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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Banned Books Week


This was originally posted on my tumblr blog, but bears repeating here.

I did not know this, but this happens to be Banned Books Week.

Anyone who happens to read this tumblr or my blog at wordpress knows I’m a big, huge fan of books.  Books are like comfort food for me.  They are a precious commodity that should be held in high regard.  They spark the imagination and teach us valuable lessons.  It’s sad to think that there are books that are challenged, and people who wish to see them banned.

Harry Potter book series

Image by bibicall via Flickr

The American Library Association has a list of banned books.  Many of them are classics.  Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Black Beauty, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Of Mice and Men, Alice in Wonderland and 1984 just to name a few are challenged in many districts across the United States as unacceptable reading.  Also, many new books are on the banned list, such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  It’s kind of disheartening, as someone who is preparing to release my first published book, that there are people in the world who would wish to deny someone the right to read.

My first book, being The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, does have elements that could become targets.  One of the characters is a lesbian (though, it is only referenced in passing and no big deal is made of it).  It’s also a book about six guns and sorcery.  That last part might get it frowned at.  Sorcery, or wizardry, got the Harry Potter series on the banned book list.  My hope with this first book is to entertain, nothing more.  I only shudder to think if ever I manage to get Flag on my Backpack published in graphic novel form (as I hope to do), what will be thought of with that.  It’s a lot more politically charged than Black Mask & Pale Rider.

My one hope is that people will take the time to look over the list of books at the American Library Association and read just one or two from the list this week.  Heck, if you read more, great.  These books are precious and should not be overlooked.  Whether you agree or disagree with the content is not the important issue.  The important issue is all books should be given a chance.  All books should be open to the public.

Give a book a chance.

 

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Canyons of Steel: Redux


Prologue

Washington D.C., 9:43 am., July 15th, 1993

Dejection.

Frustration.

Loss.

These feelings went through Johnathon Tiberius Walker as he stood at ease in the hallway of the small office. He waited for the inevitable as he stood, hands clasped behind him, feet shoulder width apart. His head was held high as though he did not want to disrespect the uniform he wore. Only a few short months before, he had completed a mission in Somalia with his unit. It was a simple mission, that had gone horribly wrong. His commanding officers wanted answers.

As he stood in the hallway, he began to realize that his commanding officers merely wanted a scapegoat.

He snapped to attention and saluted as a woman in a smart looking naval uniform entered the small hallway. They may have been ready to strip him of his rank, but he would still show the respect of the organization he had served so long in. She returned the salute, and spoke in a soft voice.

“At ease, Colonel Walker,” she stated as Walker returned to his previous position. She moved to stand next to him, allowing the subtle perfume to waft over him. Odd, officers weren’t allowed to wear such things. He took a deep breath as he turned to look her over, and then recognition settled in.

“Been a while, ma’am,” he said quietly. “Ain’t seen you since the Persian Gulf.”

“Yes,” she replied with a nod. “It has been a while. And there have been some things which I have not been completely honest about.” She lowered her head, looking to the floor as she spoke. “Our night in Baghdad, I thought that was all it was. Just a night. But…” She paused for a long moment as Walker waited for her to continue. “At least it gave me my daughter.”

Walker needed to do everything to keep his composure as she spoke her words. Daughter. That meant he was the father. His earlier feelings seemed to have amplified themselves, knowing that he had helped bring a child into this world, but had not been able to help show the world to that child.

“She is young, only three,” the woman remarked as she placed her hands in front of her uniform. She held a simple purple rose, along with a picture, which she held out to Walker. “I want you to meet her,” she simply stated as he took the picture in one hand, studying it with soft eyes as he gently held onto the rose with his other hand. “I think you would have made a wonderful father.”

Silence filled the room as the woman turned without another word. She didn’t have to. These small actions spoke volumes to Walker. But now, he had to take the next few steps.

Only time would tell where the road would lead him.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Canyons of Steel, Hawk's Scream, Writing

 

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ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!


So, for the past week and a half, I’ve been waiting for a package to come around.

Today, that package finally arrived.  Below this line is the image of the aforementioned package.

For those wondering, what I’m holding is the proof copy of what I’ve been working on for the past two to three years.  I now have to go through the book and mark any changes to it, make the changes in the Word document and upload it.  Once that’s all done, then it will be available for sale on the market.  I’m hoping sometime next week, unless I feel the need to get a final proof copy just because.

Anyway, it would appear that my weekend is set.  But a more enjoyable weekend I could not imagine.

Until next time…

…keep ‘em flyin’!

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Fun, photos, Writing

 

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The Way I See It: Habit forming


Yes yes, I know, bad pun.

Considering that the discussion is going to include the dress and formal style of women in the Roman Catholic Church, and comparing them to another group of women who recently have been receiving a great deal of backlash; Muslim women.

