Snopes Says I'm A Fake Newsletter - Issue #1 / Winter 2017
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This is the inaugural issue of my newsletter, Snopes Says I'm A Fake. You probably wondering what's with the title (it's also the name of my website -

Many readers will recognize Snopes as a relatively well-known website for validating and debunking stories in American popular culture. For me, the names represents my search for credibility. When you start looking into the writing community, one of the first things that strikes you is “wow, if there are this many people trying to make it, what are the odds that I will?”
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. There are so many authors out there trying to get their book noticed that you might feel like a drop of water in the ocean. Trying to get your work noticed by overwhelmed agents and publishers who are constantly reminding us of how many people submit to them ever day seems like an impossible task.

Why I'm Writing
I recently saw the film La La Land with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. For those who haven't seen it yet, it's a musical that tells the story of a young aspiring actress (Stone) and a struggling musician (Gosling). The film explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams. It's a story that resonated with me. After several decades of a successful public sector career that was both challenging and fulfilling, I decided to pursue my passion. I have always wanted to be a humour writer. It was now or never.
Just over two years ago I started my first novel, The Road Ahead, which I independently published in the fall 2016. The novel is a satirical look at politics and government. The protagonist is a rookie politician, more than a little short when it comes to dignity, whose main interest is increasing his name recognition for his insurance brokerage firm. He accidentally stumbles on a winning, but undeliverable, campaign promise. Once he gets in office, he is vocal, overbearing and outrageous.
I'm not done yet writing novels. I'm already one-third the way through my second novel, Loved Mars, Hated The Food. I've gone in a totally different direction with the project. It's a combination humour and science fiction novel set in the future on Mars. In this case, the protagonist is a chef who is a member of the first permanent colony on Mars. Below, I've included a draft of chapter one of the book. Please let me know what you think.
If you haven't picked up a copy, it is available in both paperback and Kindle versions through Amazon. A Kobo version is also available on the Chapters/ Indigo website.
Check out the reviews of The Road Ahead on the Goodreads website.
Snopes Says I'm A Fake blog/website.
My next book show appearance will be at The Bookshelf in Newmarket on Saturday, May 13, 2017.
My Picks For President Trump's Cabinet

Inauguration Days is coming up and there has been so much debate already on nominees for Cabinet posts for the Trump administration. Everyone seems to have an opinion, including me. To be consistent with his anti-Washington demeanor, I’ve put together a pretty impressive list of possible Cabinet candidates. Donald Trump has shown you don’t been any political experience to be President. So why do you need relevant experience to run a federal department.
Secretary of State – Alec Baldwin
After lampooning Trump on Saturday Night Live, why would Donald Trump ever want anything to do with Alec Baldwin. It’s quite simple. Appoint him to State and have him spend the next four years out of the country visiting foreign leaders. The next best thing to throwing him out of the U.S. Since Trump plans on being an isolationist, it’s not like there will be any foreign policy work to be done.
Secretary of the Treasury – Jordan Belfort
The Wolf of Wall Street is a no brainer. The U.S. national debt is almost $20 trillion and Belfort knows how to make money. If he’s not available then how about Michael Miliken?
Secretary of the Interior – Marc Emery
I had to think about this one for a while before I came up with Marc Emery. I know he’s Canadian but he has spent time in U.S. prisons. Most notably in 2009 when he served a five-year sentence for selling mail-order cannabis seeds into the U.S. I just think he could make some good use out of federal held land and generate some income for Treasury.
Secretary of Labor – Do Won Chang
Let’s face it, we know Trump doesn’t give a damn about the Department of Labor. So handing the department over to Do Won Chang, the founder of clothing chain Forever 21, should take the labor movement back 50 years.
Secretary of Transportation – Elon Musk
Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX, this guy is just super cool.
Secretary of Homeland Security – Steven Seagal
Seagal is getting a little old but still who wouldn’t love to see this guy storm into the home of a suspected terrorist and take him down on his own. Definitely, he would inspire confidence.
Secretary of Agriculture – Howard Stern
I know what you’re thinking. What does this New Yorker know about farming? Nothing. But he gets along with Trump and would be fun to have at drab Cabinet meetings.
Loved Mars, Hate The Food
Chapter 1
Julian: 2037-09-02
Martian: 44-10-540

I was sitting on a large red boulder next to my rover, looking at the gaping crater that was once, Futurum, the first permanent Mars Colony. Even though Valles Marineris, the Grand Canyon of Mars, looked so peaceful and serene that morning, I was freaking out. I was sure I was a dead man. The Colony rubble was neatly spread over a wide radius. The shiny debris stood out against the red sand and rocks. As I sat and gazed at this shocking scene, a calm seemed to have taken over. Maybe, my calm was the result of being in shock. Maybe, I actually died in the explosion and was having an out of body experience.  No, I was pretty sure I was still alive. But not for much longer. I was a chef from Toms River, New Jersey. What did I know about survival on a barren planet? In particular, without a source of food, water and oxygen. Yup, I wasn't going to be living on this planet much longer. Or any other planet.

