Bite-size philosophy and me

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Today’s world and politics often inspire a fit of philosophy in me as I try to make sense of what is happening and how to deal with it. –photo by Michelle Garren Flye

I’m a closet philosopher. Seriously, I’ve been accused of thinking too much. The problem is, if I try to read an entire book—or even an entire essay—by a philosopher, I get bored. I find myself thinking about what’s for lunch or what my kids are doing or when I need to go grocery shopping again.

The Internet has solved that for me. When I find myself pondering a philosophical problem, I can look it up on the Internet and find bite-size nuggets of inspiration in philosophical quotes. And since I always like to check my sources, I end up reading at least a paragraph or two from the quoted philosopher. Until I started this up, I had no idea who Bertrand Russell was but now I’ve read several paragraphs from him!

Google this one if you’re likely to fall for internet hoaxes: “…it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.”

–Bertrand Russell

That’s how I found out Albert Camus agrees with me that today’s attitudes toward “West Coast elite” writers, actors, and artists is a bad thing. Camus would have been heartbroken by the fall of Hollywood in today’s world. Of course, Camus died in 1960, and I don’t even know if he ever saw a movie, but I found a quote that seems to support this idea of mine. Camus wrote: “Beauty, no doubt, does not make revolutions. But a day will come when revolutions will have need of beauty.”

What a wonderful thought. I pictured men on a bleak battlefield ceasing the fight while they looked for the beauty of what they were fighting for. How many wars might end if we stopped to think about what we fought for? I checked the source of the quote and found a longer section of Camus’s essay “The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt.” In this section, Camus expounds on the necessity of art to make sense of history. Look, for instance, at this sentence:

“Every great reformer tries to create in history what Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere, and Tolstoy knew how to create: a world always ready to satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart.”

–Albert Camus

I dare to believe that Camus wrote, in 1951, how I’ve been feeling about the way many artists are treated today when they dare to make their feelings about the larger world known. Stephen King, Barbra Streisand, Colin Kaepernick (yes, sports can be art), J.K. Rowling—even Rob Thomas—all of these artists and many more have been slammed on Twitter and in conservative media for daring to make political opinions known in today’s highly divisive atmosphere.

To the artists I say, you have vision and you must keep seeing. Keep seeing and keep speaking out because though you are outnumbered by those who can’t see, your light shines brighter than theirs. And that’s your job.

In case you were wondering, Camus would have agreed with me about this. In that same essay, he said something which I can only take as a message to me and to all like me who see the world as oppressive and who want to make it freer and more beautiful and welcoming to all:

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

–Albert Camus

And that is how I will seek to live my life.

Prose Poem: Here Goes by Michelle Garren Flye

pexels-photo-533671.jpegHere Goes

By Michelle Garren Flye

Time for you to take the wheel. I’m tired and lost. You can find the way out. You have Snapchat and Twitter and the iPhone X—all I have is Goggle. I mean Google. And Amazon. Hey, I can buy us a Garmin. Maybe that would help. You know when I was your age, we had Rand McNally Road Atlases.

I don’t know when we got to this point. You an adult and me old. I remember when I looked at the world the way you can now: like it was mine to take. It’s not mine anymore. I failed. I didn’t do any of the things I meant to do. I didn’t fix the environment or get rid of guns or stop wars or any of the stuff I thought I would do. I don’t know how I got lost. Do you?

Can you see the road? Of course you can. Your eyes are young and your gaze is clear. I bet the way ahead looks straight to you. It gets harder later. Find your way now before your vision is clouded with smog and illusion.

Here goes. Take the wheel. Take the wheel and drive.

Promotion: The dirty word of writing.

With the launch of Out of Time less than two months away, I’m throwing myself into the process of making certain readers know about the book. In other words, promotion.

Promotion. It’s not a four-letter word, but it might as well be. As writers, we want readers to read our books, but we would rather stay away from the actual hawking of said books. But if we don’t hawk the books, they don’t get read, and to get the books read, we have to sell them.

Hence, promotion.

I’ve never yet gotten a real handle on the promotion thing. I would love to be one of those writers who writes only and hires someone to do all the dirty work for her. Tweeting and Facebooking and advertising…everything short of standing on the corner of Main and Broad yelling, “Buy my book! You’ll love it!”

But that’s not really possible, is it? I have to promote my book, but why can’t I have fun with it? So I’ve decided on June 15, I’m going to host a big party here, complete with party favors (i.e. e-giveaways) and a grand door prize of a Kindle Fire. Please spread the word. Invite your friends. And here’s your invitation:img_3990

One last note, I’m running a campaign on Thunderclap to promote the launch party, too. If you’d like to support the campaign, here’s a link: Help Me Launch Out of Time. Remember, I’m promoting the launch party, which will hopefully promote the book, but no purchase is necessary to participate! Just come and join the fun, and maybe take home some goodies!

New Year: My Love/Hate/Like/Respect Relationship with Social Media

I was first introduced to social media at my 20th high school reunion. “Are you on Facebook?” is the second most important question I remember being asked.

“Are you pregnant?” is the first most important.

I wasn’t.

In fact, my daughter who was just over a year old was with my two boys at my parents’ that night. My father called me about two hours into the event to tell me she was running a fever. Happy to get away from schoolmates I’d never really fit in with but still longed to impress, I fled the scene in the ill-fitting dress that had led to pregnancy question.

The next week I looked up Facebook, started a profile, friended every old Facebook_like_thumbschoolmate I could find and posted a flattering picture of myself, very obviously NOT pregnant. Facebook was a lot of fun!

I’ve had a hilly relationship with social media since then. When I started publishing romance novels, it was useful for getting the word out. Hey, look what I did! But I can’t honestly say it’s resulted in a spike in sales at any point beyond release days. And to be honest, constantly posting and tweeting saps any creative energy I might have, cutting dramatically into my writing time.

