Friday, April 24, 2015

More government and medical BS

This will almost certainly turn into a rant, so if you don't like my might want to move along.
For a few months last year, I was on Medicaid.  The simple fact was that it was too expensive to put me on to Rebecca's insurance.  Doing that would have meant taking food from our kids' mouths.  The actual truth is that as a family of five, we could have all qualified for Medicaid, but we wanted to keep private insurance for Rebecca and the kids because we wanted to keep our regular doctor, and we felt a lot more comfortable with having the choices a private insurance company offers as opposed to having to go to a Medicaid doctor.  Plus, we weren't really looking for charity.  We believe in hard work, and we felt that we didn't need a government "hand-out," as some Republicans would call them.
So, I was on Medicaid and then I never responded to a letter that I didn't even get, so I was booted off the program.  I wasn't too worried about it.  Sure, we had to pay a small fine on our taxes, but it wasn't really a big deal.  Our income is low enough that we qualify for a lot of tax breaks, so whatever.
Now, with my health deteriorating faster than I expected, I decided I would get on Medicaid again...just in case.  I was denied because I make too much money...
Some people reading that might just shrug it off, but I work around 15 hours a week at barely above minimum wage, so how I could make too much money escapes me.  Even if you add in what I make from writing, editing, and game design, as well as what Rebecca makes, we're still well below middle class for a single person...let alone a family of five.
So, how in the hell do I not qualify?  I did some research and found out that our income is actually low enough for me to qualify, so why didn't I?  The only answer I have is that the government systems are entirely corrupt.  This isn't our first experience with these types of problems.  When the Office Depot I worked for closed and I was laid off, I tried to get unemployment, and it took me more than six months to get that.  During that time, we had to get food stamps.  There was simply no choice, but we got booted out of that program after they sent us a letter saying that someone else was living in our home...someone we'd never heard of.  Our calls and letters to the office were never returned.  Finally I got unemployment, and we let it go.  Eventually, I got off of unemployment when I was hired by OfficeMax, and just so that people understand that we aren't the type of people that abuse the system, I was making more on unemployment than I was at OfficeMax, but again, we didn't want the handout, so we decided it was better for me to be working, even if it meant our family would have to struggle more.
So, I ask again, how screwed up is this system in Colorado that I can't qualify for Medicaid when we have to struggle to pay every single bill we have?  We don't go out to eat all the time.  We don't waste money.  We don't do drugs, drink, or even smoke, and yet somehow we keep getting screwed over by the system.
At this point, I'm about ready to tell them all to go screw themselves, pay to see a doctor, and have him declare me as partially disabled (since work does cause me more pain, and I am having more and more trouble doing my job), and then collect disability until I can get surgery.  And as a disabled person, the government would probably have to help pay for the surgery, and that's going to cost them a hell of a lot more than giving me medicaid on the off chance that I might need to see a doctor...
No matter what the government says, it's always the poor that get screwed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The increasing pain

The regular followers of this blog know that I occasionally blog about my dealing with chronic pain, and this is another such blog entry.  For over a decade now, I've been dealing with pain that's caused by a reconstructive chest surgery I had when I was a teenager that has slowly been breaking down.  Unfortunately, the deterioration seems to be increasing.  It used to be that I had pain in my two lower left ribs, but now I'm beginning to have pain all through my all of the ribs and in the sternum.  It's also become painfully obvious that my sternum is collapsing further into my chest.  Although that may sound scary, it actually isn't.  The collapse is very slow, which, unfortunately, is causing me to have shortness of breath.  The odds of a rapid collapse that might puncture something are extremely small, so I'm not really worried about that.  My biggest concern is the increasing pain.
The other night at my oldest's honor band concert, I went to put my arm around Rebecca and felt a few of my ribs pop, meaning that I couldn't even put my arm around my wife to enjoy our daughter's performance.  It's now gotten to the point that I can't go out and play volleyball with the oldest, or soccer with our middle daughter, or pick up my youngest and play with her like I used to.  It's very depressing, but I know that just about anything I do can cause pain.  Last night I took a deep breath and felt a rib pop and the pain increased dramatically.
It's obvious that at some point I am going to have to have surgery to repair this, but that's not something that is even remotely feasible at this time.  I am uninsured, and the cost to put me on Rebecca's insurance right now would mean that the family would be eating ramen for a long time to come, and it would also deter our plans of getting our own house.  Hopefully she will get promoted before the next open enrollment, and that will at least make it a little easier, but such a dramatic surgery would put a real strain on us, as I would be useless for quite some time...something I would not deal well with.
Dealing with this pain, it has become quite clear to me how some people can be driven to suicide by chronic pain.  Don't worry, I'm not suicidal.  I have an amazing wife and three wonderful daughters, so I wouldn't do something like that.  I'm just saying that the pain, the feelings of uselessness, and the depression could certainly lead someone to make that decision.
For now, I just have to do whatever I can to avoid things that will cause pain, which is almost anything.  I have to take it easy when I'm cleaning the house, when I'm at my "real" job, and just about anything else.
Well, that's enough griping for now.  If you've actually read this far, thanks.  This wasn't an effort to try to get people to feel sorry for me.  I don't want that.  Sometimes, it just feels good to document these types of things for others to see.  In time, I will get this fixed and I will be out of pain.  For now...I deal...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Battle for Turtle Island on sale

