Back to normal

That rant that you wrote was a hit -
For a weekend you felt like hot shit!
But the crowds are all gone
'cause the Net has moved on,
It was fun, now get over it.

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What does a viral hit look like?

So... what does a viral hit look like?

On Thursday, I posted a little rant, "11 Ways You Can Stop Pissing Me Off On Twitter". I intended it to be shocking yet funny, a mixture of over-the-top explosion with a message.

Each of the 11 Ways not only described what the objectionable action was, but clearly stated why I thought they were bad, and also (and this is important) offered specific suggestions on alternative behaviors that would improve the Twitter experience.

Improve it in my eyes, that is, but I'm not that different than anyone else as an interlocutor.

I posted it Thursday afternoon and tweeted the link. I was amazed at the response. So pleased and amazed that I tweeted the link once again on Friday morning.

That's when things took a turn upwards.

The scale on that image is dramatically skewed by the hits from the last two days. I usually get ~30 hits a day, a level I'm reasonably pleased with. Yesterday was more like 800 hits. By noon, "11 Things" had surpassed the previous champ, "Ode To The Semicolon" in terms of page hits. By the end of the day, it had doubled that previous record.

I've done popular things before, but this is the first one that's escaped into the wild and led to this kind of a response. I don't know if there's a formal definition of "viral", but this hitcount is an order of magnitude over and above that for any other single post, besting a year's worth of hits in less than hours; from my perspective, that's pretty viral.


UPDATE, 8/29/10: I was assuming that this thing had run its course, but between yesterday and today, that rant got another ~500 hits, which would have topped the Ode all by itself. Assuming weekend traffic is lighter than weekday traffic, I can only wonder what this week will bring.

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#FridayFlash: Long Story

Long Story

by Tony Noland

Scooter threw the bundle out the window, watched it disappear into the night. He tried to listen for the thud, but the whipping wind was too loud. How far? Dammit, how far? He pulled on his end, trying to feel if it was slapping against the ground below. Between the weight of the tape and the wind, he couldn't tell.

Ten rolls of cheap duct tape, each brand new, thank God. Each roll was two inches by 60 yards. He didn't think he lost much length when he twisted the tape all together to make this rope.

The pounding on the door was getting louder. There were more of them out there now. The wood was holding so far, but if they started to pound in a rhythm, the broom handles would break under the strain. He wished he'd thought to use some of the tape to wrap them into a single rod; it would surely have been stronger than four individual broom handles.

Too late for that now, though. He didn't dare take them out of the barricade to re-secure it.

He looked out the window again. How far?

He had about 180 feet of improvised rope, minus what it took to tie it to the drain pipe in the corner and to cross the room. The supply room was about fifteen feet long from the pipe to the window. He was on the 14th floor. If a story was ten feet, he was 140 feet up. That meant a short drop at the end of the rope, but nothing serious. If this building used long stories, though, each one was fifteen feet, and he was more than 200 feet up. A drop of 40 feet was too much. Way too much.

Fists slammed into the door, beginning to merge into a coherent thudding, dead flesh pounding at the yellow pine.

He lifted himself out the window, holding onto the sticky mass of the twisted strands. The wind cut at his arms as he eased himself out.

Eleven years ago, his car broke down out on Route 41. In a stroke of luck, his brother-in-law Marshall drove by after only a half-hour. Neither of them had a tow rope, but Marshall had a roll of duct tape, the same cheap stuff Scooter found in that box on the bottom shelf. Marshall swore he could do anything with duct tape, and in ten minutes he'd twisted up a piece of tape-rope, eighteen feet long. They'd tied the cars together and started off slow.

The tape-rope lasted less than a minute, snapped with the first hard jerk. It had been eighteen strands thick.

Boom, boom, boom - the door shook with each crashing blow of all those fists.

I weigh a lot less than a car, Scooter said to himself, eyes closed. I weigh a lot less than a car.


He opened his eyes and lowered himself out. Hand over sticky hand, he moved down into the darkness.

Don't look down. Don't look down. Just don't look down. Don't look down.

