Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sociopath?

I just want to toot my own horn here for a minute. I have e-published my book, Sociopath?, on Smashwords and Amazon.

From the time he was a toddler, people said Rafe Vincennes reminded them of a black cat. Rafe's moral code is similar to a cat's as well in that he doesn't have one. In addition to adventuresome sex, Rafe has a penchant for visiting extreme retribution on those who wrong him. A champion race car driver, Rafe drives as daringly as he lives. 

I have to say that, as a computer dummie, preparing a book for e-publishing is no easy task. It has to be formatted just a precise way. Smashwords gives you guidelines for how to do it but like so many things electronic, their instructions start by assuming you're in junior high school while I'm still struggling to get through kindergarten.

Nevertheless, I got it done with a little help from smarter friends. It has been downloaded 658 times from Smashwords and shared with 21 libraries, which I gather is an excellent response to a brand new fiction author with a first book. It is free through Smashwords so I hope some of you will take the time to pay a visit. Warning: extremely graphic content. As the title implies, Rafe is not a straight arrow!

Amazon insists you charge something so I went with the lowest price of 99 cents. I haven't checked lately to see where the book is with Amazon but they pay 35% royalties so I think I've probably made a couple bucks so far!

Of course, when you're a newbie novelist, the money is beside the point, getting people to read what you write is what it's all about and hopefully, liking it and even better, letting you know. Sociopath? has gotten some great reviews and has been 5-star rated by several readers.

I had no idea publishing would be such a Catch 22. I wrote a syndicated column on politics and social commentary for a decade. I've wrote a popular column for my local paper for over 20 years and now write a weekly column for the Logansport Pharos-Tribune and blog frequently for NASCAR.com. I've written for Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. One of my columns won a first place in the Indiana Presswoman's competition and then went on to win the national competition. Three of my columns have appeared in textbooks as an example of superior column writing.

None of this impresses fiction editors or agents. Publishing companies only wanted to see agented material; agents will only consider your book if you've already published a book. Does e-publishing count? I don't know.

Beyond that, publishers and agents want your work to fit in a tidy little genre. If someone does manage to write a bestseller about vampires, then they all want vampires. They want you to be the next Harry Potter or Twilight or Janet Evanovich, while you're more interested in being yourself. Readers have told me that Rafe Vincennes is a unique "hero". It thrilled me to hear that but unique is not a good word in publishing.

So, e-publishing seemed to be my best bet. I'm old and I'm old-school. In my heart, I still hope to parley that into "real" books.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Shell Game Played By Republican Men

Birth control is about one thing and one thing only: keeping women in their places. It's all about protecting the male hierarchy. Hand me any other unctuous justification you want and I flat out don't believe it.

The Republican candidates who signed on to the Personhood Amendment and raised such a furor about Obama forcing the churches to provide birth control to their employees, claiming that it's because of their abiding love of fetuses, their reverence for the sanctity of life? Bullshit. It's about maintaining the second class citizenship of females. A woman who is at the mercy of her menses from one month to the next can't plan a life or a career or even an enjoyable sex life without worrying about having it derailed by pregnancy.

The backward old men of the Catholic Church who forbid contraception, declaring the ban is God's idea? Please. God handles human fetuses the same way he does other forms of life, producing a zillion eggs, allowing a billion of them to die, hoping a million will survive to propagate the species. More fetuses are spontaneously aborted than ever have been destroyed by the hand of man. God is extravagant with life....as he is with death.

No, it's the old Holy men who want the danger of pregnancy to curb Woman's natural appetites, to rein in her urge to independence. It's no different than the old saying about keeping her barefoot and pregnant except the former is more honest in its objective.

So, there's Newt Gingrich, Catholic (along with a lot of other males who should know better, media men like Chris Matthews who acknowledge that 98 per cent of Catholic families use contraceptives but are still caught in a time warp that says we should pay lip service to the Pope and the Church, even if women pay the price for the pretense), foaming at the mouth about contraceptives after, of course, abandoning the wife who provided him with these precious children.

Then there is Mitt Romney, Mormon. The Mormons have a somewhat more enlightened stance toward birth control than the Catholics but, still, families are encouraged to prayerfully discuss their family planning decisions and all things being equal, the weight of the choice comes down heavily on the side of having lots of little babies for God and the Mormon Church. Neither finances nor "selfish" preferences should be considerations, they are warned.

And, last, is Rick Santorum. I don't know what his exact affiliation is but some kind of Dark Ages fundamentalist Protestant denomination, I suppose. (Oops, he's a Catholic too). He is probably the most adamant about opposing any and all contraception on the grounds of what, exactly? Immorality? Birth control encourages bad behavior, like pre-marital sex. Oh, what a horrifying thought that is to the good Mr. Santorum.

There he stands on the stage spouting this Victorian nonsense backed by his worn-out looking wife and his Stepford Children, all nodding in robotic agreement with their Fearless Leader. The Santorums have 7 children, with the last being handicapped. Do they not realize that, just as with cats or dogs, or any other living creature you can name, forcing a female to give birth over and over drains her of her health and her vitality until finally she doesn't have enough left to create healthy babies? If so, they are convinced she serves a higher purpose by offering herself as God's baby machine.

And it is not so coincidental that the Republicans shelve all their devotion to fetuses once they are born in favor of a welfare-less law of the jungle. Once the babies are here, it is, by God, every kid for himself.

