Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shrimp Economics

My favorite Chinese restaurant has 20 different shrimp items on their menu. That's half of the total menu.  I don't really care for shrimp.  I've never liked them.  Obviously, the chef of that restaurant likes them. So, imagine my surprise when I got a catalog from some company that sells shrimp.  You get them shipped by FedEx overnight.  You can also buy sauces and seasonings for an enormous additional cost.  I've been baffled at why I was selected for such a ridiculous commodity.  I don't even order food items from anywhere.
This has reminded me that I just don't get many catalogs anymore.  There are obvious advantages to selling online--mainly lower costs.  Mailing out catalogs is expensive.  Still, there's something nice about thumbing through a catalog looking at wonders I can't possibly afford.  Then I get shrimp?  What idiot came up with such a ridiculous concept?  Half the population lives on the coast and can buy fresh shrimp for a fraction of what these people are charging.  People in landlocked states like mine don't see an abundance of fresh seafood, but damn.  Shrimp isn't exactly Maine lobster or Alaska king crab.  They're not even prawns (big shrimp). 
Way back in my California days some guy sold shrimp out of the back of a station wagon. He had a big sign and sat by the side of the road and sold people shrimp. I have no idea where he got them. But he was always there.  Of the two business models, one being expensive catalogs and overnight delivery and the other being some guy in a station wagon, I don't think I'd feel good about either one. That's if I even liked shrimp.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Where for art thou package?  I recently sent a package to Texas and it took a full week to get there by Priority Mail.  So, I found myself amused at the Postal Service's new reorganization of Priority Mail.  It now comes with a 1,2, or 3 day delivery on the label.  I don't know why. I guess so you can see what you were supposed to have gotten. It's still not guaranteed. But, they have added $50 worth of insurance.  So, at least when it gets lost maybe you can recoup some of the losses now.  And they've even got ugly new packaging.  Boy, I'm so impressed. Now people can see they were supposed to have gotten 2 day service when it shows up in a week.  Of course, I still consider it a miracle anything I send even arrives.

Ugly new boxes for Priority Mail. At least they're still free.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Steaming Ahead

Over at Steampunk Trails, where I am publisher, we're wrapping up the submission period for the new magazine.  I am anxious to see what the stories are like.  I don't know yet because I am not the editor.  Unlike my other magazine, Science Fiction Trails, this time around I hired an editor. Thus far, that seems to be working out nicely. 

In addition to fiction, we decided to have a few nonfiction articles about various aspects of steampunk. Steampunk is much more than simply a literary concept.  One thing we're featuring is a review of Doggles, goggles for dogs.  There's no spoiler here, our magazine's blog already has the information.  The Doggles people make an assortment of goggles designed for dogs.  There are different colors and styles.  When the steampunk craze came along they must have thanked their lucky stars.  I don't know how many cool looking dogs are strutting around with dog goggles on, but I do know one border collie who has a pair.  She belongs to the magazine's editor and there will be a review about this product.

I might also say that I've noticed some of the industrial products companies have begun to realize not all of their goggles are being purchased by welders and machinists.  Some even say "Great for Steampunk" on their packages now. The ones I have are thusly labeled. And mine were bought when I attended a steampunk convention. 

So, here's a picture of a dog wearing goggles.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Evil Publishing Scum

I've sat on both sides of the publishing table.  I realize there's simply too much crap out there in the publishing world and a lot of it is simply unsellable.  Nonetheless, I find myself continuing to wonder why the New York publishing crowd just absolutely refuses to display any resemblance of basic common courtesy. Last fall I wrote a new science fiction novel featuring my Sarah Meadows character.  Sarah has appeared in six short stories, but this is her first book length adventure. I queried 12 agents.  I followed the instructions on their websites. If they wanted a SASE they got one. If they wanted the first chapter, they got that.  Of the 12, two sent me form letters and the other ten never bothered to reply at all.  I also queried 10 publishers, again following their website instructions.  One sent me an email promising I'd hear from them in a month (six months ago) and one form letter was mailed back the  same day they received it. The other eight never bothered to respond at all, even though I provided the SASE or email or whatever they themselves asked for. What a bunch of assholes.  It's no wonder the publishing industry is going under.  I've never seen an industry where the producers of the product they sell are treated with such open and total contempt. 
And, alas, there is really nothing I can do about it.  But that does not mean I have to like it.  So, to my amazement, one of the very editors who could not be bothered to even respond to my submission sent me a story submission yesterday for Science Fiction Trails, where I am editorWhat to do? Just delete it?  Send a form letter?  I sure won't publish it. What to do? 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Orange Juice

I was drinking some orange juice yesterday.  As I was drinking it I read the label on the back of the bottle.  Contents: orange juice.  I kind of already knew that.  The orange color of the liquid sort of gave it away, not to mention it says orange juice on the front of the bottle. 

