Paradise WIP – Chapter 18

Author’s Note: Hello, friends! Welcome back for this week’s installment of Paradise. When we left off last week, another belief was brought into question. Even though Rick was sure that the bunker was the real world, in the last moments of last chapter he woke up back in the compound. I promise at some point it will all come together.

I appreciate each and every one of you taking this journey with me. Please share this story with others and let me know what you think.

Paradise WIP

Chapter 18

 

“Pea…” Peadar grabbed my arm to stop me.

“Rick,” he said the name forcefully. “Do you know where you are?” His eyes weren’t blinking.

“Um, I think,” I tried to sit up, but something was holding me down.

“Don’t try to move,” Peadar said. “You’ve fallen and hit your head. We need to make sure you’re okay.”

Gregg and Todd stood expressionless as centurions behind Peadar.

“Fell?” I asked, but I didn’t really expect a response.

Nothing made sense. The compound was supposed to be a construct of my mind. It was created by microbots in my brain. Max had performed surgery on me and removed the bots. I shouldn’t have been seeing anything from the compound.

Something in the hall caught Gregg’s attention. He nudged Todd and the two left the room.

Peadar leaned in close and started to whisper in fast, eager words.

“Sir, we may not have much time. Remember, you have to call me Paul. I don’t know what happened to you. They told me you fell. You were in the center for several days, and when you came out your head was bandaged, as it is now. You’ve been unconscious for two months. We all thought we had lost you.”

I tried to make sense of what he was telling me, but my mind was clouded. I had just been in a cramped, awful place in a dark cave. Now I was in a bright, open and comfortable room.

“Sir, they are going to make me leave in a minute. They don’t like that we are friends. It was supposed to stop after the last time they reconditioned me. I don’t know why they came to tell me about your accident. They have let me come sit with you for about 15 minutes each day.”

I looked at Peadar, with fear obvious in his eyes. I wanted to hug him. It didn’t seem likely I would seem him again, and yet here he was. At the same time, I couldn’t grasp the meaning of what was happening. If the compound was a construct created by bots, then it wasn’t real. Peadar wasn’t real. I couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing.

In addition, I had never lost time in the compound before. Several times I had been unconscious in the bunker, but never before had I stayed unconscious in the compound. Something had changed. Someone had changed the rules.

Book Review – A Sword in Time by Cidney Swanson

My head was pounding, but I ordered Peadar to help me up. Standing was out of the question, so I pushed myself back to lean against the headboard.

“I don’t understand,” I told him. “I shouldn’t be here.”

“Speak softly, sir. I’m sure they are trying to listen.”

I glanced to the door. From my limited vantage point I didn’t see anyone in the hallway outside.

“Peadar.” He glared at me. “Paul, I shouldn’t be here. Max said I wouldn’t ever be here again.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. “You’ve not been anywhere.”

“I was back in the bunker,” I whispered to him. “For a long time. Max found bots in my brain. Sam and I were just setting out on a mission to capture a Plax.”

I swear Peadar’s dark skin turned white for a moment as he glanced toward the door.

“You can’t talk about them,” he whispered. “Not here. You’re not supposed to be remember them. Especially not now.”

“Why not now? What’s happened?”

“Sir, I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that you were in the center for several days. There’s no way they didn’t try to do at least some reconditioning while you were there. Even if someone came to your aid again this time, you have to pretend like it worked.”

I nodded slightly. I turned my head to the right and could see the vineyards off in the distance through the window. Irony struck me for a moment. Even though the compound was open and beautiful with every attempt at simplicity, it was far more complicated to live in than the bunker.

“Time’s up.” Gregg appeared in the doorway again. There was no attempt at a fake smile on his face. In fact, his contempt for me and Peadar was clearly evident.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Peadar told me, and he obediently got up and left my room.

*****

I improved quickly. The first day I woke up, I couldn’t even get out of bed. By the end of the second day, I was able to get up and move around some. The third day, I was able to take my meals in a communal dining area.

I knew the food wasn’t real, but after months in the bunker, I savored every bite. There seemed to be no need to restrict myself to three bites, so I ate with fervor, devouring everything I could get. Fruit especially garnered my attention. There was no way to have fruit in the bunker.

The fourth day, they removed my bandages. I saw no evidence of any damage to my head and wondered why it had been bandaged. Vann came by that day and attempted to tell me that advanced medical techniques had allowed my head to heal in such a way there wouldn’t be scarring.

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6

“How did I fall?” I asked him.

“Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t know.” His fake smile never wavered. I imagined smashed the lamp on the bedside table over his head.

“How do you know I fell, then?”

“Gregg found you.” He nodded to the brute behind him. I remembered watching him change from a tiger into a man and a cold chill ran up my spine.

“Where?” I asked them.

“Not far from the vineyard,” Vann told me. “We think maybe you were climbing a tree.”

“Climbing a tree? Why would I do that?”

“Isn’t that the question?” he chuckled, but he was the only one in the room that found it funny.

I may not have remembered the details of my past, but I did know how to read people. The look on Gregg’s face told me that not only had I not fallen out of a tree, but I had also not been in any accident.

“You’re doing much better,” Vann went on. “You can return to the vineyards tomorrow if you would like. Or, if you prefer, you can continue to rest for a few days.”

As comfortable as I found my bed, I was ready to get up and set about discovering just what was happening.

“Tomorrow sounds good,” I told him.

Vann and Gregg started to leave, but then Vann stopped in the doorway and turned to me. He was still smiling, but there was no warmth in his voice.

“It would be best, Rick,” he spit my name out like something that tasted bad, “if you stayed close to the main buildings. Go to the dining hall, the barn and the vineyard, but only those areas. There is no need for you to go exploring. It would be awful if you had another accident. We might not find you in time.”

If there was any doubt in my mind, it was now gone. Vann’s words confirmed, not only that they had done something to me, but that they knew I had been exploring the area around the compound.

Chapter 18 in Paradise, the science fiction work in progress by Wolfe Butler. New chapters posted on Tuesdays. | #WIP #scifi #sciencefiction

Continue on to Chapter 19

Paradise WIP – Chapter 19

Paradise WIP – Chapter 17

Author’s Note: Hello, dear readers! Thank you for coming back to read the next chapter in Paradise, my science fiction work-in-progress. Each week I share a chapter of the saga as I write it. The entire story so far is available online. Please keep in mind that this is a first draft, and be kind as to any errors or inconsistencies you might find.

Last week, we left off with our four soldiers, Roman, Sam, Menton and Benjamin, heading out on their mission to capture a Plax. Let’s see how far they got.

Chapter 17

Much to my embarrassment, my strength gave out long before the others. Sam was intent on making it to the first bunker before anyone slept. Had Benjamin slung me over his shoulder, it would have been awful enough. When Menton said that she had plenty of energy and would happily carry me first, I wanted to disappear into one of the small cracks in the cave floor.

“I can go on,” I grumbled, but I knew I didn’t have many more steps in me before I would collapse.

