Monday, March 18, 2019

A to Z Blogging Challenge: Theme Reveal

Is it already almost April? This year is zooming by!

April, among other things, is the A to Z blogging challenge, which asks bloggers to post 26 entries in April (one for each day, minus Sundays) corresponding to the letters of the alphabet. This is the most fun, in my opinion, when people choose a theme to explore.

In past years, I've done:

2018: Poetry! posts about some of my favorite poets.
2017: Places in my Heart
2016: Superheroes
2015: My Publishing Journey
2014: Evocative Words

All of these have been a lot of fun to write, and participating has built my circle of friends, readers, and colleagues. So, of course I'm back to play along again, here in year 10.

So, what are we up to this year? I'm writing letters to dead writers. There are a lot of writers who have been important to me across my life and it's too late to meet some of them in person, but it's not too late to express my love and appreciation.

My planned list of writers (subject to change due to inspiration) includes:

A: LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
B: CHARLOTTE BRONTE
C: PATRICIA CLAPP
D: DAPHNE DU MAURIER
E: EMILY DICKINSON
F: ANNE FRANK
G: GWENDOLYN BROOKS
H: LORAINE HAINSBURY
I: LAURA INGALLS WILDER
J: JANE AUSTEN
K: HELEN KELLER
L: MADELEINE L’ENGLE
M: MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY
N: ANAIS NIN
O: OCTAVIA BUTLER
P: DOROTHY PARKER
Q: QUEEN OF CRIME FICTION, AGATHA CHRISTIE
R: JEAN RHYS
S: SHIRLEY JACKSON
T: SOJOURNER TRUTH
U: URSULA LE GUIN
V: VIRGINIA WOOLF
W: EDITH WHARTON
X: ANNE SEXTON
Y: EMPRESS YAMATO
Z: ZORA NEALE HURSTON

See any favorites in that list? Did you think of some you're surprised I didn't choose? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Thoughts on Captain Marvel


I was really nervous about Captain Marvel.

I'm a pretty hardcore MCU fan, but female power moments are few and far between across all the movies. They waste their women characters over and over again. Waiting for a powerful woman hero scene is like trying to survive on breadcrumbs when you really want a sammich. What we get tastes good, but we're still hungry!

I was nervous about Wonder Woman, too, when it came out. After all, the DC cinematic universe had piled up a lot of near misses already. But Wonder Woman showed it could be done. A female led superhero movie that made bank and had fans standing up and cheering (and not all the fans were female).

Then came Black Panther.

 
Black Panther may have a man as the title character, but it was Okoye, Shuri, Nakia, and Ramonda who lit up the screen and had me cheering. Okoye even got to break trope and be a warrior woman with a love in her life who didn't get killed! It was amazing.

My hope built, despite the fact that I still haven't forgiven the franchise for taking Black Widow and giving her an out-of-left-field romance story line that includes self-hatred over infertility. Had they never even watched their own movies? Had they not met this woman? You've got ONE significant female hero and you saddle her with a weak romance story line when she's practically a ninja? Gah!

When I saw the first trailer for Captain Marvel, my heart sank. The voiceover was 90% Nick Fury, and while the lines were strong, they weren't spoken by the title character. That had me concerned. When we did hear Brie Larson's voice, it sound small, and little girlish. Uncertain. Not how Carol Danvers sounds inside my head. I was chanting under my breath, hoping they wouldn't blow it, and worried they would.

So, even though I'd heard some positive things before walking into the theater, I was still half-holding my breath as the film started.

So, I'm here to say, "Whew!"

They didn't screw it up! In fact, it was a very solid superhero flick. I had cause to pump my fist in the air in solidarity and joy. It didn't light me on fire as much as I'd hoped, but it also didn't leave me groaning. I might wish it had been braver, taken a few more risks, but it doesn't set us back, and there's plenty of room to make more of this character in Endgame and future franchise entries.

Best moments (non spoilery) for me:
  • The Carol-stands-up montage
  • "I don't have anything to prove to you." 
  • Washing dishes with Nick Fury
  • Whoops of joy when enjoying using her powers
  • Goose the "cat"
I'd love to hear what you though, if you've seen it. I think we're posed for some fabulous super-women moments in Endgame. I hope the MCU has the balls to see it through. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

White Hat, Black Hat, or Something in Gray?


Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard! Be sure to check out their blogs after mine! The question this month is: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?
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Playing in different perspectives is one of the fun parts of writing for me. I've often said that writing is like reading, but on steroids. What I love about reading is the chance to experience someone else's life from the inside, to get a sense of what it might be like to be them and do the things they have done. When I'm doing that as a writer, it's even more powerful because I'm even more fully immersed in someone's psyche.

Even though I write superhero fiction, I'm not a good guys and bad guys dichotomy believer. The most interesting characters are heroes and villains. They're complex and contradictory. They do good things for selfish reasons and bad things for good reasons.

You've heard the old saw that everyone is the hero of their own story? I believe that wholeheartedly. The hero isn't a role, it's a perspective, and a different character may seem like the hero, depending on where you're standing to watch this fight. It's why Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog is one of my favorite superhero stories. The good guy isn't that good and the bad guy isn't all bad.


Those shades of gray moments are where the tension lies for me.

So, in my Menopausal Superhero series, Cindy Liu is the villain. After all, it's her fault that all the other women were transformed. She worked toward her own ends, without regard for the effect on others. Patricia O'Neill is one of the heroes. After all, she uses her powers to help others (eventually, after Suzie convinces her to). Simple, right?


But it doesn't take long for lines to blur. Maybe Cindy had more altruism in her motivations than is obvious on the surface. Maybe Patricia is more self-serving than she seems at first glance.

Maybe they are both just women, making their way with what they've got, trying to figure out what they want to do.

So, I like writing it all! Heroes, villains, princes and thieves. The magic is in all the in-betweens.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

SickBed Movie Marathon

I don't wish for more time to watch TV anymore, because the only way I ever get it is by being sick. Unfortunately, I've had a lot of time for TV this week: sinus infection. Gah!

So here's my sickbed viewing marathon these past few days. I decided I'd watch some things I'd been meaning to watch and hadn't gotten around to yet. I'm an impatient patient, so it's good to be sick in the 21st century, the age of streaming services and digital content!

I started with John Wick. Great fun and perfect for my mood (I hate being sick and would really like to blow some things up instead of blowing my nose). John Wick was a very satisfying flick and more fuel for my theory that Keanu Reeves does his best work when he doesn't talk too much. He's so good at the physical: body and face work. Though, he did pleasantly surprise me with one great angry explosive speech.

The fight scenes were creative and fun to watch. The whole secret society angle of hit-people and other dangerous folk was intriguing, with all the layers of loyalties and betrayal. Adrianne Palicki was a nice surprise for me, as she's not an actress I've been aware before The Orville, and this role as Ms. Perkins is nothing like her Kelly on that show.

I always love the reluctant hero (or antihero) story line, where a person had turned their back on a life and gets pulled back in. It's not a story with a lot of surprises, but it hits every expected beat well.

I was still in the mood for blowing things up after that, so I tried Red 2. I enjoyed the first movie
some years ago, and considered this one worth seeing if only for Helen Mirren. I can take or leave Bruce Willis doing another Bruce Willis type guy, and John Malcovich's character doesn't seem to know if he's the philosophical backbone, or the comic relief. Sometimes he felt more like Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies than anything else.

But Helen Mirren's Victoria is one of my favorite characters ever. So the movie did not disappoint in that regard. Helen killed in evening wear and army fatigues with equal efficiency and panache, and even as dressed as a lunatic who believed she was the queen. In fact, I'd argue it's worth the whole thing just to see her shooting out both windows of a careening car and then sitting smugly while it all blows up behind them. When I daydream about having movies made of my books, I always cast Helen Mirren.

The movie overall wasn't quite as much fun as the first one, but I guess we'd already done the "coming out of retirement" gig, so this wasn't a bad way to go, and Anthony Hopkins was a delight. I think I'd probably be more critical of it if I felt better, but I'm looking for popcorn, and popcorn is what I got. :-)

After that, I'd had enough explosions for a while. So, I decided to watch Pan's Labyrinth (which turned out to still have some explosions, but they weren't teh point).

