Saturday, September 19, 2020

readings

 Well, I got this great idea to get the authors of our new anthology Six Guns Straight From Hell 3 to do readings and we'd post them on the internet. Ha. We have one that's up but no one can find it and another that's up but no one can access it.  My computer seems to have no sound and I have been unable to do one at all.  Disaster.  I just wanted a  nice easy way to promote the book. That sure has not happened. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

takeout

 Because what few restaurants are open are running at 30% or so, takeout remains a part of the world of food.  What I'm getting tired of is the incompetent idiots taking orders.  This is so different than the tip=based world of eating in a restaurant. A good waiter will get my order right or pay dearly for it at checkout. But there are few tips in to go orders and the people handling these clearly do not give a crap. I tried to order supper last night and came to the conclusion the order taker was so stoned it was hopeless. I just walked out. And drive throughs are even worse.  You ask for a taco and they type in Sprite and won't clear it out.  You must've ordered a Sprite because that's what it says.  


Stay home and cook seems the only solution.  My boycott list of restaurants is getting so long it's darn near all of them.



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Readings

 When you put out a new book, one way to promote it was the author would go around and do readings at various venues and radio stations and such.  Well, a lot of these venues, like small bookstores, remain closed.  This created a problem when we released Six Guns Straight From Hell 3.  One thing we thought we'd try was video readings.  So far we have two. One is from Sam Knight  and the other is from Patrick Dorn.    I don't know if this will do much to promote the book.  I haven't recorded one as my computer just lacks  a microphone and is so antiquated I don't think I'd be successful.

This is new territory for us. We'll have to see how it turns out.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Six Guns Straight From Hell 3

 

     
Available September 14, 2020

Six Guns Straight From Hell 3,

Edited by David B. Riley & J. A. Campbell

Saddle up for a wild ride through the weird, weird west. As you ride our trails you’ll want to keep one eye on the path ahead and one over your shoulder cause there’s a bushwhacking monster creeping up behind you.  If your horse gets eaten by a monster, you might be able to get a ride on the midnight train, as long as you don’t mind sitting with ghosts.  If you don’t catch the train, maybe the devil can give you a lift back to town. Just be careful which place you head for, because the folks in one town are about to die.  Staying on ranches ain’t much safer, especially at one girl’s birthday party. Then again, even going to outhouses can be deadly. If you happen to visit the local brothel, be sure and treat the ladies right or you’ll pay dearly. And Tombstone is no place to get your picture taken if you want to keep your skin.

Spine tingling horror and dark fantasy from Sam Knight, David Boop, Joel Jenkins, Matthew Hellman, Patrick Dorn,  C. W. Blackwell, Ross Baxter, John Kiste, Krystal Stittle and more.


Friday, September 11, 2020

Horrible Day

 9/11 is one of those horrible things you remember where you were and what happened and you never forget it. I also remember the  JFK assassination and I was a little kid when that happened. In the case of 9/11 I'd just gotten home from work [yes, I worked nights back then].  I turned on the news and an airplane had just hit the WTC.  I noted it was a clear day and figured that had to be some sort of terrorism. As I was watching this, Wham, a second jet hit the building. Well that kind of removed all doubts.  Anyway, you don't forget these kind of things.  


I don't have anything to add.  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

mailbox

 Even in the digital world, there's still a lot of mail out there.  One thing I can't figure out is why some companies just won't give up. they send me unwanted junk mail constantly and just will not stop. After years of ignoring them, you'd think they'd get the message I'm not interested. But they never do.  One such outfit is a  local health foods store.  They send me their magazine every month.  To my knowledge, I have never set foot in heir store and certainly never signed up for anything. But, there it comes every month.

It's not just small, local businesses either.  Geico won't leave me alone.  They bother me constantly with pitches for insurance.  I am happy with my current insurance company, but don't tell them that. Dish thinks I want their service. I use a competitor and have no wish to change.  You would thing that after four years, which is how long I've been at my current place, they'd figure out I'm not interested. But they just relentlessly keep sending me stuff.

Monday, September 7, 2020

living in an oven

 Normally, the summer temperature starts to ease up around here by September. Not so this weekend. It had been extremely hot.  The climate is screwed up and those who don't care to believe that should understand this: Earth may not sustain life much longer.  Food won't grow and we'll try living underwater and then that will be like being boiled alive and we'll all be dead. That's what is coming.  I'm not usually so gloomy, but I no longer see any other outcome.  

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Covid under every rock

 It seems Covid affects everything I do, one way or another.  It killed my father.  He reached a point where we had to put him in a care facility. He had to be quarantined for 2 weeks, which meant just sitting in his room. With his dementia it was hard to deal with this. He couldn't remember why we couldn't come see him.  And he couldn't take the confinement.  I'm not saying he died of the disease--he died from liver cancer.  I'm just saying the conditions hospital and nursing home patients are being out under is hastening their deaths. I'm certain it did for my father.  He wasn't that bad when he went in. A month later, he was dead.

There aren't any events involving groups.  Not around here, anyway.  My doctor won't actually see patients--only by computer.  And so on.

I wonder how much our society has been altered. Our president says everything is fine and refuses to even be an example and wear a mask.  People have died going to his rallies and he does not seem to care.

The homeless people wear masks as they push their carts and wagons along the sidewalk--god bless them. 


I have a new anthology coming out.  Most bookstores are still closed. Many probably will never reopen. There's no such thing as readings.  Conventions, most are cancelled. A few are trying some sort of online variation. I think with limited success. A few of the writers appearing in Six Guns Straight From Hell 3 are going to do online readings. I do not know if that will help sell books,  We've never tried this before. I'm certainly interested in hos it goes.  We'll see.

Friday, September 4, 2020

snakes in the grass

 Arizona has an abundant supply of snakes--particularly rattlers. In fact, there are 17 rattlesnake species. The most common one is the western diamondback.  I had one in my yard this morning.  It was doing snake stuff. I told it to head on home, before some of my neighbors tried to kill it.

My longstanding policy on wild animals is if you leave them alone they'll leave you alone. It has served me well and I've even lived in two national parks..  So the snake, a fairly small little guy scooted off to do whatever snakes do. The local fire district will relocate them.  Some people try and kill them.  The snake is just being a snake and I just let it go on its way.  Our neighborhood has open desert on two sides. There's nothing to stop them from coming in.  Strangely, this is the first one I have seen in my yard.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Garbage

 In my neighborhood we have one garbage service.  They have a deal with the local homeowners association and that's that.  Now so two miles away where my brother lives.  Their neighborhood is a garbage free-for-all. There are at least three companies they can subscribe to for residential service and another two for commercial service.  So there are garbage trucks all over the place on Wednesdays.  


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Phobia of the month

This month's phobia is purgamentophobia, which  is a fear of garbage.  

Saturday, August 29, 2020

sell, sell, sell

 I am in the process of selling a house. It's amazing how much work goes into it.  This wasn't my residence, but my father's.  After dad passed away my brother and I decided to sell it.  We briefly thought about renting it out, but neither of us wanted to go into property management at this point in our lives. 

The place needed a little work.  A gardening crew performed miracles with the yard and a very good cleaning person made it sparkle.  Now, today, it's on the market and we'll see if anyone wants to buy it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

carpets

 My house has carpet. Over the years I've come to view carpeting as a dirt catcher and nothing more. My brother replaced their carpet with hardwood.  When my dad bought his house it had tile floors throughout.

So, I'll get me a house without carpet, I thought.  I went out looking for places and found none.  I guess I could get minre replaced, but that isn't cheap.  So, I had the carpet cleaned today. It has that dampness still, although they did a nice job.  To be continued. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Weird Westerns

 I'm not all that happy with the local library, which has sharply curtailed services.  Nonetheless, I requested something just out from University of Nebraska Press. It's: 

Weird Westerns

Race, Gender, Genre

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Housing

 I've been looking at various housing places.  I have a perfectly good house, except I don't like it.  But it is not easy to decide if I want to go through the hassles of selling the existing place and moving to a new place.  It's not like I have to move. I just sort of want a nicer place.  That's the nice ting about open houses--you can check a place out and not have to register with some Realtor. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Random thoughts on virtual stuff

 This will go down as the virtual year.  We can't meet in person. The Democratic Convention pushes on. In some ways it's better as there seems less rattling on by blowhard politicians  People seemed to like the little views of the states as they cast their delegate votes.  However, some cons this fall are making the plunge into virtual reality.  I won't be joining them.It just doesn't seem right somehow.  

