A Letter To BiPolar Disorder

Dear Bipolar Disorder:

I hate you! You know who you are. You’re the one who takes a beautiful, intelligent, determined, kind, giving, loving, wonderful girl and turns her into a stranger who rants, yells, destroys, and insults. You’re the one who steals time, precious time away from her husband and family. You’re the one who makes her risk her life by wandering on an interstate, going where she shouldn’t go, doing what she wouldn’t go.

You’re a destroyer of relationships; a thief of hope; a breaker of hearts; a robber of peace. You’re a divider of households; a ruiner of reputations; and a restrainer of potential.

I swear, Bipolar Disorder, you will not defeat us. I will not allow you to be the winner here. I will not allow you to rule the day. You will lose this battle. We will fight until we find a cure. We may fail from time to time as we learn more and more about you. But we will conquer you, make no mistake about it.

We will win because our victory is founded on love not destruction. We will win because our determination is to live free, not die captive. We will win because we are stronger, we are more determined, and we are better than you could hope to be.

You’re going down one day, Bipolar Disorder. Get ready for it. We will dance together, hand in hand, upon your grave.

With all my heart,

Bryan

Writer’s Tip: The Value of Receptivity

A section I read in Jeff Vandermeer’s wonderful “Booklife” last night reminded me of one of the most important lessons I’ve learned through a decade of international travel and cross-cultural work: be receptive to other world views. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is for characterization and description to see the world through someone else’s eyes in as unbiased a manner as possible.

From a particular character’s point of view, you might write: “the crisp leaves sparkled in the sun, its rays accentuating the luscious green of their color.”

But what if you went inside the head of someone else who saw the same scene through different eyes. “The leaves’ sheen reflected the sun in blinding ways of blue-tinged light.”

There are people out there who see things very differently than you. And the more you know about how those people see the world, the richer your writing can be.

I remember a conversation I had with a friend in Ghana once, a student of one of my workshops, who insisted that God loves white people more than black people. Hearing a black African state that just blew my mind.

“Why would you think that?”

“Because white people are more blessed.  Look at their countries — wealth, power, success. Everything we wish we had and don’t.”

Another student once asked me what it was like to walk on streets of gold in America. And he literally believed the streets were paved with gold.

I visited an African coastal town once and was mobbed by children wanting to touch my skin. They rarely saw white people, our guide explained, you are like a god to them. Hearing that made me mad. I never wanted anyone holding me to that standard especially when it diminished the esteem which they held for themselves.

In Mexico once, I went to play with a friend’s daughters.  I love kids and playing with them delights me. But in this case I quickly noticed how everyone in the house kept a very close eye on me, and the older daughter kept her distance, only smiling occasionally but rarely actively participating in our game. Later, I was told that in the culture men are not expected to be able to control their natural sexual instincts, so they cannot be trusted with girls. I was horrified. I am no molester. I wouldn’t dream of it. Was that what they thought of me?

I bring these examples up (and I have many more) not to argue the merits or truth of the reasoning but to point out how different their view of the world is than someone from my background and culture.

The world is filled with such peoples of different views and by meeting them, interacting with them, and getting a glimpse of the world through their eyes, my world is richer. It doesn’t matter if their view of the world shocked or offended me. It doesn’t matter if it made me sad or angry. These examples inspired all four in me. What matters is that before I couldn’t imagine viewing the world through such lenses but now I can and as a result, I can now better write characters who view the world through lenses far different from my own.

Many of us meet people every day who see the world differently than we do. Those encounters are opportunities to expand our arsenal by engaging them in dialogue and trying to learn who they are and how they see things.  You don’t have to argue with them or agree with them to do that. In fact, I would urge you to avoid either. You’ll get a more honest perspective if you do. But what you can do is discover, through the powers of observation all writers are urged to cultivate and must to succeed, new ways of thinking and looking at things which can use to enrich your writing and your characters.

That’s why I love foreign films and stories and novels. I’m a much deeper, more well rounded person because of such encounters. And the box in which I place my world has grown much larger many times over as well. Grow your box. Build your arsenal and write better stories. The world will thank you for it…on many levels.

