Saturday, March 31, 2007

Photo Shoot

Today, local artist Laura Givens had a photo shoot. She takes the pictures and then manipulates them into paitings that are often used for book and magazine covers. She's done numerous covers for Sam's Dot, including the current on-line zines The Fifth Di... and The Martian Wave. She's also the managing art editor for Tales of the Talisman. As if that's not enough, she is the one responsible for the cover of the latest version of The Opium of the People and she also did Tyree Campbell's Dog at the Foot of the Bed, and she's done the artwork for most, if not all, of David Lee Summers' books.

So, she had a bunch of us dressing up in costumes and acting like, yes, someday you might find a rendition of something I did on the cover of a book or magazine...

We got together at Washington Park, which is in southern Denver, and it made me realize just how much I miss that area of town. Right now, I live in a northern suburb, and it's basically cookie cutter neighborhoods. The area I used to live had character, and it was also a lot easier for someone without a car to get around. I really do miss it. I might have to move back their at some point...

Anyway, I don't have any of the pictures Laura took, but I do have some pictures that my friend Viktoria and I took...and if she finds out that I posted a picture of her here, she's going to kill if there aren't any more blog postings, you'll know what happened to me...

Busy, busy, busy

Been super busy lately. Just finished most of the April updates for Sam's Dot, uploaded several new titles to The Genre Mall, and I still have a new title to announce for Nomadic Delirium Press. All that's kept me away from the blog. I also sat down with my co-designer on the new RPG to work out some of the early details.

Later today, I'm meeting up with the phenomenal artist Laura Givens and several other geeks to just have a geekish kind of day. I'll post more on that later...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The blog list

I've updated my blog list so that you guys can see what I do when I'm procrastinating on my writing...

Look over to the right by my book can't miss it...

Former ProMartian makes it big

As many of you know, I used to edit for a company called ProMart Publishing, which would eventually become Sam's Dot Publishing.

Well, the Hugo Award nominees were named yesterday, and Lawrence Schoen, an author I published quite a few times at ProMart, has been nominated for the Campbell Award for best new writer. The award isn't actually a Hugo, but it's handed out at the same time, and it's a very prestigious award.

So, congrats to him, and it's nice to see another small press author make it to the big time!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Future Syndicate reviewed again

Quality Book Reviews has done a quick review of Future Syndicate. Click on the title above to read the review...

Amazon Beta Test

I've been an Amazon associate for a number of years now, and they're currently beta testing a new feature which is supposed to search your page for words or phrases that it can link to. I've installed that here on the blog just to see how it might work.

If you scroll down the blog you'll see that there are certain things highlighted. They give you an option to buy titles by that author or on that subject. It only highlights a few, and sometimes the links don't make much sense, but if you don't try it, you'll never know how it works, right?

In theory, if I were to type Mesoamerican Archaeology (that's for you Spencer), it might highlight the phrase...but then again, it might not. There are several things on the blog that I would think would be highlighted, and yet they're not...go figure.

Anyway, it didn't seem to intrusive, so I thought I'd try it out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Any gamers out there?

I've been a gamer for about 30 years in role playing games, not video games. I started out with Dungeons & Dragons, and then later I got into Traveller and Shadowrun. Now, one of my friends and I are in the process of designing a science fiction role playing game.

So, I wanted to ask anyone that might happen to drop by here if there was anything they would really like to see in a new SF RPG, or if there is anything that they think has been overdone, or should never be done in the first place.

We have quite a few ideas, but since we aren't going to be the ones buying the game, we'd like to hear what others have to say...

Monday, March 26, 2007


Rarely do I comment on TV shows, mostly because I rarely watch TV. In fact, Battle Star Galactica is the only show that I can say that I actually watch every week. The big question is...why? I have such ambivalent feelings about this show, and last night's season finale left me feeling even more ambivalent.

I won't post what happened just in case there are people here who are planning on watching the episode at some future date, and I don't want to spoil what happens.

So, why do I watch this show? The characters are some of the most screwed up bitter people you could ever meet...which is a good reason for me to like them. Although I liked Star Trek, I often thought the characters were a little too much of the goody goody type, and they always resolved their problems with little damage to who they were as characters. BSG characters don't do that. They're all screwed up, and they continue to screw up, sometimes never learning from their mistakes. Although a few of them did get some interesting lessons about who they were last night!!!

There are also some interesting plot twists that make the show interesting, but this also can cause them problems. With the way they twisted the plot lines last night, they're going to have to really pull something out of their hats in season 4 to make it work, or the show is going to fall flat.

What I don't like about the show is that the drama often borders on melodrama. The writers often go for quick emotional solutions to problems that don't come across as believable, or even worse give away more than they really want to.

