Knowledge is Kindness

Over the past few months, I’ve come to an understanding. It’s nothing earth shattering, and I’m sure these things have been said before, but I needed the time to mull things over for myself.

Now I can share: I’m less likely to take offense to things people say if I know the individual.

Why is this? I’m empathetic to where they come from and realize that they have a valid reason for thinking the way they do, even if I don’t agree with it. The better I know the person, the more leeway I give their opinions.

Take the same words, said by someone I don’t know, and my first reaction is to be offended. For example, a friend says something that I disagree with. I’ll usually stay out of the conversation, and maybe even think “bless your heart” (a slight assimilation to southern living). But if one of their other friends steps in to agree or expand on the topic toward their angle, I get defensive about my ideals and think “how can she listen to people like that?” Or “I can’t believe there are people in the world that buy in to that propaganda!” And, well, you know… I’m sure you’ve thought similar things.

But don’t worry, I get over it.

And now, more than ever, it doesn’t bother me beyond that initial gut reaction.

It rolls off—the natural man is conquered, at least on this front.

After all, I don’t want to give other people’s words power to corrode my mood for the day.
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With all the contention in the world right now—even in our own communities—I think the best way to peace is to get to know each other. That’s the easiest way to combat judgmental behavior. After all, the majority of people want the same thing (peace, helping those less fortunate, etc.), we just have different ideas on what we think is the best route to get there.

Knowledge can equal kindness. Who do you need to understand more?

Inspired by Setting

While visiting with family a few weeks ago, I was blessed to experience several days of spring in the Midwest. I’ve been to central Illinois in the summer and winter, but this was our first trip this time of year. Many of the trees that were in full-bloom in the deep-south over a month ago were in their glory up north.
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Farmers and gardeners down south have their crops in the ground, but the Amish farmers were beginning to plow their fields—with horse power, of course.
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Trees that are fully green at home are just coming into their foliage there.
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Beauty can be found wherever you look.
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And so can corrosion.
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When possible, take time to visit new places. If that’s not an option, try viewing your regular piece of the world through new eyes. What details have you never noticed before?

Bucket List, Check!

My number one bucket list item is officially checked off: I attended my first Europe concert this past weekend. It only took twenty-five years and nearly a thousand miles of driving, but people have always told me I’m patient.

Photo by my husband.

Photo by my husband.

Yes, Europe is in America, at least for a few more days. My family and I made a road trip to the in-laws in Illinois (post about that soon) and after a few days of visiting, my husband and I left the kids with the grandparents and drove two and a half hours over to Indianapolis to catch Europe’s show at The Vogue. The venue’s neighborhood is an awesome mix of restaurants, local shops, and good vibes along the river—a great place to walk around and people watch.
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We got there early and I had fun talking (well, mostly listening) to the other diehard fans that were lined up. Listening to the stories of the blue collar Mid-west rock fans was great, and there was even a guy from down under in the group. The experience reminded me that I need to get out of my usual circle of book nerds, homeschooling moms, and church friends and expose myself to a wider variety of people more often. It’s good for the soul.
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And so was the music!
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Being third in line landed me a center stage spot when the doors opened. Before hand, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be stage right, near John Norum and his guitar skills, or stage left, next to the bass (John Levén) and keys (Mic Michaeli), but since the stage was small, I opted for center. That put me first row, in front of Ian Haugland’s drum kit and Joey Tempest’s microphone, when he wasn’t moving around with it.
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Plus, I was in the middle of the vertically challenged. But when you wait twenty-five years to see your favorite band in concert, you don’t feel bad about blocking people’s view. The show was fabulous! I’ve never gotten front row before, so that was a bonus, but I also got my first guitar pick—the leader singer/guitarist pressed into right into my hand. Thanks, Joey!
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Great sound.
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Seventeen song set list.
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Awesome band!

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show--too busy enjoying the moment.)

People need to put down their phones and watch concerts live, not through a screen. (I took less than two dozen pictures during the whole show–too busy enjoying the moment.)

Expand Your Horizons

Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month is past the halfway mark. Have you seen an increase of understanding around you? My blue hair has provided more opportunities to discuss autism with others, so I’m glad I was brave enough to try it this time.

Me, on World Autism Day.