Sam nodded to Menton, and before I could object, she swung me up and over her shoulder.

“Don’t worry, Sir,” Menton whispered to me. “It’s an honor to carry you as long as I need to.”

Happily, I passed out from sheer exhaustion a few minutes later.

When I next opened my eyes, we were back in the first bunker. They had decided the medical bay was the safest place to be. Sam and Benjamin were both asleep, and Menton was standing guard.

“Have you slept, soldier?” I asked her.

“No, sir.”

“Then it’s time for me to take watch.”

“I’m fine, sir,” Menton objected.

“Perhaps you are, but you still need to rest. That’s an order.”

I had a feeling she was not going to sleep, but she did acquiesce and took a place on one of the beds.

The bunker was too quiet, and I was too jumpy. I kept picturing the Plax that had almost gotten Max and me the last time we were in that room. Every little sound sent me into high alert. None of us had been in the bunker in weeks, so it could easily have been infested with Plax soldiers.

When Sam woke up she told me that Menton had done a preliminary survey of the bunker before she or Benjamin had gone to sleep. That knowledge might have made me less jittery had I known, but then again, I wasn’t sure it would have helped at all.

My intention was to stay in the bunker a few days, so I could regain some strength. I had insisted on coming on this mission. The limited strength I had was making me a burden on the rest of the group, and the mission was stressful enough already.

 

Paradise WIP

 

We spent a full day in the bunker. We split into teams, Sam and Benjamin worked together and Menton got stuck with me. Methodically we searched the entire bunker, but ultimately did not find anything.

The next day we set out early toward the surface.

“How long will it take us to get there?” I asked Sam. Nothing in the caves was familiar to me.

“If we hustle, we could be on the surface by tomorrow night. It’s better that we don’t come out of the caves exhausted, just in case we meet up with the Plax right away. There are a couple relatively safe places to rest along the way, so we’ll plan on three days.”

 

Lifting my heavy boots off the ground was becoming increasingly difficult, when Sam suddenly said, “We’ll rest here for tonight.”

“Here?” I looked around to find the entrance to another bunker. Instead, all I saw was the dark passageway we’d been marching through all day.

“Not here exactly,” she smiled at me. “There.” She pointed her headlamp toward the floor of the cave a few feet from me. I didn’t notice it at first, but then a small opening came into view.

“There?” I asked in disbelief. “That’s barely big enough for me to get my head through.”

“It’s a little snug,” she laughed at me, “but you’ve done it before.”

Menton took off all her gear and got on the floor to inspect the area we would be entering.

“Looks like the opening’s clear,” she told us. “Let me inspect the other side before you follow me.”

Then she rolled onto her back and stretched her arms out straight above her head. Slowly she inched her way into the opening. I couldn’t help but think of a snake eating its prey as I watched her. Something dark twitched in the back of my mind, but I quickly dismissed it.

“She’s not going to make it,” I whispered to Sam after some time. She laughed at me in response.

“I’m serious!”

“I know you are.” She patted my arm condescendingly, which only served to anger me further. “Peadar has gone in and out of this spot several times.”

“Peadar?” I pictured the mountain of the man I remembered from my time in the compound. “He must have been much smaller in real life.”

“How big was in he in the Plax world?”

“At least two heads taller than me and probably three times as wide.”

“Yep, that sounds about right,” she said.

I looked back at Menton. She had made very little progress.

“There is no way.”

“It’s bigger than it looks,” she told me, but I got the distinct feeling that she was lying.

What Sam didn’t tell me was the reason why Menton entered the opening by laying on her back. For one, if there were Plax in the opening, she had a weapon help firmly in her right hand. Two, the length of the opening was longer than my body and slanted upward the further in you got. Laying on my stomach would have bent me in an awkward position as I worked my way through.

Menton gave us the all clear and Sam put Menton’s gear in the opening ahead of her.

“Keep alert,” she told us, and then she started the entry process.

Since Sam was much smaller than Menton, it took her only a fraction of the time. Her feet had barely entered the opening when Benjamin started putting my gear into the opening so I could push it as I slithered along.

Jagged rocks poked me and dragged the length of my body. It was a horrible feeling being in a space so tight with my arms above my head. I could feel that my feet were finally in the opening, as I was able to push myself along better by using the sides of the tunnel for leverage. Yet my hands had still not reached the exit.

Suddenly I was very cold. My heart started to race and sweat sprung up everywhere on my body. I needed desperately to move my arms, but there was no way as they were pinned above me.

“I can do this,” I told myself, but for a few minutes, I couldn’t move, and the fear intensified.

Breathing became difficult. Air came in and out in short jagged breaths.

“Move, soldier!” I commanded myself, but I couldn’t. The sensation of a white shadow started to envelope me as my heart pounded faster and faster. My head felt disconnected from my body and my legs were numb.

“Move,” I told myself with less enthusiasm. “You can do this.”

Then my hands started to tingle like they were asleep, and the feeling was slowly creeping up my arms. Against my will, tears started the stream from my eyes, and consciousness started to escape me.

My heart was drumming so loud in my ears that I could hear the whoosh of my blood coursing through my body. Just when I was sure I had lost the fight, two strong hands grasped my wrists and yanked me the rest of the way into the next opening.

Once free, I immediately curled into a ball, hugging my knees tightly against my chest. Sam sat beside me and placed my head in her lap.

“Roman, it’s okay,” she tried to console me. “You’re okay.”

Breathing was still difficult, and the sense of panic only strengthened as I realized I still couldn’t take enough air into my lungs. I squeezed my hands into fists as my chest started to ache.

“Breathe, Roman,” she told me. “You’re free now. You can move. Breathe. Just breathe.”

I could barely hear her for the noise pounding in my ears.

“What’s… what’s happening?” It was all I could do to gasp out the words.

“You’re okay, Roman,” was all she would say to me.

I didn’t feel okay. In fact, I felt the furthest thing possible from okay. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut and tried to imagine open spaces, but the only open spaces I clearly remembered weren’t real. The illusion of the compound offered no comfort now that I knew it wasn’t real.

“Roman.” Sam started to blow softly in my face. “Roman, you have to breathe.”

But breathing was not possible. The vise around my chest grew tighter as the white shadow took complete control of me. I felt myself slipping further away.

“Sam!” I cried out, but I wasn’t sure any sound escaped me. At least, I didn’t hear anything above the drum of my heartbeat, and there was no air in my lungs to breathe out the word.

“Roman, breathe.” Sam’s voice was muffled, hanging disconnected in the air above me.

I was losing the fight. Terror completely encased me and took my consciousness away in the process.

 

I’ve Learned – Lessons 1-10

 

“Rick?” someone said my name. Whatever had happened was finally over. My mind was coming back to life. Exhaustion weighed on me like a lead blanket.

“Rick, wake up.”

Something was wrong. I sensed it before I opened my eyes.

“Come on, sir, return to me,” someone whispered. I knew that voice.

