Sunday, June 30, 2019


Nicknames aren't as popular as they once were. Well, at lease that's how it seems to me.  I never really had a nickname growing up.  I was Dave, even though I preferred David, I was ALWAYS Dave.  When I reached adulthood, I became DAVID most of the time, but neither affliction is a real nickname.  Curly is an inevitable nickname for some bald guy.  

One place I worked at for a while was a commercial laundry in Wyoming.  A few people came there with existing nicknames. We had one guy called Tex.  That wasn't his real name.  Then we had this guy who was rather obnoxious and nobody liked.  I started referring to him as butt wipe.  In a very short time, the whole place were calling him butt wipe. It stuck like glue.  He complained to personnel that everyone was calling him butt wipe, to no avail. Personnel simply couldn't get it stopped.  And they weren't sure where it started from.  I was called into the personnel manager's office and I denied everything and swore I'd never personally called him butt wipe. The guy quit and left and that was the end of butt wipe.  Is butt wipe a proper noun? Maybe it should be Butt Wipe.

What reminded me of butt wipe was a trip to a restaurant yesterday.  I was sitting in the counter and the cook asked the dishwasher "Where the hell is that butt wipe?"  Well, I'd love to be a fly [or more likely cockroach[ on the wall of that kitchen.  Ah, the fact that butt wipe still exists as a derogatory nickname made me smile. A name I created [maybe] is still in the archives of names like stinky. I was so happy.  

Saturday, June 29, 2019


One of my favorite shows is Alone.  That's the show where they dump you off in the Arctic and just wait until you go insane.  I've been thinking. It would be fun to do something like Alone, but with special effects to really mess with the survivors. Like  have a Bigfoot walk through their camp, a visit from space aliens--that sort of thing.  You could really mess with these people. Plant a dead body on the trail, then have it disappear.  That sort of thing.

Friday, June 28, 2019


Still haven't resolved the hit and run accident I had last month, but things are looking up.  In Arizona they don't make it easy to get the information about the other driver. Privacy, they call it.  You have to get a police report.  That took two weeks before they released it. Then you fill out some form and have to have your signature notarized. Then you mail the form to Phoenix.  Then in a couple of  weeks they finally send you back the information about who owns the other car and if there was any insurance.  Frankly, this is ridiculous to make victims have to go through this.  

Now, I have an older car and only had liability coverage. If I had collision coverage and had filed a claim through MY insurance company this production would not have been necessary.  So, there actually was insurance on the other car that hit me, making one wonder why it was a hit and run. I then contacted said insurance company and filed a claim.  After a week, they finally got back to me and took my statement and wanted pictures of the damage.  Not remarkable claim service, but at least I didn't have to go to court over the accident.

Oh, in case you're wondering, as for the hit and run. That's a crime.  Alas, when the sheriff's department gave me a photo lineup, I  could not identify the other driver.  I don't know if that was because someone besides the owner was driving or I simply couldn't identify her from the rather crummy pictures they showed me.  But no charges were filed as I could not identify anyone.

Coincidentally, today is National Insurance Awareness Day.  What better way to celebrate than download a copy of Bonded Agent, and read about her adventures as an insurance adjuster. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019


One of the little requirements about my community is you are required to have a yard light and said yard light must have an arm that displays your street address.  This is for safety, so the men coming to kill you will find the right address and not attack some innocent bystander.  My yard light quit working about a month ago. Try as I might, I can't figure out what's wrong with it and don't really want to pay some and to come out.  So, my solution was to pitch the old bulb and buy a solar light and drop that into the place where the old light bulb went. Voila, I got a yard light that works. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Trash Cans

You'd think taking the trash out is something folks could do without messing it up. Well, not in my neighborhood.  Actually, it's more the recycling cans.  They move. On their own.  The ones our trash company provides have wheels.  On a windy day, they tend to take off and go for a ride around the neighborhood.  This is caused because people will put out their recycling even if they only have two beer cans.  There's little weight in these cans, so off they go.  Last week I came home and a can was out in front of my driveway. Thing is, it wasn't my can. I don't put out recycling until the can is relatively full. But there was this can from some neighbor.  Not knowing which house it belonged to, I did what anyone would do in such a situation--I rolled it so that it was in front of the house next door.  It sat there on the curb for two days. I guess, at some point, somebody realized they were short a can and went in search of it because it finally went away, hopefully back home where it will be loved and nurtured like all good recycling cans are.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Took my father to the dermatologist yesterday.  He has problems finding places in this town, which is really spread out.  Alas, he had a spot he was worried about. It wasn't skin cancer. The problem is, AZ is a high skin cancer area and they warn people to have suspicious spots and moles checked, then they go in and "Ah, that's nothing."  Better safe than sorry. He was worrying about it, so I told him to go and get it checked and drove him to his appointment.  

