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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 2)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Yes-Were-Open
Yesterday, I talked about making more money last year as a freelance writer than ever before.

In fact, my income doubled in about 24 months.

I promised I’d try to explain how I accomplished this over the course of this week, so here’s my first “tip”:

1.  Always Say “Yes” (Except Sometimes).

At this juncture in my freelance writing career, clients and publishers approach me, not the other way around.

(Here’s how I got to that point.)

Today, one of my biggest challenges is knowing when to accept assignments and when to turn them down.

Mostly, I say “yes,” even if I’m (secretly) afraid to squeeze one more gig into my 14-hour a day, seven day a week schedule because my calendar already looks like a clown car, and I’d love to just veg out with a Criminal Minds marathon.

(Nope, The 4-Hour Workweek this ain’t. I don’t buy that gimmicky formula and neither does Timothy Feriss or he wouldn’t be Timothy Feriss…)

I’m able to say “yes” as often as I do now because a few years ago, I screwed up the courage to sometimes say “no.”

That’s when I’d first noticed a strange pattern:

The less someone pays you, the more work they demand from you — usually for free.

These “I need it yesterday!” types want multiple revisions and last minute changes, but they sure freak out when you add them to their bill.

Whereas my “high end” clients who are paying full freight are easier to work with.

They’re more satisfied with my efforts, and they pay faster, too.

So two years ago, I politely “fired” some long time clients who were still enjoying my old, low “just starting out”/”I’m afraid to charge too much” rate.

I also stopped writing for publications that weren’t paying me enough. (No, I never write for free.)

This left me more time and energy to devote to newer, better paying (and more enjoyable) clients and publishers.

Yes, I still work long hours, but now those hours are now less frustrating and more lucrative.

(Stay tuned for Part 3…)

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A Pulp Writer Disguised as a Lawyer Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the thirteenth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first eleven can be read in this collection here and the twelfth from yesterday is here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here, running through the end of April. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Ken Lizzi is an attorney and the author of an assortment of published short stories. When not traveling AC/a,!aEUoe and he’d rather be traveling AC/a,!aEUoe he lives in Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife Isa. He enjoys reading, homebrewing, exercise, and visiting new places. He loathes writing about himself in the third person.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

The writers Bernard Cornwell, Glen Cook, and George MacDonald Fraser are major influences, as well as numerous Twentieth Century pulp writers.

Lizzi,-Ken

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

Mostly resigned, sitting on the porch grumbling as I watch the kids ruin the neighborhood.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

P.J. O’Rourke, Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes.”)

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

Embedded in the People’s Republic of Portland.

5. What are your writing goals?

I hope to one day attain the status of the new Robin Masters and allow a slacker PI to inhabit the guest house of my Hawaiian estate.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

www.kenlizzi.net

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Homebrewing.

An Excerpt from “Sacred Cows” by Ken Lizzi:

Scott and Dennis and a core group of friends had remained in touch after college, their social lives a continuation of their Portland State revelries. Scott nearly married one of the group, Allison–blonde, gregarious, earthy. A little too earthy for Scott’s tastes which ran more to khakis and mutual funds than Birkenstocks and saving the flat-footed grebe. So the romance ended but the friendship remained.

 

To the general amusement of the old gang, Allison over the years had introduced a series of increasingly eccentric boyfriends as her enthusiasms meandered from eastern medicine to preserving the Amazon to vegan cooking. The last had coincided with the introduction of a painfully thin, bearded fellow the group quickly dubbed Ashram Anton, as much for his fiercely-spiced vegetarian curries as his appetite for recreational drugs.

 

Anton ran a vegetarian restaurant on Hawthorne Boulevard. The Sacred Cow was a narrow cavern of a joint wedged between a non-profit women’s interest bookstore and a used-CD shop. A cramped cluster of tables overlooked by hemp wall hangings and yellowed Robert Crumb posters fronted a lengthy kitchen, hidden behind a beaded curtain, where Anton concocted his leafy delights. Allison browbeat members of the group to stop in occasionally. Most of the old gang grudgingly admitted to enjoying a dish or two, with the noted exception of Scott who professed an unreasoning and unchangeable opposition to all things meatless.

 

One evening in January Dennis agreed to meet Allison at The Sacred Cow. They’d remained tolerably good friends, based largely on the amiable Dennis’ ability to reduce the friction between her and Scott during gatherings. On the appointed day Allison rang up Dennis at his office.

 

“Dennis? Allison. Look, can we meet at another restaurant? It doesn’t matter. You decide.”

 

That night at the Bridgeport Ale House, Allison unburdened herself while picking strips of ham and turkey out of her chef salad.

 

“Something is wrong with Anton.” She raised her fork threateningly before Dennis could respond. “No wisecracks. I’m serious.”

 

“OK. I’m sorry. What’s bothering you?”

 

“Anton started serving hamburgers at The Sacred Cow.”

 

“What!” Dennis exclaimed, a forgotten forkful of baked potato raised halfway to his mouth. “Ashram Anton eating meat?”

 

“I didn’t say he was eating it. He’s serving it. Hamburgers anyway.”

 

Dennis resumed eating. He was a hard man to put off his feed. “So? Maybe he wants to expand his customer base.”

 

“I don’t think so. The timing is really weird.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Well, two weeks ago the cattleman’s association held a convention here in Portland. Anton and I joined a protest outside the convention center. Somehow things got out of hand. The anti-fur activists showed up, then the medical research opponents, and then some real fringe elements. Shut up Dennis, it’s not funny. Anyway, the protest escalated until the police showed up. A little pushing and shoving, a couple of rocks and bottles and suddenly it’s the ’68 Democratic National Convention. I get Anton into the Subaru. He took a face-full of pepper spray but other than that he was okay. We drive away, and Anton’s staring through his tears, fixed on the cattlemen standing outside the convention center, grinning and smoking cigars. Next week he’s slapping burgers on the grill.”

 

Dennis had to agree that was a little odd. But as he’d no constructive advice for her, he simply suggested she keep an eye on Anton and keep him informed.

 

A few weeks later, at a housewarming thrown to introduce the gang to Scott’s new riverfront condominium unit, Allison mentioned the case of Mack Sheridan, a wealthy rancher of some local repute (or infamy, depending on one’s view of the chain of ‘gentlemen’s’ clubs he owned), who had mysteriously disappeared. No one had a clear idea when, as Sheridan frequently drifted off on private jaunts without leaving word of his departure. No ransom demands arrived, and not a trace of the man could be found.

 

Dennis found that interesting but hardly conclusive. Then Allison offered the more recent case of Pauline Delacroix, an “edgy” clothing designer from LA who had arrived in the city but apparently did not leave it. Her fall line of knee-length otter-hide skirts had garnered a certain degree of notoriety. Such people are difficult to misplace in a metropolis, but there you have it. Vanished.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

****

image via Liberty Island / Mary Madigan (C) 2014

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How I Doubled My Freelance Income in Two Years (Part 1)

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

bullion-coins-stacked_303x259No one needs a reminder that it’s tax time.

We Canadians don’t have to file until April 30, but that doesn’t lessen the sting for those of us who actually work for a living — especially if, like me, you run your own business.

My accountant just gave me the “good news, bad news”:

The bad news is, I owe a low five-figure amount to the taxman right now. I’ll also have to cough up quarterly payments this year on top of that — something I normally don’t have to do.

That’s because — and this is where the good news comes in — as a freelance writer, I earned more in 2013 than I ever did before, even when I was working at a “normal” cubicle job.

In fact, last year’s revenues were almost double what I earned as a freelancer in 2011.

Throughout this week, I’ll try to explain (to you and myself) how I went from making an average to an above-average income.

Believe me, none of these “lessons” will be terribly earth-shattering.

I certainly can’t promise that they’re universally applicable, either, or will even still work for me in six weeks or six years.

That said, they may still provide some food for thought at a time of year when we’re all forced to review our own individual bottom lines.

So stay tuned…

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‘I Spell ‘Magicks’ With a ‘K’ to Both Confound Proofreaders and to Signify It’s Not a White-Bunny-Being-Pulled-Out-of-The-Hat Kind of Magic.’

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the twelfth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first eleven can be read in this collection here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here running through the end of April. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Aaron Smith is a family law attorney living in San Diego with his lovely girlfriend and two pit bulls. Aaron spends his time trying to get clients out of their own messes and figuring out how to put his fictional characters in messes of their own. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Aaron is confident that he is one of the few students who saw the utter squalor of liberal rule and came out a confirmed conservative with libertarian leanings.

Smith, Aaron

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Books: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Jonathan Maberry’s works. I love how they’ve crafted intricate worlds. Non-fiction wise, I enjoy history and current affairs. I like David McCullough’s works, as well as Ron Chernow.

Also, check out Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld and Andy Levy. They tend more cosmotarian than conservative but are pretty dang funny.

Current events wise, I like Drudge and Instapundit. I’m disappointed that the Volokh Conspiracy went to the Washington Post and will likely disappear behind a paywall. And I’m partial to the Right Coast as an alum of the University of San Diego.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

A conservative who takes federalism seriously. I think that’s the bridge between libertarianism and conservatism. Conservatives need to take the principle seriously and end the federalization of the drug war or medical malpractice caps. Libertarians need to quit thinking that the Supreme Court can impose their policy preferences nationally using magic decoder rings to find rights that the Drafters would be amazed are in the Constitution.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

You have to love Ann Coulter for having bigger balls than most of the GOP establishment. The fact that she could admit being wrong on Chris Christie is a good thing too.

Then there are the classics, Friedman and Hayek. I started out as a socialist – easy when you’re a candy ass suburban kid who didn’t have to work for things – but became conservative at U.C. Berkeley. I also read Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and have yet to be convinced he’s wrong. Ditto for his follow up, Who Are We. I think it’s pretty obvious we haven’t seen the “end of history” yet.

For Constitutional theory, Raoul Burger called out the tyranny of our judiciary pretty well.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I’m originally from Chicago and am convinced that the pizza pie was perfected there. Did you know that three large Lou Malnatti’s pizzas fit perfectly in the overhead compartment of a Southwest plane?

I’ve lived in San Diego for most of my life though. Seeing as how we have perfect weather and proper pizza can be airlifted here, I consider it paradise.

5. What are your writing goals?

I am currently developing a set of intertwined series all set in a universe much like ours, except for the fact that monsters and magicks are real. See, I spell “magicks” with a “k” to both confound proofreaders and to signify it’s not a white-bunny-being-pulled-out-of-the-hat kind of magic. The heroes of each series fight evil in their own ways, leading to Armageddon and its aftermath. I am now working on a novel set in this universe and fleshing out its rules.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

My Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/aaronsmithauthor?ref=hl

I also tweet and can be followed at @aaroncsmith1

Last but not least I opine at http://aaronsjustsaying.blogspot.com/

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Now if I told you that, it would be an admission against interests.

An excerpt from Aaron Smith’s “Tyler”

“Tyler, get away from the window!” Connor ordered. Tension made the command sharper and louder than he intended. Luckily Tyler was engrossed with his reading.

 

But if a drone saw him with the book…

 

Damn the Test.

 

“Dad, the light’s best here,” Tyler complained. Connor recognized his son’s stubborn expression. Looking at the towheaded boy sometimes felt like looking in a mirror.

 

“The light’s plenty good on the couch,” he countered. He’d had thirty years more practice on the stubborn front. “The blackout’s scheduled to be over in a few hours.”

 

“Dad–” Tyler’s plaintive cry hung in the air.

 

“Now!”

 

Tyler pushed himself from the floor, shoulders slumped. He took half steps towards the couch, as if hoping his father might change his mind.

