Saturday, November 18, 2017

Cat Tails Blog

Cat Tails War Zone is a charity anthology co-edited by Dana Bell and myself to benefit Shadow Cats, a cat rescue out of Round Rock, Texas. Shadow Cats does amazing work in several areas: feeding feral colonies, sheltering FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus ) positive cats who can recover from the illnesses which were previously thought to be fatal with proper food, rest, and shelter. They also work to find forever homes for adoptable cats and kittens.

My husband and I learned about this rescue from our veterinarian, Dr. Roy B. Smith, who runs the rescue with his wife, Sheila. While we lived in Austin, we volunteered for them. Here’s a picture of our Shadow Cat, SamWise, who was an amazing animal:

What we’re looking for are stories where cats were helpers to a war effort. There actually are many real-life examples of cats protecting ancient temples, guarding soldier’s food supplies from rodents, and keeping troop morale up by serving as a unit mascot. If you’re interested in seeing real-life examples of cats helping, here’s an article from PetMD:

http://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/seasonal/five-cats-of-war

At the moment, we have stories ranging from the Vikings to the future. Examples of time-frames are: Vikings, Revolutionary War, World War II, current-day warfare, and the future. We’re accepting all genres, so you can even have your troops fighting aliens or some other type of creature, but please keep the rating PG-13. The deadline is December 31, 2017; however, we can be somewhat flexible if need be. Contact the editors at: BellKyleEditors@gmail.com for details.

The submission call, with more details, is here:

http://www.wolfsingerpubs.com/CatTailsGuidelines.html

Saturday, November 11, 2017

More Alternative Truths


People often ask why writers write what they do. I have never had a clearer answer than in this particular case.

My story in More Alternative Truths is dedicated to my Mom, Helen Dorothy McFarland-Brewer, who instilled a desire to learn in me that often put me at odds with the schools I attended.

Mom loved to do many things: cook, sew, interact with family, play with cats, but I think the thing she enjoyed most doing was teaching. And she seldom missed an opportunity to provide new knowledge. From an early age, Mom taught me to observe the world around me and study it, to read and learn as much as I could, to respect learning in others. From solar eclipses to cooking clay for me so I could learn how to make colors, she seldom missed a teachable moment.

As I grew, she said "Look it up" as many times as she said, "I love you." I learned early how to use both dictionaries and encyclopedias--the only problem with that was I occasionally got lost and couldn't stop!

Every day, I see the new administration decrying facts. Every discipline is taking a hit, particularly science. And if that science interferes with fascist corporate interests, the pertinent disciplines may not be taught at all in the future.

Growing up with a natural educator for a mother, I wondered could someone born to teach stop even if she faced stiff penalties? And what would be the inevitable consequences when those teachers continued to provide their most precious treasure, knowledge, to others?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Alternative Truths Anthology


"This machine kills fascists," Woody Guthrie painted that message on his guitar in 1941 in a fit of patriotism. Other artists subsequently followed suit. At that point, the United States was fighting Hitler.

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale, describes the conditions in 1939 the year she was born:  "“Having been born in 1939 and come to consciousness during World War II, I knew that established orders could vanish overnight … Anything could happen anywhere, given the circumstances.”

I lost two uncles in that fight. They were both good men who enlisted and believed in the cause. No one ever conceived that fascism was coming to our own country. And yet here we are, 76 years later facing a reality that grows increasingly surreal each day. 

The following comes from Bob Brown, publisher and editor of Alternative Truths:

"Alternate Truths Anthology was formed, when on February 23, 2017 I, and many of my friends, asked what we could do. We could write, we could join that noble tradition of using the pen, to poke the powerful.

So was born, Alternative Truths. And our pens became word processors and our ideas became stories.

Kellyanne Conway was not the first political operative to applying flexibility to truth. But she gave us the best ever description of the premise when she coined the phrase, “Alternative Facts,” in describing what George Orwell had for all previous generations labeled as New Speak.

Like beauty, truth, especially political truth, is in the eye of the beholder, and for years Americans have tolerated the common elements of exaggeration and rhetoric from their politicians. But not since the early days of the nation has such a mockery of truth been made in the name of politics, and in that vein we present to you, Alternative Truths."

The anthology is twenty-four stories from notable authors, including Phyllis Irene Radford, Louise Marley, Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station, and twenty-one others following in Guthrie's tradition creating everything from humor to dystopic horror in the name of truth.

I leave you with words from one of my favorite presidents: 


"It is the part of  America to stand for the freedom of the human mind and to carry the torch of truth."  Franklin D. Roosevelt

R. Kyle, April 29, 2017 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Cozened Book Launch

Nicole Givens Kurtz has a new novel out called Cozened. This is her second book in the futuristic detective noir series.


There is a raffle to go with the launch hosted at Rafflecopter's website.  at Rafflecopter's giveaway website.

It can be purchased at either Amazon (http://amzn.to/2gm7ijc) or from the publisher (http://mochamemoirspress.com/cozened). 

