All posts by Wolfe Butler

I have been an avid writer and reader since I was old enough to write and read. I grew up in a small midwest community. Now I am most at home in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. Getting Home is my debut novel. Others will follow.

Paradise WIP – Chapter 21

Author’s Note: Welcome to another week of Paradise, a science fiction work-in-progress. If you have just stumbled upon this site, each week new chapters are posted as they are written. This is a first draft so please keep in mind that there will be mistakes and possible inconsistencies.

Last week, the chapter ended with Menton jumping into full flight mode. Let’s see what happens next.

Read the story from the beginning by clicking here.

 

Chapter 21

Everything blurred past me as Menton bounded along down the hall with gazelle-like strides. She had seen or heard something to make her run but wasn’t willing to take the time to clue me in. She was running in the same direction we had been walking, so at first, I wasn’t sure if she was running to safety or running into battle.

The wait for an answer was short as just as swiftly she swung me down from her shoulder and set me down against a wall.

“Don’t make a sound and don’t move,” she commanded me. In another second, she had bounded so much further down the cave that I couldn’t see where she went.

My headlamp was still shining, but the cave was wider where I was sitting and the light did not penetrate the dark far enough for me to see the opposite wall. A chill caressed my spine as I imagined what could be in the dark.

Chapter 21 alien invasion, science fiction work-in-progress is now available to read online for free . New Chapters are posted each week. | #scifi #sciencefiction #firstdraft #amwriting #amwritingscifi

The shriek of weapon fire soon startled me into the reality of our situation. The orange light flashed in quick bursts far ahead of me in the tunnel. Frantically, with my heart in battle mode, I began to search the wall behind me for an opening. I was sure there was a reason why Menton had put me down where she did.

Crawling forward a little, I did find another opening in the rock. It was a little bigger than the last one I had to crawl through and not near as long. My head was clear of the wall before my knees had entered the opened.

It was dank and musty on the other side. Water was running down the far wall and in a stream that cut a path at the base of the wall. The “far wall” is a bit of a misnomer because the opening was so small I could almost reach it from where I stood. A quick inspection of the other three walls revealed nothing but a few cave crickets. I huddled close to the entrance after taking off my chest plate armor. The only weapon I had been carrying had disappeared during Menton’s epic sprint. I decided that if anything stuck a head or anything else through the opening that my armor would be enough to chop its head off.

Weapon fire continued far up the cave but the sound was muffled from my new vantage point. Moments later the firing stopped and an eerie silence enveloped me. There was some comfort in the trickle of the water running down the wall even if the water might be poisoned. At least I wasn’t in total silence.

It seemed like a long time before I heard movement outside the opening. I readied my shield to bash anything the came through.



“Roman?” came my name in a whisper. A wave of relief washed over me as I realized it was Sam’s voice.

“Sam?”

“Yeah, it’s me. It’s safe now. You can come out.”

I clung tightly to the shield as I slithered back out of the opening. Sam was the only one there to greet me.

“Where are Benjamin and Menton?” I asked, fearing the worst.

“Up ahead,” she nodded. “Don’t worry, they are fine. Whatever was here is gone now.”

“Gone where?”

“If I knew that, I wouldn’t be here getting you.”

“Nice,” I reproached her.

“Of course, I’m kidding.” I was looking at her but I was sure she was smirking at me.

“I lost my weapon,” I told her, changing the subject. “It must have fallen when Menton was carrying me.”

“Menton has it,” she informed me.

“Menton has it?” I was incensed. “What was I supposed to use to defend myself.”

Sam laughed out and then caught herself because she was still trying to be quiet.

“Roman, she knew this part of the cave was clear. She took her stance at a bottleneck to make sure nothing got past her. You were never going to need your weapon.”

Read 7 Reasons to Never Give Up

 

I wanted to put faith in her words but would have felt more secure with some form of defense in my hands.

Menton and Benjamin were standing guard at the choke point.

“Did you see anything?” I asked them.

“We never do,” Benjamin replied. “And that’s the problem.”

“So, what do we do?” I asked.

Menton turned to me and I was sure there was a hint of disapproval in her eyes.

“Um, General, sir,” she started, “I don’t hear anything. It should be safe to move forward.”

“What did you hear?” I wanted to know, still unsure as to how she knew there was trouble ahead.

“Enhancements,” Sam muttered, gesturing to her ear.

“Ah, okay.” I dropped the subject.

Our pack trudged forward and soon came to a large metal sliding door. It took all four of us to slide it open far enough that we could get through it. On the other side was the interior so large that I couldn’t see the other side.

“Where are we?” I asked just inside the door.

“They used to build airplanes here for the military,” Sam informed me. “Everything has been long since scavenged, though.”

For reasons that weren’t clear to me, Sam insisted we close the sliding door behind us. The stubborn door insisted on the strength of the four of us combined before it was willing to budge. I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if one of us did not make it back from our mission.

Read Why You Should sometimes Drop Back And Punt

 

The hangar led to a number of builders that once had been a military base. Every room and hallway was strewn with debris and years of collected dust and cobwebs. I couldn’t help but notice that every so often there was a glass box on the wall with a red button inside.

“Sam,” I finally started, “what’s the deal with the red button.”

“Blast doors,” she told me. “They still work as far as I know.” She pointed to a metal seam that ran vertically up the wall near one of the buttons. “Press the button and a metal door instantly seals the corridor. Be careful, though,” she warned. “The doors are propelled by explosives. If you are not clear before you push the button, you will lose a hand or worse.”

I made a mental note, “Stay away from the red buttons.”

Deep in the base, we entered a small room just big enough for the four of us to lie on the floor.

“We’ll stay here tonight,” she told me. “Nothing can get into this room once we seal the door. Tomorrow we meet our help.”

“Who exactly are we meeting?” I asked her.

“You don’t want to know,” was her only reply.

*****

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Exhaustion pulled me quickly to the floor. It seemed like I had no more than closed my eyes when there was pounding on the door. My heart began to race, but Sam was confident that the Plax would not knock and she sprung open and opened the heavy door.

Standing outside the door was a mountain of a man that would have made even Peadar appear small. With a sour grimace on his face, he only said two words, “Let’s move.”

