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Brian Holers http://brianholers.com Regular Guy Speaks on Writing, God & Politics Fri, 24 Aug 2012 13:01:59 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Relationship Blog Hop Winners http://brianholers.com/2012/08/24/relationship-blog-hop-winners/ http://brianholers.com/2012/08/24/relationship-blog-hop-winners/#comments Fri, 24 Aug 2012 13:01:59 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=405 ]]> After a full week of posting and sharing about relationships, the Relationship Blog Hop is coming to a close.  Thank you to everyone who commented, shared and entered our giveaway.  It’s been great getting to know you all.

So now for what you’ve all been waiting for.  The announcement of who won the Kindle Fire, paperbacks and ebooks.  Well, you’re just going to have to CLICK HERE and head over to our facebook page to find out!  Good luck and happy reading.

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Emlyn Chand’s character Daly English from Torn Together talks about Relationships with Men http://brianholers.com/2012/08/23/emlyn-chands-character-daly-english-from-torn-together-talks-about-relationships-with-men/ http://brianholers.com/2012/08/23/emlyn-chands-character-daly-english-from-torn-together-talks-about-relationships-with-men/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2012 11:43:14 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=400 ]]>

Today, Emlyn Chand is taking over for the Relationship Blog Hop.  This is the last day of guest posts and your last day to enter to win a KINDLE FIRE.  Please read Emlyn’s post below, written from the point of view of her character Daly English.  Tomorrow we will announce the winners of our giveaway!


Relationships with Men by Daly English

Men love you and leave you; whereas, women hate you yet refuse to leave—at least that’s been my experience.

I don’t know why I don’t let more people into my life. Maybe because my earliest relationships—the ones with my parents—were so irreparably flawed that I gave up before I ever had the courage to try. I mean, that’s why I don’t really have any friends. Blame the mother, right?

Well, she deserves it.

The person who showed me love best was Daddy. I have the fondest memories of my childhood:  camping, hiking, taking rides in his private plane. We’d play this game where we had to find shapes in the clouds, and then use those shapes to tell a story. When it got too dark to see them, we’d play connect the dots with the stars.

We always played, were always smiling… until we couldn’t anymore.

Twelve—that’s how old I was when Daddy died from the cancer. I couldn’t make sense of why God would rip my best friend from my life, so I stopped believing altogether.

I still search for him in the clouds, or at least a reason to explain why he was taken so suddenly. Whenever I need strength or guidance, I turn to the last picture I drew of him. His eyes are sunken, his skin bruised, his hair gone, yet still he smiles. It’s a huge, goofy smile, and his cheeks are puffed up like a monkey. He wouldn’t let me cry when I had the opportunity to be happy. I wish I could remember that lesson and honor his memory, but when he left, all the brightness left, too.

It took years, but I finally let someone in—my boyfriend, Rick. At least he was my boyfriend until about ten minutes ago when I walked in on him canoodling a naked redhead.

“You never let me in,” he said while blaming me for his infidelity. “You never let me know you.”

“Really?” I wanted to scream. “You’re the only one I let in, and even that wasn’t good enough, apparently.”

Daddy left. Rick left. The only person who stays is the one I hate the most—Mom.

So what do I make of relationships with men? They burn bright and fizzle out fast. I don’t know if it’s better to love for a little while or to never love at all. I guess not loving in the first place will save you pain. I guess I’m meant to be alone with my art…

Maybe I can sketch a pretend boyfriend to go with that last portrait of Daddy.

About Emlyn: Emlyn Chand emerged from the womb with a fountain pen clutched in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm Novel Publicity. Best known for her Young Adult novels, she is also developing a small, but devoted, following to her children’s book series and is beginning to dapple in other genres as well. Emlyn enjoys connecting with readers and is available via almost every social media site in existence. Visit EmlynChand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

Website: http://www.emlynchand.com

To Purchase Torn Together: http://www.amazon.com/Torn-Together-ebook/dp/B008XPKNWY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please check out the rest of the blog hop! Every page has another chance for you to enter! And remember to come back tomorrow for another great post and another chance to win a Kindle Fire. Thanks!






