Monday, March 18, 2019

Well then

I offered to fix my kin [relatives] green eggs and ham for St Patrick's Day. They declined.  "I don't like green eggs and ham. I don't like them, Sam I am..."  Well, quoting Dr Seuss, they should've been more adventuresome.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy St Patrick's Day

Enjoy your St Patrick's Day.  May you find your nearest Irish restaurant and have yourself a wonderful meal. Uh?  Find some place that serves Irish beer then.  That would be Harp or Guinness. Frankly, I don't care for either one.  Just order Irish Whisky, they say it's like Scotch only not quite as good.  I don't know any brands, I don't drink Irish whisky and I'm only part Irish so I just don't know.  And there's something about corned beef--my mom made it for some reason.  She wasn't Irish, so I'm not sure why.  All I know is the Hostess Snowballs usually turn green for St Patrick's Day but not at the store I shop at.  Otherwise, I don't understand St. Patrick's Day.  I think you're supposed to hang a shamrock and stand under it and pretty red-haired girls will kiss you.  Either that or little green men bring you a pot of gold.

Anyway, it's not Ground Hog Day, but have a nice holiday anyway!

Saturday, March 16, 2019


Word coming in from my Colorado friends that they've been suffering through widespread power outages for a few days now due to a really bad blizzard.  That's not much fun.  It seems to me winter should be winding down, but old Jack Frost seems to have other ideas.  Then you hear the tragic stories of people using charcoal to heat their homes--let's hope not.  

Friday, March 15, 2019


It seems like every day another Democrat is announcing for the presidency.  Well, I want everyone to know that I am not running for president.  

Thursday, March 14, 2019


I've got these damned doves that keep hanging out on my car--pooping all over it.  I cannot get them to leave.  I've tried swatting them with a broom.  I put a rubber snake out.  They just won't leave.  It's not hunting season  and they are a game bird so I can't just kill them, as much as I'd like to. The reviews on these ultrasonic devices are not encouraging. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Telebision treats

I said already that I really enjoyed Wild Wild West Con.  One unexpected treat was an episode of the late 90's TV show Legend.  This short-lived show was wonderful.  When I talk about weird westerns, this is what I am talking about.  It's a fun show, not too serious.  And there it was.  The show has been relegated to the Obscurity Channel [It isn't being broadcast].  Even on Amazon it's hard to find--Legend won't do--has to be Richard Dean Anderson Legend.  Yep, between McGiver and Star Gate he did this show.  It was so wonderful to see it again.  

And it was filmed at Old Tucson, so that backdrop made it all the more appropriate for this particular venue.  

Monday, March 11, 2019

Had a great Time at Wild Wild West Con

Yes I did.

A little more on tat tomorrow.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Ripping Good Stuff

Having a great time at Wild Wild West Con.  A special treat was getting to watch an episode of the TV show Legend.  It's been running on the obscurity channel for some time. Hadn't seen it in years. Folks were amazed at the fact they'd never heard of it.

Thursday, March 7, 2019


I'll be attending Wild Wild West Con 8 through the weekend.  I'll update if time permits and something interesting happens, otherwise I'll just write something when it's over.  This is an easy con for me to attend as I live just a few miles from Old Tucson Studios, where it's being held.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Failure is an option

Our goal of getting a million orders for Fallen Angel by today have hit a snag. Actually, there wasn't really a goal. I don't even know how many copies have been sold.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


Guys, stumped at what to get your sweetie for St Patrick's Day?  If you give her a copy of Fallen Angel she'll think you are the cat's meow.  Fallen Angel by David B. Riley, available in  ebook and trade paperback, You'll be glad you did.

Damned Birds

We have a large supply of doves in my neighborhood.  They drive me crazy. They're constantly sitting on my car and pooping on it.  For a while I had a rubber snake and that seemed to keep them away. I think they decided it was dead and flew away with it--it's gone.  

I have a carport.  They seem to like my carport because it gives them protection from birds of prey, who tend to swoop down from above.  We have a hawk that I call Henry [after Henry Hawk who wants to ear Foghorn Leghorn].  He doesn't seem to come after them under the carport. In fact, we used to have quail running around.  They fly reluctantly and prefer to stay on the ground. Now, I do not see quail anymore. It could be the coyotes got them, but I think Henry did it. I just wish he'd switch his diet and eat more doves--a lot more of them.

Monday, March 4, 2019


I mentioned Wild Wild West Con to a few neighbors over the weekend.  They had no idea why there would be such a thing,  This steampunk sounded very strange to them and they couldn't figure out why they were doing it at Old Tucson, which is a movie studio where they filmed westerns. To each their own.  I've suggested a few other people I know should attend the darned thing, at least for one of the three days, but no takers.  Obviously, this sort of thing is not for everyone.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Merry Indeed

The yard sale did rather well. I sold almost everything I had.  The crazy old man came over with some stuff and sold it. He was very happy. 

