Category Archives: writing

More Alternate Truths…

Well, I am very excited and happy to announce that I’ve had another story published.  It is in the book More Alternative Truths, available at Amazon.

I will be very honest – I wrote a story for this anthology, not because I was politically motivated, but because I need money.  I have a couple of Facebook friends who have stories in the first volume, Alternative Truths.  One of them happened to mention that the first one had done so well that the publisher was going to publish a second volume, and had a call out for stories.  Somewhere around the same time, or maybe a little after, my other friend mentioned that she had gotten her royalties for the story she had in the first book.  And the amount she mentioned was enough that I decided to submit a story to the second volume.  So, not politically motivated, at all.

However, as I was pondering what I wanted to write about, I started remembering some of the things my dad said to me before he passed away.  My dad was a sociologist and a counselor.  He studied people, governments, civilizations.  Retirement did not stop his interest in how people acted, what the politicians were doing, how the world was faring.  And my dad started making predictions to me, based on his knowledge of how civilizations grew and died, and how people tended to act and/or respond.

His predictions were accurate.  And scary.

I knew about class riots in America before Occupy Wall Street.  I knew about race riots in America before Ferguson.  I knew there would be police assassinations two years before Dallas.  I knew about the refugee situation in Europe, quite some time before it happened.  When that started making the news, my dad looked at me and said, “I really thought we had another generation to go before this.”

The last two predictions that my dad made haven’t really happened yet.  Maybe.  He told me that if Trump was elected – and he passed away before he saw it – that America would go up in flames.  I asked him how, and he said he didn’t know if it would be internal revolution – which he said America was ripe for – or if Trump would get us into another World War.  That is a scary thought.

He also told me that my knowledge of herbal medicine would make me a valuable commodity – “soon.”  That prediction frightens me even more.

In thinking about my father’s wisdom and predictions, my story suddenly coalesced into shape and form.  What would happen if the Affordable Care Act was completely repealed?  If things like being overweight or having asthma were “pre-existing conditions” with corresponding extra large premium payments.  I thought of a relative who stays alive with very expensive gamma globulin treatments.  Where would he be, if his family did not have insurance? What happens to diabetics when insulin costs a thousand dollars for a week’s supply?  I pondered this, and had my own vision of the future.

And suddenly, I was writing “The Healer”.

Only, unfortunately, while my story is set about six years into the future, the reality of it is present today.  I was describing the background of my story to a member of the medical profession.  Every sentence that I said, she said something along the lines of “But that is already happening.”  “We already have this going on today.” “This is real, not fiction.”  The elements that form the background of my story are very real and present, not in the future, but today.

When my story was accepted for this book, I was thrilled and excited.  While writing my story was not politically motivated, it became a tribute to my father’s memory, and especially his wisdom.  As I was writing my story, I remembered our many discussions on life, politics, America, the world, life after death, religion…so much.

But my story is only one of many.  When I was sent the full author’s list, my jaw dropped.  There are award winning authors in this book – people whose books and stories have been on my shelves for years.  I have the magazine (1982, I think) that David Brin’s novella “The Postman” is in.  It has been read and reread.  It is on my list of stories or books that I like to read when I am depressed, because they give me hope.  I also have the expanded novel – and that has been reread, as well.  Jane Yolen – as a story teller, I was definitely acquainted with the folk story books she has edited – and as an early childhood teacher, I am also familiar with the children’s stories she has written.  I used one of David Gerrold’s books as a reference for a term paper I did in college on Star Trek.  That was back in the 70s.  Mike Resnick.  Esther Friesner.  Elizabeth Ann Scarborough.  Vonda N. McIntyre.  So many more.  People whose stories and books have been in my library for years and even decades.  It is so hard for me to describe how I felt when I found that my story was accepted with these amazing writers.  I still find it hard to believe.

Of course, the editing helped.  Lou J. Berger, Rebecca McFarland Kyle, Phyllis Irene Radford, and Bob Brown – it is amazing how good editing can tighten a story.  I hadn’t realized how much passive language I had used in it until I got back the first edits.  You can learn a lot about how to write from a good editor.  And of course, as they are writers as well as editors, you can read some of their works in this book.  Rebecca has a story in The Ladies of Trade Town.  I met her in person at the book launch event – because the first story that I ever sold, “The Oldest Profession?” is also in that book.

The stories, poetry, songs, and essays in this book vary widely.  Some will make you laugh.  Some will make you cry.  They all will make you think.  I have not read all of the stories yet.  I am stretching it out, savoring each one.  Laughing out loud at one story, wiping my eyes and swallowing hard at another.   Concentration camp trains, ghosts,  witches, taxes and the Ten Commandments – as edited by Trump.  All that and more can be found in this book.

