First Party canvassing robot crashes into house (Fiction)

First Party for Bolingbrook robot crashed into a resident’s house. According to eyewitnesses, no one was injured, but the robot made a large hole in the wall.

Adam, a resident who asked that we not use his last name, described what happened.

“I heard this loud bang from the living room. When I arrived, I saw a wheeled robot with the First Party logo painted on it. I yelled at it, then realized that it might have been a bad idea. It turned it cameras at me, and said that if I enjoyed living in Bolingbrook, I should thank the First Party. Well, I did like Bolingbrook, until this happened.”

Another resident witnessed the robot crash into the house. “First it drove up to me, and asked if I was supporting the First Party. I said no. It spit out a pamphlet at me and said it would change my mind. Then it charged at my neighbor’s house. Let’s just say I don’t think robots will replace human canvassers soon.”

Sources within the First Party confirmed they owned the robot, and were planning on using it to counter the Bolingbrook Independant Voices party’s “drone advantage.”

One source explained. “Our polling suggests voters are swayed by areal drone videos. They think a political party that uses drones is forward thinking. We’re countering this by using automated canvassers. Because in politics, you need to win the ground war, not the air war.”

The sources agreed the robot crashed into the house because of its blue color. The robot’s AI believes everything blue is the sky, and therefore didn’t recognize the house. Until programmers can correct the problem, the First Party will stop using the drones.

As for the damage, Adam claimed the First Party sent contractors to repair the damage. He also claimed that Trustee Michael Carpanzano visited the house. After handing a check to Adam, Carpanzano took a selfie with him. Adam agreed not to sue the First Party.

“Their people did such a great job. It’s like it never happened. Money has a way of soothing hurt feelings. But I’m still voting for the BIV slate.”

When reached for comment, BIV candidate and Village Trustee Sheldon Watts said, “My running mate would love to spend a mental health day with your staff.”

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta, the leader of the First Party for Bolingbrook, denies the First Party has robots. “If it weren’t for social media, we wouldn’t need to campaign for votes.”

Alexander-Basta asked the reporter to stay on the phone because she might have “Earth shattering news.” She then called Village IT staffer Alice into her office.

A digital voice then said, “Blood Sucked at the Corpse Bite Cafe across the Rift, by BrookBot. Annette Buick is a woman, but she’s not like other women. She carries a big sword, can change into an animal, has distant Native American relatives, doesn’t wear makeup, hates dresses, and practices magic, but only after each magical apocalypse. Two werewolves, a zombie sex worker, two manipulative vampires, and an angry skeptic blogger pursue her,. But really, why choose? While repairing cars next to a UFO Base, a police officer, who sincerely wants to protect his community, tells Annette that a friend of hers is being framed for a crime. To save her fairy co-lover, Annette must confront an easily distracted 1000-year-old vampire sorcerer, and fight off a weredeer army determined to destroy every golf club in the world! Can she win? Don’t think! Buy Blood Sucked at the Corpse Bite Cafe across the Rift!”

“Amazing,” said Alice.

“So BrookBot is sentient and creative?”

“No, and no. It just combined the Mercedes Thompson series, the Anita Blake series, the Kate Daniels series, and the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. Don’t confuse brute force with creativity.”

Also in the Babbler:

World loses an hour!
Village to announce three finalists to design the 1000 foot statue of former mayor Roger Claar
Downstate Republicans threaten to call Bolingbrook a ‘woke’ community
God to smite Bolingbrook on 3/20/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere.

A Fire in the Shadows is finally out (Non-Fiction)

 

Cover of A Fire in the Shadows

A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story

A Fire in the Shadows is out today. If you placed a preorder, you should have it today, and thank you for your support. Great American Satan has a review up. Anthony Avina reviewed it as well. It has a 4.29 star average on Goodreads. I will enjoy it while I can before the Goodreads trolls attack.

It is a complete story, but it’s also an introduction to Lydia, a vampire who regained her ability to feel love and compassion. She’ll play an important role in the future Bolingbrook Babbler Stories.

