Friday, March 9, 2018

Trump, Russia and Kim Jong-un: The Plot Thickens

As no one knows (except my internet provider) I spend fabulous amounts of time following the gripping spy novel that is currently unfolding in the American White House.

I'm a crime writer. I have a cynical mind. And when something smells, I immediately think dead body. And there is a powerful stench coming off this latest announcement that North Korea's Kim Jong-un has invited Trump to talk peace.

Okay, that's not the stinky bit. It's this: Kim Jong-un "understands that the routine joint military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. must continue." 

Whoa. That's a rotten bit of flesh buried in the basement right there.

Does Kim Jong-un strike you as a guy who understands stuff? Has he striven to give the Western world the impression that he's a guy who understands stuff? This is a statement so utterly out of character that I'd have trouble putting it in a novel without getting slammed by readers.

It's a complete about-face, which is always suspect in the spy game. I have another theory as to what is really going on here. Brace yourselves.

The public animosity between Trump and Jong-un wasn't real. The 'little rocket man' stuff was a magician's trick to keep our attention on the wrong thing. It was pure theatre--little boys taunting each other on the playground. They love their egos and nothing else. Not even their countries.

But they have nukes! Yes, they do and they love showing them off. Trump is next up in the Hit Parade apparently. He's arm-twisted the Pentagon into giving him a military parade. It's fun to show their nukes off; it's less fun to blow everyone up who follows you on Twitter.

That Twitter war offered us a clue, however. Why did they think they could get away with it? I mean, the usual deal is we don't say certain things because of consequences. The prevailing theory is that Jong-un and Trump are unhinged and act without thinking of the consequences. But if that was true then there would be no hope of reasoning with either of them and we'd be in fear of a nuclear winter right now given the insults they've lobbed at each other.

My theory is that these boys didn't think of the consequences because they knew there wouldn't be any.

Let's cut to the chase because it's Friday afternoon and wine awaits.

1. Putin is the Papa Bear behind the Trump/Jong-un relationship. He told them to squabble. He told them to make up. They could get away with their taunts because they both knew the other wouldn't do anything about it. Trump knew Putin was sitting on Kim and Kim knew Putin was sitting on Trump. 
So now the leap is not so great from "stand-off" to "hey, let's talk, buddy." Putin wants them to make up, at least in public--hence Kim Jong-un's sudden about-face. But what's in it for Putin? 
2. Well, he went to great expense to put Trump in office and so far the Trump Administration is working out really well for him. (Trump is Putin's Employee of the Year) Putin wants Trump in office in 2020 but Trump is so spectacularly incompetent, he'll have to win the Nobel Peace Prize to pull it off. So....
3.  Enter Rocket Man, the nukes, the "tensions" and the stunning about-face to talk peace with his nemesis. Jong-un goes along with the show because he depends on Russia, he wants Western recognition and he wants the sanctions lifted. And more importantly, he loves the attention.  
4. As the curtain goes down, the boys will shake hands and make up because Papa Putin tells them to so Donald can win the Peace Prize and the presidency. The End.  
It lacks the panache of a Bourne conspiracy but I'm going to put it in the novel anyway. I've kept copious notes on the Trump-Russia Affair, hoping to turn these real-time historic events into a political thriller once the dust settles. Except that the dust shows no sign of settling. There's always a new layer.

For further reading check out: The Diplomat Russia's Relationship with North Korea. It's Complicated.

And because we gotta laugh, check out Keith Olbermann of GQ: The Resistance on YouTube for some of the wittiest, in-depth, take-no-prisoners reporting on the Trump Administration that I've seen. God bless free speech!

Happy March, folks.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

In Celebration of Black History Month

I was wondering what I could do to celebrate this month and then I remembered my clever niece wrote an essay for her class last year that was an eye-opener for her white aunts and uncles. She gave me permission to publish it on my blog. What better time than this month.

The World Is Not Black and White

The world is not black and white, it’s not even a rainbow. A rainbow would imply each colour is separated by distinct lines which is simply not the case. The world is a spectrum of vibrant colours in thousands of shades. Pinks, yellows, purples, and every colour you could think of in every shade possible. Unfortunately to most people, the world is black and white, at least where I grew up it was.

I grew up in a notoriously white neighbourhood. I had not seen another black person until I was six years old. I used to think I had a skin condition which I inherited from my mother that made me darker than the other kids. It wasn’t until I started elementary school when I saw other people like me. There were a handful of black children in the whole school and they all seemed to know each other, however, I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. I couldn’t talk to them and they couldn’t talk to me.