I got up to pick through the debris to see if there was anything useful to keep me alive for a while. Then, I noticed I was being watched. There were two people standing about 100 feet away. I sprang to my feet ready to rush over to them. I was thrilled to find out that I wasn't the only survivor. Then I realized they weren't wearing spacesuits. They didn't look like anyone from the Mars Colony. I assumed they were Martians. I got back into the rover and slowly approached them. They were thin and under four feet tall, similar to an eight year old on Earth. They had two arms and legs, just like me. Their skin was copper color and wrinkled, like that of a ninety year old. I didn't notice any body hair. They had short legs and large feet. Their heads were large and round with two large black eyes, a flat nose, a mouth with no lips and no ears. They were so ugly that they were cute looking. Sort of like a Shar Pei. They both wore tunic-style tops and loose trousers. One had a least a dozen bracelets up and down its arms made from small polished stones.

When I was about twenty feet away, I got out of the rover, raised my right hand and waved. They both glanced at each other but didn't react. Mission training never covered communicating with Martians. In fact, they never mentioned Martians. I raised my right hand again to wave and shouted out, "Klaatu barada nikto." I remembered the line from an old twentieth century movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still. It was the first thing that came into my head, although I'm sure they couldn't hear me through my spacesuit. Again, they looked at each other but didn't react.

I tried again. "Live long and prosper. Dif-tor heh smusma " I held up my right hand and tried the Vulcan salute, though I'm sure they wouldn't be able tell because my hand was in the glove of my spacesuit. Still, no reaction. But, of course, they were Martians, not Vulcans.

Then I heard a voice in my head. "Klaatu barada nikto, are you intact?" I thought I had imagined it. Then I heard it again. "Klaatu barada nikto, we heard the detonation. What took place here?" I was watching my two visitors but it didn't appear they were speaking. "Klaatu barada nikto, can you comprehend?"

"Yes," I responded. "But how am I hearing you? And I'm not Klaatu barada nikto. I'm Dixon Jenner."

One of the Martians responded. "Good wishes Dixon Jenner. I am Bleeker and this is my partner, Seepa. What is Klaatu barada nikto?"

"Never mind. It's just something I remembered from a film. Nice to meet you both. So, how are you communicating with me?"

"Through telepathy. How else would one communicate?" The voice in my head had changed. It must have been Seepa.

"So, you understand the English language?"

"We transmit and receive thoughts from one being to another. Thoughts are not in any language. I believe it is only when you communicate through sounds that language becomes necessary."

"Whoa, I'm not sure I like the idea of having people read my mind. So, you can't hear me speak?"

Seepa shook her head. "I apologize that  we are incapable of communicating using sounds. We did pick up shockwaves from the explosion. That is why we journeyed to the surface to investigate."

Bleeker jumped in. "She actually did not wish to investigate."

"That is not factual. I did not want to interrupt my activities to probe what shook our abode."

"It is constantly something with you."

Great, I travelled 100 million miles to listen to a couple bicker. I wondered if they could 'hear' what I was thinking?

Seepa turned to me. "Yes, we can hear you and we are not bickering. We just have dissimilar perspectives." She broke into a smile. Well, I assumed it was a smile.

Bleeker returned to the original discussion. "We picked up on the odd community you assembled here. It was precisely above our domicile. What happened to it?"

I sighed and sat back down on a boulder. "I'm from Earth. I was part of a mission to establish a permanent colony on your planet. I'm trained as a chef and was selected for the mission to cook for the other twenty-three crew members. We've been on Mars for forty-six sols. That's what we call a solar day or a full rotation of your planet. Things were going well until today. I was setting up this evening's dinner. I was having difficulty with the oven. Everything here is powered by nuclear energy. I needed our engineer to look at it but she was out with a exploratory group collecting samples. While I waited for them to get back, I hopped into that rover to kill some time. When Tammy, the mission engineer, radioed me to let me know she was back at the colony, I headed back. Then I heard this explosion and when I got to the colony, it was gone. It looks like I'm the lone survivor."

Bleeker shook his head. "How unfortunate. Not that you survived, but that everyone else did not."

I nodded. I was trying not to panic. "I'm a little bit desperate. I'm not going to survive much longer in this suit. When I run out of oxygen, I'll be dead too."

The Martian broke out in a grin. "No need to be alarmed. You will come with us. We will develop a strategy to accommodate you. What do you think, Seepa?"

