March for Life 2016, fighting the evils of abortion & euthanasia

The March for Life is on today, and I’m watching the coverage on EWTN, the Catholic television channel. And it’s sad that so many people will refuse to watch the March and find out what the March is about. So many people don’t even know that the ‘Roe’ from the Roe v. Wade decision is now prolife. They don’t know how many young people like Lila Rose have become prolife advocates. And they don’t know about the Black Genocide— the fact that nearly 1 out of every 2 Black babies conceived dies by abortion.

I was not always prolife. During my youthful Marxist phase I was feminist and pro-abortion. From my childhood to my college years I had been prolife, and could not conceive of thinking any other way. My ‘conversion’ was not caused by discovering new facts about abortion and about when biological human life begins. It came because I was embracing a new way of political thinking, and abortion was a required part of being a Marxist and a feminist. The root cause of all these changes in my thinking was based more on being mad at God for not being what I wanted God to be, and in part because I had realized I had a gay sexual orientation and thought I would be an outcast from any Christian church that was worth joining.

I later discovered how false that is. When I joined the Catholic church I told people I was gay, and though I was already living a chaste life I didn’t expect to become ‘ex-gay’. No one said I couldn’t join the church. Some said kind things like ‘you are so brave!’ That isn’t entirely true, but you sure need a good dose of courage to be ‘out’ as a chaste, conservative and Catholic gay woman. Left-wingers would have eaten me alive if I had let them.

I think the most important thing to remember on the day of the March for Life is that we who are prolife cherish all life— even the lives of people who defend abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. We don’t hate women who have had abortions, since many post-abortive women are now cherished members of the prolife movement. We can be civil even to those of our fellow humans who earn a living as abortionist. We pray for them, and for the day when they repent and go to their first March for Life.

The feminist/proabortion movement can’t attain that level of civility, but we can’t really expect that. When you have decided that some human beings— those in the womb– can legally be killed, you can’t be expected to place as high a value on civil behavior. I respect the feminists right to their extreme opinions. But I won’t be a part of what they believe any more, which is why I am a Woman Against Feminism. (Angry feminists, please feel free to express your rage in the comments. Remembering to keep it clean or it won’t get published.)

Questions: Have you ever been to a March for Life? Or done any other prolife activity? What was it like?


Poem of the Day

I’m starting this blog feature appending poems to blog posts by offending everyone: I am sharing one of my own poems first, and it is a prolife poem decrying forced abortion and governmental control of childbearing in China. The poem used to be called ‘one child policy’, now, due to a change in China’s policy, the title has changed.

two child policy

while they are waiting
for the poison shot
chinese women sit together
and talk of small things

*there are beetles among my squash plants.*
*i need new knitting patterns.*

Nissa Annakindt 2013 – sijo (a Korean poetic form, similar to haiku)

To learn more about sijo poetry: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/sijo-poetic-form

 

A Writer’s Reading Plan

TalesfromShakespeareA writer reads. Always. And a smart writer often develops a reading plan to ensure that a helpful variety of books comes under the eye.

My own problem with reading sometimes comes from the fact that watching television is free, once you’ve paid for a television and the satellite or cable bill, and getting a new book means paying for a new book. Even a library book costs you for the trip to the library.

My earliest reading plan began around the sixth grade when I decided to read some of the ‘great books’.  The next year, my parents got me out of the public school hell and into San Jose Christian School. My seventh grade teacher had a daily reading period in which we were to read from her list of great books. I know one of the books on the list was Oliver Twist. I spent a lot of time on the book, reading it over and over again,  because if I admitted I was finished I would have to write a book report. Eventually I wrote the report and moved on to another book on the list, Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. It is a wonderful book which retells the Shakespeare plays in Shakespeare-like language.

Other reading plans were more like mad obsessions with a genre, an author, or a nonfictional topic. It is so much easier to read things you are enthusiastic about. But it has the hazard that you may cut yourself off from what you should be reading. I mean, if you are an author of Harlequin romances and you read only other people’s Harlequin romances, you are missing out on the better literature that the other Harlequin authors may be reading to bring their fiction up to a higher level.

