PINNED POST: Recap Directory for Grey, the pseudo-new Fifty Shades book

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New chapters will be linked here as they post.

Acknowledgements and Chapter 1, Monday, May 9, 2011
Chapter 2, Saturday, May 14th, 2011
Chapter 3, Sunday, May 15th, 2011
Chapter 4, Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Chapter 5, Friday, May 20th, 2011
Chapter 6: Saturday, May 21st, 2011, PART 1
Chapter 6: Saturday, May 21st, 2011, PART 2
Chapter 6: Saturday, May 21st, 2011, PART 3
Chapter 6: Saturday, May 21st, 2011, PART 4
Chapter 7: Sunday, May 22nd, 2011, PART 1
Chapter 7: Sunday, May 22nd, 2011, PART 2
Chapter 8: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, PART 1
Chapter 8: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, PART 2
Chapter 9: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Chapter 10: Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Chapter 11: Thursday, May 26th, 2011, PART 1
Chapter 11: Thursday, May 26th, 2011, PART 2
Chapter 11: Thursday, May 26th, 2011, PART 3
Chapter 12: Friday, May 27th, 2011, PART 1
Chapter 12: Friday, May 27th, 2011, PART 2
Chapter 13: Saturday, May 28th, 2011
Chapter 14: Sunday, May 29th, 2011, PART 1
Chapter 14: Sunday, May 29th, 2011, PART 2
Chapter 14: Sunday, May 29th, 2011, PART 3
Chapter 15: Monday, May 30, 2011, PART 1
Chapter 15: Monday, May 30, 2011, PART 2

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Beauty and the Beast dropped the ball, BIG time

Yes, yes, I know, I keep waxing and waning when it comes to this blog.  It’s never far from my mind, but time is extremely illusive.  Soon, I will write a week in my life.

The rest of this post will have spoilers, but they’ve been confirmed by the cast and crew.

Tonight Disney confirmed that the character of LeFou will be gay.  On top of Belle being rewritten as a confident inventor who invents the washing machine (they said that we were never given a reason for the townspeople to hate her, even though we totally were, and now there’s a reason that they should all want to be her best friend), Maurice being demoted from inventor to senile old fellow, and Beast being a lover of literature (so being a bookwork is good enough for him, but not for Belle…?), we have another social commentary issue.  I’m not sure where on earth the story is anymore.  It’s buried under all the social commentary!

However, there are some HUGE problems with having LeFou be gay.

Who is the character who mentally and physically abuses him?

Gaston hitting lefou abusive

Disney’s first openly-gay character is not only in love with someone who isn’t gay (meaning a dead-end…mercifully in this case), he’s in love with his abuser.  Rather than getting to hope LeFou finds happiness with the person he’s in love with (it could have been sweet if he and another man had eyes for each other and exchanged sweet, shy smiles), we’re left to hope that he’s broken–hearted because that’s better than ending up in an abusive relationship.

I really wanted to love this movie.  When I heard it rumored, I was excited, and when it was confirmed, I was thrilled.  But as more and more has come out about it, an extremely high amount, actually, that has been confirmed, almost as if they’re trying to justify some of these changes ahead of time, the less and less excited I am to see it.  The scenery and sets are stunning, the background characters’ clothing are wonderful, most of the main cast’s wardrobes are as well (Emma’s yellow gown is very, very modern, but that’s the least of my aggravations when it comes to Emma Watson, who has made it painfully apparent that she doesn’t understand the role of women and their clothing, namely corsets, throughout history, while painting herself as an expert on the very thing that is actually my career), but when it comes to the changes made to the characters themselves, and the super-secret change to the end, only said as Belle will be the one to save the day, I am no longer looking forward to this movie.  I’m actually upset.

LeFou being put into a position of loving an abuser, something it seems we’re supposed to root for, has made my anger explode.

Great job, Disney.  The first gay romance is once we need to root against because it’s a dangerous one.  FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC.

Carrie’s impact on me as a young girl

I keep choking up today.  See, when I was a kid, I loved math, and was told that that was s boy thing.  I loved science, and was told that that was a boy thing.  Being a leader was a boy thing.  To be blunt, it really fucking sucks when you’re a kid, and are told that building things and figuring things out are boy things.  I am so thankful we had Carrie and how she portrayed a young princess kicking ass and not bothering to take names.charlotte-as-rey

Leia was a hero in her very own right.  She wasn’t an off-shoot, like She-Ra was to He-Man, and she didn’t sit at the seat while the men did the major work.  Carrie could have made Leia a joke, but instead, from her first moment on the screen, she owned that role, and she made it clear that power was hers.  In that first moment, you could believe that she was the leader of those around her.  Her head was high, and she had a steely glint that showed that no one was going to be the boss of her.  As a little girl, that made an impact on me.   Here was a woman who was doing what girls weren’t supposed to!  Here was a girl who was just as strong as the boys, who could save people just as well as the boys.  She was smart and in charge!  She would fix things and solve problems!  She went against the grain and said that girls can do the “boy” things too helped me continue doing what I loved even as I was told by so many people that boys are the ones who are supposed to do math and science.  Carrie showed women (and girls) can be strong all by themselves.  Even in her iconic leather and metal bikini, she exuded bravery and confidence.  And that was pretty damned awesome.  That was Carrie.  How she played Leia is her.  A fighter.  A feminist.   A leader.  A problem-solver.  An advocate.   She was who we had. 

I’m glad that my daughter, Charlotte, is now growing up in a world where she has role models who are girls who are strong for themselves.  Even among a bevy of women and girls who save the day, she is drawn to Star Wars.  She loves Rey.  Rey is today’s Princess Leia.  Carrie showed that a young woman can be prominent in an action sci-fi film, and that audiences would believe it and want to have move.  In her way, she helped pave the road for The Force Awakens to center around a young female protagonist.  We are extremely lucky to have had her in our world.

director-j-j-abrams-note-about-carrie-fisher

Today we lost Carrie Fisher

While the world is mourning the loss of singer/actress/script-doctor/author Carrie Fisher, I beseech you all not to forget that Carrie did not end at Princess Leia.   In sharing photos of Carrie as a young Princess Leia, let’s remember that she grew up into General Organa, and had a life marked by struggles that she fought to turn into good for others.

carrie-fisher
She spoke out against ageism in Hollywood. “Men don’t age better than women, they’re carrie-fisher-as-general-organajust allowed to age,” she retweeted last year.    It wasn’t always easy, and like any human woman, she struggled with this.  Rising above criticism for being a human in a time where the Fountain of Youth has not been discovered is difficult for anyone, much less a woman with a large fan base who continue to fantasize about a 27-year-old in a gold metal bikini who expect her to still look the same.

Let us honor her stance against ageism by acknowledging that she did age, and kicked a lot more ass by doing so.

It’s this older Carrie, an older Carrie, who had so much more that she taught us.  It’s this older Carrie who encompasses the younger Carrie, this older Carrie who had not yet dealt with the full depth of problems that younger Carrie would come to face.  Younger Carrie carrie-fisher-as-princess-leiawas always a strong woman on her own right, evidenced in how perfectly she portrayed Princess Leia as fierce and independent even in an era where women were still seen as much lesser than than today.

The Carrie we lost today had a life of great ups and great downs. She was born the child of a Hollywood golden couple, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.  When she was just a toddler, her father left her mother, and Elizabeth Taylor became her step-mother.  Carrie became a vociferous reader.  After appearing in the Broadway, Irene, with her mother, Carrie’s schedule interfered with high school, and she dropped out.  But it would soon lead to a role in a silly-sounding movie that her friend joked must have been named after her parents fighting.

Yes. Star Wars.  Is there anything else that needs to be said about such a strong, leia-and-vaderkick-ass, take-no-prisoners princess who doesn’t know the meaning of backing down in the face of danger?  There’s plenty, however, to be said about the Star Wars Holiday Special, which will live in infamy, but which will now likely be endeared to many.

The special held a heavy hint of what would come for Carrie.  No number of takes would be enough to conceal the drug-use on the set.  The cast looked stoned on pot, but were instead high on something sinister.  Film reviewer Nathan Rabin described the special as “ultimately written and directed by a sentient bag of cocaine,” and he wouldn’t have been far from correct.  By the time The Empire Strikes Back was rolling, cocaine was being used on the set, and Carrie was using the most.

carrie-fisher-in-blues-brothersThis didn’t stop her from a couple of Broadway appearances in 1980, and having a cameo in The Blues Brothers.  She choked on a Brussels sprout during filming.  Thanks to Dan Aykroyd’s use of the Heimlich maneuver, she survived.

