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A Letter to IN State Senator Carlin Yoder

Senate vote

Roll call of votes on SB 1 by IN State Senate members.

I apologize. This is not my normal subject matter of my posts, which pertain to writing (albeit I could argue it is letter writing); however, after the approval of SB 1 in my home state of Indiana, I am feeling quite passionate and decided I needed to write my IN State Senator, Carlin Yoder, of District 12 an email. I recommend that fellow Hoosiers see how both their IN State Representative and IN State Senator voted and write them letters as well, because no matter what party you favor, you should be appalled that the voices of 1.3 million voters were ignored.
(Side Note: I promise this will probably be the first and last time, I dabble in politics on here.)
Sent 8:10 p.m. 2/17/2015
Mr. Yoder,

I will start this email by stating that I have voted for you in several past elections, both while I lived in Elkhart County and then this past election after I moved to Turkey Creek Township. After researching the other candidates, I felt you were the best to do the job for our district; however, after your vote on SB1, I have to say you have lost mine. I cannot vote for a politician who would vote yea to allowing the nullification of 1.3 million votes and the changing of an elected position — one that has been voted on by Hoosiers for more than 100 years — into that of an appointed position.

Hoosiers, no matter their party lines, should be frightened and outraged by the actions you and your colleagues have taken. You have taken us to a dangerous precedence. Where does it stop? If future ruling party is not happy, can they too just pass a bill and erase the “undesirable” outcome? I just keep coming back to 1.3 million votes. Do you realize how impressive that number is? We live in an era where voter turn out is quite low, and there is just a feeling of apathy, particularly among young voters. Yet 1.3 million voters turned out and voted for Ms. Ritz — more than what turned out to vote for Mr. Pence.
What message does this bill give voters who usually don’t hit the polls? It tells them exactly what they have told themselves every other election: My vote doesn’t matter. For their own reasons, 1.3 million Hoosiers were passionate about this election, about Ms. Ritz. Why should they be passionate again? After all, their vote was thrown out.
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” Our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, said these words while delivering his Gettysburg Address. I feel you along with others in Indianapolis have forgotten this concept. How can a government be of the people, by the people and for the people if votes can be thrown out and elected positions changed to being appointed at the whim of the party in control? To me that seems like removing the people, and I don’t care if Ms. Ritz is “just a librarian” or there was “dysfunction.” Ms. Ritz was elected by Hoosiers for a reason: They did not like where Republicans were taking education.

Rather than taking such drastic measures that discount how our country functions and throws out the votes of so many, why not smooth out such “dysfunction” and actually work together rather than being so stuck to a party’s agenda. Because you see, that is what is wrong with our country: Politicians can’t work together anymore and actually complete a job. No, they just do whatever their party wants, ignoring the people for whom the government is suppose to be for.

In all this shameful maneuvering, I’m just grateful that one politician elected to serve my district had the gull to stand against his party and stand for democracy. I was so proud to see that Rep. Nisly listened to the people and respected democracy enough to not nullify 1.3 million votes.

I can only hope that come election time Hoosiers will remember the names of all those who voted for this upheaval of democracy and vote them out. Politicians who voted yea on this bill are dangerous. While we’d like to believe that our democracy cannot fall — that what has happened in other countries’ histories, can’t happen here in the U.S.– that it is not the case. Ironically, today, the day of the vote, I came across a quote given recently by Margaret Atwood: “Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here.’ Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” You and your colleagues have put the building blocks in place.

I hope in the future that you will not be so locked into doing what your party demands and will do what is best for your constituents.

Sincerely,

Sarah Wright

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Short Story: Mule

Today I’m sharing a short story written by fellow writer Jon Brierley that sprung from a writing prompt I posted last week — writing prompt #9. Jon, who lives in the North of England, is voracious reader who mainly writes comic fantasy and parodies. He describes himself as mostly unpublished and very much unpaid, leading him to have a day job. Offers of drink are always acceptable. Dreadful puns are at no extra charge.

Jon’s current WIP is a series of interlinked fantasy stories featuring his character, Aiella, and her companion, Dartea, who also features in this short story.

Jon’s blog can be found at sloopjon1960.wordpress.com. Be sure to check it out since bits of his writing may appear there. Book reviews, Jon’s love of history, his writing experiences also make appearances.

So without further ado, here is “Mule.”

