Political Fiction

I’m going to keep this pretty short, but it is a topic that is worthy of multiple books.  I ask my readers; do you believe politics should be in books?

Sure, politics cannot be completely avoided, since the term politics covers a plethora of ideas and ideals.  Saying slavery is wrong for example is technically a political statement.  It may not be a controversial one anymore, but it is still political.  So, in that sense, writing an apolitical story is impossible.  On the other hand, writing a story that doesn’t overtly proselytize political ideals is possible and preferable.

Have you watched a show that suddenly delved deep into a political issue and beat you over the head with it?  If you watch any modern TV, I know you have.  Right now, that sort of thing is everywhere.  Personally, whether I agree or disagree with the topic, having politics shoved down my throat when I’m trying to enjoy a plot is annoying.

Supergirl is one of the worst offenders.  It often crosses the line of entertainment to political/social commentary almost every episode.  The show focuses so much on politics that the plot often takes a back seat.  This is a more extreme example, but Supergirl isn’t alone in doing this.  Political proselytizing is so common it is not just accepted but expected more and more.

I don’t know about you, but I feel the world is already overly saturated with politics, I don’t need that in fiction too.  Fiction, sports, video games, are all supposed to give us respite from the dredges of life.  They are supposed to speak truth, give us ideas to ponder, but not force-feed us.

What do you think though?  Do you like shows/books televangelizing political ideas?  Do you agree entertainment is becoming too saturated with politics?


Living in Lonely World

According to some, we live in a well-connected world while being lonelier than ever. Now I obviously haven’t conducted a scientific study to verify such a claim.  All I have are my observations, and from what I’ve seen loneliness seems to be prevalent.

The internet is wonderful.  It opened new forms of communication, new ways to conduct business, and most knowledge is readily available to the masses.  With our ability to stay in touch with everyone, there inevitably comes a downside.  We take it for granted.  We amass friends or followers on our social accounts, but we don’t invest.  We say we are too busy, yet binge watch our favorite TV show for eight hours.

From what I can tell, there is a social apathy that plagues America.  We want friends and crave to be connected, but at the same time few people want to put in the effort.  Yes, with relationships of any sort comes pain.  Humanity is flawed and unfortunately this is one of the many tragic results.  Some people fear the pain that will come, but the pain is only a small portion and is greatly outweighed by the good as long as the relationship is healthy.

Alone we cannot change the social apathy that is running rampant.  We can however change ourselves.  We can choose to try to spend less time invested in virtual “friendship” and instead pick up a phone and set up something to happen in person.  Despite what we tell ourselves, we really aren’t too busy to maintain a few relationships.  We really do need other people (and this is coming from an introvert) because it is how we were made.  We all need to choose to be better and do differently.  Only then will the sickness of loneliness be cured.

The Unexplained: Portal Hauntings

There are those who believe places exist in the world which serve as doorways for paranormal entities to enter our plain of existence.  These are known as “portal hauntings.” These are places where paranormal activity is not only reported, but there is a higher intensity and frequency compared to other known haunted locations.

Such places reportedly can have entity after entity removed or exercised only to have a continual flow of spiritual beings to take their place.  Some people have reported their children being victimized by such portal hauntings, resulting in multiple possessions of the child.

portal pic

According to investigator Rich Newman, Eureka Springs, Arkansas the entire town is a portal due to the sheer volume of hauntings that take place in the town.  Outside of a hotel, I had difficulty confirming this in my research.  True or not, it is conceivable that a town could be more afflicted by the paranormal than most places.

What makes these hauntings interesting and more unnerving is that they have the potential to unleash your nightmares into the physical world.  It makes me wonder if places like Skinwalker Ranch, and Freetown State Park, Massachusetts would fall into this category.  It is interesting to ponder at least.

What do you think about portal hauntings?  Have you experienced a place that is saturated with paranormal activity?







On Drama

Drama.  It’s something everyone who went to public High School is familiar with.  It isn’t a fond memory for people, but it certainly is a relatable topic.  Perhaps this is why High School-esque drama is often prevalent in young adult books and television.  Drama is compelling (even if we don’t want to admit it) and again it’s something we can all relate to.

