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text 2018-04-21 05:04
Eco-Fi: Writing as a moral act

"True art is moral. We recognize true art by its' careful, thoroughly honest search for an analysis of values. It is not didactic because, instead of teaching by authority and force, it explores, open-mindedly, to learn what it should teach. It clarifies like an experiment in a chemistry lab, and confirms."

- John Gardner, On Moral Fiction, 1978


Okay, so this is a bit high-minded, but still it's something I aspire to in my writing.


I've tried to write strictly commercial fiction, but my characters and plots won't let me. At some point they tell me, "Hey, I'm not that shallow, superficial person and I won't let you portray me as such." At this point the vapid story I've been writing takes an unexpected direction and everything gets out of control and I'm back dealing with three dimensional characters in complicated situations that test their integrity.


Or at least I'm trying to.


How then does a writer, if so inclined, build their fiction on strong, ethical ground?


I subscribe to the method suggested by Carol Bly, Author of The Passionate, Accurate Story: Making Your Heart’s Truth into Literature. She suggests that even before beginning to write a story, consider composing a “Values Listing,” a written record of the things that are most important to you.


Then, throughout the writing process ensure these values continue to be identified in your work. That means these values are present in the issues and conflicts your characters confront and that they themselves are grounded in or address these same principles.


Here's the Value's Listing Questions. My answers are in capitals




1. Two goals or values which make life good or bearable or would if they were in operation. PRESERVING ENVIRONMENT/ ENCOURAGING THE HUMAN SPIRIT


2. Two goals or values which cause injustice and suffering or lessening of joy. WEALTH/MATERIALISM and the NEED TO CONTROL


3. Two missing goals or behaviors. As a child, you thought grown-up life would have these. Now that you are an adult you don’t see them around. HONESTY/INTEGRITY and RESPONSIBILITY/CREDIBILITY


4. Two injustices you see about you and should keep an eye on, even on your wedding day. RACISM/DISCRIMINATION and DESTRUCTION OF WILDERNESS


Considering my the list of my values, it's not surprising four of my novels could be categorized as Environmental Fiction, interpreted as a story of any genre; romance, mystery, literary, etc., with a subplot that addresses an important environmental issue.


In writing ECO-FI my hope is readers will be entertained by all the elements of a good story and will also come away a little more wiser about the environmental issues important to me and that effect us all.



SAVING SPIRIT BEAR - What Price Success?


MAD MAGGIE - And the Wisdom of the Ancients

FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend


This stand-alone series will be part of my back-list promotion throughout 2018 and 2019 that will include upcoming FREE book days on Amazon. To be included in free offers of my existing books or the opportunity to receive Advance Reading Copies on new work, consider joining my ADVANCE READING TEAM at http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj


Buy links for these books include:

Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com

Draft2Digital - https://www.draft2digital.com


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-10-23 15:03
Glowing Fish & Bucketfuls of Spider Silk in Goat Milk, Frankenstein’s Cat by Emily Anthes Showcases Some of the Wonders of the Biotechnological World While also Raising Some Important Questions!
Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts - Emily Anthes




The penultimate installment in Project Frankenstein was a joy to read. It was relatively short and full of stuff that I find interesting. I am dividing this review into three parts:


1. Here is a Snippet from the book:



2. Then there were these Sciency Bits that I enjoyed ruminating upon:

Cloning other adult mammals reinforced the discovery that nuclear transfer can reset genes contained in specialized cells back to their embryonic state.

It meant that the genetic clock could supposedly be turned back if things didn’t go so well the first time!

It is my content that the northern grasslands would have remained viable…had the great herds of Pleistocene animals remained in place to maintain the landscape.

This occurred to me for the first time. Yes, the Ice Ages may have changed the landscape physically but it also caused the extinction of the grazers and caused changes in a roundabout way.

…(tuna) are warm-blooded, which makes them oddities in the fish world but keeps them toasty…

They are what?! Why are you doing this to me world? I was so happy, thinking all fish are cold-blooded but no! I hate nature!

International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)

While The Sixth Extinction left me without hope, this book helped me see that we aren’t all bad eggs. Yes, humans have brought the onset of Anthropocene and change environment wherever they go…

We have harvested so many of these large deer, elk, and sheep over the centuries that many species have evolved smaller body and horn sizes. Similarly, fish have adapted to human harvesting by developing thinner bodies capable of sneaking out of nets.

Yet, organizations like ICCAT are keeping track of the number of bluefin tuna that are being pulled out of water annually. The Integrated Ocean Observing System is tagging elephant seals and other swimmers to gather information about the marine environment. Then there is Ocean Tracking Network that has been busy installing underwater listening stations that will pick up on tagged animals. The list of scientists and researchers trying to collect information goes on and on. There is even an attempt to engage the public and increase awareness via animal Facebook profiles. The point is, it took us decades if not more to wreck things. We will need some time to put them back together and it is a pity if nature doesn’t grant us that respite.