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I’m Taking Over the Relationship Blog Hop http://brianholers.com/2012/08/22/im-taking-over-the-relationship-blog-hop/ http://brianholers.com/2012/08/22/im-taking-over-the-relationship-blog-hop/#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 11:38:49 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=398 ]]> Today is my day and I’m taking over.  The Relationship Blog Hop has been fun and it’s been interesting reading everyone’s posts here about men, and on the other blogs about other relationships in theirs lives and books, but today it’s all about me.

I’m hosted on:

Emlyn Chand’s blog talking about friendship

Stevie Mikayne’s blog talking about self

Sabrynne McLain’s blog talking about parents

Check them out, see what I have to say and enter to win prizes.  While you’re here, go ahead and enter for a Kindle Fire below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Relationships with men, in life and literature – by Stevie Mikayne http://brianholers.com/2012/08/21/relationships-with-men-in-life-and-literature-%e2%80%93-by-stevie-mikayne/ http://brianholers.com/2012/08/21/relationships-with-men-in-life-and-literature-%e2%80%93-by-stevie-mikayne/#comments Tue, 21 Aug 2012 13:28:14 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=394 ]]> Today as a part of the ongoing Relationship Blog Hop, I’m happy to have a post by Stevie Mikayne. Stevie’s book Jellicle Girl just released on August 15th and looks like a great read. Make sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this post and visit all the other participating blogs for additional ways to enter.

Relationships with men, in life and literature – by Stevie Mikayne

Last night I messaged my editor. I’m supposed to write a blog post about relationships with men—preferably pertaining to Jellicle Girl. Suggestions?

He wrote back: Well, Beth has pretty complicated relationships with the men in her life. I’d like to know how she feels about that when she’s older.


Interesting idea. I’m a full decade older than Beth, so if my experience with men informed hers, I’d be the future self my editor talked about. Am I? Well, not really… I’ve never seduced my high school chemistry teacher, or adopted a flavour of the month… but I did go through more than a few boyfriends in my attempt to find the one.

Growing up, I attended an all-girls’ school. Went to an all-girls’ camp. Swam on an all-girls’ swim-team. Had a mother and a sister, but no consistent father. I did, luckily, have a grandfather, who taught me everything I should expect from a man. He’s my highest standard, and damn near impossible for anyone to live up to.

But relationships with boys? Not until my final year of high school, and not seriously until university.

As a young adult, I figured that the intensity of relationships between me and the women in my life would naturally extend to the men in my life… when I finally met some. Naturally, one of those friendships would grow and blossom into love and attraction….

Instead, I entered into one ill-conceived relationship after another, none of which ever ‘stuck.’ I viewed men as an interesting group—closely related, but very different from, my all-women’s world—fascinating creatures with a charmingly foreign language, culture, and set of ideals; peculiar habits I had no idea how to interpret, an attraction for women (which I understood), and a general dislike for crying in public. I peered into their lives like a spectator at a sporting event—not sure of the rules and having difficulty following the plays.

I reasoned that my lack of understanding in the ways of men might be what held me up. Once I got to know them better, perhaps I would fall in love with one of them and go on to have a “normal life”…. Of course, that didn’t happen, but it was a nice idea at the time.

When writing Beth’s character, I imagined what life would have been like if I’d gone to a co-ed high school. I imagined what she’d do, and how she’d cope with figuring out who she was. She goes through a lot of what I did: thinking it was just the circumstances, or just the guy, or just the wrong timing. She tries hard to make things work with a variety of different men and finally has to concede that no matter whom she sleeps with to try to encourage “normal feelings,” her actions won’t change the fundamentals of who she is. Being exposed to men is not going to make a lesbian straight, just like being exposed to men isn’t going to make a straight guy gay.

So, do you feel like you’ve missed out then? In your all-women’s world? Has it made you a man-hater?

No. Actually, the opposite it probably true. Being in an all-women’s world meant I avoided a lot of the issues that polarize men and women in society. I grew up taking women’s equality for granted, and had no reason to feel oppressed or underprivileged because I was a woman. I went from an all-girls school to a mostly-women’s university programme to a female-dominated career. If ever there was a glass ceiling in my way, I never saw it. Either I had an unusual amount of confidence, or I was completely oblivious. In any case, I carried right on pursuing my ambition.

