All posts by Sharon Gerlach

Author of MALAKH, OFFICE POLITICS, and THE SECRET DREAMS OF SARAH-JANE QUINN

To Ban or Not to Ban … Should Not Even Be a Question

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Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association – Click image to go to the ALA Banned Book webpage

First read this article and this post will make more sense. 

Okay, now that you’re back…

To ban a book or not ban it shouldn’t even be a question. For me, it isn’t one I’ve ever pondered.

I’ve never agreed with banning books. And parents, don’tcha know that as soon as you tell kids they can’t do something, come hell or highwater, they are going to find a way to do exactly what you told them not to. Likewise, indifference to their reading material isn’t the answer, either – it just says you don’t care what they do, and then you’re buying the same kind of trouble. And my God – protesting a book because it contains “language we don’t speak in our home”? Are you going to ask for a ban on high school then, because have you heard the language in the corridors? Oy. How about a ban on life, too, because let me tell you, even a veteran swearer like me has learned new profanity even just recently.

I remember when the Harry Potter books came out. Many people in my sphere of influence at the time were all in an uproar – “the books contain REAL SPELLS!” and “it’s about MAGIC!” – and it really pissed me off, not only because the war cry came from many who are devoted Lord of the Rings fans (umm … MAGIC!) but because many of those people hadn’t cracked the spine of a J.K. Rowling book in their lives, yet they felt they were in an adequate position to condemn.

So I told my kids they couldn’t read them … until I’d read them first. And read them I did. Eight or nine times. And yes, there’s magic. And yes, I have problems with the general way it’s presented – the magic just IS, and can be used for good or evil; the good isn’t attributed to a benevolent higher power, and the evil isn’t attributed to a malevolent power. But that’s MY problem. Rowling didn’t write them just for me, and I have no right to get all uppity if her books don’t meet my standards. And my problems with the premise were absolutely and irrevocably decimated by the very profound message of the books: doing right is a choice, it is often not an easy choice, and it is a choice one must continually face throughout one’s entire lifetime with every conflict life brings. I would not have deprived my kids of that lesson for anything in the world. God knows they don’ t listen to me, so I gave Rowling a shot at reaching them. And she did.

My kids read the books. Did they ever try to Avada Kedavra anyone? No. However, they did read The Princess Bride as well, and WonderBoy challenged people to duels, so it just goes to show you never know what is going to resonate with them.

Parents, just be involved. Be firm in what you believe and give your guidance in your beliefs – but not your tyranny. Because true acceptance of beliefs comes not from having them imposed upon you with an iron fist, but from choosing them for yourself.

Let the kids read the book. I don’t read Alexie myself (the subject matters don’t run along my interests), but he’s a fellow Washingtonian and a writer, and being either of those is not an easy job.  

But just because your kid comes across some salty words in a book doesn’t mean they’re facing a life of doom and despair. For real.

Living Happily in a Rut (or, Who Put This Surprisingly Comfortable Pothole Here?)

Recently while perusing the life commentary in my Facebook stream (who needs TV? FB has everything from soap operas to cat fights to educational fodder), I came across a comment by a friend of a friend, talking about how she’s in a rut from being in the same professional field for many years. Continue reading

Shut Up & Kiss Me (INDIE-kissing Blogfest)

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My thanks to The Indelibles for hosting this blogfest. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good blogfest.

And everyone likes a good kissing scene. The moment when the main character finally gets lip-to-lip with his or her objet de désir is the culmination of untold hours of longing, fantasy, and anticipated passion. Continue reading

Blindsided – with Envy and Awe

BookCover_FrontFinal_smMy friend and fellow writer, Juliette Terzieff (tireless Commander in the Zombie Survival Crew), had the incredible opportunity to work with IronE Singleton on his autobiography. I’m totally envious of her opportunity and not a little in awe of his courage in tackling this project – anyone who takes on the task of writing his or her autobiography has taken on a monumental task. From remembering details to keeping it real to setting aside the fear of revealing one’s most inner self, an autobiography is the literary magnum opus of a life.   Continue reading

