Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dark N Stormy Markets

Writers are always whining about the lack of markets. Yet, since I've been on both side of the fence, I've seen projects go begging for lack of submissions.  Such is the case with an anthology I've been reading for. It's a quirky one playing on the infamous story beginning "It was a dark and stormy night."  In spite of widely publicizing it to writers, the response has been disappointing.   Now, if any contributors are reading this they shouldn't despair. I honestly do not know if there are enough publishable stories yet or not.  I'll inform folks in due course.   Still, it continues to confirm my widely held view that writers do not write for markets, but try to convince themselves markets meet their stories lying around--even though they seldom do. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year in review

Most folks who know me know I detest year in review retrospective type stuff.  So, there won't be any year in review here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy New Year?

I'm always relieved a bit when Christmas is over.  And, for the record, Santa stiffed me yet again.  But, now we get a week of year-in-review stories. Every single news and entertainment show on the planet feels obligated to rehash the past pathetic year.  I find this so tiring and tedious.  But, there is nothing I can do about it.  Frankly, the very concept of a year is arbitrary.  That's how long it takes for Earth to orbit the sun, but we could just as easily use some other basis.  In other words, there isn't really anything that significant about the point in time that is January 1st.  It's a random place in time that's been given significance by the people who sell calendars and produce news programs that have to recap the year that was.  For a long time, before the current Gregorian calendar, we didn't really know when the new year started because the old Roman calendar was so screwed up. The Chinese knew. the Mayans knew. But those of us whose ancestors are from Europe were clueless. 

So, I hope everyone got what they wanted for Christmas. I didn't get a damn thing.  But I'm fine with that. Over they years most presents I got were something I didn't like anyway.  So, enjoy the holidays and do yourself a favor and avoid those horrible retrospective shows that are everywhere this coming week. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

It's been about  45 years since you've left anything underneath my Christmas tree.  Would it kill you to drop off a Marvin the Martian toy once and a while?  I've given up hope of getting the helper you had at the mall. The cute one with the red hair. I wrote and asked for her last year. I realize you're probably keeping her for yourself when Mrs. Claus isn't around.  Still, would it kill you to drop off something once every couple of decades?  There won't be any milk and cookies near the tree tonight.  But there will be a nice glass of Bourbon to cut through that winter chill. Stop by and have yourself a snort.  You must at least have one of those crappy snow globes. Surely you could spare one of them.  Just something.

While you're at it, for those folks who love to read, you might drop off a copy of Six Guns Straight From Hell 2. That's my latest anthology.  Gunslingers & Ghost Stories is another thought.  People like ghost stories.  I'm sure you can find half a million or so people who would enjoy a nice book.  So have yourself a nice Christmas.

Your pal,


Christmas Stories

Well, the animated Christmas specials are out.  I can't believe how awful most of them are--especially the newer ones. "Pointless waste of time."  They haven't made a good new animated special in years. They're all crap.    Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer just had its 50th anniversary.  I like that one. I also liked the Grinch, the animated story not the movie. The original Frosty the Snowman is good, but the sequel has all the charm of a dead possum at the side of a road waiting for the roadkill truck that never comes to scoop it away.

There was another special I always liked, but I can't recall the name of it. It had these little dancing fire guys and dancing snow guys. It was about some strife between green Christmas and white Christmas, reflecting the northern and southern regions of our country.  Oh well.

If you tire of the same old crap, download a copy of Penny Dread Tales IV.  My story in said book is called "The Toy Men" and is a steampunk take on the Christmas toy thing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

If it all happened today

What follows has been reprinted many times. Frankly, I don't know what the origin of it is.  I first got it many years ago from Aaron B. Larson. He never told me where it came from. 

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, kidnapping, 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."

Monday, December 22, 2014

Guaranteed My Ass

I bought something and paid extra to Amazon for guaranteed delivery.  I wanted it for a Christmas party.  Well, it's not coming because it's weather delayed.  And it doesn't look like anyone has any intention of refunding my shipping. So, what the hell is the point in paying extra when you're just tossing your money down a rat hole?  Since they clearly can't deliver on their promises, I submit that these damned companies and their shipping partners should simply stop guaranteeing  stuff.  After the fiasco of last year, you'd think they'd learn something.  There are always loopholes in the fine prints, so guaranteed delivery by a certain date means absolutely nothing. I'll certainly have to reconsider doing business with Amazon or UPS going forward.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Saturday, December 20, 2014


A while back I mentioned my quandary of whether to make homemade Christmas cards or buy some at the store.  Well, I made homemade ones, except for three people I sent store bought cards that were left over from last year.  Now, my cards are a might bit strange.  Some people don't like them.  I will try and post them here sometime this weekend.  Then everyone can hate them.

Friday, December 19, 2014


I don't know what to think of the Ascension mini series on SyFy.  Pointless waste of time is my best summary,  The SyFy channel has become something of a joke amongst science fiction fans.  Guess what, it still is. If anybody found anything redeeming about this show, feel free to comment here on this blog.

And one final thought. Who would go off to some other star like Proxima Centauri without any idea if it was even habitable?  Seriously, we only recently even developed the ability to tell if there are planets around stars and get an idea of their temperatures and such.  Fifty years ago no such technology existed.  Ergo, these people thought they were going to a star system that likely did not have anyplace where they could survive. Only a moron would do something like this. It does not appear to have a habitable planet. They'd get there and die if they'd actually gone.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

low prices

I'm amazed at how low the price of gas has dropped.  It's a lot less painful filling up my tank.  I almost feel like I can afford to go to Denver. When it cost fifty bucks to drive down there, I wasn't real enthusiastic about it.

Monday, December 15, 2014


I've lamented before about the lack of change in the Colorado mountains. Well, the situation has not improved.  I'm talking about change--coin of the realm. For some reason a number of restaurants in these here parts can't or won't count out change. They just hand you the paper money and keep the change as some sort of unnoticed tax on the consumer. Well, I notice.  I usually just take it back off the tip I would have left or something.  Yesterday the tab for my sandwich was $9.08 and I gave the waitress a twenty. My change was ten bucks.  So, they just kept  92 cents, nearly a dollar, for the heck of it.  I complained and they didn't seem to see any problem with shorting me "It's close enough, man." is what I was told.  If I had shorted them a dollar I would've heard about it.  Well, I won't eat lunch at this particular place again. And, it is against the law in Colorado not to give people their full change, but most laws (especially this one) aren't worth the paper they are printed on.  Count your change people! It's probably wrong.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Stranded Santa

One thing I always thought I should do was get dressed up like Santa Claus and wander around on Christmas eve muttering "Damned blasted reindeer took off and left me. I ain't Fu*!@in walkin' back to the North Pole."    Alas, I've never actually done it--figuring it probably wouldn't go as well as the original concept.  Still, it's no stranger than anything else about Santa.   If I sat in a chair and asked girls I don't even know to sit on my lap, well it just doesn't go over that well. Put on some red suit and they hop right up.   Face it, Santa Claus is a bizarre individual.  So, stranded Santa isn't any stranger than anything else with this guy. So, if I ever do this, these are the lines I was thinking about.

"Hey buddy, can you take me to the North Pole? Yeah I'm fu*in serious. Should've given you a lump of coal when you were six instead of that damned bicycle." [taxi drivers only]

"Hey lady, can I sleep on your couch tonight?  Fu*in reindeer stranded me.  Hell, I been watching you sleep for years."

