Executive Order 2018211316

I wrote this short story for my own amusement, and to share with like-minded friends, but then I decided to try submitting it to a couple of online magazines. I didn’t expect it to get picked up because of the content, and because of the type of story, though I was hoping for feedback. I think this was too much to ask, as I was only provided emails stating the rejection.

I have decided to self-publish it here on my blog. Executive Order 2018211316 is about a president who is over-reaching his power, and is relevant to today’s political and social climate. It is written as dystopian/alt-reality fiction. Please feel free to comment with constructive feedback.

If you enjoy the read, I would greatly appreciate you sharing with your friends.

Thank you!


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EXECUTIVE ORDER 2018211316

by D.E. Haworth

The Oval Office was bustling with chatter in anticipation of the president’s arrival to sign an executive order, the subject of which, the White House staff has been surprisingly tight-lipped about disclosing. Usually, the press corps has either been told in advance what the president is signing, or someone has leaked it. With this administration when a directive has been leaked, it often is the president himself or his senior staff. Most of the time, the president has boasted via Twitter of some ominous problem that only he can fix, even if it was he who had created the issue. This time, not a hint about what the president would be signing.

Milling about president’s desk was a group of several men in $3,000 suits, jovial and talking loudly to be heard over the chatter. From what little clues that could be overheard these men were hoping for another big political win, a win that would benefit their wealthy and political connected donors. With each new suit ushered in the Oval Office, hands extended out to greet the new arrival in what one could only call a war of handshakes. Each combatant trying to beat his opponent with a stronger grip. Amongst the gaggle of dark-colored suits, a bright spot of color stood out in the form of an attractive blond woman wearing a black knee length skirt and a bright red three button jack over a white blouse. The focal point of her outfit was the black fade to red 6-inch heels that most likely cost more than any ensemble in the room.

Opposite the president’s desk, on the far side of the Oval Office, the press corps was preparing to cover this heavily teased signing. In contrast, the conversations in this group are hushed and center around setting up for the president’s nationally televised signing of this Executive Order. The more prestigious journalists and news outlets are afforded the privilege of being front and center, while the new faces and lesser known news organizations are positioned on the sides or the back of the room. Center and foremost is Jean Anderson, covering her third presidential administration. She is conservatively dressed in a black pantsuit, with matching flats. Her years as a political journalist, show in her gray hair and aged facial features, but that matters not to those rising in the ranks of journalism who look up to her as a mentor and role model. As a previous Pulitzer Prize winner for National Reporting, and known for asking hard-hitting questions, it is common for people to look to her as a role model. It is widely known that she is liberal leaning, but that has never interfered in her unbiased reporting or her unquestionable integrity.

“Bill have you heard what this is all about,” Jean asks a colleague.

“Not a clue. Everyone’s been tight-lipped. The president hasn’t tweeted since yesterday, and the minions are obviously in the dark,” Bill replies.

“With all the seniority here, it’s got to be something big. And why so secretive? This Executive Order is bound to be something of moronic proportions.”

This made Bill chuckle.

A young staffer enters the room carrying a box of pens adorned with the Presidential Seal and the highly anticipated Executive Order, placing them on the president’s empty desk. She turns and says something quietly to the chief of staff who then calls the room to order. The suits clamor for a position close to where the president will be sitting, to take advantage of the prime-time exposure. The vice president is the first to move to his customary position just back and to the right of the president. Breaking with tradition, the attractive blond stands opposite of the vice president, where the speaker of the house would typically stand, back and to the left of the president. Camera lights are flicked on, boom microphones are extended, and micro recorders are readied to capture the president’s speech.

While it usually takes less than a minute for the president to enter after the chief of staff calls the room to order, it always seems like an eternity, the silence unnerving.

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Please visit Short Stories for a complete copy of Exectutive Order 2018211316 by D.E. Haworth (.pdf and Kindle .mobi versions are available).


Remodeling the Protagonist

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I am in the midst of working through character sketches and outlining for my first novel. I would describe the story as a dystopian/survival/alt reality. The common thread I have noticed in reading/listening to other books in this genre (sub-genre) is that a good number of them are cut from the same cloth. Often there has been a terrorist or EMP strike, and Mr. Prepper has to get home to his family. The main character lacks a character arc, and he knows exactly how to survive the situation, with the obligatory minor setbacks squeezed in here and there.

I realize that sounds arrogant, but that is what I have come across so far. There are some good examples of this genre, such as Year One by Nora Roberts, it is a fantastic example. Though many other books I have read fit the first scenario. Maybe I am looking in the wrong places, but if you know of more good, contemporary examples, please pass it on.

