Mid-Month Short Story Challenge #12

It’s the middle of summer if you’re in the northern hemisphere. If you’re like me, that means you’re struggling through the worst part of the year, begging and pleading that fall and winter will come sooner rather than later. Since there wasn’t much of a spring time in the Midwestern USA this year, it’s doubly the truth.

What better way to beat the summertime blues1Alan Jackson fans are free to take a shot here. than to go inside, crank up the air conditioner, listen to some music, and write a story? And even if you’re the type that likes being outdoors, I’m sure there’s a shade tree or a park where you can do the same — as this month’s prompt post is a little bit different from previous ones. This will be the start of two consecutive music related theme prompts, so let me know how you like it.

Your prompt is for this month below. Your story should be posted on August 1, 2018. Be sure to link back to this post so I can see your story and share.

  • Suggested number of words: Minimum 500 words, no maximum
  • Seven words to work into your story: Gravity, reject, narrow, relief, defiant, register, staircase
  • Genre: Open to you
  • Rating/Content/Perspective Limitation: No limitations
  • Topic: It’s up to you…but you have to write your story based on a song. You get to pick the song, you get to pick the topic, you get to write the story. Just be sure to add a note (or a link) within your post indicating what song you used for inspiration.

2018 Blog Goals – Mid Year Review

Welcome to the midway point (more or less) of the year. It’s time again to take a look at my 2018 blog goals and see how I’m doing against those goals. When we last peeked in at the end of the first quarter of this year, I was meeting one of the three goals that I had set for the year. I made an effort to do a bit more promotion of this site on Twitter, not to mention completing a minor site redesign to make it a bit easier for mobile readers to follow the blog.

Now that the year is half done, how am I doing on those goals? Let’s check in.

Goal 1: 20 New WordPress Followers

There’s both good news and bad news with how I’m doing on this goal. The good news is that I managed to pick up triple the number of followers in Q2 of 2018 as I did in Q1. The bad news is that I’m still well short of my 20 new follower goal for the year. At this point, hitting half of this goal would still mean an uptick in followers from the pace I’ve been at throughout the first half of the year, though it’s probably more realistic than the full goal. That said, I was behind pace on the next goal as well and made it up, so perhaps this will change.

Goal 2 – Average 250 Visits Per Month

Well. This changed in a hurry. Thanks to May and June being the two highest traffic months in the history of my blog (as well as April being the 4th highest to date), instead of sitting just shy of my goal pace, I’m over 1.2 times my goal pace1If we look solely at the May/June pace, it would be nearly 1.6 times my pace. That would be nice to see the rest of the year.. Averaging 250 visits per month would mean that I would get 3,000 site visits by the end of the year. If I continue my current yearly pace, this site should end the year in the neighborhood of 3,500 site visits. Hitting 3,500 would be impressive, especially considering I felt like 3,000 was a bit ambitious. I’m hoping that the launch of my Patreon will drive additional traffic to the blog, meaning there may even be an outside chance to get to 4,000 site visits. That would be amazing. The more fun fact that lets me be optimistic about this goal as we hit the second half of the year is that nearly every month this year has seen growth in the number of site visits AND unique visitors to the blog per day. It makes me hopeful that the growth is sustainable.

Goal 3 – Grow Comment Count by 20% Again

While my first two goals saw growth from Q1 to Q2, my comment count goal — though still being ahead of pace — wasn’t quite as fortunate these past three months. It wasn’t a major downtick in comment count, hence still making the goal pace. That said, I’d love to get this back on my original pace from Q1. Considering there are some extra posts going up in July (as well as potentially August), there will be extra opportunities for comments. We’ll see if that helps though.

How are you doing on your 2018 goals? If you’re a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, or other creator, have you made changes to your goals for the year? Sound off in the comments.


Like the work I do? Want to help me make more, better written content? Consider pledging your support on Patreon.

Help Me Earn Money For Writing

Hey all!