"Well, thanks for the milk and cookies, but I'm lactose intolerant and what I really need are the keys to your car."

"Hey kid, Santa's not really sleeping in your yard. It's all a dream."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

entrenched rudeness

I have come to believe there is a mindset in the publishing industry that rudeness is essential. Over this past year, I have submitted five book manuscripts in accordance with publishers guidelines, 10 book proposals and 35 query letters, all following the instructions on the respective web sites.  Of those, I received two terse replies.  None of the other publishers bothered to respond at all.  I do not think this experience is unusual.  Whatever the actual reason, the excuse of not enough time is a stretch. A short email reply takes only seconds.  Oddly, before email when they mailed back form letters is the enclosed SASE, I got a much better response rate than I do now.  

Now, I happen to be editing an anthology.  No matter what I think of the submissions, at the end of the reading period everyone will get a response.  So, I guess there must be something wrong with me. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Messing Around

Back in California I used to hang around with some guy and it was one of those we could finish each other's sentences type of deals.  One thing we liked to do, particularly on the occasional trip to San Francisco [where they had lots of high rise buildings] was to get in the elevator with some unsuspecting individual and start having an outlandish conversation.  Some favorites were:

"How'd you get the body out of there before the cops showed up?"
"We just tossed her out the window and she landed in the dumpster.  After dark we just dug her out of there and tossed her in the bay."
"Aren't you afraid she'll float back up?"
"Nah. Thing you gotta watch for with bodies is cut open the abdomen and put a couple rocks in there. Then they never come up."

"Did you find anyone to kill your boss yet?"
"Damn, you wouldn't believe what assassins want these days.  But I need  to get him killed. I can't take much more of this."
"What about Larry?"
"I don't trust drug addicts.  They're just not reliable."
"I know what you mean."

"Aren't you afraid they'll find out?"
"Been taking a G a month for five years and they ain't caught on yet?"
"Someday they will. Bound to. It adds up to a shitload of money."
"Haven't yet. I'll just go to Brazil and disappear if they get on to me."

And so on.  Of course the real fun was watching the people in the elevator as they tried to act like they weren't paying any attention.  Little old ladies were the best.  

And what brought this up?  Well, I was just reminiscing.  I guess one could just use a cellphone and do the same thing, but I think two actual people talking about stuff is more convincing.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Free Story

David B. Riley

Dan looked over the application for a moment, then placed it back on top of the desk. “Why do you want to work for Stacy Tours?”

“Uh, I’ve heard really good things about your company,” the pretty brunette said. “I’ve got a degree in travel and tourism.”

“I see.” Dan picked back up the application.  “Very impressive, but there is one thing.” He placed the application back on the desk. “The next place you apply to, there is no North Dakota State College.”

Her eyes widened. “There’s not?”

“Afraid not,” Dan assured her.

“I don’t get the job?”


She stood, stared blankly for a moment, then walked out of the office.  Dan nearly made it back to his desk when he heard the voice of his employer. “Dan!”

He turned and smiled “Yes Stacy?”

“Have you been interviewing people again?” she asked.

“No. Whatever do you mean?” he asked.

“Then, why is there an application on my desk.”

“There is no North Dakota,” Dan said.

Stacy’s pretty blue eyes seemed to try to roll up inside her head. “Not that again.”

“We book hundreds of vacations each day.  I checked in the computer, not one single booking for anyone from North Dakota.  It’s some kind of conspiracy.”  Dan picked up his telephone headset.  “There is no such place. It’s some kind of government thing.  Three electoral votes to do with as they please. Have you ever even met anybody from North Dakota?”

“We take people there. We just did a Mt. Rushmore tour, last month,” she insisted.

“South Dakota.”

She crossed her arms in front of herself. “We went to Little Bighorn.”


She started rubbing her temples with her thumbs.  “Unbelievable.” Stacy sighed. “Dan, you won’t be needing that headset you’re holding”

“How come?”

“I think you need some time off.”

“How much time off?” he asked.

“As much time as it takes to find another job,” she said.
Dan’s alarm went off at four thirty.  He grabbed a quick shower, then strolled over to the parking lot.  The charter bus pulled up right on time.  The door swung open.  “Hi Chuck,”

The driver looked around. “Where are the people?”

“Just me,” Dan said.

Chuck looked at his manifest. “You chartered a bus, just for one person?”

“Yep.  It’s on the Stacy Tours billing account..”

He shrugged.  “Where we going?”

“North Dakota.”

Chuck looked over his worn Texaco road map.  “Never been there.”

“I thought as much.”  Dan relaxed in the front row.  “Let’s go.”

They got out of Denver with minimal traffic and headed north.  They made good time and were in Wyoming before lunch time.  Dan didn’t want to, but Chuck insisted on buying Fritos at a Wal-Mart in Casper.   Then, they headed east.  It wasn’t long before they passed a welcome to South Dakota sign.

“We’re there, “ Chuck announced.  “Where are we going?”

“North Dakota,” Dan insisted.

“Oh, yeah.”

They refueled and ate burritos at a truck stop in Rapid City.  All gassed up, they headed north.  They drove and drove for a really long time.  Chuck seemed to be nodding off.  Dan shook his shoulder.

“Can’t we take a break?” Chuck asked.

“We’re almost there,” Dan assured him.

Ten minutes later, they drove up to a place that looked like an awning across the highway. They stopped at the stop sign.  A man in a clean white uniform approached the bus. “Welcome to Canada,” he said.

“Canada?” Dan asked.  “What happened to North Dakota?”

“You just left it.  What is your business in Canada?” he asked.

“We’re apparently lost,” Dan said.  “Can we turn around and go back?”

“Suit yourselves.”

As Chuck turned the bus around, Dan did not like the way the guy at the border station was talking into his radio. Something just didn’t seem right.  They sped back down the highway they’d just come from.  “There’s no North Dakota sign. No U. S. Customs.”

“Beats me,” Chuck agreed.

They drove for about an hour before a car with red and blue lights pulled them over. Dan opened the door and got out of the bus. “What’s the problem, officer?”

The car with the lights said South Dakota State Police on its door.  “Where are you fellas heading?” the trooper asked.

“North Dakota,” Dan said.

“This is South Dakota.”

“Go figure?” Dan shrugged.

“Just two of you in that bus?”


“I see.” The trooper went back to his car.  Dan didn’t like the way he was talking into his radio.

 Then, he returned.  “I need you boys to put your hands on the hood of the car.”  His gun was drawn.

“There is no North Dakota!” Dan screamed.

“Put your hands on the hood of the car and nobody will get hurt,” the trooper insisted.

This story first appeared in The Writer's Post Journal

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Books For Christmas

If you're looking for a gift for someone, books aren't a bad way to go, at least for those on your list who can read.  And not just my books.  There are two others I'd like to recommend. Both are new books that have just been published.  

First off is Brown: Ghost Hunting Dog.  I don't think anything is tougher than writing animal stories. J. A. Campbell consistently pulls it off.  This is a collection of stories about her ghost hunting dog, Brown.  These are some very entertaining and clever stories. There's even a brand new previously unpublished novella.  Don't worry about these being about some border collie--they're as fully entertaining as any human based ghost story.  And, one non ghost adventure is also in the book when Brown saves the world from some pretty nasty Martian invaders.

