There’s an Election?

thankful-for-our-readers-giveaway-3Sheila is giving away one of her books to someone who leaves a comment. See the details at the end of the blog!

Sheila: You might have noticed by now that there’s a national election coming up—oh, right, that’s tomorrow. I’m sure the country will breathe a hearty sigh of relief when it’s finally over.

You’ll be happy to hear that I’m not going to talk about partisan politics, apart from saying that they’ve never been more evident than this year. I for one believe everyone is entitled to her or his own opinion. My only hope is that those opinions are based on fact, not hints and innuendos and outright lies.

Oddly enough, I suppose we as writers should be thrilled that how a campaign official or publicity person uses words can have a significant impact on the lives of millions of people. That’s a heady kind of power.

Let us start with the premise that most such people don’t lie. Well, not exactly. But they might bend the truth just a bit. This can be done in many ways. There’s omission (“The candidate burst into tears in front of a thousand screaming followers,” which doesn’t include the rest of the statement “after s/he was told that his/her nearest and dearest relative had minutes earlier died in a horrible plane crash.”) The first part is true (and these days, witnessed by millions of people), but it’s not the whole story.

Taken on its own, the first part of that statement makes the candidate appear weak and out of control. Read in its entirety, it could make the candidate appear much more sympathetic. It all depends on who’s spinning the story.

Or take a very fictional example: “The candidate voted to abolish aardvarks in this country, depriving aardvark-herders of their traditional livelihood.” The reality is that there were only 137 free-range aardvarks in this country and twelve herders who looked after them. And that was in 1969, when the vote was taken. Guess what: there are no aardvarks left in herds in this country, but that point appears in teeny-tiny print at the bottom of a television commercial, and is onscreen for three-tenths of a second. Thus the candidate ends up looking hostile to aardvarks and those who care for them—even though there aren’t any. [Insert picture of cute fuzzy baby aardvarks. Oh, sorry, baby aardvarks are anything but cute and fuzzy—scratch that.]


Any words can be twisted, contorted and edited to say something that the author never intended. Most writers have probably seen that in their own edits: we end up howling at the absent editor, “That’s not what I meant! You didn’t get it, you idiot!” If we are optimistic, we hope that the edits were well-intended, even if we think they’re wrong. If we are really annoyed, we accuse the editor of trying to turn what we wrote into his or her own book, at the expense of our writer-voice and our intended message.

We write fiction. We know it. We don’t expect our readers to believe that everything we put on the page is true and really happened the way we said it did. We hope they believe in the little world that we create on the page for as long as it takes to read the book, but there are few repercussions if they don’t (except maybe to our wallets). But politics is different—maybe. We want to believe a candidate wants what’s best for constituents and the city/county/state/country as a whole. Sadly that’s not always true. All too often there are other motives: ego, personal glory, money, power. All of these can be useful in a strong leader. But can’t we have a little wisdom in the mix? Some compassion? A dash of intelligence?

If you have strong beliefs about a candidate, or more than one, vote tomorrow. It’s both your right and a privilege. If you don’t know much about any of the candidates—inform yourself. Don’t just punch a button or fill in a circle blindly, or because your spouse or your mommy or daddy voted that way. Your decision matters.

November we give away one of our books each day, to thank you all for being faithful readers. I did write a book that included an election—and I never named the political party involved—but maybe you’re politicked out by now. I’ll be happy to offer the most recent one of any of my series: A Turn for the Bad, Dead End Street, or Seeds of Deception, in either print or e-format. Not an election in any of ‘em.


Just leave a comment here (and it doesn’t have to be political! What’s the ugliest baby animal you can think of?) and I’ll draw a winner (and the drawing won’t be rigged, I promise!)


61 Thoughts

  1. I would love to win any of your non-political books, Sheila!! Of course, at this point (absolutely no offense intended) I would read a dictionary if the word ‘politics’ was omitted. I will read your cozies whether I win or not, but who doesn’t like freebies? As to ugly babies? Most babies (humans included) are pretty ugly when first born. It takes a while to look less shriveled. But baby giant pandas take longer than most to go from the “ugly duckling” stage to adorable.

    1. A mother’s love is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? I hear baby kangaroos aren’t exactly cute either when they start out. But once all those tiny critters add fur and open their eyes, most humans (including me) start cooing over them. If Facebook is any measure, lots of people have been using baby animals as an antidote to all the other unpleasant stuff. It never hurts to make people smile.