 

As Tyler settled onto the couch, Connor reached over and ran a beefy hand through the 5-year-old’s hair.

 

“You know what we talked about, right?”

 

“Yeah. The Test’s coming.”

 

“And?”

 

“And I can’t let people know I’m reading.”

 

“That’s right.”

 

“Why, Dad?”

 

Connor paused. How to explain a concept like slavery? Even if he could put it into terms his young mind could understand, the child’s basic innocence could lead to a slip.

 

“The bad guys, Tyler,”

 

Tyler nodded.

 

“The bad guys. And you can’t ever talk about this with anyone. You don’t ever know–”

 

“Who’s Eyes.”

 

“That’s right. You never know who’s an Eyes.”

 

Connor walked over to the kitchen space, a cramped square about two steps away from the couch. The soles of his feet almost scraped the concrete beneath the worn carpet.

 

He reached into the pantry and pulled out a chocolate NutriBar. The vitamin-fortified candy was popular because it didn’t require effort or refrigeration. Without steady power, refrigerators were extinct–at least for the likes of them.

 

He turned to toss Tyler the chocolate and saw a glittering in the distance outside the window.

 

A skyscaper from the Crystal City.

 

“Hey that was hard.”

 

Connor mumbled an apology. He hadn’t meant to throw the candy, certainly not that hard.

 

He shook his head. Losing control wasn’t going to help.

 

“I have to go out, Tyler. You stay away from the window…”

 

“And don’t answer the door.”

 

Connor smiled with paternal pride.

 

The boy was whip-smart.

 

That was the problem.

 

Connor picked up the walking stick by the door and headed out to the world.

Continue reading at Liberty Island…

*****

image courtesy shutterstock / Andrea Danti

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11 Counterculture Warriors Preparing For Battle

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the third collection of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Each weekend we’ll expand this compilation to include the authors featured during the week. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

1. Mike Baron: Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

2. Steve Poling: Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

3. Will Collier: What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

4. Ray Zacek: The Secret Knowledge Vs. A Lethal Elvis Cult in North Florida

5. Keith Korman: ‘I Have No Friends: I Make My Mind My Friend.

6. Abbey Clarke: A Demon’s Heart: Can Evil Incarnate Ever Find Salvation?

7. Jamie Wilson: A Gen-X Gandalf Mom Casting Thomas Sowell Spells

8. Clay Waters: ‘You Obviously Feel This Ocean Mythos Deep In Your DNA…’

9. Todd Seavey: ‘It Was Star Wars That Taught Me to Love Science, Fantasy, Music, and Capitalism Simultaneously’

10. Stephen McDonald: ’Long-Term, I’d Like to Hire Others to Produce More Content Set in This Shared Universe…’

11. Pierre V. Comtois: Golfing on the Moon

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Golfing on the Moon

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the eleventh in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first eight can be read in this collection here, the ninth here, and the tenth here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Pierre V. Comtois is a newspaper reporter writing from Lowell, MA who has had fiction and non-fiction published in books and magazines from The Horror Show to Military History. Marvel Comics in the 1980s, the third volume in his history of Marvel Comics, is due out in 2014 and Autumnal Tales, an omnibus collecting the best of his weird and fantasy stories, is coming soon. For more information about the author, visit here.

Comtois solo

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

I’ve always displayed a pretty eclectic mix of reading interests which early on fell into two tracks: non-fiction and fantastic fiction. Considering that a few of my favorite non-fiction writers including Peter Hopkirk, Alan Eckert, and Bernard DeVoto wrote about real places and events, British India, the old Northwest, and an American continent as it was first being explored by Europeans they likely struck me subconsciously as being just as fabulous as any landscapes of imagination explored by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, a few of my favorite fictioneers. By the time I was a teenager, I was already a big science fiction and fantasy fan with H. P. Lovecraft, Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, William Morris, Lord Dunsany, Olaf Stapleton, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Machen, James Branch Cabell, Sax Rohmer, Isaac Asimov, and Frederick Pohl among my favorites but an eye opening read of The Steranko History of Comics exposed me for the first time to pulp magazine fiction of the mid-twentieth century. After feasting my eyes on reproductions of their often garish covers, I had to read them all! No matter the genre, science fiction, horror, fantasy, western, mystery, even romance I was hooked… and still am. My main worry these days is that with time running out, I might not have enough years left in me to read everything I want! Favorite books and movies fall under the same categories and eras as my pulp interests and are too vast in number to list here! As for intellectual influences, I would say they mostly fall under historians rather than philosophers with favorite topics being the Roman Empire, British Empire, American Revolutionary history, WWII, early explorers, and aviation history. Biographies of soldiers, statesmen, and businessmen have also been of interest.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I’ve always considered myself a moderate but in today’s leftist climate where common sense is turned topsy turvy, I’d probably be described as a conservative.

3. Where are you from/currently reside?

Massachusetts

4. What are your writing goals?

To have short stories, then novels/books published, then a TV or movie script sold. I’ve accomplished the first two and am working on the third.

5. Where can people find/follow you online?

I’m on Facebook and my website is www.pierrevcomtois.com

6. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I read and collect comic books, primarily silver and bronze age Marvel comics.

An excerpt from Pierre Comtois’s “Alan Shepard’s Golf Ball”:

The sharp contrast between the gleaming white object and the gray lunar dust was what first caught Barney’s attention.

Not that he’d been looking for anything in particular.

It was Tuesday, and that meant the Fra Mauro Comets were due to play the Tranquility Shooting Stars in the Lunar Little League rotation schedule.

Not that Barney cared that much. He’d been with the Comets for two years now, ever since he was old enough to be trusted outside in his own EVA suit. That made him 13 years old, time enough to begin to grow bored with the slow-moving innings of Moonball.

But then, it’d been his father’s idea that he join the league in the first place.

Mr. Samarin hadn’t liked all the time his son spent in the ether playing mind games with his friends. “It just isn’t natural,” as he was fond of saying. Too fond for Barney, who found his father’s complaints annoying. What was he expected to do on the Moon? Ride an air bike? Build a clubhouse? It bothered him when his parents talked about all the wonderful things they used to do when they were youngsters back on Earth. What did that mean to him, who’d never set foot on the planet?

Anyway, his father finally took steps (something else he always said) and signed Barney up to the Comets. He’d been on the team through most of the season, long enough for his fellow players to realize that he just didn’t care. Which is why he now found himself way out in right field where nothing much ever happened. …

Read the rest at Liberty Island… 

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A Conservative and Libertarian Fiction Writing Contest

Thursday, April 10th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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Government-approved bedtime reading….

As if the Feds haven’t done enough, now they have taken to telling Grandma that she only truly loves the little ones if she feeds them healthy snacks. After all, nothing says “Granny loves you!” like a big helping of “applesauce, baby carrots, string cheese, or 100% whole grain crackers.” Worse, they’ve turned bedtime into an opportunity for government propaganda, enlisting Grandma in the effort to push the latest “approved” dietary standards with a special tale aimed just at the kiddies.

This cheesy effort deserves to be either ignored or ridiculed; so of course, we’ve chosen the latter course. That brings us to announce Liberty Island’s second writing contest: “Can You Write a Better Bedtime Story than the USDA?”

We’re looking for short pieces, 400-1000 words long, which demonstrate your total mastery of the form of a Federally-approved children’s book. Draw inspiration from our first writing contest, “Can You Write Better than Maureen Dowd?” The winning entries will be collected and published on Liberty Island.

Entries are due by April 30th. Email Submissions@LibertyIslandMag.com with “Nanny Contest” in the subject line.

So channel your inner First Lady, and remember–it takes a village to grow an organic vegetable garden in the White House yard. Or something.

*****

Also check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more about Liberty Island: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.”

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Contest: Can You Write a Better Bedtime Story than the USDA?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

421px-Hansel-and-gretel-rackham (1)

As if the Feds haven’t done enough, now they have taken to telling Grandma that she only truly loves the little ones if she feeds them healthy snacks. After all, nothing says “Granny loves you!” like a big helping of “applesauce, baby carrots, string cheese, or 100% whole grain crackers.” Worse, they’ve turned bedtime into an opportunity for government propaganda, enlisting Grandma in the effort to push the latest “approved” dietary standards with a special tale aimed just at the kiddies.

This cheesy effort deserves to be either ignored or ridiculed; so of course, we’ve chosen the latter course. That brings us to announce Liberty Island’s second writing contest: “Can You Write a Better Bedtime Story than the USDA?”

We’re looking for short pieces, 400-1000 words long, which demonstrate your total mastery of the form of a Federally-approved childrens’ book. Draw inspiration from our first writing contest, “Can You Write Better than Maureen Dowd?

So channel your inner First Lady, and remember–it takes a village to grow an organic vegetable garden in the White House yard. Or something.

Visit Liberty Island to register and submit your story.

Also check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more about Liberty Island: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.”

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‘Long-Term, I’d Like to Hire Others to Produce More Content Set in This Shared Universe…’

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the tenth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The previous eight can be read in this collection here and yesterday’s ninth interview can be read here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

My mom was the slowest shopper. Had to try on everything, and debated with herself the merits of a particular dress or shoe purchase with the thoroughness of Hamlet mulling murder. Growing up I was, it is fair to say, rotten as only an only child can be, and impatient too. But I was also reasonable. Good behavior could be bought with a sufficient bribe.

So one day she wants to try on some shoes. I’m in tow, which means a tithe must be paid to Kid Mammon. Such sacrifices were typically in the form of G.I. Joe figures, but as it happened that afternoon, it was a copy of Iron Man #221.

My first comic book. As a kid, every first-anything is tinged with magic, and so it was with that issue of Iron Man. I read it so many times that its pages would probably be translucent if you could find it in my father’s attic today.

Across the gulf of nearly thirty years, what matters about that comic isn’t nostalgia. It’s that it got me thinking about how the story might continue. How it could have gone differently. How it could have been more.

Wouldn’t it be cool/interesting/exciting/crazy if…?” I began asking questions like that of every story form I came across. Comics, novels, movies—didn’t really matter. Thinking always in terms of hypotheticals and counterfactuals fires the imagination. On the other hand, you’re also perpetually let down by whatever you watch or read. Nothing ever quite compares to what you come up with yourself. After a certain point, you get tired of being disappointed.

Fine, you eventually decide. Guess I’ll have to write it myself.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

A conservative that realized there’s nothing left worth conserving anymore. A TEA Partier that realized the country he loved sees him as nothing but a piggy bank to be smashed open. A libertarian that realized you can’t live and let live because the only choices in this life are to rule or be ruled.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Glenn Reynolds, VDH, Mark Levin, Jack Donovan, Free Northerner, AoSHQ, Niall Ferguson, Vox Day, the Futurist’s Misandry Bubble, Foseti.

4. Where are you from?

I’m from Delaware, the world’s largest strip mall.

5.  What are your writing goals?

To offer readers something different. I like taking concepts, genres, and characters that have no business being in the same room together, locking them in a cage without any food or water, and seeing what happens. I do this by creating multiple, ongoing series, each in a different genre. Then from time-to-time, I have these series’ heroes meet. Long-term, I’d like to hire others to produce more content set in this shared universe.

I don’t care if readers know my name. I’d rather my characters be the famous ones. The goal isn’t to be Stephen King. It’s to be Marvel Comics.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

My blog can be found here. Some of my previously published short fiction is available for complimentary download on my Smashwords page. I can also be found darkening the otherwise sunny environs of Liberty Island.

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Not so much anymore, but I used to be into trying to save people from themselves. By way of an example, here’s a snapshot I took back in March 2010—the weekend Congress passed Obamacare—when me and several thousand of the similarly delusional thought we could save America from having her wrists slashed by the Left:

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Joke was on us, though. The country had already killed itself back in November of 2008.

