Hypergraffiti

Where I spray-paint my thoughts…


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Women’s Suffrage Trivia — Day One

All this week I’ll be posting trivia facts and questions about how women won the right to vote, in honour of my novel A Sudden Sun coming out later this week. I’m not sure how exactly I’m going to work it out but there will be some free books involved for at least some of those who participate, so check either here on the blog or on Facebook if you have me on Facebook for a daily trivia post/question about women’s suffrage. Here’s today’s trivia question:

katesheppard

This woman, Kate Sheppard, fought for women’s right to vote in the country which in 1893 became the first self-governing country in the world to give ALL women the right to vote in parliamentary elections. NAME THE COUNTRY!!

 


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A Season of Shameless Self-Promotion (with, yes, a book giveaway)

kingdom_of_the_heart_morgan-cole_i_coverYes, it’s that time again. I have a book coming out. Books, in fact. Which is great. But also awkward, from a social media point of view, because it’s such a difficult line to walk — how, and how much, to promote your own work.

On the one hand, you have to do it. No writer can exist in the social media world today without talking about his or her own work: helping to promote it to readers is part of your job.

On the other hand, nobody wants to be Todd Manley-Krauss. And every writer is secretly afraid that they are — afraid of being the one whose self-promotion is so shameless that people start unfriending you. If you don’t think it’s a difficult balance to strike, then you’ve probably never tried to promote your own work, in any field (or else you actually are Todd Manley-Krauss).

So here’s the deal: I’ll be talking about this stuff here on the blog a little bit over the next few weeks — here on the blog, and on Facebook (amidst my vacation photos), and on Twitter. I have a new book coming out next week. And an old book of mine has just been re-released in a new format. And as a writer, it’s my job to make sure that if you are interested in either of those, you know that they’re out there and where to get them. And if you’re not, to avoid boring you so much that you stop hanging out with me in cyberspace.

Today I want to talk to you about Kingdom of the Heart, because with all the promotion I’m going to be doing for A Sudden Sun over the next few weeks, Kingdom might get a little lost in the shuffle. So here’s the story:

Back about 1989 or 1990, I wrote what was, for many years, my favourite thing I’d ever written. This was before I started writing historical fiction about Bible characters; this was almost the opposite. I tried (not the only writer to do so by a long shot) to imagine Jesus coming as an everyday person in today’s world, doing and saying the things he said and did the first time, but in a modern North American context. I loved that book, and it was published in 1991 under the title The Man from Lancer Avenue. Some people read it and also loved it (presumably others read it and didn’t like it, but I didn’t hear from them) and in due course, a few years later, it went out of print. End of story.

Awhile back I was contacted by Pacific Press Publishing Association about re-issuing The Man from Lancer Avenue as an e-book. I thought that this would be a great way to make an out-of-print novel available to new readers in the digital age — in fact, I did it myself by self-publishing The Violent Friendship of Esther Johnson as an e-book re-release — so I was eager to do the same for Lancer Avenue. The idea grew with time, and it ended up involving somewhat of a rewrite — I wanted to bring the story and characters into the twenty-first century. Also, Pacific Press asked me to create a condensed version of the book for a print release. This is the book that’s currently available under the new title Kingdom of the Heart — the e-book of the whole story will be out in a few months.

The complete book tells the story from the point of several characters who more-or-less correspond to modern-day versions of Jesus’ disciples. The condensed print version focuses on just two of those characters — Marie Castillo, a contemporary Mary Magdalene, and Pete Johnson, my updated apostle Peter. Marie and Pete, along with their families and friends, both meet up with an unconventional street preacher named Chris Davidson who allegedly has the power to heal the sick, and who invites ordinary people to leave their jobs, homes and families behind to follow him.

Kingdom of the Heart is a short book, novella-length, and it’s available for only $2.99 (US) at this link. I also have some copies to give away, and I’ll gladly send them to the first five people who post here or email me at trudyj65@hotmail.com and tell me why you’d like to have this book.

If you’d like to read the whole story, look for the e-book, which will be out later this year. I’ll let you know … and I’ll try not to be too annoying in the process!

