Archive for the politics Category

No Ban, No Walls, No Raids

Posted in Muslim, politics, Trump with tags , , , , , on April 30, 2017 by rachelcoles

In honor of the May 1 protests, here is a copy of the letter to senators that I am sending. There are no physical protests going on Maui, so I will be sending my protests by mail and internet. Please feel free to copy this letter and use pieces of it, if you like, that match your own situation:

Dear Senator,

No ban, no walls, no raids. The executive order to ban Muslims and other immigrants, the demand for a wall to be built between us and Mexico, and the ICE raids going on even in the face of assistance organizations and sanctuaries for people in need is despicable, unconstitutional, and un-American. The poem by Emma Lazarus which was written to raise money for the pedestal on which the symbol of our nation sits is about accepting immigrants, those who have nowhere to go. If Congress does not speak up and stop the ban, prevent the wall from being built, and stop the raids by ICE, the symbol of our nation will be a lie.

This country was built by immigrants. With the exception of services provided by Native Americans, every single thing bought and sold, every transaction, every service provided, from medicine, to education, to science, to the food we buy from the grocery store, that was grown in or out of our country, has been made possible by immigrants. We have been making jokes about it because it’s absurd that we have to, because at the end of the day, it’s the truth. If we keep others out of this country, we are crippling ourselves in terms of new ideas, brain trusts, and skills that come into this country that we need. In addition, we make ourselves hypocrites to every other nation in the world, and lose all credibility.

Banning immigrants and refugees, and deporting people who may even have lived here for decades does not increase our national security. We already had background checks in place to make sure people who meant harm didn’t get in. Occasionally that failed. It failed only because of statistics. There is no such thing as perfect security. The answer is not to become paralyzed by fear, not to expel everyone who seems different. That only serves to make enemies and sow anger among people who only want to live as Americans. That behavior makes us less secure, not more. When we are kind to people, they remember that too. That is how to build loyal Americans. My family is Jewish. They are alive, I am alive because America took them in. My family has repaid that service with loyalty to America, to the country that didn’t let them down. I myself have worked in public health for 17 years, and now work in child welfare services, in government. Believe me when I say that kindness matters. Kindness is the difference between a child who survives and becomes a gift to the people around them, and one who crashes and burns and is lost. This is true of all people, not just troubled children.

Please act with aloha, kindness, and the American spirit, and fight against the immigration ban, against the wall, and against the immigration raids. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rachel Coles

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Happy Late Passover and Easter!

Posted in discrimination, history, indie, indie authors, politics, racism, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2014 by rachelcoles

Hello fellow Indies!

I recently did a Facebook quiz, God those are addictive, about which circle of Hell I would fall into…Yay! I got Heresy. And no one who knows me was surprised. Though I could have done with some nice Lust or Gluttony. Those are always fun. I’m a big fan of those. I recently discovered, after going with my family to San Diego and visiting the Ghirardelli’s chocolate store that no chocolate can escape my event horizon.

I also recently visited a museum in Salt Lake City displaying the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran. Other interesting things were displayed in that exhibit. Among the interesting things I learned, thought already read about some time in the past was that the kohanim of the Temple during at least part of the Roman Empire would only accept coins with…get this…the head of Herakles on them…yep, you heard correctly. The head of a pagan Greek/Roman demi-deity. The Maccabees took the Temple back from those greeks some centuries before that because of the naughty statues of Greek gods erected in the Temple, that some of the priests were secretly worshipping too. Well, at least politicians of every nation throughout eternity are consistent…And finally, though worship of the one God was the official state religion of the Kingdom of Israel, the same way that Islam is the official state religion of Iran, though there are a million other religions practiced too, the ‘peasantry’, like me, just went ahead and worshiped whoever the hell they wanted as they had all along, including their ancient Canaanite pantheistic gods, as observed by the booby goddess dolls found in their apartments by archaeologists. Most of them never gave up worshipping Asherah/Astarte/Ishtar, the wife of El–thunder god extraordinaire, or Jewish Zeus, if you prefer. That’s right. The WIFE of ‘God’. Hmmm. Wherever did she go?

Needless to say, I have a hard time believing in organized religion for religious purposes. I think it’s great for getting together with family. So I do enjoy Seder, for the food and the company, and especially the discussion. To that end, and because I’m a complete heretic, I’d like to share this Exodus story I wrote a while back. A slightly different take on the Exodus than in most Bibles…

Plagues

Dom: Blood

The crimson water trickled out of Miryam’s amphora, as the brutal sun rose in the sky. There would be much suffering today in Miztrayim, among the slaves as well as the free. Though the situation would not be as dire for the pampered artisans and craftsman, most of the unskilled labor slaves she knew couldn’t keep much water. And the only water to be had needed buying. Many laborers would die today in the simmering heat. She looked out across the wavering expanse of scrub and sand toward the city of Ra’amses. The ululating wail of women bounced across the alleys from the city, as everywhere people found the blood water. Even the clean water in the city had been polluted. She sighed and sat down at the water’s edge, not caring that her skirt had fallen in the river. She ruminated as Egyptians and Hebrews ran back and forth, her water jug empty, her face burning in the sun. They were doomed by an incompetent god.

According to her crazy brother, Moshe, God had promised to lead them from bondage, but hadn’t enough foresight to save them clean water in his great smiting of the Egyptian ‘majority’. It was these great planning skills that were supposed to sustain them in the desert should they follow him, as Moshe kept suggesting. He never shut up about it. She sat staring at a gory reflection of herself in the puddle into which she had emptied the jug. A rail thin man, his rib-cage prominent and laced with scars, dropped to his knees next to her and looked at her with cavernous eyes before leaning down and slurping from the puddle with his lips. He sat up for a moment, sated, and then clambered to the river and vomited bloody water onto the rocks. We’re all doomed, she thought.

Tzfardeah: Frogs
The kids ran back and forth throwing frogs at each other. Miryam skirted the guard outpost near the palace, trying not to draw the guard’s attention by staying still too long. She watched the ruckus in amazement, until one of the bare-chested painted guards, swiping at the frogs, decided the kids would make a better target, and strode forward, sword drawn. The children scattered, fearlessly pelting the guard in a rain of amphibians and then vanishing. Kids could make games of everything. And after living under a pall of violence, nothing phased them, not armed soldiers with a hatred of their kind, and certainly not frogs.

At first it had been cute. Yehoshuah, her eight year old son, had brought in a little brown frog, as she pulled the morning bread from the oven, sweating. She hadn’t paid much attention. Another stray thing Yehoshuah was going to adopt and let loose in the little brick apartment.

“Outside!,” she had ordered, and followed him outside to make sure he let the slimy thing go.

It had been a little cute, staring at her with round black eyes, and round little toes. As soon as she got to the door, she dropped the bread tray in astonishment, spilling the bread to the dusty earth. She cursed. There were frogs everywhere, carpeting the road, roofs and every other surface. She turned and looked back inside. Frogs of all sizes leaped and bumped and pushed into her dry goods with abandon, burping and croaking wet little sounds. Shouts began issuing from every house on the block. She took a squelching step, and almost slipped on a bump and the ichor that oozed from the frogs that had appeared underfoot.
“Arrgh!” She yelled, casting a venomous look toward Heaven and stormed into the house just as her foolish brother approached with purpose.

She rolled her eyes. Moshe’s ‘purpose’ was getting ridiculous, an affectation only the privileged could afford. The rest of us have purpose to say alive, she thought. He had grown up in the Palace, adopted by the Princess who had decided that he was too cute to be a laborer, she thought bitterly. While the rest of us sweat and toil and die by bits. Mother encouraged it! She spent more time with Moshe in the palace, than with me and brother Aharon. First-born boys! Think the world owes them!, she thought savagely as Moshe barged in. Yocheved, their mother had convinced him that he had a ‘mission’ to help his people in his position, instead of fucking exotic slave girls. Trouble was, she never really aimed him in a particular direction or defined ‘helping’, so away he went. Now he ‘has visions’. God save us from visionaries! His newest crusade was only the latest attempt at self-imposed ‘redemption’. She faced him with her feet planted and her hands on her hips. It did nothing to diffuse the fierce light in his eyes as he entered, his breath ragged with passion.