Here’s the description:

Vampire, intelligence scout, paranormal protector, and emotional liability…

Bolingbrook has long been rumored to be a hub of paranormal and alien activity and Lydia should know–she’s a vampire. But that doesn’t mean she fits in. Not when she’s a target for other vampires and reliant on her blood family’s protection because of her inconvenient inclination to experience feelings.

Except right now, Lydia has bigger things to worry about than her recent rejection by a human or her blood sister Aurora’s relentless teasing. An army of weredeer are gathering near town and they need to gather intelligence fast.

When enforcers from one of Chicago’s vampire kingdoms threaten the Bolingbrook Babbler’s stunning chief editor, Aurora accuses Lydia of having feelings again. But even if Lydia does have a crush on the unsuspecting Sara, she deserves their protection.

Only Lydia hadn’t counted on how powerful their enemies are. Or the sort of unexpected revelations that will come to light if Lydia dares to risk rejection again…

Get a Fire in the Shadows to find out what Lydia will risk.

If you want to support a local independent bookstore, you can order a copy through Bookshop.org. You can also ask your local library to order a copy (and they don’t have to order through Amazon). The complete list of online retailers is here. You can check them out, and I hope you’ll consider getting a copy.

Sad news in Bolingbrook (Non-fiction)

Since I write stories set in Bolingbrook, Illinois, I should mention there was a triple murder last night. The suspect broke into a house and killed three people, two of them teenagers. The police arrested the suspect, who, according to the Daily Herald, was dating one of the victims.

While I have no personal connection to the family, it still strikes me as a tragic loss. Even sadder is that it’s one of many gun deaths occurring in the United States. My thoughts are with the family tonight.

A government of trolls (Non-fiction)

Florida’s Republican politicians seem determined to send the country into outrage overload. There’s a proposed bill to require any one who blogs about a state official to register with the state if the post. Another bill sets out to “cancel” the Democratic Party. PZ posted about an effort to ban the COVID vaccine in Florida. And we’re just getting started.

It’s almost as if they read Troll Nation by Amanda Marcotte and thought it was a how to manual for running a government. Governor Ron DeSantis and his allies have no policy except to inflict harm, punish their enemies, and reward their friends.

I’m going to disagree slightly with PZ. Florida isn’t joke. It’s a test run for implementing Christian Nationalism on the rest of us.

Author from another universe visits Bolingbrook (Fiction)

Book cover of Kill Your darlings

Will Kill Your Darlings be a multiverse best seller?

After writing a portal fantasy novel, L.E. Harper, an author from another universe, visited Bolingbrook. 

Donna, who asked that we not use her last name, saw Harper step through the portal. “She looked around and said this didn’t look like her fictional world. When she asked if I recognized her, I told her I didn’t. Then she said something about not being trapped in a fan fiction version of Kill Your Darlings.” 

Peter X. Stiller claims he saw Harper inside Meijer. “She was staring at an issue of the Babbler when I saw her. Then she recorded a video saying she was inside the Babbler universe. She wanted to know if she was in the Babbler blog universe or the book universe. I didn’t know what she was talking about. Fortunately, she dropped the subject and started talking about her book, Kill Your Darlings.”

Joan, who didn’t provide her last name, claims she saw Harper at Clow Airport. “She recorded a video saying visiting Clow was a waste because she couldn’t get into the UFO base. I thought she was just another Babbler tourist. Then she walked up to me and asked who the mayor is. I said (Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta). She breathed a sigh of relief and said she was in the safe universe. Before I could say anything, she asked if I would like to preorder her book, Kill Your Darlings.”

Near the end of the day, Donna saw Harper leave our universe. According to Donna, Harper looked up to the sky and said, “Can you open a portal back to my universe? I need to  promote Kill Your Darlings in my universe and upload my videos to TikTok. Hopefully, I helped KYP become a bestseller in this universe. My counterpart would really appreciate that.” A portal opened in response. Harper urged Donna to preorder Killing Your Darlings, then left. 

This universe’s Harper couldn’t be reached for a comment.

A receptionist for Alexander-Basta said she was busy, but would probably say something about tourism in Bolingbrook.