So, I love the show, I hate the show, I really can't decide. I do know, however, that when the 4th season starts in 2008, I'm still going to be watching...but they're really going to need to impress me if they want to keep me as a viewer...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A new sale

I just received word that my story "Skeleton of the Onondaga" will appear in the April/May issue of AlienSkin Magazine. This is kind of a surprise to me because this story is a horror story...the only one I've ever written. I'm starting to think that it helps to branch out as a writer, considering that the last two stories I've sold were not science fiction.

The sale of this story illustrates something that I often tell people. Writing isn't always just about talent. Perseverance plays a big role in the success of a writer. There are a lot talented writers that give up because this can be a very discouraging field. And then there are other writers who write well, but might not be gifted...they just keep typing away, learning by all of their mistakes, and then eventually start selling. So, if you're a new writer, and you have at least some talent, keep at it!!!

I wrote this story many, many, many years ago, and it's been revised, locked away, pulled back out, buried in peet...sorry, got distracted...Hitchhiker's Guide took over for a minute. Anyway, this story was accepted on its 20th submission. Yeah, I'm stubborn.

I still don't think it's one of my best stories, but obviously somebody liked it. I've sent them other stories, that I thought were better, and they've rejected them. It just shows you that editing is a lot about never get discouraged by rejection.


This is a conversation I often have with people...usually after they learn from someone else that I'm a writer...

THEM (excitement in their voice): So and so told me that you're a writer, is that true?

ME: Yes.

THEM (even more excited): Wow, that's really cool! So, what do you write?

ME: Science Fiction

THEM (voice falling): Oh...

Then they usually walk away acting like they need to find a sink, some really hot water, and the most antiseptic soap on the market.

Apparently you're only a real writer if you can write drivel like The Grapes of Wrath or The Great Gatsby...or if you just moan and moan about how horrible life has been to you.

I'd much rather tell a story that makes people think, and can possibly make people change their views of the world. Think about how many NASA employees were SF fans as kids...a lot of them! Still, if you write science fiction (and I would assume this also applies to fantasy and horror), you're somehow less of an author.

I have one friend who often claims that I'm a great writer...maybe she's just being nice, I don't know...but she constantly bad mouths science fiction. She claims to hate science fiction books, TV, and movies. Yet, she loves the movies Contact and Independence Day, both of which are clearly SF, although the first is an example of good SF, and the latter is an example of bad SF. My writing, however, is apparently different than those other SF stories...which is a crock. When you read my writing, you can clearly see the influence of Asimov, Heinlein, and Orwell, among others.

People constantly bad mouth the speculative fictions, and yet Hollywood has made a fortune off of the field because people love it...apparently they just don't want to admit it.

Do these people go to a movie and then head home, trying to wash their hands? I can see them in their bathrooms, practically crying as they repeat over and over to themselves:

"Out damned spot..."

That's my rant for now. So, I'll leave you and get back to work...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Coloring within the lines

I'm putting the finishing touches on a rough draft for a new story, and as tends to happen to me, the story doesn't quite fit where it's supposed to. For those of you who aren't familiar with my work, I am generally categorized as a soft science fiction writer. The central issues in my stories are usually psychology, sociology, economics, politics, etc. Of course, a lot of times my work is very hard to categorize.

I had one piece called Entropy which was written as a mainstream/literary story, and I had no luck with it. Since it involved a guy going crazy about the concept of entropy, I figured I could make a few minor changes to it and turn it in to a science fiction I did. The story was rejected over and over again for not having enough elements of science fiction. Finally, the story was sold, and it has been published.

I use that example because I just write whatever comes to mind, not worrying about genre...and then have a bitch of a time selling some of those stories.

This new story falls into that category. This is a hard SF piece, which isn't that strange, except that I used psychology as the hard science. I've basically theorized that psychology has been quantified, and my main character is a quantitative psychologist. That right there will probably get it rejected by some editors for not being real hard science. But, hey, that's how the story wanted to be written, and that's how it's been written. I'm not the first to come up with this idea. Asimov's psychohistory is kind of a quantification of psychology, although I would argue that it's more of a sociology...but that's just apples and oranges. Point is, I haven't invented the wheel, but I certainly seem intent on making things difficult for myself...

The story will probably be done in a couple of weeks, and then off it goes...

More on Global Climate Change

I read an interesting blog today about global climate change. This has a lot more scientific teeth than my opinion I thought I'd post a link to it. Just click on the title and it will take you over there.

No, Jim, you don't have to comment if you don't want to. I won't bite your head off for disagreeing with me, but I can certainly understand why you wouldn't want to debate an issue where neither of us is going to change our view...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Politics in science fiction

I was going to post another blog today about one of the other hot topics in the news these days, but I decided to put that off for another day.

