Hunchback Official Release

April 22, 2019



#ConversationsWithMyCharacters

You can get the book right here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QXGNRBQ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

Or

Here on Lulu.com:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/linda-teppler/hunchback/ebook/product-24072864.html

Me: Hunchback is live! You know, I can just imagine myself standing in the dark, with the rain pounding over me and the lightning flashing screaming "IT'S ALIIIIVE IT'S ALIIIIVE! MUHAHAHAHHAHA!"

Kinkajou: Wow. And I thought MY Master was bad.

Me: Well, let's talk about that. How do you feel about the book now that it's out?

Kinkajou: Well, I thought I was going to be shut up in a cupboard for the rest of my life, so I guess I'm pretty happy! I can let people get to know me now.

Me: Do you feel guilty at all? You know...about….

Kinkajou: :shifting uncomfortably: You know I don't like to talk about that. But yes, in some ways, I do.

Me: How would you describe yourself Kinkajou? For our readers and listeners?
Kinkajou: I'm...pretty normal actually. I like a good football game, a mug of ale, and sometimes I play those little games on your phone.

Me: What?

Kinkajou: What? I mean, you know, board games. I like board games.

Me: Hmmmm, so you've got a sense of humor.

Kinkajou: A sense of humor quite close to yours actually. I wonder where I got it from…

Me: heh. Well. I hope everyone loves you as much as I do Kinkajou. I'd hug you, but I think you stole my chocolate cake.  And is that the doorbell?

Kinkajou: Oh, that would be my Amazon packages….

:Sigh:  Well, I guess since he IS a part of my subconscious, he would in some fashion be like me. He's definitely enjoying taking a break from his adventuring, but eventually I suppose he'll get bored and want to go back to the road. Hopefully before I have to classify him as an employee and churn out a 1099 for him.

It's been a very long road getting Hunchback here, to the release day of the ebook. And the journey isn't finished yet. You can as of today get the book in multiple countries through Amazon.com. In the United States it's priced at $4.99 and I did specify no DRM. However, that's not the only platform the book will be on.  It is also available on Lulu.com. This will give you the opportunity to select the platform you want. Perhaps you don't trust these platforms, no problem. Please contact me through the website and I'll be happy to take the price of the book through Paypal and give you a DRM free copy in mobi, epub, txt, or pdf. Your choice.

How can you help me best? Well, buying the book is one way, but leaving a review is just as important. Next best? Please share. Share the post, share the link where the book is for sale, tell people that I've written it and it's for sale! I appreciate my supportive friends just as much as I appreciate my customers and readers.

Thanks so much for helping me make this a real success!






Hunchback Promo and Background

Linda Teppler Full cover Small .jpg

April 17, 2019

8 years ago I sat down to write a full length novel of at least 50,000 words.  I had wondered for a month beforehand what I was going to write. I wanted classic, light story but something I hadn't necessarily written about before. I settled on a steampunk theme and then began plucking inspiration from lots of the things that I had recently experienced. Adventure novels, games, art, and of course, my own life.

It was a long time ago, and I struggle sometimes to remember exactly what I was thinking, but I knew that this character who was twisted physically by nature wanted love more than anything else. In the end, his physical deformity proved far less of an obstruction than the selfish, greedy nature of those who would oppose him, intent upon only their own goals.

The editing of this book was absolute torture. I was lucky to have someone who was more than willing to work with me through multiple drafts. Jeff Ford has the patience of a saint. I asked him to edit on a platform he wasn't familiar with as well as changing nearly the entire book after the first edit, so that he had to go back and work from scratch.

I never actually intended on publishing this book. I thought for sure it would just be a file that languished in the back of my hard drive, my first true foray into writing more than 20,000 words. It was originally just a nonsensical collection of junk, but my husband didn't see it as a collection of junk. He saw it as a piece of me, and loved it just as much. Given the main character's purpose, how could I resist? So I took Faulker's advice. I took a scalpel and carved that book up. I killed all my darling tropes, the scenes that I really loved that made no sense, I created an actual path for my character to follow.

It is hard, removing huge chunks of something you have created. And it's time consuming. To revise the book took a whole year. And then...came the cover.

You would think that finding an artist would be easy. Wave money in the air, and they come running right? But the book needed a specific kind of cover. One that conveyed the adventure of a steampunk story. The cover is actually what delayed the release for so long. It delayed it so long, that the audiobook is just a hair's breadth away from being ready at the same time.  

