Bad books on writing tell you to “write what you know”, a solemn and extremely false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.
I’m cheating this week by using a prompt I saw on the Book of Faces awhile back.
Can you tell a story in one sentence?
Starships are rarely prepared to handle trained martyrs.
Now that Zombie Strike has wrapped up, I thought it would be good to go through my current writing projects and their statuses:
Promise to the Magic Heart – This is my fantasy novel I’ve been working on. Initial draft had flashback sequences, then I realized those were distracting and not adding what I wanted. So I ripped them out to do a "prequel" novel. That will still happen, but I really want to finish the main story first. Part of that is the main story is more fun, I have more done for it, and I want make sure that the prequel foreshadows. This may turn into a trilogy, but I’m not sure yet.
Irregulars 3 – No working title for this. It’s kind of stalled as I’m trying to figure out how to muddle to some of the conclusions I need to do in order for this one to lead into Irregulars 4. I’m thinking this will be a five-book series.
Avalon – I have plans to go back, do a directors cut of the original stories, and at least wrap that one up. It was originally supposed to be a writing challenge to see if I could turn out a 1,000 word chapter every week.
I have a few more ideas in the notepad that I might flesh out. If I can dedicate some time to just writing. Which is part circumstance and part self-discipline.
Let’s see where I’m at this time next year.
I was listening to Econtalk where Michael Eisenberg was the guest. He’s an Israeli venture capitalist. One of the techniques he discussed was “backcasting”. Essentially, he looks at a technology, determines the endpoint, and then works backward to determine the feasibility of the steps needed to get to the endpoint. He was using the example of driverless cars to show how the underlying technology needed to get to fully autonomous cars was still not there to expect a truly fully autonomous car in the near future. I thought it was neat, because I use a similar technique in writing. So, I may come up with a scene or an idea. Okay, what do I need to get to there?
Speaking of podcasts, on an episode of Words & Numbers, the hosts were musing about the downfall of Amazon. The harbinger of this was the degrading of the level of customer service. The hosts were musing that brands that fell in the past were often preceded by a degrading of the little things – cleanliness of the stores, friendliness of the employees, etc. It’s an interesting point, and I’ll have to bear in mind as I watch Amazon in the future.
And for something completely different, I’m kinda excited about Mossberg’s new auto shotgun. It looks like what I’ve been wanting in terms of styling and it looks like it may price under $1K. I’ll wait to see what some of the reviewers say, as well as seeing how one feels in my hands, but this may be a contender.
This is the fifth year I’ve reviewed which podcasts I listen to, how I listen to them, and when I listen to them. Part of it’s my own curiosity at how my podcast habits change. I’m also curious what others think about the same podcasts and which podcasts come and go.
I listen to my podcasts in Overcast. I prefer Overcast because the app deletes podcasts I’ve listened to, plus it has a smart speed feature which will speed up if it hears dead air. Generally, I listen to my podcasts at 2X speed.
Rather than try to fit podcasts into categories, I apply categories to the podcasts. Also, I try to listen to podcasts “with a shelf life” (i.e., current events) first.
Comedy – One of the central themes of the podcast is making me laugh
Debate – The podcast uses a formal debate format
Economics – Discusses economic theory and impacts
Entertainment – Main subject matter is an entertainment form or persons
Free Speech – Discussing the current issues and assaults on free speech culture and laws
Government – Discusses the review of government operations
Guns – Discussing gun hardware and associated technology and skills
History – Delving into history in general or one facet/era
Legal – Discussing legal cases and theories
Libertarianism – Discusses libertarian theory
Interview – Substantial episodes interviewing guests
Opposing Views – Hosts regularly espouse politics or theories that are substantially different to my own
Prepping – Discussing prepping gear, methods, and skills
Politics Of The Day (POTD) – Discussion of current political events
Right To Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA) – Discusses issues around gun rights
Science – Discussing current science news and skepticism-related issues
Self-Defense – Discussing best practices for self-defense
True Crime – Podcast is a narrative/story of real crime events
War – Discusses issues surrounding armed conflicts
Writing Improvement – Helps me improve my writing
My podcasts as of February 2022:
Active Self Protection Podcast (Guns, Interview, RKBA, Self-Defense) – Mike Willever interviews people whose self-defense situations were shown on the ASP YouTube channel. This is good for discussion on self-defense incidents and the aftermath. The host has a segment afterwards where he discusses RKBA issues with Stephen Kurtowski of “The Reload Podcast.” I generally skip that part, because I listen to that podcast.
Advisory Opinions (Legal, POTD) – David French and Sarah Isgur discuss legal issues and theory on the politics of the day. With some pop culture on the side.
Alienating the Audience (Entertainment, Libertarianism, Interview) – Andrew Heaton brings on guests to discuss different aspects of various science-fiction properties.
Angry Planet (War, Interview, Opposing Views) – Formerly known as War College, this podcast is an interesting look at politics and military issues through interviews with specialists.
