Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Today we’ve lost worlds, filled with people…

Posted in Uncategorized on January 23, 2018 by Austin Aslan

I’m very sad to hear the news today that Ursula K. Le Guin has passed away. She is one of the most sublime wordsmiths you will ever read. Period. She made the English language beautiful, and her stories are more vivid than reality, and often hold more truth. Her creativity was singular. We’ve lost today not just a skilled author, but worlds, filled with people. Pick up “A Wizard of Earthsea” today. Read it. Weep, for her loss, but also at her words. After all, she would tell you: words contain magic.


Fall 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3, 2017 by Austin Aslan


Hi! You found your way over to Austin Aslan during the Spring 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt! Congratulations. You may have arrived here via JENNIFER DIGIOVANNI. Awesome. (And my Team Gold #YASH host is Jillian Dodd. Check it out!) If you happen to not know what the heck I’m talking about, Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. And if you’re experiencing any technical glitches, don’t worry, Glitch Happens. Go here for some tasty medicine.

So, here’s the deal. I actually have some very exciting book related news to share. But… I can’t share it yet. This is STILL true! I will be able to share more very soon, so stay posted. Meanwhile, instead of slowing down your blog hunt with a fluffy, superfluous blog post (which you’d just skim anyway), I’ll get on with the show.



You’re welcome.


Chanda has provided me with a deleted excerpt from her YA dystopian, First. This novel takes place in a world where the elite can live forever if they transfer their minds into a younger person’s body. This works out great for the adults, but has tragic consequences for the kids.


In this deleted scene, one of the main characters, Socrates, is on his way to view potential candidates for his next Exchange procedure.


“Do you really think you’re going to find someone at Chesaning?” Ed stares out the blimp’s window, his hands clasped behind his back. “It’s in the middle of nowhere. They’re all hicks. No one’s been chosen from there in years.” The sun glistens off of the wispy gray hairs stretching across his head.

“Frost picked a boy from there not too long ago.” I settle back into my seat and let the soft synthetic material caress my skin. Ben whines at my feet, his ears pressed tight against his skull. He hates flying. I stroke his head until the brown and black shepherd mix settles at my feet. “Good boy.”

Ed harrumphs. “We should go back to Darson, or that one outside of Nashville…” He snaps his fingers, trying to remember the name. “Presley. That’s it. I heard three kids got picked from there last year.”

“I’m not going back. The candidates aren’t going to change enough in a few months for me to change my mind. You know whoever I pick has got to be special.”

“Yes, well,” Ed grumbles, but he doesn’t continue his argument. He knows choosing the perfect candidate for this delicate procedure is extremely important. My life depends on it. I haven’t lived for five hundred years just to take risks with my own mortality now.

He turns to me, and now he stands silhouetted against the light. I can’t make out the stern set to his thin lips or the way he squints his eyes, as if that’ll help him see better, but I know it’s there. That’s what happens when you’ve known someone most of their lives.

“As your advisor, I feel that I need to remind you that we don’t have much time left. You need to make a decision.”

“Duly noted,” I reply, my voice dry.

Sunlight streams through the oval-shaped windows, right onto my dry, wrinkled hands. The paper thin skin sags around veins and bones barely pumping blood. I’ve never been this old before. There’s a kind of tragic beauty to it. The ending of a life, the decomposition of a body, while its heart is still beating. Still, I’ll be relieved after I’ve found a Surrogate. Ed’s right, I’m cutting it close this time.

The intercom beeps, and the pilot announces that we’ve reached our destination and are about to land.

“I have a good feeling about Chesaning, my old friend. I’m sure we’ll find the right candidate here.” We have to. With cancer eating at my body and my mind, I have to act fast or I won’t have much of a soul left for the procedure.


Exciting stuff, Chanda! All right, fearless hunter, off you go… But before you scurry off to visit the next author on the hunt, Margo Kelly, please feel free to peek around my entire site for a while and follow the links to my two YA survival-disaster sci fi novels, THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD and THE GIRL AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. And please leave a comment below, let me know you stopped by!

And please check out my recent photo essays for Gore-Tex(R) chronicling my epic two-month, 800-mile Arizona Trail thru hike. And be sure to follow me on twitter, tumblr, instagram and facebook to follow my adventures in real time!

