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

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. ;)*


WITH A STORY BY SARAH A. HOYT AND ON SALE FOR 99C:  Parallel Worlds: The Heroes Within.



Heroes and villains are not always on the opposite ends of the spectrum of good and evil. Sometimes, all that separates them is a fine line. The stories within “Parallel Worlds” explore the lives of such heroes and what drives them — and what keeps them from crossing over to the other side.

This anthology features nineteen stories from bestselling, award-winning, and emerging authors, and includes brand new, never-before seen stories from Jim Butcher’s, “Dresden Files,” Robert Asprin’s “The Myth-Adventures” by Jody Lynn Nye, and Neo Edmund’s “Red Riding Alpha Huntress Chronicles.”

[My story is Dead End Rhodes, which unfortunately planted a series-seed in my head.  I’m finishing Other Rhodes, to hopefully release next month.  Stay tuned – SAH]



Robert’s and my story is one of the origin stories for a character in a world Robert and I created years ago…. and which we’ll start doing novels in soonest, I promise.

FROM MARY CATELLI: Journeys And Wizardry


Drunken mermaids — a clan cursed to become crows — a magic book that even the Nameless Necromancer fears — and more in this reprint collection of thirteen stories and a poem.



Trouble comes to Mossy Creek.

Jaqueline “Jax” Powell left town after high school, wanting to put as many miles between small town Texas and herself as possible. Mossy Creek, however, isn’t your normal small town and once it gets its hooks in you, you never really escape. It has already brought home two of its wayward children. Will Jax be the third?

When her best friend and “sister from another mister”, Annie Caldwell, is attacked and left for dead, Jax wastes no time in returning home. But is Mossy Creek ready for her return? Before long, everyone will remember why she’d been called “the rogue” growing up. An Earth Elemental, she will join with Wind and Fire to protect those they love.

As storm clouds gather over the small town, danger grows. Jax will have to use all her gifts as an Other to keep her friends safe.

But will it be enough?

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: SNIFF

Witch’s Daughter Installment 13


*For the previous chapters, please go here. These are posted first draft, as the brain dictates to the fingers which are remarkably stupid. Also there will be inconsistencies because until September or so, the timing on these is wonky, and I’ll forget stuff between posts. Eventually it will be cleaned up and fixed just before page is made secret/taken down and the book is published. At that time I will take lists of typos or volunteers to proof read. For now, it’s written in a hurry, usually an hour before it goes up. And, let me remind you, it’s free – SAH*

“Oh, I don’t mean I created the world to be imprisoned in. I’m not so daft as to accidentally bespell myself.  I created this world…”  Tristan Blackley glowered briefly at his son and daughter. “I created this world, the few square miles of it, as a way to get away from domestic strife. Not my wife only, mind you.  The boys were always excited over something….”

The swan made an irritated sound at that point. Tristan smiled, “True,” he said, as though the words had been completely clear and human.  “You do have a pointn about there being quite a lot of you.”  He sighed.  “At any rate, I created this place, so I could not be found, and I did not pay attention to how my lady wife used my own magic against myself, by making it so that I could not be found.  And when the boys came after me, they too were trapped in here.  At which point I realized it would take more than my magic to escape it.”

The swan squawked and Tristan sighed again.  “Well, I know. I shouldn’t have let you boys know about the magic way. I never thought you would be so foolish as to try to follow you when I told you that your magic wasn’t sufficient.”

Al made a sound and as Tristan looked in her direction said, “Well, begging your pardon, Papa, but that was a great piece of nonsense.  All my brothers are right ‘uns. If you told them there was some means to save themselves, how could you think they wouldn’t try, even if they might not have quite enough magic? They would think with a little more effort and a little more cunning–”

Tristan, Michael noticed, looked a little shocked at being called Papa, or perhaps at being addressed so fortrightly.  He folded and refolded his napkin and said, “Well, I didn’t expect them to be that foolish. It’s magic, yes, but also cunning, and I told them they’d just be irretrievably lost. We just know they’re all alive, because of the transformations that come over us without warning.”

The swan made a noise and Tristan smiled, “No, not now. I’m holding my transformation. Yes, I’m aware I’m the one who is dangerous, even with a surfeit of voles.  I felt one of them try to change, but held it down.  Hopefully he’s not in too much trouble.” He turned to Michael. “Unless I’m wrong, you’re the only person who can get us out of this.  I can’t walk the road myself, because one shift to wolf at the wrong time could be disastrous.  And I don’t know what the challenges are out there, or if I’d be near people or other beings when I change.  I hesitated to ask you both because your family tends to be so…. conventional, and because of the… well, I don’t imagine either of your older brothers will be happy at this.”

“I was just thinking what Seraphim and Gabriel might do, when they discover I was pulled from Seraphim’s house by a Gather.”

