Monday, April 30, 2007

The Page 69 test

Apparently this is something that has been going around the web for a while, although I just became aware of it after reading about it on Robert Sawyer's blog. The idea is that if you're interested in a book, you pick it up and read page 69, and that should tell you if it's worth reading. I tried it with my book, and found that it actually does give a lot of important details, and might just intrigue enough people to buy, here's page 69 of The Opium of the People...

Edward 4:1

“How much have things changed at the lab?” Edward asked.
His friend Bill smiled a half smile. His weathered black face showing some of the life it once had. “We’re still doing research, but it’s nothing like we used to.”
“What do you mean?”
“Edward,” his friend said glancing around, “Do you really think we should be talking about this? Didn’t you just get interrogated a couple of days ago?”
Edward waved his hand in the air. “They can’t arrest me for asking innocent questions.” Bill just looked at him. Edward laughed. “Okay, maybe they can, but I think it’s alright.”
He glanced around as well. The street was well lit and fairly crowded. It was market day, and many of the vendors had yet to pack up their belongings for the evening. People walked around in their most colorful clothes, laughing and smiling as if all was right in the world. The vendors called out the names of their goods in loud voices trying to drown out the competition. Many of the items being sold were useless in Edward’s opinion. How many different types of prayer beads could one person own? Some of the vendors brought food items in from the country. There was nothing like farm grown chickens or milk from a hand-milked cow. Edward noticed a man in a black uniform two stalls behind them, looking over some fabric. As Edward watched, the man glanced up and looked right at Edward and his friend.
“Maybe it isn’t safe.”
Bill followed Edward’s gaze. He shook his head and sighed. “They don’t hide most of their research from the public, so we can talk about that. I wouldn’t talk about the top secret stuff anyway.”

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The world is stranger than any writer could ever dream up...

I heard a strange story today that just proves to me that the world doesn't make sense.

Many many many years ago there was a reporter at a Denver TV station named Bill O'Reilly...that's right, THAT Bill O'Reilly. This was right around the time that TV stations were first starting to make a big deal out of live shots.

It would seem that a recent study showed that Aspen had the highest cocaine use in all of Colorado, so this station sent O'Reilly to Aspen to do a report on it. Live on TV, standing in front of a very expensive house, O'Reilly made a comment that seemed to imply that the owner of the house might be trafficking cocaine.

Now, the owner of the house was a very rich man (obviously), and he used his power to get O'Reilly fired. None of this might strike you as strange, obviously O'Reilly is good at saying things he shouldn't say, but where it gets strange is when the owner of the house is revealed...

...the owner was Rupert Murdoch...that's right, the man who owns Fox. The very network that runs O'Reilly's propaganda show...

Truth really is stranger than fiction!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Where do the mousies go?

This is a major change in subject from where I've been...and maybe it's a question that Keith or Jim or any of the other cat owners can answer for me.

I often give my cat these little toy mice to play with. She throws them in the air, bats them around, and generally practices her hunting techniques. She often walks through the house carrying them in her mouth like she's just come back with the greatest kill of her life. Sometimes, she'll even play cat fetch with me. For those of you not familiar with cat fetch, here's how it works. I throw the mouse. She runs and gets it. Then she brings it back to me and drops it just beyond my fetch.

Now my question is: What happens to these things? After a few days of playing with them, they disappear...never to be seen again. She's an indoor cat, so I know she's not taking them outside. I've searched every place I can think of, but I can never find them. They're not something she can eat, so I know that's not where they're going. So, where are they?

Sometimes I think cats have a connection to another dimension that we humans are just too stupid to find...maybe that's where they go...

The Video

Here is the video I referenced in the last post...

People believe what they want

Recently, Bill O'Reilly had Richard Dawkins on. Dawkins is one of the premiere evolutionary scientists in the world, and O'Reilly assaulted him with his usual closed mindedness. I have to admit that he wasn't as acerbic as I might have expected...but his basic argument was that he believes what he believes, and Dawkins believes what he believes...even though Dawkins was trying to make some legitimate points.

The one thing that really teed me off about the discussion was O'Reilly made the claim that Hitler was an Atheist...basically implying that this Godlessness was the reason for why the Nazi party did the things it did. Since that time, I've seen a lot more rhetoric on the Net echoing this idea. It's basically a matter of people hearing someone they believe and respect (O'Reilly), and accepting his word as gospel...if you'll excuse my use of that word.

The truth is that Hitler was a Christian, and even when Dawkins tried to point this out, O'Riley dismissed it. As evidence, I give you this...

