Celebrating “Forbidden Thoughts”

forbidden-thoughtsIn my vast and disorganized collection of science fiction & fantasy books, I have a lot of stuff from the ‘good old days’ when speculative fiction was exciting, including one volume of early Hugo award winners. Some of the more current SF & fantasy books just seem dull and predictable, and the politically correct propaganda it contains is so inferior to Nazi and Soviet propaganda that even it doesn’t arouse my interest.

And then comes Forbidden Thoughts, edited by Jason Rennie and Ben Zwycky, forward by Milo Yiannopolos (flamboyantly Gay conservative activist— or maybe he’s more libertarian. But all the right (Left) people are rioting to keep him from speaking in public). On the back cover it says ‘You are not allowed to read this book. Don’t even think about reading this book. In fact, just forget about thinking all together.’  And it delivers on its promise to skew the Sacred Cows of our day in the many short stories, one poem, and a few non-fiction essays in the book.

My favorite is the short story ‘World Ablaze’ by Jane Lebak, about a nun trying to live her vows in a world where that, and Christianity in general, seem to be illegal.  Other stories come from Sarah A. Hoyt, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Vox Day, John C. Wright, Chrome Oxide, Brad R. Torgersen, and Nick Cole. The poem at the beginning is by Ben Zwycky— I have a book of his poetry and like it.

Now, I found out about many of the authors in the book through a Facebook group, Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance. And since I myself am a conservative with libertarian tendencies, you might assume that all the ‘forbidden’ stories in the book line up with my own personal beliefs. But a wide variety of ‘forbidden thoughts’ are included in the book, some of which I strongly disagree with— though that seems to be the point. But I was able to enjoy the book as a whole since even the stories that bother me are daring and exciting, and make me wish I could write like these authors do.

So this book is the main thing I am celebrating today— along with the idea that there is still room in SF and fantasy for exciting, idea-driving fiction.


Worldbuilding series

storyworld-first1

Recently I read a book (Ebook) called ‘Storyworld First, by Jill Williamson. It’s about creating science fiction and fantasy worlds and I think it’s quite useful. Jill Williamson is a Christian author writing for the Evangelical fiction market and I really loved her dystopian series ‘The Safe Lands.’

Now, I have been considering for some time writing a series of articles on this blog about aspects of worldbuilding, and this book inspired me to take the idea more seriously. The first article I have in mind is about storybuilding as you go along, as happens in long-running open-ended series such as Darkover, Pern, Valdemar and others. Others will follow, especially if the series of article proves to be of interest to readers.


Chicken #221 Update

0303171014My frostbitten-feet chicken #221 continues to survive, though he’s lost one foot to frostbite and the remaining foot looks dead and useless. I’m not so sure why I’m so set on keeping him alive, since he’s an older male Araucana and my only other Araucana chicken is a hen just as old as he is, who isn’t a very good egg layer. Though she’s very good at escaping the pen she lives in. I rather doubt that #221 is going to be able to breed the hen in his condition, and I’m not so sure I want to keep on with the breed at this point. But as long as #221 seems happy enough, I suppose I will keep tending him. He really enjoys it when I put mealworms on top of the chicken food in his dish. And he gets around his little cage pretty well. I may even give him a name before long.


This has been a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

Celebrate blog hop

Celebrating poverty

Celebrate blog hopFor this week’s installment on the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, I’m celebrating my poverty. Celebrating poverty? Yes.

Poverty actually is a good thing for a writer or poet. It means you can’t afford a lot of the things that might distract you. If you could afford a brand-new sports car, you’d probably spend a lot of time on the road trying it out. Time that could be spent writing, or reading books that would count as research for your writing projects.

And poverty gives you a chance to do creative things other than writing. I sew, make bread, and do a lot of cooking-from-scratch in part because it saves money, but it also gives me a creative outlet that is different enough from my writing to be a good break from it.

Since the business of the writer is to make trouble for characters, experiencing a little poverty first-hand is a way to learn to be more realistic in your writing about characters in poverty. This might not help you with the upper-crust reader who knows all about poverty from reading what upper-crust poverty experts have to say about it. But to readers who grew up poor or are poor now, you can make a strong connection by having this knowledge and personal experience.

Another factor is that the writer-in-poverty can’t just buy any book they want. They are more likely to give library books a try, or temporarily-free ebooks. And I think you can learn a lot more by trying books out of your normal reading rut of the same authors in the same genre. Poverty made me try Amish romance— not my chosen genre by any means, but in good examples, such as those by Beverly Lewis, they are well worth reading, giving you a picture of an entirely different group of people living a different life.

