Shaved Bunny Surprise

Well, it surprised the bunnies.

I should back up a bit. There’s weather outside. There’s all types of weather, but in July, in the Northern Hemisphere, people are driven by a highly illogical and ultimately self-destructive instinct to go out in it. Convinced that this will be fun, they bake themselves to a crispy texture and then retreat into the safety of the indoors.

I know what you’re thinking, but I disagree. There’s no way the Phelogs of Kragnos 5 would have worn hats made from live ducks. They don’t have heads.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Heads. Humans have them. In fact, human heads are filled with squishy stuff that loves to imagine things. Some people enjoy doing something with their brains in the summer other than attempting to calculate just how much lake water they can drink while being dragged behind a boat at 45 mph. Some enjoy reading. Well, they enjoy reading and glancing up occasionally to chuckle at those who are being dragged around the lake.

You’re probably thinking right now about a huge platter of chili cheese fries, aren’t you. Hey! Stay with me now. Let’s try to stay on topic, okay?

So, people in July… You’re a person, right? Then, you would know. You’d like to have some actual fun while you’re having “fun” this summer. Even if you’re the sort of person who enjoys going out there and turning over only when one side starts to bubble, you’d like to have something better to do while moaning and begging your cousin not to slap your back again. That’s where the bunnies come in.

Why are you giving me that look?

Yes, bunnies. Before you ask, I probably should have thought that through a bit more, but we’ll get to that in a moment. Right now, we’re talking about fun. No, I don’t mean the kind where you brush a half pound of sand off of your sandwich or the kind where you realize that picnics and army ants are quantum entangled. I’m talking about reading. It’s the sort of fun for your brain that doesn’t involve seeing how many layers of skin you can lose before passing out. It’s actual fun. The only thing that’s not fun about it is the fact that you might run out of books to read.

I know. I get it. You’re probably wondering what this has to do with the theory of Quantum Chromodynamics, aren’t you?  That’s exactly the sort of distraction that caused the problem with the bunnies in the first place.

Hang on… That’s right. Bunnies. BundleRabbit (https://bundlerabbit.com/) has your summer fun solution. Now, I know what you’re thinking so let me just say that it’s important to keep reading before going out into the backyard with some duct tape and chasing wild rabbits. If it’s too late and you’ve already taken certain steps, you’re probably also thinking that you don’t want the tape to pull the hair off of your hares, but let me just say that attempting to shave them first will not end well.

Assuming that it’s not too late and you’re arms, face and chest are not wrapped in bandages, let’ me explain. This summer, starting today, in fact, the Sci-Fi July Fever Fun bundle is available at all of the best eBook sites including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. This bundle includes 11 full length novels for only $9.99 USD. I know. Even the bunnies’ mouths are gaping. Featuring books by Dean Wesley Smith, Russ Crossley, Rebecca M. Senese, Blaze Ward, Tracy Cooper-Posey, Steph Bennion, Michael Warren Lucas, Rebecca S. W. Bates, Barbara G. Tarn, Robert Jeschonek and Ubiquitous Bubba, this bundle is infinitely more fun than an actual bundle of rabbits.

You can view the book trailer here. https://vimeo.com/221944374.

On an unrelated note, if you pictured me splashing a little after shave on a bunny and lightly smacking its paws against its cheeks a la Home Alone, you should be ashamed of yourself. You’re thinking of it right now, aren’t you?

I don’t know how those thoughts get into your head.

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Anti-Survival Traits

Doomed. There’s just no getting around it. Some fictional characters just have it coming. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I don’t like them. In fact, some of the ones who shout, “Hey, guys, watch this…” are some of my favorites. Sure, there are characters who shuffle off their respective mortal coils in a rather forgettable manner. There are some special ones, however, whose inescapable demise claims the comfy chair in your memory and hogs the remote. It seems to me that there are a few common characteristics that the hysterically doomed share. I think of these as “Anti-Survival Traits” for the simple reason that the existence of one or more of these traits often ensures eventual and (sometimes) legendary destruction.

