Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve

I was so happy I didn't have to work tonight--New Years Eve.  It's the worst day of the year. There's nothing good that ever came from New Years Eve in Vail.  Since I'm not working, I'm hoping, deep down, they have a riot. They used to have them regularly, but they started bringing in half of the cops in the state and things have been less chaotic of late.  But, I'd like to see one since I'm not working. If I was working, I'd be deciding what weapons to take to work.

Add to that the fact it's nearly impossible to even get into a grocery store or restaurant.  Things are so incredibly crowded and I keep asking "Why would anybody want to come here?" I still don't know the answer.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It's In the Numberz

I keep a pad of paper by my computer in case I need to write down something.  Yesterday I noticed a number, some nine digits long, that I'd written down. Thing is, I have no idea what this number is for or what it means. And I have no recollection of writing it down.  Thusly, I'm really bothered by it. Is it some secret number to some account that the men in black wiped from my memory?  Or am I just getting so senile I can't remember anything? Neither option is a good one. But I really have no idea what this number means or why I wrote it down.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Anthologies From Outer Space

2014 may be the year of the anthology.  I'm already slated to have stories in four of them and the year hasn't even started yet. I don't mention forthcoming projects, with rare exception, until they actually see print. I think it's bad luck and I've been double crossed so many many times. So, I'll mention them when they come out. I'm also publishing one as well. More on that in a few months.

Science Fiction Trails 11 will be out in the Spring. It may be the best issue, ever.  I'll  have more on that later on.


Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm Not the King

I wrote the other day about some guy who had shit all over him. I quoted Monty Python & The Holy Grail.  "How do you know he's the king?" "He hasn't got shit all over him."

I guess I'm not the king, either.  I stepped in some dog poop and didn't realize it. I got it inside my car, on the floor of my house, on my shoes and even on my pants. And it was awful to clean up. Usually, around here, shit is frozen and not that much of an issue during the winter. but, I guess I managed to find some good fresh stuff.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

They Say

They say most of the charitable giving comes in December.  They say there's a tax angle to it.  Well, last Tuesday I gave the Salvation Army 37 cents.  It had nothing to do with taxes. That's what change I had in my pocket, so I tossed it into the red kettle.  Which leads me to the question, if I were to make my own red kettle and stand at some well travelled area ringing a bell,  I wonder how much money I would make. I'm not really planning such an endeavor, though I wonder if people actually try this.
 
I note that our local Kroger store was open on Christmas. I think companies should give their employees a break. Stop being so greedy and let people have a day off.
 
Finally, my last thoughts on the Christmas past--I really wanted some pancakes.  I didn't have any pancake mix. I didn't go to the store [see above commentary] so I just did without pancakes. I'll eat some pancakes today.  But, alas, the stores around here no longer carry the blueberry ones. Those were my favorites.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Every Single Year

Well, now that the commercial orgy of Christmas is winding down, I'll  remind the world that this place would be much better off if everyone would just blindly do what I tell them. In the meantime, I'll share an observation that everyone will ignore.

Every single blasted year the news media, regardless of whether it's a network show or local broadcast, chirps into the never ending whining that holiday sales are in some way not up to snuff. What's not being said is the fact that sales will never be up to snuff.  People don't shop the way they used to. The world of going to Macy's on Miracle on whatever street they're on is long gone. People are not going whole hog and overbuying like they used to. It's not coming back. Sure they'll buy gifts, and like to have a special meal and may even throw a holiday gathering. But they're not buying nearly as much crap they don't need. They look long and hard at prices. And just buying everything and paying it off in July is not as popular. And that ain't going to change anytime soon. So, the retail world needs to get off its addiction to Christmas shopping and manage their inventories and hire people who aren't total morons and there are too many stores in this country. The good old days are gone. And that's the way it is. And the reporters and talking heads need to realize this and stop parroting what the retail stores PR departments are spewing out.

And, by the way, two new stores have joined my long list of places I won't patronize because they've pissed me off.

By the way, Santa Claus stiffed me.  Not only did he not bring me that cute redhead I like, but he didn't bring me anything at all.

Merry Christmas everybody. 

How'd you like to be two years old and wake up seeing this guy standing next to your bed?
How would you like to be 2 years old and wake up with this guy standing by your bed "watching you?"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

If it all happened today

I'm not sure of the original source of this. It was sent to me by the late Aaron B. Larson. Well, not when he was dead, but, well, you know what I mean.

If it all happened today...

INFANT DISCOVERED IN BARN, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES LAUNCH PROBE

Nazareth Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother

Bethlehem, Judea - Authorities were today alerted by a concerned citizen who noticed a family living in a barn. Upon arrival, Family Protective Service personnel, accompanied by police, took into protective care an infant child named Jesus, who had been wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a feeding trough by his 14-year old mother, Mary of Nazareth.

During the confrontation, a man identified as Joseph, also of Nazareth, attempted to stop the social workers. Joseph, aided by several local shepherds and some unidentified foreigners, tried to forestall efforts to take the child, but were restrained by the police.

Also being held for questioning are three foreigners who allege to be wise men from an eastern country. The INS and Homeland Security officials are seeking information about these who may be in the country illegally. A source with the INS states that they had no passports, but were in possession of gold and other possibly illegal substances. They resisted arrest saying that they had been warned by God to avoid officials in Jerusalem and to return quickly to their own country. The chemical substances in their possession will be tested.

The owner of the barn is also being held for questioning. The manager of Bethlehem Inn faces possible revocation of his license for violating health and safety regulations by allowing people to stay in the stable. Civil authorities are also investigating the zoning violations involved in maintaining livestock in a commercially-zoned district.

The location of the minor child will not be released, and the prospect for a quick resolution to this case is doubtful. Asked about when Jesus would be returned to his mother, a Child Protective Service spokesperson said, "The father is middle-aged and the mother definitely underage. We are checking with officials in Nazareth to determine what their legal relationship is.

Joseph has admitted taking Mary from her home in Nazareth because of a census requirement. However, because she was obviously pregnant when they left, investigators are looking into other reasons for their departure. Joseph is being held without bond on charges of molestation, kidnaping, child endangerment, and statutory rape.

Mary was taken to the Bethlehem General Hospital where she is being examined by doctors. Charges may also be filed against her for endangerment. She will also undergo psychiatric evaluation because of her claim that she is a virgin and that the child is from God.

The director of the psychiatric wing said, "I don't profess to have the right to tell people what to believe, but when their beliefs adversely affect the safety and well-being of others in this case her child - we must consider her a danger to others. The unidentified drugs at the scene didn't help her case, but I'm confidant that with the proper therapy regiment we can get her back on her feet."

A spokesperson for the governor's office said, "Who knows what was going through their heads? But regardless, their treatment of the child was inexcusable, and the involvement of these others frightening. There is much we don't know about this case, but for the sake of the child and the public, you can be assured that we will pursue this matter to the end."

Monday, December 23, 2013

All Right Then

I got a letter from a crooked publisher that I've talked about in some past postings. He's no longer going to be publishing fiction. How nice. I find it astonishing that he really believes he actually has the rights to publish anything. He's broken every contract he's had with every writer he's dealt with.  He refuses to even send out earnings statements. Most people who've dealt with him have never been paid a dime.  I've only been paid a few cents for the three stories in three anthologies that I made the mistake of getting involved with. I actually started laughing when I read the letter.  I found it oddly funny that he still thinks people take him seriously as a publisher and he's all wore out from doing nothing. 

What amazes me is not that he's a crook, not that he's convinced himself he's a good guy and his business just went south--it's that everyone let him get away with it.  I only had a few stories. Others had books and we're talking considerable money.  I even had a standing offer for the past two years that I would serve him at no cost if anyone would just take this guy to court. No one ever took me up on it.  If I had more money involved, I would've sued him and subpoenaed the sales records of the company that distributes his books. 

I won't mention the name, even though I'd like to.  I'll just add that I have never had a good experience with a small publisher concerning a book deal and I have two unpublished novels that may never see print because of  my experiences.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How Do You Know He's the King?

