Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli Someone Ought to Open Up A Promo – Free Range Oyster

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

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:


Someone Ought to Open Up A Promo – Free Range Oyster

Elise Hyatt

A French Polished Murder

Daring Finds Book 2

When Dyce Dare decides to refinish a piano as a gift for her boyfriend, Cas Wolfe, the last thing she expects is to stumble on an old letter that provides a clue to an older murder. She thinks her greatest problems in life are that her friend gave her son a toy motorcycle, and that her son has become unaccountably attached to a neurotic black cat named Pythagoras. She is not prepared for forgotten murder to reach out and threaten her and everything she loves, including her parents’ mystery bookstore.

John Van Stry

Present Tense

Days of Future Past, Part 2

Coyote has a new task for Paul, one that involves him traveling north hundreds of miles over the post-apocalyptic landscape of California, the place that Paul once called home.

Thankfully, Sarah and Heather have both decided to go with him and between Heather’s shooting skills and Sarah’s magical ones; Paul thinks he might just live through whatever scheme Coyote has enlisted him in. If he can live through telling the girls just what Coyote’s got him carrying in his pack now of course.

At least he’s done with Riggs and hopefully won’t have to deal with him ever again, nothing could be worse than that after all!

Pam Uphoff

No Confidence

Wine of the Gods Book 31

A vote of No Confidence has sidelined President Orde until the Special Election either confirms him or elects another candidate. In the mean time, The Interim Ruling Committee seems determined to get them into a war. And Dancer Rael receives the orders she’s always dreaded. Can she do it? Will she do it?

Blake Smith

A Kingdom of Glass

The Garia Cycle

Zara hasn’t seen her family in eleven years, but she doesn’t mind. They sent her to live in a neighboring kingdom when she was small, and she’s adopted her foster parents in their place. She lives the life of an aristocratic Garian girl – riding her horse, shooting her bow, exploring the castle with her friends – and she has nothing to wish for.

Until she’s summoned home, to a prospective marriage she doesn’t want, family she doesn’t remember, and a poisonous royal court that threatens everything she’s ever known. The East Morlans are nothing like Garia, and Zara struggles to find her place among the scheming Morlander aristocrats. Along the way, she makes new friends, meets enemies, and falls in love. But secrets abound in the glittering palace, and Zara must discover who she can trust as she fights for her life and freedom in a fragile, beautiful, kingdom of glass.

Sarah A. Hoyt

Ill Met By Moonlight

gical Shakespeare Book 1

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill.

Say Goodbye To The State of Fear

I published this here, I think (though it might have been at PJM) 2 years ago.  I keep saying “For the times they are achanging” but it’s hard, even for me, sometimes, to remember how AFRAID I was.  Afraid of being associated with people I actually admired.  Afraid any words I said revealed I read an unapproved magazine (in the nineties, mostly Reason.) I was afraid of stepping out of line.  I monitored my emotions, my look, my friends on FB to ensure I had no spec of taint.  The first time instapundit mentioned me as in quoted something from a book, I lived in fear, afraid someone would tell a publisher I had non-accepted fans.

I keep telling you that the big difference now is that we’re talking back, but until I stumbled on this (I was actually looking for a cute Heinlein reader meme) but even I had forgotten how much we DIDN’t talk back before.

Is it any wonder they look stunned?  Is it any wonder they are in shock?  Or that the escalation of their tantrums is getting crazy?  They had all this power and — through technology, through different means of information, through sheer enough-is-enough– it all ran away between their fingers.

Let us not forget the fear, but let us NEVER allow ourselves to fall into it again.  As the song says “We’re talking real loud and walking real proud again.”  Do that thing.  Stand on two.

Here starts older post.  I’ve removed the non-relevant to this part, because I don’t want ot rub the lamp:

When I sold my first novel in the late 90s.  Most Americans might not be that sensitive to the “climate” but I was.  I had after all grown up in a socialist (at best, during the better times) country where to graduate you had to present the proper progressive front.  I knew the signs and the hints and social positioning of “further left than thou.”  For instance, my first SF cons, as an author, in the green room, I became aware that “a conservative” was a suitable, laughter inducing punchline for any joke; that all of them believed the Reagan years had set us on course to total dystopia; that the US was less enlightened/capable/free than anywhere else; that your average Republican or even non-Democrat voter was the equivalent of the Taliban.

As for Libertarians, I will to my dying day cherish the dinner I had with my then editor to whom I was describing a funny incident at MileHi where for reasons known only to Bob, I found myself in an argument with someone who wanted to ban the internal combustion engine.  My editor perked up and (I swear I’m not making this up) said “Oh, a Libertarian.”  At which point my husband squeezed my thigh hard enough to stop me answering.  But yeah.  That was a not uncommon idea of a libertarian.  If it was completely insane and involved banning something, then it was a libertarian.

I once overheard the same editor talking to a colleague and saying that if she got submissions across her desk and they were – dropped and horrified voice – somewhat conservative she recommended they try Baen.

Which the other editor (from a different house) agreed with, because after all, they weren’t in the business of publishing conservative works.

This immediately put me on notice that in the field if you were a conservative (I presume libertarians were worse, or at least they seemed to induce more mouth foaming.  And though I was solidly libertarian and – at the time – might have qualified as a Libertarian, I suspect if faced with my real positions they would have classed me as conservative, because my positions were self-obviously not left and that’s all it took.) there was only one house that would take you, and if what you wrote/wanted to write wasn’t accepted by then, then you were out of luck.

After that I lived in a state of fear

I imagine it was similar to living in one of the more unsavory periods of the Soviet Union.  You saw these purges happen.  Whisper-purges.  You got the word that someone was “not quite the thing” or that they associated with so and so who associated with so and so who was a – dropped voice – conservative.  Suddenly that person’s books weren’t being bought and somehow people would clear a circle around them, because, well, you know, if you’re seen with a – dropped voice – conservative they might think you’re one too.  And then it’s off to Never-Never with you.

I found a few other conservatives/libertarians (frankly, mostly libertarians) in the field, all living in the same state of gut clenching fear.

We did such a dance to test both the reliability and discretion of the other before revealing ourselves that we might as well have developed a hanky code. [Blue for true blue Conservative, white for pure Libertarian, red for the blood of our heroes, brown for OWL (older, wiser libertarian), purple for squishy conservative, powder blue for Brad Torgersen. (The powder blue care bare, with the bleeding heart… and the flame thrower.)]

Conventions were nerve wracking because I watched myself ALL the TIME.  And you never knew how much you had to watch yourself.  Suddenly, out of the blue, at a World Fantasy the speaker, a well known SF/F writer went on about Dean Howard, our next president. The room erupted in applause, some people stood to clap, and I sat there, frozen, unable to actually fake it to that point but too shocked to even put a complaisant expression on my face.

This is one of the instances where I think if I didn’t give myself away I gave them the impression I was not very bright and therefore untrustworthy.  Another would be the letter exchange with a gentleman who went after my first Analog story.  Another instance would be that I actually could not help myself and defended Heinlein at all possible occasions.

They were never sure enough that I was a – dropped voice – conservative, but they were sure enough that my books had the strangest issues with distribution and marketing. I. e. like the year I had six books out and not one on the shelves anywhere.  [Yes, I have considered the possibility that maybe my books sucked, but a) if that was the case then why did they keep buying?  b) why are the same books making me a paycheck every month indie?]  And I was never one of the “darlings” who got promo or even really nice treatment (by editors) at cons (until I worked for Baen.)

Btw, speaking of Baen, when I was picked up by them after my first series tanked and no one else would touch me, I was overjoyed.  The agent who had been trying in vain for years to get SOMEONE to buy me, promptly told me that I couldn’t work for Baen because of the Baen taint.  (yeah, that – dropped voice – conservative taint – this while Baen publishes anyone from any political color provided they like the story.)

One time I came into the room at a con and found one of my editors talking to another of my editors.  I could tell from the expression, the startled look at me, that news that I might be a – dropped voice — conservative had been conveyed.  I hoped I was being paranoid, but I wasn’t. My treatment by that other house immediately changed, overnight.

So I lived in fear, unable to associate normally or make friends with anyone.  It was like being spied on all the time and knowing the worst construction would be put on my actions and words, even if the actions and words were not political, even if I just forgot what the week’s hate and the week’s cause was.