The first of these, of course, is Snarkiness. You know what I mean. It’s your mouth’s instinct to act in your own disinterest. Fictional characters afflicted with this trait can’t seem to help themselves. When everyone else knows that the best survival strategy is to shut up, this character will mouth off at the worst possible time.  It’s that uncontrollable urge to take an otherwise innocuous statement, infuse it with a snide tone, and drop it like a live mic. This is the guy in the back seat who waits until the officer is handing your license back to you to sneer, “Nice haircut…” In fact, the Snarky character’s best hope of survival is based on the hope that their target lacks the wit to get the joke.

Some characters also suffer from Coyote Syndrome. This is an unfortunately condition where the character is incapable of learning from past mistakes. While some may confuse this disability with Optimism, the differences are significant. For one thing, an Optimist will consider a dire situation, be fully aware of the shockingly low probability of a positive outcome and yet choose to remain hopeful. Fictional characters who suffer from Coyote Syndrome will consider the same situation and remain blissfully blind to the absolute certainty of disaster. It’s not that they think, “This time, maybe I won’t land on my head.” Instead, the inevitable and utterly predictable outcome never occurs to them. These characters exhibit genuine surprise each time they fall off of a cliff, miss the trampoline, or notice the growing shadow of an approaching boulder. Groups of people containing a CS character can usually be identified by their tendency to face palm. Where I come from, these characters are often accompanied by an onlooker who shakes their head and declares, “That boy just ain’t right.”

Enthusiasm is a positive and desirable characteristic. Ridiculous Enthusiasm, however, is the opposite. Characters with this unfortunate condition do not limit themselves to leaping before looking. They just leap. How deep is that hole? This character will let you know. They’re loud, pushy, oblivious to danger, and certain to become a cautionary tale. These characters spring into the face of Danger not because they are brave, but because they think, “What could possibly go wrong?” While the rest of the group has the sense to sneak quietly past the sleeping dragon, this clown will kick it in the nose. Oddly enough, this tactic does not always result in a sudden and dramatic departure from the land of the living. In some cases, the character escapes only because the hideously dangerous threat he faced simply could not believe he could be that stupid. These characters seek attention and are often the ones to shout, “Check this out, dude…” They are beautiful, in their own way. At least, their explosions are.

Curiosity is known to have offed a feline or two. Insane Curiosity takes self-destruction to whole new level. While other characters see the warning signs, frequently including words like, “Danger,” “Warning,” or “High Voltage,” Insanely Curious characters will disregard them. They are the button pushers. They will enter a mad scientist’s lair, stand on the big red X with a dozen lasers focused on them, and push the big red button. “What does this do?” are their most common last words. Unfortunately, the disastrous results frequently impact other people, leaving the Insanely Curious character free to see what the rest of the buttons will do. If/when there is a self-destruct button, this character will be the one to push it. While it may seem that this trait has more to do with the poor survival probabilities of their team, this character usually triggers their own demise in the end. While that may be of little comfort to the team members they’ve already disintegrated, it is a type of poetic justice.

Pride goes before a fall. This is a well-known truth. “Pompous Arrogance goes before a stain on the pavement,” may be a lesser known phrase. Characters displaying Pompous Arrogance take mere pride to extremes. Their displays of self-interest and conceit make even politicians and celebrities wince. They don’t simply feel that they are better and more important than everyone else, they know it. Even worse, they want to make sure that everyone else knows it. Nothing sets off a Pompously Arrogant character like encountering a Snarky character. Oddly, these two traits have a way of searching each other out, finding one another, and ending up seated at the same table at the reception. This character’s eventual unhappy end is often delayed, much to the dismay of everyone they meet. In many cases, characters with this trait will wait to go down in flames until the very last minute. Unlike the tragic deaths of other characters afflicted with various Anti-Survival Traits, the messy spot that marks the site of the Pompously Arrogant character’s departure is often widely celebrated.

