We Study History To Learn From It, Not Repeat It

Social media has become a way for me to stave off the solitude that results from working remotely out of my home office. It's a water-cooler, break-room, leaving-for-a-quick-lunch all in one. It's also a way for me to stay in touch with family and friends as our lives evolve and our children grow. I'm grateful that technology has advanced to a degree such a thing is possible. However.

It's also become a way for folks to voice their opinions on what are generally thought of as very personal decisions regarding very public issues. It's a platform for some to speak openly behind the curtain of safety and anonymity a computer screen offers. There are those who express opinions through memes and status updates in ways they wouldn't dream of doing if standing face-to-face with people (unless they were 100% certain those people agreed with them...or relished the possibility of debate).

It is my view that I have no jurisdiction over anyone's opinion. Our opinions are one of the only things we really own. Listening to another’s opinion without rebuttal does not necessarily mean I agree with them; it simply means I believe in their freedom to voice that opinion. But for the most part--especially publicly--I guard my own opinions like prisoners because to speak them aloud is to potentially invite ridicule as easily as agreement and risks upsetting those I have no wish to upset. So, I keep to myself out of both respect and self-preservation.

However, I find that I can no longer be silent about one particular, publicly opined topic.

I just finished a book called "Once We Were Brothers," by Ronald H. Balson, a story that focused on WWII and a Jewish man from Poland. There were passages in that book that twisted my heart not only because such atrocities once happened...but also because I could see the shadows of them repeating today. In our headlines, in our tweets, in the Facebook statuses of people I love and respect and admire.

Setting aside country and religion for just a moment, I cannot fathom how we as intelligent human beings can condemn such a horrific actuality as the Holocaust in one breath (which I believe any sane person does) and in the next consider--even for just a moment--the possibility of a Muslim database, as I have seen in recent headlines. Registering an entire populace under the guise of protecting against terrorists is, in my opinion, tantamount to evil.

“Nazi persecution didn’t limit itself to race. Religion, national origin, alternative lifestyles, persons with disabilities--all were targets.” (Once We Were Brothers)

“Find a reason to turn your nose up at a culture, to denigrate a people because they’re different, and it’s not such a giant leap from ethnic subjugation to ethnic slaughter.” (Once We Were Brothers)

“There are many reasons to study and teach about the Holocaust, and maybe the most important reason is to prevent re-occurrences. We are sentries [...]. We stand on the wall, on guard against any hint that the minions of genocide are reassembling.” (Once We Were Brothers)

I can hear the arguments of those I love and respect in my head. Yes, I want to protect my home and family. Yes, I want to end terrorism. Yes, I want light to win and evil destroyed. But not by becoming evil myself. Not by damning people to judgement and ridicule and death simply because of where they were born. Simply because of their religion.

What happened to us? I see memes on Facebook declaring individuals wanting to bar our borders against refugees, claiming “refugee roulette” - that there is at least one ‘poisonous’ person in every handful of refugees. I would argue that is true of any situation anywhere in the world.

You attend a soccer game with 20,000 fans, odds are you’re going to have at least one if not many people in attendance who would shoot you for your wallet. You drive on a busy highway, you’re most likely on the road with at minimum five people who could kill you simply because they are compromised in some way. You attend a movie at a busy theater and there’s no guarantee a mentally unstable person with too-easy access to automatic weapons won’t change your world forever. You send your children to school every day with a prayer on your lips that the ‘stranger drills’ they have now added into the tornado and fire drill rotation saves their lives.

This is our reality; we created it, we live in it, we make the best of it. But if we are living in fear of the possibility that one Muslim person might be a terrorist, why are we not also applying the same “protection” against anyone who has ever purchased a gun? Or anyone who has a driver’s license? Or for that matter, anyone who outwardly declares a religious affiliation of any kind? Atrocities against humanity are not limited to Muslims; that religion is simply the latest in history to have extremists. I mean, circling back to the book that triggered my voice, Hitler was Catholic.

What happened to us? What happened to our memories of our ancestors who fled as refugees from persecution to live as they declared right and just and free? What happened to the people who inspired the inscription on the Statue of Liberty? Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Yes, I understand that we have homeless--soldiers and civilians--on our streets that we haven’t found the perfect solution to care for. Yes, I understand that there is debt and infrastructure imbalance that weighs on us a country. Yes, I understand that we’ve been damaged and wounded by terror and corruption. I feel all of that. But I cannot see how any of that justifies the idea that we have a right to categorize an entire people based on race or religion, or that we have the right to deny sanctuary to those whose homes and country have been destroyed by war.

My family is everything to me. I love my husband and daughter with every cell in my body. And I will protect them. But not through fear. If you came to me today and asked me to take in a Syrian family who has somehow managed to survive war and terror long enough to make it to our country, I would set more places at the table and break out the air mattresses. If a Muslim family moved next door, I would welcome them to the neighborhood by bringing them a gift card to a nearby restaurant (because, let’s face it, that’s more welcoming than my cooking).

