Thursday, December 18, 2014

low prices

I'm amazed at how low the price of gas has dropped.  It's a lot less painful filling up my tank.  I almost feel like I can afford to go to Denver. When it cost fifty bucks to drive down there, I wasn't real enthusiastic about it.

Monday, December 15, 2014


I've lamented before about the lack of change in the Colorado mountains. Well, the situation has not improved.  I'm talking about change--coin of the realm. For some reason a number of restaurants in these here parts can't or won't count out change. They just hand you the paper money and keep the change as some sort of unnoticed tax on the consumer. Well, I notice.  I usually just take it back off the tip I would have left or something.  Yesterday the tab for my sandwich was $9.08 and I gave the waitress a twenty. My change was ten bucks.  So, they just kept  92 cents, nearly a dollar, for the heck of it.  I complained and they didn't seem to see any problem with shorting me "It's close enough, man." is what I was told.  If I had shorted them a dollar I would've heard about it.  Well, I won't eat lunch at this particular place again. And, it is against the law in Colorado not to give people their full change, but most laws (especially this one) aren't worth the paper they are printed on.  Count your change people! It's probably wrong.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Stranded Santa

One thing I always thought I should do was get dressed up like Santa Claus and wander around on Christmas eve muttering "Damned blasted reindeer took off and left me. I ain't Fu*!@in walkin' back to the North Pole."    Alas, I've never actually done it--figuring it probably wouldn't go as well as the original concept.  Still, it's no stranger than anything else about Santa.   If I sat in a chair and asked girls I don't even know to sit on my lap, well it just doesn't go over that well. Put on some red suit and they hop right up.   Face it, Santa Claus is a bizarre individual.  So, stranded Santa isn't any stranger than anything else with this guy. So, if I ever do this, these are the lines I was thinking about.

"Hey buddy, can you take me to the North Pole? Yeah I'm fu*in serious. Should've given you a lump of coal when you were six instead of that damned bicycle." [taxi drivers only]

"Hey lady, can I sleep on your couch tonight?  Fu*in reindeer stranded me.  Hell, I been watching you sleep for years."

"Well, thanks for the milk and cookies, but I'm lactose intolerant and what I really need are the keys to your car."

"Hey kid, Santa's not really sleeping in your yard. It's all a dream."

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

entrenched rudeness

I have come to believe there is a mindset in the publishing industry that rudeness is essential. Over this past year, I have submitted five book manuscripts in accordance with publishers guidelines, 10 book proposals and 35 query letters, all following the instructions on the respective web sites.  Of those, I received two terse replies.  None of the other publishers bothered to respond at all.  I do not think this experience is unusual.  Whatever the actual reason, the excuse of not enough time is a stretch. A short email reply takes only seconds.  Oddly, before email when they mailed back form letters is the enclosed SASE, I got a much better response rate than I do now.  

Now, I happen to be editing an anthology.  No matter what I think of the submissions, at the end of the reading period everyone will get a response.  So, I guess there must be something wrong with me. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Messing Around

Back in California I used to hang around with some guy and it was one of those we could finish each other's sentences type of deals.  One thing we liked to do, particularly on the occasional trip to San Francisco [where they had lots of high rise buildings] was to get in the elevator with some unsuspecting individual and start having an outlandish conversation.  Some favorites were:

"How'd you get the body out of there before the cops showed up?"
"We just tossed her out the window and she landed in the dumpster.  After dark we just dug her out of there and tossed her in the bay."
"Aren't you afraid she'll float back up?"
"Nah. Thing you gotta watch for with bodies is cut open the abdomen and put a couple rocks in there. Then they never come up."

"Did you find anyone to kill your boss yet?"
"Damn, you wouldn't believe what assassins want these days.  But I need  to get him killed. I can't take much more of this."
"What about Larry?"
"I don't trust drug addicts.  They're just not reliable."
"I know what you mean."

"Aren't you afraid they'll find out?"
"Been taking a G a month for five years and they ain't caught on yet?"
"Someday they will. Bound to. It adds up to a shitload of money."
"Haven't yet. I'll just go to Brazil and disappear if they get on to me."

And so on.  Of course the real fun was watching the people in the elevator as they tried to act like they weren't paying any attention.  Little old ladies were the best.  

And what brought this up?  Well, I was just reminiscing.  I guess one could just use a cellphone and do the same thing, but I think two actual people talking about stuff is more convincing.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Free Story

David B. Riley

Dan looked over the application for a moment, then placed it back on top of the desk. “Why do you want to work for Stacy Tours?”

“Uh, I’ve heard really good things about your company,” the pretty brunette said. “I’ve got a degree in travel and tourism.”

“I see.” Dan picked back up the application.  “Very impressive, but there is one thing.” He placed the application back on the desk. “The next place you apply to, there is no North Dakota State College.”

Her eyes widened. “There’s not?”

“Afraid not,” Dan assured her.