I was able to learn that his name was Chet before his harsh stare told us that he did not want any talking. Not far from where he had found us, we came to what appeared to be a dead end. The wall in front of us began to move and gave us a view of a long, downward sloping corridor. We walked down the corridor for at least twenty minutes before we reached a door. Along the way, there were the dangerous red buttons every fifty feet or so.

The room we entered was large. At least thirty people turned to look at us as we entered, and the room fell silent.

“Volunteers?” Chet barked out, and all the hands in the room went up with the exception of the four of us from the bunker. There was a distinct impression that “volunteer” did not carry the meaning we were used to. Something told me it was going to be an unforgettable day.

Author’s Note: Thank you for coming along with my on this journey. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Paradise WIP – Chapter 20

Author’s Note: Hello, readers! I don’t know about you, but these summer weeks seem to be flying by. That said, I have set the goal of finishing the first draft of Paradise by the end of August. I will continue to post a new chapter each week, but hopefully by fall, you’ll be able to have a copy of the finished book. More news coming soon!

Last week, we left Roman disappointed that he was not able to communicate with Jasmine like he had planned. I’m not giving up hope, though, and neither should you. This week, we’ll learn a little more about Peadar, Menton, and the Hyatt. Enjoy!

 

Chapter 20 of the dual-reality, science fiction work-in-progress is now available to read for free online. New Chapters each week. | #scifi #sciencefiction #firstdraft #amwriting #amwritingscifi

Chapter 20

I went to sleep that night trying to formulate a plan of how I might be able to reach Jasmine, but the next time I opened my eyes, I was back in the caves. Someone was dragging me along the corridor.

“Stop!” I called out. I couldn’t see who it was because they were pulling me by the back of my body shield.

“General?” It was Menton’s voice. She let go of my shield without warning, and my body fell hard against the ground.

“Where are we?” I asked, struggling to get myself up.

“We’re heading back to the bunker. You’ve been unconscious again.”

I thought back to the event that had sent me mentally to the compound again. A rush of gratitude swept through me as I realized I would not have to make my way out through that tight passageway.

“How long was I out this time?”

“Less than eight hours,” she told me, and that gave me some relief. I hoped it meant that I could trust that the compound really was the construct and that I was back in the real world.

“Good. Where are Sam and Benjamin?”

“They continued toward the surface.”

“Without us?” The mission was going to be dangerous enough with four people. There was no way two people on their own could accomplish it.

Read the story from the beginning. Click below.

Paradise WIP

“Sam didn’t want to give up. You were unconscious, so she decided it would be best for me to take you back. You may still have bots in your head.”

“I’m pretty sure I do,” I agree. “But there is no way Sam and Benjamin can do this on their own. How much of a lead do they have?”

“A couple hours. We didn’t come out into the corridor until this morning.”

“Good. That means if we move quickly, we can catch them. How far are we from the surface?”

“Not far,” she told me. “They should reach it in the next couple of hours.”

“Then we better hurry.” I started walking in the direction of the surface.

“Sir,” Menton was beside me in a flash and took hold of my arm. “You’re not well. You’ve been very weak and were just unconscious. I have orders to take you back to the bunker.”

“I’m alive,” I told her, a bit more brusquely than I intended. “The success of this mission has much better odds with more people. Even if my only asset is to serve as bait, it’s still better to have four rather than two.”

From her face, I could see she was considering my words strategically, but I also knew what instructions Sam had probably given her. She would have been told to ignore me no matter what I said.

“But, sir,” she finally said. “Sam ordered me…”

“I’m sure she did,” I cut her off. “It’s all well and good for Sam to give orders if I’m unconscious. However, when I am awake, I am still the general. Then I give the orders.”

It didn’t feel right for me to say those words. Everyone kept telling me I was the general, but I wished I had the benefit of years of memories and experiences to back up my rank.

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Menton was a good soldier. There was one thing the Hyatt did well, and that was to ingrain the importance of hierarchy into their soldiers.

“Yes, sir,” she replied letting my arm free, and we started walking at a brisk pace.

She was right, I was very weak. It was only a matter of minutes before I started to feel the drain of fatigue and my legs seemed to grow heavier with every step.

“What happened to me?” I asked her in an attempt to distract myself.

“We’re not entirely sure. You got stuck in the entranceway to the saferoom. I had to pull you through the rest of the way, but you were unable to talk and were shaking and rocking back and forth. Sam tried to calm you down, but in a few minutes, you were just unconscious. You didn’t move again until a few minutes ago.”

“Do I have a history of claustrophobia?” I didn’t really want the answer. It wasn’t a great trait for a general to have.

“Sam says that you’ve never liked tight spaces, but she’s never seen anything like it. She thinks there might still be bots at work, struggling to regain control. That’s why she wanted me to get you back to Max.”

The fact that I’d been back in the compound made that likely true, but I decided not to share that part of my episode with Menton.

“We’ll go back soon enough,” I assured her. “But not without our prize. This mission will be a success.”

“Yes, sir.”

We walked on in silence for several more minutes. The distraction had not been enough. Fatigue continued to pull down on me.

“Menton?” I started some time later.

“Yes, sir?”

“Could you talk to me?” I felt like a child asking a parent to read a book.

“Sir?” She stopped and looked at me.

Sometimes, the best you can do is step back and try again. Read Lesson 15 for more.

Why You Should Drop Back And Punt

I didn’t want to appear weak, but I knew there was no way I would be able to keep going for very long without something to think about other than the weight of my legs and body armor.

“I’m struggling,” I told her honestly. “I’m weaker than I want to admit, but I don’t want to go back. Maybe if you talk to me, you can distract me.”

“I could carry you,” she offered. The option was appealing, but I wanted her to save her strength to protect Sam when the time came.

“I’m not there yet,” I told her. “I just need something else to think about. Something to concentrate on other than the weight of my legs and body armor.”

“Okay.” We started walking again, but many more minutes passed without her saying a word.

I glanced over at her face. She appeared to be perplexed but wasn’t saying anything.

“Menton?” I said after more minutes passed.

“I don’t know what to talk about, sir.”

I chuckled in spite of myself. She was unfazed or at least appeared to be.

“Tell me about Peadar,” I finally said.

“Peadar? But you remember Peadar.”