I would not do this out of naivete, but out of love for my fellow man. I would do it because the God I believe in is not a God who promotes fear and suspicion, but love and tolerance and acceptance. Because I don’t believe God is Christian or Catholic or Jewish or Hindu or Buddhist or Muslim, but bigger than any of our fragile human classifications. Because his son was once a refugee. Because his son accepted and associated with people from all walks of life, regardless of the possible “risk” involved. And if that’s not how you see God, then I’m afraid we don’t follow the same one.

I understand and accept that I do not have The Solution for so many of the terrible things humanity faces today--I simply have my opinion. I don’t know the Right Answer for keeping guns out of the hands of people who would seek to do others harm. I don’t know the Right Answer for how to keep the load-balance of our country’s infrastructure and finances at a sustainable level. I don’t know the Right Answer for stopping ISIS or the next terrorist group. I don’t know the Right Answer for any of it.

I just know that as a member of the human race, I cannot see how denying suffering people even a modicum of peace and classifying people based on their religion can even be considered. It’s not something I will post in a meme or fill my Facebook statuses with; doing so seems to only rile up those who sit in opposition to my opinions. And I won’t argue with you that your opinion is wrong or mine is right. That doesn’t solve anything.

I will continue to donate, support, and vote my conscience. And I will show my daughter that for every person living in fear, there are those who move in love. That the loudest voice isn’t always speaking the best words. And that we study history to learn from it, not to repeat it.

Cover reveal and Book Trailer: Beyond the Wail

I'm excited, and a little bit nervous (let's call it 60/40), to share with you the cover and book trailer for "Beyond the Wail: 12 Grave Tales of Love and Loss," the paranormal anthology that my story, Dead Water, will appear in on October 10th, along with 11 other spooky tales.

Dead Water

"Two brothers embark on a road trip intending on using the peace and quiet at a lakeside cabin to help make the broken pieces of their lives once more form a recognizable picture. However, along the way they experience car trouble, stumble across an eerie, inexplicably flooded cemetery, and end up in a seemingly abandoned small town which (unfortunately for them) plays host to a homicidal lake. Encountering the impossible forces the brothers to face issues both have tried to keep buried and exhumes truths that may otherwise have stayed hidden."

As this is my first published short story, I believe I can sum up my reaction rather succinctly.

So, in the midst of organizing your Halloween decorations, make sure to watch this space for more information on how you can get your copy of this collection of strange, ghostly, and all together creepy stories.

Elevensies (from 2012)

Elevensies (aka Liebster Award tag fulfillment)

It's nearing the end of 2012, and this is my first blog post of the year. I. Am. On. Fire.

2012 hasn't been an easy year for my little family, so my grand ambition to have my first novel completed by the time the Mayan's claim game over has not really panned out. But! I have been writing. I've been writing my bloody heart out. Fictional "tie in" novels based on TV shows (aka fanfiction) that I can lay no claim to and that are posted online for the sheer enjoyment of storytelling and gathering reviews from others who've had fun reading. It's damn good practice; I've gained enough confidence to say I've found my style. *confetti and mini parade for me*

This month starts NaNoWriMo and I'm going for it. I may not finish the novel, but 50K words is a decent start, I'd say. In an effort to learn more from the writing and publishing world, I joined Twitter and started following several indie writers. The writing talent out there is staggering -- and the varied differences in style and interest is encouraging. It's a real privilege to read their blogs and their story excerpts and learn from their journey.

One of these writer-bloggers, Steve Montano, 'tagged' me with something called a "Liebster Award." I've never heard of this thing, but the directions seemed easy enough and I figured it was as good a way as any to get me back into blogging -- since that seems to be the thing to do when one is climbing the Novel Writing Mountain.

Basically, the deal is this: you provide 11 random facts about yourself, answer 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you, pick 11 bloggers to pass this award on to, and ask them 11 questions of your own.  

And, since I'm a fledgling in the writer-blogger world, some of you nominated (below) will have never heard of me before, so here's my virtual version of a typical Midwestern hey therehowsit goin'.  *waves* Those who do know me, good t'see ya. *smiles*

*takes breath* Here goes nothin'.

11 Random Facts About Myself:

1) I have a terrible sense of direction. I have been known to get lost in my hometown. 

2) I have four tattoos, each with specific meaning to my journey in life and each with a word in Irish Gaelic.

3) I love music -- all genres. A good day for me always includes music. I must write with it: earbuds in, playlist selected, lost inside the story.

4) I fell in love with storytelling when I was 10 and read "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the first time. I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 13 and read "The Outsiders" for the first time.

5) I love red wine. I like to drink it in a big wine glass so that I have to drink slowly.

6) I am a sucker for humanized superhero stories, movies and TV shows. The damaged hero will draw me in every time.