An excerpt from Stephen McDonald’s ”The Wreck of the Hu Jintao

The Earth’s light made the hull fragments opalescent, like broken shards of sky. The Hu Jintao’s remains hung silently in the vacuum of space.

As I approached the wreck, I saw a tiny shadow move on a piece of debris. A drone, I thought. There shouldn’t have been one here, though. The radiation vomiting from the Hu Jintao had been enough to dissuade wreck-divers such as myself for the last fifty years.

I froze, and inertia carried me. A mile-long filament tethered me to my shuttle. With the suit’s rebreathing system, I’d have up to twelve hours to explore the wreck. Not that I might actually have that much time. If the drone had spotted me, I was dead.

I watched the shadow against the wreck’s tightly-formed debris field, orbiting the still-intact aft section. Unlike other drones protecting historical sites, this shadow didn’t sit like a fat spider waiting for divers, only to rocket to life when it sensed you. Instead, it danced lightly from one scorched piece of tungsten plating to another.

And it was coming towards me.

It takes oxygen to fire a bullet. On either wrist I had sealed-system gun barrels, each capable of firing a single round.

I knew enough to wait until it was on me before attempting a shot. As North America’s pocked surface turned beneath me, I asked myself–not for the first time–why I was doing this.

I wasn’t here to steal. My family being connected to the Party, I didn’t need the money.

But I’d been fascinated with the war since preparatory school, and had developed a certain fondness for the defeated that my parents considered unhealthy.

“You wouldn’t like them so much had you known any,” my mother had said. “They were coarse and vulgar.”

“They sound rather refreshing compared to our enforced decorum.”

“Refreshing? They attacked us. Killed all those men on that ship.”

“Yes, all ten of them,” I’d said. “In return, we killed millions.”

“Well, they shouldn’t have started it. And you shouldn’t be so fascinated with them.”

“Why be so concerned? Really, mother. It’s as harmless as a Roman collecting Carthaginian pottery.”

The fact that I was hanging five thousand kilometers above the Earth probably meant I’d overstated my hobby’s harmlessness. Being in my forties now, I’d found that that which isn’t earned is cherished least. The coin that bought my private shuttle could easily have belonged to another family, had they been as sycophantic as ours to the Party. Why not risk it?

The shadow was close now, and I readied to fire. It was only as the floating piece of metal it crouched on turned into the light that I saw what it was.

A kitten.

It took a moment to realize I wasn’t insane.

I laughed. “You were someone’s pet, I take it?” The Siamese couldn’t hear me of course, but it turned its head as if it understood. Some fur had been burned from its belly, and steel glinted underneath. Except for that, it was in perfect condition. An incredibly rare find.

I re-fired my jets, adjusting my approach to the Hu Jintao’s aft. The kitten followed, expertly bounding debris.

“Be careful,” I warned. Its paws must have been magnetized. Still, one wrong step and it would have slipped into the void. It didn’t seem bothered by this. It would have been easy to dismiss the confidence with which it moved as the actions of an unfeeling machine. But it would have been programmed to behave like a real cat – same responses, same intuitions. Its grace here, then, came from decades of practice.

It wasn’t hard to understand why men had brought robotic pets aboard dreadnaughts like the Hu Jintao. They were massive ships with only ten-man crews to service the nuclear warheads. Dealing with the same people every day during a two-year patrol, who wouldn’t want a pet – preferably one that didn’t consume oxygen, food, or water – to break the monotony? It was nice to have a companion out here. Especially in the days before believable women could be fabricated…

Read the rest at Liberty Island…

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‘It Was Star Wars That Taught Me to Love Science, Fantasy, Music, and Capitalism Simultaneously’

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The previous eight can be read in this collection here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Todd Seavey has written for various libertarian and libertarian-leaning venues including the American Council on Science and Health, Reason, John Stossel, Judge Andrew Napolitano, New York Press, and more. He has also written Justice League comic books for DC Comics, hosts a series of political bar gatherings in New York City, and blogs at ToddSeavey.com. He studied philosophy at Brown University. He is Liberty Island’s comics editor and writer of the punk time travel short story “No Future”  – when not writing, ghostwriting, or TV-producing libertarian non-fiction things.

Seavey, Todd

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

It was Star Wars that taught me to love science, fantasy, music, and capitalism simultaneously. All else is a footnote to Star Wars

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I’m an anarcho-capitalist, that is, a libertarian consistent enough to want all governments completely abolished, from welfare to police to regulators to the military — and replaced by the simple, decentralized, private enforcement of property rights. Any other political position is manifestly insane.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Libertarian writers including David Friedman, Murray Rothbard, and Robert Nozick were big influences, but also skeptical, pro-science writers such as James “the Amazing” Randi.  Together, they made it much easier to imagine life without government and without religion or other supernatural/irrational beliefs.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I grew up in New England, which has a nice history of mellow yet revolutionary sentiment. I now live in Manhattan, which is not mellow.

5. What are your writing goals?

If through non-fiction, comedy, or fiction in various media I can help make people more comfortable thinking they don’t need these systems of collective control, I’ve helped make the world a better place. As a good utilitarian, I just want everyone to be happy.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

I can be found at:

http://www.libertyislandmag.com/creator/ToddSeavey/home.html

http://ToddSeavey.com

http://Twitter.com/ToddSeavey

http://Facebook.com/ToddSeavey

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYxVSpZ_GvBeVMWPcNT32Nw

7.What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I’ve hosted debates in New York City for years that have brought together some rather opinionated and eccentric characters, but it is always my hope that the larger goal of learning from each other will overcome the short-term philosophical or personal scuffles, just as the cantina at Mos Eisley continues to operate despite fights among the clientele.

An Excerpt from Todd Seavey’s “No Future”

DATA LOG, Octobriana-768F android.

“The President must die, John. You have to kill him for me. That’s how history is supposed to unfold.”
Simulating voice of: Jodie Foster, actress (reference: Taxi Driver).

Processing.

Viewing: Subject: John Hinckley.

Processing.

Time: March 1, 1981.

Processing.

Subject Hinckley speaks:

“Then we can be together? A few months ago, when I tried to visit you at Yale, you stopped answering my phone calls. I thought it was hopeless and that we could never be together.”

Reference: September 17, 1980: visit by Subject Hinckley to template-human’s educational institution. Feign recollection.

“John, I was very busy. I had just started the school year. It was unfair of me to ignore you.”

Processing.

Ensure Subject Hinckley does not deviate from familiar historical pattern. Affirm desirability of Ronald Reagan’s death, as recorded on March 30, 1981.

“The only thing I need to convince me that you’re serious about your love for me is the one last deed.”

Processing.

Eye contact, firm pressure on right arm. “You are meant to shoot the President. Our future depends on it.”

Accessing internal history files: March 30, 1981.

ABC News television broadcast. Glimpse of bloodied body of Target: Ronald Wilson Reagan. Two newspaper cameramen stumble backwards and Subject Hinckley is wrestled to the ground. White House Press Secretary James Brady lies nearby. A head wound, but he will recover. His role in the events of later years is not significant.
Newscaster Frank Reynolds speaking: “After some earlier confusion, we now have more details nailed down on today’s incident outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. President Ronald Reagan is dead. He was shot and killed by a gunman–possibly mentally unbalanced, we do not yet know–named John Warnock Hinckley, Jr. The nation has not yet had time to mourn, and already the speculation begins about how this could affect the economy, negotiations with the Soviet Union, and countless other political factors. Once again: confirmed now, the President of the United States is dead.”

Processing.

Subject Hinckley must not deviate from historical role. Approximate warm smile. Subject Hinckley appears happy. The hooligans must be prevented from interfering with him.

*

EXCERPT from interview with lead singer of the Russian band Divisigoths, from Spinningmagazine, Oct. 2016:

SPINNING: Is it safe to assume your new album is called More because it will be a lot like your previous album, Timelines?

JIMMY SALVO (singer/bassist): No, album is called More because album marks 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s stupid book Utopia.

SPINNING: Ah. Is it safe, then, to guess that this will be another big “political concept album,” like Timelines, which described an alternate history in which Ronald Reagan died early in his presidency and the Soviet Union took over the world? Isn’t doing these big art rock projects risky for a punk-influenced band? I think it was Dave Whitney from the band the Elizabeth Tailors who once warned, “Eight-minute songs about gnomes are just wrong.”

JIMMY SALVO: Timelines was not “concept album”! Always we are saying this. Was truest pieces of what band was feeling back in 2012, when we go through some, hey, you know, really weird shit, man.

SPINNING: And by “really weird shit” you mean time travel? [laughs] Ah, so…Divisigoths are “real” time travelers sort of the way, shall we say, the band Gwar is a bunch of “real” monsters from outer space, is that fair to say?

JIMMY SALVO: Gwar is just joke for children! Divisigoths traveled through time!

*

ELECTRONIC MEMO to Vladimir Putin, Minister of Internal Affairs, Global Soviet Alliance, London Office, Dec. 22, 2012 (from Physics Institute Director Gurevich):

It is with deepest regret that my office confirms the earlier report of an unforeseen complication at the Chernogolovka facility.

Despite my earlier objections, test subjects chosen for our initial time travel experiments were all young convicts, supposedly eager to redeem themselves in the eyes of the state by volunteering to participate. One of them was prone to the wearing of counter-revolutionary stilyagi and punk clothing and, prior to his time under the careful supervision of the Institute, was in a rock n’ roll band known as the Divisigoths, calling himself “Jimmy Salvo” in an obvious attempt to suggest American aesthetic sympathies.

We believe that yesterday he broke into the facility and activated the time travel device without authorization, entering the past with three of his former bandmates. We also suspect we know his temporal destination. Salvo, according to former associates, had lately become fixated on the conspiracy theory hypothesis that if Ronald Reagan, the last American president, had not been assassinated on March 30, 1981, the Soviet Global Alliance might never have triumphed and forged a single world democratic republic.

I realize how speculative and abnormal all of this must sound–and I refer you to the enclosed diagrams in which I attempt a graphic explanation of how our present experiences might be only short-term, lingering residue of a version of history that has already been erased.

Though our current perceptions–my eyes on the words of this memo, my fingers on this keyboard–would seem to suggest that reality as we know it endures, I humbly suggest we discuss countermeasures immediately.

Loyally,

Dr. Aleksandr Viktorovich Gurevich

Director, Physics Institute

Chernogolovka

Read the rest at Liberty Island…

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‘You Obviously Feel This Ocean Mythos Deep In Your DNA…’

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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image illustration via shutterstock / EpicStockMedia

Clay Waters has had short stories published in The Santa Barbara Review, Liquid Ohio, Abyss & Apex, and Three-Lobe Burning Eye, and poetry in Poet Lore, River Oak Review, and Tribeca Poetry Review. For ten years he ran Times Watch, a division of the Media Research Center focused on the liberal bias of The New York Times. He lives in New Jersey by way of Mississippi.

Waters,-Clay

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

The first book that really got to me, at the age of 10, was Moby Dick, that timeless allegory on the limits of human knowledge and the delusion of fate… no, actually it was Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the movie Alien. Great stuff, seriously. The one piece of art I know a little of by heart. Also, Watership Down – the one about the rabbits? – the greatest adventure novel I know of. And the movie is almost as good.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

Libertarianish

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Jonah Goldberg

4. What was the impulse for this story?

I’ve always wanted to write something short, simple, and sinister, that uses narrative misdirection to turn a reader’s assumptions 180 degrees at the end. “Wrath” combines the puzzling fascination that I, a Mississippi-raised, non-surfer, and non-sunbather, have with California, the ocean, and quiet, blissful college campuses, which exist in my head mostly as archetypes. I tried to imbue it with 1960′s-era California decadence, as I’m a big fan of setting things in specific, real-world times and places, no matter how fanciful the actual plot. Probably some trace elements of R.E.M.’s “I Remember California” in there as well. I aimed for a sense of hidden danger, of manicured menace.

