book promotion

Giveaway Gamble

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I’m running a giveaway. I never thought I would, so I’m rather surprised. But I’ve reached a point in my writing where I want to put it to the test. Which means I’m going to pay to build a mailing list in the hope that enough people will like what they read to make it worth my while. Eventually.

Here’s the deal. I’m giving away 12 paperbacks in a raffle. To enter, you simply need to give me your email address. Then you’ll be on my mailing list, from which you can of course unsubscribe at any moment. The winner gets the grand prize but all entrants get a free ebook of One Green Bottle. In a forthcoming newsletter, I’ll be announcing the release of the sequel, Perfume Island, in September. So then I’ll see how many people liked the first book enough to want the second.

I could do this without the giveaway, via my blog. But after a couple of years, my mailing list stands at 67, which means it’ll get to a thousand around the time of my 112th birthday. Blogging is good for all sorts of things but not for getting readers.

The giveaway will be up soon on giveawaypromote.com. That costs me just $5 (or $10 for a featured promotion). If I don’t do that, only my blog readers would find it, which kind of defeats the purpose. So if I get n people signing up, it’ll be money well spent . How big is n? Some giveaways draw more than 1000 entrants, but I’m not getting my hopes up – let’s say 300. I’d be quite happy with that. Less than 200? Mweh. The cost of the prize plus postage will be around $200: given that some of the entrants will (a) unsubscribe from the newsletter, (b) either not read or not like One Green Bottle, (c) read and enjoy it but not go on to Perfume Island, there needs to be a large number of entrants for this gamble to come off.

The raffle winner will be chosen by an online random name picker, into which I’ll feed the names of the entrants myself. There are services which can do this for you, along with a host of other frills. The best, apparently, is KingSumo, which costs $200 (one-off payment – it’s yours then for life), but it only works on wordpress.org sites, not wordpress.com. The other main two are Rafflecopter and Gleam. There are free versions to both of these, but if you want them to collect emails (which after all is the point of the whole exercise), they cost respectively $43 and $39 a month. You can run your giveaway for just a month, then downgrade again to free, but still it’s another expense, so for this first bash I’m not using them. Maybe next time – if there ever is one. This time I’ll get the emails by having entrants sign up on a landing page.

So that’s the background. I’ll report back on results when the giveaway ends. Meanwhile, would you like to head over here and tell me what you think? Have I done it right? Any blunders you can see? If you do, I’d be grateful if you could let me know before I post it on givewaypromote. And of course, don’t hesitate to enter yourself – you might even win.

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book promotion, writing technique

Add clutter. Vamp a while. Thanks, Atthys.

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John Dee, Elizabeth’s Royal Astrologer, said by some scholars of the period to have been one of Francis Walsingham’s undercover operatives. (He is, in my book.) See that globe there? On my website (still in progress) I am going to replace it with a period engraving of a cat’s head. A very special relationship has a confirmation in the historical record!

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Well explored territory here, but my Sly-addled brain isn’t kicking in right now.

I’m hammering away at a very difficult chapter. I’m trying to organize it into a logical progression of conversation, A leading to B leading to C, making sense of a stack of sticky notes, my low-tech method of story-building.

So, how goes it with your work? We haven’t talked about that for a while, have we? What have you written new? What are you pleased with? What are you bummed about?

I am optimistic about my latest nonsense, but also saying to myself, Crap, girl! You’re digging another hole for yourself. I see a place to insert some astrology, way prior to the point at which I thought I’d need to start reading my huge, historical (first published in the eighteenth century, I believe) definitive work. I’ve flipped through that monster, it’s dense, it’s a bit like reading Chaucer, trying to figure out what’s being said. But all I need for now is a good line or two that I can run with.

Also: after my husband’s stroke, our budget must reconfigure. I had planned to buy a full line edit of Sly. I’m having second thoughts on that now. Here’s what I’m going to do:

I work at a place lousy with editors. I’m going to post a help wanted sign in the break room, find someone to give me a line edit, piecemeal, of areas I am concerned about. I already spent nine hundred dollars on a developmental edit. At this point, all I can bring myself to pay for is general guidance that I can absorb and carry on with myself.