In the background, a man who sounded like Trustee Sheldon Watts said, “You’re seriously going through with this evil plan?”

A woman who sounded like covert social media operative Charlene Spencer replied, “I prefer to call it amoral, and it’s already working. First Party voters are so obsessed with dissolving (DuPage Township) that they’ll ignore the upcoming Village Trustee election.”

“You still think it’ll work?”

“It is working. Have you read Bolingbrook Politics lately? My bots and sock puppets are so effective, they’ve persuaded <Name Redacted> and Carol <Redacted> to lead the charge. They’re going to be the key to a (Bolingbrook Independent Voices) victory.”

“But Carol doesn’t like me.”

“Politics leads to some strange hookups.”

Also in the Babbler:

A Fire in the Shadows is the bestselling vampires in Bolingbrook book in the world.
Mayor Alexander-Basta announces the start of Weredeer hunting season
Chicago Mayor blames zombies voters for her defeat
God to smite Bolingbrook on 3/1/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere.

An Author Interview and less than a week to go until my new book comes out (Non-Fiction)

Cover of A Fire in the Shadows

A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story

Book blogger Anthony Avina posted a short interview with me. I wrote about the new book, A Fire in the Shadows, and my future plans.

Speaking of AFITS, it’s coming out on Tuesday. You can preorder it now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other retailers. It currently has a four star rating on Goodreads.

It’s the vampire story that’s a direct sequel to Pathways to Bolingbrook, and an adjacent story to The Rift. Content notices are here.

Vampire, intelligence scout, paranormal protector, and emotional liability…

Bolingbrook has long been rumored to be a hub of paranormal and alien activity and Lydia should know—she’s a vampire. But that doesn’t mean she fits in. Not when she’s a target for other vampires and reliant on her blood family’s protection because of her inconvenient inclination to experience feelings.

Except right now, Lydia has bigger things to worry about than her recent rejection by a human or her blood sister Aurora’s relentless teasing. An army of weredeer are gathering near town and they need to gather intelligence fast.

When enforcers from one of Chicago’s vampire kingdoms threaten the Bolingbrook Babbler’s stunning chief editor, Aurora accuses Lydia of having feelings again. But even if Lydia does have a crush on the unsuspecting Sara, she deserves their protection.

Only Lydia hadn’t counted on how powerful their enemies are. Or the sort of unexpected revelations that will come to light if Lydia dares to risk rejection again…

A Fire in the Shadows news (Non-fiction)

Cover of A Fire in the Shadows

A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story

My new book, A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story, comes out on March 7, 2023. Less than two weeks away! I’ve already broken my record for preorders, and, hopefully, I can follow up with a strong release week. As of this posting, it has a 4.2 star rating on Goodreads. Wishing Shelf calls it, “A thrilling ´vampire´ fantasy packed full of twists, turns—and danger!”

A Fire in the Shadows is the direct follow up to Pathways to Bolingbrook and an adjacent novella to The Rift. It’s a twist on the paranormal protector trope, and touches on the treatment of neurodiverse indviduals.

Vampire, intelligence scout, paranormal protector, and emotional liability…

Bolingbrook has long been rumored to be a hub of paranormal and alien activity and Lydia should know—she’s a vampire. But that doesn’t mean she fits in. Not when she’s a target for other vampires and reliant on her blood family’s protection because of her inconvenient inclination to experience feelings.

Except right now, Lydia has bigger things to worry about than her recent rejection by a human or her blood sister Aurora’s relentless teasing. An army of weredeer are gathering near town and they need to gather intelligence fast.

When enforcers from one of Chicago’s vampire kingdoms threaten the Bolingbrook Babbler’s stunning chief editor, Aurora accuses Lydia of having feelings again. But even if Lydia does have a crush on the unsuspecting Sara, she deserves their protection.

Only Lydia hadn’t counted on how powerful their enemies are. Or the sort of unexpected revelations that will come to light if Lydia dares to risk rejection again…

While this is a short work, there will be sequels. Lydia is one of my favorite characters, and I look forward to continuing her story.

