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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where I Am At: Progress Report

Crossed a milestone: All 4 books of the serial together have crossed the 300,000 word boundary. I still have to finish rewriting the last chapter of book #3 and all of book #4. Book #4 is still back at the MS3 manuscript level. So I suspect I will end up at 310,000 to 330,000 words for the 4 book serial. I hope I have the opportunity to continue the series after the 4 book serial has been completed. One day I would like to say the series is half a million words strong. But for now, I need to finish up Book #3. After the rewrite is finished, I will have to take an editing pass on it, and then get it off to the professional editor. I need to get the artist/layout person to finish book #1 and book #2 so I can put them into production and put them up on Amazon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hot off the pen sample of Book #3 Chapter 19

Here some more writing, hot off the pen, so excuse the flaws. This is part of a thread I added to bring some of the political thriller aspect out in the book. It is kind of unique in that this contained in an otherwise science fiction/fantasy blend. It gives it a unique flavor. 

Here is the sample:

“Another brown-coated man walks up to him and says, “There’s a snake on the bench against the wall over there.”

Mr. Daugherty looks and sees a man sitting quietly dressed in a black suit with a black overcoat. The man has gray hair and is holding a black walking cane topped with a shiny silver handle embossed with a gryphon carving. He mentally gasps, “It’s Mc Pherson! Why would they send an assassin? He’s in country so at least he won’t be carrying any weapons, hopefully.” He walks up to the man and yells, “As I breath, you are certainly an ugly bloke.”

“Ah Daugherty. I see the Prime Minister has let his throne out to take a walk around the block. Come use this fine piece of institutional wood to rest your dead-weight.”

Mr. Daugherty sits down beside him and Mc Pherson’s emotionless head rotates like a tank turret bringing the battery of his icy cold stare to bear.

“So why has the Den taken such an interest in the internal affairs of the Prime Minister,” asks Mr. Daugherty. “I believe this is out of your jurisdiction.” The internal government nickname for Mc Pherson’s department was the Den of Snakes.

“I believe escorting aliens, possibly very dangerous aliens, across the country to one of our nation’s treasured resources bears monitoring, especially if those actions are potentially treasonous.”

“Oh don’t flatter yourself. This endeavor has the full backing of the Prime Minister.”

“I’m sure somewhere a nice cell with a gold-plated lavatory has already been arranged for him. You’re participating in a dangerous endeavor, my friend.”

“How dangerous could it be escorting a pair of teenage kids to see a university. I’m still waiting for the thunder.”

“I’m sure by now you have slithered your way in and retrieved a copy of the threat assessment report by that American, Ed Harris. He says that those kids carry enough energy to literally reduce Parliament to a pile of rubble. I don’t believe the latest teen energy drinks pack quite that kind of punch. The department thinks that these kids’ presence in the country places us in great danger.”

Mr. Daugherty shakes momentarily with a suppressed shiver. He mentally gasps, “They haven’t sent him to monitor—they have sent him on an errand!” His mind races searching for a solution. “I mustn’t let him succeed. I’ve only tried it once. It was an accident when I did it. I don’t know why, but I know it will work again.”

Mc Pherson notices Mr. Daugherty’s concealed nervousness. He places his hand on Mr. Daugherty’s shoulder. “Don’t worry my friend. I know you haven’t the stomach for this sort of thing. I don’t even want you to be there when it happens. You have that wonderful son of yours. Once you run this little errand, take a few days with him. Remind yourself of why England must be protected, even when extraordinary measures are required. The Den will tell the Prime Minister that they have borrowed you for a few days for a special assignment. It might even impress the old bastard—make him respect you even more.

“We have set up a building next to the University—labeled it with the proper markings. Ed Harris has supplied us with the proper tools. We have set them up in the building. He has given us his expert assurance that it will be painless and quick. They will not know what hit them and neither will any of their friends, if they have any. Now is the proper time, before anyone is aware of their existence.”

“What about their parents?”

“That American girl’s mom already thinks she has run off. I’m sure Ed can fan those flames. The boy’s mom, well, she is a shopkeeper. She will do as she is told or meet destiny on uncertain terms. Her husband died of radiation, I suspect. We can simply ensure she meets the same fate. It will work out well. We can blame the aliens for killing her. That will turn the tide in our favor. Nothing scares sissy bureaucrats more than ‘undetected poison’ and ‘radiation’ on the same report line.”

(C) Copyright 2011 by Rusty Biesele, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another Rant about Gifted Education

I am sorry for those who opened this blog posting expecting to see more on gifted fiction or for tidbits about the four novels of mine cranking through the pipeline. This particular post doesn’t contain that. What it contains is another rant about gifted education. I am not an expert on this subject, this is just my opinion.