Also out is the Coming of Crow, a collection of  stories about Joel Jenkins' popular Native American gunfighter, Lone Crow.  I've reviewed this book on Amazon and won't repeat myself here.  These stories have a supernatural twist.. I can honestly say that I've never seen better done gunfights anywhere.

Both are available from Amazon.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Xmas kardz

I've been trying to decide if I want to make my own Christmas cards this year or just buy some at the store.  Darned things are getting rather expensive.  However, I've found most people don't seem to like my homemade cards.  Oh, they say they do, but somehow my homemade cards always get misplaced. They're never the ones on the fireplace mantle [they may be in the fireplace when it's lit]. So, I'm leaning toward making them anyway.  I can't draw for crap.  But that's never stopped me before.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Some things it just doesn't work out to buy them online.  I bought a watch last week and it arrived yesterday.  I hated it. It was big and clunky, not like the picture.  I decided to return it.  There is something to be said for being able to actually look at and see an item before purchase.  Cordless phones are all pretty much the same, but something you're going to wear every single day--maybe not.  I know this isn't anything profound.  No matter how good a deal you get for super cyber Thursday or whatever insanity they call each day now, if you don't like the product it doesn't matter how cheap it is.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mild weather

The local weather has been quite mild.  I'm sure it'll get cold again soon.  November's often a very cold month in Colorado.  It's given me an excuse to put off looking for a winter coat.  I need a new one, but I just hate shopping for coats.  I never like anything.  And the local stores are pretty much crap.  I buy a lot of stuff online, but never fare too well with outerwear.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I don't know why the mercantile establishments can't let people have one holiday where they're not using it as an excuse for crass commercialism.  Veterans Day is an excuse for mattress sales,  We have to buy everything in the world for Christmas or we're told the economy will collapse. Now Black Friday is creeping into Thanksgiving in a big way.  Can't they leave us alone for just one day a year?

Monday, November 24, 2014


I've said it before.  Nobody can cook a turkey better than I can.  I really mean it.  My turkeys are awesome.  I usually cook them over mesquite charcoal.  They're moist and delicious. Even  if you want your turkey in the oven, let me offer a couple of tips that will improve your experience. 

First, don't stuff the turkey. It'll cook so much better if you do the stuffing on the stove top. Your stuffing will taste just as good and the bird will cook much better. I mean it. Trust me on this.

Second, if you cook over charcoal additional seasonings are not really necessary. If you want to use the oven, season the darned thing.  There are plenty of seasonings. Use whatever you like, but put it inside and out.  Barbecue sauce works very well, but don't put it on too soon or it'll burn.  

Last, don't get too big a bird.  Frankly, the larger turkeys are the ones that usually turn out dry when served because it simply takes forever to cook them and they get dried out.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I really hate cable TV.  The only reason I put up with it is because the satellite options seem to be worse.  My main gripe is the way they constantly try to force you to pay exorbitant amounts of money to watch what you want.  They split up similar channels in a scheme to make you upgrade to have what you want–and the alternative is a huge amount of dreadful channel options that I can't believe anyone actually watches.   So, to that end, if I had my own cable TV company, these are some channels I've dreamed up that I'd offer my customers. I think these are far superior to what is currently offered on my cable package.

Post Office channel– 24 hour viewing of postal employees as they sort mail and load and unload trucks.

Pharmacy channel.–view pharmacists fill prescription orders all day long.

Bus driver channel–visit the exciting world of inner city bus drivers as they drive around town all day taking people where they need to go.

The fish channel–put underwater cameras in a lake and film the fish as they swim around all day.

The cloud channel–rooftop cameras take pictures of clouds all day long/Star channel, at night the cloud channel becomes a view of the stars.

Commercial vision–all commercials all day  and all night long.

Runway channel–watch airplanes take off and land on an actual airport runway.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Collecting stories

I've been trying to put together a collection of stories.  In the industry, it's an author collection if it's a bunch of stories by a single author. If it's a bunch of stories by different authors, then it's called an anthology.  Since I have so many disparate types of stories, it's a challenge getting a set of them that actually fit together. Well, I think I've come up with a collection of stories that just might work. Now I have to convince the publisher that it works.  Strangely, I've never pitched a story collection before. I've pitched novels and anthologies and lots and lots of  individual stories, but never a story collection. So, this is actually going to be uncharted waters for me.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I had a little LED flashlight that I really loved.  This was one of the so-called  key chain lights which are very compact. It's amazing how inexpensive these things have gotten and how bright they are. Emphasis on had. I dropped it and broke it.  And I'm finding it very hard to find one like it. Most of them seem to have the need to constantly press some button. Sure, I can order them from online and mail order places, but the shipping is more than the lights.  I'm sure I'll eventually track one down somewhere--but it is proving a bit harder than I would've imagined. 

Monday, November 17, 2014


One thing about those of us who write genre fiction is conventions--cons.  It's the time of the year where I start looking at what cons I might be interested in going to.  In my case, it's a short list. I've never had much luck with the Texas cons.  There's enough talent in Texas that they don't really need me.  One of the bigger Colorado cons doesn't seem to like me.  And there are some that are simply not ones I'm all that interested in.  Then you factor in travel expenses. And some of them give you a table where you can sell stuff while others don't.  And that list really shrinks fast.  Then you factor in your day job and that list is even smaller.  So, I'm looking at going to five cons next year.  That's all. I may not even make it to that many, but that's the preliminary list I'm starting with.  

A few months ago, I was seriously considering no longer attending them at all.  They start all looking the same after a few years of attending these things.  But, I've noticed that sales of my books spike when I go to these things. They clearly are important in developing a base of loyal readers. So, I think the orange duffel bag will see some action next year.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Free Story

David B. Riley

Wendell paused for a moment, just long enough to take a peak at the guys in gray suits coming out of Mr. Ayoley’s office.  Then, he went back to his cart.  Being a picker at the book warehouse was the best job he’d had in such a long time–way better than the hog farm. He looked at the clock.  It was almost lunch time and there were gobs of orders piling up.

“Hoag, to my office,” he heard on the speaker.

He could pretend he didn’t hear it, maybe get another half hour’s pay.  He put down the order sheet.  What was the use?  Wenell Oliver Hoag somberly marched toward the warehouse office.  “Busy today, sir,” Wendell said.

Mr. Ayoley put down one of his dreadful bargain basement cigars and stared at him, then out the window.  “Hoag, how long have you been here?”

“Three weeks, sir,” Wendell replied.

“Well, things just aren’t working out.”

“In what way, sir?” Wendell asked.

His head seemed to be shaking and he was doing that nervous twitch.  “It just isn’t. Go by accounting and pick up your last check.”
Wendell yanked the eviction notice off his door and went inside the dingy studio apartment.  He looked at his prized green and white Coleman tent that was so neatly folded up underneath the table.  “I’m gonna need you, buddy.”

He went to the door. Someone was knocking.  It was Phillip.

“Dude, I’ve got something,” his neighbor said.

“Not so close, guy. Your breath could kill a skunk,” Wendell pleaded.

“Oh, right.”  Phillip spread some papers all over the top of the little table that was one of the few furnishings in the apartment.  “Check this out.”

“What is this stuff?” Wendell asked.

“It’s the budget.  What the government spends on stuff.”


Phillip looked like he’d discovered a new planet or something.  “They can’t hide the money, dude.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Wendell asked.

“Check this out.”  He pointed at one of the pages he’d printed out.

