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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Journey of the Soul-Linker, Part 1

Hello, soul-linker, that was quite a ride, wasn't it! We flew from one energy-page in the ether to quite another one altogether--not even on the same psychic-computer-box!

Okay, fine, that's a weird word for a server. Yes, we're on a different server now. (You might want to click that link if you don't get it) I have a mission for you, if you choose to accept it. It's an especially important mission if you're thinking about suicide, or if you're very, very sad (but happy people are allowed here, too).

Will you pick up that stick in front of you?

What stick, you say? I'm sorry, the soul-link's a bit unclear. Let me tighten it for you.

THAT stick. The wet, moldy stick, spattered with lichen, and a touch of moss, and maybe--oh, yeah, that's a hissing black beetle walking over it. The big, hard beetle, with horns. Wait until he passes.

Alright, now pick up that stick. It'll help you to see where you are.

As you lift the stick, it's softer in your hand than a stick should be, and moist, and you don't like it between your fingers, but as you look at the depression it left it the wet leaves, you begin to see the mossy ground, and the stream, trickling before your feet, and the trees, dripping just after a rain, extending up into the sky. Oak, maple, and in the far, far distance, a chestnut tree drops its spiky fruit on the forest floor.

You begin to walk towards the chestnut tree, stepping over the stream, because it looks a little different from all the trees around it--squatter, and more branched out, a better climbing tree. As you get closer to it you realize you don't have any shoes on.

"Ouch!" You yelp--there's a spiny chestnut in your foot. "Why would you do that?"

"Do what?"

You turn around, hopping on one foot and cursing, and waving the wet stick around as you try to catch your balance.

There's a little fairy standing about three feet behind you. You know she's a fairy because she's standing about a foot off the ground, and she's only about four feet tall, but she's gotta be some kind of weird space fairy dwarf, because she's got a glowing blue jetpack, and a three-pronged laser weapon that makes you think a trident and a sword had a one night stand they regretted, and half her head is shaved, with a tri-swoop pattern emblazoned into it. The other half of her hair is long.

"Do what?" she repeats as you gawk.

"Do--chestnuts, right here, I--hi. This isn't what I thought would happen. I'm sorry."

"That's a'aight. Whateva." Is that a Scottish accent? Or a--no, it isn't. It sounds like the made-up accent you make when you try to mimic your secret favorite accent, when you're not very good at it. You're trying to wrap your head around it--

"Where are you from?" you ask.

"From space, obviously. Better question is where are you from, hopping around here nekkid in the forest on chestnut spikies."


"Oh, I know, you're very stuttery. You're obviously a soul-linker, you are, and I guess since I found you stuck here in these woods it's my job to start you off on your quest." She sighs, obviously not very happy with her new job, and floats by you towards the chestnut tree. "Come on, then, ya staller!"

"Quest? Is this like World of Warcraft?" It's my fault our link left you so nerdy, I'm sorry. All you can think to compare this to is a video game.

"No, silly," Space Woman smirks. "What would I be, then, some kind of mystical creature?"

"But you are a--"

She turns, sharply, and you almost run into her as she stops mid-air. "Is that some kinda slur?" she asks. "I'm no different from you, or anybody else. Got achondroplasia, is all."

Oooooh crap. She's not some kind of fairy, she's a super-space-hero little-person. Is Little Person the right word? You can't remember. You left your politically correct dictionary at home.

"Alright, soul-linker, you can drop the droopy stick now, you know."

You drop it. It makes a mushy thud behind you as the Space Woman touches the chestnut tree, and the bark shimmers and fades, and then a metal door appears.

"When you come in here, rules begin," she says.

Uh-oh. That doesn't sound good.

"The first rule is not to forget why you came--why you clicked in the first place. That's the first rule."

"What if I don't know why I clicked?"

"Then decide, right now, why you're going to keep clicking."

"This is weird. This is becoming some kind of meta-psychedelic thing..."

The Space Woman crosses her arms as you trail off. Your discomfort and awkwardness knows no bounds, and suddenly you don't want to follow into that door. Come on, this is ridiculous--no clothes, you're embarrassed about mistaking this Normal Human Woman for something magical, she doesn't seem too happy about you, this began with weirdly personal language in the first place, and now there's this whole rules thing. This isn't even very interesting. It's just a space woman in some kind of North American forest. Why should you? Why should you go into her weird chestnut tree door? How do you know she's not a serial killer or something? Or a figment of some preacher imagination? This could be a horror story for all you know!