5. Where are you from/currently reside?

From Mississippi, now in New Jersey

6.  What are your writing goals?

To get my “cozy” mystery novel published. It’s about a blind girl in 1920s England who is pushed down the stairs, hits her head, regains her sight, but doesn’t tell anyone, as she tries to figure out who in the house is trying to kill her. Sounds neat, huh?

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I play trivia at my local bar every Tuesday night. Not seeing a VH-1bio in my future.

An Excerpt from  Clay Waters’, “The Wrath of Okeanos”:

Two short stories lay atop the desk of the creative writing professor. One was cleanly typed and covered with the white frosting of a title page. The other consisted of three or four stiff, wrinkled sheets of blocky handwriting on clean butcher’s paper. The neat manuscript on the left belonged to the neat girl on Professor Keene’s left; the grimy hobo foolscap was tagged to the deep-eyed big blonde boy across the table, wafting of sand and surf, whom the professor now addressed.

“First off, Joseph, let me tell you what I like about ‘The Wrath of Okeanos.’ You obviously feel this ocean mythos deep in your DNA. But one needs some irony, some possibility of an outside perspective.”

Professor Keene’s tone was the type you employed with a rattlesnake when you have a rock tucked behind your back. “What I don’t like as much, besides the handwriting,” he added tolerantly, “is the relative brevity and lack of character development. You clearly grasp the need to show and not tell, but we don’t know enough about the inner life of your protagonist.”

“Protagonist?” Joseph’s voice was drowsy, like someone deeply ensconced in a bed, or a bathtub.

“Your hero, um, Okeanos. You need to fill us in on him, because while these characters–archetypes, almost–could be interesting, we need an entry point, a way to join the conversation. How did they get this way?”

“They were always that way.”

Keene looked over his glasses at Joseph. Actually, the professor wasn’t totally sure about the “Joseph”–the first symbol of the boy’s signature on the class card resembled a fishhook more than it did the tenth letter of the Roman alphabet. “And as for the victory of Okeanos over the resulka in his rescue of the oceanid–”

“The rusalka.”

“Sorry, rusalka, I’m not up on my Russian ocean mythology–it did not feel sufficiently hard-won to me.” He cleared his throat and read. “‘The long-armed Okeanos glided easily through the choppy waves and captured the betraying rusalka, with claws that could open a raw sea bass for supper.‘ And the ending is too easy. The rusalka simply says, “I go willingly,” and she dies a merciful death. The End. It’s what we in the biz call an anticlimax.”

The professor knew he should cool it with the subtle ridicule, but my God the boy had actually written the words “tenth son to a god.” Aquaman was a Shakespearean hero by comparison.

Still the story would earn Joseph an A. Keene stamped A’s on every story that crossed his desk because that was how it was done in the Year of our Lord 1969 at this wave-of-the-future, study-what-you-feel-college. And because Joseph or Hoseph had a blank face and a big frame and a certain dead-seaweed look in his eyes that Keene could imagine scoped to the business end of a rifle if he ever woke up. A good thing the college was under-budgeted for a clock-tower.

“But that’s what happened to Okeanos ages ago. When the land was empty and the sea was full.”

Oh boy. Keene had endured this same talk at the boy’s last student conference. It had given him ample food for thought. It had even enabled him to work out a plot of his own.

“Joseph, this is Sarah Maloney. She’s in the other section.”

Sarah extended a lotioned hand. “Charmed.” She brushed the bangs out of her eyes, tossing back her head in a lioness sweep.

“So, Sarah, let’s talk about ‘The Night He Died.’ Your story is corrosive and dramatic. An abused girl thirsting for vengeance against her brutal military father. But perhaps crafting an appeal to straight melodrama would have been preferable to this unconvincing attempt at day-to-day realism.” The grin became sly. “And what’s with the slumming? Do you think you have the chops to convincingly capture a middle-class family? Don’t forget that reactionary cliche, write what you know.”

An attuned observer would have discerned a second conversation flowing below the actual one. Joseph, blinking steadily at something beyond the wall, was not that observer.

“The story, to be blunt, is a little boring,” Keene said into the languid afternoon. “And after all her brooding, daughter pushing father down the stairs is anti-climactic. Why not buy a gun from a pawn shop? Better yet…concoct some mysterious third character who can be persuaded to do your dirty work for you. I’m giving this a provisional A, but it needs more work.”

After the session Sarah fiddled with her makeup mirror until Joseph had lumbered across the room and retrieved his sea-green canvas bag, so that they ended up walking out together.

“Mr. Keene’s quite a character, isn’t he? He knows his stuff, though,” she said.

“I like my story the way it is.”

The bright, well-trimmed April afternoon was a crinkly blanket of blankness, green with potentiality: anything could happen because nothing had happened. It had to be said that Pacific Park College was far from the worst place to tuck oneself away from the world’s confusion (and, oh yes, the military draft) and learn ancient Greek, or integral calculus, or all about the local mangrove trees. As for Sarah–she’d spent her three semesters waiting. She would know it when she saw it. Now, she was blinking.

Read the Rest at Liberty Island

****
image courtesy shutterstock / EpicStockMedia

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A Gen-X Gandalf Mom Casting Thomas Sowell Spells

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Jamie Wilson was almost born the daughter of a white sharecropper in Kentucky. She was raised in a family of rogues, rednecks, and Reagan conservatives, all of whom were back-porch storytellers. She could never have been anything but a writer. Today, she owns the website conservativefiction.com and considers herself to be an activist for conservative writers and artists. You can often find her at the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance on Facebook. Jamie is happily married to a U.S. Navy sailor. When not writing or doing something writing-related, she’s usually caring for their five children.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

I started reading early, at the age of four. My fifth-grade teacher introduced me to The Hobbit when she realized I’d read the entire children’s section at our small public library. By sixth grade, I had read The Lord of the Rings nine times. Later I discovered Tolkien’s marvelous philosophical writings, most outstandingly “On Fairy Stories.” In my opinion, there has never been a better summation of what fantasy stories ought to be.

The most influential storyteller in my life, however, was my great-grandfather, William Jennings Bryan Eldridge, known as Windy by his friends because he was always ready to tell a story.

My ‘papaw’ was a well-known scamp and scoundrel as well as a gifted raconteur. He had run moonshine back in Prohibition and was friends with Pretty Boy Floyd. Age did not diminish his penchant for roguishness. He used to take me to Port Royal, Kentucky (a tiny, sleepy community and the model for Wendell Berry’s Port William) where he got his monthly haircut. Afterwards he’d take me to the little general store, where the old men gathered to play checkers and gossip, and he’d commence to brag about how I could read anything you put in front of me “just like a growed-up person.” Inevitably, someone would bite. Papaw would place a $20 bet, someone got the well-thumbed Bible down from its shelf, and the fool who would soon be parted from his money chose a passage. Papaw won his bet every time.

As for movies, I am a child of Generation X, which means I grew up on science fiction television and movies. My parents watched Star Trek reruns religiously when I was a child – every Sunday at noon. Of course we saw Star Wars and the Indiana Jones movies – all delightful examples of real storytelling ability. In college, my favorite writing professor introduced me to Joseph Campbell’s ideas about mythology and I realized that the reason I loved all these tales was that they all drew from the Story, the great pattern all humans instinctively recognize.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I am a fiscal conservative and a tolerant social conservative, by which I mean I am very conservative in my own life and believe that is the best choice but think others should be as free as possible to make their own choices. Fiscal and social conservatism, however, are of necessity conjoined. Social liberalism cannot survive without the irresponsible fiscal practices our country has engaged in for the last fifty or so years. If the financial support of the government is removed from libertine habits, people will of necessity become more conservative socially. Every time there’s an economic downturn, the divorce rate drops, rebounding when there’s an improvement in the economy. If we decreased welfare spending, I think we’d see more people getting jobs, often the jobs Americans supposedly won’t do.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

I’d have to go first with Dr. Thomas Sowell, who is one of our best minds in economics and social commentary, and then with Walter Williams. The one person who most opened my mind politically was probably Jonah Goldberg with his groundbreaking book Liberal Fascism. I also love reading anything by Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, and John Stossel; they all do amazing research and turn up information the mainstream media prefers to ignore. I am also a huge fan of Greg Gutfeld; he was the first genuinely funny conservative I was ever exposed to (Dennis Miller is really a libertarian in practice).

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I’m originally from the tobacco farming regions northeast of Louisville, Kentucky. My family can trace our lineage back to the people who came with Daniel Boone and to the Cherokee who lived in Kentucky prior to that. My culture is nearly all Appalachian. If you’ve seen Justified, that is very much the sort of culture I grew up around, though without so many drugs and explosives used only for non-criminal purposes. I’m a military wife now, so we’ve lived all over. Currently we are looking at transitioning from Augusta, Georgia to Norfolk, Virginia.

5.  What are your writing goals?

Above everything else, I want to promote conservative and libertarian writers who create stories from that point of view. To that end, I own the website conservativefiction.com and participate in several forums to help conservative/libertarian writers network with others of the same political bent and improve their skills over time. We have been isolated for a very long time; traditional writing programs do not welcome us and we don’t have any writing programs of our own. As for my personal goals, in addition to writing short stories, I have three novels I’m trying to finish — a historical, a contemporary supernatural fantasy, and a straight-up high fantasy. I would love to have two of these completed by the end of the year.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

I’m on Twitter at @jamiekwil, and at Facebook under www.facebook.com/kywrite. I also own conservativefiction.com and conservativefeminism.com. Facebook is overall the best place to find me right now.

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I have five children; I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies! I do, however, like dressing up at science fiction and fantasy conventions. I play Dungeons and Dragons with my family; my current character is a blue birdlike Jedi (Omwati, for those who know the Star Wars universe) who sort of fell through a black hole into the D&D universe. Otherwise, I read a heck of a lot of books and go all Gollum over my Kindle and iPad and iPhone — they are my Preciouses, yesss.

Excerpt From “The Biscuit Boy“:

Helen had just finished the dishes and was wiping her hands on her faded apron when she heard the whine of an unfamiliar car making its way up her mountain. Right on time, she thought. It had been in her tea leaves earlier that day: a stranger in trouble. She cocked her head to listen as she moved toward the door, stepping over Pete to pull on her galoshes. Pete’s tail thumped once against the pine wood floor.

“Good dog,” she said absently. It wasn’t a local car; she knew the rattle and skip of every engine down in Ramsdell. This car ran quiet, humming rather than growling. “Must be one of those new-fangled electric cars.”

The rented Prius glided out of the trees, bumping slowly across the exposed stones and dirt of the mountain road. Its smooth angles were somehow alien to the heavy pine boughs and Queen Anne’s lace that closed around it, brushing the pearly green metallic finish. A skinny girl gripped the wheel, focused on inching forward. She looked vaguely familiar.

She had been crying. Helen could see the silvery residue of tears on her face, where the girl had just smudged them away. Helen thought–now who was she? Memories unfolded–a girl from Helen’s class, pregnant, moving away from the shame, never coming back…

“She’s Ida Jean’s daughter,” Helen murmured to herself. “Looks just like her daddy.”

The Prius stopped, and the girl emerged unsteadily. She wore a pink and beige suit, her tan pumps completely inappropriate for the soft loam of Helen’s front yard. She opened the screen door and waited, arms folded. Closer, it was clear that the girl was a grown woman. Still skinny, though. The fragrance of expensive perfume, sparingly applied, wafted from her silk scarf.

