Weeds and Flowers


This picture is from pixabay. Not an accurate representation of the stuff I was yanking up.

Sorry, guys.  Having younger son living with us for some weeks, and knowing time is limited, I’ve taken shameless advantage of his presence to do a bunch of things that have been waiting for year.  To wit, to cut back the bush in the yard that was taking over the flowerbeds, and also the garden which had been taken over by spiney weeds as tall as I.

Like a strand of intellectual-oriented people, the boys and I enjoy hard, violent work.  And perhaps because of that, we got carried away and stayed out there six hours, just about.  We probably have another couple of days work out there, together, and then I — on my own and slower — have to remove the weed prevention barrier from the flower beds, and redo it, since obviously it’s no longer working.

One of the surprises — remember when we moved here I was very ill and prednisone-depending to keep breathing, so yard work simply didn’t happen, and last year … well, I was still recovering — is that the previous owner had a rose garden back there  Which is great, as I was intending on establishing one.  I will still need to get some different varieties, since I presume what she has are heritage roses (a couple of them are, that still had flowers, one red, one pink.) because these roses escaped the choking by weeds by propagating, including a few volunteers on the lawn.  I’ll be moving those tomorrow.  I’m too tired to dig now.

Anyway, it’s going to take a full year, I think, to bring that yard back into proper shape, but at least we’ve made a start on the most violent phase, and I had the advantage of having someone much stronger than I swing the hatchet to bring the bush into compliance.

So, I’m so sorry I’m late. I was out there since 8 am.  And we’ve done about half the work we need to do.

Take it as a sign that I feel better.  At some point I’ll buy a couple more rose bushes, but I can’t plant till next month, so it can wait.

And now, I must turn to the neglected garden of my writing! In which many weeds have also grown.  But they will be conquered.

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. One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

WITH STORY BY PETER GRANT:  Terra Nova: The Wars of Liberation.


New stories set in Tom Kratman’s hard-hitting Carrera military sf series

“Send us your tired, your poor,” says the inscription at the base of the great statue, “your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

But the future of the colony planet, Terra Nova, and its relations with Old Earth is far more a case of boot out your tired, your poor, your dissidents and troublemakers. Use us for a dumping ground for all your problems. Go ahead and abandon these here. This may have been fine, too, but for the UN and its corrupt bureaucracy insisting on maintaining control and milking the new world and its settlers, willing and unwilling both, bone dry.

Contained herein are tales of the history of Mankind’s future first colony, from the first failed attempt at colonization, to the rise in crime, to the rise in terrorism, to its descent into widespread civil war and rebellion…and ultimately liberation. As with most of human history, this history is messy, with good men and women turning bad, bad men and women inadvertently doing good, and blood flowing in the streets.

Stories set in Tom Kratman’s Carrera series by
Kasey Ezell
Mike Massa
Rob Hampson
Chris Smith
Peter Grant
Chris Nutall
Justin Watson
Monalisa Foster
Alex Macris
Lawrence Railey
and Tom Kratman

FROM MACKEY CHANDLER:  April (April series Book 1).


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 JERRY BOYD:  Whammo Ranch (Bob and Nikki Book 2).


A saucer comes in damaged, with sick people aboard. A deadly plague threatens Earth. Can Bob and his crew save the day? Will Bob’s good nature cost him his life?
Julie’s boss wants to retire. Can she handle running the restaurant? Can Bob find her the help she needs?
Dee has come down with a terrible case of pedestrianism. Can Bob and the boys find the cure? Will she drive again?

FROM ARCHER GARRETT:  The Western Front – Part 1 of 3 (Western Front Series).


Darkness has descended upon the world; the fabric of society has been torn asunder, sovereign nations collapse under their own burdens, once stable governments are ushered into revolution and allies of old are thrust into war. The tentacles of darkness have inevitably traveled across the Atlantic and are now tightening their grip on the American republic.

Now, faced with a collapsing economy, a failing currency and a society that is swiftly casting its humanity aside, the United States stands at the precipice of a bedlam and malevolence not witnessed since the fall of Rome.

Part 1 follows several characters who strive to navigate the chaos, including:

Jake, his wife and brother are forced to flee the maelstorm of violence as it spills from the cities and into their small town enclave.

A Texas State Guardsmen deep behind enemy lines on South Padre Island, stands with his compatriots against a wave of unspeakable atrocities committed by a ruthless cartel alliance committed to seizing the spoils of the American southwest.

An outlaw and his Catahoula cur companion, learn to survive and even thrive in their river swamp domain as they seek a redoubt from the troubles that plague the world beyond.

A radical revolutionary intent on plunging the wounded nation into revolution as he stokes the flames of hatred and destruction.

FROM JERRY STRATTON:  42 Astoundingly Useful Scripts and Automations for the Macintosh.


Forty-two astoundingly useful scripts and automations for your Macintosh. Work faster and more reliably. Use Perl, Python, AppleScript, Swift, and Automator to automate the drudgery of computer use. Work on the command line, add actions to the services menu and the menu bar, and create drag-and-drop apps for your own custom workflow.



Having dropped an alien-contact anthropologist on a newly discovered inhabited planet to establish a relationship with the aliens, starship *Richard M. Nixon* and its crew returns two years later on a trade mission. The corporations of the Tripartisan Economic Combine are eager to buy the aliens’ epoxy glue, which is among the best ever seen in known space. Vincent Icehall, the starship’s young shuttle pilot, has little to do during the mission but hang out with what he assumes is the alien community’s jester and village idiot. Icehall can’t pronounce the alien’s name and dubs him “Turkey,” but slowly begins to realize that Turkey is anything but. Ignoring all of Turkey’s warnings for the crew to leave the planet immediately, Icehall stumbles on a plot by the anthropologist and the aliens’ chieftain to steal the Nixon’s shuttle for use as a weapon of war.

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:WIDE EYED





Sorry to only get to this now. Woke up very early to deal with front yard. If it were simple mowing would have kicked son who is staying with us for three weeks awake and gotten him to do it, but there was weeding and stuff that needed done.

It was a singularly unproductive morning as all I did was the front yard.  Never mind. More tomorrow.

Then there was laundry sorting to do which is done on my bed, and therefore must be done within 24 hours of changing the bedspread, because otherwise all the clean clothes acquire a thin patina of Greebo fur.

And no, Greebo isn’t happy with me. He’s been patiently herding me office-ward all morning and I keep escaping to do these things that mustn’t be necessary, since I don’t do them every day.

And in case you wonder why I’m giving you the “deeds of the day”.  My grandmother used to relate everything she’d done every day when anyone showed up.  As a kid I remember thinking it was a peculiar habit. I still think it’s a peculiar habit, but when I was “just” a housewife and aspiring writer, I’d find myself doing the same thing to anyone who showed up, or to Dan when he came home from work, so I finally understood why she did it.

Housework is such a peculiar conjunction of small and frankly boring tasks and things that become undone as soon as you do them, that it’s astonishing how the time flies by and you look around and go “Where the heck did the morning/afternoon/evening go?” And nothing to show for it. So you list it to reassure yourself, to tell yourself you’re wroth something, and not just frittering away your life in useless stuff every day, stuff no one notices.

Because that’s the other peculiar thing of housework: no one notices it until it’s not done.  I think the first time my husband realized the particular load of work I was lifting was when I was very ill with pneumonia 23 years ago.  Because I was in the hospital for two weeks, even though we had babysitters at home looking after the boys, who did things like feed the kids and do the dishes, he saw how all the other stuff went to hell on a slow schedule, and realized the amount of things I did every day.  Since when he has not said anything about “you’re home all day, couldn’t you do x?”

Now he is home a lot of the time, he gets a worried expression as I get up from the desk to go put a load of laundry in, or whatever.  I know he thinks I could fly a lot higher/faster without that particular burden.  And I get it. Truly, I do. He used to suggest I get someone to do things (before aforementioned series of … unfortunate events) but my problem (back then) is that I am one of those people who cleans for the cleaning lady, and then after the cleaning lady.  In the times I’ve had cleaners (mostly due to being ill) I’ve had ONE who cleaned better than I (and did it all with then one-year-old Marshall on her hip.)

My daughter in law says she tries to do something everyday that won’t be undone in a week.  I’ve been trying to adopt the same habit, with the something everyday more often than not being something.  The something lately is mostly short stories, because I’d made a lot of commitments before the year went crazy.  I found I’d done 45k words of various things in the last week.  Now it’s time to turn my attention to novels, because short stories are nice (and honestly mostly I do them for people I like, though none of them has failed to pay me at least what they’d pay in traditional publishing, but they’re piddly payments, not nearly enough to pick up from the series of unfortunate incidents earlier this year.  So.