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11 Ways You Can Stop Pissing Me Off On Twitter

We're all human, and we all make mistakes. (Except for me, because I'm not and I don't, but that's next week's blog post.) I know you didn't mean to piss me off on Twitter. I'm sure that pissing me off was the LAST thing on your mind.

Nevertheless, you did.

I'm a patient and tolerant guy. I let a lot of things slide without getting upset by them. It's only when people habitually make the same gaffs, faux pas, breaches of etiquette, etc. that I want to shake them like somebody else's 2-year-old and get them to knock it off.

So, as a public service, for your benefit and for the sake of my own blood pressure, here are 11 Ways You Can Stop Pissing Me Off On Twitter (which you can also regard as some simple rules for building your follower list or establishing a brand or whatever the hell else you want them to be, so long as you implement them):

11. Shut The Fuck Up About Your Cats I followed you because I thought you'd have some interesting, informative or amusing things to say. Instead it's a constant stream of "Oooh, Mr. Fluffykins' litter box stinks!" or "Meow Tse Tung just walked on my keyboard LOL" or "Sparky is sitting in front of me." Shut up about them already!

What you can do instead Show some restraint! It's fine to make an occasional banal observation about your cats, your kids, your spouse or any other living being in whom you have an emotional investment. That tells me you're human. If you do more than one of them a day, though, what does that tell me? THAT YOU ARE BORING.

10. Learn How Twitter Works There are a bajillion blog posts out there devoted to how to use Twitter. GO READ SOME. Unless you're a newbie, you shouldn't be making annoying newbie gaffs, like RTing one of my tweets, but doing it as an @ reply. That means that the only people who will see your RT are me and you. I appreciate the RT, but it would be nicer if you hadn't screwed it up.

What you can do instead You can pay attention. You can learn. You can invest 20 goddamn minutes in getting better.

9. Change Your Background Picture God in heaven, you have 12,000 tweets, but still have the default green-bamboo-on-brown-background on your Twitter page? Even one of those tacky "" pictures would be better than that! What does this tell me? It tells me that you don't think much about your appearance. You probably have soup stains on your shirt, too.

What you can do instead This would be a PERFECT place for pictures of those damned cats. Or of the sunset that convinced you that it was possible for you to be a writer. Or of anything you like or find interesting or inspiring. This is YOUR page... personalize it!

8. Act Like A Human Being A lot of big names are on Twitter because their publicists told them it would be a good idea. They don't need to interact because people will follow them anyway (I'm looking at you, @BarackObama). Their tweets are a one-way street. Send them a reply or a DM, you know what you get? Nothing.

What you can do instead Interact! Engage! Answer replies, get involved in discussions, be present. Look at how @SusanOrlean does it, and do that. Hell, I get more interaction from @StephenFry and @KarlRove than I do from some agents I follow.

7. Save The Knives For DM Guess what? If you are having a spat with someone on Twitter, it's like arguing on a street corner. I. Don't. Care.

What you can do instead If this is between you two, keep it between you two. Your argument shouldn't be an occasion for public spectacle. Unless you both LIKE the attention you get from arguing in public, in which case you are a couple of sad puppies who wouldn't listen to advice from me anyway.

6. "Americans Suck"/"Americans Are Stupid" Oh sweet Jesus, don't get me started on this one. You know what? Yes, we do, on occasion, suck. And so do you, for an imperfectly overlapping suite of similar reasons. We are also, on occasion, a noble and gifted people whose ideals of liberty and ethos of personal freedom coupled with personal responsibility are an example to the rest of the world. I can't generalize about you or what kind of sterling qualities of goodness might be resident within your soul, but at least I know you like your cats a lot.

What you can do instead Be polite. Go look that word up if you have to.

5. Be Committed To Your Own Strangeness I find it weird when an author sets up a Twitter account so they can tweet as the main character in their novel, or as a time-traveler bouncing around from one historical period to the next. Weird, but not necessarily bad. Where this falls apart is when you break character to make an appeal for Haiti, or for prayers for your neighbor's mother, or whatever.