After achieving sobriety for a short time in 1985, she nearly died from an overdose,  but not from cocaine.  This was due to prescription narcotics and sleeping pills, both which are much easier to obtain than cocaine.  After surviving that brush with death, Carrie went on to pen her first novel, Postcards from the Edge, which went on to be made into a movie of the same name starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid.  The story is semi-autobiographical in nature.

After this film, and around the time Carrie gave birth to her only child, daughter Billie Catherine Lourd, Carrie’s career took a turn.  She didn’t quite leave acting.  Oh, no, she’d never leave acting.  She became a script doctor.  Without her uncredited work, Hook and Sister Act would not have become what they did.  They are now classics, and are an unknown part of her legacy.   However, Carrie also worked on the dialog for the three Star Wars prequels.

When her good friend, R. Gregory Stevens, died in her home from a combination of cocaine and oxycodone, complicated by undiagnosed heart disease, Carrie dove back into the world of drugs, though she had been self-medicating her bipolar disorder since at least 2001.

In 2008, her outspokenness on addiction and mental health ticked up, and she found a Carrie Fisher at Harvard.jpgnew audience who saw her as a role model for recovery, honestly, and helping raise awareness of these issues.  Combined with her open agnosticism, Carrie was awarded the Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from Harvard College and the Harvard Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics for “her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy.”

Carrie never shied away from tackling her demons and never concealed her flaws.  As she aged, she became bolder, became more of the General Organa she still is.  In her own human way, she’s led a resistance against stigma, and became a beacon of hope for those fighting their own demons, whether drugs, mental illness, or body issues, and showed us that we can be flawed, but still be awesome people.  She showed that there is life and humor after walking a hard road.

Though death’s third attempt to take her from us ended her life too soon, when she still had so much she had left to do on this earth, she has not been taken from us, not as long as we remember what she had to teach.

General Organa and Han Solo.jpg

Be in peace, Carrie.

Interview with an Author: E.B. Black

Alys: On this lovely and stormy December day, I have author-e-b-blackMadame E.B. Black, who is reportedly holding Elizabeth hostage, or so her website and cute dog’s nose say. Welcome! How much is the ransom?

E.B. Black: Lol. Elizabeth will only be allowed to leave once all the stories have been written. The problem is, every time I write one of them, I come up with ideas for ten more.

Oh, what a problem to have! Many authors would give a few teeth to have the ideas spring forth from the well!

So far your books have tended to at least touch on mythology. Your first two, in your Fate of Eros series, were about two different goddesses. What inspired you to explore two well-know, but often-ignored goddesses?

I love fantasy and fantasy’s roots are in ancient mythology. We take aspects of those ancient stories and make new tales of our own, changing them a little every time. I wanted to be more direct when I borrowed from those old stories and retell the stories in a more direct way. I wanted to change a few of the details, without changing the stories at all themselves, to give a more modern perspective and to give new insight into old, beloved characters. I want to flesh out their personalities and lives a bit more.

Pandora’s Mistake on Amazon, Medusa’s Desire on Amazon

Why did you choose Pandora first?

I kind figured out the timeline for all the characters I wanted to write about, when each of them was born in relation to each other, according to the myths and Pandora came first because she was the first woman created by Zeus. I also want the characters in the background of these stories to slowly develop over many years as the main story is happening and it makes more sense if I keep it all in a chronological order.

And Medusa came second. Inquiring minds, well, mind, wants to know which goddess will be presented next in the Fate of Eros series, and if you may branch out into the gods as the primary protagonists next.

I write for women, so I usually write from the perspective of a woman. But the next book is actually about a man named Sisyphus. Most people know him as the guy who had to roll the rock up the hill in Hades for eternity because it keeps rolling down whenever he gets to the top. But there’s a long story as to how he got there. I wanted to write about him because I found him interesting and a lot of people have told me my books have taught them so much about Greek mythology because they stick so closely to the originals. Sisyphus is an interesting character that not a lot of people know much about.

He was only touched on briefly in my mythology classes. Such a shame. He’s basically got the punishment that’s the equivalent of moving rocks from one end of a field to the other and back again. Pretty awful!

This year has brought us two books in a new series, God of Light.

Bright’s Passion on Amazon, Night’s Lust on Amazon

Is there any potential for crossing these two series over at some point?

Probably not. They take place in two totally different worlds. The God Of Light world is completely original and I’ll be finished with it once I finish writing the third book for the series. It will only be a trilogy.

Bright and Night encompass both parts of a day. Will the third be a showdown, or bring us a new brother?

The third will definitely bring even more heightened tension between the two and the love triangle they have with Adonya. Rather than bringing in a new brother, I actually bring in a female character named Star who makes their loved triangle even more complicated.

celestia-twilight-luna

Twilight is not amused.

That makes me think of characters from a tv show I love. Princesses Celestia, Luna, and Twilight Sparkle. 

 

I can see several ways that Star would complicate matters for the brothers and Adonya. Will she had the chance to do so in 2017, or will she wait until Sisyphus has an opportunity to tell his story?

Probably her story will come first because I have more of it written as of right now than my story about Sisyphus. I work on several projects at once, though, so I am not always able to predict which one I will finish first accurately. But I am very excited about her story. She’s very sweet, innocent, and naive and she’s thrown into this world with these three damaged characters. It’s interesting to write how this changes her and how she changes them.

So she won’t know much about this established triangle before finding herself in the center?

She doesn’t know anything at all. The first page of the book is actually about her coming into existence. She’s named star because she is a star that became a human. And she’s still learning what it means to be a human-how to eat, how to drink, how to speak, how to walk, and why humans do the things they do.

What an overwhelming experience for her to have to learn about being in the first place, and then entering a triangle. The mother in me already wants to give her a cup of cocoa and a hug.

Do Fate of Eros and God of Light influence each other as you’re writing them?

As an author, I learn more about writing and what it means to be a good writer with every page and chapter that I write. The stories don’t influence each other directly, but the things I learn from writing each one of them helps me do a better job at writing the other one.

Would you tell me a bit about your journey from deciding to write to finishing your first manuscript?

I’ve always loved to read and I have been an introvert a lot of my life, daydreaming about various things. Daydreams always relax me and help me sleep when I can’t or get me through a bad day. When I was in college, I had a professor tell me about how the people who change the world are the ones who provide entertainment, that we learn a lot through stories and entertainment. I thought that sounded cool and I wanted to make my stories into a real, tangible thing, so I started writing and studying writing. I learned that you can’t finish a story in a couple of days, you have to have discipline and write regularly if you want to be an author.

Eventually, all that hard work turned into a completed manuscript. Although I wound up deleting that one a long time ago. My Fate of Eros series were the 3 & 4 books I’d ever written in my lifetime.

Your professor hit on a very important point that has been blatantly ignored over the last several years. Society /does/ learn a lot through what we view as entertainment. Sometimes this is good and progressive and moves us forward by normalizing natural situations and challenging our thoughts, and sometimes it’s dangerous and sets us back by normalizing and romanticizing dangerous situations.

What responsibility do you think authors have for the influence their work can have on others, and how much responsibility to you think readers have to limit how much books and pop culture influence themselves and others in society?

That’s a really good question and I feel like people could write many books discussing it because it’s so complicated. I don’t think, first of all, that authors should be held accountable for other people’s actions. Authors use words to explore every scenario they can think of and try to make sense of it in some way. They wrestle with thoughts and with characters sometimes that commit acts that most people would find deplorable and it helps us understand why people do horrible things.

But actions have more serious consequences than thoughts; actions are different than words. “Dexter” is one of my favorite television shows of all time and I think there a lot of people who watch that show and take the wrong thing from it. They want Dexter to be real. They want some serial killer to go around killing other murderers and sexual predators on the streets. Some of them even want to be Dexter. But what I think people should get out of it is that we have an imperfect justice system and that a lot of people out there are being hurt because of it. Dexter isn’t a solution. No serial killers are heroes, although some might think they are.

So there’s a bit of truth in there that you can glean from every story, because it highlights the problem with justice in our society, but I think it’s important that readers think critically for themselves and do research before taking actions. Stories are needed because sometimes they are the only way to help someone empathize with a problem because they are experiencing that problem with the characters themselves, instead of just being told about. They can feel the pain through the story.

