Navigating the Holidays by Angela Grace

Women and Words

The holidays are right around the corner.  Many of us will be spending time with family and friends.  Creating or being in a joyful environment may be a tough task due to the ongoing political divisions in the nation.  Spending the holidays with loved ones who believe what they hear from Fox News, Rush or Breitbart may be aggravating, upsetting or stressful and put an ugly taint on your holidays.

Preparation is helpful as you navigate your holidays with “Uncle Extreme.” Take a moment to consider what is important for you this year.  When conversations heat up will you play it safe and lay low, maybe push back a little or go full throttle? Perhaps making a plan ahead of time about how you will react and what you will say would be helpful.

Typically, one tactic for dealing with potentially uncomfortable or even confrontational conversations is steering the conversation…

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A Visit from the Nano Muse

H_witch_writing

It’s the night before NaNo and all through the house
Every creature is scrambling, including my spouse
The Halloween costumes had filled me with dread
But now my three munchkins are all Living Dead

Out the door they go bravely, three kids and adult
Upon their return, I’ll be deep in the cult
My fingers will twitch while I watch the clock
Unable to start until midnight will knock

It’s then that their nightmare begins to grow real
I’ll be like the undead to them, that’s our deal
They all are on warning, they all know the curse
The Nano attack will have Mom in full verse

I’m not doing laundry, I’m not cooking meals
I’m not driving errands, no matter who squeals
Instead I’ll be dancing with plot twists and devices
Not caring one bit about pre-Christmas prices

I’ll stop for Thanksgiving, but just for that day
My family comes first, and besides I can pray
That my muse breaks her silence, or gives me a peek
So my word output doubles during the last week

And just when they think that I gave up the ghost
From the office I’ll shamble, but ready to boast
“I did it,” I’ll say, “fifty thousand words, plus!
“The novel is finished. We can all readjust.”

For NaNo I give up a month of my life
The children will suffer, and so will my wife
My eyes will be bloodshot, my back wracked with pain
As I make plans for next year, when I’ll do it again

~ Genta Sebastian 2013

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) since 2011, under the name Mother Goose. I won the first five years in a row, but struggled the last two.

This year, once more, I’m diving into the breach! Who’s with me?

NaNo Ninja Empath

For the NaNo-ites among us!

Women and Words

It’s November, the National Novel Writing Month, also known as The NaNo, is upon us.

It’s an exciting time for me.

plug

Across the vast internet, social networking sites, and personal blogs, you will find encouragement, advice, and inspiration. You can almost hear the screams of frustration, see the overflowing ashtrays, empty coffee cups, snack wrappers, and feel the ripping sensation of authors round the world staring at an empty page and tearing at the hair.

messy desk

I have a great imagination:)

Oh yeah, I’m also an Empath.

For me, The NanoWriMo is so much more than a contest, or gimmick, or mere momentary connection.

I enjoy the pull of anticipation of people coming together, plugging in, to accomplish a common goal: Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

The first time I joined in on the challenge, I hadn’t been published yet – it was just a faraway dream for…

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WatchdogWatchdog by Will McIntosh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Watchdog, by Will McIntosh – A fun, action-packed, read!

Will McIntosh’s Watchdog is set in the slums of Chicago, where hungry children scramble over heaps of rotting garbage for something to pawn. It serves up an ugly near-futuristic view from the perspective of orphaned thirteen-year-old Vick, saddled too young with the responsibility for his autistic twin sister. Interest in the disorder is at an all-time high, and his struggle to keep Tara safe while dealing with the complexities of her autism was both entertaining and thought-provoking. Vick’s fierce, unforgiving anger toward the bullies who scared his crying sister rang true, as did his grudging acceptance when he discovered some assumptions were wrong.

The author gives us two unlikely heroes, fraternal twins both physically weak but with unseen strengths. Tara is small and looks half her age but is a genius with electronics. Her twin brother suffers from severe asthma attacks, but Vick is a natural leader with his own genius for survival. McIntosh pits their very existence against the mindless violence of underground robotic watchdogs, horrific mechanical creations being designed as specific weaponry by a crime lord.

Described as a nightmarish version of robotic animals, the watchdogs are only mechanical…until Tara finds a stolen military microchip. She modifies her own small robot pet, Daisy, who springs to life, literally, as a fully realized soldier capable of collecting and analyzing data, constructing and modifying her own mechanical body, and updates strategies based upon new intel. So far, she hasn’t spoken but as a reader I feel hopeful that ability will be forthcoming.

