Harrowed Insight

I was inspired to write my first novel Inside the Skin (formerly The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor) by life experiences I earned back in the late ’90s, early ’00s while working as a navy Equal Opportunity specialist, experiences the focus of which centered around the harassment, abuse, injury, and sometimes sadly even death as a result of the hatred for and confusion of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy which had recently been implemented throughout the military.

Continue reading “Harrowed Insight”

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Transgender Community* Trumped by the Arc and Bent of Autocratic Politics

My fury throughout the whole last campaign to and through the election until now has never been much about politics.

Politics in this country, while they have been expanding outward toward the wacky fringes leaving the mostly moderate radicals (the rarity of moderates these days makes us rather radical) like myself quite lonely, have always, and hopefully will continue to, arc this way and that.

Because if our politics are not forever fluid and free to flow this way and that depending upon the tides of our national temperament, then it must mean that someone must have dammed up our river of democracy.

Metaphors… sigh.

Anyway, I don’t know if you’ve read my about page but there you will see in one sentence how I feel about politics and politicians…

To me, politics is simply acting for ugly people. Pretty actors go to Hollywood; ugly actors go to Washington DC.

Consequently, as our politics arc to and fro in this country, our politicians arc right along with them…only always just slightly behind the arc as they forever fail in their efforts to try to predict its toing and froing.

No, my fury for the most part has been directed solely at Trump and his bent towards authoritarianism; which means then that the more he contorts himself into a true to life autocrat, the more he is strengthening his power at the expense of my freedoms…

Continue reading “Transgender Community* Trumped by the Arc and Bent of Autocratic Politics”

RISE OF THE CHOSEN by Guest Author Anna Kopp

In Sam’s world there are two rules. Rule #1: Nobody dies. Protect the living at all costs. Rule #2: Everybody dies. At least once.

The Waking was a global event in which a force called the Lifeblood invaded all humans who died. The few strong enough to control it came back as powerful immortals. The rest let the bloodlust take over and awoke with one goal – to kill.

Newly appointed Watch Guard Samantha Shields has a legacy to uphold. Her father died a hero defending their city and now she wants to follow in his footsteps. Except for the dying part, of course. Unfortunately, fate has other plans as she discovers deep dark secrets that make her choose between her loyalties and the lives of everyone in her city. Both rules are in play as Sam is forced to make hard decisions that could cost her everything – including the person she cares about most.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RISE OF THE CHOSEN


  • This is not another zombie book
  • Action-packed
  • LGBT MC (#ownvoices)
  • Unpredictable page-turner

Advanced reviewers are calling it ‘intense’, ‘gripping’, and a ‘fresh take on the zombie theme’. Fans of The Walking Dead and Divergent will love this book. But don’t just take their word for it – order on Amazon today and see for yourself!

EXCERPT

“Do you eat? I mean, I know you don’t need to, but do you?” Sam
asked curiously. David gave her a blank stare.
“Eating is inconvenient,” he finally answered, eliciting a confused
look.
“Because it takes time? Or effort?”
“Because it produces unneeded side effects from the body that
could cause an interruption in our duties.”
She mulled over the answer for a moment. Finally understanding
what he was talking about, she turned red as a beet and continued to
eat in silence.
Julian laughed at her reaction.
“That’s our Sarge, always worrying someone’s gonna have to take a
piss in the middle of a call.”
David turned to him. “With you and Mexican food, that’s not the
one I’m worried about.”
Sam almost choked on her burrito.
“Holy shit, did Sarge just make a joke? Well, well, maybe there’s
hope for you after all!”
The death glare from David was interrupted by a loud warning ring
from the computer, followed by the distant wail of a siren. He whirled
around to get the location and was immediately out the door, yelling
back at his scrambling teammates.
“Two at the gate.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Kopp was born in Russia and immigrated to the United States when she was 11. She joined the US Army and lived in Georgia during her military career before settling down in the Cleveland, Ohio area. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in business but her true passion is writing. She is a wife and business partner to a software developer, and a mom to two rambunctious boys obsessed with Minecraft. Anna’s hobbies include reading, writing, and playing World of Warcraft. She is a true geek at heart and would love nothing more than to see her imagination become a part of something greater.

Contact Information

WEBSITE: www.annakoppauthor.com
BLOG: annakoppwrites.wordpress.com
GOODREADS: Author Profile
AMAZON: Author Page
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/annakoppwrites
TWITTER: @AnnaKoppAuthor



I would like to thank Anna for her donation to my Website Campaign to raise funds for my movie. I ask that you please take the time to visit Anna’s site, check out her work, and follow along with her on her literary journey. It definitely looks like it is going to be an adventurous and rewarding one.

Now that the IndieGoGo Campaign to raise funds to produce my movie has kicked off, my Website Campaign has ended. I ask that you please check out our stellar cast and crew, see what the flick is about, and, if you feel so compelled, donate to show your support of Independent Filmmakers. And whether you are or are not able to donate, please share the news about the campaign to your network of family and friends.

Thank you!

