Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bust

I'm starting to wonder why I go to non convention book signings.  We had one in Colorado Springs yesterday.  No one came. Although it was nice to catch up with who was doing what and ideas for future projects, no one came by at all to buy a book or meet any of the authors, which was sort of the point.  So, it wasn't all bad, but still a bit of a disappointment.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Signing

I'll be at Written World Book in Colorado Springs this afternoon at 2 PM along with local authors Dana Bell, Laura Givens, Darla Upchurch and J A Campbell.  If you're in the area stop by.  This is a free event.

Friday, June 28, 2013

muzik

Two thing today. One, I sometimes spell things the way I think they should be spelled as opposed to the accepted spelling. We have letters like k and x and a few more that hardly ever get any work. They're perfectly good letters and I use them sometimes so they don't feel neglected.  Hence, my spelling in the title of today's posting. It is not a mistake.

That said, on various web forums, blogs, etc the topic of listening to music (okay I'll spell it the standard way) comes up.  I listen to classical music.  There's a piece by Mendelssohn on at the moment.  That's also what I listen to in my kar.  In fact, a lot of times people don't want to ride with me because they're worried I'll turn on something classical.  And they have good reason to fear. I listen to it all the time. For me it's relaxing.  I can't imagine doing something like writing without it. Yet, a lot of writers state they don't like to listen to music when they write as it's a distraction.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Theater of the Obscure

Way back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I took a theatre class in college.  I remember the professor liked to use the term "Theater of the Obscure" when talking about all of the asinine ideas people suggested for plays and, to some extent, the mindless crap that actually gets produced. 

As I mentioned yesterday, I was given a writing challenge that involved a very mundane segment of someone's life.  It's an interesting approach.  I could almost see more of these--an anthology of the obscure. Interesting in that they challenged the writer in ways not usually expected.  Even though I was writing about someone who became a major historical figure, I couldn't even get good info on what she looked like. Sure, there are pictures of Calamity Jane, but not so much from her younger days.  This was a world that didn't have cameras on every phone, light post and computer.  So, I had to take an educated guess.  The point is, my entire approach to writing a story where there is a real or known figure was turned upside down on its head.  I've really enjoyed getting shaken out of my shell just a bit.  I don't know what will become of the story. I'll announce here if it gets published or posted somewhere.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Great Challenge

Out of the blue cometh a writing challenge from Laura Givens that was both intriguing and unexpected. I was challenged to write a short story on a topic of her choosing, with the assurance that it would be some mundane and unimportant event in history. In turn, I could select some obscure aspect in history which she would have to write a story. Okay, I accepted.

Then came the actual challenge. I was to write about Martha Jane Canary (Calamity Jane), a significant figure in the Old West. But, the assignment was strictly limited to her time in Piedmont, Wyoming when she washed dishes for a living.

I considered this problematic. Calamity Jane has been very inconsistent in her accounts of her early life. She falsely claimed to have married Wild Bill Hickcock and has made other occupational claims that cannot be verified. Even how many children she had is inconsistent. Finding much detail about her early days is tough. But, the assignment was for a fictional story, so I gathered what I could from the library for basic background, then began my story.

At some point, I expect to have that story posted on this blog or a link to it somewhere else. Likewise, I hope to have Laura’s story linked as well.

Laura also got to write about an unimportant aspect of a major historical figure. Alferd Packer, Colorado’s most popular cannibal, sat in prison from 1874 to 1901 for manslaughter charges stemming from an expedition of miners where he was accused of killing and eating some of them. He was paroled in 1901. He actually got a job as a night watchman at the Denver Post. It was his time at the Post that Laura was assigned to base her story on.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Taking me places

One writer I always enjoyed was Jules Verne.  And, I've always felt 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to be an extraordinary work.(It's never been out of print, so others must agree)  Here we have a nuclear submarine envisioned during the civil war when metal ships were just in their infancy.  I paid homage to Verne in The Devil Draws Two, where a submarine makes its debut. 
 
My appreciation of this story goes way back to my first record player--that's a machine that played recorded music and stories off of vinyl disks.  One of the first records I got was 20000 Leagues. It was just awesome.  I read the actual book when I got a little bit older.  I remember I used it for a book report and the teacher (and I can no longer remember which grade I was in) took exception to it and didn't think it was worthy of my time.
 
No other story has ever ignited my imagination or inspired me more than that one did.  Teacher was wrong, seriously wrong. Sure,  From the Earth to the Moon and Journey to the Center of the Earth are a little far fetched, but they're works of imagination.  Regardless of teacher's thoughts, I went on and read Around the World in 80 Days and just about all of Verne's books. 
 
So, I was in the library yesterday and there was 20000 Leagues on the shelf of the juvenile section. (at our library the juvenile section is in a separate room, but there's also a shelf of juvenile offerings extending out into the main library.)  I had never, until that moment, thought of that book as juvenile. I guess it may be.  I went over to the catalog computer and Verne's other works were listed as regular fiction, but not that one.  Okay, I read it as a juvenile.  I strongly believe kids should read it. So, okay. I can live with that. 
 
