26 Oct

A Political Plague

political plagueThere are certain subject matters most Americans stay clear of and those are religion, politics, and finance. We feel they’re emotionally charged personal matters. The difference though is that someone’s religion or finance doesn’t necessarily affect others as much as their political choices. I’ve hidden many Facebook posts because I’m afraid to know whom so-and-so supports. I don’t want it to taint my thinking of them. Whom someone votes for says a lot about an individual.

Up until now, the one person I’ve discussed politics with is my husband, especially regarding this upcoming election. According to USA Today, “Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the two most unpopular presidential candidates in more than 30 years of ABC News/Washington Post polling.” Since the election is approaching, I decided to broach the subject, no matter how controversial, to take a stand regarding our government’s approach to the Presidency and the way candidates campaign.

U.S. GOVERNMENT AND PARTIES

First, I’d like to state that I’m not affiliated with any party, nor do I declare one. I don’t believe in or understand why people vote per party instead of per individual. We are supposed to grow in life. There are particular things that are more important to us at certain stages in our lives. How can a party always support what’s important to you at every stage?

Second, I believe the U.S. government needs an overhaul since a two-party government isn’t a democracy. There are no checks and balances. One side usually dominates the other. There should be at least four parties with the same amount of visibility, and all should take part in debates, not just Republicans and Democrats. And there shouldn’t be two types of primaries—open or closed (21 open states). All U.S. citizens should have the right to vote in the primaries without declaring a party or membership. If you live in a state that only has closed primaries and you’re not a party voter, then you can’t vote for the nominees.

Also, do away with electors since they are what stand in the way of the American people. It impedes the popular vote. I feel that we should be voting for the President and Vice President, not the electors. “You help choose your state’s electors when you vote for President because when you vote for your candidate you are actually voting for your candidate’s electors.” Many Presidents have won based on electoral votes, not the popular vote.

HOW CAMPAIGNS ARE RUN

When it comes to funding, Super Pacs obstruct a candidate’s decisions. For each company, union, or individual that provides support, the elected presidential candidate will spend their time in office returning those favors. So if they’re busy taking care of corporations, they won’t have time to take care of the American people.

During debates, if a candidate’s answer is about criticizing another, their mic should be turned off while the question continues with the next candidate. There is too much grandstanding, accusations, and not enough information in regards to what they’re going to do for us—the ones who matter. Most Americans don’t follow politics year round, so campaigns are the only time we can learn about the nominees.

VOTING

I’ve already submitted my overseas election ballot and voted for Gary Johnson. My main reason for this is, “Achieving just 5% of the popular vote nationwide will achieve “major party” status for a third party for the first time ever… The future for all generations can only be made better with the inclusion of more ideas and more candidates… This will completely change the political landscape for the 2020 election. Now is our time to change history.” This is what I want—more ideas and candidates for the future of America. Times have changed, and the stagnant Republican and Democratic parties should not be our only choices. We need more voices for “life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Only WE can make it happen.

WRITE-INS

Some believe that voting for a lesser party or a write-in means throwing your vote away. I disagree. Why would I invest in broken people? Why would I vote for anyone who I don’t want representing me as a U.S. citizen?

For those voters who don’t approve of either candidate, we do have options. Here’s a list of registered write-in candidates for President: http://presidentials.mytimetovote.com/Write-In-Candidates-running-for-president.html or you could vote Jill Stein (Green Party) or Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party). Since I was late learning the ins and outs of write-ins, and I had to return my ballot, I didn’t have time to read up on the Independents. Don’t turn to the Republican candidate just because you can’t stand the Democrat. Take the time to learn about other possibilities that could change the political arena.

States that Do Not Allow Write-Ins: Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, or New Mexico

Thirty-three states allow write-ins as long as the candidate has registered with the state, which is why I can’t write-in Bernie Sanders. He hasn’t paid fees or filed the paperwork for states. In these states, if you write-in someone not registered (check the link above) then your vote will not count. Here is the list of States: Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennesse, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine.