What you can do instead If you're going to play a role, is it too much to ask that you stay in character? This was your idea, after all.

4. You're Always So Fucking Upbeat "Hey, Tony", you might be saying, "what's wrong with being a happy person?" And I say, nothing. I'm glad you're so happy and cheerful. But you know what? Normal people have good days and bad days. If you're a uniformly happy person ALL THE TIME, I'm going to conclude that, in addition to being annoying as hell, you must be heavily medicated.

What you can do instead First off, send me a case of whatever you're on, or the name of a trustworthy supplier in the Philadelphia area. Failing that, just relax and be yourself. Let us see the clouds as well as the sunshine. We'll love you all the more for it.

3. You're Always So Fucking Depressed Look, if you can't see for yourself what's wrong with this, then it's going to take a lot more to help you than a list of 11 Things.

What you can do instead Cancel your Twitter account and go get some therapy. And try to get in touch with Mr. Happy up at #4 and see if he can hook you up.

2. You Make It Hard For Me To Promote You I am a sweet, generous, supportive guy who likes to promote and foster the success of others. I love you. You, yes, YOU! I followed you because I wanted to hear what you have to say. If you tweet something brilliant, funny, informative, insightful, etc., I want to pass that on so others can learn from you the way I have. So why you gotta make it so damned hard for me to RT you, huh? You've got a Twitter name that's 35 characters long! Even if I don't want to preface the RT with a mini-comment like "This!" or "Interesting" or "o.O", by the time I set aside 3 characters for "RT ", I don't have the space for your tweet.

What you can do instead If you write a tweet that you think (or hope) others might want to RT, make it easy for them. Here's a formula for you to use: GoodTweetLength = 140 - (chars in your username) - 3

1. Stop Pretending To Be On Twitter When You Aren't Really On Twitter I'm not a goddamn moron, OK? When I see that every single one of your tweets is an "informative link" posted via SocialOomph, you know what conclusion I draw? That back in February, you spent a day or two loading up your new SocialOomph account with tweets and links, then programmed it to spew out at a rate of 10 per day. You've turned yourself into a goddamn bot!

What you can do instead Have some self respect! I use SocialOomph myself occasionally, it's a great tool, but it's not intended as the Alpha and Omega of tweeting, you know? Do you really want to be such a cold, calculating drone that you turn your back on the opportunity to use this amazing social network to actually be social? Log on once in a while, interact, engage. You've got lots of followers, but don't you want any friends?

And that's it. Do these 11 things and you will not only stop pissing me off on Twitter, you will be a kinder, wiser, better person. Remember, all of this is not about me... it's about you. If you know anyone who could benefit from reading these feel free to forward them the link:

Two final notes:

1) Sure, I could just un-follow you if I find you annoying. Believe me, I do un-follow people. But you? I like you and I want you to be a better person.

2) The other method of RT'ing, although it preserves the original tweet in toto, does not allow for any editorial commenting or prefacing as I described above. If you want to use it, fine. Don't bug me about it.

Like it? Tweet it!

UPDATE: Do you know someone who needs to see these for the information content and/or humor value, but you just don't feel comfortable forwarding a profanity-laced rant to your boss/pastor/Mom? Send them the G-rated version instead! It's completely S.E.S. (Sensitive Ear Safe)! No more fucks and damns, no more hells, no more blaspheming! It's like the airplane-sanitized PG-rated version of an R-rated movie!

I am the Prince of Tides

My motivation to write is at a remarkably low ebb. The weather is lousy, I feel like crap, everything I've written in the last week sounds shallow and formulaic , there's no inspiration to be had.

Mari Juniper is running a birthday giveaway blog post. Go post, and try to be funnier than I was.

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Fear not

Annie Evett writes today about the fear surrounding writing. Interesting thoughts.

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How am I feeling today?

Feeling like an aimless, no-talent hack, actually. This isn't even worth a blog post, but I thought I might mention it anyway.

