Some current thoughts on animal shelters…

I just need to get these thoughts out of my head. I need this conversation to keep going.

Lately, my veganism has been so caught up in the animals we eat that my agenda has neglected what happens to those we don’t. I was reminded, however, about how even THAT is an uphill battle when this post started circulating on facebook. It is Oklahoman pro-kill apologetics, if you don’t want to read the whole thing. It mentions Nathan Winograd, who founded the No Kill Advocacy center. However, it talks about Winograd as if his type of no-kill is the only kind (side note: it’s not). Many who are anti-no-kill seem to think all no-kill advocates believe that overpopulation is a myth (as Winograd does). It’s tiring even when you try to address what “overpopulation” means; it means different things to different people. Even now we can’t get humans to agree that the world is overpopulated with humans or not. Just try to get them define that for other species.

But talking about overpopulation isn’t my concern with Winograd. It is has been how breeders, like in the American Kennel Club, have used the “overpopulation myth” (true or not, I don’t think it’s worth arguing about. You shouldn’t breed animals for countless other reasons too) to justify their practices of eugenics and rape. If there’s no overpopulation, then leave breeders alone! Let me sell these puppies! There’s plenty of homes!

What’s also funny is the same pro-kill advocates who play devil’s advocate and nit-pick that “What you’re talking about isn’t no-kill it’s low-kill” and blame people for not spaying and neutering their animals also align themselves with PETA. I guess it’s not that funny, but it just seems to be a non-vegan group siding with a vegan group. It seems surreal. My assumptions, here, are that pro-kill advocates cannot be vegan. Surely not. Right?

This is what makes me want to hyperventilate into a paper bag. It’s so convoluted. It’s so hard to even talk about.

Beyond “overpopulation,” we can’t even agree on what “suffering” means for animals, what “euthanasia” means, or what “no-kill” means. But what I think we can agree on is the thinking behind no-kill vs. pro-kill. No kill wants no healthy animal to be killed and, at the least, wants less killing. Pro-kill allows for killing of all kinds to continue without really changing the systems in place.

I also struggle with how, when no-kill advocates are criticized, it is through a focus on how the shelter workers are “just doing the best that they can” and it’s the irresponsible pet owners’ faults that they have to murder animals. Never mind that animals have a right to life beyond who “owns” them. YesBiscuit! summed it up best for me:

I don’t care if the owner was on crack and punching baby pandas in the face when he lost his intact, unvaccinated, unmicrochipped pet from his unfenced yard and didn’t sober up enough to look for him for 2 weeks.  And when he finally staggered into the shelter, he was holding a neon sign that said KILL MY PET! and announced he was willing to sign any waiver the shelter had for him so long as they killed his animal.  Because even if – IF<—-get this! IF the owner is a total jerk who doesn’t deserve to have a pet, that’s for a court to decide and has absolutely no bearing on whether the animal has a right to live or whether shelter directors must do their jobs to protect animals from harm.

Killing healthy/treatable shelter animals is never, ever, under any circumstances, the fault of anyone but the people killing the animals.

I don’t like victim blaming.  Pet owners, along with their animals who were needlessly killed at shelters, are victims.  I put up with it on this blog to some extent in order to educate and hopefully change wrong thinking.  But if you’re new here and just popped up to blame the victim and defend people who kill shelter animals, don’t take your coat off.

Just doing their job is the same excuse Nazis gave, which makes it hard for me to digest. Yet calling them Nazis is met with human-centered reproaches: “How dare you belittle the suffering of holocaust victims by comparing them to animals.”

…That is exactly what they WERE compared to (rats) and what allowed the holocaust to happen in the first place (ie treating them like animals). They can’t see that it’s intersectional.

It reminds me of the debate over the term ‘Holocaust’, with Zionists claiming that Armenians don’t have a right to use the term, that they appropriated it, that the Holocaust is essentially Jewish-only — and also denying the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust (LGTB, Communists, socialists, some Catholics) the fact that they too were victims of the Nazis.

A lot of these “no-kill” issues seem like old conversation that dates back more than five years. But it keeps popping back up. This hasn’t been resolved.

