Friday, June 3, 2016

Plot Nuts and Bolts, Pt. 1

WOW. We just went without the Internet or cable television for a week, after a storm knocked a tree down on the cables that run from the house to the pole (narrowly missing the power as well, because other trees caught the top of the falling tree just short of that), and it was tough. I went to Starbucks a couple of times with my tablet to check mail, and I used an antenna to pick up some local stations to monitor the weather, but otherwise I was without global communication (LOL). I knew that Facebook was my major social outlet (most of my close friends keep in touch that way), but I didn't realize how isolated I would feel once I couldn't check in regularly.)

The world is wired in nowadays. I needed to do LOTS of business transactions by phone, and I'd always be regaled with how much easier it would be if I'd only come into the 21st century and do it online. I explained to people, and they said to move. (LOL)

ANYWAY! Let's talk for a moment about plot nuts and bolts, something I learned about in a long-Long-ago workshop that's worthy of your attention if you want to write stories.

(The article "Plot Nuts and Bolts" by Shalanna Collins is copyright 2016. A version of this appeared years ago on the FUTURES Web magazine site, but has been offline for a while.)

You've heard people talk about teaching or learning "the nuts and bolts of writing," right? Some time ago, SF writer Michael Stackpole coined the term "plot bolt," and now I'd like to discuss the concept, along with the nut that sometimes goes with it (and I'm not talking about the writer.)

What, you may ask, is a plot bolt? Just as a bolt fastens objects together by sticking through them and "hanging them from the holes," a plot bolt extends _through_ the plot of a story and helps to hold the parts together. Plot bolts pull a story together by helping the reader to see the connections and how things "all come together as a connected whole." The role can be played by a minor character (a "foil," for you literary types) who flits between the two major characters--perhaps the nosy neighbor ? la Mrs. Kravitz on "Bewitched," or a pet bird who flies between the two houses, or a cat like Pyewacket who runs away and has to be rescued; maybe, instead, it's a "maguffin" or semi-valuable object like the Maltese Falcon. These "minor" things are not so minor, and their scenes are not mere incidents, because the items or characters keep reappearing, helping to complete the circle of the story.

In the film "Bell, Book, and Candle," the cat familiar Pyewacket goes over to the Jimmy Stewart character's house and causes him to march over to the Kim Novak character's shop to return him? The cat also causes several other events in the tale connected to reconciliations or another fight. When he runs away, the viewers know that Gillian has lost her powers from being in love. All these functions bolt the story together at places where we'd otherwise have no connections (or maybe have to rely on coincidences).

Character "business," "tics," or "tags" may also add to the wholeness of the whole. Perhaps a characteristic little bit of action like Shalanna tugging at her earlobe when she's lying can irritate Drynxnyrd at first, until he figures out that she's always fibbing (she wouldn't go further than a compassionate white lie) or telling the incomplete story when she does it, and this can reveal to the hero later that she's not telling him the whole truth about that old boyfriend of hers who shows up later. It is something that starts out as characterization, and then the reader giggles when she sees it, but later she exclaims, "Of course! I should have expected that to be useful."

In Mary Stewart's THE GABRIEL HOUNDS, the narrator always reacts to the presence of a cat, even when she can't see it. This is established in an early chapter, when a kitten spooks her. Later in the book, she realizes that another character, supposedly a relative of hers, is an impostor, because the real relative shares this reaction--but the impostor doesn't even jump when a cat walks into the room. This one's related to all the movie scenes in which a character is "passing" for another character UNTIL the dog growls or snaps at him or her, and people realize that can't be good old Harryette. . . .

A plot bolt basically ties one strand of the plot into an entirely different strand. This may be the only thing that makes the subplots related. It's the realization of the reader that the romantic subplot that's been running through the last five chapters has just crossed paths with the minding-the-store thread, and they mesh. The reader doesn't see it coming in advance, but once it's there, it's inevitable. It's the only way things *could* be. And the book is praised as "tightly plotted."

Next time, the PLOT NUT (nope, that's not a fan who has all the plotlines in the old STAR TREK series memorized) and how it ties these bolts together so we have a framework that makes sense and the reader gets a wild ride through the tale.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Musing: why is there air? (Warning: thinky)

"Why is there air?" asked Bill Cosby on an early comedy album, WONDERFULNESS.