  2. One morning right in the middle of our back lawn was a family of wild bunnies that were in a cradle shaped bed that the mom bunny made. I thought they were baby field mice, they did not look pretty, I am sure their Mom thought they were beautiful! Maureen

    1. I happened to be around when our first cat had kittens (mama cat had delivered one and was racing to hide with it under a piece of furniture). Didn’t even look like a cat–more like a pink naked mouse. But they grew up nicely, and we kept one for years (and mama as well).

  3. Some baby humans emerge to the world looking like tiny Winston Churchills but all grow up to be beautiful people. And as I’ve heard (& said often enough) “ugly is as ugly does”. Permission to rewrite reality in the space of a few hundred words is the exclusive right of writers and Artists of all kinds. Thanks for the post!

  4. So true, sadly, about the twisting of words and stories in the media, Sheila. It’s been ever thus, but it certainly seems to be getting worse. That’s one reason we find it so satisfying to lose ourselves in made-up worlds, both writing them and reading them. They don’t hurt anyone in the real world, and can make us smile and cry and think.

    1. Good point. We have control, and we can make the ending come out any way we want to, unlike in the real world. (And we make people happy, at least for as long as it takes to read the book.)

  5. I’d be overjoyed to win one of your books, Sheila. I’ll also be overjoyed when I can enjoy watching my favorite television shows without seeing political ads. Politics is getting uglier and uglier in this country.

    1. Thank you. And let me point out that the most recent Irish national election, that took place earlier this year, lasted a total of 23 days from start to finish. Can we do that here, please?

  6. Give me a book, I’ll read it and write a review (and by the time I get it I won’t even mind if there a politics in it).

    1. I’m pretty sure there is a saying..”Be careful what you ask (google) for” 🙂

  7. It’s just after Halloween and never the wrong time of year to remember that Shakespeare put “Eye of newt…” in his witches brew. Newts, which can refer to immature geckos, are definitely in the running. They are tiny, naked-looking, and bug-eyed. When a person first sees one
    in the house—and they do come inside—it is truly unnerving. (Little resemblance to the adorable, and talkative, gecko lizard in the commercial.)

  8. Love your response barbarakay 1! I just wish people would take all this (negative/positive) energy and go read a book! That’s my plan today!

  9. Little pigglets aren’t as cute as they say. I voted! I hope others will too. Thanks for the chance to win.

  10. I have been amazed at how much I have been able to tune out this year, sticking to reading, of course! Poor aardvarks, at least there mother lives them. Wonder what a baby armadillo looks like–for certain, it’s not fuzzy! Thanks for the chance to win!

  11. I love your orchard mysteries! So tired of politics and can’t wait for the election to be over. I think baby pandas are ugly when born, but so adorable when they get older.

  12. I really love your books Sheila and would love to win one. I would have to say that the first animal that comes to mind when I think of ugly, either baby or grown-up is the wart hog. You’d really have to dig deep to find love for one of those creatures!!

  13. After Tuesday, the election may be over, but sadly the political pickering will go on. I just received an e-mail from a friend in Australia saying that the news stations there are following our elections so closely that they even have a 24-hour news program on it. It goes to show you that what happens here is of concern to the world. That’s a grim thought and a good reason to turn to fiction–maybe even humorous fiction.

  14. Those tiny, pink, wiggly, panda babies. They look nothing like the great, black and white, fuzzy cubs they grow into. Elections or no, escaping into a book would be nice.

  15. I think monkeys are kind of ugly so it follow that so are yreir babies. Really there are no ugly baby any thing.

  16. I’d be so excited to receive one of your books. As far as politics, I will actually turn the channel when one of the ads comes on, so that my family and I don’t have to listen to anymore of this mess. And explaining it to my kids, who are curious and want to learn more about our country and how government works, has been hard. I’ve told them many times this is not the way elections have to work and it’s been interesting to hear their insights into the candidates, based on the commercials and scattered news reports they’ve seen. When it comes to baby animals, they are a sweet escape when I don’t have a book handy right now. As my mom likes to say, “Some of them are so homely they’re cute.”