Me, on World Autism Day.

I scrolled through some old posts and came across this one from two years ago—the then nameless Fernando has been making an appearance on the blog for that long. This is a timely find, because it talks about my two manuscripts that are now under contract for publishing in 2016, and it explains where I got my line, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” It doesn’t seem like Fernando has grown much, but it’s more than doubled in size.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando, before it was Fernando, April 2013.

Fernando today, April 2015.

Fernando today, April 2015.


Seeing these photos today reminded me of my teen on the spectrum. Just like my son, Fernando is always responding to his environment. Outside stresses, like weather, can cause disturbances to growth and adaptability, while appropriate nutrients and habitat can promote expansion. Sometimes, the rate of my son’s maturing seems laboriously slow, but if I think back to how he was two (or more) years ago, I can see how far he’s come.

Fernando can be used as a personification of my writing, as well as a symbol of human needs and growth. What can your fern do?

If you don’t have a Fernando of your own, go find one and nurture your creativity.

Corroded

Last week, on April Fool’s Day (no joke), I signed my second book contract with Anaiah Press. Fortunately, there is no video footage of my happy dance. That would be awkward, almost as uncomfortable as admitting it happened in the first place.

The “new book” is Corroded, a young adult, contemporary novel. Corroded has been a labor of love for nearly a decade (and will continue to be worked upon this year, as I go through professional edits with the publishing company). The story has seen numerous critiques, several dozen drafts, and much support from friends and family through the years. It’s fitting that it will be released during Autism Awareness Month because the dual point-of-view is shared between main characters Mary and Ben, who has high functioning autism.
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For those paying attention, that’s Fortitude on January 12 and Corroded on April 12, 2016. Both novels will be available in e-book and paper formats on their respected days.
In other words, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” Everything happens in the proper time, in the right season (sometimes after years of labor).

P.S. Ever in tune with my literary life, Fernando is flourishing.
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Global Autism

Today is one of those controversial days, this month sometimes less than joyful.

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and April is dubbed Autism Awareness Month. (Yes, April is also National Poetry and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but allow me to focus on one for a bit, please.)

There are some in the autism community that despise this month, this day especially, because they don’t agree with some of the organizations that have over-run things with their own agendas and publicity. No matter what some groups have done, this month is still be a great opportunity to share your stories—whether your own or your family’s—and bring to light the joys and frustrations of life on the autism spectrum.

Today, I’m wearing blue, and all month I’m sporting a bit of blue hair and an Autism Awareness ribbon. These visual tokens give me conversation starters to share with others about my own family’s journey, as well as direct people to great advocates on the spectrum like John Elder Robison, Dani Bowman, Erin Clemens, and A.S.P.I.E.

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Over the coming weeks, I’ll share a few more autism-related posts (including literary news you’ll want to stick around to hear.)

As for the other worthy cause, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I highly suggest reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Several different times she and her publisher helped raise money for RAINN in April. One year I donated to RAINN and Laurie, in return, donated to Autism Society of America. A win-win situation of awesomeness.

Now I’ll branch over to the National Poetry Month. Here’s a haiku I just wrote about some of the feelings one might deal with on the spectrum:

All thoughts are spinning
Mind, body, crowded senses
Breathe, wrap me in weight.

What are you passionate about this month?

Featured Book: Pride

Today I’m happy to feature a young adult book I enjoyed, Pride, which released on ebook in September, and now is available in print, too.

Pride2Pride by Rosie Somers

Seventeen-year-old Gabriella Pierce is used to taking care of herself, but she’s about to become responsible for a whole lot more. When she gets a visit from three men claiming to be defenders of fantastical rings imbued with the powers of THE CARDINAL SINS, her life is changed irrevocably.

Gabby is the steward of PRIDE

To make matters worse, she’s falling hard for fellow steward, Grant Barnett, and he hates her guts. Now Gabby has to learn to protect Pride without letting her feelings for Grant get in the way.

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Praise for the Book:

Iola’s Christian Reads: “Pride is aimed at the YA market, and is the first in a planned series (presumably one for each of the seven deadly sins). It incorporates elements of other well-known YA series such as Harry Potter and Divergent, (an orphan who is the ‘chosen one’ fighting the forces of evil). It has that fast pace and addictive quality which makes it hard to put down.”