Looking back, elementary school was a tough time for me. I wasn’t fully aware of what people were saying or the meaning of their actions until I was older. My most fond memory of my childhood was when I joined Girl Scouts and we had an activity where everyone placed a pin in a country on a world map of where they were from. Europe was completely covered. I had just taken two pins and before I knew it they were snatched out of my hands by a scout who thought she was funny. “I know where these go,” she laughed to the other girls, “right here!” she said putting both pins in the centre of Africa. The scouts laughed but I was more confused. Even if I was African, which I’m not, why would that be funny? I took the pins out of The Congo and placed one in Jamaica and one in Scotland. They were completely baffled. “How are you from Scotland?” one asked me “My father’s parents,” I said. “So does that make you white?” a different scout asked me. “I guess” I replied, I had never used labels before so I wasn’t complete sure what they meant. Since that day, none of the scouts believed that I was born with two races; it was almost like they’ve never heard of bi-racialism...maybe because they hadn’t.

Kids can be cruel. I’ve been called a mutt and I’ve been called “Reblacka”.  The worst was learning about Black History in elementary school that memory will stay with me forever. Being the only black kid in the class made the experience all the more uncomfortable. “Were your ancestors slaves?” “if my ancestors every owned your ancestors I’m so sorry” “Does that mean your Grandpa owned your other Grandma?” Sure they meant well but having every kid in this class ask you about your slave grandparents for a month was really awkward. Then we watched a video on Martin Luther King Jr. and it showed old footage of businesses with signs posted on doors saying “No N*ggers Allowed.” A student asked my teacher what that word meant and my teacher told them “It’s a really rude word people used to call black people a long time ago,” then a student turned to me and said “Hey Rebecca-Lynn’s a n*gger!” and some other kids joined in as well, meanwhile other kids were debating whether I truly was a n*gger because I’m also half white. It became a class discussion so my teacher tried her best to stop them but they were having a laugh. As a child I never really understood the real meaning of the word and I’m sure the kids didn’t either, but what upset me as a child was that the teacher told them it was a bad word yet they chose to use it anyways.

As I got older, I met more and more bi-racial people and they all had one thing in common. They were either willfully blind or leaning; and I really don’t blame them. Unless you comply with typical stereotypes, you won’t be considered as your race. I don’t listen to rap music and I love British food; for that, most people don’t consider me as black despite having darker skin. Most biracial people, in my experience, lean more to the side they take the most physical features from; some won’t even acknowledge their other half, which I think is unfortunate. I feel blessed to be born with two races, two beautiful cultures, and the idea of ignoring one to conform to other people’s close-minded standards breaks my heart.

As I entered middle school and high school, I often received the same compliment—If you can call it that--, “You’re really pretty for a black girl!” How does one respond to that? What does that even mean “for a black girl?” I accepted the compliment to be nice, however because of that comment, some black girls actually started looking at me a different way. To them, the only thing that made me “pretty” was the fact that I was half white; that’s where the beauty was. But I think my beauty comes from both sides, the best of both worlds if you would.

A lot of the time, people couldn’t see past my whiteness or my blackness. Being told by white people that “you’re not black/white enough to do that” or being told by black people that “you’re only half black/white so technically it doesn’t count” can start off as a funny comment but after a while it can become hurtful. I’ve even had KKK songs sung to me because someone assumed it wouldn’t be as offensive because I’m only half black. By their logic, Obama is only half black so technically he wasn’t the first black president and Drake isn’t “black enough” to embrace his Caribbean culture. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? People like to pick and choose which biracial person gets to be considered what, but frankly it’s none of their business.

I’ve been told by people of all races that I’m not good enough for my race because most people aren’t used to one person belonging to more than one race. Bi-racialism is becoming more and more common in today’s world. Cultures are mixing and diversity is becoming more and more prominent. As the saying goes, old habits die hard and people still consider the world as black and white, but the world is no longer black and white, nor is it a rainbow. The world is a huge spectrum of cultures and colours in every shade; and it’s beautiful.

Rebecca-Lynn Doolittle

Thank you for reading and I hope we all join in the celebration!

Black History Month Canada

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Free books for Kobo readers!

Hey there Kobo readers, Iced Under was accepted for Kobo's Free First in Series Sale February 22 to February 26! (reg. retail price $6.99) 

This is your chance to get book one in the Gatineau Hills Mystery Series absolutely free!

I'm really chuffed my book was selected. Authors submit their titles for a wide variety of promotions Kobo offers and landing one is a big deal. 

Readers can try out unknown authors for zero cost and authors have a chance to reach new readers.  

How to get your hands on your free copy:

1) Open your Kobo email newsletter
2) Use the promo code during check-out
3) Get 100 percent off price 
4) Download and enjoy!