Entering the publishing industry has really been my first foray into the world of men. Our team is split fairly evenly, which is a new experience for me. Men bring a certain ruggedness to the table: a distinct brand of humour and a protective instinct that’s physical, especially for a virtual environment. I’ve made some really interesting friends, particularly my editor, who’s the first man in my life (besides my grandfather) that I’ve let root around inside my psyche. He’s both firm and sensitive—the perfect balance for a control-freak writer.

My publisher is the first male boss I’ve ever had. It’s rather a nice change from the minefield of female politics. He likes things correct and he likes them on time, and if he doesn’t get what he wants, he tells me point blank. I like it. I like it a lot! We talk for hours on Skype, which surprised me at first. After all, what would two people so different from one another have in common to talk about? A great deal, as it turns out.

One of the things I appreciate most about him is that even though his labels all come from the ‘majority’ pool: straight, white, American, man, he has never once suggested that I be shuffled off to an ‘alternative’ category because my labels are mostly minority ones: gay, Canadian, woman. His attitude is that Good literature is for everyone. Since that’s what I write, we’re both happy—he, because he doesn’t have to deal with politics, and I because he doesn’t force me into that arena. Yes, I have minority characters. Yes, I believe that’s very important. No, Beth’s not a man-hater, and neither am I.

Inexperienced with a guys’ world, maybe, but definitely not a misandrist.

Have I had any good male role models? Yes. The word role-model automatically conjures an image of my high school band teacher, Mr. Gerow. A trombonist who taught at an all-girls’ school, he despaired that almost the entire band played the flute and clarinet. When I told him I wanted to play the tuba, he shoved that instrument into my hands so fast I almost fell over. Wickedly excited, he spent the next four years searching for music that featured the brass section. Every chance he got, he’d pick up his trombone and play along with me so I’d be sure to keep up. And when it came time for our final concert, he waved around the sheet music for the Mission Impossible theme like it was the greatest prize ever—just for us.

Yes, it’s true: I’ve only had a handful of men in my life. But luckily for me, that handful wore pretty big boots.

About Stevie: Writing is as vital to my life as chocolate and Yorkshire Gold tea. First tea, then writing, then chocolate. Usually all by 8AM.

Mostly, I write contemporary literary fiction. I try to combine my deep love of traditional literature with my obsession with dynamic characters and strong language. Also, inventive expletives.

Website: http://www.steviemikayne.com

To Purchase Jellicle Girl: http://www.amazon.com/Jellicle-Girl-ebook/dp/B008WOWZ22


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please check out the rest of the blog hop! Every page has another chance for you to enter! And remember to come back tomorrow for another great post and another chance to win a Kindle Fire. Thanks!






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Relationship Blog Hop Introduces Sabrynne McLain http://brianholers.com/2012/08/20/relationship-blog-hop-introduces-sabrynne-mclain/ http://brianholers.com/2012/08/20/relationship-blog-hop-introduces-sabrynne-mclain/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2012 11:56:21 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=386 ]]> This week I’m participating in an event with a few other authors to share the word about our books.  There are a bunch of great posts on the facebook page for this event already (facebook.com/RelationshipBlogHop).

Check out the post below by Sabrynne McLain.  She has taken over all the participants blogs for the day to share a number of great posts.  Follow along and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post to win a KINDLE FIRE. Come back tomorrow for another post from another awesome author and another chance to win!

Match.com and the Must-haves List by Sabrynne McLain

My brief tenure on Match.com was the brainchild of Sharon, a woman I worked with at the LA Times in the late 90s. I had just ended a five-year relationship with a guy I had no intention of getting serious with (yes, I know, a very long time for a nowhere relationship, but I was too busy killing myself at work to complicate my life further with a break-up).

“Why do you think I need to join a dating site? I’ve never had trouble finding someone to go out with before,” I said a bit defensively.

Sharon explained that her old boss had found his girlfriend-cum-wife on Match and they were ecstatically happy. And besides, “I’m engaged now so I obviously can’t join. I just want to live vicariously through you for a while and hear all the juicy details of your Match hook-ups.”

Over a few lunch hours, we sat in the cafeteria and discussed my intro piece for the profile page. At that time, I had just started writing When Red Is Blue, so it got a brief mention, along with my background, job and interests. Then I got to the part where I was supposed to choose the things I wanted in my ideal mate.