I look forward to Kris’ post on promotion. My big strategy is still the bumper stickers, and related stick-em-up materials. My sister in Tallahassee volunteers at a community theater, she can put up a poster there. A guy from my group house in Boston still lives up there. Maybe I can get him to roam the subway system, plastering stickers around. I have a brother with connections, he’s a well known figure in Asheville NC. I myself will tackle NYC, I’m an hour north.

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A grinning cat head has to get a lot of attention. (This isn’t Sly. This is R. Crumb)

Whether anyone reads after the first page, que será, será.

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book promotion

Adventures of the Indie Author World/ Finding your place at signings.

Guest post from Nickie Seidler:

I’ll introduce myself first, I’m Nickie Nalley Seidler, a romantic suspense author trying to make herself known in the community. I’m a mom to my beautiful baby girl who’s two. A wife to my amazing husband of almost eight years. Living in the suburbs of Chicago, I write part time, work behind a desk part time, and mommy full time.

Alright, now that you know just a pinch of my life, thought I’d share some of my experiences thus far. When I first started writing, I had no idea what an indie author was. I had no idea you could publish your books, get paperback books printed, sell your babies-basically, it’s what it feels like-haha. I was EXCITED. But I will say, I’ve never written the same after knowing that. Let me explain. When I wrote my first book, I was writing for FUN. I wasn’t expecting the world to see it, I was expecting my mom to maybe read it and maybe some family members, but not the whole world. Then the writing community gets introduced to you. AKA-facebook. My husband came across an indie author somehow and she was basically my manual to getting started. She introduced me to some blogs, who went and shared my facebook pages, told them to check me out, that I was a new upcoming author writing in the romance genre. It BOOMED from there. Next thing I know I was being taught how to make teasers, and excerpts to show on your books and getting your potential readers to be excited about the upcoming releases. Blogs wanted to read, review, be a part of my amazing new start of a journey. It was GREAT. I was a wreck. I was so nervous to let anyone read my baby. My first. It was scary! I got wonderful feedback though, good and bad but when I say bad, I mean uplifting. People with advice on how to better myself. Yeah, occasionally I got the mean ones, but I learned to put them aside. From there, people just shared my facebook posts. Or I created sponsored ads to get more visibility, but again that was back then, things have kind of changed on that home front, mainly due to Facebook controlling visibility.

I started writing a list of blogs down. Whoever shared for me, read my books and reviewed, I would contact for future things. Blogs can host cover reveals, sales to your books, new releases, and some even do blog tours, as much as they aren’t that popular anymore. These were all big deals and what most authors were doing to get seen! It worked! Before I knew it, I had a following. I would take over blog pages, they would give me a time frame and I’d post games, and things to get to know people, or giveaways, even copies of my book. Mind you, again, this was on their facebook pages. Facebook has been KEY to my success. It’s the easiest way to connect with people. You name it, search it on facebook. There are TONS of groups and pages out there that connect you with the community of authors and books. TALK, PROMOTE, WRITE. That’s my three most successful points.
Talk – people want to hear not only about books, but about you. They view us as rock stars. Believe me, it is possible to fan girl over an author! I’ve done it! Talk to people, have everyday conversations. RELAX. They are just people like us. They want to know what inspires us, where we get our ideas. Most people know me now by my daughter. I post a lot about my daughter and to many people that was the best thing in the world. To see happy pictures, baby pictures, an author being a mommy. Talking is key to developing relationships with your readers.

