Thursday, June 21, 2018


Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is simply: "Shakespeare."

What about him?

In high school we read four Shakespeare plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Cesar, and Macbeth. We read one per year, which was about all I could handle because Elizabethan English was hard. Then in college at the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!), I took a class in which we read four plays in one quarter (about three months). One was Othello and one was The Tempest. I think one was Much Ado About Nothing (it was). I don't remember the fourth. It might have been Antony and Cleopatra. And I found if  you read Shakespeare, the more you read the easier it is to understand. I think we also read some sonnets.

Shakespeare is, of course, considered the greatest playwright of all time. But for modern readers or play goers, it's tough to get past the Elizabethan English (also called "Early Modern English"). Then you wonder if people will be reading David Mamet in 400 years ("Coffee is for closers").

I don't know about that. I know my life was made richer by having to read Shakespeare, even though at the time I hated it.

How do you feel about Shakespeare? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S.: Today is the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere. It happened at 6:07 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time (3:07 A.M. my time). Today is the day with the longest amount of daylight in the year. How much daylight depends on your latitude.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Speaking with Kids

Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "Speaking with kids."

Not exactly sure what they want here. My kids are all in their 20s so I speak with them as adults.

But if I'm talking to a younger child, I try not to talk down to them. I don't use words they won't understand, but I try not to belittle them as I speak with them. When I was a kid, I hated when adults talked to me as if I were stupid or uneducated (even though I pretty much was).

I don't really have a lot of chances these days to speak with kids. My kids are grown and I don't have any grandchildren, yet. But I still practice my habit of not speaking down to children whenever I do speak with young folk.

How about you? How do you speak with children? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Favorite Movie

Back to the 52-day blogging challenge and the next promote is "A Day in Your Life." Well, I pretty much covered that here. So the next one is "A favorite … book/music/movie." Covered music here. Covered book here. So I guess we'll do movie.

My favorite movie right now is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. My favorite of those three is Return of the King.

Now I'm a scifi guy. Until the release of the Return of the King, my favorite movie was The Empire Strikes Back. I guess that's still my favorite science fiction movie. But there's something about the Ring trilogy that is just amazing. The performances, the music, the action, everything is damn near perfect. And it's even better in the extended editions. Which I have on Blu-Ray and try to watch at least once per year. I know if you're a Tolkien purist, the movies take liberties. But on their own, they are marvelous.

My favorite movie of the past year or so is Dunkirk.

What's  your favorite movie? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Electric Vehicles...

Tesla Model S
I used to be completely against electric vehicles (or EVs in car talk). I thought they were expensive, had too little range, and most of them were probably as fun to operate as a toaster.

But now I'm kind of warming up to them. One reason is, their range is improving. A Tesla 100D has an EPA range of 335 miles. Of course, your range will vary depending on speed, how you accelerate, how much regenerative braking you do, if you run the heat or air conditioning, etc. I'd say you wouldn't want to count on more than 200 miles. But that would get you to Seattle from here.

The other reason I'm warming up to EVs is the performance they are capable of. A high-end Tesla Model S P100D sedan has been timed going zero to 60 mph in less than 2.3 seconds, which many supercars can't achieve. It is very difficult for a gasoline car to match those numbers because electric motors have all of their available torque at 0 rpm while an internal combustion engine needs to hit around 1,000 - 2,000 (or higher) RPM for maximum torque. (Torque, measured in foot-pounds, is the twisting energy a car can put on the road. And as Newton's Third Law tells us, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction, so the road pushes back on the car, propelling it forward.) Of course, using the "Ludicrous Speed," as Tesla calls it, will drain your batteries fast.

What's keeping me from buying an EV? First is the cost. A Tesla Model S P100D (with an EPA range of 315 miles) is $123,200 after a $7,500 federal tax credit. The least expensive Model S, the 75D with 259 EPA miles range, is still $71,000 after that federal tax credit. You can buy a very nice sports sedan with that kind of money.

(Your state may also have incentives. Washington State doesn't.)

The other thing keeping me away from EVs is recharge time. I can fill the tank on my car and get about 300 miles range in ten minutes. It takes hours to recharge an EV. How long depends on the source and the EV's battery size.

EVs make the most sense for commuting. Unless your commute is more than 150 miles, you can drive to work, drive home, and recharge your car over night. But few people can afford to own a car just for commuting. Which is why I see Teslas and even Nissan Leafs on the interstate. (The Nissan Leaf is one of those "fun as a toaster" kind of EVs.)