“…it was thrilling enough to grab my attention and I can’t wait to continue Gabby’s story in the next installment. Rosie Somers has made it to my Author’s to watch for list!”

 

Excerpt

Copyright © Rosie Somers

Gabby

The man didn’t make a sound. He stood stock still for the span of one sharp, inhaled breath, then he crumpled to the floor. After assuring herself there was no one behind him, Gabby flipped her flashlight on and knelt to give the unconscious heap at her feet her full attention. Oh God, she’d killed him. She just knew it.

Save for green streaks coursing through his thick, black hair, and a spot of blood near his temple, there wasn’t any color on him. His clothes were black, his skin winter-pale. Everything about his appearance was smooth, lean, handsome—no feature out of place. Full lips, chiseled jaw, and strikingly thick eyelashes. He was pretty, for a boy. It all fit, even the green hair. And he was still breathing. She wasn’t a murderer.

Suddenly, a strong hand gripped her forearm, and the heavy flashlight was ripped from her grasp. Wrenching free from the iron grip, she tried to turn around as she stood. Instead, she fell backward over Pretty Boy, landing hard on her butt with her legs draped over his torso.

Gabby scrambled to her feet. The moment she was steady, she broke into a run, but only made it as far as the back door before arms like steel bands wrapped around her from behind, pinning her to a rock-solid chest. She couldn’t breathe.

“We’re not here to hurt you, Gabriella,” a deep voice murmured into her ear. As if to prove the honesty of his words, the man relaxed his hold just enough for her to breathe normally.

“Yeah, right.” And her foster dad had only wanted to give her a kiss goodnight—with his tongue. Gabby knew what men were like, and she was not about to be fooled by this one. “How do you know my name?”

“It’s a long story, but we’ve been lookin’ for ya for some time now.” He had an Irish accent.

“Who are you?”

He turned their bodies back toward the unconscious man across the room. Now another guy stood over Pretty Boy. He wasseveral years older, thirty maybe. His pale blond hair was short and, even from across the room, it was clear he was much taller than her.

As Vice Guy half-carried her to the other men, a muffled moan floated up to meet them, and the guy on the floor took great care disentangling lanky limbs to pull himself to a kneeling position. He rubbed the side of his head with one hand while he used the other to brace himself against the wall. The look Pretty Boy raked over Gabby as he got up made her cringe.

The guy still holding her spoke. “If I let ya go, will ya promise not to run? We’re not goin’ to hurt ya. We’re here because we need your help.”

She believed him. Maybe because, even though she’d just clobbered his friend, he hadn’t hurt her. She nodded and was immediately released.

She turned, but the guy behind her wasn’t the giant with superhuman strength she’d imagined. Her captor was probably only a couple of years older than her, with dark auburn hair and a hint of a dimple on his right cheek. Despite the seriousness of the situation, his bright blue eyes sparkled with interest, and the corners of his lips were turned up in an amused smile.

He didn’t take his gaze off her, even when he took several steps away. Instead, he stood arms crossed, feet planted apart. Poised to give chase if she fled. Running had crossed her mind, but something compelled her to stay at least long enough to hear what they had to say.

“Well …?” She prompted with a wave of her hand that clearly said, get on with it.

The blond man cleared his throat. “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Andrew. This is Lucas.” He motioned toward the man who’d grabbed her, then to the one she’d knocked out. “And Grant.”

Grant’s eyes were narrowed. She shifted under his scrutiny and diverted her gaze.

Andrew whispered something in his ear, and Grant looked down at his feet. Andrew continued, “We need to go.”

They were there to abduct her. At the realization, panic rose in Gabby’s chest, choking her breath into shallow threads. She threw her hands up defensively and backed away with slow, shaky steps. “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

Andrew sighed. “You may not want to now, but you will when you find out why.”

“Then tell me.”

He checked his watch, then squared his shoulders in determination. “Have you ever heard of the seven deadly sins?”

Gabby snorted. “Who hasn’t?”

“I assume you don’t realize how serious they are. We’ve spent our lives protecting humanity from the temptations and you laugh at the mention of them?” Grant’s voice was deep and forceful.

