StoryHack

Bryce A Beattie's website blog thing

The Latest

Things my son wants for his 5th birthday.

  1. A real blue sonic screwdriver.
  2. A butler to do his chores.
  3. A monkey.

Dear classified ad responder;

An open letter to everyone who responds to my online classified ad.

Here is how negotiations work with my ad. First, I offer a price for an item. I also provide photos and a description in my ad. Next, you ask any questions you need to determine if you want to buy my item and how much you should pay. Then, you either accept or reject my offer, or you make me a counter offer. Do not just ask how low I’m willing to go. It’s rude. Do not counteroffer less than half of what I have offered. It’s rude. Plus, I’m already giving you a good deal. Trust me, I went and researched what the market value of my item is. Twenty, maybe 30 percent lower is perfectly fine, as long as you can give me a reason. It doesn’t have to be a good reason. We take turns giving counter offers until we reach a place where we either both are satisfied or we decide we cannot reach a consensus.

Thanks,

Bryce

Send a Secret Message! One-Time Pad Generator for Pen and Paper Encryption.

A pen and paper system for passing encrypted notes. Includes a random one-time pad generator.

How to Self Publish a Book

Off and on for the past several years, I’ve been writing a free book to help authors to self publish a book. I’ve had a version up on a separate blog for a while, but I’ve been finishing it and editing and reformatting and such, and now I’m posting the book on this site. It […]

The final (for now) covers.

Here’s what I’ve ended up with for the two new short story covers. I think I’m happy enough with them now, and I can publish more in the same style so they will look like they kind of belong together. Links go to the stories at Amazon.

Then you can’t vote for her, either.

Politics. If you don’t like them, don’t read this post. I am going to rant for a minute. And let me get one thing out of the way- I am not planning on voting for Trump. I disagree with many of his stated policies. I find his personality grating. Do not mistake what I am […]

Still Fiddling with Covers

Here’s some newer versions of one the covers I’m occasionally working on. I’m not really sure which way to go. In this round I changed the author name to be a little more in line with the whole pulp aesthetic I’ve been playing with. I swear, I’ve probably looked at a thousand pulp covers looking for inspiration. And my goal here is not to really sell more of the short stories that I have already released, but to establish more of a consistent style as I release newer stuff.

cover_test_1 cover_test_2

Quick Question for Authors

Out of curiosity, do you have royalties/etc paid to you directly, or do you have a separate legal entity, like an LLC?

If you get a book contract, do you make it with the LLC or with you personally?

IAmA MIB AMA

Yay for fiction! In this short piece, a man has a frightening encounter with a pair of bizarre government agents. I’ve been trying to write something every night over the last little while. This idea just popped into my head a few nights ago as I lurked around reddit’s nosleep community. I’ll be cross-posting this […]

Finding Art for New Covers

I decided the covers on my short stories need to change. I’m also planning on self publishing a few more over the next little while. Here are the two specifically that I’d like to replace: What I’d like is a pulpier feel with more genre-appropriate art. Also some sort of attempt at same-ness author branding. […]

Silly Request for Reviews

I’ve been ordering a bunch of art from fiverr to redo some of my short story covers (and get one for the upcoming release.) I’ll talk about that process very soon. Right now I want to tell a different story.

For whatever reason, fiverr decided to love me as a customer and it gave me a $5 credit. There’s not much I need from fiverr that only costs $5, so I browsed around for anything that could be useful to this site or me as a writer. I looked at some of the “shill” reviews that were being offered, but that just made me feel dirty. I checked out the music categories to see if $5 could score me some kind of theme for the blog. (Answer: not really) Finally what I ended up with was the following silly little plea for reviews.

Announcement: Learning (Game) Programming in Scratch

Over the past year and a half, I’ve been volunteering, teaching a programming class at a local elementary school. I’ve been using scratch to teach, as it’s easy to get something fun done fast for the kids. I created a curriculum for the class that mostly consists of video tutorials the kids can follow along […]

It’s my birthday!