This was when Hilary, another co-worker, decided to put in her two cents. “Just use your must-haves list,” she said.

Hmm. I had never thought about making a list of the things I “have to have” before I would consider dating someone.

Hilary was shocked. “Then how do you know if a guy is worthy of dating you?”

Worthy? Wow – good question. How exactly had I chosen guys before? After some thought, I realized it wasn’t me doing the choosing. Of course, I had to ultimately say yes or no to an invitation to dinner or whatever, but when it came to finding the man of my dreams, I had never thought about what kind of person would make me happy and then set out to get him. “What sorts of things are supposed to go on this list?”

“I think it’s different for everyone, but mine has the things that matter most to me in terms of my values and life goals,” Hilary said.

Now that sounded serious. But there I was, a 35-year-old with nothing but a string of unfulfilling relationships behind me, and apparently more than willing to repeat the same process over and over. What was the definition of insanity again?

“Hmm. Okay, I’ll give it a try. Thanks.” So I sat down to write my first-ever must-haves list.

Sitting at my computer 13 years after the fact, the list is a bit buzzy, but I do remember a few of the items.

  • Education – I decided on minimum college graduate since I had completed my master’s. I thought about being pickier on this, but I don’t truly believe formal education is everything, and I didn’t want to exclude a huge chunk of the male population over something I wasn’t convinced was a must-have.
  • Religion – my last boyfriend was surprisingly religious (I say surprisingly because we had never discussed religion before moving in together), which caused several arguments and tension on both sides. So in an effort to avoid future stress over this, I picked something along the lines of: religion is unimportant to him/nonreligious (or something).
  • Occupation/earnings – I think there was something on the form about this, but I don’t recall the choices. On my must-haves list, I said occupation didn’t matter but he needed to (of course) work and earn at least as much as me. This was based on a male friend telling me men hate it when women earn more than they do, combined with the fact that if I wanted to go on an exotic holiday, I didn’t want to hear my guy say he couldn’t afford it.
  • Children – I’ve never felt a burning desire to procreate, but I wasn’t completely against the idea either, so I put something like: not a priority.
  • Baggage – the form said something about accepting children from a previous relationship. Although I have no problem with children per se, I was sure I didn’t want the complexity and problems associated with ex-spouses, who gets the kids on holidays and visitation rights issues. So, a big no on baggage. If you feel I was being unfair, I’m happy to listen to your grievances, but I’ve heard too many horror stories from my friends to be swayed at this point.
  • Physical appearance – I’m not that big on appearance. Not that I’m immune or oblivious to what I find attractive in a man, but it’s a very complex thing for me; for example, I happen to like piercing eyes and a slightly cruel mouth-line (think Daniel Craig), neither of which were on the form. The only thing I picked on impulse was height of six feet or above. I got lots of grief over this, particularly by less-than-six-foot-tall men whose profiles stated they wanted “a woman with a perfect body who can eat anything she wants and still stay thin.”
  • Location – Ideally LA, but I was willing to drive an hour in either direction to meet my perfect match.

With everything completed and an uploaded picture from the previous Christmas, my profile went live. Match.com was one of the first online dating sites and when I joined, it was still in beta. So the vast majority of members were early adopters, or technology geeks, though I wouldn’t have considered myself one at the time. I received a number of emails from guys across the IT spectrum, which wasn’t an issue, since they all seemed to be doing well for themselves. I went on my first date with a software engineer from Torrance – he took me to a very nice Italian restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.  We had spoken a few times on the phone so I knew we would click, but when I met him I wasn’t attracted to him in a romantic way (probably lack of piercing eyes and/or slightly cruel mouth-line, though I can’t recall).

After that date, I hid my profile for a while and then, just before Memorial Day weekend, I unhid it again. A guy named Gareth emailed me and asked me out to lunch on the Saturday. I loved his name so I said yes; lunch segued into dinner, which then became another dinner on the Sunday, culminating into the whole day spent together on the Monday.

Thirteen years later, Gareth and I are still together and living in Edinburgh.  Which goes to show if you decide what you want, you are far more likely to get it. It’s been many years since I’ve spoken to Hilary, but if we ever cross paths again, I owe her a massive thanks.