Wendell looked at the tiny print and wished he had the money to buy glasses. Highlighted, in yellow, was an entry for something called Bureau of Miscellaneous Affairs. “So?”

Phillip handed him another page.  Also in yellow was, Office of Making People Miserable.

“What is this?”

“Read on, dude,” Phillip said.

A third page showed Wendell Hoag Unit.  “What?” Wendell asked in disbelief. “I’m in the budget?”
“Remember when, last week, you said you thought the government was out to get you? Dude, they are,” Phillip explained.

It seemed impossible. “A government department just to make me miserable?”

“Yeah.”  Phillip showed him another page.  “They got an office downtown.”

“That was in the budget?”

“No, the phone book, dude.”

“Should I go there?” Wendell asked.

Phillip pointed out, “What have you got to lose?”

Wendell looked at his watch.  It was getting late and there was packing to do. “First thing in the morning.”

“Right on,” Phillip agreed.

His gut tightened as he walked down the marble steps to the basement of the downtown post office.  There, in frosted glass on the door of room 107A, was his name.  He turned the handle and went inside. It was a small office. There was only one person inside, a nondescript man with glasses dressed in a gray suit.  The man looked up from his computer terminal.  “Well, hello Wendell.”

“You’re not surprised to see me?”

“Heck no. We’ve got your apartment bugged,” the man replied.

“I can’t believe this is real.”

“Believe it.  A whole government office dedicated to making your life completely miserable,” the man said.

“All the jobs I’ve been fired from?”


“I can’t keep an apartment.”

“Us,” he said proudly.

Wendell sat on the little wooden bench near the door.  His legs were shaking so badly he needed to sit down. He’d hoped this was just another of Phillip’s conspiracy theories.  “My college has no record I ever attended there.”



The man shrugged.  “Beats me. We’re just doing our job.”

“Just doing your job!”

The man leaned back in his swivel chair and put his feet up on the cardboard desk. Wendell recognized it as the same type of cardboard desk they had at the Census Bureau before he got fired there. 

“Look, somewhere along the line, you pissed off somebody in Congress–an aide or someone. Maybe cut somebody off on the freeway or something. They slid a line into the budget.” He made some sort of gesture toward the ceiling. “And, poof, here we are. Nobody ever actually reads the budget. What a colossal waste of money. Yet, here we are making your life pure hell. And we do it so well.”

“I thought about killing myself,” Wendell said.

“We’d probably lose our funding if you did that.”

“I can’t even keep a job.”

“Those are easy,” the man explained. “Mr. Ayoley didn’t want to fire you. He said you’re a good worker. You don’t fart in the break room or anything.  But, when we pull out their tax returns and ask what time of day they prefer their audit, they always fold.” He sat back upright. “Personal relationships are harder.  They often require cash.”  He was silent for a moment. “Remember that redhead you liked? Heather something?”

“I wanted to marry her.”

“Yeah, I know.  She held out for a lot of money,” the man explained.

“I came home and she was doing the UPS guy on the floor,” Wendell pointed out.

“Well, we have to make sure the government’s money is well spent. Besides, chicks dig UPS guys. It wasn’t really that hard.”

Wendell put his face in the palms of his hands.  “I have this to look forward to for the rest of my life?”

“Or the rest of the fiscal year, whichever comes first.”

Wendell glared at his accuser. “I could get a gun and come back here.”

“Go ahead,” the man taunted, “we’d love to get you in prison. We can do all kinds of things there. You like getting raped in the butt, Wendell?”  He started writing on a notepad. “Actually, we need to work on that, anyway.”

Wendell started for the door. “I’ve gotta get out of here.”

“Good idea. Nice meeting you, Wendell,” the man said.

“Thanks to you, I’m living in a campground.”

“Actually,” the man looked at his watch, “there was just a fire at the campground.”

Wendell climbed inside Phillip’s VW van that smelled like cat liter. Phillip had no cats. “It was all there. The government’s out to get me.”

“That’s what I been telling you, dude,” Phillip said.

Phillip drove him out to the campground. The fire trucks were still parked near the restroom as the firemen packed up their hoses. Then, Wendell couldn’t believe his eyes.  His prized Coleman tent stood in front of him, unscathed.  Some guy with a beard in the next row over was crying as he surveyed what was left of his trailer.  But, Wendell’s tent was intact. His sleeping bag was intact.  He rummaged through his duffel bag.  His Pulitzer Prize trophy was still there.  The government couldn’t even burn out some poor homeless guy without screwing it up.  Life was suddenly good.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Great value!

Discount Offer

In keeping with the spirit of Black Friday, anyone can get 25% off the ebook version  of Six Guns Straight From Hell 2 now through the end of November.  As these are two different companies the codes are different.
For the ebook just go to  and enter coupon code  ST46K

Wait, there's more!
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For the Print Book get 25% off.
discount code              PUH8KKZC

Winter discontents

We don't really have seasons in the mountains of Colorado.  I mean, yeah the aspen trees turn yellow for a few days, but we don't have that crisp autumn weather. Most years, it goes from nice mild days to brrrr overnight.  That's what happened here this past week.  It was nice, then it was cold--really cold. It takes my mind some time to catch up and to reset from summer mode to winter mode.  I guess I'm finally converted over to winter mode now.  Now I check the thermometer on the porch. I don't know why.  It just seems like something you do when the snow is flying.  Now my thoughts turn from not catching fish to trying not to slip and break anything.

That's the big difference from being a little kid and getting older. Little kids sort of bounce if they fall over. Last time I slipped on the ice I spent six weeks in physical therapy and was thankful I didn't break anything.  I'm really more of a summer person.  Five more months of this crap.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Very short stories

Caroline came running down to the kitchen, where her mother was making the morning coffee. "Mom, I was lying naked on my bed and the window washer guy looked in and saw me."
"Sweetie," her mother replied, "we don't have anyone who washes our windows."


Ralphie, the faithful golden retriever of the Jefferson family, bounded over and inside the Buick, ready to go for an exciting ride in the car. Then he realized the people in the car were not his family and the family Buick was parked next to the car he was in.


Johnnie, after spending eight hours trying to catch a fish at the pond, decided it was time to give up. He'd tried six different types of bait and three different types of fishing line to no avail.  Then, he nervously noticed a game warden was parked nearby and he had no license.  He went to his car and put away his gear.  The warden paid him no attention.  Guilt overcame him and he went over to the warden and said, "I don't have a license."

"Don't worry about it," said the warden.

"You're letting me go?"

"Well," said the game warden, "I couldn't figure out why some dumb ass would spend all day trying to catch fish in a sewage plant retaining pond. I guess you can use a break."

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Worm postings

My recent posting about worms had a very large number of page views. Heck, it even surpassed the garbage postings, which have always been the most popular.  I've never posted about worms before. They're just not something folks talk about much.  A long time ago, I wrote a short essay on how I'd terraform a planet.  I said I'd get some worms and put them in the soil. Of course, you first have to have some plants or else there would not be anything to sustain the worms if it was just sterile dry soil. But it was plants, then worms.  Everyone else writing wanted trees and pheasants and things. I though worms would be better for a world that wasn't quite ready for the sustaining life bit.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Around where I live a lot of the fishing is artificial lures only.  There's a tendency with trout to swallow bait so far down that the fish will die if it's thrown back.  As they want to encourage catch and release, they require lures as they tend to hook the fish in the mouth area. But there are places in Colorado where you can use bait, especially in lakes.  So, I was surprised to see some Styrofoam worm containers that departing guests at the hotel I work at had left on their back porch.  I was really surprised that people were surprised that I interceded when housekeeping was going to dump the containers in the trash. I took said containers over to the garden area and dumped out the worms.  I know they're just worms, but they're living creatures and I saw no reason for them to be crushed to death in a trash compactor.A garbage dump might be heaven to a worm, but the way they compact them nowadays I think it more likely they would be crushed. So I let them go and do worm stuff in the ground.   