“Not much they can do here.  Well. I suppose one of them might be able to get in here.  Probably your human brother, as I’ve made this fairly proof against fairyland. No insult meant to your brother, whom I’m sure is excellent, but that place–”

“No, no. Trust me. I had some experience of it.” And quickly, to disguise the shudder that shook him, “But then you have kept up with what’s going on in the real world while you’ve been here?  How?”

Tristan made a gesture.  “The usual. Scrying on a crystal ball. But it won’t show me what is going on with my sons, and I’m concerned.”

Michael nodded.  “And you think I can do it?” Part of him was screaming that he was stupid for even considering it.  After all, what did he owe Tristan Blakley? He barely knew the man.  And he knew enough of magical paths — roads designed to have a spell worked  or unworked through walking them — to know it would be hazardous.

And in this case, it was a road where his brothers couldn’t help him.

Only the leap of excitement in his heart, the sudden feeling like he would very much like to do this made him realize what was pushing him.  Indeed. if he could walk this road and win out, without either of his all too powerful brothers being able to help him — or stop him — wouldn’t that be proof, once and for all that he was a man grown, and that no one need watch over him or keep him in cotton, as though he were fragile?

Most of all, wouldn’t that be proof for himself?

“Of course, I’d also walk the road with you,” Al said.  It was not a tone of voice that brooked dissent.

Michael knew the offer should irritate him. It should make him think that she would diminish from his achievement. But mostly, it made him feel it wouldn’t be so lonely.  And besides, weren’t they about even on saving each other.

He realized he’d been looking into Al’s eyes perhaps a little too long as they widened in surprised response to his stare.  He spoke quickly into what seemed like too-long a silence, “I… Wouldn’t object to that at all.”

Tristan looked from one to the other of them with his eyebrows drawn together, and Michael felt his cheeks heat with embarrassment.

“Well,” the older magician said. “Now that that’s resolved, let’s finish dinner.  You can sleep here tonight, though I enjoin you to lock your room doors from the inside, as I’ll have to give in to the change sooner than later.  But then you can start bright and fresh tomorrow morning.”




Going over this site’s archives for collecting stuff for a book (I think it will ultimately be three) I found how often I’m sick.  Well, it’s somewhat better now we’ve moved, but still bad relative to most human beings.

I must do something about that.  But not today.

I should know when I can’t write — not avoid it, because I’m lazy or not sure what to write, but can’t — I’m usually coming down with something.

It’s gastric trouble. No, not the Winnie.  I can still taste and smell fine.  And son had it earlier.  About two/three days.  He says he powered through the second day with energy drinks, but it upset his stomach.  So I’m not sure.

I think I’ll sleep a lot and maybe try to do some editing, since I have four fiction and one non-fiction books to edit (no, nothing exciting, the books reverted years ago.)

I’m reminded of Giovanni Guareschi’s books again. Wen Don Camilo was likely to get too excited over local politics, the Lord sent him an illness that made him too sick to do anything stupid.

I’ve noticed a certain congruence….

I don’t feel like doing a post

Even a blast from the past.  And I’m out of guest posts.
I’m going to play with fiction.

And Texans on the route of Laura, sound off!

Y’all be careful out there.   ’cause I hear these guys are riding today… and it’s like only we can see them:



The Gods of the Copybook Headings


AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,

I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.

Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.


We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn

That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:

But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,

So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.


We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,

Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,

But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come

That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.


With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,

They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;

They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;

So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.


When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.

They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.

But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”


On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life

(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)

Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”


In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”


Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew

And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true

That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.


As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;


And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!



Don’t Assume The Beatings Will Stop


Last year I would feel stupid posting this here.  In fact in 2008, I felt so stupid that I hid it and occluded it, when I tried to give warning.

But 2020 has stripped us of so many protections and so many protections in our constitution — I keep imagining Heinlein’s reaction if I went back in time and told him in 2020 almost all churches in America would be closed and the faithful threatened with fines and jail for worshiping — that I keep thinking of F. Paul Wilson’s phrase in Repairman Jack “The Spear has no branches.”  In his books it meant that the hero was being stripped of all meaningful attachments so he’d be the perfect weapon.

2020 feels like all of us are being dropped head first down a howling wind tunnel that is abrading essential parts of us and our society away…. probably with the intent of making us into serfs.

So — this is the part I’d feel stupid posting — I was sitting here, discussing what comes next with friends, what next great gambit the left will try and someone said that if Trump wins there will be immediate violence.

I’ll be honest. There will be immediate violence anyway.

I expected it when Obama won, which is why I posted the excerpt below.  But when Obama first won, in 2008 they were still serenely confident he was a “sort of god” and we’d all fall in line “naturally”.  (Thanks perhaps to the man’s own astounding hubris.)  if you remember the early flutter of reports and news, they fully expected he’d be so great we’d be happy to have him, as some twits kept insisting “as your king.”

