Style Sheet, Peeps, Style Sheet

One of the advantages of the collectivists is that they organize like nobody’s business, while we liberty minded…. Well — pats heads all around — well, you guys are adorable, but the individualists failed to organize, okay.

Now,while many of you translate this to a paramilitary clash and panic, don’t. most of their supporters aren’t nor will they commit violence, unless the can do it when no one is looking, sneakily, and against someone old, disabled, frail or very young.

Most of their supporters are in fact the “go alongs to get along” who just want to be “nice people” by siding with lunatics who want to put a boot on their necks. Oh, they also want to be smart because their college professors told them every “very smart” person believes in Marxism. This is why at the back of their brains every single one of the infantile “activists” thinks he or she will be in charge and not one of the lumpenpoletariat. No, they have never looked at actual communist countries, and if they did, as their panic at the xi-flu proved, they don’t get statistics or numbers at all.

So, yeah, the people they are using and weaponized– and paid — psychopaths, whom they bus from city to city. They’re armed and well organized partly because they do this all time and are given weapons and training. They’re very fearsome FOR ONE CITY AT A TIME.

In other words they are a potemkin army, raging across the country to intimidate the citizens. Which is why they have to punish Kyle Rittenhouse, because he pierced the paper silhouette. And why blue states refuse to arrest the rioters. They have very few of them. They’re the precious.

It does work on corporations and — apparently — Supreme Court Judges who, being in a highly social profession just buy what the news tell them and don’t investigate anything for themselves.

Look, I don’t think this bullshit will hold. And it’s part of the reason I think we’re going to have a brief, intense, localized clash.

This is not the seventies. They really had a majority of the indoctrinated youth then, and the youth then were a majority. With the attendant side effect that the youth then hadn’t been raised as little emperors, because they were the all-too-precious single offspring.

Those were the real Marxist riots. This is the Memorex. And like Chinese troops clashing with Indian troops, their rank and file are more likely to cry for their mommies, if they meet real opposition.

They have the psychos they train and bus around and which have a rap sheet long as their arm, and then they have the daft survivals of the sixties, at protests with their oxygen bottles and walkers.

And they have the get alongs. Who are useless in battle, but quite good at coordinated action on other fronts.

Listen to me on this if on nothing else: do not adopt their style sheet.

Because pixabay gave me images ranging from wallpaper to sheet music for style sheet, I assume that this is not a widely disseminated term.

So, a style sheet is used by publishing houses, to determine, say, how things should be punctuated. For instance, Baen uses more punctuation than other houses, who are on a war with commas even when they’re needed. Whether you hyphenate certain phrases or sentences is also a style sheet. It is, in other other words how they keep things uniform across all their books.

For writers, it usually goes by series. Each series will have a style sheet that determines which words you use for what. So, for instance, Athena is Thena, not Ena. And dimatough is one word.

The left is really good at style sheets and the right, unconsciously, adopts it. Which, I hate to tell you, is a bit problem.

Take for instance how even right wing sites are referring to the 6th of January as riots. There were no riots. Yes, there were some broken windows, but that seems to have been a minor element. There was nothing set on fire, and all their other claims have come up hollow. Even the theft of Nancy Pelosi’s laptop was probably faked to get rid of embarrassing (to her) data. The only person killed was a Trump Supporter murdered by the police (Ashli Babbit — say her name! — #Justiceforashlibabbit!)

So the sixth should be called a demonstration, a patriotic protest, or if you prefer “the glorious sixth” and my friend Bill Reader objects strenuously to my calling it “the forlorn hope.” thought it obviously was.

The left for instance refers to past presidents differently. President Obama, but Mr. Bush. Hell, they did that while the were in power, too.

What I want you to do is notice these things. And start countering them. Don’t call Occasional Cortex AOC. Her name is Occasional Cortex, first of her derpitude.

Don’t call the four bints of the Marxist apocalypse ‘the squad’. Call them “the squat.” because that and diddly is all they know about anything.

Don’t talk about privileged (unless you’re talking about liberals) because that means they were given something for nothing. Talk about rich. Or well connected. Or smart. Or whatever the crazy people mean when they talk of privilege. (Yes, they are actually privileged. Because they have a private law that favors them.)

Look, half of the way you think is bounded in by words. And half of the way other people think too. By using the leftist chosen terms, you’re lending them your unwitting support.

Don’t lose the war of words. Come up with more accurate terms, and think about what you’re saying.

Suggesting terms in the comments is perfectly all right. It’s early morning, I’m uncaffeinated and I can’t think of any others. However, you can go forth and think of a lot of them (failing to organize is an advantage sometime.) Try to keep it non-profane.


We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Promo Post

*Irrelevant but interesting science-fictional note!
I have found proof of the Mandela effect. I come from a parallel world where FB never reverses its decisions. I was banned on Friday for seven days, and and am now free again! I mean of course I’d protested the ban, but I expected nothing to come of it.
This never happens where I come from, so obviously a parallel world. – SAH*

Sorry this is so late. The reason we’re traveling interfered.

This is not your regular promo post. I’ll probably do that come Wednesday.

This is the:

Looking for the lost promo post.

Photo by Valou _c on Unsplash

In other words, this is a very irregular promo post due to the fact that Amazon database seems to have had a… strange accident.

My man on the inside (not a man, not precisely on the inside, but with visibility inside) tells me that it’s stupidity not malice: to be exact the highly demanding form of stupidity that comes with computer programming.

This won’t completely mitigate it, but it will bring some visibility to books suddenly hard to get to. And I’ll link at insty tonight which should help more.

And so, for now, let’s look for the lost, shall we? Anything I miss, throw in comments, please.


FROM S. KIRK PIERZCHALA: Echoes Through Distant Glass: A Near Future Cyberpunk Drama

In a disturbingly familiar future, the use of technology and access to information is strictly monitored by local and federally trained specialists.

One of these agents, Officer Owen MacIntyre, is tasked with investigating a potential Chinese terror threat to the Pacific Northwest; undercover, he crosses paths with the unpredictable and tragic Tomás Chen-Diaz.

Despite being heir to an untouchable global chaebol that operates according to their own exclusive rules, Chen-Diaz exists as a hapless nomad living at the whim of Francisco Alejandro, his arrogant and conniving elder brother.

The paths of these three men intersect in deadly ways when MacIntyre rapidly finds himself drawn into a dark storm of international conspiracies, while uncovering the dangerous, long-hidden secrets of Tomás’ powerful family, secrets Francisco is desperate to keep hidden but which MacIntyre is determined to bring to light…no matter how heavy a professional and personal toll it will demand of him.

In this memorable cyberpunk techno thriller, timeless themes of humanity are deftly interwoven within a tapestry of relevant geo-political and bioethics issues. The vivid prose, haunting imagery and unforgettable characters will linger with the reader long after the thought-provoking and emotional climax.

FROM C. V. WALTER: The Alien’s Accidental Bride.

Molly was no stranger to life’s little detours. After the last upheaval, she left her family’s law firm to become a maintenance technician on the Space Station Bradbury 12. When an accident knocks her off her feet, she’s going to have to draw on all her resilience to get back up. First, though, she’s going to have to figure out how to talk to the big, blue alien trying to help her.

There wasn’t supposed to be a space station where Mintonar’s ship emerged from the galactic bridge. As far as they knew, there wasn’t supposed to be intelligent life on the planet, either. Proof of how wrong they were is laying in his Medical Bay and it’s his job to save her. When he touches her, his life turns upside down and his mission suddenly includes figuring out why everything inside him insists she’s his mate. And convincing her of the same thing, especially when they don’t even speak the same language.

ALSO FROM C. V. WALTER: Bound to the Alien Engineer.

Mindy’s best friend Molly was a maintenance technician on the Bradbury 12. When Molly went missing, Mindy started looking for answers but all she found were more questions. They were supposed to meet up at Geniuscon, a science fiction convention that attracts people from every walk of life, and she knows Molly’s son Aidan is going to be there. Determined to get in touch with her friend, Mindy tracks down Aidan and meets some of his new friends, the guys cosplaying as big, blue aliens.

The first time he heard her voice, Alvola knew Mindy was the one. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t understand the language or touch her skin, the sound of her voice made his body sing. Determined to meet his mate, Alvola volunteers for the mission to Earth to pick up Aidan and meet with the scientists and engineers that will be their first official contacts with humanity. When Alvola actually meets Mindy in person, his mission becomes to keep her by his side, no matter the cost.

FROM PAULA RICHEY: Penance: A Young Adult Superhero Novel (Teen Heroes Unleashed Book 1).

Penance Copper is tired of being a tool for evil.
She’s been working for Acid ever since she was small. She had no other choice, he owned her. Even with her superpowers, she’s never been able to escape. But at least he only has her steal. Never anything worse than that.

Until he orders her to use her powers to kill the superhero Justice for investigating trafficked girls.

Penance doesn’t want to be a murderer. She uses the opportunity to run away from Acid and make a new life. One where she can make up for everything she did on Acid’s orders.

But events larger than Penance are spinning into action, and soon she is embroiled in an intergalactic encounter with an alien boy named Kail, who is perhaps as lonely and broken as she is. Even if he is infuriatingly arrogant.