“I only know what I’ve seen of Peadar in the compound. I don’t know if any of it is real, but you knew him well, didn’t you?”

Even in the darkness, I could see the hint of tears develop in her eyes. They shone like crystal on her otherwise stone face.

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“Yes, sir.” There was sadness in her voice.

“Tell me about him, please.”

“What would you like to know?” she asked me.

“Whatever you want to tell me.”

She didn’t speak again for some time. I was about ready to give up and just ask her to carry me when she finally started talking.

“We met when we were with the Hyatt. Neither of us had been there for more than a few days. Peadar was kind. Most of the other kids were already soldiers or had the soldier mindset. Peadar was different.”

“How so?”

“Fights were common in the barracks, especially among the fish.”

“The ‘fish’?” I didn’t remember that term.

“Yes, sir. That was what they called us, those of us that were new. We were fish because we had been recently captured.”

“Captured?”

“Yes, sir. You know about the Hyatt, right?”

I knew a little from what Sam and Peadar had told me, but I didn’t remember anything about “fish.”

“Let’s say I don’t,” I told her ambiguously.

“Yes, sir. The Hyatt’s recruitment process isn’t one where they ask people to join them. Instead, they go out to areas, or at least they did when there were more of us on the surface, and look for kids that have lost their parents or become separated from their families.”


I struggled to remember the world on the surface, but no memories were forthcoming.

“Once they find one, or several, they start tagging them.

“What’s ‘tagging’?”

“Tagging is done with a type of dart. They shoot the kids with the dart. There’s a toxin in the dart that makes the kids pliable, almost like zombies, except something in the toxin makes you obedient to orders. There’s also a tracking bot in the dart. Once you’ve been tagged, the Hyatt can always find you. Even strong kids, like Peadar’s brother Mical, who might be a little less responsive to the toxin, can’t escape. The Hyatt wait for you to stop running and then surround you. Once captured, they take you back to one of their camps. They call the new kids, ‘the catch of the day’ or ‘fish.’”

“That’s terrible!”

“Yes, sir,” she agreed with little emotion in her voice. “But most of us wouldn’t have fought if we could have. We were living on the streets, constantly running. Sleep was rare because you never knew when the Plax would show up. The Hyatt offered food and a safe place to sleep. Most of us would have gone with them without the tagging.”

“But you later felt it was important to escape?”

“Yes. Mical saw it first. The Hyatt aren’t much different than the Plax. They did feed us, clothe us, and give us a place to sleep, but we were nothing but tools to them. If one of us was captured or died in the street, they just left us. Even if you were badly injured, you were left behind. I was not a small girl to start with, so it was pretty much guaranteed that I would be on the front lines with the big guys like Mical and Peadar. Mical knew we could have something better. He believed in you.”

“But I was a kid myself, wasn’t I?”

“Yes, you and Mical were the same age, but you were different. Even in the streets, you would share what you had. You wouldn’t eat so that others could. The Hyatt didn’t target you because you weren’t big enough physically. You watched over the other kids that were left behind. Many would have died without you.”

I wished I could remember more of my past.

“I had been alone on the streets,” she went on. “I didn’t have siblings, and my parents just disappeared one day. I was living in the shadows but didn’t escape the Hyatt’s notice. I wasn’t little, but I also wasn’t a fighter. I had been in the barracks for a few days. There was plenty of food, but the bigger kids often took whatever they wanted. They would take your food even if they weren’t hungry, just for the sport of terrorizing other kids. The rough kids usually became the troop leaders.

“Peadar said he had been watching me for a few days. I was keeping my head down, so I really hadn’t noticed anyone. Evening meal was delivered and the kids flocked to get what they could. I waited until most of the kids were gone and went up and got some small portions for myself. I made my way back to a dark corner, but a group of bigger kids followed me. They demanded I give them my food, as they had each of the days prior. Peadar was at the back of the group, and I figured he wanted something from me as well.

“I clutched the little food I had taken. I knew the kids wouldn’t let me go back to get more, and I was so hungry from days of not eating. Just then, I saw a kid fly across the room.”

“Fly?” I asked.

“Yes. Peadar decided he wasn’t going to watch them torment me anymore. Peadar was a big guy before the augmentations started. So, he picked up a few of the kids closest to him and tossed them as far as he could. It only took four before the rest of the kids scattered. I almost ran myself, because I wasn’t sure what Peadar would want with me, but he just came and sat on the floor next to me. He handed me his food and said, ‘Eat.’ Mical came a few minutes later and sat on the other side of me. They protected me from that day forward.”

I felt anger rising inside me as she spoke – anger against the Hyatt for stealing and abusing these kids and anger for the Plax that they had tried to steal Peadar’s memories away from him.

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“Peadar was very kind,” Menton went on. “Mical became a troop leader and got all three of us assigned to his troop. Peadar kept me safe, kept everyone safe that he could.”

“And were you…” I stopped. I got the feeling there was romance between them, but I wasn’t sure if it would be appropriate for me to ask that question.

There was silence again for some time. I was reviewing the memories I did have of Peadar when Menton suddenly spoke again. Her voice was barely a whisper.

“I wanted it,” was all she said, and I was fairly sure the words weren’t meant for me.

Suddenly, Menton’s arm shot up with a tight fist, and she froze in her tracks. Instinctively, I froze as well. She closed her eyes and listened for a moment. I listened, too, but didn’t hear anything but the sound of water dripping in the distance.

“Someone’s close,” she whispered, and in a flash, she had scooped me up and over her shoulder. There was to be no debate this time.

Author’s Note: Thank you for coming by to share another week in my journey of writing this book. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or through the contact page.

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See you next week!

Chapter 20 of the dual-reality, science fiction work-in-progress is now available to read for free online. New Chapters each week. | #scifi #sciencefiction #firstdraft #amwriting #amwritingscifi

Paradise WIP – Chapter 19

Author’s note:

Hello readers! Thank you for coming back to the next chapter in my science fiction work in progress. If you are new here, Paradise is a tale of one memory dealing with no memory and living in two realities. Last week, Roman had returned to the compound, though that shouldn’t have been possible after the surgery Max performed. This week, something new is discovered in the compound.