About a month ago, I mentioned that in the near future you could support me and my work on Patreon. Well, today is the near future.

MY PATREON IS LIVE. CLICK THESE WORDS TO GO THERE.

Yes, they’re all caps. Yes, they’re giant. I really would like your support. You can also click the button below, which will start appearing in other locations on my site throughout the week.

Become a Patron!

If you’re still here — and by here, I mean my blog (as this is going on Patreon too) — I bet you’re all wondering what perks you can get for pledging to support me. Here’s some information on the perks, along with some frequently asked questions.

Perks

At launch, there will be four support tiers. These are as follows. Note that if you support at a higher tier, you’ll automatically get the lower tiers (so if you support with $3/month, you’ll get both the $1 and $3 rewards).

  • $1/month – You can submit questions to a Q&A that I’ll either post as a Patreon post or as a podcast. Said podcast Q&A will be done quarterly, however you’ll be able to submit questions each month. More information on this perk is in the FAQ section.
  • $3/month – I’ll be digitally signing pictures that aren’t me or aren’t of me. Some of these will be signed with my name. Some will not. It’s a new surprise picture every month. I promise terrible signatures and things that make no sense.
  • $5/month – You’ll get access to a once a month patron-only blog post. More information on exactly how this will work is in the FAQ section below.
  • $10/month – You’ll get access to a once a month patron-only podcast that I’ll be doing. More information on exactly how this will work is in the FAQ section below.

Additionally, there will be patron count goals. The first two of these goals are as follows.

  • 25 patrons – Once my account has 25 patrons, I’ll do a Q&A separate from the quarterly Q&A mentioned above. My goal is to do this Q&A within a week or two of hitting 25 patrons, though we’ll play it by ear depending on how quickly I get 25 patrons.
  • 100 patrons – In the extremely unlikely event I ever get 100 patrons, I’ll add a new tier of rewards. I’m thinking this will be related to whatever work in progress book I have at that time, but we’ll see if this ever happens.

FAQs

We’re giving you money…and yeah…we get perks…but what are you going to do with it?

The three goals I have with my Patreon are, in order of how likely they are to happen, as follows.

  1. Pay for my blog’s monthly hosting expenses. As my site is growing, these are likely going to go up in the next 2-3 months.
  2. Pay for someone to redesign my blog/website and make it a more professional portfolio style site.
  3. Make enough money to allow me to devote significantly more time to writing fiction/publishing books/researching for my writing/podcasting/etc.

If #1 happens, I’ll be overjoyed. If #2 happens, I’ll be ecstatic. If #3 happens, we’re clearly living in an alternate timeline, as there’s no way in hell that’s going to happen.

Why now?

Because I want my writing to be taken seriously. I’ve been writing in some capacity for 10 years now, not to mention fiddling around with blogging for closer to 15. It’s about time I took this seriously in terms of having some level of compensation for the amount of time I devote to it.

Why should I support you?

Because I’m awesome. Because you’re awesome. Because reasons. Pick one.

Really though…I feel pretty strongly that there needs to be more support for writers of all kinds, be they bloggers, novelists, journalists, or whatever. Whether that support it sharing someone’s work, supporting them financially, or subscribing to their paper, it’s a great and necessary thing. This is doubly true for independent creators like me.

What’s the plan with the $1/month quarterly podcast?

I wanted to do a quarterly reward, but Patreon doesn’t offer that. This was the next best way to handle it. Basically, if you donate $1/month in any of the months of the 3rd quarter of 2018, you’ll be able to ask questions for the 4th quarter Q&A. I’ll announce when you can submit questions and what not on the Patreon.

Tell me more about the $5/month tier patron-only post.

Let’s say you donate $5 in the month of July. In early August, I’ll put up a poll where you can vote on the topic that I write the patron-only post about. The winning topic at the end of the polling period (3-5 days?) will get a post written. Said post should go up in mid-August in this example.

