Red fiction, blue fiction

When I was younger and far more naive, I had this idea about the publishing world: Since the nation is increasingly divided between red and blue, publishers would seek a solution.

They would discover a budding Stephen King, a progressive. They would publish his work under one pen name in book with a blue spine. They would have a conservative ghost writer (using a Ouija board?) do a rewrite, pulling out all the progressive stuff and putting in sound conservative stuff. That would be published under a different pen name, in a book with a red spine.

People would read the authors that spoke to their worldview the most. And in time they would figure out the red/blue coding on the book covers. Writers would no longer have to cover up their worldview to get published, since every writer would be coming out in 2 editions with different viewpoints and names.

Readers in the know would collect both the red and blue versions of authors and they would guess which version was the original and which altered by ghost writers.

But, as I said, this was a naive idea. The scary idea is that progressive publishers, like other progressive businessmen, do not want our business. They think we are racist (even mixed race people like me) sexist deplorables. Haters because we love Jesus Christ and don’t want other people to face a Christless eternity in hell. Rather than seeking our dollars they seek to have our businesses go out of business or our employers fire us for being ‘haters.’

But conservative and/or Christian writers and readers have options. There is indie fiction, and there are small presses where our world view is the norm. By the same token, if you are so progressive that progressive publishers seem conservative, there are publishers that are more ‘out there.’ I know of several lesbian publishing houses and a feminist one. I’m sure there are general far-out progressive ones as well. And if you are too far out for them, there is the indie route.

Still, I think it was better when writers and fiction producers (in television and movies) wanted a broad audience. When Gene Roddenberry had to tone down his ideas of futuristic temporary marriages and an Enterprise chapel without chaplains, because he and the network wanted to INCLUDE conservatives and Christians in their audience base.


Commenters: your thoughts on the red/blue divide, publishing today, and indie fiction are welcome. Trekkies who want to go on a rant on how much better the Original Trek was than the new thing are also welcome.

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Broad-spectrum Christian fiction

For some people, Christian fiction means Evangelical Christian fiction— books from a handful of publishers representing an handful of flavors of Evangelical. “You can’t write Christian fiction, you’re Catholic!” is what you hear from the naysayers.

But Evangelical Christian fiction is not the sum total of Christian fiction. It arose, I think, because there were once a large number of Evangelical churches who condemned reading ‘worldly novels’ the way they condemned drinking alcohol, dancing and wearing make-up.

The problem is, Christians are readers. Protestant/Evangelical Christians are urged to have daily Bible reading habits. Catholics are often urged to do Lectio Divina — aka Bible reading— and to read Catholic religious books. So it’s natural that those Evangelicals who were taught that reading ‘worldly novels’ was wrong wanted some non-worldly fiction to read. You can’t read prayer books and sermons forever.

Evangelical Christian fiction has done well for itself. The ‘Left Behind’ series showed that even Evangelical fiction with strange theology most Christians didn’t know about (the Rapture theory) could become best-sellers, going far beyond the realm of Evangelical Rapture-believers. (Some Evangelicals don’t believe the Rapture theory.) I was a Norse Neopagan when I got hooked on the Left Behind books.

At one time most of the fiction produced in Western Civilization was written by Christians. Some of them, like Machiavelli, author of ‘The Prince’ may have been only nominal Christians— Christians in name only. Christian themes in fiction were normal and acceptable. Think of Jane Eyre, or Dracula. There was enough Christianity there that if they were first written today, most literary agents and publishers would demand the books be secularized to be published.

When I was in school at San Jose Christian School, our teacher Mrs. Stark had a group of novels at the back of the room that were very Protestant Christian fiction. One was set in Germany at the time of the Protestant Rebellion (“Reformation”) and the characters were all associated in some way with Martin Luther (founder of the Lutheran church.)

I have also read old Catholic novels from the 1950s, and I have read the books of Orson Scott Card, a man of the Latter-Day Saints church who managed to become a Hugo Award winning writer without hiding his faith. His ‘Lost Boys’ is a story featuring an LDS family who are living out their faith.

I think that Christian fiction readers and writers need to take a broader view of Christian fiction. Is it really better for an Evangelical Christian to read a secular book by an angry atheist than to read a Catholic author? We are all followers of Jesus Christ even if some of us have *wrong* theology.