I'd heard a lot about Pan's Labyrinth, and most of the things I'd heard panned out (ha!). The puppetry was beautiful and creepy as heck. If all the labyrinth stuff was in this little girl's imagination, as the story certainly leaves room for, she was a child of darkness for sure.

But then again, what other kind of child could she have been given all the tragedy and sadness she'd experienced already? The story doesn't give her age, but I'd guess her at about 11 years old, and she'd already lost her father, seen her mother hook up with a dangerous guy, seen her mother suffer through a life-threatening pregnancy, lived in the scary household of said dangerous guy, connected with members of the resistance, and then seen her mother die.

The other Del Toro movie I remember well is Shape of Water, and there are some similarities in feel between the two films, including the fantasy happy ending representation of what came for our tragic heroine after death.

Definitely on the darker side of fairy tale, bringing to mind other movies like Legend and Labyrinth. So much ambiguity all the time. I couldn't tell whether I should be hoping she'd do what the labyrinthian creatures told her or that she'd discover their lies in time, because it definitely seemed like they were dodgy and playing right into what she wanted to hear. (Which makes sense if they only exist in her imagination). That deep ambiguity was woven through every scene in the real world and the fantasy one and is the main emotion the story evoked in me.

Quite good. I'll watch it again sometime when I don't have a fever.

So, there's the view from my sickbed today. Here's hoping it's a while before I have this much time for movies again!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

DIYMFA #10: What's on Your Reading List?



Welcome to the DIYMFA book club. They've got a very active group over on Facebook. If you're interested in exploring these themes about your own writing, I highly recommend giving them a look! Today, we're asked about our reading lists. 

Reading is such an important part of my author's life! After all, I began as a reader, back when the book were tall and thin and I read them out loud with my mother. I'm not dogmatic about much when it comes to what an author MUST do, but I firmly believe that you can't be a good writer if you don't also read. You need to read a LOT: broadly, deeply, and constantly. There's no better school for writing.

The problem with my TBR (to be read) list is that I want to read EVERYTHING. People have been writing books for a long time, and I want to read all the old, good stuff, and all of the new, good stuff. I want to read all the fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and even the plays. Starting in 2015, I set a Goodreads goal of 52 books a year, averaging out to one per week and I've exceeded that every year, thanks to discovering audiobooks and how reading in this format can double or triple my reading time each day. 

I know I can't actually read everything. It's just not humanly possible. So there are a few things that guide my choices these days. 

#1 Book Clubs
#2 Writers I Know
#3 My Mood

I'm in two book clubs right now (besides the DIYMFA one). 

I help run the First Monday Classics Book Club at my local library. It was the brainchild of another local writer, James Maxey, who like me, was looking for a structure and support to encourage himself to read all those classic books he'd been meaning to get to all these years. The group has been meeting for four years and those who've been in from the beginning have read 50 books together. 

Upcoming in the next few months, we're tackling Fahrenheit 451, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Haunting of Hill House, The Master and Margarita, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and In Cold Blood

I really enjoy this book club, both for the impetus to fill in "holes" in my reading history and for the wonderful discussions about the works themselves and whether they deserve the moniker of "classic" or not. 

My other book club is much smaller, consisting of three other women who live in my neighborhood and me. We don't really have a theme. We just take turns suggesting books and then go have coffee and talk about them. We do seem to have a taste for nonfiction as a group, and I've read some great books with these women. Our next meeting is coming soon and we'll be talking about Hidden Figures, which really disappointed me, so I'm anxious to hear what everyone else thought. 

Many of my other book choices come from authors I know online or in real life. Sometimes, I have promised to read and review something for a writer I'm acquainted with because they need the boost. It's so hard to garner those first few reviews that get your work some traction! Other times, I'm just curious what these folks I talk on panels with and appear in anthologies alongside are up to. One of the best ways authors can support each other is by spreading the word about books they enjoy, and keeping up with the work by my talented and prolific colleagues could be a full time job in and of itself. 

Since I just signed with a new publisher, I've loaded up my kindle with works by the other writers among Falstaff Books' Island of Misfit Toys. I try to keep up with my colleagues in Broad Universe and the Pen and Cape Society

I'm also judging a women's fiction writing contest for the Women's Fiction Writers Association, so I've got three novels to read between now and April for that commitment. 

