Month: August 2011 Page 1 of 2

Tabletop RPGs

I asked for suggestions on games to play (indie, ~6 sessions, any genre, storytelling high, crunching low/medium), and I’ve already gotten multiple responses that look interesting.  This is to keep track, so I can find them later.  If you’re reading this and have more, let me know 🙂

I’ve played Weird West lately too, and liked it.  The ruleset is perfect for car trips, but almost too simple for an actual table.

Dark Horse Game Design (Greg Christopher) (free)

Errant – High Fantasy

Synapse – “The game engine represents your mind as a seperate entity from your body.”

Cascade Failure – Post-apocalyptic Errant

Statecraft – Rulers from history.  Political game.

Oceans – As in Ocean’s 11.

Novarium – not done yet, Angels/Demons, medieval.

Forlorn Hope – not done yet, post apoc.

Pieces of Eight – not done yet, AWK!

VSCA Publishing

Hollowpoint – “Bad people killing bad people for bad reasons.”  A one-shot with high kill count.

Diaspora – Deep space SF.

Deluge – post-apoc flood.

T-72 – Afghan desert, 1981.

Pinnacle

Savage Worlds – Explorers; Fantasy/Hero packs.

Deadlands – Weird West; Hell on Earth/Lost Colony – futures of Deadlands.

50 Fathoms – Weird Pirate

Evernight – Dark High Fantasy?

Low Life – High Fantasy for post apoc worm creatures.

Necessary Evil – Supervillains must Save the Earth!

Pirates of the Spanish Main – there you go.

Rippers – Victorian Londonish.

Savage World of Solomon Kane – Puritan Revenge

Slipstream – alternate worlds pulp

Space 1889:  Red Sands – steampunkish

Sundered Skies – post apoc, not sure what about?  Lots of worlds?

Weird Wars:  Tour of Darkness – Viet Nam; Weird War Two – there you go.

Sanguine

Ironclaw – Anthropomorphic Fantasy Roleplay

Albedo – Anthro SF

Jadeclaw – Japanese Anthro Fantasy

Usagi – Usagi Yojimbo.

Toon.  Just Toon.

Atomic Overmind Press

Unhallowed Metropolis – Steampunk Horror.

Day after Ragnarok – post apoc, in both Savage Worlds and Hero systems.

Adventures into Darkness – Lovecraft comics, Hero system.

Dubious Shards – Cthulu

Mutants & Masterminds

M&M – Heroic, D20.

Laughing Pan Productions

Deliria – Modern Fae, madness.  Out of print.

Steve Jackson Games

Munchkin – card-based dungeon crawl?

Wingnut Games

Land of Og – Caveman no big words.

Stuperpowers – Heros with powers like projectile vomiting.

Cobweb Games

Hell for Leather – Gory gameshow.

Apocalypse Worldpost-apoc

Burning WheelFantasy-based, heavy on roleplay

Dread – Jenga-based suspense game.

3:16 Carnage among the Stars – SF action.   “Terra’s plan is to kill every living thing in the Universe to protect the home world.”

Eden Studios

All Flesh Must Be Eaten – Zombies

Angel – TV Show.

Armageddon – End times.

Army of Darkness – Just so.

Beyond Human – Ubermensch of a horrible sort.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – TV show.

Conspiracy X – Yep.  Name your conspiracy.

Ghosts of Albion – TV show, Victorian ookies.

Terra Primate – The apes are coming!  The apes are coming!

WitchCraft – Supernatural battles.

Cubicle 7 Entertainment

The Laundry – Charlie Stross’s world.  Magic, science, conspiracy.

Margaret Weis Productions

Leverage – “The rich and powerful, they take what they want. You steal it back.”

Smallville – The TV Show.  Doyce highly recommends.

Do:  Pilgrims of the Flying Temple – Avatar slapstick.  “Summon the Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.  They mean well.”

Types of Wandering

1.  The wandering in which you are looking for something in particular but do not know where to find it.

2.  The wandering in which you go to a place you do not know or do not know as well as you like and become lost in it.

3.  The wandering in which you are looking for something inside yourself but cannot find it there and so look outside.

4.  The wandering in which you do not know what you are looking for, but you know a place where you have found similar things before.

5.  The wandering in which you no longer remember why you are doing it, only that you must finish doing it.

6.  The wandering which occurs because you are waiting for autumn.

Wandering taken to delight of another isn’t wandering; it’s courtesy.  However, some wandering is better accomplished with particular people; some wandering, in fact, cannot be accomplished alone, even if the other person is lost along the way.

