Thursday, January 31, 2013

I've been traumatized!

I’ve been traumatized. Yesterday, I went to Denver because that’s where the opthamologist who treats my glaucoma is. That didn’t traumatize me.

Then I went to Country Buffet for lunch. The lunch did not traumatize me, either. In fact, I rather like their new Mongolian Grill. It’s rather tasty. But, they gave me the senior discount. I’ve never been given a senior discount in my life. I’ve now ascended to full fledged geezerhood. I guess there’s nothing left to do but sit on the back porch and wait for the Grim Reaper to arrive. It’s all over now. I’d been dreading that moment my entire life. Whilst I did save 55 cents on my lunch, it was not worth it considering the damage inflicted to my self esteem. Yikes! For the record, I’m not eligible for the geezer discount yet. That’s what makes me so worked up. I’ve still got a few years to go. But, at least in the eyes of the cashier at Country Buffet (home of the delicious Mongolian Grill), I’m now a geezer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You Want Lawndwee?

You want Laundwee? I have a coat that is dry clean only. I've had the coat for three years and it's never been cleaned. So, I took advantage of the slightly warmer weather we've been having and dropped it off at the cleaners. When I picked it up, it looked and smelled exactly the same. As near as I can tell, they never touched it. What a racket. I went back and complained and the person at the place started cursing at me. Now, my dilemma is whether to file suit in small claims court or just write it off as a lesson learned.

I don't have a lot of experience with dry cleaning. That coat is the only thing I own that requires it. Heck, I don't even own an iron. I just take stuff out of the dryer and hang it up. And, I never separate colors--I wash everything on warm.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Adventures in Road Kill

A few days ago I was driving along and this elk popped up on the interstate. It was immediately hit by the car in front of me. That car just kept right on going. It never stopped. If it were me, I'd pull over and check for damage. Frankly, at 75 MPH, I can't see how the car could not have damage. Anyway, this poor elk is flopping around at the side of the road. It had at least two broken legs. It must have been in agony. I called 911 and told them what happened. I also asked them if they wanted me to shoot the poor creature and put it out of its misery. They were quite insistent that I not shoot it. I got in my car and drove off, leaving the poor animal flopping around. I hope somebody came and dispatched it.

Last summer there was a dead one in the center medium that sat there for five days before the carcass finally got hauled off. I would suspect, at that point, it was rather ripe. Around where I live in central Colorado elk seem more common during the summer, though they can pop up in the wintertime. I'm told bears get run over a lot in this area, though I've never witnessed one.

Cars and wildlife don't mix too well. Back when I lived in Wyoming the problem there was moose. Moose are nearly invisible at night. And they're huge. Result is never good for car or animal.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who this year. The BBC has a series of specials starting tonight, starting with the first doctor and moving on. I started watching the show in the mid 70's. It came in on a fuzzy UHF public television station in San Jose. They ran episodes on Saturday night. Back then the BBC viewed it as strictly a juvenile program and were completely baffled that it had picked up an adult market in the US. It's been a long time since I've seen some of those early episodes. One reason there have been so many doctors is the BBC's reluctance to sign actors to long term contracts. At any rate, I'm looking forward to seeing some of the old episodes with their cheapo sets and total lack of special effects.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Are people really helpless?

Over at Science Fiction Trails I get a query every now and then that makes me wonder. They usually start about a link on some newsletter or website that’s not any good so they are wondering if SFT is a going concern (though the email always seems to work). That is a legitimate issue as so many outfits go belly up all the time. I have no control over these type of listings. The part that makes me wonder is: Why are these people so blasted helpless? If you type in Science Fiction Trails on all of the major search engines our website comes up. If you go to our website our current gridlines, as well as info about the issues we’ve done are right there plain as day. I just don’t know why this never seems to occur to these people. Maybe I’m missing something?

Message to the world: these newsletters and writer sites are riddled with errors and obsolete information. It is good to check with the actual publication. But, it’s not that hard to locate them if they maintain an active website.

Friday, January 25, 2013

More Movie Thoughts

As I mentioned in the last post, the new Lone Ranger trailers look good. But I've been wondering about something. Disney has long been accused of being racially insensitive. Having Johnny Depp play Tonto may cause a stir. In the past, using white guys to play Indians has enraged the Native American community as there are plenty of Native American actors out there.