For what it’s worth…

What I Want For Christmas This Year

It’s been a tough year. Those who have followed along on the blog or Twitter or Facebook (or all three) will expect they know the answer to this, but actually, as much as I want a job, what I want more is something far more important and meaningful to a happy life.  What I want for Christmas this year is a world where people of any worldview can live the way they believe and express that when they feel necessary without being discriminated against by those who disagree.

I am no Einstein, but I am well educated and I test smart, so I assume I’m not stupid. (If you disagree, so be it). I have spent a lot of years studying, questioning, probing, and coming by my worldview. I am proud of who I am, and, as most of you know, when necessary, I speak out about it. Most of the time I keep it to myself with the exception of election time and when people say bigoted things villifying people like me for our beliefs. That makes me mad, and I speak up. For one, you cannot preach tolerance if you are not practicing it yourself. That’s called being a hypocrite and the actions negate the words. Second, if you really believe in freedom, you have to grant others the same freedom you demand for yourself. If you don’t, you don’t really believe in freedom. Villifying those with whom you disagree is being a bigot. It is discrimination. And it is definitely not tolerance.

I have found myself speaking out a lot more this year. Time and time again people I love and respect, or people I just admire, have made statements villifying Christians as racist or bigoted or ignorant or insane. I’m a Christian. I take offense. Time and again Republicans have been called similar things. I’m a Republican.  I take offense. More than that, as an artist, I am very emotional.  I feel things very deeply.  The words you hurl at me hurt.

I am conservative. I came by my beliefs honestly. I used to be a registered Democrat. I even voted in a Dem president. I am a Christian. I went through a period where I might not have acted like it. But I have come back to embrace those beliefs.

But I am also an individual. I think for myself. I do not buy what pundits sell without investigating, questioning, and examining it myself. And I do not vote the party line. I vote issues.

Since there are extremists in most belief systems, you do find extremist Christians and extremist Republicans. But those are not me. Please do not equate me with them. When you call them insane, racist, bigoted, and ignorant without specifying, you are including me. I don’t appreciate it.

So what I’d like for Christmas is people I love and respect, whom I always try and treat with love and respect, to recognize that my worldview is valid for me, even if they don’t share it, by stopping the hate, speaking out against the hate their fellow believers spread against people like me, and instead recognizing what we do have in common. We all have value. And we all have a lot more in common than different. Can we not celebrate that in 2011 instead of our differences?

That’s what I want. I probably won’t get it. But I hope those who took the time to read this will at least try.

For what it’s worth…

A Merry and Blessed Christmas to you all.  May you get what you want (as long as it’s not the extermination of all people like me).

I Hate Bigotry Spread In the Name of Anti-Bigotry

Just saw a tweet by a guy who said Republicans hate brown skinned because the DREAM Act was voted down.  Well, the DREAM Act is ten year old legislation recently introduced and rushed through by Dems in an attempt to pass it without debate before they lose their majority.  The objections to it were people saying that they wanted time to seriously consider it and revise it if necessary because it was too important to rush through.  Oh yeah, that kind of responsible leadership is bigotry.  Instead of calling those people racists, we should applaud them for having the kind of responsibility our government leaders have all too often lacked of late, but yet they are being labelled bigots.  This, of course, totally ignores the fact that Dems still have the majority and could have passed it if they wanted to. The House approved it. So what if the majority is higher in the House. Obviously even some Dems thought the controversial bill deserved more thought.  That doesn’t make them racist.

This kind of rhetoric is so common today and any true American should find it disgusting.  Labelling people as bigots because they vote against legislation dealing with racial issues is absurd. Maybe there were other factors, such as, maybe it was bad legislation. Legislation has consequences which can last for generations. It should be considered carefully. It is not only unAmerican but indecent to use incendiary false accusations this way solely for political points.  It makes me sick and it is as bigoted an action as what it is accusing others of. Yes, calling someone bigoted falsely is creating a bias against that person. A bias founded on no good reason. It’s manipulative and a lie. And it is despicable behavior which I abhor. All decent Americans should do the same.  It’s become the modus operandi of politicians, particularly the Left, and I’d guess it’s a big part of why the Mid-term elections came out favoring Republicans as they did.

