The Mask Ordinance

My city passed a mask ordinance last night after we had 5 straight days of COVID increases. I was listening to people complain about it’s very existence before it was passed and I couldn’t help but laugh. First, the misinformation was super high. Second, the people in my life screaming about masks infringing on their liberties the loudest are the exact same people who supported the Patriot Act which gave the US government the legal right to spy on American citizens in all forms (tap your phones? Yes. Track your internet use? Yes. Open your mail? Yes. Monitor your bank accounts? Yes. Allow the NSA to aim satellites at your house to pick up on conversations? Maybe. Oddly, it felt like the Patriot Act had been lifted from my brain and applied to the real world as the NSA does in fact monitor every moment of every SCTU members lives).

Here’s the thing, if wearing a surgical mask during a surgery helps prevent your germs from infecting your patient, it absolutely must help prevent your COVID germs from disseminating. Is it perfect? No. A HAZMAT suit would be perfect, which isn’t really practical for everyone in my city. But the masks help.

The argument that the government shouldn’t be able to dictate what you wear in public is ridiculous, they’ve been doing it for centuries. The difference is the fines for not wearing pants in public are a hell of a lot higher and will get you listed on the Sex Offender Registry for your state. I mean honestly, what’s the difference between being told if you don’t wear pants in public you’ll be arrested for indecent exposure than being told you must now wear a mask in public to protect public health? I mean, isn’t wearing pants meant to protect the public? By putting on pants, you are protecting public health… your anal excretions and germs must travel through at least one layer of cloth before it can infect the public seat you’ve sat on and expose someone else to your fecal matter. Furthermore by wearing pants, you are protecting children from seeing the naughty bits of adults not related to them.

As you can tell, I am all for the use of masks in public. So far, I’ve not heard a single argument that sways me into believing not wearing a mask is A) your right because the government shouldn’t dictate what you wear and B) that masks are completely useless against COVID (yes some masks work better than others, but just like wearing pants even a single layer of cloth does help prevent the expulsion of your germs into public spaces).

Furthermore, Spain is reporting only about 5% of those infected are developing antibodies to COVID and those are happening only in the extremely ill. If you were born before the varicella vaccine, you have an understanding of what that means. I had Chicken Pox multiple times. My first infection at 5 years old, wasn’t that bad and so, I got to go through it twice and the second time was much, much worse. Unlike Chicken Pox, COVID is still a brand new disease and we can only guess at the what it’s going to do and what that means for us as a species. Which brings us back to the part everyone scoffs at: The Death Toll – yes, it’s low. But the measles virus has been around thousands of years and it’s only been in the last 30 years that we’ve realized all the long term, permanent, horrible side effects possible from it from resetting the immune system to diseases already encountered such as chicken pox and whooping cough to damaging the immune system leaving the person just a step above immunocompromised.

I think what bothers me most, is the huge percentage that is asymptomatic. Right now, there is a virus on this planet that has a high asymptomatic rate and it causes cancer – the human papillomavirus. COVID has been around 9 months, we don’t know what the long term outlook for people infected with it is… we keep assuming it’s like influenza or the common cold (seasonal and without long term side effects), but that’s not the norm for viruses. Measles, viral pneumonia, HIV, HPV, pertussis, chicken pox, herpes, smallpox, monkeypox, rubella, ebola, Epstein-Barr, AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are all common viruses that cause long term serious damage to the body… even after a patient has “recovered”. Sometimes, even H1N1 (Influenza A aka Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Spanish Flu, etc) causes permanent damage to the body.

So, as the infection rate climbs and people recover do we have 8 million time bombs just waiting to develop cancer or some other complication that we won’t see for 5 or 10 or 15 years? Will we one day look back and think that the very small percentage of patients that dies immediately from COVID are the lucky ones? As I see it, it is better to never be infected. Because without a crystal ball and a glimpse at the future, we have no idea what COVID-19 means for humans in the long run. As of July 2020, we aren’t even 100% sure that COVID is actually a respiratory disease, there is mounting evidence to suggest that it might be vascular or perhaps it’s both respiratory and vascular, which could mean all those asymptomatic 20 year olds are starting to develop aortic aneurysms as I type and because they don’t know it, they’ll rupture them in their 30s or 40s or their heart valves are starting to degrade or in a year there will be a steep increase in deaths caused by blood clots, especially in women, because 30 something year old women are already at higher risk for blood clots if they are on birth control.

