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Happiness is a warm Jack o’ Lantern

This is the official blog of Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff—Bahá’í, writer, editor, musician, general misfit, child of Ray Bradbury and Star Trek, lover of baseball, magical realism, Dr. Who, the month of October and Jack’o’Lanterns (which make me very, very happy).

This is where I post things that mean something (cue mashed potatoes.)

Tinkerbell on Walkabout Releases at Book View Cafe

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Bohnhoff_TinkerbellonWalkabout600x900She’s 5’2″, gamine, and weighs eighty-nine pounds in a soggy trench coat. The nickname “Tinkerbell” has followed her from high school. It’s hard to imagine her riding a Harley or packing a baby blue .357 Magnum. She does both. After a disastrous engagement and washing out of Police Academy, Gina Miyoko is on walkabout in Gold Rush country, looking for clues to her own future. What are the odds she’ll end up in the middle of a mystery deep in the heart of an obsessively neat junkyard?

Gina Suza Miyoko is the protagonist of a detective series I would LOVE to launch and for which I have already got thumbnail sketches and outlines for six or seven novels. This novelette, which releases on September 15 at Book View Cafe, is Gina’s genesis story.

Come to the Book View Cafe online bookstore on September 15 and meet Gina.

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Living in the Gam Saan: a Tale of Two Californias

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tina_turner_treesI was not happy to move to California when I was 15. Having just buried my father and shut the door on an idyllic life in a small Nebraska town, I wrote a poem in which I likened California to a massive paper plate—an angsty teen’s commentary on throwaway culture. (And I find palm trees . . . annoying.)

Over the years, though, I’ve found increasingly significant reasons to love being a citizen of the Gam Saan (Golden Mountain). They are too numerous to go into here, but I caught this on Vox this morning and just had to share. Continue reading

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Today’s the Day!

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Coming in July 2015!

On shelves now!

It’s the “grand opening” of Lucinda’s Pawnshop. The antiquary is in! 

Drop by and check out the magical items in the store . . . or simply purchase Devil’s Daughter—Lucinda’s Pawnshop, Book One. At your favorite local bookstore, or online from a variety of sources including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s.

The book features some very interesting artifacts that play important roles in the story: a pen, a pocket watch, a Book of Shadows alleged to have belonged to Morgan le Fay, a Qur’an annotated by one of the most brilliant men in pre-Renaissance medicine, astronomy, The_Bible_Worship_Backgroundphysics, and psychology.

Wondering how these things could possibly play a role in Lucifer’s plan to destroy humanity? Buy the book and you’ll find out. :)

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Incoming … Reviews, that is.

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Reviews are starting to come in for Devil’s Daughter. Here are a couple for your amusement. The Kirkus one could have been written by someone who’d only read the cover copy, but the Romantic Times one is pretty cool.

Coming in July 2015!

Coming in July 2015!

“A worthwhile jaunt for readers interested in a mix of magic, mankind, and the sinister ploys of the Devil.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Combining elements of Milton’s Paradise Lost with a clever modern setting, and full of unique imaginative details, the first book in the Lucinda’s Pawnshop series is sure to please fans looking for a darker, more complex kind of urban fantasy. …The plot is a sharp one. The authors have have created a fascinating, sympathetic character in Lucinda and her conflicted journey is sure to sustain readers’ interest.” – Bridget Keown, Romantic Times

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Today’s Daily Reading: Abdu’l-Bahá Does it Again

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light BibleToday, as it often does, my daily reading bore on a real conversation I’ve been having. In this case, with a group of people who are, shall we say, not kindly disposed to Islam, on Brietbart.

The quoted material is from a talk Abdu’l-Bahá gave during his visit to the United States in 1912.

