Cheeseburger Gothic

Caitlin Monroe character bio

Posted 9 hours ago into Books by John Birmingham

I was organizing my work files when I came across a series of character work ups for The Disappearance series. Tusk Musso was in there, still carrying all of the baggage we loaded him up with in that 'Build Me a Marine' entry back at JSpace.

And Caitlin. My beloved Caitlin. It was fascinating to read the bio I wrote her before I wrote even a single word of Without Warning. Before I got anywhere near that first line:

The killer awoke, surrounded by strangers.

In my early planning she was more of a 'bionic woman' type, loaded up with inserts and biomods. I stripped all that out, along with a lot of the family history you see here. Her father and siblings, you might remember were much more conventional. Nonetheless, whenever I needed to understand how she might respond to an extreme situation, such as her imprisonment and sexual assault by al Banna, I would return to this document and read it through.

Reading it now makes me want to go back to that series:

Caitlyn awakes in a hospital bed in Paris. She has been taken there along with other protesters who were set up. She sustained a head injury and was scanned. A lesion appears to have formed on her hippocampus, leading to memory problems. The lesion is not related to her head injury.

Name: Caitlyn Monroe

DOB: Sept 1. 1976

Current Appearance: Blonde hair. Grey/green eyes. 5"9. 71kg. Surfer's physique. Long, well muscled legs, unusually powerful arms and shoulders. Calloused hands and sides of feet. Some scarring on left upper thigh. Lower back. Old entry and exit wound right shoulder. Some faded, old defensive scarring on her forearms. Small chip set scar within larger scar tissue mass. She moves with a low centre of gravity and a noticeably feline flow of her limbs. Her resting state is still, almost unnaturally so.

Parents: Father Unknown. Mother. Tamsyn Ozorio. Monroe's mother, a Honolulu hotel cleaner died during childbirth. Turned out by her Brethren family for having sex as a teenager, she won a trip to Hawaii in a Wal-Mart store promotion and stayed there. With no known relatives willing to claim the baby, Monroe became a ward of the state. She was fostered out to a series of homes, staying in none longer than six months. She was a problem child and many of the homes were themselves problematic. At the age of six she was 'adopted' by Echelon and raised by them to become a weapon. She had carers and tutors rather than parents, but the Echelon staff were kind and, with four other Echelon babies, they became her family.

The Echelon Parents, Monroe Cohort: Mary Jane Monroe. 'Mother'. DOB Jul 25, 1970. US Army Lt-Colonel. Psychologist. 'Father' Dave Monroe. US Navy Commander. Psychologist.

Echelon children, Monroe Cohort: Michael, born Aug 2 1996(actual); James. born Feb 3 1998 (actual). Trish. born March 12 1997 (actual). Julianne. born October 3 2000 (actual).

The Echelon Program.

First mooted in the late 1990s, but not activated until late 2002, the Echelon Program took a small number of state wards from a young age and 'adopted' them into Echelon families. They were to be raised, as the children of Sparta were once raised, to be weapons. In their early years the Monroe Family were 'home schooled' near two military bases where Dave Monroe worked as an Army psyops specialist. The Monroe children grew up around the children of other military personnel, forming friendships with them, playing with them, leading otherwise normal lives. They were told from an early age that they were adopted, explaining their age cross overs and physical dissimilarities. James and Julianne, for instance were olive skinned and dark haired, where Caitlyn blonde and fair.

In addition to their normal schooling however, they received much additional tuition. Firstly in foreign languages. After school, five days a week, tutors would train them in Arabic (Mondays), Chinese (Tuesdays), Spanish (Wednesdays), Russian (Thursdays), French (Fridays). On Saturdays all conversation took place in one of those languages, on a rotating basis. When the children started high school, German and Japanese were added to their curriculum.

They also received intense physical training, although it was never sold to them as 'training'. They were simply raised to believe that everyone should play a lot of sport. Their sports included swimming, cross country orienteering, martial arts, gymnastics, pistol and rifle shooting. From as early as they could recall, their father and his army friends would take all of the children hunting. They were encouraged to stalk, kill, and butcher their prey. Occasionally they even traveled overseas to hunt. Foxes in England. Wild boar in Australia. Bears in Canada. One these trips they would occasionally meet other Echelon children, often described as 'cousins' with very similar backgrounds and skills to their own. Caitlyn had a winter hat made out of white seal fur from a pup she had clubbed and stripped herself on one such trip.

As the children grew they came to socialise increasingly with their 'cousins' and less and less frequently with anyone else. Their training became harder and more dangerous. Their academic lessons more challenging. From the age of ten, they began formal instruction in civics, with an emphasis on the idea of public service. At fifteen they were told the meaning of their lives and what was intended for them. They were shown a video of the Twin Towers attack, and later atrocities. They were asked if they wanted to help stop that sort of thing ever happening again. Of course they did. Their conditioning was akin to that of a suicide bomber, but it was life long and conducted with the full resources of a hyper power, and under the tutelage of psyops experts. From the age of sixteen to nineteen the Echelon children undertook the equivalent of an undergrad degree in espionage. They were assessed and their various strengths analysed by the programs administrators. In spite of their unusual upbringing the children, or young adults by now, were not automatons. They were individuals with their own foibles, strengths and weaknesses. Their controllers gradually came to assign them different roles based on their individual talents and inclinations.

Caitlyn Monroe stood out for a number of reasons. She was unusually intelligent, with a tendency to grow bored if not continually challenged. She had been accelerated at least eighteen months ahead of her age cohort in the Echelon academic program because of this. Program controllers speculated that her unknown father may have been the source of her academic abilities. She had a natural acuity for languages beyond even the norm in the Echelon cohort, which was itself a statistical outlier because of the way the children had been trained so intensively in languages from an early age.

She was off the scale in a number of physical indicators. Again, the Echelon children were stronger, faster and had much grater endurance than the norm, because of their life long training. But within this group, Caitlyn also stood out. Her strength, her fast twitch musculature, her cardio vascular health, her eye hand coordination, pain thresholds etc were all significantly greater than her peers. She could have competed for a men's gold medal in the Olympic Decathlon.

Psychologically she returned high scores along both empathic and competitive axes of personality matrices from an early age. In sports and games she exhibited high drives towards dominating opponents, but without objectifying them. Indeed, as she grew older, her ability to empathise with opponents became an advantage she deployed with great effect. Whether playing chess, paintball or judo, she was better able to 'read' an opponent than anyone else in the progam. In later role playing exercises, she demonstrated a unusual willingness and ability to blend into any group, to establish trust, and to betray it, without a qualm if necessary.

She was emotionally self-contained, not nearly as giving as her 'bothers and sisters', and not needing physical or emotional contact to the same extent. Nevertheless, her empathic nature allowed her to understand others needs in this regard, and although she was naturally happiest with her own company, she was able to 'swtich on' with friends, family members, targets etc.

At the end of her 'undergrad' period she was allocated to a specialist training cadre for assassins.

Job: Killer. Caitlyn Monroe is an employee of the Office of Special Clearances and Research (OSCAR), an executive unit of the Echelon Program. Her pay and conditions are equivalent to a US Ambassador. She specialises in deep penetration and multiple target preperation. Rather than individual targets, she is assigned to target clusters, such as independent cells or leadership cadres. She penetrates the target group, gains their trust, and sets them up for sanction by OSCAR. Her operations are deniable. She sets up cells to be wiped out by rival factions. Money handlers can be sold out to criminal interests. Recruiters from radical mosques set upon by neofascist street thugs. Sometimes however, she is required to take direct action herself, and on those occasions she will simply 'disappear' entire clusters. Killing them all and organising for disposal.