Please keep in mind, this is a first draft, and it is being shared as it is written. If you notice inconsistencies or glaring errors, please let me know. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Enjoy!

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Chapter 19

The next morning, I again woke in the compound. It didn’t make sense that I should be back there, but I decided to make the best of it.

I was sure that the key to figuring out what was going on could be found in the reconditioning center. Whether the compound was real or not, that center was important to that reality.

It was clear I couldn’t immediately go back to watching the door to the center. They would be watching me. Likely, they had been watching me for some time.

However, they were playing the game differently this time. Not only had they let Peadar come visit me, even telling him I had been injured, but they also allowed us to continue talking. We were even able to sit together at mealtimes.

Peadar was not impressed at the new way I was devouring large amounts of food, but I didn’t care. Real or not, I wanted to enjoy every morsel for as long as I could.

Paradise WIP

For several days, a group of barn workers sat around Peadar and I. It wasn’t clear who among them was the spy or if they all were, but we took the hint and spoke only about things in the compound.

The group quickly grew bored with us and soon let us sit at one of the fringe tables by ourselves.

“What happened?” Peadar asked me one day.

“What do you mean?” There were strawberries on the menu that day, and I was enjoying eating them in small, blissful bites.

“In the center. I know you didn’t fall.”

“No, I’m sure I didn’t fall,” I told him. “But I can’t tell you what happened. The whole time I was gone, I was back in the bunker. I don’t know what happened here.”

“And I’m still not in the bunker?”


I paused from my strawberries for a moment to look at him.

“No, I’m sorry. You’re not there. You died protecting me in that reality.”

“So, if this isn’t real?” He wasn’t really looking for an answer, and I offered none.

He looked down mournfully at his plate. “And we’re sure this is the construct?”

“Honestly?”

He looked back up at me. “Yes, sir.”

“I can’t say unequivocally. I thought for sure the bunker was real. Max found bots in my head and removed them. Life felt normal there, although awful most of the time. The people in the bunker seem just as real as anyone here.”

“So, this might be reality?”

For a moment, I imaged Peadar as a young boy, and I was having to find a way to tell him that his favorite pet had died.

“Again, I can’t say. I don’t know how to figure it out.”

He didn’t say anything for some time.

“Well, then, sir,” he finally said. “Perhaps that should be our new mission.”

It was then that I noticed a girl walking our direction from the barracks. My mind didn’t register anything at first, but it did pick up a hint of familiarity, so I did a doubletake.

“Who’s that?” I asked Peadar, nodding my head in the girl’s direction.

“That’s Jasmine,” he told me.

“Jasmine? From the center?”

“Yes. You really don’t remember?”

I was confused. “Remember what?”

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“The night we saw Gregg and Todd come out of the center, Gregg was carrying something.”

Yes, I remembered that. It had been too dark to see what it was.

“It was her,” Peadar went on. “They let her keep her name, Jasmine, but not much else. They really did a number on her.”

“What do you mean?”

Peadar paused for a minute like he wasn’t sure how to convey what he meant. “She’s not right,” he finally said. “Not upstairs. Something isn’t working right.”

“Still,” I replied, turning my head so no one would notice me paying attention to her, “she’s been in the center. That makes her our best ally.”

“Maybe.” Peadar did not sound as enthusiastic as I felt.

Jasmine didn’t have a work assignment. Instead, she seemed to be just wandering aimlessly around the compound. She didn’t wear the smile that most people did. In fact, she didn’t wear any expression at all.

I watched her much of the afternoon as I was working in the vineyard. There was no discernable pattern in where she walked or when, and I didn’t notice her interact with anyone.

When it was time for evening meal, I watched for her to come in to the dining area, but she never did. After feasting on corn, okra, and candied carrots, I set out to search for her. As luck would have it, I found her near the barn where Peadar worked, and no one else was around.

“Jasmine!” I called after her, but she continued walking at her slow pace.

“Jasmine,” I called out again softer as I got closer. Still, no response.

Finally, I caught up to her and grabbed her gently by the arm. She turned to look in my direction, but I got the clear impression that she wasn’t seeing me.

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“Jasmine, it’s me.”

“Hello,” she said methodically, but her stare and expression remained unchanged.

I lowered my voice to a whisper. “It’s me, General Roman. I need your help.”

No response.

“Jasmine, you’re the only one that has been in the center. I know it’s the key to everything here. I need your help.”

“Hello,” she said again in her monotone way.

Peadar was right. This definitely wasn’t the girl I had talked to in the center.

Just then, Vann appeared from nowhere just behind us.

“Rick,” he said with the smile I wanted to rip from his face, “I see you’ve met Jasmine.”

I didn’t say anything.

“I’d prefer you let her go.” It was clear that Vann was giving me an order, though his smile remained unchanged.

“We were just talking,” I told him.

“Really?” His tone was sarcastic. “Jasmine doesn’t talk a lot, and not usually to people she’s just met.”

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I wanted to confront Vann, but after my conditioning, I wasn’t supposed to remember Jasmine or the center. I also wasn’t sure what they had done to me in the two months I’d been in the bunker, so instead I stood there silently.

“Jasmine used to work in another part of the compound,” Vann started to inform me. It surprised me that he said that because everyone had always said there was nothing other than the part of compound we saw every day.

“She was a very good worker, but one act of carelessness, and she was unavoidably hurt. We’re doing what we can to help her, but I fear she may be forever altered.”

I let go of Jasmine’s arm. It shocked me what Vann was saying. He was giving me a warning. I had a choice to confront him or to pretend like I knew nothing. There was no doubt that Vann couldn’t be trusted, so I opted to remain silent.


Vann came closer and put his arm around Jasmine.

“Come on, young one,” he told her. “Let’s get you back to the barracks.”

“Wait,” I stopped them. I knew it was a mistake, but Jasmine was one of my people. She needed my help.

“Jasmine, has someone hurt you?”

Nothing changed in her pretty face. Her eyes stayed unfocused and fixed forward, looking right through me. After a moment of silence, she muttered another monotone, “Hello.”

Vann’s pleasant smile changed to more of a smirk. “I told you, something unfortunate happened to Jasmine. She’s a dear sweet girl, and we’ll do what we can to help her. In the meantime, she’s a good reminder for all of us as to why we need to follow the rules.”