It's no just that my antiquated computer can't handle this.  Heck my former doctor dumped me as a patient as he was only seeing people over computers.  Sure, it's cheaper to go to Mile Hi Con if you don't have to drive to Denver.  But isn't driving [or flying] half the point?  What will they have but a couple of hours of chit chat on a computer screen and we call it a con now?  I suppose so.

Monday, August 17, 2020

groceries?

 The last two times I've gone grocery shopping I've ordered online and tried to pick up stuff.  It's been really hot and I just thought the convenience might be worth it.  Sadly, both times I got home to find a full third of my order was missing.  I'd put do not substitute in the instructions because of my poor experience with that. Damn.  This was even worse.  So I drove back to the store.  The cookies I didn't get were right there on the shelf. The pasta I wanted--right there. Hell, the canned goods that were not available were right there.  


Whyfore?  I don't know for sure, but my impression is these people pulling the orders are so overworked they have to fly through the stores to  keep up.  Either that or they simply don't give a shit.  Well, I'm not going to waste my time with online shopping nd it is time to switch stores.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Yard

  So, I was surprised to get a letter my home owners association. My front yard seems okay. I've been pretty busy with my dad dying and all.  Yet another complaint about my yard.  Surely they must be mistaken.  Then I looked at the back yard. Yikes.  How can so many weeds grow so fast. I decided to throw in the towel.  I called a local company that does weed control.  I  decided to give up managing them myself. The weeds won.  

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Thanks for sharing that, congressman

 I don’t usually put politics on this blog, preferring to amaze my readers with my wit and such.   Well, this is a different sort of amazement.  Not long after Senator Kamilla Harris was declared the VP running mate, I noted a remarkable comment from a congressman from Mississippi or Alabama that simply astonished me.  He was pointing pout that she isn’t a real Negro because she wasn’t from Africa, but Jamaica.  Apparently, we’re still importing slaves from Africa and that’s only where Negroes come from. Her parents emigrated from Jamaica. I guess that was what he meant. Actually, the senator is from Oakland.  That’s where she was born and that’s where she grew up.  


Bigotry takes many forms.  I found the remark so strange it left me speechless.

Friday, August 14, 2020

green beans

 I sometimes eat at Cracker Barrel. They're one of very few restaurants that has green beans on the menu. I find I rather like fresh green beans.  Beans that are frozen or out of a can just are not the same.  But freshly cooked green beans with just a hint of bacon grease are pretty darn good eats.  


Over the years I have found dogs go nuts for green beans.  There's some kind of bias in thinking that dogs only eat meat. The truth is they're omnivores  much like bears if they were out in the woods fending for themselves.  And dogs go nuts for green beans.  Cook fido some, let them  cool a little, then try it.  By the way, they tend to like other beans, too.  But green beans is a dog's idea of heaven.


Now, over the years, I have come to appreciate that.  I didn't like them much when I was a kid, but have come to appreciate them as a sort of comfort food.  

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Pseudo Sports

 Well, I watched my first baseball game with no audience.  It's weird.  I still don't see why they couldn't have let in disadvantaged kids and spread them out really good and have some life in the stands.. This just ain't right.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Good grief

 I was sitting in the shade yesterday and I felt woosey.  I thought I was going to faint.  Then I looked at an outdoor thermometer.  Yikes.  It was 110 degrees in the shade.  I placed  cold towel on the back of my neck and started feeling better right away.  I have found that is the best way to rapidly cool somebody down.  Welcome to Arizona in August.  

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Bleach or Pinesol

 I've been trying to clean  my house today.  I hate cleaning, but it needs doing.  One particular problem I always seem to have is mold in showers--the pink kind.  It just follows me around everywhere I live and regardless of climate. I am always battling it.  People say use this or use that.  I think bleach and lots of it is the best mold cure.  Now, as for toilets, I favor Pine Sol. The problem with Pine Sol is it kind of stinks. Right now my windows are open because of the strong smell of bleach and Pine Sol.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

democracy

And on the subject of democracy, I'm working as a poll worker for the Arizona primary election.  

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Will he go away?

There's a lot of talk that Trump might not leave even if he loses the election.  The thinking is he'll claim some sort of fraud and refuse to leave.  It's not up to him.  The electoral college sends in their ballots. The new Congress declares who the new president is. It is not up to the outgoing president. Article II, section 1, paragraph 3.  

Nixon wanted to declare martial law and stay in power during the Watergate era, but he had no support anywhere.  His cabinet wanted nothing to do with it and neither did the military.  Third world despots do this; they get in power and you can't get rid if them.

How'd it get to be August?

This wasn't like a normal summer.  I couldn't go anywhere.  A lot was going on with my father's health and with Covid19 options were limited. And now it is August already.  

August isn't looking too good, either.  But we'll manage.  In a few days I'll be working as a poll worker. Yep. I'll be taking people's ballots and taking those people without ID into the back room to work them over. Well, probably not on the latter one.  I think it's probably my turn to help keep the voting franchise working.  They must really be hurting for help if they hired me.  Then we're doing an estate sale.  There aren't any fall cons to go to. I think they're all cancelled.  I note Bubonicon in New Mexico was named after the plague, ergo they should continue to hold it and have a contest to see how many people die.  That's not true, it's cancelled.  

They don't even seem to have snow cones anymore. It was really hot yesterday and I was thinking a banana snow cone would work, but no one's selling them.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

he's back!

When I was about two my grandmother took away my favorite toy, a small stuffed tiger as she wanted a souvenir.  And that was that.  There’s a baby picture of me playing with it, but the tiger was gone.  Then, grandma had to go away to a home.  At some point, presumably when they took that dreadful woman away, the tiger must’ve returned.  But no one bothered to tell me. My mom never said a word about it. Then she died. So, last week when my dad died, I was going through a chest of drawers. Underneath some bedding was Bookey.  I hadn’t seen him for 60 years and he’d been sitting in a drawer two miles from my house.  Bookey is back at my house now. 

storage

There are so many dead bodies in New York they're putting them in cold storage trucks.  They can't bury them fast enough.  I had this strange image in my head of bodies on hooks in the meat department at the supermarket.  In Arizona those bodies would be ripe really fast in our heat. Another thought is Soylent Green. They take people and re-purpose them into a paste for people to eat.  That would solve the dead body storage problem. "Honey, I made Soylent Green loaf.  I got the recipe on the Internet."  No more storage problems for dead bodies.  Trust in science fiction to solve earth's problems. Soylent Green starred Charton Heston and came out around 1971 as I recall.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Don't be sarcastic

Here's great news.  Mortuary and crematoriums are jammed with bodies and struggling to keep up because there are so many COVID19 patients kicking off.    

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Don't answer the phone

Yesterday was quite a day.  When the phone rings at 4 am, don't answer it.  Throw the phone in the goldfish bowl and go back to sleep.   Yesterday was my birthday. But I knew immediately what the call was for and it had nothing to do with my birthday.  It was a nurse from hospice calling.  My father's health had been declining. I was able to  get in to see him just last Thursday, since the Copid rules did not allow visitors. Hospice was able to get me in there.  Dad had deteriorated an amazing amount. I hardly recognized him.

So when the phone rang the next day at 4 am I knew what it was.  The fact is, the hospice nurse was very nice.  Then I had to decide if I should call my brother or wait until a more sensible hour, I opted to go ahead and call.  I got my brother's wife (sister-in-law). She thought that was a heck of a birthday present.

So, that set a lot of things in motion: a meeting at the mortuary, a call to my dad's pastor, a few calls to relatives and family friends.   

Finally, at the end of the day, my brother treated my to some Chinese take out.  Uh dad, this was one birthday present I'll never forget.