“Do you see! Do you see that our God avenges us? Now do you believe me?”

“I believe you’re an idiot with delusions of atonement. Frogs? Really? What kind of idiot drops frogs on people?!” She held her hands out, surveying the chaos.

“Hush your blasphemous tongue! Don’t speak of God in that way! He’ll deliver us from bondage!”

“Us who? Saving you, from perfumed whores and sweet water and slaves with fans?”

“I have never used slaves. My women are willing.”

Miryam snorted.

“I am a Hebrew! I am your brother. Have you no care for me?” He suddenly looked as forlorn as the young toddler the princess had pulled from the rushes, glancing back toward the family who had left him there, hidden. “I gave up all that.” He gestured at the plain tunic and breeches that had replaced the gold-woven linen finery.

She relented, her dark angry eyes softening, “I guess. Thermusthis, your ‘mother’, must be angry. She’s probably wishing she left you in the river.”

He shook his head. “She loves me like our own mother. Why do you expect so ill of her. She is a kind woman. She understands why I must do this.”

Miryam sighed. “Ok. Right, your mission. Here’s a little blast of reality: you live in the palace surrounded by people who aren’t too fond right now of the other side of your family. You need to be more careful or you’ll wind up crocodile food at the bottom of the Nile. Don’t think you’re untouchable just because the Princess wanted a son and ‘saved’ someone else’s. Her Daddy doesn’t think you’re so cute, I will wager you a week of food on that!”

“He will not move against me right now. In fact, he is considering my proposal to release the Hebrew laborers from their contracts, if not all bondsmen of Hebrew descent. He fears us.”

“You can’t possibly believe that. Fear is why people try to destroy us, not keep us alive.” A frog dropped onto her head. She smacked her hand down with a squish, made a face and wiped her hand on her dress. “So He couldn’t have come up with a plague that was less…slimy?” She grinned.

He put a burly arm around her, towering above her by the length of her forearm, and shrugged. “I’m not turning down His help. Things can’t go on this way. Ramses has lost his mind, he’s genocidal.” He looked at her with sharp brown eyes. “I heed your warning. I know the only reason I’m still here is because of Thermusthis. He dotes on her. She watches out for me like a hawk. But now he knows what I am, he is just waiting for an opportunity. I will not give him one.”

Miriam put her hand on the side of his face. Dumb-ass brother! They turned at the sound of retching from one of the nearby hovels, and then looked down at the ground, helpless. Following the blood plague, scores of their already weakened people had died right alongside the Egyptian citizenry, sickened from drinking the poison when there was nothing else to drink. Even the beer had turned. The smell of sick was everywhere. And now this.

Kinim: Lice

She woke up with a raw scalp from scratching in her sleep as though insects had been burrowing beneath her skin. There were the same raw patches all over her body when she whipped aside the clothes from her body.
“Moshe! Moshe! Call Him off! He’ll kill us!” She yelled, but no one answered.

She sat at the side of her pallet with her head in her hands. It took all of her effort to resist squirming and screaming. Something crawled all over her, and she could tell by the shrieks that had become commonplace in the city in the past couple weeks, that her experience was being repeated everywhere. Instead of easing their lot, these plagues were making things worse. The government didn’t believe they were in real danger, and it only made the hatred against her people seem justified. Acenath, her Egyptian neighbor, had faithfully brought food over every week when Miryam’s family hadn’t enough. But yesterday when they had met in the street, there was an uneasiness in the woman’s eyes, and she had pulled her son Kosey to her, subconsciously, as though Miryam would snatch him or turn him into an animal, the child she had helped watch since he was an infant. Acenath had caught herself in her reaction, and gave Miryam a vague apologetic glance and then hurried into their home. The soldier raids had intensified, and three more Hebrew families had been arrested in the past two days. No one would ever see them again. Yocheved remembered when they had been considered ‘Egyptian’, with slightly different customs. And then in the space of a few years, following Ramses ascendency, they had woken up ‘Hebrew’.

“Auuuugh!” Miryam tore her clothes off, baring herself, scratching at her genitals frantically. The infestation was even in her womanhood. She ran and ran until she reached the river and threw herself in.

Arov: Flies

She wiped the bile from her mouth, almost tipping over the stinking pot. The frogs had made the food bad, and fevers had begun throughout the city from the lice. Miryam flopped back on her pallet and wondered how she was going to get up for work. Badness was coming from both ends, and if her mistress was in a foul mood, she’d get beaten for her lovely aroma.
Yehoshuah burst in, darker every day from the field. His wide chocolate eyes took in her condition.
“Eema, there’s something coming! From the desert.” He ran to help her up.
What now? She thought sourly, stumbling to the doorway. There was a thin dark growing line on the horizon. A deep hum vibrated in the air. Dread filled her belly.
“Get inside, Yehoshuah! Now!”
They ran in and Miryam began pulling cloth across the windows sealing every possible crack in the hut. The hum got louder. Miryam grabbed her child and drew him in her arms into the corner behind the pots. He struggled, but stopped and let her cover him, as soon as he saw the fear in her face. Something like a wall of air hit the side of the hut and a droning buzz swarmed around walls that seemed thin as papyrus. Flies boiled in through the cloths she had wedged quickly in the windows. They swarmed over everything, wiggled through her hair as she shielded Yehoshuah, and covered her face against his small back. The buzz drowned all other sound. She coughed out a fly in horror and contemplated that maybe death by the lash or by the guards, was preferable to anything their ‘guardian’ God could provide.

Dever: Cattle Pestilence.

Ramses was scared. The flies had covered everything, a dark plague born in the empty wastes between lands, evidence of an angry god, one that seemed to be gaining in power every day. One from which his own gods, indeed his own divine father seemed unable to protect them. For weeks, Ra, Horus, and the others had been silent. And this new Hebrew god was insane. His followers hadn’t been spared the plagues that had befallen his land so far. This god didn’t seem to care that they suffered, just that they were bonded as slaves when they did it. Their god would rather kill them himself, it seemed. Well, maybe that was the answer. He, Ramses, would kill them all before their god killed the proper Egyptians. He beckoned to the nearby Greek slave, who brought him the scroll he’d ordered. He dictated the edict that on this night, all Hebrews would be exterminated. And then he paused, his hand over the seal. Instead he grabbed the scroll and threw it in the flames of a brazier, a holy fire to Horus. This new god was too unpredictable. Bastard Mo-ses, the sorcerer threatened to call down more plagues if his birth people were not released into the desert. Something in the man’s eyes gave Ramses a needle of fear. One he shouldn’t be feeling as the son of a god. He couldn’t give in to terrorism, but the prospect of loosing the laborers to the desert, where they would die of exposure seemed more and more appealing. That might kill a number of birds with one arrow. But if he released them on demand, he’d look weak. Damn that Mo-ses, and may the Soul Eater devour him after death! He complicated everything.
A slave ran in, his head shepherd, a black wa-Lemba tribesman from the nearby Cushite kingdom. He was sweating and trembling. He bowed before Ramses, his god.

“My god…” he stuttered. He seemed unable to continue.

Ramses fidgeted with impatience. “Finish what you came here to tell me.”

“The, the cattle. They have fallen ill.”

“With what? How many?”

The man kept his head down, shuddering. His voice was muffled. “All of them I have seen. They are dying. It is the pestilence, my holiness. It is claiming them all.”

Ramses kicked him in the face, and then grabbed the sword of a guard and ran him through the gut as he grabbed his bloody nose. “No one threatens me! Blackmail! Trying to terrorize my people will not be tolerated!” He stormed to the palace entrance.

The city was in disarray as people ran through the streets wailing at their misfortune. Dead and dying cattle were wheeled through on carts, the corpses destined for the midden heaps to be burned, so their pestilence wouldn’t poison whatever herds remained. The only meat for the markets tomorrow would be the cured reserves that were supposed to last through the drought. He snapped orders to his ministers to release a portion of the drought provisions from the royal storehouses to see people through the next few weeks until more animals could be purchased from the kingdom of Punt and other allies. That might help quell the panic for the moment. No stores would go to the god-damned Hebrews. They could starve for bringing this on his kingdom.

