Monday, December 31, 2012

Wagging tails

I don't like New Years very much. It's all too easy to reflect back on another year, on all the things I wanted to accomplish but did not. I guess that's why I admire dogs so much. They don't dwell on the past or the future. With them, it's just the present. It's raining today. We're going for a ride in the car today. And once that day is over, the focus simply shifts to the new day. There's a racoon in the yard or I have to go to the vet.

Dogs simply don't down a bottle of some potable and lament about lost opportuities, lost loves or having to eat dog food instead of turkey because the holiday leftovers are all gone now. They simply do what a lot of people are told--take things one day at a time. Breaking it up into manageable bits and pieces is easier, they tell us. Nobody has to tell dogs that. They just know.

I've often thought the world would be a better place if dogs ran it, if dogs had evolved into the dominant species instead of apes. Dogs are honest. There's no deception in them. If they hate you they'll growl or even try and bite you. If they love you, you'll be warmly greeted whether you've been gone for six hours or six months--no questions asked. That would be a better world, in my opinion, than the one we have created for ourselves. Maybe, after people are all killed off, God will give dogs a crack at things. They couldn't possibly do any worse.

We've had two dominant creatures on earth that I know of. First, we got dinosaurs. They ran things for millions of years. Things were probably pretty brutal back then, but there was an honesty to things.

Then, the dinosaurs all got killed off. I believed my whole life it was due to a meteor. When I was in school that theory was not accepted. It is now. They've even found the impact sight. Then, along came the apes. We haven't been around nearly as long as the dinosaurs were. I suspect the dinosaurs would be amazed at the world we've built. But, is it a better world? I think not.

And, what world would the dogs build? I have no idea. If you have a dog, as it sleeps, ask yourself what that dog is dreaming about. A new world, a new era or chasing a ball across a lawn? And is there any difference?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's me, Karl. Happy New Year

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

I love the holidays. I especially like all the pretty lights they put up. One of the strangest traditions I still don’t get is the fruitcakes. People get them, then almost immediately pawn them off on someone else. I think fruit cake is simply wonderful. I wish those people would send them all to me if they don’t want them. We didn’t have anything nearly this good back in the cretaceous–nothing even close. Of course, we didn’t have stoves to cook things on. They hadn’t been invented yet. If I’d had something like fruitcake, the dinosaurs would’ve been lined up for blocks to buy them. Of course, dinosaurs didn’t have money back then because that hadn’t been invented either.

Dave, who I’m filling in for, sometimes makes a most wonderful fruitcake. It’s steamed, the way God intended [That’s what he says]. He says they’re the best in the world. I know they’re awfully good. He says his mother used to buy fruitcake from some place in Texas, then decided Dave’s fruitcake was better. The problem, as I see it, is Dave doesn’t make enough of them. I should go to that place in Texas. I’ll bet I could eat all of the ones they have.

Another tradition I don’t really understand is the Jewish Hanukkah. It sees like a lot of bother to get everyone together and light all the candles, then everybody just runs off and leaves. That’s what happened. I was out looking at Christmas lights and I looked in these people’s window and they all suddenly ran away. Not much of a celebration, if you ask me.

Well, Happy New Year. Until next time...

Friday, December 28, 2012

A tale of two westerns (sort of)

I watched two weird westerns on Christmas. One was excellent, a fine example of the genre. The other, what a lot of people think of when they think of weird westerns–pure crap. These were visual, filmed stories. I usually talk about literary weird westerns. There are actually tons of filmed tales out there, which was why I was amazed at how ignorant a lot of film critics were about the WW genre when Cowboys & Aliens came out.

Anyway, the good example took place in a town called Mercy. It was an honest to goodness weird western storyline by BBC mega star Dr. Who. I don’t think they’ve ever done that before, though I do have a fuzzy memory of one of the older doctors in some western town. In this one, an alien cyborg is hunting down another alien in a little western town out in the middle of nowhere. I loved it. It originally aired earlier this year. They reran it as a lead up to the Christmas special (which had nothing to do with westerns).

The other one was a free movie offered by the folks at Comcast. I think there’s a reason why it was free. Some guy goes back in time and doesn’t really belong there. I’ve seen this loser plotline too many times to count. It never works. And I am not going to say the name of the movie. If you like bad weird westerns, find it yourself.

God bless us everyone.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Going Concern?

With the recent launch of Gunslingers & Ghost Stories I sought out some book stores that carry a lot of horror books. I found one online list and selected 20 stores. When I checked their respective websites, it was obvious half of them were out of business. People just never update their lists.

Of the remainging ten, 8 of them were not encouraging or had no contact information, so I did not contact them. It's amazing how many so-called businesses refuse to put any contact information on their websites. What are they afraid of?

This left just two stores. Their websites would appear to be ongoing businesses. I wrote to them. Both letters were returned as undeliverable. This is truly amazing to me, that people can't shut down their websites or at least put up a banner that says OUT OF BUSINESS. So, my list of 20 stories culled down to absoluterly zero. I shan't try this avenue again.

I know the odds are low with this type of marketing. I do it because people cannot buy your product if they don't know about it. Although, they also can't buy it if they're no longer in business. It seems a lot of book dealers have gone belly up. The Census Bureau actually says brick and mortar book stores are still selling a lot of the books, but not the ones I tried to contact.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Our Beloved Post Office

As I've said before, the Postal Service works in mysterious ways. Very mysterious. They sell Prority Mail as a 2 to 3 day service. Out of four packages sent Priority Mail this month, one to Chicago took 8 days; One to New York City took 7; one to Denver took 5 days (Denver is only 100 miles away) and one to California took 3 days. So, only one in four packages arrived on time. Of course "It's not guaranteed." Boy, that's for sure. If they guaranteed it they'd go broke. Wait, they're broke anyway. Thanks to the wonders of delivery confirmation, it removes all doubt of what a crummy job they do.

Even though it costs more, I send more and more stuff UPS. The three packages I sent UPS all arrived on time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pred Poll

The Predators & Editors Poll is now up. If you have any thoughts about stories or books you've read in 2012 you can vote for them in a number of categories.

By the way, there's a new Dr. Who Christmas special airing tonight on the BBC Channel.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Guess Who's Comin to Town ?

I wonder who came up with Santa Claus. It’s a bizarre concept: Some fat old guy likes having children sit on his lap, and he can watch them sleeping and knows everything about them. It sort of sounds like he should be in a sex offender registry.

Santa has not given me a present in 47 years. Somehow, I doubt he’s going to bring me one tonight. When I was informed by my mother that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, I wasn’t really all that surprised. I’d been suspicious for some time. They tell you the bad kids don’t get any presents–yet the kid two doors down was evil incarnate and he always got better presents than I did.

Now, I was really bummed to find out about the Easter Bunny. I just loved hunting for Easter eggs and that was a major let down.

Some advice for writers. My science fiction novel Adventures in the Secret Police has Santa Claus as a character. This turned out to be a major disaster. It was attacked relentlessly with the constant “We don’t do seasonal material.” The problem was, and is, it’s not about Christmas in any way. Christmas is never mentioned. But, the mere mention of Santa gets a book shitcanned. It’s available now [the cover's lower on this page], but it never got much attention and was never taken seriously. So, my advice is don’t put seasonal entities in your book, regardless of why they’re there. In this case, Santa is the villain and Mr. North from the Secret Police is trying to stop him and his evil plot. AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHRISTMAS.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

If it happened today

I do not know the original author of this. It's been around the Internet for a while. I thought I'd repost it. Merry Christmas one and all

If it all happened today...

