The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for the ‘Aliens Read Weird Stuff’ Category

The Rapture Happened and I’m Still Here

Harold Egbert Camping (Yes, that is his middle name)

According to 89-year-old Harold Camping, the Rapture actually happened, but in a “spiritual” way. Since I’m not feeling spiritually rapturous, that must mean I’m Left Behind. That actually makes me pretty happy. In a spiritual sort of way.

Yep, as a very left-leaning-liberal-lotus-sitting Christian, I’m pretty glad to be here with all the rest of you non-Raptured folks. The Rapture, the belief that Jesus is coming and will float all the “good” people up to heaven naked so the End Times can occur, has no appeal to me whatsoever. First, I’m not going to be naked in front of strangers for any reason. Second, my experience of some folks who believe in the Rapture is that they have an ulterior motive.

And that motive is not to convert folks to belief in Jesus.

My first Rapture-ready acquaintance was a woman who did day care a short distance down the road from me. Since she was close, and I was in need of a new provider for my 4-year-old daughter, I did a test drive. Attention parents: Never leave your kid with a stranger for hours on end the first time. Try it for just a couple of hours. AFTER you check references.

Anyway, I left my daughter with this woman while I went to the grocery store and ran a few errands. I was gone two hours. When I came back, the kids were playing horsey, with a rope, around a child’s neck. I put an end to that and went into the house (yes, the kids were outside without supervision) to pay the woman. There I found her “disciplining” a little girl by making her stand with her nose in a corner for an HOUR! A four-year-old.  So, I guess you know my kid was never going back.

This was during the time when, as a Lenten discipline, I challenged myself to wear a cross, visibly, every day for the whole of Lent. Talk about a challenge for a closeted Christian closeted lesbian out journalist.  Anyway, the woman sees my cross, and sensing a kindred spirit, proceeds to tell me about the Rapture and the End Times and how she can’t wait. Why, I naively (and somewhat snarkily) ask.

She says, “I just can’t wait to sit in Heaven and watch the sinners roast in hell.” Oh. My. God.

Some people just need people to be “beneath” them, and this women had this trait to the extreme. She thought heaven was a ringside seat to Hell. Hell-o?!?!

I suspect that at least some of Camping’s followers suffer from that same insecurity. If they don’t feel good enough about themselves, then they need a God to validate them. As long as that God doesn’t validate those they believe are not good enough, or beneath them.

I fit that category in so many ways. Right off the bat, I’m lesbian. Then I’m a liberal Christian and a Unitarian to boot. I vote Democrat most of the time. I actually support new taxes. I’m appalled at how backward the US is compared to the rest of the first world in so many ways (including the ridiculously low taxes we pay. There, I said it.) I think kids SHOULD attend public school and be exposed to all sorts of things. I even took my children on field trips so they could be exposed to things and people they didn’t get to meet in their home village. I don’t believe in the Rapture. Although I always thought the bumper sticker was pretty funny. You know the one. “In Case of Rapture, This Vehicle Will be Unmanned.” I put that bumper sticker in the category with the one that said, “If the Car’s A’Rocking, Don’t Come A’Knocking.” Don’t know why. Just did.

Does this guy look like a rocket scientist to you?

Oh, there was that one time. Back in August of 1989, some guy named Edgar Whisenant predicted the world would end on September 1st, 1989. Mind you, he’d already predicted (and written a book about it) that the world would end September 1st, 1988. But he claimed, you guessed it, a math error. And this guy was a rocket scientist. Well, a retired rocket scientist. As in used to work for NASA. A REAL rocket scientist (hmmm….now I’m wondering if he was responsible for the misplaced comma that caused all that trouble?!?).

Anyway, he predicted that there was a 96 percent chance the world would end in 1989. Then, just in case he was wrong again, he raised that to 97 percent for 1990, 98 percent for 1991, and so on until he hit 100 percent in 1993. FOUR MORE CHANCES TO BE WRONG!

