Diversity, People, Rainbow Hill Meanders, Writing

Wednesday Write: Diversity for All


“People are people and each person comes with their own unique story.” – Lisa Kraft


I was fortunate enough to attend the Writers for Diversity session at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. The founder Eliana West runs the Facebook group Writers for Diversity. She is one of those miraculous leaders who saw a need and rose to the challenge. She runs Writers for Diversity as a closed safe group where one can have respectful conversations about all types of diversity.

I thought my quote above covered all I needed to know about diversity and acceptance. I found myself more naïve and ignorant than I ever expected.

While my belief is true, there are so many other factors I had never considered. People are also their culture, history, and the unique challenges that come with membership in non-mainstream groups.

Writers for Diversity is about all non-mainstream groups: ethnic, handicaps, self-identifications, culture … and many more. I, as an Accessible CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team) instructor, have worked with wonderful people with many different self-determined handicaps. For Redmond, Washington CERT there is no separate, but equal classes. We accommodate everyone as much as our budget allows. The caveat is that translators are expensive so we can only offer full accommodation every three years.

I would feel horrible about that, but I took my Train-the-Trainer class with many of those from the first accessible class and these incredible individuals have taken the curriculum back to their own. If I guest teach at any of these CERT programs, then I’m the one who needs an interpreter.

20170104_034940000_iOSFor writers who are writing diverse characters, spend sometime thinking about your character and what they bring to your story. Simply changing the race of your character to fulfill a diversity quota, is like splashing new paint a wall. No matter what color you paint it, it’s still the same wall.

Your character should be relevant by the culture they bring. The unique challenges they may face. They should add a richness of who they are based on culture, history and location. If you can change their color at will, then you need to go back to the drawing board.

Another issue that often comes up in writing is writers asking the token minorities they see to tell them everything about the race or non-mainstream lifestyles they want to represent. See paragraph above about when and why you should writer diverse characters. Ask yourself if you can represent everyone in any group you belong to. (And yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition, but to write “to any group to which you belong” certainly sounded incorrect and pompous in a blog such as mine)

This is perhaps the longest post I have ever written and I have barely scratched the surface. Stay tuned for more Wednesday Writes in which I will dive deeper in the diversity of issues.

While you wait for next Wednesday’s post, I suggest reading a wonderful article by R.F. Kuang called “The Racial Rubber Stamp”  https://www.sfwa.org/2018/01/racial-rubber-stamp/


Join me on this journey of discovery and send your own questions and issues you see. I will try to address each one I receive.

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E-H, People

Happy 4th

Fourth of July over Cottage Lake

“The United States is the only country with a known birthday.” ~James G. Blaine

Happy Independence Day

“Liberty is the breath of life to nations.” ~George Bernard Shaw

“We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls.” -Robert J. McCracken

Full skies

Also on this day:

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804. A novelist and short story writer and the source of lots of great quotes.
Two of my favorite Hawthorne quotes:

“Every individual has a place to fill in the world and is important in some respect whether he chooses to be so or not”.- Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

And on to another favorite
“To jazz, or not to jazz, there is no question!” – Louis Armstrong

July 4th is also the birthday of Louis Armstrong. He was an incredible musician. Enjoy some of his great jazz music today.

“If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” – Louis Armstrong

Be safe and enjoy ~lisa

Starburst on the Fourth


The Fourth of July, or Independence Day, is a federal holiday that celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.  Fireworks,  Firework Laws by State,  Fireworks Safety,  National Mall Celebration,  Find Celebrations at National Parks – http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence-Day.shtml

“We all do ‘do, re, mi,’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.” – Louis Armstrong

Author, Books, Holidays, People

Happy Towel Day

Towel Day is observed every May 25 by fans of Douglas Adams and his famous book series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. I highly recommend this read to anyone who has yet to come across it.

Amazing, but true, on this day you are supposed to carry a towel throughout the day. The importance of towels can be found in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe in Chapter 3.

“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”

Swan with shades

“Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth …you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, Chapter 3

“More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value…any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with:” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe in Chapter 3

To  “know where one’s towel is” means to be in control of one’s own life.

Douglas Noel Adams (11 March 1952 – 11 May 2001) was a multi-talented man. Besides writing the best-selling Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe series, Adams wrote several other pieces including, but not limited to, three stories for the Doctor Who television series and a few sketches for Monty Python.