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list and I haven’t discussed the comically tragic potential when two or more of these traits coexist in the same person. I’ll leave that to your imagination. Mine is busy making snarky comments.

Bubba’s Philosophy of Fictional Conflict

According to legend, there is a small speck floating alone in a vast, empty forgotten stretch of the universe that has not experienced conflict. Unless you happen to be this miniscule particle (and I think the likelihood is low), conflict is a part of your identity. If, by some freakish chance, you are that tiny speck, you just ruined a perfectly good setup. I hope you’re happy with yourself.

Anyway, people have created a number of different techniques to handling, resolving, avoiding, causing, and denying conflict. In the real world, there are several ways to deal with it. Fiction, however, is not the real world.

Here’s the issue. For many years, authors, editors, publishers, and university professors who have never held a real job have developed a set a rules for each other that govern the ways in which a story may be told. Those who follow the rules are “good” and those who do not are “subhuman illiterate hacks.” Some of these rules govern and define our culture’s Philosophy of Fictional Conflict.

Tyrannical Rule #1: Conflict must exist between a minimum of two parties and a maximum of three. Conflicts with less than two parties make no sense and shall not be permitted. Fights between four or more parties confuse the minuscule and fragile minds of readers and are, therefore, banned. Conflicts between fractional numbers are ridiculous and may cause an editor’s head to explode. Irrational numbers are right out. Authors who flout this law will be ridiculed and chastised in public by their betters until they either surrender their right to write or shrivel in shame. We’re good with either outcome.

Tyrannical Rule #2: All conflict must be created in such a way that the antagonist must be omniscient and omnipotent. Evil must always be infinitely stronger than good. The protagonist must have absolutely no reasonable chance of success. The antagonist must also have one weakness. Two or more weaknesses will not be allowed under any circumstances.

Tyrannical Rule #3: No matter how impossible or unlikely, all conflict must be resolved in only one way. The protagonist must overcome all obstacles through extreme debilitating suffering. Regardless of the mechanisms or methodologies employed by the protagonist, the only reason the protagonist wins the fight with their antagonist is by persevering through immense suffering just a moment longer than the antagonist. No other method of resolution will be allowed for any reason. Any suggestion that a conflict can be overcome by any other means will be met with extreme hatred, explosive derision, and the panicked shrieking of all good authors, editors, publishers, and university professors who have never held a real job.

Tyrannical Rule #4: No variation, deviation, or modification of these laws will be tolerated. Any author who dares question one or more of these rules will no longer be allowed to think with their own brain. Only authors who conform completely in every conceivable way to these laws will be considered “creative.”

Well, I disagree. I’ve listened to my fellow authors. I’ve heard their point of view. I understand that using commonly accepted thought processes and storytelling methods makes it much easier for a reader to predict how a story will go before they ever crack it open. That’s my problem with it. I want to be surprised by the story. I want it to go places that I didn’t expect and for the characters to do things I didn’t predict. To that end, I have created Bubba’s Philosophy of Fictional Conflict.

Bubba’s Rule #1: Conflict comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s a part of the character’s personality, world, and culture. Some are sharp and intense while others are more trivial. Characters facing different types of conflict will appear more solid than those that only face one at a time.

Bubba’s Rule #2: Neither protagonists, antagonists or any other fictional characters are all powerful or all knowing. Get over it. Some may be stronger than others, but attempting to ramp up the drama by exaggerating the antagonist’s power is pathetic and weak. Having a protagonist find and exploit an antagonist’s one and only weakness is predictable and, therefore, to be met with a sarcastic eye-roll.

Bubba’s Rule #3: Conflict resolution must not be predictable. Protagonists may overcome obstacles in any number of ways including outwitting, surprising, appeasing, distracting, or talking with the antagonist. Conflict resolution that can be predicted before a book has been opened must be the one form of resolution that cannot be used. Any suggestion that conflict must be resolved only by suffering will be met with water balloons filled with jellyfish.