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Garbage Sale

No, that's not a typo. Today I'm having a yard sale. Trying to get rid of excess accumulation.  My brother is bringing over some stuff as well.  You never know how these things will turn out. I haven't done one of these in many years. In the past I've just donated to Goodwill, but I though this time around I would see if I could convert some of my unwanted items into cash. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Grape Nuts Flakes

I found some Grape Nuts Flakes yesterday. I am so happy.  Few stores sell them.  They're not like regular Grape Nuts. They look like corn flakes, but have a different mix of grain in them.  I love 'em, but they've gotten hard to find. Few stores seem to sell them. The folks at Post Cereals don't seem to want to advertise them. I don't think a lot of people know what they  are.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Wild Wild West Con

I finally got my programming schedule for Wild Wild West Con.  That's a steampunk con held here in Tucson at Old Tucson Studios.  It's a lot of fun. If you live in southern Arizona you might give it a look.  It runs March 8-10.

As for my schedule,


12 PM doing a cover art event
2 PM Armored Vehicles of the 1800s
4 PM Weird Westerns, The Greatest Genre Nobody Ever Heard of


12 PM Victorian Science & Science Fiction


2 PM Green Cheese & More, stories about the moon in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Motor Vehicles

The other day I wrote about how I was dreading a trip to the Motor Vehicle Division.  It was actually two trips. First I went to the emissions inspection place.  I waited two or three minutes, then I was signaled in to the testing bay.  The technician was very polite and friendly.  He tested my car and it passed. I got my new  certificate and off I went.  I thought I'd be sitting in line for hours and they'd hassle me over some triviality. Nope, I passed and off I went. 

Next came the dreaded Motor Vehicle Office.  A pleasant lady greeted me and I explained I wanted to renew my registration.  She sent me to an automated kiosk. I guess they're replacing motor vehicle clerks with robots. The kiosk was easy to use and the whole renewal took about three minutes. The machine printed out my new registration and my new license plate tab and off I went.

Not a single thing to complain about.  Everything was handled in just a few minutes. I was kind of disappointed.  I was all set for hassles and to kill the entire morning.  I went down to the coffee shop and had some breakfast.  What a day!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Fallen Angel is Now Available

My novella, Fallen Angel, officially goes on sale today.  It's been available a few days in some forms, but it's now up and available in ebook outlets and can also be ordered through print bookstores.   This is a story about Mabel, a fallen angel who's supposed to be living in hell after being kicked out of heaven. Alas, Mabel gets bored  easily and keeps turning up on Earth. Our story begins during the Civil War where Mabel is working as a photographer.The cover reflects that as it shows Mabel taking a photograph of a Martian as famed General Ulysses S. Grant looks on. Martians?

This is a weird western adventure and the Wild West was never this wild.  Mabel goes on to hook up with her friend Miles O'Malley in San Francisco 20 years later. Events from the Civil War follow her, including her crazy sister and the sinister plans the Martians have for Earth. 

I think it's a fun story. Mabel has appeared in the Miles O'Malley books, now collectively reprinted in one edition called The Devil Draws Two.  Mabel's a bit of a free spirit. She spends money like crazy, but doesn't worry too much since it's counterfeit. She loves to play poker, inviting herself to the occasional poker game in saloons where she's not entirely welcome. But her best talent may be that angels can speak any language--even Martian. And that is one thing of intense interest to the United States government. 

As I've said before, I'm a big fan of novellas. I think they're a fun size. You get a more developed tale than from a short story, yet there isn't the extemporaneous baggage often found in full length novels.  There's a lot of action packed into the pages of  Fallen Angel. I sure enjoyed writing it.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Stamp, A Saucer & Some Martians

Tomorrow I'll be writing a few thoughts about my new book, Fallen Angel. I get asked how I come up with stuff.  There is not any one answer.  My storytelling has returned repeatedly to 1880's California. I like the era and I've studied California's history extensively. So I'm more comfortable writing there.  There's a certain world I've created.  It had a common villain in the form of Ah Puch, the Mayan god of death. He was a nemesis for Miles O'Malley and a little over a year ago businessman Ling Fung took him on as well in Legends of the Dragon Cowboys. Where Miles was based in San Francisco, Ling Fung planted  himself in the mining town of Placerville once he was kicked out of China.  And, though they both know Ah Puch, Miles O'Malley and Ling Fung have never met in my stories. 

But my new story starts out a little earlier and in Mississippi, not California. My inspiration for this was the US Postal Service. Huh? During the Civil War there was supposedly a UFO sighting during the Battle of Vicksburg. This glowing sphere hovered over the battlefield, distracting the soldiers. Supposedly, one colonel had to draw his sidearm and threaten to shoot his men to get an artillery battery to resume firing as the soldiers were all gawking at the glowing sphere hovering above them.  That ain't in the history books. So, I think the 150th anniversary of the battle came along and the Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp. It was a nice stamp depicting an important Civil War battle. The postal folks did a nice job. But, then there's me. My immediate reaction was: "Where's the UFO?" I complained about the lack of a UFO hovering over the battle to some of my friends. I didn't really expect to see a UFO on the stamp, but would've been thrilled to have seen one there.. The post office would've sold more stamps.

A few years went by and I kept thinking about that stamp and it's lack of a glowing sphere above the battlefield. Well, by golly, I'll just write a story with a glowing sphere above the battlefield. And my glowing sphere lands. Tomorrow I'll talk about Mabel and the Martians in that glowing sphere.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

More Brrr

Usually, when people think it's cold in Tucson it's because they're being wimps. I went outside yesterday. Damn.  It was snowing. It never snows in Tucson. The desert looks kind of pretty with a blanket of snow on it. but, damn.  I went and dug our my Colorado clothes--stuff I hadn't worn since I moved to Arizona.  The snowbirds are all probably wondering why they came down here. 

