Cover And Coformity

*This post was started on the road yesterday. As of now, middle of the day Wednesday, it looks like we’re going to back out of the purchase, as each inspection result that comes in discloses more expenses that must be done up front. As my experience has been that you usually double the predicted expense, the house would be ruinously expensive. And it’s already at the top of our ability to cover. So, our plans to move are suspended by now, perhaps indefinitely. The reports and studying them is the reason this is so late. The post might also read scattered and weird, since I kept being interrupted other paragraph. It might still be worth reading, who knows? – SAH*

I was raised in a very weird household, so it used to be my opinion that men were like dogs, pack animals and law abiding, while women were cats, solitary, who did what they had to do to survive.

Which goes to show you we are all influenced by the circumstances of their upbringing. And if that’s odd, so are our ideas of the world.

I know that both Foxfier and Mary have said that there is no parallel between real humans and RPG alignment, but dad is as close to lawful good as it’s possible to be. He will obey the law if it is at all possible, and works very hard not to give scandal or stand out.

That dad was obeying the whole of the Covidiocy didn’t surprise me. Yes, he’s a thinking and intelligent man, but he also has a touching belief in “the authorities” and those who are supposed to guard public health. One of the few times we’ve ound ourselves at odds was when I tried to point out to him the Clinton administration might not have the best interests of the US to heart. To him it was inconceivable that someone in charge o the country (who didn’t take over through violent revolution) should have interests that go against the country.

He probably thinks our claims of stolen elections are ridiculous, though he’ll never say that, because he doesn’t want to argue with me. He won’t have checked the numbers, and he trusts the MSM, and I imagine what the reporting has been like in Europe.

You see, dad was brought up mostly by his mom and grandmother (while his dad worked abroad until dad was in his mid-teens.) Grandma later admitted to having been perhaps a little too harsh on her 3 boys, because well… they were built like my boys and by 10 they were taller than she was. And she was afraid they’d go “to the bad” without a paternal influence.

His mom and grandmother did have his best interests at heart and were strict but fair.

Mom on the other hand, was born in a less stable family structure, in a much more dangerous area, and left to her own devices much of the time.

I don’t mean to say mom would consciously do what is wrong. But to her right and wrong have little to do with what people around her think or do. And rankly, she has very little respect for authority. Authority has to prove itself good or she’ll just assume it’s bad. (Yeah, I know. The nut didn’t fall far from the tree.)

There is no easier way to make her doubt something than to be ordered to do it, and to have authorities order her to do it. (Yeah, yeah, blah blah, nut tree. I hear you.)

So, imagine how shocked I was when she fell for the covidiocy and fell in line with all the instructions. Oh, she’d try to rebel, now and then. Like when she told me — tartly — during a call that they’d close the cemeteries, apparently afraid the dead would catch Winnie the Flu. But the next week, she’d be terrified of the China Bug and afraid I’d catch her, since I didn’t fall into line with any of the bullshit.

I have to assume that the propaganda in Europe was next level. And that at 85, mom is much more susceptible to the opinions of those around her, particularly since I doubt she’s ever spent much time on epidemiology or biology.

At any rate, according to my best friend from childhood, who had a pretty good handle on my family (having spent as much time around it, as around her own family, but with more detachment from the mechanics) I am somewhere in between. My instinct is not to trust authorities (probably because of the times I grew up in) but I do examine everything in light of rationality and life experience. So, trust but verify. Unless the authorities (and the crowd) push me to the point that I get stuck in “Effe you, no. You’re not the boss of me.” (Yeah, I know, but think on it.)

So, it’s a complete shock to me, no matter how many times I see it, that women in general seem to follow the crowd and “the people in charge” and to believe the crowd is right.

In retrospect, and looking at it from an evolutionary perspective, it makes perfect sense, since we are a species with a very prolonged childhood. Judging from both our closest ape-cousins and from modern day primitives, it is very difficult in situations of barbarism to raise children to adulthood if you don’t have the support of a family, or a tribe.

So, for most of our history as humans or pre-humans, the women who stuck out, refused to fall in with the crowd, and refused to obey left no children. Which of course, would make most women who survive, after several generations of it, would be natural conformists, with a tendency to conform outwardly and — perhaps — undermine the status quo by stealth and behind the scenes.

The female fighting mode is underhanded, undermining, and psychological. If we’re going to talk “toxic” femininity is far more toxic than masculinity. Masculinity, untamed and unbroken to society is dangerous in an open, violent way, a way in which most people understand they’re threatened by and therefore can defend themselves from.

The female form of fighting is best understood — so it is also understood what type of pond scum our ridiculous occupying Junta has installed as mock (very mock) VP — if you remember the Joe Biden Kamala Harris debate, when the little bint ripped up at the man who, no matter how corrupt and evil he is (and he is), had mentored her and nurtured her career by accusing him of having been racist against people like her.

You saw it in poor confused Joe’s eyes at that moment — and he was less confused than he is now, so he probably still knew who he was — the complete shock at being attacked by this woman who owed him gratitude and should at least have abstained from a frontal attack.

But Commie La Whorish is very female, from her means of advancement to her means of fighting. Which means she has no friends. Only people she can use until she steps on their bleeding corpses as she climbs.

That is a female who has not had her toxicity moderated by civilization, and who romps around being her evil self, and patting herself on the back for being so smart (I have it on the word of people who know her personally that she’s actually not very smart and her main points of interest are fashion and well…. herself.)

Her ilk infest boardrooms and businesses in America, making business a place where no one can be honorable, where merit is irrelevant, and where you must always watch for a knife in the back.

This is particularly bad in businesses almost wholly taken over by women, such as publishing, the arts, broadcasting, etc.

In such businesses even males adopt feminine modes of being in the world and the result is often horrific.

This entire crazy covidiocy has been a case of women and the men who have learned female modes of being in the world (and who are worse than women) running around with the bit between their teeth trying to agrandize themselves with how smart and special they are.

Note that women aren’t particularly dangerous. Not in civic life and not in business. In fact, women can be perfectly good citizens and business people.

The problem we have is that men have spent generations developing a “public mode” in which their natural male mode is curtailed –i.e. men might get very upset. They might talk of punching someone, but it would be very weird for say business partners to duel over a decision. Mine you, it was still perfectly common four hundred years ago — and tamed and civilized so people can work together for the good of whatever the objective is. So the “male way” of being in politics or business has been refined, and there’s established ways of doing things.

But while — contrary to the idiot pseudo history — women have been in business as more or less constant presences for about 100 years (and before that sporadically present) there has been no development of “ladies don’t do this” in business.

In the beginning, as a minority, they adapted to the majority’s way of doing business. Having grown up in a country seriously behind the times, I learned from dad a public-face that was/is mostly male. Oh, sure, I will be charming in a female way when in public. Well, if I can. In fact, I am a profound introvert, so when I’m in public it’s almost entirely a performance. However, I will turn my attention to discussing the subject at hand/working towards the objective of the group/business/whatever, and submerging my own advancement. At any rate, I never had much backstabbing instinct, since that is way too much work and I’m lazy.

But most women who first broke into public life, probably behaved like the men with whom they worked, because that was the way to be successful.

Honesty, though perhaps to some extent it curtails “female ways of being” (Search me. I really don’t know. I know that women in general think deeper and with more connections, while men think more clearly and point to point. So it’s possible that a “female way of thinking” could be of help in business, particularly business that deals with people. I just don’t know for sure that office-mode for males (and default office mode for 100 years of so until the current era of insanity) would curtail that. Or fully understand why it would. Note that my last “real” job in an office was 30 years ago give or take) I think the mode of being in business evolved over centuries works pretty well for both sexes.

If I understand it, this goes something like: The important thing is the job, whether the job is building houses or teaching kids, all personal grievances and agendas are submerged to that; workers are trustworthy and can be taken at their word; workers will be present at work time; there will be no personal feuds during work hours; professional etiquette requires that people pretend to be at least friendly acquaintances, no matter how much they might dislike each other on a personal level.