Bubba’s Rule #4: Exceptions will be made for each and every rule as necessary to fit the story. Rules will be considered to be guidelines rather than absolutes. Authors are required to think with their own brains.

Bubba’s Rule #5: Bubba’s Rules shall not be binding on any other person. No other author, editor, publisher, or university professor who has never held a real job will be required or expected to comprehend or accept these rules.

After all, I’m not looking for an argument.

Self-Centered Reviews

Every once in a while, I ignore the GPS of conventional wisdom and veer onto a poorly lit side street. From the condition of the road, this appears to be one of those times.

One of the conundrums facing independent authors is the task of securing a sufficient quantity of reviews for their work. Common sense says that new readers may not be drawn to a new book until a critical mass of reviews have been written for the book. No one wants to be the first to dive into new waters. That never ends well in a movie during shark week. As a result, independent authors end up lurking in public places, begging for reviews and (occasionally) offering to wash windows in return.

One alternative to this rather pathetic display is the use of non-reciprocal reviews. The idea is that multiple authors come together and agree to read and review books by another author in the group, but not the author who is reviewing their work. That way, no one is able to trade one fawning review for another. When the system works, everyone wins. Honest reviews are written for each book and the street corners and viaducts remain free of loquacious beggars.

The problem is that most authors are human. While some will honor their commitments and write honest reviews, others will not. Some will speed through the book, skimming an entire novel in a few hours in an effort to spend as little time as possible on the review. Some may read it, but won’t bother to write their own review and will just copy and paste reviews written by others. A certain number of cretins will happily accept reviews for their own book while failing to review others.

Yes, that is reprehensible and no, there is no excuse for such behavior. The issue is that many authors are so consumed with their own self-centered desire to rack up as many reviews and/or accolades as possible for themselves that they don’t care that they are cheating other authors in the process. Even worse, they don’t care about the impact on potential readers.

Chasing after them, begging for them to honor their commitment is an obvious waste of time and energy. Scrambling after reviews in a mad race to reach a magic quantity that will coax readers to your shelf is an insane game. The solution is obvious. We can choose not to play.

If someone wants to write a review, they will. If not, there is little an author can do to persuade them to do so. While many authors may disagree with me, I would like to think that books will eventually find their audience. That may be naïve, but I would rather follow this course than hunt down self-centered reviewers.

Hang on, I think I recognize this street. I’m back on track now and my GPS can stop recalculating. You can relax now.

Sweet Serial

Serials. They’re not just for breakfast anymore.  I’m experimenting with a different technique in writing my current novella.  I’m taking it serially.  Instead of waiting until the whole thing is done before releasing it, I’m writing and releasing each scene as I go. I’ve been posting additional scenes on Wattpad for Deeply Disturbed Donuts.  I just released the fifth scene today.

I’m enjoying this because I feel like there’s an immediate sense of accomplishment with each scene.  As one is finished, it is out there, vulnerable and twitching on the Internet. I like the idea that a reader can follow a story in real time as each scene is uploaded.

Sweet.

Artificial Preview

For those who like to snag an early glimpse, I’m posting a draft of the Prologue to the third book in The Other Universes series, Artificial Stupidity. For the rest of you, I thought you might appreciate the warning.

I’ve just started work on the book, so I can’t provide many details. I can, however, offer a sneak peak that explains the title. If you are one of those people who either can’t wait, have an unhealthy amount of curiosity, or just like to click links, I’ve posted the Prologue on Wattpad.

This book will bring the major storylines to a close, completing what began in Reality Challenged and Blithering Genius. I hope to see some of the characters again as they spin off from this trilogy.

If you care to do so, I would love to hear your thoughts on the Prologue, characters, or things you’d like to see happen in this book. Who knows? You might get your wish.

Facial Deforestation

It wasn’t Global Warming, the Ozone layer, or the fear of another shark/weather related movie. Now that the work crews have left, the trucks have hauled away the debris, and the dust has settled, it’s time to face reality. I shaved off my beard.