Peadar! It was Peadar talking to me. Had I died?

“Wake up, Rick, please.”

I tried to shake my head, but it was too heavy. Slowly I was able to open my eyes ever so little.

In the blur that greeted me, I could see that I was in a bright room. It was Peadar talking to me. He was sitting next to me on the edge of my bed.

Gregg and Todd stood guard behind him.

Author’s Note: That’s it for this week. What do you think so far? I would love to hear your comments.

If you are enjoying this tale, please tell others about it or share it on social media. I greatly appreciate it.

 

Chapter 17 of the science fiction work-in-progress, Paradise, is now available. Our team has set out on their mission to capture the Plax. What happens next? Read to find out. | #WIP #sciencefiction #scifiContinue on to Chapter 18

Paradise WIP – Chapter 18

The Smartest 15 Ways to Deal With Difficult People

Anyone who has spent some time working in a customer service field knows just how quickly things can turn ugly. Learning to deal with difficult people it a valuable life lesson learned.

Usually, it starts simply. Something might not have been ready on time. The product purchased might have failed. It might just be a bad day for the customer.

Bosses and managers may be poor leaders, or maybe a family member or spouse might become enraged.

Is there anything you can do to stop a bad situation from spiraling out of control? Of course there is. Here are 15 steps you can take to deal with difficult people.

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post also contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you.

 

15 Solutions to Deal With Difficult People

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

1. Keep a Level Head

One of the funniest things in Douglas Adam’s, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, was that on the front the of the guide in huge letters were the words, “Don’t Panic.”

In the book, these words are ironic, especially in the beginning of the book when Arthur Dent is about to be flushed out an airlock into space.

But, there is value in these words when you have to deal with difficult people.

Stop for a second to take a deep breath. Take another one if you need to. Then make a conscious effort to remain calm.

This is the foundation of diffusing a tense situation.

When disciplining children, parents are often advised to count to 10 before doing or saying anything. That’s sound advice for any difficult situation.

2. Open Your Ears

The next best thing to do to deal with difficult people is to try to discern what they are upset about. It may be a challenge not to jump into fix-it mode, but it’s better to figure out exactly what the problem is before you try to fix it.

Each individual needs to feel like someone hears them. Acknowledge how they feel and give them validation by listening to what is bothering them. Give them ample opportunity to fully explain their issue without interrupting them.

Pay attention to what they say. Your mind will be tempted to start formulating what you should say next. It’s better to concentrate fully on what the other person is saying and then try to think of a solution.

3. Apologize

In most cases, you won’t have done anything wrong. That’s not the point right now.

Start by saying, “I’m sorry.” Those two small words can often go a long way to calming someone down.

Tell them that you intend to try to remedy the situation. Now that they feel like you have heard them and that you want to help, cooler heads should prevail.

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

4. Go With Your Gut

Not all situations can be defused. If your fight-or-flight reflex starts to kick in, do what you must to guarantee your safety. Determine the best method of leaving the immediate area.

For many years, I worked in management. It was an area that I both loved and hated. Hiring and training employees was usually great. Correctly or terminating them was another matter entirely.

One man specifically sticks out in my mind. Before we met with him, upper management had met to determine the best way to handle his dismissal. We knew his personality type and that the situation could escalate quickly.

Unfortunately, we were not wrong. In fact, things got so bad so fast that I had no choice but to call the police. To this day I believe that if I hadn’t, someone would have been harmed.

Protect yourself first and foremost, and flee if you have to.

5. Establish a Boundary

It’s not an entirely accurate statement to say, “the customer is always right.” Every business does what it can to provide the highest customer satisfaction, but there are things you shouldn’t put up with in the process.

“Adult language” is very common today. Many people use it without thinking about it. However, when those words start to come out as a barrage against you, it’s okay to draw a line in the sand.

In my last position, I handled all serious customer complaints. Many times a customer would have gone through one or two employees before I was given the problem to handle.

Understandably, customers were often irate at that point. Even so, I made sure to set a standard early in my conversation.


I was impervious to a few “adult” words flying my way, but when the narrative became vicious or the words especially derogative, I would give people a choice.

“Please do not speak that way,” I would tell them. If it was a telephone call, I would warn them three times that failing to calm down would force me to end the call. If the call didn’t improve, I hung up, sometimes several times on the same person.

In a family, it’s not uncommon to completely let your guard down. Sadly, that sometimes means that you might say something to your spouse or children that you would never say to anyone else.

There’s no reason you can’t establish boundaries in the family. Tell your family member that you will have to end the conversation until they can talk in a calmer manner.

6. Be Respectful and Polite

When trying to deal with difficult people, you may be lambasted with a tirade of hurtful words. Even though you may be smarting from the sting of the words, do your best not to respond in kind.

If you let your feelings turn to anger and your words to weapons, the matter will only get worse.

Strive to do your best to use respectful words like sir, ma’am, please and thank you. It may require some strenuous effort, but by remaining calm and respectful, you may just guilt the other person into acting better.

How To Be The Good You Want to See

7. Validate Their Feelings

Even if you do not understand, it’s usually good to say that you do. Or, if it’s obvious that you don’t understand, say something like, “Please tell me more so I can better understand.”

Showing them that what they are saying matters to you will give them some validation. If you show that you are sincerely interested in fixing the problem, the other person will feel more like they are on common ground with you. The need to be difficult should improve.

8. Seek Help if Needed

One thing that often made me livid was when a man would rant to one of my female employees and treat them like nothing, but completely change when I or another male member of management appeared. This well illustrates how another person can often change the conversation dynamic.

Be alert to get help if you need to.

With my employees, we had innocuous words that could be used in a sentence or quickly sent by text message that alerted the other staff that someone needed help. When we heard that word, one or more of us would go to stand with the colleague in need.

An angry individual may have no problem with yelling at one person but may take a step back when a second person appears.

In a work environment, try to flag the eye of a fellow employee or reasonable manager if needed.

There’s often safety in numbers, so don’t hesitate to seek help when you must deal with difficult people.

9. Try Not To Be Defensive

A difficult person may do their best to make you believe that it is your fault that they are so upset. Your natural tendency might be to jump to your own defense.

Frequently, it’s best to let yourself be wronged. Keep your voice steady and at a low, normal volume so as to portray the sense that you are not riled.

Yes, very likely you will be riled. In fact, you might be hopping mad. But this probably isn’t the right time to release the pressure valve.

Keep in mind, at this specific moment, it’s not your feelings that are most important. If you can calm the situation, then later you can rationally discuss the points that you know were unfair or untrue.

Words Do Real Damage – 3 Questions to Ask Before Speaking

10. Control Anger and Body Language

Again, when you deal with difficult people, it’s perfectly natural to feel angry. Do your best to control that anger.

In addition, purposely control your body language.

Pointing a finger at them or crossing your arms may add fuel to the fire. A pointed finger can be taken as a challenge or aggression. Crossed arms may signal that you have closed yourself off to helping the problem customer.