Please continue your delectable YA Scavenger Hunt by visiting the next lovely author: Margo Kelly. Go! Do it! DO IT NOW!!!



Posted in Uncategorized on January 29, 2017 by Austin Aslan

I’m usually good with words. I make a living formulating written sentences, at any rate. So when I shamefully admit that President Trump holds this bizarre power to render me speechless, I’m being somewhat rhetorical, yes, but I want you to pick up on my full meaning.

I’ve spent the past three months avoiding politics the way I might avoid the physical location of a loved one’s murder. It was too painful, too raw. I couldn’t, wouldn’t, talk or think about it. Period. I think I was in a clinical state of shock. I mean that literally. I knew what was coming and I knew to be petrified. From the moment I switched off the television on election night all the way up through inauguration, I understood in my marrow how frightening the reality of a Trump Administration would be. My news black-out wasn’t a failure of citizenship. My knowledge of Donald Trump and of American party politics was more than sufficient on its own to carry me, like gravity pulling a car running on fumes toward the gas station at the bottom of a hill, beyond the event horizon of election night to glimpse what an epic cataclysm the next four years could become. From Trump’s relationship with the press to his unscrupulous ties to foreign interests in conflict with our nation’s security to his psychopathic narcissism to the joy he takes in first making enemies and then casually ripping them to shreds, it has always been clear to me that we’d be entering a horrific, scary-as-hell moment in history.

We had literally handed over the White House to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Why would I want to watch that train wreck?

Days before the inauguration I tried very, very hard to strike a hopeful tone. I genuinely wanted our nation to succeed and to communicate that I was open to being surprised and even challenged by this fresh start. I offered the Trump Administration the benefit of the doubt. What in God’s sullied name was I thinking?

My fellow Americans of all stripes and creeds, it’s only been ONE WEEK. Trump has far exceeded the horrors of my imagination. This is where I get tongue-tied. I don’t even know where to begin: his calculated and diabolical campaign against facts and media dispersal? His willingness to stop scientific communication dead in its tracks, even when it concerns data that could help CHILDREN suffering from asthma? Actually moving forward on building a ridiculously expensive symbol that has zero functionality along our borders? Green-lighting RAIDS to tear our nation’s families in two? Actually making religious litmus tests for entry, much less membership, a real thing? IT’S BEEN ONE WEEK. I’m beginning to truly wonder which countries we’ll be at war with by this summer.

Here’s the rub, and what I should be leading with: What I’m most frightened of is the background radiation of Trump’s approach to governing. It’s not supposed to work, and the very fact that he won the Oval Office demonstrates that he’s capable of defying political gravity. But, conventionally, he can’t get away with what he’s doing. It’s not supposed to be possible. What literally keeps me up at night is the fear that he proves this convention wrong. American politics has always been an august and disciplined exercise in building consensus, adding friends and allies. Politics by the very definition of the word is an additive pursuit. You build coalitions and you find clever ways to create conduits of inclusion. You make your tent bigger. Trump has been in office for one week and every single action he has taken has been some form of kicking people out, punching them while their down, slamming the door in their face, and lighting fuses in people’s pockets. Name ONE action he’s taken that’s remotely reconciliatory to his political foes—who outnumber him, by the way.

Unless our politics is really THAT broken, by November of 2020 Trump should be polling in the low decimals. I HAVE to have faith that our nation won’t forget this past week. I need to believe we’ll hold Trump and his pack of wolves accountable for their simple breach of decorum–of this past week alone! Politics of Napalm can’t be allowed to work. It can’t last. It can’t be allowed to stand. If Trump’s legacy includes any victories whatsoever from JUST THIS PAST WEEK, the United States of America has lost something lasting in its heretofore noble fiber. We experience a very real degradation of our moral righteousness and our sacred code. The shining beacon of light on the hill that President Reagan once spoke of will have gone out. We’ve never been perfect, but we will now utterly lose the authority to point fingers and declare injustice in the rest of the world. That is a very real loss of righteous power. If this is God’s chosen nation, then we have undeniably failed Him. It’s an absolutely horrible, terrifying outcome. We’ve never been closer to failing the American Experiment. These are the stakes. After ONE WEEK, this is where Heath Ledger’s Joker has drawn the line in the sand.