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SpokenSunday: Megalo-Man vs. Dr. Tarantula

A bit of old-time superhero & science fiction:


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Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Fart

Over at John Wiswell's Bathroom Monologues, the submissions in his art challenge have been posted. These include a little piece my yours truly. Pop over to John's site and check out the other entries, they are fantastic! My piece (below) is titled "From Land to Landless". Catchy, eh?

While you're there, read some of John's fiction & blog posts. You'll be glad you did.

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#FridayFlash: Pop


by Tony Noland


I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad,
Buy all the things I never had

I wanna be on the cover of Forbes magazine
Smiling next to Oprah and the Queen

Dennis turned the radio off. "Sean," he said, "if I hear that song one more time I'm going to put a bullet in your brain."

"Don't be an ass."

"I'm just giving you fair warning."

Sean lowered his magazine. "And how am I responsible for what they play on the radio?"

"You picked the station."

"So pick a different station. Just not that goddamn classic rock oldies stuff."

"And what's wrong with classic rock?"

"Oh for Lord's sake, Dennis, you get upset at hearing a pop tune for the third time. What do they play on those classic rock stations but the same damned songs over and over? Their whole playlist is about a hundred songs in daily rotation. You've heard every one of them at least a thousand times."

"And every one is a fantastic song that has stood the test of time. That's why they are classics. It's not like this pop crap, here today and gone tomorrow, bands you've never heard of playing shitty music that is only worth hearing once anyway."

"So you think I wanna be a billionaire is a shitty song?"

"I think it has no redeeming social value."

Sean turned in his seat to face Dennis. "That is the most pompous, fatuous, pseudo-intellectual thing I have ever heard you say."

"Well, I'm sorry you're disturbed by the truth when faced with it."

"And I've heard you talk out of your ass more than any man should have to stand, too, so that's really saying something, Dennis. What the hell does that mean, 'redeeming social value'? Did you hear that phrase on one of your TV talk shows and decide to try it out for yourself?"

"It means, did you even listen to the lyrics of that song? Really listen? Do you even understand what the song is saying?"

"Yeah, he's says he wants to be a billionaire so freaking bad. Unless there's some deep subtext that I'm missing, I'd interpret that to mean that he wants to be a billionaire. It seems pretty straightforward, Dennis."

"No, it's not straightforward. He says he wants to be a billionaire and have everything that goes with it, but in the whole song, he never even says word one about how he's going to get the money. Shit, I want to be a billionaire, too, but I'm working for my money. This guy? He's just sittin' on his ass doin' nothing but saying, 'I want, I want, I want'. What kind of message does that send? Kids today, they listen to that song and they think that all you have to do in life is just want and somebody's gonna give it to you. What does that do to people's work ethics?"

"For Christ's sake, Dennis..."

"I'll tell you what it does, it screws 'em up! All this pop crap, you listen to this for an hour and your brain turns to mush. You start to think the world owes you a living, that whatever you want - money, success, women, happiness, whatever - that whatever you want, the world is just gonna leave at your doorstep tied up in a ribbon, like it was a basket of fruit. You got a whole generation that's gettin' more screwed up every day, and it's because their music convinces them that it's OK to just sit around and do nothing to better themselves, to just want to be a billionaire but not get off their ass, to be caught in a bad romance and not dump the guy, to cling to 'I just haven't met you yet' instead of having a realistic understanding of relationships. Maybe you don't care about what music teaches young people, but I do!"

"And when you were a kid, Dennis, I suppose you wanted to go live in an octopus' garden, right? You wanted to give her every inch of your love, you wanted to come sail away?"

"Screw you, Sean, you are deliberately not understanding me."

"Or did you wish that you had Jesse's girl? Or maybe you just wanted to come on Eileen?"

"This conversation is over."

"Of course it's over, because you're being ridiculous. Pop music is supposed to be new and different, its very nature is to offer the same old universal themes in new ways. Love, sex, money, heartbreak, ambition, cars, whatever - of course there's nothing new in those desires because people are people. The point you aren't getting is that you listen to pop music to be exposed to the unfamiliar, to a new twist on an old story. Because it's new, it makes you think about the music, the lyrics, not just sit back and have it on as background noise to be ignored. Dennis, we've got hours yet before the job; I'm not gonna sit here with the radio off and listen to you breath just because you're an old fart who gets a rash at music you haven't already heard ten thousand times." Sean reached over and pushed the button.

