an abbreviated religious education.

It is of course not required that one be religious to have a moral compass. People who were raised in a Judeo-Christian religion and then left their faith tend to hang on to most of the moral values they were taught. Often they feel challenged to prove that they can be decent people without religion. The problem arises when you have people who never were taught the moral law, and who, being without religious belief, tend to dismiss mention of moral laws as part of a religious system they have rejected. Such people can all too easily that it’s OK to lie or to steal if they feel they have a good reason to do so.

Step one of learning to have a moral compass in your fiction is to improve your knowledge of the moral law. In C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, there is a section called ‘Christian Behaviour’ which deals with the moral law in a thoughtful, intelligent way. It is worthwhile reading for the moral-compass-fiction writer of any faith. After this you may seek out other worthwhile books on the moral law from a variety of points-of-view.

Question: are there any storylines possible in fiction that you feel are too immoral/amoral for you to write or to read? For example, suppose you had an idea for a novel in which a racist serial killer was the first-person narrator, and thus was given plenty of scope to explain why he thought his murders were morally OK. Suppose further that the novel was to include no contrasting character with better moral values, and that the killer was never to be confronted with the fact that his deeds were evil. Would you write a book like that, or read it? Why or why not?


Darkover: Do the Cristoforos know about Christ?

AltonGiftThis is a post about Darkover, a fictional world created by author Marion Zimmer Bradley and written about by other authors in Darkover anthologies and collaborations. Darkover is one of my Special Interests (something people with Asperger Syndrome get) and right now it’s one of the intense Special Interests.

Recently I re-read The Alton Gift, a 2007 Darkover book written by Deborah J. Ross based on MZB’s ideas about Darkover.  And a passage within the book gave me cause to wonder— do the cristoforos of Darkover know about Christ, or only about St. Christopher, whom they call ‘the bearer of burdens’?

This passage has Lew Alton, a guest at the cristoforo monastery in Nevarsin, talking with the head of the monastery, Fr. Conn. The topic of their conversation is forgiveness. Lew is suffering guilt because of his use of the Alton telepathic Gift, which is the gift of force telepathic rapport. Since the first rule of Darkovan telepathy is ‘enter no one’s mind unwilling’, any use of that Gift would seem to be a violation.

Lew asks in despair ‘Where in this world or the next is there any forgiveness for me?’ This would be a perfect opening, if Fr. Conn were a Christian, to talk about Christ and the cross and Christ’s atoning death. If the cristoforos have a valid priesthood and the Catholic sacraments, the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession/Absolution) would also come into play.

But instead Fr. Conn says ‘each man must discover the path to atonement for himself,’ and suggests that Lew Alton pray, not to God or specifically to Jesus Christ, but to the Bearer of Burdens, Saint Christopher.

Now, in orthodox/traditional Catholicism it is indeed kosher to address saints in prayer— but we are asking for their intercession. In other words, it’s ‘dear Saint Christopher, please pray to God for me that I be relieved of my burden of guilt.’ Not, ‘dear Saint Christopher from your own inherent God-like powers grant me relief from guilt.’ That second would be blasphemy to any Christian.

You may be asking, what difference does it make? Well, the difference is this: without knowledge of Christ, the cristoforos are not a branch of the Christian faith, but a mere cargo cult which happens to have Christian trappings. And given the high emphasis in all the Darkover novels on the Bearer of Burdens as the center of cristoforo faith, the cargo cult becomes unhappily likely. They do not even seem to know that the original ‘burden’ borne by Saint Christopher was the Christ-child!

Since I became a Christian and later joined the Catholic Church, I do like to think of the cristoforos as a legitimate branch of Catholicism. Perhaps, since the rediscovery of Darkover, even one in contact with Rome. There are some hints that the Darkovans seem to think the cristoforos and the Catholics in the Terran Empire are part of the same faith. But why would the cristoforos be so hesitant to speak about Christ?

Persecution might be one answer. If the cristoforos had been taught, generation after generation, to keep their mouths firmly shut when it came to the essential matters of their faith, that the Hastur-cult that the comyn, the telepathic ruling caste, followed would not brook the rivalry of an actively evangelizing cristoforo faith, it might be reasonable that the cristoforos tried to portray their faith as a harmless monastic cult concerned with education and devoted not to a god but to an obscure human saint. The secularist-inclined authors of Darkover might not even think of a situation like this as oppression but as a rational measure to keep the Bad Old Christians from oppressing the Hastur-cultists.

