Monday, February 24, 2014

"You can make a character do something that makes the reader want to punch you in the mouth." A conversation with Sean Platt

Many writers know Sean Platt as a host on the Self Publishing Podcast along with Johnny Truant and David Wright. I first met Sean when I came on the podcast in early 2013 to discuss ebook formatting. Since then, I’ve read several of his titles including season one of Yesterday’s Gone. It is a stellar dystopian series and I’m desperately trying to catch up with them. Platt and Wright have published four seasons and I’ve finished the first. I was both thrilled and honored to collaborate with Sean on Lost Track, a short story in the world of The Beam. The Beam is serialized sci-fi that Sean and co-writer Johnny B. Truant call their best fiction.

Besides being a great writer Sean is a great human. He is compassionate and always willing to share his successes and failures so that others can learn from them. I don’t know many artists that are as transparent as Sean Platt. If you want to know more about his journey in self publishing, Write. Publish. Repeat. is now available and is getting rave reviews.

I Google Hungout (past tense of Google Hangout?) with Sean on a cold day in January. We talked about writing, reading, blogging and what makes a reader want to punch you in the mouth.

How did you get started in the business?

I started out assuming I couldn’t write. I didn’t go to school to write. My wife nagged me into writing, because I talk too much. [laughing] So I did and I thought I was better than I was. I didn’t know how much I had to learn and I didn’t realize one of the things that always stopped me from starting was thinking, “I didn’t go to school. I don’t know where the commas go.” And that was the wrong thing to worry about. It was the wrong place to put my attention. What I should have been thinking about was, “How do I tell this story? What do the readers actually care about?” The first couple of years that I wrote, I wrote a lot. I had a blog and it blew up pretty fast. I figured I’d start a blog because it was teaching myself how to write. I figured there was no better way to learn how to write than to write for a live audience. They would tell me if I sucked or not and I didn’t really know. I never thought I was a good writer. In fact, I thought I wasn’t a good writer. What I thought I was good at was getting better at something and I could do things quickly. I believed you could build a blog and blow it up and then leverage the attention. I got plenty of attention but I didn’t know how to alchemize that into currency. And so, I had a very hard time. I wasn’t making any money. I took a lot of ghost writing jobs and I learned how to write well and fast. But when I was writing it was still about how everything sounded instead of what it did. I didn’t get to be the writer I am now until I started to write copy, sales letters and stuff--I’d be happy if I never have to write another sales letter again in my life. But I’m very grateful for the time that I wrote them because it taught me so much about how to hold and capture the reader’s attention and how to make sure that they read all the way to the bottom of the page. If someone clicks away from a sales letter, you don’t eat. There are certain rhythms that I learned and I’m really grateful that I did learn. Once I did that, writing just became easier. The Kindle revolution happened, this was 2011, and I’m just like, “Yeah, it’s time to play ball.” We floundered a couple of times. I was writing with David Wright, in fact I still write with David every day. If I wasn’t doing this interview I’d be doing what I’m supposed to be doing which is writing episode one of the last season of Z. We wrote something called The Veil of Darkness and I wrote something myself called Four Seasons and a book called Writing Online, all in 2011, before we really figured out a new way of doing things, which is a serialized fiction. Yesterday’s Gone came out on October 3rd, 2011. That title was a game changer for us. It gave us an audience and a platform and allowed us to do a lot of the things that we’re doing today.  Since then, I’ve had the Guy Incognito pen name for children which just launched a couple months ago. We’re on Realm and Sands with Johnny B Truant. We’ve been work horses in the last ten months. We’ve put out Unicorn Western, The Beam, Robot Proletariat, Namaste, Cursed

Just a couple of things. [laughing]

Yeah, a lot of stuff there. We’re a great team and we go very fast.

I will unofficially credit you with the serialized approach for ebooks. I love it. I think it’s engaging and the pace of the story is really in synch with what’s happening in popular media right now. I was wondering if you could explain what it means to write serialized fiction the way you do it.