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You’ve Got to Spend Money to Make Money: How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish?

Often times as we write our stories, we seldom consider what the cost of seeing them to print can be. Currently, one of the books I’m reading (will post a full review very soon) states in its “Publish Thy Self” section that in an ultimate worse-case scenario an self-published author can end up with $20,000 worth of debt on their credit card and a basement filled with unsold books. Of course, this is definitely not the fate of every indie author, because with good common sense practices, you don’t have to go deep into debt to see your dreams come true.

My good friend, Kylie Betzner, outlines some of the costs indie writers face. It truly is eye-opening.

Kylie Betzner

We’ve all heard the saying: “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” But how is that relevant to writers? It’s not like we’re running our own business. Or are we? In many respects, writing for a living is just like running a business. You’ve got to create an excellent product and brand. You have to build the platform from which you’ll market your books, and so on and so forth. Sounds like a business to me. And like any business, the key to success is investment.

So, how much should you invest in the creation of your novel? That’s a tricky question, considering there is no set payoff. It’s not like Amazon purchases your novel upfront. But there are several things to consider.

Your Personal Budget. You can’t spend what you don’t have. If you’re drafting a novel, start saving for preproduction costs now!

Expected Earnings. It’s not a secret that self-published…

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22 tips from Stephen King

Some really great nuggets of advice here; in particular, I’m trying to realize tip 18 at the moment.

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Polling Prompted: Choices, Choices

Hey everybody, polling has begun for this week’s prompted challenge on TipsyLit. Vote for me or any of the other writers, just take time to read the entries and support a fellow writer!

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Prompted: Should be Banned

This is a very good writing prompt. Often times when I write, I find myself wondering how some of the characters, themes, or topics will be received, particularly by some of my family members. But with a prompt like this, you just go for it; you tackle those topics that will have some complaints because you have the free reign to do so. I highly recommend taking that leap and just going for it — I’m sure you will find it liberating. It might even give you the courage to take risks and tackle your stories the way you envision them without the fear of any backlash. Let’s face it as writers we will always face backlash, because we can’t win them all.

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Feeling naughty? Read a banned book

mockingbird

One of my all-time favorites

Across the U.S., libraries have been gearing up for Banned Books Week, which was started by the American Library Association. The week promotes intellectual freedom and the right for individuals to express thoughts that might be unorthodox or unpopular — and for readers to be able to read those thoughts. This year’s Banned Book Week starts today and runs until Sept. 28,

Books get challenged or banned for different reasons; from religious reasons to being considered sexually provocative or violent, there truly is a wide gamut of reasons individuals try to remove books from libraries, particularly citing the access children have to these books. According to the ALA website, 5,099 books were challenged from 2000-2009. Of those challenge books, the break down is visible below:

  • 1,577 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,291 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 989 challenges due to materials deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 619 challenged due to “violence”‘ and
  • 361 challenges due to “homosexuality.”

Some of my all-time favorite books are challenged or have been so in the past, and include “The Harry Potter” series, “Of Mice and Men,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and many more. So it makes me exceedingly happy to be able to access these books: as it should make you as well. So this week stop by your local library and check out a banned or challenged book and revel in being able to do so. Or perhaps, relive one of your favorite banned books, particularly if it is one that you remember from your adolescence. Show challengers that they cannot ban or censor what you choose to read.

So what is your favorite(s) banned book? Share them below in the comment section!

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Ten Days To Go!

Small Teapot

Where did all my clean tea cups go? Oh wait, I’ve used them all…

Wow, it is hard to believe after this post, I only have 10 more days to go until February concludes and then I can enjoy a brief period of crashing and focus more on my writing/read-through.

When I started my own blog-no-wrimo, I severely underestimated how time consuming it would be, especially since with each post I try to make them as informative as possible.

Even so, this experience has been a learning experience, and I’ve still been able to make progress with my read-through, though still not quite as much as I had envisioned — but once again, I severely miscalculated. However, there is still NaNoEdMo to catch up and then begin the querying process. I am also looking forward to possibly changing gears and switching back over to my Sci-Fi novel in April.

First, must get through February! So here’s to 10 more days of blog posting and hopefully some helpful writing articles, tips and prompts.

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What I didn’t expect when I applied to the local paper

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Hi, I’m page filler!

