The weather where I live isn't too springlike yet, so I took a short trip over to western Colorado. It was nice over there. I saw a bear and some deer and a rattlesnake. And I visited this place that I'm told was built by the Anasazi. Not sure, as there are no signs or plaques or anything. But I like going there. The canyon I was in looks a lot like the Story Emporium cover over on the blog for that publication--sans dinosaurs. I suspect there probably were dinosaurs running around millions of years ago. Alas, I didn't see any on my trip. That would've been something.
Monday, April 27, 2015
I guess I'll try and clarify some of my remarks of yesterday. As I reach the tenth anniversary of my first novel being published, I thought it was time to share a few thoughts I've come to have about the pitfalls of writing and the evils of the publishing industry.
In general, I've noticed most writers have jumped on the bandwagon that somehow beta readers and critique groups magically make for a better story. They may. But I believe they do not. I think it makes writers weak and hesitant as they avoid anything that some reader might take askance with. And I believe the root cause of this is the mistaken belief that there is an empirically good or bad story. Today's masterpiece is tomorrow's trash and vice versa. So, falling into the trap of telling a story that some editor or reader will like is the same mindset of writing something so teacher will like it and give me a good grade when you're in school. It simply doesn't work. And a lot of time and energy is being wasted in pursuit of a pointless goal.
So, when some editor tells some writer do this or avoid that, does that really make the story better or does it just placate some editor who is mangling a story beyond recognition? People are brainwashed that teacher knows what teacher is talking about or that editor so and so is competent and capable. That person may be. Then again, that's often someone simply thrust upon a writer and that person makes arbitrary or unnecessary changes to justify his own existence.
Now, what mikes this rant especially baffling is the obvious question: But, David, aren't you yourself an editor?. I am. And that's why I am so convinced that editors are so full of crap.
What's the solution? I ain't got one. Most of the stories that arrive on my desk for the projects I'm working on desperately need some editing. But do not believe for an instant that the editing process is pleasant or righteous. In many cases, perhaps most of them, it will leave you angry and frustrated. While an editor can help polish a story and make it shine, too often they make it dull and lifeless instead. And that is my cynical take on the world of publishing.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Writing websites, writing classes, writing articles all have one thing in common. They don't know what the hell they're talking about. You need to remove ten percent. You need to remove twenty percent. You can't use attributives. So, you listen to all this crap and you end up with a sterile story that no one wants to read. Grammar and style are rules of the road. But, alas, many editors use their power over the writer to bludgeon that story into something entirely different than what the writer wanted. They do it every day. So, what's the balance? Hell, I don't know. But there are a lot of editors mangling stories out there for no good reason other than they can.
Since I have had a disastrous past year, it hasn't been much of a problem for me, personally. At least, not lately because I'm not getting much published. But, when my first novel was going through the editing process, I got quite angry over the process. In particular, one sentence. of that process. The Two Devils has a chapter where our hero, Miles O'Malley, is in Tombstone, Arizona. He's reading the Epitaph. I believe the Epitaph is the best name for a newspaper in the history of the world. So, the editor changed it to reading the newspaper and removed the name of the paper completely. So, it was changed to a less precise term because some dumbshit somewhere out there might not know what the word meant. Well, my view was if they didn't understand the sentence fuck them and let them die. Another thing that pissed me off with this change was there were two papers in the area at the time and the fact Miles was reading the Epitaph, which was a republican newspaper [most papers were partisan back then] was significant as only the Epitaph railed against Sheriff John Behan. The other paper, which was democratic, didn't seem so displeased with him. So, my story was forcibly changed to give it less precise meaning and there was nothing I could do about it. And ten years later I'm still bitter about that one sentence.
Next month is the ten year anniversary of that book's publication. I may rail more on this book next week. I got hosed big time by the publisher. But it's the removal of that one word that has chafed at me for the past decade.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Like most people, I've had great ideas that never quite happened.
Back in the 80s I thought it would be neat to get rid of drapes and have windows simply cloud up when you wanted privacy. But I couldn't figure out how to do it. Now, they actually have such windows, but I have yet to see them commercially available. I probably couldn't afford them anyway.
About the same time I started calling the paste-like fluid they cover typos with "Boo boo goo." Well, some darn company down the street from where I lived marketed just such a product. I don't think it caught on. I never saw it for very long. I knew people at the company that made it but never entirely figured out how my term boo boo goo made it to them. I wonder if they still make it.