When we first started no one was doing it, at least not with any scale. I’d like to say we were the first but maybe there was somebody who did it before us. We’re certainly not the first people to do serialized fiction. Dickens did it a long time before we did. Steven King did it in the 90s with The Green Mile. It’s been done. What we did that was different was we used pop culture language from TV episodes and seasons and translated that into books. There was a rather loud cry at the time that we couldn’t do this because readers don’t want their books chopped into pieces. And that’s very true. Readers don’t want their books chopped into pieces but that’s not what we were doing. That was never our intent. We were really trying to craft a new experience. We were trying to give readers the thing that they got on TV whenever they watched their favorite shows, and translate that to Kindle or to an ereader. Doing that requires a different kind of thought, a different kind of architecture. You can’t just break a story into component parts because that’s not a story. People feel ripped off. The worst thing you can make a reader feel is ripped off. You can piss them off because your ending was too incendiary. You can make a character do something that makes the reader want to punch you in the mouth. There is so much you can do. But the wrong thing to do is make them feel like they didn’t get what they paid for or they somehow got a different experience that they weren’t expecting because that makes readers upset. It makes them mad. When we design our serials it’s from the ground up. We never treat them like a story broken apart. They have the same rhythm of a TV show. If you watch Breaking Bad, it’s not like it just starts in the middle of something and ends in the middle of something. There’s a whole narrative there and if you follow the flow they’re pretty predictable, not in what happens in the episode but in the structure of the narrative. That’s really important because you can have anything happen between the borders, but between here and here, there’s a certain flow it has to have. A good serial has a strong opening that surprises you in some way and establishes the tone of that episode. The rest of the fifty minutes is spent building character, making you care about things, and then the last couple of minutes punch you in the face really hard. That’s kind of what we try to do. We were totally making things up with the first season of Yesterday’s Gone and it’s evident as you read later seasons. We learned from one season to the next because in the first season we were really shooting from the hip, making it up as we went along. By the time we got to the second season we knew what we had and by the time we moved to a new series with White Space, we were building it like a television serial and thinking about it in production terms. What I mean by that is, for example, White Space is set on a small island. It’s a made-up island called Hamilton Island in Puget Sound, in Washington. That island is important because it’s the setting but it’s localized. Yesterday’s Gone isn’t especially filmable. It’s exciting but the set pieces are huge. You’ve got Times Square emptied and stacked with bodies. That’s a really hard thing to shoot. It makes it a really, really expensive show. White Space has a smaller cast of characters in a single location and it makes it easier. I hesitate here because I say things and people want to do what I’m saying because it worked for me. But you have to take it in the context of what works for you. I’m very visual. I love TV so I tend to think like a producer. Now that may not work for somebody else and something that works for them may not work for me. I like to think of my stuff as TV. I cast the characters in my head so I have a very solid frame of reference as I’m writing the stories.

What do you think about the reader experience? It’s becoming very popular to blast through a season of television on Netflix or Hulu where you can sit down immerse yourself in the whole season. Or you can parcel it out and watch it in real time, one week at a time. Do your readers show a preference in your serialized fiction?

