Here in the US, we’ll be having an election on November 2. It’s not a Presidential Election, and for most people you’ll only be voting for local elections or issues, but voting is important. So if you’re an American citizen over 18, I hope you’re registered and will be voting.Every election I try to have a sale for Political Pies, my collection of forty short stories of a political nature. And this election will be no different. So, from Friday, October 29 through Tuesday, November 2, you’ll be able to grab the Kindle version of Political Pies for free. If you get it early, you can have something to read while you wait in line. And if you’re not an American, well, you can still get it, and I hope you are peacefully involved in your own nation’s politics.
Thursday, October 28, 2021
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
I have a lot of ideas for stories. Like, if I wrote a novel’s worth of them every month, I’d still most likely die before getting through them all. I will admit that some of the ideas probably suck, but I think there are some that a good writer could make something of them. I’ll just never get a chance to. So, I give them to the world. If you can make something of these, go right ahead. And if these are the ideas I’m giving away, maybe check out the ones I keep.
an episode of Disenchantment, Bean
goes to the Edge of the World and starts to climb down it. As I watched that, I thought someone climbing
over the edge of a flat world could make for an interesting story. After some thought, I came up with an idea,
but it ran into a problem. So I reworked
it, but that version also ran into some problems. But the third version, has some potential. And problems.
this reality, Earth is flat. The sun
rises in the east, the whole world has daylight, and it sets in the west and
the whole world has night. There is an
ocean around the Edge and water flows over it.
Any ship – this is set in the age of sailing vessels – that gets too
close to the Edge are caught up and go over, never to be heard from again. About five miles from the Edge there is a
small island. Enter this world’s version
of the great, Victorian explorer. I’ll
call him Guy. Guy goes to the island
with five miles of rope. He ties one end
to a small rowboat and loads it with rocks and lets it drift towards the Edge. He is able to pull it back, so takes the
place of the rocks. Guy discovers that
the seafloor steadily rises the last mile to the Edge, until the water is only
a few inches deep going over. But, it’s
going so fast that it stings your fingers if you reach into it. Guy goes right to the Edge and looks over,
but there is mist and doesn’t see anything.
tries to send a rowboat over the Edge and pull it back, but it tips and
sinks. So he decides he’ll need a
barrel. He gets one, fills it with
rocks, and sends it over the Edge and pulls it back just fine. So he gets into it, and goes over the Edge. Then the rope breaks.
few years later, Guy’s son … um, Dude, decides to go over the Edge, but this
time he’ll use chains. But you can’t
really haul five miles of chains with a rowboat, so he builds a series of
barges about a mile apart that are each chained back to the island as well as
to each other. The last barge is a
hundred yards or so from the Edge. He
does several tests with the barrel filled with lead, so it’s three or four
times heavier than Dude. All come back
without issue. So Dude gets in, and goes
over the Edge.
that’s when we come to the problem. Because
what is under the Earth has to be mind-blowing.
It either has to be so grand that it would make angels weep, or so
terrifying it would give Cthulhu nightmares.
Anything less – elephants on a turtle – would be anticlimactic. And I’m not that good of a writer.
2 goes back to Guy, but this time he builds the barges and chains. But he doesn’t want to be the one that goes
over, he has a family to think about. So
he figures the best thing would be to use a convicted prisoner. Guy sails back to his home in Country A,
which has just finished their latest war with their great rival, Country
B. In this war, there was a Captain, um,
Bro. There was a situation where Bro was
ordered to charge some fort. But he knew
it was pointless, and would only kill his men.
So he refused. He was stripped of
command and the leaders of A thought about executing him, but then they noticed
that a large portion of the men who they had just given weapons and training to
liked him because he didn’t waste their lives.
Did they really want to make a martyr of Bro? So they just threw him in prison.
