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Category Archives: Family

The First Principle – day 1

The First Principle – day 1

“I know you’ve all heard what happened today during fourth hour…(A) young lady was placed into a juvenile detention center for attempting to change the results of a government-issued pregnancy test in an attempt to avoid the required termination. Though pregnancy is rare due to the success rate of our vaccination program, we would like to remind you that the Posterity Protection and Self-Determination Act was implemented for the good of our country…”

“That’s bull.” Darius Delano crossed his arms…”What gives the government the right to tell her she can’t have a baby?”

FirstPrinciple-258x400On the surface, that’s the core conflict of The First Principle, a young adult science fiction novel with a dystopian flavor and set in the near future. However, author Marissa Shrock has added other layers to the story in which nations as we know them been divided up into new regions, federations, unions, and republics. The United Regions of North America are comprised of Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and their “term law” — as the Posterity Protection and Self-Determination Act is known colloquially — restricts the number of children allowed, and underage mothers must have abortions.

Additionally, religion — specifically Christianity — is frowned upon, and the faithful must practice in secret. Only the heavily-edited Revised Freedom Version of the Bible is allowed, and even it is later collected up and burned.

While reading, one might be reminded of the state of Christianity in China right now, or how restrictive the birth laws are in that country. The futuristic North America that Shrock describes actually exists right now in many countries, and often in more brutal forms.

But there is hope in this story.

When Vivica — the intelligent, headstrong, sixteen-year-old daughter of the governor of the Great Lakes Region — learns she is pregnant, the law-abiding, non-believing teenager begins thinking and acting in ways she never expected as she strives to protect her unborn child.

My eldest niece and I read The First Principle as part of the CSFF Blog Tour, and we will be sharing our impressions of the book over the next couple of days. Meantime, you are invited to visit these other stops on the tour:

Julie Bihn
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Megan @ Hardcover Feedback
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Nissa
Jalynn Patterson
Chawna Schroeder
Jessica Thomas

 

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What’s Your Filter?

Two or more people can look at the same object at the same time, and although they are seeing the same thing, they are not perceiving it the same way.

The filters of experience, prejudice, understanding, philosophy, religion, age, appreciation, comfort or discomfort, good day or bad — all color the way we see the world.

Below are several versions of a photo of the statue of the grieving Christ outside the Oklahoma City National Memorial, commemorating the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Building. Each image is affected by various filters imposed by photo editing software — each filter is overlaid the others, until the image underneath is far different from the original.

Christ (c2015, KB)

Christ (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, with blue duo-tone (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, with blue duo-tone (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, with blue duo-tone, overlaid with a filter to make it appear as if taken circa 1960 (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, with blue duo-tone, overlaid with a filter to make it appear as if taken circa 1960 (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, with blue duo-tone, 1960s, and Cinemascope effects (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, with blue duo-tone, 1960s, and Cinemascope effects (c2015, KB)

See how unexpected interferences or cooperations change what the viewer perceives?

The order matters, as well. If trauma colors our world at a young age, we will view it through a different filter than we might if that same trouble arrived when we were older.

Below, black-and-white and Cinemascope effects were applied in different orders. When the movie effect was applied first, then the monochrome, the image looks crisp. However, when the order was reversed, the image takes on a sepia cast.

Christ in color, as if filmed in Cinemascope (c2015, KB)

Christ in color, as if filmed in Cinemascope (c2015, KB)

Christ in Cinemascope with the color removed (c2015, KB)

Christ in Cinemascope with the color removed (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, then "Cinemascoped" (c2015, KB)

Christ in black and white, then “Cinemascoped” (c2015, KB)

Is there something in life you’re not seeing clearly?

Are there colors you think you’re perceiving, but your friends, colleagues, loved ones — or perfect strangers on social media —  do not view?

Before we impugn one another’s intelligence, reputations, abilities, etcetera, it might be wise to step back and consider the filters through which we — and they — view the world.

 

 

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Books For Sale, Books For Sale!

Books For Sale, Books For Sale!

As is common with editors and book reviewers, I have several books that are proofs / galleys (bound copies of uncorrected books before they are officially published and made available to the public).

However, I also have three published copies of each of these novels — pristine condition, never read, purchased to sell or give away at a book-related event — and I need to sell them ASAP, if at all possible.

Their prices have dropped a little since they were first published, so I’ll take a loss, but I’d rather they weren’t sitting forlorn on my shelf, but being read by folks who appreciate good writing and interesting stories.

Purple Moon1) Purple Moon by Tessa Emily Hall

On Amazon, the book is $11.84 + $3.99 s/h = $15.83, but I’ll send it to you for $13 flat.

Selena’s life isn’t turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid.

That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena … but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn’t how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her “bad habits” for this.