I’ve used social media, especially Facebook, to brag about my kids, to post funny pictures, to share articles about politics, education, writing, child-rearing, etc. I’ve been guilty about bragging about the places I travel to, special achievements, and wonderful experiences.

Last October, I read an article about the darker side of social media. People who post the good stuff and leave out the bad. A mother who posted pictures of her beautiful children, loving husband and perfect home–found dead of a drug overdose. Another mother who posted loving comments about her toddler’s accomplishments and growth–discovered disposing of the child’s body. Teens who maintain two profiles. One that shows a perfect life, the other full of angst and worry that they’ll be found out to be much more normal and less…perfect.

Is this what social media turns us into? Is it really just another way of keeping up with—or besting—your friends and neighbors? Since reading these articles, I’ve been more thoughtful about what I post to the point of almost posting nothing. What if something I post makes someone else out there feel unworthy or like a failure? That’s not what I want.

Facebook currently has a feature letting me know what my “memories” are from that date in the past. Sometimes I force myself to look. They are mostly drivel and nine-tenths of the rest are not worth sharing with the world or even good friends. The only truly worthwhile ones are pictures of my kids, and maybe I should never have posted those anyway.

Which has led me to my New Year’s resolution. I’m going to use social media and the Internet in a more thoughtful way. I’ve been going over and over what this means and I’m still not totally clear about it. I know it means to think twice before posting, to consider carefully what the effects of my posts might be. I don’t think I’ll stop using social media, because I do like and enjoy it for the most part, but I will respect it more.

Let’s be honest: We can’t blame E.L. James.

So, E.L. James decides to try to do what many authors do. In an attempt at promoting her new book Grey, James went live on Twitter, allowing other Tweeters to ask her questions using #AskELJames. What ensued was…troubling. Tweeters used the opportunity to criticize James’s writing and to accuse her of everything from glorifying abuse to setting back women’s rights a good fifty years.

Now, I’m not a fan of 50 Shades. I read the first one, or at least started it, after hearing a great deal of buzz about it. I ended up skipping through a good bit of it, and when I reached the end, I was actually disappointed to learn that there were two sequels. I’m no fan of E.L. James, but I don’t blame her, and I certainly would never have participated in the monstrous activity that took place on Twitter.

E.L. James is a writer. Maybe not a great one, but she did write, as of last count, four enormously popular books. Is it her fault that a publisher chose to publish her books, a gazillion people chose to buy and read them, and a movie producer chose to make a movie—which another gazillion people went to see? Not really.

So who is there left to blame if the author is out of bounds? The publisher for pulling 50 Shades out of the slush pile and giving it the type of promotion that most authors can only dream of? Maybe, but publishers are, in the end, just salesmen. They see a need in the market and they try to be the first to fill it.

The troubling thing about the whole 50 Shades phenomenon is that, at the end of the day, there was a market for the book. In spite of its disturbing thematic material. In spite of its sub-par writing. In spite of the fact that “those type” of books (which have been around for many, many years) were once hidden at the back of the bookstore, not prominently displayed at the front door to greet me and my children when we go in looking for summer reading.

So don’t blame E.L. James for writing what a large part of our society now wants to read. Writers write. Publishers publish. Readers buy the books.

Did you ever hear of best laid plans?

It’s either a case of best laid plans or not planning well at all, but when I decided to launch Close Up Magic on the first of June, complete with a three-week whirlwind book tour two days later, I completely didn’t take into account that this would be one of my craziest weeks ever.

In addition to trying to keep up with my regular craziness, I have to add in the last week of school for my kids, packing up the school library in preparation to move it, and my daughter being out of school. Long story short, I’m not going to be physically able to do everything I should to promote my book tour. I still plan on tweeting about it and posting it on Facebook, but posting on here everyday? Not going to happen. That’s why I’ve put up the menu on the right side of your screen under the pretty book cover image. If you check there every day, you’ll be able to see where I am, and I will also magically transform each of those blog names into a link to my post!

And why is this important? Because commenters on each post are eligible to win a $5 Amazon gift card–one at every stop! And at the end of the tour, I’ll be giving away a Magic Basket–that’s right, a basket full of magic and books about magic! You don’t want to miss out on that, do you?

Plus, I’m revealing a little bit about me and Close Up Magic at every stop. What makes magicians sexy? Why do I enjoy magic? Who do I have a secret crush on? (Got your attention there!) I’m not going to tell you which post that’s in, either! You’ll have to pay attention.

In the meantime, how about checking out my post on Deal Sharing Aunt?

Join me June 1 for the Close Up Magic Release Day celebration!: What’s magic to YOU?

Join me June 1 for Close Up Magic’s official release day celebration! It’ll be magic and books and magic books and…LAS VEGAS!!!…all day long. I’ll be posting pictures of me in magical Las Vegas locations all day on June 1. You’ll be able to find me on Facebook, Twitter and right here! Best of all, I want you to be part of the action. I’ve got a list of locations I want to visit in Las Vegas, but I want you to help me out. What about Vegas is magic to YOU? Is it the magicians? The casinos? The over-the-top architecture of places of like Caesar’s Palace and The Venetian? Leave me your suggestions of the best places to use as a backdrop for a picture of me holding Close Up Magic and I’ll do my very best to get there. Plus, if you suggest a place for me to go, I’ll enter you to win a $20 Amazon gift card that you can magically transform into merchandise from Amazon!

I will be posting on my blog all day, but here’s a list of other places where you can find me on June 1:
Twitter
Michelle Garren Flye Facebook Fan Page
Close Up Magic Facebook Fan Page

Look forward to seeing you there!