After what happened in November, I don’t know whether or not we collectively have what it takes to win our moral high ground back. This is the question that keeps me sleepless and speechless. And I don’t even think we can wait four years to see what the answer is.

A Trump-era data point for your consideration

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2017 by Austin Aslan
I want to relate to you a true story that my eleven-year-old daughter, Ariel, experienced this past Wednesday, January 18, 2017, on her Flagstaff bus ride home from middle school. I hope it’ll generate support and awareness from all stripes; my daughter will be looking on.
She took her assigned seat in front of a high school guy who’s proven himself to be crass and obnoxious time and again. Two Navajo middle school girls boarded the bus, and the older boy behind Ariel called out loudly for all to hear, “Get off of here, this is a white bus!” Then he turned to his laughing friends and said–and this is dead true: “Are y’all ready for Trump’s inauguration?” Ariel says that she was clenching her fists and in shock the whole way home, but didn’t know what else to do. She said they joked about the bus being for “white people only” much of the ride.
This is clearly and incontrovertibly a data point that echoes a growing narrative to suggest that Donald Trump is re-normalizing overt racism in our very neighborhoods. This is really happening, folks. Poo-pooing it as Thin-Skinnery is an act of complicity. But I trust my broad social network to show solidarity, here; I really do. What are your thoughts/reactions? And keep it real; no trolling, please.

My take on the next four years

Posted in Uncategorized on January 19, 2017 by Austin Aslan

Here’s my take on the next four years: I’m hoping for the best, but I’ll not rest. I’ll end this on a surprising note to some friends on the right, but let’s be clear: In many aspects, Trump is a known quantity and we can expect epic disasters out of him. I think he’ll forever tarnish the majesty of our nation’s presidency with dangerous and reckless new precedents. This absolutely weakens America for the next generation, and it’ll be disappointing to live through. I think Trump poisons the Republican brand moving forward, the party will rue the day it allowed him to define Conservatism. He’s a tax-evading, helicopter-commuting, serial rapist who considers being peed on by prostitutes as a fun way to blow inherited riches. If you’re cool with him making headlines in front of your kids for the next four years, then you’re willing to compromise more for partisan politics than I am. We’re not going to have much in common on that front. Personally, my long, dark winter of a pity party is over. The circus show of the transition era is behind us. President Trump is now a reality. I will be present and engaged in my duty as a concerned citizen opposing horrible policies. BUT…here’s the pivot. Here’s the honest truth: I’m genuinely interested to see how this forced experiment plays out. I’m genuinely curious to see how an Exxon-Mobil exec does as Secretary of State. I’d like to give a conservative Iowa governor a chance to go to China and surprise us. I think Nikki Haley will do her job at the UN in good faith and that it may result in unpredictable positive outcomes long term. Our Democracy is a study in compromise, and balance arises out of the push back from all corners of our national debate. I authentically celebrate that, with pride and patriotism. I’m rooting for, and open to, good results from Trump’s never-before-tried brand of directorship. There are too many facets to this to name them all, but the bottom line is that I’m adopting a wait-and-see approach before casting judgement. This isn’t to say I’m oblivious to Trump’s mortal flaws and his selfish pomposity, or the insidious motives of numerous members of his team. But if you and I can’t approach this experiment in a spirit of authentic curiosity, then we’ve completely blown the lesson of November’s brutal schlacking by a vigorous minority of real, good faith Americans who used the system to send a message. If that message turns out to have traveled through a vacuum, then nothing moves forward at all, and I, for one, am not willing to cut off my nose to spite my face and the faces of my children who are the ones who really inherit this quagmire our nation is in. It bears mentioning, though, that this spirit of curiosity and hopeful citizenship should flow both ways. Those who elected Trump should work tirelessly to keep him acting in middle-America’s best interests (he will stray). You forfeit your gains if you let your guard down and blindly praise everything he’ll do while mocking the concern and anger of progressives. You, too, have an obligation to reject the absurd notion that things you don’t like to hear must not be valid or true. Facts exist. Science merits an august and enlightened place in our debates. You’re a damned fool if you dismiss out-of-hand the wisdom of our nation’s educated class, our scholars. Elites are athletes who run marathons in less than two-and-a-half hours. Stop vilifying me and my wife and our closest friends. We sit in your pews. We also live paycheck to paycheck. Those of us with higher education were born in the same trenches as you, and we don’t gather on the weekends to conspire to oppress the masses with pagan heresies. It’s a grave and terrible mistake to wantonly misunderstand the rigorous discipline of the Scientific Method, and to falsely perceive it as an enemy or a threat to your value system. That said, I full well understand that many liberals take the most cynical and pretentious position possible when it comes to looking down on rural Americans, small town Americans, Christianity, and other belief systems. These people need to shut their stupid pieholes and sit on their hands for a spell, imagine their lives in the shoes of an Oklahoma farmer as much as they haughtily demand the farmer do the same of an inner-city minority mother. And all of us–ALL of us–need to turn of the goddamned tv and passionately reject the 24-hour “news” culture. We need to stop forwarding political links to each other and pretending we’re somehow advancing the ball. Reject news as entertainment. This behavior does more harm to our collective soul than anyone in the Oval Office ever could. Anyway, these have been my thoughts during my silence over the past few months. I present them for your consumption out of dumb habit. But don’t expect me to weigh in very often on these matters via Facebook moving forward. We need to be showing up in real life in our local communities if we’re to heal. Meanwhile, I really do wish our country the best as we approach 2020. Wish but verify. I’ll be there, old school, pushing for my ideals in ways that are not boasted of on social media. I hope to see you with your bootstraps on, too. We’re all in this together.