I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. [Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 46]

I know a lot of atheist, and I can't imagine any of them saying something along those lines...although I can hear a lot of the more radical Christians saying these kinds of things...

It's pathetic that people just want to believe whatever they hear, and then accept that as what is right in the world. Nine times out of ten, if I hear something that fits with my worldview, I'll at least double check to make sure it's's really not that hard, but Americans tend to be herd animals, and only want to accept things that fit into their small, narrow view of the world. Thus the reason why we're in the situation we now find ourselves in.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why Can't I Buy a Canadian?

Someone posted this as a MySpace bulletin, and I thought it was worth re-posting it here...don't take offense at the title, Jim...

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.
The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by an East Coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15 :19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Possible habitable planet found

Again, the title of this entry will take you to an article about an extra-solar planet that has been discovered that could be habitable. There's still a lot of research that needs to be done, but this is the first possibly habitable planet ever I thought I'd make a big deal out of it..., go back to worrying about the fascists...

10 steps to fascism

The title of this entry links to a great article that goes through step by step what past governments have done to institute a fascist government, and then it shows how the Bush administration is doing the same thing.

Any of the items listed in the article may not seem like anything to worry about when looked at in an isolated manner, but when you look at them as a whole, it's pretty obvious that we're in I've been saying for quite some time.

Wait is that a knock at the door? Maybe it's the NSA......................

Monday, April 23, 2007

Opium Reviewed

Quality Book Reviews has just posted a review of my novel, The Opium of the People. Click on the subject of this entry, and it will take you right to the review. It's not a bad review. They genuinely seemed to enjoy the book, other than some typos...but what book doesn't have typos anymore? Sadly, they're even creeping into the major publishers books more and more often...

Yet another sale

After a period of drought, I'm suddenly having a pretty good run on sales of late. My short story "Hunted" will appear in the March 2008 issue of Tales of the Talisman. This will be my second appearance in Tales of the Talisman. My first story, "The Ancient Ones," appeared in the March 2006 issue. Before ToT was born, Dave Summers had a magazine called Hadrosaur Tales, and I had a story in issue 20, which was the last issue. Hadrosaur was a great little digest magazine, but I really love the look of Tales. It's a full-sized glossy zine with amazing artwork from Laura Givens.

Now I'd better get to writing some more short stories because I'm starting to run out...

I'm a pixo-stained technopeasant wretch

For those of you who have been following the controversy at the SFWA, I've decided to contribute as well. You can read my contribution at my on the title of this entry, and it will take you right over to it.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

My modeling debut...sort of...

Most of you that have been reading here for a while will remember that a few weekends ago, one of my friends and I went on a photo shoot with the phenomenal local artist Laura Givens. She's created some new works using those photos, and you can see them by clicking on the title of this blog.

I'm in "Hair of the Dog" and "By Fire and Steel."

My friend Vik is the ninja-geisha in "Rites of Spring."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Job Hunt

For those of you keeping track, the job hunt is not going far. Keith pointed out some places to look, so maybe that will help. Here's a basic break down of the problems I've been having...

The jobs that I'd really like to do require a degree in English...mine's in psychology, and they don't seem to be equal...

The jobs that I'd be willing to do are either on the other side of town or they require a "professional" appearance. The problem with jobs on the other side of town is that I don't drive...never have, probably never will...and I'm not really willing to commute two to three hours by bus for a job. The professional appearance is the bigger problem...that usually means short hair for men. For those who have never actually seen what I look like, my hair is about half way down my back, and I have no plans on cutting it...but I will keep applying.

At this point, it looks like I'm going to get stuck with a job in food or retail...I'm hoping for retail...

Search inside Opium

It's taken a lot longer than it was supposed to, but Amazon now has it set up so you can search inside my novel The Opium of the People. Simply click on the title of this entry, and it will take you there. You can get a little taste before you decide to buy it...because you know you want to...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Can we just pretend that this week never happened?

The last week, eight days, whatever it's been, have just sucked. I hate that word, but I really don't feel like trying to come up with something different.

First we lost Kurt Vonnegut, then I find out that one of my old friends is in prison for a horrible crime, then Virginia Tech, then last night was just the topper. One of the twins cats was hit by a car. How are you supposed to explain that to a six year old? Especially when you're not even around...

I just wish I could have stayed under the covers all week and ignored the world.

And don't even get me started on the job search...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Beware of the quiet loner!

The media keeps portraying the V-Tech shooter...he doesn't deserve to have his name a quiet, loner that wrote disturbing works. They seem to think that that is the reason for why he did what he did.