A fun set of factoids about Douglas Adams and his books: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130311/hitchhiker-author-douglas-adams-42-facts

For technophiles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_in_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy#Towels

“The fictional universe of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams is a galaxy-spanning society of interacting extraterrestrial cultures. The technological level in the series is highly advanced, though often unreliable. Many technologies in the series are used to poke fun at modern life.”

Here’s to carrying a towel around with you today.


Many thanks to my daughter, Alicia Hall, for the towel origami

Towel MonkeyBengal and monkey






Author, Books, E-H, People, Uncategorized

“Elementary,” said he.

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

The above is one of my favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes.

Sir Author Conan Doyle was born on May 22, 1859. Today I celebrate his birthday and one of the most famous duos of literature, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

I can’t imagine anyone not being captured by the premise and ideas of the stories of Sherlock Holmes. I suppose there are some, but none I know.

Contrary to popular belief, Conan Doyle never wrote the line “Elementary, my dear Watson.”


“Excellent!” I cried. “Elementary,” said he.” – Sir Author Conan Doyle. This quote is about as close as it gets to the common conception. First appearance of the popular non-Doyle phrase was in Psmith Journalist in 1915.

Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Besides Sherlock Holmes and non-fiction, Doyle wrote in a wide variety of genres including fantasy, science fiction, poetry, romance, historical novels and plays.

His fantasy, The Lost World was turned into a TV series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World (1999-2002) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0240278/

A complete and accessible list of all of Sir Author Conan Doyle’s literary works: http://www.online-literature.com/doyle/

Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes characters have appeared in many forms through the years: Besides the books, there are Sherlock Holmes comic books, music (“Sherlock Holmes” by Sparks), radio shows, television shows, video games and movies.

The best site for everything about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his literary works is the official website of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/

Sherlock Holmes

“Rivers of ink have flowed since 1887, when Sherlock Holmes was first introduced to the world, in an adventure entitled A Study in Scarlet.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate

“Most of the great detective’s fans know him so well, that they feel they have actually met him. It would therefore be presumptuous to try and define him here, as his many friends and admirers may each have very different views about this legendary personage.”- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate

Modern Day Sherlock Holmes exist in blockbuster movies and contemporary television shows.



Have I missed any contemporary shows? My daughter’s favorite show is Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch who she says is the best portrayal of the super sleuth she’s ever seen (sorry RDJr).

One of my favorite stories about the author (see complete story at http://www.siracd.com/life/life_ski.shtml) begins with: “It seems odd to think of a time when people didn’t ski in Switzerland. However when Conan Doyle arrived in Switzerland in 1893, with his first wife, Louise, that was the situation.”

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Two favorite Sherlock Holmes quotes on Rainbow Hill are:

“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” – Sherlock Holmes (I often wish I could say this)

And this quote appeals to the engineering half of the family:

“Come, Watson, come!’ he cried, “The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!” “Data! Data! Data!” he cried impatiently. “I can’t make bricks without clay.”

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month so I will take this aside to mention Sir Author Conan Doyle’s father, Charles Altamont Doyle, who struggled with mental illness which included spending some of his last years at a lunatic asylum.

Hopefully we are more enlightened now in the way the mind works and can show the same compassion to those struggling with mental illness as Conan Doyle did in his biography.

“My father’s life was full of the tragedy of unfulfilled powers and of underdeveloped gifts.  He had his weaknesses, as all of us have ours, but he also had some very remarkable and outstanding virtues.” – Sir Author Conan Doyle http://www.siracd.com/life_father.shtml  http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may

What are your favorite Sherlock Holmes tropes, characters, quotes and shows?

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.”

Now that is the business to be in!!


A cool BBC cult page for Sherlock Holmes fanatics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/sherlock/

The biography at http://www.sherlockholmesonline.org/ is an excellent read full of quotes from Sir Author Conan Doyle.

Another excellent site devoted to the life and work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: http://www.siracd.com/

There are so many excellent Sherlock Holmes quotes, many lines of which have made it into our everyday vernacular. Try these sites for a start:






Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Browning

Today’s Birthday Boys: Browning, Brahms, Tchaikovsky

Robert Browning was a Victorian Era English Poet. Born May 7, 1812

The full text of Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” can be found out the end of Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” which was inspired by the poem.