The first young adult series in the shared Heroes Unleashed universe launches with the Teen Heroes Unleashed series. Readers will love hardworking, sassy Penance as she tries to learn to use her superpowers to save the world instead of to steal.

Can Penance and Kail find the missing girls and save the Earth from an alien invasion? Or will Acid find her again and punish her for running away?

Read Penance today to find out!

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN: Wolf of the World: The Elect: Story the First.

One searches for oil. The other searches for revenge.

Gregor watches Americans searching for oil in Carpathian Poland. As the Americans grow frustrated by their lack of success, Gregor grows fascinated by Linda, the petrogeologist. His master, Lord Ivan Bethlán, shares that fascination, and demands that Gregor bring Linda to him.

Linda just wants to find oil and get home to Houston. She does not care for being watched – or stalked – and confronts the large black dog haunting the woods near the survey team’s camp. Taken by his politeness and excellent German, Linda starts to wonder. Why is he so well-spoken? And who is the master who Gregor will not name?

A geologist and a Calvinist werewolf must join forces to stop a monster.

A dark fantasy with romance elements.

FROM C. CHANCY: Gateway to Fiction.

Do the Research, Keep the Shiny! A writer’s guide. Want a good story? Choking on yet another sparkly cinematic production that has all the flash and explosions yet no real people in it? If you want stories done right, sometimes you’ve just got to do it yourself. But how? Roll up your sleeves, we’re going to cover it all. No preaching; no “but thou must follow steps X, Y, Z”. Just, here’s some ideas, and some examples, of how it can work. From getting over that first hump of pen to page, through getting ideas and characters from point A to point B, all the way to how to keep breathing when the whole world’s crumbling in. There are links. There are tropes. And there’s a sober explanation of why fanfic has always mattered. In your mind’s eye there’s a world no one else has seen. Here’s some tools. Worldbuild away!

FROM MARY CATELLI: Sword and Shadow.

A short story of magic and reunions.

At long, long last. . . .

For five long years, Sanchia has held the lands of her husband alone, while he fought in the desperate war against malign shades. Much will change when he returns.

Especially because he brings the magical sword, found in the mountains, with him. And, it turns out, other things follow.

ALSO FROM MARY CATELLI: Through A Mirror, Darkly.

Powers have filled the world with both heroes and villains. Helen, despite her own powers, had acquired the name Sanddollar but stayed out of the fights.

When the enigmatic chess masters create a mirrored world reflecting her own home and the world about it, it’s not so easy to escape. All the more in that the people of that world are a dark reflection of all those she knows.

FROM JERRY BOYD (WHO ALERTED ME TO ALL THIS): Bob and Nikki (16 book series).

From Book 1: Bob thought he was doing fine on his own. Then the love of his life fell out of the sky. Can he get her back in the air with auto parts and a cutting torch? If he does, will she ever come back?
Nikki took a job before she saw the equipment. Can she keep her passengers alive on a strange planet?
Are the natives friendly?”
John is doing well with his underground medical practice, when his sometime partner Bob calls him with a job. A job that changes everything.

Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6, Book 7, Book 8, Book 9, Book 10, Book 11, Book 12, Book 13, Book 14, Book 15, Book 16

FROM DOROTHY GRANT: Shattered Under Midnight

Raina escaped to Freeport with a tour booked under a stolen ID, and a plan to lose herself in the city. Instead, she found a city in revolt, and now both sides are after her to control the alien gifts engineered into her DNA.

Her only ally is an offworld investigator trying to get to the bottom of the explosive mix of on-planet and alien politics… but his secrets are even deadlier than her own.

From the back alleys of the souk to the depths of alien ruins, they’re now in a desperate fight to stop the revolution before everything is lost!

FROM MACKEY CHANDLER: The Long Voyage of the Little Fleet.

In the first book of this series “Family Law”, Lee’s parents and their business partner Gordon found a class A habitable planet. They thought their quest as explorers was over and they’d live a life of ease. But before they could return and register their claim Lee’s parents died doing a survey of the surface. That left Lee two-thirds owner of the claim and their partner Gordon obligated by his word with her parents to raise Lee. She had grown up aboard ship with her uncle Gordon and he was the only family she’d ever known. Him adopting her was an obvious arrangement – to them. Other people didn’t see it so clearly over the picky little fact Gordon wasn’t human.
After finding prejudice and hostility on several worlds Lee was of the opinion planets might be nice to visit, but terrible places to live. She wanted back in space exploring. Fortunately Gordon was agreeable and the income from their discovery made outfitting an expedition possible. Lee wanted to go DEEP – out where it was entirely unknown and the potential prizes huge. After all, if they kept exploring tentatively they might run up against the border of some bold star faring race who had gobbled up all the best real estate. It wasn’t hard to find others of a like mind for a really long voyage. This sequel to “Family Law” is the story of their incredible voyage.

FROM MONALISA FOSTER: Ravages of Honor: Conquest.

The war for humanity’s freedom is just beginning.

Syteria is a survivor. She survived being kidnapped by the Matriarchy. She survived being turned into one of their slave soldiers. But even she didn’t think she’d survive saving her brother’s life, an act of treason.

After the ship taking her to her execution crashes, she finds herself a stranger in a strange land.

Syteria’s very existence threatens the donai—a race of genetically engineered warriors who overthrew the humans who created and enslaved them. Only one person stands between life and death, between freedom and slavery—Darien, a half-breed donai prince who defied his emperor to rescue her, a derelict spaceship’s only survivor.

His motives are suspect, especially when turning her over to the tender mercies of the Imperium would cost him nothing and redeem him in the eyes of the emperor.

To save their societies Darien and Syteria must risk everything—even falling in love—to forge an alliance that will change everything.

FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: Grandmaster’s Gambit.

The disastrous war of 1913 is over, and young journalist Isaak Babel has used his fame as a war correspondent to win a peacetime job covering an international chess tournament in New York City. However, trouble is aboard the airship Grossdeuschland, in the form of the notorious Bolshevik terrorist Koba and his henchmen. Men with a dark plan, and New York City will not welcome their visit.

ALSO FROM LEIGH KIMMEL: The Secret of Pad 34.

Who would put a ceiling on humanity’s expansion into space?

That’s what Gus Grissom wants to know. While fishing offshore from Cape Canaveral, he glimpses a mysterious undersea city of unearthly geometries, marked with a strange three-armed cross symbol.

His efforts to research it bring him veiled threats from strangers at his door. Trouble blights an exemplary career. However, Gus refuses to be cowed into silence, and pursues every lead he can find.

HP Lovecraft wrote that we live on a placid island of ignorance and were not meant to travel far. This is the Space Race in a world where the Soviet Union is not our only adversary.

FROM WILLIAM LEHMAN: Keeping The Faith: The John Fisher Chronicles.

it was supposed to be a simple poaching case. An “easy way to get back on the horse, after your injuries”. Oh yeah, it involves lycanthropes, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The trouble is, NOTHING is ever simple when John Fisher, Federal Park police, and retired Navy SEAL is assigned to the case… When they found the dead Marine, that’s when things really went south. John and his partner have to solve poaching, the murder of an active duty Marine Lycanthrope and several other crimes, but it seems the Government isn’t exactly happy to help. This is the second in the John Fisher Chronicles, which started with Harvest of Evil, and will continue…

FROM ROBERT M. LEGER: The Word of the Bedlamite.

Harrison’s team of smugglers is thrown in Bethlehem Prison where they meet a strange prophet-like man, who calls himself Woodman. He will help them, he says, take down the Unit, the ever-more-powerful device whose inventors want to use to control people’s lives, and soon, their thoughts.The crazy man guides them via airship, steamship and train past robot-encased cops – Robbies – to remote places where the imprisoned and tortured have no hope. Steampunk-inspired, The Word of the Bedlamite tells of a battle against creeping mind-control and the power of free thought in a world surrendering itself unknowingly to chains of the mind.



The Galactic Empire is in a century-long period of decline. Emperor Augustus VI knows it. Ninety years old, he’s seen it happen during his lifetime. He wants to stop it. His problem: none of his advisers sees it, and every measure he takes to stop it fails.

Historian James Ardmore sees it, too. Researching it has been his life’s work. He submits his three-volume analysis for publication, but it’s banned by Imperial censors.

Gail Burke sees it up close and personal. An Imperial Marine officer, she’s been court-martialed for following Imperial regulations. Now she awaits the outcome of an appeal on the charges.

Together can they rescue the Empire from collapse?


When does this story occur? The blurb says the Empire is in a century-long decline.

EMPIRE: Renewal takes place in the middle of the fourth century of the Galactic Era, about three hundred years after Emperor Trajan died. EMPIRE: Succession left the Empire in good shape, with a good ruler, and measures in place to protect the Throne. Three centuries later, the wheels have started to come off.

So what happened?

As will often happen in good times, people forgot what got them there. Why some traditions were the way they were. They forgot the lessons of the past and stopped doing the things that had made them successful. The end result of that is decline.

Sounds depressing.

Oh, it is. Which is why I didn’t write a book about the decline. I pick up the story when an Emperor who sees what’s going on decides to do something about it. To stop the decline. That’s where we pick up our story for this trilogy.

The blurb mentions the Emperor, the Historian, and the Marine. I take it that’s the Marine on the cover?