The young woman blinked at her. “Miz…Highwater?”

“I believe you need some tea.”

She smiled unsteadily. “That would be welcome, yes.”

Helen nodded. “You just get your son out of the car there and come inside.”

The woman’s smile crumpled, and the tears welled up again. “I’m…alone.”

Helen looked more closely at the car. “I see. Well, you best come in then.”

Read more at Liberty Island

Also check out Jamie’s “Murder at CPAC” story here

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A Demon’s Heart: Can Evil Incarnate Ever Find Salvation?

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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Image via Liberty Island

Abbey Clarke is Liberty Island’s own (and so far only) Editorial Assistant, as well as a frequent contributor to SparkNotes. A graduate of Kings College, she lives and works (for now) just outside of New York City.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

I love Robin McKinley (The Blue Sword is my favorite of hers), Anne McCaffrey (but only the first two books of her Harper Hall trilogy), C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia and Till We Have Faces especially), Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, Shannon Hale, Robert Heinlein, Tamora Pierce, and Brandon Sanderson. I also still like a lot of YA (appropriate, as I am both young and an adult), even those of dubious literary quality. I enjoyed The Hunger Games, the Divergent series, and am currently in the middle of The Lunar Chronicles, a series of books that reinvent fairy tales in a sci fi setting. Just imagine Cinderella as a cyborg. For movies, I am partial to rom-coms: 27 Dresses, Legally Blond, Clueless, etc. They are guilty pleasures, but pleasures nonetheless. I tend to gravitate more toward TV now, with favorites including Buffy, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Community, and New Girl. For intellectual influences, I’ll be cliched and claim the Bible.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I’m a Christian first, but my highest goal in writing is to craft a good story. Politically, I lean conservative.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

I can’t think of a thinker who has shaped me politically. I’ve always hated talk radio–it hurts my ears, and I like stories more than news.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I’m from a small town in Maine called Greene Village. It boasts one stoplight that it does not quite need.

5. Where they’re located physically?

New York City area, but relocating to Indiana very soon.

6.  What are your writing goals?

I am stewing on an idea for a novel that my story A Demon’s Heart (which you can read over at Liberty Island) serves as a sort of prequel or prelude to. One of my goals is to iron out the plot of that story before I dive into a full draft. Another goal is to write a small, sad, complicated little story that I have in my head about cryogenic sleep and a girl with wings.

7. Where can people find/follow you online?

They can follow me on Twitter at @abbeybookaholic.

Clarke,-Abbey

8. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

Probably playing Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, I play a character named Ciara (who is also on Twitter at @CiaraGoesStab) on a Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition podcast called Knife Errant. I tend to play Chaotic Neutral halfling rogues who just want to stab things. I have no idea where those violent thoughts come from.

I also enjoy mixing drinks and crocheting, though I haven’t tried doing both together.

An Excerpt from “A Demon’s Heart

It was nighttime when I first stepped through a portal onto the cold dewy grass of your world. I gazed up for my first look at the stars and a sliver of the waning moon, my eyes squinting in the weak light. Some of you call my world Hell, for it is both fiery and dark, and at that moment those were the brightest lights I had ever seen.

I found an isolated village nestled next to an old forest and settled in for some amusement. Every night for a couple of weeks I would slaughter a half-dozen livestock and their shepherds, and artfully arrange the remains in front of doorways, in the latrine pits, in the pails for drinking water, and in the town square. Sometimes I turned the bodies inside out, or made them as lifelike as anything until they were touched and their skin sloughed off, or pieced together bits of different animals into one. The villagers set up guards at night, so I worked the same artistry on the guards.

Most of them left the village after that. So I moved on to another village and did the same thing. I repeated this cycle a few times. I was eager to outdo all my brothers before me, and I became enamored of the terror I engendered.

One full-mooned night, some villagers had tied a young girl to a pole in the middle of the town square. The village was musty with the thick silence of humans awake and mute, lying in their beds quiet as they could, straining their ears to listen as I walked toward the girl, knife in hand.

She was wearing a white shift, and trembling slightly at the knees. She was young enough to still have spots, perhaps fourteen or fifteen years. Her eyes fixed on me as I approached, taking in my face that was almost human, staring at my blue-black skin and the small horns protruding from my hair. I smiled, revealing my sharp, unnaturally white teeth.

I came within a pace of her and stared down. She was a head and a half shorter than I was. I used my knife to flip a chunk of her hair off her shoulder.

She looked up at me and bared her teeth in a sneer. I cocked my head, noticed a flicker of movement out of the corner of my eye, and turned to look.

The girl pulled a wicked knife from behind her skirt and plunged it into my chest with a twist. “How like you that, devil?” she whispered. Surprised, I was unresisting when she savagely kicked my legs out from under me, thudding me to the ground on my back and knocking the wind from my lungs. She kept hold of the knife and came down on top of me, digging the blade deeper into my torso. I shrieked in pain and brought my hands up to throttle her.

Strong hands grasped my forearms. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a robed and tonsured monk struggling to hold my left arm, and I could feel his brother on my right. But they’d forgotten to close my mouth, so I stoked the fires in my belly and breathed a powerful blast of flame that burned the girl’s face and shoulder and knocked her off me. As I was still a young demon, this effort took much of my energies, and I slumped momentarily.

The men took advantage of that moment, and I was losing strength with the dagger still lodged next to my heart. Though I continued to struggle and bite, they hoisted me up on my knees and bound me with chains to the pole that the girl had been tied to. The first monk grabbed my black hair and pulled back my head.

“Death is too good for you, demon,” he said, and spat on my face. “That’s why we aren’t going to give it to you.”

The second monk jerked the knife down to cut a vertical slice across my chest. I hissed through my teeth and strained to spit a measly gust of flame at him. He turned his head to avoid it as if I were a mere nuisance.

The girl staggered to her feet and knelt in front of me, beside the second monk. “Let me do it,” she said. The monk looked ready to argue, but after taking in her badly burned, yet resolute face, he wordlessly handed her the knife.

The first monk pulled my head back up, so I could only feel, not see, the girl continuing to slice a circle in my chest. With horror, I realized what was being done to me, and I strained against my bonds. The girl deftly finished carving around my heart and reached into my chest, grasping the black, beating organ. My hand reached up as far as I could stretch my chains. The manacles were beginning to warp. In a few moments, my hand would have been free.

“By God, I damn you,” the girl whispered. She pulled, and my heart came out in her hand.

I felt weak, as fragile as a piece of straw. But I wasn’t dead. I wasn’t even bleeding much, though a few black bubbles popped and ran down my chest.

“It worked,” one of the men said in wonderment.

The girl suddenly slumped and was caught by the monk closer to her.

The other, his hand still grasping my hair, turned my face toward his.

“You’re a peculiar beast,” he said, peering down at me. “I know of no other animal who survives with its heart outside of its body. This, more than anything else, is what marks you as a creature of hell.” With his free hand, he crossed himself. “Christ be with us,” he said. Then he struck my head until my world went dark.

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‘I Have No Friends: I Make My Mind My Friend.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Keith Korman is an American literary agent and novelist. Over the years he has represented many nationally known clients through his family’s agency, Raines & Raines. The agency is most noted for representing the books: The Detective, Deliverance, Die Hard, Cruising, My Dog Skip, How to Eat Fried Worms and Forrest Gump. Korman’s novels include Secret Dreams, Banquo’s Ghosts (with Rich Lowry), and End Time (Tor/Macmillan, March 2015).

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Authors, some you may not have heard of:

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Logan’s Run by Nolan & Johnson

Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

And some you have, Orwell, HG Wells, Jules Verne, Larry Niven, B Traven…

Korman,-Keith

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

In constant rebellion against the Thought Police  of the Mainstream Media — if the Conservative Creative gang of misfits ever becomes authoritarian — I’ll be in rebellion against them too.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

B Traven, literary agent/spy/novelist — God, what a role model!

The Treasure of The Sierra Madre by B. Traven  

Great thinkers and philosophers never penetrated my brain as deeply as lines from movies seem to have done, all of these to one degree or another show the war for Man’s Soul, an endless, eternal battle:

Lord Jim (movie)

Jack Hawkins as Marlow:

[Narrating] One hope kept Jim going – a hope common to most men. Rich or poor, strong or weak, who among us has not begged God for a second chance?

The Man Who Never Was:

The quote that opens and closes the movie, “Last night I dreamed a deadly dream, beyond the Isle of Sky, I saw a dead man win a fight, and I think that man was I” is from the song “The Battle of Otterburn,” Child Ballad #161 and appears in a manuscript dated circa 1550. The original reads, “But I hae (have) dreamed a dreary dream, Beyond the Isle of Skye; I saw a dead man win a fight, And I think that man was I.”

The Outer Limits — The Inheritors Part 1

Closing Narration: Man looks up at the stars, and dreams his futile dreams. Child of the universe, his toys are ignorance, his games, fantasy. Not even master of his own fate, it is the Devil’s Puppeteer who stretches his fingers to answer the question: What will happen next?

See on Wikipedia here.

The Outer Limits — The Inheritors Part 2:

Closing Narration: The Inheritors are on their way. In a universe of billions of stars, there are places of love and happiness. On this Earth, in this spot, magic settled for a moment. Wonder touched a few lives, and a few odd pieces fell smoothly into the jigsaw of Creation.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I’m a Manhattan refugee, got out during the crack epidemic of the Dinkins’ era, breathed the fresh air of Dutchess County, and never looked back. It used to be said of European Reformation Cities that, “Town Air is Free Air” – but that’s simply no longer true under the rise of Blue City States Uber Alles.

I live with my wife and two dogs and two horses in Millbrook, and sometimes sell my homegrown gladiolus in the local flower shop.

5. What are your writing goals?

My writing goals can be summed up by this anonymous Samurai poem from the 14th Century:

I have no parents: I make the heaven and earth my parents.

I have no home: I make awareness my home.

I have no life and death: I make the tides of breathing my life and death.

I have no divine powers: I make honesty my divine power.

I have no means: I make understanding my means.

I have no magic secrets: I make character my magic secret.

I have no body: I make endurance my body.

I have no eyes: I make the flash of lightning my eyes.

I have no ears: I make sensibility my ears.

I have no limbs: I make promptness my limbs.

I have no strategy: I make “unshadowed by thought” my strategy.

I have no design: I make “seizing opportunity by the forelock” my design.

I have no miracles: I make right action my miracle.

I have no principles: I make adaptability to all circumstances my principle.

I have no tactics: I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.

I have no talent: I make ready wit my talent.

I have no friends: I make my mind my friend.

I have no enemy: I make carelessness my enemy.

I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.

I have no castle: I make immovable mind my castle.

I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

You can find me at Amazon, FB and Linkdin.

7. Hobbies and interests?

My hobbies boil down to a question of character: Some Day I will be the Man my Dogs think I am.

An Excerpt from Keith Korman’s “The Son of San Idro

I had wandered far into southern Mexico until the village of San Idro rose out of a hovering haze. A sleepy town in the hilly uplands of Oaxaca that the tourists never marked on their guidebooks and the drug cartels wouldn’t have bothered over, not even for free samples from the local talent. A post office but spotty cell service. A white stucco church with a bell tower. A decent cantina, and the only place with Wi-Fi, while Radio La Comadre out of Orizaba–pronounced O-reet-zaaaaaaaaah-ba–trickled from a speaker in the corner. Outside, stray goats wandered over small farms, and pecking chickens strutted in the street.

A good enough place to finish the book. My agent had gotten me a six month extension, God bless her, now halfway gone. If I couldn’t finish it here…

Perish the thought. No choice.