Here is Nicole's bio:  NICOLE GIVENS KURTZ is the published author of the futuristic thriller series, Cybil Lewis. She also writes horror and dark fantasy. Her novels have been named as finalists in the Fresh Voices in Science Fiction, EPPIE in Science Fiction, and Dream Realm Awards in science fiction. Nicole’s short stories have earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

GUEST BLOGGER: Nobody Gives a Damn that You Wrote a Book – Unless You Give Them a Reason


By MH Bonham
Author of 35+ books, Publisher of Sky Warrior Book Publishing, LLC
Visit Sky Warrior Books at: Sky Warrior Book Publishing, L.L.C.

Everyone wants to write a book.  Some folks have actually written books.  Some have gotten their books published, either by themselves, through a small press, or, if they’re exceedingly lucky, through one of the big New York houses.

At this point, many authors are convinced their work is done. The reality is their work is just beginning.

Nobody Cares that You Wrote a Book.  Really.

Nobody gives a damn you wrote a book, except maybe your mom.  Your writing buddies and friends may say they care, but how many of them have actually bought one of your books? The people on the street don’t care. In fact, they are inundated with other things that occupy their attention such as the Internet, movies, video games, and other entertainment, there’s very little time or inclination for them to actually read a book.

When they do buy a book, it’s because they know about the book, or are looking for a book on a particular subject. If your name isn’t J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, chances are they haven’t a clue that you wrote a book they might actually enjoy reading.

Some Facts to Back This Up

The Bureau of Labor Statistics backs me up on this. In 2013, the average person spent a whopping $29.20 on physical books that year, not including sales by book clubs. If you do count the book club sales, the number soars to $32.23. If you look on Amazon, that’s maybe two or three books out of nearly two million. E-books that year fared better than physical books, with the average amount sold being $30.18. That includes everything from the 99 cent books somebody put out, to the big houses selling their e-books at nearly 15 bucks a pop.

If This Didn’t Depress You Enough

If this didn’t depress you enough, you’ll be glad to know that book publishers cut their employees by 18 percent. This means that even the big houses don’t have enough staff to promote your book. Small publishers rely on authors to promote their books.

What You as an Author can do to Buck the Trend

First, consider yourself one of the enlightened. Your book won’t sell without you promoting it, unless it wins the book lottery and becomes a best seller.  Be realistic: you’ve got a far better chance at getting hit by lightning while riding a unicycle on a sunny day.
As an author, promoting your book is paramount.  Yes, writing is very important, and you need to write every day, but promoting is just as important. Take one day’s writing time out of your already busy week and do something to promote your book. The following are no cost ideas that can promote your book better than you think.

How you get people to care about you and your books is to get them aware that you exist. To do this, you have to get your book in front of readers.

Ten No Cost Ideas to Get Your Book in Front of Readers

1.     Create a Facebook page for you and your work. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you better have one. Post about the latest works and status reports about things you’re doing as a writer.
2.     Join promotion groups and announce your book.  One promotion group, in particular, you should join is Goodreads.  Find authors you love and follow them.
3.     Start a blog and post to it regularly. You can talk about anything as a writer. Livejournal and Blogger offer free blog pages.
4.     Offer to do guest posts for other writers on their blogs who have books similar to yours. Offer the writers the ability to guest post on your blog in exchange.
5.     Contact your local library and request that they carry your book. If they won’t order it or can’t purchase it directly, consider donating a copy.
6.      Start an e-newsletter for your fans. Both Constant Contact and MailChimp have free e-newsletters for low numbers of subscribers.
7.     Run a contest which requires sharing your blog or Facebook page in social media to enter.  Try Rafflecopter for this.
8.     Create a small e-book with short stories set in your book’s world and offer it free on Amazon and other e-book venues. Include the first chapter of your book and links where to purchase your book. Post it on Weebly and other places where fans are always looking for new voices.
9.     Volunteer to help out with local book conventions or science fiction conventions. Not only will you get your name known, but you may be able to put books in the hands of those who are bellwethers in the reading community.
10.  Offer to exchange book reviews with other authors. More book reviews means more exposure and more opportunities.

Friday, June 19, 2015

COMMENTARY: Take down the Confederate Flag

My first job was working for the State of Oklahoma's Government Information Service. I got asked a number of interesting questions. One, in particular, sticks in my mind today.  I will do my best to recreate the conversation as faithfully as I can:

Caller:  Do you know that the Confederate flag is flying over the State Capitol?
Me:  Yes, Ma'am, (reaching for a brochure I have on my desk) it's part of the Fourteen Flags Plaza.*
Caller:  I don't think that's right...
Me:  Ma'am, the plaza's there to show the fourteen flags which flew over Oklahoma prior to statehood. The Confederate flag is just one of them...
Caller:  Do you think that's right?
Me:  Ma'am, I can't give my opinion...
Caller:  But, do you think that's right?
Me:  If you're asking me if I approved of slavery, my answer is no.  If you're asking me if I believe we should display our history, I'd want to remind you about some of the other nations whose flags are flying in the plaza. The Cherokees, for example, had slaves. The Spanish had the Inquisition. The French royalty treated their peasants so badly....
Caller:  I think they should remove the Confederate flag.
Me:  Ma'am, if you believe that, you should talk to your State Representative and Senator. The state's certainly spending money to keep them up and you could make suggestions for that money's alternate use....