How do I know all this? Well, I cut the article out of the Oregonian, if you must know. This was just too weird to let

Formerly available at Amazon; Currently unavailable. Must be a collector's item.

pass and I have kept it, in my WELL-READ Bible, all these years. Yes, I have actually read the Bible. Several times. Took notes, underlined, my RSV Bible needs duct tape to hang together.

So, there I was, on Friday, September 1st, having forgotten all about it. Driving home from the dentist. I’m in a bit of a rush, because I set off a bug bomb that morning because of a major flea infestation (we also had plagues of tree frogs and slugs in our house. Don’t ask. Just more proof that I’m among the damned.) The kids were at school, but I had to be home in time to keep them from going into the house. Oh, and I was pregnant. Very pregnant. That probably played into what followed.

So, I’m on the freeway. And the freeway stops. Not grinds to a stop. STOPS. I’m thinking there’s a wreck so I turned on the radio. Nothing. I checked the overpass sign. Nada. Not a wreck. Then it hits me! It’s the Rapture. All the cars are suddenly unmanned except mine. I’ve been Left Behind. In spite of the cross, in spite of all that Bible reading. (Did I mention I was VERY pregnant at the time?)

When I started to think rationally, I noticed that other drivers were also left behind. In fact, all of them were left behind. Relief. Of course, now I had to figure out how to get off the stopped freeway, get to a phone, and call someone to go keep my kids from being poisoned by the bug bomb.  Remember, it’s 1989. No cell phones. To make a long story short, I pissed some people off by forcing my way across two lanes of traffic, then backing up on the shoulder to get to the off ramp. They probably wanted to watch ME burn in hell. But, the kids were rescued. I’m still here.

And I am still here. And so are you. Until October 21, 2001. Because Harold Camping made a mistake. And not his first. Back in the early 21st century it was a math error that undid him. Oddly enough, he is also an engineer. Went to Berkeley. What is it with rocket scientists and the end of the world, anyway?

E is for Electricity

In addition to all the great photos taken of my gorgeous granddaughter, Wonder Babe, some foolio took a picture of this. Yes. This was in the delivery room.

So, today a shout out to electricity. Not just in delivery rooms, but in my house, and out on the road, and everywhere. Without it, I’d be dead (it takes electricity to jump start a heart), my daughter would most likely be brain damaged (thank you, fetal monitor), and I wouldn’t be writing this. At least not on a computer. And given the state of the arthritis in my hand from a slight accident on a two-wheeled motorized vehicle that will not be discussed but did involve casts and things, I’d not be writing at all if it weren’t for my ergonomic keyboard, and occasionally my voice recognition software.

Of course, electricity is problematic. Think Fukushima, Japan. But a guy named Nikola Tesla, a contemporary of Edison and Westinghouse, figured out a way to give free electricity to everyone with no need for an intermediary source. Unfortunately, corporate America owned his soul (and more importantly his patents) even back around the turn of the last century. Makes me wonder what other miracles are out there being hidden away.

Read more about Tesla and the early days of commercial electricity (not counting Ben Franklin and that whole kite/key thing) here.

Or read the first book I ever read about the man here. There are plenty of other books about him as well, but back in 1972, there was just one. But you owe it to your self and future generations to know about this guy. And, I believe, he still holds the record for number of patents awarded.

 

This post brought to you by elephants, eccentrics, endomorphs, eagles, and elementals. Also by the numbers eight and eighty-eight.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | January 28, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  |  JANUARY 24, 2011

For additional information contact Renée LaChance

lachance@puddletowngroup.com

Upstart e-Publisher Makes a Splash

Puddletown Publishing Group, an e-Publisher based in the Portland, Oregon metro area, announces its formation. Beginning in March 2011, Puddletown Publishing Group will release multiple titles formatted cross-platform for digital readers.

Founded by Susan Landis-Steward, Lisa Nowak, and Renée LaChance, Puddletown Publishing Group is adopting a business model that favors authors and embraces digital as the preferred method of content delivery for an author’s work.