It’s my birthday and as such I suppose it might be acceptable for me to mooch for reviews. So if you have ever read something I’ve written, please consider leaving me a review. My Amazon Author Page My Goodreads Author Page My Smashwords Page Me on Barnes and Noble Or maybe like my author page […]

StoryHack Podcast #1: David J. West Interview

I’m calling this the StoryHack Podcast, Episode #1. However, don’t hold me to any sort of schedule for releasing more of these. I have no plans for regularity. That being said, it was a lot of fun, and I would like to do more author interviews in person. Cutting now to the chase, I’d like […]

Coming Soon

I just got back from my first ever live author interview. I’ll post the audio in a day or two, as soon as I can listen to it and make a couple of notes. There was a big car wreck on the freeway on my way back. It took 2.5 times as long to get […]

Random Replies

As of late I’ve been “discussing” politics and morality and religion and all sorts of stuff around the internet. Yes, I know that arguing on the internet almost never changes anyone’s mind.  I’ve come to the conclusion I should probably cut back. After all, I want to remain friends with certain people despite our differences of opinion. Still, people are wrong out there and I HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING.

In place of fighting on various threads, I’m going to put some of my responses below, listed without any context. I just need to get this stuff out of my system.

  • Yes he does, and so does every other senator. They all get donations/rewards from companies and special interest groups. All of them on both sides of the political isle. Don’t act like he’s a special case.
  • Who cares?
  • This doesn’t work and I’m not dumb enough to share it or like it thinking it’s going to work. It’s a prank.
  • That headline is phrased as anger-inducing clickbait. It’s not a strong debate point. I mean, if another publication, maybe one like the National Review, printed that story they could have easily re-titled it “GOP Senators vote to not take away citizens’ 5th amendment right to due process.”
  • This news is sickening. I think they should abolish the draft altogether, so that none of my children can ever be forced to kill or be killed at the whim of war-monger politicians.
  • Pledged delegates and superdelagates might be a problem, but it’s one with your chosen party, not the actual election. Electoral college is a separate issue altogether.
  • I’m pretty sure by this point that Bernie Sanders will not be getting the nomination, but I do appreciate your enthusiasm.
  • If you continue to lie to your children like that, they will not believe anything you say when they get older. My kids at know that I claim to be Santa for them. One day they’ll be like, “Man, society lied a lot to me, but my Dad always told the truth. Maybe he was also right about…”
  • It is this exact fear to vote 3rd party (or independent) that keeps the current parties in power. Suck it up and vote for someone else, man.
  • Wait, you disagree with the sentiment that both sides only present skewed and misleading statistics? I can provide you with several more examples, but you obviously have your mind made up. I won’t waste my time. Please, continue your uninformed ranting.

Writing Again & other News

Okay, so I’ve been making an effort  to write every night at least a little. For as much as I enjoy writing, I realized I haven’t been doing much. Now I need to add in edit a little every night, too, so I can get that kids’ book polished up. Also, I’m in a consolidating phase, […]

Just another Million Dollar Idea…

Does anybody else get scam calls from the same place over and over? Even after you tell them to stop calling? It bugs the heck out of me. I wish there was an app that would remember the numbers of those places and not just block them, but play loud, annoying noises over the phone until they hung up. Or maybe a message that said something like “Hi, and welcome to Captain Zeusmonger’s private horoscope hotline. Because Captain Zeusmonger values you as a human being, you will only be charged $39.95 per minute to use this exclusive, powerful, life changing service. Your horoscope today is as follows…”

I’d pay for that app. That is all.

2016 Beattie Family Vacation Report

So, I know nobody cares, but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I have to occasionally write something for the blog, so here you go. We just got back from a week long trip to the Yellowstone area. It was pretty fun and the kids are finally starting to do the road trip thing […]

The Castle Crumbles

Okay, so I saw the Castle series finale this week. Here are some random thoughts.