We should all band together a demand a stop to such behavior. It needs to be stopped. It is so harmful.  There is enough real racism in the world without false accusations beings sent forward to confuse the issue and take the focus off real incidents of racism which need to be addressed.

For what it’s worth…

I Believe In Stewardship Not Global Warming

In January 1989, while out in Los Angeles preparing to transfer colleges, I interviewed actor Ted Danson for my college newspaper because he was an alumnus.  During that interview, Danson discussed his passion for the American Ocean’s Campaign (now Oceana), which he’d  founded as an environmental-focused nonprofit to educate the public on saving our damaged oceans.  He recalled the time he’d been on vacation with his family and saw such pollution on a beach that he felt uncomfortable letting his daughters swim.  I recalled times I’d witnessed similar sludge in the Rocky Mountains.  I recalled driving through the Alps and being shocked how well preserved they were by comparison.  That was the moment I first believed mankind’s habit of damaging the environment without concern for the future was a major problem.

So, in a sense, I believed one of the tenets of Global Warming long before that theory existed.  Which is one reason I find it easy to say:  I don’t believe in Global Warming theory.  I believe God created the Earth and gave it to man as a home.  I believe we are here as stewards and we have a responsibility to take care of the gift of our planet and preserve it as a gift to be shared with future generations.  I remember hearing about the destruction of Mangrroves by New Orleans and over in Asia as hurricanes hit and realizing the damage had gotten worse than I’d realized.  And thinking we have to stop this.  And I believe we do.

But that doesn’t mean I believe in all this peudo-science used to justify Global Warming.  Climate changes?  Well, Hammartan winds have been causing strange shifts for decades, so why is it all of a sudden Global Warming?  One of my biggest issues with science as a whole these days is summed up in the article http://slate.me/fo8yGr.  Science has become dominated by people with one dominant worldview and ideology.  How can it truly call itself unbiased, how can the methods truly be subjective when the people asking the questions start from such a similar place?  As a science fiction and fantasy writer, I have marvelled how people who can be so creative and open to endless possibility in their writing can be so close minded in their real world attitudes toward God and other subjects.  Is it really so easy to write off a higher being as the iniator of the Big Bang, when one is so convinced a big bang actually occurred?

And the arguments I’ve heard and data I’ve read on Global Warming just prove this to me.  Anyone who even remotely questions the theory is labelled “irrational” or “ignorant.”  What happened to healthy skepticism in science?  Some legitimate questions have been raised about the data and I don’t think true, dedicated scientists of integrity would discount them so quickly.  There’s no doubt, in my mind, that mankind’s activities are harming the environment.  Corporations and governments and others have built for years, destroying habitat and natural resources, without any regard for long term impact.  We’ve known most of my life that oil was not unlimited, that it one day might run out.  The fact that it hasn’t yet, doesn’t change my concern that our dependence on fossil fuels is a long term concern.  In the same way, I can believe that the Earth’s other rich resources have limits. And one has only to read the Wildlife Foundations endangered species lists to figure out  the damage done to the animal kingdom.

Is it really possible for anyone to believe significant damage hasn’t been done to the environment by man?  Not a rational person, no, but rational people still don’t have to believe in Global Warming to be rational.  Sorry folks.  The very suggestion that they do is completely irrational.  This is science, remember?  It’s based on hypothesis which form theories.  In essence, educated guesses, at least until definitive proof exists.  And while definitive proof exists of environmental damage by man, Global Warming theory has not been definitively proven.  So I remain skeptical.

The need for stewardship, however, is obvious.  It occurs not only in personal finance or use of office supplies (particularly witnessed by those responsible for the relevant budgets) but in the face of rising gas prices.  It’s not really a big stretch to apply the concept to other areas as well, such as the environment.  As farmers, my family often spoke of good stewardship of their land.  Land is valuable and to survive, farmers must make the most of every parcel.  Perhaps city folk have a harder time grasping this prospect, but I don’t think it’s that hard.  We have to take care of everything we own if we want it to last.  I learned that every time a childhood toy broke and couldn’t be repaired.

