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Sanctuary Jurisdictions for Medical Freedom - tomorrow at 1pm Pacific Time

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UPDATE: The recorded video is up here.

Mothers forced to give birth in masks; family members prevented from being with loved ones in hospitals; increased efforts to force vaccines on those who don't want them. State infringement of our rights in the realm of medicine and healthcare is nothing new. The time is ripe now for some practical solutions, and Bretigne Shaffer has some ideas, based in common law and the tradition of nullification of laws that violate our rights.

Please invite your friends and colleagues to join the discussion and ask questions.

Tomorrow, Weds. August 11, at 1:00pm Pacific Time, 4:00pm Eastern.


Happy Birthday to "What Then Must We Do?"!


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A year ago today, I posted my first ever podcast episode. The state I live in had just "locked down" vast swathes of our lives, and my guest was the fantastic Jeff Tucker, of the American Institute for Economic Research. Since then, Jeff has distinguished himself as one of the most outspoken and articulate opponents of the lockdowns and other draconian restrictions, and I am honored to have had him as my first guest, and honored that he continues to grace my show with his presence from time to time.

You can listen to that interview here. Or watch it here:



I remember that day vividly. I was actually feeling physically ill that morning. Not because I was sick, but I think because the enormity of what had been going on for several weeks already, culminating in the Soviet-style shutting down of businesses and normal activities across my state, had suddenly hit me on a physical level. And it was so encouraging just to talk with one more person who recognized the insanity of it all - as well as the gravity of what was being done and what it would mean for so many people months and even years down the line.

It still is encouraging. One of my goals in starting my podcast - which I had dreamed up many months before "all of this" started - was to provide a place where those of us who recognize the danger of the state can connect, share ideas, and feel a little less alone. It's still not as interactive as I'd like to make it (maybe I'll start going live in the coming year and inviting some audience participation?) but from the feedback I'm getting, "What Then Must We Do?" is doing a little something toward this end.

So, Happy Birthday to "WTMWD"! And a heartfelt thanks to all of my listeners who make it worth doing, and of course to my wonderful guests. I know it's still rough around the edges, and yes I do plan to record an intro. soon and even add some music. Who knows, maybe I'll even figure out a real backdrop and a way to keep the chickens quiet. But all in all, I think the content itself has been pretty awesome if I do say so myself. So thanks again, get ready for some incredible guests and topics in the coming months, and if you haven't already signed up for updates, please do so here!



Celebrate Your Dystopian Christmas with Urban Yogini: The Christmas Episode!


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Can Urban Yogini defeat the forces of fear and division? Find out in the Christmas installment in the Adventures of Urban Yogini: A superhero who can't use violence.

Order from me directly (BretigneATgmailDOTcom), this week only, and you can get the Special Dystopian Christmas Price of only $8.00 (includes shipping within the continental US)!


Dystopian Christmas Deals on "Annabel" and "Urban Yogini" - this Week Only!


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This week ONLY, I'll be offering signed copies of Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates, and Urban Yogini: A Superhero Who Can't Use Violence, at special discounted prices. Because... you know... Christmas and everything. 

To get the special price, you just need to email me directly (BretigneATgmailDOTcom).

"Annabel" normally sells for $14.99 on Amazon - the special price (this week ONLY!) will be $10.00, including shipping within the continental US.

"Urban Yogini" is normally $17.88 on Amazon - this week's price is $15.00, including shipping within the continental US.

And "Urban Yogini, the Christmas Episode" is normally $9.45 on Amazon - this week, it is $8.00, including shipping within the continental US.

Again, you need to email me directly to get the discounts, and yes, I can give a slightly bigger discount for bulk purchases!




"The Nearly"–My Podcast Manifesto (re-posting)


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People should be free.