Keichi (2).JPG

The one character in the book that affected me even more than Kinkajou, was Keichi. Our beloved little guinea pig friend was very real, not mechanical at all. He started out life as a pet that was returned time and time again to the humane society and had pretty much given up on life. He required a safe space to recover in the first few months and then when he realized that we were not going to punish him for being a guinea pig, he began to trust us and show us his mischievous, adventurous spirit. He evolved just as much as any of my characters did. I'm so glad I could immortalize him.

And this is the story behind the book.  All the love that Kinkajou brought out in me, I've been able to pass on to other characters in other books and I'm positive I'll be writing for a very long time. I am lucky to have talented people who have helped me create it, and more talented people to voice the promotional video. And so I'm promoting my little heart out for Kinkajou. I hope that you will join me and tell everyone about my beloved book.

For your pleasure, here is the promo video for "Hunchback"  May you feel the same love that I do.


My thanks to the incredible Buyer Brown, Jason Falter, Lola Lariscy, SyBernot, and my own wonderful husband Che “Kereltis” Dean.



Am I a Survivor

3/9/2019

"Are you a survivor?"

I had gone out with my son for his birthday. Dinner and a movie. A pleasant day out. It wasn't supposed to be complicated and then, mid forkful of food this perky mid aged woman looks at me and says "You look like a survivor. Are you a survivor?"

And for the life of me, I had to think about it! A survivor of what? Neglect? Abuse? Detroit? I mean, I'd escaped Los Angeles, but this was a bit personal wasn't it? This isn't the first time I've been asked that question, and I wish people would think about it before they ask because it's so uncomfortable! There were at least four men around us with shaved heads, and she never asked them if they were survivors.

The first time I was asked this particular question was in a store. A previous co worker said "Oh it's so nice to see you, and I see you survived!"

And I had the same reaction. ….what??? I managed to mumble out a few self deprecating nonsensical noises and fled the store, ditching the cart at the end of an aisle. After I realized what she'd been talking about, I felt humiliated. I mean, what was I next to these women who'd bared their teeth at the C word, flipped it off and kept on walking?

I do not have a head clear of hair because of cancer. I shave my head because it feels unutterably good. When I let my hair grow, my scalp itches and drives me insane. I can do a mohawk for a few weeks, but then it all has to come off again. I scrape my head down to the scalp every 3 days religiously. So what does that make me? A survivor of dermatitis? That really doesn't seem to count in the big picture of the issue they are referring to.

I guess I am a survivor of other things. I made it through the gulf war. I navigated more than one hostile workplace, I boldly placed myself on the front lines of Barrens Chat and came out ahead. I have survived continuing panic attacks from PTSD for years. Oh yeah, and I did have Osteoclastoma of my left hand when I was a child. That's a malignant giant cell tumor. But it was only one surgery and I never had any issue with it again.

Does that count? Should I respond "yes" when people ask me this horribly uncomfortable, prying, personal question? Why do they insist on making that assumption when there are many women who shave their heads because they just damn well feel like it these days? Am I supposed to stand up and proclaim myself to be a survivor? I never underwent chemo or radiation therapy. I threw up once in the recovery room on a nurse who didn't get out of the way fast enough, but I don't think that really compares with women who have undergone weeks, months, or years of uncertainty and pain only to discover that they have to  lose a limb, or their breasts, or their bladder.

In all the ways I can think of, every woman is a survivor. We get up every day and know there is a chance that we could be harassed or turned down for a project because we are women. We know that we will regularly be paid less for the same work, we will have our jobs explained to us by people who think we obviously can't know what we're doing, We will turn down opportunities because we are made to feel that we, women, are the lesser of the species and we can't imagine how we could be better than that man over there. We often find it difficult to even stand up for ourselves in a doctors office. A position which could mean the literal difference between life and death.

So yeah, I guess I am a survivor. And along the way I've gotten better at answering that question. I was able to say "no. I just like my head shaved" to that woman at the bar. Perhaps she was a cancer survivor herself. Perhaps she was looking for that small percentage to identify with. To connect to those who could empathize with her experience. I too have felt the loneliness of isolation when I was the only woman in the group. Or the only one with a different experience in a group of people with shared experiences.

I am a survivor in so many ways. I'm just not ready to say it out loud.

