A3Writer: 2018
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Monday, April 23, 2018

M³ Bat-Perseus

            This is how I used to refer to Perseus in the before-time. Perseus is one of the first Greek heroes (if not the first) who will go on to found an entire dynasty. And so he gets special treatment.

Friday, April 20, 2018

F³ Ann's Nobility

            “Oh, flare me. You’re going to do something noble, aren’t you?” Ann hung her head over her console.
            “No! Okay, I understood in the Reach. They were enslaved and Constantine was an ass, but we owe nothing to these people. Why do you want to help them?”
            “Whatever else you may think of the people of the Consortium,” Reese answered, “they believe in paying their debts. Always.”
            “You mean we can get a reward out of this? Right. Let’s go save the Connies. Mama needs an upgrade.”

Monday, April 16, 2018

M³ Standing up for Mom

            Acrisius, because he’s a jerk like nearly all other Greek monarchs faced with this kind of decision—and it’s does happen often (never go to Delphi!)—banishes his daughter and infant grandson. Okay, banish is not exactly the right term. He locks them in a box and shoves them out to sea.

Friday, April 13, 2018

F³ New Guy

            “Why are we here, again?” I asked. “Here” being hanging over the skies of Yellowstone National Park with Natalie.
            “We’re waiting on Kate.”
            “Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke.”

Monday, April 9, 2018

M³ Where There's a Zeus There's a Way

            I know I’m not done with Arthur, but I need a break from him. One of the reasons why I have always shied away from him for M³ is simply the massive scale of his mythology. Multivolume books have been written about this stuff. That and most of it is thoroughly depressing. So we’ll try something more fun for a bit.
            Let us turn our attention to the myths of Perseus! Like all great Greek heroes, Perseus has a birth story where Zeus—
            We interrupt this M³ for an urgent warning.

Friday, April 6, 2018

F³ WIP A Boring Job

            “I’m just going to drop you off, okay Short Stuff?”
            “I got a call from Detective Collins about the case. I need to go into the station and talk things over with him.”
            “Oh. Okay. Um, Uncle Matt?”
            “That stakeout last night, is that what your job is like most of the time?”

Monday, April 2, 2018

M³ Ladies of The Lake Are Trouble

            Yeah, I know, I’ve been really going off on the Ladies of the Lake for a while, now. But they change the entire landscape of the stories. Not only that, they’re not in Monmouth’s account. The Ladies of the Lake come into their own in Mallory’s story, and they’re huge. How huge? Killing Merlin huge.

Friday, March 30, 2018

F³ Seller's Market

            “Captain, I believe there’s a problem.” Reese said, throwing the market values to the main screen as a HUD overlay on top of Ann’s navigational course.
            Flynn looked at the numbers for several common shipboard weapons systems.
            “Those are high, aren’t they?”
            “Captain, the prices are double what they should be.”
            “Double? Why would they be that high?”
            “Because, right now, there is a very high demand for them.”
            “Oh, flare me,” Ann sighed.

Monday, March 26, 2018

M³ Faerie Adoption

Remember when I said this was a binary mythological system, and had been for hundreds of years? That’s true. Remember how that implies that there’s nothing outside of that? Yeah, that’s not strictly the case. See, no culture is completely isolated. Even in the ancient world, cultures impinge on one another, fiercely. This is more true with England, Scotland, and Ireland than other mythological frameworks.

Friday, March 23, 2018

F³ Pat Down

            The pat down by TSA guard at airport was more or less routine. He explained how he was going to pat me down using the back of his hand in an angry, guttural voice. The anger wasn’t directed at me so much as it was that he was required to do this.
            Wonder if they have a quota? Pat down X number of travelers per shift or you’ll be reprimanded. That would suck.

Monday, March 19, 2018

M³ Mobsters of The Medieval World

            Okay, so faeries. Notice the spelling. These are not fairies from fairy tales. This isn’t Tinkerbell, a fairy godmother, or anything like those stories. Thanks to modern storytelling and the marketing strategy of Jake and Will Grimm, those are happily-ever-after stories. Those fairies are nice.

Friday, March 16, 2018

F³ Home Improvement

            The pizza oven and water heater kicked off a desire for more home improvement. And one piece of home improvement topped the list more than any other. Unfortunately, it required a lot of know-how. And, really, how often do you think about how your toilet works?
            While porcelain ceramic was the standard, I didn’t have access to that kind of material. Pottery was a second choice, but we were talking a lot of pottery, and I didn’t know if it would hold up.

