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For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

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Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 Lines in the Sand (All Parts of Three)

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Number of posts : 1287
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PostSubject: Lines in the Sand (All Parts of Three)   June 7th 2012, 3:25 pm

A Fight for Recognition
Story Nine: Part One
Lines in the Sand

Phone Calls are Not Fun
Captain DeStran rolled in his bed to have his hand drop on top of the cell phone. The intent of a finger was to accept the call, but it punched the wrong buttons. When the phone rang again, he had his eyes directing his finger to push the right button.

“Morning, Sir.”

“Morning, Captain. We got a report that you were busy last night.”

Understanding that this was going to be a long conversation, Captain DeStran moved to sit on the edge of the bed. He did not smoke, but he did drink. He however eyeballed the liquor feeling that it was the wrong stuff to begin the day. He reached with a hand to grab some shorts as he began his debriefing.

“Yes, General. I worked with Minnow this time. Some men decided to rob a bank. When one stepped out the back to take a smoke, the superhero dropped from the sky and took him out. Realizing that they were a man short, the criminals became desperate, which led to them becoming stupid. The Minnow might not speak, but he can hear, and worked with me and the police to resolve the situation.”

“Do you have any idea about his technology?”

Hoping that the one on the phone would consider the pause to be him thinking over his answer, Captain DeStran put on his shorts. Pulling coins from a pocket, then eyeing what was on the little table beside his bed, he felt that he had enough to start his day. Before moving to the door, he picked up the phone to finally answer the question.

“None, General. I can say that those machines are neat. They are built of some rather substantial metal, but fly around lighter than a feather and carry some useful tools. Between Batman’s utility belt and those machines, I would much rather have those machines.”

“We would like those machines as well.”

He grabbed his room key before walking outside. “Probably not, General.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, they are good machines, let me agree on that, but what puzzles me is how they operate. When things got desperate, I saw Minnow a couple of times simply move the machines out of the way. This guy had practiced with them, and he still considered them annoying at times. I got the impression that there were still some issues with them.”

Captain DeStran banged on the soft drink machine to assure that it would have no issue with him. He wanted something that would have him feel that he was properly preparing his body for the day, but also desired something to kick him into action. Luckily, the kindly soft drink people had developed citrus flavored drinks that were loaded with caffeine.

The General said, “We could help the Minnow with his research.”

“I don’t think that he needs your help. They perform within the necessary parameters.” Captain DeStran paused to send some cold refreshment down his throat while heading back to his room. “I just cannot imagine that he does not have greater plans for them.”

“I have a number of people in my office right now that would like to make greater use of them.”

Captain DeStran considered walking outside and buying another soft drink as he guzzled the last ounces of the bottle. The sugar and chemicals however did satisfy and helped him to become alert, and he felt such was enough at the moment. After the phone call, he would go get a decent breakfast.

“He is right here in Knoxville. Oak Ridge is not that far away. Hell, he has a major amusement park not that far away. He has more options for development around him besides the government.”

“You would think that he would want to help his government.”

Having his own rebellious side, Captain DeStran did not take those words in a positive manner. “He has done nothing to work against the government. I just said that he worked with me and the police last night. He listened to our orders and even obeyed them.” Hoping to stress the importance of his words, Captain DeStran emphasized, “Something I am on record as not always doing.”

Another voice now came over the speaker, “Captain, surely the Minnow does not intend to live his life as a superhero.”

“What you are suggesting, whoever you are, is that I need to speak to the Minnow. Well, I have spoken to him, and he listened. What has not happened is him speaking to me. There has been an exchange of words with Ballet Slipper, whose technology I believe you might also want, but nothing about motivation and such. That is something that I hope to do, but I have not yet gained that objective.”

The General now again spoke to ask, “What is your time-line on gaining that objective?”

“All I can say, General, is that I am working on it. They have to have real identities – identities that are making money. Neither superhero is asking for reward money, royalties, or a paycheck. That means that they have a source of income.”

The other voice said, “You are checking the R&D division of companies.”