If the price can come down and the recharge time can be quickened to, say, half an hour. I might buy an EV in the future. Might. The Tesla Model 3 is suppose to be significantly cheaper than the S. But according to Car and Driver, that depends on the options. And it doesn't have the acceleration of the Model S. It's just a bit more fun to operate than a toaster, apparently.

So we'll see what the future holds.

Thursday, May 31, 2018


Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is simply "Smile." That's it. So I guess I'll talk about what makes me smile.

So, what makes me smile? Off ramp road racing makes me smile. This is how it goes. You head for a freeway off ramp as full freeway/interstate speed (say, 75 mph). There's no other cars in front of you taking the off ramp (this is important but doesn't happen all the time). You pull off the freeway/interstate and you slow down just enough to make the corners in the off ramp. Tires chirp in protest, the car careens around the corners. And you smile. Usually afterwards because while you're driving around the corners, you're too busy to smile.

That's just one thing that makes me smile. What makes you smile? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Getting Stuck in Traffic

Traffic Jam on Snoqualmie Pass
And once again, the 52-week blogging challenge. This week's prompt is "Getting stuck in traffic."

I hate getting stuck in traffic. I may complain about the small town I live in, but at least there aren't traffic jams. But when I go to the Seattle area, all bets are off. Seattle didn't invent the perpetual traffic jam, they just perfected it.

Sometimes going over Snoqualmie Pass you get into traffic, especially in the winter. But sometimes for no apparent reason.

And of course, coming back from seeing the August 21st eclipse, I ran into lots of traffic.

Now, as you should know if you read this blog, I like to drive. And I'm not looking forward to autonomous cars. But during traffic jams, I'd gladly hand over driving duties to a computer.

Audi has developed something called "Traffic Jam Pilot." They are going to offer it in their A8 top-of-the-line model. Unfortunately, it's not coming to the U.S. due to the regulatory and litigious environment (we like to sue)*. But I would love to have that on my car for traffic jams. So that is one good thing about autonomous cars: no more driving in traffic jams. In fact, it is thought autonomous cars may eliminate traffic jams. Which would be nice. But I'd still miss driving.

How do you feel about being stuck in traffic? Let me know in the comments below.

*"Traffic Jam Pilot" is beyond anything in the U.S. market right now. It is a nearly autonomous system that doesn't require the driver to pay attention like Tesla and Cadillac do. It would have been the first SAE Level 3 autonomous system sold in the U.S. Until the regulations dealing with nearly or completely autonomous cars are sorted out, it probably won't come to America.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. This week's prompt simply says "Contribution."

So I guess that's open to interpretation.

I contribute money to the Salvation Army, the Alzheimer's Association, and I know my wife gives money to her church. I also contribute to a local arts program.

I contribute to society by writing books that are fun to read and might educate a person a little. I also keep my lawn mowed and drive the speed limit (in my neighborhood, outside my neighborhood, all bets are off).

What contribution do you make to society? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S.: Tomorrow is the 38th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Another Blog Interview

Yet another blog interview about me. Check it out here and learn what I listen to while writing (it's probably not what you're thinking).  And a bonus cute kitty pic. Don't miss it.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Author Interview with...Me

Yesterday I was interviewed on JD's Writers Blog. Check it out here. Learn when I started writing and how I first got published.

My Favorite Music

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is: "A favorite … book/music/movie."
I talked about my favorite book here. So I guess we'll go to music.

I was thinking about this today. My favorite song of the 60s is probable "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream. My favorite song on the 70s is likely "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple. My favorite song of the 80s is "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits. That, even though Sting from the Police sings on it and the Police are one of my least favorite groups. My favorite song of the 90s is "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. My favorite song of the 2000s and the 10s is one I don't have to listen to.

My favorite overall "modern" song is "We're an American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad. I love the pounding rhythm of it.

But I don't just listen to modern music. I'd say my iPhone is about half full of classical music.

One of my favorite classical music pieces is from an opera. It's wondrously beautiful. Another is Beethoven's Ode to Joy, which is technically the fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony. The best part is 7:20 minutes into it. But it's all good.

In fact there are too many to list here.

What's your favorite music? And what do you think of my choices? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Time once again for the 52-week blogging challenge. The next prompt is: "I spend my money."

This probably refers to disposable income after paying for food, housing, etc.

I like to spend money on cars and gasoline. And maintaining them. If I had the means, I would own more cars. I'm so envious of people such as Jay Leno who own a bunch of cool and interesting cars. I love cars. Not sure why. I don't really like working on them (although when I drove on the racetrack, I had to). I just like driving them as fast as possible.

