Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Zealous About Zee Anthology!

Okay, maybe it's a bit of a cheat, but there aren't any concrete rules about the A to Z challenge.  So, "zealous" is the word of the day to wrap things up.  I'm sure some of the contributors to "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance" are "zealous" about having their stories published, and I am zealous about publishing them.  This is a great little collection, and in a few days I hope to announce the table of contents.

This is going to be a large anthology, and while some of the stories are pretty much publishable at present, a number of them are going to need some serious editing.  Of course, that is often the case with short stories that are rushed into production and written in a single week.  Some authors work at different paces, and things in our lives often prevent us from working on a story as much as we'd like to in a limited timeframe.  Still, there are some really creative items just waiting to be perfected.

There is a lot to be zealous about with this book.  Each author will be getting a cut of the proceeds, and assuming everything works out we'll have it on store shelves sometime in August.  The pre-order won't be up and running for a while, as I won't know the final production cost (and necessary mark-up) until the revised stories are on-hand.  Still, with any luck, we'll have a pre-order special available in July.

As a special sneak peek, I'll leave you with this raw back-cover art, which compliments the front cover.  Both pieces are by the talented C. D. Muller.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Yesterday's Fantasy (Poem)

For quite a while, I had a feature called "Minstrel Mondays," where I would share a poem or set of song lyrics of my own creation.  That feature has gone by the wayside for the most part, because I don't think there's a huge interest in my poetry.  I used to write a lot of them when I was younger, though they never got me anywhere.

Today I present a little poem I put together back in 2006, which may have some meaning for you.

Sticky day
that I'm feeling,
of things that flow around
me, unending passion
never realized,
forgotten with age,
fallen from the tree
of knowledge, we seek
something we'll never get.
Yet out of it all
we find some meaning
that was never meant
to be.

I can't see your face
anymore, that's why I
try to feel my own.
It's not what I remember,
this sanctimonious me,
the eyes that stare back
are somebody without a
care of what I want.
I forgot myself in the
haze of tomorrow's reality.
I'm happier in yesterday's fantasy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


X is probably the toughest letter in the alphabet for the A to Z challenge.  There just aren't that many X words that make a good topic.  Fortunately, I can fall back on my childhood and bring up that old video game, Xevious.

I must have been about 5 when my parents bought me an Atari 7800, a very primitive video game system.  One of the half dozen games I got with it was Xevious, which sucked up many happy hours.  I actually preferred Galaga, but Xevious was fine for a change of pace.

Over the years, I've played various old video games, though the ancient Atari games haven't really piqued my interest.  I can honestly say I grew out of them, and to be fair I haven't really played any games for months.  Video games are losing their allure, as I find my time shrinking with different projects and responsibilities.  Maybe, someday, I'll feel the urge to pick up a controller again, but for now I'll leave that to my kids, who still have some time to waste.

Friday, April 26, 2013

What We Want

This is a philosophical question that has been discussed and ruminated over since the dawn of time, and it is one that pertains to the very nature of human existence.  What we want is something that everyone asks themselves on occasion.  But the answer, if there is to be one, can only be truly answered in paradox.  Take the weather, for instance.  People are always complaining about it.  "It's too cold."  "It's too hot."  "It's raining outside."  "It's too sunny."  Whatever the weather is, there is something to dissatisfy us, and this is the way it is with many aspects of our lives.  To put it simply, we always want things to be the way they aren't.

It is a curious quirk of human nature, to never be satisfied or content with what we've got.  That instinct is responsible for everything good and bad about our way of life.  It is the reason great inventors create new devices.  It is the seed of discord that causes people to fight and kill one another.  It is the reason we are always trying to get more, and change the world to suit us.  Without this drive, without the sense of dissatisfaction with the world around us, we would not be able to survive, for we would be without purpose.

