This week’s BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award hits a little too close to home.  The news item first appeared in the November 2008 issue of Locus, which for those of you who don’t know, is the self-described “magazine of the science fiction & fantasy field.”  In their “People and Publishing” section, under “Milestones” comes this little tidbit:

“J.F. Lewis was excommunicated from this church in response to his debut vampire novel Staked.”

I know J.F. Lewis as Jeremy Lewis.  He lives in Birmingham, Alabama, and we frequent many of the same cons in the Southeast.  Jeremy is as nice a guy as you’d ever want to meet, and I imagine that his new book, out from Pocket  Books, is very good.  For more on the circumstances of Jeremy’s excommunication, visit the site of Jackie Kessler, one of my cyber-buddies from SFNovelists.

Obviously a church is free to do whatever it wants, but in this case I think it’s pretty clear that they’ve crossed the line.  According to Jeremy, his church elders believed that “by writing the book, I committed the sins contained within it.”  They demanded that he renounce the book, apologize for writing it, and stop promoting it.  When he refused they kicked him out.

This is so uncool on so many levels I’m not even sure where to begin.  Don’t the church elders understand the meaning of the word “fiction”?  Don’t they understand that having morally flawed characters move beyond their moral failings can actually provide readers with a powerful message?  Don’t they see the dangers inherent in this kind of faith-based censorship?

Apparently the answers are no, no, and no.  So, for their contemptible treatment of fellow author J.F. Lewis, this week’s BOW Award goes to the elders of his church (out of respect for Jeremy and consideration of the church itself, I won’t publish the church’s name here).  Take a BOW there folks; you’ve earned it.  And here’s hoping that your shameful treatment of Jeremy translates into massive sales for Staked.

Lost in the all the post-election posts I wrote, and my efforts to get back to writing (as opposed to checking various polling web sites with disturbingly obsessive regularity) was a bit of personal election night news.  The same day Barack Obama was elected President, I had my name on an election ballot for the first time.  I am now a member of my town’s community council.  I’m an elected official.  My two-year term doesn’t begin until January, and even when it does my responsibilities won’t amount to much.  But still, I do feel some sense of impending responsibility.

I’ve posted before about the many hats I wear in my life:  Author, father, husband, friend, coop-guy, photographer, swim-Dad, soccer-Dad, etc.  More recently I’ve added to the list.  I’m now the 8th grade parents’ council representative to my older daughter’s school.  And, as of November 4th, I’m a member of the Sewanee Community Council.  I have no doubt that I’ll learn a lot about the inner workings of my town — probably more than I want to know.  But it should be interesting.  And who knows where it will lead?  If Chris Matthews can run for the U.S. Senate, what’s to stop me from seeing higher office?  Maybe some day I’ll be on the Board of Education!

The first review is in for THE HORSEMEN’S GAMBIT, Book II of my Blood of the Southlands trilogy, which will be released in January. 

Romantic Times gave it four and a half stars (!) and said:  “Coe manages to take several serious, weighty issues, approach them from distinctly different points of view and make you sympathetic toward characters who sometimes act selfishly or viciously.  He absolutely nails the plot and sequencing.  This book is the best yet in the series.”

Needless to say, I’m pleased.

Today’s post, “The Presentation  of Your Submission,” can be found at http://magicalwords.net.  It begins a week of themed posts at “MagicalWords” that will deal with issues surrounding manuscript submissions, all of them geared toward aspiring writers.  I hope you’ll visit the site and find the posts helpful.

BOW Award

November 23, 2008

This will be a relatively quick BOW (Buffoon Of the Week) Award post, because this week’s nominations are kind of sparse.  Then again, the first one was truly entertaining, though in a kind of sick way….

Did you see this video?  Sarah Palin did the whole pre-Thanksgiving-Executive-pardons-a-turkey thing in Alaska the other day.  The event received national coverage, probably the first time that the turkey pardon by an Alaskan Governor has been national news, but that’s to be expected.  Whatever you may think of the woman, there can be no denying that she’s a phenomenon.   But what was really bizarre and funny in a very dark way came after.  Still at the abattoir, Palin did an interview, answering questions about her work as governor of Alaska, her sons unit in Iraq, and other issues.  And while she was speaking, a man in the background was slaughtering turkeys (although presumably not the one she had just pardoned).  At one point in the video, those who put out the thing had to pixilate the background because it was too graphic.  Palin concluded by talking about how fun this particular outing had been, saying, “…It’s nice to get out and do something to promote a local business and just participate in something that isn’t so heavyhanded politics that it invites criticism.  Certainly we’ll probably invite criticism for even doing this, but at least this was fun.”  She seemed utterly unaware of what was going on behind her.

Like so much else surrounding Palin in recent days, this one really wasn’t her fault.  But doesn’t the woman have staff?  Doesn’t she have people who can control the visuals around her, so that she doesn’t wind up pardoning a turkey and then talking about how much fun it was while other birds are slaughtered in the background?  This is Keystone Kops type stuff, people!  This person wants to be President someday, and her advance people can’t even get a simple photo-op right.  Unbelievable.  And — my apologies to the animal-rights supporters out there — incredibly fun, again in a very sick sort of way.

