Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sneak Peek of Book 2?! Is This Madness?!

I know book 1 of the Valkyrie Trilogy, The Valkyrie Profiles, has not even been out a month yet, and I know posting a sneak peak at book 2 already is nuts, right? Well, I'm kinda nuts and I'm doing it anyway! It's short, but I think it will give you a good feel for where book 2 will be going. Enjoy!

*   *   *

     Still, she was being watched; she’d felt a pair of eyes on her ever since she had disembarked. And then there was this other ship. The closer she grew, the more she began to think it was, in fact, operational.
     “Something’s not right,” she whispered, clenching her jaw.
     “Very perceptive! I expected nothing less,” a disembodied voice boomed.
     Vladia reached for her weapon, only to remember that she hadn't been armed since her encounter with Malthus on the Dragoon.
     In her peripheral, a nearby viewscreen flickered on. There, a man with stark white hair and a wide, toothy smile spoke: “Nice to finally meet you, daughter of Robespierre.”

*   *   *

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Doing Some Good

Want to make the most of something you were thinking about buying anyway? Well, this is your chance. From now until February 10th (yes, that is the day The Walking Dead returns), 20% of proceeds from sales of The Valkyrie Profiles on any format will be donated to The S.H.A.C.K Safe Haven Animal Care Kennels. The SHACK is one of Mobile, Alabama's newest animal rescues and they are in need of funding to keep doing the good they do. You can check out their Facebook page here: SHACK to see photos and stories of past and current rescues, as well as pups up for adoption. There's also a petition going around right now in protest of the recent conduct and polices of the Mobile County 'shealter'. Read more and sigh the petition here.

Already have your copy but still want to help out? Write a review to increase interest and spread the word to all your animal loving, book reading friends!. Purchase links can be found below:

Amazon paperback:



Or, you can donate directly to the SHACK or SouthBark (the other local rescue in Mobile, AL)

SouthBark Chip-in:
The SHACK paypal :

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why I hate the term "Genre Fiction"

     I already know this post is going to be much more akin to a rant than an essay. I ask you to bear with me, please.

     People in the literary scene like to throw around the phrase "Genre Fiction". When they do this, its usually in the context of "Oh, but that's genre fiction" (you'll have to imagine the condescending tone for yourself). You see, the term is an insult. Any novel that isn't, according to some literary or academic snob, high-art (definition in a bit) is garbage or smut. Its genre fiction. High-art is something that is not just for entertainment (again according to some literary or academic snob), as it adds to the world, usually by some form of convoluted social or political (or both) commentary. An example of high-art would be a novel by Jonathan Franzen. This is not in any way an attack on him. I am not saying I don't enjoy his work. What I am saying is that his work should not necessarily be held so high above others under the dubious label of it being high-art while the rest is genre fiction. There are many genre fiction novels that I find are just as well-written and offer just as much social commentary as his, but are ignored to a degree because of these labels.

     But an even greater issue I take with this requires us to examine what the term genre actually means. A genre can be defined as a set of stylistic criteria a work of art can be put in. For example, for a book to be a gothic romance, it would have to have some of these elements: love, terror, tragedy, sex, death, the supernatural, etc. By this definition, everything can have a genre or a combination of genres. In fact, a book that is considered high-art also has a genre-the genre would be that of high-art. So, to label a novel in a negative way by calling it genre fiction is ridiculous. It is a misuse of the word by snobs. I often throw the term around in relation to my own work, really just to make a point and highlight the stupidity of the idea. The simple truth is this: every book is genre fiction because every book has a genre. I write genre fiction; so, too, does  Jonathan Franzen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Death of Education in America

