Monthly Archives: April 2014

No Longer Free, April 21-25, 2014

No Longer Free

Fighting Back

Desire Liberty. Seek Freedom. Make Independence.

The Chief, Chapter 4

(Previously: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3)

“You promised this would be an easy job, no mistakes. You drew up the plan, picked the crew, laid out everything. And you failed, you fuckwit.”

“The Chief Justice was in just in the same place, at the same time. It was an unavoidable coincidence tha-”

“That what? That he had the same height and build as the mark? That he just happened to take the same path to work every day? That he tended to be in the same place at the same time EVERY FUCKING WORKDAY?”

“I told you, I would get the job done, and I will. So who are you to complain, huh? I thought you said the Chief Justice was ‘that self-confident ass who couldn’t put together the intellect to blow his own nose’. Wasn’t he on one of your lists? Didn’t you want him out of the way as well? The way I see it, I did you a favor.”

“The only favor you did was to fuck up our entire operation. And for that, you won’t be getting your payment.” [beep]


“Did Robin just flip me off?” Newsome asked his secretary, Rachel Robinson.

“Yes, and I encouraged him to do so. Here, sign these, initial these, and review these, then send them over to Andrew for review before his press conference,” she said as she dumped pile after pile of papers into his hands.

“You know, I like you better when you’re not doing crap like this. I’ve got agendas and speeches and … other stuff to review, so unless it’s illegal for you to forge my signature on papers no one else is ever going to see again, I’m going to hand this back to you and tell you to hold off for a couple hours, okay?” Travis gave the stacks back to Rachel, turned and entered his office. The TV was still on, and still running nonstop incoherence interference. He reached for the remote, but paused with his thumb over the power button.

“… militia types, who haven’t lost any love for this justice? Aren’t the militias and freemen and those types prime suspects in this assassination?”

“Well, yes, they are, and I would -”

“Do you think they were responsible for this murder? Because that’s what we’re talking about, isn’t it? A political murder in broad daylight?” Travis had never been impressed with the right-wing political news station, but at least they brought in interesting guests, even if their hosts were interrupting morons.

“I can’t speculate on what or who the government has under suspicion at this point,” said the first guest, who sported a beard and whose title card said he was ‘EX-SF OFFICER’. “But I can tell you that I would put the militias very near the top of my own list, if I were investigating.”

“Brian, lemme interject here for a minute,” said another guest, giving the host a taste of his own medicine. “I think you’re both way off base with this line of thought, I think-”

“Way off base? Off base how? We know that militias are all about state sovereignty, and states rights, down with authority, anything Federal equals bad, right?” Brian Tudder, the show host, responded. He was fiercely territorial with his opinions, and had a reputation for defending them no matter what the cost to his dignity.

“Remember, this justice was the one who ruled last year, by himself, that the states had a right to ignore federal laws that directly violated the Constitution.””

“No no no, that doesn’t matter because one, he was wrong, and two, even if he was right, he was still in the minority, all by himself, so his opinion didn’t matter anyway.” Brian and the unidentified opposition guest droned on, talking over and alongside each other without hardly taking a pause to breathe.

Oh, why not, there were plenty of good arguments out there, and plenty of reason to push the ball down the field, as the President had implied earlier.

“Rachel?” Travis called from his office. “Rachel, find Andrew, tell him I’ll have some new talking points for him in about fifteen minutes, and that he needs to incorporate them into the President’s remarks.”

Writing Tip: Writer groups

There is nothing I’ve come to appreciate more since I started writing fiction than a writer group.

In measured doses.

Writing groups can be wonderful for encouraging each other to reach your goals and edit your work. They can also be massive sources of distraction and frustration, because just as you may have to tell your family that you need space to write, you may need to tell your writing buddies that too. Writers can be social too, despite their solitary, introverted tendencies – particularly when the plot line isn’t coming to you. I’ve attended write-ins for NaNoWriMo where they only way to get some writers to shut up was to constantly have a word war going on.

But when they are motivated, either by a goal they set or a carrot you dangle in front of them, they can be very well suited to helping you achieve your goals. And of course, the motivation works both ways. Each writer sharpens the other’s writing, especially when you let go of your little baby and admit that it needs some help.

There is an inherent trepidation when you do this, much like what a parent experiences when they first give their child into the hands of a babysitter. Then again, a parent can bring legal action against a babysitter who harms a child, but a writer has no such recourse when a fellow writer suggests it would be best if the eight-page exposition on the virtues of [fill in the blank] get cut.

