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  Well I've withdrawn the contracts of two writers.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.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Going to the store

I went to the store yesterday, I did.  What did I buy?


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Anthologies

As a follow up to yesterday's blog on editing anthologies.  The Six Guns Straight From Hell  has two previous editions. They've both gone out of print but used editions are readily available from online bookstores.  I'm reading for Six Guns 3.   My most recent anthology is Tales From Dry Gulch, which can be ordered simply by clicking the cover image on this page.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Stories from the trunk

I am editing a new anthology.  This involves reading a lot of stories and trying to select which ones will fit.  I've done this quite a few times.  This time I'm working with a second editor, Julie Campbell. We've done projects before and I've found we rarely disagree on things.  Sometimes two people who clash more get better results.  But that's not the case here. It's nice to have someone to bounce ideas off or just get a second opinion.

One thing writers, particularly novice writers, don't always understand is there is no empirically bad or good story. The question Julie and I are both considering is really more of Is this story right for this particular project?  A story that might have been fine  for the magazine Steampunk Trails, which Julie once edited, may not fly with the gritter and rougher western horror book we're now working on.  

And, unfortunately, into this mix some writers keep dumping off what are known as trunk stories. These are stories writers kept in a trunk or drawer somewhere and could never seem to sell them. Every now and then they become aware of a new market and convince themselves that old story will be perfect and send it off. They often don't give the announcement or writers guidelines more than a glance and their submission is something editors dread.  There's often a reason that story keeps getting rejected.

Alas, we've been getting a fair number of trunk stories.  I don't like reading them anymore than any other editor, but it goes with the job.  Then I come across one like I got yesterday that just brings a smile to my face and I think Yes, that's why I do this.  And that's where anthologies come from.

Please read a few now and then--anthologies, not trunk stories. They vary a lot and tend not to sell as well  as novels, but you can find some amazing stories in them.  Libraries have lots of them, if your library is still open. And online bookstores sell them, too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

We're Giving You $1200 because we like you

I haven't got my stimulus money yet.  I don't know what I'll do with it.  It's not like I can go anywhere and celebrate.  I do need a new light bulb for my kitchen.  I guess buying a pack of light bulbs should do the trick and get the economy going again.  Yay free money.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Thinking about the plague

Thoughts on the plague. I find myself thinking about the plague lately.

Back many years ago I took a graduate class on Medieval Europe.  I wrote a paper on what caused the Dark Ages.  I’d grown up being told various idea such as Roman lead pipes caused Rome to fall, the growth of Barbarians, the decadence and corruption of Rome were all blamed as culprits. I rejected that thinking and put out my own theory. The cause of the Dark Ages was the plague, the Black Death.

It was everywhere and killed people in enormous numbers.  I believe it also set certain events into play.  It greatly weekend the Roman Empire. The Emperor Constantine even caught it, although he was one of the few who survived.  The thing is, about half of the population of Europe died in a a very short time.  The collective memory of a society cannot recover from that kind of loss.  It was not uncommon for a forth to even the entire population of a village to die in just a few weeks–it was that deadly. When the Romans withdrew from Britania, for example, within just a little over a generation the local folks did not know where the roads and aqueducts they were using came from. Roman sculptures and tapestries remained, yet people started thinking they were built by a race of giants–with little memory of the Empire that had once ruled the land.

Alas, my professor was not thrilled with my theory even though I felt I’d supported my argument. Since then I’ve at least convinced myself the Roman Empire, and the plague are both directly tied in to demise of civilization. In just a few short years a populace that was mostly literate, where medical care was so advanced they had surgeons and anaesthesiologists, clean running water and a food distribution system descended into anarchy with nothing more than loose local government and an illiterate population where only monks and priests could read and write. All because of a disease carried by rats.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter

When I lived in Colorado this family down the street who had two adorable little girls. Anyway, come Easter morning Mom came out and placed some eggs around the yard. I noted they were all the plastic kind that you can put little goodies like M & M’s inside.  Well, after Mom went back inside I took a dozen eggs I’d died orange and planted them in the yard. So, the girls came back with baskets teaming with more eggs than Mom had put out–including some real hard-boiled eggs.  I wonder if the parents noticed the girls had these hard-boiled eggs they had not made. And, if so, if the wondered if there really was an Easter Bunny or they thought there was some sort of psycho running around putting eggs in peopl'es yards. I have no idea what the reaction was.  

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Tires

I had to get a new tire yesterday.  It's the third flat tire I've had since September. All of them had sidewall damage and could not be repaired.  I am starting to wonder if these are random. Perhaps someone is punching my tires on purpose.  Fortunately, I had what's called "Road Hazard" protection and have gotten the tires replaced  by the store.  Annoying, though.  

