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.