All posts by Elizabeth Bent

A small update

Hello, readers! I plan to release my second episode of Solving the Pandemic (described in my last post) next week- I have been too busy to get to researching and writing it, but this might actually be fine since I have been circulating information about it to people and if there are two episodes, they might miss the first, possibly more important episode.

I’ve also resurrected some ideas of mine laying dormant which deal with microbial soil ecology, and I’m pleased that I picked them up again because I think they might lead to an interesting finding. I spent several hours today figuring out an analytical method I had used years ago for a somewhat new purpose, and everything works fine, so that’s good.

What this means for my fiction writing is that it’s on hiatus. I have my most recently finished novel out for critique from friends, but I haven’t made progress on any of my creative writing projects recently. I don’t know about you, but I am finding sustained productivity to be difficult with the pandemic looming over us all. I also have my own personal issues- trauma, which manifests in my “Hamlet’s play” series of accusatory and strange mini-stories that I’ve sprinkled throughout this blog, and bipolar disorder. I might compile the “Hamlet’s play” thoughts into a single narrative, and if I feel especially emboldened, I’ll perform it as a fiction podcast.

In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s podcast episode on how clinical trials are conducted (I’m focusing on the USA in this instance). Thanks for reading.

Been busy: new podcast!

Hello, readers- I’ve been busy trying to advertise a science idea I had on March 28th, and it is actually pretty difficult to do this. I have always had a pretty hard time being taken seriously as a scientist, and being bipolar doesn’t make this easier. I am not entirely sure why, although I rather suspect it’s because I do not think the same way everyone else does 100% of the time. I seem suspiciously creative, perhaps- maybe “too out there”. And my gender might make me seem less authoritative, even when I actually know more of what I am talking about than my audience.

In any case, I am trying a variety of avenues to bring attention to my idea- I find this rather grating because it requires me to promote myself at the same time, and I hate doing this. I started a podcast, and the first episode is here:

The science blog post where I describe the idea I had as well as the difficulties I face trying to get it to the right people is here. I also describe these somewhat in the episode. And I’ve also managed to create video content (a static image plus audio which I managed to record in my closet and cobble together, editing out clicks from my phone and the odd cat meow). My YouTube channel is SolvingThePandemic, and the first video is here.

What this all means in terms of my fiction writing is that it’s temporarily on hold. I do have ambitious plans, or at least they seem ambitious when I add them to the load of other things I am currently working on (some of which, like trying to spread this idea, seem a little more important than others).

This podcast has been teaching me valuable skills, so even if I fail completely at reaching an audience aside from a few friends and relatives, I feel very much like it’s not a wasted effort. And in a month or two when someone better-connected has this same idea, perhaps an internet sleuth will find my work and bring it up. This seems defeatist, and perhaps it is- I’m tired, I still haven’t 100% recovered my equilibrium from dealing with bipolar symptoms not so long ago, and I know I lack a platform. I also don’t know if just having a good idea is enough to get it taken seriously. So much of whether we listen to someone depends on whether we think that person can have something useful or important to say, and unfortunately I’ve struck out many times on that basis even though the ideas I was sharing were, eventually, proven by others to be valuable. It doesn’t matter if you’re right, if no one is prepared to listen, no one will.

In my science blog I mention putting together a hypothesis and companion proposal paper relevant to the pandemic for public archives- I am still turning these over in my mind, only since the archives won’t take short speculative papers I have to submit them to a journal that will take something like a hypothesis. I can reformat my work to be shorter and have fewer references, but this kind of impairs readability, so I’m considering what options are offered by different venues, and what I can afford (scientists usually have to pay to publish their work, for which they are never financially compensated later, and if you think that is a giant ripoff, you are right).

I’m no longer in much of a rush to publish my thoughts formally in a written document- the one idea I really need to circulate rapidly is the one about leveraging clinical trials to try to find solutions to the pandemic in a more rapid fashion, and I laid out all my thinking both in my science blog and in my podcast episode. So I figure if I can reach someone with pull in the clinical research community, that’s all I need- I just need one fairly well-connected person to listen just long enough to understand my point and then my part in this is over.

