Monday, February 13, 2017

Culture War and the Cost of Silence: a Sequel.

Only a couple of days after a blog post regarding the choices we on the Right have to make about speaking up in a potentially hostile environment, I came across this article in New York Post.

At first glance, the story of Chadwick Moore, a gay journalist who saw his life fall apart as a result of, essentially, doing his job too well, is tragic. Losing friends over politics is hard enough, as many on both sides of the left/right divide had discovered over the last several months. How much harder must it be for someone whose social circle is already limited? In this case the circle in question is the gay community in New York City, but the particulars are almost irrelevant.

In this day and age, politics invades every part of life. As the saying goes, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you, and boy oh boy, is it ever. Whether you're a gay man who just wants to grab some drinks with a friend, a geek author looking forward to attending a con, or a suburban mother trying to have fun on a Girls' Night Out -- the danger of being condemned and shunned for a single show of non-conformity seems to lurk around every corner.

But wait, you might ask, doesn't the article, and many similar, less newsworthy examples, argue precisely for the silence, not against it? After all, who wants to suffer such terrible fate?

Ah, but if you read to the end of the story, you will discover that it has as much of a happy ending as one might expect outside of a feel-good Hollywood movie. I know, those are hard to find nowadays, but stick with me here. Having been forcibly ejected from his comfortable bubble of "friends" who liked only their perception of him, not who he really was, Mr. Chadwick had to look beyond. He opened up to new ideas (Ann Coulter, of all people?), re-connected with his Iowa farmer father, and even, in defiance of a strange post-election phenomenon among Leftists, started dating again. A Republican construction worker. No matter what your views are on homosexuality, this has to make you smile, just a little.

And so, to expand on my prior comments about the cost of silence, there is one that I overlooked. The biggest cost, when it comes down to it, is ignorance. My husband, upon reading the story, compared Mr. Chadwick's experience to that of someone taking the red pill in The Matrix. Believe it or not, unlike myself or other politically inclined Internet dwellers, he had never heard of "re-pilling" being a popular expression in certain circles. It truly just came to him as the best analogy, and he is, of course, correct.

To be clear, I don't encourage anyone to endanger their livelihood. Heck, nowadays even physical safety is not a given, what with the Soros thug brigades prowling the streets looking for "Nazis" to assault. But IF you can, WHEN you can, it might be a good idea to find out which parts of your life are solid, which of your friends are real, and what else could possibly be out there. Otherwise, you're just stuck in an artificial world, vaguely wondering why you can't sleep at night and everything seems to taste like chicken.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

CLFA Booknado: New, Free and Cheap Books from the Good Guys!

Another month, another great list of New Releases, Freebies and Sales from members Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance: just in time for Valentine's Day. Surprise your special someone with a gift of reading, and grab one for yourself as well!

Amazon purchase links can be found on the CLFA Website.

New Releases

Live and Let Bite (Love at First Bite Book 3) by Declan Finn
The third book in the Dragon Award nominated “Love at First Bite” series.

The Undercover Captain (Captain Nancy Martin Book 2) by Henry Vogel
It will take every bit of skill Nancy and Erica have to track down the evil genius behind the disappearances. Defeating them will be a different matter entirely.

Letters from Aztlan by John L. Wolf
In a dystopian, post-meltdown United States, a cynical, aging gunfighter receives a letter from an old friend in desperate need of help. He must fight his way across cartel occupied territory to find her.