This eternal drive to make things "different" may make some of us vain or destructive, but it is the very basis of our existence.  Without the drive, we would never have crawled out of the jungles and caves to build civilization.  Without this desire moving forward, we will be condemned to devolve and plummet into a new dark age.  Really, it is when we are comfortable and satisfied that we are doing nothing, and allowing things to go to hell.  Just look at the fall of any great civilization.  When they get fat and comfortable, things collapse.  Being annoyed or frustrated is the motivation which leads to advancement and construction.  Being satisfied is what leads us to apathy and entropy.

So, the next time you are upset that the weather isn't good, or you're angry about something you don't have, or frustrated that your life isn't what you'd like it to be, feel grateful for this driving force.  It means you are alive, and not just sitting around and waiting to die.  Be happy that you're discontent; then go do something constructive about it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vintage Movie Rewatch

Wednesday afternoon, I had the chance to watch Beverly Hills Cop for the first time in a very long time. I think I was about 6 the last time I saw it (yes, my parents let me watch some very questionable movies). Of course, back then I didn't pay much attention to it, as I was too young to really appreciate it. Maybe that was for the best. Either way, I didn't really remember much about it after twenty-seven years, so it was like watching it for the first time.

The dvd was in the $5 bin at Walmart a couple of months ago, so I've had this thing sitting on my desk for quite a while. With all the writing, editing, and watching Lost, I didn't have time for an old movie. I finally got around to it yesterday. I had a headache from spring cleaning, and the fog knocked out my apparently-crappy Hughesnet internet connection, so I had nothing better to do (or maybe I just needed a break). On a sidebar, I'd like to say I'm pretty disappointed that my fancy, new satellite internet goes out anytime it is cloudy or damp outside. This is pretty shoddy service considering what I'm paying.

Moving on, I found Beverly Hills Cop to be a fairly entertaining movie. It's a fairly average movie for the mid-eighties, and didn't have anything that stands out to make it great. It was a cheap thrill movie with some of Eddie Murphy's classic comedy, a lot of swearing, and some pretty bloodless violence (a guy gets shot in the back of the head and he doesn't even bleed—the camera angle helps to cover it, but still). We see Ronnie Cox in a non-villain role (pre-Robocop, I think he always played some kind of good guy). And we see Judge Reinhold in a somewhat familiar "dorky-guy" role.

It's interesting to watch a vintage movie like this, as there's a certain sense of nostalgia behind it. You have the classic eighties soundtrack, glances at the techno-plastic fashions of the era, and altogether you have something that would be considered "low budget" today, even though it probably cost quite a bit in its day. It's worth watching for a few laughs and an entertaining, albeit unrealistic, plotline. Hey, it's worth it just to see Eddie Murphy shoving bananas up a tail pipe (seriously).

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


For the "u" post in the A to Z challenge, I'll briefly mention this snack food company.  Utz produces some very tasty junk food, and my personal favorite is their Maui Barbecue kettle-cooked potato chips, though they have all but disappeared in recent months.  That seems to be the way it goes for all the best stuff out there; you just can't get it in downeast Maine.  The scarcity of Vanilla Coke comes to mind, and I still can't find a single can of Hires root beer.  The best things seem to be unavailable in my vicinity.

Utz produces a lot of other great snacks, too.  Their pretzels are particularly good, and their other varieties of kettle cooked chips aren't bad, either.  Pick up a bag sometime.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Teaching Again

Monday morning, I had the pleasure of once again teaching a writing course at Washington Academy, one of the oldest and most prestigious High Schools in the United States.  Last year, I also taught "The Mysteries and Trials of Freelance Writing" during their "Artsfest" in April, and it was a great experience.  This year, it was all freshman in the class, a small group of attentive and talented pupils.  They handled the material well, came up with some great ideas during the different writing phases of the course, and I hope they came away with some useful knowledge that they'll be able to apply in the future.

During the course, I introduced them to the fundamental concepts of marketing fiction.  They wrote brief story plots, query letters, and received tips and tricks of the trade that I've learned through trial and error over the years.  Of course, we didn't have a lot of time to draft fresh material, but considering they only had 20 minutes or so for their plots and query letters, they were quite excellent.  Over time, when they have time, I expect they'll be capable of mastering the art of the submission process.