Shcheen: Boils.

The violence had increased threefold. The Pharaoh had gotten Moshe’s message about releasing Miryam’s people, and instead of complying had decided on a show of strength. Which was exactly what Miryam had expected. A political genius her brother was not. He had spent his entire life embroiled in palace politics, yet people’s reactionary nature seemed to have washed over him like the Nile. The raids had doubled, with every other family, including children declared traitors and enemies of the kingdom. But more disturbing was the civil unrest. She cleaned up the camel dung spattered on the outside of the house from the teenage mob that had gone from Hebrew house to house last night. Four of them had stormed in through her front door, yelling expletives at them. One of them had knocked Yehoshuah unconscious, while the other three held her down and pulled up her dress. Ari, her husband, accompanied by Har-An, Acenath’s husband, had run in from the quarry and struck the young man with his mattock. Two intruders fled, as the mattock felled the attacker who was about to violate her, and Har-An dropped the last assailant with a meaty fist. The two men looked hard at each other. Har-An took his mattock with a deep breath and ended the one still alive that he’d knocked down. Ari grabbed bed cloths, tossed them over the remains. They hefted the bodies over their shoulders without another word and left in the direction of the river. Miryam scrubbed the stains on the floor.
A day later, the Egyptians had reason now to be scared. Following the riots, very few Egyptians were on the streets, and moaning could be heard from the houses Miryam passed on her way to collect water. Of those she saw, every visible piece of skin was suppurating with sores upon sores. These walking horrors stared at her clear face in supplication, begging someone whole to do something to relieve their condition. None of the Hebrews had been affected, it seemed, at least not by whatever affliction this was. Maybe God’s aim was getting better, she thought sourly. Except, she liked most of her Egyptian neighbors. It was having money that made people act like idiots, not the gods they worshipped. And nobody she knew had any, so they were always perfectly nice. After putting down her load of water, she stopped over Acenath’s house next door, with some of her meager food and water. The place stank. Both Acenath and her husband and Kosey were curled on their pallets. Miryam rushed to the child. His face was erupting with pustules, and she could feel the heat from him without touching his forehead. She wet a cloth in clean water and laid it across his forehead and trickled more onto his lips. She did the same for his parents. Acenath just stared at her with dull eyes. Miryam sat with them until she had to leave for her mistress’ home.

Barad: Hail

The thatch roofs were burning and collapsing. And the ones that weren’t alight were being pulverized by fist-sized hailstones along with any fool who tried to save them. Lightning cascaded down in three different places as she watched. El, the storm-God of the Hebrews was doing what He did best. Miryam flinched as she peered out the window in time to hear the punctuated squawk of a chicken that had run in panic, and see a puff of feathers stained red. Acrid smoke drifted in and a strand of fiber and gray ash floated in midair. She bolted upright, the fire was close. She peered as far out as she could without getting beaned by hail. A conflagration was three houses away, and Acenath’s roof was starting to catch from the drifting embers of other fires. A woman ran down the street, trailing smoke and fearing fire more than the physical assault from the black sky. Everywhere people were yelling, covered in welts and bruises as water for the fires was handed in from the river. Miryam grabbed a partly full water jug and hoped for the best as she ran to Acenath’s house, climbed to the roof and doused the growing flame. Hailstones slammed into her, and she fought to keep moving and tried to block blows to her head with one hand holding the jug. Apparently there was no special shield for Hebrews out in the open. Brilliant. Maybe their reprieve from the boils and sores had just been luck or different food or something. Acenath ran out, covering her head with her hands, but a carbuncle blossomed above her eyebrow as an ice ball pelted into her. Having survived her illness, she wobbled on her feet, looked up at Miryam and ran back inside. A moment later, she emerged, climbed to the roof and handed Miryam a full jug of water.

“You!” Acenath called back into the chaos on the street, to anyone. There was no husband to help her now. Har-An had not survived. “This fire will be yours if it spreads! Help me!”

Water came, by Egyptian and Hebrew hands scratched and shredded by the pounding hail. Within a few minutes, her fire at least was out. Lightning cracked into a house down the street, sizzling the water in their cistern, and making Miryam almost lose her hold. People melted back into whatever shelter they could find. As Miryam slid down, she noticed sparks landing in the thatch on her own roof. Acenath did too. Tendrils of smoke curled up and then extinguished. A hailstone almost took off Acenath’s nose as she stared, then shook her head and grabbed Miryam’s arm and ran into her own house.

“Maybe your house would be safer,” she said sourly to Miryam. “But I can’t leave Kosey here by himself.”

“I’m fine, Mum! I’m almost a man.”

“Just because you’re the man of the house doesn’t make you a man yet! And you shouldn’t be out of bed!”

The boy sat up, sores healing on his face. He rolled his eyes.

Miryam shook her head. “I’m as confused as you are. Trust me.”

“Your house didn’t catch fire.”

“Yet. Day isn’t over yet.” Miryam reminded her.

Acenath glared at her a moment, then burst into laughter, slapped Miryam on the shoulder, right on a bruise, and handed her a cup of weak beer, and piece of bread. “Thank you, friend. I never thanked you for helping us before either. I almost lost my Kosey…Har-An…” Her huge dark eyes filled with tears, and she choked. Miryam put her arm around the tiny younger woman’s shoulders, and played with Acenath’s long black braid. Tears dripped down Acenath’s cheeks, but the lines in her face relaxed a little.

The boy bit down on his trembling lip, and put his arm around her other shoulder and gave the women a very manly look. “Mama, it’s ok. I’m fine. And I’m almost as tall as you, see. I can handle man’s matters.” He stood above them and extended his skinny chest. The women looked at each other, stifling smiles.

“Yes, well as far as my height, you didn’t have far to go.”

He looked crestfallen for a second, then grinned. Miryam snorted and went to the window, rubbing at her numb fingers. The hail had stopped, and the lightning flickers receded into the distance. “Clearing up,” she said. But their quarter of the city as far as she could see looked like it had been through a battle, with debris littering the street and smoke from fires dotting the buildings here and there.

“Why does your god hate us so much?” Kosey’s voice came from behind her. Miryam turned to his clear amber eyes. Acenath watched, quietly chewing on a crust.

“I think he’s just angry with Ramses.”

“Because Ramses is a donkey’s b–?”

“Kos!,” His mother yelled, glancing at the door fearfully.

“But you said–“

“Do you want to get us killed, boy?” His mother went to the door and peeked out.

Miryam stared at her. Acenath shook her head at Miryam. They both let out a long breath.

Unabashed, he continued, “Then is it because he hates Hebrews? We don’t hate Hebrews. Yehoshuah’s my friend.”

Miryam ruffled his hair. “I know, boy. We weren’t spared most of this either. Maybe I just haven’t kissed His Heavenly …rear-end enough. I’m not very good at worship, regardless of the god. At least you have more than one to choose from.”

“That just means more…rear kissing,” Acenath muttered. She gave Miryam a relieved smile.

Miryam kneeled by her and took Acenath’s and Kosey’s hands in hers. “I will never be your enemy.”

Acenath wrapped her arms around Miryam. Kosey huffed in relief. “So I can still hang out with Yehoshuah? He has the best snail collection.”

“Ok, what?”

“Nuthin.” He coughed, and darted out the door to find his friend before the women could stop him.

Arbeh: Locusts

Ramses stared at the growing cloud on the horizon. The city had weathered sandstorms before, but the tremor in his belly spoke of something far worse. He gave the orders to cover whatever structures might be damaged by the storm, and sent runners from region to region of the city, warning his citizens to shelter in their homes. Except none went to Goshen, where one of the oldest neighborhoods of Hebrews still resided. All work in the city was ceased. One of his foreman, a Canaanite from the outlying area arrived, out of breath. His guard stepped forward to block the man’s rushed approach, but Ramses waved them back, and motioned the worker into his presence.