The buzz in the traditional publishing world is that paper books and publications are going the way of 8-track and cassette tapes. Ebooks are destined to garner a large portion of publishing revenue, claiming one-third of all book sales in 2010, up from one half of one percent in 2009. Amazon.com announced in 2010 that sales of ebooks exceeded hardcover sales. Barnes and Noble announced in January 2011 that ebooks exceeded paperback sales on its website. Since last year’s release of the NOOKcolor and iPad, the evolution of ebooks has surprised publishing insiders and those outside the industry as well. The Jan. 3, 2011 Publisher’s Weekly cites a memo by the CEO of Simon and Schuster, Carol Reidy, where she states 2010 “is the year publishing changed irrevocably.”

“E-publishing is the wave of the future.” Landis-Steward says, “We want to get up on the board before the wave crests.”

“After pursuing traditional publishing and hearing that my writing is excellent but the subject matter doesn’t ‘fit the list’ of various agents and editors,” says Nowak. “I began looking into going directly to ebooks. The more research I did, the more I realized this is a viable option for most authors, whether they’re established or just starting out. It’s also an excellent option for traditionally published authors with a backlist of books that are no longer in print. Dead tree publishers have been gatekeepers to what readers can access. It’s time for that to change.”

Puddletown Publishing Group is modeling itself to be a part of that change. It will strive to influence the industry as an early adopter of the digital delivery system and create a market for new and established authors. Puddletown Publishing Group will partner with other small presses to get their author-branded backlists available on digital readers.

Landis-Steward, Nowak and LaChance bring decades of experience to the group.

Landis-Steward has worked in editing and writing for many years and brings two decades of strong journalism background to the group as well. She currently owns a writing, copyediting, and indexing business and is almost done with her Masters in Publishing at Portland State University. She has various other degrees, including a Masters in Spiritual Traditions and Ethics.

Nowak has 15 plus years experience as a small business owner, a strong background in reading, writing, and editing Young Adult fiction, and an established social network in children’s literature.

LaChance is an entrepreneur with business experience in editing, publishing and marketing. She is the co-founder of Just Out Newsmagazine and Out Media, Inc. Just Out is Oregon’s queer newsmagazine and Out Media was an advertising agency, event producer and publishing house based in Portland in the 1980s and 1990s. For the past 10 years she has worked doing copyediting, copy writing, publishing and creating graphics as LaChance Creative.

“We are very excited about our new venture and feel ebook publishing maximizes our combined skill set,” says LaChance. “I am impressed with the caliber of the authors we are already working with and I look forward to a Puddletown Publishing Group title on the New York Times Best eBook Sellers list.”

lachance@ | lisanowak@ | susanls@ | puddletowngroup.com

— 30 —

Monday, Monday

If you can get to my Facebook page, go check out the new video of Emma Sofia, the Wonder Babe. I’d post it but my daughter took it with her phone and it’s in a weird format.

So, the big news is almost ready to share. We’re getting closer and closer to launch. Got our email addresses and access to the cpanel for the website today. I am so psyched. It’s all I can do to work every day. All I want to do is work on the new thing. And I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Hard to believe we came up with this just 15 days ago. We being me and Renee LaChance.

If you know Renee, that might give you SOME idea of what we’re up to. If you know both of us, you might have even greater clues. Hint: It’s something we both do well, but not necessarily both of us doing the same thing. Although we will be doing the same thing. Confused? Good. Oh, and she did this for 15 years….sort of. And I’ve been working on this for several years and almost have a master’s in the part I haven’t been doing for the past 30 or so years. Oh, and if you were at Mar and VA’s open house, you were there at the birth. Just to make it more confusing, Kay Perret, this one’s for you! You always said I’d do it some day…..

I guess you could Google Renee for other hints. Or just wait a few days.