Hold your hands in front of you or let them hang loosely at your sides. Gesture if needed in the conversation, but make sure any gestures are not aggressive or accusatory.

11. Stay Versatile

Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two situations are either. Look for clues as to what the person feels would be the right solution.

In the retail world, customers are often looking for a refund or replacement of a product. However, some unscrupulous individuals may be looking for a business to claim liability or give them just cause to file a lawsuit.

Again, go with your gut in this area. Quite often, the less-is-more approach is the way to go. Say as little as possible until you have some idea what solution they might be looking to achieve.

12. Discern What’s Not Being Said

Many psychologists will tell you that anger is always a secondary emotion. What that means is that often there is another emotion that triggered the anger. This is frequently true when you have to deal with difficult people.

In a marriage, this is often hurt feelings. The verbal barrage you are getting right now may have nothing to do with the subject that is being discussed.

What?

Bear with me a moment.

Imagine for a moment that a wife explodes because a husband is late coming home for dinner or that he forgot to carry the trash to the curb. Is that really what she’s upset about? Or is this something else that hurt her prior to this?

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

Personal experience time.

My wife and I, believe it or not, rarely fought. However, one afternoon, and completely out of the blue, she yelled at me, and not just a little bit either.

Now, I know you didn’t know my wife, but she was never a yeller. That was always my job if yelling needed to be done.

I don’t remember the exact words she yelled at me. It seems like it had something to do with leaving a dish on the counter or in the sink.

What I do clearly remember is that it had nothing to do with why she was really upset. It turned out, a few nights earlier I had said something insensitive and hurtful when we were out to dinner with friends.

The comment had meant nothing to me at the time and quickly left my mind, but my dear wife had let it fester in her mind for days until some small thing I had done was enough to break the proverbial camel’s back.

See if you can determine what is really bothering the individual you are having to deal with. Again, this is where active listening comes into play.

13. Don’t Be Demanding

Continue to fight natural impulses if you want to be truly successful. As a situation deteriorates, you may be inclined to say things like, “Shut up!” or “Calm down already.”

Hello, match meet flame. Not good.

Instead, inquire more about what is bothering them. Do they feel like they have been mistreated? Have they been offended in some way?

We all have the need to vent from time to time. Usually, once we are done venting, we no longer feel as upset as we were.

If it feels like a safe option, give the other person a safe space to vent a little.

14. Maintain Personal Space

If emotions are already frayed, it may not take much to make matters worse. Natural impulses may move you to want to touch their arm or shoulder to calm them down. This well-intentioned, empathetic action can be perceived as aggression.

Going back for a moment to the man I had to help fire, shortly before I had to call the police, the business owner made a crucial mistake.

Incorrectly imagining that he could do something to calm the irate employee, my boss reached out and touched his arm.

To say things exploded from there is probably an understatement. In fact, it was like someone flipped a switch and the man being fired lost all control as to his speech or actions. He screamed and flailed his arms and even rolled around on the floor a couple times. It was unbelievable.

So, when you need to deal with difficult people, give them plenty of personal space.


15. Recognize That the Person and Problem Are Different

As you learn to deal with difficult people, it’s important to remind yourself that the person and the problem are not the same.

Some of the worst customers I had to deal with over the years pointed out serious flaws in the business I worked for or the staff that needed to be corrected.

Even though the person you are facing might be acting impossible, the thing they are upset about may be a legitimate problem that needs to be addressed. Look at the situation objectively regardless of how the person is acting.

Strive To Be Better

No doubt, some of the methods in this article to deal with difficult people might be unnatural the first time or two you try to put them into practice. Don’t let that stop you. Just because something feels comfortable doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be done.

The fired employee that was clearly very comfortable with screaming and cussing was certainly in the wrong. However, those were things that he seemed to be perfectly comfortable with.

Give yourself time to improve and keep working on it even if your first few attempts are far from successful. Changing the world takes one person at the time and constant effort, so be sure to keep going.

Please share these helpful tips on Pinterest or other social media.

Whether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHackWhether at home or at work, there will be times you will have to deal with difficult people. This post looks at the 15 best ways to handle them. | #LifeLesson #LifeLessonLearned #LifeHack

 

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6

Pity-Parties and Successes

I’m having quite a lot of difficulty writing this month’s post. As you read last month in Part 5, April was a little of a disappointment. Okay, so that may be a bit of an understatement.

Since I am sharing the real blogging experience with this series, I am going to flat out tell you: April sucked. May was worse.

I let myself get so discouraged by April that I stopped doing even the things that were working. That caused a further decline in numbers. In fact, the numbers are so terrible that I am not even going to share most of them this month.

Much of my time during my May pity-party was spent out in my yard. At least I can say I wasn’t entirely unproductive, though I also won’t be getting a call from Lawn and Garden magazine anytime soon.

My favorite thing about working in the yard is that it gives me lots of time to think. Whether I’m pushing the lawn mower or pulling weeds out of the flower beds, my mind is usually free to think about other things.

Happily, several things became clearer during the process of getting my yard in shape. I started June with new zeal and a better attitude. So, what went wrong? Did anything go right?

Read and follow directions

Read AND Follow Directions

In total, I have spent nearly 88 hours learning about blogging this year. I have faithfully continued to keep using a time tracker, which has both it’s good and bad points. On the good side, I know just how much time I’ve spent getting educated.

Knowledge is power. I have always been one that set out to learn as much as I could about any task I was assigned. My goal was always ultimately to become the expert in that area.

In most of the jobs I’ve had over the years, that process worked well. Typically, over the course of time, I became the go-to person when someone needed to be trained or when unusual questions came up.

Learning is something I am passionate about. If someone has already invented the wheel, then all I should have to do is follow their directions. It doesn’t have to be invented again.

But…

In the corporate world, almost everything I learned for my business was immediately put into practice. It was important to me to be a force for good in improving office efficiency and staff effectiveness.

Somehow, over the last few months, I have misplaced that lesson.

Yes, I spent 88 hours watching webinars and reading blogging tips and advice, but I failed epically when it came to putting that knowledge into proper use.

It was a painful realization that hit me while working in the yard last month. A plant may or may not have been thrown across the yard as a result.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, there is no additional cost to you, but I may receive a small commission. Thank you for your support.

 

Billionaire Blog Club

A few months ago, I invested in Billionaire Blog Club (BBC). If you’ve not heard of BBC before, here is a quick rundown.

1. BBC is a blogging course

Becoming a lifetime member of BBC gives you access to all of the books and videos that site owner, Paul Scrivens, AKA Scrivs, has put together. Scrivs is extremely (almost scarily) intelligent and has successfully launched dozens of blogs. I may have lost count, but I think right now he is running 15 and they are all massively successful.

Scrivs started all these blogs to prove that a blog could be successful in any niche. He then shaped that knowledge into a step-by-step video series that covers all of the things he does to take a site from ground zero to major income.