So far, my favorite is a piece of poetry, “A Sonnet on Truth (after Spinoza)” by Philip Brian Hall.  I think one of the reasons that I like it so much is that a couple of weeks ago, I posted something on Facebook about truth, and how we only see what we want to see.  I also tell a version of a story that may be found in one of those books of Folk Tales that Jane Yolen edited.  When I tell it to children, I ask them what they think it means.  One child answered “When you believe something is true, everything you see will reinforce that belief, even when it isn’t true.”

Ray Bradbury once wrote, “I am not an optimist.  I am an optimat behaviorist, which means every day I write and create and in creating, help to change the world, I hope, for the better.”  It is my hope and prayer that maybe enough people will see the vision of the world that this book presents – and will start to work to change that future for the better.

Or at least, maybe a few more people will start to learn about the medicinal properties of herbs.  I know I am going to continue my studies…

In the meantime, please buy this book.  https://www.amazon.com/More-Alternative-Truths-Stories-Resistance/dp/0998963437/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1510729225&sr=8-1

Book cover More alternative truths

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My first story sale.

For those who are unaware, I am a writer.  Now, I don’t just mean the occasional blog that I post (and I really need to post more often)

No, I mean I actually write fiction and non-fiction, and when I’m fortunate and blessed, I actually am able to sell them.  I have been writing poetry, songs, and music for decades, mostly for myself.

But a few years ago, I was inspired to write a story and offer it for sale.  It happened like this…

I am a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is a historical recreation group that studies the renaissance and middle ages.  They hold a large event in Mississippi in March called Gulf Wars – and by large, I mean 4-5000 people or more.  Also held in March, in Memphis, is a science fiction convention called MidSouthCon.  Usually there would be a fairly large contingent of local (and not so local) members of the SCA who would present a demonstration of fighting styles, arts and sciences, and information on joining.  This particular year, however, the last few days of Gulf Wars and MidSouthCon were being held on the same weekend.  The people who were organizing the demo were desperately needing more people to attend, so they sent out a call – if you could come, you could get a hefty discount off the entrance fee.

This particular year, I was not going to go to Gulf Wars.  I had been to a couple of conventions when I lived in California and had enjoyed them.  I took a look at the MidSouthCon website.  Oh, my.  They had professional development available for teachers who attended.  They had a full track of programming for writers.  They had science and kid activities and movies and gaming and anime…and more.  And (notice I’m repeating this) a full track of programming for writers.

I volunteered.  And had a blast. And learned a lot from the seminars and panels that I attended.  And decided then and there that I wanted to come back the following year.  But I didn’t want to pay for it.  So I decided to come back – but as a guest.

Now, I not only do I do historical re-enactment, but I also do school programs.  I am on the Arkansas Arts in Education roster, Arkansas Arts on Tour, and the Mid-America Arts Alliance roster.  My two programs are “Life in a Castle” and “Life in a Log Cabin.”  Someone who knew that I liked to write, and also that I did these historical programs, suggested that I put together a program aimed specifically towards people who were interested in writing historical fiction or non-fiction, and fantasy set in a medieval type world.  I thought that was a good idea, so I had already started thinking about it.

When MidSouthCon rolled around the next year, I applied to be a guest.  Now, what I didn’t know, was I should have applied about two months earlier.  When I got the response back, I was told that I had applied too late to have my own presentation – however, they wanted to put me on a couple of panels.  So they did, and I was thrilled.

Lee Martindale moderated one of the panels I was on.  At the end of the panel, she announced an open call for a new anthology.  The title was The Ladies of Trade Town, and the theme was the oldest profession.  Everybody burst out laughing.

Lee went on to say that she did NOT want erotica, she did NOT want heavy horror, but light horror and any other genre was acceptable.  Everyone is still laughing.  Into my mind came the thought,

“That’s NOT the oldest profession.”

then,

“What IS the oldest profession?”

At that moment, I had a vision.  Adam, Lilith (who according to some myths was Adams first wife) and the serpent are all LOUDLY arguing over who had the oldest profession.

On the seventh day.

When God was trying to rest.

The story wrote itself in about 15 minutes, and became the first story I ever sold.

So far, I have sold a handful of stories to anthologies, a thin non-fiction book of self-affirmations and meditations, a few newspaper stories and features, and I write a magazine column on herbs.  I also have two or three fantasy novels and one science fiction novel in progress, and I have finished a couple of children’s picture books.  Hopefully I will eventually get them all published.

Oh, and the world’s oldest profession?  You’ll have to buy the book to find out.  It is the last story. .Ladies of Trade town cover