I wanna be a billionaire so freaking bad,
Buy all the things I never had...

He picked up his magazine. Dennis moved his right hand up to his shoulder holster, unstrapped it and rested his palm on the butt of his Glock.

Sean rolled his eyes and changed the station.

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And the winners are...

The contest in celebration of my 100th blog follower, my 1000th tweep and my 10,000th visit was a huge success!

I'm grateful to everyone who re-tweeted about this contest, who Facebooked about it, re-posted about it, and generally made it a lot of fun for me. I've had my ups and downs in writing fiction and in enticing people to read it. It's gratifying to look back and see where I am now as what I can only hope is a very good beginning.

And now, the winners!

In the category of New Blog Follower: jsblyth86

In the category of New Twitter Follower: @MeaganSpooner

In the category of Celebratory Commenter: Susan J. Cross

Each of these three lovely people has won an audio recording, performed by yours truly, of one of their stories. This offer is good for one year from today, so if a winner wants to write something new and special for this, or take some time to polish up an existing piece, no worries, I'll be here. I'm really looking forward to seeing what the winners have for me to record! Thanks to everyone who entered. I'll hold another contest at the next nice, round number of blog followers, or when a book comes out.

And to my three lucky winners, feel free to let me know what you eventually decide to do with the audio files. I'll pimp the links here. Cheers!

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Three Word Wednesday: grimace, phase, stumble

For Three Word Wednesday:

The physicist made a grimace
When he tripped on some tight TorsionSpace,
But his little stumble
Turned into a tumble,
And he cursed when he fell on his phase.

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Best of Friday Flash, now available

Writing stories for #FridayFlash has been a life-changing experience for me. I say that without hyperbole, or as the set-up for a joke of some kind. Thanks to this community of fine folks, their feedback, support and fellowship, I've come a long way toward developing a voice as a writer.

Jon Strother's got lots more info about the book and the process of how it came to be. Go check it out!

The book itself is available over on Smashwords for $2.99 in a variety of formats, including Adobe's PDF, which is suitable for home printing.

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Contest: Win an audio recording of your story

As of this moment (1:51pm EDT, Aug 16, 2010), I have 997 followers on Twitter, 95 followers on this blog, which has been visited 9,913 times.


There will be 3 Winners: my 100th blog follower, my 1000th Twitter follower and my 10,000th visitor.

How will I know who is who? Since I'm so close to hitting the trifecta, I will start counting from RIGHT NOW and keep going for the next 48 hours.

For each prize, I will randomly select from all of the new followers on Twitter, the new followers to this blog and everyone who leaves a comment on this post.

Prizes: a deluxe audio recording of one of your stories, suitable for podcasting, AudioBooing, etc. What makes it deluxe? Just listen to some sample recordings in various accents, and tell me how it could NOT be deluxe!

The contest starts RIGHT NOW, so be sure to follow, comment and tell your friends!

UPDATE: The contest is now closed! Winners are being contacted and a blog post announcing the results will go up on Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 7:00 am. Look for it then!

Best of FridayFlash: we have a cover

Jon Strother has some important news about the Best of FridayFlash, volume 1 anthology. Here's the cover:


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SpokenSunday: Cherries On My Plate

For SpokenSunday, the story I wrote last week for


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6 Minute Stories

Off and on, I've been having fun with If you ever used Write-or-Die on kamikaze mode, this is like that. When you click the box, you get a prompt and a countdown timer with 6 minutes.

360 seconds to compose, write, re-write, edit, spell-check and title a little story is NOT a lot. It's an exhilarating little pulse of creativity.