Most of our readers like to get the whole thing at once. The infrastructure is broken so the way we would sell serials is really clunky. There’s not a good solution. The only good solution is the one Amazon has with their actual serials program. But it’s invite-only and traditionally published so guys like us lose all our control, we lose all our ability to market the stuff. But the structure of the system itself is fantastic because you’re only buying one book and then it auto-updates. That’s fantastic because for a season of Yesterday’s Gone I don’t want a reader to have to juggle six files. That sucks. As a consumer, that’s unwieldy and it’s not cool. Now all of the sudden I’m asking the reader for six reviews? No. I need one title so I can get one set of reviews. Our reviews sucked under the other paradigm, badly. We don’t even release episodes anymore. The last time we did it was for Yesterday’s Gone Season 4. When season 5 comes out this spring it’ll just be Season Five. That’s the only way you can buy it. Because, season 4 has like 200 reviews but 100 on the season and the others spread out on stuff that’s going to be retired. That’s hard because we have social proof that will disappear after we retire the titles. You want all of reviews in one place, and perhaps more importantly, you want to validate your readers. If they took the time to leave you a review it’s kind of balls to take away that review later because you don’t need it anymore. But the truth is, it’s not that you don’t need it anymore, it’s that it becomes a hindrance at some point. For example, Dave and I have retired a lot of titles. We’ve had three seasons of Yesterday’s Gone individual episodes retired, two seasons of White Space, two seasons of Available Darkness, and a season of ForNevermore. That’s almost 50 individual titles that we’ve retired and a thousand reviews. The alternative is to have them totally cluttering our author pages so when a new reader finds us they just see these random episodes and they’ll never be able to find The Beam, because they’ve got to go through nine pages of ForNevermore episodes. That sucks. There’s not really a good solution. The fact that we only get 30% royalty on a 99 cent title--that is balls too.  I don’t want to rip the reader off because like I said, the worst thing you can do is make them feel like they didn’t get a good deal. 99 cents is absolutely the right price for a single episode of one of our series. That’s what I want to charge. I want to charge 99 cents for an episode and $6 for the season. But I’m heavily penalized for a 99 cent episode. I either have to be penalized or my reader has to be penalized and both of those alternatives suck. We don’t release episodes anymore. However, we still write episodically because that doesn’t change. There’s no difference in the way we architect or execute our stories, just a difference in the way they’re published now.

What’s on your Kindle right now?

I really hate to admit this but it’s my own stuff. That’s all I read these days. It’s not because I think I’m that awesome. I don’t have time to read other stuff. My list of things that I want read is really long. It’s pretty substantial. Dave gets me a new Clive Barker book for Christmas every year and I’ve got nine of them now and I haven’t read any of them yet. With the volume that I write, I would be doing a disservice to my readers if I didn’t familiarize myself with the story before I started again. I’ll be starting Z after this call which means I had to read this much [holding up massive book] before starting again so that I could be deep into the story world. That’s 650 pages that I have to read as research before I can start something new. With every new project I’m basically just re-familiarizing myself with my stuff. At some point I will move past that. It’s definitely one of my New Year’s goals, to read more outside authors, because I don’t want to get incestuous. I’m bored with my own voice. [laughing] I need some other stimulus. But right now it’s just a necessary evil.

I know you and the guys on the podcast [The Self Publishing Podcast] outlined your collective goals for 2014. A big part of that was slowing down the writing machine a little bit and developing more of the promotions behind your existing cannon of work.

Absolutely. That’s a really, really big deal. It’s a really big part of what we’re doing. I’d gotten to the point where I hated blogging and said I’d never do it again--I’m really hyped on blogging right now and super excited about it. We’ve had two posts that have already gone live and a third one that’s going live this Thursday. It’s boss. It’s called, “What Controls You?” It’s about how we’re all addicted to our shit. [holding up phone] These things controls us…I love writing fiction and I think before we even started I was talking about how I’m very grateful for Write. Publish. Repeat. and how well it’s done, but I really want fiction to blow up in that same way because I get more creative writing. I write every day and writing is looking in the mirror. I don’t know how I really think about something until I’m forced to untangle that knot and that’s what I do for a living. I’m lucky to be doing that for a living. So taking that one step further and writing these big, epic blog posts that explore the themes of our books in greater detail is lot of fun.

I’ve always disagreed with the notion that writers of fiction shouldn’t blog. I think there’s a lot of value to having your voice come out in a relevant and contextual way if you write fiction. I think that’s an asset, not a liability.