I shall ask you a question: Did God create us for love or for enmity? Did He create us for peace or discord? Surely He has created us for love; therefore, we should live in accordance with His will. Do not listen to anything that is prejudiced, for self-interest prompts men to be prejudiced. They are thoughtful only of their own will and purposes. They live and move in darkness. Consider how many different nations and divergent religious beliefs existed when Christ appeared. Enmity and strife prevailed among them—Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Egyptians—all warring and hostile toward each other. Christ, through the breaths of the Holy Spirit, united them, established fellowship among them so that no trace of strife remained. Under His standard they became united and lived in peace through His teachings. Which is preferable and more commendable? To follow the example of Jesus Christ or to manifest the satanic instinct? Let us strive with all our powers to unite the East and West so that the nations of the world may be advanced and that all may live according to the one foundation of the religions of God. The essentials of the divine religion are one reality, indivisible and not multiple. It is one. And when through investigation we find it to be single, we have a basis for the oneness of the world of humanity. I will pray for you, asking confirmation and assistance in your behalf.

— `Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p437

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Visit Lucinda’s Pawnshop Online

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Coming in July 2015!

Coming in July 2015!

Lucinda’s Pawnshop is officially open.

You can visit the shop, find out about Lucinda and her wares, read about the authors, and watch a trailer.

Click the link to Enter Lucinda’s Pawnshop . . . if you dare.

Which item might you choose? The pen? The book? The pocket watch?

If you buy something from Lucinda’s Pawnshop, you may come home with more than you bargained for.

 

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Reason, Guns and Cognitive Dissonance

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Bundy_Ranch_SniperThis morning during my daily news reading, two seemingly opposing statements collided in my head.

  1. “An armed society is a polite society.”
  2. “I shot him/her because I thought he/she had a gun.”

The former is an aphorism used by gun rights advocates as an assurance that if more people were armed, there were would be less violence in our society. The latter is what I have read repeatedly in stories involving an armed person—on-duty or off-duty policeman or armed civilian—give as the reason that they aimed their gun at another human being and fired: they feared for their lives because they thought the other person was also armed.

The most recent of these stories I read was the case of Dante Servin, who was just exonerated of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the killing of Rekia Boyd. The judge seems to have ruled as he did because the charges were not sufficient to what Servin is alleged to have done while off duty. He fired over his shoulder into a group of youth as he drove away from them because he thought one of the young men was reaching for a gun in his waistband. He shot the unarmed young woman in the back of the head, killing her.

According to the judge, Mr. Servin was not reckless because he fired with intent and so should have been charged with murder, not involuntary manslaughter. The article stated that he cannot now be charged with the greater crime of murder because of the manslaughter charge. I did not understand double jeopardy to work that way, but that’s a different issue.

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Would you shoot this dude?

My moment of cognitive dissonance relates to the two statements above, simply because I don’t see how they can both be true. Either people who are armed show greater respect, tolerance, and care with others because they suspect they are also armed or they pre-emptively shoot them because they suspect they are also armed. If the former statement is true, then we should see fewer and fewer cases in which one person shot another because they suspected they were also armed. It is, in any event, difficult to prove that you didn’t shoot someone because you thought they might shoot back. Presumably, the only way to gather this information would be to take a poll, asking persons with carry permits, “Have you ever refrained from accosting someone because you thought he or she was also armed?”

Obviously, this is not the same thing as gathering empirical evidence.

If the latter is true, then I would expect to see a pattern of defensive shootings in situations where the shooter has an increased expectation that the other person is indeed armed. This is empirically verifiable. It is, in fact, occurring, and I don’t think it’s too wild a speculation to propose that among those people who shot someone because they thought they were armed are those who also believe that an armed society is a polite society.

Inigo+Montoya+from+The+Princess+Bride+_5eb38f6e2f66bcfb3c178e52e0882339At best, statement #2 calls into question the meaning and usage of the word “polite” in statement #1. Which brings to mind a phrase that is much-used in our home and among the people we hang with:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride)

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On Every Page: Bill Maher and the Qur’an

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Bill Maher

I read an article on Thinkprogress.com this morning that asks the question “Has Bill Maher Finally Gone Too Far?” with regard to his animosity toward Muslims and Islam. I personally think the answer is “yes”, if for no other reason than that he is taking significant heat from other self-identifying liberals, progressives and atheists.