States with Unrestricted Write-Ins: Vermont, Oregon, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Iowa, Alabama, Pennsylvania, or Rhode Island. These voters can write-in anyone they want, including Bernie Sanders.

CANDIDATES

My vote would have gone to Bernie Sanders if he was nominated. I don’t agree with everything Sanders wanted to change, but I believe in him as a person. He is the kind of man I would want representing me as a person and as an American. In my lifetime, he is the first nominee to look outside the box. To see what is broken in the U.S., and refer to other countries regarding how they handle matters.

He came from a struggling working class family, was involved in the Civil Rights movement, opposed the Iraq war, and had more than an 8-hour filibuster against tax cuts for the wealthy. Before leaving the Senate floor, he pleaded “a better proposal which better reflects the needs of the middle class and working families of our country and to me, most importantly, the children of our country.” He didn’t take money from Super Pacs. He has been honest throughout his political career, and he didn’t attack his opponents as the others did. His heart is for America. His issues are “… inequality in the United States. Economically, he favors tax reform that increases rates for the wealthy, greater governmental oversight of Wall Street and balancing the disparity between wages for men and women. He also believes in a state-administered health care system, more-affordable higher education — which includes tuition-free public college and universities — and an expansion of the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid systems. A social liberal, he also supports same-sex marriage and is pro-choice.” Bernie Sanders truly cares about the American people.

It boggles my mind. I’ve heard people complain about being sick of typical politicians. How they wish there was a candidate for the people. Aside from the wealthy, I just can’t understand why an honest, upstanding man who just wants justice for all wasn’t nominated. A man who can relate to the working class. Clinton and Trump aren’t in it for the people because they’re so out of touch with the dwindling working middle class let alone the poor.

HILLARY CLINTON

HillaryAlthough she isn’t as offensive as Donald Trump, Hillary isn’t someone I want representing me as a woman let alone an American. Prior to Obama, the White House has been dominated by the Clinton and Bush families for 24-years, 28-years if you include Hillary as Secretary of State under Obama. I’ve always thought she was smug, will do anything for power, and changes her mind when it suits her purpose. She is in bed with Super Pacs, so you can bet she isn’t committed to the citizens—she’s committed to those who supported her campaign. Democrats and feminists will vote for her, disregarding her faults and lies. Supporters say she has the experience, yet experience is what we have been voting into office and it hasn’t gotten us anywhere.

Here’s a quick glance over her past. Hillary came from an upper-class family. She knew of Bill’s affair with Lewinsky, but “Some on the staff have said that Hillary knew about Lewinsky long before it came out, and that what really upset her was not the affair itself but its discovery and the media feeding frenzy that followed.” That speaks volumes to her character. When running for the U.S. Senate seat in New York, she opposed same-sex marriages and was for the Iraq War.

Ellen DeGeneres, a democrat, had John McCain (Republican) and Hillary Clinton (Democrat) on her show discussing same-sex marriage. There is a difference in how she interacts with McCain vs. Clinton.

  • John McCain
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Changed
John McCain – a man who fought for her freedom –
Hillary Clinton – Ellen specifically asked, “Do you think it would be possible for someone to run and to openly say “I support gay marriage” and win.” Hillary, “I don’t know. I have had the same position for years, and so I don’t know what someone could or couldn’t do but I always believed that marriage should be left to the States.”
Hillary changes her mind –

She flip-flops like a fish out of water with lies. To me, she’s untrustworthy. I like what Susan Sarandon said about her. Many party voters are able to dismiss inaccuracies and bullshit for the sake of the party, but I won’t.