Friday, February 22, 2019

May God have mercy on you...

Off today to the Motor Vehicles Department.  I cannot register my car online.  Of course you don't get a reason, the website just says cannot be completed.  You can't call anyone and get an explanation. They don't send you any notice of what the problem is. You just have to go down there and wait in line and maybe someone will help you and maybe not.

Then, a couple guys in suits come out of an unmarked door. "Come with us, Mister Riley."
"What's this about?" I ask.
"Just come with us." 
And they take me into a room with  chair under a bare light bulb. "Take off your clothes."
"Surely, you've been strip searched before."
"What's this have to do with my car registration?"
"Nothing. We just like strip searching people."
"Then I grab the bare light bulb and break the bulb against my wrist and the room goes dark..."

Thursday, February 21, 2019


I have oft lamented the narrow range of stories I get for Science Fiction Trails where I am editor.  One thing I've only gotten once in 14 years is bar fights--a western staple.  On a related note, I've never gotten a story about a piano player in a western bar either.  

Nope, everything I get is pretty much some clod wearing a badge.

Oh well, I can always hope.  The next reading period isn't until December.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

well now what?

We survived the cold snap. A lot of my neighbors wrapped their plants in sheets. They don't have anyone to wrap them up out in the forest--ergo I do not wrap mine.  I guess there's more cold weather on the way.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019


They're saying it may snow today.  I can hardly wait.  Tucson can't handle snow. Watching people slide around; closing schools. I lived for 15 years in Colorado.  They didn't close the schools when it snowed.  I just hope I can make a snowman.  

I write these blogs a few days in advance. It now does not seem like we're getting any snow. Bummer. 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Fallen Angel

I am pleased to announce my new novella, Fallen Angel,  will be released February 25th.  It will be available in print and most ebook formats.

Fallen Angel is the story of Mabel, an angel from hell, who accompanies General Grant’s army during the last days of the Civil War only to discover that Martians are watching the Earth with envious eyes and slowly drawing their plans against us. Not only that, but Mabel has to contend with her evil sister,  who wants to have humans for dinner. Although Mabel and Grant get the upper hand before the war ends, the battle of good against evil isn’t won so quickly. Several years later, in San Francisco, Mabel just wants to have fun with her friend Miles O’Malley, when she discovers her sister and the Martians have joined forces with a college  fraternity and humanity may be on the dinner menu. 

Cover art is by Laura Givens.  That's Mabel, General Ulysses S. Grant and some Martian guy on the cover. That's an old time camera Mabel's using. She worked as a photographer during the Civil War. Want to know more, read the story...

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Millions and millions sold

What if space aliens take people's books and reprint them on Vega [that's where the space aliens are supposedly from]? What if they showed up one day and gave the author like a million dollars in gold for back royalties? I'm just sayin'.  It's not like it really happened or anything. I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Cold Wind and the Black Momba

Well, the doves are back.  It's been cold of late and a lot of wind.  The doves like to sit on my car [it's semi sheltered in a carport].  They had been somewhere else.  They must sense more bad weather.  And they poop all over my car.  I went into my shed and found my rubber Black Mamba and put it out on the car. The doves are gone now.

"Hey, that's a Black Mamba, the deadliest snake in Africa," the doves are probably thinking.  "Let's get out of here."

Friday, February 15, 2019

tyrannical despot

Look it up.  Throughout history,when there's been a tyrant who's become a dictator they've usually claimed some sort of emergency and claim they're only using emergency powers to deal with said emergency--until they do it again and try and grab even more power.  It's a well established pattern.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Holiday?

Well, I realize Valentine's Day isn't nearly as exciting as Ground Hog Day--that other February holiday that work doesn't let you have off.  In the local version of a dollar store I noted they had little heart shaped boxes of chocolate for a dollar.  Boy, buy your sweetie that and spend the rest of the winter sleeping on the couch.  Yet, somebody must be buying them.  Is it simply for a chocolate fix in the parking lot or is some moron actually going to give the dollar box of chocolate to somebody?

And then there's the pizza place--selling heart shaped peperoni pizza, on sale no less.  Hi sweetie,  got you a pizza for Valentine's Day. And a dollar box of candy.

I hope people don't give Valentines to their dogs.  Seriously, that dollar box of candy can make fido really sick. Chocolate is bad for dogs.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


In selecting the stories for Science Fiction Trails, where I'm editor, I've found things tend to run in themes. One reading period will be heavy on alternate worlds whilst another might be heavy on professor/inventor type stories. And then sometimes there is no clear pattern, just a little bit of everything. For issue 14 I thought we might be heading into another steampunk issue. Alas, I got a few steampunk stories but I only accepted one of them.

I also got a few little green men stories.  And I liked them.  I've always been a sucker for stories with little green men in them. They don't literally have to be green, but merely aliens from outer space. I'm not really sure why I like these stories. But I do seem to like tales of flying saucers and space aliens--especially if they're doing something interesting.  I'm still haunted by the time I got a ton of aliens in caves and mines for no explicable reason.  

What I wish I could get are more stories from the ologies.  By that I mean geology, biology, paleontology and so on.  Too many submissions fall in a very narrow and often predictable range. I can always hope.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What's in a name?