Home: Her only home is in the Echelon reserve, five thousand acres of woodland in northern California, at the centre of which is a small compound a little like Camp David where the Echelon cohorts can gather for family events. Other than that she moves from one safe house to the next, or lives wherever her 'cover' might take her.

Interests: Caitlyn surfs, a legacy of her time in California. She keeps three short boards at the compound and when on vacation (six weeks a year) travels to surf breaks with her brother Michael. She has an extensive memorystick library of surfing videos, going right back to Endless Summer and OSCAR subscribes to three surfing magazines on her behalf. She wants desperately to take on the big wave riders at Mavericks etc, but is restrained from doing so by OSCAR, because very few women have ever ridden those breaks, and she would quickly find herself on the cover of half the surfing mags in the world if she did.

She cooks. As part of her language training, she was frequently exposed to the cuisines of the country's whose languages she was learning. She took French cooking lessons in French. She worked as a kitchen hand in an Italian restaurant. Through learning about the cuisines she also learned about the histories and culture of the subject countries. She can relax when cooking and at family gatherings she has become the kitchen boss, taking over from her father, Dave. Mary-Jane was a woeful cook. The children's meals were often prepared by their language tutors, as part of the training.

Fears: Abandonment. Does this gel with her self contained lonesomeness? Or does it explain it? Perhaps she cuts herself off as an insulation against abandonment.

In her early years in the program both tendencies were noted. Caitlyn was content to be on her own, and spent much of her free time reading or playing by herself. But twice, when she thought she had been lost by the family she displayed neither fear, nor paralysis, but rage. Observed by program analysts, she was later questioned about the incidents, one at shopping mall, the other at a fair ground. They concluded that in fact she had suffered an intense fear reaction to being 'lost', but had referred the emotion into a furious rage. All of the Echelon children display understandable sensitivity to abandonment issues, but when tested most of them exhibited normal 'fear' responses, rather than intense anger.

Prejudices: No known prejudices. The Echelon children were raised to judge people and situations on the merits.

Desires: Autonomy. Like all of the Echelon cohort, Caitlyn has a strong desire to please her adoptive mother and father, a programmed urge which was later transferred to her controllers, without lessening any attachment he felt to her parents. Unlike her siblings and other Echelon cohorts in both the US and partner countries, Caitlyn displayed a notable desire for personal autonomy from her earliest days in the program. Translated into adult behavior this manifested itself in such mundane ways as a stated preference for living alone during her college years, and individual leisure activities such as surfing. More significantly she tested high for an ability to work alone, under extreme duress, as long as she had confidence in her controllers.

Attitudes: Caitlyn consider 99% of men to be undate-able, but acknowledges that she herself falls into this category. She has an almost naïve faith in the idea of one true love, but a realistic appraisal of the chances of meeting him. About three billion to one.

She hates commercial television, but loves romantic comedies and maintains a large collection of them on stick.

She reads cookbooks, popular histories and biography.

She hates exercise classes but loves training on her own in a gym.

Her favorite city is Florence.

Her favorite season is autumn.

She loves airport lounges because there’s nothing to do but relax and wait.

Her favorite snack is coffee and a Spanish donut, which she indulges in once a month.

Otherwise she tries to eat only organic foods when not on a job.

She has a contraceptive subdermal insert.

She hates cigarette smoke, but quite likes the smell of pipe tobacco.

She does not vote.

When at home with her family she likes to play board games and cards.

She describes her religion as frisbeetarian, but she is quietly Catholic, mostly non-practicing.

Her room at the compound still contains many of her childhood toys and she is prone to tantrums if it is disturbed while she is away.

Friends: Caitlyn has no friends outside of Echelon. She surfs with an Australian girl, from another Ecehlon cohort. And when in London she always catches up with a financial analyst, another woman, from the UK program. She has no close male friends among her contemporaries, but her unarmed combat instructor, a former marine, is something akin to a favorite uncle. Now retired, he lives in Florida, and she sends him emails and cards via Echelon. He is a friend of her fathers and sometimes travels out to the compound for holidays. A football fan, she has taken him to a couple of games, including a rugby world cup in France in which the American team was beaten 113 to 6 by Scotland.

Enemies: Her enemies are mostly dead.

8 Responses to ‘Caitlin Monroe character bio’

Drew from OZ mumbles...

Posted 7 hours ago
"Her enemies are mostly dead." lol.

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Sparty mumbles...

Posted 6 hours ago
Hits home on what Echelon was really about, which to some degree had to play second fiddle to the main MacGuffin - I'd be interested to read a pre - disappearance novel.

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted 5 hours ago
So, now we can explain Jacqui Lambie.

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Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted 5 hours ago
Wiki entries on Birmoverses. Birmopedia sideline. What this sort of detail shows is what sits behind the books, and that's just one character. A great example for those who want to make a series work.

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sibeen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 4 hours ago
She could have competed for a men's gold medal in the Olympic Decathlon.

I suspect you're jumping the shark with that one a tad, even for a novel.

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Darth Greybeard would have you know...

Posted 4 hours ago
Wife and friend just returned from a talk from Robin Hobb which included some technique. Interesting points of similarity - detailed bios of characters, chapters to clarify characters etc. Apparently Fitz (if anyone reads Hobb) has a whole life story, far beyond what will ever appear in the books. The stories are something that happens to him during a part of that life. Odd coincidence with this topic tonight but innerstring.

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Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted 3 hours ago
I can see them having an apartment near Monterey, California where the Defense Language Institute is set up. That would account for Caitlin's language training. I wouldn't be surprised if some of her swimming and mil grade skills actually come from the Navy SEAL community, they'd be better suited for some of that work.

As for Northern California, I bet in addition to surfing Caitlin probably enjoys skiing, particularly on Mount Shasta. Having spent some time there with Cindy I have to say there is some pretty interesting terrain there.

I gotta say, I think her martial arts training in Japan, which we saw in Angels of Vengeance, was far more brutal than anything the military could have doled out. As a reader, I have to say it was a breath of fresh air to find that some of her killing skills came from a place other than a standard military organization.

That might also be down to the fact that aside from a month of Tae Kwon Doe and another month of Karate, I don't know martial arts.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Chicom Mick has opinions thus...

Posted 1 hour ago
A very interesting read JB. It gives her character even more depth just reading the above details. It's a bio worth revisiting.

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The Secret Life of Passwords

Posted Yesterday into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

Really lovely and thoughtful piece in the NYT about the way our passwords "take on secret lives". It's a great Sunday read.

Many of our passwords are suffused with pathos, mischief, sometimes even poetry. Often they have rich back stories. A motivational mantra, a swipe at the boss, a hidden shrine to a lost love, an inside joke with ourselves, a defining emotional scar — these keepsake passwords, as I came to call them, are like tchotchkes of our inner lives. They derive from anything: Scripture, horoscopes, nicknames, lyrics, book passages. Like a tattoo on a private part of the body, they tend to be intimate, compact and expressive.

Perhaps my biggest surprise has been how willing, eager actually, people are to openly discuss their keepsakes. The friends I queried forwarded my request, and before long I started receiving passwords from complete strangers. There was the former prisoner whose password includes what used to be his inmate identification number (“a reminder not to go back”); the fallen-away Catholic whose passwords incorporate the Virgin Mary (“it’s secretly calming”); the childless 45-year-old whose password is the name of the baby boy she lost in utero (“my way of trying to keep him alive, I guess”).