But critical thinking is also important because everywhere in life, on television and in social media especially, you have to think critically about what you consume or you might be lead down bad paths. It’s the same kind of discernment you need to have when you’re trying to decide who to be friends with and what people to trust. You can’t accept everyone or you’ll get hurt. Neither can you accept everything entertainment tells you as fact because the truth is, it’s all fiction, even though it has grains of truth sprinkled throughout it.

But not every story is about exceptional situations, about serial killers or winged fairies or angels with superhuman powers. Some stories are about common everyday people, and influence on a more subtle level. It’s hard to not be affected when a story has managed to subtly affect the way society idolizes danger. When an author realizes their work is normalizing danger on a wide scale, should an author continue to push their work, or should they denounce those actions? Is this not, in a way, similar to inciting a riot, then washing one’s hands of the resulting actions?

I think it depends on the situation. Authors are fallible people, so sometimes we might misrepresent a group of people in some way or a situation because we weren’t being empathetic enough or doing the right research on it. If we realize that we were ill-informed and that we’ve now spread misinformation to the public that is hurting people, then it is 100% our responsibility to do whatever we can to remedy it including possibly, taking the book down. And even if we were well-informed but a lot of people are using our books to hurt people, I think it’s good for the author to speak out and tell those people to stop and try to correct their misunderstanding if possible.

But if we were just writing a story exploring the psychology behind a murderer and someone decides to murder because of it, I don’t think that’s our fault. Authors can’t control how people take their books and what they do with them. If we could, then there would be no one star reviews. And there are just some really crazy people out there who are looking for an excuse to do something bad and they’ll pin it on some form of entertainment, even though they were going to do something bad all along. Authors aren’t responsible for those people.

ayn-rand

President-Elect Trump’s cabinet is a Who’s Who of Ayn Rand’s biggest followers, who refer to her books as a look at an ideal world. She’d be proud.

No, we can’t control, but we definitely can influence, and sometimes authors intentionally push damaging angles. Right now Ayn Rand comes to mind, given the state of America.

 

When you write, do you ever feel a desire to touch on social issues, whether subtly or more blatantly? Gods and goddesses seem to be a great opportunity since typical social norms often don’t apply (like Loki turning into a female horse and giving birth to his own equine son).

I constantly want to touch on social issues, to be honest. But I also love the escape in fiction, so I’m constantly going back and forth between writing both things. I love fantasy because it always takes place in a world different than our own, so it’s so much easier to sneak parallel issues relating to things happening in our world without being too obvious about it.

But I also am sometimes more obvious, although none of those more obvious stories that I’ve experimented with have become published. Like I’ve been working off and on sometimes, writing a story about a girl who discovers she’s diabetic because diabetes is such a huge problem in our society and a disease that a lot of my family and myself suffer from. I have subtle themes in my books related to other issues as well and sometimes it’s easy to hide behind fantasy, so you can pretend you’re not really writing about certain issues just in case people are angered by your thoughts. But I’ve been writing for Hubpages lately as well and on Hubpages, it’s all non-fiction, so you have to be direct and have a real opinion on things. So I’ve written about some of my experiences and thoughts on things there directly.

Sounds like you may have the start of an anthology of short stories with the story about diabetes. The Lifeline series that was popular in the 70’s and 80’s had quite a few shorter stories that tackled real-life issues such as chronic illnesses in young people. Powerful stories.

Writing is obviously a very complex issue, whether on a conscious or subconscious level. What advice do you with someone had given you before you started writing in earnest?

I think I wish someone told me that it is okay to make mistakes. You should try your best and not be timid. Be proud of what you do. You’ll make mistakes, but you learn from them and become a better author because of them.

What are some of your earlier mistakes that you think have taught you the most?

I made another author really angry at me. It wasn’t just any author either, it was the person I looked up to the most at the time. She basically told me, after first talking to me, that she hated me because of something I posted on my blog, even after I told her that she was the person I looked up to most. It hurt really badly and I cried for a week. She even threatened to destroy my career, but I just did what I could to repair things and it didn’t destroy me or my career. I got through it and it taught me that I can get through any rejection or any negative thing that is thrown at me.

If she had tried, it probably would have reflected more on her than on you.

What would you say to people sitting there with stories in their heads that they’re afraid to start writing?

I’d say that this fear comes from a fear of being vulnerable, of opening up your heart and throwing your innermost thoughts onto the page and people actually reading it. We’re afraid of being vulnerable because we want to protect ourselves from rejection and pain. But if you always try to protect yourself, then you can’t have any good things. You have to be vulnerable to have friendships or romantic relationships, too. You can’t do great things unless you are willing to risk your heart. You’re stronger than you think and rejection doesn’t hurt as bad as you think it does. Just take it one step at a time. Write the first word, the first page, and worry about all the rest of the things later, when it’s time to worry about them. Just focus on the bit you can do right now.

That is probably the best advice I’ve read for new authors.

And so, with that piece of excellent advice, I’d like to thank you very much for your time.

…….

More information about E.B. Black can be found at the following:

E.B. Black on Facebook
Choose Your Own Romance
E.B. Black on Twitter
Death Author, The Blog
E.B. Black’s website

Overlooked reasons to be thankful

Something perhaps unusual that I’m thankful for today is actually a someone. Mr. Rogers. Obviously I’m not a perfect parent, and sometimes I have to be stern with my precious, but for the most part, I try to emulate Mr. Rogers. He never talked down to us, or treated us like we were stupid. He didn’t shy away from heavy topics that many parents would tell their kids they’d talk about “when they’re older.” He found a way to talk about the hard things in a way kids understood, and he made sure to teach kids to be accepting of those different than themselves. He got on our level and as patient and gentle and remembered were were complete people with our likes and dislikes and our hopes and fears and our happinesses and angers and sadnesses, even when we were just little children, and he talked us through how to deal with the fears and the angers and thins we didn’t like, without making us feel invalidated for feeling that way. He encouraged our happy things, and taught us that we had some power to change things we didn’t like into what we did like, while emphasizing that we were fine just the way we were, flaws and all.

That’s some of what he did for us, and it’s what I try to do for my child.

What are some things you are grateful for that are often overlooked on Thanksgiving?

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Getting back on track

All right, folks.  Like the rest of the US and much of the world, I was distracted by the elections (I desperately want to know what Hillary promised Wall Street to win their support, and Trump…I hope he’s ready to make the least amount of money in his life).

On Saturday, the rest of the next Grey recap will be posted, though, as planned, little is likely to be posted next week as my daughter’s birthday is a week from Saturday, which will be a princess ball.  I’m DIYing it to the hilt.

Since I am behind on the author interviews, I’m going to see if any of my authors have the time to do an interview soon so I can post either this Sunday or the next.

In the coming couple weeks, I will be finishing a post on the hypocrisy of sharing Melania Trump’s old nudes in an attempt to shame her by people claiming to be feminists, and an upsetting realization I just had about Twilight that I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere.

But tonight?  I’m off to finish pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I already have a brief post scheduled.  Think about what makes you thankful, and please join me tomorrow in sharing some of the things you’re grateful for.

Trump’s America is OUR America

I can’t believe I’m writing on politics.  But it involves a lot of rights that are important to me, and to why I started writing.

I’m against both Hillary and Trump, which I think everyone knows. However, we ARE going to be better off for Trump. Hear me out before deciding to make me a pariah because I think you’ll agree with this (unless you’re a Trump-supporter, that is):

We’ve had a gradual backslide in rights. States have had TRAP laws that have been making choice obsolete in many states. Some states are allowing LGBT discrimination under “religious freedom.” Women are under attack as rapists are getting off with next to no jail time, or literally no jail time. And so on. And as these things have happened slowly, we’ve gotten used to them. Indiana letting discrimination against gay people happen doesn’t affect a gay person in California right now, and so it’s easier to overlook. A raped and pregnant teen in Mississippi doesn’t affect me here, making it easier to overlook happening. We’re frogs in slowly boiling water, and this has been happening under a Democratic president. It’s all picked up steam under a Democratic president. So it’ll take more than a Democrat in office to stop.

Trump has taken us out of that comfortable and gently simmering water and thrown us right into boiling water, making it so we can no longer ignore what’s happening. If Hillary had won, we wouldn’t be talking today about how incredibly fucked up this country is. People would be celebrating a woman, any woman, in office, instead of realizing that violence against women is extremely common and needs to stop, that racial violence is extremely common and needs to stop, that violence and discrimination against the most basic of LGBT rights is extremely common and needs to stop. A few days ago, people were bitching about Obamacare, and now everyone’s now realizing that Obamacare helped people and so, so many are now worried about what losing it will mean for the masses.