The list could go on, and yes, I know, there have always been issues with those rules. And other rules that involved “how to be in business” some of which I might not even know anymore, since they’ve been eroding hard for the last 20 years at least.

The problem is that in the last 30 or 20 years (different for different areas of the country) many industries became majority-female, at the same time that the women arriving at the scene came with a narrative (some of it justified, for women ten years older than I or so) of having been discriminated against and “being kept down by the man” (literally.) Note that while the narrative might have been justified at first, at least in the sense that women were basically adapting to an alien environment, but it’s not been justified at all for at least20 years, and has intensified despite it.

So women arriving in business now have never been discriminated against (by and large, okay? I know there’s always exceptions) BUT believe they’re being kept down.

Add to that the fact that since earliest schooling every teacher would be afraid of “discouraging” or somehow crushing the precious darlings (I’m not joking, and any of you who has had kids in public school recently has seen this) combined with a lot of older teachers projecting their traumas and their imagination at the kids.

These women have never actually been socialized for business, or told that their female impulses are wrong. So they come into business using the evolved mode of the extended family, the tribe and the seraglio, which means women backstab, form alliances and devote their full energies to interpersonal politics and looking good, leaving the “purpose of the organization” as a distant and possibly half-forgotten point.

Mind you this form of being in the world was great when the purpose was to suck up to the man or woman (depending on your position in the house) in power to make sure you and your children were safe and well fad. Admirable even. And in our tribal past are situations in a woman couldn’t be both honorable and safe. (honor being a thing evolved in chivalry days, and then honed to serve as a business code.) There still are in some of the shitholes of the world.

That is what’s imprinted deeply in female’s “nature”. And no one is curbing female nature, because having a vagina is magical and makes us special. (To be fair most men think this way, so they’re no help.)

Which is why even now that most rational people know that the whole damn covidiocy was MOSTLY idiocy and that wearing a mask is actually and literally worse than useless, as it seems to have worse outcomes, the people still wearing masks are mostly female.

You see, their instinct is to conform to the “voice of authority” (Which in this case is the news media and government) and to force others to conform, while taking an advantage or two along the way.

And yeah, I know this sounds terribly negative towards women. It’s not. Both women and men can unmake civilization in their own way. (And to the snowflake using the name “woke” — really — who has been bitbutcketed and who took it upon itself to lecture me on how civilization was more than two thousand years old, the Egyptians had civilization. Sure. Of course they did. As did the Babylonians and the builders of Gobekli Tepe. But where we know how their civilization worked, none of us would want to live in it, while with more or less comfort, most of us if forced could live in Western civilization, whose foremost roots lie about 2k years deep, though they could be deemed to extend the 6k years of Judaism. No other civilization (And speaking of older ones, oh, “woke” snowflake, you could have brought up India or China.) could or did develop the technology that makes our lives easier and had — pre covidiocy — almost banished famine and poverty — as historically understood– from the globe.)

The problem is that women are not being told “Yeah, you’re a woman and that’s special, but as an employee for x, your job is to do y.”

They’re not, for lack of a better term, taught to be gentlemen.

It’s already biting women in the *ss, because no sane man wants to be alone with a woman who might find it convenient to accuse him of sexual harassment to score points. No sane man wants a woman as his immediate subordinate if his removal will cause her to ascend. (Joe isn’t sane. Or in fact all there, at this point.) No sane man would start a partnership with a woman not his wife. (And some would be weary of partnering with their wives.)

Women are being taught to be feral. And either sex in feral mode (most of the feral men you’ll see are in other lands, or criminals, or of course homeless) can destroy civilization.

Going into a store where every man was walking around bare-faced and every woman masked and glowering made me sick.

I don’t want to reap the backlash that will come; I don’t want my granddaughters to be subjected to suspicion and hobbled because “women can’t be trusted in public life.”

The early feminists — early twentieth century and before — were clear about holding women up to ideals for being the best of the race. (Human race, oh, “woke”.)

It’s time we taught our daughters to do the same.

We’ve come a long way baby. And if we don’t learn to behave like civilized humans, we’re going to find ourselves back there, just as women are in most of the world.

And Humanity will be poorer.

On The Road Again

On the road, heading to Colorado. Very long day. Should be there late tonight.

We are okay, and depending on what can be done about the one major issue, nothing unexpected about the house, and we might yet be moving. Updates on that later.

Meanwhile, the trip has been good or something. Being in lower altitude seems to help my concentration, and I did, wait for it, FINISH THE CURSED NOVEL.

I’ve sent it to my primary alpha reader to hunt for typos and tell me how many times I changed a name. For some reason Luzend had a habit of becoming Lucenzio and Lucendio. In my defense, I do the same with real people’s last names. And first names. And brand names. And pet’s names, and … well occasionally my kids’ names and my own name. (Though admittedly for that I need to be very tired or totally immersed in a novel. Rumor has it (coff) when writing full tilt I behave a bit like Star in Glory Road when she was taking personality impressions of her predecessors. My food tastes, clothes tastes, and sometimes my awareness of my own surrounding change. My husband — thank heavens — finds this amusing.)

But anyway, when a book drags on this long, I tend to get more confused about names, or places, or of course world details. So my alpha reader will also have the job of figuring out if the solution makes any sense whatsoever.

I am now working on the #3 script for Barbarella. My editor has been very patient, but I’d like to get it out of the way, in case we do need to go all hands on deck to get moved within a month (and get the current house on the market ASAP.)

Anyway, I’m going to get back to designing panels and dialogue so I can close this by the time we get home.

I’m glad you guys have promised not to set the place on fire (right? You have, right?)

And now, give me some paragraphs of the story for which this would make a good cover. (And yes, I’ve displayed this before.) (If this were the cover of a novel, I swear I’d call it Bait. And yes, it amuses me immensely.))

A Cabal of Our Enemies

Prove to me that we’re not being run by a cabal of our enemies. Prove it.

They seized power by force, and they’re rapidly degrading our infrastructure and our communications, and out military capabilities.

And I don’t mean they’re just crazy Marxists. I mean, sure, that’s part of the issue. Marxism is inherently a destructive philosophy, so they will destroy as a matter of fact. But this particular set goes well beyond that.

Look, dad was an aficionado of war memoirs, commander biographies, and a student of strategy. From my earliest years, when we were walking, he’d talk about things he’d been reading.

The first thing invaders do is destroy the roads of the occupied country, so the defenders can’t counterattack. So these asshats are doing this in advance.

And the thought process behind it is a miracle of leftist bizarreness:

$20 Billion to Rip Up Highways, To Reduce Climate Change and Division Caused by Road Traffic

Look, I’m sure this was suggested by China, and the dunderheads are totally buying it under their Compleate Illusions system.

Sure climate change. Climate change can justify anything. If we told them they needed to burn people alive to prevent climate change, they’d already been building the pyres.

But that’s just sort of a reflexive thing, like a Moslem saying “Insh Allah.” It’s not actually involved in their thinking as such. Or their thinking is not involved in it. whichever.

The truth is that they realized that the Covidiocy has destroyed the cities.

You see they had everything planned. They were going to force more and more of us into the city, because they were going to make running an internal combustion engine so hard. So if you had a job, you’d live in the city. Where you’re more easily controlled. And where they could make you believe bullshit like overpopulation and that — look at all the homeless — we needed more and more welfare.
Their idea of their perfect world is the 1930s version of the future. Just megalopolisis, isolated, with people completely controlled. It has the bonus of leaving pristine wilderness outside that, for the elites to build their dachas.

And part of the problem is that they never understand other people have agency and respond to circumstances.

I don’t know what they expected when they went full fashboots and — in the case of Polis, and I bet not the only one — gave homeless the right to camp in every public land, and defecate in public as well as freeing a bunch of felons.