Standing in line at the post office, I found myself wondering what on earth it was all over the guy in front of me. His trousers were caked in, what I soon determined, was shit.  I don't know if it was his or the product of some animal. This reminded me of the wonderful pair of lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "How do you know he's the king?"
"Cause he hasn't got shit all over him."  Well, this guy certainly wasn't the king. 

How did he get shit all over him? I can only wonder. I don't normally go around in public places with shit all over me, but obviously, others may view the matter differently.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kristmas Kardz

An odd pattern seems to have developed concerning the Christmas cards I've received thus far. I don't get a large quantity, but the ones I've gotten all have wolves on them--all of them. They're all pretty cool looking. It seems on odd coincidence they'd all have wolves on them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Down to the Wire

Christmas shopping in my family is easy. We don't exchange gifts.  Haven't for years. We long ago decided that, since no one ever likes what they get anyway, why bother. So, I don't get Christmas presents.  Whilst I admit I  think it's a good thing, overall, I do sort of miss not having the decorate tree with presents underneath it. 

That wasn't always the case. When my dad's golden retriever was still alive, he got real excited when the Christmas tree went up. That was before we stopped exchanging gifts.  If we hadn't put a gift for him under the tree, there would've been no living with him. He always knew which present was his. He'd go by and check on it every now and then. And when the big day arrived, once he was given his present, often a toy of some kind, he'd open it himself and take it around and show it to everybody.
 
But, overall, I like not having to buy and ship presents. And if  everyone did as I do, the economy would come to a grinding halt.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Twas

I re-read the poem "The Night Before Christmas" yesterday. I hadn't read it in at least ten years. It's still darn good.  Haven't seen the TV version in a while.

Speaking of TV versions, I don't like all that many.  I like Frosty, but can't stand the sequel  I like the one with the dancing fire and ice guys .. He's Mister White Christmas. Can't remember the actual title. Rudolph is okay. The original Grinch is good,  but I don't like the movie with Jim Carey.  Charlie Brown Christmas is okay.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kardz

I was looking for something I wrote last year, but I just can't find it. It was a Christmas card I made all by myself.  And I just can't find it.  That's something that's disappearing; Christmas cards. I remember back in the old days growing up in California, our mailbox would be stuffed with Christmas cards of all types.  There would be the foil embossed one from my uncle [always foil embossed] and the religious cards, and the ones with Santa and the ones with some sort of  tree on them. I always seemed to like the ones with the Christmas trees the best. 
 
Over time, after my parents retired, the amount of Christmas cards dwindled significantly. I don't know how many cards my dad now sends out or gets, but I suspect it's a tiny fraction of what it once was. This year's cards he sent out are really cool looking. They've got a wolf on them. It's a radical departure for him.  I was impressed.
 
My cards, well, they were mostly the three wise men.  I sent out a few with a Christmas tree on them. And this leads me back to last year's cards. They had an alien with antennae on its head standing by a decorated tree. The verse was "May your holidays be out of this world." Nobody liked them. Nobody at all.  I went back to regular cards.
 
So, that's the way it is. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

New Review

There's a new review of Steampunk Trails at SF Site.  It's favorable, but a little odd in some ways. It mentions me repeatedly, all but ignores the magazine's editor and focuses almost entirely on the non fiction articles, all but ignoring the stories.

http://www.sfsite.com/00a/st406.htm

Monday, December 16, 2013

Writing Stuff

If anyone's interested in writing for Steampunk Trails, Julie has put up the new guidelines at the Steampunk Trails blog.  There is a link on this site (right above this posting). Opportunities for both fiction and nonfiction.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reading

Well, the Steampunk Christmas reading yesterday went very well. A  good time was had by all. Some very good stories were presented. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Steampunk Christmas

Well, today is the big day.  Yours truly and some other Colorado authors are reading steampunk holiday stories at the Broadway Book Mall at 3 pm. And it's free. Rumor has it they're even serving tea.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dear Santa

Karl
Hi, it's me Karl. I'm guest blogging today.

I just wanted to post my letter to Santa.

Dear Santa,

I'm real sorry about last year. I sure hope you aren't still mad at me. Look, we didn't have Santa Claus back in the cretaceous. How was I supposed to know when some fat guy in a sleigh showed up? I'd sure like to see a nice gift under the tree this Christmas. I've been pretty good for the most part.

I hope there aren't any hard feelings. For what it's worth, Blitzen was absolutely delicious.

Your friend,
Karl

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

You know, it's been like 30 years since you put anything for me underneath the tree.  Would it kill you to drop off a gift this Christmas eve?  I'm not that hard to buy for.  If you can't come up with something nice, a sack full of money always makes for a nice present. 

The fireplace is all clean now.  Although, you can always just use the back door. 

Thanks again,

Dave

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

They suck. They really do.

The Post Office says they don't suck.  I beg to differ. Someone sent me a package by First Class Mail a month ago. I just got it today.  My mortgage payment check was mailed two weeks ago to Chicago. It still hasn't arrived.  Last month it took three weeks for a Priority Mail package to get to California.  By my definition, service like this sucks.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Copies

Over at Steampunk Trails, where I am publisher,  during our Black Friday half off sale someone bought 25 copies.  Since it was bought through our distributor, I have no idea who it was. I'd love to thank them. That's a lot of copies--so many I sort of wonder why someone would buy so many. A class of some sort comes to mind.  At any rate, whatever they're being used for, I hope they enjoy them.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Horrorble

As I try to decide what to spend money on next year and what not to, I find myself  seriously doubting whether I want to renew my membership in the Horror Writers Association.  I just keep asking myself what do I get for my dues?  The answer: nothing.  It seems they rarely have any useful market information.  In fact, I can't say that I've gotten any useful information on anything. Heck, they can't even get their website to work half the time. 
 
 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ice World

A couple of days ago I told someone I thought I'd crash landed on an alien ice world.  Things have gotten much icier and colder since then.  Driving to and from work is like driving on a glacier. It's just awful and I want sympathy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Art

It's simply astonishing that I've ended up in the role of art director for Science Fiction Trails.  That includes Steampunk Trails and any anthology projects.  Why is this so darned ridiculous?  I can't draw.  Well, with weak sales I'm not likely to hire someone anytime soon.  Here's one of my drawings:


Friday, December 6, 2013

Another Crackpot Idea

A few weeks ago I wrote about my idea for Abominable Cereal, the cereal with little Abominable Snowmen inside the box. Well, there's another idea I have that I lack the resources to develop and market.  Lump O Coal.  Basically, people would buy a yellow card with a shrink wrapped lump of coal on it at stores.  Lump O Coal--For that rotten little kid. And on the back would be a little story about how Santa gives the bad kids a lump of coal instead of a present.  I think this would be just awesome. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Brrr

Every year about this time we get an arctic blast that comes down from Canada.  Damn cold last night.  A foot of snow came down in about five hours.  That's a lot in such a short time.  I guess that'll make the skiers happy.  Why do I live in a ski resort? I ain't got good sense.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Slime Creature From Planet 12

Do a search for slime creature and you get some interesting results.  But what is a slime creature?  Hell if I know.  Sometimes, when writing stories, you start with a story idea and come up with a name for it as the story develops.  Other times, you start with a title and work out from there.  So, that brings us back to a slime creature, and not any slime creature, but one from Planet 12.  What would Planet 12 be like? 
 
The answer: Planet 12 is a dark place, barely lit by a dim red star. It's warm, it's close to said star in terms of relative distance.  It's a swamp-like world.  How do I know? Because I said so.  One of the hottest things in astronomy right now is the fact they're finding all of these planets. Once they've found them, then you have to figure out what they're like. Then the scientist yields to the science fictionist. who tries to decide what would actually live there.  And on Planet 12 there are slime creatures.  And that's how we come up with a story idea. 
 