Some people would say it’s OK to read Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical fiction, but they draw the line at Mormon. After all, that religion is in the book ‘Kingdom of the Cults.’ Well, is that how we are called to judge other Christ-followers— by whether their church is in the book ‘Kingdom of the Cults?’ As a Catholic I believe that the Mormon teachings include a lot of incorrect theology. But isn’t Mormon fiction a little closer to what we should be reading than fiction that calls Christians ‘haters’ and ‘unintelligent’, and promotes angry atheism?

Christians/Christ-followers of different kinds can work together to make Christian fiction a more viable and exciting genre. We can help authors sell their books and readers find new reading material. It’s better to work together that to break up into ever-smaller groups looking for only writers with perfect doctrines.

The image above is of Catholic author Karina Fabian’s sci-fi novel Discovery. I read it cover to cover and when I had come to the end, I liked it enough to immediately start again at the beginning and read it a second time. I very much recommend it to sci-fi fans.

WW: A Sci-Fi military must know that it’s the military

Our Worldbuilding Wednesday topic is: Military. More information on the Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop below.

The one thing your fictional Sci-fi military must do is know that it is the military. None of this crap they put out in the recent Star Trek movies ‘I thought we were explorers.’ What did you think the Enterprise’s phasers and photon torpedoes were there for? What about those military ranks? And the fact that disobeying an order can result in a courtmartial, not just getting fired as in the civilian world?

Star Trek is stupid on these points because it’s a brilliant idea ruled over by whiny Leftists. You can’t expect better from them. That’s why I didn’t bother to watch more than a few minutes of ‘Star Trek Discovery.’ I knew it would suck and it did. So I spend my time seeing if Ice-T could solve the murders of Tupac and Biggie. (I think he needed help from Mariska Hargitay.)

A military uses force for the common good of society. Yes, they kill people. And that’s sad. But when you have an enemy army pouring over your nation’s borders, you need to kill some people to stop it. Probably most of the people you kill will be nice people who are only doing what their government tells them to. But if you don’t want your nation ruled by a Stalin or a Hitler, you will need to get your hands dirty.

A police force also uses force for the common good. Sometimes good police officers shoot and kill a dangerous looking person that turns out to be young, or unarmed. But the problem is that you can’t always tell if that dangerous or defiant guy is young or reaching for a stick of gum instead of a gun. What would happen if officers failed to stop a dangerous-looking guy who went on to kill 10 school kids?

In my WIP Tiberius Base, there is a Fleet which was once answered to the Terran Council. Only the Terran Council disbanded years ago. The Fleet goes on, protecting Terran worlds and doing a little trading on the side to fund themselves. Because they now no longer receive funding from the taxpayers as they once did.

The space city Tiberius Base is owned by Fortunate Dragon Company, which is a part of the Interplanetary People’s Republic. The IPR has a political/economic policy called Alliterism, which has a bad reputation on many worlds. So Fortunate Dragon hires the Fleet to provide people to operate the Base’s weapons, and some to function as a local police force. This requires them to create laws that are a sort of hybrid of what the IPR wants and what the Fleet will stand for.


This has been a post in the Worldbuilding Wednesday blog hop, sponsored by Rebekah Loper. Visit her blog at: https://rebekahloper.com/

Intermittent Fasters must be prepared

If you decide to try intermittent fasting— fasting for less than a day— you have to be prepared. You have to be prepared with correct information about fasting— as in reading a good book about fasting such as The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. You also need to be prepared in other ways. You need the right foods for fasting— both in the few things you are allowed to consume while fasting, and the foods you need for good ketogenic diet meals afterwards.

You may feel, after reading the fasting book by Dr. Fung, that you can do it with fasting alone, eating carb-containing meals during your eating times. After all, he got started in recommending fasting because some of his patients were not following the rules for a ketogenic diet— they would give up bread but not flatbread or noodles.

This is the big temptation of the Intermittent Fasting lifestyle— you get through your fasting time— perhaps you get ready to break your fast at 2pm instead of noon. And then you get tempted. You’ve eaten nothing for a lot of hours— and so don’t you deserve a donut? A candy bar? A slice of pizza? And actually when you do IF, you can get away with it sometimes. I’ve had a carby meal on days when I only ate one meal, and the next morning had an OK blood sugar. And then I did the same thing the next day, and ate more carbs because I was so hungry, and had bad blood sugar the next morning.

IF and a ketogenic diet go together. If you are on a ketogenic diet, you are less hungry because you don’t have carbs shooting up your blood sugar and making you hungry for more carbs. Very often when I was doing the Atkins diet, I’d skip a meal because I just wasn’t hungry. This is how some people get into IF. They start skipping breakfast because they are unhungry on their ketogenic diet, they learn about IF and they just formalize their meal-skipping into intermittent fasting.