Another answer has nothing to do with the world of Darkover but with the inhibitions of modern-day secular fiction writers— even secular fiction writers who happen to be Christians. There is a taboo against explicitly talking about Jesus Christ, about the atoning work of the Cross, and about personal salvation and accepting Christ. Even Christian writers who write for Christian publishers might not include this explicitly lest it make their work too ‘preachy’.

So it may be that MZB— who was certainly rebelling against many Christian teachings during her Darkover-writing years— did not mention Christ in connection with the cristoforos, but did have an understanding that the cristoforos would have believed in Christ, written down what was remembered from the Gospels, baptized, and perhaps had the Eucharist. She may have simply felt that it ‘wasn’t done’ to explicitly mention these things.

I take a hopeful view on the cristoforos. If they are in fact Christians and not cargo-cultists, they are the entryway for Christians like me into the world of Darkover. They make Darkover a much more comfortable place than those science-fictional worlds in which Christianity, it is plainly stated, no longer exists, or exists only in the persons of crazy fanatics whose belief-system does not seem to include the essentials of Christianity.


Real Conservatives don’t Demonize Welfare Mothers

mother-on-welfare-300x297Recently I mistakenly ‘liked’ a supposedly conservative Facebook page, only to find posts which spoke about ‘welfare mothers’ in ‘that tone’. Honestly, I thought the conservative movement had outgrown that years ago, back when we started getting serious about prolife.

Poor women who accept government benefits are not the enemy. True conservatives know that, because most of them have had experience with helping out poor women, if only through donating imperishable food through their church to the local food pantry.

The thing conservatives love about welfare mothers is this: they didn’t choose to kill their children by abortion, even that’s what society pressures them to do. Welfare mothers are the heroines of the prolife movement.

It’s better when poor women can find jobs good enough that they no longer qualify for government aid. But at a time when good jobs are hard to find, many poor mothers won’t make it. Other poor mothers are restricted because they may have special needs children who claim a large share of their time that could otherwise go to working. It’s cheaper for the government to have the mother give this extra care than to provide a specialized caregiver at a high wage to let the mother go to work at a low wage! Plus, the mother cares more and may enhance her child’s chances of becoming a productive adult.

Some people imagine folks with Food Stamp benefits eating steak and lobster dinners every night. Not true. Food Stamp benefits are low enough that it’s hard to feed yourself and your family for a month on them without cutting in to the money that ought to be saved for rent, electricity bills, and laundry detergent. Food Stamp benefits do not go up when the price of food skyrockets. In fact, they may fluctuate downward for no apparent reason.

Some people look at pictures of fat poor people from the inner city and say ‘those people aren’t missing any meals! They aren’t going hungry’. But they are. Poor people eat cheap food, which is mostly starch— ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, Rice-a-roni, Hamburger Helper without the hamburger, microwave popcorn (yes, it’s a meal). Starchy foods— high carbohydrate foods— make you fat. They also make you hungry, since they cause your blood sugar to shoot up quickly and then crash down again. So people eat more, if there is anything available— usually more cheap starchy food for the Food Stamp recipient.

Poor people may not often literally starve to death on the streets, but they develop diseases related to the poor-people diet, including type-2 diabetes, which can kill you if you don’t take care of yourself. Poor people cannot afford the good diet that would be involved in taking care of themselves.

Conservatives have compassion for the poor and are the chief donors to charities that provide real aid to the poor. They are far less likely to try to mobilize the poor for their own political benefit than the other side is, however. You go eat a meal at a soup kitchen founded by conservative Christians, they are NOT going to demand that you sign up to vote Republican or participate in an anti-Obama rally.

Ignorant people who drag out that tired-old ‘welfare queen’ stereotype are not helping the conservative cause. Not only that, they are actively opposing the prolife cause, since part of the anti-welfare-queen dogma is that every poor woman is morally obliged to use contraceptive/abortifacient birth control pills/IUDs, with surgical abortion for a backup. (Since young people are usually poor at first— even if college grads— this means that if this rule is followed, most folks will never have kids because by the time they can afford it, they are no longer fertile. Resulting in a worker shortage which wouldn’t be good for the economy.)

