Reading Ayn Rand

(What I wanted to write was: Reading Ayn Random, but apparently the strike-through doesn’t work in the title.)

My Ayn Rand phase was when I was aged somewhere between 13 and 14. It was a time when I was quite easily influenced by just about anything. I devoured all of her fiction, from We The Living to Atlas Shrugged, and some non-fiction. What followed were proclamations of love for the author and long discussions with my equally love-struck sister.. “Hank Reeardeen” I would coo to her, mostly because everyone else I knew was busy reading Nancy Drews. “Francisco d’Anconiaa” she would coo right back. Of course we both did come out of the phase. That’s one of the few advantages of having an older sister: you get into and out of all kinds of “phases” a lot quicker than people your age. By the time I was 18, every person I knew worshipped Ayn Rand and every girl crushed majorly on Howard Roark.

Some books can only be enjoyed at a certain point in your life, like Catcher in the Rye at one age, The Fountainhead, or On the Road at another. They’re good books, but most of us tend to grow out of them. I say most of us, because, some of us are too smart to ever want to read Ayn Rand’s books to begin with; but since I’m currently all against judging without knowing, I would encourage such people to read the books before ‘hating her’. On the other hand, obviously, some of us do manage to turn childhood heroes into lifelong idols. This post is not really intended as a for and against Ayn Rand, debating ground of sorts. I respect your views if you respect, idolize or worship her. This is just what I think of my once oh-so-favourite writer, today, after so many years.

Her books are good fiction, but that’s about it. She can tell stories, weave you into them, in a way that all she stands for has all the good qualities and all she’s against is despicable, cruel and ugly. The shape of John Galt’s mouth was pride and he looked as if he were poured out of a soft-lustered metal. Jim Taggart, on the other hand, is conveniently found in the most horrible of states, with an unshaven, sometimes twisted face. At one point, even hope looks ugly on him. Everything is so starkly contrasted, so black and white. That is why you agree with her; because you’d be crazy to vouch for Wesley Mouch or any of the “moochers”. The stories are engaging, but for a supposed way of life, there are just too many flaws – like being too extreme or infested with random assumptions.

Many of the ideas she presents couldn’t have been more correct. What bothers me is the way she stretches her theories to try and fit our whole existence into her very specific opinions and that’s where I think the ‘philosophy’ as such tears apart. That this is how things should happen is just an opinion – you cannot simply dismiss the glaring “It could never happen!” Wanting other people to act, think, be a certain way because you like that particular way can also be excused, but it’s ridiculous not to consider that they just might not do any of that. Plus there was the whole thing about someone asking if such people existed and Ayn Rand saying, “If they didn’t, this book wouldn’t have been published.” That had to be the stupidest response. Four people don’t a world make. Ultimately, who the hell is she to decide how man should be, isn’t that something men would decide for themselves?

So. I realize this post has ended up sounding a lot less smart that I would have wished, so I’m going to add a link at the bottom to an absolutely hilarious piece of writing on Rand and hope to redeem myself.

Recently, I read a short play by Ayn Rand and completely loved the overwhelming nostalgia it brought in me. Silly or otherwise, my Ayn Rand phase was one of the most memorable times of my life.

P.S. An absolutely hilarious piece of writing on Ayn Rand.

Guest Post: Paulette Mahurin (The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap)

I have had a chance to interact with some really great people in the blogging world and author Paulette Mahurin is one of those.

Paulette Mahurin is a nurse practitioner, specializing in
women’s health in a rural clinic in where she lives with her husband and two
rescued dogs. She also taught in several college level nursing programs,
including UCLA, where she had a Master’s Degree in Nursing from their nurse
practitioner program. Her two passions are writing and rescuing dogs.While in
college she wrote and published two award winning non-fiction short stories.

The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap is set in a small Nevada town which has just received the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is the story of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating
consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.

All profits go Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center,
Ventura County, CA. (the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura
County). For more info contact the author through Facebook. Buy a book; save a

Paulette has agreed to feature here her wonderful article on tolerance.
Go ahead and read it!