But, what I was really bothered by, and this book was prominently displayed, a young girl picked it up and was interested in it as I was looking it up. I commented "That's a really good book," then resumed my wild goose chase which was why I was actually there. (More on that in a few days). Her mother put it back and told her "That's more of a boy's book." 
 
That bothered me.  There's is nothing in that book that will turn her princess into a truck driver. It's a great book.  I was appalled at what I just witnessed. Parents should take an interest in what their kids read, but not stifle them because a boy might like it more. I mean, I'm looking at this from a boy's POV, but I really don't see the problem with 20000 Leagues. Maybe it's me.
 
Kids are censored to one degree or another all the time.  Last summer I participated at an author event at the Denver County Fair. A boy about the age of the girl at the library kept looking at Science Fiction Trails 8, one of the items I had on my table. That issue has a very bold colorful cover.  The kid came back and looked at it five times.  His dad reminded him he'd already spent his money for the day.  Since the young man was over budget, I wanted to give him a copy. I did not, however, because one of the stories is not really appropriate for someone of his age, I felt (I'd give it a PG 13).  So, it's not always easy to guide kid's reading and I admire librarians. But, I was concerned about  sexual content where the child might not be ready for it (even though tv sitcoms are far worse than anything in SFT 8). The girl's mother was concerned it was more for boys. She knows her daughter and may be right. Still, it didn't set well with me.

Maybe I'm missing something.  My teacher was not amused.  This child's mother?
 
 

Two Bit Lawman

Over at Science Fiction Trails, I just got my Wyatt Earp Time Travel story. I get one or two a month. They’re all about someone going back in time to Tombstone and participating in some way in the famous shootout. They're always about Wyatt Earp. Why there is so much fascination with a two bit part time lawman eludes me. I’m sure that come next month, I’ll get another one.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Family Planning, A Short Play

Cast

HAL: A single father

KEVIN: A teenage son

[We are at the family home. HAL is trying to read the afternoon paper. KEVIN has a tablet computer set up on a nearby table]

 

KEVIN: Dad, where are going this year?

HAL: Going? Could you be more specific?

KEVIN: Vacation? Where are we going on vacation? Larry’s folks are taking him to Europe.

HAL: And you want to go to Europe, I take it?

KEVIN: Heck no. They’ve got a new water park in Iowa. It has a mile long slide.

HAL: Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. After years of unsuccessful family outings, I think we should simply stay home. It'll be better this way.

KEVIN: No! They’ve got a new roller coaster in Texas.

HAL: Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. What you are proposing is simply incompatible with the objectives of this family. I simply want to relax on tropical beaches where I can be served colorful beverages by scantily clad women in grass skirts. You, on the other hand, are solely interested in the latest thrill ride. And your sister, well she basically just wants to go someplace where she can run around naked. I submit that these concepts are incompatible.

KEVIN: I’ll find us a place.

HAL: Have at it, bucko. Though I remain skeptical.

KEVIN: [Fiddles around with the tablet computer for about a minute] Dad, I’ve got it. I found us a place. Give me your credit card and I’ll book it.

HAL: Not so fast young buckaroo. Where is this utopia you’ve found for us?

KEVIN: It’s called Coaster World. It looks awesome.

HAL: [Turns page of his newspaper.] What wonderful news.

KEVIN: Can I have your credit card then?

HAL: I think it’s in my other wallet.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cave Man Cop

For about the last 10 years, off and on, I've tried to write a mystery about a cave man named Og.  Og's a hard working hunter gatherer who tries to provide for his family and worries a lot about the way second wife looks at Thag, who lives in the next valley over.  I've tried various approaches.  Nothing really works.  I even tried having him take on space aliens.  I was going to put him in last year's all Martian special,  but the story just turned out to be crap.  Og just remains a bust.  I don't know what to do with him. Cave men just are not really that interesting.  At least not any that I can come up with. That's the way writing is.  Some stories work and some don't.  And there are simply times you have to cut your losses and move on.  I think I've finally given up on Og.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Readin and Writin

I was thinking how really nice it would be if a million readers would march into their favorite bookstore and order a copy of the new Science Fiction Trails. That would just be wonderful. Alas, that ain't gonna happen.
 
One thing that bugs me when I read reviews, both professional and amateur, is when the reviewer trashes the book or magazine or movie, but provides no examples to support the assertion.  Case in point, there is a new anthology out that I wanted the local library to get. I mainly wanted it because a lot of the stories are written by people I know and I'm too cheap to buy it myself.  Well, the library is not very enthusiastic.  Their reasoning is there aren't any reviews out about it in any of the review places like Publishers Weekly, etc.  And, the reviews on Amazon are negative.
 
The reviews on Amazon are often written by simpletons.  Most of the time they're overly positive and written by friends of the author. The opposite, where an enemy of the author bashes a book relentlessly also happens.  My friend Dan had four reviews pulled by Amazon without explanation at all.  So, Amazon reader reviews are pretty much garbage. Most folks know that, but not my librarian.  Concerning the anthology I inquired about, there are two reader reviews, actually. One is positive, but no examples are given. The other very negative, saying the book is no good, but providing no examples for why this is so. Hence, my assertion the reviews are crap. I'm not saying the name of the book. If I break down and buy it I may review it at some point and my review will have examples for why I like or don't like it.  I don't review stuff often, but I know how and can do it when I want to. I'm reviewing the process, not the specific book today.
 
