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We Sleep At Night Because America's Armed Forces, Police and Fire Fighters Never Do

Category: SFF

#13 out again, and #28 done

Tail Gunner Joe is back out again, so that’s #13. And I added #28, which is a flash fiction piece I wrote a while back titled It’s a Job, which is now edited, re-written, formatted and out for submission for the first time.

Labor Day is for doing labor, right?

Check off #12 Again

Taking the suggestions of 4 beta readers I re-wrote and edited LifeEnders again, and now I’ve got a problem. It’s the best short story I’ve ever written.

The problem? What now? This story is great…I mean, it really turned out well. I can’t believe that I wrote it. How do I top it?

All that’s left now if formatting and then it’s off to one of the best SF markets out there.

Wish me luck.

Coming in 2016 A NIGHT AT THE QUAY


From ‘A Night At The Quay’, circa 1983.

“Some will go, some will stay,

Some will die, some will slay;

Some will work, some will play,

All paths lead to a night at the Quay.”

The first draft of this novella appeared in 1978. Bill finished it circa 1987, but the market for fantasy novellas at the time was poor and it lay, forgotten, in a filing cabinet.

But no more. It is back in the light of day and coming in fall of 2016..

4 November, 2016: Update

The novella is finished and out for beta reads! Bill arranged for talented artist Shannon Ortberg to draw the cover. Still shooting for a December publication date.


September? Holy cow, bookies, my bad! I didn’t know it had been that long since my last entry. How did you survive without me?…don’t answer that!

Today’s will be short. I had no idea that in 2011 we lost both Anne McCaffrey and Brian Jacques. I never met Ms. McCaffrey, but I didn’t correspond with her in Ireland briefly, and she sent me a few signed bookplates. Very nice. As for Mr. Jacques, him I met. He was at the old Davis-Kidd one day and there must have been 400 people at the signing. You could only get two books signed per person, so I cheated and brought my two kids. They weren’t happy, but our house wasn’t a democracy so they were there. Mr. Jacques had the best voice I have ever heard, deep, slightly raspy, very English, but not in a stuffy, upper-class sort of way, in a pleasant every-day accent that would have made the phone book sound good.

I’m gonna miss them both.

So long Dick Francis & William Tenn

Hi bookies, it’s a cold, gray day again in West Tennessee and that seems fitting.

***We say goodbye to Dick Francis, aged 89. Master of the horse-thriller, so to speak, with a risque sense to him. I remember when his wife died he didn’t think he could go on writing, but he did. As a writer, to go right on writing right up until the last words are written, well, that’s about as good as it gets.

RIP Dick Francis

***Not satisfied with just taking Francis, the Grim Reaper also came for William Tenn, noted SFF writer, also aged 89. Tenn’s real name was Phillip Klass. He stopped writing SFF nearly 40 years ago but his short work was so iconic that in 2004 he was named a Grandmaster of the genre.

Farewell William Tenn

Making headway

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

First, the ongoing drain on my time and energy may be coming to an end. Let’s hope so. At the least I’m making headway. If anyone ever asks you to be executor for an estate, think twice before you say yes. I had no idea how much time, effort and willpower it took.

*** The new issue of iloveamysterynewsletter is posted. I have a couple of reviews in it, and now a link back to this blog. also, I’m changing the descriptive header at the top to something a bit less accurate and a bit spiffier. Given the choice between content and spiffiness, I’ll pick spiffiness every time.

*** The Nebula Awards were given out last weekend. For those who don’t know, the Nebulas are awarded to Science Fiction writers based on the votes of fans, kind of like the People’s Choice Awards, as opposed to the Hugos, which are more like the Oscars. M.Scott Edelman is a longtime SF writer/editor and here’s a link to his blog from that weekend: Edelman does the Nebulas. Some great photos there, as well.

*** Sadly, it should be noted that Thomas Deitz has died. Dietz was young, 57, a well known SFF writer and by all accounts a good guy. I’m sorry I never had the chance to meet him.

Thomas Deitz

*** I find this next item fascinating. Why do people are publications spend so much time, effort and space on negative book reviews? If the book is wretched, why waste your breathe going on about it? It’s a really good question.

For example, the second worst book I’ve ever read is The Da Vinci Code. Complete and utter rubbish, not only because of its idiotic ‘research’, I can stretch willing suspension of disbelief pretty far, after all, but moreso because of the hideously poor writing involved. Dan Brown has never met a cliche he can’t use at least a dozen times, and the book buying public seems to crave more of this. So why do people like me feel the need to go on and on about it? I think the article makes some good points about that very thing.

Why bother bashing books?

*** Here’s a book I want to read about an event I didn’t know happened. Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip by Matthew Algeo. It seems that after he left office, Truman and wife Bess, and nobody else, went on a 2500 mile road trip across America. Imagine such a thing! You’re hanging out eating breakfast at a diner, dead tired after getting off work in the bicycle factory, and in walks the former POTUS and his wife to grab supper. Incredible. And yet, apparently, quite true. This may be one of those ‘I’ve got to look this book up’ books.

Harry and Bess go for a drive

Junk, an Owl and the end of an Empire

Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.