"To fill up basketballs. To fill up pool flotation devices."

Sure! It's that simple. For the persona in Bill Cosby's early comedy album, anyway. That's the important reason that there's air! A sports reason!

But then those of us who BREATHE it say, "If you don't think breathing air is important, try not doing it for a while."

The point being that we are all prisoners of our own viewpoints, and we often react by seeing what we expect to see or what we're accustomed to seeing. Why is air important to the coach? Filling up basketballs. Why is air important to the hot-air balloonist? We've gotta have lift. Why is air important to the rest of us? *cough cough*

But anyway . . . when you're writing, your character will notice what he is inclined to notice. It's probably not the same things about the room that you, a writer, would notice. Or that you, a firefighter, would notice. Or that you, a police officer, would notice. Are there fire exits and are they marked? Is there a place someone could lurk and surprise you? You see what I mean. Always question what you are doing, in the smaller and larger senses.

People who don't question what they're doing aren't usually doing anything important.

Is what you're doing important? Is what you're writing going to be significant to other people's lives? Is it going to make them see the world in a whole new way and encourage them to change their lives accordingly?

In order to understand if what you're doing is worth it, you must question everything. Ask yourself what you're trying to do. So many writers really just want to "have written."

Why do you write? You can try to answer this--and most have tried--but you probably won't be able to come up with a pithy, quotable answer. PLEASE don't cop out with, "I can't not write," because that only means you need a creative outlet of some sort. This isn't your fault. It's like asking "Why do you want to live?" It's not that the answer is bad, but that the question is stupid.

Why do you write? Is it to tell a story? To impart some wisdom and meaning to people's lives? To play with words and string them together into a progression of interesting thoughts? To present an idea that hasn't been presented before? Is it to entertain? To make money? To explain your life or views?

These are all valid reasons. Any combination of these would be a decent explanation. But you should think about which applies to you.

Why? Because if you know what you're doing, or trying to do, you're going to have less doubt about it. You're going to have confidence. You're going to find your mission in life.

And you won't leave this world without fulfilling your eternal destiny.

Your job is to find out what it is, and then start on that path. Now.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cozies being cut by major NYC mystery houses--AAAACK

I was sorry to hear of the many cozy series being dropped by the major NYC houses. The astounding part of it for me is that many series are still popular, but aren't making money for the house, so they're discontinued. Also, some of the authors won't be able to take the series elsewhere because the characters or series name/identity is owned by the publisher.

I will venture a guess as to why the industry decided to downsize them, though. I realized the other day that the last six or eight cozy mysteries I have read were VERY similar in setting/form/setup. The sleuth is a woman who runs a shop on the restored main street of a small town or resort town. (A pickling shop, a cupcake shop, a popcorn shop, a yarn shop, or whatever.) She is next door to other women who are running similar businesses. She lives above the shop or nearby. A murder takes place and she is a suspect or her best friend/neighbor is. The circle of people she interacts with is full of suspects. The shop is popular when she is not under suspicion (and the town must be full of extremely unhealthy people, for they come to the chocolate fudge shop or cupcake shop daily to fill up! I have never seen such successful small businesses! LOL) and business falls way off when she is under suspicion or suffers from rumors. The sleuth usually has an estranged hubby who would like to either get her back or sabotage her. She also has a boyfriend (sometimes two!) and probably a dog or cat who helps defend the turf. Often the detective is a love interest.

OK, I will admit that I read and enjoy them mostly BECAUSE of the mundane details. I wish I could find such a town free of economic or environmental issues in real life. The recipes, the talk of neighbors, the puzzle (not generally super-challenging, though), the lack of overt gore and extreme violence porn (most of the time), and so forth make the books a reliable bubblegum read. You usually don't have to worry about animals getting seriously hurt (although there have been exceptions) or descriptions of extreme torture porn or yuckiness (ditto). You can usually relate to the protagonist, who is "determined to make it on her own without help from the ex and despite the town turning against her."

Those old ropes do fray, however. The problem is that there's so little originality and so much similarity. You could just about exchange one book in a series for another book in a different series and track right along. It stretches credulity that the shops could all be viable in a small town--because many stores are having to go out of business in real life, and this just isn't realistic. The authors are not stretching themselves creatively and the reader is getting into a rut. I'm pretty sure that this is another reason that the genre is being downsized. We need some new tropes and different plotlines. (Yes, the caterer's food was poisoned by a baddie who wanted her put out of business as a nice side effect. Many, many times. How about something new? True, there is nothing new under the sun. That IS a difficulty.)