Nazareth Carpenter Being Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the World

I remember back a few years ago when the president of the company I worked at came up to me and asked me to write up something on the Mayan calendar and the end of the world. Well, I got right on it. The gist of my conclusions were that people were taking advantage of the fact that few people on Earth could read the Mayan language, ergo they were taking liberties with things. The basis of this was that there was more than one calendar. There was the short calendar, which was lunar based and was pretty much like any calendar. Larry’s birthday is next week. We plant in two weeks. That sort of thing. Then there was the long calendar that dealt with cycles and bad times like droughts and times of prosperity. I equated it to something like the Farmer’s Almanac. My conclusion was people were reading things into it that simply were not there. I don’t know if he liked my essay, but that was what I did. By the way, I was working at a shuttle transportation company and neither my job nor anything the company did had anything to do with Mayans.

Some of the crackpot squad since then started elaborating on the doomsday theory by filling in details such as some planet called Nibiru is going to crash into the earth. NASA insists there is no such planet and if there was one it would have shown up long before now. With thousands of telescopes worldwide trained on the night sky, I suspect NASA is probably right.

So, in the final hours of Earth, I’ll just say this. The calendar ends. You just restart it. You just start over. It’s not that frigging complicated.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great Performances?

Going through school, as many schools do, I recall certain pageants that were put on. They weren’t really plays so much, as some sort of event on stage. My first outing in costume was as a horse’s ass. I think that one was in the second grade, but the years are sort of blurred. Some might say I’m still a horse’s ass, but I think that has different meaning. Yep, I was paired with some guy who had a horse head and I followed him around the stage. It’s not easy being the horse’s ass. [And that may be why there was a sketch on a Benny Hill episode I always thought was hilarious when, during a play, the front half of the horse started cutting farts and the back end broke away and ran off] But, there is limited artistic fulfillment for even a second grader, in playing a horse’s ass.

Then, there was some Thanksgiving based holiday deal around third or fourth grade when I was a Pilgrim. There were three of us with wooden axes. We marched across the stage swinging our axes as if we were chopping down trees. That was it.

So, I don’t think the elementary teachers had much confidence in me as an actor with such challenging roles. Our family moved from Texas to California in fifth grade. I moved from bit parts to stage crew. I moved some of the scenery in the fifth grade butchering of A Christmas Carol, which was far more ambitious than the earlier crap. That was a real play.

Then, in the sixth grade, I got to run the lights. That was way cool. The play, a bizarre one about some toyland, was incomprehensible, but the lights were great. We had pink ones and blue ones and a big huge bright one from the back of the room. And I didn’t screw it up or anything.

Then, in junior high, I didn’t do any plays or such. Don’t remember why. In high school I didn’t either, but mostly because they kept having the most bizarre plays that did not in any way seem fun–like one on the Scopes Monkey Trial and another based on the Orwell novel 1984. They were awful and I steered clear of them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I don't know why, but every time I have to go somewhere in the winter the weather always turns awful. I know, I live in Colorado and should expect that. Even back a zillion years ago in California, it was the same deal. I'd look at the long range forecast, book a trip to somewhere like Reno, then the weather pattern would abruptly change and there's suddenly two feet of snow in the forecast.

So, off I got to Denver today for a medical appointment. The forecast was fine when I made the appointment. Now, I'm likely driving through a blizzard.

Monday, December 17, 2012


I got asked to speak on weird western horror recently. I enjoy speaking on stuff like this, though I do not often get the chance. Some outfit over in Grand Junction invited me.

The last time I gave a talk, not counting con or book readings, was about three years ago. The Denver Area Science Fiction Association invited me to speak. Well, I got some incomplete directions, then got lost and showed up half an hour late. They never invited me back. Can't say as I blame them.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


One of the things that I dislike about living in ski country is the cost of everything. Whenever I go to other places, like Phoenix or any other city, I often do a double take at the prices of everything. Stuff is always cheaper. Even in Denver stuff is cheaper--whether that be food or gasoline. The people who study this stuff say healthcare is cheaper there as well. It's harder to compare things like healthcare, though I do not doubt the findings.

That said, one can't simply hop in the Ford and drive to Denver to satisfy a hankering for tacos. But, as I think about expenditures for next year, I am tempted to figure out the cheapest place in America and go there for summer vacation. Alas, that's not quite as simple as one might think. Lodging, food, entertainment, transportation are all somewhat different entities. One place may have the best deal in food, but be astronomical in terms of transportation, for example. If I figure out the answer to this riddle, I'll declare my findings in a later post.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shopping Daze

One wonderful, incredible thing my family did many years ago was we stopped giving gifts at Christmas. I already know what I'm getting this year--nothing. It's simply wonderful. Last weekend I was in Denver. I was amazed at how crowded the parking lot was at one of the malls. And I simply drove on by. I did not need to buy anything. It was simply wonderful.

I don't really know exactly why, but I do know that most everyone never seemed to like the gifts they got. So, we just stopped exchanging gifts one year. Everyone, with the possible exception of the dog, was delighted. No hassle. No wrapping gifts. No returning unwanted gifts. It was wonderful. [The dog sure enjoyed getting presents, though.]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ripped Off One Book at a Time

Technology moves on. I've known for some time that my first published novel was something of a rip off. I've written it off to lessons learned and moved on. That book is no longer in print and I have nothing further to do with my former publisher.

I never got paid a penny in royalties, yet books were sold. What I find interesting is that I can now detect way more library sales than I was aware of back then. My library can now let me scan the country and see what other libraries have my books. And there are way more copies of it in libraries than I realized. I mean, I'm glad people are able to read my book and all, but the magnitude of the fraud is much greater than I realized. So, it's bittersweet to say the least.

Note to newby writers: do not sign a deal with an out of state publisher that you may not have recourse over unless you're certain they're solvent and honest. And always get an attorneys fee clause in the contract.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I really wanted to have something to say about yesterday's date of 12-12-12. Alas, I could not come up with anything to say about it. It's the last time this happens until the next century. We went through 1-1-1 to 2-2-2 and up to 12-12. But there is no thirteenth month so that's the end of it.

I knew someone who was going to run around yesterday writing checks 12-12-12 at the store and post office. I told him that's stupid. Nobody cares. Don't know if he did it. Sometimes, I wonder what it's like to be a dullard.

So, have a doughnut.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Spanish Lessons Right Here

We haven't done Spanish lessons in a while. Here are some useful phrases in Spanish.

Aliens fathered my child
Aliens padre de mi hijo

What aisle is the poison at?
¿Qué es el pasillo de envenenamiento al?

The man cannot find the dead body
El hombre no puede encontrar el cadáver

Is there rat meat in the sandwich?
¿Hay meat rata en el sándwich?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spam Awardz

I said last week that I think most of the people soliciting me to read their book or story are delusional. There is no way on earth most of these people are going to win a Stoker Award. Well, the deluge of pitches just keeps coming. I honestly think someone must be selling the HWA mailing list, though the powers that be keep insisting that is not the case.

In general, I really hate spam. The problem is it's so blasted cheap to send out. Over at SF Trails I've sent out limited emails to people that have some involvement with SF Trails, but I even feel guilty sending those out.

So, I guess the time has come for the email ad people to have the SPAM Awards. Categories could include best pop up spam, best spam disguidsed as a bank statement, most annoying spam, and most poorly designed and ineffective spam (I'd nominate most of the Stoker spam in this category).