About all I do now is check the oil level and the tire pressures.

I also spend money on Starbucks. Every now and then I look at what my daily trip to Starbucks costs me and I shudder. But it's almost worth it to get out of the house and see people. I also use that time for reading.

I used to spend money on electronics. But other than my iPhone, that's not true. My computer is over seven years old. My stereo is around twenty years old. I replace things as they wear out or break.

So what do you spend money on? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

I Hate the Heat

Back to the 52-week blogging challenge. Today's prompt is "The heat – love or loathe it."

Loath it! It gets over about 80°F (27°C) and I'm dying. I am so glad for air conditioning. If it gets over 90°F (32°C) I'm dead. Okay, not really, but I absolutely don't want to be outside in the heat.

I've often said you can always dress warmer but you can't dress cooler once your naked. And society frowns on that in public.

Once when I was in the Army, we had exercises at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (also known as 29 stumps). It was in August and Twentynine Palms is in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Highs were in the 120°F (49°C) range. Lows at night were around 90°F (32°C). I was miserable. And that was back when I was in good shape. It was so hot that your clothes would have salt in the creases under the arms, behind the knees, and inside the elbows from your sweat. I remember pouring salt on everything I ate.

I'm not exactly crazy about the cold, either. If it gets below about 0°F (-18°C), I'm pretty miserable, too. But at least I can put on a coat.

That's why I like spring and autumn as seasons. It's rarely too hot and rarely too cold. And the roads are bare so you can enjoy driving. And I like to drive.

How do you feel about that heat? Or the cold. Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I'm Inspired By....

 I found another 52-week writing challenge. I found it here. It's supposed to be for 2017 but I'm doing it in 2018. It seems to have new questions.

The first one is "I'm inspired by..."

This is kind of funny because one question I asked all my guests on the Speculative Fiction Cantina was "What motivates and inspires you." So now the tables have been turned, sort of.

I'm inspired by being read by strangers. I want people I don't know to enjoy my writing. This is what keeps me writing. That, and I enjoy it. It's not the money (believe me), it's being red by strangers. Of course, the more strangers who read me, the more money I make.

So that's what inspires me. What inspires you? Tell me in the comments below.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Going to Party Like It's 2028

Back to the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm doing in 30 (or so) weeks. Here's one I skipped back in February. So I'll do it now.

The prompt is: "How do you see yourself in ten years?"

Well, older. When you're my age, ten years isn't all that much.

I'm 57 years old now, mostly retired, and I write. When I'm 67, I don't know. I'll probably still be writing. I'll probably have more health problems (or the ones I have now will be worse). I'm hoping I'll still be alive. I might take my self-driving car to the Senior Center and have coffee every morning (my father does that now, well, except for the self-driving car part).

I'm really going to hate self-driving cars. Someone once said, "The speed limit will likely go up with self-driving cars." I said, "What good is a faster speed limit if I can't drive it?"

I probably will have even less hair than I have now, and probably none of it will be red anymore.

I will be fully eligible for Social Security. If that's still a thing.

Probably not a whole lot more will change. I will probably have broken down by then and bought a tablet computer. Or a eyePhone (that's not a typo).

Where do you see yourself in ten years? Comment below.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Technology Traps

Something got me thinking the other day about "technology traps." These thoughts aren't original with me, but I learned the concept from James Burke.

What's a technology trap? Loosely, it's a situation technology puts us in that, without that technology, we'd be in big trouble. For instance, say there's an EMP attack on the US and most of our technology goes away. You can't go to Safeway to buy food because it's too far to walk and if you can get there, there'd be no food because there's no trucks to bring it in. Unless you can farm (without mechanized farm equipment), you'll starve to death. Do you know how to hitch up a horse to a plow? I don't.

I think nothing of driving 100 miles away. It takes an hour and a half, about. But what if that EMP attack happened when I was 100 miles from home? That's a minimum five day walk home. With no food or water. I'd basically be stuck where I was. Even going to Starbucks is a five miles drive. A five mile walk is much more difficult.

Some people have to think about this. If you live in Alaska or Arizona, you need to be prepared for car breakdowns. Otherwise you could freeze to death or die of heat stroke before you could get to safety. A girl transferred to my high school from Phoenix, Arizona. She said all students were required to take a desert survival class. If your car breaks down and you're ten miles from help and it's 110 degrees out... Or your car breaks down, you're ten miles from help, and its 40 below because you're in Alaska.

Of course, with cell phones, it's not quite so urgent. Unless your cell phone battery dies.