Next, we go from idea to actual story. Are there other creatures beside the slime creature?  What's it like on this planet?  And you soon have your story.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mo Money

Well, after repeatedly being lied to by my bank, they've finally issued me a credit.  This after causing two checks to bounce and they refuse to cover the fees I'm stuck with for that.  Just got back from opening my new bank account.  There aren't any credit unions in the county I live in--not one.

These sort of things happen to me all too often.  I've been bumped off of airline flights and not only have I been refused compensation, but the airlines even refused to refund my ticket money.  Those resulted in going to small claims court, just to get my ticket money back.  My health insurance refuses to pay for my flu shot, even though immunizations for influenza are listed plain as day under the things they cover.  I wonder who will screw me over next.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Show Me the Money

Think your money is safe in the bank? Ha!  I recently made a bank deposit, only to discover the next day the bank had deleted the transaction and was literally pretending it was never made. I've never experienced anything like this in my life. And the bank refuses to give me the money back. I bounced two checks.  The bank will not give me any explanation for what happened or why.  Monday  it'll be time to find another bank. Alas, I have no money to open another account.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Weird West Woes

There are an amazing amount of weird westerns out there, if you look for them at places like Amazon. But, if you look more closely, a lot of them appear to be self published.  And still more are just short stories being sold as books.  And they're all horror stories.  Believe it or not, there was a time not that long ago when weird westerns were heavily science fiction. Then there was an abrupt shift and everything with the weird western label suddenly became horror--and ultra dark horror for the most part. And the science fiction weird western was all but gone and forgotten.

That's actually why I started publishing Science Fiction Trails.  There just aren't many homes for western themed science fiction anymore.  And, alas, it seems writers no longer have much interest in writing this stuff. Our submissions are way down.  The western flavor of steampunk fired up people for a bit. We also saw a real surge when Cowboys & Aliens came out. Now that the fervor from that has quieted down, there just isn't much going on in this market.  I actually feel more like the Dutch kid with his finger in the dam than at any time since I started doing this over a decade ago.  Even though sales are not what they could be, as readers continue to favor free downloads over actually paying for something, it is the departure of writers than worries me more.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Bullets & Paint Brushes


I'm pleased to announce a short collection of Kit Volker's weird western stories are now available on Kindle in a collection titled Bullets & Paint Brushes. Kit's work has appeared in our anthologies and recent editions of Science Fiction Trails.  It's only a buck. Check it out.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZB6QGA

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Turkeys

I'm not really doing much for Thanksgiving this year.  I decided I didn't want the hassle of travelling. Alas, I'm not cooking any turkey.  I don't know why so many people can't cook them.  Ten to 20 houses are burnt down every thanksgiving by people trying to deep fry them in kettles--Cajun style. Growing up, our turkeys that my mom and my grandmother made were always overcooked and dry. This is usually because of an insistence of putting stuffing in the bird. Cook the stuffing on the stove. The bird will cook faster and more evenly without any stuffing in it.  
 
My mesquite grilled turkeys are the best in the world. No one on this earth can cook a turkey better than I can. And it's  a true shame that I'm not cooking one this year.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Martians Aren't Coming

I've lamented before that I can never figure out why some issues of Science Fiction Trails, where I am head honcho, are fairly popular and some are total duds.  Issue 8 is by far the most popular issue. It has a very colorful cover, but we haven't seen a correlation to covers that much in the past. For a long time our first issue, with a clipart cover, was the best seller.  The 9th issue was our Martian issue.  It's been a total dud. People don't seem to want to read about Martians.  I don't know why. I love Martians.  Issue 10, in case anyone's wondering, has sold way more copies than number 9. 
 
So, I guess I'll go on wondering.  Black Friday offer for half price on number 10 continues through the end of the week. That's darn near cost. 

 https://www.createspace.com/4268257
 
Enter discount code at checkout:   R3D6R9FP

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dog's Doctor

The other day I ripped the latest Dr. Who special. I'm sure some of the fans called up their voodoo witch doctor to place a curse on me. Seriously, a mysterious rash formed on my leg just after my comments posted.  Well, after surviving a nearly deadly fungal infection a few years ago, I have prescription anti fungal medicines on hand.  Take that voodoo spell casters. The rash was quickly vanquished.
 
I meant what I said.  So, live with it.
 
Now, moving forward, I don't know what the new Doctor will be like.  But, I think the Doctor should get a dog. In the old series Tom Baker ran around with a mechanical dog called K-9.  I think the Doctor should get a real dog that can bark at people--preferably one that likes to wear goggles.   And I'd like for Clara to run around in skimpier outfits. That should do it. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Paying Up

I figure I'm owed at least $2300 in unpaid royalties and fees for services rendered.  In the world of publishing, these ripoffs are quite commonplace.  I'm just amazed at how high the balance is getting. Simply put, contracts aren't worth the paper they're written on and these crooks know it costs more to pursue them than you'll ever collect.  Rule of law my ass. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dr. Who?

Well, I spent my Saturday afternoon sitting through the "Day of the Doctor" or whatever the hell it was called. It was a global simulcast  where everyone watched it at the same time around the world. It was nice seeing David Tennant again.  I think he was the best doctor of them all.  Frankly, I hated this show. I have nothing good to say about it. The storyline made no sense at all.  They broke all kinds of timelord rules.  I think it may be time to pack it in for Dr. Who. The show is running on fumes.  I wish they'd give the tardis to Clara and let her run around in it and put the doctor in an old folks home eating applesauce.

 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Oh Britania

Looking back over the sales, or lack of sales, of Science Fiction Trails and the books, I lament the loss of the British. When I first started publishing stuff, about 20% of sales were from the UK. This year, there have been no sales of any kind to the UK.  I don't know what happened to the UK market. I sold more to Germany than Britain this year--and Germany is not an English language nation (though there are a lot of folks who speak it and a lot of expatriate Americans). So, I guess I'll never figure it out.
 
Speaking of English language countries, we've never sold a single copy of anything in Australia or New Zealand.  And only one copy of one book to Canada, in spite of repeated positive reviews on a Canadian science fiction website.  So, we remain essentially an American business serving an American market. So much for globalization.
 
 
Our Current Products
 
(Not counting back issues of Science Fiction Trails, which are also available)
 


 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Black Friday Special

Over at the Steampunk Trails site, where I am publisher, they've got a half off special.  This is darn near at cost. 

Five biggest reason people won't buy Steampunk Trails:

I don't like steampunk.  Buy it anyway.

The stories might hurt me. Don't be silly.

I don't have any goggles.   You local hardware store can help you with that.

My dog doesn't like steampunk.  Dogs love steampunk. Get another dog.

I don't know what steampunk is.   Neither do we.

Steampunk Trails Magazine

Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Book Review


We found a new book review of Gunslingers & Ghost Stories
 
This is the third anthology by Riley this magazine has reviewed. While the other two anthologies were a mixture of horror and dark fantasy, this one is made up of all types of ghost stories. And just like the others, it is made up of some great stories... Most of the stories are enjoyable and easy reads. It has many other different ghost stories that keeps the reader guessing what is next
 Blood Moon Rising Issue #53 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Black Friday Special

Now through November 30th you can get half off the print edition of Science Fiction Trails magazine Issue #10, the current and biggest issue ever. To get this rate you must order from our distributor and use the discount code below.
 
 
 
Enter discount code at checkout:   R3D6R9FP
 
 

Harry Potter Stamp?

Well, the mighty US Postal Service has unveiled their Harry Potter stamps. In my opinion, they are butt ugly.  Anything to make a buck, I guess.  When are they going to release the Walking Dead stamp?  Hah, like that'll ever happen. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Amazing Moment

Well, they say as we get older you have moments. Yesterday I took out the recycling to the recycling bin in our condo complex.  Then, about an hour later, I noticed the recycling was still sitting by the door.  Which brought me to the question: What the hell did I just throw out?  I took the recycling out again and noticed they'd just picked the stuff up and the recycling dumpster was now completely empty. And I still haven't figured out what it was I took out.