For the past few years I haven’t been reading enough, in part due to poor household lighting and the resulting eyestrain. Last year I began reading more poetry books. I got some of the short poetry books from Dover publications— I’m currently reading Selected Poems by Emily Dickenson— and also something called Zombie Haiku, which is actually a short novel in the form of a series of haiku written by someone who became a zombie.

I’ve decided to make more trips to the local library, even though the selection is small there. I even did my first interlibrary loan to get a book of sijo poetry I had wanted to read. (It’s very difficult to find books of sijo poetry in English.) I don’t usually decide in advance what type of book to read, since at a small library there are not a lot of choices and I have to be open to what is there.

In the past, I have read deeply into some nonfiction topics which can be useful to writers. I’ve read a great deal of history of different countries and eras. I have also read a lot of books on homesteading and pioneer skills, which are handy for writing any fiction in which characters have and use such skills.

The main thing I plan to do is to spend less time in the evening watching television and more time reading. For this to work, I  will have to figure out how to get more light into the area of my reading light so reading is possible at night. I may get an old combination lamp-table rewired. It’s perfect as a reading light and the cats who can’t fit in my lap while I’m reading can lie on the table.

 

Recipe: Nut-Flax Hot Cereal – Low-Carb, Keto

It’s the new year, and a lot of people have started new diet plans. But too many dieters haven’t discovered the low-carb and ketogenic diets, which actually have loads of scientific backing. Plus, these diets are good for our brains. Writers need healthy brains.

Here is a breakfast recipe that is easy to prepare, even in the morning.

Nut-Flax Hot Cereal

This is a cereal that you can assemble ahead of time. Start out by getting 3 to 6 containers. You can use disposable plastic storage bags. Or you can buy a dozen Ball brand 1/2 cup jelly jars. If you can’t find the 1/2 cup (they are not easy to find, buy online) you can use 1/2 pint jars (1 cup). Or you can use small plastic containers.

In each container, put:

1 1/2 T(ablespoon) ground nuts (nut meal), pecan, walnut or almond

1 1/2 T shredded coconut meat, UNSWEETENED!!! (They carry it at my local Walmart)

1 T (or 1/2 T) ground flaxseed meal.

1/2 T chia seed (optional)

1/4 t(easpoon) sea salt

Put the lid on your containers and put away in a kitchen cabinet.

To make a serving of cereal, get out a suitable small cereal bowl, and empty the contents of one container into it. ADD one thin pat of butter.

Put on your teakettle and get some boiling water. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the boiling water to your cereal bowl. Make sure that the pat of butter gets hit by the hot water. Let the cereal sit 1-2 minutes. Add 1-2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream. If you want a sweet taste in  your cereal, add a bit of liquid or powdered stevia sweetener. If you buy English Toffee flavored liquid stevia, it gives the cereal a bit of brown sugar flavor. Add a pinch of cinnamon to it for a real taste treat.

The flaxseed meal is very good for you— but it does add a slippery texture to the cereal. Which is why you can cut the amount to 1/2 T. Or less, if you have a low-carb eater in the family that is fussy about this. But I’ve learned to put up with the weird texture of the full 1 T amount, and I like it just fine that way.

This recipe is based on Dana Carpender’s Hot “Cereal” recipe in her Fat Fast Cookbook. I’ve just added some butter and chia seeds and the make-ahead concept. Which is a natural since it is just as easy to prepare 6 servings as it is the single serving in the original recipe.

The one hard thing about the low-carb and/or ketogenic lifestyle is that it requires a lot of cooking, which leads to a lot of dishwashing. Which is something I can’t always face in the morning. So I make cereal ahead of time, and then I always have some acceptable food that I can prepare with very little effort.


Low-Carb & Ketogenic diets are DIFFERENT

Low-fat and calorie counting diets are temporary diets
Low-carb and ketogenic diets are ones you follow for life

In low-fat and calorie counting diets, feeling hungry is GOOD.
In low-carb and ketogenic diets, feeling hungry means you need to EAT some low-carb/ketogenic foods

In low-fat and calorie counting diets, you eat whole grain toast without butter.
In low-carb and ketogenic diets, you eat the butter but not the toast.

In low-fat and calorie counting diets you are urged to eat a lot of sugar-filled fruits.
In low-carb and ketogenic diets, fruit is something you avoid. You eat non-starch veggies instead.

