Monday, December 31, 2018

Collaboration is not a bad word

It's no secret that I have a working relationship with the folks over at Hadrosaur Productions. They currently publish the double novella book Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.  This features Ling Fung and the Mayan god Ah Puch and is set in an 1880s California and is the same world some of my other weird westerns take place in--including The Devil Draws Two which features my Miles O'Malley character. 

In that same world we catch up with Mabel, although we first hook up with her a little earlier than the other stories as she tags along with General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. Mabel is working as a photographer.  It was actually not uncommon for women to work as photographers and reporters during the war as able bodied men were almost all conscripted into military service.

Hadrosaur  will be publishing my new novella Fallen Angel and publisher David Lee Summers' blog has the first official description about the book.  This story centers around Mabel, who we've seen before but never to this detail, and her nutty sister. After the war Mabel teams up with Miles O'Malley in San Francisco and discovers the Martians have plans for earth.  And Mabel's sister seems to be teaming up with the Martians.  

When the book is ready for release I'll have more information.  In the meantime check out Summers blog as he not only describes my book but some other projects Hadrosaur Productions are planning for the new year.    https://davidleesummers.wordpress.com/


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Obligatory year in review

At the end of the year it seems we have to reflect on the year that was for some inexplicable reason.  For starters, I had very little published. I edited a book that was going to be called Hotel Haunted. Well, the publisher never published it. The contributing authors are withdrawing their stories so it looks like a dead project.

I wrote a weird western novella called Fallen Angel, but it won't be out until March or so of next year. That means one big goose egg--not one story or book published in 2018.  I hope the new year will be more productive.

On a related note, I only attended two cons in 2018, Wild Wild West Con and Mile Hi Con.  I had been attending around four per year.  It was not really up to me. A number of cons I approached snubbed me.   I get a lot of that and I am not sure why.  

A lackluster year, pretty much.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Health

Went to the doctor yesterday.  My warranty has sure run out.  Now I have a new health problem--my thyroid is acting up.  The good news is the doctor gave me some medicine and it's not all that severe.  The bad news is it's just another health problem to contend with.  

Friday, December 28, 2018

Smashing

Smahwords is having a sale on my book Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.   You can get half off, as I understand the offer.  This is two weird western novellas--one by me and one by Laura Givens.  This is  a really good deal. Of course Smashwords is an ebook distributor. The print copy is not included , but can be purchased from bookstores.  



Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Gifts

I do wonder one thing about Christmas.  How many families give their dogs presents?  Our golden retriever got really excited when he saw people wrapping presents.  He reacted with joy when the Christmas tree went up. Of course he had a present under the tree.  And he always knew which package was his.  He wouldn't mess with it, but he'd go by every now and then and check on it, taking a sniff--probably already knowing what it was.  In his case it was a dog toy of some sort. There was a soccer ball he was particularly fond off. One year he got a plastic pork chop that made a squeaking sound. And  you had to do on Christmas was hand him his present. He was quite able to tear it open on his own.  Then he would run around and show everyone his new toy.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Sleigh Maker

The Sleigh Maker
by
David B. Riley

  Simon turned off the acetylene welder and removed his goggles. That was the last weld. A year’s worth of work finally done. Except for the paint, of course. He’d do that tomorrow. He caught some motion out of the corner of his eye. That damned Blitzen was looking in the window again. Simon shook his fist. “Go on, get out of here!”
  He turned out the lights and made sure the heavy gauge steel door was locked, then he headed home for the night. As the Chief Engineer, he had a private cottage all to himself. It was a considerable improvement over the barracks of the toy makers. But his accommodations did not really matter. It was all about tomorrow. Tomorrow everyone would be talking about Simon Thomas Tinker.
 Traditional red or a nice shade of blue? He fell asleep thinking about wonderful colorful paint.

***
  The boss was munching on a piece of gingerbread as he looked over a letter from a Thea Wilson of San Francisco, California, Young Miss Wilson was extolling on her exemplary behavior during the previous year. She wanted some model of submersible ship, Nautilus, envisioned by Mister Jules Verne, which she claimed could be obtained from the Emporium store in San Francisco for an astronomical price. And it apparently had working hatches and such.  This seemed an odd request for a young girl. He took a sip of coffee. “Give her a rag doll,” he declared.
 “Uh, I don’t think she likes dolls,” Elf Randy replied.
 “All girls like dolls,” the boss insisted.
 “Not this one,” Elf Randy argued.
 “Put her down for those creepy looking ones. We’ve got tons of those to get rid of.”
 “Sir,” Elf William was saying, “it’s time for your appointment with the Chief Engineer.”
 “I’d nearly forgotten. Let’s get it over with.”