Monday, December 10, 2012


I never had much doubt that some of my internet activity included being spied on. This is done in the name of marketing and includes things like this blog. What I found a little strange and unnerving was what happened last week. My car was smashed by somebody, so it went to the body shop for a few days. I got a rental car for the duration. It was a Mazda--a nice car. What I thought was odd was the fact that there were suddenly Mazda car ads every time I serched on Google. How could they, our overlords at Google, know about the fact that I rented a car at Enterprise? It seems too much Big Brotther,yet there it was.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Laws of Physics

Well, our first major snow storm arrived Saturday. I was in Denver attending a reading of Gunslingers & Ghost Stories. On the way back home there were cars in ditches everywhere. The road was quite icy and very slick. And, just like every year, most of the cars in the ditches were four wheel drive SUV's because the people who drive them seem to always think the laws of physics don't apply to these cars. Well, you can have all the acceleration on ice you want, but four by four doesn't stop any better than any other car. Twas a good night for being in the tow truck biz.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Well, tomorrow, Saturday the 8th, there will be a reading from Gunslingers & Ghost Stories at the Broadway Book Mall in Denver at 2 PM. To those Denver area folks come on by. We have four local authors scheduled to read. I'm not exactly sure what my role is, as I'm not reading because I do not have a story in the book. I'm just the editor.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


For the past few months I’ve been getting pitch after pitch wanting me to read this story or that book. There have been so many I’ve lost count. I get these pitches because I’m a member of the HWA and the HWA hands out the Stoker Awards. The process is complicated, but there’s a nomination process and a voting process. The thing is, and I hate to say it, but most of these people pitching me to read their books are delusional. They have absolutely no chance in hell of winning a Stoker or any other literary award.

Now, I’d like to have a Stoker. Wouldn’t mind a Pulitzer or a Nobel Prize, either. But, at least I have sense enough to know it’s not going to happen. However, all this thinking about awards has convinced me what is needed is a weird western award. The thing is, I have to figure out the details. But a weird western is never going to win a horror award or a science fiction award because they depart too far from the statistical mean, if that makes any sense. They’re too damn offbeat to win a mainstream award. There’s a lot of details of what to call it and what kind of prize to give out. I was thinking of calling it the Haakon, short for Haakon Jones, the primary character of the late Aaron B. Larson. We could give people a certificate run off on my home computer and a five dollar McDonald’s gift certificate. Then people could call themselves an award winning writer.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


For the past few years I've bought a calendar from a comany called Browntrout. It's been their Flying Saucer Calendar. Now, suddenly, I can't get one. I'm kind of bummed. I've checked everyone's website and there just isn't one anymore. There's a picture of the cover, but actual copies of the calendar simply do not exist. It's like they announced it and never printed it. I'd think there would be enough space aliens to buy them that they'd have a ready market. So, I guess I'll find something else. Back a long time ago I made my own calendars. But, alas, I just don't seem to want to bother anymore. Maybe I won't even get one.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Doctor Woo and the Green Hornet

I was thinking I would do the Dr. Who show if Matt Smith ever leaves. Of course, I'm not British and have no acting experience. I wonder if that might be a problem. Probably not. Seriously, I'd like to write an episode, though. That would be way cool.

Speaking of writing for the screen, I haven't really found anyone very enthusiastic about The Green Hornet versus the Frito Bandito. I think it would be a huge blockbuster.

Oh, that's not a typo up top. My latest crackpot idea was a Chinese Timelord called Dr. Woo who wanders around the universe in a Chinese Junk that's really a time machine.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Review Science Fiction Trails 8

There's a new review up at SF Site.

Science Fiction Trails #8


A review by Sandra Scholes

The art for this issue's cover is a new look at a character from an old story, the original robot was on the cover of issue #4 and, as it is out of print, fellow artist and writer for Science Fiction Trails, Laura Givens thought it would be a good idea to bring the artwork and the pesky character back for another airing. The theme this time around seems to be on alternate worlds. The emphasis is still on science fiction mixed with the westerns, but this was thrown in at the last minute and gave the whole magazine a new edge they thought readers would enjoy. Other interesting features include dinosaurs, steampunk and alchemy, something that issue #7 was notable for.

"Pirates of the Ozarks" by Lou Antonelli

This story starts out as a report directly for the President about the US Navy's attempts at stopping the pirate captain and his infamous men from ruining their trade and commerce routes. Lou Antonelli carefully crafts this tale with vigour, and gives the reader a rather nice twist at the end.

"Greenhorns" by William K.D. Wood

When Benjamin and Caleb stumble onto the body of a charred woman, Caleb thinks the culprits are the Indians, but Benjamin thinks it is unlikely as it seems as though something has fallen from the sky. In fact, whoever or whatever had done this had burned her clothes, and even her jewellery had melted. It is then the guys feel they are left with a real mystery on their hands. William K.D. Wood uses the fear factor to keep the interest with this one, as he puts the two of them in the danger zone when they do find who killed the woman. Don't read it with the lights on.

"The Great Colorado Gold Company" by Raymond Broadbeard

Seth Wilmouth doesn't like being interrupted when he wants to have fun with Hope, a pretty little redhead who works the Glenroad Saloon. She deserved her ingot after the night she gave him, but the appearance of Jacey J.Hartley makes him feel uneasy. There is something weird about the man, and he doesn't seem to understand other's privacy when he wants to do business. Raymond Broadbeard's story is a short one, but it does have a funny and satisfying ending that will leave you smiling.

These are some of the best stories in this issue, and science fiction does meet the Wild West and turns it around in a fresh new way. The stories are getting better each time, and it is a delight to see that David B. Riley keeps the same writers as he has established them right from the beginning.

Readers of the magazine will also enjoy Karl's Corner where the dinosaur sheriff catches up on his mail for the week. It's a nice spoof sandwiched between all the serious stories to lighten the mood. The author's notes that come with this issue are also of interest as they let the readers know how the writers have strived to verify the truth of their content, and research as best they can for the stories. Notes on where the stories have appeared before are helpful as readers might want to investigate those publications as well. Science Fiction Trails doesn't stray away from humour, as there is also a cartoon all about Outlaw Al and his escapades -- and he isn't as lucky as many might think.

Tasty biscuits

Yesterday I had some biscuits for breakfast. They had some butter on them. They were really good. I made them myself out of some baking mix I bought at the store. I had some sausage with them. It was turkey sausage. I kind of like turkey sausage. It was a really good breakfast. I also had some orange juice. I like orange juice. I prefer the kind that doesn't have any pulp in it.

There's a restaurant that does really good breakfasts. It's called Cracker Barrel. We don't have one anywhere around here. I sure wish we did. I guess until we get one, I'll have to keep making my own biscuits. There's an image of doughnuts below because I didn't have an image of biscuits.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Another review of Low Noon

There's a new review of Low Noon out. This is shortened hence the . . . that indicate a gap. Why do they do that? Well, Fair Use of Copyright laws allow you to quote brief passages of things like reviews, such as the few sentences here. If I reprinted the entire review somebody could make a fderal csse out of it and that could be a bad thing. So, read the magazine if you want the entire review.

A collection of twelve stories, all of which use the Old West as the backdrop to tell their tales. As you can imagine these stories are filled with murder, mayhem, other worldly vengeance, Native American mysticism and even the old horror stalwart–vampires make an appearance... Low Noon is an enjoyable read. I like mixing the westerns and light horror. All contributions to this collection should be proud. This is the third collection of stories released by Science Fiction Trails, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

- Shawn Oetzel
Tales of The Talisman vol viii no 2

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Copies Away

Well, I've shipped off the copies of the new anthology Gunslingers & Ghost Stories. I always enjoy the physical process of preparing the packages for the contributor and review copies and sending them off. With that one act, there's a completeness of the process that started sometime back with an idea, then guidlines posted, then reading the stories that came in, then sending out contracts, then editing and cover design issues. Then, poof, it's suddenly done. The book is now in the hands of the readers. They can buy it or not, but the power has shifted from me to them. The readers are in control of the fate of the book now.