First let me give a big heartfelt thank you to Priya, for
asking me back to your great blog site. I’m thrilled to be here with you, my
friend, thousands of miles away in geography but close at heart. When I mention
this heart connection I think of all the distance that exists between neighbors
living next door to each other, or perhaps even in the same home, when they
don’t possess this openness of spirit. So Priya, I dedicate this to you, in
India, and all our good friends who might stop by to comment, or share, in the
name of tolerance, in the name of our hearts opening, that we may know a more
harmony in this world.

I write so much about tolerance, the theme of my book, The
Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, but when I look at it, I don’t even know that I
fully understand what it is. Do I really understand the mechanism of bullying
another, putting another down because of their nature, the color of their skin,
their sexual preference, their religious beliefs, how they dress, you name it,
so many possibilities, so many differences that one could pick apart in the
other? Am I above all of it because I can talk about tolerance, write about it,
or am I just like Jose, the evil antagonist in my story, who finds fault with
everything Mildred Dunlap does? I think there’s a little, maybe even a lot, of
Josie in all of us. Reminds me of a quote from Jesus, he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone… (John
8:7, New American Standard Bible).
Carl Jung wrote about our dark side, he called it our
shadow. Rumi, the poet, wrote that when
the totality that I am and my humanness meld, and then I am whole
. Sri
Nisargadatta Maharaj wrote in his epic spiritual prose on non-dualistic existence
I Am That, and I paraphrase, “I am the space in which my mind and body
Then there’s Krishnamurti who wrote, the thought is not the thing, which is reminiscent of Descartes, I think therefore I am. One of the most
fundamental spiritual questions, when in a deep introspective meditation is, who am I?  Masters through the ages have pondered these
questions. Joseph Campbell in his famous talks on religion with Bill Moyer,
brings up a fundamental fact that what all religions have in common is their
mysticism, what Einstein called that point when reality becomes philosophy, the
point where nothing can be known.
From the perspective of these brilliant thinkers, past
leaders of all religious faiths, people of Letters, of education, and the
common man or woman who ponders life and the mysteries that abound; when I look
at anything from this perspective I can say for sure that the only truth I can
claim for certain is change, that nothing else seems certain but change. What
does all this have to do with hatred, intolerance?
If the greatest thinkers, who ever lived, are still alive,
and who have yet to be born, can’t answer any of these questions, then how the
hell can say we understand a thing about our very nature? If everything is a
mystery, from the mystery of the source that creates it all, than how can one
thing be bad and another good? How can something different be anything other
than simply different? Why is the fact that Mildred Dunlap is a lesbian a bad
thing, in the eyes of a homophobic? How come she isn’t just someone different
than the person judging? When do we stop seeing differences and see judgments?
And, why do we human beings robotically buy into what our parents said, what
their parents said, and not learn to use our minds to think things through,
instead of our minds dictating irrationality, based on belief, programmed
learning, conditioning?
I’m not knocking conditioning; it’s another human facet,
trait, but then why can’t I just see it for what it is? Underneath all my
thoughts, my thinking, my monkey crazy 
mind that goes on automatic habitual thinking, my belief systems, under
all this, in that quiet God space where life finds harmony, what is? There’s
that quiet ,and yet all the other. Both existing together, both interweaving,
erupting, without provocation or cause, just doing its thing.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m human. We all are and we all
do this. We judge yet come out with ridiculous statements like, I don’t judge, I’m not judgmental, then
we spew out, okay I spew out, things that are so judgmental and when I’m called
on it, I defend why I’m not doing it. In writing this book, I saw a lot of this
in myself, especially while writing about Josie, the hate filled rumor
mongering bitch, who can’t keep her mouth shut, and what comes out of it is
ignorant babble. I also see myself in Gus, the voice of tolerance and wisdom, I
see how I want to open more, be more accepting, love more, and I also see how
that is selfish because in opening I feel better, more alive.
When I started researching my book, the inspiration for the
driving force of the story line, Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, was always near at
heart. He was my reminder, my metaphor, of the injustice of intolerance, all
housed in beliefs, in laws, in narrow mindedness, all with roots of hatred for
what is, another’s nature, that can no more change than a dog can not wag its
tail. If we are to believe that God created all under the heavens and sun, then
how could it be that there are creations that just aren’t right, not okay, less
than human? Seems to me, this has to stem from some culturally based false
belief, that gets passed down lifetimes after lifetimes, so by the time I’m
into that belief, it feels real to me. Reality is created by thoughts, beliefs,
and world viewpoints. If I think that guy likes me and fantasize over how I
know he wants me, a reality is created inside of me. The brain doesn’t really
know the difference between a thought and what’s actually happening, it
secretes its chemicals, creating emotions, and man that is real. I believe I’m being
rejected and it feels bad. That’s real and I’m feeling it.
If I believed Oscar Wilde was evil, or wrong, or acting
illegally because he was a Gay man, then my mind is going to work it out to
make it seems so. But what about what is accurate? Who among us would
want to be prevented from loving? From intimacy, from the one we love? No one.
It’s one of the most basic human needs from time and memorial, right along with
our need to eat, drink, breathe, and if we had a switch or choice why would we
chose devastation, humiliation, labeling that puts us in
jail and kills? This has been the debate over sexual preference for decades, is
it nature or nurture? The abundant view is nature. And, with this I agree. I
agree and feel that Oscar Wilde did what came naturally, and in doing so,
acting through what he could no more prevent than can a leaf from taking in
carbon dioxide to survive, an ice cube melting in the sun, a fire’s warmth, all
things of nature, and so what’s left is my fundamental question, can I tolerate
it? Can I accept what is, see my insides resisting and wanting to change it,
and breathe in a new possibility, that it is different, and I’m okay with
different, because different is not bad, it’s just different. After all, aren’t
we all different? | Amazon UK | Goodreads | Shelfari | FacebookTwitter |

