Archive | January, 2021

Maybe you’re just trying too hard.

21 Jan

I follow many people on Twitter, but one that always sticks out to me. She’s an indie author who likes to change her pseudonym every couple of months, and from the number of posts she makes on it, I think she’s trying too hard.

Personally, I love Natalie–that’s her actual name… or at least, her most consistent–but as she writes on so many different platforms and genres, she focuses on the strangest things. Maybe that’s just because she has a far different situation than me. I’m a fat middle-aged white father of teenagers in Arizona. She’s a handicapped black single woman in her 20’s in Indiana. So she has different priorities and concerns than I do.

There are plenty of authors with pseudonyms–take one of the most popular young adult authors–Shannon Messenger. It might be her real name, after all, it’s really hard to tell anymore… but I seriously doubt it. Same with Constantine Storm or P.N. Elrod or my personal favorite, Liam Hearn. “Liam” is actually a professor from Australia who didn’t want his academic research to get mixed up with fiction writing. I’m guessing Mr. Storm just wanted a cool name that would sell books. Shannon’s probably more worried about stalkers.

The sad truth is… I doubt it matters. If you’re worried about stalkers, I fear it’s not going to help. If someone really wants to find you in the digital age, it doesn’t take that long. Someone somewhere is going to slip and your actual location will appear. My favorite internet comedy group–yeah, I know exactly where their office is. One of my favorite authors–yeah, I know exactly where he lives. Why? Because they had to register themselves somewhere public… and that requires an mailing address. It took me all of five minutes. And no, I’m not going to tell you.

A name like “messenger” or “storm” grabs my attention on the bookshelf, sure, but I still haven’t bought any of their books. My kids bought her books and they demanded I read the first two. Still don’t like them, although they do get better, her young adult series simply isn’t for me. Duh. The ones who have something to protect I understand better–you have a reputation or one name works better than two authors. I personally like the guy who shortens his name from Jacob Holowach to Jacob Holo because it’s easier to say and sounds cooler. (Actually interviewed him about three or four years ago, before he co-wrote with David Weber.)

When writing romance novels, I did write under Adrienne Alexander, the name of a retired realtor in Chicago. I had this thought that romance readers want to see a woman’s name on it, but in the end, since none of them ever got published, it doesn’t matter.

Personally, I want to stroke my ego, have my name on the book. So yes, Marcus Johnston is my actual name. It’s generic enough that a Google search comes up with several other people (including a photographer in Scotland) before you get to me. You’re more likely to find Marcus Johnson than the one with the “t.” Believe it or not, I actually change my name professionally (Marc Johnston, M.Ed) because it gets me more work. Why? That’s a post for another day.

What do you think? Do pseudonyms have any purpose in the modern day? Do you like them? Do you hate them? Let me know in the comments below!

“The Future’s Disposable”

20 Jan

“Yeah, so are you, chombatta.”

I love cyberpunk the genre–I’ve read all of William Gibson’s books, I own the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG book, and love anything that’s even tangentially related to the aesthetic. So what is it about the dark future that attracts me?

The obvious answer is right place, right time. I grew up in the 80’s, went to high school in the early 90’s and Cyberpunk is very much a subgenre of its era. Johnny Mnemonic (the short story) and Neuromancer (the novel) that Gibson wrote came out in 1981 and 1984. We were still reeling from the 70’s: oil crisis, unemployment, disco. Then came the conservative ascendency, which for liberal writers was the ultimate sign the world was going to hell. (The comic book V for Vendetta was a response to Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power.) It was depressing. It didn’t take much to a consider a future that was even worse.

So growing up as a middle school teen, imagine the effect that something like the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG had on me back in 1987. Guns, chicks, tech–hell, yeah! Plus it was wrapped up in a sense of humor that told you that everyone was in on a joke. If the world’s crap, after all, you might as well have fun.

Of course, the authors didn’t get it quite right–you never do. He predicted the internet, but Gibson was sure it was going to be virtual reality. No flying cars, but I think we all realize what a clusterf#$* that would actually be. The drugs have changed, and if we don’t all have implants, we have prosthetics that are just as amazing.