People should be free to live their own lives. To decorate their homes as they choose, to plant their gardens, to run their own businesses. They should be free to read the books they want to and laugh at the jokes they want to. To grow their own food, to follow the recipes their grandmothers gave them, to eat and drink and smoke what they like. To choose for themselves what goes into their own bodies and those of their children–and what does not. To buy and sell what they like, and to trade with whomever they choose. They should be able to raise their children as they see fit, to wear the clothes that make them happy, and enjoy the quirky jokes and references that only they and their spouse, or their sister, or their best friend, get.

Every little bit of that is put in peril by the institution of the state.

Maybe not for your family, maybe not even in your neighborhood. But somewhere in the world, the government you think of as "yours" is terrorizing someone else's family. And somewhere, the state that rules over that family (if they don't live where you do) is terrorizing someone else's. Through war, or through economic sanctions, through laws that criminalize non-criminal actions, or just through brute force when they get in the way.

It's what states do.

This battle for civilization–to restore it, to preserve it, to try to make it so that our children and grandchildren get to live in peace–it is for the most part a battle between human beings and the institution of the state.

Words and ideas are some of the state's most powerful weapons, and it uses them against all of us. In the country where I live, it has done a phenomenal job of teaching nearly everyone from a very young age that the state is good and necessary. That policemen are your friends, that democratically elected politicians are your representatives, that sometimes markets "fail" and must be replaced by the state. Above all, it instills the belief that the state–some form of people ruling over other people–is necessary. That civilization could not flourish without it.

I almost wrote "teaching everyone." I had to go back and correct it. Because it's not "everyone." It's nearly everyone, but it is not everyone. And that is critical, because not only did not "everyone" go to their schools, even many of those who did go to their schools and take in their lessons, didn't properly assimilate all of the beliefs they were supposed to.

It's the "nearly" that I'm interested in.

That–possibly very small, possibly not so small–number of people who can see and think for themselves. Who understand for themselves the difference between right and wrong, who don't need to have anyone else tell them that it is wrong to make another person your slave, or to lock another person in a cell when they have harmed no-one.

That's who I think of as the audience for my podcast ("What Then Must We Do?") You might call what I'm doing "preaching to the choir", but that's not it. I'm looking to reach the people who already recognize the problem, and who want to do something about it.

These are also the people I'll have on as guests. I'll be asking them about the things they are doing in the service of peaceful, civilized coexistence. We won't always agree on the solutions, and we probably won't even always see the problem in exactly the same way. But we all have a commitment to creating a world where people can just live in peace and freedom.

Maybe none of us is powerful enough to defeat the violence that is the state. Maybe even together we are not enough. But I am certain that if there is any hope for us at all, it lies entirely with this group of people.

Oh, and if I sound a little elitist, as if I think the "Non-Nearlys" are somehow inferior to the "Nearlys"… well, yes, I do. I do think that thinking for oneself is superior to not thinking for oneself. I also think that great masses of people who don't do much thinking for themselves, who don't have their own moral compasses, are one of the most deadly threats to all of humanity, and always have been.

But here's the thing about being among the "Nearly" (or, as Albert Jay Nock called them, the Remnant): it is a choice. Anyone can choose to start questioning what they have been taught their whole life. Anyone can choose to listen to their own conscience over the values and opinions that are fed to them by the people and institutions around them. Anyone can do this.

"What then must we do?" I honestly don't know. The forces arrayed against individual human beings just living their own lives as they choose seem more powerful and more entrenched than ever before. So, do I know how to change that? To defeat the people and institutions that wish to (and do) rule over us? No, I don't. But I do believe that between us–between all of the "Nearly"–we can figure this out.




Anarcho Soccer Mom's Halloween Message is More Important than Ever this Year


"They tell us we should trust them with power over our lives ...but the last thing they want us to do is trust each other."

When I first made this video, seven years ago, there was a little voice nagging at me, telling me that everything I said here about how safe Halloweens really are would soon become untrue and I would one day be forced to eat my words.

I couldn't have even imagined what did happen.