The “will they won’t they” relationships make us guys groan most of the time, yet there is something engaging about them.  We still root for them (even if it is to have them get the tension over with and move the plot toward something else). Lana and Clark from the show Smallville is one of the more extreme examples.  At first there was a fun playfulness about them, but after awhile it got to be too much.  This is one of the major criticisms of the show, but it is far from alone on this front. This doesn’t always apply to young adult series, adult shows and books feature this too, sometimes to a larger degree depending on the story.

It’s fascinating to me that we are intrigued by something in fiction that most-likely was a source of pain and heartache when we experienced it in life.  Drama is one of the biggest genres on television (admittedly it is a rather vague category) which proves to me that people love it, despite complaining about its presence in fiction.

Yes, we complain about drama in fiction and in life.  These aren’t unfounded complaints; drama isn’t something we want too much of in our entertainment and rational people try to avoid it as much as possible in the real world.

What do think about drama?  Are you intrigued by it in a story or do you think it should be used sparingly?  What do you think is a good amount of drama in a story?

You Aren’t a Slave to Your Feelings

Over the last couple years, I’ve heard/read folks say that we cannot control our feelings.  By extension, what’s implied is that we aren’t responsible for who/what we are.

This is true to a degree.  Genetics and upbringing play the biggest roles in how who we are.  Yet, believing that is the end-all is determinism and something I frankly see little evidence for.  After all, people who want to change can and do if they put in the work.  Not every drug addict is killed from drugs.

I do also concede that initial feelings are not always controllable.  As a person who sometimes struggles with anxiety, I know this all too well.  Yet, I also know that what I feel is driven by my thoughts, especially if there are negative feelings that linger for prolonged periods.

The truth is that you and I are responsible for our actions.  It wasn’t our parent’s fault, not the bully’s fault, or anyone else’s no matter what the context is.  Yes, we can and should control our feelings, at minimum manage and reign them in.  As stated above, initial feelings may not always be controllable, but the idea that we are slaves to our feelings and it’s something we cannot help is utterly absurd and untrue.

It is human to struggle with our feelings; it is irresponsible to completely submit to them though.  Yes, you can control your feelings to some extent.  Not only is it possible it is imperative to become a functioning, responsible adult.

This is akin to the idea that we can “fall” in or out of love.  The idea is that love is something that happens to us and isn’t something we can control.  You can’t control who you are attracted to, but who you are in love with is very much a choice.  Love is action.  Love requires people to chose to wish for the best of their spouse and to sacrifice what they want for the other sometimes.  Being in love doesn’t mean a perpetual flood of endorphins.  True love isn’t a feeling, and it is very much something an individual has control over.

No, we aren’t slaves to our feelings.  Believing we are leads to dangerous logical conclusions.  If we aren’t able to control our feelings (which flow from our thoughts) at all then how can we be held responsible for our actions?  The answer is we can’t.  Justice wouldn’t exist.  We aren’t perfect and never will be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn and change.  Don’t lean into the untruth that we cannot control our feelings; it will lead to devastating effects.

The Power of Nature

There was a time in my life when I didn’t appreciate nature.  I grew up in Minnesota, and sometimes my family would take drives further north to look at the scenery and frankly, I was bored silly.  I didn’t get the appeal of looking at pines and lakes.  Then I entered the first years of adulthood and things changed.  I realized the power and beauty of nature.

Nature has an almost mystical quality about it.  The purity of it triggers something within the human consciousness, planting the seed of inspiration for those with creative spirits.  I realize that not all are able to enjoy the wilderness, especially in urban areas, however it is worth seeking out periodically.

Nature not only inspires creativity but can help with things such as anxiety and depression.  For me, when I have bouts of anxiety, walking in the woods is therapeutic in ways second to none.

So, take time and appreciate the world around you and its natural beauty.  Emerge yourself it it’s beauty and majesty.  Your body and soul will thank you for it, and if you’re creative then there is one more source of inspiration.

Growth Through Change

What is one of the best ways to grow?  Try new things.  Do you want to be better at writing?  Try a new genre, story-length, or style.  People love comfort.  We know intellectually that going beyond our comfort zone is necessary to grow, but we often don’t process that knowledge emotionally.