I've never been one to shirk the unpleasant aspects of history. I liked to think we'd come a long way. After Wednesday's shooting of nine Black congregants during a Bible study, I'm not so sure we have. 

No, I emphatically do not believe this was an attack on Christianity. The shooter's words before he started killing people were:  “I have to do it. You’re raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.”

http://c.o0bg.com/rf/image_960w/Boston/2011-2020/2015/06/18/BostonGlobe.com/EditorialOpinion/Images/0622CHARLESTON.jpg


The Confederate flag, which the attacker firmly embraced, is not just a reminder of our dark and ugly past to some. In the attacker's eyes, it's a rally to race war.

And it's time to take every one of them down.

"Like the Nazi flag, the Confederate battle flag has come to symbolize to large portions of the public extremely destructive attempts to promote racism. And in both cases, extremists use them as the potent symbols of racism they are in order to rally like minded extremists. As such, it does not deserve to be flown over any public building in these United States." David Kinne

Please note the Fourteen Flags display was removed from the Oklahoma Capitol grounds in 1988. The Oklahoma State Fairgrounds still has the Fourteen Flags Plaza, which shows the fourteen flags: 

http://newsok.com/14-flags-plaza-shows-state-history/article/2551499

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, June 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

COMMENTARY: Sansa Stark Rape --- GET REAL

Monday morning, the internet was all abuzz over the Sansa Stark rape scene on Game of Thrones. I honestly can't remember this much buzz about a program since the cliffhanger on Dallas. 

I admit it,  I was surprised. 

Every single show starts out with a MA warning.  And we've needed it.  The rape scene was by far not the worst thing I have seen....I read the books and the "red wedding" had me shaking for quite a while after that. 

And, of course, there's far more violence I could mention....That brought me to several solid conclusions: 

ONE:  People are often immune to violence.  I've always been acutely aware of the effect of television violence.  Studies on children show that watching violent programs desensitizes children to violence and could lead to more violent behavior. Further, in adults it can also lead to a disproportionate sense of unease about society. 

Essentially, if you are what you eat, you also often are what you "consume" via the media. 

"You are the only censor if you don't like what I say you have a choice you can turn me off." 

Alice Cooper -- Lay Down and Die, Goodbye
TWO:  People don't complain effectively.  Oh, they'll complain loud and long--on the Facebook page of a relative stranger...But do they actually go to the right place?  When I suggested to a vitriolic complainant that they should perhaps write their treatise on violence in Game of Thrones to HBO or George RR Martin, the author of the novels, they were outraged. I pointed out there was no point posting it at some random person's page -- when the people making the decisions about future violence would probably not read it.

THREE:  People need to get real here. Where is the outrage about real rape cases?  I can name four serious situations that  I have come across in the news in the last day and I don't see as much discussion and outrage about them as there seems to be about a fictional character. 

Here goes: 

Rape's more prevalent than you think. A study of one college showed 18% of the freshmen girls either were raped or had an attempted rape. Just in one year:

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/05/20/study-prevalence-rape-first-year-students#.VVyZQVr6uOM.facebook

"Affluenza" is real.  If this was a poor man, particularly a minority, he'd be in jail for much longer. You think this is going to stop Mr. Johnson from inappropriate behavior in the future? 

Samuel Curtis Johnson III, the billionaire heir to the SC Johnson fortune confessed to repeatedly raping his twelve-year-old step-daughter and what kind of sentence does he get:  four months and a a $6,000 fine.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/06/07/billionaire-gets-off/

Judges don't take child rape seriously.  The rapist of a three-year-old got a light sentence because his attack on the child "wasn't violent."

http://edgytruth.com/2015/04/10/judge-gives-light-sentence-to-child-rapist-claiming-sodomy-wasnt-violent-click-here-do-something/#

And a Baptist pastor got by with raping a mentally challenged twenty-year-old girl in Louisiana because the girl didn't know to fight him off? 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2572006/Baptist-pastor-arrested-police-claim-mentally-handicapped-womans-father-sex-wife-bedridden.html

GET REAL, HERE! 

So, what can you do? 

First of all, talk to the right people.  Get in touch with your elected officials and tell them you want stronger laws and sentencing against rapists and child abusers. 

Second, get in there and help.  Contact your local Rape Crisis Center or Women's Shelter and donate your items, money, or time to them. Literally, abuse victims can come in to the shelter with nothing more than the clothes on their backs -- these are real people in need of real help. If you've got outrage for these situations, spend it wisely.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, May 2015