Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's in a name?

There are many many small and micro breweries in Colorado. One of them was seeking suggestions for a name for a new beer they were going to bring out in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. I suggested something.

Now, you might think I would have suggested Dave Riley Beer. It would not have been unprecedented. Back when I lived in California there was an opportunity for the public to name a 12 mile stretch of road. I suggested Dave Riley Parkway. Likewise, when an opportunity to name a new school came up I suggested Dave Riley Elementary. And, when the Excalibur Hotel Casino opened in Las Vegas, they had a naming contest. (I think they intended to call it Excalibur all along and the contest was a marketing gimmick). I suggested they call it Dave Riley Castle. None of the suggestions were taken up.

But, for the beer, I suggested Martian Red Ale. I further suggested they put a picture of a little green man on the label. They didn’t do it and named it something Irish sounding. Note to any brewer out there: If you call your next beer Martian Red Ale I’d buy at least a couple of six packs.

I recently finished my fifth story involving Sarah Meadows. Furthermore, I have a novel featuring her that’s with an agent and I hope it finds a publisher. Sarah lives on Mars and does sometimes have a glass of Martian Red Ale. So, I thought it’d be so cool if someone actually made some Martian Red Ale. Maybe someday.

Of course, if a brewer would rather call their next concoction Dave Riley Beer, that would be okay too

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dogs From Outer Space

Back when Cowboys & Aliens came out, I’d anxiously waited for months for it to open. I watched them change the signs the night at the theater before it opened. I was there the first day to see it. But, that was a while ago now. I was talking online with another writer the other day about an unrelated matter when the subject of Cowboys & Aliens came up. I think we both thought the movie was pretty cool, though it had a few flaws. For one thing, the director didn’t seem to know what to do with the dog. They had this cool dog, but the dog never really fit into the story all that well.

And that brings up the issue of dogs in science fiction. It’s simply incredibly rare to see dogs in science fiction stories. The apocalyptic ones like Soylent Green make sense. If they’re feeding the human population with dead people, I’d think the folks at Purina would have been phased out already. But you don’t often see them in other types of science fiction stories, either.

I seem to remember a dog in Independence Day.

There’s the classic story “A Boy and His Dog.” In that story, the dog really is just in it at the end.

The Jetsons had a dog.

They seem to prefer robotic pets in science fiction.

One of my first stories I ever had published was “Gray Dogs on the Beach.” It was about these aliens who looked like dogs and visited Earth. They were appalled that people tried to feed them bones and only wanted to play Frisbee with them. Good luck finding it in its original printing, but it is reprinted in my collection Flying Saucer Stories.

So, what’s all this mean? Nothing. I’m just rattling on as usual. I suppose, over the next few days, a few other science fiction stories with dogs in them will pop into what passes for my brain. I’m only talking about science fiction here, not fantasy and horror.


Damned cold up where I live. I had to cancel a trip to Denver yesterday because I just didn't want to spend six hours driving through snow. It's normally a two hour trip. People drive so slow through snow that it ads another hour each way. And that's assuming they don't close the road. That's what I get for living in a ski resort.

Monday, February 25, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled woolfisly as the rain poured down the face of the cliff, at times blinding young Winston. Lightning struck all around him. Still, he pulled and clawed his way on the rocks, determined to make it up to the top, to safety. Then, suddenly, the cliff gave way and Winston fell to his death on the jagged rocks below. The crabs that lived in the bay would feast well this day.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Phunnies

I get my comics online, as do a lot of people. For some unexplained reason, I could not access them this morning. Ah, technology. It really starts your day off wrong when you can't have your morning dose of comics. When you don't know what Garfield is doing. When you have to remain ingnorant of what's going in in Id. It's rough out there.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Money from outer space

I was looking over the schedule for Anamoly Con and saw something I really liked--a panel on financial transactions in science fiction. There's an amazing lack of finance in most sf. Star Trek was really bad about it. Federation goofs hardly ever paid for anything. Captain Janeway engaged in barter deals a few times. But you just did not see Star Fleet people pay for anything. But, what I thought was odd were the Feringie and their obsession with latinum. Replicator and transporter technology are the same thing, basically. They say so on more than one show. Therefore, anything that can be transported can be replicated. So, since they do transport latinum, then it must be able to be replicated. And, if it can be replicated, it is not valuable.