The part of Tonto itself has always been interesting. In the old TV series Tonto was not portrayed as stupid or helpless. He could hold his own in a fight and certainly did not need the Lone Ranger to hold his hand. This, in an era where most depictions of Indians by Hollywood were racist as hell. And the Tonto character in the new movie looks interesting. Still, it's another white guy playing an Indian. Time will tell, I suppose.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shoot 'em movie thoughts

When I was waiting to see the Django movie they were running the coming attractions trailers. They show this cowboy guy who’s out in the desert and not doing so good. Then he comes across this mysterious Indian. After a few seconds and a cut to another scene, the Indian calls the cowboy “Kemosahbee.” Instantly, I knew this was all about the new Lone Ranger movie. That one word was all I needed for that. The scenes look pretty good, actually. But how many times can a single word conjure up so much? Not often, that’s for sure.

Anyway, I was going to write a review on the Django movie, but I decided not to. I liked it. I just don’t know if it really matters what I think. I love all Quentin Tarantino movies. I actually think this may be his best one–and I really liked Kill Bill. But, people will either like it or not. It’s a true western. It’s set in the south right before the Civil War. And if you like a bunch of gunfights and bad guys and stuff, this film is packed with it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

coverage

There's a site called weirdwestern.com that I have mentioned before. It's great to see what is being published in the genre (and it's free). One interesting item of note is I've found three different books that have the same cover, except for a different color and different title of the book. I've never seen that before. A lot of artists try and get some mileage out of their work, but I've never seen anything so blatant before. You never know what you'll find out there.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Telling Time

One thing that's fun about writing science fiction is you can play around with way out ideas. I read an article on the Internet last week about rifts in time and how it could happen. I don't know enough about theorteical physics to know how plausible it is, but it seemed cool. Over the weekend I crafted a short story about such a notion. It was kind of fun. Now we'll see if I can find an editor who thinks it's fun. Yay!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Crossing the Pond

Yesterday, I rattled on about how baffled I was. Well, I'm still baffled, but about something else. My book The Devil Draws Two combines all three of my Miles O'Malley stories in one place. For a book of its size, it's reasonably priced. It sells a little bit in the UK, but not in the USA. In the USA, it doesn't sell at all. Why the difference? I have no idea.

Overall, there are quite a few weird western books on the market. Most of them aren't nearly as good as The Devil Draws Two. I've read them. I'm not making this up. Which is why I'm baffled. The American audience just won't buy it for some reason.

I guess I shall remain baffled on the matter.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Martians Aren't Coming

I’m often completely baffled by things, so that is not anything all that new. But, now that sales have come in for a while, I find the numbers for Science Fiction Trails confusing. We put out two issues last summer, a regular issue and a special Martian issue. They’re about the same size and same price. The regular issue is outselling the Martian issue by a ratio of five to one. People, it would appear, do not seem to be that in to Martians. It’s even got a few stories that are actually set on Mars. Clever stories. But, if people don’t want to buy it they don’t want to buy it and that’s that.

I rather liked the Martian issue. But, it would seem, would be readers are not that interested in stories about Martians. Martians were once a staple of science fiction. I guess, as science has told us, it’s simply a dead planet. Folks don’t sit and ponder what might be going on over there.



Saturday, January 19, 2013

hoopla

I keep wondering why re-elected presidents need an inaugural. The first time kind of makes sense, though I sort of question that as well. But, once they’re already there, I just don’t see the need for it all. I don’t even understand the need for the swearing in ceremony. He’s already taken the oath of office, ergo it seems irrelevant to do it again. But, especially the parades and stuff. Wouldn’t we be better off without it all?

This goes back to the founding fathers. What was good enough for George Washington presumably is good enough for President Obama. I just don’t see the point of what amounts to a coronation for someone who is already on the job. Even austerity minded presidents have insisted on the second inaugural, so I guess I’m just some cranky dude who doesn’t get it.