So, what's a prospective reader to do?  I do not know.  I've sometimes wanted to offer reviews at my magazine, Science Fiction Trails, but there are so few western sci fi books that it's hopeless. It probably doesn't matter anyway. My science fiction short story collection Flying Saucer Stories got some awesome reviews and no one ever buys it. 
 
 
 
 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Solar Fun

Some (many) years ago I worked a summer as a park ranger for a local park district in California.  One of the strangest calls I got was from a teenage girl at one of the swimming pools. Apparently, she fell asleep whilst working on her suntan. Her soon to be ex boyfriend put a stencil over her forehead whilst she dozed.  The stencil had cut out the word F_ _ _ . Yep, the f word if you can fill in the blanks.  As she got tanner, the f word got darker and the surrounding skin on her forehead remained light. She woke up and couldn't figure out why some piece of paper was on her head and tossed it aside.  She proceeded to run around the pool and swim a bit, then went to the ladies room whereupon she looked in the mirror and noticed a word was broiled into her forehead.  
 
I struggled terribly to keep from laughing.  I actually though I might have witnessed the best practical joke in the history of mankind.  I dutifully wrote up a report of what happened and told the young lady that I did not believe any crime had been committed, but we would have a report on file.   And, as I drove away, the girl was trying to do some sort of comb over that clearly was not going to work.  "Sure, some makeup will cover that right up," I had assured her. No way in hell. Ah, those were the days.
 
As people were sunning themselves in the pool where I live a few days ago, I couldn't help but wax nostalgic at that incident at the public pool way back then. How do you top that?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Steaming Ahead


In case you haven't heard, I'm going to start publishing a second magazine in October. Steampunk Trails will have some similarity to it's sister magazine, Science Fiction Trails, though it's heading off on its own direction.  One big difference is that it has a different editor.  Instead of the cynical curmudgeon who edits Science Fiction Trails, the new magazine has a much better editor who I think will bring in a younger and more diverse crowd.
 
The response has varied from "yay" to "are you nuts?"  It's not a good time to be publishing magazines.  It's not really a good time to be publishing anything.  The whole industry is in turmoil.  That said, we've plodded along with SFT for ten issues and have literally created a market for western sci fi where none existed. The weird western market took a sharp turn about a decade ago and went heavily into ultra dark fiction. The sci fi weird western all but disappeared. In spite of this, we've carved out a niche and the magazine is actually selling better than ever.
 
Now, with steampunk, there's a whole lot more interest.  But, you have be careful with that enthusiasm as it can turn against you. Steampunk fans are very demanding.  And that's why J A Campbell is editing the stories and not me.  She knows steampunk when she sees it.  So, this summer we'll be putting together the inaugural issue and see what people think of it.  The magazine has its own blog where people can check our progress and offer suggestions of what they'd like to see. Check it out sometime. And drop a comment if you have any thoughts.  http://steampunktrails.blogspot.com/ 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Showz

There are some new science fiction based shows that I thought I'd comment on.

Defiance. I think it's just awful.  They're supposed to have all these different aliens, but they all look human--just different colors of makeup. They should have eel people. Add a mediocre story and you've got something about as exciting as watching moss grow.

The Dome. It hasn't started yet, but I hate it anyway.  The Simpsons already did this.  There was already a dome placed over Springfield.  If the best you can do is rip off The Simpsons, just pack it in. I think this is really going to blow.
 
Primeval. The British version got really bizarre.  I don't know what this new one is going to do.  One thing I liked about the British one was the subtle time change differences and pets and people changed slightly. So far they just coax the creatures back to their own time.  I don't like it very much. They're going to have to start trying to stop the anomalies.

 
 
 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ghost Stories

One thing that amazes me is the few reviews we've had for Gunslingers & Ghost Stories always seem to start out with "I don't really like ghost stories."  Then they go on to say if you have to read ghost stores, this isn't a bad collection.  This seems to be particularly true in the USA.  Hardly anyone has reviewed it even though a record number of review copies went out.  "Ghost stories, I'm not reading that. Yuk." It kind of reminds me of the kid who won't eat his spinach. 

Ghost stories are good for you.  People should have to read ghost stories. Americans all want vampires and werewolves. They make you read A Christmas Carol in school, or watch the play. Then that's it. No more ghosts for you. Yet, at the same time, there are at least a half dozen paranormal shows on TV about ghost hunting. Go figure. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Time Gods

It always seems that there's never enough time for stuff. You plan to catch up on home repairs and suddenly the whole weekend is gone and you haven't got crap completed.  I used to wonder if I had so little time because I kept getting abducted by aliens and so I was missing time. Well, I don't think the aliens want me.  Still, there are days when I get nothing done.  And yesterday was one of them.
 