Naming  characters is something little attention is given too.  Writers are seldom asked how they come up with names. Charles Dickens actually kept a notebook that he'd write down an interesting name if he came across it.  

Then there's me.  They just kind of pop up. I envision a character and start thinking about that character--does she drink too much? Is she cute?  Is she smart? And, voila, Sarah Meadows is now a character [Bonded Agent and misc short stories].  

The only character I've ever really gotten a backlash on is Paul.  People do not seem to like the fact that Miles O'Malley's horse is named Paul.  It bothers them. They do not think Paul is a suitable name for a horse.  They may be right. I've certainly gotten a lot of static about it.  But now that he's been in all these Miles O'Malley weird western books, I'm kind of stuck with him.  I can't get rid of Paul anymore than the Lone Ranger could send Silver off to the glue factory.  It just isn't done. And Paul will be in my new book, Fallen Angel.  Of course he is.  If Miles O'Malley is in the book, Paul is certain to show up. 

Mabel?  She kind of appeared in the first Miles O'Malley book, The Two Devils. I fell in love with her right out of the gate. She's been a real hoot, but this time it is Mabel who is the main character and Miles who has a tag along role. Miles isn't even present in the first third of the book.  I wanted a name that's authentic to the period [1800s]. but not too common these days.  My grandmother's favorite china head doll was named Mabel, so this one didn't entirely just pop in my head.

Then Kevin? Mabel's sister, in Fallen Angel, is Kevin. She's a girl, but Kevin is a boy's name? Well, I envisioned this blond girl angel and Kevin just popped up.  It seemed just right for her. This girl is just plain nuts. Now I'm not saying giving her a boy's name is why she's nuts, but it just kind of fits her. You don't want to mess with Kevin.  She is not to be trifled with. 

Into this mix, we have the town drunk Moses.  I've named other characters in other stories Moses, They were all loosely based on this drunk homeless guy I once knew, although this Moses has a lot more shit all over him. I think we'll see more of him in future stories.  

And we add three real people for color and authenticity.  It's hard to just stick entirely with made up characters and not cross paths once and a while with authentic folks.  Sioux Chief Rain-in-the -Face gets things going. We meet Deadwood Marshal Seth Bullock, who became marshal after the murder of Wild Bill Hickok. And General Ulysses S. Grant performs a substantial role. 

And there, without any spoilers, I have discussed the major characters in Fallen Angel by simply discussing the naming of characters. Shameless self promotion or objective writing discussion? Hmmm.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fallen Angel

The publisher advises the release for my novella Fallen Angel will be February 25th. I'm not sure when I can show the cover. I hope people like it.  It's a novella.  There are not a lot of them published. I don't think readers are used to reading them, hence my concern. I think it's a good story and I have become a big fan of this sized story.  But what I like and what the general public likes are often at odds.  Well, I hope to start promoting the release soon.  It would be nice if folks actually bought copies. One concern I have is libraries.  Libraries do not seem to like novellas and most of  them don't like weird westerns--so a weird western novella. Yikes?   

Sunday, February 10, 2019


Living out in the sticks has it's advantages.  It's quiet. You can see wildlife. But there are drawbacks. For one thing, we lack a decent restaurant. For another--we lack a grocery store. It's a half hour drive to Kroger, even farther to Costco.  Now, those distances aren't insurmountable. On the other hand, if I just want some tea or orange juice, it's a pain. Hence the dollar stores. We have them.  I don't like them. Alas, I was able to procure some ketchup and some iced tea yesterday without driving all the way into town.

My point?  I wish we had a grocery store.

Friday, February 8, 2019


My insurance has made me change my pharmacy from a crappy awful pharmacy to a really crappy awful pharmacy and I am not happy.  I can't sign in to their web portal.  I can't get my prescriptions filled.  They say they haven't got them yet doctor's office sez they were sent. It is a nightmare.  I sure miss the days when the doctor just gave you a slip and you gave it to the pharmacy.  Now, you have to go through this electronic clearing house and it never gets handled right, just so the government can monitor doctor's prescribing habits. 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Itchy Trigger Finger

I am hoping I can soon start telling everyone about my new novella.  The cover art is done and the editing is done and the finishing touches like the book's layout are being wrapped up.  Still don't know what the price is going to be or when it goes on sale.

There are some things I can say about it.  It's from the same 1880s universe my last novella, "The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung" takes place in.  Only thing is, Ling Fung and Mabel have never met. The new book is about Mabel, a fallen angel kicked out of heaven and living in hell, well sort of. She keeps turning up on earth. And it's a good thing, too.  Bad forces are at work and she has unique abilities.

I sure liked writing this story and I do hope people like reading it.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Mattress From Outer Space

I note that President's Day is approaching. That means mattress sales. Betcha can't wait.  

Just bought a mattress.  I looked at those ones from certain companies that advertise a lot. Boy howdy. They're expensive. Ergo, I purchased one from the folks at Wayfair.  Damned good price. It came in a box. You cut the plastic wrap off of it and it unrolls and poof--one queen size mattress. I don't know how well it will hold up. Only time can tell that. I can say it is remarkably comfortable.  This one has memory foam on top and is quite nice and was a fraction of the price of most other places. I like it. Yay!

Then I had to get rid of the old crappy mattress.  Called up the local trash company.  They were quite happy to take care of it for me. Yay!

I wonder if space aliens sleep on mattresses.

