Saturday, December 31, 2016

Interview, David Lee Summers

Author David Lee Summers stops by for a short interview.

DBR: You have a new book out called The Astronomer’s Crypt.   Is this set at an  observatory or a planetarium?

The Astronomer's Crypt is set at a fictional observatory in the Sacramento Mountains of Southern New Mexico. 

DBR: Is this a ghost story?

Yes, in the sense that there are ghosts in the story.  However, the ghosts manifest and gain strength because an ancient, mystical monster has been unleashed, which proves to be the story's primary threat.

DBR: This story takes places at Carson Peak, is that a real location or a composite from the places you’ve visited?

Although the location is fictional, it takes inspiration from real observatories I've worked at or visited in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Not only is the observatory fictional, but so is Carson Peak itself.  Although fictional, the mountain resembles real peaks in the Sacramento range.  I also imagine a small mining town nearby called Toledo and an Apache casino beyond that.  The overall setting is not unlike Mt. Palomar in California.  The fictional town of Toledo is essentially an amalgam of the real New Mexico towns of Mogollon and Madrid.

DBR: You do a lot of vampire stuff. Is this a paradigm shift or just a one-time thing?

The long term goal is for The Astronomer's Crypt to be the first book in a trilogy set around the Carson Peak wilderness area.  So, yes, it stands separate from my vampire books, but if all goes well, it will be more than a one-time thing.

DBR:  So, can you tell us a little about the main character?

The novel's main character is Mike Teter.  He operates telescopes at Carson Peak Observatory. At the end of a night, during a terrible winter snow storm, he experiences a vision of horrific monster. Afterwards, on the drive home, the astronomer he has been working with hits an icy patch on the road and dies in the subsequent car crash.  Freaked out by this event, he quits to take on a life in town with his new wife.  Two years later, Mike is asked to return to the observatory during a staffing shortfall.     That's when his troubles really begin.
Mike is something of an introvert, but he loves his wife, an astronomer named Bethany.  They're expecting their first child.  He's a science fiction fan and loves superhero comics.  He doesn't believe in ghosts and he just wants to do his job and support his new family.

DBR: You actually work at a real observatory.  Have they been supportive?

 Yes, I work at Kitt Peak National Observatory outside of Tucson, Arizona.  My boss has admitted that she's a little nervous that I wrote a book entitled The Astronomer's Crypt, but in fact, she's been quite supportive of my writing.  A lot of the astronomers I work with have expressed an interest in this novel.

DBR You’ve also got a story coming up in a weird western anthology soon.  Can you tell us what that’s about?

My story "Fountains of Blood" will be appearing in the anthology Straight Outta Tombstone, edited by David Boop.  The story was inspired by the real life disappearance of Albert J. Fountain, a former Texas governor and Billy the Kid's defense attorney who was investigating participants in New Mexico's so-called Lincoln County War.  While traveling through White Sands, Fountain and his young son vanished, never to be seen again.  In the story, Fountain's body guard investigates the disappearance and discovers it may have been the work of vampires rather than hired guns.

The Astronomer's Crypt is available from Amazon at the link below.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Dr. What?

Old goat wanders around space and time doing stupid things.  Or Dr. Who. Call it whatever you like. I have not enjoyed the latest offerings from the long-running BBC program, so my expectations were especially low for the Christmas Special.  Some guy with super powers wants to get laid and the Doctor comes by and interferes because he doesn't trust anyone to save the Earth but him. * That's pome star out of five.

Thursday, December 29, 2016


With most fruitcakes, we could have the Air Force dump them on ISIS and they'd surrender immediately.  Yet more are gifted, then re-gifted every Christmas.  No one ever seems to want them. To that, enter my fruitcakes. They mow them down and beg for more. Today I'm making another batch as the original supply has run out and people want more for New Years.  Why is that?  My fruitcakes are delicious and everyone else's suck. What's my secret? I ain't telling.