George S. Counts
Renouned Educator
Whenever I teach one of these courses, I get a taste of what could have been.  Though it's always a little nerve-wracking, and I tend to be nervous, there is a certain thrill to teaching a course.  If I did it every day, I imagine it would be second nature.  I suppose I inherited that from my father's side of the family, where teaching is practically the family business (many thanks to my great-grandfather, George Sylvester Counts).

It's not often that I get the opportunity to share my wealth of knowledge with receptive students.  The experience is always welcome.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Star Slavers, Still Free

Years ago, I started releasing one of my old novels, "The Star Slavers," on my website.  It got some attention as it was slowly released in segments, and those who enjoy a good, traditional space opera will find it appealing.

When I shopped this around to publishers many years ago, the response I got back was simply, "It's been done before."  A couple of editors really enjoyed the story, but they didn't think it was different enough to stand out.  Every professional who sampled it thought the ideas presented weren't original enough, and that is fairly typical of the publishing market today.  They are not after fun stories.  They want something weird or different, anything that is "new."  If you write entertaining pulp, there just aren't many markets for you anymore.

So, after years of getting the same answer from big and small publishers, I decided to release the book on my own website, rather than let it sit in a drawer forever.  It's all there, except for the final chapter.  Start at the beginning and see what you think.  If enough people like it, maybe I'll release the conclusion.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review of the Week

I am pleased to share the following review for The Curse of Selwood, which a reader sent me not so long ago.  This should be up on Amazon.com soon:

A mournful train whistle cuts through the dusty plains of southern Nevada en route to a wedding – a cry signaling murder.  When Warlock-Sheriff James Doliber arrives on the scene, the horror and devastation aboard the doomed passenger train make two things painfully clear: some supernatural force is loose in Selwood, and it has no respect for the sanctity of marriage – or the law.

A “horned eight” scratched in blood at the scene of the massacre dredges up fears of an ancient curse laid upon the settlers of Selwood.  The bride-to-be of the mayor’s son is discovered missing among the train’s slaughtered occupants – the first act of vengeance to be inflicted upon the small town, and their only clue.

With his faithful deputies at his side – the beautiful elf maiden, Joella Grimes-Talus, and her unlikely husband, the stout-hearted dwarf, Boron Grimes – Sheriff Doliber aims to set things aright using his wits, his sidearm, and his skills as a Journeyman Warlock – knowing his powers may prove insufficient against this potent source of evil.  To complicate matters, US Marshal, Ned Rogers, who holds no love for the Warlock-Sheriff, tries to investigate matters in his own way, outside the law if necessary.

And so opens Martin Ingham’s latest chapter in the West of the Warlock series, The Curse of Selwood – a supernatural murder mystery in an “old western” setting unique for its drunken elves, pistol-packing dwarves, and shady leprechauns.  With a surprise appearance from the shade of the notorious Jesse James, The Curse of Selwood is a rootin’-tootin’ tale of mystery, action, and adventure, successfully merging the spirit of the old west with time-honored elements of fantasy and horror.  The characters Ingham creates are well-developed and engaging – particularly the troubled Joella Grimes-Talus, and the story is compelling.  I recommend you put your spurs up a spell and give The Curse of Selwood a read.  You’ll be pleased you did, partner.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quests, Curses, & Vengeance: A Shootout Origin

A few weeks ago, I revealed the fantastic cover to an upcoming Martinus Publishing anthology, "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance."  Now, I'd like to explain its creation, and why it is going to be a large collection.

Since the beginning of March, I have been running a "writing shootout," which is part-contest and part-writing exercise.  The origin of my series of "shootouts" comes from my experience with Pill Hill Press.  Years ago, I was invited to participate in one of these fun competitions, though it was a far different format than the one I'm currently using.  It started off by pitting writers from two different small presses against one another.  We wrote stories head-to-head each round, and whoever scored higher (based on points awarded by fellow writers) won their "shootout," and moved on to the next round.  This went on until only one team was left standing.