Monday, February 4, 2019

I Survived

Now that the Super Bowl is over and Ground Hog Day is past me, I guess it's time for Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day.  At least you don't really have to get people gifts for St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Have computer, won't travel

Science Fiction Trails 14 just ended its reading period.  Alas, we just do not get very many stories. The simple fact is that writers whine constantly about the lack of markets.   Yet many markets go begging for stories--it's not just us.  Fiction oriented serials, as librarians call them, have been on the decline but anthologies still get cranked out.  And many of these markets go begging for submissions.  Why?  I don't now why.  Some of the books I've edited paid something in the neighborhood of pro rates, yet few writers bothered to submit anything.  The forthcoming book Hotel Haunted  pretty much just pays royalties and is not expected to be a big money earner.  We could barely get enough stories for a book. 

If it's not money, what is it?  Well, I don't know.  But I do know this: there is amazingly little risk taking in the stories I get, be they horror, science fiction or weird western.  The weird westerns pretty much all follow the formula of some guys get together and go somewhere and something bad happens and most everyone gets killed because the vampires, aliens, or zombies don't like them. They're always led by some sheriff, or ex-sheriff turned bounty hunter. And they're going to this Possum Gulch because there's some reward, or someone's pissed off and wants revenge. And, clearly, whatever draws them there isn't any of their business. And the overriding question is: why didn't these people stay home?  No, let's go off to this strange town and get half our party killed.

Hey, this blog ain't called Rants & Raves for nothing.

Then there's the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  What about them?  I've NEVER, in all of the projects I have edited, had one story with a Mountie in it. What about the Mexican Federales? Never once seen a story about them. It's always the damned sheriff.  What about the local Indian chief? I had one once. [There's one in my new forthcoming novella Fallen Angel]. 

The dullards are wining the race to mediocrity. 

Speaking of mediocrity.  Westworld, in my opinion, is just about the most bizarre TV series I've ever seen.  It has Even Rachel Wood, who is the hottest woman I've ever seen, so that certainly makes me hate it less, but it's a strange one.

At least I didn't get any stories with aliens in caves for some inexplicable reason. Thank heaven for small miracles.  I'll get off my soapbox now.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Ground Hog Day

Yay! It is Ground Hog Day.  I sure wish the government would cancel some other holiday and close the banks and post offices for Ground Hog Day.  It's my favorite holiday.  And to celebrate it I always have sausage.  Sausage? Yep, sausage is made out of ground hog.

As Linus sits in the pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin whilst being ridiculed by his friends, I tirelessly advocate revamping this obscure holiday by making it more festive with the consumption of sausage,  What kind of sausage? Any pork sausage will do. Turkey sausage is out because it's not made out of ground hog. Simple enough.  I once wrote to that company that makes Jimmy Dean sausage to try and get them behind the celebration. I never heard back from them. They probably thought I was some sort of kook. 

Eat sausage. It's Ground Hog Day!

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Two Devils

Way back when, my first foray into writing weird western books was a book called The Two Devils.   There are a limited number of print copies of the original book available through Hadrosaur Productions at . And they're on sale for $7.50 each.  This is the first look at the angel Mabel, and a few other angels, which I mentioned in yesterday's posting.  This is a very good deal while supplies last. This book is out of print, so new copies of it are getting hard to find.  This is one heck of a deal. Get yourself primed for the release of Fallen Angel.  The Denver Post called this book "irresistible as a bowl of popcorn."

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Am I crazy?

I probably am crazy, but, I'm specifically referring to my penchant for novellas.  I published The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung  in a double book that also had a novella from Laura Givens. The book had an overriding title of Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.  That story was set in the same world much of my other weird westerns are in, 1880s California.  Ling Fung manages to get rid of perennial villain Ah Puch, something Miles O'Malley never was able to do.  

Which brings us to my about to debut Fallen Angel, another novella.  Again set in 1880s California featuring the recurring angel Mabel. This is her story, although Miles O'Malley and his horse, Paul, do participate.  Before we get to the 1880s, the story actually starts out during the Civil War where Mabel is working as  a photographer. It wasn't all that unusual for women to take up photography. There was plenty of imagery as men blew each other's brains out in record numbers. Women weren't as likely to be viewed as spies as a male photographer and were by and large left alone to ply their craft.

My point is, even though novellas have fallen from favor, and few are published, they actually can offer a lot of story for their more diminutive size compared to a novel.  As an author, I find this size allows more depth than a short story but doesn't bog down with extemporaneous detail the way novels often can. So, if you see an interesting novella, give it a try whether it's mine or someone else's.  Some very good novellas are White Fang by Jack London and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You might have heard of these.  

Oh, I have another novella.  It's not a weird western, but a horror tale.  And it's actually being considered by a major New York publisher.  Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019


Got the cover art for my new novella Fallen Angel.  I am not sure if I can show it yet.  I expect the book to be released by March.  It's a story set mostly in the 1800s featuring my Miles O'Malley character and his friend Mabel. Mabel is a fallen angel who is supposed to be in hell, but spends most of her time wandering around the Wild West.  Now Mabel is a real hoot.  She's fun, playful, yet we tend to forget she is not human, And those angels powers are prominent when the Martians come calling.  

I'll post order information when it's officially announced.  I know the publisher hopes to have copies available for Wild Wild West Con in early March, for all those Arizona readers of this blog--both of you. Ha. 