I've just finished the fith short story involving Sarah Meadows of the Gompers Insurance Company. That's something you don't see much, insurance companies in science fiction. You don't see a lot of banks, either. And, they don't even talk about taxes. Is everything in the future free?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Papal update

As I’m sure most readers of this blog have heard by now, they’ve fired Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church will soon name a new pope. I’ve given this a lot of thought. As I understand the rules, you don’t technically have to be a cardinal to be pope. In fact, you don’t even have to be a priest. With that in mind, I would accept the job if it were offered.

I mean, sure, I’m not even Catholic. But, I understand a lot about the Catholic religion. Just read my wonderful vampire novel The Brotherhood if you doubt me. I think between the cool hats and that popemobile that I’d like being pope. The celibacy part, at first thought, doesn’t sound so great. But the truth is, I hardly ever get laid anyway, so I doubt that would really be a big deal. I am quite certain I could wave a cross around and bless people. It just doesn’t look that hard.

I somehow doubt they’d give me the job unless God intervened. So, note to God: I’d be happy to serve. Thanks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Full Steam Ahead

One thing about horror fiction that I’ve found fascinating is how nice most folks are. I belong to the Horror Writers Association, which is a professional association of people who write dark fiction. When I meet folks from this group I’m always amazed at how nice most people are. Frankly, I can’t say the same for some other writing organizations. That said, I suppose most folks look at joining up as what do I get out of it? That not always an easy answer. If you’re a mediocre writer before joining, you’re still going to be a mediocre writer. But, chances to interact with writers and other people such as artists and editors is generally a good thing. That’s why a lot of writers attend cons. That’s short for conventions. You can meet and talk to both other writers and with fans at these things. But, will attending a con make you a good writer? Hell no. You’ll still be the mediocre writer you were before attending. I honestly believe some writers think if they hang around with talented and successful writers it will somehow rub off on them. Trust me, it won’t.

To this I lead up the fact that I’m participating at Anomaly Con in about a month. I’m new to this con, which tends to be steampunk oriented. What I’ve noticed with the steampunk crowd is a much higher percentage of folks running around in costume. Where, at a typical science fiction con, they’re happy if you put a clean shirt on. With steam there’s all manner of folks running around in various stages of pseudo-Victorian attire. This has left me in a bit of a quandary. Do I need some new duds? I spent yesterday visiting thrift stores looking for just the right thing that I could snatch up on the cheap. No go. I found nothing. It’s kind of like the young lady who’s just been invited to the Royal ball and hasn’t a thing to wear. The advantage with steam is they say anything will pass if you just put goggles on it. Well, I haven’t found any goggles at the thrift store. Sure, I could order some duds. There are actually purveyors of such wear. But, these said purveyors want me to pay them money.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Northern Exposure My Ass

I was recently told by someone that a mutual acquaintance had been trying to get some interest in some of my anthologies up in Canada. He seemed shocked that I responded with disbelief and that I came just barely short of calling his friend a liar. My basis for this was rather simple–we have never sold a single copy of any book or magazine that I have edited to anyone in Canada. Not ever.

I’ve never been sure why Canada is a brick wall. It just is. We still sell copies in England. Heck, we’ve even occasionally sold books in Germany (There are a lot of expatriate Americans living in Germany). But, never ever Canada. They will not budge. Some contributors suspect it’s because Canadians cannot read. Others say that all Canadians do all winter is practice sodomy and they just aren’t interested in literature. I guess I’ll never know the actual reason. But the notion that someone put the word out to read books such as Low Noon–positively ludicrous.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Time After Time

I've been on a time kick, lately. I mean writing about time. It's figured prominently in the last three stories I’ve written. I don’t mean time travel as such. I mean time in more of a theoretical sense. How things could shift through time. How two places could be in different time. That sort of thing. Time is something that is amazingly not well understood. We have the concept of linear time, but that’s about it for most folks. I’ve long maintained there is no difference between past, present and future. They are all one and the same. And I’ve held that view even before I started writing science fiction. Most people say huh. If the universe is curved, and it appears to be so, a line that extends into infinity must eventually come back and connect with itself. So, according to David, must time do the same. So, the ultimate in linear time means that past, present and future are all the same thing. The fact humans can only vaguely see anything but the present is irrelevant.