Yes. Captain Gail Anne Burke. She’s one of the main characters of the story. Young, beautiful, intelligent, and devoted to the Empire. She plays a critical role.

It looks like you have another new cover artist.

Yes, Rotwang Studio, which is Luca Oleastri and his partner. They’re based in Italy. I’ve got him doing all three covers for the Renewal Trilogy.

And that’s a scene from the book?

Oh, yes. Captain Burke ends up being in the right place at the right time to cause a little mayhem.



The Empire has won the war against the Alliance. But at the close of that war, an invasion fleet from the Democracy of Planets sought to annex Jasmine. So Jasmine annexed to Sintar, and Sintar destroyed that fleet, causing resentment that is driving the Democracy of Planets to go to war with Sintar.

The Democracy of Planets is a much more deadly enemy than the Alliance. They have a new navy, too, with powerful new warships, and are much more of a military challenge. The Emperor’s strategy from the Sintar-Alliance war won’t work on the DP.

Will the Emperor’s new strategy work? And if he wins the war, how will he ever win the peace?



It sounds like the Democracy of Planets government gets sucked into a war they don’t want in EMPIRE: Conqueror.

That’s right. The leadership doesn’t want a war, but they’ve been manipulating public opinion against Sintar for years. When the fleet sent to annex Jasmine is destroyed in EMPIRE: Warlord, it inflames their public opinion, and they have no choice but to proceed to war.

This sounds like a tougher war than the one in EMPIRE: Warlord.

Yes and no. The Alliance was a real threat to Sintar. Their strategy was good — to occupy portions of the Empire and force a peace on their terms — but their tactics were bad. In particular, they didn’t know the Empire could see their forces mustering and already knew about the war vote.

The Democracy of Planets is a different challenge. They have some structural weaknesses in their military posture. But it won’t be enough to win the war. The Emperor has to fight the war in such a way as to win the peace. That’s actually a tougher challenge.

The Empress and the Co-Consul are there to help, though.

Yes, and so is Saaret’s wife Suzanne. She’s the ‘everyman’ inserted into their councils. She has given me, since EMPIRE: Tyrant, a touchstone for the Emperor’s policies, as well as a person for the reader to use to learn what was going on.

I see the new ideas group is back as well.

They’ve been there all along, together with the business ideas group and the new ideas review group, as the Consulting function in Imperial administration. But you’re right, they’re explicitly back in EMPIRE: Conqueror, to research how to win the peace long term. They’re critical in advising the Emperor how to ensure the peace.

What is the cover scene this time?

It’s one of the confrontations between a main Sintar formation of thirty-two thousand ships and a main DP formation of twenty thousand ships. It’s more of a tactical display because the ships wouldn’t be anywhere near that close in a real confrontation. But the perspective did allow James Lewis-Vines, the artist, to showcase the difference between the new-design Sintaran warships and the new-design DP warships.

How long did EMPIRE: Conqueror take to write?

Thirty-seven days, so five to six weeks, pretty par for the course for an EMPIRE book. More interesting is that I finished the day before the first anniversary of starting EMPIRE: Reformer, so I wrote all six books in a single year.

You have an Author’s Afterword at the end of EMPIRE: Conqueror.

Yes, I wanted to talk to the reader a bit about the story, about how I write, and about my themes. In particular, I wanted to tell the reader the starting premise of the whole series. There’s a big reveal there.

An Important Request

We interrupt the current insanity for a very important request.

If any of the authors who comment here, or their friends have books missing, and you can get a direct link, please drop that link in the comments and I will do a very special grande gigante con mui octopus promo post tomorrow.

Thank you!

On The Road Again

On day two of the road trip. Not driving because my glasses weren’t done in time, so I’m in the back seat, editing. The cursed book WILL be done by the end of the weekend, rain or shine.

And it’s all gone myffic. Husband and son, for reasons unknown to me, decided the Roman gods lived in the small town where we overnighted. This is why I drink. No, wait, when I drink I do it because I like it, but I actually haven’t drank much. I’m fairly sure in the middle of editing I misunderstood something, because I told them that it was okay, since we weren’t near the trailer park, and they looked puzzled. However, it diverted the discussion into fun things Zeus could turn into.

Weirdly, I slept very well for the first time in months. Also longer than 5 hours which is a miracle, because I haven’t achieved this in months, as well. Being fully awake is kind of weird.

Now they appear to be discussing unicorns. Gosh, I hope it’s a game son is playing on phone? Or that my hearing has gone worse. Or something. They’re talking about hooves going clop clop clop.

Considering how bad my hearing is, and being in the backseat with the road noise all around, it’s a bit hallucinatory. I’ll — probably — survive this, but it’s going to be a long psychadelic day.

Well, at least I’m not driving, so no rain of frogs.

Got an alarming email from Jerry Boyd, who says his books are being systematically pulled off Amazon and he doesn’t know why. This is why I started a newsletter. But we really need alternatives, y’all.

So if any of you have ideas, or can help, reach out to him.

I haven’t read the news, and I probably won’t till tonight at the other hotel, so ya’ll carry on!

Have fun. don’t set fire to the blog, okay?

I’ll Be Away Most of the Day

So this is partly an excuse to do an open floor.

BUT as it happens, I also have links to share today.

First, I’m part of this giveaway.


(Yeah I know. They went and mentioned the movie, but anyway….)

I might have some images to share with you later, too.
Oh, and my editor says you need to order through a comic store…. but that you can ask for a particular cover.

OTOH someone in the comments had a link to buy the signed editions, I think? If someone did, please post again, and if I find an area with internet during the day I’ll add it.

Anyway, it’s late, and I’m going to bed, since we’re getting out early tomorrow.

Becoming Who You Are

One of the reasons that Jordan Peterson (hail lobster!) is revolutionary (and shouldn’t be, in a sane society) is that he understands we don’t live from good intentions and that words alone don’t change reality.

Yeah. Shouldn’t be. Because this is obvious. This is the wisdom of millennia, which is why most major religions encourage praxis (or require it) as well as faith and words. Faith love and charity, and while you might think of love as airy fairy fweeings you know d*mn well it’s supposed to be active love, showing love for others. (Agape, not eros.) And charity, well, its all action, if you’re doing it right.

But we got convinced, somehow — in my opinion by giving a disproportionate importance to academics and “very smart people” — that what you do doesn’t matter, and that words can change reality. The way popular perception ran off with quantum experiments didn’t help one wit.

It’s not that words have no influence. Jordan Peterson (HAIL Lobster) is right, in that you shouldn’t hang out with people who say words that demean and discourge you, and you should try not to do that to yourself too. But most of the words’ power is in our heads, not out int he real world. And we, ourselves, are a weird combination of body and brain, so that we’re susceptible to having our thoughts changed by words, but how much that changes our bodies varies, depending on how hard the change is and what it requires of you, and how well it meshes with the monkey body.

So, for instance, words can give you confidence before a bit trial, if they come from someone you respect. “You got this.”

If they come from you, it’s harder, because you know yourself too well to trust yourself. (Which honestly, just makes you normal.)

HOWEVER because you don’t trust yourself and you have a suspicion you’re just not right in the head or whatever, bad words from you can have a disproportionate strong effect, because of course you believe THOSE. I mean, you’re speaking against interest, so of course you believe it, right?

So, don’t tell yourself you’re a looser, or a no-goodnick, or that your diet is going to fail, or that your book is stupid. Because you’ll believe that and the back brain will direct actions accordingly.

In the same way, if you hang out withpeople who constantly undercut you, and if it’s repeated often enough, you’ll believe THEM and then sabotage yourself. So, don’t hang out with people who put you down. hang out with people who support you.

But that’s words influencing your brain which influences your actions.

However, what words can’t do is by themselves change the whole tenor of your character, because that’s habit as well as belief. They can’t change the laws of physics, so even if you believe you can fly, you’ll still splat. They can’t change biology, so if you’re sick and tell yourself you’re well, it ain’t gonna cure you. (TRUST me. The number of times I tried “mind over matter” and refused to go to the doctor. It doesn’t WORK.)

You’re also not going to change history by saying it wasn’t so. Yeah, sure, there was the occasional “person of color” in Europe in the middle ages. They tended to be treated somewhere between freaks and curiosities, but they were there, because people travel. That’s what people do. But they weren’t there, in any way shape or form in sufficient numbers to make a difference to history. Their very oddity cut them out of society. No matter how many obscure cases you find and keep insisting that the MASS of “people of color” was just suppressed, it ain’t gonna change history. It just wasn’t so. English people (and German people) thought people who could tan, like me or mine, as another race, and of black people as bizarre BECAUSE they weren’t used to them. There weren’t enough of them around. Therefore–

Exceptions don’t make the rule, and hunting exceptions doesn’t change history. And that goes double, with a dollop of pudding for Women Warriors, and the other cherished illusions you keep hoping to impose on reality by shouting and stomping your little hoofkins. That’s not how any of this works.

And you’re not going to change math by claiming it’s oppressive. You’re only going to make bridges fall and rockets blow up.

And — I must emphasize this — you’re most definitely not going to levitate the Denver Mint by the power of your mind.

So, push those out of your mind, and concentrate on what you can change, and part of what you can change — most of what you can change — is you.