I totally agree. I think it’s a hard thing to pull off because there are a lot of people online saying very little and using a lot of words to do it. You don’t want to be that guy. You want to say something substantial, something that is easy for people to share and that’s not always an easy line to walk. In fact, sometimes it can be very, very difficult. But when you nail it it’s rewarding. I’m lucky because I don’t have to do it in a vacuum. If I was trying to write epic posts by myself I wouldn’t have as much fun. I would feel really frustrated.

Right.

I could never have done this by myself. [holding up another massive book] Unicorn Western is a quarter of a million words and yet it went pretty fast because I have a writing partner. Yesterday’s Gone has almost half a million words at the end of the fourth season and it wasn’t that hard to do because I have a partner. That makes all the difference in the world. Blogging is the same way. Johnny and I are handling the blogging and our books. It really is a case of one plus one equals six.

Contact:

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Guy Incognito

Monday, February 17, 2014

I love weird, twisted, horror stories. Do you?


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I9E5G3U?tag=jth0e-20

As I continue on this crazy journey called life I imagine I’m driving a huge party bus with all of you on it. Every so often we stop and pick up a few more people, a bag of ice and a lighter. Don’t ask me where we’re going because I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter anyways because anyone that’s taken a road trip with a bunch of friends knows that getting there is more than half the fun. It’s at least 76.7% of the fun depending on who gets arrested along the way.

Using that poor metaphor, I feel as though I need to pause every now and then and introduce myself to those getting on the bus. People reading my blog and my books (i.e., those getting on the bus, but you already figured that out) don’t know me that well yet but they’re intrigued by the party.

Those of you in the back–quitting throwing stuff out the windows. Nobody is allowed to use the john unless it’s an extreme emergency. And flush, would ya?

Now that you’ve all settled in, please allow me to reintroduce myself and tell you what you’re in for on this road trip:

I love horror–the kind where the fear comes from inside your own head. I’ve enjoyed my share of gory slasher stories but I don’t write too many of those. Yes, my creatures do some heinous things but not for the sake of the violence. I’m enamored with the evil that’s inside all of us and why some people can keep it contained while others can’t. My books are an escape from reality. They’re odd, esoteric and thoughtful with an economy of language. I front a heavy band in Cleveland, Ohio (Threefold Law) and so my style is very lyrical as well. Being a writer and a musician, I feel as though I have a perspective on storytelling that others might not. My new partnership with Rebecca T. Dickson (interviewed her last week, fyi) means that the updated versions of my books along with the new ones I’m writing will withhold NOTHING from you. I’ve been criticized for not explaining enough and I can promise you that won’t be the case anymore.

If you want to get a sense of the kind of stories I tell, grab this collection. My book, Reversion: The Inevitable Horror (The Portal Arcane Series - Book I) is included along with 6 other phenomenal books and the ENTIRE collection is only $0.99. Some of the best writers in the genre are part of this anthology including Bobby Adair, Craig DiLouie, Glynn James, Stephen Knight, Joe McKinney, T.W. Piperbrook and L.T. Ryan. This is a helluva bargain. The collection will be available only for a limited time.


http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I9E5G3U?tag=jth0e-20


Now get on the bus and stop holding up the line.

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t, including yourself." A conversation with Rebecca T. Dickson

Rebecca T. Dickson kicks ass. There’s no other way of saying it. She’s a strong, passionate person with a flair for uncovering the best writers have to offer. I hired Dickson to edit two short stories for me (Tunnel and Lost Track) and immediately hired her again to go through my Portal Arcane series. She forced me to abandon bad habits and made me tell the reader everything. It’s a humbling experience and Rebecca will be the first to admit that she’s not everybody’s editor. But don’t take my word for it. Sign up for my mailing list and you’ll get Reversion: The Inevitable Horror (The Portal Arcane Series - Book I) for free.

I asked Dickson to be interviewed for my blog because I believe she has taken my writing to the next level. Rebecca became my partner and refused to let me settle for anything but the best. You may not be a writer but that doesn’t matter. Dickson’s approach works for life as well as for writing. Read on and you’ll understand…

Tell us how you came to where you are right now.