“My Lord,” the huge man kneeled. Even through his almost black complexion, his skin was blanched with worry. “It is a plague from the Hebrews! It must be! They have called locusts, my Lord! They have called Pazuzu, demon of the wastes. Their god works with demons!”

Dread froze like a stone in Ramses belly, even as he rolled his eyes at the mention of foreign gods. El, Pazuzu, god or demon, it made no difference who or what had brought the locusts. Non-Egyptian gods and superstitions did not belong here. He snorted in derision. “Your heathen gods do not interest me. This is sorcery, and they will pay.” He decided on mercy today and dismissed the man to see to his own business. The swarm would be upon them in minutes. He sent runners to the fields to gather what could be carried to the grain houses, but the swarm descended as he watched. Large flitting forms blotted out the sky and settled on the fields and roofs, as he retreated to the inner courtyard. Within minutes they had edged impossibly in through every crack. The long coppery bodies were like no locusts he had ever seen. They were three times the size, their paper wings twitching even in rest, and making their outlines blur as though they flickered in and out of the living world. And then the sound of their mandibles filled the halls with scratching. He ran at them, crunching them under foot, stomping and sweeping around with his arms. With each stomp, their bodies held his weight for far too long before collapsing into mush. And as he swept some away, he could see gnaw-marks everywhere there was vegetable material, including wood. Pazuzu. Demon of the wind, demon of empty places. The name echoed along his nerves as he stared at the creatures. But it is a foreign god! Osiris, Lord of the Harvest, why are you suffering this foreign god to invade your land and torment your loyal followers?
When he arrived at the grain houses, the keepers were in a frenzy. They lit huge fires of aromatic woods before the doors to smoke the insects out, but the golden swarm seethed through the grain. Ramses sent away all available servants to fetch the priests and bring the finest animals from his personal herd to sacrifice to the gods that he had somehow offended. As he waited, he stood before the fire, and gazed at the sky towards his Heavenly Father. Why are you doing this to me? My first job as a god is to lead my people, and now I cannot even feed them. Our meat rotted on the herd, our stores from our allies are depleted, and now there will be no grain. By the end of today, my people will be eating sand. Why are you not intervening, Great Ones?

Choshech: Darkness

Two days after the locusts, the hunger in people’s eyes matched the hunger of the swarm that had enveloped them like a bronze papery rain. Incidents of robbery increased as the most desperate, young, and angry people broke. Just when Miryam thought it couldn’t get any worse, a black fog fell that wasn’t like fog. It was like a miasma poisoning the air, smelling like rotten eggs and making it hard to breath. Torchlight could only be seen a couple cubits away. Miryam didn’t think it was night, but no glow from the desert sun penetrated the fog. By her estimation, it had been late afternoon when the cloud descended, and her sense of time told her that evening now fell. Acenath, Kosey and Yehoshuah huddled on the extra pallets she’d set out in the crowded center of her apartment. She lost track of time, but Ari should have returned home from the quarry by now. Shrieks and blood curdling screams issued out of the dark and everyone looked at each other with wide white-rimmed eyes. It had seemed very close, but it was impossible to tell from what direction. The boys flinched and then recovered. No one spoke, but Kosey, older than Yehoshuah by two months retrieved a sickle from a hook on the wall and stood by the door.

“We are cursed. This land is cursed,” Acenath said.

“Maybe it’s just us,” Miryam replied quietly. “If this is caused by our god, as my brother believes, than this will follow us into the desert if we leave.”

“But your god will protect you. He will not curse you. He is only angry with us, with my people. That’s what everyone says.”

“What if everyone is wrong.”

No one said anything for a long time. The only sounds were furtive shuffling outside the walls and periodic bouts of screaming, somewhere outside.

Makat B’chorot: Slaying of the First Born

Ari had returned from the quarry, where they’d hunkered down until the strange fog had passed. But the sight of him alive did nothing to quell Miryam’s anger for the next few days. Her fist slammed into Moshe’s nose as soon as he barged in her doorway three days later. “That’s what I think of your stupid crusade!” She rushed him and kicked him in the long shin, flailing at his chest and clawing at his face. He grabbed her and shoved her back. She stumbled across the sleeping pallets and jugs and fell. Otherwise, he ignored her as though she hadn’t even spoken or moved against him. His eyes were burning with anger. Something else was in his eyes, fear. “Slaughter your lamb. And cover the door lintel in its blood. Do it now.”

She stared at him and sneered. “I’d ask if you’d lost your mind, but that seems redundant.”

He grabbed her and hauled her to her feet by her dress. “Do you want Yehoshuah to die? Do as I say!”

She slapped him across the face. “So now you’re threatening me?”

He slumped. “No. Death will come tonight to all Egyptian heirs, and there is little time left. The sun has set.” He pointed to the horizon outside the window.

“Moshe…What did you do?” She swallowed hard.

“Nothing. I know things. I know you never believed me. But, it is El. I…” he wiped the blood trickling from his nose and looked down. “I told you, I know things.”

She sighed and sat down, gazing at her god-touched brother. That was what some people said. That was what the rest of her family believed now. They’d scoffed at him at first, his wild eyes, his rich pompous mannerisms. But he didn’t look pompous now. He looked scared, and tired. He sat down next to her, and touched her face. He took her numb left hand in his and frowned.

He pleaded and bowed his head. “Miryam, please. I know you think I’m crazy–“

“I don’t know whether you’re crazy, or a sorcerer. And I’m not sure which is worse. Har-An died because of these curses. He is our neighbor and friend. Don’t you care? Doesn’t our god care about the innocent?”

“I’m not a sorcerer! How could you think that,” he spat. “Ramses refuses to listen to God and let us leave.”

“To go where, exactly? Into the desert? You have been outside the city, right? Here’s a flash of insight: There’s no water out there.”

“He will take care of us, we are His Chosen.”

“He’s doing such a superb job so far! I couldn’t keep anything in my belly for three days, I nearly died, and that was before He nearly burned my house down, and killed my friends! I like them and I don’t care what their parentage is, and I don’t want to follow any God who does!” Her voice had risen, until Yehoshuah covered his ears and ran next door.

Moshe’s face was sad. He didn’t call her out for blasphemy or any other such nonsense. At least he was learning. He just stood, and touched her face and left. The torchlight increased. She shivered. Death will come to all Egyptian heirs, her shiver became a shudder. Me and my temper. What does that mean? In her belly, she knew the curse would happen, but she didn’t know how. Yehoshuah was still next door. Yehoshuah. She grabbed a long knife from the table and marched outside to the tethered lamb. Ari was coming down the road as she slit its throat. Blood spurted all over her hands, and into the bowl she’d set under it.

“What are you doing, woman?” Ari ran to her. “That was the last lamb we’re likely to have! The ewe’s too old for more!” he wrenched the knife from her hand.

The torches and rushlights went out. The night in the street was black and there were no stars. Something dark and massive gathered in the shadows, all around them. A ruckus of yelling came from Acenath’s house, and several other houses on the street. Yehoshuah ran out as Acenath’s panicked voice shrieked from their house. He was panting and clutching his throat, and then he collapsed into a seizure at the feet of his parents. Miryam screamed and wrapped her arms around him, as tendrils of darkness reached from the shadows. She thrust the bloody bowl at Ari. “Splash this over the door, now!” her face brooked no argument. She hauled Yehoshuah inside, and Ari did as he was told. He entered, but before he could utter another word, she ran and shoved him out the door again. “Go put some on Acenath’s home. Cover every door you see! All our Gyptian neighbors! The curse is coming for them!”

He powered past her and dropped to his knees next to Yehoshuah, his only son. The gory bowl spilled liquid into the dust of the floor. Miryam wrapped her arms around her son’s heaving shoulders. He leaned over and vomited onto her feet, but he was breathing. Her and Ari grabbed him and held each other and sobbed.