To put it metaphorically, you can’t grow wings, but you can learn to fly planes. (Note YOU can. I have no desire to.) Or whatever it is you want to do.

And the genius of the commonplace that Peterson brings to bear is this: you change the words by changing the actions. And you start simple, and you form habits. (I have a book at my right hand about changing your habits to be better at producing words. I probably should you know read it, because the other thing that words can’t do is jump from the printed page into my head.)

And to change habits you start with small things.

Make your bed. Clean your room. If you can do it, and particularly if you can maintain it, you become someone who makes his bed (every day) and keeps his room clean, which since you see this place every day immediately makes you feel that you have SOME skills. And if you have some skills, there’s other things you can do (right?)

I mean, a person who makes his bed and cleans his room surely can extend that a little and take his meds on time. Make himself/herself healthy meals and eat them. And if you’re a person who can do all that, you can study for your exams and pass them. Or march your little butt out the door every morning, and look for a job till you find one. And certainly someone who can do all that, can also show up for work on time every day, and perform according to spec.

Next thing you know, you have a good job, are supporting yourself, have a family, and are a productive member of society instead of hunkering down in a corner working on your self esteem by telling yourself “but I’m really smart and I deserve!”

Because frankly, you know that you’re bullshit. A smart person wouldn’t need to say that.

A smart person does things.

Now, I’m not going to say any of this is easy. I’m trying to change my habits. I’m fighting the cursed book. I’m trying to re-establish a schedule which got nuked by moves and illness, but you know, we’re about to move again, and…. well. yeah. I fall. often. And I have days that are just flushed straight down the toilet.

That’s okay. Because it’s not what you are. If this were about who you are: “I’m good, I’m smart” then a bad day proves you’re not and ruins everything.

This is about becoming. That’s something you work at every day. And if you fall on your face, you dust yourself off and try again tomorrow.

At some point you’ll become someone who does whatever it is effortlessly. And then you can reach bigger roles. And if illness or whatever interrupts you, you work on becoming again.

Because what you do teaches you what you can be, and teaches you the self esteem that all the pointless praise can’t and won’t teach. (All it teaches is conceit.)

So, while I’m washing and drying clothes to pack, to go off for a week and try to find a landing place, you go forth and work on becoming what you want to be.

You might not be good enough to do what you want to — yet– but you can become good enough. If you build yourself into someone who can do that, one step at a time.

Now go do it.

Hail Lobster 😉

But With A Whimper

In one of his world’s Clifford Simak had a near depopulated Earth, in which each human remaining had retreated to his country estate and lived like an English gentleman of the golden era, attended by android servants.

When I was little, lying in bed, reading these books, after the daily Malthusian sermon at school, this place and time seemed very desirable. (To be fair it still does. That’s the appeal of a certain type of escapist novel, and why people keep reading them and writing them. I mean, look, which of us given the choice wouldn’t live at Manderley or Pemberley as lord or lady of the manor, if it came staffed with androids, to whom we owed no real responsibility, and had all modern conveniences?) Sure, every man a Lord, every woman a lady, but more importantly the kind of life that instinctively appeals to those of us who grew up in places with deep history: generations, living in one house. Growing old watching ones grandkids play in the same fields we played in (which are not covered by concrete) and then lying at rest besides the graves of one’s ancestors.

Even those of us who chose — of our own volition — a much different path, and have as restless feet as cats who never had them rubbed with butter, feel a certain atavistic appeal to that kind of dream.

For a long time, I held on to that dream, that thought. If somehow the Earth’s human population went down — in Simak’s case it was through going to space — then we could have that. Well, given a bit more development in robots, and the creation of android-like ones. (Because if you don’t have enough humans around, then having robots that look like humans is important. We are creatures of the band.)

In fact, I pretty much grew up believing all the crap they taught us in school. The Earth was over populated. We were destroying what was needed for a stable Earth environment, because there were so many of us. We were going to freeze! After we were nuked till we glowed. Oh, and oil was running out. So the post-apocalyptic world would be very cold and very limited. And all of it. I even believed in global warming, briefly, in the late eighties, because well, it was Scientific American (stop laughing) and they wouldn’t publish crazy non-scientific stuff. Maybe they had calculated wrong, when they espected the ice age.

When I was 29 someone sent me an issue of Reason. Well, actually a six month (?) subscription to Reason, which was back then much better, under the admirable direction of Virginia Postrel. I remember clearly when I got the first issue, because it was such a pivot point in my life. We were living in a rented house in Columbia, South Carolina, while getting our house in Charlotte ready to sell on weekends. We had three cars but usually only one working car at a time (yes, like that) and my husband worked way too much. But on Friday night, he picked me and #1son, who was just walking, from the house in Columbia, and we drove to Charlotte, to work on the other house. (Paint, clean up, re-flooring. The usual.)

That day we went outside, and to the mailbox, then came back and I sat down on the steps, blocking the exit from the large iron-railing enclosed space. This was great, because there was nothing there to hurt the kid. I mean he could throw the rug around and/or knock on the door but that was it. So I had time to read this magazine I had just gotten.

A year later, when we were living in a downtown apartment in Colorado Springs, I was still reading Reason and still re-adjusting my perceptions of the world. Until one day the monstrous but liberating hypothesis penetrated my brain: What if everything they taught me to believe about the excess of humanity, the inevitable depletion of oil, the bad effects humans have on the planet is a lie?

I didn’t tell anyone. DUH. I know what happens when you dye a monkey pink and put it in the middle of the band. Heck, I don’t think I told my husband about it.

And then, of course, we got the net. Well, we had it at the time, but it was all um… limited to the network you were on, and Dan refused to get AOL for the same reason he doesn’t like adobe products. Prejudice of someone who works in the field.

So, I first read the Colorado Springs library dry. Mostly non-fic tbh. Mysteries I bought in Denver’s mystery bookstore, three huge bags, twice or three times a year. But I always read a ton of non-fiction, and it’s more predicated on what I stumble on, and whatever grabs me right then than any reasonable or sane plan. In those days, in addition to what was available to borrow, we also attended every library sale we could find, and I would by whatever my latest obsession was. (We get rid of 2/3 of our books every time we move, then they come back.) I still do the same online, where I will pursue a rabbit hole and read a subject dry.

Then we moved to Manitou Springs, where the library is far more limited but — ahah — since husband worked for MCI we got some kind of deal on dial up internet. I honestly don’t remember. It’s possible it was unmetered in some way. What I know is my writer friends came to my house to look up things on line, and I became a minor goddling of search engines.

The kids were small (#2 son was one when we moved there) and while I wrote, I mostly wrote while the kid and later kids were in school. Because it’s really hard to write when WWIII breaks out at your feet on the floor, over THAT lego piece both want. But it’s perfectly fine to jump around on the net, reading about whatever caught your attention.

And then there was Amazon and I could buy books to feed whatever the elephant child got obsessed with.

At some point in the late nineties, I started to getting the nagging feeling that while most of what we’d been fed was a lie, the “population bomb” was a particularly eggregious lie.

Going back, I looked at things like claims that while I was growing up Portugal had an average 5 children per woman of child bearing age. Look, not unless one woman in a hundred were kept in an underground chamber having nine children at once for her entire life. Not just her entire reproductive lie, her entire life. While Portugal wasn’t as …. child-scarce as it is now, it was still rare, for my generation — as opposed to mom’s and dad’s — to have more than two. Or for educated people to have more than one. And by educated read “has enough schooling to work a white collar job.” To that joined the aristocracy of blue collar: people who owned shops, or factories, or repair concerns, or who were simply very skilled and/or well paid in blue collar professions. They also rarely had more than the one precious child.

Then I poked around at other places.

Um…. you don’t know my methods, because to be honest I don’t know them myself. My brain works in weird lurches and pivots. Yes, that’s how I get books, but it’s also how I get…. everything.

My brain is an indiscriminate cement mixer. Unless I’m in the grip of one of my (rare but usually persistent) obsessions, which usually means a book is gestating at a level I’m not aware of, during which time I read only one subject or maybe two. (Marian apparitions: real, fake, and uh… that is just wrong and probably false flag took over my brain for two months, which is how we got Deep Pink.) When I’m not running under a “craving of the mind” I read pretty much whatever. Including college books on economics, or biology, or whatever.

And then out of the mess ideas form about how things work, or why such and such an event went this way.

The weird thing is, as opposed to things I think through carefully, using my reason, these sudden “certainties” are almost always right. I say almost always because some might yet prove wrong. I just haven’t talked about some of them yet. To anyone.

More often than not, when I get one of these and talk to experts in the field, they look at me and go “Of course, this is known.” Well, yeah…

The population thing was so bizarre, I did talk. First to a fellow writer who told me I was crazy. She knew that population was growing, because her native city had grown over fields and meadows.

Never could convince her that we have different ideas in lodging than our grandparents did, which take more space; that there has been a move to the cities starting about oh…. 1920 in the US? Maybe earlier. And since agriculture takes fewer and fewer people to work at it, we have more and more people moving away from ancestral farms. Also the US is a country of immigrants, but that’s something else entirely and we’ll touch on it later.

The place I grew up is also, now, a suburb of the nearest largest city — Porto — and the fields and meadows where I played while grandmother gathered grass for the rabbits are either under a high way or a stack-a-prol block of apartments. It’s one or the other.

