Friday, April 28, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Elayne Griffith and Kyla Ross

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are happy to welcome writers Elayne Griffith and Kyla Ross.

Elayne Griffith
Elayne Griffith

I grew up drawing, writing, reading, riding horses, and climbing trees in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I then ran off to L.A. for a degree in art and not a clue of what to do with it. After seven years of bumbling around in the city, and being laid off for the fifth time when the recession hit, I was broke and bored and bummed.

One day at a coffee shop while job hunting, I thought of the tiny black unicorn statue that I used to admire on my mom’s shelves at home. I used to imagine it coming to life and taking me to a magical land, and a whole story suddenly began unfolding before me! There began my writing journey.

It wasn’t until I’d finished that first novel that I realized that I’d found a passion and love for writing. I ran back home to the mountains, and with the tenacity of a Honey Badger I’ve been avidly creating many more works. I now reside in Oakland and go to Sci-Fi writers of San Fran with Terry Bisson whenever I have the opportunity. I believe in doing what truly makes you happy, if you have the luck and opportunity, for life is short!

Elayne's Works:

Following Amur (novella)

"Glory" (short story)

Elayne's Links:

Kyla Ross
Kyla Ross

Kyla Ross is a horror, thriller, and dark fiction writer from Detroit, Michigan. She posts suspense and horror flash fiction on her blog biweekly at and is the author of a collection of gruesome suspenseful short stories titled A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume One: Jilted Love. Her first erotic thriller novel, When We Swing, will be released Summer 2017.

Kyla's Book:

Kyla's Links:

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "My scariest experience."

I had to think about this.

I'm still thinking about it. I haven't had a lot of really scary experiences.

When I was young (like a teenager) I used to snow ski. One time I got off the lift, started skiing down the hill. I hooked an edge and fell forward toward a tree. I thought I was going to hit the tree hard and break something like my back. I remember thinking "This is going to hurt a lot." But somehow the snow stopped me before I hit the tree.

One scary moment came two winters ago driving in bad conditions. I talk about it here. Also on that trip, coming back (it was a one-day trip to Seattle), we had freezing rain. Luckily it was on snow not bare pavement so it wasn't like sheet ice like freezing rain can be. I was driving maybe 45 mph (on an interstate with a 70 mph speed limit) and as I came around a corner I felt the car wobble a bit as if it was close to losing its grip on the road. Just then I saw a car on its side in my lane (that I didn't see earlier because of the corner). Due to slickness I didn't dare hit the brakes or even slow too much as it might send me out of control. So I carefully and not too quickly changed lanes (of course, I couldn't see lane markers due to the snow) as the car continued to wobble. I made it into the left lane and went around the wrecked car. Then I was able to slow safely and get the car better under control. That was scary.

When I was young (like maybe 8) my family lived in a house with a basement. Most every night we'd have ice cream after dinner (my father really liked ice cream). So once it was my turn to take the ice cream back downstairs to where the chest freezer was. I didn't bother to turn on the lights because I knew the room was empty and I could see the orange glow of the chest freezer's indicator light to guide me to it. As I was walking, I suddenly thought I saw a white face in front of me. Or maybe I didn't see it. But I dropped the ice cream and ran upstairs screaming. I thought I'd seen a ghost.

Probably the scariest of those three is the middle one. Which interestingly is not supernatural at all.

What scary experiences have you had? Comment below!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Movie Review: The Founder

Last week I watched the movie The Founder about how Ray Kroc turned McDonald's into the fast food empire it is today.

A lot of people have said this movie is anti-capitalism or anti-free markets. I disagree. Yes, according to the movie, Kroc did some not completely ethical things. But he didn't do things that hurt people. He claimed he started McDonald's (he didn't) and he claimed he came up with the "speedy system" that made McDonald's the first fast food restaurant (he didn't). None of that is illegal, either.

I think what a lot of people worry about is the McDonald brothers. But they actually came out pretty well. They were doing okay, I suppose, before Kroc came along. But they tried to franchise and it didn't work. Kroc managed to franchise McDonald's and after some mistakes and false starts, he figured out how to make it work and how to make it profitable. A lot of people got richer (or rich) and a lot of people got jobs because of what Kroc did.

The McDonald brothers each got $1 million after taxes in the final buy-out. Now days $1 million isn't that impressive. But in 1961, when Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers, that $1 million was worth more than $8 million in today's dollars. And they each got that much. If they wanted, they never had to work another day in their lives. In today's terms, invest $8 million at 5% interest and you'd make $400,000 a year. Live off $300,000 (you can live pretty well on that) and reinvest $100,000 a year to keep your equity growing.

And the McDonald brothers would have never made that kind of money doing what they were doing until Kroc took the restaurant national.

