Greatness in Diversity

A while back, President-Elect Trump’s staff posted a page requesting feedback on how we Americans thought we could “Make America Great.” I took the opportunity to respond. My response is below, with some minor editing.

you-belong-here-11x17What makes America great is its people. All its people. We are a nation of immigrants, and we must respect the rights of all–those who arrived in the last few months, few years, few centuries. After all, no one but those indigenous to this nation are native here. We all came from somewhere else.

So first, acts like this must stop.  You, President-Elect Trump, have a powerful pulpit. While all Americans must speak out forcefully against racist, sexist, homophobic attacks, your voice in particular must be heard loud and clear.

Some of your supporters seem to think your election has freed them from human decorum and kindness, allowing them to say or do whatever hateful thing they wish. It has not. We still must be respectful of one another. Kind to one another. Hateful acts worsen and coarsen our country. They bleed away our greatness, making us LESS THAN the magnificent country we can be.

Once you’ve done your part to restore civility and kindness to our nation, then you can begin to put in place the policies you think will make this country greater. But please keep in mind you are not just president of the ones who voted for you. You are president of the ones who didn’t vote for you and the ones who didn’t vote at all. Not all of us will agree that your policies are what’s best for our country and its people. We may speak out against them. That’s our right as Americans.

So do your best, Mr. Trump, for all Americans. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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Solace in Cats

dsc_2680cssI’m one of those who’s still dealing emotionally with the election last month. I’ve been reeling from horror story to horror story, my stomach in knots. I can’t say things are looking any brighter close to a month afterwards.

I’m finding a modicum of comfort in my cats. Yes, I’m an admitted Cat Lady, even though I only own two. With our empty nest and my grandkids living so far away, pressing my ear to the side of a purring cat and petting their soft fur can be a welcome distraction.

tenka-bedI’ve been doing a terrible job as a blogger and sometimes would just as soon shut it down. Especially now when things are looking dark for our country. But I’m taking another stab at it. Not sure where I’m going from here, and I hope it won’t be nothing but cats. But for now, here are a couple of contented felines that make my world a little brighter.

Posted in Cats Horses and Other Pets, Strongly Held Beliefs | 2 Comments

Light at the End of the Tunnel

In the literal sense rather than figurative. My granddaughter wanted to sit in the first car of the DC Metro Red Line, and we managed to get the front seat. I couldn’t resist a little video.

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Aww, Go Fly a Kite

KiteWell, it seemed like a great idea at the time. Go to the park and fly kites. The breeze was pretty brisk in DC today, and the nearby soccer field wasn’t in use, so a great opportunity to get the kites into the air.

Oh, and did I mention the tall trees lining one side of the soccer field? I’ll get to those in a moment.

My granddaughter was having some trouble getting her smaller kite into the air, so her dad helped her get the larger kite up. She was doing great. She got it up so high she was at the end of the string, and both the kite and my granddaughter were proud and happy. I was meanwhile doing my best to get her little one to fly, but did I mention I suck at flying kites?

This next part wasn’t my fault at all, though. Really, it was the wind’s fault. The wind and physics. The pull of the kite got so strong that it pulled the handle of the string holder right out of my granddaughter’s hand. My son took off after the handle as it scooted along the grass. But he wasn’t fast enough.

One of the trees lining the field was plenty fast though. It snatched up the yellow handle of the kite’s string holder, and zip, pulled it about twenty feet up into the branches (okay, the wind pulled it, not the tree). Next thing you know, the tree is flying the kite, not us. Nor did the tree seem inclined to give the kite back.

So, now the conundrum. How do we unhook the handle from the tree branch without losing the whole thing, kite, string, and all? Luckily, along came a man who’d come to walk his dog and we conscripted him onto the CSI: Kite Rescue Edition team. With his help, we tossed the other kite’s string over the branch where the yellow handle was caught. Unfortunately, although we could jiggle the branch, we couldn’t get the yellow handle to work free.

Then I noticed a few PVC poles with soccer flags on one end and a metal stake on the other. With the assistance of the dog walker, we cobbled together three poles and by pulling the branch lower with the other string, we got the yellow handle free. Unfortunately, the rest of the string was still caught in the tree.

So now we were controlling the kite, more or less, but further unfortunately, we apparently couldn’t fly the kite as well as the tree could. The kite stuttered in the sky, then gave up the ghost, falling into a tree across the street. We were about to go over and ask the homeowner to give us a call when the kite fell when I suggested we cut the string so we could get it out of the tree.

