If you followed along last year with my updates on the publication of These Are My Friends on Politics, you’ll recall that the real stars of those updates were the pictures of my 16-year-old dog Nina.
Last month, she passed away. I haven’t brought it up much because (a) I didn’t feel like it and (b) I didn’t have anything valuable to say about losing a beloved pet beyond the fact that I do not recommend the experience. For those who didn’t know Nina firsthand, I’d rather leave you with something uplifting that characterized her life than simply share some sad news amid the endless bad news that keeps hitting us these days.
So I did the reasonable thing and wrote and illustrated and published a book about her instead. It’s nothing extraordinary — look, *you* try making a book in a month in your spare time during one of your busiest work periods of the year — but it conveys much of what made Nina such a big deal in this little corner of the world. And it has some pretty pictures in it. And it’s more funny than sad. And perhaps it’s a nice distraction and reminder that the world isn’t all bad even if we’re threatening to end it with simultaneous nuclear and civil wars.
Anyway, it’s available now if you’re interested in taking a look. Thanks for reading, and enjoy. If you have any dog-loving friends whom you think would enjoy this, please pass it on.
Amazon (paperback and Kindle): dog.billyok.com/amazon
Barnes & Noble: dog.billyok.com/bn
Hello once again my friends.
This has been a very, very long week. This time last week we were in the top three, Now we’re trailing behind in fourth by 22 pre-orders. But it was 29 pre-orders this morning! We gained a lot of ground today, and that’s something I think all of us should be proud of. We can’t stop yet, though. We can’t even pause.
Less than three days remain in this contest. The victors will be decided on Tuesday, and I aim to be among them. 22 pre-orders is both so little and so much. So little because it is definitely, absolutely possible for us to get them and catch up to where we were; at the beginning of this contest, we were able to get that many in just a single day, and a few days ago we were able to get 18 all in one day. But...it’s so much because that was then and this is now. That was before I called upon everyone I know for help. That was back when I had enough money to run a couple ads, that was before most of the people I knew I could count on had placed their orders. Right now...I don’t know where those 22 orders are going to come from.
So once again, I’m calling out to you all for your support. If you haven’t yet, talk to your spouse about this. Talk to your parents. Talk to your siblings. Your best friends. Your coworker who’s always reading during lunch breaks. Talk to anyone you can think of; if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this campaign and the one for Tantalus Depths, it’s that you absolutely never know who might be willing to help you when you need it.
The odds are not quite in our favor right now, but I insist on optimism. I must proceed as if victory is a forgone conclusion. If I try as hard as I can and fail, I will be content. If I give up when I could have won, I’ll never forgive myself. So I take the path of positivity, just like our final highlighted character, Katie Salvador.
When civil war divided the crew of The Somnambule, it was the first true conflict ever witnessed by the third and fourth generation crewmen. To the naive and isolated descendants of The Somnambule’s original crew, the terrors of battle and mutiny were an awakening, a loss of innocence. For most noncombatants, the mere notion that their fellow crew members were killing one another in the mid-decks was enough to crush the youthful optimism fostered by a lifetime of security. Not so for Katie Salvador.
A fourth generation member of The Somnambule’s crew, Katie was a constant source of positivity and optimism, sharing her excess of cheer with every member of the ship’s crew she encountered. Like everyone else born on the ship, Katie was selected from a young age to fulfill a set of specific roles within the ship’s hierarchy. Katie was selected to join the ship’s medical staff, and while she took to her assigned job with the same zeal she applied to the rest of her life, her natural desire to help others led her to voluntarily pick up additional responsibilities in the ship.
By the age of twelve, she was already spending much of her free time in the hydroponic farms on the ship’s inner decks, taking great pleasure in tending to the various crop plants and helping them grow. She continued with this side work into her teens, even while she began to work full shifts in the ship’s infirmaries.
When Marion Krieg led her rebellion in an attempt to seize control of the ship, Katie pulled double shifts in the infirmary to treat the wounded, and continued to do so until the conflict resolved to a tense stalemate when Krieg’s rebels retreated to the lower decks.
Though the loyalist members of the crew had successfully thwarted Krieg’s initial rebellion, it had come at great cost. Many members of The Somnambule’s security force were killed in the battle, and with the conflict remaining unresolved, new recruits had to be drafted from the ship’s civilian population to replace them. Seeing a new opportunity to serve, Katie volunteered to take up arms and join the security force.
Training under her father, the head of the security force, Katie quickly learned the basics of combat. Her extensive medical training saw her fit well into a support role as a combat medic. Though still only 16 years old, Katie served as a vital member of the loyalists’ makeshift militia, not only for her skills as a healer, but for the warmth of her personality. Katie provided her brothers and sisters in arms with an endless supply of positivity in a time when morale could not have sunk lower...