As part of Smashwords’ promotion for Read an eBook Week, all three books in the Emily O’Brien series will be on sale for half off from March 3 to March 9. You can find the books here: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/mrmiller.
I recently read this article on CNN’s website: http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/14/us/philadelphia-archdiocese-boys-only-football/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1. It’s about an 11-year-old girl who was told she could no longer play in her community’s youth football league because of her gender.
I’ll admit I have mixed feelings on the issue.
When I began writing the Emily O’Brien series, I knew she was going to be an athlete, a tomboy who was good enough to play with the boys. I chose baseball as her sport. The reason was fairly simple; it’s pretty much a no-contact sport. I didn’t choose basketball or football because I think it’s unrealistic to have a high school girl compete at that level with her male counterparts. And I wanted a team sport, not something more individualized like track or tennis. Baseball seemed the most likely sport.
So, given the character I created, I get the fact that some girls want to play with the boys, but when it comes to contact sports, I’m not sure it’s good enough to say that she should play as long as she can hack it. I’m not sure that’s fair to the boys on the team.
I know, I know, that’s not a common response. But as the mother of two boys who have played baseball, basketball and soccer, I’ve seen enough to question whether it is right for boys and girls to compete against each other in a contact sport.
Take soccer. In our former school district, there weren’t enough students to have a boys’ and girls’ soccer team so the girls played on the same team as the boys. Soccer can definitely be a contact sport. When two players are both jockeying for position, there is plenty of shoving and pushing that goes on. It’s not like football, but still it can get rough.
When I would watch my boys go head-to-head with a girl on the other team, I could see them back off. When it was another boy, they would hit hard and follow through. But when the potential for hurting a girl was there, they wouldn’t play as hard as they could. In a way, I was proud of that. I always told them I was more concerned with them being good human beings than being good athletes. I don’t think as a mom I would be proud of watching one of my sons knock a girl down to get to the soccer ball or tackle a girl on the football field.
As a society we send mixed messages to boys. We tell them not to hit girls but we cry foul when a girl wants to play on a boys football team but isn’t allowed. Movies and television programs show men and women fighting each other as equals but we expect our boys to know that isn’t real life. I have a hard time watching the X-Men movie when Wolverine fights Lady Deathstryke, mostly because Wolverine is a good guy and he’s beating the crap out of a woman. Yes, she’s a mutant who can hold her own and is trying to kill him, but she’s a WOMAN. I know it’s a movie but I wonder what goes through the mind of a young boy when he sees this. Does he really understand why we teach boys that men shouldn’t hit women? I hope so, but it’s kind of scary to see media showing just the opposite.
So when I read stories like this, part of me wants to say “You go, girl!” But the larger part of me believes that saying no really isn’t just about protecting this young lady. It’s about sending a consistent message to the boys on the team. If more girls wanted to play football and a girls’ football league was formed, I would see no problem with it; it’s not the contact that I oppose. As old fashioned as it sounds, I still think there are areas where men and women can’t really compete on the same turf, for both of their sakes.
So what do you think? Am I way off base?
As I’ve written the Emily O’Brien series, certain songs have made me think of the characters and their problems – the same way certain songs speak to me in my own life. I still remember a day about ten years ago when flooding took out our driveway, and we really didn’t have a lot of spare cash. I heard the song “Good Life” by Audio Adrenaline and suddenly my perspective changed from feeling sorry for myself to counting my blessings.
I was listening to my iPod the other day and the song “Streets of Gold” by Needtobreathe came on. I can’t hear that song without thinking of Emily and Alex. So I decided to make a playlist of some of the songs I associate with each book. Sometimes it’s just a line or two from the songs. Other songs seem to go along with the mood of the book.
Needtobreathe is my absolute favorite band of all time so it’s no surprise that their songs pop up on my list a lot. Enjoy!
Vengeance is Mine
“Streets of Gold,” Needtobreathe
“Winds of Change,” Kutless
“I’m Not Alright,” Sanctus Real
“More Time,” Needtobreathe
“Fly,” Jars of Clay
“Fool,” Satellite Soul
“Signature of Divine,” Needtobreathe
“Grace,” Jars of Clay
“Through Smoke,” Needtobreathe
“Every Reason,” Smalltown Poets
“Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been,” Relient k
“I’m Not Who I Was,” Brandon Heath
“Martyrs and Thieves,” Jennifer Knapp
“Let Us Love,” Needtobreathe
“The Older I Get,” Skillet
“Life on the Edge” Eli
Ted Dekker is one of my go-to authors for a good read. One of the things I like about Dekker is his willingness to try something new with his writing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But he’s not afraid to take risks.
Dekker recently released four ebooks that come together to make one novel, Eyes Wide Open. He released the first ebook for free, obviously hoping to entice readers to purchase the other three.
But the serial concept isn’t what caught my attention. Instead, it was that Dekker — a bestselling author — opted to publish his books himself through his own Outlaw Studios. And even though it’s none of my business, I’m really curious as to why. Was it the opportunity to make more money than the royalties offered through mainstream publishing? Was it to maintain complete control of his works? I don’t know.