Did they expect this would just scare people more, and they’d lock themselves in, in fear and trembling, allowing the idiots to design society.

Instead, people left. Americans are on the move. I swear half of my friends are moving from more locked to less locked, from bluer to redder. Some demographers have caught on, seeing through the smoke and mirrors, and are confused — most of them being leftist — because Americans are in the middle of a full migration. As full and as all pervading as the movement west. Or after the civil war the movement of black people North.

Some of this must have penetrated the granite-like heads of the ruling left. Or at least the planning left.

They somehow didn’t expect — possibly because they don’t really get technology. I mean, I have my moments, but I swear most democrats were disappointed when laptops started being made with no “cup holders”. They’re at that level of stupid — that a tech that hasn’t been fully implemented, giving us the ability to work from home, would be kicked into high gear from the covidiocy.

I guess they expected people who work mostly from their computers to sit at home watching panic porn on TV and not work?

More importantly, I don’t think they expected people who have to work in person to follow that migration because, well…. if you owned a restaurant that the covidiocy killed, you might, for instance, pay heed to the fact people are driving everywhere because, duh, masks on planes, and therefore build a road side diner. or perhaps find a small town that’s underserved and start anew there.

Oh…. a lot of people are changing jobs too, and the jobs are no longer binding them to big cities.

Honestly, the only way for big cities to save themselves is to become touristic centers. NYC was halfway there when the covidiocy hit. Only not fully there because lefty governance sucks at making a city safe.

If I were a lefty governor or mayor right now, I’d aim the fashboots at crime and disorder, get rid of the homeless, spruce up the place, and go all out in courting tourism. Then people would move in to cater to the tourists, and eventually other businesses would move in, because that’s where people are.

But leftists don’t think that way. Carrot and incentive is beneath them (of course.) Their idea is rather that they will force those unwashed peasants to do what they want.

So, you know, “infrastructure” leads them to rip up roads, so that people who work in the city will have to live near their jobs.

It will surprise no one Buttigieg’s is involved in this. Possibly because that man’s head is optimized for oral sex, leaving no space for a brain. And of course, because he’s a child of privilege, who doesn’t in the most fundamental way understand where his food comes from or how it gets where he can buy it.

It never occurs to them that the lack of roads means employers will stay far away from it, and that people won’t move to hells on Earth because they’ll otherwise have to end up in traffic jams. Instead people will move elsewhere, do other things. Industries will spring up in the heartland and form small clusters around them.

We’ll go more distributed, more sparsely populated, more out of their control. And the cities they completely control will become hell holes inhabited by derelicts only.

And they’ll have no clue why.

They’ll keep trying increasingly crazier ways to herd us to the 30s. But they — and their Chinese Masters — don’t get Americans at all.
To quote BGE in a different context, they’re just pushing on a string.

They can’t win. And we ain’t gonna lose.
Yeah, times are going to get rough, and we live in the stupidest timeline, somewhere between tragedy and comedy.

Some of us are going to die laughing. But not many.

Be not afraid. We got this. All we have to do to defeat them is be human beings.

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

Sorry this is truly ridiculously late, but I had forgotten I had a two hour panel to record for virtual Liberty con. I’m now wondering if I’m on any others. I never did much I was supposed to do, since the House thing hit. We’ll see — SAH

Welcome to the Sunday 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 ELLIE FERGUSON: Prey.

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?

Originally released as Hunter’s Home, Prey includes approximately 4,000 words of new material.

FROM CEDAR SANDERSON: Trickster Noir.

After the battle of Tower Baelfire ended, Lom lay dying. Bella was tasked with not only the job she never wanted, but the one she did. Could she keep Lom alive long enough for him to come to the rescue when their kingdom needed them? And what did Raven, mysterious trickster spirit and honorary uncle to Bella, want with them? If the threat was big enough to have the trickster worried, Bella knew she needed to have Lom at her side. Underhill might look like a soap-bubble kingdom, but Bella and Lom knew there was a gritty underside. Why else would fairyland need a dark man willing to carry a big gun and be the Pixie for Hire?

FROM T. L. KNIGHTON: Bloody Eden

Seven years after a nuclear war forced Jason Calvin to fight his way across Georgia and through a brutal warlord, life has settled down a bit in a town called New Eden. As the town sheriff, Jason keeps the peace. After saving a family from a horrible fate, that peace becomes threatened when a sadistic military man shows up, claiming the family are fugitives from his draconian justice system and they’re coming back whether anyone in New Eden likes it or not…and maybe some of New Eden’s own as well. Unfortunately for him, Jason isn’t about to just let something like that go. “Bloody Eden” is the action packed sequel to the hit novelette “After the Blast”.

FROM LAURA MONTGOMERY: Long in the Land

He’s a man on the run. But on this harsh alien world, freedom doesn’t mean he’s safe…

Peter Dawe can’t face his mother’s relentless grief. With her anguish deepening his guilt and the colony’s governor out for revenge, he’s desperate to escape a deadly situation ready to explode. So he jumps at the chance to journey north away from danger, chasing the rare sight of a long-lost aircraft.

Buoyed by the glimpse of a machine he’s never seen before, Peter discovers the pilot desperately needs aid for his newborn son. But with sinister agents searching for them both, the remote planet may not be big enough to preserve the young fugitive from his enemy’s vengeance.

Can Peter find them refuge before they all fall to their doom?

Long in the Land is the thrilling second book in the Martha’s Sons science fiction series. If you like captivating world-building, edge-of-your-seat tension, and memorable characters, then you’ll love Laura Montgomery’s high-stakes tale.

FROM JAMES YOUNG: Acts of War: A World War II Alternative History

Somehow I doubt that this is quite how anyone expected Adolf Hitler’s death to turn out…Squadron Leader Adam Haynes, No. 303 (Polish) Squadron

August 1942. London is in flames. Heinrich Himmler’s Germany stands triumphant in the West, its “Most Dangerous Enemy” forced to the peace table by a hailstorm of nerve gas and incendiaries. With Adolf Hitler avenged and portions of the Royal Navy seized as war prizes, Nazi Germany casts its baleful gaze across the Atlantic towards an increasingly isolationist United States.

With no causus belli, President Roosevelt must convince his fellow Americans that it is better to deal with a triumphant Germany now than to curse their children with the problem of a united, fascist Europe later. As Germany and Japan prepare to launch the next phase of the conflict, Fate forces normal men and women to make hard choices in hopes of securing a better future.

For Adam Haynes, Londonfall means he must continue an odyssey that began in the skies over Spain. For while fighting Fascism has already cost him dearly, he would sooner perish than see a world where freedom has been snuffed out by a jackboot heel.

Despite nominally being a noncombatant, American naval officer Eric Cobb finds that neutrality is a far cry from safety. Forced to choose between the letter of the law and its spirit, Cobb makes a choice that irrevocably changes history.

In the Pacific, Tamon Yamaguchi must prepare himself and his men to fight a Pacific War that is far different than what his nation and the IJN had planned.  Forced to call off a meticulously planned surprise attack in December 1941, Japan instead turned north.  Rather than finding resources in Siberia, the Imperial Army found defeat and a tremendous loss of face.  Now, the Imperial Japanese Navy has once more turned its intentions towards Hawaii and the USN’s Pacific Fleet.  Although Yamaguchi knows that his force will likely be detected, he intends to strike a heavy blow for his Emperor regardless of cost. 

Acts of War is the first novel of the Usurper’s War series, which charts a very different World War II. As young men and women are forced to answer their nation’s call, the choices they make and risks they take will write a different song for the Greatest Generation.

FROM BLAKE SMITH: The Road to Stonberg.

Gavril of Grimsby is not your ordinary monster-slayer for hire…

Gavril thought defeating a giant was the most interesting thing he’d do all week. But when a merchant caravan needs guards for the treacherous journey over the mountains to Stonberg, he can’t resist signing on, and learns that even peaceful men don’t always have peaceful lives.

