Yes, Fan-fiction is Real Writing

I think one area of the writing world that gets a lot of flak is the fan fiction world. If you were like me (before my scolded me), I felt that Fan fiction was the dregs of the writing world. I not only found out that was unfair but rather cruel to the hard-working writers who live and thrive in that world. I’ll admit, I was one of those “writing snobs” until my beautiful wife put me in my place.

Fan Fiction is Real Writing

Writing is writing. I never thought fan fiction was more than self-gratification  until my wife began to tell me some of the stories that she had read. I could not believe how much detail and dedication that fan fiction writers have put in to their works. There was even a story that was over a million words! I’ve never broken fifty thousand, let alone a million.

There is a lot of dedication to the fan fiction world, more than maybe some of freelance writers have ever put in to our own work. Even though it’s not an original world, many of the stories bear the blood, sweat, and tears of a dedicated writer.

It’s No Different than a Professional or Aspiring Author

When in terms of dedication and being a writer, fan fiction writers are exactly the same as a professional or aspiring author. Many writers, including myself, got started in other people’s worlds and pour the same amount of dedication and heart in to their works. Many times they do not have the ability to get an editor or professionally proof read their works.

Independent publishing can suffer the same amount of editorial error and proof reading mistakes since a lot of us are in the same boat as a fan fiction writer. Unless we’re established with a decent fan base, many of us cannot afford hiring an editor.

They have feelings too

Fan fiction writers are people just like you and me and the horrible amount of critique I have seen from other authors is saddening. There are people behind the story no matter how bad or good it is. To attack a writer’s work is never acceptable. That is why critique is important and should be taken seriously. They deserve the same amount of feedback as we do.

Fan Fiction Writers are a strong knit community

And I am glad of that. My wife has given me a tour of the fan fiction world and they care for each other a lot. They have the advantage of not only having the bonds of being a creator of fan fiction, they also have the love for the world they are writing in.

So the next time you see a fan fiction story, why not give it a shot and if you find issues, give feedback like you would any writer of any story.

3 tips About Dealing with Criticism

I think one of the things that scares writers the most is criticism. I am not just referring to the constructive criticism we like to get but also that comment or complaint haunting our book’s page.

Criticism can be both a blessing and a curse as it exposes your work from the vacuum of your own mind to the thoughts and ideas of the rest of the world.

The biggest reason that authors struggle with criticism is that our writing is an extension of ourselves and we have a tendency to take any positive or negative comment and apply it to ourselves.

Here are a few tips that could help you cope with feedback.

1) Though important, take feedback with a grain of salt. Everyone has their own opinion of writing just like art. If you feel the feedback is just taste, then you can safely move on.

2) If the feedback has points, consider them. Our profession is unending and we are always learning. Your commenter may have some valuable insight that you would have never considered.

3) Ignore the trolls. This is, after all, the internet. There are people who take great pleasure in attacking people for the sake of attacking. If their review is unfair and you can respond, do so in a calm manner. The response is not for the troll but for the future readers that might stumble on your work.

Above all, remember, if you like your work, that is the most important part. It is good to take your reader’s thoughts in mind as they are paying customers in the indie world but the integrity of the work is yours.

Have any thoughts, comments or stories when it comes to feedback? Let me know if the comments below!

Guns or No Guns: How about We use some Common Sense First?

I was about to start this blog post with a comment that I’m not usually political on my blogs, but looking back at the past few posts, I realize that I am much more political than I thought. I guess that I like to write about what is on my mind and I like discussing it with people.
Today, the subject I want to focus on is gun control. I am not going to be writing a piece about which side is better, I want to write and tell you all about the arguments that BOTH sides use that are flat out incorrect or they are cherry picking the data for their own use. It is a sin that is become so common in the TV, social media, and in normal conversation. People are choosing hyperbole and inflammatory language instead of common sense and reason (hence both Mister Trump and Senator Sanders are doing so well in the polls. They are beacons for their side of the inflammatory culture we have today).
I would ask those who are both pro and anti-gun is “what do you want to stop?” Violence or violence caused by guns? The reason I ask is that there is no causal data to show that lowering violence done by guns even lowers the violence overall (Farley). The United Kingdom has virtually no gun crimes in their nation BUT they are the highest for violent crimes and that statement is vague because the United States and the United Kingdom classify violent crime completely different (Bier).
Every study I found has shown that restricted gun ownership may lower the amount of violence done with guns, but it has little to no impact on violent crimes itself (Robertson). The National Research Council has said, “In summary, the committee concludes that existing research studies and data include a wealth of descriptive information on homicide, suicide, and firearms, but, because of the limitations of existing data and methods, do not credibly demonstrate a causal relationship between the ownership of firearms and the causes or prevention of criminal violence or suicide.”(Wellford, Pepper, and Petrie 6).
The issue is not gun violence, or sexual violence, or child violence. It’s violence, plain and simple. The pro and anti-gun proponents are like two firefighters arguing over if a hand held fire hose is more useful to fighting fires than one hooked in to the city system. Meanwhile, the house is burning to the ground. We need to focus on what is important. Violence and work on trying to curb it instead of tools that are used in their commission. You take away guns, people will still find ways to kill each other. Congratulations on lowering gun violence, but you still have yet to make a dent in the violence all around you.
Only when the two mindsets start looking at the preverbal fire and go, “We need to find a way to fight this” instead of fighting over which method is better at fighting, we are still going to have people dying. So, to anti-weapons and pro-weapons, please, stop arguing and work together.
Works Cited
Bier, Daniel. “By the Numbers: Is the UK Really 5 times more Violent than the US?” The Skeptical Libertarian. N.p., 12 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/01/12/fact-checking-ben-swann-is-the-uk-really-5-times-more-violent-than-the-us/>.
Farley, Robert. “Gun Rhetoric Vs. Gun Facts.” FactCheck.org. N.p., 20 Dec. 2012. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <http://www.factcheck.org/2012/12/gun-rhetoric-vs-gun-facts/>.
Robertson, Lori. “Gun Laws, Deaths and Crimes.” FactCheck.org. N.p., 4 Oct. 2015. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <http://www.factcheck.org/2015/10/gun-laws-deaths-and-crimes/>.
Wellford, Charles F, John Pepper, and Carol Petrie. “Executive Summary.” Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. 2nd ed. Washington: National Academies Press, 2005. 1-10. PDF File.