I got tired.  I got really tired.  I know authors who walked away after one or two books because they simply couldn’t take it anymore.  I know others – gentle souls – who didn’t realize they’d been blacklisted on suspicion of being – dropped voice – conservative. This was particularly true of Libertarians (and libertarians) who never thought of themselves (I still don’t) as “conservatives” and couldn’t understand it when I tried to explain it.

All this was justified, you see, because in the minds of the establishment and establishment hangers on, conservatives are creatures shown as “right wing” on movies and tv (none of whose writers would know a true conservative, much less a libertarian if one bit them in the fleshy part of the *ss [and libertarians might.]  They give conservatives (which again is everyone to the right of Lenin) informed attributes never found in the real creature: conservatives, in their crazy little heads, are people who are racist, sexist, homophobic, ultra-religious in a medieval fashion or a crazy-evangelical (there are some, but not many) one.

Informed attributes for those who don’t know, are a characteristic of lazy, sloppy writing, particularly common in fanfic AND beginner writers (though we all do it, but hopefully not in contradiction to our real writing.)  This is when you tell the reader that the character is kind or socially conscious or whatever even though the rest of your writing shows exactly the opposite.  (One of my ex-fledgelings had a penchant for this.  Would inform you the character was so nice and universally loved, and then show he was the ass everyone rode in on and most people hated him.  Eh.)

The informed attributes of “conservatives” in gatekeeper circles for SF/F are just that.  Someone informed these people that “conservatives” are sexist, racist, homophobic religious fanatics and they believe it without checking it against every day reality.

Here I am tempted to insert snark about their preferred modes of writing, but I won’t.  I’ll just say that once in a group populated mostly by them I found that if a person was good but didn’t proclaim it, then they were horrible.  No, I don’t get it either.  But somehow it works for them.  They HEARTILY believe this stuff, because someone told them.

And frankly if someone were racist, sexist, homophobic (religious fanatics I don’t care either way, unless they chase me down and make me believe as they do) I wouldn’t want to work with them either.

So, if you are revealed, through… what are the words of the old act of contrition?  “Your thoughts, your words, what you’ve done and what you’ve failed to do” or indeed, whomever you associate with at a third remove, or whom you failed to denounce on denouncing day, to be a – dropped voice – conservative they don’t want to work with you.  And if they have to work with you, they’re going to do it at as arm’s length as possible.

When I realized I couldn’t watch everything and didn’t have the energy to keep up with the hate or the enthusiasm of the week (there is a reason most of the darlings are single or at least childless) I told my husband I was dropping out.  But by then there was indie, and I was working for Baen, and he convinced me to stay on.

Still, such was the reflex of that fear that the first time I was mentioned on Instapundit I reached up to wipe the scarlet L from my forehead.

Now?  I’ve come a long way in seven years.  By baby steps.  But now I don’t hide I’m a libertarian.  (Technically an OWL – waves brown feathery scarf.)

And still when I’m mentioned somewhere I shouldn’t be catch my breath and remember the fear.

The people who preach to you of inclusiveness and love (SF is “love” apparently); the people who are hunting for writers of various colors of the rainbow to give awards to demand (and receive) perfect lockstep abasing compliance with their beliefs.

Fortunately there is indie.  They haven’t realized it yet, but what they hold in their hands is nothing.  And the more they show their colors, the more they pursue their little purges (now in public) the less they’ll be taken seriously.

We haven’t yet reached the point when “banned by the New York Publishing establishment” is a badge of honor, but unless I mistake my gut we’re not very far off.

And it’s a beautiful thing.  A scarlet l on my forehead, and an American flag in my heart, I stride into the future unafraid and what is it to you, and who made you keeper of other’s thoughts, other’s ideas, other’s art, other’s opinions?

Are you so empty, so vacant, so devoid of creativity and joy that all you can do is tear down the designated targets?

Well, then, you have my sympathy.  But you no longer have my fear.

And you never had my allegiance.

Depart from us in peace and go find someone else who might still fear you.  It won’t happen here.

Mean Girls Versus Western Civilization Versus Savages – by Kate Paulk

Mean Girls Versus Western Civilization Versus Savages – by Kate Paulk

I’m quite sure I’m not the only person who finds the whole spectacle of waving bits that ought to be kept between oneself and one’s significant other(s) rather off-putting, just as I’m sure that one’s genitalia is not where one stores one’s moral compass. Whether said genitalia are damp and somewhat salty or rise to the occasion to point the way to the nearest boobiesahem… moral decision point is irrelevant.

Quite simply the American media is currently owned (or, more accurately, pwned) by Mean Girls, not all of whom are, strictly speaking, female.

These are the ones whose latest tantrum has been going non-stop for four months now, and every time you think they’ve finally exhausted themselves, they spit the dummy again and raise a fresh set of howls over something else that makes no sense.

The thing is, it’s all depressingly familiar if you remember that clique in high school: the “in” set of girls (parodied so accurately and so damn faithfully in movies like Heathers) who would do anything to get what they desired, whether it was damaging to them in the long run or not, as long as they kept their status and their desirability.

This is what untrammeled female power seeking looks like. It’s the smile to your face and stabbing you in the back. Calling you friend while bad-mouthing you when you’re not there to hear it. Encouraging others to damaging anything you value, but doing it in a way that’s never quite enough to justify taking action against them. The power behind the throne, as it were: they damn near always have high status boyfriends who they lead around by the dick. The leaders are less vicious: they have the status. The hangers on, especially the ones who are just outside the charmed inner circle, are the real backstabbers.

They’re the ones who will cheerfully poison their inner circle mentor if they think they can get away with it.

And – even though they’ll deny it until the cows come home – they are at least metaphorically in bed with the savages, because the one thing they hate more than the unrestrained macho of the savages is the restrained and carefully managed power of the civilized man and woman. With the lack of foresight typical of the Mean Girl, the idiots with moral compasses in their genitalia are pairing up with savages to try to destroy our civilization, oblivious to the fact that if they succeed, the Mean Girls will be reduced to chattel defined by how effectively said genitalia produces babies.

Because that’s the only value women have to the current infestation of savages. They exist to have their husband’s (owners) dick shoved into their pussies in order to make new, preferably male, babies. I don’t care what trappings get put on their toxic excuse for a culture. It wouldn’t matter what religion they followed because they would use any religion as a justification. Following one founded by a savage just makes it easier.

So what does civilized power involve? At its best it’s the gentleman who could kill you fifty times over in the time it takes to make polite conversation about the weather – and doesn’t. The woman who raises her children to understand that good is not necessarily easy, and doing what is right can feel like shit, but that you do it anyway because it’s the right thing to do. The people who see something that needs to be done and do it instead of whining that “someone” should do “something” (yes, the Mean Girls) or rioting (savages). Or both. Then quietly accept the complaints from those who do nothing but complain because they don’t have the right to spank these overgrown children.

Because, yes, both savages and Mean Girls are overgrown children. Savages glorify masculine strengths at the expense of everything else. Everything is about appearing strong with them. Mean girls glorify feminine strengths at the expense of everything else (yes, there are female savages and male mean girls. Just not as many as the other way around). Neither has ever been taught to restrain their instincts, or that there is more to existence than satisfying their own petty wants. By the time they’re rioting in the streets, whether pussy-hatted or not, it’s probably too late to teach them anything short of “If you do that again, I will hurt you.”

Sooner or later, the civilized are going to do one of two things. Either they will surrender and go savage or mean girl as their inclinations lead them. Or they will take the hard path of cleaning up the mess. Neither path will be pleasant. I fear that parts of Europe have been so brainwashed into hating the manners and restraint that go with leashing the inner savage or inner mean girl that they will surrender.

Here in the United States I believe – and hope – that civilization will emerge more or less intact. Bloodied, and saddened by what will have to be done. But alive, and preserving most of the gains that have been so painstakingly carved from life over thousands of years. It won’t be easy. We’re going to be screamed at by savages and mean girls the whole time.

It can be done. It must be done. Ultimately, that’s all that matters.