Sales and Freebies:

The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Fringe meets Narnia at Hogwarts. **99 Cents**

The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel (A Book of Unexpected Enlightenment 2) by L. Jagi Lamplighter
Rachel Griffin returns for more rousing adventure and humor! **99 Cents**

Tears of Paradox (Storms of Transformation Book 1) by Daniella Bova
America has fallen to a Marxist bureaucracy, and the parents of an unborn child go underground to keep their baby’s existence a secret. **FREE**

A Place Outside the Wild (Z-Day Book 1) by Daniel Humphreys
Eight years after Z-Day, the surviving remnants of mankind face the unknown. The scars of the long war run deep. And hope is a dangerous thing when the real enemy might just be the survivors themselves. **99 Cents**

Bulletproof Vestments (Father Jay Book 1) by Jane Lebak
A former gang member has tracked down the man who ratted out his brother 10 years ago. It’s time for some good old-fashioned revenge, except the man in question is disabled. And he’s a priest. And no one’s going to let him go down without a fight. **FREE**
Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Superversive Chat: Love Is In the Air

For those who missed today's live chat, the replay is below. Romance is a part of life, so naturally it plays a large part in fiction of all genres. Whether you're a writer, a reader, or just someone interested in cultural trends, this chat has something to offer. Among the topics: how cultural/political changes affected the way romance is portrayed in fiction; thoughts on writing male and female characters; including romantic subplots in non-romantic stories; rise of fan fiction and "slash" fiction and many others. In addition, participating authors discuss their own works as they relate to the topic of romance.

Thanks to Jasyn Jones (a.k.a. Daddy Warpig) for hosting the chat and L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright for moderating.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Culture War and the Cost of Silence

Jon Del Arroz is an online friend, a science fiction author, and as of very recently, a conservative culture warrior. His story is interesting in part because it's so very common. Many conservatives spends years, even decades, trying to fit in, form relationships and build professional reputation in a Leftist-dominated environment by keeping a low profile about their beliefs. Sometimes, they do it out of politeness, and sometimes out of fear of confrontation and retribution; often it's a combination of the two. There are, after all, valid reasons not to antagonize friends and co-workers, not to jeopardize valuable contacts and relationships over something as seemingly ephemeral as political philosophy. For most interactions, from dating to interviewing for a job to attending social events, we are advised to keep our politics private, especially if we suspect our views are in the minority.

And so we stay silent. Oh sure, we vent in private to our very close friends or significant others (unless of course we followed the advice above so well, that even those closest to us are not aware of what we really think). Sometimes we even make up anonymous accounts on social media or join secret chat rooms where we can be ourselves. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, we are "the good guys": mainstream, respectable, open-minded. It's all good.

Except silence comes at a cost. As I mentioned in my old Censorship blog post, there's always the nagging doubt of "what if." How would things be different if we hadn't stayed silent? What new friends could we gain? What battles, presumed lost before the fight had even began, could we win? How many people out there are just like us, living in silence, thinking they're all alone? Unless we speak up, all we will ever do is guess and wonder, and watch little pieces of who we are flit away as we pretend that conformity is our only choice.

Fortunately, there are some in our midst no longer willing to bear the subtle but very real cost of being muzzled. And every time one of them comes out into the light, countless others are encouraged to do the same. This is the only way we can prevail, but prevail we will.

And now, without further delay, here's Jon's story. It's not fiction, but a good read nevertheless: disturbing yet inspiring, and worth sharing with a friend.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy writing and convention scene is one of the worst SJW converged subcultures. While Hollywood promotes extreme perversion and hedonism, they don’t push nearly as hard as SF/F literary groups when it comes to the intellectual aspects of identity politics. My name is Jon Del Arroz, I write Science Fiction, and this is my story.

Read the rest of the post at Vox Popoli.

To support Jon, you can purchase his book here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Book Promotion: Freedom's Light Anthology

The following is not quite a book review because this anthology from CLFA authors and friends includes my story. However, since there are many other stories alongside mine, and since this is a charity anthology to benefit the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), I decided that it would be appropriate to share my thoughts on my own blog. The stories are reviewed in the order they appear.

1. The Tenth Righteous Man by Nitay Arbel. If you think this story has basis in the real world, you would be right, but you have to read and find out the specific source of reference for yourself. First-person narration is used for great effect here, and the ending, plus the final reveal, surprised me. If I have any criticisms, the style seems a bit dry considering how emotionally charged the story actually is. Very different, and a great start for a freedom-themed collection.