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Breakdown of Law & Order?

A neighbor of mine works part time at a local dollar store.  He told me the other day that their shoplifting incidents are up 125% over last year.  That means they have doubled plus gone up a forth on top of that.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Old dusty thirsty guy

I had a vision of some old guy crawling through the sand, looking mighty thirsty. Only that old guy was me and he was looking for iced tea.  And he came around a bend and there was a building marked store. He crawls inside and spots an isle marked "iced tea" and goes to the shelves. He finds nothing but sand. The shelves are bare. Slowly, he crawls back out of the store and out into the desert.   

That's how I feel these days.  They used to have jugs of iced tea and it was cool and refreshing. Now, there is none.  

Monday, April 6, 2020

Where is everything?

I guess I'm just stupid, but I'm having a hard time figuring out the chronic shortages in the stores. I've never seen anything like it. I grew up in California where we had an abundant supply of fires and earthquakes, yet the stores were never out of basic items for more than a few days.  As the weeks go by I note things like toilet paper remain in short supply.  Another item that baffles me is those jugs of iced tea--there haven't been any in the local stores for weeks.  Why would people want to hoard iced tea?  The store shelves in general are quite thin, but these certain items just don't make sense.

Maybe the company that makes the stuff has just given up?  I don't know.  I doubt I'll ever figure it out.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Good old days

My brother's running around in his mask now.  It used to be if you went into a store or bank with a mask on they'd trip a silent alarm. Not anymore.  

This is worse than the plague during the middle ages. They didn't close stores and restaurants.  I'm sure they could go to Best Buy and look at new computers anytime they wanted. But, not now.  All we can do now is get crappy take out food.  I miss that cute redhead who worked at the Italian place.  Back in the Middle ages they could go flirt with cute red-haired waitresses and didn't have to get take out. But not now. All I can have is takeout.  Makes me long for the good old days when they had the plague, And they didn't run around with masks on. 

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Oh my

I'm currently reading for a new anthology.  Whilst we've been getting a decent number of stories, the quality is seriously lacking.  I've been down this road before and know it's part of the territory. Still, I am amazed at how many people don't seem to have any idea how to write a decent story. One particular thing I keep seeing is some lawman does this, then he goes and does that.  The concept of even trying to develop interesting characters does not seem to ever occur to these wannabe writers. But that's the  nature of editing.  I have no idea why every single story that comes in involves some two-dimensional lawman,  Oh well, I guess it's my job to protect the reading public.  

Thursday, April 2, 2020

phobia of the month

It's time once again for our phobia of the month.  This month it's cynophobia, which comes from the Greek words that mean “dog” (cyno) and “fear” (phobia). A person who has cynophobia experiences a fear of dogs that's both irrational and persistent.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

What if?

I've edited a number of science fiction projects over the years.  One story idea that comes up now and then is aliens could kill us all without ever even revealing themselves. All they'd need to do is create a highly virulent virus and let it spread around the world--killing the people off.  In light of current events, I'm not so sure that's a far fetched story.  That's often the case, that science fiction is only a little ways ahead of reality.  Well, some alien disease is not a new idea. The 1971 story Andromeda Strain has been there and done that.I thought I might get a copy and watch it. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

answering prayers

Scored some toilet paper at the local dollar store.  I'm so happy.  Yesterday I was lamenting the lack of toilet paper.  Then, poof, there were packages of toilet paper.  

On a related note, I know someone who screens luggage at the airport for TSA.  He said someone checked a suitcase full of toilet toilet paper two days ago.  Go figure?

Monday, March 30, 2020

where is all the toilet paper?

U.S. Census data, the average U.S. household of 2.6 people uses 409 regular rolls per year.  There is no toilet paper in Tucson.  It simply does not exist.  The poor folks who work at stores just shrug when asked about the current shortages of food, medicine and toilet paper. I get the hand sanitizer and food shortages as people prepare for the roving hoards that should be forming in the next few weeks. But I do not understand where all the toilet paper is going. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Cheer up

It's certainly easy to get depressed.  Millions of people can't work and you can't even have a drink at a bar. My dad's birthday is coming up in a few days.  I can't take him out to dinner. Hell, I can't even buy a steak and do a cookout--the local store has no meat.  But there's plenty of wine and liquor. I guess dad can just get blotto for his birthday.  I can't even join him for that as  can't drink do to my kidney problems (doctor's orders).  On the other hand the power is still on; water comes out of the tap; the trash is still getting picked up.  