As the Star Trek Next Generation series was winding up its run, they had an episode dealing with anti time. This was much the same as anti matter. I thought it was quite fascinating.

And that’s one thing fun about writing is it gives you a chance to play around with way out ideas. However, I’ve found few editors really embrace way out concepts. So, now I’ve got to figure out where to sell these stories.

I wish I could get more time stories for my magazine, Science Fiction Trails. I never see anything original. It’s just some clod goes back in time, usually for some very dubious technology, and he doesn’t belong there. I’ve tried to discourage that sort of tale. Alas, that’s about all I get in the world of time. It’s time to go to the store now.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guest Blog, Karl

Hi, it’s me Karl.
I’m guest blogging today. Boy, I sure was impressed with that meteor in Russia. Meteors and asteroids really get my attention. That’s kind of what did in my friends and relatives. A big old meteor or comet came and crashed into what’s now the Gulf of Mexico and goodbye dinosaurs. For a long time scientists doubted this happened and blamed the extinction of dinosaurs on smoking too many cigarettes. Then that Shumaker-Levy comet hit Jupiter and people said “Wow.” With 200 million Jupiterians killed, people started thinking it might happen here. Then some oil company actually found the impact crater and that was that.

Now, I realize that humans would not be here on Earth if my friends had stayed alive. Human ancestors would’ve been served up for lunch by dinosaurs. Still, I kind of wish the dinosaurs had lived on. What I’ve been wondering is, when the next big asteroid hits and wipes out people, what will evolve? Of course, that’s only speculation. Dave, who I’m filling in for, wants dogs to evolve. I think he’s a little nuts sometimes.

Anyway, I’m the only dinosaur that got transported through time. If there were more of us, there’d be a lot fewer of you. I’m not saying that to be mean. It’s just the way it is. Dinosaurs are nice as can be, but we’ve got to eat. A lot of the Republicans in Congress don’t believe I exist. They don’t believe any of my kin ever existed. I should go to Washington sometime and eat some of these guys. Heck, that’d be a place for a meteor. No one would miss Congress if a meteor hit that place.

So, what will evolve next? Beats me. It’s one of those concepts best dealt with by science fiction writers and crazy people. Is there a difference?

I was going to write about my hunt for Bigfoot, but then I got going on this meteor thing. Till next time.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Falling Skies

Kind of a weird coincidence that Russia got hit my a meteor the same day the big asteroid was flying by Earth. A lot of folks were hurt by the Russian meteor. Not making light of that, I've always wanted to be killed by a falling meteor. Really. Few of us get to choose how we die. And, the chances of being hit by these things are small. but there is something about a fiery object falling from the heavens that really appeals to me. Bring it on, space. I'm ready.

I guess I've felt that way since I was in high school. I was out in the back yard one evening and a very small blue meteor, probably the size of a pebble (or even smaller) came flying out of the sky. It landed in the next door neighbor's yard. I could even hear it sizzle as it flew no more than 10 feet by me. I spent many hours in the neighbor's yard when they weren't home. I never could find the meteor.

Last year, I saw one go down in the parking lot where I live. It disappeared in the snow and never gave up its hiding place. I was so bummed.

So, if there's a bigger one up there, I hope it's got my name on it. I'm ready. That's how I'd like to go. Weird, huh?

Oh, there are some great deals on mattresses this weekend.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vacashun Planning

Boy, Carnival sure is the poster child for the cruise industry. I've never been on a cruise. I doubt that I'll ever go on one. Repeated tales of widespread food poisoning or intestinal viruses running rampant. Yay. Then there's the pittance they offered people for all the missery they endured on that Mexico cruise--$500 bucks. Chump change.