2014: Conceal Carry And Missouri

The successful override of Governor Jay Nixon’s veto for Bill 656 submitted by Senator Will Karus (D) has many gun owners and second amendment activists happy with the changes to the concealed carry laws that Missouri Senate Bill 656 enacts. It has been a long fought battle between both the Republicans and Democrats that has public opinion polarized.
Some of the biggest changes the bill enacts is that it authorizes volunteers in public school to become School Protection Officers.
“SB 656 actually strengthens accountability for guns in classrooms,” Sen. Will Kraus, the sponsor of the bill said in regards to the bill’s passing. “Current law allows school districts to waive a ban on concealed carry in schools for individuals, and at least one district has done so. Now, any teacher designated a School Protection Officer (SPO) will need to undergo 12 hours of training, and twelve additional hours annually. Each school district will decide whether to use SPOs or not.”
It also allows Missourians possessing a valid Concealed Carry permit to utilize open carry in any part of the state no matter the local ordinances.
SB656 also changes other aspects of the state’s firearms law, was also lowering the age for a permit from twenty-one to nineteen and forbids any law that would allow medical personnel to ask if there is a gun in the household and responding to any answer to that question.
            Though there is concern among some organizations at the thought of the state allowing teenagers to open carry firearms, many believe the problem to be more hyperbole than an actual issue. The state Senate and Congress overrode Governor Nixon felt the law took everything in to consideration as the House vote was one hundred and seventeen to thirty-nine and the Senate twenty-three to eight.
            “I think it is great that other states are doing what is right, which is to protect kids, rather than doing what is politically correct,” Rep. Rick Brattin (R) said in regards to the bill.
            “When you are going through that level of training, you shouldn’t be shooting yourself in the foot. We can’t legislate ‘what if’s in every scenario, but I look at it as [these teachers] are receiving the same level of firearms training as a police officer. How many police officers do you hear of shooting themselves in the foot?” Brattin also said in regards to the type of training the SPOs would be getting.
One of the largest concerns about the new law though is not the changes to the concealed carry permit itself, but to the School Protection Officer position. The law allowed the school to keep the identity of the person who is acting as the SPO from being released to the parents and some parents do not like the idea not knowing who will be the one armed in the school.
Melissa Brooks, a member of the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action group, said in an interview, “Reasonable people have differing opinions when it comes to guns— but I think all Missourians can agree that as parents, we have the right to know if there is going to be a gun in our kid’s classrooms.”
In the end, the Missouri law is a step towards not only re-affirming the states belief in the second amendment, but also showing solidarity towards that goal by writing and passing legislation to support the constitutional amendment.
The last test of this law will be if anyone attempts to challenge the law through the Missouri courts, but so far there has been no indication of any such activity. If the law does face the courts and survives, it will show not only the dedication of the Missouri government in protection second amendment freedoms, but also give a precedence for other second amendment states to move ahead with their legislation.

All about Vaccines – An Essay

As a parent, one of the hardest decisions that I have had to make was if I was going to get my children vaccinated. It is not what you think, I’m not a member of the anti-vaccine movement, but I was not immunized as a child by my parent’s persona choice. The biggest reason that this was a hard decision for me, was all the superficial and in some cases, inconclusive information. After a lot of reading and research, I made a decision and I wanted to provide the information to you all.

