Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lucky for Us, Ricketts Has Been a Failure

Lucky for us, so far Pete Ricketts has been a massive failure in his short term as governor.
Lucky, you say? Jeremy, what kind of Nebraskan are you, rooting for the failure of your governor? Certainly a true Nebraskan would still see fit to root for your governor to be a success despite not agreeing with him on many issues.
And well, that is true. I don’t want my governor to be a failure. I want him or her to be successful in ways that will help Nebraskans. Of course. But when you’re Pete Ricketts, and your agenda is about 25 years out of date, and out of lockstep with sensible Nebraskans, well, for the most part, yeah, in a lot of cases I am going to be rooting for you to fail. So I say again: lucky for us, as so far, we have been awfully lucky that our governor is failing.

How exactly is he failing? Let’s take a look:
*You’re Doing a Heck of a Job, Brownie
Look, is it really fair to judge someone for not fixing the prison system when they’ve only been on the job for 5 months or so? No. But when one of your major campaign promises is that you can fix our broken prison system, then yeah, it makes it a little more fair to judge someone on it at this early juncture. When you go out and hire someone for big bucks to fix the prisons ($180,000 a year), and then a week after that highly paid guy takes a tour of a prison a very serious riot straight out of a Sly Stallone movie takes place, well, then it becomes even more fair to criticize someone. 
To make matters worse, after a prison riot that led to two deaths and nine guards walking off the job, yesterday Ricketts visited the prison. When he was finished, he decided to channel George W. Bush in the Katrina aftermath by saying something almost impossibly stupid: "You’re doing a phenomenal job managing this very difficult situation."
Well, I just don’t know what more to say.

*The Gas Man
Despite countless campaign promises to lower taxes, Rickets was unable to muster enough support in the legislature to prevent a gas tax increase and even saw his veto overriden, despite the fact that our legislature is strongly represented by the GOP. (Technically, Nebraska has a non-partisan legislature but it is made up primarily of registered Republicans, who hold 36 of 49 seats.)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Prologue to The Adventures of Braxton Revere

Aw, it's that time all of us writers love, when you get to share an excerpt from your novel, hoping to entice readers to give your work a shot. But where to begin? I spent a lot of time thinking about it, desperately searching for that one place where I had written something so clever that masses of people would go running to their computers to load up Amazon and find my book in order to devour the rest. After some time searching, it became clear that it was best to just start at the beginning.


Without further ado, here is the prologue to The Adventures of Braxton Revere. The story is told from Braxton's perspective; the prologue is to bring you in to his world.

When Marianne finally found him, frightened and alone, his face painted in tears and grime, he came running and buried his head into her small frame. All she could do was hold him as he sobbed out the awful news: his father was dead, killed at the hands of Ralugard. She could hardly believe it. The famous vampire-killing Revere family was reduced to this boy, Braxton Revere. Special, and certainly Revere blood, but a boy all the same. The burden now fell on her to not only slay this demon, but to train little Braxton. It was a grave task; how could she succeed where the great Fenton Revere had failed?
Before the thought could overtake her further, young Braxton choked back tears and his story continued. Special? A Revere? Indeed he was, for he went on to describe how he rose up from his grief, driven by a surge of anger, and seized the mantle of his heirs before him by thrusting a stake through the black heart of his father’s killer. Once again the plots of Ralugard were laid to ruin, another chapter ended in his long saga with the Reveres.

It was an astonishing tale, and Marianne resisted the urge to scold him when it was finished, for following this display of great courage, Braxton had erred grievously. It was not his fault. He was a boy, after all. How was he to remember, amongst such unspeakable tragedy, that the body of the vampire was to be secured, and kept safe from enemies? That ultimately, to fulfill the family destiny, they must forever remove the head of the snake by destroying the vampire’s body in the proper way: through fire. To do so would prevent Ralugard from re-emerging the way he always had before, returning when least expected in the fashion of droughts, earthquakes, and other such pestilences that tormented mankind.

Though she knew they would be too late, with all haste Marianne and Braxton returned to the sight of the tragedy. When they arrived, the missing corpse confirmed what she already knew. The boy took no notice, buried in grief as he was, unable to gaze upon anything but the fallen frame of his father. 
Marianne moved to console him, though in truth she could use comfort herself. She knew all too well what the missing corpse meant.

Someday, somehow, Ralugard would rise again.

It would fall upon her, and this boy, to stop him when he did.

Find out what happens next in The Adventures of Braxton Revere, releasing May 29th on EAB Publishing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Thoughts on To Kill a Mock--Yeah!--Ing--Yeah!--Bird--Yeah!

It’s really happening, ya’ll. After 55-some years, an impossible wait in a day and age where movie sequels are planned out six years in advance, in mid-July we will have our hands on a new book from Harper Lee. Even more, not only is it a new book, as exciting as that would be, but it's a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird titled Go Set a Watchman. Unbelievable.
To prepare for this momentous occasion, I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird—my third reading. Re-reading it now, some two months from the release of the sequel, was by design—I wanted Mockingbird fresh in my mind, but not too fresh.
Now I understand that there is a very good chance that Watchman will fail to wow me from a narrative and creative standpoint. Following up a true classic is never easy--trust me, I've read Mark Twain's attempts at a Huck Finn sequel. Nevertheless, Go Set a Watchman will still be fascinating. Leaving creative considerations aside, from a scholarly perspective, this is mind-blowing stuff, an opportunity to see the formation process of a true American classic.
I won't sit here and talk (too much) about how great Mockingbird is. It is, in my opinion, but the book doesn't need me to promote it. But after my re-reading, a few things jumped out at me. For no particular reason, I feel like expounding on them.
Is anybody married in Maycomb, Alabama? Scout, Jem, and Dill are of course kids, Atticus is famously a widower and single father, Calpurnia’s marital status goes unmentioned although she does have children, Boo Radley is a recluse, all of the woman mentioned on their block are unmarried, and Bob Ewell is also a widower. The only married characters of note are Tom Robinson, the wrongly accused rapist, and Aunt Alexandra, who seems to despise her husband. I suppose it’s no wonder Harper Lee has spent her life single! It'll be interesting to see how the sequel handles this.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Can My Kid Still Eat That?

Parenting is hard. There’s no way around it. For those of who are cursed fortunate enough to be parents, we are all too aware that over the course of our parenting life, major decisions will have to be made, ones that will shape our beloved children’s future in countless ways. It never seems to end. Where do you send them for school? When do you cave and get them a phone? (After all, everyone else in pre-school has one.) Do you really sign them up for a soccer team that holds more practices than the teams in the World Cup? These are major, life-altering decisions that keep us parents up at night.

But parenting is not made up of only major decisions. Far from it. Each day brings countless tiny decisions, insignificant on the surface but if handled incorrectly, ones with the potential to do lasting damage. As a parent, the pressure is always on—don’t screw it up!

But one of those seemingly tiny decisions with potentially life-altering consequences is seldom discussed by the Dr. Phil’s of the world, and you don’t see on self-help parenting websites. We're out there, all alone, which is a shame because it is a big one. Very big. Lives and futures are at stake, and we have to get it right. What is it, you may ask? Simple. 

What do you do when your child drops a piece of food on the ground
See? This is big. This is iceberg-that-sunk-the-Titanic BIG.
Titanic-level danger looms...

If you think I am overstating the importance, think again. I have seen vacations, family gatherings, and pleasant days destroyed in mere seconds by a parent making the wrong decision to this problem. I can see it now. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and kids are laughing. But wait, what's that? Junior dropped his sucker.