Monday, June 30, 2014

Adios Trails

I’m sure it’s getting around that my longtime annual fiction magazine, Science Fiction Trails, is ceasing publication.  And, there’s a small group out that there that is undoubtedly cheering. I became aware some time ago that a certain writers group was discouraging its members from publishing on SFT–even though I’ve never had any dealings with this particular group.  And I know certain writers have bashed us for years–often with the preposterous concept of comparing a science fiction magazine head to head with ultra dark horror.  One podcast in particular advocated for the demise of SFT. Well, they now have what they want. We’re through.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Aches & Pains

As luck would have it, I've had a rough week. I had some swelling in my left leg. Now I've had swelling issues before, mainly because I only have one kidney (one was lost to cancer some time ago) and I'm more susceptible to this than normal folks. But, my doctor feared I could have a blood clot and talked me into going over to the local hospital for a scan.  I figured they couldn't possibly kill me doing an ultrasound--and blood clots can be serious. Well, the technician pressed down on my knee so blasted hard, my knee has been hurting terribly for the last three days. Whilst I officially had no sign of a blood clot, I almost wish I had so I could've died and  been out of my misery.

To that end, I ran into a neighbor at the grocery store yesterday.  As I lamented my aches and pains and heard about her worsening back problems, it occurred to me we sounded a lot like the elderly folks my dad hangs out with.  My mother used to say "old age is not for sissies."  I'm having a new found respect for that. At least I can be thankful that I'm not as bad off as a lot of people I know.  As we get older, it seems like we spend more and more time in the doctors office. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Rattling Along

Twice this week I've seen rattlesnakes running around (they don't actually run of course) at my condo complex. I haven't said anything because I'm not sure what to do.  If I mention it to management they might go out and try to hunt them down and kill them.  All they're doing is being snakes.  They go down to the river and have a drink, then they cut across the lawn to go to wherever they go. This is the western rattler, also called the prairie rattler. I looked it up and that's it. And they do live in my part of Colorado.  So, if someone gets bit I'm a bad person for not saying anything, yet if I say something they may go out and kill them.

Why am I so protective of snakes?  Well, snakes eat a lot of mice--far more than other predators like owls. And I really hate mice. It's that simple.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I'm so glad I'm done with contracts for Steampunk Trails and Six Guns Straight From Hell 2.  Those are the two projects underway right now.  I have never come up with a system I'm happy with.  If you send them out already signed, invariably someone will not return one with their signature.  If you try one of the e-signature services,  they cost too much--I go for long periods of time where I simply do not need them, so I don't want to pay a monthly fee.  Mailing them back after the other party has signed is clumsy--especially for foreign writers.  So,  I guess I'll keep fumbling around until I come up with something I like.  

It's especially daunting with Steampunk Trails as the contracts for articles, short shorts and regular stories all have different terms.  Well, as Super Chicken would say, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred." I guess the solution to all this is to quit doing it and spend my days living in a bunker with a shotgun on my lap waiting for the apocalypse. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Competing Interests

As a reminder, I edit Science Fiction Trails, which is a fiction magazine featuring western sci fi. I'm also publisher, but not editor, of Steampunk Trails. Now and then, the editor of Steampunk Trails asks me for a second opinion on a story she's considering.  This happened yesterday.  I really liked the story and kind of wondered why there was any doubt about it. The tricky part is that I wouldn't have minded at all if I had the story for my magazine (the one I edit).  Alas, the question before me was whether she should accept the story for Steam. Well, I told her she should.  Either way I'm publishing it.  This doesn't come up often, so it's never amounted to much. But, in this situation, I was competing with myself.

I don't think writers have any idea of the dynamics of the editorial process.  Some larger magazines have editorial boards that seem to have no other purpose than second guess the selections an editor already made.  And some places seem to randomly pull stuff out of a hat at the last moment.  So, a writer was being simultaneously considered for two different projects and likely will never even know it.  It's like a cross between alchemy and voodoo, me thinks--how acquisitions editing really works.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What do people like?

The stats for this blog paint an interesting picture.  Different types of postings seem to result in great differences in the number of blog views. Of course, it could simply be a factor of time of day or day of the week.

Most popular to least popular:

Garbage. anything I write about garbage draws a big increase in viewership. Blogs about garbage win hands down.