I think it’s the aesthetic–the technopunk style. The emphasis is “style over substance.” Do you look cool while you’re go through your daily grind. Of course, the characters aren’t grinding… they’re petty criminals, they’re homeless, they’re the antiheros your English teachers talked about. Maybe that’s part of the appeal. Anyone can be a hero of the story–they’re in a worse situation than you and they’re having an adventure! Why not you?

So as I listen to the Cyberpunk 2077 soundtrack this morning, I’m feeling great, jamming through the dawn. I’d like to buy the video game–bugs and all–but I honestly don’t enjoy those type of games. I’d rather watch someone else play it. However, they’ve used all the details from the 2020 RPG that I played that I’m hit by a beautiful wave of nostalgia. It might be a while before “I’m chipping in.”

Do you like Cyberpunk? Do you find it silly? Is it just a different taste of dystopian literature? Let me know in the comments below!

My Old Backpack

19 Jan

I’m saying goodbye to an old friend–my trusty gray backpack. It seems silly to make such a connection to an inanimate object, but as my wife says, “Never take the love of an inanimate object for granted.”

It’s one of my wife’s maxims. Certainly that was the case when my kids were younger. My son Asher had a blue blanket that he clung to so much he ripped it to shreds, but at 2 years old, he still held onto those shreds when we went on an airplane ride. Unfortunately, being two, he tended to throw his stuff around (actually, he still does), and then we couldn’t find it when we had to leave the aircraft. He cried for hours and it took a while.

Mind you, my kids still have their stufties (when did that become the accepted term?) and sleep with them every night. But although they’d feel sadness at their departure, it wouldn’t be a big crying fit.

My backpack and I have shed blood together, we’ve travelled over many miles, and hauled my weight all across Arizona. I had to order it special because most backpacks can’t hold my colossal 18″ screen laptop. (This is not a humble brag–my job has a lot of video production, so it was either get a gaming computer or an Apple. Since I don’t like Apple computers, there ya go.) It didn’t just hold my computer–it held everything. The mouse, the power plug, the flash drives, the spare change I liberated for extra cash, the plastic forks which come in handy at the strangest of times, and the paper copy of Sudoku when you don’t wanna use the app on your phone.

It was with me when the brakes fails on my bicycle, went caroming into the pavement, and broke my shoulder. So when one of its zippers broke, I didn’t abandon it. I just adjusted how and what I carried. However, time is the great equalizer, and soon it was two, then three zippers broken. I still carried this backpack through even when the main reason for using it–the laptop pouch–broke its zipper. I looped a bit of rope with a lark’s head knot and kept it in place.

When the last zipper broke, though, that was the end. It simply couldn’t hold anything. For a while, I just shoved my stuff into a supermarket bag and carried it, but I finally accepted I needed a new backpack. So I bought the exact same model, so I knew exactly where to shove everything, but even when I got it in the mail… it still took a week before I deigned to open the package and transfer everything. It seemed wrong to do that to my backpack, but my backpack understood–it couldn’t keep working.

I wish I could have given it a Viking burial, but that would have taken me getting some gasoline, hiring some reenactors, and give the speech from The 13th Warrior. But in the end, I simply dumped it in the garbage. I’m sure its successor will serve me just as well, and considering it’s silent right now, I’m sure that means he agrees. 🙂

Do you take the love of an inanimate object for granted? Do you treat your car with love or is it simply a tool? Is the keyboard you’re using have a certain style or is it interchangeable? Let me know in the comments below!

The Tale of Violet

18 Jan

After yesterday’s post, instead of bloviating about my theories of homelessness in America, I thought it would be better to tell a story that happened to me. This involves a nice lady I’m going to call Violet.

Violet is somewhere in her 50’s and spent her life off and on homeless. The times when she has not been homeless, she has always lived with someone else–her boyfriend, husband, girlfriend–never on her own. Apart from being VERY fat and needing a scooter to get around (only in the West are poor people fat), she has never held a job in the five years I have known her, possibly because of her multiple medical conditions, but possibly because it would endanger her social security benefits.