I like orange juice.  I always buy the store brand because it's cheaper than the national brands.  My dad won't buy anything except the national brands.  Some neighbors of mine only drink organic orange juice that gets delivered by some organic company.  When I was a kid my mom often bought frozen concentrate. I don't know anyone who buys the frozen concentrate anymore.  They still have it in the stores, so somebody must still buy it.  At some point in life I stopped drinking frozen concentrate and started getting the stuff in plastic bottles that's not made from concentrate. 

One thing about OJ is that it's got a lot of vitamins and stuff in it.  The downside is it's kind of high in sugar, so if you're trying to lose weight or have diabetes it can be a problematic beverage.  If  I get orange juice in restaurants the stuff costs more than steak.  They just give you some little tiny glass and it's the most expensive item on the bill. 
My parents once had this golden retriever.  They got him as a puppy.  He loved orange juice and drank a small bowl of it every morning.  When he got out of puppy mode, he stopped drinking orange juice.  "I'm not drinking this crap."  You used to drink it. "No, that must've been some other dog." What I don't remember was if he was getting OJ from concentrate or the not from concentrate version.

They say Sasquatch like orange juice and will steal it from campers' coolers when they're asleep. I don't really camp anymore, so I haven't tested this theory. 

So, on my birthday I was reminiscing about the moon landing and I suddenly started wanting some Tang. Tang was this dried orange juice you added water to. It's main claim to fame was the astronauts took it on space missions.  The local store didn't have it.  I was amazed they still make it and it's readily available from online sources including Amazon.

Friday, July 26, 2013


There are a few things I've learned in life.  One is that Canadian barbecue is awful.  It's inedible.  In the whole country you can't get good barbecue anyplace.  So, if you're thinking about emigrating to Canada, don't.  I can't imagine life without barbecue.

If you're baking and the recipe calls for baking powder, always measure it out. Don't just  guess.

Wine doesn't really make cooking any better. It's just a gimmick created by the wine industry to get you to use more wine.

And that's pretty much it.  I don't know anything else.


But there is one thing I really wonder.  Why is it so blasted hard to get good macaroni and cheese at restaurants?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's in a name?

A few days ago on this very blog I correctly predicted the royal baby would be named George.  I urged the royal family to name him Otis.  Obviously, they don't read my blog.  I don't know why Americans are so fascinated with the royals.  They're a bunch of boring stuffed shirts.  Well, we obviously aren't going to have a King Otis anytime soon. 
I have long resented my own parents for giving me such a common and ordinary name.  They deliberately set out to come up with the most ordinary common name they could think of--according to my mother. At least they didn't think of John or Jim.  Oh, how I would've vastly preferred Percival, Zebulon or Jedediah.   This became especially bothersome when I kept running into other David Riley's. There was one at my high school.  There's another writer named David Riley.  I don't know if any name is entirely unique unless it's something like moon unit.  And I suppose David Riley isn't as common as a lot of names.  My brother's name is even more common than mine.
My dad and his brother (my uncle) both hated their names.  And for good reason, though I'm not saying what they are. 
In fact, after I was informed by my mother that my name was deliberately the most common and ordinary name they could think of, my mom asked me what I would have liked.  I said Jedediah. She insisted there was no such name.  On our next family camping trip I booked us a reservation at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in California. She did not appear to make the connection. (Even back then in my youth, I was making travel reservations, but that's another story)
I know there are pen names. I know you can legally change your name.  But, at some point, one tends to just live with it.  Pen names are pretty much for losers (That'll probably tick a few folks off). And some folks initialize themselves.  That seems to work. But middle initials are often dropped by publishers, employers and just about everyone. 
I once applied for a job in the agency that processed birth certificates in California. My goal was to deliberately botch people's birth certificates and give them better names than their parents--at least middle names where people might not protest too loudly.  So, John might become Trevor and Maria might become Cinderella.  Alas, they did not hire me and my evil plan was thus thwarted.
More so back in California, I came across a lot of Asian people who swore Immigration had botched their names and the name on their green card didn't even resemble their true names. They were resigned to living out their days with their government name.  Boy, I wish I could've gone to work there.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy B Day