Familiarity with others' work is part of networking, and also a way to pay forward all the kindness and support that others have shown me over my writer's journey. 

So, with all these external forces choosing a lot of my reading for me, I also just sometimes pick a book because it sounds interesting. A lot of times, these are contrast books to whatever I've been reading "too much" of: comedies, escapism, something "different." 

My most recent read chosen by my mood was Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I follow Ms. Roanhorse on Twitter and had heard quite a bit of buzz about this book. I'm always looking to diversify my reading list, and Ms. Roanhorse is Native American and writes Young Adult, two categories my reading experience is short on. I'm so glad I read it! Maggie Hoskie is a delight of a main character, complicated, prickly, and so very wonderful. 

So, there's what I'll be reading for the foreseeable future. How about you? What's at the top of your TBR? I hope you'll give my books a shot (nudgenudge, know what I mean?) but there's a lot of good work out there. What's got your eye right now? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 


Sunday, February 10, 2019

DIYMFA #9: Trying a New Technique


Building a writing life is all about figuring out what works for you. It's also a lifelong learning experience because change happens: your life circumstances, your writing process, even you-yourself. So, I'm always seeking new things to try. Writing life "hacks" so to speak, despite the negative connotation of "hack" when it comes to writing.  Over the years, I've found some tools and ideas that have made me more efficient and effective, and I hope to keep on finding ways to grow as my career builds.

To that end, I've been slowly reading through DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build your Community by Gabriela Pereira, which is a good compilation of a variety of writing advice with a focus on building a process that will work for you career-long. I've also been participating in the DIYMFA book club.  They've got a very active group over on Facebook. If you're interested in exploring these themes about your own writing, I highly recommend giving them a look!

This week's prompt asked you to try a new technique and talk about how it went for you. The technique I tried was scene cards. I wrote about it previously on this blog here.

It's a form of outlining.

Now, I've never been an outliner. The story doesn't seem to come to me whole-cloth enough for that. I'm more of a quilter as I write, building pieces and then stitching them together afterwards.

But, I was really stuck on my WIP (Thursday's Children, YA, dystopian with shades of romance) last summer. So, I decided to give this a go during my yearly writer's retreat. At worst, it wouldn't work for me and I'd just be where I already was, right?

Story cards ask you to make a card for each scene in your novel, indicating the follow things:
  • a title for the scene
  • the major players
  • the action
  • the purpose (structurally)
That last bit (the purpose) turned out to be key for me. It helped me see what each scene was doing in the larger piece. The best scenes had more than one purpose: characterization plus plot reveal moment or conflict building with scene setting.

I did this is as a sort of mid-process mapping. I had already written some 30,000 words on the project. So, I mapped out what I had already written, analyzing it for these four things. I added a color coding element because the book balances three points of view (Kye'luh, Malcolm, and Jason) and I wanted to see if they were balancing, so I wrote the scene card on a different color post-it, depending on whose POV it was told in. I used a fourth color for random thoughts I didn't want to lose and left those off to the side. 

I've done digital version of this before, labeling the chapters in Scrivener with different symbols and using the summary cards there to detail what the content of each chapter was, but the paper version hanging on my wall worked much better for me visually. The day after I finished my descriptive outline of what I'd already written, I made a list of "holes" I needed to fill and ideas for how the story should move forward. Here, six months later, I'm still using this chart to guide my progress and the novel is nearing its end. 


I still don't think I can outline before I write. But as a way to move past my wall when I've run out of steam and need to find my direction again? This was really useful to me. As always, YMMV, because any creative endeavor is highly individual and we all work differently. But hey, if you're stuck, what can it hurt to try something?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

IWSG: Ch-ch-ch-changes



Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! it's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 6, 2019 posting of the IWSG are Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace! Be sure to check them out today!
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So tomorrow is a HUGE day in my writing life. It's the day my Menopausal Superheroes novels are re-released. They get ANOTHER book birthday. I'm so happy (and relieved) to be able to make this announcement so soon after I found it necessary to ask for my rights back from my previous publisher. (details here)

My blog image of the tightrope walker has never felt more appropriate than in the past few months, because this has definitely been a circus. (Though maybe a trapeze artist hanging in midair when we haven't seen if she will catch the other bar yet would be an even better image). 