The promo is advertised to Kobo customers worldwide. So, if you can tear your eyes away from the 2018 Winter Olympics, I wish you happy reading this February!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Oh Canada--it is time to grow up.

You know you're old when....

You remember your country's Centennial birthday. "It's the hundredth anniversary of Confederation! Everybody sing together!"

That year we travelled from British Columbia to Quebec in my parent's black station wagon towing a pink trailer to attend Expo 67. To fully grasp the insanity of this adventure, my parents had 6 children under the age of 10 and my mother was pregnant with no. 7.

I got lost at the Fair, was found by two French-speaking nuns. I didn't understand the language (even after numerous Saturday mornings of watching Chez Helene on the CBC) but I wasn't worried because they were nuns, right? They brought me to the Lost Children's Centre where I was given ice cream. My sister was sent to recover me, my parents were furious and I've been getting lost ever since.

What was unknown to me in those exciting days of Canada's 100th and bursting national pride was that children my age were being taken from their parents and forced into residential schools. In the very country that I was being taught to love, children were being grievously harmed by the policies of that country. The very institutions that took pains to return me to my parents were separating other children from their parents.

The only difference between me and the kids forced into residential schools is that I was white and they were aboriginal. I don't classify that as a difference. A kid is a kid is a kid. It boggles my mind. 1967 was hardly the dark ages. What the fuck was going on in the minds of those men and women? How could any human being conclude that taking children from their parents was a legitimate, moral act? What "problem" did those Canadians hope to solve by inflicting emotional and mental cruelty on other Canadians?

Fifty years later, lesson learned: It didn't solve a fucking thing. How could it possibly? Common sense--not hindsight--makes that clear. A 7-year-old school kid could have told those overpaid policy makers it was a bad idea. Our eyes are open, we have the facts, there's no stuffing that genie back in the bottle.

I'll celebrate my country's 150th birthday--but I'm not interested in rewriting the past. I'm not interested in equivocations or whitewashing so we can all have a good time. I don't want my little grandsons to be celebrating Canada's 200th birthday, wondering what was wrong with grandma's generation that we gave up on making this right when the going got tough.

We're all feeling warm and fuzzy right now and I don't want to be a buzz kill but I know this nation is capable of doing better. I know her gifts and untapped strength. I know she's a tough old bird who drives out the weak-minded and greedy, and rewards the morally conscious. If we don't dig in our heels and resolve to get  this right, then what the hell do we have to be proud of?

I'm going to sing the national anthem and celebrate the years to come with a mind, heart and will moving toward reconciliation with the first peoples of Canada--the best of Canada--the First Nations.

I pray every Canadian does the same. Happy Canada Day.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Canada-US Kobo eBook Sale

This will be short and sweet because I've been promoting and uploading and formatting my little fingers to the bone, but I have to get this great news off my chest before I crash.

Iced Under was selected by the Kobo editors for inclusion in their Mother's Day Buy More Save More Sale! Ask me if I'm excited! Go ahead, ask! 

I'm thrilled and honoured to be part of this promotion to reach Kobo readers.

From May 11-15 (inclusive), Kobo will be running a Mother's Day Buy 2 Get 1 Free (3 for 2) Sale in Canada and the US. We are looking for books for Moms. 

Iced Under fits the bill amazingly well if I do say so myself. I was just thinking about this the other day. The novel is a mystery but really it's about three very different mothers and the tremendous impact their actions have on each other. It's about a woman testing her metal, getting down to the bones of her life that she's forgotten in her years of marriage. When her marriage ends suddenly, Sara is lost and has to rebuild her identity (with her two daughters in tow) from the ground up. 

Check it out:

Kids and Dads: If Mom is a reader (speaking as a reader) the best thing you can give her for Mother's Day is a bunch of books and a whole day of reading. Seriously. Just let her read. Oh, and feed her.

NEXT UP: Wakefield Writers Festival happening here in downtown Wakefield. (We did not get flooded out, but oh boy, the river was high!) 

Check it out:

WAKEFIELD WRITERS FESTIVAL has an stellar line-up of authors and spoken word performers. My personal faves are going to be there: Terry Fallis and Heather O'Neill.

And that's all I have this week.

Keep the faith, buy books and do not let your brain cells atrophy.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Springtime in Gatineau Hills Quebec

I'm going to take you through a brief travelogue for this post to welcome the season. Click the links to see the spots I reference. Come on, it'll be fun.

Spring is tweeting outside my office window and Easter means a visit to the sugar bush around here. (Ask Google to translate this page.)