***

 Elliott topped off the water tank then gently pulled the throttle. The sleigh glided down the street and came to rest in front of the big house.  He set it to idle.  The sleigh let out a gasp of steam, then quieted to a gentle purr. 
 “Why is it blue?” Elf Randy asked. “Sleighs are supposed to be red.”
 “That’s so passe,” Simon said.
 “A blue sleigh,” the boss sort of muttered. “I don’t know.”
 “We can paint it any color you want,” Simon pointed out. “Not a problem.”
 The boss walked around the strange looking sleigh that had no place for reindeer. “I don’t know.”
 “It’s fast, really fast,” Simon said.
 The boss stared at it for a moment. “Steam, that means stoking coal, doesn’t it?”
 “It uses a liquid fuel,” Simon explained. “Much more efficient and cleaner, too. And it doesn’t need expensive hay and oats all year long. The saving will really add up.”
  “T’s just, we’ve used reindeer for so long,” the boss said. “What will become of the reindeer?”
 “You do remember the barbecue grill I made for you,?” Simon asked as he patted his stomach.“Perhaps a test ride? See what it can do?”
 “Well I guess that would be prudent to check it out and all,” the boss agreed.
 “You’re not getting in that thing!”
 Mrs. C. He’d been hoping to avoid this. He’d scheduled the meeting when she usually took her nap.  Mrs. C. and Simon had a history–a bad history.  She hated every single one of his ideas. She even hated the barbecue grill. Claimed it made too much smoke.
 “I don’t think something like that could possibly be safe. Besides, we don’t need it. Come inside, it’s cold out here,” she said.
 He followed them inside. Simon made his final pitch to save the project. “Tell you what, just sit out on the porch. I’ll give you a demonstration, take it up and show you what it can do.”
 “Well dearest, I guess we owe him that much,” the boss agreed.
 “Okay, but why is it blue? Sleighs should be red.”
 “We can paint it any color,” Simon assured her.
 The boss and Mrs. C took up their favorite rocking chairs on the porch. Simon climbed into the sleigh and switched the engine to on. He pulled on the throttle. The sleigh lifted off the ground and shot into the sky. In seconds it looked like he could even reach out and touch the aurora borealis itself. He turned up the brightness on the side lanterns so they’d be able to see him down in the village.  He banked the sleigh into an arch, then tried a corkscrew pattern. Surely that would impress them.
 Then the sleigh started to rock. The steam thrusters were acting up. He looked at the glowing dials and saw the steam pressure was plummeting. That wasn’t right. The sleigh could run for hours. He’d just filled it. Then he noticed another problem–the temperature in the boiler was sky high. It was out of water. The manifold was actually starting to glow.
Some motion caught his eye on the right. It was that damned Blitzen. He was flying alongside the sleigh. Suddenly, it all made sense. When they’d gone inside the reindeer must’ve drained the water tank.
 H e shook his fist at Blitzen. The animal stuck out its tongue out at him, then sped off. “Dam it!” He would try to land.  But the sleigh had other ideas. It exploded into a ball of fire.
 “Looks like you were right, mother,” the boss said.
 “Dang fool blew himself up. Let’s go inside. It’s cold out here,” Mrs. C said.
 They would definitely be talking about Simon Tinker for a very long time.

Monday, December 24, 2018

More gooder idea

My friend Ed sent along the following.

As Chief of the Literacy Police, all I want for Christmas is for people to stop saying:

"Statue" of limitations (Where is it, on the grounds of the State Board of Paroles and 
Pardons?)
"Mischeeveeous" for "Mischievous"
"Nucular" for "Nuclear"
"Realator" for "Realtor"
"Passed away" for "Died"
"Reached out to" for "Approached" or "Asked for comment"  It's self-serving and saccharin.
"Him/Her and I" for "He/She and I"
"Womens'" for "Women's" (It's already plural, dumbass).
"Like" every third word, which dilutes its impact and meaning and its utility as a simile.
"I'll do ___" for "I'd like " or "I'll have ___" or "May I have ___" when ordering in a bar or restaurant.  For years, to "do" something or somebody meant to have sex with them or to kill them  So you'll "do" a hamburger?  Really?!!!  This is a current speech fad, because it wasn't heard anywhere until the last few years.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Binging along

Binging  is what we do these days.  I've binged through many series. My latest one was from up north.  I sat through something called Corner Gas.  Supposedly, this is the most popular show in Canada. I don't know if it's ever been broadcast in the US, but it's available from Amazon Prime.  This all started when a friend of mine recently packed up and moved to Canada.  I wondered why anyone would do such a thing--especially with war looming between the US and Canada.  [That's why Donald is bringing the troops back from Syria--he needs them to fight Canada].  