More Prizes For Good Girls or a Letter from Sarah to the Political Goldfish

More Prizes For Good Girls or
a Letter from Sarah to the Political Goldfish

Yesterday I kind of lost my temper.  It was Facebook.  I got just one too many reminders that we were celebrating International Women’s Day.  And didn’t I want to show solidarity?  And celebrate women?

Look, it’s not my fault.  I was bit by International Socialism as a child and it’s the sort of thing that causes an allergy for life.  Oh, yeah, and International ANYTHING day is a socialist thing, because they never fully realized that they didn’t control the whole world.  Or they didn’t care and just wanted to make their rubes believe they were worldwide.  The Happy People of Brutopia celebrated whatever day they were ordered, and they marched in orderly ranks past the red draped stands, and Socialism would Conquer the WORLD.

Right.  So that was part of why I blew up.  I hate “International” this and that, and the idea behind it.  Whatever good it is supposed to do never actually works where needed, and it does very bad things everywhere else.

Bad things?  How can a day celebrating women be a bad thing?

It is a bad thing in many, many ways: first, what in particular are we celebrating about women?  That they’re women?  Hoo, women exist.  Great prizes for good little girls for existing.

Yes, I know what gets accreted to it: women who fought for equality.  women who still fight for equality in dangerous places (like say Afghanistan), women who’ve invented things, women who’ve done special things.

And that’s fine and dandy, but WHY are we celebrating IN PARTICULAR women who did these things?  It is impossible to avoid the feeling that it’s not normal for women to do these things, and that’s why they need to be PARTICULARLY celebrated for having them.

I mean, I want to make clear that I do admire people who do admirable things.  I just find the implication that doing admirable things while female is not that unusual; that we are not, in fact, impaired children who need to be given special prizes for existing.  Why else would you celebrate WOMEN who do special things more than anyone else who does special things, unless it is because women are naturally inferior and can’t do special things.

So eventually I boiled over, and posted this on the book of faces:

“Women’s Day” is how you know we’re speshull. Or at least that society at large considers us short bus speshull. Treating any group of people as though they need special recognition is like saying “Well done! We didn’t expect you lot to do anything. We’re so proud of you.”
I’m human and I partake of human achievement. What actually is between the legs of the people being celebrated couldn’t matter less to me. Or what they like to do with said equipment.
Unless we’re celebrating sex gods or goddesses, this is just nonsense and giving the impression some animals are more equal than others.
I’m celebrating by hoisting both middle fingers aloft. Lookit my matched set!

I confess I didn’t follow all the answers, partly because I’m trying to finish a book, but two of the answers I got were sadly illustrative.

One was the inevitable man asking me if I’d give the finger to all the women who fought for equality and bringing up the inevitable example of the  young woman in Afghanistan who got shot for fighting for female education, and saying that “She should just have told those women they were whiners and should shut up.”

Need I say that admire everyone who fought for equality under the law, and still fights.  And need I also say that International Women’s Day does nothing to advance that fight?  Thinking that declaring an International Women’s Day will make the barbarians of Isis realize that women should have equal rights is typical of the Disney generation, who thinks everything bad is just a big misunderstanding and can be resolved with a song and dance or a big demonstration of some sort, with painless virtue signaling from “enlightened” people.

And yet, the lowest US infantryman sent to Afghanistan did more to advance the cause of freedom and human dignity, and, yes, female equality before the law than all of the “International Women’s Day”s of the world.

This man’s posturing made me think of pouty Michelle Obama holding up a sign saying #bringbackourgirls, which of course did not do anything, and certainly earned no respect from the Boko Harum who went on, selling and raping and destroying the women they’d taken, completely unimpressed by Michelle Obama’s twitter posturing.  As they should be, since they come from a world of force and barbarism, where, to be fair, they never watched Disney movies, and were therefore never exposed to the awesome power of the photogenic pose.

Then there was the woman who informed me that she taught self defense to children and women (Good for her.  But why ONLY to children and women?) and that International Women’s Day was needed till the body count dropped.

That statement confused me, because it’s so stupid it’s not even wrong.

First of all, I’m fairly sure that anywhere not currently under active invasion by military-age refugees bent on treating their hosts like occupied people, the body count IS falling.  All body counts.  At least in the US and other Western lands, violent crimes have been falling.

However, pardon me if I ask WHOSE body count?  I presume from her statement that she teaches women and children to defend themselves that she thinks women and children die in disproportionate numbers from violence?

Look, one person, any sex, any race, any age, dead by violence is one too many, but in point of fact, most of the people who die by violence are men.  Always were.  Always will be.  Yep, they are more physically aggressive than females.  It’s the testosterone thing.  They are stronger than us, period.  They are also by nature protective.  Which means many is the man old and young who dies protecting his family. And the young men who have died protecting their tribe are countless, from tribal warriors to men who die in combat today.

That’s who men are.  And no, it doesn’t mean that if we got rid of men we’d get rid of violence.  I went to an all girls’ school.  Women are as capable of violence.  Different violence.  Women are more likely to hurt children (look at crime statistics) and women are more likely to kill by stealth and by poison.  We are by nature weaker, and our thought is less direct, but deeper, more interconnected and lending itself better to plotting and convoluted plans.

It’s who women are.  And it’s not all bad.  Throughout history women have plotted and connived and worked to keep their tribe safe.  Not just people like Elizabeth the first, many of whose actions were of necessity what a man would do, just with a different slant, but people like the legendary Portuguese baker who attracted the enemy one by one into her bakery (by baking bread, when both besieged and besiegers were dying of starvation) and killing them one by one with the oven shovel.

And it’s not all bad.  And those women who fought for equality, be it equality for themselves because women were despised, or equality for their sons and husbands, who were slaves at the time, were and are awesome and should be celebrated, no matter if they use their own means to do it.

But… where does International Women’s Day do that?

Where does it even keep a single woman or child in a perilous situation or an unjust land safe?

Teaching women and children self defense is admirable.  Getting them guns is even more admirable, because no matter how much you scream “equal” women and children are NOT physically as strong as men.  And so the very few bad men among the whole of them find them easy prey.  It’s impossible to make them equal.  But Mr. Colt did so.

What didn’t do so were soviet style strikes and calls for an International Women’s Day.

In a free society, in the west, all that does is allow the mean girls’ club to try to elevate themselves at the expense of other people, be it men or women who disagree with the mean girls.  That too is part of what women are, the social schemers and social climbers at other’s expense.  Oh, not all women.  Just the women who are the fair counterpart of the men who would abuse their strength to enslave the weaker.  (I tell you, those two sets deserve each other.)

And all it does is make men look at it — yes, and women too — and wonder why, if women really aren’t inferior we make such a big deal of acts of heroism and strength performed by women specifically.  I mean, if women are equally capable, shouldn’t we celebrate HUMAN achievement, male and female?

I do.  I salute those who worked for freedom, for justice, for equal laws for themselves or others: male or female.  I salute those who freed us from brutality and bestiality.  I ache for my brothers and sisters in societies where women are chattel, because even the boys and men are wounded.  You can’t separate the human species in two halves and hate one and love the other and not hurt all.  And that’s why I ache for boys raised in this lunacy where they’re blamed for crimes that not only they never committed but crimes that their ancestors haven’t committed, generations out of mind.  I ache for American boys held responsible for the crimes of barbarians living under Islamic  dictatorship, as though all men and all boys were interchangeable widgets.

And the goldfish?

Well, some friends of ours had a goldfish, in a bowl.  And every time the goldfish swam from one end of the bowl to the next, he’d look SURPRISED as though he’d never been there before and it were all utterly new.

The thing is, we’ve seen all this “international day for this and that” “Solidarity march for this thing and the other.”

Sure, it can work, properly targeted.  Notice that the Polish solidarity was not for political freedom for Poland “and everyone else in the world because we’re all equally oppressed.”  No, by directing the light of world outrage at a particular place, with a particular regime, it worked.  Or at least it helped the real fight on the ground.

So, you want to fight for the equality of women?  Shine the spotlight on Iran, on Afghanistan, on all the places in the world where a woman can get killed for talking back.  Name, shame, denounce.  Strip the mask for those who apologize for those regimes even among us — many of them “liberal” — and make them own the horrible things they’re allowing to be done.  Be ready for resistance from the victims you’re trying to save, too.  This is all they know, and our ways are foreign.  Yes, one or two will get it, but not all.  But fight there, where the fight is.  Be relentless.