DONALD TRUMP

trumpIt’s a sad day in U.S. history that someone like Trump was even nominated. The Republican party showed their ignorance on this one. I don’t need to say much about him. Trump does a fine job representing himself. Those who are voting for him either absorb his poisonous rhetoric or hate Hillary enough to go with him instead of looking for other possibilities. People willing to vote for Donald Trump embrace bullying, racism, hatred, and chauvinism. These people find it funny or don’t care that he insults the disabled, veterans who fought for this country, women, people’s intelligence and the list goes on. He’s made a mockery of the American people and this election. These voters love that he speaks his mind, and believe what he says. Well, this is what they can believe about Trump. With him at the helm, the U.S. will not move forward. He will isolate America, and isolation is not the way to go in this world.

Do you want to weigh in? Please do so without insults.

Politics and Buffoonery,
Baer Necessities

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19 Oct

Preparations for National Novel Writing Month

For those of you who want to be writers, November is a perfect time to put your writing skills to the test. It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so I thought I’d give you some pointers on the site and writing.

NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is where writers from all over the world gather and write 50,000 words between November 1 and November 30. The only thing you win is the satisfaction of knowing you succeeded in writing a novel, and possibly gaining new friendships.

Before getting into it, I thought I’d share my experiences regarding NaNoWriMo. I had participated in 2008 and 2014 with success. My 2008 novel turned out to be my first publication in 2011; Net Switch, a dark, psychological suspense thriller. At the time, I was a full-time employee, so I know about the struggles in finding time to write. I’m currently working on my 2014 crime mystery novel, which will be a 2-book series.

The Site

1) Create an account on NaNoWriMo.org. Most people are wary of putting personal information down, but it helps other writers get to know you. Leave out where exactly you live. Let others know how long you’ve been writing, what type of genre you write, hobbies, books and authors you love. This is also a good time to add a writing buddy. If someone you know has signed up, get their exact username (a site glitch, so it must be accurate), pull up their profile and add them.

2) Then go to Regions – Find a Region, and search for the areas closest to you. The support of others, along with those nearby, is extremely helpful when writing. They also have write-in meetup places to join other NaNo participants.

3) Go to Inspiration – NaNo Prep and check out what’s available and convenient for you to do. Under Conversations, the Forums are another great way to connect with writers before, during, and after November.

Writing

1) Make an intention. Why are you doing NaNoWriMo? What is YOUR purpose? Then write it down and tape it somewhere visible on your computer.

2) If all you have are a few characters and a premise for a story, that’s all you need. Don’t be discouraged that you don’t have an outline or know how it’s going to end. Writing will decide character and plot. What you had planned doesn’t exactly mean your characters agree. Things will fall into place as your fingers tap away.

3) Write and don’t look back. Forget about spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation. Before I did NaNoWriMo, I constantly went backwards, editing sentences and paragraphs. This is about getting your story down. Editing comes later. Let the flow of writing happen. Let your characters’ hijack your thoughts and the plot twist whichever way feels right at the time. You can always change it later. You have a limited amount of time to get the story down.

4) When you need guidance or support, rely on the forum, your regions and buddies. As I stated in a previous post, I Want to be a Writer, it’s a journey of solitude, but it doesn’t always have to be. Reach out to others, and you’ll find there’s always at least one person feeling the same as you.

5) Don’t worry whether someone has more words than you, or if you think they’re a better writer. It’s not a race between writers. This is about YOU. Can you throw caution to the wind and write your butt off? Can you focus on your story and word count to finish on time? Like writing, this process is a journey of self-discovery.

6) If you fall behind, don’t panic and quit. That’s the easy way out. If you want to write, get your butt in a chair and refer to your intention. Remind yourself why you wanted to do this in the first place. When there’s no accountability or physical reward, people are okay with walking away from a challenge. Don’t! Your intention is just as important as public recognition. Make NaNoWriMo one of the defining moments in your life. What do you have to lose? Even if you decide not to work on your book for publication, you can say that you wrote a novel in a month.

7) Once you plug in your word count to receive your badge, take a break from the 50,000 words or more you have written before returning to it. Let it sit for a week or two, go treat yourself to something special, and then start revising. Revisions are what raise the word count, adds dimension to your characters, and meat to the story.