 


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Writing Wednesday 83 Book Talk: The Liveship Traders

In fantasy, as in many other genres, there are a lot more people who think they can write a novel than people who actually can. I love reading fantasy but I don’t think I’m one of those who can write it — at least, not at this stage in my career. Maybe someday. In this video I talk about the work of Robin Hobb, one of my two favourite fantasy authors, and I tell you the one thing that I believe you need in order to write a great fantasy novel.


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August 11

mom

My mom, Joan “Sue” (Ellis) Morgan, would have been 80 years old today. It never occurred to me that she would not live to be 80, and it seems trite to say I miss her every day, because I miss her several times every day.

I wish she had seen her 80th birthday but, as I see others of her generation growing older and hear about what friends experience with their aging parents, I’m well aware I would only wish that for her if she could have reached eighty years in good health and full independence.

In the “small mercies” category I will always be grateful that my mom remained fully herself and engaged with her life almost to the very moment of her death. In the “large blessings” category I am grateful for the 78 years of life she lived, the people she touched, and the unconditional love she always showed me.


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Certainty

russellquote

A Facebook friend shared this on her wall the other day, and I find in looking around the web that it’s a favourite quote by that crusty old atheist Bertrand Russell (although it’s possible that the more accurate form of the quote is: “The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Same concept, anyway).

I’ve thought a lot about faith and doubt, certainty and uncertainty, lately. Mostly because of the crisis in Gaza, and the way my Facebook feed is flooded with posts by people who seem to know exactly who is to blame and exactly what they’re doing wrong. Judging by social media, about half my friends are convinced that the state of Israel is the evil empire harrassing innocent Palestinian civilians, while the other half is convinced that Hamas are murdering terrorists who will wipe Israel off the map given a chance.

And I just think, it’s awful. It’s so awful. I’m moved by the images of suffering in Gaza, and I hate even thinking about the whole Israel/Palestine situation — as I tell my students when we take a day or two to briefly glance at the topic in our overview of 20th century history, this is going to be the most depressing day of the whole course, because it’s an intractable problem that produces lots of violence and has no easy solutions.

But what I can’t get over is how sure people are, and how hard it is for me to grasp that kind of certainty. Is Israel doing terrible things in the occupied territories and violating the human rights of the Palenstinian people? Without doubt, it is. Would Hamas terrorists try to destroy Israel if the harsh Israeli rule was lifted? Almost certainly, yes. Are there legitimate claims and grievances on both sides? Yes. Has great evil been done by people on both sides? Absolutely.

And then I think (because I can’t think about Gaza too long and keep going on with my everyday life), I’m just this way about everything. I find it so hard to be sure of anything, and I can’t understand why people around me seem to find it so easy to take sides. Even something like abortion — my pro-life and my pro-choice friends are both so effortlessly certain that they’re right and I can’t even imagine having that kind of certainty about an issue where it seems so clear to me that both sides are absolutely right, and completely incompatible.

I’ve written in the past about doubt and the role that it plays in my spiritual life, how I’ve tried to become comfortable with not having all the answers and not knowing everything. Yet as I get older I feel less and less certain about everything — not just my faith but all these hot-topic issues that other people find it so easy to take sides on. I’d like to take solace in that Bertrand Russell quote and believe that I’m unsure of things because I’m so wise, but the fact is, many of the people I know who are absolutely certain about something are not fools. They’re pretty smart people, often much smarter and better-informed than I am. The problem is, equally smart people come down on the opposite side of the same question, leaving me no better off than before.

So I don’t think I’m wise exactly … I just think maybe there are certain types of brains that are more shaped for seeing all sides of an issue, and I have one of those, and it makes it hard to choose a definite side. And there are positive aspects to this, like empathy and, hopefully, being willing to listen and learn, as well as negative sides, like being wishy-washy and unsure sometimes.

I feel like this uncertainty is deepening with age — that as I approach age 50 I may be losing the ability to see in black and white at all, and viewing the world as an ever-shifting palette in infinite shades of grey.

Approaching 50 … shades of grey …

Fifty Shades of Grey is a terrible, terrible book and it will be a terrible movie. I utterly loathe this horrific waste of paper and pixels, and denounce it as a Christian, as a feminist, and, most importantly as a writer and a lover of literature.

What a relief! Apparently there are still a few things I can be certain about!!

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