Even the town’s name wasn’t complete. San Idro. There were twenty places in Mexico named after San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers and day laborers–plenty of those south of the border. But San Idro couldn’t even afford the extra “si,” the secret “yes” inside Isidro to make the peasants sainted.

A typo of a town.

Rocky fields lay across a plain and a river below ended in the swampy delta of a muddy lake. The burros plodded sadly before my veranda, no tractors in the fields. I wrote, ignoring them. Ate at the cantina and listened to the radio in the background. Drank mescal and sucked on limes. Then just sugared lime juice on ice. In two months I was ready to leave.

It was then I met the crocodile.

Almost every day I went down to the shallow river, casting out a fishing line and bringing a few pages to polish as the cork bobbed. Near my shady tree slept the carved ruins of a temple. A huge stone face gazed with all-knowing calm over the slow water and into eternity, limestone torn from some forgotten mountain. The nameless god. You saw the same almond eyes and generous lips in the village today. Tangled vines crawled across the placid face making the seamless brow seem thoughtful.

As the afternoon grew old, a boy riding a burro lazily made his way along the far bank, not twenty yards off. He waved to me and I waved back. It was then that the crocodile raised its head out of a lush corner of the bank, where it had been basking in the sun–totally camouflaged in plain sight. The dragon was broad and slow and stupid. With red glass eyes which thought little and felt less.

The burro snorted as the boy dug in his heels and flicked his switch. But instead of trotting off, the burro turned towards the water. The crocodile nodded its leathery head this way and that as if pondering which one of us to take. The fool with the fishing pole or the kid on the donkey. Without any presence of mind, except for my own worthless skin, I scrambled up the ruined temple and clung to the stone face. Feet entwined in vines and my eyes sprang tears like a child clutching its mother’s throat. I had idiotically brought the fishing pole with me and threw it away in disgust.

This left only the boy on the burro across the stream. The crocodile smiled, made his decision and splashed into the water, paddled like mad and waddled with stunning speed up the bank. The boy’s face turned a sort of milky yellow. He frantically tried to spur the balky burro along. Useless as usual, I clung to my perch, gutlessly staring, wishing I could only close my eyes.

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image illustration courtesy shutterstock / rudall30

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The Secret Knowledge Vs. A Lethal Elvis Cult in North Florida

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Ray Zacek is a retired fed, now a tax consultant authorized to practice before the IRS. He has also pursued, with indefatigable and stubborn persistence, an avocation as a writer which he now seeks to convert to a vocation, defined as that endeavor which brings in money and status. Born in Chicago, he has lived in California (back when cars had fins and tiny bungalows were reasonably priced), Colorado, North Carolina and Seattle, Washington, residing in Tampa, Florida since 1983. He has written short stories, novels, novellas, tweets, irate letters to the editor, precious bon mots, and plays, both long and short. His full-length play, Desperados, was produced by Stageworks at Gorilla Theater in 2004. He is currently at work on another play, The Devil Takes Care of His Own, about the notorious Tampa bootlegger and gambler Charlie Wall; and a darkly comic horror novel about a lethal north Florida Elvis cult, Don’t Be Cruel.

Zacek,-Ray

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Shakespeare, the secular saint, of course. And I continue to read Dante, in both Italian and the Hollander translation. Swift and the English Augustans; I received a lasting indoctrination in that literature in a class at Northern Illinois University taught by a renegade Irish monk named Shesgreen; he was a leftist, which I abjure, but he gave me perpetual safe passage through the excesses of Romanticism and for that I am grateful. American writers: Hemingway (The Killers, In Another Country and Che Ti Dice La Patria rank among my favorite short stories), David Mamet, Cormac McCarthy, Donald Barthelme, Dashiell Hammett. Poe, of course. And Melville: every few years I reread Bartleby (Billy Budd and Benito Cereno too). I grew up, in the Chicago suburbs, watching Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which may account for my predilection for the macabre, odd, droll and dark. As for movies, I never got over seeing Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil during formative years.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

If I had to pin myself ideologically, let it be classical liberal (the trifecta: limited government, individual liberty, free markets).  I accept neither political party; political parties are highly oxygenated, rube goldbergian constructions by which politicians maintain themselves in power and manage the fractious coalitions that have, like carnival or revival crowds, flocked under the tent. Honest men in politics, it is said, are like virgins in a whorehouse; if they go there at all, they do not last long. Having worked 30 years for the federal government, for one of its most onerous agencies, the IRS (today even more onerous, thank you, Lois!), and now collecting its pension, I’d be a fool and hypocrite to be anti-government and anti-taxation. I believe in light regulation and lower taxes (I grew up in a frugal middle class household, immigrant grandparents from the Old Country, who firmly believed you ought to keep your money), and that government functions, and maintains the trust of its citizens, when it operates within limits, preferably constitutional, pitchforks and torches being too labor intensive.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Confessional: I was a Standard Liberal, brain dead and reflexively voting Democrat until Y2K. Then, late in life, I reassessed. I read Camille Paglia, an independent and outspoken liberal, thus shattering complacency. I started reading David Horowitz (I have an autographed copy of Radical Son) and listening to Rush Limbaugh. I will make no reference to Damascus or Pauline conversion, which would be pretentious as hell, but at that point in my life there was no turning back. I started reading Hayek, Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson, and David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

Nativity: Chicago, Little Company of Mary Hospital, Evergreen Park, Illinois. Grew up in Palos Hills on the outer edge of Cook County, at the time, way out there the busses didn’t run. That area of SW Cook County was, in legend, where you went when you were taken for a ride during the Capone era; bodies turned up there.  I have lived in, or have strong ties to and often visited, Texas, Arizona, California, Seattle, Denver, and North Carolina, living in Florida since 1983.

5. What are your writing goals?

Two hundred fifty to five hundred words a day, often simply exercises or tangents that I organize as Fragments; if a particular Fragment starts to cohere over time, it may graduate to a Work in Progress and a Work in Progress, after indefatigable effort, is sometimes Finished. Currently, I am at work on a darkly comic/horror novel, Don’t Be Cruel, about a north Florida Elvis cult, as well as short stories: one about a man covered with tats (of course, being a horror story, they are not tats), another a noir story about Jimmy from Algiers, a Louisiana hit man in love in Texas.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

Other than FB, Twitter and an amazon page I have no real presence on line.  Website TBD.

7. Hobbies?

Mi piacciono tutte cose italiano: especially, Beretta pistols (owning an M9 and a 3032 Tomcat); Nardini grappa, cedro ormandorla; and Monica Bellucci. The history of Rome, republican and empire, retains my interest, as it did the Founders. And I’ve always been crazy about Westerns and film noir.

An Excerpt from “Chrysalis” by Ray Zacek… 

Welcome to Leclerc USA, thought Coffman as he cruised down a potholed stretch of highway called Memorial Boulevard. Some of the potholes were real craters.

Leclerc County, its county seat the mid-sized city of the same name, was one of the poorest Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the southeast United States. This had been abundantly evident to Coffman as he had driven from the airport past the abandoned storefronts, several of them burned out; derelict shopping malls and cheap by-the-month, by-the-week, by-the-hour motels. Pawnshops proliferated. Many of the billboard signs on the highway were blank or shredded, others peppered with holes that looked like small-arms fire.

I go where they send me, thought Coffman. Even here to Somalia on the Mississippi.

“This is highly irregular,” said Dr. Ahmad Jones after Coffman parked the flex-fuel Ford Fueron SUV outside the county morgue and got out.

The county’s Medical Examiner wore a charcoal gray wool suit and a tie despite the heat and humidity. Coffman thanked the ME for taking time to meet on such short notice, this banal and perfunctory statement being more or less obligatory, and offered him the folding plastic case that displayed Coffman’s federally issued ID.

“Is there a problem with my credentials?” Coffman asked, knowing there wasn’t. His credentials were in perfect form: impressive-looking, innocuous, and completely deceptive, a screen meant to conceal his actual function from petty local satraps like Doctor Ahmad Jones.

Don’t alarm the public was the basic tenet of the job. Don’t alarm the public, and get in and out quickly. And Coffman, who lived in a high-rise condo between D.C. and Baltimore, wanted to get out of Leclerc as soon as humanly possible.

“No, Mr. Coffman, there is no problem with your credentials,” Jones said, handing them back. The ME was agitated.

“Something else?”

“This investigation, I must say, is highly irregular. I want to go on record as saying.”

“Duly noted.”

“And you can’t park there. That’s a handicapped space.”

In the vast parking area, simmering in the heat, there were only three vehicles: the rental that Coffman had picked up at the airport; a late-model white Lexus in the space reserved for the ME; and a real piece of shit, a pond scum-green Buick with primer-gray fenders and a cracked windshield, its muffler hanging by a wire, in staff parking.

“Are you kidding me?”

Jones made a squeezed-lemon face. “No, Mr. Coffman, I am not a jocular man.”

“Jocular?”

“I do not indulge in humor or badinage.”

“I’m not moving the car,” said Coffman. He was a stocky, muscular man and he put on his no-nonsense, hard-as-concrete face. The ME was older and smaller–bantamweight.

“Hmph,” said Jones, frowning and peering at Coffman through red horn-rimmed glasses. “Very well then.”

Coffman gestured toward the building. “Shall we go in?”

The complex was housed in leased premises where a now-defunct computer superstore formerly operated. It was a snowfall white, cube-shaped edifice, modernist and bland, with a bright orange trim.

“One moment,” said Jones, “while I speak to my wife.” He strode to the Lexus and said a few hushed words to the young woman in a hijab sitting behind the wheel. Her face was the color of cocoa, her features soft and compliant. She nodded, started the Lexus, dropped it in gear and backed up, zigzagged, and pulled out. Doctor Jones watched her drive away. Then he strode back toward Coffman. “Let us proceed. This way, Mr. Coffman.”

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3 Politically Incorrect Fantasy Writers You Don’t Want to Miss

Saturday, March 29th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the first collection of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Each weekend we’ll expand this collection to include the authors featured during the week. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

1. Mike Baron: Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

2. Steve Poling: Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

3. Will Collier: What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

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What If the Soviets Had Succeeded in Capturing a Supernatural Creature?

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Liberty Island
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Image via Liberty Island / Mike Kilgore

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Will Collier was one of the first bloggers on the internet, founding the “Will’s World” site in 1997, long before the word “blog” was coined. From 2004-2008, he was a major contributor to the high-traffic VodkaPundit.com blog, where his work was quoted by the BBC, CNN, and the Washington Post, among others. Will is the co-author of The Uncivil War (Rutledge Hill Press, 1995), became a featured college football columnist for Rivals.com in 2001, and maintains his own sports blog, FromTheBleachers.com. His work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Birmingham News, the Birmingham Post-Herald and National Review Online. He is currently a columnist for Rivals.com, contributor to PJ Media, and his “main” blog is WillCollier.com. Will earned degrees in aerospace engineering from Auburn University and the University of Texas, and lives in metro Atlanta with his wife and their spoiled bullmastiff.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

As a writer I am very much one of “Heinlein’s Children” when it comes to fiction, with a heavy dollop of Clarke’s short stories added to my early development.  I remain in awe of Harlan Ellison as a fiction writer and essayist (for years and years I avoided his short fiction out of fear that I’d be unable to avoid the temptation to rip him off).  I am heavily indebted to the novelist Elly Welt, who was the writer-in-residence at Auburn University in the 1980′s; Elly generously took this engineering major under her wing my sophomore year, and remains both a dear friend and an invaluable inspiration and adviser to this day.  Having been an eight-year-old science fiction fan in the summer of 1977, I was as close to the ideal target audience for “Star Wars” as could be calculated.  More recently, I was consumed by the nautical novels of Patrick O’Brien, and dazzled by the ridiculous perfection of Nabokov’s Pale Fire.