Tell me more about the $10/month tier patron-only podcast.

Initially I didn’t have this tier. Yet there were enough of you that I shared my beta rewards plan with that said I needed this as a reward that I wanted to try it. Like the $5 reward, let’s say you donate $10 in July. In August (likely mid-August), you’ll get a recorded podcast featuring one of the blog posts I published in the previous month. This will be via a RSS available only to patrons. Some months I’ll pick the post I record. Some months I’ll hold a vote. I’ll announce more on this each month, presuming people actually are crazy enough to give me this sum of money.

Does donating to your Patreon give me free/discounted access to your professional editing/writing services?

No. That may change in the future, but it will not at this time.

Will the Patreon-only posts and what not go up on this site?

Maybe. The Q&A posts/podcasts likely will, though only Patreon supporters will get to submit questions. As for the other posts, if they go up on this blog, it won’t be until a few months have passed for sure.

Any other final words?

If you do choose to support me, thank you. That’s really all.

Earth: A Study in Simulated Planet Behavior

This post is a response to June 2018’s mid-month short story challenge. Click on the link in the previous sentence to read the prompt, share your story, and read those written by others.


DR. XZENEEBIA SARUTUNE: They really are peculiar creatures, the Homo sapiens. Despite the individualities each of them try to express, there’s so much that ties them together. Take for instance the behavior of defecation and compare it to a species they find themselves superior to — felis silvestris catus.

[Camera cuts to a COMMON HOUSE CAT in a litter pan]

DR. SARUTUNE: When domesticated, felis silvestris catus will commonly use a small container filled with clay pellets or sand as a disposal location for its waste. While the location of the act does differ depending on the animal’s environment, even the young of the common house cat will make the same motions. After completion of excretion, the front paws will kick back whatever substance fills the container, covering the fecal matter.

[Camera cuts back to DR. SARUTUNE in her office at The Grand University of Nebulon VI. DR. SARUTUNE is a large, blue, oval, blob-like creature with five eyes running down her right side. Her mouth runs perpendicular to the third and fourth eye, with purple-red lips.]

DR. SARUTUNE: We’ve theorized based on observation of non-domesticated cats that this behavior is retained from a time where the majority of cats lived in the wild and that covering the smell would deter the attraction of predators. Why this behavior has stayed into the modern day, particularly when so many cats are cared for by a creature such as the homo sapien which is not predator towards them is something that warrants further research.

[Camera cuts to B-roll video of Earth spinning in space before zooming in on the east coast of the United States, presumably near Boston, Massachusetts]

NARRATOR: Dr. Sarutune’s studies embedded her within a small tribe of humans on the North American continent of the planet Earth. Though the primitive technology of the planet did not allow her to make direct contact with any lifeforms on the planet, she was able to observe them in their most private moments.

[Camera cuts back to DR. SARUTUNE]

DR. SARUTUNE: In my studies, humans were not quantifiably different when it comes to waste excretion behaviors than cats in most situations. While the literal locations were varied purely due to the size of the creatures involved, most mammals, at least for our purposes of study, have similar rituals.

[Camera cuts to INTERIOR, HUMAN BATHROOM. Camera focuses on an empty toilet paper roll hanging from a dispenser on the wall]

DR. SARUTUNE: There is, of course, an exception to this phenomenon.

[Chryon along the bottom of the screen reads “DRAMATIZATION”]

DR. SARUTUNE: Many of the Homo sapiens choose to utilize a cleansing wipe once they have completed their defecation. Whether this wipe is wet or dry is largely up to personal preference, however the lack of access to that wipe creates a critical moment for Homo sapiens that choose to use it. If the human has planned well, it’s merely a matter of accessing a nearby stockpile of additional wipes and moving on about their sol.

[Camera cuts to a HUMAN MALE, white, in his mid to late 40s. We see him from the middle of his chest up. He is wearing a white t-shirt covered by a buttoned blue dress shirt with the top button undone. His hair is greying.]