Thanks to Trump’s win, America is being forced to face our many, many problems with bigotry and human rights violations that we were otherwise quietly accepting as we acclimated to them. Trump’s win is the slap to the face that America needed to wake the fuck up and start doing something.

As Michelle Obama said, “Don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth.”

Half right. This is the greatest America’s been to date, but we still have problems every single day of people fighting for basic rights and recognition. We’re made some strides, but have also taken quite a few steps back. We are the ONLY first-world nation that doesn’t see medical care as a human right. Almost all third-world nations see PAID maternity leave as human rights. We’re behind Cuba, Iraq, and Iran India even sees food as a human right. We’ve been whipped when it comes to LGBT rights. Our students are falling further behind as their basic needs are privileges that are seen as rights in many other places. A decade ago, a woman pregnant in an abusive relationship could have had an abortion in the first few months, but now is chained to her abuser in many states as rapists still have rights to the kids conceived through their crimes, which, even if convicted, rarely get jail time.

We are not the greatest country on earth, and Trump’s election is forcing us to look at our problems before it’s too late to put breaks on and back up. This was going to happen sooner or later. Hopefully now that we have to deal with it head-on, we can turn the wheel and veer onto a different path.

We can no longer distracted from the ongoing and growing problems in this country anymore. Hillary winning would be like Dug seeing a squirrel in Up. We’d look that way while not seeing what’s happening behind us. Trump is a spotlight on what’s wrong, and now we can deal with it. There’s no longer an excuse to ignore it. Hillary would be a baby’s pacifier. Some would say progress is being made because a woman’s in office even though Obama in office didn’t exactly mean progress was made on race relations. It’s gotten worse for black people, and racists pointed to Obama as “proof” that things have gotten better. Yeah, tell that to Tamir Rice’s mother as she stares in disbelief at a bill she got for her son’s murder expenses.

The pacifier’s yanked. The wool’s gone. America is now seeing itself for what it is, and we now have a chance to start fixing things. I’m not glad that this is what America’s become, and Trump winning does hurt. But Trump’s win hurts because it means a look in the mirror, and America doesn’t like what it sees. The problem isn’t Trump. The problem is America itself. We’re just blaming the person holding the mirror.  Trump is merely a representation of where America as slid back to while we were too busy ignoring our own decline and increasing apathy.

Maybe American CAN become GREAT, not because of Trump, but in spite of him.  This disaster has pulled the wool off of our eyes. We can no longer claim to not see the problems. America’s quiet acceptance of bigotry and discrimination that hadn’t personally affected our own individual lives to a noticeable degree helped cause this by telling bigots that no one will stop them. Well, this is the bed America made. Are we going to lie in it, or are we going to get the fuck up and do something to affect positive social, economic, and personal change now that the kindling under our collective asses has been lit?

Final Election Thoughts: What’s 9/11 got to do with it?

The last couple weeks have been full of bad happenings, from cancer announcements among my friends and family to multiple cancers striking the same person, to everything under the sun, it seems.  It distracted me from my regularly-scheduled postings, and yesterday, Tuesday, November 8, 2016, was set aside as a day for me to try to ignore the world, primarily the election coverage.

Allow me a moment to say something that will surely result in a few people accusing me of being a 9/11-conspiracy-theorist (no, Bush didn’t cause it), and allow me a thousand words to retrace my own political path the last year.

Now it’s no secret that I support neither Trump nor Clinton.  I voted for Jill Stein in a state where Hillary had a guaranteed win, after being a Bernie-supporter.  Last fall, I was actually in Camp Hillary, and thought we couldn’t lose with either Hillary or Bernie.  Yay!  Win-win!  As long as the republicans  gave us a weak candidate, how could someone on the blue side lose?

Slowly information about Hillary was leaked, and I became angry with what came to light.  Unlike many, I didn’t blame her for Benghazi, and I still don’t.  I started to look at the timeline of events, such as when she finally decided to side with LGBT right, especially in relation to other Democrats, and I noticed that she came on board the equality train only at the very end, when it was no longer prudent to claim liberalism while being openly against equal rights, and since she had further political aspirations, the timing was suspect.  It never sat well with me that her husband abused his power to get an intern to have an affair with him, not any of the other claims by victims (yes, I’m not saying convictions, but Bill Cosby has no convictions, yet no one treats him as if he’s innocent).  Smaller issues snowballed, and I came to see her as a traitor to my sex, and not truly liberal. I’m still extremely uncomfortable with her promises to Wall Street that she wouldn’t share, and with the pages o her own website calling for more war overseas and to increase volunteering in place of paid jobs, among other issues I have with her that’s neither here nor there at this point.

When Donald Trump entered the scene, he was a joke, the male version of Sarah Palin, worse than Sarah Palin, who was such a joke that she may be the reason John McCain lost against Obama in 2008.  Trump should have been a non-entity.  He was a joke that people took seriously because America loves reality TV too much and thinks it ends up okay in the end as long as the cameras tell us who Farrah Abraham is having anal sex with that week, or the state of Mama June’s weight.

Surely no one would take Trump seriously.  After all, he was acting the part of Hitler’s protégé, and everyone should know that running America as a business is wrong.  After all, look at how much WalMart, a big business, benefits the worker.  (Answer: It pays poverty wages.)  But then other Republican-potentials dropped out.  As a surprise to us all, Trump alone was left, becoming the default candidate.

I ended up firmly in Camp Bernie and proudly declared myself a Berner.  In light of all that had been revealed, Bernie was a candidate I believed in, independent of my feelings about the other two.

During the primaries, it became clear that Hillary was divisive, and that she would not be able to unite a split political party.  Bernie could, but Hillary could not.  Bernie ran a squeaky clean campaign, and still information on Hillary came out, and, despite her unclean campaign, her crew turned up pretty much no dirt on Bernie  That spoke volumes.  There was no reason Hillary’s supporters wouldn’t support Bernie, but many reasons Bernie’s supporters wouldn’t support Hillary.  We had a clear path to a Democrat victory in Bernie, but Hillary was going to be an uphill battle that would lose.

Trump was a gift of sorts.  To win, all the DNC had to do was to give us the candidate who would unite the Democrats.  That’s all.  Bernie in that seat would sail us away to a hands-down victory.  The Republicans who saw Trump as a joke would flock to Bernie, all the Dems would apply super glue and stick tighter, and we’d all celebrate yesterday as the day we had a president-elect we liked and who would do good and be honorable and diplomatic and let the good times ROLL!

Sure, that’s an ideal version, but that’s the gist.  We had an easy path!

But shenanigans happened.  Most visibly, in Arizona, polling stations in poorer areas more likely to have Bernie-supporters were closed down, making it more difficult to get to the polling stations still open, mostly in areas with Hillary-supporters.  In a surprise to no one, Hillary won, and that was when it became clear that the system was rigged.  It was even before that, but the lack of investigation or action into this was stunning and painful.  The system was rigged, and it was like the DNC actively wanted us to lose to Trump.  Fear thrived, and America’s younger voters were shut out in favor of listening to older people who supposedly knew better what America needs.  In fear of Trump, they silenced millions upon millions, and shut out the man who filed stadiums and coliseums on a day’s notice in favor of the candidate who struggled to fill high school gyms.

Issue after issue came up.  Pain workers spreading lies about Bernie online.  Shills.  Plants.  More voting issues.  Super-delegates that can overrule people.  More division happened.  And then, finally, Bernie was out after a convention with even more issues, most-mentioned being a roll call in his favor that was tossed in favor of a new one, unannounced, when many of his supporters weren’t present.  That convention, by the way, barred its newly-ousted chairperson, Debbie Wasserman Shultz, when it became factually known that she was in Camp Hillary, which explained a lot that had happened.

At the end of the day, we had Hillary and Trump, and the DNC believed that fear would push everyone away from Trump.

Now neither of them is great.  Hillary’s posted about wanting more wars, and to increase volunteer positions over paid jobs (those are both on her own website), and Trump is a joke who thinks he can build a wall after shaking down Mexico for milk money.  Neither has much to recommend them either than “at least this one isn’t that one.”  But it was too late.  Both candidates struck fear into people, and many voters began to decide their votes out of fear.  I nearly did the same.  It felt like a nation-wide Punk’d, or like we were all part of a new Truman Show, only with real-world consequences.