I even think about this at times. Driving over Snoqualmie Pass in the winter, I make sure I have a full tank of gas, warm clothes, food and water, cell phones and phone chargers in the car. Which is not everything the Washington State Department of Transportation recommends.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Small Town/Rural Life Requires Cars

A while back I read an article by a guy who lives in New York City celebrating all that could be had on the block he lived on. There were restaurants and shopping and grocery stores and little mom-and-pop businesses. And he could walk to all of them. And, of course, the next block over, not very far away, were more delectations of city life. Anything he couldn't walk to there were, of course, the subway, buses, or taxis.

He owns a car, but he keeps it at his country house (the guy's a successful non-fiction writer) where it was needed.

And it made me think about the block I live on which I suspect is bigger than his block (it's one mile in circumference). And on my block there are...houses.

I live in a subdivision outside a small town. There are farms a few streets over and there the blocks tend to be one-mile by one-mile squares. People who live out there are miles from their nearest neighbor, sometimes.

The nearest store of any kind to my house is three miles away and it's a gas station/convenience store. The nearest grocery store is probably closer to six miles away. And those farmers, try twenty or so miles to the nearest store.

What about public transportation? There is a bus system, but it's very limited and doesn't serve rural

Anything exotic is probably more like 70 to 100 miles away in larger towns/cities. Such as good sushi.

I don't think some people who live in cities understand why some of their fellow Americans needs cars. And gasoline cars, not plug-ins. If you need to go grocery shopping, you don't want to wait 8 hours for your car battery to charge. If you need to go to the emergency room, you really don't want to wait.

And we need reasonably-priced gasoline while you're at it.

Now I like cars. But cars are also necessary tools in rural areas. And I think some policy makers from large cities don't understand that.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Letter

Time once again for the thirty-day blogging challenge that I'm doing over approximately thirty weeks (I am skipping some). The penultimate prompt is "Something/someone that inspires you." Well, I already covered this earlier. So we'll skip that one and go to the last prompt: "A letter so someone. Anyone."

Wow, need to think about this.............

Okay, here we go:

Dear Naysayers:

You said I couldn't. You said no one would be interested in what I write. But you were wrong, according to my book sales. At least some people are interested. At least some are interested, enough to sell some books. No, I'm not a New York Times best selling author and I may never be. But I'm doing what I love and what I love to do is write.

Of course, the fact I can write for a living has to do with my twenty years working hard in the corporate world, where I did not fit in very well. The corporate world wants creativity in some areas and conformity in all others. Not a good combination, especially for me, a born rebel. But if I had to live off what I make writing, I would be living in a cardboard box.

So, you naysayers, go away. Let me write. Let me live my life as I wish.

Rebelliously Yours,


Sunday, March 18, 2018


Today my interview with the Horrible Writing podcast goes live. If you want to hear it, it's here. I talk about writing and my struggles with bipolar. I'm very honest and open about it. And I talk about some horrible writing. Yes, horrible writing that I did.

So check it out on the Horrible Writing podcast.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I Miss...

Driving on the Racetrack
Time once again for the thirty-day blogging challenge that I'm doing in about thirty weeks. Getting close to the end. And today's prompt is: "Something/someone that you miss."

There was this barista at Starbucks who quit...

Oh never mind.

My maternal grandmother died in the 1980s (I don't remember the exact year, but I'm thinking 1985, "the year of funerals" because that's also the year my mother-in-law died). But I think about her every day, nearly. We were very close. I named my oldest son "Owen" because her maiden name was Owen (her father was Owen Jones Owen).

When I get out of the shower, I turn off the light in the shower even though I'm still pretty wet. I can hear my grandma saying "don't do that!" She was always worried about electricity. I wondered if that was because she didn't have it when she was growing up so it was novel to her. I don't know. I should ask my mother about that. My mother has told me that when she was a little girl their phone number was "7."

My grandma wasn't physically affectionate. I'd sort of have to insist on hugs. But we were still close. She lived with us for a time when I was almost a teenager. She would sit by the window for hours, just looking out. My mother said she was praying.

So I miss grandma, still.

Something I miss? I miss driving on the racetrack. I would do it except for the expense and I don't think it would be good with my health issues.

What do you miss? Comment below.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Television Review: The Americans

I have just watched the first season of The Americans on Blu-Ray from Netflix. And my first impression is that it is a very well-made program.

The Americans is about KGB spies in the United States in the eighties. They pose as a married couple (so much so they have children together) who work at a travel agency. But they spend most of their time trying to gather intelligence or turn people to spy for them. Keri Russell, who is always gorgeous, plays the woman and Matthew Ryes plays her "husband."