Things don’t seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that’s been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin’s nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom’s example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?

Fatal Transaction2) Fatal Transaction by W. Richard Lawrence

Amazon is offering the book at $11.00 + $3.99 s/h = $14.99. I’ll send it to you for $12.00.

Sara, an expert computer hacker, knows better than to trust anyone certainly not the powerful and crooked business mogul for whom she works. But there is no future for the life of a thief. Determined to find a way out, Sara devises a scheme to double-cross her employer and steal millions through one final fatal transaction.

Desperate and on the run, she finds temporary sanctuary with the mysterious Derry Conway. As the FBI closes in and her former associates seek revenge, Sara tries to escape but finds all avenues blocked. Trapped, she sees only one road out Derry must take the fall and pay for her crimes. But will it work? Is her freedom more important than the life of an innocent man? Or will Sara make the ultimate sacrifice to save those she cares about?

If you’re interested in either or both of these books, send me a private message on Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail. Include your name and mailing address. Payment can be made via check or PayPal. Once the transaction is complete, I will mail the book(s) of your choice.

Many thanks, and happy reading!

 

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Sunday Drives

a view of the Three Sisters across a ranch outside Sisters, Oregon (c2013, KB)

a view of the Three Sisters across a ranch outside Sisters, Oregon (c2013, KB)

Reminiscing with Bubba about “gentle Sunday drives” with our parents, and the life lessons we learned as a result:

1) Orienteering — Dad often insisted he was turning onto the proper road, but we learned to develop a keen sense of direction so that we might actually arrive at our intended destination.

2) Pioneering — Dad just knew that an indentation was indication of ruts and therefore a proper road, but it was most likely just a low spot in the ground, as we discovered after several bumpy rides across country.

3) Engineering — Our Datsun B-210 being high-centered on a rock in the middle of one of those pioneer roads gave us a perfect opportunity to study the function of a fulcrum, and how difficult it can be to dislodge a well-balanced vehicle from said fulcrum.

4) Telling time creatively — Dad’s shortcuts gave rise to “two hours in to a half-hour trip” and a skittishness whenever someone dared mention how much time we’d save if we just took such-and-such shortcut.

Good times.

northern Nevada (c2013, KB)

northern Nevada (c2013, KB)

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in Characters, Family, Journeys, Life, Photography, Stories

 

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“The Eye of Sauron”

The family and I wandered down to Bricktown yesterday to visit Myriad Botanical Gardens, and nearby stood a tower we know well as “the Eye of Sauron”.

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

Surrounded by other structures — including the Crystal Bridge, a massive greenhouse suspended over water — the tower looks like the backdrop for a science fiction film.

IMG_0945^edited

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

A landmark to help orient one while traversing downtown Oklahoma City, the tower can look sinister when lit at night, and the triangular top roughly mimics the fiery eye of the mystical villain from The Lord of the Rings. However, yesterday afternoon, it’s reflected light imparted an otherworldy glow to the park-like setting.

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

The above photo is unenhanced, unedited. I like it, though it doesn’t convey what our eyes saw. The one below is closer, but still misses the mark. But that’s what imagination’s for, eh?

c2014, Keanan Brand

c2014, Keanan Brand

 

More photos to come.

 

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The Warden and the Wolf King

Where should most stories begin?
At the beginning, of course.
Unless they begin at the end.
And that’s where I joined the excellent Wingfeather Saga — at the end.

The Warden and the Wolf King is the fourth and final book in singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson‘s richly-illustrated and fast-moving fantasy series.However, had I not known there were three other books, were those books beyond my reach, I would still think this book a rewarding, fun adventure. I was never lost, never bored, and laughed much.

Today — Monday, July 21 — is my birthday, and there have been activities and family matters since Friday, so this CSFF Blog Tour sneaked up on me. I’ll return tomorrow with something substantial to say. Meanwhile, please visit the other stops on the blog tour to read other reviews of The Wingfeather Saga, a delight for all ages:

The Warden and Wolf KingBeckie Burnham
Pauline Creeden
Vicky DealSharingAunt
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Ryan Heart
Bruce Hennigan
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Rachel Starr Thomson
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler

 

 

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Crystal Bridges, part 1

This past weekend, I accompanied my mother to Crystal Bridges, an art museum in Northwest Arkansas.

Crystal Bridges was designed by internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who envisioned a building that would complement the surrounding Ozark landscape. Nestled into a natural ravine, the Museum integrates the element of water on the site through the creation of two spring-fed ponds that are spanned by two signature bridge structures and surrounded by a group of pavilions housing Museum galleries and studios.
Architecture page, Museum website

It’s a beautiful site. Before the front colonnade is a giant, gleaming, sky-reflecting metal tree that reminds me of a lightning strike.