I enjoyed the book very much, but I rather reluctantly agree with another reviewer who remarked that the villain resembled a Disney cartoon. Mrs. Alba, a rather-neatly realized black-marketeer who rules with the expected fear, lies, and intimidation, is utterly dependable, showing up at the right time with the right tricks to make her a clear villain with no redeeming qualities.

However, Vick, Tara, and the crew they gather seeking to escape the clutches of Mrs. Alba’s evil henchlings, each enjoys human quirks and failings and the charming stumbles of young adults seeking to define themselves. Vick and his friends share the undeniable determination to right wrongs, to protect the vulnerable, and adherence to a code of ethics so essential to young people in their early teens.

All in all, my disappointment in a somewhat two-dimensional villain is thoroughly outweighed by my delight that all violence is contained between mechanical watchdogs. The battle scenes are skillfully drawn, action packed and very exciting, without becoming mired in gore. And, I must say, Mr. McIntosh’s refreshingly frank portrayal of adults as uncaring and threatening reminded me of Roald Dahl’s most fascinating works, where unlikely children must defend themselves and rise above the dark designs of adults to shine through as their authentic selves.

I give the book five stars, feeling free to recommend it to anyone who enjoys character-driven YA literature. I hope there will be a sequel or series following Vick, Tara, and their gang into this new dystopian future.

Genta Sebastian – award-winning author of Riding the Rainbow

View all my reviews

Death and Love

Death and Love

Review:

Death and Love at the Old Summer House

Dolores Maggiore

Young Adult Mystery

It’s summer 1959 and sixteen-year-old Pina and her best friend, Katie, know something horrible happened when their parents were kids at a now forgotten and rotting old camp.

Pina has painful dreams which force her to relive whatever happened through the eyes of the participants. Terrified, she turns to Katie for understanding and support. As the girls grow closer, Pina realizes she’s fallen in love with her friend but is terrified to tell in case it ruins everything between them.

 When they discover Katie’s father had a homosexual encounter when he attended the old camp and might have been involved in an unreported murder, it brings everything into sharper focus. The two girls chase clues to not only the unraveling mystery but also their feelings for each other and the complexities of adult love.

Death and Love at the Old Summer Camp is a fun story for young adults and anyone who remembers the first time puppy love grew up.

5-stars

 

 

From Sapphire Blog

Herstorical Fiction

by Genta Sebastian

Lesbian sheroes in herstorical fiction are viewed with suspicion. How, critics ask, can an author know what lesbians could get away with in times past with only a few first-person records available? We have proof women’s opinions were ignored, their triumphs and words erased from public record. We know men’s writings from/about these time periods reflect patriarchal societies doling harsh punishment to women who dared assert themselves. Women, the argument goes, were so repressed that it is disingenuous to portray lesbians (or any woman) in herstory as powerful in her own right, who embraced her own identity and lived outside the heteronormative community standards.

My answer is simple: people are inherently the same now as they have been in the past. Sure, the rules of societies change throughout herstory, with times of great repression and others of more freedom, but the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of humanity do not. The rules of the game may change over time, but the players remain largely the same.

My lesfic sheroes, set in times and places that are not here and now, react to historical stimuli in as varied and diverse ways as any modern character. Integrity, pride, dreams, adaptability, the drive to succeed and be loved, are human qualities as valid for lesbian protagonists in fiction as they are for any other characters that might be male and/or straight.

Well-written characters illuminate universal truth. As long as lesfic readers search for relativity, the sheroes of herstorical lesfic will triumph.

Genta Sebastian is an award winning  author with a backlist that includes YA novels, science fiction, lesbian erotica, and romance. Located in the thriving art center that is the Twin Cities, she is a professional storyteller with vast experience in entertaining audiences of all ages (and most proclivities). A traveler by  nature, she tours the continental U.S. entertaining folks from all  walks of life. With her work often compared to authors John Steinbeck and S.E.  Hinton, her love of people, with all their frailty and failings, brings a rich  breadth and depth to her characters and settings. Her next novel in the When Butches cry series will be out in 2018.

Reclaiming the Perverted

Can it be done?

Yesterday, two things happened on my Facebook feed at the same time: one friend put up an image of a Hindu swastika saying it meant welcome and shouldn’t be condemned as a Nazi symbol. Almost immediately afterward, someone else put up a Confederate flag, saying it was a symbol that stands for Southern history and pride, not racism. I felt sucker punched. Both of these people are good folks, working to change the world for the better. How did they not understand?