So, novels it will be.  First I finish Deep Pink. (The next one is already loud and it starts with “I owed a favor to the Loch Ness Monster.”  It will probably be called “Dark Beer.”  Maybe.  Anyway…. I need to finish it, then swing on to Alien Curse.  I figured I had the wrong main protag, so it was like trying to wrench something into position, which didn’t want to fit. Former main protag to become infuriating love interest.  Some words salvaged. Not sure how many yet.

After that it’s A Well Inlaid Death (Dyce Dare) and Witch’s Daughter (Witchfinder) and Blood Royale (Vampire Musketeers.)  In between there will be a shortish novel called Another Rhodes which is a mystery with a cyborg detective in the far future.  My plan is to interlard (totally a thing) Rhodes and Magis in between the heftier works.  Though why I’m calling Dyce hefty, heaven only knows.

Other things are planned, including alternate history.  Let me see how far I can run, and if the health thing is permanently on the mend, and keep me in your prayers in that regard.  My goal is to fill up your to-be-read lists and drive you a little insane(r).

Which is the other reason I bring up the unending list of household chores.

Look, they have to be done. And I’m faster and more adept at them than Dan, who at any rate has a full time job and MUST find time to write, but we’re not sure where.  It’s just that right now I can’t even consider hiring someone, even if I’d settle for someone who dusts and vacuums only.  And the only way to change that is to write like a demon.

So I list the deeds of day mostly in frustration, because I was not at the keyboard producing words and making Greebo happy.

This too shall pass.  Like a hurricane or perhaps a kidney stone, but it shall pass.

Until then, I just have to write.  Which is what I’ll be doing after I publish this and until Hun’s dinner (at place we had Hunsgiving, probably now about 10 years back?) at 4:30 or 5 or thereabouts.  And for those who checked their calendar, no, it is not in fact the first Saturday of the month.

Having dealt with moving son in temporarily and having our life turned upside down three days before Saturday, we were — Dan and I — blissfully unaware what day of the month it was.  Curiously we felt there was something we should be doing, so we went to the botanic gardens to see the sunset. But we never remembered it was our day for dinner with the fans.

And yes, I know, politics is crazy right now, but honestly, I’m trying to stay away from the blogs and get paying work done (which requires fortitude like you wouldn’t believe, my being a political junky.  But I think in terms of my addiction, politics increasingly are like bad drugs.  I think these are cut with muriatic acid and sooner or later will eat all our faces. So I’m trying to discipline myself to only check them in the evening.  I can’t tell you how hard this is on a nervous system trained to “you have to check, to know if you’re going to run into a mess on your way out and/or they’re coming for you.”

But if I go check politics, nothing will get done. And it must get done.

Anyway. So. I go write now.  I have three and a half hours to lay down words, with brief interruptions for laundry.

I don’t even have pictures

I’m sorry, guys, I’m exhausted.  I don’t even have pictures of the signings, because they’re on Dan’s phone.

Though P. Wendell attended, and I finally got to throw fish at a bunch of you IN PERSON. (YAY, go me.)

Just tired.  Sorry.  I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what to put on the blog, and I haven’t managed it.  So this is what you get:

It was fun. There were a bunch of you there, but more at Colorado Springs.  We signed a ton of books. There was Wendell and Moose and Squirrel and David sang (very well) and Larry talked and (particularly last night) I blathered.  Greebo came up (as a topic. I did not bring him up. I could see Havey loving it, but not Greebo. He’s an introvert.)

I’ll post pictures when Dan gets home from work.

Right now I’m going to shower and write.

Oh, this is what I’m working on right now (for those who say this on Facebook Diner:yes, his last name changed, because I just wasn’t relating to him.  Which is a weird reason to change a character’s name, but it’s part of how I work. Took me forever to get Kyrie’s name right, for ex, and couldn’t write her till it was.  Seamus McDonald would do fine for a short story, but not for a novel.) :


Deep Pink

Sarah A. Hoyt


Many people have told me to go to hell. Happens to all PIs I guess. And being a PI named Seamus – Seamus Magis, at your service — it was inevitable.

But I never thought I’d have to go. Certainly not in pursuit of a case.

How it started was like this: My friend Rod Rando is the manager for a lot of metal bands. Well known properties, like Goat Eternity and Bestial Cadaver and Edge of Skulls.

He’d done great out of it. Like, he’d married a bunch of models, one after the other, and his alimony bills were epic, but with all that he still had his offices in the penthouse of this steel and glass high rise downtown, a place so clean you could lick the floor and probably emerge in better health and so classy that if you put Marx inside it, he’d have melted to a little puddle of goo on the floor.

Honest, I felt out of place just going in, in my jeans and T-shirt.

Oh, sure, Rando also wore jeans and t-shirts, but his were DESIGNER, carefully torn and scuffed. I mean, someone had made six figures just figuring out where to rip that denim, or where to put the stain on his shirt so it looked like someone had stepped on it.

He’d called me in because starting about two years ago he’d noticed some of his bands, the ones who had been the most serious about their satanic symbols and altars and rituals and what not… changing style.

Look, it wasn’t so much that they changed, though sure, that would be bad enough. When you’re administering a multi-million dollar talent, you get a little scared by change. Who knows if the fans will like it?

And this change was really weird.  Suddenly these supposedly dark, satanic artists were wearing all pink, their music sounded disturbingly like K-Pop, and instead of the horns, they made heart signs with their hands. And one of them, the Filthy Blood Whores had changed their name to Pink Fluffy Kittens and wore pink cat ear headbands.

Their fans had no idea what to make of it, but my friend did. “Someone is giving them drugs,” he said.  “And it must be some good shit, because it’s spreading from band to band.”

“I mean, when Satan’s Handmaidens sang Pretty Pink Bubbles at their concert, the fans stormed the stage in fury and put them in the hospital. It’s that bad. And yet it keeps spreading. Even though the new style bands are tanking, others keep changing to imitate them. And then they also don’t sell for shit. I can’t afford this.”

He raked his hand backward across his unkempt, thinning but long hair. It was like the less hair he had on top, the more he let it grow, till now the stringy ends brushed the middle of his back.

“Leb, I need help.”

Sigh.  Okay, okay. So my name is Seamus Lebanon Magis.  Are you happy? Stop laughing. I was named after my mom. I should just be grateful they hadn’t given me her full name: Cedar of Lebanon Magis.  Rod is one of the few people who even knows my full name, and… other things, so of course I said, “I’ll help if I can. I just don’t see what I can do.”

“It has to be drugs.”

“You mean they weren’t on drugs before?” I asked. If I sounded skeptical, it was because I’d heard some of their acts.

“Oh, hell no. I don’t mean that. I mean, actually mostly they prefer alcohol, but sometimes, you know, some uppers, some downers, some ayahuasca… Thing is, I get those drugs and pass them to the guys, to make sure they’re clean. I monitor the alcohol they get, too. I make sure it’s nothing that will fry their brains.”

“I didn’t just hear that.”

“Whatever. You can’t let your bread and butter go to seed. But this shit… whatever it is… This is some crazy shit. I mean, hell, I didn’t even know Choke Slave could sing falsetto.” He dropped onto his custom made ergonomic chair and put his feet on his blue glass desk big enough and probably sturdy enough to park a mac truck on. “I want you to find the people responsible and stop this shit.”

That was obviously my cue.

Which is how I found myself in the apartment of on Albert Schneider, Aka Thrall of Darkness, Aka Pink Plush Sorbet on a hungover Saturday morning.

Okay, so, just so you get the problem, his apartment looked like a Disney princess had exploded all over it. Nah, make that a set of Disney princesses. There had to be a lot of them for all that pink, glitter, frills and lace to have gone everywhere.  Like, there was glitter on the ceiling.

And then there were stuffed animals. Kittens and puppies, mostly, with big, round glass eyes.

In a corner, a figure of Hello Kitty had pink scented candles lit in front of it. If it weren’t for the sheer oddity, I’d think it was an altar.

Albert was on the wrong side of thirty, and I’d bet if he hadn’t dyed his hair flat black, he’d have been mostly white haired.  He was long haired, long bearded, with braided beard, and incongruous fake glittery-pink eyelashes.  He wore a sort of pink jumpsuit thing, with a silver glitter belt. For some reason it just made his mean, hard eyes look harder and meaner.  He glared at me. “What the hell do you mean am I gay?”

I looked around the apartment.

He made a suggestion that would require my breaking my spine, or possibly bilocating.

“Fuck man,” He added. “I’m just what I’ve always been. A servant of the dark.”

“The dark …. pink?” I asked.