But does that betoken larger population for the country as a whole? Well, from the seventies on, Portugal became a little like Florida for the Brits. Definitely since the EU. It also took in a lot of Eastern Block refugees (they drove those Trabants as far as they could, and since Portugal ends in the sea…). And a lot of Chinese escaped Macau.

But with all that, yeah, the places near the big cities have exploded.

However, if you ever visit, drive to the mountains. Do. They’re not very big mountains. Jumped-up hills, but pretty. And if you get there, spend some time just LISTENING. There’s nothing. No sound, nothing. That sense of vast unoccupied spaces.

By the nineties, land in the remote parts of Portugal was cheap, and a lot of ancestral farms were empty and crumbling. So were farms and entire cities in Kansas. Starting at the same time, people started sounding the alarm about this, and asking how to repopulate the hinterlands.

And I was sure then. Sure that the population might be becoming more urban, acquiring different habits, etc. But it was not in point of fact growing at anywhere near the numbers that showed on paper.

Deep dives on the internet showed we have one of the most reliable census processes and — snort, giggle — you know what a sh*tshow it is, particularly since the Clintons when they decided to add a random number to cities, because of people were “uncounted.” (Those shy, shy homeless people.)

In most other countries, even the Portugal I grew up in, any count by the government becomes a chance to mess with the government.

So, for instance, when I was little you had to — probably still do — pay a license for radios (and TVs but there were only two in the village) every year. And there was a radio/tv inspector (I SWEAR I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP) who came to the village once a year, to make sure we had proper licenses for all our receivers.

As soon as he showed his nose at the entrance to the village (there was only one entrance if you came by bus from the city, and he did) word went out. Grandmas hurried out on unavoidable errands. Kiddies were sent to visit the neighbors.

Before he reached the old cross, at the entrance of the village proper, the whole village knew, and were rushing home, to hide the multiple radios. I mean our family had three. I don’t think we paid license for any. Grandma had maybe two maybe three (I don’t remember if grandad had one in the workshop, but I think he might, in which case it was three, and if cousin had one to listen to music four. I just don’t remember) , but she paid license for the old one (it was cheaper) and since it was a large radio, on a shelf over the kitchen table, with a doily under it, it was kind of hard to hide.

Anyway, I think in the end the government KNEW there were like one radio per ten households in the city, and probably the only TV counted was the one in the coffee shop (again, hard to hide.) Very bucolic and backwards was the village, in government documents. Probably still is as mom who wavers between being addicted to Brazilian soap operas and being addicted to PBS style programs on history and such, has her TV dish in the attic. Under the roof. (No, I don’t know how it works, but I assume that there’s some special arrangement on a portion of the roof, or possibly the dish is different, because, well, it’s Portugal. The rapidity with which my DIL’s dad, who was there for four days, learned to say “Forget it Jack, it’s Portugal” was gratifying.)

The same sort of games went on with censuses, particularly if a census worker came through personally. Look, all children might not look alike, but if you change their clothes, and they’re playing in a big bunch, do you know you saw them at another house before? And you know, the government pays support every month for every kid whose parents are below a certain threshold in income.

And I suspect that when the papers hit the desk of some bureaucrat the same happens again, only more bloodless and with pen and paper. Because Portugal is, technically speaking, a welfare mother. I.e. it gets payments, per capita, from better off countries, as part of the global redistribution shell game whereby those who don’t work as hard and squander what they make are entitled to the income of those who make more. (And that’s a discussion for another time, but seriously. I know the left looks at the relative poverty of the third world, and the wealth of the west and thinks that’s because we stole from them. This is akin to thinking I stole my house from a homeless man on crack. Some of the richest-in-resources countries in the world are the poorest. No one stole their resources. They’re still there. But they have toxic cultures that prevent their use. And then we taught them — G-d forgive us — Marxism, which makes it impossible for them to correct the problem.) Anyway, Portugal used to suck IMF teat, and now sucks EU teat (to be fair, Germany wanted Europe, they deserve it.) And the more people you have, the more the teat produces. Even if half of these people are imaginary.

Oh, and Portugal when I was growing up was AT LEAST a second world country. Maybe first and a half. (Yes, I know that’s not what that meant, but it conveys the idea.) What I mean is, even now, it’s the place Brazilians studying engineering in the US (and there’s a lot of them) dream of going to work. And back then it had antibiotics, and TV and trains, and it wasn’t excessively tribal. Oh, it also had industry. So it’s not some completely backwards place.

I want you to stop and take a deep breath. Look at the countries that claim their population is still growing by leaps and bounds: they’re all net recipients of international aid. Every one of them.

Maybe not in money, as far as the Arab countries are concerned, but in immigration visas, opportunities for education, etc.

Now, another deep breath, because we’re in deep heresy here: look at those countries. Do you really think countries in Africa or even the Middle East (with the exception of Israel) or the Indian subcontinent do a proper census? As in mail forms to every household to be filled? Or send people out, briefcase in hand?

If you think so, you’re suffering from cultural provincialism. In most of those countries there MIGHT be a census bureau. Opportunity to employ relatives, yo. But that’s about it. At the time to send the yearly graft to the US, they look around and go, my mom has three kids, call it eight. My wife has one, call it five. UN we have starving millions. IMF save us!”

But, you’ll say, (and people said the last time I wrote on this topic, which I revisit periodically), what about all the immigrants from Africa and the Arab countries to the West? Doesn’t that prove their population is exploding?

No more than the growth of cities. BTW I’m not the only to say this, though I can’t now find the article about how the population is falling off a cliff in Arab countries, because…. well…. women poked at the internet and discovered the rhythm method. No. I kid you not. Turns out when you’re effectively enslaved you might not want to have a passel of kids for your owner.

The problem being, because of the polygamic system and the culture, and– Arab countries can’t really provide for their population or at least not at modern levels. So. It’s compounded of other things: most things are. There’s also the fact that the West is Welfare land giving you money for nothing and your chicks for free, and the fact that Islamic culture has deep-set mythos of world conquest/re-conquest that impels people to make them come true.

I will bet you money though every one of those immigrants to the west is still being counted at their place of origin, too. Because it is the same with emigrants in Portugal, or was when I was growing up. You report the absent child, first, because they can collect unemployment (seriously? You didn’t see that coming?) second because they can come back and resume their lives at any moment. Even those who insist they won’t, the family tends to keep a candle lit for.

So, since the late nineties, I’ve been convinced that the world population was not only not growing (even with the added longevity of modern medicine) but was already headed down down dubeedoo. And that at some point it would become impossible to recover.

Things trickled to me, but from unverifiable sources. Mostly people who were translators for globe trotting NGOs.

Such as that Mexico City, for one, doesn’t have the water needed for the claimed population. Hell, not for half the claimed population. And no, we’re not talking at American levels of water use. Just enough for everyone not to die, if they also drank beer and wine. And in Africa it’s even more so, with the cities having to be by the mathematical inevitability of supply and needed resources to live, no more than between a third and a tenth their reported population.

And then I noticed other stuff: For instance, Heinlein spotted that the USSR couldn’t possibly have the population it claimed, even if the CIA bought the spit-out-numbers hook line and sinker. When the USSR fell, we realized that hell yeah, it couldn’t have the population it claimed, and the numbers were revised down. But the global population numbers weren’t.

Things that weren’t reported, like when Dave Freer told me Africa had a massive number of orphans, because a ton of people died of AIDS which for cultural reasons went beyond the gay community (if there is one, which I doubt) there. But were those people counted as dead? Their reproductive life taken in account as shortened? Um…. no.

In face, though recently they started revising the growth projections down, officialdom never revised THE POPULATION totals down, even when it was obvious they had miscounted.

Yesterday we got an announcement that China is in probably irretrievable population collapse. Is it real or memorex?

I don’t know. Totalitarians wouldn’t want to admit to a falling population. OTOH I very much doubt totalitarian regimes have ANY accurate information, including number of people or children. On the third hand (I write science fiction. Also shush) it makes sense of their economy and society, and stuff that leaks out now and then. Oh, and the fact they’re a crazy dictatorship works on population like the fact that Muslim women are second class citizens. Slaves don’t like having children for their masters.

So, here we are. This post was brought about by the fact that I have, since the early two thousands thought that falling population, HEAVILY weighted to the older ranges was the only way to explain the strange gyrations of the world economy. And why we haven’t crashed hard yet, despite a number of democrats running with printing press. And yesterday BGE who knows more about economics than I do mentioned the same in the comments, and that the pressure is — therefore, and it would be in a falling-like-a-rock population scenario — DEflationary.

This makes perfect sense of Western governments obsession with Mo’e money given out. And spending on the craziest shit.

Yes, I know, it more or less always does, but listen to me, the way they’ve been going would cause a total collapse, and they can’t be completely stupid. Stupid, yes, but not that stupid. Unless they’re desperately trying to keep the fiat currencies from fatally deflating with a bang at the same time the world spirals into depression.

Supposing they’ve realized what is really happening, and I suspect they have because: open borders. I knew because it was a more or less open secret in Europe that this was the reason Germany was importing Muslims faster than you could say “we both hate the Jews. Join with us.”

