Brenna Lyons [brennalyons]
What is your profession? What is your title printed on your business card?
What did you study and why did you choose to study that field?
My degrees are in accounting and computer programming, which have NOTHING to do with my current field...save checking royalty statements and my marketing efforts. I followed that field, because my biological mother was a BIG fan of having a degree you could make money with, and she didn't believe anyone could make money with a creative field. At the time, I didn't know any better, so I took my majors in jobs I could make (and have made) money at, and I made every elective a writing class.
What links do you have on the Internet: website, blog, social networks?
PLUS the ones at Amazon connect, Ning, and MySpace...see below for most.
In which areas have you thought of building upon your education?
More computer classes...perhaps photo editing. I can do video/audio editing and such, but I want to get better at photo editing.
Do you usually attended seminars or coursework to advance your professional work or would you consider yourself a more self-taught person?
I'm more self-taught. In creative endeavors, I don't think people can do more than point you to ideas and let you find your own way. The words come for you how they come for you. There is not a single "right" way to do things, and there isn't a template "how to" that works for every author.
Of course, I do attend the odd class or panel at conventions. Unfortunately, I'm disappointed about half the time in what I find there.
Who have been the most influential people in your career?
Role models or personal connections?
For role models, I'd have to say: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Stephen King, David and Leigh Eddings, Christine Feehan, Elaine Corvidae, Jeff Strand, John Saul...
For personal connections, I'd have to say: Suzanne James, Elizabeth K Burton, Daniel Reitz, Terri Pray, Deidre Knight...
With which types of persons do you feel you work well with as a team?
Ones who are willing to work outside the box and aren't self-centered. If we're working in a team, we're a team. There is no "Well, that doesn't work for me personally, so I won't even consider..." in a team. Either it's good for the team as a whole and what we need to accomplish, even if it isn't ideal for the individual, or you aren't working as a team. I expect people I work with to be conscientious and to think of the other team members.
Which publications associated with your field do you regularly read?
At the moment, only a few online ones...like Maya Reynolds' blog and the Broadsheet. I used to read Writers' Digest, but I don't have time for magazines anymore.
Which languages do you speak, and how have you learned them?
English is my primary language. I was a Spanish translator a few decades ago (four years of study in high school in the AP class), but I'm really rusty from disuse. I know that I pick it up again very quickly, when I try (a semester in college proved that). I'd planned to brush up on it again, when I have a few months.
Beyond that, I speak a few words of Latin, Italian, German, French, Gaelic... I've picked them up in the SCA, from family and friends, and from other authors.
Do you have a website or blog? How was the process in making it? Does it accomplish the purpose for which it was created?
I get more response on my MySpace blog than on my Blogger blog. Not sure why that is, but it is. It might be because I don't have a ton of blogs linked back to mine at Blogger.
My web site is always evolving. It's up to about 60 pages now, and it keeps growing. I think it does accomplish what I want it to, and so I keep adding onto it.
How do you feel about speaking in front of an audience? What experience have you had in this arena?
It took me YEARS to get comfortable in front of an audience. I took speech-writing/speech-performance and performance arts (theatre and public reading) in high school and college. I learned to have notes, to always have something to do with my hands, and to funnel the nervous energy into the performance.
I'm fairly comfortable in front of an audience now. You'd never know I'm a nervous wreck inside these days, but I still am.
I teach classes in public schools and at conventions, sit panels, write speeches and deliver them, speak at town meetings, present awards, and even play hostess, when it's called for.
Do you attend cocktail parties, presentations, fairs or conventions related to your profession?
I do attend conventions, signings, and so on. I don't think anyone has ever invited me to a dinner or cocktail party that's related to writing.
Have you explored the social networks for professionals online? Are you member of any of them?
Of course! I'm a member of Broad Universe, EPIC, Red Room, MySpace, Goodreads, Library Thing, Ning, Amazon Connect, ERWA, IWOFA, YouTube, Mike's Writing Workshop, PNWriters, Write Publish Market, Dark Romance, Fiction That Sells, RLF, MFRW...and so on. I belong to upwards of 120 Yahoo groups alone.
How are you different from others in your professional sector?
I'm something of a Maverick. My first editor refers to me as the Bohemian. I may not do things like others do, but I get the job done, and I do it well, so I tend to have a little slack in the how department.
How is the Interent changing the way you work?
It's not, really. Since I came into this business via the internet, it's always been a part of writing/marketing for me. The hows and wheres may change a bit, but it's all the same game in different courts.
Do you feel your hobbies serve to elevate your career?
I do a lot of research via the SCA. I use my knowledge of the list field to build fight scenes. I use the naming guides to help choose names for characters.
I use a lot of information I have from my hobbies to make fuller characters.
Would you relenquish some of your income in exchange for more free time?
Probably not. Since I love what I do, I'm not looking to escape it.
What are the things you least like about your job?
Being in the public eye means dealing with readers and/or other authors who have a few screws loose. It also means people you don't know or have anything against coming up with insane grudges against you.
Besides your current profession, what other things would you have liked to have been?
I've done most of them already...
I won't say I love accounting, but I love backward engineering accounting systems. I love the creative part of being an accountant...and a programmer. I love finding the back doors.
What is the most important thing you have learned from experience?
Don't try to please everyone. It's impossible, and even if it wasn't, it's better to be decisive than wishy-washy.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
DUH! An author. I've wanted to be an author since I was 7.
I've had people try to change my mind, though. I've had them try to change me to teaching, biology, pre-med, English Lit...
Save some excpetions, do you believe professional and personal relationships should not be mixed?
I don't agree or disagree with this, actually. I'm not the type to jump into a contract just because I know someone personally, but I have no problems with doing so, if the contract is right, and I have no problems having a personal relationship (NOT sexual...but friends/associates) with a professional contract. In many ways, working together is about personalities. If your personalities clash, it's going to be an uncomfortable working relationship, no matter how professional you both are. If you get along well otherwise, it's not uncommon to share a personal connection with someone you have a professional relationship with.
List any credits, publications, competitions, etc.
This could take a while.
I've been published more than 60 times in the last (just shy of) 6 years. That's just in fiction. My non-fiction works would add another 3 dozen or so publications to that list. I write everything from straight genre SF/F/H/Para through cross-genre romance, sensual/erotic romance, erotica...the occasional historical or contemp. Most of my work is milieu-heavy dark fantasy, though I do the occasional romp. I also write articles, poetry, essays, and so on.
I'm a 7-time EPPIE finalist (in 6 categories and in 5 years), a 3-time PEARL finalist (and took HM, second to NY Times Bestseller Angela Knight on my second go), a 2-time CAPA finalist, a DREAM REALM finalist...and an anthology I'm in took Spinetinglers' Book of the Year for 2007.
How do you handle customer complaints?
It depends on the complaint and if the person is reasonable...
If it's dissatisfaction with how I handled something in the book, I've hit someone's nit, and that's going to happen. Apologizing for their discomfort is about as far as I'll go.
If it's some nutcase that is screaming because my characters aren't what the reader wanted...they are my characters, and they are going to do what is "in character" for my world. There's no making that right.
I love my readers. I go out of my way to encourage my readers to talk to me and such, but there's a line we don't cross.
What do you do to manage stress?