There is such a tangle about the definition of giftedness, whether or not giftedness is really a talent developed, whether or not the tools developed for gifted education can be applied to the normal classroom, whether gifted education can be justified by developing methods that improve the nongifted classroom, and on and on.

Giftedness is doing exceptional work or the potential to do exceptional work. Not really. Defining like that sounds like a slavery contract in that if you don’t do exceptional work or can’t be “fixed” to do exceptional work, then no one cares about you simply because you are not useful to the “others” (read in some cases, people who plan to use a gifted person for a particular purpose).

Giftedness truly means that your brain is wired differently—that you experience the stimulus of the world or think about the problems of the world in a wonderfully exhilarating way. If you want to identify a new gifted student, find a gifted student who is a little older and have them spend a little time with the new student. Then take the older student aside and ask them, “Do you think that kid is gifted?” If they say yes, it’s very likely they are. If older student says “I don’t know”, then they probably are (maybe 2e). If they say no, it’s likely they are not. Why? Gifted kids want other kids to be gifted. They don’t want to be a sole oddity. How can they tell? Beats me. They probably detect the different thinking pattern, that different wiring. In any case, one common experience among teens I’ve talked to is that they can just tell. They don’t know why. I’ve had similar experiences. There are a lot of people living in Silicon Valley who have never heard of gifted identification. So they are unidentified. Yet, in a crowd, they can find each other. You just know.

With respect to trying to show people the wonders of how the methods of gifted education could be applied to educating  nongifted people, give it up, they don’t want to hear about it. There are two aspects to this. The first can be demonstrated by this analogy: “I have a new teaching technique for the mentally disabled that will revolutionize the nondisabled classroom.” *Cough* But it’s different for gifted! Not really. First you have to get the people buy into the whole giftedness is a good thing. They may not say anything negative, after all, they are supposed be thinking of the kids. But really in their minds they are thinking:

      1.      Gifted kids disrupt the flow of cramming information into the skulls of the other kids. That is, after all, what is truly required to make them pass the test.
      2.      Gifted kids are discipline problems. They have that whole bored thing going on. “They don’t have the self discipline to control themselves, take what they can get like the rest of the kids and behave properly.”
      3.      Gifted kids, like the mentally disabled, cost extra money. However, if the mentally disabled aren’t taught to be self sufficient, then society will bear the burden of caring for them. It’s a strong threat. A gifted kid can “choose” to be self sufficient if they “want to”.

Secondly, people recognize the “new technique”, no matter how wonderful it may be, as a thin veil for begging. Begging means you have tried every way possible to get resources for gifted education, been told no, and now you are trying this. Many extinct animals are fond of this method. The environmental movement generalized their existence to many wonderful things that would be lost if they were gone.

The talent development trap: If you equate developing a gifted student to developing talent then you bury the different wiring issue. You start to get articles like the one recently where someone claimed that they could teach any kid to be gifted. It’s just a matter of developing a talent, right? It’s such a pleasing way to look at things, like spraying hair spray into a paper bag and taking a huge whiff—first you get a pleasurable jolt and then a mental numbness that lasts for the rest of your life.  You see with the talent argument: “Everyone can perform so much better if their talent is developed. We try to find ways to develop talent so that everyone can perform at a higher level. There is only so much development that can be done with current budget, but we hope to find ways to get increased resources or more efficient ways of teaching to make an impact and improve our student’s talent every year.” A pleasing way to put the following: “We have minimized the permanent damage we are doing to gifted kids minds. We hope every year we do less damage.”

Some people who are performing this damage are nice, well intentioned people. Some really try hard to help the gifted. But the facts are the facts: If the needs aren’t met, the damage occurs. I know that for me, some of the places where damage occurred were in classrooms where I liked the teacher (upper elementary). She was nice and she was trying her best to meet mine and sometimes 2 or 3 other kids needs. I certainly never told her what her classroom was doing to me. What was the point? It would just hurt her. She was out on a limb as far as she could go. Yet, if the needs aren’t met, damage occurs.

I showed a few gifted teens the article on “Making a kid gifted.” The response was, “If they knew what giftedness was really about, would they still want to make their kid into a gifted kid.” It a poignant question because one thing many gifted kids desire is the owner’s manual for their giftedness. It’s that different wiring…

So why go off on this rant? Here it is: Too much talk about the gifted is abstract, idea centered talk. There is not enough pull up the sleeves and do what can be done right now. At least that is my perception.  Some of those gifted kids (the older ones) will be reading those papers to figure out why damage is occurring.