In my “second life” as a sports writer, I was heavily influenced by newspaper columnists like Clyde Bolton and Phillip Marshall, and can’t help but be jealous of the ludicrously-talented Spencer Hall of “Every Day Should Be Saturday”–even if he is a Gator-loving weirdo.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I’m a Reagan/Buckley conservative who entertains increasingly libertarian tendencies with the addition or more grey hair.  A youthful visit to the rotting corpse of East Germany cured me of any latent tendencies towards statism in any of its forms.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

I grew up reading National Review, devouring columns from Buckley and Will on a regular basis, then discovered P.J. O’Rourke and David Horowitz in college.  These days, like everybody else, I’m unable to pass a piece by Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg or Mark Steyn without reading the whole thing.  My discovery of Glenn Reynolds and the blogosphere in general over a decade ago led to a long collaboration with Steve Green (aka VodkaPundit) and continuing daily exposure to the vast array of smart, interesting, funny people who insist on writing well and cogently without having wasted four years of their lives in journalism classes.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I’ve lived in metro Atlanta since 2001.

5.  What are your writing goals?

I lack the gene for plotting.  Coming up with original story ideas has never been easy for me, so I am not at all prolific when it comes to fiction. Having missed out on quantity, when I do manage to get fiction written, my goal is for it to be a good piece of writing first and foremost.  If it’s also good contemporary fiction or horror or science fiction or what have you, that’s an added bonus.  And of course, I want to finish (and publish) at least one of my slow-burning novels one of these years.

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

I’m most active on Twitter these days, covering whatever comes across my path at @willcollier. Despite having been a blogger since 1997 (long before the word “blog” was coined), I have not updated either of my ‘current’ blogs much over the past year or so, but on the off-chance I do decide to opine at length, I can be found at willcollier.com and fromthebleachers.com (the latter site focusing on Auburn University and Southeastern Conference football).  I also write a regular Monday-morning column for Rivals’ AuburnSports.com during football season, and contribute occasional columns to PJ Media’s main site.

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

As a true child of the 80′s, I remain mildly obsessed with the arcade video games from that era.  Much to my wife’s chagrin, I insist on housing, repairing and even occasionally playing with several full-sized models.  Speaking of which, if anybody has an operating Atari Tempest they need to unload for a bargain-basement price, please feel free to drop me a line.  Just don’t tell the aforementioned wife…

8. What was the impetus for “Comandante Eternal”?

A:  Several years ago, I took Elizabeth Kostova’s marvelous novel “The Historian” with me on vacation in Mexico.  One of Kostova’s subplots involved agents of 1950′s Soviet satellite security agencies discovering the existence of a rather famous supernatural being residing within their territory, and their failed attempt to capture that creature. The question popped into my mind, “What if they’d succeeded?”  That thought, combined with the sunny Caribbean beach I happened to be sitting on, gave me the germ of the story.

Check Out “Comandante Eternal” by Will Collier:

Jaime Fernandez didn’t look up when Famosa entered his ramshackle office. This was partly because Fernandez had delved deeply into his stack of paperwork, and partly because Famosa did not knock. Then again, Famosa never knocked.

“Drop all that stuff and come with me,” Famosa said with no preamble. “Right now.”

Fernandez looked up, half-glasses slipping down his nose. “What is it? The Lopez woman?” Magalys Lopez was failing quickly. Uterine cancer was rarely treatable on the island, especially among elderly women.

Famosa rolled his eyes. “No. Not her. Come on, I mean it. Right now, and no questions.”

Right now and no questions rarely meant anything good. But long practice quickly squelched any visible reaction. Fernandez moved to stand as Famosa swiveled in the doorway, ordering, “Bring your bag.”

Fernandez nearly turned down the wrong corridor in pursuit. He’d assumed Famosa was leading him to the intensive care unit. Instead the hospital director made for the nearest exit. Fernandez almost opened his mouth to ask the obvious, then clamped his jaw carefully shut.

Outside, Fernandez automatically raised a hand to shade his eyes from the tropical sun. He would normally wear a hat, but he’d left it on the battered filing cabinet in his haste. Once again he almost missed Famosa, who had not turned towards the tiny row of parking for the hospital’s senior officials.

Instead, the director walked straight up to a new (new!?) Army truck, engine running, parked on the side of the cracked street and flanked by two blank-faced soldiers with slung machine guns.

Fernandez halted in his tracks.

“Oh, come on,” Famosa snorted. It’s not that. Would I be coming with you?”

At a loss for a response, Fernandez clambered into the back of the truck along with his boss. The canvas-domed truckbed was full of seated, armed soldiers, none of whom offered either doctor a hand, or moved to make room as they squeezed onto the crowded benches on either side.

The truck wound quickly through the decomposing maze of Centro Habana, rumbled its way east towards the bay, then turned north. Fernandez caught a glimpse of blue water through the flap in the rear tarp. Then, with a jerk, the nose of the truck sharply descended, and the late afternoon sunlight streaming in from above was extinguished.

Fernandez was rocked against Famosa on one side and the burly biceps of a soldier on the other as the vehicle descended a spiraling ramp. He could no longer make out the details of the walls or ceiling beyond the tailgate. The tunnel they were in contained no lights.

After a very few minutes, the truck decelerated sharply and came to a dead stop. Through the rear opening, Fernandez could see a reflection of headlights against a solid wall, but that light went out almost immediately. Then another small, crimson light appeared, flickering back and forth across the truck bed.

Andale, doctors. Come out, right now,” came a voice from behind the reddened flashlight.

Famosa dug an elbow into Fernandez’s ribs. “Come on, let’s go.” None of the soldiers moved. The two physicians clambered over the tailgate and out of the truck.

Fernandez felt hard rock beneath his shoes’ worn soles. They barely had time to touch the ground before the gruff voice barked, “This way, follow me. No talking!”

The lensed flashlight darted towards a steady red glow in the wall facing the silent truck. A single bare bulb painted the color of blood hung inside a steel cage, bolted to a rough stone wall. Below it stood a metal door, bound at the edges and across its center in heavy, riveted bands.

The colonel–for judging by his epaulets, that is what he was, if Fernandez’s fading memory of his own Army service was any guide–banged on the door with the butt of his flashlight.

Fernandez felt more than saw a slash of dim light, also red, as a slot barely three centimeters wide slid open at eye level. The colonel leaned in close and muttered a single, unintelligible word, then stepped back. The light behind the door blinked out, and the eye slit slammed shut.

With the sound of metal scraping against rock, the door squealed open. The doorway was wide–wide enough to allow at least three men to enter abreast. But the colonel held up a hand, then motioned first Famosa and then Fernandez to go in, calling out their names to the unseen presences beyond. Fernandez squared his shoulders and nodded in the near-darkness, as if acknowledging a long-awaited moment, and followed his superior into the gloom.

Continue reading at Liberty Island ….

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Is Cthulhu Tastier Fried or Barbecued?

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Steve Poling was born, raised and lives in West Michigan with his wife and kids. He uses his training in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science as a C++/C# poet by day while writing Subversive Fiction by night. Steve has an abiding interest in philosophy and potato cannons. He writes SF, crime fiction, an occasional fractured fairy tale, and steampunk. His current writing project is a steampunk novel, Steamship to Kashmir–provided he isn’t distracted by something new & shiny.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

I think C. S. Lewis is probably one of my most significant intellectual influences. I fancy The Sixth Sense and any movie that pulls the rug out from you in the last scene. Jerry Pournelle’s “Exiles to Glory” helped me see that Science Fiction needn’t be all world governments run by socialists.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I am a small-l libertarian who’s seriously contemplating capitalization. I prefer democratic solutions to social problems. I loathe politicians who use unelected judges and bureaucrats to evade responsibility for their policy aims.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

In addition to C. S. Lewis, I found Francis Schaeffer, Jonathan Edwards, and John Bunyan quite helpful. As far as THIS century is concerned, I pay a lot of attention to Instapundit and Ace of Spades.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I grew up in western Michigan and after grad school and a short stint out east, I returned to Grand Rapids where I currently live.

5. What are your writing goals?

I want to maintain a sustainable rhythm of writing, finish my current novel, and dash off the odd short-story.

Steve Poling

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

You can find:

* my blog posts at http://diogenesclubarchives.blogspot.com/,

* my tweets @stevepoling, and

* day-to-day commentary at https://www.facebook.com/steve.poling

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I have several first-place trophies for Pinewood Derby and Awana Grand Prix cars. I also have a few potato cannons with which I enjoy launching spuds.

Check out Steve Poling’s Southern Fried Cthulhu

It all started on a Wednesday night last month. I was in church with the missus. The preacher was teaching about the end of the world, the Beast, and the Antichrist. He was chock full of piss and vinegar, going on about the fearsome Day of the Lord.

That’s when we heard the screaming. The reasonable thing to do was stop and see what the fuss was about. But Pastor Kingsfield just kept preaching, only louder.

I got up to see what was happening and he shouted at me to sit back down and take heed of the word of the Lord. So I sat.

I heard gunshots and a car crash, but he kept on preaching and exhorting that none could withstand the wrath of God and his sure and just judgment. All the while he was watching to make sure I didn’t get up. I smelled smoke as if Hell itself had opened up and figured the Good Lord was coming back then and there. The preacher must have thought the same thing and wanted to make sure he was found doing right by his flock. He was shouting himself hoarse, warning us of sure and deadly destruction to be visited upon the unrighteous.

Being a deacon, I wanted to set a good example. So I was saying “Amen” a little louder than I had to.

Eventually, his voice gave out and we sang the closing hymn. Pastor gave an invitation and most of the congregation went forward to get saved again. We were sure the Lord was coming back, so we stood around waiting and sang a few verses of “Almost Persuaded.”

Brother Jubal said, “I don’t suppose it’d be a bad thing if we wait for the Rapture outside, do you?” I could tell he was in the need of a cigarette.

“I’ve never seen the apocalypse before and I confess I’m a little curious to see what one looks like,” I said. “Let’s go outside. Revelations paints some right scary pictures, but my imagination can’t quite fill the gaps.”

We went outside and the town was a mess. Cars were wrecked and houses were on fire.

“Will you look at that?” Jubal said, pointing.

There was the First Baptist Church, the new one they built last year, blazing from top to bottom. I had friends that went to that church and I only quit going after I got married and my wife pestered me to join Mount Pisgah Church of the Nazarene.

“You know, Jubal,” I said. “I don’t think that we were saved from this because we’re Christians.”

Read more at Liberty Island…

****

image via lovecraft.wikia.com

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Swimming in Scrooge’s Money Bin With Ayn Rand and Andrew Klavan

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” 

Mike Baron is the creator of Nexus (with artist Steve Rude) and Badger two of the longest lasting independent superhero comics. Nexus, about a cosmic avenger 500 years in the future, appears monthly in Dark Horse Presents. There are twelve hardbound volumes from Dark Horse. Badger, about a multiple personality, one of whom is an animal rights champion, will appear in 2014 from a resurgent First Comics. Baron has written The Punisher, Flash, Deadman and Star Wars among many other titles. He also writes novels. You can find them on Amazon.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

Uncle Scrooge, John D. MacDonald, Philip Jose Farmer.  You cannot imagine the impact LAWRENCE OF ARABIA had on me when I first saw it at age fourteen. Today I admire and try to emulate, at least in so far as moral fiction, David Mamet and Andrew Klavan. My mind is a fever swamp of monster movies, comic books and rock and roll.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

Conservative with libertarian leanings.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Cicero, Epictetus, David Mamet, Thomas Sowell, Ayn Rand.