 
And this lead me to today's pondry.  Is there a god of time in ancient history or classical societies?  I sure can't think of one.  None comes to mind from the Greeks.  I have studied Mayan gods and even used one in multiple fiction tales, but I don't recall seeing one there.  Did ancient folks not place much priority on time? The Romans had sun dials that were fairly accurate, though I suspect sun dials were a subsidiary of Apollo [I know Apollo was Greek but I can't recall Roman equivalent and am too lazy to look it up]. So, who was this god of time?  I think I just got myself a new story idea. If I only I could find time to write it. And I think I invented a new word--pondry.

Addendum: I've been informed the Greeks did have a time god--Chronos.  Who knew?
 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Guest Blogger J. A. Campbell and the "Brown and the End of the Line" Blog Tour

This is the fifth installment of the J A Campbell Blog Tour.
 
Brown and the End of the Line
By J. A. Campbell
Part Five
Kansas, 1900 
 

I barked at the bright white thing hovering in the middle of the room. It turned to look at me, but didn’t spin like the wind-devil shaped ghosts from the Saloon. Instead it seemed more like a bed sheet flapping on a clothesline, but it had eyes and a slit-like mouth that slowly opened, voicing that same eerie howl. My hackles rose and my teeth ached at the sound, but I forced myself to meet the ghost’s eyes and stare. Its howl cut off abruptly and the flapping motion quieted. The ghost struggled but I’d done this before and I was confident that I could control the ghost and push it back toward Elliott. I crept into the room, dodging obstacles I didn’t even bother to identify, all my concentration on the ghost. It turned as I did, eyes locked to mine as I maneuvered so that I could push it out the door and into the dining car. Once I was lined up with the door I pushed the ghost, creeping forward. It struggled harder, perhaps reacting to my moving it, but it couldn’t get away as I pushed it like I moved a flock of sheep into a holding pen. The dining area was a mess but I managed to navigate around the fallen chairs. The nice, juicy steak lying on the ground didn’t even tempt me, though a little drool leaked from my jaws when the scent overpowered the ghost smell for a moment. People screamed but I ignored them, pushing the ghost into the hallway and toward the room I shared with Elliott.

Shouting distracted me, and I felt the ghost slip. A ripple went through it and I tightened my focus, concentrating as hard as I could until it quieted again. I pushed until I reached our door, but I wasn’t sure how to get around the corner. There was no room for me to get behind the ghost.

"See! There!"

Elliott’s shout distracted me and the ghost howled as it tried to escape.

"Holy Jesus!" I heard the sheriff exclaim.

The priest began to pray.

The ghost dove at me and I wished I had my special boots on. They protected my feet from sharp things and had extra protection against ghosts. Elliott hadn’t had time to put them on yet. Dodging, I yelped when the ghost passed through me. It was cold and my fur got slimed but I wasn’t dead so I spun and launched myself at the ghost, snarling.

It seemed startled, eyes going a little wider and I plowed through it, shoving it backward a little and toward the room.

A couple of shots rang out, deafening me and I barked in alarm. I thought I heard Elliott shouting something over the ringing in my ears but I wasn’t sure. The ghost turned and flew into our room. Chasing after, I skidded to a halt just short of the ghost trap drawing. I didn’t want to smudge it. The ghost howled, flapping around inside the trap and the priest and the sheriff, both covered in slime, stared, mouths agape.

"I have to banish it," Elliott said.

The priest seemed to jerk before he tore his attention from the ghost and looked at Elliott. "You can banish that demon?"

"Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I hunt ghosts."

Wincing when the ghost howled again, I looked for Elliott’s book. He’d need it and I remembered him dropping it.

"Very well, get on with it then."

I found his book near the priest and pushed it with my nose.

"Good girl, Brown. Good girl." Elliott picked up the book and flipped through it.

I sat and stared at the ghost, daring it to try and escape, while Elliott found the right page.

"Mother of God," a new voice said.

"Hal, we caught the ghost," Elliott said to the conductor. "I’m going to banish him now."

"Pleased to hear it, Mr. Gyles." He sounded a little out of breath, like he’d run a long way.

Elliott nodded and began reading from his book. The ghost howled. The humans covered their ears, except Elliott. Whining in pain, I crouched down but continued to watch, just in case. Elliott reached the end and shouted the last words over the ghost’s scream. He picked up the salt and tossed it at the ghost. I thought my teeth were going to rattle out of my mouth at the noise and I had to shut my eyes as the ghost light grew too bright. Suddenly, I heard a loud pop and ghost slime splattered me. The howl stopped and I opened my eyes.

The humans all stared at the empty ghost trap, covered in dripping slime and looking a little shocked. I went over to Elliott and pushed against his leg. He rubbed my ears.

"Good dog."

Thumping my tail on the ground, I grinned up at him.

"Well…." The priest shook his head, glanced at the sheriff and then they both walked out.

"Salt water gets the slime off," Elliott called after them.

Hal laughed. "Guess you showed them. They give you any problems?"

Elliott nodded. "Tried to arrest me."

The conductor shook his head. "This is a mess. Let me get you a new room. Salt water you say?"

"Yes."