This is something people should consider.

I really had to pause and think about this after I saw a small cartoon.  It showed two women (in the Asian style of art), one dressed in a nun’s habit, and the other wearing what appears to be the hijab, or Muslim head scarf.  The caption above the nun said “a nun can be covered head to toe in order to devote herself to God, right?”  The caption above the Muslim woman then read “But if a Muslim girl does the same, why is she oppressed?”  It’s an interesting argument, and opinions are scattered across the world on the meaning behind the hijab, burka, niqab and so on.

There’s different views on the Islamic dress for women.  Some say it’s very much an oppressive set of clothing that is forced upon women.  Now yes, there are cases like that, but you can point to any organized religion and see the very same thing.  Shocking, I know, but even in the Christian faith there are examples of oppression.  There are also a large number of women within the Islamic faith who willingly wear the hijab, niqab or burka as a proclamation of their faith.  Just like Roman Catholic Nuns do.  And even within the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church, not all nuns wear the fully covering habit that is often thought of when a nun is discussed.

Recently various governments throughout the world have declared that they wish to ban the burka (and other Muslim head coverings).  France and Quebec have been at the forefront of this.  I researched the Muslim population of Quebec, which has the second largest population of Islamic worshipers with just over 100,000 (Nunavut claims the least with 30, and that territory is building a mosque).  But let’s clarify things.  In Quebec, the government has stated that the burka and niqab are not welcome in schools and medical facilities, and other provinces are considering a similar ban.  This, however, is contradictory to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states under Section 2(a) the wearing of the hijab is permitted in schools and medical facilities.  Even the furniture giant, IKEA, has developed its own Muslim friendly head scarf for Muslim employees, with the first in Canada being in Edmonton to adopt the IKEA head scarf.

But the talking heads south of the border would have the entire world believe that anyone wearing the Islamic garb is equal to a terrorist.  News flash: the individuals that struck out against America on 9/11 were terrorists, who just happened to be Islamic.  They aren’t any different than the individuals who fire bombed Planned Parenting clinics recently in the States.  Those individuals claimed to be Christian.  Religious affiliation aside, both groups have one thing in common.  They’re terrorists, plain and simple.  They wish to spread fear and cause injury using acts of violence.  While the individuals that caused nearly 3,000 deaths over nine years ago were Islamic, that does not mean that Islam condoned those actions.  Just as Christianity and the different denomination did not condone the fire bombing of a Planned Parenting clinic.  Or the burning of the Qu’ran.

The talking heads need to read their Bible.  After that, we in Canada need to read the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we need to remember that many Muslims were born in Canada, while others came here to escape oppression.  Instead, what they are finding is just more of it.  That needs to stop.  If we can look at a nun and find nothing wrong with a full covering of a traditional nun’s habit, then we should give the same respect to a woman of Islam who by choice would wear the hijab or burka to express her own faith.

Other topics related to this around the web:

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2010 in randomness, Rants, The Way I See It

 

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The long wait


Oooo!  Look at me, two posts in one day!

You ever have one of those times when you’ve worked hard to get something, and the end is in sight but the waiting begins?  That’s what I’m going through right now.  Let me try to describe it without giving too much away.

Boys and their toys

Totally not me, but this is similar to what I used to do with my race set. Image by JW Ogden via Flickr

When I was a kid, those few last days before Christmas was an agonizing time.  It felt like years had passed before I could wake up early Christmas morning, rush downstairs… eat breakfast… and open presents.  One Christmas in particular comes to mind.  That Christmas was great, because I had asked to get a Tyco Nite Glo race set.  Two remote control Firebirds (one silver, one black) and a huge length of track.  It was great setting up the race set in these intricate designs with different obstacles and jumps.  At one point, I even considered getting a train set to have a train go around it’s track constantly while me and my dad or one of my friends raced like bats outta hell (not my dad, though, he’d never race like that).

Another item was the book Rider Pride, written to capture the history of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football club.  Published in 1983, it contained a great deal of information about the team, and while I followed them sparsely before reading the book, this made me a die hard fan.

Fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the 20...

This is what would have equalled my excitement of getting Rider Pride. Being at the 2007 Grey Cup. Image via Wikipedia

I’m going through that right now.  I have ordered something, which is a final proof, and the wait is unbearable.  I normally don’t go to the post office save for once or twice a week.  But this week I’ve been there every single day.  I only hope that said delivery is coming through the mail, and not via courier.  Which then, there would be a message taped to my apartment door (the outside, not the inside).

I’ll give it another go this afternoon, and if there still is nothing, then hope that tomorrow will prove more fruitful.

Until next time…

…keep ‘em flyin’!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Life, randomness

 

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Lulu Blog » “Rejected?! So What.” – Bestsellers That Almost Didn’t Make It.