The rallying call because “Defeat the other person!” “Danger!”  “DEFEAT!”  At no point with what’s best for America boil down to anything other than defeating the other person.  Even during the primaries, it was all about defeat because you’ll be hurt.  Fear the other.  The time to have avoided these disastrous choices was during the primary, long before the conventions.  We ALL should have ignored our fears for a moment and looked honestly at the merits of the candidates, good as well as bad.  I had no doubt the primaries would have given us different candidates if we weren’t in the mindset of war on the other side and how to defeat the other side.  We cut off our noses to spite our faces by only looking at it as who could be the bigger bully instead of who could be diplomatic and get things done peacefully.

Then the election happened, and as Berners said would happen, Hillary divided the party so bad that even Republican defectors weren’t enough to keep Trump out of office.  And say what you will about how awful it is that Trump won.  Just keep in mind that if she had won, we’d be bracing for more wars.  We lost in the primaries.  We collectively ended in a no-win situation by acting out of fear from the early days, and calling those looking for a spot of brightness in Bernie names ranging from stupid idealists to idiots who don’t know how the world works, even accusing us of not caring if people die.  I bet things look pretty different right now.

Before the election was even officially called, voters began slinging mud, blaming third-party voters (almost all who are in states either where Hillary won anyway, or where all the third-party votes could go to her, and it wouldn’t have made a difference), or voters of the other person.  Non-voters, at least this time, have been absolved of the usual blame for who lost.

Soon I began to connect the dots on something.  Many people who voted for one candidate over the other didn’t do so because they supported the candidate.  I know people who voted for Trump, but only a few of them are happy about the result.  None of them, that I know of at least, regret their votes, but most aren’t happy.  They picked the lesser of two evils instead of looking for a candidate they believed in.  It was because they feared Hillary, just as many of her voters voted our of fear of Trump instead of out of support for her.  In a typical year, voters go to the polls thinking about who they think will do better for America.  But this year, so many people were voting based on who they were more scared of and who they thought could defeat that person, without looking at the long-term ramifications, and it started in the primaries when Hillary’s supporters cried against anything being done about the obvious vote-rigging going on.

You could say the result would be the same whether people looked mostly at their fear instead of who they thought would better serve this country, but it’s not.  If people weren’t so scared, they may have been more inclined to give all of the candidates, from Hillary and Trump, on down to Alyson Kennedy, a fair look.  They would have been willing to look at the candidates in the primaries based on individual merit, and Bernie probably would have had a runaway victory and we’d probably have Cruz, or at least definitely anyone who isn’t Trump.  Since it was too late come the convention, who knows what would have happened if people had stopped voting based on fear.  Maybe not a tremendous number of votes would have changed since we did have a couple incredibly unlikable candidates, or maybe they would have changed.  Who knows.

I do know that we wouldn’t have the newly-coined “protest vote,” which is supposed to mean a vote cast because you don’t like someone else (“I don’t like Hillary, so will vote for Trump because at least he’s not Hillary”), which applied to enough votes that it was re-applied to all third-party votes instead, regardless of reason for voting third party (I voted for Jill Stein because her views most closely align with mine).  I also know we wouldn’t have this conflicting idea of what’s called “voting your conscience” going on while also being told that doing just that is a “protest vote” (“If you want to vote for Jill, and feel it’s right, then ‘vote you conscience’ and do it, but if you do, you’re casting a ‘protest vote’ and are doing it wrong, but make sure you vote even though you’ll be wrong, m’kay?”).

All of is hinged on fear.  And when did America become a nation so full of cowards?  When did begin to let fear be what rules us more than anything?  It hit me when I was doing the dishes at about 1am.

We have been conditioned, since 9/11, to act based on fear.  No longer are parents supposed to worry only about hypodermics in Halloween candy and otherwise let kids enjoy childhood.  Oh, no.  Now we can’t wear shoes through the checkpoint at the airport because what if someone wants to kill us?   Our kids are learning that.  We can’t expect privacy for our phone calls because what if the brown-skinned person up the road is talking to someone five degrees separated from a potential terrorist?  We are expected to pass through various securities on an almost daily basis because what if someone wants to kill us?  That seemed to make it okay to teach us to act based on fear because what if someone wants to crash the plane my husband will be on tomorrow?  What if he’s somewhere in London that gets bombed Thursday?  What if?

You can even see this in school shooting (which I admit is my biggest fear).  Columbine happened prior to 9/11, and the reaction was that the survivors were going to rise above the actions and, even though traumatized, strive to live lives not dictated by fear.  But since 9/11, the reaction has been to heap fear on top of more fear.

We’ve reached a point where our society has become too militarized, and we’re no safer for it.  We’ve been told that any arguing against giving up further freedoms or wanting privacy means we must not care about safety.  Almost everything in our lives is supposed to cause fear now.  We’re  been crippled by fear.  We no longer look for the good.  We don’t look at how many planes fly safely for every one that goes down.  We don’t look at how few people in this world will be killed in terror attacks, or be there when one happens.  The mass media and irresponsible reporting makes us feel we are all personal victims of every attack, which keeps us hanging on to the media for more information on what’s going to kill us the next time we look out our front doors.

Fear is the easiest way to control people, and that really got a foothold in 9/11.  Remember when the PATRIOT Act was so hotly contested? If you wanted to be safe, then what have you got to hide form the feds?   Why not let them spy on you if you have nothing to hide? It’s all for safety, and you don’t want to die, do you?  If you want your children to survive, then stop protesting all the checkpoints being set up, stop fighting against the concept of privacy, give the government access to  your home, your body, even your mind, because you’re going to get hurt otherwise.  FEAR resulted in us allowing it to happen, and it’s snowballed to the point that we’ve hit a critical mass on fear.

And even post-election, it’s still all about fear, and will continue to be about fear for a while because we’ve been conditioned to let fear lead our lives over our brains.  It’s okay to consider what scares us.  Than can keep us safe.  But when we let fear guide our every step, we walk into situations like this.  This is how terrorism wins.  Using planes as bombs starts it.  From there, the terrorists just needed to sit back and watch the country destroy itself.

Can America break free from this habit of letting fear be our god that we collectively do not question?  We lost the chance several months ago when so many blindly accepted the DNC’s corruption out of fear for Trump and an unwillingness to see the fear Hillary could cause.  The bigger fear-causer was all they saw.  Fear, the bigger fear.  It’s too late now to change what’s happened this time.

But in the future, can we stop thinking with our fear and start thinking with our heads?  Give situations a pragmatic, rational look, and stop insulting those who do just that?  Can we stop insulting people like this spring and summer’s Berners who were telling the world what was going to happen (and did come to pass) because fear was prioritized over critical thinking?  Can we grow up already?  If we expect our kids to push through their fears to see the fun in riding a bike and to at least consider doing something that might be scary, then we adults should do the same.  Sometimes the fear is at least partly in our heads, and breaking through that bogart can show us that there’s nothing too bad on the other side.

It’s too late for January 2017.  We’ve lost there.  But we’ll have four years to practice not being governed by fear, four years to learn to be complete people who also have joy, and anger, and disgust, and sadness in there, and to learn how to think using a broader range of emotions and thoughts, and then we’ll get to try again.  Can we do this?

inside-out-cast

Interview with an Author: Kevin Cunningham

Almost four years ago, To Hell With Fate author, and long-time friend of mine, Kevin Cunningham privileged me with an interview, and he graciously agreed again to be interviewed on his new writing ventures that knot together an original idea he’s been working on since then, and a new television show that has many surprising similarities (though neither knew about the other).

kevin-j-cunningham

Just for fun, I’ll share a bit of pre-interview banter.  My words are bold, Kevin’s are not, and aside from inserted links and images, this is copy and pasted directly from our interview conducted via messaging:

October 22, 2016

I’m around, whenever you’re ready. I’m indulging a little Wiki editing on Westworld.

You there?

Nope. 😛

Well, let me know when you are. 😉

Wait…

Wait………

……..

Okay, now!

(Is this going to be included on the interview? LOL)


LOL, it is now!

Alright!

First off, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed again! The last time was three and a half years ago.

Damn, it’s been that long? I need to get my publicist on that, making sure I stay in the public eye!

But seriously, thanks for having me. I love talking with you!

I wish you were right here. I’dd offer some rum while talking!

February 2013! Just a few more months and it’ll be almost four. You certainly should be in the public eye more.

In that time, you developed an idea that ended up being the pot of a new television show, though they didn’t know about your book, and you couldn’t have known about the show. In fact, you may have had the initial concept before Fox did. Would you mind telling us a bit about that?