*** You never know what you’ll find when scooping around in junk piles. A number of years ago a shopper perusing the stuff at the Memphis Flea Market found a very small, very old photo of a stern looking man and bought it for one dollar. It turns out that man was Jefferson Davis, US Senator and President of the Confederate States of America, and became only the third known photo of the man. As I recall, it sold at auction for $100k. Some time after that a guy rummaging through the piles at a Nashville thrift store bought a framed print. Inside was a copy of the Declaration of Independence. I forget exactly what it sold for now, lots. Need another example? Okay, again here in Memphis, a man went to an estate sale one day and, while waiting for the door to open, went through the discarded stuff heaped on the curb, and found boxes of old slave documents, a few of which were signed by Nathan Bedford Forrest. Or, at least, that’s the story still told to this day.

So what does any of that have to do with books? A bookseller in the UK recently found a neat old poster, framed it, hung it in his shop and found out it’s an extremely rare poster from early in world War II. After dozens of requests to buy it he made a reproduction and has sold 40,000 of them. You just never know, do you?

UK bookseller hits the jackpot

*** I’m a Roman history buff, newly ordained, as it were. I haven’t always been such, but during a visit to England in 2005 we visited a particularly bleak site along Hadrian’s Wall and I was forever changed. At that site, where the Roman Army Museum is located, I bought a book on said army written by noted Roman historian Adrian Goldsworthy. And now he has a new book out on the fall of the Empire, The Fall of the West: The Slow Death of the Roman Empire. Adding to the synchronicity here, my current audiobook is Volume II of Gibbons The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, currently in the reign of Constantius, not too far from that final end in the late 5th century. All of which makes for a great reason to add a link to a review of Goldsworthy’s new book.

The end of Rome

*** Philip K. Dick has long been regarded as one of SFF’s brightest lights. His death in 1982 was way too soon. Now, his last wife has written/finished the novel he was writing/planning at the time of his death, The Owl in Daylight. It’s hard to tell whether it will be good, bad or indifferent, but what’s to lose in having it published?

One final Philip K. Dick

A sunny Sunday

Good morning bookies. Stand by for news.

It’s Sunday, the first day of Standard time. Given that your friendly neighborhood bookseller hates cold weather and darkness, it’s not a day he particularly looks forward to. I have been told that Christmas decorations fit nicely on a palm tree and finding out is one of my main objectives in life.

The growth of online bookselling has certainly had its high points, (me, for example) but as with any human endeavor there are also unintended consequences. The major selling sites, Amazon, ABE, Alibris, Biblio, are all overrun with ‘booksellers’ who wouldn’t know a book if it bit them in the butt. They are commodities brokers and books are their produce.

You know the ones. Their descriptions all say something like ‘may be ex-library, may have marks or writing, may have a dust jacket’. (I keep waiting for one to say ‘may actually be a book.’) These people haul in massive quantities of battered books, scan their ISBNs, pull out the ones their computers tell them to pull out, then list them on a site with no description and little interest in accuracy. They are usually called mega-listers and you often see a variation of them at book sales holding electronic scanning devices. (Watch for a future blog entitled ‘Invasion of the Scanner People. Oh, and before some of you go berserk, I understand that scanners might be a useful adjunct for a true bookseller. I’m referring to those whose only basis for buying a book rests with the scanner)

BBG despises this practice. Sometimes a customer looking for a nice, well described first edition of a particular book may have to wade through pages and pages of this mega-lister crap first, and who wants to do that? So why do the sites allow this? Because as long as the mega-listers pay their fees on time, the sites don’t care. For all of their advertising about great books and great sellers, etc., as long as the check clears they don’t care what their listers do.

(On a side note, this is why www.worldbookmarket.com was born. A collection of booksellers who actually describe their books and have them in stock. What a unique concept!)

So, today, we bring you an article on one such mega-lister. This company is not particularly different from the others who do the exact same thing. I especially like the garbage chute with the books pouring from it; nothing like caring about what you sell, eh?


*** The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

If you understand that reference, then you will probably want to read a new history of the band, Pigs Might Fly, the Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake. Every human being and a majority of aliens have, of course, memorized ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, but how many have seen the 1971 movie ‘Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii’? Pre-dating ‘Moon’, the movie has the boys performing all of their early stuff to an audience of Roman ghosts. For your blog-host it’s surreal, since I’ve been to Pompeii and stood at the very spot where they filmed. I haven’t read Blake’s book about the Floyd, and it’s not generally the sort of thing I do read, but this might be an exception.

*** We may have found the perfect Christmas gift for a bookie. Coffee table books are always popular, large, generally printed on heavy, slick paper, bright photographs and illustrations, ideal for reading a few minutes and putting aside. So what better coffee table book could one ask for than Monsters: History’s Most Evil Men and Women by Simon Sebag Montefiore?


Certainly such a book could help to muddle through the awkwardness of Christmas with relatives or friends, the perfect conversation piece when things lag a bit.

“So, who is your favorite mass murderer?”
“Oh, I had always leaned toward Stalin, but after reading this book I have a new admiration for Madame Mao. More coffee or mince meat pie?”

*** I must admit that Neil Gaiman has not been one of my favorite writers. It’s not that I dislike his work, it’s just that by the time he came on the scene I was done reading SFF for a while. Fortunately, it’s the nature of books that such things are easily rectified by simply buying someone’s backlist. Indeed, the idea behind his new novel The Graveyard Book is so intriguing I might have to do that very thing. It’s the story of a boy who escapes from a serial killer who wipes out his family and is raised in a graveyard by ghosts, vampires and werewolves. Such fun. Here’s a very interesting interview:


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