So let’s all be real conservatives and help out the poor women on welfare. Give to the food banks. Support employment training programs for the poor, especially ones run by private citizens and not clueless government agencies. And let those welfare-queen falsehoods die a natural death.

Asperger Syndrome and Blog Commenting Anxiety

IM001173As a person with Asperger Syndrome my blog is my safe place in the wilds of the internet. I can post what I like, and if people want to bully me, harass me or insult me in the comments section, I just won’t approve their comments.

But I want my blog to be read. And so I participate in blog hops, which requires me to do something scary— comment on the blogs of strangers.

My Asperger Syndrome makes it very difficult to initiate contact with other human beings. I have a deep-seated fear I will just annoy them. My life experiences have shown me that no one is eager to be my friend, or even to communicate with me when it’s in their interest to do so. And commenting on a strange blog is a form of initiating contact.

Initiating contact is so much harder when you are afraid everyone will respond with hostility or indifference because you are a weird Aspie and don’t function like normal people. The tendency is to withdraw from others so you won’t be hurt any more. But I have to force myself to take the risk because I want the blog to succeed.

Before yesterday’s IWSG blog hop, I had been trying to comment on 3 blogs a day— often blogs I knew already. Yesterday, I made a total of 17 comments, nearly all on blogs I’ve never seen before.

The interesting thing is this— when you are making mass numbers of blog comments, it’s a bit easier than when you are only doing a tiny number. So I’m planning to continue down the IWSG list today, and make 10-12 comments today.

Will any of the people whose blogs I comment on rush out to read my blog? Probably not. But some may come to comment once in return. And in the technological magic that is the internet, perhaps that raises my blog’s profile. I don’t know.

My goal is to find some people who enjoy reading the sort of things I write about. Is that possible when I’m a weird Aspie who doesn’t write like a normal person? I don’t know. But maybe someone will come here for the kitten pictures and get hooked.

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Question: Do you find commenting on new blogs easy or stressful? How many blogs do you comment on during a typical day? How many blogs do you think you SHOULD comment on?


IWSG: How Does My Fiction Serve Others?

IM001105This is a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop.

Writing can seem like a selfish game. I spend hours at work on my fiction, and more hours scheming on how to promote myself-as-writer in the world of social media. I have Tweeted repeatedly to gain new readers for my serialized short story Death Untimely and my nonfiction Blogging Handbook for Fiction Writers. See? I’m even doing it right now in the middle of the blog post.

The way to overcome the selfish-writer thing is for me to take a good look at my work and ask myself ‘How does my fiction serve others?’ And I think every writer from time to time might ask that question.

One way my writing can serve others is as a source of non-vile entertainment. An important thing in these days when the evening television line-up seems to consist purely of risque programming, and a filthy sadomasochistic book is winning high praise from people who don’t know any better.

Another way it can serve others is by being free from the fashionable, socially acceptable forms of hate— hatred of Christians signaled by calling them ‘haters’ because they won’t change their faith as directed by leaders of leftist causes such as the the marriage redefinition movement. Hatred of Jews that’s OK because the haters call themselves anti-Zionist and ignore the fact that their beloved Hamas leaders are repeating the infamous and false ‘blood libel’ against the Jews. In the United States, hatred of all Republicans as ‘racist’ in spite of the fact that the party was founded for the purpose of freeing the slaves and the fact that black conservatives are highly popular as potential presidential candidates in Republican circles.

Another way my writing can serve is by being a source of information. I’ve learned a great many things over the years. Some of them can certainly be of use in my fiction. That’s better than creating some of the dumbed-down works of fiction we see today, especially in the YA category, to flatter readers into thinking they are knowledgeable by hiding the whole world of facts they are unlikely to know.

Finally, my work can serve by being accurate about things like the Christian faith, the Bible and the Catholic Church in a world in which many are spreading falsehoods. It seems unbelievable to me, but there are people out there who don’t even know what the Golden Rule is. No, it’s not ‘the guy with the gold makes the rules.’ It’s ‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you’.

And the Golden Rule illustrates what I’m trying to do with this blog post. I like it when people try to make me feel encouraged and uplifted about my writing. I hope I can make you feel encouraged and uplifted about yours. Your writing is not just a selfish thing— it can be part of a selfless mission to serve others. It’s up to you to find the ways that you can do that.


