A Peacock in a Land of Penguins, by BJ Gallagher

a-peacock-in-the-land-of-penguins-lAs many of you know, I work for a company called Berrett-Koehler Publishers.  My employer’s favorite book is celebrating it’s 20th Anniversary Edition today.  I feel proud and happy; I contributed ideas and feedback for the “bonus chapter” which was added to the new edition.

The author, BJ Gallagher, is an AMAZING lady, chock full of opinions and warmth and love. She rescues sick puppies and kittens and is always posting pictures on Facebook of her aging mother she cares for. She gives everyone in my workplace amazing Christmas presents every year- this year it was chocolate penguins and brightly colored feather pens that say, “Show your true colors.”

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Zero Echo Shadow Prime, by Peter Samet

Zero Echo Shadow PrimeQuick Description: Frankenstein’s monster would deeply approve

Mary Shelley, hold onto your hat!  Here’s what you might have written had you been alive in the 21st century.  Zero Echo Shadow Prime explores the same rich themes as Frankenstein (overreach of technology, human hubris, identity, the relationship between creator and creation, defying death) but does so in an even richer and more multifaceted way.

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Who’s the best at being nonviolent?

We responded to 9-11 attacks, by killing 63 civilians for each American who was killed by the attacks.

Protesters have responded to police brutality (which has killed MORE people than 9-11) by breaking shop windows, including the window of my favorite coffee shop, Bittersweet.

Tell me again how the protesters aren’t nonviolent enough.

I believe nonviolence is the answer. But it seems like the activists are demonstrably better at being nonviolent than the world leaders we admire.

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How to Be Safe From Protests: Join Them

This video I took while marching in the Ferguson protests in Oakland contains one of the most memorable and important moments of my life- a young organizer begging his fellow protesters not to intimidate and frighten a trapped white businessman.

“We’re not going to let each other be split apart. That’s what they want us to do. They want us to fight each other. But we’re not!” he told his friends. They listened to him, and an ugly situation was averted.

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Stop Laughing at Creative Adults

Children are praised for their creativity. (“Of course you can be a ballerina, honey! You’re the best dancer in the world!”)

Adults are told not to waste time on creative pursuits. (“Remember when I told you that you could be a ballerina? IT WAS A LIE! There are only room for a handful of ballerinas at the top, and they all kill themselves doing it!”)

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Should Feminism be Angry?

Today is a big day- I get to officially unveil a project I’ve been working on for weeks.  A group of writers, including me, have created a website dedicated to promoting strong female characters in literature. Check us out!

Website: Rewriting Mary Sue Facebook: RewritingMarySue Twitter: @RewriteMarySue


My friend Amy who started the group said she wanted to promote any type of female character, “Who could not be replaced by a sexy floor lamp with a post-it-note on it.” (This expression comes from: here.)  I thought this was an absolutely tart & hilarious way of summing up the problem: too often female characters in literature are just there to look pretty and perhaps advance the plot mechanics by delivering a piece of information. They don’t have enough action, enough agency, enough internal narrative. And they are often jammed into stereotypical boxes. Continue reading

Manifestation, by Jason Cantrell

manifestationQuick Description: Creative apocalypse tale with a protagonist you really feel for

How I found this book: I’ve been following Jason Cantrell’s blog and Twitter for a long time, so his debut novel finally being released was a big event for me. I’d followed him along his journey of creation, laughed at his jokes and snide comments, heard his heart-felt stories, and even helped him with a critique of some poems he’d written from the viewpoint of his protagonist. Teachers will be touched by this blog post of Jason’s about how his fifth grade teacher helped him through a rough patch in his life by encouraging his writing.

Emotional depth: Manifestation is an extremely emotional read. In fact, after the first two chapters I had to take a break and recover. Continue reading

The Dragon, the Girl, and the Twitter: A True Story of Portland and Magic

As a child, I envied the children in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, for their ability to open a door into Narnia. I would stare at the back of my own closet with a wistful yearning in my heart, wishing the same was possible for me. Once at my grandmother’s house I even crept behind her coats and knocked a little at the wood, not truly expecting anything to happen, but feeling a weird pang in my heart.

I’m not the same lonely person I was as a child, always dreaming of escape. By some freak chance I achieved at a reasonably happy & well-adjusted adulthood. So it’s particularly ironic that Narnia arrived exactly at the moment I no longer needed it.

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Does society accept nerds?

In my lifetime, I’ve seen society move from reviling nerds to glorifying them. It’s an incredible social change. But does the revolution go far enough?

We’ve embraced the positive: the nerd’s endearing love & enthusiasm for obscure branches of knowledge. But there’s still discomfort with the dark side of nerddom, aka social disability. That is not to imply that all intelligent people are socially handicapped (sure, there’s a lot of variety) but there is some correlation between intellectual excellence and social weakness.
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You Don’t Need to Be Happy for Me

I’m very upset about Robin William’s suicide. He was my favorite actor. The characters he depicted were in terrible, tough situations and dealt with them using humor. I’m wondering now how much his characters were based on himself.

Society treats depression like a character flaw you can overcome using willpower. People feel they have a duty to fake cheerfulness for the sake of others. What this boils down is people hiding their depressive symptoms until it is too late to get help.

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