Later on, the format changed, putting everyone on a single team.  The players judged each other's stories each round, and competed for 3 rounds to see who would rack up the most points.  This was a little tenuous for several reasons.  One, the players were scoring their competitors, so there was always the temptation to be overly critical on other people's stories.  Two, there was no written scoring guideline, so points were arbitrary.  This was all well and good for a lighthearted game among friends, though very unscientific.

A couple of years ago, I was given the opportunity to host the last two Pill Hill Press shootouts.  By doing so, I implemented a new "team" structure, to help eliminate the conflict of interest involved with scoring.  People were assigned to review & score the stories from the other team, whose stories they were not competing against.  This also allowed us to have a "finalist" round, where the top-scoring writers could compete head-to-head for the win.

Unfortunately, the last PHP shootouts ended without a prize.  In the past, shootout winners were often given gifts from participants, and on occasion shootout stories would get published in various anthologies.  It was kind of a let-down that the ultimate winners (congratulations to A.D. Spencer and Scott Taylor, respectively) didn't get more than a symbolic pat on the back.  After doing two PHP shootouts in this manner, I resolved to make sure the winner of my third shootout would get more than praise for their trouble.

This is where "The Temporal Element" came alive.  Planning my Summer Shootout 2012, I decided the winning story in the final round would get published.  The winning writer would have a publication credit to their name, if nothing else.  I'd always wanted to do a time-travel anthology, and this gave me an excuse to assemble it.  I proposed the anthology idea to Hall Brothers Entertainment, and they jumped at the chance to publish it, so I went ahead with the shootout, touting a "publication prize" for an anthology that was to be announced.  The rest is now history.  Robert MacAnthony pulled out a victory, with Edmund Wells coming in a close second.  Both of their stories were accepted into the anthology.  A third finalists, John Kratman, also wrote an intriguing time-travel story that round, but he felt it wasn't ready for publication.

Now, finally getting to "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance," last December, as I started Martinus Publishing, I decided that it would be nice to do something different with the shootout process.  I felt this could be a good way to set up a special anthology, to tailor the writing prompts to fit an overall theme, and create an entire book from the stories written during the contest.  Since March, 14 different writers have been doing just that, crafting stories based on Quests, Curses, and Vengeance.  The finalists are currently weaving their last stories for the contest, and the ultimate winner will be decided next week.

As it sits, there are going to be a lot of stories in the anthology.  Out of the 42 different stories created during the 3 regular rounds of the shootout, over 30 of them will be part of the anthology.  Some of the stories need serious editing, while some will need little more than a quick polishing.  Either way, it's going to be an exciting collection.

I hope to have the tentative table of contents ready in the next week.  It's going to be a big one, that's for certain.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Plebeians of Plebiscite

Here's a little poem I threw together many years ago.  This one just came to me in a flash one evening.  It has been lurking at AuthorsDen.com for quite a while, and it was viewed well at first.  The title is somewhat inspired, so that draws in the poetic types.  I don't write much in the way of poetry anymore, so enjoy it and share it.

Drinking muddy water from a mason jar,
letting it all soak in
This is my life,
the sunny side of this hard land.
I till the soil of the seeker's vision,
fertilize their imaginations to
unending possibilities.

A mosquito lands upon my arm,
I crush it with my hand
and somewhere a dragonfly dies
for the sustenance I have extinguished.

Ripples appear in the pond's surface
as a slumbering mystery decomposes
hidden among the muck,
unknown to the minds of modernity.

Slide sideways through the hallways
of possibilities.
Our world is always remarkable
through the unshaded eyes of innocence.
yet unremarkable to the rose-tinted vision
of the unperceptive plebeians of plebiscite.