18 Responses to ‘The Secret Life of Passwords’

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted Yesterday
Yep, so true.
For a 4 digit pin, I mainly use my mate's pin he told me 20 years ago because it is a mildly amusing pun.

And, the secrecy! Write them down. Perhaps put them on post-it stickers on your computer (semi-joke). Because password crackers don't generally find out your password by breaking into your house.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted 21 hours ago
I use two methods for choosing computer passwords. I choose randomly chosen automobile license plate numbers (e.g. 367ULK - taken from the license plate of a Toyota I was stuck behind on California Hwy 395 somewhere near Susanville). Or I do it the way the International Dada Committee chooses the date for their conferences (by randomly drawing pieces of paper showing numbers and (letters and sometimes symbols, depending on the host's requirements) from a box or bag.

Any password with any kind of meaning designed to allow fast recollection can potentially be sussed out.

tarl has opinions thus...

Posted 11 hours ago
If you're worried about someone sussing out your passwords, remember that rubber hose cryptanalysis almost always works.

The goal of a password is making it harder for someone to pretend they are you while not making your own life hell. So you want something you can remember relatively easily, you can touch-type accurately frequently (without having to mumble it), but brute-force crackers won't trip over. That generally means long sequences of words, and an increasing number of applications are allowing that. When you see a password limited to eight characters, it indicates either an obsolete program or an obsolete programmer.

The requirements for mixed case, numbers, non-alphabetics, etc. actually reduce security because they increase the odds someone will put them on a yellow sticky. And with people having to type passwords on iPhones and the like, shifting and selecting numbers have gotten much more painful than typing extra characters.

And let's not get into multinational keyboards screwing around with where the non-alphabetics are - the keyboard you are forced to use isn't necessarily the one you are used to, and the labels on the keys don't necessarily match what the computer interprets the keys as.

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insomniac reckons...

Posted 18 hours ago
I reuse my qwerty password on a lot of sites but figure I'm way too unimportant for anyone to be interested in me, or assume my inconsequential identity.

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Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 17 hours ago
I generally pick something from a book I'm reading, a film I've just seen etc - we have to change them regularly at work, so keeping just one wouldn't work. Having said that, my e-mail password (picked on the same principle) doesn't change and it's become my standard 'go to' password for a lot of things over the past several years.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted 17 hours ago

Marx Brothers had passwords sorted out.

<DL> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: ...you can't come in unless you give the password.</DD> <DD><I>Professor Wagstaff</I>: Well, what is the password?</DD> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: Aw, no. You gotta tell me. Hey, I tell what I do. I give you three guesses. It's the name of a fish.</DD> <DD><I>Professor Wagstaff</I>: Is it "Mary?"</DD> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: [laughing] 'At's-a no fish!</DD> <DD><I>Professor Wagstaff</I>: She isn't? Well, she drinks like one! ...Let me see... Is it "Sturgeon"?</DD> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: Aw, you-a craze. A "sturgeon", he's a doctor cuts you open when-a you sick. Now I give you one more chance.</DD> <DD><I>Wagstaff</I>: I got it! "Haddock".</DD> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: 'At's a-funny, I got a "haddock" too.</DD> <DD><I>Wagstaff</I>: What do you take for a "haddock"?</DD> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: Sometimes I take an aspirin, sometimes I take a calomel.</DD> <DD><I>Wagstaff</I>: Y'know, I'd walk a mile for a calomel.</DD> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: You mean chocolate calomel? I like-a that too, but you no guess it. [Slams door. Wagstaff knocks again. Baravelli opens peephole again.] Hey, what's-a matter, you no understand English? You can't come in here unless you say, "Swordfish." Now I'll give you one more guess.</DD> <DD><I>Professor Wagstaff</I>: ...swordfish, swordfish... I think I got it. Is it "swordfish"?</DD> <DD><I>Baravelli</I>: Hah. That's-a it. You guess it.</DD> <DD><I>Professor Wagstaff</I>: Pretty good, eh?</DD></DL>

Harpo Marx ("Pinky"), whose characters operated only in pantomime, gets into the speakeasy by pulling a sword and a fish out of his trench coat and showing them to the doorman.

Marx Bros - "Horsefeathers"

Halwes would have you know...

Posted 10 hours ago
I watched a lot of marx brothers when I was a kid but have only recently switched on to the incredible dialogue. I think it was the slapstick that must have attracted me when I was young but, reading some of these scripts now, these blokes were incisive social commentators and comic geniuses.

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Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted 17 hours ago
Nice piece, even if it gave me flashbacks. I used to run a couple of networks on the same site, one with about 1500 users, the other only 150. But about 1350 users were teenagers and of the rest, some had grown up with computers as walls of flashing lights in movies they probably didn't like anyway. Security was, as they say, an "issue". There was the adult who argued that he should be allowed to use "password" for every login and never, ever change it. Another claimed to forget so often that eventually her HOD asked for it to be made permanent and semi-public. Kids of course swap passwords faster than STDs which not only allowed file-swapping but plausible denial of the contents of their home drives. Every problem had a technical solution, most of which we set up in advance but the human factor gets you every time - i.e. your boss says cut back on security to "make life easier". Still, at least his default password was m3g@cactus - because he was such a prick. Gaaah! It's all coming back. Is it too early to start drinking?

Therbs asserts...

Posted 17 hours ago
I found vodka with a couple of fingers of apple and mango juice, on ice, topped with soda water is quite the refreshing beverage to cope with bad memories and regret..

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 17 hours ago
This is why people farking hat being forced to change their passwords regularly.

Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 17 hours ago
s/hat/hate

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted 16 hours ago
Yeah. We all hate having to keep changing passwords.
I particularly hate it when my password change fails, with the message, "C'mon pal. You have to do more than just change the number at the end."
What! But that is my brilliant strategy. I don't have a Plan B.

Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted 8 hours ago
Yer all users, that's what. Users! (runs MONDAY script forcing everyone reading this blog to change their passwords. ALL OF THEMMMM)

Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted 6 hours ago
People most likely to not change passwords are those with the most sensitive accounts. The same people who configure service accounts with admin privileges and use the same non-expiring default password for every service account.

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spokenoise mumbles...

Posted 14 hours ago
Man I hate the 'One capital, one number and eight letters' push for non sequenced individual passwords. I can never remember them and constantly need to re change them and then I'm never sure what password is for what site, bank or service.

For me the next killer app is whatever solves this.

Also, no facebook I do not want to sign into everything using facebook.

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John from Canberra reckons...

Posted 11 hours ago
Guessable passwords are a security problem but the bots we need to worry about are probably not (yet) going to be hitting us with social engineering attacks.

So the question becomes "how many goes do they need to brute force it?"

Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted 6 hours ago
Actually at this point brute forcing passwords is straightforward. Throw Hashcat at a hashed password table.

Security needs to be configured to lock out accounts after a number of invalid attempts - that reduces the chance a brute force attack will be successful.

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Ursula K Le Guin serving up some smackdown

Posted Friday into Books by John Birmingham

I saw Le G had been gonged this week for contributuions to American Letters, and that she'd given some sort of kick arse acceptance speech. But I didn't realise how kick arse until I read it.

She gives Amazon a kicking, champions SF and Fantasy writing, and makes you think you really wouldn't want to go up against her in a dark alley without a lot of fire support:

Thank you Neil, and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It’s name is freedom.

Thank you.

16 Responses to ‘Ursula K Le Guin serving up some smackdown’

Buck ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
Fantastic stuff. The world and publishing both need more voices like Le Guin's.

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Naut would have you know...