Monday, March 12, 2018

M³ Moistened Bint Lubbing a Scimitar

            Ah, Excalibur. The sword is almost as famous as King Arthur. It is the modern template for heroic weapons. Of weapons with a name, it is at the top of the list when it comes to recognizability. Other weapons have had names before it, but Excalibur reigns supreme.

Friday, March 9, 2018

F³ Fund Raising

            “And how much have we raised?”
            “Eight thousand, Captain. The going is quite slow because we are operating without a proper license and are subject to high taxes.”
            Ann swore under her breath, for which Flynn was grateful.
            “And our supplies?”
            “On that front, we are on better standing. Consumer goods aren’t as heavily taxed, and food not at all. Also, Hank has been able to make thorough headway on our repairs.”
            “Meaning he hasn’t blown us up, yet,” Ann said flatly.

Monday, March 5, 2018

M³ Fate Is in The Air

            While the Greeks and Romans had personifications of fate in their mythologies, Christianity does not. However, the mindset still does not allow for free will. Redubbed predestination, the idea is that God knows everything, past, present, and future. For that to be the case, then everything has already been written. Nothing can be changed. There is no choice.

Friday, March 2, 2018

F³ WIP Breakfast

            The next morning, I was in the middle of making pancakes when I got a call from Collins.
            “You like pancakes?” I asked.
            The question short-circuited his train of thought. “What?”
            “Pancakes. Hot cakes. Flapjacks. Butter and maple syrup.”
            “Blueberry syrup.”
            “Barbarian. Blueberries in pancakes are fine, but you have to have actual maple syrup.”

Monday, February 26, 2018

M³ Devilish Origin

            Not only could devils have sex and children, they did so all the freaking time. What can I say, they were horny (rimshot). The same asceticism that turned angels into beings incapable of sex hypersexualized the devils and demons. Copulation with devils and demons became one of the favorite methods of denouncing anyone different.

Friday, February 23, 2018

F³ WIP Delusions of Mediocrity

            “It doesn’t work like that.”
            “And how does it work? Magic?” The scorn in Reese’s voice came through loud and clear.
            “What autopsy?”

Monday, February 19, 2018

M³ Angelic Origin

            So there might have been a simpler way to give Merlin power: angels. Merlin—and Arthur, for that matter—could be the son of an angel. It certainly would have simplified the entire process. Arthur’s divine mandate could come from his angelic heritage instead of from a sword in a rock.
            So why didn’t it?

Friday, February 16, 2018

F³ Security

            The security line was a couple hundred feet long, moving like a drunk caterpillar’s legs. I felt naked, too. My gun, my bullets, my knife, and even my flask were all at home. I couldn’t take them on the plane. If any of the supernatural types wanted to off me, airport security was the perfect place. But I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t very well drive to Florida. There wasn’t time before Christmas and I didn’t think my Taurus would handle the trip.
            In front of and behind me, holiday travelers talked and texted away on their phones when they didn’t have to wrangle their children into shape. I was the oddball with physical paperback books.

            “Let me guess,” Nikki interrupted. “Your precious pulp detective books?”
            “you know, you gave me grief for interrupting the story last time. I was on a roll. But, yes, I had a couple of Chandler’s best Marlowe novels. I also had some other stuff, work related.”
            “Oh? Some ancient codex of ancient mythology revealing the secrets of the universe to you?”
            “Not exactly. I had a book of fairy tales for Cassie.”
            Nikki cocked her head with a wry smile. “Isn’t she a little old for such stories?”
            “Oh, these weren’t the watered-down versions in animated movies. These were the real deal. If my Ma knew what was really in those stories, she’d freak out.”
            Nikki let out a long laugh. “Corrupting your niece. Not exactly the Christmas spirit.”
            “I know! It’s why I can’t understand Nick’s gift. Anyway, where was I?”
            “The airport.”
            “Right. So, I don’t enjoy being ‘randomly’ selected to be patted down, but it happens all the time. . . .”

Monday, February 12, 2018

M³ Thoughts on Merlin's Origin

            As a student on superhero stories (comics and movies), I appreciate a good origin story. We all want to know where the hero came from—though I thank Marvel for skipping a third version of Spidey’s origins on the big screen (please do the same for the Fantastic Four now that they’re back!).