But ASM's words here are more important than ever. At the foundation of any civilization is trust. The knowledge that, when you open your door and go out into the world, the likelihood of one of the people living around you coming running at you with a machete or a blowtorch is very low. That the person you are doing business with is probably not trying to steal from you, or the guy who parks your car at a restaurant isn't going to drive it into another state. 

When anyone engages in a deliberate attack on that trust, when they work to get people to be afraid of each other, to see each other as existential threats to each other, that person is engaged in an attack on civilization.

Los Angeles County health officials tried to "ban" Halloween this year. I guess they got enough resistance that they changed that stance to "recommending against." I hope they're as successful with that recommendation as California's governor was with his "illegal fireworks ban." I've never seen a more glorious display of pro-liberty community-spiritedness (and yes, they are pretty much the same thing if you think about it for more than 30 seconds) in my life.

To me, Halloween is a ritual that is all about social trust and community. I think Anarcho Soccer Mom agrees with me. Let's not let anyone destroy that.






A Shameless Plug - but Also Not


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This is a shameless plug... but it's also not.
I really do believe that the most important thing right now, at this moment in time (and also always) the thing that is most missing right now, the thing that civilization itself depends upon, is independent thinking.
That's what my book, Annabel Pickering & the Sky Pirates - the Fantastical Contraption, is all about. I don't think I'm at all preachy about it, and if I've done a good job of it then you won't come away saying "well that was one fantastic book about independent thought! I'll have to recommend it to all the parents I know!" You'll come away saying "wow! What a great adventure story with pirates and air ships and anarchy and a plucky young schoolgirl! I can't wait to find out what happens in the next one!"
...but it's really about independent thinking.
You be the judge though.

A Young Girl Learns the Value of Questioning Authority


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Back in March, Kirkus Reviews had a profile of me, in which I discuss my writing, my life, and especially Annabel. You can check it out here.

From the profile:

In Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates: The Fantastical Contraption, 13-year-old Annabel, a latter-day Pippi Longstocking, gets ensnared in a battle between authoritarians and freedom fighters after her parents are kidnapped by the police, who turn out to be the bad guys. She finds herself assisted in her own escape by rebel pirates, who turn out to be the good guys.

Bretigne Shaffer, a journalist who has turned to full-time fiction writing, considers themes of betrayal in Annabel Pickering. The middle-grade adventure book follows Annabel’s steam-powered adventures, which transport her from an elite girls’ school to the rule-breaking world of buccaneers. Set in an alternate 19th-century England—illustrated via Florian Garbay’s black-and-white images—Shaffer explores Annabel’s psychological changes as she sees loved ones’ darker sides. Shaffer explains that she wanted to show children the “nature of empire and war, freedom of speech and thought, [and] how prohibition affects society.” She also, she admits, is interested in pirates, having briefly written about piracy in the South China Sea in her past life as a journalist.

In Shaffer’s novel, which Kirkus calls “an engaging introduction to a world of wonder and intrigue,” children are brought up to respect the queen and the near-autocratic rule she enforces over her kingdom. When Annabel’s parents are abducted, she manages to evade capture and takes refuge with eccentric spinster Miss Doubtweather. Eventually Annabel, Miss Doubtweather, and her niece escape with the band of ill-mannered, law-breaking, fabulously brave pirates. 

As Annabel’s understanding of the complexities of intellectual and social freedom evolve and she learns that her kidnapped parents were part of a secret society of freethinkers, she begins to view them as moral heroes. This is heady stuff for middle graders, but Shaffer makes it accessible and age-appropriate. It’s also, she believes, essential for younger readers, particularly American ones, to think about the price individuals and societies pay when respect for authority turns into reverence.



This Review Made Me Sad



I'm not complaining. Annabel has been getting mostly really great reviews (including the ones here and here.) But I saw a new review on Amazon a few days ago, and it just made me sad. When I was writing Annabel, I knew the book wasn't going to be for everyone. No book is. I knew that some would enjoy it and some would not, and even that it might piss a few people off. Some, I'm sure, won't even make it past the dedication.

