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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

 

VALUE’S LISTING:

 

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.

 

ECO-FI TITLES:

SAVING SPIRIT BEAR - What Price Success?

LOVING THE TERRORIST - Risking it All

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 2017-09-13 15:55
Halloween Bingo - Locked Room Mystery - I liked Mycroft better
The Sign of Four - Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

I hadn't made up my mind about the Locked Room Mystery square until the last minute.  For some of the other squares my choices were fairly long and I was looking forward to them, so I was glad to spot The Sign of the Four on the suggested list. 

 

The novel is included in The Works of A. Conan Doyle published by Black's Readers Service, one of those inexpensive sets that used to be advertised -- maybe they still are? -- on the back cover of the Sunday newspaper magazine supplement.  My dad had a set bound in red cloth; I bought them in the tan paper-embossed-to-look-like-leather-and-stamped-in-gold back in the early 70s.

 

 

 

And it's been about that long, or maybe even longer, since I read The Sign of the Four, when I was on a Holmes binge.  Having just read Kareen Abdul-Jabbar's Mycroft Holmes, I thought the comparison would be interesting.

 

Yeah, I liked Mycroft better than his younger brother.

 

The opening scene with Sherlock shooting up cocaine because he's bored didn't shock me, because I had remembered it quite well.  Unfortunately, I didn't like it 45 or more years ago, and I didn't like it now.  "Well, if you're so freaking bored, why don't you go out and find a puzzle that's worthy of your supreme powers of deduction, you arrogant asshole?" was my thought yesterday.

 

See, Mycroft was arrogant, but he never reached the stage of full-fledged assholery his younger brother had.

 

As I continued reading, bits and pieces of the story came back to me, but not all in one flash, so as far as the story itself went, it was pretty much like a fresh read.  But Sherlock's personality didn't improve.  The general Victorian racism was no surprise either, but it sat no easier on my mind than Sherlock's addiction.

 

The locked room mystery part was quickly solved, and the rest was the search for the actual perpetrator once he'd been identified.   And the last quarter of so of the novella was in turn his tale of the events that had led up to the murder.

 

Many elements of Jonathan Small's history brought to mind The Moonstone (1868), but the Wilkie Collins novel was in my estimation not only much better done with a more interesting set of characters, but also dealt with the social issues more aligned with current attitudes than with the traditional Victorian views expressed by Conan Doyle.  Small's disposal of the treasure he considered he had a right to contrasted sharply with the ending of The Moonstone.  The mystery of the treasure really overshadowed the locked room mystery in The Sign of the Four, and Holmes had no part in solving it other than finally capturing Jonathan Small.

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-09-04 23:04
The right book for today's crazy times
The Forever Letter: Writing What We Believe For Those We Love - Elana Zaiman

I've been so frustrated and feeling powerless with the last election and the state of our country.  I want to do something to bring people together and move forward to solve real problems.  I'm tired of all the blame.  

 

Elana Zaiman's book THE FOREVER LETTER offers a ray of hope with simple steps that I can take to make sure that I don't lose the people in my life who are truly important, no matter their political perspective.

Source: amzn.to/2rGEMw8
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review 2017-04-08 03:05
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! - Dr. Seuss

This is one of my favorite stories ever; it cracks me up every time! The Grinch hates Christmas and plans to “steal” the holiday from the Whos. He pretends to be Santa and steals everyone’s presents and decorations. After the fact, the Whos all still find a way to celebrate, because they know that the true meaning of Christmas is not about the presents or decorations. When the Grinch sees this, he realizes that he misunderstood what Christmas is truly about.

 

 

In the classroom, this would be a great Christmas time read. Students could be reminded that the true meaning of Christmas (and other holidays) is about family and being together, not about presents.

 

 

  • Lexile Measure:510L
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review 2017-04-08 03:01
The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

I love this book and the meaning behind it. The tree gives everything that it has to a boy who spends a majority of his life unappreciative. There is a big lesson to be learned in this book, even though it’s a short and simple read. This book’s meaning goes deeper than what you see on the pages, and that’s why it is so awesome.

 

 

In the classroom, this story would be great for teaching students about lessons, morals, and values.

 

 

  • Lexile Measure: 530L
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