“No. No company that I know of would allow their technology to be used in such fashions. Also, neither superhero goes around with logos on their uniform. These are private citizens. Somehow they came up with these technologies on their own and have developed them to the point they have on their own. They are also not looking for funding, so have plans on further developments on their own. Their work however cannot happen in a void, so I am looking for those places where these individuals can gain their support.”

“They both tend to operate around the college campus.”

Captain Destran really felt a desire to know who the other voice was, but trusted the General to have authorized his participation in the conversation. “But they are not limited to the campus. The bank robbery last night was a few miles from the campus. I agree that the campus seems like a possible base, but only due to the ages of the superheroes. The college is not a source of funds, at least not one that they would not be eager to promote. There has to be something off campus.”

“Remember Occram’s Razor, Captain.”

Not wanting to be thought of as stupid, he returned, “I also know that the best place for hiding things is beneath peoples’ noses. I have to be looking in the right places, as this town is not that big. Between the university, the city, the industry, the government installations, and everything else, this town is however quite complex. Not wanting to toss out the possible baby with the bathwater, I am not discounting anything. Give me time, and I will make contact. It is even possible that I made contact already. The Minnow did seem to recognize me.”

The General asked, “Captain, how are the others placed under your command doing?”

Captain DeStran was not one for organizations. His orders did include working with a team already assigned and put in place, but he really was not in charge of them. He had a commanding presence in the chain of command, but they actually reported to another that was more organizational in mentality.

“They are focusing on the more traditional avenues of research and funding. That allows me to continue my own paths of thought. If you speak to them, you should learn of certain wagers and how to place your own bets.”

The other voice said, “Captain DeStran, we really do not want these technologies to fall into the wrong hands.”

“You what?” Anger entered the man’s voice as he declared, “Listen, these are Americans doing what Americans do best – kick butt. They are doing it in their own way, but God bless them. I have seen both Ballet Slipper and Minnow in action, and let me say that they make me proud of fighting for their freedom to do what they do.”

“But who knows in whose hands their technology will end up.”

“What? We most certainly do know in whose hands their technology will end up – in their own hands! They are not asking the government, the military, or any established big-business for funding. They are doing it on their own. They are developing it as they see fit. When their technology is released, it will have their names upon it. If you, and I mean my government, is not willing to step up and meet their price, then it will be you, and I mean my government, that allowed it to fall into the wrong hands.”

Before the man could say more, Captain DeStran kept talking. He was mad now, as he felt that he had figured out some things. Unafraid of what reprimand might be issued, he spoke loud and strong.

“What you are wanting is the technology cheap and not yet developed along what you consider are unacceptable paths. Well, sorry. These people are seeing their technology used in the manner that they decide, using their God-given freedoms that my country supports. I can tell you now that when they are ready to allow others to gain their technology, they will not let it go cheaply.”

In a tense, although soft, tone, the voice replied, “All that we want is a heads-up on what could be a potential problem.”

“These are not potential problems for the government. I swore an oath to protect the Constitution, and I can promise you that they are not threatening it. That thus makes it my duty to assure that these people are not being threatened by others.”

“Uh, Captain, I do have the authority to remove you from your assignment.”

Before Captain DeStran could reply, the general did for him. “The captain has been assured that this is his last mission for his government. Should he be relieved, he will be retired.”

Captain DeStran felt a need to reinforce those words. “And Knoxville does not seem like that bad of a place to call home.”

The voice said, “I see. Well, Captain, at the moment I must ask you to continue your fine service to your government. Thank you for your time.”

Captain DeStran ended the call wondering if he should go get another soft drink. Whoever the general had in the room with him had spoiled his appetite.

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.

Last edited by TerishD on June 17th 2012, 5:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Part Two   June 12th 2012, 4:46 pm

A Fight for Recognition
Story Nine: Part Two
Lines in the Sand

Two Visitors
I went outside the front door of the science building to wait on Mrs. Lorshein. There was nothing unusual in the action, as I would do it whenever I knew she was coming. She really was not in bad physical shape. Bullets had broken her spinal cord making her parapylegic, but she was otherwise in a healthy body. There was nothing special about meeting Mrs. Lorshein outside, although I suspected that she might think there was.

