Ruins of Castle Hanstein near Bornhagen, Germany

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Vietnam War protestors demonstrate - Wichita, KS, 1967.

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Solingen, Germany after the bombing, November 1944. - Stadtarchiv Solingen

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My grandmother Grete with her sisters in the early 1920s in Germany.

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B17 Bomber above German Airfield in WWII

U.S. Bomber flies above German airfield in WWII. More »

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Taking the Leap

http://wie-lebt-man.tumblr.com - sexcam

This morning I was reading on the Writers Unboxed blog about how readers who don’t like the book you wrote may post bad reviews. The author talked about the content kicking off the reader’s imagination and that sometimes a reader is just not taken by a story. Whether it’s not to their taste, period, or as the author mentioned, not the right timing is immaterial. The fact is the story isn’t working for that particular reader. I agree because it happens to me all the time so why would it be any different for other people.

So what I wanted to write about today was my venture into publishing a first novel and how doing so will expose me to the world, including readers who may not like it. Naturally, I’m hard at work with my editor to create the best possible story. A story that entertains and moves and somewhere deep down has meaning. A DIFFERENT TRUTH is a young adult historical mystery, a parallel to the Vietnam War when the country was divided between pro-military establishment and peace movement and young men’s fates depended on lotteries. Taking place at a military prep school, it’s about a boy and his best friend, it’s about standing up for someone when everyone is against you, about hazing and hatred and not fitting in. Ultimately, it’s about standing up for what’s right.

people protesting the Vietnam war with soldiers standing in front of them

Vietnam protest Pentagon

Over the years I’ve read my fair share of books, usually I’m enjoying two or three at a time. I read young adult, the audience I mostly write for, historical fiction and books on craft as well as the books of authors in my network, no matter what they write. I’ve completed five manuscripts with many revisions each, collected feedback from writers in my critique groups for years.

I think I’ve done my homework. Yet there is this nagging thought of inadequacy. What if it’s not good enough? It’s like standing on the five-meter board in the public pool with everyone watching you make that first leap. It’s public and it’s personal. At the same time, if you’re serious about writing (which I am) and you consider writing your career for the foreseeable future (which I do) then there comes this point of no return.

You must go out and show your face, ignore the inner voices of angst and doubt, ignore the nervous jitters of showing yourself in public and stepping in front of your audience. You go and leap. For better or worse.

Preliminary Intro to A DIFFERENT TRUTH

In 1968, with the Vietnam War at its bloodiest, sixteen-year old Andy Olson is banished to Palmer Military Academy. Along with his best friend, Tom, he is plunged into a world where rules are everything and disobedience not an option. Andy doesn’t care about politics and grows increasingly irritated when Tom openly supports the peace movement. Messing with the establishment or Andy’s bullying teammates is dangerous—underestimating fanatics like Officer Muller, the tormentor of plebes a mistake.

It’s hard enough to make it through each day, avoid counselor Beerbelly’s spying eyes and extra marching. As long as Andy can play football and pursue his new love interest in town, he’ll do what they ask and count the days to graduation. But when Tom dies after being discovered lashed to a tree and the school calls it an unfortunate accident, Andy must decide whether to obey orders or finally take a stand and look for the killer.

Would You Like Some Styrofoam with Your Doughnut?

How Chain Hotels Poison Us and the Environment

This post is a bit off my usual subjects, but I’m feeling pretty strongly about it so I wanted to share. Lately I’m traveling quite a bit, staying in typical mid-range hotels. I’ve been annoyed for a while now about hotel breakfasts.

I guess years ago hotels didn’t offer any breakfast, but now that they do, I wonder if we weren’t better off before. Have you taken a good look at what’s being served to middle-class America? We get sweet rolls, sugary cereal, donuts, apple juice from a machine, cardboard waffle dough from another machine, fake butter and if we’re lucky assorted premade eggs and meat patties.

What we eat is processed and sugary without nutritional value, clogging our arteries and sending our body into insulin overdrive.

Good morning, America.

Even worse is the uncontrolled usage of Styrofoam or expanded polystyrene foam plates and cups. Last month, I attended a week-long seminar near Memphis. The garbage cans in the breakfast room were overflowing with Styrofoam and plastic utensils. The same scenario happens in thousands of hotels and restaurants across the nation every day.

Styrofoam cup with coffee and two doughnuts

By cvilletomorrow (originally posted to Flickr as Spudnuts Sampler)

Why? Because it’s cheap! Saving a buck is the name of the game in corporate America, no matter what its long-term effects to our health and that of our children.

A Word about Styrofoam

  • The EPA and cancer research suspects that styrene is carcinogenic. 57 chemical byproducts are released when it is burned.
  • During manufacturing workers who are exposed to styrene develop acute health effects, including irritation of the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal effects. Chronic exposure attacks the central nervous system, causing symptoms such as depression, headache, fatigue, and weakness as well as may cause minor effects on kidney function and blood.
  • In 1986 the EPA reported that Styrofoam was considered the fifth largest contributor of hazardous waste in the U.S.
  • Toxic chemicals leach from Styrofoam, especially when heated (think about your nice hotel cup of coffee in the morning), attack your health and reproductive system.
  • The production of Styrofoam releases hydrocarbons into the air where in the presence of sunlight they combine with nitrogen oxides, forming tropospheric ozone. Ozone is a horrific air pollutant that reduces lung-function, leads to chest pain, coughing, wheezing, and pulmonary congestion. Your beloved pet dog experiences permanent structural damage to its lungs.


What You Can Do

Why don’t we all request from our political leadership and every time we visit a hotel or restaurant that this practice is changed. How difficult is it to replace Styrofoam with recycled paper-based products? How much more does it really cost.

Why don’t we ask hotels for higher quality breakfast items like fresh fruits, granola and plain yoghurt?

Not sweet enough for you? There is always a doughnut shop around the corner.