Instead, I want to talk about politics in science fiction. I've heard some people say that they don't like stories in which politics plays a part. In some ways, I think this is absurd, and in another way I think it makes sense. I think it's all in how the politics is approached.

To some degree, politics plays a part in almost all science fiction. I hear some people screaming, "WHAT?!?!" Let me explain. If you're placing a story in the future, then there were certain events that created the world you're reading or writing about, and politics would be one of the key events. Look how much it effects our lives. Characters of the future are going to be no different. This is what makes me think the idea of hating stories with politics is absurd. Almost every story has politics to some degree.

What I think these people are really talking about is stories where politics is very central to the plot, and there's a lot of that out there. I can see how some people might not like this. There are certainly various plotlines that I'm not especially fond of. I don't particularly like military SF...which has politics in it, but that's ok because there are a lot of people out there that really enjoy a good military SF story.

Now, as far as political SF, I LOVE THE STUFF! Dune, The Foundation Series, the Hyperion novels are just a few examples...and those are some of my favorite books. I absolutely love galactic empire stories.

As a writer, I've tried my hand at galactic empires in short stories, and I've really enjoyed it. The novel I have circulating right now has an alien species that has a small empire, but it's nothing compared to what I'd like to do. One day, I hope to write a novel or a series that spans generations and the entire galactic disk.

I'm curious to hear how others like their political SF...

An Interview

Fellow author Marva Dasef recently interviewed me about Nomadic Delirium Press. The interview is now up on her on the title and it will take you over there. If you like what you see on her blog, be sure to subscirbe...I'm sure she'd appreciate it, and be sure to subscribe to my blog as well...since you're already here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

And so it begins...

Global warming is a huge topic these days, and I've been reading up on it for more than a decade now. In truth, the term global warming is a bit of a misnomer. Global Climate Change would probably be a better phrase.

My reason for wanting to post this is because yesterday I was reading an article about the fact that the outlying regions of the Marshall Islands are running out of water. There's no doubt that drought is common. It happens everywhere, but there's also no denying that we're seeing more and more drought every year. Some countries use desalinization of the oceans to produce drinkable water, but this is prohibitively expensive, and only available to major countries or the countries that have been made rich by the major countries wanting their oil. Eventually, this will lead to something that climatologists and SF writers have been predicting for a while, which is water wars. We're probably decades away from this, but maybe not.

When the wars do come, most of them won't be civil wars; instead, they'll be wars between the "haves" and the "have nots." It will be a battle of North vs. South. It will almost certainly be Africa that feels the effects of this first, and probably South America won't be far behind. This could easily lead to wars against the wealthier nations in the northern hemisphere. This has been covered in a lot of fiction, but even some non-fiction is starting to take note of this possibility.

A lot of people argue that we're in a warming trend, which is true, but the warming has spread up dramatically over the last couple of decades. Research on ice cores taken in the Arctic, Antarctica, and Greenland clearly show that this is unique in history. It's quite possible that we are now in a warming cycle that will see us reach average temperatures that are the highest in millennia.

Another bad sign is that the ocean currents are slowing down. We have to have these currents running properly in order to regulate global temperature. Slowing currents will also cause species extinction.

I've heard a lot of people say that there isn't any actual proof that this is caused by man, and science has to show that proof until we need to really worry. I hate to tell people, but the purpose of science is to explain with theories. There can never be an absolute answer given by science.

No matter whether man is causing it or not, if there's a possibility that this is all our fault, shouldn't we at least try to do something about it? A lot of Native American tribes followed what they called the Seventh Generation philosophy. The idea was that every decision should be made with the next seven generations in mind. The way things are going, there may not be a seventh generation.

And since this was such a serious topic, I would like to close with something a little lighter. I remember about a month ago I was reading an article where someone was trying to argue that the increase in volcanism was related to global in global warming was causing more volcanic eruptions. First off, there hasn't been an increase in volcanic eruptions, and secondly, how could global warming cause volcanos to erupt???

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

An editor's gripes

All I have to say is that I'm amazed by the amount of traffic that has come to my site since I signed up with Feedburner, so I guess you people are actually curious to hear what I have to say about things.

I guess that also means that I should stop talking so much about my books, and talk about some things that might be of interest to everyone. I know a lot of the people that visit these pages are writers, so I figure I'll start with some editorial gripes.

What really peeves me as an editor?