Lady of the Floods

Now at SmashwordsOmniLitAmazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Praise be to those who steal not, but use this coupon this weekend at Smashwords:  GD23J

Lady of the Floods

by DeAnna Knippling

Praise Be to Those Who Steal Not

The picture on the cover was made by Cathy Miller Burgoyne, who records the weird and wonderful at her Arctic Fire website.  Check it out.  I was just enthralled.

 

The gods can build in a single night a tower that would require the toil of many men over many seasons.  Balathu, chief of scribes, brings the King’s offerings.  Balathu is a virtuous man, but the tools of the gods are lovely in his sight, and in the sight of the King.

Truly, weak men are always seized by fate.

I am not the man who has seen everything, and I know even less. I am Balathu, scribe of Ubaratutu of Shuruppak. Ubaratutu is a king over merchants and scribes, of which I am his chief. Our wisdom is the wisdom of planting fields and avoiding gossip. I preserve the sayings of our people in the name of the King and inspect the tallies of our grain stores.

When the Ilumesh built their tower near the city in a single night of fire, the king sent me to present his gifts and see what they wished of the children of men. The black tower rose higher than the city walls, higher than the palace, higher than the bluffs, and seemed made of obsidian tears from faraway lands.

The land at the top of the bluff bears no fruit and is fit only for goats, but the wind cooled my hair and took me from the stench of the city. The hooves of my horse broke through the crust of ash before the tower, stirring dust into all our eyes.

When we reached the tower, I prostrated myself on the ash and begged for the Ilumesh to show their will.

Truly the Ilumesh are not like men. They accepted our gifts of olives and spice but refused the gold. Also slaves and horses they took. They spoke not directly with me, but sent forth demons to accept our gifts, with backward-turned claws, many limbs, and faces which writhed with long, white eyes. The horns of a powerful bull graced each of their heads. Their skin was gray, and their chests shone black.

Each of the demons bore a measuring stick with which they measured each gift. They measured me by laying the stick on the inner part of my thigh, which stung like bees at the hive. After I was measured, they anointed me with fire, after which they deemed me worthy to hear some small part of their councils.

They wished for us to bring sacrifice, one of each kind of animal, or plant, or men, even of the races of slaves, to them, so that they might be measured in the sight of heaven, and from this I knew them to be messengers of Enlil.

Upon hearing the wish of the Ilumesh, Ubaratutu commanded it to be fulfilled.

I tallied all gifts that were brought. Types of flax, six. Types of fish, forty-seven. Types of water birds, sixty, although more would have been brought as they passed in their season. Types of beetles, one hundred and three. Types of winged insects, seventy-two. Types of ants, six. Types of worms, fifteen, although Warassuni claims to have found more in other seasons. Types of spiders, fourteen. Types of other creeping things, thirty-five. Types of goat, four, although others could be traded for, from the herders. Types of sheep, eight. Types of horses, eight. Types of ass, nine. Types of date palm, four. Types of leeks, three. Types of onion, seventeen, although two of them may be considered the same type, in spring and then mature. Types of lentil, twelve. Types of wheat, two. Types of barley, seven. Types of spices, in the names of the Gods, two hundred and twelve. Types of healing herbs, in the names of the Gods, two hundred and sixty-seven. Types of grapes, fifteen. Types of olives, eight. Types of plants bearing flowers, in season and out, over three hundred. And so on.

The list of men was as long and varied as the list of animals and plants.

The demons kept a few choice sacrifices but measured all. Truly they loved honey more than gold, and we brought almost every hive in the city to them, which they accepted with great leaps into the air.

I am not a man who knows everything. After accepting the bees in the names of the Ilumesh, one of the demons left its measuring stick behind, and I stole it, I, who has recorded so much in the name of the King, decrying thieves.

 

Lady of the Floods

Now at Smashwords, OmniLit, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Praise be to those who steal not, but use this coupon this weekend at Smashwords:  GD23J

Lady of the Floods

by DeAnna Knippling

Praise Be to Those Who Steal Not

The picture on the cover was made by Cathy Miller Burgoyne, who records the weird and wonderful at her Arctic Fire website.  Check it out.  I was just enthralled.

 

The gods can build in a single night a tower that would require the toil of many men over many seasons.  Balathu, chief of scribes, brings the King’s offerings.  Balathu is a virtuous man, but the tools of the gods are lovely in his sight, and in the sight of the King.

Truly, weak men are always seized by fate.

I am not the man who has seen everything, and I know even less. I am Balathu, scribe of Ubaratutu of Shuruppak. Ubaratutu is a king over merchants and scribes, of which I am his chief. Our wisdom is the wisdom of planting fields and avoiding gossip. I preserve the sayings of our people in the name of the King and inspect the tallies of our grain stores.