Friday, March 27, 2020

wishful thinking

I live in  a neighborhood of older people.  For some reason, a rumor started that I had died from the virus. A neighbor was staring at me at the mailbox then said "I thought you were dead." That surprised me a bit. "Sorry to disappoint you," was my response.  Then other people told me I'm dead. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

hoarding

I was actually able to buy food yesterday.  There remains no toilet paper anywhere.  Someone's hoarding a hell of a lot of toilet paper.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dog Serial Killer

I've written before about the dead dogs that keep turning up on Bopp Road, which is near my house. They all appear to be healthy looking.  At first I thought they might've been hit by cars, but the fact they're always in the same place makes me think they are being killed somewhere and dumped. This is the eighth dead dog at the same exact place in the past four months.  Someone from county animal control comes along and scoops up the dead bodies and hauls them away. I think there's a dog serial killer on the loose. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Back yard roundup

One of my birch trees seems to have died. It shed its leaves last winter. Whilst the other two came back and sprouted new leaves, the third one just sits there.  I suppose n this climate, where water is scarce and its hot one should be happy with that. However, its been an exceptionally cool spring we've had fairly regular rain. So, why'd the tree die?  Maybe it was simply its time to go off to tree heaven.

On a brighter side, my two lemon trees are looking pretty good.  They've  been in the ground about three years.  For the longest time they neither seemed to grow or produced fruit. The last fruit cycle yielded enough lemons for a pitcher of lemonade and the little rascals are clearly growing now. The barrel cactus on the side of the house is looking really good and has benefited from the extra spring rain.  

Alas, the one bad thing is the weed problem seems to be getting worse.  They are everywhere and my efforts to abate them seem futile.  I've been using propane but may have to go to a chemical solution.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Where are the marauding hords?

Well, I hope people are looking out for the marauding hoards. This situation reminds me of some 20 years ago. I literally lived next to  some guy in a bunker.  It was kind of creepy, but this guy lived in an underground bunker. I don't recall actually seeing the man.  A TV camera would follow you as people moved around on the public sidewalk. I once got into a discussion about him with other neighbors. I contended when we have a fall of government and roving hoards are looking for food, people like bunker guy will be the first to die. My neighbor, who wished he had a bunker like our other neighbor, thought bunker people would carry on for society when folks like me were dead. I disagreed.

Why?  I'm gong after bunker people and other survivalists if things get that bad..  I'll light fires under their ventilation shafts to smoke them out, get heavy equipment to dig them out--whatever.  They are going first as they're stuck. I'm forming my own roving hoard.  We'll be mobile and we'll go after people like bunker guy, who are stuck in one place. Yes we will.  Now, I don't think it's quite come to that yet. But Safeway's shelves were almost completely bare yesterday. Somebody is hoarding a hell of a lot of food. Worse yet, there's no toilet paper to be had anywhere in Tucson. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Okay, now this is getting weird

Okay, when my bank [credit union, actually] said they didn't want me coming near the place and they were locking their doors I didn't care too much.  Now I've gotten an email from my doctor. Apparently, they do not want sick people to come to the doctor's office.  I gather, if I interpret their latest email correctly, they want sick people to cancel their appointments and stay home. 

That's too bad because I wanted to go to the doctor's office and steal their toilet paper.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

what next?

Now they've closed the restaurants here in Tucson.  My bank has closed its doors as well and told us to use the ATM.  What more wonderful ideas will they have?  I've got one.  Use nuclear weapons and kill everyone in cities with confirmed cases. This will eliminate the need for people to die from Corona virus and folks can get on with their lives if they're not dead.  I still don't understand why people are hording toilet paper.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Wearing the green

I have a green shirt on today.  That's what we do on St Patrick's Day.  Many years ago I was working at a hotel and the morning people arrived and the night people [me] were about to  go home. I asked one of the morning front desk agents if she'd like a shamrock [paper] as I had a few.  She declined. "But it's St. Patrick's Day," Said I.

Well, she went off on a tangent about how the Irish were all worthless and good for nothing but fighting and drinking.  I shrugged and went home.  At some point she apparently realized I have an Irish name.  Well, the  next day she seemed to be trying to be nice to me, but found me rather chilly. Heck, I just offered her a paper shamrock.

Alas, I'm actually only about 1/4 Irish.  I don't know why some people spell it O'Reilly and my family spells it Riley.  And I don't like corned beef and cabbage very much.  But I still resented what this woman said. So there.  