So while I consider what publishing options I have for my hypothesis paper and associated thoughts relevant to the pandemic, such as how dysbiosis (imbalanced intestinal microflora) might contribute, I will put out as many little podcast episodes as I can (the first is under 12 minutes, and none will be very long). I figure at least I can help inspire and provide hope to the general listener that things will some day go back to normal, and I can hone my skills while I do so. Maybe in time I’ll offer fiction in this audio format, so attempting a podcast is definitely not a waste of time.

In the meantime, please listen to my podcast, and share the first episode if you can.

On Trump

Now, dear readers, I have absolutely no proof- none- that I have ever spoken to Dear Leader Donald John Trump, and I freely admit this.

However.

Should the occasion arise where people may wonder why he’s mentioned me somehow, here are a few conversations or events involving him and his family that seem very real to me, as summarized in a few posts: TreasonCaveatCharacter Diary Entry. I’ve mentioned Trump or “the man in the hotel” more than once at other points as well. The story that has occurred to me intersects with another, involving a figure I am simply calling Evelyn (and I wrote about her a fair bit as well). These thoughts/ memories about Trump have inspired a couple of story ideas that I’m calling Cloak and The Accidental Spy. I am currently replotting Cloak and putting down ideas as they occur for both of these.

What’s real? I don’t know, I’m bipolar, and I’ve been struggling with really odd ideas for years now, and especially the last day or two. They are very convincing, but I have no proof that they occurred. Objectively, they seem unlikely. I’ve been told that they can’t be real.

However. I am not entirely, 100% convinced that I’m making everything up.

For some of of the interactions between myself and Dear Leader or other Trumps, I felt very strongly like there was at least one trustworthy witness, a man. I believe he recorded some conversations. If suddenly this blog, or my science project site, is brought to the public’s attention because people are investigating me, maybe he will come forward. He will also probably have witnessed at least some of the workplace abuse I am complaining of in my last post.

Waiting and watching with interest.

Update: I mentioned elsewhere that I’m having trouble keeping the year straight. This is only partly true. I think I may be getting calls where it’s fairly convincing to me that it’s 2016. This is impossible, right? For me, now, those calls were three and a half years ago. I’m aware that it’s currently 2020. But, for whatever reason, my phone and computer and internet pages and office setting when I get the calls appears/ appeared to me to be 2016. I had/have no knowledge of the pandemic or of Trump being President.

I wonder what this psychological phenomenon is called? It’s spawned so many story ideas about time travel.

I’m also wondering what year I’ll be in should I get a call right now. Should I ever be called to testify this phenomenon is going to make testimony quite difficult.

Pandemic response post #2

Hello, readers!

I’ve been neglecting my fiction writing and focusing on science, and finding a second job. I have one but it hasn’t been paying much.

I wrote something I’m pretty happy with, which I think could be useful, and it’s in my science project blog, here. Basically, it’s a way to use the fact that COVID-19 spreads rapidly and lots of people have probably been exposed to look at clinical trial data for existing clinical trials in a new way. We might be able to get a shortcut to finding treatments that work to combat this virus, and we need all the help we can get.

I wrote to a number of clinical trial companies, ministries of health, newspapers, and now I wait to see if what I’ve thought of finds an audience, and if it will actually be useful. It’s a very simple but potentially powerful idea.

I’m happy to report that my bipolar dreams have been getting a little more normal, so no new story ideas so far (other than my last post’s, which is fairly obvious). I’m keeping up all my disturbing posts (mainly these are from my “Hamlet’s play” series) partly because these may be entertaining, but also because, well, it is in theory possible that some of the events I’ve recalled which I based these posts on could have happened- I do not know, I may never know, and so I’m leaving them where they are just in case they are seen by the guilty parties, and they manage to reveal themselves in their reactions. The dreams about Trump were probably informed by the news, but again, I’m leaving them where they are because it’s frankly a lot of work to go back and edit every post to remove every reference. And… you never know, maybe he did phone me.