Sorry to sound so harsh, but maybe the abandoned authors will now stretch and go to a more traditional mystery format. A traditional mystery that is not a cozy can be set elsewhere and might have different tropes. My own MURDER BY THE MARFA LIGHTS is a paranormal without being a zombie/vampire/witch/werewolf deal, and NICE WORK explores the seamy underside of the BDSM lifestyle (and the minds of unscrupulous people.) Different, but still mysteries with the normal mystery feel. (Who did it? Why? Justice must be done. Goodness must prevail. Love conquers all.)

Who knows--the new books could even revitalize the field. After all, we do not want another "Twilight" fad with werewolves VS zombies or something to overtake the industry . . . aack! ;) Let's see if we can turn this to our benefit. Not to say that I never want to read another cozy-knitting shop-cozy again, but perhaps it IS time for the next fad to take hold. (Just hope it isn't more zombies.)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Ensemble casts, part 1

The ensemble cast is what keeps readers/viewers coming back for more, every week (on TV), every few years (in the movies), or every few months (in books). What makes an ensemble cast so charming?

First, let's look at a few ensemble casts I see as being near-perfect.

The cast members must have chemistry. By this I mean they've got to have that spark when they interact. They must make me BELIEVE. (Alan Young of MISTER ED never gets enough credit; he made me believe the HORSE IS TALKING! That's what I mean when I say the actor makes me buy into it and I *believe*.)

My husband hates any show I like (and pretty much does it for spite, IMHO--LOL), so he hates EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND with Ray Romano and cohorts. But even he has to admit that this ensemble cast is nigh-unto perfect. Note-perfect with the relationships and with how they interact. I *believe* that Robert is the neurotic cop. I *love* Frank (did you realize that he's the one who played Frankenstein's monster in "Young Frankenstein"? They pay homage to that in one of their Halloween episodes!) And I would normally HATE any woman who acted as Debra is often forced to, because I just hate bee-yotch characters . . . but she HAS to get angry and be mean very often in the show, and I find myself saying, "Yes! Deb is in the right! No one could do any differently!" And thus I like her character, against all odds. I even like the interefering mother-in-law, Marie, because she is letter-perfect at being like my own mother and mother-in-law when they got That Way (not all the time, like Marie! Just occasionally.) The cast has chemistry and I *believe* that Robert and Ray are brothers. Watch a couple of episodes sometime and you'll see what I mean. There are almost no false notes (not even with Amy and her parents), and that's why I rank this one up top even above I LOVE LUCY (another ensemble that would not work without all four of them) and THE BOB NEWHART SHOW (the original) and even THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW ("You have spunk. I hate spunk.")

My own ensemble casts, I hope, are like this one. I think Ari and Zoe French are a duprass of sorts; there are fans who want to see them in action again ASAP, and even fan fiction being written about them. They function well and are a sort of Bickersons pair. Compare to Jackie Gleason and Art Carney. When they get into it together, Katy bar the door!

Another of my ongoing ensemble casts encompasses Jacquidon Carroll and her sister Chantal. They are more like Lucy and Ethel, it has been said often, and they don't argue as fiercely as Ari and Zoe, but they complement one another when it comes to sleuthing. They have an ongoing foil in the form of Chantal's long-time main squeeze, who is referred to as "Smedley" most of the time. He's like Mrs. Columbo in that we don't see him, we don't hear him talk on the phone, but we hear about him and what he's doing or what he is about to do. It's part of the comic relief. It's a schtick, sure, but (I hope) a good one.