However, the McDonald brothers also asked for 1% of McDonald's profits "in perpetuity." That is, forever. Kroc said that would have to be a "handshake agreement" because his backers wouldn't allow it. And the McDonald brothers went for it. Now I was in business and I know a "handshake agreement" isn't worth the paper it's not written on. If it's not written down, it doesn't exist. The movie makes it sound like Kroc, who became a billionaire, screwed the McDonald brothers out of that 1%. But the McDonald brothers never should have agreed to a "handshake agreement." Business is brutal. It has to be. The McDonald brothers weren't good enough businessmen. Ray Kroc apparently was.

And look what Kroc accomplished. How many people had their first job at McDonald's? How many people got rich as McDonald's franchisees? I look at that and think Kroc did an amazing thing that the McDonald brothers couldn't.

Micheal Keaton does a great job playing Kroc. Laura Dern plays his first wife (who Kroc divorces to marry someone else, and yes, that was a jerk move). It was a well-made and interesting movie. And if you look at it from a business perspective, a very interesting movie.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Jayne Barnard and Felicia Cash

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are happy to welcome writers Jayne Barnard and Felicia Cash.

Jayne Barnard
Jayne Barnard

Jayne is a founding member of Madame Saffron's Parasol Dueling League for Steampunk Ladies and the author of the Aurora-nominated Maddie Hatter Steampunk adventures for adventurous women aged 12 to 92. Drawing on her early psychology studies, she's also a longtime crime writer, with numerous award-winning short stories to her credit. Fueled by love of the wild, she’s at work on a trilogy of wilderness suspense novels for Dundurn Press. She divides her writing year between the Rocky Mountain wilderness near Calgary, Alberta and a rocky Pacific shore on Vancouver Island.

Jayne's Books:

Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond

Enigma Front: Burnt

Maddie Hatter and the Gilded Gauge

Jayne's Links:


Felicia Cash
Felicia Cash

I am a full-time mother of five, with three adopted girls and two bio boys. I am currently homeschooling all of them, so that doesn’t leave a ton of time for writing, as I’m sure you can imagine. However, writing is my passion and has been since I was a little girl. It is actually through my writing that I came to be an adoptive mother, and through being an adoptive mother, I believe that my writing has matured.

Felicia's Book:

The Last Sorcerer (book one of the Aurelius Series)

Felicia's Link:


From today's program: Ceres has Briny Volcanoes.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Life Lesson I have Learned

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "A Life Lesson I have Learned."

Oh boy, this one is tough.

If someone (a job, a boss, a spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend, a relative) tries to make you be something you're not, it's not worth it. You'll be miserable. And when you're miserable, you aren't having much joy in your life.

It took me a long time to learn that.

Okay, that was short.

What life lessons have you learned? Comment below.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with William Alan Webb and Stephanie Osborn

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers William Alan Webb and Stephanie Osborn.

William Alan Webb
William Alan Webb

I’m the world’s oldest teenager. At a stop light you might hear my car thumping as I crank up the rock and roll, or wonder why I don’t get a haircut and a real job.

I was born and raised in West Tennessee, during the days when kids were allowed to get dirty and play with toy guns. My earliest memories are of a particular TV show (I was 2 at the time) and falling asleep watching it on our den floor, and reading books. I get bored quite easily, but for some reason books were like my soulmates. To this day, give me a beach and a book and I’m good to go.

I’m insatiably curious, too. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t, but I am. Don’t take me into a museum, we’ll never leave.

We have six dogs in our house, four of them rescues and one a gift. I like people well enough, but dogs won’t let you down. I’ve never been a cat person, yet we have one cat out of two kittens I pulled out of the middle of a highway after somebody abandoned them there. He’s an old bag of bones now, but Mr. Baggins has the run of the place.

Maybe I’m a cat person after all.

William's Books:

Standing The Final Watch (The Last Brigade, Book 1)

Standing In The Storm (The Last Brigade, Book 2)

The Last Attack: Sixth SS Panzer Army and the Defense of Hungary and Austria, 1945 (Nonfiction)

William's Links:


Stephanie Osborn
Stephanie Osborn

Stephanie Osborn, award-winning Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a 20+-year space program veteran, with multiple STEM degrees. Author, co-author, or contributor to 30+ books, including Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281 and the Cresperian Saga, she writes critically-acclaimed Displaced Detective, Silver-Falchion winner Gentleman Aegis, and the new Division One, her take on the urban legend of mysterious people who make things...disappear. She "pays it forward" through numerous media, and SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

Stephanie's Books:

Alpha and Omega (Division One book 1)

A Small Medium At Large (Division One book 2; available for pre-order)

Fear in the French Quarter (Displaced Detective book 6)

Stephanie's Links:


From Today's Program: Ceres Has Organic Molecules

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Well, Somebody Has to Say It . . .

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "Well, somebody has to say it..."

Well, tax day is coming soon. So I'll say our tax system is a horrible bollixed-up mess.

Okay, something else.

I support indie authors. I am a semi-indie author. Some of my books are traditionally published by a small-press publisher and some I've published myself.