If you like strong female characters then I think you'll like Mabel, maybe you'll like the little green men from Mars.  Emphasis: These are Martians, they're not plain old aliens from some distant star. They've been watching Earth and they are ready to act. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Across the pond

Once upon a time Queen Victoria was in her drawing room hoping no one would come by to bother her. Her luck ran out. "Sir David to see you, your majesty."

"Oh damn," I mean send him in. "How did he get back from America so fast?"

"Your Majesty," sir David said as he bowed. "I have returned from America."

"I can see that, as you are here."

"I was hoping you were making preparations for Ground Hog Day. It does not appear that anything is being made ready," Sir David said.

"About that. Well, we decided to skip Ground Hog Day this year. It's, well it's sort of an American thing," she explained.

"But, does thou not like sausage?"

"Well, British sausage isn't all that good. Ever eat bangers?"

"Ugh. I see your point," he agreed.

"So, go forth, back to America, and, uh, stay over there," she commanded. "Tell them all about your plans for Ground Hog Day.  You can send me a post card."

"Yes, your majesty."  So Sir David set forth to tell America, once again, about his idea of spicing up Ground Hog Day by serving sausage, as it is made out of ground hog.

Queen Victoria never ate sausage again.  And she always seemed to develop a headache in early February for some reason, much to the dismay of her husband, Prince Albert.

The End

Monday, January 28, 2019

What an odd concept?

One of my stranger quirks is an odd fascination with Ground Hog Day.  As far back as I can remember, I couldn't wait to find out if the ground hog saw his shadow. When I was in that preschool age, my mother liked to listen to the radio in the morning. Unlike TV, you can listen to it whilst doing other tasks such as preparing your children's breakfast. So, as soon as I got up, I'd hunt down mom and ask if the groundhog saw his shadow.  And he usually had.  

For some reason, people confuse hedgehogs with groundhogs.  I never did.  Hedgehogs live in England and do not burrow underground. They are immortalized by the Monty Python sketch about the gangster Dinsdale Piranha who was forever being hunted by a giant hedgehog.  Alas, ground hogs are not that big and don't know anyone named Dinsdale.

But we don't celebrate Ground Hog Day the way we do other great holidays like Halloween or Valentine's Day.  I also discovered that girls liked Valentines Day, but weren't too wild about Ground Hog Day. So, to change that I came up with the concept of eating sausage on Ground Hog Day.  Why sausage?  Because sausage is made out of GROUND HOG! Get it?  My brother once told me I should eat Ground Hogs instead of sausage.  Yuk.  I like sausage better.  So, I've devoted my time trying to persuade people to eat sausage every February 2 in honor of our furry fuzzy burrowing friends who can predict the weather.  It has not been easy. I equate it much ;like Linus, Charlie Brown's only friend. Linus spends Halloween sitting in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. At least I don't have to sit in a pumpkin  patch. All I have to do is try and get people to eat sausage.  I even once wrote to the Jimmy Dean people--the ones who make sausage, not the dead singer, trying to get them on board. I never heard from them. They may have thought I was some sort of kook. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019


Well, postage rates go up today.  Not much to say. They are what they are.  I pay most of my bills online these days. Most folks do.  I have some need to send stuff to other countries--and those rates are really high.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Little Gray Men

In reading stories for Science Fiction Trails, I got three stories yesterday about aliens.  I haven't seen many of these in a while.  Things seem to run in cycles.  I rejected one, not because it was bad so much as it was kind of a tired idea. I accepted one. The third story, I am going to take a second look at it in a few days.  The past few years had seen a lot of alternate universe type stories. Haven't seen much of that in this reading cycle.  You never know.

I co-wrote my own alien story, although I haven't decided if I'll put it in SFT.  I don't like to use my own work. It is rare for me to work with another writer.  This story kind of clicked into place. I've edited with other editors quite a few times, but I have rarely tried to co-write something.  The reading period ends in a few days.     And then we'll have to get the artist to conjure up a cover. and that's how you make a fiction magazine. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

From the grave

I edited a horror anthology a while back.  It was to be called Hotel Haunted.   It was all set to go last year, then the publisher just kind of dropped off the planet.  I'd actually written it off as a dead project, so I was quite surprised to finally hear from the publisher that the book was a go.  

This book was rough to put together--we had an awful time getting stories.  It's shorter than I'd like, but I feel the content is quite good.  When it releases I'll list more information about it.  You may never want to check into a hotel again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Well, I don't really know much about the Academy Award nominated movies. I only went to one movie last year--just one.  I don't dislike going to movies, but I felt none of the movies out there were anything I was interested in.  So, needless to say, I don't care what wins.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Crazy Old Man

It's quite something to have a really elderly parent. By really elderly, I mean above 90.  My dad thinks he should be driving. He shouldn't.  I know eventually he'll be one of those old codgers who drives into a 7 Eleven and there he'll be on the evening news. Either that, or I'll get a call from the Mexican government: "Your father is here and we do not want him." [Mexican border is 70 miles away] That sort of thing. And I keep having this fantasy of his being taken away by space aliens.  I know the chances of that are slim, but if the aliens out there are looking for somebody to abduct, well let me know and I'll have him packed and ready.  

They say one of the places space aliens come from is Vega.  Well, I'm sure Vega is nice this time of year. And it would give pop a chance to get out of the house and make some new friends...