But this week’s BOW Award winner is the Pastor Mark Holick of Wichita, Kansas, who put up a huge sign outside his church that read, “America we have a Muslim President.  This is sin against the Lord.”  First of all, Obama is not a Muslim.  He’s a Christian.  And no matter how many times right-wing wack-jobs try to propagate this lie, it won’t change the facts.  That said, in what way would electing a Muslim President be a sin against God?  For that matter, would it be a sin against God to elect a Jew or a Hindu or –gasp — an atheist?  Or does this new form of sin only apply to Muslims?  Given the opportunity to back away from his own stupidity, he refused, choosing instead to cling to his claims.  The guy is obviously a religious zealot, not to mention a xenophobe and a bigot.  So, take a BOW there Pastor Holick.  You’ve certainly earned it.  And then please read the U.S. Constitution and perhaps the Bible as well.  You seem to have a lot to learn about being an American and being a Christian.

The Problem With Trees

November 22, 2008

Spent the day, pretty much literally, doing yard work:  Cleaning gutters, raking the yard, etc.  I’m way too exhausted to write a long post, and I fear that I’ll be too sore tomorrow to do anything at all.

But I have to say that I think trees have a fundamental design flaw.  I love the whole grow-from-a-seed-and-become-huge thing.  Very dramatic.  And I also love the leaves-turn-pretty-colors-in-the-fall effect.  Lovely.  Really.  But then things start to break down a bit.  Couldn’t the leaves just stay on the branches and then turn green again in the spring?  That would be pretty neat to see.  Or, if they have to fall, couldn’t they self-immolate upon landing?  I mean, talk about a cool, dramatic effect.  That would be awesome!  Yeah, yeah, I know.  This would cause problems if they landed on a house or a favorite family pet.  Hmmmm.   Okay, how about this?  How about if they self-immolate when they land on the ground, but if they land on anything else they simply dissolve, like snowflakes landing on the palm of your hand!  Simple, elegant.  I like it.  Someone should start working on this….

Finally seem to be gathering some momentum with the new project.  Twenty pages so far this week; not blazing speed by any stretch, but a good pace for this stage.  More important, I’m starting to get a feel for the character, for the world, and for the voice I’m using to write the thing.  That last may be the most important for me, and the hardest.  The last thing I want is for this new set of books to sound and feel just like the last series and the one before that.  In part haveing a different setting, a different magic system, and a different cast of characters will take care of that.  But there’s more to it.

The prose I write for a new series has to match the themes of the books.  For the Forelands books I wrote a lot of castle intrigue and warfare, and my writing reflected that.  The metaphors and analogies, the way characters spoke to each other and described their world — all of it was built around the worldbuilding and plotline.  This new series is different — for one thing, the world is mostly ocean, and there are lots of isles, so there’s a water theme to my prose this time around.  That’s how the characters would think, and so those are the terms I use to describe action and emotion. 

Just one example, of course.  The point is, it’s starting to come together.  I feel myself sinking into the world, acclimating myself to this new creative environment.  Fun stuff.  On days like these I love my job.

So People Magazine has announced its 2008 Sexiest Man Alive and again — again! — it’s not me. 

God I’m pissed!

:P

The Latest Out of Alaska

November 18, 2008

News out of Alaska:

It seems that Sarah Palin’s national political aspirations are on the verge of taking their second direct hit in as many weeks.  After the defeat of the McCain-Palin ticket on November 4, people in the press and political establishment immediately began to speculate on the Alaska Governor’s political future.  Much of that speculation centered around the future of Alaska’s senior U. S. Senator, Ted Stevens.  Stevens, a Republican, was convicted in October of seven counts of failing to report on his Senate financial disclosure forms more than a quarter of a million dollars in gifts, some in the form of elaborate home improvements.

Stevens was up for reelection this year, and preliminary returns indicated that he might actually win over Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.  Senate Republicans seemed likely to vote Stevens out of the Republican Senate Conference, all but forcing Stevens to resign his office.  While Palin could not appoint herself to the seat, many speculated that she would resign as governor and have her Lieutenant governor, also a Republican, appoint her to finish out Stevens’ term.  This would give her a national platform for a 2012 Presidential run; it would give her much needed experience on national political issues; and it would keep her in the national spotlight (though she seems to have little trouble doing this on her own).

Unfortunately for Palin and the GOP, Alaska’s vote counting process is fairly slow, and those initial election night returns showing Stevens in the lead were as fleeting as Joe the Plumber’s fame.  As votes have been counted over the past two weeks, Stevens’ lead has vanished.  It started at about 3,600 votes, fell to 900, and then disappeared completely.  After one counting day last week, Begich was up by a mere three votes.  The next day the Democrat’s lead grew to 814.  By Friday it was 1,022.  Tomorrow is the last day of counting, but most votes were to be counted today.  At midday the totals were updated again and Begich’s lead had grown to 2,374, large enough if it stands there to allow the state to avoid an automatic recount.  Several thousand votes remain to be counted, but many are from parts of the state that are expected to be favorable to Begich.  [Later update:  Begich's lead as of 4:45 pm Alaska time is now at 3,724 votes, more than enough by far to avoid an automatic recount.]

If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Sarah Palin is destined for a job in the media once her current term as Governor is over, either as a radio talk show host, a la Oliver North, or as a Fox News analyst, like Karl “Turd Blossom” Rove.

Frankly, I think she and Karl deserve each other.

Today’s post, “The Musical Side of Writing,” can be found at http://magicalwords.net.  Please stop by and visit the site, and enjoy the post.

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