Tuesday, June 30, 2015

bumps in the night

Last night I noticed a shadow outside my back door. and I could hear odd noises.  I wondered if I was about to experience a home invasion or something. I looked through the window and there was a bear on my porch. When I turned the light on the bear left.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Enough Already

I'm not going to rant about what writers do or don't do--at least not for  awhile.  Today, I thought I'd update the ghost at the hotel.  As I've mentioned before, we seem to have a ghost at the hotel I work at.  I hadn't heard from him in quite some time.  Well, a few nights ago that changed. He seems to like to make noises.  At about 1:30 am I heard loud footsteps coming from the floor above me.  As usual, after I went up there I found no one around. The hallway was empty.  This has happened many times.  I guess he's trying to get my attention, although I have no idea what he wants. He's more active when the hotel is more or less empty.  I'm thinking about trying to do some electronic contact this fall when things slow down again.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Getting Published, Part 2

More thoughts continuing from Wednesday's post.  One of the most aggravating things is page numbering.  Every program for word processing I've ever seen has a page numbering feature.  They will efficiently number your pages and put the numbers anywhere you want--top, bottom, right side, left, side. Yet at least half of the submissions I see have some weird ass effort at inserting a header or footer into the page.  This creates a clunky look and is often embedded into the file and a bear to remove or change.  And these headers often aren't set up right and number the pages incorrectly. At the very least, they tend to take up three or four lines where, had one simply told Word to number them, they'd only take up one line.  

I haven't mentioned content.  So far I'm just talking about the files that come in.  And my biggest peeve of all is the growing trend of files that have no contact info whatsoever.  How do you expect someone to send you a contract if there's no contact info on the manuscript?  . I'm not giving that out you say?  Really?  Would you apply for a job and leave the contact part of an application blank?  This isn't that different.

And I still have not mentioned content.  I'm still just talking about housekeeping things.  There is such a thing as a basic manuscript format.  a lot of contributors don't seem to know what that is--or they don't care.  Why should i do it that way?   Well, because that's the way it's done.  A manuscript formatting is covered in plenty of books in every library in the country, so I won't belabor the concept here any further.  Refusing to send in something that at least resembles it is something you do at your own peril.

Then we come to content.  That's harder to talk about.  If something is poorly done, it's poorly done. If it's not well edited, it's not well edited.  If it's the same story about vampires hiding in the trunks of cars that I've seen a dozen times before, well it's rejected.  This is where writing skill comes in. Some folks have it and some folks don't.  And I cannot, in a guidelines sheet, do much about that.  What I'm saying, and I really mean this, is not tending to the basics, not sending in a good well prepared manuscript is more likely to cost you than you might think--even more than a weak story.  At least that's how I view things.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Getting Published

Getting published has changed over time.  What it once meant doesn't seem to reflect modern usage.  There are a lot of delusional writers who have convinced themselves they're published authors because they self published some piece of crap.  They're not. Not in my book anyway.

Anyway, I just finished the basic editing and layout of my new magazine, Story Emporium.  My best advice to anybody who wants to get published is read the blasted instructions.  Most projects, especially anthologies and magazines, have guidelines for writers about what they are seeking.  Follow them.  It is astonishing how many of the manuscripts that come in completely ignore the guidelines we posted.  A lot of it is in format. We tell them to use 12 point type--they use 10 point. We tell them not to use courier type--they naturally send it in courier. We tell them not to use tabs and use the features of word processors like Wordperfect [yay] and Word [ho hum] and they pound it out like a typewriter. And so on.  And we have to decide if these are intolerable deviations, or minor infractions   Believe me, I am not kidding when I put these things in the guidelines.

So, you want to get published, try following the guidelines instead of just spewing stuff out.  That act by it self more than doubles your chances of getting published.

Monday, June 22, 2015


My father changes his oil religiously on his car at 3000 miles.  Most mechanics say you can easily go 5000--even more with the synthetic oils like I use for my car.  I've long ago given up trying to get him to go further between oil changes.  It's pointless. He won't budge.  I can't talk him into trying synthetic oils, either. I think they hold up better. nope, it's plain old cheap oil.  