Violet is a very nice gal, but simultaneously, she is also the most infuriating person I have ever met. It seems hard to balance the two, but the best definition for her I’ve heard is “needy.” Violet is “needy,” not just financially, but emotionally. You can teach her how to do something and it won’t stick. I don’t think she does it on purpose, but she would rather have you do it, so she would have someone to talk to while you do it. And she loves to talk... God, does she love to talk.

I never asked her history, but you couldn’t avoid most of it, since she loved to talk. She grew up in rural Oklahoma and claimed to be descended from a Cherokee princess. Of course, being half-Irish, she also claimed descent from the fairies, so if you can be one princess, why not two? She got pregnant rather young, and ended up having three kids, of which I only ever met one. At some point, she moved to Texas, possibly with husband number two, where she raised kid number two… who doesn’t talk to her. I have no idea what happened to kid number one, and she never mentioned them, so I’m guessing adoption.

Somewhere between husband two and three, she lost custody of her kids, and moved to Phoenix where her sister lives. Then she ended up on the street. Then after a year, she found a program to get her off the streets, which may or may not have been instituted by the LDS church (she is a Mormon, I’m guessing mostly because missionaries love to talk). However, the moment I finally understood Violet was when her daughter moved to town.

Violet asked me to pick her her daughter, let’s call her Periwinkle, at the bus station along with all her worldly possessions and her toddler daughter. No problem. When I picked up Peri, she was very grateful, and I loaded her into my car. Instead of going to her mom’s house, she asked to stop downtown, because it had been years since she been there. Okay, sure. After checking out the fountains, she asked if she could just stop and register at the county shelter, so she could get her benefits started in this state. Okay, I dropped her off and waited… for two #(*$*$@ hours! Peri didn’t call me to explain the delay and I didn’t have her number. Nor did her mom. So I’m steaming, but I keep my calm when she finally arrives, and she asked to be dropped off at her aunt’s house. Not her mom’s house, her aunt’s house. So I did and never saw her again, even when Peri called me to ask for an additional ride later, because I was done with her.

For me, that explained everything about Violet. She and her daughter didn’t talk to each other. Peri turned to her aunt first, and after a couple months exhausting her, moved in with her baby daddy. When he got exhausted after a couple months, Peri moved in with Violet and her husband. And when they got exhausted, she moved in with a new boyfriend. This I heard from Violet and her husband later–and that relationship broke up after a year and a half. Violet is living with a girlfriend who seems about as needy as she is.

What does this have to do with homelessness? Well, if you’re in a jam, and need help getting back to your feet, you can count on your family/friends/church. But if you exhaust your resources, and you’re not getting back to your feet, you end up on the street. To me, that explains about a third of the homeless population–people who have exhausted their resources and have no one to take care of them. Another third is crazy–mental illness or drug abuse, take your pick–but they simply can’t function in normal society. The final third have not exhausted them and are simply transitioning back to low-income.

It’s the final third you can help; the ones who want to be helped. Not taken care of, helped back to a normal life. I personally support Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, because they help homeless families. Shelters are segregated by gender, so if you have a teenage boy with his mom, they have to be separated… and boy, is that scary. They also provide programs to get them back on their feet, and having visited their building, I’m confident they are doing a great job.

What do you think? Do you think my theory of homelessness is way off? Do you have a similar story? Let me know in the comments below!

“Maybe they don’t want to be found.”

17 Jan

In 2018, National Crime Information Center entered in 612,846 missing persons cases–1800 people a day. 80% of those return or are found after 3 days, but most don’t… and it’s not a crime to go missing. So if the cops can’t help, who do you turn to? The Salvation Army.

The LAPD Adult Missing Persons Unit (yes, they have an entire staff dedicated to this) points to the Salvation Army as a resource to find missing people. This was a surprising discovery to me as well–you don’t think of the Salvation Army as being an investigation arm–but it didn’t take long for me to figure out why. The “army” is very active among the homeless population, and as a “holiness congregation,” they take Jesus’ message to feed the poor very seriously. Which is why their churches are always in the worst parts of town–because that’s where their mission field is.