FROM JULIE PASCAL: Too Late For Vengeance.

An immortal thrown overboard in the middle of the ocean has abundant time to plan her revenge.

Very few humans survive the Obsidian transformation that grants them the ability to pilot between the stars, the ability to slip between. Now both star pilots and humans are trapped on the surface of a primitive world, abandoned to an eternal quarantine. Human refugees and their descendants struggle to build a new civilization and a new life. The immortal star pilots become known as Obsidian Witches.

FROM BECKY R. JONES: Academic Magic.

Zoe has found her dream job at a small liberal arts college teaching the history of Medieval witchcraft and magic. Academic life is exactly what she expected it to be…until the squirrels stop by to talk with her and her department chair and best friend turn out to be mages.

Zoe discovers a world of magic and power she never knew existed. She and other faculty mages race to stop a coven from raising a demon on the winter solstice while simultaneously grading piles of final exams and reading the tortured prose of undergraduate term papers. But first, she must learn to master her new-found powers.

FROM MARGARET BALL: Tangled Magic: A Regency fantasy romance.

After waiting ten long years for Richart Dalkey to realize she’s no longer the awkward young girl he grew up with, Elspet is thrilled when he finally comes to pay her court . . . until he divulges the true reason for his visit. His proposition? A sham engagement to discourage debutante Dorothea Turvoll, who’s infatuated with Richart and whom his mother wants him to marry. Elspet convinces him to pretend he’s desperately in love with her and actually court her instead, certain that with time—and a little bit of magic—he’ll see they’re meant to be together.
But another woman in Din Eidyn has her sights set on Richert, as well as some dark magic of her own, and she’ll stop at nothing to win the one man who can give her the social standing she desperately desires. Before long, the charade gets out of hand, and as scandal engulfs the ton, Elspet must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the love she’s always wanted.

FROM ANNA FERREIRA: As She Was No Horsewoman: A Pride & Prejudice Sequel.

Elizabeth has never learnt to ride a horse. Darcy thinks this a grave oversight in her education, and with the help of a little mare named Rose, sets out to teach his wife the art of horsemanship. Poor Elizabeth had no idea what she was getting herself into…

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: Print

Nerves

We get to do the inspection this week. Right now it’s really up in the air whether we’re buying this house or not. The prelim inspections have discovered 20k of repairs that need to be done up front, before we occupy or get the house insured. And you know, we were already at the top we were willing to pay.

But we like the house and don’t wish to give up, so we’re going to travel to do the full inspection. Then I’d say it’s renegotiate or back out.

Either way, house reno is in my future. I’ll confess that if it falls through it gives me more time to finish what seems like a crazy amount of work, as opposed to a month. Waggles hand. You know, if a month at least I JUST do that, till it’s done. If six months or so… well, nine, as we’d probably list next March, it’s going to be a long slog of interfering with my work. The second also has the risk that the bubble will crash. I don’t think it’s a bubble, honest. I think it’s equalization of the prices across the board. But if the commie whores of the Junta work hard enough, they can crash ALL of the economy, and then selling a house becomes…. difficult.

I don’t know. This is going to sound stupid, but I can’t tell what the future will bring, not even in broad outlines, so I’m letting Him drive. Normally I shy away from that because I firmly believe “G-d helps those who help themselves.” But right now I can’t tell. So– I’ll do what I can and …. stop grinding my teeth. (If only.)

Speaking of tools of the trade, I should buy a spray gun and an orbital sander. I’m tired of doing everything uphill, in snow, both ways. I have spending the money, but this will be a pain WITH tools, much less without.

In either case cursed book still not done. And if this falls through I’ll have to admit it’s really good at making me waste time — 2 weeks so far — on things that go nowhere.

I’ll let you guys know on the house. Meanwhile I should be working, not randomly socializing on line and grinding my teeth.

For now there’s not much I can do but try to finish work so I’m ahead of that for whatever future problems surface.

And yes, finish the damned cursed book.

Sorry, not quite up to a post today. I feel like everything is up in the air, and possibly about to crash down on me.

Tools of the Trad

I seem to be incurably addicted to making, doing, changing and improving things.

At some point, like maybe ten years ago, I finally was able to buy the right implement to do whatever it was I was attempting. I have no idea what it was, at this time, but probably something to do with faux-finishes.

Before that, getting the proper implements was never possible. I have realistically marbled tables and other surfaces with two old brushes, a bunch of q-tips, and some crayons and half a oil set from the thrift store. I used as paint whatever old stuff I found lying about, or happened to pick up at the “free paint distro” that used to happen (Does it still happen?) once a year. Oh, I also haunted the “mistints” isle. I might still do.

Last year I finished additional bookcases (the library was bursting) with home made chalk paint, because the price of the real thing made me speak Latin and intone several exorcisms I never learned and am not prepared to practice.

I don’t know if any real family had as a motto “I contrive” (A family in Georgette Heyer’s work did) but if there was one I’m probably related to them.

In fact, most of my interior decorating (not to mention dressing back before I looked like a potato) consists of my looking at some bizarrely expensive thing (and please, do realize I consider paying more than $20 for say an evening dress a terrible waste) sighing, and then spending a day thinking about how to make it for a tenth the price or less.

However, having used the right tools once or twice…. Well, it’s easier. And sometimes there is a real and obvious difference in the results. As in, if you don’t use the right tools, the thing looks kind of sort of right, but once you use the right tools you go “oh, obviously.”

Sometimes it’s just because doing it with “found objects” takes so long and requires so much effort that you don’t actually have what it takes for the final 10%.

Anyway, if the house deal goes through (Some troubling stuff found on one of the inspections, which I can’t fix myself, and is costly) or even if it doesn’t, the next couple of months are going to contain a lot of fixing, cleaning and painting, to get one house ready for sale, while the other will need some touch up for us to be happy living in. (If we don’t get this house,we’re still going to pack, paint and set up this one for sale, then rent an apartment for six months or so, until this house sells and we find somewhere to move to. I mean, I know I need to go lower altitude. It’s just the timing that will change. And I’ll be honest, I’d be less insane if we sold first. But who knows?)

Most of the stuff I need to do I can get the right tools and materials. But where that fails, I’ll have enough knowledge and understanding (by now) to contrive.

It’s not different for mental tools. In my oh so cherished fantasy of sending my mind back in time to when I was 20, note the deal would be “I get to take the skills I’ve acquired with me.” Why? Because at this point — and providing life stops interrupting every five minutes — I can write saleable books while tired, while sick, possibly while dead. I have internalized a bunch of mental tools on “how you do this.” When I was 20 I had more time, arguably was more methodical in proofreading, and had more enthusiasm and energy, but I lacked the tools. And what I produced took more effort and often showed thumb marks and badly mitered joints.

For some things, like the fact I’m stuck working in a language that was not my first or second, there is no remedy. I just must be that much better at using it, much closer to understanding how the thing works, so I can do consciously what would otherwise be subconscious.

So.

Recently one of my young friends came to me with an astonishing story. One of his young friends had no idea who the combatants were in the Civil War. No, she didn’t know what civil war meant. She thought it was just a name. You know like it was an exceptionally polite war.

We are now in the fourth generation from whom the tools of building civilization, or even of maintaining it have been withheld. Yes, four, and I’m the middle one.

Most of my adult life has been learning things that someone should have taught me but didn’t for whatever reason.

Okay, mom is excused for not teaching me to cook on two heads — first, she was in fear of what I would do if given full access to cutting implements and fire (and frankly naive, as of course I knew what to do with both, and where to find them too); second, she assumed I’d have cooks and maids or at least someone to come and “do” for me once a day, which would include leaving dinner made and on warm. She thought this because I entered college. From her experience it was reasonable — she is also excuse for never teaching me dress making both because she can’t stand to see someone fumble at something she’s proficient at and because I had no interest in it till I was in my thirties.

I should have learned from grandad how to make my own varnish and also actual furniture making (instead of just refinishing.) That’s entirely on me. I never made time.