My windows are open for the first time in weeks. The birds and sheep are making a racket. The snow is melted in the major spots, only hanging on in dirty clumps in the corners. We don't have a yard. We have a bloody forest and the deer have been coming right to the house in search of a hand-out. It's been a hard winter for them.

 My office faces the Gatineau Hills within the National Capital Region. I write crime fiction set in the wilderness places of Western Quebec. I'm more than a little conscious of the natural world and it infuses my writing.

My books sell really well in my area. Cottagers and locals love to read about murder when they're relaxing at the lake. It's a Canadian thing. (Yes, I know I've linked to Lac Bernard Cottage Rentals. I'm not trying to rent you a cottage. The pictures are pretty. Just look at them. Enjoy.)

My nearest village is Wakefield, Quebec, a happening creative hive. Theatre, music, art, festivals, fine-dining and wholesome food--as well as a river, green hills and really nice people. At this time of year, when the ice is off the waterways and the sun is beginning to be felt again, you'll find people standing around in parking lots talking about the winter like we've come through a siege.

This is before the bugs get here and then Spring is intolerable and we can't wait for the hot weather to kill off the bugs. And then we complain that it's too hot. (This actually happens.)

With the approach of Mother's Day (May 14) and the start of Cottage Season (May 22 - also known as Victoria Day), my thoughts naturally turn to marketing....

If you're a cottager, or live in the Ottawa Valley, or in Canada, and crave a helping of Canadian Crime Fiction to celebrate Canada's Sesquicentennial have I got a book (or three) for you! 

Iced Under, The Grey Lady and The River Bride are available at Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple iBooks for $6.99 CND (and Australia who are my best customers for some reason. Love you guys.)

Iced Under

The Grey Lady

The River Bride

Page-turning contemporary crime fiction that women love. Order it today in time for Mother's Day and then leave her alone to read while you make dinner. Ahhh.....bliss.

Iced Under Print

The Grey Lady Print

The River Bride Print

Monday, January 2, 2017

Huffington Post and the woefully uninformed writer

I live near Wakefield, Quebec, a small village in which independent artists create music, poetry, theatre, textiles, glasswork, woodwork, photography and more. Everything from the food we eat to the culture we consume comes from the place we live. Our seniors are anything but "elderly" and our way of life is DIY if all else fails. We are not conservative. Though we value tradition, we respect differing points-of-view and choices.

Or so I thought.

A traditionally published author in Wakefield has written an article for Huffington Post entitled Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word. 

Laurie Gough is a fine travel writer; I have two of her books and a copy of her latest release on my shelf. But she does not know anything about self-publishing and to the best of my knowledge (based on this article) she made no attempt to inform herself before she posted her opinion piece. She is aware I am a self-published author. I cheerfully insult the written word every morning from 7 am and 12 noon.

Laurie makes an apology of sorts in the comments trail in which she more or less throws Canada under the bus saying self-publishing isn't as big up here. That doesn't fly with the Canadian authors on KBoards Writers' Cafe. (Founded by a Canadian author who passed away last year. Seriously, Laurie. Google is your friend.) 

HuffPo article take down of self-pubbers destroyed in comments

I drop into the Cafe every morning with my cup of coffee to wake my brain up and get started on the day. I usually don't read threads like the one above because, meh, I've heard it all before. I made $1400 in 20 years of traditional publishing and $10,000 in 2 years of self-publishing so I can't be bullied into thinking less of my work. For whatever reason, I opened the thread and Laurie's name came up. Talk about surreal. And then I read the piece and got a stomach ache.

I can accept that Laurie was expressing her personal opinion. What I can't accept is the utter lack of thought, research or fact-checking that went into forming her opinion before she hit "publish." She made no effort to challenge her beliefs and consequently she has no idea how to defend them.

We've all fallen victim to the sloppy journalism of online "news" so I won't go down that rabbit hole of dissecting the misquoted Margaret Atwood, the lazy analogies or the hyperbole. The over 700 comments do a better job of correcting the errors and misinformation.

Two authors address the fundamental flaws in Laurie's thinking better than I can.

It's Joe Hunt

Monster Hunter Nation

The interesting silver lining that I got out of this as I head into 2017 was the sense that I am part of something bigger. The traditional publishing system is far from obsolete and has a lot to offer society and writers. But where it can't serve, self-publishing is a viable alternative.

It is also work, but that's what's cool about it. I had no appreciation for what editors, publishers and agents were talking about in terms of marketability until I tried to sell my own books. I do now and that's the best thing about DIY--one is forced to be humble enough to learn.

A lesson I hope Laurie Gough gets out of all of this.