I surfed the Internet and so far haven’t found an explanation but it made me wonder if other popular authors with a strong fan base might try to go out on their own as well. Could … say … a Stephen King or John Grisham self publish? Dekker’s sales seem to be solid, though based on the reviews I don’t know that all readers really liked the serial concept.
I haven’t read the books yet; they’re on my “to-read” list and eventually I’ll get to them. It also appears that Dekker has more books planned for his Outlaw Studios. I’ll be curious to see what new risks he’ll take and what kind of success he’ll find.
From the time I started writing the Emily O’Brien series, I struggled with the fact the books weren’t going to fit neatly into any category. The books have strong Christian elements, yes, but they weren’t necessarily written as Christian books. I tried writing the first book that way initially but it just didn’t fit well with the story or the characters. So I decided to write it the way that felt right to me. I guess that’s the reporter in me.
And when I made that choice, I found Emily’s voice and that propelled the story forward. At the time, that was OK since I was writing just for me. I never expected to let anyone else see them. But I had a persistent husband and I finally figured, why not?
I’ve heard the term “realistic Christian fiction.” I guess that might be the closest category I could find, but it wasn’t an option on Amazon or Smashwords. And I’m not sure it really covers it all anyway.
So in advance, I apologize to anyone I offend — either because you don’t like my views on faith or because you don’t like the book’s profanity or realism. I realize the books have the potential to alienate both ends of the spectrum but I had to write the books authentically.
I promise to keep the books between PG and PG-13 — no F-bombs or raunchy sex scenes or grisly, bloody details that make you quit eating your lunch. And as the series progresses, I hope readers see a change in Emily, that she becomes a better reflection of her faith. That was one of my goals when I began writing, to create a newbie Christian character that matures over time. She’s definitely a work in progress.
I would love to pretend that it was all part of my plan. But really, it was just a big flub on my part that ended up working out very well for me. That hardly ever happens so I’m kind of enjoying it.
So what did I do? I accidentally made my first two ebooks free on Amazon. When I published “Foul Play,” I decided to make all three of my books free on Smashwords for a few days so friends and family could download them. I didn’t think about the fact that Smashwords would send the price to Barnes and Noble, and I didn’t know that Amazon would match the B&N price.
So I was horrified when I checked on the status of “Foul Play” a few days after I had uploaded that to Kindle Direct Publishing (I use both Smashwords and KDP) and saw that “Vengeance is Mine” and “Buried Truth” were now free. I’m still fairly new to the world of ebook publishing and there is a lot I don’t know. Obviously. I didn’t even know I could make my books free on Amazon.
But it ended up being a huge blessing! It has been fun to see thousands of downloads of my books and a few reviews, and even better I had some readers say hi to me on Goodreads, where I had also posted my books. I wish all of my goofs turned out this well.
The books are still free on Amazon and B&N. I have no idea how long that will last but feel free to take advantage of my mistake.
This really isn’t book-related … well, it sort of is. I’ll admit that reviews scare me a little. As a reporter, it took me about five minutes to learn that not everyone will like what you write and some people can be very vocal about their disapproval. It’s part of the territory and you kind of know that going in.
I’m not really afraid of having my work reviewed in and of itself. I know I’m far from perfect and some criticism is OK … even good. But what scares me a little is just how mean people can be when they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet.
I was reading an article on CNN last week about a waiter who identified one of the tables he was serving as “three fat girls.” I cannot think of any context when that would be appropriate. The guy was fired and the restaurant publicly apologized to the women. What shocked me about the article was the hateful way some commenters stated that these women were indeed fat and the waiter did nothing wrong.
Some of these comments were brutal and I was just flabbergasted that people could be so mean. I can’t imagine that anyone would be OK with the waiter posting “three gay guys” or “three black chicks” because that smacks of discrimination. But let someone be fat and you’d think they committed a crime.
I’ve seen the same kinds of comments about Christians. If an article even hints at Christianity, Internet trolls come out of the woodwork to blast Christians as self-righteous bigots and to mock our belief in Jesus Christ. The level of hatred is just plain appalling. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, including Christians.
And I’ve seen difference of opinions degenerate to the point where some commenters feel it necessary to refer to a person with a different opionion as a moron or loser. And, back to my original point, I’ve seen discussions on Goodreads or reviews on Amazon that have called authors awful names just because the reader didn’t like a book. I’ve definitely read my share of wretched books, some by famous authors, but I can’t ever remember leaving such hateful feedback.
I have to wonder if people would use those same slurs if the other person was sitting across the table from them. When I worked at the newspaper, we allowed comments on our news stories, and I found that the ones delivered anonymously were often much nastier than those delivered via our Facebook page when the person had to leave his/her name.
The Internet makes it way too easy for us to forget that we’re talking to or talking about another human being with feelings. Someone who has his/her own insecurities and weak points, someone who really hurts when such barbs are hurled their way.
Is it really too much to ask that we all make an effort to treat one another with respect? Sadly, I think that ship has sailed, but here’s to hoping that I’m wrong.