It's not just cruises, though. Travel in general isn't what it used to be. I've been bumped off flights where the airline not only ignored DOT compensation rules, but actually refused to give me my money back. I once refused to accept a 10 hour later flight and the airline claimed I forfeited my ticket money. I had to go to small claims court. If people think the government will step in and do something, they are sadly mistaken. The government won't do jack.

And, by the way, I've worked in the hotel business for quite some time. It's amazing how many hotels overbook, even when they have a credit card guarantee or even a deposit. A hotel down the street from where I used to work in Vail routinely overbooked and would call our hotel and hope we could take on their overflow. I remember one summer they overbooked a judges conference. They had 20 judges who had no place to stay. Boy were those guys happy.

Stay home is my advice.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

That's the Way it is

I’ve always had one cardinal rule when it comes to literature. You cannot ever kill the cute red-haired girl. Not ever. It just is not allowed. It never ever happens in any story I write. That’s also not something that appears in the writers guidelines over at Science Fiction Trails, where I am editor. So, I can’t really fault the writer who sent me a story where the bad guys killed the cute red-haired girl. He had no way of knowing it was automatic rejection. But it is. That’s just the way it is.

Which brings me to the Hansel & Gretel movie. (Spoiler alert). It’s not just stuff I edit or write, either. It bugs me when others do that. And, to my horror, they killed the cute red-haired girl. Not Hansel & Gretel, but the wicked witch. But the point is, the movie did. And I left rather irritated about this blasphemy. That’s just the way it is.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just awful

I mentioned the other day that I've spent most of the time lately feeling sick. I've had a cold for a week now that I can't shake. I went to the store and it seemed everybody was coughing or sneezing. I don't recall this ever being so bad before. I guess the microbes are winning the war.

I really wonder why, in that grand scheme of things, they invented viruses. I mean, they seem to do anything positive for people or life in general. At least some bacteria provide some benefits like making yougurt and aiding digestion. I can't think of one good thing a virus ever did for anybody.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Moving Forward

Anyone who’s followed the goings on over at Science Fiction Trails knows we’ve done a western sci fi magazine for quite some time and that we’ve also put out some western horror anthologies. As sales and submissions come in, I’ve noticed one amazing fact. The two product lines exist in two almost parallel universes. Not only does the magazine have an entirely different group of readers, for the most part the writers who submit to it are different as well.

While I don’t view the two lines as all that different, it is getting obvious that others seem to. Science Fiction Trails actually sells a little better than the books. Since it costs less to produce, it’s more profitable than the book line. In fact, we have serious doubts that there will be any more horror anthologies. They simply are not selling well enough to justify the time and expense of publishing them. I never say never, but the current plan is to focus solely on Science Fiction Trails.

Even though I’ve been fairly happy with the performance of the magazine, we’ve never had a steady enough submission of stories for me to feel good about putting out more than one issue a year. I don’t want to go to, say, quarterly, then have to pull back in frequency later. Since we pay more than a lot of small press products, it can’t entirely be a money thing. There are quite a few magazines and web based sites that have smaller circulations and lower pay rates who get significantly more stories than we do. We’re not entirely sure why that is. That’s not to say we can’t get stories. We’ve actually developed a very reliable stable of fairly regular contributors. Still, it’s that new blood that is essential to give our readers the entertaining stories they expect.

So, moving forward, we’ll continue to try to expand our distribution. And we’ll continue to be an outlet for western themed science fiction. We still believe we are the only continuously publishing product focusing exclusively in this genre.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

More Spanish lessons

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

Earnesto used the closet for a bathroom
Earnesto utilizar el armario para un cuarto de baño

The hamburgers are made of horse meat
Las hamburguesas están hechas de carne de caballo

She wants more money to have sex with you
Ella quiere más dinero para tener sexo con usted

The space aliens go through my garbage
Los extraterrestres seguir adelante en la basura