“Eema, Abba, you’re crushing me.” Yehoshuah pushed at them, fighting to sit up, his face a nauseous green. Kosey, Mama, Kosey is sick–“

Miryam grabbed the bowl, but only a spoonful of liquid remained. She ran next door and smeared it on Acenath’s door with her hands. It left a dark smudge. There was sobbing inside. She rushed in. Acenath was clutching Kosey, screaming and shaking him. He was prostrate on the ground. He was deep purple under his dusky skin, and silent. Darkness filled the room as flashes of light flickered here and there in the air like a thousand fiery eyes, and wisps of smoke wrapped around the two in the center of the room like giant dark hands. Miryam’s heart almost stopped, but she dove for the dark mass which parted and surrounded her with a roar, like an inferno. Tiny red eyes surrounded her in a million wing-like puffs of feathery smoke. She held her sticky palms out around her and yelled defiantly at the top of her lungs, “I am a Hebrew! Stay away from this boy! He’s mine, Demon!”
She covered him with her trembling body, still brandishing her bloody palms. The smoke creature blinked its thousand malevolent eyes and withdrew silently from every crack and crevice in the room. The room was dark, but it was gone. Acenath sobbed and laid her head on Miryam’s shoulder. Miryam could feel the faint throb of the boy’s heart pick up speed. He took a shuddering breath. Acenath kept sobbing. Miryam laid back onto the floor and stared at the ceiling.

The line of refugees wound into the desert as far as Miryam could see. Acenath hefted her pack and ushered the boys in front of her.

“You don’t have to come if you don’t want. Though I’m glad for the company. The order was only for us to leave,” Miryam said.

The younger woman shrugged and glanced back at her half-empty house. “You claimed my child in fosterage. The least I could do is help you raise him. My man has gone on to the afterlife without me. There’s nothing here for me now.” Her eyes teared for a moment. She stared at a wiry young man walking past to join the trail. “Maybe a Hebrew man won’t be too bad.”

Miryam grinned, and shoved Kosey’s face around as he turned to stare at his mother. There were empty huts up and down the dusty streets, some Hebrew, some Egyptian.

“We need to pick up the pace before Ramses sends the army to hurry us up.” Acenath commented as she followed the slow winding throngs of people.

Miryam snorted, “Hardly our biggest worry after last night.” She tugged her bag over her shoulder, sighed and began walking.

End Story

 

Whenever someone tells me that ‘such and such’ are enemies, I have to wonder about regular shmoes like us, the Hebrew and Egyptian equivalents of Joe from the Seven Eleven. How many of those Egyptians were our enemies, and how much political maneuvering did it take between the government and dissenters to cultivate that hatred so far into the future that we still celebrate plagues and suffering thousands of years into the future? It’s definitely a good thing to celebrate freedom and the winning of freedom, I just wanted to take a step back and look at this from a different perspective…Discuss…

 

Colorado History Museum

Posted in history, politics, world events, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by rachelcoles

Hey fellow indies! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been on. The Indie Carnival is in the process of coming up with cool new discussion topics, which will include information on how to get onto Net Galley, a site where writers can find reviewers and vice versa! And more Indie Author Spotlights are coming up soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to point people to an amazing experience I had at the new History Colorado Center. It’s our history museum that was recently opened, or at least renovated and put in a new building with new exhibits. It was designed as a classroom in motion, so it’s not like a regular museum in many ways, which makes it great for kids (or adults with ADD).

There are sections on the first Colorado town, with working displays of things that the kids can play with, and character actors of snake oil salesman doing their schtick and pretending to sell you everything from arsenic to laudanum. Hilarious! There’s a ski jump simulator. This one I could only look at for about one second before I had flashbacks to the Blair Witch Project. There was a mine simulation complete with a rattling mine car ride, a storytelling tommyknocker, and a blast simulator. My daughter and her friend loved that display because it allowed them to push ‘dynamite sticks’ into the wall in a kind of mining version of Simon Says, in the right sequence, and set it off. Once they pushed the blaster plunger, a computer screen simulated what would happen, and whether or not they did it right, or just buried themselves. This sounds gruesome, but the kids were all giggling and jockeying for their chance to blow stuff up. After the kids got done, it was their daddies’ turns. Men and explosions…

As you’re leaving that area, there’s a computer game very much like WWF throwdown, except it’s between various well-known Colorado figures, such as Molly Brown, etc. This cast of characters also included ‘the brown cloud’ that used to hang over Denver before we cleaned up the pollution, and the terrifying red-eyed Sleepy-Hollowesque blue horse that everyone is subjected to upon entry into Denver from the airport. The Blue Horse Throwdown even had the horse shooting lasers from its eyes (which we all secretly knew it did, in our nightmares anyway).

But by far, the most powerful display to me, was of the Granada Japanese internment camp. I never knew this existed in Colorado. I had heard of the internment camps before, in history, and also from one of my nerd icons George Takei (Sulu from the original Star Trek). He spent part of his childhood in one, and sometimes talks about it. But hearing about it over the internet, even from someone who was there, or learning about it as a passing footnote in history class is nothing like what I saw. That’s the nature of the internet, and the nature of classrooms and history books, I suppose. They still maintain a distance.

There was no distance here. You walked through a room no larger than your living room at home, where several people spent half their lives after giving up most of their belongings and whatever futures they had on the outside. As you looked at their belongings donated by some of the folks who had been there, there were voice-narrated stories told of what it was like, or letters that they had written.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve been there, and this is the first time I could talk about it. Because I realized when I was standing in that room that this was a concentration camp. In Colorado. It wasn’t called that. It was called a War Relocation Center. But it required people to give up their homes, their jobs, and move themselves and their families to a strange place built like a camp, one room for many families with cots for beds, strangers who someone on the outside thought were alike because of their color, descent, culture. No, they weren’t gassed. They weren’t shot, or tortured in the same way as the Nazi versions. But they had to live with the realization that they were asked by their fellow citizens to give up everything because they spoke a certain language and looked a certain way, and that the country they belonged to and were loyal to, didn’t trust them. I heard that in the story this teenage girl told, it was her valedictory speech at her high school. It was, in the literal sense of the term, a concentration camp. In America.

When that hit home, as I was sitting at this young girl’s desk, I started bawling. Thank God I was the only one in the display at the time. I don’t mean a couple sniffles. I mean cover-your-mouth-and-go-into-a-corner-hoping-nobody-sees-you-until-you-can-calm-down kind of bawling. Of course people did filter in, and chickenshit about showing emotion to strangers as I am, I faked a sneeze and left, which I’m sure fooled no one.

George Takei recently showed a photo on Facebook that shows him outside the internment camp he was in as a kid, with a sign “This Place Matters’. It does. It’s incredibly instructive to me to really understand that there were concentration camps here in the U.S. That we did discriminate based on color, creed, etc, and not in the distant past, less than a hundred years ago. But one thing that really got me was one of the last things the girl on the recording said was that America had made a mistake, and that she believed America would correct it someday. She still had faith, she still believed. Wow.

Kinda put things into perspective for me. I’ve been bitching about a lot of things in politics.  I’ll never be a politician. I have no editor between my brain and my mouth. Generally not a useful trait in a politician. But this experience made me think about how I deal with the current climate. Man, this little girl didn’t lose her hope, she never gave up even after we’d just taken everything away from her, and stuck her and her entire family in a tiny box because she was Japanese.

As a writer, this was one of those Holy Cow moments that stay with you, and you hope make you a better (or at least less bitchy) person in addition to hopefully a better writer. So here’s my advice as a writer for today, at least what I found. I’ve lived in Colorado for ten years and never knew this existed here. It was right under my nose, these people’s lives. The message I got that day was ‘Look around you.’ There are stories everywhere, some which really need to be told, and aren’t, not much.

See what stories there are to tell in your own state or town. And if you happen to be in Colorado. This is a site worth visiting.

http://www.historycolorado.org/museums/history-colorado-center

http://coloradopreservation.org/projects/current-projects/granada-relocation-center/

The only way I know how to communicate to any significant degree, is through writing. I imagine that as this keeps seeping into my brain, it will work its way into my stories. I hope I can do it justice.

 

 

 

 

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Idealism or Pragmatism?