I've done a few of them, and the best results have come when I didn't try to over think the process. Here are a couple, one funny, one scary:
Cherries On My Plate: So there I was, cigarette in hand, pigeon in my mouth, and she starts talking to me. I'm like, lady, shut up already, will ya? If the blood bothers you, go read somewhere else, OK? But no, she wants me to stop eating the pigeon. Or [... more]

Bury My Heart At Wounded Thigh: Find within yourself the path to truth, and you will never steer yourself wrong.
Good Lord, what a load of crap, he thought, sharpening the shovel again.
Rely on my own internal frame of reference to tell me what is the true path? Hell, if I thought my internal compass was true, I'd [... more]
So, go over and give it a try. It's fun, like snorting a line of finely crushed Altoids.

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#FridayFlash: Leeds Darts Champion of 1977

Leeds Darts Champion of 1977

by Tony Noland

There was a ton of old junk to clean out, but there always was. The hard young man snorted. Old people, they never threw anything away.

This attic was just like all the others, stuffed full of junk. The old toys, old clothes, old furniture ... why save all this stuff? Maybe if there had been children or grandchildren, to give it to, but if not, why save it? Besides, he never took houses from people who had heirs. His targets were exclusively the old and alone, had been his specialization for years. When grown kids were involved, they always screwed up the deal, wanted reasonable amounts for the properties. He wasn't interested in paying that much.

His flashlight lit up stacks of old newspapers, empty cardboard boxes, empty canning jars. The dust was thick over it all. He wondered how many years it had been since the old guy had opened up the attic stairs and been up here. The bright light scanned over the shelves and stacks. It was sometimes surprising what some worthless-looking crap went for on eBay - pens, pins, dolls, collectibles like that. It had to be in good shape to be worth anything though, and this was all pretty worn. He didn't see that anything had been packaged or covered.

The old guy had said in his funny accent that he wanted good proceeds from the sale of the house, to be sure his wife's nursing home bills were paid. The young man smiled at his own industry and cleverness, at how he'd moved within 14 hours after the old man died. His maneuvers to have the place foreclosed in a probate action meant he'd been able to buy the house for a dollar at a closed property transfer auction. Too bad for the estate.

Old people were so gullible, really, especially when they were distracted with senile spouses. He chuckled and said out loud, "I'm gonna make a lot of money when I clean this place up and flip it."

He heard a low sound from the far end of the dim and dusty attic. Like a hum... or a moan. He flashed his light to that end, but couldn't make out what it was. Something glinted back at him. Something big. Gold?

As he played the light back and forth, the glinting shifted, but the sound was unchanged. A piece of equipment of some kind? An attic fan or dehumidifier?

An animal?

"Hello?" he said, and then felt foolish. Even if it were a raccoon or something, talking to it was stupid.

He stepped around more piles of old stuff, to get a closer look at the glinting mass, piled high back in the dimness. As he came closer, the humming moan grew in volume, but didn't vary in pitch. What the hell? The gleaming light was reflecting back at him from a huge stack of... trophies. He brushed the dust off some to read the labels on the corroded and spotted brass.

"Junior Darts Championship, 3rd place 1962"
"Junior Darts Championship, 1st place 1965"
"Leeds Darts League Championship, 2nd Division, 3rd place 1971"

What the hell? The man played his light over the trophies. Small ones were tucked behind and beside big ones. He could see ribbons and plaques stacked on the shelves as well. On almost all of them were darts, or figures of little brass men throwing darts.

"Leeds Darts Champion of 1974"
"Leeds Darts Champion of 1975"
"Leeds Darts Champion of 1976"
"West Yorkshire Darts Champion of 1978"

The biggest of them all had pride of place, if you could call it that, on the top shelf. Atop a heavy, cream-colored marble base, a brass cylinder was capped with a single golden dart, mounted on its fins.

"All-United Kingdom Darts Champion of 1982"

He picked up a dry, crumbling newspaper from the middle shelf, the Yorkshire Evening Post, dated October 14, 1984. It was page 3 of the sports section; the headline of a half-page article read, "Darts champion to move to America; plans to establish professional darts league". The man lowered the paper and looked at all the commemorations and awards, covered in grime and cobwebs.