 
 

Write What You Know, You Know…

They say, Write what you know…

And in response I say, Okay…

So when I began in earnest to write stuff for people to read way back in the early Nineties – what a great decade that was – about all I knew about life outside of my personal life which I didn’t and still don’t have the guts yet to truly explore, was all pretty much navy-related.

Hence, the stories I wrote at the time were all pretty much, well… navy-related.

And therein lies the primary challenge I have when it comes to convincing and conniving folks who look a lot like you to read my writing… and now, to support a film based upon my writing: that even though the stories may be navy-related, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are stories just about the navy.

Some of you, many of you, are probably new to this site so understandably there may be a few things about me that you just aren’t aware of:

Like, even though my undergraduate degree is in English – which probably explains my nerd obsession with arranging and amalgamating morphemes into new and creative and interesting ways for you to read stuff, my graduate degree is in a completely unrelated field (well, maybe it’s a little related) of Human Relations – which probably explains my obsession with trying to understand why it is you think and behave the crazy and unpredictable way you do.

To satisfy my morpheme amalgamating obsession, I began to write; to satisfy my relating-to-humans obsession, I took a few years off from my primary career field in the Intelligence Community (oxymoron, I know…) while in the navy, to become a certified Equal Opportunity Advisor, where I spent much of my time providing counseling and training in diversity management.

And it is this relating to humans-related stuff that I would like to think is what my stories, while even though they may be set in a navy-related world, are all really about…

Like, as explored in my novel The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, how do our perceptions and stereotypes influence our decisions when confronted with situations like homophobia and harassment and abuse?

 

Or, as explored in the short story and soon to be short film LEAVE, what was the environment really like for that courageous female sailor who took that first assignment to a warship with an all-male crew?

 

While these stories are set on navy ships during the Nineties, it is my belief their underlying themes and messages are relevant even, and especially, today.

Just recently Congress has authorized women to serve in all combat-related duties, not just some of them like back in the Nineties.

Right now there are courageous, pioneering females all throughout the US military – and throughout society in general – who are opening doors that have previously always been closed to them, and setting off on a course that clears the way for many more courageous females to forever follow.

So, yeah, we writers have always been told to Write what you know…

Just as you readers have always been told to Never judge a book by its cover…

Especially mine.
 

Open Books Open Minds…

www.facebook.com/leavethemovie

 
 

Finally! A Relating to Humans Archive System

Like I am currently in the process of doing for my taxes, I had until recently also been procrastinating heavily on setting up an archive system for the Relating to Humans feature.

However, yesterday, I finally got my proverbial butt in gear (I would really really like to know who came up with that saying…think about it…butts…gears…yeah, weird) and set up all the required archive pages and moved all the submissions to the feature that were out of cycle (You may recall from the Submission Guidelines that submitted work will stay posted on the feature for three-month cycles, after which time they will be archived. This allows the feature to stay fresh, so to speak, with new content.) and now we finally have a proper archive system.

So, if you submitted your work to the feature more than three months ago you will now be able to view it on its appropriate archive page.

This is a one-man operation here so I cannot guarantee that posts will be archived exactly at three months; but they’ll get moved somewhere there abouts.

Now that I finally got my you know what in gear, you’ll find that we are in need of some new work. Consequently, I encourage all of you to consider submitting your talents to one of the Feature’s features, if you know what I mean.

There’s a lot going on in our pretty but oh so petulant world for us to discuss and I would love to know what your thoughts are on all the major issues.

And please let me know if you have any suggestions for how we can improve the feature. I would truly appreciate that.

That’s all for now; however, there will be some new and interesting (at least to me) things going on soon so please stay tuned for future updates and announcements.

Now, if someone could please tell me what gear my you know what needs to be in for me to get the motivation up enough to complete my taxes…???

Three Men Walk into a Bar… [Satire Saturday Prompt]

First off, you may have noticed that today’s prompt is not of the #SonnetSaturday sort as originally advertised.

Yeah, about that…

See, I did me some literary math and took the total number of participants to date and subtracted that number by the presumed difficulty level, which I presume is pretty high, in sonnet composing and concluded that we just don’t have the mathematical heft to support a #SonnetSaturday. And to be honest with you, I’m a little worried about the long-term survival of this Daily Prompt thingie in general. But we’ll make that decision at a later date.

So, instead we now have #SatireSatuday, which may be a bit more mathematically attainable…

So, three men, the President of the United States, the “President” of Russia, and the Pope, as well as each of their cadre of bodyguards, walk into a bar, an underground transgender bar, hidden off a back, unassuming alley in an highly flamboyant basement of an unassuming building in the highly assuming city of Moscow…

You can take it, and by it I mean the satire, from there, utilizing any literary or art form you wish; however it must contain the words or spirit of the words: “the president’s secret fantasy.”

Roger that?
Roger that.

Submissions close at 7PMish and my selection will be posted at 8PMish.

