Cold War

My first draft of Cold War is dated 22 Jul 1987 and is based on my experiences in the arctic and working for USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs. I wrote the story for a workshop. Self-reflection and -inspection wasn’t in vogue at that time and wouldn’t be for another five or so years. Most stories presented were tech driven and bored me. The one or two character driven stories were weak because the character aspect had to break through the tech aspect.

Anyway, since then it’s been published in Midnight Zoo ’92, Horizons Science Fiction ’99, Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires 2016, and Daikaijuzine Sept 2020.

Enjoy.

Cold War

Home is…south? Gotta be. Everything’s south.

Which way is south? Can’t smell it anymore. Damn compass froze, it’s so cold.

Cold didn’t bother me the first 250 miles. Neither did the glare of the sun. Or the endless white. Or the total lack of smells. Someone told me there’d be weird smells up here. There aren’t any. Not this far north. There’s the smell of the ocean, humming beneath this glacier. I could smell the snow at first. That stopped after a few hours, after my mind got so use to the smell of white that it got blocked out. The winds don’t howl like I thought they would. They wouldn’t this time of year, anyway. But they whisper. The glacier surface is so flat I can hear conversations back in Mantinac Bay. They come to me when I let my mind rest, when I lay down to sleep. That’s not like in-country. You lay down in-country, any thing’s got legs uses you for an LZ, a runway. The ice surface is uneven, though. Up close it’s uneven. That’s like in-country. But nothing crawls over you. Nothing living, nothing but the wind.

I don’t sleep that much anymore. The monitor’s attached to my chest. Physically attached. They sowed it into me where the skin is thickest. So I can’t sleep on my stomach and when I sleep on my back I can see this damn little red light blink blink blink. Blink blink blink. Keeps you up all night, you know? Blink blink blink.

How much farther? I use to be able to do this in my head when I started. Mantinac to the Pole is nine-hundred sixty klicks. I’ve gone four-hundred. What does that leave?

It’s a long trip. Some nut told me the ice would smooth out. This from a guy with a Ph.D. in cold weather research. Guy learned from a book. That was back at USAACRREL: United States Army Arctic and Cold Regions Research and Environmental Labs in Hanover, New Hampshire. New Hampshire can get cold, when the Montreal Express comes in the from the north and we get a Nor’Easter heading in from the Maritimes. One year we had a snow squall New England style. That’s a hurricane in winter. It got cold. Not like this. This is a dry cold. They didn’t modify me right. I can feel it. Right up my legs to where my willy used to be. I can feel it.

I started with just over nine-hundred kilos of supplies. Stupid bastards. Over nine-hundred kilos in the sled, my body weight just under a metric ton. Oh yeah. They figured this one right. Each time my feet splayed, the fishtails on my soles picked up little slivers of ice that worked their way in. Deep. Kind of like shin splints that itch. I’ve only used a third of the supplies. That part of the design went right, anyway. Big as I am, I don’t need much food anymore. How ’bout that, mom? Mother never raised no tiny children, she used to say. What you think of your poor boy now, momma? They took what you and papa made one night and made me something no woman will look at again.

Everybody thinks they find test subjects in jails. He’s a lifer, he’ll do this to get out. Maybe a college student who needs extra beer money. Oh, and there’s this one, where they volunteer some private to go hazard. You know how Garrett got to be The Flash? Fricken’ lightening hits his lab bench and douses him with chemicals. Fricken’ Bruce Banner would have a tumor the size of a football if he ever sat in a gamma ray like they said. Remember ‘When Captain America throws his mighty shield’? The next line should have been ‘That ninety pound wimp gets a dick as hard as steel.’

Used to read comics all the time. Can’t remember too many of them now.

How much further do I have to go?

Got this thing in the side of my head. They said it was like what they did to help me walk after Charlie sent me a baseball as I jumped off the Rome. I never walked right. They said they would fix all that, too. Make me a fricken’ Steve Austin. Fuck. This thing in my head, under this plate, it listens to me and signals some satellite where I am and how I’m doing okay.


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Writing Mentoring

You are a fabulous teacher. – Parsippany, NJ

 
Let me save you some time before reading this post by starting out as I did with Critiques: Online or via Email; Do you want to improve your writing? Are you willing to pay to improve?

If the answer to either of those is No then read no further, this post isn’t for you.

Answered Yes to both? Read on.
Continue reading “Writing Mentoring”

Writing Critiques: Online or via Email
(paying subscribers get an automatic 50% off regardless of subscription level)

Who’s my hero? Joseph Carrabis. Just finished an edit consult where he kindly, constructively, and expertly ripped my book blurb to shreds! LOVE IT! ‘Atta Boys do you no good. Find someone who will give it to you straight!! Thank you! I owe you. Mine felt soulless. Now I see why. It is humbling to be such a novice at something. I appreciate your help. – Augusta, GA

 
Let me save you some time before reading this post; Do you want to improve your writing? Are you willing to pay to improve?