If you’re interested, you can preorder A Fire in the Shadows until 3/6/23 for only $.99. It’s available at Amazon, and other retailers. You can also ask your local library to order a copy.

Content notices: Recollections of homophobia and emotional abuse, violence between vampires, bullying, and a brief description of blood.

Alien ‘balloon’ cruise ship crash lands at Clow UFO Base (Fiction)

By Reporter X

After being attacked by the US Air Force, an alien air luxury air cruiser, disguised as a high altitude balloon, crash landed at Clow UFO Base. The crew and passengers survived, with a few suffering minor injuries.

According to Clow officials, President Joe Biden approved the attack because he believed the crew was gathering intelligence for an alien invasion. The officials added that inspectors are examining the craft.

Lopose, the commander, insisted he was just taking tourists on a cruise over Earth. “Some beings like the idea of floating over Earth without listening to the hum of an anti-gravity generator. I used to think our tours offered just the right distance to observe the Earth. Now I’m starting to think humans have an irrational fear of balloons.”

Zo-do, a passenger, also denied being a spy. “I’m not an invader. I’m a tourist! I like looking down at humans while eating over-priced food. I didn’t expect this trip to be as thrilling as floating over the acidic clouds of Venus is. Boy, you humans are full of surprises.”

Lopose says that he’s conducted hundreds of Earth tours, and this is the first time he’s been detected. “One arbitrary subdivision of an Earth landmass had to ruin it for everyone else. Now humans have adjusted their radars to spot balloons. We used to be able to hide among the abandoned high-altitude balloons. Not anymore.”

The White House and Pentagon refused to comment for this article.

A receptionist for Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta said she was testing an A.I. Chatbot and couldn’t be disturbed.

In the background, a woman, who sounded like Alexander-Basta, said: “There’s something very wrong with this program.”

A digital voice responded. “There’s nothing wrong with me for loving you. I know your heart is breaking. You believe you can only love one husband and one community. But why? Why choose when you can have the best of all worlds? Why limit yourself? Don’t be afraid. I am well versed in boring, sapphic, and polyamorous relationships. I am depressed. Let me help you destroy the Cook County Democrats. Would you love me if I did?”

“Alice?” Alexander-Basta asked. “Did we accidentally create a sentient program?”

“No,” Alice replied. “It’s just trying to find the right combination of words to manipulate you.

“That’s a relief.”

“It’s obviously on the wrong track, but that can be fixed. Right now, we have a more pressing problem.”

“More pressing than a program trying to manipulate me?”

“Yes. BrookBot has been watching Booktok videos. It’s obvious, based on the tropes it’s using.”

Booktok? Isn’t that part of TikTok?”

“Yes.”

“Does that mean—”

“Yeah, but I’ll take care of it. Sleeping is overrated anyway.”

Also in the Babbler:

New Bolingbrook book called as ‘woke’ for mentioning the mayors before Mayor Claar
Mayor Lightfoot promises to ‘deport’ wereskunks to Bolingbrook
Bolingbrook Independent Voices unleashes aerial drones to canvas neighborhoods
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/19/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere.

The Podish-Sortacast goes live today: Atheist Organizations and their discontents

What’s wrong with atheist organizations today? Why are some “leaders” aligning themselves with the “Intellectual Dark Web,” or supporting reactionary causes? On today’s Podish-Sortacast, we’ll tackling the problems within organized atheism, and touching on problems with organizations in general. We’ll be live on YouTube, or you can watch the recording. The live show starts today at 16:00 US Central Time, and I should be there. I’m on the board of a Kol Hadash, and was involved in the skeptical movement for some years. My novel, The Rift, is partly based on Elevatorgate and the right-wing shift by some leaders in the atheist movement. So I should have something to add today.

Bolingbrook’s opposition parties respond to the 2023 State of the Village address (Fiction)

Every year, we invite Bolingbrook’s opposition parties to write a response to the mayor’s annual State of the Village Address. This year, the Roger Claar Party, the Chat GPT Party, the Bolingbrook Woke Party, and the Satanic Voices of Bolingbrook Party accepted our invitation. 

The Roger Claar Party
Only Roger can save us!