As of today, I feel like catching COVID could be akin to playing Russian Roulette. I do not mean to sound like an alarmist, but I admit, I am alarmed. I think we all should be. We don’t know enough about the disease to not be alarmed. We are all currently working on the assumption that once you get over it, it’s benign, but there are too many viruses that aren’t to make this assumption. Which is why we should all be responsible and wear masks, just like we tend to be responsible enough to wear clothes out in public.

Nephilim Narratives Supporting Character Sketches (Part 1) – Yearly Subscribers

I think I’ve gotten this sorted out, maybe. My box between the premium content boxes need to be larger than it’s been the last two posts (including this one). So I am sharing it again.

The Nephilim Narratives have a lot of supporting characters with uncles and recurring demons and business partners. So, here’s the first 5 supporting character sketches; they cover Soleil’s immediate family (Raphael, Sofia, Helia, Aurora, and Ariel). The others are coming, and I imagine this is part 1 of the supporting characters (The main characters Soleil, Jerome, and Valerie posted last Wednesday) of five or so. The Angel Sketches are interesting because you get a more solid idea of when they were born. Eventually, I might create a timeline for the series since they occasionally refer back to prehistory (especially in Demon Boxes). More of the angel and demon character sketches will be posted later this week and next. Also, since I have 4 books partially written (with only 2 published), the sketches provide way more information than you as readers have had up to this point.

Now for business: the first “log-in” box is for monthly subscribers (they get the first box because they default as coming up first in the list of subscriber assignment options). The second is for yearly. If you want to subscribe you have 2 options: a monthly rate that starts at $5 or a yearly rate that starts at $12. These are the base prices, you can subscribe at higher rates by simply changing the amount. You must click the subscribe box associated with the one you want to use (so first box for monthly, second box for yearly). Once signed up, you will be able to see the content within your box (both boxes contain the exact same information – the program just won’t allow me to assign 2 different types of subscribers to a single box).

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MoMo in Kansas City – An Original Short by Hadena James

Apparently, I am having issues today…. and I am having to post this yet again. My apologies, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

This is an original short starring Nadine Daniels. It is not a necessary story to the series. Normally, Nadine stories are incredibly funny, this one isn’t one of those. This one deals with a serious problem that touches everyone in the world. You must be subscribed and logged in to see the content in the box. There was a snafu and my yearly subscription box wasn’t available on the original post, so here it is for yearly subscribers.

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MoMo in Kansas City – An Original Short by Hadena James

This is an original short starring Nadine Daniels. It is not a necessary story to the series. Normally, Nadine stories are incredibly funny, this one isn’t one of those. This one deals with a serious problem that touches everyone in the world. You must be subscribed and logged in to see the content in the box. There was a snafu and my yearly subscription box wasn’t available on the original post, so here it is for yearly subscribers.

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Bubonic Plague in 2020

2020 has been wild already as we struggle with a world pandemic. There are roughly 50-60 cases of bubonic plague a year worldwide and a dozen or so are usually in the Southwest part of the United States. This is part of the “plague happens” motto Aislinn Cain uses in D&R from time to time. However, they aren’t usually clusters. Which is why the 3 cases in Mongolia made international news.

The three cases are scary because they happened in less than a week. In Russia and Mongolia, it’s not uncommon. A prairie dog like rodent called a marmot is among the most common plague host around. What most people know about plague is that it passes from rats to fleas and the fleas flee the dead bodies of the rats and move to other hosts such as household pets and eventually people.

