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FOR WRITERS

A FEW NOTES ON VOTING TRUMP

Catching the Big Ones
The social media "discussions" that I have seen and participated in thus far regarding Donald Trump have, for the most part, been more heat than light. Since a portion of this heat has been aimed at me for admitting voting for Trump, a number of admirers of mine with quivering lips crying "Barry, say it isn't so!" I thought I'd jot down a few notes on what I believe Donald Trump isn't, what I believe he is, and some of what went into my decision to choose him over Hillary Clinton.

HE IS:
First Donald Trump is the President of the United States and president of the American people, fair and square. Reject him as you might, by law he is the president. Email scandals and FBI plots notwithstanding, the election came down to winning the Electoral College, which came down to majorities of voters in a sufficient number of states voting for a particular candidate's electors. Rail against it as you will, those are the current rules. To change the system you need to change the Constitution to eliminate the voices of smaller and more lightly populated states. Incidentally, this would also eliminate the justification for those states to remain within the union of states, which would probably cause more problems than it would cure.

Donald Trump is the president, and rejecting him, calling him names, looting stores, setting fires, holding cry-ins, waving signs, breaking windows, having hissy fits, and otherwise making noise is probably not going to get him to resign.

HE IS NOT:
Politically and economically Donald Trump is not an ideologue. He is not conservative, he is not liberal (under whatever label), he is not libertarian (which I am). By the same token, he is not a fascist (or Nazi), socialist, monarchist, plutocrat, survivalist, or religious communist. For most of his adult life Trump was a registered Democrat (does anyone remember Hillary Clinton used to be a Republican? I digress.) Trump is now a registered Republican. In neither case were ultimate political forms and ideological goals a consideration. In each case his party registration was a means to an end.

To do big business in New York City, you register Democrat, kiss Democrat ass, support Democrat candidates, and schmooze Democrat politicians in order to make deals, get your permits and tax breaks, none of which makes one ideologically liberal or "progressive." To make his deal with an abused and neglected voting public and be elected president in 2016, he needed to register as a Republican, which didn't infuse him with conservatism, laissez-faire capitalism, or "family values." It got him the pulpit he needed, and then the presidency—that's all.

HE IS:
Donald Trump is a man of business who is good at working with and through a needlessly complex and corrupt interventionist economy toward achieving his business goals. He has spent most of his adult life dealing with crooked politicians, mobsters, petty bureaucrats, unions, contractors, and persons in business of every possible moral stripe—and succeeding.

He doesn't know everything, but he knows that he doesn't know and does know how and where to get those who do know what's needed to get the things he wants done and how to get them to work for him. Now he has placed those skills, he says, in service to all the American people toward meeting what he perceives to be their most pressing economic needs: Good paying jobs, profitable businesses, restoring the nation's manufacturing base, bringing down costs of things such as health care, energy, food, and taxes all toward a goal of increasing everyone's prosperity.

In addition, to be able to enjoy the benefits of this prosperity, as I believe he sees it, the American people need to be safe from crime, violence, and attack from local and foreign sources. Toward those ends he's going to try a few things: The wall, limiting immigration to legal immigration, returning criminal illegals from whence they came, encouraging foreign students educated here to remain legally, supporting police organizations in bringing safety back to the nation's city streets, restoring the US's military, putting the US's military alliances on a more realistic and effective basis, forming new alliances, and a bunch of things that we just don't know about yet because I think he understands that if the bad guys know what they know, and they also know what we know, the bad guys have the advantage.

HE IS NOT:
I do not believe Donald Trump is a racist. The friends, associates, and even enemies who know Trump the best say he isn't. His hiring practices would also seem to indicate he isn't. The Wall is not racist. First, neither Mexicans nor South Americans constitute a "race." The issue with the wall is legal entry versus illegal entry, not race. "Extreme vetting" is not racist, nor is it anti-Muslim. First, Islam is not a race, it is a belief system divided into several sub-beliefs. For those who believe in races among the human race, all of those so-called "races" have Muslim members and non-Muslim members. The vetting of travelers from countries involved with a significant degree of terrorist activity includes both Muslims and non-Muslims. The issue is safe versus possibly dangerous, not race or religion.

I do not believe Donald Trump is a misogynist ("woman hater" for those who are dictionary adverse). Women hating bosses do not promote women into high-paying executive positions at equal pay with men. And you can't fake family. I love listening to interviews with his family members, particularly with the female members. Either they do not feel hated or the Oscars are going to the wrong people.

So, what about the Billy Bush open mike thing? Trump is seventy. That means, like me, he is a sexually repressed child of the 'Fifties and 'Sixties. He is also a military school graduate. That means, like me, he spent a good portion of his school years as a boiling cauldron of testosterone in an all-boys institution. It is fertile ground for a certain kind of crude humor. You should have heard what the cadets at my school did with copulative verbs in English III. Answer this question honestly: Has there ever been a joke or comment you have made in the past that would make you uncomfortable should it become viral now? Any joke or comment at all? Honestly, now.

