Triptych

So- my brain has been overactive for a short while now, and I’ve come up with a third story idea based on dreams I’ve had. I’m borrowing an old title for it belonging to a work I started a long time ago and have decided not to finish: Hypnagogia.

That brings the number of stories I want to tell that are rooted in bipolar delusions to three.

I just hope I can stay productive long enough to get them all down!

My Muse brought me something new today

Hello, readers! I’ve been busy with Infinity, getting about halfway, and I am enjoying the writing process so far.

I had to take a break starting about five days ago, though- I have been dealing with some fairly difficult psychological stuff. I think I made a breakthrough this evening. I certainly feel better now than I have for days.

In all of this, I have renewed interest in a couple of ideas for stories dealing with some of my more frightening thoughts, which I believe I’ve blogged about before. Nemesis is one of those- it’s the story of how a person like me, who is vulnerable to lies and deception (I tend to distort reality and so have a hard time believing odd things really happen) is preyed upon by someone she barely knows, for a “crime” she hardly remembers, it was so trivial a thing to her. This main character’s nemesis is someone skilled at psychological manipulation and she slanders the main character quite often to manipulate others into attacking- and this has the added benefit of hiding who is really behind all the attacks. For many years now I have dealt with ideas that someone of this sort has been attacking me, and so after I’m finished with Infinity I am going to write Nemesis.

I still have to work on a third story of mine, brought about by very disturbing visions I had a year or two ago, of being stalked by a mentally ill person. This one is different slightly from Nemesis in that the stalker is a full-blown psychopath, and the victim thinks all the bizarre things that are said and done in her presence were imagined, at least at first. This idea is a little less defined than Nemesis as it is based on a smaller series of dreams, and I may fold bits of these two story ideas into one. This one is a lot more difficult to think about, and I may never be able to write it.

These new story ideas, disturbing as they are, were brought up to me again tonight by my Muse, who has been talking to me (not literally, but you know what I mean) nonstop for the past five days. I’ve had these ideas, and I’ve had a few personal revelations which have been very life-affirming and beneficial for me, so all is well, at least for now.

I hope to get back to Infinity this week, and make further progress on it. So far I have over 30,000 words.

Thanks for reading!

Having a little fun with “Trumpocalypse!”

Greetings, readers! Work has slowed down so I find myself with more time and, coincidentally, more ability to write as well. This is fortuitous, and I am using this time to work both on my novel Infinity, and an experimental work I’m tentatively titling Trumpocalypse!. This latter work will be in the form of a Quest gamebook, which is a digital version of one of those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. I am currently enjoying myself researching the various rooms in the White House, and a friend of mine who is a graphic artist is graciously donating title page art.

I don’t hide my political viewpoint, so I must say that if you are a Trump supporter, you will not enjoy the latter work. I am not particularly worried about this since (a) more people dislike Trump than otherwise, and (b) the Venn intersection of people who are nerdy enough to enjoy a gamebook, and people who are Trump supporters is, in my estimation, vanishingly small.

 

Just another day in Trumpistan

Well, like most people I know, I’m underwhelmed by the new Trump administration and their demonizing of the press, and reliance on “alternative facts”. Time will show if this is going to be a blip in American history, or the beginning of an ominous era.

In other news, I’m trying to cheer myself up between phone calls to my husband’s elected representatives by writing a silly story. It stars Agent Diamond and Charming Guy and involves a large baking soda volcano. Details to follow at a later date.

2016 slowly rolls into memory

Tomorrow is the last day of 2016, and what a year it’s been. I’ve been dealing with a lot of bipolar delusions this week, and I thought I might share one with you.

Carrie Fisher’s passing has been all over the news. Today I found myself dreaming about speaking to her before she died- several months before she died, actually. We talked about writing and life and she was very friendly. This was over the phone, so I didn’t know who I was talking to. I even heard a weird little voice saying “hungry” and “sausage” and that turned out to be her dog! (It was a dream, so I guess it makes sense that I can talk to her dog as well as her).

I know none of this happened, but I have been inspired to try to rise above my daily fatigue and try to finish my book Infinity.  I know she can’t read it now, but wherever she is, I think she might be tickled to know that it is finished, and that she helped.

Many people died in 2016. May 2017 be a better year for all of us.

Something you can do to help Aleppo

Hello, readers!

I know this is meant to be a writing blog, and I diverted once before around the time of the US presidential election. I know the war over Aleppo has been going on for four years now, and the fact that people are suffering and dying over there is nothing new. Nothing new, I suppose, but today I looked at the faces of people who are trapped over there and I broke down and cried. Surely there is something I can do? Surely something can be done to help these people?