Just think about this, Voters. If any of these candidates become our next president and, God forbid, have a Republican congress, they will virtually outlaw birth control. Employers and insurance companies will not be mandated to provide it. Schools will be encouraged to preach against it. Planned Parenthood, from which many poor woman receive their contraceptives, will be de-funded. In Rick Santorum's world, states will be allowed to ban it. Think how you'd like to go back to the good old days of every sex act being fraught with fear and risk.

And, of course, it goes without saying that abortion will be outlawed, even in cases of rape and incest. So, should you find yourself unhappily pregnant, Rick and Mitt and Newt and their churches will own your body and can control it as they please. If your 12-year-old becomes pregnant due to molestation, too bad so sad for her, because the fetus is more important than the mother in Republican-ville.

That's what these men and their churches want. "Be fruitful and multiply." They tell us that's what God expects of us. Maybe so but there were only two fucking people then! If it was ever true, I doubt it is any longer. Does God ever change his mind when circumstances change? He may but obviously, Republican men don't.

It is all a big shell game. It's what the men want, not God. They yearn for the good old days of the male being the Lord and Master of the family and the world. They want submissive and dependent wives and daughters. Women have become too competitive in the 21st century. They live out their sexual lives as they please just as men have always done. All this is possible because women are able to make their own family-planning decisions.

I've never sure that God speaks directly to me as Newt and Mitt and Rick are but I'm convinced he didn't tell my sex that their primary value lies in spending themselves making baby after baby.

 

 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Please, Save Me!

Oh, Lord, I wish the NASCAR season would start and save me from drowning in politics! For lack of racing, I have watched debates and State of the Union addresses and SOTU rebuttals and primary coverage. I've read newspaper articles and visited political websites and responded to political posts on Facebook.

My takeaway from all of it? Sorry, Republicans but, barring something catastrophic, none of your guys has a prayer against Obama.

Not that he might not be beatable if you'd backed a strong candidate. And by strong I mean decisive in his thinking but likable along with it. To get the votes of disaffected Democrats and moderates, you'd have to have someone who occasionally seems able to  at least consider another point of view. I think you'd have to have a candidate who is willing to give the current president credit for good intentions, for being a loyal American, for being a committed Christian, even if none of that translates into policies you can agree with. Instead, your side calls him a socialist, a Muslim, a traitor, an alien who maybe isn't even an American, a radical, a Europeanist, a follower of Saul Alinky (how many of you even know who Saul Alinky is?)

There are no grays in your world, are there? You simply can't accept a presidential campaign that consists of two people, both of whom plan to do the best they can for their country, both of whom have some good ideas and maybe some that are not so good. Nope, you Republicans deal in absolutes so it has to be an angel pitted against a devil and you force your candidates to play it that way to get your nomination.

So, you take a candidate like Mitt Romney, your current front-runner and probably ultimate nominee, who learned as the governor of Massachusetts that you have to work with others to find a middle ground to actually accomplish anything - and you turn him into the conservative candidate from hell in order to prove his bona fides to you, making him thoroughly  unappetizing to the rest of us.

Except he doesn't do it very successfully. Methinks he protests too much about his reasonable record in Massachusetts. We toward the left of the spectrum might think we could live with him if that governor was the "real" Mitt. Meanwhile, your side thinks you might be able to live with him if the current foaming-at-the-mouth right-winger is the "real" Mitt. But neither of us knows for sure, do we?

Meanwhile, the millionaires and billionaires and the corporations that are really people, oh, yes, they know positively who the real Mitt is. They know where his truest heart lies. It is with them. It is with Wall Street. It is with the board rooms and the executive suites and the sky boxes and the country clubs. That's ole Mitt's real constituency. That's who he'd work to make life pleasanter for. Not to be as judgmental as the Republicans, and as Mitt is himself, I'll give him credit for probably believing that doing right by the movers and shakers will ultimately result in the best policies for the rest of us too. It's the Romney version of the old trickle-down hat trick, which didn't work the first time...or the second time....and won't work this time either - IMHO, as we say on the internets.

It is always nice for a group of people, like the One Percenters, when they believe wholeheartedly that it just so happens that when you do good things for them, it results in doing good for everyone else too! The pleasure without any guilt. "Yes, I only paid 13.9 percent in taxes on my multi-million dollar income but I bought a yacht with the extra money so I gave work to boat builders and marinas and crew people so see, giving me that low tax rate turned out good for you." Wow, they practically make me feel I should thank them for their patriotism for even accepting that extra money! They did it for us! I had no clue.

And so, you get the nightmare of Mitt, Multi-Millionaire, and The Donald, Billionaire, on the same stage - two arrogant, self-satisfied pricks if ever I saw any.

Mitt says he isn't going to apologize for being successful and no, he shouldn't apologize for it but he should try to show the tiniest shred of empathy for those who haven't been so fortunate - who didn't have a huge head start toward success by coming from a family and a church that paved his path every step of the way. His wife, as I understand it, had multiple sclerosis which is now either cured or in remission. I expect that she had the benefit of the finest medical care money can buy. Maybe if you felt Mitt could spare, oh, maybe a minute to imagine what it would have been like if he and Ann had faced the same circumstances...but without medical insurance.

Some rich people can do that but Mitt isn't one of them. He calls President Obama naive but Mitt is naive in a different way. It is an ivory tower kind of naivete, one that doesn't have the faintest idea what life is like for those of us scratching down here at the street level.

So, after listening to thousands of hours of debate and speechifying and analysis, I'm just yearning for the Daytona 500, where drivers prove themselves by performance instead of simply trying to talk a good game.