The show is interesting in that it has you rooting for the bad guys, sort of like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad did. You don't want these Soviet spies to get caught. But then again, you don't want them to succeed. Since it's set in the 80s, you know that they don't.

Their neighbor is an FBI agent who, ironically, is looking for Soviet spies. That adds a bit of tension. He also turns a Russian who works in the Soviet Embassy in D.C. That doesn't go exactly as he planned.

One thing I'm surprised about is how often they use sex to get what they want. But I suspect that's pretty accurate. It's also interesting to see the reactions of the spies to events. For example, when President Reagan was shot, they thought it might be a coup. At times you have to remind yourself that you're watching fiction, not a documentary.

One thing that does bother me is they talk about the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or "Star Wars") too early, in my opinion. Long before Reagan gave his speech about it, in any case.

The Americans is fast-paced, interesting, and often exciting. If you like watching the cat and mouse games of intelligence rivals (and apparently, I do), you'll enjoy this show.  Its final (and sixth) season starts March 28th. I'm really looking forward to watching all of it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

Back to the thirty day blogging challenge that I'm doing over about thirty weeks (because I've skipped some).

Today's prompt is: "If you could have any super power, what would it be?"

Well, as I explained here, I'd really like to be able to fly. Like Superman. Up, up, and away!

I've never been a big fan of superheros (despite my watching the Netflix/Marvel series) and never been a fan of comics. But, boy, would I like to fly.

It's interesting. When I was a kid, I would dream about flying. It was like swimming through the air (and just as slow). But I could float in the air and move as if I was swimming under water. I would also swoop down toward the ground then fly upward at the last moment. I think I last had those dreams when I was in junior high school (what they now call "middle school"). So I would have been 12 or 13. And then I stopped having those dreams. I don't know why.

But I'd really like to be able to fly. When I was a kid I wanted to be a pilot. By my bad eyesight ruined that. Then it was no money, then it was no time. Now I have no motivation to learn the complexities of flying privately.

But if I were an eagle....

What superpower would you like to have. Comment below.

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Lily Sleeping on My Arm
Back to the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm doing over 30 (about) weeks.

The next prompt is "Weird things you do when alone."

Well, the reason I do them when I'm alone is because I want to keep them private. Seems logical.

When I'm alone, I talk to my son's cat, Lily. But I do that when I'm not alone, too. We discuss metaphysical subjects, like if a rattly ball is as fun as my iPhone earbuds to play with.

I google random stuff to see what comes up. This is sort of like when I was a kid and I read the encyclopedia for fun.

Probably the weirdest thing I do when I'm alone is writing. I know, I know, as Robert Heinlein said:
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards."
So those are the weird things I do when alone. How about you? Anything you'll admit to? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina is Over

The Speculative Fiction Cantina is finished. The company, Writestream Radio, that paid the bills has gone out of business. Last week's show was the last one.

The Speculative Fiction Cantina started on October 10, 2014. Since then we've done 177 episiodes, 165 of them live. I estimate we've had about 300 authors as guests. Hard numbers are difficult to come up with because occasionally guests wouldn't show up.

We had four special episodes. One with author/rocket scientist, one with an academic expert on science fiction, and one with a literary agent.

I even had a man who had written two books about how science fiction affected World War II.

It was usually a lot of fun, but every now and then guests would be talk too little or too much, have boring readings and/or read poorly. Or sometimes guests couldn't or wouldn't follow simple instructions.

While I'll miss the show, I won't miss the work it took to produce and host it. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all my new free time.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

If I Were an Animal

Time once again for the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm dong over (about) thirty weeks
(depending on how many I skip).

Today's prompt is: "If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?"

So years and years ago when I was in grade school in Idaho Falls, Idaho (Theresa Bunker Elementary) a teacher asked the same question. And I said, "An eagle." Some boy piped up, "That's not an animal, that's a bird." I replied, "Birds are animals." (Even then I was insufferable.) I was, of course, right.

So, what's my answer now, some 50 years or so later?

Same answer: an eagle. For two reasons.

One: I've never had good eyesight. Well, a short time (couple of years) after I got LASIK my eyesight was pretty good. Then it started deteriorating. Turns out I had Kerataconus (read more here). Since then, even though I underwent an experimental treatment to fix it, my eyesight has always been marginal.

Eagles are reputed to have excellent eyesight. I would love that.

Two: I want to fly. Not on a plane, but to fly like an eagle. I think that would be the most fun thing in the world. I envy birds that ability, especially the big ones such as eagles.