However, while that is a common transmission source, it’s definitely not the only transmission source. Especially since the Southwest US doesn’t have marmots. All rodents can carry bubonic plague. In the US it’s usually prairie dogs, in Mongolia, it’s the poor marmot. And in eastern Russia, China, and Mongolia marmot is a food source for indigenous people. Eating marmot infected with bubonic plague is a fairly common transmission source as a result and accounts for something like half the plague cases in the world.

Three cases in a week is worrisome because we have to wonder if plague infection rates of marmots is on the rise. In 2018 for example there were only 18 cases of plague in all of Russia, China, and Mongolia, a further 7 cases in the US and another 33 in Africa. For a total of 58 cases which means roughly 5 cases a month for all of 2018 with the majority happening in the conflict regions of Africa. Drought, famine, and conflict encourage the eating of animals not normally consumed by starving populations as well as further encouraging closer habitation between plague infected animals and humans. In 2019, there were only 47 cases of plague worldwide for an average of less than 4 cases a month and again, most of the cases were in Africa.

Luckily, unlike the 1300s, we have antibiotics and if caught early, plague can be treated and cured with antibiotics and it is not communicable person to person. If not caught early, it has a 30-40% mortality rate. But that’s normal plague Yersinia Pestis. Throughout human history a few serious mutations of Y. Pestis has occurred and we’ve found evidence of this in plague pits in Europe, the Middle East, and a few other places. Sometimes, when Y. Pestis mutates it gets big, bad, and unstoppable. We know for sure that the Y. Pestis also known as the Justinian Plague, was communicable in bodily fluids. It killed millions and was named after the Emperor Justinian who ruled when it hit. It is one of the great population bottlenecks and the first caused by Bubonic Plague; killing an estimated 25 million to 100 million people in Europe and the Middle East. It is one of the contributing factors in the collapse of the Roman Empire which was very hard hit by it. Then came the 14th century… There is still a ton of debate about the Y. Pestis that decimated Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 1300s. It killed at least 50 million people across the three continents and produced the second great population bottleneck, it’s possible that nearly half the population of the continents listed died during the 7(or so) years of the Black Death. We know for sure it traveled east to west, coming out of Mongolia, Russia, and China and moving into Europe and Africa. Carried by rat fleas is the most questionable part. It spread like wildlife, way faster than flea and flea infestations could have spread it. Like Justinian Plague, it probably became communicable person to person possibly in the form of Bubonic Pneumonia, and the mortality rate seems to have been higher with Black Death than Justinian Plague or even regular plague.

What does all that matter? Well, if the plague infection in marmots is increasing, we will begin to see higher rates of infection in humans. There are three main forms of Bubonic Plague; Bubonic (it infects the lymph nodes), Septicemic (in this form it enters the bloodstream and can act like hemorrhagic fever causing people to bleed to death both internally and externally), and Pneumonic (this is the most dangerous form and has a higher mortality rate than the first two; it causes respiratory shock and failure). It’s unlikely plague will reach pandemic proportions, but 2020 has been weird.

MoMo in Kansas City – An Original Short by Hadena James

This is an original short starring Nadine Daniels. It is not a necessary story to the series. Normally, Nadine stories are incredibly funny, this one isn’t one of those. This one deals with a serious problem that touches everyone in the world. You must be subscribed and logged in to see the content in any of the boxes. I promise both boxes contain the same content. There is no need to subscribe to both.

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Fourth of July Horror Album

I have spent most of the last 5 days in my office with Lola. Dealing with her panic has been all consuming. So, I haven’t gotten much editing done. Not that I didn’t expect this, Lola struggles last year and she was worse this year. I keep hoping the kids across the street will run out of bottle rockets and cherry bombs. But we’re on day 5 and no such luck. So here are all the pictures I have taken of her hiding in my office.

Book Bibles & Series Bibles

I’ve mentioned many times in the past that writers create a lot of extraneous stuff while writing a book. Two of the things, I’ve realized most readers don’t know about are book bbles and series bibles. I’ve heard them called other things, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the synonyms for them right now. A series bible is essential if you write a series – it provides a place where you can quickly look at all the information contained within the books of your series.