And, I gather the thing is paid for with private donations, so I guess they can have a party if they want one. If it were up to me, and it's not, I just wouldn't bother. Not that anyone was asking what I think.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Getting Paid

I had a discussion with a novice writer the other day about the merits of publishing with a small press. My conclusiuon, don't do it. I'm talking specifically about royalty based payments and more about books than short stories. I've been ripped off more often than I've been paid. My first novel, The Two Devils, had sales, though I'll never know how many as I never once saw an earnings report. And I was never paid a dime. The reality is that an out of state publisher is out of reach if they breach a contract. The costs of trying to enforce a contract are more likely to exceed what one would collect. So, more than likely, you're writing for free. I no longer believe small press publishers can be trusted and, unless you're just happy to get published, there's no point in getting published at this level. I am convinced you are far more likely to get ripped off than get paid. Most contracts are not worth the paper they are written on.

There's a publisher in Denver that has an enormous trail of broken contracts, yet people still line up to get published there. I've offered to serve that publisher for free if anyone would sue them. So far, there have never been any takers.

Short stories are a more complicated matter. There are so many different types of projects that it's harder to make a generalization. I've mostly been paid for short fiction, though there have been rip offs there as well.

More on this to come...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dead Batteries

After days and days of below zero temps, today was less horribly cold. I'm told the tow trucks were busy with dead batteries. Mine worked okay. Frankly, I've always had more battery problems in the summer than the winter.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Looking for Bigfoot

It occurred to me that I got so wrapped up with watching Downton Abbey last Sunday that I completely forgot to watch Finding Bigfoot. It would be my luck that they actually found one. It's about four people who wander around in the woods making howls and knocking sticks together in the hopes of finding a Bigfoot. Thing is, they never seem to actually find one. So, the viewer simply watches people wander around in the woods and sometimes interview witnesses who claim to have seen one, but never can produce any proof.

Back a few years ago, I used to call people and conduct phone surveys. These were my own surveys, about things I wanted to know. They were not for some company. One of the surveys was asking people if they believed in Bigfoot. Only a very small percentage did. The same survey found way more people believe in UFOs. It seemed Bigfoot needed to hire a better publicist.

I've never seen a Bigfoot. I've never seen a flying saucer, either. But, back to Bigfoot, it amazes me that this team, equipped with night vision and thermal cameras can't come up with anything. Yet, watch the show do I.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Looking back at 2012 at Science Fiction Trails, where I am publisher, we put out two issues of our magazine instead of the usual one copy. We also published two western horror anthologies, Low Noon and Gunslingers & Ghost Stories.

A few thoughts on the baffling world of selling books. We have never sold a single book in Canada. Not one. Here in the USA, Indie bookstores, even those specializing in horror, will not carry “Weird westerns.” They just cannot seem to deal with it. Part of the overall problem: too many books chasing too few readers.

Overall, the quality of story submissions to SF Trails is extremely poor, the worst I have ever seen. There are still good stories out there, but they seem to be an ever smaller piece of the pie. Half of the stories that come in do not even have any science fiction in them at all. Then there are the ones that are so poorly written that it’s depressing to read them. I realize we all have our green period of learning the ropes, but I am regularly getting stuff where I can’t even figure what the plot is, if there is one. Couple that with generic characters that seldom even have a name and the process often leaves me wanting to hold a cross up to my computer since it seems these wretched submissions must be coming from hell itself. I cannot stress this enough. The crop of stories last year was the worst I have ever seen in over 20 years of editing. There are people spewing stories out who have no idea what they are doing.

So, what happens now? Plans can change, but I only plan to put out the annual issue of Science Fiction Trails this year. I no longer plan to do any anthologies or special issues. That’s not because of poor story quality, but because the books take up a lot of time and simply do not sell well enough to bother with. Couple this with the fact that the contracts for Six Guns Straight From Hell expire at mid year and that will mean our best selling product will go out of print. So, we’ll be a smaller presence. That’s not all bad. It will allow me to focus more on our flagship product, the magazine.