I’m afraid appealing to the better nature of US politicians is unlikely to work, particularly in the incoming administration which seems so hostile to Muslims. I am also not sure that the USA (or Canada, for that matter) wants to involve itself in Aleppo, since they already are still reeling from the ill-advised war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. If anything is to be done, it has to come from from us- from average people, who don’t necessarily have a platform or much political clout. I look at the people of Aleppo and I see people who are just like me- people that are trapped in a nightmare not of their own making, who are suffering because they were born in the wrong country. They’ve done nothing wrong. They need help.

I am begging you, if you want to do something good for someone this holiday season, please- donate to organizations who are on the ground helping people in Aleppo. Donate to organizations helping refugees. Help when and where you can if you can’t afford a donation- speak up when you hear intolerance, offer to volunteer for a local group that is involved in these causes. We can’t just sit by and do nothing. This is not entertainment- these people exist, they need more help than they are getting, they do not deserve this fate.

A list of US-based organizations helping refugees can be found here. If you are not in the USA, you can Google your country’s aid organizations to find out who is out there able to help. If it were you trapped under those buildings, if it were you trying to flee the bombing, you’d want someone out there to help- not just to witness, not to send “thoughts and prayers”, but to send tangible help.

Back to writing

Hello, readers! Now that the US election is over I’ll get back to posting stuff about writing, which is the entire purpose of this little blog.

It seems I haven’t been consuming modern culture nearly enough- I’ve recently been watching episodes of Luke Cage, and while the hero of Anagama (Seth) is not like Luke in most respects, they share similar superpowers. Now, I thought of Seth in 1994, basing him loosely on the dragon in R. A. MacAvoy’s Tea with the Black Dragon. He didn’t have a name until about 1998 or 1999, when I was driving in the rain in Alabama and I heard a little voice saying “My name is Seth.” I heard it very clearly, and I was alone, no radio on, so I just decided it was my subconscious talking about this nameless character, and I named him Seth.

However, all that backstory doesn’t matter to an agent that reads my work and thinks, “Ah, she is copying Luke Cage!”. It doesn’t help that Seth has aspects which make him vampiric, and vampires are passé.  The time for his story was when stories about vampires were at their peak, and so I think while I will keep working on the story I now figure it will only be a pet project for the dozen or so friends and family members who have copies of Perigee. 

.I still have my story outline for Infinity, which was inspired by my own bipolar delusions, and a few other stories based on other delusions which will turn into novellas. I thought briefly about putting them all in one huge book but really, there would be too much going on. It is possible someone else has thought of elements I use in Infinity, but I am hoping that the percolation through my psyche has come up with something entirely new, not something derivative. It would make an interesting study to see how popular culture consumed by a mentally ill person frames the delusions they have- I wonder if anyone has done a study such as this?

In any case, I’ve been remiss about writing much of anything since last Christmas, on the grounds that if it isn’t good, I shouldn’t write it. This is really the wrong attitude to have. I have more free time now, and while energy is lacking I am hoping that inspiration will give me some. I suppose lots of people face this problem of time/creative energy as they go about their daily lives. I don’t have to make time now, but I do have to stop making excuses.

I really can’t understand – rant

I admit, I’ve never grasped why people supported Trump. He has never appealed to me- sneering, misogynistic, abusive, bigoted, and frankly, so poorly spoken he seems to be stupid. He’s cruel. He’s manipulative. He lies constantly.

I get that his supporters have bought into the narrative that Hillary is “just as bad” (every criticism can be demonstrated to be false, but this post is not going to be about that). So their choice seemed like a natural one- if they’re both evil, go with one you feel will “drain the swamp” or change the world, because you feel the world has left you behind- there are economic opportunities in larger centers that might not be available in your home town, you feel sneered at by late night TV comedians, you feel left out.  So bring it all crashing down.

The heartbreaking thing is that when these people try to explain why they are angry, the reasons have nothing to do with Obama and Hillary. Mostly it’s about a lack of good manufacturing jobs- well, those are gone, the world is different now than it was twenty or thirty years ago, and getting mad at those in power because progress has left you behind instead of going back to school and getting a new kind of job seems pretty pointless. Can’t afford school? Neither can anyone else, and Hillary had a plan for combating that, and creating new jobs, but then- you hated her. Trump won’t be able to bring those old jobs back, and hasn’t even tried- he has a history of failing to pay people that work for him, and he also has his campaign merchandise made overseas, not in America.