  • So, yes, it was apparent that the showrunners honestly believed they’d be renewed, and so they didn’t really prep a “series ending scene.” The scene they tacked on the end had to be something filmed for and cut from a previous episode.
  • I’m always happy to see Major Dad. Even if he turns out to be a bad guy.
  • This last episode had some pretty big logical stretches. Took me right out of the story. Let’s consider the electromagnet. Even if it made sense for him to have one, which is doesn’t, its usage in the show has huge problems. If it’s strong enough to rip a gun from someone’s hands, it would be pulling all sorts of crap to it. Button and zippers would distort clothing, watches would lift hands, random bits of metallic trash would zoom upward, etc. And Castle would have felt a pull long before he got close enough to rip the gun from his grasp.
  • Also, what was the creepy bad guy doing in the cab before Castle walked out? How could he possibly time that abduction?
  • Last season, when Stana Katic was thinking of leaving the show (holding out for more money?) fans went ballistic on her. Now, suddenly she’s the victim of a cruel Nathan Fillion plot. I’ll bet when they announced she wouldn’t be back for “budgetary reasons” she was probably asking for even more money…
  • I’m kind of bummed that Castle’s character went from charming, competent, funny, ruggedly handsome, helpful guy in the early seasons to mega buffoon caricature by the end. Well, buffoon caricature with occasional super intense angry moments.
  • Caleb showing back up to shoot them? That was stupid. He had no reasonable motivation to do so- only purpose I can conceive is to have a forced surprise kick-in-the-groin cliffhanger.
  • I don’t know why nobody likes the Haley character. My only qualm is the tacked on hacking superpower she was granted after introduction. Maybe she was bitten by a radioactive c compiler or something. Other than that, I thought she was interesting.
  • For the record, I totally would have watched a continued series without Kate Beckett. And I probably wouldn’t have even missed her. So there.

Re: Hugo Nominations

I think the yearly kerfluffle over the Hugos is getting quite ridiculous. Both sides are basically being jerks to each other. “The people you thought should be nominated are stupid and stop the people I think should be nominated!” Both parties scream. They simply egg each other on and dare the other side to take more and more drastic matters. Authors on both sides write books upon books worth of snide comments and proof of their superiority. One side simply favors self important-intellectual-newspeak and the other crass verbal bludgeoning. It’s all very fun to watch, but not very productive.

That being said, I think there should be a new award where instead of a crappy statue the winner is given an actual puppy.

An Arborist Daydream

Just over a year ago My wife and I took our kids on a road trip to the redwoods in northern California. It was amazing. I loved being there and I was blown away by the sheer grandeur of those trees. I plan on going again.

Several months later, I came across this article about growing a forest rapidly.

Maybe you can already see where this is going.

At some point over the last little while I wondered if I could somehow mix the ideas in the article to make rapid redwood forests.

In fact I have this secret dream of planting such a patch somewhere hidden, but not too difficult to get to. I’d use the three types of redwoods, douglas firs, maybe lodgepole pines, heck I could throw in some quaking aspens for color in the fall. Pretty much any tree I would find amusing. But the primary goal would be to establish redwoods.

Now, I’ve read that redwoods can grow 6-10 feet per year. That means before I shuffle off this mortal coil I could revisit my secret forest and there would be some very tall trees. They wouldn’t be truly huge in diameter yet, but that’s okay. In a couple of hundred years, someone else will discover my forest and be amazed.

As I’ve batted this idea around in my head, I’ve had fun imagining many “what if”s. After all, if I love the redwoods, then everybody else would, too, right? And not everybody lives close enough to road trip it to northern California. So they should be planted everywhere.

What if somebody planted these forests in a bunch of yards in abandoned neighborhoods?

What if several people planted these tomorrow?

What if a large conservationist movement did it?

How many years would it take before the trees got big enough for anyone to really notice?

I haven’t exactly done any research for this, so it’s mostly a pleasant daydream. Redwoods might not be suited for places I want them (Yellowstone, the park down the street from my house, etc…) And I have this nagging fear that maybe introducing such massive non-native species somewhere would cause ecological mayhem.

Still, if here in 14 years you are hiking about and you come across a grove of redwoods where none should be, go ahead and think of me. Just don’t tell the government about my plan. I don’t want to get in trouble.

P.S. When I lived in Brazil, I had the chance to see a few of what I believe were Kapok Trees, which are also pretty cool. Feel free to plant some of those, too.

Chatting with Maria Lynch

Today’s author interview is with Maria Lynch, author of Beneath the African Sun. What are three things everyone should know about you? I love reading fiction and non-fiction books that interest me; fiction—historical fiction, detective mystery and some popular fiction. Non-fiction can vary from philosophy to current trends in leadership, addressing social justice issues and […]

In Defense of Marriage

I love Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. I find his writings to be quite entertaining. His interviews are interesting and almost always thought provoking.

That being said, I disagree with some of what he says. Today and specifically, I disagree with a recent post on his blog titled Marriage: Civilizations’s Biggest Mistake To be fair, part of me still thinks he might have only been trolling.

Still, because I cannot rest while someone is wrong on the internet, I thought I’d write up why I believe he is wrong. Everything in quotes with be from Mr. Adams’ article.