The purpose of these exercises, in my mind, is to practice our skills and network a little bit. So, if you have the time and desire, please submit something; however, if you’re just a dedicated reader, please take the time to “Like” the submissions you like and, as we cannot allow any comments other than the submissions, please visit the sites of those daring to submit and find something to enjoy and comment on there.

To help get us in the proper frame of the prompt I share with you Antony Hegarty of “Antony and the Johnsons,” one of my favorite singers, as a reminder just how talented and worthy of our respect our transgender brothers and sisters are. And they are worthy of our respect not because of their gender choices or wardrobe choices or smooth skin, but for the same reason anyone else is worthy of our respect, which is, of course…just because.


 

For more on Antony, there’s this.

Peace and have fun…

Roger that?
Roger that.

 
 

A Story For the Misaligned, Sailor Or Otherwise

[UPDATE: The title of this novel has been changed to INSIDE THE SKIN]

The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor
A story for us all

 
From the Dedication Page:

This book is dedicated to anyone — regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender and all its breathless facets, sexual orientation, non-sexual orientation, sexual non-orientation, spirituality or lack thereof, religion or lack thereof, nationality or lack thereof, political affiliation or lack thereof, occupation or lack thereof, education or lack thereof, good looks or lack thereof, height, weight, shoe size, or any other ways we have identified and implemented as means to compare and contrast and separate and segregate and relegate and rank ourselves as humans — who has ever once regretted his or her or their identity.

This book, then, is for us, all of us.

You can learn more here.

 
 

Can you please help me please?

As I Ideate Full On Re: Features & Guest Authors

(Okay, the following intro paragraph is going to hurt a bit. Just look at that thing…one big blob of a block of text. You may want to grab yourself a cuppa of whatever it will take for you to keep the eyelids propped up for about fifteen sentences cram packed with pedantic pain. Are you ready for all that? Are you sure? All right, don’t say I didn’t warn you…good luck.)

On my About page I mention something to the effect that I consider myself somewhat of an human relations guy. I mentioned that for a several reasons. One being that I really enjoy humans; I don’t always enjoy being around them in close and confining proximity so much as I enjoy observing them, scientific like…from a safe and considerable distance…with multiple escape routes just in case things go sideways without notice like they so often do whenever a human is involved in the equation. And another reason I consider myself as a human relations guy is because I gots that paper that says I am. In addition to an undergrad degree in English, which I believe is fundamental to just about all I have become, good like and bad like, because it instilled even deeper into me than it was prior, which was already pretty deep, a love for literature and an appreciation for the language it takes to paint a story, which usually involves humans. But I gots more paper props, too. At about 2/3rds the way through my navy career, I got a little bored with my primary gig – telecommunications – and I looked for a way to take a break. I found that break by volunteering and qualifying for a three-year stint in a, go figure, human relations gig where I served as an Equal Opportunity specialist. To qualify, I first had to attend three-months of intensive, so called, sensitivity training (a misnomer because instead of being sensitive to my feelings, it exposed them and ripped off their calloused protective scars and scraped over them until they were bloody and raw), where I learned about how much of a turd white males have been throughout the United States history, and before. It was a very tough, but wonderfully enlightening, three-months. And finally, to top off my ice cream claim to my human relations affinity is a cherry of masters degree in, go figure, Human Relations.

So why did I just put you through all that?

Because I need your help.

And the reason I am asking you for your help, is because, even though I’ve had considerable experience of and in the field of human relations, I still don’t feel I am the one most qualified to do what it is I want to accomplish here.

But I think you are.

I think you know much better than I about what it is like to be a woman in this somewhat of a misogynistic world, or to be a person of color in this somewhat of a racist world, or to be a homosexual in this somewhat of a homophobic world…

Yeah, you know…

So I was wondering, knowing all that you know about all you’ve learned and experienced while maneuvering through this difficult and sometimes dangerous obstacle course called life, would you please help me please?

[Continue reading…]

 

WHO I AM – A Women’s Issues Feature

I am very honored and excited to share our very first submission to the new Relating to Humans feature.

Before we get to the submission, however, I would like to say a few words by way of introduction.

You know, I am a writer, which means…I’m insecure. I am. Every time I hit the “Publish” button to release my stuff out into this wild world, I get more than a little apprehensive wondering if it’s going to be well received, or not. Such was the case when I put this new Relating to Humans feature out there. I was a little nervous, wondering if anyone would take it seriously; if anyone would care to participate.

Which is why I am so honored and excited to be introducing you to the poetry of becausethisishowisaythings. She, with her one submission, helped to validate what this new feature is all about.

Becausethisishowisaythings is a fearless twenty-year old (fearless as is evident by her willingness to participate in this new venture of ours), and her poem is an honest expression of how she feels about being a woman.

So please, take the time to read her poem, and, if you are so moved, maybe leave her a comment and visit with her and support her efforts at her own website becausethisishowisaythings.wordpress.com

 


 

Who I am

I am confused.
I am a woman, a girl, a female…but I am not very feminine.
My mother tells me to wear prettier clothes. My sister asks if I’m a lesbian.