If I had any doubt that I was being warned, that doubt was now erased. Vann may not have been sure if I remembered Jasmine from the center or not, but in either case, he was letting me know, if I failed to play nice, there would be serious consequences, to me and my people.

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Chapter 19 of the science fiction work-in-progress is now available to read online. New chapters posted every Tuesday. Come join in the fun! | #scifi #sciencefiction #wip #novel #firstdraft

Continue to Chapter 20

Paradise WIP – Chapter 20

5 Important Things June 2018 Taught Me About Blogging

Hello, readers! I can’t believe that another month is already here. I’m officially starting my eighth month as a new blogger, and June taught me some valuable lessons about blogging.

If you are a new blogger or a veteran, you probably know that June 2018 was a little crazy for a lot of us. Many bloggers that relied on BoardBooster were terrorized by messages from Pinterest about how BoardBooster was not an approved partner. Then, when things didn’t look like they could get worse, BoardBooster shut down completely near the end of the month.

Life is constantly changing, and blogging is no different. Here are the things I learned as part of my blogging experience last month.

 

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.

 

What is the first year of blogging really like for a new blogger? Read part seven in this ongoing series chronically Wolfe Butler's path. | #blog #blogging #blogger

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 7

Each month, I publish a post about my real-life experiences as a new blogger. I share the good, the bad, and the sometimes very ugly. In time, I hope to have an amazing success story, but there is a lot of hard work and time that goes into building a blog in the meantime. You can read the previous six posts by clicking this line.

As I stated, June was a rather eventful month for blogging communities. All the blogging Facebook groups and all the chats over at Billionaire Blog Club (BBC) were on fire over the BoardBooster issues, but even in the face of trials, there are always important life lessons to be learned. Here are five of them from June.

 

1. Life is about change

It’s been said that the only constants in life are death and taxes. Everything else changes. That is especially true of blogging. In the seven months I have been a new blogger, things have changed in large and unexpected ways more than a few times.

BoardBooster, if you did not know, was a means of putting blog content on Pinterest. It was super easy to use and created a ton of new traffic for those of us that were using it. Many of us, myself included, were devastated when they couldn’t reach an agreement with Pinterest and were thus forced to close their doors. They will be missed!

But, as they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (That’s really an awful expression. Who would ever skin a cat?) Into the rescue stepped Tailwind. Well, actually, Tailwind was there all the time. Their product has many of the same features that BoardBooster had, so a great flock of us made an exodus to Tailwind.

I will devote a future post to Tailwind because I am still only a couple weeks in and just learning my way. However, I am happy to say that my Pinterest traffic did not fall as a result of losing BoardBooster.

June 2018 Pinterest Traffic
June 2018 Pinterest Traffic

This graphic shows my average monthly viewers on Pinterest and average number engaged with my posts.

As you can see, I was just finding my way with BoardBooster at the beginning of June, and my numbers went up dramatically as a result. I stopped using BoardBooster around the 20th. There was a negligible dip for a few days, but then things headed back north. I will keep you posted.

 

2. The best bloggers honor their commitments

You will likely see me write a lot about BBC in the coming months and years. I have rarely been overwhelmingly impressed by a company or person, but Paul Scrivens, or Scrivs as he’s better known, the man behind BBC, really impressed me in June. Within days of BoardBooster’s announcement, Scrivs created and launched a series of detailed training videos about Tailwind for BBC members.

I wrote in detail about BBC in Tale of a New Blogger – Part 6, so I won’t go into a lot here. Billionaire Blog Club is a program you can buy into for a low fee that pays for your membership for life. Once in, you have access to all the new products and training materials as they become available, without ever having to pay again.

The last few days I have been learning about search engine optimization (SEO) and affiliate marketing. BBC has 23 step-by-step training videos about SEO and 22 about affiliate marketing, with more coming soon.

BBC is currently closed for new members, but should open again in the next few weeks. If you would like to see if it would be a good fit for you, I highly recommend the 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp. It’s 100% free and will give you a good idea of Scrivs’ writing style, and what things you can hope to learn if you become a member. My membership has already more than paid for itself.

 

3. You gotta have help as a new blogger

Twitter is still my favorite social media platform. However, my Twitter obsession was taking up so much time that I was not properly writing, editing, or formatting new content. I still don’t have a good email list program in place, and there’s two other blog series I’ve been meaning to start for some time now.

There are several products available to help you simplify your social media life. I have fought against the idea, especially after I spent two months on one product and was thoroughly underwhelmed by it.

That said, in June, I stumbled upon CrowdFire. I was very negative going in, but it was free, so I decided to give it a shot.

I’m not going to lie to you. CrowdFire doesn’t do everything I would like it to, and a few things not in the way I would prefer. That said, it does do a lot of things that save a ton of time.

Most important to me, CrowdFire has been unbelievably useful in cleaning up my followers and accounts I’m following. When I started on Twitter last November, I didn’t know much about the platform. As a result, those first months, I followed pretty much everyone I came across.

That process lead me to following hundreds of spam accounts. In just one month, CrowdFire has helped me clean up almost all of them. It also works well with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and seven more platforms.

The free option gives you a lot of functionality. I have no reservations about recommending it. I chose to go the paid route once I saw all the time it could save me, but the free option is definitely worth checking out. Click on CrowdFire to take a look, and help me out in the process.

4. Blogging is a fickle mistress

Every time I think I am finally getting a handle on blogging, something completely blindsides me. My assistant started a blog of his own in March of this year. His blog is Speaking Bipolar, and you should check out his posts on dealing with mental and chronic illnesses. He’s on a mission to get more men especially talking about mental health.

 

June 2018 Blog Stats
June 2018 Blog Stats

 

Well, you would think that since this blog is four months older than his, my traffic should be at least some higher than his.

My June traffic was up. In fact, June for a record-setting month for me.

However, record setting was only 820 total views from 527 visitors, which isn’t terrible for a new blogger. For Speaking Bipolar, he saw nearly 3,000 page views from 2,300 visitors in June. For July, we are comparing our processes to see where I am falling behind.

 

5. Social media is key

As much as I don’t always love the idea, social media is the most important thing for a new blogger. Unless you buy ad space, which is something I am considering for July, the only way to increase traffic is to increase exposure on social media.