And 80% of your interactions [with your kids] can be unpleasant if you are the disciplinarian.

This presupposes that his made up statistic is both true and somehow a necessary product of marriage.

Mr. Adams continues on the subject of kids and says our modern public school system assigns too much homework. This homework causes stress. He then postulates a solution.

You know what would solve that?

Get rid of marriage.

The only reason the local school system can crap on kids with truckloads of useless homework is because they hand-off the problem to parents.

There are many examples of schools putting up with stressful mandates right now. For example standardized testing. Therefore I don’t think it’s fair to say they would just fix the problem.

Also, there are other, more effective, possible solutions to the homework problem like homeschooling, privatizing the school system, simply removing homework mandates, etc.

At this point in the article, Mr. Adams proposes a new marriage-less system that would raise children.

For the sake of comparison, imagine a system in which kids are raised by some sort of organized partnership of parents, teachers, and medical professionals. Parents can spend as much quality time as they want with their kids, but mostly for mentoring and social reasons. The jobs of discipline, healthcare, feeding, fitness, and education would be handled by the greater organization.

I will hereby refer to this as the Adams System.

When a kid is in school, one teacher controls 20-30 kids. That is an efficient system, and the teacher probably doesn’t mind the work. When two kids come home to one parent (often) you have a 2-1 disadvantage for the parent.

He claims that a parent is at a 2-1 disadvantage in the at home example. Isn’t 2-1 better than the 30-1 in the Adams System? Isn’t it easier to manage 2 kids than 30? Isn’t a child better off not having to compete against 29 other kids for love and attention?

Do you know why millions of Americans have no healthcare? it’s because of marriage.

I think this is a preposterous stretch. I doubt you could ever find a person who would say, “You know why I don’t have insurance or go to the doctor? Marriage.”

What is the real reason people don’t get insurance? It is expensive, and they can’t or won’t pay that much for it.

Marriage creates entities against which you can discriminate. If there were no marriages, all citizens would be equal, and my guess is that healthcare would be universally available.

Post hoc ergo proper hoc logical fallacy. There is no plain straightforward chain of events that leads to his conclusion.

But without marriage, there would be enough money for everything you want. Marriage is what is making us poor (compared to my hypothetical alternative of child-raising co-ops.)

Mr. Adams presents exactly zero evidence that marriage is keeping us poor. Also, he does not address the costs of inefficient bureaucracies. For this to be a valid point, he would need to describe how the Adams System could possibly be more cost-efficient.

Do you know why nearly every parent doesn’t eat right and doesn’t exercise enough? Answer: Marriage. Kids.

More post hoc ergo propter hoc. I know of many counter examples. I can also think of many more likely causes of bad diets and insufficient exercise. For example there are distractions like television and the internet that keep us from physical activity. The widespread availability of cheap, nutritionally void junk food means more people eat it.

Do you know why most adults are self-medicating with alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs? Answer: Because married life sucks and single life sucks just as much.

This presupposes that most adults self medicate, but provides no evidence. And what are the adults self-medicating against anyway? Depression maybe? Whatever the need for self medication, I submit that it could be managed far better through diet, exercise, proper counseling and possibly medication.

It also presupposes that married life both sucks and is necessarily sucky. I don’t think I’m cherry-picking to say there are enough happy, non-sucky marriages out there to disprove the presupposition.

Do you know why so many adults can’t get the training they need for a job? Answer: Marriage and kids. Not enough time or money left over.

It’s starting to look like Mr. Adams is really arguing against having and raising your own kids. Yes, I admit having kids is expensive both in time and money. But again, is that proof of why many adults don’t get training? Nope, it once again ignores many other probable causes. Also many adults that floundered through life don’t even seriously seek out training until they find out they’ll be parents. Now they have a reason to better their employability.

Now look around at your friends over thirty and ask yourself which ones have financial problems. Is it the divorced ones? Yes, it is. Marriage leads to divorce about half the time, which often leads to emotional and financial ruin.

This sounds like it should be a pro-marriage argument. “Stay married, peeps! Don’t double your living expenses!” Also, marriage is a necessary condition for divorce, not a cause. That’s like saying “Half of my tomato plants died, so I’d better not ever plant any again.”

I know people whose parents never mentioned college because they knew they couldn’t pay for it, or they didn’t recognize its value. Why did those kids get screwed? Answer: Marriage. If an organized collective raised kids, all of them would have the same options and information.