 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Abominable Cereal

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth I took a college marketing class. The concept was we had to come up with an idea for a product or service, then make a plan for how we would market it. My product–Abominable Cereal. You would have little Abominable Snowmen, coated in frosted sugar (so they'd be white) and kids would buy them. On the box you would have a picture of Yeti (The Abominable Snowman) on top of a mountain top swatting at airplanes, much like King Kong is often depicted on top of the Empire State Building. I thought this was a wonderful idea for a product. As I recall, the professor gave me a C and ripped it pretty hard.

Hell, if I won the lottery or found a million dollars lying in a ditch, I’d market this product right away. I still think it would be awesome. In the meantime, if the folks at Post or Kellogg's want to rip off my idea and market an Abominable Cereal, go right ahead. I don't mind. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Plum Pudding

I've been trying to decide if I want to make a plum pudding for our upcoming Steampunk Christmas event on Dec 14th.  I used to make them all the time, but have not done so for years.  The fact is, I don't really care for them.  For those unfamiliar, they're sort of like a fruitcake, though there are differences in ingredients. And they're steamed instead of baked.

Once upon a time some members of my family liked fruitcake. I started making my own, instead of ordering them from Texas.  My fruitcakes were the best in the world.  Then I branched out in plum pudding. But, over time, as distances increased and we stopped doing much for Christmas, I stopped making them. Maybe I'll toss a coin.

By the way, my mesquite grilled turkey is the best in the world also. But that's another story.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Arrogance

I've been dealing with writers in multiple capacities for years. Many of them are not nice people. One writer in particular has simply amazed me. He's gone, in just a few years, from being someone trying to establish himself to an unbelievably arrogant ass. I actually published this guy, but that isn't likely to happen again. His blog entries now regularly put down other writers, the meager writers peddling their PDF crap. He doesn't seem to realize his own collections and anthologies are published by very small presses.  In other words, he has never had anything resembling a commercial success himself, yet he puts down everyone else. He barely got himself qualified to become a member of SFWA. Upon which, he began his attacks on the meager writers.  I'm not calling him out by name, though I am tempted.  But I don't attack other writers in print--at least not by name.
 
I mention it only as an observation.  I don't begrudge anyone their success, nor do I ever feel myself superior in any way to the novice writers submitting their first stories to an editor. But arrogance and writing seem to go hand in hand.  I guess because it's not always easy to tell who the Divas are. And I'm probably misusing the term a bit, but there are so many different types of writers--some specializing in one genre, others in nonfiction, short story hacks, novelists, screenwriters. Other than a few blockbusters and those handfuls of writers with major awards, how do you really determine who is good and who isn't? I don't know.  If it's commercial success, then the guy who set me off on this tirade is anything but. In his mind I'm sure he thinks he's the greatest thing to come along in years, though I regard him as a hack.  It's all how you look at things, I suppose. and I'm not arrogant enough to think my opinion matters all that much.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Super powers?

I was having a conservation with some people last week. The topic drifted to: If you could have a super power, what would it be? Ideas bounced around like invisibility, the ability to fly and being able to travel through time. All have their advantages, to be sure. Then my turn came up. I wanted to the ability to make people crap on command. Everyone stared at me in disbelief.

I don’t think they see the power here. If someone’s trying to rob you, zap. As they suddenly crap their pants, they’ll be so distracted you can run away and they will not chase you with their underpants filled with piping hot poop.

Likewise, if a politician you don’t like is about to give a major keynote speech, zap just as he gets started. Or, on a smaller scale, if you didn’t like your boss and everyone sits down for a meeting, zap. It just seems like an amazing power to have and I wish I had it.

When I was about 4 or 5, I went through a phase when I was pooping my pants, to my mother’s dismay. That is not the same thing. I got over that.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hotel Management?

I’ve been working in the hotel business for quite some time. When you work in the hotel business you notice things about human nature. One observation I’ve had is that hotel guests, for some inexplicable reason, become completely helpless the minute they check in. They can earn a living, remember their kids’ names and successfully find their home each evening, but check them into a hotel and such tasks become instantly impossible for them. Not only do they become helpless: "I can’t turn my TV on", but they also become convinced that hotel employees are all knowing oracles available 24 hours a day to dispense wisdom for them. I honestly expect one will soon come to me with a ticking bomb and ask "Can you disarm this for me?"

Case in point: A few days ago a guest came to me and asked, "How do you get shit out of a car?"

To which I replied: "Excuse me?"

Apparently, someone had taken a dump in his unlocked car. I was supposed to profess some wisdom as to how to solve this dilemma as if I were the Oracle at Delphi. "How about some paper towels?"

"Yeah, thanks," the guest replied. And a few minutes later, he returned, demanding still more attention. "Man, it sinks in there."

"I"ll see if housekeeping has some air freshener," I offered. And I quickly found a spray bottle of what could possibly be air freshener. "Try this."

And that worked for a few minutes until the guy returned yet again. "It still stinks."

"Is it a rental car?" I asked.

"Yes, it is."

"Well, just turn it back in then," I suggested.

"Oh, okay."

I expected him to come back when he realized turning it back in meant a two hour drive back to Denver in a car that smelled like shit. For some miraculous reason, he didn’t come back and I never saw him again. The thing I wonder is: Do classes in hospitality and hotel management have questions on their exams like: What do you do when a guest’s car smells like shit? I don’t have a hospitality degree, so I don’t know the answer.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review?

To review or not to review? That is the question.  I rarely review films. I don't really consider myself a reviewer or critic.  I'm more of a crackpot who goes off on a tangent now and then that may or may not include a movie. Hence my dilemma with Thor: The Dark World.. I liked it, but I really can't say why.  In so many ways it's the same movie they did before. On the other hand they have stuff getting blown up and lots of spectacle from computer generated effects.  And the big guy sure can throw that hammer around.  And that's about all I can think of to say about it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Routine business today

Not much to ad today.  I'm just getting caught up on routine business like trying to get more propane for the BBQ grill.  I don't grill much in the winter, but I like to have it ready to go for when I do.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Awards Versus Rewards?

I think AMC’s The Walking Dead is absolutely the best episodic horror production that I have ever seen–bar none. So, I was recently looking over the past few years recipients of the Stoker Awards. It wasn’t the lack of any awards to The Walking Dead that bothered me so much as the fact that the screenplay category went to what I felt were vastly inferior productions. It is a writing award, so it’s strictly the screenplay category here.

That is sort of the problem with these awards. Whether they’re the Stokers or the Nebulas or the Hugos, they all tend to be sort of a popularity contest as much as an objective assessment of their contribution to the craft. Whoever is popular with the voting membership has a distinct advantage. I think that’s even true to some extent of the big awards like the Oscars. But somebody has to make these decisions. Or they could just stop giving out awards–like that would ever happen. So, I guess I’ll keep watching The Walking Dead and hoping it gets the awards it deserves. Damn that show is good.

For the record, I am an active voting member of the HWA, which hands out the Stoker Awards. I’m not really attacking the Stokers, just complaining that the stuff I like never seems to win anything.

Haunted Hotel?

Right before Halloween I retold some creepy things that happened at a hotel I used to work at.  What I've been silent about is the hotel I currently work at.  I never really heard much of a haunted nature until recently.  And I'm not mentioning the hotel because I'm not sure how the company will react to the allegation that it may be haunted. Employees have been hearing whistling and there is nobody there. Disembodied voices talking to some employees.  And last week I heard someone stomping around on the fourth floor--and it was loud. I was on the floor below and it sounded like someone was stomping up and down the hallway.  Thing is, there was no one at all staying on that floor. And I went up there and found no one. So who or what was stomping around up there?  Stay tuned...
 