For the next week, you can get the e-book version of the role playing game The Battle for Turtle Island: Buffalo Wars for 50% off…that’s just $2.50. Go to and use coupon code XF49R at checkout.
Imagine it’s the 19th century, and the colonization/conquest of the Americas is underway yet again, only this time magic is real, and the Indians have a lot more of it than the colonists. This is the world of The Battle for Turtle Island: Buffalo Wars.
The colonists may have the better weapons, but the Indians nearly double the magic of the colonists. Maybe this time the history of the Americas will be very, very different. The Battle for Turtle Island: Buffalo Wars is actually two books in one. It has the core rules for The Battle for Turtle Island RPG, which will be a series of books featuring the different parts of the Americas, and it also has the Buffalo Wars supplement which looks at the battles for the plains.
You can choose to be a Cavalry Soldier, an Arapahoe Medicine Man, a Colonist Trapper, an Apache Warrior, or any number of other classes, and your character can choose to change classes as they advance. This book contains, the character classes, the special abilities for each Indian tribe, the goods, the spells, and much more.
The only other thing you’ll need to play is some dice and a vivid imagination.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

More healthcare cost griping

The bills are starting to roll in for Rebecca's recent surgery, and once again it's time for me to gripe about healthcare costs, and the screwed up American healthcare system.  The hospital attempted to bill the insurance company over $45,000 for the procedure and recovery.  This doesn't even include an overnight stay.  She was discharged the same day.  Granted, the insurance company negotiated a lower cost, but it's ridiculous that things are this expensive.  True, a big part of medical costs are caused by frivolous malpractice lawsuits brought about by less than scrupulous people, but you can't honestly expect me to believe that it cost the hospital that much money for my wife to be there.  Even with a healthy profit margin, that's still insane.  Especially given the fact that the insurance company was able to negotiate a lower price, that shows that hospitals are overcharging.
It's also interesting to note that the insurance company is negotiating a larger percentage discount on bills now that we've paid our deductible...meaning that they have to pay 90% of the coverage.  This also tells me how corrupt the insurance companies are.
I still believe that Obamacare was a step in the right direction, but we still have a very long way to go if we want a healthcare system that truly works.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to figure out how a lower middle income family is supposed to pay our 10%. Guess I need to write some more books...

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Ephemeris Encyclopedia Galactica: Sectors Thirty-Six - Thirty-Eight

The exploration of “Unexplored Space” continues with Sectors 36-38.
There are a lot of new planets to explore in these sectors, and there are places that have even been colonized, some of which see almost constant war.  There are the remains of more Glikth-machine wars, and a species that has only recently died.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Rebecca's recovery

We've been home for a few days since Rebecca's surgery, and her recovery is progressing slowly.  Her pain levels have finally dropped off to something a little more manageable, especially since she stopped taking the pain meds.  They seem to have been giving her very serious headaches and neck pain.  She has had a low grade fever from time to time, but nothing that points to an infection, but I'm still keeping a close eye on her...and she'd probably say too close of an eye.
She is now able to get up and move around a lot easier without my help, so she definitely seems to be on the road to recovery.
There's been a cold circulating through the house, and I have some of  the early signs of it.  I have a feeling that as soon as I'm sure she's out of danger from infection, I will probably drop and be sick for days,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The fear is beginning to set in