Food. Most food items are popular, including my recent posts on butter and Jello.


Childhood experiences.

Stuff about where I work.

General gripes

Friday, June 20, 2014


It's cone zone time where I live. You can't go anywhere without some form of construction delay. Along the highway I use to come and go they're putting in fiber optic cable so more places can have better cable and phone service. Standing out in the sun breathing people's exhaust doesn't seem like a very good job to me. I guess it pays fairly well, though I don't know what they get to be a flag person and direct traffic.  

Yesterday, I was waiting, then the flagman motioned me forward.  There was a dump  truck right in my way, directly behind this guy. So I didn't move.  He kept waving his orange sign and I just set there. Finally, he come up to my car. "Why won't you go?"

"Turn around," said I.

"Screw you," said the frustrated flagman.

"Turn around," I repeated.

Finally, he turned around and saw the dump truck blocking the lane. He'd had no idea it was there. It eventually moved over and out of the way and I drove on.  Can't say as I was all that impressed. An idiot in a green vest with a slow/stop sign is still an idiot, me thinks.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Most writers are obsessed with contracts. When am I getting my contract? Have you sent my contract yet? What they don't realize is most contracts are not worth the paper they are written on. Case in point: book consignments. Since it's hard for small publishers to get independent bookstores to carry their products, I've consigned books with various bookstores. In theory, the store benefits because they don't have any money tied up in inventory. Boy do they benefit. Not one bookstore has ever paid me a penny for the books I've consigned. They just keep everything. And there is nothing I can do about it. Because the truth is, it costs more to pursue the matter than I'm ever going to collect.

It's not just stores. There's a crooked publisher in Denver that's published a number of books over the past seven or eight years or so. No one ever gets paid. The publisher refuses to issue royalty reports.  And nothing happens. He knows no one will do anything about it and he goes merrily on his way. 

The publisher of my first novel refused to pay me a penny and I never saw an earnings report. And so on. I cannot believe the blatant rip offs I've endured. And it continues. So, having a signed contract in hand isn't as wonderful as one might think. In my opinion, there are more crooks than honest people in the publishing business and I am seriously considering ceasing my efforts as a writer.

So, just because someone sent you a contract, don't be so sure this a good thing. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June Bugs

As I write this, there are two wedding reception parties going on at the hotel I work at. I just hate June.  I don't know why so many people  have to get married in June.  From my point of view, this is just awful. Ir's one calamity after another.  Accountants conventions don't cause any problems at all.   As I see it, the problem is hotels and catering companies and the like make a lot of money off weddings. The solution is simple, you get an online preacher and people get married over their smart phones. Great idea.  Well, I like it. We're supposed to be an anti-social society where no one wants to interact anymore.   

Friday, June 13, 2014

Jello gross out

There are different versions of Jell-o out there.  There is the kind you mix and let mold. Then there is the more expensive little tubs that you buy already made at the store--which are great for lunches and such. Well, I decided to clean out my refrigerator. I found a tub of Jell-o with an expiration date of August 2012, Well, as it is June 2014 that says what a great job I do of cleaning out my refrigerator.  

Now the dilemma I had was what to do with it. I could eat it. I could throw it away. I could put it in the break room refrigerator where I work. I chose the latter. I'm sure not eating it. Well, next day it was gone. People at work will eat anything.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I grew up on margarine. It was what my mom bought.  I don't think I ever tasted actual butter until I was an adult.  Sure, I'd heard of butter, but it just didn't exist in my world. When I tell people we always had margarine, they often look askance at me like I'm making this up. Well, I am not. So, what's in my fridge now? Margarine. I'm not used to eating butter. I know there's not much difference in terms of calories. And, if you watch the sales, there isn't even much difference in terms of price. I guess what we grew up eating has a big impact on what we eat as adults. Well, I had a coupon and today bought some butter--the first I've bought in years. It's pretty darn good, actually.  Of course, I had to buy some bread to make toast. I don't eat a lot of bread, but just eating raw butter seems kind of weird.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dock Diving

They had dock diving yesterday in Vail. I missed it. It was another miserable cold rainy day and I just didn't go. Apparently, I was not the only one.   This is the most awesome sport ever invented. In a way, I was kind of bummed out about my decision.  I've watched these events before. These dogs are very competitive. They watch each other carefully and they take this sport seriously. But there will be other dock diving competitions, hopefully on nicer days 