One way I like to help others is by giving them a ‘like’ on their Facebook author page. If you have such a page, give me the link in a comment and I will ‘like’ it if possible. (I can’t like pages that are pro-porn or pro-anti-Semitism because of my Catholic faith. But I don’t believe in judging you about it either.) My own FB author page is:

In Christian Fiction, the Death Stakes are Higher

Jesus. He's a Friend of mine.

Jesus. He’s a Friend of mine.

Writer James Scott Bell talks about the death stakes for fictional characters. Characters are threatened with literal death— their own, or that of a loved one— in many books. In others the death stakes are personal or professional death— the character is facing something that feels like a ‘fate worse than death’ — losing a job, failing to win the One True Love….

But in Christian fiction, death stakes can be higher than in secularist fiction. In a secular fiction book, if a character dies, he becomes nothing. He’s over. But he’s going to become nothing someday. Which can sometimes make the death stakes kind of tame, especially with older, disabled, ill or injured characters.

In Christian we’ve got time and eternity to worry about. A character might not only die, he might die when he is not ‘in friendship with God’, and thus be on the hell-bound train. Worse, in Catholic fiction a character who has been a Christian, has had faith, who commits a mortal (serious) sin who dies before sacramentally confessing that sin might get a ticket for that same hell-bound train. (Sincere repentance at the moment of death can stave off that fate, but still, it’s best to be sure.)

Christian characters in Christian fiction must also worry about the eternal fate of the bad guys. If they kill a bad guy in self-defense rather than managing to capture him, they are likely to send him straight to hell. And Christian characters are not allowed to be indifferent to even bad guys’ eternal fate.

One thing I like about C. S. Lewis’ ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ is the moment when the character Ransom wonders if he should be teaching Martian natives the catechism. At that moment his ‘death stakes’ include his sense of responsibility for doing what he can to insure that the future deaths of the Martians won’t be eternal ones.

The heightened death stakes possible in Christian fiction may cause envy among secularist writers. I remember a novel by Mercedes Lackey, Children of the Night, in which a monster that ate souls was attacking people, thus denying these people whatever sort of afterlife people in a Mercedes Lackey novel have (usually reincarnation).

There is of course a type of ‘comfort-food’ Christian fiction in which the heightened death stakes are not raised. Everybody in the story is comfortably ‘saved’ and all the MC has to worry about is which of her brothers-in-Christ is her One True Love and how she can overcome the obstacles to make him her marriage partner. (This storyline works best in the fiction of Evangelicals who believe the Once-Saved-Always-Safe doctrine.)

But for most Christian fiction writers, most of the time, the death stakes we work with are naturally higher. We need to remember that to use it to best advantage.

INFEC†IOUS: Left-Behind Apocalypse meets Zombie Apocalypse

infectious2In my endless search for something new (and relatively cheap) to read, I came across INFEC†IOUS by Elizabeth Forkey. The basic idea was to combine a Rapture-based End-Times apocalypse as in the famous Left Behind with the currently trendy zombie apocalypse. Zombie-ish, anyway. Elizabeth Forkey’s blog.

It follows the story of Ivy, a teenage Christian girl living in a Christian enclave, surrounded by zombies. The zombies are not Walking Dead type zombies— they are alive, physically at least, but infected by a disease that rots their bodies while they are yet alive. Only acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Savior can save them— but the majority of zombies want nothing to do with Christ.

Ivy goes through teen-girl stuff including a highly inappropriate romance, tries to keep the faith, and suffers a tragic loss. And when the book ends, her story will go on as there’s a sequel.

There are flaws in this book— many lapses in proofreading including unnecessary apostrophes, which I call ‘apostrophe atrocities’. And yet Mrs. Forkey pulled me into her story and kept me hooked in spite of the flaws. There is significant (Evangelical) Christian content in the book which helps balance out the teenage angst. I would recommend this book to anyone whose church teaches the Rapture theory of the End Times.

For Catholics like myself and for Christians from other churches who don’t accept the Rapture doctrine there may be some concerns about recommending the book to the theologically unsophisticated. But the answer, I believe, is not to reject Mrs. Forkey’s book, but to become better informed on one’s church’s teachings.  I list some books below for those wanting to be Rapture-knowledgeable.

All-in-all, I consider this book a great summer read for teenagers and the young-at-heart, and essential reading for those who love zombie fiction and/or End Times fiction.