Lulu Blog » “Rejected?! So What.” – Bestsellers That Almost Didn’t Make It..

This is an interesting take on the publishing industry, and a prime example of how far we’ve come in terms of marketing.

Ten years ago, even five years ago, it was difficult to get a book published without the tools of an editor and a phone book, or at the very least access to the Internet and mysask.com bookmarked (or applicable directory service in your area).

Marketing, and networking, has changed a great deal, and more than just the publishing industry is affected.  Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Digg, Reddit, Stumbleupon and more marketers, authors, musicians and so many more can contact their target audiences and let them know what’s going on and what new cool thing they’ve got coming.

Authors especially have a great time with this new technology and networking.  There’s a plethora of other tools out there to assist in getting a book published and marketed.

It’s a brave new world we live in, and hopefully it only gets better.

On a completely unrelated note, I know the blog has been rather quiet since the last part in Flag on my Backpack went live, with only two other posts, one from me, and one from Zodi.  Zodi, I can safely say, has moved into her new home in a completely new State.  She and Zach and Rhys are doing well, and I’m hoping once things settle down for them I can convince Zodi to do some more editing for me.  So that’s one of the big reasons why you may not have heard from Zodi lately.  For me, I have an announcement coming, which I’ve been teasing on twitter.  A lot.  Today was “post random pics of me doing things to pass the time” day.  Keep watching, I’m hoping that today I will have something big, I just need to get one proof back and then I’ll let everyone know.

Until next time…

…keep ‘em flyin’!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in randomness, Writing

 

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The Way I See It: Books, words are powerful things


John Milton (1608-1674). Milton wrote many of ...

Image via Wikipedia

And yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book: who kills a man kills a reasonable creature, God’s image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye.”

Areopagitica: A Speech of Mr. John Milton For the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing To the Parliament of England(1644)

Words. They are an incredibly powerful thing, more powerful than any stockpile of nuclear weapons throughout the world. They can teach, they can be used to debate, they can entertain, and they can let the imagination run wild. It is any wonder that books are so very important in our society, these bound volumes which contain thousands of words.

Authors, true authors who craft and create so magnificent a world, write for joy, for sheer thrill of exploration, and some aspect of self fulfilment. For a time, we had lost that, as we became sucked into the world of the idiot box. Taking nothing away from television, but books can do something that even the most experienced special effects crew cannot. An individual’s imagination through words can produce so much more than any of the major motion pictures could even create.

Books have been sacred for many, and rightly so. They contain information, adventure, they provoke thought and they state facts. A book can be autobiographical or it can be philosophical or pure fiction. But we treasure these things like nothing else. As we move into the 21st Century, the paper bound novels have changed. They have become a digital format that users can download and print off or read from their e-readers.

So what does any of that have to do with John Milton’s quote from his speech?

We are witnessing history as it repeats itself time and time again. The most recent cases of this repetition comes in the form of two separate books. One is a book series geared toward children, the other is a holy text held in high regard by the second largest religion in the world. I’m talking about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and the Muslim book of Islam called the Qur’an. Two separate books, or in the case of Harry Potter, a series of books, that at first glance have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Thanks to one act, however, they have a lot in common.

In the 1940′s, while war raged in Europe, Adolph Hitler deemed certain books as poisonous, particularly those written by Jews. He ordered them destroyed. The world looked on in horror, and vowed that such an act was beyond contempt. To destroy the works of an author was a reprehensible act. Since that time, images of members of the Nazi Party burning books has been equated with pure evil.

But some people weren’t paying attention.

When J. K. Rowling created her series, it was a simple idea that wove into a complex story. And it was loved by children everywhere. Fundamentally, that series did something important; it got children to read books again. Coupled with the movies, the Harry Potter series became an extremely popular series. However, there were those in the extreme that dissected the series and ignored it for what it was. They sited Biblical scripture about wizards and sorcery, ignoring the fact that children realized this was a work of fantasy. Of fiction. But those in the extreme took the most extreme thing they could do, and gathered Harry Potter books to be burned. They demanded the series be banned from schools and libraries. In some cases they succeeded. But that didn’t stop those who wanted to read the story.

Now, we are witnessing another such event, but this time with the holy book of Islam. An organization in Florida has stated it will hold a Qur’an burning on September 11th. They state it is in support of those who wish to block the building of the Ground Zero Mosque, and hope to send a message to Al-Qaeda. Completely forgetting that the building they are protesting is neither a mosque, nor is it at Ground Zero, where the World Trade Centre in New York was destroyed years ago.

In both cases, the extreme felt it was a wake up call, and the only way to show it was by showing defiance against it. So they did the one thing that history has done time and time again. They burned books. Just like the Nazis did.