2. BBC is a motivator

In addition to all the courses, Scrivs sends out regular emails. He’s not one to waste his time on salesy material. His emails are written specifically for BBC members. Since when you buy into BBC you become a lifetime member, he’s not selling us anything.

Instead, he concentrates on sharing his knowledge and inspiration. As he learns new things about the blogging world, he passes that information on to the members.

The thing that I find most valuable, though, is the fact that he’s not afraid to be brutally honest. In fact, it was one of his especially strong emails that pushed me out of my pity-party mode and back to work.

In a nutshell, he said that the biggest mistake bloggers make isn’t in not knowing what to do. No, instead, the issue usually comes from not doing what they know they should do.

The email could have been written personally to me, because that is exactly what I’d been doing. I had the plans to build a wheel, but I was spending all my time in my workshop trying to make a wheel without using that information.

3. BBC is a community

The other thing that is amazing, and maybe the most useful part of being a BBC member, is the community you become part of. Through forums available on Slack, all BBC members can freely share inspiration, joys, triumphs and failures (happily not many of these) with each other.

Since everyone is working toward the same goal, conversations are very positive. Everyone is working together so that everyone can succeed.

I’m not one to join in many of the conversations, but keeping up with the questions other members ask and the answers provided has resolved many of the issues I’ve had with my own blog.

It’s very impressive to me that Scrivs makes himself available through the forum almost every day. He does this to make sure that each member is getting the direction that they wanted when they first purchased their membership.

However, even if he is not available, there are always other members online. Many of them are experienced enough that they can answer lots of the questions that come up.

4. BBC is not for everyone

As much as I love BBC, it is not the right program for every blogger. I respond well to the way Scrivs teaches his video courses, and I am determined to be successful, come what way.

It’s also quite an investment. In fact, when membership opens up again in a few days, the purchase price will be $397 US. In my mind, it is well worth that price because the information I have gleaned so far has more than paid for itself.

But it’s a hefty investment, so you should not buy it unless you are very serious about putting in the time and effort that is required to make a blog successful. It’s hard work and takes a lot of time, at least in the beginning.

The good news is that if you think you might be interested, there is a free Blogging Bootcamp available on the top of the main Billionaire Blog Club page. The Bootcamp lets you learn a little more about Scrivs and his teaching style without any obligation.

Note: Scrivs is very real and not afraid to say whatever needs to be said. Personally, I need that type of mentor, but some people might want someone that is going to be all sunshine and rainbows. That’s not Scrivs, though he is awesome and super funny.

Anyway, back to the free Blogging Bootcamp. If you decide to give it a try, you can see what BBC is all about and then make an informed decision on whether you feel the investment is worth it.

Back to May

Wow, I really did not intend to make this a Billionaire Blog Club infomercial. I have learned a lot from BBC, though. It is directly responsible for many of the right decisions I have made along the way.

More happened in May, though, that I want to share.

June 2018 Twitter stats - Tale of a New Blogger Part 6
Stats as of 6/12/2018

One, I will share this number. For whatever reason, I am a little obsessed with Twitter. I’m not entirely sure why it resonates with me so much, but I find myself on the platform several times a day. As a result, I am up to 8,900 followers as of today. If we’re not already connected, be sure to look me up on Twitter and say hello.

I continue to be astounded at how many amazing and talented authors are on Twitter and how encouraging they are to other writers. I mentioned a few of them in Lesson 15 of the I’ve Learned series. There’s not enough room in a post to list everyone that has encouraged or inspired me.

Another win (see, May wasn’t entirely bad), is that my blog continues to gain followers through WordPress. I think I’m at 122 now, which isn’t earthshaking, but very exciting to me.

If you are one of my followers, thank you so much for being here!

Getting Organized

Another win I can count for May involves getting better organized. On another blog I read an article about AirTable. AirTable is a database and spreadsheet hybrid, for lack of a better definition. I intend to devote a future post to detailing just how I am using it.

It has been instrumental in getting me organized, especially in regard to keeping up with my blog posts and posting calendar and with tracking pin activity for Pinterest.

The Pinterest thing is finally starting to come together, mainly because I am actually following the directions. I talk about that a little in my post on why you should include Pinterest pins in your blog posts.

What I love about AirTable, more than Excel or Google Sheets, is the versatility of their system. For instance, I am in the process of making multiple pins for each blog post. Tracking what board or tribe I then place that pin on was getting a bit chaotic.

Not only can I now track pin activity and placement, I can also drag and drop the pin image right into the tracking spreadsheet. This is an image of part of my tracking sheet.

AirTable image

AirTable autosaves every few minutes and can be accessed from any internet connected device, so I always have access to my information and it is always up to date.

The best part? Many of the most valuable features from AirTable are free to use. In fact, I have not paid one penny so far for using it. However, it has done a lot to get me properly organized. At some point I may upgrade. For now, the free features are plenty to get me where I need to go.

If you need to get better organized, I strongly recommend giving it a test spin. Remember, it’s free, so you have nothing to lose.

When Did I Get So Wordy?

In the very early days of starting my blog (like six months is really a long time ago), I read a lot of articles about how the most successful blog posts are 1000-2000 words long or longer. Those numbers scared the life out of me. After all, it took me 15 years to write an 80,000 word novel.

Happily, that fear has quickly gone away. As you can see, one thing I have learned to do is to sit down and knock out a detailed and informative post at well over 2000 words. Woo hoo! Another win!

The other happy benefit is that this ability to sit down and write is carrying over into my other works as well. My science fiction work-in-progress, Paradise, is finally getting the attention it needs, and the story is going in the right direction. I can’t wait to share the coming chapters with all of you over the next several weeks.

Thank you for visiting this blog

It’s All Because of You

I want to close this month by offering a heartfelt thank you to all of you that visit my blog on a regular basis. Every time I see that page view count or follower count increase, my heart jumps a little.

Launching my debut novel in November was scary. I didn’t know if I had any real talent or if my writing would connect with anyone. Many of you are coming back week after week. That means either I actually have a little talent, or y’all just like bad writing. I’m hoping for the first one.

Whatever brings you here, thanks for coming. I hope you keep coming back.

Be sure to think about trying the Billionaire Blog Club Blogging Bootcamp and the AirTable organizer. Both are free and may solve some of the issues you might be facing. If you have any questions on either one, please contact me.

Finally, blogs grow by being shared. If you enjoy the content on this site, please share it on social media and with your friends. It will mean the world to me if you do.

Until next time…

Share in the honest, real experience of a new blogger. This post looks at the wins and losses from the sixth month. | #blog #blogger #bloggingShare in the honest, real experience of a new blogger. This post looks at the wins and losses from the sixth month. | #blog #blogger #blogging

Paradise WIP – Chapter 16

Author’s Note: Hello, dear readers. Thank you for continuing to share in my journey of writing a new science fiction novel. This week’s chapter picks up the continue conversation in the med bay between Roman, Max and Sam. Decisions are made and a new mission is started. If you are new to this story, you can read all 15 previous chapters online. Please keep in mind that this is a work in process and that the first draft is being shared as it is written. Please be gentle in regard to any mistakes or inconsistencies. Let’s jump in.