…. But that was then.  Now they’ve been balked of their “natural” victory four years ago, and d*mn it, the peasants have refused to fall into line.  And they’ve been practicing by throwing fits and burning stuff.  (And btw, most of the rioters are pasty white, straight up communist operatives.)

And if they manage to cheat their way in they’re going to view it as a hard-won victory, and think they need to punish and destroy us.

The beatings won’t stop.  Worse, because nothing will turn out the way they expect, the longer it goes on, the more they’ll get violent.

Take for instance de Blasio’s bizarre assumption that New York will be repopulated with waves of immigrants once they throw the borders open.

These people are straight up doing hits of the good stuff.  Boggarting the somma.

They don’t get action and consequence and live in world of symbols that remain constant, no matter what actually happens in the world.

Look, even now — right now — Latin illegals have left Colorado in droves.  I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but Colorado, or at least the parts I go into, has gotten MARKEDLY whiter.  Makes perfect sense.  First, because our press did such a good job of portraying the virus as being worse HERE (it wasn’t but never mind.) Second because… well…  Most Latins consider themselves white.  (Yes, they also consider themselves Latin, but it’s a culture, not a race. The idiot news anchor talking about how much she loved not seeing white people and talking about her melinated heart (what the hell is that, really?) read completely white to me.)  When they see people on the streets, abusing white people, and talkigna bout how white people need to die, they’re not going to side with AOC’s idiotic declaration that Latins are black (for one the culture of at least the new immigrants is far more racist than white culture in the US has been for 50 years.)  They’re going to interpret it as their getting caught in the middle, or being in danger, and they’re going to scarper.

Let’s be serious, okay: Why do you think that Colorado is giving free tuition for training in construction trades? And I will be honest, I haven’t heard Spanish in a store in weeks.

Maybe that’s just coincidence.

However, something I CAN guarantee to Mr. De Blasio: Venezuela was once a destination point for Portuguese immigrants, many of them illegal.  Somehow I don’t think this is happening anymore.

In the future these reckless morons aim to build, NO ONE will want to come to NYC for the same reason no one swims from the US TO Cuba.

But the morons, of course, refuse to understand that and that their policies will create only poverty and death.  I mean, one would assume they KNOW they want to be lordlings over peasants, but somehow, they really think they’ll create paradise on Earth.  (Remember Occasional Cortex wants to get “native Americans” to come out and teach us the arcane arts of caring for the Earth. … Like running casinos?  I mean SERIOUSLY these fools see everything as an idiot cliche/symbol with no real world referent. And the cliches never change.  Call it a 4 year old comic-book-reader understanding of the world.)

So, if they fraud their way to victory, the beatings will never stop.  The more the world refuses to follow their script, the more it will be your fault.  Yes, yours, you hoarder and wrecker.

But make no mistake, it will start the day of their “victory” in a massive spasm of combined celebration and trying to get rid of anyone they consider “dangerous.” Which will include a lot of people here, including yours truly.

Be aware of it. Be prepared. And do not go quietly into that good night.

This is what I posted before the election in 2008, trying to send a coded message.

If you can find the short story, read it. It’s a good story, but it will also perhaps give you a little feeling for what I fear.

Below is the excerpt of the beginning:

Years ago on this blog I talked about Technique of The Coup D’Etat by Giovanni Guareschi and I typed  the beginning in here.  I shall copy that. (Assume typos are mine.)

At ten o’clock on Tuesday evening, the village square was swept with wind and rain, but a crowd had been gathered there for three or four hours to listen to the election news coming out of a radio loudspeaker. Suddenly the lights went out and everything was plunged into darkness. Someone went to the control box but came back saying there was nothing to be done. The trouble must be up the line or at the power plant, miles away. People hung around for half an hour or so, and then, as the rain began to come down even harder than before, they scattered to their homes, leaving the village silent and deserted. Peppone shut himself up in the People’s Palace, along with Lungo, Brusco, Straziami, and Gigio, the same leader of the “Red Wing” squad from Molinetto. They sat around uneasily by the light of a candle stump and cursed the power and light monopoly as an enemy of the people, until Smilzo burst in. He had gone to Rocca Verde on his motorcycle to see if anyone had news and now his eyes were popping out of his head and he was waving a sheet of paper.

“The Front has won!” he panted. “Fifty-two seats out of a hundred in the senate and fifty-one in the chamber. The other side is done for. We must get hold of our people and have a celebration. If there’s no light, we can set fire to a couple of haystacks nearby.

 “Hurrah!” shouted Peppone. But Gigio grabbed hold of Smilzo’s jacket.

“Keep quiet and stay where you are!” he said grimly. It’s too early for anyone to be told. Let’s take care of our little list.”