Despite the uniforms and the military organization, the Salvation Army is a just a Christian denomination, based on a quote by their founders back in the late 19th Century. Ministers are “commissioned officers,” starting off at the rank of lieutenant while in seminary, and then becoming captains for most of their career. A minister with long service might become a major, but colonels and above are limited to administrative roles (what most other denominations would call bishops).

Now why would the Army be able to help when the cops couldn’t? Well, if you can’t afford a private investigator (which is what the LAPD suggests first), they’re free. Since they deal with the homeless, they’re probably the best resource in tracking homeless populations, and they have a century of experience to back them up. Even so, the Southern District of the SA (Salvation Army) says that out of the 2,000 inquiries a year, they open 600 cases, and locate 350 people on average. Even if you add up all four districts within the US, that seems like a drop in the bucket, but remember… they do this for free, so they don’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to this.

Now the SA gets a lot of flack from the low-income and homeless community–“the Starvation Army,” I’ve heard one person call them. Yet I find that people tend to resent anyone helping them–they feel guilty, so they lash out in anger–which in my opinion, explains why a lot of the homeless I’ve met are homeless. However, let’s flip the numbers. If we assume 80% of missing persons are found come back on their own, and you deduct the SA’s efforts, that still leaves over a hundred thousand people a year.

That’s a lot of people who don’t want to be found, and that assumes that every person who goes missing as a report filed. Criminal justice professors teach that half of all crimes go unreported, so that means it might be closer to a quarter million a year, and that doesn’t even include underage children. I could write another post on my theories on homelessness, but suffice it to say, in a technological world where people are so interconnected, there’s a lot of people who we simply don’t see.

What do you think? Is the Salvation Army doing the Lord’s work or just getting in the way? Why do you think people don’t want to be found? Let me know in the comments below!

The Silent Scripture

16 Jan

Those who care about such things like to point out there’s a lack of women in the Bible… or least, named women. After all, why does Zerubbabel get a mention, but not Z’s wife? The reasons given for this are… rather surprising.

I was inspired by reading another blogger going through a man and a woman from the bible every day and giving a little blurb on it. My first thought was, “Gee, he’s going to run out of women soon,” but that got me thinking, “Why are there fewer women mentioned in the Bible?” There are several theories.

Women are Busy with Real Jobs

Serach, wife of Zerubbabel, is too busy taking care of Z’s four sons and three daughters to bother going out into the desert to listen to angels. The founder of Chassidism, the Baal Shem Tov, was able to run around 18th Century Poland with his pack of disciple rabbis because his wife was running the inn and raising the kids. The Prophet Mohammad (Praise Be Upon Him) married a rich older woman, which gave him the time to devote to listening to the Angel Gabriel.

Or to give a better example, I read a fictionalization about the white mother of Naduah, the last principal chief of the Comanches. Two ladies were talking about a man giving himself a new name of power after going on a vision quest. The main character asks her friend, “Why haven’t you changed your name?” To which she bawks, “What would I need a new name? Oh, spirit, give me the power to sew better!” Then she breaks out laughing at the idea.

In this theory, we don’t read about Serach taking care of Z’s kids and household because it doesn’t make the headlines.

The Bible Doesn’t Waste Space

The reason given for why there are endless genealogies in the Bible is because they are important to letting us know where we come from. So even if Zerubbabel shows up for only one line, it’s important to indicate how his descendants relate to him and his ancestors. You’d think if they bothered to add “and he had many sons and daughters,” they could bother to add Serach’s name as well.