He shook his head. The glare was hard enough to cut but there was something else behind it, something stark and cold.  Fear? “New management, man. New management.”

“What do you mean new management?  Rando has said–”

He looked at me as though I were too stupid to live.  “Not Rando. Rando is… nobody in this.  Oh, sure,” he waved it all away.  “He’s an okay agent, okay?  But this is The Management,” he said. “Down below.”

From somewhere – I’ll swear – came the sound of tut-tut uttered in a girlish voice, and Schneider shook and went pale.  “I’ve already said too much, man. The new management is ruthless. They ain’t got no sense of humor. None whatsoever.”

I was about to tell him devils never had any humor, when it occurred to me this grown man wearing bright pink, and lighting candles to Hello Kitty was dead serious.  He really thought that something or someone would punish him for talking out of turn.  Which means he really had thought he was serving Satan or something.  “Are you for real?” I asked. “Do you mean to tell me that Sat—”

“Peggy,” he said. Fear flared behind his eyes like neon. “Just call him Peggy.”

His voice had a note of hysteria. I couldn’t get him to make any more sense and was starting to incline to the “weird drug hypothesis.”

But the next morning Albert Schneider, Aka Thrall of Darkness, Aka Pink Plush Sorbet was found in his apartment with his throat cut and something carved on his forehead that looked suspiciously like cat ears.


Odds and Radical Losers – a blast from the past from November 2013

*Sorry this is so late. I was moving furniture because it needed to be done this morning.  I’ll be at the signing at the Citadel Barnes and Noble in Colorado Springs this evening. – SAH*

Odds and Radical Losers – a blast from the past from November 2013

I first heard mention of Radical Losers when Gabby Giffords was shot.  I no longer remember where I heard it, and I have this feeling that there was an article/book by that title, but it’s late on Sunday and I’m too lazy to look for it.

Anyway, the original article was ranting about how when these shootings happen everyone looks for the least likely person (and for this, as a mystery writer, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa) but in fact, nine times out of ten, the culprit is a “radical loser” – someone so far out of touch with reality they couldn’t find it with a seeing eye dog and a cane, someone who has a Satanist temple with a real human skull in their backyard, someone who has fallen so far into a dream that “What’s the frequency Kenneth” has a meaning to them, someone who – in fact – would shock normal people and make them run away in terror.

They’re also usually people that have failed at everything, people who have trouble coping with the every day reality of being human and making human compromises.

I think the radical in the article referred to something else – to radicalization or “extreme” views.  It is of course very easy for people to get “radicalized” when they don’t fit in anywhere.  This accounts for why, if you polled the science fiction community Lenin might be too right wing.  (There is another effect there, the tendency of outcasts to form their own dogmatic communities that enforce weirdness, and also the pathetic attempt to out-cool the main stream, since left is perceived as cool they try to be “even more left.”)

But let’s leave that aside for a moment.

Every time I hear of one of these incidents, I cringe, and I think “One of ours, who went too far.”  “One of ours, who stepped out in the dark and lost his way.”

Here’s the thing with us – for lack of a better word – Odds: we don’t fit in even if we try to.

I don’t even quite know how to define us.  It’s not even a matter of intelligence.  Yes a lot of “odds” are intelligent or brilliant, but it’s also often in a rather specialized, narrow front, almost bordering on the idiot savant (myself, for instance, I write) but they could pose for the “absent minded genius” in most other fields.

I’m fairly functional, but I have friends who should get help to cross the street and who, really, really really (it’s on my list if I ever win the lottery) need a housekeeper.  As is, I could truly use a secretary/assistant.  (Stupid lottery, keeps drawing the wrong numbers.)

A lot of us, but not all – younger son and I don’t – have trouble reading people, and could if you squinted be considered to be on the autistic spectrum.  A lot of us are on the autistic spectrum.  And a lot of us have learned to cope with it so that no one would tell.

But it’s not true.  People can tell.  We can for instance.  Let’s go with Science Fiction, which is a good bet as a repository of “odds”.  I no longer remember when or where, but it was one of my first World Fantasy cons – we left out of a fairly large airport, and most of the flights headed any distance left a few hours after the con ended.  So we trickled in by ones, by twos, by masses, and mingled with large groups of “normal”.  There were, of course, some tells that didn’t need thinking about. A lot of us were wearing fannish t-shirts (me.  I never wear t-shirts for cons, except at liberty con or for the travel.  I try to be professional.  [Liberty is exempt because Liberty is family.]) or carrying sf/f books.  But there was the usual complement of editors who probably think they’re normal and certainly try to appear it in skirt suits and such.

We were in a relatively central area and this was pre-kindle.  I didn’t have anything to do but people-watch.

After a while I realized I could tell “our people” – and I would keep an eye on them till a “tell” emerged, like pulling out the latest sf/f novel, or talking to one of the con attendees and hailing him as an old acquaintance.

I was always right.  It wasn’t a 90% thing, which would already be impressive.  Even for the well-dressed and the aloof, I was always right.

Now if you asked me why I could not tell you.  I could tell you we hold ourselves differently, we walk differently and the way we pause to look at things is different too, but I couldn’t describe it.

I might be taking Dave Freer’s name in vain, but I have a vague memory that in one of our late night conversations years ago (we stopped them as we got old 😛  I actually think they were early morning conversations for him, they were very late night for me) we discussed social species and particularly the other great apes species.  If I’m remembering Dave right and not confusing him with something I read somewhere, he said that in all species that like ours are social, with a bit of learning and mimicry thrown in, most of the apes (eh) attune themselves to the group and “are like the group.”  There are ways of being fully integrated in the group, ways of following the leader, and most apes fall effortlessly into it.

But there is also a percentage – a tiny percentage to be sure – who are outliers.  Some radically out of step and out of norm.  Some subversively so.

I don’t think any of it is as bad as the pink monkey where its mates tore it limb from limb.  I think there is some aggression always towards outliers but outlier behavior is tolerated in some measure.  (The measure will vary with stress put on the group.)

I think that’s what we odds are.  We’re that minuscule percentage of outliers.  Yes, there are probably more of us than the usual ape – or hominid – band.  More on that later.

We can tell each other without being sure how, and other people sure can tell we’re odds.  Children are always better at discovering this, and most of us were probably more unguarded as children too.

Most of us had no idea we were odd or we stuck out until we hit elementary.  I know I didn’t. It was a combination, I think, of the family itself being on the odd spectrum and of my assuming my family members were a little weird.  So, no one out there would find anything strange about me, right?

Wrong.  In my case, I seem to elicit reactions of the love/hate type.  People either love me or they hate me, with nothing in between.  In elementary this often took the form of trying to bully me.  I have no idea what would have happened if I were bully-able.  I wasn’t.  So the result is that often hate turned to love, and I became a leader of sorts.  (As I said, unable to play sports – my coordination took a while to kick in, a result, probably of being very premature at birth – or the stupid elastic jumping game, I invented games for the school to play at recess.  In retrospect, I “invented” LARP games: Robin Hood, The Three Musketeers, WWII spies [ don’t even ask.  That one I wrote characters for.])  By fourth grade, everyone in that school played my games, and the lower classes missed us horribly when we moved on.

But in middle school, in a larger area and with no recess long enough to allow me to influence others, I just became a loner.  I had this game of walking around and around the playground on this little ledge.  Later, I’d just stay in the classroom and read or write stories.

I have talked with enough of my friends – and my husband – to find most of us had that reaction.  It was strange to find ourselves the butt of antagonism, to find that the rest of people weren’t in fact like us.

Those little shocks sometimes hit even today.  (“What do you mean you haven’t read a book since high school?  How is that even possible?”)

By high school I’d learned to masquerade well enough.  I wasn’t popular, exactly, but I had tons of acquaintances and a few really close friends.  And by college I’d learned to go totally submarine, and I was one of the glitzy and glamorous.

But I never forgot.  Somewhere, deep inside me, there’s still that little girl who walked round and round the playground, feeling excluded from everything and everyone else.

I don’t say this to elicit pity.  And I don’t think there’s much you can do about it, certainly not officially.

I say this because that little girl deep inside me still influences the things I do and the things I choose.  We all know about the nature and nurture thing, right?

Someone here – I think he’s the new incarnation of someone whose IP changes a lot – was trying to bait me (eh – I’d rise to the bait quicker if I weren’t feeling so out of it due to the flu)  — by asking me to write about how women shouldn’t work.  I think he miss typed.  I think he meant why women shouldn’t vote, because immediately after he went on this tirade on how all women are collectivists…

He’s wrong of course.  Women right now are collectivists, because they’re told that’s what they should be.  And most humans are really good at following those cues, except for the few radical outliers.  Women have had it dinged into their heads that they’re a discriminated against class.  Their entire learning of history from day one has been on how women were treated badly throughout history.  And of course, they’re told men did this and would do it again given a choice (and not that men and women are both captive of biology and before the pill neither had a choice.)  So most women believe that they need the state to protect them from the evil men.  It’s what they were taught.