Let me introduce myself, I'm a quiet guy who usually only talks when he really feels he has something to say. I live alone...just me and my cat. Often times I'd be perfectly content to stay home for days on end without talking to people. I don't really have a need for social interaction except on the rarest of occasions. Dark fiction...have you ever read my stuff? People die in my stories all the time; sometimes even the main character...and I also like to use torture in my fiction.

Based on what the media is saying, I must be someone that should be watched out for. Bullshit! I'm a firm believer in Issac Asimov's quote from Foundation: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." I'm one of the least violent people you could ever meet. The fact that there are several Subway customers and employees still alive should attest to that fact! If by some freak of nature I should ever decide that I need to kill myself, believe me, I will only take myself out...after I found a home for my cat...

Now, from the completely morbid side of my brain...and this is pretty tasteless, so you might want to skip it:

I just read that between the two shootings, the gunman went to the post office to mail some stuff to NBC...I guess that explains why it took him two hours to get to the other side of the campus.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hate Mail

I've just received my first official hate mail as an author. I guess this means that people are beginning to take notice of me as an author...but I think I could have done without this kind of notice.

Here is the text of the message...the spelling is his...

"Your book sucks! I can't believe anybody would write this kind of trash. It's obvius that your just an atheist asshole who wants to ignore everything that God teaches us and try to make us think like you.
Why don't you go back to Irak with the rest of your kind.
It should be illegal to write anything that gos against the word of God, and you should be arrested or killed for writing this.
Hope you enjoy your time burning in hell."

Originally, I'd thought about responding, but instead, I decided to pass this on to my webhost and let them take care of it.

I think it would be safe to say that this person has never read my book. My main reason for saying this is because the book is not about atheism. In fact, nobody is labeled as an atheist in the book. The three main protagonists are Jewish, Taoist, and Pantheist. The book was written about fundamentalism...I just chose Christianity because it seemed the most plausible in the United States.

Hopefully this will be the last hate mail I ever get because to be totally honest, this is a bit disconcerting...

And now for something completely different...

I had been considering another post about what happened at VT, especially in light of the fact that science fiction author Michael Bishop's son was among the victims, but instead, I've decided to do something a little lighter. I'll let the darkness inhabiting my soul right now come out in my fiction instead.

I rarely talk about other writer's works on here, but I decided I would make a brief mention of Tyree Campbell's new novel The Dog at the Foot of the Bed. I'm not going to do a review or anything...I rarely read reviews, and it's even more rare that I actually write them. If memory serves, I've only written one during my career.

For a very brief time, I was trying to start a literary agency, which was a very bad idea since I hate marketing my own stuff...why would I want to do it for someone else? Simply put, James Baker had asked me to, and it was always very hard to say no to him. So, Dog was one of the books I was trying to sell. I didn't have any luck, but it wasn't because the book is bad (it's actually great), but more because I was a bad agent...that's why I got out of the business.

From the back cover: Sixteen years ago the Shannen children were attacked and their home was destroyed. The oldest...twins Ovin and Siobhan...barely managed to whisk their siblings away to the safety of a remote planet. Seeking revenge for the attack, Ovin became a hired assassin, while Siobhan entered corporate security service to bring about law and order...and to bring Ovin to justice.

Now someone is trying to kill the Shannens again. And another threat has surface: a terrible new weapon is cracking planets open like nuts and destroying them...a weapon that could be used on the Shannens' new home. Ovin has to find out who is behind these murderous projects and stop them...but in order to find out who, he first has to discover why...and he's going to need Siobhan's help to do it.

But if he succeeds, he could lose his twin forever.

"Campbell's novel is a guessing game that will keep you wrong-footed until the last page."-Edward Cox, UK reviewer.

From me, this is a great book, and you should really read it...sure, it's not profound, but who cares?

If you'd like to order a copy, you can order it from The Genre Mall.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Why it can be hard to be a science fiction writer

If you don't like down and out and depressing entries, skip this one!!!

I'm often asked if it's hard to come up with ideas. The answer to this is, no, it's not hard. What can be hard is coming up with plausible ideas. I like for my SF to have a ring of truth to it, and given what's going on in the world right now, it's hard to come up with plausible ideas because, quite simply, I'm really beginning to doubt that the human race has a future.

More than 30 people were massacred on an American college campus today. People are blowing themselves up in Iraq for political (read that as religious) purposes...meanwhile, our government continues to wage a crusade against Muslim nations. Notice that I didn't say wage a war...I said wage a crusade. Other than the obvious economic reasons (oil) for us to wage war on these countries, the main reason we're over there is for religious reasons. As always, I'm just spouting opinion, but I think there's some truth to these opinions.

