Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Gay Community and the Church

I haven't stirred anyone up about questions of religion and faith lately. Maybe it's time. The occasion is a sermon I just listened to online, called "Homosexuality and Churchgoing," (direct mp3 link here, found on this page) by Dave Schmelzer of the Boston Vineyard. Normally I would have heard it in person, but I was away that Sunday. Dave says that as a pastor at a large, urban church, the most common question he is asked is, What's your church's position on gay and lesbian issues?  His standard answer is, "We don't take a position, but we'd love to have a conversation." And he means it.

In this talk, he takes the unusual approach (for a pastor who I think would characterize himself as evangelical) of saying, Maybe the most important question here isn't what we think the Bible says specifically about homosexuality (interpretations vary widely), but rather how can we talk to each other about these things, and listen to each others' stories in a helpful and respectful way. He talks a lot about a "centered set" perspective on faith generally: not the you're in or you're out view of what we could call "bounded set" thinking, but rather, What is the common center toward which we are all striving to move? If you're looking for a church position on GLBT issues, you won't find him taking one here. But if you'd like to hear a pastor thinking outside the customary evangelical box, you might find it interesting. He also writes on the subject, and here's one of his posts on centered set thinking.

Dave has an earlier talk online in which, addressing a large group of church leaders, he more specifically looks at what the Bible's take is on the question of homosexuality. Again, he's not there to try to lay down prescriptions or doctrines, even among leadership types. Instead, I think he does a creditable job of putting the various views on the subject into perspective, with a bottom line of: Talk to each other. And listen. (Here's a direct link to the talk, but it's found on this page under "Are You [meaning, your church] Gay Friendly?")

Provocative stuff, in a good way.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Enough with the Spinning, Already!

As a private pilot, before I ran out of money for flying, I always wished that I could take aerobatic training and learn to spin an airplane. I never got to do that, but maybe this is the next best thing. (Not.) I recently got my annual inspection—not from the airplane mechanic, but from my doctor—and since I'm over sixty, he recommended that I get the shingles vaccination, Zostavax. So I did.

The only thing is, I woke up the next day with the whirlies, and felt lightheaded and dizzy all day. I went back to the docs, and was told, yeah, that's a known side effect. You might not find it in the usual online references, but in the sources that medical professionals use, it's clearly cited. Okay, I thought. I wish they'd told me beforehand, but still, it's better than getting shingles.

I still think that. But it's been a week now, and I continue to have occasional brief bouts of spinning if I move my head too fast. It's getting better. But I'm pretty ready for it to end. I'd really rather do it in an airplane.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Other Author Blogs of Note

I've mentioned before that I'm active in a group of writers who, like me, are promoting their formerly published backlist books as ebooks. Our group is called Backlist Ebooks. Many of the members blog from time to time on the subject, and I thought you might like to check out some of their blogs. They work in a variety of genres. Here's a starter list:

Doranna Durgin
Gerald M. Weinberg
Marsha Canham
Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Jill Metcalf
Terry Odell
Maryann Miller
Patricia Rice
Pati Nagle
Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett
Karen Ranney

There are lots more authors listed on the main Backlist Ebooks webite. More authors are joining all the time, so keep checking back.

Labels: ,

Friday, February 18, 2011

Boskone 2011 Weekend

This weekend I'll be at the annual SF convention Boskone, on Boston's waterfront. This is one of my regulars, partly because I like it, and partly because I can commute to it. This evening I'll be on two panels: one on domestic robots, and one on workshopping fiction. Tomorrow I autograph and sell books and have a "literary beer," which is a chance to hang out with anyone who signs up to hang out with me. Sunday I'm on a panel about ebooks, and one about great, memorable deaths in science fiction and fantasy. You can see the whole Boskone schedule at

If you're there, please look me up! It's at the Westin Hotel next to the convention center and Word Trade Center. (And one of these days, I'll start remembering to post these things ahead of time.)

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine's Day at the Starrigger Ranch

Who says kids are ingrates? I never did, but if I had, I'd have been wrong. (Well, okay, maybe I said it once, on a bad day, but I'm sure I didn't mean it.) My kids and our house guest Talula proved it this past Valentine's Day—or, as they like to call it, Singles Awareness Day.

My wife Allysen and I were warned: Don't make any plans for Valentine's Day. And be ready to dress up in your nicest clothes. Yes, Dad, that means a jacket and tie, don't even think about arguing, and be ready by 7. Okay, we said, figuring they must be hijacking us to a restaurant, which seemed awfully sweet. But as 7 approached, we were cast out of the kitchen, and finally told to go in our room to dress and don't come out. Meanwhile, Julia scurried around setting up something in the dining room, and Alexandra and Talula furiously cooked.

Then came a knock on the door. Alexandra stuck her head in, said, "Count to ten, then come out. We'll be back at midnight." She was just slipping out the door as we emerged. And our jaws dropped. We strolled out in our finery to a dining table set with white tablecloth, soft candlelight, dragon glasses filled with a nice red wine, classical music on the stereo, and an amazing dinner on the table. A tomato, mushroom, and squash soup with crisped fried rice. Delicious baked or fried, spicy cakes made from ricotta and egg and parmesan—and no, I don't know what they were called, but they were served on a bed of spinach greens, and they were fantastic. Afterward, we decided to make some Irish coffee. We didn't have Irish whiskey, so we used Scotch. We didn't have whipped cream, so we used vanilla ice cream. (We did have decaf coffee.) It was wonderful. And the house to ourselves until midnight.

I'm here to tell you, our girls (and I include Talula even if she isn't technically ours) are wonderful. Thanks, guys, for the best Valentine's Day ever!


Thursday, February 03, 2011

Surprise Peace Offering to Authors from Amazon and Macmillan

Many of you will remember the Amazon Buy-Button Removal War of one year ago, in which Amazon decided—in a dispute over new ebook contract terms—to blast Macmillan US by taking down all of their books, paper and e, from their catalogue. I was one of thousands of writers affected, and the memory still stings.

Well, according to this post at, Macmillan and Amazon have jointly decided to make reparations to authors for their estimated losses on ebook sales during that week. I don't know how they're calculating the estimate; I haven't gotten my royalty statements yet. But I do appreciate the gesture. (Realistically, I don't expect it to make much difference to me, as the reparations were only for the loss of Kindle-book sales, and where I think I got whacked the most was in my newly released paperback of Sunborn. Still, it's a gesture they didn't have to make.) Further, in the letter to authors reportedly enclosed with forthcoming royalty statements, Macmillan's Sargent offers to amend ebook royalty rates to its authors to the somewhat higher, now-semistandard rate of 25% of net receipts. (That's still not quite where they should be, in the opinion of many, but it's a clear step in the right direction, and I'm pleased to see it come as a willing offer from publisher to author.)

Change of topic, but still on publishing and books: a reader helpfully pointed me toward this fascinating blog series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, called The Business Rusch. (This link will kind of put you in the middle, but she has some links in the article to good places to start, depending on your interests.) A must-read for authors!

Labels: , ,