If I’m a girl, does that mean I have to wear pink, do I have to wear flowers in my hair and make-up on my face, all to convince you that I’m a girl, that I’m a woman?

Do I have to wear revealing clothes and get drunk on vodka to attract a man,
a boy, a male?

Do I have to feel afraid of sex?

Should I feel guilty for being honest, and not a bitch?

I am a woman, I know this, but it seems other people aren’t so sure.
I don’t know if I’m a feminist, but I know what I want to be.
I want to be strong, to be attractive, to be sensitive, to be accepted, to be understood.
I want to be a good person.
A person. Not a label.

I am a woman, I am a girl, a female…but don’t try to label me with these things.

Hey Author, let’s make a deal (condensed version)

Sometimes the mojo magic gets to workin’ in me and gets me going on a post and before I know it that post is a mile long…

Such is the painfully apparent case with the original “Hey Author, let’s make a deal” post.

Yeah…I went to read over it again this morning, before my coffee had a chance to bake in…not good.

That sucker’s so long it makes the Great Wall of China look like the Just Above Average Wall of China…

It’s so long it looks like I’m getting nothing but sympathy “Likes” on it. You know those kind of “Likes”…if I “Like” it, maybe it will then just go away…

Yeah…I understand.

But what I’m trying to do with the post is important to me so I’m compelled to shorten things up a bit so you can actually finish reading something of mine in at least one sitting.

So, to reiterate what I reiterated way too many times in the original post but what you probably managed not to read anyway, here are the key points of what is so important to me and what I would like us both to do:


Your tasks:
1. Like this or/and the original post
2. Follow this website
3. Subscribe to my newsletter (this is key…I know, everyone hates to do this but please do)
4. Purchase my short story LEAVE
5. Write a smokin’ hot review for it


My tasks:
1. Finish reading and reviewing HANDS OF EVIL
2. Pick the best smokin’ hot review of LEAVE
3. Ensure author of smokin’ hot review meets all eligibility requirements
4. Purchase a book or story of author of chosen smokin’ hot review
5. Read the author’s book
6. Review the author’s book
7. Publish the review of author’s book here
8. Publish the review of author’s book at Amazon
9. Publish the review of author’s book at Goodreads
10. Publish my review of author’s book, the author’s review of my short story, and an accompanying author profile, in my newsletter (<–click to subscribe).

(Since newsletters are probably the best way to engage with your readers, I strongly encourage all of you to fire one up, as well. If you do, let me know. I’d be happy to subscribe. (: )


That’s the crux of it…short and to the point.

Just like the original.

. . . .

Um, excuse me, before you go. . .

I know, I know. . .

But before you go, I’d like to say something real quick about my short story LEAVE…and this applies to all my stories, including my book The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor, with a navy setting.

I am always receiving feedback from readers of my so-called “navy stories” that initially the readers were hesitant to read them because, let’s face it, who really cares about what’s going on in the navy. Aren’t they the kind of stories that only a certain kind of people, sailor people perhaps, would only want to read?

My answer to that is, sure these are stories with a navy setting, but they aren’t necessarily about just navy things.

Because all this is so fundamental to who I am, I have been planning to discuss all this much more in depth later, but in my About page I mention that I consider myself a Human Relations kind of guy. I believe I am qualified to say that because I spent a good chunk of my life studying humans…

I spent three months at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute for some hardcore Diversity and EO training.

I was then certified as a Navy Equal Opportunity Advisor, where I worked daily managing EO issues and providing EO and Diversity training all throughout the navy’s Western Pacific operating area.

And, I have a masters degree in Human Relations (go figure).

So my “navy stories” are mostly about what most stories are about — humans and how we relate with each other. Which is often, not so well.

And these stories specifically put a special emphasis on those difficult relationships…relationships dealing with sexual orientation and race and gender issues and our perceptions and stereotypes of them and the harassment and harm we sometimes inflict on each over them.

So yeah, these stories, most of which you can read online for free right here, are navy stories in the sense that that is where they are set. . .

But it was my intent and my hope that they be stories that transcend way beyond just the navy and right into the heart of all of us.

 
 

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Toward the Happy End of Legislating Morality

You may be happy or sad over the reelection of Barack Obama.

I, for one, am happy.

You may be happy or sad over the reelection of the Congressional Incumbents.

I, for one, am sad.

And, you may be happy or sad over the historic legalization of gay marriage in Maryland and other states and the legalization of the limited recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

I, for one, am beyond happy; in fact, I am completely and blissfully ecstatic.

Now, since I am happily married and have been so for over two score, and since my lung disease prevents me from inhaling any kind of smoke and my high liver counts discourage me from introducing THC into my system by any other means, I do not foresee me benefiting physically in the least because of the legalization of gay marriage and the decriminalization of marijuana use.

But I do benefit from it.

All Americans benefit from it because it represents a new mind set in our country.

A new hope.

Millions of Americans voted in this election to begin the end of legislating morality.

Yes, there will be legal challenges and set backs to these recent advancements toward the protection of our basic human right to live a life as we choose to live it.