 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Used Food

If you buy a transistor radio and you don't like it, most stores will let you return it.  If you buy a food item, not so much.  I bought some cashews yesterday and they're not very good.  Having opened the can to try them, I don't think the store will take them back unless I were to put a dead mouse in the can and claim it was there when I opened it. So, I did the next best thing. I took them in to work and put them in a bowl in the employee break room.  Those people will eat anything.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Final Days

If anybody's been thinking about submitting to Science Fiction Trails, I expect it will close to submissions by Thanksgiving.  Just thought I'd mention it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Nice Review

Well, yesterday I woke up to a pleasant surprise  in my inbox. We got a very enthusiastic review to the new issue of Steampunk Trails, where I am publisher. This is on a site called the Rabid Reader.  Check it out!
 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Man With Beard

Back in July I shaved off the beard I'd had since March of 2010. Why? I just decided to.  I noticed two things when I had the beard. Country Buffet kept wanting to give me the senior discount, even though I was not old enough.  The second thing I noticed was, if I wore my dark sunglasses,  a lot of the local Mexicans thought I was a home boy and insisted I speak Spanish. Not only did the Mexicans think I was a Mexican, but so did local law enforcement.  They would often pull up in the other lane on the freeway and sort of hover there--obviously checking me for warrants or perhaps to see if I had insurance, all the while thinking I didn't know they were there. Surprised that I was not wanted anywhere and my car was not stolen, they would drive on.

Thing is, since I got rid of the beard, no one from law enforcement pays me any mind as I tool along in my Ford.  And, the people at Country Buffet charge me full price--no more senior discounts. So, in retrospect, I guess the solution to life's problems is not have a beard.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dumbshits

I wonder why Walmart hires such dumbshits to work for them. It seems every time I go there the cashier puts one item on the other side of the turnstile where I can't see it for no explicable reason. Then I get home and I'm short something. I hate shopping there. If I didn't live in a small town with limited options, I wouldn't go near the place.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Efficiency

I have bashed the Post Office a few times here on this blog.  Well, they lost a package I sent to California about a month ago. I filed an insurance claim online and got a check from them in a week. I think that's pretty good service, actually. Well done USPS.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Science Fiction

Over at Science Fiction Trails things have been kind of slow.  Both orders and story submissions have really fallen off.  I'm not  sure why that is, but that seems to be the nature of the game. We go for a while with a volley of activity, then it drops off to nothing. It's sort of maddening, but I'm kind of used to it by now.  I did manage to acquire an interesting review about some Wild West comics that I didn't even know existed. I think that'll be an unexpected surprise for our readers. Life goes on.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Xmas Goodies

If I ran a factory that made  candy bunny rabbits, here's what I would do. For Easter I'd sell chocolate bunnies. For July 4th I'd sell red, white and blue bunnies. For Halloween I'd sell orange bunnies.  And for Christmas I'd sell red and green bunnies.  That would give me a year around business in a traditionally once a year product.

Costco just sent me a catalog of goodies.  I'm still awaiting my other holiday catalogs.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Postage Due

Back when I lived in California I had a friend named Ramon. He ran a small business making fishing lures. One of his best customers was some place in Louisiana. I was curious why he always shipped the order by Express Mail.  I asked him what was so urgent about fishing lures? "Nothin," was his reply. Turned out he used Express Mail because it was free.  He said the Postal Service had never once delivered an Express Package on time, so he just filed claims and kept getting his money back.
 
Well, my situation as a publisher isn't quite the same, but I was pleased when the Postal Service added free insurance to their Priority Mail service. Delivery date is still not guaranteed, but loss or damage is. I've found about 10% of the packages I've shipped in the last year have never arrived. Yesterday I filed my second claim for a missing package.  I have this feeling I'll be filing more of them. The damned Post Office has a hell .of a thieving problem in the Denver sorting facility. That seems to be where most of the missing stuff drops off the end of the world and is never seen again. At least I can recoup my losses now.  I've never used Express Mail, I guess I could try it. Ramon swore by it. Free mail is sure tempting.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Travel

I've been criticized for not having a true writers blog. I can talk about writing one day and rattle on about garbage the next (yes, garbage like the stuff in the dumpsters). So, today is no exception. But I'll focus on something I rarely talk about--travel. I don't talk about it much, but I've worked for quite some time in the hotel business.  As we plan our winter travel, I thought I'd share a few thoughts.
 
People are often enticed by the offers of what we in the travel business call wholesalers. and I admit that some of the packages places like Expedia and Hotels.com offer are enticing. Still, consider this: I estimate that 95% of my problem reservations that I have had to deal with are booked through wholesalers or travel agents.  The flip side of that, I hardly ever have any issues with guests who book with our hotel directly.  What kind of issues?  They run the gauntlet from people expecting a view room and they were booked in the cheaper rooms that overview the parking lot to showing up and we've never heard of them. The most common issue is bedding. If you have specific needs keep in mind that the major wholesalers do not guarantee bedding. If you have dreams of that king bed awaiting you, you may be in for a surprise when you check in. A full hotel can't magically move you to whatever you want. And they're certainly not obligated to upgrade you.
 
There's nothing wrong with the convenience of having someone else arrange your trip, but keep in mind this: I booked with a large company that lets you bid on rooms (I won't say their name). The room was awful. The hotel was a dump and totally misrepresented. The response from Price$@!& was basically that I was a damned fool for booking with them and their rating system was meaningless.  In other words, buyer beware.  Have a nice trip.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Highwayman

THE HIGHWAYMAN

by

David B. Riley


 

 

He couldn't tell for certain if no one had seen him, but there weren't any sirens screeching through the night. Kal opened the hatch and climbed down. So far, so good. He hurried across the park, then stopped by the statue of some guy on a horse. The house was just across the street. He looked right, then left, then scurried across the open area and slid under a tall bush. So far, so good.

He hoped the commander wouldn't find out what he was doing. He doubted he could explain why he was 100 light years off course. If all went well, he wouldn't have to. Kal looked around. Surely, this was too easy. He switched on his voice translator and readied his ray gun. It was time.

He climbed out from the bushes and strutted boldly up to the front door. A slight sense of dread was trying to overcome him. He fought it off. If only humans weren't so darn big. He reached the porch. His antennae were vibrating from the music inside. At least they were home. He readied his ray gun and pressed on the door bell button. He liked the pleasant chiming sound it made and rang again.

Slowly, the big door opened and he peered up at a human female. He raised the weapon. "Give me Earth food now," he ordered in his most forceful manner.

"Oh, George, come quick."

It's summoning its mate, Kal thought. He prepared to fire. Then, a human male arrived holding a tray of candied apples.

"He's so cute. Just like a little space man," the female said.

"Less talk, more food," Kal ordered.

"Of course. You've got a long way to get back to your planet," the male said. A very sensible individual.

"I just made them," the female stated.

He placed one in his loot sack. It was so big he decided not to ask for more of them. He didn’t want humans to think his kind were greedy.

"Good night." The male closed the door.

Kal scurried back across the street. A small human female wearing a mask ran towards him. He readied his ray gun, though she looked young and harmless..

"They got candy apples?" she was asking.

"Yes. They look good." He held tightly to his sack in case she tried to grab it.

"I'll go get me one." She trotted across the street. Kal holstered his weapon and watched in amazement. Without any weapon, the young female obtained a candy apple from the elderly couple. Kal reasoned the mask must be frightening to humans. The young female stood at the edge of the sidewalk and waived at him. "Happy Halloween," she yelled.

"Yes, happy." He felt oddly pleased the young child called Halloween had gotten an apple as well. Earth food was so addictive. He headed for the ship. This had worked so well he would try it again, tomorrow.

This story has been reprinted many times. I often post it at Halloween.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Addendum

I noticed on the internet that some lady is going to give kids letters telling them they're too fat instead of candy for Halloween.  I know childhood obesity is a big problem, but appointing yourself God is not the solution. She's not these kids parent. Give out other stuff if candy bothers you. My dad gives out dimes.  I don't know how many they get this year, but I'm sure it's worth more than cheap candy.

When I was a kid, and the crowd I ran with was actually quite tame, we still would've egged the living crap out of her house if someone had pulled that.  I hope the local supermarket is well stocked.


