Happy Birthday, Again?

So next month is the event you’ve been waiting for. I know you’ve been checking your New Word a Day calendar every day, ripping off  the page with that new word you’ve either known since you were three, or know you’ll never use at any time for the rest of your life even if you’re immortal, with great glee, knowing you are one day closer to my __ birthday. I know, it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling just thinking about it.

It doesn’t really matter what number is assigned to this event. You’re only as old as you feel, you’re not getter older you’re getting better, blah, blah, blah. Just remember  that 65 is the new 60, maybe even the new 57. I’ll have to check with my doctor on that one.

Now I know you’ve been planning for months what to get me for my birthday present. Well, I’m here to set your worried mind at ease. Although, I do realize that some of you feel you aren’t really living unless you have something to worry about. Even when all is cool, all is fine, the bills are paid, you still have a job, you’re pretty sure your kids aren’t on drugs and if they are everybody’s kids ought to be on whatever they’re on,  your spouse isn’t cheating on you, or doesn’t know you’re cheating on them, and there is no logical reason to worry about anything, you worry that everything is going too well and that OH MY GOD something terrible is going to happen and I need to be PREPARED! This is how survivalists are made.

So don’t worry about the two-week cruise, or that little bungalow on the beach, or that very fast red car, or that motorcycle that was in that movie, or the high-end computer/entertainment system, or unlimited movie or book store gift certificates that you were thinking of giving me as a small token of celebration. I have something else I you can give me, though I wouldn’t turn down a 35 foot bluewater cruising sailboat.  All I want for my birthday is for you to read my latest e-book, Ancient Mariners, and write a review of it to post on Amazon, Smashwords, KOBO, Goodreads or any place else that prospective readers might stumble on it and shout “Eureka!” and fall on the floor in a fit of expectant literary extacy. Cheap and simple. Why worry? And, as a bonus, you’ll be able to answer the question way below.

Speaking of birthdays, what I’m wondering is – How does somebody who believes in reincarnation number their birthdays? Instead of a mundane, “Oh, I’m 46 today,”  do they say, “All told I’m 378 today, plus those two weeks I spent as a mosquito in Africa. I wasn’t carrying any diseases so I got a small bump up  to a banker in my next life. Or, do they only count the number of past lives? And if so, how do they know when to start counting?

As far as I know, most people who believe don’t remember their past lives. Which brings up the question – if you don’t remember your past lives, what good is it? What does it matter? If you don’t remember, how can you learn from your mistakes and better yourself so that next life you will be the next Warren Buffet, Michael Jordan, Elizabeth Taylor, or, OMG, Justin Bieber.

Of course when have humans as a whole ever learned from their mistakes? Wars still happen, politics still happen, religious extremism still happens, hate and evil and intolerance and greed and selfishness and plain old stupidity still happen. So whether you’ve only had two lives or a hundred,  put your memory cap on and learn something to help us poor one-lifers.


What if you could remember your past lives, really remember, and throughout them you knew you would remember everything going into future lives.  How long would it take for you to own the world if throughout those lives you stashed away money, gold, jewels, art, made long-term investments relying on compound interest and the like? And what would all those lives be like, knowing what you knew? If nothing else you’d be a hell of a history teacher.

What if you remembered from birth? What would your life be like being fully aware of hundreds of  years of history at birth. Talk about your child prodigies. Who knows, maybe that’s where they come from.

What If you were from a family of wizards and witches. On your birthday you were allowed one wish for yourself. The thing is on this particular birthday you are afflicted with a debilitating disease that will leave you incapacitated for the rest of your life, which may not last until your next birthday. Wish yourself cured, a no-brainer. But the other thing is the one you love most in the world has suffered an accident and is dying. So do you save her/him with your wish, knowing you may not live until your next birthday wish, or cure yourself? How much do you love them? How much do they love you? Is there a way around the decision?

What if you were immortal and enjoying it, living large, not giving death a thought. Then you find out they forgot to tell you your immortality only lasts 1000 years. However, there is a way, exactly on your 1000th birthday, to extend your life another 1000 years. The thing is, after 990 plus years, you’ve lost track of your birthdays so now you have to figure out when it is, exactly, or the immortality you have become used to, and like, will end and you will be a mortal, living out your short life to the end. Of course there is that person you’ve fallen in love with. And the niggling question of is she/he immortal, too?

In any case, whether it’s today or a 1000 years from now, Happy Birthday wishes to you. And a light blue hull on my sailboat would be perfect.

The question – Is Beth Portman the new Lisbeth Salander, Katniss Everdeen, or Vanessa Michael Munroe? https://davidburtonwriting.wordpress.com/ancient-mariners

Solitary Man

In my new novel Ancient Mariners, one of two main characters is a solitary man. For five years he has lived and sailed on his sailboat, wandering, compelled by guilt and grief to live a solitary life. There are a lot of Solitary Men and Women out there, some by choice some by chance. Some by both.