“List? What list?” asked Peppone in astonishment.

“The list of reactionaries who are to be executed first thing. Let’s see now…”

Peppone stammered that he had made no such list, but the other only laughed.

“That doesn’t matter. I’ve a very complete one here all ready. Let’s look at it together, and once we’ve decided we can get to work.”

Gigio pulled a sheet of paper with some twenty names on it out of his pocket and laid it on the table.

“Looks to me as if al the reactionary pigs were here,” he said. “I put down the worst of them, and we can attend to the rest later.”

Peppone scanned the names and scratched his head.

“Well, what do you say?” Gigio asked him.

“Generally speaking, we agree,” said Peppone. “But what’s the hurry? We have plenty of time to do things in the proper style.”

Gigio brought his fist down on the table.

“We haven’t a minute to lose, that’s what I say,” he shouted harshly. “This is the time to put our hands on them, before they suspect us. If we wait until tomorrow, they may get wind of something and disappear.”

At this point Brusco came into the discussion.

“You must be crazy,” he said. “You can’t start out to kill people before you think it over.”

“I’m not crazy and you’re a very poor Communist, that’s what you are! These are all reactionary pigs; no one can dispute that, and if you don’t take advantage of this golden opportunity then you’re a traitor to the party!”

Brusco shook his head.

“Don’t you believe it! It’s jackasses that are traitors to the Party! And you’ll be a jackass if you make mistakes and slaughter innocent people.”

Gigio raised a threatening finger.

“It’s better to eliminate ten innocents than to spare one individual who may be dangerous to the cause. Dead men can do the party no harm. You’re a very poor Communist, as I’ve said before. In fact, you never were a good one. You’re as weak as a snowball in hell, I say. You’re just a bourgeois in disguise!”

Brusco grew pale, and Peppone intervened.

“That’s enough,” he said. “Comrade Gigio has the right idea and nobody can deny it. It’s part of the groundwork of Communist philosophy. Communism gives us the goal at which to aim and democratic discussion must be confined to the quickest and surest ways to attain it.”

Giggio nodded his head in satisfaction, while Peppone continued: “Once it’s been decided that these people are or may be dangerous to the cause and therefore we must eliminate them, the next thing is to work out the best method of elimination. Because if by our carelessness, we were to allow a a single reactionary to escape, then we should indeed be traitors to the Party. Is that clear?”

“Absolutely,” the others said in chorus. “You’re dead right.”

“There are six of us,” Peppone went on, “And twenty names on that list, among them the Filotti, who has a whole regiment in his house and a cache of arms in the cellar. If we were to attack these people one by one, at the first shot the rest would run away. We must call our forces together and divide them up into twenty squads, each one equipped to deal with a particular objective.”

“Very good,” said Gigio.

“Good, my foot!” shouted Peppone. “That’s not the half of it! We need a twenty first squad, equipped even better than the rest to hold off the police. And mobile squads to cover the roads and the river. If a fellow rushes into action in the way you proposed, without proper precautions, running the risk of botching it completely, then he’s not a good communist, he’s just a damn fool.”

It was Gigio’s turn to pale now, and he bit his lip in anger, while Peppone proceeded to give orders. Smilzo was to transmit word to the cell leaders in the outlying settlements and these were to call their men together. A green rocket would give the signal to meet in appointed places, where Falchetto, Brusco and Straziami would form the squads and assign the targets. A red rocket would bid them go into action. Smilzo went off on his motorcycle while Lungo, Brusco, Straziami and Gigio discussed the composition of the squads.

“You must do a faultless job,” Peppone told them. “I shall hold you personally responsible for its success. Meanwhile, I’ll see if the police are suspicious and find some way to put them off.

Don Camillo, later waiting in vain for the lights to go on and the radio to resume its mumble, decided to get ready for bed. Suddenly he heard a knock at the door and when he drew it open cautiously, he found Peppone before him.

“Get out of here in a hurry!” Peppone panted. “Pack a bag and go! Put on an ordinary suit of clothes, take your boat and row down the river.”

Don Camillo stared at him with curiosity.

“Comrade Mayor, have you been drinking?”

“Hurry,” said Peppone. “The people’s Front has won and the squads are getting ready. There’s a list of people to be executed and your name is the first one!”


The Right To Go To Hell a Blast From the Past from February 2019

*More applicable than ever now when those few of us somewhat at risk are being prevented from taking our chances with a new type of common cold and paying the the price in complete economic destruction and underhanded seizure of private property — what do you think ruining city real estate values and destroying businesses is? — and while maniacs are blaming invisible monsters of oppression for individual actions and wanting to destroy all of society the name of Marxism. It’s time to stop that sh*t. Only individuals have rights, and among individual rights are “to be able to make choices the bien pensant disapprove of.- SAH.*


The left is very adamant about charity not coming “with a sermon.”  It is most of their excuse for wanting government not churches to preach.