  17. Do insects count as animals? If so, I nominate baby spiders as the ugliest babies. Along with baby snakes. The parents are pretty ugly, too!

    1. I was just thinking about spiders. They don’t bother me too much (my husband has more problems with them–and he’s an entomologist!). But they’re cute when the babies come out of the egg sac and run around the web. Doesn’t last long before they scatter. Maybe I got brainwashed by Charlotte’s Web, which still makes me cry.

  18. My daughter’s English Bulldog has always been ugly, but she’s a beautiful kind of ugly.

  19. I’m sorry, but I must confront the outright lie in your post above. You said outright that these are books of fiction and the events didn’t really happen. They happened. They are real. They get me away from this fictional world I live in. Don’t you dare take that away from me.

    (It’s Monday. It’s the day before election day. I’m punchy. Is that a good sign or a bad sign for the week ahead?)

    1. I know what you mean. When I write all these people, they do become real to me. I want to know what they’re going to do next. I find myself saying (usually to one of the cats), “but she wouldn’t do that!” Which is why I keep writing–it’s an escape into a world where there are people I care about. Thank you!

  20. We have a family rule….if you do not vote, you lose all rights to complain (we use another word for complain 🙂 ) As for ugly baby animals, I’ll go with the spider too, pretty sure some of them grow up and morph into a Politician 🙂

  21. I would love to win one of your books.
    I guess a baby bat is probably creepy, because big ones sure are, lol.

    1. Aww, I like bats, kind of. I rescued one from my house, after the cats alerted me to it as it flew in circles around the ceiling. It involved shutting a lot of doors and opening an outside door for it to escape. Sort of like a mystery, eh? Close all the doors until only one remains.

  22. It’s a good thing for Mother’s love. I was born 10 weeks early and very unfinished and very sick. My uncle came to give me blood and went home and told my Grandfather IT can’t live. My parents thought I was pretty special.

  23. All baby animals, just like human babies, are beautiful! And, you can not tell any Mother that this isn’t so! Loved your election article. Glad I have my books to relax with during this turbulent time.

  24. I don’t know about any ugly baby animals. I hate cruelty to animals of any kind and I love cats!! Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  25. I think the baby aardvark you posted looked pretty ugly! Then again, baby opposums may be the winner in my book. As for the politics as important as it is I will be glad when it is finished.

  26. That’s a tough question for me. Most babies are beautiful so I can’t think of an ugly one off hand. Thanks for the chance.

  27. snakes of any kind- reptile or human! Thanks for the chance to win a book. I really enjoyed “Dead End Street” by the way. Refreshing to see Nell take on issues of social justice and engage with more characters of color.

  28. Happy Monday Sheila! I enjoyed reading the blog today…nice break from the nastiness I’ve seen on t.v. lately. Ugliest creature when born? Rats! Ugh!
    Thanks for the chance to win in the give-a-way.

  29. Love your books, Shelia. I think most baby animals are pretty cute, but I think the opossum is not a very good looking animal. I had one staring at me thru the slider to my sunroom and he was kind of creepy.

  30. The ugliest animal baby I saw was a vulture chick that I guess had fallen out of a next somewhere I tried to save it but the car that I was trying to rescue got to him which was a little sad but it was pretty ugly. I love the Apple orchard series

    1. Yep, about the ugliest non-aquatic critters alive. But the babies aren’t any uglier than the adults!!

  31. This was such an enjoyable post as I am reading it as the polls are closed or closing. Enough is enough. Let’s move on whichever way it must be, but let’s start living a more normal life from this night on. (hope we can!). As to cute babies, I have seen in person kittens and puppies being born and kittens are so hairless and not that cute, but they soon become what so many of us love to stroke and spend time with. I guess that is true of almost any animal, humans included. Time makes things more beautiful in these cases I think. I am so afraid of snakes and eels and lizards and anything that slithers and they could be the cutest little babies in the world, but to me they are frightening at any stage of the game. Ooooh.
    Sheila, I would absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to get a signed and dated copy of Seeds of Deception to add to my shelf which holds each of the previous Orchard Mystery series books. I love this series for the story of course but that it is about a Massachusetts location which is where I also live. I have loved every book of yours that I have read but this is my favorite and with no Kindle right now (it died a quick death however).print books are what I go for now especially. Thank you for the chance.
    Cynthia Blain

Comments are closed.