Sure. The story is about a girl attempting to become the first female major leaguer. Much like the TV show “Pitch”, the main character is a pitcher, but one key difference between the stories I’m writing and the show is that the story I’m writing follows the girl’s journey through the minors; in the TV show, the show starts with her Major League debut.

I hope that that difference is what will help my story stand apart from the show. I almost feel like her major league debut is more of the ending, or at least close to the ending. The minor leagues in baseball, where players develop, is years of toiling in a very different environment that what we fans usually see in the Majors. It’s truly where friendships and camaraderie are forged. In terms of journey, this is truly where the start of Christina’s confrontation with the men of baseball will begin, and where the overcoming of stereotypes and triumphs (and failures) will be much more personal.

My series, which will have the overarching title The Art of Throwing Overhand is planned currently as a five book series, which my publisher thinks is insane, and perhaps I am. But I am nothing if not ambitious.

You bring up a fantastic point about how the minors is where players develop more, and that is a very important distinction from the majors. I grew up going to a lot of Modesto A’s games (minors), as well as dozens of Oakland A’s games (majors) a year. The play on the field is different, and so is the feeling in the stands. Do you think you will have any comparisons to the majors in your series, and are you concerned that “Pitch” could influence your storyline choices?

Well, the minors have become a passion of mine. I spent nearly a decade covering the SF Giants minor league system for a website I eventually took control of (sfdugout.com), and more recently have once again begun covering the Giants for McCoveyChronicles.com. That’s been fantastic for me personally, as I do love the development of the game. And you’re right, the minors are a very different style of play, as well as a very different environment for fans. In popular culture, it was probably best represented by the film “Bull Durham”, but generally hasn’t been well hit upon in well-known stories since.

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Click to read full-size.

In the stories I’m writing, there will be small ones at first, but to most of the characters, it will be a distant dream…almost so distant, it’s as much a point of resentment as it is hope. The comparisons will be much sharper in the final two books I have planned, where the Majors are much closer to the main characters. But that is absolutely a big part of the story, because above almost everything else, it is a story about baseball, and why people love baseball. All people, including women.

As for Pitch influencing my storylines, I won’t lie that I was concerned about it. But as I saw more of the previews, what I really saw were the differences between what I had very much plotted out, and what they were doing. There may be similar themes that are touched upon, as would be unavoidable, but I was happy to see a lot of distinctions as well.

That said, there were a couple of things I have changed a little because they would be too close. I think that kind of way that the show affects my story will be more prominent.

I’m a little upset about the naming, though. Their show is called Pitch. The series of books, each book has a name taken from a type of Pitch (until the end). Book 1 – The Curve; Book 2 – The Change; Book 3 – The Heat; Book 4 – The Slide…and the last book name I’m keeping hidden. I thought hard about changing those, but I want to keep them.

We’ll see what my publisher says, though.

I really admire your decision to show that sports are for women too. Women are often left out of professional sports, to the point that even being a fan of baseball, football, or any other sport is seen as something “for the boys,” and women are so often treated as clueless about sports, no matter how much of fans we may be. As for playing? That’s still seen as strange. Manon Rhéaume, the first woman who played professional hockey, as been somewhat swept under the rug.

Those titles are clever. They show an evolution of a player.

What inspired you to go a route that has been so overlooked, and that is risky in its own right?

I’m really proud of the titles, because they have double (and sometimes triple) meanings, both for the pitches and the events in the stories. That’s why I can’t ditch them.

To be honest, I came upon my character, Christina Covington, accidentally. I’ve always thought baseball would be a sport that could be gender integrated, and I’ve debated people on it. Even in some video games, like an old neo-geo futuristic baseball game, it would feature co-ed teams. But I hadn’t really thought about writing that story until NBC ran a stupid little contest.

The reasons against integrating are getting harder and harder to defend.

How did you find Christina, and what contest?

Basically, NBC did a contest where they solicited people to come up with their own pilots, with the reward being the opportunity to shoot a pilot. Basically, they had run out of ideas.

After years of covering the minors, I’d always thought a minor league team as a great concept for a show. Multiple characters, a storyline with an end (who makes it?), and room for comedy. The dugout bench taking the spot of a coffee-house couch, and you’ve got a fun show. But, as I was thinking of the idea, I knew that the show would be tough to showcase female characters. They’d be relegated to girlfriends/wives, and maybe front office people, but all side characters. Some shows have done okay with that, like Friday Night Lights, but it left me uncomfortable.

That’s how Christina came to mind. She was the female player trying to make it. I initially struggled with the idea, because if I did that, the show would HAVE to be about her, because of course it would. And that’s not a sitcom, generally, by the genre. The guy I was planning to put together a pitch with (haha) fell apart, but Christina’s character was still in my mind. How would she be handled? What would teams do to work with her? The possibilities were fascinating and intriguing.

More and more, I found out more about her. And that’s the way it was. There weren’t a lot of conscious decisions about her personality, nor her history. About her storyline in the books, sure, but the girl in my mind that first day has been pretty much unchanged. It’ll be difficult when the questions come about why I “chose” to make her of mixed race…I didn’t. She just had a Japanese mother and an American father, and that was how she always appeared to me.

The fact I couldn’t get her out of my mind led me to want to write her story, not as a sitcom or comedy, but a very real treatise on her, and sports, and the culture around her. It’s only proven more timely as I’ve started writing.

I’ve gotten to the point I even had her nightmare one night. Not as in, I dreamed up what her nightmare would be. I experienced her nightmare, as her. I hadn’t even been planning to write one in there…but now I can’t not include it.

This sounds more and more intriguing,and I must pause to ask if there’s any estimated potential release dates for these books.

I want to say next Spring, but I’d have to kick some real ass to get this done right. And I don’t want to put it out unless it’s right. If I do finish it, though, you’ll be the first to know.

I’m more excited than usual to read a book that isn’t yet available! And yes, better to do it right. There is only one chance, especially when burning such a new trail.

Do you anticipate any pushback for being a man writing a book about a woman’s experience in baseball, which must surely address sexism and preconceived notions many baseball fans have about what they believe baseball is “supposed to” be rabid adherence to outdated baseball traditions?

To be honest, my fears about comments received back at me is one thing that slowed me on this project. Over the past couple of years, one of the common topics I see is about “Appropriation” and “Whites taking advantage of minorities works” and many racial and gender-based discussions about that, and those are extremely valid topics that need to be talked about and recognized. I am a straight, white male and I know I’ve gotten benefits just from being that way. I try to be as sensitive as possible, but I know that there are things I can’t know about those struggles.

But at the same time as perhaps not being qualified in those areas, my time spent writing about baseball is something I think that gives myself a qualification to write this story. I’ve had to convince myself of that. And if I’m not able to experience the struggles Christina herself would go through, what I can bring forth are the real reactions of those she will come into conflict with. And I’ve done my best to put myself in her shoes, and think about what I would do. I felt vindicated that one particular method in which I’d deal with a possible subject that only a woman would go through was actually done, almost to the letter, by Ronda Rousey earlier this year.

I know that between writing a female main character, and one of mixed race, I may upset some people. That’s likely unavoidable. But I am working with friends and professionals to try and address those perspectives as realistically as possible. I am lucky enough to have a very diverse group of friends, from potential Olympians to many different races, and they’ve been very gracious to be honest with me about this story and giving me feedback on things I don’t get quite right.

bear cubs

(Giants fans love the Cubs right now…)

As far as the men who want to follow baseball’s traditions…to be honest, I don’t give them a second thought. Because they’re the ones who need to be challenged…and if they aren’t pissed off, or feeling threatened, or the kind of thing that prompts negative reactions…then I probably haven’t written it right. And I’ve been a Giants fan alone at Dodger Stadium, and an Oakland Raiders fan, so not much scares me on that front.

You’ve hit on a topic that I’d like to interview you more about at a later time, if you’d be so inclined. As you are someone who is making an actual attempt to tackle issues in a way no one else has, as you get further in the process of finishing the first book in this series, would you allow me the opportunity to pick you thoughts about appropriation, perceived appropriation, and attempts at increasing diversity in literature?

I would be happy to, though that is definitely a topic I’d hope could be addressed from many viewpoints.

An ideal situation would be a round table discussion. I’ll get to work on getting that set up.

Hopping back in time a bit, To Hell with Fate has been out a while now. The story is To Hell With Fate.jpgsomewhat light in comparison to The Art of Throwing Overhand. In the time between writing To Hell with Fate, and now, how do you feel your writing style has changed, if at all?

