Thursday, June 30, 2022

Fourth of July Sale!

I think for every Fourth of July since I published Political Pies – my collection of short stories of a political nature – I’ve had a free sale for it.  On one hand, it’s hard to make money if you give your books away for free, but on the other hand the point of Political Pies was to get people to start thinking about politics in the hope we could start working on some of the problems we face to make a better world.  I’ll sacrifice a few sales for that.  At first, I only offered Political Pies by itself, but in the last few years I’ve started having bigger sales with four or five of my books for free.  This year, I think I’m having my biggest Fourth of July Sale with eight of my Kindle books available for free.  That’s 188 short stories all for the price of eight clicks. 

But before you go and snag some free books to read, I have a favor to ask.  If you are an American citizen who will be over eighteen by Election Day, November 8th of this year, all I ask is that in the next few days you either double check your voter registration or register to vote, your state’s website should have all the necessary details.  Democracy only works if the people participate and the first step of participation is to be registered to vote.  So if you do that, I’m happy to let you have several of my books for free.  And if you aren’t an American citizen, then I’ll ask you to get involved in your nation’s politics in whatever way you can.

The following ebooks will be free to download on Kindle between Friday July 1st, and Tuesday July 5th.

 


Relics

This work contains some profanity and sexual situations. It is intended for mature audiences only.

A plague that kills men has devastated the world’s population. Only a few thousand boys and men were able to be quarantined. But Mike Shay is the only man known to have a natural immunity to the plague. Therefore, he is practically the only man in a world of women. He spends his days reading, playing video games, and making the occasional sperm donation. Then Dr. Veronica Barrett shows up, disrupting what passes for his life. She says she’s there to investigate his “mental wellbeing,” but is there more to her visit?

Instead of the normal, adolescent, heterosexual male fantasy of being the only guy on a planet of women, “Relics” tries to give a more realistic view of Mike’s life.

Duty

For reasons of safety and avoiding paradoxes, Time Travel Incorporated assigns a Guardian to all its travelers. So when there is an accident during political historian Roj Hasol’s trip back to 1968, it’s his Guardian Susan who sets out on the arduous task of cleaning up the mess.

Political Pies

Everybody complains about politics, but does anyone do anything about it? My attempt to do something about it is to collect forty of my short stories with a political element into my Political Pies anthology. The stories are either politically neutral or equally condemning of the national parties. Instead of trying to sway you to one ideology or another, my goal is to just get people thinking about politics in the hopes a rose might grow out of all the political manure.

A Man of Few Words

A Man of Few Words is a collection of fifty of my flash fiction stories. What would really happen if a “T-Rex on steroids” attacked a city? Why do science fiction writers make the best lovers? How does a company get to Second Base with VIPs? I explore these questions and more using less than 1,000 words and in various genres from humor to horror and general fiction to science fiction.

The majority of the stories were previously published (most on my website) but all were revised for this collection. In addition, each piece is accompanied by some background information on the origin of the story or a funny tale about the writing of it to give a fuller experience.

Useless Cogs

Useless Cogs is a collection of forty, of my science fiction stories. They range from only a few dozen words to a few thousand and are filled with time travelers, AIs, clones, aliens, even sexbots, although not often as you would imagine. As example, there’s a time traveler that’s always a step behind, an AI that’s late on rent, and a sexbot with bad software. Some of the stories are humorous, some horrifying, and some … depend on your point of view.

The Only Certainty

On The Day, for reasons unknown, people began changing. They went to sleep as their old selves and woke in their beds in different bodies: bodies that had belonged to other people. And each time they fall asleep, they wake in a new body. Set months later, “The Only Certainty” follows Derrick Gorton on an average day in this new world as he deals with food shortages, the semi-collapse of society, and how to finish his latest novel.

Seventh Story Stockpile

Over the years, I’ve posted several short stories on websites that later – for one reason or another – died. While the corpses of some of these sites are still around where you can read the stories, many have vanished from the internet. And since there are few sites that will publish such previously published works, the only way you could read them was if I self-published them in a collection.

In addition to such “lost” stories, I’ve included some new stories that – for one reason or another – I felt I’d have a hard time finding someone to publish them. So Seventh Story Stockpile basically contains stories I didn’t know what else to do with.