Yes, we still have many states to go and many votes to cast before all Americans’s have the right to be human as each sees fit.

But we have just made a significant advancement, an advancement which sets the momentum toward even further advancement, and which minimizes the chance for significant setback.

And I, for one, am very happy about that.

In Honor of the End of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy

An offering from POEMS FROM THE RIVER, a collection of my poetry that will soon be released.

~~~~

We War

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.
The decayed and degraded state
of moral and patriotic feeling
which thinks that nothing is worth war
is much worse.

The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight,
nothing which is more important than his own personal safety,
is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free
unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

~ John Stuart Mills

We war, don’t we
We warriors
We worriers for the world

You, Red Death Warrior
You mobilized
You sanitized
Purified to perform ancient rights of battles
And to stake patriot claims of fragile freedom
In hearts alien, hearts eternal,
Hearts ignorant of all you know

You know
You know

You know, noble warrior,
While you wander through the heaven of Hell
Raking the shit scattered pieces
Of bitter and broken promises
Into neat, heaping piles made ready
For the devil’s dusty full bin,
I, Warrior of The Forgotten Peace
Arming my chair of flaccid command
Long for the glory fight that I never had
The fight I will never know
The fight you will never forget

You know
You know

~~~~

I would like to congratulate and thank all who courageously sacrificed their identities, and in some cases, their lives, in order to proudly and honorably serve their nation while Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was national policy.

September 20, 2011

September 20, 2011, will be a historic day for our country, and a special day for me.

It will be historic because the United States’s discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy will finally be put to rest.

And it will be special to me because I hope to release my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR on that day in honor of the historic event.

But, like the cup half empty kind of guy that I am, I won’t believe either will happen until I actually see them happening…

But I’m hopeful it will all come true.

I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to end because it has been a powerful presence in my life since my decision in 1994 to work outside my career field of telecommunications, and outside of my comfort zone, to become a navy Equal Opportunity Advisor. My duties as an EOA required me to become thoroughly familiar with the DADT policy and to facilitate seminars and focus groups regarding it at navy commands throughout the Western Pacific. A key element of my training was not to just remind sailors that they could not ask about someone’s sexual orientation, but also to make it very clear since it had become an issue in the military that, just because their values or stereotypes or perceptions or prejudgments motivates them to do so, doesn’t mean they can harass or abuse or murder someone who they perceive has a sexual orientation that is contrary to their beliefs. I use the word “perceive” because rarely do homosexuals violate DADT policy by telling others, especially others hostile to their lifestyle, about their sexual orientation. Consequently then, the most likely way a homophobic person can be motivated to act upon his or her (mostly his) homophobic tendency to want to harass or abuse or murder is by perceiving a service member to be a homosexual based upon the perceived homosexual’s behavior or personal characteristics. Facilitating the discussion of such a sensitive, and often combative, nature for three years was very challenging, yet very rewarding for me.

If I can hardly believe that DADT is finally coming to an end, I can only wonder how one feels who loves his or her country so much that he or she was willing to join the military knowing that the DADT policy required him or her to suppress his or her identity and sexual orientation in order to serve. (Normally, because I am a man and because I choose a male identity for myself (It’s a gender thing, you wouldn’t understand…probably.), I would not bother with all the “he or she” and “his or her” distraction; I would simply just write “he” or “his,” just as I would expect a female writer to just write “she” or “shis,” I mean, “sher,” I mean, “her,” but I feel in this situation, it is important for me to highlight and reiterate the fact, in an effort to remind everyone, that both men and women have chosen to make this enormous sacrifice for their country. Talk about Patriots. All you heterosexuals out there go ahead and try imagining what it would be like to not only not be allowed to tell others who you love, but also to not be allowed to completely express your love to the person whom you do love. Hard to imagine, isn’t it, since it’s our privilege to not have imagine such an absurd way of life?

And I can hardly believe that my novel is finally going to be released because it, too, has been a powerful presence in my life for nearly as long as DADT has been. Consequently, I find it hard to believe that in a few short days I will finally be able to call the project complete.

And I also can hardly believe that my novel is going to be released on September 20, 2011, since it is only a few short days away and, because of a few issues I am contending with, I still have yet to complete the publication review process with the publishing service I am using. So, at this point, September 20, 2011, is more like a target release date than a set release date. But we’ll see.

Regardless of whether my novel is actually published on September 20, 2011, or not, the date will always be special to me since it was DADT, or more specifically, since it was all the harassment and abuse and even murder that was inflicted on so many service members because of DADT, that provided the unfortunate impetus for why I wrote the novel to begin with.

Preparing for the End

As you may or may not be aware, the end of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy will be officially and finally declared on September 20, 2011.

I honestly am very happy, and more than a little apprehensive, that its end is coming.

Additionally, in the spirit of my shtick, I am also not as honestly very happy, and a little more than apprehensive, that I have until September 20, 2011, to complete and release my novel THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR.