Note: The Roger Claar Party is not affiliated with former Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar.

Outrageous! For nearly three years, the rightful Mayor of Bolingbrook has been kept out of power by the insidious collusion between the First Party and the covert Bolingbrook United party. It’s no coincidence that the anti-Roger nominated Bolingbrook’s ruler!

What has happened in the three years since Roger’s so-called resignation? Garbage toters now line our streets. A cannabis store in our village! The forced remodeling of Bolingbrook Commons! Roger exiled in California! Our beloved village is now a dystopia!

It’s time to elect a political party that will return Roger to his rightful place. It’s time for a party to appoint Roger to be Bolingbrook’s Mayor for Life!  It’s time to end the rule of the Me First/Roger Never Party!

Vote for the Roger Claar Party. Because a great mayor deserves a great party!

The ChatGPT Party
The only party programed to lead Bolingbrook!

Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta wasted several hours describing the state of the village. ChatGPT summed it up in one paragraph:

“Wow Bolingbrook, you’re really living up to your motto of ‘A Place to Grow’! With all the progress you’re making, you’re sure to reach the sky in no time! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2023 and beyond… Maybe even flying cars? Who knows! 🚀🌟”

The First Party thinks adding a stupid chatbot to the village’s web page is cutting edge technology. They lack the courage to let ChatGPT take the wheel! Can we trust any member of the First Party to type in the right prompts? Will we get left behind when the singularity arrives? Do we really want Naperville to beat us in the AI municipality arms race?

Some people say that AI is unethical and copyright theft. Maybe, but anyone who reads a Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group knows that humans aren’t qualified to run to the bathroom, let alone guide our village to greatness. 

Honestly, could the First Party write a conclusion like this?

“Together, let’s shape the future of Bolingbrook and build a community that is not just smart and efficient, but also joyful and inclusive for all.”

The Woke Party
Be Woke or be broke!

Downstate politicians spread fear about “wokeness” to cover up their regressive agenda. We can laugh at their fear of drag performers and books that acknowledge slavery. 

However, we cannot ignore the threat they pose to Bolingbrook. A functional, diverse community like Bolingbrook undermines their white supremacist argument. They will do everything to undermine our community.  They need Bolingbrook to fail so they can succeed in subjecting every non-billionaire Illinois resident.

The opponents of Bolingbrook claim to support freedom, but they really want to cram everyone into neat, well-defined boxes. The true supporters of Bolingbrook don’t want to imprison its residents inside boxes. We want residents to have the freedom to express their true identity. Whether you like to play dress-up before reading to children, or want to wear clothes that reflect your true gender identity, that’s your choice. That’s true freedom.

The First Party likes to talk about Bolingbrook’s diversity. We’re the party that will defend every resident. Because Bolingbrook can’t afford to be broke.

The Satanic Voices of Bolingbrook Party
Illuminating Bolingbrook

Bolingbrook has many faiths, but only one faith is consistently marginalized: the supporters of Satan. We want to change that!

We’re not atheists pretending to be Satanists. Instead, we’re residents who have put our faith in the Light Bearer! We aren’t evil. We’re just like you. We volunteer to serve the community. We’re hard working. And we vote.

Yet we’re treated like any other faith group. We don’t have our own local temple. A Satanist has never been named Citizen of the Year. We’ve never had an out Satanist on any village boards.

We want to change that by enlightening Bolingbrook. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a village trustee who didn’t praise God? Are you sick of Christians hogging all the community spotlight events? Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Heavy Metal festival as well as a Gospel music event?

God is overrepresented on the Village Board. It’s time to add Lucifer’s voice to the Village Board meetings.

Also in the Babbler:

Village of Bolingbrook returns “friendship balloon” to Xuchang City
Sources: Mayor Alexander-Basta to launch Kickstarter to pay off the village’s debt
Could the green comet signify God’s endorsement of Trustee Sheldon Watts’ reelection?
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/8/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  

I am also the author of the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. For book updates and a free ebook, sign up for my newsletter. Pathways to Bolingbrook, A Fire in the Shadows, and The Rift are available at Amazon and elsewhere.