But there are are other things. I mean, husband and I to an extent were thrown in to the world with no clue how to do the most basic things, like home maintenance or how to clean with proper products, how to take care of clothes, how to do anything with our savings other than let it sit in the bank, how to organize and sort files and records. It goes on. (I do still tend to use bleach for most things. It’s cheap. I have at least learned what it will damage.) Our first ten years of marriage would make a good sitcom, as they had a repeating pattern: figure out we need to do something; extrapolate how it can be done; invest untold amount of time and effort into doing thing; find out after that it can be done in a simpler and cheaper way. And then people wonder why I curse.

And so many times, we just come up on something that must be done — even now — and have no clue how to get to the place where we can even think about how to do it. Teaching the kids what we never learned has been fun, too.

Heck, even in my religion — and I taught it was a young woman — I keep coming across these massive gaps where no one ever taught me what to do or why. As for the education my kids got: pfui.

In the same way, I’ve spent most of my adult life learning history, grammar, natural science and the basics of things that I supposedly learned the advanced form for with my degree, but without anyone ever teaching me the fundamentals.

Kind of like part of my degree is the study of literature but until I read Dwight Swain Techniques of the Selling Writer I’d never realized that books are composed of conflict and reaction units. (No, not physical conflict, though heck, you could sell that.) Instead I tried to fit them into the structure of plays and wondered why it wasn’t working.

Because no one had ever taught me the basics. I mean, I knew how to do a lot of advanced things, even as a beginning writer. I just had no clue how to do the basic things. And it showed.

For four generations our culture and education has been in the hands of an unholy hybrid of Marxism and Rousseau’s Romanticism. (The two are related in that both believe that natural man left to his own devices creates paradise.)

I can understand how those scarred by the long war of the 20th century would decide that they were going to ditch all the evil bad things in civilization and let the children grow up “naturally” so they would be sweet and innocent angels. (Spit.) I understand but I don’t forgive. If they thought what they saw in the war was the result of Western Civilization, they’d never studied other civilizations or for that matter hid in a playground and watched the children be “natural.”

Then the cascade started. People who only half learned could only half teach. On top of which the doubts instilled in them about the purpose of civilization made them teach less than half. And the next generation knew less. And then less.

More than once, as an inquisitive student, I’d go to my teacher and ask why something worked the way it did or didn’t work the way they said, only to be given a glib explanation I knew was wrong. I must have been 11 the first time I realized the teacher had no more clue than I did. (This was a good thing. It set me on a path of researching and investigating on my own.)

By the time my kids were in school it had become more so, partly because to justify themselves, and abate the feeling they were incompetent, people derived entire theories on why they shouldn’t learn the basics, learning the basics was bad, and you could be so much better by learning naturally.

I don’t have enough words to revile the “immersion” method of language learning, particularly was applied in our schools. Yes, sure “but the military used it”– yeah, but the military could enforce LIVING in the language. It also — which seems to elude most people — does teach people grammar and vocabulary in formal classroom settings.

What they do with the kids–

You see, I grew up in a place where a lot of my ancestors had grown up. Which means I know the capabilities of the family. Look, yeah, there’s a range, and sure, there are sports (and even known sports. Like the things that come out of younger son’s mouth resemble my paternal grandfather’s malappropisms. In a family gifted in words, both of them can mangle the simplest sentence… but only in speaking. In writing they’re completely fluent. I’m sure there’s some short circuit in the skull. Just not sure where.) But my family, time out of mind, has been really good at a few things. Sure, medicine and engineering. (Though I think I rebelled, as did cousin who is a lawyer and cousin who is a psychologist) but at a more basic level, we’re all good at words and history. The rest varies, but those are common.

So I was mildly alarmed when older son, in third year of French knew not one word, couldn’t carry on a conversation, could only repeat memorized phrases in certain situations.

So I did a deep dive into HOW he’d been learning.

Just so you know, they were given magazines for French teens and encouraged to leaf through them. Oh, they were also taught songs and plays. Which they didn’t understand because nothing was ever translated.

And the “total immersion” was maybe an hour a day or less, after which they could go back to normal life.

Are there people who can learn like that? Probably. I suspect my brother could. But I couldn’t have. I know this for a fact, because it’s how they tried to teach me German. Eventually I repaired it and spoke fluently, but it didn’t stick. Because I never learned the basics well enough. I can sort of read in German (with a dictionary) but I wouldn’t attempt it for anything complex.

After smoke stopped coming out of the top of my head, I took a summer and taught him French. The way I learned it. Boring, painful, annoying, often stupid, but it worked. I.e. I gave him lists upon lists of vocabulary to memorize. I taught him grammar and sentence construction. Once he reached “can limp along” stage I handed him the Three Musketeers and a few french mysteries in the original language and a French/English dictionary. And I started speaking French with him whenever the two of us were alone. (Which got us some interesting looks in our little grocery store.) The next year, he had As in French, and at the end of the year he passed the IB exam for French which was scored in France.
I think as with German, because it was repair over a bad structure, it didn’t stick, and he doesn’t remember much. And it’s my fault because I didn’t realize it early enough.

Part of the unlearning are people who never learned enough to realize what works and what doesn’t trying to do things in ways that only work for a very few highly gifted individuals. That’s how we got whole word, new math, total immersion, whateverthehelltheyretryingnow all of which involved “less work for teachers” and the vague hope that unschooled children, or children who learned ‘naturally’ were just somehow ‘better.’

Kind of like what would happen if I decided my digit dyslexic, half-baked way with wood meant my making, say, a table that was lopsided and wobbly made the table better and more authentic.

The problem is that in lieu of teaching our kids history or civics, what works and what doesn’t, we let people so ignorant of how the world works that they don’t realize they’re teaching the kids the just-so story of classes and oppression which was never true like that anywhere, and the religion of “social justice” instead of the real mechanisms of history. Because they know no facts, and can’t reason, they pat themselves on the back and say they’re teaching the kids not things, but “how to think.” Except they’re not. What they’re teaching the kids is how NOT to think. They teach them that thinking “wrong” is a crime worse than murder, and therefore they can’t risk reasoning, because it might lead them to dissent from the group. And dissent from the group is the most terrible of crimes. (To be fair, this is an effect of mass-industrial-public-schooling.)

Their inability to teach, now forces them to declare the most basic tools of civilization racist and somehow oppressive. Because this is an excuse not to teach math or English. Which they can’t do because they never learned, and they’re not willing to do the work.

If you’re not alarmed by this, you might be a Marxist or a Rousseauan who believes that by unlearning everything, we will be like angels.

You might also be an idiot, who never had to deal with infants or toddlers, or in fact ignorant and half-savage people.

Honestly, I believe this is at the bottom of their sanctification of the Homeless, because by eschewing civilized life (not really, but that’s how it looks to the left. In fact the homeless are kind of like rats. Domesticated and destructive of the society upon which they feed) and destroying their reason with drugs, they are somehow superior to us, who are bound by civilization. This is why they want to inflict the homeless on every large city, creating danger and filthy conditions for people who live and work there. “Afflicting the comfortable” is supposed to make them change their ways and… I don’t know? Become homeless? As if there were some great happiness in that.

But those of us who live in the real world know that living in filth and decay is not paradise. For anyone. We know that our ancestors spent millenia creating a world that was good for humans. Which included domesticating themselves, both by selection and learning.

Those of us who lived under more primitive conditions have no desire to go back there. Nor do the idiots who are pushing us that way. They simply don’t know how to be civilized, and have decided to make a virtue of necessity.

This is going implode. And by this, I mean this shell of civilization and knowledge, and ability that surrounds us and protects us. Already, anyone in highly technical fields is being actively hindered from doing their jobs by “administrators” which is to say maleducated people who know only how to make rules about how others should do things. And since they know nothing real, those rules are often counterproductive.