The Death of Education in America
     More Americans than ever before attend an institution of higher learning. Yet we are no longer a leading global power in education, or any other thing for that matter. These statements appear at odds with one another, but in actuality they are totally unrelated in that the number of people attending a university has no bearing on the quality of the education these people receive. In fact, the latter is a symptom of what is ailing our dying educational system. You can’t lead in anything if the populace does not know anything. We are, in a way, ignorant because we lack the essential fundamentals that transform knowledge into power: innovation, creativity, and passion. I would argue that higher education in particular has become relatively useless and a devastating waste of money in its current state.
     I know you’re thinking, “wait, doesn’t she work in higher education? How can she make such ostentatious claims when she is a part of the system?” Let me clarify: no longer does one need an institution to bequeath knowledge onto them as knowledge is, and has been for some time, readily available to all who seek it. Hundreds of years ago men went to institutions to learn because books were not in as great supply as they are now. Knowledge was reserved for those with money; money bought the admittance to higher learning and money bought books.  The working class had no time or the financial resources to purchase either.  Of course women weren’t permitted in universities for some time, though if their family was rich enough they could reach a bit of knowledge through books purchased by the family (of course this is a generalization and there were a few women who did the unthinkable and ruined their ‘reputation’ in the conquest of knowledge). In a way, knowledge was rather mysterious to a great deal of people because it was simply harder to attain.
     In 2013, there are libraries and bookstores galore, and the internet does a decent job of filling in the rest. Every book I have every taught out of is available for purchase on, as is every essay I use as a teaching tool. So why do people go to university if all they need is available elsewhere for a fraction of the cost? There is, of course, something to be said for having a professor as a sort of mentor and having classmates to bring in new perspectives, but I insist that these benefits offered by a traditional education are rarely utilized when students lack of innovation, creativity, and passion.
     I think it is a fair assumption to say that it takes a great deal of self-motivation, self-disciple, and self-confidence to take on the task of either educating oneself or gaining education by using the tools available at a university. Note all the ‘self-‘s. If you are going to do something for yourself with no one to forcing you do it, as I attempt to do every day in the classroom, you have to want to do it. You have to have a passion for learning and you have to be creative enough to see the connections between subjects (this refers to the well-sung complaint I get from students about how they don’t understand why they have to take Calculus when they are not a Math major). And, you have to be innovative enough to take the knowledge from books and the internet and apply them in shocking, new ways. Most people simply cannot do this. So, they go to the institution of higher learning solely for a quick transfer of knowledge and a slip of paper that may or may not land them in their dead-end dream job. Yet this does no good, clearly. If there is still a lack the aforementioned criterion, it is all just memorization of facts (usually short-term) and the mimicking of processes. What possible good could come from a country whose people can only memorize and mimic?
     But, this is not the fault of higher education. It has been rendered useless by the education one must receive before entering a university. The three key ingredients needed to make one truly intelligent should be learned as early as elementary school.  And this is not because we need more qualified teachers (a stance our government has taken). Qualified or not, teachers simply do not have the time to truly teach. Why? Because of bureaucracy, namely the standardized test.  Teachers are forced into the ‘teaching to the test’ mode for many reasons, including school rankings and government funding (and possibly job security). The students must memorize and mimic only what will be tested on and there is no time to foster any sort of passion for the subjects or projects that demonstrate creative and innovative problem-solving. Sure, there is the PACE program for gifted students (once they reach the third grade that is), which meets about an hour and a half once a week. But that isn’t enough.  And the rest of the students, well I guess they are on their own. 
      The students grow to hate school and subsequently hate learning and that is a terribly hard mindset to undo (I am aware this is a generalization and that there are students who do, in fact, love to learn, but they are most definitely in the minority).  I see the remnants of this mindset in my college students. They say they want to learn, but what they really mean is they want a B or an A so their GPA looks good on their future resume. They want that A or B handed to them essentially; they do not want to work for it because they do not really want to learn. They expect to exude minimal effort and reap the maximum rewards.  And some teachers just give up and give them their A or B because they know it doesn’t matter what they do. Others fail them over and over and over until they have a credit deficit and their financial aid is cut off, leaving them with no degree and upwards of 20,000 dollars in student loan debt.  Yet I maintain this isn’t entirely the students’ fault either. This is the way our educational system has programmed them. How can we now scold them for fulfilling the contract?
     I see the same thing now in my own child, who once loved school and learning until around the second grade. I moved her from a private Christian school to a public one because the quantity of material covered was lacking. I do not regret the move, but with one thing gained another was lost.  It’s equivalent exchange. I traded a narrow minded, slow paced, ‘fun’ learning experience for a broader spectrum of education that teaching memorization and mimicking. Neither would be good in the end, as I have witnessed the products of both in my own classroom. In all honesty, my best students are those that received at least a few years of home schooling.
     So, now we know the cause and the effect of our current situation. The only thing left is the solution. One thing that doesn’t work is money. All the money in the world will not foster a love of learning in these students. The money may buy SMARTboards and ipads. The money might make learning a bit more engaging for a while, but only because it feels like entertainment.  No, money cannot be the answer. But, getting rid of standardized testing might just be a great beginning. Of course, we still need tests, just a different sort; the sort that you can’t just feed into a machine for scoring.
     If teachers could teach what they want within the expectations of their grade level, if they could slow down enough for students to develop a passion for the knowledge, if they could teach in a way they believe is effective for their particular students, and then test students in a way that lets them use creativity and innovation, instead of memorization and mimicking, students might actually become something higher education can work with. And, we just might be able to save this sinking ship.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Contrast in Creation Narratives: An Overview of the Christian Creation Tale as compared to the Native American Creation Tale (in layman’s terms)