The All-You-Can-Read Buffet

The All-You-Can-Read Buffet is a collection of forty stories covering various genres and themes ranging from six to over 4,200 words in length. Some of these stories I wrote a decade ago, while others were written especially for this collection. All together, they are a buffet of my writing. As such, I encourage you to read as much as you want. Go back for seconds, thirds, fourths even. I won’t even mind if you skip over the stuff you don’t like, but, to quote your mother, “How do you know you don’t like it? Have you tried it?”

Monday, June 13, 2022

Random Story – Showing my apartment

Years ago, some friends and I decided to get an apartment together, so I let the landlord of my first apartment know I was moving out.  They said they’d want to show my apartment to others and that they would call to let me know when they’d be there to show it.  A week or so later, they called and said that they’d be showing it the next day at 9:00.  At the time, I worked midnight to 8:00, so I went home, changed, and then just walked around town until almost 10:00, because I really didn’t want to be there.  When I went back, nobody was there so I had dinner and went to bed. 

If that had been it, I probably would have forgotten about it.  But then a week or so later, I was in bed one afternoon and some pounding woke me.  I didn’t really pay any attention to it, but then it sounded like someone opened my door.  THAT SOUNDS LIKE SOMEONE OPENED MY DOOR!  I got up and got dressed, and went out and there was someone showing my apartment.  They said that someone should have called, and they did, like around 10:00 when I was asleep.  So there was this awkward moment where I wanted to be like, “Do you have any questions?” but at the same time there were these strangers poking around my apartment.

Things got weirder a week or so later when I woke to find a message on my answering machine that they would be there around 2:00 to show the apartment.  This was news to me at 6:00.  Did I sleep through them showing my apartment?  Did they open the bedroom door, only to see me?  Or did they cancel and just not show up?  I don’t know.  But after that I propped a chair up against the inside of my bedroom door.

When I got enough warning, I stayed out of my apartment, but there were a couple of times either nobody called, or I went out and came back but they were running late, and so there were a couple awkward meetings.  I think in the last six or seven weeks I was there, they showed the apartment about twenty times.  I think they even showed it three times one day.  I don’t know the exact number, because I don’t know how many I slept through.  Since then I’ve wondered if it’s normal to show an apartment that many times, or was my first apartment just that bad?  I mean, it would have been in July and I didn’t have any air conditioning. 

 

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

I watched a meteor storm and all I got was a stiff neck

There was a chance the 2022 Tau Herculids meteor shower would be a storm.  I’d love to see a meteor storm, I mean, if I had a time machine, I would repeatedly go watch The Great Leonids Meteor Storm of 1833.  So I was cautiously hopeful I’d finally see one.

I went out just after midnight, and went to stand beside a shed to block a neighbor’s light.  The sky was about half hazy, so I was feeling worried.  But I was only there for a minute or so when I saw a short, but bright one.  I walked around for a bit trying to find a good spot and seeing a few.  The dog had come out with me, so I put him back in and grabbed a chair. 

I was outside for about eighty minutes, and in that time I saw 33 meteors.  About half were dim little blips, but the rest lasted for about a second and were fairly bright.  I did see three in about a minute.  Of course, it was a long, bright one at the top of my field of view, another long, bright one at the bottom of my field of view, and a dim little blip right where I was looking.  And then I’d wait about five minutes to see the next.

At the end, my neck was sore, I was getting a bit cold, and it was past the predicted time of a storm, so I told myself I’d wait until the next one.  Three or four minutes later, #32 was a dim little blip.  I can’t end like that, I thought.  So I waited for about five minutes without seeing any more.  It got to the point where I started counting down from 100, and if I got to 0 I’d go in.  But I only got to 88 when a nice, long, bright one became #33.


Also while I was out, I saw three unrelated meteors.  One went in the opposite direction, and the other two were at almost 90 degrees to other meteors in that part of the sky.  I also saw one satellite, about twenty planes, and who knows how many goddamned fireflies.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Random Story – Three quick stories.

These are just odd little stories from my life.

When I got my learner’s permit thirty years ago, there was a deal where if you drove for so many hours with an instructor from school, your parents would get a discount on their insurance.  I don’t know what setup they have nowadays.  Anyway, one day while I was driving with the instructor, I was going down this road with houses on one side and woods on the other.  I saw a cat jump out of the weeds right in front of me and before I could do anything, I heard a thump.  I think the instructor was making notes on a clipboard and didn’t say anything, so I kept going.