Of course, some people never change their oil at all.  They just add new oil once in a blue moon when the dipstick comes up empty. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

changing money

There's talk afoot of removing Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill and replacing him with a woman.  I don't really care.  But I do think the country is missing a huge opportunity.  We have a serious debt problem.  Why not sell out?  We could auction off the rights to let people put themselves on our money.  So, the billionaires who already have most of it could put their image on money if they paid a fee for the privilege. It could make a lot of money.  I also think we could do the same thing with naval vessels, so instead of congressmen and dead presidents, we could name ships after the high bidder. It would work.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

gifts for dad

Well, Fathers Day is coming up fast.  Spare dad the necktie this year--after all he works at a sewage treatment plant and really doesn't need one there.  [I don't really know where your dad works, I was just trying to be witty].  So, what should you get dad?  Here are a few suggestions I'm sure will make dad's special day enjoyable and memorable..

Something really good to eat.  I don't mean hot dogs, I mean steak, grilled to perfection on a nice charcoal grill.  That probably means hiring a chef to cook it [or getting me to do it because I'm awesome at grilling stuff, but phat chance that's going to happen].

A nice sports car.  Of course, you probably need a pretty good job for that. Dad would love to drive to work at the sewage plant in a nice Porsche.  I know I would.

A date with Taylor Swift.  She's really hot. What else can I say?  I have no idea how you'd arrange that.

Not every idea I have is expensive.  Buy a bucket of corn and cook it.  I mean lots and lots of it, with real butter.  Every dad in the country loves to pig out on fresh buttered corn.  Save an ear for the dog, though. Most dogs like hot buttered corn, too.

Set dad up with a really hot looking prostitute.  This is a little cheaper than the sports car, but just barely.  Anyway, dad will like this one. He'll really like this one.  You can get them on the internet, take him to a brothel in rural Nevada, or fly him to Germany or Holland where this sort of thing is legal.  He'll like any of these options.  

Take dad to a movie where they blow stuff up a lot.  The more explosions the better.  

Get dad a large barrel of cheap wine and keep the glasses coming.  He won't remember what you got him, but deep down he'll think it was something he liked.  You may have to also budget for carpet cleaning to get rid of those mysterious purple stains all over the house [You may not know this,  but people who drink a lot of wine puke a lot of wine].  For added enjoyment, get some actors to dress up like aliens and pretend to abduct him after he's pretty much hammered.  Then you don't need to get the carpets cleaned and just tell him the aliens did that when they were giving him an anal probe.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

writers blog

One thing I get asked about now and then is why I don't have a web page.  Well, I had one once and nobody ever viewed it.  And I got bored with it.  I find most writer web pages and blogs are boring and they often go for months without being updated.  This blog here isn't a true writer blog--I call it Rants & Raves for a reason.  That's what I do is rant and rave about stuff.  It's a lot more fun for me and that's why I update at least a couple of times a week.  And the viewership is way higher than my old writer web page--way more.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cold chills

Well, it remains one of the coldest and wettest springs in these parts that I can remember.  Whilst that's good for fire danger, I'm simply astonished I'm using my heater in mid June. They're sure screwing up our climate.  Maybe it'll warm up for a few days before winter starts.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Stun setting

Last night I noticed someone was wandering around just outside my condo with a flashlight.  I'm not sure if the presence of a flashlight is a good thing or a bad thing.  Would someone with no flashlight be  a bigger threat than one with one?  At any rate, at around midnight, I was not overjoyed that someone appeared to be snooping around.  Do I set my phaser on stun or a higher setting?  Well, the flashlight wandered off and I went back to watching Perry Mason reruns. My life is so exciting. 