We are now just a few days away from Rebecca's gallbladder surgery, and although this surgery is very routine, and it's done all the time, it's still surgery.  There is always that chance that something could go wrong, and this is becoming very "real" for all of us.
It's only been a little over a year since she lost another brother, and given the number of people that have passed in the science fiction/fantasy community over the last year (both writers and fans), including people that I considered at least good acquaintances, if not actual friends, it makes the fear that much more real.
Add to this the passing of a former co-worker just a few weeks ago, a lady who we called the Den Mother because she always tried to take care of all of us, and the fact that a very dear friend checked himself into a hospital last week because he was suicidal, makes death a very real aspect in our lives right now.
We all realize that gallbladder surgery is nothing like brain or heart surgery, but there's still that big "what if?"  Rebecca's not just my wife and the mother of my children, she is, without a doubt, the best friend that I've ever had, and the thought of losing her is terrifying.
Add to this the fact that the kids are worried about her, and a couple of them are acting out in different ways is just making things that much harder.
I realize that almost certainly in a week's time I'll be looking back at this post and thinking how silly it was to be this nervous...but for the moment, the fear is beginning to set in, and that's more real.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

E-book sale: Taurin Tales

Borrowed from Nomadic Delirium Press:
During this week's e-book sale, you can get Taurin Tales from Smashwords for just $2.  Go to A HREF="" target="_blank">
and use coupon code ZQ47N at checkout.
Taurin Tales is a shared world anthology featuring some of the top names in small press science fiction. The Taurins were created by science fiction writer, editor, and game designer J Alan Erwine. Once he had created them, he invited some of his favorite writers to play in the universe, and further flesh out these new aliens. Thus was born Taurin Tales.
The stories in this collection cover a large aspect of Taurin life…grand space adventures, small character studies, the tackling of difficult social issues, the past and the future of the Taurins.
Included in this collection, you’ll find David Lee Summers, D. Moonfire, Ian Brazee-Cannon, Tyree Campbell, Anna Paradox, Laura Givens, and Rick Novy.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Happy 14th

Today was Eryn's 14th birthday.  It's hard to believe how much she's growing up..  When Rebecca and I first started dating, Eryn was just in Kindergarten, and now she's about to start high school.  Tonight she was also inducted into the National Junior Honors Society.  She's turning into my overachiever, and I'm very proud of her.  She's getting good grades, she was on the A team in volleyball, and she's participating a lot in everything at school.
Happy 14th Eryn!!!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

GM's Day Sale

Through the end of the week, DriveThruRPG is running a GM's Day sale to celebrate those gamers that make gaming possible. We've joined in the sale, and we're offering all of our Ephemeris products for 30% off. Now's the time to stock up on all of the titles you haven't had a chance to pick up, or if you haven't started's the time!

Book sale

Alban Lake Publishing has three of my books on sale through March 17th.  You can pick each of them up for just $8 each.
You can get A Problem in Translation by going to
You can get Where the Fleet of Stars is Anchored by going to
You can get Red Moon Rising by going to

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

The disappearing middle class

There has been a lot of talk about the disappearing middle class in America.  After doing our taxes last month, I can attest that the middle class is most certainly disappearing.  We are middle class, or at least lower middle class, and every year becomes more and more of a struggle for us.  When we first moved in together, I left my fast food management job, but Rebecca kept her full time retail supervisor's job.  Those first years were difficult for us, but we got by...even if just barely.
Now, almost seven years later, Rebecca is still a full time retail supervisor, I'm now working part time as a retail supervisor, and I'm making more than ever from writing, editing, and game design, and we aren't making ends meet.  The simplest explanation is that the cost of everything is rising dramatically, while our incomes are not.  When we get our annual raises, we get 2-3%, but the cost of everything is rising much higher than that.  Our rent goes up about 5% annually, and everything else follows suit.  It's no wonder that people making middle class income, especially lower middle class income are struggling more and more each year.  We can't keep up with rising costs, and as long as pay rates stay low and don't increase accordingly, all of us in the middle class will continue to struggle.
That's enough economics for today.  Off to do some work...have to make some money somehow...

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Ephemeris Encyclopedia Galactica: Sectors 33-35

The exploration of “Unexplored Space” continues with Sectors 33-35.
You'll find more new colonies for your group to explore, and lots of places that have not been explored by any of the current eleven species.  The remnants of the Glikth-machine wars litter two of these sectors, and there's a new species that has not reached interstellar space.  Will they survive, or will someone like the Culthan come along and exploit them?

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Happy birthday, Jul

Today is Juliah's tenth birthday.  I now have the three T's in my house...a teen, a tween, and a toddler.  No wonder my hair is going gray so fast!  When I first met Jul, she was even younger than Lex is now, and here she is a 4th grader and a tween.  Today we're going to the zoo for their free day and then having a small party.
I can't wait to see who she becomes as she grows up.