Wednesday's Words: Book Review: Silver Thaw by Amy Rose Davis

I am currently spending a lot of time reading e-pub books. For those not in the know, e-publishing is the wave of the future. Don’t worry. I don’t see the demise of the book any time soon, but e-publishing takes the power away from New York publishers and puts it where it belongs: with the writers.

Anyway, my friend Lisa recommended an author named Amy Rose Davis. I hunted her down on the ‘net and downloaded, for a minimal price, her novella, Silver Thaw. First off, living in the land of the silver thaw, I have to say I love the title. Davis lives in this area too, I believe, and chose the right title. A silver thaw, as I said yesterday, is beautiful but deadly.  And that’s what this story is.

Basically a retelling of ancient myth, the story revolves around a mysterious girl with a voice that can…well, read it and find out. At 28,ooo words, this book is an evening’s easy read. It’s a beautiful story, beautifully written. This last is important because a lot of self-published books are shoddily written, with little to no editing, and the reader is the last to know, after she’s plunked down her money. But I found this little book a gem.

Davis has a book coming out soon, also self-published, called Ravenmarked. I will definitely buy it. It’s authors like Davis that are going to give self-publishing a great reputation.

Three Theological Things: The Funniest Profound Books Ever

I heard Christopher Moore on NPR the other day, talking about his new book. The commentator, who I should know but don’t because I have terminal CRS disease, asked him about his earlier book Lamb, the story of Jesus’ missing years told from the point of view of his best friend, Biff. Right there you know it’s going to be funny. And if you are a fan of Moore, the man who brought us some of the most bizarre vampire stories, carnivorous mobile homes, and stupidest angels ever, you know you are right. Lamb is laugh-out-loud funny, and I find out, now required reading in many seminaries. Now that is cool!

Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt is a cross between Christopher Moore, Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, and the Three Stooges. A romp across three continents, in search of a newly discovered Gospel, the book is both theologically imaginative and totally bizarre. And God, played by Himself, is a main character, one who will have you laughing out loud.

Right now I’m reading A.J. Jacob’s The Year of Living Biblically. While the other two books are fiction, this is brutally honest non-fiction at its best. If you’ve read Jacob’s first book, The Know-it-All, his chronicle of the year he spent reading his way through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, you know what I’m talking about.  Jacobs, a secular Jew and writer for the Atlantic Monthly, sets out to follow all the laws in the Bible as faithfully as possible.  His long-suffering wife has to endure a booth, for the Feast of Booths, built in their Manhattan apartment, her husband’s attempt to avoid all contact with her and anything she has touched during her menses, and a full-year’s worth of beard, increasingly odd clothing, attempts to keep holy the Sabbath, and generally strange events, all while trying to raise a young son. During the course of the year, with regular visits with pastors and rabbis who serve as a motley crew of advisors on all things religious, Jacobs has mulitple epiphanies about the life of faith.

Read them if you need a good laugh or if you just want to get a new perspective on your own faith.

Five things I’m grateful for today:

  • Sun. Finally. Sun.
  • A friend who took me to lunch to cheer me up
  • A comfy bed for a much-needed catch-up nap
  • Jenny’s promise to let me get a motorcycle if I lose some weight
  • A cat that says I misunderstand her

A New Goal

A. J. Jacobs is insane. He wrote a book called The Know-It-All which chronicles his  time spent reading the whole Encyclopedia Britainica. The book is fabulous and his index is hysterical. So there is goal one. I’m going to index each of my novels, just to be, well, novel. Now he has another book, The Year of Living Biblically which chronicles exactly what it says. I have yet to read this one but can’t wait until I get a chance.

In the face of these monstrous challenges, my new goal will seem small and paltry. But I have 1,327 songs on my G1 phone (that’s the T-Mobile version of the iPhone) and I intend to listen to every one of them at least once. Since most of us are creatures of habit, and listen to the same favorites over and over, this will be a new thing for me. Some of that stuff on there I’ve never even heard.

I know it is small, but that is what I’m gonna do.

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