The man laughed at the absurdity of this pile of crap. "Darts? DARTS? What kind of a moron is a champion at a stupid game for drunks in a bar?"

The humming moan spiked louder, grew angry; the man's throat closed in fear as he finally recognized the sound.

His hand moved upwards, and there, on the wall of the attic, five feet beyond the shelf of trophies was a wasp's nest, bright in the glare of his flashlight. Larger across than the lid of a trash can, the surface of it was alive with crawling, flicking black and yellow wasps, each almost as big as his thumb. Dozens, hundreds, a thousand of them pulsing, crawling out of holes, massing on the surface of the nest. Their droning buzz filled the attic.

He lowered the light and started to back away, towards the trapdoor and the attic stairs. He bumped a pile behind him and a ski pole fell forward, striking the big trophy squarely. The golden dart snapped off and flew in an impossibly smooth arc, to bullseye into the center of the nest.

The wasps boiled into the air, flying toward the light.

The man turned and stumbled across the attic, batting at the swarm of angry wasps as they stung his hands, neck, arms, every bit of exposed skin. He screamed as he came close to the trapdoor. Three feet from it, he tripped on something and fell headfirst down the stairs to land heavily on the hallway floor below. From his back came a sound like a handful of dry sticks being bent, hard.

He felt one incandescent burst of pain, and then he felt nothing at all below the middle of his chest. His breathing went wild, as though his lungs had forgotten how to work. His arms and legs were useless as he lay at the foot of the stairs staring up into the attic.

The dense cloud of swarming wasps pulsed and writhed above him in the open trapdoor. He tried to scream as they formed themselves into the shape of a hand, a man's hand holding a large dart

A dart drawn back for a throw downwards.

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Three Word Wednesday: Joke, leverage, remedy

Today's words for Three Word Wednesday are Joke, leverage, remedy.


Leverage of two hundred seventy
light-years moved Earth like he said, didn't he?
Archimedes would choke
To see that his joke
Provided a climate change remedy.

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Front to back: enough pain for one day, thanks

Since my hernia repair surgery in January, I've been in pain. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. When it's a little, it feels like I'm being pinched by an especially binding undergarment. When it's a lot, it feels like someone is grinding a red-hot cigarette lighter into my crotch after they took the trouble to sharpen it on a bench grinder.

I know stories shouldn't begin with backstory, as it borks the power of the narrative, but as this is non-fiction, bear with me, OK?

After a few months, I grew desperately tired of being in pain, so went back to the surgeon. He tried injecting some numbing/anti-inflammatory goo, shot deep into the tissues. The "numbing" part was novocaine, and was supposed to provide instant and complete relief, as well as prevent the anti-inflammatory stuff from hurting. However, as I've noted previously, I'm mostly immune to novocaine. The surgeon's response was, "Well... sorry, but that's the mix. It won't take long; you'll just have to tough it out."

He was right about it not taking very long, at least by the clock. In point of fact, though, the procedure hurt like hell, and made the pain worse for days afterwards.

At a later evaluation, the surgeon wanted to wait it out for a month or so. Still no improvement. I'm as good as the next guy at playing through the pain, but ...

Referred to a pain specialist, I was told that it might go away on its own in eighteen months or so. Opting for treatment instead, I got a prescription for pills that did nothing for the pain in my crotch, but did make me dizzy, stupid and made the roof of my mouth get horribly raw and painful. I stopped the pills.

I also made today's appointment to have another injection, this time guided by an X-ray imager to target the medicine directly onto the inflamed nerve. As is typical for procedures that involve big-ass needles and injections of lots of goo, the first step is to use a little needle on the already sensitive and painful area. The big-ass needle hurts like hell, so they like to deaden the targeted area first.

With novocaine.

Back when I first met him 6 weeks ago, I told the pain specialist that novocaine doesn't work on me. He didn't seem to believe me. "Well, then how do you get things done at the dentist?", he asked. "I ask for multiple injections and I tough it out," I said. He remained skeptical, and didn't bother to write this information down anywhere. He didn't mention it during the prep discussion of today's procedure. I didn't either; what was the point?