Naw, he's not a Nazi and he's not anti-Semitic. Ask Benjamin Netanyahu or Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.

And it's his own hair, probably colored.

THE PRES:
The Donald tweets. He can be crude. He makes jokes. He doesn't have much toleration for whiners. Sometimes he operates his mouth before fully engaging his brain. When attacked he fights back, which is not altogether bad for a US president in these times. He says what's on his mind at the moment, which can be scary, but it is also the thing that endeared him to millions of voters fed up with political correctness, public versus private personas, and political word parsing.

I have big concerns about the future of the Trump presidency: Deficit spending, no plans yet to slow down the printing presses in the Treasury Department, weighting the economy down with spending programs before lifting the taxes and regulations holding down the prosperity that could generate the revenues to pay for the spending, what appears to be a very old and failed approach to dealing with addiction, and Arnold Schwarzenegger taking over The Apprentice.
Concerns, but the alternative for me was Hillary Clinton whose main accomplishments since the 'Nineties was to make herself wealthy by being a liberal and labeling all those who disagreed with her as "deplorables." Her main campaign promise to America was to continue the life, pride, prosperity, and energy sapping policies and performance of the previous administration. I certainly knew what I would be getting if Clinton became president and I didn't want it. I still don't know what we've got now with Donald Trump, but I'm eager to find out. To find out, those who are currently shouting need to dial down the noise and listen, if for no other reason than to gather facts and construct a coherent argument.

For the first time in decades I'm not convinced the dream that was America is lost. Neither am I convinced that it is found. At bare minimums, though, it's going to get rebuilt, remodeled, refinanced, and new bathroom fixtures.
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Chicken Feathers

I let the story and its very real characters find and travel the paths upon which they insist. It completely defeats the "writer as God" attitude exhibited by many writers and beginners, but that's the way it works for me. Usually.

Okay, the current work is titled The War Whisperer, told from the point of view of an orphan who, at the age of twelve, is drafted into a secret quasi-governmental school for agent/assassins. Jerome Track did horrific things to be considered for this school for killers. At the school more horrific things happened, which changed everything, and those pages were very difficult to write. Then Jerome and his adopted sister graduate and become agents in this shadow organization that "resolves democracy and negotiation resistant problems" in favor of the U.S. So they and their handler go down to South America to await the arrival of an important terrorist leader: Object, termination. Read More 
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For My Next Trick . . . .

So, there I was about to continue writing on my opus, The War Whisperer. I was sitting in an easy chair writing on my Mini because I was just nearing the end of a really horrible cold and just completed a two month exercise with an infected tooth that concluded with getting a crown after a two hour plus session with my dentist the day before. I called up my current book within WW, titled "Black Satin," and almost got a word written when I heard a just barely audible alarm go off: "wa-wa, wa-wa," etc.

I checked my phone, my mini, my maxi, my battery backups for my computers, until the only thing I hadn't checked was my Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD), the gadget that does pace making, reorders my heartbeat so that it beats more efficiently, makes a try at gently moving me from V-tach into sinus rhythm during an episode, and hits me with the paddles at full blast if the V-tach episode goes on longer than twelve seconds. The wonders of modern science.

Yet one more wonder, my ICD has a telemetry unit through which I can download all current performance data to my cardiologist. Every so often, in the middle of the night while I'm sleeping, this device can sneak in and talk to my ICD getting it to blab all. That was how I found out that my heart had been in A-fib for three days, which is a tale for another time.

One of the things I can do with my telemetry unit is initiate and send down a reading if I think something might be awry. Since I thought the alarm might be coming from the ICD, I sent a strip down to my cardiologist and returned to the Mini to continue with the story. I had almost gotten a word written when I got a call from the cardiologist's saying, in essence, "How quickly can you make it down to the Maine Medical Center emergency room?"
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A Place Where Writers Talk Writing

Next month (July 10-13) is Readercon, the SF and fantasy con for writers, artists, and fans whose lips don't move when they read (but do move when they write dialog). If you write, or hope to write, and live in the Northeast, Readercon is not necessarily a "must," but it is definitely a "probably should be." The main attraction for me is other writers and my annual opportunity to talk writing with my fellow wizards, grand masters and apprentices both.

This year, the panel and workshop proposal train missed me, so for the first time in a decade or more, I will not be conducting one of my writing workshop/lecture thingies. There are some writing panels of interest, and for those who want to talk storytelling, I will be doing one of the kaffeeklatsch things. Recently Readercon has been teaming me up with another writer at kaffeeklatsches, and last year it worked out really well. As a general rule, writers like talking about writing. The point being, if you want to get together and compare semicolons, attend Readercon and sign up for my kaffeeklatsch. I will also be doing a reading from my new novel as well as wandering the halls. As soon as the final schedule for program participants is made available, I'll post the dates and times.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATION. Late this month I'm getting a rather substantial surgical operation on my back. Recovery, rate of, is something of a question at this stage, which could either have me staggering around the halls on pain killers (which could be amusing) or canceling out altogether. I will make every effort to warn you all in advance.

