How are Bill Clinton’s Affairs Relevant?

September 30, 2016

Trump & ClintonWith Donald Trump threatening to bring up Bill Clinton’s extramarital affairs in his next presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, we’re sensibly asking why he’d even go there. How is it relevant?

In the interests of fairness, let’s take a couple minutes to examine the subject. (Make sure to place the half of your brain into neutral that’s screaming about Trump’s supreme hypocrisy. Why yes, he did cheat on his first wife. Why yes, he’s been accused multiple times of sexual assault, even child rape.)

If I understand correctly, the critique of Hillary’s behavior falls along two main themes.

First, Hillary supposedly wanted to cover up these affairs because they threatened her political career. Linda Tripp, former White House aide and Monica Lewinsky confidant, alleged Bill had “thousands” of affairs. She said Hillary “is someone who had no real personal problem with any of this behavior. The problem was in it becoming public. They had to continue to become electable… She was the more aggressive one in ensuring that the political viability was not endangered in any way.” Buying into this line of reasoning, of course, requires forgetting that Tripp, in saying these things, continues to have a compelling self-preservationist motive of her own.

Second, this critique states, Hillary’s public support of her husband and initial dismissal of the sexual misconduct allegations violated her own feminist positions. She should have immediately smelled Bill’s bullshit, some have said. She should have stood up for women like Monica Lewinsky who’d been victimized by Bill’s abuse of his position. This is the criticism that most resonates with millennial women.

Here’s what I think. I don’t have the necessary psychic retro-cognitive omniscience to prove or disprove these allegations, and neither does anyone else. But since we’re in the spirit of speculation, I would like to raise a couple other possible explanations for her behavior.

The first is, as the aggrieved spouse, she may have been in psychologically self-protective denial for years. Maybe it was too painful for her to face the truth, so she did her best to malign any woman who accused her husband of misconduct. She desperately needed these women to be attention-seeking liars, because to admit otherwise meant admitting Bill had cheated on her. I know, from having ridden shotgun through others’ divorces, that one of the worst things a cheated-on wife must face is self-doubt: “Did I drive him to this because I’m not beautiful/intelligent/supportive/what-have-you enough?” If this explanation is true, it’s not a ringing endorsement of Hillary’s emotional toughness, but it’s definitely human, understandable, and forgivable.

Secondly, what if, as a loving wife, she simply believed her husband’s inevitable denials? Sure, Bill had a few affairs in the past (she might have thought), but this time, these accusers are only seeking attention.

And third, perhaps Hillary just bought into the increasingly rare American myth of the good marriage, that spouses stick by each other through thick and thin. She said as much during a 1999 interview in the LA Times. “Everybody has some dysfunction in their families,” she said. “They have to deal with it. You don’t walk away if you love someone. You help the person.”

Personally, the explanation I most identify with is anger. Yes, Monica Lewinsky was exploited by her boss, one of the most powerful people in the world. But no paramour is blameless. Monica was an adult who knowingly had an affair with a married man. So was Gennifer Flowers. An extramarital affair is an act of violence against the aggrieved spouse and any affected children. I wouldn’t blame Hillary one bit for being furious with these women at the same time as she was furious at Bill. For her to instantly walk out of her marriage to defend Monica Lewinsky — in the interests of feminism, no less — is simply ridiculous. If she’d done that, then she really would have been a political opportunist.

I cannot reasonably hold Hillary accountable for her husband’s behavior. Sure, in her shoes, I would have dumped his ass years ago, but she comes from a generation that believes in walking through hell for the sake of a marriage, even a rocky one, especially if that marriage produced children.

Bill Clinton, not Hillary Clinton, is responsible for his behavior. Let’s not lose sight of that truth as Mr. Drumpf attempts to twist it to his self-serving ends.

The Leaves

September 13, 2016

I got an A!

I got an A!

Here’s another flash from the past. I found it in my school papers from 11th grade English class (circa 1990). The assignment was to write a lyric poem:

“The Leaves”

Why do the leaves
of trees fall?

Exposing the branches,
baring all?

Is life so hard,
and so corrupt,

That leaves can’t take it,
and just give up?

Or are they normal,
just like we,

Who see responsibilties,
and decide to flee?

Article about Transsexualism

September 12, 2016

Here’s a blast from the past. Go to page 16 of this archived copy of the Feb. 6, 1995 edition of The Breeze, my alma mater’s student newspaper. It’s the profile piece I wrote about the first transsexual I ever met. I would never have seen this link, but Jenn, the subject of the article, recently contacted me to chat. She’s doing well and I believe like me is having a hard time believing this was from 21 years ago.

The Writing Lab

August 25, 2016

u1866I’m enjoying THE WRITER’S LAB by Sexton Burke. Lots of cool writing prompts.

Here’s one I worked on this morning over tea on my back patio: “Write a scene during which one character reveals a powerful and emotional truth to another — without using any dialogue.”

Here’s what I came up with:

Randa’s [what was I thinking with that name? nevermind] ability to change her body had given us countless nights of pleasure. Any female body type we could imagine was ours to enjoy in the privacy of our bedroom.

But as I stood across from her in the kitchen, watching her make her skin transparent, I realized there was one type of body alteration she couldn’t do.

She wept as her skin peeled back to show me. An octopus-like mass of black tendrils enveloped the major arteries to her heart and lungs. Cancer. It pulsed in time with her heart beats.

Randa, for all her magical body-morphing abilities, could not cure herself of sickness.

The skin continued to retract down her abdomen. What else did she want to show me?

A fetus the size of my thumb floated in her uterus.