Heck, even in my field — not highly technical, but specialized — editors and publishers seem convinced their job is to “teach” the public, instead of sell to the public. Partly because they have no clue HOW to sell to the public, and are in the fourth generation that lacks basic skills to do so. (Like being able to read for pleasure.) They have therefore laid down rules that make it harder to produce and publish enjoyable works.

But it’s everywhere. And in research? The time frame and conditions of the research often makes the results flawed or irreproducible.

Oh, and of course, hiring people by skin color or sexual orientation makes bridges fall.

Even teaching — My kids had two or three good teachers who had escaped somehow — is made impossible by rules and regulations that have nothing to do with teaching or learning. (So those good teachers left to work the private sector.) As for parenting– In most states the law forces you to be an helicopter parent. I lived in fear of my kids being called in when they took their walks half a mile away to buy hotdogs at six. Even though at six I’d ranged all over the village all day, and come dragging in for dinner at sunset.

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. And doing it well requires tools. Mental tools. Sure, you can do it upside down and sideways, with tools you found, but you still need to have tools.

In what comes after — and I’m suspecting/hoping it’s been somewhat postponed by the unlocking most places. People are so busy traveling and gathering they haven’t paid attention to politics. But it will come. The Junta will do something so egregious it will intrude on everyone’s notice — after the implosion/explosion that waits us, we need the tools to build.

Our kids certainly don’t have them.

Absent the tools they’ll default to “not fully civilized but trying” human method of governance, and really, I’m way too old to live under the divine right of kings.

If you have children, consider a reading program on western civ and particularly American history at whatever level they can handle.

Also, find the holes in your knowledge, and fix them. We live in a place and time where that’s easy.

Go back to the basics of civilization and acquire the tools. They won’t work very well, because acquired late, but it’s better than nothing. (Later, either after we move, or in a month or so, after house is ready to stage and we camp somewhere for a few months, in an apartment or something, I intend to re-learn Latin and Greek, which I taught myself poorly and late. At that time, we’ll set up a room where other people can come and walk along. We need that. A sort of free form academia, where some teach and some learn. I will, yes, in a month or two, set up to teach writing. Yes, I will charge, and I’m sorry. It is just what it is. One way or another, we’re going to need it. I’ll try not to do more than once or twice a month, or it eats the writing.)

It’s time to get the tools. To learn to do things. Whether those things are how to make clothes, or how to speak a foreign language, they might not save you much money or they might be totally impractical.

But you’ll be learning how to learn. Learning how to claw back a little bit of civilization, and basic knowledge. And then you should pass it on. By every way you can. Lest night fall forever.

Because 2000 years of civilization are a terrible thing to waste.

Go, learn, create and do. Be not afraid. You are not less nor less accomplished than your ancestors. You’ve simply been robbed of your heritage and given instead a pot of mess.

It’s time stop unmaking and start making. Start with the tools. Mental tools and habits will make the complex structures not easy but possible.

Go do it.

Have Fun While I’m Busy

I’m finally awake enough to work. About time.

So I’m going to try to work. It’s important.
Will do something more posty tomorrow.

And don’t tell me:

Because let’s face it, ya’ll are goofy.

To amuse you while mommy is working I’m not here, why don’t you hie over M. C. A. Hogarth’s post on how to write blurbs, and then write blurbs for the books below, which, yes, I totally made up (in a hurry, from Pixabay. With the fonts on the laptop). Make them interesting!


Oh, We’ll Certainly Go Aroving

This morning I woke up with a poem by Byron in my head. Which when recited aloud as my husband woke up caused him to say “That is not Shakespeare. Are you all right?”

Well, yeah, I think I’m all right. I just feel suddenly very old. But honestly, that might be me being mawkish because what we just did would have beat the living tar out of me even at 30. In fact, it did. And what I propose to do would have been insane, even then. And yet it must be done, and I am not willing to indulge my body in its crotchets.

To be clear, house-hunting is a difficult thing, and it tires you out beyond all reasonable expectation. (And I’m not even sure why, honestly.) I found out on our last bout that 3 houses wiped me out for a couple of days. No, I do not understand why. Yes, I’d be amenable to guesses or explanations. I’ve talked to other people and the tiring seems to be universal, but no one tells me why. House hunting after a couple of days drive, and then driving all over between far flung locations, and seeing a minimum of 5 houses a day while sleeping on a strange mattress was…. uh.

The weird thing is I didn’t feel the tiredness while it was happening. I realized I was tired on the way up. I was not doing my share of driving, because my glasses hadn’t come in, and seriously, my depth perception was terrible. So I had no idea where I was on the road. So, I’d planned to give a friend a detailed critique I’d promised her. And I found I couldn’t read or think, so I ended up working on a crochet curtain, which only involved counting.

Now we’re facing getting this house ready to go up by July 1st but realistically, more like June 20th. And there’s so much to do, and the last two days have been consumed with things like “Wow the house is a nineties time capsule and I never even thought about it, because, who cares, but…”

BUT I still have my real work to do, including the now overdue next Barbarella script. And during the drive up I finally figured out who done it in the cursed book, which is good, because I’d been interrupted so much I lost the thread, and you can’t do that in a mystery, even an sf one. So I need to close that off finally.

So, let’s say falling asleep on my face at around 12 pm is not helping. And then I turn mawkish and go “I am getting old”.

But again, I’m not even sure that’s true. You know, the last interstate move wiped me out for three months, and I was then but 30 years old.

Hey, at least now, I have a full grown son, for now still with us, who is willing to help with the massive task of culling, sorting and getting things painted and staged. For a change, this is the hyper organized son, so he has lists and is driving this. I am, as always, the creative and “let’s tell a story with staging” person.

Thinking about that there is a symmetry to this, under the idea (innate to all writers) that my life is a book the Author is writing. We lived in another state before having children, moved to Colorado to be parents and raise the boys. And we’re now moving away to the next phase of our lives. For now with a son, (We moved to CO with a son too) but expecting him to fly in free in tops three years (yes, there are reasons. No. No one’s business.)

And what comes next? Well, I know what my upbringing and culture tell me to expect next. I remember very quiet houses, where people slowly faded away, livened only by occasional visits from the outside.

I don’t think that’s what’s ahead for us.

Why not? Well, mostly because our work, what we are for isn’t done. And I’m not saying this because I feel we’re either of us terribly important, more like we always felt we were here to do some things. In my case, write books (the blog was mission creep. I don’t know why. But I was obviously given it as a task.) In Dan’s case writing and music, and who knows what the mission creep will be.

Well, with one thing and another, mostly two things — the sons — we have barely started. So we’re not going to hide in a corner and fade away.

Yes, I do realize that our vigor/health is likely to continue decaying, but I intend to walk a lot, and go back on the diet again, because this weight is not acceptable. And slow the decaying. At any rate, my health has always been such a mess that old age holds few terrors. And the auto-immune seems to slow down at low altitude.

Today it occurred to me that I don’t — literally — know what comes next on the personal end. Oh, we’ll have the kids. We intend to drive the (mumble) hours from the new place and kidnap son and dil for dinner once a month or so. And for now younger son is with us, but should he move away, we fully intend to inflict ourselves on him often enough to enjoy his company, while hopefully not making him feel he can’t fly free. And we have a ton of friends, but they’re on line, mostly.

I mean, we had a group of friends when we were childless, which faded away before we moved. Then we had friends as parents. Our group in Colorado has dwindled and our lives rarely allow us to see them.

Will there be friends in the new place? Or will we be the old people who die in the house and get eaten by cats without anyone knowing? Yes, that does worry me somewhat.

On the other hand–

On the other hand, for a little while at least, we’ll be the old people writing madly and (in my case. At least until husband has knee replacement which the lockdown stopped) taking walks all over, and driving off to explore little museums and such.

It’s a new beginning. A beginning for what I don’t know, but a new one.

Right now, I have a cursed book — and a script — to finish today. And then a lot of time of packing and culling and….