Whether I'm there or not, Readercon is a great place for you to talk writing and storytelling, and to listen to some old established and brand new pro writers discuss in panels various aspects of the art such that one cannot return home from this con without at least three new ideas for you to try. Actually, it is possible to return home empty handed if you spend the con drunk or high. If this is your approach, you may as well stay home. For the rest of you, I hope to see you there.

Click the Readercon icon for the con's website. Read More 
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Growing Up With Thomas

The story doesn't "feel right"? Not going anywhere? You're wallowing in doubts and can't even seem to get that first page going? Characters seem wooden? Storytelling not fun? Rethinking that job at Burger King? Try this:

Do this for all of your major characters (defined as anyone who helps move the story forward): On a separate document, slip your feet inside your character's baby shoes, and using first person POV have that baby, child, young person, young adult tell the story of his or her life up until they enter your story. It will cure all of the problems listed above in the first paragraph. In addition it will add reality (depth, texture, feelings, events, pimples) to your characters, and provide you with a wealth of background material for whenever your characters get introspective.

No need to include each and every diaper load. For a cue regarding what to include, use your own memory of your own past as a guide: earliest memory, the people you remember, your interactions with them, how you felt about them, first love, first hate, fights, celebrations, whatever was important and revealing.

Why the title, "Growing Up With Thomas?" The first time I did this full bore was with my novel Sea of Glass, whose POV character was Thomas Windom. He is still more real to me than most of the persons I have known for decades. I've also done this with my entire Joe Torio Mystery Series, beginning with The Hangman's Son.

If you haven't grown up with your characters, you don't know them very well. Not knowing your characters is a terrible platform from which to try telling their stories.

Try it out and see the difference it makes both in your story and in your writing day. Yeah, it involves extra writing. But, if you don't like writing you'd best nail down that Burger King gig. Read More 
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In The Zone - The War Whisperer

5/22/2014 It has been a long time coming, but the writing of The War Whisperer has gotten under way. When I write a novel, there is a period of groping around, doubt, a generally foggy conception of where I might like to see the story go and accomplish. This is especially true with this work because it jumps into a pool in which I have avoided swimming up until now: The background is politics, "libertarian" theories, and changing a world that has been fairly resistant to altering its downward spiral into unworkable economics and necessarily broken promises. Stories are about people, and the storyteller's job (at least, this story teller's) is to write down what the people in the story do without sticking the storyteller's own politics in the reader's face. Something new for me requires growth, growth requires change, and the acid-stomach doubts generated by the beginnings of such an enterprise is what I least like about the writing process.  Read More 
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Why Do I Do This?

Been having a tough time getting started on my new novel, a blatantly libertarian science fiction tale that essentially shows a new way to solve a very old problem. So what's the writing problem?

After more than two years of dodging health bullets and writing and restarting again and rewriting again my Joe Torio Mystery ROPE PAPER SCISSORS, I ended that particular 340K marathon flat-out exhausted. I'd bore you with all the medical/migraine/ADD crap, but it bores me. Suffice it to say, if I owned a car with as many mechanical problems as I have health issues, I'd junk the damned thing. It would embarrass me to try and sell it.
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Blurbophobia

Years ago, I was asked by a friend to come up with a blurb on his soon to be released science fiction novel. I hate doing these things. Throw friendship, honesty, and my own peculiarities concerning what constitutes good storytelling into the mix, and unmindful of my agonies of effort and decision in coming up with said blurb, certain things are guaranteed to happen: (1) I am going to lose a lot of time; (2) I am going to be emotionally torn seven ways from Sunday as integrity and honesty come up against a tale that essentially doesn't fit my pistol; and last, but by no means least, (3) I am going to lose a friend.

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WIGGLE ROOM

Wiggle room: It has a lot to do with getting the story finished.

Okay, in Twelve Step programs they have a bit of advice that goes like this: Live in the solution, not the problem. So, what does this have to do with getting the words into the manuscript?

List your reasons for not writing. Go on. We'll wait for you, and here are a few to get you started.
Nobody believes in me.
I just can't get started.
There are too many demands on my time.
I just can't seem to sell a word.
My ideas don't seem to go anywhere.
No support from my family (friends, parents, spouse, partner, bartender, etc.)
Poor health, low energy, can't concentrate, the neighbor's dog keeps barking, my dealer really wants to get paid, it all seems so hopeless.

Here is an example of living in the problem: "Look at what's happening to me; I just can't win! Boo hoo!"

Here is an example of living in the solution: "This is standing in my way; Now, what can I do about it?"
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Authors: Why Attend Conventions?

A fellow writer, thoroughly jammed with writer's block, shared with me that he never attends genre conventions (mystery, SF, fantasy) because, "It's just not his cup of tea." After a few minutes of additional probing, it turned out he was afraid of meeting new people. Those he had never met before hadn't been vetted, hence, might commit one of the following errors:

1. The person in question might impart that he never cared much for that writer's works.
2. He or she may not have even heard of that writer.
3. The bothersome attendees might besiege him for autographs.
4. During the autograph session, no one might show up.

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