Yet there I was, not thinking about it. Thinking that I had bigger issues. Part of what eats at me is that when we kill to eat an animal at least we are eating the animal. What does the dead cat or dog do for anyone other than create a vacuum effect similar to the one explained by Alley Cat Allies? It’s similar, right? An endless cycle of killing.

I don’t have the answers. But I do know that if we can’t even agree on language on the shelter system (even the term “shelter” itself is misleading), then maybe it’s the building itself that needs to go. A few years ago I wrote an opinion piece for the Dodo that called for us to think about that very thing. In the age of Facebook lost and found pages, do we even need shelters to help reunite pets and people like we once did? I’m a socialist. I believe in the power of community. Capitalism makes animals disposable. If we continue to keep what is done in shelters behind walls, is it not like out of sight, out of mind?  I don’t know if this conversation encompasses rescues, as those can be done out of people’s homes. The world didn’t always have shelters…

I wrote that piece at a time when I no longer saw the value of a shelter and my thoughts weren’t fully formed. I still don’t see the value and my thoughts are still forming.

I am still left grappling with the question that, if we can’t even save the animals we don’t eat, how can we save the ones we do?

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Book Review: The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson is not worth your time or money

This book was not finely-tuned.

Pun intended.

I started skimming to the end just to make sure there wasn’t something that could redeem it. And there wasn’t. I’m only giving this 1 Goodreads star because it was only an interesting idea. It just doesn’t go anywhere. It also didn’t come from anywhere, honestly. The history of the automata (or, excuse me, avtomat) in this book are so vague that you are left just as confused as when you started. The action is a bit forced and melodramatic as well. Everything is so conveniently contrived that it makes you roll your eyes.

This book confirms that I am not a fan of Wilson. He doesn’t seem to know how to craft a story. He only has concepts. Not even his PhD in robotics can pass his robots off as believable. He throws in alchemy as a deus ex machina at times. Even the concept behind such “magic” isn’t full-fledged and comes off as an awkward attempt at sense-making. I also don’t understand what the emperors had to do with anything — why the automata felt compelled to serve them. Nothing makes sense.

Neither did the absurd importance on the “Word” written on their souls that turns out to mean…nothing?  Neither did the poorly-inserted throwbacks to Greek Mythology — mentions of Daedalus and the avtomat named Talus who was possibly a reference to the Greek monster Talos? Neither did the setting in 1700s Russia make sense when Peter the Great historically had nothing to do with automata but Charles V of Spain did.

I honestly don’t understand these choices, my dude, when you had a lot of options to work with. You seem to be pulling things out of nowhere. Not enough thought went into this.

If you are thinking of reading this book because of the automata/antique robots, there are better books. Books that make more sense: Infernal Devices (by the author who INVENTED steampunk), The Invention of Hugo Cabret, The Automation (which got a better view from Publishers Weekly than Clockwork did), or even the classic The Clockwork Man for starters. All of those are recommended over this word vomit.

Other Goodreads reviews I agree with:

I usually don’t write reviews, but I had to speak up on this blatant rip off of Interview with a Vampire by Ann Rice. The names and locations have been changed, but the Peter and Elena story is strikingly similar to Louis and Claudia. A little too close – so much for original material. The robotic angle was interesting, but the writing was just not there.

 

She’s obsessive, dull, and brave for no real reason. And because of the flashbacks, we rarely see June even though she is the narrator and main character. It seems that June functions to give the story an intriguing beginning and as a way to solve the problems that the avtomats can’t fix. She has no real personality or quirks (besides a strange and too-convenient expertise in working with clockwork people). This book could have been so much more interesting if June had been a better character.

 

And I’m still hacked off at Hypatia being ‘Virtue’-one of the first known female mathematicians and last pagan librarians of the library of Alexandria celebrated for her ‘virtue’ of avoiding male company rather than her freaking brilliance… And the women as damsels and villains. 