Friday, February 9, 2018

F³ Odd Jobs

            “Mr. Reese,” Flynn intoned with all the warmth of vacuum, “explain it to me again. How is it that we are unable to trade cargo in the Consortium?”
            “You flaring listened to a flaring liar, that’s how.” Ann didn’t bother to mask the contempt from her voice. She sat at her console forward of Flynn, plotting the entry path to the moon’s atmosphere. Her dark hair hung in loose curls to her shoulders. Since there was no expectation of combat, she hadn’t bothered to braid it or put it up.

Monday, February 5, 2018

M³ Young Sir Arthur

            Book VII of Le Morte D’Arthur describes Arthur’s coronation. What’s interesting here is that he “took the sword between both his hands, and offered it upon the altar where the Archbishop was, and so was he made knight.” Most kings don’t get knighted. They’re crowned, and that’s an end to it. With Arthur, the idea of knighthood is inextricable from his character. This is not merely a king, this is a knight-king, who holds to the chivalric code, someone of divine character.

Friday, February 2, 2018

F³ Paranoia

            I was getting ready to turn in, at midnight, when I got a text from Lindsey Reese, reporter for the Belport Clarion.
            “What’s the story?”
            I dialed her number.
            “Are we really doing this over the phone?” I said, relaxing into the couch.
            “You don’t want a record of it?”

Monday, January 29, 2018

M³ The Stuck Sword

            After Arthur was born, he wasn’t raised by his father and mother. Instead, he was raised by Sir Ector, and his foster brother was Sir Kay. Those familiar with Disney’s The Sword in The Stone will recognize the names. In fact, Disney does a heck of a job when it comes to the whole pulling of the Sword in the Stone.

Friday, January 26, 2018

F³ WIP Strange Favor

            I was exhausted from the events of the day, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I called Nikki.
            “Matthew,” she sounded tired. “I’m pleased to hear from you. Our earlier conversation was . . . terse.”
            “Yeah. Wanted to let Cassie process things and just have a normal night.”
            “I understand. Are you well?”
            “I guess so. I don’t like to cut it that close, you know?” I went into my room, and grabbed the box from Max’s stash. I hadn’t exchanged it for anything else, but I would, soon. But now I had a reason to go through the items again.
            There was a pause.
            “Nikki? Did I lose you.”
            “I’m here,” she said softly. “I’m sorry, Matthew.”

Monday, January 22, 2018

M³ Arthur Son of Uther

            The story of King Arthur begins properly like most hero myths, with his birth. The birth of Arthur is of typically mythic proportions, with plenty of the supernatural involved. While most heroes receive the divine treatment—most commonly due to Zeus—Arthur can’t go this route. Christianity has well and truly spread across Europe, even into the far reaches of once-Celtic Britain, and it would be blasphemy for Arthur to be sired by God. It can’t happen.

Friday, January 19, 2018

F³ Things Get Heated

            The town blacksmith was baffled as to why I wanted a metal barrel, especially one that was watertight. It took him weeks to get it done, and he went on to tell me about how he had to fold the edges of sheets together and then hammer them into a single piece as he bent the barrel around. I blacked out halfway through the explanation, but nodded and gave the appropriate ooh and ahh to recognize the greatness of his accomplishment. Compared to that, casting pipes of molten copper had been simple, but he had come through for me.

Monday, January 15, 2018

M³ Prelude to Arthur

            All right, by request (thanks a lot Jay), we’re going to be delving into King Arthur. Before that I have to give some background (and rant a little). The farther in time we go, the more records survive. It’s just the nature of the game. Precious few sources from Ancient Greece survive. We do have differing versions of some stories, but these are the result of geography, cultural assimilation, and transcription of oral tradition.

Friday, January 12, 2018

F³ WIP Grounded

            I hadn’t expected Nikki to be in the office when I got there, but she sat on the edge of Jessie’s desk in a brand new business suit identical to the one before. She had also fixed up her hair. Jen was there, too, and the four women had been laughing at something on Jessie’s computer screen, but conspiratorially went quiet when I came in.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


            During NaNo, I started including snippets from my WIP to keep what remains of my sanity, and to speed up the writing. However, what started as a shortcut has since become a good idea. I’m going to make sure I include at least one snippet from my WIP every month (maybe more than that). This way I don’t have to wrack my brain for a new piece of F³, but also to keep me honest and working on that WIP throughout the year.