You know this means something,
but don't ask me what,
for I'm just the poor farmer
laughing at the idiocy of it all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I expect everyone has heard about the terrorist bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon on Monday.  It is the most heinous and cowardly form of attack on America in years, and not the sort of thing that generally happens in this country.  It is a rare sort of scum who blows up innocent bystanders to make some political point, and they never, ever get what they want, unless their sole intent is to hurt people indiscriminately.

It is an outrage, and no doubt we'll uncover the truth behind those responsible in time.  However, Americans need to remember that this is a very infrequent thing, and we should not start running scared.  That's what the bomber scum want.  They want you to be terrorized.  They want you to beg the government to protect you.  They want you to surrender your freedoms in exchange for an illusion of "security."  We must not allow fear to change who we are in this free country, and to preserve our freedoms we must demand stiff penalties on those who commit these sorts of crimes.

There are so many factors that I could discuss regarding this attack, but everyone else is already talking about it.  Rather than delve deeply into my own thoughts, I'd just like to say that I hope the culprit is exterminated with prejudice.  Bombers of this sort deserve no quarter, but since this happened in Massachusetts, the guilty party will not face the death penalty.  They'll instead get a cushy jail cell and three square meals a day for the rest of their natural life, along with cable television, all the free reading material they want, and they could even chat with their terrorist buddies about how much fun they had in the good old days.

So, yes, it would be very nice to see the person responsible for these outrageous acts "punished" accordingly.  A little karmic justice would go a long way toward making up the current gap in the overly-lax American justice system.  Where's the wrath of God when you need it?  Zap.

Burn in hell, terrorist-bomber scum!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Neanderthals, Ourselves

When you say the name, "Neanderthal" to most anyone, an image is conjured up of a primitive ape-man with no connection to Homosapiens, whatsoever.  In the past, scientists often taught that the Neanderthal was an off-shoot species with no descendants; an extinct race of savages.  Of course, modern science has only really scratched the surface when it comes to these mysterious people, and the more we uncover the more it is revealed that past speculation about them is often false.

The first major misconception is that Neanderthals have no descendants.  Modern genetic testing has proven this isn't the case.  If you are of European or Asian descent, then you are part Neanderthal.  It's a small amount, generally around 2-3 percent, but this proves that the Neanderthal race didn't completely die out.  It is quite possible they were instead "bred out," meaning they were absorbed into the modern human population.

Another major fallacy is the concept that they were a very primitive and backwards race.  True, by today's standards, they were primitive, but for their day and age they were at the cutting edge of societal evolution.  Their brain size wasn't much different than ours today, giving them the same mental potential as Homosapiens.  They used fire, made advanced tools (for their day), and ate vegetables in addition to the animals they killed.  Excavations have also proven that they performed some of the first burial rites.  The Neanderthals often put flowers and other decoration with their dead, burying them much as we do today.  Perhaps our modern tradition of a "wake" really comes from these forgotten ancestors.

The suspected outward appearance of Neanderthals has changed in recent years, as well.  They are no longer believed to have been hairy, ape-like creatures, but something that more closely resembled modern Europeans.  They likely had pale skin and no more or less body hair than your average white guy has today.  They were more stocky, and had much larger eyes than we do, all the better to survive in cold, dim climates.  Some wacky scientists recently speculated that their large eyes made them slow and stupid, meaning their enhanced eyesight was principally to blame for their ultimate decline.  However, that is just a wild assumption with little to no empirical evidence to back it up.

There is still much that is unknown about the Neanderthals, and modern scientists keep speculating to fill in the large gaps in their knowledge.  Many theories will go by the wayside over time, yet amidst the mysteries and conjecture there will arise little tidbits of truth.  Perhaps one day we'll know enough about these forgotten people that we don't consider them to be horrific cavemen, but the precursor to ourselves.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Today I'm going to bring you all a special treat. Three different short samples of my published writing, waiting for your perusing eyes.  Each is something that I hope you will enjoy, and consider picking up a copy of these books in print or kindle format.

Excerpt 1, from The Guns of Mars:

“Over to the desk, now,” Morgan demanded, taking another step forward.