In any case, I hope very much to get back to writing fiction soon, and I’m very pleased with today’s idea- I hope that it can be useful.

Pandemic response post

Hello, readers! My mind is on the current pandemic, as is everyone else’s, I think.

I had a pretty neat idea just now, which draws upon actual dreams I have been having.

Suppose you were fifty years or so into our future, and technology to send information backward in time (say, through wormholes created via quantum entanglement) is crude, but workable.

What if you figured out how to send information backward in time to, say, several years ago- and the idea is that the information would be difficult to read on technology that existed then, but not impossible. It simply would be a matter of reformatting the data sent so that machines from a few years ago could read them.

What if you managed to send back information vital to stopping the pandemic- like, say, the results of clinical trials of vaccines and antiviral drugs effective yet safe enough to be used to stop COVID-19? What if you managed to send the information back to people wealthy enough to be able to work with a drug manufacturer, in secret, starting a few years ago, so that in a short while, if approvals can be given to use the treatments, drugs are available and they can be made available worldwide- at no cost?

I love this idea a lot. I’m not afraid to post it publicly because I have a list of over 60 story ideas which I love and won’t have time to write myself, so I am not too worried if someone appropriates this idea. I would prefer to be consulted if someone wants to use this and if a work makes money, but I am resigned to the fact that people steal ideas all the time, and so I think for reasons I am keeping to myself for now, that I’m risking theft of this interesting idea- I am not risking too much, I think.

I guess we see how this pandemic runs its course, but I for one am hoping that future humans are able to intervene to help us in the current age.

In Which Our Heroine And Her Laser Cannon End a Relationship

This is an excerpt from a short story I wrote about the ending of a fraught relationship. You can find the entire thing here.

I paused, hefted the wide canvas straps of the cannon’s carrying bag, and continued plodding up the stairwell. This wasn’t really about Zack, although I was certain that the news media would jump to that conclusion. No, Zack had merely been the proverbial last straw.

I grinned, fiercely.

The cannon was Zack’s fault, really.  He gave me the idea last week, when he came by to pick up his rock collection. Our final meeting began badly. Zack informed me that he had arrived in his customary way; that is, he sat in his convertible and leaned on the horn, waiting for me to come down and open the security door.

Enraged, I had opened my window and began throwing his rocks—each carefully labeled, with a lovingly printed serial number and description of origin—at him, and his car. We exchanged a variety of insults, many unprintable, at full volume, as interested neighbors clustered at windows or on porches.

“Oh yeah?” Zack yelled, in response to a particularly inventive comment of mine on his sexual inadequacies. He picked up a large, green-flecked chunk of serpentine and hurled it up at my window, missing completely. A musical crash somewhere below and to my right marked where the rock had stuck somebody’s wind chimes.

“Well, you couldn’t blow me with a laser cannon!”

A few moments later Zack was distracted by the owner of the wind chimes, who was advancing across the lawn brandishing the sad remains of what had once been a trio of porcelain owls.

A wave of sadness swept over me as I watched Zack confront this new threat. There was something sexy about the way his nostrils flared, and he looked so passionate as he grabbed a piece of broken owl, threw it to the ground and began jumping up and down on it. Melodrama welled up in me, and with images of Scarlett O’Hara reeling though my brain I cried out his name, ready to say that I loved him, I forgave him—

“Shut up!” Zack screamed, momentarily distracted. Seconds later he crumpled to the ground, the unconscious victim of a sucker punch.

I sighed, remembering, and dabbled at my eyes with the sleeve of my jacket.

The fifth floor was, of course, deserted. I wandered past the security cameras without even attempting to hide my awkward bundle. If Steve, my survivalist brother-in-law, and his paramilitary chums had wired the cameras correctly, my movements on this floor would not be recorded. Steve had sworn me to several fearful oaths of secrecy regarding the source of the laser cannon and the video-rigging equipment, and had wanted to seal our compact by tattooing the complicated sigil of the Invisible Defenders of the American Nation on my right wrist. I persuaded him to accept a handshake and a case of Viagra instead.