I had never really wanted to get into journalism — no, I had grandiose dreams of entering the publishing industry, where I would work my way up. However, once graduation came, reality hit. The industry was changing and there was a recession, which was changing everything. Jobs were scare and openings required experience — something I, fresh out of college, did not have. To get by, I turned to retail. It was a dead-end job that I hated.

One day a former elementary school teacher of mine suggested I put in an application at the local paper, which I did. I was through the roof when I got the email several months down the road asking if I was still looking for a job. The interview went favorable and here I am a year and a half later and still employed by the local newspaper. Here are some of things that I never expected when I went to work:

  • I knew the company owned several publications from the two weekly local papers to month and bi-monthly magazines, but I never suspected that I would work on almost all them, which makes from some crazy deadlines. However, the level of experience provided has just been astronomical and well-rounded. The variety of subjects is also very refreshing from local news and meetings to animals, home decor and gardening.
  • I never expected to do the amount of traveling I do, from weekly trips to Goshen to going as far as South Bend and Rochester. It is always nice to get out of the office, minus when you have to do so during a bad snowstorm.
  • That I would work on a monthly magazine that reaches municipal departments and elected officials in fourteen states and handles topics geared toward municipalities. I never expected I would be regularly calling places in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, etc., and talking to officials there. This is truly one of my favorite experiences.
  • That I would walk out to the middle of a frozen lake with only three to four inches of ice just to get ice fishing photos. I have seldom been as unnerved as I was then, especially since at the time I had no idea how thick the ice was… it was also my first time out on a frozen lake.
  • I never imagined I would find myself swarmed and surrounded by turkeys… they kind of creep me out, but after being around them, I began to see their charms and their silly personalities. Along this line, I never thought I would be in a pen with giant diary cows. I’m a farm girl, but I have had unpleasant experiences with cows, so it took a lot of effort for me to remain calm when walking amongst them.

It truly has been quite the experience, and I am eternally grateful I was given the opportunity. I am sure there will be many more unexpected experiences in the future, and I will look forward to them.

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My personal seven deadly writing sins

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The first step is realizing you have a problem… and then you procrastinate further while examining the problem — or by examing your pencil while never putting it to paper to, umm, write.

We all have them — and if you claim not to, you are lying — namely, writing sins. They are things you do that you know you shouldn’t do. Some writers might might actually have more than seven writing sins, but lets face it, seven is much more manageable — plus, there is the whole biblical seven sins… parallelism and all.

But I digress, for today, I’m sharing my seven deadly writing sins.

  1. Procrastination: This is my absolute top writing sin. I will sit down and start typing or editing and then suddenly I’m on Facebook, Deviantart, a forum, Youtube, etc. On the flip-side, sometimes I will plan to start working on a project and then postpone it for one reason or another — and never a good one. To combat this, I started to exercise regularly, which has increased my energy levels and focus.
  2. Redundancy: I can be a little redundant with my writing, and I have to practice constant vigilance. I will repeat facts and sentiments, continually reuse certain words, or write statements that are not really needed.
  3. Too much telling: We all know the old adage: show don’t tell. However, sometimes it is alright to tell, just don’t do it too often since all things must be done in moderation. Sometimes, I cross that line… and catch my slips during revisions.
  4. Self-doubt: We all have those moments when we think that ‘oh, it’s not that good,’ ‘I will never catch the eye of an agent/publisher,’ etc. I am not immune to this despite often having a decently sized ego. I just try to squish that annoying voice down where it is not so vocal and plod along on my merry way.
  5. Wordiness: My sentences have a way of holding too many words (some nothing more than clutter).  It is often true a few probably suffice and work better than the many. However, despite knowing my tendencies, I don’t worry so much about this writing sin while writing; instead, I save tackling it for edits.
  6. Sentence Variation: This kind of ties in with my redundancy writing sin since I can be very redundant with sentence variation, favoring certain structures over others. This results in certain structures taking over the novel and leading to the realm of boring. This is another sin I fix in revisions.
  7. That: This ties in with wordiness since often times the word “that” is unnecessary. I became aware of the cluttering nature of “that” when I started as a staff writer. I then proceeded to de-clutter my manuscript by removing unnecessary that’s. The key to finding these ‘clutterers’ is to read aloud a sentence both with and without “that.” If the sentence sounds good without “that,” delete it.

What are your seven deadly writing sins? Blog about them and include a link below.

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