Posted in discrimination, economy, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2012 by rachelcoles

I’ve been watching the news about the bills and amendments going through and the fights going on about what defines a marriage, or even a civil union. I’ve been watching the tug of war over abortion, over even organizations that provide abortion as one of their services. I’ve been watching the attempts at redefinition of rape, of personhood, of every possible incarnation to insert a few specific pseudo-religious value systems into a previously democratic government, across and in disregard of a multitude of diverse value systems. All of this despite the injunction to keep church and state separate.

Finally, I have to say that I am disgusted enough to truly consider expatriation. We considered it during the last days of the junior Bush’s administration. But it seemed for a while that things might get better. I’m not sure at this point that they will soon enough. I’ve never been much of an optimist, but I guess I did view this country with some degree of expectation and idealism. No country is ideal, because people are people. But here’s what it comes down to: What if Rosa turns out to be gay? What if she ends up carrying a child that endangers her health, or whatever the circumstance is that she feels that she can’t have a child? I’m pretty sure at this point, that she’s not gay, but who knows what will emerge when she’s old enough to realize that sex isn’t people kissing for a really long time. I despise the thought that in either event she will grow up in a state/country that doesn’t value her enough to recognize a significant part of her adult life, a committed relationship. Even worse, that it doesn’t value her enough to make medical choices that might save her life, whether psychologically or physically. I hate the thought of moving. I swore I was never going to move again. But I find myself considering the same question as my immigrant ancestors before they decided to come to America: Is there somewhere I can go to give my child a better life than the future I see on the horizon here?

YA Indie Carnival: Name That Tune

Posted in indie, Islam, Muslim, politics, science fiction, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by rachelcoles

For the Name That Tune post, today on the YA Indie Carnival, I’ve been listening to the Depeche Mode station on Pandora a lot, and inevitably Duran Duran seems to be popping up a lot, one song in particular, Ordinary World:

Came in from a rainy thursday on the avenue

Thought I heard you talking softly…
I turned on the lights, the tv and the radio
Still I can’t escape the ghost of you
What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some’d say,
Where is the life that I recognize?
Gone away…

But I won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world,
Somehow I have to find.
And as I try to make my way, to the ordinary world…
I will learn to survive.

Passion or coincidence once prompted you to say
Pride will tear us both apart
Well now pride’s gone out the window cross the rooftops, run away,
Left me in the vacuum of my heart.
What is happening to me?
Crazy, some’d say,
Where is my friend when I need you most?
Gone away…

(chorus)

Papers in the roadside tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here besides the news of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrowed talk

(just blown away…)

And I don’t… (chorus)

Every world, is my world… (I will learn to survive)
Any world, is my world … (I will learn to survive)

Any world, is my world…
Every world is my world…

I like this song. I can’t say it’s my favorite, though I also can’t deny my stint as a Durannie when I was in junior high school. A couple of pictures complete with skinny leather tie and fedora and poofy hair survived the ‘unfortunate’ fire, as blackmail proof, so I’m told. And after enough time listening to it play while making Lego cars on the floor with my husband and daughter, it kind of sticks in my head.

I don’t know if I would say that I think of Ordinary World when I’m writing any more than when I’m doing anything else with bars of a song floating in my brain, but when I go through the day I do notice things in the day that link up with the song in some direct or circuitous way.

If I were to say that there was a common thread in my writing, I would say that all of the stories feature ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I’m not usually a fan of stories where the protagonist is super at everything and has trivial flaws that really point more to their being even more ridiculously awesome. Aside from making me feel inadequate, stories like those lose me in terms of empathy. I’m an ordinary person living an ordinary life in an ordinary world, and I will be faced at some point in my life, as everyone is, with untenable circumstances in which something more than ordinary will be required if I am to survive physically or even emotionally intact. It doesn’t have to be something supernatural. It could be something like facing cancer or the death of a parent or friend. In those times, everyone wants guidance, wants to know that they are not alone. That other people share their weaknesses, and more importantly, that despite those very real weaknesses, they can find the strength to face whatever adversity comes to them. They can transform when they are tested. All of my stories are about such transformations. Why? Because perfection doesn’t exist. That’s what daydreams are for, and they are intensely personal and private. I can be a shark-jumping superhero in my daydreams. But what I take succor from, what gives me something to hang onto when I read a story is to be able to connect with another person’s story who is like me in their mediocrity and to believe, if only for the duration of those pages, that if they are capable of such transformations when the time comes, then so am I.

I am an anthropologist, oddly, since I am also somewhat socially impaired. But in every culture I have gone into, I see the same thing. I see ordinary people, like me with similar weaknesses and potential for change. As part of my day job today, I went to the masjid (mosque) I am working with on preparedness, for the Friday noon prayer. I heard the sermon of the imam. And despite my painfully short attention span, I learned a couple new words today: ‘umma’, and ‘fitna’. I’m probably butchering those horribly, if so I apologize. The one that most got my attention was ‘umma’. I learned that it means community. It was one of the most frequent words the imam used today. “This is your umma” he kept saying. ‘This is your community.’ ‘You have to think about your neighbor and care about your neighbor.’ If nothing else I’d ever heard confirmed it, this point he made for an hour drove home the fact that everywhere, we are not that different. I’ve heard the same thing in churches and synagogues. It was the ultimate proof against the idiots I want to punch in the face who spring up claiming that Muslims as some imaginary monolithic entity are all terrorists and that Islam is a religion of violence. It isn’t. It’s a religion of ordinary people in an ordinary world. And I grudgingly understand that the whole point of the sermon was that you shouldn’t punch anybody in the face, even if they’re idiots…Which brings me to ‘fitna’, which loosely translated is ‘backbiting’. In Hebrew, the same concept is ‘lashon hara’, or speaking bad. Well, the fact that there are fairly equivalent terms in three separate cultures, brings us back around once again to ordinary people and our less than perfect tendencies.

In Pazuzu’s Girl, my first novel, I think I was influenced by this idea of everyone being equal or ordinary in terms of the things they have to face. Even the gods and demons, no matter how terrifying or powerful, still failed because of their own significant flaws and had to figure out who they were and what they really wanted besides power, or none of the amazing things they could do meant anything.

You get the idea, at this point, that I really like that song. No, I haven’t found my Simon le Bon fedora or skinny leather ties. They mysteriously got flushed down the toilet when I went to college.

See what other tunes our YA authors have been influenced by today!

1. Laura A. H. Elliott author of Winnemucca & 13 on Halloween, Book 1 in the Teen Halloween Series 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. Heather Self 4. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series
5. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga 6. Cheri Schmidt, author of the Fateful Trilogy
7. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 8. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
9. Patti Larsen, The Hunted series and The Hayle Coven series 10. Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy
11. Dani Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews 12. Fisher Amelie, author of The Understorey
13. M. Leighton, Blood Like Poison Series, Madly, The Reaping 14. Kimberly Kinrade, Bits of You & Pieces of Me, Forbidden Mind
15. Madeline Smoot, Missing, Summer Shorts, and The Girls 16. Cidney Swanson, author of Rippler
17. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 18. TG Ayer
19. Melissa Pearl, Author of The Time Spirit Trilogy 20. Heather M. White, author of The Destiny Saga
21. Roots in Myth, PJ Hoover 22. Courtney Cole Writes
NEW RELEASES!


A child born of sun and moon will impart a human gift to bring forth the fall of the house of Gammen. – Hayes Prophecies
So you read the prophecy. It’s all mystical, but pretty vague. Am I right? Those three, short lines are absolutely frustrating. Lucky me, I’m the one who’s supposed to figure it out. I’m the child born of sun and moon.
Join Keira Ryan as she chases her destiny in this exciting third installment in the Midnight Guardian Series. While Keira searches, her enemies draw closer. A history of trust is tested. A promise of passion turns deadly. A surviving evil creates doubt and there’s only one way to stop it…Find the Gift.Just what do you get the spoiled gremlin queen that has everything?