Both a book bible is a collection of writer files. A series bible is a collection of book bibles that pertains to a single series; so if I was good at keeping up with my book bibles and series bibles; the Dreams and Reality series bible would have the book bibles from all 17 published books, plus the 2 written but not yet published books, and the bibles for the books that are in the works.

A book bible should contain the following information:

  • an outline if one was created
  • a timeline if one was created (for short books that take place over a few days, I never make a story timeline although sometimes I think I should), but for some books that span a long time, they are essential as are character timelines for immortal or paranormal characters)
  • character sketches for every character in the book (major and minor is recommended, but a lot of authors skip them for really minor or disposable characters),
  • place profiles (where is everything taking place? City, neighborhood, country, etc)
  • notes
  • Subplot information (many writers create full outlines for subplots just like they do for their main plots)

A series bible allows a writer to have all the information from each book bible at their fingertips. Now, in the mid-2000s when I created the series bible for Dreams and Reality I used Word, because I didn’t know organizational programs for writers existed. For the record, I find Word cumbersome and difficult to use for Series Bibles. It can be done using the header functions, but an organizational software program like Plottr is much easier. However, when my Asus laptop died in 2014 without warning, my series bibles for D&R and The Dysfunctional Chronicles were lost (I didn’t have backups).

Krissy Smith and I have been working on recreating my lost series bibles. And with the introduction to Plottr, it’s become much easier. They won’t be as good as my originals, but they’ll be better than nothing. In the week, I’ve been working on them, I’ve gotten a lot of information restored to them. I’ve focused on the main plots when I can remember them, any subplots I might remember, character sketches, and place profiles. Since, D&R takes place in a dystopian world, place profiles can be exceptionally important for me. For example book 21 or 22 sees the SCTU in Juarez, Mexico serial killer capital of the world, but in 2015 I released a mutated version of Bubonic Plague in Dallas, Texas and the two are close enough that it should have had an impact on Juarez, Mexico and I needed to ensure the information on the mutated Yersinia. Pestis as well as the spread was available to me while writing my book set in Mexico. This means the place profile for Dallas is very broad, but I also needed place profiles were much smaller areas such as The Federal Guard Neighborhood, the Federal Guard Apartments, and The Fortress.

I took a bunch of screenshots from Plottr to allow you all to see the visuals of what I’m working with both in regards to the series bible and the book bible. With each new book in the series bible comes an increase in character sketches and place profiles (if needed – I don’t do one for every place, usually just the important places). One screen shot is the “main plot” page from the Tortured Dreams book bible.

And as you can see, Plottr allows me to upload book covers for the books that have them. If I need information (like the character sketches I’ve been releasing in Premium Content posts from the Nephilim Narratives) printed or in another useable format, I can export all of it to a Word doc. I can then upload the character sketch word docs to my writing program and have those listed on the side as I write a book if I want, even though the information is in Plottr and not my writing program.

Another Milestone as a Writer

Last year, I surpassed a million book sales/freebie downloads. In June, I hit another milestone. Since I made my first international sale, I’ve kept a list of every country I’ve sold in. Every month I’ve had a sale in a brand new country, it’s made me happy, but it has also surprised me. Especially when it happened in unexpected countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But in June, I sold an entire set of Dreams and Reality novels in the Dominican Republic, which was officially my fortieth country of sale!

I can’t explain why I’m so excited to have sold books in 40 countries, but I am. I would love to get a world map to put on my wall that would allow me to color in countries where I’ve sold books for some reason. But I don’t have a map yet, so here’s a list just because I want to share it.

Afghanistan
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Belgium
Belize
Brazil
Canada
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominican Republic
Egypt
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Haiti
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Kazakhastan
Luxemborg
Mexico
New Zealand
Pakhistan
Portugal
Russia
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey
UK
Ukraine
US

Happy 4th of July

Well, it’s a day of barbecues and celebrations. I hate fireworks because Lola gets so freaked out over them and even Kelly struggles to maintain some calm. But I enjoy the barbecues and things. So, have a good 4th of July, stay safe from fireworks, fires, and coronavirus. I might take the entire day off, maybe.