This is where I would post a picture of Ayn Rand if I wanted to make a point about her writing, but I don’t, and I think you get the point anyway.

So find a writing group and leverage them to strengthen your writing. Just don’t be a taker without being a giver. Value for value, and all that.

Free Book Day!

BirthdayCandle

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday Scott Philipson*
Happy birthday to you

It’s Scott’s birthday, but you get the presents. Today only, the Kindle edition of The Dragonslayers Volume 1 is available for free at Amazon. Go download it, then go tell your friends!

* Yes, today is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and yes, that is deliberate. Can’t give away more than that because as River Song says – spoilers

No Longer Free, April 14-18, 2014

No Longer Free

Fighting Back

Also, earlier this week there was a report that Jews in the Ukraine were being given flyers and told to register with the Russian government trying to take over eastern Ukraine. The next day came a report that this was just a rumor, or at the very least a government-doesn’t-know-who’s-doing-this situation.

Regardless, the proper way to deal with such a threat (and I’m a bit surprised that Jews in eastern Europe don’t practice this already) is to produce a pistol and stick it in the face of the one who tells you to register with the government. Either that or the phrase “never again” has a previously unnoticed asterisk after it.

Desire Liberty. Seek Freedom. Make Independence.

The Chief, Chapter 3

(Chapter 1 Chapter 2)

“Hello?” William was getting tired of answering the phone.

“William, oh, thank goodness you’re alive. I saw the news on Fox and saw how it was so close to where you live so I just had to call and see if you were alright and if you heard anything or saw anything or -” For not the first time in his life, William wanted to hang up on his mother. She had a tendency to run on and not give an opportunity to respond to her many questions, which meant he found himself interrupting her quite often.

He had already fielded calls from most of his family and wanted to hang up on her, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. He knew she loved him, and just wanted to make sure he was alright, but the temptation was strong, so he chose the diplomatic way out. “Mom, I have to go. I’m alright, but I saw the whole thing and have to talk to the police. I love you,” and before she could respond he tapped the end call button. Immediately he turned the ringer off and looked over at the police officer taking statements.

Somehow he had found himself on the inside of the police tape, which meant that he was constantly being asked what he was doing, then told to stay where he was. It was as if the police didn’t know who he was or what to do with him until they got to the box on their checklist that said “talk to witnesses and take statements”. He felt like just another cog in the machine, waiting to be turned.

He turned his attention to the crowd, who was pointing at and photographing the outline where the Chief Justice had drawn his last breath. The regular press was there too, snapping away, and one of their photos had made it onto the Drudge Report half an hour earlier. You could see William’s foot in the lower right corner, easily identified by the Converse sneaker.

William’s gaze went back and forth over the crowd, taking it all in. Most were staring in some combination of shock, horror, disbelief, or incredulity. He stopped and watched one man in particular, dressed in a business suit, staring at the outline and the bloodstain. He could be anybody, but it occurred to William that he had been there for some time. He pulled up the photo on Drudge, and sure enough, the man hadn’t moved for at least half an hour. He even wore the same expression on his face as in the photo, shock at the spectacle before him.

He’s connected, William thought. Then he noticed the odd things – his hair was the same color as the Chief Justice, and had the same hairline, halfway back along the dome of the skull. He was about the same build and height. The eyes were deeper set, and the nose was sharper, but at a glance he could be mistaken for the deceased. William noted that his tie and lapels had been dampened, as if he had spilled something on them.

Like tears.

“Okay, bud, I’m Officer Maddox, and this is Special Agent Atkinson of the Secret Service. You saw all this?”

William decided to keep an eye on the man in the suit, just in case the police didn’t get to him. He watched the weeping man as he answered the questions from the two government investigators, keeping him in sight as much as possible.