Brrr

Brr. It's been extremely cold in the mountains of Colorado. Well below zero just about every night. I don't think I'm going to like the electric bill. When you look at the temperature in Fairbanks and it's warmer than where you live, that just seems wrong somehow. But, as my pappy always said, "The only thing you can do about the weather is cuss."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Super Chicken

I got the DVD of George of the Jungle from the library. I didn't want George. I wanted to re watch Super Chicken. Super Chicken episodes ran on the George of the Jungle Show. I just think Super Chicken is awesome. I had not seen them in years. But I still loved watching Super Chicken and Fred save the world. And they even have great lines like, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred."

The only thing was it was not well set up. You have to watch every blasted episode of George of the Jungle and Tom Slick (a racing version of Dudley Doright)to get your Super Chicken. That was almost too much.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Playing Games

Some years ago I worked at a resort in Wyoming. This was one of those deals where people lived on premises as it was so remote. Well, there wasn’t a lot to do after work. One of my favorite pastimes was playing chess. I often played with one of the cooks, as we were of similar skill.

Well, my usual opponent was working and this newbie challenged me to a game after announcing that he’d been on the high school chess team. “This won’t take long,” he boasted to a friend.

It would seem that his high school team sure wasn’t very good, if he was their best example. He started to break out in a sweat after just a few moves as I easily blocked his attack. Then he lost his queen. Then, a few moves later, I said “checkmate.” Well, this guy got up and stormed off without saying a word. And he never played me again. What a pathetic loser.

I don’t play chess much anymore. I never had many opponents and it kind of fell off the radar. Still, at this place I was eating lunch at, they were doing a photo shoot and they had a chess set they wanted to put in the picture. Problem was, none of the photo people knew how to set up a chess set. I offered and quickly assembled the pieces. Had I not been there, I don’t know what they would have done.

Which brings me to my point. This year was the first year I did not donate any chess sets for the local Christmas toy drive. I used to donate them because I think chess is a wonderful game and, for older kids, it seemed like a good gift. Then, it occurred to me that so few people play it, these kids will likely not have anyone to teach them, let alone play with them. So, I don’t give out chess sets anymore. Another casualty of video games, me thinks. And, I know there are really good chess programs. I have one, in fact. But, there is nothing like watching that arrogant ass across the table have sweat run down his face as he realizes his arrogant ass is about to get beaten. You don’t get that from a computer.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Telebision

I had some ideas for new TV shows.

The Frito Bandito Hour. I just love the Frito Bandito. Don't know why they took him off the air.

Throwing People Out of Airplanes. They take unspecting people on scenic flights, then they grab them, slap a parachute on them and throw them out of the plane.

Bus Driver. This would be a reality show. They film a bus driver and you follow him on his entire shift for like eight hours, unedited. It could fill up the whole night.

Of course my best idea was The Dave Riley Show. I wrote that one up in a book. No one ever buys it. It's really funny, but absolutely nobody will buy it. I have a TV show with my sidekick, Ed. We have guests come on, like the host of Commercialvision, which is an all commercial show that comes on after my show. It's just awesome. I really don't know why none of the networks ever called. Really. I don't. And really, it is in a book. No one believes me when I tell them that. You can buy it right now. Really.

One last thought: There's this zero dark 30 movie coming out. Well, in the alternate scenes when it comes out on disk, they could have the helo land in the front yard and knock on the door. Some lady, one of the wives, comes to the door. "Hi, is Osama here?" one of the seals asks. "Who is calling?" "We're from The US Navy." "Osama!"
Osama comes to the door. "How you go?" "Hi, we're with the US Navy. Are you Osama Bin Lauden?" "Yes, I am. Thank you very much." Blam! "Have a nice day." Then they fly away. Manners are so important.





Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Spanish lessons

Here are some more free Spanish lessons right here.




The leftover meatloaf was taken by immigration.
El pastel de carne sobrante fue tomada por el pueblo immigracion.

Of course my husband is in the trash dumpster. Where else would I put him?
Por supuesto, mi marido está en el contenedor de basura. ¿Dónde más puedo ponerlo?

My kids do not go to school. Little green men from space instruct them.
Mis hijos no van a la escuela. Pequeños hombres verdes del espacio les intruct

Where do you keep the poison? It is for my wife.
¿Dónde guarda el veneno? Es para mi esposa.