Paradise WIP

Chapter 16

The Plax war had been going on for years. Though I couldn’t remember most of those years, it seemed impossible to me that not one Plax had been captured in all that time. Our side had suffered lots of casualties. There was no way that we couldn’t have caused at least some casualties on the other side.

Sam confirmed that I was partially right. We had blasted their ships out of the air. We had destroyed their large mechanical monsters. I made a mental note that I would ask later what she meant by that. We had bombed locations that we thought they were using as a base or staging area. Through all the fighting, not one place had even been captured. Not a single corpse had ever been found. Worse still, no human had clearly ever seen a Plax.

“That’s impossible!” I couldn’t control myself. “Utterly impossible!”

“Have you seen one?” Max was all business.

“In the other bunker we saw one!”

“Really?” Max crossed her arms and sat back in her chair. “Tell me, General, what did you see?”

I thought back and felt a shudder trying to run through me. It had been very dark. We were in the other medical bay. Max had grabbed me and pulled me into a storage cabinet.

“They have glowing eyes,” I told her, feeling a little vindicated.

“And?” She was completely unmoved.

That's impossible! I couldn't control myself. - Paradise a science fiction work in progress

I thought hard but no other details seemed to be in my mind.

“I’ve got amnesia!” I finally blurted out. “But I am not the only soldier that has been fighting the Plax. How could it be that no one has ever seen one?”

“Think about what you remember.” Max wasn’t willing to give me an inch.

“It was too dark. I didn’t see anything but those four glowing eyes. Gold eyes.”

“And then?”

“And then what? The next thing I knew it was gone. I want to say it jumped to the ceiling.”

Max stood up with a smirk on her face. “And that, dear General, describes virtually every confrontation with the Plax.”

Sam was a little kinder to me. “They only attack when it is very dark. If there is power, they always disable the power before they attack. When the fighting is over, there is never anything left behind.”

“That’s impossible!” It was difficult but I got to my feet so I could pace the room. “There has to dead ones somewhere. Not everyone of the infernal creatures can possibly escape every time. They can’t be immortal.”

“No, if they were, they wouldn’t be here.” Max didn’t really direct her comment at anyone.

“And what does that mean?”

“There has to be a reason they are here,” Sam told me. “They wouldn’t have come to the planet and started a war for no reason. They are technologically far advanced over us. They could have easily have wiped us all out already if they only wanted the planet. But instead, they have taken the time to learn how to interact with and control us. There is something they need or want. We spell some solution to whatever problem they are facing.”

“That’s what he said.” I thought back to hiding in the brush with Peadar when we saw Gregg and Todd talking.

“That’s what who said?” I had inadvertently gotten Max’s attention.

“Gregg or Todd. I can’t remember which one said it. When Peadar and I were watching them, one of them said something about needing us.”

Max and Sam locked eyes.

“We have to go today,” Sam said. Max nodded in agreement.

When Peadar and I were watching them, one of them said something about needing us. - Paradise a science fiction work in progress

Though neither one of them thought it was a good idea, I insisted that I go along on the mission. Max decided she would stay behind but insisted we take one of her burly nurses with us in case anyone, meaning me, needed medical attention. I didn’t object. Benjamin was a big, muscular man and didn’t look like he would have any trouble carrying me if the need arose.

The fourth member of our party was Menton. She was the only person that Max and Sam could agree upon that they both felt could not possibly be a Plax. I tried arguing with them that if there were any Plax amongst us we would likely all already be dead or prisoners, but the two of them talked on as if I wasn’t there. In the end, I found my way to one of the beds and took a nap.

 

“What’s the plan?” I asked. The four of us had cleared the section of the cave that was narrowest and the section we had to crawl through. The section we were in was wide enough that Sam and I could walk beside each other. Menton insisted on taking point and Benjamin had evidently been ordered to stay in the back. I decided it wasn’t worth arguing with him.

Sam glanced at Menton and then nodded slightly to Benjamin.

“Sam, seriously? If they can’t be trusted, then we are already done for.”

“Fine,” she was irritated with me but didn’t put up any fight. “We have a new potential weapon.”

“Potential?”

“It’s not been tested yet.”

“That instills me with confidence.” I mumbled.

“Roman, if we didn’t have something new we wouldn’t even try. Or did you forget that we have never captured a Plax before?”

“I’m sorry.” I wasn’t really, but the words were out of my mouth before I thought about them.

She ignored my platitude and continued. “Ideally, it would be great if we could catch one alive. Since that has never happened, we’ll have to be satisfied with killing one and hope there is something we can bring back to Max.”

“That seems like a tall order for four people, especially since I am barely half a person right now.”

“We weren’t sure who we could trust,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean we will necessarily be alone.”

“No? How did I miss this part of the plan?”

She shot me a disapproving glance and another “I’m sorry” slipped out. She had me well trained.

“The thought process,” she was gritting her teeth as she spoke, “is that a small party might be able to get around easier without getting noticed. If we can surprised one that would be are best chance at success.”

“And if we can’t?”

“If we have to go all the way to the surface to find one, there are people we can contact to help us.”

“The surface?” I stopped walking. I had neither considered meeting up with the Plax in the cave nor venturing all the way to the surface to find one. “I didn’t think there was anyone on the surface.”

If we have to go all the way to the surface to find one... - Paradise a science fiction work in progress

“Probably not many in the immediate area. Most everyone that was left went down with us when we found the first bunker. A few brave souls chose to stay above to serve as watchers and to keep tabs on any possible changes.”

“What if they are all…” I didn’t want to finish my sentence. “Gone?”

“I can’t imagine we are the only humans alive. It might take a little longer, but we can always contact another cell. Worst case scenario, we contact the Hyatt.”

“The Hyatt? I know I don’t remember much, but isn’t that an incredibly terrible idea?”

“It’s not my first choice, that’s for sure,” she said. “If what you said is true, we have to find out. No matter what it takes. The Hyatt may be a necessary evil to reaching our goal.”

I imagined men larger than Peadar taking us captive. The Hyatt was not an option I wanted to rely on.

“Come on,” she nodded ahead. “It’s still quite a distance to the other bunker so we need to keep moving. With only four of us, I would rather not sleep in the caves.”

“Agreed,” Benjamin chimed in from behind us. I had forgotten he was there.

“Very well,” I said, and we trudged on.

Author’s Note: That’s it for this week. New posts are uploaded every Tuesday, so be sure to check back next week. I would love to have your input. Please share your comments below or send a message through the contact page.

Keep reading:

Paradise WIP – Chapter 17

 

Paradise Chapter 16 - a science fiction work in progress by Wolfe Butler. #scifi #sciencefiction #WIP

Why Bloggers Should Include Pinterest Pins in Their Posts

If you are a blogger and not using PInterest, you need to change that today. Many blogs are getting 400,000 or more pages views each month almost exclusively from PInterest.