This is how I’m crumbling

Rome wasn’t built in a day
They say
Take your time, don’t rush
They hush
Forgetting how Rome fell
I tell
So easily torn down
I frown
What’s the point of work at all
We bawl
Why sweep up the endless rubble?
We grumble
What else is there to do?
You coo
If not building and rebuilding then what?
You spat
So I no longer hurry to the task of civilization

Author Interview: Jacey K. Dew

Today I’d like to introduce indie author Jacey K. Dew and their book Dezirah.

Who are you?! What are your credentials? Where are you from?

My name is Jacey K Dew. I’m from Parkland County, Alberta. I’m an indie author with four books published.

What book(s) have you written?

Dezirah Volume 1, Dezirah Volume 2, Dezirah Volume 3, and Blood Mountain.

What is the title of your most recent book and how did it come to be named?

Dezirah Volume 3, which will be launching March 15th, found its name after I had finished the first character’s point of view. I ran through a number of names before I finally settled on making up a new word. The word formed as a twist on the word desire, to symbolize the revolutionist’s desire for a new world order.

What does the cover look like? 

Title in levels at the top with the Dezirah revolution symbol taking up the bottom half of the cover. Paint on concrete style.

Describe the book in 5 words.

Supernatural, revolution, magic, survival, dystopia

What genre(s) do you think it fits into or breaks?

General fantasy

What’s the synopsis for the book?

Spring thaws the snow and awakens all that lies dormant. Movement returns to the frozen North. The revolution is onto its next phase. Alexa is sent to find a gift Darius left her. Nikki wishes to find her family. Jaiden knows through her visions that the calm will not last. A rebellion emerges.

What is one thing you want readers to know about this book that the official synopsis doesn’t cover?

Crisis can bring all sorts out of people. People do things they otherwise would never, while others can be their true selves.

Where can we buy the book?

It will be available at Chapters, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, all major eBook shops, and Amazon worldwide.

Where did your main sources of inspiration come from for this story?

Countless horror movies, fantasy books, and fantasy movies. I started writing it in high school as an outlet after my mom passed away.

Who is the book dedicated to and why?

I have varied people I thank through the eBooks. Most in a generalized sense, and thanking everyone who puts up with me. But, it’s mostly a dedication to me. It’s a story that I would like to read, so I’ve written it.

What three other books would you use to describe your book?

There would only be single parallels which I could draw.  Like, Harry Potter, because I have magic in the books, but it’s nothing like Harry Potter.

Why is indie publishing important to you and why do you think it is important to our culture?

Indie publishing, to me means complete control. It’s the author having 100% say in the entire book.  From plot, to writing style, to cover artwork. There are less commercial rules to follow. You are publishing because this is what you love to do, not because you’ve written the next regurgitated piece that readers can swear they’ve read a thousand times. You can take risks that a traditional publishing company may not be willing to take.

If you could choose one ideal reader – no matter who – to read your book, who would it be and why?

A fantasy loving reader interested in fast plot, and the unexpected.

If your book was an animal, what would it be and why?

A chameleon, because the series is constantly evolving and changing.

What is your favorite sentence from the book?

There isn’t a favourite sentence, but I do have a favourite portion. Would be too long to post here, but Dominique writes letters to her parents. I cried while writing the letters.

If you were to collaborate with another writer, who would they be and why?

I don’t know. I don’t think I would. I’m a bit of a control freak, and would likely try to take over the entire project.

What books do you think the world needs to read more of and why?

The world in general could use a little more reading in any type of learning departments. How To books, Encyclopedias, science texts…

What does diversity in publishing mean to you?

Points of view. Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone sees the world differently. Bad things tend to happen when the world is an echo chamber with one type of view.

How have libraries affected your writing?

Other than I went to the library as a kid, it hasn’t.

What do you see as problems that need to be fixed in the traditional publishing model?

They have rigid guidelines to what they think is publish material creating a lack of diverse pieces causing generally predictable plots. It would be nice to hear back from every place you inquire at; even just a ‘No thanks.’ More of the profit going to the author.

What is the best piece of advice you got from another writer?

“Write what you know.” Ms. Howsen, my Grade 12 English teacher.