Those third/fourth wave feminists who feel the need to call it “hxstory” or “herstory” (even those “history” is a Greek word, dummy) would point out the marginalization of women, and they have some argument. After all, when the Hebrews walk through the Red Sea, the “Song at the Sea” (Exodus 15) is most of the chapter. Miriam is specifically mentioned for two verses (Ex 15:20-22) of this rather poetic retelling of what just happened, so I don’t buy this argument. However, if I wanted to defend the theory, I could say, “Miriam just said it better and shorter.” Which gets to the answer I prefer…

Later Editors Excised Women’s Stories

What people often forget is that like most pieces of ancient literature, such as Homer’s Iliad, the Bible was only passed down through oral tradition. It wasn’t written down. So when King Josiah comes to power, and his decides to cause a reformation of the religion, the new king’s eager priest supporters want a standardized text. The problem is that… doesn’t exist. So they start this stuff down, and if you believe the German critics, there are three different stories being told–the Priests (P), those who called God “Yahweh” (J–because Germans don’t have a Y in their alphabet), and those who call God “Elohim” (E). Then Deuteronomy is all one author (D) because it was “found” during Josiah’s reign and has a lot of stuff regarding kings. Fancy that.

This is just one example–even when you have a standardized text, the simple act of rewriting it again and again leads to a lot of mistakes. Any modern translation of the New Testament has many footnotes that say “some texts say X.” The Koran also was an oral history, and if you believe it was originally written down by the Prophet’s scribe Zayd ibn Thabit, it still had to be codified during the reign of the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, twenty years after the Prophet’s death.

So you’re a priest who is trying to avoid hand cramp, you’ve got this Song at the Sea you’re writing down, and now you’re trying to figure out how to cram in Miriam’s song. You can’t leave it out–too many people know it. So you just combine them, but because you’re a guy, you don’t think it’s THAT important. This theory implies that women’s stories were far more common before codification and they just got left out… or the ones we have radically shortened.

Okay, I’ve bloviated on as much as I should on this topic–some people have dedicated their whole lives to studying this. What do you think? Do you like one of my theories or do you have a better one? Let me know in the comments below!

Okay, so… that happened.

15 Jan

I’ve been asked to review many books before, but children’s books aren’t necessarily my forte. On the other hand, I’m a father of two and have read MANY children’s books before, so I’m gonna call myself an expert. Let’s dive into Honeycake.

Honeycake is a evil child with special magical powers who threatens to destabilize the world economy by… no, of course not. Honeycake is our protagonist’s nickname, whose actual name is Nala, a mixed-race girl who goes with grandma and Uncle JD to give her leftover toys to charity. I mention that she’s mixed-race, not because I care, but because it’s the first thing you notice on page… two? (Could be four–children’s books are formatted with maximum space for small readers.) The child is black, the grandma is white; since the author (Medea Kalantar) is mixed-race herself, she’s basing it on her own life.

Okay, let’s move on, the art is amazing! There are so many children’s books where the art is either sub-par or they had a professional illustrator have to come in and save the day. This is done by the author herself and it is excellent. Since there is so precious little text in children’s books, this makes me move my review WAY up, because I give great respect to illustrators. After all, in a kid’s book, the art is over half the material.

Now I’m pretty cynical, and there’s not a lot of text in this book, so the author gets to the message rather quickly. “Talk less, smile more.” (blink) Wait, that’s Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Let me have the book tell it: “When you give a someone a nice smile, it makes them feel better,” said Grandma. (Grandma might need an editor there, or it’s supposed to be a delightful brogue, but it’s a kid’s book–so who cares?!)

So when Honeycake uses her special magical power of smiling, you show kindness, and spread sunshine wherever you go. Okay–good message.

Going through the visit, Nala’s experience reinforces her special magical power of kindness, and she learns that she can use her power to spread kindness wherever she goes. Nice. Although, having the stars around the phrase “special magical powers,” puts a ™ in my mind, as if the author trademarked it. 🙂

There’s not much else to review, because it’s only 36 pages, and half of them are art, so I’ll just say this is a great children’s novel. It feels about right for a 3-6 year old and it’ll probably have good repeat value. It’s got a story, a relatable character, so I think it’s worth getting. As much as I gushed about the art earlier, she does repeat many of the same pictures, so I’m gonna dock her a star in my review, especially because the best children’s books are those that are a little quirky and the message is not so blatant. But this is good and I’m sticking to it.

What are your favorite children’s books–the ones that are heavy on pictures and not much on text? Let me know in the comments section below!