Primal screaming? I do yell and slam doors a little. It's better than bringing out fists, so I unload steam that way, when I can. Sometimes, I write a blog post that never posts. Sometimes, I write blog posts that DO post.
How and why did you begin to be creative?
I don't know that I can answer "why" I became creative. Does anyone choose to be? I suppose some people do, but I was born creative.
I've been writing since the age of 7 (poetry and short stories) and competing (and winning) since the age of 11. I was the youngest Taproot (poetry) winner of my time. I won a place in Explorers for Journalism when I was 13. I won a place in the Young Poets at the University of Pittsburgh at age 15. I won a competitive essay contest with a 4-year scholarship at 17. My first public poetry reading was at 19. Writing has always been a part of my life.
Your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?
Keep it busy. Keep it as low-stress as possible. I enjoy candlelight and little or no scent in my environment, though not while I'm actively writing. I prefer writing to watching TV or playing video games, though I do watch a few TV shows online.
How do you avoid repeating yourself, or falling into formula? How do you stay fresh?
Since I've got a character--driven process, each character and world is different. For that reason, I rarely repeat myself. I stay fresh by taking a break from world A to work on world B or character C to work on character D. I write what's screaming loudest, which means that something getting stale on the brain automatically shunts to the back burner.
Who have your teachers been?
My English teachers (and surprisingly, a religion teacher) in high school really pushed me to develop my skills and compete. Most notable there are Ms. H and Mrs. Betty Brunetti from Bishop Boyle High School in Homestead. Boyle doesn't exist anymore, sadly, but it was a great school.
Beyond that? My first editor and one of my later editors have probably taught me the most. They would be Suzanne James and Elizabeth K. Burton.
When you accept a job, how much value do you place on each of the following? Money, creative liberty, visibility, and to work with the best.
WOW! What a question.
The money is nice. I won't lie. Ideally, you should get money and several of the others, but money isn't the most important factor for me. Since I take on contracts where I'll get less money and more exposure, that alone says that visibility ranks higher for me.
I do like a certain amount of creative liberty. So far, I've been fortunate in being allowed to create the characters and worlds I do without much interference. I hope that continues. Would I turn down a contract that didn't include it? Depends on the world. Obviously, if the world is already running somewhere, I'm not going to break my own world rules for a new contract in a larger venue. That's a disservice to my readers who like the world and to myself.
I adore working with the best! I'm already sharing publishers with Piers Anthony, Gary K. Wolfe, Charlee Boyett-Compo, Claudia Christian... I'd love to share publishers with people like Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Angela Knight, Rowena Cherry, Robin Owens... That's my ultimate goal.
Have you ever had a job that was so stimulating that you could not get your mind off of it?
Any book I've ever written?
"To give birth to ideas." Is this only an expression, or are there really parallels between giving birth and creativity?
It's very similar, in some respects. Creation can be painful. I've literally poured sweat, given up sleep, and so forth when I'm deep in a project. And you have the same sense of pride in accomplishment...and a certain amount of protective instincts, though just like with children, there's a time to let go.
It is possible to fall in love with a bad idea simply because it is yours. How do you avoid this?
I've thought I've done this, but the readers tend to disagree. I suppose it's possible, but I haven't done it, so I'm the last person to answer it.
Must someone be the leader or boss in order for a creative team to function well?
Not necessarily, depending on the situation. I've been in co-equal teams that worked well. But, it helps to have someone who holds the reins on deadlines and such, when you have a non-self-starter in the group...or to avoid confusion when dealing with the editor/publisher. One go-to person can avoid a lot of confusion, in the end.
Declaration: With what person or business would you like to work?
I think I covered this earlier, in the question that asked about working with the best. If I was to work with the best, I'd be looking at places like St Martin's, Leisure, Berkley, TOR, Luna, Lovespell... At the top of my list? St Martin's and Berkley!
What criteria do you use when selecting someone to be a part of your creative team?
As a rule, I don't HAVE a creative team. Yes, I work with my editors, cover artists, and publishers, but creative teams to me are much more writing teams, and I do those infrequently. When I do, it has to be someone I have both a personal and professional banter with. People who cause strife in the team stifle my creativity along the way.
The armchair psychologist: Is creativity an act of rebellion for you?
No. If you want to be an armchair psychologist, I can address creativity in those terms. It's a way of venting steam, of escapism, of catharsis, of pouring off the voices in the head in a functional manner...
What is the best advertisement you've seen recently?
The doghouse commercial for the jewelers.
Do you work well under pressure?
Yes and no. If it's comfortable pressure, yes. I work phenomenally under time crunches and such. If it's an uncomfortable pressure, no. I am stifled, when the pressure is a negative energy or interpersonal stress.
What city in the world currently attracts you due to its creative environment?
New York City, but I don't think I'd want to live there. Grinning...
How is an idea sold?
Excitement. If you aren't excited about what you're doing, no one else will be. Of course, it's also got to be presented in a professional, coherent manner. If they can't understand you and follow your lead, you can't sell it.
What do you feel when, after two or three years, you see an idea of yours again?
LOVE IT! I may cringe at the early edits done on my work, but I'm still excited about the ideas. And books can be re-edited.
Ideas can come simultaneously to different people in different places with no connection to one another. How do you explain this phenomenon?
There are six BILLION people on the Earth, all seeing similar images and feeling similar feelings. Eventually, someone has to come up with the same things.
You are as good as your last idea. Wouldn't you like to have a more secure type of work?
No. And, I don't believe you're only as good as the last. There are too many come-backs in the creative realm for that to ring true.
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
Since I've been reading since the age of 5 or so, I have no idea what I read first. The first things I remember reading were paranormal mysteries and mysteries. I started reading romance books at about age 11.
The first people to read what I wrote were family members and teachers. Since the teachers were more supportive, I switched to them reading what I wrote very quickly.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
That I write or that others do? I like a lot of genres, but fantasy romance (of just about any heat level) would be my favorite.
My site is at http://www.brennalyons.com
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I have more of a non-process than a process. I'm a complete pantser/organic writer. I don't outline, unless the work is already done. I don't plan/plot. I don't write linear; I don't know what's coming on the NEXT page, let alone the last page, unless I've already written the last page and I don't decide to add something further to what I THOUGHT was the end later.
I have a character-driven process, by which I mean that I usually have a character or two in mind and maybe a situation. I start writing there and see where it goes. I follow the characters, even when I don't agree with their choices, because they have to stay "in character." All I do is set the consequences to those actions and keep moving.
Sometimes plot twists and characters just show up on the page. I just keep moving and see where they are headed.
If I'm writing poetry or fiction, I write longhand first...two lines to a college-ruled line with gel ink (usually). I do first and second draft that way then start typing into the computer, at which point I tend to add up to 33% to the length just by adding description.
If I'm writing non-fiction, I write directly into the computer.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Any. There is nothing that doesn't spark an idea, reading or not.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
A consistent, coherent and well-drawn world.
Consistent, logical characterization...even if the character isn't logical, the motivations should be.