If you are like me and writing is where your heart lies, then you’ve tirelessly worked to polish your books and blog regularly.  You may have a book or two self-published, but realize that it is even more difficult to break into writing than you imagined.  After spending a few years patiently working at it you realize it’s time to change it up.

Substitute writing for any career choice and apply the same idea.  Many times, change needs to occur.  Some people simply don’t have what it takes to self-publish for example.  That doesn’t mean they cannot write well, but they do not have the savvy marketing abilities.  Outside help is needed in those situations whether the writer seeks a publicist, advice from a friend, or another publishing route.

If you aren’t making much progress in your goals after giving it ample time, don’t despair instead change things up.  Try a new avenue, and don’t give up.  Eventually you will find a formula that works.  Writing is filled with trial-and-error.

The Unexplained: Phantom Calls

*The Unexplained is a weekly series documenting strange and unusual phenomenon that inspire my writing.

It is a bright sunny afternoon, as you sit at your office desk getting work done.  The phone rings, the voice on the other line greets you by name in a merry tone, but that doesn’t alleviate your sudden onset of anxiety.  It is the voice of your deceased mother.  When the confusion clears long enough for you to ask follow up questions, the line goes dead.

There are several reports of people swearing they received calls from dead loved ones.  Those making such claims range from average Joe’s to famous people, notedly author Dean Koontz.  There are several accounts that can be found online from people claiming to have gotten calls from the dead.

phone pic

This phenomenon, like all things paranormal raise questions.  If the dead are communicating, why use a telephone?  Why aren’t more dead people calling to reassure their loved ones?  Is a phone easier for them to utilize?  More importantly, if these are spirits, how do we know they really are deceased loved ones and not something malevolent?

I would hope that I have conveyed that I am open-minded to the topic of the paranormal.  I can believe its possible people got calls from otherworldly beings.  It is also possible that some of these stories are pranks too.  With things like number spoofing and a person with a decent ability to imitate another’s voice, the prank option is a viable explanation for some of these calls.

As I’ve mentioned before, when dealing with the paranormal/supernatural it is impossible to know for sure what you are dealing with and its intentions.  Am I suggesting all these calls are made by demons?  No. I’m simply pointing out that it is impossible to know for certain.  It is known that a tactic demonic forces use is to disguise themselves in order to gain a foothold into someone else’s life.

Stories about receiving phantom calls are interesting and makes one ponder and the possibilities and questions they bring.  What’s important is what YOU think.  Have you received a phantom call or know someone who has?  What do you think they are?





I Don’t Wanna Write!

Do you always feel like writing?  I would guess the answer is the same to the question, “do you always want to eat chocolate?”  There are probably moments where writing is less attractive than others.  Nothing we love doing is appealing 100% of the time.

Some writers have more attraction to the art than others, but there comes a time when we need to put the manuscript, short story, or blog down for a moment and do something else.  If you’re like me and take your craft seriously this might induce guilt.  After all, if we are writers we need to perpetually write, right?  We need to crank out 2,000 words per day no matter the quality, no matter how we feel just to continue to hone our skills.

This is partially true.  As I’ve said before in previous blogs, writing daily, or at least very regularly is key.  Pursuing a goal often means doing something we don’t want to do or don’t feel like doing.  We need to learn how to push through our “I don’t want to do it,” feelings and write anyway.  We cannot wait for inspiration to come to us.  Sometimes what it takes to find inspiration is to open a Word document and start typing.  However, there is a balance to that idea.  Someone who has found motivation and regularly writes can take a break, even if that’s for an entire day.

The problem with taking writing breaks only comes when the break is extensive, and the writer is waiting weeks or longer for inspiration to just magically arrive.  If you claim to have “writer’s block” for six months, for example, then it’s more likely writing isn’t as big of a passion as you tell yourself (and that’s okay).

Days or moments will come when you just don’t have it in you to write much or at all.  Sometimes a manuscript needs to breathe, and it helps if we come back to it the next day.  If you need a break, take one, there is nothing wrong with that.  This is especially true if you’ve already learned the discipline of writing when you don’t feel like it.  Honestly, you are the best judge of when you should or shouldn’t write (again within the context of one who is disciplined).

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