This book is a little different. It's slightly smaller than its predecessors, Low Noon and Six Guns Straight From Hell. It lacks a story by yours truly. I did not toss in one of my tales this time. I'm just the editor (and publisher). And, I honestly do not know if it will be the last book I publish. The sales of the previous book, Low Noon, have been so bad that I almost didn't do this one. But I've always wanted to do a collection of ghost stories, as opposed to western horror in general, so I thought I'd give it one more shot. Time will tell, I suppose.

Four of the contributing authors, the Colorado contingent, will be doing a reading Saturday, December 8th at 2pm at Broadway Book Mall in Denver. That may prove interesting. All four of the Colorado writers are women. My experience in this weird western area is that it is not nearly as male dominted as librarians, reviewers and bookstore buyers seem to believe. Of the direct buyers who I send copies directly to (as opposed to the ones sold through distributors) are two-to-one women. I don't know if that statistic has any profound significance, I simply mention it.

My western sci fi magazine, Science Fiction Trails, continues. I could use more readers there as well, but it's kind of found its own niche. I believe it to be the only regularly publishing western sci fi magazine in existence. It has different issues affecting its future than the books do. There, sales are stronger but it remains a challenge to obtain quality stories.

The two different products remind me of parallel universes in some ways. They don't seem to feed or support each other. Although ads have featured the books in some of the Science Fiction Trails issues, I don't think they've generated many sales. Nor do I think the books have had any positive effects on the magazine. It's like two different businesses in many ways, with each having less and less to do with the other. 2013 will be a watershed year as far as my publishing endeavors. What future projects are undertaken is now in the hands of the readers more than in my hands.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One Down, Two to Go

Well, at least Thanksgiving is out of the way. That's a big five days where you can't get anything done. I've come to view holidays as more of a nuisance than anything. Next comes Christmas, where people spend too much money on things they don't need and can't afford. Then New Years hits a week after that. A nothing holiday where you can't get anything done, but at least it's not very expensive unless you make the mistake of trying to travel.

What have all three got in common? Travel is awful. If the crowds and parking hassles at the airport don't do you in, then the weather will get you for sure. I know I sound like a Grinch, but I really do not like this time of year. So, I thought I'd get all of my complaining in one blog entry and I should be good for a few months.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guest Blogger Karl

Hi, it’s me, Karl.

I’m guest blogging today, too. There’s this show on television about finding Bigfoot. These people go around and stand in the woods at night and hope to find one. Well, they don’t seem to have much luck. Their problem is, I don’t think they know how to hunt. That’s where I have an advantage. I was born to hunt. So, I set off into the Colorado wilderness to find a Bigfoot.

Boy is there a lot of wilderness. No wonder nobody can find one. My first day out, I scared the crap out of some elk hunter. Boy, was he surprised when I can out of the trees instead the elk he was hoping for. He left his horse and campsite behind and everything. Just ran away.

So, off I went in search of Bigfoot. The first night nothing happened. It was just completely boring. Then, the second night I heard some knocking on some tree. I knocked back. I can pinpoint a sound from an amazing distance so I headed for it. Well, the knocking stopped. I couldn’t find anything out there. Then, on the third night, I heard something howling that sounded like a Bigfoot. So, I gave out a loud roar. Boy, after that I didn’t hear anything else all night. These things sure aren’t very sociable. I grabbed myself an elk for breakfast, then headed on home. Maybe I’ll try again sometime, but I’m starting to wonder if there really are Bigfoots. Of course, they’re probably saying the same things about me.

Until next time...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Guest Blogger Karl

Hi, it's me, Karl.

I'm guest blogging today. Back in the cretaceous it didn’t snow very much. But, every now and then it would. It was kind of fun when I was little. I could slide down hills with my brother. Being a dinosaur, I just had to turn over on my back and go. It was lots of fun.

We didn’t have Thanksgiving back then. But, I remember one year there was a fire and we came along and found some dinosaur that got itself trapped in a canyon and burnt to a crisp. That was my first taste of cooked dinosaur. It was positively delicious. From that day on, if I ever saw smoke, I headed toward the fire, hoping I’d find something mother nature had cooked for me. Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. But there was always that hope. I wish I’d understood more about how fire worked. I would’ve started up a dino version of Denny’s and really cleaned up. Predators would have some from miles away to eat cooked dinosaur that you didn’t have to fight with to get it to die. But, who knew?

Nowadays, folks just drive down to the diner or go to the grocery store and get what they want to eat. It’s great, though I sure wish they sold triceratops at Kroger. Every Thanksgiving I find myself thinking about the fire cooked one I had 60 million years ago. I guess it’s comfort food and we all think back to our youth. For some folks it’s cherry pie. Others think back to that roast or ham in the oven. For me, it’s that smoldering triceratops that I long for. Well, I’m not likely to find any. But I’ve got this catalog full of sausages and yule logs and I guess that’ll have to do.

Until next time.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Philosopher King

“I bet Einstein turned himself all sorts of colors before he invented the light bulb.”

I often wonder if, say in 10,000 years, future anthropoligists will find the teachings of Homer Simpson and if it will spawn a new religion as future people are amazed at the wisdom of this wise man from the distant past.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Shopping

In addition to Kindle, I've been adding stuff to Nook at Barnes & Noble as well. Right now they've got my novella, The Pirate Dogs; My story collection Grumpy Gaines, Texas Ranger; My new anthology Gunslingers & Ghost Stories; Low Noon: Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy From the Weird Weird West; and a few issues of Science Fiction Trails. Whilst I'm delighted to have more places people can get stuff, I'm not convinced this will do much good. Low Noon and Six Guns Straight From Hell, my other anthologies, have only sold a couple of copies in print at It's striking how much more Amazon sells than Barnes & Noble.

In all honesty, I've given up trying to figure out why people buy on one site and not another. As far as ebooks go, I've come to like Nook better than Kindle.

Over at Science Fiction Trails, we once had it set up so people could buy online and pay through PayPal. Hardly anyone ever did. So, we got rid of that option. It simply wasn't worth the trouble. We now have a link to our entire offerings at Amazon and a few folks do actually seem to be using that option.

And, this holiday season, if you want our print books, which is still my preference, you can pick them up at your local Amazon Store. They're right next to the pickles.

So, on Black Friday & Cyber Monday, we're ready for folks. They can buy print or ebooks. Happy shopping.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cooking turkey

As I've mentioned before, my mesquite grilled turkeys are the best in the world. No one on this earth can cook a turkey better than I can. Still it's interesting how many variations on turkey cooking there are.

When I was young, our family often went to our grantmother's house in Arkansas. Gradma was a really sweet lady, but her turkey's were just dreadful. She always bought turkeys that were too big. They dried out and got tough long before they were done. I hated turkey when I was young because I'd never had one cooked well.

If we weren't going to Arkansas, then my mom would cook one. It would be smaller, but my mom made two mistakes with them. She cooked them at too high a heat and the meat got tough. And, she always put stuffing inside them. This makes the cooking time increase. And the product is crap. My mom really just wanted stuffing and couldn't care less about the actual turkey. It showed.

At some point, after the people at General Foods came up with Stove Top stuffing, I was able to get my mom to try cooking one without stuffing inside. It was a huge improvement. It cooked much faster and better.

Then, God told me to go forth into the world and cook with mesquite charcoal. I started cooking nearly everything with mesquite charcoal. Ribs, steaks, ham and even the plain old hamburger. They were all wonderful--each superbly prepared and absolutely delicious. So, it was a natural progression, that I decided to cook a turkey. I'd never cooked anything so big before. I had to redsign how I laid out the charcoal. More attention was needed to banking the coals and keeping the fire even and hot. Then I lit the fire and soon placed the bird on top of the grill. Now that the stuffing was no longer an impediment, I hoped the turkey would cook thoroughly and not get burnt. Boy, was I on to something. The dog parked himself next to the grill and guarded it. The smell was the most intoxicating thing he'd ever inhaled. And, soon it was done. I carved it and served it to the family members present [and I gave the dog some too. He'd protected it with his life, afterall]. It was simply wonderful. It was better than any variation on turkey I'd ever tasted.