Promoting – do it as often as you can! Don’t let people forget your name. Post a teaser from one of your books with links to purchasing it. Give them a line that will make them click that book of yours. Throw a sale every once and a while and promote it like crazy! Giveaways, get some swag made, bookmarks, post cards, rack cards, vista print is wonderful and gotprints for bookmarks is fantastic! I also have amazing designers, inexpensive, that can design things for you well. Throw a game on your facebook page or blog to get readers to win a copy of whatever you put up. Whether it be a copy of your book, or a bookmark, or even an amazon gift card! That one reader may be a lifetime reader from then on, who may promote or spread the word to her friends. WORD OF MOUTH is the best! Just don’t stop promoting. Share your other author friends releases, cover reveals, teasers and giveaways. Support others and they will support you! Well, most will. Talk to the bloggers, ask them to share a thing or two if they don’t mind. They love supporting authors and usually most willing to share anything!

Write – Just keep writing. No matter what, WRITE. Even if it’s a sentence a day. It helps. Sometimes I should take my own advice, but that’s how I was able to publish eight books with a ninth one on the way. Tell your readers you’re writing, they’ll be the biggest pep in your step! They’ll be your inspiration, your motivation to keep going. It’s been mine since I shared my baby with the world. The reviews kept coming, the readers kept messaging me, and the common theme was MORE. They wanted more from me! It was great! I felt on top of the world! I felt like the rock star they envisioned! Which also made writing more challenging. I was focusing on “what would they think” more than write it however it speaks to you. Who cares what they think this is how the story goes! If your story needs extra detail, write it! If it’s a quick read with less details, that’s ok too! There is no right or wrong way to write a book. It’s YOUR book and you write it as you want as short or long as you want it. Only want a chapter to be two pages? FINE! You are in control! But write from your heart, write for FUN! Write because the voices don’t give you an option! Don’t let the following you gain or the reviews you’ve read hinder your writing process or HOW you write! From there, signings fell into play!

Blogs would throw out some forms here and there for signings they’re hosting and I’d fill them out or readers would send them to me in hopes I’d fill them out. Why? Because they wanted to meet me! So I’ve traveled to Greenville, NC where my first signing was and it was great. I got to meet a reader who came all the way from the Detroit area to meet me! These people traveled FAR to meet ME. It’s an amazing feeling. I took so many pictures with my readers and sold some books. I gave away a lot of swag; bookmarks, pens, wristbands, buttons. They love it! I signed sooooo much and it was all overwhelming, but amazing at the same time. I met some author friends that I’ll probably have for life. We can all relate and we share our tactics.

From Greenville, I visited Nashville, TN and then I went to a Chicago Windy City signing and sold a ton of books and met so many more readers. I also did the Elgin library which is also coming up this year. I’m also involved in a signing in June at a distillery. I’ll list the dates and locations and links to buying tickets below!

What you may need to attend a signing?
Books, about 10 of each of your books!
A banner with your name or fun design to advertise yourself! (Think vistaprint)
Bookmarks or something people can take for free from you!
Sharpies! All colors ! You’ll be signing a lot!
Notebook to start a newsletter. (think mailchimp-free newsletter site)

I’d be happy to add you on facebook, just search for Nickie Nalley Seidler. I’d also be more than happy to promote anything you like! Let’s get you seen in the book community!

Come visit me at the 2nd annual Authors Fair, to be held Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 from 2 p.m.—4 p.m. at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL
Free admission.

Or
Friday June 16th, 2017
Fox River Distillery Author Event
204 Dearborn Court
#Unit 110
Geneva, IL 60134
7-9pm
Tickets will be through Eventbrite : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/friday-fan-girls-an-author-event-with-a-little-nip-to-it-tickets-31196582819

Time: March 13, 2017 at 6:11 pm

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About Writers, book sales

Study Finds Number of Writers May Soon Exceed Readers

Industry insiders report that the number of downloads from amateur authors now exceeds the number of consumers who are actually interested in reading them.

“Readership has been declining for decades, of course,” said an industry insider who wished to remain anonymous. “What with television and the internet and the proliferation of flash mobs, there are simply too many readily available forms of entertainment out there. Plus, they’re all so much easier than reading. Let’s face it, reading requires a lot more effort than just staring at something.”