2. Martian Sunrise by Matthew Souders. In spite of the otherworldly setting, this is probably the most literary entry. It's also the least political, and is more about facing one's demons and the fact that sometimes the worst prison of all is the one we create for ourselves. Lovely and touching without crossing into the maudlin territory, which it easily could have done.

3. Backwater by Lori Janeski. A solid demonstration of the oft-repeated truth: "You might not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you." It's set on a colony planet where most of the residents think themselves safe from government overreach, and find out the hard way it's not the case. The story is a setup for another work, so the ending is intentionally incomplete, which might bother some readers more than others.

4. The Birthday Party by Daniella Bova. Unlike the many dystopian entries in this collection, Ms. Bova's story takes us back to the past (some of the incidents are in fact connected to the author's family history). It makes us appreciate how far we've come as a country, both in terms of civil rights and just general tolerance towards those different and less fortunate. As we continuously strive to promote freedom and preserve out rights, it helps once in a while to step back and appreciate the progress we've made.

5. Dollars on the Nightstand by Bokerah Brumley. Although set firmly in the real world, this story is similar in its message to Ms. Janeski's Backwater. The government, left unchecked, will eventually overreach and make criminals out of citizens who just want to be left alone. The "crime" revealed at the end is, in fact, already a crime in some parts of the country, so even though the premise seems ridiculous, we're only a step away from it being true.

6. The City by A.G. Wallace. Here we get firmly into the dystopian territory, although the society presented seems entirely benign. This is very reminiscent of The Giver and the Matched trilogy, where all seems well until one finds out the cost of keeping up the apparent utopia. I appreciate the fact that the author acknowledges that a society of this type will need an escape valve to deal with those who don't wish to comply, without resorting to mass murder. The ending is abrupt, but in a way that makes one want to know more rather than leaving the reader frustrated.

7. Nomod by Henry Vogel. Another not-quite-dystopia showing the logical conclusion to the dreams of a perfect society achieved through bio-engineering. Although predictable, it's a fun read and not at all dark. Honestly, I would have preferred  it in the form of a full novel or at least a novella, to allow for events at the end to actually unfold before our eyes rather than be described.

8. Sara by Chris Donahue. I think I now understand why some authors write in shared worlds. The setup described is pretty much next door to the world of my novella The Product, although there are differences. The reveal happens early on, which allows the author to really get into the details of what drives those who choose to defy the society's norms, and how they manage to stay safe from the all-powerful government. I won't discuss the ending, except that I absolutely loved it.

9. Room to Breathe! This story is set in the world of my novel Chasing Freedom. For those who enjoyed the novel, but want to see a little more of the world, this is a backstory for one of the side protagonists. It is entirely self-contained and is meant as a tribute to free artistic expression in an oppressive environment.

10. Victory Garden by Tom Rogneby. A very low-key dystopia that shows the world ruled, essentially, by an HOA on steroids. Neighbor spies on neighbor and corruption abounds (which is why it all seems so low-key: pay off the right people and you'll be fine).  The ending surprised me by bringing in some new elements that hint at more possible stories in this world. Or at the very lease it points to potential start of serious resistance. It's a good balance of closure and leaving the reader wanting more.

11. The Unsent Letter by Brad Torgersen. A military fiction story that surprisingly has no military action. It focuses more on the military as an eternal brotherhood of people dedicated to a worthy cause. A worthy inclusion in a freedom-themed collection that reminds us of those who protect our freedoms on a daily basis, often at a terrible cost.

12. Credo Man by Carol Kean. A true genre bender that starts as a small town family drama, turns into a whodunit mystery, and adds a sci-fi plot twist seemingly out of nowhere. Does it work? I think so, but you have to accept the quirky turns and just go with it. The author's German heritage adds authenticity to the sometimes over-the-top tale.

And speaking of quirky...