Monday, December 26, 2016


Made fruitcakes a few days ago. They're very easy to make--if you know how. Mine are especially good.  There are two things I can really fix: turkey and fruitcake.  A lot of the ones bought at the store are mediocre.  They skimp on ingredients.  My cakes are moist and delicious and I don't put those horrible green things in them.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas For Older Kids

Christmas Stories For Older Kids

  Sally kept looking at the old grandfather clock as it ticked along.  Time was moving so slow. Would these people ever go to bed?
  “Hot date?”
  She glared back at Ray for a second. What did Gramma see in him? “Sure, I”m going to gang bang the local high school band after you two fall asleep.”
   “Where do you learn such filthy talk?” Gramma handed Sally a cup of coca.
  “I”m seventeen, not twelve,” she mumbled under her breath. Neither of the two could hear much of anything without their hearing aids–which were always turned off to save batteries.
Ray was drinking Scotch, as usual. A shame he didn’t have a fondness for arsenic. “He’s always asking me about boys. Goes on like I’m the local whore.”
  “Stop this, both of you.”
  Why had Mom gone off to Switzerland?  It was the middle of winter. Hans or Gunther or whoever it was this week had money.
   “You redheads all have a temper,” Ray said between sips of his Johnny Walker.
  “I was a redhead,” Gramma reminded him. “Before it went gray.”
  The cookies were good.   On balance, how she hated this season.
  Ray announced, “Well, Ray is gonna turn in.  Maybe Santa will bring him something good.”
  Sally really hated it when Ray started talking about himself in the third person. “Maybe a lump of coal.”
  “Nope, Santa’s getting me a new chain saw. Vroom.”
  “It’s been a long day,” Gramma announced.  “Don’t stay up too late, dear.”
  “I won’t.”  It wasn’t like they had cable or even Internet. Just some fuzzy channel from Denver.
   At least the tree looked nice this year.  She loved that evergreen smell.  Last year, Mom had bought a fake one for the condo back home. It was pink. Gramma would have nothing like that in her house.
Except for Ray, it was at least a tolerable Christmas.  After Grampa died, Gramma married Ray for some inexplicable reason. Old people go to bed early.  That was a good thing. Sally was used to being alone. She didn’t mind it. She gazed out at the snow. Probably more snow here than over in Switzerland.  Mom probably wouldn’t even bother to call.
  There was a present for Gramma Sally had picked up in town at the Rexall.  Mom had sent one for her, and even one for Ray. But Ray wasn’t going to find any present from her under there. No way.        One package looked like a chain saw. He’d be a happy camper.
   She combed her hair and thought about things.  It was only nine o’clock.  At least Ray was in bed.
  The tree put out good light. She left it on and turned off everything else.
  Gramma’s house was so small there wouldn’t be any landing on the roof. Just not room enough for eight reindeer [Do they count Rudolph? He doesn’t exist anyway.] The sleigh would have to put down in the back yard and go between the two cottonwood trees. No other way.
  The guy at Radio Shack agreed and sold her a getup that used a laser beam. It was more reliable that infra red, he’d insisted while he tried to look down her top. It seemed to be working
She found herself dozing off.  Should’ve skipped the cookies and cocoa. Gramma never heard of sugar free products.
  It was beeping.  The TV changed and switched to the back yard.  That hadn’t been hard to connect.     But the guy at Radio Shack initially offered little help. The more she bent over the counter letting him look down her sweater, the more helpful he seemed to get.