Honestly, I feel it hasn’t changed enough, and that’s prompted some of my slowdown. To Hell With Fate was a story that played out over a couple of days (and kind of a couple of years), but it allowed me to write some of the minutiae of the characters’ actions. I tried to take that approach, and soon I found myself 150 pages into my story and no baseball.

One of my biggest challenges has been to try and write the broad strokes. In some ways, that’s both easy and hard with baseball. A baseball game is like a series of Russian Nesting Dolls posing as stories. Every at-bat is a story in of itself, with each pitch setting up the next. Every innings is its own story, contained within those at-bats. Every game has a story. The games fit into the stories of the season. And of course, the seasons are just part of the story of a player’s career, or a team’s history.

Stepping back and looking at things from a longer perspective has definitely been one of my challenges in this story, and changing my writing style. That said, I wrote three pages just on one pitch Christina threw, and I may keep it in there because I love it.

Which probably means I’ll have to cut it.

Perhaps it could serve as something of a teaser at some point. Baseball is so much more of a mind game than casual viewers usually realize.

In what ways to you relate to your protagonists in both To Hell with Fate and in The Art of Throwing Overhand?

To Hell With Fate was a very personal book to me. It’s fiction, but yet it was inspired by some very real emotions I felt and went through growing up. It’s funny, the character I always saw as the protagonist in To Hell With Fate is not the one that others saw…but then, I thought it was the one closest to who I am, where as others saw the girls I used (in my mind) as a Greek Chrous as the main characters.

And Christina?

In some ways, Christina (from The Art of Throwing Overhand) shares some characteristics of both of the girls who get a lot of time in To Hell With Fate. Christina does not start as a loud, outspoken character. She has to be pushed to get there, like Jessie from To Hell With Fate. And yet, there’s a frustration bubbling underneath her surface. She’s not perfect, and that’s something that others need to adjust to. The longer the book goes, she become more like Samantha from To Hell With Fate. She finds her voice, and suddenly that frustration inside her doesn’t have a filter.

Christina’s journey is to balance those two halves. In that end, it’s a little like both Sam and Jessie’s arcs in To Hell With Fate, but in a much broader scope, and underneath a much bigger microscope. That lens of fame gives what Christina goes through a much different context.

In what ways do you find it hard to relate to these three characters, and how do you overcome those challenges in writing?

You know, I don’t find it as challenging as some think. Jay, my editor, once told me that I write children so well. But Sam and Jessie just came out as honest, curious and/or bitter versions of who I feel I am. It took more bravery to just let that younger side of myself talk to write them.

Christina is harder to relate to: I’ve never been the athlete. What I’ve always been, however, is the observer of athletes. I’ve been writing about sports nearly nonstop since my Freshman year of high school. That is how I’m dealing with that challenge here. At some points, I’m not writing about what’s going through her mind. I’m writing about how she’s reacting to it. That is how I hope readers will connect with what she’s feeling or doing.

This is such an ambitious undertaking. What advice do you have for other writers who may have similar ideas in their own heads, but who may be too intimidated to take the plunge?

I feel almost unfair giving advice until I overcome the intimidation I feel every day. But if there’s anything I can say, find someone you trust to talk to about it, and get their feedback. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with them. I’ve been lucky, both among my friends and people on Twitter who have been incredibly supportive and have encouraged me to continue, even when I feel almost ready to to give up on myself. Peer support is so important.

It’s helping you push onward, which is just what writers need sometimes. Just that push.

Thank you very, very much for your time, and I can’t wait until The Curve comes out.

Thank you Alys. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, and really, thank you for all the support you’ve given me through this book and To Hell With Fate. I hope I can meet your expectations, and thrill everyone else!

…….

More information about Kevin Cunningham can be found at the following:

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The Lunatic Fringe

Chapter 15: Monday, May 30, 2011, PART 2

There’s no way to candy-coat what happens in this chapter. It’s not even as bad as it’ll get in this book, and this book is mild compared to the third book in the original trilogy. You know, the book where he’s “all better.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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And the rest of this chapter…oh, deities….

(Directory of recap links)

Grey gets his sorry ass out of the shower and heads to the kitchen where Ana and Mrs. J. are talking, and even though Ana’s not hungry, like a lot of people who don’t care to eat in the morning, he decides she’s GOING TO eat. Well. Geez. As someone dealing with an eating disorder every damned day, if someone ordered me to eat, I’d probably throw up.

An unsettling theme in the books through Ana’s eyes is how little she eats, and how much others constantly tell her she needs to. Frankly, there are red flags that Ana could potentially have an eating disorder. Honestly, I couldn’t blame her if she were to develop one at this point, if she didn’t already. It’s the little control she has, but Grey’s taking even that away from her.

Grey starts grilling Ana on whether or not she bought her ticket yet.

“Do you have the money?”

“Yes,” she says, as if I’m five years old, and she tosses her hair over her shoulder, flattening her lips, peeved, I think.

I arch an eyebrow in censure. I could always spank you again, sweetheart.

“Yes, I do, thank you,” she says quickly, in a more subdued tone.

That’s better.

I’m not at all sure what she’s saying “thank you” to. He didn’t make an offer of any sort. A “Sir” there would make more sense. I’m as confused as Ana was when she thought his play room would be where he kept his X-box right after they talked sex.

He does end up offering her a company jet, which she turns down.

Surely most women would jump at the opportunity of taking a private jet, but it seems material wealth really doesn’t impress this girl—or she doesn’t like to feel indebted to me. I’m not sure which. Either way, she’s a stubborn creature.

You think, you asshole? Of course she doesn’t ant to feel indebted to you when you’re already of the mind that you own her body.

Spoiler alert: It’s CANON that she’s taking this trip to get away from him. CANON. Ana actually says so.

Since she won’t take his jet, he tries to get out of her where she’s applying for a job, and she won’t tell.

“I’m a man of means, Miss Steele.”

“I’m fully aware of that, Mr. Grey. Are you going to track my phone?”

Score one for Ana. Score an express bus pass to hell for Grey.

He calls this “banter” and her being “sassy.” This is “refreshing and fun” to him. No. It’s her literally wanting to get away from him.

Food’s served, and she eats. Like she has a choice? Ana wants to know again why he doesn’t like to be touched, and again, this is a fair question. She wants to get to know him, WHICH IS FAIR. He gets pissy and decides to demand to know if she’ll miss him when she’s gone. There’s only one answer to safely give to that, and she gives it.

Once she’s finished eating, she tells him she needs to leave, and he pressures her to spend her day with him.

“I have to prep for my interviews. And get changed.” She eyes me warily.

When you notice she’s wary, drop it.

And for once, he does. And off she goes to get ready to leave, and he tells her to remember her Blackberry, Mac, and chargers. And once again I laugh because this book is dated by the Blackberry references. Because Blackberry is no more. Bwahaha! A little writing tip: Don’t mention tech by name unless you want to date a book. Despite the dates on these chapters, I don’t think Madame James meant to date these books. She padded the Fifty Shades books with headers on literally every single email, and inadvertently dated them.

Also when you only have one computer, I don’t think you need to mention the brand. I’m an iPhone-user who is impatiently awaiting the arrival of my 7 (first time I haven’t had a new phone on the day of release because I am THAT kind of fan), and I have two Macbooks Pros, and I just call then my phone and my big computer and small computer. If my husband asks if my phone is charged, he doesn’t have to specify brand because that’s a given.

But while we’re on Mac products (you’re going to want a little diversion before some stuff coming up soon makes your head explode if your heart doesn’t seize in fear first), here’s a selfie I took with my iPhone 5:

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And here’s a pretty bunch of flowers I got with my iPhone 6:

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I call my stuff iFauxtography. iFeelclever.

Bye-bye, pretty flowers. Time to go back to hell.

Where were we? Oh, yeah, he’s name-dropping gratuitously as he tells her to take the things he can use to track her. Yeah, you could track pretty easily using Mac computers and iPhones in 2011, and still can, if you have the right apps installed. Of course he goes the route that requires committing a crime with the phone.

Ana wants to go to her car alone, and he won’t let her. Nope. Even though she wants to go alone, he wants to make out with her in the elevator. Guess who wins. Yup. She doesn’t want him there, is kissed when she wants to be alone, and fans call this bit of sexual assault romantic.

She manages to escape, finally, and Grey tells Taylor, who has been there all along and not once mentioned, that he wants to go to his office.

I call Welsh from the car.

“Mr. Grey,” he rasps.

“Welch. Anastasia Steele is buying an airline ticket today, leaving Seattle tonight for Savannah. I’d like to know which flight she’s on.”