New Arizona Trail essay published on Gore-Tex®…

Posted in Uncategorized on July 13, 2016 by Austin Aslan

I’m thrilled with the reception my latest Arizona Trail essay is receiving on the Gore-Tex® “Experience More” online platform. Link to it through the Gore-Tex® Facebook page, and if you “like” what you read, let them know! Thanks!

Brexit indigestion

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2016 by Austin Aslan

So, if you’re like me, you probably have been curious about the Brexit but not all that invested in thinking about it, because, let’s face it, the referendum was bound to fail and everyone would stop talking about it the next day, and, really, what they decide to do over there is their business. But I listened to the results coming in on the BBC last night gathering a dawning realization that history was in the works. And not in a good way. Forget the short term drama playing out in the markets. In my opinion, what we’re seeing here is a populist and nativist movement throwing facts aside and celebrating destabilization over stabilization for the sheer gut pleasure of wrecking havoc and chaos, fueled mostly by racism and protectionist tendencies in the wake of a migrant crisis, and also a genuine frustration at always having one’s fringe opinions (BUT ALSO one’s very mainstream kitchen table finances) marginalized and scoffed at. If that sounds familiar, it should. Trump and Bernie have both tapped into that same discontent and attraction to “burn it all down” as response to having your fringe ideas and your real money troubles constantly ignored. This is a dangerous and scary sentiment, and the strength of it out there in the world is cause for great concern. It’s 2016. Really? How disappointing and regrettable. But there it is. That this can go down in the UK is a serious wake up call that it can go down anywhere, even here. Our political system needs to adopt a way to make political minorities feel valued and respected, and quickly. This is a problem we all need to solve, on both sides of the aisle. I remain convinced that Trump is such a buffoon and pathological narcissist as to squander his chance to properly channel this thread in the US into real power, but that’s not going to kill the movement, and we’re in for a series of even scarier, more savvy candidates down the line who will learn how to really harness racial fear and nativism and isolationalism, and create higher and higher stakes for every successive election, until the dominance of ration and reason even in our own nation finally does snap and the high wire act plummets to its tragic and inevitable conclusion. And this is the world my kids will have to raise their kids in. I’m so disappointed in how cyclical our worst societal tendencies are proving to be. 2020 is the new 1930. WTF, world? I can only hope we learn from Britain’s mistake, and we avoid the dog’s temptation to chase down the car and actually catch it. Because, Jesus, you’re a dog and you just caught a car. Congratulations–now what?

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