I dragged the cannon over to my chosen window. Outside, people were milling about, and traffic cops in orange jacket were shooing people off the street. It was still early. I figured I had at least half an hour to wait before the parade floats came into view.

Assembling the cannon was easy. All I had to do was unfold the tripod and slip in the power cells. Cutting a small hole in the shatterproof glass of the window was a bit tricky. The glass cutter Steve had packed for me was different from the one I had been practicing with, but I managed within a few minutes. Focusing the telescopic sight took another few minutes. I flipped the cannon’s main power switch to let it warm up, listening to its high-pitched hum with a combination of glee and awe. Once assembled, the cannon looked like a fat silver telescope.

I stroked the shaft with my gloved hands, imagining I could feel the power running through it, that my hands, as they moved, were crackling with static.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Character diary entry: This one is fairly dark, and in my “Hamlet’s play” series, so if you wanted humor or lighthearted entries, I suggest something else. I am going to post something amusing in a short while to make up for it. -Liz

I woke up again thinking about the docks in Coal Harbor in Vancouver, or was it False Creek? I forget. I had been in Coal Harbor last thing I remembered, before the second attack.

I do not know where the first attack was. I was on Seymour Street, walking to the bus stop- it was late- a woman came up to me with a map, upside down (a tribute to Karla Homolka, perhaps) and she asked me for help finding something. And she said “We’ve all been waiting for you,” and that’s when someone grabbed me, the world went blank, and I felt a needle in my neck.

I did not quite wake up at first.

I was- not sure now where I was. My memories are disjointed. Did I wake up, escape the building I was in, and find myself in the Downtown East Side, or was it Robson Street? They are very different streets, but this was very early in the morning- all was fairly quiet.

The room I woke up in was dark. I managed to undo the knot tying me down, made my way to the door, I could see it because of light coming in under the bottom. I could hear voices. I think I was in a hotel, but what kind I did not know. I checked to see if the door was unlocked.

It was locked. From the outside.

I knocked and a woman answered. She was blonde, I think, but I do not recall a lot about her. It was 1997. This was an adult, not a teenager or child, and she said, “Don’t look at me” and then she said, “Get some rest, you’re up again in fifteen minutes.” My clothes were on the carpeted floor outside the room.

And she closed the door, almost all the way.

I had not looked at her, I was thinking about the door. I had held the door with my foot, just open enough that I could unlatch it again.

I waited until I heard her footsteps recede, and the hall was quiet. Then I left the room, grabbed my clothing, and made my way to the nearest exit.

I forget where I got dressed. Probably in a stairwell. I did not have time to put on the skirt, just the full length leotard. I remember going down a gray stairwell, as fast as I could, barefoot. My boots I had picked up at the end of the hall, outside another door. I held them in my hand. I dropped the skirt.

I put the rest of my clothing on just before leaving, and exited to the street through a fire door. I walked briskly away, not quite running, trying to get my bearings, but mostly trying to put as much distance between me and the building I had been in, the one that seemed like a hotel, a well-kept, clean hotel on a street that held many storefronts. Was it Robson Street?

Was that a bus? Buses were running! It was early, and quiet, but buses meant safety, so I grabbed one that was coming along the street and I took it. I did not care where it went. It was a number five, I think.

I left the bus when it seemed to be going to the wrong way, crossed into Mount Pleasant, walked home from there- a long way, and I ran sometimes, I went as fast as I could, and didn’t rest until I got home.

I knew I would not remember, as my memories kept slipping away as I walked, and by the time I got home, I only could recall being tired and cold, and frightened.

The second attack happened after Evelyn brought me to the people in the penthouse of the hotel. This was itself interesting. I did not know what was going on, who Evelyn was, what her name was… she told me that “you’ll be living here now” and I said I would rather not. I had no idea what was going on. I decided to leave once someone- a man- had mentioned “a boat to Riga” and how I’d “earn my keep”. I was told to “clean up” and was left in a very ugly bathroom, and instead of doing as told I left, again, only this time no one was watching me. My friend, who had come with me, was waiting outside the suite still, looking sadly out the window- he turned and was delighted that it was me coming out, not someone else.