So here I am, proponent of stewardship but Global Warming skeptic. And I am a rational person, despite being a science fiction and fantasy writer.  I have great faith in science and great faith in religion, and I have great faith in human kind.

For what it’s worth…

18-Month Do-Over

Have you ever wished you could have a do-over?  Go back and undo something you did, however large or small, and just make different choices?  It’s something we used to holler as kids “Do-over!”  Now here I am as a 41-year-old adult feeling the same way.  If I could go back and redo the past 18 or 20 months and make different choices how would life be for us?  How much of the present trouble could we have avoided?

We couldn’t likely have avoided my wife’s medical crisis.  Signs of that impending issue were evident months before we moved.  It would have been dealt with differently in some ways, but much of that issue would have been faced the same as here except for a closer network of family and friends to provide support.

We probably would have yet to live in a house, which changed our perspective on housing forever.  We just adored it.

The restlessness and stagnation of life we felt before we left St. Louis might be worse.

I might well have still lost my job at the unnamed company I telecommuted for. 

We’d still be in Saint Louis for one thing.  And having lived there for 9 years, the support system we’ve found there is wider and deeper in many ways than anything we’ve had time to establish here locally.

We wouldn’t have our beloved dog Amélie or cat Doce, whom we adopted from shelters in El Paso.

There are people here we care about whom we wouldn’t know.

And there were some classes I taught in Juarez I wouldn’t have been able to teach.

Overall, though I still wonder what would life be like?  Would I be unemployed?

Would I have written the two novels and dozens of short stories I’ve written?

Would I have made all my Twitter friends?

Would I have gone to the conventions I attended?

I would not have had the stress my challenging part time position has brought to my life.  There are benefits of experience as well as some songs I wrote through that which might not exist, but I do think our life could have been just fine without that stress.  The only thing is, again, I met some fine people whom I think the world of and wouldn’t have had the chance to know without that.  Those would be a loss.

It’s hard to say, looking at all of this, if I’d really do it or not.  I think I’d make a few different choices, and I think I’d put my foot down stronger in some ways and places also.

For one, the friends who never called us at all despite all our difficulties, never offered help or encouragement, whom we only heard from to criticize us for something they found disturbing in a FB post or blog, etc., well, I’d stop thinking of them as friends.

For two, I’d stand up more firmly to both recently employers far sooner about issues which ultimately backfired by getting fingers pointed at me undeservedly.

For three, I would have made sure my wife got to do some fun things she’s wanted to do since we came which I never made time for and we now can’t afford.

I wouldn’t stop being honest about the troubles because I’ve heard from many who face similar situations whom it has helped and I’ve heard also it helps those who haven’t been through such situations to empathize more with those who have.  Empathy is a very good thing.

I wouldn’t stop using Facebook and Twitter to mention things I find ludicrous.  Even things from my daily life or relationships.  That’s what those are for.  And commiserating with those people has been a true pleasure and support.  I wouldn’t change some of the friendships I’ve made, although I might have considered them at different levels than I had been thinking they were (so they’ve proven to be).

So would I really want a Do-Over?  On specific bits and pieces, yet, but overall, probably not.  After all, how could I live without my Amélie and Doce?  And not without the true friends I’ve found along the way.  Sometimes I just wish there were more of them.

For what it’s worth…

Ruminations on a Fresh Start

Okay, took a little hiatus after the last post, for obvious reasons.  I am feeling better, although life isn’t.  In two weeks, I will be totally unemployed, and although neither of my recent employers will go down on my list as pleasurable memories in most ways, co-workers and others will be missed.  We do feel ready for a fresh start, however, and I am hoping that begins with a book contract.

Yet a third small press is now reading “The Worker Prince,” and their first comment was “You write really well.”  Makes me feel good, of course.  They loved the opening and said it sucked them right in, which is exactly what I wanted, so I am hoping they love the rest of it as much.  It would be good to have some options on this thing, especially since it’s my first and smell presses and will require a big commitment on all of our parts to make it a success.