Rising and falling tension. Tension doesn't only rise in books. There should be plateaus, releases...times when it's not just rising and rising.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I would have said first person in high school. Now, I say third, unless the story falls naturally into first person. Then I follow the character into first person.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Robin Owens, Rowena Cherry, Elaine Corvidae, Jeff Strand, Tee Morris, Christine Feehan, Angela Knight, Deborah Lynne, Susan Kearney, Margaret Carter, Myra Nour, Janet Miller, Piers Anthony, Stephen King, David and Leigh Eddings, Joan Vinge, Robert Heinlein, John Varley, John Saul, Dean Koontz, Jean Auel, Laura Baumbach, Karen Harbaugh, James Morrow, Gloria Oliver... And many more.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
A character can't be perfect...perfectly good or perfectly evil, UNLESS the character is MEANT to be a parody or meant to be perfectly-flawed, as in obsessive and a flaw in itself. Characters have to be a tapestry of good and evil.
It has to be well-rounded. It has to have likes and dislikes, wants, needs, fears, neuroses...
It has to act "in character," according to all of these things. It has to even speak and think in character. For instance, a character with no industrial or scientific background won't describe something as smelling like sulfur dioxide; rather he will describe it as having a smell like rotten eggs.
Even if the character isn't one you're supposed to LIKE, as a reader, it should be one you understand and can follow a logic stream for.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Only if I know the story well. There's no backspace key on oral storytelling.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
My own sensibilities and those of my characters, though the readers influence my choices to offer a story for sale. Usually, their sensibilities urge me to release stories I hadn't originally planned on releasing...and they do well.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Short answer? Yes. You can work out a lot of problems by writing. I started doing that with my poetry, but I can honestly say my first two novels were almost completely catharsis.
Does reader feed-back help you?
It keeps turning stand-alone stories into series. Grinning... Basically, feedback tends to push me to writing stories I wasn't certain I was going to write for the public.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
Ouch... I've answered this in other questions, but yes...I do enter competitions, and I have won awards.
My first competition (competing and winning) was the Taproot poetry competition at age 11. I was the youngest winner of my time.
I won a place in Explorers for Journalism at 13. I won a place in the Young Poets at the University of Pittsburgh at 15. I won a 4-year competitive scholarship with a timed essay at age 17.
As an adult, I've won SCA poetry contests, and I placed 3rd and 4th in the Knowne World Poetry Contest at Pennsic two years running.
Since I've been a professional novelist, I've finaled in the EPPIE 7 times (in 6 different categories and in 5 years), finaled in the PEARL 3 times (taking Honorable Mention second to Angela Knight the second time out), finaled for 2 CAPAS and a DREAM REALM award...and took Spinetinglers' Book of the Year for 2007 with an anthology I'm in.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I used to share them with a local support group, but I don't do that anymore. The answer today is "never." No one sees my work until it's at least ready to submit.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I think the voice changes over time. I'm very happy with my voice, but I know it's not a static thing. I'm not "searching" for one, but neither do I expect it to stay precisely as it is now for the rest of my career.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I keep my goals and such very general, UNLESS I'm on deadline. Even then, I give myself a deadline and just work within the construct of an end-point. Being a pantser, anything beyond writing every day and deadlines is counter to my methods.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Books, hand-written notes, reviews, pictures, cover art, awards, fan letters, music, supplies, comfortable chairs...
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I've answered the process question already, so let's look at edits.
I tend to do a couple of edit passes. Before I type the handwritten work into the computer, I do a cleaning pass for major holes. After it's typed in, I do a pass in the computer, looking for my usual tells, switching from Verdana to Courier to shake up the eyes a bit. Then I do an auditory pass in the computer. At that point, it's ready to submit.
After each edit pass, I do another auditory edit. IF the galleys come in a print form, I do it there. If they come as a PDF or RTF, I do them in the computer. I LIKE print galleys better, but I can do them either way.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
Ouch... I belong to upwards of 120 Yahoo groups alone. What are the ones I tend to use most?
EPIC, ERWA, IWOFA, Write Publish Market, MFRW, Broad Universe, Mike's Writing Workshop, EPIC eWorkshop...
What has been your experience with publishers?
This is an amorphous question.
If you're asking what publishers I've worked with, I've worked with indie publishing so far. I throw my hat into the NY ring once in a while, but they haven't been ready for my style so far. Then again, NY is usually 5-10 years behind indie press, so that's not a surprise. Maybe they'll be ready for me soon.
My list of current publishers includes: LooseId, Mundania, Phaze, Under The Moon/Final Sword Productions (and by extension, Mojocastle Press), and Logical Lust. My list of former publishers includes: eXtasy Books, New Concepts, Triskelion, Treble Heart, Llewellyn, and Dark Hart Press.
If you're asking what sorts of publishing situations I've dealt with, in a more general manner... I've been with traditional royalty-paying press and I've self published twice. Not subsidy or vanity but true self-publishing. I've dealt with contracts that are net and those that are gross of cover. I've dealt with established houses, start-ups...houses imploding for owner problems, those in bankruptcy, and some that are solid as a rock. I've dealt with publishers that do only e-books, only print books, are primarily e-book publishers but offer some print later, and those that are primarily print publishers but offer the two simultaneously. There isn't much I haven't seen.
What are you working on now?
I'm on a book submission deadline for two Kegin books right now (did I mention I write in 19 series worlds PLUS stand-alones?), but I take breaks from them to work on two others. I'm also preparing for two major contests in January (2009). I have more than 80 WIP and 28 signed contracts to be satisfied by sometime in 2010/2011. To that end, I am in final approval for two book covers, edits for one book, galleys for another...and filling out the questions here is my down time.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
There are several possibilities.
With some editing and re-writing they may be marketable. If they are, give them a go.
If they aren't particularly attractive to publishers, you could still use them as promo. Readers LOVE free reads, but make sure they are a good example of your work, if you use them that way.
If they are novella or shorter, you may be able to donate them to a worthy cause (charity sites or anthologies), which will get you exposure but not money. Exposure may pay off in sales later. Again, make sure they are something you can be proud of, if you choose to put them out there with your name on them.
If they are completely unworkable, save them. Why? They can remind you how far you've come. AND, they can make great additions to the "evolution of an author" if you ever donate to a writing program. Even unpublished works can be donated for this purpose...and who knows? Posthumously, many things you never thought would sell have.
What was your first computer, and which is your current?
A Tandy that I blew up within an hour, in an attempt to test the randomizer.
I own three computers now (Windows machines, though I use Macs at work)...plus a PDA.
Online virality: isn't it the same as traditional word-of-mouth?
Not precisely the same but close. It's more like free samples being given out. The main problem is that not all the free samples being given out virally are given with the permission of the copyright owner.
What were you doing in March 2000, at the height of the "dotcom bubble"?
Working in special needs child care...and tracking a non-custodial mother on the run for the worried father. Grinning... Oh, and working as a journalist for a prominent (at the time) e-zine.
Will bandwidth one day cease to be a limitation?
I certainly hope so. There's little reason for it, in most cases.
What is your stance as a marketing professional? What are you good at? What differentiates you from others?
Having time in the chair is a great boost. When you've had time to piecemeal together your marketing into a sturdy net, you have an advantage. Someone building a web page is at a disadvantage, when compared with someone who has had the web page in place for the last 8 years and just has to add to it and change information. The latter has time to expend on other marketing efforts.
Also, some marketers don't realize that no single effort works on your entire audience. You need to make impressions on people with differing tastes and likes. That means you can't funnel all of your efforts into similar marketing outlets, like a web site, MySpace, Facebook, and Amazon Connect. They are all of a "type." Better than that would be having two of the three and adding on chats, Yahoogroups, tag lines, reviews, interviews, spotlights, blurbs and excerpts on lists, articles written for the exposure...then add the other two of that type back in, when you have extra time. That creates a broader base to lead people who notice one item to the rest, make your dozen impressions...and make the sale.
A marketing strategy begins with an idea. How are yours born?
It depends entirely on the book. When PROPHECY was out, writing for Pagan magazines and anthologies were a great tie-in, for instance. When FAIRY DREAMS was new on the scene, addressing fantasy and world-building was a good tie-in.
Did this product exist ten years ago? And the brand?
Depends on which product we're talking about.
The idea of horror erotic romance, for example, was UNHEARD of a decade ago. Some people still stop short at the idea and have to ask what in the world that could possibly be.
Comedy horror or fantasy romance is well established.
What is the key to gaining consumer fidelity?
Offering consistent quality and not cloning your product over and over. Keep it fresh. Keep it engaging and active. Don't let the quality slip.
What differentiates your product/service from the competition?
Ah...now isn't that the whole idea of marketing? That's one of the failures in the approach a lot of marketing folks are making these days. They are stuck on the tried and true...it worked before...the copycat effect. Unfortunately, the copycat effect leads to the diminishing returns effect.
In order to sell, you have to tell the reader what is different about the product/book, not how it's "like" the dozens of others released this month in that subgenre. Your blurb must, at the same time, make it clear what the subgenre is and tell the reader why THIS book is a must-read, among the others.
What is a better way to communicate your product: emotional or rational?
For fiction books, I'd say you have to evoke something of an excitement, an emotional response. Now, you may accomplish that by evoking an intellectual response, as well. But, you want to generate hype...excitement...a sense of (pardon the pun) novel storytelling.
Can you cite brands or well-known products that you admire for marketing brilliance?
Sherrilyn Kenyon and Rowena Cherry are goddesses of the book marketing trade!
Are we heading towards more individualised marketing and advertising?
Online book marketing is much more individualized, because it gives personal interactions with authors. From recent pollings, online marketing for books is much more effective than old marketing plans.
What percentage of your marketing budget is invested in digital advertising and why?
A large portion of it. The return is much higher than with paper promo. I do still do some pens, pins, bookmarks, business cards and paper ads. The rest gets spent in personal appearances and online marketing. Luckily, online marketing (overall) is much less expensive than traditional marketing.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned about digital marketing in the last few years?
That blogs were good for anything BUT self-indulgence. Grinning...
A few years ago, it was said that online sales would end up killing traditional store sales, but that has not been the case: how can you explain this?
People still like browsing...and not everyone trusts buying online.
Are you part of any professional networking sites? Has it served its purpose for you?
Tons of them, and yes... I've gotten contracts via them. I've gotten sales via them.
What is your blog address? What subjects do you deal with?
PLUS the ones at Ning, and MySpace... All told, I have twelve blogs or so.
What was it that made you create your blog? On what date did you start it?
Actually, my Blogger blog is the second installment of it. When Blogger and Google combined, it messed up my blog so that I could no longer participate in my group blogs, so I had to start a new one and transfer things in. I believe the original was started in 2005 or so.
I actually started the blog, because it seemed a good way to store articles I was writing on Yahoogroups in a central location.
What blogging system have you adopted and why?
I work on a lot of different blogging systems. Blogger is the main one, the easiest to access for people who aren't on particular networking systems. Ning and MySpace blogs are primarily for "friends" on those systems. Amazon Connect is specifically meant to place blog posts directly on book buying pages.
How many visits a day do you get? What type of comments do you receive?
My blog posts usually cross-post to three or more blogs. On one, I average 33 views per post. On another, I average 200 or so views per post. On some, I average much less. It depends on the blog.
And, most of the comments are discussion of what I'm talking about or links to articles I might find interesting.
Have you created relationships with other bloggers or readers of your blog?
If you mean cross-linking and such, yes. But, I often know these people from Yahoogroups before I know them from blogging.
How often do you post? Does regular posting of your blog require a lot of effort on your part?
I try to post once or twice a week to the main blogs and every month or two to the lesser blogs. Sometimes, I don't quite make that. Life intrudes. Other times, you'll see four posts from me in a week.
Since I use the same...or similar posts on several blogs, it doesn't add much to my workload...and I'm often posting about writing news or something I'm talking about on Yahoogroups, so my posts are half-written.
Does blogging bring in income for you? Can one make a living from posting?
Since my blog includes information about my books, it's tied into my marketing plan. In that way, yes...I can make money from posting.
How do you promote your blog?
I'll often comment on a Yahoogroup that I've got a blog post on X up. Come on by and comment. I do interviews for other authors, which means they promote my blog. I do reviews of other author's books, which means they send people there to read them. And blogs on networking sites automatically bring in your usual parcel of readers.
Are there any blogs you follow daily or regularly?
Several. Alien Romance, Sherrilyn Kenyon's MySpace blog, IWOFA, Maya Reynolds' blog, Sci Fi Guy, Three Wicked Writers, Oh Get A Grip... None that I follow daily, but fairly often.
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to begin a blog?
A couple of things...
Remember that the readers want a piece of you, but they aren't your confidants. There are some things better left UNSHARED.
Along the same lines, remember that what you say is largely there for life, even if you later delete it. Think twice before you post in anger. People have been fired for the contents of their blogs. It's a very real concern.
If you're setting yourself up as a professional, make sure what you say is well researched and sound information. If it's not, you're not a professional; you're just a hack with a blog.
What hobbies have you got?
Swimming, hiking, camping, SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism...though I'm inactive right now), writing, reading, photography, fingerloop braiding, cooking and baking...
Which actor would you like to be?
Oh, I so want to say BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, just to be cute. Seriously, why would I want to be someone else? I like who I am...for the most part. I could use to lose a few pounds (okay, more than a few), but I still like myself.
I won't say I hate acting, because I loved it in high school, but I wouldn't want to be someone else. Everyone has problems, you know.
A simple pleasure that for you is quite big or important.
Sleeping in, when my body allows me to sleep that much.
What is the greatest loss you have had in your life?
A "friend" who turned out to be a two-faced sort. I've had enough of that in my family. I don't accept it from people who claim to be a friend.
How do you respond to telemarketing calls?
Not interested. Put me on your no-call list.
Are you an ex-smoker? How did you quit?
Nope. I have asthma, so second hand smoke is the sum total of my torture with it.
It is 5 pm on a typical Sunday: what are you doing?
Spending time with the kids. Maybe working on my laptop in the living room with them. Getting ready to make dinner for the family.
Something in which you are completely incompetent.
Games that require hand-eye coordination. I'm rather clumsy and hopeless, I'm afraid.
You have nine wins in a row in a game of roulette: do you continue because you are on a good run, or abandon the game because statistically, it is your turn to lose?
I will assume I've made a good bankroll with those nine wins? I wouldn't be betting all my winnings back anyway. I might do one more small bet to see what happens, but since I'm not a betting sort... I'm not sure I'd be playing the game, in the first place.
What toy gave you the best moments of your childhood?
Is it pathetic that I can't remember any single toy, but I can remember my first electronic typewriter?
What was your favourite primary/secondary school teacher like?
Ms. H was Bohemian like I am. She was teaching AP English, so we were already FAR ahead of the curve, and she knew it. We were so far ahead that we'd read a book and test on it then spend the next couple weeks watching a movie about the subject or a movie adaptation of the book we read. Once a week or so, she wouldn't show up for first period English, that being our class time. We'd go to the library, break out the snacks, watch videos... The principal didn't bother to interfere with us, since his standardized test scores depended on us, and we didn't cause anyone problems.
How did you meet your current boy/girlfriend?
LOL! I talk about this on my web site, actually. I've been with my husband for 22 years now (2008) and married to him for 20. We married when he was 21 and I was 19.
I met him while I was working for his father, and Bob and I got along so well that I called him "Dad" for more than a year before I met Rob. Sounds like it should have been easy sailing, but it wasn't.
For one thing, Bob was warning off the powder puffs I worked with, and I didn't realize he didn't mean it for everyone, so I thought he wouldn't approve of us dating.
To boot, Rob hardly made a good first impression...or second. The first time I tried to talk to him, his mind was elsewhere, and he didn't realize I was talking to him. From my POV, he ignored me completely. The second time we crossed paths, he was looking for one of my supervisors, and he called me by her name. For the rest of the story, visit my site at http://www.brennalyons.com
What was your first vehicle?
The first car I personally owned was a mid-70s Duster that was painted the black and white of a Texas trooper. My husband threw a rod on it and killed it within a month.
The second was a '78 Thunderbird that we called the T-Chicken. It burned more oil and power steering fluid than a fleet of cars usually do, but I loved her...until I was pregnant for the first time and NEEDED air conditioning to deal with summer in VA Beach.
Your New Year resolutions.
Mine are usually more like writing goals for the year. I gave up personal resolutions long ago.
Is there any superstition that makes you change your behaviour?
Actually, I'm a rather anti-superstitious person. I consider 13 a lucky number (whatever that means, since I'm not the betting type), especially Friday the 13th. I've owned a couple of black cats.
Now, some superstitions are common sense sort of things. Only an idiot walks under a ladder, when someone is working on it. That's just begging for something to be dropped or the ladder to be bumped.
Does knowing someone's zodiac sign help you to better understand that person?
Not usually, though I have found people who are closely linked to their typical Zodiac sign descriptions...usually Aries.
Please list something you have not yet done, but that you would definitely like to do someday.
Visit the UK, especially Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.
A bad habit you have overcome.
If I feel someone is simply missing the big picture, I tend to argue a point too long. I am passionate about many issues, but some people just don't WANT to change their minds, and I waste too much time trying to educate those who want to remain ignorant.
A word or expression that you love.
I'd be glad to help.
Talk is cheap. Rolling up the sleeves and doing the work is what is needed. A lot of people in this world are content to talk a good game and do NOTHING. A lot of people are content to complain but never be part of the solution. Until you are part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
A word or expression that you detest.
I'm entitled to...
Sorry, there are certain inalienable rights. If you've studied your history, you know them: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness... I would add on freedom of thought.
Everything else in the world is a privilege. Even those inalienable rights can be curtailed with prison time or the death sentence, if you don't use them responsibly. People can scream about the "Bill of Rights" all they want. They are only "rights" in the loosest sense of the word, because we agreed as a nation to hold them sacred. You can and many in this world DO live without them. They are privileges, and you only have them as long as you use them responsibly. Then you lose them, proving they aren't inherently rights.
In this life, no one OWES you anything. You get respect when you earn it...or not at all. You get money when you earn it. You get an education when you work for it. You keep rights when you hold them dear and fight to keep them...and use them responsibly while you have them.
Another side note here... Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you should. Whether it's illegal or not, if it hurts someone else needlessly, maybe you shouldn't be doing it.
What do you imagine yourself doing for your retirement?
Writing until the day I die...but the hope is that I'll be able to travel abroad a bit, once I don't have to consider everyone's schedules.
Did God create the world in seven days, or do you believe in the theory of evolution?
What is a day to a god? Beyond the fact that I firmly believe the Bible is meant to be taken figuratively instead of literally, the words of a god...and the perceptions of a god are far beyond the human sphere of understanding, so we attempt to apply our own limited perceptions to it.
What am I saying? There is undeniably a design and science to what happens. It's engineered, almost definitely. Now, whether that engineer was a deity or a godlike alien isn't my concern.
I don't believe that it was done in seven days, as the Bible states...not literally, because that would be assigning human understanding to a god's works. Never a good idea, IMO.
Now, that doesn't mean I don't believe in the idea of evolution. It says in the Bible that God shaped his creations. How does a god shape a creation? By making minute changes? That is what shaping implies. If the creator is a godlike alien instead of a god, it might be by genetic manipulation not unlike we've seen with Chromosome 2.
Who says the ideas of evolution and creation are inherently in opposition? A lot of people do, but I don't believe that. If a higher power of some sort created and set in motion the universe and all of the wonders we know, inserting certain timings that are found all through that creation, why couldn't such a being also shape those creations over time to perfect the vision, in that god's own good time?
Personally, I think people sell the idea of "God" far too short!
To what percentage do you believe in statistics?
Handled correctly, they can be a good thing. Far too often, they are manipulated to spin doctor to some end. I always want to know how large a group is, where it came from, what controls there are, how the questions were worded, how the data was collected, and so forth. If those are obviously skewed, any results will be, as well.
Do you believe many illnesses can be caused by the mind?
Of course. Psychosomatic responses are very common. If you pay attention to it, you can slow your heart. That being the case, your agitated mind can speed the heart; ever heard of a panic attack?
In the same way, a stressed mind will weaken your resistance to fighting off illness.
Do you believe it is true that humans only use 10% of their brain capacity?
For some humans, that might be an excessive estimate. For others, it's a slim estimate.
I believe that's how much of the brain we need to survive and perform most tasks, both physically and mentally. I do believe some people use more than that 10%.
So, what's the rest for? If you read my answer on evolution, you'll see that I don't believe we're through being shaped. What's to come? Higher functions that require more brain? Longer lives that require more space for memories? Who knows, but I think this is the built-in space for something more to come.
Using the subway without paying, shoplifting: is there excessive tolerance to these small offenses?
How could I possibly answer 'no' to that, when I feel there's excessive tolerance to other crimes that are much more harmful? When a bunch of kids torture and kill animals and get what amounts to a slap on the wrist, because they are kids (teens), there is something inherently wrong with society. Personal responsibility is lacking, by far. And the justice system isn't helping matters.
Does brand name influence your buying habits?
Not past the idea that I know a particular brand of jeans is cut how my daughter likes or something similar. In fact, I usually bypass name brands on most products. There are a few exceptions in foods but not many.
Do you think tipping is a good custom?
Yes, but I'd like to see more people tip at a minimum standard. The people who rely on tips earn less per hour in expectation that they will earn a certain percentage in tips. If the service was good, I consider tipping very well, but I still have a minimum I tip...unless the server was grossly negligent or abusive.
Are there too many holidays in the work calendar?
I don't get many, so I don't think so. There are some jobs that give holidays for every little thing. I can get to be too much, but I don't fall prey to it.
What is your opinion of the rise in popularity of plastic surgery and implants?
What someone does to his/her own body is not my business, but I feel the entire evolution of expectations on personal beauty is ridiculous! It's unbelievable that people will harm themselves in repetitive surgeries to achieve some unrealistic standard of beauty. And I certainly do NOT expect medical insurance to pay for completely gratuitous surgeries; if you want them, pay for them out of your own pocket.
OTOH, plastic surgery used to repair after injury, cancer surgery, or from birth defects is a wonderful thing. There's nothing at all wrong with righting a wrong/harm this way. And I DO expect medical insurance to pay for this sort of surgery.
Do extraterrestrials exist?
With the infinite space available, it's highly unlikely that Earth is the only planet that has evolved life on it. Do they come by and buzz us? Maybe. The surest proof that they are intelligent is that they haven't tried to establish contact with us, yet. We are still primitives in the way we treat each other. Why would we treat them any better?
What do you currently have in your MP3 player?
I don't own an MP3 player. I do have some music on my PDA...mainly 50s-80s classics, a few alternative pieces, and some SCA music.
What books are you currently reading?
I just finished the first two Lords of Avalon books by Kinley MaGregor and the latest Dark Hunter book by her alter-ego Sherrilyn Kenyon. I also just finished a great new Maya Banks book.
Places in the world that you have visited recently.
New York City
Vader and Longview, WA
What do you use: Mac or PC and why?
PC, unless I'm at work, and then it's MAC. Honestly, I use PC at home for the software I like using, though I often use Linux/Mozilla products even with the PC.
Do you find the saturation of advertising in the media excessive?
There's a reason I don't have cable anymore. I don't watch broadcast TV, at all.
Do you believe there is excessive sex and violence in the media?
Again, I could answer this a couple of ways...
Do I feel that violence necessarily leads to kids/adults being violent? In a game or TV show, no. In real life, yes. Or sexually active? Absolutely not!
Do I feel there's extraneous sex and violence in the media? Sometimes. If it lends to the advancement of plot and characterization, it isn't extraneous, but some companies and/or creators of media believe that more is better, even if it's shoved in for no reason but adding it. I disagree with that assessment.
Do I feel that higher levels of sex and violence are inherently dangerous to kids? No. Why? There are ratings for a reason. Eminem made a great point in the song "Without Me." If a writer or singer or movie-maker creates an "adult-oriented" product, markets it to adults, rates it for adults, etc. and a child gets his/her hands on it...
Where are the parents? It is my job, as a parent, to be aware of what my kids see, hear, read...save the violence inherent in the world around them. It's my job to monitor what they do online, with movies and music, what they read...and so on. An adult-oriented media that is accessed, against the express intentions of the creator, by children is the FAULT of the parents...not of the creator.
In the same way, I loathe parents who are so busy being the child's "friend" that they forget to be parents. What the child wears...what the child does to her body in a permanent fashion (piercings, tattoos, etc.) ARE things the parent should be involved in. If the parents don't do so, saying they can't is a cop-out. Where were these parents at age 2 and 3, teaching limits so they were already ingrained at age 16?
What were your favourite subjects when you were in primary/secondary school?
I don't think I really had a single favorite. I loved science, math, logic, reading, writing, world cultures...
Do you think video games, chat rooms, etc. have a dangerous addictive
effect on teenagers?
Okay, that's the simple answer. The more complete answer is, in a world where parents have consistently used electronic babysitters for kids, they become attached to them. In a family where reading is encouraged, parents read to kids and electronic media is limited...no, it isn't addictive.
Look at it this way. In a household where one or both parents are alcoholics, the children are more likely to grow up to be alcoholics. In homes where they see parents drinking in moderation...even when the kids (ala Europe) are allowed to drink small amounts in moderation, there is moderation.
It's not just genetic; kids learn what they see. If they see excess...or conversely are punished for any interest and hence never taught moderation, there is excess expected.
Have you ever bought works of art? What type of art? What compels you to purchase art?
I've bought several types of art... Animal oil paintings, The Accolade by Edmund Blair Leighton, hand-drawn or painted fantasy art...
I like for a piece to be striking...bold...evoke feeling.
Piracy continues to grow: What will happen to the music and film
industries and culture in general?
Why does everyone forget to include BOOKS in pirated material? That says a lot about society, in itself.
Honestly, this is another issue where people have this strange entitlement idea. No one OWES them their entertainment. They aren't even doing the Robin Hood thing and stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Most publishers and authors aren't rich. Most never will be. By pirating, people are taking the presents from under the Christmas tree and food off of the tables of an author's family. I'm sure they wouldn't like it, if the authors were taking what they'd worked for.
Rant coming... Sorry. This is one of those things I feel passionate about.
What are the lies pirates tell themselves and others?
I covered the first. Authors and publishers are rarely rich. They are hurting the authors by pirating books. They are hurting the publishers.
"I love authors and books. I'm just giving them more readers." NOT. They're hurting the authors and publishers. That means they might decide to stop offering the books the pirates claim to love so much. Not only that, but every pirated copy is a copy that doesn't SELL. The choice of a publisher putting out the next book is highly based on what sold before. If the books don't sell, the publisher drops the author. If you really love the author, give him/her word of mouth. Write a review of a book you like. Encourage friends to buy it. I'd even go so far as saying to let a SINGLE friend read your copy of it, but don't pirate it to hundreds or more people. There is nothing helpful in that.
"Information wants to be free." Or some other idiocy, loosely based on the Freedom of Information Act. Bull! Sorry, but that law deals with public records NOT IP (Intellectual Property/Copyright/Trademark/etc.). Any spouting to the contrary is just that...mindless attempts to excuse breaking the law...copyright, at least and possibly Millennium Act.
"There's no close book store, so it's okay for me to..." Even if you live in a place where you canít order print books to be delivered to your door, which is true of some overseas readers, you can order e-books. Iíve had friends stationed (or expat) in China and the Middle East check for me. They can, in fact, access Fictionwise and several other approved e-book distribution/reseller points to purchase books from their locales. In fact, my friend in China thanked me, because it saved him a monthly flight to Singapore to purchase English-language print books and the money to send those books home, when he was finished with them. Reading e-books on his laptop and/or PDA was the method of choice for him overseas. So, the lack of a physical English-language bookstore selling paper books is NO excuse for stealing e-books. Buy the e-books, and you donít have a problem.
"I can sell or trade or give away paper books. You're infringing on my rights of ownership. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" Okay, CYA time. I am quoting DIRECTLY from Monty Python's Holy Grail, Dennis the Annoying Peasant. See, always respect copyright of others! Beyond this it all gets into idiot claims and blatant disregard of the laws that govern not only books but also digital media. I won't repost the entire discourse here. For more information on e-books and the law, you can read my old article on the EPIC site at http://www.epicauthors.com/article-fallacyofebooklore.html and Rob Preeceís at http://www.epicauthors.com/article-epirates.html
I'm sure I'll end up adding my comments on DRM eventually, as well.
How do you explain the rise in "fame" culture?
Oh, what a fun question. I could answer it a variety of ways.
In many cases, people are doing less and living vicariously more. In others, people make themselves feel better about their shoddy lives by assuring themselves that the rich and famous have it bad, too. In some thankfully rare cases, the loathing morphs into outright attacks on the famous person.
Now, the magazines and news services are all about making money. Celebrity sells. Scandal sells better. In many ways, they make the fame problem all the worse.
Let me give an example. In a SINGLE issue of one popular magazine I was scanning while in a doctor's office, the magazine did several pages on how wonderful it was that Jamie Lynn Spears was pregnant at 17 and engaged to the baby-daddy (which notice all fell through?) AND was lamenting the fact that teenage girls are pacting together and planning teenage pregnancies. Now, am I the ONLY one who can see the dichotomy there? They glorify what Spears is doing then act as if it's a surprise that teens who aren't famous are role modeling on Spears?
What do you have in your wallet right now?
A couple of dollars in bills and change, drivers' license, medical insurance cards, BJ's Club card, blood donor card, business cards, bank cards, library card, a compact pen, medical appointment cards for the kids...
How do you kill time?
Reading and writing, usually.
In which city do you live? What are your favourite and least favourite things about it?
I live in a town north of Boston.
I love the school system. Of everywhere we lived while we were Navy, this is by far the most responsive and inclusive program I've ever dealt with.
My least favorite? That's hard to choose.
It would either be the poor drivers... Asimov called driving in Boston "anarchy on wheels" some 50 years ago, and it hasn't improved. In a phone survey of drivers in all 50 states and DC, MA drivers came in dead last. They either don't know what the laws are or know and don't care, because they are too self-centered to care. My husband once saw a harried driver break the law, driving on the wrong side of the road, run over a police officer then shout (as they were carting her away): "I don't care who died. I'm late for work." Add in the fact that half the drivers have phones held to their ears, which takes one hand off the wheel AND distracts them from the road.
Or, it would be the rude people in New England... I'm originally from Pittsburgh, PA. Arguably, we're brusque, and people often feel I'm rude, when I don't intend to be, because I don't pad my responses or pull punches or tell white lies to make people feel better. At the same time, I know the difference between brusque and rude. For all their bad rap, New Yorkers are, by and large, brusque. People from CT and MA are RUDE! They are self-centered, and many have no sense of personal responsibility or community spirit. It's rather daunting to live among them.
Where have you thought of going for your next holiday?
Another trip to NY City...or possibly a trip to Philli.
What matters more in deciding your vote: the party, the candidate, or the ideas?
The ideas. Unfortunately, the big two parties are full of people taking money from interests I feel have no place in US government...as well as people giving lip service to things they have no intention of following through on. I'd rather see a real multi-party system with people who give us what we want and need and stop talking out of both sides of their faces.
What is nationalism?
Depends on your definition. If it's support of the nation, it can go one of two ways...good or bad...what is best for the nation and its people or following the party line. If it's patriotism, there really is only one way it can go realistically. Some people mistakenly say they are patriots, when they are, in reality, a nationalist.
Nationalists will often support the "ruling party" and the "government's dogma," no matter the results. These are the people I say MISTAKENLY call themselves patriots.
A true patriot doesn't blindly follow the government. Loving your country doesn't mean agreeing with or even supporting those in charge of it and their choices, which are often fueled by personal greed and private interests. There are several quotes about patriots that say it all, IMO.
Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.
It is the first duty of every citizen to question authority.
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Do you believe in any of the conspiracy theories regarding 9-11?
It amuses me that some of these things are called "conspiracy theories." Some of these are scientific facts. Free-fall speed and Newton's Laws haven't changed in more than 300 years. They won't change, just because the "spin doctor" of what really happened that the government has been feeding us for the last 7 years disregards common sense and established scientific principles. Until a plausible explanation, accounting for those inconsistencies, is advanced, the spin doctor government version IS the conspiracy theory.
Are there peoples more civilized than others? Or is it merely a question of cultural differences?
Civility is a matter of perception. A lot of psychopaths believe they are highly civilized, because their moral code makes sense, from their point of view.
The entire idea of things like kink, deviant behavior, aberrant behavior... It all comes down the idea that somehow we can agree on what is "normal." Unfortunately, I've found that the vocal minority that thinks they are the majority tend to try and overwhelm with their perception of "normal."
In this system of government, money talks...and special interests tend to skew the results with their political games.
Are there too many taxes?
Not so much too many as a skewed system of taxes. I personally believe things would be much more "equitable," if we did away with income taxes (which never actually passed, in the first place...seriously...look it up) and instead instituted a National sales tax, import tax, and luxury tax that would firmly place the tax burden on the rich, who can afford it and who buy excessively. I would also make the business sector PAY these taxes, as the individuals do, placing the tax burden on them. No breaks for being a corporation or somesuch.
You buy anything BUT necessities (groceries, cleaning supplies, toiletries, clothing, shoes), you pay sales tax on it. If what you purchase is more than double the norm for such an item (i.e. $60 or more jeans instead of $30), you pay an additional luxury tax on the overage. If you buy something overseas, you pay for it in sales tax here. It's only equitable; if I purchase something in NH, which has no sales tax, and use it back home, I have to pay at the end of the year in MA for the sales tax they lost. Why not a National equivalent to it?
Do you believe in affirmative action?
Though I would benefit from it, I find that "affirmative action" is no longer the equalizing factor it should be. Ironically, though it does end up in a reverse discrimination effect, it still hasn't done what it should have done. Looking at the numbers, minorities (including women) are still in less high-ranking jobs and earning less money than white men, in many industries.
I also find it amusing that, if there was a call for submissions (and there often are) that say it's only open to women or to African Americans, that's fine. If white men had a call only for them, there would be an uproar. Like I said...reverse discrimination. In some ways, the former leaders are less free to do what other groups can do.
Should a maximum limit of permissible personal fortune exist; and thereby, place limits on individual wealth?
I would argue against this, if someone has earned or inherited their fortune. However, I am a firm believer that it is truly obscene to see CEOs earning millions every year...or sports' stars...or what have you. I don't care how good you are, it's stomach-churning to see it. No sour grapes here. Just being honest. It's a broken system.
Should consensual offenses such as drug use or prostitution be legalized?
Depends on the situation...
There are drugs I feel should be legalized...mainly marijuana. I don't use it, but I know from study that its effects are less dangerous than those of alcohol, which IS legal after 21. The lung/throat/mouth cancer effects are no more dangerous than cigarettes and cigars, which are legal after 18. And, it has got benefits...including medical use AND clothing and rope that is durable (the REAL reason the plant was made illegal in the first place), made from hemp. Rather than keeping it illegal, it should be legalized, given a standard like age 21...and taxed. The MAIN problem with this would be second-hand smoke. How do you keep children from being exposed? Ah, but that's one concern and a whole lot of positives...not to mention the kids exposed to cigarette smoke already.
Now, other drugs...like heroin, meth, and cocaine shouldn't be legalized, IMO. They do have inherent dangers, not only to the user but also to those in contact with the user.
Prostitution is a stickier subject. As a wife, I wouldn't want it legal for my husband to sleep with a prostitute; maybe better handled with laws about adultery, but beside the point. Beyond the feelings of betrayal of trust, you have to deal with issues of STDs. Even condoms are not 100% effective, and even if the prostitute is clean this week, a leak in a condom with an infected client, and she's not next week. Why should I be at risk for what gets passed that way?
But, not all clients are married men. It's none of my business, prostitute or not, who a man (save my husband) sleeps with. If people are willing to pay someone for sex, as long as my life and money isn't involved, that's none of my business, either.
And yes...I know women go to prostitutes, as well. I'm just choosing a gender for the sake of discussion.
Are you pro-choice or pro-life?
Another of those sticky questions...
I would never deny that there are good reasons to have abortion legal. If faced with a situation where carrying the baby is dangerous to the mother...in cases of rape or incest or sexual abuse of a minor... I'd WANT to be able to offer an abortion, in some cases.
I also agree that some people abuse the system in a complete lack of personal responsibility (something you'll hear from me often). When I was a teen, one of my cousins was lax about birth control. But, three times (by the age of 16), she "ran away from home" to her aunt's house, got her aunt to sign for her to abort an unwanted pregnancy, which was offered free under the laws of the time, and then went home. All legal by the PA laws of the time.
For all that people state that abortion is safe, it's not as safe as simple attention to contraception. Nor do I like the idea that the state was picking up the tab for a careless teen to have abortions, when she was completely unwilling to take personal responsibility for her own sexuality and use a simple condom and/or estrogen-based birth control (admittedly not safe for everyone). Repeated unnecessary surgeries (even minor surgeries) have ramifications, as my cousin learned when she had problems carrying a child in her 20s.
I don't personally feel I have the right to tell anyone else how to live their lives. Though the adoption lists are heavy with people who would love to adopt a baby, even carrying a child can be a hardship, let alone delivering it and taking time off of work to recover. And, there are a ton of kids being abused or neglected or abandoned into the system too late to adopt them out easily by parents (and I use the term loosely) who would have been better off not being parents EVER.
I respect the sanctity of life, undeniably. I also see that there are situations where abortion is the best choice in a bunch of lousy choices. That places me pro-choice but for what I feel are valid reasons.
Are you in favor of or against the death penalty?
Sticky question, at best.
If I say I'm for it, I open the can of worms that begs the question, "What if the person was innocent? Set up? Whatever?" Would I risk killing an innocent man? I'd hope that never happens.
If I say I'm against it, I open the opposite argument of, "Why are we paying so much money to jail someone who not only committed heinous crimes but will have to be kept in isolation to avoid being killed in general population? It being a given that some would, after all, and knowing that isolation for years is mind-breaking and crueler than death, in the long run. And what about criminals like Manson, whose followers STILL try to break the inner circle still alive out of jail, causing death and destruction in their wake? Gods forbid they ever succeed in breaking these people out!"
I'm a Libra. I believe in balance. I'd never want to see an innocent person put to death. It's bad enough they get placed in jail, sometimes for decades, before being proven innocent. But, there are some people who, as matter of course, would die easier with an injection than they would on the end of a shiv. I'm definitely against the more barbaric forms of carrying it out, like the chair. Shudder.
I know some people feel that the death penalty is about revenge, and the guilty SHOULD suffer, since their victims surely did. I don't feel that mindset is EVER valid. It's about closure, certainly. It's about avoiding worse outcomes. But, inflicting pain in vengeance makes you no better than the criminal; simply hiding behind the sacred name of justice to accomplish it.
For you, what is "the good life"?
Surrounded by friends, fed, warm, content, in a job you like, not scrounging to keep house and home together....
What is the secret to happiness?
Stop reaching for the BBD (bigger, better deal). Stop looking for something outside yourself to MAKE you happy. Instead, take a minute to appreciate what you have and take baby steps to improving what you have instead of grand plans that will likely fail. I'm not saying not to reach for the brass ring, but don't pin your happiness on it.
What is a friend?
You like asking the hard questions, don't you? Some people use the term "friend" loosely. I don't. Perhaps it comes from lacking in the family department, but I see a huge gap between acquaintances/coworkers/etc. and friends.
Friends don't lie to you. Friends may argue or have temper tantrums, from time to time, but they don't destroy trust during them. Friends accept you, the whole you, without trying to change you to their comfort zone. Sure, they'll give you crap, but when the chips are down, they are there trying to help you straighten out your life. Friends aren't perfect, but you accept them, the same way they accept you. Friends don't stab you in the back or turn on you, when they are in a bad mood...or for any other reason. Friends are closer than family, because let's face it...you can't choose the family you're born into, but you can choose who you open your life to.
Does the soul exist?
I believe there is something of the individual that we cannot see. If you want to call it a soul, that's fine. I don't believe the soul/spirit is always confined to the body. Under certain circumstances, I fully believe the spirit travels. What happens to that spirit after death of the body isn't my concern. Again, that would be me...as a human...trying to apply my limited understanding to something beyond the scope of my experience. I'll leave that to greater beings.
Your own definition for beauty
Physical beauty is completely subjective. What one culture finds beautiful, another will find repulsive. The ideas of inner beauty...kindness, grace...those are more universal, though still not absolutes. In the end, I'd have to agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
What is God?
From hard questions to impossible ones? I'm human. I cannot know, in this frail human state, all of a being so vast. Anyone who claims to know God is either insane or has seen a small piece of the whole and mistakenly believes he has seen the whole of God...or the flip side of that coin...is so self-important, he believes he is capable of knowing all of God.
If you were a millionaire, what would be your charitable work?
Not surprising for a writer...literacy. Well, to be honest...education of all sorts. I am a teacher, after all.
Your sins and virtues.
Are we talking about Cardinal sins and virtues? Or in general?
I am occasionally prideful, but not as much as people think I am. Often, what is seen as pride is my rock-determination to passionately argue a point. It's more often you'll find me practicing humility, in that I don't like when people call attention to my selfless acts. I like a simple thanks from people I help, but I don't like a fanfare.
I am kind and rarely envious. I'm perfectly capable of pushing aside my own wants for the group and being truly happy for people who advance, even if I don't advance with them. And, I always try to keep others in mind, when making decisions.
I am extremely patient, but I have a WICKED temper, when I'm angered. Most of it is releasing steam. I don't hold in anger well. I have to vent it to go past it. To those who have seen me vent anger, it seems that I don't have patience, but I do. I do not, however...have patience for people who thoughtlessly or purposely hurt others, and there are too many of those in this world.
In some respects, I am a glutton, and in others I am incredibly temperate.
The whole lust/chastity thing has always fried me, in some ways. I'm passionate with my husband. I don't see that as lustful. Since I'm not off hitting on other guys, I suppose I'm chaste. Chaste doesn't mean a cold fish. I appreciate beauty and passion, anywhere I can find it.
I am generous with my time and when I have it, possessions and money. I don't think greed can be applied to me.
I don't think anyone would argue that I'm diligent. I do procrastinate on one thing to tackle another, and I might be seen as slothful, because I'm not physically active much, but I am always in motion, even if it's not physical motion or exercise.
As for Plato's Cardinal virtues...
I've already covered fortitude and temperance.
I am a GREAT believer in justice; it goes part and parcel with being a Libra, since we're all about balance, equitable rules...not to mention universal rules, extenuating circumstances notwithstanding. By that, I mean the rules should apply to everyone, high and low.
Depending on your definition of prudence, I may or may not practice it. I do a lot of forethought (play Devil's Advocate) and so forth, but I am occasionally rash. I suppose everyone is entitled to a bad day or two in life.
Please list three important words for the world today.
Responsibility, empathy, community...
What will your epitaph be?
Always in motion but never enough time in this life to do everything you want to do.
Boston, MA- USA