The old lady is spying on me
La anciana está espiando

My cat shot the dog with a rifle
Mi gato le disparó al perro con un rifle

The car valet has the keys to the car.
El servicio de aparcacoches coche tiene las llaves.
We do not have a car valet here.
No tenemos un ayuda de cámara aquí.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Art tirade

As publisher of Science Fiction Trails, with a magazine and occasional book, the most vexing problem for me has been working with artists. Frankly, most of them are a bunch of flakes. Getting someone who will actually do a good job on time is really tough. I’ve run the gauntlet from poor quality to getting nothing. Twice I’ve had artists who “really wanted” to do covers for me and have never, to this day, submitted anything. I’ve been waiting three years for one guy to give me the cover that he’ll “get right on it.” Yeah, right. Deadlines come and go and nothing ever happens. It’s really frustrating.

At Mile Hi Con a few months ago this topic came up a few times with my counterparts at other outfits. They all said the same thing. Getting cover art is the toughest thing they have to deal with. The consensus was stuff is either of poor quality or it never even comes at all. Deadlines seem meaningless.

I don’t have the budget to pay what a large New York publisher pays. That’s sometimes the problem. I understand that. Art is still my single biggest expense. I pay artists way more than writers. The odd thing is, the artists who demand unrealistic amounts seem to be the worst. A few years ago one guy gave me a proposal with some sketches that looked so amateurish I honestly felt I could go down the street to the middle school and find some 8th grader in art class and get better art there. This guy wanted three times more than I've been paying.

I guess what set me off is I’ve gotten two pitches from artists this past week. They were both bloody awful. Their timing was good. I’m actually thinking cover for our next issue. But the samples I was sent were positively awful. One normally leads off in a portfolio with their best work. Boy, if what they sent me was their best, I’d hate to see their worst. People are sometimes blind to their own weaknesses. I’ve seen dozens of writers who have no talent whatsoever and are deluding themselves as they send out stories no one is ever going to publish. Alas, the same thing seems true about art.

Before Science Fiction Trails, there was the cross genre Trails. That thing had clip art covers. They were often better than what I get submitted now. The only reason I don’t go back to clip art is most of it is low resolution. For digital based publishing the minimum these days is 300 dpi. Most clip art out there is less than 100 dpi, making it useless. What worked on a photo copier machine a few years ago does not cut it now. The clip art publishers have been very slow to adapt.

Lastly, we've had some darn good cover art. It is out there. I'm not in any way attacking those artists. I even have a cover artist lined up for our next issue. But it is not a simple or easy process to get there.

Friday, February 8, 2013


A month ago I had a nasty cold and a bought of bronchitis. Now, I've come down with yet another round. Everywhere I go, people seem to be comparing symptoms and everybody seems to be sick. I've never seen anything quite like it.

What I've always wondered is why we get sick. In that overall grand scheme of things, why did they decide we need things like viruses? Let's have trees-good idea. Let's have rabbits-okay. How about fish-fine. But, why would they come up with something such as a virus?

They say we all evolved from microbes and that viruses have had millions of years to get ready for us. That may be so. It sure sucks when they get a hold of you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The broken key chain

One of my most prized possessions was a simple little key chain with Marvin the Martian on it. I bought it 12 or 13 years ago. It was metal, not plastic and was fairly well made. I carried it around in my pocket everywhere I went. I remember once I had just gone through screening at the Denver airport and apparently dropped it when I was collecting by belongings. Well, as I was putting my shoes back on this TSA lady walked by holding it up, looking for its owner. I suspect she envisioned some teenager would claim it. She seemed surprised and a bit skeptical when I said “That’s mine.” Very skeptical. “I’ve had that for 10 years,” I insisted. Reluctantly, she gave it back to me.

So, recently, Marvin broke in two. I was so bummed. They don’t make them any more. What to do? Well, I went on eBay and there were dealers who had them. I immediately purchased another one. I was so happy to have another Marvin.