The one downside: eating raw mice and fish. I think I could get used to that.

So, I want to fly like an eagle.

What animal would you like to be? Tell me in the comments below.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Pamela K. Kinney and Judith D. Howell

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Pamela K. Kinney and Judith D. Howell.

Pamela K. Kinney
Pamela K. Kinney

Pamela K. Kinney gave up long ago trying not to listen to the voices in her head and has written bestselling horror, fantasy. science fiction, poetry, and nonfiction ghost books ever since. Three of her nonfiction ghost books garnered Library of Virginia nominations. Her horror short story, “Bottled Spirits,” was runner up for the 2013 WSFA Small Press Award and is considered one of the seven best genre short fiction for that year. Her latest fiction is her first self-published venture, an urban fantasy novel, How the Vortex Changed My Life, that released September 2017.

Pamela's Books:

How the Vortex Changed My Life 

Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area (nonfiction)

"Silence" (short story in an anthology)

Pamela's Links:


Judith D. Howell
Judith D. Howell

Judith's Books:

Swamp Rites

Swamp Legacy

Swamp Inheritance (coming)

Judith's Links:


From Today's Program: No Alien Megastructure Around Distant Star.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

RadCon Schedule

Starting tomorrow I will be at RadCon in Pasco, Washington. This science fiction and fantasy convention is the premier con in Central Washington. It might be the only con.

If they don't change my schedule (like they did last year), here are the panels I'll be on:


The Miracle of Critique
5:45 - 6:45 PM
Room 2209

Avoid these Grammar Mistakes
7:00 - 8:00 PM
Room 2205


Alternate History and Social Justice/Injustice
12:45 - 1:45 PM
Room 2207

The Best Writing Advice I was Ever Given
3:15 - 4:15 PM
Room 2209

Book Signing
5:00 - 6:00 PM
Mercantile Table


To Outline or Not to Outline, That is the Question
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Room 2203

Come on down, I would love to see you there!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Diana Savastano and Dianna Gunn

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we welcome writers Diana Savastano and Dianna Gunn.

Diana Savastano

Diana Savastano
Diana Savastano is a former columnist, food writer, magazine editor, and publisher. She is the author of On the Breath of Angels; Winds of Pood, Under the Puddle; Winds of Pood: In the Blizzard; The Upside Down Inside Out Life of Maureen Kiernan; The Princess Who Loved to Swim; and The Marker, a murder mystery sprinkled with romance and paranormal activities. In addition to writing books, she is working with veteran entertainment advisers penning multiple script projects to bring her book characters to life on screen. She lives in Johns Creek, Georgia.

Diana's Books:

The Marker 

Winds of Pood Book 1 and Book 2 (Middle Grade)

The Princess Who Loved to Swim (Children's Chapter Book)

Diana's Links:


Dianna Gunn
Dianna Gunn

Dianna Gunn is a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. Her first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, was released through The Book Smugglers Publishing in April 2017. She also blogs about creativity, books and life at

Dianna's Book:

Keeper of the Dawn

Dianna's Links:


From today's program: Go Underground to Find Life on Mars, Some Scientists Say.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Somewhere I'd like to Move to.

Coeur d'Alene
Back to the 30-day blogging challenge that I'm doing in about thirty weeks.

The next prompt is: "Your favorite OTP." I don't know what that means. I googled it. I still don't know what it means.

So the next prompt is "Talk about your siblings." I have an older sister and an older brother. That was easy.

So the next prompt is "Somewhere you'd like to move or visit."

I talked about places I'd like to visit here.

So what about places I'd like to live?

I've actually been thinking about moving. But to where is the problem. Washington State (where I live) is slowly turning into California (not the good things about California, either). So I thought about moving to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. It's a beautiful place on a lovely lake (although real estate on the lake is very expensive). And it's not too far from Spokane so you'd have a near-by medium-sized city. And I wouldn't be far from family, most of whom live in Washington.

Another option was Sandpoint, Idaho. Again, a nice area on a nice lake. Farther from Spokane, however. But I suspect the real estate might be cheaper. Downside is, it gets a lot of snow in winter.

Then I looked into Idaho taxes and they are high, surprisingly high. I would pay a lot more in taxes if I lived there. And the weather in Northern Idaho is pretty harsh in the winter.

Because of winter, I thought about moving south of the 37th Parallel but that would mean California (yuck), Arizona (too dry), New Mexico (yuck), or Texas (I refuse to live east of there). But last year's hurricanes sort of ruled out southern Texas. I suppose there's Oklahoma, but A) yuck and B) tornadoes.