Oh, some idiot on the radio last month said St. Valentine drove the snakes out of Ireland. It was St. Patrick.  And I don't like mint milkshakes, either.  They're weird and unnatural. 



Monday, March 16, 2020

Okay, but?

I realize folks have been getting confusing information from the government.  I know it's scary when faced with a virus that can lead to pneumonia leprosy and rabies.  I can see hording hand sanitizer. But I just do not understand why everyone is hording toilet paper.        

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Forms

The Census forms are out. Yay!  I've worked at previous Census operations that come along every ten years.  In fact, I worked for a while last year updating maps and address lists for the Census just getting underway. But I won't be knocking on your door when you don't return your Census form. I'm no longer involved with the Census and have no plans to ever work for them again.  It's not really a very good job.  While it's important work, I did not find working there particularly enjoyable. But that's just my opinion.  I liked working there 10 years ago, but this time I felt they were mean spirited and management was unhelpful and the overall experience lacking.  So, my job there is over and I won't be working there again.

That said, if you don't want someone knocking on your door, send in your form. It only takes a few minutes and you'll be done with it.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

All we need now are the zombies

Hmm, crash of financial markets, pandemic virus..

Things could be worse.  They still have stale doughnuts at the local convenience store.  Sure they're running out of toilet paper at the stores, but you can always use some leaves--just stay clear of poison ivy.  And there's no need to get down on the food shortages; most doctors think people could stand to lose a few pounds anyway.   Before we know it, there will be some asteroid hurling toward us and we'll have all forgotten that stupid old virus.  

Thursday, March 12, 2020

name game

I decided it was time to review my email files and update the names and such. I was simply astonished at how many of the names I had are  for people I have absolutely no idea of who they are. I don't know who these people are or why they would be in my email address files.  A big purge is coming today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Garbage

How do you know if some old guy is really old? Huh?  It's not entirely about age. It's about garbage. My 93 year old father is obsessed with garbage.  I was over at his house yesterday [Monday] and he was already talking about how much room he had left in his trash can [they pick up on Wednesday]. He also wanted to know what time they pick up at my house and I have a different trash service than he has.  I think he could easily talk about garbage all day long.  I mean, whatever makes him happy. 
He has a birthday coming up. I wish I could get him a ridealong with the trash company but they don't seem to do that.  It's a shame because he's their biggest fan.

Monday, March 9, 2020

back from con

Well, had a splendid time at Wild Wild West Con. Panels went rather wll. I didn't win the short story contest, but you can't have everything.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Gone

Through the coming weekend I'll be at Wild Wild West Con out at Old Tucson.  I do not anticipate any more blog entries until the early part of next week.  

Thursday, March 5, 2020

count 'em up!

Well, we're just days away from the census.  I was thinking back to the census 10 years ago. I worked that one in Colorado.  My friend Raymond Broadbeard was on our crew.  We had to distribute census forms as most of central Colorado has no residential mail delivery--people have to use PO Boxes.  We also tried to add and remove addresses as we went along.  Raymond found some guy who introduced himself as Harry Balls (we weren't asking names, just handing out forms and confirming addresses but some folks just introduced themselves)  I never met Harry.  With a name like that I always wondered how he got through junior high school.  Raymond was going to do a book on rare names from the census and went back to talk to Harry a few months ago. It turned out he no longer lived there.  And, since the census data can't be publicly released (the actual responses. The statistical data can be released) for 70 years, Raymond gave up on the idea.

Whatever your name is, fill out the census form.  Even if you hate the government, it's still better to fill it out. That way there won't be a census worker knocking on your door.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Straight Outta Dodge City

There's a new book in town. As some of you may know, Baen has put out a three book series of Weird Western anthologies entitled Straight Outta Tombstone, Straight Outta Deadwood and Straight Outta Dodge City.  They are edited by Denver author David Boop.  I just got my copy of Dodge City.  As of this entry I have not finished it. But, the foreword certainly caught my attention since I am mentioned in it.  This is the final paragraph of that foreword.

To David B. Riley and David Lee Summers:
I owe you both so much for leading me through the world of weird westerns.  You've had patience with me as I've struggled to get the story right.  You've supported me as an author and as a person. We've laughed together and grieved together. Your faith in me is why there are three volumes of weird western tales. You are great writers, editors, mentors, and friends. 
I dedicate this anthology to you.

Wow.  Frankly, I did not expect that.  As I said the other day about the fan mail, compliments are nice. Recognition is nice.  But I have never had a book dedicated to me.  Wow.