Both friends received immediate mixed reviews. Some posters agreed, using their intelligence or knowledge of world history to insist the affected race/generations get over their ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to these images. Others, realizing the innocence and good intentions of the image poster, urged their friend to take down the offensive image, for their own sake. The one who posted the Confederate flag image, after being told stories of what that flag had stood for during slavery, the civil war, through jim crow to murder by police, took down the image and replaced it with a sincere and truly heart-felt apology. That was easy to explain, however. The Confederate flag had never stood for anything else except hate.

The responses from people opposed to displaying the swastika, interestingly enough, were drowned out by a number of starry-eyed, mostly young, idealists who have only experienced the evil of that symbol through novels and mini-series, classroom textbooks, or movies, the exact same way they learned about the innocent origins of a Hindu symbol. Three generations or more removed from Hitler’s atrocities, they claim the right to redefine the meaning of the swastika in the name of those who suffered under it, presumably in the name of modernism. They seem to see great positivity in trying to reclaim it as one of warmth and welcome, to shake loose its negative connotations.

Today, my friend put up another post, this time without the symbol but naming it, asking if it had been wrong for him to post it yesterday. Again, the majority of people, supportive friends, gave him plenty of props for being brave enough to put it up. Since the young person in question is actively involved in making the world better for LGBTQI youth, I believe he would rather I offer him a sound argument than blow smoke up his euphemism, so I responded with this.


I really do understand the support offered for your stance on posting something innocent that was twisted into evil. And I do understand the understanding offered by those unaffected by the Nazis, or those who are more than two-generations removed.

But, as many of my Trans friends have pointed out to me lately, it’s not okay to tell people you didn’t hurt them, when you actually did. It wasn’t intentional. It certainly wasn’t what you meant when you posted the image. But to some in their seventies and eighties (those who lived through it) that symbol alone creates a trigger response unlike any you’ve heard about before. The sheer evil that’s come to be associated with that symbol (however perverted) is living, breathing history to some of those around us.

I have dozens of older Facebook friends. Many of them will now see your post, because I chose to answer you. I am grateful you didn’t put the same image back up again on this post, because I really don’t want to subject them to seeing it. That’s why I never answered you yesterday. The pain is as raw today, for some of them who will never get beyond it, as it was when they lived through it so long ago.

In seventy years, you’ll be the generation looking back on whatever horrors are unfolding under our current regime. Perhaps, if we’re not wise enough to learn from the history of the past, we may be doomed to repeat it. If you survive, remembering those who did not, what will seeing an image of the orange imposter do to you? You won’t know until you get there.

Sometimes you cannot reclaim what was perverted. The poor fellow who drew the original Pepe the Frog will never get his creation back under his control, it’s been perverted beyond all reason. The Hindu symbol that is not a Nazi swastika may be well received in the part of the world where it originated and is fully understood, but here (except for certain Native Americans who have used the symbol for centuries) and in Europe it stands for only one thing: White Supremacy

(Name Protected) was right. You’ll never know how many people were hurt by seeing that symbol yesterday, they’ve more than likely already blocked you. If you are open-minded enough to understand why All Lives Matter is insensitive and dismissive of the black civil rights movement by demanding people accept a white version of equality, then you can wrap your head around this. And telling those triggered by any form of the swastika they need to get over it, rise above it, or use their intelligence to accept the truth, is denying the way a wounded psyche works.

I think you should create a new symbol of peace and equality, Original Poster, something we can all rally around to lead us out of this nightmare we’re sharing. The crow’s foot in a circle had its day. Make a symbol easy to wear on a chain or print on a T-shirt that stands for all that is good in humankind. Give us that instead.


Now here’s where I may have gone off the tracks…



And for that person who skims my post instead of reading it and then decides my hour-long thoughtfully written response is an attack on Original Poster (instead of intelligent discourse) and get all offended on his behalf, let me remind you of something very important: you don’t know me. Don’t dump your assumptions all over me in your rush to defend your friend from an attack that never happened. Original Poster is a friend I’ve had conversations with and I respect him enough to answer his question honestly from my perspective. Sheesh. And the fact that I’m so sure I’ll get trash talk from someone in response to this post is sad and the reason I’m thinking of erasing the entire thing before I post it.

Nah… I’ll have my say no matter how unpopular.


I dunno. Should I have kept my big mouth shut (or words unwritten, as it were)? What would you have done? Let me know with a comment if you think I over reacted or not.

Words and Works of Award Winning Author Genta Sebastian

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