Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Earth is flat. What?!?!?!?

Planet Earth with sun in universe or space, Earth and galaxy in a nebula cloud (Elements of this 3d rendered image furnished by NASA)

In 2016 there are still people out there who claim our planet Earth is flat—not a globe.  Who am I to mock them? After all, I believe in ghosts. Well, at least the possibility of ghosts.

I suspect those who profess to be Flat-Earthers fall into various categories.

  1. Those who don’t actually believe, yet make money by promoting the belief, such as through book sales, seminars, and advertising generated on social media sites.
  2. Those who love a conspiracy. Some people are drawn to conspiracies and have a tendency to believe the current flavor of the decade.
  3. Those who believe based on religion. According to some Flat-Earthers, the proof is in the Bible.
  4. Those who say they believe, because they think it sounds cool.
  5. And those who simply believe Earth is flat, for whatever reason—like NASA is lying to us, or they’ve read all the pro-Flat-Earth websites and find them believable.

Personally, I don’t believe the earth is flat. If flat, then why hasn’t a dedicated Flat-Earther posted a picture on social media showing the earth’s edge? Considering the number of courageous explorers who’ve ventured out over the centuries seeking knowledge, not one has reported back about seeing the earth’s edge.

If these Flat-Earthers are so darn certain the earth is flat, why haven’t they taken to the sea like Greenpeace, to prove their point?

Aren’t there any Flat-Earth pilots willing to attempt a round the globe flight to prove it impossible, and snap some photos while soaring along the earth’s edge?

I’ve not found a single Earth’s edge photo on Instagram. None are trending on Twitter. Not one.

Come on folks. If that doesn’t prove the earth is round, I don’t know what does.

Of course, my Great-grandfather was a Freemason…

Why I can’t help you: I’m a wimp.

writerOccasionally, I’ll receive an email from an aspiring author asking me to read his/her manuscript and give honest feedback. Normally, I respectfully decline. Not because I don’t want to help the other writer—but because I’m a wimp.

If the writer sincerely wants honest feedback—which means the bad with the good—then I’m not the one to ask. Why? Because as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I’m a wimp. I simply don’t have the heart to tell another writer his/her work sucks if I think it sucks.

When reading a book by an author friend, I never tell him/her I’m reading the book. After I finish it, I will let the author know if I loved it. But if I hated it? He/she will never know I read it.

There have been a few times I’ve read an author friend’s work and noticed an issue that might be a problem down the road, and I will privately message them, expressing my opinion. Yet generally, that’s when I feel good about the work overall. Telling them in private gives them the opportunity to ignore me, or consider my suggestions. Typically, I have only done this when the author expressed he/she would welcome suggestions.

These days when I do leave a book review, I normally leave them on books I sincerely enjoyed.

Does this mean I think readers who give harsh truths to an author is wrong? Absolutely not, providing the reviewer is sincere in his/her opinion and is not one of those people who gets a perverse thrill telling a writer his/her work sucks.

(Image: Sneak peek at window in The Ghost and the Mystery Writer, Book 9, book cover.)

In defense of Lily

Redhead women in beret on yellow background.

Yesterday I sent The Ghost from the Sea (Book 8) off to the editor. It will be released the end of this month—and yes, there will be a Book 9. I already have a title, cover, and story brewing for Book 9, but I’ll announce that later. Right now, I want to talk about Lily.

Lily often gets a bad rap. Some readers have found her annoying. They say she talks too much—or overshares. Yeah, that annoys Danielle sometimes too. But like Danielle, I feel we have to take the good with the bad in our friends, because let’s face it—no one is perfect.

When I first introduce Lily in The Ghost of Marlow House, she is an energetic, enthusiastic, single, elementary school teacher. She loves her job and she loves life. She’s not afraid to flirt, and she likes to joke around. She is also a very loyal friend, one who is willing to spend her summer vacation helping her best friend settle into her new home and help get the bed and breakfast off the ground.

You may not have noticed but Lily has good instincts. Some readers felt she was too open with Ian—overshared when they first met, especially regarding the bed and breakfast, but Lily had a gut feeling about Ian. She instinctively knew he was someone she could trust—in spite of a few bumps along the way.

And if you think back to that first book, when she initially met Adam and Bill in the diner, she curbed her enthusiasm and was much more discrete with them than she had been with Ian.

Lily may sometimes be over exuberant, and prone to oversharing—yet she’s a loyal friend who always has Danielle’s back. She’s one of those people who when she loves someone—it isn’t halfway.

Protecting Our Children

Public Places
While my Haunting Danielle series is a mystery murder, it also falls into the cozy genre, which means gore is kept to a minimum, and the people getting wacked are generally the bad guys.

However, if someone nice is killed off, there is comfort in knowing that character isn’t gone forever. After all, the Haunting Danielle books also fall into the paranormal category—which means ghosts.