Posted Friday

Nice sentiment and all, but publishers aren't in just for the fun of it. They can be generous about art once they have a squillion dollars.

Surely in this digital age it is much cheaper and easier to self-publish an e-book and reach a wider market for your niche product than ever before?

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted Friday

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"Books, you know, they’re not just commodities" and there I think you can in a single question divide all those who come to this discussion and what sort of world they would shape if their view comes ascendant.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p></font></font>

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted Friday

"Books, you know, they’re not just commodities" and there I think you can in a single question divide all those who come to this discussion and what sort of world they would shape if their view comes ascendant.

Comment now with less formating cues

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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday


Thanks for giving us the whole thing John. I watched this explode on my twitter feed yesterday arvo and it was obvious she'd touched a nerve. Every single response I saw was in full support.

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Naut ducks in to say...

Posted Friday

I disagree Barnesm, I don't see books as JUST commodities. But I also don't think corporations can be forced to invest into something just because someone has defined it as "Art".

If Ursula is so concerned, why doesn't she set up an alternative? How is she going to determine what is art?

If the retailers are behaving unreasonably then set-up a writer's union and take your product elsewhere. Find a business partner that is willing to take a risk and leverage the art angle.

The speech strikes me as taking the high moral ground without offering solutions or offering to be part of the solution.

Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
"I don't see books as JUST commodities. But I also don't think corporations can be forced to invest into something just because someone has defined it as "Art" never thought they should.

Naut would have you know...

Posted Friday
Ok, so what do you think?

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted Saturday
What do you mean, I think a lot of things.


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ShaneAlpha is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Look just submit already.

You know that you are desperate to read that new series by that well known author "Dave Hooper fights monsters" sponsored by Amazon and Pepsi. See if you can pick the subtle product placement. Marvel at the brilliant wordplay as Amazon and Pepsi are both mentioned in every paragraph. (as legally required).

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JBtoo is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
She is awesome

Bunyip has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Agreed.

Respect.

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Abe Frellman mutters...

Posted Saturday
I've read 'The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas' as part of a course in ethical leadership and the 'good society'. Indeed it bookended the course, and how your perspective on the story changes after doing the course is used as a tool to see how far you have moved away from any 'utilitarian priors'.

Worth the read.

Bunyip mumbles...

Posted Saturday
I can still remember the joy and shock of reading "The Dispossessed"

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Mordwa ducks in to say...

Posted Saturday
Consider me a dunderhead (many do!), but where is the smack down? Art and commerce nearly alway clash; I naively believe that clash is irrelevant as long as the art is good. Or to put it another way; is it more important to be good or popular? And *how much* more important? If "art" is the goal, how much does the money... matter?

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Sweet Jane Says is gonna tell you...

Posted 10 hours ago
Careful, Birmingham, you're supporting a liberal cause for art to be used to progress the ideas of freedom. Her words stand against art becoming captive to capitalism and she hopes for the human right to be free of fear.
A lot of Australians under Abbot understand her wish for a future where freedom is not only remembered - it is advanced.

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Respond to 'Ursula K Le Guin serving up some smackdown'

My mother's bookclub.

Posted Friday into Books by John Birmingham

Little help here? My mother's Bookclub is doing a modern classic for their next pick, and Mum needs to choose the book. She asked me, but I only read books that go BOOM, or nonfiction titles for work. So I'm of no use.

I did think Evelyn Waugh's Scoop would be a good choice. But Mum would like a few more.

So, something published in the last, say, 100 years, that's a recognised classic, and a bit humorous.

Anyone got anything?

51 Responses to ‘My mother's bookclub. ’

Surtac puts forth...

Posted Friday


I immediately thought of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome, but that's older than your 100 year limit so maybe not.

P G Wodehouse perhaps? Some of those Bertie Wooster stories are funny.

Or for something more recent, maybe Tom Sharpe? Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure are the ones that got him deported from Sarth Effrica, but there are a bunch of others - Wilt, Blott On the Landscape, Vintage Stuff, Porterhouse Blue and so forth.

sheps ducks in to say...

Posted Sunday
Tom Sharpe was my first thought. The throwback is my fave.

robW ducks in to say...

Posted Yesterday
Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure were both works of genius. Wilt was amazing.

I see that Mr. Sharpe died last year at 85.

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Surtac mutters...

Posted Friday


And I completely forgot to include Orwell's Animal Farm.

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Peter Bradley mumbles...

Posted Friday

A couple I keep coming back to are

A catcher in the rye, JD Salinger or A confederacy of dunces John K O'Toole

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted 21 hours ago
A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my all time favorites. Every now and then the memory image of Ignatius J. Reilly dancing on a table in a New Orleans garment factory in an impromptu attempt to favorably impress his "Moorish" coworkers makes me laugh out loud.

There is actually a statue dedicated to him in New Orleans. If you are ever there, go see it outside of:

The Old DH Holmes
819 Canal St
New Orleans, LA 70112


Buboe is gonna tell you...

Posted 12 hours ago

Came to the thread to suggest this one. Bump it up

Timmo mutters...

Posted 2 hours ago
I may have to give that another try. I started it some years ago and got quarter the way through, finding the style or characters a bit obnoxious. I also seem to have lost my copy.

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zoot mumbles...

Posted Friday
It's a bit long, but Catch 22 meets the criteria.

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Simon has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
i'm reading Dandeline Wine by Ray Bradbury at the moment. Not really a belly tickler though. Has some wry moments? Might be a trip down memory lane for the older set.

The title probably should have been "Nostalgia Wine"

Simon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
oh and that should have been "Dandelion Wine"

Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted 20 hours ago
not "Dandelion Whine"?

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Bunyip puts forth...

Posted Friday
Not sure how heavy or thinky ya mum and her mates want to take it, but...
  • Steinbeck: "

Bunyip swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
FFS.
..."Grapes of Wrath",
Harper Lee: "To Kill A Mockingbird"
Ecco: "The Name of The Rose"

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Charles King mutters...

Posted Friday
Our book group recently read The Great Gatsby but included the two movies (with Redford and DiCaprio each playing Gatsby) as part of the deal. It was more enjoyable than I expected. The book holds up pretty well, and it was interesting/entertaining to see how different Hollywood generations interpreted Fitzgerald's work. Might be fun for your Mum & her group.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
I second A Confederacy of Dunces (the back story is worth noting too)

and add A Room With a View

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Bunyip would have you know...

Posted Friday
Formatting F'up will be in my first post. FFS with bells on, apparently.

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Lulu would have you know...

Posted Friday
Not absolutely classics, but High Fidelity or About A Boy (both Nick Hornby).

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
Anything by Dean Koontz. That bloke is a genius.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted Friday
and that TV adaptation of his novel 'The Langoliers' should ahve got an oscar.

robW mutters...

Posted Sunday
Yes, and the acting in The Langoliers was awesome. This scene:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYa54e91hfY

is right up there with Marlon Brando's "Hey, Stella!" in A Streetcar Named Desire:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1A0p0F_iH8

;-)

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Misfish is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons. A parody of the kind of book no one reads any more, but hysterically funny none the less.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Yes! That's the one.

JBtoo ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
I saw something nasty in the woodshed

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Quokka asserts...

Posted Friday
Come in Spinner - by Dymphna Cusack & Florence James.

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Murphy asserts...

Posted Friday
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy.

The Things they Carried, Tim O'Brien.

Just a few.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Stuart is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
The World According to Garp.

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Barnesm is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday

I will recommend David Foster Wallace's 'Ininite Jest' becuase its brilliant and the only time anyone actually reads it is if is required.

but my go to book for these things 'My year of Meat' by Ruth Ozeki .