4. Where are you from/currently reside?

I am from the leftist sinkhole Madison, Wisconsin.  I live in Colorado.

5.  What are your writing goals?

“You make ‘em laugh a little bit, you make ‘em cry a little bit, you scare the hell out of them and that’s entertainment!”

6. Where can people find/follow you online?

https://www.facebook.com/michael.a.baron.7

www.bloodyredbaron.net

7. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

You now, it’s best I not discuss those.

Check out Mike Baron’s On the Trail of the Loathsome Swine

They got some big wild hogs in Beauchamp County. The one that ‘et my sister weighed 998 pounds. Lord strike me if I’m lyin’. Rose Marie weighed 95. She was twelve when that hog ‘et her. She was out behind the shed planting violets when that hog charged out the brush like a runaway truck and snapped her neck and dragged her off.

Ma and Pa had gone to Morrisonville for seed and victuals, and my older brothers Ned and Ethan were helping Uncle Lamar shingle his barn. I was in the kitchen oiling my catcher’s mitt when I heard Rose Marie yip once and then what sounded like a roto-rooter. It was a bad sound filled with pops and rips. I ran back behind the shed just in time to see that hog drag little Rose Marie into the brush.

I stood there shakin’ and cryin’ for awhile. Then I went in the house and called everyone I could think of. I called Ma and Pa. I called Uncle Lamar. I called Sheriff Dougherty. They all come back at the same time and the sheriff come with lights flashin’. Ned and Ethan drove their 150s. Uncle Lamar drove his Jeep. Ma and Pa were in the Magnum. There was a lot of dust. Everybody was screaming and crying.

“This is a public safety issue,” Sheriff said. “I’m going to round up some good ol’ boys and find thet hog and string it up.”

Pa sidled up to Sheriff and poured quiet strength down on him. “We’ll take care of this killer hog, Simon. We got thet right.”

Those boys played gin rummy with each other every Saturday for the past twenty years. Sheriff looked away first. “I reckon that’s your right, Joe Lee. But you’d better hop right on it before thet hog decides to eat somebody else’s little girl.”

Lamar pulled his thirty-ought-six from the cab rack and fed it some cartridges. Ned and Ethan ran up to the house and came back with an SKS and an AK-47. Pa got his Smith & Wesson .357. And I got my Desert Eagle .50. My grandpa Jeb Lee got me thet gun for my fourteenth birthday and I could think of no more fitting use for it than killing the hog thet ‘et my sister. …

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10 Lies About Creative People

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 - by Michael Walsh
And I do mean alot

And I do mean ‘alot.’

Attention, the Creative Community: does this make any sense to you? One of my pet peeves on Facebook — and you may friend me there simply by looking up “David Kahane” and finding the avatar for Rules for Radical Conservatives — is this kind of list, which purports to impart wisdom but usually just makes your brain ache. Are “creative people” “easily bored”? Do they “think with their heart”? Do they “hate the rules”? No, no, and Hell No, says I.

As the author of six novels (with a new one on the way), one produced script and another heading into production, plus half a dozen sold scripts and four or five projects in various states of fruition (i.e., producer and director attachments), let me say as a member in good standing of the creative community that this list strikes me as better describing a civilian’s idea of “creativity.” For one thing, creative people are not easily bored. From conception through publication of my novel, And All the Saints (winner of the 2004 American Book Award and soon to be available in a spiffy new Kindle and other platforms e-edition), the time elapsed was seven full years. Seven years to think it up, internalize it, decide on the voice (first-person) and the tone, research it on location in New York City and Hot Springs, Ark., write it, get it edited, proofread the galleys and at last hold the finished book in my hand. Was I bored? Not a single time, never, to quote another famous resident of Hot Springs and, as it turned out, a protege of my narrator, the great Irish-American gangster Owney Madden. When the work is going well it’s not work, it’s fun.

Another false meme is that creative folks hate the rules. On the contrary, we love the rules. We internalize the rules. We master the rules. And we continue to love and use the rules even when we are breaking them — which of course we could not do had we not learned them well in the first place. Rules are not arbitrary edicts, but standards that evolve over time based on what works. Only amateurs break them without knowing them — and it shows. The creation of any work of art requires a knowledge of structure, which is why writers and other artists — such as architects — learn how to build from the ground up. They don’t think with their hearts, they think with their heads. After all, the heart can only beat when it’s encased in a solid structure first.

Even “work independently” is not quite right. True, the super-glamorous profession of novelist or screenwriter takes place for long stretches of time with the writer sitting alone in a small room, typing. But nothing exists in a vacuum: writers have agents and editors, screenwriters have agents and producers and directors and studio suits and a horde of other colleagues once the film is actually being made. We interact constantly and symbiotically, and benefit both emotionally and (some of the time, anyway) financially.

One thing that’s true: we do make lots of mistakes, with the bones of countless false starts, misdirections and even whole drafts buried in our back yards. And it’s also true that we change our mind(s) “alot.” A. Lot. We also learn how to spell. Meanwhile, back on the home front:

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How To Create Fantastic Covers For Your E-Books

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt

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Editor’s Note: This supplement to Sarah Hoyt’s Selling Your Writing In 13 Weeks series first ran during January and February of 2014. Independent authors and self-publishing entrepreneurs should also check out Sarah and Charlie Martin’s weekly Book Plug Friday series where they can submit their books for inclusion. 

Part 1: How to Judge Good Covers From Bad

Part 2: How to Create Your Covers Affordably

Part 3: The Tools You Need To Get Started

4 Ways Websites Get You to Click

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 - by Jon Bishop

going-viral1

Viral “content” dominates the Internet. We see it whenever we log in. Articles ask us to recall favorite items from our childhood or smile at funny animals or applaud someone’s accomplishments.

And we almost always click. The top stories from Facebook — and, to a lesser extent, Twitter – confirm it.

So how do they get us to do it?

4. Brevity

Once you click, you’ll notice that the information contained therein isn’t long. The articles are filled with pictures and pithy captions—which are almost always exclamatory. The writer wants to bring you into his piece, so, he’ll adopt the conversational tone of the internet:  abbreviations, questions, hyperbolic statements.

In fact, without the pictures, these pieces wouldn’t work as well as they do. Take a look at the Tumblr “Buzzfeed Articles Without the GIFs.” It looks like the online journal of a really excited high school student.

But that’s what gets you to read. Most people who are wasting time on Facebook and on Twitter are doing exactly that—wasting time. They’re not taking a break—or slacking—from work in order to read Denis Johnson’s latest story in the New Yorker. They want to zone out for a few minutes. As Derek Thompson observes:  ”For lack of a better term: [These stories are] entertainment.”

So people will scroll through something like this and then get back to the daily grind.

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A 13 Weeks Challenge: Say More, Write Less

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

My new weekday morning writing plan. Inspired by friends... #writing #blogging #newmedia #pomodorotimer #organization

Dear Charlie,

I find it fascinating the way we all seemed to suddenly crash with our ambitious writing plans at about the same time. Is there just some invisible wave, a disturbance in the force to kind of throw off a whole bunch of PJ Lifestyle writers, myself included? It seems like the past few weeks we’ve all gotten sick or had life events of some kind throwing off our blogging routines.

Is this almost a seasonal occurrence perhaps? We’ll figure it out someday. You’ll probably come up with some way to run the data and pick up on some pattern.

[In my case, looking back now, I realize that my consistent, daily blogging stopped on February 3, when learning about Barry Rubin's death. That explains it more than I would've liked.]

But in the mean time, how about we hit the reset button? Now’s the time to start transitioning in the direction that I emailed you and the other PJ Lifestyle regulars about earlier this month: more and shorter posts.

I came to PJ Media almost three years ago with the hope of learning as much as I could from Roger L. Simon. One lesson that he taught and that I’m still pushing to focus on: Do not overwrite. It is a sign that we are not confident in what we are saying when we feel the need to explain excessively.

Make the point in as few words as possible. Roger the Oscar-nominated screenwriter informed the style of Roger the new media editor.

So I’m going to try and do more short posts and I’ll be doing so with the methods you’ve explored in your 13 weeks and organizational series with Sarah Hoyt:

  • Morning Pages – I’ll do free writing in my Moleskine journal each morning
  • Pomodoro timer – I’ll give it 25 minutes in the morning, after my morning reading and running, but before I start the day’s PJM editing.

To these tools I’ll add four New Media practices:

  • InstaGram – photographs of book excerpts
  • InstaGram – handwritten posts
  • Twitter – Current news stories that I tweet about are the seeds of blog posts
  • YouTube – Music, video, lectures – to illustrate and augment posts. Blogs work when they juxtapose image, text, and video.

I’m going to start trying to do at least a post a day, drawing from something in my morning writing pages. Everyday I’ll dive into the editing day with a strong idea in concept and then will be able to quickly assemble a short, juxtaposed blog post from my various media piles, hopefully using a timely story as a hook. Just one or two pages, 100, 200 words – 600 max. Blog posts are best when they’re like jabs in a boxing match.

And I’ve already gone too long. Damn it.

Charlie, you’ve been such a leader and inspiration at PJ Lifestyle. How about jumping in on this style too when you’re ready? All the subjects you’ve been doing so well – health, science, Buddhism, pop culture and book publishing, and feel free to explore more – just aim to up the quantity of posts and decrease the word counts in them. (Sarah, you’re invited too when you’re done finishing up your big writing projects.)

So here’s my new 13 Weeks challenge, for myself and others: during the week we aim to up the quantity of posts, with an emphasis on current stories in culture. Monday-Friday I’m going to aim for at least one post (under 600 words and no more than 2 pages) making one point well. Longer pieces can be saved for our new list-focused weekends and written at a more leisurely pace later.

How’s that sound?

- David

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Karma: Tommy Christopher Fired at Mediaite

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 - by J. Christian Adams

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More proof of Karma: Tommy Christopher has been fired at Mediaite according to the Daily Caller.

For the many who don’t know who Christopher is, he is a front line hack for the Obama administration. He is best known to me for defending Eric Holder’s indefensible dismissal of the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. To Christopher, facts didn’t matter, and he told me so.

From my book Injustice:

The left seemed determined to defend the DOJ’s dismissal of the case simply as a function of defending President Obama regardless of the merits of the case. Consider an email sent to me by Tommy Christopher at the blog site Mediaite. After I testified to the Civil Rights Commission, Christopher wrote me, “Mr. Adams—Did you ever have conversations with any member of the Commission, or their staff, regarding the political implications of your complaint? If so, with whom, and what was the substance of those conversations?” Of course I had no such conversations—I was concerned about stopping voter intimidation, not the “political implications” of my complaint. I asked Christopher whether it would make any difference to him if Coates confirmed my allegations under oath. He replied, “As for Coates, without a stronger case up front, no, I don’t think his testimony is necessary.” To Tommy Christopher and his ilk, the facts of the case were irrelevant—what mattered was circling the political wagons. By September 2010, Chris Coates had concluded the DOJ was falsely describing the dismissal of the Panther case.

Coates would soon testify and corroborate my story, as I knew he would. Coates described an open noxious climate at DOJ where civil rights laws were viewed as protecting only one race and corners were cut to push that philosophy.  But as Christopher said, to Obama flunkies in the media, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was defense. And when it comes to race, Christopher gives Obama a pass, no matter how dirty the deed.

At CPAC a number of years ago, Andrew Breitbart and I were having lunch at a crawfish joint in D.C. when Christopher plopped himself down next to us. He was silent about all the nasty and dishonest stuff he threw my way defending Eric Holder and the Panther dismissal. I guess that’s just the sort of fellow he was, and Mediaite is better off without him.

*****

image via real clear politics

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