Since then, I've tried fried turkey, solar baked turkey, Chinese style turkey [turkeys are not native to China]. None of them, none of them, held a candle to my mesquite grilled turkey.

So, as you stuff your faces with turkey, just remember that your turkey is not nearly as well prepared as mine is. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Ghost Friday

As I've said before, I've been on a ghost kick lately. That's culminated in my new anthology, Gunslingers & Ghost Stories which can be picked up at your local Amazon store. They keep them right next to the pickles.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was talking ghosts with a family friend two days before Halloween. I started to rattle on about the mysterious black ghosts and how there are more pictures of them as there are more cameras capable of low light photography. People didn't used to think they existed. Now there are lots of pictures of them and it's kind of creepy. Well, somehow, she thought that black ghosts are the ghosts of black people. I don't think so. I don't understand ghosts. But I don't see where one's race or ethnicity would have anything to do with it. And that was kind of the end of it.

But, there are black ghosts in my new anthology. And Chinese ghosts. And lots of cowboy ghosts. I hope people like all the ghosts.

So, I was thinking, it would be neat to open a chain of haunted hotels. And then people could check in and get the crap scared out of them. I figure we could send psychics around to recruit the ghosts to come to the hotels and haunt them. Well, that's my latest crackpot idea, anyway. I'm sure the first Paranormal Place will be opening near you before you know it. The ad possibilities are endless: Do you like taking a shower with someone watching--we can make it happen. Want a wake up call when there is no phone--we can make it happen. Like falling asleep to the sound of rattling chains--we can make it happen. Stay at Parnormal Place, the hotels where some of our guests never check out.

And, another great idea is Walmart could save even more money on wages by hiring zombies as cashiers. Wait, I think they already have. More on that idea later.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Well, Thanksgiving is coming up fast. It's everyone's favorite four day holiday. It's really almost a five day fest. You can hardly get anything done from the Wednesday before until the Monday after. No way are you shipping UPS. Nor shall you get any type of medical procedure unless you're wheeled into an ER from an ambulance. All in the name of stuffing our faces. I don't have any plans for the event. I can't say as I really like holidays. I've come to view them as something of a nuissance.

I used to cook awesome turkeys on Thanksgiving. In fact, I think my mesquite grilled turkeys were the best in the world. Alas, I haven't cooked one in quite some time. So, enjoy your holiday or don't. And remember that I can cook a better turkey than you can.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weird Westerns

I’ve been reading a book called The Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns by Paul Green. One thing that continues to amaze me is how many people seem to have no clue of just how much stuff is out there in this genre. I recently posted a recent review by Blood Moon Rising. I appreciated their kind words concerning Low Noon, though I was disappointed that they seemed to think there was something rare or unusual with these type of stories. I’d like to encourage people to have a look at this book and also look at a site called if, for no other reason, to see just how many of these stories exist. I found quite a few things, especially in film, that were even new to me.

And, I noted a brief mention of my Weird Western novel, The Two Devils in the book. [The Two Devils has since been combined with two other books and reprinted as The Devil Draws Two.] I also noted a reference to The Weird Western Adventures of Haakon Jones by the late Aaron B. Larson, which I consider to be the best single author anthology from this genre. The Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns is available from many libraries.

My point here is weird westerns go way back. They’re not new and they’re sure not that rare.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Well, Texas wants to seceed from the Union. They don't seem to remember things too well. They should look back around 1861, in particular.

Now, it wouldn't bother me at all if they left. We could move the border patrol to the New Mexico and Oklahoma borders, start charging duties and tariffs on Texas made goods, and wait for Mexico to annex them. It seems like a win win to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reading stuff

Lately, I've been getting a lot of free books. Apprently, because I edit a science fiction magazine, I get them. I think it's kind of stupid to send unsolicited books to editors who haven't asked for them. Science Fiction Trails doesn't currently do reviews, so I don't see the purpose other than these people don't have a clue who they're sending them to. I also get them because I'm a member of the HWA--an active member, which means I can vote for the Stoker Awards. I figure I've got at least a year's backlog of stuff to read.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to thin out some of this stuff. I put up some of the books I'm not likely to get around to reading for sale on Amazon and eBay. I made about $75. Not bad. Now some people may frown on this, but I never asked for any of these books--not one. If I had solicited them, then I'd feel obligated to read them. As I didn't, I do not.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Zombie Hoard

I haven't written about The Walking Dead in some time. I just love that show. I never really liked zombie movies or even zombie stories. Then along comes this TV show and everything changed. I find the show absolutely addictive. I don't think I'm alone. It's become hugely popular. The one thing I'd still like to know is what caused the zombies. Was it some germ warfare experiment gone bad or some act of God? Well two things. I'd also like to know what happened to the guy who saved Rick back in the first episode?

Now advance to reality (sort of).

I've long believed that when the zombies or roving bands or whatever come, those who hord supplies will simply be the victims. They will be targets and they will be hunted down and killed and their supplies taken. Mobile and adaptable people will be the ones who survive, not the ones hiding in the bunkers. Find the bunker's air intake and it's all over for those inside. So, I'll take my chances on the outside.

I once worked at a place where, on the next piece of land over, some guy lived in a bunker. If you went out to your car, a TV camera followed you. I thought that, if the roving hords come, I'd rather be in the hord. This guy would be easy pickings. I'd simply go find a welding torch in the maintenance building, cut open his hatch and drop a homemade bomb down in the hole. Then, whatever supplies were there would be mine.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


One of the more frustrating things about putting out magazines and books is the fact that so many writers can't be bothered to help promote them. They flat out refuse to even do so much as mention them on a blog or website. And, God forbid, we could never plug them at a con or do a reading. No one is contracted to do anything. My projects, alas, don't pay pro rates and I can't compel anybody to help promote a project. Still, it's nice when they do.

Now, fast forward to the new anthology. Gunslingers & Ghost Stories, which is coming out in just a few weeks. This one has a different mix of writers than the past projects. There's already been more pre-release publicity and various expressions of enthusiasm for this one than the last three books combined. I'm kind of stoked.

I also have a unique situation as far as Denver area publicity that I'm not entirely sure how to harness. I have four contributing writers from the Denver area. That's not unique. The unique part is they're all women. There must be a publicity angle here, though I haven't quite figured it out. In the meantime, we're set up for a reading at Broadway Book Mall on December 8th. I'm hoping we can organize at least one other event. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weather Wonderland

Well, as I write this, our first winter storm is moving into the area. It's been a mild autumn. I was running around yesterday in a short sleeve shirt. I don't recall it ever being this warm this late in November before. Of course, I live in ski country and most folks are obsessed with snowfall and feel it's high time to get that show on the road. Skiers won't come if there isn't snow on the slopes.

My own personal view is all you can do about the weather is cuss. My father taught me that.

And that leads me to today's writing observation. Weather can be a pivotal part of a story, but it seldom is. A driving snowstorm or broiling summer heat can really impact a story. Yet it's rarey used much as a story element.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Doing Time

I've never been a huge fan of time travel stories, especially as short stories. I guess I've always felt the concept was more of a crutch for a novice writer than a useful story technique. Short stories, unlike dramatic productions such as Doctor Who, just don't make it in this medium, at least not as I see it. That in mind, I got a short story time travel piece the other day that was really good. It had this guy who travelled through time photographing people just as they were assassinated.