About Sabrynne: Through the years, I’ve dabbled in both writing and editing. I’ve written a number of print and online articles and edited everything from non-fiction books to computer manuals when I wasn’t working my tail off at one corporation or another. During the last 12 years, in addition to all the normal havoc that everyone experiences in their lives, I wrote When Red Is Blue. These days my focus is on my family (Gareth and Barnaby, our rambunctious feline), my editing and proofreading business, the return to a 25-mile-a-week jogging routine and my next book.
Website: http://www.sabrynnemclain.com

To Purchase When Red Is Blue: http://www.amazon.com/When-Red-Is-Blue-ebook/dp/B0075EVGSO

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please check out the rest of the blog hop! Every page has another chance for you to enter! And remember to come back tomorrow for another great post and another chance to win a Kindle Fire. Thanks!




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Finally another post!! http://brianholers.com/2012/07/11/finally-another-post/ http://brianholers.com/2012/07/11/finally-another-post/#comments Thu, 12 Jul 2012 03:52:09 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=383 ]]> My heavens. It has been a long time since I posted here. Thank you to those of you who have missed me. We’ve all been through periods when we have too much going on at once, and I am in the midst of one such period now. For the first time in 16 years, I am getting my house ready to sell. If you’ve never been through this process, believe me it will eat you up. You live for years and years with little things wrong with your house, but when the time comes to sell, you gotta fix everything. That took a really long time.  Then I had to move out a bunch of stuff, including my writing desk. Let me tell you, that sucks for a writer.  Then trying to live in a house with pe0ple coming in and out to look at it, I don’t recommend that either.  The worst part of all this is, I hardly have time or energy for all the imaginary people who travel everywhere with me. So, I am doing what I can. Please enjoy this interview I got with a nice lady in England, thanks to the internet.
Thanks to Brian Holers, author of Doxology, for this interview
How long have you been writing?
I talked about it for many years, but I finally got sick of what was on television and started writing after I sold a business seven years ago.
Do you have a day job or do you write for a living?
In my day job I work as an arborist, and most of the time I enjoy it. For a couple of years after I sold my first business, I spent days writing (not for a living by any means), but I like this life better. I work in the daytime, spend a lot of time with my thoughts, and then I go to my desk for an hour or two at night after my son goes to sleep. Having a structure to my days helps me focus. And focus is the key for me. I approach writing in much the same way as I approach other tasks in life. My joy comes not so much from the finished product as from the process it takes me to get there.
What do you feel is the ideal recipe for a good novel/story/poem?
I’m not sure there’s an ideal recipe. Maybe there is, but I never went to school to study writing so I don’t know any of the recipes. But whether writing a novel, story or poem, the goal is the same: write something that makes people care. There are a zillion different ways to get there, but making the reader care is the most important ingredient I have found.
What/who inspired you to write and still inspires you?
I am inspired by the entire world of imaginary people who live nowhere other than inside my head. I’ve found that if I write and give them a chance at external expression, they don’t interrupt the rest of my life so much. And, unlike me, my imaginary friends always say whatever they are thinking, win all their battles and rarely make poor decisions. Who wouldn’t want to write about such admirable people?!
What books have you written? Do you stick to one genre?
I have one completed novel, one well under way, and one still in my head. Though I left home for Seattle, Washington, 23 years ago, all my fiction is set in rural north Louisiana. All explore similar themes of love among flaws, crushing loss and the oh-so-human need for God in human life. My first novel, Doxology, is a blue-collar Southern tale of relationships between fathers, sons and brothers. My novel in progress, Miracle Run, is a story of a man trying to turn away from brokenness and make himself a suitable father for a son he once abandoned, just as he was once abandoned.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
How many of us have heard something like this when we mention our writing, “I’ve always thought about writing”? Thinking about writing is phenomenally easy. Writing, on the other hand, will likely be the hardest thing you ever do. It will take away everything inside you, break your heart, frustrate you, make you crazy, and tell you over and over again just to turn on the television and stop kidding yourself. There are no shortcuts. As Thomas Edison once said of genius, writing is 99% perspiration with only a bit of inspiration. The quality of your writing is a function of the amount of time you spend at your writing desk. Until you’ve put in years and years, and have reached an expert level (which I certainly have not yet), it will just be hard. So reward yourself for small accomplishments and take pride in any little thing you write that sounds good. You’ll know fast if you want to keep doing it.
Which character from your books do you like most/are most like?
I have characters in all my books that do little more than provide comic relief. They think wild thoughts, ramble all over the place, and jump up and down when they are excited about something. They say whatever they are thinking, no matter how weird or inappropriate. Major characters take a ton of energy to develop, and require constant monitoring and truth testing. But the lesser characters do and say whatever they want. I’m not saying I actually resemble such a person, I just wish a lot of the time that I did.
Marketing, the bane of self-publishers ­- how do you find the experience? Do you have any advice for other writers? Do you use a blog or twitter, etc?
I have never met a writer who liked marketing. But we’ve gotta do it, so why complain? Here’s my advice ­ take it slow and steady, and make friends first. One thing I’ve learned from being in business for years is that people will want to work with you, help you and buy whatever you are selling because they like you. Much the same as a reader has to care about a character before reading on, so our online acquaintances only become friends when they get to know us a little bit.
What other hobbies/interests do you have or has writing taken over?
My other hobby is baseball. It’s the greatest game ever played. I loved baseball when I was a kid, but I was never really all that good. I’m still not all that good, but I’ve just outlasted a lot of other guys. I’ll be 45 this year, and I am finally getting a chance to catch and pitch, which I never got when I was a kid. And most of the other old guys like me can’t throw hard enough to strike me out any more, so I can finally hit too.
What would you like to achieve in the next five years?
In the next five years, I just hope to keep doing what I’m doing now and get another couple of books done. I hope to continue to get more knowledgeable about trees. I hope to watch my son grow up into a fine man, which I hope to be one day myself.
If you won the Lotto, what would you do with all that dosh?
I would never win the Lotto because I would never play the Lotto. Playing the lottery perpetuates the belief that responsibility for our own selves is out of our hands. Such a mentality reinforces a common human belief in victimhood. I don’t have a problem per se with casinos and all varieties of gambling venues, but I frankly despise gambling sponsored by governments.
Finally, what question do you wish I’d asked and, of course, what is the answer? 
I wish you’d asked me who is going to be the next American president. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer.
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How men communicate http://brianholers.com/2012/04/19/how-men-communicate/ http://brianholers.com/2012/04/19/how-men-communicate/#comments Fri, 20 Apr 2012 06:41:26 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=373 ]]> k1684376 image courtesy of fotosearch.com image courtesy of fotosearch.com k1684376