To The Stars Bowen

To The Stars Bowen

Written March 6 2019

For the past few days I've been attending the Women In Publishing Summit on FB. Now having published before I am not a complete newb, but there are so many things I don't know and I'm only selling a few books here and there. I need to know more. This is really helpful for me. Describing marketing, pr, the publishing industries ins and outs, picking an editor, and so much more. Paying for the all-access pass means not only can I go back to the videos again and again, but I have access to other participants and instruction inside a private community. Somehow, going to Reddit and saying "please help me" smacks of painting a target on my ass. Ya know?

In just these past few days I've gone from wondering if I'll ever sell another copy, to actually creating a plan for marketing, editing, publishing. I have learned what my books need to get into libraries and bookstores if I so choose. There is a lot to do, but at least now I know far more about what I need to accomplish my personal goals for my writing. It takes far more than just throwing it up on Amazon and expecting it to sell, but I do not have to expose myself to true panic attacks just to get the writing sold.

This is a scary job. It's kind of like facing a dragon that is deciding whether it wants to eat you. But I am glad I did this now and not at the beginning. I truly believe that if I had done this as a real newb, it would have overwhelmed me to the point where I would have just given up. Now that I have a few experiences under my belt, getting a few books out there, it doesn't seem so bad. It just seems like a step up. The dragon has lost a few teeth and I've managed to wedge a spear into its mouth so it can’t eat me.

Now I'm ready to take off. The writing will become better, the communication will become better, the work will become better. That makes me happy.



Only For A Bit

Only for a bit

Written July 12, 2018

Nothing but a pile of rubble remained. Madicella bent down slowly, kneeling in front of it. A sigh of a breeze drifted over her face. A slim trickle of wetness dribbled through the dust caking her olive skin. If she closed her eyes she could still see it. Five stories of hand formed bricks, carved oak leaf balustrades, bright white marble pillars, and wide doorways that let the afternoon breeze sweep through stone clad hallways decorated lovingly with ancient hangings depicting scenes no one in living memory had ever seen. Now it was burning wood, shattered and even powdered clay, threads torn asunder and all around, the land was black where it had been green, black where it had been red and yellow, black where the water had flowed blue.

Matia's roughened hands grasped her shoulders as he too knelt beside her and pulled her toward him. His wordless murmurings tried desperately to calm and comfort the woman who sobbed helplessly at the destruction of her whole life.

"Maria...Maria...we'll go. We'll go away from here. It will get better. I promise."

She dashed the tears from her deep blue eyes with the tortured anger flowing from them.

"How? How Mario? How can you promise that? Our world is dead! Nothing can get any better!"

Again he held her. Fervently. And his voice matched his almost painful grip.

"It won't be good at first. It will be bad. But only for a bit my love. Only for bit. We can learn to look further. Please believe me."

She had no choice but to believe him. A woman who had been here all her life. Knowing only this one place that had been completely eradicated. Nothing would grow here for a century. No one would prosper. She had to believe that Mario could take her somewhere that would be better. Better than this at least.

Leaving was both easier and more difficult than Madicella thought. Easier in that she literally had nothing to carry except the one delicate pearl decor clutchbag she had taken from the house that night. Harder in that they could not even stay long enough for the fires to burn down so she could bury her family. Her parents, the members of the house that were buried beneath the rubble. They heard the heavy strata engines of the military hoverships and their eyes sought each other. Matia swallowed and looked deep into her blue orbs.

"Trust me mija."

She nodded, stiff with terror. He reached out with trembling hands to untie the finely embroidered paneled covering of her garments, leaving her in her shift, then untied his own fine black felt coat and let them both slip away in the brisk wind toward the burning rubble. Left in the dust caked clothing that was left, they looked as nothing more than hired help.

As the heavy military vehicles crested the last hill, they turned and walked away into the ash of the forest.

A shuttle, no bigger than an automated drone. It was small enough to make them hyperventilate at the thought of sitting, cramped, for the four day journey to the nearest port. But what were they to do? It was the very last shuttle. If they did not take it, they would have to take the chance of sneaking onboard a military vessel. Madicella took Matias' hand and marched resolutely forward. At the gangway, she opened her clutchbag and stared inside. Removing a thin holophoto, she placed the whole thing into the pilots hand and walked in. No more discussion was necessary. For the four days, they could not even both stretch out at the same time. They alternated resting positions, and endured the stench of the small chemical toilet they had to share with the pilot.