But don’t say “And all the women in the west who are equally oppressed” because that’s bullsh*t and you know it.  Even the country I grew up in, which is objectively sexist (or was when I grew up there) in that every woman is considered inferior to every man, is not EVEN CLOSE to the hells where women get slaughtered for talking back, for learning to read, for being seen with a man not their husband.

As to the imaginary “micro-aggression” of American feminists, those are more often than not the excuse of power hungry females who have nothing else to recommend them, as to why they should be at a the top of the pile.  They have neither beauty, grace nor brains, but they have vaunting ambition, and use the plight of other women — real women, in other lands — as a springboard to arrogate to themselves unmerited accolades and power.

The only thing they have in common with true female heroes is that they have a vagina, and that’s not enough.  Heroic women, though methods tend to be different, have more in common with heroic men than with loudmouth, pampered women who give themselves airs, because they have a vagina.

And it is to those political goldfish I wish to speak: We don’t care what you were born with.  In fact your displays and tantrums, more and more, make the rest of society view you as inconsiderate brats who refuse to grow up. And yes, the rest of society includes grown up women doing grown up things.  But what you are doing is very dangerous.  In your effort to seize unmerited power and acclaim, you’re putting down every other woman, reducing us to a powerless and inferior group, at the same time that — frankly — you make sure no one wants to hear another word from you.  And they will think you’re typical women.

This is how real oppression returns.

Women in the west wouldn’t be where we are without many determined women.  We also wouldn’t be where we are without many determined men.  And without men agreeing with us that equality before the law is right and just.

Convince them otherwise, and you lose everything.  Your posturing and mewling of victimhood will win nothing.  And it could lose us all.

It is said that at least one Catholic saint spoke to the fish, and the fish listened.  I have no such hope with the political goldfish, locked in their blinkered “Wants” and who believe life is a Disney movie.

Fortunately they are a minority.  Most women, like most men, are decent human beings.

It’s type to stop listening to the loud mouths, and get to work.


The Dose Makes the Poison – Orvan Ox

The Dose Makes the Poison – Orvan Ox

Cyanide is a poison. On that there is no real argument. A biochemist could explain how it messes up a deep level of a key system and is thus a very nasty poison. And yet there are foods, intentionally eaten even by the non-suicidal, that contain cyanide. But people aren’t dropping dead due to eating spinach or even lima beans [Are you sure about lima beans? – Ed]. What gives? What gives is that while spinach and lima beans and other foods do indeed contain cyanide, they contain only very very tiny amounts. Amounts that are physiologically insignificant. The dose is so low there is no poisoning and life goes on.

A more applicable thing to this post is vitamin D. Vitamin D is a thing necessary for people and a deficiency results in bad things happening. But too much for too long and other bad things happen. There is a range for which vitamin D is beneficial. If you have a deficiency, a change of diet and/or supplementation is a good idea. Downing several “100%” supplements every day, day in and day out, is not a good idea. You can get away with it for a little while, but over the long run you are apt to run into trouble.[1]

Government is, in a way, like vitamin D. We need some. We do not need too much. Unlike the vitamin, the deficiency can result in an overdose. Consider the special case of pure anarchy: Zero government. It is not a stable condition, as  some form of governance will arise. It is, unfortunately, most likely to be of the dictatorial sort as power will be exerted by strength alone and the strongest, most brutal, wins the day. The overdose condition is also unstable, but it takes longer to fall apart. It could take a lifetime or several. When everything is government controlled, why bother doing anything more than the utterly necessary, if one will not truly benefit from the effort? Thus arises the Soviet-era joke, “They pretend to pay us; we pretend to work.”

The current Big Argument has been cast a few ways, as Left vs. Right, as Urban vs. Rural, as International vs. National, and on and on. The casting that seems the most likely to me was as drloss put it, Statist vs. Individualist. Those calling themselves liberal or progressives, as well as those calling themselves conservatives, and libertarian all claim to be Individualist rather than Statist. Yet examples can be found for each group that actual behavior is Statist – provided they are the ones running the state, of course. The Statist view is that government and its regulations are a tool to force people (those other people, of course) to behave in a set, presumed ideal, way: Government’s job is to stuff mere man into an angel mold and apply pressure until conformity occurs.

The Individualist is not trying to destroy all government. That’s the mark of the insane. What’s desired is lowering the dosage of government back down into the therapeutic range. Starting with at least President Wilson and certainly with FDR the idea regarding government and regulation in the U.S.A. was “more is better.” For a Statist, more is indeed better: more regulation is more control is more power. Some regulation is desirable. We like our food to be pure, our drugs to be safe and effective, our purchases to live up to their claims, our water to be clean. But an excess of regulations means that everyone is guilty of something and the rules can be enforced to ‘deal with’ the supposed Undesirable of the Month. The boot on the face is that of the Statist. The Statist can be of any claimed party alignment, the bootprint is just the same.

“All regulation is about public safety” has been claimed[2], and that might have even been the original intent. A call for cleaner water when a river catches fire certainly seems sensible. What isn’t often said is that when the big story hit it was a case of one bad incident getting attention after many worse incidents and that that very waterway was actually already getting cleaner. But one spill got national news coverage and mindshare. The EPA that came into being to fix things might have been needed, it might not have been. Now consider how the EPA, the very thing meant to clean up and keep clean waterways, amongst other things, has managed to severely pollute multiple waterways in recent months. One might well ask, “Is this Agency really necessary?”

A regulation that once made sense, might no longer be needed. In the days of vacuum tube (or thermionic valve) radios, some designs were more expensive as they used more tubes and each one meant more supporting components as well. This lead to advertising the number of tubes as an indication of quality, to convince buyers the higher price was worthwhile for better sensitivity, selectivity, or sound quality. When the transistor came along, at first things were much the same, but the expense fell rapidly and the advertising became a gimmick. Eventually it was ruled that advertising the number of transistors[3] in a radio was not an honest indication of quality. In 1968, this made sense. In 1978 it still made sense. By 1988 integrated circuitry meant the transistor count wasn’t very meaningful. I’ve had no luck finding the article, but I do recall sometime in the last several years there was something about dropping the rule against advertising the number of transistors. Not from an outbreak of marketing department honesty, but as nowadays so much is integrated circuitry with a huge number of transistors that advertising the count would be pointless.

Absolute deregulation, like absolute anarchy, would be insanity. That way lies rickets or the equivalent. But scrapping excess regulations should be a net benefit. Maybe two can’t be scrapped for every new one within a particular subject or agency, but it would be worthwhile to try. And in other places perhaps three or four could retire to the ash-heap of history. For the Statist this downright scary: It’s a loss of control. For the Individualist this is hope, the hope of the yearning to breathe free becoming a satisfying reality instead of mere yearning.

An Individualist is not someone utterly independent of others, nor even necessarily trying to be. The Individualist rather wishes his associations and any dependencies to be things chosen freely, with a wide selection of choices. He is not his own doctor, his own electrician, his own plumber, his own auto manufacturer, and his own farmer all rolled into one. He is someone desiring to be able to choose his physician from amongst many, to choose an electrician from amongst many, to choose a plumber from many, to choose his make and model of automobile from a wide variety, and to buy such  food as he pleases. Not for him is the life of government prescription, “Thou shalt have the physician thy bureaucrats so decree. And only the decreed treatments, and only to the decreed degree.” He is the Statist’s nightmare, for he is variable. And he brazenly recognizes the angel mold for being the Perillos device it really is. Quite naturally, the last thing he desires is more government and more regulation.

You might find a higher percentage of the rural population acting Individualist and speaking out in favor it than in more urban areas. There are urban Individualists as well, though they might be quieter or more swamped by Statists. This gives the impression of a Rural-Urban divide. Similarly the claims of individualism are more apt to be spoken of those on the political Right and benefits of state power and uniformity by the political Left. Words are cheap (I’m giving these words away right now!) but actions speak truth. People desire Individualism – at least for themselves. “There ought to be a law” is in general the Statist approach: Conform to MY ideals! The Individualist is not against all laws, but the needlessly interfering ones. Theft, the uncompensated taking from one not freely giving, is and ought be illegal. Demanding that lighting be only by some limited means, for example, is not rightly any of the law’s business. How one has light is one’s own lookout, whether one chooses LED, fluorescent lamp, incandescent lamp, or oil lamp. Demanding it be one or not be others is an overdose of regulation and is toxic to liberty. To end or nearly end one method the way to do it is not to make it illegal, but to offer better as seen by the customer.