As expected, she began talking as soon as I opened the door to the van. “Now, Larry, I am actually in favor of your plan, but I doubt that you have truly thought this through.”

The nurse for her brought out her wheelchair as I replied, “What is there to think through? If you are in favor then it is time to start thinking. I am not saying that there are not things to think about, or that I have it already figured out. I merely proposed the stunt.”

I lifted her with a grunt as I again realized that she was larger than me. I never met her until my high school days when her husband and I began chasing a science oddity. Puberty however did not give me the height that many of my peers gained. Both members of the couple had been larger than me. In being unable to use her legs, Mrs. Lorshein became someone that I looked down to see her face, but things like picking her up reminded me that she was still great in many ways.

She settled into her wheelchair while asking, “What does Professor Nathan say about this stunt?”

“He thinks Germany is a bad idea. He says that Los Angeles would be a better choice of destinations.”

“And your response?”

“That there is no difference in Los Angeles and Germany. One is a short trip there, and a long trip back. The other is a long trip initially.”

The nurse brought the two large pizzas. She was informed to be back in a couple of hours if not called to be back sooner. Once the lady climbed back in the van, I pushed Mrs. Lorshein into the building as she returned to our conversation.

“If that is the only counter that Professor Jackson brings up, I will support you, Larry.”

“Thanks. I mean, I thought that was what Mr. Lorshein and I agreed to.”

We both turned as a voice blurted out behind us, “Whoa! Pizza.”

“Hey, Sir Soldier,” I said. “Mrs. Lorshein, this is Captain DeStran of our exceptional Marine Corp. Sir Soldier, this is a good friend of mine, Mrs. Anita Lorshein.”

Being in a wheelchair, she could do not much but speak graciously. “If you like pizza, Captain DeStran, you are welcome, but Larry and Professor Jackson do usually finish it.”

The military officer walked up while turning to look to see if others were about. It was late in the day, so most classes for the day had long finished. Seeing that we were alone, he said something that I was glad that he kept private.

“Mrs. Lorshein, I am glad to meet you. I was looking for a missing piece in the puzzle.”

She asked, “And what puzzle is that, Captain?”

“Larry here did not have class the other day when we had that plane robbery. I suddenly began thinking that he was the Minnow.”

“He is, Captain DeStran. Now, do you still want pizza?”

I just began pushing Mrs. Lorshein to the elevator. Sir Soldier stayed in place as if shocked. It was not until the door was closing that he ran up, stuck his hands in the door to have it open up, then stepped in with us. As the elevator door closed, he finally spoke.

“That’s it? No denial?”

I said, “Nope. Sorry, but if you want me to suddenly jump into uniform, can’t. Also, I won’t walk around all quiet like the Minnow either. All that I will do is admit that I am the superhero – between bites of pizza, of course.”

“Can’t? Why not?”

“Uniform not here, and the wings need recharging. However, I do have Minnow things to talk about. Hope that it keeps you happy.”

The elevator doors opened. Captain DeStran stepped out then looked about as if worried that someone might be present to overhear us. The way he signaled for us to exit further supported that opinion. As we left the elevator, he finally asked his next question.

“You aren’t protecting your secret identity?”

It was Mrs. Lorshein that answered, “I have been trying to get Larry to reveal himself for some time. The topic that we were meeting to discuss tonight is in fact concerning Larry’s plan to open up to his girlfriend and her family.”

“Yes, Miss Serkovorga. I meant to ask about her.”

I replied to that. “She does not know. She will, in time, but as of right now she has not been told.”

We entered the lab. Professor Jackson began adjusting banners seeing Sir Soldier walk into the room. Mrs. Lorshein and I however told him that the military officer had figured some things out. As Professor Jackson heard us speak, he again made some calculations that he had written on the chalk board easily visible. Sir Soldier moved to where he could see the equations and some diagrams, then spoke as if amazed.

“You were really going to discuss Minnow stuff.”