Guy shows up asking for a condemned man he could chuck over the Edge of the
world to see if he dies, the leaders of A said they had the perfect candidate. At first Guy was hesitant, but then he
realizes that Bro is literate, meaning he’ll be able to take notes while he’s
dangling over the Edge. So they head
back to the island.
figured the story would start with Bro chained up in the bottom of a ship. But some of the sailors like him for what he
did, so they sneak him food and news, such as their eminent arrival at the
takes Bro out to the last barge, gives him a notebook, shoves him into the
barrel, and locks it shut. Bro goes over
the Edge, and there’s a momentary odd sensation, but then it just feels like
he’s floating in the normal ocean. Gravity
has just tilted ninety degrees. The
chain lowers him down a hundred or so yards, and he looks around. Right around him, it just looks like the
normal ocean. A hundred or so yards back
the way of the chain – stretching as far as he can see in both directions – is
a band of mist marking the Edge. But
about a mile or so in the other direction, there’s another band of mist.
is ecstatic. There were several camps concerning
what was over the Edge, and he had been in the “silly” underworld camp. The way this would work is that instead of
the upper and underworlds being like the faces of a coin, they are more like
shields. That way the Edge is only a
mile thick, but a hundred miles from the Edge it could be twenty miles
thick. That’s why canyons or mines don’t
break on through to the other side. I
suppose if you wanted to be crazy, you could even make the world spherical,
just with this one mile thick Edge right in the middle. But the two shields idea is probably better.
Bro goes over again with a mile of chain, and doesn’t quite reach the
mist. So they put a mile-and-a-half of
chain and send him over. Bro reaches the
second band of mist, and again feels the odd sensation, and ends up in normal
looking ocean, just with water rushing up over the Edge. A mile or so from this Edge, there are some
islands. So Bro starts writing about
them. But he also takes a rock out of
his pocket. He reaches out and breaks
the lock and he gets out. He starts writing
about these monstrous creatures that are swimming towards him and how they
start attacking the barrel. He quickly
scribbles their version of God Save the King, and stashes the notebook. Outside the barrel, he bashes it with the rock
and manages to cut his hand so he smears some blood around. He then swims towards the nearest island.
has become sick of people, and sees this as a chance to get away from all of
them. His hope is that by the time they
work up the courage to try again to come to the underworld, he’ll have built a
boat and sailed far away in this new world, never to be found again.
for him, there are people on the island.
They are the decedents of all the shipwrecked crews from the last few
centuries. Some still feel themselves to
be citizens of Country A, or B, or C, while others feel they belong to no
country. They all have their own little
kingdoms, and they still go to war.
Although they are stuck just using knives and spears.
is where Version 2 started having problems.
Because it didn’t seem like the right fit for a story about an underworld. You could just have an antisocial prisoner
somehow manage to be the only survivor of a shipwreck who ends up on some
uncharted island with earlier survivors who have formed some twisted society
and he learns some lesson. You could do
that without leaving our world. I needed
something … more.
3 starts by combining the first two. Guy
goes over in a barrel with a rope, but it breaks. Dude builds barges and goes over in a barrel
with chains, only to discover the underworld.
Dude goes back to the upperworld, and builds a bigger barrel so he can
carry about a mile of rope. Back in the
underworld, he lets the current carry the rope towards the island. The current is still strong near the Edge where
the barrel is, and he didn’t think he could swim against it. He goes down the rope, and at the end the
current is more manageable. He swims to
the island and looks around. Dude
eventually finds a camp. Guy survived
his barrel crashing on the island, and he had explored some of it, but then he
broke his leg or something and he died.