Friday, November 7, 2014


My main thought about the recent election was "thank God it's over."  But I had another thought as well.  Back many years ago when I started voting, I used to get a lot of mail from candidates telling me how wonderful they were.  For the most part, I read the stuff they sent me.  This past election I did not receive one single piece of mail from any candidate or preposterous proposition.  Not even the bus driver we elected sheriff sent me a single card or letter.  No wonder the post office is in trouble.

I think the obsession with choking the airwaves with horrible commercials is counterproductive, as people just want to tune out.  How many times do I need to be told some guy's a bum?  But, I just don't see why they've completely stopped using the mail to reach people.  To me it's an opportunity lost.  

Monday, November 3, 2014


I've lamented the demise of professional book reviewers many times.  Instead, we have people who post reviews on places like Goodreads and Amazon.  My problem with this, is the vicious nature of a lot of these postings.  There's also the matter of they never seem to give an example for why this book is so horrible--they just say it is.  This has always left me wondering if these people even read the book at all.  There are a  lot of books that I'm familiar with, some because I've read them because I know the author, others from back when I was on the Stoker Awards anthology jury.  So, when I see a mean spirited review ripping a book that really wasn't all that bad, I wonder about the motives of the reviewers.

People have a right to their opinion.  What I'm saying is a lot of these reviews maybe be something besides what they seem. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dr Who Finale

If you haven't seen it, this blog contains spoilers about the Dr. Who 2 part season finale.  
Early on in this episode, I had a thought.  I think that woman is the Master.  Damn, I was right. I would've left the Master dead, as he died a heroic death and kind of redeemed all his treachery--or at least some of it.  Now, more nut job stories?  I don't know how it'll all turn out.

Speaking of Dr. Who, I was on a con panel about Dr. Who last spring and attended one in the audience last weekend at Mile Hi Con.  I just can't believe, with all the things that the doctor has been through, everyone is still stuck  with the old Tom Baker era doctors.  Damn, get with the program. I think Peter Capaldi has nailed the role of the Doctor.  I just love Clara, although her relationship has changed since the doctor regenerated.  

Same deal with the companions.  We were talking about this in the bar--which companion would you rather have sex with?  I said Clara, although I said I'd really like to do Amy and Clara in a threesome. Everyone else was  on the older era companions.  Rose would've been better than the older era.  Get with the program people.  The Doctor's aged over 1000 years since then.

Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallows Eve

It's Halloween.  I've always loved Halloween.  Apparently, I'm not the only one. I read somewhere that people now spend more on Halloween than any other holiday besides Christmas. It's overtaken Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. Frankly, it's more fun than most other holidays.  

Well, there aren't a lot of kids in my condo complex. I doubt I'll get any trick or treaters. No one invited me to their Halloween party.  We can't have Halloween decorations where I work. In short, this year Halloween is coming up as something of a dud. But that's my problem. I remind blog viewers that the Horror Writers Association has been running its annual Halloween Haunts blog. A lot of these entries are really good and entertaining.  They've also got some of the crap I write.  If you haven't been following it, just click on the button on this very page.  It's all free. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marketing on the cheap

One marketing effort I've been doing has been handing out bookmarks featuring Six Guns Straight From Hell 2.   They're pretty cool looking.  Anyway, last weekend I put some on the freebie table at Mile Hi Con, as well as handed some out to the anthology contributors who were attending the con. At least 50 bookmarks were taken by people.  Well, I do wonder what these people are going to do with them. I suspect most of them are taken home along with other freebies then thrown away.  They sure didn't buy any of my books.  The dealer that was carrying copies had not sold a single one by midday on Sunday, which was when I left. Nor has anyone purchased a copy from any of the distribution outlets that carry the book since the con ended.  I guess people just want the really cool looking bookmark to use for other people's books.  And that's okay.  But I sure wish someone would've bought a copy. As a marketing effort, although cheap, I'm not sure if it's that productive. 

Something wrong

I made sloppy joes yesterday. They were really good.  I wonder why you can't get sloppy joes at restaurants or fast food outlets.  Someplace somewhere may have them, but I've never seen them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Multi Purpose

At work the other night I came across something marked "Multi Purpose Dust."  I got to wondering just how many purposes there could be for dust.  Turns out it's for killing different types of bugs. But, back to the dust concept. I got some charcoal dust from a BBQ grill and put it in a plastic container. Then I ran off a label calling my dust "Premium Dust."  And I placed it on a shelf.  Yep, a container of actual dust,  I don't know what anyone will use it for, but it's there now--ready to go.

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's Not Too Late For Halloween

It's Not Too Late For Halloween. Give out copies of Six Guns Straight From Hell 2 instead of candy.


Overall, as I just went to my 10th Mile Hi Con, I've noticed a drop in the number of people in costume. By that, I mean walking around the con, not in the costuming competition.  But I did notice a lot of guys wearing a fez this year. I almost joined them, but I couldn't find one that I felt looked authentic. So,I didn't wear any getup at all this year.  I'm not really sure why the fez was the look.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Back From MHC

Made it back from Mile Hi Con.  I had a pretty good time.  I doubt that I'll be involved with any more author events this year unless something unexpected comes up.  

Friday, October 24, 2014


About the only wild animal I fear is the skunk.  They're mean little bastards with teeth and claws and that special bonus package.  I've been skunked before.  It's the most vile smell there is.  This time of year they always seem most active for some reason.  At work about two weeks ago one came inside the building through an open door.  Fortunately, it turned around and went back outside.  If it hadn't, I don't know how you make a skunk leave until it's ready to go.  Later that very same day I was home sleeping and suddenly this horrid stench permeated my bedroom.  My immediate thought was  Oh god, that skunk followed me home.  I slowly realized that, although skunks are clever, skunks aren't likely to follow me 20 miles to my house after I left work.  I guess one could hop in a cab and say "follow that car," but that seems a bit far fetched. Cab  fares in Vail are astronomical.  So, I gradually realized the skunk was not really after me. The neighbor's dog went after one and, big mistake. 

This all came back to the forefront of my attention yesterday as I went out to my car and around the front of my car came a skunk.  I reasoned it was there waiting for me.  And I was doomed.  It paid me little mind and sort of waddled off down the street.  I dove into the Ford and closed the door as fast as I could.  Safe for now, anyway. We've had rattlesnakes, moose, bears and mountain lions in our condo complex over the past few months.  I'll gladly take my chances with a rattler over the thought of another skunk encounter. 

By the way, tomato juice doesn't work. A mixture of hydrogen peroxide and shampoo, lots of shampoo, will eventually remove that small.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mile Hi Con

This weekend I'll be at Mile Hi Con at the Hyatt Denver Tech Center.
This is my schedule:

Friday 4PM  How Small Presses Choose Their Covers

Saturday Noon   The Lasting Appeal of Time Travel Stories

Saturday 9PM Gearing Up For Steampunk

Sunday 11AM The Great 1897 Airship

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


I'm amazed that gas prices have come down so much.  I doubt that it'll last for long.  They say grain prices are down too.  With the cost of production and transportation down, then I don't understand why food prices still seem so darned high at the store.   