When the Ilumesh built their tower near the city in a single night of fire, the king sent me to present his gifts and see what they wished of the children of men. The black tower rose higher than the city walls, higher than the palace, higher than the bluffs, and seemed made of obsidian tears from faraway lands.

The land at the top of the bluff bears no fruit and is fit only for goats, but the wind cooled my hair and took me from the stench of the city. The hooves of my horse broke through the crust of ash before the tower, stirring dust into all our eyes.

When we reached the tower, I prostrated myself on the ash and begged for the Ilumesh to show their will.

Truly the Ilumesh are not like men. They accepted our gifts of olives and spice but refused the gold. Also slaves and horses they took. They spoke not directly with me, but sent forth demons to accept our gifts, with backward-turned claws, many limbs, and faces which writhed with long, white eyes. The horns of a powerful bull graced each of their heads. Their skin was gray, and their chests shone black.

Each of the demons bore a measuring stick with which they measured each gift. They measured me by laying the stick on the inner part of my thigh, which stung like bees at the hive. After I was measured, they anointed me with fire, after which they deemed me worthy to hear some small part of their councils.

They wished for us to bring sacrifice, one of each kind of animal, or plant, or men, even of the races of slaves, to them, so that they might be measured in the sight of heaven, and from this I knew them to be messengers of Enlil.

Upon hearing the wish of the Ilumesh, Ubaratutu commanded it to be fulfilled.

I tallied all gifts that were brought. Types of flax, six. Types of fish, forty-seven. Types of water birds, sixty, although more would have been brought as they passed in their season. Types of beetles, one hundred and three. Types of winged insects, seventy-two. Types of ants, six. Types of worms, fifteen, although Warassuni claims to have found more in other seasons. Types of spiders, fourteen. Types of other creeping things, thirty-five. Types of goat, four, although others could be traded for, from the herders. Types of sheep, eight. Types of horses, eight. Types of ass, nine. Types of date palm, four. Types of leeks, three. Types of onion, seventeen, although two of them may be considered the same type, in spring and then mature. Types of lentil, twelve. Types of wheat, two. Types of barley, seven. Types of spices, in the names of the Gods, two hundred and twelve. Types of healing herbs, in the names of the Gods, two hundred and sixty-seven. Types of grapes, fifteen. Types of olives, eight. Types of plants bearing flowers, in season and out, over three hundred. And so on.

The list of men was as long and varied as the list of animals and plants.

The demons kept a few choice sacrifices but measured all. Truly they loved honey more than gold, and we brought almost every hive in the city to them, which they accepted with great leaps into the air.

I am not a man who knows everything. After accepting the bees in the names of the Ilumesh, one of the demons left its measuring stick behind, and I stole it, I, who has recorded so much in the name of the King, decrying thieves.

 

 

Story-Related Trivia

I’ve finished The Happiness Project now.  The point is that an accretion of small things (or a lack of accretion of small things, in the case of negative stuff) is what forms a greater sense of happiness.

One of the small things that I pondered was the way she describes her books of clippings, trivia, etc., and I was going to start one of those, but, being me, I would much rather babble on about those things and share them with other people than have a book on a shelf that only I and my family might consult.

One of my major sources of trivia off the beaten paths is looking things up for stories.  Here’s some of the trivia that I ran across for Lady of the Floods.

  • Babylon is a johnny-come-lately of civilizations.  Tales of the flood in Babylonian literature come from earlier civilizations, like Sumer.  Here’s the short chronology timeline, which places the sack of Babylon at a mere 1531 BC.   For some reason, I had it in mind that Babylon was ancient, even among the ancients.  But Hammurabi was about the same time as the Old Testament Patriarchs.
  • The flood myth is all over the Mediterranean:  Egypt, Greece, Sumer, Israel, etc.  The Sumerian flood myth was written down in 2150 BC, and I saw all kinds of possible dates for it.  The Sumerian myth involves the city of Shuruppak.
  • Shuruppak was supposedly a city of grain storehouses and is known for The Instructions of Shuruppak,  which has aphorisms that would make Nietzsche proud:  “You should not have sex with your slave girl; she will chew you up” “You should not curse strongly:  it rebounds on you” “Fate is a wet bank:  it can make you slip.”  The major concerns are running a business, running a household, and maintaining a good reputation.  A far cry from the Ten Commandments; they’re more worried that you obey your parents than that you obey any gods or not kill people.
  • A flood wiped out Shuruppak in 2900-2800 BC.  According to the Sumerians, the gods created humanity as slaves, and some of the gods finally got sick of them about 2900 BC and tried to kill them all in order to get some peace and quiet.  So I can see where worshiping the gods might not be a high priority for that culture.
  • I found a theory saying that asteroids caused Noah’s flood.  I like, no matter how realistic or unrealistic it is.  I mean, it should be pretty obvious if it’s true:  similar deposits should be all over the place from the same period, yet they aren’t, as far as I know.  But people who could calculate the seasons using the stars might possibly notice that something new has showed up in the heavens and is moving quickly.  I wonder if, in a culture that is tied to the water for transportation, it might be natural to have boats around that are designed to survive the seasonal floods.  In Noah’s case, they were a bunch of sheep herders, so it kind of sounds weird.  But for a community based on moving a lot of grain around, it makes more sense.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh doesn’t come from Babylon but from Sumeria (post-flood).  Gilgamesh was so famed for raping women (“Gilgamesh does not leave a girl to her mother(?) The daughter of the warrior, the bride of the young man, the gods kept hearing their complaints”) that the gods begged Anu (the chief of the gods) to create him a male lover, because it was just too disruptive.  That’s right.  When you’re too macho for the women, you get promoted to being gay.