Monday, February 02, 2015

My jury duty experience

Many of my Facebook followers probably know that I was one of the "lucky" 9,000 to receive a jury summons for the upcoming trial of the Aurora theater shooting, or "Suspect A" as the local news media is calling him because they don't want to glorify his name...which is one of the few rational things I've seen from the news media in a long time.
I've now been dismissed from the trial, so I can actually talk about my experience, which still seems a bit surreal.  As always, the first thing we had to do was go through the metal detectors.  We were then given our badges with our juror numbers and sent to the second floor of the building.  Once there, we again had to empty our pockets, and this time the deputies actually searched through our stuff.  We were then sent to a small courtroom where we sat for something like 90 minutes, constantly being told to keep our phones turned off, even though we weren't actually doing anything.
They then escorted all of us (and I'd guess there were 150-200 of us) to a larger courtroom.  As we walked in we were pointed to seats.  Somehow I had the "good fortune" of being sent to the jurors box.  As I approached the box, I could see all of the prosecuting attorneys, all of the defense attorneys, and then I saw HIM.  Suspect A was there.  This was one of those cliched moments where my flesh crawled and my stomach did somersaults.  I've written those words before, but I'd never quite felt that feeling as strongly as I did that day.  I've never been that close (10-15 feet) to a mass murderer.  My seat in the jury box gave me a perfect view of him, and at one time I'm pretty sure we made eye contact, although he was trying to look detached...obviously trying to play up the insanity defense.
Once we were sworn in, we took a recess, and then we had to fill out a long questionnaire on a wide variety of topics (by this time he'd been removed and hopefully sent back to his hole).  The questionnaire, I'm sure is what disqualified me.  I have kids to take care of, I can't take 4-6 months off from work, I'm opposed to the death penalty, and I understand the difference between mentally ill and insane, which they seemed to be using interchangeably, even though they shouldn't.
Now I've been dismissed, and I couldn't be happier!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Ephemeris Encyclopedia Galactica: Sectors 30-32

The exploration of “Unexplored Space” continues with Sectors 30-32.

There are more young colonies to be explored, and even some well established ones.  There are more remnants of the Glikth-machine war, and even a few abandoned Organic colonies.  Plus there are other mysteries, including a possible solution to the greatest danger that faces travelers of Hyperspace...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The frustrations of writing

Last night I started on a new story, and it was going really well.  I managed to get 1,500 words written, which is good considering I have three kids, but then I suddenly realized I had done the one thing that authors hate most...or maybe it's one of the many things authors hate most.  I'd painted myself into a corner, with no way to get out.  Somehow I'd gone left when the story should have gone right.
I had no choice but to go back and cut some of the story out...going all the way back to where I first detoured.  So, when all was said and done, the 1,500 words I'd written became 350.  Oh well, I can still work with what I have.  I'll just be more careful to stick with the original idea...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar is here

The book is finally here! You can order your copy, print or electronic, today from a wide variety of sources.
A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar is a serious literary work of science fiction and fantasy stories that looks to delve into...who are we trying to kid? This book is a collection of comedic science fiction and fantasy stories written by some truly talented authors.
The book includes stories from Francis W. Alexander, Lou J. Berger, Wayne Carey, James Dorr, Laura Givens, Alan Ira Gordon, John Grey, Carlos Hernandez, Gilda A. Herrera, Ahmed A. Khan, Sheryl Normandeau, Robert Lowell Russell, John Skylar, Glen R. Stripling, and Scott Virtes.
You'll be taken to alien bars, alien planets, and any funny place these authors could come up with. You'll meet meddling appliances, aliens with strange habits, and aliens trying to live on or visit Earth. There are even time flies and a cloned genius. This collection has everything you need to tickle your funny bone.
Order from Nomadic Delirium Press:
Order from Smashwords:
Order from Amazon:
Order from Barnes & Noble:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Ephemeris Encyclopedia Galactica: Sector Twenty-Nine

The exploration of “Unexplored Space” continues with Sector 29.
Sector 29 is one of the more heavily colonized sectors of “Unexplored Space,” with the Althani and the Ernya stretching deep into this system. In addition to their expanding colonies, you’ll also find more Glikth and machine colonies that have been destroyed for centuries. Plus there are other species living in this sector, and one that was living until only recently…