Assorted Calibers Podcast (RKBA, Guns, Entertainment, Interview, Self-Defense) – Weer’d Beard and Erin Pallette are the real reason I listen to this, but the other segments are generally surprisingly good. I’m also a patron, and listen to the Mag Dump round tables, Film Tracks, and Blooper Reels.
Blocked and Reported (Free Speech, POTD) – Katie Herzog and Jesse Singal discuss the various social media dust-ups with occasional interviews.
Bound By Oath (Legal, Libertarianism) – From the Institute for Justice, this podcast focuses on specific issues. The current season is focusing on the myriad of protections and immunities public officials enjoy.
Bribe, Swindle, and Steal (Interview, True Crime, Opposing Views, Writing Improvement) – This one popped up when I was searching for podcasts on white-collar crime. It focuses on issues, challenges, and items that are of note for compliance officials.
Clockwise (Tech) – Two hosts and two guests discuss four tech topics in thirty minutes. Sometimes those topics on current tech news. Sometimes it’s just musing on tech and life. Generally enjoyable.
Daily Tech Headlines (Tech) – Good fast summary of the big tech stories.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (History, Writing Improvement)- Dan Carlin’s storytelling on various historical events is spellbinding. Unfortunately infrequent, which can be a bit daunting since he does multi-part stories. I highly recommend, when possible, going back and relistening to the previous parts before continuing onto the new one.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Addendum (History, Interview, Writing)- A companion to the Hardcore History podcast where Dan Carlin does segments outside his normal narrative style.
The Dispatch Podcast (POTD, Interview) – The flagship podcast of The Dispatch network, the Wednesday show has the main hosts discussing the politics of the day, while the Friday show is an interview with a newsmaker, thought provoker, or just someone the hosts like.
Econtalk (Interview, Economics)- Economist Russ Roberts does great interviews with a wide variety of guests and topics. I’ve been learning a lot on economics, and even more on some wildly different topics.
The Economist (POTD, Opposing Views)- I listen to the Economist, because it provides a different perspective and reports on areas that barely hit my normal feeds.
The Editors (POTD) – Editors from National Review discussing the issues of the day. Part of my keeping an idea of the conservative side of the issues of the day.
FBI Retired Case File Review (Interview, True Crime, Writing Improvement) – A former FBI Special Agent and current author interviews retired FBI agents about the cases that had a unique impact on them.
The Fifth Column (POTD, Free Speech, Opposing Views) – This is an excellent roundup focusing on the issues of the day and how the media reports them. They also bring on guests who will disagree with them and have excellent discussions.
Free Thoughts (Interview, Libertarianism) – The hosts interview authors who promulgate new books that cover or intersect with libertarian issues and theories.
GAO Podcast (Interview, Government) – The Government Accountability Office discussed some of their reviews they’ve done on federal agencies.
Geeks Gadgets and Guns (Guns, Tech, Entertainment, POTD, RKBA) – A couple of geeks discussing guns and other geeky stuff â€“ with sometimes politics intruding.
GLoP Culture (POTD, Entertainment) – The hosts muse on the POTD, and the entertainment industry.
Gun and Gear Review (Guns) – This is a good review podcast for new stuff in the gun world. I enjoy the reviews and the banter between the hosts.
Guns Guide To Liberals (RKBA) – This is a good podcast focusing on techniques to use when talking about guns and RKBA to those who don’t share our views. Not active, but would recommend going back and listening to the whole series.
Handgun Radio (Guns, Interview, Self-Defense) – Delving more into the history and technological aspects of guns â€“ mostly handguns. Also, just fun musings on different aspects of guns. Sometimes they bring on interesting guests.
High Caliber History (Guns, History, Interview) – Logan Metesh interviews specialists on the history of guns, as well as lending his own vast expertise.
The History of WWII Podcast (History, Interview) – This one is going through WWII chronologically, with interview episodes interspersed.
Honestly (Free Speech, Interview, Opposing Views) – Bari Weiss’s podcast where she brings on guests to discuss areas where the mainstream narrative isn’t working.
The Incomparable Game Show (Comedy) – Rotating panels playing rotating series of ostensibly board games. Often hilarious, sometimes dangerously so when driving.
Kenn Blanchard Show (Guns, RKBA, Interview, Self-Defense) – After an almost year-long hiatus, Kenn Blanchard continues his musings on gun rights, the black community, and other issues. Yes, I have a fondness for Kenn’s podcast since I wrote the Zombie Strike segment for a few years.
Left, Right, & Center (POTD, Opposing Views) – This covers the week’s political events with a progressive, a conservative, and a host who’s a left-leaning centrist. Guests are brought on to provide additional commentary – who have been overwhelmingly on the left-side of the aisles.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen (POTD) – Charles Cooke and Kevin Williamson opine on the issues of the day and other things that amuse them.
Make No Law (Free Speech, History, Legal)- Ken White delves into the case law around the First Amendment and free speech. Unfortunately infrequent.