What indie authors have influenced you and how?

I’m guilty as an author and general busy person, that I don’t actually take the time to read much.  When I do, it’s usually whatever book is really popular at the moment. Ex. Hunger Games.

Is the Amazon publishing model scary to you in any way?

I don’t know too much about it, but from what I hear, it could be bad for authors. Essentially, monopolising where your books go by requiring it to be exclusive to them. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just another option out there without the exclusivity.

What is something you learned about writing when writing your most recent book?

The love/hate relationship people have with cycling views. That’s how DV2 and DV3 are written. I don’t mind it and some others I’ve talked to don’t mind it or don’t mind how mine is written. But, I’ve had some people come back saying they hate figuring out who’s head they are in and would prefer one character’s point of view.

What are some ways you think gatekeepers in publishing (literary agents, librarians, book bloggers) can help indie authors gain discoverability?

It’s all about visibility. Indie authors don’t have much more then friends and family vouching for them when they are starting out. Gatekeepers of the industry have access to readers that the indie author may not have been able to gain the attention of.

What is the book you wish you had written?

Harry Potter. JK Rowling created a wonderful world.

The last book that made you laugh? Cry?

My own, Dezirah Volume 3. Plugging my own, because I’ve just finished writing it and going through the editing stage. It’s the last, and the last twenty books I’ve read back to back. At this point, I’m not sure what year we’re in, and what the last book (not my own) I read was.

The thing you’ve written that makes you cringe?

Hypocrites- the entire book. I wrote it in a month and was angry at the world. I’m redoing it as my next book, but the whole thing needs a major overhaul.

What is your favorite online resource as an author?

Google. I go Google crazy some days, and I’m sure there is a government agent that watches my searches while shaking their head.

How do you feel about authors giving their work away for free?

It depends on the type of free. Free as a promotion or the first book to a series or a short story; free with a purpose is fine with me. But I shake my head when everything an author does is given away for free. That’s when you know it is a hobby for them, and that’s great, but it also drives down prices and gives readers a sense of entitlement to free. Authors that try to make a living off their work, have a hard time when their royalty is already pennies to a couple dollars per piece sold, and  readers wish for everything to be free.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Girl Who Owned A City by OT Nelson

What are the books you’ve read more than once?

My own, a thousand times; part of being an author…

I mean, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Not the whole series, just the first book. I’ve read it a few times.

The book people might be surprised to learn you love?

Twilight. I haven’t read it since I was an angsty teenager back when it came out. I’m sure my answer might change if I had to reread it, but I loved it at the time.

What music do you write to or find inspiration in?

Nursery Rhymes and Disney songs, but not by choice. I have a toddler.

What roadblocks did you encounter when publishing your work?

There was a lack of clear knowledge out there for a process. I had to figure it out on my own. I made some costly mistakes.

What TV show are you watching now?

Van Helsing on Netflix. Great series. Vampire dystopian world.

Cat or dog or both person?

Cat person. I like certain dogs, but I’m generally scared of them. I had a grumpy demon dog growing up that bit me and all my friends.

Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz – and why?

Alice in Wonderland because it’s wacky and creative.

Coffee or tea or both person?

Tea. Coffee is disgusting.

Print book or ebook or both person?

Print book. I prefer a physical book and turning the pages. However, I’ve also done my fair share of ebook reading because it’s light and convenient. So, both.

How do you see book culture changing, other than the ways it already has, because of ebooks?

Heavier ebook purchasing. They are cheaper, and don’t take up room on a shelf. As people are having more minimalist lifestyles, and less of a budget, I see print books being a luxury item rather than a preference.

How do you see book culture changing, if at all, because of indie publishing?

I see indie publishing growing to be as big as traditional publishing. Then, traditional publishers may be forced to change and adapt to what the general reading audience wants, rather than what stereotypical avid readers in the trial group and the big boss want.

What is one cause or charity you support and want to give a shout-out to?

“Little Warriors is a national, charitable organization based in Canada committed to the awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse.”http://littlewarriors.ca/

What is your biggest grammatical struggle to overcome in your writing, or what is your most common typo?