Bush and the neo-cons are highly religious individuals...even evangelical, and they are doing whatever they can to wage war against a rival religion. As many of you know, I'm an atheist, and basically have no use for religion. If someone wants to believe in some kind of higher power, that's their choice...just don't force your beliefs on me...and that's what's starting to happen in this country. Various school systems are trying to implement the teaching of "intelligent" design, while trying to ban anything that has to do with evolution. I read today that a school system in Kansas banned Pokemon because of its evolutionary overtones. I don't know enough about Pokemon to know what in the hell they're talking about...but there it is.

I'm more than a little curious to find out what the reasoning for the attacks in Virginia were, but it makes you wonder where people are safe anymore? We had a school shooting here in Colorado last year, and then there was the shooting at the Amish school. What's wrong with people?

A long time ago, a friend told me something that has stuck with me...I'm not really sure if it was his quote...he was a bright guy, but this sounds too profound for him. We had been discussing the fall of the Roman Empire, and we'd basically agreed that there were no longer any barbarians to come over the hills. To which he responded, "When there are no longer barbarians to come over the hills, a society will create its own." That's exactly what has happened. The United States has abandoned so many of the ideals that made us at least somewhat of a great nation, and has instead decided to embrace, religion, Brittney Spears, and American Idol.

This country is in serious decline, and sadly, much of the rest of the world wants to be just like us.

This, my dear readers, is why I find it hard to be a science fiction writer. How are you supposed to write about the future, when there probably won't be one?

More cycling geekdom

There are at least one or two people that read here that are actually interested in cycling, so I thought I'd at least post something more for them.

Yesterday's Paris-Roubaix looked like it was a great race, but the coverage on Versus left a lot to be desired. All totaled, they showed about half an hour of the race, and the race is about six hours long, so you can kind of fill in the pieces as to just how bad the coverage was. They showed about six sections of pave (bad cobbles) and the finish. They would go to commercial breaks and then come back 30 km further into the race. The announcers had recorded their coverage from France live, so the problem was obviously with the editing. Several years ago they showed it live, and that was still the best coverage I've ever seen of the race.

Usually the race is cold, and often times wet, which devastates the field, but yesterday was the hottest Paris-Roubaix on record, and the race has been run since 1898. The week before they had one of the hottest Ronde Van Vlanderaan ever...makes you wonder.

At least Stewart O'Grady won...he's been deserving of this kind of victory for quite some time...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Less depressing news

While out shopping with Vik and Josh today, one of the twins called me to tell me that she'd lost her first tooth! It's a momentous day for her!

People change

I got a MySpace message from my friend Spencer this morning, and I'd have to say that I'm still kind of reeling from it. When we were in high school, we had a friend, who we'll call "D." Now D was a nice kid...shy, kind of quiet...a little weird (but so were most of my friends.) He was one of those people you knew you could always count on, provided his mother would actually let him out of the house.

The message was a link to information about D's criminal record. Apparently he was arrested for attempted sexual assault! It's still hard for me to believe, because he never really seemed like the type, but I guess it shows you that people can and do change over time. It also makes you realize that everyone is capable of violence. No matter how much we've evolved, there's still enough of the wild in us that we can be capable of horrible acts against one another. Most of us are able to control those urges, but they're always right there below the surface.

Maybe that's why as a writer, I like to create characters that are flawed. Many of my protagonists seem to be on the verge of doing something horrible almost all the time.

As I think about D, I wonder how much of this is a result of the way he was brought up. His mother was domineering and tried to control almost every aspect of his life. Maybe if she would have lightened up a bit and let him live, he wouldn't have turned out this way. Still, no matter what his mother did, it was still his choice to commit this crime, and as a result he bares all responsibility for it.

I'm still in shock!

The Locus Poll closes tomorrow

I posted this a while ago, but since tomorrow's the last day to vote, I figured I'd post it again...Click on the title of this blog to vote...