Though the trend toward shorter, easier entertainment has been developing for a long time, it is an entirely different trend that now threatens to overwhelm the American book reader: the growth of self publishing. Ever since the advent of ebooks and self-publishing services such as Kindle Direct Press and Smashwords, the number of books being published has ballooned. In 2015, the number of self-published ebooks was anywhere from 600,000 to 8.2 million depending on whose sources you believe. When pressed for an exact number, a representative at Amazon told us, “It’s hard to know for sure. By the time we finish counting, the number’s already obsolete. We can’t keep a handle on it.”

“Writers are usually readers,” our anonymous source added, “and there’s part of your problem. A lot of those folks who would formerly have been reading are now working on their seven-part epic fantasy series or writing Kidnapped by One Direction fan fiction. It’s a real quandary. It’s like with photography, or being a singer-songwriter. Way more people want to produce their own albums than will ever want to buy them.”

Indeed the tsunami of new fiction may well be unstemmable. “In many cases, authors aren’t even asking for money anymore,” according to our anonymous source. “They’re giving the books away for free, just begging people to take them.”

Unfortunately for would-be authors, free may no longer be a sufficient discount.

“Good lord!” one reaimg_5974der told us, “My kindle is stuffed with free books! If I started now, I couldn’t read them all. But there are so many more out there! Everyday, my email gets more mailers with more free stuff, and it’s kind of hard to resist. It’s so frustrating!” She added, shaking her head, “Besides, I’m already hours behind in my Netflix binge-watching. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!”

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About Writers, book promotion, Stories, writing technique

Carl E. Reed, Where Are You?

Writers of every stripe, self-published or working on it, brand-published, with minimal support, or else cut loose by a bankruptcy, the rug pulled out from under, we all need stroking and advice and a place to vent. Discouragement is a permanent part of our lives.

I fear this is what Carl Reed is experiencing right now. He’s written great stuff. He’d acquired some industry connections – last I spoke to him he said he’d just had lunch with an agent. But he has not made it out of the shadow, into the sun, not even in a small way. I google him up, I get nothing. I see links to Amazon, and to old interviews on Book Country, but nothing new. I don’t know how that web discovery thing happens, I can’t even think of what it’s called, but if this title pops up in a search and someone who knows Carl sees it, maybe we’ll get some info on him, or even a visit.

Think down the road. You’ve tried and tried, put your heart and soul into it, and nothing shakes out. What do you do? Keep plugging? Reclassify your writing as an absorbing hobby? Give up, like Arnbar, my friend from Book Country? Who writes beautifully, with a Mel Brooks-style commercial potential, my only criticism of his work was that it was too much of a quip-dependent stand-up routine. I couldn’t see it working for a novel. A novel of one-liners isn’t going to cut it.

My own coping strategy – I’m not kidding, folks – is I am convinced my work will be read down the line. Decades hence, even. That does me, does me just swell. The good thing about being a dead author is, I won’t have to give interviews. (I’m a raging introvert.) I’m not counting on making any money, so I won’t be disappointed there. I don’t yearn to be traditionally published, luckily, for I don’t think my thing has the necessary wide appeal. I feel for all you who chase that dream.

To put your all into a project, and wait and wait for a breakthrough is a soul-stomp indeed. The advice is, move on, start another piece, so that when you hit, you have two, three, many things to sell. That can keep you going for a good while.

Short stories, I don’t believe they have an impact until they reach a critical mass with wide distribution, or they are goosed by a well received novel, at which point we find them in big mainstream magazines. I was introduced to Irwin Shaw around 1960 by a story in Ladies Home Journal, I believe it was, that was quietly sexy (for 1960), drawing outraged letters to the editor. Filth! Trash! Filthy trash! Cancel my subscription! If you want a laugh, the title was: A Year To Learn The Language.

Major exposure is a coup, certainly. Lesser, as I’ve said, I’m dubious. My cousin by marriage Jim Meirose has been published in many literary journals (looking at his list again I see they are not the big names I thought they were), and has been interviewed several times in Central New Jersey newspapers, and he writes gorgeously and tastily, but still struggles, much as we do, looks like to me.