I’m sorry, Trump supporters, that you have bought into a pipe dream. Along with the dream of good manufacturing jobs comes a lot of policies and attitudes which are racist, sexist, homophobic, demeaning, inhumane. The new Vice President endorses electrocuting gay people to “cure” them. Maybe you overlooked those things because, to you, Trump was “only joking” and you think he’s such a great guy he wouldn’t actually start throwing your fellow Americans into concentration camps, or force “ethnic” looking people to carry identification papers everywhere, or be stopped and frisked constantly. Maybe you don’t know anyone brown or queer so you don’t care if they are targeted by discriminatory rules or lose their right to marry or adopt children. Maybe when you look at Trump you see a savior, a hero, someone that will stand up for the little guy (he never has before, but who knows, maybe he will start).

It’s obvious that I don’t agree. I would love to be proven wrong- so prove me wrong. Donate to the ACLU, or your local mosque. Do something kind today instead of accusing me of being a whiner and a sore loser. If Hillary had won, many of you planned to riot, and none of you lost any rights or privileges under Obama. How exactly did you “suffer” under him, and why was any of that his fault and not the fault of the global economy?

Your choice for President reminds me every day of my abusive ex husband. I remain to be convinced that he is anything but a tyrant, and it remains to be seen if it was foolish to give him even more power. I am not optimistic.

Don’t give up, America

Early on November 9th I watched Donald Trump win the US Presidential election. I was shocked- I truly thought Hillary Clinton, who is better in so many ways, would win. I thought rationality and good manners would win. I thought appeals to voters’ higher natures and a vision of America that is just, tolerant, and inclusive would win.

I admit, it has been hard for me to watch Trump succeed- I am a domestic abuse survivor and sometimes things he would do or say would bother me- a lot. They would haunt me.  The smug, bullying, abusive man who is so certain of himself and his worth despite showing no signs of integrity brings back a lot of memories. However, he’s been elected, and it’s been pointed out to me that the reality I live in now- unsure of whether the legal and government systems put in place will protect me, unsure of whether tomorrow or the next day someone will target me for abuse, unsure of whether my neighbors approve of and support this kind of abuse (maybe not overtly, but tacitly) is the kind of America people of color live in. All. The. Time.

I grieved yesterday- I think America would have truly shone under Hillary- and then today and the next day and all the days after that I’ll start doing my part to make America a safer place, not just for me and people like me, but for everyone.

There are lots of things to do. Get involved in local politics. Write to your senators and congresspeople about issues you feel passionately about, or call them. Organize groups to write letters and call. Organize petitions and protests. Make donations to organizations that stand up for minority rights or for women’s health care, LGBT+ rights and equality, fair and humane immigration, refugee rights. Say something when you see or hear about injustice- most bullies back down when they are confronted in real life, though we all know online they seem to gather courage. If you have white/ethnic/cisgender privilege, as I do, it seems only just to use that privilege to speak up for people that are marginalized or mistreated. Apparently pro-Trump supporters now feel it is OK to harass minorities, and heartbreaking stories of abuse in public spaces and in schoolyards are circulating the internet. Don’t stand for it, if you’re white. Don’t just watch and blog it later- say something. Stop it in its tracks.

I’m going to start by  writing each and every senator and congressperson agitating for the approval of Merrick Garland to Supreme Court. I’ve also learned that a climate change denier is tagged to run the EPA- his name is Myron Ebell and he’s made a lot of foolish comments about the climate so far. I plan to make calls and write, to him and anyone else I can think of, about this issue even though I know it may be a quixotic gesture. I have to try.

Through my tears, I started looking into volunteering for Planned Parenthood and I made a recurring donation to the ACLU. Most Americans agree with me that these organizations do important and valuable work, and I won’t listen to the hate-filled folks that want to trample on minority rights (Stop and Frisk doesn’t help reduce crime and it harasses people of colour unduly– I’d like to see all those smug white pro-Trump folks on TV endure that kind of treatment in their home towns for long) or refuse to let women and their families and doctors make the right decisions for themselves. I am part of a nationwide group called the Pantsuit Nation on Facebook, and I’ve read so many heartbreaking tales of women who were forced by medical complications to choose- if their right is taken from them not only will it not save babies (they die anyway) but it causes immense suffering to both mother and child, for no reason. Anti-choice protesters seem to think that all women asking for an abortion skip in there blithely and don’t give a shit about human life, that we don’t take it seriously, that we aren’t torn to shreds about our choice. I will always fight against that stupid, dangerous stereotype. And Planned Parenthood is often the only source of medical care (they are not an abortion factory-style assembly line!), since they provide a lot of free or low-cost care for reproductive health and contraception. If you’re against contraception, you’re pro-abortion.

I’m also heartened by the fact that Donald Trump is an actor, and was a Democrat three years ago. I am hopeful that his bizarre, misogynist and racist sentiments were just an act to get elected. That they could get him elected makes me sadder than I can articulate, which is why on the 9th I grieved. But today- today I pick up my computer and I get to work.