NBlob mutters...

Posted Friday
You are a very bad man.
Infinite Jest is is samizdat.

Barnesm asserts...

Posted Saturday
"gesundheit"

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nick asserts...

Posted Friday
a fraction of the whole by Steve Toltz ,

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted Friday

Not many "classics" in Oz lit that try and make you laugh, they're all so fkn serious and needy.

"How To Hypnotise Chooks" - Max Walker

"You wouldn't Be Dead For Quids" - Robert G Barrett

"They're A Weird Mob" - Nino Culotta

"Johnno" - David Malouf

"In The Worst Possible Taste" - Dr Yobbo (unpublished rock'n'roll friendship shits 'n giggles)

"Merry Go Round In The Sea" - Randolph Stow (fkn mandala symbols, man)

"The Glass Canoe" - David Ireland (written in The Beauchamp Hotel, Darlinghurst in the 70's)

"

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ShaneAlpha would have you know...

Posted Friday
Watership Down.

The Princess Bride

The Last Continent

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Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
The mere mention of that merry go round book still makes me want to stick my head in the oven & turn up the gas.
Senior year at school & again for Australian lit at uni.
*shudders & heads for kitchen.

Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
I did it at uni. Loved it. The book as well.

Timmo asserts...

Posted 2 hours ago
I vaguely remember doing it at school too. Can't remember a thing about it....

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Steph swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Friday
I am in the midst of racking my brains for my own book club selections for next year!
To kill a mockingbird- Harper Lee
In cold blood- Truman Capote
The harp in the south- Ruth Park
All quiet on the Western Front- Eric Remarque

And I really enjoyed The Rosie Project by Graeme Simision :)

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Peanut ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series - lots of references to classic books.

Thoreau's Walden could be thinky+

Naked Lunch starts weird, stays there.

On The Road, Kerouac. Or Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

If they can find copies; Elvissey, or even Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack.

The Three Musketeers and sequels.

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright (won the 2006 Miles Franklin award)

Tiddas by Anita Heiss - it's "about five women who have been friends since childhood who come together for book club meetings". In Brisbane.

Non-fiction - Zombie Economics - John Quiggin. Fer Shere.

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JBtoo is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
Three Dollars by Elliot Perlman
Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted Friday

JB - you've probably already settled on recommending a tome for your mum but has she and her kind read any of the following excellent choices:

Weapons of Choice by JBirmingham
Designated Targets by JBirmingham
Final Impact by Birmingham
Without Warning by JBirmingham
After America by JBirmingham
Angels of Vengeance by JBirmingham

or even the classics

He Died with a Felafel In his Hand by JBirmingham
How to Be a Man by JBirmingham & Dirk Flinthart





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Halwes is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday

Seven Emus by Xavier Herbert. Funny as hell with a terrific plot that twists and turns to the end.

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted Friday
Bluebeard, the Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916–1988) by Kurt Vonnegut

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Anthony mumbles...

Posted Friday
I asked SWMBOB who is a book clubby sort of person. Her recommendation is either "The Rosie Project" or "Mateship with Birds".

Timmo would have you know...

Posted 2 hours ago
The Rosie Project is light-hearted and fun, but not likely to reach classic status just yet...

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted Saturday
I know you are looking for fiction, but if nonfiction is ever on the menu:

Zealot by Resa Aslan
Cooked: a Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

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Durand has opinions thus...

Posted Saturday
Classic 20th century fiction, with a bit of humour?

The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Roald Dahl's adult books, e.g. Kiss Kiss, Tales of the Unexpected.
Perhaps Terry Pratchett

But if you can stretch to non-fiction:

Anything by Bill Bryson.
Anything by Dave Barry (the 20th century's funniest writer.)

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Sinnysider is gonna tell you...

Posted Saturday
I would also like to nominate 'Cold Comfort Farm' by Stella Gibbons, perhaps including a viewing of the exellent movie that sticks faithfully to the original plot.
Josephine Tey's, 'The Daughter of Time', in which an injured bedridden detective tries to unravel fact from fiction regarding the reign and death of Richard III ; would make for lively discussion.

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w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted Saturday
The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining: How to Make and Drink Whiskey
By David Haskell and Colin Spoelman

This book is full of whiskey love. It includes the history of whiskey making, a detailed guide to home distilling, plus cocktail recipes. It is a fascinating read and perhaps a gateway to a new and enjoyable hobby for anybody's mum. Recommended.



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BigWillieStyle ducks in to say...

Posted Saturday
"Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis


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robW ducks in to say...

Posted Sunday
As your mother would be a woman of a certain age, she certainly would remember Herman Wouk and his incomparable The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, The Caine Mutiny and Marjorie Morningstar.

It turns out Herman Wouk is still alive and kicking, and will be 100 years old in a few months. Two years ago he published his last novel at the age of 97:

The Lawgiver

which is a book about Hollywood, scriptwriters, and Moses of Old Testament fame. No doubt the book is not his best, and it's probably like watching a recent BB King concert (he's 89 and still romancing his famous guitar, Lucille), but nonetheless, it's a helluva sendoff for a novelist who has been publishing novels consistently for the past 72 years and has been keeping a daily journal for 76 years...and, of course, the book could always be a springboard for going back and revisiting The Winds of War.

robW asserts...

Posted Sunday
P.S. Apparently there is a strong Australian component to the book.

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Respond to 'My mother's bookclub. '

Burger Lite

Posted Thursday by John Birmingham

Murph reminds me it has been a while seen we've done one of these, and he's right. I'm carrying about 3-4 extra kgs of gut flab after the 'exertions' of triple deadline. So there's no bakery treats for JB at the moment, and I've had to cut the grog back of an evening. (Oh sweet, sweet liquor how you numbed the pain!)

I've got some weight lifting to do later this morning and the rest of my routine is pretty much as always; alternating jujitsu, treadmill and boxing workouts.

I had to bury a good friend a few weeks ago. Heart attack at 47, and not a fit man. The number of times I stopped myself from saying anything to him about his weight...

Brings home the reality.

Go do your workouts and stay away from the bakery until you can see all your toes again.

49 Responses to ‘Burger Lite’

DarrenBloomfield swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
is 47. Abandon's immediate plan for toastie with my coffee...

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insomniac asserts...

Posted Thursday
is 48, and has high levels of some enzyme indicating a fatty liver, which still doesn't appear to be enough motivation to get off my backside. I are doomed.

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Miss Maudy would have you know...

Posted Thursday
49 and ten kilos that won't go away unless I stop eating my body weight in chocolate (yes, personally responsible for the world chocolate shortage)

Miss Maudy would have you know...

Posted Thursday
It appears I have accidentally volunteered myself to play social netball. I am NOT a team player. I dislike 'games' where balls are flung at ones head. I also don't run. Both of which are key components of netball. But if it lets me eat chocolate...

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Simon puts forth...

Posted Thursday
i've got a couple of friends that are in the really overweight category - we are all at 40 and i've always thought of saying something, but figure "they already know". I certainly knew when I was carrying extra and over the 100kg mark (still carrying a little bit more than doctors recommend, but then i'd be a waif if i listened to them).

Are my words going to help or cause tension? Always a tricky subject to bring up. Do i say "mate, you know i love you and we've been friends for 30 years. I'd like to be sharing beers after another 30"?


Lulu has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday
Simon, as someone who is in that category (okay, not one of your mates and not over 100kg, but you know what I mean), my response would probably be something along the lines of "Dude, I'm just fat, not blind."