But some (perhaps just a small minority) of indie authors suck. Then they get their friends and family to give them 5-star reviews (something I've never done). These authors are bad writers and they don't get adequate editing done. Part of that is NaNoWriMo, I think. Someone writes a manuscript in 30 days ending in November, and they think "I need to get this on the Kindle just in time for Christmas."

NaNoWriMo has taken steps to encourage writers to revise and edit their manuscripts. So I hope that is getting to happen less.

So, if you are a writer, you need to edit and revise your work, then edit and revise your work. And finally, edit and revise your work. Then have someone else proofread and edit it. And I hope that person will be brave enough to tell you it sucks, if it does.

There, I said it.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Len Berry and Georgina Young-Ellis

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are please to welcome writers Len Berry and Georgina Young-Ellis.

Len Berry
Len Berry

Len Berry studied biology before turning his imagination toward writing. In his spare time, Len enjoys drawing, watching anime, and playing an occasional video game. He is the author of the dystopian e-book Vitamin F, and several steampunk and fantasy short stories. Len's art can be found in the book Elegance.

Len's Works:

"The Mirror of Tila" (short story in an anthology)

Scars Of Shadow

"There Are Always Three of Them" (short story in an anthology)

Len's Links:


Georgina Young-Ellis
Georgina Young-Ellis

Georgina lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband who is an artist, writer, and teacher. They have a son who is a professional musician in New York City, where they all lived for eighteen years. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, and was a stage actress for many years. Born and raised in the Southwest, she went to school in New York City, graduating from New York University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater. She is also a screenwriter, journalist, film/theater critic and blogger.

Georgina's Books:

Georgina's Links:

From Today's Program: Hubble Spies on Ancient Galaxies.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Guilty Pleasures

Once again it's time for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "Ten guilty pleasures."

I don't know if I have ten guilty pleasures. I'll try.

One: The movie Smokey and the Bandit. Low-brow, country-fried comedy from the late 1970s. But it still makes me giggle.

Two: Driving fast. Usually I set the cruise control five miles per hour over the posted speed limit. But every now and then I'll find a back country road and hit felonious velocities. The roads around here tend to be arrow-straight so high speeds are easy to hit. Curvy roads are also fun to drive fast even if you don't hit high speeds, but there are scarce in this flat part of Washington State.

Three: The movie The Seven Year Itch. Yes, it's from 1955 and yes, it's very politically incorrect in many ways that may grate on our modern sensibilities (especially the opening). But I find it hilarious, probably because my mind works almost exactly like the main character's does.

Four: Pizza. Pepperoni pizza to be exact.

Five: The Simpsons. Yes, the show has been on forever (since 1989) and has lost some of its early bite (political correctness has affected it, too), but it so often is funny and sometimes is relevant.

Six: Five Guys Burgers. Amazing burgers and fries to die for. They've started doing shakes recently. And those are very very delicious. I avoid them.

Seven: Family Guy. Not as funny as it was at the beginning and very irreverent and often cringe-worthy, it still has some funny moments. And sometimes is just hilarious.

Eight: The Princess Bride. The book, not the movie.

Nine (I'm running out of ideas): Netflix Marvel series. I started watching Jessica Jones because I'm a fan of Krysten Ritter (okay, I think she's cute) and that got me hooked. I've now watched the first season of Jessica Jones, two season of Daredevil, and the first season of Luke Cage.

Ten: University of Washington Husky football. If you've read this blog, no need to go into details.

Wow, I came up with ten. I'm somewhat surprised.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Once Upon a 24 Legacy

Sometimes when I'm watching movies or television, I'll recognize and actor and wonder where I've seen them before. This happened when I was watching Sunday night's Once Upon a Time episode. So what I'll often do is open the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) app on my iPhone and look them up. I was trying to figure out why the actor who was playing Jafar (yes, from Aladdin; if your haven't seen Once Upon a Time it loves to mash up Disney characters) seemed so familiar. So I looked him up on the IMDb. And found the actor is Oded Fehr. And Oded Fehr is playing the villain, Asim Naseri, a Middle Eastern terrorist, on the new show 24: Legacy, based on the old 24 with Kiefer Sutherland (who is an executive producer on the new show).

So Mr. Fehr has an opportunity to show off his acting chops, playing the evil Jafar in the fantasy show Once Upon a Time and then playing the evil Naseir in the action show 24: Legacy. Yes, both characters are evil, but Jafar is a different kind of evil than Nasier.

But when you DVR the shows and watch them one after the other, it's a bit jarring to have the same actor in both shows that are completely different types of programs.

And, here's how my brain works: both shows deal with time as in once upon a time and 24 hours in a day.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring into Reading Giveaway 2017

It's time for the "Spring into Reading Giveaway 2017!" There are hundreds of prizes including paperback and ebooks and a Grand Prize of $100 Paypal cash. Enter here and good luck:

a Rafflecopter giveaway