Friday, November 21, 2014

Collecting stories

I've been trying to put together a collection of stories.  In the industry, it's an author collection if it's a bunch of stories by a single author. If it's a bunch of stories by different authors, then it's called an anthology.  Since I have so many disparate types of stories, it's a challenge getting a set of them that actually fit together. Well, I think I've come up with a collection of stories that just might work. Now I have to convince the publisher that it works.  Strangely, I've never pitched a story collection before. I've pitched novels and anthologies and lots and lots of  individual stories, but never a story collection. So, this is actually going to be uncharted waters for me.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lights

I had a little LED flashlight that I really loved.  This was one of the so-called  key chain lights which are very compact. It's amazing how inexpensive these things have gotten and how bright they are. Emphasis on had. I dropped it and broke it.  And I'm finding it very hard to find one like it. Most of them seem to have the need to constantly press some button. Sure, I can order them from online and mail order places, but the shipping is more than the lights.  I'm sure I'll eventually track one down somewhere--but it is proving a bit harder than I would've imagined. 


Monday, November 17, 2014

Cons

One thing about those of us who write genre fiction is conventions--cons.  It's the time of the year where I start looking at what cons I might be interested in going to.  In my case, it's a short list. I've never had much luck with the Texas cons.  There's enough talent in Texas that they don't really need me.  One of the bigger Colorado cons doesn't seem to like me.  And there are some that are simply not ones I'm all that interested in.  Then you factor in travel expenses. And some of them give you a table where you can sell stuff while others don't.  And that list really shrinks fast.  Then you factor in your day job and that list is even smaller.  So, I'm looking at going to five cons next year.  That's all. I may not even make it to that many, but that's the preliminary list I'm starting with.  

A few months ago, I was seriously considering no longer attending them at all.  They start all looking the same after a few years of attending these things.  But, I've noticed that sales of my books spike when I go to these things. They clearly are important in developing a base of loyal readers. So, I think the orange duffel bag will see some action next year.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Free Story


CITIZEN WENDELL
by
David B. Riley

Wendell paused for a moment, just long enough to take a peak at the guys in gray suits coming out of Mr. Ayoley’s office.  Then, he went back to his cart.  Being a picker at the book warehouse was the best job he’d had in such a long time–way better than the hog farm. He looked at the clock.  It was almost lunch time and there were gobs of orders piling up.

“Hoag, to my office,” he heard on the speaker.

He could pretend he didn’t hear it, maybe get another half hour’s pay.  He put down the order sheet.  What was the use?  Wenell Oliver Hoag somberly marched toward the warehouse office.  “Busy today, sir,” Wendell said.

Mr. Ayoley put down one of his dreadful bargain basement cigars and stared at him, then out the window.  “Hoag, how long have you been here?”

“Three weeks, sir,” Wendell replied.

“Well, things just aren’t working out.”

“In what way, sir?” Wendell asked.

His head seemed to be shaking and he was doing that nervous twitch.  “It just isn’t. Go by accounting and pick up your last check.”
***
Wendell yanked the eviction notice off his door and went inside the dingy studio apartment.  He looked at his prized green and white Coleman tent that was so neatly folded up underneath the table.  “I’m gonna need you, buddy.”

He went to the door. Someone was knocking.  It was Phillip.

“Dude, I’ve got something,” his neighbor said.

“Not so close, guy. Your breath could kill a skunk,” Wendell pleaded.

“Oh, right.”  Phillip spread some papers all over the top of the little table that was one of the few furnishings in the apartment.  “Check this out.”

“What is this stuff?” Wendell asked.

“It’s the budget.  What the government spends on stuff.”

“So?”

Phillip looked like he’d discovered a new planet or something.  “They can’t hide the money, dude.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Wendell asked.

“Check this out.”  He pointed at one of the pages he’d printed out.

Wendell looked at the tiny print and wished he had the money to buy glasses. Highlighted, in yellow, was an entry for something called Bureau of Miscellaneous Affairs. “So?”

Phillip handed him another page.  Also in yellow was, Office of Making People Miserable.

“What is this?”

“Read on, dude,” Phillip said.

A third page showed Wendell Hoag Unit.  “What?” Wendell asked in disbelief. “I’m in the budget?”
“Remember when, last week, you said you thought the government was out to get you? Dude, they are,” Phillip explained.

It seemed impossible. “A government department just to make me miserable?”

“Yeah.”  Phillip showed him another page.  “They got an office downtown.”

“That was in the budget?”

“No, the phone book, dude.”

“Should I go there?” Wendell asked.

Phillip pointed out, “What have you got to lose?”

Wendell looked at his watch.  It was getting late and there was packing to do. “First thing in the morning.”

“Right on,” Phillip agreed.

His gut tightened as he walked down the marble steps to the basement of the downtown post office.  There, in frosted glass on the door of room 107A, was his name.  He turned the handle and went inside. It was a small office. There was only one person inside, a nondescript man with glasses dressed in a gray suit.  The man looked up from his computer terminal.  “Well, hello Wendell.”

“You’re not surprised to see me?”

“Heck no. We’ve got your apartment bugged,” the man replied.

“I can’t believe this is real.”

“Believe it.  A whole government office dedicated to making your life completely miserable,” the man said.