In low-fat and calorie counting diets the goal is to cut down on what you eat.
In low-carb and ketogenic diets, the goal is to change over your metabolism to one that runs by burning fat.



 

Coconut_Bev_UnsweetenedIf you wish to avoid dairy and don’t like canned coconut milk, So Delicious Coconut Milk  beverage is a tasty substitute. The green carton is the unsweetened one.

Learning to introduce characters in a novel.

When you are beginning to write a novel, there are two ways to introduce each character: give too much information about the character, or too little. It’s hard to learn to do it just right.

One thing that helped me was to take out a novel with a similar amount of characters to introduce that was in the same genre (science fiction) and written by a traditionally published author.

I took out my writing notebook an analyzed the first few scenes. I wrote down on what page each character was introduced, and what information was given about each character. I noted who was the viewpoint character in each scene. When I was done I wrote a short summary of the scene.

This helped me a lot. I noted that in the novel at hand, three characters were introduced in the first scene and two different characters in the second. All were important characters in the whole novel.

Earlier in the morning I had started a first scene for my ‘Starship Destine’ novel. After doing the analysis on the professionally written novel, I came to the conclusion that in the rewrite I have to introduce smaller groups of important characters at a time. I also noticed that my model novel mentioned more specifics about the futuristic starship technology in these early scenes.

I think the method I tried today is something I ought to continue with— using a real, professionally published novel as a model to be studied. When reading, I tend to skim in search of excitement. But if I am reading specifically to learn and I take notes, I see things I wouldn’t see otherwise.

It also helped to see what things were mentioned about the characters in each scene. The viewpoint characters in the two scenes— who were the two most significant characters in the novel— had more information given about them. The other characters remained more of a mystery, though I did learn whether each was human or alien. Slight mention of the past history of the two major characters was even given.

For my writing tomorrow, I’ve decided to do a new scene with a different character, starting a little earlier in the story. I’m going to keep the other characters at a minimum, and introduce the initial crisis— an attack on the Terran Fleet Academy’s home world by unknown forces.

Of course that means I’m going to start a whole new scene 1. I’ve done two others. But I think in my case that’s just part of the way I get started. A couple of false starts clarifies things for me.

So, fellow writers: what have you learned through your writing today? And if you were to use a model novel to help you study an aspect of writing, what novel might you pick and why?

IWSG: Writing insecurity due to amateur writing advice.

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop.

Why are today’s writers so insecure? Well, why wouldn’t we be? We have an almost infinite supply of how-to-write advice available on the internet— and much of it is self-published material from amateur writers.

Now, just because a work is self-published doesn’t mean that it is bad. Lawrence Block has self-published both fiction and how-to-write nonfiction. James Scott Bell has self-published some how-to-write books, but also has professional publication through Writer’s Digest books and his fiction publisher. Both of these men, I would say, can prove that they can write well enough to get traditionally published and to be noted authors. They also have both served as a fiction writing columnist for Writer’s Digest magazine.

But the writing world has undergone big changes due to the availability of FREE self-publishing. The amateur writing stage is one we all go through— but the temptation today is to self-publish one’s youthful attempts and then begin promoting it as if it were more mature work. I’ve read a book review by a reader who thought a certain book was so amateurish it could have been written by a thirteen year old. Then the reader discovered it WAS written by a thirteen year old.

A writer still at the amateur/beginner stage may not know how unready his work is. So he plugs away at self-promoting with minimal success— perhaps joining blog hops like IWSG in order to get his writing blog noticed. For the audience of blog-hopping writers, one popular topic is how-to-write tips. And so the amateur-writer-blogger writes about how-to-write. He may even publish a book on how-to-write and it may outsell his amateur fiction by a good margin.

Now, advice from an established writer can make you insecure enough. I’ve read writing advice books by Stephen King, Jerry B. Jenkins, Holly Lisle and other writers I actually knew from their fiction. There advice may be good but it isn’t always the right advice for ME, or for the work I am currently attempting.