What regulations exist forbidding the manufacture and sale of phonograph cylinders? As far as I know: none. Yet they are historical artifacts, not things sold in great quantity today. They were not banned. They were superseded. Disc records took up less space, were easier to mass produce, and provided longer play time. Eventually compact discs and digital distribution came along, pushing cylinders further into history. An entire industry transformed, a few times, largely without government intervention. We didn’t need a new drug, nor more of an old one.

And yet some insist that things are different today and we need more regulations, big brother’s universal helper. But we know that if we take on even more of those, we’ll get an overdose.

[1] Vitamin A is similar, but I went with D as it seems to take a lot more for a lot longer for things to get truly bad. As shown by the last several decades, an excess of government is generally more a chronic than acute affliction.

[2] Saw that one spreading on Twitter a while back.

[3] Alright, the number of transistors could be advertised, but they had to be used as transistors and contribute to the radio’s performance as a radio. Counting transistors used as diodes, or one just stuck onto a circuit board wouldn’t cut it. The result was that by and large rather than giving an honest count, no count was given. It was easiest to say nothing.

Race And Racism

There is one thing in which liberal activists are right: everyone is racist.  There is one thing in which they’re wrong: everyone is racist.

Racism is not confined to white people — and the idea that it equals prejudice plus power is an interesting (and stupid, as usual) Marxist distortion we’ll deal with later — it’s a characteristic of being human.

Why?  Oh, like most other things because it was evolutionarily sound.  I.e. those who had it survived and had more kids.

The thing is it’s not so much “racism” as in discriminating against another race.  It’s “Fear of the stranger.”

And even if it involves just-so stories, it really doesn’t take much to figure out why people who have a fear of the stranger survive and have more children more than those who don’t.  Even in modern society, the teen who will hitchhike and get in the car with just anyone has a higher chance of ending up dead.  But long before that, the little kid who approaches panel vans driven by strangers, has a good chance of ending up dead.  (NOT as high was our media makes it out to be, but high enough their scares are justified.)

In pre-human times, with many bands and tribelets living close enough for kids to stray, the name for a kid who thought that his family or strangers were equivalent was — at least if we go by how our closest relatives, the chimps, treat young from other bands — “dinner.”

Oh sure, in times of stress and famine, the chances that your own band would tuck in were fairly high, but still the chances that dear old mom would eat you were not nearly as high as that a stranger would eat you.

The thing is, this fear of the stranger activates more the more the stranger looks like you and your family.  No, seriously.  When is the last time anyone was accused of racism towards another species (Okay, fine, Harambe, but that’s an exception and also liberals be cray.) This makes perfect sense, because even toddlers (at least those not desensitized by stuffed animals and parents’ being idiots) understand that large animals are dangerous.

Okay, so being afraid of cows might be a new one, and I sort of invented it (I have no idea why as a child I thought cows and horses were both man-eaters.  None.  But then I thought there were sharks with chainsaws under my bed ready to lop off any limb that extended over the edge, so we might as well admit as a proto-writer I was already rather Odd) but most kids are afraid of anything large and furry that charges towards them.  This is not racism, it’s survival.

The fear of the stranger that goes under “racism” in our society is the fear of people like us and yet not like us.

And it’s not racism in the sense that the media and liberals (who be cray) portray it.  If you believe racism as they portray it, then you believe paler people are born with an instinctive fear of African features and dark skin.  For the party that claims to be for “science” this is odder than believing in chainsaw sharks.  What is their evolutionary reason for it, precisely?  Is it the sort of fear as that of the Aliens in Arthur C. Clark’s Childhood’s end?  Are people of African descent thought to bring about the apocalypse and does time run in a circular fashion?

Oh, I know, they say we all internalize racism and self-racism.  Both those things are stupid.  We absorb all sorts of prejudices from the society we live in, but for the last several decades we’ve been pounded with anti-racism.  It works too.  I was reading a mystery from the eighties where the teen wishes she were black, because you know, black people are so much cooler and don’t oppose other people.  Yep, the book was written in the eighties.  (And I thought “Rachel Dolezal, we hardly knew ya”)  and the writer thought this was a perfectly sane character to sketch. And who knows, it might be, given the barrage of anti-racist propaganda.  (More on that later, too.)  But racism, true racism, is “fear of the stranger.”  The myths and attacks come from THAT and it’s one of the basic instincts of humans.  BTW it also makes “internalized racism” even dumber.  You don’t fear yourself as a stranger, unless you’ve had one of those strokes that make it impossible to recognize yourself in the mirror.

So if the fear isn’t of dark skin or African features, what is it a fear of?  “People who are not like my family/tribe/village to whom I’m accustomed” is a better way to describe it.

When I was a little girl, living in Portugal, I saw all kind of distinctions when I first entered elementary school.  Some of my classmates were much darker than I, some were blond.  Some were tall, some were short.  Being sort of medium, I never had that trigger fear of the “stranger” or at least not towards appearance.

It took going back after 30 years here to realize as a child I’d seen differences that weren’t there.  For one, Portuguese “blond” is a medium brown hair (unless enhanced with dye.)  I myself was often called “ruiva” by guys calling from street corners, because my dark brown hair threw off red highlights in the full sun.  Oh, sure there was a Viking in the wood pile there, and if I’d been in the sun a lot, my hair would look flame red when fully lit (acutally bozo-red.  My kids make fun of those pictures.) BUT in the shade hair was dark brown (now it is whatever I feel like coloring it, being a rather ugly iron-grey since I was 28.)

It took my going back after 30 years here and getting stuck watching some sort of multi-school gymnastics competition to have the stunning realization of “Heavens, all these kids look like cousins.”

This is because the human brain in a highly homogeneous population will find the most minor differences to attach “stranger danger” to.

As for big differences…  I was six the first time I saw a blond man. I mean REALLY blond.  He must have been a tourist.  In those days there weren’t many tourists in the north of Portugal, and at any rate, I was only taken to the city when I needed to buy shoes or something else my parents couldn’t find in the village.

So I’d never seen a blond.  As I remember, I screamed, and tried to run.  I also had nightmares for days.  In my mind, I decided he was one of those molded plastic dolls, hair and skin the same color, that had come to life.  But that came after for the nightmares.  The first reaction was pure fear of the stranger.

The thing about that?  Fear of the stranger — duh — goes away with familiarity.  I had a blond friend in college (real blond, even if dark blond.  Her parents were not from around there.  At least her dad wasn’t.) My husband’s best friend for twenty years, whose kids were raised with ours as “cousins” was blond.  His kids are blond.  I don’t run screaming from them.

If kids are raised together in a great variety of skin colors and hair colors, they don’t even notice them.  My kids who attended an urban school, rarely remembered to tell me the race of their friends.  Which really wasn’t an issue, except when the friends did the same and their parents did have an issue with friendships between races.

Because again, it is fear of the stranger.  Take an American kid who was raised with all skin colors, though, and introduce someone who dresses funny and the fear of the stranger activates.  Which is why we’re now using (and fostering) “racism” for things that have bloody nothing to do with race.

I’ve become a different race before my very eyes, for instance.  Worst, my family, abroad, has internalized/believes this.  Oh, not a different race from them, but that we’re all a minority and despised.

Look, I grew up thinking of myself as “White.”  This is a broad church in Portugal. I have a cousin who looks considerably more African than Obama’s Reverend Wright, but was also considered “White.”  You’d really need to look pretty dark not to be considered “white.”

Yes, there were hints that some people already considered Portuguese “Latin” when I came here thirty years ago.  Like, my first boss in the US thought Portugal was a city in Mexico (and he didn’t like Mexicans.)  Someone (at a Mensa meeting for Bob’s sake,) was so sold on me as “Hispanic” that he heard my accent as that of Ricky Ricardo’s.  Those of you who heard me (or search sings the blues in this blog, where there is a reading) should be jaw-dropped.  Portuguese LOOKS like Spanish written, but sounds nothing like Spanish, so the accent is markedly different.  Oh, and when I got my social security card they tried to put “Hispanic” in the field.  I’d have taken Latin, but there was no such classification and Spanish I’m NOT.

