The Race Thing in the U.S.

If you happen to live outside the United States you may have caught that those of us who live here are currently caught in social conflict around the issue of race. I am not going to talk about the specifics of that conflict, it has been written about much more fully than I can ever hope to achieve and from all points of view. What I am going to talk about is some of my experiences being a non-White European looking person in the U.S.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I am not an American ‘Black’, nor am I an American ‘White’. Instead I am what is now I believe referred to as ‘mixed race’, what used to be called sometimes proudly, sometimes derogatorily, a ‘half-breed’. My mother is of Western European ethnicity, and my father is Native American. I have been called ‘too dark’ by some and ‘too light’ by others. I have been told with contempt that I can ‘pass’ for White by some Tribes folk, as well as disdained that I did not grow up on a Rez and that my mother is clearly ‘White’. I have also been looked at with disdain, pity, condescension, and discrimination by “White’ Americans, some well-meaning, (‘but you talk too well to be an Indian!’), some not so much, which I won’t repeat here. I have lived with racial discrimination my whole life.
So, I have a stake, you might say, in this recent conversation in the U.S. about race. I don’t speak about it much, despite its personal impact on me. In fact, this is likely the only the only thing I will say on the subject. Thanks to the Internet, more people are aware of the gross indignities perpetuated by those who have both have power and a racial agenda. It is about time. To those of you who might not ‘get it’ let me share a couple of things from my own life:
I have been ‘routinely stopped’ for driving in some areas at some times. Hard to prove as the officer in question always has a ‘good reason’ to stop me that seems to never result in a ticket. Funny thing is, I have “White looking’ friends who drive in the same areas at the same times and have never been stopped. Also, my wife has noticed that whenever we travel I always am pulled aside for ‘extra examination’. I have been stopped while walking by law enforcement and after being searched, required to ‘prove that I am a citizen’ as I ‘looked too foreign’. No, I did not get their badge numbers. I am not stupid enough, to do anything other than comply.
This one is so subtle, yet so pervasive, that I fear almost no one who is “White looking” will get it, yet I offer it as an example of what it is like to live every day looking non-white European in the U.S. I cannot walk into a store without a store employee following me around, usually a White European looking one who is ‘there to be helpful.’ Seriously. When I go into the *same store* with ‘white looking’ companions, this does not happen. When the store personnel are not White European looking this does not happen. Occasionally I test this out and turn to my shadow and asked them for something. I am sad to report that my suspicions have been verified every time, in every case from chain stores to up-scale ones. You can see the employee visibly relax as soon as they hear that I have demonstrated that I am an educated English speaker, therefore not a thug or a savage. Sometimes they even stop following me. Sometimes they just hover a couple of aisles over. Everyone seems to at least be aware enough that no one has refused me service in oh, five or six years now. When they did it was always with the best of reasons, of course. Still, it’s annoying to never know if entering a store will get me hostile suspicion and a ‘helicopter attendant’ or not. In some ways I prefer that to the ‘I don’t see you’ strategy that used to be in fashion. Do I still go shopping? You bet I do, I have simply learned to live with it.

And that is what I really want those of you reading this to understand. That for decades, if you are non-White looking in the US, you learn to live with it. You learn to make do, to comply. Because if you don’t, you choose to fight all the time, you learn to ignore the looks and the comments and carry on, because that is what you do.
I do not need ‘special rights’ or ‘privileges.’ In fact, I wish the American Left would stop using ‘privileges’ as I feel it implies that to expect basic human decency is somehow a cherry on top of the sundae of life. I am sorry, but the expectation that you will be treated by those in power the same regardless of your skin tone or biological plumbing is called a Right. Americans have fought numerous wars for this principle. Shall we call it what it is please?
What do I want? “I look towards a day in this country when one is judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That is what I want. Martin Luther King said that nearly fifty years ago. It’s time we all caught up.
I am done speaking on this.

Home from Norwescon

Back safely from Norwescon 38. The writing panels were great as always, and I have a renewed sense of purpose. If you have any literary interests in the SF&F genre, I highly recommend Norwescon. The veteran writers are very approachable and eager to share both their experiences and their options!  Anyway, I have come away with some great ideas on how to approach a couple of projects, so I am excited. No, I did not get to see the Great Character Killer, George RR Martin. The lines were simply too long. I did however get a photo taken sitting on the infamous throne and logged more than 3 miles a day in walking, go me!

Get a Free Ebook!

Greetings Gentle Readers,

In celebration of the release of Strong Justice, the next volume of the Owen Strong Steampunk Magica Series on Friday,  the first volume Strong Adept, will be free to download on Amazon US starting tomorrow, but only for 48 hours! So get one for yourself, and a copy for a friend. Spread the word!

http://www.amazon.com/Strong-Adept-Mystery-Steampunk-Magica-ebook/dp/B00LGV6BPU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1427235647&sr=8-2&keywords=raven+bond

The Return of Owen Strong and Jinhao

Guess what I’ve been doing? Editing the Galley proofs for the next Owen Strong novel, Strong Justice. With any luck, the final will be available for you to purchase in a couple of weeks at most.

Strong Justice will mark the return of our heroes Owen Strong and the enigmatic  Jinhao in their eldritch Hong Kong, where Magic is very much a part of the world and the city is ruled by a Dragon. Of course, there’s a murder to be solved as well. *smiles*

Writing

I have found that writers tend to describe themselves as either outliners or ‘pantsers’. Outliners are much as the word says: they are people who make an outline of what they are going to write, and then fill in as they go. ‘Pantsers’ is short for ‘seat of the pants’ writers, those who simply sit down and write, trusting that the process of writing will yield something good. I find in my writing process that I am something of a hybrid.