“I don’t get the job?”


She stood, stared blankly for a moment, then walked out of the office.  Dan nearly made it back to his desk when he heard the voice of his employer. “Dan!”

He turned and smiled “Yes Stacy?”

“Have you been interviewing people again?” she asked.

“No. Whatever do you mean?” he asked.

“Then, why is there an application on my desk.”

“There is no North Dakota,” Dan said.

Stacy’s pretty blue eyes seemed to try to roll up inside her head. “Not that again.”

“We book hundreds of vacations each day.  I checked in the computer, not one single booking for anyone from North Dakota.  It’s some kind of conspiracy.”  Dan picked up his telephone headset.  “There is no such place. It’s some kind of government thing.  Three electoral votes to do with as they please. Have you ever even met anybody from North Dakota?”

“We take people there. We just did a Mt. Rushmore tour, last month,” she insisted.

“South Dakota.”

She crossed her arms in front of herself. “We went to Little Bighorn.”


She started rubbing her temples with her thumbs.  “Unbelievable.” Stacy sighed. “Dan, you won’t be needing that headset you’re holding”

“How come?”

“I think you need some time off.”

“How much time off?” he asked.

“As much time as it takes to find another job,” she said.
Dan’s alarm went off at four thirty.  He grabbed a quick shower, then strolled over to the parking lot.  The charter bus pulled up right on time.  The door swung open.  “Hi Chuck,”

The driver looked around. “Where are the people?”

“Just me,” Dan said.

Chuck looked at his manifest. “You chartered a bus, just for one person?”

“Yep.  It’s on the Stacy Tours billing account..”

He shrugged.  “Where we going?”

“North Dakota.”

Chuck looked over his worn Texaco road map.  “Never been there.”

“I thought as much.”  Dan relaxed in the front row.  “Let’s go.”

They got out of Denver with minimal traffic and headed north.  They made good time and were in Wyoming before lunch time.  Dan didn’t want to, but Chuck insisted on buying Fritos at a Wal-Mart in Casper.   Then, they headed east.  It wasn’t long before they passed a welcome to South Dakota sign.

“We’re there, “ Chuck announced.  “Where are we going?”

“North Dakota,” Dan insisted.

“Oh, yeah.”

They refueled and ate burritos at a truck stop in Rapid City.  All gassed up, they headed north.  They drove and drove for a really long time.  Chuck seemed to be nodding off.  Dan shook his shoulder.

“Can’t we take a break?” Chuck asked.

“We’re almost there,” Dan assured him.

Ten minutes later, they drove up to a place that looked like an awning across the highway. They stopped at the stop sign.  A man in a clean white uniform approached the bus. “Welcome to Canada,” he said.

“Canada?” Dan asked.  “What happened to North Dakota?”

“You just left it.  What is your business in Canada?” he asked.

“We’re apparently lost,” Dan said.  “Can we turn around and go back?”

“Suit yourselves.”

As Chuck turned the bus around, Dan did not like the way the guy at the border station was talking into his radio. Something just didn’t seem right.  They sped back down the highway they’d just come from.  “There’s no North Dakota sign. No U. S. Customs.”

“Beats me,” Chuck agreed.

They drove for about an hour before a car with red and blue lights pulled them over. Dan opened the door and got out of the bus. “What’s the problem, officer?”

The car with the lights said South Dakota State Police on its door.  “Where are you fellas heading?” the trooper asked.

“North Dakota,” Dan said.

“This is South Dakota.”

“Go figure?” Dan shrugged.

“Just two of you in that bus?”


“I see.” The trooper went back to his car.  Dan didn’t like the way he was talking into his radio.

 Then, he returned.  “I need you boys to put your hands on the hood of the car.”  His gun was drawn.

“There is no North Dakota!” Dan screamed.

“Put your hands on the hood of the car and nobody will get hurt,” the trooper insisted.

This story first appeared in The Writer's Post Journal

Friday, December 5, 2014

New Books For Christmas

If you're looking for a gift for someone, books aren't a bad way to go, at least for those on your list who can read.  And not just my books.  There are two others I'd like to recommend. Both are new books that have just been published.  

First off is Brown: Ghost Hunting Dog.  I don't think anything is tougher than writing animal stories. J. A. Campbell consistently pulls it off.  This is a collection of stories about her ghost hunting dog, Brown.  These are some very entertaining and clever stories. There's even a brand new previously unpublished novella.  Don't worry about these being about some border collie--they're as fully entertaining as any human based ghost story.  And, one non ghost adventure is also in the book when Brown saves the world from some pretty nasty Martian invaders.

Also out is the Coming of Crow, a collection of  stories about Joel Jenkins' popular Native American gunfighter, Lone Crow.  I've reviewed this book on Amazon and won't repeat myself here.  These stories have a supernatural twist.. I can honestly say that I've never seen better done gunfights anywhere.

Both are available from Amazon.