There, see? I'm mixing in backstory right in the middle of the narrative. That's an asequential break, done to delay my description of what happened when the big-ass needle was jabbed into the part of my crotch that was supposed to be numbed with novocaine, but was in fact even more painfully sensitized by the hard rubbing with alcohol wipes and the first needle.

You can feel the tension building, can't you?

Should I be coy and use Byzantine curlicues to describe it?

Or should I be all Stieg Larsson and get graphic with profanity-laced veritas?

Neither, of course. I will just say that I think I pulled a muscle in my back writhing on the table, fighting the instinct to tear myself up and away from that pain, since any movements more significant than clenched shuddering would have driven that big-ass needle chipping directly down onto my pelvic bone.

Which I didn't want.

I almost vomited from the pain, something I haven't done since my horrible migraine days of yore.

In recovery, I waited the fifteen minutes or so the doctor said it would take for it to get fully effective. When he came in, he had the good sense not to say, "It feels better, right?". Instead he asked, "Do you feel any better?", to which I said, "No, not really. I don't feel any difference." I did not say "And guess what? My crotch still hurts, and now my back does too." Not relevant, really.

He then said a bunch of stuff which boiled down to, I hit the nerve square on (no shit), so if that didn't work then we should just wait and see how it goes.

I could have suffered rotten pain on my own, and for free, too. In the future, I think that's what I'll do. I'm sure that tomorrow I'll be back to my usual stiff-upper-lip, everything's-fine-thanks-how-are-you self. For today, though, I make no promises to eschew unguarded language.

Is it any wonder that I have felt incapable of writing anything light and funny for months?

p.s. I know there are many people who have endured or are currently enduring more debilitating pain than I am. This makes me feel thankful that I am not them, that I have health insurance, and that I am as devastatingly handsome as I ever was. However, thankful as I am that my situation isn't worse, I'm still in pain, so suck it.

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A new beginning

There are changes coming for me, for the way I write. Vacation gave me
a lot of time to think, and I'm going to put those thoughts into

Follow me on Twitter: @TonyNoland

How to juggle, and why

Over on Write Anything, my guest post is about how I learned to juggle, and what learning how to juggle has meant for developing as a writer.

I'm sitting in for Jodi Cleghorn on this one; she's my editor for the Chinese Whisperings book coming out this fall.

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yWriter in action

I use yWriter all the time. K.M. Weiland takes it for a spin and posted a video of it. Here's the embed:

One of the things that I appreciate about K.M. is that she always sounds like she's reading from a good script. It really underscores the professionalism, and cements the fact that she knows what she's talking about.

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From XKCD, something to bear in mind when designing your public face:

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#FridayFlash: Lebensturm


by Tony Noland

Outside the tower
winds whip cold then hot, the gray-green sky promising the end of the world, the first fat drops thudding into the dust.

Within the tower
screens cry then YES!YES!YES!, the yellow-pink fist clenched over the launch button, the first real hopes blooming in what's left of his soul.

Beside the tower
flames cough then blast, the cobalt-crimson rocket rising fast, the first of ten thousand feet of copper-niobium wire trailing out of the carefully wound coil.

Above the tower
lightning licks then strikes, the purple-white power of the earthskysea delivered and conducted, the first of forty million electron volts flashing downward.

Beneath the tower
hydrocarbon cryoslush recoils then contracts, the ultraviolet-gamma light of nanochemistry orchestrated and focused, the first pulse of life in a new, new heart.

Beyond the tower
humanity sleeps then wakes, the blood-red/dead-black newlife shaped and moving abroad, the first shrieks of the last days of the first race of creators.

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Please note: I'm on vacation until mid-August, and will be able to respond to comments then.

How to get readers to comment

Here's a link on how to get readers to comment on blog posts. Try to spot the familiar name.

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I wish I weren't such a cynical person.

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Please note: I'm on vacation until mid-August, and will be able to respond to comments then.

Creativity - where does it come from?

TED talks are terrific. Here's Amy Tan on creativity:

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