Stock picture of another dock diving competition

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Million Ways to Die

I don't review things very often. No one cares what I think anyway.  Well, I went and saw A Million Ways To Die in the West. The critics were on this movie like a hound on a rabbit, almost before the first screening. I predicted that. They always seem to go out of their way to make a western movie fail. Alas, they didn't need to bother. This movie bombs all on its own. To put it another way, this sure ain't no Blazing Saddles  

That's not to say the movie is all bad.  There are some really good scenes in there, squeezed in between a bunch of scenes that aren't.  I laughed so hard I was seriously having trouble breathing during a scene where Neil Patrick Harris has a diarrhea attack in the middle of a gunfight.  Unfortunately, no one else in the theater was laughing. They were staring at me and I could not stop.  This movie is trying to be a crude, raunchy comedy--and it is. Just don't expect much else. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014


I sometimes wonder why they make different stamps. I don't mean different denominations, I mean different types of stamps. I was looking at work at some of the mail (slow night). There were a lot of them with the Star Spangled Banner. There were a few with Ray Charles.  And there were some with the American Flag. They're all forever stamps and each will do the same thing.  So, why all this variety?  Why not settle on one design, say George Washington, and just make that one?  Ah, the stamp collectors want variety.  And it's a tradition. 

Well, if that is the case, here are some stamps I'd like to see but probably never will:

Great tyrants in history. Acknowledged tyrants like Stalin, Hitler, George III, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and so forth.  

Steaks: various pictures of different types of steaks: T-bone, sirloin, New York, chuck

Hot looking women. That would be popular,me thinks.

Crackpot inventions: The flying machines that didn't work, machines that simply exploded, and so forth. blood purifiers.

Light bulbs: There are so many different kinds.

Garbage trucks. I think this would be really popular, when I rattle on about garbage the hits on this very site go way up.

Flying saucers.  there's lots of pictures of them, put some on stamps.

Mythical monsters.  Bigfoot, Mothman, New Jersey Devil, etc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Less miserables

Sharp drop in tree pollen. I am feeling much less miserable than I was earlier this week.

I've even got the whole weekend off.  It's unbelievably rare for me to have a weekend off.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Tired Family

[Rachel and Simon have just learned that Grampa is not related to them. Each thought he was related to the other. They have no idea where he came from]

Rachel: What are we going to do with him? I really thought he was your Grampa.

Simon: Well, I thought he was yours.

Grampa: Is that a new dress, Timmy?

Rachel: I'm not wearing a dress.

Grampa: Not you. I meant Timmy.

Rachel: Simon doesn't wear dresses.

Grampa:  Too bad. Back in the day I always looked forward to the girls wearing dresses when the weather got warm.

Rachel: Who do you think wears dresses?

Grampa: Timmy.

Rachel: [whispering] Let's just bash his head in with a shovel and bury him in Mrs. Kravitz's garden.

Simon: Fine by me. I'll go get one.

Grampa: Oh, I've pooped by britches.

Rachel: That's okay. We'll get you some clean ones.

Grampa: Thanks Timmy.

Simon: [carrying a shovel] Let's get it over with.

Grampa: Oh, I like the garden.

Rachel: Well, we're so glad to hear that. [Grabs the shovel and hits him in the head]

Simon: That ought ta do it.

Rachel: Let's get the wheel barrow. We'll wheel him out.

Grampa: Can we have ice cream?

Rachel: You're not dead?

Grampa: No, but I think I pooped myself again, Timmy.

Simon: [Takes the shovel and smacks Grampa] That should do it.

Grampa: I don't want vanilla.

Simon: Why can't he die?

Grampa: Back in the war the government gave us ice cream. We didn't poop ourselves back then.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

More Gooder

Feeling better today.  Yesterday was just awful.  Allergies are simply no fun.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Misery season is upon us.  This is about the worst allergy season I've had in years. Even my prescription meds are doing nothing to quell my discomfort.  I just hope it ends soon. Growing up in California, I was forced to suffer for many years as my mother didn't seem to know much about allergies.  My suffering was dismissed as colds or sniffles and little was done about it.  And, the over the counter remedies back then were worthless.  So, I came to dread springtime.  Well,, I still dread it, but this year has been far worse than what I've grown accustomed to.