A Certain Slant of Light

Sunlight, Trees
Sunlight, Trees (Photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton)

I see you in a certain slant of light, a glimpse of tousled hair and a sleepy grin in the graceful radiance of a fresh spring morning; or a flash of skin, kissed golden, sun-drenched and warmed by the lazy beams of a sultry summer afternoon; or in pensive silhouette against a blazing autumn sky, painted red and gold and orange as evening claims the waning day; or washed in the cold blue light of a dying winter’s day, your eyes reflective pools of twilight chill and snow and ice. you live in every slant of light, in every hour of every day. you’re everywhere except here

beside me.

(This was written for my upcoming novel Sundown, the third book in The Devil’s Mansion series)

So You Think You Want a Resolution

English: New Year's Day postcard mailed in 190...

I’ve been thinking rather heavily upon the idea of New Year’s resolutions. And I’ve decided that this year, I’m not going to make any. The words “New Year’s resolution” have a temporary ring to my ears, perhaps because of so many jokes about people’s resolve lasting until January 2, or maybe because of so many of my failed resolutions in the past. New Year’s resolutions seem to be something one is expected to kick to the curb with no backward glance, and I find I am just not satisfied with that prospect. Continue reading

Polly Perfect … Perfectly Boring?

Let’s talk characters today. More to the point, let’s talk about characters with serious personality flaws. The following text is an excerpt from a review of Condemned on BarnesandNoble.com:

“I also have a problem with the heroine making stupid choices especially when it drives apart her marriage. It reminds me of those insipid romance stories with all the simpering angst when you know they are going to end up together. I still think Kim made the wrong choice because she did not consider her husband nor her children. I understand about miracles however I don’t think we should take such HUGE risks and rely on miracles to see us through–rather self-centered.”   Continue reading

Ducking Autocorrect!

At least I didn’t serve HIV with her Chu Jen nuggets… (image from Damn You Auto Correct)

I’ve shared many things with you, dear readers, some of them painful for me, most of them painful for you. But you’re still hanging around, you masochists, so I’m about to inflict even more abuse upon your tender heads.

Allow me to share the latest skirmish in my ongoing, exasperating, fiercely waged war with autocorrect (like you have any choice other than to stop reading now). I’ve never before shared my legendary difficulties with autocorrect with the masses, mostly because I’m not just losing each battle but I am losing the war. Being a writer, that’s kinda embarrassing. Continue reading

Of Clones & Confessions- oh, and Happy Independence Day!

Worker. Proofreader. Blogger. Writer. Somebody clone me!

I realize I don’t blog as much as I should. I’m sitting here right now while Long-Suffering Spouse, WonderBoy, and La Princessa are recovering from a walk with the buttercup (which temporarily ended my daily Dora the Explorer purgatory), thinking about stress. They say confession is good for the soul. You know why? It relieves stress. You’ve admitted your secrets, someone has reacted – either better than you imagined or worse than you feared – and they’re no longer knocking around inside you, making you crazy with guilt, shame, and dread of someone finding out. So here are my confessions, and with any luck my stress will become yours be much relieved. Continue reading

The Power of Paying Attention

My husband brought the mail in Thursday, but thankfully I didn’t see it until yesterday morning. Before work, he tossed a nice little official-looking letter from the IRS, addressed to Running Ink Press, onto my side of the dining room table. I thought to myself, “Uh-oh, I wonder if I checked a wrong box or something on the business return.”

Tax
Tax (Photo credit: 401K)

Well, that was sort of the issue.

I opened the envelope, pulled out the letter, and promptly had heart failure. Not a “did you mean to check this box” kind of letter, but a “you owe $4,680 in late-filing penalties” letter.

SAY WHAT?! I knew for a fact that I sent the tax filing in LONG before April 16. So I pawed through my file of RIP-related paperwork and found the return. Dated February whatever. Form 1065, as it should be. For tax year 2010.

2010!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Continue reading