"Bleeker, be realistic. We cannot have this Earth being reside with us. What will citizens say?"

I jumped in. "Holy crap! You can't just leave me here!"

"Of course, we cannot leave this unfortunate being to expire up here. Do not be distressed Seepa, I possess a plan."

I was just a little relieved to here that. "So, there is life on Mars? Besides you two."

They looked at each other and as if they were laughing. Seepa responded. "Of course. There are sixty million inhabitants on our planet."

"Beloved, that is old census data. At this time, there are sixty-three million."

"Do you have to forever be correcting me?"

"I just wanted to ensure that our visitor possessed the most current statistics. Stop being so sensitive."

"I am not sensitive."

Wonderful, I'd been rescued by Homer and Marg Simpson. "I hate to break up this discussion but I need help. Would anyone on Mars happen have a spaceship to get me back to Earth?"

They both shook their heads. Bleeker looked up at the sky. "We have no interest in interplanetary travel. We possess everything we want here, so why leave?"

Then I remembered the spaceship that had brought us over was still here. It had landed on the Mars surface and was designed to eventually travel back to Earth. I got into the rover I had been using and drove it the site where the spaceship had been left. The two Martians followed me. Even before I reached the spaceship, it was obvious that it was not going to be of any use to me. It had been knocked over by the blast and was covered with hundreds of little holes. The only thing that it could be used for now was a sieve.

Bleeker walked up to the ship and looked it over. "You travelled in this? It does not appear very sturdy."

I felt my shoulders slump. I was stuck on Mars for a long time.  Maybe permanently. Would NASA launch a rescue mission? Rescue whom? They probably thought we were all dead. "Look, I'm going to need a fresh supply of oxygen soon. This spacesuit will run out sometime later today."

Bleeker turned and walked in the direction of one the canyon walls. "We will resolve your problem. Follow us." He stopped and turned to his partner. "That is, unless you have an objection."

"Of course not. We cannot leave this Earth being alone on the surface. Personally, I very much have an aversion to coming to the surface.  We should return home."

I gathered a few items I was able to salvage from the wreckage and followed my two saviors. I had one of the rovers that contained a 3D printer. I knew it would likely come in handy but abandoned it along with the rover. As we walked, I looked up at the sky hoping to see Earth but the sky was hazy from big clouds of dust that were blowing well above the canyon floor. I could see nothing. I noticed the Martian couple had an unusual gait. They were bow-legged, which caused them to waddle when they walked. They reminded me of pair of penguins. After we had walked for about thirty minutes, we stopped in front of a cliff face. Suddenly, I saw a set of stairs leading underground. My Martian hosts descended the stairs and I followed. This was no ordinary staircase. It took about ten minutes to descend. It was well lit, although I couldn't make out where the light was coming from. When we got to the bottom, I noticed that the opening we had come down from had disappeared.

I was amazed at what I saw underground. As we walked down the stairs, I imagined we would be entering a series of caves. It was nothing like that. We were standing in what appeared to be part of a vast town or city. The ceiling to this underground community was perhaps 200 feet above the road surface. It was quite bright but I couldn't quite make out the light source. It appeared to be some form of indirect lighting in the ceiling. There were networks of roadways and building structures. The roadways were made of red material that resembled rubber. The surfaces appeared quite durable but seemed to have some give to them. The exterior of the buildings were made out of a polished stone. As we walked by buildings, you could see your reflection in the stone surfaces. There was no uniformity as each building was a different size, shape and color. The streets were quite deserted. We encountered no one but an occasional vehicle that drove by. I noticed that the vehicles traveled about a foot above the road surface.

Bleeker turned to me. "You can remove your outfit I am certain you will discover the atmosphere down here to be well suited for you."

I unsnapped my helmet and pulled it off. I took one deep breath and found the cool air to be refreshing and similar to Earth. It wasn't at all cold like on the surface. "I don't get it. How are you able to breath up on the surface and down below when clearly the conditions are different?"

"Our systems adapt to multiple environments." Bleeker helped me remove the rest of my spacesuit. "There has been life underground on Mars for approximately one billion years. Our civilization abandoned living on the surface because the conditions were too harsh."

Seepa agreed. "It is too windy and sandy on the surface. There are no storms down here. And you can cultivate provisions because of the warmer temperatures and the existence of water."

After several more minutes of walking, we stopped in front of a building made of aquamarine stone. I would guess it was thirty feet wide and thirty feet high with a flat roof. It had an arched front door made of the same polished stone as the rest of the building but in black. I noticed the door was only five feet high, which was fine for Martians but I was five feet, eleven inches. Seepa swung open the door and we walked in. I ducked to make sure I didn't bump my head. She proudly proclaimed, "This is our abode!"
Copyright © 2017 Willie Handler, All rights reserved.

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