7) I learned to drive a five speed in a Porsche 911; I can also change a tire, change the oil in my car, and drive a tractor. 

8) I grew up and live in the Midwest USA, but I've been to 48 of the 50 States and (so far) five countries outside of the States. The fact that I made it home from each of those trips has my family in awe (see Random Fact #1).

9) I am extremely ticklish and have been known to get violent if such a thing is dared. I cannot help it; it's pure reflex.

10) I cannot stick to an exercise routine. The latest focus for me has been boxing. Turns out I'm pretty good a punching. Who knew. This one may last the longest.

11) My family is my world. My husband, daughter, and I are the "Three Musketeers." Everything I accomplish in life has meaning only if they are a part of it.

11 Answers to the 11 Questions Steve gave me:

1. What would you do for a Klondike bar?

Probably nothing. Ach, boring answer. Ice cream and I have a love/hate relationship. I love, it hates. Now, if you'd asked me what I'd do for some dark chocolate with sea salt, my answer would have been extremely different. I'll let your mind wander. 

2. Shotgun, dual pistols, or a sniper rifle?

Depends on what I'm trying to hit. But, as a general, all-purpose answer: shotgun. Less chance of missing my target. 

3. Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffee.  

4. Last good movie you saw.

Hmm. I love movies -- all genres, too. So, I'd have to classify this a bit, I think. "The Bourne Legacy" was the last good action movie I saw. "The Raven" was the last good mystery/horror movie I saw. "The Dark Knight Rises" was the last good superhero movie I saw. "The Lucky One" was the last good chicflick/romance I saw.

I think, though, I'd have to say "Flowers of War" was the last good
movie movie. It opened my eyes to a part of history I'd previously not been aware of and made me cry harder than any movie had in a long time.

5. Joel or Mike?  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then shame on you!)

Joel. Hands down.  

6. Favorite TV show?

Supernatural. If you visit my LiveJournal you'll figure that out pretty fast. However, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, and Game of Thrones are pretty close in the running.

7. Favorite alcoholic beverage?  (If you’re not a drinker, what’s one of your culinary guilty pleasures?)

Cabernet. Though there are days a Newcastle ale just hits the spot. 

8. Last good book you read?

It's a tie between Tana French's "Broken Harbor," and Christopher Beuhlman's "Those Across the River." Possibly because I read them roughly at the same time. 

9. If you could live in someone else’s body for one day, who would it be?

Jessica Biel. Fit, pretty, healthy-looking. 

10. Preferred superpower?

The power to heal by touch.  

11. Aliens or vampires?

Duh. Vampires. The non-sparkly kind, of course. 

...wait, are they good-looking aliens or the scary, Ridley Scott aliens?

The Triple-7 Challenge: "Losers Weepers" edition

What better way to smash the champagne bottle on my new website/blog than to participate in a challenge, eh? I was nominated by fellow Paranormal Anthology author, Nicole Payne to take part in the 777 Challenge. *virtual fist bump of thanks* Sorry it took me a bit to comply. Life.

THE CHALLENGE: SHARE 7 LINES FROM PAGE 7 OF YOUR MANUSCRIPT + TAG 7 BLOGGERS.

As the manuscript of my novel doesn't actually have a page 7 quite yet, I'm going to share an excerpt from my first published short story, debuting in Xchyler Publishing’s newest paranormal collection this fall.

The book’s title: Soon to be determined 

The book’s theme: “Losers Weepers”

My short story’s title: “Dead Water”

In this scene, brothers Graham and Tommy McQueen have realized their broken-down truck has effectively stranded them on a deserted road in the backwoods of Michigan  with no visible means of rescue. They begin what amounts to the most frightening trek of their lives. And yeah, okay, I kind of broke the rules by including 9 lines.

They cleaned out any valuables from the truck cab then grabbed their bags from the bed. Graham slung the strap of his ancient duffel across his shoulders, the bag hitting him at the hip. Tommy managed to hook his left arm through the strap of his military-issue backpack, the name McQueen standing out at the top in black letters. Graham watched as Tommy worked to shrug the pack onto his right shoulder. Unable to help himself, he stepped forward, intending on sliding the strap in place for his brother.
"I got this," Tommy said softly, halting Graham's movement.
"I'm just gonna--"
"I said I got it." In an instant, Tommy's low voice lost its softness and turned into a thing with edges that sliced just from the pain of existing.

That's it for now, folks. Tune in for the full story - along with its 11 companions - in October! I believe all of my fellow anthology authors have been tagged by others, but there's no harm in double-tagging, yeah? Therefore, I'm tagging the following writers I'd like to see more from:

JA Allen

AF Stewart

J. Aurel Guay

Julie Barnson

Peter Dawes

TC Nicolls

Jen Kirchner

Of course, if you read this and want to play along, far be it from me to stop you. Tagging is only the start of the adventure. 

Slainte!

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