I had fun doing the research for the story, but the style was really hard to catch.  The Epic of Gilgamesh’s language is so concrete that it’s poetic.  In English, we have all kinds of tricks that allow us to skip past concrete language–this sentence, for instance.  Which made for interesting writing, but was like pulling teeth to get on the page.

 

How to Edit Your Own Ebooks, Part 8: Let the commas begin

Because I’m feeling foolhardy today, I’m going  to work on commas.

People have a lot of problems with commas.  Why?  Because there are 1001 rules, and nobody explains why you use them.  Comma between two complete sentences joined by a conjunction.  Yes, but why?  And why not between this and that?

Commas for, well, interjections.  Fine, but why?

Commas for clarity.  But when you’re writing, what your writing is perfectly clear…to you.

I can’t count the number of times that someone has said, “I just put commas wherever I feel there’s a pause in the sentence.”

Let me say, that’s not a bad rule of thumb, if you have a finely trained ear for that kind of thing.  However, for people who have been trained to sight-read commas, it disturbs us and makes us think less of the writer when the writer doesn’t insert commas where we’ve been taught to expect them.  We can sometimes get over it…if it’s consistent.  But we still look at the writers funny at conventions.

I tried to explain commas to a non-English major writer at one point, and came up with a couple of good guidelines.  However, if you have questions, see your style guide.

Series commas

(This doesn’t just include the normal series commas, by the way.)

An editor sees all sentences in terms of chunks of meaning.  We do not see nouns and verbs so much as subjects, predicates, and the modifiers that love them. Remember diagramming sentences in high school?  It turns out that diagramming sentences soothes and calms us, makes us into less angry people.  But it also teaches us how to use commas, because it teaches us to think in chunks of meaning rather than in terms of words labeled with the names of parts of speech.  Even grammarphiles do not look at words and think gerund pronoun preposition! all the time.

One of the main types of commas is to identify a list of two or more similar chunks of meaning.  If you can turn it into a bulleted list, it probably needs commas in there somewhere.

1.  Use commas when you have more than two similar chunks of meaning.

A dog, a cat, and a bird went to Bremen.

A dog with fleas, a collar, and a hundred dollars hidden in his name tag went to Bremen.

A dog ran, frolicked, and galloped on his way to Bremen, having eaten the bird and beaten the cat to a bloody pulp.

A dog went to Bremen, to Baden, and to Barad-Dur.

–To Harvard comma or not to Harvard comma?  Harvard comma.  Why?  Because sometimes not using the Harvard comma is confusing, and it’s better to be in the habit of consistency, with regard to editing.  People who try to avoid it almost always screw up by switching back and forth. (If you don’t know what I mean, then follow the pattern I gave in the examples, which use Harvard commas.)

2.  Use commas when you have two or more similar chunks of meaning that could, in any way, be interpreted wrongly otherwise.

A dog went to Bremen and Birmingham the cat went to Baden.

But wait!  For a second, did think the dog went two places, then have to correct your initial assumption that the second “place” was a cat’s name?  I did, and I wrote it.  Even if you, by some miracle, managed to read the sentence with no issues, you can see that perhaps not all readers might be as talented as you are.

If a frisson of confusion is exactly what you want to convey to your readers, or if you have two extremely short sentences that nobody could possibly confuse,  you can take a chance and leave the comma out.  In most cases, however, it’s better to put the comma separating the two sentences in.  One, do I really need to harp on consistency in editing again?  And two, this is one of those markers that editing types use to identify poor comma usage, whether it’s really so or not.

A dog went to Bremen, and Birmingham the cat went to Baden.

See?  No confusion.