Although Marvin could never get the best of Bugs Bunny, I always liked him for his never ending optimism that, somehow, he would eventually destroy the Earth.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dr. Pepper

Anyone who knows me knows I have a certain fondness for Diet Dr. Pepper. I don't really like sugary drinks and of the sugar free variety, I think DDP tates better than most do. I've never actually seen another human being drink the stuff, so I sometimes wonder if I'm their only customer. So, why don't you try that Dr. Pepper 10? Somebody asked me. Well, I have tried it. Frankly, I can't tell any difference between them, whatsoever.

One thing I wonder about, and I wonder about a lot of things, is there are often store brand equivalents to regular Dr. Pepper under brands like Dr. K and so forth. I've never been to any store that had such an equivalent to the Diet Dr. Pepper. So, I never seem to get the thrifty savings of store brands. I guess it's just not economical to make the stuff for just one person. I'm actually grateful to the Dr. Pepper company for making this beverage for me, my being their only customer and all.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Well, another Super Bowl has come and gone. All I can say is I sure as hell would not have spent 3 plus million on the ads they ran. I just didn't think they were all that darned great. One other observation: Do we need four hours of pregame shows? Three Stooges reruns would be more entertaining. By the way, I didn't really like halftime show, either.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Misc Crap

I heard from someone I had not seen in 20 years yesterday. Claimed he'd been trying to find me for some time. Apprently, trying to find me meant looking on Facebook. I'm not currently doing social media like Facebook and Twitter. I've come to the belief that it's a waste of my time. Apparently, I am the only person in the entire world who feels this way. Still, if one wanted to find me, with two active websites, I can't believe it's that hard to find me. Turns out, this person really was looking for my brother, who was two classes behind me in high school. My brother has such a common name it was impossible to narrow it down enough, so he contacted me. I can't see why anyone would want to contact my brother. Talk about wastes of time. Oh well. To each their own.

Well, since no one called me up and invited me to the Super Bowl, I guess I'll be home today. I've never been to New Orleans. May never get there. Later this year they're having the World Horror Con there. Whilst I'd like to go, I just don't want to spend the money. These out of state cons are really costly to go to. Worldcon (that's a sci fi con for nonbelievers) is in San Antonio. Ditto, only more so. Worldcons are getting super expensive. So, alas, I guess I'll be staying home for those as well.

Well, I ate sausage yesterday. [Sausage is ground hog]. People should eat sausage on Ground Hog Day. Sausage is ground hog. I don't know why I continue to have so much trouble with this one. Well, I've got a year now to plan next year's Ground Hog Day festivities. Long live Jimmy Dean.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Ground Hog Day

It's Ground Hog Day. Eat some sausage today. (Sausage is ground hog). I've been advocating folks eat sausage on Ground Hog Day for about ten years now. No one ever does. I'm like Linus and the Great Pumpkin.

On another matter, there's a new review of the Martian issue of Science Fiction Trails if anyone's interested.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Humour and Chicks

One of the things I miss most is Far Side. That was a series of cartoons. They were the funniest things I ever saw. I was really bummed out when Gary Larson quit doing them. I would actually pick up and buy a book of Far Side cartoons every single time I saw one in any store. And I won't buy nothin'. So, on my recent trip to Denver when I was traumatized, I stopped off at the Tattered Cover. That's a chain of book stores in the Denver area. I wandered around and looked for Far Side books. It took a while, but I found one.

"Ooh, you've got Far Side," a rather pretty gal with red hair said. "I didn't think they made them any more."

"Well," said I, "this one was over there."

My thoughts that our mutual love of Far Side would lead to wedded bliss or at least a steamy night of passion ended at that point when she walked off to where I had pointed, never looking back at me again. So much for Far Side and picking up chicks.

In theory, a book store ought to be a good place to pick up chicks. They outnumber guys three or four to one. At least, that's my unscienctific estimate. The reality is, nothing of the sort happens. People in book stores rarely even talk. That was why my brief conversation with this really hot babe was so unusual. It will likely never happen again.

And, my favorite Far Side cartoon was this one with a retired Lone Ranger sitting in a chair reading the Native American - English Dictionary when he came across the definition for the word kemosabee: a horse's ass. I thought it was absolutely hilarious.