So, I watched the six seasons of Corner Gas. It's about a convenience store and in a town in Saskatchewan.  It's got some delightfully eccentric characters including a cranky old guy and the guy who run's the store is the cranky old guy's son.  Well I liked it.  But, I still don't understand why someone would move there. But they seem to like hot dogs.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Once Upon a time

Once there was a town called Tucson, way off in the Arizona territory.  And this bookstore, decided to invite the local authors to come and sign books.  And the writers came and even brought their pens.  Except for one writer.  They curiously forgot to invite him.  And he came anyway.

"What's he doing here?" people were heard to ask.

"How come I wasn't invited?" the writer asked.

"Because we don't like you," everyone chimed. "Go away and don't come back. And your stories suck!"

So, that very night, a strange man with glowing eyes and a red top hat knocked on the writer's door. "Hi, I'd like to publish your book."

"Oh, sure," the writer said.

"Just sign here," the publisher guy said.

"What's with the red ink?" the writer asked.

"It's not red ink. It's blood," the publisher guy corrected.

The writer hesitated. "I know who you are, mister. You're the devil."

"Darn tootin.' Who else would buy your book? It's the worse book ever written."

"If it's so bad, why do you want it?"

"That is the sort of thing we publish in hell."

"You're not trying to get my soul?" the writer fellow asked, somewhat disappointed.

"No, we certainly don't want your soul.  We don't want you in hell. Most definitely not. We want you right here cranking out deplorable fiction."

"Oh." So the writer signed the contract.

"Excellent. The check is in the mail. We'll probably be in touch."

And the writer fellow never went to another book signing.

The end


Friday, December 21, 2018

It was warm yesterday.

After some chilly, windy days, it was warm yesterday. I took the opportunity to go out and look into my yard.  It was still out there.  Our homeowners association sent me an official complaint.  They thought I had too many weeds.  I didn't think it was  that bad.  Everything what weeds dies in my yard, so i thought a few weeds might be nice. Apparently, according to the HOA, not so much.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Dear Santa

Dear Santa:

Well, last year, you again stiffed me.  Now, I could just sort of blame that on my move to Arizona.  Thing is, you stiffed me for the 15 years I lived in Colorado as well.  In fact, it's been about 45 years since I got a present from you.  Was it something I said?  How about we let bygones be bygones and you leave a little something under my tree this year?  

What do I want?  Well, you know I like being handcuffed.  I was thinking that cute officer from the police department could come over and handcuff me and search me. The one I wrote you about last year.  Don't want to arrange that?  Well, a large amount of cash would be nice.  My car's getting old and worn out, but I guess a new one is kind of heavy for your sleigh.  

If that's too much, how about a nice chess set.  Surely you could drop off that when you swing by Arizona.  You could alternatively drop off a million copies of one of my books to homes around the world.. Books make great presents. I'd get royalties and that would make up for being stiffed all these years.

By the way, my brother wants a box of steaks.  He likes those ones from Omaha.  

And my dad, well he says you don't exist, but he's pretty much crazy these days.  


Your pal,

Dave

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bargains

If anyone wants to pick up some of my older books and back issues of Science Fiction Trails, visit Better World Books. They're an online bookseller with a lot of stuff that I thought was no longer available.  Check it out.

Searching the world over

I wanted to get someone a Russian language book as a Christmas gift--specifically White Fang by Jack London. There was one hardcover at an out of print book place that wanted $500. What's this guy smoking? And nothing else was in stock in the US. I fond one paperback in poor .condition in the UK. That was it.

So I go into the local bookstore and expressed my frustration. The clerk walked over to a shelf and came back with what I wanted. Online is not always the answer.

Monday, December 17, 2018

More on yesterday

I got up in the middle of the night and wrote a story straight through.  I haven't had that much creative inspiration in a very long time.  It's a Martian story involving my Sarah Meadows character. We'll see if anyone likes it.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Awake and working, sir

I woke up at 3 am.  I started writing.  I had a whole story come to me in a flash of inspiration at the middle of the night. Can I get it all down? Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

what's this, winter stuff

It was cold yesterday. The wind was blowing a lot.  Mighty strange December weather for Tucson.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Novella days

I've been busy going over my manuscript as the editor wanted a few minor changes.  I have a new novella coming out soon and it's being edited.  Next comes layout. Then we ad  cover. and call it a book.  Sort of.