Monday, June 24, 2019

Moving in; moving out

Well, had some neighbors move out yesterday. They were only there for a month. I hardly knew 'em. This is a rental home and people really come and go there.  I don't know if the place is haunted or why, but no one stays there for more than a month or two. I think moving is a lot of work and I don't see moving into a house for such a short term as making any sense. Yet I'm sure some new tenant will move in in a few days and they'll be gone lickety-split.  

Sunday, June 23, 2019

shower curtain

Okay, you're probably confused and bewildered.  The Shower Curtain Cover  was not my name for it, I showed the cover I rejected for Dry Gulch to a few folks.  Some of them though it looked like two lawmen looking at a shower cover.  I tend to agree.  I can't really show it to the general population,  I don't attack artists except in the case of fraud or criminal dealings and a bad cover does not meet that threshold. But, that cover will be forever known as the Shower Curtain Cover.  

So, I re assigned the cover for Dry Gulch to another artist.  I'll mention that artist after I accept the cover.  We'll see how this ends, but I hope it ends good.  Stay tuned. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

suddenly, summer

Usually, in Tucson you know it's summer long before the season arrives.  This has been an extremely mild Spring.  We've only had a couple of days over 100 degrees. In these parts, that is quite unusual. So the official start of Summer hath come and gone, scarcely noticed.  

Friday, June 21, 2019

Art art

Had a chat with another writer yesterday on the subject of weird western cover art.  I was lamenting my problems that I got a total mess and was wondering if the artist was spending too much time at the marijuana dispensary.  Well, he thinks the situation is that weird westerns are getting such crummy art because most of them are self published and the people won't spend any money to hire an artist. There may be something to that--as two books I was asked to review both had black and white clip art covers.  

Alas, that does not make folks want to but a book.  It reminds me of an art panel I was on at a con last year and the guy next to me was so proud they only spent a few dollars on cover art by using some stock photo agency.  I wanted to say, "And they look like it," but didn't.  

A good cover can really help sales, a  bad cover can doom what's probably already a project that's unlikely to succeed.  Self published books tend to be poorly edited.  Ad crummy art and you've got a real turkey on your hands.

That said, my dilemma was this was a pro artist who sent me something that was simply baffling. There was supposed to be a ghost; it looked more like someone hung a shower curtain on a porch. Sigh. No ghosts tonight.   

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Art Who?

Life goes on.  Even though Science Fiction Trails is finito, a few book projects continue. It's in my role as publisher and de facto art director that I find my greatest sources of frustration.  Working with flaky writers is nothing even close to dealing with artists.  Half the time you give out an assignment, they agree to terms and you never hear from them again.  The other half of the time you get something back that looks like it came from a sixth grade art class.  Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover the nightmare of working with artists.  One of these days I'm going to write a story about some art director who goes around some art academy killing all the students.  It's just a fantasy I have. Well, I've decided the cover I just got wouldn't hold muster for a sixth grade art class--if they actually still had art in the sixth grade.  And we'll try again with another artist.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Adios Amigos

Although this is my personal blog and the following is  posted on the Science Fiction Trails Blog,  I am duplicating it here as well.  I'm surprised we lasted as long as we did.  It's been obvious for some time readers weren't buying what we were selling.  I am still proud of what we published. There are few small magazines that came close to the quality and diversity of stories we published.

June 19, 2019
For Immediate Release

Science Fiction Trails Magazine has announced that it has ceased publication. The last issue for this annual fiction magazine was number 14, which published in April of 2019.  The magazine focused on science fiction weird western stories.

“Due to a huge drop in sales in our last two issues, we have decided we can no longer continue the magazine,” Managing Editor David B. Riley said, explaining the decision. “Up until recently, we always managed to sell enough copies to cover the cost of publishing an issue, but the last two issues have not even been close,” Riley said.  Copies of recent issues remain on sale through online bookstores.  “The magazine was created because there are very few publishing opportunities for the science fiction weird western, with most weird western anthologies concentrating on horror theme products,” according to Riley.   “While we’ve seen a drop in author submissions, we always managed to put an issue out, but the drop in sales is something we cannot recover from.”