Humanity proved itself a minority in the bustling atmosphere of the port. Neither of these shivering pieces of pink flesh could understand even a smidgeon of languages spoken here. After four days, they were starving, exhausted, and sore. Matias seized upon an opportunity when a grunting leatherback alien physically threw a dishwasher out of his stall for snitching food. Without hesitation he dashed in and loaded up a tray with plates. Before the grunting alien knew what had happened, he had already started the load and was frantically loading up the newly ejected clean platters onto his arm. He turned with a steady gaze and waited for the alien to tell him where to put them. A heavy arm flicked to the forward part of the stall and Matias gratefully slid the heavy pile into their place. Without turning his back on the heavy alien, he returned to the dishes.

Shocked, and quite abandoned, Madicella backed into the shelter of two faux stone pillars near the stall and slid to the ground. Her stomach clenched painfully the long hours that Matias was in the stall. When the burly leatherback had shut up the shop, he offered Matias port credits for his work, but Matias waved off the useless money, pointing instead to the leftovers sitting on the cooler.

A painful moment passed in which the bready, nutty aroma simply drifted around Matias. He dared not touch the  food unless it was clear that the leatherback wanted him to have it, yet in the quiet where no dishwashing chemicals were in the way the aroma was making him feel faint. His stomach suddenly made a loud, angry counterpoint to the aroma and he moaned a little. The leatherback lifted his snout and a snuffling honk signaled its vast amusement. Picking up the whole tray which was enough to feed six people, he shoved it into Matias' hands and pushed him out the door.

Within seconds Madicella had leaped to her feet and run to Matias, but came very close to crashing right into the bulk of the four and a half foot wide leatherback as he exited the stall. She slid to a stop, staring up at him, her face gone ashen white. With another good natured honk, the leatherback took ahold of her arm and pushed her toward Matias. He stumped away from the stall, leaving Matias and Madicella to shovel down the food.

Finally sated and almost comfortable, they retreated back behind the pillars where they were fairly well hidden.

"Tomorrow, I'll take the money" spoke Matias soft and quiet. "Tonight, we stay out of sight. You…"

At his hesitation, Madicella stopped trying to get comfortable.

"...yes? I what?"

He looked so uncomfortable. The silence stretched between them. Her hand reached out to touch him when it became plain he wasn't going to answer her.

"Matias. I intend to live. You may be used to, um, doing...things. You know, things to survive."

His voice was bitter for the first time, "Work Maria. The word you're looking for is work."

She swallowed, "Si. Work. But. I am not used to work. How do I.."

She waved a hand around. He sighed.

"How do you work? It's no different than doing your own chores at..."

"No!" Her voice, sharp, reprimanding. He fell silent immediately. "How do I get work?"

Matias bit his lip, "Well, let's see what you can do. Besides knitting and sewing."

"I can design clothing, I can organize a household, I can oversee…."

Matias blinked to himself. "Servants?"

She took a hold of his face and touched her forehead to his cheek.

"Mario, you are not my servant. You never were."

They pulled away and held hands gently, "I know mija."

Regaining their sense of balance, he took a deep breath and looked as far around the port as he could see.

"Well unless we can get you dressed decently no fashion house will have you, even if they exist here. Can you pour a drink?"

"I don't think this is the time for a drink Mario."

He haphazardly grinned back at her, "Haha. No look. Almost every other place around here is a bar. If you can charm your way into one of them you can earn decent money just pouring drinks."

"Ok." came her diffident response

"Just…"

"What?"

"Be careful."

Her eyes widened and his heart almost broke. He didn't want to tell her about the dangers a spaceport would have. He didn't want to her to know, but from now on, they probably wouldn't be exposed to LESS danger. So he told her. About the things she would be asked to do apart from pouring drinks, and about the literal human trafficking. By aliens. She was appalled into a deep silence. But after the rest phase, she was ready to go. Awake before him, she was calm and composed when Matias opened his eyes on her. She looked at him steadily.

"It's only for a bit, right?"

He took her hand and kissed her fingers, "Only for a bit. And I will do my best to see we get enough put by to get out of the port as soon as we can."

Six monatas of tireless work later found them staring at a pile of universal credits in a bag on the counter of the small foodstall the leatherback ran. His grunts, squeals, and squeaks were no longer mystifying, but language. In fact, the two had learned three languages in those long monatas. They had also hidden half a dozen times when the military came through looking for them. The military had found cold welcome though, many slamming their doors in their faces. The pair had become a part of the port community, and the port protected its own.

"Take it boy. You and her. Go to Cleo. My brother. Owns a bar. You run the bar. You buy the bar. You be happy. Not rich existence. Good existence."

Without hesitation he put down two tickets to a classed ship of the line for the week long journey to Cleo. Passenger quarters! The snuffle was vastly amused.