I've always thought a nice phaser would be really handy to have.  The problem with my .357 is if  send it and it turns out I was wrong, oops.  This guy's missing a head all of a sudden.  With a phaser on stun, you just tell him he tripped on dog poop and hit his head.  Of course, the villains were always deactivating the phasers--not likely with the .357.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

selling stuff

I had a bunch of stuff, mostly books, that I didn't want anymore.  So, I tried to sell it on Amazon. After two months, not a single item sold.  Next, I tried eBay.  Nothing sold there, either.  With the shift to ebooks, print books are getting much tougher to sell. I had my stuff priced pretty cheap. So, I took the books down the street to the thrift store and donated them.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Shirt magic

When I was young and starting to dress myself, I noticed an awful lot of my shirts were inside out after they'd been laundered.  Since I didn't turn them inside out when I took them off, how they always seemed to get inside out when they came back confused me.  Now we're talking about t-shirts and polos--stuff without buttons.

Well, many decades have passed since those days.  Alas, I just did a load of laundry and every single shirt was inside out.  And I don't turn them inside out when I take them off.  What law of physics am I missing?  How can this be?  The universe is a very mysterious place.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Silence

Surveys are a tool often used to make marketing and even political decisions. Can they be trusted?  I don't know.  We tried a few surveys with Steampunk Trails, where I am publisher.  We tried them on the magazine's blog. We tried sending them to people who bought the darned thing. Heck, we even tried putting surveys up on other sites.  The result was about the same--hardly anyone bothered to respond.  We wanted to know what people wanted. Did they want interior illustrations? Did they like a few nonfiction articles?  Did they like short fiction or longer, more developed, stories?  We don't know. We couldn't get anyone to tell us. 

So, when Story Emporium debuts next month, we're basically going back to our roots.  It'll just be a fiction magazine. There won't be any nonfiction, except for  few short book reviews.  There won't be any interior illustrations, either.  It will have a really cool cover with dinosaurs on it.  And I think the stories are pretty good too.  Our roots are Science Fiction Trails.  That's what started all this.  A decade of experience there is what influenced our decisions now.  Of course, it's not all science fiction this time, but a broader range of stories.

Friday, June 5, 2015



10. You ask about rust spots on surgical instruments.  He says, “That ain’t rust, it’s dried blood.”
9. Something called “malpractice fee” starts turning up on bills.
8. Anesthesiologist asks if you want oxygen or you just want to hold your breath during the          operation.
7. He tells you, “If leaches were good enough for George Washington they’re good enough for you.”
6. There are more process servers in waiting room than patients.
5. During exam, he keeps talking about the good old days treating prisoners when you didn’t even need a medical license.
4. Wants to put you under. Complaint was an ear infection.
3. Receptionist tells caller, “Sure we’re taking new patients. That’s all we have. No one ever comes back.”
2. Asks if you mind if he eats a sandwich during the exam.
1. Has diploma on wall from same bogus mail order university you went to.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Paper thieves

I keep buying little notepads so I can write notes down.  I like them if someone calls me and gives me information or something.  But, I can't figure out what happens to them.  It seems like I buy a package and in no time the notepads are all gone, yet a search of my domicile turns up nothing and I only recall using a few of  sheets from the notepads.  Where do they go?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


I suppose, by most standards, I have a fairly large vocabulary. and, I suppose, at times, that's been a good thing--although I can't say for certain.  It's not like knowing what words mean puts money in my pockets or gets women to like me.  For some reason I was waxing nostalgic about a job I once had a long time ago.  This guy George worked at the same place and was a total moron.  I never found out why, but some of the girls that worked there started calling him smegma.   He had no idea what it meant.  He said, "I think it has something to do with the male penis."  I told him it does, actually.  Then I told him what it meant. He didn't seem very happy, which reminded me of another obscure term--ignorance is blissed. 

I never found out precisely why they were calling him smegma. George was the sort of guy that if someone ran up to him and hit him with a hammer, you'd be tempted to reward the assailant with a few bucks.

Smegma is a thick, cheeselike, sebaceous secretion that collects beneath the foreskin

Monday, June 1, 2015

wooded places

I recently said in the Bigfoot casting fiasco that my condo is close to large tracts of forest land.  Case in point, yesterday at around dusk I saw a mountain lion across the river.  Now some folks would freak out at this creature.  It didn't concern me at all.  It was just wandering around.  I paid it little mind and went about my business.  Wish I'd had a camera with me.