I have to tread carefully in what types of crimes are committed in the series. In The Ghost Who Wasn’t, Sadie is kidnapped by dognappers, whose evil intent is to use her as a bait dog. Even though she was rescued within hours, the bad guys arrested, and the dog fighting ring busted—just mentioning such a crime alienated some readers. One even posted in a review that she would never again read one of my books.

As an avid animal lover, I understand the reader’s dismay. Perhaps I did cross the line. Yet, sometimes we create worlds we’d like to live in—and the world I would like to live in is one where we could easily shut down such atrocities.

Just as my readers don’t want to imagine anything truly evil happening to canine Sadie or feline Max, they probably don’t want any child characters abused. It’s one thing to write about Darlene getting her head bashed in and tossed over a cliff—after all, she wasn’t that nice—but if I did the same to a toddler throwing a tantrum, I imagine my readers would jump ship, even if I resurrected the naughty child as a ghost.

This brings me to children in general—and our real life responsibilities toward them. If you’ve read The Ghost Who Loved Diamonds, you’ll know Danielle isn’t a big fan of children’s beauty pageants. I’ll tell you a secret, neither am I. Although, I imagine you already figured that out.

I have some friends, who are very nice people and who love their children, yet put their little ones in pageants. Personally, I’ve a problem with beauty contests. For one thing, I question how wise it is to put so much emphasis on a person’s physical attributes. The second reason, I’m not crazy with the idea of parading young children in front of strangers.

That might seem hypocritical since both of my children performed in the community theatre when we lived in Wrightwood. Our son, who was about ten at the time, starred as Winthrop, in The Music Man, and his younger sister was in the chorus of the same play. Yet, it didn’t have the same feel to me. I wasn’t parading them out to be individually examined by strangers, as in a pageant. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s just how I feel.

I also don’t believe we own our children. I feel they’re given to us, and it’s our responsibility to protect, nurture, and prepare those children to be responsible, independent adults.

This brings me to a recent Twitter encounter I had.

I’ve been following an Oregon news story involving the takeover of a bird refuge and the subsequent arrest of those involved. There have been some minor protests in Portland, in support of those who have been arrested. One Twitter follower from the Portland area has decided to record the protest, while taking his own stand against what he sees as seditious activity. In his counter protest, he has been heckled by the protestors, his signs destroyed, and basically called a pedophile—a slander that followed him onto Twitter.

Why do they feel justified hurling this particular bucket of mud? Because he has photographed the protest, posted the pictures online, and some of those photographs included minors.

One might say, “Oh, he should never post a picture of a minor!” but I’d like you to step back a moment, and ask who in this scenario is truly exploiting the children.

For us to step back—we need to move back a couple years, to the Bundy Ranch stand off in Nevada. Same family, different brouhaha. There, father Cliven Bundy refused to pay his grazing fees, and after a couple decades of non-payment the Feds moved in, threatening to remove said cattle. Cliven rounded up his militia buddies and held off the Feds with threat of blood shed.

This is where I get to the kids.

One of the prominent members of the group admitted they had considered using the women and children as shields—that way if the Feds started shooting—well you get it. It would make the Feds look evil. I ask you—who is the evil one to even consider such a thing? The women are adults, and while that’s a chicken *hit thing for any spouse to consider, regardless of gender—what kind of monster even imagines using his—or any—child in such a way?

Now we fast forward to the Oregon takeover—where some of the participating militia members brought their children along—and allowed other people to visit with children. At that point, the takeover was a crime scene. What responsible parent takes a child to an active crime scene, especially one with lots of loaded guns?

Fast forward again, to the protest in Portland. Sure, it is all legal and not a crime. But if you take a child to a public protest, there is no expectation of privacy. None. Someone will be taking your kid’s picture. Either someone from the news, a blogger, a Twitter follower, or just some curious bystander. Just about everyone carries a camera via a phone these days, and it takes just seconds to upload that image to Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media venue.

So when the Oregon protestors started yelling at this counter protestor, calling him a pervert for taking pictures of kids—pictures they KNEW someone would be taking—I have to ask, who is the one truly exploiting the kids?

Personally, I see it as another example of parents exploiting their own children—shoving them into some imagined victim role to slam some guy who obviously is not there to take kiddy shots, but to record their protest.

When I defended this counter protestor on Twitter—because I honestly don’t believe he has the remotest interest in any of the protestors’ children—aside from their involvement in an active news story—one of their supporters asked me, “wtf wrong w/ u?”

Frankly, I’d have to say: same question back atcha.

(Photo: Someone snapping a photo of your child at a public place, such as an amusement park, is inappropriate, IMO. Yet, if your child participates in a public news worthy event, such as in a parade, at a political rally, or protest rally, IMO you’ve no right to cry foul.)