Texas has the advantage of low taxes (and no income taxes). Texas also has higher speed limits (they need them) up to 85 mph.

I have looked at Lubbock, Texas. It's north enough not to get hurricanes but there's still tornadoes. It's a medium sized city, about like Spokane, maybe a little bigger. Don't know if I could handle the lack of mountains. And my wife is totally against moving far away from our and her families.

So I've thought about living in the Spokane area. My wife complains that that is "even farther" from our oldest son. And that would still be in Washington and who knows what idiotic thing will pass as a ballot initiative next. Or get through the legislature. It's a conundrum.

Where would you like to live? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with J.D. Horn and Larry Kilham

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers J.D. Horn and Larry Kilham.

J.D. Horn
J.D. Horn

J.D. Horn, the highly praised and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Witching Savannah series, now debuts a new contemporary fantasy series, Witches of New Orleans. A world traveler and student of French and Russian literature, Horn also has an MBA in international business and formerly held a career as a financial analyst before turning his talent to crafting chilling stories and unforgettable characters. His novels have received global attention and have been translated in more than half a dozen languages. Originally from Tennessee, he currently splits his time between San Francisco and Palm Springs with his spouse, Rich.

J.D.'s Books

The King of Bones and Ashes


"Witching Savannah Series"

J.D.'s Links


Larry Kilham
Larry Kilham

Larry Kilham is an award-winning author who has traveled extensively overseas for over twenty years. He worked in several large international companies and started and sold two high-tech ventures. He received a B.S. in engineering from the University of Colorado and a M.S. in management from MIT. Larry has written books about creativity and invention, artificial intelligence and digital media, travel overseas, and four novels with an AI theme. He and his wife Betsy live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Larry's Books:

Free Will Odyssey 

Shades of Truth (nonfiction)

The Digital Rabbit Hole (nonfiction)

Larry's Links:


From Today's Program: Lightning is a natural particle accelerator.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Dinner Party

Back to the 30-day blogging challenge (that I'm doing over about 30 weeks). Today's prompt is: "If you could invite ten people to a dinner, fiction, current, or historical, who would they be?"

This is kind of a challenge, but:

1) Gandalf (fictional character). Not sure why he came first to mind. But I'd love to meet him. Plus we can have fireworks after dinner.

2) Robert Heinlein (dead; writer). Pretty much my favorite all-time science fiction writer.

3) Isaac Asimov (dead; writer). Another one of my favorite science fiction writers. And I'd love to see him and Heinlein debate politics and economics (they are diametrically opposed).

4) Charlene "Charlie" Jones (fictional character). See here.

5) Selena Gomez (celebrity). See here.

6) F. A. Hayek (dead; economist). To debate economics with:

7) John Maynard Keynes (dead; economist).

8) William F. Buckley (dead; writer, intellectual, and many other things). To moderate all these debates.

9) Fabiola Gianotti (scientist). The head scientist at CERN.

10) And I guess I'd better invite my wife or she'll be mad at me.

What do you think of my list? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Nathan R. Morgan and Mike Bergonzi

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Nathan R. Morgan and Mike Bergonzi.

Nathan R. Morgan
Nathan R. Morgan

Author Nathan R. Morgan has had the talent to write ever since he was a young child. His parents were very supportive and recognized this in him, so they signed him up for things such as writing camps. Nathan’s interest in writing since such a young age has led him to have a dream of becoming an author. He decided to take it upon himself and do what he loves, and he wrote his first novel over a summer break and through that same fall. Nathan excels in his academic studies, absolutely loves to go fishing, loves his family and friends dearly, loves to travel, likes to go camping, and has a very strong work ethic that was apparent throughout his entire life. He also knows that God had blessed him very much, and he’s made it his mission to share God’s love with others.

Nathan's Book:

Nothing is as it Seems

Nathan's Links:


Mike Bergonzi

Mike Bergonzi holds a degree in mass communications. He currently resides in Champaign-Urbana, where he’s employed by the city’s local PBS station (WILL-TV) as a camera operator. Such shows he’s worked on include over 100 episodes of Mid-American Gardner and Illinois Pioneers. Michael has also worked on the 2014 and 2016 District 13 Congressional debates in Illinois. While he’s not working in television production, he volunteers at Stevie Jay Broadcasting—a local radio station in the area. His duties include mixing the Brother Johnny and Mike Ditka podcast on Other podcasts he’s worked on include Pendant Production’s Seminar series as the Director of episodes 37-39 and the mixer for Mike Murphy’s Strange Stories “The Touch,” from Misfit’s Audio.