First and foremost, and without a doubt would be people not following guidelines. Sounds simple enough, but you'd be surprised how many people chose to ignore guidelines. When I was accepting submissions for Future Syndicate, it was very clear in the guidelines that we were looking for stories about crime, but we didn't want detective stories. More than half of the submissions I received were detective stories. Tyree and I are currently accepting novella submissions for an anthology, and there is a very specific word length, and yet almost every submission has been far too short for what we're looking for. I also get a lot of horror submissions for the two zines I is strictly SF...the other SF and fantasy, and the guidelines clearly state no horror, and yet some writers feel compelled to send me horror any way.

Next would be formatting. No matter what publication you're submitting to, whether it's one of the largest publishers in the world or a non-paying market, you should always follow proper manuscript format...unless the editor asks for the submission in an alternative format. Many times I've told writers to use proper format, and they reply, "What do you mean?" At that point, I want to tell them to stop writing if they're not willing to learn how to be a professional, but instead, I point them to a resource that will help them.

You know, I like being able to vent here...kind of should expect more soon...

Third, never send a revised version of a rejected story, unless the editor specifically asks you to. I rarely comment on stories anymore because people take it personally, but when I do, take it as a gift that I'm trying to help you. It doesn't mean make these corrections and I'll buy the story. A lot of times, there are more problems with the story than just what I've been nice enough to tell you.

I could go on and on, but I think I'll end with cliches. Know what the writing cliches are...sometimes people can pull them off, but usually they don't work. Here are a few that I see most often:

It was a dark and stormy night...

I looked in the mirror to examine my (insert annoying description)

The use of "I" over and over again in first person...

A chill ran down his spine...

Two pages of info dump before anything happens. If you're writing a short story...always start in the middle of the action. You have very little time to grab the reader's (or editor's) attention, so grab it fast.

mad scientists

one dimensional slutty women

one dimensional anything...unless you're writing satire, which is very hard to do

That should be enough for the time being.

Now that I see so many people are coming to visit, I'll try to write more. Maybe I'll even address the current political situation...if you're a Bush supporter, you might want to skip those entries...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I've now added Feedburner to this blog so you can now subscribe to it. Simply look for the little icon on the right side, and you can subscribe to the rss feed. Not sure how all of this will work, as I'm not the most computer savvy person out there, but I'll try anything, and I'm sure I'll have all of the little tricks figured out in no time...

And thanks to everyone for reading!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Lengths I'll go to to promote my book

In an effort to sell even more copies of The Opium of the People, I've created a quiz to let my friends figure out which of my main characters they're most like. Here are my results:

You scored as Edward Silverberg. You scored as Edward Silverberg. You want the world to change, but you don't want to be the one to do anything about it. Still, no matter what happens, you always seem to end up in the middle of things and somehow change happens around you.

Edward Silverberg


Kirstin Andrews


Shen Wu


Father Esmond


Gen. Dominick Jensen


Which Opium of the People Character Are You?
created with

If you like the test, you'll love the book! Order it at

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I'm a publisher now?

For the last few weeks I've been trying to help the owners of Nomadic Delirium Press figure out a way to keep the place going. It's not that they were losing money, but they weren't making as much money as they'd hoped to. It's small one gets rich off of this stuff.

So, in a last ditch effort to save the company, I bought them out. Yeah, that's right, as if my life were not already crazy enough, I've opted to become a publisher. What the hell was I thinking???

The first thing I did was get a domain name. They've been on Geocities, and I absolutely hate that site. Pop-ups, as well as spam, are the banes of humanity! The site can now be found at I just set it up this morning, so it's possible that the domain name hasn't propagated across the Internet, so the link might not work for a couple of days. I'll be making some changes to their site, but the basics of what NDP is are there.

I'm not sure what the definite plans are for the future, but I'm thinking we're going to re-release a novel from James Baker, and then I think we'll also be opening to submissions for two more novels, and probably another themed anthology....but no matter what, NDP will go on!

Unless I end up in an asylum...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Trading cards

That's right folks, a little on-line group is producing author's trading cards. I don't know if they'll ever actually print them up, but for now they're creating virtual cards, which we can use to promote ourselves. I've never been the most photogenic person, but like I always say, I'll do anything to promote my writing...

Future Syndicate reviewed

Future Syndicate, an anthology edited by me and containing one of my stories has been reviewed by Tangent Online. Click on the title of this blog entry to read the review...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Book signing

We had a pretty good crowd at the signing today. Almost filled up all of the chairs in the little bookstore, and we sold quite a few copies of Future Syndicate as well.

There are some pictures from the signing in my photo gallery on my homepage. Click on the title of this post, and you'll go right to my page.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

An ego trip

We have a site here in Colorado called SF Colorado. It features news and information about the plethora of writers that we have in this state. A visit there last night found my name plastered all over the top of the page...kind of cool.