Oh, and Byron’s poem that started this is below, but read past it, because there’s something a lot of you need at the end.

So, we’ll go no more a roving
   So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
   And the moon be still as bright.

For the sword outwears its sheath,
   And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
   And love itself have rest.

Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we’ll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.

NOW ON A DIFFERENT NOTE, Y’ALL NEED THIS. DEAR LORD, Y’ALL NEED THIS.

M. C. A. Hogarth, a frequent commenter here, dropped something about how she loved blurbs, and I asked her for a guest post, because mine SUCK. And yours (I have read them on promo posts, remember?) might at times manage to be worse. Which is REALLY hard.

In fairness to all of us, traditional publishing is also horrendous at this.

Anyway, Jaguar (M. C. A. Hogarth) wrote me a guest post. Which made me realize how I’m even worse than I thought at blurbs. But also gave me hope, because she gives a formula, which makes it easier. I’ll confess my problems with blurbs come in part from dad’s family culture of “We’re too upscale to sell anything” and partly because it feels like bragging, which is a cardinal sin for the culture I was raised in.

Yes, I’m aware it’s stupid.

Anyway, I put the post in MGC where it’s center-mass for the readers, but I know many of you NEED THIS. So you should head over and do it.
And my task list just grew a “write new blurbs for everything.” subheading.

An excerpt below:

I love blurb writing.

I know, it sounds crazy. But blurbs, like movie trailers with those fantastic voiceovers, are a mini-genre of their own, one short enough that you can practice and improve quickly. The dividends of these efforts are great… a good blurb attracts the right kind of readers to your book (the primary reason, certainly). But learning to blurb also makes you sensitive to what makes your story special, and it’s fun… a chance to make your art sound as exciting to strangers as you feel it is to yourself. Since so many of you here are writers, I thought I’d offer some thoughts on how to tackle this marketing mini-genre.

GO READ THE WHOLE THING. GO. NOW.

Hobbles

I have talked before about how my parents were not well off when I was growing up. Though with them, it’s always hard to know where not well off ends and “must save because we both have major security issues” begins. But probably 50/50 on that, because even though I was born 10 years into their marriage, they got married young, neither of them had much, and they got married during an economic downturn where dad had trouble finding work, and mom had to do a lot of things like buy a knitting machine and knit sweaters from previously unraveled sweaters for local farmer families to survive. (She’s paying for that work now, as it more or less destroyed her shoulders. But we survived.)

So they were still really tight when I was little, and were saving and investing and slowly turning things around. By the late seventies they were doing okay.

Anyway, this is going to sound really weird to an American audience, but–

Portugal when I was a kid had a class system for education. I don’t mean as in school classes, I mean classes classes. If your parents could afford private school, you’d be going on to college unless you really, really, really screwed up. If you were in public school…. well, not so much.

This has all changed but back then there was only the public university which was “free” — the catch being if you had the grades to get in, you had the grades to get scholarships in the US back when scholarships were by merit. For my degree, which was not highly coveted, btw, the rate of applicants to those admitted was half of one percent. Things like medicine were tighter.

At various times grades, exams or a combination were used to get you through.

And along the way in the schooling there were various points at which you were shunted away from the college path as hopeless. The first was fourth grade, second was ninth, etc.

And yes, a lot of it was discrimination, and economic discrimination. Because the public schools didn’t teach, or not at the level you needed to get to college. If your parents weren’t wealthy enough to send you to private school but wanted you to succeed or even get to ninth grade, they hired “explainers” — aka tutors. Without those your chances were tiny.

Now, looking at it, you’ll go “Shouldn’t the schools be reformed?” Well, sure. But …. unions, etc. I know it’s different now, but I suspect it’s mostly lipstick on the porcine critter and the fact there are private colleges which offer a lot of …. more or less useless degrees. (A degree for everyone, seems to the the international version of a chicken in every pot.) Mind you I had some excellent teachers, who performed above and beyond the call of duty, and a number of them who are still on the little list — though they’re probably dead, the cowards.

One of those went on a rant to my 11th grade class (keep in mind not only had we gone through 3 cullings already, but that class was actually in an academic magnet school. Never mind) telling us we shouldn’t be there. If we wanted to go to college we should have been born to parents who could afford private school. The lot of us, the children of petit bourgeoisie should become cabinet makers and seamstresses (note the recommendation of professions that were, in the early eighties, being made obsolete by factory made, and you have the measure of this woman.

She was our socialist Sociology teacher, and yes, I hated her cordially and found ways to insult her that she never fully understood.

Yes, I made it to college. Yes, I completed my degree way faster than average (by about three years) and was if not top near the top of my class.

And do you know why? I did it because no one told me I lacked privilege and should be given special breaks, special considerations, and that the children who had been lucky enough to attend private school should be hobbled to give me an opportunity.

To be honest, I also did it because I lived in fear of what mom would do if I didn’t. It’s like, I’m not the fastest runner in the world, but if I were running from a man-eating tiger, I’d probably put on amazing speed.

Oh, my other bit of luck? I wasn’t a different “race” from the rest of the people. So my success or failure couldn’t be laid at the feet of privilege or racism. And I couldn’t have horrendous and unredeemed racists tell me that I was naturally inferior, and other people had to stop being competent so I could catch up.

At fifty eight, I know precisely what I am and what I am not, and the limits of my intellect as much as the limits of my body. I’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work because the couldn’t work because my mind shouldn’t bend that way.

And I know that the degree I got ultimately pushed into was entirely unsuited for the way my mind works. I am — despite all appearances — not good with languages. I am good with Portuguese and English. All the rest takes so much effort and maintenance that I let it rust away.

Honestly, I shouldn’t have entered college, much less graduated. But I worked unreasonable amounts of time, put forth more effort than anyone should, and…. well…. It worked.

Though at that age, I’d very likely have taken the “They shouldn’t be allowed to be better than you.” I’m glad no one offered it.

What I actually studied was much of a waste. I have worked a total of 2 years out of 35 in my actual field. And all the literature part of the studies did was make me have to unlearn a ton of idiocy before I could write saleable stuff.

But learning to learn; learning that I could succeed despite my natural (and social) disadvantages; learning habits of mind and of scheduling? That was invaluable. Without it, I certainly wouldn’t ever have been published, or persisted despite several boots to the face and kicks in the teeth all along. And that– that is invaluable.

This is brought to you this morning under the “I’m so tired of this sh*t” as some bright boy at some university has decided cycling is “racist”.

It brought to mind all the other insults, including that exhibit — where was it? In the Smithsonian? — about how punctuality, studiousness, effort, were all “white supremacy.”

And I’m soooooo tired of this sh*t.

If you had to come up with an idea/philosophy designed to put everyone not-white (meh, depending on the light and if I’ve been in the sun, most people assume I’m not white. Though I’m not that dark for Portuguese. Some of these dingbats only consider pale people “white” being as racist as Hitler. And yet, they also talk about whiteness of many colors, because being racists they can’t conceive of anyone who tans succeeding) in a place as second class citizens, convinced they can never succeed, convinced their ancestors have ALL been victims forever (and proud of it, which boggles the mind) and unable to help themselves, what would you do different from Critical Race Theory. And if you took CRT seriously, WHY wouldn’t you be a white supremacist, since whites are held to be the only ones who do anything useful? Or can do anything useful?

Mark my words if that evil philosophy is tolerated and taught, we’ll see real white supremacists in power and pogroms of anyone who can tan before the century is out.

But, more importantly, we will have destroyed the minds, the abilities, the lives of countless people who are deemed victims and in need of help simply because they don’t blister in the sun.

Well, you know, I never told that teacher, back in eleventh grade where she could put it, but I want to tell all the lefties who call themselves anti-racists while promoting myths of racial capabilities that would make Hitler cheer that they can put it where the sun don’t shine. With spikes. Covered in ghost pepper juice.

I guess when they said “they want to put you back in chains” the left was projecting as they do. And mental chains are the worst of all.