DR. SARUTUNE: For the unfortunate individuals who did not plan ahead, a terror spreads over there face once the realization that they lack their toilet tissue hits. The exact methods from which the specific tribe of Homo sapiens I was embedded within leave their porcelain repository varied, however there was usually a slow, shuffling waddle to wherever the wipes were stored.

[Camera cuts back to HUMAN MALE, this time viewed from the back. We see his pants around his ankles, with the tail of the dress shirt covering his posterior]

DR. SARUTUNE: Once the tissue is retrieved, the more intelligent or diligent planning humans will procure extra tissues so that their serene moment isn’t interrupted in the future. Some Homo sapiens, however, never learn from their mistakes. Instead of identifying the stimulus of their situation, the cycle repeats in the future. Waddle after waddle, shuffle after shuffle, the impetus of cleaning fecal matter from their anus drives them to walk in foolish ways, hunched or clenching in uncomfortable ways. With a bit of planning this problem could be solved, though as is the case with any creature, the intelligent and strong adapt and survive. The weak are relegated accordingly.

[Camera cuts away to B-roll of humans milling in the streets of New York City. Show’s bumper music plays.]

NARRATOR: When we return to Earth: A Study in Simulated Planet Behavior, Dr. Ahweiey Jizsbalzsah discusses the sociological phenomena that are Terran restaurants. From food carts to high-end establishments, the homo sapien have taken the necessary delivery of nutrients and turned it into a cultural experience. Can we learn from them?

[Camera cuts to B-roll of Napoleon Bonaparte prior to the battle of Waterloo]

NARRATOR: And later, what the fuck was this guy thinking? All to come on Earth: A Study in Simulated Planet Behavior.

Pokefusions Are Hilariously Dumb

As you can likely tell from the high volume of Pokemon posts I’ve done over time on this blog, I love the Pokemon series of games. One of my favorite ways to kill boredom while sitting at an airport is to play around on Pokemon fusion sites and see what inane monstrosities I can create to amuse myself.

Pokemon fusion sites take two or more Pokemon and mix their features together in order to create a whole new Pokemon. There’s quite a few sites devoted to this out there, such as Alex Osanger’s site, which is believed to be one of the original sites for this practice. My current favorite site1Read: The one my wife reminded me of the existence of. to play around with is Japeal’s fusion generator, which features Pokemon through Gen IV.

With the help of this generator, I’ve come up with ten of the funniest Pokefusions I could and decided to share them with all of you. These are obviously my personal opinion, so if you find one that you find hilarious, create it and share it in the comments of this post. I’d love to see what all of you come up with.

Honorable Mentions

Before I get into my actual list, I wanted to call out a few honorable mentions that came up when I was making these lists. When Japeal’s generator creates a fusion, the new Pokemon is named by making a portmanteau of the names of the two Pokemon in the fusions. For example, a fusion of Scyther and Crocnaw because Scynaw. In doing so, some great names occur. While the Pokemon designs for most of these fusions weren’t great, honorable mentions going to naming for:

  • Monster (Monferno/Cloyster)
  • Mario (Mareep/Lucario)
  • Hoooone (Hoothoot/Linoone)
  • Fartle (Farfetch’d/Grotle) [Pictured Above]
  • Mr. Cash (Mr. Mime/Whiscash)

10. Mr. Krow (Mr. Mime/Honchkrow)

Let’s lead off with the Psychic/Dark dual type Mr. Krow. This bubblegum bird caught my attention not just because of the opportunity to give a beard to Mr. Mime2And make him less creepy., but also because of how the tail feathers are essentially a lightened inversion of Honchkrow’s color scheme. It was between this and Fartle for the 10th spot on the list, but Mr. Krow gets the edge thanks to its pepto-colored cowboy hat.

