Sunday, March 1, 2015

To Seattle (area) and Back Again

Mt. Rainier
Yesterday I drove to the Seattle suburb of Redmond to pick up my son and bring him home for spring break. He doesn't drive so that necessitated the trip. Unlike my last trip to the Seattle area (to take him to school after the Christmas break), this was a pleasant trip, mostly, on a spring-like day.

Highlights of the trip: the roads were perfect, bare and dry the whole way. Traffic was a problem at times (especially in the metropolitan Seattle area, mostly caused by people taking on and off ramps very slowly). When you drive in the Bellvue/Redmond area (home of Microsoft) you notice (if you pay attention to such things) that the average type of car improves. The place is thick with Audis. I saw two high-end Porsche 911s. You almost always see at least one Tesla electric car and this trip was no exception. I even had a Nissan Leaf follow me on the freeway for a while (didn't know they could go that fast). And I saw a Jaguar F-Type in the wild for the first time ever. The sound of its exhaust note was nearly erotic as the car accelerated. And at throttle lift, it barked and snarled as a good English sports car should.

It was one of those days the tourist board likes to talk about. The Olympic Mountains were visible and we say Mount Baker (near the Canadian border) which I haven't seen from Seattle since my college days. Of course, Mount Rainier was visible and majestic from the Ryegrass rest stop in Eastern Washington to Issaquah's Rainier Lane street.

Now, if it just weren't for the traffic, it would have been a nearly perfect trip to the Seattle area.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Free Anthology Today and Tomorrow.

Today and tomorrow (Feb 28 - Mar 1), the Kindle version of Assassins, an anthology by the Central Washington Authors Guild, will be free. This book contains 11 tales of murder, mayhem, and mystery by an eclectic mix of writers. While all stories have to do with assassination and assassins, genres run from contemporary, science fiction, steam punk, and fantasy.

This is a chance to check out some great stories by a group of wonderful and diverse writers. Oh, and I have a story in there, too.

Check it out, for free today and tomorrow for the Kindle.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Alan Keith Parker and P.M. Griffin

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome Alan Keith Parker /Jack Parker and P.M. Griffin

Keith Parker / Jack Parker

Keith Parker
Keith Parker was born, raised, and lives in Huntsville, Alabama, where his family has lurked for generations behind tree stumps while watching for revenuers. At times he is transmogrified into an elephant, but those instances are rare.

For 20+ years he has pursued writing in the form of short stories, essays, and novels, none of which have made him rich, wealthy, or comfortably well-off. 

Fire Always Burns Uphill (2000) was his first published novel and, true to form, was caught up in a bizarre series of marketing fiascos that ultimately led to ... nothing. It is a story of love, adventure, and hay fever now available as a Kindle eBook (2011).

His second book, Entangled with Other Stories, is a collection of short stories/essays originally published by small presses in the 1990s. 

His third novel, Madness Rising, is a Young Adult/New Adult science fiction novel that he coauthored with Jack E. Parker. It will be available in 2015.

Parker keeps one foot in the arena of computer modeling, which keeps junk food in the fridge; his other foot is planted in the same neighborhood where authors such as Asimov, Bradbury, Gaiman, King, Niven, Sawyer, Scalzi, Simmons, Stephenson, Oates and Vonnegut lurk.

Jack Parker
Jack Parker tells jokes for his own entertainment, writes stories to stay out of trouble, writes poems because no one is listening, and writes music because he takes showers. He got a degree in English because he didn't know what to do next, a diploma in Russian because the Army told him to, and a degree in math and physics because he needed a job.

Jack is a music director and minister at his church, and an occasional missionary to Ukraine. To pay his wife's and children's bills, the former NASA engineer works as an engineer for the US Missile Defense Agency.

Unlike his co-author, Jack has not recently transmogrified into an elephant. 

Keith and Jack's books:

Keith and Jack's links:

P.M. Griffin

P.M. Griffin
P. M. "Pauline" Griffin has been writing since her early childhood.  She enjoys telling a good tale, and since she always works with characters and situations deeply interesting to her, she finds the research as rewarding as the scribbling/keying.

Griffin’s Irish love of story telling coupled with her passion for history, the natural world, and the above-mentioned research have to date resulted in twenty novels and twelve short stories, a number of award winners among them, all in the challenging realms of science fiction and fantasy.  She has also written several nonfiction articles, primarily for the Brooklyn Aquarium Society’s publication AQUATICA, several of which have won the Editors Choice for Excellence Award.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her cats Nickolette, Jinx, and Katie and three tropical fish aquariums.

Pauline's books:
Coming Soon

Fell Conquest (Kindle, Nook, KoboSmashwords)

Survivor (Kindle, Nook, Kobo)

Stand at Cornith (Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

From today's show: Metal Munching Microbes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Moderate a Con Panel

Two weekends ago I attended RadCon as a visiting professional (i.e., a writer). I was on four panels and had to moderate two. I was warned beforehand that one people on one of the panels was long-winded and hard to keep from dominating the discussion. So I came up with a plan. This is one way to moderate a con panel (probably not the only way):

1) I wrote six questions (I had help from fellow members of my writing group).