But I wasn't expecting this. I wasn't expecting to feel that it had hurt anyone. Yet here this is:

Sad story-wasn't for me:

The main girl (Annabel) gets bullied by people she thinks are her friends. There are a couple other characters that are deemed "crazy" by everyone. Lots of bullying going on. Not a story my 11 year old daughter enjoyed.


All of these things are true, of course. But, at least in my mind (I know, I'm not the reader, so it doesn't really matter what I intended), they are laying the groundwork for the very positive things that come later. That doesn't matter though, because now I've made someone sad - and it looks like her 11-year-old daughter too. So now I'm sad.

I wasn't prepared for this.



A Young Girl Learns the Value of Questioning Authority




Annabel (and also me) is featured on Kirkus Reviews today. Check it out here.

Bretigne Shaffer, a journalist who has turned to full-time fiction writing, considers themes of betrayal in Annabel Pickering. The middle-grade adventure book follows Annabel’s steam-powered adventures, which transport her from an elite girls’ school to the rule-breaking world of buccaneers. Set in an alternate 19th-century England—illustrated via Florian Garbay’s black-and-white images—Shaffer explores Annabel’s psychological changes as she sees loved ones’ darker sides. Shaffer explains that she wanted to show children the “nature of empire and war, freedom of speech and thought, [and] how prohibition affects society.” She also, she admits, is interested in pirates, having briefly written about piracy in the South China Sea in her past life as a journalist.



Be Like Cowboy Bob


Cowboy Bob is having a tough time.

It's an economic crisis, and he's trying to explain to people why laws against "price gouging" are not a good idea, how they don't help people but actually make things worse.

And it's not easy.

Cowboy Bob is one of the characters from my book, Urban Yogini: The Christmas Episode. He roams the country, educating people about basic principles of economics. Kind of like Johnny Appleseed, but for thinking.

I wrote the first Urban Yogini book back in 2014/2015, and I wrote this one in 2017. They both seem remarkably relevant to events happening now, if I do say so myself.

Please join me tomorrow (Wednesday, March 25th) when I'll be talking about ALL of my children's and teens' books, on the Freedom Hub Working Group webinar, at 4:00pm Eastern Time. You can sign up to listen and ask me questions about teaching liberty through literature, right here



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See What Kirkus Has to Say About Annabel!




From "Annabel"'s review on Kirkus Reviews:

" Annabel believes in England’s greatness and the sanctity of the queen. She’s never questioned the status quo. But then her parents are abducted—not even formally arrested—by the police. Suddenly everything changes for Annabel. She is forced to hide with the odd spinster from down the street (Miss Doubtweather) and her nonverbal niece and take flight with a crew of rough-but-kind pirates. Miss Doubtweather, it turns out, is part of a secret society of freethinkers, to which Annabel’s parents also belong. The pirates are more accurately smugglers; breaking the law, yes, but upholding their own moral code. The more Annabel sees, the more she must question her assumptions. But where will this get her? Will Annabel escape the Queen’s Guards and rescue her parents or spend the rest of her days in prison?"

You can read the rest here.

And you can get your copy of "Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates" here.



In Which I Talk About Beach Balls & Annabel, and Conceive of a Plan...


I'm very behind updating my blog, but I've been busy: Launching Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates (you can still get it before Christmas!), working on new projects, and visiting with various people on their podcasts to talk about my new book and, of course, BEACH BALLS!

I spoke with Bob Murphy back in November, about California's Beach-Ball mandate laws and other topics. You can see that here or here - or just watch below:


Back in October, I was on Ingri Cassel's show, "Immunize Wizely", talking about Beach Balls and Beach Ball mandates. You can listen here.

Earlier this month, I was on Ernie Hancock's show, talking Beach Balls, Annabel, and piracy generally. You can listen here or here.

And just last Sunday, I was on with Michael Storm of Toward Anarchy, talking about everything under the sun. You can check that out here or here - or just listen below.

With all this talking on the air, I've come to a decision: I'm going to start a podcast. I'll say more about this soon, and I'm hoping to launch early in the new year. Stay tuned!