I’ve been thinking about the subject of communication between men for a long time, and have fielded many queries in this arena since the release of my literary/religious novel, Doxology.  I expect to receive a fair share of grief for what I write here, given my nonexistent study in this field.  Fortunately for me, limited knowledge has never kept me from offering opinions before.

No matter how advanced we become, men and women will never understand each other. We will try and try and try, and denigrate one another for failure to communicate again and again. Men will think they understand and have a means by which to judge women, and women will do the same for men. But the bridge will never be crossed.

As a child, I loved the Waltons. Remember how Olivia and her friend Verdie sometimes got together for a good cry? They’d plan a date and time to get together and talk about their kids, about love, about some of life’s heartbreaks. And they’d have a good cry. As a child I found this completely baffling—they’re going to plan a time to cry? —and as an adult male, still do.

But here is a truth; men are a lot more emotional than even we often know. We simply tend to hedge our bets where difficult emotions are concerned. Even the stiffest, least expressive men are filled with feelings.  They have to be. Emotion is physical, and a necessary response to changes in circumstance. In many cases, women are more readily moved than men. Men respond to new situations metaphorically.  We look for color, depth, poetry in what to women may be unlikely places.  We crave expression and seek out beauty; we’re just more likely to find it under the hood of a car than in a vase full of flowers.

Feelings, whether for one another, for events, for the state of things, are physiological.  Everything we see, everything we do, every change we experience, has an effect on us. We judge the way we feel to determine whether it’s good or bad.  It takes us awhile to get good at it.

Humans need expression. Our experience of life must be shared to be real. However, in a man’s world, historically speaking, direct communication could be dangerous. In a dangerous world, where men fought for survival and competed for limited resources, men learned to measure risk. Like good writers, we learned to show, not to tell. This trait in men lives on. Arguably, it’s a better way to live. Anyone can say, “I love you.” Anyone can say, “I care.” Words can be hollow. Life takes place in stories. And life should be shared that way.