The little lonely girl inside never believed this – partly because if they tell you, it’s probably bs.  These rules, these ideas are for normals.  They miss us like so many other things do.

Of course, the way to correct that is not to take women’s vote away, but to stop teaching women (and men too, while we’re at it) Bog STUPID Marxist Crap.

Because the state can’t protect women and will in fact happily collaborate in their enslavement – see, most Muslim states.

Odds should have the advantage there.  As I said, most of us realize that most of what we’re fed is pablum.  But not all of us.  There is the other force that acts on Odds – the desperate need to fit in, to be “cool.”

This leads into the extreme left odds.  At some internal, aching level, they want the state to make everyone love them.

Perhaps I was blessed with teachers who tended to pile on with the other kids rather than intervene.  Blessed?  Yes, because it’s always what a powerful state will do.

The business of the state is to enforce order.  Order and power over the masses are in the best interests of any state.  The more powerful the state, the less it will have a warm place for odds.  You might think, if you’re a radical, oh, Stalinist, that since every one of them you know is an odd, then if you were in power, Odds would be in power.

It’s never like that.  Even those odds who achieve power tend to enforce the “normal”.  The normal might be twisty and ridiculous, but it’s still herd behavior.

Take for instance the French revolution.  I was recently reading the biographies of the principals and all of them, from Robespierre to Danton, were clearly radical odds.  So once they took hold, the revolution came up with some spectacularly ODD ideas (changing month names, for instance.)  But in the end, at the heart of it, what they were trying to enforce was conformity.

Do I know what to do about it?  Oh, hell no.  I know how I dealt with my odd children, fortifying them before they entered school, explaining the low-value of social conformity and how it’s possible to fake it better when you’re old, and that being an outcast in elementary doesn’t blight anyone’s life (unless you let it.)  It seems to have worked.

And it’s all we have.  That and explaining that the “cool cult of the week” if it achieved power would turn on them as much as the current status quo, if not more.  And explaining that bringing society down would be worse, because societies under stress are less tolerant of us outliers.

And then you have to work the fine line between explaining they’re different and getting them to understand other people are still human, just differently wired – if you don’t want to create misanthropes.

This is all I’ve come up with and all I’ve managed.  It might have been/be easier to be an odd in a time with no strict normality-enforcing schools – and as such we can hope to be headed there.

Because here’s the thing – what the internet has already done is allow more of us odds to find each other.  To the extent this is a genetic component – and I think it is.  It tends to run in families, like other genetically-undefinable characteristics – it means more of us outliers will marry each other and produce uber-outliers.  To the extent it is an environmental component, it allows us to meet – in the science fiction community, among others – and reduce the tight control on ourselves, and be odder.

So there will be more of us in the future.  We’re not in the old society where an odd might find MAYBE another one in the entirety of his life and probably not of an age to marry/be friends.

And odds can get very odd.  They can become “radical losers” – rejected by school and family and their community, if they never stumble onto a reasonable enough and accepting enough community – they can, singly or in groups come up with totally twisty ideas of reality and fall off the edge, becoming mass murderers or worse (yes, Karl Marx was probably a radical loser.)

Since this community tends to be odd enough all I can say is ‘teach your children well’ and hope for a less conformist upbringing for your grandchildren – which of course means making sure we don’t lose the prosperity and security we enjoy.  Societies under stress are always more conformists.

The odds are quite literally the salt of the earth – not in the sense it’s used normally, but in the sense of a small minority that makes the whole thing work.  We’re the innovators, the ones who strike out in different directions.  We’re also the ones who point and say the emperor is naked.  There is a reason that the ape bands tolerate some odds.  We are the brakes, the valve, the safety mechanism.

Will there being more of us cause a problem?  Maybe.  I think not.  I think as a whole we’ll leaven society towards more individualistic, but we’ll still be a social species, and it’s impossible for the majority not to want to fit in.

But – absent guidance and comfort – that means we’ll also have more of those that fall off the ledge and become killers or bizarre philosophers.  And that we don’t need.

Work to keep us prosperous, safe and tolerant.  And teach your odd children well.

But Then That Must Mean


Humans are addicted to story.  Now, it’s probably worse in our time, because there’s SO MUCH OF IT.

If you want to, between the news, songs,  books in various forms (for instance, I have a current audio book at all times, because that’s what I WALK to.), movies and TV series, you can spend your entire day with your head full of stories.

This is arguably even more so, if your job is to produce stories.  Often, while in the car going somewhere, I find myself going “So, his ultimate motivation for doing this, is what?” and trying to figure out how to fit all the pieces of the puzzle in my character’s story.

Part of this is just being human though.  The human mind MIGHT be the best instrument for creating logical narrative out of reality.

The problem is that reality isn’t logical. Also that our vision of it is limited/enhanced by what we see.

In fact, when you start getting one of those flashes of inspiration in which you see the whole of life, and it’s all connected and you go “Oh, but then, I must be/do–” you’re probably wrong. If you go with it, you’ve also probably lost your mind.

Look, when I started out as a writer my mentors told me above all I should avoid making up stories about my profession/life.

Took me a while to understand what they meant.  No, I mean, quite a while. Because it’s absolutely normal for humans to try to figure why people around them act the way they do.  And of course, the way most of publishing acts is HIGHLY irrational.  (No, seriously. They have all these shibboleths and go through trends, because they can’t figure out what sells.  (Partly ideological blinds, partly just… they screw with the numbers, then drink their own ink.)

But they were right, you can’t make up stories about why things are happening, because when you’re a newby you’ll a) be wrong b) sometimes get bit in the butt by your assumptions.

I’ve known people who assumed, say, they were never going to sell again, and therefore went out and sold to a tiny press, which in turn — such were the works of trad pub back when — gave them bad numbers on the computer, which in turn meant their big publisher never bought them again.

And I’ve lost count of the number of friends (well, I still consider them friends. How they view me is nothing to do with me. Or probably them. Just narrative in their heads.) who think I somehow told publishing houses to stop publishing them. (When, for the record, I was actually working really hard to try to get the houses to publish them. It’s just that, also for the record, I never had that kind of influence, one way or another.)

Makes perfect sense when at least their reported numbers were three times mine, and yet the house dumped them and continued publishing me.  And no, I have no explanation for it, either. ALL I KNOW is two things:

It wasn’t me.

Publishers make decisions that make no sense all the time.

But of course, that’s the problem when things make no sense. When you’re only being given part of the story, or a completely false one (All publishing houses treat writers like mushrooms. Which by itself is an incentive to indie.) and you know it, the tendency is to try to make up a logical explanation for things.

This is becoming more and more a problem as our news media is completely, blatantly and unreliable (to be fair they probably always were, but now we have other sources of information. RAH said he’d never been present at any event that was correctly reported in the media. My experience is the same. And sometime ask Dave Freer about “police in South Africa are sending attack dogs against protesters.” Because the story is a good example of things I’ve lived through and how they were reported in international media.) and we’ve also stopped trusting institutions like the FBI.

I’ll note in passing that for that sort of institution ONE slip up that’s found out will destroy everyone’s confidence in everything you’ve ever done and said. And it will take years to build up again. No, seriously. In a way it’s unfair, but then again it’s not. Because you’re either incorruptible, or you’re corrupt. Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but mistakes need to be admitted to and publicly cleaned up. Caesar’s wife and all that.

So this brings us back to what people are doing, since nobody knows anything and all information is corrupt, and that amounts to: making up Stories.  Some of them very convincing stories, unless you have information to the contrary or start to poke holes in them. I’m prone to them, now and then, until I pull back and get a reality check and make sure it doesn’t bounce.

What is the problem with making stories?

Well, one of them eventually wins and has nothing to do with reality.  Particularly in disturbed times — oh, hello 2019/2020! — it’s very easy for the most poisonous, the most emotionally satisfying “just so” story to take hold. One that makes you feel good and superior and not only absolves you of all guilt, but also gives you an extra pat on the back, either for being smart, or good, or simply being one of the “chosen” to follow the CORRECT path to the future.