Why do I have only until September 20, 2011, to complete and release my novel, I hear you ask.

Well, how else can I best exploit for my own bloated self-interests the pain, suffering, and humiliation of thousands of those who served their country during the course of the life of the humiliating DADT policy than by releasing on or about the date of DADT’s death so that I can best leverage the public’s increased interest in the issue a book with themes that attempt to illustrate the same pain, suffering, and humiliation that those who served their country during the course of the life of the humiliating DADT policy experienced, I answer.

Key word in all that bumbling nonsense in the last paragraph: “attempt.”

But fear and puke not, for those of you whose stomach I just curdled:

For I am known for setting and committing myself to firm and fixed deadlines and then easily and breezily rationalizing them away as their date flies by and the work remains woefully incomplete.

And I certainly do have much woeful work on the novel yet for me not to complete between now and September 20, 2011.

Until then, you can check out the first five chapters of THE SEA TRIALS OF AN UNFORTUNATE SAILOR at the “free reads” page, if you feel so inclined and/or charitable to my cause.

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

I joined the navy in 1983, which means that I served for about ten years when it was illegal for homosexuals to enter the military.

Even though it was illegal, I think it is safe to assume that there still were homosexuals serving during that time; but back then since I was young and singularly focused on doing all those things that sailors have always been renowned for doing…you know what I’m talking about: a yo ho ho and a bottle of rum and all that other fun stuff (wink)…I did not pay the issue of homosexuals in the military much mind.  And as far as I can remember, neither did any of the sailors I hung out with back then.

Thinking back, I remember working with several individuals during the first ten years of my enlistment who were assumed to be gay, but it was no big deal.  It was no big deal to me, to my friends, or to the command where we all worked.  The assumed homosexuals came to work and did their job the best they could, just like everyone else and that was pretty much it.

The only time when  my group of friends and I did talk about homosexuals in regard to their homosexuality was probably when we were making juvenile fun of what we saw as their eccentricities.

I am sorry about that.  I guess I could try to excuse  my behavior back then on the fact that I was young and a victim of a cultural socialization process that bent toward homophobia.  However, while my opinions and attitudes have evolved since then, unfortunately, I am still not completely guilt-free when it comes to occasionally behaving in a juvenile manner, even though I know that this type of “harmless” behavior may be enabling someone elses more aggressive, dangerous behavior.

Evolution is a slow process.

Still, as far as I can tell, for the first half of my navy career, most sailors really didn’t pay the issue of homosexuals in the military hardly any mind.

That all changed under President Clinton’s watch, however.  Once he made allowing homosexuals to serve in the military an issue, it became an issue for all service members — a big one.

Prior to Clinton’s presidency, I have no recollection whatsoever of there being any open hostility or harassment towards homosexuals in the military.  I am in no way saying that there wasn’t any open hostility or harassment towards homosexuals for the first ten years of my career, I’m only saying that if there was, it did not leave an impression on my internal google, for I cannot pull up any recollections; nor has it left an impression on the external google, for I cannot pull up any major stories or websites profiling open hostility or harassment towards homosexuals in the military prior to President Clinton making it an issue.  (My definition for major is at least a story or a website that makes it on the first page of google’s search results. If I have to dig deeper than that then to me it must not have been a major event. I know, that’s a weak rationale for a lazy research method but it’s what I’m going with.)

But it seems that once homosexuals in the military became a national issue, folks of all over the country began to take notice, especially the closet homophobes.

Soon afterward, open hostility, harassment, and even assaults towards homosexuals began making the news.

Presidential candidate Bill Clinton made allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military an issue throughout his 1990-1991 presidential campaign.

This sailor was stomped to death in October 1992.

President Clinton issued Defense Directive 1304.26 which became known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in December 1993.

This college student was pistol whipped and tortured to death in October 1998.

This soldier was beat to death with a baseball bat in July 1999.

And now, with the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and with the nation’s attention focused more than ever on the issue of homosexuals in the military, we may wonder if there will be additional hostility, harassment, and assaults toward homosexuals.

I am afraid we may already have our answer.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama made allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military an issue throughout his 2007-2008 presidential campaign.

Democrats began ramping up their efforts to repeal the ban in Congress in March 2009.

This sailor was gunned down and burned in July 2009.

This civilian was beaten by two marines in July 2010.

Maybe it’s a stretch to try to link these deaths and beatings to the fact that the nation is focusing on the issue of homosexuals serving in the military, maybe it’s not.  Regardless, we all should hope for the best when the repeal is finally lifted sometime this year and homosexuals are allowed to openly serve.  But while we are hoping for the best, we should also remain vigilante to the possibility that the risks toward our newly liberated brothers and sisters in arms may significantly increase as the nation continues to focus on this issue for the foreseeable future.

Book Update #3

The Sea Trials of an Unfortunate Sailor
Book Cover

It has been a while since my last book update and several things have happened in the interim that impacts the story. For instance, there has been the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, there is the feedback that I have been receiving from those I asked to read and criticize the story for me, and there is the near collapse of the traditional publishing industry right before our eyes. So, how does all of this impact the story you ask?

