Tag Archive for: protests

Pandemic, Protests, and Privilege

By AB Plum

Paraphrasing E.L. Doctorow, “Writing is a socially
acceptable form of committing murder.”

I’ve been killing a lot of characters this past month.

Not because the pandemic has demanded much of a change
in my life. I, basically, lead a life of privilege. I think killing “the bad
guys” is my way of venting frustration about the handling of the pandemic fueled by institutional racism.

Food, good, fresh food,
appears on my table nightly. The house where I live provides more than adequate
shelter. Walking daily remains part of my routine. I am white, well educated,
and healthy (except for a heart condition that puts me in the “Higher Risk” COVID-19 category). One risk I don’t have to deal with: 
living in constant fear of the police.

I like to think I’m smart enough to be grateful for my
lot in life and to be sensitive to so many others less fortunate. (It sounds
self-serving, but I grew up poor as dirt and have never forgotten my deep roots
in poverty).

Unconsciously, I write about flawed characters who
often are well-to-do. Many of them, though, have memories of being poor,
disenfranchised, ill, mentally incapacitated, and marginalized because of race
and/or gender.

In my Ryn Davis Mystery
Series, she runs a safe house for former prostitutes. With Hispanic surnames,
little education, less money, and children with absentee fathers, these women
are struggling to learn computer skills that will give them better chances to map
out independent lives and to protect 
their children. None of them has ever met un policia they trusted.

Beau “Peep” Scott earned millions as a drummer in The
Stoned Gang. The rock group’s name is apt since Beau burned too many gray cells
to take care of his fortune. His parents were drug addicts who neglected him,
and he deals daily with people’s sneers about his intellect. He adores Ryn and
may be the only man she trusts completely.

Elijah White, former Stanford law school and business grad,
successful corporate attorney, and the oldest of five siblings, now runs his
own PI business in Southern California. He remembers going to bed hungry. His
father was shot and killed by a cop.

Angie, a former Ph.D. candidate in biology and the
abused, runaway wife of a Silicon Valley tycoon, is about to hang out her shingle
as a vet for the homeless. She lived on the streets when she met Ryn. She
shares an affinity with Elijah and Beau for 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzles. She
also understands classism from the perspective of a trophy wife to a toothless
bag lady.

These are a few of my regular characters in the series.
I’ve not killed any of them and don’t see that happening in the next book at
least. Instead, I look forward to exploring greed, lust, and power as the
primary reason for murder—and maybe for most of society’s woes.

***  AB Plum
lives, walks, and writes in the heart of Silicon Valley. No Little Lies, her third book in the Ryn Davis Mystery Series hits
Amazon on July 6. Preorder here.  


by Bethany Maines

Today I’m discussing the absolutes of art.

Absolute number 1: artists must sell.  So toward that end, please consider purchasing my latest book! It’s a five-star, “highly-satisfying, high-speed thriller” that readers are calling “hard to put down.”

Fresh out of
prison and fresh out of luck, twenty-something Shark wants back into The
Organization. But when Geier, the mob boss with a cruel sense of humor, sends
Shark to the suburbs to find out who’s been skimming his take, Shark realizes
he’s going to need more than his gun and an attitude to succeed. With the clock
ticking, Shark accepts the help of the mysterious teenage fixer, Peregrine
Hays, and embarks on a scheme that could line his pockets, land him the girl
and cement his reputation with the gang—if he makes it out alive.

$2.99 on sale today! BUY NOW!

Absolute number 2:  Nothing is absolute and artists spend a lot of time thinking about that.

In our current climate of politics, disasters, and protest, I’ve been listening to what a lot of artists are feeling. And by artists I mean everyone from fellow writers and graphic designers, to fine artists and poets. I know from the outside that most people think of the creative set as a homogeneous mass of weirdos. Which, weird, I’ll grant you, but homogeneous is not, in any way, accurate.

Like any family there are fractured in-fights, cultural differences between the “cousins” of fine art and design (or poets and novelists), there are fights over pecking order and definitions and what it all really means. But most artists when pressed will say that although they have their preferences, their set rules that they use, that most of the time, there is no absolute. Don’t ever pair two serif fonts, don’t ever write a novel in the first person, don’t use Papyrus for a logo (ever, no seriously)… Unless it works, in which case, you should absolutely do that. Absolutes in art and artists are few and far behind.