Problem was, I'd seen it before. That really ticks me off and it seems to be getting more common--writers fraudulantly misrepresenting their stories as original when they're, in reality, reprints. It's called fraud. I wish I could call up the goon squad and have the guy who sent it to me worked over, but I don't have a goon squad. It's no wonder so many editors get cynical and jaded.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Deficit Reduction Plan

I’ve been thinking of ways to reduce the deficit. This is what I’ve come up with.

Watch your favorite cabinet member sleep. Yep, they can install infra red cameras and people could pay to watch cabinet members sleep.

Instead of hauling reporters around in the back of Air Force One, they could sell tickets and haul paying passengers around.

The Army could sell tank rides. For an extra price, they could let you blow up something.

They could let people log into our spy satellites. At first this may not seem like much, but if you live across the street from some hot looking blond girl who likes to sunbathe nude, this could have some real potential.

Instead of paying Secret Service agents to drive the President around, they could let citizen volunteers do it. (I’d be happy to volunteer).

Instead of using expensive supply ships to bring out food to the fleet, the Navy could issue sailors rods & reels and the sailors could eat the catch of the day.

They could build some fake UFOs and charge the UFO nuts to ride in a bus out to Area 51 and look at them.

The Treasury could charge people and let them put their picture on money. So, you could have Warren Buffet on the twenty and Bill Gates on the five dollar bill.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hey Foreign People

I thought I'd make a shout out to people not living in the USA. At Science Fiction Trails, where I am publisher, we used to get sales from overseas, then that all kind of stopped. We haven't seen a UK order in over a year through any of our distribution channels. It's been even longer for an order from Australia. We've never sold a book in Canada. I think part of that is the rising cost of international mail. And the US Postal Service has announced another rate increase. In many cases, it costs more to ship a book than the books themselves cost. So, I'm not surprised we don't see foreign orders.

However, we have more options through Amazon than ever. Our products are all available from Amazon UK & Amazon Europe just like locally sold books. We now have unprecidented ebook distribution. Some of our titles are available on Nook as well as Kindle and more will be available soon. And, I've discovered a marvelous retailer that actually ships worldwide. It's called the Book Depository and they offer free shipping anywhere.

So, it seems like now is a great time to order little Billy's copy of Science Fiction Trails or a nice horror anthology for Grandma's Christmas stocking.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Yesterday I mentioned a new review of Low Noon, which I am editor. I think reviews are important, as people can't buy your book if they don't know about it. On the other hand, I've gotten a fair number of reviews in the past few years and they really have not generated that much in sales. I think there are reviews and there are reviews. Publishers Weekly and major papers like the New York Times have a lot of clout--especially with libraries and bookstores. Unfortunately, a lot of the small web based outfits seem to have little influence. Even our review of Six Guns Straight From Hell in the Denver Post (a large newspaper) did not really generate many sales (if any at all).

Science Fiction Trails is a case in point. It's gotten some decent reviews over the past few years (and a few nasty ones in its early days) yet I can't honestly say that's brought in very many sales. Likewise, if we were to start doing reviews in our magazine, I can't say that it would really do that much for the publications we reviewed. We do run ads and there isn't much evidence those ads have generated much in sales, either.

I don't have the answer to this. I just note that getting a review is not always that big a help in the sales game. My name's David and I approved this message.

Monday, November 5, 2012

new review

A new review out in the latest issue of Blood Moon Rising
Low Noon: Tales of Horror & Dark Fantasy by David B.
Riley (editor)
This is our second book by Riley and it is the second
collection of horror western to come from them to us. You
would never think of putting westerns and horror together but
apparently there is enough out there to bring us a second book.
It’s a good thing because Riley has put together another suc-
cessful collection (12 stories) that is a must read.
One of the stories I enjoyed was The Five Disciples. This
brings several genres together besides the western and horror
to blend into one action packed bloodfest. It tells the story of
Lone Crow, bounty hunter tracking down a killer when they are both set up by a
bewitching woman. In order to survive now, they must put aside their differences
to fight for survival. Can the good and bad trust each other another to live to see
another day?
I also enjoyed The Temptation of Darcy Morgan. This tells of a young lady
who deals cards for a saloon. A stranger comes into town and beats Darcy every
deal of the cards. Then he makes her a wager with a card game that can lead to
her never worrying about money again but at a cost of her town. Something is not
right and Darcy must figure it out before she loses everything and everyone she
cares about. This is a great story because it is not about action like the last story
but a battle of the mind.
Riley has put together a great selection of authors who give a variety of
stories, each one just as good as the next. They all give you a feeling of the west
while keeping the horror in that time and still making you feel it as a reader. I
recommend this book for anyone who wants something different with a quick
pace. You can get this at

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ghosts & Gunslingers

Well, there's a new anthology coming soon which I am editor. Just 11 stories about ghosts set in the Wild West. We'll have a signing in Denver on Saturday, December 8th.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunted Hotel Part 4

In celebration of Halloween, I’m retelling some things that happened while I worked at Lake Yellowstone Hotel some years ago.

Part 4: The Demonic Entity

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Haunted Hotel Part 3

In celebration of Halloween, I’m retelling some things that happened while I worked at Lake Yellowstone Hotel some years ago.

Part 3: The Mirror that Dripped Blood

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Haunted Hotel Part 2

In celebration of Halloween, I’m retelling some things that happened while I wroked at Lake Yellowstone Hotel some years ago.

Part 2: Early checkout

I found myself again working the graveyard shift at Lake Yellowstone Hotel. The lobby of the hotel is quite large. There are two wings of the hotel. One is accessed by a grand staircase that runs right down into the lobby area. The newer wing of the hotel is down a hallway and has an elevator.

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

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

“Is something wrong?” I asked.

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

I had already deduced that.

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

“I see,” said I. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

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

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Haunted Hotel Part 1

In honor of Halloween, I’m retelling some of my experiences at a haunted hotel in Wyoming. Some of these, some folks may have heard before.

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

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

A new desk clerk arrived on the scene. She mentioned seeing a ghost at a haunted house recently, before coming to Yellowstone. Since she hadn’t been there long enough to be corrupted by stories of our ghost, I decided to perform an experiment. I just asked her to walk the length of the building and see if anything turned up. I told her there was a rumor that the hotel was haunted, but nothing more. We went at midnight. That seems to be when ghostly entities like to conduct their business. As we walked by the specific room where most of the sightings had happened, she suddenly jerked. Goose bumps shot up on her arms. She told me something just touched her. I was over ten feet away and there wasn’t anybody else on the floor. We then went to the end of the hall. She turned around and gasped. By the time I turned around, there was nothing there. She told me she saw something, for only an instant, then precisely prescribed the same thing others kept seeing, a woman who looked like she was from the 1920's.
Lake Hotel, as it is informally called, sits right on the edge of Lake Yellowstone, one of the largest high altitude lakes in North America. The property is well maintained with on sight dining and bar. There is a large sun room on the ground floor where people can relax and listen to live music in the afternoons. This is a seasonal property, only open about six months of the year. It does not operate during the winter.

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

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Ghostly Gathering

Well, it's finally here. Tonight is "A Ghostly Gathering." I'll be reading ghost stories along with five other writers at Broadway Book Mall in Denver.

I sure hope it goes well because it was kind of my idea. I organized it. You never really know if people will show up for these things, but the price is right--free. A few of the participants are even good writers.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Holiday Numbers

Some interesting numbers from the US Postal Service. At least, I thought they were interesting.