A dog went to Bremen-town baying songs of lost bitches, frolicking with glee.

Another example.  The comma is there to make sure the reader knows it’s the dog in Bremen who’s frolicking, not the bitches he has lost.

You can also do this without the comma, but with a conjunction:

A dog went to Bremen-town baying songs of lost bitches and frolicking with glee.

However, that may lead to confusion as well:  is he singing songs about frolicking, or is he actually frolicking?  So you might want to go with suspenders and belt, even:

A dog went to Bremen-town baying songs of lost bitches, and frolicking with glee.

But really, using just the comma is just as clear as using the comma and the conjunction, so I’d say just use the comma, unless the conjunction is something like but. You can also do this without the comma, with a conjunction might give a reader pause, but we can generally sort out You can also do this without the comma, but with a conjunction.

Sadly, there’s no real reason why you do comma/conjunction with sentences and not necessarily with smaller units of meaning.  Sorry, this is one of those language things that just isn’t fair, like finding out that a word that you’ve been reading for years is pronounced differently than you thought it was.  English is the cruel, mocking child of an extremely mixed linguistic marriage, and you’re just going to have to get used to some inconsistencies.  She’s beautiful but not entirely sane, you know.

A note:  if you’re using a series comma, you should make all the items in the list similar.  Don’t be all:

On the way to Bremen-town, I met a dog

  • frolicking,
  • baying songs of lost love, and
  • with three legs.

No, there’s not really a logical reason that you can’t do it; you’re expressing your meaning clearly, and nobody’s going to get confused.  But every single person with a bit of snippy grammar-love is now singing that song from Sesame Street, feeling smug that you’re such a dork.  One of those things is not like the other, after all.  It’s another mark amongst us that you’re a grammar n00b, so avoid it.

Next time:  Disruption commas.  Also, I now have “Let the commas hit the floor” stuck in my head.

How I come up with ideas for SF stories.

Something that was frustrating me a while back was coming up with solid story ideas.  I knew I could, on occasion, but not consistently.  Plus, the more I wander into the uncharted territory of pantsing (versus plotting), the more important it is to have something worth writing about.

The interesting question is not, “Where do you get your ideas?” but “How do you pick the ideas that you write about?” or even, “How do you know if/when to write about an idea?”

I walked to the post office this morning, and in the middle of brainstorming a story idea (thus the “Walk more” observation that I added to yesterday’s post) came up with an answer to that last question, but only for SF stories.  When I tried to apply the same kind of thing to a fantasy story, no workee.  Which, to me, says that there’s a definite way to modify any given idea-kernel for different genres.

The process:

1.  Come up with 2-3 kernels.

This one is “Babylon” “water” “aliens.”

Now, if I sat down with those three words and started writing, I would flail around a lot.

2.  Extrapolate.  (This is what makes a SF story.  There must be extrapolation.  This is why alternate history stories are SF.)

This one is, “What if humans stole something from aliens–it wasn’t the tower that was the problem, per se, but what they were trying to hide within it.”

3.  Emotion.  (I suspect this is what connects the story with the reader and makes it entertaining in some way.)

The bittersweetness of doomed lovers; lovers are doomed because other emotions are stronger than love (can be from other people).  In this case, greed and pride are the source of the conflict.  The emotion I want to end with is something like, “That was stupid…but, reasonably speaking, I’d probably do it all over again.”  Not regret.  Maybe just “gret.”

4.  Voice.  (This is what makes moving through the story, line by line, worthwhile.)

My POV is a scribe.  At the time, they handled a big disparity in subjects:  accounting and poetry.  What does a poet-accountant sound like? I aim to find out.

–My SF stories that I still like follow this pattern.  However, YMMV; it’s not like I’m selling right and left to pro markets or anything.

Pondering The Happiness Project.

I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin.  So far, I don’t agree with her on everything, but it’s an interesting exploration so far.  I wish she’d gone into more detail on how she’d figured out her “Secrets for Adulthood” and personal commandments, but she blows over that in the beginning.

I was thinking last night, unable to sleep for some unknown reason, about those things and wondering what mine are.  I tend to see my mental patterns clearest through my short stories, by the way.  Sometimes I don’t realize how important something is to me until I write story after story about it for months on end.