Locus Magazine has opened up its annual readers' poll, and this year, we've decided we're going to try to make a dent in it. The chances of us winning in any category are pretty slim because this is a MAJOR award, and most of the candidates are BIG NAMED writers. Still, Tyree and I have always had a little Don Quixote in we're going to make a run for it, and at least try to get some recognition for Sam's Dot!
Below you will find a ballot that we've put together that we'd like to encourage you to follow. The main difference between this and the P&E poll is 1) It's a lot harder to stuff the ballot box on this one, and 2) The only nominations that appear on the ballot are those that came from the magazine...which means that you have to do a write-in for all of these nominations. It's kind of difficult, and time consuming, but if you love Sam's's worth it. The ballot we put together contains mostly people and stories from Sam's Dot, but if we had extra room, we also tried to come up with some names of people we like as well...
One final note, you can vote for up to five in each topic, and the ballot below lists people basically in the order that we came up with them, not necessarily in the order that we think they belong (so no hurt feelings if you think you're better than someone ahead of you.)
SF Novel:
1) Friends in Dark Places by John Bushore
Best First Novel:1) Friends in Dark Places by John Bushore
2) Forbidden Cargo by Rebecca Rowe
Best Novella:
1) The Battle for Newhome by Terry Hickman
2) Urbania by L.A. Story Houry
3) Tower to Heaven by David Wright
Best Short Story:
1) Generation Gap by Tyree Campbell
2) Points of Departure by Jennifer Crow
3) Abstinence by Sarah Kelderman
4) An Asteroid by Any Other Name by David Lee Summers
5) Entropy by J Alan Erwine
Best Magazine:
1) Aoife’s Kiss
2) Beyond Centauri
3) The Martian Wave
4) The Fifth Di…
5) Champagne Shivers
Best Book Publisher:
1) Sam’s Dot Publishing
2) Nomadic Delirium Press
3) LBF Books
4) Apex Publishing
5) Perplexed Puffin Press
Best Anthology:
1) Erwine-Ecotastrophe
2) Campbell-Esperance
3) Erwine-Just Because
4) Campbell-Bondage
5) Erwine-Wondrous Web Worlds Vol. 5
Best Single Author Collection:
1) Flashing the Dark by Bruce Boston
2) Long Way Home by R.D. Robbins
Best Editor:
1) Tyree Campbell
2) J Alan Erwine
3) Cathy Buburuz
4) Teri Santitoro
5) Terrie Leigh Relf
Best Artist:
1) Laura Givens
2) Marge Simon
3) 7ARS
4) Jolene Flasher
5) Anselmo Alliegro

Friday, April 13, 2007

Even more on Kurt

Denver sports writer Woody Paige even commented on Vonnegut's death. Click on the title of this blog and you can see what he had to say...there's a nice twist for those of you in Denver...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More on Kurt

People who watch sports are upset when an athlete they like dies. The same is true for people who watch movies when an actor dies. But for those of us who read, I think losing one of our favorite authors might be harder. The reason I say this is because we actually get to know that person a little. No matter how hard an author tries to keep themselves out of their writing, there's always a part of them in there. Their viewpoint, a bit of characterization, something that is them...and the more you read of that author, the more you see the similarities, and the more you're able to piece together a little of who that person is. I don't think people get that same connection with an athlete or an actor...unless of course they actually get to meet them, and get to know the real person.

Maybe I never met Kurt Vonnegut, but he certainly left an impression on me, and who knows maybe he even helped to form a little of who I am...I know he did as a writer.

I've read a few other postings about him that I'd like to direct you to...

David Louis Edelman's blog

Keith Graham's great story

Jim Van Pelt's LiveJournal story

So it goes

This is a video I found on YouTube. It's not put together very well, but I still found it interesting. I'll have more to say later...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five and many other great novels died Wednesday apparently as a result of head injuries suffered in a fall a few weeks ago.

His writing has played a huge role in my development as an author. I've always been a fan of satire, and in my opinion, no one did it better than him. He was once quoted as saying, "I will say anything to be funny, often in the most horrible situations," and for anyone who knows me...they can see why this man's writing would appeal to my sick and twisted view of the world.

Vonnegut, along with about a dozen authors, are probably the reason why I became a writer...but now you have one less person to blame personally.

Vonnegut will be sorely missed...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Just because I'm a cycling geek

I decided to go with something a little different this time. Some of you might know that I'm a huge cycling fan. I'm into European Road Racing like most Americans are into football. I used to race as a fact, one of the guys who now rides in Europe (once finished 3rd in the Tour de France), Bobby Julich, is a guy who used to kick my butt all over the Rocky Mountains.

Anyway, I decided to post a cool video I found about cycling...

...and since this weekend is the biggest one day race of the year, Paris-Roubaix, I decided to post a little video about the most notorious section of cobblestones in that race. The riders have to go through the Arenberg fact, the road they're riding on was first laid down by the army of Napoleon...

The wait is over!!!

That's right, folks...we finally know who the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby is!!

Now, my next question, who really cares? This is the top news story? It's entirely possible that the US is planning on attacking Iran soon, global warming might be destroying the planet, there's genocide in Darfur, natural disasters all over the world, and this is what people are talking about?

What happened to people caring about real things?

I'm quickly going into bitter mode when it comes to the human race...must be time to crank out another satirical short story...