Monday, January 8, 2018

M³ The Good Role Model

            The Greeks did the same thing with Hercules as the Israelites did to Samson, but with an important, and very interesting, twist. Whereas the Israelites look at Samson as being culturally different and bad, since he was a murdering, fornicating, failure, the Greeks view Hercules’s traits as desirable. Yes, Hercules had some stumbling blocks in that some of his labors didn’t count, but that was more due to Eurystheus being a real jerk about the whole thing.

Friday, January 5, 2018

F³ Curiosities

            When the coffee started to flow through my veins, vigor flowed back into brain cells dormant from the Christmas sleep. Nikki sat at my small dining room table watching me, patiently.
            “I don’t get it,” I said finally.
            “What is there to get?”
            “Oh, well, you can have m—”
            “Not that! I mean the hat. Why are you so curious about it?”
            “I’m not curious about the hat, exactly.”
            I sighed, taking another sip of coffee. When I looked back up, she still had that patient look. “Then what are you curious about?”
            “Do you know, Matthew, the sheer number of experiences and stories I have? For centuries I have flitted about this planet experiencing nearly everything the world has to offer. I have been a member of court, a simple washer-woman, a goddess, a consort, the object of immortalized art, and more.”
            “Mazel tov.”
            She ignored that. “In all of that time, I have heard wild superstitions about Nicholas, but nothing concrete, until you. Two different holidays I have received gifts from the man whom I thought was nothing but children’s fantasy, and you now have a hat from him. You will be employed by him. You have given me a curiosity, which I cannot turn aside from.
            I pointed back to the couch, taking time to mull that over as we walked back.
            I could make a remark. I could be sarcastic about it, but she is genuinely intrigued.
            “You know I don’t understand everything about what’s going on, right?”
            “That lack does not prevent you from deducing the proper course throughout your profession.”
            “I get it wrong, sometimes.”
            “Yet you are still alive, a testament to your ability.”
            “Okay, here goes. I was flying back to Florida for Christmas. . . .”

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Ten Minute Rule

            Last NaNoWriMo was brutal. The combination of grading so many essays and trying to meet the rigors of 1667 words a day almost broke me. But I survived. And I learned an important lesson. 1. Writing at restaurants is a good thing (though expensive). 2) The 10 minute rule.
            For those who have never graded, it’s a grueling experience, and one that easily saps the will. I used to do long grading sessions of multiple hours, powering through what needed to be done, and then crashing into a stupor. I barely had the presence of mind to sit mindlessly through Netflix binge sessions. But I couldn’t do that if I wanted to make it through NaNo. I had to find a way to get the grading done, but leave enough of my soul for writing.
            The idea was simple, switch on and off. Ten minutes of grading followed by 10 minutes of writing. I set a timer on my phone, and go. The only alteration to the rule is that I finish the essay I’m grading and the paragraph I’m writing. Then I switch.
            Not only did I survive NaNo, I’ve been able to (somewhat) keep up the habit. With some more work at it, I should be able to make this a permanent change.

Monday, January 1, 2018

M³ The Bad Role Model

            So our 2nd theory about Samson and Hercules is that they are both based on a common figure, and put their own spin on the story. But that also doesn’t quite match up. The spin they should put on the story is that reflecting what their own culture values. Odysseus’s greatness was readily acknowledged by Muslims, but they needed to reframe it to be beneficial to their own culture.
            But Hercules and Samson are the opposite. Samson has more in common with Odysseus than Abraham. The same is true for Hercules, who submits to authority, is humble, and is repentant. It’s like they crossed the streams—"Egon! You said crossing the streams was bad!”
            So what’s going on?
            For all the cultural differences, the Mediterranean is actually a very tiny place. It’s a short sail from Greece to Israel, even hugging the coast. It’s even closer than Egypt! This isn’t to suggest that they were big-time trading partners. But the stories that would spread because of trade all around the Med are the point.
            Word of a super-strong warrior (blessed by the gods) would have spread. Israel would have heard this story, and had to contend with its cultural ramifications. But warrior heroes are not the way of Israel’s culture. Sure it has its appeal, but in the end, combat is not their way. They value heroes like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, all of which share common traits within the culture. Theirs is the role that needs to be emulated, not a muscled-bound oaf who fornicates and murders. The Israelites use the story of Samson to demonstrate that such a path does not work. Did he kill the enemies of Israel? Yes. Did he do so in a way that reflected the values of the culture? No. And, besides, Moses had a much higher body count, got out alive, and rescued hundreds of thousands of Hebrews all by following God. Samson really only made more trouble.
            What about Hercules? Next week.