"Need moar space than last time. No good small space for woman-child."

My first memory is absolutely clear. The day I learned to walk. We lived right behind the kitchen of the bar, on Floor 500 in the Union district. Mama had settled me under the tall, wooden cooler box that held perishables after I was born while she worked. My first view was the painted mobile above my head. But it didn't last long. As soon as I could see further than my fist, I realized that in front of my face were people. The metal sheet topped bar was low. As I waved my chubby fists, a burly face came into view. His voice was breathy through the thick black moustache.

"Ahhhhahahaa, yer a yungun der aren't ya? Whatcha call it Maria?"

"My son! My son is Mario. Like his father."

And the beautiful face came closer as she lifted me into this man's arms. Nonplussed, I grabbed his moustache and yanked, intent on eating the long facial hair. He chuckled.

I rolled over soon after that and then there was no stopping me. On my knees rocking back and forth, I would wait for a customer to notice me and then squeal for attention. They would notice me. Or not. Many times they just drank. The days flowed, one into another. I was happy laying there, and did so for an inordinately long amount of time. Eventually I learned my feet were for standing. But  these were all fuzzy memories for me. My mother would tell me about them later.

The day I learned to walk I was hovering. I grabbed the top of the tall wooden cooler where the ice was stored because it was good and cold. Sometimes Mama gave me a piece of hoar frosted fruit to suck on if it got very hot. Mama was very busy trying to finish up glasses from the previous day so she could serve that day's customers. She never noticed I decided to be adventurous. The cabinets under the bar were fronted by stainless steel paneled doors. Stretching as far as I could, I could only reach halfway to them while holding onto the cooler.

The doors were shiny. Mama spent a long time polishing those doors, and then the bar itself. Holding onto the wooden leg of the cooler, I studied those doors carefully. I saw something in those doors. I wobbled, and retreated slightly. I didn't want to fall down on the hard floor.  My mother always told me I was a cautious child. Never wanted to be adventurous until that moment. Never crawled. And here I was, looking back and forth between my safe spot and those shiny doors just...out...of reach.

And then it happened. I was reaching and I let go. My slippered feet pattered forward until I could seize hold of that coveted stainless steel handle. The door was cool, and pretty and the reflection moved when I did. I laughed, and so did the reflection. Now I had a friend. This pleased me no end. Holding onto one shiny door after another, I moved all the way down the long bar from door to door to door and then back again.

And here was this normally incurious child, walking, babbling to himself. In a sweltering strip bar in between apartments on the 700th floor of a working class neighborhood. The windows behind the bar showed a rather uninspiring view of buildings with apartment windows, other strip bars, tiny grocery shops where hover cars pulled up, delivery joints, and Medso shops where engineers got stitched after their dangerous stints in the guts of these massive buildings. In this mass of humanity, I was learning to be human. And it was hard. But only for a bit.





 

Happy New Year!

Yayyyyy! It's the first day of the new year. 

Well, ok, MY new year. November 1 is when I start a new book, so it's the start of a new work year. Luckily I finished the last work October 30, so I am completely free to write this book and not have to worry about previous work. That's the rule. Write one, finish one. Finishing doesn't always have to be the same work as the written one, but November 1 - 30 one book must be written.

I've had my seven cups of coffee this morning, I've paid the bills (most of them) and now I must get into the characters brains. That means doing things like this. Wow, I'm less than twelve hours into this thing and already procrastinating. ahahaha, no not really. This is part of the process. What's the story about? I decided a lighthearted book would be nice. So...

Sezzi is an alien. A small, insignificant alien. Well, her parents and everyone around her hopes she's insignificant. That's what they want to be. They want to be small, simple, insignificant people. But Sezzi doesn't really want to be insignificant, and no one tells her WHY, so she does what she wants, when she wants, how she wants. 

....Did I say this was lighthearted? Maybe I should get to the lighthearted part.

Sezzi's race lives on a little planet with other little people. Their little planet is surrounded by a large asteroid belt and outside of the asteroid belt is a bigger planet. Not just bigger but a BIG planet. This planet is filled with BIG people. A big planet with big ideas. The whole place is filled with HUGE IMPRESSIVE things!

See? Lighthearted.

Sezzi's curiosity, piqued by her uncles tales of secret daring is going to take her on a journey to the big planet. Through the asteroid belt, she'll travel right there. Fun right?

BUT.

Uh oh, you are starting ruin my vibe here.