A message from the future: Your vote matters.

This came to me. It’s too short for Smashwords, so I thought I’d share it here.  I hope you enjoy it, though I predict that Trump supporters will not approve.

—————-

“What’s that?”

Melissa frowned.

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “It looks like… I don’t know.”

“We’re recording, right?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Get all of it,” Melissa Stone’s supervisor, Becky Hargreaves, said. “This is unprecedented.”

“Yes, OK,” said Melissa.

She drummed her fingers on the desktop. The experiment they were running was generating far more output than expected, this closed timelike curve was just spouting data, and that was unusual.

The stream of numbers sputtered, came to a stop. That in itself was not unusual- closed timelike curves generated in Melissa’s temporal physics lab eventually stopped producing data. What was unusual was the volume generated this time around. The experiment had been run a dozen times before, and always with the same volume of data. Why, this time, was there at least ten times as much?

Melissa remembered some science fiction movies she had watched as a child. She kept drumming her fingers on the desktop, looking at the stream of numbers.

“Let’s try something,” she said, and started typing. She had spent time working as a video editor prior to starting graduate school. It was just a guess, but-

She decided to convert the data she had gathered into a two dimensional image format, updated every second or so, and try converting data which didn’t seem to fit into a standard onscreen rectangle into audio format. There were a lot of different ways to do this and Melissa spent a long time tinkering, optimizing the scripts she wrote to do this, until she was satisfied with the result. It was jerky, and low-resolution, full of glitches, but this is what she saw:

A human face, smeared with dirt, loomed onscreen. The face was too close to the screen to be detectable as male or female, and the voice belonging to the face was distorted.

“To the human race,” it said. “This is a message from your future.”

The face grimaced, jerkily

“I only have a moment,” it said, earnestly. “I can’t explain , but I am the last physicist left in the United States after the great Purge of 2050. I have an urgent message for you, sent back to what we believe is a few weeks before the first turning point.”

Something like an explosion in the distance, and the video washed out for a second.

“The first turning point in history is November 8, 2016, in the United States of America. Donald Trump is elected, and while he is only President for fifty days this puts into motion a chain of events which starts World War Three, and plunges the world into chaos.”

The face frowned, wiped its brow.

“Our message, the message of my dead colleagues and myself,” said the face, “is simple- you must change history. You must not allow Donald Trump to be elected. If you can change this event in history, you will literally save the planet. The amount of devastation wreaked as a result of worldwide chaos is uncountable- you must, you must believe me.”

Hands gripped the camera that the face was speaking into.

“My name is Doctor Melissa Stone,” it said, “and I’m the last remaining US physicist- I am trying this experiment in hopes that our experimental wormhole can take this message back in time- I remember it working, maybe it will work-“

Melissa watched as her future self looked over its shoulder at the door splintering in the background.

Future Melissa gripped the camera.

“People of 2016: you MUST NOT vote for Donald Trump,” she said, before the image was jolted into oblivion.

Melissa looked at her computer’s  date and time. It read 4 am, October 31, 2016.

She watched the video again, this time carefully examining the face. It could be her, perhaps- a few age lines, a bit heavier, kind of distorted from the video… but how?

In the morning, she showed her supervisor. Becky watched the video and snorted.

“Is this a joke?” she said.

Melissa shook her head.

“Well, no one will believe us,” said Becky, and made a cutting gesture across her throat. “You can’t put this on YouTube. The University’s reputation is at stake here.”

Melissa grimaced, looking remarkably in ways like her future self in the choppy video.

“But the future,” she said, realizing as she said it that it was extremely likely that nothing she, or Becky, did would change- this video had such poor production values it could have been produced anywhere, and no one would believe her when she claimed it wasn’t a hoax.

“Bury it,” suggested Becky, and Melissa bit her lip.

“All right,” she said, and, after backing up the raw data on one of the lab’s immense hard drives, she deleted the formatted video.

Becky watched as she did so.

“You didn’t keep any copies?” Becky asked, and Melissa shook her head.

“We do the experiment again,” said Becky. “And we don’t tell anybody.”

Melissa agreed, but inwardly, decided- maybe she can’t show the video, maybe her future self would never be watched on YouTube, but there was a way she could be heard.

Melissa opened up her word processor, and started to type.

The future, she thought to herself as she typed, the future of America and the world could hang in the balance.

A few minutes later she had uploaded her short story to Smashwords.

“It’s fiction,” she said to the empty lab. “It’s only fiction… because he won’t be elected.”

Or will he?

Votes matter. Your vote may literally change the future. Vote.