In the article, Maher is quoted as saying, “The Qur’an absolutely has on every page stuff that’s horrible about how the infidels should be treated.”

I’ll cut to the chase. This is quickly and easily debunked by simply opening a Qur’an. Most of the snippets of text pulled from the Qur’an to show that (1) Islam is an inherently violent faith and (2) Muslims are directed to slay all non-Muslims (including Jews and Christians) because (3) “infidel” equals “non-Muslim” are cited out of context.

But first things first. Mr. Maher is wrong about the contents of the Qur’an. Perhaps he was indulging in hyperbole when he insisted that violence against “infidels” is “absolutely” “on every page.” It hardly matters because people who have not read the Qur’an may believe him simply because of who he is. Beyond this, there are a raft of assumptions wrapped up in Maher’s single sentence. I’d like to try to tackle them one at a time. Continue reading

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The Mathematics of Writing

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BooksTakeFlight-300x297History—and nonfiction of various types—offers a wonderful smorgasbord of events and interrelationships for writers to base stories on. Most writers—myself included—have mined nonfiction for fictional ideas. My collected history books have many pages with the words “Story here!” scrawled at the top, often with multiple exclamation points, highlighting and arrows pointing to the text that made the hair rise up on my neck and my ovaries twitch.

It’s easy to get ideas from nonfiction—books, magazine articles, TV documentaries, etc. My first published novel, THE MERI, occasioned me to read three fat and varied histories of Scotland upon whose progression of kings and system of governance I chose to base my fictional government. It was a lot of work, and I think sometimes that the tech revolution has had a deleterious effect on how some writers do research. I’ve had several experiences lately that make me suspect that the abridged nature of the information we take in makes some of us forget the mathematics of writing.

The visual media—TV documentaries and Youtube videos—have taken the place, in some aspiring writers’ lives of the in-depth sort of research and thought that writing a novel on a subject requires. I encountered a situation recently in which a writer I was working with gathered a basket full of ideas from documentaries and wikipedia entries and wanted to write them into his book. What resulted was interesting … in a Vulcan sort of way. Continue reading

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My morning reading

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One cEach morning, I spend some quiet time in devotion and study. My current study material is a 2005 missive from the Universal House of Justice (guiding institution for the global Bahá’í community) entitled One Common Faith. It is an exploration of the role of religion in the world, both past and future, and deals with a variety of related issues. For example, the role that our difficulty in distinguishing between eternal spiritual principles and evolving social conventions plays in dividing our world up along religious and tribal lines.

The House of Justice’s letters to the Bahá’í Community have always been prescient—usually their insights lead world events by five to ten years. I was struck by how these passages from One Common Faith resonate with the current state of the world.

If unity is indeed the litmus test of human progress, neither history nor Heaven will readily forgive those who choose deliberately to raise their hands against it. In trusting, people lower their defences and open themselves to others. Without doing so, there is no way in which they can commit themselves wholeheartedly to shared goals. Nothing is so devastating as suddenly to discover that, for the other party, commitments made in good faith have represented no more than an advantage gained, a means of achieving concealed objectives different from, or even inimical to, what had ostensibly been undertaken together. Such betrayal is a persistent thread in human history that found one of its earliest recorded expressions in the ancient tale of Cain’s jealousy of the brother whose faith God had chosen to confirm. If the appalling suffering endured by the earth’s peoples during the twentieth century has left a lesson, it lies in the fact that the systemic disunity, inherited from a dark past and poisoning relations in every sphere of life, could throw open the door in this age to demonic behaviour more bestial than anything the mind had dreamed possible.

If evil has a name, it is surely the deliberate violation of the hard-won covenants of peace and reconciliation by which people of goodwill seek to escape the past and to build together a new future.

Continue reading

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