Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Hobby or Profession?

Disclaimer: These are just my thoughts about the direction I would personally like to take my writing hobby.  I don’t discourage anyone from pursuing a professional writing career if that is what their heart desires.

We’ve all been asked as kids what we want to be when we grow up.  John Lennon cleverly answered, “I want to be happy,” but he was perceived as having missed the point of the question, because people who ask it usually mean, “When you become an adult, what is your desired profession?”  What a loaded question for a little kid.  Now that I’m older and seem a bit more mature (believe me, I’m actually not), I’ve noticed that people who ask the infamous question of me now seem to genuinely want to know my career plans.

When I was younger, so much younger than today, I would tell people, “I want to be a writer.”  At that time, I naively believed that I could become a New York Times Bestselling Author overnight and make my living writing books that would sell like hotcakes from the get-go.  I’ve had a few years since then to open my eyes and reconsider my aspirations. Continue reading “Hobby or Profession?”

Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery, Novels, Science Fiction

Premonition: Updated Prologue + Chapter One

Prologue

 I saw the flames as they licked the tops of the tallest trees, destroying not only the dry, autumn leaves, but the creatures that called the forest their home.  I saw the wreckage on the highway, the crumpled heaps of five cars and an eighteen-wheeler truck.

My mother’s body was being wheeled away from the scene on a stretcher by two paramedics, a thin sheet covering her from head to toe.  Her bloodied arm dangled limply off the side, exposed; somehow, the charm bracelet she’d worn for as long as I could remember had survived, though she would not.

The orange blanket around my shoulders did nothing to quell the chill going through my body.  It wasn’t just the shock of the crash.  It wasn’t the throbbing pain in my shattered leg.  It wasn’t the droning of the tactless police officer to my right as he asked me questions I couldn’t answer.

I’d seen this exact event before, in a dream.  If only I could have done something to stop it from happening.

One

His name was Abraham.  Abraham Smith, to be exact.  Irony of all ironies, his house was full of (intact) graven images.  Everything from smiling Buddhist figurines to little statues that looked vaguely like Hello Kitty took up space on shelves, tables, window sills, and armrests.

“I collect and sell these things, y’see,” he explained awkwardly as I locked eyes with one leering pre-Columbian carving.  “I don’t necessarily believe in them, in case you’re wondering.”

I shrugged, which isn’t easy when you’re leaning on a cane.  I’d had my share of odd foster families in the last few months. What could I say that wouldn’t offend my newest guardian, who also happened to be my fourth cousin thrice removed? Continue reading Premonition: Updated Prologue + Chapter One”

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings

On Banned Books Week

A Few Observations Banned Books Week is a yearly event that occurs during the week of September 21-27.  (Yes, it’s happening this week.)  This event celebrates the “freedom to read” any book one pleases, including books that have been banned or challenged. According to the American Library Association (which vocally supports Banned Books Week), between the years 2000 and 2009, a good 5,099 books were challenged for the following reasons:

  • 1,577 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,291 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 989 challenges due to materials deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 619 challenged due to “violence”;
  • 361 challenges due to “homosexuality”;
  • 274 materials challenged due to “occult” or “Satanic” themes;
  • 291 challenged due to their “religious viewpoint”;
  • 119 because they were “anti-family.”

The ALA also presents some interesting statistics in the form of graphs, about what sorts of people and organizations challenge books, as well as their stated concerns.  (It seems like most of the people initiating these challenges are parents who are concerned by the books their kids are reading.)

This year’s Banned Books Week is putting particular emphasis on banned comics.  Comics are a highly visual medium; “obscene images” such as nudity and pornographic imagery are additional concerns commonly cited in challenged/banned comics, per the Comic Book Defense League.

My Conclusion If you ask me, it’s incredibly stupid to go about reading books simply because they were banned or challenged, especially considering that many of the issues people are flagging in them are far from laughing matters.  It’s like flying to Africa in order to contract Ebola, intentionally eating raw eggs and meat to contract salmonella, or drinking stagnant water so as to contract malaria, in order to celebrate and exercise one’s hypothetical freedom to come in contact with and carry whatever bacteria they please.  After all, aren’t medical doctors infringing upon this freedom by “challenging” various life-threatening diseases and “banning” them from your body by administering vaccines so that you’re immune to them?

I like having the freedom to read whatever I want, but there’s a presumption that people only want the freedom to read what’s being kept from them.  At least for me, having seen the ALA and CBDL’s numerous lists of which titles were banned and why, I am pretty confident that I’m not being “kept from” much.

Personally, I would like the freedom to be able to pick up any book from the juvenile and YA bookshelves at any library or bookstore and not have to do a thorough “background check” with the Literate Mother or Common Sense Media websites to make sure there is no problematic content in the book I’m bringing home to my family, because there would be none whatsoever.  I and so many others do not yet have that freedom, and the ideals of Banned Books Week aren’t getting us any closer to achieving it.

Food for Thought So, Banned Books Week is celebrating that people are (or should be) theoretically free to read anything they want, from Captain Underpants to Fifty Shades of Gray.  My question to BBW participants is, if you weren’t participating in this event, would you actually read books that you know have been flagged for offensive content?

Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Where Did She Go…?

Well, it’s been awhile since I got around to posting something here.  I really have no excuses, except having an increased penchant for procrastination. 😛

I had a few post ideas in mind, namely a) a rant about Banned Books Week and comic books, b) an interesting history factoid I learned from a wise park ranger about the Revolutionary War and the famous “shot heard ’round the world,” c) a post about what I’ve been reading lately (aka not much), and d) a post that recaps the little I actually accomplished from my summer writing goals, and e) a review of the season premier of the new Doctor Who that would include some unpopular views that a lot of folks out there would probably hate me for….

….But I never got around to writing any of those posts.  Like I said, procrastination.

My progress with Premonition came to an abrupt stop two weeks ago.  I’m having a bit of a “Should I write this scene or should I not?” moment right now.  (That quote was supposed to be haltingly sang to the tune of the famous Clash song, by the way.)  I ended up giving the story a bit of a religious overtone, which I didn’t initially intend, and I’m a bit worried that I’m overdoing it.  Not that there’s anything wrong with religiosity, of course.  It’s just that writing about religious subject matter is not my area of expertise, and I don’t want to come across as preachy….  Anyway, I want to get back to writing the story soon — I’ve procrastinated enough!

By the way, would you like to see an excerpt of Premonition’s Chapter One?  I think I’m just about ready to share it with the world.  Alternatively, if you’re sick and tired of hearing all about my latest pet project so often, I can always go through my archives of old writings and post something from there.  Any specific requests?

On a side note, I’m working/starting to work on an X-Men fanfiction.  I may be co-writing it with some other young writers.  Wish me luck!