Fasting does not have to be water alone. You can drink unsweetened coffee or tea. You can also have some broth. When you are feeling bad on a fast— or even on starting a ketogenic diet like Atkins induction— drinking a cup of broth can help. Part of that is the salt in most broths. If you make your own bone broth, be sure to add an appropriate amount of salt. I add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon to a cup of bone broth.

Dr. Fung, in the fasting book, allows you to put a small amount of cream or oil in your coffee or tea. Kind of like bulletproof coffee, but with smaller amounts. You are allowed this once in every fasting day. This makes it less than a total fast, but some people really need this mini-bulletproof coffee or tea in order to make it through fasting, at least the first few times. It means you have to have coffee, tea and cream and/or oil in the house if you are starting a fast, also broth— either homemade bone broth, or the less-ideal commercial bouillon cubes or powder.

You also need to have the right foods in your house for a ketogenic friendly meal. I am in less than ideal health, and find that sometimes I just don’t have enough energy when the time comes to break the fast to cook a full ketogenic meal. I need to have some things that are easy to prepare or can be made ahead of time.

Right now, I’m making a lot of the chocolate milk recipe from Dana Carpender’s Fat Fast Cookbook (page 76). The original recipe calls for using canned full-fat coconut milk. I usually sub a little heavy whipping cream for some of the coconut milk, since I do eat dairy. But last time I used coconut milk alone and it was still good enough.

I also like to have cold cuts and cheese slices (not the wrapped-in-plastic American cheese) so I can make roll-ups— an easy low-carb answer to sandwiches. I always have cans of tuna in the house. I get the kind with olive oil as that is healthier.

My hope is to be well enough prepared to be able to eat ketogenic even when I’m tired or don’t feel like a lot of cooking. Last year I was sick for over a month and didn’t have any appetite— which was good because I couldn’t get out to the stores regularly and I couldn’t get people to drive me very often. I lost a lot of weight, but when my appetite started coming back I started buying bread and making myself sandwiches— which was a hard habit to kick.


My current fasting experience:

I’m trying to do Intermittent Fasting daily until at least 11am. I need to work more on quitting eating at a regular hour— I currently stop eating some time between 5pm and 8pm. Later eating gives me bad morning blood sugar. I tried a 24 hour fast one day when I had bad morning blood sugar. I went 26 hours, felt OK, and my blood sugar went down to a much more normal level. (I might point out that I am no longer on any blood sugar medications, which is why I don’t mention doctor visits before the fast to adjust meds.)

 

#Micropoetry should be Tweeted

Poetry is dead? No, not really. Not on Twitter, anyway. There is a brave gang of us brave fools who share our shortest poems there— #micropoetry. There are a lot of #haiku. Some of them are actual haiku and others are more #senryu or other short poems.

Micropoetry is a great fit for our age when we have no attention spans and are trained by the FakeNews media to think in slogans and soundbites. Just as the longer poems were a fit for the Victorian age when local newspapers printed poems regularly and people read them.

Asian short poetic forms are a good fit for Twitter poetry and micropoetry. The sijo poem is too long to fit into a Tweet, but some have shared them in graphic form as Twitter poetry. Haiku is a natural. I often do Collom lunes, a poetic form of 3-5-3 words. I checked the hashtag #CollomLune and found others besides myself had used it, especially an antisemitic pro-palestinian fellow who is very persistent in his use of the hashtag.

I have been neglecting my poetic life for a few months and work up determined to do something about that. I looked up Collom lune online again so I could read a few and be inspired. Then I walked into the kitchen and saw a mother cat with a baby. Not actually HER baby, but a baby. And memorialized it in a Collom lune.

Cat Mama

cat sits on

small box. kitten is nursing

from her anyway.

 

Of course, Tweeting my poem, submitting it on Micropoetry.com, and posting it in this blog post mean that I can’t submit the poem to most poetry markets. But since poetry markets don’t pay, and most are aggressively unfriendly to conservative voices, I’m not worried about that. I can always include them in my next poetry book. Which I ought to start writing one of these days now.

Where the Opium Cactus Grows: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0557939135/

Successful writers need to know grammar & spelling

Once upon a time, the uneducated writer had a chance. If a publisher decided he was a good writer in spite of his bad grammar and spelling, there were loads of qualified proofreaders to bring the book up to a literate level.