Haunted Yellowstone, Part 4

In honor of Halloween, I’m retelling some of my experiences at a haunted hotel in Wyoming. Some of these, some folks may have heard before. This ain’t fiction--this really happened.

Part 4: The Demonic Entity

One of our security guards at the hotel had a new video camera that had low light capabilities. He’d bought it to film bats. The Lake Yellowstone area actually has its own species of bats. And they’re nice bats. They eat lots of mosquitos and don’t bother anyone, though they do sometimes get trapped inside the buildings and startle hotel guests. This was before the current crop of low light cameras was available. It was new stuff back then.

So, one August night, the security guard was filming this and that, getting to know his new toy. He came out of the dining room and over to the front desk, whereupon he replayed what he’d filmed. He kept looking at the screen. He turned the camera around toward me and asked,"What do you make of that?"

I stared at an image of two red glowing eyes. I had no doubt about what I was looking at–no doubt at all. It was what paranormal researchers called a demonic entity. If you have not heard of them, they’re kind of like a ghost on steroids. Mean, nasty entities that are not to be messed with. And what was it doing in my hotel’s dining room?

The security guard preferred the theory of lighting problems. So, we went back in and tried to replicate the result from different angles and such. We could not do it. Nothing even came close to the image. I wish I had a copy of the picture. It was just creepy and mere words do not do it justice.

As if to spite us, or perhaps to remove any doubts, about a half hour later we noticed a light coming from the Sun Room, which is kind of an alcove off of the main lobby. We both went over just in time to see a small round light float up from the floor and vanish into the ceiling. And he got that on video as well. We replayed that for days to anyone who would look at it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Haunted Yellowstone, Part 3

In honor of Halloween, I’m retelling some of my experiences at a haunted hotel in Wyoming. Some of these, some folks may have heard before. This ain’t fiction--this really happened.

Part 3: The Mirror that Dripped Blood

At this point, I’d worked at Lake Hotel for some time and heard rumors the place was haunted, though I dismissed those rumors as the work of overactive imaginations.

The graveyard crew usually consisted of two security guards, a night porter and night front desk agent. I was filling in for the regular night guy at the front desk so he could get a night off. It had been a quiet August night. There were no late check ins or guest problems. At around two o’clock, one of the security guards came down the stairs from the old wing of the building. He was shaking–really shaking and he looked pale.

Finally, he explained what had happened. He’d gone upstairs to make his rounds. On the upstairs floor he’d gone by the mirror on the wall. The mirror was dripping blood. He thought we should call the park rangers.

I resisted that notion, if for no other reason than there was no wall mirror in the upstairs hallway where he’d encountered one. But, he had our curiosity. So, myself and the night porter and the other security guard crept up the stairs to the third floor, which is called the second floor, but that’s another story. Our curiosity compelled us to go. And, as we suspected, we found nothing. There was no mirror, dripping blood or otherwise. We went back down and gave the guy a little ribbing and went back to our respective duties. But, the poor fellow knew what he’d seen. He came in and quit the next day.

As luck would have it, my next job was at a Holiday Inn property. It turned out that the general manager of the Holiday Inn had been the manager of the very same hotel in Yellowstone a few years before I worked there. One slow night we were talking about the place and I regaled my story about the mirror that dripped blood. I noticed he had an odd grin on his face. He then told me during his tenure there the night porter had gone upstairs for a guest request for towels and encountered a mirror dripping blood. The fellow was hysterical. Like the security guard, he came in the next day and quit. And, as in my experience, there was no mirror there when he worked there, either.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Haunted Yellowstone, Part 2

In honor of Halloween, I’m retelling some of my experiences at a haunted hotel in Wyoming. Some of these, some folks may have heard before. This ain’t fiction--this really happened.

Part 2: Early checkout

I wasn’t the regular night guy at the front desk, but I found myself again filling in working the graveyard shift at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. At this point in time, I was primarily doing work with group tours and filling in on the night shift as needed. The lobby of the hotel is quite large. There are two wings of the hotel. One is accessed by a grand staircase that runs right don into the lobby area. The newer wing of the hotel is down a hallway and has an elevator.

As my regular "day job" duties had not gone away, plus I also had the night shift reports to prepare, I was quite busy and not anxious to deal with guest matters that evening. So, I didn’t quite know what to think when I heard the unmistakable sound of people coming down the stairs. I saw a gentleman with luggage, followed by two kids, then mom was bringing up the rear. It was 12:45 in the morning. There is nowhere to go at that time of the morning in Yellowstone National Park. The nearest town is almost 100 miles away. But, there this family was.

The guest handed me a room key. The second I saw it I felt like I already knew what happened. It was the key to room 209–the haunted room. At least, many of the employees insisted the room was haunted by a ghost they’d named Matilda.

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

"We’re getting out of here," the guest replied.

I had already deduced that.

The wife finally interjected. "There’s a ghost in our room."

"I see," said I. "I’m sorry to hear that."

She then explained she’d woken and was a bit shocked to see a woman standing by the kid’s bed, looking at them. Then, the woman vanished. Mom had woken the family up and demanded they leave. I pointed out nothing was open in the park and the nearest towns were some distance away. She didn’t care.

As they started to leave, I asked what the ghost looked like. She described a 1920s flapper with a tight headband. This was the same exact description the employees who’d seen her always gave. I don’t know where they went, but I guess anyplace sounded good to them.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Haunted Yellowstone, Part 1

In honor of Halloween, I’m retelling some of my experiences at a haunted hotel in Wyoming. Some of these, some folks may have heard before. This ain’t fiction--this really happened.

 

I’m the sort of person who never sees ghosts and had always been skeptical of the very premise. So, I found myself working the graveyard shift at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel in Wyoming. This is a very large canary yellow wood frame hotel right on the shores on Lake Yellowstone in the nation’s oldest national park, with over 300 hundred rooms on the property, including an annex and outlying cabins. It is the oldest hotel in the park. I’d heard stories from employees of a ghost in the old wing of the hotel. The building has two wings, one is newer and even has an elevator. The old wing, though remodeled many times to install modern amenities, is part of the original structure.

A few of our security guards swore they’d seen something. I later learned the employees had been seeing a ghost regularly for years. She was described as wearing a tight hat or headband like they wore in the 1920's and a dress from the same vintage. In other words, the flapper look.

A new desk clerk arrived on the scene. She mentioned seeing a ghost at a haunted house recently, before coming to Yellowstone. Since she hadn’t been there long enough to be corrupted by stories of our ghost, I decided to perform an experiment. I just asked her to walk the length of the building and see if anything turned up. I told her there was a rumor that the hotel was haunted, but nothing more. We went at midnight. That seems to be when ghostly entities like to conduct their business. As we walked by the specific room where most of the sightings had happened, she suddenly jerked. Goose bumps shot up on her arms. She told me something just touched her. I was over ten feet away and there wasn’t anybody else on the floor. We then went to the end of the hall. She turned around and gasped. By the time I turned around, there was nothing there. She told me she saw something, for only an instant, then precisely described the same thing others kept seeing, a woman who looked like she was from the 1920's.

Lake Hotel, as it is informally called, sits right on the edge of Lake Yellowstone, one of the largest high altitude lakes in North America. The property is well maintained with on sight dining and a bar. There is a large sun room on the ground floor where people can relax and listen to live music in the afternoons. This is a seasonal property, only open about six months of the year. It does not operate during the winter.

For some time, no one is certain how long, employees have been seeing strange things on the second floor of the old wing. Many an employee has reported seeing her at the window as they walk to work in the morning, looking out for just an instant. And the employees have even named her. Matilda frequents the back side of the hotel, which looks toward the forest and away from the lake. For whatever reason, she manifests around employees far more often than guests. Tourists, as reported, do also encounter her from time to time. It’s always on the second floor. She is a bit of a puzzlement. As this hotel sits inside a national park, the government keeps voluminous records on just about everything, including how people die in the park. Park service archives do not report any unnatural deaths at the hotel during the 1920's. This is often a link with ghost presences. In fact, they don’t record any deaths there at all. There have been numerous drownings in the nearby lake, usually from sinking or capsizing boats. Some people have suggested a link there. Of course, this leaves one wondering why she looks out toward the forest instead of the lake.