It’s been a long road. I was in high school with absolutely no idea what I was going to do. I knew I would go to college because that’s what was expected of me. I’m also the first person in my family to go to college. I didn’t know what that meant or what would happen or what I would do. My English teacher and I forged this relationship. She was a real asshole but it worked out great because I needed that and she thought I was good at writing. And I thought, “Really? I’m good at something? Well, cool.” And it started there.

How did you transition from writing to making a living as an editor?

It’s an easy transition, back and forth. I was blessed to be taught by some of the best editors in the business as far as I’m concerned. They’re smart. They’re savvy. They’ve been around the block fifteen times and there’s nothing they haven’t encountered. They treated me the way I needed to be treated. And sometimes that meant kid gloves and sometimes it meant I needed to be kicked in the ass. But they were very adept at reading that. When I formed the business those were the people I wanted to be like.

I know exactly what you mean. I think what you’re describing is the “tough love” approach.

Sometimes. Sometimes you need tough love. Sometimes people need permission to be nice to themselves. You’d be amazed how many coaching clients I have that are absolutely beating the shit out of themselves every living second of every day and then they wonder why they can’t get creative and produce.

Is that a challenge that a lot of your clients face, writer’s block or lack of productivity?

We are always expecting more of ourselves. No matter if it’s 500 words a day or 5,000. It’s just the nature of the beast. We’re human. We want more, more, more. Bigger, better, faster, now. I understand that and when it comes to writing it just doesn’t work that way. And beating yourself over the head does not make you more creative. Sometimes you just have to be kind to yourself. I’d like to think I’ve set up the system where writers learn it’s okay to experience whatever they are experiencing, and if they allow that feeling instead of fighting it, they will pass right through it and get back to writing in a much more orderly and quick fashion.

I know you’ve said you’re not a big fan of daily word targets or word counts.

No. I’m not.

I saw that you put up a blog post this morning about productivity and word count-- Stephen King-like output. Can you talk about the difference between staying productive versus holding yourself to a fixed target?

When you start talking numbers – and this is just my opinion, obviously. But when you start talking numbers you’re using a very different section of your brain than when you’re being creative. You’re also putting an enormous amount of pressure on yourself. When you’re creative, like Danielle LaPorte always says, the white space, the blank page, those things inspire creativity, you can go anywhere with them. You don’t think about somebody breathing down your neck or behind you with a gun to your head saying, “Get it done or you’re dead.” Those things are not going to help you create words. It’s a different mentality. I equate word counts and having a number goal with having the guy behind me with a gun to my head. Because there are some days when I’m going to exceed that goal and there are some days when I’m just not going to get there. Either way it’s okay because it’s all progress. You have to wade through whatever it is that’s in your way in order to get to your story. People get very caught up in, “I spent four hours in front of the computer today and I only have a hundred words to show for it, but I have all this free writing and I had to do it to clear my head. I just wish that it was 4,000 words toward my manuscript.” Well, whether or not you’re using it for your manuscript, you’re moving ahead. You’re doing the work you had to do to get your words.

Everybody’s creative process is different but you can’t equate it to numbers. It just doesn’t work that way.

What is the role of the deadline in the creative process? Does that come later? Does it have a place at all?

Good question. I work with a lot of writers who’ve had tremendous success after their first book and they come to me saying, “I’ve lost that loving feeling. I can’t do this anymore. I’m fried. I have all these expectations and pressure. I’ve got three books due by the fall. I can’t get the words out. This sucks. It’s not fun anymore. I feel like I’m stuck all the time. I have writer’s block…” This comes back to the idea that creativity does not come to you when you are under tremendous pressure. So when I’m working with writers of that nature, my goal is to have them make a decision. Do you want to write quality or quantity?

Is there a typical response to that question? I would imagine there would be people who would say, “I’m just interested in quantity.”

Yeah. I’m not interested in working with those writers. That’s the bottom line. I’m not going to rush a craft or an art--and this is an art, for a paycheck.