Today, the problem is that most younger people were raised by wolves (the public school system) where basic skills were neglected even when they had teachers who actually knew grammar and spelling. Now that the new generation of teachers believe ‘speling doesint counte’ school children don’t have a chance.

But readers tend to judge writers by their correct grammar and spelling skills. Most habitual readers pick up a certain amount of knowledge of these things from reading properly proofread books. They may not know all the rules, but when a writer violates a rule the reader knows, trust is lost.

The writing world today is divided between indie and traditional publishers. The indie writer without English skills can’t self-edit or self-proofread. He can hire an editor or proofreader, but if that editor or proofreader misses 50% of the writer’s mistakes, how will the writer know?

In traditional publishing, a publisher may still take a chance on an uneducated writer, especially if that writer is poor, a racial minority, and/or progressive enough. But where do traditional publishing houses get enough good enough proofreaders when their old ones retire or die? I’ve noticed books seem to have more uncorrected errors of spelling and grammar than they did when I was younger.

The solution for the aspiring writer with poor English knowledge is to LEARN! You must learn correct spelling. You must learn correct grammar. If you can produce mostly-correct manuscripts, you can come up with a better final product than if you were spelling-and-grammar impaired.

Most of us are familiar with spell-check software. If you have a spelling problem, look up every word marked as incorrect in a dictionary. Write down the correct version of the word you want. Practice spelling it correctly. Also look up ‘spelling demons’ to find the misspellings that your spell-checker doesn’t catch.

If you have grammar problems, you need to study grammar. Using a grammar-check program like Grammarly might help, but you need a basic understanding of English grammar to really master good grammar.

One additional method that I have used myself is to learn a foreign language. I took German classes since junior high school, and the classes were full of German grammar. Since the English classes at that level were more about making me read the right books (not classics, but books with Black characters and civil rights themes) I learned more about grammar from studying German grammar than taking English class.

Creativity and originality are great qualities in a writer. Just not when it comes to grammar and spelling. You want your readers to have confidence that you are a ‘real’ writer and know the English language well. Spelling and grammar help. And, as in the example in the graphic above, can keep you out of prison.

Valdemar: Fantasy Fic with Big Govt Programs

I’ve been reading Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series for years, but some things about the series rub me the wrong way. Valdemar is a fantasy series set in a medievalish kingdom with magic horses called Companions. As a medievalish society it should be…. not progressive, socialist, or other modern things. And yet, it is.

In the novel Take A Thief, which tells the early history of the character Skif, it is told that the Crown has decreed that the school kids in the capital Haven get a free meal at government expense. It isn’t mentioned that the free meal is limited to the poor by any test of means. But it is mentioned that children who get through the mandated elementary education have to leave school and thus miss the free meal.

Another question is the education itself. In various Valdemar books it claims that Valdemar mandates elementary education for children though it seems that since the education is carried out by the various religions that perhaps Valdemar is requiring the religions to fund the schools rather than spending its own taxpayer funds on it.

The question arises: how does a medievalish fantasy world even come up with the idea of such big government programs? In the real world they didn’t come along until later. In part because medieval central governments were weak and the local lords had more power over the everyday life of their people.

The free meal program might have been a part of the normal charity programs of a medieval society, but only if it was confined to the poor. They hadn’t invented the concept of handouts for all classes of people yet. Even in our country the idea of a free summertime school lunch for all income levels (yes, that is a government program) is controversial.

And then there is the idea of education for all. In the medieval societies, most occupations didn’t require education or literacy. It seems a silly burden to impose on children who will grow up to be farmhands or carpenter’s assistants or street sweepers. Now, if Valdemar had a state religion, there might be a call for universal religious training, which might, like the first Sunday Schools, include reading and arithmetic training. But Valdemar decrees ‘No One True Way’ and that seems to mean that its religious picture is one of dozens of varieties of polytheistic paganism.

Now, the reason medieval societies didn’t have the full list of big government programs is that they cost the central government more money than it could raise by taxation. Medieval people, like people today, didn’t like high taxes. Why risk a tax revolt to fund social programs when the Crown had more immediate needs like funding an army for when wars happened? Or for when subordinate provinces rebelled and needed to be reconquered— perhaps because of a revolt against high taxes?

Of course the real reason fantasy worlds like Valdemar have anacronistic Big Government programs is that there are fantasy readers and writers who are Progressives/Socialists/Leftists who love these programs so much (because they never had to live on them) that they put them in to their fantasies whether they make sense or not. And that’s OK. But I’d like a fantasy world with less government and more freedom, personally.