Monday, March 2, 2020

Something really amazing

It doesn't happen often, but every now and then I get a letter or email from someone who liked one of my books.  It's really nice when people take the trouble to do that.  This last weekend I got two emails from people who wrote that they liked my books.  It's a real pickup.  I also discovered a few reviews I had not known about and they were basically positive.  So, I was feeling rather upbeat this weekend.  


Saturday, February 29, 2020

It's Leap Day, So What

It's leap day!  I note a number of places here in Tucson are having Leap Year sales that only come around once every four years.  I don't see the point of buying anything like a new bed or furniture since we're all going to die soon from that corona virus anyway. There are some unanswered questions about this epidemic that I never hear about.  For one thing, does it affect dogs?  If the people all die, will the dogs die too or slowly starve as they're all stuck in back yards and have no way out if their owners are dead.  I wonder about things like that.

Actually, that sounds like the makings of a really cool movie plot. I better get to writing, not that anyone will still be alive to read the story. I was also going to write about  not knowing how much ketchup to buy if I'm going to die in a few weeks, but there isn't time to worry about that now.

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Wild Wild West

This time next week I plan to be attending Wild Wild West Con out at Old Tucson.  It's a Wild West Steampunk convention held out at the park every March.  This is their 9th year so it amazes me that a lot of locals have never heard of it. I've been asking people all month and most folks who live here don't seem to be aware of it.  I'm not sure why.  I knew about it when I lived in Colorado but didn't start attending until I moved here to Tucson three years ago.  Anyway, it is a lot of fun--more fun than any other con I've ever been to.  Their schedule is now out and they have a heck of a lot of stuff going on. I really look forward to this event and have found the people who attend are really a nice bunch of folks.

In my own little way I am helping those activities.  I'll be on panel discussions about Weird Westerns, Mystery in Steampunk, Magic in Steampunk and I'll also give a presentation on crackpot inventions in the 1800s.  That should keep me fairly busy.

If you make it out there stop by one of my panels and say hello.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Recipe

Came across a beef stew recipe recently.  Seriously, this was the complete recipe.

Ingredients:
Beef
Vegetables
Seasonings

Place ingredients in a kettle and cook until done.


Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Uh?

Got to go for training for poll worker duty tomorrow.  It's some special new equipment they're trying out. The Arizona primary is coming up.  I'm not sure why I'm doing this.  It's a really long day when election day rolls around.  .  

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

wonderful spring wind

Now we've got that wonderful spring wind.  There's a trash can out in front of my house. Tomorrow's trash day and a lot of folks put their cans out the night before. The problem is the can out there ain't mine. I don't know whose it is.  Maybe with luck it'll be somewhere else by morning and I won't have to deal with it.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Exchange Students

I am pleased that my story "the pupil" is in a new anthology called Exchange Students. I'd wanted to do something with my Sarah Meadows character and this opportunity came along.  Now Sarah isn't an exchange student.  She's been in a few short stories and stars in my science fiction novel Bonded Agent.  In Sarah's world Mars is an independent republic with an uneasy relationship with a very militaristic Earth.  She joins the army when Earth is at war with a reptilian race. The thing is, she's fighting on the side of the reptiles.  The new story picks up after the war. Sarah has legal problems and has hired a lawyer to help her.  This lawyer has a new pupil named Prairie Davis who comes from Earth through an exchange program to learn Martian jurisprudence.  The book releases Tuesday although it can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.  Exchange Students  edited by Sheila Hartney. Order a couple hundred copies today.

This is the book's official blurb:

Study abroad! See new places! Meet new people! In our exchange student program, you can literally study anywhere or anywhen you can imagine. We'll send you to new planets. We'll send you to new dimensions and realms of existence. We'll send you through time itself! Don't believe me? This exciting anthology contains many tales of our thrilling and educational exchange student program. You'll read tales of aliens coming to earth and humans traveling to alien worlds. You'll meet a denizen of Hell who travels to Heaven. Some students will discover their super powers on their journey. Other students will have encounters with the undead. You'll meet a law enforcement officer who travels to the realm of the fae to help solve a crime of truly interdimensional proportions. Featuring twenty-two amazing stories by Roze Albina Ches, Jaleta Clegg, Ken Goldman, Paula Hammond, Sheila Hartney, Chisto Healy, Joachim Heijndermans, Sean Jones, Tim Kane, Alden Loveshade, Tim McDaniel, J Louis Messina, Jennifer Moore, Brian Gene Olson, David B. Riley, Katherine Quevedo, Holly Schofield, Jonathan Shipley, Lesley L. Smith, Emily Martha Sorensen, Margret A. Treiber and Sherry Yuan