Dude only finds a skeleton.
swims back to the rope and manages to fight the current and climb back to the
barrel. There had been some pre-arranged
time and they haul the barrel back to the upperworld.
is excitement over this discovery, and expeditions are sent over to look for
riches. They do find some shipwreck
survivors. But the big discovery is some
plant. My idea was that rubber trees are
only found in the underworld. And
quickly industrializing Country A could really use this rubber stuff.
the people of County B – expecting a Great War to start between them and
Country A any day now – would like this rubber stuff as well, but if they can’t
have it they’ll settle for Country A not getting it. So they sail as close to the upper Edge as
they can, and they throw some barrels of saboteurs and equipment overboard,
letting them wash up on the islands in the underworld.
this isn’t perfect, I do like the idea that for the saboteurs it’s basically a
one-way trip: the only way back to the upperworld is the ferry like service
that Dude starts. And since this rubber
stuff is militarily important, the island has been fortified against attacks
from both the upper and underworld.
that’s the setup. The actual details of
a story I’ll leave to others. But I will
leave you with some of the random ideas I had.
There is an idea to dig a tunnel from the upperworld island to one of
the underworld islands. They may think
about it, but are worried that if their calculations are off they could miss
and open a tunnel into the ocean and flood the tunnel. Or, whatever bedrock this world is made of is
too tough to tunnel through. Also, Dude
with his ferry service for this precious material will probably become rather
rich. So maybe Dude Jr. has the money to
play around with these newfangled aeroplanes.
He could be the first person to fly from the upperworld to the
underworld and back again. This could
have a major disruption to the rubber industry.
Maybe Country B has an island that’s a hundred miles from the Edge, so
they could never build a barge system, but they could fly that far. Perhaps all this aeroplane development comes
about because of a Great War and control of the Edge is a small, but important
front in that war. Or maybe there is
plentiful food in the underworld and the shipwrecked crews quickly put aside
their differences and the underworld society grows into a power rivaling the
think this world with an Edge leads to unique situations that could lead to
unique problems with interesting solutions.
If nothing else, anyone who wrote stories of such a world would annoy
both physicists and flat Earthers. That
has to be worth something.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
now and then, I’ll come across a writer saying that they’re looking for an
agent. But instead of looking for
quality writing, the agent is more interested in how many followers the writer
has. Because how many people you can
spam with messages to buy your book is, apparently, an important factor in
modern publishing. I understand that it
is a publishing business and
businesses need to make money and they will try everything they can to get a
slight edge. I understand that, but it
sucks for people like me who aren’t much for engagement. I don’t have a panic attack if someone
comments on a tweet of mine, but I will spend several minutes overthinking if I
should reply and if I do, what should I reply.
for the last few years, I’ve tried to engage more on social media. Which is easier said than done. Especially for someone like me who only has so
much social energy and can’t just spend it willy-nilly. For example, a couple years ago, I noticed
that I sent out the majority of my tweets in the afternoon. While that probably worked fine to find
readers here in the eastern US, it was probably harder for potential readers in
the UK and Australia. So I started trying
to spread my tweets out throughout the day.
Has this helped? I don’t know. Mostly because what usually happens is I’ll
be sending out tweets about Book A, and someone will buy Book B, and I don’t
know how they found out about Book B.
And even if they do buy Book A, unless they actually send a message, I
have no idea if my tweets was what led them to it. So I’ve had little success in judging how my
tweeting strategy has led to book sales.
this year, I started a little experiment where I can actually get some results
that may help me narrow down my strategy.
Each Monday I post a question, and I record how many comments, retweets,
etc. it gets. But each week I post it at
a different time. The hope is that a
pattern will emerge of when my tweets get the most attention: maybe they’ll do
really well in the mornings and I should refocus my tweets then.
if you have tons of social energy and are constantly tweeting or Instagramming
or whatever, it may be beneficial to do your own social experiment to see when the
best time for you to post stuff is. If
you’re selling your books, then it is a business and you want the most bang for
your buck. And even if you just write as
a hobby, would you rather have two readers, or ten?
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
In the last few weeks, I’ve heard about attempts to reboot Quantum Leap, Babylon 5, even Jaws. I understand that the entertainment business is a business, and they know they can safely make money by rebooting a beloved classic. Even though half the money they make will be from people who only watch it so that they can bitch online about how the original was better, it’s still money. And while they could make billions if an original project is successful and launches a franchise, it’s more likely an original project will only do okay, or even lose money. I understand all of that, but it still hurts that there are countless fantastic movies and shows out there that will never be made because the risk on an unknown property is too great.
said all that, here are some thoughts I’ve had for a reboot of Star Wars, because you know it will
things first, this idea is for three trilogies, with the idea that the nine
movies would be released over nine years, none of this decades between
trilogies crap. Each trilogy would focus
on one character, these being Anakin, Leia, and Ben. The Force would also be a little
different. Everyone would have midichlorians,
but there would be levels. Like below
500 you’re just an average human.
Between 500-1000 you’re pretty agile and have quick reflexes, so you
make a good pilot, or shooter. Han is
like a 900. But when you have
midichlorian levels over 1000, then you can start doing all the cool Jedi
stuff. And in my version the Jedi are monkish,
but they do marry and have kids; that’s where the majority of new Jedi come
haven’t thought much on the Anakin Trilogy, but basically you start with an
average Jedi kid who falls under the influence of Palpatine who is staging a
decades long coup to take over the Galactic Republic. Episode III ends with Padmé (also a Jedi)
giving birth to Leia and Obi-Wan saying he’ll keep her safe, because they’ve
all seen what Anakin is falling into.
Obi-Wan goes off to put her on a shuttle with all the other Jedi kids,
but there’s a problem. Or maybe Yoda
stops him because he has seen a glimpse of the future. But Anakin/Vader shows up at Padmé’s room
wanting to see his child, but she tells him she’s fleeing with the other
kids. Anakin/Vader is upset, because Palpatine
had him set a bomb on the shuttle. They
have a convenient window to watch the shuttle take off and then explode. Anger at thinking his child is dead because
she didn’t trust him, Vader kills Padmé.
takes Leia to Bail Organa whose wife has just had a son, Luke, but they announce
that she had twins to hide Leia. Only
the Jedi knew that Anakin had betrayed them, so Obi-Wan tells Bail that Anakin
died a hero trying to save the children from Vader.
Leia Trilogy is set seventeen or so years later. Luke and Leia are going around the galaxy
learning the family business of politics.
But secretly, they are gathering information for the Rebellion. In this version, the Rebellion is basically
the Empire grinding out the last bits wanting to return to the days of the
Republic. And after almost twenty years,
there’s not much left. In their journey
they come across Han and Obi-Wan.
Obi-Wan starts teaching Leia and Episode IV ends with her using her new
abilities to save a bunch of prisoners on, say, Hoth.
V will center on how the Hero of Hoth has injected new blood into the Rebellion. At first, Luke is happy for his sister, but
he starts getting annoyed when she keeps overshadowing him. Also, he’s upset that he doesn’t have the
midichlorians to be a Jedi.
VI starts with the birth of Ben, who is then taken away from the warzone. The Empire builds a Death Star and use it to
destroy several planets in rebellion. So
there’s a big mission to destroy it and kill Palpatine. Along the way Vader turns back to the Light
Side before dying.
Ben Trilogy is set fifteen or so years later.
Things haven’t gone all that well.
Leia wants a return to the Republic, but Luke has the idea that a less
evil Empire is the way to security, with him as Emperor, of course. Since she spent so much time fighting a war,
Leia never fully went into the Jedi side of her life. But she wants Ben to be the core of the new
Jedi Order that will help keep the New Republic in line. Which is a lot for a teenager, especially one
who just wants to spend time with his girlfriend Rey.
not sure exactly what happens, but after forty some years of civil war, the
younglings of the galaxy want to move on, let the past die, and not be stuck
with the dreams of their parents.
Whatever happens, Episode IX ends with the birth of Ben and Rey’s boy,
Anakin. Is the cycle of war and darkness
over, or is a new cycle just beginning?