Men and women are different. We are wired differently. Here is a gross oversimplification.  I am no scientist. I am no evolutionist. I am no doctor. I am a writer, and I offer observations. In the old days, way back, we played different roles. Men had to go out. They hunted. They fished. They fought the elements. They risked attack. They worked to survive. The job of a man was to feed and protect his family, to ensure they stayed alive.  The ones who were appropriately wary, who never stopped paying attention to the dangers around them, whose instinct told them when to fight and when to flee, survived and passed their genes on to their children. Those who doddered, explored their feelings, contemplated the vicissitudes of a butterfly, let their guards down, didn’t. And didn’t pass on their genes.

Women learned to be social. They spent time with children, and in communities, with other women. Self expression was okay, in these venues. Nurture the children, nurture one another.  That’s what they learned. That was their job. To make more babies, and to care for them. The ones able to care for their babies passed on the traits that made them caretakers.

All had the same ultimate goal. To feel safe in this thing we call life, whatever it took.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Despite what we read in the papers and see on the news, we are living in the least violent time in history.  We all have a lot less to fear than ever before. Still, we can’t change our wiring. We are naturally vigilant. We are still inclined not to speak too directly.  You just never know. In the end, it’s still “every man for himself.”  We still put an edge on our words, just to make sure. Men rag each other, shoot the bull, break balls. We can take it. We prefer it this way. Anybody we don’t know, out of the ordinary, we’re not too sure about him.  Men will never say to their friends, I’ve been thinking about you all day Bob, how’s your new job going? How do you feel about it?  Men don’t talk that way. Men shake hands to show they don’t have a weapon, slap each other on the back, pat one another on the stomach and say, hey Bob, good to see you, I see that new job hasn’t helped your looks any. But it is keeping your weight up.

            We all have emotions that need expression. We all need to seek a higher plane, to look for beauty in the things important to us, that give us our place of safety in the world.  We respond to and label the feelings that accompany changes in our environment, as best we can.  Fear and anger, we easily recognize. We respond instinctively. Other emotions, we’re not so sure what they are.  We work to figure it out. We keep ourselves clean, try to look good for the ladies, ceaselessly search for our place.  We’re unpolished, like lumps of coal, and a lot more generations will have to pass before we even begin to shine.  Those of us most expressive, most able to manage the complexities of emotion so they don’t ruin our hearts or boil our blood, but rather add to our experience of life, will thrive, and will pass our genes on to our sons.  They, like we, will seem happy.  They will shout with their friends, dig their hands into machines to let off steam, one-up each other over beers, and solve their differences with softball games and shooting contests.  It just may be awhile yet before we sit down, together, and have a good cry.

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Take another look at prior blog post http://brianholers.com/2012/03/28/take-another-look-at-prior-blog-post/ http://brianholers.com/2012/03/28/take-another-look-at-prior-blog-post/#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2012 00:25:44 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=369 Hey all, my twitterview interview that posted a little while back has been updated–take another look and see all 20 questions. Fun fun!!!

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Twitterview Transcript from Novel Publicity http://brianholers.com/2012/03/20/twitterview-transcript-from-novel-publicity/ http://brianholers.com/2012/03/20/twitterview-transcript-from-novel-publicity/#comments Tue, 20 Mar 2012 15:58:54 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=358 On March 6th I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Emlyn Chand from Novel Publicity. Check out the transcript below.  If you have anything to add that we didn’t talk about, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!

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Religion in life http://brianholers.com/2012/03/12/religion-in-life/ http://brianholers.com/2012/03/12/religion-in-life/#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2012 06:14:16 +0000 brianholers http://brianholers.com/?p=354 ]]> Driving through a small Ohio town recently, I saw a sign in front of a church: Life without God is like an unsharpened pencil; pointless. As hokey as they may be, sentiments like these are invariably poignant to me; I grew up in a land of churches, and a land of signs. To this day I can’t pass one of these without thinking about the words for a good, long time. That’s what religion is for me—a long series of thoughts and feelings. The words on that Ohio sign particularly touched me, imparted me with the best feeling of all.  The certainty of how much better life is when we know there’s something greater. When it’s more than just us.