Much worse is advice from a writer who isn’t-there-yet as a writer. There are worlds of second-rate writing advice floating around there and many amateur writers can repeat it all as if it were Gospel. Some of the things that bad writing advice has you worrying about are things that skilled professional novelists don’t think about or plan, things that ‘just happen’.  Some will have you planning your novel for years, others will have you dashing ahead with a half-formed idea. For every type of young writer, there is a piece of bad advice out there that will convince you that the way YOU write naturally is wrong, wrong, wrong.

So— maybe it’s time to swear off running after writing advice. Read more books instead. Experience life a little. Learn a new language. Improve your knowledge of your native language. And remember that the only real key in becoming a confident writer is to write, and write, and write. Until you get good at it.

 

 

Space Colonization in Silverberg’s The Seed of Earth

SeedofEarthSpace colonization. I’ve been thinking about that quite a bit because of my current work-in-progress. And reading some novels that cover the topic.

The back cover of Robert Silverberg‘s The Seed of Earth puts it like this:

“The leaders of Earth intend to spread Mankind throughout the universe, until every habitable planet boasts a human civilization. 60 colony ships leave Earth every day on a one-way trip to the stars. Each ship carries 100 draftees. 6000 a day. 48,000 a week. Two and one half million every year. If your number comes up, one of them is YOU.”

And the story covers the selection of several people to be unwilling colonists, and their adventures on their new world.

Some key concepts from the book that I noticed:

The selection of colonists by means of a military style draft. Since the novel was written in 62, a great many of the male readers had experienced being drafted into military service. But the colonization selection process was quite harsh. Married couples were split, parents were divided from their children forever.

Motivation for the colonization is based on ‘Population Bomb’ fears. [‘The Population Bomb‘ was a 1968 book which claimed that most of those reading the book would soon die due to famines caused by ‘overpopulation’. ]  While the numbers of people sent off Earth was not enough to ease population fears, the fact that those who remained, subject to the draft, delayed childbearing since if a couple were childless, if one were drafted the other could volunteer, and they could go off to the new planet together.

Forced marriage is a part of the colonization scenario. Shortly after landing, the men pick out wives. The chosen women can refuse— until you get down to the last woman and the last man, I presume. No one seems worried about the fact if the whole colony marries on the same day, there might be a large number of pregnancies in the very early phases of colonization. Whereas if they waited for colonists to couple up, some might remain unmarried a few years, and the women of those couples can continue to work while the new mothers will be busy tending their babies.

Colonies are ‘sink or swim’ propositions. They have some modern tools and weapons, but replacing them, or getting more for new generations, is not a given. Mass colonization is an expensive enough proposition. Sending resupply ships to bring new tools, weapons and other items is another vast expense. The book does not state whether the colonists can expect this sort of help. There certainly is no constantly-available authority from Earth to guide the new colony.

The selection of colonists is wholly at random. The colonists drafted may have skills useful for a colony, or may be only useful as unskilled labor. There is no rule that states that each group must have a doctor or a biologist or a carpenter or a gunsmith.

Religious faith doesn’t seem to play a part. If Catholic priests are drafted there is nothing in the book to suggest that they will be permitted to remain unmarried. And there seems to be the expectation that all of the married draftees will abandon their Earthside marriages and take up new marriages on their colony. No provision is made for Catholic draftees to try to get annulments of their marriages. And since the colonists are selected at random there is every chance that there will not be enough religious believers from any one religion or denomination to create a functional congregation and pass down the faith. Now, this is very much in accord with the ideas of many sci-fi writers that religion will fade away just as Marx predicted. But real history shows us that when colonies have been made in the past, a common religion seems to have been useful.

The Seed of Earth is, of course, rather an old book. The short story on which the novel was based came out in 1957, the year before I was born. And the novel came out when I was four. But in a way, that’s what makes the book so educational for science fiction writers today. We don’t live in the world of 1957 or 1962. The presuppositions of that era have been replaced by new ones. And so we notice Silverberg’s presuppositions and can question them.

So— what if you were constructing a novel in which space colonization played a part? Where would your colonists come from? Would they be volunteers, draftees or a mix? How much support from Earth would they expect?

And one question that really intrigues me— what would happen if a colonization program got started in an era when people feared the Earth was facing increasing ‘overpopulation’, and then it was discovered that the reality was that Earth was, if anything, threatened by ‘underpopulation’ and the challenges of an aging population? What might that do to half-started colonies somewhere when the reason for the colonization program went away?