Monday, January 21, 2019


July 3, 2027.. Melvin J. Kidde was thrilled to receive his long awaited paycheck from the government shutdown.  Of course, he'd long emigrated to Iceland and had no idea how to cash it as the American dollar was now considered worthless..  [Melvin J. Kidde is a made up name].

Sunday, January 20, 2019


I had a problem with birds sitting on my car pooping on it.  I do not have a garage, only a carport. To stop this, I got a rubber snake--a Black Mamba.  I figured they'd see the snake, realizing it's the deadliest snake in Africa, and take off. If I was a bird I sure wouldn't mess with it. And they are no longing loitering on my car.  Alas, they're now hanging over my roof pooping on my air conditioner (which is in the back yard).

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Do we need a doctor?

I mentioned a while back that I was undecided on the new Doctor Who.  Frankly, I sort of liked her, although something bothered me about the new show.  When I watched the New Year's Spacial, which I liked, I realized what I didn't like.  It's her crew--her travelling companions.  I don't like any of them.

Now, historically, the doctor has traveled with a female companion.  There have been many exceptions. Matt Smith traveled with a couple--Amy and Rory for quite a while.  I didn't like Rory, either.  

I guess, now that the doctor has had a sex change, traveling with a lone female might be viewed as strange.  I don't know.  I've said before she should get a dog--preferably a golden retriever.  As far as traveling companions, I'd be happy to travel with her.  I don't really like any of the whiny sniveling companions she has now and they should all go home.  I did like the older black lady, but they killed her off.  So much for what I think.

Maybe she should wander around by herself for a while. Maybe go to beaches in a skimpy bathing suit and play Frisbee with her new dog.  I'd like that. And she could un-jam the sod machine with her sonic screwdriver. That would be awesome. And she could give dog treats to her dog. Even more awesome.

One last thought: They got rid of Unit due to budget cuts.  I thought that was kind of clever, actually.

And that's my take on the new doctor, after a whole season went by. Of, course these BBC seasons are fairly short.

Friday, January 18, 2019


I last got rid of stuff when I moved to AZ from Colorado.  I gave a lot of stuff to the local nonprofit thrift store.  Yesterday I decided to move some of my stuff from one closet I don't use to another closet that I don't use--after all I couldn't possibly have much stuff. Hah. I had a huge amount of stuff in there.  I don't know where it comes from.  Good thing I moved it.  Now all that stuff is in a closet I don't use.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Sauce Packets

How many sauce packets are clogging our landfills? I refer to those little foil packs that they give you at fast food establishments.  I got some burritos yesterday and they gave me ten packets of hot sauce. I only bought two burritos.  I only used two packets. Why do they give you so many?

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

It's Spirits

Yesterday, my car was making a sort of thunking sound. I couldn't figure out what it was, but the check engine light was on.  I took it to the place I usually get my car worked on. Naturally, the check engine light had gone out. And the mechanic could not find anything wrong and certainly no thunking sound.  Maybe it's evil spirits.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


You just don't see a lot of people wandering around in capes. So why do super heroes wear them?  It does not seem to help Superman control his flying. Batman doesn't even fly.  I should get a cape and place a big orange "D" on it and wander around. But people would laugh at me.  That's why I always liked the Green Hornet.  He wore a nice suit.   I always wanted to write a story: The Green Hornet versus the Frito Bandito.  I never did--probably because I don't have the rights to either character.  The Frito Bandito, he didn't wear a cape either. I wish Fritos would bring him back.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Flashlight and lanterns

Two nights ago we had a power failure.  It lasted nearly three hours.  There's just not much you can do, sitting in the dark.  TV, Internet all require power.  My battery operated radio didn't work--it's been years since I used it.  So, I sat in the dark, save for a small emergency lamp, and finally drifted off to sleep.  

The funny part was when the power went out. I was watching this movie.  The goons from the government were after these people  They'd heard noises outside the house, then my power went out. For a brief moment I thought the bad guys were outside and they'd cut my power.  Now, that is good storytelling.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Horrible plants

They say crabgrass rule the world.  I don't know who "they" are, but "they" are right.  You don't see crabgrass on postcards from Tucson--you see cactus. This winter, it's not cactus trying to take over my yard--it's crabgrass.  There stuff thrives on our mild winters.  I've tried chemicals to minimal effect. I spent yesterday out in the yard burning them with propane, which works better than pulling them up and is easier on the backbone.  I wish the people who build robots would come out with one that pulls crabgrass. I'd buy one.  They've got robots for other stuff like moping floors.  Or a drone that zaps crabgrass with a laser--that would be something.  Damn horrible plants.

Friday, January 11, 2019


Took the crazy old man to the doctor yesterday.  Whilst I was sitting in the waiting room I noticed everyone but me was reading a book.  And these were not ebooks--they were all print books.  Maybe there is some faint glimmer of hope for the world after all. [probably not].

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Saucers 2

Caught the new TV show Project Blue Book     Was not very impressed. I harkin it to kind of a boring version of the X-Files.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


Nothing seems to put people off more than talking about flying saucers.  Not me, I love talking about them. But normal folks.  If I go up to someone and say "Hey, I just saw a flying saucer," that person will likely move away from me. 