He’s got his style in hand, he told me he feels no further need to discuss writing. He must feel the same about marketing, or he would have barged in here by now. He’s interviewed and submitted and queried, worked it, for twenty years, first part time, now full time. He retired from the corporate world, probably with a nice pension, one of the lucky ones, two or three years ago.

His wife, my blood cousin, came out of a fervent Catholic family. That whole crew, it was the this society, the that society, the Catholic Young Adults, the whole nine yards. If anyone is in line for a miracle, it’s them. It takes something of a miracle, I’m afraid. That’s why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we fail. We’ve fought the good fight, done something grand.

All together now, with feeling: To dreammm  . . .  the impossible  dreammm . . . dee . . . da-a-a-a . . . dee-dee . . . dee-dee-dee . . . da-a-a-a. Hey, I feel better, how ’bout you?

The people who make it, how do they do it? Some go low-bar. Known quantities sell, dirty in particular. But not intelligently dirty, that may be Meirose’s problem. I’ll let you know after I read Eli The Rat. I expect it to be a smart, raunchy, rollick. If it’s not, I’m going to be bummed, for my sake, and for his. I want to be able to tell him that I think he’s brilliant, maybe get invited down (he’s two hours south) for a barbeque or something.

I accepted the Facebook friend request of one Jim Meirose, an author. I soon realized I was talking to my long-lost cousin. (It was blast-from-the-past Marybeth who’d contacted me, using his account, she hasn’t one of her own.) That side of the family and mine had not interacted to any great degree, lifestyles being the big divide.

Jim seems to be unwilling to interact with me as an aspiring author. He’s a minor celebrity in Central NJ, probably hounded for advice. Maybe he’ll engage with me as a reader.

It is great to be a part of this community, so full of wisdom and understanding and a ton of fun. Fun will keep us afloat, until our ship comes in. When you get downhearted, talk through it here. When they beat me up* in Wix Design Experts on FB, I trot over here and make light of it, easing my distress considerably. If, despite my efforts, Cousin Meirose continues unresponsive, ditto.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, kids. Until next time.

I’m kicking around an idea: Talk Dirty To Me . . . If You Write Like Henry Miller.

I guess I’d have to read 50 Shades. Gotta think about it.

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* One annoyed Expert said to me, You don’t know much. How’d you get into this group? I told her, I warned Brett I’m no expert, but he looked at my site and liked it, a lot. That seems to have shut her up.

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book promotion

Anything Goes.

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Nothing substantial in the pipeline, so I’m cobbling a quickie. (Not that this piece is substantial, but it’s something.) Fun, anyway. Useful, maybe, to some.

I say we all need to think more pro-actively. We sit around waiting for the world to come to us, we’re gonna be waiting one damn long time.

To quote Mark Knopfler: It may be a game but I won’t play to lose.

Don’t scorn the old-fashioned basics. Don’t depend on the web to spread the word. Flyers, mailers, I’m going to try it all.

I’m researching bumper stickers. I see not only bumper stickers, but magnets, decals, and labels in a variety of sizes and shapes (like those I Voted Today labels you get on Election Day) for a modest price.

The bumper stickers cost a bit more than I had thought – around a dollar each. Can’t pass them out like sticks of chewing gum for that. It will have to be a more targeted give-away. Maybe they can be had for less, I’ve only begun to explore. I had hoped for around fifty cents each.

Magnets seem to run around fifty cents. (In quantities.) Any sticker or magnet can be die cut. Very exciting! Adds to the cost, I’m sure. All items are on thin, flexible vinyl. Weather resistant, durable.

A character from your story, with contact info (get your websites going) would be great fun, especially if it were Old Spice. GD, let’s figure out what he looks like.

Decals, plastered, say, in the NYC subway system, would that be illegal? Could it get you arrested? Anybody know?