Managing Uncertainty (Prepping, Writing Improvement) – This podcast is mainly focused on risk management from an organizational standpoint, but I find it’s useful as a prepping exercise as well.
The Michael Shermer Show (Interview, Science, Opposing Views) – Michael Shermer interviews scientists, scholars, and other intellectuals on a variety of topics.
Part of the Problem (POTD, Libertarianism)- Rabid anti-war libertarian comedian Dave Smith is interesting. He’s certainly challenging some of my ideas. Particularly when he veers over to the conspiracy theories.
The Political Orphanage (Interview) – Andrew Heaton interviews a variety of individuals to discuss issues. Not necessarily just the POTD.
Pop & Locke (Entertainment, Libertarianism, Opposing Views) – This one looks at pop culture media (books, TV, movies) through the libertarian lens. Sometimes the panel goes a little more woke than I appreciate.
Popular Front (Interview, War, Opposing Views) – A look into smaller conflicts going on or unusual aspects of modern warfare.
Power Problems (Interview, Libertarianism) – A Cato podcast focusing on foreign affairs.
Quillette Podcast (Interviews, Free Speech) – Interviews and articles focusing in on free speech issues and cancel culture.
The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie (Interview, Liberatarianism) – Reason editor interviews a variety of guests. This would be an even better podcast if they had a different host.
The Reason Roundtable (POTD) – Four editors from Reason discuss the issues of the day.
The Remnant With Jonah Goldberg (Interview, POTD) – The Wednesday show is interviewing pundits, politicians, and others. The Friday show is Jonah musings.
Revolutions (History, Writing Improvement) – Really good series on various revolutions. Each season goes through one of the more pivotal revolutions in history, starting with the English Revolution.
The Rewatchables – (Entertainment) Variety panel of guests discussing a movie that is considered highly rewatchable. Depending on what movie they’re reviewing, if it’s one I haven’t seen, I’ll delete it.
Self-Defense Gun Stories (Self-Defense) – I like the analysis of what went right and wrong from a variety of professional trainers. This is another I recommend to new shooters and those who are thinking about using a gun for self-defense.
Short Circuit (Legal, Libertarianism) – From the Institute of Justice, this one discusses notable cases that IJ is arguing. I put it under libertarian theory rather than politics because it discusses legal libertarian arguments rather than issues of the day.
Skeptics Guide to The Universe (Science, Opposing Views) – This was my first science podcast and really helped forge my skepticism.
Skeptoid (Science) – Another one that helped in developing my skeptical outlook. It takes a particular pseudo-science claim and investigates with a skeptical eye.
So To Speak (Free Speech, Interview) – FIRE’s podcast discussing free speech issues. The guests and legal theories put this more into theory although it sometimes delves into the issues of the day.
The SoHo Forum Debates (Debate, Economics, Libertarianism, Opposing Views) – Oxford-rules debates on a variety of issues.
Tactical Tangents (Self-Defense, History, Writing Improvement) – I picked this one up originally because it has some excellent breakdowns of historical gunfights and mass shootings. It’s mostly geared to the professional, but the regular person can pick up some really good info.
Techmeme Ride Home (Tech) – This is a relatively short, but thorough examination of the big news in tech.
Unregistered with Thaddeus Russell (Interview, Libertarianism, Free Speech, Opposing Views) – Thaddeus interviews a varied list of guests he finds intriguing. Some are very interesting, some less so.
The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe (Entertainment, History, Writing Improvement) – After growing up with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”, this one is a wonderful substitute.
The Weekly Reload Podcast (RKBA, Guns, Interview, Opposing Views) – The audio companion to The Reload newsletter. The host interviews a wide variety of pro-gun and anti-gun guests, or those who just have something to important to add to the world around guns.
White Collar Crime and Fraud Podcast (True Crime, Self-Defense, Writing Improvement) – This show discusses more of the theory behind scams and frauds, but also discusses actual cases.
Words & Numbers (Economics, Libertarianism, POTD, Interview) – An economist and a political scientist discuss different aspects of economics from a libertarian perspective. Sometimes dipping into issues of the day.
Writer Dojo (Writing Improvement) – Larry Corriea and Steve Diamond discuss the business and techniques of writing.
Over the weekend came news that Richard Marcinko passed away. Marcinko was the first commander of SEAL Team Six, the Navy’s elite counterterrorism unit. He detailed his Navy career in his autobiography Rogue Warrior.
Marcinko wrote a few action novels after that. They had a profound impact on my writing. Early iterations of Ranger from Badmoon Rising were little more than my attempts to copy what I read.
Fair winds and calm seas Demo Dick.
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe someone dead for thousands of years. Across millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for a thousand years. To read is to voyage through time.
Discipline doesn’t mean you make sure you have breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning and you’re out of the house at half-past eight. Discipline means that when you conceive something, you decide whether or not it is worth following through, and if it’s worth following through, then follow it through to its logical conclusion – and do it to the best of your ability.
I hope you’ve been enjoying the story!
It was very interesting to see a spike on a day I hadn’t posted anything.