She checks her watch. It glows, and displays symbols you think might be Arabic.

"How long you wanna make me wait while you take in the breeze on your privates?" she asks. "I got dinosaurs to hunt, you know."

Dinosaurs, that sounds promising.

You're conflicted. Adventure, or awkwardness. Or the reason you clicked in the first place. Are you really here, looking for some answer to how you're loved, and isn't that like, the silliest thing in the world? It's probably going to end in some preachy religious spiel. What is this, even?

"My God, you must be one o' them cynics." The Space Woman groans, running her hand along her face. "It didn't take the last one this long to decide. You really don't think this is gonna be worth your time, do you?"

"I don't know," you say.

"You can't know. Not until you finish the story, silly. But you can always click away if it gets too scary for you. I'll warn you if somethin' bad's comin' up--I got a sense about these things."

You shift your weight from one foot to the other. The musty smell of moldy leaves filters up to you.

"It's not like it's for sure, when you step through that door, anyhow," says the Space Woman. "You still gotta pass the time test."

"The time test?"

"Yeah." She whacks the silver door, and after a resounding thud it slides open, and there's a dark hollow you can't see to the bottom of. "You go in this silver door, it closes. The soul-link slips to the back of your mind as the text ends at the bottom of the page, and you wait a week for the door to open again. You're the protagonist of this story, but the story's gotta have details about you, you see, and that whole mess, you and the details, that simmers inside the tree for a week until You The Protagonist is ready ta' emerge. If you've got the desire inside you, the spark, you'll be here when I open the door again next week at the same time for Part 2. If you don't, well, you'll fade away, and I'll never see you again."

"And I won't know about the Someone Who Loves Me Thing." Your voice sounds a bit sarcastic. You know it's some kind of marketing ploy. Maybe this culminates in a mormon.org link or something.

"You won't know if it was all a trick or not, neither--you won't know nuthin' until you wait this out," she nods. "Man, you think of everything, don't you? No hope. Cynics like you really get my goat. I'm not even kidding, the last cynic literally stole my pet goat."

She zips down to the ground to pick up a spiked chestnut and toss it into the darkness. There's no sound of it hitting anything. "Some people don't have to wait that long," she says. "Some people get their Part 2 link right away--the people who come later, after the update. But if you're one of the first, you gotta wait. I have no way of knowing which you are, I'm just inside the story, you see."

"I'm not going into any dark holes that don't have bottoms," you say. "Not even for a love story."

She rolls her eyes. "I thought you might say that." She lands, and takes off her jetpack-vest. It's like a silver leather, sparkling in the blue glow of the jetpack engine, as she hands it to you. "You don't need it, but makes people feel better to have a cool jetpack, for some reason. You better still be here a week from now when I open this cocoon, you hear me?"

"Is it going to eat me?"

"Did it eat the chestnut?"

"Cocoons turn things into other things. What if I don't want to turn into a thing?" you ask. You're running out of excuses, and you see the end of the page coming up quick.

"You can always click away," she says. "Like I said, it's a test. I'll see you in a week, or I won't see you in a week, and you'll steal my jetpack, and I'll have to sue the Greeting Committee again for sending me another cynic soul-linker who steals my things without comin' back."

Arguing's just going to drag the story on. With a deep breath you slip the jetpack vest around you--it's warm, whether from the Space-Woman's body or from the heat of the engine, you don't know--and duck into the silver door.

"See ya," she says.

The door whooshes shut behind you, and you're suspended in the internet again, with the smell of bark and mulch wafting over your cerebral cortex in the blackness.

Now you check the date of this post, and wait a week for the next link to begin.

(It will appear for you to click HERE next Sunday evening)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Writing in one genre, or branching out? Considering the order in which you write your work

From 123rf.com

Anyone will tell you--you can google this topic, if you want--that you should write in one genre to establish yourself as an author before you try to branch out. It's why J.K. Rowling used a pseudonym when she wrote a contemporary after finishing Harry Potter. It's why screenwriters routinely learn to have at least three scripts in the same genre finished before they go shopping for agents or producers. Establish your name, your brand, because you are a commodity.