You might want to sit down. I’ll give you a moment. Here, I have a bowl of Cheetos and raisins for you. Feeling better?

It wasn’t hot, itchy or telepathic. Well, it might have been, but it didn’t talk to me. It was, however, multi-colored, forged out of rusty nails, and it attracted Blue-Fanged Skerlags from Mutiloid 3. Well, it probably would have if they weren’t so far away and in the midst of a zombie flea outbreak. I tried lectures, time outs, and even beard conditioner, but it just ignored me and controlled the neighbors. I’m not sure about that last part since I’m not all that neighborly.

No matter how I trimmed it, the beard never looked good. It had all the flexibility and comfort of spiked steel rebar. It twisted in nonsensical directions for no discernible reason. The gray, brown and black striping made me look like Skunkman. While, I’ll admit, that sounds a bit intriguing, it wasn’t as cool as you might think.

I really tried to make this thing work. I took it out in public on walks. Well, I drove, but it could have walked if it had wanted to do so. With great patience, I waited for it mature, hoping for a day when we could enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. At first, I tolerated its annoying tendency to grab food, but its insatiable hunger and selfish cheese poaching became too much to bear.

Finally, I accepted the fact that this could only end one way. One of us would have to shave off the other. Since I would prefer to be the shaver rather than the shavee, I hacked it off early in the morning, before it had a chance to steal some of my coffee. It didn’t go quietly. The street in front of my house filled with neighbors holding pitchforks and torches. Well, it might have. I didn’t look outside. Anyway, I ignored the threats, pleading, and transmissions to Mutiloid 3. With a final flick of the razor, the deed was done. Afterwards, it was a tad disconcerting when the beard leapt up, raced outside, and shouted, “Free at last!” Well, it might have. I was busy enjoying some coffee, so I missed it.

I won’t miss the beard, even though I liked the idea of the beard. I guess I’ll never be able to grow it out enough to do a comb-over or tie it in a bow on top of my head. I suppose those are looks I’ll just have to imagine for now. I suspect a character will soon venture forth in one of my stories with just such a beard.

I hope my actual beard doesn’t come after me for copyright infringement. I’ll put in a call to Mutiloid 3 just in case they need directions.

IMG_0700

Deforested Bubba

Un-Advice

Sometimes, I’m asked for advice. Most of the time, however, I’m not. Go figure. All of that advice just bubbles and festers, waiting on an inquiring mind (or one without a sense of self-preservation) to ask for it. After waiting for several decades for someone with a dangerously over-developed curiosity to ask, I’ve begun to realize that it’s just not going to happen.

I know. You’re probably just as stunned as I am. Don’t worry, though, because I’ve thought of the perfect solution. I’ll assume that you asked. I’m sure you meant to do it. I’ve got you covered.

I call it Un-Advice and I’ve created a category for it on this blog. I’ll post some random pearls of wisdom which may infest your life and help me to clear out some of the mental toxic waste I’ve been hauling around. Here are some examples.

“Humans are red meat, but we taste more like pork. Researching this can raise eyebrows. It’s a good idea to realize that when conducting research for a story, not everyone will share your enthusiasm.”

“Creative problem solving is based upon the concept that most people are hopelessly incompetent. Never assume that anyone else did their job properly. Sure, they might have, but the odds are not good.”

“People. There’s just no excuse.”

“Learning about Electricity at a conceptual level is different from licking an electric fence. Some lessons are only learned through acts of unbelievable stupidity. The question is whether or not one chooses to learn by observation or participation…”

“If you agree to review a book, you should pay an appropriate amount of attention to it. Skimming a book, glancing at pages and flipping through it in order to spend as little time as possible on it is a bit like texting throughout a movie and then complaining that you couldn’t get into it. If you put in the effort and still don’t like it, at least you’ll know that you gave it a chance.”

“Just because melted cheese gets stuck in a beard, does not mean that one must give up pizza when one grows a face blanket. I mean, we’re talking about pizza. One can always wear a facekin (It’s like a napkin, but for your face.) Hey, I didn’t write the rules for dining etiquette in polite society.”