Suddenly I remembered the steak I’d passed in the dining car. Woofing happily I ran back out into the hallway and toward the dining hall. Once food made it to the floor, it was mine. I didn’t even think it had slime on it.

"Brown!"

Elliott chased after but he didn’t call me back.

To my dismay the annoying, flower scented, lady was in the dining area when I arrived, and she’d picked up my steak! I huffed in annoyance and she gasped when she saw me. We stared at each other, her eyes wide, mine narrowed. That was my steak.

"Whatever is all over you?" At least she wasn’t screaming.

"Ghost slime," Elliott said coming up behind me.

"Ghost slime?"

"Yes, we banished the ghost that’s been plaguing the train." Elliott sounded wary.

"I see."

"You don’t sound surprised."

She actually smiled. "My father is heavily involved in the trains. I was hoping my psychic abilities would assist in ridding the train of the ghost."

Elliott frowned.

"Obviously your dog was more prepared. I nearly slept through the whole thing, though getting thrown to the floor when the train stopped did wake me. Why is she staring at me like that?"

"Brown?"

I looked at the steak on the plate and licked drool from my lips.

"I think she’s decided that’s her steak."

"You’re certain she doesn’t have fleas?"

"Yes."

The lady set the plate on the ground and backed away. I darted forward and grabbed the steak before she could change her mind and took it back to Elliott’s side. There was no slime on the floor except where it dripped from us so I set my steak down and tore into it, wagging my tail happily. Maybe I’d forgive her for thinking I had fleas.

Hal laughed when he joined us and said something to the lady, but I was concentrating fully on my steak. If I got paid with steak every time I hunted a ghost, I hoped we found many more.

"So, Mr. Gyles. How do you feel about steamboats?"

"Never been on one."

"I’ve got a friend in St. Louis who has a ghost problem. I think you and Brown could help them."

If they had a ghost problem, I was the dog for the job. Especially if they had steak.

The End

Be sure to check out Anne Michaud - http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com/ for Brown’s interview, where you’ll find out such things as her favorite treats, and how she started hunting ghosts.


The Schedule:
Intro - June 11th – J. A. Campbell - https://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/blog/
Part 1- June 12th – Sam Knight - http://samknight.com/
Part 2 - June 13th – Bea’s Book Nook - http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/
Part 3 - June 14th – Amaleen Ison - http://www.amaleenison.com/
Part 4 - June 15th – Jen Wylie - http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/
Part 5 - June 16th – David Riley - http://sftrails.blogspot.com/
Interview with Brown - June 17th – Anne Michaud - http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com/

The Contest:
Follow the link to enter a contest to win a copy of Science Fiction Trails 10 in which Brown battles Martians. US only. I’ll send the winner a signed copy, the rest of the world, you have to take an unsigned copy, sorry. You gotta be willing to give me your address though J Alternately the winner can chose a Kindle copy. Contest runs from June 11th through June 30th. I’ll pick three winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway








Bios:

Brown – Brown is a Border Collie who hunts ghosts, and other things as it turns out, with her human, Elliott Gyles. You can find out more about her adventures here: https://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/eye-of-the-dog/

Julie - Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. Read more about her other stories here: www.writerjacampbell.com


Excerpt from Brown and the Sand Dragon in the Different Dragons Anthology:

Nata tugged on Elliott’s shoulder and we crept away from the demon. I hated turning my back on it, and I couldn’t keep my hackles down until we were back at the horses.

"Is it safe to talk?" Elliott asked quietly.

Nata nodded.

"That’s not a demon, or a ghost! It’s the bastard child of a lizard and a firefly. What the hell!"

"Shhh. I said it was okay to talk. Not to shout."

"Sorry. Quite right." Elliott took off his hat and scratched his head. "Let’s get back to the ranch before it gets dark."


Saturday, June 15, 2013

There's a site I've mentioned before that I'm still recommending. It's weirdwestern.com . It's a free site that profiles various weird western books that are available.  I'm amazed at the quantity and diversity of stories and books being published in "the greatest genre nobody ever heard of." They have basic info including price and order information. 
 
One of the things I like about a site like this one is that it offers the opportunity to look at the covers. They range from simple one color drawings to some truly amazing art.  I wish I had the time, funds and energy to buy all of the stuff that's displayed. 
 
 
 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Riding Off into the Sunset

Six Guns Straight From Hell is a western horror anthology I co-edited with Laura Givens.  It's been fairly popular and has sold better than subsequent books have.  Alas, the contracts with the contributing authors are expiring and it will be retired at the end of this month.  I'll kind of miss it.
 
 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Epilogue

[The Dave Riley Show has been canceled.  Dave, Ed and Karl the dinosaur are waiting around for their final checks.]

Ed: Did you guys watch that new show, Primeval?  I hope it doesn't get as weird as the British version.

Karl: I just hope they cancel it.  They make all the dinosaurs out to be bad guys.  And stupid. Why are all the dinosaurs stupid?

Dave: You just had to get him going.

Karl: And Utah raptors weren't nearly as big as the one on the show.  I know. I've seen them. How come they wouldn't hire me as technical advisor?

Dave: You just had to get him going.