I said, “We’re leaving.” We took an elevator down. My friend took charge. Once outside the hotel, my friend pushed me and yelled, “Run!” and I did. I do not know what he did but they did not follow me. And I did not see him again for some time. Not for a very long time, I am afraid.

The second attack I remember less. I was in Coal Harbor, at the marina, for “a wedding reception”. I had gotten a voicemail from someone- a woman- claiming to be my friend’s new girlfriend, and she told me they were going to this wedding, that there were not going to be a lot of people there and they wanted the bride to feel better about it, so would I come?

This was months later, months after the first attack, and the incident with the people in the hotel (whose names I did not even know, then). I suppose the timing of each event can be correlated with Evelyn’s flight patterns. She did not live anywhere near Vancouver.

In any case, I went to the “wedding reception” in Coal Harbor and found myself in an empty event hall- was it the marina members’ clubhouse?- with myself and a few other people, none of whom were female. People walked past me, looked at me. I would recognize them now. Several said, “it’s her”. I tried to leave.

The next thing I remember clearly is waking up on the dock in Coal Harbor with a plastic bag over my head. I was in a pile of trash bags. The breeze whipped the ropes and lines on the nearby yachts, making that distinctive ping-ping-ping noise. I heard seagulls. It was cold. I took off the bag, and saw my dropped skirt, from what must have been a hotel, lying on the dock nearby. Foolishly, I picked it up. It was a favourite skirt, and I was too poor to replace it.

As with the first time, by the time I got home, I had forgotten everything- and I think they knew this, for when I saw one of the family again, he gloated. I had no idea who he was or why he was gloating. And, guess what, Evelyn was there once again.

Evelyn, Evelyn, Evelyn… let me guess, you claimed to be “my manager” to these people, you claimed I was a sex worker, or exotic dancer, and you misrepresented me to the point where they wanted to kill me. Perhaps you tried blackmail? Pretty clever, blackmailing pretending to be me so you could profit or they’d kill me, and you’d win either way.

And you kept calling me “stupid” because I could not remember traumatic events where you reinforced the amnesia by hypnotic suggestion? I remember in the park, you scared me and then kept saying “you can only hear my voice, you trust only me, you trust only me, you will obey everything I say”- only it took me decades to remember. All the while you had my friend (the one who rescued me from them, and your stupid ugly scheme) tied up in your lies, and it wasn’t until I could talk to him without you around that I was able to start piecing together who he is, and who you were, and what you are. What you have done to me.

And I told him. He knows.

Tick. Tock.

Update on Anagama and my other works

Hello, readers!

I’ve been editing my most recent novel, Anagama. You can read the first chapter of it here: Sneak Peek at Anagama.

I sent today’s version to three friends to read and comment on it, and I’ll share with you the description of the work, and my future plans, that I shared with one of these friends:

“Hi, this is my science fiction novel Anagama, which is set in the same universe as Perigee, some time subsequently. It’s the story of how a pair of mutants considered nonhuman and their allies work to bring justice to a corrupt corporation on Earth, and involves intrigue, shady underworld figures, Cuban gods, and pottery. 

“My next steps are to see if I can formulate a synopsis, outline, query letter, and send this package along with a writing sample to an agency that might be willing to represent me. I also need to go over this manuscript a few more times to make certain I’m happy with it, but I really would like to finish it- this particular project has been on my plate for a very long time! 

“My next projects include possibly revising and adding new material to Perigee, then working on several novels-in-progress (Diamond and Wings), both of which are partially written but both of which I want to substantially revise and improve. I also want to plot and write a psychic spy thriller called Cloak which draws strongly from current events, and is about the fall of a corrupt White House administration. 

“I also have a finished manuscript which I am happy with called Infinity– the story of how the descendants of an important couple help protect their ancestors from cross-time assassination attempts. This story involves wormholes, quantum entanglement, romance and many hideous floral arrangements.”