By chance, because of some real or imagined childhood trauma, you might be paranoid and be absolutely sure that the sweet old lady in 3B is cooking Meth in her apartment and everyone in the building is her customer and they are all just waiting for you to let your guard down so they can steal all your hoarded newspapers you’ve been carefully collecting in your living room since 1992 when someone who used to be a friend told you there were secret messages from God in the daily jumble puzzle. So you live a solitary life because  you know they are all unworthy of God’s message, even if you can’t quite figure them out yourself.

Or, you’re already a Methhead and are trying to stay straight and the only way you can do that is to keep all those freaking druggies (ie. everyone) the fuck away!

Or, you’re sick to death of all the bullshit from family, job, government, and that snotty neighbor two houses down who knows everything about everything, which is okay but he/she just won’t SHUT THE HELL UP about it. So you find a cabin in the woods, mountains, desert, foreign country, or sailboat and live alone and love it. Because it’s QUIET.

Not all who live alone like living a Solitary life. Suppose you’re shy, conversationally inept and socially challenged (Or are they the same?) But not scared or fearful. You’d rather run into a dark alley to answer a cry for help followed by gunshots than take one step away from the corner of a cocktail party you were inadvertently invited to because somebody thought you were friends with that hottie from work you happened to be standing beside (well, standing behind,) and start a conversation with… anybody. Is there any more solitary life than to be surrounded by people having a good time while they totally ignore you?

Even if you aren’t challenged by the social graces you may prefer a solitary life. You might be too smart for your own good. Any conversation at any party,  event, dinner, family gathering, or meeting is inane, plebian, and of so little consequence you can actually feel the words go in one ear and out the other leaving a trail of dead neurons and blasted synapses while making your eyeballs roll up, pleading to God or whoever to strike you down on the spot if you hear one more reference to crabgrass or “Did you see (insert any reality show here) last night?” You’re much more comfortable alone in your study, “Nadia, no interruptions for the next week, please!” reading books written by dead people because no live people have written any books worthy of your esteemed, and possibly imagined, intellectual attention. The solitary life for you. Who’d have you, anyway?

Then there are the ones like Silas in my book so consumed with guilt, deserved or not, that they are compelled to live alone as punishment for the hurt they inflicted on others, intentionally or not. The ones with secrets – personal, criminal, governmental – who feel the only way to keep those secrets, and save humanity or at least the one they love from afar – is to live apart from anyone they might be tempted to tell them to.  The ones who’ve seen and understand the worst of the basic human condition and just don’t want to interact with them anymore. The ones with a challenge, like walking to the South Pole, alone, or climbing a mountain, alone, or sailing around the world, alone, where it’s their strength, their will, their brains that determine success  or failure. All the glory, all the blame.

No matter why you live a solitary life, voluntary or involuntary, there’s someone out there who despite your resistance, gets you, cares about you and whether intentionally or not will bring you into a socially acceptable congregation of two, alone together.


What If? you were hearing voices, not a voice, not a few voices, all of them. You’d think you were crazy as would most other people you were foolish enough to tell. Then you discover that solitude quiets the voices so you live in a cabin in the woods (don’t forget the pristine lake) as Solitary Men/Women do. Then the voices return, but they’re alien voices and you understand them and out of the jumble in your head you realize they are preparing to conquer Earth. At some point someone comes into your solitary life. A boy or girl, lost or running away. Maybe an older man or woman, lost or running away. They think you’re crazy, but you’ve bonded, connected (insert steamy sex scene here) and now they can hear the voices, too. Your mission, if you decide you give a damn, is go out in the world and using your power and sidekick, save it.

What If? you were sailing single-handed in the middle of the ocean at night, watching the blazing lights of a cruise ship speed over the horizon. You hear a cry for help. You’re not crazy or stupid so you’re quick to figure out what’s happened. Oh shit. For a few seconds you consider continuing on your placid way, but you know you won’t. You follow the voice to a woman, or man, in the water, under imminent shark attack. Eventually she tells you that she was thrown overboard by persons unknown. Murdered. Why? Don’t know. All you want to do is drop her at the nearest port and sail on. But you know you won’t because you want to know, WHY?

What If? you were trapped in Limbo, floating alone in the timeless darkness, trapped by an evil Sorcerer (or, of course, Sorceress) for meddling in his affairs. But for a long time (hours, weeks, years) you’ve been moving toward a spot of light. Suddenly the spot rushes up and dumps you out into a vast desolate, grassy, sparsely treed, rocky, gouged, mountain bordered, rugged plain. You are alone.  You head for some high hills to see what can be seen. A person runs over the crest, yells at you to run. Behind him come semi-human creatures – hunters. You follow the prey to a tight copse of trees at the end of a deep ravine. You fight the hunters, win, at the cost of the prey’s life. Before he dies he tells you to get to the cave, grotto, hut, altar, mansion, palace and you will be safe.  Ever the Solitary Man, you make your way across the deadly landscape fighting or eluding the ever more deadly hunters and other hungry beasts to your ultimate goal, the _____ of ______, and the second book of the series.

Even though you might be imbedded with the social media in-crowd, give a thought and a hand to those solitary boys and girls, men and women, who stare out from the corners of life’s cocktail party.

Please click here to go to the Ancient Mariners’ page for a short excerpt and links to where it can be downloaded.