I am not one of those bloggers – yet. However, I am seeing big gains from Pinterest. More on that below and in a future post.

Today, I want to talk about why you should be using Pinterest.

First, though, let’s look at some Pinterest basics.

Pinterest is an amazing platform that can produce lots of free traffic. Learn some basics and why you should include tall pins in every blog post. | #Pinterest #SocialMedia #BloggingTips

More Than Just Recipes

Somewhere along the line, Pinterest got the reputation of being just a recipe site. While it’s true there are millions of amazing recipes (I have gotten a lot of great ones, including my favorite potato soup recipe), it is also so much more. Amazingly, almost all of those recipes are found on blogs. That’s million on blog pages represented. So you can imagine the huge potential available with Pinterest.

It’s considered a social media site, but it is very different than Twitter or Facebook. Pinterest is more of a large search engine with visual search.

Suppose you are interested in finding tips on how to increase blog traffic. Typing “increase blog traffic” in the search bar on the site will bring up hundreds of images related to that search term. When you find something you like, you can click the image, also called a pin, to go to the site referenced, or click “save” and have that image saved to your personal board for later use. Saving an image is called pinning.

Think of a board like a traditional bulletin board. You can save each pin you are interested in onto one board, or you can created individual boards for each category. My boards include titles like:

  • Author Interviews
  • Blogging
  • Book Reviews
  • Book Trailers
  • Life Lessons
  • And lots more!

You can see my boards by clicking this line.

Wise pinners know that if they are making their own pins (images) that they need to include valuable text with the image. The reason for this is because many people won’t read the pin description, no matter how wonderful it might be.

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 5 of the Blogger Experience

Which would you click on?

Example A
Example B

Here are two examples of what pins might look like on Pinterest. Both pins might have the same description saying how the post can increase traffic.

Look at each image and decide which one you would be more inclined to click on. If you didn’t decide Example B, well… I don’t even know what to say. But I’m confident you picked Example A.

Suppose both pins were take you to the same place. In this case, they do. Clicking either one will take you to my home page.

The splendor of Pinterest is driven by the fact that people are drawn to shiny things. Represent your blog with something shiny enough, and lots of people will click through to visit your blog. Millions of blog visits are logged each day. The best part for you? Pinterest is completely free.

Create Pins in Minutes

If you follow my blog, or me on social media, you have heard of my addiction to Canva. I am not an affiliate, so that is not an affiliate link.

Canva is a wonderful designing platform that makes creating pins, and graphics in general, incredibly easy. Nearly all of my blog images were created on their site.

When you are first getting started, you can click on any one of a large selection of great templates. That template can then be updated with your blog title and web address. Voila! You have a beautiful new pin.

Canva is free to try. You can create lots of great pins for free, and for as long as you want. Not all options are open to free members, so if you find yourself using it a lot, you may want to upgrade. Lots of bloggers only ever use the free option.

How To Be The Good You Want to See

Size Matters

I won’t bore you with the statistics here, but not all pins perform in the same way. Square images and short rectangles have a much lower response rate than tall pins. Tall pins, like the examples above, usually are twice as high as they are wide, but many are much taller.

Again, Canva takes all the work out of the equation. From your home screen when you sign in, just click “Pinterest Graphic” and the size is set up automatically.

If you’re not already on Pinterest, take a moment to go browse the site. Notice which pins draw your attention. Most likely, the ones you most like are not square or short. Studies also show that using yellow or pink in the pin text gets more attention. See Example B above.

Once you have created an image you like, simply download it to your computer. Be sure to note which folder you save the file into.

Canva does a great job with their tutorials, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. If you find yourself with a lot of questions, let me know and I will help as I can.

Adding Your Pin to Pinterest

Adding new images to Pinterest is really easy. From any page, click the red circle in the upper right-hand corner, and then click “Create Pin.”

A new window will pop up that looks like this.

Either drag your new pin image into the box on the left, or click in the box to search for the folder where the pin is saved.

Next, copy a link to the blog page you want readers to reach by clicking your pin. The easiest way to do this is to pull up the post in your browser window and then copy the address from the browser and paste it in the Website box.

Then you will want to enter a description. It doesn’t have to be long, but say something about what readers might find on the blog page. Usually one or two sentences are plenty.

Most people won’t read this information, but enough of them will to make it worth spending a few minutes writing a good description. In addition, completing the description increases the chances of your pin coming up in the searches of other users.

Try to use some keywords in your description. Keywords should be applicable to your site and the post the pin will be attached to. Hashtags can also be entered in this box. If you already select tags when publishing a blog post, those same tags would be good keywords for your pin.

When all three boxes are complete, the “Done” button on the bottom right will turn red. Click it and you’ll be taken to a list of  all your boards. Save the pin to an appropriate board. That’s it. You have just created free advertising for your blog.

Where You Might Be Missing Out

No doubt you know the value of having social media sharing buttons on your blog. You took the time to make sure the buttons were there so that people could easily share your content.

Pinterest is a little different than the other options. If someone clicks the Pinterest share button, they may see something like this:

 

Remember, tall pins perform much better. With that it in mind, when someone clicks on the Pinterest share button, you want them to have a tall image option. This is why you should always include at least one pin in every post. Right now, I am in the process of updating all of my posts so there is always at least one tall pin available.

Side note: Up above, in the section on adding your pin to Pinterest, one of the things you need to complete is the pin description. You don’t want your readers to have to fill in this information when they are sharing a pin from your site. The good news, you can do it for them.

Each time you upload a picture to your blog, there should be an Alt Tag field for that picture. You are probably in the habit of leaving that blank or ignoring it altogether. It’s important that you change that habit for any pins you want shared. Put in the Alt Tag field the same information you would put in the Pin Description box if you would adding the pin directly to Pinterest.

The Alt Tag information automatically becomes the Pin Description when a reader share the pin.

Interestingly, over the past few weeks I have visited A LOT of blogs. Very few included pin-worthy images in their posts. That means lots of readers might not be sharing posts because they only want to share good pins to their boards.

One is Great, Two (or More) is Better

When putting pins on Pinterest, you are not limited to one pin image for one website link. Many blogging experts recommend that you have several different pin images for each post.

Scrivs from Billionaire Blog Club, recommends 6-15 pins per post. Still other Pinterest power-players recommend 30 pins or more for each post. I started with five and am working my way up from there.

Until you get the hang of things, I recommend only doing two or three pins. I recommend this for two reasons.

One, it can feel a bit overwhelming, unless you are a natural creative, to come up with 15 or more unique pin designs.

Two, uploading a lot of pins for the same post all at one time can look spammy. Instead, upload a couple pins for each post and then produce a few more pins for each post every couple weeks.

Does It Work?

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I have known most of this information for some time. Unfortunately, I did not really put it into application until last week. It took a particularly blunt and motivating email from Scrivs at Billionaire Blog Club to get me going in the right direction.