Karl:  Who knows more about dinosaurs than me? Nobody. I lived in the cretaceous period. Who else can say that?  And I've got TV experience.

Ed: I wouldn't go around reminding people you were on this show.  "Worst show on Television," that guy who writes that column said. "Even worse than the show where they ride around in a bus all night."

Karl: How come we didn't ride around in a bus all night?  It would've been better than interviewing all those idiot guests. 

Ed: Well, the guy with the aluminum foil wasn't a bad guest.

Dave: We had our moments.  Heck, we got the mayor to admit he's a crook.

Ed: Everyone knows he's a crook.

Dave: But we got him to admit it.

Karl: I didn't like that guy. Should've ate him.

Ed: Wonder what dumb dinosaur they'll have on Primeval this week?

Karl: If you want dumb, they should get Neanderthals. They didn't have sense enough to come in out of the rain.  Heck, if it hadn't been for that asteroid killing my people, you people wouldn't exist.

Dave: Hey our checks are ready.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dave Riley Show, Final Episode

[Dave, Ed and Karl the dinosaur are sitting around the studio. The Dave Riley Show has just been cancelled].

Ed: Where does Superman change into his suit?  There aren't any phone booths anymore.

Dave: My guess is men's rooms. 

Karl: Maybe he just wears it all the time.

Ed: Nah, he can't. He works at the Daily Planet and has to wear a suit.

Karl: What happens to his Clark Kent outfit? He puts on the cape and flies out of the phone booth. What happens to the suit he was wearing? Does he just leave it for some vagrant? Besides, all the papers are laying people off.  How does he get to keep his reporting job and be Superman when other people are getting fired?

Ed: I don't know.

Dave: What are you guys going to do next? Now that we’re cancelled?

Ed: I’m going to spend the rest of my life searching for Bigfoot.

Karl: I heard knocking sounds out in the woods once. By the time I found where it was coming from, there wasn’t anything around. I think they were hiding from me.

Ed: Can you blame them?

Karl: What’s that supposed to mean?

Ed: Well, you’re kind of scary.

Karl: Well, I did kind of wonder what Bigfoots taste like. What about you, Dave?

Dave: Well, I guess it’s back to drinking too much and sleeping all day.

Ed: Don’t you kind of do that now?

Dave: Well, yeah, I guess.

Karl: I’m going to give up on showbiz. I think I’ll wander the countryside eating bad guys and giving out sage wisdom to those who will listen.

Dave: You’ve been watching Kung Fu reruns again, haven’t you?

Karl: You think I could go to China and study with the Shoalin priests? They could replace dragon style with dinosaur style kung fu.

Ed: You’d need to promise not to eat them.

Dave: You did realize they’re all vegetarians?

Karl: I’m not going to be  turned into some brontosaur. Guess I’ll start my own order of dinosaur worshiping monks.

Ed: What dinosaur will they worship?

Karl: Haven’t you got a squatch waiting to marry you?

Ed: I’m just saying.

Dave: Goodnight everybody.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blog Tour Starts Today

We're participating in something new (for me).  J. A. Campbell has a blog tour starting today. If you follow it along each day, you get to read her story "Brown and the End of the Line" over the next few days.  And, there are prizes you can win.  I've read the story. It's pretty cool and well worth your time. Heck, it's free.  You can't beat free.  The tour wraps up right here on June 16th.  (Actually, there's an interview on the 17th, but the story ends here on the 16th.)





The Schedule:
Intro - June 11th – J. A. Campbell - https://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/blog/

Part 1- June 12th – Sam Knight - http://samknight.com/

Part 2 - June 13th – Bea’s Book Nook - http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/

Part 3 - June 14th – Amaleen Ison - http://www.amaleenison.com/

Part 4 - June 15th – Jen Wylie - http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/

Part 5 - June 16th – David Riley - http://sftrails.blogspot.com/

Interview with Brown - June 17th – Anne Michaud - http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com/


Brown
Ghost Hunting Dog















 
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Recycling

The sort of nearby town of Aspen has banned plastic trash bags.  They claim they're saving the Earth.  I think the town has been taken over by space aliens and it's part of their evil plot to destroy us all. Why can't  city councils leave the people alone?  Just pick up the garbage and pave the streets and leave us alone.

And, in a case of monkey see monkey do, the nearby town of Vail is debating the very same thing.  They tell us we can save the world by banning those pesky plastic wonders.  What am I supposed to put my trash into?

While I understand they wreak havoc on the local recycling facility, which doesn't want them because they're not recyclable, why not make some with different chemicals that are recyclable? Or, placing gun toting android cops at recycling bins to keep the blasted things out?  The NRA says we need more guns in society. This would solve all of our problems at once.  So, fire up the tar and feather machine if those dang councilors area serious about this.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Parents Dayz

Fathers Day is coming up.  I'm not really against the idea of Fathers Day.  But, does dad really need another tie?  I wonder if holidays like Mothers Day & Fathers Day don't exist more for the sake of the Hallmark people than anyone else.