So, readers, now you are up to date on my current novel-writing activities, just like my friend. I also plan to write some short pieces- I may elaborate on some of the more disturbing posts which are sprinkled throughout this blog (many of which may find themselves as concepts inside larger works I already have planned)- and put them up on Smashwords. Most of my current works on Smashwords are short pieces about Agent Diamond and Charming Guy, and I may elaborate on the backstories of these characters and make them a little more realistic in a series of short stories or podcast scripts in future, and compile them into an anthology.

I plan to write an additional series of scripts for a project I lack a name for which I am calling “October 6th”, and you can read a little bit about it here. This last one is very dear to my heart and I believe it would make a great TV series: it’s loosely based on The Prisoner, but instead of a spy being kidnapped and psychologically tortured to obtain information, a woman is kidnapped, has no idea why she has been brought to The Campus, a strange environment mimicking a university campus, and has to recover her memories of a traumatic event which she is a key witness to. Her ability to recall is manipulated by two people, both at odds with each other- one wishes her to remain ignorant, and the other wishes her to recall.

I hope you enjoy reading my works. I hope to add podcasts to my repertoire of future offerings and am considering, in addition to writing a fictional podcast about Agent Diamond and Charming Guy, practicing with the format and with voice work by reviewing Chuck Tingle books (I have yet to buy one but they look amazing).

I am difficult to reach, but can be contacted via the form on the Contact Me page.

More on Trump

I wrote about a wager which I lost here, regarding whether I would be implicated by President Trump in his plans and schemes sometime in December 2019.

Obviously, this has not happened. I’m watching the Senate trial with interest. My brain loves to remind me that I might have gotten the month wrong (I was remembering this from a while ago, apparently). Maybe.

I will be less surprised than everyone else if he does mention my name sometime during his Senate impeachment trial, because I’ve been expecting something of the sort for a while now, but because I’m bipolar I’m fully aware that my thoughts about this sort of thing are likely to be delusional.

I really hope someone has tapes, if I spoke to Trump on the phone at all, like I think I may have.

I bet a friend a box of gluten-free doughnuts that things are going to get seriously weird during the trial, so I guess I will just have to wait and see how things play out.

Buy a little piece of history

Hello, readers!

Just a little newsy update, no grim short pieces about torments or strange dreams this time.

My novel Perigee is on sale in Kindle ebook version for $3.99 USD!

I like my first novel Perigee but am not 100% happy with it. I messed up its republishing- I failed to get a new ISBN in 2013 even though I’m fairly sure I asked the person I was on the phone with to get one, for example, and upon rereading it, I’m not 100% happy with how it begins. I was thinking of revising it and adding in a novella, or else writing an entire other book, about the character Avesta Brunner-Tsu. She’s a favorite of mine, and her backstory is quite interesting. I plan to pull Perigee from publication at iUniverse, and then re-release it as a 2020 manuscript in a different form.

I was not 100% happy with the interactions I had with iUniverse, so I am unlikely to simply re-release it with them. I’ve been working hard on polishing two other science fiction manuscripts (one, Anagama, set in the same universe as Perigee, and another, Infinity, in its own variant of Earth) so I can start sending one of these to agents. Anagama involves a variety of humanoid mutants fighting for human rights on Earth, corporate intrigue, and underworld criminals. You can read the first chapter here. Infinity involves wormholes, time detectives, assassination attempts, and a series of incredibly ugly floral arrangements. Perigee is a more comedic take on science fiction than Anagama, and describes the chaos that hits a small planetary colony when a potent aphrodisiac is released into the colony’s water systems.

So if you want to get collector’s copies of Perigee, buy them now (you can get the book or ebook on Amazon here) before I pull this version from publication. I plan on changing the cover to something more evocative of the actual novel, as well, so the old version should be easy to spot.

I’m not famous now, though if my incredibly good mood, high energy levels, and lack of brain fog continue for some time, I should be able to pull my writing together enough to finish polishing, submit queries, and find an agent. In a little while, who knows? So if you’d like to take a gamble, buy my book and get yourself a little piece of history while it’s affordable.