Ready for a new kind of teen paranormal romance?
Also look for:
Of Sun & Moon, Book 1
Whispering Evil, Book 2
Book 4, Shadows Rising, coming Fall 2012



Love is irresistible.  Gravity is undeniable.




Morpho Wilson thought her life was difficult enough. Her father is Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian demon of plague and the Southwest wind. As a teenager Morpho struggles against her father, while trying to adjust to high school in a new neighborhood. The family is constantly moving in an attempt to elude Pazuzu’s murderous ex-wife, a demoness known for killing children.Then something unique happens. A socially-impaired classmate becomes so intrigued by Morpho that he pursues her, despite the mystery surrounding her family and the danger that accompanies it.

But before their romance can grow the demoness tracks Morpho down, and now only needs an ancient artifact called the Tablet of Destiny to complete the destruction of the world. The tablet confers on its owner the ability to control the fate of everything and everyone on earth.

Once the tablet is discovered in the Middle East, the oldest and most powerful gods begin a battle for its possession, with the human population caught in the middle. Morpho, her family, and her new friend must decide, do they escape from the horrifying demoness or fight for their own destiny. How far will Pazuzu go to save his daughter from a hellish fate? Will his banishment from Heaven so many millennia ago end up being a curse…or a blessing?


Banished to Victorian London

“Auburdeen Perneila Hayle,” Sassafras hissed, the amber glow from his cat eyes growing until the front of the wicker cage shone with it, “you will do whatever you can to behave yourself, to not embarrass me or your mother and to absolutely under every circumstance maintain a firm hand on your horrid temper.”

My anger simmered. Yes, I had a temper. And yes, it had taken me into situations in the past that perhaps I shouldn’t have been part of, situations that usually devolved into fistfights and incoherent yelling at the offender. He should be grateful I always kept control of myself enough my magic never came into play. Except that one time. But it wasn’t my fault. Not really. And the offender recovered. Eventually.

Auburdeen Hayle is the sixteen-year-old daughter of the next leader of her coven. When the transition of power becomes tense, Burdie is sent from her home in America to stay with old friends in London to keep her safe. But a handsome young man chooses to hide from the police in her hansom, drawing Burdie into an underground world of magic that challenges even her sense of adventure and puts her at odds with the very people who are meant to protect her.

If you love Smoke and Magic, don’t forget to check out the Hayle Coven series–and the adventures of Auburdeen’s great great great granddaughter, Sydlynn, in Book One: Family Magic http://tinyurl.com/7wkoswt

Seeking Jack Bishop“Are we sure we have the right place?” I didn’t want to doubt Josephine, but all we had was the coin and her sorcery. Even she admitted in the beginning there was a chance it wouldn’t work.

She simply pointed at the large sign hanging on the fence. “Brindle Holdings.” But which Brindle? Samuel, or his sister, Georgina? The woman who my mother trusted me with, her own very best friend? Could the woman be playing us all false?

Not that it mattered, really. I was a fugitive. Whether Georgina was in league with her brother or not, the coven was convinced of my guilt. And that was all she needed to burn me at the stake, innocent of Samuel’s actions or not.

Auburdeen Hayle is supposed to be in London for her own protection. But since she chose to help and befriend Jack Bishop, everything she knows and understands has fallen to pieces around her. Worse, her friend is lost and in the hands of those who want to use him as a weapon, being slowly devoured by the living metal that infects him. Hunted by the coven meant to protect her and the constabulary being controlled by the very man who holds Jack captive, Burdie is forced to ally herself with those to whom truth and honesty are a convenience.



17 year old Jadyn and her dad are vampire hunters. That is until her dad decides it’s time for Jadyn to have a “normal” life. When he moved them to Miami, Florida the last thing Jadyn expected to find was vampires.

Jadyn doesn’t want to have a normal life, but then she starts to make new friends. She starts to think that maybe a normal life might not be so bad after all. But soon she realizes that maybe her friends aren’t “human” as she once thought they were. On top of everything else a very powerful vampire, Tabatha, seeks revenge on Jadyn. People from her school start disappearing, and people start dying. She wants to stop the deaths, but Tabatha has other plans for her. Can Jadyn stop the one vampire that is impossible to kill before its too late?


Forever, Book 3 in the Fateful Trilogy
Danielle and Ethan may have solved their problem with vampires, but other magical beings have taken interest in the ones who discovered the cure.On the run trying to escape a gaggle of evil pixies, a clan of creepy werewolves, a coven or two of wicked witches, and a school of lovely but malicious mermaids, they fight to have a normal life. But that isn’t so easy when the only aid they have is from slightly dishonest fairies and flirtatious vampire bodyguards.

This is Danielle and Ethan’s happily forever after….

Question: When your mother is a powerful witch and your father is a soul-sucking vampire, what does that make you? Answer: Cursed. With all the beauty and charm of a Siren, but cursed as a blood-sucking succubus, Empusa longs for love and a normal life. Neither of these can ever be hers, because the only thing she brings to anyone she loves is death. Em lingers in the mortal world, hiding from her father and existing in a lonely life. Until she meets Brennan. With golden hair and a radiant smile, he captures her heart and awakens it from slumber. But Brennan is more than he seems. And in a relationship where life itself hangs in the balance, is love ever really enough?
Against all expectations, Samantha Ruiz has survived attacks by two of Helmann’s deadliest assassins. She’s alive, but she’s far from safe. Helmann is planning a second Holocaust and wants Sam to play a starring role. Will, meanwhile, separated from Sam by an ocean, seeks a way to prevent Helmann’s apocalypse. Along with Sir Walter and Mickie, Will plays a deadly game sneaking into Geneses’ facilities, discovering unsettling clues as to Helmann’s plans. The clock ticks down as Will and Sam discover just how much they must be willing to sacrifice to stop Helmann. UNFURL, the powerful conclusion to The Ripple Series, will leave fans breathless.
COVER REVEAL!


Two Worlds––Two Teens––One Wish
Rhoe and Ashley would never be friends.
Even if they lived on the same planet.
But, they’ll become so much more.
They’ll transfer.
BLOG TOURS!


A GREAT CAUSE!


Science Fiction Writers Association member Rocky Wood was diagnosed with ALS. As many of you know, this is the same disease Stephen Hawking has, and it is incurable and progressive. He will eventually lose all ability to move on his own. All of the proceeds of this anthology will go to purchasing medical equipment for Rocky Wood. 90 Minutes to Live can be purchased on Amazon or at Journalstone 


Woe to Butterball

Posted in Arab, Islam, Muslim, politics, racism with tags , , , , on November 28, 2011 by rachelcoles

I had to post this because I have way too much glee poking fun at the absurd. Here is an article protesting Butterball turkeys because they are halal.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/11/happy_halal_thanksgiving.html

In the article, the author asserts that not labeling Butterball turkeys halal is contributing to the Islamization of America, and that the rest of us unwitting halal-eaters are being subjected to Islamic practices. She insists that turkeys slaughtered according to Islamic halal practices are submitted to torturous methods and religious fanaticism because the slaughterers utter a prayer as they do it. And she claims that other cultures also object to halal food, including Jews, because it violates kosher practice.

So to begin deconstructing the first joke in this theater of the absurd, good heavens, why would I want to poison my family by accidentally serving them turkey using methods that are known to pay stringent attention to cleanliness. Oh the horror. As far as my knowledge of halal goes, it is very similar to the process of koshering. The throat is cut in almost an identical way, which far from being more torturous was known throughout the ancient world as more humane. If one is going to be humane about killing an animal to eat it at all. Which I would. I love meat. I love turkey. Say whatever incantation or prayer you want over it, and then bring it on slathered in butter, and stick it in my oven. I’m a Jew, as I’m sure has been stated half a dozen times. I’m not very good at being Jewish, but mostly I know the rules, I just don’t follow them. And I have to ask, if she has such a problem with halal why doesn’t she have a problem with kosher food, which is so similar, derived, in fact, from the same tenets? Because we label food kosher, and halal meat isn’t always labeled halal according to the article? Except, we don’t label food kosher for non-Jews to select non-kosher food. That label is not for the benefit of non-Jews to avoid being Semiticized. It’s so that Jewish people who want to keep kosher can pick the right turkey or whatever they are eating. Most Jews that I know who are borderline kosher, if they don’t pick kosher food, would pick halal over regular because it’s so clean and carefully regulated.

