Breaking Free

April 11, 2019, SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The sentiment is mine. (Photo credit: SpaceX)

I admit it’s possible to discover something accidentally. Take bacteriologist Dr. Alexander Fleming, for example. In 1928, he returned to his lab after a vacation in Scotland to discover a mold called Penicillium notatum had contaminated his petri dish colonies of Staphylococcus aureus, and was preventing its growth.

“When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer. But I guess that was exactly what I did.” Dr. Alexander Fleming

Of course, Dr. Fleming had already studied bacteriology, so while it may be possible even you and I could accidentally discover some new scientific fact, if we don’t have the underlying knowledge, if we don’t know the rules, our discovery probably won’t make much of an impact on the world.

But for someone who has the knowledge and knows the rules of their field, like, say, art or agriculture or aerospace engineering, the rules can be a springboard into new understanding and advances.

“You have to know the rules before you can break them with purpose.” Me, reflecting on what little wisdom I’ve been fortunate to stumble into.

I lament the passing of my generation’s defiant motto: Question Authority. We didn’t believe the rules weren’t meant for us or that there shouldn’t be any at all. We wanted to know why they were rules and what would happen if they weren’t. Could we get along more peacefully if some of the rules were different? Like desegregation. Or Congressional term limits. Or decriminalizing pot. (Legalizing marijuana was only a pipe dream back then.)

Today, it seems too many people simply believe the rules don’t apply to them. We can see examples of the resulting chaos in any city that harbors those solar powered scooters as helmetless scofflaws ride them in the wrong direction on one-way streets, or cross multi-lane streets mid-block or against red lights. We can see that chaos in any government that denies reality, espouses ignorance, and ignores the Rule of Law.

Where will we go from here? To Mars? To a nation of healthier, better educated citizens? Or will we remain stuck in a man-made quagmire, clawing the mud to keep up with the rest of the world?

I know what I want. I’m watching for people who know stuff and understand the rules well enough to think beyond them. Those are the people who will launch us forward. Those are the people who can make a large-scale, positive impact on the world.

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Scintillating Saturday Share#1

1 Andrew Pons|Unsplash
Photo credit: Andrew Pons | Unsplash

trE over at A Cornered Gurl invites all of us to join her in sending a little “love, light, peace, and kindness out into the ether.” In no more than 7 words, what does this picture spark in you?

Go ahead, take a look!

 

via Scintillating Saturday Share#1

2019 Writers Co-op Anthology

A new opportunity to shine! Open the brain door and let the ideas run free in the light of night or the dark of day. Own your weird — embrace your creativity.

writers co-op

 – by Curtis Bausse

The Writers’ Co-op invites submissions of short stories (and poems) for the second edition of our yearly anthology, The Rabbit Hole. Volume one was released in November last year, volume two is scheduled for September 2019.

This year, we are looking for weird stories dealing with the following themes: entertainmentweather or science. (If you want to combine all three, we’re very open to stories about a group of scientists on their way to the theatre when they’re caught in a freak snowstorm.) However, there will also be a section Weird At Large for stories that don’t fit the specific themes suggested.

There is a maximum word count of 5000. This is more a guideline than a strict limit – quality is the main criterion, not length. So a great story will be accepted, whether it’s 6000 words or 200 (flash fiction is…

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Weird Shorts

sue ranscht
Cover Art by Ian Bristow

Each of us has at least one weird friend who defies convention and relishes the bizarre. It’s even possible many of us are that friend. Of course, there are degrees of weirdness — I, for instance, consider myself to be on the charmingly eccentric side of weird as opposed to being on its totally bonkers, crazy-eyed, bat-eating, raggedy edge.

However, even if I were, I would still enjoy indulging in other people’s weird literary thoughts — like the stories in The Rabbit Hole — just as much as I enjoyed writing “Life Changing” for this anthology.

I hope you’ll consider acquiring a copy or two, in paperback or for Kindle, for your weird friend and yourself. The proceeds will benefit the Against Malaria Foundation, a GiveWell top-rated charity.