Critters:

Chicken #221 is on the porch in a cage while he recovers from frost-bitten toes. My young tomcat Simon (named after the Chipmunk) is in the house by himself as he recovers from some infected tomcat-fight wounds. Since he’s not feeling all that well, he’s behaving far better than other tomcats do in the house.

Reading:

During my morning Bible reading I ran across the fact that Judas Iscariot was considered a bishop (Acts 1: 20, KJV). Worst bishop ever?

Read some more Elemental Masters books by Mercedes Lackey and realized I am missing book #2 in the series. Shall have to get that one. Then started re-reading the Dragon Jousters series by the same author, which is set in a magical version of ancient Egypt under another name (Tia and Alta). But I’m longing for something NEW to read and so may stop off at the local library.

What are you celebrating today?

Something great, or something nice, or something not-so-nice that has nice side effects? Share your celebration in a comment!

 

 

Celebrate the Small Things; new books

Celebrate blog hopThis is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Join us at: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

Today I am celebrating two new books I read recently. The first is one in the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey, Unnatural Issue. These books are a series of fantasy-romance novels set in Edwardian England. The first in the series was rather ruined for me because the heroine, a female doctor, had a clinic to hand out quack birth control to prostitutes and other loose women, and there was a certain hint that the doc may have done illegal abortions as well.

The current book in the series doesn’t feature hints at prenatal child killing, but there are the usual Neopagan/Wiccan elements, so I wouldn’t recommend it to readers under 21. The heroine of the story is a girl, daughter of a Earth-element mage, whose mother died at her birth and whose dad handed the child over to the servants with orders that he never see the child again. The girl, Susanne, was raised by the servants and worked as one. Until she grew up and Dad, who had turned to the forbidden art of necromancy, saw she was the very image of her dead mother— and just what he needed for his planned spell to bring his dead wife back to life. Susanne has to flee and runs in to the elemental mages who are tracking down her dad because he’s working forbidden necromancy. The story ends, after much thrilling struggle, with the defeat of the evil mage and a romantic attachment for Susanne.

The other book is one I ordered as part of my current studies on the subject of Islam. ‘The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran’ by Robert Spencer. It’s not so much a religious studies book as a current affairs one, showing why, in the author’s opinion, the Koran and its contents are quite relevant to much that is going on in our world today. I would recommend reading it as part of a reading program that includes other books on Islam by other authors and from other points of view.

Other News

My young tomcat Simon is resting in the house today. He’s got an infected sore, probably from being the victim of tomcat-on-tomcat violence. He really likes the attention he gets being in the house by himself instead of being on the porch with the other cats— most of whom stay on the porch all winter rather than in the barn like good barncats. Because the porch leads to the basement, which has a furnace.

And today I’m finally making the lentil-sprout soup I’d planned for some days now.  I had to put the finished sprouts in the refrigerator for a few days, taking it out some days to rinse the sprouts and keep them alive. Today I finally decided to get the soup started.

Why Negan had to kill them/Celebrate the Small Things

Celebrate blog hopIf you are a Walking Dead fan, you’ve just experienced a thrilling half-season which began and ended with episodes in which Negan, the new Big Bad guy, killed two members of Rick’s group. While the half-season ender didn’t kill off anyone we were too sad about, the first episode kills featured two particularly beloved characters. Why?

Because of an important rule of storytelling. If you want an audience to fear that someone will kill beloved characters, possibly even the Main Character (Rick Grimes, in The Walking Dead), you have to show him actually killing beloved characters. Killing offstage, killing characters so minor they are mere names, will not produce the fear level that may be desired.

For novelists, particularly those who are timid, inexperienced, or working in the Christian fiction genre, there is the tendency to chicken out at this point. They ALMOST kill a beloved character. Or they fool themselves that what is essentially a minor character can be killed off with the same effect. But if the story is the sort that demands a real, evil villain, half-measures won’t do. Remember, even in Evangelical Christian fiction, beloved characters can be killed. Remember what happened to Chloe in the Left Behind series.

On the other hand, if you are writing a form of children’s fiction, including YA which is aimed at young people from 12-15, toning down your villains can be essential. You can have your villain kill people off-stage, perhaps people that the main character will mourn, but not someone who is central to your main character’s life. The same goes for writing other categories of fiction in which extreme villains are not expected or wanted— cozy mysteries, or sweet romances.

neganlucille


Celebrate

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop: Join at http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

This week I am celebrating getting back into blogging (I hope) after a few months of being ill and a month of cleaning up all the crap that didn’t get done while I was ill.