We’re seeing a version of this on the left, which now equates anyone non-Marxist with white supremacist. (Literally. There was an idiot accusing me of that yesterday.) If you say you’re a patriot, they say you’re a white supremacist, because what you really MEAN is “white America, the way it used to be.” Which means they either don’t know history or think you don’t. And their story is so compelling, partly because it absolves them for allegiance to what they are increasingly realizing is a cray and destructive ideology (trust me, most of them do) because it’s the least of two evils. They don’t want to be white supremacists, after all. Because that’s literally Hitler.

And the more they convince themselves of this insanity, the more they say things like we should all be in camps.  And they do it with complete and absolute refusal to see they’ve become the Nazis who want full government control so they can put people in camps.

The problem is that people horrified by this might simply turn the narrative around. Not even that difficult, since there’s a lot of racism in leftist projection and white knighting. In a way the left is already creating white supremacists, because kids who don’t know any better know the left wants to kill them, and turns it around.

But it can and does get worse. We are in troubling, confusing times. It’s easier to blame someone than to fight to keep the constitutional republic.

The traditional scapegoat of cultures in crisis is the Jews.  We’re already seeing that on the left, whose ghost dance is turning more and more anti-semitic.

On the right the groping for a theory by and large is tending more to the “there is a lot going on we don’t hear about.” Which is absolutely true. But is also a narrative looking for a scapegoat.

By all means, hold the left to their acts and words. They’re damning enough. But don’t make up stories. And above all don’t buy their stories.

The stakes are very high, and if you create a narrative — like with socialism — it becomes remarkably hard to escape.

If you find yourself haunting websites for weird coincidences, remember reality is choc full of them (to the point sometimes one wonders if there’s really only 100 real people in the world and the rest are NPCs. Which is a story you should at all costs avoid believing in), life is full of them. Sometimes they’re only “coincidences” because of your peculiar pov.

For instance, there was a Sarah A. Hoyt in the springs, 28 years ago who looked so much like me people who knew us confused us. And her son, Robert, was a class before mine in school. Worse, she and her husband (Dan) moved ahead of us from North Carolina, staying at the same hotels, with their son and their cat. I never asked if the cat was Pete, because seriously, but I wouldn’t even be surprised if he were.

Does this mean anything? Probably not. I’d have to know the full statistical distribution of Sarahs, Dans, Roberts and how many people were moving from NC to Colorado at that time.

More importantly, one freakish factor — the hotels we stayed in — is mitigated by the fact that we chose the only hotels within a day-ish of driving that took pets. Which meant usually one hotel per location. So, since they were traveling with a cat…

If you find yourself perusing coincidences, I say, realize they happen all the time in reality. It’s in novels that they’re forbidden (and even then only if they HELP your character.)

If you find yourself reading the other person’s mind.  As in, thinking “I love American” means “white America” realize you’re not psychic. Those thoughts in your head? they’re yours. Examine why you want to believe this, and what purpose it’s serving FOR YOU. Because your mind is the only one you can read.

If you find yourself concocting a story where everything fits “just so” beware it’s a lie. In reality things never fit that well. Mostly because you’re going to find yourself in situations where you can’t READ why someone did something.  You can make inferences. And sometimes you’ll be right, but if it involves something complex, like financial or political chicanery, or traditional publishing, or even job politics, you’re probably wrong. You’re certainly wrong if it all makes perfect sense, because PEOPLE don’t.  For instance, they’re quite able to forego profit to gratify their personal grudge against someone who never actually meant them any harm. They will toss friendships because they “know” their friend (who has no such power) is “working against them.” Etc, etc, etc.
Reality isn’t RATIONAL. Only fiction is.
And reality is never ever ever SEAMLESS. The smartest people are dumb as rocks sometimes.  And dumb people have flashes of brilliance. Friendships break, and enemies sometimes work together.

And if you find yourself thinking of any large group working in concert over centuries — the Templars! The Illuminati! The brotherhood of Mong! or worse Jews! Men! White People! — it’s time to step away and get a reality check.

The left has managed to have people going sort-ish the same way for 100 years, mostly by making their philosophy “what any smart person believes.”  And even then their “distributed conspiracy” is all thumbs. Without the press covering up for them, it would have fallen apart long ago. (And the press is  a small and hierarchical community. All you need to capture is a few dozen who all know each other/are friends and the rest will ape them.)

In fact, it IS falling apart, which is part of the reason cracks in the facade are appearing, making people feel uncertain and create narratives.

Keep your sanity. Keep in touch with reality.

We’re going to need both, to get out of this mess with a Republic, if we can keep it.



Release Day

Sorry this is so late. I woke up to this picture making the rounds of facebook:


Followed by this:


Which I’m not even absolutely sure WHAT if anything it means.

Anyway, so yeah, it’s release day for this:

Monster Hunter Guardian (Monster Hunters International Book 7)




When Owen Pitt and the rest of the Monster Hunter International crew are called away to mount a month’s-long rescue mission in a monster-infested nightmare dimension, Julie Shackleford—Owen’s wife and descendant of MHI founder Bubba Shackleford—is left behind. Her task: hold down the fort and take care of her new baby son Ray. Julie’s devoted to the little guy, but the slow pace of office work and maternity leave are starting to get to her. But when a routine field call brings her face-to-face with an unspeakable evil calling itself Brother Death, she’ll get more excitement than she ever hoped for.

Julie is the Guardian of a powerful ancient artifact known as the Kamaresh Yar, and Brother Death wants it. In the wrong hands, it could destroy reality as we know it. Julie would die before giving it up.

Then Ray goes missing, taken by Brother Death. The price for his safe return: the Kamaresh Yar. If Julie doesn’t hand over the artifact it means death—or worse—for baby Ray. With no other choice left to her, Julie agrees to Brother Death’s demands. But when you’re dealing with an ancient evil, the devil is in the details.

To reclaim her son, Julie Shackleford will have to fight her way through necromantic death cults, child-stealing monsters, and worse. And she’ll have to do it all before Brother Death can unleash the Kamaresh Yar.

It’s one woman against an army of monsters. But Julie Shackleford is no ordinary woman—she’s one tough mother!

And for those who read that and want to read something of mine — many of whom are stumbling around in the dark and buying things like Ill Met by Moonlight then saying they don’t like my fiction.  If you liked Monster Hunter Guardian, you should probably check out

Darkship Thieves



Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space. Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods. Never wanted to visit Circum Terra. Never had any interest in finding out the truth about the DarkShips. You always get what you don’t ask for. Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room. In a short time, after taking out the stranger—who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help. But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime—if she managed to survive . . . .

Yes, I know “but that’s science fiction.”  Yeah, but the touch-feel of it and the action and plotting is more like MHI than other stuff I’ve written.  (Not all of it, just the reverted novels that are up there.)

In fact, it was reading this book that led Bridget to recommend me to her husband as someone who could do Julie.  So… Probably a good bet.

Also, please be aware the series is five books.  For reasons known only to Baen, they have refused to add the last book to the series listing.  Amazon, after my losing months in this allowed me add it to the PRINT book series, but not to the kindle.  No, I have no idea why, in both cases. But, anyway, it’s a five book series. The last (missing) book is Darkship Revenge. You’ll find a link on the right side and up.

And now, hoping you guys forgive me the blatant promo, I have — when don’t I? — an overdue short story.  And I need to finish a novel, so I can put SOMETHING out this month.

Until then, I leave you with this imperative:


The Coming Debtpocalypse


Yes, there are other things to talk about, and we will talk about them, including “Nobody knows anything” part the third or fourth, or whatever the heck it is.

But my son belongs to a group of young people who chat online. And I realized, with a startle, that while these people — thirties and twenties — are completely inured to “the world is going to end in twelve years” because they’ve been hearing it since elementary school, they believe they’re in for another type of apocalypse.

It was when one of my son’s friends said something on line about how the debt apocalypse was going to kill her soon, in the same day my son had spent half an hour natering at me about how soon all our budget would go to service our debt, that I realized they’ve been feeding each other tales of “apocalypse now..”

For all I know their group is not unusual for smarter kids in our nation. Which would explain what Victory girls said is The Rise Of Joker Terrorism.

Look, kids run about ten years behind us. That’s how good life has been. Humans need a certain amount of hardship to grow and learn, and even my kids — and we tried to pile responsibilities on them as soon as they could handle them — run 5 to 10 years behind us, depending on the area.  More in some.  I don’t expect they’d be comfortable taking night trains all over Europe with their back pack to places they’d never been. But then again, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it now, trains having become in general uncomfortable to me.

Hormonal insanity actually runs through mid twenties in most boys. Heck, I remember when it turned off. I was 23. I felt the switch go off, as it were, and suddenly there wasn’t a mad squirrel in the back of my mind. (In retrospect, I think adult hormone levels kept my ADD controllable, because menopause seems to have sent it spinning again, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

The point is, people who are hormonally insane, are coming of age in an economy that yeah, is starting to move, but in the Obama years, when there were no jobs, most of them accumulated more credentials and consequent debt than any of us had at their ages. And they have to find jobs that pay enough for that. And they don’t see a pathway to get to where we are.