Commas. Can we just all agree that no one can agree, on where commas should go?

Where can we stalk you? (What are the links to your social media platforms and blog?)

Blog: www.jaceykdew.ca

Twitter: @JaceyKDew https://twitter.com/JaceyKDew

Instagram: jaceykdew  https://www.instagram.com/jaceykdew/

Tumblr: jaceykdew  https://www.tumblr.com/blog/jaceykdew

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JaceyKDew/

Thank you for taking the time to tell us about yourself and your upcoming book, Jacey!

 

Sponsored content. Learn more about my author interviews here.

TBR: Running from Color by Morenikè

Opening in the 1920s in Sugarlock, Tennessee, the scandal surrounding the birth of Wheat Grass destroys the marriage and family unit built by Paul and Mildred Grass. Wheat’s fair skin and green eyes cause a rift that leads to the death of her mother. Paul steps up and takes in his wife’s illegitimate child to raise with his daughter, Olive, in his hometown. But Wheat’s exotic look draws unnecessary attention that Paul cannot single handily fight off in the racist South which eventually leads to his demise.

After the death of both of her parents, Olive blames her baby sister for ruining her life and she eventually finds herself running from color and settling in Chicago; leaving their grandmother, Deary, to raise Wheat alone. But when Wheat’s existence once more causes tension in the small community of Sugarlock, Wheat must run from color herself and the only place of safety she can find is in Chicago with her estranged sister.

Once there, Wheat faces much opposition from her sister but Olive begrudgingly takes her in. In Chicago, Wheat learns that Olive hates her for circumstances she could never control and that Olive herself has succumbed to society’s color line while living in Chicago. Will these sisters put aside their physical differences to tackle the hurt caused by their past and the danger that lies ahead? Or will they run from color once more?

Running from Color tells an unapologetic story about what it means to be on opposing shades of the chocolate rainbow; a story that belongs to many but has been silenced in the African American community for years.

Slightly off topic: I found out that Halsey is biracial and my brain glitched.  I started reading up on “passing as white” and I just…  Some of the commentary reads like a lot of conversation about Native Americans — how sometimes registered members can “pass” as white and are looked down upon by their tribe or if they aren’t registered with a tribe they aren’t “Native American enough.” There’s no winning.

I find it all sad yet such an important conversation to be had.

See more on Goodreads. 

TBR: State of Emergency by Mary Hallberg

17-year-old Dallas Langdon is fighting off zombies with a pizza cutter.

Dallas has always loved zombie movies. But when she catches a real live (erm, dead) musician eating a man’s intestines backstage after the show, she knows her movies have become a reality. And what do characters in zombie movies do? Seek shelter. Fortunately, Dallas’s eccentric uncle owns a farmhouse in Chattanooga, an eight hour drive from New Orleans. It’s on top of a steep mountain, surrounded by electric fences, and cut off from the worlds of the living and the dead.

Dallas’s parents, still safe at home, laugh at her idea over the phone. Her friends only agree to join her because it’s fall break and they could use a mini vacation anyway.

But then Dallas’s best friend is killed by a zombie horde when they’re attracted to her ringing cell phone. Civilians think their reanimated loved ones simply have the flu, leaving them alive (well, undead) and rapidly increasing the zombies ranks. And since minors can’t buy guns, Dallas’s only weapon is a giant industrial pizza cutter she swipes from a gas station. George A. Romero never mentioned anything like this. With one friend dead and no zombie survival guides to help her, Dallas and her friends must get to Chattanooga before joining the ranks of the undead themselves.

I want to read to see what she does with the pizza cutter.

View more on Goodreads. 

Book Review: Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland

Gonna admit, this was disappointing.

This probably comes from the fact it was so hyped and it is ten years old now. This came out the year I graduated high school, so the newer Batman movies kind of ruined the vibe that I’m sure was fresh when it came out.

Plus, the storyline had been spoiled for me in this video (which I highly recommend):

Thus, I recommend just watching this video if you can’t find the book in your library. Or, if you’re a collector, then this is classic stuff that needs to be on your shelf. But if you’re a collector then you likely have it already and I’m behind the times.