Monday, October 20, 2014

David Boop From Outer Space

Had a very strange dream yesterday.  I should ad that I've been battling a cold or something--at times feverish, cough syrup taken may do more harm than good.  And through all of this, I had a very strange dream yesterday.  There were pods landing all over the world.  And the pods opened and each pod contained a cloned David Boop. There were hundreds of David Boops wandering around the world. Each one was dressed in khaki and wore a Pith helmet. Now, David Boop is a real person. I've know him for years, but I've never dreamed about him, not ever.  

So, the Chinese government was trying to kill all of the David Boops.  And the David Boops were trying to get their hands on weapons to fight the Chinese.  And I don't really know why any of this was happening. It has to be one of the strangest dreams I've ever had.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Time's Up

Next weekend I'll be at Mile Hi Con.  One of  the panels I'm on is about time travel stories.  I've always had an uneasy relationship with time travel stories.  As an author, I've only written two.  As an editor, I've actively discouraged them.  When we were doing Science Fiction Trails  I had to change the writers guidelines to keep them away.  There was a time when all I got was some clod goes back in time to the OK Corral and doesn't really belong there.  It was always the OK Corral and the Earp Brothers.  It might not have been so bad had it occasionally been Little Big Horn or someplace else--yes it would have.  These were always dreadful stories.  

It boils down to this: Time travel is an easy crutch for an unimaginative writer to use to deal with a science fiction story set in a time different than our own.  Rather than write about the folks who actually live there, they always seem to think people from our time are superior or more interesting. So let's write crappy stories about time travel.  And how do we get back in time? Oh, we can crawl through some unexplained hole behind our stove or we can smoke crack [these are actual examples I've gotten]. 

That's not to say all time travel is crap--just most of  it. Even though I have a loathing contempt for most time travel stories, I rather like Dr. Who.    I think the H. G. Wells story was pretty good for its day. It can be done.  Heck, during the Matt Smith era of Dr. Who, there was a bona fide weird western episode set in the town of Mercy that would've fit right in the pages of Science Fiction Trails.  That one involved an alien war  criminal who was trying to escape justice by hiding out in a small western town.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


There's a comet going really close to Mars.  I gather the ESA and NASA are going to try to get the satellites already spying on Mars to take a look at it.  I find myself wondering what the Martians are doing.  Of course, there's not really much you can do about a comet.  Back in the 1800s people would freak out when a comet came close to earth--way more than they are for Ebola. They'd buy comet masks to keep from inhaling comet dust.  That's why I wonder if the Martians are freaking out about the approaching comet or simply taking it in stride.

Friday, October 17, 2014


The Postal Service has a new set of Batman stamps out. I bought some yesterday.  They're pretty cool. One of them is a round stamp depicting the bat signal that Commissioner Gordon used to shine on clouds. I always wondered how somebody living in the bat cave was supposed to see that.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Boiling Mad

I've been getting calls from some boiler room at all hours.  That's bad enough.  What's ticking me off is they never give me a chance to answer the call. It only rings a couple of times then they hang up. So, I don't even know who it is that's bothering me.  What is the point in calling somebody if you won't even give them a chance to answer the call?  I can't really report them for violating the no call list until I figure out who they are.  Probably some charity wanting money. They're always exempt from the no call. Most of the charities that use boiler rooms are questionable charities. Damn I hate telemarketers.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I was most pleased to see that The Coming of Crow by Joel Jenkins has been released.  Crow is a Native American gunfighter who travels all over, and I mean all over, and gets into some truly amazing adventures.  I had the honor of editing a few of the projects that some of the Crow adventures were first published in.  I honestly believe these are some of the best gunfights I've ever read. I can't wait to read the stories I wasn't involved with and will likely post a review at some future point in time.  Order this book. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween Haunts

As I threatened a few days back, today is the day my posting of Halloween Haunts should be up on the HWA blog. Just click the nearby button to be taken there.  To recap, Halloween Haunts is an annual series of postings by HWA members about Halloween and horror.  Some of the members are really good writers.  And then there's the crap I write as well.  So, don't just sit there reading this blog--get the to it.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I got my oil changed recently.  I don't really have a good place to change it myself, so I have it done by a mechanic.  I noticed that a local large store that sells everything had some oil that I thought I'd like to try--a synthetic blend. The problem is that very same store doesn't offer it if they do your oil change, then you have to get some other oil. And the place I usually get my oil change doesn't offer it either. So, the only way I can get the oil I want into my car is do it myself. See sentence two. So, I have Ford oil in my car.  I wanted the synthetic blend oil that comes in a five quart jug. But I have the Ford oil. It's not that there's anything wrong with the Ford oil. I just wanted the other oil and resent the fact that I can't have it.

I got to thinking that I could change my own oil.  The condo association frowns on people doing auto repairs on site. It occurred to me I could go to my former boss's house and change it in their driveway when they're not home.  And I could leave the used oil in the flower bed. This appealed to me, but might not play well with the local sheriff's department if I were discovered. I thought about changing it in the parking garage of another hotel down the street from where I work. They never close their access gate.  But most hotels have security cameras these days and I still might end up on the wrong side of the law.  So, I have Ford oil in my car.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Over the years I've tried to convince people Hoover Dam was named for famed lawman J. Edgar Hoover.  I've tried to convince people that J. Edgar Hoover and Edgar Rice Burrows were the same person [they look nearly identical].  And I've tried to convince folks that J.Edgar Hoover invented the Hoover vacuum cleaner.  And there actually are people running around believing that he invented a vacuum cleaner and has a famous dam named after him.  Why the fixation on Hoover?  Don't know, really.  The only thing left to do is place a story by J. Edgar Hoover in an upcoming anthology. Hmm, would people actually believe that?  

Edgar Rice Burrows or J. Edgar Hoover?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pounding into walls

This fall I tried to organize a Halloween author reading in Denver.  I polled a bunch of authors and none of them wanted to do it.  Then I tried to set up a Christmas steampunk reading.  I ended up cancelling that as well, as very few authors wanted to participate.  So I vowed that I'm not going to try and organize any more author events.  It's kind of a shame, as I've rather enjoyed doing them.  But I'm tired of pounding my head into walls.

And I now have my schedule for Mile Hi Con.  I'm doing a themed steampunk reading--yay.  And I'm on an art panel with something to do with small press art.  And I'm on a time travel panel.  And I'm moderating a panel discussion about the 1897 Airship. YAY!  I love talking about the Great 1897 Airship and have given a number of talks on it.  This is the first time I've ever had a panel discussion. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Stolen data

Well, I've now had data about me stolen from three companies.  I still say that these companies don't need to keep so much data on people.  If they didn't insist on hanging on to every possible scrap of information about me, then there wouldn't be anything to steal--or at least not as much.  I guess I should feel flattered that people think my information is worth stealing.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

HWA Halloween Haunts

Starting October 1 is the annual Halloween Haunts. That's where HWA members post cool stuff on the HWA blog about horror and Halloween during the month of October. There are even chances to win prizes. And it's all free. Check it out often. My posting is scheduled for October 10th.  There's a banner on this very page that will take you to the HWA blog.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


There was real fear in my eyes at the hotel I work at yesterday. Something came through the door that scared the bejeebers out of me.  I guess I should mention the door was open.  And in walked the scariest thing on earth. There was a skunk inside my lobby.  You can chase a fox or a raccoon out the door. but skunk?  No way.  I've been sprayed by a skunk. It's no laughing matter.  Fortunately, it went back outside and left.  I closed the door, pronto.  