For now I leave you...just to keep all of you from feeling my wrath...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Amazon Reviews

I've noticed a trend lately where some writers try to plug their novels by pointing out all of the great reviews they're getting on Amazon. Inevitably, most of the writers doing this have had their books published by a vanity of those groups that charges you a ton of money so they can publish your book, and rarely do you make that money back.

It's ridiculous to use Amazon reviews as a way of promoting your book. The main reason is that anybody can post a review on their site. So, all an author has to do is go out and get all of their friends to say nice things, and all of a sudden the book is rated five out of five stars, but that doesn't really tell you anything. On the flip side of this, if you piss someone off, they can go to your book's page and pan it, and then they can get all of their friends to do that as well...and yes, this really does happen.

I'll admit that I'm glad to see that one person has reviewed The Opium of the People, and given it five stars, but that doesn't really mean anything to me. For all I know, this might have been a friend of mine who was just trying to be nice. Has it helped me sell anymore copies? Probably not.

If you have a book, and you want real reviews, then you have to try a lot harder. In order to be taken seriously, you have to have reviews from major sources. This is very hard to do for a small press novel, and almost impossible to do for a vanity published book. But it is the only way you'll be taken seriously, and it's one of the best ways to sell more copies...

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Since this is the celebration of Spring, and a Pagan holiday, I decided to get a little lighter today than I have been. Spring? It's snowing and the temperature is below freezing...and we've had quite a bit of freezing drizzle, which is almost unheard of in this area...

Today I thought I'd talk about something that I get asked about a lot. Where do my characters come from?

My protagonists are generally victims of the world they live in. Strangely, as anti-military as I tend to be, a lot of my characters are soldiers...but they're usually soldiers with a conscience. They view the nasty world of war from inside, and don't like what they see. Often that consumes them...yes, I have a bad habit of killing off my characters.

I view oppression in the world as one of the greatest evils, and thus my characters are often religion, society, the corporate world, whatever happens to be bugging me on the day I write.

I also use scientists a lot...and they usually realize that whatever they're doing is being perverted by the government they work for. Are you starting to see a theme here?

As for antagonists, I often try to use people that I can't really understand. Again the military is a big one for me. I know this will piss my friend Vik off, but if you join the military as infantry, fighter pilot, marine, and such, then it means that you are willing to kill. Somewhere in your psyche is the ability to take another human being's life, and that is something I can't comprehend, so I often use those characters. Same could be said for using CEOs of major corporations. I've never understood the goal of raping and pillaging the planet and its inhabitants just to make a they're often my antagonists. I suppose it's an attempt on my part to better understand these people.

More than anything, my antagonists tend to be amorphous concepts (oppression, environmental damage, war, hatred). There may be people filling those roles, but they're part of a bigger whole, and at times even my antagonists are victims more than participants.

Basically, I guess you could say that my characters tend to be caught up in a world that they have no chance of truly understanding, and they have no chance of being able to control it. Still, it's their struggle that makes them who they are, and even if they fail, they usually give a good fight.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The World is Grey

Yes, I realize that I'm not using the American spelling of grey, but I like the way this one looks so much more.

When did the world become so polarized? These days it seems you're either a liberal or a either support the troops or you're against think illegal immigrants should either be deported or given complete amnesty...etc. etc.

There are no right and wrong answers in the world, there are just varying shades of grey. A while back we were discussing global warming here, and it seems like you have to either agree that humans caused it, or they have no effect on it. The answer actually lies somewhere in the middle. I think most of the people who visit this blog probably agree with that, but the people who come here aren't like most of the people in the rest of the world...if you are, why are you reading?

Here in America, nothing can even get done politically anymore because people are so polarized in their ways. Bush or the Congress are either completely right or completely doesn't make any sense to me. I'll be the first to admit that I think Bush is one of the worst presidents we've ever had. Just because I believe that doesn't mean that I'll dismiss everything he says, but that seems to be what's called for in America these days. No single political party has the answers to everything, and believing that to be true is ridiculous...but until we stop all the pointless bickering over party politics, we're not going to be able to accomplish much.

On the idea of troops it seems that if you don't want them in Iraq, then that means that you don't support them. This is an idea that is certainly being propagated by the current administration, but it's absurd. My personal feeling is that we never should have gone there in the first place, and I don't want to see anymore of our guys getting killed over something that has been going on for centuries, and is going to be solved by making them become democratic.

I have never been a big supporter of the military. Our military budget has taken away from programs that could have actually helped humanity. Yes, true, we do need a defense, but if we improved out international relations with others, we would have fewer problems.