That’s not true. Do all public schools teach exactly the same things in the same way? Do police departments treat everybody in every neighborhood the same? Making it an organized collective just means different people make decisions about what to emphasize to the kids.

My best guess is that 75% of kids are damaged by bad parenting.

My best guess is that this statistic is bunk. Damage done by parenting mistakes is more than mitigated by parents trying hard and loving their kids.

Not to mention that it would impossible to design and implement a system that could reliably avoid the bad parenting mistakes.

Here again I am comparing it to some sort of co-op arrangement in which the kids are never the captive victims of a drunken parent, a stupid parent, a violent parent, a mentally disturbed parent, an unreasonable parent, a too-demanding parent, and so on.

Now the kids can be captive to an uncaring, inefficiant, damaging system instead of a parent! One wherein they can not get the close one on one relationship that is possible with a parent. Mr. Adams’ entire article totally ignores all of the positive benefits of having that type of relationship. And he ignores the fact that parents do not have a monopoly on abuse. All of the damaging behaviors mentioned could (and would) exist in the Adams System. In fact, many could be built into the system itself (by mistaken design or faulty implementation) and the child would have no advocate to protect them.

How about terrorism? That’s mostly a marriage problem in the Middle East. In this case, the powerful Muslim men marry multiple women and there are no other religion-approved outlets for male sexuality. That creates millions of young male zombies willing to die for a chance to get laid in heaven. Literally. That’s their best option.

That is ridiculous. Yet more post hoc ergo propter hoc. Do other religions that require celibacy have a terrorist issue? Do a lot of catholic priests blow themselves up? Do a lot of Mormon missionaries commit mass murders? Do you see a lot of Buddhist monks signing up in violent extremist organizations?

Even if ‘marriage’ is a compounding issue, terrorism is nowhere near “mostly a marriage problem.” Treating the actual causes would be far more effective.

I swear if a young man (and his friends and neighbors) had ready access to food, running water, air conditioning, safe (bomb-less) neighborhoods, productive work, a large screen TV, and a set of Arrested Development DVDs, he would not have a reason to turn to terrorism.

Those two are still with the kids, one text message after another. I call this situation dating a cyborg, because the person and the phone are one. How can you fix it?

Is that really how most people date? I don’t think that’s a fair assessment at all. When my wife and I leave kids with a sitter we have phones and almost never get nor send even one text message. So how do you fix it? I guess breaking your addiction to technology is right out?

Get rid of marriage. Marriage caused the family unit and then caused the broken family unit with no support.

Once again, marriage is a necessary condition for a broken family, not a cause. Also, removing the institution of family would then give kids many of the same issues that they get from a broken family.

Climate change? Totally a marriage problem. Marriage causes single family homes with too many cars, long commutes, and about 5X the wastefulness of a better-designed system.

This presupposes that suddenly people wouldn’t want space or a yard if they weren’t in a family. And that they would be more willing to share vehicles. And that they would obviously generate less waste. I do not believe these presuppositions have validity.

In my view – and I mean this literally, not satirically – marriage is the biggest contributor to mental health problems, crime, poverty, drug abuse, climate change, terrorism, violence, rape, incest, poor health, and ignorance. But you have been brainwashed to not see it.

In my view – and I mean this seriously, not in jest – the breakdown of marriage and the family is the biggest contributor to mental health problems, crime, poverty, drug abuse, climate change, terrorism, violence, rape, incest, poor health, and ignorance.

Anytime you weaken families, i.e. take responsibility away from parents and give kids to some bizarre bureaucracy, you cripple a child’s ability to succeed. You also cripple the parents’ growth.

No family is perfect, but family is the ideal vehicle for both parents and children to succeed, grow, and find fulfillment.

I know I have only mentioned a few of the benefits of family life. Maybe that’ll be a topic for another day.

Note on Mr. Adams’ note: I am VERY ANGRY about his article and Scott is an idiot. 😉

Also, the next day he posted something that essentially said, “If you disagree with me, then your brain isn’t functioning right.”

What to Give When The Invitation Says “No Gifts Please”

Dear Friend and/or Loved One, I know the invitation said, “No Gifts, Please!!” This is not a gift. You will know why in a moment. This quarter was new back in 1976. It was minted in Denver, after which it was machined-packaged and shipped to a bank in Ada, Oklahoma. The bank was destroyed by […]