So, in fiction, I also sense a discomfort in dealing with flying saucers.  I await the cover of my new novella with dread and trepidation.  The story contains Martian spheres (flying spheres).  This is inspired by a reported UFO seen over the   Civil War battle of Vicksburg.    But will the cover have a saucer on it or merely a little green man ? That is the question.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Have Gun, Will Travel

There's a western steampunk convention coming up in early March here in Tucson.  I went last year, but did not go in costume.  I've noticed with the few steampunk conventions I've attended that a lot of folks put a lot of effort into developing their steampunk persona. Well, I mentioned this is a western steampunk. I already have an authentic duster and a Stetson cowboy hat.  I recently obtained a replica badge from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  The dusters were worn by some of their detectives who were assigned to go after train robbers for the railroads.  Anyway, what I lack is a weapon.  You can't use real weapons at these cons--and they do check you.  A toy gun like a revolver seems lacking even though my persona will lack the traditional goggles of most steampunk costumes.  

So, I glued some metal ball bearings and stuff to a "sawed off" shotgun.  It's clear, after it dried, that this is a really stupid looking gun. Back to the drawing board. At least I still have about two months to come up with something else.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Have pen, will edit

The problem with editors is any hack can call himself an editor and blunder along destroying manuscripts on a colossal scale with scarce intervention. Heck, I'm also an editor, as if that should prove my point. A few days ago I got back a manuscript I'd submitted for an anthology.  It looked like someone had been murdered and bled all over my manuscript--excepting it was all on a computer screen. Nonetheless, the editor changes were all there in red and it reminded me of when these things were actually done on paper.  And, in addition to endless nitpicking changes, he demanded an entirely different ending that made no sense to me.  I was left with the impression the editor was trying to re-write the story the way he would have told it. 

Now, this editor is about half as good as he thinks is, in my opinion.  But he convinced a publisher that they should give him an editor contract and that's that. I mentioned nitpicking.  How's this? He insisted on changing poop to shit in quoted dialogue. They're synonyms.  Frankly, in mixed company in the 1880s [that means ladies present] I don't think a man would use the word "Shit."  And so it went on with one pointless change after another, with my characters now saying stuff that I felt was bizarre.  These were my franchise characters--Miles O'Malley and Mabel.  I know what they'd say in my sleep.  But now Mabel's talking differently and so on.

So, here's what I don't understand.  Why the editor wasted his time changing everything.  I cannot fathom why he did not simply reject the story and save himself the trouble. He should have known I would immediately withdraw the story and would never make the requested changes.  And that is exactly what I did.

I don't mean to imply all editors are twits, just that sometimes you end up with one.  Case in point, my new novella that's coming out soon, Fallen Angel.  It also has Miles and Mabel in it. It's also set in the 1880s. Here, the editor pointed out a few flaws that had not occurred to me. I readily agreed to the minimal changes proposed and was quite happy with the editing that left me with a stronger story. 

In summation: I'm surprised more writers don't commit suicide, although many of us do. I'm also surprised more editors aren't gunned down in a stairwell as they come home from the reptile farm where they were visiting relatives.  Writing is a tough business.


I've been slacking on yard work lately.  Well, the holidays and cold weather have just left me not wanting to do it.  Now I've got crab grass taking over the front yard. It is amazing how fast this stuff grows.  Time to get out the weed burner and fry those horrible plants.

Sunday, January 6, 2019


Got a nice rain last night.  Our plant friends can sure use the moisture.  The problem with living in the desert is the next rain may not come for some time.  So you have to enjoy it while you can. 

Saturday, January 5, 2019

E Plurbus Unum

Madame speaker, I rise today to remark at how many nice ladies have arrived here for the new session of Congress.

Mister Trump, you are not a member of Congress. Please leave the chamber.

But they're hot looking.

Will the Sergeant st Arms remove this man?

Friday, January 4, 2019

Turkey chili

I fixed turkey chili last night. It was pretty good.  I find ground turkey works nicely in things like enchiladas and chili and in some Chinese dishes.  However, I can't say as I care for it straight up--like in a burger.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Who needs a Doctor?

I've talked about this before, but to those of you new to this blog I'll refresh. I came to dislike the British SF show Dr. Who.  I loved the Matt Smith portrayal of the Doctor, but I never cared much for his replacement, Peter Capaldi..  Add to that I thought the stories were preposterous even by British SF standards. So I quit watching it.

And then, low and behold, we have another Doctor now and I thought I'd check it out.  More or less, it's not that bad. The new series wasn't half bad. They just did a New Year's special which was a sort of different look at an old nemesis the Doctor had to contend with.  Jodie Whittaker isn't bad as the doctor although I can't always understand her.  Otherwise, I'm not complaining.

I've said before, I think she should get a dog.  A dog would be more interesting to me than the travelling companions she now has.  Otherwise, I don't have any serious complaints.  People can binge the last season on the BBC channel, supposedly.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019


One byproduct of writing is editing. If you write something for publication you will eventually come across an editor. Some are good, some are not. The editor who just did my new novella is pretty good. He pointed a few passages that could be stronger and spotted a historical inaccuracy that was easily fixed. I also just had an unpleasant dealing with an editor.  He seemed to want to re-write my story into the way he would tell it. Since no contract had been signed I ended up withdrawing the story.

Ask any writer who's been doing this a while and he'll tell you about that editor from hell. It seems to be unavoidable.