Character Interview: Olivia Romano, MD

  • Why did you become a doctor, and why did you choose oncology?
    I learned early on that I had a knack for making people feel better. I don’t want to say it was destiny, because I’m not sure I believe in that, but I never really seriously considered any other career field. Oncology because … reasons.
  • What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to face in your professional career?
    There was a colleague, Michael Shensen. He’d spent fifteen years or so in medicine as an oncologist, and was something of a mentor – no, he was my mentor, for a very long time. Dealt with pediatric oncology, which is by far the most emotionally brutal thing you can do in medicine. Anyway, he learned he had liver cancer. Stage IV. Missed all the warning signs because you’re taught as a doctor to not diagnose yourself or your family members, and he missed it. [wipes away a tear] Anyway, he put a bullet in his head the day after he got the diagnosis.
    I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been, to see your teacher end his tutelage so abruptly.
    I won’t lie, it was tough. Definitely the most difficult thing I’ve ever seen.
  • What does a typical day look like to you?
    Start too early, drink too much coffee, paperwork, more paperwork. Rounds with the med school students, more paperwork. Lunch gets squeezed in there somewhere, usually right about the time I’m working on my research. More paperwork, then rounds with the residents. Paperwork, at least one meeting with a patient per day, more usually two or three, then dinner with a side of paperwork, and eventually bed.
  • What do you want for your patients more than anything else (except healing from their cancers)?
    That their family relationships be restored. A lot of times cancer takes an emotional toll on the families and friends that is greater than the emotional toll on the patient. Often the patient resolves him or herself to their fate, but the family most often has more difficulty. Sometimes they turn ugly and vindictive, other times they turn inward and introspective – they appear cold or cruelly detached. They hurt just as much, but often they don’t know how to talk about their pain.
  • How do you relax?
    I like to read, which sounds crazy given all the paperwork I just talked about, but as long as its light and meaningless it helps me get my mind off work. And I’ve recently taken up gardening, so yeah, there’s that.
  • What do you want to do that hasn’t been done yet?
    I want to find the cure to at least one cancer that’s plagued us for a while. That doesn’t sound like much, but since they all operate in similar ways, finding the key to one might turn out to be a skeleton key that unlocks all of them. I figure I should aim for the moon and if I miss, at least I’m headed for the stars.
  • How clear is your desk, and how clear is your signature?
    Neither is clear, not at all. At. All.
  • Any last minute health tips?
    Go for a jog, or at least a walk. Don’t be afraid of salad instead of a burger. Unless its the chicken Caesar from the hospital cafeteria. Be afraid of that one. Very afraid.

Other Things: Library organization

Today is Tax Day, the despised anti-holiday of every American, on which one’s self-indictment of tax liability (an indictment for which an error of omission or commission is punishable by law) must be filed with the government. This indictment is applicable to all Americans, for all income of any type whatsoever earned in any locale and for any amount. I filed my own indictment last night, and who knows – that may be used as evidence against me at some future date in a tax court, where I will be forced to prove my innocence instead of the prosecution being forced to prove my guilt.

But this post isn’t about taxes, or government (mis)spending. It’s about library organization. Seriously. See? It says so right in the title.
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Writing Tip: set a goal

You know what keeps me writing sometimes? Setting a goal that I know I can attain. If I know I need to write so many words by such and such time, I know that I have to sit down and force the muse to produce for me. Eventually, the uppity brat gives me an idea that I can run with. Like yesterday morning, for instance.

I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, which is sort of like a choose-your-own-torture NaNoWriMo project. I’ve set a goal of 25,000 words in April. They assign you to a cabin of up to 12 others, and you update word counts and have fun. But for some reason my project, a story of a small desert militia in the days of the dissolution of the Union, has met Resistance in the form of the muse not giving me ideas to work with beyond the first one (a resupply mission to a forward observation post that goes south). As a result, I’m at 7372 words when I should be at 10,833.

So what to do? The answer is easy, I have to get up and write. I have no other option if I am to meet my goal, take care of chores, file taxes, and do my normal day job and all the other things I normally do. I set the coffee pot to automatically turn on at 5:30 when my alarm goes off and I force myself out of bed.

Does it work? Sometimes. Yesterday I woke up at 5:30 and couldn’t find sleep again because an idea was rattling around about a riot that comes along as a result of … something that happens earlier in the story. I managed to crank out 808 words, which beat my previous daily average by several hundred. Of course, this doesn’t meet the necessary 1000-word average I have to meet to get back on track, but I’m closer than I was before and more importantly, I have an idea that I can run with for the next few days.

So if you’re having trouble enslaving your own muse, set a goal and use it to get your mind focused on where you want to be.

No Longer Free, April 7-11, 2014

From the mind-your-own-garden dept.:

Fighting Back:

There’s also a big hullabaloo going on in Nevada over a rancher and where his cattle graze. I’ll have more on that tomorrow.

Desire Liberty. Seek Freedom. Make Independence.