Often your ensemble cast will include a boyfriend/girlfriend or serious marriage prospect of the moment. I have this situation in both LOVE IS THE BRIDGE and in LITTLE RITUALS. If you don't have this, then you'd better have all sorts of flirting and the like going on with one of your main characters, because it's a big draw. Make the decision in the first book as to whether you will have explicit nookie scenes or will draw the curtain and let the waves crash onto the beach as in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, when we didn't get to see Burt Lancaster's hoohoo. Oh, well. But readers have distinct preferences as to whether they think a cozy should have hardcore scenes or not, so decide right away so as not to anger readers who skip that sort of stuff because they're older than fourteen and don't need an instruction booklet (can you tell which type of reader I am? Except for Henry Miller. I make an exception for Henry Miller. Don't ask me why. But if you want porn, you couldn't do better than Henry Miller, because he has interspersed sex scenes with his philosophical musings and other activities. Try the SEXUS/NEXUS trilogy. Or try D. H. Lawrence. If you want class with your, um, *ss, they're the ones, I guarantee. *Unless you can find a good translation of Baudelaire.*)

Other members of your ensemble cast will probably fill roles such as Sidekick, Mentor, Jester, Lovable (or not) Rogue, Guide (Spiritual/Moral Compass or Tour Guide), Guardian (or Threshold Guardian), Shapeshifter (this can be metaphorical, and generally is, at least to some extent), and even Trickster. Chantal and Zoe are (purportedly) the sidekicks in my mystery series books. Mentors come and go in all my books, but will be apparent when they first appear (so to speak, or "soda speak" as Kevin Robinson, mystery novelist extraordinaire, would say.) Gil Rousseau in MARFA LIGHTS is a Lovable Rogue--Tour Guide who is also possibly a Threshold Guardian and could even play Trickster in a pinch. Tricksters are a lot of fun to write, but you must be certain they're not taking over the story. Your heroine/sleuth/whatever MUST solve the puzzle for herself, save herself, have an epiphany of her own, experience growth and change at her own pace. Someone else can't do it for her, or the reader feels cheated.

So, anyway. You need to make sure your ensemble cast functions well together so that your readership will want more and will come back for more.

Your setting will often (ideally) be a character and will shape the way your cast interacts and what they do for fun (you ski in Denver, but you go tubing in San Marcos (TX) and you surf in Santa Barbara.) The best settings are the ones with a personality of their own and eccentric residents that are already familiar to your readers. For example, in New Orleans your characters will encounter street jazz musicians (and jazz funeral processions!), French quarter tourists, and voodoo priestesses. In Marfa, Texas, you will get the typical artists' colony weirdies plus the Marfa Lights followers. It's also a Western town, so you might even meet a few cowboys in their Airstream trailers. Consider your setting carefully, and be sure you do your research. A few road trips might be useful in this endeavor.

Next time--more about the archetypes and minor characters, and how they fit into this scheme.

Monday, March 28, 2016

For writers and readers: thoughts on structure

The beginning of a novel--ideally, the first few lines, unless we are in a prologue, about which more next time--should open a window and set a scene immediately. Readers should be able to see, hear, smell, maybe touch, and sometimes taste the setting and surroundings very soon, if not right away (because we're in a character's mind, or we're observing something closely, frex.)

Readers must know within moments who the main character(s) is/are and the situation at hand (the story world, the "ordinary world," if you will). Also, the TONE of this opening paragraph needs to signal to the reader whether this will be a light-hearted romp or a heavy, philosophical, convoluted read. However, this is all preliminary to "THE STORY." A novel doesn't have liftoff (even if we have readers already immersed in the Vivid, Continuous Dream that their minds should be constructing) until we pass through the Doorway of No Return.

What?!

What do I mean? Well, we're about to lose that ordinary world. The footing is unsure. A chasm is about to open beneath our feet. There is a door standing ajar, and perhaps a monster in pursuit of Our Heroine. Once she accepts the challenge and steps through the portal, she won't be able to get back home until the major plot problem is solved AND she has changed, fundamentally, herself. (A book has to be about the most important thing that has ever happened to the main character, and she has to undergo a transformation. Ideally, she will face her worst fear and conquer it. This doesn't hold for mysteries and series blorfs, but it SHOULD.) This challenge should be before the 20% mark or first 1/5 of your book, or else readers will get bored and drop the book. It really should be much earlier than that, for today's readers.

Is your hero or heroine intriguing, charming, worthy of following for 200+ pages? Is there a disturbance in the opening pages that pulls readers forward to know what will happen and/or if the character will succeed? Does this set the proper tone for the rest of the book? (Don't have a Torture Porn opening if you're then going to do a screwball comedy in the rest of the story.)

