I Want My Old Normal Back

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© James Pyles – Selfie in the age of COVID-19

I’ve been hearing the phrase the new normal a lot lately. It’s the idea that even once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, the U.S. and the world won’t simply go back to “business as usual,” as if the pandemic never happened.

There are some people who even see this “new normal” as an opportunity to “improve” things. For instance, House Member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is advocating for people to not go back to work once restrictions are lifted. She is specifically referencing people who work 60, 70, and 80 hours a week at low paying jobs and who feel no security in their lives. You can watch a video of her statement on YouTube.

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that the pandemic response is an opportunity for structural change. Of course that might only be a good thing if you share his political viewpoint.

Yet, from what I’ve seen, the protests people are actually doing go in the opposite direction from Ocasio-Cortez and Biden.

A few days ago, people in Orange County, California (where I used to live) held a mass protest at Huntington Beach opposing Governor Gavin Newsom’s closing beaches in Orange County and only Orange County. He did this in response to a perceived overcrowding at Newport Beach the weekend before. Just how crowded the beach was has been disputed, but based on the photos, it looks crowded.

Nevertheless, Californians are pushing back, including at a rally at the California State Capitol where 32 people were arrested, both because they were in violation of Newsom’s stay-at-home order, and because of the ban against protests on state property (but I thought people had a constitutional right to protest on any public property as long as it was peaceful).

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Third Place Winner: Building Your Brand by James Pyles

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James Pyles – photo taken by David Pyles

EDIT: All three winners will have their articles published in the May edition of Inner Circle Writer’s Magazine.

by Steven Lester Carr

The panel of judges for the Building Your Brand project selected the top three entries. Today I post the third place entry written by James Pyles. Friday I posted the first place winning entry written by Elaine Marie Carnegie. Yesterday I posted the second place entry written by Peter Astle.

Third Place Winner: Building Your Brand by James Pyles

As an author, building your brand might seem obvious. Create a website /blog, use it to advertise your works, such as novels published, anthologies contributed to, and so on. Then link the heck out of them on social media (Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, etc…).

But everyone does that.

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Second Place Winner in the “Build Your Brand” project

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James Pyles – photo taken by David Pyles

As I mentioned yesterday, I participated in an online contest by writing an essay about how writers and other creative people can “build our brand”. In my previous blog post, I featured first place winner Elaine Marie Carnegie. Today, we see what second place winner Peter Astle has to say.

by Steven Lester Carr

The panel of judges for the Building Your Brand project selected the top three entries. Yesterday I posted the first place winning entry written by Elaine Marie Carnegie. Today I bring you the second place entry written by Peter Astle. Tomorrow I will post the third place winning entry written by James Pyles.

Second Place Winner: Building Your Brand by Peter Astle.

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Review of “Mission: Outbreak by Michael Gilwood

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Cover art for Michael Gilwood’s novel “Mission: Outbreak”

Starting Mission: Outbreak by Michael Gilwood, when I read that 200 year old human remains are found on one of Neptune’s moons, I was somewhat reminded of James P. Hogan’s novel “Inherit the Stars,” which I’d consumed some decades ago and remembered enjoying.

But afterward, there was a significant section of exposition which, I suppose, was necessary to cover a long stretch of history in a shorter span of pages.

After that, I found Gilwood’s novel was a sort of mix between the original Star Trek television series, and something written by E.E. “Doc” Smith.

That’s not necessarily bad as far as it goes, but not only did it seem familiar, but too often repeated as a science fiction trope.

Captain Philip Wakefield and our heroes on the starship Excelsior visit an alien planet in search of clues of perhaps humanity’s origins, as well as evidence that the Earth has been visited before by extraterrestrials.

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Coronavirus is no laughing matter…or is it?

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Sorry about the “language”

I’ve read a number of social media memes that have suggested the death rate due to COVID-19 has been exaggerated. I also read a New York Times article that said New York City added more than 3,700 additional people who were presumed to have died of the coronavirus but had never tested positive, which seems to support that suggestion.

And yet, when I tried a Google search on overestimates of Coronavirus death tolls, all I came up with is info on how the death rate is underestimated.

Here we have more or less the same news from ABC News, Nature, and CNN among others.

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Third Place in the “Building Your Brand” project

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James

I participated in an online contest by writing an essay about how writers and other creative people can “build our brand”. Here’s the result.

Steven Lester Carr:

The panel of judges for the Building Your Brand project has selected the top three entries. First place and $50.00 goes to Elaine Marie Carnegie. Second place and $25.00 to Peter Astle. Third place and $25.00 to James Pyles.

Part of the money the winning entries received was part of a generous contribution of $25.00 that fellow Sweetycat Press member, Dawn Debraal, made toward this effort. Thank you, Dawn!

Thank you to all of you who submitted entries. Unfortunately there could only be a top three.

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Featured Author for the Black Hare Press Anthology “Lockdown Sci-Fi #3”

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Promotional image for the Black Hare Press anthology “Lockdown Sci-Fi #3”

I’ve already mentioned that my short story “The Apollo Containment is being published in the Black Hare Press anthology Lockdown Sci-Fi #3. Here’s the graphic featuring me as a contributing author.

Oh, excerpt:

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My short story “Betrayal” accepted in Eleanor Merry’s horror anthology “Dark Solstice”

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Promotional image for Eleanor Merry’s anthology “Dark Solstice”

The submission call was for up to five short stories, each between 100 and 500 words long. I submitted two and one was accepted.

Here’s an excerpt. Warning: it’s a bit “spicy”:

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“The Apollo Containment” Accepted into Lockdown Sci-Fi #3

 

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Promotional image for the Black Hare Press anthology “Lockdown Sci-Fi #3”

Black Hare Press is producing a number of “lockdown” anthologies, all based on themes of SciFi, Horror, Fantasy, Phantom, and Paranormal Romance. My short story “The Apollo Containment” was just accepted into Lockdown Sci-Fi #3 (on that page, keep scrolling down).

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Guest Blog for Tuscany Bay Books: “The Journey To Barsoom”

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Cover art for the Mars Planetary Anthology by Tuscany Bay Books

Okay, the title is inaccurate, but that’s only because I forget to include one of my own when I crafted my missive and submitted it to Richard Paolinelli.

Tuscany Bay Books as part of the effort to raise awareness of their Planetary anthology series.

Today, I discuss my short story “The Billion Year Love,” which will appear in the anthology Mars.

I’m thrilled that my short story “The Three Billion Year Love” was accepted into the Tuscany Bay Books Planetary Anthology Mars. I wrote an earlier version of the story on my blog shortly after the death of Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher (the protagonist’s wife is named after her). This was at a point in my life that, for a variety of reasons, I was wanting to be able to retreat from humanity.

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