Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guest Blogger: Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Author of Black and Orange

Halloween is coming early. Today's special guest is Benjamin Kane Ethridge, author of Black & Orange.

Forget everything you know about Halloween. The stories are distortions. They were created to keep the Church of Midnight hidden from the world. Every October 31st a gateway opens to a hostile land of sacrificial magic and chaos. Since the beginning of civilization the Church of Midnight has attempted to open the gateway and unite with its other half, the Church of Morning. Each year they’ve come closer, waiting for the ideal sacrifice to open the gateway permanently. This year that sacrifice has come. And only two can protect it.

Martin and Teresa are the nomads, battle-hardened people who lack identity and are forever road-bound on an endless mission to guard the sacrifice. Their only direction is from notes left from a mysterious person called the Messenger. Endowed with a strange telekinetic power, the nomads will use everything at their disposal to make it through the night alive.

But matters have become even more complicated this year. Teresa has quickly lost ground battling cancer, while Martin has spiraled into a panic over being left alone. His mind may no longer be on the fight when it matters most… because ever on their heels is the insidious physical representation of a united church: Chaplain Cloth.

There’s no time to read these days…
by Benjamin Kane Ethridge

Well I’m a writer, so I’m going to argue that statement. With all the media before us, I hear this complaint often. Some claim to hate reading and some claim they try but never find the time.

Let’s start with those haters. They are probably hiding behind their dislike of fiction because they feel intellectual pressure to like it. Meanwhile, they’re reading plenty of non-fiction, whether it be news, movie reviews, opinion pieces, or endless argument threads on FaceBook. You might spot one of these sorts sitting with (gasp) a newspaper somewhere. This is great. I tell them to go buy an ‘ography or a historical account or a political book. Before they know it, they’re sitting somewhere with a book, happy as a hidden clam, a reader. Life’s too short to feel inferior for no reason.

The second group are a sadder lot. They blame a busy life for not reading. They have a James Patterson book, doggy-eared on page sixteen, sitting on the back of their toilet (they usually Tweet while on the pot, you see). Incidentally, they also have hundreds of things on their DVR they haven’t gotten around to watching. They take two weeks to reply to an email that asks, “Beef or chicken at the wedding?”

I recall sending a twenty second YouTube video to a friend once—it was a goofy, forgettable thing, probably someone tripping or something. A couple months passed, we were having lunch and I mentioned the video. After a moment my friend said, “Oh I haven’t had time to watch it.”


My friend isn’t that busy. That’s my point. We have such an endless feast of entertainment to devour, we somehow redirect that freedom onto our peripheral lives. It doesn’t take much to finish a novel. With a four hundred page book, not exactly a feat of human endurance, five pages a day completes it in two and a half months. Bam! Done! Sell it on Ebay, drop it at a library, delete it. And using that approach, you can finish 1,825 pages in a year! How long does it take to read five pages? If you’re painfully slow, let’s say a half hour. I’m willing to bet most of us who aren’t Fortune 500 CEOs have that amount of time (hell, even them sometimes).

I’m not harping on anyone, especially since I’ve also fallen into the time-suck that is modern living. I love video games, TV, movies, news and social media. Love ‘em to bits. But if a day passes that I haven’t read (and I wanted to) then I have only myself to blame.

It comes down to discipline and desire. Don’t turn on anything electronic until you’ve met your page-goal that day. You’ll be very surprised that you not only have plenty of time to do what you always do, but you didn’t miss anything in the media world, and hey, wow, you might even be able to read a little more.

Benjamin Kane Ethridge is the Bram Stoker Award winning author of the novel Black & Orange. He received a Masters of Art in English Composition from California State University, San Bernardino, and his thesis was entitled: "Causes of Unease: The Rhetoric of Horror Fiction and Film." When he isn’t staring into a burning computer screen, Benjamin is defending California’s water supplies as an environmental compliance inspector.

Facebook:  Twitter:!/bkethridge. His official web presence is


AnthonyJRapino said...

"Don’t turn on anything electronic until you’ve met your page-goal that day."

But, but, but...My Kindle!?


I hear ya. I fall into "lazy" mode far too easily. Funny thing is, sometimes lazy mode for me *is* reading. It's relaxing, and something to do other than grade papers.

I guess that's what makes a reader a reader though. We actually crave a book rather than a movie sometimes. Not always, but often enough.

The right book helps too. If I start a novel that hooks me, it has 100 times the "drawing power" a TV show does. I need to get back to it and find out what happens.

Sarah Allen said...

Great post! Very needed advice, especially about getting straight to work. And the book looks awesome!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)