And most of all, for the author who is beginning to tell the tale: Can YOU live with this character, love her, root for her, put her through the wringer, for up to a year as you write the book? If not, you'd better go back and rework it so that you DO want to spend time with this person. Because if you don't like this character, readers won't, either.

Oscar Wilde Quote of the Day:
"There are men nowadays who cannot distinguish between the truth and the last thing they happen to have read."

Friday, February 5, 2016

Chapter 1 of the new Ari-Zoe story--quick peek

Here's a peek at the opening of the sequel to MURDER BY THE MARFA LIGHTS.


"How did you find his body?" my sister Zoë asked, not because she wanted to know, but primarily to irritate me.

Tabitha looked around furtively, then spoke in an exaggerated English accent while pretending to peer through fake pince-nez. "Acceptable, my dear Watson."

She and Zoë guffawed. "More than acceptable, surely," Zoë said, setting the bait.

"And don't call me Shirley," added our other lunchmate, Samantha, in a Groucho voice. This sent both of the others into peals of laughter.

"Look over at the next table. The one in the red jacket. Hubba hubba hottie," said Tabatha between chortles. Rather too loudly.

"Cougars," said Samantha. "The kid can't be more than sixteen."

This observation--quite true--led to renewed hysteria.

"Quiet," I finally hissed, even without benefit of any esses. "He'll hear you."

"I don't care if he does, Ari. Men are all crazy." Tabitha dabbed at her eyes with the orange cloth napkin. They do it up right at Zorreia's Tex-Mex, even down to tablecloths of real linen and candles inside screened glass. "Want to hear what Lunkhead said to me after our fight?"

"Even though you're a fat bitch, I love you anyway." Zoë has always been droll.

All three of our companions started crying from the supposed hilarity. "He really didn't say that. Did he really?" Samantha wiped at her eyes with the hem of her tunic.

"Yes, I'm afraid he did." Tabitha nodded, then pantomimed pulling up one's overalls. "Boy howdy, he's a chubby chaser, all right. Always knows just the right thing to say."

"Ranks up there right after 'For a fat girl, you don't sweat much." Sam giggled.

None of us were fat. But it wouldn't matter if we were in Divine's league. Body size and shape did not define a person. Although I was grateful not to be constantly losing the battle of the bulge, at least not yet.

"I prefer the ever-popular 'Does your butt still hurt from where you fell out of Heaven?" Samantha looked at me, as though still believing I would come out with some witticism, or at least half of one.

The waiter interrupted their general hilarity. "Would anyone like to order? Have you heard today's specials?"

Zoë adjusted her half-moon reading glasses (she's far too vain to admit she needs them, so she won't wear bifocals, just gets Wally World cheapies with sparkly purple frames) and began to read, even though she has memorized the items on offer. "You still have the avocado enchiladas? Made with large crescents of avocado?"

"Certainly."

She slammed her menu. "With double rice, no beans. And a large peach iced tea. Unsweetened."

I ordered my usual, veggie quesadillas with a side of guac (which Zoë deplores, terming it "gorilla snot") and the other two got the lunch special, chicken fajitas to share. They'd probably take most of it away in a doggie bag, judging from their dieting obsession. Lucky doggie.

"Well?" My sister raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at me. "What did you think of the waiter? Hottie, or snotty?"

"Shut up," I explained patiently. "You know I hate to categorize people by appearance. He was perfectly adequate. Maybe not the body beautiful of the world, but at least a Doll-Boy." I frowned down at the menu. "But what does it matter to us? We're not in the market."

"Speak for yourself, honey." Samantha's phone rang, and when she read the screen, she rose from the table. "Gotta take this." She headed for the front door.

"Apparently we're not to be privy to her special secrets." Zoë frowned. Surely (Shirley!) she wasn't actually irritated.

"Oh, no," Tabitha said, taking a large sip of her water-with-lemon. "It's probably work, and it's confidential."

"We're not exactly Close Personal Friends," I allowed. "Classmates don't qualify until they've been through initiation."

Zoë inclined her head to agree. "I'm just being mean," she admitted. Typical external behavior, although she was a cream puff inside that steel-clad barrier she'd built for protection.