That said, there are certainly differences in marketing for the two holidays.  Mothers Day brings us a deluge of ads from jewelry stores and the people who sell flowers over the Internet.  Father's Day, on the other hand, seems like it is sponsored exclusively by Home Depot.  The tie isn't a real gift anymore--you need to buy dad a lawnmower. 

Frankly, I don't like holidays anymore.  I wish we'd abolish them all and, instead, just get a check from the government for $37.00. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Doctor What?

Well, now that the rumors seem to be more than rumors that Matt Smith is bailing on Dr. Who, I wonder what looser actor will take the job next.  This show has become pathetic with its constant turnover.  The BBC has never been known for paying top money and has always refused to do long term contracts, preferring to make its show in small little batches.  The result is a constant parade of doctors or companions.  And, frankly, they could use some new writers.  The last series was pretty feeble, if you ask me.  I mean, except for the weird western episode, the rest have pretty much sucked.  I think it's time for the BBC to bag it and just give up. 

I had high hopes way back when Russell Davies revived the show. And there have been some good episodes. But, on balance, I don't really like it and I blame the constant regenerations as the problem. So, I think they should park the Tardis and throw away the key. 

Or, they could just have Clara take off in the Tardis and leave the doctor stranded somewhere.  I'd like that. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dog Food Part 2

Yesterday I was talking about dog food. Today, I'll talk more about dog food, but not the commercial stuff.  Dogs will eat a hell of a lot more than people often give them.  Some dogs like corn (some dogs have problems digesting corn, be careful with this one).  The beagle we had could eat it right off the cob, but only if it was salted and buttered for him.  He also could crack and eat walnuts.  He was not happy when squirrels moved into the area and walnuts seldom hit the ground.  Another dog liked dried papaya.  And just about every dog I've ever met liked vanilla ice cream.   (Don't give dogs chocolate).  And dogs love beans of just about every type, including peas.  Whether it's pintos, green beans, pork and beans, refried beans, the only beans I've ever seen a dog refuse are the chili ones, which may be too much for a sensitive canine nose. And the pet food industry wants you to believe God will strike you dead if you feed fido a few beans now and then.  He won't. I think God likes beans, too.

That said, other foods are trial and error to some extent.  I discovered my parent's golden retriever loved spaghetti.  My mom wouldn't give him any, but if I was looking after him he often got some. I was walking him one evening and a neighbor was quite concerned because he thought there was blood on his snout.  When I told him it was spaghetti sauce, he was relieved, though surprised. It had never occurred to him dogs might like spaghetti.   That dog liked Chinese spring rolls as well.  Not so much on spicier Chinese food.  I'm not advocating feeding Rover exotic foods every day, but if you've got something now and then Rover likes, give it to him.  The notion that dogs don't care is pure bull. They only don't care if they eat the same thing every day.

And then there's summer grilling season. Dogs react strongly to smells--and they love the smell of meat grilling over charcoal.  Have the neighbor's dogs ever gotten some steak scraps from me? Or an extra hamburger? They're not telling and neither am I.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dog Food Part 1

I spent some time in the store yesterday reading the labels on dog food packages.  This may be a bit weird as I do not own a dog.  It's just that when I was a lad I would try the various dog foods our beagle was fed. No one else in the family would. They were awful. It was no wonder he wouldn't eat them.  Later on in life, when my parents had retired to Arizona, they got a golden retriever.  I tried his food as well, though not the canned stuff--only the dry food. I couldn't take the smell of canned dog food.  I rather liked his Purina One.  The dog treats were a bit iffy--some were good though his favorite, Snausages, did not appeal to me.  Why did I do this?  Just wanted to see what the stuff tasted like.

Now, I was reading the labels because the days when there was just Purina and Kennelration are over. There's all kinds of premium and not so premium dog foods on the market.  I was curious about them. There was one dog treat from China I wouldn't feed to my brother.  Overall, most of the stuff seemed to be made of wholesome ingredients and I could eat a bowl in a pinch.  There's some ultra premium brands that are just at places we don't have around where I live.  That will have to wait.  Maybe I'll review some dog foods in a future entry. Even Costco seems to have their own dog food now. Lots of choices.  In the meantime, remember that dogs just love beans. And dogs do not seem to like Jello.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Receipt please?

I've noticed a trend where I live that I do not care for.  More and more stores and restaurants are not giving customers receipts.  Hardly any restaurant does unless you use a credit card.  But the trend for stores really bothers me.  If I have a problem with goods purchased, or believe I was not charged correctly, I have no basis to contest said charges if I don't have a receipt. 

I learned the value of a receipt many year ago.  I remember when I was about 18 and still living in California. A new warehouse store opened (they were all the rage back then).  And I bought some stuff for the family as my mother just about refused to shop anywhere you had to bag your own groceries.  Well, before I even left the store, I suspected something was afoul. The receipt showed onions 22 lbs. There were only three onions--that's a big onion.  I went over to the customer service booth and claimed I was charged about 20 lbs more onions than I bought. The clerk didn't believe me and said I was lying. I  held up a small bag of three onions. I said I had not left the store. There were no other onions with my purchase. Reluctantly, the little twerp summoned the manager. I got a refund and departed. I have no idea how their scales were that far off, but I was sure glad I checked the receipt before leaving.

