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
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
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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
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
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.
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?”
“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.”“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.”
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.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
My new horror anthology has only been on the market for a few days, so I was surprised that companies are offering used copies of it already. And they're asking over forty dollars for a $13 book. Why would somebody buy a book that's so ridiculously overpriced when it's readily available for a third of their asking price--brand new? I can't believe these places actually ever sell anything.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I found a nickel in the parking lot where I work. Big deal, right? Well, I simply never find money at this place--not ever. In the past year, including the nickel I just found, I've found a total of five cents. Heck, I used to work at a hotel where I found a good five dollars a month--that's around sixty bucks a year. Now I get a nickel. Even though people carry less cash than they once did, I still cannot account for the fact I no longer seem to be able to find money. Surely people must still have coins fall out of their trousers or simply drop them. Perhaps not.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
I live in a condo complex. It's impossible to get a lot of our residents to bother to do things like latching shut the trash dumpster. It would appear the local bear has taken advantage of that, as I managed to find a large pile of bear poop right in front of the dumpster I use. Bears seem to really love garbage.