Friday, July 25, 2014


Well, I just learned that the Horror Writers Association (HWA) passed a bylaw amendment allowing self published writers to become active members.  There isn't even a good way to verify if these people really have the sales they claim.  But, anything for more membership dues.  Now, this will get people mad at me. I think self publishers are the scourge of the written world. They choke the market with unsellable garbage and go around saying "this is the new order of things."  I am very disappointed with this development. Alas, I seem to be in the minority as it passed decisively.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Leave my mirrors alone

Just got my car back from the body shop yesterday.  Dang I hate it when they change my mirrors. And they adjusted my seat. This was a minor body repair to my rear bumper. It was a one day project. There was no reason for the car to need an extensive test drive.  So, to move it 15 feet inside the shop they need to mess with my mirrors and my seat?  Me thinks not.

They did a nice job fixing my car.  But why mess with my settings? Bugs me, it does.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tall Buildings

Today, I am suppressing a strong urge to get a rifle and climb up on a tall building.  It's format and layout time for the new issue of Steampunk Trails. Some stories come in great shape. Some of them.  But, alas, an ever increasing parade are something else entirely. It astonishes me why so many writers think their stories need to look cute. They embed odd features into the text. They use strange fonts. They use headers instead of letting the word processor numbering system work. And they always seem to want to add an extra line between paragraphs.  And those are the good submissions.  Oh, and let's not forget how half of all submissions come in with courier type in spite of warnings not to use it. Oh, how most editors hate this font.

Then there are scores of submissions that have no discernible paragraph. They're just continuous sentences strewn together in some random incomprehensible fashion. And none of them seem to have any resemblance to generally accepted manuscript formats that are published in any of a number of writing books.  

Gee, I wonder why I can't get published?
This is not unlike Woody Allen's quote that 90 percent of success is simply showing up. Simply sending in a clean, simple manuscript greatly improves your chances.  In the 20 or so years I've been editing various projects, this situation has gotten much worse.  

I'm not really sure.  I blame, to some degree, certain writers groups that urge on incompetent writer wannabees who are no ways near ready to take off the training wheels.  But there's something else going on. When I went insane and decided I should take up writing, I studied Writer's Market and everything else the library had to find out how to submit, how a manuscript should look and everything else I could learn. The savages cranking out submissions today do not, I fear, even know what a library is--let alone a book. And they don't seem too interested in learning. When you tell someone they've got serious formatting issues and, a week later, you get another sloppy mess from the same writer, you start thinking it's time to find a witch doctor and get a curse put on somebody. Truth is, good witch doctors cost money. Ah, fantasies of tall buildings take shape this time of year.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I made some toast yesterday.  I put some bread in the toaster and when it was ready I put some butter on the bread and ate it.  It took forever.  Toasters don't cook toast anymore. None of them do.  My dad has a really expensive toaster and it's just as slow and useless as my $8 one I bought at Target.  I sure wish toasters would cook the toast faster.  And, frankly, the bread isn't evenly toasted. There's something wrong with this world.  Some evil force is keeping people from having good toast.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Art Nightmares

It astonishes me that about half of the artists I assign illustrations to over at Steampunk Trails magazine never complete the assignments.  These are almost all artists who have contacted me seeking assignments. They've agreed to our terms and guidelines. And they never, ever submit the assigned art. And all we're asking for in our case are simple line drawings that require very little time.  If they can't do this, they're delusional if they think they're going to be successful artists.  Yet this just keeps happening.  Frankly, dealing with artists is what I hate most about my role as publisher AND art director for Steampunk Trails.  If we had more circulation I'd hire someone--but that's not going to happen right now.  Maybe I can find a witch doctor who can put a curse on these people. In the meantime, I'll muddle on.  

So, to all the art directors out there you have my sympathy. And to those very few artists who actually get assignments done on time, I salute you.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Earl Grey

Just a postscript to my tea diatribe of Tuesday. As I write this I'm sipping on a cup of Earl Grey tea that's not at all bad.  And there's no milk or lemon or raspberry or sugar  in my tea.  It's just tea.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Power of T

I haven't complained about tea in a while.  Most of the prepackaged teas that come from the store are polluted with lemon or sugar or peach or all three.  I only drink tea that's just tea.  Enter the Brits.  This British lady decided to have a cup of tea at the hotel I work at.  We actually have tea. She said there was no milk, as if I would care about this revelation. I sort of grimaced.  "You put milk in your tea?"

She seemed shocked at my disgust.  Really shocked.  "We have coffee creamer," I offered.

She decided that would have to do and took the creamer and wondered off to the gates of hell or wherever she was from. The thought of polluting my cup of Earl Grey with milk makes me want to gag. The Brits and Australians practice of putting milk in tea simply makes me gag.  

McDonald's drive thru always tries to stick me with sweet iced tea instead of unsweet. I don't eat at McDonald's anymore. Leave my tea alone.