  And now it was working.  The sleigh was right where she’d predicted.  And the back door was opening.
  Santa placed his heavy bag on the floor. “At least they don’t have a pink tree this year,” he muttered quietly.
    Sally put her arms around him. “The tree wasn’t my fault.”
    “You’re too old for presents.”
  “You’re never too old for presents. Besides, the older kids hurt the most on Christmas.”
  “You get no presents, Sally. You can’t have any if you’re not sleeping.”
  “Good. I don’t want any.” She released her grip on him. She released her nightgown as well. It fell around her ankles,
  “Oh my God!”
  Santa was shaking.  “Look, five years ago, you were lying naked on the bed. I didn’t know you were here.”
  “I knew you were here.  I wanted you then. I want you now.  I’m not little girl anymore.”
  “You most certainly are ... not an adult young lady. You get your clothes on right now. I’m a married man.”
  “I don’t care.” She started rubbing her breasts. “I could be your mistress. Lots of men have them.”
  “Out of the question.”
  She grabbed him and tried to kiss him.
  Santa pulled away.
  “I’m legal in seven states and half the European Union. Take me there. You’ve got reindeer.”
“Yeah, like I want them telling Mrs. Claus.”
  Sally laid on the couch. “Very well.  Could you at least take Ray’s chain saw back to the hardware store?
  And he was gone.  The sleigh was gone.  And that chain saw was gone.  And there was another box for Ray.
“If you could move that fast, why’d you linger here so long, Santa? You know you want me.”
  The next morning Sally was surprised it was eight o’clock. Old people get up early.
 “You want some breakfast, Sally?”
  Please don’t say “Merry Christmas.
  “Merry Christmas.”
  Sally checked to make sure she had her clothes back on. Her nightgown was in place. She wrapped her flannel bathrobe tight as well. After breakfast they opened their presents.  A gift card to the hardware store from Ray. A stack of books from Gramma–some of them might be interesting. And there was another box, from Santa. She opened it. It was a nightgown, a low cut see through nightgown from Victoria’s Secret.
  “My word. Who sent you that? Gramma asked.
  “It says ‘Santa.’” Sally folded it up. “I don’t know. Unless Mom?”
Ray opened his last box.  “What the heck happened to my chain saw?” He removed a lump of coal from the box. “Now this isn’t funny. Where’s my chain saw?”
  “It wasn’t me,” Sally insisted. She handed Ray the gift card. “Take this and get a chain saw with it.”
   “You don’t have to,” Gramma said.
  “No, he’ll enjoy a chain saw more than a puppy likes a new tennis ball.  Chopping up all that scrub oak.”
  “Well, thank you Sally.  I sure wish I knew who took the one from under the tree.”
   “And that nightgown wasn’t here yesterday.” Gramma pointed out.
  Sally mumbled, “Weird.”  She’d just put a peppermint stick in her mouth.
  “Where’d you get that?” Gramma asked.
  Sally pulled the peppermint out of her mouth. “This?
  “I sure didn’t buy it.  And we didn’t have any yesterday. I’d think it was your mother’s doing but she lacks any sense of humor, whatsoever.”
“ Maybe Santa brought them,” Sally said.
  Far to the north there was one unopened package at the end of the route.  Santa had waited until everyone was asleep to open it. He’d found it in the bag. “To Santa From Sally.”  It was a red colored plastic tube.  Inside was some sort of poster. He unrolled it. It was a poster all right, of Sally in a skimpy bathing suit. Where could he put it? Mrs. Claus was everywhere.  He wanted to toss it into the fireplace, but he just couldn’t do it.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Carol, A