Turns out, I don't like the circus. At least not when I have to perform in it. But now I can happily say, "not my monkeys, not my circus" and move on. Time for a fresh start. 

The Menopausal Superhero series will now be published by Falstaff Books of Charlotte, North Carolina. Check out my new covers! 

I really love the new look. They do a great job of capturing the heart of the series (superheroic women's fiction) and just look so good! 

I'm not letting myself get insecure right now, though transitions are always terrifying. Instead I'm focusing on the all the positives. After all, I'm the queen of second chances, having found a new lease on life in a second marriage, in a third state, in a ninth teaching job, and now with a second publisher. I got this, right? 

After all, I don't just write superhero, I am one. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Guest Post: Harding McFadden: Can We Chat for a While?


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NOTE: To my regular readers, today I am pleased to bring you a guest post from Harding McFadden. I hope you enjoy his piece about his writer's journey! -SB


Can We Chat for a While?
by Harding McFadden

            I wrote my first “book” when I was about eight years old: a twelve-page beast of a thing with knights, evil kings, elves, robots, and a large red self-destruct button inspired by some old Iron Maiden album cover and watching the first Terminator at too young an age.  I was so proud of the thing.  I even begged my oldest sister to take it to school with her to type it up and print it out, so that I could proudly give copies over to everyone I knew, which amounted to family too polite to turn me down.  I look back on it now and cringe.  It’s terrible. 
            By the time I was seventeen I was submitting short stories to magazines.  This synced up perfectly with the worst bout of insomnia that I’ve ever had to deal with.  One, maybe two, hours of sleep a night, for weeks on end with one terrible weekend-long crash.  At the end of one of these, with the crash in sight and the room spinning, I decided to sit down in front of my typewriter and kick out a little story.  At two or three in the morning, as my folks later informed me.  The end result was a short story (less than a thousand pages) that I titled “Mr. Peabody and the Headless Boy,” which, I will test until the day I die, is the single best thing I’ve ever written. 
            Very proud of this little gem, I submitted it.  Much to my chagrin, no one was interested.  Fantasy and Science Fiction?  Nope.  Analog? Nada.  Weird Tales?  My personal favorite: “Bleak, incoherent, and hard to follow.”  I still have that rejection letter in a box in my attic. 
            Long story short: it hasn’t seen the light of day, unless you happen to be a good friend, or relative.  Until later this year, but more on that later.
            Like so many folks, I guess, I’ve dreamed of writing a novel since first putting pen to paper.  There’ve been plenty of false starts.  A crime novel that let me know inside of the first chapter just how little I know about law enforcement.  A horror western that I wrote a detailed outline for, along with the first two-fifths of, amounting to about 120 pages, and which I fully intend to finish one day.  But the novel, as a form of artistic expression, has forever eluded me.
            I think it was Koontz who said that agents dislike working with short story writers, as they see them as amateurs, unable to give them the 100,000 words that they are looking for.  So, that’s me: the perpetual amateur, with delusions of grandeur.  However, I will always defend those delusions, as what in the name of God are the good of delusions of mediocrity? 
            So, two hundred short stories, twelve sales, later, I am looking at the author’s proof of my second book.  How did I get here?
            About ten years back I decided to attempt an intellectual exercise: to outline a long story, with a defined beginning, middle, and end.  A science fiction epic for readers of all ages, full of action, adventure, heroes, villains, and concepts on a grand scale.  Much to my shock I spent the following decade doing just that: outlining.  The result?  A long story, told over many smaller volumes and related short stories, that in my head is called The Last War.
            When my friend Chester Haas—cowriter on the first volume of this long story—finished up our little book, we were proud of the finished product.  When those beta readers that we dropped it on went through the roof for it, our pride grew by leaps and bounds.  When I read it to my two awe inspiring daughters and they told me they liked it, I was through the roof.  But, as the old saying goes: pride goeth before the fall.
            No agent wanted to touch the thing.  “Too short,” and “too offensive” were phrases that were thrown our way.  I still don’t understand this last, but then again it takes a lot to offend me. 
            In my youth I was prone to depression and anxiety, at least in small bursts.  These feelings reared their ugly heads once again when it started to look like our work would amount to nothing, with family and close friends being the only folks to read something that I’d had a hand in writing, yet again.