The only wild animal, at least North American wild animal, that I fear is the skunk.  Bears, wolves, snakes don't even concern me.  But send a skunk after me and I am instantly in terror mode.  

Friday, September 26, 2014


Every year about this time the tree leaves turn color.  Around here that's yellows and a touch of orange as the primary tree that drops its leaves is aspen.  And people drive around to look at them--often coming from far away.  Trust me, they look exactly the same as they do every year.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014


People in many creative vocations often complain about being pigeonholed or typecast   I recently learned I'm no exception.  I was talking to another writer about an anthology that came out a while back.  Frankly, I didn't think it was very good.  Then I mentioned I could've come up with  something far better than a lot of the stories in the book, had I known about it.  That brought a surprised reaction--very surprised.  I was informed I was never considered as a contributor because I only do weird westerns.  I was somewhat dumbfounded.  I guess that's become my label.  I'm the weird western guy.  Ironically, most weird western editors hate me because they don't think my work is dark enough.  I counted up my cumulative body of work. Only 20% of my published stories are weird westerns.  I've written steampunk. I've written all sorts of horror. And half of my stories are science fiction. But I am perceived as the weird western guy.  I guess my other material wasn't as memorable as I'd hoped.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Horrible adz

I am so sick of the horrible TV ads relentlessly attacking everyone running for office. But not for the reason one might think.  Most of these  ads are funded by outside interests flooding million of dollars to try and manipulate the election.No, it's not that they're vicious and dishonest. It's every single one of them says "for Colorado."  Too extreme for Colorado. Too stupid for Colorado. Not right for Colorado. Hell, we know what state we live in.  We don't really need to be told we live in Colorado. We already know that.  But they never end with too crooked or too ugly. Nope, it's ALWAYS for Colorado.   Frankly, if they took half of the words out of these ads they'd be more effective, but they're mass produced out of some hate mill ad agency somewhere. I think it's the people cranking out these ads who need to be reminded what state they're going to.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Special Offer

There's a special offer available for the ebook version of Six Guns Straight From Hell 2. Now through October 15th you can get 25% off. Just go to and use coupon code HP53C at checkout

Saturday, September 20, 2014


When you write, or more specifically when you publish stuff, these people called reviewers turn up and tell you what they think of it.  The knowledge  and ability of reviewers varies wildly, but in the anything goes blogs e-sites world, most of the reviews are written by people who haven't a clue what they're talking about.  Gone are the professional reviewers in newspapers. Now we have Moe, who puts down "It was really bad." Followed by Larry who puts down "It was good."  Do either of these provide anything particularly useful? Not really.

I used to get ripped by some guy who I once rejected for a project. He seemed to make it his life mission to bash me at every opportunity--always anonymously. But always with the same telltale poor spelling that gave him away anyway. Alas, I haven't heard from him in a while.  

A good review should contain objective information where a potential reader could decide whether to purchase or not purchase a book they might be interested in.  "It was bad" is a little lacking in detail for that.  The blog type of review sites seem overwhelmed by the number of books out there. The paid professional reviewers seem to have disappeared.  No wonder the publishing world is in so much turmoil, eh.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


As anyone who frequents this blog knows by now, I try to keep it fairly current. My goal is to post at least twice a week. I usually manage more than that.  It amazes me at how many blogs and websites have not been updated in years.  One writer I know has not updated his site at all in over two years.  Frankly, it's not that hard.  The point in having a site is to communicate with people.  Just ignoring your site sort of defeats that goal me thinks.  

Now, I seem to have a steady stream of readers for this blog.  I don't know who most of them are, but there is a fairly consistent pattern of views, coupled with the occasional spike. If I didn't update frequently, I believe the views would fall off.  

Of course, this blog is not a true writers blog.  I mean, it is written, but I'm just as likely to rattle on about garbage or fortune cookies as writing. It's just as well. Writing isn't really that exciting.  I just think people should keep up their sites or shut them down if they're not going to.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You want fortune cookie?

I made an interesting observation while having lunch.  People weren't taking their fortune cookies. Most American Chinese restaurants give you a fortune cookie at the conclusion of your meal. I noticed about half the customers weren't taking them, but left them on the table.  I don't understand this for two reasons. First, I rather like them and don't understand why folks would pass on eating them. And, by walking away, they are choosing to remain ignorant of their fortune.

I am always reminded of the fellow in Oakland who read his fortune cookie that said "You're going to die soon." He stood up, went outside, then was run over by a taxi. He died on the way to the hospital. I was skeptical of this story, which surfaced way back when I lived in the area. Thinking it an urban myth, I later learned it was true. It was April first, April Fools Day, and the restaurant had obtained some "joke" fortune cookies from some place. Telling folks they're about to die seems a bit tasteless, but that was apparently the situation.  The cookie was right in this case.

The lingering, unanswered question is: Does the restaurant keep the orphaned cookies and give them back out or throw them away? They are individually wrapped. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Clip art

I used to really like  clip art.  I once had many books packed full of the stuff.  Then the digital revolution arrived.  In a very short time most clip art became useless.  What worked with a copy machine for a newsletter didn't work so good in the digital publishing world. The biggest problem is most of it is so low resolution it's nearly useless.  While some clip art nowadays is high resolution, most of it is not.  Did I mention most of it looks like crap?  So, I'm not that in to clip art anymore. 

This is a shame as I want a specific type of art and I cannot find it.  I'll keep looking, but I am not at all optimistic I can find what I want.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Driving With Gloves

I'm not really that fond of winter, so the recent premature snow had me somewhat bummed.  But there is one thing about winter I've always enjoyed.  I like driving with gloves on. I can't say why--it's certainly more than just keeping my hands warm.  You can grip the wheel and it's just better. So, yesterday I put on my gloves for the first time since last winter and went outside to my car. It wasn't really that cold. The cold front had lasted about an hour and was already gone. In fact, it was rather nice outside. So, I decided to drive with gloves on anyway, but it wasn't right.  It wasn't right at all.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

No Way!

Yep, it's snowing in parts of Colorado.  It's only September.  Heck we hardly had much of a summer. Now it's snowing already.  Of course, it'll melt off as it's too early. but I still am in a state of disbelief.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oy Veh Steampunk?

Just yesterday I was having a discussion with somebody about whether steampunk is fading or not.  Events come and go, so it's not a simple conclusion.  Then, today, I just learned the Steampunk With a Twist Con in Grand Junction later this month is "postponed" until next March.  Frankly, they might as well have cancelled it altogether.  There had been signs it was in financial trouble, so this was not really a surprise.  

Now, no one is going to plunk down money for tickets. To do so would be like throwing it down the proverbial rat hole.  Likewise, who's really going to risk money on a dealer table?  And, I fear those suckers who already paid are never going to see their ticket money again. Then there are the participants.  Are we likely to waste our time for a second round in March?  I seriously doubt I will.

