Sometimes I get distracted and I don’t even think about having a blog. (Am I the only person who reacts to that word with revulsion — “blog”? It looks like an Orc name and sounds like someone emptying their guts into an echo-y metal waste basket. It is possibly the ugliest word in the English language.)
Anyway, the question of Muses came up, and although I don’t consider myself beholden to a spirit beyond the vagaries of chance to motivate me to create in any medium, I’ve always had this awareness that the center of my core just enjoys creating things. But because I like to answer when someone asks, I looked around at some of the stuff I’ve collected during my lifetime — and enjoyed enough to display — to see if I could find that answer.
It came down to my Looney Tunes Marvins or my Lego Fawkes the Phoenix (whose wings are geared to rise and lower by crank in an amazingly realistic imitation of bird flight. Honestly, it is sooooo cool! Plus, his head, neck, wingtips, and tail can be posed to add a sense of his emotions.)
The Choose-A-Mood Marvins won this time, mainly because Fawkes the Phoenix leaves me awed by the engineering involved, and the Marvins tickle my fancy and make me laugh. Maybe when I get serious about reaching for something I fear is unattainable, I’ll turn to Fawkes. But until then — as GD Deckard has pointed out, there is to be
This is a wonderful opportunity to help trauma survivors get their stories and work out to a wider audience.
For those who don’t know,Katie Koestnerwas on the cover of TIME Magazine at the age of 18 as the first person to speak out nationally and publicly as the victim of “date” rape. She is now the Producer and Host of the Dear Katie: Survivor Stories podcast.
My function is two fold. One, to find any creatives (not just authors) whose work deals with trauma and healing, and engage them in podcast conversations regarding their work and their lives post trauma. Two, to help find trauma survivors who’ll share their stories for the mainDear Katiepodcast, review episodes before they go to air, edit, and make suggestions as necessary.
Please leave a comment if you or someone you know has written a fiction or non-fiction…
Consciously, I had nothing to add when I posted a photo recently. But the pot always simmers. I brooded on the word “victory” in a comment by Sue Ranscht. I recalled the epic journey across northern Norway in World War 2 by Jan Baalsrud, the sole survivor of a commando force betrayed by a Nazi collaborator. I seized another day of magical light and found there was more to show and to say.
Here’s a recent Writers Co-op writing prompt: Nothing. It’s really something. I’m always impressed by the variety of responses writers submit. Mine is below, but please take a few minutes to read the rest. And maybe share this post or that one with your family, friends, and followers.
This is my response to Writers Co-op’s latest writing prompt, “Mashup“. I hope you’ll stop by their Show Case to enjoy all the highly creative and original entries. Maybe they’ll inspire you to submit your own for the next prompt:
Guidelines are easy: any genre, approximately 6-1,000 words. Submissions are due by April 4, 2022, attached as a .docx to an email to email@example.com.
Daylight Savings Bank
by S.T. Ranscht
The first time I used my Facebook — oops, sorry, META — Daylight Savings Bank card, I bought 15 minutes of daylight to avoid having to wake up in the dark the next morning. It was a special occasion — my birthday — and I was leaving on a jet plane for a long-planned, well-deserved vacation in the tropics. If I had jet lag, I figured I wouldn’t miss the 18.3 minutes (15 minutes at 22%) of additional darkness that would trim sunshine off the end of that day to pay for it. If I didn’t suffer from jet lag, I could pay the higher interest rate of 33% (19.95 minutes) to defer payment up till the end of the test period.
At only 25 years of age, I was one of Daylight Savings Bank’s lucky beta testers. Tens of millions all over the world had applied, but only a hundred thousand were chosen by lottery to experience the freedom of deciding how many hours of daylight their days would hold.
You’re probably wondering how this could possibly work — I think we all were. First, every applicant had to read and agree to the 10-page TOS on DSB’s website before META held the lottery. This was meant “to give applicants the opportunity to inform their consent and withdraw their application if they so choose.” Then it got pretty technical — something about transactions “disrupting/resetting circadian rhythms” and extended use “realigning applicable relative longevity standards”.
To me, the most important part was the sliding interest rate scale. I just wanted the longest, sunniest days I could afford. Of course, as beta testers, we didn’t have to pay any money for the extra light or dark — we chose extra light (or dark) at one end (or both ends) of the day, and had to accept an equal amount of dark (or light) plus interest, either the same day or by the end of the 30-day beta testing period.
Second, the actual process sounded like a METAverse thing on steroids: After DSB’s thorough physical and mental examinations to establish each selected participant’s beginning health baseline, each participant would be “surgically fitted with temporarily permanent lenses” that would enable them to “experience sunlight and darkness on their own schedule.” At the end of the beta test, DSB conducted both examinations again, and traded their lenses out for the participant’s own lenses, which I guess must have been cryogenically frozen, just as rumor had it META’s founder, Mark Z. had been fifty years ago.
