Banned Books Week 2022

Banned Books Week 2022

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Debate rages on about book banning. I believe we can all agree that adults in the United States have the freedom to read whatever they choose to read. Our minds are fully formed at about age 21, according to neuro-science.

X-rated, R-rated, and M-rated movies would not be allowed in public elementary or middle schools because they are considered inappropriate for younger viewers.

If we apply the same standards to literature in school libraries, what is the objection?

banned books week 2022

But let’s consider what reading material is age appropriate for younger readers. We can measure reading comprehension. Students learn to handle increasingly complex levels of vocabulary and sentence structures as they age.

What of content? Movies have ratings based on the subject matter, vocabulary, levels of violence, and sexual content. Lately, I’ve seen warnings in movies about smoking shown in them.

When my daughter was 13, she spent the night at another girl’s house and watched Psycho. She demanded to use the bathtub instead of the shower for six months. This tells me she was not  mentally prepared to handle the level of blood and violence in that movie at that age.

I firmly believe our minds absorb what we feed them. Fear, violence, the glorification of evil in all its forms have an effect on the mind.

library

I support choosing books to support the age level of the reader. I strongly object to banning books because someone wants to rewrite history or condemn past cultures and civilizations.

It is absurd to demand historical novels portray the values of today’s society. They cannot. They reflect the values and conditions of their time. In fact, public outrage over Wilkie Collin’s 1859 book The Woman in White led to changes in British law to protect women with greater legal rights.

Let us educate young minds and encourage creativity and freedom of thought without burdening kindergartners to decide on their future sex lives or set their identities in cement.

Teach the Golden Rule–to treat one another the way we want to be treated–along with math, science, history, language, social studies, art, and sports.

Leave out the race-shaming, revisionist history, and vogue social agendas. We don’t allow religion in public schools, so how about if we stop forcing opposite value systems on kids?

We are falling behind other nations scholastically. Less indoctrination. More basic education.

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Space Coast Writer’s Guild Hosts Editing Workshop

Space Coast Writer’s Guild Hosts Editing Workshop

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The Space Coast Writer’s Guild hosted me to lead a workshop “Editing Down to the Bones” in Melbourne, Florida.

My best advice is don’t bother editing until you complete the first draft.

If that’s all anyone learned from the workshop, then follow it and you will thank me. I know writers who have rewritten their first chapter for years and never finished the book. You cannot judge the value of that first chapter until you can look back from the perspective of the last chapter. You might end up throwing away that first chapter!

There, there. This may come as a terrible shock, but you will discard much of that first draft, because the first draft helps you find the story, discover the characters, and shape the action. That first draft is not the final product. Think of it as fertilizer out of which your beautiful story will grow. Nobody picks up a cello for the first time and plays Vivaldi. After you write your first million words, you will learn how to shorten the process of reaching that finished product. Statistically speaking, you will write five novels before you write one worth publishing.

Author Joni M. Fisher connects her laptop to the overhead projector.

We discussed how the story’s structure is the foundation for the story. Is it sturdy? Is it complete? Does it have the elements of the bestsellers in your genre?

For further reading on structure, become familiar with what the experts of storytelling have to say.

I recommend buying a hard copy of these books because they will become your reference books.

open book emitting lights

Other topics covered in the workshop were:

  • choosing a point of view—whose story is it?
  • composing scenes by cause and effect
  • ordering scenes for maximum impact
  • establishing the story question and when to answer it
  • using the value of setting
  • choosing the types and levels of conflict
  • discerning scene from sequel
  • timing the use of backstory, flashbacks, and transitions
  • developing sensory details and fact-checking
  • crafting figures of speech and imagery
  • setting the pace
  • proofreading and line editing with critique partners and professionals.

Thank you, Space Coast Writer’s Guild, for hosting my workshop. All the best to you!

If your writer’s group seeks workshop presenters on dialogue, editing, or writing for magazines, see my Events page.