Part of the issue with that, of course, is that the left — most of the immigration schemes are left, though not all — thinks that humans are interchangeable widgets. Take a Muslim immigrant, bring him to Sweden and he’ll be a Swede.

Replacing the population for the votes? Sure. But….. hey, Europe voted socialist anyway, so what would possess them? Well, a fatal lack of people. And stupidity. We can’t forget stupidity.

Same here, where yeah, they think people who can tan vote dem, but beyond that, I think they’re sniffing the air and realizing the population is falling. And they’re stupid. So, you know, someone who’s never seen a toilet from a village in the Andes, can move to NYC, take welfare, never work, and their kids will be stock brokers. (They missed something in that process. It’s called assimilation. And that it doesn’t happen during mass migration, no matter how enforced. And it isn’t now.)

You see, modern civilization, with welfare, and the great society — rinses mouth with soap — DEPENDS on each generation being bigger than the last. Not just for welfare, but to keep the fiat currencies inflating slightly, to keep houses valuing, to keep the things we take for granted happening.

When the next generation is smaller and then smaller again…. we’re in uncharted waters.

Add to this questions no one has bothered asking, like “What minimum amount of population do you need to retain a tech civilization?” because you know, it takes a particular kind of mind (and now I wonder if that’s why they’re watering down STEM.) And “how fast can we reorganize economic and social life, so civilization isn’t wiped out?” And others, I’m sure you can think of yourselves.

BUT SARAH, you say, the elite is also still preaching the population bomb, and pushing women to work outside the house, and–

Oh, sure. If anyone has awareness of the real trouble, it would be at the highest levels, and justifications found for the drones.

But living through the covidiocy has given me some insight into how this works: you see, big government made a big blunder when it was fresh and new and shining with paint, when the boomers were little.

They believed prophets and soothsayers, and continued believing them when their lies and prognostications got crazier.

Ancient regimes used to stone soothsayers. Now we let them stone themselves, ramble Marxistly, and we believe them. Paul Ehrlich, when civilization collapses, the fingerprints on its collapse will be yours.

Paul Ehrlich is the most egregious, but there were thousands of them all through the late twentieth century. And the idiot politicians and bureaucrats BELIEVED their bullshit without checking. (I don’t think they caught on till the collapse of 06, and probably most still don’t know or believe.)

And they did what they did with the Covidiocy. Propaganda was blasted at the masses, in an effort to get them to behave “properly” — that is how the elite thinks they should — “TOO MANY PEOPLE, YOU ARE KILLING THE EARTH, SCARCITY EVERYTHING. REEEEEEEEEEEE.”

Well, people were behaving according to the real signals around them, like we were around March 2020. And then the propaganda wave hit, relentless. And suddenly even a little girl in a completely non populated village in Portugal believed that the world had too many people and we were going to run out of everything and ahhhhhhh!

And the population plunged. Hard. Yes, there were other factors that would probably have taken it down anyway: women in the work force means late marriage age which means fewer kids, for instance. And other stuff. But the fact governments believed the bullshit and started penalizing having kids didn’t help.

We probably would have a minor correction without this craziness.

And now, now that they’re starting to get the feel for the trouble we’re in? They’re terrified the people will catch on, terrified to admit it. JUST LIKE WITH THE COVIDIOCY.

Instead they’re hoping to keep the top spinning till they exit stage left, and apres moi le delluge.

Possibly the only way to return the population to numbers that will give us time to adjust to the idea that each generation won’t grow exponentially, and to prepare for whatever THAT economy will look like (Not big government blue, for sure) would be for government and the press (but I repeat myself) to pivot on that mass insanity now and start encouraging people to have more kids by every means available, including putting research money into reproductive technologies, and perhaps subsidizing infertility treatments, up to surrogacy for a short time.

What they’re actually doing is spinning as fast as they can, WHILE a portion of them tries to prepare us for extinction will bullshit like the Green New Deal which is all about leaving the Earth pristine when we self flush.

They’ll pivot. In ten years or so. If I’m still alive, I’ll see commercials about a woman’s duty to have one or two children out of wedlock (and put them up for adoption, send them to be raised in creches, or giving them to parents to raise) before going off to school and a career and eventual marriage and legitimate children. They’ll say you should be pregnant by your Junior year in high school because it’s good for you (possibly true, given modern medicine) and your nation needs your babies. (Yes, I know it’s insane, but I also know it will happen. Ten, twenty years at most.)

By then it will probably be WAY too late to prevent a hard crash of most industrial economies. And we won’t have the time to retool for what comes next.

So, what do you do? I don’t know. Look, I could be wrong, though not as wrong as Ehrlich. Maybe we have just enough time. If you can, consider having kids. Consider having three kids if you can.

If you’re a woman in your late twenties and you haven’t found the right guy? Consider having some eggs frozen. Or maybe an ovary. Yes, I know it’s expensive, but honestly, we need to start crowdfunding this stuff. And I’ll help if I can. And no it’s not guaranteed you can conceive by those means, but at least you’ll have a chance.

I’m not you. I can’t speak to your religious or ethical restraints, but in the absence of those, look for all available means to have kids, and again crowd fund if needed (we should have charitable organizations for this purpose.)

Have another kid. Have two. Have three. Consider if you can have more.

Because the likely result of the path we’re on is not a family living on an estate with androids doing all the hard work, and visiting other estates in pomp and circumstance.

I’m afraid if we don’t turn this boat around — without and against our institutions’ strenuous bullshit — the end result is a lone savage, clad in the rags of civilization walking the Earth trying to find a mate, or even a friend.

And possibly still wearing a mask.

Understanding and Misunderstanding Freedom- By Professor Ornery Dragon

Understanding and Misunderstanding Freedom

By Professor Ornery Dragon

The other day a friend on FB posted a meme/captured Twitter thread about a woman who had been through the wringer with a medical issue that tragically claimed the life of her small child. The rant was about how the insurance company reneged on paying after they received a settlement, how the hospital immediately put a lien on her house to insure she’d pay the PICU bill, and how in the end, they got nothing and had to deal with all sorts of crap while mourning their son. It sounded horrible.

As I read through it, I had my doubts about some aspects of the story, but whatever. It wasn’t designed to be accurate, it was designed to hit you in the feels and make the reader angry at the injustice of the American insurance/health/medical industry. And it worked on my friend and those who responded to the post.

The friend who posted it lives in the UK. Another friend of his commented that she was soooo happy to live in the UK with the NHS. My friend said (paraphrasing): yeah, I have to laugh at Americans who always go on about freedom. He then went on about how Americans pay about the same in taxes but get nothing for it. He ended with “No health care. No job protection. No state support. Americans are free to starve, free to lose their homes, free to die in debt and penury. They are free in theory, but not in practice.”

I choked on that. Among many other things, that statement completely ignores the base level of care available via the NHS or the quality of council (subsidized) housing, or the unintended consequences of job protection, and the moral hazard of state support.

Remember the story a couple of years ago where NHS refused to allow parents to take their sick, dying child ( to New York for experimental treatment that might possibly have saved his life. The state decided it knew better than parents what should be done for their child. The child died. How the hell does a government get the ability and power to prevent parents from making critical decisions regarding their child’s health?? Is that what the freedom of “state support” means? How is that freedom? Freedom to or from what?

No job protection…that cuts the other way as well. Ever worked with someone who is useless? But can’t be fired? I have. Guy spent the day running sports betting pools (against company regs), never did any work, but the union said he couldn’t be fired because he had seniority. Job protection for him, sure. But what about everybody else? What about those employees downstream from him? What about the employer who was dropping money into a black hole? They couldn’t hire somebody more productive to replace that guy. (They got bought out by the competition just a couple years later. Go figure.)

Free to starve, lose their homes, die in debt and penury… If one is completely dependent on the state for housing, income, and health care…how is that not penury? You are not contributing to the system, you are completely in debt to it. And depending on how it’s structured, you may never be able to leave that system. That’s freedom from penury?

I love my friend, but he clearly DOES NOT understand how freedom really works or what it really means. Of course, it does mean different things for different people, and yes, freedom itself can be relative to what one experienced before. For example: Russians find the ability to travel without state permission to be incredibly free. But, as an American, I have a very American view of freedom that I don’t think my friend understands. And, as an extension, I think he’s not allowing himself to experience true freedom. In other words, the freedom to succeed or fail on his own merits. Under the structure that he prefers, citizens are NOT free from the state. In fact they are beholden to the state and subject to its whims. I think he misunderstands the concept of freedom.

It is understandable, though, why European citizens would view freedom in this way. The political and social structures of Europe have historically been top down. Russia is especially easy to explain…they’ve always had an autocratic system whether it was headed by a tsar, a General Secretary of the Politburo, or Vladimir Putin. Nothing has changed politically in Russia for centuries. Their view of freedom is likely much narrower than ours.

But what about the rest of Europe? They were all monarchies as well – all top-down governing systems. A long history of monarchies tends to instill a cultural understanding of the “proper” role of government. Monarchs were supposed to look out for the welfare of their kingdoms and that meant the well-being of their subjects as well (for various definitions of “well-being”). Therefore, those outside of aristocratic social levels learned that the monarch and the aristocracy took care of the lower classes, merchants, artisans, and peasants. Rewards came from the monarch or his/her representatives. For example, the patronage system for artists meant that in order to be a “working” artist you needed the support of one of your social and economic betters. That has translated into state support for artists. But the patron/state can remove that support if the artist does something they don’t like. The artist is constrained, and without true freedom to create.