Melinda stepped backwards until her legs bumped into the hardwood desk. She slid around behind it and sat in her chair, eager to slip her hands out of sight.

“Keep those hands where I can see them,” Morgan shouted.

Melinda complied and set them on a bare patch of desk. “Really, Morgan, is this the way you want to be remembered? As the armed terrorist of Mars?”

Morgan kept his cool. “Open the laptop.”


“I need proof,” he said...

Excerpt 2, from West of the Warlock:

"Tough break, Sammy," the warlock said, regaining his own smirk.  Ah, what a satisfying turnaround!

Blascoe was fighting to eject the spent cases from his revolver as quickly as possible.  One by one, the ejector rod pushed the empty brass from the cylinder, but it was futile.  His time had run out.

The warlock still had a revolver in his left hand.  He'd been gripping it this whole time, waiting for the chance to use it.  The simple mechanical device with its neatly polished parts and ornately-carved ivory grips was a marvel of modern machinery, and with this fine weapon the warlock put down his foe in a most material manner.  Three shots were placed in slow succession, enough to grant him added satisfaction from the kill.  Blascoe crumpled to the ground in a lifeless heap, leaving only one man standing between this warlock and the gold.

Excerpt 3, from The Curse of Selwood:

Falling to her knees, Bettina began to cry.  It seemed the appropriate thing to do under the circumstances.  To be kidnapped by a monster on the eve of her wedding was a fate worse than anything she could have imagined, and being stuck in the dark—alone—why, it only compounded her emotions.  The waiting and wondering made her tense, as imagination began to work on her psyche.

What would become of her here?  Would she die a slow death, forgotten in the pit, or would that creature come back?  What would the creature do to her if it did return?  She shuddered to think, and cried some more.

As her whimpering abated, an echoed voice caught her attention.  It was too distant and distorted to be recognized, but it was the first external sound she'd received since awaking.  Someone was coming, and she stood up straight, desperate to understand a single word.  Try as she might, the voice remained identifiable, as the echo of the cave continued to slur it.

What if that voice belonged to a search party?  She had to let them know she was here!  Screaming at the top of her lungs, she cried for help, letting anyone up above know she was alive and well.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lost: The Series

I'm still sick, and don't have the energy to get too in-depth here, but I'm not going to let a nasty virus keep me from completing my A to Z challenge.  So, I'll take a minute to talk about Lost.

When Lost was on the air, I never watched it.  I'm not a huge television viewer, but a lot of people have mentioned the series to me over the years, and suggested I check it out.  A while back, I found a copy of the first season DVD set at a local pawn shop, and for $10 I figured, "why not?"

I sat down in the cold mid-winter and watched the first season, almost non-stop.  The show grabbed my attention in many ways, and I just had to get the rest of it.  I scraped together what little spare cash I had and bought the other 5 seasons off of ebay (used, affordable).  Since then, I've been moving through the show bit by bit, and find the series getting more riveting with each episode.  The complexity of the writing is fantastic, and there are enough unpredictable twists and turns that it can really surprise you!  It also has some touching human interest stories that make you really care about almost every character.

It starts out as a seemingly straightforward survival show, and slowly incorporates elements of science fiction and metaphysical experiences.  I'm just starting on Season 5 right now, and being sick gives me a pretty good excuse to sit down and run through these remaining episodes.  I hope I get better before I run out.

Coincidentally, the show has an uncanny resemblance to the first book I ever wrote, when I was 10.  My "proto-novel," involved people getting shipwrecked on a mysterious island that is displaced in time and space, appearing infrequently in the Gulf of Maine.  There were a lot of murders, subterfuge, unnatural natives, and hidden mysteries dating back to pre-history, similar to what we see on Lost.  Though, being only 10 years old, I didn't put it together into anything publishable.  I still have the very rough manuscript somewhere.  Perhaps someday I'll rewrite it to match what my imagination back then had in mind.  Unfortunately, readers would accuse me of ripping off Lost if I ever do write this book, even though I plotted the story in 1990.  Is that just a tad ironic?