9. Celekoal (Celebi/Torkoal)

Have you ever wondered where matcha tea comes from? The internet and science might tell you it’s from ground up green tea leaves, but in reality, it’s from the smoke rolling out of the body of a Celekoal. When the natural tea in Celekoal’s body is heated to a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit3The metric system is for lazy people and people who use base 10. This is America. We don’t us….wait. We do use base 10? What the fuck? Next you’re going to tell me we use Arabic numerals. Oh….that too, eh?, the tea changes into a powdery smoke useful for making tasty Kit Kats.

8. Aeropix (Aerodactyl/Vulpix)

I have a confession to make. I hated all of the Jurassic Park movies. All of them. Ever. Even the original with the awesome music. Dinosaurs just aren’t my thing. That said, if there’s a way you could make a dinosaur cute4Spoiler: there isn’t., it would be to put a dinosaur head on the body of something cute. So I took the cutest Gen I Pokemon in existence and slapped the head of a heartless monster on top. And it’s…passable? If only Alolan Ninetales had a shiny form with purple tails.

7. Ledytortle (Ledyba/Wartortle)

At the bottom of Japeal’s fusion page, just below where my screenshots cut off, there’s a random button that allows you to randomize the Pokemon you’re fusing together. Ledytortle was the result of clicking that button a lot. There’s two things you need to know about Ledytortle.

  1. It’s objectively horrifying.
  2. I can’t take my eyes off of it.

Those two things, particularly when combined, mean that this bug turtle gets a spot on this list. If I had to deal with it, so do all of you.

6. Swadabra (Swalot/Kadabra)

We now go to a conversation at Game Freak’s headquarters.

Developer 1: We need a new Pokemon. What can we do?

Developer 2: Okay. Hear me out on this. What if we had Kadabra…

Developer 1: Okay…

Developer 2: …then dyed it purple…

Developer 1: …go on…

Developer 2: …and made its majestic mustache look like something out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon?

Developer 1: BRILLIANT!

5. Hippotic (Hippopotas/Milotic)

Basically the same conversation in #6 happened here, only Pendelton Ward is doing the designing. That said, we’ve reached the point in this list where I start actually liking the random designs that were thrown out by the generator. This isn’t awful. I mean, the brown coloring isn’t ideal, but it’s not the worst thing either. Hippotic looks the part of a Pokemon. It gets bonus points for that.

4. Wurmdoom (Wurmple/Houndoom)

In a stunning turn of events, Wurmple made making this list really hard. It’s a testament to how well Wurmple is designed when nearly everything I fused Wurmple with that had an animal body looked good. Of all the Wurmple fusions I did, Wurmdoom was the most ridiculous looking, but it also grew on me like no other fusion on this list did. And considering there’s never been a dual type Bug/Dark Pokemon, this might be the result from this list I’m the happiest with how it turned out.

3. Waillee (Wailmer/Hitmonlee)

This is the sequel to Wall-E. It’s a whale that can kick your ass. I would watch it on Netflix5Which is like most people saying they’d see something in theaters. I don’t like going to movies..

2. Weepinckle (Weepinbell/Shuckle)

So let’s say you’re new to Pokefusions or you’re trying to show one to someone who has never seen them before. Where do you start? My suggestion is to put Weepinbell’s face on literally anything and you’ve got gold. Don’t believe me? Do you think Weepinckle is an isolated case? Here’s Weepinbell with Dratini. And Beedrill. And Togekiss. And Tyranitar. The constantly shocked look on Weepinbell’s face is wonderful. That said, the design and angle of Weepinbell’s face can look weird on certain Pokemon. And the number one fusion on this list manages to hit everything on the nose.

1. Shellcor (Shellder/Gliscor)

How is this so perfect? I mean, I get that it’s partly because Shellder and Gliscor are similar colors. And I know it’s partly that Shellder’s head isn’t terribly different in terms of size and shape from Gliscor’s. But come on. This is perfect.

 

What are the best Pokefusions you can come up with? Which of the fusions I shared do you like the best? Sound off in the comments.