13. The Fighting Beagles and the Attack at Dawn by Nick Cole. This has all the makings of satire, with all the ridiculous character names and fictional battlegrounds. In the end, though, it leaves you with a very earnest appreciation of both the absurdity of war and, more interestingly, of true old-fashioned manhood. At least that's what I got out of it; it's quite possible If the author meant something entirely different. In any case, it's a wild ride of a tale.

14. Shirt Story by Arlan Andrews. With all the talk of the New Civil War and the irreparable ideological split in this country, this story is perhaps the most timely of all as it shows a potential logical conclusion if we continue on this path. It's disturbing in a way different from most dystopias because the concept seems ridiculous, yet at the same time we're THIS close to already living it even without the technological aids envisioned by the author. I think it attempts to be satirical, but for me cuts to close to the truth to be funny. Be that as it may, the story is well done.

15. Polk's Prophetic Property by W.J. Hayes. Probably the strangest story of 'em all. A businessman works to convince Cthulhu (yep, you read it right) to leave his land alone and go wreak havoc elsewhere by quoting from the American founding documents. 'Nuff said.

Obviously, as a CLFA co-founder and one of the contributors, I am biased, but hopefully this extended review will give you more of an idea of what you find within this volume. It truly does have something for everyone, and I hope you find it an enjoyable read.

Purchase Freedom's Light on Amazon

Link to the FIRE website

Link to the CLFA website

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Guest Post by Amie Gibbons: A Novel Is a Seduction

When I was finishing up my Accounting degree, there was a rumor of a CPA prep course where the instructor helped the students understand and/or memorize crucial sections of the material by using analogies to sex. Aah, those were the days... Anyway, I couldn't afford the class and decided not to take the CPA exam, but I always wondered about the technique. Now I see it can be done, at least when it comes to writing. (Sorry, CPA hopefuls, you're still on your own!)

And now, for the main event:


A Novel Is A Seduction

Here’s what I’ve noticed while trying to write out my climax.  (Younger readers, some of this is dirty and probably crosses the line into Not Suitable For Minors.  Under 18?  Don’t read this.) Writer over 18?  Read this.  Male over 18 at any level of experience?  Definitely read this   I got this idea mostly because of the word climax, a novel is like seducing your reader and having a romp of (hopefully) good sex.

No really, think about it.  It’s dirty but that word climax is not a coincidence.  Now, I’m going to be describing this in terms of seducing “her” because in my mind, the man is the seducer.  I’m sorry if this offends anyone’s modern sensibilities but I’m the girl who likes to be seduced and you really can’t take all the ol’ fashioned Utah out of the girl.

First up, you get the reader’s attention.  Either you look damn good and they pick you up off the shelf and turn you over to read your back, or you go up to them (advertising) and make them want to talk to you without going too overboard and annoying them.  This is the fine art of the approach and no one has it down pat.  Usually you take the shotgun approach, get attention and smile at the entire room in the hopes that one out of a hundred likes your type.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Speculative Fiction Cantina: Writing, Dystopia and Making Friends

On January 6, I had appeared once again on a Speculative Fiction Cantina podcast with host S. Evan Townsend. Evan was nice enough to book my friend and fellow dystopian writer Daniella Bova for the same show. This resulted in a very productive discussion since we're both indie writers specializing in a dystopian genre. We talk writing (of course!), the difficulty of crafting a dystopia in a world that unfortunately keeps outpacing some of our imaginary setups, and being a conservative pro-freedom author in an environment still dominated by the left. Dramatic readings from our works are included!

You can listen to the archived podcast here.

The interview included various mentions and shout-outs, which I will link below for the curious:

Goodreads Small Government Book Fan Club
Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance on Facebook group and website
Superversive Press website/blog

Foundation for Individual Right in Education (FIRE)

And last but not least, book links:

My Amazon Author Page

Daniella's Storms of Transformation Trilogy on Amazon

Freedom's Light Anthology

Many thanks to Evan for having me over and for Daniella for agreeing to appear with me to make the show even more fun!