Weird Stories

Halloween is the last day to pre-order this excellent collection of 35 weird stories for only $1.99. (For a taste of their tone, see a few of their blurbs below.) Beginning November 1, the ebook price will be $2.99, or you can have a paperback book to hold in your hands for $12.50. Even better, the proceeds go to the Against Malaria Foundation, where $2 buys one life-saving mosquito net. (AMF is one of GiveWell’s top-rated charities.)

The Rabbit Hole will be an intriguing addition to your library, and would make a welcome gift for anyone who cherishes a few hours of escape from Normal — or even the New Normal.

1a, The Rabbit Hole
Cover art by Ian Bristow

Foggy
A father and daughter’s boating trip is ambushed by a mysterious, underwater tormentor.

I Should’ve Known Better
There’s just one thing wrong with his beautiful luxury apartment: it’s a transdimensional portal.  Will the Flying Demon Things get him before he gets one of the centaur Babes?

The Scroll and the Silver Kazoo
You never know who (or what) will show up at an open mic event.

Quicksilver Falls
A mysterious phenomenon puts the future of the world in the hands of a simple Tennessee farmer and sparks the world’s strangest writing competition.

Satori from a Consulting Gig
Management consultant Frank Dow has a new client: God.

The Adventures of Conqueror Cat
Herr Trinket (a sharp-eyed and even sharper-tongued shelter cat) traverses an interdimensional rabbit hole into poochlandia to explore the enduring timey-wimey dog-cat dichotomy.

Eggs On End
Claudia had a secret: she was ordinary – agonizingly, mind numbingly ordinary.  But all that was about to change.  And it would all begin with eggs.

Life Changing
Lawrence decides to exercise his brain to avoid his Alzheimer-stricken mother’s fate, but when his life twists beyond recognition, he can’t escape the possibility that lost minds must be somewhere.

Carolina Brimstone
The passion of the zealot is proportional to the power of the demon inside.  Constance Hennfield’s fervor knows no bounds.

Thanks to Mellow Curmudgeon for compiling these blurbs.

TimeJump

My latest deep dive:

TimeJump Icon
TimeJump (Image credit: S.T. Ranscht)

 

The App, my entry for the 2018 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest, is morphing into an interactive story I’m also submitting to Echoic-Mobile-Press for consideration.

Natalie and Vihaan are beta testing their TimeJump app. Sending text messages into the past, it lets you fix memory glitches or have the chance to say what you wish you’d said or know then what you know now. When the Feds try to steal it, the TimeJump team races to keep them from weaponizing the awesome power to know the future. ~~ The Pitch

The ScreenCraft contest will announce its quarter-finalists in January 2019, semi-finalists in February, and the winners in March. One of my stories quarter-finalled two years ago, but the entry pool is deep so individual odds of winning are preciously low. The most compelling reason to enter is the option to receive feedback from a professional entertainment industry reader. Their insights into both the story’s potential and the existing market are invaluable.

Echoic Mobile Press is a new publisher currently beta testing their interactive story app. They’re actively seeking authors who are willing to work with them to establish a library of stories from poems to short stories, to serials, to novels. The authors don’t have to know anything about interactive story telling going in — Echoic will help its authors build their worlds and create an interactive experience for the people who purchase the app. Think choose-your-own-adventure books, but more involved. They also plan to publish non-interactive ebooks that the app stories come from. They’re also happy to create app stories from stories or books an author has already published somewhere else. And their submission response time is only 4 weeks.

Oh, yeah — they pay their authors, too.

So I should hear good news or nothing at all from them by the end of November.

Space, Time, and Raspberries, the Picture Book

“I will not be its illustrator.” S.T. Ranscht, author of Space, Time, and Raspberries.

“Good.” Everyone viewing this page.

 

Raspberries
Blowing a big, wet raspberry at Einstein’s Absolute Speed Limit (Image credit: S.T. Ranscht, Not a Real Artist)

The only thing Raspberries wants is to go as fast as lightning. But when the teacher says, “Nothing can go as fast as lighting — it’s a Scientific Rule,” Raspberries must either give up the dream or keep trying to break the Rule, even though no one knows what will happen if the Rule breaks.

My beta readers (ages 5-9) — and their adults — have given me such excellent feedback on my most recent edits, that I believe Space, Time, and Raspberries is finally ready to meet the right publisher.

Let the hunt begin.

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