There you go. You’re welcome. You see? This is what happens when you let un-advice spoil in my head. You’re probably rethinking that decision not to ask for advice now, aren’t you?

A Profound Nonsense of Relief

Time has come. You can probably hear the bells on her hat. Now that she’s here, I feel a profound nonsense of relief. It’s April Fool’s Day and that can only mean one thing. Well, I suppose it can mean other things as well, but it primarily means only one thing. Blithering Genius, the second book of The Other Universes series, has been released.

No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke. It actually exists. The jingly hat on your head may or may not be virtual, but the book is real. It comes in three versions, eBook, paperback, and mental. Here’s a picture of the first two.

Covers

The mental version is installed as you read one of the other two versions. Think of it as the electronic copy of a movie you have on a disc. It’s actually nothing like that, but think of it anyway. Anyway, the great thing about the mental version is that the characters tend to leave the confines of the book and make themselves at home in your brain. They lose the remote, eat snacks, and nestle into remote corners for naps at odd times. They hang out with characters from other books, jump out and scare your nightmares, and tickle the inside of your skull. Sure, sometimes they’ll wake you up in the middle of the night by playing too loudly with your subconscious, but they apologize and quiet down again. Of course, then you’ll wonder what trouble they’re getting into, lurking around in the darkness beneath your conscious awareness, and you’ll turn on all of your mental lights and climb up on the furniture just to be safe.

At least, that’s the way they act in my copy. Your experience may differ. Just a moment. Time is flipping over her hourglass and the skulls inside are miming walking downstairs. I think that means that I need to wrap this up.

Blithering Genius was a great deal of fun to write and I am excited to be able to share it with you at last. The book is available at all of the usual eBook retailers, along with a pair of short stories and the first book in this series, Reality Challenged. Book 3 is being planned now, along with a group of short stories. There’s a lot more to come.

Here are some links to some of the sites where you can find Blithering Genius.

Amazon USA Smashwords iBookstore Barnes and Noble Kobo

(The Author is not responsible for any damage to a reader’s mental structure, concepts, furniture, plant life, pets, fears, hopes, ideas, or snacks caused by imaginary characters in the reader’s brain.)

4-Dimensional Bubba Book

Not content to exist in only three dimensions, the paperback version of Blithering Genius jumped back in time. I think a certain fish was involved. Anyway, for those who prefer their blithering in a tangible, physical form, the paperback book is available a few days before its electronic counterpart. How is that possible? Well, the process involved a great deal of cheese. I remember a lot of electricity, high tech wizardry, and switch flipping, but I was distracted by the cheese. It was thick, creamy, and melty without being runny or charred. It had a slightly smokey flavor and just a hint of bacon. It was the sort of cheese that makes you wish your cheeks were larger so you could stuff more in your mouth at one time.

Where was I? Oh, yes. The printed version of the book. Even though the eBook is not available until April Fool’s Day, the paperback edition couldn’t wait and sprang into existence a little early. I know. I tried to say something about the laws of physics, the stability of the universe, and the linear perception of time, but my mouth was full.

I understand that some people enjoy their virtual reality expressed in a non-virtual, bug whacking format. I’m not endorsing insect brutality, you understand, but the thwacking functionality was incorporated to suit the needs of a certain segment of the bug whacking community. This book comes with a certain beefy thud sound that precedes the statement, “Dude, I thought that was a bug on the back of your head.”

I may have wandered off-topic. Anyway, the paperback edition is available now at Amazon and CreateSpace for anyone who wants to defy the laws of physics and get their copy early. If you do, I suggest enjoying it with copious amounts of melty cheese, especially if it is served on a burger with a dangerously excessive volume of bacon. I’m talking about the thick cut hickory smoked crispy bacon. I know some people prefer wiggly over crisp, but I like mine crunchy and crackly. More accurately, I like it crisp, crunchy, crackly, and smothered in hot melty cheese.

Where was I?