Which is why I think our current political climate is striking artists particularly hard. It’s as though we’ve all been toddling along enjoying the gray areas and we’ve run smack into the thirty percent of our population that only believes in black and white. Not that they live in black and white (because no one can). But they only believe in black and white and they want everyone else to bow before the almighty absolute and give them the peace of mind of being right. Arguing with someone who refuses to see the gray is pointless. Showing art full of color to someone who doesn’t see the subtle shades of the rainbow only makes them turn away. Many of the artist’s I listen to feel despair. They feel like their art has become frivolous when they see the colors being eradicated around them, but they can’t seem to make the leap to protest art. Nine months into a presidency that does not see the value in anyone who isn’t male, straight, or white, I would like to say that all art is protest art. To create joy, beauty, and harmony, to paint with many colors instead of the ones that have been chosen for us is protest art. I encourage my artist friends to follow their passion, take action, make art, refuse to go away or step back. Use every damn crayon in the box.

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. —Oscar Wilde

Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known. —Oscar Wilde

Beauty is the only thing that time cannot harm. Philosophies fall away like sand, creeds follow one another, but what is beautiful is a joy for all seasons, a possession for all eternity. —Oscar Wilde

 is the author of the Carrie
Mae Mysteries
, the Shark Santoyo
Crime Series
, Wild Waters, Tales from
the City of Destiny
and An Unseen
You can also view the Carrie Mae YouTube video
or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

When All the World is Protesting….

Is it just me or is everything in the world spinning and changing so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up? I’m exhausted.

Dictatorships are falling in large part to their citizens’ use of Facebook and Twitter to organize protests. Egyptians have toppled their government. The world is holding its collective breath as we wait for the next despot to be exiled, holding out hope that the end result will be better than the original. Libya? Bahrain? Iran? What country will be next? What will the world look like next year?

Proposed deep budget cuts in the U.S. federal government and state government services are going to affect all U.S. citizens. Congress is setting up for a government shutdown unless compromise can be accomplished. The protests in Wisconsin over budget cuts are only the first for state governments. The state agency I work for in Oklahoma is facing consolidation with another agency and massive budget cuts if our newly elected Republican Governor has her way with a Republican majority house and senate. I think her chances are pretty good! Citizens will have to decide if they really want the changes that are coming. Yes, elections have consequences. I’m just not sure everyone understood how the changes would affect them personally.

Because of my day job for a state agency I’m acutely aware that President Obama has just this past year geared up federal environmental agencies for a massive change in the interpretation of existing environmental laws. His new policies would open the door for direct federal enforcement of those new interpretations, ignoring state laws and programs. The result of the direct enforcement would be massive loss of jobs and industry. The states are pushing back, reminding the federal government that they can’t change laws or create new laws via policy statements. But so far they’ve turned a blind eye and deaf ear to our protests and attempts to reason with them. The whole issue is heading for court. In the midst of this battle, suddenly the President creates a new White House working group to protect jobs from unnecessary federal regulations. He wants to reduce regulations that stifle business. What the [insert appropriate curse word] is going on? The President needs to learn what his right hand and his left hand are doing.

Oh, by the way, Happy Presidents Day! Sigh.

Before the year is over we’ll know what government services are really important to us. The public libraries that survive over the next five years will do so because they find additional sources of funding and attract new users. They will have to add more digital content, e-readers, and many more computers. Public schools? I’m not sure what they are going to do. Class sizes will increase, teachers will be laid off, and kids won’t have desks, chairs, or books.

Brick and mortar bookstores are disappering. You might not be able to find a bookstore in your favorite mall. The local independents are hanging on by a thread. The publishing giants are rushing to accommodate the ebook revolution as authors self-publish their own books via electronic platforms at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Smashwords. I was speaking with a friend who collects first editions and autographed books. She wonders if the next generation will find any value in her old fashioned “print” book collections.

And of course on top of all the other turmoil, there’s the weather. Should I mention the crazy weather? Everyone has had some this year. This month Oklahoma went from a normal 6 or 7 inches a year to 20-some odd inches of snow in a two day span. Then the weather flip flopped with one town registering a -20 F. (actual temperature not wind chill) to a week later registering a very muddy 80 F.

I don’t know what everyone else is going to do, but this seems like the perfect time to escape to the more rational world of fiction. I’m going to read, write, and hope next year is, if not better, at least calmer.

aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- KindleNookSmashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake- PaperbackKindle
Murder Off the Books- PaperbackKindle
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords