Sunday, March 28, 2010


I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers: Of April, May, of June, and July flowers. I sing of Maypoles, Hock-carts, wassails, wakes, Of bridegrooms, brides, and of their bridal cakes. ~Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Here's to new beginnings

It's not perfect, but it's a good start. Thank you, President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to the American People. 

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhit

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jesus Wept

Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another dream realized: Alla Breve Publishing

In the early 20th century, a group of English writers and literary enthusiasts came together and formed a literary club known as The Bloomsbury Group. Its best known members were Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster, and Lytton Strachey. Because their writing centered on controversial subjects and was on the cutting edge of literature, aesthetics, criticism, and economics as well as modern attitudes towards feminism, pacifism, and sexuality, many of them were shunned by the established publishers of the day. So in order for them to publish their writing, they pooled their resources and purchased their own printing press and put it in Woolf's basement.

Now I'm not comparing Steph or myself to the likes of any of the incredible or influential writers listed above, but it is no secret to many people that Steph and I have been frustrated by the state of the publishing industry for quite some time now. In the last twenty years or so, it has become quite evident that mass marketing and big profit are the greatest concerns of the publishing industry, and publishers only use writers as a means to that end, caring little for quality, content, subject matter, or originality. Now, snot-nosed kids with MBA's in business marketing serve as screeners, and if a book isn't "marketable" or doesn't have bestseller potential, the manuscript is flatly rejected no matter the quality of the story or writing. In Steph's case, she put over 15 years into the research, writing, and shopping out of her novel, Night Music: The Memoirs of Wolfgang Amadé Mozart, and sixty-some-odd rejection letters later, it is still sitting on her hard drive unpublished, despite the fact that virtually every rejection letter came with the comments that it was a wonderful story that was beautifully written. The only reason it was refused in each and every case was that they didn't "know how to market it". She has now become so frustrated with the same old rejections, and so tired of re-writing the story over and over to please the publishers, that she has abandoned Night Music to write a trilogy of historical fiction novels based on the rock & roll scene in 1960's through 1980's England.

Because I have watched the frustration and heartbreak that Steph has gone through with Night Music, (and have had my own heart broken over it along with her), I knew that when I began writing So Faithful a Heart that it was most likely it would be doomed to the same fate. So about half into the writing of the novel, I made the decision to self-publish it. I had been introduced to the online print-on-demand publishing company,, through several other writers whose books Steph and I had read (and found to be outstanding quality), that were about obscure subjects on which standard publishers wouldn't take a chance. Because Steph and I are of limited financial means, we were unable to afford a vanity press (which we didn't want to use anyway), so I was excited to learn that I could publish my book through Lulu without any upfront money nor would I be required to purchase hundreds of copies of my book only to have them sitting in my garage rotting because I couldn't get rid of them. So in November of last year, when my book was completed, I published the first edition with Lulu and put it out there in a limited market format to test and see how it would be accepted. To say the least, I was blown away by the response! It sold around 50 copies in less than six weeks and the feedback was incredible. People loved the subject, the story, the writing, and everything about it. I was given comments such as "I can't put it down", and "I don't normally read love stories, but this one is fantastic",  or "I stayed up all night so I could finish it and then I cried myself to sleep!"  So after such favorable response, I decided to write an expanded version and publish it "for real" with an ISBN number that would allow it to be distributed and marketed internationally.  In the meantime, Steph had begun seriously writing her trilogy and we realized that this writing thing could actually lead to something bigger.

We have always dreamed of one day owning our own publishing company, but we figured that it would be too cost prohibitive. But what we didn't understand was that what we were doing with our books by writing them and publishing them through Lulu was actually the beginnings of our own company. We already own a web design company, Alla Breve Design for the Arts,  so why not incorporate a publishing branch under the same name and use Lulu as our printer & distributor? So when it came time for me to publish the second edition of So Faithful a Heart, I published it under Alla Breve, and thus our company was born!  In the near future, we plan to purchase our own block of ISBN numbers (which is not as expensive as one might think), and publish Steph's trilogy in the same manner, only with our own ISBN, using Lulu as the printer and distributor. We're planning to expand our company to include other genres and to invite other writers to submit their work to be published through Alla Breve, turning it into a small publishing company that specializes in "niche market" writing in which the "big" publishing companies aren't interested.

So there it is--another dream realized.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Righteous Indignation

Yesterday a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about how the Oklahoma State Senate on Monday voted to ignore the Federal government's expansion of the 1969 Hate Crimes Law which President Obama signed into law earlier this year to include violent crimes motivated by gender, perceived gender, sexual orientation, or handicap. Already existing in the law were crimes motivated by racial predjudice.

When one of his more conservative friends came in and announced that his rights to free speech were being violated by this law, and that the federal government's intrusion in this area was unconstitutional, I came in and asked him to explain to me just how his rights were being violated by this law. He responded thus:

 "When bills are written that extend protections to specific groups, they potentially criminalizes those who speak out against said groups."

He then launched into a diatribe against federal government intrusion and how we liberals have a "narrow world view".  So I decided to show this young man just who had the narrow world view. The following was my response.
And these bills wouldn't be necessary if our existing state governments and law enforcements would do blind justice to each and every person who is the victim of a crime no matter its motivation! But unfortunately, in 1969 the Federal Hate Crimes law was enacted because we had too many governments and law enforcement agencies (especially in the South), who would not protect their black citizens. So the federal government had to step in and ENFORCE their protection. If state governments REFUSE to do justice and enforce the equality found in their own constitutions (which cannot, by law, be out of line with the US Constitution), the the federal government not only has the RIGHT but the RESPONSIBILITY to SEE TO IT that those laws are ENFORCED. The bill has been expanded to protect other classes of minorities because it has become clear that state governments, once again, are not willing to protect all of their citizens EQUALLY, under the laws of their own states. So when ALL states and the agencies of those states begin to act JUSTLY, according TO THEIR OWN LAWS on the behalf of ALL their citizens, then perhaps we can reopen this debate and discuss the evils of big government and federal intervention.

If you want this kind of federal government intrusion to end, then get off of your ass and stop whining about how your rights are being taken away from you, and go to your STATE government and DEMAND that it enforce the equality that is already built into its own constitution! Demand that EACH AND EVERY citizen in the state of Maryland be treated EQUALLY under the laws of your state and demand that law enforcement agencies investigate all rapes, domestic violence against women, racial crimes, crimes committed against the handicapped, violent crimes committed against transsexuals, gays, lesbians, and everyone in-between be investigated and prosecuted to the FULL EXTENT of the LAW. THEN when your state COMPLIES to their OWN LAW, and the federal government is still bent on intervention, you will have a right to complain.

Thus endeth the debate.

Thursday, March 11, 2010