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted Thursday
I very much regret not saying anything. He was a good mate and we will never see him again. He popped in here once or twice, but he was more active at Blunty where he sometimes posted as 'Westius'.

The last six searches on his iPhone were "Am I having a heart attack?"

Ask me how I feel about the Fat Acceptance jihadists at the moment.

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday
Having been heavy myself, in a relationship with someone else that struggles, and you having been on the same boat, would saying anything have done any good?

The power of denial is pretty strong, hence the six searches concerning heart attack as opposed to one followed by a call to EMS.

Cut yourself some slack, JB.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Patricia Escalon mumbles...

Posted Thursday
I know what you mean JB. I've had to reassess my own routine. My old 1.5 hour yoga routine every day has turned into 30 minutes. And my cycling has become commute only. So I've upped the ante. Four yoga classes a week, and two of them at Teneriffe, which is further to go on the bicycle, plus possible PT sessions coming up.
Got 10 Kg to lose and dodgy liver. Can't afford to loosen up on this one...

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Bunyip mutters...

Posted Thursday
Been seriously shedding weight for the last couple of months. At 1.85m, am now 85kg.

No grog, no going to the fish 'n chip shop, virtually no bread, and no baked custard tarts. Been eating lots of bananas, which seems to not be causing too much grief.

Exercise is still a work in progress; walk at least 2km a day, but I'm leery of pushing my back more than that. Once I'm up to a jog type speed, I'll have a crack at one the karate dojos we seem to have in town.

Had to drop a size in the trouser dept, dug out some jeans I haven't fitted into for about 10 years. Put an extra hole in the belt, looking at putting a second one in.

WIP. Need more cardio 7/10


John Birmingham reckons...

Posted Thursday
Nice work, Bunyip.

Bunyip swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Thursday
The last couple of Burger Lites have forced me to look at my lack of change in the lifestyle dept. I'm not twenty anymore, nor thirty or forty...

Old chassis and transmissions require more maintenance. Except for Greybeard. Because, pact with Those Who's Names We Cannot Mention.

Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted Thursday
The best part is the lack of communication between the various Ancient and Diabolical Entities. I've sold the same soul to five different Ones now in return for various ... benefits. Maybe #6 will manage some weight loss?

Rob would have you know...

Posted Friday
would love to be that weight Bunyip. Hopefully I can join that club in a few months.

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Bangar asserts...

Posted Thursday
Back to just under a ton, and off the grog three days a week. Expect to see the beer companies share price drop ;)

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Stevo of 6069 mumbles...

Posted Thursday
Took your advice JB. Remember the Halls Head Tavern convo well. Along with a boss of mine's chiding it stuck in my craw enough to make me do something from years of well meaning folk and family. Now, 30 kilos lighter since September 2013, now in a workplace challenge to beat one of managment down to Sub 100kg.

I'm gonna enjoy that...

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted Thursday
Whoa, Stevo. Respect!

damian would have you know...

Posted Thursday
Holy moly!

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SpittinChips reckons...

Posted Thursday
Apologies for doing the "this is how you suck eggs" routine, but for anyone trying to get healthier/slimmer using the low fat, calorie deficit method - and finding that it doesn't work (maybe it is, and that's great) - there's a chance you might like LCHF.

No links, no gurus, no unbelievable anecdotes - just sharing some love. Hope that is OK.

Cheers.

insomniac mumbles...

Posted Thursday
I'm trying it, but I think I need more exercise too

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Murphy puts forth...

Posted Thursday
I am 43.

The main fitness effort this semester has been a college level Fitness Swimming class at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Taught by John Aust, Aquatics Director, Instructor, Coach, and my boss on Planet Lifeguard, I can say that I have learned more about swimming in the last few weeks than I had learned over the previous four years of lifeguarding.

The Woman I Love has taken him for three semesters, the current being her third. She has lost fifty pounds by swimming in his class on Tuesday Thursday mornings plus other swims as she works them in. I myself have not lost any weight but my waistline is slimmer, my upper body strength is greater, and my overall endurance is far higher. We both plan to keep at it next semester and on until I get a full time job teaching or simply can't afford to pay for the course.

My regret is that I have not matched the swimming with time in the gym lifting weights.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
got an app on my non apple(HTC) smarty phone called 'my personal fitness'. Its a kilojoule and exercise tracker. So far I've lost 3 kilos. But managed to get lose 5 in total this year from a high of 118kg. So I'm on track to get all this weight off over the next few months. Been running 3.5 ks a day on my treadmill with a weights routine. So its all go from here to stop being an office schlub.

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Squid would have you know...

Posted Thursday
Sorry to hear about your friend JB.

I'm about 20kg off my all time high of 102kg at the moment. The catalyst for dropping the last 10 was doing febfast this year. It's amazing how much laying off the booze helps, along with some calorie controlled food intake. Anyone that knows me knows my penchant for S&W Pacific Ale so laying off the booze was/is no easy feat.

I also got my backside down to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class and was going swimmingly until I found out that I'm not quite as agile as I used to be. 5 months later the bulging neck disc/pinched nerve has settled and will hopefully stay that way. Great exercise though.

Cliffs: 70% is the food/booze, 30% is the exercise.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted Thursday
Thx squid, and yeah you got the math just about right I reckon.

And those Brazilians, they're all about the spinal injuries.

damian asserts...

Posted Thursday
Yeah that rings true to me. Doing a 40km round trip cycle commute twice a week seems not to do much for me if I don't lay off the wine and the pulled-pork burgers. I can sense that getting portion sizes right is going to be hard, but really the calories in alcohol are the easy ones to drop. He says quietly sipping Pinot Grigio...

Oh yeah, 44 and 105kg, a lot of it belly fat.

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pablo is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
My mates made jokes about us all packing on the pounds etc, "building a verandah over the playground" sort of thing.

The same mates asked me along to exercise, and kept asking me to. When I started to lose weight, make progress and notice, I then worked out what they had done. I was fatorexic, I was honestly looking in the mirror and seeing Wolverine, and I was 30kgs or more over weight.

Would I have minded if they called me fat in a rude, or nice way? I'm not sure I would have, but working it out for myself was the best way I could imagine.

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Quokka is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
Goddammit JB I was just about to make snickerdoodles.
I suppose I can go vacuum up a few acres of cat fluff instead.

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GhostSwirv is gonna tell you...

Posted Thursday
Sorry also to hear about your friend JB, all of us I'm sure have stories to tell about personal struggles to loose weight and/or simply get fit.

I'm a non-smoker but like a drink - carrying about 20kgs over my better belt size and fast approaching the same age when my mum had a stroke, she didn't drink or smoke, but her body manaufactured a surplus of the wrong kind of cholesterol, sometimes the writing's in the genes - but that shouldn't stop us from being our best.

Reading your latest posts JB on 'burger lite' and 'ebook thoughts' and the myriad responses by the core of the 10,000 have got me thinking about writing, creativity and health and not in an obtuse way - thanks Mr Boylan.

My beloved has been on my case, as has my family - four sisters, but reading these posts of late makes it strangely more real - some great pieces of advice everyone, keep it coming and JB just keep bashing dem keys, cos I really love to read your stuff.

GhostSwirv

Over and out


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beeso asserts...

Posted Thursday
750kms into 1000kms for the year, which isn't bad for a man with my time constraints. The only weights i do are baby related though.

Rob asserts...

Posted Thursday

mate, I still haven't lost the weight from the first kid.