“Does she have an airline preference?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

I hang up. My cunning plan is falling into place.

No. No, no, NO. I know what he’s going to do. You remember how he admitted she probably didn’t want to be indebted to him? After she told him she’d buy her own ticket? Remember that. He’s not about to respect her. Of course he won’t.

Grey gets to the office, startles Andrea, snarks to us that he does work there (when is he ever there?), and when she asks how he wants his coffee, he tells us…

Good girl.

Oh god. Gross. It’s like he’s seeing his office staff as fair game.

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At least one person approves. (Total aside: Too bad the woman who was handed a gift with those recordings changes the topic instead of standing by women and thoroughly denouncing his behavior.)

Grey opens an email from Elena Lincoln that’s pointless, and gets a cal back from Welsh that no ticket has been bought yet, but that he’ll monitor the airlines. I’m pretty sure that kind of hacking could be considered a terrorism concern.

Some lady named Caroline Acton calls, and rather than telling us she’s the personal shopper he has picked out for his subs (and victims–he has hurt at least one of them badly before Ana, which is canon as well), he just tells her he wants “the usual,” and the colors, and to make sure we know he’s rich, there’s no budget. He tells her that stuff, then says he’ll email the sizes. Strange that that’s what he wouldn’t say aloud.

Welsh calls him back with Ana’s flight info, and it’s important to note that he only got the flight into going to Georgia. Grey immediately orders Andrea to upgrade those flights, and to pay for Ana’s return flight back…which she hadn’t even booked!!! So he decided when she’s coming back! And access to the first class lounges, which is the smallest transgression here. And as a kicker, Grey wants Andrea to buy the seat next to Ana on all flights, ostensibly so no one can be near her. When Andrea looks concerned, Grey tells us it’s none of her business. Um, actually it is since she’s been ordered to change the flight into of someone without their consent. I can’t even change my husband’s flight details if we aren’t flying together.

So he won’t respect her enough to let her be independent, and is isolating her on her flights, and decided for her when she’s coming back.

Next up is some gibberish about business that has no context, making it utterly boring, even to someone like me who actually enjoys reading about mergers and acquisitions.

Who wants a bunch of boring emails padded with headers? Me neither. To sum them all up, Ana wants to know if Mrs. Jones is an ex-sub of his (and he mentally orders Ana to watch her language when she wrote “fucking,” which makes him a hypocrite since he says it plenty).

He tells her no, he wouldn’t work with someone he’s had sex with (though it seems like he’s at least thought about it with Andrea), and if Ana doesn’t clean up her language (now he tells her instead of us), then maybe he won’t hire her.

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So you’re threatening her by saying you’re going to do what she wants anyway. She reiterates that she doesn’t want to work for him, and the irony goes over his head. He’s only annoyed that someone as “bright” as her doesn’t want to work for him. He’s really just annoyed that she’s trying to preserve some agency, but I laughed at the “bright” part.

Frankly, she’s a dim bulb who doesn’t know how to use the internet and hadn’t the lightest clue about sex, and is still shocked by the tiniest things that an reasonably unsheltered teenager would know about. Grey himself had to tell her how to do some basic research that elementary school kids are required to so for essays and such. She’s not bright, and she wouldn’t have graduate the real WSU, especially with a degree that requires using the internet, unless she was on the equivalent of a 504-plan, an IEP, aka a federally-mandated plan that helps special needs students with disabilities finish their education, and I don’t think colleges have those. But in this word, they’d have to since she got out of college without ever using the internet. It just…it doesn’t work that way!!

Now for some page of emails between Grey and Elena. She wants him to meet a girl she mentioned at some point, but that we haven’t heard about before now. He tells her he wants to “let the arrangement [he has] now run its course.” Well. He sounds dedicated….

He moves on to more random business stuff, but says something about a summary of the publishing houses in Seattle. Guess where this is going. Go on. Guess.

Later on that night, he gets another email from Ana.

Dear Mr. Grey,

What really alarms me is how you knew which flight I was on.

Your stalking knows no bounds. Let’s hope that Dr. Flynn is back from vacation.

I have had a manicure, a back massage, and two glasses of champagne—a very nice start to my vacation.

Thank you.

Grey mentally congratulates Andrea on successfully upgrading the flights. Her alarm doesn’t even register with him.

And his stalking is about to get much, much scarier.

The bit of passive-aggressiveness did register, and he wants to know who massaged her back. I guess he forgot that first-class lounges often have that service, and it’s entirely professional.

She tells him a massage-therapist she wouldn’t have met had she been allowed to take the flight she booked herself.

Is she trying to make me jealous? Does she have any idea how mad I can get? She’s been gone for a few hours, and she’s deliberately making me angry. Why does she do this to me?

Which is frightening.

Have another pretty picture I took.

Maybe envision Grey falling over it. This is Multnomah Falls.

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From: Christian Grey
Subject: Enjoy It While You Can
Date: May 30 2011 22:25
To: Anastasia Steele
Dear Miss Steele,
I know what you’re trying to do—and trust me, you’ve succeeded. Next time you’ll be in the cargo hold, bound and gagged in a crate. Believe me when I say that attending to you in that state will give me so much more pleasure than merely upgrading your ticket.
I look forward to your return.
Christian Grey
Palm-Twitching CEO,
Grey Enterprises Holdings, Inc.

There’s not a single part of that that isn’t terrifying. From the ominous subject line to his palm twitching to hit her. I think the body of the message speaks for itself.

This isn’t romance. It’s abuse, and people who fantasize about this guy and get turned on thinking about him need professional help. I’m not saying that lightly.

From: Anastasia Steele
Subject: Joking?
Date: May 30 2011 22:30
To: Christian Grey
You see—I have no idea if you’re joking—and if you’re not, then I think I’ll stay in Georgia. Crates are a hard limit for me. Sorry I made you mad. Tell me you forgive me.

A

Do fans think it bodes well when a woman doesn’t know if her boyfriend/abuser is kidding? Do fans really think that fear won’t affect the decisions she makes? Simply getting a massage has her threatened with being bound and gagged and tossed in a crate, and now she’s asking for forgiveness. SHE IS SCARED!! What the FUCK is wrong with the people who love this?!

Of course I’m joking…sort of.

Rather than being startled that she finds him frightening enough to believe he might really do that to her, he merely tells us that he’s SORT OF joking. That’s no comfort. He’s mad. He hits her when she begs him not to, stalks her enough that she tries to make light of it, won’t respect her at any point in time…of COURSE he’d do that to her!! What happens in the third book makes that heart-breakingly clear.

Rather than console her by telling her he’s joking, he tells her she shouldn’t be on her phone since she should be on a plane (still stalking her location), and that’s endangering her (nope, when I was on a flight that year, the plane had WiFi, and of course first class would have included access), and that he has two twitching palms now. So he wants to hit her twice as much.

Poor little asshole only starts to have anxiety about whether or not she’ll return to his presence so he can fuck her some more. So he starts drinking and playing his piano.

I considered ending this one with pictures of puppies or something, but is anyone reading this are fans, I don’t want them to have the mood lightened. I want it to sink in. I want them to reflect on how they can see this man as romantic or ideal when he’s absolutely horrifying. I want people who defend this book as “just fiction,” fan or not, to think about how they’re defending the actions of an abuser by claiming “it’s not real.”

Well, defending these books and the actions as “just fiction” sends the message to kids and teens that what happens in these books is acceptable. Do you want to claim a part in helping normalize these books? A decade ago, it was better understood that rape and sexual assault were wrong, and now we have convicted rapists getting off because the unconscious victim somehow asked for it because she drank. We have more compassion for rapists (look at the Stanford asshole who had a judge concerned that six months would be too hard on the rapist).

It’s been normalized enough that we have as the top presidential candidates a rapist and someone who ignored her husband’s sexual assaults and is personal friends with the rapist and who won’t denounce him. We have a society where these things are only issues when supporters of either side are trying to tear the other down more. These things were known long ago, and our society looked the other way, and we have millions of people around the world approving of the behavior of one of those candidates by loving and adoring a character almost exactly like him.

Look at this picture and tell me if you can hold up these books and say to that little girl that what is in these books is perfectly fine. Can you tell her that Christian Grey is attractive and that these books are romantic? If Christian Grey is good enough for you, he’s good enough for her, because you deserve just as good of a partner as she deserves to have when she’s older. Can you tell her that Christian Grey is a man who deserves you, who deserves her, who deserves anyone?

Go on. She’s listening.

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