In conclusion, Lost is a 5-star program in my book.  Check it out if you haven't already.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Killing of Yesterday

Amidst the many fantastic stories within The Temporal Element, I slipped in a short piece of my own, which I wrote a few years ago.  "The Killing of Yesterday," is part time-travel, and part detective story.  The basic premise of this one is that a time travel police force would have to exist to combat criminal activity if and when we develop the ability to venture into the past.  There are some other twists and turns to this story, along with some theoretical science, though I'll stop there.  I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might not have read it yet.

This story may have further significance in the future, as I've based an entire novel on it.  "The Time Traveler's Illegal Harem" also features agent Jack Baker, albeit in a far different situation than we see in the short story.  The concept of that book involves him being framed for various changes to the timeline, and his attempts to vindicate himself with the help of some ladies he's rescued from various points in history (hence the title).  It isn't quite as scandalous as the title might imply.

The Time Traveler's Illegal Harem is currently sitting on a shelf, as I'm not satisfied with its current form.  It was my first NaNoWiMo novel in 2010, so there are a few plot points I'd like to edit, and I simply haven't gotten around to doing it yet.

I've written a lot of different time-travel stories over the years, and that is one reason I decided to put together The Temporal Element.  Everyone loves a good time travel story, but there are so few collections of short stories available on this theme.  Who knows, maybe someday there will also be room for a "Temporal Element 2."  Time will tell.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Jerked Around

The worst part about being sick is the way emotions seem to be heightened.  Often when I am ill, I find myself feeling raw in a mental sense.  Emotions are enhanced, and my control over them is diminished.  It's a strange state of being.

The worst thing is, it seems as if the world goes out of its way to provoke me and make me feel bad when I'm sick.  It's like everything around me starts reacting to my physical condition, and seeks to make my mental state equally pained.

One thing that is really bothering me is UPS.  They were supposed to deliver a package here on Monday, but whoever they had driving never came to my house.  Fortunately, my father was able to track it down on Wednesday (just as I was writing this post).  UPS left it at another house ¼ of a mile away!  Some people just don't give a damn, and this isn't the first time a UPS driver has conveniently dumped my package somewhere it wasn't supposed to go.  Last December, they lost a car window I ordered.  After filing a claim and waiting two weeks, the package finally appeared on my doorstep, but the delay was a nuisance.  This current package is even more critical, as it contains a generator for my '56 Fairlane.  The one currently in the car is screaming from bad bearings, so I can't drive it until this replacement is installed.  Just as soon as I'm feeling better, that's the first thing I'll be doing.

There was absolutely no excuse for me being jerked around like this.  UPS has delivered 2 other packages to my house in the last 2 weeks, so they know where I live.  Obviously, they had a different driver on Monday who didn't know the area and didn't care where they dropped the box.  It's not like my house is hard to find.  There's a big sign that says "INGHAM" right out front, with the house number right above it.

So, that's one of the things that has me feeling emotionally ill.  Another is the fact that ebay stopped forwarding messages to my email account for some damn reason.  I was contacting the seller of the generator on Tuesday, trying to get him to file a UPS claim (in order to track down the package). I thought he hadn't replied to my first message about filing a claim with UPS, so I sent him another one, only to find out that ebay's stupid system wasn't forwarding his replies.  I found his replies on ebay's messages page later, but now I feel like a fool.  Even worse, the package turned ups a few hours after he put in the claim, but that's really the fault of UPS for delivering the package to the wrong house.

Hopefully, I won't have to deal with much else over the next few days, as this virus runs its course.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Illness Stymies Work

Truth be told, I have been sick the past couple of weeks.  It's something that comes and goes, and I expect to be feeling better soon.  This is some kind of minor virus that is part flu, part cold; perhaps variations of both at the same time.  It hasn't made me deathly ill, but uncomfortable.  It distracts me, so I don't get all that much writing done, and the ability to read comes and goes, as fatigue and various aches and pains distract me.