3. And a Franken-Bit that I shook an admonitory finger at:

The manufacturers of AquAdvantage salmon think that by producing only sterile female fish, they can keep them from reproducing or passing along their genes.



Even though the book raises pertinent questions about whether animals can incur psychological damage from being tagged, it doesn’t answer them. To be fair, most of us won’t be able to say no to a drug, if it would save a loved one, even if one or two clauses of animal rights weren’t observed!


Could you?




Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 23, 2017.

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review 2017-10-13 20:38
The Fifth Element by Jørgen Brekke
The Fifth Element: A Novel (Odd Singsaker) - Jorgen Brekke

I started reading this in Norwegian shortly after it came out four years ago, but then my Norwegian neighbour wanted it back to lend to someone else, as I was taking too long. So when I saw it had been translated to English, I immediately put it on my 'to-read' list, and I'm glad I did. The American English translation is excellent.


The book isn't written chronologically, but jumps back and forth in time from different POV's. It takes some getting used to, but, once done, it's an absorbing read. 


It's very 'Scandi noire': short sentences, spare descriptions that let the reader fill in the blanks, yet always enough to keep building the pressure in some areas, yet letting it out in others.


For me, the underlying theme is, what is evil? Is it banal, as Hannah Arendt wrote? Do good people do evil things, and evil people good things? When do we cross the line from good to evil? Are we all a mix of both? There are no answers here, just many questions, if the reader is one who muses over those sorts of things.


But that's the subtext. The plot itself is a good, solid thriller. Here's the American publisher's blurb:


Police Inspector Odd Singsaker has been captured, imprisoned on an island off the Northern coast of Norway. He wakes to find himself holding a shotgun. Next to him is a corpse. But what events led him to this point? And how did he get here?

A few weeks earlier, Felicia, his wife, disappeared. Though he didn’t know it, she was trying to find her way back to Odd to reconcile, but then she vanished into a snowstorm. Possibly involved is a corrupt, coldblooded cop from Oslo, a devious college student who’s stolen a great deal of cocaine from drug dealers, and a hit man hired by the drug dealers who have been robbed. All of these lives intersect with Odd’s as he searches for Felicia.


The Fifth Element is ultimately the story of what happened to Felicia Stone. Within that journey, brutal crimes are uncovered, tenacious love shines through, and chilling characters with nothing to lose will stop at nothing to get what they want. Jorgen Brekke once again delivers a chilling thriller that readers will tear through to unravel what happened-and why.


I can understand why the existential undertones of the book are played dow--they wouldn't exactly sell it to an American market, but I've been living in Denmark for so long I've come to expect them. The first books I ever read in Danish were Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's, which, I later read, are the pillars of crime fiction from the 70's on. 



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review 2017-10-06 09:35
Daddy Defender by @janiecrouch
Daddy Defender (Omega Sector: Under Siege) - Janie Crouch

I look forward to every new Intrigue from Janie crouch, and this one is another winner. A fleshed-out recurring villain, a well constructed suspense plot, a terrific cast of characters whom we recognise from the other books in the series, and a romance that is both touching and funny.


Here's the blurb:


What a serious case of mistaken identity. Ashton Fitzgerald is no unassuming handyman but a highly trained sharpshooter intent on protecting Summer Worrall and her baby daughter. The Omega SWAT member has a debt to pay and he isn't about to let Summer out of his sights. 

For someone else has set their own sights on the lovely widow. Her unexpected relationship with Ashton has put Summer and her child straight into a madman's line of fire. Suddenly a mission to make amends becomes Ashton's quest to defend this little family with his very life. 


The mistaken identity hook is great, and provides an entertaining contrast to the very suspenseful plot. 


Janie Crouch, along with Paula Graves (grinding Appalachian poverty), Elle James (the plight of American family farmers) and Elizabeth Heiter (terrible US adoption system) has underlying themes in her books that lend richness and depth to them. In the current series, there's Damien Freihof, a demagogue who uses people as pawns in his own game (and Freihof's next pawns are a family called Trumpold).


One of my favourite books in this series is Man of Action, with the romance between Brandon and Andrea. There's an underlying theme of how stigma hurts. I wrote about it here One of my fave characters from that book, stripper Keira Spencer, may even get her own story soon. I hope so; she's a wise person.

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review 2017-08-22 10:10
Wie man sich täuschen kann bzw. täuschen lässt
Schuld und Menschlichkeit: Justizfälle über Moral und Gerechtigkeit - Buchcover by Coverkitchen,Constantin Himmelried


Die Fälle, die hier erzählt werden, beruhen auf wahren Begebenheiten. Sie ermöglichen Ihnen einen tiefen Einblick in die Justizvollzugsanstalten und in das deutsche Rechtssystem. 