When she goes through the asteroid belt, she inadvertently shows someone else the way to get through. This someone else is not so nice. In fact, by the time Sezzi realizes what she's done, they will have put her whole little planet in quite a lot of jeopardy.

Ahh. So not all lighthearted. But I swear, there are really great parts. Like the Light Sail ships, magnificent space whales, tiny cute little space fish pets, the majestic beauty of the Big Planet and...did I mention this? No? Oh yes... the people on the Little Planet? Well...all their wishes become real. It's...complicated.

Becoming a book soon. 

#NaNoWriMo

Audio is ready for Betas!

Who knew that trying to get a book ready for audio publishing was so HARD?  I...did not. My attempt at recording of The Hunger Inside failed miserably, but I am lucky in that the recording and editing software since I made that attempt has improved dramatically. I was able to record all the short stories in Eclectic Reflections Of Now, then edited, and processed them myself. 

Now I need some help. I'd like people to listen to just one story and let me know what they think. All stories are fiction, fantasy and science fiction. Here is a brief rundown:

A collection of literary fiction, fantasy and science fiction short stories written from 1989 through 2016. Through fiction, these short stories reflect some of the changes that we have seen in the world. From the innocence of youth through the heartbreak of war and the ongoing decimation of our planet's ecosystem, each story contains a unique viewpoint intended to connect audiences with the hopes and fears that many societies face today.
The audiobook will also includes a peek into the fantasy novel "Hunchback" (not available for Beta)

  1. New Planet: Apocalyptic tale (1hr)
  2. Forgotten Heroes: Literary fictional account in WWII (8 mins)
  3. The Dragon Master: Sci-fi with dragons (35 mins)
  4. Holiday Values: Literary Fiction about being an immigrant (46 mins)
  5. When I am Old: Sci-fi account of an author who has come to a nursing home (11 mins)
  6. Machines Of War: Sci-fi about building the most destructive bomb ever created (40 mins)
  7. In Death: Sci-fi battle between a tiny invader and a civilian living on the edge (9 mins)
  8. Unicorn: Pure innocent fantasy. Written in 1989. (6 mins)

To participate, you can click Contact here on the website, you can also catch my post on Google Plus or Facebook. Files will be made available for download in MP3 format.

Update on Eclectic Reflections of Now

Eclectic Reflections of Now, my new short story book is almost done! yayyyyy! I am still on schedule for a release late February. I have recorded this in an audio book form as well and I am really hoping to release both the ebook and the audio book at the same time. The audio book is currently in editing and should be complete in a few days.  In the meantime, please enjoy this audio tidbit from: DragonMaster.

 

The Day After (Trump got elected)

A short story within the book "To Be or Not To be" scheduled for release 2017

The Day After

The face on the screen was old, lined with wrinkles. She had sparse, wispy gray hair, but her eyes were a twinkling blue. Jorge couldn't help but make the comparison with the "ideal caucasian" theory. Jorge listened carefully to the old woman's words in the interview that had happened before Jorge was even born.

"The day after the election? Oh, goodness that was long ago. I think...we were all in shock a bit. At least those of us who were disappointed with the result. Lots of us who had not voted for him remained inside, especially those who were vulnerable."

The old woman's facial expression changed, becoming distasteful, as if she had bitten down on something very difficult to swallow.

"People of color, and especially the LGBT crowd in my neighborhood. And you have to understand we had a good neighborhood...they all just...withdrew. The man who ran the burrito restaurant, he..he closed down almost immediately. There was a lot of noise about some states seceding, chaotic protesting."

Her lips twitched, "The Canadian immigration site crashed. I think...it would have been hilarious...if it had turned out differently."

A disembodied voice off camera spoke, "And how did it turn out?"

The old woman waved a hand, "Oh, it..was..scary. But not immediately! Oh no. A few days, a week afterward and people had to go to work. There's only so long you can play sick out of despair. Outwardly, it all seemed to just, go back to normal. But there was this undertone. Like after having 8 years of hope, a piece of people's hearts had been ripped out. It was an ugly undertone. Even in our little community we had those who celebrated the result and that undertone caused those who were….different….to be scared."

"What happened after that? Can you tell me?"

Now her face displayed sadness.

"We...I wish we had done more to prevent it. It started with the usual policy changes. Rollbacks of certain decisions. At the time I felt lucky that he didn't have more power. I mean, what was it to me that certain people couldn't use my bathroom? What did I care if more hunters had access to automatic weapons? I didn't carry a gun and it wasn't permitted to fire a weapon inside our community limits. These were all little gifts to his cronies that had helped him get where he was. What was scary was the set-up for further policy. He was a sneaky bastard that one. While we'd all been complaining that politicians didn't consider the long term, he had a list a mile long of things to make his empire last."

