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.