Well, today's my birthday.  Big deal.  I stopped caring about birthdays a long time ago.  If anything, I find them a bit depressing.  Another year has gone by and amazingly little accomplished. I'm not even getting any birthday cake--not even one slice.  No presents, either.  I did get a card in the mail.  That's about as good as it gets.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I haven't posted anything about flying saucers in a while.  They say the classic saucers like these have been pretty much replaced with triangles and barrel shaped UFOs.  I don't really know.  I just thought these were pretty cool pix.  Back at the first of the year I anxiously awaited the release of the flying saucer calendar.  It never came out. I was so bummed.  I wish the little green men would come by and let me take some pictures of their space ship for a calendar for next year.  That would be awesome!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Congratulations to the Duke & Dutchess of Cambridge

As of this posting, no name has been released for the new baby.  They always name these kids with real boring names like George or Charles. Frankly, I dearly wish they'd name him Otis. 

The Martians Are Already Here

The Martians Are Already Here!
It was a year ago that we released our "All Martian Spectacular."  This was a special issue all about Martians.  There's not a rehashing of the H.G. Wells story anywhere in sight.  I think what surprised many people is some of the stories are actually set on Mars.  That was not expected from a magazine set in the 1800s.   The print version is on sale this week for two dollars plus shipping.  Available through Amazon.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

new review

New Zealand author Lynn McConchie often reviews other publications on her website. Just reviewed is the latest issue of our sister publication Science Fiction Trails by guest reviewer Steve Johnson

Science Fiction Trails 10. large softcover format, June 2013. Published by SF Trails and edited by David B. Riley.

18 July 2013

Lyn passed this along to me once she’d read it, I read it overnight, and yup, a review and an easy one because I like what this editor does. He seems to have almost cornered the market on that difficult crossover, western and SF. Some of the stories are a little weaker than others, but they’re all very readable. I particularly enjoyed C.J.Killmer’s The Strongbox, (I could see where it was going but it was a great ride.) Vivian Caethe’s The Kid. (Very good twist on an old story.) and J.A. Campbell’s, Brown vs The Martians.(clever and amusing and I really liked the dogs.) Dave Riley must be doing something right because as he says himself, the first in the series sold very well and continued to sell, and has only recently been overtaken by sales of issues 6 and 8. And in the past seven years he has developed a stable of some solid writers who do this genre crossover well. To which I can add, that he’s also producing the series with some very good covers. I loved issue I’s cover, clip art or not, and really liked the front and back cover art on this one. A good job by all concerned.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Twinkies on the moon

It's the anniversary of the moon landing. Back in 1969 they wandered around the moon.  I sure wish they'd left a Twinkie on the moon. I bet it'd still be good.  The return of Twinkies to the store is sure a dud--no special promotions or displays or anything. Only one store around here even has any to sell.

I used to write to Congress to get them to have NASA sell off the moon rocks. They've got several hundred pounds sitting around. If they packed them up and auctioned them off it would bring in millions. That could go to pay down the national debt, but nobody seems to care.

Rocks from the moon would be worth millions

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ambulance Chasers

I'm going to great pains not to mention anyone specific.  I think it's amazing should you travel to various American cities and watch local shows like the news, you'll see some personal injury lawyer on one commercial after another touting "He got me $200,000."  There are other commercials, but there will be one dominant lawyer that kind of drowns the others out.  Then, go to another town and you'll find the same thing in the form of a different lawyer.   The question is: Do these advertisers actually do better for their clients than lawyers who don't advertise as much?  It's not just dollar amount.  If some lawyer got some client 2 million and that client had 3 million in injuries, that's not necessarily so great. 
What I really want to know is why is there always that one guy in Denver, and that other one guy in Las Vegas, and that one guy in Phoenix?  Do all the dumb ass clients just gravitate to one guy. He's a moron just like me, let's call him? Or is something else going on?
It used to be illegal for lawyers to advertise. Those were the days.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dock Diving Dogs

A few weeks ago they had a dock diving competition in Vail.  Tuesday night they had one on the Late Show With David Letterman.  In the case of the latter, they had a portable pool set up for it.