Freedom, to me, means relief from those sorts of expectations. I’ll figure out what situation works best for me, thank you very much. Yeah, my decisions could mean I die alone, in debt, sharing food with the cat (somebody please take care of the cat if that happens). And, yeah, that’s a worry. On the other hand, I can see that the state is in no small part responsible for making it more difficult for me to move myself as far away as possible from that scenario. We just dealt with our taxes. There’s a big way the state makes it difficult to take care of oneself.

I want the freedom to make both good and bad decisions. I want the freedom to work without a net if that’s what I choose (I left a tenured position to write fiction on a full-time basis. Look Ma! No net!) I want the freedom to live where I choose, and not in required housing. I want the freedom to take risks…or not. I want freedom from government interference.

Europeans, and the American left, define freedom as “chaos” and that worries them. Who will control the chaos? Bring in the state! Big Brother will provide for all and watch over you.

Americans define freedom as a “choose your own story” adventure and that energizes us. And if there’s a little chaos along the way, well, that’s fun too.

So head out and choose your own story!


This is not a post about writing (except insofar as it is my work.) even if it seems to be so at first.

Over the last twenty years I’ve mentored maybe 30 people. Now the quality of mentoring went to heck 10 years ago, because of life. But usually I try to read at least a few pieces by people I mentor, and try to figure out what is holding them back. Because that’s what mentors do.

When I was younger and took raw newbies, one of the hardest things to get them to see — and something that drove me nuts because I struggled with it myself, back in pre-history — is that you can’t have character in solitude, aside and apart from plot.

Sure, I said I get characters for free — a lot of newbies do — but that means I know who they are, how they talk, their strengths and weaknesses; their fears; their sore spots.

That’s great so long as I want to have imaginary friends I take out when I’m alone to play with. But if I’m writing a book with these characters, I have to give them something to do.

What I first wrote (though perhaps not that bad, because ADD, and I bore easily) and what these people are writing is this: Peter the Paladin gets up in the morning and shaves. Then he exercises his horse, goes for a walk where people cheer him for his outstanding courage. Comes home where his wife tells him she loves his unwavering morals. Goes to the palace to get a commendation for his bravery.

Well, good for Peter, but I was yawning while his wife was praising. And that’s not in any way a story. And why are all these people saying things for which there is no evidence whatsoever?

Because, of course, for Peter to prove he’s a Paladin, and to make him interesting at all, he must do the work of a paladin. He must get up off his exquisite chair given to him by Sir Grateful in gratitude for saving his daughter from the Dread Dragon and do something to prove he still deserves the chair. Or at least we must see him fighting the dread dragon.

Okay, so how is this not about writing. It’s not, because it’s about us, and the times we live in.

In a private group, a friend who has sudden piercing insights asked how it would affect society that we took people out of work for a year, smashed their routine with a hammer and set them adrift.

I immediately panicked, because I have reason to have extra insight into this kind of situation.

Look, much sh*t has been talked about millenials. Don’t wind younger son up. We’ve had screaming arguments with me defending millenials while he condemns them. I won’t say I don’t get it, because part of it was going through public school in a high-left area.

I will say though that from the things no one talks about, like the real voting pattern, not the one ascribed to them, the people I meet on the street and coming to my house to do work, and a million other little things, they were shaping up d*mn nicely. Or as I express it “the kids are all right.”

The point being that if you come out of the continuous indoctrination factory and face the real world, in a halfway healthy nation and economy, you’re going to lose a lot of the indoctrination. The ones that don’t are usually the wealthy ones (it’s no accident the most strident lefties are pampered females) or those who are too smart to think their way to reality.

BUT…. 2020.

I do have some special insight into this, because in the mid seventies the Portuguese economy went…. odd. I won’t say it was wonderful before — hey, it was national socialist and all socialism kills. Fast or slow — but it was predictable.

In the mid seventies it became completely unpredictable, with the government arrogating to itself the right to promulgate rules for prices, salaries, and how many bottles of oil you could own. (Frying oil. It’s a precious commodity in a Latin country, particularly one were natural gas — the main fuel for cooking — is going through the roof, so baking is a rare and precious luxury.) And hyperinflation struck.

Remember I was a kid. My range of interests was even more limited than other kids, because mostly I read. So how hyper was the inflation? Well, science fiction paperbacks went from the equivalent (look, I don’t remember the prices in escudos anymore) of maybe $2.50 to $200 in a period of six/seven years. No, the prices weren’t in dollar, and the exchange rate wasn’t that. But if you visualize an asset taking that kind of hike (yes, I’m afraid it will be all too easy in five years) you can see what I mean by hyperinflation.

Which brings us to…. uncertainty. In that climate, who the heck is going to start a business, when any minute the government could regulate you out of existence and/or your need for materials/machinery might hit at the wrong time in the cycle and strip you of all your capital?

So, while a brave souls did start or continue jobs, there were very few new jobs, and a lot of companies/factories/etc shut their doors.

This means a generation (the one before me) left school and found themselves adrift, sometimes for years, before they could find a job. (Incidentally this is one of the reasons — not the only — I ended up in languages and teaching, despite a complete and utter lack of interest in the actual work. I’d seen what prolonged unemployment did to people. I figured that as Portugal opened to the world, and started to recover from the hammer to the gears, languages would pay well (they did) but until then, or if things went pear shaped again, I could teach, because there were always jobs for teachers. Yes, my dears, when you make plans, G-d laughs.)

Now a lot of people started businesses of some kind, and whether they were flipping houses, starting crops on abandoned fields to sell on the black market, or making crafts to sell on the black market (the black market or at least grey was everywhere. Either you knew someone, or people set up stalls on the street corners that were foldable into a bag, so they could run away when the police showed up. My first independent purchases, be it for gifts or for myself were from such people, usually selling groceries, clothes, and seriously IP violating books.)

I daresay those people were okay long term. Well, maybe not, because the work is…. different. But looking back there was an explosion of creativity and artistry among young people, and I bet a lot of them are fine.

OTOH a lot of them had no interest in arts and crafts and couldn’t do much. Oh, there was a lot of teaching/tutoring/ doing this one job “under the table.” But nothing regular or sustained.

I know several people who went through that later situation. And the ones who were excellent workers, dedicated, driven, emerged from the experience curiously maimed. (For the others you couldn’t tell.) In the end, when jobs came back, they did the minimum necessary, because the habits of their time out of work had shaped them. And most of them never went anywhere.

Now this is nowhere near the level of — pardon me — f*ckery the country just endured (the world, actually.)

Look, it’s closer to what happened to me. I used to do six books a year, without much trouble, while tutoring my younger son in one year. And then–

My health went South.

The amazing thing is how fast you lose habits that enforce productivity.

None of us likes working. Well, no. That’s not precisely true. I love my job, and I enjoy working. The problem is that I don’t enjoy working productively EVERY DAY. Sometimes — say twice a year — an idea strikes, and I will wake up from bed and write something, from 2k to 30k words, at one go. And that’s great. But one doesn’t make a living that way. Nice, hobby you’ve got there…

Getting up, rain or shine, brain fog or worry about a kid, a friend or a pet, and sitting down and writing is difficult. Okay, not as difficult as dancing on a broken ankle, or going to work in the sleet and the rain with chest congestion and worry about the bills. I’m not making myself a victim or a martyr. I’m quite aware I have it easy.

My biggest difficulty is grabbing myself by the ear and making myself produce words. And since my work habits were hit with a hammer twice — first by health, then by a very complex move — it’s been hard, bordering on the impossible. Not the writing itself, but sitting down to write. On time. And producing the required words.

Guys, the me from fifteen years ago, despises the me now, and wants to kick her butt.

But a habit that’s broken is very hard to get back, just like a muscle that withers has trouble getting back. (And sometimes can’t.)

And we just put people in enforced idleness for a year and change. They’ll go back to work when they need to, but will their productivity ever be what it was?

My experience suggests not. You see, productivity is an habit, too.

I’ve told here, half in jest, about how I started taking a laptop on our big glitzy weekend vacations. (It’s a joke, folks. While raising the kids, our great vacations were two and a half days in Denver — we lived in Manitou and then in Colorado Springs — where we haunted museums and Greek diners and painted the town a mild pink. If we were lucky, we had three and a half days. I still remember those.) My husband, understandably had a “don’t work while on vacation” rule, made all the more important as at the time I was either not getting paid, or I was getting paid peanuts. And working like a madwoman. So, of course “leave the laptop at home on vacation.”

The problem is I had an habit. Only slightly less demanding than the reading habit. You see, when the younger kid was in school (his being the important one because pre-school was only 3 hours) I sat my butt on the chair and wrote. Produced pages and pages of words.

Then when they came home, I was mommy. Though I might be plotting the next scene in my head.

(Some of my most productive years, btw.)

Saturdays were different only in that our writers’ group met at my house at 3. And our writers’ group was composed of insane people. At least in 95, we decided that novel or no novel in progress, to remain a member in good standing you had to bring in a short story a week.