If the answer to either of those is No then read no further, this post isn’t for you.

Your critique of my novel was priceless. – Hudson, NH

 
Answered Yes to both? Read on.
Continue reading “Writing Critiques: Online or via Email
(paying subscribers get an automatic 50% off regardless of subscription level)”

Ruminations Part 5 – Joseph Carrabis (was/could be/might have been) (Personal Pronouns in Fun and Earnest)

My first rumination can be found at Ruminations Part I – “Your eyes are completely healed”
My second at Ruminations Part 2 – Numbers lead to informed decisions
Rumination Part 3-1 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1
Rumination Part 3-2 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 2
Rumination Part 3-3 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 3 – I Take a “Writing the Other” class
Rumination Part 3-4 is Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 4 – Is your character POC or POM?
Ruminations Part 4 is Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore


A friend is writing a story with a host of LGBTQPOC (what am i missing? these things are so fluid i must be missing someone. i learned today about hobosexuals. those are people who enter relationships just to have a place to stay) characters. Several of these ruminations stem from my wanting to understand her work.

But I can’t tell one character from the other. Sometimes the name gives it away, sometimes not. One of the major problems for me is that the reader is told a character’s LGBTQPOCism, not shown, and I don’t mean shown via a love or sex scene. Identity markers can be revealed through dialogue, setting, by other characters’ responses and reactions, et cetera (as noted in Ruminations Part 4 – I can’t talk to women anymore).

But such character and story issues deal with craft. I’m not invested enough as a reader to care about the characters’ LGBTQPOCness. It hasn’t been demonstrated as a relevant story element so why is it in the story? Nothing I’ve read of my friend’s work so far directly requires LGBTQPOCishness, and as I wrote in Ruminations Part 3 – Sensitivity Readers, Part 1, if something can be edited out of a story without affecting the story, get rid of it!

You need better readers
No, you need to write better.

A reader’s inability to care about some story element is a weakness in the writing. People who’d never pick up my The Augmented Man give it high marks and start their reviews with “Military thrillers are not my go-to genre, but…,” hence such weaknesses are in the writing, not the reader. An interesting story told well will capture a reader regardless of that reader’s genre tastes.

I’m X. I’m a gay male.
A fellow I knew introduced himself with “I’m (name). I’m a gay male.”

Stating he was gay was the second piece of information he offered about himself. To him (it seems), his sexual identity was a public identifier.

Somehow I can’t imagine myself saying something like “Go down the hall and look for X, he’s the gay guy.” I can imagine myself saying something like “Look for a guy, mid-thirties, blond beard, glasses, really close cropped hair.” More likely I’d say something ilke “Go down the hall and keep saying ‘Is X here?’ until you find him.” I’d choose the latter method because it’s more efficient.

I’ve heard others making similar statements about themselves; elevating some aspect of themselves to the single most important piece of their identity.

Such behavior fascinates me.

Imagine someone announcing to someone they’ve just met some aspect of themselves as being paramount, the core of their existence, to the exclusion of all other aspects of their being. It’s like some bizarre Twelve-Step meeting; “Hi, I’m Joseph. I love Bach.” “Hi, I’m Joseph. I love mathematics.” “Hi, I’m Joseph. I’m boring and dull.”

Which is why I never succeeded at Twelve-Step meetings except to research them; they make one single aspect of one’s self the thing you most want to be identified by or as. I appreciate the need to do it in specific situations (working Twelve-Step being one, with “working” being operative).
Continue reading “Ruminations Part 5 – Joseph Carrabis (was/could be/might have been) (Personal Pronouns in Fun and Earnest)”

The 3x Rule

Note: This material originally appeared on a marketing site and dealt with branding. People who know what they’re doing recognize all branding is an application of neuroscience, hence neuromarketing (which may have been a part of neuroscience at one point and now is a buzzword and poorly degraded from its original).
I’m resurrecting it for a friend who’s curious about
The 3x Rule.
The 3x Rule has broad applications – everything from education to marketing to branding to military training and for the purposes of writing, creating memorable characters. You can use The 3x Rule to have your children, partners, peers, et cetera, remember to do something when they need to do it.
I use the
The 3x Rule rule in my writing to lock characters and scenes into reader memory.
Enjoy!


The 3x Rule has six elements:

  1. Memory
  2. Touch
  3. Mirrors
  4. Words
  5. Sentences
  6. Voice

Let’s explore each element separately then put them together.


Greetings! I’m your friendly, neighborhood Threshold Guardian. This is a protected post. Protected posts in the My Work, Marketing, and StoryCrafting categories require a subscription (starting at 1$US/month) to access. Protected posts outside those categories require a General (free) membership.
Members and Subscribers can LogIn. Non members can join. Non-protected posts (there are several) are available to everyone.
Want to learn more about why I use a subscription model? Read More ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes Enjoy!