We had signed up for this travel photography course at Renner Community College on a whim. Actually, I had signed both of us up, thinking it might be a good way to get Zoë out of her house for a change. She hadn't been going out much since we got back from Aaron's funeral in Marfa, and I was afraid she had slipped back into the slough of despond. Of course, she was entitled to, since my nephew Ricky had passed away only two years ago this month. Grief has no timeline. They tell you time heals, but it only makes it recede a little. You never got over something like that.

The class turned out to just barely make, with the only students being Zoë and I, these two (also sisters, although ten years younger at twentysomething than we were at thirtybouncing), and a tall kid who kept his baseball cap (worn forwards, for once) pulled down over his forehead and never said a word. Either reticent, or the FBI plant, we figured. At any rate, we'd looked at each other after the first class and agreed on lunch, and here we were making it a regular appointment. At Zoe's favorite restaurant.

"Anyway, here comes our food," I said in a deliberately cheerful tone. I was going to enjoy myself despite their sexist and appearance-ist conversation, by Zeus.

"Plates are hot," the server warned. And was right. I almost singed my fingers adjusting the platter.

I hadn't even taken a bite when Tab's phone rang and she also rushed out. I shot my sister a significant look.

Hating to not be the center of attention, my phone warbled.

I picked up. "Ari French, how may I help you?" I said without thinking. I'm used to answering phone calls at my job on the help desk at Aqualife, "the fishes' place." Had "Hello" gone out of style?

"Um. Yes," said a strained voice. "Are you the"--the voice consulted a rustling page--"the niece of Agatha French of Rachel, Arizona?"

A spider inched up my backbone. "Yes, I am, at least one of them, I mean."

"I'm sorry to have to be the bearer of ill tidings." The voice went on for a minute or so, but I could barely comprehend it. When it quieted, I thanked it and gently placed the phone on the tablecloth.

Zoe eyed me suspiciously. "What?"

"Aunt Agatha." A heavy sign escaped me. "She's dead."

For once, Zoë was speechless. "Not to put too fine a point on it," she said at last.

"I saw no reason to tease you and drag it out." Slipping my phone back into my purse, I spied our companions returning. "Cheezit until later. No use upsetting them."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Few Instructions--merely offered up

It has come to mah attention that someone is teaching, "Never use ellipses in fiction except to indicate that you are leaving part of the sentence out." **SIGH** Who do these posers think they are, changing the rules of punctuation at whim? This is total bullcorn (as Daddy would say if he knew I was in the room.)

They're talking about when you leave out part of a quotation or summary. You write, "Washington said he chopped down the [...] tree." This indicates you have left out "cherry." (Although I can't figure out why.) You use the brackets with the ellipsis points. This has to be what confused them.

But it's perfectly fine to use ellipsis points when a character is trailing off or stopping for a moment. {Perhaps your perp just realized he was about to give himself away, and has stopped himself to reverse the sentence. "Sure, I was right there when Henry brought the . . . I mean, that silly man! Yeah, that's the ticket! The silly man brought the lunches.") How else would you indicate that your character is trailing off at the end of the dialogue? "I don't know what I think about Henry. . . ."

(Implying that your character needs to think about this, or has more to say but knows it's imprudent to state it.)

Note that it's THREE ellipsis points when you have a pause or a "gasp" sort of stop-and-continue. It's FOUR when you are trailing off, because one of those dots ends the sentence. NEVER is there a proper reason in "real" writing to use more than four points. They must be separated by a space as shown. I don't CARE what Word auto-"corrects" that to. They are wrong. Your manuscript should not have those weird squashed points.

Dashes mean that your character broke off. It isn't like ellipses.
"What are you--stop!"
"Why is he--" "Shut up, everyone!"

See the Harbrace College Handbook, eleventh edition. That one won't steer you wrong.

In other news, are you passionate about something today? What's important to you today? Don't be obnoxious (you'll turn your listeners/readers off, possibly forever.) Don't be mean (in other words, if you are mad at Elaine today, you shouldn't post something nasty about her--that's unjust.) But be bold and speak up if you feel the need. Be nice! But firm. Preach it, sister and brother!

"In Germany, they came first for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me." (Martin Niemöller)

"The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

"The Lord has set apart the Redeemed for Himself. Therefore He will listen to me and answer when I call to Him." (Ps. 4:3)

"If you don't SAY anything, you may be polite, but you're missing the opportunity to correct a wrong." (Shalanna Collins, today)

That is all.