The disembodied voice started to ask but she began speaking again. Her eyes drifting upwards into her memories.

"His tax policy seemed kind. He took only a quarter of a percent from everyone, but it was every single person. There was no accounting for social or economic status. It all went upwards, never down. We were all supporting the biggest three companies in the entire country, and it wasn't long before he owned those companies. Of course we didn't know that. He was very good at crushing media hype. He allowed certain things through, and it wasn't always good, just enough to make sure people watched him, paid attention to him. As the years passed and he gained more control over the government through the judicial branch than we had ever seen, we asked ourselves how did this happen? And we had no answer. Instead of improving the electoral voting system, he provisioned the system through his supporters that broke up voting into sectors. The sectors that supported his policies got more votes. The popular vote became just a figure. It didn't even matter anymore. Our votes didn't matter. And then…."

Her voice got rough and her eyes filled with tears.

"And then came the next four years. And he was celebrated. By so many.  And it seemed so NORMAL! Our children still went to school, but slowly their access to higher education depended upon testing that told them what they should do. Slowly, instead of us controlling what our representatives did, we found the representatives controlled what we did through manipulation. Even when the evidence produced was not based in reality, if a trusted figure tells you A causes B therefore avoid A...you tend to believe it right? And the pressure, the constant pressure from everyone around that believes it, even if it's tripe! All our trusted representatives began to disappear, replaced by those who were allied with him. And they began to call him The Great Man."

"And...after the next four years?"

"Oh, he didn't even have to be president to be in power after that. He was lauded as the man who made our country great. He had done it. He had fulfilled his promise to us. He brought in jobs, he reduced crime, he stabilized industry. The president after him barely even mattered."

"You seem upset. Would you like to stop?"

She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief, taking a deep breath, "No. No thank you. This is so important. The truth is important, no matter how hard it is."

"Ok. So how is life different now than when you were young?'

"When I was forty, there were so many different stores and people in our community. Every street was different, every store, every house was individual. We had supermarkets and specialty markets. Over the years stores have become much less individual. Where we might have had a super market downtown, and then a mediterranean store north of town, a german store to the east and an asian market to the south, now we have only generalized supermarkets at regular intervals through almost every city everywhere."

The disembodied voice questioned, "But..wouldn't different kinds of markets be confusing?"

"And that was the reasoning! Instead of a city bustling with all sorts of variety, our cities became...homogenous. TEll me young man. When you look around your neighborhood, what kind of people do you see?"

"Oh...well..this isn't really about me."

The old woman shook her head, "No, this is meant as an example of the change that has occurred. Just answer the question."

"Well, I...see journalists. And I think there are some lawyers down the street. Not many couples and no kids for sure. We aren't set up for children. No schools nearby."

She nodded vigorously, "Exactly! These people are all like you. When I was young, the people in our neighborhoods were all so different. We had people who had been born there, and then we had people from India, from Europe, from Mexico, from Canada, from so many places and different backgrounds. It was interesting."

"But, wasn't it difficult? All those different people."

"Yes. It was. And it was wonderful because none of us had the same views and when we took a moment to step back and consider what it was that made us different, it made us feel special and important to know someone else who wasn't like us. And we didn't agree. We didn't agree on how or where the homeless should be housed, we didn't agree on how taxes should be spent, and we didn't agree on well...very much at all. But we found compromise. The compromise led to new ways of thinking, of doing things, new ways of learning. We made each other better."

The disembodied voice became slightly argumentative, "How could that make anything better though? If no one really got along well? Now we all know our responsibilities, we know exactly how our money works, and we know where it goes. We know who uses what and everyone has a job. How is that bad?"

The old woman sighed, "Young man, when was the last time a major invention was announced? Besides virtual reality and the automatic car, when was the last time someone came up with a new computer, or delved into a new math theory. The last new elements were discovered in 2016! That was sixty years ago. What happened to the space stations, the robotic planetary explorers? When was the last time we sent a rocket into space?"

The camera view shifted as the old woman lifted herself up and walked toward the window with careful steps. Her wrinkled old hand reached out toward the glass.