Early in the process, I developed a sketch of the antagonist and the antagonistic forces in play, including the character arc of the antagonist. Next, I started the same process for the protagonist, developing a sketch of who the protagonist is as a person and what their character arc would be through the story. Development was moving along nicely, and I was happy with what I was creating in this process. I was getting a real good feel for who the protagonist was and how they would react in various situations.

As I moved to the next phase of collecting and developing the ideas floating around in my head into an outline, I hit my first stumbling block. The protagonist that I had created was a CIS white male, and while there is absolutely no issue with that in general (after all, that would describe me) when I looked at that in context of my story it eroded much of my desired conflict and tension. Without giving too much away, a CIS white male would have the benefit of white male privilege in my setting, which is close to our current modern day situation in America. Now I have to admit, while I get the concept of ‘white privilege’ and I recognize the benefits that it affords people like myself; every time I hear that phrase I get an uneasy stirring from within that urges me to be defensive. That is my issue, and it is an issue I need to get over.

Back to the story at hand. At the beginning of my story, if the protagonist were to remain as is, a CIS white male, the reader would most likely be thinking, “That guy would not have that much of a problem getting through that situation.” Whereas, if the protagonist is a person of color, an immigrant, female, LGBTQ, etc., then that ups the stakes of the danger they would be facing in the early chaos of the story. Sadly in our world and the setting of my story, the people in these communities are at greater risk. Coming to this realization, I have decided to go back to the drawing board and start over in developing the protagonist for my first novel.

My First Short Story Submission

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We all learn lessons in life. Some stick, some don’t. I have always learned more from rejection and failure than from acceptance and success. – Henry Rollins


As I get more serious about writing, I desire to share my stories with readers. Moving from entertaining family and myself to a more polished work of fiction with the intention of publishing for others to hopefully enjoy. With that in mind, I have just finished my first short story which I have submitted this week to Strange Horizons magazine. I chose Strange Horizons as my initial source based on what they do and don’t want:

We want good speculative fiction. If your story doesn’t have a speculative element, or strong speculative-fiction sensibilities, it’s probably not for us.

As my first submission of writing, and I am very excited but trying to manage my expectations at the same time. I realize rejection is likely, and I am okay with that prospect. I only revised my previous stories once, since it was for me and maybe those close to me; with this story, I made multiple edits/revisions based on Grammarly feedback (since grammar is not my strongest skill) and beta reader input. I used to find the revision process quite tedious, so I skipped it based on the final audience. This time I enjoyed the revision process, knowing my end goal of exposing myself to a greater audience of readers.

I so want to share my story right now (stomps my inner child), but most magazines will not accept previously published stories, to my surprise, as a newbie, this includes self-publishing on a blog. How long will it be before my short story titled Executive Order 2018211316 sees the light of day? The submission system showed my position in the cue as 398, and that it was an average of 18 days to reply. My research shows this is a relatively brief period to receive a reply, but my wild imagination is hyperdrive, and my anticipation is pushing my short patience to near eruption.

Being honest, I am battling self-doubt in regards to this submission. Is it good enough? They won’t like it. Etc. I hope they offer feedback, but that is hopeful thinking according to their submission guidelines. In the meantime, I am researching and lining up other magazines to submit my dystopian – alt reality short story. I’ll work through this process a handful of times, and if it fails to be accepted, then I’ll fall back to publishing it on my blog. I enjoyed writing it, so I am sure someone out there will enjoy reading it (besides my wife and children).

I am now working on another short story and outlining my first novel which will be a part of a dystopian-thriller trilogy.

It’s a Habit!

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Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself. – Mark Twain

It has been just over a month since I joined the ranks of the unemployed. I wish I could say it has been joyous, but I am not the type to sit at home. That said, I had a great time with the family vacationing in Michigan, but since I have returned home, I have been mostly job hunting. What a drag! There is a silver lining though, I have had time to write every day consistently. Which was my primary writing objective for July, forming the habit of writing every day.

My initial plan, to build the writing habit, was to get it out of the way first thing in the morning. That ended up not being practical within the confines of my family obligations and lifestyle. I revised the goal to ‘write as soon as you can’ each day, and that has tended to work better.

Another part of the initial writing goal involved the metric of writing 1,000 words a day or at least an hour a day. Unfortunately, that didn’t work well either, and frankly, it took much of the fun out of writing. I could see that working better (though probably involving higher word counts) if writing is your job or primary source of income. It is not in my case. Again I revised the goal, with the desire to make the goal something I would consistently achieve, to make a habit of writing daily.

Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses. – George Washington Carver

The goal has been revised to read, “Write every day, as soon as you can, and as often as you can during the day.” That takes the pressure (guilt) of not getting to it right away, but the priority is still there to get it done before doing other items that can wait. There were days I only wrote a couple of hundred words or wrote for 15 minutes. Days like when I was traveling with the family, but I still made the time to write. Other days, I had several hours and was able to write a couple of thousand words. Most days I was able to write with my morning coffee, and other days it was the last thing I did before going to bed. This goal is working well for me. I look forward to my daily writing time. It is like a reward. I am proud to say, I have accomplished my goal every day over the last month.

I can confidently claim writing is a daily habit.

Another Start at Writing

My job is moving to Los Angeles.

Sadly, they didn’t invite me to go with my job. Granted I made it clear I wasn’t going back to California.

What better time to take another crack at writing. I can’t remember exactly how many times I wanted to launch a regular writing routine only to have it derailed (though it has been less than a handful).

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford

I loved that job, and I’m sad not to be working there anymore, but I believe that things happen for a reason. While it is not always clear to much later, my initial thoughts are that this is an opportunity to relaunch my writing career. Maybe “opportunity” is a better choice of words than “career.” As much as I enjoyed the job, the pay, and the opportunities that the position provided, it was a very time-consuming job. Between that and my responsibilities at home (primarily my two young children), there was little time left for writing. If I am, to be honest with myself, that last sentence is an excuse. The reality is I didn’t make the time to do it.

I am constantly day-dreaming and coming up with stories and story ideas. Any free moment, my mind drifts among fantastical ideas. I enjoy coming up with the ideas and developing them. I need to get them down on paper. I believe I would enjoy writing. I think I have what it takes to be a good writer. I like crafts that involve opportunities for continuous learning. Plus, it would make a great retirement career. Yes, I am at that point in my life where I am ready to start moving towards my retirement career.

How do I know find myself in this situation of having to relaunch my desire to draft a novel? I have narrowed my previous failures to three reasons: failing to make writing a high enough priority (more on that later), sacrificing writing time for learning to write (the cycle of having to learn as much as possible to write) and spending too much time getting organized to write. In other words, I am my worst enemy when it comes to writing.

Finding myself without a job, but with a decent severance, I have the luxury of taking time off before moving on to my next position. While the fantasy of making a living from writing is enticing, it is not practical at this point. What is practical is taking this time off to develop a system and the habit of consistent writing. That system needs to address those three reasons.

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

I was listening to the Creative Penn podcast (number 382) “Redesign Your Life to Prioritize Writing with David Kadavy” (https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2018/07/02/redesign-your-life-prioritize-writing-with-david-kadavy/), that got me thinking that I need to redesign my life to prioritize writing.

The main reason I have not succeeded in my past attempts is I failed to give my writing the proper priority. On paper, I made it a priority, which is the say I put it on my to-do list although I would accomplish many things before allowing myself to sit down and write. I would make sure I had all my house chores done, the kids’ needs met, my professional responsibilities completed, spend time with my wife, etc. In other words, finish adulting, then allow myself time to write. Once I completed all that stuff, I found myself with no time left to write. Even this was false because I would tell myself I’m too tired to write and I would play Xbox or watch TV. I cannot shuck some of those responsibilities, but what I can do is accomplish the writing before meeting all those other responsibilities. That means I’m going to have to change my life to ensure that writing is the first thing I do in the day verse hoping there’s enough time at the end of the day to squeak it in.

I need to build the habit of sitting down to write, actual writing, every day. In the past, I have given myself goals, such as write 1,000 words a day or write an hour a day. That all sounds good except there were days I didn’t even have the time for that. To be successful this time I feel I need to get away from (at least temporarily) quantified goals. To complete my goal of making a daily habit, it needs to be simple, achievable, and realistic. I think we’ve all heard ‘if you do something for 21 days will become a habit’. I need to do this for those three weeks. An achievable goal is sitting down at the beginning of my day and writing. Write for however long; it may be working on a novel, a blog post, developmental writing, or just writing something that may get thrown away at the end. Working on the craft of writing, not outlining, editing, research, etc.

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The other bad habits I have been spending too much time learning to do something and spending too much time organizing to do something. A previous mentor once said, “the best way to learn something is to get out there and do it. Yes, you’re going to make mistakes, but that is how you learn”. I need to take that to heart. I don’t need to know everything to write. I can be writing and learning. They can co-exist. Organizing, outlining, research, editing, etc. can wait until I’ve completed my daily writing. Writing takes precedence.

My plan for the next 21 days is to write first thing, well right after my cup of coffee. I’ll keep you up-to-date on how it’s going via twitter and on this blog.

Please share in the comments what you have done to create your successful writing habit. Or share the challenges you have faced while trying to develop a writing habit.