Right.

There are plenty of people out there that want to do that and you know what? Kudos to you. I respect that. That’s your thing but it’s not mine.



It seems like valuing quantity over quality is more of a short-term approach.

It’s a short-term approach that you use to cash-in and it doesn’t usually work, but they have to figure that out on their own. I had an author last spring, a tremendously talented author with twenty books out who was totally burned out. She came to me with the next installment and said, “This is all wrong. I don’t know what to do. I’m in a panic. I have a deadline. I hate doing this. Writing has become drudgery. Help me.” I took a look at it and we went through it page by page, without rushing. I told her, “You’re telling here. You’re not showing because telling is much easier than showing. It’s much faster. Throw a cliché in there instead of coming up with something original and you’ll speed through the pages. There were all kinds of bad habits like that. When we eliminated them it became one of her best-selling books ever.

Interesting.

I would rather see a Harper Lee, who only published one book, in this case, To Kill A Mocking Bird, than put out fifty that are shit.

I hope that those are the writer’s that are out there. I believe they are and that’s who I want to work with.

We’ve been talking about writing. Let’s talk about reading. What are the current trends in reading, whether it’s genre, or style, and what are you into right now?

I read everything. And by everything, I mean everything. My boys are eleven and almost fourteen. They are avid readers, a novel every couple of days. I read what they’re going to read before I give it to them. Imagine anything a little boy wants to read. I read that first. [laughter] For my own pleasure reading, I’m finishing the last installment of Game of Thrones right now. I very rarely watch TV. I’m all about books. Trends in reading? I don’t know. I’ve never been one for trends. I do what I want and I read what I feel like reading. My kids had turned me onto Game of Thrones in the beginning and now we’re all waiting two years for George Martin to finish book number six. Other than that, I’m big on professional development. I always want to continue to strive to learn editing tips and tricks, ways to help writers get past their stumbling blocks, new ways to explain bad habits. There are the core bad habits that every writer has, but you’ve gotta come up with something different every now and then to explain to them why it’s not working.

I think your kids are probably a little bit older than mine but I’m guessing if they have the same sort of taste, it’s a lot of sword and sorcery, magic.

Yes, yes.

Which is okay. It’s fun, it’s creative, it’s different… You’re really basing your livelihood on helping authors. As a client of yours (full disclosure) I find that you’ve been one of the most helpful people I’ve come across in my short time in the industry.

Well that’s awesome. Thank you.

I read a lot on the craft of writing and I’m pretty observant but I don’t think anyone has had the direct impact on my style and my voice in a positive way that you’ve had in the short amount of time that we’ve gotten to know each other.

Woo-hoo.

I wanted to get that on record… I’m curious as to what your hopes and dreams are for yourself. I know you want to help other writers but what are you hoping to accomplish?

I know there are a million other people out there who are in the exact place I was in when I started this business. Which is, for the record, panic-stricken, terrified, had something to say but unable to write it. It took me ten years to figure it out and put it on paper. What the process was, identify it, label it, use it and get past it. I still have to follow the steps. It’s not something you do once and you’re free. Fear is a bitch that way. But I knew that there were other people out there just like me and my goal was to help them, show them there is a way past it. Because writers, true writers, when they’re not writing they don’t feel good. You know? They feel like shit and they don’t know what’s wrong and they’ve got something to say and they can’t get it out and they torture themselves at the keyboard.

I did it. I got past it. I don’t want anybody else to have to do suffer because there is a way. For the people who are beyond that point, who are getting words on the page like yourself, who are damn good writers, who can improve--everybody can improve--as an editor, my job is to take good and make it great, to take great and make it utterly fantastic. It’s not easy to do that without stomping on the writer’s voice. It’s a craft that you have to be very careful about. I like to think that that’s what I do. Hopefully my writers think I’m good at it. Their success is my success. It’s huge. Every time you guys put a new book out, I’m doing a dance. It’s awesome. Writing a book has always been something that people talk about. “You know, I wish I could write a book,” or “Someday I’m going to publish a book.” Millions and millions of people talk about it and very few do it. So when it gets done, it’s a party.