Well, I normally didn’t do that during the week. Because I was doing novels. So, on Saturday, I cleaned 1800 sq feet in a couple of hours (took that long because kiddies) and then sat at my computer and pounded out a 2k to 6k story in an hour or three. Did spell check, and threw it at the group. (It’s amazing how many of those, de-typoed, sold.)

The problem while on vacation, is that characters and ideas for shorts showed up right on time either Friday night or Saturday morning. I wrote many a story on hotel note pads, napkins and even toilet paper. (Started novels, too, because my brain has no sense of proportion.) Until Dan sighed and told me I could bring the laptop. Which I MOSTLY used to pound out a story before they woke up on Saturday.

I no longer get the story of the week. (Which might be a habit worth getting back, as it would improve my numbers greatly.) In fact, I’ve limited the short story invites I accept, because writing a short can take me the better part of a week, as I’m no longer in the habit.

It’s not that I don’t try. It’s that I’m no longer used to sit at the keyboard and concentrate. And trust me, it’s a matter of habit.

The monasteries of old, being communal living amid people raised in more violent environments that most of us, kept the whole thing harnessed tight with habit. “At this house you do this. At this hour this.” It’s a trick borrowed by boarding schools and heck, even public schools. And yes, definitely factories.

For most people work is not a “career.” It is “That which pays the bills.” The actions of working (as I was prepared to accept with my degree choice) aren’t in themselves pleasurable, or even overly interesting, but you do it the best you can, and you earn a living. And habit lubricates that and makes it easier. I mean, I didn’t want to write a short story on vacation, but the habit compelled me to.

What happens when you have most of the world broken of the habit of working?

I know — because I’m struggling with it — how hard it is to rebuild the habit, so that you can work at your best when you’re supposed to. (And working from home is not necessarily “work hours” but the hours that you need to work.) So that you’re not fighting yourself just to get to the desk/workbench/whatever and do what you have to do.

Because there’s always other things that need doing. There’s always distractions.

In addition to throwing a massive wrench of uncertainty (and almost for sure hyperinflation to come) into our economy, the last year and a half has destroyed work and study habits of a vast portion of the population. Can they get them back? Will they even realize they need to? Or that they’re not working at their best?

Breaking an habit is the easiest thing in the world. Building a new one…. not so much.

This might be the biggest damage from the covidiocy. And it will blight more lives than the virus ever could.

Other than the fact it’s a textbook example of why government needs to be small, starved and limited, what can we do about it?

I don’t know. I know what I can do about me, and about everyone I know who is having issues. And that’s encourage you to form new habits as fast as you can. To harness yourself tightly to work standards, and to struggle to regain the habit of productivity.

Because regardless of natural gifts and abilities, if people don’t get that habit back, they’ll be very poor.

And so will society.

Go to work. I’ll do likewise.

Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM LAURA MONTGOMERY: Sleeping Duty: Waking Late

Gilead Tan and Andrea Fielding survived their stint in the military, got married, signed up to emigrate to a terraformed colony world, and went into cold sleep for the journey from Earth. While they slept, the starship went through the wrong fold in space and settled for a different world, a wild world.

Three centuries after the founding of a colony on the uncharted planet, Gilead awakens to find humanity slipped back to medieval tech and a feudal structure.

Worse, the king who wants Gilead awake won’t let Gilead awaken his wife.

FROM CRAIG W. STANFILL: Terms of Service: Subject to change without notice.

1984 meets The Matrix in this riveting science fiction novel about corporate totalitarianism, personal freedom, and one brave character’s journey to reclaim her humanity from an oppressive regime.

250 years in the future, artificial intelligences control every aspect of Kim’s life – from what she has for breakfast to who she is allowed to have sex with. Living in the northeast province of what used to be the United States, she is a rising star at The Artificial Intelligence Company, training and managing sentient beings called “AIs” in the enigmatic parallel universe of Virtual Reality. 

When a seemingly harmless lark sends Kim’s life spinning out of control and the AIs begin to go mad, Kim launches into a journey of self-discovery and chaos that threatens to tear down society’s corrupt powers, and possibly civilization itself.

For fans of classic dystopian literature like Brave New World and ground-breaking TV shows like Black Mirror, Stanfill explores the lurking dangers of a surveillance state where privacy is dead, corporations have unlimited power, and even using the word “I” is forbidden.

FROM J. L. CURTIS: Rimworld- Into the Green

After a chance encounter with Dragoons and Traders turns a routine planet exploration into a rout that kills his team and his career, Lieutenant Ethan Fargo, medically retired, wants nothing more than to hole up in the backwater Rimworld he’d explored and enjoy a quiet retirement far from people or problems.

Unfortunately, he’s about to find out that he’s not as retired as he wants to be, and that his new home system comes with dangers, politics, and Dragoon sightings of its own. What promised to be a boring retirement will turn out to be anything but.

FROM M. C. A. HOGHARTH: Who Is Willing

Alysha Forrest is looking forward to her assignment as the Songlance’s newest lieutenant, particularly when it gets her placed as the liaison to the ship’s water environment crewmembers. Interfacing with the mermaid-like Naysha and the alien Platies who serve as the ship’s navigators is an exhilarating experience, and all the other officers on the crew are eager to welcome her into the fold… all of them, except one.

Mike Beringwaite, the overbearing ensign who ruined their leadership retreat years earlier, has somehow made lieutenant too. When a routine problem in the water environment throws them together, Alysha has to decide how willing she is to forgive him for what he did, whether she can work with him again, and most importantly, if she can trust him–with her life.

The disaster at the leadership retreat is nothing to the one they have to handle now. If they can….



Engaged to be married, mysterious journalist Dylan Hunter and CIA security officer Annie Woods are desperate to put their violent past behind them.

But then an investigative reporter is brutally, mysteriously murdered.

A visionary presidential candidate is targeted for destruction.

And a horrific day of unspeakable terrorism rocks Washington, D.C.

Soon, Hunter’s investigation puts him in the cross hairs of a power-hungry billionaire and a cold-blooded assassin. Camouflaged by “fake news,” a deadly conspiracy of Russian spies and American traitors aims to install their puppet in the White House.

And these predators will do the unthinkable to bring America under their total control.

The stakes — political and personal — couldn’t be higher. Because to stop them, Dylan Hunter must make an irrevocable choice. He must revert to his dark, secret life as a violent vigilante, waging a one-man war of justice against the corrupt and untouchably powerful.

It’s a decision that will, finally and forever, seal his fate … including his future with the woman he adores.

But for now, only one thing is certain:

In the tidal wave of political violence raging through the blood-soaked streets of Washington, D.C., the final outcome will be … WINNER TAKES ALL.

FROM ELISE HYATT: Dipped, Stripped and Dead.

A Dyce Dare Mystery
When she was six, Dyce Dare wanted to be a ballerina, but she couldn’t stop tripping over her own feet. Then she wanted to be a lion tamer, but Fluffy, the cat, would not obey her. Which is why at the age of twenty nine she’s dumpster diving, kind of. She’s looking for furniture to keep her refinishing business going, because she would someday like to feed herself and her young son something better than pancakes.
Unfortunately, as has come to be her expectation, things go disastrously wrong. She finds a half melted corpse in a dumpster. This will force her to do what she never wanted to do: solve a crime.
Life is just about to get crazy… er… crazier. But at least at the end of the tunnel there might be a relationship with a very nice Police Officer.

FROM ANNA FERREIRA: The Flight of Miss Stanhope: A Short and Sweet Regency Romance.

Marianne Stanhope is in trouble. Her family is urging her to accept the attentions of a most odious suitor, so she turns to a gentleman of her acquaintance for aid. But Mr. Firth has his own reasons for assisting Miss Stanhope, and it falls to her childhood friend Mr. Killingham to convince her that she’s made a dreadful mistake.

FROM C. CHANCY: Gateway to Fiction.


Do the Research, Keep the Shiny! A writer’s guide. Want a good story? Choking on yet another sparkly cinematic production that has all the flash and explosions yet no real people in it? If you want stories done right, sometimes you’ve just got to do it yourself. But how? Roll up your sleeves, we’re going to cover it all. No preaching; no “but thou must follow steps X, Y, Z”. Just, here’s some ideas, and some examples, of how it can work. From getting over that first hump of pen to page, through getting ideas and characters from point A to point B, all the way to how to keep breathing when the whole world’s crumbling in. There are links. There are tropes. And there’s a sober explanation of why fanfic has always mattered. In your mind’s eye there’s a world no one else has seen. Here’s some tools. Worldbuild away!

FROM ROBERTO JULIANO: Cry Bullies Protecting yourself against social muggers and victimhood aggression

Cry Bullies…How to spot them, who they pick to bully, how they fight, and how to fight back.


Amazon warriors against musketeer hordes!

The Holy Musketeers have found another continent to loot. The opposition? The primitive natives have no muskets and no cannon. Their cowardly men send their women to fight.

FROM DAVE LEWIS: Moira And The Two Nathans.

Immuration. She’d known the definition. Now she knew the meaning, in all its drawn-out horror. She didn’t know how long she’d been immured, only that she was nearing her end. Then, like a miracle, there was someone to free her, but — who was he? Where did he come from? Why did he know her name?

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: FUZZY