            Enter Sarah A. Hoyt.
            A well-established and talented writer in her own right, Mrs. Hoyt did me the honor a few months back of accepting my friend request on Facebook (let this be a lesson to you folks out there: yes, writers are just people, but some are fine examples of humanity, and Mrs. Hoyt is one such).  Full disclosure: upon friending her, I’d yet to read one of her many works of fiction, having only been exposed to her articles in places like L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise.  Yet, those articles were so incredible that I found, and still find, myself sneaking them out with each and every new issue published.  So she’s a good writer, but here’s what’s made me a fan for life: when I sent her a message, she answered.
            I asked her, very selfishly I admit, if she had any advice for someone trying to get started, and in no time flat she got back to me offering many sage words of advice, arguably the most important of which were: “Go indie, young writer, go indie.”
            Such a simple thing, words given by a stranger that meant more than those given by most folks that I’ve known in the flesh much longer, and they changed the way I was looking at this.  Sure, it would be nice to be walking through a brick and mortar book store and see something that I’ve written up on the shelves, but that’s just ago.  The fine folks at my local library have taken pity on my need to feed the green-eyes monster and have everything that I’ve every had published up on their shelves, listed, not by editor, but by my name, so that I can drive down the M-rack whenever I want and bask in those few slim volumes whenever I’m feeling down.  So, brick and mortar be damned.
            And so, last November my first book, The Children’s War, was published on Amazon Kindle, with an absolutely incredible cover by Mrs. Katherine Derstein. 
            When I first held it in my ready little hands, I could have cried.  As has been pointed out to me endlessly: yes, it was self-published.  I am no less proud.  Couldn’t care less.  It’s out there, for the reading public to enjoy or hate to their heart’s content, as I’d always imagined it being. 
            One down.
            Coming up in late-February or mid-March will be the second book, The Great First Impressions Trip, again with an incredible cover, this one put together by the great Dr. Victor Koman, out of the kindness of his heart, and another great writer who happens also to be  a good fella.  Coming soon (another three or four months) will be The Judas Hymn, a collection of my published short stories, along with a dozen others (including the previously mentioned “Mr. Peabody and the Headless Boy”) featuring a downright off-putting cover by Xander Van Hawley.        After that?  Lord, lots more.
            You see, I’ve got a big story to tell, and it is my sincere wish to tell it well.   
            I guess it’s getting past time to wrap this up.  I’ve pimped the books to annoyance. I’ve thanked those folks that’ve helped me, when I in no way deserved their help (add to that list Samantha Bryant who, when I asked if I could write a guest blog for her said “Yes.”)  All that is left is to thank you, whoever took a few minutes out of your busy day to read these ramblings from a poor beggar, asking for your business.  I hope that you enjoyed our time together.

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Check out The Children's War here!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

MLK: Poet of Justice

We had a school holiday on Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. There are only a few Americans who stand high enough in our country's esteem to warrant a day away from work and I hope enough of us stop to consider the reason for the observation.

There's a lot to admire about this man and the lasting good he helped usher into our country.

It's worth remembering, too, what it cost him.

But when I think about Martin Luther King, Jr., it is his words that echo in my heart and mind.

When my daughter was in 5th grade, I went with her class on a trip to Washington DC. I've been several times to see that fair city, but I had never before visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

It does him proud. The statue is grand, and striking. Visually, the way the man seems to be emerging out of the unformed stone behind him speaks to strength and struggle, the unfinished nature of the work of justice, and of dignity.

The best part, though, is all the quotes.

The walls are lined with many of his words.

It was a joy to stand there listening to 5th graders reading them aloud to each other and nodding with the truths that echoed in their own hearts.

The man had wonderful ideas, but more important to his legacy, he expressed them well: memorably, poetically, powerfully.



Some of my favorites:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

"I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits."

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

"True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice."

“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was legal.”