Illness can make you feel depressed, especially when it comes with isolation. I went through a phase of thinking that my writing and my blogging were crap, and that I had nothing to offer any friend anything that would be of value. So why write, why blog, why try to have ‘friends’ who were really more like acquaintances?

But I’m over that. Most days. And at least my cats need me. Especially now that it’s winter. My barn cats, who have access to an enclosed porch and my basement, found their water dish full of ice yesterday morning. My kitten Roxie, who a couple of months ago got herself locked in the refrigerator overnight, probably wanted back into the refrigerator to warm up. I do let the more sensitive cats in the house overnight when I can. And my elderly cats have taken to sleeping in the laundry hamper in the basement— which makes me hate to do laundry because it takes away the kitties’ bedding.

Belated Celebrate: Eyeglasses & Bette Davis Eyes

Celebrate blog hopOK, I missed Celebrate the Small Things (a blog hop) yesterday. So I’m doing it today. Because that way at least it gets done.

First thing I’m celebrating is eyeglasses. Eyeglasses that work, actually. Because my eyes recently got worse and my current eyeglasses no longer work. In fact, I have been using the lower half of my bifocals to see at a distance! And taking off my glasses for close-in work like reading or writing blog posts.

Normally to get new glasses I would have to wait to get an appointment with my Medicaid-approved eye doctor who only comes to the clinic once a week. And I’d have to get welfare glasses— I’d have to pick from a handful of cheap, crappy eyeglass frames that are so awful to wear, I didn’t wear my welfare glasses at all but my older pair which at least stayed on my face without causing pain. (The eye doctor said they couldn’t put new lenses in my old frames for some reason.)

But the next eye doctor visit I took my prescription to Walmart and found that THEY could put new lenses in my old frames so long as I paid for it. This time out, since it’s kind of an emergency and I don’t have money saved for new glasses, my mom offered to buy me glasses. So I will be able to SEE properly without holding my glasses up with my hand so I can see through the lower bifocal lens.

Another thing I’m celebrating is seeing an old movie on the TCM channel, ‘All This and Heaven, Too,’ starring Bette Davis as a governess who is arrested for complicity when her employer kills his crazy wife. It was a great story based on a novel by Rachel Field, who based her story on real life events that happened to her great-aunt.

I’m reading the novel right now. I bought it because the movie inspired a writing idea, something which is a bit of a change of direction for me. I’m not saying more about the idea right now lest I jinx it, but if all goes well, I will share more later.


Keto Diet

Last night I was making Keto Bread from the recipe book ‘The Ketogenic Cookbook’ by Jimmy Moore & Maria Emmerich. It’s really just a revision of the Diet Revolution Bread recipe from the original Atkins Diet Revolution book, with unflavored protein powder replacing the small amount of (unhealthy) soy flour in the original.

The recipes involve separating eggs and whipping up the whites. Well, in my case it also involved waiting for the hens to lay a couple more eggs so I’d have the six eggs required.

When I whipped up the eggs it did not work like it was supposed to. It didn’t get high enough and I fear a speck of egg yolk may have gotten in the whites.

What I should have done at that point was to whip out my three muffin-top pans and turned the batter into flatbread ‘slices’. They wouldn’t have been perfect but the size would have been OK. Instead, I baked in the bread pan, and the bread ‘fell’ and the middle was soggy and the bread slices I salvaged were very short.

Since the recipe calls for possibly frying the slices in butter to increase the lipid profile, the slices will be edible. I will probably eat them with cream cheese and bacon bits on them. (Yes, that’s a diet meal.) But I’m going to make another batch of bread sometime soon, God and hens willing, and then perhaps I can make some better bread— and take pictures of it for my blog readers.

Blood sugar: Last night my blood sugar was at 124. Before I went on strict keto, my blood sugars were always over 300 for about a month. (Probably why I have my current eye problem.)


0510161425This is a picture of my kitten Simon when he was younger. He’s almost as big as a full grown cat now, but he’s still nursing from his mother, Consubstantial 2, and his aunt, Consubstantial 1. He has a brother named Theodore, and a possible half-brother named Alvin. Lately, what Simon and Theodore love to do every day is run out the door and play outdoors with the big kitties.