What the great writers had that we don’t.

Have you noticed the decline in writing quality in some newly-published books? I’m not talking about the self-published and small press novels, but the ones from major publishers. And when you compare today’s writing output not to the writers of a few decades back, but to the great writers of the English language, it’s clear that something is missing. And that something should really be put back.

What did the great writers have going for them? A number of things, in their education and homelife, that don’t really exist today. Let’s look at a few of them.

Foreign language. Education in the English-speaking world was originally centered on learning two foreign languages, Latin and Greek. As late as the time in which writer C. S. Lewis was being educated, Latin and Greek, with an emphasis on the grammar, were still essential parts of education. Today, by contrast, language learning materials have as little grammar content as possible, and most language learning materials instead are filled with sample conversations of generic tourists, business travelers or students. Very few people who have completed the required high school courses in Spanish are able to pick up a Spanish book and read it, or write a 300 word blog post in Spanish.

King James Bible. The young people of the past were absolutely drenched in the beautiful language of the King James Bible. It was the ‘Authorized’ version and as late as the time of my own childhood was THE Bible for Protestants. (The Douay-Rheims Bible was a similar traditional Bible for Catholics.) Young people heard the words of the King James Bible read to them in schools, school chapels, and in Sunday services. In many homes, there were family Bible readings as well. The result is that even people from religiously indifferent parents had the words of the KJV Bible as part of their cultural literacy— their shared cultural experience with other English speakers. Today, in American schools at least, the Bible in any translation is a banned book, though mockery of the Bible by teachers is apparently considered just fine unless the media gets the story. Even many Christians no longer read the KJV, preferring more modern, loose translations like ‘The Message’ that make the worlds of the Bible sound like something written by Dr. Phil. People lack the extra depth of English language knowledge that the former KJV immersion gave young people— something which was of great help in reading Shakespeare.

Shakespeare. Once the works of Shakespeare were the common property of the reading class. Children would get together with brothers and sisters to put on scenes from Shakespeare at home. People could refer to the plots of the best-known Shakespeare plays and expect that any literate person would understand the reference. But now schools have been dumbed-down enough that it’s likely that Shakespeare is reserved for the advanced English students only. Or, if state law requires reading a Shakespeare play before graduation, it is taught superficially by teachers that haven’t studied Shakespeare in any depth, so prefer to spend class time on pointing out Shakespeare’s racism and sexism, or debating whether the Bard was gay.

Letter writing. People used to communicate through writing letters. And there were rules in writing letters. You wrote in the best English you could. You asked after the other person and his family. You answered the questions your correspondent had asked in his letter. Some letters were worthy of being gathered into books and published. Now, people communicate through sharing pictures, memes and links on Facebook, and liking one another’s stuff. They don’t know enough to ask about their FB friends, or reciprocate. Many of them don’t even know it is less than polite to call other people morons over differences in opinion. They also text, which gives them the impression that correct spelling and language usage is a thing of the past. If you point out that when someone said ‘your a morone’ to you that there were some errors made, he calls you a grammar Nazi. Even young authors do this, unaware that what they write on their FB pages is a ‘free sample’ of their writing and should be as correct as they can make it to attract readers.

Boredom. The great writers of the past were blessed by times of boredom. They didn’t have round-the-clock television, the internet, smart phones or texting. So they had to do other things. Socialize with other people. Go to church. Read books— better quality books than what many people read today. Visit the sick and poor— it was the socially expected thing for the class of people most authors belonged to. Today, we don’t experience the blessings of boredom as there is always one new computer game to play, or one more ‘reality’ TV show to mindlessly consume.

Since we don’t naturally have the advantage that the great writers of the past had, it is up to us to make up for it. I think that one way of predicting whether a young person has what it takes to be a good author is to find out what that person has learned and done on his own. If all he knows has been force-fed him by our inferior schools, he has little hope of even knowing that he’s missing out on something.

But if the young person is an independent thinker, has perhaps tried to learn a foreign language on his own, or got on a ‘great books’ reading kick, perhaps he is independent enough to get the knowledge he will need to be a great writer someday.