When I won a slot as a beta tester, I was ready. I paid for my own vacation, but the sunshine would be courtesy of Daylight Savings Bank.
After my first timid appropriation of extra sunshine and a daylong flight, there I was, on one of those little South Pacific islands that’s dominated by a super-luxurious resort that looks like it could sink the place. I was so energized, I added five more hours of sun that first night and deferred all payments from then on. From the golf course, you could whack a ball right into the ocean. Imagine snorkeling near a coral reef among exotic tropical fish, giant sea turtles, and sharks. (Just watch out for those golf balls.) Sailing, surfing, wind surfing, parasailing. Hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing. Waterfalls, bamboo groves, volcanoes. Meal after extraordinary meal. Sea grapes. I did it all, I saw it all, and I needed only five extra hours of daylight every day for 23 days. No wonder I was moving more slowly toward the end.
But my exit examinations established a different explanation. While my body and my mind had successfully reset my circadian rhythms to my eighteen hours of sun/six hours of darkness schedule, my applicable relative longevity standard was now that of a 70-year old woman.
Even worse, my deferred payments were due. I had to live the next seven days in total darkness before DSB would trade out my lenses. Seems to me setting the clock ahead to permanent Daylight Saving Time would have been a much healthier option.
Benjamin Gorman, Co-Publisher of Not a Pipe Publishing, high school teacher, and best selling Amazon author invited me to share some advice. It’s the most convincing explanation I’ve ever read about why and how writers should use social media.
This is the first of his eight insightful points. I hope you’ll read the rest here.
“1. Your website is passive.
Back when I was making the switch from a guy with one book and a logo to co-publisher, I knew I needed a slick website, so I went to a friend who was a pro to get his help. He taught me one of the most important distinctions that’s served me well in all my investments of time online. “Your website is passive,” he told me. “No one will know what’s there until you direct them to it.” Before I understood this, I’d visited the websites of some of my favorite authors, people who are pulling in significant annual incomes from their writing, people who could afford to have really fancy, expensive-looking sites, and, with a few exceptions, I found that their sites were pretty blah, and some were downright cheap looking. Foolish me, I thought, “Ha! I will have this competitive advantage by having a fancy, expensive site! I’m so much smarter than these incredibly successful authors!” Nope. Turns out they’re successful because they’re a lot smarter. They knew (or hired smart people who knew) that the website doesn’t make much of a difference. You should have one. It can be a free one. It’s basically a business card with links to your books, your bio, and a place to announce events. And even then, no one will know about the events you identify there unless you tell them elsewhere, because your website is passive. There are authors who develop a following with blogs, but the website is just a repository for that content. The audience is drawn to it because those authors go to social media to let folx know when they’ve added a post. Unless you are so successful people will search for your name, don’t sweat the website. And if you are so successful people are searching for your name, don’t sweat the website.”
The current writing prompt is Kicking off. My response is below. I hope you’ll take a look at the others over at Writers Co-op. They range from thoughtfully instructive to historically fictional to tragically comical and just plain fanciful. What would you have written? The next prompt is:
What would you do with that? I hope you’ll give it a try. Your entry is due by Monday, March 7, 2022. Submission guidelines are easy: any genre, approximately 6-1,000 words. Send as a .doc, .docx, or .pdf attached to an email addressed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do join us. We are planning on publishing an anthology for which each author chooses two or three of their own favorite submissions.
And please share our posts with your family and friends.
All You Have to Do
by S.T. Ranscht
It began as a joke, a harmless prank. Isn’t that what big brothers are for?
“It’s true, I promise you,” I told her, “but only special people can do it.” She was six and I was eleven — she had to believe me.
She took one of the rocks from her left hand and threw it at a sapling ten feet away. It bounced off the center of the skinny trunk.
I didn’t let on I was impressed. “Honest,” I said. “Do you want to learn how?”
She pulled back one corner of her mouth and looked at me sideways. “I asked Mommy, and she said no one can fly except in an airplane or a rocket.”
“She said that because she never even flew in her dreams. Sorry, kid, but our mom just isn’t quite special enough to soar like a Condor. Of course, you can spend your life on the ground if you want, and never even try, but then you won’t be any more special than Mom.”
As soon as I said it, I knew it was the wrong thing to say. She launched another rock and it hit exactly where the first one did. Then she turned on me.
“Mommy is too special. She’s the most special mommy in the whole world.”
I knelt in front of her. “You’re right, Sadie. She is. She probably just wants to keep you safe. Flying can be dangerous. It’s tricky to master and easy to get hurt doing it.”