Making you Book Text Look Professional

14 Jan

Today’s blog post is brought to you by frequent contributor Editor Ed, a small press publisher, author, and my dear friend. You can read his latest short story compilation, Sorcery Against Caesar, in the Amazon store.

Why Is Looking Professional Important? Because the Gatekeepers are gone, and readers know it. In the days before self-publishing, only big publishing companies could afford to print books. That meant every novel in the bookstore has been vetted by experienced editors, formatted properly by industry professionals, and met at least minimum standards of quality.

Those days are gone, and there are no quality controls on the books found online anymore. The unpleasant truth is that Amazon today is full of terrible self-published novels that twenty years ago would never have made it past the slush pile at a big publishing company.

Readers know this, and don’t want to risk spending money on an awful book (like this one Marcus reviewed). Consequently, they tend to shy away from self-published novels, automatically assuming—fairly or unfairly—that they’re badly written. After all, if it’s really a good book (so the thinking goes), it would have been picked up by a real publishing company… right?

The self-published author’s saving grace, however, is that readers don’t really know if “Excelsior Press” is a legitimate-but-obscure indie publisher with an office and a dozen employees, or an amateur high school student with a laptop. I suspect most shoppers assume it’s a professional small press unless you give them a reason not to—and that’s where looking professional comes in.

If your paperback looks amateurish, you risk losing sales. Although readers may not be able to consciously identify what exactly makes the text look professional, they’ll know when it just looks wrong.

So here are four tips on how to make your paperback interior look as professional as possible. They may sound obvious, but I’ve seen various amateur self-publishers make each of these mistakes.

Include Front Matter

Front matter is the stuff in tiny print at the beginning of the book that people rarely read—but will notice its absence, since it’s a clue the book isn’t professionally formatted. At the very least, include the following information at the bottom of your title page:

  • A Copyright Notice in this format: “Copyright © YEAR by YOUR NAME”
  • A similar Copyright Notice for any cover art or interior art, if a different person from above
  • The ISBN number (or, if you don’t have one, the assigned ASIN (Amazon), Google ID, etc.)
  • The name and city of the publisher in this format: “Publisher Name, City, State, Country”

Use a Serif Font

Nothing screams “amateur” like a novel printed in non-standard fonts like Comic Sans, Handwriting, or Gothic fonts. Professionally published fiction almost always uses a serif font like Times New Roman, Georgia, Baskerville, or Garamond (Amazon’s preferred font). So unless you’re doing Kindle/ePub versions only, use a Serif font.

Single-Space Your Text

The body text in professionally published fiction is almost always single-spaced. Double-spaced or even 1.5-spaced text is a red flag to readers that the novel was self-published by an amateur.

Indent Paragraphs

Professionally published fiction indents the first line of each paragraph, and doesn’t have a blank line between paragraphs. Text on the intent, however, usually doesn’t indent paragraph, preferring to separate them by a blank line instead (like this blog post). When the text in a novel is formatted this way, though, it’s another sign the book was self-published, and thus might scare readers away.

Only Use One Space Between Sentences

While two spaces is becoming more common and acceptable, especially in internet content like blogs and social media, the publishing industry still uses only one space between sentences.

There’s a LOT more I could say about presenting your book text in a professional-looking way. For example, there are some guidelines that apply only to paperbacks and not ebooks (and vice versa!), but I’ve run out of space. If you found this useful, say so in the comments. If I forgot something you think it’s important, let me know in the comments as well!

Hints, Allegations, and Things Unsaid

13 Jan

I hear a lot of commercials for podcasts, but the phrase “Be the plant-strong person you were meant to be” stuck in my head. We resolve to be better people, but I’ve been wondering lately, even if we succeed, what do we gain?

In the end, we all want to feel better. For example, I need to lose weight. I know exactly what I can do to lose weight. I also know that my body will plateau twenty pounds lighter and will not move, despite how strict I keep to my diet. That means I will still be fifty pounds overweight at best. Why am I denying myself joy if the end result is only fractionally better?

For me, if I could get down to my high school senior year weight of 180 (at the edge of healthy BMI and I look lanky even then), then I would feel like it would be worth it. I would look good, be able to get results from exercise, and wear thinner clothes. But that’s not the end result–the end result is slightly slimmer, slightly better, and denying myself joy through food and drink.