Stop debating issue about how to define giftedness or how to identify it or what to call giftedness or trying gain approval from outside the gifted community. Stop begging and start doing. Forget the outside world. If we can’t find enough support within the gifted community to support what needs to be done at a practical level, then who are we anyway?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Excerpt from Book #3 Chapter 18

I have been distracted by a lot of things lately but I have still managed to write some more material to go into the rewrite of Book#3. Paul1 and Paul25 are the 9 year old adopted alien sons of Tova2 and Stefan. Her is an excerpt hot off the pen:

Paul25 gently grasps Tova2’s head and slowly turns it toward him. Her hostile expression melts when her eyes meet Paul25’s. “Mom, this is hard for Dad to tell you. Please listen to him. He needs your love.”

Tova2 releases a long sigh. She turns toward Stefan, grabs his shoulders, and pulls him close. She feels a slight quivering from him and realizes that he has been quietly crying. Her mind frantically searches for the magic to stop Stefan’s crying.

She puts her arms around him, pulling his head tightly, burying it within her chest; he sniffles, “I am not a crippled Tiny Tim. I am a fairy—strong empathy is not a weakness.”

She grabs his shoulders, pushing him away far enough to look into his eyes. “You heard!”

“Everybody heard all those hateful things you thought. You know my mind reading talent has been improving. Mum grabbed the thoughts from my head and rebroadcast them to everyone.”

“But Stefan…”

“But what? Do you think that after my entire life I would just jettison my bond with my Mum? Haven’t you ever heard of a mother-son bond?

“But why did you share?”

“You know it’s part of my fairy nature. Sometimes I can’t help it, especially when I feel like people are being unjustly treated.”

Tova2 mentally worries, “He is cracking. He’s talking about fairies again. He’s nuts like his mother.” She sees Stefan hang his head again with tears dripping to the ground; it jolts her as she remembers Stefan can hear her thoughts. She feels a tapping on her left shoulder. She turns her head to look, only to stare Paul1 straight in the eyes.

“Mom, I have thoroughly analyzed Dad’s mind and he is not nuts,” says Paul1 with an indignant air of confidence. “And he is a fairy. You should believe that. And though you might not like it Mom,  I have analyzed your mind thoroughly too. You might want tidy it up a bit because there is a lot of stuff floating around in there. You are a fairy too. You need to believe me.” He flips upside down, floating in mid-air, nodding his head continuously.

Stefan begins shaking. He raises his face and it is filled with teary laughter. “First, you are such a loose screw.”

Tova2 sighs and shakes her smiling face. She points her palms at Stefan. “Now can we?”

“You realize that sharing will be involved? That even the Pauls will feel this?”

“Yes, yes, they always do. Can we get on with it?”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book #3 Chapter 16 Sample

I've been working on rewriting book#3 and adding new material. This a sample hot off the pen. Paul25 is an immortal 9 yr old from the planet Sophista (he looks human). Jenny is a Federation police officer who doesn't believe he is immortal. He is proving it by linking to her mind and showing her his experience on Earth as a cabin boy on a sailing ship in the late 1700's. The stars on the paragraphs denote the mental experience vs. present reality.

* The scene changes and the captain is sitting up against a mooring post of the dock in the deserted darkness, gasping for breath. A little finely made wooden box is next to him. Paul25 is sitting on the ground, frantically, tearfully wiping the captain’s forehead with a damp handkerchief.

* A rough looking man walks up to the captain. “Let me see whatcha got in that there box.”

* “Be off ye scoundrel,” yells the captain, gasping and coughing afterward.

* The man pulls out a knife; Paul25 points his finger at the man—a lightning bolt with the intensity of the core of Zeus burns its way through the air, plummeting into the assailant’s heart. His body erupts with thousands of tiny sparks, sizzling and crackling like the hairs of death; he wails in a cracking voice as the terrified child within dies in a searing fit. He leaps into the air, slamming the ground, and begins to flop around like a freshly caught fish until the stillness of the North Atlantic cold overtakes him.

* “I’m dun fur lad,” groans the captain, in agony. “Now I know why ya been such a good cabin boy. Ye's a sea fairy. I always hoped I’d see one. When I’m dun, ye take my box. Git some good man to show ya how to use it. You can sail the seas. I’d know you’d be a good captain, you would.”

* Paul25 says, “You can’t die here now, alone.”

* The captain takes Paul25’s hand with his shaking hand. “I’m not alone. Ye’s always been me faithful sea fairy. Ye’s the best cabin boy I’d ever have. If I’d a married some fine wench, I’d wish I’d have a son like you.”

* Before the captain can get another sentence out he collapses, coughs one last burst of blood, and is dead.

The link ends and some tears are coming down Paul25’s eyes. Jenny is just standing there, staring at Paul25. He looks at her with the tears of a begging child—a child begging not be soiled by the public revelation of his grim deed of reaping.

“He was a really nice man,” sniffles Paul25. “I didn’t want him to die. It was so terrible. He had no family, no one. I had to stay with him. He would have been so lonely.”
(C) Copyright 2011 by Rusty Biesele, All Rights Reserved.