Thursday, January 08, 2015

One week to go in the pre-sale

There's just one week left in the pre-sale for A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar...
A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar is a serious literary work of science fiction and fantasy stories that looks to delve into...who are we trying to kid? This book is a collection of comedic science fiction and fantasy stories written by some truly talented authors.
The book includes stories from Francis W. Alexander, Lou J. Berger, Wayne Carey, James Dorr, Laura Givens, Alan Ira Gordon, John Grey, Carlos Hernandez, Gilda A. Herrera, Ahmed A. Khan, Sheryl Normandeau, Robert Lowell Russell, John Skylar, Glen R. Stripling, and Scott Virtes.
You'll be taken to alien bars, alien planets, and any funny place these authors could come up with. You'll meet meddling appliances, aliens with strange habits, and aliens trying to live on or visit Earth. There are even time flies and a cloned genius. This collection has everything you need to tickle your funny bone.
Order from us:
Order the e-book from Smashwords:
Order from Amazon:
Order from Barnes & Noble:

Monday, January 05, 2015

New Year, New Game

DriveThruRPG is running a sale for the next week called "New Year, New Game," and the Ephemeris RPG is part of the sale. You can pick it up for 15% off the regular price by going to

Thursday, January 01, 2015

No sale

A couple of days ago I wrote about finishing a story for an anthology that I'd been invited to contribute to.  It turns out that the editor actually liked the story.  Unfortunately, he didn't receive enough submissions to actually publish the anthology, so the story is homeless.
Earlier today, I re-wrote the first line of the story, which was completely necessary as the story started with a very cliched line (which it actually had to have for the anthology), and sent it on its way.  Now it will start to make its way from magazine to magazine until someone actually decides they like it enough to publish it.  I'm confident that this will happen at some point...but what that magazine will be is hard to say.

December recap

One week to go
$265 to go
The Space Bar pre-sale has begun
$240 to go
$120 to go
Last chance
Thank you!
Don't forget to pre-order your copy of A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar
Cutting it close
2014 in review

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in review

Another year is coming to an end, so I suppose I should take a look back at this year, although I might not want to.  From a professional standpoint, I didn't do anywhere near as much writing as I would have like to this year.  I started several stories, and I even started a new novel, but I only finished two stories.  The simple fact is that I don't have enough time to write.  At the moment, our financial situation is a bit grim, which means I have to focus more on editing and game design because I see the money from those endeavors more quickly than I do from writing.
As an editor, I saw the release of Taurin Tales this year, and I also completed A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar, which will be released in just over two weeks. And from the game design perspective, I wrote a lot of supplements for the Ephemeris RPG. Most of these were written early in the year before I had to go back into the "real" work world.
On a personal level, 2014 was mostly a good year.  The kids continue to grow and I'm very proud of most of the things they're doing.  Marriage is still bliss.  I couldn't ask for a better partner to navigate the harshness of reality with.
The biggest downer of the year has been our deteriorating financial situation.  Alexis had surgery early in the year, and even though she was insured, the bills have been outrageous.  We're still paying a little bit each month, and hoping to keep them off of our backs until we get our tax return.  We quickly learned that just one of us working wasn't enough to pay our bills, so I had to go back into the "real" work world.  Rebecca is still hoping to get promoted at some point in the coming year, but until then, things will be a struggle.  Sadly, rent and other bills go up by a much larger percentage than the annual raise she saw...and that's how it always seems to be.  This, to me, seems to be the main reason why we're seeing a shrinking of the middle class.
2015 will hopefully be a good year, we have big plans...we just have to come up with the means to make all of those plans a reality...
Happy New Year, everyone. See you in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cutting it close

At the end of October, I was asked to submit a story for an upcoming anthology.  The deadline for the story was Dec. 31st.  I just finished the story and sent it off.  Needless to say, I cut this one close.  This story was a bit of a departure from what I usually write, so I'm not sure how it will go over, but I'm certainly hoping it gets accepted.
I'll let everyone know at some point in the future...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Don't forget to pre-order your copy of A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar

The pre-sale for A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar is in full swing now, and you can order the e-book or the print version from a wide variety of places.  Here are a few, but any bookstore should be able to get it for you...
Order from Nomadic Delirium Press
Order from Smashwords
Order from Amazon
Order from Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thank you!

Copied from the Nomadic Delirium Press blog:
We wanted to thank everyone for supporting our Kickstarter for A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar.  The project was successfully funded, and we are all very grateful for that.  Even if you weren't able to help financially, but you reposted our links, we appreciate that as well.  Every little bit helps.
I'm sure the authors would like to thank you as well, since this means that the book is that much closer to making a profit, which means more money for them.
Thanks again!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Last chance

Today is your last chance to back our Kickstarter for A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar. Pledge soon:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

$120 to go

The Kickstarter for A Robot, a Cyborg, and a Martian Walk into a Space Bar ends Sunday night, and we only need an additional $120.  This is very doable, so any last minute pledges would be greatly appreciated!