This is entirely my opinion.  I don't think the organizers really knew what they were doing.  It's also possible Grand Junction simply lacks the population to support such a con.  Regardless, I don't think it was well promoted.  I've said this before and I'll say it again: Simply posting something on Facebook does not make it an event. It is not adequate.  They had a crummy website.  In other words, they tried to get by on the cheap.  Obviously, they didn't have the funds, hence its demise. Still, if you don't have the resources, don't take on such endeavors.  I would love to have Davecon or Vailcon, but I know such fancies would be disastrous and would never seriously undertake them.  

Well, I'll get off my soap box now. I wish them well, but I don't see it happening in March or ever.


I don't particularly like bacon. I never really have.  It seems every place that sells every imaginable type of food suddenly wants to put bacon on it--be it pizza, salad, hamburgers or milkshakes. Yes, milkshakes.  Now I really care if people want bacon in their milkshake, I just wish they'd leave me alone and stop trying to put bacon on my food.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Happy Kamper

Various political causes have been trying to get me to volunteer for them.  I used to volunteer for stuff, then I came to the conclusion that volunteering is a complete waste of my time.  The world is not going to be a better place because I gave up a few free hours of my time. It will be exactly the same.  Logically, therefore, I've concluded there is no point in my volunteering.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Red Shirt Freshman of Notre Dame

Every year around the start of football season I post this story.

The Red Shirt Freshman of Notre Dame

  Otis Claverson didn't look too good when the trainers carried him off the field. His eyes were glazed over and his usually smiling face had been replaced by one filled with searing pain. “Seventy-three,” someone kept yelling. That number seemed familiar. Lizard Murphy glanced down at his jersey. He was number 73. He looked at Elmo Bruno, defensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish. “Lizard in,” the crusty man with the thinning crewcut ordered. Lizard put on his helmet and trotted onto the field. The last game of the regular season, a bowl bid and a national championship were on the line and Lizard had never played for a single minute during the entire season. He lined up at the right middle linebacker spot, replacing the injured Otis Claverson, who was in for only two plays for the starting linebacker.

  He grunted and looked mean for the benefit of the big tight end on the other side of the ball. Lizard glanced down and realized they were practically standing on the end zone. They were down by three points and there was only a minute left in the game and New Mexico State was about to score again — New Mexico State.
  The instant the ball was snapped, the  quarterback stepped back to pass. Lizard scrambled after the tight end. Lizard ran like a truck and had been put in to stop the anticipated run. For a big man, their tight end was fast—much faster than Lizard. Lizard tried to keep up. Suddenly the tight end turned back toward the quarterback. Lizard was behind him—way behind him, and the ball was going straight at the tight end, who was now five yards in front of Lizard. Then something strange happened that would change Lizard's life forever. The New Mexico State tight end vanished—just disappeared. The ball sailed straight into Lizard's gut. Somehow, Lizard managed to hang onto it.
  “Down it you meathead!” he could hear coach Elmo yelling.
  There were a lot of the other guys between him and the other end zone nearly 100 yards away, but time was running out. He put his helmet down and charged ahead. The first state guy made contact on the five, a stiff arm sent him to the turf. By the 20, Lizard's lungs were hurting and he still had 80 yards to go. A second guy missed a tackle to his legs. Lizard looked over his shoulder. Micky D. was only a few yards behind him. The free safety was so much faster than he was. He tossed the ball—a perfect lateral to his teammate. Lizard stopped. His teammate sailed past him, dodged two tacklers and headed into open field.
    A few seconds later Notre Dame was back on top as Mick D. Spillner ran untouched into the end zone. People everywhere on the sidelines were cheering and jumping up and down—at least everywhere on the Notre Dame side. The State guys were jumping up and down too, but they were screaming and shaking their fists.
  The New Mexico State coach, finishing an undefeated rookie season, disregarded the fact that Notre Dame was setting up for the extra point and stormed out onto the field. The referee threw a flag and blew his whistle to stop play. “Where the hell's my tight end?” he yelled to the official.
  After a five minute consultation, the referee ruled that the touchdown stood, and that there were ten seconds left on the clock. Campus security would have to deal with the mysterious disappearance of Buz Bombarella, star tight end for New Mexico State. Disappearing during a play was not covered in NCAA rules.
  Lizard was touched when Mickey D. gave him the football he'd lateraled to him. He vowed to cherish it forever.
  That evening, he was walking back to his room in the company of Juliet Mills, one of the cheerleaders who had suddenly taken an interest in him. He was about to explain how he'd come to be named Lizard, but he had an uneasy feeling that something wasn't quite right. Tearing his eyes away from he r, he looked around. There was a flying saucer hovering over the dorm. He broke into a run. In fact, if he'd ran that fast earlier, he could've scored the touchdown himself. He charged up the stairs and busted through the door to his room without even stopping to turn the knob or unlock it.
   A little green guy with black eyes and two antennae sticking out of his head was climbing out the  window — with the game ball. Lizard lunged after him and grabbed onto the ball. The green-guy jumped off the ledge and pulled Lizard off with him. Instead of falling, they ascended. Three seconds later, they were inside the flying saucer.
    Lizard kicked the green guy with enough force to get his football back.
    Five other green guys were standing around him, each one had a shiny cylinder pointed straight at Lizard's head.      He let the green guy take back the football.
  “It's you!” someone said. Lizard turned around. There was another green guy, but this one was wearing a Notre Dame jersey. The other green guys bowed. “I can't believe it's you. Would you autograph the football?”
  “Hell no.”
   “Please?”   “No way. It's my ball.” Lizard crossed his arms and tried to look as defiant as possible.
   “We'll kill you.”
 Lizard accepted the pen one of them was now holding and scrawled something with his right hand. Lizard was a southpaw and figured that was about as good as a bad forgery. They didn't seem to notice. “What's with you guys?” He handed back the football    “Go Irish!” they all yelled in unison.An ugly thought entered his mind. “You guys do something to that Oregon tight end?”
  They all started looking toward the ceiling. The one in the football jersey finally gestured for the others to put away their weapons. “You would've lost the national championship.”
“There were only fifty seconds left,” the others said, again all in unison. “A touchdown would've finished you.”
  “Where is he?” Lizard asked. “Did you transport him up?”
   “Out of range,” they all said.
      “We vaporized him. Maybe we got a little carried away.”  
    “This is too weird. Keep the damn ball.”
   “Ah, thank you,” the one in the jersey said. “You are too kind.”
“When we go to the Fiesta Bowl, you guys aren't going to . . . ?” Lizard asked.
  “No. We regret that little incident.”
  “Besides, Miami doesn't have a prayer. Go Irish!” they all yelled.

  “You wanted to see me?” Lizard asked as he stood at attention in Elmo Bruno's office.
   Bruno turned down the sound of the television. He'd been watching Jeopardy. “This ruckus about yesterday's game. The Fiesta Bowl just backed out of their invite. The boss is in there now trying to get us booked in some bowl in Alaska.”
 “Yeah, and they're talking about going with Alcom State instead of us.”
 “I don't even know where the heck that is.”
 Lizard sat down in one of the comfy leather chairs. “I wouldn't worry about it, sir. I think Notre Dame is entering a new era of football.”
  “How so?”
  The news team interrupted Jeopardy on the television to bring a report that the stadium in Arizona that was used by the Fiesta Bowl had just been leveled by an apparent earthquake. Police were denying rumors of a flying saucer sighting just moments before the quake. 

Author’s note: The way college bowls are awarded has changed substantially since this story was first published.