Once again, I'm not saying anything that is big news to anyone here. In fact, I would imagine that most of you agree that we need to stop seeing the world in black & white.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The War on Terror

Global Climate Change seems to have cooled down here on the blogs, so I'll bring up another hot political topic...the war on terror.

First of all, let me say that most of what you're going to read in this entry and in my other entries are just opinions. There are certainly data to back up my opinions, as I don't usually mouth off about things unless I know a little something about them, but I don't feel like documenting where I'm getting info from...I'm just telling you what I think and feel.

Now, having said that, let me say that the war on terror is a stupid concept!!! You can't wage a war on terror and hope to win. Terror is something that's always going to be with us. As long as there is a group that feels they're being oppressed (and there always will be) terror will be a viable way of striking back at a target that can't be defeated face to face. Believe me, if terrorist backed countries had powerful armies, they'd come after us that way...but they don't, so they resort to terror.

What was one of the first well known terrorist attacks on American soil? Most people would say Oklahoma City, but you have to go back a little further than that. Let's say back to the Boston Tea Party. That's right, America, your country was formed by a bunch of terrorists. Granted, that's an extreme oversimplification of the facts, but there certainly was an element of terror to our revolution against the crown of England.

As a writer, terrorism has always fascinated me. It shows up in a lot of my work, much of it dating to before 9/11. The Opium of the People, which was written before the terrorist attacks has America being governed by a theocracy, and the heroes...the common everyday people like you and me...have to resort to terrorism in order to get their point across. A lot of people don't think that's possible in this country, but look at the civil rights movement and the activities of AIM, the Black Panthers, and others. Or, look at the eco-terrorism we're starting to see here in America from Earth First! and ELF. Believe me, if white Republican America suddenly found itself oppressed, or ignored, terrorism would certainly be an option...although the Neo-Cons are already waging their own form of terrorism on us...but that's a topic for another blog.

Another thing that bothers me about the War on Terror is that this is a religious war against Muslims. If you were to listen to Bush and his cronies, you'd think that only Muslims committed terrorist acts...but what about ETA in Spain, the Colombian cartels, the Chechen rebels, the Russian and Asian mobs? Granted, none of those organizations has every directly attacked the US, but they don't seem to be a priority in any way shape of form for our government. For years I've been reading reports that there are now possible links between the Russian mob, the Asian mobs, and the Colombian cartels. If those organizations really were to link up, they would probably be a lot more dangerous than Al-Qaeda. No, this war on terror that we find ourselves in is completely based on religion and a thirst for oil.

Until the US chooses to deal fairly with the Arab nations, they will continue to hate us and the threat of terror will continue to be there. The US policy is that we only support nations with elected governments that the people are ok with (yes, that is once again a gross oversimplification, but bare with me for a moment.) One of our main allies in the Middle East is Saudi Arabia, a nation with a monarchy that is unpopular with the people of Saudi Arabia, and yet we still deal with them. When we demanded that the Palestinians vote in a government, they agreed. Then when they voted in Hamas, we refused to recognize the government. What kind of signal does that send to the other nations we're trying to "liberate?"

I don't advocate terrorism...I'm basically a pacifist by nature, but my point in all of this ranting is that the US is basically responsible for creating the situation we now find ourselves in. Until the US begins to acknowledge that there is more to the world than the white Judeo/Christian viewpoint, people will continue to want to bring us down...and invading countries to "liberate" them only makes the situation worse!

Silly writers

I was just reading on someone's LiveJournal where they and several other writers were offended by the fact that they got a form rejection from Asimov's. What did they really expect? They get several hundred submissions a month, and I'm sure most of it is crap...they're not going to take the time to actually respond to every submission.

I pretty much expect a form rejection everywhere I go, and I'm genuinely surprised when I get a personal rejection. I myself almost always use something like a form rejection as an editor. The main reason I do that is because many writers take it as a personal attack if you don't like their story, and if you try to tell them what's actually wrong with it, they throw it back at you as if there's something wrong with the editor. Who needs that?

Any writer who is going to be offended by form rejection letters should just get out of the business right now...

Thursday, April 05, 2007


On Saturday, after the photo shoot, several of us decided to go to dinner at a great Italian restaurant in south Denver...The Saucy Noodle. I think Spencer will know what I'm talking about.

During dinner, we got to talking about because we were trying to figure out where our waitress was from (Brazil), and also because my friend who was with me is from Russia. Anyway, I mentioned that I'm 1/8 Chickasaw, and of course someone then asked me if I was registered. You see, with the Chickasaw tribe, you just have to be able to prove that you had someone on the Dawes Rolls of 1890, which my Great-Great Grandfather was on. That means that if I wanted to go through the paperwork, I could have myself declared Native American.