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Unpublished East of Evil is a semi-finalist!

Unpublished East of Evil is a semi-finalist!

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Sooooo, I submitted my manuscript to the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest because the judges give wonderful feedback on what they like and what they see needs improvement.

The Compass Crimes series overlaps a few categories, so I entered it in two–Mystery or Crime and Thriller or Suspense.

East of Evil is a semi-finalist in the 2022 Royal Palm Literary Awards
East of Evil is a semi-finalist in the 2022 Royal Palm Literary Awards

East of Evil is a semi-finalist in the unpublished Mystery or Crime AND Thriller or Suspense categories.

This may seem like a small thing in the big scheme of life, but I am embracing it because I really needed good news.

My mother–my most devoted fan–passed away last week. Calling family and friends to tell them is soul-crushing. All have been kind.

My best friend and an uncle and aunt are traveling from afar to spend the weekend, which will be healing.

Thank you to everyone on social media, at church, and elsewhere for your kindness.

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East of Evil Cover Chosen

East of Evil Cover Chosen

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Thank you, readers! You have chosen the cover for East of Evil. Nefi is back and her life is turned upside down by a crime she needs help from her friends to solve.

East of Evil cover chosen

A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process makes her the target of dangerous people…

Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her mom and dad’s heartless killer, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice Master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar trust from her late parents… with a hefty chunk gone.

Seeking the help of a forensic accountant, Nefi is dismayed to discover a cunning thief has been stealing from her inheritance. And with her legacy at stake, the hidden enemy’s scheme to swipe her cash could turn deadly.

Can Nefi restore her parent’s wealth before her investigation turns fatal?

What do you think of this book trailer?

money

East of Evil is the fourth book in the page-turning Compass Crimes suspense series. If you like strong heroines, greed-driven motives, and jaw-dropping twists, then you’ll love Joni M Fisher’s hunt for the truth.

The cover was created by the artists at Damonza.com. After readers and fans voted on their favorite of two cover choices, it was decided that the Nefi figure in one cover and the Boston Harbor background were the favorite elements, sooooooo the best of both was combined. 

And the result is this cover. Thank you, everyone for your feedback!

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East of Evil Needs a Cover

East of Evil Needs a Cover

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Nefi Jenkins dreams of becoming an FBI agent. After outing her mom and dad’s heartless killers, the Harvard grad focuses on getting into a stellar criminal justice Master’s degree program. But her career goals take a back seat when she inherits a ten-million-dollar trust from her late parents… with a hefty chunk gone.

A colossal fortune. A secret reaper. A young woman whose drive for due process might land her on the wrong side of a lethal bullet…

Seeking the help of a forensic accountant, Nefi is dismayed to discover a cunning thief has been stealing from one of the estate’s properties. And with her legacy at stake, the hidden enemy’s scheme to swipe her cash could turn deadly.

Can Nefi restore her parent’s wealth before her investigation turns fatal?

East of Evil is the fourth book in the page-turning Compass Crimes suspense series. If you like strong heroines, greed-driven motives, and jaw-dropping twists, then you’ll love Joni M Fisher’s hunt for the truth.

East of Evil cover art
East of Evil cover art B

Please vote for the cover you like best, and if you have a moment, explain why. Thank you for your help!

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Space Coast Writer’s Guild Hosted Workshop

writers gather for a workshop

Thank you, Space Coast Writer’s Guild for hosting my workshop “Crafting Memorable Dialogue.” This talented group has about one-third of its members published and the current President is Joanne Fisher.

After the workshop, lively questions and discussion continued. Five writers won a critique of the first 8,000 words of their manuscript. I will apply the workshop techniques to these manuscripts and email them back ASAP.

I look forward to seeing this group again on August 20 for a 2-hour workshop on editing.

Write on!

 

Joni M Fisher leads a workshop on dialogue
Joni M Fisher conducts a workshop on dialogue