“How? How can you get hurt?”
“You might get caught in an updraft and not be able to escape until it drops you someplace like the North Pole. Or China.”
She looked at me from beneath her scrunched eyebrows. “What’s an updraft?”
“It’s like riptide at the beach,” I said, knowing how much Dad’s warnings about that had scared her, “but it’s in the air and it sucks you up instead of down.”
Shrugging, she threw her last rock at the same spot. Bullseye. “And besides, if I went to China, I could call Mommy and Daddy and they would come and get me. I know their phone numbers, dummy.”
“Well, peabrain, you wouldn’t be able to call if you got caught in the top of a Giant Sequoia or sucked into a jet engine, would you?”
Her shoulders slumped. “No.”
“Okay.” I held her shoulders so we were face to face. “If you want to learn how to fly, I can teach you.”
“There’s lots of ways,” I said, ticking them off on my fingers. “Some people just wiggle their toes and they rise up off the ground,” I could see her toes wiggling inside her sneakers. “Or maybe you’ll need to run downhill, spread your arms, and catch the wind.”
Sadie looked around. “We don’t have many hills around here.”
“My friend Doug says if you stand at the edge of something tall like a cliff or a skyscraper and throw yourself at the ground, all you have to do is miss.” I figured what was the harm? Sadie wouldn’t read Hitchhiker’s Guide for at least five more years.
Wrinkling her nose and shaking her head, Sadie said, “I don’t think that would work for me. I’m really good at throwing. I never miss.”
She got quiet. I could tell she was thinking. I stood up.
She looked up at me and narrowed her eyes. “Show me how you fly.”
I was ready for this. “I can’t show you yet because only flyers are allowed to see other people fly. If they let non-flyers see them, they can never fly again.”
“Then how am I s’posta—“
I held up one finger. “I can tell you, and once you learn how, we can fly anywhere, anytime you want.”
She made an exasperated little noise and said, “Okay. Tell me how you fly.”
“It’s easy. I stand with my knees bent just a little, and my arms ready to reach for the sky. Like this.” I posed like I was gonna take a free throw in basketball. “Then I pick up one foot — not too high — and KICK it down, hard, to the ground. Then I take off.”
Sadie stood like I was standing, except her little butt was sticking out. I had to work really hard not to laugh. “Okay, lift one foot…”
“Which one?” she asked.
“It doesn’t matter. Whichever one you want.”
“Now, KICK it down. Hard!”
She looked at me. “It didn’t work.”
“It’s okay. Nobody gets it the first time. Show me how you stand again.” Real serious like, I walked around her, looking her up and down. “I think I see your problem. Straighten you back a little, your butt is sticking out too far.”
She did just what I told her to do.
“Now lift your foot…”
She used the same foot as before.
“Now KICK down!”
She did, and of course, she was still standing on the ground. She immediately went into her pose again. Gotta give the kid points for determination.
“I’m gonna try the other foot this time.” She picked it up before I could say to.
“Good idea. Now KICK!”
She closed her eyes and KICKED.
“Gosh, Sadie, I’m really sorry. I thought this would work. I thought you were ready. Tough luck, kid.” I started back for the house.
“Wait! I almost had it, I know I did, but I think I wasn’t standing straight enough. Watch me, okay? One more time. Just one more. Pleeeease?”
How could I say no?
She took her stance. “How do I look? Is my butt sticking out?”
“No,” I said, “you look good. Go ahead, lift a foot.” She chose her second choice again. “Now…”
She kicked down. Hard.
And she shot into the air like she had springs on her feet and wings on her arms!
“Sadie!” I shrieked, “You’re flying!” This was impossible, but there she was, wheeling and tumbling like one of those crazy pigeons.
She bounced a little when she came down way over by a bunch of oak trees, but she landed on her feet. Then it looked like she was picking something up.
When she kicked off again, she rose as high as the tops of the trees before she turned and flew straight toward me.
Flying in a circle above me she yelled, “Now show me how you take off.”
I took my stance, lifted a foot, kicked down hard, and took off — running!
Sadie was right behind me, pelting me with acorns, and calling, “You liar. You can’t fly!”
I shouted back over my shoulder, “Nobody can fly, Sadie. Not even you.”
What can I say? I was eleven, she was six. She had to believe me.
She dropped out of the air, right on top of me. Lying on the ground, we were both all right, but she jumped up, angry.
“You tricked me,” she said. “You’re a non-flyer and you made me fly in front of you and now I’ll never be able to fly again.” And she ran off to the house, crying, “Mommyyyyy!”
It began as a joke. A harmless prank. But as far as I know, Sadie never flew again.