It takes a little time for pins to gain traction, but once they do, they should take off. Pins typically continue to produce traffic for about four months. However, when one is reaching the end of its cycle, you can simply pin it to a new board or create it again and the cycle starts over.

Does it work? I don’t have a lot of time to go on, but I am seeing big changes. My numbers aren’t impressive (page views have been awful in May), but look at the change.

And, I fully believe, it is just getting started. Here are my referrals for May (again, May was a dismal month), and my referrals for June through today, which is June 6 as I write this.

May 2018
June 6, 2018

I’ve gotten more than three times ad many referrals from Pinterest in six days as compared to 31 days of May. I couldn’t be more excited.

My New Obsession

Moving forward, I am going to have another obsession in addition to Canva. Pinterest is quickly becoming my new best friend. This trend should continue, and I will share updates in future posts.

Great pins are only one of the keys to success with Pinterest. Group Boards and Tribes can be tremendous forces for growth. I am just learning about both, so a future post will discuss how these tools can help you, too.

I hope this information helps you. If you start sharing on Pinterest, be sure to let me know your results.

You work hard to create quality content for your blog. Make sure more people see your pages by adding a Pinterest pin to every post. Simple steps included. | #Pinterest #BloggingTips

 

Paradise WIP – Chapter 15

Author’s Introduction: Welcome to the next chapter of the science fiction, work-in-progress, Paradise. Last week, we were left with the thought that everything had to change. That conversation continues this week.

If you are new to this story, chapters 1-14 are all online. The tale is being shared as it is written. That means it’s a first draft with very little editing. If you are enjoying it, please share with someone else or on social media.

Chapter 15

Neither Sam or Max spoke for several minutes. I was weak and made my way to a chair to sit down. Nothing that was happening made sense to me, but the look on both their faces told me that they thought this piece of information was game changing.

Another few minutes passed in silence. Then, suddenly, Max was back on her feet.

“We have to wake everyone.” She was back in emergency mode and headed toward the door.

“No,” Sam grabbed her arm and swung her back around. “What if?”

Some new realization hit Max and she reached out to grab Sam like the room had suddenly been tipped and she needed stability to keep from falling.

“No, we can’t.” Max nearly whispered.

More silence.

Finally I couldn’t stand it.

“What is going on?” The words came out much louder than I expected.

They both turned to look at me. Max walked over and closed the med bay door, turning the wheel on it to make sure it was locked closed. Her action send a chill up my spine, though I wasn’t sure why.

Sam came and sat next to me while Max grabbed a chair from across the room and sat it in front of us. The chair was so close that our knees touched when she sat down.

Max opened mouth, but the words that she spoke were so soft that I had to read her lips to understand. “Who have you told?”

“Told what?”

My normal voice volume turned Max’s face into a fierce expression. Sam put her hand on my arm.

“We have to be quiet,” Sam whispered. “Just in case.”

“Quiet?” I was flabbergasted. “We are in a bunker. The walls are concrete and steel. The door is solid metal. Who could possibly hear us?”

 

Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post also contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you. It’s how I keep the lights on.


 

My speech brought further rage to Max’s face.

“If you weren’t the general,” she hissed at me.

“I…,” I stopped and lowered my voice. “I don’t understand what is happening here.”

My honest truth seemed to soften Max a little.

“Roman,” Sam started slowly. “The implications are enormous. If they can be anything, they can be anywhere.”

“It wasn’t real!” I chuckled out loud in spite of myself.

“There is nothing funny about this!” Max was back on her feet and walked to the other side of the room. Something told me she moved to keep from hitting me.

“I’m sorry. I really am. But, Sam, really. You told me the compound was a construct created by bots in my brain. Why would anything in that world trouble you? It wasn’t real.”

“Oh, Roman.” There were tears in Sam’s eyes. She turned and looked at Max and Max visibly relaxed. “We sometimes forget that you don’t remember.”

Max made her way back over to us and sat down. “This is how a construct works,” she began. “The Plax know that our brains will reject anything that isn’t possible. For that reason, the construct is carefully crafted to create a world that will feel real, a world where the subject won’t question the new reality.”

“Yes?” I still didn’t understand.

“The brain can accept certain new stimuli, but in the end, everything must be believable. Probably part of the reason your construct failed was because your brain knew that paradise wasn’t possible. Part of your brain could not reconcile the devastation you have seen in the real world with the wonders of the unreality.”

“That part I understand.”


 

“The Plax are not creative,” she went on. “Their initial constructs didn’t work because the subject immediately knew it wasn’t real. The subjects that survived described an endless room that was either white or black. No walls, windows, floor or ceiling. No objects. It was immediately clear it couldn’t be real.

“What the Plax miss in creativity they make up in ingenuity. They didn’t know what the Earth had looked like before we destroyed it. Not really. So they figured out a way to access our dreams. They turned our dreams into a weapon.”

“How would I have ever dreamt of paradise if I’ve never seen it?”

“They don’t have to use the subject’s dreams. Any dreams that they harvest can be used. Dreams are effective because our brains are designed to accept them. Even impossible things are acceptable in a dream because our brain instinctively knows that dreaming is essential to mental health.”

“Okay?” I was still a long way from understanding. “How does a dream change anything in the real world?”

“It goes back to their inability to be creative.” It was Sam’s turn to try to explain. “The Plax can create worlds that we will believe in, worlds that our minds can accept. Our dreams gave them that power.”

Still no lights were coming on.

“The dream data can help them to create our worlds.” Her voice stuck a little and she paused before going on. “We… we have never imagined the Plax. No one ever dreamed of them or what they might be. They knew they had to be part of any construct because that is the only way they can control and improve the construct. They have to be part of the construct so they can manage what happens and improve it for future victims.”

“I think I understand, at least some,” I told them. “But I don’t understand why the fact that I saw shapeshifters upset you so much.”

“No creativity,” Max barked. “They couldn’t change what they are. That means that most likely they inserted themselves as they actually are.”

“But that would mean…” A cold chill was creeping up my spine.

“That would mean that they are shapeshifters. It also means they can be anywhere. Or anyone.”

“There’s only one way we can know.” Sam was looking at Max as she spoke.

Max understood perfectly. “We’re going to have to catch one.”

Author Note: That’s it until next Tuesday. Again, please share this story with others. I’m also interested in your input. Let me know your thoughts below. Thank you!

One man trapped between two realities with no memory to guide him. Paradise is a science fiction work in progress. Chapters 1-15 now available. #SciFi #ScienceFiction

 

 

Q&A With Wolfe Butler by Kristy Jo Volchko

Q&A With Wolfe Butler by Kristy Jo Volchko

I had the wonderful privilege of being interviewed by Kristy Jo Volchko on her site recently. Mostly we talked about my book, Getting Home, but she also asked some additional interesting questions. You can read the complete interview through the link below.

Q&A With Wolfe Butler

via Q&A With Wolfe Butler