As you are probably aware, Congress passed and the president signed into law the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy right before the end of 2010. This is significant, not just because it finally ends a discriminatory and un-American policy, but also because it forces me to consider making serious changes to my novel. Currently, the novel is set in the mid-1990s, sometime not long after the implementation of the DADT policy; however, I’m wondering if I should update the story to the present time and have the characters behave as if there is no longer the DADT policy to contend with. That would require major rewrites and I’m not sure if I’m up for that. I’m rather looking forward to moving on to my next writing project. We’ll just have to wait and see.

One reason I’m not up for major rewrites of the story is because I’m already in the midst of, if not major rewrites, than major edits. Soon after declaring my story “finished” in my last book update, I asked several of my friends to read it and to let me know what worked and what didn’t work. What I have learned from the feedback I have received so far is that overall the story is pretty good but it moves too fast in places and some of the characters need to be fleshed out more.

I’m going through the story now and trying to patch it up where I can. I want to be careful though because I intentionally wanted the story to do a couple of things.

First, I wanted to create a verisimilitude for the reader where he or she can feel how overwhelming it is for someone, especially someone new to the navy, to report to a ship for the first time. Ships are their own little worlds with their own social structures, laws, and language. When you first report onboard everything seems to be happening so fast and, until you learn the rules and are accepted, it all can be more than a little intimidating, and sometimes even dangerous. So I wanted to keep the story moving fast and try to create a surreal pace where you always feel like you are one step behind of where it is you are supposed to be going, but barely one step ahead of the forces intent on preventing you from getting there.

Second, I wanted to force the reader to have to rely on his or her own stereotypes and prejudices to draw conclusions about characters and events in the story. The reason for this is, since DADT policy forbade service members from asking other service members what their sexual orientation is and it forbade homosexuals from openly admitting their homosexuality, harassment and physical abuse against homosexuals during the era of DADT were perpetrated based on the stereotypes, prejudices, and perceptions of those who committed the harassment and abuse. They didn’t know for sure that they guy they were picking on was gay, they were just reacting to what they thought a gay person was supposed to be like.

Anyway, that is the rationale for the limited character descriptions in the story. I know it may sound like I’m trying to rationalize away the criticism I have been receiving (and maybe at some level I am) but I do understand that I need to make editing improvements to the story but I need to make them in a way that is mindful to my original intent. Hopefully I can pull it off. Again, we’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out in the end.

During Christmas 2009, my sister came to visit and during her visit she proudly showed off her new gift: an Amazon Kindle e-reader. Everyone wanted to take a look at it so she handed it to the relative next to her and it slowly made its way around the horn to me. When it arrived, tucked neatly inside a svelte and stylish binder, I gave it a cursory, dismissive once-over and quickly passed it on for someone else to ogle over while I snobbishly declared that e-readers weren’t for serious readers like me, even though secretly, I thought that sucker was pretty cool.

That was my first look at the growing e-book revolution. During the year between Christmas 2009 and Christmas 2010, I had been intent on finishing my book and getting it published by one of the “Big Six” or, at least, one of the smaller book publishers.  I was the old fashioned way, through one of the traditional publishers in the traditional, slow, way. I did not pay much attention to the e-reader revolution that was taking the industry by storm.

When I did finally begin to notice, I told myself it would all soon pass after everyone realized that e-books could never replace the feel and comfort and friendliness of a real book. Well, that’s probably what the music executives thought about CDs, too, as they stood by and watched their traditional music publishing industry collapse before their eyes.

So, this year for Christmas, when my son showed me his new gift, an iPad, and I saw how transformative and cool that thing is, I decided I better take another look at what is going on in the state of the book publishing world.

What I found was pretty bloody. The e-publishing revolution, instead of abating, has continued to spread. E-book and self-publishing sales are on the advance while brick-and-mortar book stores are running up the white flags of surrender like there is no tomorrow…which, for them, there probably isn’t. They are closing their doors, filing for bankruptcy, and wiping out millions of dollars worth of potential sales for publishers and writers.

With this revolution, self-publishers are no longer considered quite the pariahs that they used to be–they are now the revolutionaries, the subversives. With the ease and convenience that the e-readers bring to self-publishing, along with a growing market of dedicated e-reader readers like my sister, some writers are making some very serious coin by skipping all of the overhead and hassle that the traditional publishing industry brings (while taking a hefty cut of the profits) and bringing their stories directly to market themselves.

With all this in mind, and keeping in mind that it may benefit me to get my story to market as quickly as I can while DADT is still fresh in the mind, I have pretty much decided to self-publish my book, first by submitting it directly to the e-reader market and then to a print service like lulu.com or one of the others out there.  Wish me luck…I’ll need it.

Lastly, as far as things that have happened since my last book update, if you haven’t noticed just by looking around on this site or my facebook page, I have now the artwork for the cover of my book.