In no particular order, here are some of my life lessons:

  • When learning something new, old skills are sometimes lost for a time, which is what allows us to learn something new.
  • The way you see the world affects the people around you more than you think.  It’s your karma.
  • Wisdom encompasses foolishness.
  • If a large number of people are being idiots in a similar way, look to the systems surrounding them, not to the people.
  • When you look back, it’s the times you spent with people that you remember.
  • Take a break.
  • Eat something.
  • Drink something.
  • Exercise.
  • Read widely.
  • Entertainment, like alcohol, is meant to be consumed in the context of other people.  Except for books, which are meant to be consumed in the context of imagination.
  • Sleep when you’re tired.
  • You’re not that important.
  • Listen, and ask questions that allow you to listen.
  • Compassion comes from understanding the root problems of a situation.
  • Anger hurts other people.
  • Just because you try something once doesn’t mean you’re committed to it.
  • Say no politely and firmly.  Anyone who can’t deal with that is an asshole.
  • Keep your name.  Add names if necessary, but don’t abandon any.
  • Allow that any event may have multiple explanations and interpretations, and that it’s better to know what’s intended than otherwise.
  • Fuck good intentions.  “I was just trying to help” is usually bullshit.
  • Beware people who say “should” in the sense of “you should do x.”
  • Beware people who undervalue the difficulty of change, trying new things, or maintaining new habits.  In fact, avoid them; they’re assholes, second only to the ones who can’t take no for an answer.
  • People are less independent than they think.
  • Don’t bribe, hint, or nag at people to do things.  Ask them directly.
  • If you don’t get what you want, get it yourself rather than waiting for someone to give it to you.  This includes birthdays.
  • Humans are too adaptable sometimes.  You can follow your calling…or you can do a bunch of bullshit jobs that go nowhere and will make you look back on your life in despair.  It’s okay to do the second on your way to the first.
  • If you dream that someone you barely know is a part of your family, then they are part of your family.
  • If you’re having nightmares, write more.
  • It’s easy to see other people’s little bit of crazy.  It’s harder to accept that deviance from normal is the root of a particular talent, and that the crazy side and the talent side are tied together, but they are.  Breaking the crazy can mean breaking the joy.
  • Handle your crazy as best you can, with the goals of helping more, hurting less.  Avoiding the crazy makes the negatives worse.
  • If it’s not paradoxical, it’s probably not true.
  • Keep other people’s secrets, within reason.
  • Tell the truth, within reason.
  • Your space = your mind.  Clean is better than dirty, functional better than broken, but dirty and broken are better than bland.
  • Comfortable shoes, a good bed, and soft toilet paper.  (Via Joe.)
  • Part of you rises up in dreams and aspirations; part of you reaches down soft roots that crumple mountains.
  • Don’t avoid lowbrow.  Don’t avoid highbrow.
  • Eat the hell out of it.
  • Any email that sits in your inbox longer than a week indicates an emotional conflict of some kind, a fear.
  • When you notice a pattern of fearful or angry actions, break the cycle.
  • You are allowed to enjoy things.
  • Beware of people who tell you that something is stupid without being able to explain themselves; it usually indicates fear that can easily erupt into psychological or physical violence as they try not to think about the root of their reaction.  A third category of asshole; unfortunately, we all pretty much fall into this category.  People who are offended by things are definitely in this category.
  • It’s okay to swear.
  • It’s okay, when making hard choices in the gray areas of life, to make choices that other people disagree with.  They are usually “should”-ers anyway.
  • Defend other people’s rights to make those hard choices as free of “should” as possible.
  • When people make jokes about raping you, it’s not funny.
  • Most people don’t know what the word “semantics” means.
  • If leftovers are a completed dish, freeze them; you won’t feel like eating the same thing before it goes bad in the fridge.
  • If leftovers are components, like chopped onions or unsauced noodles, refrigerate them and toss them into other things you made.
  • Plan your role for surviving the zombie apocalypse (or other massive social change).  If you have the right role, the skills are usually pretty fun to pick up.
  • It’s better to pay to have your oil changed on a regular basis than it is to do it yourself and blow it off constantly.
  • Don’t shit where you eat; if you broke it, you bought it.
  • Babies are always right.
  • Parents who ignore crying children are shitheads.  Even a toddler can understand, in the middle of a tantrum, that you think the appropriate reaction to their discomfort is to say, “Fuck you.”
  • A full pantry is a happy pantry; find five or so things to eat that you like, that can be made solely with ingredients from your pantry, and keep those things stocked at all times.
  • There’s a fine line between leaving something to soak and having it get moldy.  Delaying cleanup requires more attention than just getting it done right away.
  • If someone offers to help clean up, let them.
  • If someone offers to bring food, let them.
  • If someone asks you what you want, tell them.
  • If someone asks you, seriously, how you’re doing, tell them, without melodrama if possible, but don’t whitewash things either.
  • Don’t stand around and do nothing.  (Sitting around is okay; bubble baths are best.)
  • Don’t wait for someone to tell you the rules.  Find out.
  • What makes a game fun to play are the rules.  Find out your comfort level with the amount of rules and walk away from things with too many/too few, unless you’re that bored.
  • When doing something for other people’s entertainment that you’re not sure about, ask yourself, “Is it better than being bored?”  If people show up more than once, the answer is probably yes.
  • A talent for focus looks a lot like being lost in a book.
  • Unsubscribe from subscription emails.
  • Babble.
  • Use other people’s brains.  Ask for recommendations.
  • Kick other people out of your writing room.  (via Kris.)
  • “Being” something is demeaning, limiting, and screws with your mind but is sometimes necessary in polite conversation.  When someone says they are proud to “be” something, watch out; they are also prone to erupt in psychological and physical violence if questioned/challenged.
  • Find the household chores you actually like to do.  Find out if you’re a daily maintenance person or a big project person.
  • If you’re miserable, talk to someone about it.
  • The Internet is good for introverts because you can do things in your own time.
  • Get more sunshine.
  • The “best” of anything will probably not be your favorite.
  • Individuality is better than perfection.
  • Breathe.
  • Before going somewhere that you’ll have to speak to a number of people, come up with a couple of interesting conversational questions to ask.  But don’t ask the most obvious question first, or at least don’t limit yourself to it.  Making other people supply the chit chat can help extend the time an introvert can handle other people.  “So what do you write?” is a good writer question.
  • Allow yourself to be carried away by other people’s obsessions, but only for a conversation or two.
  • Dig into the fundamentals of your hobbies.  Learn how to make cheese, bread, beer, butter, and homemade chai.
  • Cats care more about you than it appears at first glance; so with a lot of people.
  • Sometimes it takes being depressed to allow yourself to change.
  • Treat depression seriously, whether it’s for a good reason or not.
  • Integrity means “not being broken.”
  • Your kids are like your dreams; treat them more kindly than you treat yourself.  “Being a parent” or “being a friend” are limiting, dead-end choices.  It’s better to be honest than it is to “be a parent.”
  • “Hold” is a good word to teach your kids.  It allows you to get them to shut up in the car at a moment’s notice when you’re trying to avoid being hit by a semi.  “Stop” is judgmental.  “Hold” isn’t.  Don’t abuse it.
  • Invest in brownie points; allow brownie points to affect your decisions.
  • It’s not reasonable to expect other people to see things from your point of view.  Fair, yes.  Reasonable, no.  Celebrate it when it happens.
  • Say “thank you,” especially in response to compliments.
  • A life without fear is a life without exhilaration.  Allow yourself victories over the smallest things.