The U.S. Postal Service delivers
nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail.
237 Number of years U.S. Postal Service has been delivering holiday cheer
17.9 billion Amount of cards, letters and packages to be delivered between Thanksgiving and
New Year’s Eve
658 million Number of pieces of mail processed on Dec. 17, the busiest mailing day of 2012
528 million Average number of pieces of mail processed daily
560 million Average number of pieces of mail processed daily during the holidays
29.5 million In pounds, the amount of mail the Postal Service will process for overseas military
170,000 Number of vehicles used to transport holiday mail
2.5 billion Amount of holiday stamps the Postal Service has available this year
242 million Number of customers who visit a Post Office during the holidays
34 percent Percentage increase of air cargo lift of mail by Postal Service during the holidays
37 million Customer visits to during the holidays
Tuesday, Dec. 4 National Operations Center at USPS staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Monday, Dec. 17 Busiest MAILING day for holiday cards
Wednesday, Dec. 19 Busiest DELIVERY day for holiday cards
Monday, Dec. 17 Busiest MAILING day for holiday packages
Thursday, Dec. 20 Busiest DELIVERY day for holiday packages

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Get Your Grump On

I've got a set of four of my Grumpy Gaines short stories up on Kindle if anyone's interested. Grumpy Gaines is a Texas Ranger in the 1880s who takes on aliens and vampires. It's only a dollar. It's on my Amazon page. There's a link from this page.

[If a million people would download this thing I'd be really happy.]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stale doughnuts

City Market, the local version of Kroger, often has doughnuts in a box. They're really cheap, but lately they have stale ones that are only 79 cents a box (12 stale doughnuts for 79 cents). I just love them. They make a great breakfast along with a glass of juice or something. Thing is, when I was at the con last weekend they had some fesh doughnuts. I didn't like them. They were even free. I now prefer the stale ones. Fresh doughnus taste funny to me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To the sea?

People will put whatever spin they want on last night's debate. But I heard something that I found simply astonishing. Mitt Romeny said Iran is in cahoots with Syria because it's their path to the sea. Say What??

Iran and Syria don't even have a common border. Not even close. And Iran already has a considerable coastline and is already on the sea.

I don't normally go into political stuff, but this displays an astonishing ignorance that I just had to comment on.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Well, I survived my trip to Mile Hi Con with no calamities whatsoever. I didn't require a tow truck and didn't even get sick. Actually, I had a rather nice time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guest Blogger Karl

Hi, it’s me, Karl.

I’m guest blogging today because Dave’s gone off to Mile Hi Con. I don’t know what goes on at those things. I’ve never actually been to one. Nobody ever invites me anywhere. I figure they have lots of dancing girls and liquor and stuff like that. And everyone sits around and drinks beer and talks about astronomy. Maybe it’s best I didn’t go, come to think of it.

I don’t drink. You don’t want to see a drunken dinosaur. It’s not a pretty site. Staggering around, knocking over trees, eating fruit, stuff like that. Then you throw up over yourself and some triceratops starts laughing at you. It’s just better not to go there. We didn’t have liquor stores back in the cretaceous, but sometimes dinosaurs got into fermented fruit and stuff. And if you’re a plant eating dinosaur and you’re drunk, then some apex predator like me comes along and eats you. Trust me kids, there’s a bad side to getting drunk.

I made some suggestions for the con, but I never heard back from anyone. I said they could have a panel on time travel. Heck I’ve traveled sixty million years through time. I’m an expert. But do they want that? Hell no. They went with the zombie shooting gallery instead.

I also suggested dinosaur rides for the kids. They didn’t seem to like that one either. Then there was the Klingons versus dinosaurs battle to the death. I thought people could bet on that one. But they didn’t even want to do that, either. What a bunch of wimps.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Off to Mile Hi Con

Well, I'm off to Mile Hi Con. Wish me luck. Why do I need luck? Bad things seem to happen when I go to Mile Hi Con. The first five years or so I always had car trouble. I'd blow a tire, my battery would fail. Once, the brakes even went out. Then car trouble evolved to physical problems. I picked up the flu and was running a 102 degree fever. Then, two years ago, I picked up a super agressive antibiotic resistant infection that nearly killed me and I spent four days in the hospital getting pumped full of intravenous antibiotics. I didn't go to MHC last year. So, I guess I'll see what calamity awaits me this time.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Story for Halloween

In celebration of Halloween, I'm reprinting my flash piece below. It's been reprinted many times, including my current short story collection, Flying Saucer Stories



David B. Riley

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

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

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

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

“Oh, George, come quick.”

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

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

“Less talk, more food,” Kal ordered.

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

“I just made them,” the female stated.

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

“Good night.” The male closed the door.

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

“They got candy apples?” she was asking.

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cons and such

Just got the flyers printed for the Ghostly Gathering reading coming up. They look pretty good. I'll bet it'll be the best free event in Denver on the 27th. I guess the plan is to distribute them at Mile Hi Con this weekend. And then people take the flyers and throw them away. That's how these things usually work.

And I also got some flyers printed up for the new Gunslingers & Ghost Stories anthology coming out December 1st. I gather the plan is to distribute them at Mile
Hi Con and then people will throw them away.

Speaking of Mile Hi Con, they've got me on a copyright panel Friday afternoon, and a small press panel Saturday afternoon and a late night reading of steampunk and weird westerns Saturday night. Not too bad.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More on them zombies

The season 3 opener of The Walking Dead. did not disappoint. Lots more zombies to kill and some new characters are also appearing. And they've got new digs. You've got to watch this show.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Well, The Walking Dead is/are back. I've never been that big on zombie stuff, but I started watching the series late into the first season and I found it addictive. I don't know what's in store for the new season, but I anxiously await it.

All in all, the AMC channel has some ass kicking TV shows. They just ended another season of one of my favorites, Hell on Wheels. Of course, their seasons are pretty short with only a few episodes. So, last week the railroad camp was getting attacked by the Sioux. Tonight, it'll be zombies attacking our band of regular people. Maybe this season we'll finally find out what's up with that dang helicopter that keeps being seen up in the sky.

Speaking of zombies, that's one area I've never attempted to write. Whilst I've written about vampires and ghosts I've never taken on zombies. I just have not felt comfortable with the medium.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Prize

Well, the Nobel Prize people have awarded all of their prizes to others. I didn't get one. I never win anything. I thought the decision to give the Peace Prize to the EU was bizarre. Does that mean everyone who lives in Europe is now a Nobel Laureate?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pen Names

As an editor I see a fair number of writers using pen names. These are just a few thoughts on the subject. Pen names got started for a couple of reasons. Women often found that men would not read stories written by women, especially in certain genres. And some people with ethnic sounding names were forced by publishers to use pen names much as many actors were forced by movie studios to change their names to more American sounding names. These issues are not so prevalent nowadays. What does remain is fans of certain genres can't cope with their favorite author writing in another genre. Mystery fans would never forgive somebody for writng in science fiction. Ergo, if a writer wants to do both, one of those genres needs to be done with a pen name.

I also know of a writer who does horror and fears getting static from the Mormon Church because his stoires have fairly strong sexual content--hence a pen name.