And now they are both second year at university. I reckon half my eating issues are based around my kids intake. They have to eat a lot, so we eat even though when they aren't home I really don't eat at all. The other issue is eating at work to stave off the boredom. So the office life has taken its toll. But hey of the skinny chicks in HR and PR can stay lean I can get there too.

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
I assume you are saying its OK to "admire" skinny chicks if you are also skinny, otherwise you are a pervert/dirty old man.

Rob puts forth...

Posted Friday
I think there is a saying about using the word assume...

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Anthony mumbles...

Posted Thursday

Back down to a good weight but I can't claim any real credit. Chemo & radiotherapy made me lose my taste for the three major food groups (beer, wine and dead pig). Still, the taste buds have slowly come back and the nasties have gone for now.

Hopefully the weight will stay off since it's not come back on despite the resurgent taste buds. I suspect that a year of deprivation has reduced the inclination to over indulge.


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AuntyLou mutters...

Posted Thursday
Sorry to hear about your friend. We have two friends in the middle/late 50's range who have had massive strokes in the past year...you would think that would be enough to kick our podgy arses into gear. But honest! I have an excuse! I struggle with an ongoing health thingy which means lots of pain & lots of other stuff (nausea, IBS, dizziness etc) which makes extreme (ie most) exercise very tricky. I try to swim some every day...but that is about it. My current meds mean I can't drink & have depressed my appetite for the last 6 weeks or so - but still no weight loss. My doctor looks at me like I'm mad for wanting to bother about weight when I have pain shit to play with but I can't help but think these things are linked. Anyone got any ideas I can play with? I will listen to anything except homeopathy. Oh and well done Anthony..hope those nasties have buggered off for good. That said, not a method I would like to try!!

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JBtoo reckons...

Posted Thursday
49 and have lost 12 kilos in the last year through 5:2, with cholesterol back in the ok range and blood pressure getting there. It's very slow and painful progress (Arthritis limits the exercise) but at least it's heading in right direction.
I doubt speaking up to your friend would have helped JB, the impetus for change has to come from within. But I'm very sorry you lost him.


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Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted Thursday
44 (damn near 45), overweight, not sure of current weight (but know it's far north of unacceptable). Despite that, my cholesterol was okay last time I checked (2 years ago) and my BP has always been on the low end of normal (usually about 110:70) but last week it was 120:82, which bothered me more than it did my GP (she was unconcerned).

I *know* I should lose weight: it's the gap between knowing and knowing how, and between knowledge & action which is the problem.

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Bunyip mumbles...

Posted Thursday
The best bit about losing weight; the feedback from people I know. A mate of mine asked me recently "Have you lost weight?" and then, with a twinkle in his eye, followed up with "Was it deliberate?"

Given he was being a wee bit flirty, (he bats for another team), I told him it was a question of feeling sexy, and as my belly wasn't it had to go. Got a laugh.

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Babes asserts...

Posted Friday
I agree with Murph, be kind to yourself. You weren't almost going to tell him anything he didn't know already. But I am right there with you, I've had to give up booze completely (tears!) until at least the holidays to get healthy again (stomach ulcers--WTF!), and then I plan to finally get back in the shape I like to be in, which is currently about 40 lbs away. And hopefully feel healthier than I have this past year for many, many years to come.

By the way, there's a character in my novel named Murphy! At least that's what he tries to get people to call him, because his first name is Atticus.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted Friday
Ha. Suck it, Atticus!

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Naut would have you know...

Posted Friday

Turn 40 tomorrow, 185cm and about 87kgs of awesome. Smashing the Personal Records on Strava and preparing for my second Ironman in March. Building up to 12-14 hour training weeks, work permitting.

Have ordered a Garmin Vivio band thingy so that paired with an HR monitor I can better track my daily calorie burn. Match that against consumption in MyFitnessPal and see if I can get the body fat% right down.

Being fit is awesome. So many upsides, including the occasional guilt free donut.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted Friday
I'm not sure if your type is welcome here.

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Naut mutters...

Posted Friday
There is no "type" that can adequately encapsulate my awesome.

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GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted Friday

Forever more I shall think of you as Naut-some.

Naut would have you know...

Posted Friday
Where is the "Like" button???

Bangar puts forth...

Posted Saturday
Under the special button ;)

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tqft has opinions thus...

Posted Friday
Stable to down a little.
Unemployment and stress makes for plenty of empty calories combined with chained to a desk looking at stupid job ads.
But I have cutback on the doughnuts

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andy f asserts...

Posted Saturday

lost maybe 3 1/2 stone in 2 years, mostly by giving up,,,, fizzy pop.

fizzy pop is poison, ditch the mixers


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Angus D swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted 19 hours ago
Dropped around 30kg between 2011 to 2013, most of it since I moved to Canberra (for those playing at home, this has meant I've gone from a 36-38 pants size to a 30-32, and from XL/XXL shirts to Small). No magical formula, just knocked off the ciggies, started eating less and exercising more (incl. walking to work). Have put about 5-6kg back on this year, but that's mostly due to lifting heavy weights again.

Overall, for a guy in my early 30s, I'm pretty happy with my health. The goal these days is to keep the workout routine interesting/varied so I stay engaged. Seeing the number of out of shape guys in the office (particularly in their early-mid 20s), motivation is no problem. Kinda wish there was a way to politely suggest they do some exercise without running foul of HR. :-/

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted 17 hours ago
Nice work, Angus.

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Ebook thoughts

Posted Wednesday into Writing by John Birmingham

Just sent my agent two outlines for Hooper ebooks. I can’t really talk about them without giving away spoilers for the main novels, since they follow a couple of the major non Point of View characters Dave deals with.

I would have written these books anyway, but they were a done deal a while ago. Hooper is the narrator (in third person) of the long form novels. We do get inside the ugly heads of a couple of monsters, but we never see anything from the points of view of Dave’s sidekicks.

It was a real problem when I was first writing the books. I had no idea what the supporting characters were thinking. It forced me to rewrite a few chapters in their voices, just to get inside their heads. Those passages don’t appear in the ebooks, but they inform them and they definitely inspired them.

Having finished major operations on most of the main series, with just some page proofing and one copy edit check to go, I have until January 5 to play around with the short form stories. I’ve plotted out two Hooper ebooks, written about half of another one, The Demons of Buttecracke County, and of course I still have Stalin’s Hammer to deal with.

A lot of my thinking time at the moment is given over to trying to nut out how to make it all work; not narratively, but practically.

I’ve scheduled Jan-Sept next year as the initial writing phase of the second Hooper series, but each individual title only needs ten weeks of first drafting. That means I’ll be rewriting and eventually copy editing and proofing three manuscripts in different stages of development by mid year. I’ve just done that, so I know it’s possible, but also a real time management challenge.

Adding to the complexity, I have also finally allotted real time to researching and writing that book on the history of fear I promised Picador so many years ago. It will only get two hours a day, but it will get those two hours every day from Jan 5. It adds up.

So, doing the math. I can devote four hours a day (eight ‘pomodori’ sessions with breaks) to Hooper, and another four pomo sessions (25 mins per sesh, with five min break between) to Fear. My afternoons are given over to wrangling kids and I’ve stopped pretending I can do any really heavy writing of an evening any more. The days of cranking thousands of words a night are over. Orin wins.

Blunty gets written on Monday afternoon. My Saturday column for the Herald takes up most of Thursday morning. So I'm not sure where I have time to commit to regular ebook work. Certainly not during the day. And yet, I really want to do these ebooks. If I keep them to 20K words, they’re not an unreasonable time suck. Perhaps just an hour of an evening, which would deliver 600-800 words, but only two nights a week, with another session on the weekend? With both kids in high school next year, it’s not unusual to find the whole family at their keyboards for long hours on a Sunday. Sad, but true. This is how we live now.