"Yield", stainless steel, artist Roxy Paine (c2014, KB)

“Yield”, stainless steel, artist Roxy Paine (c2014, KB)

This being May, flowers are in bloom, and wildflowers line the drive to the Museum or mantle a hill on the walking trail.

Wildflowers (c2014, KB)

Wildflowers (c2014, KB)

The Museum itself is glass and steel and stone, and spans the water. Its distinctive ridged, humped rooflines remind me of the backs of sowbugs.

Crystal Bridges (c2014, KB)

Crystal Bridges (c2014, KB)

 

Outside a window-lined gallery (c2014, KB)

Outside a window-lined gallery (c2014, KB)

 

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Family History

Last night at the writers group, there was another new face, an older woman, as are at about half of the members, and yet another family historian writing her mother’s life story and family exploits.

c2014, KB

c2014, KB

Among the writers I know, this seems to be a trend: female writers using family history for creative nonfiction, biography, or historical fiction. They are all at least twenty years older than I, meaning the youngest is in her sixties. One seventy-something friend, Nancy, recently published the third volume of historical fiction based on her mother’s life. Kathryn, in her early sixties, is currently organizing notes about and transcribing stories told by her near-century-old mother to write a fictionalized account of her mother’s early life. The new writer, Susan, wants to take readers back to the 11th century, then follow her mother’s family to the present day.

Yet another member of the group, Marguerite, is writing true short stories about her childhood and youth; and Mary is expanding her great-grandparents’ daring romance into a novel.

Other members are writing urban fantasy, fractured fairy tales, outer space adventures, a memoir about raising a severely autistic foster son.

And then there’s me.

Yes, learning about my family history is interesting. I’d love to have the money and the time to do thorough research. But I can’t. Not yet. Still, I know enough interesting details about recent generations that I could write a few short stories, maybe a whole novel, but nothing resembling a viable fact-filled tome.

I wonder, in contrast to all the women using their mothers’ stories or family trees as springboards for literature, are there any male writers out there writing their fathers’ stories? Where are they?

 

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Bite 2.0

Remember that old saying, “Win the battle, lose the war?”

Some play the victim in order to control the situation or to look like the good guy, but they lose the trust and respect of others.

Their martyrdom is so loud that any truth they might speak or pain they might feel is lost in the narcissistic lie of their victimhood.

My momma, the queen of martyrs when I was growing up, learned this lesson late in life. Dad, the king of narcissists, learned it late, as well. Sometimes, our “need to be heard” or “need to be understood” is just a veneer of pride, a desire for our egos to be stroked and our importance to be validated.

On the flip side, ever know someone’s silence to be louder than words? ‘Cause they’re teaching YOU a lesson?

Ever “learn” that lesson? Or do you give in just to keep the peace, never actually solving the problem?

Below is the rough draft of the second stanza of an unfinished poem (the first stanza can be read here):

Pleasant and quiet,
you hide the ogre of bitterness
behind demure facade, proper courtesy.
Smiling, industrious,
you seem a modern saint,
but you’re waiting
for someone to shoulder the work,
make the decisions,
be the excuse
for whatever goes wrong.
You ask my help
then duck behind me,
the strongman to shield you, the villain you blame.

c2014, KB

As you can see, there is a bite to this poem, and that may end up being its title: “Bite”. Ideas are being pummeled and knocked about like stones in a riverbed. This morning, I wrote notes for a third and possibly fourth stanza. I’m finally telling the truth that’s been crouching behind silence, and though the people to whom it is directed may never read this poem — or, if they did, may never recognize themselves — I’m finding the words at last.

 

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Unspoken

I’m more prone to talking it out or keeping my mouth shut when I’m angry, and less likely to lash out or act in anger, though that has been known to happen. Generally, though, it’s a fifty-fifty split between talking it through or mulling it over.

A couple weeks ago, I left the room rather than explode. A host of things needed to be said. If they aren’t said, someone will never know what needs to be changed.

On the other hand, if I did speak, I wouldn’t have been heard. I’d have been interrupted, shouted down, accused of being the bad guy. Rather than seeing the need for change, the other person would have tried to turn the mirror around.

That’s something else I know well. There was a time I became rather adept at avoiding the dirty laundry, deafening myself to the words I didn’t want to hear, the truths I didn’t want to see, and turning the mirror back on the people who were trying to shine light.

It’s uncomfortable in its brilliance — we shut our eyes against it — but sunlight is good. It’s nature’s bleach for laundry hung out to dry.

a January afternoon in the park (c2014, KB)

a January afternoon in the park
(c2014, KB)

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Family, Journeys, Life, Stories, Uncategorized

 

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