As for me and mine, and for everyone out there who is willing to live and die as free men (and no, we’re not playing that game anymore. Men in this case is gender neutral, for the whole of humanity), no, we are not going to let ourselves be limited by our economic situation, our lack of access to information, or — of all stupid things — our degree of tan.

We will reach as far as our minds and our ability to work will take us.

We’re casting off our shackles and flying free. Privilege? What privilege? No privilege has been invented that can’t be matched with the mind, the willingness to work, the sheer can-do of a free American of any color. We don’t want other people hobbled. We are removing our own shackles.

Anyone having a problem with that, please address themselves to my uplifted middle fingers. I’ll paint them red, white and blue for the occasion.

When the Bough Breaks

Most human beings run their lives to patterns and habits.

Which means most of society runs on habit too. Which is good, since then we know what to count on, and as we often say, humans mostly want tomorrow to be more or less what it is today.

Unless situation is well nigh unbearable, a large portion of the population will just want things to go on as they are right now. Or not too different.

The tragedy — and glory — of humans is that we dream of really big things, but in the end we settle for, to quote Terry Pratchett “An egg sandwich and hope it’s well done.”

The people who achieve big things are honestly a bit broken. Yeah, much is made in biographies and movies about how the great are really more unhappy than us, etc. That’s not always true. Might never be true. To be great, to achieve something, people need to get their fractures if not mended (most often mended is not possible) under control. Yeah, weirdness remains, sure, but whether they collect peach pits, or dye their cats pink, the high achievers are most often functional and even happy people. Perhaps not happy in terms that would work for you (but would anyone else’s happiness work for you?) but happy enough.

Being broken, whether through some horrible incident in childhood, as Freud would have us believe, or because their brain is quirky, is the reason they run a little faster, work a little harder, or persist beyond human limits. Or, of course, the reason they find the present unendurable and want a different future.

Even those people, though — I know a few — run on habits. Usually in fact, being more broken than average (we’re all somewhat broken, you know? I mean, no, it’s not just you) they need tighter and more exact habits than other people. It’s not quite wrong when the movies and books portray people who are driven, motivated and smart as running on very tight internal schedules. Partly because when you’re trying the unknown, you need the known.

Through some of the most difficult (though not always bad) times in my life, my routines ran like clockwork. Up at the same time, same thing for breakfast, go for walk, come back work till x time. Have lunch. Work till Y time. Tic Tic Tic.

Doing it that way freed my brains and emotions for the serious stuff, and left the day to run on wheels, no matter what wheels were coming off from my publishing, or whatever.

And then the bow breaks.

For me it was gradual, because it was a slow progression of an insidious illness (two actually) which attacks brain power.

I first noticed the habits coming unglued, then stopped being able to write much of anything longer than a blog post.

When you take in account that I can and have written a novel in two days, suddenly finding 4k words an immense weight to lift was an issue.

You can kind of see the worst of it if you go over my posts in 2014 and 2015. I do notice it when I’m looking for things to echo.

Sure my posts are always typo fests. Partly because they’re written around the “real” work day and either when I’m exhausted, or when I am still half asleep, depending.

But typo fests are one thing, and actual issues bringing the point home are another. Sometimes in the middle I just spin in circles. And sometimes I don’t know how you guys put up with it those years.

It’s been getting better since. It’s not…. Okay yet. Treatment for an illness started in 16 and in another finally clicked (though I was semi-treated) in 18.

I am told severe brain injury, which by that time I had, takes 7 years (at least. Sometimes more. In some ways younger son is NOW recovering from the issues he has had since 4 when he got major brain trauma. (Dancing. In socks. On the edge of the tub. No I don’t know why. Yes, I literally turned my head for a minute.) No idea why it took that long, and I doubt anyone else knows.)

So I am better. Not quite back to the state quasi-ante. (And the cursed book is a separate consideration.)

But what I realize, as I heal, is both what a mess it got to, and how much I relied on habits that got nuked from orbit. Like you know, get up at same time, have x for breakfast, sit down to work till y.

In all that the lockdown hasn’t helped.

Which brings us to the bigger point. (Because I’ve whined about my personal issues with establishing and re-learning habits.)

All of society’s habits got nuked. Some of them very long standing for many, many people. And expectations are all up in the air.

Honestly, beyond the fact — yes, fact, deal. we have proof in states and countries that never locked down — that it did nothing for the pandemic which was not that scary after all, the grandiose scheme of the would be elites to lock down all of society to prevent people from catching a virus, did damage at a level most people aren’t tuned to.

It nuked societal expectations at a very fundamental level. You know, stuff like “if I go into a store they will sell me stuff.” Or “If I run a restaurant, the government won’t shut me down unless I have serious issues with hygiene or I’m cooking the neighbor’s pets.” Or “I won’t be told I have to wear a mask of less than dubious medical value when it causes known issues with a condition I have.” Or “if I have the money, I’ll be able to fly where I want to.” Or….

Lots of things getting nuked, all at the same time.

This is the equivalent of taking a complex machine, and starting to remove pieces at random.

We don’t know what comes next. None of us knows what comes next. The scariness of 2020 is that it shouldn’t have happened. Logically it shouldn’t have happened. There is no sense in it. It should have been impossible. But it did. We lived through it. And we won’t soon forget.

Sure, some of the things coming out of it are good. I mean, people are starting to be as defiant of senseless orders as I am at my baseline. And the technology that allows us to work from home is finally being used, as the tyranny of “but we’ve always done it that way” comes to play.

However in individual lives as in society at large, when you break the habits you break the moorings, the things you can rely on.

And suddenly everything is adrift.

Talking to Bill Reader, who is contemplating a move of his own, yesterday, I defended the position that the housing “bubble” isn’t a bubble but an actual equalization of prices around the country. (And yes, eventually salaries will equalize too, but that’s slower.) At least for the people who suddenly can live anywhere they want to. (Look, the bubble was caused by mortgages being suddenly easier. This is not the case now, okay? Now it’s people moving around in ways they haven’t since the dustbowl years. Americans are engaged in great migrations. Some of them as erratic as a spider on acid. (And yes, I’m about to join that movement, which means for the next two months the blog will be erratic-ish on posting times, though I’ll try to stay on track.)

Where will that lead? I don’t know. No, it’s not just californication of innocent states (though likely it is for my current one, honest.) A lot of the people moving are not those who voted for the problems. And people moving are definitely in a substrata of maybe 20% (maybe as many as 30% if you extend some things) of the population. Unfortunately (?) they’re also usually the higher earning people, which means when they move a lot of jobs to service them — from restaurants to shops to quaint little ice cream parlors — are going to either shut or move. And how to move to a place with enough population density to pay is something else. As is what happens to the cities.

And all of this is happening while people who think the future has been revealed to them by the deranged prognostications of Karl Marx, who was out of date by the time he published, have seized control of our institutions and are trying to force us to fit the pattern in their heads.

It won’t work. And honestly total disrespect for the institutions and the “elite” commands are the best outcome of this. Not as good as we’d like it to be, because hell, society needs parameters and people it can trust. No, not as far as these bullshiters have been trusted, but minimally. And I don’t know if we’re left with even minimally when this is done.

So–

So, nothing. We don’t know. Society was hit with a hammer and the fragments will assemble in some way. If we’re lucky it won’t be into a machine that does nothing but produce ducks and cuckoo clocks while starving.

Most people want tomorrow to be more or less like today. And to have stability and certainty, and count on habits: theirs and others.

But that is not what we have. What we have is heading full speed ahead into the unknown, while the ship is captained by people who think they know what they’re doing, and aren’t even aware of the vast unknowns.

This is going to be fun. For values of fun.

Fortunately we can deal with it — right? — because when things get odd, the Odds turn pro.

Hold on to the sides of the boat.

Build under, build over, build around, because the structure is groaning and we have hurricane incoming.

Be not afraid.

Ça Ira!