For those who don't know what this is, dogs jump off a dock to retrieve a plastic training stick. They're judged on how far they go. Some of these dogs really seem to fly.  It's so awesome. I'm amazed it's not bigger than the Superbowl.  Maybe it will be someday. 

From my observations, the dogs seem to really like doing this.  But make no mistake, if you watch the dogs who are waiting to jump, they are all locked on to the dog that's jumping. This is highly competitive.  I think it's the coolest sport on Earth.
A dog from an earlier competition

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I Write Like

There's this site.  I heard about it on the Horror Writers Association forum.  It's I Write Like...   How it works is you paste in some text of your writing, then it tells you what famous author you most write like.  Anyway, I apparently write like David Foster Wallace.  Try it yourself. 

I was hoping more for the likes of Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He's the guy who started his book "It was a Dark and Stormy Night."  If I had better computer skills  I could have fun with such a site.  I'd program it to match people with writing that didn't even resemble theirs.  So, someone who wrote flowery poetry would be compared to Hunter S. Thompson.  And a gruesome horror writer would come out compared to Mark Twain.  It's a good thing I'm not in charge of the world.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mobster Motors Part 3

Larry kept turning the nob on the camper’s window to the point Dave worried he’d break it. "I go out on weekends and look for aliens. I want to go to Area 51."

"Really?" Dave said. "Who’d have thought it?"

"I just wish it was a little cheaper," Larry said. "I don’t have the best job in the world."

"Really? Who’d have thought it?" Dave responded. "Uh, Larry, I’ve got something better than money I can offer you."

"What’s that?" Larry asked.

"We’ve got a dead alien in the freezer in back of the service department. Buy the camper and I’ll toss it in," Dave promised.

"For real?" Larry asked.

"For real," Dave promised.

An hour later Dave gave a final wave as Larry drove off in his camper.

"You sold that camper? Amazing," the boss said.

"He likes to hunt for aliens. I gave him one," Dave said. "Couldn’t be happier."

"An alien?" the boss asked.

"Yep. That guy in the freezer was from Colombia, I’m pretty certain. I painted the area around his eyes black. Larry couldn’t be happier," Dave explained.

"We love happy customers," the boss agreed.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mobster Motors Part 2

Our story continues...

Juan is looking over the car he’s interested in. He turns on the radio. A secret compartment on the dashboard open up and a bag of marijuana pops out. "What the?"

"Dang," Dave says. "I guess we forgot to check that."

"How come it gives out ganja?" Juan asks.

"This car used to be owned by drug smugglers," Dave replies. "Before they got killed."

"Awesome. I’ll take it," Juan decides.

"Let’s go inside and do some paperwork," Dave says.

"Can’t we smoke this first?" Juan asks.

"No, first the paperwork, then the ganja," Dave insists.

"Okay," Juan decides.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mobster Motors--Part 1

"Hi," Rodney says.  "I'm looking for a used car."
"Name's Dave.  You come to the right place.  We've got 'em."
Rodney keeps looking at a white little jobby down on the end of the row. "What about that one?"
"Well, why don't you take it for a spin," Dave offers.
As they pull out of the stall, Rodney asks, "What's that smell?" He pulls out on the road, then looks in the rear view mirror, then slams on the breaks. "It's shit!"
"Well, they all are, frankly," Dave says.
"No, on the back seat. That's shit! Right there on the seat!"
"Yeah, what's you point?" Dave asks.
"I can't believe you'd try to sell me a car with shit in it? That's shit back there," Rodney exclaims.
"Well, I'm sure as hell not touching it," Dave explains.  "Look, take it back. I got another car that doesn't have any shit in it."
Rodney suspiciously checks the back seat of the second car. "Okay, this one's clean." They pull out of the lot. "This car smells funny. I thought you said there weren't no shit."
"There is no shit in this car," Dave insists.
Rodney pulls over, gets out and opens the trunk. There are two dead bodies laying in the trunk. "Shit!"
"That is not shit. Those are dead bodies," Dave says.
"What the hell is wrong with you? Trying to sell me a car with bodies in the trunk?" Rodney is getting quite upset. 
"Look, driving around at any given time there are at least a hundred cars out there with a dead body in the trunk. It's not that unusual," Dave says. "Look, we'll take a hundred bucks off the price if it makes you happy."
"You are seriously screwed up, man." Rodney throws the keys on the ground and walks away.
Dave parks the car back in the lot.  His sales manager approaches.  "How'd it go?" the boss asks.
"He made a big deal out of those bodies.  I'm having a hard time selling cars with those in the trunk. Any ideas?"
"Well," the boss replies, "that's why we put the shit in that other car, to distract them about the bodies."
"It doesn't seem to be working," Dave says. "There seems to be some inherent problem in this country with shit all over stuff.  It doesn't bother them in other countries. How about I clean out the shit and we cover the bodies with carpet."
"Good man," boss agrees.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Old People