This time of year there are plenty of opportunities to watch A Christmas Carol.  It pops up all over the place.

I never seem to tire of this story.  I’ve read the original story by Charles Dickens.  I’ve seen more dramatizations than I can count.   I have no idea how many there actually are, although I am confident I’ve seen most of them. There are at least ten that have been made into TV specials or films. 

My first exposure was in junior high.  In the eight grade we put on a slightly watered down version.  I was stage crew.  But what a wonderful play it was.  Over the years I’ve tried to take in every adaptation of it that I could.  It is arguably both the best Christmas Story and the best ghost story ever written.  

I’ve come to just a few conclusions. The farther the scriptwriter or director attempts to venture from the original Dickens dialogue, the worst the movie/play is. My favorite is the George C. Scott version. I thought he made a delightful Scrooge. 

What was Ebeneezer Scrooge's occupation? Well he was  business man with a partner named Jacob Marley. I've read the original Dickens.  Frankly, it doesn't say. People have speculated it was some sort of money lending operation. I would submit they could have been accountants.  But we're never really told.  Somehow, American versions seem to feel the need to substitute turkey for the prized goose in the window. I like turkey better, too.  But it was not in the original.  

I've watched three versions this season, thus far. If you haven't seen it in a while, download it or borrow or watch it on one of many channels.  AMC runs multiple versions.  

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night [and that's from another work]

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Myrrh. No body's sure how to spell it, let alone pronounce it.  I don't know what you use it for.  It's famous as it's mentioned by name as one of the gifts the Three Wise Men brought for Baby Jesus.  Did Baby Jesus open up a Myrrh stand in Bethlehem?  I still don't know what you do with it.  I'm giving it to select recipients this Christmas.  If any of them whine about it I'm telling them: "If it's good enough for Jesus it's good enough for you1"

Monday, December 19, 2016

Fruit cake

I make a really good fruit cake.  It's just awesome.  I'm making one right now as we speak. Who will get it?  Ha. That's a secret.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


They say it's not just foreign countries that are taking away our jobs.  It's robots.  Robots don't look like the big walking tin cans I grew up looking at on Lost In Space.  Today's robots are built in the walls of factories,   And they're everywhere.  

Automation has wiped out the job of bank teller--both direct deposit and the atm machine have eliminated thousands of jobs.  Even the post office is using robots to deliver the mountains of packages this holiday season.  Look at a USPs video of their automated mail sorting plants then look at post office seen on Miracle on 34th St.  

They're testing cars and planes that drive themselves.  Lookout Teamsters, they're testing trucks too.

Until my recent retirement, I worked for a large hotel and property management company.  Another hotel company tried automated check in. They quietly dropped it. Folks didn't take to it.  But automated check out, where you can review your bill and check out on your TV set has proven quite popular--especially in larger towns like Las Vegas.   

So, don't be too surprised in the not too distant future if there's a robot in bed with your daughter instead of some fat old guy in a creepy red suit.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mule Deer

Well, I knew moving to the Sonoran Desert from Colorado was going to be an adjustment.  One thing I never expected to encounter were mule deer.  It seems they're everywhere.  In my case they've suddenly started attacking my two ash trees I planted a few months ago.  Apparently, tree leaves is good eats.  

I've always been amazed at how hideously ugly this particular type of deer are.  They look like some mad scientist somehow spliced together the head of a mule with the body of a deer.  Back in Colorado people somehow kept mistaking Elk for mule deer.  They'd come in all happy and inform me they'd seen a mule deer.  "We don't have mule deer around here. You've seen an elk." I would say without even looking up from my paperwork.   The forlorned traveler would venture back to his room disappointed.  At least there aren't any elk attacking my trees. These are mule deer and I can tell the difference.  My neighbors might get a bot miffed if I take up deer hunting tonight. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Bought a Costco pecan pie a few days ago. Their pies are huge.  I'd never had the pecan variety.  The thing was absolutely delicious.

You can get an amazing variety of baked goods this time of year.  And then there's fruit cake. You can get plenty of them, too.

Friday, December 9, 2016

all the worse for wear

No ill effects from drinking my seriously expired lemonade.  I figured it didn't smell bad, so what the heck.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mmmm Tasty Fresh

As I write this it's just after midnight on Thursday, December 8.  Earlier this evening I found a carton of lemonade in the refrigerator.  It had a expiration date of July 5th.  Again, it's December now.  What did I do?  I looked at it. I smelled it. Then I drank some.  We'll see how this turns out.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


When I moved into my current house this past June I soon planted two Ashe trees to try and eventually get some shade.  They're doing quite well, although it will be some time before they're big enough to provide any meaningful shade.  If I ever get a camera I'll post a picture of them.