Then there was Abominable Cereal. I really wanted to market this, but could not get any backers. Everyone thought it was stupid. The concept was the box would have the Abominable Snowman on top of a mountain, swatting at airplanes much as King Kong did on top of the Empire State Building. And inside the box would be little Abominable Snowmen with white frosting on them. I figured kids would have gone nuts for it. Anyway, if anybody runs into the boo boo goo folks and they want to steal another of my ideas, they can have it. Just let me know where I can get a box. I actually wrote about this as an assignment for a marketing class. As I recall, the professor was only lukewarm to the idea and I think I got a B on my paper.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
How much attention do you pay to those restaurant checks? I did this same experiment last year, but decided to revisit. Things have gotten worse. I waited until I'd gone to 10 restaurants for lunch or supper. Specifically, 10 restaurants that use manual checks. I haven't found the same problems with the computerized restaurant checks.
So, out of ten places, I found 9 of them had errors on the bill. Ninety percent error rate. Yep. And all of them in the favor of the restaurant. Innocent mistake? Poor math skills? Perhaps, but ninety percent? I think some of these places are deliberately raking people with "errors" on the bills. It's too high a rate to come to any other conclusion. Errors were all at least 10 percent off. One was even more than that. Entrees wrong amount. Tax amount is not correct [In my state each town has its own tax rate, but I found tax amounts that were almost 20 percent when the tax rate was about 7 percent. In other words, they just made up an amount and put it down].
So, eat out at your own peril. And when you get that bill, look it over. You may be surprised.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
In talking to a few hotel guests a few nights ago [on a very slow night] we were discussing what TV shows we'd like to see remade. We got a predictable vote for Batman. and somebody wanted Lost in Space. And there was a vote for the Ed Sullivan Show. Well, then I said I'd love to see new episodes of Mr. Ed. Nobody had any idea who Mr. Ed was. What a shame. It was my favorite show back in the day. It ran for about five seasons in the 60's. It was about a talking horse named Ed and his person, Wilbur Post. Ed kept getting Wilbur in odd and funny predicaments. And he never talked, except to Wilbur. The show Alf, which came along much later, was the same show except they used an alien instead of a talking horse.
So, I loved Mr. Ed and would love to see a remake. As for Batman, the TV series, I broke my arm playing Batman. I was in the third grade at the time. It's too painful of a memory. And Lost in Space, I never took to it and thought it was stupid. I love science fiction. But face it, anyone else would've shoved Dr. Smith out the airlock. Th Ed Sullivan Show, can't say much on that. I've never watched it. I'm probably dating myself a bit. Heck, I was amazed these folks even remembered any of the vintage TV shows. Of course, the Batman series still runs on one of those cable channels nobody watches. I have not seen Mr. Ed on any of those places.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Down Denver way they've had a deal where a few TSA screeners at the airport were involved with groping people. The last time I flew there was this red haired girl at the Phoenix airport. As I was going through the line I was thinking that I would very much like it if she would grope me. Yes, indeed, I really wanted her to grope me. But, she paid me no mind at all and I went right on through the process, put my shoes back on and continued to my plane.
Alas, I've found flying has become so awful I've decided I'm not going to fly anymore. Ergo, all the horrible crowding and shoving the seats too close together and charging five dollars for a can of soda--they can keep all of that, thank you. I've had it. I'll just stay home. Even though that means I'll never get handcuffed by British police women, so be it. There's something about those British police women's uniforms. But, in balance, I'll just stay home.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Over at the Story Emporium site we're asking folks which of our past projects they enjoyed the most. I'm doing this just to get a sense of where to head on future projects. I know it won;'t be a scientific poll, but I'm still hoping if enough folks reply it might prove useful.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Well, my story collection Airship Stories is now available. It leads off with a steampunk novella called "Wandering About" which features the airship Wanderer of the United States Naval Air Corps. Folks also get three more stories and an essay on the very real Great Airship of 1897. It's currently available as an ebook on Kindle & Nook. It likely will appear on other venues as well. Alas, there are no current plans for a print copy.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
I wrote two short stories yesterday. Both were decently long. I haven't been that productive in a long time. Not bad for somebody who's seriously considering quitting writing. And, I'm using a new character. I haven't used a new character in ages. Of course the proof is in the pudding, as they say.Folks may hate them.