The good news, my Twitter account continues to grow rapidly. Using CrowdFire and following their tips has continued to grow my list of quality followers.

Twitters state June 2018
Twitters state June 2018

 

What most excites me the most about Twitter is that my followers are probably 80% bloggers and writers. I seem to be picking up quite a few musicians in recent weeks, but I’m great with that, because I love music almost as much as books. Almost.

I hope to have 10,000 followers by the end of July. That’s not too bad for a new blogger. Sorry, I just had to pat myself on the back for that one.

My other social media accounts are not growing as fast, but that’s because I don’t give them the care they deserve.

 

June 2018 Referrers
June 2018 Referrers

 

The numbers are low, but I’m getting about 12% of my traffic from Facebook, and that’s with doing little more than posting new blog posts to my page and account. Clearly, Facebook is deserving of some TLC even if it’s not my favorite brand.

 

Odds and Ends

 

Am Editing

To finish up today, I want to share with you a few other things. One, I took the plunge in June and connected with a professional editor. I am working with the talented Angela B. Wade who is based just a couple of hours south of me in Chattanooga, Tennessee. If you are looking for an editor, I strongly recommend Angela.

She works with authors from everywhere, so don’t be disinclined just because she is from Tennessee. I have learned a lot from her already, and we’ve only been working together for a couple weeks.

Together, we are working on revising Getting Home. I know, I said I was going to let it sit for a while, but it desperately needs a better cover. I decided that if I was going to update the cover, then at the same time I should finish polishing it. Getting Home is my most precious baby, so I’m not sure I will ever be completely done with it.

 

I’ve Learned Series

You may have noticed that I am posting less often in the I’ve Learned series. The reason why is that I have decided to turn it into a book. That was actually my goal from the beginning. So, as far as that series, I’ve been spending more time on editing and revising posts and content than on writing new. Never fear, it will continue to be an ongoing series for as long as I am here.

Working with Angela has taught me so much about how a book should be written, so I am trying to get this one right on the front end. More coming on this topic in the future.

 

Printable Coming Soon!

One of the new series I am working on is a collection of writing tips and techniques. As part of that series, I will be creating printables. The first one, which will be free to everyone, will be on character development. I hope to have it out by the end of July.

 

Take Aways

Tailwind is a great product for scheduling and posting on Pinterest. They are an approved partner, so there should never be any issues with Pinterest. Try the free trial to see if you like it. You can also post to Facebook and Instagram through Tailwind.

Check out Billionaire Blog Club’s 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp. It’s free and with no obligation. It will give you a great chance to see if BBC might be something you are interested in down the line.

CrowdFire is a great app for managing Twitter and for posting to Facebook, Instagram, and more. There’s a lot you can do with the free version, so you have nothing to lose by checking it out.

Please show my assistant some love, and visit his blog:  Speaking Bipolar

If you are looking for a talented and professional (not to mention eternally positive and optimistic) editor or freelance writer, contact Angela B. Wade. She would be happy to give you a quote for any of her quality services.

That’s it for my new blogger experience for this month. What’s going on with you? Please share your latest news in the comments below.

Blogs grow primarily be readers sharing their content. Please share this post on social media or by email. I thank you in advance.

Until next time…

 

What is the first year of blogging really like for a new blogger? Read part seven in this ongoing series chronically Wolfe Butler's path. | #blog #blogging #blogger

 

The Versatile Blogger Award – Wolfe Butler’s Take

It was a wonderful surprise to sign on to Twitter a few days ago and see I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger Award by the lovely and talented blogger behind the Searching For Humor Blog.

Now, let me start by saying I don’t understand these blog awards. I have seen several variations in my last eight months of actively pursuing blogging. Though there are lots of nominations, it doesn’t seem to ever lead to a grand prize winner. Instead, at least to me, it seems a lot like those chain letters we sometimes did in school.

For you millennials, once upon a time, long before everyone had a cell phone in their pocket (and dinosaurs still roamed the earth), young people actually wrote things down on paper. Then that paper was folded into some crazy shape (the triangular football was my go-to). Those notes were then secretly passed in class or handed off to a friend in the hallway between classes.

Some of those notes were chain letters of sort. You had to rewrite the top of the letter exactly as it was, but the lower half, you had to answer questions about yourself. Some questions were silly and some embarrassing, but it was all about fun, so everyone did it.

This format reminds me very much of those paper notes. So, while I may not participate in every blogger award, since this is my first, and I’m feeling more than a little nostalgic, here goes.

 

 

The Versatile Blogger Award

 

The rules for the versatile blogger award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you with a link to their blog.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Nominate bloggers for the award.

 

Thank you, India!

No, I’m kidding, but now that song will be stuck in my head.

I mean thank you, Searching For Humor Blog! It means a great deal that you think enough of my blog and me to nominate me for this fun prize.

If you have never visited Searching For Humor Blog, head on over now and check it out. The blogger writes funny and entertaining stories that revolve around her visiting places that were featured in books she read. Every post is a treat, so be sure to bookmark or follow her page so you can stay up to date.

7 Things About Me

So, this one is a little tricky for me. I just put up an About Page only a few days ago that has 10 things about me, but let’s see. Maybe I can come up with seven more.

 

1. I have a serious weakness for Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Yes, hello, my name is Wolfe Butler, and I am a Krispy Kreme-aholic. Addict? Not sure.

In any case, if I am any where near a Krispy Kreme shop and that big, red “Hot!” sign is on, lookout. I may have been known to eat an entire dozen in one sitting. Maybe. I mean, how can you not. They literally melt in your mouth, so it’s barely like eating anything. Just don’t tell my doctor.

 

2. I’m a serious sci-fi geek.

It doesn’t matter whether books, TV shows, or movies, I love science fiction. From Star Wars to Star Trek and all the Stargates, Babylon 5, and Andromeda, etc. in the middle. I love it all.

For books, I’m a huge fan of Michael Crichton. I’ve read all but a few of his books, including the non-sci-fi ones.

For TV, my favorites right now are probably Dark Matter, The Orville, and all the Netflix and CW superhero shows, especially The Flash and Supergirl. How can you not love Melissa Benoist? She’s cute as can be and sings like an angel. If only they would let her sing more often on the show.