Another Review of INFEC†IOUS

Questions: Do you read zombie fiction? What’s your favorite zombie novel? What about Christian End-Times fiction? What do you think of the idea of combining the two?


Rapture books:

Tim LaHaye: No Fear of the Storm (Evangelical, pro-Rapture)

Dave MacPherson: The Rapture Plot and The Incredible Cover-Up (Protestant, anti-Rapture)

David B. Currie: Rapture: The End-Times Error That Leaves the Bible Behind (Catholic, anti-Rapture)


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Christian Response to Scandal Re: Marion Zimmer Bradley

ShatteredChain2I’ve blogged about my love for Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover lately, and even started a Facebook page dedicated to the cristoforos of Darkover— a Catholic derived sect on the imaginary planet. And if both hadn’t been utterly ignored so far, I’m sure I would have been asked for my response to the scandalous accusations about Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The scandal is this: Mrs. Bradley’s husband, Walter Breen, was convicted of the sexual abuse of children and imprisoned. Now, 15 years after MZB’s death, an accusation was made that not only was MZB complicit in her husband’s sex crimes against children, but that she committed such crimes on her own. The Guardian: SFF Community Reeling after MZB’s Daughter Accuses Her of Abuse

Some of the responses in the blogosphere are so extreme that they not only demand that no further reading of MZB’s books should happen, there is the suggestion that the books should be burned. (Imagine what these book-burners would have said if conservatives offended by the homosexual characters in some of the Darkover books had held a book-burning because of that.)

I don’t believe that’s the appropriate response. As a Christian I believe that we are all sinners. We have all violated God’s moral law. And any violation of God’s law— from a simple bit of cruel gossip to serial killing— is bad enough to cut us off from God. So therefore we must respond to any accusation— or conviction of a person with the knowledge we ourselves are also guilty sinners. Only the death of Jesus Christ on the cross made it possible for any of us to be forgiven.

I read the Psalms of David in the Bible. This is what David once did: he spied on a woman bathing from his rooftop, and instead of turning his eyes away he sent for that woman and seduced her. And when the woman became pregnant, David sent her soldier-husband out with sealed orders that the man be sent on a suicide mission. This happened, and the man died, murdered by the king he served.

Can any decent person read the writings of a man so vile as to commit such a wicked crime? I know, David said he was sorry— after God sent a prophet to admonish him for his secret crimes. But we all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God, and so we keep the Psalms of David in our Bible— not even Martin Luther, who wanted to expel James and Revelation from the Bible, suggested that— we read the Psalms of David, and we use those Psalms, along with Psalms by other authors, as the basis for Christian prayer and worship— in the Mass and in Protestant services, in the Divine Office prayed by priests and religious, and in Psalm-based hymns.

Christianity not only points out our sins— even the sins we didn’t think were so bad— it provides a cure. And it is even possible that Marion Zimmer Bradley experienced that cure. I started reading her because, as a Neopagan at the time, I’d heard MZB was some kind of Neopagan or Wiccan. But I heard that later in her life, MZB attended an Episcopal church. So there is the possibility that MZB repented her sins— whatever those were— before her death, and received God’s forgiveness. And if God can forgive child abusers and serial killers, maybe we should be more forgiving as well?

MZB’s fictional world of Darkover is flawed, as all such worlds are, but it has brought intense happiness to Darkover fans. I intend to keep reading and to buy the new Darkover books being written by Deborah J. Ross, even though they don’t compare to the MZB-written earlier books.

Question: what would YOU do if your favorite writer did something very wicked, or was accused of it? Writers: what if YOU someday commit a notorious crime— is it fair if your books are tarnished because of it?

Death Untimely: Saturday Spec-Fic Snippet blog hop

Cover #3

Cover #3

Rap! Rap! Rap!

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” said a weary young voice. “You don’t need to knock down the Pearly Gates.”

The massive gates creaked open, and Sarah knew she should be at least a little nervous, but she was too angry for that. She’d been cheated.

Sarah pushed through the gates before they were more than halfway through, bowling over the young man opening them. He was short and dark eyed, and his appearance shifted— sometimes he looked like a mere child and sometimes like a man of twenty. Sarah hadn’t been dead long enough to learn that was a common look in those who died young.