R.I. P



Friday, July 24, 2020

Floating cars

Whilst I was driving yesterday, I discovered that I was flooded in and both exits from my neighborhood were flooded.  Well, I hit the gas and plowed on through the water. That worked for a few puddles, then I hit a deep one and discovered I was driving a boat. My car was floating. Then, thankfully, my tires caught a hold of the pavement and pulled me out of the water. 

Thursday, July 23, 2020

w/hat if?

What if the re-imposed a quarantine and sent drones out to enforce it?  Sounds like a Science Fiction plot, but it might not be.  They could load shotgun shells on the drone and if it finds you outside it shoots you. Nothing says loving like double aught buckshot. 

Speaking of quarantine, where the heck is all the ketchup?  The store was nearly out of ketchup yet again.  And they never have  iced tea anymore.   

Monday, July 20, 2020

Monsters

Ya know in the world of horror there tends to be certain trends.  Remember a while back there were vampires everywhere?  Anne Rice came along, then other writers all seemed to be doing vampires. Then it seemed like there were zombies everywhere.  I noted as we were reading for Six Guns Straight From Hell 3 that we were seeing one hell of a lot of monsters--far more than I've ever seen on any project I've edited.  I do not know if that is an indicator of an emerging trend or there just were a lot of monsters sent in.  I guess we'll see.  But folks will get a look at some monsters when Six Guns comes out.

On another trend, we didn't see much in the way of ghosts.  That's not really a trend. I never get many ghosts, even though ghost stories are my personal favorite type of horror.  I've long believed our British friends like ghost stories better than Americans.  /but western ghost stories simply do not come along very often.   

Sunday, July 19, 2020

readin'

If you're looking for some great deals on ebooks, the folks at Hadrosaur Productions and Smashwords are having a sale with great prices on some great books. They have anthologies and all sorts of ripping good stuff.  Buy a couple hundred books today. You'll be glad you did.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1005851


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Strange Good Fortune

I was reading on a social media site that someone I know got a curry dinner as one of those food places screwed up.  I  have never gotten a free meal out of the boom toward home delivery.  Apparently, it's not all that rare.

Around last Christmas someone dumped a bunch of boxes of Amazon Prime on a nearby street--just dumped the boxes. There were eight of them. I wondered what was in the boxes.  They were just sitting in a ditch.  I took them and drove around the neighborhood and delivered them.  Hell, I don't even like Amazon.  But I didn't want some kid not to get his Tonka dump trunk.  Okay, one of the boxes was opened at one end.    I played with Tonka trucks.  

So, Dominoes delivered to my neighbor's house Thursday.  This is a snowbird house. There's no one living there.  I debated whether to take it in.  I didn't.  It's still sitting on their porch 24 hours later.  No free food for me.  But I could've  eaten pizza while playing with a Tonka truck if I wasn't such a goodie two shoes. 

Update: 48 hours later, the pizza box is still there.  The coyotes opened it, but didn't take the pizza. That's a testament to Dominoes, I guess.  I threw it in the trash.

Friday, July 17, 2020

rewards

I was going on about not having Green Stamps anymore. No one knew what I was talking about. They were the original rewards program. Stores gave you stamps based on what you spent. When you had enough, you filled up a stamp book. And with a few books you went to a "store" and could redeem your stamps for merchandise. My grandmother loved them. I remember we went once and got a coffee pot. There were Green Stamps and a competitor, Plaid Stamps. Now, no one has any idea what I'm talking about.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

a tough business

Got a few royalty reports in.  It's kind of disappointing.  Of course, with huge unemployment and many bookstores that were forced to close, it could be worse.  The matter was further compounded by the fact that most of the cons have folded [or cancelled or whatever you want to call it]. It's a tough business.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

If he catches you...

There's a cartoon character who spends a lot of time tormenting Wile E. Coyote.  Fortunately, ACME has given the coyote rather generous credit terms on anvils and balloons and explosives.  The thing is, why doesn't the coyote simply order those boxes of gourmet food.  In a few days he could be feasting on trout and pheasant--all sorts of things.  But no, it's the bird that haunts his dreams he wants to kill.

And so, the chase goes on.  The thing is, they're not very big.  There was a Road   Runner right out in my front yard yesterday.  

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Dry cleaning

Do superheroes have to get their costumes dry cleaned?  If they did, doesn't that endanger their secret identity?

Monday, July 13, 2020

hot foot

Ah, living in Arizona.  Yesterday I wanted to change the light on my yard light. The thing was, I wasn't wearing any shoes. When I stepped out onto my driveway I discovered that fact. Concrete, when it's 110 degrees is not pleasant to walk on barefoot.  I was amazed I was that stupid.  

Thursday, July 9, 2020

at least there's ketchup

Well, we've got a staggering unemployment problem, a coin shortage, a super high rate of Corona virus, and the price of food at restaurants is skyrocketing because of the extra cleaning and stuff.  But the grocery store does now have ketchup.  Ketchup makes life bearable.  Although I saw someone put ketchup on a hot dog the other day. Now that is truly an abomination.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

money

Yesterday I was lamenting the coin shortage which I blame on the banks which are refusing to open their lobbies.  If Burger King can open to the public I don't see why the banks can't.  I think they're using it as an excuse to force everyone to use ATM or those virtual tellers and that's been their wet dream for years--not to actually deal with customers.

So, I was in this coin store on Monday. This place also handles foreign currency.  Some lady wanted to convert her Mexican currency.  They only offered her half of the face value.  They said they can't get rid if it, the border is essentially closed and there aren't any flights and there is nowhere for it to go, so it is worthless until banks start trading again.  Sounds like a hose job to me.

I used to like banks.  Their marble lobbies and people doing all sorts of transactions concerning the commerce of the world.  Now, the door is locked and a bank is simply a website.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

coinage

Yes,  we have no coins, we no coins today.  The list of shortages just continues to grow. The sore was out of ketchup the other day.  Now stores are pleading for people to use debit cards as they don't have any coins to make change.  All the banks have shut down their lobbies, sissies that they are and businesses with coins can't deposit them and those needing coins can't get them.Haven't seen so many shortages.  

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Coin of the Realm

Apparently there's a coin shortage developing. The local banks all closed their lobbies and are forcing everyone to use drive up tellers or ATM's. These options don't take coins.  Ergo, businesses with too many coins can't get rid of them and places with too few can't get them.  Thank you COPID 19, you're such a fun virus.

I shouldn't have made fun of the guy living in the bunker.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Blast From the Past

Someone from my grad school days at Oregon contacted me a few days ago. Said he'd been trying for years. Well, I have this blog and a Facebook page. I come up on Google. Couldn't have been trying that hard.  It's easy to lose touch with people.  It was nice to catch up. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

So it begins

Now comes the part of publishing stuff I hate.  We've got 15 writers who have 15 views of how things should proceed.  It's no wonder publishers all carry guns.  Well I've withdrawn the contracts of two writers. I wonder how many more it will be.  Hopefully, no more.  

One pet peeve is the ignorance around copyrights.  Didja know with a collective work such as a serial or anthology where you have multiple authors, a single notice such as one with the publisher's copyright notice was "deemed sufficient" starting with the copyright act of 1976. It went into effect in 1978, that's 42 years ago.  Yet look at anthologies and how many of them have a long list of copyright notices--it's monkey see, monkey do.  Then, the US signed the Berne Copyright Treaty. That one made use of copyright notice completely unnecessary. Yet, they still keep listing all these copyright notices in anthologies.Monkey see, monkey do.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Coming Soon

Six Guns Straight From Hell 3, edited by David B. Riley and J. A. Campbell

Saddle up for a wild ride through the weird, weird west. As you ride our trails you’ll want to keep one eye on the path ahead and one over your shoulder cause there’s a bushwhacking monster creeping up behind you.  If your horse gets eaten by a monster, you might be able to get a ride on the midnight train, as long as you don’t mind sitting with ghosts.  If you don’t catch the train, maybe the devil can give you a lift back to town. Just be careful which place you head for, because the folks in one town are about to die.  Staying on ranches ain’t much safer, especially at one girl’s birthday party. Then again, even going to outhouses can be deadly. If you happen to visit the local brothel, be sure and treat the ladies right or you’ll pay dearly. And Tombstone is no place to get your picture taken if you want to keep your skin.