Another part of the fresh start will be attending two trips.  I leave tomorrow for Phoenix to attend Christian Musician’s Summit Southwest, a conference I tried to attend twice last year and had to cancel due to my wife’s illness.  I have dreamed of attending for several years, so it seems I will finally get to do that.  A lot of big name worship leaders and musicians will be there offering the chance for me to attend 8 classes, some keynote speeches, and a couple of concerts.  It will be a nice break from the mundane routine.

On the 28th, I am off to Columbus, Ohio for World Fantasy Convention, my second speculative fiction convention ever, and my first Worldcon.  I am quite excited to meet so many friends from Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well as attend lots of learning sessions, get books singed by known authors, and hopefully meet lots of other authors, agents, publishers, etc.  My old friend Eric Reynolds of Hadley Rille will be there, as will Mike Resnick and Blake Charlton, Christie Yant, Sandra Wickham, John Remy, Erika Holt, and Moises Siregar.  It will be a great chance to solidify online friendships and to be with people who are pursuing and living the same dreams I am as a writer.  I also look forward to seeing Columbus again, as I had visited there years ago on my music touring.

With the church Music Director job ending, we will also be seeking a new church home, which, along with the new job I hope materializes soon, should also make for a fresh start.

Lots of opportunities for new experiences here, and I hope to get back on and finish the First Draft of “Sandman,” my epic fantasy, in the next week also, so that I can start a new book as part of National Novel Writing Month in November.  It will be good to have a push like that to get back on track with the writing.

Meanwhile, it has been good to have a break from Tangent stuff to work on reading for fun.  I am about to finish the last Majipoor book at long last (fighting tears — these books are so fantastic) and will soon read “Windup Girl,” “Boneshaker,” and several others I have lined up and waiting.  Since starting at Tangent, reading for fun has been something I had little time for and I have been bummed to fall so far behind on this huge backlog.  Glad to get a little chance to catch up.

Well, that’s the latest.  I’ll try and write another writing cue photo post and writer’s tip soon as well.  Thanks for stopping by.

For what it’s worth…

Living Inside Depression

It’s been a hard decision whether or not to blog about this.

First, I wonder if anyone cares?  Does anyone even read this blog?  I rarely ever get comments.  I am running a sale on my book for the first 15 who comment on my last entry, and after two days, I have 1 comment.  Most of the other posts have no comments. So it’s obviously not high traffic.

Second of all, writing about depression is depressing. Who wants to read that?

Third, this is my author blog.  Most people who come here probably would rather hear about books, writing, etc, not this stuff.  Although my whole life is wrapped up in this current state, still, it’s personal.  Do people want to know that much?

I finally decided I’ll blog about it because writing is therapeutic for me.  And because I have spent a good portion of my life doing everything I can to serve and help others, maybe a glimpse inside the mind of a depressed person will help someone else somehow.

We recently were forced to give up a home we had hoped to purchase and moved back to a town home.  For 15 months, we lived in a house.  I had not lived in a house since leaving my parents’ home.  Bianca had not lived in an apartment until she married me.  The difference in housing types is night and day and we much prefer the house.  Privacy, space, personalization — the advantages are numerous, but ultimately, it just fits us better.  Now, my part time music ministry job is going away as well, and the options out there are retail at 41 years old, a place I never wanted to return to and which, frankly, pays 1 third of what I have been making and what, up to may, we were used to living on.  Because of the debt load we carry, in part due to medical expenses, in part due to living stupidly beyond our means, taking a retail job at such low pay will require me to work tons of hours to make up for the loss of the part time job income of $1200 a month.  If I work more than 29 hours, I lose my welfare of $880.  So instead of having $2080, I will be providing $1250 or so for us to live on.  We cannot live on that.  I am told I do not qualify for the Federal Unemployment extension because I have “marketable skills,” although how you can label something as marketable which no one seems to want is beyond me.

Since being laid off from my lousy last employer in May I have applied for 500 some jobs (rough guess).  I have done 1 in person interview and 3 phone interviews.  I have worked hard on my resume, now in its 9th draft since May, consulting professional sites, advisors, etc.  In fact, I imagine I have spent close to $800 trying to get employed which increased out debt, but the economy is awful, don’t let the Obama lies fool you, and it’s not getting any better.  My Texas Workforce advisor says most people are taking over a year to find jobs.  Every time I hear or think about that, I wonder how we will survive?  We already are facing potential bankruptcy.  I am ashamed of being such a failure.  I am angry that I have spent 41 years and have no career path, making my job search harder.  The fact that I dedicated much of those years to missions and nonprofit work doesn’t seem to matter.  I look like an unstable employee who floated around freelance and never held a job.  That says nothing about my real dedication, effort and capabilities.  It also sucks to not be able to do what you love.