What motivates me to start is having a great idea usually something along the lines of ‘hey wouldn’t it be neat…’ This causes me to sit down and actually write. Sometimes it’s a character who says, “Hi there, what to hear about my world and my life?” Sometimes it’s both.  It’s an exciting time, sometimes literally an adventure where I find out what the idea is or who this person is.  Then comes the time period of ‘oh my Ghod what am I going to do with this mess?’ That’s when I sit and stare at the walls for hours and then make outlines like crazy. Rinse, repeat.

I am currently in such a state now where I am re-writing the scenes of the next Secret Wars book, Alien Devices. The first volume, Wind Dancer, has done very well thanks to all of you. Will, Saira, Abigail, and the rest of the crew of the Airship Wind Dancer, have all told me the story so far from their points of view, and now I get to turn that all into something that readable. Here I could use some help in staying motivated.

If you’ve read Wind Dancer, please post a short review of it, either on Amazon.com or Goodreads.com and then let me know to go find it. It doesn’t have to be a polished scholarly work, just that you liked it (or not) and click the stars rating.

If you haven’t read it yet, you should! It’s the start o f a great series of thrilling adventures of mercenary airship privateers, grand conspiracies, and alien invasions. If you sign up for my newsletter  you can get the first chapter for free!

You can get it the whole book here in either digital or paperback versions:

http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Dancer-Adventure-Mystery-Steampunk/dp/0692370951/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1425523635&sr=8-1&keywords=raven+bond

 

 

Lenard Nimoy

By now, the entire blogosphere is aware of the passing of the great actor who brought to life the Star Trek character of  Spock. Anything that I might say about him has surely been said better, this is merely my own perspective on it all.

One of those writers I believe said it best: “If you want to know what all the outcry on the net is about, realize that every geek just lost one of their favorite grandparents.”  True, and yet Nimoy’s portrayal of Spock meant so much more to me.

Imagine if you will the effect of seeing every week on TV  a green-skinned half-human, half-alien had on a little dark-skinned  half-Indian, half-white boy growing up in the United States. Not only was the half-breed in the second banana ‘Tonto’ role much more dignified than the lead, he was the one who was always pointing out the right thing to do (being the science officer). Also, he was Commander Spock, second-in-command of the whole frackin’ ship. The effect was powerful let me tell you. Now the spaceman has gone home.

 

No matter who was giving Spock attitude about his heritage, he would just raise an eyebrow and simply say, “Very illogical”. Yeah. I adopted that stance as a kid. Still, to this day, when someone gives me attitude over my heritage, the first thing that whispers in my ear is Spock’s voice. “Highly illogical”. Thank you Mr. Nimoy.

 

My book is on sale!

Hi all,

Yes, Wind Dancer, the first of my exciting steampunk action-adventure series is now on sale from Amazon.com in it’s digital form for only .99! As this will be a very limited time price,  I want to encourage you to go get you copy now!

http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Dancer-Steampunk-Adventure-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00RE0AX9M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1424310922&sr=1-1&keywords=raven+bond

 

Also, Wind Dancer is now available through Amazon in a printed version, so no matter what format you prefer, you can now read it! Please buy it, read it and then write a review either on Amazon or Goodreads. It doesn’t have to be long or polished, simply your honest opinion.  Reviews are the lifeblood of authors nowadays. I really hope you enjoy it, and if not, I want to know that too!

Thank you so much for your continued interest and support!

Raven Bond

 

The Nuclear Holocaust no one talks about

So recently I heard someone say they had just discovered the ‘doomsday clock’–you know the one put out by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It measures how close we are to the total destruction  of ourselves, midnight being when all of civilization is destroyed.   It now has gone from five minutes to midnight, to three minutes to midnight because the scientists on the board have decided to add climate change into their equations. The person was shocked. Totally shocked that it was so close to midnight.

The funny thing is that I was talking to another person who remembers the same thing I do, that the clock used to be at *one minute* to midnight when we were teenagers. What I find worth noting in all this is that my generation never talks about *knowing* we are all going to die, we just seemed to  take it for granted. Very intelligent people I know would refuse to plan any future at all.  Curtis LeMay, the former American military leader once appealed to the US Congress to allow him to launch a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union, ‘because total destruction is going to happen anyway and the US  might as well win the war!’ Imagine someone saying that today.

The fact of our imminent death was everywhere you turned, in all the media, in our books and songs, and now its never mentioned not at all.   Why is that I wonder?

On the positive side, we should be proud to be the ones who were committed enough as a people *not* to destroy the entire planet in the blink of an eye, and to be that committed for more nearly seventy years. It speaks well of us and of Western Civilization as a whole.

On the negative side, I can’t help but wonder what the knowledge has done to us as a society, as a people. Has it made us fretful as a culture? Cruel and callous? How would we even know?

Perhaps there needs to be a new type of speculative fiction that addresses these issues. Instead of ‘holocaust dystopia’ we could maybe call it ‘we are doin’ fine’ or something like that.

If you are laughing at this idea, or have an objection that no one today would read it, perhaps that’s a sign of what the nuclear age has truly cost us.

Wind Dancer the Novel

Greetings gentle readers,

It is with great joy that I announce for all of you that have asked for it, my Steampunk novel Wind Dancer is now available in a trade paperback edition.

So for all of you that have been saying that you will get a copy now is your chance! click below, enjoy, and then please write a review. Reviews are the lifeblood of an author these days. Really.

Thank you all so much!!

http://www.amazon.com/Wind-Dancer-Adventure-Mystery-Steampunk/dp/0692370951/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423184018&sr=1-4&keywords=raven+bond