I think you provide a service to writers but you’re also providing life guidance to people. I’m sure you think of it that way. I think of it that way. If I’m reading this interview and I’m someone that wants to do something with my creativity, what would be one piece of advice you would give that person? Whether it’s writing, music, poetry or pottery what would you say?

Do it. And don’t let anybody ever tell you that you can’t, including yourself. As a matter of fact, the louder your subconscious screams that you can’t do it, the more you better fucking do it. [laughter]

Awesome.

No, really. If that’s a calling that you have, you have to respect that.

I think it goes back to what you said about getting my writing done for the day. Until I do it, I feel like shit. I’m thinking about it, it’s nagging at me and once I’m done I feel like I can go on with the rest of my day.

Yes. That is very common.

If you feel like there is something you need to do and it keeps nagging at you, you probably need to do it.

Absolutely. Don’t let it go. Don’t box that in or it’ll make you sick.


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Writing on Your Terms 

Monday, February 3, 2014

TSA introduces Flights Universally Cleared of Terror initiative in response to ex-agent allegations.

“We’re here to keep Americans safe in the air.”

Posted: Feb 03, 2014 7:00 AM EST

CLEVELAND, Oh. (JT) - The Transportation Safety Administration announced a new program to be implemented at airports nationwide beginning April 1st, 2014. The “Flights Universally Cleared of Terror” initiative will provide passengers with the safest airline travel experience in the history of aviation. TSA spokeswoman Ophelia Titees says the safety measures are in response to an article by ex-TSA agent Jason Edward Harrington called “Dear America, I Saw You Naked” posted on politico.com on January 30th, 2014.

“We’re here to keep Americans safe in the air,” says Titees. “If airline passengers can’t bend over and give up a little modesty in the name of safety then the terrorists have already won.”

Harrington’s revelation is another in a series of scandals and negative publicity incurred by the Transportation Safety Administration since it implemented more stringent safety procedures at the nation’s airports, including the full body scanner in November of 2010. Travelers could opt for a sensual pat down or a full body scan. The policy change came as a result of the bombing attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, also known as the “underwear bomber.” With the millimeter wave scanners, TSA agents could photograph, analyze and Instagram the genitals and breasts of passengers thereby confirming the absence of dirty bombs. The agency has since removed the millimeter wave scanners from most domestic airport terminals.

Titees admits that the TSA has had problems in the past but she’s convinced passengers will find the new program more pleasurable than scanners or pat downs. The government is utilizing a new technology for “Flights Universally Cleared of Terror,” shortened into the acronym, F.U.C.T. A high-grade, platinum sensor is rhythmically and repeatedly inserted into a passenger’s rectum and/or vagina. The micro-camera on the end makes a visual check of the passenger’s internal cavities pre-flight to verify there are no weapons rammed inside.

“I think when travelers see how well it works everyone is going to want to get F.U.C.T. by TSA agents. I was F.U.C.T. twice on my connection through Seattle and I’ve never been more relaxed in the air.”

But some frequent flyers are skeptical. Dick Hertz of Minneapolis flies to New York City four times a week for rehabilitative penis therapy. “Sure,” said Hertz. “I know some older, married women might enjoy getting F.U.C.T. at the airport. Won’t someone think of the children? I have a teenage son and I don’t think he needs to be F.U.C.T. until he’s in college and bi-curious.”

In a May 2013 issue of Time Magazine, Richard Barrett, coordinator of the United Nations al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team said the statistical odds of dying in a terrorist attack is 1 in 20 million.

“If given the choice, they will choose safety over privacy,” said Titees. “Americans would rather be F.U.C.T. in the rectum by the government than take a 1 in 20 million chance of being killed by a terrorist.”