But while I understand the convinced Christian’s need to preach and to save everyone from hell, which if you believe it is an eternal sentence and an awful one is mere human decency, I don’t understand the left’s similar need to ensure that everyone lives “a decent life” by its lights.

They refuse to understand that just as people are entitled to disbelieve and deny eternal salvation (and if you’re a Christian you know they are entitled to that. It’s called free will. Just as they’re entitled to sin. Doesn’t make it right. They’re still entitled to it. You can’t force anyone to be holy) they can refuse to live a middle class life. (Or better. The left keeps imagining that middle class is much further up than it is. Possibly because so many of them these days are spoiled rich kids.)

This came to mind last night, thinking of someone in the comments (sorry, I don’t remember the name) who said that maybe 10% of the homeless were aggressive and dangers to themselves and others.  Others simply were mentally ill or caught in the trap of child support but behaved like decent human beings.

The child support thing is iniquitous, and usually on both sides.  No, seriously. Women on the make will drive a man to ruin to finance her lifestyle in the name of “the children.”  Men on the make still find ways not to pay, and if the woman is decent and doesn’t want to turn her kids’ life into unending strife she ends up living in poverty to provide for the kid. I’ve known this on both sides, partly because it’s impossible for a judge to adjudicate fairly without truly knowing the parties involved. Partly because scammers gonna scam.  (It’s almost like no-fault divorce and marriage as a transitory fancy is a bad idea particularly when there are children involved. Never mind.)

The mental health… I’m fairly sure there are still services available should someone need them and know how to look.  And perhaps without the noise of the violent it would be easier for those people to find help.

But I still wonder if the mental health issues are such. And I wonder about other things like “but what if people just want to live like that?”

I have learned through rather bitter experience that you can’t help everyone and also that what you want for yourself and your life is not what other people want. Some people will do the absolute minimum to keep a roof over head and food on the table, even if the roof is leaky and substandard, and the food is whatever and they never do any house keeping and live in what can only be described as utter squalor.

I found long ago that given the absolute same income as someone else, we tend to live better.  Why? because we work beyond the money we have.  I don’t mean just that we work to get out of that level of poverty, I mean that we will trade time for the money we don’t have.

So, when my husband was the sole provider because my writing wasn’t selling yet, I made a lot of my clothes, refinished furniture and, of course, cooked absolutely everything from scratch.  Other than our cars, which we always bought used and fully paid for and drove into the ground, we easily kept up with our dual income friends.  Why? Well, not child care was part of it, but furniture, clothes and food were the other part. It’s just cheaper to do for yourself.

It was also a massive amount of work. Particularly since I was trying to break into writing, and was getting up every day at five am to write for two hours before the routine with the kids started.  I remember years of being short on sleep and going to bed with a long list of work that still needed to be done and I hadn’t got to in my head.

Was it worth it? Well, it was for me. I don’t like living in squalor.  I wanted nice furniture and a nice, clean house.  And I wanted my kids to have good food.

All of which amounts to: it was for me. It might not be for someone else.

It took me forever to figure this out. Let’s say the dime only dropped in the last ten years.  So, I kind of get the left not “getting” it.

Partly because if you come from a background where everyone worked a lot all the time to secure the best lifestyle they could, it’s almost impossible to visualize someone wanting to live in what we’d consider unacceptable circumstances.  Or perhaps not even “wanting” as fundamentally not being willing to pay the price to get a better situation.

Look, I’m not even a hundred percent sure of that last one.  We tried for decades with someone, and everything you gave that would bring a better life got either broken or ignored or thrown away.  Perhaps there is a Petersonian thing there, of people believing they only deserve to live at a certain level and anything above that making them uncomfortable. (Peterson says in terms of people not taking necessary meds, etc, that having seen our own brokenness and that we’re often untruthful and evil — even when we don’t mean to be — we think we don’t deserve to be well, etc.)

Or perhaps it is simply that doing anything, even using the thing that makes it easier is too much effort.

I’ve said before that I think the vast majority of people don’t feel the need to work above a subsistence level and that those of us who do are the mutants.  I still believe so. In evolutionary terms, if you continued hunting after you had mammoth in your cave, you were just going to deplete the game and end up starving eventually.

That’s not the way it works now, but the human brain is not a thing of the industrial revolution.

I believe a great number of the people who live in “chronic poverty” are in fact at the level at which they wish to be/the level for which they’re willing to work.  The left keeps coming up with increasingly fancier explanations, which are now devolving to “invisible demons” of oppression (seriously, in our society? Besides, if societal disapproval caused you to be poor, then a lot of gay people would be historically poor, instead of statistically at the top.)