Mike's Books:

Moon and Star: Book One

Moon and Star: Book Two

Moon and Star: The Complete First Saga (First two books combined)

Mike's Links:


From Today's Program: Space Dust Can Transport Life.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Back to the 30-day blogging challenge. I'm going to combine the next two prompts into one post because they are closely related. The prompts are: "What are you passionate about?" and "If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?"

I am passionate about writing. So if I could have any job in the world, it would be a writer. And that is pretty much my job now (even though my freelance career has slowed down a lot). I pretty much can't stop writing. I had very bad writer's block on a novel. Another writer suggested I write something else. So I just started what I thought would be a short story. It is now a novel in the editing/proofreading stages. Because I kept writing and it kept getting longer and longer and longer.

There are some other things I'm passionate about. I used to be passionate about politics but the 2016 election pretty much killed that. I am still (and always, probably) passionate about University of Washington Husky football (Go Dawgs!). If you read this blog regularly, you're probably aware of that.

What are you passionate about? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Agent Stephanie Hansen and Miranda Nichols

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome Agent Stephanie Hansen and her client Miranda Nichols.

Stephanie Hansen
Stephanie Hansen

Stephanie represents debut to New York Times bestselling authors. She's signed authors with small presses to major publishing house distribution. She received her Master’s in 2008 and Creative Writing Specialization in 2017. Predominately she represents YA SF/F but has a secret addiction for romance. While these are her favorite, she handles everything fiction from children's books to adult thrillers. Previously an editor for Mind’s Eye Literary Magazine, she became a part of Metamorphosis July 2016. Originally looking to help Midwest authors garner the attention of major publishing houses, despite residing in "flyover states", she found camaraderie with multiple agents and editors.

She's seeking: YA series, adult SF/F, thrillers & romance. She is intrigued by prose that flows as smoothly as poetry, unforgettable plot twists & well-rounded characters.

Stephanie's Links:

Agency Website
Agency Twitter
Stephanie's Twitter
Stephanie's Pinterest
Stephanie's Instagram
Stephanie's Google+

Miranda NIchols
Miranda Nichols

Miranda Nichols enjoys her too short-lived moments in Boston visiting family. That’s why her stories tend to travel there. She’s had years of professional experience perfecting detail-oriented work and it shows in her writing. A current student working towards her English degree, she’s following her lifetime calling. She's a loyal friend who's not afraid to tell it like it is. Like the smell of fresh popcorn, her fantasy romances tempt you and keep you coming back for more.

Miranda 's Book:

Blood Awakening (releasing 1/29/18)

Miranda's Links:


From Today's Program: Eclipse Left Supersonic Wake in the Atmosphere.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

School Daze

Back to the 30 day blogging challenge. The next prompt is "What do you collect?" Well, I used to collect rejection slips. But I'm not really a collector of anything. I'd prefer to collect memories and pictures.

My old high school
So the next prompt is, "How has your school life been throughout the years?"

When I was in primary education (K-12) I hated school. It was boring. (Full disclosure: I never finished Kindergarten. It wasn't required in those days and was privately done, like preschool is now.)

I was teased and bullied for being a shy, quiet boy with flaming red hair. This lasted through most of high school. I remember one time in high school this bully was taunting me, trying to get me to throw a punch. I told him as confidently as I could something like, "I'm not going to hit you first, but if  you hit me, I'll destroy you." Yes, I was bluffing. But he never threw that punched. Called me a "chickenshit" and he and his gang walked away. I was either a junior or a sophomore in high school when this happened.

Young Santa Claus
College was different. First of all, it wasn't boring. I was finally challenged. And there was no bullying and just friendly teasing. Of course, by then my hair had mellowed from the near orange it was when I was a kid to more auburn. I had a beard and people said I looked like young Santa Claus from the kid's show Santa Claus is Coming to Town. And I had to admit, I rather did.

The biggest problem I had with college was that in high school I never had to study. In college, I had to study but I wasn't in the habit of it. So it took me a while to get into that groove.

When I went back to college after my military career and my major was engineering, I had to study a lot. I studied every day except Saturdays (I gave myself those days off) and then Sunday I usually studied all day. Except when I took a class called Chemical Engineering Unit Operations which was a lab class. Then I had to study on Saturdays, too. It sucked.

The hardest class I took in college was Fluid Dynamics. You did differential equations so much, I was doing them in my sleep. Now I couldn't do a differential equation if you held a gun to my head.

How was your school experience? Let me know in the comments below.