Even though I've created a new character, I'm using an old villain. I've brought back Ah Puch, the Mayan god of death. We go back. He was the villain in The Two Devils, The Devil's Due & The Dust Devil. [all three books are reprinted in The Devil Draws Two.] I love this guy. He's simply a wonderful villain. More news if I find a home for them.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Anyone tried to buy ink or toner for their printer lately? Ouch! I really feel gouged. And it doesn't seem to matter what company you bought your printer from. They all gouge you on ink. I've been trying to find a printer that uses less expensive ink and concluded there aren't any. The refill companies, well they're a little cheaper but I've had about a 50% problem rate with those, so I have become reluctant to use them. I guess the only solution is simply don't print stuff out. That's what I'm going to try. I think I'll go back to hand written envelopes and labels. Either that or get an octopus. I don't know if their ink works well for a printer, but maybe it should be looked into.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
People lump me into the weird western category as a matter habit these days, in spite of the fact that only about 20% of the crap I write are WW stories. However, I like the genre and take no exception with the label. But one thing I don't often talk about is the fact other weird western writers have a vendetta against me. Seriously, I've been blasted a lot by other people in the genre and I have the podcasts to prove it. My crime is not that I suck as a writer (though that may be the case). My offense is the stuff I write, and especially the stuff I publish, is not dark enough.
And that still seems to be the case. I've been given a rather rude snub by a con this week and an even ruder snub by a WW anthology. Screw 'em. I'll do what I do and they can kiss my ass. But I do find it interesting that there really is a mindset that wants to keep people out of the field on such a ridiculous and silly level. But that's the petty little world of genre fiction and the cons affiliated with them.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
It's no secret I have a certain interest in haunted hotels. I've even worked in a few. However, while some hotels embrace their hauntedness, most do not. That was why I gave up a few years back when I wanted to do a book on haunted hotels. Most hotel managers hung up on me. These are hotels that aren't all that famous for being haunted and seemed to want to keep it that way.
Still, it's interesting when somebody mentions a certain hotel and I blurt out "it;s haunted." That leaves folks wondering, until I start reciting details about why it's haunted. So, that said, what makes a hotel haunted? The one I work at has creepy noises, doors opening by themselves, loud footsteps in hallways and never anyone there, and disembodied voices. On the other hand, the one in Wyoming I used to work at had full bodied apparitions and people getting touched and all sort of creepies. Sometimes it's not if they're haunted, but rather how much they're haunted.
I'd like to visit more haunted hotels, but just don't have the travel budget right now to do it. Bucket list--absolutely.
Sunday, April 5, 2015
I don't know if they still make snowballs over at Hostess. We certainly don't see them in the local stores. A while back Hostess fell on hard times and I don't think they've ever really recovered. I see Twinkees, but never snowballs. The reason I mention them today is I was wondering what color they'd be for Easter. I always thought they were geniuses with this product as the usual pink product would change color at certain times of the year. They'd be green around St. Patrick's Day and orange at Halloween. And every time they'd change color, I'd buy some. It worked really well at getting me to make a purchase. Alas, since I don't find them in stores anymore, I don't know what color they are or even if they still make them. Too bad, really, as I kind of liked those gooey little bundles of sugar
Friday, April 3, 2015
A few odd things this week have me completely baffled. I'm calling it the great Sprite conspiracy. First off, I went into a Chinese restaurant for lunch. I ordered iced tea, which I've had before there. I was baffled when the waitress brought me Sprite. When I told her I didn't order that, it appeared she spoke no English whatsoever. This was a little more Chinese experience than I was seeking. Since I couldn't get her to bring me my iced tea, I got up and walked out of the restaurant in disgust.
Then, a few days later I tried to have lunch at a local diner type place. I was informed they were out of iced tea and they offered me Sprite. "I don't want any Sprite. Do you have Coke?" Well, I was told they were out of Coke. I settled, reluctantly, on Mr. Pibb. And, as I are my lunch, I noticed others in the restaurant ordering and getting Coke. Why did I get such a low tip? The waitress is likely wondering. I shouldn't have tipped her at all, but I might go back there some day.
So, I went to the grocery store. They had Sprite on sale. I didn't buy any. But it gets better. On my way to work, I stopped off at a convenience store and tried to purchase a beverage. You know, the fountain variety that are often fairly cheap and have different amounts of gulps you can buy. Well, there was no iced tea. And then I discovered, nothing came out of any of the options but Sprite. "I don't want Sprite, goddam it!" I said aloud. I left the store without buying anything.
I don't like Sprite. .
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Back in the 70s there was a holiday gift sensation called the Pet Rock that came out one year. They sold millions of them. I got one for Christmas. It was one of those things that was so stupid it was kind of fun. And, just about as fast as they arrived, they faded away, as most fads do. Well, I noted the guy who invented them, Gary Dahl, has passed away. I suppose they're still around on places like eBay.