My dad is rather elderly.  It amazes me how old people come to vastly different conclusions about the universe than anyone else does.  For instances, my dad has had cell phones from three different companies this year.  He likes to go out into the local  national forest. Nothing wrong with that, but he's become obsessed with the turnoff from the highway onto the road that goes into the forest. The first cellphone didn't have service there.  He calls me and asks me about some other company. I couldn't tell much from their website.  So, he signs up, then gets his phone and takes it to the forest. It has no coverage. He boxes it up and returns it to the company.  Then he calls and wants to know about another service. "I don't know." So, he signs up for it and takes it out to the turnoff and it works. Hallelujah. There are thousands of places he might need service, but that one fixed point in time and space is all that matters. 

I've had the same service plan for 10 years and don't really care. If it doesn't pick up some place I'll just go on until I find somewhere that it does.  

Friday, July 12, 2013


Posts about some aspect of garbage are the most popular posts on this blog.  Our condo complex has a recycling bin.  It amazes me how many people dump stuff in there that's not recyclable. They put plastic bags in there. They refuse to flatten cardboard.  One family even puts stuff like used Kleenex in there. Used Kleenex? That is gross.  What are these people thinking.  I figure in the future they'll have android cops who will gun people down for such transgressions.  I'd hate to work at the recycling pace where they sort all the used Kleenex and stuff. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dogs in Goggles

Over at Steampunk Trails, where I am publisher, we're been kicking around a few cover ideas.  One thing that keeps coming up is having a couple of dogs in goggles that are in a motorized balloon speeding away from some form of danger.  I liked it, the artist liked it, but I still decided to move on to some other ideas because I was afraid it was too cutesy.  Still, I rather liked it. Sometimes we have to act for good of the project.

I suddenly find myself dealing with artists again.  It's the one chore that never escapes me.  I'm sure when I kick the bucket and arrive at hell they'll put me in charge of the art department.  But steampunk needs art and I'll obtain it.  But I still find dealing with artists frustrating. 
I like printers. Printers are fine people.  I had a dream last night about a printing shop.  And all the people who worked there were dogs. And all of the dogs were wearing goggles.  Wonder what Sigmund Freud would think of that?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Open Road

I can sort of understand the desire to take out on the open road, get bugs in your teeth, and all that.  But, I really wonder about some people.  It seems counterproductive to ride a motorcycle if you're going to tack on a trailer.  Maybe it's just me, but it seems dorky.  So, yesterday I watched some guy try and park his motorcycle at the town parking structure.  This guy couldn't do it. I kept thinking how hard could this be.  But, he's one of the wunderkinds out on the road that doesn't understand trailers turn the opposite of the towing vehicle.  Still, this was simply a motorcycle trailer, not a big rig. And this guy could not park it.  I sat there and watched in  disbelief.  After ten minutes he finally went down and pulled it face in at an empty space.  This guy had been trying to back in next to another bike. There was plenty of room.  I used to drive a large delivery truck and I could have pulled into this space.  What a dork, was all I could think.  At least it kept me entertained.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


In all the years of publishing stuff, dealing with flaky writers, getting stiffed for payments, arguing with printers, weathering bizarre reviews, nothing comes even close to those unpleasantries as dealing with artists. You offer them an assignment and you can't even get an answer if they want the job. I've actually waited three years for a cover assignment once and I am still waiting.  But I have never had one take my head off because I simply suggested a possible cover--until now. 