Once the tension in the string was gone, the kite started sliding out of the tree. By the time we ran across the street, the kite had fallen on the roof of a neighboring house. While we watched, it slowly slid down the roof into my son’s hand.

20160508_174051At that point, I think the kite said, “I meant to do that.” It might have even snickered a little about how well the tree had kept it in the air. Although it did admit my granddaughter had done a pretty good job flying it too.

It took a while to reel in all that string. As we headed home we pretty much laughed all the way.

The kite wasn’t the least bit apologetic.

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E-book Meet Book-Book

Kindle BookmarkYes, I’m using my Amazon Kindle as a bookmark in my paper book. I enjoy reading both ways. How about you? Are you strictly an ereader fan? Sticking to paper books only? Or do you cross-read?

What if a parent only read to their child using an ereader or tablet? Do you think their child would ever explore paper books? I think they would. Kids love to manipulate things with their hands, and there’s a whole world of sensation and textures in a book-book.

So I do think babies would still be gumming their board books, and toddlers would still flip through their first picture books with avid anticipation of the next page. Older kids would still want to curl in a corner with a chapter book, lingering over each illustration. Because a story is a story, in whatever form.

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Screenplay to Novel or the Many Lives of CLEAN BURN

Karen_CleanBurn300dpi750x1200I’ve written here and here about how I took a sci-fi movie script I’d written and turned it into the Tankborn YA trilogy. By the time I did that adaptation of the ICER script, I’d made the choice to focus on writing novels rather than screenplays because as difficult as it is to get a book traditionally published, it is even more monumentally, nigh onto impossibly difficult to get a script produced.

Just as I loved the story I’d written for the script ICER, I really loved and believed in the story in the screenplay version of my mystery suspense, CLEAN BURN. So when I decided to try my hand at mystery, continuing my break from writing romance (which is how I’d cut my teeth as a novelist), I decided to use the ready-made story in the CLEAN BURN script.

HangtownThere were changes of course. Stuff cut out, new stuff added. The already twitchy, could-make-coffee-nervous main character, Janelle Watkins, was even twitchier in the novel. The book sold and its sequel, HANGTOWN, were published, then sort of unpublished. Now the books are available again in print (CLEAN BURN, HANGTOWN) and ebook.

I thought it would be fun to show how a scene from the original screenplay for CLEAN BURN translated into novel form. It’s hard to find an exact one-for-one since the forms are so different, but I picked a scene from early in the book that illustrates how the adaptation worked.


Clean Burn Script

And the equivalent scene from the novel:

Clean Burn Novel

A lot more words in the novel to say the same thing. In a book, you’re admonished to “Show, don’t tell.” In a script, you count on the actor, the director of photography, and the set decorator to do a great deal of the showing so that doesn’t need to be on the page. It’s far harder to leave out all that description as you have to do in a script than to put it in as you do in a novel. That’s why, to me, a novel, with all its many words, is far easier to write.


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7 Jewish Authors Get Personal About Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism: hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group. —Merriam-Webster

When I was asked to put together a roundtable discussion on anti-Semitism, I admit I felt like a fraud when I agreed. My Jewish dad “converted” to Catholicism when he married my mom (although the conversion never really stuck), so my three sisters and I were all raised as Catholics. I remember arguing with a Jewish girl in my grade school class about Jesus (not trying to convert her, but in disagreement as to his significance). And I never set foot in a synagogue while I was growing up.

But then there was that time when I was six or seven when the Brownie troop told me that there wasn’t any room for me (although there was for my best friend), and my mom told me it was because my dad was Jewish. There was that day I learned that the care home where my Alzheimer-afflicted dad lived had included him in a church activity despite his records indicating he was Jewish. And then there was the very scary day when Nazi-Twitter attacked me and my friends came to my rescue and got the hateful tweets blocked.

So I may be a stealth Jew, but I’m Jewish. And when I asked seven Jewish authors to write essays on their everyday experiences with anti-Semitism, I was startled by how familiar their stories were to me.

We’re lucky that in the United States anti-Semitism is only rarely expressed violently. But the most recent ADL Global 100 study, a survey commissioned annually by the Anti-Defamation League, found that ten percent, or about 24 million individuals in the US harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. And as you’ll see in the essays below, there are likely many more people who would never consider themselves anti-Semitic, but who confront the Jewish people they meet with micro-aggressions that can be exasperating, heartbreaking, and even frightening.

Here’s the question I asked these seven authors:

How have you seen anti-Semitism expressed, either in the media, on the internet, or in your personal lives?

And this is how they answered. Read more.

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