Robert Browning Bio http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/robert-browning
Robert Browning Verse: http://www.online-literature.com/robert-browning/2773/

German composer and pianist Johannes Brahms was born May 7, 1833.  http://www.johannesbrahms.org/

It is not hard to compose, but what is fabulously hard is to leave the superfluous notes under the table.” – Johannes Brahms

Best place to hear Brahms music: International Brahms Competition http://2011.brahmscompetition.org/

Tschaikowsky, from the podium of PNB's The Nutcracker Ballet

Russian composer Peter (Pyotr) Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840. and is considered one of the most popular Russian composers to date. He is well-known for his ballet’s “Swan Lake”,Nutcracker”, and for the rousing “1812 Overture“.

Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.” Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


Some great descriptions of all of Tchaikovsky’s compositions: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/pyotr-ilyich-tchaikovsky-mn0000317716

May you find today a little brighter by enjoying some of your favorite music and poetry.


Author, M-P, People

Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli
Born on May 3, 1469.

Niccolo Machiavelli was a most complex man: a writer, poet, a pundit of political and military theory, songwriter, a guidance counselor to princes, a reviled humanist, and a man who lent his name, not only to a psychological syndrome, but to as a somewhat derogatory descriptive used by the general public.

Machiavelli is often cited as the founder of modern political science and political ethics. Considering how negative the connotation of his name is, it almost makes one wonder if that is the reason for the political mess of the current world.

Machiavelli’s best known work is The Prince in which he imports to instruct a young ruler in the ways of government. The Prince is, at its heart, a manual to acquiring and keeping political power.

Machiavelli is the source of the very popular (in some circles) political theory “the end justifies the means”.

Every century a new theory emerges as to the meaning and purpose of The Prince ranging from literal to ironic to satirical. The author’s true intent may never be known.

It is generally agreed The Prince endorses what most would consider to be evil and immoral behavior. “Politics have no relation to morals.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

More often than not, Machiavelli’s collected writings are unsystematic, inconsistent and sometimes self-contradictory.

For example this almost sounds like sage advice: “The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

And these quotes sound like it could have come from more modern day revolutionaries.

I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it. – Niccolo Machivelli

“When you disarm the people you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both of these opinions generate hatred.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

This is one of the best historical guides I found on Machiavelli. http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/machiavelli.html

This is an excellent New York Times piece on “Why Machiavelli Still Matters”

This site is dense, but thorough http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/machiavelli/
Now on to the word he gave his name to: Machiavellian. The OED defines Machiavellian as “Cunning, scheming and unscrupulous, especially in politics”.

My own search on Machiavellian netted me such gems as:

cunning, expedient, opportunist, artful, astute, calculating, conniving, crafty, deceitful, devious, plotting, shrewd, sly, underhanded, unscrupulous, wily, manipulative, canny, designing, guileful, intelligent, premeditating, scheming, cagey, tricky, observant, treacherous, corrupt, crooked, dangerous, disingenuous, perfidious, surreptitious, subtle, and wormlike

These two clichés also stood out: “Crazy like a fox” and “like a snake in the grass

In Psychology, Machiavellianism is real and disturbing. It is described as being unemotional and detached from conventional morality with a tendency to deceive and manipulate others. Machiavellianism is part of the dark triad along with narcissism and psychopathy.

There are Low Machs and High Machs.

Low Machs give a high priority to money, power and competition and a lower priority to community-building, self-love, and family concerns. Unfortunately, we all know a few of these people. Then there are the High Machs who focus on achievement and winning at any cost.

Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot.” – Niccolo Machiavelli

These are great sites on the psychological aspect of Machiavellianism
This site is cluttered with adverts, but the information is good. http://www.psychforums.com/narcissistic-personality/topic11253.html
This is a great outline 48 Laws of Power and The Machiavellian Personality

There are also many non-scientific quizzes to find out how Machiavellian you are. Fun to take if you aren’t too scared of the outcome. The sheer number of these tests show how influential and
long-lasting the work of Machiavelli has been.


Check out these Machiavellian characters in popular culture http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22537324

My favorite quote by Machiavelli:

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”

Read the book THE PRINCE by NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI and decide for yourself which of the hype through all the ages is true and what of the contradictory messages of Machiavelli can you see as a truth of this age.