I laughed before saying, “Yes. You really did not believe us, did you?”

“No. I mean, you really do not fit the criteria we had established for the Minnow.” He pointed to what Professor Jackson had on the board as he asked, “You going into space?”

The stately black faculty member answered, “Well, that is Larry’s ultimate goal. Right now he just wants to take his technology into space. His girlfriend’s parents are in Germany. Larry thus wants to go there via space.”

“What about reentry heat?”

I supplied the answer to that one. “I don’t travel fast enough for reentry heat. I am not some large object hurtling down. Plus, outer space is not that far away. One hundred miles is good, and I can do that in about an hour. An hour or so up, an hour or so down, and I am in Germany.”

Professor Jackson countered, “It’s not that simple, Larry. You still have lateral distance.”

I mentioned the rotation of the planet, and that set the two of us off on our calculations. He already had set his argument on the board, so I began marking it up as I stated my own proposal. Mrs. Lorshein piped up when our discussion became too obscure or we started being a little crude with each other. It took some time, but eventually we worked out the plans for a proposed journey along with the calculations stating most of the necessary facts.

As we both went to finish the pizza, Captain DeStran asked, “Will the Minnow suit work in outer space?”

Mrs. Lorshein replied, “It will work in outer space, but it will not keep Larry alive. That is the reason for my presence. Larry wants to build a spacesuit.”

“And a new wing,” I added.

Professor Jackson expressed surprised, although his tone of voice stayed even and subdued. “I would be interested in building one of your wings.”

Mrs. Lorshein said, “I really do not know about acquiring a spacesuit, Larry, but I will look into it.”

Captain DeStran began to comment, “I can help…” when he was cut off by another voice.

“No, Captain DeStran, you cannot. Your government is watching you very closely. Consider it a compliment, as they really did expect you to succeed at this mission.”

None of us said anything. We only turned to look. Seeing an elderly Asian man surprised me, as I could not imagine him as being with the military or the government. He was dressed in nice clothes, but not in anything that could be considered a uniform or proper suit. As if reading our minds, the man walked in as he spoke.

“I am the Wisdom of the Ages. I do not know the present, and certainly not the future. However, I am very aware of the past. All of you have very interesting pasts, and I am here because I feel that I would be best served to experience the future with you.”

Captain DeStran said, “Another superhero?”

“With the same problem as those already present. Should you learn who I am, it will serve you little concerning facts of who I should be. You have learned things this evening, Captain DeStran, but the facts that you have gained actually tell you little of the stories that you might one day learn.”

“Really? So surprise me.”

“No. Yes. That man you and Larry captured some time ago, a Butch Mesaba, has escaped from prison. His eye is really an easy device to sneak into prison. He has come to campus to cause some mischief. One reason was that he spotted Captain DeStran heading this way. The other is that he hopes to enact some revenge on the Minnow as well by striking at the college.”

Screams suddenly sounded, to which the Asian man said, “Like I said, I do not know the future or present, but only the past. Thus, the events I spoke of had already happened.”

I ran to the door, but stopped when Captain DeStran asked, “You going to change into your uniform?”

“No. I can’t. It’s not here.”

“Couldn’t one of your… wings? bring it?”

Hearing another scream, I felt like just moving on, but went ahead and supplied some information. “They need recharging. One problem with my technology is that it only works with high-energy particles. That is great for getting it to perform, but really sucks to generate the energy waves necessary. Still, I don’t need to be in uniform to help people.”

“That guy, Mr. Mesaba, is dangerous.”

“He is still just one man with a laser. I could grab a couple of lasers, but I know their limitations. Come on, we can take him.” I then looked at the Marine officer and remarked, “I would think that uniform you are wearing to make you man enough.”

“All right, don’t get rude. It doesn’t make me man enough. It states that I am man enough. Come on.”

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Part Three   June 17th 2012, 5:38 pm

A Fight for Recognition
Story Nine: Part Three
Lines in the Sand

As I took the stairs, unwilling to wait for the elevator, Captain DeStran asked, “Should we grab mirrors?”


“Yes. You know, to reflect the laser.”