I guess that I have to question whether or not something brings me joy (now I’m sounding like Marie Condo). My wife has been on my case for my drinking habits, and I’ve resolved not to drink around the house, but only when I go to the bar. I’ll admit, that did help–I certainly wasn’t getting any benefit from being day drunk. At first, it was to fight the boredom, and now, I don’t really need that anymore. Not that I’m not still bored, but I realized that I wasn’t getting joy from that alternative.

The main problem I face is that–in the end–my life will still be roughly the same. Whether I’m fatter or thinner doesn’t improve or decrease my life experience. I’m still a middle-aged semi-bald man working from home with a wife and two kids. I’m not about to hit the dating scene, I’m not run a marathon, or ride in a century race.

However, improving my relationships will improve my life. My wife and I have agreed to write a list of things we like to do separately and together. I always try to do things my kids want to do, and I often drag them to do stuff I want to do. I should invite more people to Friday dinner. If I want better friendships, I should be willing to do more for people. That seems like a better resolution and something that will actually improve my life.

There’s a reason why when we get older, we make less resolutions. But I think this is a good one: make better relationships. What do you think? Have you got a better resolution? A simpler one? What works for you? Let me know in the comments below!

Biography with Submission

12 Jan

Phrases you read over and over again sometimes strike me funny–like “Biography with Submission,” which sounded like an erotic novel where a librarian gives into her dark desires. So many things out of context!

I wasn’t surprised when I went on Amazon and found, not one, not two, but seven different erotica based around librarians. I imagine there are lots of sexually frustrated librarians in the world, and not all of them male. 🙂 Often times this happens to me, where I’ll read some boring phrase and think, “Gee, that sounds funny,” and my mind will go off on a brilliant tangent.

“Client Acquisition” – A corporate headhunter is tired of getting rejected for job offers with his company, and in order to make the quota, decides to take things into his own hands. Kidnapping the prospective client, there’s only one way out of this nightmare… take the job!

Hybrid Publishing” – A struggling publisher decides they want to grow the perfect author. However, their experiment gets out of control–can they still keep the money while keeping his perfect author in check?

This is a fun story generating exercise–in fact, my next story project is based off my wife misreading one of the titles on our bookshelf. She saw Death in the Age of Steam and read “Death in the Age of Seitan.” After a big laugh, the more I got into the idea. What if there was a future in which eating meat not only became unacceptable, but outlawed? So I have the vision of a police detective in some rural area whose on the beat of the deer murderers. I’m still in the world building stage, and I’m also apprehensive about writing two sci-fi mystery novels in a row, but the idea intrigues me.

By the way, Death in the Age of Steam is a short story compilation including a story by Editor Ed, one of my frequent blog contributors, which is really good. There’s also another good story at the end, but it’s cyberpunk not steampunk, but the others… eh, I can take or leave it. But I’d recommend reading Underneath the Holy City. If you want more of Editor Ed, check out Predatory Practices!

What do you do to generate story ideas? What helps you build up your imagination? Let me know in the comments below!

American Legion Post 138

Damn Straight 138!

Tales from a broken doll

Short stories, poetry, musings and rambling.

Crack On

We have this treasure in cracked pots

Poteci de dor

"Adevărul, pur şi simplu, e rareori pur şi aproape niciodată simplu" - Oscar Wilde

Struggle Street

Mental Health and Well Being

O Miau do Leão

Uma pequena voz da Flandres

A Life's Journey

Little things matter 🌼


A dreamer, who loves to muse her world and penned it down✍️ Each words in this blog lay close to my soul🧡

Harley Reborn

♠️Rip It Up & Start Again♥️

Talkin' to Myself

I'm listening

Nature Whispering

From Sunset to Dawn

Riverside Peace

The Official Website of Australian Writer Chrissy Siggee

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

How to feel better

Another year, a decade or a lifetime - sooth your body eternally

Looking to God

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33)


We may see things that we don't even imagine.

Decaf White

No sugar