Book Blog | Book Website | Shelter Profits Are Going To |  Press Article

Guest Post: Dr. Lesley Phillips (author of The Midas Tree)

Today I’d like to welcome to my blog an author, Dr. Lesley Phillips, who has been kind enough to write a really great article for us on writing!

Dr. Lesley Phillips is a speaker, author, workshop leader, spiritual and meditation teacher based in Vancouver BC, Canada. She is the author of the book “The Midas Tree,” a spiritual adventure story for children of all ages.

The Connection between Intuition and Imagination

writing my book, The Midas Tree, I made an interesting observation. What many
writers call their imagination is what I call my intuition. I am a meditation
teacher and intuitive counselor, and I use my spiritual senses on a daily basis
in my work with students and clients.

I Wrote “The Midas Tree” Using My Intuition
My process
for writing is to enter a meditative state. From this vantage point I am able
to see the story unfold before my eyes as though I were watching a film. I can press
pause, fast forward or rewind and begin watching again whenever I like.

The book
outline was downloaded one sleepless night after a lengthy meditation on
clearing limits The Midas Tree is my first novel. So to stimulate my creative
flow and get started, I meditated on becoming a writer. The approach of connecting
with my higher consciousness and releasing my creative blocks very quickly
resulted in a flood of content.

By morning
I had met all the characters of the book and had a very good idea about the
plot, chapter headings and title The
Midas Tree

Intuitive Writing is a Common Approach by

absolutely loved the process because it was so effortless. I never experienced
writers block and writing for me was exciting because I was writing and reading
my novel at the same time.

I have
since read that this is the way that many writers approach their craft. For
example this is how J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. All the characters were
pre-formed and she watched the plot unfold before her eyes without necessarily
being the conscious director of their actions.

speaking with a seasoned author of YA novels, she explained that this was also
the way that she wrote, but that she had always just considered this was how
her imagination worked.

As I am an
experienced intuitive reader, from my perspective this way of writing uses
clairvoyance, which is the ability to see clearly as spirit. What I mean by
spirit is the unseen world, where thoughts have not yet formed into matter. It
is where all material creations come from.