This announcement does not affect Science Fiction Trails Books.  Tales From Dry Gulch, our 11th anthology will be released in September 2019.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

passing money

Back when I lived in Colorado and was working in the hotel biz I once got a five dollar tip from a guest. I didn't get tips very often as i wasn't really in a tipped position, so these events were few and far between.  The thing was, there was something odd about the five one dollar bills the guy gave me. Frankly, I suspected they might be counterfeit.  I put the money in the front desk bank and took out a fiver. In effect, I was passing counterfeit money on a small scale [maybe].  Well, I felt bad about this. The next day I retrieved my funny money from the bank and returned the fiver. So, my next day off I went to the bank and told the bank that I was afraid I'd gotten counterfeit money.  Well, the teller looked at it, then went and got the bank manager. She looked at it as well. Then she came over to me and told me these bills had a rough life and had gotten wet but she believed they were real and thanked me for my concern..

She offered my a new fiver and I took it and that's the last I saw of the funny money.  I guess I'm not a good paperhanger. 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Abandon Ship!

Writing is a horrible profession.  By that, I am  not talking about horrible writing. I am talking about the business side of writing--getting stuff published, getting paid, that sort of thing.  Well over a year ago I edited a horror anthology for a small, two-bit publisher in Colorado Springs..  Well, the book never came out, folks never got their token payments, and months went by as the publisher complained she was too depressed to do anything.  It became obvious that this book was going nowhere.  But, the contract gave the publisher until January of this year to bring out the book. Of course that never happened.  I saw an opportunity for the writers to get out of this deal and urged them to withdraw their stories.  They didn't. The publisher did cough up the token payments to everyone.

Case closed? Hardly.  You would think if the editor of an anthology was contacting a writer and urging that writer to get out while you can and withdraw your story, the writer would have enough sense to say "Hey, maybe I should do that."  Well, apparently not.  Now the January deadline to bring out the book has long since passed and there is no sign of the book. I doubt it will ever be published and this publisher is simply wasting everyone's time.  In my case, I made very little editing this book and it's not going to affect me very much.  For people just starting out as writers, that's a different story. This book had a few seasoned pros and some novice writers in it.  While I still would prefer that it was released, I'm also so damned sick of this project that I've written it off..  

So, what do you do when this happens?  I tried to warn people to get out. I saw this coming. I did all I could,  But I'm not the publisher.  The publisher controls the rights to this book.  There is only so much I can do.  I could contact the grievance committee of a writing organization such as SFWA or HWA and ask for help getting the rights released. But, hell, that opportunity was available once and they wouldn't take it.  So I'll do nothing.  Being an editor isn't the glamour job folks think it is.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

phast phood

There's a large fast food restaurant near my house. It's the only one.  If you want something right away, they're it.  The other places are around 10 miles away or more.  Nonetheless every time I go there I regret it.  The food is awful and the experience is so bad I swear I'll never go back.  It wasn't always that way.  As a youth I had fond memories of them, but that was then.

We're getting a Dairy Queen in the neighborhood.  Is that an improvement?  It's been years since I've gone to a Dairy Queen.  My guess is I'll remain unhappy and disappointed, just with two choices instead of one.  

Friday, June 14, 2019

That Weird Western Guy

I didn't  used to consider myself a weird western guy. I wrote in science fiction, sometimes horror and some weird westerns. Well, when I moved to Arizona a couple of years ago, I've pretty much been all weird western.  When I got to cons I tend to try and do weird western panels and presentations.  But, whilst I am a weird western guy, a recent review of Legends of the Dragon Cowboys got me thinking.  The reviewer said these are not your typical monster bashing weird westerns--true.

As I've said before, there's a bunch of editors and writers who think all weird westerns must be dark horror.  Other weird western writers  and editors think anything set in the west that has horror, or science fiction content is fine.  But, by quantity, there were a few years between 2005 to 2015 when almost everything was dark fiction.  Now, the dark fiction is somewhat tapering off and the science fiction weird western has renewed strength.  I think Cowboys & Aliens started this tend, but it's around in other places. Even one of the later Matt Smith Doctor Who episodes was a true SF weird westerns ["Mercy"].  David Boop's trilogy Straight Outta series are the multi genre variety.  And so are my recent novellas.

What really signaled the change to me was editing Tales From Dry Gulch.  No monsters, and very little of that formula. I got some very creative stories and some were ghost stories and some were science fiction.  None of them were the ultra dark fiction that tried to crowd the science fiction weird western from the planet.  I have no idea if the pendulum will swing back the other way. I do wish more folks would buy these books.  They're good stories.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Car phantoms

Cars have these annoying check engine lights which are linked to a small on-board computer.  Mine keeps coming on, then before I can get it into the shop to have them check it, it goes back off. and the code in the computer only lasts a short time. So, the mechanic isn't sure what's setting off the thing, although he suspects it's a bad sensor.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Sold a book to a major NY publisher.  I think it's bad luck to talk about publishing stuff ahead of time.  More info later. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

father's day

Been trying to figure out what to do with the crazy old man for Father's Day.  It seems unlikely the space aliens are going to abduct him before Father's Day.  My brother is leaning toward buying him a sprinkler. Yep, the kind you water the yard with. He has one now--refuses to use it. He'd rather stand out in the yard with the hose, yet he complains about how tiresome it is.  I guess buying him another sprinkler is the way to go. Then he'll have two sprinklers he never uses.