I spent two summers at that hotel. I never saw a thing and nothing ever touched me when I went down the halls. I still don’t know what to make of it.

Garbage

It amazes me what turns up in the garbage. At the hotel I work at I noticed something that seemed a bit odd. It was a package of cashews. It was unopened.  I debated whether I've sunk to the point of eating stuff out of the garbage compared with letting perfectly good food go to waste. And these were cashews. Cashews are not cheap commodities like peanuts.  So, I ate them.
 
 
 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Coin of the Realm

I found a quarter on the sidewalk yesterday. I'm always happy when I find money--even if it's a tiny sum.
Way back when, I once worked at a place where there was always money in the pay phone coin return. I don't know why nobody else ever checked it, but it was good for at least a couple bucks a week. Nowadays, there aren't any pay phones--blasted cell phones have wiped them out.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bookz

One thing I spend an inordinate amount of time on is books. More specifically, why people will buy one book and not another one.  The subject came up again more than once at the recent con I said I will no longer talk about. Case in point: Six Guns Straight From Hell.  The book was a steady seller. I had to take it out of print recently as the contracts with the authors expired.  Another book, Low Noon, had very similar content with a lot of the same authors, yet it's never sold well.  Why? Hell I don't know why. 
 
I've been submitting to a lot of anthologies the past few weeks.  I don't if my stuff will be selected. And more baffling, I don't know if those anthologies will be successful. I've been disappointed more often than pleased with the sales of the books I've been published in.  And I really don't know why one book sells and another does not. is it cover art?  Is it distribution? Is it price?  I just don't know.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

One More Lament about Mile Hi Con

I’ve been rattling on about Mile Hi Con since I got back.. Well, this will be the last posting on the matter. I already have said I only attended part of the con and had to return home to go to work,which is 100 miles away from Denver. This turned out to be really frustrating because I would’ve liked to have stayed there, and not just because the con seemed especially fun this year.

One thing I’ve noticed over time is the gender ratio at science fiction cons seems to be changing. Ten years ago it was hugely male to female–perhaps three to one. That has changed and the disparity has closed considerably, though I lack any official stats. Heck, at steampunk cons I suspect women actually outnumber men. My point is simply these were not historically places to pick up girls. The numbers have not worked for that. So I was amazed that I met someone I was really impressed with. Although I don’t think she was particularly impressed with me, I could not try to buy her a drink at the bar or stalk her for the rest of the con because I had to leave. And, since she’s from out of state, I’m not likely to see her again. I is bummed a bit about this. More than a bit.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adventures in the Secret Police

I have a science fiction book that's always been an orphan. It was self published on Kindle because no one would publish it.  The reason, at least in my opinion, was I made the mistake of using Santa Claus as a character.  The second anyone saw that I got "We don't do seasonal material" for a response.  Thing is, the book has nothing to do with Christmas. Christmas is never even mentioned.  Well, that all said, it's available today and tomorrow for free on Kindle if anyone would like to download it.
 
 
 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Night Stalker

Ever hear of The Night Stalker? I'm not talking about the serial killer in California, but the TV show from the 1970s.  I used to love this show.  Like most of the shows I liked back then, it didn't last long.  Reporter Karl Kolchak would ignore his assignments and go off after various paranormal  things that always seemed to be plaguing the good people of Chicago.  Anyway, in a conversation about Halloween costumes I got somebody interested in it, which is available on Netflix. 

There was an attempt to do a remake a few years back. It was unwatchable. Half of the charm was the relationship between Darren McGaven and Simon Oakland. The remake had none of that and flopped badly.
 
As we approach Halloween, do yourself a favor and download, rent or borrow this show.  Most people under 35 or so have never seen it. It's a real treat.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Shoot 'Em Up

I spent much of my effort at the recent Mile Hi Con shamelessly promoting the new Steampunk Trails. And copies were sold--most likely due to the efforts of editor Julies Campbell and not me. People like her.

Anyway, I did make a few pitches for my western horror anthologies.  And a couple of copies of Gunslingers & Ghost Stories did sell.  I also told some folks about my other anthology that's still in print-- Low Noon.  This book has really struggled for sales.  I'm not sure why, but it has.  One thing I've told people about it is that Joel Jenkin's "The Five Disciples" is the best gunfight story I've ever read.  Jenkins has a real talent for doing gunfights with his Lone Crow character.  I wish he'd do more of them. 

[Somebody released a book with the same title this past summer. Mine's the one I edited. If somebody else's name is on it, it's not mine]


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Conz

We had a healthy crowd at Mile Hi Con this weekend.  Even the author reading had a decent crowd and we were scheduled against the opening ceremonies. I've seen these sometimes where there's no one at all there, so it was nice to actually have people to read to.

The mad scientist panel went okay.  This is not my strongest area. There were other things I would've rather done. But I managed to get through it without making an ass out of myself.  The steampunk panel went rather well.  Steampunk fans are really well informed.

My only regret is I couldn't attend a lot of the activities as I had to return home and go to work, so I missed Saturday evening and Sunday,

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mile Hi postscript

Well, I got back from Mile Hi Con intact. Nothing bad happened to me.  I didn't attend the whole con because I have to work.  Still, I had a great time. Got to see some old friends.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Off to MHC

Well I'm off to Mile Hi Con.  I hope nothing bad happens to me. The first four years I always had car trouble such as flat tires or dead batteries. Then I got sick two years in a row--the second time so bad I landed in the hospital. Then I took a year off and didn't go. Then last year nothing bad happened to me. I'll report on any non lethal calamities right here. If I die, then I probably won't have any more blog entries. That would be interesting, but kind of creepy if I did.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Not Much on the Agenda

Not much going on today. I'm hoping to get my car serviced without any major surprises. You never know how that will go. There aren't any car repair places around here that I truly like. I'm going to the Ford dealer, which is quite some distance away. It kind of kills the whole day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Show Me The Money

I found a dime on the sidewalk yesterday.  That's noteworthy because I never see dimes on the ground--just pennies and quarters.  In fact, I recently lamented that fact in another post here in this blog. You just don't find dimes.  It's like the dime fairy swoops down and takes them.  I don't know what I'll do with my dime. a dime won't really buy much.  I sure wish I could find a twenty dollar bill on the ground. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

They're Back

It's been a long wait, but The Walking Dead is back.   I just love that show.  It's the one show on TV that I can't predict what's going to happen next. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mile Hi Con

Well, next weekend is Mile Hi Con.  They've got me down for an author reading during the opening ceremony on Friday. That'll be a bust. I'll probably be reading to an empty room.  On Saturday I'm on a panel about mad scientists and I'm moderating some sort of steampunk panel. And that's it. 
 
I don't attend a lot of cons.  I've been on a three a year rotation.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Taste Tests

Canned tomato soup.  The store brands are half as much as Campbell's. I doubt anyone could tell the difference in a blind taste test. Yet people all go for the national brand.

I once had a blind taste test to see if I could tell the difference between red bananas and yellow ones.  The red ones are sweeter. I had no trouble telling.  But, alas, I wanted some red bananas but the chain grocery stores ain't got none. People won't buy them.  They're afraid of them.  Back when I lived at home my dad would not eat red bananas. He wouldn't even try one.

When I lived in Oregon (a major potato growing state) I had some red potatoes. No one would eat them.

Also in Oregon I got a hold of some blue corn meal. I made some cornbread. No one I knew would even taste it. They were all afraid.