It never occurred to me that a lot of people who are “homeless” might fall into the same category.  By which I mean the ones who aren’t crazy, addicted or dangerous to others.  Maybe what they have and what they do is the level they wish to live at.  Or at least it’s comfortable enough they don’t wish to do anything to get out of it.  But it makes sense.  After all, by the numbers, these people already live better than your average medieval peasant.  At which point, honesty, my only problem with their choice is whatever help they get that is non voluntary, i.e. taxation, not private charity.  If they’re living like that and it’s their choice, and they’re wholly financed by private charity? Don’t care. None of my business.  Everyone has the right to go to hell in the way of their choice.

What disturbs me about the left’s inability to recognize that choice is that those choices end up being financed from my purse, and the purse of the others who choose to work.  That they are in fact holding up a gun to the heads of working fathers and mothers and demanding money to keep people who (what was Occasional Cortex’s cutesy phrase, exactly, I can’t remember) “aren’t willing to work” in the level of comfort they are okay with.

And then the fact that those people aren’t living at what the left thinks American middle class level should be, in a decently ecologically approved house, with the car and the organic meals and full health insurance, the left will come back and demand more.  More and more money to pour down the hole of trying to change people’s choice on what they consider an acceptable level of comfort and living.  What they aren’t willing to work to get out of.  What, in fact, they’ll preserve if they get more “help” by doing even less to help themselves.

That’s what I object to. I object to the use of people’s choices to blackmail other people out of theirs.

I object to this holy crusade of the left that turns anyone who has less than you into a de-facto saint who needs to be championed, while you need to be tormented because you worked (or your ancestors did) to get to a level you consider acceptable.

I object to this Christian heresy with no redemption, no hope, no future, and no one being good or holy except those who envy and live at the expense of others.

I don’t think there’s ever been a civilization as rich as ours, but even in rich civilizations of the past, there were people who lived at all levels. And though social motility was smaller or slower or hidden, it was possible.  It could happen. It might take multiple generations and grim determination, but it happened.  Just the same, there were any number of people who were satisfied once they reached the “we’re not starving” level and went no further.

There still are.  In the infinite variety of humanity, what you consider comfortable I consider insupportable.  And it’s not just poverty, either. I’d probably die if forced to live the life of a socialite, forever minding what people thought, and having to have the latest styles.  I don’t want that. I’m not interested.

In the same way I suspect any number of the “poor” would think I was crazy, keeping the work hours I do, and taking time to refinish furniture, or clean, or…  Because they don’t feel the need to it.

And that’s their right. They are entitled to live as they want and to do just the minimum to get there.

And the left is NOT entitled to use holy envy to make everyone who wants better and works for it to feel guilty. Nor are they entitled to rob us to finance the lifestyle of people who don’t want to make any extraordinary effort and feel fine the way they are.

And it’s time we stopped this nonsense.

You choose what you want to sacrifice for what. I will willingly sacrifice time and effort for a clean and decent house.  You won’t because you place more value on time on the sofa watching your favorite program? You do you.  Just don’t ask me for money to get you a better house.

You see what you want and you pay the price.  And the do-gooders can go take a flying leap.  As long as your hand isn’t in my pocket, I don’t care.



The Right To Go To Hell a Blast From the Past from February 2019

The Nature of Humans


If you’re reading this, chances are you’re human.  (Unless you’re a minotaur, of course. This blog doesn’t discriminate on your percentage of human DNA. Like the owner could throw stones and all.)

Yesterday a friend asked a question, which has apparently been rocking right wing blogs and talk shows: “Is considering humans as inherently good a right or left thing?” I’d managed to miss it completely until a friend brought it up.

At which point, I rolled my eyes so hard they went under the sofa. And let me tell you that with Havey having now claimed me as his person (in his half -daft way.  I don’t know what instructions Greebo left him, but running over me, screaming starting at six am is NOT the way to get me up and writing.) those eyes were COVERED in fuzz.

Because the answer is “Yes, but it’s complicated.”

Sure, the left believes in the essential “innocence” of humans.  What it actually means is that, back there, at the beginning, they believe humans were born perfect and corrupted by society.  (Who has the time machine to go strangle J-J. Rousseau with his swaddling clothes, again?)

And the modern left believes a more elaborate lie, in which we are all born PERFECT and things like madness and crime only come in because of capitalism.  They have this entire Christian-heretical story according to which we lived once in a hunter gatherer paradise, where there was no private property and everyone had equal rights.

Then, the evil of greed and private property entered the world, and corrupted humans, so that men started exploiting women, people wanted to have “things” and everything went bad evil.

They base this, MOSTLY on their misinterpretation of primitive cultures and the remains of our most distant ancestors.  As in “Listen,paperskull, just because people didn’t have a ton of stuff, it doesn’t mean they didn’t cherish what they had.”  In fact, in some of the more primitive-living tribes, private property in the sense of un-needed and chance-come-by property, like charms or statues or whatever are very privately held and dearly loved.