2) I set the alert on my countdown time to the most annoying sound I could find.

3) When the panel started, I explained that would ask a question and then start the timer for seven minutes. At the end of the seven minutes, we would go on to the next question. I chose seven minutes because 7 x 6 = 42 and that would leave me 18 minutes for introductions and questions at the end (some of the panel members were so long-winded in their introductions I wanted a time then, too).

4) I would ask the question and hit the timer.  When the timer went off, I would let the person finish their thought and then move on to the next question.

This seemed to work very well, although the long-winded person got annoyed at being interrupted by the timer, it did keep her from dominating the panel. There was time for questions at the end and one of the audience members approached me to say she thought my method worked very well.

It actually worked better on the panel with the long-winded person than the other panel. On the other panel they would cover about three of my questions in the first seven minutes. So I decided to let them talk longer and would pause the timer until I decided we'd beat that subject to death.

If I'm asked to moderate a panel again at a con, I will probably use this method again. It keeps the discussion moving and not stuck on one subject for too long.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with J.O. Bankole and Jim Musgrave

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are proud to welcome J.O. Bankole and Jim Musgrave

J.O. Bankole

J.O. Bankole
J.O. Bankole is a classroom teacher, artist, musician, and writer based in Los Angeles. Told as she imagines it, J.O. Bankole has a strong focus on positive Black cultural identity in her speculative fiction, which is seconded by a mandate to promote holistic health and community and global wellness. Ms. Bankole earned her Bachelors of Science Degree in Biochemistry from CSUDH.

J.O.'s book:

God’s Blood  (Amazon, B&N)

J.O.'s links:

Instagram: @fumilionarts

Jim Musgrave

Jim Musgravve
I taught English at Caltech and in San Diego and worked as Supervisor of Management Development through the Industrial Relations Center for over 20 years.  I am now the President and CEO of EMRE Publishing in San Diego.  We’re into development of tailored mobile marketing using our flagship eReader, the Embellisher and its accompanying sutie of DIY tools for enhanced eBook creators.

Jim's Books:

Forevermore (free)

Steam City Pirates (sample chapters with option to buy)

Pat O’Malley Detective series

Jim's Links:


From today's show: Solar Sail Launch

Friday, February 13, 2015

RadCon Schedule

Today (lucky Friday the 13th) kicks off RadCon in Pasco, WA. I am there and participating in panels.  Here is the schedule of panels I'll be on:


8:00 PM to 9:00 PM: Rocket Boots or Laser Guns: What Grunts Really Want Room 2209

12:30 PM to 1:30 PM: Can Not Put It Down Pacing Room 2207 (Moderating)
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM: Senses in Writing Room 2207 (Moderating)
6:30 PM to 7:30 PM: Celebrating the Side Character? Room 2207
I will be at RadCon through Sunday so look for me. I will have swag:

Also, the Central Washington Writers' Guild will have a dealer room selling books, crochet items, pictures, and arts and crafts. It's in room 2129 in the Dealers' Annex. All my books will be there with special RadCon pricing.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Driving . . . Faster

I heard a rumor that Montana might raise it's rural speed limit to 85 mph. My first thought: How can I find an excuse to drive in Montana? I might not even do my usual 5 mph over the speed limit. Although 90 mph on some of those long, lonely stretches of highway in Montana might not be so bad. Come to think of it, back when Montana didn't have a speed limit, I was doing over 100 mph on some of those roads.

Utah and Idaho (at least) have raised some interstate speed limits to 80 mph. Unfortunately, they did that since I was last in Idaho.

I've often thought the speed limit on I-90 between Ellensburg and Sprague here in Washington State should be 80 mph (it's now 70).

But (except maybe in Montana) speed limits are not set for convenience and safety, but to maximize revenue. Michigan did a study and found that raising speed limits from 55 to 70 increased safety. Why? Because with a 55 mph speed limit, the speed differences between cars was as much as 20 mph (some were going 55 or slower, some were going 75 or faster). Raising the speed limit to 70 meant fewer cars were going slow so the speed difference between cars (a large factor in automobile crashes) decreased. And the average speed on the road with the 55 mph speed limit was 74 mph. With a 70 mph speed limit, it was 72.

A study also found that it's safer to drive faster than traffic then slower than traffic. You're more likely to be in an accident at 10 mph under the speed limit that at 10 mph over the speed limit. But who gets tickets?

Now, admittedly, I like to drive fast. But I try to drive fast responsibly. I used to drive on a racetrack but the costs got to be too much. Not so much the fees, but the replacement costs of tires and brakes which you wear out very fast on a racetrack. So if I do drive fast I pick empty roads. Luckily, where I live, there's a few of those. Unfortunately, they tend to be straight and taking curves fast is so much more fun.

And now maybe I'll have to find an excuse to go to Montana. There's this curvy part of I-90 between the Idaho border and Missoula . . .