Now, my long held suspicion when there's no receipt has been that the employee is stealing from the company. Cash is pocketed and the transaction is never properly entered in the computer.  I used to work at a hotel where they were constantly firing bartenders for building a bank and not registering the transactions.  If you paid cash, the customer didn't get a receipt and the transaction for that beer or bottle of wine never was rung up.

I suspect that's what's happening at the stores that don't give you receipts as well.  It's so pervasive that I just took an old printer to the county run recycling place where they charge .20 cents a pound and there are two signs saying I should expect a receipt for every transaction--yet the attendant wouldn't give me a receipt.  Even a small independent grocery store won't give receipts. It's everywhere.  I've started demanding receipts even if I don't really need them. 

I do realize so many people are paying for stuff with their phones or debit cards and don't feel they need them, but it should be my option if I get one or not. 

One of my odd quirks is I always ask for receipts on bridges that collect tolls (which they're now requiring transponders for and getting rid of toll booths). I was once stopped on a trip to San Francisco to buy illegal fireworks by the highway patrol, who claimed I hadn't paid my toll.  Said officer was surprised when I produced a time stamped official receipt showing I had indeed paid my toll, and off I went. I want my receipts.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

You Need Help

This past weekend I went to Home Depot.  I needed a new burner on my electric stove and some weed killer for my porch.  I knew where both items were.  It was simply a matter of going to the respective shelves and picking them up. In four minutes I was asked eight times if I needed any help.  I found this really annoying.  I realize this is the big time of the year for selling stuff.  But, helpfulness quickly turns to harassment.  I did not ask for, want or need anyone's help.  I'm not faulting helping someone if they look bewildered or are looking around for help.  But asking the same customer every 30 seconds if he needs help is annoying. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Biting Dogs

The Post Office says there are over 4 million dog bites each year.  Why would so many people want to bite dogs? 

I remember way back in California when I was in my pre driving years and I delivered the Dollar Saver once a week. I think I did that about a year, then I got tired of it and quit.  This was a weekly publication that listed cars for sale and a whole lot of garage sale ads.  My brother had a route as well, though he quit after just a few months.  His route had a huge dog problem. People just set their dogs loose and they accosted everyone they saw.  My route didn't have as many dog issues for some reason.  Back then if you called animal control they rarely came or did anything about the problem. It never seemed to occur to these people they could be sued. 

Then there's recent times where I now live.  When I first moved into the condo I currently reside in, I could hardly take out the trash without being accosted by somebody's dog.  I got very good at smacking these dogs with trash bags.    There was one really aggressive mutt who came after me repeatedly.  I pepper sprayed that one and was never bothered again.  Then, over time, the dog problem sort of subsided.  I hardly ever have problems anymore. I attribute it to a better manager in our complex. 

They say dog bite claims are the leading type of claim for homeowners policies.  In both of these situations, it's really the irresponsible pet owners who are to blame.

Of course, most dogs are friendly and would rather go for a ride in the car.  When I first moved here, one golden retriever liked me so much she jumped in the car when I opened the door, ready to go for a ride. Her owner was speechless and amazed her dog hopped into someone else's car. The dog was ordered out of my car. Truth was, it wasn't my decision, but I didn't really care and would've taken her with me. I would've brought her back.



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tornacadoes

Growing up in California we didn't have tornadoes. We had plenty of fires and earthquakes, but no tornadoes.  Heck, even lightning was rare.  So my first tornado was in Arkansas.  We'd gone back to visit my grandmother.  Everyone had gone to bed when there was this horrible roar.  And everything had a green look, from what you could see.  I hit the floor as I fumbled around to put my shoes on.  Frankly, it was very scary. The funnel sort of hopped over my grandmother's house, took out a tree down the street, then came down again and made a mess of the town park.  This was a small little town. Miraculously, no one lost their homes and everyone sort of shrugged it off.   I suspect it was a EF 1 or 2, from what I know about the ranking scale---nothing like the EF 5's seen recently.

The morning paper said there were other "tornacadoes" over in Oklahoma. I guess the copy editor was a bit rattled. I vividly remember the spelling.  Anyway, no real damage and life went on.  But, if that funnel had come down a few feet more, I'm certain my grandmother's house would have gone.  It was that close. I could feel the air leaving as it was. 

For some reason, the California earthquakes never bothered me that much. And I was glad we didn't have to worry about tornadoes. 

I've just sent a modest donation to the Red Cross. There's not much I can do to help the many victims of the recent tornadoes but I guess every little bit helps.  There's just  a bit of "There but for the grace of God go I" in these recent disasters.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Free Weird Western novel.

This weekend my mega novel The Devil Draws Two is available on Kindle from Amazon.com for free.  This was originally three novels that were reprinted as one big book.  So you get three weird western novels for free.  If you don't have a Kindle device, there's a free reader program you can download for PC.  Hell of a deal. For some reason most weird westerns are short stories.  You don't see a lot of novels like this one.

This book chronicles the life of Miles O'Malley as he battles a Mayan god who wants to take over California circa 1880.  Most people who have read it liked it.