Monday, June 29, 2020

Ketchup monsters from outer space

Okay, these roving food shortages are really out of hand.  The grocery store was out of ketchup. No wonder there's rioting in the streets. I can overlook a lot of things, including the lack of toilet paper and the lack of the iced tea I like.  But I can't face not having ketchup.  I can put that on many different foods and it makes life just a little more bearable.  Life may not be worth living if this ketchup problem gets widespread.  

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Money From Heaven

My policy is if there's money on the ground I pick it up and keep it.  I found 53 cents yesterday. I was so impressed.  I usually just find  a penny. This was two quarters and three pennies. I was so happy.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Evil callers

My dad got a very strange call yesterday.  It was someone pretending to be from Social Security. The number actually traced back to a vacant lot here in town,  The caller kept asking strange questions like if he'd ever lived in El Paso.  Then he wanted to "verify" his direct deposit and wanted his bank account number.  Oh no! Fortunately I was over at his house when this happened. I asked for the phone. The caller hung up. It's no wonder the elderly are often the favorite victims of criminals. It never occurred to my father that this was a bogus phishing call.  This one was so bad even my dad was getting suspicious about it. I sometimes am afraid that he has a phone.  Caller ID has become a joke.  We've put robo caller software to block those calls. But a slick talking caller remains a serious threat. To be continued...

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Why Editors Carry Guns

One of the reasons so many editors only do invitation only projects is a small group of writers who just insist on never-ending arguments with the editor.  They don't seem to get that if an editor doesn't like their story, that's the editor's right.  A few days ago I didn't like a title as it's almost the same as a major movie.  Such titles are spent as readers will expect a tie in and get angry when there isn't one. Some people may think such plays are cute--I do not.So I rejected it and said the title made me decide not to even read the story.  Anyway, I got a reply arguing with me about it.  It's not the writer's decision. It is mine and it does not matter if it is fair, it is still not up to the writer.  The writer is free to take his crappy title somewhere else.  Then I got another angry response and invoked the death penalty--that any future submissions will be discarded unread.  I hope that will end the matter. If the writer wants to do a shootout, I have a .357 ready to go and we can shoot it out any time.

As if to further make me wish I had kept things invitation only, I got yet another story, this one using a Star Trek phrase as a title.It was rejected unread as well, although I haven't gotten any sass on this one.

So, buckaroo, if you're an aspiring author, and you are boiling mad at some editor for rejecting your wonderful story, arguing with the editor will accomplish nothing. And you may want to mail me a box with a rattlesnake in it, but do remember that can work both ways.

Plague stories

Back when I was just starting to write stuff I wrote a story about a driver of a converted garbage trunk and the mechanical arm on the side was used to pick up bodies.  And he drove around every morning and picked up dead bodies.  And people had to get body bags at post offices. And this plague was dropping people in the millions.  It got published in one of the many little zines churning out stuff back then.  Most of them are gone now and I'm sure my story is long forgotten.  

As the story went on, the driver was kind of an outcast. People didn't want to go near him.  He started using that to his advantage and got some weird-looking liquid in a spray bottle. The mere threat of it sent people running. And that was my plague story.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Bring out your dead

Arizona is suddenly plague country USA.  There's a shortage of body bags so they're using painter's tarps to wrap bodies in.  Mortuaries are having to rent refrigerated trucks to store bodies in until they get time to embalm and bury them.  Actually I'm lying, sort of.  We really are beseiged by Corona virus but the other stuff isn't really true.  


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Watering plants

Some folks say no one waters them in the desert, so there's no need to water plants in your yard. My experience is if I don't water them, even native plants like cactus don't do so well.  And my trees would surely die. Hence, this morning will be spent watering stuff.

Monday, June 22, 2020

smoke

Yep, the smoke from the fires is in the air all around Tucson.  Boy that's tough terrain over there--the firefighters are earning their pay for sure.  And it's hot, really hot.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Grillin

Well it's Fathers Day.  My dad just want to do a cookout and that is what he's getting.  And a card. Our family basically  stopped giving gifts many years ago. It's really better. Nobody gets crap they don't want.  Dad says he doesn't really need anything anyway. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

We are not amuzed

Well, my dad is getting up in years and going to the store is a bit much for him. So, we thought we'd try online ordering and delivery.  I ordered him ordinary items and of the 40 items ordered only half arrived--the other half were out of stock.  So, the $9 delivery fee starts looking like a rip off with some small purchases.

As there's no way to tell if something is in stock until they pull the item, there's no way to substitute. I sure as hell ain't letting the store substitute.  So, it's pretty pathetic. I can't believe this  country is still facing so many food shortages.  

Back to the Drawing Board


Friday, June 19, 2020

Horrible car battery

My car battery is shot. It's always something.  For some reason, just as we've had food shortages all spring, size battery I need just is not available in Tucson. No one knows.  Some place in Phoenix is bringing one to my mechanic later today, I hope.  Otherwise, it'll be an interesting weekend as I wanted to go up into the mountains. It's always something. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

As predicted

As predicted I got a couple of angry responses from writers who claimed I shouldn't have rejected them. These are just like the students I had in the one class I taught at the college level.  They complained loudly about their poor grades. Then I opened the attendance record and pointed out they'd attended class less than a fourth of the time.  Maybe, just maybe, that might have been a factor.I want to be  clear, we don't do critiques, these folks were outraged at how we could reject their story.  "But I followed the guidelines."

Nope, it was my fault the students didn't learn nothin.  And, the writers who attacked us for rejecting their story were, without fail, in the bottom ten percent of the stories we got--not even close to getting published.

I think my next anthology, if there even is one, will go back to invitation only.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

That Horrible Guy

Today I made some folks unhappy.  I sent out a bunch of rejection notices concerning the anthology I am editing.  Most of them are basic, impersonal rejections. They were once called form rejections when submissions came through the mail. Now, they're the same thing, just digital.  Editors rarely give out personal replies for a few reasons.  One is writers invariably just send back an angry response "How dare you criticize me." or they just ignore what you told them and send out their  story someplace else.  So, editors just say why bother and send out generic rejections.  That's the way the system works.

Then some of the writers will reply to that rejection with messages like "No problem."  As if the editor cares what they think.  An editor is not your pen pal. He is not your teacher. And he is not your critique group.  An editor is simply looking for stories for a particular project.  It's nothing personal. The rejected story simply isn't what the editor is looking for,

Sunday, June 14, 2020

In the Cards

I was rattling on about card  cheats in yesterday's blog.  I mentioned I rarely see stories about gamblers or card sharps [it's sharps in the 1800s, sharks is how the term evolved later].  And the angel Mabel wouldn't dream of cheating at poker, although she pays for most debts with counterfeit money. Some women are hard to figure out.  Especially since her gentleman friend, Miles O'Malley, is a Treasury Agent.  The fact Mabel shamelessly counterfeits money troubles him.  But he also knows no jail could hold her. She need only snap her fingers and she's gone.  

But Mabel loves poker.  And she smokes cigars. And this shocks a few people in 1880s America.  But that's Mabel.

By the way, cards back then rarely had the denomination on them, like Q or 9. They just had the picture of Queen Victoria or nine diamonds or hearts or clubs.  I don't know why.  Stud poker was the likely game cigar chomping men [and Mabel] were playing at a table.  Draw poker appears to have existed, but was not very common back then.  

The other major card game was faro, which was played against a dealer.  The Earps in Tombstone owned an interest in the Oriental Saloon.  They had a faro game running there.  One thing about faro was, to be successful, you had a female dealer. Lonely prospectors and cowboys were far more willing to give their money to a nice looking woman than  some scruffy dude.  I gather a good faro operation could be quite profitable for a saloon.  For some reason, it doesn't rally exist any longer. I'm surprised, with all the casinos out there, someone has not tried to bring it back.  

Saturday, June 13, 2020

How Great I Am?