The concept of a god, of a higher power, is a common first step in world views that may otherwise be wildly divergent. Conversely, some believe looking to God as a guiding force in human events is a cop out. Hocus pocus. Fairy tales, at best. A craven unwillingness to take responsibility for ourselves, at worst. For me, God just is. There’s no other explanation for the sweetness I have experienced. Nothing else would make sense. I could not possibly have come from the place I did with a different view of things.

As a child in the 70s and 80s in small-town Louisiana, my experience was anything but multi-cultural. Christianity was pervasive. Every person I knew either was, used to be or intended to become a better Christian. Some aspired to get away, but more common than the desire to move on from this quaint little backwater, was a desire to know the Gospel, to continually make things right with God. Child and adult alike routinely spouted bible verses and moral witticisms as colorful and metaphoric as the sagest poets.

The existence of God in this world was simply a given. Everyone I knew belonged to a church, and attended regularly.  Kids in school formed alliances based not on denomination (most were Baptist) but on the particular church they attended. Churches sponsored teams for my father’s softball league (alcohol was strictly banned from these events, though fistfights were not uncommon after particularly close contests). I was in college before I met someone who claimed not to believe in God, and all I could think was poor girl, she’ll never have peace in her heart; small town life may have been suffocating, but it wasn’t confusing. There was only one way to do things.  While public life had an element of moral stricture, my friends and neighbors were not an uptight people. While St. Paul exhorted Christians to be in the world but not of it, he didn’t address the fine distinction between of the world for good reasons, and of the world for poor. Fellow Louisianians enjoyed all God’s gifts—fishing, hunting, waterskiing. Simple things.  For we learned in church, God is everywhere.

All public gatherings began with an invocation. If the speaker or leader chose to share a joke, its credentials as appropriate for mixed company were stated—now I’ve cleared this joke with my wife and two preachers.  No doubt one would have been enough, but as I also learned in church, where two or more are gathered together, there is God.  When the conflagration neared its end, anyone at any time could be called upon to close—brother Ricky, would you lead us in a word of prayer?—whereupon the simplest, homeliest, most tongue-tied man or woman, who perhaps couldn’t construct a sentence in a different circumstance, bowed his or her head and spoke with eloquence, as comfortably as one would talk to a grandma. And never doubted God was listening.

Faith for me has always been a feeling. Theology was never my thing. Granted, times were simpler then, when everyone watched the same three channels on TV. In that world, the concept that some benevolent force imparts values and guides human behavior was universal. For some of us, that hasn’t changed.

And what accompanies such a concept… is a feeling of hope. If God be with us, who can be against us?  A pervasive sense that life is precious, beautiful, and an ironic certainty that very little is in our control.  But anytime there’s a problem, any one of us can speak directly to God, and know God is listening. And, at times, even get a response.  Certainly, things can go bad. But they can also be improved, much as a sinner can be saved. Salvation can happen in an instant. We all live in this world, and are comfortably of it in the beautiful ways. In the good ways. Whatever the problem, there is an answer. Nothing can defeat us. Even death has no sting. Life is good. And when it’s over, it’s better.

As much is out of our control, much can’t be predicted. Eventually I did begin to question things, and as a young person, went away. But I never stopped believing God has a plan. I loved, and to this day still cherish—that sense of awe so implicit in life in a Christian world in a small Southern town thirty years ago, when things were simpler.

But God knew I needed more. I had other roles to fill. God sent me a Jewish wife, and then a son, to smarten me up a bit. To learn more about life by way of this beautiful religion, the mother of Christianity.  Still, I approach it all with the mentality of a small-town Christian. Always looking for the magic, for the miracles, the instantaneous changes of heart.  Yes, I need to study. Hebrew is hard. Lucky for me, my life is still filled with miracles. All I have to do is look. God is there, in the love. God is there, in the touch. In the soft, purposeful glow of my love’s embrace.  In the light so cleanly reflected from my ten year old’s shining eyes.  We are given this life, and we live it as we choose. The cost to us is so very little. As far as I can see, it’s all profit.

As a Christian, I must believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus. As a fledgling Jew, I must believe the savior is yet to come. My job is to use the gifts I’ve been given, to do the work I’m here for.  I’ll leave that argument to the theologians. I’ll just be here like I always have, looking for God in all things, expecting a miracle, counting my blessings.

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