The Hispanic/Latin classification in governmental things isn’t STRICTLY a race.  There are Hispanic whites (one of our friends was an exchange student from argentina, whose family were first generation immigrants from Italy.  If they’d immigrated here they’d be “white” but they hadn’t, so she was “Hispanic.”) and black Hispanics and everything in between.

At least that was the idea.  BUT the problem when you paint a target and say “this is different” you’re going to activate the human instinct for “fear of the stranger.”  And remember that this fear of the stranger can and does pick up minute differences.

So, over the last thirty years, I’ve watched Latin become a race.  I’m still not 100 percent sure what people are picking up on, and sometimes what they do pick/don’t pick is bewildering.  I’ve more than once been in a line/situation where my two kids are picked as “Latin” but I’m not.  Given they’re a mix of me and their very white anglo-saxon looking father, this is somewhat bewildering.  Though I’m happy — ???– to report as times go on, I too am picked out as Latin by strangers who don’t even ask before writing “Latin” in the form or saying “Hey, you’re Latin.”  (To be fair, whatever the heck the marker is might have been there from the beginning, witness first boss, and social security lady.But it’s now more prevalent.  People are more alert to the signs.)

It’s more prevalent now, though.  People used to mistake me for Russian (this sometimes still happens, if they hear me before taking a good look at me), Greek, Italian, or Arab.  But now, nine times out of ten it’s “Latin.”

Sure there are manners, there is a culture.  I can laugh at “you’re so Cuban” jokes because they’re remarkably similar to what “you’re so Portuguese” jokes would be.  And maybe what people are picking up on is gestures, a way of standing, but it’s all getting both highlighted by saying “look at this minority here” (seriously, guys, we could do this with redheads or people who have freckles by deciding they were an oppressed minority) and made “racial” instead of cultural. (Part of this is the liberal — liberals be cray — confusion between race and culture.  They have come to think these are the same and culture can’t be changed, which is why making someone learn/speak English is racist.  As someone who learned English at 14 I’m here to tell you calling Harambe’s death the result of racism is SANER.)

Because of that there is a tendency to consider “white” only blond and blue eyed, which frankly excludes even my husband.

The justification for this is the delightful Marxist illusion that racism= prejudice + power.  Have I mentioned I thought Marx — who at any rate is not the originator of this illusion.  That’s his followers trying to make his crazy cakes theory work — and his followers are all some form of Aspergers, and unable to see things outside what they’re classified as?

They seem to think — be honest, most sf writers do too — that power equals institutional/economic/government power.

Power in human societies is a matter of one on one interactions.  Even if all black people in the US were held in menial positions, do you know how much power those can have?  Yep, a cook can spit in your food.  But more than that, a daycare worker can wreak havoc among her charges and mess with their self-image for years, even though she’s ultimately a low paid drone.  But of course, because of various affirmatives, black people are disproportionately represented in the machinery of our government, both local and federal.  And if you think that a DMV worker has no power over you, you don’t drive.

Even if racism REALLY were a thing of power and prejudice, it would apply to every “race” of human, ever.  But it’s not.  Racism is a fear of the stranger.

And our industrial-education-entertainment complex has the ability to cut out entire groups of people, point them out as different and thereby CREATE racism against them, which then requires intervention to make them “non discriminated against.”

It’s as old a game as any.  “Divide and conquer.”  If people are dependent on the government to keep them from each other’s throats, then they won’t notice the government is planting a foot more and more firmly on their necks.  And if they do, they won’t unite to topple that government.

Sure, you’ll always experience “stranger danger” when you meet someone who is truly different.  But stranger danger doesn’t shove people into groups and then train them to fear every other group.  By rights, Reverend Wright should be part of the great indistinct majority of people who can be “Whatever” if everyone, himself included, hadn’t been trained to think of african features as meaning “different race.”  (Older son gets considered black as often as Latin.  It’s the features.)

Stranger danger is not racism as the ideologues proclaim it, but it’s the only form of non-government-induced racism, and the basis of what they use to try to claim that everyone is racist (like that heinous experiment with infants.)  Stranger danger is a leftover instinct, not particularly useful in our society except to keep children from panel vans.

Fortunately it can be defeated by living in a varied society with people of all sizes and colors.  After a while the alarm stops ringing.

Of course, you’ll still react to someone who ACTS weird comes to town.  But seriously, would you want to stop that?  Often it is a sign of danger, in fact, as often “acting weird” has to do with mental illness.

More importantly, when that leftist activist comes to town, do you want to think of her as just another human being, even as she lectures you on your “toxic whiteness”?  Think of the lost opportunities to point and laugh.


Healing from Toxic Whiteness- Alan Miller


Healing from Toxic Whiteness- Alan Miller


This is the title of an online course from the good people at EveryDay Feminism. Here’s a few selections from the description. Feel free to mock (or weep) as the mood strikes you:

So with Trump’s policies starting to roll out, you know you want to be fighting alongside people of color. But you also know that you may feel frozen in place by the feelings of shock, confusion, denial, and guilt that many white people have been dealing with since the election.

So it’s a course for recovering white people?

With our unique Compassionate Activism approach, you can learn how to hold that pain of racism in a way that’s healing and comes from a place of love and justice.

You keep using those words. I no think you know what those words mean.

Once you notice just how insidious and ingrained racism really is – and how often you find yourself unintentionally upholding it – it can feel like your whole worldview is being shaken.

Ah, now we have the Original Sin narrative but just for honkies.

While white people are not inherently or inevitably racist, they are all raised in societies built on systemic racism.

My, my someone picked a broad brush to paint with today.

The desire to not be racist is not enough, by itself, to stop someone from being racist.

Do you admit that you are powerless over your addiction to humming the song “Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting” every time the Asian guy at work enters the room?

Give your pain the gentle, loving care and attention it deserves, while holding the space for others to do the same

I have been meaning to spend more time with my pain.

Help other white people transform their ignorance and defensiveness into greater consciousness and motivation to act in that solidarity with people of color

I introduced a friend to Earth, Wind, and Fire once, does that count?

“I joined Healing from Toxic Whiteness because I wanted to act against racial injustice, but felt frustrated because that felt so theoretical to me. This program has opened my eyes to the racism around me and in me, and has allowed me to let go of my sense of guilt, entitlement, and all that goes along with “toxic whiteness.” I can now be closer to others, including people of color, because I am being my real self, and that has been such a gift.” – Aiyana

The testimonials are comedy gold.

About the Author (i.e., shameless plug):

Alan is an aspiring author who blogs semi-regularly at

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli and The Promo It Is Aflying by Free Range Oyster.

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli and The Promo It Is Aflying by Free Range Oyster.

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

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:


The Promo It Is Aflying by Free Range Oyster

Alma Boykin

Language of the Land: A Steampunk Fantasy

An engineer accidentally rediscovers magic. What could possibly go wrong? A great deal, if you are a tyrant.

Andre Kalisson didn’t believe in magic. Bella Vonk felt the magic of the land but could not touch it. When Andre went north to build a dam on the Greene River, the last thing he expected was to be kidnapped, turned into a mage, and introduced to Bella.

A ticked-off engineer, and people who know the truth, can change the world.

Karen Myers

Second Sight


Samar Dix, the inventor of the popular DixOcular replacement eyes with their numerous enhancements, has run out of ideas and needs another hit. Engaging a visionary painter to create the first in a series of Artist models promises to yield an entirely new way of looking at his world.

But looking through another’s eyes isn’t quite as simple as he thinks, and no amount of tweaking will yield entirely predictable, or safe, results.

Elise Hyatt

Dipped, Stripped and Dead

Daring Finds Book 1

When she was six, Dyce Dare wanted to be a ballerina, but she couldn’t stop tripping over her own feet. Then she wanted to be a lion tamer, but Fluffy, the cat, would not obey her. Which is why at the age of twenty nine she’s dumpster diving, kind of. She’s looking for furniture to keep her refinishing business going, because she would someday like to feed herself and her young son something better than pancakes.