My Previous Writing Experience was

though I found writing “The Midas Tree” easy, my previous writing experience
had been quite different. My background is in science and business and so most
of my prior exposure to writing had been very different. I have written a PhD
thesis, scientific papers, as well as business and marketing plans. I knew how
to research, think logically and weigh up all the pros and cons. Yet here I was
by-passing my intellect completely in order to give birth to a novel.

Now I am
sure that the intellectual approach can work for writing a book as well. After
all there must be as many ways of writing books as there are authors. I have
observed that many aspiring writers do a lot of research, take classes, consult
experts and join writers groups to learn the “correct” way to structure and
write a novel. They decide in advance who their readers will be and they craft
their work to be marketable to that audience.

Taking an Intellectual Approach is also
Common Amongst Writers

After I
had written my book I went to a talk by a famous crime writer. He used to be a
lawyer and wrote his books with great attention to details. He had a clear set
of guidelines that he followed that was his recipe for a successful crime
novel. It even included things like when new characters could be introduced and
what content should be included in the first 60 pages

this approach works for many successful writers. But for me it felt too
limiting because the emphasis is on getting it right and on containing yourself
within a set of pre-determined ideas.

I did not even
know who my readers would be until I had completed the novel. Then I had to
take a step back and see what I had created.

created a Spiritual Adventure Story.

It turns
out that The Midas Tree
is a spiritual adventure novel that teaches truths about the nature of reality
through an allegorical fairy tale. The hero battles with his ego on the journey
through the tree, which represents the journey of enlightenment.

The book
also includes the meditation techniques that I teach in my classes. It is
written a way that makes the information available to children and adults

It is my
deepest wish that this book will help children to validate their intuition, as
I did, and use it in the most creative and rewarding way for them.

The Midas Tree is available on Amazon as a paperback or e-book

And the author can be reached at:-

The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling # 1

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett is a fun little book about reading, woven around the simplest idea: What if the Queen discovers the pleasures of reading? As she becomes a passionate reader, Her Majesty arranges a reception to meet and interact with some of the writers she enjoys reading. At the soiree, however, the Queen is disappointed and she realizes something:

“Authors are as much creatures of the reader’s imagination as the characters in their books.”

I read The Uncommon Reader last week, but something like what Bennett has said has been on my mind for a month. I still haven’t finished reading The Casual Vacancy. I’m taking it slow. But I do like whatever I have read so far and here’s what I think (call this a mid-read review):

The first half of the book is very character focused and Rowling is great at building characters. You get easily attached to them and halfway through the book, you feel like you know them. The plot moves slowly but that doesn’t mean that the first half of the book is devoid of action. There are a lot of back-stories and memories and sub-plots to keep you involved and curious. The book is impressive and moving from the very beginning. I loved the way Rowling deals with hard emotions and gory details in brisk, matter-of-fact tones and the intended message is sent across subtly, even employing dark humour, quite unlike the bold life lessons in Harry Potter. The build-up is great, you just know something big is coming, and when it does, it arrives with a BANG!

Being the die-hard Harry Potter fan that I am, I can see why Harry Potter fanatics were shocked at how adult the novel is. In her defense, of course, Rowling did make it pretty clear that it was going to be nothing like Harry Potter. And yet, most of the bad reviews I came across were from disappointed Harry Potter fans, and were full of things like:

Rowling has written outrageous stuff for the sake of making the book “different.” She has tried too hard to sound adult. There is too much cursing and bad language and I lost respect for Rowling. 

After reading every single thing that Rowling had ever written about the Wizarding World and re-reading most of it over the years, her writing felt homey and comfortable and somewhere I felt I had a connection with her, which I am sure most people who grew up with the Harry Potter series feel. But then, like Her Majesty feels in The Uncommon Reader, we don’t really know an author just by reading their book. What J. K. Rowling shows us through Harry Potter is just one side of her. And so, even though the author of Harry Potter is someone that we love and is more than enough for us, J. K. Rowling doesn’t end there. She is full of surprises and The Casual Vacancy proves that.

