Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Clean, Efficient and Replenishable Energy!

So I'm sick today. I got a bad sore throat, an earache, and a headache that prevents me from using correct grammar, proper verb tense, and highly structured, non run-on sentences. I might even misspell something. Tough beans.

I went in to the office long enough to put out a few blazing fires, then left to come work from home in my jammies and fuzzy pink piggie slippers.

On the drive home, I'm listening to Glen Beck rant on the radio about energy sources, and how ethanol is not a good idea because then we're dependent on Africa, and nobody likes the wind turbines, and then this guy calls in and suggests we use candles as our main source of energy. I mean, really. Have you ever tried to type on a computer by candlelight?

So I got to thinking...here's a solution to our energy problems:

You know those old hand crank Victrolas, where you turn the crank for about 5 minutes and then the record plays for half an hour or so? What if we took that basic design but converted it to a stationary bicycle which would run an electrical generator. More energy for less cranking, and it's easier to pump with your legs than with your arms. Plus you won't build up those big bulky arm muscles that make all your shirts feel too tight.

Home owners could assign family members to take their turn on the Energy Bike. (Isn't that a catchy name?) Business owners could make a turn on the bike a part of their employees' job descriptions. And the President could pass a law that says in order to receive your monthly welfare check, you have to spend X number of hours pumping the government bike.

Just think--clean, efficient, replenishable energy; we're not dependent upon any outside country, but upon our own good citizens; and everyone loses weight to boot! Woo-hoo! Oh I suppose there will be some fat cats who choose to hire someone to take their turn on the Energy Bike, but we'll all know who they are because they'll be the only overweight people in the country. I think it's a staggeringly brilliant concept! (And if somebody acts on it, you owe me a royalty for the idea.)

What? I must have a fever? I don't think so!

And you know how no matter how much baking soda or orange peelings you dump down the garbage disposal, it always smells like sour milk and rotting vegetables? Well, I'm logging off now to work on a solution for that.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Book Review: The Believer by Stephanie Black

I just finished reading Stephanie Black’s The Believer, LDS futuristic fiction. I hesitated to read it because I have not been overly impressed with LDS fiction in the past. In fact, I used to do book reviews for a local paper 20 years ago. They wouldn’t print my reviews of LDS fiction because I had a bad habit of pointing out plot holes, stuffy dialogue, and trite, sappy endings.

But I was sick last week and bored out of my mind, so I decided to give The Believer a chance—and I am so glad I did! Futuristic fiction, science fiction, fantasy—these are my guilty pleasures. While it’s getting harder to find G or even PG stories in these genres, I still hesitated to try an LDS version. It would be like a Belgium chocolate connoisseur biting into a Hershey bar.

The Believer is set in New America, a country founded by violent separatists. Big Brother is alive and well in New America, where possession of religious pamphlets can land you in jail for years and people are blacklisted for speaking their mind.

Ian Roshek is a history professor who reads a contraband copy of the Book of Mormon and believes it. As he tries to live by its teachings, Ian comes slap up against the very worst of his society—secret combinations, terrorism, corrupt government, and mob mentality.

I liked the plot. There were plenty of twists and turns. I knew what was coming most of the time, but not so far ahead that it bothered me. And I have to say, I’m unusually good at guessing plots. My family often gets perturbed with me for telling them the plot twists and endings five minutes into a TV show or movie.

I liked the characters. They were believable. The ‘good guys’ weren’t lily white and while several of the ‘bad guys’ were just plain evil, others were simply weak and misled. I found myself wondering if I would have the courage to make the same decisions Ian made.

Dialog was natural, not stiff. Character voices were individualized. Emotions and reactions were real. Cause and effect events flowed naturally from one to another, not manufactured for effect. I especially liked the way Stephanie wrote of Ian’s religious beliefs and even quoted scriptures without beating the reader with a conversion stick or baptizing all her characters.

There were a couple of little glitchy places in the book, where I thought, “No, that doesn’t work…” but I enjoyed the book so much that now I can’t remember what they were.

I whole-heartedly recommend The Believer for anyone who likes futuristic fiction. This book is appropriate for teens as well as adults.

And Stephanie, if you’re not at your computer writing the sequel right now, get there fast! I can’t wait to read what happens next.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Welcome to My Blog

Hello and welcome to my blogspot. I fancy myself a creative writer, a novelist, in fact. Although I've published several non-fiction works and made a living as a "book doctor" for years, I have yet to complete a fiction manuscript.

Having said all my life that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, I find myself, here at the age of 46, sufficiently grown up to make a try at it. I also find myself sufficiently terrified at the prospect. I need practice, encouragement and constructive criticism. Ergo, The InkSplasher.

I have made a commitment to myself to post something here at least once a week. It may be a short creative fiction piece, a commentary on current events or society, a book or product review, or something along the lines of Oprah's "What I Know for Sure." (Good idea, that. Go, Oprah!)

This blog is my practice spot--my place to practice writing and, more importantly, to practice putting my writing in a public place and risk feedback and commentary. Please feel free to comment on pieces I post here. Constructive criticism I can handle, but please don't flame me.

See you next week.

P.S. A caution to any who are not familiar with blogspot. There is a button at the top of most blog pages that says "Next Blog." It will take you to a random blog page. While most blogs are fine, I have encountered a few I wish I had not. Therefore, click the button with caution. If you come across an offensive site, click the flag button at the top of that site. That will send a message to blogspot "officials" that we find it offensive. If they get enough flags, they will investigate and possibly remove the blog.

I have removed that button from my site.