I stopped. One reason was simply because I had come to first floor landing and needed to open a door. The other reason was to clearly answer the question. I thus waited for Sir Soldier to stop before speaking.

“It’s in his eye. He can move that thing as fast as our eyes can dart from one lady to another. You took the pain to bring the pain back on Mr. Mesaba the last time you two met. Best tactic I know.”

“Those burns left scars. I did not appreciate that.”

I glared at the Marine as I stated something that I did not appreciate. “I wanted to study that eye laser, but your government classified it. All I thus know is that it produced burns. It did not hurt my wing, although I know that it did burn through the parachute, although not as quickly as Mr. Mesaba probably hoped. Professor Jackson and I worked some things out, but we really had no facts to go on.”

He held his composure as he replied, “If you would have asked, I would have gotten you the data.”

“Oh? So how about you bringing me up to date on that laser?”

“Well, honestly, I haven’t seen the report yet.”

I smiled at that response, then turned to head back outside. Mrs. Lorshein did have some connections, and she had mentioned that the military officer probably had not yet seen the report on the man with the laser eye. I did not want to rub in the facts of Captain DeStran facing more pain due to bureaucracy, as I faced the same problems with my relationship with the government. Hearing another scream of pain, I accepted needing to take out the bad guy was the only response we presently had available to us.

Stepping outside, I quickly determined that the source of trouble was near the student union building. That was down the hill, although really not that far away. The terrain of the Knoxville University was very hilly with what was called ‘the hill’ being on a rather steep lifting of land. I assumed that Captain DeStran was in shape, so simply told him to follow as I raced in the direction of the screams.

The expansive walkway next to the student union solved a couple of problems. The first was that it provided level ground between the hill of the original campus and some of the older dorms. The second was that it provided a large place for activities and gatherings. Whether Mr. Mesaba just got lucky, or knew about the campus, going to the walkway solved his problems of finding victims for his attacks.

“Dude, don’t go. Some idiot is over there using a laser.”

I looked to see some guys huddling around a tree. They looked like frat rats to me with their collared tee-shirts and slacks. Boldly speaking to put the Greeks in their place, I pointed to have them look to see who I had with me.

“This Marine might not know the campus too well, but he knows how to take and deliver pain.”

One of the other guys said, “Wish you luck, Sir.”

I was proud of Sir Soldier as he simply told me to head on. I noted the cement railings that we could use for protection. He pointed out where others were cowering, then used a scream to locate the adversary. It was dark. While there were lights, the walkway had tall dividers that were used for various purposes that created numerous dark areas. Sir Soldier moved up, then dropped to hide behind a railing before asking me a question about our next move.

“What would the Minnow do?”

“He would be coming in from above.”

“Help me up.”

I looked to a nearby concrete wall, then pointed out the gap between it and another cross-walkway with the dividers. Sir Soldier nodded when I signaled for him to move down to the other side of the gap and climb up without having to make a dangerous jump. We heard what we assumed was our bad guy issuing statements of his superiority as I helped the Marine up a divider where he could gain height.

Once he was getting his balance above, I moved to where somebody had placed a card-stock poster of some campus event. After pulling it off, I moved forward holding it before me. I just smiled at the man standing out in the open as the card-stock burst into flame.

“That eye does not give you that much focus, does it? It is a powerful beam, but probably is not that effective past twenty, thirty yards.”

“Yeah, tough guy, feel its effectiveness.”

I believe that I did feel some heat on my clothes, but Sir Soldier took that moment to descend upon the man. With him being in the open, it took a jump to make contact. The Marine managed the distance to make contact, but not having a vertical drop meant that the bad guy was only knocked back and not down.

Another poster was grabbed by me before rushing the man with the laser eye. I saw in his features what I had hoped. He knew firing his laser at me would only burn the cardboard, so would not hurt me. As he attempted to figure out how to handle the threat that I represented, the other danger to him rushed forward.