Good Luck! Write like the clap of thunder. Finish with the air of an Olympian.

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? Would you like to add to this experience?

Self-Discovery and Narratives,
Baer Necessities

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12 Oct

A Constant Flow of Creativity

Today’s author interview is from a fellow Chicagoan—Susan Bass Marcus—a woman submerged in creativity. From early childhood to years working at a museum, she has led a life that lets her imagination soar. Give a warm welcome to Susan.

Describe yourself in 150 words or less.

A creator of alternative worlds, from childhood on, I’ve explored many ways of expressing my imagination, including the visual arts, performance, and art education. Whether entertaining my younger siblings with shadow puppet stories (a babysitting strategy that distracted them from squabbling) during my adolescence, doing the same with my own children, performing with my puppet theater, or spinning archaeology into an accessible and interesting subject, I’ve been telling stories throughout my life. Since leaving a long career as a museum professional, I have found great satisfaction in writing fiction, and turning out blog pieces about the creative process and its outcomes, which I publish on my website www.malevir.com and on Goodreads.

Which do you enjoy most—character or plot development?

My characters drive the plot. I enjoy watching them unfold and reveal their inner life to me. Sometimes the narrative gracefully falls in place because a character surprises me with some action or response that I didn’t anticipate when I sketched the plot.

Tell us about your published works.

Malevir: Dragons Return is my first published novel, in the fantasy genre. I aimed it at both a middle-school audience (little violence and no sex) and adult fantasy fiction fans. Publishing the book was quite an education. My editor helped a lot at the time I was preparing the manuscript, but the real lessons sank in months after publication last November, 2015, and affect the way I approach my writing now. I am about 100 pages into the sequel, working title: Where Dragons Follow, and I must say the second book is tighter, the story arc is like a rainbow, and the characters have a depth not explored in the first work.

Otherwise, online journals have published three of my works: a supernatural horror story, a speculative dystopian short story, and a psychological fantasy. The latter also appeared in print this summer in After Hours Journal, promoted at the Printers Row LitFest in Chicago.

Do you belong to any critique groups?

I do. The first one I joined is a rather relaxed group of avocational writers who socialize more than critique, but it’s a great group for raising self-esteem. The other group I attend regularly is the Writers Group at the Union League Club of Chicago, a mix of serious writers and dabblers who do not hesitate to offer constructive criticism. Recently, members have proposed me for membership in the Chicago Literary Club, a venerable institution founded in the mid-nineteenth century.

If you were a picture, which room in the house do you want to be in and why?

We live in a very open, big loft, without many partitioned spaces. I’m tempted to say the bathroom, because it’s private and allows for contemplation, but since I like to be out front and noticed, probably I’d want to be installed along the long inner wall facing a line of windows that offer a great view of our metropolis.

What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I can’t say much that is original. For example, my first impulse is to advise practice: write something every day, parse out a story, devise a list of compelling prompts, caption cartoons, draw a comic book/story board, and if you’re up for the commitment take a class. The best preparation for writing is the practice of active observation.

What’s your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor?

Oops, I don’t eat them. But if I did, I’d go with licorice. I used to love Good N Plenty candy.

In regards to writing, what are you working on now?

A sequel to my first fantasy genre novel and a bunch of short stories, mostly in the surreal realm. Karen Russell is a big influence.

Where in the virtual world can people find you and/or meet for a chat?

Facebook

Goodreads

Twitter: @AuthorSMarcus

Facebook Group

Chicago HomeTownReads

Chicago Writers Association

I asked Susan to send a picture of a place in history she would have liked to have been present.

Paris 1889, From the Library of CongressParis 1889, From The Library of Congress

Conversations and Creativity,
Baer Necessities

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05 Oct

I Want to Be a Writer!

posting boxI belong to several writing groups on Facebook, Google+, and Goodreads. The groups have a mixture of beginners and experienced writers with many questions and conversations regarding new writers’ concerns. I thought I’d tackle some of the postings that I’ve come across, and see if I can clarify a few things for the newbies who want to become writers. This is only my advice… which is Gold. 😀  Before I start discussing these concerns, I’d like to mention a few things.