Why I like to read Horror Fiction

Don’t roll your eyes, answer, “…because people like to be scared… it excites us… blah blah.” and convince yourself that this is one of those articles. Believe me, I don’t like to be scared. In fact, I never dared to read the horror genre until very recently, when I read my first Stephen King book. That too, only because some idiot told me it’s not as scary on paper as it is on screen..
For someone who got scared even by the obviously fake white faced, black eyed ghosts in most run-of-the-mill horror movies; and whose only experience with horror fiction involved pathetic childhood encounters with R. L. Stine, King’s book was something else. I am, what you call, a classic “scaredy-cat.” And this post is about why I love to read horror fiction.
“At last he crept back into bed and pulled the blankets up and watched the shadows thrown by the alien streetlight turn into a sinuous jungle filled with flesheating plants that wanted only to slip around him, squeeze the life out of him, and drag him down into a blackness where one sinister word flashed in red: REDRUM.” – Stephen King (The Shining)
It’s not like I’ve ever actually come across the word “Redrum” splattered somewhere in blood, like Danny here. But at night, when I read this, I’ll pull the blankets up to my chin and focus my eyes completely on the book, trying to ignore the shadowy trees outside my window. And I’ll be just as terrified as Danny is. And you know what I’ll tell myself… Such things don’t exist? Not really. Something like… “Calm down. It’s not like it’s happening over here!”
Horror fiction, according to me, anyway, is not about how gory you can be; but, how convincing. The story can star vampires or zombies, spirits and ghouls or just plain crazy people – a horror novel works when the reader believes in it, if only for a second. I mean, I can never be completely sure that there isn’t a ghost standing in the next room as I type, wondering what is making the tapping noise. And it’s this paranoia that a horror writer gets to play with.

Movies are too definite. When you watch a horror movie, you are watching someone else’s nightmare. But yours is always the worst. For instance, spiders or snakes or dark jungle scenes only creep me out – but add a white faced ghost to the equation and bam! I’m scared. In a movie, you’ll only see what you’re shown. In a book, though, the writer just lays the groundwork; the imagery is up to you. It is up to you to fill in the blanks, and like I said, nothing is scarier than your worst nightmare.

I still maintain, though, that I don’t like the fear. But the fear is intriguing. I find it fascinating, that a bunch of words can completely convince me that there is someone standing behind me, watching me read. How they can make me quickly glance back and make sure there isn’t. It’s horrible, that I can’t sleep well for days after I read a particularly scary novel. It’s wonderful, that a writer can so effectively do his job.

Authors I would DIE to meet!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new Top Ten list complete with one bloggers’ answers.Everyone is welcome to join. All you have to do is link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own post! This week’s topic:

Top Ten Authors I Would DIE to meet:

If I really think about it, I’d like to meet most of the authors that I read, whether I like the book or not. So it’s tough to list ten.

These are, as the question says, the authors I’d DIE (or… kill) to meet. The reason is either that I have fallen in love with their book/books, can re-read them hundred thousand times and would kill to talk about these books with their creators! Or… the authors affected me in a certain way or introduced me to a particular genre.
Here are the top ten authors that I’d want to meet – in no particular order – and the one thing that put them on this list:

1. Terry Pratchett (for the Discworld)

2. J. K. Rowling (for a thousand amazing book memories)

3. Diana Wynne Jones (for taking me back to my childhood)

4. Stephen King (for making me love horror fiction)

5. Yann Martel (for Life of Pi)

6. Mark Twain (for ridding my fear of classics!)

7. Neil Gaiman (for American Gods)

8. Isaac Asimov (for making me love science fiction)

9. Ayn Rand (well… I owe it to my “I-love-Ayn-Rand” high school self!)

10. Enid Blyton (for making me love books!)

(and… if screenwriters count – Walt Disney and Joss Whedon. Lol)