One of the things you notice quickly when editing books is a lot of "Original" ideas aren't.  The contributor may think it's new and different but after having read the same idea many times--it ain't. So, the difference is in the telling.  In Tales From Dry Gulch one story deals with being buried alive. That's been done before. But her story was different in that a coffin salesman was demonstrating the features on his coffin and ends up getting buried.  Well, the criminal extorts money to dig the guy back up,  Then he tries to kill him and bury him again.  Not to despair, the alien piano player comes to the rescue.  The crook, well he's already a cheater at cards, so the  piano player is not looking kindly on the fellow.

That's a different buried alive than someone like Poe would do.  I liked the story. But the author didn't think it just involved being buried alive.  Alas, too many stories that come in are little more ideas. Touches like the guy cheats at cards, too aren't included.  

Likewise, an army of hundreds of undead riders roaring into town is not particularly new, either.  But if someone worked a card cheat into the story, then I might be more kindly disposed toward it.

As regular readers of this blog may have noticed, I tend to rail on editing things a lot when I'm actively reading for something as I am now.  When Six Guns Straight From Hell 3 is wrapped up then I'll likely fixate on garbage and Tucson's mediocre restaurants.  

Speaking of cheating at cards, the Angel Mabel [Fallen Angel]  has certain powers.  But she wouldn't dream of cheating at poker.  She thinks card cheats are the lowest form of scum on earth--from an angel cast out of heaven and sort of banished to hell.

By the way, I hardly ever see card cheat or stories about gamblers. I don't know why.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Truth and Fiction

One thing about writing fiction is you can play around with worlds that aren't like ours.  A pandemic might be dealt with by armed airships who open fire on anyone outside spreading disease.  After all dead bodies don't transmit disease.  Actually, they do. That was a major way the ebolla virus was spreading.  The people burying the dead bodies were spreading the disease.  When the WHO  got the burying folks to change how they did it and gloves and stuff, transmission rates dropped sharply.  I don't know if dead bodies in restaurants and places are a cause for Corona virus or not. The media seldom talks about the dead people on subway cars or in restaurants and how their bodies are handled.  There I go again, making stuff up. The part about ebolla was true.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

bunker guy

I once lived next door to some guy who lived in an underground bunker. He had a TV camera and it would follow  you around. God forbid anyone should step on his precious property.  I used to make fun of him. Now I don't. He doesn't have to worry about viruses down in his little underground lair. Then again, if he's still there, he probably had freeze dried something. I had some really good burritos for supper.  I wonder if you had a dog in one of those things. Where would it go for its walk and where would it poop?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

hysterical

One thing that surprises writers who contribute to books I'm editing is it is not uncommon to get a question about something in their story.  It might be about the Pony Express actually going someplace or it could be about firearms.  I try and keep things as accurate as I can. I think the fantasy or horror works better when the other aspects of the story are realistic.  I recently had someone who made certain assertions about Little Bighorn that simply weren't true.  To my surprise, he sent me some article about the famous battle.  What was odd was he remained adamant that things happened that simply did not--and his article did not make the claims he was.  So, I thanked him for his submission and rejected the story.  

That is quite rare.  Usually inconsistencies on fact can be resolved.  But not that time. I don't know everything, nor would I want to. But I do wonder why someone would argue over trivial points.  On the other hand, many years ago I put a reference to the Epitaph in my novel The Two Devils.   I consider that the coolest name for a newspaper in the history of the world.  Well, the editor changed it to newspaper.  Just newspaper.  I was quite angry over that.  I'm still mad about it a decade later.  So, I have been on both sides of these things.  But, at the end of the day, someone needs to make a decision and that is usually the editor..

So then, the angry writer submits another story.  And it had historical problems as well.  What to do? It will be rejected without any comment from me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

cons

I note another science fiction  con has been cancelled. This one is Mile Hi Con in Denver, which is one I was planning on attending.  We're all afraid to congregate anymore.  I guess they may have some virtual thing in its place, but I doubt I'll bother to participate.  These cons have been collapsing one by one.  

Monday, June 8, 2020

Eating

Anyone eat out recently?  Boy howdy.  Prices have gone up quite a bit.  Of course the places that opened their dining rooms are running about half capacity with all the rules they're under. Dang, my lunch the other day was quite a load from a restaurant that's not particularly remarkable. 

Few restaurants around here have opened their dining rooms.  I'm not sure why.  The prices on the menus are eye catching.  I guess the thing to so is stay home, which is what they want people to do anyhow.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

cooler weather

They say we have a cold front coming through. We might even get down to 96 or so.  Only in Arizona is that a cold front.  And that's only for a day or two then we're back up to our usual 107 or so.  

Saturday, June 6, 2020

reality

I've been watching Alone from last season, which I missed.  That's the show where they drop you off in the wilderness and wait for you to go insane.  Some years ago there was something called the Joe Schmo Show or something like that. It was bogus and the only contestant didn't know it was rigged and everyone else were actors.  It occurs someone could really mess with these wilderness folks big time.

You could keep putting human footprints around their camp when they're out foraging.  And have stuff missing, yet there's no one around.

You could get some guy in a Bigfoot outfit and have the schmo keep seeing him.\\

Or you could just play little mind games like  move his camp or move equipment and let him think he's losing his mind.

The possibilities are endless. Ah, if only I had a production company full of like minded evil people.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Hot Stuff

It was 107 where I live.  Ah, summertime is here.  And I locked my keys in my car yesterday.  What a time to do it. So I called the road service number I subscribe to. And they sent some guy over in about ten minutes.  It's kind of scary how fast these guys can get in your car. I had my keys back in about a minute after the guy drove up.  

Thursday, June 4, 2020

There's something wrong with me

President Obama gave a speech yesterday on policing and the current situation.  He was sitting in front of  book shelves.  I found myself trying to figure out what the books were. I couldn't quite make them out.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

too damned stupid

I thought I'd get something for supper last night at a fast food place. In spite of repeating my order four times, the ding-a-ling still couldn't get it right.  I got to the window and asked what it was that made her so incredibly stupid.  Then I drove off.

Should I feel guilty for behaving like that? Probably.  But I don't.  They shouldn't put idiots on the window. She should've been taking trash out or mopping the floor. Enraged customers are bad for business.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Editors Desk

Editing a book is way different than writing one.  A lot of people can't switch between tasks. I've never found that any more of a problem than jumping from science fiction to weird westerns.  They're just words and are processed accordingly.  Words are our friends. Using words is good.

The current project is coming along well. We have record submissions and some really good stories. Alas, with record submissions also comes record, uh, well, stories that aren't so good.  Now some of them are okay, just not quite what we're looking for.  Some are what we're looking for, but we just like other stories better.  Then there are the, uh, well, stories. These are the ones where the writer is delusional if he thinks he'll ever get this thing published.  These are the stories which show a complete lack of writing ability on the part of the creator. They are stories that are why so many editors only do invitation only projects.

Oh well, it's part of the job.  We've seem plenty of the latter.  

Word to aspiring writers.  You suck.  You may not suck as bad as some other writers, but you still suck. I just mean that most writers starting out can still improve. You don't really suck, but you're not as good as you think you are. Keep working at improving your craft.  I have mixed feelings about these groups that do critiquing. Most of these folks have dubious qualifications. On the other hand, they are better than relatives.  Relatives try and be encouraging. They get you to send out stuff that inspires me to do blogs like this one.  I am highly qualified with lots of editing experience and a masters degree. Yet I don't touch critiquing with a ten foot pole, unless you're a very good friend or I owe you money. So don't ask me to critique your story.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Green eggs

There's a children's book by Dr. Seuss about green eggs and ham and some guy named Sam I am.  The point of the story is the guy doesn't want to try green eggs and ham because it's likely disgusting.   Then he relents and tries them and decides he likes green eggs and ham.  

Now, I'm a tireless advocate for the weird western genre.  I often refer to them as the greatest genre nobody ever heard of.  I also call them the unwanted bastard stepchild of literature.  One thing I am is a tireless advocate for the genre.  When given the opportunity, I do talks on them at cons and will speak to book groups or anywhere a willing audience assembles.  The thing is, when I talk on weird westerns people are surprised to learn this is a 100 year old genre and they're amazed at how many stories there are.  And there are sub genres in weird westerns.  My evil plan in all of this is to get people to read weird westerns.  I believe if people will try one or two they might actually like them.