Once Fear is done, a lot of this crashing and grinding of gears will end and the ten hours a week I gave to the nonfiction project can be allotted to the ebooks. But even when I sort out the workflow issues, I still have a gnarly little problem with regional rights.

Ebooks work best when released regularly (ha!) to a global audience. The regularity is a matter of my scheduling. The global audience is a matter of multiple publishers coming to an agreement and working with each other. (Again, ha!) What I would like to do is simply give the rights to one ebook, to one publisher, globally. Say, Del Rey/Random first. Then the world rights to next one would turn over to Momentum. That way everyone gets a feed of the whole pie, not just little slices of it.

Is that kind of deal likely?

Who knows? Luckily, it’s not my problem to sort out. That’s why I have an agent.

Before anyone suggest I go all Hugh Howey and do it myself, nah. That’s not gonna happen. Publishers are good. I like them a lot. Howey’s model works for him. That doesn’t mean it would work for anyone else. I know the value the publishers add during editing and production. It's immense. Sure, I could buy in that expertise, but why the hell would I take on that expense and risk? No, I'll leave that to Hugh.

29 Responses to ‘Ebook thoughts’

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
I've got a project I'm polishing up to send out to market and with some similar time challenges, I set one simple objective for getting scenes hammered out.

I limited each scene to about the size of a typical (for me) FB post or no longer than 500 words. They weren't going to stay that way, I'd flesh them out later and I have been.

Following that strategy I had a first draft for a story of about 4,000 words done within a week while wrangling other commitments.

Might I suggest something similar for the ebooks? A hundred words pumped onto the page here, a hundred there, angling for 500 a day. I managed to do this while lifeguarding, prepping for Fall Semester, dealing with three dogs, and the research effort on my end.

It might be something to try. If nothing else, you can get closer to a point where, when you get a break, you could finish an ebook.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted Wednesday
In a sense that's what I'm doing, murph. I tend to think of any writing sesh less than two hours as nook and cranny work. An hour a night? That's chump change in my writing schedule. I just don't know whether its sustainable

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted Wednesday
I struggle with writing at night as well when it comes to fiction. Still, you easily tweet a hundred words a night. Take some of those words and throw them at the ebooks. Every little pebble you throw at that project will be one less bit of work you have to do later.

I find it works best in spurts of three to four days followed by a bit of fallow time.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches


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insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
I guess your only option is to give up the family. They appear to be wasting your valuable writing time.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted Wednesday
I am fascinated by your ideas and would very much like to subscribe to your pamphlet.

Bunyip has opinions thus...

Posted Wednesday
Solyent Green LITE. As advertised by Greybeard.

Chaz would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
nothing Lite about Greybeard

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GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday

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GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted Wednesday
Apologies if a blank space just appeared - a premature click - or an existential realisation of the true nature of what's inside my head - Insomniac's opine, while likely also true may be a little too harsh.

Perhaps JB you could consider the CLIVE CUSSLER model and simply rope in other authors to do the grunt work. On the first page/front cover you bump your name up a few font sizes and invite the likes of Greybeard, Murph, Shifty, Boylan and other creatures of the 'Cheese' to bang out the text a line at a time.

Either that or you need to clone yourself - and/or asking a favour of Campbell Newman to increase 'daylight saving' - you need all the extra hours you can get.

GhostSwirv

Over and out

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted Wednesday
I thought the blank comment was an ultra pithy ironic non comment. Now that I realize it was a mistake, I feel intellectually obtuse.

Sudragon has opinions thus...

Posted Wednesday
Cloning...eeeehhh, always the problem of feeding and they tend to get uppity and want to be treated like real people.

Go with a Turing Image...better yet, go with three so they can argue about plot points with a 2-1 tie breaking decision process.

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Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday
Swap that for a game of soldiers. Sounds like work.

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Maddoug reckons...

Posted Wednesday
Very pleased to hear you'll be revisiting Buttecrake County.
"SKULL, SKULL, SKULL!!!"

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
Did anyone keep the audio of Bedes' Butte radio play? It was fun.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted Wednesday
I've got the audio AND the illustrations.

I am fucking pissed off that, had I known about it earlier, I could have been there. I hate when that happens.

Therbs mutters...

Posted Wednesday

You were always Bedes' favourite. It's okay, I can handle that.No, don't say anything, its ok, really.

Look, maybe just a little miffed, but seriously, there's no need to apologise.

I said forget it, ok?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted Wednesday
No. I will revel in the winter of my discontent.

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Bangar is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday
Is now a good time to ask about the Leviathan update?

Chaz would have you know...

Posted Wednesday

Yes I also can remember a promise made about a new edition of Leviathan...

Another election promise broken..

Sorry wrong thread

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted Wednesday
Today I worked for about four hours, primarily sending nasty emails.
Then I took a nap. Then I played with my dog. Then my wife came home.

John, you make me feel like slacker.

Bunyip swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
  • Sat in a cafe, eating rabbit pie whilst working on draft table top game mechanics
  • Went for a 2km walk whilst taking *more* photos of tree bark textures
  • Redrafted an procedural protocol
  • Exchanged trollish meme pics with some folk online, whilst discussing with them hypothetical game mechanics changes for an aspect of World of Tanks.

I *could* feel like I'm having too much fun, but hey, self medicating...

PNB, you obviously need more ouzo.


Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted Wednesday
I know it may sound out of character, but I don't really like ouzo. I much prefer Slivovitz. Preferably Serbian Slivo.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted Wednesday
I just sat at my desk with my thumb up my arse until I went home at 3.30. I had to cut short my goofing off time.

damian mutters...

Posted Wednesday
Only Croatian slivovica seems to be in plentiful supply here at the moment. It's pretty nice actually, but my Serb friend would rather pour it on his own testicles and set it on fire than drink it.

Therbs asserts...

Posted Thursday
Croatian. A work colleague once brough me back a litre of the stuff from one of their plum brandy festivals where they all get munted on the stuff and have fights. Wonderful stuff, five of us downed half a bottle before lunch time.

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Anthony is gonna tell you...

Posted Wednesday

I did an online trivia quiz, some gardening, took my motorcycle for a ride and successfully avoided writing the submission for a paper I've been asked to do for a conference next year and also the report I was going to finish by Saturday. Still, I don't get paid for that report so it can wait.

I think I'm developing procrastination to a fine art.

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Abe Frellman ducks in to say...

Posted Wednesday
I find if I deliberately put off writing something but keep thinking about the topic in the 'back burner' part of my brain it kind of writes itself... It's a little like forced constipation. If I keep holding it back, eventually the note/paper/article needs to come out and then: stand back, while it comes out with a rush. Think my record is a 3000 words in about two and a half hours. And it was about the best stuff I've written.

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robW swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted Wednesday
Is the Solar Project dead, then? I know it lives on in the spam I get from when the site was cracked, but otherwise....

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Drew from Oz ducks in to say...

Posted 7 hours ago

I flog away at a couple of crappy writing brain-fart things(I refuse to call my self a writer- or these things as stories yet.....) but, what I really love about this process is getting to live in multiple worlds.
Most poor bastards live in just one.
I get to live in a world where the world has gone crazy, politicians fight nasty, nations sell their firm allies out for a momentary advantage, and average folks have to make increasingly morally ambiguous choices-usually for good reasons- which lead them down darker paths to harder decisions.......
.............And then there are my fictional worlds....


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