I really do not know how the man took the hits from Sir Soldier’s fists. The guy was a lean, mean, fighting machine. The guy with the laser eye however stayed standing. I recognized that such was not good for Sir Soldier, as the power from the eye could do damage. Not really having any more good ideas, I trusted that the bad guy had his focus on the Marine. I thus moved down and behind to enable more to happen to a strike from the fist than another bruise.

Whether he smiled or not I could not say. I did notice his feet go into a stance to prepare him to deliver another blow. As expected, our adversary tried to step back in preparation of taking the damage. I smiled, whether Sir Soldier did or not, when I felt someone fall back over my hunched form.

I did not get up, but crawled around to place the poster that I had grabbed over our opponent’s face as I declared, “Go ahead and use your eye. Burn your face off and see if we care.”

Sir Soldier moved to sit on the man. The Marine sought to grab his hands while telling me to keep the poster on his face. I had to move in order not to interfere with what Sir Soldier was doing, but I made certain that my actions did not displace the barrier protecting him.

I heard him say, “Well done, Larry,” as the sounds of police made themselves known.

Sir Soldier identified himself and me along with providing the information that we had subdued the bad guy. A mass of police in full protective suits and pointing weapons rushed forward to surround us. When I stressed the importance of the poster over the man’s face, one of the cops put away his weapon before kneeling down and telling me that he would take over.

The police soon had a black bag over Butch Mesaba’s head. One of them got our story, along with asking for a written report. Sir Soldier promised that such would be done, then commented to me that I had more homework. I informed the policeman that the Marine and I would return to the hill and do our reports while finishing our science discussion.

I noticed that a van was parked in front of the science building, so was not surprised to hear a woman’s voice ask, “All went well, Larry?”

“Yes, Mrs. Lorshein, all went well.”

“Let Captain DeStran know that he is invited to my house this weekend.”

I had nothing against Sir Soldier, but I knew that Mrs. Lorshein would turn things to her advantage. “Now, Mrs. Lorshein, I will have Cindy with me, and I am not yet ready to tell her anything.”

“Captain DeStran should be able to speak about other things. We manage our little exchanges, and the captain should be able to do so as well.”

I knew that she expected the matter settled, so replied, “Yes ma’am.”

She knew my tone of voice, so in a very stern manner she stated, “Larry.”

“Yes ma’am.”

I felt good when she changed her focus. “Captain DeStran, Larry can tell you where I live and when to show up. I would like to have your presence.”

“I am honored. Thank you.”

As the van drove away, Sir Soldier made an inquiry. “I assume that there is food.”

“Usually steak and potatoes. How it is cooked depends on the weather.”

“How about kebabs?”

I really did not know how to take that question, so simply tried a humorous reply. “I’m going to tell Mrs. Lorshein that you don’t trust my cooking.”

“You do that and I will just agree with you.”

Those words caused me to chuckle before I replied, “You might fit in.” Moving into the science building I asked, “Do you have a girlfriend?”

“No, but I am facing retirement. I am thus looking for someone to settle down with.”

The Asian man was standing in the hallway, and said upon seeing us, “The original item Butch Mesaba was going after has importance. He lost prestige in losing it, but it was not his plan that needed it. Thus, keep watching details of that cloth. Should I be able to gain further information on how it relates to other past events, I will inform one or both of you.”

Sir Soldier asked the man, “And how can we contact you?”

“Believe it or not, but I am with the military as well. Just tell your superiors that you have a message for Wisdom of the Ages, and they will actually find themselves able to forward it.”

I watched as the Asian man left, then grumbled a curse word as I approached the elevator, which caused Sir Soldier to ask, “What do you have against the military?”

“Nothing. I am all for you guys fighting to keep America free and all, but that means you should let us be free. I ain’t doing nothing that should concern you, so you should just leave me, and the rest of us Americans, alone.”

“Sorry, Larry, but we are supposed to protect our country from all threats, foreign and domestic. We thus have a responsibility to assure that you are not a domestic threat.” When I said nothing in return, he added, “Some of the worst sons-a-bitches are Americans.”

I had to admit, “I can believe that one. You will just be meeting Mrs. Lorshein this weekend. Wait until you meet my actual family.”

Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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