I don't know what it is about artists, but I've actually come to despise them.  If a writer acted half as unprofessionally he'd be drummed out of the business.  Yet any flake with a drawing pad can deliver items late, deliver something that doesn't resemble what they were hired for and blame the publication because it was a year late.  Oh how I miss the days when I could get stuff done with clip art. Alas, most clip art is of such poor quality it is useless in the days of digital publishing. Maybe someone out there has had better luck than I have.  I guess the solution is to become a truck driver. Truck drivers don't have to deal with artists. If I were ever summoned to a jury for a trial about someone in publishing who went around killing artists, I'd vote to let that guy off in a nanosecond. 

Monday, July 8, 2013


One thing that helps me relax is playing chess.  I have a computer program that's pretty darn good.  Alas, I seldom play humans because I don't know many people who can play.  Back when I worked resort jobs I played more, though few people could beat me and the pool of players diminished over time.  I think chess is the finest game ever developed.  My high school did not have a chess team.  I always felt deprived and emotionally stunted because of this.  One of the teachers let kids play in his room during lunch hour.  We even had multiple chess sets.  It wasn't a bad getup, but it was not the same as going on the road and conquering those evil people at enemy schools. 

"Chicks don't really dig chess players. You gotta play football." That was my answer when I inquired as to why we didn't have a team.  Other schools in the bay area had teams.  The economics of extracurricular activities set in.  Simply put, football beings in money. Chess does not.  There  were no funds to coach or transport a team.  And that was it.  I asked the teacher who advised (told them what to do) our student council if he played chess.  He did not.  What a shock.
I don't recall ever playing chess in college--not even once.  I feel really deprived. So, when I see grumpy middle aged men playing chess in large cities like New York, I'm a bit envious. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Case of the Bastard Stepchild

I mentioned recently that Six Guns Straight From Hell has been retired. I'll miss it but the show must go on.  What's always baffled me is Low Noon.   It's the same size as Six Guns.  About 2/3 of the writers in it are the same. It's the same sort of content. Yet it has languished in obscurity. Where Six Guns got some rather good reviews, Low Noon  has been mostly ignored.  The sales of it aren't near what the other book was.  I had hoped that people would say "I liked that other one by this editor" and buy Low Noon as well. But, that has not happened.  Low Noon remains the unwanted bastard stepchild and just has never really caught on.  It's got one of the best gunfights I've ever read. Alas, I can't make people buy it. 
Just remember: when your kids grow up delinquent and your spouse leaves you, that probably wouldn't have happened if you'd bought a copy of Low Noon.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Review, The Lone Ranger

I don't review movies very often.  I guess that's because few people care what I think, so the whole process is an exercise in futility.  Sometimes I just want to comment on one.

I think, all in all, they tried to cram too much into this film.  There's a clumsy exchange between Tonto and a young boy that tells part of the story but is a really inefficient form of narration.  That said, this is a very active movie.  There is just tons of action.  It's got train crashes and shootouts and all sorts of stuff as we learn the origins of the Lone Ranger. And there are some really funny moments here and there. Then we get to Tonto.  This movie is Tonto's story and we interestingly enough learn a lot about Tonto--his motives and his own emotional baggage. Johnny Depp steals the show. His likable and humorous character really delivers. So, while not a perfect film, it is well worth the price of admission.  It's a fun romp through the Wild West and there's nothing wrong with that.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Went to the movies

I went to see the Lone Ranger yesterday. Then I walked home, which is about a mile. Then I remembered I drove to the theater, so I had to walk a mile back to the theater to retrieve my Ford.  Saw the Lone Ranger.  I may review it soon.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy July 4th

Happy July 4th everyone. You can review last year's post about buying fireworks from Chines gangs in San Francisco back in my youth.

I'm also quite proud to mention a new review from SF Site for Science Fiction Trails 10. 

From last year's postings.

Growing up in California, we used to go across the bay to San Francisco. There, in Chinatown, you could easily buy just about anything you wanted.  On almost any street corner, some guy would ask "firecracker?" and you could reply, "bottle rocket." and then he would likely say something like "guy in red shirt, next block." Then you go to the next block, discuss the price and some little kid would come running up with a paper bag full of bottle rockets.  It was a remarkably simple transaction. If you wanted something like barrel bombs, which are even more illegal and much more powerful, they could be had, although you usually had to go to some third guy to obtain them.  And then pick up a bowl of hot and sour soup, hop back on BART and that was that. 

