Author: Eli Ring

Aspiring Novelist–Time to Get Ready for November

Do you have a story bubbling away in your head, struggling to get out? Do you wish you could get it down on paper, but you don’t know where to start?

November is National Novel Writing Month, and the non-profit organization, NaNoWriMo, provides the opportunity, encouragement, and structure to help you realize your literary dream. The task is to produce a 50,000- word first-draft novel in 30 days. It sounds daunting, but according to their website, it has been done nearly 368,000 times.

The task is to produce a 50,000- word novel in 30 days.

I have done it twice. It is challenging, but the key, like most everything in life, is prior preparation. That is why now is the time to start thinking about it. You need a plot, characters, a theme, settings, a compelling event, a beginning, middle and end, and 60 or so scenes to create your novel. Use October to work out all of those details, and writing 1,666 words a day in November is a doable, even enjoyable task.

The best part is that sometime around November 29th or 30th, after bringing your story to life, you get to write the words “The End”, knowing you have done something few have done. You have written a bad novel.

Then the task is to turn it into a good novel, which is a different adventure.

A Brief Review of “The God Whistle”

The God Whistle by Ralph Nelson Willett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is not in any of my usual reading genres, but I decided to read it anyway because I follow the author, Ralph Nelson Willett, on Twitter (@northerovation) and enjoy and often steal the Dad jokes he posts there. It turns out he is not just a great punster, but he can spin a tale into an engaging and edifying novel as well. He creates some fascinating mysteries that keep you reading along, such as a strange train whistle, an old blind guy who seems to know more than he should, and the question of whether the protagonist, Mary, will reconcile with her husband. It all gets resolved in a surprising and intriguing ending. The book is worth the read, and I will likely check out some of his other works.

View all my reviews

Next Project

I have spent the last couple of months prepping, publishing, and trying to promote my novel, Trail to Peril. Most of that has been learning the details of social media advertising, creating a website, setting up author pages on Amazon and Good Reads, and frittering away a few bucks on promotion services that didn’t work very well. It feels like I am starting to get a little traction, so I will jump on the next project.

During the 2015 NaNoWriMo, I wrote the first draft of a dystopian novel, tentatively called “Pulse”, set in Western Oregon in the aftermath of a North Korean EMP attack. The protagonist, Mackey, is faced with surviving and protecting his family in the the chaos that results. Finishing the rewrites and editing is my next project.

…2020 has delivered a treasure trove of calamity

The story’s premise is based on something I read about a government study on the effects of an EMP attack. It was a worst-case assessment that pointed to widespread chaos, a devastating death toll, and years of recovery. There are a lot of varying opinions about how severe the effects would be. For the purpose of the story, I, of course, went with the worst-case.

One thing that will help create a richer story as I rewrite and revise is the horrible year of 2020. In the first draft, the EMP comes on the heels of a pandemic that swept Oregon. The year 2020 has delivered a treasure trove of calamity to the Beaver State that can be incorporated into the rewrites including, Antifa riots, Covid-19, and the catastrophic wildfires. The use of these events in the narrative should provide something to which readers can connect, helping them put skepticism on pause so they can enjoy the story.

The goal is to rewrite and polish it up for publishing by year-end.

Judge Learned Hand on Paying Taxes

Judge Learned Hand, (b. January 27, 1872, d. August 18, 1961) was a Federal District Court Judge in the Southern District of New York and later served on the Federal Appeals Court for the Second Circuit. One of his most famous quotes and one with which most good tax attorneys and CPA’s are familiar, is this one.

“Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes. Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.” –Judge Learned Hand

False Positives

One of the astounding things during this whole Covid-19 pandemic is just how misleading the statistics are, that are being reported. The worst metric and the one used to drive public policy in Oregon at least is reported cases. There are several reasons why you should be skeptical.

Reported cases are not based on random samples and therefore do not tell you anything about the population. The number of reported cases is a function of the number of people tested. The people that are tested are self-selected, not randomly selected. This means that sick people are oversampled, and the actual infection rate in the population is probably lower than reported.

Testing is pretty reliable but not perfect. If you assume a 10% rate for false positives and a 15% rate for false negatives and then plug in an infection rate of 4.5% into a Bayesian model, it shows that about 78% of positive test results are false positives. In other words, if you test positive, there is a 78% probability that you do not have Covid-19. The New York Times published similar information here. It makes one wonder if the concept of “asymptomatic cases” isn’t being used to cover up a very low infection rate. 

Finally, because the number of reported cases closely correlates to testing, the number of cases can be manipulated by testing policies. If a Governor wants it to look like her policies are working to stem the tide of infections, all she would need to do is test fewer people. 

The use and reporting of bad statistics and wrong and conflicting information indicates the need for reform in managing pandemics. That should probably be done at the Federal level. 

Link: NY TIMES: Up to 90% Who’ve Tested COVID-Positive Wrongly Diagnosed! TRUTH: A Whole Lot Worse!