Christian Creation Tale:

Once upon a time there was a god (let’s call him God). God was zippin’ around the universe and was all bored and shit and he was like, “Man I should make some planets”. So he made some planets and it took about a day. The next day he was still kinda bored so over the next five days he put stuff on one planet (cuz fuck all those other planets; they be bitches. God made lots mountains and billions of shrubberies and millions of bunnies to eat those shrubberies and like ten thousand bears to eat those bunnies and finally one man to eat all of the above. Then God was tired to he took a nap and for the rest of time he expected everyone else to take a nap that day too.

So this man, called Adam, was namin’ the bunnies and bears and sleeping on the ground naked when he too got bored one day and was like, “God, you made like a million bunnies so can you, like, make one more human?” And God was like “Sure, little man dude, but imma need one of those ribs.” And Adam laughed and God laughed and then God said, “Seriously. Imma need a rib.” So Adam gave God a rib and God made a woman out of it. Adam named her Eve.

God then laid down the rules: “No talkin’ to snakes, no leavin’ the garden, and no eatin’ apples. All your apples are belong to me. Oh, and you have to obey me and shit.” Adam and Eve agreed and they went frolicking away.

One day snake came up to Eve and was like “Hey babe, you wanna share an apple with me?” And Eve was all like “No, no, no, well ok.” And that apple was delicious. So delicious she took one to Adam and he ate one too. God heard them eatin’ his apples and was all like “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY DAMN GARDEN!”

So the two ran away and God put a guard at the garden so no one else could ever eat his apples again.

And that’s how people came unto this earth to populate it.

A Native American Creation Tale:

Once upon a time there were lots of gods hangin’ out in the heavens. The head god, the one who carried the sun around all day, had two sons, but they sucked at conversation and that made him lonely. So he said to his sons “Go down into the Earth Mother’s womb and tell all the beings down there that if they come out to the surface to hang out and give me offerings I’ll take care of them forever.” And the sons were like “Sure thing”.

So they dived into the Earth’s vagina, no questions asked, and told all the beings inside that they were being evicted from the womb so gather their shit and let’s go. This seemed like a solid plan to the beings so they packed their shit and made their way up the four inner worlds until they reached the surface.

The Sun god was happy to see them. Well, not really. These beings had horns and scales and were real ugly. So they were made to take showers and then some of them began to look more like humans. Now the Sun god was happy to see them. Once they had all showered the stank off, the almost people had to travel to the Middle, which was the Sun’s gods fav spot on the earth. They traveled for many years and encountered talking animals that helped them do stuff like planet corn to eat.

Eventually they made it to the Middle and they finally were completely human. Everyone, including the gods, animals, men, and women, was happy. The humans gave the gods gifts and in turn the gods made sure they had good crops and good hunting and lots of water to drink and eventually they even got a magic pipe (but that’s another story).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Valkyrie Profiles Launch Party

Come out and celebrate the launch of my debut Science Fiction novel, The Valkyrie Profiles. Get your book signed or pick up a few copies for you and a hundred of your closest friends. Grab a beer, get some grub, and hang out. I'll be discussing the book, reading a short except, and having a Q & A session. There will also be some giveaways (gift cards anyone??)

Where:OK Bicycle Shop

661 Dauphin St., Mobile, Alabama 36602

When: 6:30-8:00 pm

Facebook event page

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Confessions of a Writing Junkie

My name is K. S. Daniels and it's been 1 day since I've last written. I was doing good for a while-teaching at the university and only writing academically. But I fell off the wagon about a year and a half ago. 

At first, I was just writing in my free time. It was like a hobby and they say hobbies are good for recovering writers. Well anyway, it just kept getting worse. I was writing in the morning before I lectured, doing it in the office on my lunch break. Sometimes I'd stay up all night writing, revising, and even editing. Before I knew it, it was like the old days again. The swift clicking of the keys, the gentle pressure on my fingertips as I released each one, the steady stream words consuming every inch of the page-what a rush! 

I can't stop. It's too late for me now, they say. Might as well let me write myself to death. It's ok though. One day they'll find me: hunched over my desk, fingers poised-as if ready to strike down the next words. Maybe they'll shake their heads and say, "What a waste". 

But I wouldn't have it any other way.