Also of note: it’s only about 40-something pages.

TBR: Sir Blunder: A Bedtime Story for Big People by Walter Kerr

In this witty fairy tale told in a wry, grandfatherly voice, a village waif, unwanted and alone, grows up to become the greatest knight of the era. With the help of the clever and strong-willed Princess Otello, the steadfast Sir One-Eye, and the rascally trickster Pee-Pee the Peeper, Sir Blunder sets out to slay the dragon who lurks in the woods.

Originally told as a fairy tale for his young children, Walter Kerr transformed it over the course of 20 years into a witty and profound novel for young adults about securing the good in a cruel world.

With a large cast of supporting characters, including Johnny Ne’er-Do-Well, Father Opportunity, Speedy Lightfingers, King Four-Four, and King Smart, this surprising and at times hilarious novel highlights the challenges of remaining true to yourself – always a good idea unless what you truly are needs to be changed.

**Note: This is not a novel for children. Some scenes may be too intense for young readers.** This humorous medieval fantasy is recommended for young adults and adults.

This sounds very Princess Bride-y, which I like a lot.

View it on Goodreads. 

TBR: Once Upon A Time A Sparrow by Mary Avery Kabrich

Once Upon a Time a Sparrow is an autobiographically inspired novel about a woman’s journey toward accepting a less than perfect past. Structurally the story is told through the narrative voices of forty-seven-year-old Mary Madelyn Meyers (spring of ’05) and nine-year-old “Maddie” (spring of ’67). Though thirty-eight years separate these two points in time, a child’s old coat with an acorn in the pocket reunites Mary with the long-forgotten Maddie.

Mary’s mother has died unexpectedly. When Mary opens the Lane hope chest at the foot of her mother’s bed, she makes a surprising discovery: her mother kept the black hooded coat she herself had worn every day in third grade, regardless of the weather. This reunion sets in motion a stream of memories that demand Mary’s attention. When she returns to her job as a school psychologist, Mary can no longer maintain her usual dispassionate manner while addressing the needs of children with learning challenges.

Rural Minnesota in 1967 had no understanding of dyslexia, a disorder that makes reading an unfathomable skill for nine-year-old Maddie. After praying to St. Rita, patron saint of lost causes, every night for a year, Maddie decides in third grade that reading really is a lost cause. But when her teacher reads a captivating story about a fairy who helps a boy her age overcome his limitations, Maddie jeopardizes her plan to be a nun and steals the book for herself. Her first discovery: Fairy Yram’s name is her own first name, Mary, spelled backwards. Armed with this revelation, Maddie uses her limited reading skills and her expansive imagination to unlock the true meaning this story holds for her own life. Maddie transforms despite the adults in her world who can see only her disability.

Having overcompensated for her early struggles with learning to read, Dr. Mary Meyers had effectively sealed off all memory of where she came from. In the spring of ’05, she learns that the only way to move forward with her life is through complete acceptance of herself, past and present.

This is getting some good reviews on Goodreads. Seems to be of interest to teachers.

TBR: These Lies That Live Between Us (What Words Have Torn Apart, #1) by Kai Raine

“Good-bye, and good riddance,” were the last words that Gwen’s twin ever said to her.

But there is no time to grieve. An enemy army has revived a forbidden magic. They’ve invaded a neighboring country, and Gwen’s kingdom will be next. Her only hope of salvation is a legend, so she sets out to find it.

The magic has many names, and many believe they know what it is—but Gwen begins to see that most are mistaken. At last it is the wind itself that forces her to make a choice: accept the forbidden magic and learn it, or die.

Unbeknownst to Gwen, her departure in the night sets a chain of events into motion back home, where her dwindling family turns against one another. As the royal family reveals its internal divide, the opposing factions pounce.

These Lies That Live Between Us is the start of a fantasy epic about family, adventure, love, loss and the ever-changing interpretation of history long gone.

So, Gwen is one of my favorite names and I just need to say that.

Read more on Goodreads.