Celebrate: Mama Cat Consubstantial 1

0825161400aFirst thing to get out of the way: yes, I do have not only one, but two, cats named Consubstantial. Originally one Consubstantial had a different name but since it’s so hard to tell the two apart, they somehow both became Consubstantial. Consubstantial 1, in the picture, used to be the friendlier one. But now Consubstantial 2 is also mostly friendly. Except yesterday when she slapped her own kitten for standing too close to her.

The Consubstantials, often called Connies for short, are both barn cats and both have kittens this year. And so both are living in the house so the kittens get socialized. But Connie 1 has been having some problems. She got very scrawny nursing kittens this year— perhaps because Connie 2 and another barn cat, Charybdis, had kittens about the same time and everyone’s nursing one another’s kittens.

Connie 1 also has been having ‘digestive issues’ but otherwise seemed healthy. Until a couple of nights ago when a noise woke me up, and I discovered Connie 1 was having a seizure. When it was over, she slept for a while and then jumped in my lap for attention which she never does.

We weren’t able to discover why Connie 1 had the seizure but my guess is possible dehydration, since she’s nursing a lot of kittens and her ‘digestive issues’ are playing a part. I tried feeding her some yogurt. She likes it but it hasn’t fixed the ‘issues.’ So after doing a little research I decided to give her one of my probiotic pills, crushed up. After the first time her ‘issues’ improved, so I am optimistic that she will continue to get better.

Connie 1 nursing kittens. Not her own kittens.

Connie 1 nursing kittens. Not her own kittens.


This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. Click on the link and you will either find out more about the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop, or the universe will explode.

Celebrate: Star Trek anniversary

Celebrate blog hop

It’s the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, and I’m celebrating. Since I was 8 years old when the original Star Trek premiered, you can do the math and find out how older-than-dirt I really am.

Why did the original Star Trek work so much better than its television successors or the movies? In large part because the original Star Trek was written for a mass audience. Not only that, a mass audience of the 1960s, when Western television shows that didn’t violate Judeo-Christian values were the most popular form of entertainment, and the three networks had strict rules to keep swearing and sex out of the public’s living rooms.

One thing that made the original Star Trek beloved is that the Enterprise was a military space ship— you can tell by the military ranks and command structure, and the fact that the ship had state-of-the-art weapons and defenses. Military was something that a lot of men in the audience could relate to in 1966. Some had served in World War 2, and others in the Korean War, and military service was something people did proudly. It was not until a bit later that the anti-Vietnam-War movement convinced large segments of the people that military veterans were people to be spat upon.

The original Star Trek gave us an optimistic vision of our future. Perhaps the most optimistic, for me, is the sheer number of times the King James Version of the Bible was quoted by a Star Trek character. Probably unintentionally, Gene Roddenberry let me know there was a place in his future vision for a Christian like me.

Contrast that to the most popular vision of the future we have on the small screen today: The Walking Dead. The message seems to be that if you are one of the lucky few to not become a zombie, you can have a good time killing zombies for a while. Then Negan will beat you to death with his pet ball bat, Lucille. Not my favorite view of the future (though I’m a zombie prepper anyway.)


My own private Star Trek universe:

I’ve been making up stories in my head about starships and the Enterprise crew since about 1966. Still do, some of the time. By the time I was a teen I began to realize that my versions of the Enterprise crew were beginning to drift away from the original concepts.

By the time I became a Serious Writer, I began to think of making a Star Trek universe of my own with characters who belonged to me. In the past couple of years I’ve been working harder on it, and have come up with the Starship Destine universe.

The Starship Destine is at the center of the universe’s stories, so far. It is a massive spherical ship that only rarely lands on a planet. At the core of the ship is a forest— transplanted tree by tree, plant by plant from a forest plot owned by an Amish farm family and sold to the Fleet.

The starships of the Destine’s time are not the massive government funded exploration ships of the Star Trek universe. A major role of the starships is to facilitate interplanetary trade, and to engage in trade themselves to pay the bills.

The starship Destine is a new starship, which was landed on the planet Sackett on the grounds of the Fleet Academy. During an attack on the planet Sackett by unknown forces, cadets and instructors from the Academy and neighboring Amish farmers took refuge on the ship. One almost-graduated cadet, deemed captain of the ship for the purpose of a training exercise, became captain for real when the Destine escaped the attack on Sackett and began a search for surviving Fleet authority figures….


This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. It is a Friday event which gives bloggers a chance to interact with other bloggers and build up a bigger readership. To sign up yourself, go to: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

 

The first book I ever bought for myself.

The first book I ever bought for myself.