But that's not the case with most of the writers I see using them. Most of them are the most amateur green writers out there They've decided on a pen name that is often stupid (yes, the name itself is stupid) ordered their writer business cards and writer stationery and set out to be a writer. Everything is all planned out--except the bothering to learn how to write part.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


What makes an author important? Is it the dollar sales of his work?? Is it in the winning of awards? I don't know. I do know that I approached a library about doing a reading of ghost stories in celebration of Halloween and I was squarely rebuffed. I'm not important enough. They didn't say my stories suck. They didn't say they don't want to do anything for Halloween. They said I'm not important enough. The basis for this? I don't know. I can only guess they've never heard of me, ergo I'm not important enough. This particualr library has three of my own books plus two other antholigies which I contribute short stories to on their very shelves. I doubt the person I talked to even bothered to check that fact. I'm important enough for someone to actually order books I've written, but not important enough to read ghost stories for Halloween. Welcome to my world.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Can't say that I'm a big fan of Christo Columbo. More on that in a moment. Cities with large Italian populations like San Francisco have always had big celebrations for Columbus Day. I remember back in college I had this history class and Columbus came up a few times on some assignments. I always wrote "Christo Columbo" and it always came back from the intructor marked in red. Christo Columbo was his real name. How it became in America Christopher Columbus is a mystery to me. Anyway, the gist of one of my test responses was what did Columbus accomplish? I replied he brought death, disease and mysery to the native peoples of the Caribbean. And on another question about his third voayage to the new world, I pointed out that his own men imprisoned him after a mutiny because he was such a poor commander. I don't remember what grade I got in the class, but it probably wasn't very good. But, to this day, children are indoctrinated that Columbus was some visionary explorer. Truth is, he was a dim bulb who actually thought he was in India. If anybody was so undeserving of a holiday, it is he. Yet, the banks will be closed in his honor today. And then there's the notion he discovered America. He did not. Leaf Erikson, a Viking explorer, found the New World centuries earlier. We were never told about Leaf Erikson when I was in school.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Every once and a while I get communication from folks who I might have some reason to get communication from. Unfortunately, it usually gets lost as spam. I get tons of spam because I have a public blog and a business website, so I'm vulnerable. The problem that I don't think well meaning people think of is that they send me a friend linkup or something from Facebook, or similar sites. As I've made a conscious decision not to join Facebook, I tend to view these as bogus efforts to send me viruses or pictures of animals screwing or whatever wretched things that come in through email. So, I would suggest that a regular email with a subject that makes sense is a better way to get in touch with me than some friend message that I'm probably going to think is spam. Anyway, that's my take on things. Some folks are so enamoured with their social media they have forgotten any other means of communicating.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

More Polly Ticks

I had a few thoughts about the debate the other day. My thoughts aren't always like the thoughts of normal people. Obama should've shown up with a few bottles of his infamous White House Ale. He could've given a bottle to Jim Lehrer, the moderator, and kept one for himself. And they could've sipped beer during the debate. And for Romney, they could've offered him a glass of milk, since a good Mormon won't drink beer. Then there's the Republican Party's pathetic attempts to restrict voting with their ID rules. If I were doing that, I'd move all of the polling places far away from minority neighborhoods and onto streets without things like public transportation. That would be more effective at retricting turnout than the ID rules. I'm not advocating doing that, just stating that it would work better. And, how glad I'll be when the endless horrible commercials are over. The British can do a full election cycle in about two months. It takes us two years. I'm sick of it. Make it go away. Please make it go away.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Halloween Haunts

As I've mentioned before, the HWA is running special postings on their blog all month long in celebration of Halloween. My posting is scheduled to run today. Check it out. Or, are you afraid?

Thursday, October 4, 2012


I got an offer from Holiday Inn yesterday. I don't know why. I'm not sure how they found me. You see, I have not stayed at a Holiday Inn in five years. And I've vowed to never stay at one again. I actually once worked at a Holiday Inn. But, that was some time ago. Five years ago I had a reservation to stay at one in a Denver suburb. It did not go well. They stuck me in the worst room of the hotel, presumably because I had a discounted room (they only had five paying customers that night--hardly full up). It stunk of cigarettes and mold. When I complained, I was told there was nothing I could do about it. They were right about that. Though I left the hotel and never returned, there wasn't anything I could actually do about it. I complained to Holiday Inn customer relations. They were as rude and uncaring as the jerks at the actual hotel. When I worked for them they took guest complaints very seriously. Not anymore, it would seem. I haven't stayed at one since and never will. I'll sleep in my car first. And that was why it seemed so odd that I got an offer from them. And that reminded me of the ever expanding list of businesses I boycott. Not one of them cares that I boycott them, but boycott I shall continue to do. Great Lakes Airlines, Geico Insurance, TGI Fridays, Kohl's, Priceline, Firestone Tires, Main St. Grill in Edwards CO, the Avon Post Office, Colorado Mountain Express, Greyhound, Exxon, Super 8, Grand Teton Lodge Company, Vail Resorts, American Express, Discover Card, Wells Fargo, a truck stop on the Wy-Co border whose name I can't remember...and that's just what immediately came to mind. The actual list of places I won't patronize is actually much longer. And I know they don't care. But they will never get any more of business. And they all have competitors who will.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fortune Cookie

A few days ago I was having lunch at a Chinese restaurant. The loudmouth at the table next to me read his fortune cookie to his ladyfriend. "You are going on a long journey." Well, they left and I finished my lunch in peace without any further need to hear about how Governor Romeny will save the world from the Muslims. As I drove down the road I noticed the same guy from the restaurant was leaning on the hood of his car--in handcuffs, whilst some deputy sheriffs seemed to be searching said vehicle. I later learned in the newspaper that said fellow was wanted by the State of Illinois for parole violation. Apparently his traversing the country was not sanctioned by his parole officer. So, if anyone thinks that the forunes in those cookies never come true, guess what--they do. He did indeed go away on a long journey.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Polly Ticks

All we're hearing about in Colorado is The Debate, The Debate. Only a handful of invited people get in. In fact, the press is even having to watch it from another room. So, what's the point? Why have debates in three cities when there isn't any participation in or from those cities? Why not just have it from some TV studio? It doesn't make any difference and there's been a lot of work setting up lighting and the stage and stuff. They could just as easily do it from a TV studio in Burbank and send the savings to the billionaires who are funding all these horrible commercials we've been watching for the past six months.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Reading Stories OMG

Stories. Like so many things, stories are neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. They are what they are. The one thing they’re not is perfect. Many novice writers seem to think there are perfect stories and they keep striving to create one. What a story is or is not is right for a particular project. It amazes me how many so-called writers do not seem to grasp this fundamental concept. They keep listening to people of dubious skill in some critique group tell them nonsense about something they have created. When, in reality, the only person’s opinion that matters at all is the one person’s opinion they seem to avoid. Still don’t know my point? As I was winding down the reading for the latest anthology I’ve been working on, I got the rush of last second stories across the transom at the very last minutes of the reading period. This happens every time. Writers hold their stories, waiting and waiting before submitting. To no avail. My experience has been most of the people advising writers don’t know what they’re talking about. They are rarely editors and do not look at a story from an editor’s perspective. What leaps off the page to my eyes goes unnoticed to theirs. And, where I might’ve been able to suggest a way to fix something, I cannot because time has now run out and I have to move on to other things. Yes, those stories writers have fiddled with for weeks, sometimes months, are usually worse than the stories that come in early in the reading cycle. For all of their fizzing and critiquing and what not, their effort is essentially wasted. Their stories will not be selected. Yet they will go back to their critique group and repeat the process yet again. And, most often, the result will be the same. Oh, how I dread these last days of a reading period.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Goodbye Amelia

Well, the end of the Amy Pond run with Dr. Who has come and gone. I really liked Amy. She was hot. Because she had known the Doctor almost her whole life, she was less in awe of him than some of his companions--and the doctor more attached to her in some ways. At least, that's my take anyway. I'm not going to give any spoilers. Matt Smith (the actor who playes The Doctor) said he didn't think anyone could get through the episode without a lump in their throat. That was an understatement. I'm somewhat jaded and won't watch a lot of TV shows because I know what the actors are going to say before their mouths open and how the show will end ten minutes into it. Not this time. I never saw the ending coming. If this was inside a movie theatre there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house.