My part time job was supposed to be that.  Church music ministry.  I have been writing and performing songs all my life.  Finally to get paid to do it.  And to lead people into relationship with God, which I love and is a real humbling honor and privilege.  WOW!   But instead, I found myself working for a man who micromanages to the finest detail, doesn’t seem to trust anyone but himself, and, despite my 15 year track record, treated me like I just fell off a turnip truck.  People with no experience and less qualified education are allowed to do things I’ve been doing for 15 years but am not allowed to do at that church.  And despite the fact my worship team are amazing people, whom I adore, it has been a humiliating, hurtful experience with no opportunity for personal and professional growth.  Attempts to discuss this with the boss were met with cold ears and a “my way or the highway attitude.”  Here’s a man who preaches mercy, acknowledging sin, and apologies but has not practiced that toward my wife and I.  Anything we do to offend him, an apology is demanded, yet in 16 months, I don’t recall ever hearing one back.  The wounds we carry for it are deep.

My full time job at the software vendor whose product I had worked so hard to promote and implement while consulting at a Fortune 500 company for four years, was one of the harder places to work.  One moment they praised you as valuable and like family, the next your job was on the line.  No warning.  I never got regular feedback.  I only heard from them when they had some major issue.  I got very little training and yet was criticized for not doing things the way they wanted them.  They put me into positions with which I had little or no experience and didn’t do anything to help my succeed.  I was on my own.  Then, they laid me off at a time when they knew our struggles financially from a medical crisis my wife had last fall.  They got mad when I told them all of this, demanding I be respectful.  I was hired for technical writing.  Everyone praised my work at that.  It’s where my gifts lie.  Did they really expect they could throw me in unfamiliar territory with no support and I’d be a star?  Wish I could, but it was hard.  They have too few employees for the number of high demanding clients and it’s stressful and you’re expected to know everything.  Since I don’t like to lie and I won’t damage my integrity by pretending to know what I don’t, it’s hard.

So here I am, feeling like a failure.  Wondering why my life sucks so much.  Why was I born?  Why in the world am I supposed to have hope when everything gets worse and worse?  I have not even mentioned some other issues, but, trust me, they are one disaster after another.  Why is it that I am called overqualified and underqualified but can’t seem to find myself qualified?  How am I supposed to feel when I can’t provide for my wife?  When I can’t seem to hold a job?  Or when I get one I have passion for, why does it have to suck?  When I can’t get anyone interested in my “marketable skills?”  Why am I doomed to jobs that are not my passion where I struggle with focus because of ADHD and lack of true passion and end up regarded as unsatisfactory or expendable because of it?  Why was I cursed with ADHD?  Why can’t I do what I love?

I don’t know the answer, and I don’t expect you will either, but I can tell you that when I mentioned to my friend that I was lying here feeling like a worthless lump and he told me to get up and go outside, my response was:  “If I go outside, I’m afraid I won’t stop walking until I reach Interstate 10 two blocks away and throw myself in front of a car.”  Right now, I can’t even find the motivation to do that much.

So, if you want to know how it feels inside depression?  Here’s your glimpse.  Hope you don’t think it’s pretty.  It’s not.  It’s a deep, dark pit where the sun’s rays can’t penetrate and event he Almighty God himself doesn’t have arms long enough to reach.  Welcome to my world.  For what it’s worth…

Life or something like it’s got a hold on me

I am so behind on so many things. I even got behind on applying or jobs, although that had to, by necessity, go back to the top of the list and I am currently caught up. Needless to say, I am behind on blogging as well. I do have some things I want to blog about, including more author tips, but for now, I am just dropping in to say don’t give up on me.