Unfortunately, as has come to be her expectation, things go disastrously wrong. She finds a half melted corpse in a dumpster. This will force her to do what she never wanted to do: solve a crime.

The State of The State of The Writer

Looking at that title, I want to emphasize that this is NOT  a post on Colorado which, in this fine morning, seems to be warm (yesterday we got to 70 though that might be urban isle effect, since it was not supposed to get that hot) and rather rosy.  Or at least the sky is rosy.

At six am I got up too late to see the city lights outside my sunroom as I had breakfast.  Or at least they were rather pale and wan.  It’s the beginning of summer, and in a way the beginning of a new phase in my life, though, as such things go, the change will be gradual and with turn backs for about two years.

As some of you know — at least those who offered him material support should I kick him out when he did a facebook post pretending my writing novels was a delusion and that I was a mental patient (it ended with “She really thinks she makes a living from her novels.  As if anyone did that.”) — younger son moved out at the end of November.  I wasn’t ready for it, but to ask a young man to go to school in the Springs from Denver is cruel and unusual.  Not unheard of, mind, some do it regularly.  But Marshall has “highway curse”TM and three out of four times he gets on the highway, he ends up behind a massive traffic jam. Beyond that, in addition to an overloaded and often eccentric schedule (the penalty of doing multiple engineer degrees at once) he runs a fencing club, is a member of a very active young engineers’ society and has a gaggle of friends, all of which meant mostly he made it home to sleep — maybe.

Anyway, I’m mostly accustomed to his not living here.  If by accustomed you include “not at all.”  He thinks I’m sappy and strange for going all the way to the springs for a hug.  Eh.  He’ll learn.

His older brother has been occupying our basement, in starving student fashion, but if everything goes well he starts doing clinical rotations in a couple of months, which mean that at least for portions of it (for other portions they’ll ship him across the state) he’ll need a pied a terre minutes from the school (which we aren’t, particularly not in city traffic.)

So it’s rather likely that in a couple of months older son will only be coming back for infrequent visits.  And then next year he’ll again be living here more or less full time, with periodic trips to the airport for — hopefully — interviews for internship.

All of which should leave me more time to write.  Maybe.  I rather enjoyed my month or so of empty nestdom (totally a word), before boys relocated here last summer.  However I suspect there will be a period of adjustment.

Among other things, I MUST get back to driving, an activity interrupted by “vision going awry” about five years ago.  Not quite sure how to get back on the road, as instruction — and being told I’m fine, except at parking, which frankly I knew — hasn’t helped conquer the subconscious fear shading to panic.  It’s not rational.  I’m hoping now it’s lighter I can hit the roads at six or before that and conquer the fear by sheer habit.  We’ll see. The reason I must do it is that right now I count on tyrannizing one or the other of the sons (one of them is susceptible to ambushing on FB pm and I know his afternoon off) and getting them to drive me to a museum or a lecture or wherever I want to go.  But in two years, everything going well, they probably won’t even be in-state, and it’s not fair to Dan for me to demand he take time off for my whims (even when he works from home.)  So in two years I either must be driving without fear (because otherwise I make excuses not to drive) OR we must have a lot of money for Uber.

Re: pursuit of the later: I had intended to put out a book a month starting last September.  Life intervened, as it has a tendency to.  The most disruptive intervention was collapsing in the shower early December, though the flu in January was a doozy in that for the first time in years it left me severely compromised enough to catch serial secondary infections, including the last one that gave me a week and a half severe headaches (only two days without them since, yesterday and the day before) and which attacks only severely immune-compromised patients.

So, yesterday being the first time I COULD clean in about a month, I’ve changed sheets, towels and wiped down every surface that COULD be wiped with bleach.  I also cleaned those that couldn’t, including deploying the dreaded carpet cleaner.  Hopefully this will keep us well enough to recover and resist the next infection.

All of this has affected my work, of course.  I delivered Darkship Revenge in late January (Now available in e-arc, come and get it while it’s e-arcky) and should have been done with the next book on my schedule — a collaboration with Kevin J. Anderson, taking place in a shared world and called Uncharted: Lewis and Clark in the Arcane Territories — a week or two later.  I had, as I thought, done all the research and was prepared.

The problem is that it’s a shared world and one that splits off earlier, and in which the American Revolution never happened.  This means many tiny things could not be the same, besides the main premiss (that magic returned.)  I keep running into things I need to check like “When was north America circumnavigated, and were they sure it went all the way to the pacific?”  (Kind of.) And other such issues.  And they’re not the type of issues where I can insert “research later here” because it affects major parts of the motivation.

Anyway, the headaches didn’t help either.  Turns out writing through a headache is extremely difficult. So February is done and I’m maybe halfway done with this.  It shall be done.  Should be today, but I’m shooting for this week.

Part of the reason it’s taking so long is that I’m very impatient to get to Guardian.  As a fan who writes fanfic in the MHI world, I’m having trouble staying out of it to fulfill my other obligations. I’m really hoping to start sending a chapter a day to Larry starting next week.  Which means this thing has to be put to bed.

I’ll also confess I’m having flashbacks to writing the Magical British Empire (Heart of light, etc) which are Magical travelogues, but I’m no longer that writer, so it’s a bit of a struggle to get back in that mind set. Which of course is why I’ve not edited or released those two books yet, under my own imprimatur.  That and because they were so tampered with it’s an intensive editing job.  Hopefully they’ll be up before summer.

Also up, the second one probably this next week, will be the Furniture Refinishing Mysteries.  Dipped, Stripped and Dead is already out, and A French Polished Murder is actually ready to go.  It’s just that I’d like to pace it, so that when I bring out the third it will only be a couple of weeks till I bring out A Well-Inlaid Death, the fourth, at present only half written.  (But these are short books.)

And then, once the collaborations are in, (or Guardian in the process of going in) I hope to start going through the many drawer-books (those that for some reason didn’t sell to traditional publishing, which for the space operas often included “space opera doesn’t sell.”  Ah.) and finishing/editing releasing them at as great a pace as I can manage, since the indie game is a game of volume.

I still intend to write a couple more books for Baen this year, maybe three, if it looks like they’ll be amenable to the Magical Legion (the foreign legion but extending through time and with magic.)   The couple of books, not under contract but continuation of a series, are Hacking the Storm, third book in the Earth Revolution subseries and Bowl of Red the fourth in the Shifter’s series.  Also for Baen and penciled in for late August this year is a book in the Black Tide universe but that will be a collaboration, so actually bringing it out depends on a lot of things.

All of this should be facilitated by its being just two of us int he house.  And the income should help with paying the final expenses for the boys’ schooling before they fly solo and (hopefully) laying in enough money we can fly to visit them when they move out of state.  We’ve agreed there’s absolutely no point us trying to move near them for ten years or so, when they’ll be of necessity somewhat mobile.  In ten years we’ll evaluate where they are and hopefully figure out how to be near them (which could be hard if they go to extreme ends of the country, but what’s life without a little challenge?)

Until then, the order of the day is to work as hard as I can, while the sun shines, or rather while health allows.

On the health it would really help if we didn’t catch stupid cr*p.  Oh, sure, it’s not as bad as it was before we moved here, but it’s still pretty idiotic to lose two months because of flu.  Of course, the fact older son wishes to decamp during his clinical rotations should help my health also, since he’s a good, sharing son and brings home the most interesting parts of his work, even now when his clinical work is only a day a week.  Without Victor the Vector here, it should be easier.

I will be doing a follow up on both the tumor in the brain, to determine whether mass effect requires rapid removal, and the demelination (sp) event, aka “the thingy int he brainy” which is the more worrisome of the two, but not unduly so given that I was hypothyroidal and untreated for 20 years give or take, resulting in the onset of hypothyroidal dementia (which is weirdly actually what stopped me almost completely for about 4 to 5 years.  Though the moving didn’t help.)  It is likely the demilianated areas are the result of that, and judging from improved memory and verbal facility, that they are also reversible.  We shall see.  I should have an MRI this month.

Among the welter of projects started, planned and waiting revision (seriously, this covers around 35 projects that will be done AT SOME TIME, some more pressing than others) should I write a fantasy version of the American revolution, you guys should remember it’s all Amanda Green’s fault, who insinuated the idea into my brain in a conversation yesterday, a feat in which she was aided by my stupid brain having been chain-reading the lives of the founders.