I recall that the artist Keith Haring started his career by defacing posters in the Manhattan subway tunnels. Mysterious doodles, unsigned, got him a lot of attention. People were mad to know what the Radiant Babies meant. When he finally revealed himself, the press jumped on it.

Whoa! Now I’m researching Haring, looking for a representative image to post here. Damn! He’s got a bunch of stuff that seems to depict – can’t think of the word. What do they call it when you screw animals? Animalia? That doesn’t sound right.

Well, look. I found Keith’s little stand-up (cardboard?) sculpture of a sort-of Keep on Truckin’ figure. That would work for Sly. A 3-D paperdoll, leg raised, you bend it forward into a cake-walk. (I’ll go research R. Crumb now.)

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One of the guys in my seventies group house-hippie paradise painted a huge R. Crumb figure, much like this one, on the wall of the bathroom. And the motto – Keep On Trucking.

He was into Crumb.

The perfect way to display an outrageous wardrobe of boots. What’ja think? Wouldn’t that be great?

I’d make it great.

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blogging, book promotion, Stories

Writing DaysZ 6

The TV news team is telling me that one presidential candidate sold state department favors and the other plans internment camps for immigrants. Neither assertion is true, of course. They’re just straw man arguments. But a vigorous debate follows in which both candidates are trashed as though the assertions were true. Straw Men. They’re everywhere, like alien bug-eyed-monsters, grabbing our attention. Which is what straw men do, grab attention. “Straw man n. 2. An argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated. – American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition.” It’s the first step of spin.

Bob vs the Aliens
To read Writing DaysZ 1-5, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf

Debatable Arguments

+++They found the railroad handcar under an overhang behind the waystation. Bob and Piper grunted frantically, trying to inch it to the tracks before helicopter gunships could roar overhead. Old Spice rummaged through a wooden chest, tossing out items apparently deemed useless.
+++Piper dodged a wrench. “Spice!”
+++“Give us a hand,” Bob said urgently, quietly, “They’re coming!”
+++“No they’re not. The helicopter noise has stopped. Oh-” He held up an oil can. “Look!”
+++“So they landed in the town. In a few minutes, they’ll be airborne again and headed here.”
+++Spice began squirting oil on everything about the handcar that looked like it might move. “It’s Never Too Late to Prepare for an Emergency!” He smiled at them. “That’s my family motto.”
+++Bob repeated the phrase and squinted at Spice, “That’s the dumbest motto-.” The handcar lurched, screeched and began rolling. The three of them manhandled it onto the tracks and Bob and Piper pumped the seesaw handles while Spice squirted oil on every part that moved. Ahead, Bob saw a heavier stand of trees that promised shelter. Behind, he heard a helicopter lift off in the distance. The car gained speed to about twenty-five or thirty miles an hour and became easy to pump. But it was hardly escape velocity. He felt trapped in a slow-motion video. Trees blocked their view just as the helicopter approached the station behind them. “Keep going! They’ll overfly the track after they don’t find us at the station.” To ease the tension, he told Piper, “Spice was a doofus back home. Weren’t you, Spice?”
+++Spice looked up from something he was fiddling with. “Doofus?”
+++“An incompetent person,” Bob winked at Piper, “Foolish or stupid.”
+++She winked back. “Ignore him, Spice. You don’t have to talk about your family.”
+++Spice sputtered and stood. “That was not my fault! Really,” he implored. “It was the genetic alteration that I underwent for the Earth Mission. I was just trying to let her down easy.”
+++“Who, Spice?” Piper soothed. “Who were you trying to let down easy?”
+++“My fiancé,” he told her in a somber voice. “She deserved to know that my new body found her repulsive. So, I sent her a message. I followed all of the appropriate protocols for use of the family communicator, too. It is expected that the recipients of a personal message from my family will know who wrote it without a signature.”
+++Bob chuckled. “You sent her a message?”
+++“I chose my words carefully.”
+++“Oh, Spice! Is that’s how she found out you were breaking up with her?” Piper shook her head in dismay. “You texted her?”
+++“I wish.” The Alien slumped. “I accidently sent the message to the wrong person. But my fiancé, at least, knew who wrote it when she read it in the news.”
+++“Oh, Spice! Who did you send it to?”
+++“My father’s mistress. She was, how do you say it? Pissed at him.”
+++In the silence that followed, Bob rolled his eyes heavenward to see a helicopter flying in whisper mode arcing over the trees at the railcar. He grabbed the ray gun from his pocket and held it pointed skyward against his mouth and licked it frantically as ropes dropped around them and they were rushed by armed men dressed in black bulky outfits making loud, guttural, sounds. Abruptly, the helicopter veered away, trailing behind it one man still clinging to a rope.
+++“Where are you going?” asked one of the three men who had made it onto the railcar.
+++The answer came over his harness speaker. “Going for a beer. That was a roadhouse we passed back there. Coming?”
+++“Hell yeah man. We’re in.” The men jumped and rolled smartly to a standing stop behind the railcar. As the helicopter landed to pick them up, they turned and waved goodbye with their guns.
+++Bob looked at the ray gun but it was already fading away in his hand. “Wow,” he breathed.
+++“See.” Spice beamed at him, “I told you it would make attackers stop bothering us.”
+++“I just wished it had a trigger. Firing a ray gun by licking the red spot is stupid, Spice. I was too stressed to remember where the spot was. I had to lick the gun all over!” He made a face and spit.
+++“Don’t be trigger-happy, Bob.” Piper smiled at him like she was proud of him. “You saved us.” That made him happy. They spent the day taking turns, one keeping lookout while two pumped the handcar. No more helicopters came at them and although easy enough, the pumping was eventually exhausting as none of them were used to prolonged physical exertion. At dusk they were happy to see the lights of a small town.
+++“That’s New Haven,” Spice said. It’s not on any of your maps yet. But it popped up last week on our planet survey as a fast growing town. We can find accommodations there for the night.”
+++The lights in the town resolved into campfires, cars and people; adults, children and dogs, even some livestock. Where the rails crossed over a small stream, they were waved to a stop by men with fishing poles. “Hold on there,” one called in a pleasant but firm voice. He helped them to stop the handcar before it rolled onto the trestle.
+++“Thanks, friends.” The man held out his hand. “That contraption would make such a racket going over the bridge, the fish might stop biting. I’m Andy.”
+++Piper hopped down and shook his hand. “Glad you were able to help us stop in time, Andy. I’m Piper. We would like to spend the night here.” She turned and introduced Spice, who landed beside her, and Bob, who stayed on the cart. “Spice here is an Alien and Bob back there,” she pointed with her thumb, “Is Bob.”