Meanwhile, hiring has become exponentially crazier.  No, seriously. Not only have most companies acquired HRs but they’re processing things via computer. People are now supposed to put in “keywords” to get hired. No, seriously. I can’t even come up with keywords for my books, much less for myself. If I were looking for work now (and it might, G-d knows, come to that) despite all my qualifications and work ethic, that would be an insurmountable barrier. Kid isn’t doing much better than I. Nor are his friends. I would say “I don’t know what the companies are up to” but of course I do. Most people I know, including Dan’s current job, are hired through word of mouth recommendation.  This is useful because then people have some assurance the, say, newly hired engineer can at least read and write, given “nobody knows anything” (or trusts anyone else. And that too is a post for another day. In the name of being “non-discriminatory” we’ve made all credentials valueless.) And if it fails, well, there’s always HB1 visas.

Thing is we didn’t know.  I’m still appalled “How we got so far so quick.” And we can’t have been the only ones who didn’t know.

Societies have workarounds for these things. In Europe you stay in the professions where your family has contacts, precisely because of this. Yeah, sure, it prevents upward mobility, but your kid won’t spend 6 years unemployed, as my brother did, when he didn’t know anyone in electrical engineering.  If we’d had an inkling, I’d have apprenticed the elder, while advising him to get something quick that pays at least something (probably paramedic training, since he’s been fascinated by human biology since he knew it existed) till he established himself. And Dan would have apprenticed the younger.

We didn’t know. We can’t be the only ones.

So there are a bunch of young people, having trouble finding jobs commensurate with their training, or in the areas they worked very hard to work in. That’s before you get into the lies, like “if you have an English degree people will make you an executive.” Yes, I’ve been reading those articles for 30 years, implying that knowing a lot about your native language and a ton of shibboleths about political correctness is somehow valuable for business. (I guess all these people end up in HR, explaining a lot.) I’m here to tell you it’s a lie. My degree translates closest to that (with translation training and a lot of other stuff thrown in) and there are no jobs except what would have been — 50 years ago — a high-school graduate’s ladder of beginner job that proves you’re actually good for something. By which I mean, yep, retail, or barista, or, in an office, receptionist. Which is fine, if you didn’t pay for a Masters. (I didn’t. And no, it wasn’t free college for all, but it’s too complex to get into.)

Anyway, so you have these kids running around.  They are full of the hormonal insanity that makes it necessary for things to happen NOW.  (Probably an evolutionary mechanism that makes you succeed while you have the strength to work insanely.)  And even if they find something, and are making money — guys, married couples will be piling two and three to an apartment now, because they can’t afford to rent alone, let alone buy — they don’t see a pathway to their parents’ standard of living, with the monkey of student loans on their backs.

Of course they believe apocalyptic theories.  Climate change. Illuminati conspiracy bullcrap.  And apparently, for the more discriminating set, debtpocalypse.

It ties in well with their lack of experience and the “everything must happen/will happen now.”

And is it any surprise the more unstable take to mass murder? What shocks me is that there aren’t more of them. (And no, it’s not guns. Trust me on this, there are other ways to commit mass murder.)

This reminds me of exam week in 9th grade, approaching the exams that would determine whether we went to college or professional training, or were done with formal schooling.  People were jumping down from the fourth floor in the stairwell. People were throwing themselves under trains. And all of them left “manifestos.”  And yes, people were putting bombs in schools. Fortunately not COMPETENT people, so none of them went off.

Same sort of thing.

Well, I can’t speak to eco-pocalypse, except to tell you I wouldn’t pay it too much attention. There are places you can find reliable information that aren’t panic mongers, but this is not the point of this post.  I’ll just say this: when I was your age we were all going to freeze to death. By 1990 we were supposed to be in the middle of another ice age.  Because pollution. And the solution for it was more government control and giving up fossil fuels.

Then it changed on a dime to “we’re all going to burn to death” but the reasons and solutions were the same. (And that’s when I stopped subscribing to Scientific American.)

That the horizon is always 10 to 12 years means it’s someone trying to stampede you. You can’t always know all the scientific stuff they bring up to achieve this (though at this point I know a lot of scientists, so I CAN, at least second hand) but if you just assume something with a 10 to 12 year horizon of “we’re all gonna die” is bullshit and it’s either someone telling lies/exaggerating for the frisson of it, or dishonest politicians (but I repeat myself) trying to stampede you, you won’t go far wrong.

I can’t answer to the Illuminati, the Templars, or any other kind of shadowy organization.  I’m SURE there are no shadowy conspiracies going back hundreds or (dear Lord) thousands of years. I’m sure of it for the simple reason that human institutions aren’t that good at staying the same, let alone staying the same AND SECRET. Look at the Roman Catholic Church, history of, for elucidation.  Or heck, our constitutional republic.

There are piddly “conspiracies” like the Journolist crap. But mostly the left has a lot of people going the same way having been brainwashed not even into the principles of the left, but into believing that being leftist is a positional good. I.e. that “wearing” leftism makes them smarter, kinder, and probably gives them a better complexion. (IOW, it’s #metoo all the way down, on every subject, which is hilarious when they idolize the image of rebels [But actually hate any real rebels, like all good boys and girls do.])

Now the debt-pocalypse.

My guess on why this snares the smartest ones, is that no one talks about it in public (though there’s a congressman trying to.)

And like the idiots on the left — Hello, Occasional Cortex! — they have only a vague understanding of how money works. I mean, on a macro scale.

The left thinks money comes from the excretory organs of government (and they’re not all wrong) and that it can be printed infinitely with no consequences (they are wrong there, but they don’t know how or why.)  And the right thinks “OMG, debt is mounting, we’re all going to die.”

I’m not sure about the exact mechanism of that death, but Weimar Republic is mentioned everywhere, as is the “the EBT cards will stop working and the hordes of inner city dispossessed will take over the country side” which is bullshit and an actual version of racist panic on the right. (Look, guys, the dependent hordes will trash their neighborhoods. That’s what they do. And someone will come and feed them. Because that’s what Americans do. And they won’t be grateful at all, until they figure out unlike welfare, it won’t last forever and comes with standards. Different standards.)  There are other things like “Government will shut down.” (if only) and undefined “there will be war.”

I’m still at a loss for how that group translated to “we’re all gonna die screaming.” Except that they have no experience of instability and financial disaster. I understand that. Most Americans don’t. Stagnaflation is the worst thing Americans in my generation experienced.

And how money works in a fiat currency makes no sense to anyone. (Because it makes no sense, which, yes, means there’s a reckoning coming.) And our debt TRULY is out of control. (Which is another issue.)

Well, pull up a rock and make yourselves comfortable. What if the economy crashes?  What if our money is worth nothing? What if? Are things I can answer to.  You see, I come from a Mediterranean country (not in geography, but in culture.) Which means I’m used to governments that run their purses like high school kids with an unending spending account and addicted to meth.

I’ve seen crashes. I’ve heard of crashes from grandma. NONE OF THEM KILLED A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE POPULATION.

I won’t say it didn’t kill any. Unemployment, despair and lack of medical care kill people.  but I’ll say you don’t die screaming that way. Hell, we have so much accumulated wealth it will get uncomfortable, but that’s about it. About like the economy under Obama. (And please, media, telling us we’ve been in an expansion since 09? Maybe you fool yourselves, but the rest of us cut back and cut back and cut back until 17. And we haven’t recovered fully yet.)

Okay, first of all let me talk about fiat currency.

I don’t understand it. No one does.  I’m not a gold bug, but “this is money because the government says so” sits about as well as you’d imagine with me, because “government” and “having power over every trade in this nation” doesn’t sit well with me.

Plus I first came to the US (for a year. I went back) during stagnaflation and I lived through the Obama years. I know what the government running the printing presses overtime does to an economy. It devalues saving. It makes any forward planning unstable.  But, oh, yeah, it DOES put money in the pockets of the very rich. Which I’d guess is what matters, because every politician ends up knowing a lot of very rich people (like every SF writer ends up knowing a ton of scientists.)

Also fiat currency was introduced PRECISELY to let the government have power over money. (Yeah, I know, Gold was limiting expansion or some similar nonsense. But no. Like all currency-voodoo attempted to end depressions or recessions, it wasn’t fiat currency that ended the Great Depression. It was FDR getting so interested by WWII that he took his hands off  from around the economy’s neck and stopped trying to strangle it.)