In many ways, this is good advice, but I want to pause and talk a moment about goals before you go on with your day and take it.

What is your writing goal? To become a full-time, self-sufficient author who lives off royalties? NYT best-seller list? Or do you just have one story you just want to see on the shelves? Maybe your goal's just, "published author," and you've discovered that it's HARD to get there, and one-shotting it doesn't usually get the job done, so you've had to write several things you care less about to try to build a career for the one thing. Whatever your goal is...

Sunday, May 8, 2016

To Inherit Eternal Life: 1) Hug a Gay Democrat, 2) Hug a Racist Trump Supporter, and most importantly, 3)...

And behold, a certain lawyer, a well-respected activist, all dressed in a sleek black suit and winning grin, stood up and tested Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus knew the whole "ask questions to look smart" technique--he knew plenty of over-achievers--so behold, he asked one back, “What is written in the Bible? What is your reading?”

The lawyer answered like a memorization machine: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’"

“You have answered rightly," said Jesus. "Do this and you will live.” Short and sweet--bam, answered. No ceremony.

But the lawyer wanted ceremony to justify his question: he looked around at the other folks nodding in the oaken pews, and with an easy answer like that he looked stupid, like he'd asked the teach what's 2 plus 2. He didn't want to talk the simple stuff, he wanted advanced theology, stuff this construction worker Jesus couldn't handle. Yeah, okay, smart guy, the lawyer smirked, “And who is my neighbor?”

“A certain man," Jesus looked the lawyer in the eye, almost as if the lawyer was that man, "went down from New York to Washington, and his GPS got him lost in a back-alley neighborhood where a gang robbed him, stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and left with his car, leaving him half dead."

The lawyer didn't like imagining himself half dead in a back alley, but Jesus went on,

"Now by chance a certain pastor, a respected pastor, or your yoga guru, the guy who wrote that life-changing spiritual book you love, he came down that road. And when he saw this man bleeding out--he hurried by on the other side.

Likewise a founding member of your political party--the guy you look up to and retweet, the guy you wish noticed you--he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.

Then a third guy came along. What are you, a Democrat? Then this third guy's a hardcore Republican, maybe even a Trump worshipper. Real redneck. You a Christian conservative? This third guy's super liberal and agnostic--his theology's all twisted up. He believes the opposite of all your most important beliefs. Total idolator. Probably gay, too.

So this third guy you don't like, he journeyed, came where the broken man was.

And when he saw him, he had compassion.

So this Third Guy went and bandaged the broken man's wounds, kneeling under the streetlights to pour on expensive antibiotic ointment and empty his first aid kit with balms; and he set the man, dirty and bleeding, right on the upholstered seat of his car and brought him to the hospital. Third guy texted and cancelled all his appointments, and told his wife he wouldn't be home for dinner, and stayed by the broken man's side all night taking care of him. The monitors beeped and the blood seeped through the bandages, but the broken man made it to the next day.

On the next day, when Third Guy departed, he took out his wallet, gave it to hospital billing, and said to them, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’

So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”

And the lawyer said, “He who showed mercy on him.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Your neighbor isn't the buddy you invite to barbecue. He's the guy on the street corner who kind of scares you. On the opposite end of your Jew/Samaritan divide--opposing color, wrong belief, and your hated lifestyle.

Do you love your neighbor?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Becominghero.ninja--superhero comic with a meta twist

Hey! I'm really happy you're reading this, because it means finally, after a year of prep, we're ready to launch becominghero.ninja! It's a mixed-media adventure, starting now as a webcomic, about superheroes, their authors, their fans, and representation within media. A guy wants to kill his author, a dude wants to save his best friend, and this is the comic that leads in to the 2017 novel that explores it all. You'll see some whacky medical scifi here and there because I like medicine--that's what I do--and you'll get a healthy dose of just overall weirdness.

So please, come check it out! Becominghero.ninja! Dot NINJA!!! WOOO!


P.S. If you like real world things and being ahead of everyone else, LolBurger and Last Galaxy Comics in Ponce, Puerto Rico will have physical comics of one of the first storylines of this series. Supplies are SUPER-limited, so get there May 7th and eat that right up. Can't wait to share this with you!