+++“I see,” the man glanced at Bob before warmly shaking Spice’s hand. “Welcome! It is a pleasure to have you with us.”
+++“I thought all you Aliens left,” one of the fishermen said.
+++“That’s Skeeter.” Andy waved the man over. “Skeeter’s our Sheriff and resident greeter. Say,” he grinned at them, “You’re just in time for the debate. Let Skeeter get you a bite to eat and settled in.”
+++After some eating, greeting and refreshing, they watched older kids pile wood on one of the campfires to turn it into a communal bonfire. Early fall chilled the air. Overhead, star swarms lit a clear night sky. People gathered, some climbing up onto a vehicle. “Declared debaters,” Andy informed them, helping them climb up with him onto a flatbed truck. He raised his hands for attention. “The subject of tonight’s debate is, ‘What Happened?’”
+++“Is that an Alien?” a woman asked.
+++“Yes, and by the rules of New Haven, he is accepted like everyone else.”
+++The woman sounded agreeable, “Well, OKAY I guess.” To the chuckling of others, she added, “We accepted my ex-husband.”
+++“Back to the point,” Andy acted as the debate moderator, “What happened?”
+++“Well,” a thick looking man began, “I know we accept him and all and I do, but.” He paused and looked around. “You all know the collapse began when the Aliens arrived.” Bob loosely estimated maybe a couple hundred people watched the man point out Spice. “I’d like to hear what he has to say about that.”
+++With tense eyes turning on him, Spice seemed to shrink. He whispered into Bob’s ear, “Correlation is not cause and effect.”
+++“Excuse me,” Piper stepped forward. “We are Piper and Bob, Alien Companions. Due to the subtleties of the English language, and given the importance of clear communication in tonight’s debate, the Alien has asked us to translate for him. Allow me to introduce Old Spice, Earth Mission Commander of the Aliens.”
+++Spice genuflected as best a spherical being could, holding the pose longer than expected. Only when the crowd went silent did he rise to his full three-foot height, somehow making it all seem majestic. The thick man gave him back a short bow.
+++“What did he say, Bob?” Piper prompted.
+++“The Alien says their timing was unfortunate and unrelated to the circumstances on Earth when they landed.”
+++“Use his name, Bob!” To the amusement of the crowd, Piper kicked him. “Damn, man! Try to make him sound human.” They laughed at her. “Well, people, we need answers, not scapegoats. What do you really think happened?”
+++“You can’t fool me!” a man screamed.
+++“Ignore the screamer,” Andy told Bob, “He’s crazy. He’s not screaming at us. Herb screams only at himself.”
+++“Take your hands off that!” the screamer demanded.
+++Bob winked at Piper, “He’s talking to himself.”
+++“We already know what happened.” A young man spoke from the roof of his SUV. “My family lives in this car because the rich stole everything away from us. Away from all of us! The top one percent sucked up all of the oil with their planes and their helicopters and their yachts and moved their companies overseas and we’re left with no jobs and no homes and cars with no gas to live in.”
+++“Counter?” asked Andy. “Who wants to argue differently?”
+++“Scapegoating,” said Spice.
+++“What’s that mean?” the young man retorted.
+++“The word is from a Yom Kippur ritual,” Bob explained. “The high priest would symbolically lay the sins of the people on a goat’s head.”
+++“So?” the man huffed. “I know what I’m talking about. I listen to public radio.”
+++Stepping in smoothly, Piper said, “Spice is saying that blaming a group is no answer.”
+++“Scapegoating a group is just a way of setting up a straw man argument,” Bob elaborated. “Meaning, anyone in the group can be attacked for supposedly sharing the groups’ alleged sins. It’s a way of saying, ‘Politicians are greedy liars and can’t be trusted. That lets you attack anyone who is a politician.”
+++“Exactly!” The thick man nodded and smiled. “It was the Koch brothers!” He rotated slowly, nodding to the crowd, arms extended with palms up to bring them to his understanding. “They’re greedy billionaires. You can’t trust ’em! And we all know they are lying Republicans.”
+++“That’s plain crazy talk!” shouted a woman. “What about that billionaire George Soros? FOX News already exposed him as a Democrat. You gotta be crazy to trust a man who’s both, in the top one percent and a Democrat.”
+++“Stop that!” Herb screamed. “You can’t pee here.” That caused a slight commotion as people next to Herb drew back.
+++Spice seemed confused. “Scarcity drove up the price of oil,” he told Piper and Bob, “And you people kept buying it anyway. Now, not enough is left to power your needs. It was all very human and predictable. Why the blame?”
+++Bob shook his head, “Bad arguments, they’re everywhere. Let’s get out of here.” On the way out, they passed a sign someone had posted next to the fire, “Debate Tonight, Beware of Trolls.” In the distance, Herb screamed, “Time’s up!”

Yesterday was “National No Texting Day.” In what bubble in whose mind did that make sense? Makes me wonder how many people texted the info to their friends yesterday. That’s the thing about mind bubbles. They hold ideas that make sense when you think about them but burst when exposed to the real world.

Mind Bubbles
 … to be continued
(Follow Writing DaysZ to read Bob Vs The Aliens as it is being written. To read Writing DaysZ 1-5, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf)

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