Take Dry Gulch, Colorado. That's a town I invented and invited a few other writers to visit. The result is Tales From Dry Gulch. Here's the  thing.  You have a green alien from a far away planet who plays piano in the local saloon..  If you had an alien playing a piano in Star Wars folks would say, cool there's an alien piano player.  Put same alien in Dry Gulch and "Ewe there's an alien in my western."
If you like alien piano players the fact one is in 1880's Colorado shouldn't be any big deal. You still get an alien piano player.  Well, that's my thinking.  I think these stories are fun, but it's easier to pull teeth out of a  tiger than  it is to get readers to try some of these.

I'll recommend a  few that I think are pretty good.  Baen published a three book series. Straight Outta Deadwood, Straight Outta Tombstone and Straight Outta Dodge City.  I have no skin in any of these books although I've known the editor, David Boop, for some time.  Get one and try a few stories. Uncle Dave wouldn't steer you wrong. Libraries have them and your local bookstore can order a copy if you ask nicely.  I favor Straight Outta Dodge City because the introduction makes me seem like some kind of Weird Western guru.  

And then there are two of my works.  Fallen Angel and Legends of the Dragon Cowboys.  There's also The  Devil Draws Two which is a big book combining all three of my Miles O'Malley adventures.

So take that first bite of weird westerns as you eat you green eggs and ham.  I don't think they'll disappoint.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

summer riots

I predicted summer riots quite some time ago.  They clamped down on people for too long and it was bound to happen. I didn't know what the flash point would be. I certainly didn't know something as brutal as what happened in Minnesota would come along. But I was certain something would trigger it. 

We destroyed the jobs of millions of people yet allowed the big box corporate stores to remain open. In many states people can't even go out for a  meal or have a beer in their favorite watering hole. There's little sports programming to watch.  They even closed the national parks.  Most of this had little to do with the spread of the virus.  And we so absolutely got no leadership or even encouragement from the White House.  

What surprises me is people are actually surprised there's rioting.  Probably more to come.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

readership

At times I wonder if doing this blog is worth it.  It almost always has 200 views a day and it's not unusual to go upwards of 400.  I don't really know how that compares to other sites.  The most popular hits seem to be the phobia of the month.  The page views go up every time I announce the new phobia. Another popular subject is garbage.or recycling.  The mere mention of something to do with garbage causes the viewership to soar.  And adding some type of picture also causes a ride in viewership.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Phobia of the Month

This month's phobia is: Bibliophobia- a fear of books.  I actually knew someone who had this.  He'd break out in a cold seat and start shaking at the mere mention of going inside a bookstore. Even the sight of books made him flee.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Blood and guts

I had to get a blood test yesterday.  It's just part of my upcoming regular doctor visit.  I  was amazed at the changes the medical office building has gone through.  They've got people sitting in chairs in the hallway at one doctor's office because they used to pack everyone in like sardines in their waiting room.  They took my temperature when I came through the door. I supposed if I had a fever they'd have killed me on the spot.  Ah, looking back on the good old days when they only had to worry about blood born pathogens.  I had my mask on and was able to proceed to the lb for my blood draw.  

One thing I left with was a feeling of how glad I was that I don't work in healthcare.  This sure isn't my idea of fun.

Now, today I have to take my father to a different medical building for some tests he needs done.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Doctor on TV

My kidney doctor now refuses to see patients in person.  He only sees you on a computer screen.  I guess this is the future of medicine.  I can't say as I'm particularly fond of this trend.  But away I shall go.  I think It's time to find another doctor.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Grant

Tonight will debut the start of a three part miniseries on Ulysses S. Grant, the famed Civil War general and American President. I've long thought Grant was misunderstood and  plan to watch the show.  

Can't get enough Grant?  Well, it so happens Grant appears in my novella Fallen Angel.  Of course my story is fiction, but I didn't select the general by accident.  Grant is instantly recognizable and we learn the Angel Mabel formed a friendship with Grant During the Civil War which continues after his presidency when Martians decide to invade Earth.  

So, if you can't get enough Grant, Fallen Angel is available in ebook and print versions.  


Sunday, May 24, 2020

memorial

It's almost Memorial Day.  We had a cold spring by Arizona standards. Couple that with everyplace being closed, and I am having trouble grasping the concept of Spring. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

banking

I checked some of the local banks for what they are offering these days.  What a rip off.  I use a credit union here in Tucson and had not realized what a rip people are getting from the large banks.  Whilst I admit these banks do have large branch and ATM networks, but they're all wanting high fees for that convenience.  I also note that some of these accounts are no longer called checking accounts and do not have check writing.  Now, if you have a certain balance or get a certain amount direct deposited, well then they offer some fee waivers off their $12 a month fees [that's $144 a year for the math challenged]..

Still, by comparison, my credit union offers checks, bill pay, online banking, debit/Visa ATM card, online banking and it is free [although a $25 savings account is required]

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

neighborhood watch

We have one of those neighborhood watch groups. I fear they may have gone of the deep end. These outfits serve a purpose, but the emails I've been getting from them are a bit overzealous.  I'm supposed to call 911 if someone comes to my door.  And I'm supposed to call if I see a car I don't recognize in the neighborhood.  Generally, our society does seem to be developing a fear of strangers.  I think this may be overkill.  I wonder if it's just our neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Help Wanted For Our Times

Help wanted:  Hoard Rampager I.  This position is for anticipation for the coming plague-ridden end of days. Rampager will join a roving hoard and forage for food and supplies, including taking of same by force, fashioning and maintaining weapons, guarding same and other duties as assigned.  Must be willing to mercilessly kill people.  Experience with heavy equipment or mining equipment to force open secure underground bunkers especially desirable.  Benefits include generous share of the loot and opportunities for rape and other violent acts.  Experience preferred but will train the right applicant.  A criminal record is not considered a problem for this position.  Submit resume to Mayhem Temporary Personnel Services.


Help wanted: Camouflage Expert.  Must be able to design and install materials that will make underground bunkers and survival food storage sheds hidden from roving hoards and other thieves. Successful candidate will have experience with paint and construction materials.  Must be able to fool hoards into thinking there is nothing of value on client's property.  Salary can be in either gold or freeze dried food products.  Submit resume to Mayhem Temporary Personnel Services.

Help wanted: Medical services provider. In anticipation for the coming end of days, a physician or nurse practitioner is desired to deliver and administer medical supplies to survival bunkers, including antibiotics and vaccines for preventing deadly outbreaks.  Ability to treat bullet wounds would be a  plus.  Bullet proof vest and sidearm provided. Payment can be in gold or freeze dried food products. Submit resume to Mayhem Temporary Personnel Services.

Help wanted:  Plague body remover.  In anticipation of the coming end of days, a robust individual is required to go around to homes and businesses and collect dead bodies from plague ravaged neighborhoods and dispose of same. This can include digging graves or building home made crematoriums.  Ability to evade roving hoards would be a plus.  Experience with Ebola or Sars or similar outbreaks highly desirable. Payment can be in gold or freeze dried food products.  Submit resume to Mayhem Temporary Personnel Services.




Monday, May 18, 2020

Faking it

As I've mentioned before, I am in the process of editing a western horror anthology.  About 1/4 of the stories that come in have no prayer of being taken seriously.  The writers who create them have no idea of what the west was like. And they aren't very good at faking it.  Some writers don't know much about the Old West, but make up for it with really entertaining plot or at least interesting characters. But what tends to show is when the story is in some unnamed western town where we don't even know what state or territory it's in or the year it is taking place.  

My advice if you want to write these type of stories: sit down and create the town you're placing it in. Come up with a town, then come up with the basic folks in that town like the school marm, the town marshal, maybe there's a mayor or preacher.  Just start visualizing what this town is like.  Then name the place.  You'd be amazed to ho w much that helps your story become more believable.