Daily Log: Way Behind, but ...Sky Pirates!


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OK, yes, I have not been doing a great job of updating my Daily Log each day. In other news though, my book is finished! Yesterday, I received the proofing copy of Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates!!! There are a few little tweaks to make (and the cover here is too dark), so maybe I shouldn't say "finished" - but yes, tweaks aside, it is done! I will spend the next few months publicizing it, gathering reviews, and... I don't really know what else, to get people to know that it's out there... and in early October it will be released!

For now, you can read the first few chapters here.


Who Wants to Stop the Famine in Yemen?


I've just created my first Mighty Networks group. I'll let you all know right now that I have no idea what I'm doing. I am one of the least organized people I know, also one of the least social. So I am probably the very worst person in the world to be doing social-media-network building. Too bad. Nobody else was doing it, so here I am. And here it is:

My opening post:

I can't get this little girl's face out of my head. Amal Hussain, the seven-year-old Yemeni girl whose photograph appeared in the NYT, a victim of the war-caused famine in Yemen, and who died last week. It is painful to look at her picture. She has an unearthly beauty, such a look of peace and understanding on her face, so much life there even though her body was wasting away. And now that life is gone. 

UNICEF estimates that a child in Yemen dies every ten minutes from this famine. The UN estimates that another ten million people will starve to death there by the end of the year.

It makes me sick that I didn't stop Amal Hussain's death. And the thought that I might sit by and watch - and complain, and place blame - while another ten million people die, that makes me sick too. I live in one of the wealthiest countries in the history of humanity. There are incredible tools available to us now that weren't even possible when I was a child. With everything available to me, I can't believe that there is nothing I can do to stop this.

I'm not talking about heroic efforts. I'm not talking about selling all our furniture and getting my husband to quit his job and JUST DOING THIS. I'm not. I'm a mom, I'm homeschooling, and my daughter has intense special needs, including seizures. Those are my first priorities, as they should be. And I know everyone else has their responsibilities too. Everyone is busy, I get that. So I'm not saying: "Hey everyone, let's drop everything we're doing and do everything we can to fix this, because PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!"

I also know that people are dying all the time, this isn't the only humanitarian crisis going on, terrible things are happening all the time, and we're not going to stop it all. But if I allow those to be my reasons for doing nothing about any of it, then what is the point? Why do anything at all, ever?

So here's what I am going to do:

1. Give money to aid organizations. We're not rich, but we can afford to send a couple of hundred dollars to some solid organizations that are getting real help to people there. I'm going to have to look and see which ones those are. But I know MSF is good, Mercy Corps is good. I'll look for more and will post here.

2. Help raise awareness and show others how they can help. I will post something at least once a day between now and the end of the year, with links and info. on good aid organizations and possibly other ways people can help.

3. Do some research that might help others. I'll look around and find what seem to be the best groups to donate money to for this effort. I will post what I find out here.

4. Donate all of my revenues from Urban Yogini (vols 1 and 2) between now and the end of the year to one or more of these aid organizations. OK, this one may not turn out to be worth much, as I have been god-awful at promoting and selling these books. Seriously, this is NOT my strong suit. But for what it's worth, I will do a promotional push for them both and donate everything I earn from the sales to relief efforts in Yemen.


If you also want to help, then this is a place for you to post what YOU are committed to doing. It doesn't have to be big. It will still make a difference to someone. It is also a place to post ideas for raising money, or for drawing attention to the crisis… or for some crazy solution no-one has thought of yet.

This is ONLY a place for declaring, and discussing, practical solutions. It is NOT a place for debating the causes of the crisis, attacking, criticizing, pointing fingers, etc. Believe me, I have plenty of opinions about who is to blame for this - but I'm not bringing any of them here. Please do the same, and keep this a place for creating immediate solutions and saving lives.

So if you are also sickened by what's happening in Yemen, then please post here: What are YOU going to do about it?


 (Click on this link to join the group.)