Although the real fireworks were illegal, every July fourth roared with exploding skyrockets and the rat-tat-tat of firecrackers going off.  My favorites were the bottle rockets. They only cost a little more than firecrackers, yet they flew. A tremendous value. And, the biggest lesson learned from all of this--the illegal fireworks purchased from the friendly and efficient Chinese gangs were actually cheaper than the safe and sane fireworks sold legally by price gougers operating in the name of some dubious nonprofit organization.

Ah, the memories.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Epitaph, Six Guns Straight From Hell

I spent yesterday closing the books on Six Guns Straight From Hell. By that, I mean I sent out final royalty payments to the contributing authors.  I'd already closed the sales of the book.  It's not the first time I've closed products and removed them.  The first few issues of Science Fiction Trails long ago rode off into the sunset, mainly because we changed printers.  We had one anthology where there was a contract dispute. It didn't sell well anyway, so I just quietly dropped it. 

But Six Guns was different. It's been our best selling product for the past three years.  It was not pulled for lack of sales.  For better or worse, the contracts I wrote with the contributors have expired and I no longer can publish the  stories.  I know I could've tried to renegotiate, but I decided to simply let the book go on to anthology Boot Hill.
Some folks didn't think it was dark enough.  The overwhelming trend in weird westerns these days is really dark fiction.  I prefer more character driven horror stories than some folks do, I guess.  Those people who actually read it seemed to like it.  I was always proud of it.  If, somehow, anyone missed it, there are still used copies with many online bookstores. There are a few new copies available at Written World  Books in Colorado Springs, Braodway Book Mall in Denver and Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago.  These folks will ship. 
So, I'll just say thank you to my co-editor on this project, Laura Givens. We had some arguments over this book, but ended up with something we could feel pretty darned good about.
And I'd like to thank the contributors.  Without your stories there would never have been a book like this in the first place.  Maybe if you're hoisting a glass tonight, have a toast for Six Guns.
Finally, we have no western horror books planned for this year.  I don't know what the future will hold. Low Noon and Gunslingers & Ghost Stories remain on the market. Our magazines will continue. Science Fiction Trails just released the tenth issue and the new kid on the block, Steampunk Trails, will debut in October.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Full Steam Ahead

Over at Steampunk Trails, where I am publisher, things are moving ahead for our debut issue.  We just got our lettering. I rather like it.

We've had some difficulty deciding on a subtitle.  Some days we seem to like something to the effect of Steaming Ahead to Adventure.   And, sometimes we're not so sure we need it. 

Then there's the dog in goggles.   [Actually there are two of them now]   Nothing says ready for adventure like a dog in goggles.  Still, I haven't quite decided whether to keep the dog in goggles or not. 

Otherwise stories and articles are coming together.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Obscure History

Last week I was challenged to write a short story based on an obscure and uneventful part of history. In turn, today I challenged  a few writers to write stories on other obscure points of history.  I don't know how widespread this concept will go, but time will tell. Thus far, all challenges have taken place at some point during the 1800s.  At the end of the day, I have no idea how many stories will come out of this or what will become of them.

I do know that I rather enjoyed writing my assigned story about the early days of Calamity Jane when she washed dishes for a living.  Likewise, dreaming up stories for other challenges was fun--though not at all easy.  That certain point, where it has no real importance to history and yet still leaves someone a fighting chance to come up with an entertaining story is not always easy to settle on.

There's something a bit odd about writing a story that someone else chose for you.  Reporters do it all the time, but not fiction writers. For us it's weird.  

Points not chosen.  I considered breaking the 1800s rule.  For one thing, I always wondered what it was like to be on Apollo 11 during the moon landing--not the lander, on board the orbiter sitting there by yourself for three days just orbiting the moon all the while aware the order could come to return home alone. This was dangerous business. But, wrong century. 

Also passed over was George Atzerodt, a man assigned by John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Vice President Johnson.  Instead, he had a few drinks and wondered around Washington the rest of the night.  Obscure? Sort of, but not really. 

Anyway, if there are any noteworthy developments on this project I'll mention them at some future posting in time, if and when the stories come back in I'll mention what they were.