I look upon these two particular acts with the same regret and contempt that those who grew up during the Second World War may have felt when books were burned in Nazi Germany. What was done with the Harry Potter books and what is happening with the Qur’an is no different. And we should look upon it no differently than what happened during the Second World War.

I would hope that there are those who remember this, and never let it happen again.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in randomness, Rants, The Way I See It

 

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Life behind the superhero scene: Tales of King City


A lot of readers enjoy reading the escapism that comes with some dystopian future, or the underbelly of some Utopian environment.  Discovering the evils of the world are not really pushed back at all, nor are they in the shadows but right in front of your face.

Which brings us to a writer that is a personal friend and a very good wordsmith.  He’s also got a lot of ideas.  More than me in fact.

Pearce Kilgour and I both grew up from (and escaped from) the ranks of radio.  We worked in broadcast for years, one full year in Rosetown together.  And we both wrote.  None of what we wrote got anywhere close to a bulletin board or web lit.  Because we wrote before the advent of blogging and before high speed internet (yes, we are that old, but he’ll tell you I’m older).  We both quit radio, went into different aspects of computers (he became a packet monkey, I was a fancy lad, or I paint pretty pictures on the computer), but that writing always stayed in the back somewhere.

We’ve both since gotten on with our lives and moved on.  We keep in touch, me in Outlook and he in Saskatoon.  And we write.

Pearce has always had a fascination for that sci fi that has the dark underbelly like in Blade Runner.  And the hard core detective, live Mike Hammer.  I know of characters that he’s created that have that mold, or even the concept of the adventurous detective that must battle her way through thick jungles in order to discover hidden treasure of a family legacy.  It’s not hard to see why Pike (as he is affectionately known, because every swashbuckler needs a good name) has picked up and read the likes of the Dresden Files.

So that brings us to Tales of King City.

Tales of King City is about a Detective named Watson Goodstone.  The city he lives in is one that has the best in high tech security features.  Even Watson himself is a technophile.  And of course, he’s a detective.  Even though the story is short, you can tell that Watson is not one to let go of a mystery, and digs until he can find the truth.  He’s got a good network of colleagues that have similar tastes in investigation.  In this particular story, Watson is perplexed by a certain library.  It would seem more people tend to leave than enter.  Watson is the type of person that would pick up on this kind of thing.

So why need Watson when the city has four resident supers, you know the type.  Underwear on the outside of their clothes, leap tall buildings, that kind of thing.  Maybe this type of thing is actually beneath their notice.  In comes someone like Watson to the rescue.  Of sorts.

You can get a feel for the different elements in as short a time as is needed in this short story.  It’s one that seems like it can be expanded and there’s definite improvement that is warranted.  But like any really good story, this is an excellent start.  It can get you wondering what Watson’s world is like.

If you haven’t checked it out, take the time to do so.  Pearce Kilgour’s Tales of King City and a whole lot more flash fiction available as well.  Read it, I have faith you’ll like it.

Until next time…

…keep ‘em flyin’.

http://bit.ly/RAPweek

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2010 in randomness, Zodiviews

 

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Black Mask & Pale Rider – available now!


The complete series of The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider is now available for digital download at http://www.obooko.com!  Cover art is by Clarrisa R. Hummel, who has helped bring to life the visuals of Shani and Pania.

Elven magic meets gunslinger grit. What happens when two elven travellers find themselves in the United States in the middle of the Civil War? The Adventures of Black Mask and Pale Rider tells the story of two elven women who’s curiosity gets the better of them.

The wild ride takes them from the Union to the Confederacy and back again. Along the way they make enemies and friends and learn a little bit about this world, and about themselves. An adventure of six guns and sorcery.

About Obooko

The obooko website was launched from England into Cyberspace in November 2009 and provides an opportunity for new and established writers from all parts of the World to self-publish and promote their work free of charge.

Your contacts at obooko are Tony Stanton and Tim Johnson.

By removing barriers and making it easy to put work in front of an audience, we hope to allay the fears that prevent the majority of us from writing and publishing.

The complementary objective of obooko is to offer everyone access to free contemporary ebooks in a wide range of genres and categories. Why free? Because not everyone can afford to buy printed books. With this in mind obooko was created to keep people reading, regardless of means.

By offering free copies of work, under Standard Copyright or Creative Commons licences, authors can benefit from valuable feedback from obooko members. This can be used to improve work before it is listed for sale on retail sites or sent to publishers for consideration. In many cases this negates the need for extensive professional editing. What’s more, all authors have the chance of winning an obooko prize, which will be judged by our members, not a panel of experts.

The Adventures of Black Mask & Pale Rider, available in PDF format, for download from http://www.obooko.com!

http://www.obooko.com/obooko_scifi/bookpages/fantasy/fan0050_black_mask_pale_rider_holtorf.php

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2010 in Black Mask and Pale Rider, Writing

 

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