He looked as though he would have continued scolding her, but Lucas uttered a soft “Dude” and shook his head. Grant snapped his mouth shut and raised a hand to rub the back of his neck.

Lucas picked up where Andrew left off. “Do ya know much abou’ the history of the sins?”

She’d only ever heard an Irish brogue on TV. His lilting tone was soothing.

He raised an eyebrow.

Oh, he’d asked a question. What was it? Ah yes, history of the sins. Gabby shook her head.

“In the latter half of the fourth century, a monk fled Constantinople to a small monastery in Egypt. There, he penned a list of eight sins which he referred to as the Temptations of Man: Pride, Avarice, Acedia, Gluttony, Impurity, Anger, Sadness, and Vainglory.”

He took a few steps back and leaned against the wall, then continued, “For two centuries, almost all of those not involved with that particular monastery thought the list of Temptations was nothing more than the opinion of one monk, a suggestion of how to lead a good Christian life. Then, sometime around five-ninety A.D., Pope Gregory the First came across a collection of rings tha’ had been housed by this monastic order in utter secrecy. They considered them so powerful only the handler was permitted near them, just one specific monk who devoted his life to ensurin’ no one else came into contact with the Temptations.”

“Listen guys, much as I appreciate the history lesson, I’ve got work in …”she made a show of checking her non-existent watch, “a few hours, so I really hope you’re getting to a point.” This earned her a leveling glare from Grant.

“Pope Gregory had the rings studied and discovered they were in fact imbued with special properties. It seemed they had the power to influence people toward certain … well … temptations,” Andrew replied.

What asylum had these guys broken out of? Did they actually believe this nonsense they were spouting? “Seriously, jewelry that makes people sin? Right.” Gabby moved to her bag and gathered her clothing, making sure to keep the men in her line of sight.

Lucas reached into his shirt and pulled out a chain. He slipped it free of his neck and dangled it from the tips of two fingers. Swinging like a pendulum at the bottom of that chain was a brilliant, red ring.

“What is that?” She already knew the answer.

Lucas took several slow steps in her direction and extended his arm toward her. She clenched her fists and bit down on her tongue to keep from yelling at the men. How dare they sneak into her makeshift home, intruding into her life, practically scaring her to death. Now, they were feeding her this absurd story about sin-possessed rings and crazy monks.

The closer he got, her anger went from muted seething to barely-contained rage. The more she thought about it, the more she wished she was still in possession of her Maglite so she could hit him with it, and maybe again after that. When Lucas was little more than five feet from her, he winked and reversed direction. With each step he took away from her, the violent feelings receded.

“Anger,” Gabby answered her own question.

“Anger,” Andrew affirmed. “Lucas is the steward. I’m the steward of Pride, Grant of Envy.”

Grant’s eyes narrowed at her, while Andrew pulled a matching chain from beneath his own T-shirt and let the attached orange ring fall to rest against his chest. Something about Andrew’s ring was different though. Sure, power emanated from it, too, but she wasn’t experiencing pride. This power was different. It tingled—almost like static electricity.

After slipping the chain back over his head and tucking it under his neckline, Lucas picked up his story from where he’d left off. “Each of the rings has the ability to influence people toward a particular sin. Pope Gregory discovered which ones led to which temptation and labeled them accordingly. As a result, the original list of temptations was amended. It came to be known as the seven deadly sins.”

That was why the list Lucas spouted earlier didn’t sound right.

“The rings didn’t create the sins, of course. They just have the power to promote that particular feeling or action. Each sin has two rings and two custodians.” Lucas was matter-of-fact.

“What, like a janitor?”

He shook his head, but didn’t otherwise acknowledge her interruption. “The stewards are bound to their particular ring, can sense it, can control its influence over others.”

“How come I’ve never heard of these … stewards?”

“We exist in secret. If the world knew about us and the sins, all hell would break loose. We are not equipped to deal with that,” Grant answered in a tone that clearly said she should already know the answer.

“I still don’t understand what any of this has to do with me.” Were they ever going to get to the point?

Lucas took a tentative step toward her. “You’re the other steward of Pride, Gabriella.”

 

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Author Rosie Somers

Rosie Somers is a YA author who lives in Florida, soaking up the year round sunshine. She can often be found in her favourite spot on her favourite beach, nose-deep in a good book.

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