 

3. I used to call my wife, “Buddha.”

Now, before any of you ladies get upset with me, it had nothing to do with her size or shape. Instead, it was a silly conversation we had late one night about how we were the gods or our dreams, and how in dreams, you can make almost anything happen. I think she was the one that said if she was a god she would be Buddha.

However, after a friend got offended when I said it in public, because she did not know the backstory, I stopped. From then on, I called my wife Lizzy, in honor of Elizabeth Bennett, the star of my wife’s favorite book. (I’m not offended that I was not her favorite author.) My dear wife was named Laramie Elizabeth, so it wasn’t completely without merit.

 

4. Once upon a time, I was a stamp collector.

It was a hobby I did with my maternal grandmother. She passed when I was fairly young, so I inherited her collection. Sadly, I never really did anything with it after that time. The whole collection now sits neatly boxed on one of my book shelves.

 

5. I’m a horrible public speaker.

If you need something written, I’m your man. I’m not a master by any means, but I can string written words together fairly well.

Stand me in front of a group of people, and suddenly, I can barely speak my own name. It is so bad that my wife actually banned me from public speaking. For that reason, it is good I took the indie author route, because there’s less chances to speak when you don’t have a publishing house behind you.

6. I did everything wrong in publishing my debut novel.

Two weeks ago, I broke down and hired a professional editor. (More on this in a future post.) Even though I promised myself I would walk away from Getting Home, I am back in the depths of it. I am disgusted with all the gaping holes and punctuation errors I am finding.

If you have not read it yet, DON’T! Please give me a couple of months to get the revision complete. Then it will be republished with both a new cover and new chapters and will hopefully be a respectable offering to the indie community.

7. My favorite color is periwinkle.

Okay, so no making fun of me. For years, I told everyone that my favorite color was black. Indeed, before I married, nearly all my clothes were black or white. My dear Laramie changed that and insisted I pick a “real color.” Nothing so “boring as a primary color” was allowed.

The short list came down to coral and periwinkle. Since I look yellow in coral shirts, my wife helped me see the wisdom of periwinkle. The ironic thing is, I don’t own a single article of clothing in that color, but my bedroom is painted periwinkle. If my wife was still here, she would love it.

 

And The Nominees Are:

Next, I need to nominate some great bloggers. Please bear with me. This was a difficult choice. On top of there being so many wonderful blogs to choose from, many of my favorites have recently been nominated for the same or a similar award.

Here is my list. Out of fairness to everyone, blogs are listed in alphabetical order by blog name.

 

Author Taylor MacNeill

Taylor is an author and blogger. Last I heard from her, she is currently revising her novel, The Darkest Side of the Moon, but the first edition can be purchased in the interim. Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter to learn more. She’s a great Twitter friend as well.

 

Beckie’s Mental Mess

Beckie posts creative writing and life experience posts while also working to help promote mental health awareness. Her posts are authentic and entertaining. Be sure to visit her.

 

Caron Allan Fiction

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that Caron is my number one fan, or at least I keep telling her that she is. She has been extremely supportive and helpful in my blogging journey.

She writes blog posts that make me chuckle and has six mysteries available on Amazon. Criss Cross: Friendship can be murder is currently free for the Kindle version. Once you read one of her novels, you will want to read them all. Caron is also an awesome Twitter friend to have, so be sure to follow her.

 

Dave’s Draw

Dave’s Draw is a blog I just stumbled upon a few days ago, but I am very impressed so far. The posts I’ve read so far are light, smart, and full of good information. Be sure to go visit and check it out.

 

R. A. Allen Author

R. A. Allen writes a lot about writing. I am always fascinated on her unique take to various writing endeavors and techniques. Many of her posts are related to mind mapping. Visit her page to learn more.

 

The Past Due Review

I’ve been following The Past Due Review for about a month. What I love about this site is the nostalgia. Rather than write about the newest movies and books, this blogger chooses to concentrate on topics from years gone by. The most recent post is about The Sandlot, which was released in 1993. For a trip down memory lane, be sure to stop by this blog.

 

Waking Up on the Wrong Side of 50

Finishing off today’s list is Waking Up on the Wrong Side of 50. The blogger takes a very eclectic approach and shares much about her own life, her triumphs, and challenges. Every post is enjoyable, so be sure to visit soon.

 

 

Wrapping Up

I want to be sure to thank Searching For Humor Blog for thinking of me when it came to nominating fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. Though I may not participate again, it was fun to write this blog and I am honored that you thought enough of me to include me in your list.

I also want to thank you, my dear readers. Your visits and comments bring so much light and joy into my world. I appreciate each and every one of you.

To any of my blogger friends that I did not list today, I apologize. I could have easily listed another 20 blogs or more, but I’ll save the remainder of that list for future posts. Please don’t give up on me.

Until next time…

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others. Thank you in advance!

The Versatile Blogger Award recognizes unique and up-and-coming blogs and bloggers. | #blog #blogging #blogger

The Top 7 Best Michael Crichton Books

Michael Crichton was an amazingly talented author that we lost much too soon. Crichton finished his writing journey in 2008, but I firmly believe his legacy and books will last for eternity.

One of my favorite authors (it’s so hard to try to narrow that list down), I have read almost everything that Crichton wrote. This list is my seven favorites from his collection.

Brief History

Even though Michael Crichton knew he wanted to be a writer, he initially set out to take the safe course. He pursued a medical career and graduated with an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1969. He started his writing career while at Harvard, initially writing under the pseudonyms John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. You can read more about Crichton on his official website.

Altogether, Crichton wrote about 30 books, three of which have been published since his passing. In addition, he was the force behind the hit TV series ER, and many of his books, including most of those listed here, have been turned into movies.

His experience helps keep me motivated and patient while I continue working today success. Hopefully, one day, someone will write a post like this about my books.

 

Disclosure: This site participates in the Amazon Associates, LLC. program. That means that if you make a purchase through any of the links on this page, I will receive a small commission, at no additional charge to you. Affiliate income helps to keep this blog up and running.