Jeez, this just goes on.  I wonder if there’s any way for me to sum this stuff up…more stuff…

  • You do not need all that shit.
  • Walk more.
  • “But I didn’t mean it” is a perfect time to apologize.
  • Don’t litter.
  • The things you love are made less when you mock another.
  • Hate’s only use is to combat love.
  • No human is smart or good enough not to be a hypocrite.  Even Einstein and Mother Teresa.

Which Is Bigger, the Moon or an Elephant? and other Stupid Questions

Now at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and OmniLit.

Who wants a coupon for a free ebook this weekend at Smashwords?  Duh.  It’s RD46D.

Which Is Bigger, the Moon or an Elephant? and Other Stupid Questions

by De Kenyon

Antonia does not need a babysitter.  She has her CPR certification and a list of emergency contact numbers.  But the babysitter isn’t a normal high school girl who just wants to watch TV and call her boyfriend…but a mean, sarcastic teen who wants to terrify them all.

Some of the other kids may have needed a babysitter, but I was old enough not to need one. I had my parents’ emergency contact information in my backpack along with my pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, cotton swabs, and mini emergency kit. I had taken a CPR class. The instructor had told me I wasn’t strong enough to be able to do everything and get my certification, but the electronic test dummy’s heart had started beating again after I spent five straight minutes pumping its chest, so he had to certify me anyway.

I was eleven, and I didn’t need a stupid high school babysitter.

But it wasn’t my house. I mentioned my CPR training to my father, who had sighed and said, “Antonia, while we have no doubts about your competence in not burning the house down, we have discussed this and none of us are too sure about the other girls’ ability not to be complete idiots. I’m not paying for the babysitter, so it’s out of my hands. I know it’s frustrating, but please make an effort to behave well in front of the other girls.”

I tapped my fingers on the kitchen counter, where we were having our little talk. “All right, father. I suppose it can’t be helped.”

He leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. “Thank you.”

The doorbell rang, and the daughter of the house, my cousin Lavvie (nine), yelled, “Emily’s here!” She galloped down the stairs and flew past the kitchen door, her hair streaming out behind her. The door slammed open. “Emily!”