When I decided to self-publish, I started checking out the cover artists that other self-publishers use and I quickly realized that I knew someone who could create something just as good, if not better. Of course there is parental prejudice and preference, but he always has been very artist and creative. I’m referring to my son Willis.

He, like others of his twenty-something generation, have grown up with this technology, he has studied graphic design in college, and he does most of the design work for his band’s website.

I am so glad I asked him to design the cover for me because, well, you can see how kick-ass it is, but more importantly, I had a blast sitting down with him during the course of a week or so, usually sometime after midnight (we are both night owls), and watch the cover transform from a simple concept into the artwork that it is now.

To get there he spent many hours researching other cover artists and designers, as well as the technical specifications that the cover designs must meet in order to be submitted to the major e-reader sights. Plus, it was good for me as I go through an editing process to talk with him about the concepts and fundamentals of the story as I envision them to be.

The cover that he created is a beautifully, and somewhat eerily, accurate artistic representation and psychological translation of what I see in my mind when I think about the story. After you read the story, I think you will agree.

Homosexuality and Our National Interest

Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”
Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

Because of my personal interest in this important civil rights issue, I have been closely following the national debate regarding the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for some time now. My view on whether homosexuals should be allowed to openly serve in the military has significantly evolved since I first joined the navy in 1983. I believe, and have for some time, that homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly. I came to this conclusion for many reasons but here are the primary ones:

1.      It is in the best interest of our national security. Our country is engaged in two active military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan while still keeping all of the other national security concerns–terrorism, Iran, North Korea, and many others–in check. Our nation simply cannot afford to waste valuable resources in any form, particularly its military resources. Our most valuable national and military resource is our patriotic citizens who volunteer to serve and protect our nation. Denying our military the service of patriotic volunteers because of their sexual orientation is not only shortsighted and stupid, it is potentially damaging to military readiness and our national security.

2.      It is in the best interest of our national psyche. We all know very well that we are a country founded on the truth that all men are created equal under the laws of nature and of God. This is deeply instilled into our national psyche. Yet, we have had a painfully psychological, and at times very physical, struggle trying to turn this national belief into a national reality. We have learned from our long history of attempting to reconcile our fundamental beliefs with our country’s original sin of slavery, that when we as a nation say that we all are to receive equal rights under our laws while at the same time denying these rights to a segment of our society based on the color of their skin, our national psyche suffered deeply from it. We became dysfunctional, self-hating, and even came close to committing national suicide over it. The cognitive dissonance that occurs when saying one thing–that all men are created equal and are guaranteed equal rights under our laws–and then doing another–denying these equal rights based on race, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation–is not only detrimental to our national psyche, it is damning to our national soul.

Much more work still needs to be done to ensure homosexuals receive equal rights under our laws, but as a nation, we can go a long way to securing our national security and improving the health of our national psyche simply by allowing them to serve openly in the military.

So it was with much anticipation and high expectations that I watched today while Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen briefed the findings of the “Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and then answered reporters’s questions. After Gates and Mullen finished their brief, the Co-chairmen of the study, Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson and Army General Carter Ham, provided a more comprehensive overview of the report and answered reporters’s questions.

I am still plowing through the 267-page report, but based on what I learned from today’s briefings on it and my read of its executive summary, I am very impressed with its thoroughness and its results.

Secretary Gates was asked how he would respond to Senator McCain’s claim that the report is the wrong report. McCain, although an initial supporter of the survey, quickly began rejecting the results once they had started leaking out earlier in the month, saying that the survey wrongly focused on how to implement the repeal of DADT instead of focusing on how the repeal would impact military readiness. Gates responded to the question simply by saying that while he respects Senator McCain, the senator is wrong about his assessment of the survey. And from what I learned from what was briefed by the military and from my read of the report’s executive summary, I agree with Secretary Gates.

By shifting away from his original position on the survey, Senator McCain has made it clear that is doing nothing more than engaging in the Republican strategy of blocking any political success for the president and Democrats, regardless of the political costs to himself and his party. Consequently, I have little hope that DADT will be repealed during this lame duck congressional session. Both our national security and our national psyche will suffer for it.

http://www.pentagonchannel.mil/swf/flvPlayer.swf

DADT Confusion

[picappgallerysingle id=”8281946″]I’m really confused by all of the activity surrounding the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate recently. A week ago, the Senate blocked a bill that would repeal the law. On Thursday, a federal judge ruled that it was unconstitutional for the military to have discharged an Air Force officer because she was a lesbian. Immediately following the judge’s ruling, the the Justice Department filed an objection to the ruling. And still, during all this, the military continues to survey its servicemembers about how they would feel about serving in a military that allowed open homosexuality.

So what’s the deal? Does the federal ruling mean that homosexuals can now openly serve in the military? If so, how does this impact the 14,000 servicemembers who have already been kicked out because of their sexuality? Does congress still need to repeal the old DADT law or has this ruling effectively done that? Why is President Obama allowing his administration to object to the judge’s ruling and defend a law that he thinks is wrong to begin with? And what about the survey?

So many crazy questions surrounding this important civil rights debate.