This is why we find trade goods hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away, in the graves of some of our ancestors.  IF you think that was some communally held property, you have more rocks in your head than the average progressive idiot.

In fact, some of the other great apes will fight over things they consider theirs. And if you’re going to say that’s because they were corrupted, you might want to consider that the only life for that won’t defend what is theirs is probably an ameba. And maybe not even then.  We just don’t know much about them.

Again poverty doesn’t mean “everything held in common.”  Yes,more primitive tribes have systems for sharing property and things you make. They are, arguably, responsible for some of the difficulty these tribes have crawling out of poverty, as they enable a system of crab bucket, where those who can’t or won’t do cannibalize the work and ingenuity of those that do.  In that sense, it is indeed primitive communism. But I wouldn’t brag about it.

At the same time, the left has this vision of humans as they are now as “no one is good and no one is clean.”  No, I don’t know how they reconcile it in their heads. I have a strong suspicion that they don’t reconcile anything in their heads, just receive it all, like open-mouthed guppies and don’t even chew as they swallow.  But let’s be charitable, maybe they think that capitalism — that all powerful idea you can own things and trade them… Wow, mind blown — has corrupted humans so far, that now all humans are tainted and evil.

This has some echo in their idea they can “fix”humans with “progressive” “education” (aka indoctrination) and various jiggerings of the way people live, trade and communicate.

So, they believe that humans are all evil, and everyone commits “crimes” and “evil” particularly those who get ahead/create anything/ are successful.  I.e. “no one gets ahead without breaking the law.”  I don’t know if they ever say that explicitly, but it’s obvious and implicit in all their art, writing and story telling.

But they also believe humans are INFINITELY perfectible by “education” — by which they mean making humans think and behave in a certain way.

This is solidly within the Marxist dream, where, after the dictatorship of the proletariat perfects us, the state will “wither away.”

Do I need to tell you they’re wrong?

The left believes they can write scripts for humans and humans will follow them blindly.  This can lead to a suspicion that leftists not only aren’t humans but have never met a single human.  I think it is more likely though that they are incredibly privileged humans of an intellectual bend. They grew up in stories, more than in the real world, and therefore believe the just-so story of Marxism.

And no amount of failure of their Procrustes bed of socialism/communism will convince them they were wrong.

So, do they believe humans are naturally good?  No, they believe humans were once naturally good, before evil-bad capitalism (think of it as a serpent) taught them to be bad, and now the only thing to do is “teach” (bully, arrest, cancel, beat) humans into perfection.  And hey, if most of them have to die along the way, is that too much to pay to bring paradise to Earth once again?

So, what about conservatives, (and for the purposes of this we’ll include Libertarians. What do they believe?) Do we believe that humans are naturally good?

Define good. Define human for that matter. And while we’re at it, let’s define everything else.  Okay, you don’t have time for that, so …. let’s table it for now, but remember it.

Most conservative/libertarians believe that most humans are as decent as they’re allowed to be.  Note “decent” not “good” which gets us into “whose idea of good.”

I.e. most humans can be trusted to look after their self interest best.

Wait, doesn’t that mean most humans will break the law and be criminals if you let them?

Well, no. The point is that in most cases the route to what humans want — which is some individual combination of status, family and stability — is easier if you don’t break the law.  In a sane society — say the one the founders intended (yeah, I know, now shut up) — breaking the law is the more expensive way to achieve that point.

And most humans, btw, do not want or aspire to unlimited power.  Yes, there are some. But most of us don’t.

Most of us, hell, don’t aspire to unlimited money or fame or whatever, either.

We (and by we I mean me and my friends. I don’t know about you tovarish) believe that humans are fundamentally self-interested, and have limits on all their impulses, from greed for money for greed for power.

This is obvious if you look around.  Go and look up your friends from childhood, for instance, and you’ll find yeah, some of them had a lot more potential, but weren’t willing to do the work. Some could have great families, but couldn’t be arsed, etc etc etc. But in the end, most people reach the level they are willing to pay for with sweat and tears (and occasionally blood.)

If they wanted more, they would work for it.

It is only when a system becomes fundamentally broken, like totalitarian societies, and progressives try to force a way of living — down to the least minute detail — on everyone, that humans become “naturally criminal.”

In fact, I think this idea that everyone is naturally evil-bad is the left’s long sustained scream at the fact that humans refuse to follow their scripts, and the tighter their script gets, the more we deviate.

The right? We believe if you leave people alone and impose only the minimal rules to make sure people with a raging thirst for power aren’t stomping on everyone else, and enforce them consistently, people are more or less decent. They mind their own business, and work and accumulate wealth to the level they wish, and then stop where they’re not willing to work any harder.