20 Ways to Help an Author Out

August 16, 2016

While at the Writer’s Digest Annual conference last weekend, I picked up this great handout from called “20 Ways to Help an Author Out.” I’ve taken the liberty of re-typing the tips here. Please apply them liberally to promote your favorite writer.

1. buy the book!
2. buy the book for others as a gift
3. face the book out at bookstores
4. read the book where others can see it
5. ask a bookstore employee where the book is located
6. leave a review on Amazon,, and Goodreads
7. “like” the author’s author Facebook page
8. reserve a copy at the library
9. attend the book release party and bring two friends
10. spread news of the book through your social media channels
11. arrange a connection for the author with your media contacts and people of influence
12. recommend the author as a speaker at your local library
13. if your library has an annual author luncheon or evening event, suggest the author as a speaker
14. create a Wikipedia page for the author, including details related to the authorship of the book
15. buy a few extra copies, and donate them to your local library, doctor’s office, and community center library
16. send a copy to your favorite radio show with a personalized note explaining why you liked it
17. take a picture of yourself holding the book, and post it on your social media
18. create a Pinterest board by pinning the cover, author’s photo, and any other photos or illustrations related to the author or book
19. offer to write 10 e-mails you’ll send to booksellers, librarians, TV or radio producers, book reviewers, or just to your network of friends and family
20. volunteer to help the author at book events

Brought to You by 5th-Grade Matt

August 5, 2016

In honor of today’s opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, here’s a limerick from 5th-grade Matt Warner of White Oaks Elementary School, in honor of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. I hope this year’s athletes stay in better health than this guy.


Summer Update

July 23, 2016

This has been a thin summer for me news-wise as I’ve been loading the metaphorical gun with more stuff to fire at you down the road. Another novel is in the can and with beta readers, and I’ll soon begin work on a long short story that’s been commissioned by a specialty publisher. Mark your calendars for Oct. 1, when I’ll be a guest at Con of the Mountain in Clifton Forge, VA.

Here’s the newest stuff in print. Do yourself a favor, and check it out, eh?

  • Dominoes in Time — Collecting 18 previously published horror and science fiction stories. “Matthew Warner has such a variety of ideas collected here, that I am certain every horror fan will find something that resonates with them.” Horror After Dark
  • Plan 9: Official Movie Novelization — The remake of “Plan 9 From Outer Space” is a horror/SF romp through nostalgia and zombies. “It entertains you even if you haven’t seen the movie it’s based on.” Horror Talk

On the personal front, family life keeps me busy. Here are some pictures. Enjoy!

This week, my youngest son Thomas (5) had his first lesson in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Here he is applying a rear-naked choke to his brother Owen.

This week, my youngest son Thomas (5) had his first lesson in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Here he is applying a rear-naked choke to his brother Owen.

My wife, Deena, painted this gorgeous mural on the front of our sons' school.

My wife, Deena, painted this gorgeous mural on the front of our sons’ school.

Deena and I spent a day ziplining at Bryce Resort with our good friends Keith Minnion (pink shirt) and Nanci Kalanta (black shirt).

Deena and I spent a day ziplining at Bryce Resort with our good friends Keith Minnion (pink shirt) and Nanci Kalanta (black shirt).

Every Tragedy Isn’t a Sales Opportunity

June 15, 2016

Let me paint a what-if scenario.

Let’s say you’re the parent of one of those fifty people killed at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Today is your son or daughter’s funeral. You look to the edge of the graveyard to see a carnival being set up. Merchants lay out their usual wares of artwork, rugs, and chotchkes. Several new products display your child’s face: hastily designed T-shirts and mugs decry this senseless death. A billboard announces all sales proceeds will benefit your family.

How do you feel about that? Are you flattered and grateful? Or is it too soon?

It’s only been three days, and this is already happening in the publishing world. Except it’s not as a carnival next to freshly dug graves. I’ve seen several announcements for new anthologies of short stories and poetry where the sales proceeds will benefit an organized charity or the victims directly. This repeats a well-established pattern: something bad happens, and immediately there’s a new charity anthology.

I hope these are just good people who want to help — who want to do something, anything, to relieve the suffering. Most writers are good people. If wanting to help is their sole motive, then more power to them.

My worry, however, is every time a charity anthology pops up in the wake of disaster, writers risk engaging in opportunism and self-glorification. Every tragedy isn’t a sales opportunity. And charity should never call attention to the giver. I’m not alone in saying so.

I realize this isn’t a black-and-white issue. A commemorative product, aside from raising money for the victims, might raise awareness of the tragedy’s causes, or help process the black tar of grief. And I confess to being a hyprocrite about my qualms; once I organized and participated in a book signing benefiting a charity. Was I being totally selfless? No.

So, I have to wonder: wouldn’t it be more effective to pay a direct donation to the charity instead of making that donation contingent on commercial success? Wouldn’t it be better to quietly give support without publicly exhibiting oneself as a good person or advancing a political agenda or career? This isn’t about me, after all. This is about them.

I’m not going to tell writers and publishers not to create these products. I only caution them not to be vultures. If your motives are pure and your timing is right, then sally forth.

US Presidents by my 6-year-old

May 17, 2016

Next, he’s working on memorizing how they all died.

Earth Defense Alliance patches

May 9, 2016

As a coda to my trip to New Mexico, where I met Ready Player One author Ernest Cline, here is my collection of Earth Defense Alliance patches, in promotion of his new book, Armada.

The blue patch at the bottom is the one Cline handed out to everyone at the signing. Penguin Random House sent me the top three for participating in the Phaeton video game promotion for Armada.