I do not know where the zombies have gone. Why do you ask?
Yo no sé de dónde los zombis se han ido. ¿Por qué lo preguntas?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Box of doughnuts

Strangest thing, yesterday. There was a box of doughnuts on the roof of my car. They were the kind from the store--prepackaged. It appeared unopened. I don't know if they were for me by some secret admirer or fell to earth from space. They were just there. I threw them in the trash dumpster. It's a shame, but you just don't know if some nutjob laced them with anthrax or something. While, I was pretty sure the doughnuts were okay, I was not 100 % sure.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Global Commerce

Last week a review opportunity presented itself for the new anthology. The problem was the reviewer was in England. Thing is, international postage rates are getting astronomical. Long gone are the small packet and printed matter rates. The most affordable thing now is First Class International. Even with this category, which faces a steep increase at the end of the month, it costs more to mail a book across the pond than the book itself costs. The solution is that I can buy a copy from Amazon UK and have it delivered to the reviewer far cheaper than mailing it from the US. That hasn't always been the case, but that's global commerce.

In general, I'm finding that more and more reviewers are getting swamped with ebooks, as they're super cheap to send out. I'm also finding that reviewers are much more receptive to the print variety. The world of publishing seems to be in a state of upheaval. I don't know how it will all turn out. But I do strongly believe that people will not buy a book if they do not know about it, which is why I try so hard to get them reviewed. Not all reviews turn out as one hopes. The last one for Low Noon attacked me because there were adverbs in some of the stories. But, at least a few more people out there found out about the book.

Of course, I'll have less to promote, as I do not plant to publish any anthologies this year. Issue 10 of Science Fiction Trails is the only planned project, currently.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Review

We got our first review of Gunslingers & Ghost Stories. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue to post reviews. It doesn't really seem to make any difference as far as sales go. But, until I make up my mind, behold:

Gunslingers & Ghost Stories edited by David B. Riley, SF Trails, 2012, $12.95, ISBN 978-0615724840

For some reason the Old West has always struck me as a good setting for supernatural stories, even though in general I don’t care for historical horror. This all original collection bears out my contention, eleven stories of various things that go bump in the saloon or on the range or at the ranch. Most of the contributors were new to me but there are good stories by John Howard, Laura Givens, and a few others, and the rest are all various degrees of readable without any clunkers. Ghost stories are not generally popular in the US for some reason, so this is likely to be doubly out of the ordinary for most readers. 1/3/13
Don D'Ammassa, Critical Mass


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pix

The nice folks over at Anomaly Con 3, which takes place in late March, have put up my photo on their website (which I provided). I really need to get a new photo. Anyway, they've invited me to be a participant and I'm sure it'll be great. The problem with it, from my perspective, is all the people have these fancy steampunk duds on and then there's me with a t shirt and sunglasses.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Ethics?

I wrote about plagiarism the other day on both my blog and the HWA Forum. The practice appears to be alive and well. I received two plagiarized stories from two writers on the same day. The tougher question is why. Why would somebody take someone else’s story and try and peddle it as his own? In the case of Science Fiction Trails, this is a small press operation and it’s certainly not for the money.

And this isn’t my first time down this path. Ten years ago I was editing an anthology and received an O. Henry short story that some guy was claiming as his own original work. This is fraud, and he presumably would’ve signed a contract stating the story was his own original work. But there’s something else that I can’t quite figure out. Some people seem desperate to get published. But, is selling somebody else’s story as your own really getting published? So why do it? Some cynical need to prove even major authors can’t get published? There is no empirically good or bad story. It’s either right for a project or it is not. I don’t have the answer for this. It also makes me wonder if there are any out there that have slipped through that I didn’t catch.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Projectile vomiting

New Years Day I came down with some really bad food poisoning. I haven't been this sick in years. Not even sure what I ate that caused it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A sad state of affairs

Well, over at Science Fiction Trails, we've started the year heading down at bumpy road. I've gotten two stories. Both of them are totally plagiarized from stories I've read before. I'm seeing more and more of this. It used to be quite rare. These are previously published stories, written by other authors, that simply being peddled as new stories by authors who apparently lack the talent to come up with a story of their own. We are not amused.