I’m still awaiting offers for the “Worker Prince” space opera trio. One of the publishers is done and putting together the offer. The other is reading the entire manuscript again with both changes they requested and changes I initiated myself and will get back to me.

I am close to finishing the first draft of book 1 in my epic fantasy series as well.

My North Star Serial stories continue running monthly at www.digitaldragonmagazine.net and can be read there, or on my website as soon as the webmaster updates it (she’s fallen behind). www.bryanthomasschmidt.net

Beyond that, I have also accepted the position off Assistant Editor, E-zines at Tangent, an award winning fanzine known as the top source for reviews of short fiction. Check it out at www.tangentonline.com. I have several reviews posted already: Asimov’s August 2010, Analog November 2010, Mike Resnick’s Blasphemy, and Interzone September-October 2010. Our new format will launch soon and include all the e-zine stuff which I and my dedicated reviewers are working hard on to get ready.

One interesting thing about reviewing is it teaches me to examine stories more critically from a number of different aspects, and that can only help my own self-editing and the editing I do for others. I am also learning a lot about what I don’t like, which is why it has taken me a while to get into short fiction and read some of the magazines I’ve been subscribing two now for over a year and am way behind on. I don’t care at all for slipstream. I like my SF and F much more straight forward. I like sword and sorcery, high fantasy, and I like space opera. I am not impressed by writers who try really hard to invent complicated science and to teach us some moral lesson. I am much more impressed when they actually tell a good, involving story with dynamic, interesting, relatable characters. Those stories draw me in, whether they have complicated science or a moral or not. Perhaps that’s why I tend to worry first about character and plot in my own stories and let the rest of it fall in place where it may.

In any case, my involvement with Tangent will no doubt continue to involve me in the SFF community in new ways and teach me things which will be reflected in my writing, including my musings here. I hope you’ll find that interesting. And I do thank you for reading.

For what it’s worth…

What’s customer service Facebook?

My wife’s account is blocked until she proves who she is. Facebook wants her to text from her cell phone, only texting is turned off on her phone. She never uses it and with me unemployed, we had to cut expenses. So here we are. We try and click the alternate method button but can’t get anything but text.

This is just another example of big companies having no couth about customer service. If I ran my business the way Facebook does, I’d be out of business. When you inconvenience your customers, then you make an impression, and so far, from all my dealings with Facebook, the impression is negative. My wife is so disgusted at their lack of response that she refuses to email again. I emailed but they cannot reveal personal details of another person’s account. I don’t want “personal details,” I want my wife to have an alternate option to get her account verified so she can be on Facebook.

It’s ridiculous how they treat users: not responding to customer service issues. I had a friend who had to start another account because hers was hacked and Facebook wouldn’t respond. So much for her personal info and pics. The guy was chatting and email all of us asking for money. Apparently, that’s okay with Facebook as it is to lock people out of accounts. A friend of mine had the same problem. Facebook reminds me of the airlines, and I am the first person in line to push the government to change the rules for how the airlines treat customers. Guess I’ll add Facebook to the list. If I didn’t need it for business networking as an author, I’d just quit and go somewhere else.

What’s customer service Facebook? You really ought to learn. Sites fade in popularity and it’s only a matter of time before you become another My Space if you continue like this.

For what it’s worth…

A Few Thoughts On Tea Parties and Freedom Of Speech

I know I’m behind again. Tomorrow I’ll review another book, but for now, here’s something I hope makes you think:

Although the Tea Parties of today have taken an approach I don’t support, I find it hard to disagree with their sentiments. Anger at the direction this country is taken has become endemic on both sides, and why wouldn’t? We have a president who promised change yet has basically run the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan the same way they were run by the previous administration. A president who sat back blaming others and reminding us Bush “was slow with Katrina” while he allowed one of the biggest oil spills in history to spread and do more damage. He could have sent in federal cleanup and charged BP for the bill, but instead, he sat back and played the blame game. With the problems our country faces, and this kind of leadership from Congress and the White House, we should all be mad and celebrate the freedom of speech our Founding Fathers secured for us. If they hadn’t objected to bad governing, we’d be hearing “Hail To The Queen” instead of “Hail To The Chief.” So the tea party history is important to this country.