I wish I knew how to run a restaurant.  I'd make french fries out of blue potatoes.  And nobody would eat them.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Leaves

We're drowning n leaves around my house.  They're finding their way into my car. I guess they burrow in during the night. They're in my house. I found one in my pocket.  They're simply everywhere, plotting how to annoy me and get inside my domicile.  For what diabolical purpose, I cannot really say.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

To Stamp or Not to Stamp

I've been using Stamps.com for about a year now.  It's remarkably convenient. You can print out postage online for just about any type of mail. No more arguing with postal clerks. You even can get discounts on some types of packages. You don't have to stand in line at the Post Office.  It has some real value.  I just used it to send out a bunch of copies of the new Steampunk Trails out to contributors and reviewers. Really convenient. My dilemma is I now will not likely have much mail to send out for quite a few months.  And they charge a monthly fee to use the service. Ergo, I can't really justify continuing to use it even though I sure do like it.  So, I struggle as to what to do.  They even these cool Halloween digital stamps you can get, though I have no use for them I sure do want them.

They've also got a promotion where if I refer people I can get some free postage [and so can the friend], yet everyone I know seems afraid to try it.  So, I fear I may have to drop it as a cost cutting move, though I sure do have a lost of reservations about it as I have liked the service.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Copyright Pages

I've been looking at a lot of anthologies lately, mainly because I'm a juror on the Stoker Awards for the anthology category.  What passes for copyright pages really amazes me.  It seems to be a case of monkey see--monkey do.  The litany of lists of story one copyright author one, followed by story two copyright author two and so on can rattle on for half a page.  A single notice by the rights holder (the publisher of the anthology) has been sufficient since the copyright act of 1976 was passed.  That means this antiquated practice has been obsolete for well over 30 years.  I think it persists because somebody does it that way, so people see it and think they have to do it that way. 

Then the USA signed the Berne Copyright Convention around 1988.  Since then a copyright page has not  been required at all. Nada. Yet authors and publishers fixate and obsess about copyright notices. It is all unnecessary.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with posting a copyright notice.  But, these lengthy lists of notices are ridiculous. People are doing this mostly because they have no idea what is required and what is not.  And nothing I say is going to change that.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

New Review For Steampunk Trails

Well then, there's a new review of Steampunk Trails out by New Zealand reviewer Steve Johnson. He seemed to like it. And, yes Steve, that is the same Carrie Vaughn.
 

Steampunk Trails issue 1, Ed. J.A.Campbell.

8 October 2013

Very large softcover, September 2013. Publisher David B. Riley.
Reviewed Steve Johnson.
Not usually keen on Steampunk, but there’s some very good stories in this issue. Fade of the Innocent by O.M. Grey deals with a killer for hire who has his own rules and sticks to them, and in doing so finds he has a problem. One that ends up providing him with something he’s never realized he needs and will end up cherishing. Quincy Allen’s Family Heirloom was an excellent ‘going back in history’ with the real kicker as you realize at the end just who is telling the story. Lone Star Jackson – Outlaw is one of Lyn McConchie’s ‘awww’ stories as she puts it and she’s right, it’s also a darn good steampunk tale for someone who writes very few of them. And Moshito Masquine, a Sam Knight and Rhye Manhattan collaboration is an interesting steampunk vampire version that goes unexpected places and takes in some clever new angles on the way through.
The cover of this issue – by Wayne Miller -  has colour, professional quality work, and is wholly appropriate to the theme, something in which some anthologies fall down. And let’s not forget the article – What We talk About When We talk About Steampunk Fashion by Carrie Vaughn. Not only is this very lucid article useful for those of us who weren’t that sure what the term really did mean,  but I’m wondering if this is the Carrie Vaughn who writes the ‘Kitty’ series. If so, then that was a bonus as I have all of the books bar the first and love the series. Yes, for someone who isn’t usually that keen on Steampunk I got a lot of enjoyment and good reading from this issue, and I don’t mind admitting it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Well, then

Well, yesterday's Halloween Haunts has come and gone.  That's an annual event put on by the Horror Writers Association to celebrate every horror writer's favorite month--October.  I'm surprised of the roughly 1000 members, how few of them bother to participate.  I rather enjoy reading my fellow members thoughts on Halloween and stuff.  To each their own.  Stuff will be running all month long at horror.org    And it's all completely free. You can't beat free.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Halloween Haunts

My contribution to Halloween Haunts is scheduled to be on the horror.org site today. I recall some childhood memories of Halloween.  This is a month long celebration of Halloween with various thoughts on the holiday, horror literature, etc.  There are also opportunities to win free prizes. 

http://www.horror.org/blog/halloween-haunts-2013  


Halloween Haunts 2013: The Old Stories Return by James Chambers
 
 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Brrr

Well, our first winter storm arrived. Where I live it's cold, but not all that much snow.  Now I'll hear all about it all week as people are obsessed with how much snow the ski slopes will get this season. Somebody shoot me.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Money From Outer Space

I found a quarter yesterday. It was right there on the sidewalk when I came out of my doctor's office.  Of course, the bad news is I have to pay my doctor way more than a quarter.  There it was, right there.  I'm used to seeing pennies on the ground. I never find quarters. A quarter is still worth picking up.  The one thing you never see are dimes. I wonder why that is.  I never see dimes on the ground--just pennies.  I can put that quarter in a vending machine along with a few of its friends and get some peanuts or something.  Yay!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New Story Out

I have a new story out in Tales of the Talisman issue 9.1. It's called "Mr. Walker." I haven't yet gotten my copy of it.  I was able to access the first page of my story and the art on Amazon.com with their look inside feature.  All I can say is the story's illustration art is totally awesome. I just love it. 
 
Anyway, "Mr. Walker" is the guy the mob calls in when they're having problems of a paranormal nature.  In this adventure Walker is sent to a haunted house to retrieve some property.  I hope to eventually publish more adventures for Mr. Walker. 
 
 
 
I have a long history with this magazine and have appeared in it often.  It's really a consistently good publication.  I don't think it gets the respect it deserves.  People need to buy things like Tales of the Talisman if they claim to love speculative fiction. If they don't, we may someday have nothing to read but celebrity stories about some guy's drug problem put out by the commercial publishers and the self published crap that is flooding the marketplace.  Semi pro magazines are having a rough time these days.   Trust me--buy a copy. It's worth it.  It's available on Amazon right this minute.
 
 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Halloween Haunts

Halloween Haunts 2013: The Old Stories Return by James Chambers

Once again the Horror Writers Association [HWA] is hosting its Halloween Haunts  event on their Dark Whispers blog.  Now, through the big day, Halloween itself, their members will be posting stories about Halloween, horror fiction and writing horror. My own entry is slated for October 6th where I recount some childhood memories of Halloween.

And there's a bonus: Many of the members are offering free prizes.  Take a moment and check it all out.  Or, are you afraid?

http://www.horror.org/blog/halloween-haunts-2013




Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ah, paperwork

I last tried to refinance my house two years ago.  I sent in the paperwork and nothing happened. I called the company and all I got was voice mail, none of which was ever returned. In short, nothing ever happened.  It amazes me that I can get a credit card in seconds, but home financing is a whole nuther game.  Anyway, I just sort of gave up and now thought I try again.  I'm astonished at why they need my tax returns for the past four years. Past income has nothing to do with current ability to pay. I think some places just like to snoop.  There's other things I don't think they need and some things they seem indifferent to that I think are relevant.  In short, I'd be amazed if this ever closes.  I don't feel at all good about it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ah, October

Ah, October. I'd hoped to set up a Halloween reading later in the month.  It didn't happen.  Couldn't find a venue.  People's schedules didn't match up.  Oh well. I guess some things just aren't meant to be.  So much for October.  Move over Santa Claus.

So I came up with something called A Steampunk Christmas.  There will be a reading of steampunk stories at Broadway Book Mall in Denver on Saturday, December 14th. I'll be joined by J. A. Campbell, Vivian Caethe, Sam Knight, Peter Wacks and David Boop.  It's a free event. Those folks who live in Colorado come on down--and bring your goggles.
 
And if somebody wants to do a reading for Halloween and has a venue to do it, let me know.