I followed my father out of the kitchen. My first glimpse of the babysitter wasn’t pleasant. Emily was six feet tall and must have weighed three hundred pounds. She had an ugly face with lots of zits and squinted, even though she wore glasses.

“Hello, Lavvie,” she said as Lavvie tried to squeeze her around the middle. “Ugh. Not so hard, kid.”

Lavvie, disgustingly, rubbed her face across Emily’s arm. “I missed you.”

She would. She was a complete and utter twerp who could not sit still for five minutes if you offered her a dollar to do it. Daring Lavvie to a staring contest was an easy win.

I am just loving on the cover image for this story–it reminds me of my sister Betsy when she was that age.  And thanks to Jen LaPointe, who supplied the stupid question in the title.

This one comes partially from memory…we had a house full of cousins at one point, and one of the older ones got paid to watch the rest of us, even though my brother and I were old enough to stay on our own, when the rest of the cousins weren’t there.  But it ended up being pretty cool.  I read a book about The Dark Crystal thatshe had brought with her.  I can’t remember whether the haunted house in the basement episode was the same day or not, but it was the same gang of kids.  We used to sit on the edge of the cellar steps and tell ghost stories; the only one I can remember was the one about the guts in the bucket.

As kids, we thought teenagers were dumb and mean and kind of creepy-looking, and we treated her like crap.  She didn’t seem to mind; she was just that evil.  Years later, we finally got to hang out as adults.  She’s pretty awesome.

Which Is Bigger, the Moon or an Elephant? and Other Stupid Questions

Now at Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and OmniLit.

Who wants a coupon for a free ebook this weekend at Smashwords?  Duh.  It’s RD46D.

Which Is Bigger, the Moon or an Elephant? and Other Stupid Questions

by De Kenyon

Antonia does not need a babysitter.  She has her CPR certification and a list of emergency contact numbers.  But the babysitter isn’t a normal high school girl who just wants to watch TV and call her boyfriend…but a mean, sarcastic teen who wants to terrify them all.

Some of the other kids may have needed a babysitter, but I was old enough not to need one. I had my parents’ emergency contact information in my backpack along with my pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, cotton swabs, and mini emergency kit. I had taken a CPR class. The instructor had told me I wasn’t strong enough to be able to do everything and get my certification, but the electronic test dummy’s heart had started beating again after I spent five straight minutes pumping its chest, so he had to certify me anyway.

I was eleven, and I didn’t need a stupid high school babysitter.

But it wasn’t my house. I mentioned my CPR training to my father, who had sighed and said, “Antonia, while we have no doubts about your competence in not burning the house down, we have discussed this and none of us are too sure about the other girls’ ability not to be complete idiots. I’m not paying for the babysitter, so it’s out of my hands. I know it’s frustrating, but please make an effort to behave well in front of the other girls.”

I tapped my fingers on the kitchen counter, where we were having our little talk. “All right, father. I suppose it can’t be helped.”

He leaned over and kissed me on the forehead. “Thank you.”

The doorbell rang, and the daughter of the house, my cousin Lavvie (nine), yelled, “Emily’s here!” She galloped down the stairs and flew past the kitchen door, her hair streaming out behind her. The door slammed open. “Emily!”

I followed my father out of the kitchen. My first glimpse of the babysitter wasn’t pleasant. Emily was six feet tall and must have weighed three hundred pounds. She had an ugly face with lots of zits and squinted, even though she wore glasses.

“Hello, Lavvie,” she said as Lavvie tried to squeeze her around the middle. “Ugh. Not so hard, kid.”

Lavvie, disgustingly, rubbed her face across Emily’s arm. “I missed you.”

She would. She was a complete and utter twerp who could not sit still for five minutes if you offered her a dollar to do it. Daring Lavvie to a staring contest was an easy win.

I am just loving on the cover image for this story–it reminds me of my sister Betsy when she was that age.  And thanks to Jen LaPointe, who supplied the stupid question in the title.

This one comes partially from memory…we had a house full of cousins at one point, and one of the older ones got paid to watch the rest of us, even though my brother and I were old enough to stay on our own, when the rest of the cousins weren’t there.  But it ended up being pretty cool.  I read a book about The Dark Crystal thatshe had brought with her.  I can’t remember whether the haunted house in the basement episode was the same day or not, but it was the same gang of kids.  We used to sit on the edge of the cellar steps and tell ghost stories; the only one I can remember was the one about the guts in the bucket.

As kids, we thought teenagers were dumb and mean and kind of creepy-looking, and we treated her like crap.  She didn’t seem to mind; she was just that evil.  Years later, we finally got to hang out as adults.  She’s pretty awesome.

 


 

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