The second point is, has this woman ever seen turkey farms? They’re not generally known as comfortable places for turkeys. If she has such an objection to the way the halal process kills the birds then hasn’t she been paying any attention to how they’re kept before they get to that point? If torturous methods are what she’s concerned about, it seems like maybe she should just raise her own turkey, or cooperate with a local farmer so she can watch it run around everyday free-range. Or maybe commit to eating tofurky instead. Unless the ‘Islamic’ threat has spread to the point where we have to be careful or vegetarians everywhere will be forced into Islam by secret imams uttering prayers as they shell the soybeans for tofu…

This was by far the most inane example I have seen of anti-Islam hysteria. So I think my next year’s turkey will be Butterball!

Milgram’s Experiment and the War on Terror

Posted in Arab, bullying, discrimination, history, Islam, Middle East, Muslim, politics, racism, Vietnam, world events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2011 by rachelcoles

Many politicians and citizens have raised an uproar decrying the comparison between our use of tactics, such as profiling against a group of people, and against detainees who have not been proved to be guilty of terrorism, and those used by the state of Germany prior to the rise of the Nationalist Party. Invariably, the catchphrase ‘patriotism’ and ‘national security’ get thrown into the argument, and what I believe is the real shape of the situation becomes distorted. Indeed the very mention of the Nationalist Party, because of its overuse as an icon of ultimate evil, sends people flying off the handle in indignation, without any analysis of what the central issues really were that allowed a situation in which otherwise normal sane people did evil things. Or failed to prevent them. And this blanket gag order certainly makes an analysis of our current situation almost impossible. Taboo subjects cannot be explored.

Well, I’m exploring them anyway. I’ve known quite a few German people in my life. I’ve visited Germany. My husband has visited Germany. Everyone I met was very hospitable, nice and about as more or less normal as anyone I encounter here. Though everything was insanely punctual.

This is not to say that the people who did do terrible things or the people who knew about it and did nothing are absolved of their crimes. No. Their actions were inexcusable. But after looking at the Milgram experiment, and frankly, reviewing incidents that cannot be swept under the rug such as the torture at Abu Ghraib, it is somewhat more difficult to look at the individuals involved in the original ‘Axis of Evil’ and say we are different. It makes me wonder how many of us have the potential to become the same kind of monster in similar conditions. This experiment scared the crap out of me.

I think that this topic of comparison has become taboo because we are afraid. We don’t want to see our own potential for such evil acts, so we place a firm barrier there and say, ‘this could never happen here’. But in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram proved definitively for the next twenty years with repeated experiments that it could absolutely happen anywhere in the world with any group of people.

The Milgram experiment consisted of a triad of players: the teacher-subject, the learner-actor, and the authority figure-researcher. The subject was told to have the learner repeat pairs of words. Every time the learner got one wrong, the ‘teacher’ subject was to administer an electric shock. The shocks got progressively stronger until there was a final voltage that would render the learner unconscious. They would begin screaming and pounding on the wall and then finally stop responding if the teacher did administer the final shocks. If the teacher hesitated or asked to stop, they were given verbal prompts to continue four times by the researcher who told them that they must go on, that it was very important. If the teacher protested more than four times, or if they refused to go on, they were released. The learner was an actor. There were no electric shocks in reality. But as far as the subject-teacher knew, they were real.

And consistently in all variations of this experiment in different populations, do you know how many of the subjects continued to the final shocks? Between 61 and 66%. Over half. Over half of people inflicted progressive, painful, and dangerous shocks to someone, rendering them ‘unconscious’ or ‘dead’, since in a few of the scenarios the actor stated they had a ‘heart condition’, simply because they were ordered to do so. These were not enemy soldiers or Nazis. They were not skinheads, they were not white power advocates, or sociopaths. They were school teachers, doctors, lawyers, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, friends, next-door neighbors. They were you and me. That’s a terrifying realization. One that has somehow been lost in the current jingoistic move toward our own brand of nationalism. And I use the term nationalism not as an epithet or a curse word, but as the definition of what we are doing, rallying behind an image of what our leaders decide the US stands for. That’s what nationalism means.

Nationalism has its uses. It can make people proud of who they are. It can make us build a nation with amazing things like roads, sewage systems, as the Romans did, purely on the steam of national pride. The dangerous part of nationalism, however, is that it can be used by the greedy, by the power hungry with some other political agenda, to sharpen the borders between what is and is not American, creating an Other where there was none before. Does it look familiar? It should and if it doesn’t, it is because we are mired in denial.

We are so horrified by the revelations of Milgrams experiment and what it says about the human race, that we forget to be analytical. Some of us declare disgust with humanity, without the most critical question. Why was Milgrams experiment recreated so consistently, and why does it happen in history so often with the same results? Why do we fail to learn from this particular mistake? Because we are primates. Every primate species in the world reacts to an authority structure in a similar way. We do not question authority, whether by force of arms, or by persuasion and influence, except in direct challenge, and this is the exception rather than the rule. The majority of times we are faced with a dilemma to do something wrong which is sanctioned or encouraged by authority, we will do it even when we have an idea that authority is wrong. Because on some level, we are fighting hundreds of thousands of years of programming as a primate species. Does that make humanity evil? No. We are what we are. Does it excuse appalling acts of torture and cruelty? No. But it does explain it. And as we look for answers as to whether we can overcome this programming, they are there.

There was a baboon troop that was documented some years back to have a structure different from every other baboon troop studied. Most of their alpha males had been killed off by some kind of disease, or poaching. In any case, only the gentler males were left. These males became the authority structure, though they chose not to exercise authority except when absolutely necessary. They stood up and fought only if another more aggressive male tried to come in and take over the troop, then the whole troop banded together to ‘discourage’ the intruder from being aggressive. The result was that the aggressive males often stayed in the troop and changed their behavior to become less aggressive and more laid back, because they apparently seemed happier there. In fact, the longevity of these baboon compared to others was marked. They were living longer too.

The amazing thing about humanity is our ability to evolve, to learn from our mistakes, to become different, like these baboons. Milgram’s experiment will rear its ugly head in history again. And maybe we’ll fail another hundred times when faced with the choice between our own internal compass, and an errant authority. But someday we won’t. And that will happen more and more. Why do I believe this? Because many of the past subjects of Milgram’s experiment wrote him later on, despite the emotional distress they felt after a review of the experiment, to tell him that they were glad they had been shown about themselves what the experiment revealed. Many wrote to tell him that they were becoming conscientious objectors when it came to the Vietnam War, because of what they had learned. Whether you agree or disagree about the wisdom of the Vietnam War, the point is that they decided for themselves rather than relied on an authority to make that moral decision for them.

I also know that this slow advance toward individual thought is still happening. If we take the world as it is now, and the world as it was during the Roman Empire, though we make jokes about being the new Roman Empire just short of orgies and vomitoriums, there are profound differences. We collectively agree that slavery is wrong. The proportion of nations who agree that all people should have basic civil rights is the majority. However well or poorly this is executed, the fact that this is even attempted on such a global scale is light years from where we were during the Dark Ages, the Crusades, and the Inquisition.

But progress grinds to a halt if we aren’t allowed to discuss certain issues for fear of offending, if we can’t even have a conversation about history without being branded unpatriotic or accused of disparaging veterans. Veterans are respected with good reason. They are people who act on an urge to be part of something bigger than themselves. This is never a bad thing. It is however a good trait that has been used by unscrupulous people in authority, who then veil their own agendas by forbidding conversation about the history that follows. But the fact remains, and most veterans I have spoken with agree, that the first step to learning from our mistakes, is to admit, collectively with collective responsibility that we’ve made them. Many veterans I’ve encountered, being also honest self-evaluating people, like Milgram’s conscientious objectors, welcome the chance to air their own thoughts instead of keeping them locked behind a wall of silence.

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