 

Michael Crichton is one of the great authors or our time. This post reviews my favorite 7 from his collection of work. | #MichaelCrichton #book #books #reviews #ReadingList

The Top 7 Best Michael Crichton Books

1. Sphere


I know not everyone will agree with me, but Sphere is by far my most loved book by Michael Crichton. While they did their best to make a worthwhile movie, it does not even shake a stick at the masterpiece Crichton originally wrote.

I’ll admit, the Sphere movie is better than a lot of book-to-movie adaptations. Unlike Battlefield Earth, which was an excellent book, but about the worst movie I have ever seen.

Sphere takes place at the bottom of the South Pacific ocean. A large spacecraft has been discovered and an elite team of scientists are tasked with exploring it and its wonders. The secrets they uncover and the dangers they face makes this a book that was hard to put down. It will always be my go-to when I need a little heart-pumping action.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It has been a treasured part of my collection since I purchased it in 1990. I have leant my personal copy out more times than I can remember, and recommended others read it probably hundreds of times. It will forever be one of my favorites. It’s been in my mind a lot as I develop my current work-in-progress, Paradise.

 

2. Timeline


Timeline is another masterpiece that, in my opinion, did not get the rave reviews it deserved. In this case, the movie adaptation did do a decent job of portraying the story (and features Paul Walker and Gerard Butler – not related, but would be awesome if he was), but movies will never be able to cover the depth or emotion that can be found in the written word.

The book begins with a man speaking unintelligibly wandering dazed in the Arizona desert. He survives less that 24 hours after he is found.

On the other side of the world, an unbelievable find is discovered by an archaeological team. The discovery leads to the introduction to a secretive, international corporation that gives the archaeologists the chance to not only study the past, but to see the past first-hand.

This fun read is full of action and emotion as the team strives to rescue a beloved friend. If you have not read Timeline, be sure to add it to your reading list. The movie is worth watching after you read the book.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

 

3. Jurassic Park


Perhaps the most well-known and most beloved of Michael Crichton’s books is Jurassic Park. Don’t think that you know this book just because you have seen the movies. While the movies were masterfully done (except for maybe The Lost World), the book gives you much more detail and more insight into the characters than is possible with film.

I hardly need to go into detail, but Jurassic Park centers around a new theme park idea. An island has been transformed into a new home for dinosaurs. The dinosaurs have been resurrected thanks to the ingenuity of technical science.

Sometimes the best of plans lead to terrible consequences, and that is exactly what happens in Jurassic Park. Don’t think that any of the heart-racing moments are lost on the written page. In fact, I think the book scared me more than the movies did. This is a classic that everyone should read at least once.

 

4. Prey


To me, Prey is both exciting and terrifying. The story could easily take place today.

It centers around the Xymos Corporation based in the Nevada desert. Xymos is a leader in nanotechnology, but their latest invention has gotten the upper hand on them. When eight people become trapped by a cloud of nanobots, it will take all the ingenuity they have to survive – if they can.

I loved this book because it feels like something that could happen in today’s world. It’s the story of both technological triumphs and the warning of how technology could turn against us.

Everyone would enjoy this book, but especially those fans of speculative fiction. The simple idea of what could happen is sometimes more scary that what does happen.

Review – Mall Hair Maladies by Kristy Jo Volchko

 

5. Rising Sun


Rising Sun is a break from the science fiction genre that Michael Crichton may be best known for. The book begins in downtown Los Angeles. The Japanese super-corporation, Nakamoto, is celebrating their grand opening for their United States headquarters, when the body of a young woman is discovered on the 46th floor of their building.

The death leads to an intense chase full of industrial intrigue and unexpected twists. The Japanese have a saying, “Business is war.” This tale takes that war to a whole new level.

I loved Rising Sun for its fast pace and the depth of the different characters. Not everything is as it seems, so you have to make sure you are paying attention. This is a great book to introduce you to Crichton’s writing style if you have not already read any of his other works.

For those of you that want to cheat, there is a movie adaptation. It stars Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.

 

6. Disclosure


Disclosure is another fast-paced tale of corporate intrigue. The main character, Tom Sanders, works for the computer firm DigiCom and is quickly making his way up the corporate ladder. His future is bright until a meeting behind closed doors alone with his new female boss sends everything into a death spiral.

This book is just as timely today as when it was written, and perhaps more so, as the Me Too movement continues to gain traction. It tells the story from the other side, a what-if scenario where a man might be accused of something he didn’t do.

There are more secrets than just the ones involving Sanders. What he learns in his struggle to clear his name will forever alter his view of his beloved company.

I loved this book for its ripped-from-the-headlines feel. Michael Crichton was not afraid to feature a subject that many might have felt taboo at the time of his writing. Still as relevant today, it is a book that everyone will enjoy reading.

Again, there is a movie version of Disclosure. It stars the talented Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, and Donald Sutherland.

 

7. State of Fear


Last in my list is State of Fear. It revolves around Peters Evans, an environmental lawyer that is working to keep the world a safe place to live. Battling against an eco-terrorist group that is conspiring to cause natural disasters fueled by the weather, Evans’ work is cut out for him.

State of Fear takes you around the world from Antarctica to the Solomon Islands and many more locations. Full of action and science that could realistically be happening in our world today, it highlights issues like global warming and how man is affecting the weather.

It made my top seven list because it was full of facts that really made me think about what is happening with weather today. In addition, it is full of action and highly entertaining. Again, I had a hard time putting the book down and read it in one weekend. If you are at all concerned about the weather issues we keep seeing, you will be enlightened by this book.

Ultimate Resources for Bloggers and Writers

 

Wrap Up

This list of Michael Crichton books is hardly exhaustive. In fact, he wrote close to 30 books, three that were published posthumously, including Dragon Teeth, which was just published in 2017. It is one of the few books of his I have not read but will add it to this list later on.

I can’t say I loved all his books. To be honest, I was rather disappointed with both Airframe and Next. That said, even my least favorite books by Crichton were good enough that I read the book in its entirety. I’m not saying the books were bad. You may in fact love the books, but the seven listed above are my favorites. The two mentioned here just did not resonate with me.

Do you have a favorite by Crichton that I have not listed? Share your title and why you loved it in the comments below.

Please share this post with others or on social media.

Michael Crichton is one of the great authors or our time. This post reviews my favorite 7 from his collection of work. | #MichaelCrichton #book #books #reviews #ReadingList

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.

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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