Now, we also believe all humans are fundamentally broken in some way, because, well, we’re in many ways jumped up social apes (I’m leaving out what I believe about the soul’s aspirations, because that’s based on stuff that is by nature unprovable) which means we have the impulses of social apes.  And those guys aren’t some kind of primitive and natural saint. All the sins of humanity are pre-figured in the physical form we inhabit, from murder to rape, from cannibalism to violence.  And so, those of us who aren’t extreme Libertarians know that most people are decent, but not everyone is some kind of noble savage or saint.  So, police is a necessary evil, to make the price of going off the rails expensive enough that just killing the neighbor and taking their stuff isn’t the lazy man’s way to riches.

In the same way, because nations are no more saintly than individuals, and because individual cultures tend to have their own agendas (whether the cultures are national or multi-national or tribal)we need a government, not just to regulate the administration of law, and prevent the police from going insane, but also to negotiate with other cultures/tribes/national and supra national entities.

Because government is essentially force, it’s very important to keep it out of the hands of those who believe humans are infinitely perfectible if ONLY government takes over every aspect of life, including how many squares of toilet paper you’re allowed to use for what purpose.

Because there is no faster way to turn everyone essentially evil than to make it impossible for them to subsist without taking things and hurting people.

So, the left believes we’re all meant to be noble savages. And is willing to commit all sorts of evil and violence to make us that again.

The right believes all of us have impulses and desires that are uh…. not noble at all savagery.  But the way to live in a functional society and prosper as a whole is to keep those under control.  Making it too socially expensive to hurt people and take their stuff can help make society on the whole, happy healthy and wise.

Yes, some individuals will fall through the cracks. That can’t be helped. You can’t make everyone happy and wealthy and contented.  Not without giving the savages in government so much power that all nobility, kindness and essential goodness is driven off and we’re all screaming apes, locked in a social hell.

So, yeah, depending on how you define it, (I told you we’d go back to definitions)  you can say either the left or the right believe in the essential goodness of humans.

But as usual, the devil — and the saving grace — are in the details.



Writing Challenge and Book Promo

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. ;)*


510kscvzxmlON SALE FOR 99C THIS WEEK!

April is an exceptional young lady and something of a snoop. After a chance encounter with a spy, she finds herself involved with political intrigues that stretch her abilities. There is a terrible danger she, and her friends and family, will lose the only home she has ever known, and be forced to live on the slum ball Earth below. It’s more than an almost fourteen year old should have to deal with. Fortunately she has a lot of smart friends and allies. It’s a good thing because things get very rough and dicey. They challenge the political status quo, and with a small population the only advantage they have in war is a thin technological edge.
The entire “April” series is building towards a merge with the future series that starts with “Family Law”.

FROM PAM UPHOFF:  Warrior At Large (Wine of the Gods Book 52.


Ice is back, and back in trouble! Fired from the Directorate, he’s working three part time jobs, and tripping over problems that a Warrior of the One can’t ignore. Spies from other Worlds and corrupt politicians is just the start

And with no one ordering him around, he’s free to deal with problems his way.

FROM MARY CATELLI:  The Witch-Child and the Scarlet Fleet.


Trapped in a pirate port. . . Caught between pirates who would force him to use wizardry in their aid, and a king who would force him to spy, Alik will need every scrap of wits and wizardry to forge his own path.


*No word for the challenge.

Write the opening two paragraphs of a story OR a two paragraph novel blurb based on THIS picture. SAH*



I’m going to try to do a chapter of Witch’s daughter later, but I need to go deal with the floor varnishing first, and probably lunch.
For those that watched the Prometheus award, I’m sorry my camera crapped out (zoom suddenly decided I didn’t want it, and it took me forever to find THAT setting.)

Crawling around on the floor looking for USB hookups (some are behind the computer) made me lose track of what I was saying.  Hopefully it wasn’t too bad.

Wiggles fingers.  See you later.
Anyone want to listen to a reading of work in progress later on? I can do a zoom meeting, though I don’t know how many people it will allow….

I’m Painting Walls

Yes, I DO know who also painted walls: Anyone too poor to pay a painter.

Though right now our biggest problem is even getting estimates for ANYTHING.  Apparently all the Americans who still have jobs are doing home improvement.  Which makes sense, if you have to work from home.

I just waited in a line of 10 to get paint mixed at Home Despot Depot.

Kate Paulk helped talk me out of a dead end in plotting yesterday.

Also oh, yeah, tomorrow I’ll be presenting one of the Prometheus award at NasFic and after will be on a panel. F. Paul Wilson will also be there.

Also, if Overgrownhobbit reads this, can you resend the post.  I can’t remember your real name, so I can’t find it. (sigh.)

I think that’s it.
Sorry for more or less skipping out on you, but I want to be done with home stuff so I can write.