Anyway, the problem is that we handed government a blank check, with what they believe is an ever-refilling account.  And they’ve been out of control ever since.

Yeah, Trump might not think the debt is a problem. But let’s face it, even if he lies awake nights, staring at the ceiling, (and btw knowing the debt MUST be curbed before money is valueless MIGHT be one of his incentives to have run for president. Who knows?) he couldn’t do anything different. He just couldn’t. What is he going to do? Stop social security? Not only would that give UNENDING footage of starving grandmas for the dem’s campaign, but it would also cause real starvation. I know seniors dependent on it for survival.

What else would you want him to stop? The military budget isn’t that much. And we can’t afford to cut it, as you’ll see later on.

Almost everything else is either photogenic, or the left will tie it to things like social security if he cuts money. Remember the ass-clowns obeying Obama’s orders to make the shutdown painful to tourists in monuments and landmarks?  And the problem is while they hold the media, and a portion of (older) people get their news that way, what else can the president do?

He can’t even tell the truth: that a very significant portion of our welfare money goes to illegal immigrants (it’s true. I know health care workers, teachers and social workers of various kinds) without it lending itself to “racist” panics on the left.

So, yeah, national debt is out of control.

And it’s fiat currency, which ultimately means “full faith and credit of the US government.”  Which I’d guess is smaller every day.

But here’s the thing the rest of you aren’t thinking about: the rest of the world is in as bad or worse shape.  China is all smoke and mirrors. Yes, they’ve made a bid to become the world’s reserve currency. The fact it failed tells you even Europeans aren’t that crazy.  As for Europe, ah! They’ve been turning the Southern European countries into touristic paradises, while the northern European countries finance the whole thing. There is no room there for real growth. It’s all selling each other rocks and paying in sand. Even before the Northern European countries brought in a hostile and welfare-dependent population.

So, who else has full faith and credit? more than the US?

No one. It’s all that scene in Independence day where everyone goes “it’s about time the Americans did something.”

They won’t say out loud, of course. In the rest of the world it’s a positional good to look down on America, and hate America. But internally, they’re all holding their breaths, hoping we pull it off.

The fact that there’s no one else to take this burden, is why we’ve been allowed to run on crazy debt this far.  Because, where are they going to go?

Sure, we have sold a bunch of LAND to China and given a bunch of things as “security.” But if you think China is going to invade to claim it, you are out of your mind. Remember what I said above about not shorting the military? The US still can outshoot everyone in the world. Probably en masse. No one will touch us. Also, honestly,China has other problems, including most of their economy being smoke and mirrors.

And there’s only two ways out of that debt.  Three, if you want to be technical.

1- Expand so much that your tax intake dwarfs the debt.
I think this is what Trump is trying. First of all, because it’s what a company would do and that’s where his experience is.  Second because it’s the least painful one.  It’s not good, though, because it keeps feeding the beast. And even if we manage this (it would take a miracle, but it’s technically possible) it just means government will expand to consume it.

Is it doable? It is, barely.  I think that’s part of the tariff thing, trying to force industry back into the US.  Why? Because the only way we survive this is to have the ability to make pretty much everything we need.

Because I think China crashes first.

BUT keep in mind that while this is barely possible, it might NOT be possible in a republic with stupid-ass regulations about minimum ages and maximum work hours, and other such.  Automation would have to get REALLY good to get us out of this IN TIME without getting rid of a lot of crap regulations.

AND we need some kind of killer-innovation.  Now the US throws those out so regularly you could be forgiven for counting on them, but it’s not guaranteed.

Status, iffy.

2- inflate the debt out of existence.  This is what Carter tried. This is what I’ve lived through SEVERAL times.  This is why until recently ALL of my birth family’s investments were in land and houses, though the return sucks. My guess is if we elect a democrat that’s where we’re going next. It won’t be pretty. And yep, seniors and people in my age group most affected, because we don’t have the time to recover.

Which brings us to “it’s going to be Weimar! We’re all going to die.”

Kids, please.  Weimar came about because Germany had lost a war. They weren’t allowed to expand their economy. They couldn’t. For one, they’d never got that — then vital — warm water port. And England had taken all the markets for industrial production.  And they had creditors who demanded payment NOW for WWI destruction (which was unfair, yes.)

So, Germany did the only thing it could. It shot its way out of the problem. (Repulsive ideology not necessary, but included.)  AFTER trying inflation.  Inflation, ultimately immiserates the population. Also, if we start inflating, we’re going to make the rest of the world hell.

Will it work? Probably. But it will work at the cost of throwing us into Obama years plus. And destroying the rest of the world that has been trading with dollars.  Which will probably mean WWIII.

In the end we survive. We won’t be the same, but we survive. The problem is evil ideologies often come along for the ride on this one.  And that the same people who want to inflate our currency out of value will also demand we feed the world.  The backlash on that will be… spectacular, and probably the worst of the possible outcomes.

Most people still won’t die of it. Private charity will operate. One or two generations will live very tightly but not as tightly as our 19th century ancestors did.

“We’ll be poor” is not the same as “we’ll die.”

And much as I don’t want to spend my elderly years in horrible poverty, hell, I’ve seen people live in it in the village. And some found meaning and beauty in it.

3- We default.  We straight up tell the world “Come and take it.”

No, not good. As above, the world is thrown into turmoil. They die in vast numbers.  A world war will ensue. Yeah, nuclear weapons, but we’ve learned they’re not as terrible as we were told throughout the cold war.

Yes, the most people die under this scenario. And the world that emerges is very different.

The US has the biggest army. We have the wealthiest population. Most of the people will survive, particularly the young ones.

They’ll just eat live frogs. Metaphorically. But it probably won’t be any worse than the WWI generation, or the WWII generation.

And people who believe in our founding ideals will have to work like hell to make sure we’re still a constitutional republic at the end.

The thing is, that third scenario is ALMOST unimaginable. Almost. Because if it were going to happen, it would already have happened.

So, why hasn’t it happened.  Because the other countries can’t AFFORD to collect from us. Because they know how it will end.

In fact, our debtpocalypse is holding a gun to THE WORLD’S head.

Until and unless a stable regime with strong economics (which would mean non-Marxist, which would mean it’s almost impossible, since everyone educated in the last 50 years has absorbed Marxism through their skin) exists that can take the weight of the world’s fiat?  No one is going to try to collect our debt.

Like the first one, this means it’s very bad for us.

Which brings us to: What can’t go on, won’t.

And this won’t go on.  And yes, the end crash could come quickly, but my guess is it will be 20 or 30 years, meaning most of the working life of young people now.

Or we could get in a 2008 situation by October next year. And then get the democrats in trying voodoo sh*t.

It doesn’t matter. EVEN IN THE WORST POSSIBLE SITUATION, most of the US will survive.  It will suck for older people, but the young… well, will have to be poor.

Most of them are actually not the pampered snow flakes people think they are. They’ll adapt. They’ll grow. And yeah, their kids (poisonous feminism will shed off, with other luxuries) will be stronger.  And if some of us keep the faith, it’s possible the Republic will return.

Not guaranteed, no. Nothing is guaranteed.

If I had to guess, if it comes early, before 20 or 30 years, it will be the 2008 crisis writ large.  And again, it will hurt the rest of the world worse than it hurts us.

And part of it will just facilitate the transition AWAY from the mass-production era, to the individual-production era.

No matter how we get out of it.

Yeah, the transition period will suck. But we’re Americans. We survive.

It will particularly suck if you’re dependent on government/big corporation services or employment.

So, now is the time. Build under, build over, build around.  Get ready to take care of yourself and others when it crashes.

And don’t lose sight of the fact change doesn’t mean “the end of everything.”  Poor isn’t the same as dead. And creativity, independence and preparedness pay off.

Just in case money isn’t worth much, acquire as diverse a set of skills as you can, the sort that are always needed.

And be not afraid.  In the end we win, they lose.

Yeah, some people will die, screaming.  Let’s make it neither a majority nor even a significant portion.

We can.




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. One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM JERRY BOYDBob’s Saucer Repair (Bob and Nikki Book 1).


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

FROM ALMA BOYKIN:  Distinctly Familiar: Familiar Tales Book Six.


Temptation lurks in marshes between the land and the sea…

Lelia and Tay discover a new puzzle…

Fundraising collides with a spell gone awry…

A mage discovers the impossibility of arguing with almost two-thousand-pounds of Familiar…

There’s something distinctly familiar, and Familiar, about these urban fantasy short stories, set in a world like our own, almost.

Short stories, 46,000 words.

FROM PETER GRANT:  Taghri’s Prize.