"There is a reason we have TWO walls encompassing the entire of Central America young man. There is a reason we no longer have communications with anyone in Africa, and that our trade with China is strictly regulated. I assure you it is not terrorism. This homogenization of our country is not a portend of success. It is a blazing neon sign of doom. So long as we plant those trees only in rows instead of letting them grow organically, we will reap nothing but the same boring reward, for the rest of humanity's existence. Until something comes along to smack us in the face."

--

Jorge watched the interview fade, "And then the Eoirkoran came."

Sam's voice echoed solemnly, "And then the Eoirkoran came. Humanity was forced to adapt again, to improve in fear of being wiped out by another space faring species. But along with the Eoirkoran's new knowledge came the knowledge that inconvenient people could be taken care of wholesale. The people that the woman knew early in her life would have been horrified. But by the time she grew to be one hundred, even that young journalist interviewing her had no idea that there were even people who were sexually differentiated from himself."

"You mean people who wanted to be with people of their own sex?"

Sam grunted in agreement, "And those who were bisexual or transexual. Those people didn't "exist" in his world anymore."

"That's why she said the change was scary."

"Yes Jorge."

 

 

 

Firefly

So my husband says, "I don't understand why anyone likes that show."

And I have to wonder why I liked it. Why do I like it still?

The music, fiddle/violin all jaunty one moment, sad and sweet the next.

Was it the cowboy guns with bullets, space guns with lasers, or was it the interaction in the crew? The crew that reminded me so much of Star Trek. Humor and danger and moral conflict. Every single person with a distinct character.  Dangerous space captain, elegant women who think for themselves, a slightly idiotic/typical enforcer, a preacher who doesn't ever preach. A kid with "magical" powers of the mind.  

These people were forever getting into trouble and scraping themselves off the floor with a spatula. But they kept coming back. Is that it? That they just didn't give up? No, I know what it was. The ship. That beautiful little rust bucket that was one step ahead of soaring into a black hole and never coming back. She must have been something back when she was new, all shiny and sparkly, like a real Firefly. Then she spent her latter years serenely soaring through the stars, a partner in crime. She had a personality, just like Enterprise. She turned into another realistic home for us.

Yes. That was it. The writing that allowed us to just sail off in a very realistic spaceship, almost as if it was us, ourselves. We could all see ourselves actually doing something stupid like hijacking alliance goods or doing some backyard smuggling deal. Using a ship to just jaunt through the galaxy.....I wanted to do that. Many people wanted to do that. Someday our descendants will actually get that opportunity. 

What a glorious daydream. 

I did it. I'm a good mom.

This morning, I woke up at 3am. My first thought was "Hey, what a great time to pay bills!" and then I agreed with myself. 

Yeah, so that's how the day started. I paid bills, then I hovered, playing games, watching Sword Art Online, until I managed to bother my husband enough to get up with me. We changed the guinea pigs blankets and I hovered some more. 

I started to wonder if I could REALLY do it. If I could let go long enough to let Talon walk away from me. I made him some eggs and toast, but none of us really ate much. We made sure he had packed everything, was dressed appropriately, had his paperwork, and then we got ready to get into the car.  We went from this:

To the airport where he checked in, his monkey in his backpack. He did fine on his own at the desk. 

and then another photo. 

We ate a bit, but I didn't eat very much. I had waves of nausea mixed with a vague suspicion in the back of my brain that there was something very wrong about this situation. I held it off with promises of chocolate and ice cream. And then his Rotary officer Barbara joined us in saying goodbye to him. I am immensely grateful to these wonderful people who helped make this happen for him.

And then it was time. I hugged and kissed him, watched him go through security.....

One last wave, and he walked away through the crowd to his gate. And then my brain realized that the promises of chocolate and ice cream were all bullshit. I had just allowed my little boy to walk further away from me than he'd ever been. 7,416 miles according to Google.

The first 30 miles home were hell. All the way to our favorite restaurant my brain screamed full volume. "YOU JUST LEFT YOUR INFANT SON AT THE AIRPORT AND YOU HAVE TO GO BACK FOR HIM!!!!!"

Which of course isn't true. He's not an infant. He doesn't need minding like a child. He's 16, he's fine. But my brain doesn't believe that. It pulled every emotional trick in the book to get me to go back, and I kept driving. This of course led to comfort eating. Not the promised chocolate and ice cream, but it was enough. I made it home. 

Now I can drink beer in my underwear, eat popcorn all day, and have the knowledge that my home is safe from Windows for a whole year as well as my wallet because I don't have to buy endless bags of rice and noodles to feed a growing teenager. I did it. I let go. I was a good mom.