And of course, everyone thinks that's a great idea because then you can get money from the casinos. Of course, not every tribe has a casino, and the majority of native peoples living on reservations actually live below the poverty line...but you wouldn't think so with the propaganda spit out by the government.

However, I am yet again digressing. There are a couple of reasons why it can be a good idea to register. For one thing, if there are casino, oil, uranium residuals and such, I could get a portion. Also, if the tribe receives any kind of aid from the government, I would also be eligible. In addition, I would be able to check the little box that says Native American rather than white, and there could be all kinds of benefits to that.

Why don't I? It's actually pretty simple. I don't feel I deserve any of that. I am very proud of my heritage, and would certainly like to help in any way that I could, but I've never lived on a reservation. In fact, I basically grew up in white suburbia, so I don't really know what it means to be an Indian. Therefore, I've never felt that I deserve any of those benefits. Not only that, but anything that I could get would have to be taken from someone else...and there are a lot of people living on the reservations who need a lot more help than I do. I'm basically poor because I choose to be's called wanting to be a writer.

Not really sure what prompted this post, but there it is...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Love that feeling

One of the best feelings in the world is putting the finishing touches on a new story. You type the last correction, format it, print it out, put it in an envelope, and then walk to the mailbox. That feeling is amazing. The only thing better in the world is selling a story!

Tonight I put the finishing touches on my new story "The Magenta Equations," and when I finished it, I just had that feeling that this was something special. Most writers know that you write story after story, and then one day you write something that's beyond anything you've done before. That's the feeling I get from this story. I really feel like I've just taken a major step in my evolution as a writer. Now I'm just hopeful that some editor will agree with me...

Well, I guess now I have to try and top that story...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

This one is priceless

Keith Richards has admited that he snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine. Click on the title to read the entire article.

How is it that this man is still alive?

Skeleton of the Onondaga

My first ever horror story has been published by AlienSkin Magazine. This isn't one of my strongest stories, but you're certainly welcome to read it. Simply click on the title of this entry, and it will take you to the story...

Get to know J

I have a couple of political posts that I'm thinking about writing, but every time I start on them, I get too lathered maybe those will be for the future.

For now, I thought I'd open up the forum for you to ask me questions...nothing too personal...but feel free to ask me whatever you'd like.

It's your chance to find out who the guy is behind all of those disturbing stories...

Monday, April 02, 2007

It helps to pay attention

Earlier today I was updating the Sam's Dot website a bit. Tyree had sent me the cover and table of contents for the new issue of Beyond Centauri. So, I'm renaming the file to make it easier to work with when I notice my name on the cover...

Apparently my childrens' fantasy story that I thought was going to be in an unnamed anthology, was acutally published in this issue of Beyond Centauri...and I had no idea. It's not really a problem because BC is a great zine, and I've never had my name in their before, so it works. It just kind of took me by surprise.

Anyway, if you'd like to read the story, you'll have to buy a copy of the issue. You can order it from The Genre Mall by clicking on the title of this post, and looking for this...

Sunday, April 01, 2007

These are great

I hope Locus is going to keep these up for a while. They're the magazines ideas of good April Fool's jokes...

News Roundup

Study Finds Rejection Makes Writers Sexier

K.J. Anderson in Hostile Takeover of Niven's Known Space

Re-Creative, Inc.: Making Genre Writers Useful for a Change

New award established "to honor excellence in science fiction awards"

Neil Gaiman One Step Closer to Sainthood

The Poet

As many of you know, my career was basically launched by James B. Baker of ProMart. Jim's no longer with us, but I've been doing everything I can to keep his memory alive.

Now, Nomadic Delirium Press is pleased to announce the re-release of The Poet by James B. Baker.

Max checked out of reality fifty years ago. When he comes back, he finds himself to be a bum dressed like a priets. He also finds himself to be the only potent man in an otherwise impotent America.

Max eventually reaches the west coast where he finds himself the host of an hour long TV show watched by billions. His adoring fans begin to call him The Poet, and they see him as the savior of the world.

Joined by his triplet lovers, Max sets out to change the world; a world that is more than a little resistant to his efforts. Smothered by his adoring fans and dogged by men intent on killing him, Max's multiple personalities fight their own battle in his mind, and no one is ever sure who will win.

$16.99 + $3.00 S&H

Pre sale price: $13.00 + $3.00 S&H

ISBN: 1-4196-6578-2

If I'm going to die...

...I might as well post some more pictures from the photo shoot...although these were taken by someone much more talented than me...