One time in college, I was walking somewhere with a girl.  I can’t remember if it was getting dark and I was just walking her back to her dorm from some event, or what.  But she talked for a while, and then said, “Tell me about yourself.” I thought for a moment, then replied, “I was born.” She laughed, but when I didn’t elaborate she started talking about something else.


This other time in college, I got a box of donut holes and a 1L Coke from the convenience store a few blocks from campus.  I can’t remember if my friends and I were playing poker, or watching movies, or what.  But I ate the entire box and drank the entire liter, and it made me feel queasy.  Just to be sure, a week or so later I repeated the experiment, and got the same results. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Short story – “Change for the Better?”

“Change for the Better?”

“Let me get this straight, you want to preach the word of God to …”

The young man interrupted with, “Yes, it’s my purpose in life.”

“Right.  You don’t run a megachurch, do you?”

“No.”

“Have a cable show?”

“No.”

“Radio show?”

“No.”

“Website?”

“No.”

“How did you plan to reach people with your message?”

The young man smiled.  “I will walk among them.”

“Listen, I understand.  What you want to do is noble and all, but if you want to be part of the big leagues, you’ll have to put aside such rank amateur ideas.”

The young man frowned.  After a few moments he nodded.  “I understand.”

“Great.  Let’s start you off with something simple, an Instagram page.  Now, what was your name again?”

“Jesus.”

***

I first wrote this story back in 2009 and posted it on a website that is still up but the formatting is messed up.  So I figured I should repost it.  The point of the story is simple: if Jesus came back today, would he open a megachurch or would he slip on a pair of sandals and go among the people?

Monday, April 11, 2022

Random Story – Trying to explode my VCR

This is just an odd little story from my life.

Twenty-fiveish years ago, one of my guilty pleasures was reading the Weekly World News.  I didn’t believe any of the stories, and just laughed at the idea that there were people out there that probably did believe all that shit.  But I felt safe knowing those people would only be on the fringe of society and they’d never … I don’t know … be elected to Congress. 

Anyway, sometime in 1998 or 1999, there was an article about Y2K.  Now the normal fear was that going from 19-- years to 20-- years would cause computers to crash.  But this article claimed that things would be far worse and that any electronic device would explode at midnight. 

I don’t know if shortly before or after I read this article we had a power outage and I had to reset the time on my VCR.  So I performed an experiment.  I set the time on my VCR to 11:59 PM on December 31, 1999.  I then backed away and waited.  A minute later the display switched over to 12:00.  There was no smoke, or buzzing, or anything.  And when I checked the date, it was January 1, 2000.  I guess I had a “modern” VCR that replaced the explosive parts with the memory to have a four digit date. 


I was only slightly bummed.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Space Station Museum

Recently, there was news about how the International Space Station will one day be deorbited.  And this was met with cries of “Can’t it just be boosted into a higher orbit,” or, “Can’t it be turned into a museum?” and other such things.  And my knee-jerk reaction is that it should be preserved as a historic “building.” But then reality kicked in.  The station is getting old and there’s no telling how long some parts of it will stay safe.  Having a controlled reentry after all the crew and science are taken off is infinitely better than a catastrophic break up with crew – or tourists – onboard leaving a huge debris cloud that could damage satellites or other stations. 

While thinking on all of this, I realized that the ISS could live again someday as part of a museum.  This would be in orbit – as part of an even larger space station – and would start with models of everything: from spacecraft like the Vostok capsule of Yuri Gagarin, to the Space Shuttle, to the Chinese Shenzhou, as well as all the space stations from Skylab and Mir and the ISS.  And then there would be the full size versions, so the tourists could try to cram into a Mercury capsule or just float around in Mir.  These wouldn’t be a full recreation, there wouldn’t be any need for solar panels for example, just the interior space.  Any views out windows would just be video screens showing what would have been seen.  And since this would be in zero-g, you could cram things in any orientation they could fit.  Like you could have the Crew Dragon mockup squeezed in between the Tiangong and Salyut 1 mockups.  And this museum wouldn’t be the entirety of the complex.  Like you could be inside the Skylab section, and just on the other side of the bulkhead would be the linen closet for a hotel. 


While it will be a sad day when the ISS is deorbited, hopefully it will be replaced with bigger and better stations.  And while these replacements will primarily be used for science, they will one day be replaced with even bigger, even better stations that will still do science but will also hold tourists.  And as more and more humans live and work in space, hopefully someone will eventually build a space station museum so that future generations can marvel at how “small” the ISS was.