My last book was actually two novellas--one by me and one by someone else in one book called Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.   This will be a first for me--a freestanding novella that's going to have to sink or swim on its own.  I don't know if something that size will sell but we shall find out.  I'll talk more about the book as the release date draws nearer. 

I really like this size book from the vantage point of a writer and to read.  The stories are deeper than a short story but don't bog down the way they sometimes can in a novel.  The new story is called Fallen Angel.  I hope people will like it.

I also have another novella being considered by a major New York publisher.  Now that would be something if they bought it.  

So, stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

I should ad

Yesterday's post-addendum.

I should add the professor of the class was not wild about my product. He felt that it was not only seasonal, but doubted many people would actually purchase it and give it to some child--although many likely deserved it.  I didn't take anymore business classes.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Xmas gifts

Back when I was in college I took a business class. We had to come up with a saleable product.  My idea was lump o' coal for that rotten little kid.  Back in days, St. Nicholas supposedly left a switch and a lump of coal in the stockings of kids who were naughty.  So I would've had that info on the back of the packaging and shrink rapped to the front would be a piece of coal and maybe a picture of Santa or his sleigh.

Well, I never had the time to put it together in real life, I think I could've found a company to package up the coal but getting it actually into stores would have been a challenge.  I think the dollar stores that have become so ubiquitous might have been the angle. Alas my idea never happened. If anyone wants to take my idea and market this go right ahead.  I don't mind.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

thoughts

My science fiction novel Bonded Agent got a nice review on Amazon.  People tend to ignore Amazon reviews as there's a tendency for folks to get their friends to write them. Well, I've never met Joy V. Smith, but she wrote a nice review.  

That brings up a problem this particular book has had.  Women seem to like it, men not so much. Male readers seem to want the main character to be that white dude from earth.  In this story, Sarah Meadows is a Martian citizen who despises earth  Based on what feedback it's gotten, that's been the trend.  I wish more people would read it, but it struggles to get traction. Martian insurance adjuster? Ugh.  Well, it's got lizard men. It can't be all bad. At least read Joy's review.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Slow Start

The reading period for Science Fiction Trails is off to a very slow start. I'm mostly getting trunk  stories. I've talked about them before. They're unsaleable stories that writers keep stored in a trunk because they won't sell. Every now and then they come out of the trunk and get sent off somewhere. It looks like I'm the lucky one. These stories have obvious flaws that seem be invisible to the writer, although quite apparent to everyone else.  Well I guess I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Rain

It never rains in Arizona.  So last night I head out to the store and it starts raining.  I don't have a coat with me. I don't even own an umbrella.  And there were so many shoppers I couldn't park anywhere next to the building.  I feel like a drowned rat.  


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Tall People

There's a theory that the tallest presidential candidate winds.  I intend to research it all the way to George Washington, but I think there's something to it.  In recent elections, Al Gore was one inch taller than George W. Bush. And he defeated John Kerry, who is 6' 4" over George w.'s height of 6 ft. 
Barring that anomaly Obama was taller than his opponents or McCain and Romney and Donald Trump towered over Hillary Clinton.

Going back further 6' 2" Bill Clinton beat HW Bush and Bob Dole and he was taller than both of them.  As I said, I'll have to take this back.  I don't even know who very short John Adams ran against as George Washington did not run for a third term and so on.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

House of Straw

Americans use 500 million drinking straws each day. I read that somewhere.  Why?  The restraints and fast food outlets give them to you and they throw them in the garbage after use.  Why?  How many people use drinking straws at home?  I have long refused them.  The landfills are full of little plastic things that were never even needed.  They used to make them out of paper, but now they are plastic and non recyclable and being dumped in the landfills by the millions.  

Do you use one at home?  Probably not. Then why do you need one at Taco Bell?  Our local McDonalds is the worst as they tear them open and stick them in your drink cup for me as I am apparently such a senile old geezer I can't unwrap a straw on my own.  

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Trunk Stories

I've mentioned trunk stories before and people don't seem to understand the concept.  back in the day if a writer had a story he could not sell, it eventually was placed in a trunk.  From time to time a story listing might come up and that writer would dust off and submit it rather than writing a new story. Today they're sitting on a hard drive or a cloud storage, but not out in circulation.  There is usually a reason for that. These stories usually are badly flawed and that's why they don't sell.  So there, that's a trunk story to you non writers.

Hence the opening of Science Fiction Trails for reading.  I believe everything I've gotten is a trunk story, save for one reprint. I actually accepted one of these trunk stories.  I guess that's why writers send them out.  But it still struck meas a trunk story--but I liked in some odd way. 

Oh well.  Every new issue is an adventure.