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.