From my research, the people who dislike vaccines have pointed out three re-occuring themes:
  • The use of Thermisol which can cause Autism. 
  • Vaccinations are only temporary immunity while surviving the disease is a permanent vaccination. 
  • To many vaccinations overload a child’s immune system. 
There are a bunch of other, minor things, but I wanted to cover the major points that many proponents use are the ones listed above. My goal is simply to show you what I have learned so whoever stumbled upon this can make their own educated decision on what they should do with their children. So, please take this article as simply a research essay. All my references will be provided at the bottom. 
1. The use of Thermisol, which can cause Autism. 
One of the first things I have heard by friends and family that oppose vaccines is that they use Thermisol. So what is this thermisol that we hear so much about? Thermisol is a “mercury-containing organic compound” and has been used in preservatives for years in the United States. (CDC, 2014) One of the biggest reasons that people are concerned is the use of the word mercury, as we all know is dangerous in the long term for our bodies. That is where research shows that Thermisol is different. Thermisol, when process by the body becomes a substance called Ethylmercury, which is gotten rid of from the body very quickly, while Methylmercury is the dangerous byproduct of naturally occurring mercury for nature. (CDC, 2014)
So, does that mean it still causes autism? Though there isn’t any scientific proof that Thermisol even caused autism (Luntz, 2014), the point was rendered moot when the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) in cooperation with the Pharmaceutical companies removed Thermisol from vaccines. Since 1999, Thermisol has not been used in vaccines except for the few, rare influenza vaccine preparations. (Offit, 2007)
In discussions that I have had with some co-workers has always brought up the study preformed by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that had supposedly linked MMR vaccine with Autism, but I must point out that his report was discredited years ago as he had a conflict of interest and lied on the report. (Cohen, 2011) The medical journal even retracted the entirety of the article in 2010. (Lancet Editors, 2010)
2. Vaccinations are only temporary immunity while surviving the disease is a permanent vaccination.
I was just a bit skeptical about this one cause I could not only see where proponents were coming from, but this feels like a small scale look at the situation. Yes, one may become stronger for surviving the real decease, but when measles claim 16 people per hour and a 2013 study shows the MMR vaccine has lowered measles deaths by 87%. I think that shows that temporary immunity is better than permanent if more people can survive it. (World Health Organization, 2014)
I am not going to say more on this as there has yet to be any major research projects to end this question with facts. Most of the information I could find are conjecture and even my own words above are just deduction from what I have read. 
3. To many vaccinations overload a child’s immune system. 
The last point I want to cover is the concept of vaccinations overloading our children’s immune systems. This was the biggest concern of mine when it came to my own children. I, personally, do not believe the doctors and companies are coming up with ways to hurt my children, but time has shown us that new technologies and ideas might have unintended consequences. 
What I have found on this subject as scientific study has shown that “In the face of these normal events, it seems unlikely that the number of separate antigens contained in childhood vaccines …would represent an appreciable added burden on the immune system that would be immunosuppressive.” (Stratton, 1994, p. 63)
I think this speaks for itself as I have not found anything to refute the 1994 article.
Ending
All I wanted to do is to provide some research information for my readers or anyone who stumbled upon my blog. Being informed about what people say is the most important thing you can do and to make sure that you can verify what people are telling you when it comes important things like immunizations and your children. May you make your decision, whatever it maybe, wisely and informed! 
 
References
CDC. (2014, August 20). Frequently Asked Questions About Thimerosal (Ethylmercury). Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/thimerosal/thimerosal_faqs.html

Cohen, E., & Falco, M. (2011, January 5). Retracted autism study an ‘elaborate fraud,’ British journal finds. Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/01/05/autism.vaccines/

Editors, Lancet (2010, February 6). Retraction—Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60175-4/abstract

Luntz, S. (2014, May 19). Huge Meta-Study Of Vaccines Reveals No Link To Autism. Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/huge-meta-study-vaccines-reveals-no-link-autism

Offit, P. (2007, September 27). Thimerosal and Vaccines – A Cautionary Tale. Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp078187#t=article

Stratton, K. (1994). Immunologic Reactions. In Adverse events associated with childhood vaccines evidence bearing on causality (p. 63). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

WHO. (2014, November 1). Measles. Retrieved January 29, 2015, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/

Those Great, Not so Secure, Computers We Love!

We love our computers, don’t we? I mean, they have made our everyday life so much easier and being able to play cool games anytime is also a plus! I mean, Star Wars: The Old Republic anybody? So, what am I talking about this blog post? There is a good chance that I just started to ramble on this digital piece of paper with the intent of stealing that precious two kilobytes of bandwidth it took to load this up from you, but that’s not the case….this time.  

Some of you might know that I am pursuing a college degree in Information Systems Security. That is pretty much learning how people can break in to systems, steal and destroy your data. It is scary how easy it is to do! I participated in an online lab for one of my courses that showed me how simple it was. I was able to execute an attack against a port and slip in to the backdoor of a Linux machine and get root privileges! (Pretty much, I controlled that machine). Of course this was a school environment and it was their own computers, so nothing malicious happened, but it was a demonstration that how simply leaving one port open allowed someone to execute an attack that got inside!

Now, I’m not trying to scare you or anything like that. I just wanted to give you food for thought about how insecure computers can be. To leave you with a bit of peace, make sure your windows firewalls are on, you have spyware control on there (I recommend Spybot Search and Destroy) and that you have a virus scanner on there. (I love Norton, but for those of you who are cheap, take a look at AVG Free).
!

Just be careful where you go on the internet and make sure you really want to be clicking on that link. You do not want to accidentally let someone in.