Ein Killer feuert in der Öffentlichkeit neun Mal in das Gesicht seines Opfers. Seine Strafe: sechs Jahre Haft.
Ein unscheinbarer Gefangener muss am Tag seiner Freilassung zurück ins Gefängnis und begeht Selbstmord.
Ein Vergewaltiger will seine Tat nicht eingestehen und akzeptiert eine höhere Strafe, die er ohne Bewährung bis zum Schluss absitzt. Dann trifft er einen alten Freund.
Ein Schleuser, der acht Frauen unter lebensgefährlichen Umständen nach Deutschland geschleppt hatte, kommt mit einer Geldstrafe davon.

Aus der Presse entnehmen Sie nur die Schlagzeilen: den Beginn des Prozesses, den Verdacht der Staatsanwaltschaft und am Ende die Verurteilung.



Meine Meinung 

Ob Constantin Himmelried auf diese Wirkung aus war, weiß ich nicht.

Was ich weiß, ist, dass ich diese Aussage aus dem Roman mitnehme.


Ohne die Plattform BLOGG DEIN BUCH wäre ich wohl gar nicht auf dieses Buch aufmerksam geworden, was ich im Nachhinein zutiefst bedauern würde.

Danke, dass es euch gibt.


Der Autor erzählt in einem sehr passenden und klaren Schreibstil von vier wahren Justizfällen. Sowohl der Titel, als auch die 4 Überschriften der Fälle:

Neun Schüsse ins Gesicht

Der Toastdieb

Der Vergewaltiger

Der koreanische Schleuser


Scheinen für mich sehr gut gefällt. Als Leser hat man eine Ahnung wohin es gehen wird. Und dann kommt es ganz anders.


Im Klappentext wird erwähnt, dass man als Leser einen Blick hinter die Geschichte, sozusagen hinter die Kulisse werfen kann.

Wer kennt es nicht, dass man Schlagzeilen zu Geschehnissen direkt in der Zeitung liest oder sie nur nebenbei im Fernsehen oder im Radio mitbekommt und sich sofort eine Meinung bildet. Nachdem zwei, drei Wochen vergangen sind, erfährt man auf gleichem Wege eventuell vom Urteil und der folgenden Strafe für den Täter.

Auch ich bin eine Person, die in vielen Fällen völlig unverständlich mit dem Kopf schüttelt oder mit den Augen rollt. So war es auch bei jedem der vier behandelten  Fälle, jedoch mit einer nie erwarteten Wende.


Egal ob bei dem Fall „Neun Schüsse ins Gesicht“ oder „Der Vergewaltiger“, man erfährt mehr! Nicht nur eine Schlagzeile und ein Urteil, nein! Constantin Himmelried erzählt in kurzen, aber detailreichen Sätzen, das Wie und das Warum. Und vor allem das Warum war für mich vier Mal spannend zu verfolgen.

Dass mich die Fälle so in den Bann ziehen, hätte ich nicht gedacht.

Der Autor regt unheimlich zum Nachdenken an, mich hat er wahrscheinlich sogar ein wenig beschämt, weil ich leider zu den Menschen gehöre, die sich sehr schnell eine Meinung bilden ohne Hintergründe zu hinterfragen.

Bezieht man diesen Punkt auf Justizfälle und deren Darstellung in den verschiedenen Medien, wird uns Menschen dieses WARUM meist vorenthalten. Mir erscheint es, als wollen Zeitungen und Nachrichtensender lediglich eine aufmerksamkeitserregende Überschrift und die schockierenden und wütenden Reaktionen der Menschheit.


Emotional konnte Constantin Himmelried mich mit seinem Debüt vor allem mit „Der Toastdieb“ und „Der koreanische Schleuser“ packen. Die Geschichte hinter diesen beiden Fällen hatte eine besondere Wirkung auf mich.


Nach den gelesenen 284 Seiten konnte der Autor mich sogar mit seinem letzten Fall animieren, weiter zu lesen. Ein gewisses Thema hat mich sehr ergriffen und wollte im Anschluss im Internet recherchiert werden.


Für mich stellte sich nach diesem Buch die große Frage, ob es uns Menschen an Menschlichkeit fehlt, dass wir so vorschnell urteilen oder ob uns einfach gewisse Informationsquellen nicht zugänglich gemacht werden und es daher rührt?


Ein weiterer Punkt, der mich brennend interessiert, ist, wie der Autor selbst an diese Informationen der vier Fälle gelangt ist. Bekannt ist, dass Constantin Himmelried Rechtswissenschaften studiert hat. Hatte er während seines Studiums Kontakt zu diesen Justizfällen oder besteht das Buch aus reiner Recherche.

Für mich gab es im letzten Fall einen Wink, der mir in Erinnerung bleibt, der aber glaub ich nicht die Antwort auf meine Frage ist.


Mein Fazit

Erinnert ihr euch auch an Fälle aus den Medien, dessen Urteile ihr überhaupt nicht nachvollziehen könnt und über die ihr euch sehr schnell eine Meinung über unser Justizsystem bildet? Lest unbedingt dieses Buch!

Gerade so kritischen Menschen, wie ich selbst, kann ich dieses Buch nur ans Herz legen. Ebenso Interessierten an wahren Kriminalfällen.

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