This is the first yard I've ever had.  Sure, growing up our parents had yards--three over the years.  My grandma had a huge yard in Arkansas.  But this is the first time I've ever had a yard as my previous and only other home I've owned was a condo.

Monday, December 5, 2016

What'll they think of next

Okay, so my new shoes I ordered from Amazon arrived. yay!  Problem is, they didn't fit so good.  Well, we now have Amazon package lockers in the area.  All I had to do was tell Mr. Amazon I  wanted to return them, them take them down to the store and wave the bar code under the laser. A door to one of the lockers popped open, I placed my box inside and closed the door. Pretty slick. Not drone slick, but not bad.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Then there's banks

When I was in junior high school my math teacher said we wouldn't have cash by the 21st century.  Along came high school and my history teacher made the same statement.  In Tucson armed guards at banks are not at all unusual. So we have guards guarding something we shouldn't have anymore.  Of course I already knew that.  I read science fiction.  Back in those days it was mostly Heinlein.  First the juveniles and then the regular books.  Some of Heinlein's  books were kind of racy--especially to the 12-year-year-old.  But no one  cared.  Neither of my parents would touch a science fiction book. I could read them all day and no one cared. Glory Road entered my life about that age.  Plum filthy.  And no one cared. Science fiction was my own little universe.  And in more than one Heinlein book cash money was on the way out. So, when my teachers told me this grand revelation was coming I already knew it because I read science fiction,

Armed guards may be guarding money.  I was recently asked to guard something else.  The word is out in our compound that I write.  One neighbor's niece apparently liked a book  I've already had out--but it was a book I EDITED. She got it at school, as best we can figure. Or possibly her public library. My most similar NOVEL is the Two Devils.  Ergo my dilemma. Should I mention the sexual content and get  auntie all worked up or just remain silent?  Two Devil' is mild, but has this angel from hell who has a real sexual lust for the main character.  I never did understand teenage girls. So I figured to err on the side of caution and assured my neighbor to send her a copy and it would all be fine.

And I'm glad the guard out there is keeping my money safe. No Heinlein for him, that's for sure. Concentrate on them criminals trying to get at my money.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Books is good gifts

The only gifts I've given out that the recipient didn't like are gift cards, which they used to call gift certificates.  It's the least you can do.  And I've rarely given them out.  They say Prancer mauls people who give out gift cards, but it could just be a rumor. For the really out of it, Prancer is one of Santa's reindeer.

On the other hand no one has punched me or even acted angry when I've given them books.  So, if you're trying to decide what to give out for Christmas, let me suggest some of my books.  Crass commercialism? Probably.   For those who want to pick up something immediately, I'll also mention that at least some of my books are available in Chicago at Quimby's Bookstore.  In Denver at Broadway Book Mall. and in Tucson at Mostly Books on Speedway. Everything is available on Amazon.  Most near everything is available through any bookstore that can order through Ingram Distribution.  And a lot of my stuff is available  at Book Depository, which is an English outfit that ships worldwide.  If you don't see it, ask.  

Bonded Agent, my most recent book, is a science fiction novel about a Martian insurance adjustor.

Heat of the Midday Sun is an anthology I edited of weird western horror stories.  

The Martian Anthology is an anthology of science fiction stories involving everyone's favorite planet.

Gunslingers & Ghost Stories is one of my better selling endeavors. It's western ghost stories.

Six Guns Straight From Hell 2 is another anthology of weird westerns.

Low Noon is an out of print weird western anthology that's still around from used book stores.

The Devil Draws Two is a collection of three novels [that's novels, not short stories] in one big book. This is the entire history of Miles O'Malley thus far, anyway. Set in 1880, it's a ripping good adventure through the Wild West.

Buy some books.  And remember, no one who put books under the tree has ever been mauled by Prancer.