Now, if your story is set on a ranch or some other place that gets tricky.  One writer keeps sending me crap set on ranches because I don't think she has a clue what western towns were like. he thing is, she doesn't understand ranch life either. But if you come up with an interesting location, it can really improve your overall story.

I have gone the made up town route, although my western books with Miles O'Malley, and more recently, Fallen Angel, are set in 1880's San Francisco.  Growing up in the area, I know a lot about the history of the region and it's just been a natural place or me to base my characters. Ling Fung, from Legends of the Dragon Cowboys, takes up residence in Placerville, which is a California mining town that I selected somewhat because it had a high Chinese population in the 1800's.  

My point is, don't just run with a generic town--give us a real place, or a realistic place whether you use a real town or make one up.  You'll be amazed how much better your stories will be.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

New review out

http://www.thenamelesszine.org/Books-2020/Exchange_Students.php

There is a new review out of the anthology Exchange Students.   I have a story there called "The Pupil" about a Martian barrister who takes on a student from Earth. It also features my Sarah Meadows character.


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Oh boy, what a fish!


This picture just caught my eye. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Editor, Writer, Art Director, Retired Old Geezer

What am I?  I sometimes wonder.  I definitely retired from the hotel business and moved to Arizona from Colorado.  But I still edit projects.  I still act as art director and hire artists to do covers.  And I still edit anthologies.  It's that last hat that people who aren't in the business don't really understand. They think of an editor as somebody who corrects mistakes in a manuscript or who proofreads something.  That's a different kind of editor.  I am selecting stories to put in a new book of western horror stories. And things are going fairly well.  We're getting some really good stuff.  In fact some of its so good I started thinking Stokers.  The Stoker awards are given out by the Horror Writers Association for the best horror fiction--much like the Oscars go to film making achievements. Then I had to slap  myself for thinking such things. I once said hell will freeze over before they ever hand out a stoker to a weird western anthology.  It ain't gonna happen.  But, deep down, I've done a lot of these things and this one is starting to look special.

While we continue to work on this book, you can read Six Guns Straight From Hell. Although it's out of print, it is abundantly available from   online used book outlets and a number of libraries have copies which you can get through inter library loan if your local library lacks it.  That'll get you in the mood for what's coming later this summer.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Germ Warfare

For all our effort, all the hell everyone's gone through, all the millions of jobs lost, we have more cases of virus in the USA than anywhere. People are dying like crazy.  I have this idea of going around coughing on homeless panhandlers..  But they might cough back.  That's a new take on germ warfare.  Whose germs would win? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Uh? Not Martians Again

Okay, so I have these friends who are thinking about starting a restaurant when the economy settles down and the plague tapers off. They ran one before.  So, they were asking for ideas of what to call it. There were six folks just tossing ideas around.  And I said to call it "The Martian  Cafe."  I further suggested they have a little green man on the menus and the front door and a slogan on the menus like  "Where Martians eat for free."  And they could decorate it with pictures of Mars and stuff.  The kids meal could maybe come with a toy flying saucer.  It would've been the coolest place.

Well, then it occurred to me everyone was looking at me and not in a good way. I thought it was about the best idea I'd ever had in my life, but that didn't seem to be the reaction.

Okay, I am  not obsessed with little green men. I'm obsessed with Martians.  My novella Fallen Angel is chock full of Martians as the angel Mabel has to save Earth from them--twice.  

I liked my idea for the name.  Hell, I'd start one myself except I know nothing about running a restaurant.




Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Blue capes and guns

I've often wondered if writers wore capes and carried guns how things might be like.  I tend to forget how self-delusional writers tend to be.  They think their stupid idea is the most wonderful thing anyone ever came up with.  They think a story about two boys playing fort will be accepted by a publisher of a western horror anthology.  So, we as a society should give writers capes and guns and a shirt with a big W on it.  And writers could go around and stop bank robbers and catch babies falling from buildings.  Wouldn't that be something?

Monday, May 11, 2020

Dogs on duty

I live in a neighborhood of older people. They drop dead rather often.  One neighbor walks her dog every evening. A few days ago she came by without him.  Usually it's the humans who've croaked, but I started thinking the worst.  I asked her where Trevor was, fearing the answer. She surprised me. Trevor was fine--more than fine.  Her son had simply taken him surfing.  Yes, the dog loves to surf, which he can't do in Arizona.  And he was over in California riding the waves.  So, the concept of some dog going off on vacation had not really occurred to me.  I wonder if he sends out postcards.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

product idea

Do you keep worrying that there might be someone hiding in your shower?  I sure do.  That's why I just thought of the shower alarm.  You hang it from the shower head.  When you get in the shower you enter a code.  If you don't then it starts beeping, so you know someone's in there if you hear it. I sure wish I knew how to build such a contraption.  

In fact, I could start a whole line of products like the shower TV camera, where you tap into your home TV setup and can watch the inside of your shower.  And there also could be the microphone in the shower so you'd hear some guy moving around in there.  A whole line of products for a problem you probably did not even know you had.

Speaking of men hiding in the shower.  Back in Colorado I had to come in to attend a meeting at the hotel  I worked at.  Normally I was just there at night.  Well, the maid was yacking with another maid and I snuck  inside the room she was cleaning and closed the shower curtain.  A few minutes went by then she reached into the shower area and I yelled "Grrr."  She went running out into the hall screaming. I went out a second door and vanished.  The poor woman eventually got a supervisor to go back in and of course there was nobody hiding in the shower.  I was a bad boy.

One Halloween I went over to a  girlfriend's house and hid in her shower and put on a Ghillie suit.  Those are the rugged outfits snipers use and sometimes are mistaken for Bigfoot. Hunters use them also. It was six am, that's how dedicated I was and how unprepared she was. So, she came into the bathroom buck naked and opened the shower door and I grabbed her wrist and  yelled "Grrr!"  And she went racing out of her apartment, sans clothing while screaming. And her barking mop dog, Toby, was right in front of her. Some hero he was at protecting his mistress. I took off out the kitchen door.  Somehow she figured it was me. Well, she wasn't my girlfriend any longer.  So, yes, some guy hiding in your shower really does happen.  And it's probably poetic justice I now awaken convinced there's some guy in my shower.


Ghillie suit used by hunters

Friday, May 8, 2020

illicit doings

There are people around Tucson who will do illegal things if you pay cash.  They usually work out of motor homes and tend to move around a lot. No, I'm not talking about drugs. I'm talking about barbers.  It's a crime to get a haircut right now. I guess that's about to change and barber shops will soon re-open.  But these mobile, illegal barbers have been filling the void.  Do I wait, or get one now?  That is the question.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

future of medicine

Last week I took my dad to a new doctor.  The doctor sits down the hall and talks to the patient over a TV screen.  I guess this is the future of medicine.  I can understand this concept in rural areas where there aren't enough doctors.  When the guy is right down the hall and doesn't want to catch anything, I find this troubling.  The medical assistant still comes into the exam room and takes the patient's blood pressure and temperature.  So the medical assistant is exposed, although sh was wearing a mask and gloved.  But doctor God down the hall is too important.  I guess this is the way things are heading, but I can't say I'm all that impressed.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Phobia of the Month

This month's irrational phobia is purinsumphobia.  It's a fear of trash cans.  Just imagine trash cans following you around, plotting to get you. If that's the case, this may be 

Monday, May 4, 2020

Hiding in the shower

Okay, I've had a few days recently when I was convinced there was somebody hiding in my shower in the middle of the night.  Each time I got out of bed and went and checked. Of course, no one was there. The problem when you're paranoid is if you don't check, that's the time there really is somebody hiding in your shower.  Does this happen to other people or just me?

Sunday, May 3, 2020

okay, then

Now then, so far I've predicted large scale rioting this spring. I already explained the 92 degrees theory.  And people have been so clamped down and they're broke and have nowhere to go. To my thinking riots are inevitable.  The worse thing they did was close the bars. Hell, people have been catching diseases at bars for centuries although they were a different kind.  Liquor gives people a release and that's been taken away from them.  Not only that, but you can't sit down in a nice restaurant and have a pleasant supper--it's only to go order you have to go and eat at a truck stop. Yep. boiling over is inevitable. Just wait and see.  And if I am proven wrong, I just won't admit it.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

good fortune

Two days ago I found a quarter.  Yesterday I found a dime when I was pumping gas. That's a total of 37 cents I've found this week. 