First, don’t have too many expectations. Writing is a lonely journey. Most people in your lives won’t take much interest in your writing or publications. I’m not saying this happens to every writer, but most writers find out the hard way that their family and friends aren’t as enthused as they had hoped. But don’t get discouraged. There are plenty of writers feeling the same defeat as you, so reach out and connect with them. That’s the beauty of the internet.

Second, write for the right reason. It’s wonderful to have big dreams, but if you’re planning to become a one-hit wonder—a bestselling author making loads of money on your first book then I suggest you rethink this through. There are some inspiring success stories of writers making it big traditionally and through self-publication, but it’s rare. If you want to write, write for your love of the craft, not for fame and fortune. You’ll only find yourself muttering obscenities to an empty bottle of your choosing.

Third, don’t be selfish. New writers and even some experienced ones have a tendency to reach out and ask for feedback, sharing of social media, and reviews. It’s all good just don’t forget to reciprocate. There’s nothing worse than asking for things, yet not being willing to do it for others.

I Want to be a Writer

“I want to be a writer but how do I get ideas for stories.”

The first thing that comes to my mind is, “If you want to be a writer, I would assume you already HAVE ideas.” How can you WANT to be something when you lack influences? When someone wants to be a doctor, painter, lawyer, it’s usually because they experienced some form of it whether it be curriculum and/or a long time passion. If this love of writing comes from reading, then more power to you.

follow your heart

So if you really want to be a writer, but have no ideas, get out there and live. Get away from all electronic devices. Venture out with a pad of paper and pen to people watch. Read the writings on public washroom stalls. Listen in on people’s conversations. Jot down things you see, hear, smell, and touch. Words, small phrases, or sentences you write might turn into something bigger. There are also sites that provide daily prompts, such as Creativity Portal. Write a paragraph or more from one of the prompts. It might conjure up an idea for a novella or novel.

I Got an Idea

“Hey, I have an idea for a book. Let me know what you think.”

Why? What does it matter if strangers like or dislike your idea. If you think it’s a great idea for a story, don’t share it with others because someone might beat you to it. Keep it to yourself or share with a close confidante. Bounce ideas off someone you know and trust.

F*** the Rules

“Why does writing have so many rules? Can’t I just write without having to worry about word count, adverbs, show vs. tell?”

I don’t consider people who don’t want to educate themselves, writers. These are lazy people. People who came up with a story idea, wrote a draft, ignored editing, and published it. That’s not what writing is about. Technology has offered a way for anyone to publish, and that’s great. The only problem is when you’re expecting someone to pay for your works, you should at least have the decency to put forth effort.

The rules of writing are guides. New writers should learn them. Read books to see what does and doesn’t work. Writing is a craft, which deserves studying. Once you understand the rules, then you can break them—create your own style.

Offensive

“I have a story idea, but I think it might offend some people. Should I go ahead and write the story anyways?”

Whatever you write will offend someone, so go ahead and write. Don’t worry about offending people. Of course, if your story is taboo in subject matter, it’s a given many people won’t care for it. Aside from that, get your butt in a chair and write.

Writing Full-Time

“Can I make money writing full-time?”

I’ve seen this question asked by so many people who haven’t written a word. Or they wrote a few things and decided they want to write full-time. They’re getting a little ahead of themselves. It’s very difficult to make a living from writing. If you’re willing to work hard, start writing, A LOT, and submit your works to magazines, journals, etc. You’ll never know until you try.

What do you think? Anyone want to add?

New Writers and Concerns,
Baer Necessities

P.S. If you get a chance, enter my Goodreads Giveaway. The link is on the right sidebar. Best of luck to you!

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