And now I’m going to stop wasting time and go work.

The state of the writer is guardedly optimistic but buried in a mountain of work, and with the sort of major life-changes ahead that are always a bit rocky to navigate.  Prayers, well wishes and crossed fingers appreciated.  I really don’t like having lost four to five years to my body not cooperating, and would like to get things done now.

Oh, suggestions for topics, both here and at Mad Genius Club (i.e. topics of a writerly and often instructional nature) much appreciated.







Life, Liberty, Reasonably Priced Love

This is a quick throw away post.  I’m not dead, but I am very busy.  However, younger son pinged me on FB and said “Do the dems really think that the right to Healthcare INSURANCE really is a universal human right?  What part of unalienable and natural did they fail to get?”

I told him the left side of the isle DOES indeed believe so.

And hence, this post.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are the rights listed in the declaration of independence.  And they’re so listed because they’re the rights you have unless the government  takes them away from you.

But Sarah, you say, you’ll eventually die.  And you might end up so confined that you don’t have liberty.  And what about happiness.  You can pursue but you might not catch.

At which point I’m going to tell you that this is the lamest argument since pro-abortion people bring in that one in two pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage.  That’s comparing apples to kumquats and doesn’t make it any more “natural” or “right”  or whatever to abort the ones that remain.

In the same way, sure, you were born to die.  And you eventually will.  And sure, your liberty is constrained by the circumstances of your birth and might impair your happiness.  Like, for instance, having a functional body would dramatically contribute to my happiness.

But that doesn’t mean the government has the right to confine you, kill you or prevent you striving towards what you want.

Note the striving in that last one.

It just means that you should take reasonable care to keep them, and that if someone violates them in an illegal manner (murder, false arrest) they should be punished.

Note, btw, that you keeping those rights involves your striving towards them but does not require anyone to give them to you.  Because to have someone assure your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness by necessity means impairing another’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Cue the whining: but life needs food and shelter and health care. What if you don’t have those?  Shouldn’t a just society provide them?

What about liberty?  How free can you be when you spend nine to five at a job you hate?  Shouldn’t you just get whatever you need so you can be free?

What about the pursuit of happiness?  What if my happiness is creating mediocre art?  Shouldn’t others support me while I do it?

Um… what you see here is a difference between the American and the French revolutions.  The American revolution granted you life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness.  The French revolution granted you Equality, Fraternity and Liberty.  Whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.  What it mean in practice is that American liberties are hands off liberties.  “We won’t violate your rights to this, and you’re free to keep them if you can.  It is your right to strive to keep them, in other words.”  The French revolution guaranteed outcomes.  “You’ll be equal.  You’ll be free of all restraint.”  I have no idea how they planned to enforce fraternity, so I’m going to assume magic mushrooms or argot or something were involved.

The first one is attainable and it leads to freedom for individuals attaining what they can by their own efforts.  The second…  The second guarantees intrusive government any minute of the day into everyone’s life.   After all, HOW can you ensure everyone is equal, except by hobbling the ones who are faster in the race of life, expropriating anything anyone saves, and generally trying to turn humans into widgets.

And making sure everyone has free health care, means enslaving doctors.  Let me tell you, as the mother of a medical student that the US has quite possibly the craziest and definitely the most expensive health care training in the world.  All the idiots who think that doctors should be paid like teachers fail to get the difference between 4 years undergrad study for teachers, and 4 years undergrad study, plus often these days to make it into medschool, a Master’s (which fortunately son didn’t need.)  Plus four years post graduate training at exorbitant cost in both money and effort, plus seven to ten years internship paid at close to minimum wage.  Now take someone who has devoted ten to fourteen years of his life to becoming a healthcare provider, and pay him like a teacher.  Not only will you see them quitting in droves, you’ll see suicides skyrocket more than they already are among that group.  (And yes, other countries have this.  In Portugal at least MDs get 7 years, total.  Straight out highschool.  I know other countries are closer to Portugal than the US. And still they don’t get paid like teachers.)

Then comes the ridiculous, like, you know, you can’t live without food, so farmers should be enslaved to producing food for you.

Oh, yeah, and your happiness requires companionship, so we get to providing you with someone to give you that and sex, right?

But, you say, the dems actually only want people to have INSURANCE, not health care.

Right.  And let me tell you, the problems with that start with the fact that there aren’t enough doctors to cover everyone who will go to the doctor for a hangnail or because they are bored.  No?  Well, I’m not sure what the arrangement is, but apparently Obamacare covers ambulance rides for seniors COMPLETELY.  This means that when son was a scribe in ER, they spent half the night with the regulars.  I.e. elderly people (the neighborhood we used to live in was more than 50% Catholic and Jewish grandmothers, very useful to keep an eye on the kids) who were bored and called with symptoms requiring an ambulance right then, when what they actually needed was company, a cup of hot chocolate and a doughnut.

Everything the government gives for free introduces that kind of perverse incentive, and we really don’t have enough doctors for people who think they should go to the doctor for every sneeze.

The other stuff, the serious stuff, was already being taken care of.  Sure, it often means crushing bills for survivors.  But there are arrangements already in place for people who can’t pay.  I’ve seen people with cancer and no insurance get top flight treatment.  This is done by the hospitals, because doctors take treating people seriously. It’s why they put up with the bullshit needed to become doctors.  I know the type: not just my son but a lot of my fans would jeopardize their own lives to save others’.  I don’t get it (I’m one of those people who has a horror of illness, even my own.)  BUT it’s who they are. Just like I can’t help making up stories.  Healing the sick is something they were born to do. (Okay, not all of them, but a good number of them.)

So giving everyone insurance is just… well a way to enslave the tax payers to make sure people have a “Right” that not only isn’t natural but might be counterproductive or at least meaningless.  I mean, you can have a right to insurance all you want to.  But no one can make you magically find someone to treat you, when every doctor is busy with seniors taking a joyride to ER.

And yet you’ll be taking money for it from people who could use it to… oh, make sure their sons or daughters can become doctors.  You’ll be taking money from people who could afford to eat better with it, and not get sick.

You’ll be impoverishing others for a cosmetic “gain.”

This is what’s known as ignoring the gift and playing with the wrapper.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are gifts you bring with you at birth.  Unequal, sure, but we’re all unequal from the moment of birth. You have unique abilities and talents.  There is no way to make you equal to everyone else, except by reducing each person’s ability and capacity.  Because you can’t INCREASE someone’s capacity.  You can’t for instance make me into a ravishing skinny blond.  (Trust me, even without the blond part.  I’ve tried.)  OTOH you can’t give other people my relative facility with language.  Even very smart people.  Trust me, again, I tried.  I used to teach the stuff.

Meanwhile, ENSURING that you have Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is something no one can do.  There is no way to do it without enslaving someone else to provide you with these things.  Even if what you’re taking is 1/4 of a person’s life, that’s still slavery.  You do not have the right to take another person’s life, liberty or pursuit of happiness to pursue your own.  You can, sure, bargain for those, or pay for those, but not take them.  It has to be a mutually agreed contract, not an imposition by the state.

People who want everything provided for them are not at war with oppression.  They’re at war with reality.

We’re not like onto angels, who can get everything by thinking about it.  The benevolence of governments dictating you must have this or that — free health care, free food, free lodgings — is always a threat of force against those they force to provide you with those.

Which is why such pursuits always end in blood and mass graves, just like the French revolution.

Because humans are apes, and imperfect.  We are born with different wants, different needs, different talents, different weaknesses.

You want to give according to your ability and receive according to your talents?  Good.  This is the path of happiness.  But don’t expect the government or even those nearest or dearest to you to know what those abilities and needs are.  Hell, you might not know them yourself, when you start out.  A lot of the stammering on the road to maturity is that we have no clue who we are and what we can do, or what we NEED yet.

Humans are striving humans.  It is in strife and struggle you find yourself.  If you eliminate struggle from life, you’ve eliminated all reason to live.  This is why aristocrats and people in socialist regimes lose interest in life.

Things that are against reality can’t go on.  What can’t go on stops.

Meanwhile, striving to keep your natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is happiness in itself and will make you strong and productive.

Go out there and strive.