“OK, I’m in,” she said. “Where do I find someone in charge to speak to?”

“Well, I’m, I’m manning the gate right now, I’m Rafe— Rafael for long—”


Read more on Wattpad:

This is my ‘serialized’ story on Wattpad. To see alternate covers, and vote for your favorite in the comments, view:

It’s a fantasy story (and so don’t expect 100% theological accuracy), and, be warned, it gets kind of Catholic in later sections. It’s kind of a ‘lite’ story, it was intended to be short enough to be part of a blog post, but it got a little longer in the writing.

This is my post for the first-ever Saturday Spec-Fic Snippet blog hop, and I hope that we’ll have a few participants other than me this time.  Why am I posting this when it isn’t Saturday yet? Well, the blog hopping will be Saturday, but the posts have to be written earlier to get them into the link list. Except for the people joining up at the last minute on Saturday.

If you want to join the blog hop, here is the post with the rules: Please read the rules before participating!

Here is the link code:

get the InLinkz code

UPDATE: Saturday morning, and we only have 2 participants counting me. So I commented on the other blog, tweeted the post and mine using #specficsnippet, and hope for the best. Going to check later on for last minute participants, and do more tweets. I have some questions for participants and potential participants of this very new blog hop:

Do you think the blog hop should be weekly, monthly— or perhaps monthly for now and weekly later?

Do you think tweeting the other participant’s blog posts is a good practice for the blog hop?

Do you think we should have a logo or graphic? What should it look like?

(I already know that the InLinkz is not as nice as the ‘linky’, but that one now costs money which I don’t have. I’d prefer one that puts a list of participants on the page, if I could find a free one.)

Are ‘Erotica’ Writers ‘Sex Workers’?


This post discusses adult topics. If you are not old enough for that, please look at the kitten and then move on. It is also controversial— on purpose. If it makes your head explode, good. Your head probably needed it.

There is a trend these days to use the euphemism ‘sex worker’ to describe both strippers and prostitutes— which is good for the prostitutes, not so nice for the non-prostituting stripper. But what about the writer of pornographic fictional works— or ‘erotica’ as we are encouraged to call it? Aren’t they doing the same job as other sex workers— providing sexual pleasure to their clients (readers) for money?

I have a confession to make. I wrote a sex fiction book once. Or at least the beginning of one. And with my Christian upbringing and my voluntary choice of Christian colleges for my education, I surely knew better.

I was beginning to write seriously for the first time. I had read Lawrence Block’s ‘Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print’ and LB was kind of my writing mentor at the time. I knew from the book that LB had written soft-core pornographic books to make ends meet while he was learning the writer’s craft. (I also knew that LB’s first novel, published under another name, was a non-porn ‘sensitive’ novel about lesbian life, which moved me since I was coming to grips with my sexual orientation at that time.)

Even though Lawrence Block was quite clear that modern porn books, unlike the soft-core ones he wrote, were not worth doing because they paid so poorly, I was tempted. And so I bought a few porny books to learn how to describe acts I’d never experienced and set to work.

It’s not something I’m proud of. I was still a Christian at that point in my life— this was just before the personal crisis which led me to reject Christianity, and, later, to embrace Neopaganism and Leftist/Marxist politics— and I knew that pornography books were a means of leading people into sin. The sin of impure thoughts, at the least.

Later, when I became a feminist (I’ve outgrown that since) there were other reasons why I knew pornographic-book writing was the wrong thing to do. It objectifies women— that is, it makes women into mere objects for the lust of men, instead of persons in their own right. It trains men to think of sexual pleasure with women as something they can buy, the way they buy pornographic novels.  (Some modern ‘erotic romance’ turns the tables by objectifying men.)

The problem is, being a sex worker, either by writing filthy books or by the more direct physical means of prostitution, gets you no respect whatsoever. Just think— the people who make decisions on who to give book awards to are overwhelmingly leftist/progressive and fully embrace the Sexual Revolution. Yet pornographic novels never are under consideration for these awards.

Part of the problem is that sex books don’t work like novels. A novel is a vivid fictional dream— while reading, you are unaware of the outside world. A sex writer’s job is to make the reader wake up from the fictional dream often to notice his own state of sexual arousal. An erotica writer who doesn’t manage to provoke sexual arousal in the readers doesn’t get far in that field.

The thing about sex is Continue reading