Friday, May 1, 2020

editing stuff

Everyone who thinks they're an author should take a crack at editing, at least once.  I'm editing a horror anthology currently. I've teamed up with Colorado author J. A. Campbell for this endeavor. It is simply astonishing how bad a lot of the stories people send out are.  I'm also starting to wonder if they teach anything at all in school anymore.  There are people submitting for publication who do not even seem  to understand what a paragraph is.  

On the other hand, there are some really talented writers out there.  I'm actually impressed with the quality of some of the stories that are coming in--really impressed.  We may end up with a pretty dang good book.  And that's why I do this.  I don't have to edit.  I could spend the time writing short stories or maybe even another novella.  But sometimes I like to work in a more collaborative venue that anthologies provide.

Some anthologies are rather vague collections of stories. A lot of them are themed in some fashion. As most folks who read this site know, I tend to spend most of my effort in the weird western genre. The new anthology will be no exception.  I'll mention more when the reading period ends.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

invention

I was thinking after the other night when I was convinced there was someone hiding in my shower, what if there was.  What if someone made some guy like a cardboard cutout who you could put in your shower and scare your wife or someone?  Boy I'd buy one if it was cheap enough.  Maybe I have too much time on my hands.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

mail

Apparently the Postal Service is slowing down-literally.  There are so few airline flights mail is taking longer to get where it needs to go. Thanks Corona virus.

Speaking of the Post Office, the local one around here doesn't have any commemorative stamps anymore.  They have American flag stamps.  The flag stamps are perfectly fine; I just like to have a little variety.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

temperature

Back when I was in college I read some paper by some sheriff in Louisiana. The sheriff had analyzed riots like Watts, Homestead and many more.  What flash point kicked off the riots? Was it lack of food? Someone wrongly charged?  No, it was temperature.  The sheriff claimed that the most common flash point is 92 degrees.  Hotter than than, it's too hot for people to go around rioting.  Colder and people seem more docile. But, when the mercury hits 92, watch out.

Now, I don't know if people are going to start as the weather gets warmer, but there's a lot of tension in the air.  People can only stay clamped down for so long.  And I've never tested the sheriff's theory, but it's getting warmer every day.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Night showers

Ever wake up in the middle of the night and feel convinced there's some man hiding in your shower? I have. It happened just the other night.  Now, you start trying to convince yourself there couldn't possibly be anyone in your shower. Heck, the outside doors are locked. Why would somebody be hiding in my shower?  If he was going to kill me why didn't he just do it?  But, deep down I knew he was in there. I just knew it.  So, I got out of bed and went into the bathroom.  It's 4:00 am. Has he been hiding in there all night?  Then I fling open the glass shower door and, of course, there is no one in my shower.  Then I went back to bed, relieved and disappointed at the same time.

What earthly reason would some guy have to be standing in my shower at 4 am?  Yet, my little brain was convinced he had to be in there.  Maybe he'll be in someone else's shower tonight--maybe even yours.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Interstellar sales

What if aliens on other planets could buy books like mine?  That would be cool.  They may be. How would you know? Especially ebooks as anyone could download them.  With the current crisis going on, each state is kind of doing their own thing as there's precious little leadership out of Washington, I have no idea if bookstores are going to survive.  That's unfortunate, but they're not considered essential.  I'm not claiming they are essential, but most of them are small. They don't have large groups of people. But, closed they still are.  I like bookstores.

Well, I don't know how to get the alien book customer interested in my books.  They might like Tales From Dry Gulch, it's got an alien piano player in the saloon.  There's even a flying saucer on the cover.  I'd sure be happy if a couple million space aliens stopped by and bought a copy, if they could find a place that's open.  They might also like Heat of the Midday Sun, which is an anthology I edited. It has a story by Lyn McConchie called "A Day Out Shopping" about a Martian book reader who really likes Jules Verne. It's out of print, but available from used book venues.

So, little green men and ladies, if you buy my books I'm always happy to autograph them. Stop by any time.  I have nowhere to go anymore since they won't let us travel or go to movies or anything. Just don't park your flying saucer out in the street. The homeowners association hates that.

Friday, April 24, 2020

No bier for you

More on my recent posting about Munich cancelling Octoberfest. It's not near October.  In all probability, I doubt that I would have gone. Whilst I would love to drink tankards of malt beverages brought to me by pretty frauleins in traditional Bavarian costumes, I really would.  Alas, I have serious kidney problems and the doctor says no on alcohol.  

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Guess who's here?

“Sweetie, there’s a virus here to see you.”

“Tell it I’m busy,” Howard said.

“It say it’s really important.”

“What virus is it?”

“SARS-CoV-2.”

“Okay, I’ll be right there.”  Claude put down the ledger and marched into the living room. “I told you not to contact me at home.”

“Bwetzedd glo oxach,” the virus said. Virus is tough to understand, but that’s what it sounded like.

“Yes, the toilet paper’s all at my warehouse.”

Gwen approached them. “Would you like some cake?”

“Virus’s don’t eat cake.  Do you?”

“Eh ta uh si quee.”

“That’s what I thought.”  He opened the door.  “There is no vaccine and that malaria drug doesn’t work. Tell your friends to relax.  Thanks for stopping by.”

“That virus, well it’s so much more polite than Ebolla.  Those Ebolla were horrible.   Let’s hope SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay,” Gwen said.

“You said it, darling.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Say it ain't so

Germany's Oktoberfest scrapped over virus in blow to beer industry. It's not even close to October yet!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Things I'd like to do but probably won't

Go into a crowded store and start coughing really loud.

Get one of those theatrical packets they use for fake blood pouring out of your mouth and go into a store and start coughing and then ask somebody if I'm coughing up blood.

Print up some official Department of Health Quarantine notices and put them on people's doors.

Print up some official CONTAMINATED: USE AT YOUR OWN RISK stickers and put them on pork products at the grocery store.

Put a barricade outside the local casino CLOSED AIR DUCT VIRUS CONTAMINATION. DO NOT ENTER CASINO. EXTREME VIRUS DANGER.

Maybe I have too much time on my hands.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Where are the cons?

When you're involved in genre fiction part of your life is going to cons. That seems true whether you are and artist or writer or something in between. They're a good place to meet fellow practitioners as well as the occasional fan.  And then there's the current plague.  We literally just wrapped up Wild Wild West Con before they started ordering everything nonessential closed here in Arizona. I'm noting the Stoker Awards went out this weekend without the con in London that was intended to go with it [that con may be rescheduled].  Heck, even some of the fall cons are already packing it in and folding. I think thee's now a double fear of not only contagion but a looming recession as well.

Now, I haven't been attending more than two or three cons a year. I know some people who seem to go nearly every weekend.  I never rate guest of honor status [where they pay your expenses] and find the travel expenses too much save for just a couple of these.  What I don't know if any of these will go belly up and never return or if they'll be back next year. I suppose time will tell.  

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Bunker man

I used to live next door to a guy in a bunker. He had a flat lot with a  hatch on it. And there was a pole with a TV camera--the camera would follow you around if you were outside.  I often made fun of bunker man. Now, I'm not so sure if I wasn't a bit hard on him. He's probably got plenty of toilet paper and is sitting all snug and warm as the rest of us die to the Copid virus.  

Of course, when the roving hoards start up, and some folks think that'll be on Friday, I'm starting my own hoard and we're going after the guys in bunkers and we'll dig them out and take their freeze dried food and their toilet paper.  Yes we will.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

not quite cricket

Crickets, they're out there every night. I'm told they do that chirping because they're trying to get a date.  It's a damned annoying sound.  So far they don't come inside my house. The exterminator put out a barrier of some sort of chemical that's supposed to keep them out.  But the ones out in the yard, they are not affected by this barrier and irritate the heck out of me.