“All the jobs I’ve been fired from?”

“Us.”

“I can’t keep an apartment.”

“Us,” he said proudly.

Wendell sat on the little wooden bench near the door.  His legs were shaking so badly he needed to sit down. He’d hoped this was just another of Phillip’s conspiracy theories.  “My college has no record I ever attended there.”

“Us.”

“Why?”

The man shrugged.  “Beats me. We’re just doing our job.”

“Just doing your job!”

The man leaned back in his swivel chair and put his feet up on the cardboard desk. Wendell recognized it as the same type of cardboard desk they had at the Census Bureau before he got fired there. 

“Look, somewhere along the line, you pissed off somebody in Congress–an aide or someone. Maybe cut somebody off on the freeway or something. They slid a line into the budget.” He made some sort of gesture toward the ceiling. “And, poof, here we are. Nobody ever actually reads the budget. What a colossal waste of money. Yet, here we are making your life pure hell. And we do it so well.”

“I thought about killing myself,” Wendell said.

“We’d probably lose our funding if you did that.”

“I can’t even keep a job.”

“Those are easy,” the man explained. “Mr. Ayoley didn’t want to fire you. He said you’re a good worker. You don’t fart in the break room or anything.  But, when we pull out their tax returns and ask what time of day they prefer their audit, they always fold.” He sat back upright. “Personal relationships are harder.  They often require cash.”  He was silent for a moment. “Remember that redhead you liked? Heather something?”

“I wanted to marry her.”

“Yeah, I know.  She held out for a lot of money,” the man explained.

“I came home and she was doing the UPS guy on the floor,” Wendell pointed out.

“Well, we have to make sure the government’s money is well spent. Besides, chicks dig UPS guys. It wasn’t really that hard.”

Wendell put his face in the palms of his hands.  “I have this to look forward to for the rest of my life?”

“Or the rest of the fiscal year, whichever comes first.”

Wendell glared at his accuser. “I could get a gun and come back here.”

“Go ahead,” the man taunted, “we’d love to get you in prison. We can do all kinds of things there. You like getting raped in the butt, Wendell?”  He started writing on a notepad. “Actually, we need to work on that, anyway.”

Wendell started for the door. “I’ve gotta get out of here.”

“Good idea. Nice meeting you, Wendell,” the man said.

“Thanks to you, I’m living in a campground.”

“Actually,” the man looked at his watch, “there was just a fire at the campground.”

Wendell climbed inside Phillip’s VW van that smelled like cat liter. Phillip had no cats. “It was all there. The government’s out to get me.”

“That’s what I been telling you, dude,” Phillip said.

Phillip drove him out to the campground. The fire trucks were still parked near the restroom as the firemen packed up their hoses. Then, Wendell couldn’t believe his eyes.  His prized Coleman tent stood in front of him, unscathed.  Some guy with a beard in the next row over was crying as he surveyed what was left of his trailer.  But, Wendell’s tent was intact. His sleeping bag was intact.  He rummaged through his duffel bag.  His Pulitzer Prize trophy was still there.  The government couldn’t even burn out some poor homeless guy without screwing it up.  Life was suddenly good.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Great value!

Discount Offer

In keeping with the spirit of Black Friday, anyone can get 25% off the ebook version  of Six Guns Straight From Hell 2 now through the end of November.  As these are two different companies the codes are different.
For the ebook just go to smashwords.com  and enter coupon code  ST46K

Wait, there's more!
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Winter discontents

We don't really have seasons in the mountains of Colorado.  I mean, yeah the aspen trees turn yellow for a few days, but we don't have that crisp autumn weather. Most years, it goes from nice mild days to brrrr overnight.  That's what happened here this past week.  It was nice, then it was cold--really cold. It takes my mind some time to catch up and to reset from summer mode to winter mode.  I guess I'm finally converted over to winter mode now.  Now I check the thermometer on the porch. I don't know why.  It just seems like something you do when the snow is flying.  Now my thoughts turn from not catching fish to trying not to slip and break anything.

That's the big difference from being a little kid and getting older. Little kids sort of bounce if they fall over. Last time I slipped on the ice I spent six weeks in physical therapy and was thankful I didn't break anything.  I'm really more of a summer person.  Five more months of this crap.  


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Very short stories

Caroline came running down to the kitchen, where her mother was making the morning coffee. "Mom, I was lying naked on my bed and the window washer guy looked in and saw me."
"Sweetie," her mother replied, "we don't have anyone who washes our windows."

***

Ralphie, the faithful golden retriever of the Jefferson family, bounded over and inside the Buick, ready to go for an exciting ride in the car. Then he realized the people in the car were not his family and the family Buick was parked next to the car he was in.

***

Johnnie, after spending eight hours trying to catch a fish at the pond, decided it was time to give up. He'd tried six different types of bait and three different types of fishing line to no avail.  Then, he nervously noticed a game warden was parked nearby and he had no license.  He went to his car and put away his gear.  The warden paid him no attention.  Guilt overcame him and he went over to the warden and said, "I don't have a license."

"Don't worry about it," said the warden.

"You're letting me go?"

"Well," said the game warden, "I couldn't figure out why some dumb ass would spend all day trying to catch fish in a sewage plant retaining pond. I guess you can use a break."