Taghri has left the Sultan’s army to seek his fortune – and he seizes opportunity when it knocks. In the confusion of a pirate raid on a trading caravan, he kills their leader and captures their ship. The vessel is now his prize of war… but some prizes may be more trouble than they’re worth!

Nestled among the gold coins in the captain’s cabin is a stolen Temple sacrificial knife, whose Goddess is now paying close attention – too close! – to its new owner. Among the slaves he’s freed is a princess, formerly being held for ransom, who comes with political and personal intrigues all her own. Even if he survives the attention of both, there’s also a pirate lord out there, hell-bent on avenging the death of his son.

It’s going to take all of Taghri’s skill, experience and cunning to survive winning this prize!


FROM SAM SCHALL:  Betrayal from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 5.


War is never clean. Honor doesn’t always win out. Betrayal becomes the shadow currency that can tip the balance of power.

Colonel Ashlyn Shaw learned those lessons the hard way. Five years ago, she lost her command and her freedom because of the machinations of those willing to betray Fuercon, the homeworld they’d sworn to protect. Supposed allies conspired with enemies. Now Fuercon and its allied systems face a war on multiple fronts.

A war where the enemy doesn’t want a diplomatic solution. One where the enemy claims victory based on the number of civilian deaths.

This is not a war of attrition. It is a war of survival.

It is also a war Ashlyn and her allies have every intention of winning. But to do so, they must first unravel the layers of a conspiracy that goes much deeper than any of them suspect.

Honor and duty. Death before dishonor.


FROM MACKEY CHANDLER:   Friends in the Stars (Family Law Book 5).


It’s hard living next to a giant, even a friendly one, much less a clumsy hostile giant. Earth’s unfriendly billions were an unpredictably restive presence. The Kingdom of Central was on the Moon, and the three allied habitats of Home were already forced to move from Low Earth Orbit to beyond the Moon, dancing around a common center in a halo orbit. That bought them some time, but wasn’t nearly far enough away. The Spacers knew it would come to a bad end. The only question was how, when, and would they survive it? The only refuge was in the stars where they had friends.

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: beam

Scylla and Charabydis


I’ve been feeling a bit pessimistic for the last 48 hours or so.

The thing is, I feel pessimistic in a way that no one else seems to be, or not really.

Here’s the thing: as amusing as the Dem debates and the antics of the congress critters are, they’ve been terrifying me.

It’s not even that we have people who openly advocate an ideology that killed over 100 million in the 20th  century. No. That’s horrible, but it’s also understandable as both the result of spectacularly biased education, and the fact that Soviet agit prop lives on in our self-proclaimed elite.

The problem is more subtle.  It’s not just that these people love socialism. Technically, socialism is survivable. The hard kind you tend to have to shoot your way out of, the soft kind… Well, a lot of Europe is starting to wake up and back off.

The problem is that these people HATE America. Not just feel embarrassed for being American, like most idiots have since the country was founded.  No. They hate us and want to make us disappear, from our much-maligned constitution to our flag, to our very idea of ourselves as a nation.

Now, I’ve known this for a long time of the lefties in my circles. The times after 9/11 were very hard on them, because flags to them are like a cross to a vampire. And no, I can’t explain it, but they flinch from flags in the exact same way, immediately and irrationally.  And they had their own, bizarre version of history in which the US was the worst ever country.

But I didn’t know it was that widespread and everywhere, and now they’re not even afraid to proclaim it, as though they think it is perfectly normal to want to destroy the country that gave you everything and made you everything you are. As though they think something perfect will automagically emerge once they tear the country to pieces.

This is terrifying me, because a party in that state, with most of its people as declared enemies of the land they seek to govern, cannot be allowed anywhere near power.

Meanwhile, apparently, a lot of republicans in the house and senate are retiring, which means a lot of opportunities for the left to seize seats, particularly given unlimited opportunities for fraud.

I guess that’s the other thing that’s scaring me: the amount of fraud in the mid terms surpassed anything seen before in this great land. From counting the votes till you get the results you want, to keeping polls open for days after the election, till the leftist wins.

We can’t afford this.

And it’s not that I expect the leftists to take over and start setting up death camps. It might happen, of course. Not putting it past them.

But I think in the US they’re still a minority, perhaps even a small minority (hence their need for all the fraud) and if they try that, they’re defeatable.

What I’m afraid of is their “Tax everyone to death and open the borders while introducing crazy legislation that stops the economy cold” plans.

What I am afraid of is California, in fact.

Look, there are still sane people in California. Perhaps even a majority of them. But we’ll never know, between illegals voting, and fraud, massive, spectacular amounts of fraud.  The people who remain sane have no voice. But things aren’t quite bad enough for them to revolt. Not yet. And by the time they are, people will have forgotten or been told it was all different, and not realize the cause of their problems.

I think that’s why the left makes war on history so much.

They say how California goes, so goes America, and I pray very hard that this time that’s wrong.

So… about war abroad.

Oh, yeah, I do agree that if we’re going to fight abroad we should fight short wars with maximum firepower, enough to be left alone and otherwise leave it.

I’ve read too much history to think the Middle East CAN be rebuilt. And our nation rebuilding efforts seem to have given us a bunch of frenemies in Europe.  And what it did to Japan is give it “conquered culture syndrome” in which they just stopped reproducing.  Now, the rape of Nanking and all that, maybe that is the best option in an imprefect and horrible word.  BUT the point remains that cultures are not as easy to rebuild, to make anew as we thought in the 20th century.  Our thinking they were was to be fair part of the same idiocy the communists suffered from, where they thought that humanity itself could be rebuilt.

I do agree that it’s dangerous to ignore a culture/movement that is at war with us. If we want more 9/11s, we’ll get more 9/11s.

However in the scale of things, is it more important to police the external threats or in the internal ones?

For almost a hundred years, we’ve been the world’s policeman, or perhaps the world’s daddy, swatting bottoms and wiping noses and feeding the hungry.

There’s nothing wrong with this, intrinsically, except maybe for loss of treasure at home, which could have better been employed in going to space.  Then again, space should not be a government venture, and as for our “War on poverty”, we shouldn’t throw more money at it. Because the more money we throw at it, the more poverty and helplessness win.  Speaking of cultures.  (It’s time to take charity out of government hands, too.)

What is wrong is that while defending ourselves from threats or potential threats abroad, we allowed the crazy, vilely anti-American left to propagate at home, to take over our schools, to install itself in our universities, to become a positional good so that our millionaires and billionaires all talk about what a terrible place America is (So terrible that most of the world is trying to come in. And these idiots support the world’s right to invade us.)

The president, such as he is, not the president we wanted but perhaps the one we needed, is making decisions on who to fight and how.

Thing is, I can’t see a way to fight both the culture war and the external war at the same time. I can’t see a way to ignore one without the other being critical.

Which one is most important?

On my gut, I’d say the inner one. You cannot win anything — or even survive — when at least a quarter (very well positioned) and maybe (but unlikely. They wouldn’t need that much fraud) half of your population is working towards the active destruction of the country.

But supposing we manage not to let the crazy people take more leadership positions than they already have — despite amazing amounts of fraud, which they’re sure to engage in — for another four or even eight years, will the external enemies leave us alone that long?  And if they do, how big the butcher’s bill when they manage to get to us again?

I don’t know. Neither do you. Honestly, I doubt the president knows, though he has more information than we do.  But he does have more information than we do. And maybe a gut feeling. Which might even play out.

What I know is that up ahead there is a narrow, tight passage and that we’ll need not just all our work, all our devotion, but also a lot of luck to make it through without either a major war, a civil war, a change in the nature of who we are, or losing what America is altogether.

Of course the odds have always been against us, and yet we trundle on. We are a high-improbability country.

Doesn’t mean it will be easy.  Or that we know how things should be done to get us through.

I used to want to make all kinds of decisions, when I was young. At 56, I know the normal decisions of normal, everyday life are hard enough. And I know how often I fail.

I don’t know anyone who has “just” been a child and “just” been a parent who doesn’t have a list of regrets and things one could have should have would have done better at.

Imagine having to choose for a country, and a country such as ours.

I’m glad it’s not my decision.

I look ahead and see storm clouds, and yes, I fear the outcome.  The passage is narrow, the seas stormy.

Fortunately it’s a million to one chance we survive and do well. So, at least in fiction land, it’s a sure thing.

Sure. I laugh.  What else can I do.

Despair is a sin.

I get very pessimistic sometimes.  And then I put my shoulder back to the wheel and go back to work.  There’s no other choice.  Yes, if we try we might fail. But if we don’t try, we will fail.

Sometimes all you can do is what you can do.

And pray it’s enough.