Monday, June 10, 2019

innovative storytelling or jumping off a cliff

I've edited various anthologies over the years. Most of these anthologies have been western horror stories. The one under construction now is Tales From Dry Gulch.  This one's quite different than what I've done before. How so?  Well, for starters, there's amazingly little gun play.  Westerns have bullets flying everywhere--but not in Dry Gulch.  There's as much science fiction content as there is horror.  The horror is mostly in the ghost story range.   Overall, the stories have a lighter, friendlier tone than I was expecting.  They're a sort of Mayberry on the Wild West.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 9, 2019


Well, so much for our mild Spring. We're supposed to go over 100 degrees today.  Ah, Arizona.  But it is a "dry" heat as they say.  I bought a  new cactus and planted it in my front yard.  It's not real big, but it was on sale.  The pine tree died.  It just could not take the heat.  One thing about cactus is this is where they evolved and they're adapted to this climate.  Still, it's hard to get things to grow in my yard.. 

Up north [northern Arizona], they try and get Colorado Blue Spruce trees to grow.  Most of them die.  They just need more water than they get in this state. Up in Colorado they get  a lot more snow and they just don't survive this far south. People like them as they're pretty trees..  But armor plated thorny things like cactus seem to fare better in this area.

Saturday, June 8, 2019


I wonder, do white trash families realize they're white trash?

Friday, June 7, 2019


Now that it's getting warmer bugs are getting more active.  I've got all sorts of bugs on the windshield.  I'm not really sure what some of them are.  Here in Tucson we don't seem to have the mustard bugs we had in Colorado.  What's a mustard bug?  They're these little yellow flying bugs that smash into your car and it looks like you got pelted with packets of mustard. Don't know the official name for them. So convincing are they, I was dating a woman back about 10 years ago and I actually convinced her that was where mustard came from--mustard bugs. Yep.  Mustard actually comes from a little yellow flower that grows a number of places and is particularly common in Canada.  

Thursday, June 6, 2019


After an unusually cool Spring, we're supposed to run up over 100 degrees this weekend and may be well above that this time next week.  Summer has arrived.  Now some folks don't like it when it gets this hot. I don't really mind.  I do feel sorry for dogs as the hot pavement burns their paws.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

moter veehickles

Went to the motor vehicle department yesterday. Let's just say it involved the recent hit and run. The people working there must get special training. I have never seen any other place where everyone who works there is an asshole and absolutely nobody is interested in helping anyone.  That seems to be the case in other states as well.  I wish I knew how they have such consistent quality control. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


Things aren't going well in recycling.  They've sharply cut back what we're allowed to recycle where I live as there is no market for a lot of the stuff.  I figure we may not have any recycling before long. I hate filling up the landfill with stuff that could be recycled, but that seems to be the future.

Monday, June 3, 2019

solar power

My front yard light quit working.  I decided, rather than repair it I'd spend the vast sum of $5 and buy a solar light.  Our homeowners association requires we have a yard light.  So, after a week I've decided it's not quite as bright as the old electric bulb but it meets the requirements and I think I'll keep it.  These solar yard lights are much improved over the ones a few years ago.  They're brighter and more reliable.  I'm pretty darn impressed.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Dry Gulch

I've edited a lot of anthologies over the years; most in the weird western category, a few more traditional horror and some science fiction.  Some have been well submitted, some have gone begging for stories and had to be cancelled.  That may be why some writers are reticent to submit to an original story anthology--who wants to go to the work and have it get cancelled.  And maybe the writing world just hates me.  It is clear that, more often than not, I have struggled to fill most of these projects.

That was kind of the deal with Tales From Dry Gulch, which just  finished it's reading cycle. Once again, I would have liked to have had a few more stories. Still, I have enough to make a good book. And I was amazed at how well the stories fit. It is so nice to see stuff where the writer actually read the guidelines.  These stories fit together amazingly well, even though they're over a wide range of types with ghost stories and little green men represented.  And, what became an amazing thread was "What the heck is zinc?" kept turning up about the town's zinc mine. 

So, the book will be edited, laid out and a cover designed for it. And later this year it will be released and we'll see if folks will buy it.