Category Archives: Books
Issue 14 is out! This issue concludes the EmotoSerial, Swing Zone, by author Jodi McClure and digital artist Zach Revale. Edited by yours truly.
The purists run into problems during their covert city mission, leaving Mia in a dangerous position. Coltis must contend with Zavier Blancharde and his cruel idea of retribution, which includes an ultimatum that leaves Lakeside reeling. After an explosive encounter, Mia finds herself out on the streets. Coltis has a tense standoff with Drew and discovers just how Commander Blancharde has been using his newly found powers. When the dusts of war finally settle, which side of the line will Mia be on? Expect the unexpected in this huge, action-packed finale!
So I’m giving it to you, for free, if you comment below with the following:
1. Your favorite issue of Swing Zone and why
2. Your favorite character in Swing Zone and why
3. Your email address
That’s it. But you only have until the end of the day on Sunday, May 5th. After that the giveaway will be closed and I’ll only listen to your pleas if I really, really like you.
This giveaway is now closed.
But really, what I want to say is thank you. Thank you to all the readers of Swing Zone and the fans of Grit City Publications who have supported the creative teams in even the smallest ways. We do this all for you.
I’ve had a tough few weeks, on a few levels, but it’s forced me into introspection, and it’s become habitual for me to recognize this as a good thing. One of my resolutions for the new year was to maintain consistent positivity. Positive thinking. Positive expression.
The thinking part of it is pretty impossible, but I think it’s most important that I stay positive on the exterior. It’s kind of like the threefold law, or karma, or whatever. The energy you send out gets returned to you. Energy is only borrowed, after all.
Admittedly, I was just tired of all the complaints. My Facebook newsfeed. The real news. The media. Everything. It was so bad that, at one point last year, I recognized that a single person I knew was always posting positive updates. Even when everything went to hell. Her optimism was inspiring. And practical, too, because expressing an attitude like that benefits everyone.
I’ve always found it useful to think in relative terms. Even at a point in my life when I was technically poor, I was still an American with opportunities to overcome it. Even when I’ve been depressed because a dozen little things didn’t go my way, I focused on everything else I have.
One thing that every American has, and almost every American takes for granted, is freedom. It’s a common subject to preach, especially in military culture. Freedom isn’t free. We know that because we’ve served or loved people who’ve served to protect our freedom.
I’m not saying that everyone else isn’t appreciative. But in general, there’s a lot of political commentary about recent and current wars and the motives behind them. I’m not discussing how our government might or might not abuse our troops. What I appreciate is the presence of our troops. Because without a military presence, we wouldn’t be able to defend our freedom.
Slavery, for most of us, is this vague far-away, long-ago concept. We forget that the whole world is not on our page. It’s easy to forget, really, in a culture like ours. So obsessed with other stuff…
We can read history books and books on cultures where slavery is still common or accepted. But it still exists a lot of surprising places, in some form or another. But we’re disconnected from the reality of that. What we need, to really understand, is empathy. And that doesn’t come from lectures, textbooks, or research.
It can come from fiction, though.
This is just one example. Fiction explores all kinds of themes in human history, society, and culture. The writers of these books do the research, then create the world and the characters to be real. To exist for a purpose. And within some of these stories, we can experience these themes we’d otherwise know nothing about.
Fiction can provide perspective.
That’s why literature is taught in schools. It is, actually, educational. So these adults I meet who don’t “waste” their time with fiction because it’s just “entertainment,” have probably not read much fiction to begin with. Because otherwise, they’d know better, right?
Fiction is life. It’s based on truth. It’s based on people. People write it. People consume it. It changes people. It can even inspire revolution. It has so much power. I can’t stand how easily it is disregarded by some.
Okay, rant over. So much for positivity.
In other news, my friend, Shawna, has created a fundraising team for MS. I interview her in my recent blog post at GCP’s website. Please help spread the word, and thanks in advance.
My reactions to life tend to surprise people sometimes. Perhaps that means I’m a bit different. Shocking, yeah?
I’m reading Honolulu by Alan Brennert. The story begins in Korea in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and it’s told from a female perspective. But the segregation and general sexist themes of the culture and time don’t make headlines in my mind. I’ve dealt with these controversial subjects in college and don’t always pay attention to them in fiction, beyond what they’re intended to portray. Instead, I looked at what that life had that ours doesn’t.
A sense of community and pride, for one.
The women, although separated from the males in their own families, were close to the other women in the village. They all shared the same responsibilities. Everyday, they’d meet at the creek to wash clothes– tediously, with a board and a bat– but they also used the time to socialize. The main character even pointed out that she enjoyed the repetitive motions and sounds of beating the clothes against the board. That makes total sense to me. But do modern Americans find enjoyment in any of our chores?
I do laundry several times a week. I do dishes daily. I clean the floors, clean up after the dogs, make food… all without really considering what I’m doing. I feel this vague sense of accomplishment once I’m finished, but that lasts only a moment before I’m on to the next thing. Why not enjoy the act of doing it? I’d be happy for a longer period of time.
Our lives are so convenient. I’m not saying that we should forgo our automatic washing machines and wash our clothes in the creek, but we’re pretty quick to complain about “laundry day” as though it actually takes us an entire day to launder our family’s clothes. And so what if it did? We’d be outdoors, doing a mild form of exercise, with less time for sedentary things like watching TV.
Now we complain that we’re too busy for time outside, and then we complain that we don’t get outdoors enough. But what are we so busy doing? Seems like adapting a simpler lifestyle would not only make us rearrange our priorities, but also make us appreciate what we have.
We don’t come together as communities anymore. I’m lucky if I run into one single person I know at the grocery store. We don’t make time to socialize. We work long hours to acquire things we don’t need, then complain about not having the time to enjoy them. Material, unimportant things.
So sometimes, when I read books or watch movies about how things used to be, I don’t focus on all the bad. I recognize the bad, and how we’ve evolved, but I see also what we’ve lost. Because I think we should get it back.
But then, I’m a little different.
Speaking of differences, I went to the dentist yesterday. This is always an adventure. The people who worked at my former dentist’s office all knew me, so conversation was familiar and easy. This new place, though, is just amusing. First, it’s a dental spa. Not an office. A spa. They ask you if you’d like a hand massage while you get your teeth cleaned. It totally freaks me out. Then they give you a rose when you leave. Also creepy.
Last time I was there, the hygienist asked me about life and, of course, I spoke idly of my son. It turns into this:
Hygienist: “Aw that’s so sweet that you have a baby.”
Me: “Yes, thanks. But that’s why I can’t have any local. I’m nursing.”
Hygienist: “Aw how old is your baby?”
Me: “Um about 18 months.”
I felt zero obligation to defend myself or explain the merits of extended breastfeeding to this girl. She didn’t speak to me the rest of the visit, though.
Yesterday, it was a different hygienist, but still fun.
Hygienist: “Do you watch The Bachelorette?”
Hygienist: “It’s my favorite show. It’s down to two. I can’t wait to find out who it will be on Monday.”
Me: Silence, although it’s only Wednesday, so I’m wondering what this girl does with her life if she’s so stuck on this one TV show days in advance.
Hygienist: “Do you watch any TV shows?”
Me: “Yeah. The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy.”
Hygienist: “Oh. I’ve never heard of them. What are they about?”
Me: “Zombies and motorcycle gangs.”
Yep. I let the uncomfortable silence hang on there for the next 10 minutes or so. Just for fun.