My kids have all had a touch of this, as has my father and wife.  It is a lingering thing that annoys more than anything.  I hope it is gone before I have to do anything strenuous, as I have the feeling it would be unpleasant to put strain on my body.

Assuming I survive, I will continue to press on with the A to Z challenge.  Let's see what "J" has in store tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How Many of Me

Here's a neat little site I discovered years ago, which can tell you how many people in the United States have any particular name.  Put in your name(s) and see what happens:

It turns out there are 4 people in the USA with the name "Martin Ingham," so that leaves 3 others out there with my name.  That's one reason I use the middle initial "T" so I'm not mistaken for one of those other guys.  That, and there is a pretty popular car dealer in the UK called Martin Ingham, as well.  Research has shown that there are a lot more people with my name outside the USA (particularly in the UK).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Getting Attention

Small press books rely on word of mouth.  By definition, these publishers are "small," and they don't have thousands of dollars to spend on publicity and advertising.  The main form of promotion comes from amateur reviews and everyday readers spreading the word.  That is something that is surprisingly hard to get.  It's the strangest thing; people are eager to talk about that new television show they just watched, or chat about that hot new restaurant, but when it comes to a new book from a small press?  Crickets.  What is it about small press books that people are so afraid to talk about?

As part of my ongoing attempt to spread the word about The Temporal Element, I'd like to ask everyone who reads it to spread the word.  If people could take a few minutes and tell other bloggers, reviewers, facebook friends, twitter followers, etc... about the book, that would be of great assistance.  And don't forget to post Amazon reviews.

Those of you who haven't checked out this anthology of time travel stories, you can read more about it here, and also read free samples.  Both Print & Kindle versions are up at Amazon.com now, or you can buy a print copy from the publisher for the same price as Amazon.  Either way, if you enjoy sci-fi & fantasy, this collection will not disappoint you.

Also, if you are a blogger, and you'd be interested in letting me do a "guest post" on your blog, I'd be glad to entertain your readers with some details about the anthology's creation.  Let me know!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Frank Crumit

Here's a brief look at a forgotten legend in pop music.  Frank Crumit was a renowned singer of comedic songs back in the 1920's and 30's, though most people these days have no clue about who he was.  I'm not going to write a lengthy biography of him, but you can look him up easily enough.  You can even find many of his songs online for free, as most of them are in the public domain now.

I personally have several of his 78RPM records, including the famous "I've Got The Profiteering Blues," recorded around 1920, written about the hyper-inflation that followed the first World War.

A few other great songs you might find amusing are "A Gay Caballero," and "There's No One With Endurance Like The Man Who Sells Insurance," as well as the epic "Abdul Abulbul Amir," (which had many sequels).

For those who are familiar with the financial history behind the roaring twenties and the great depression, you'll really appreciate "A Tale of the Ticker."

Many of you will recall the drunken favorite "Little Brown Jug," and, of course, there's always the wild and wacky "Prune Song."

It's not for everyone all the time, but these ancient oldies are worth a listen or two.  So, check out a few of them today at archive.org.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ebert: Dead

It's often a sad thing to hear about death, and yesterday many people heard the sad news that famous movie critic, Roger Ebert, had passed away.  I don't have a lot to say about the matter, though I still remember when his partner, Gene Siskel, died years ago.  They had a good team dynamic going on back in the old days, and after Siskel's death I don't feel that Ebert was ever the same.

Critics are a dime a dozen, and in this modern era of instant videos and highspeed internet, I think the age of the "professional" critic is fading.  There isn't so much demand for the opinions of a few high-profile reviewers, not when everyone can read amateur reviews from many different people regarding any new flick in the theaters.  I don't see the critics fading away drastically like the stagecoach painters or kerosene street-lamp lighters did a hundred years ago, but I doubt you'll see universally renowned critics dominating the scene as Siskel & Ebert did.  Everyone's got an opinion, and modern media gives everyone a voice in that regard.

Farewell, Roger Ebert.  Now, let us all enjoy a good movie in his honor.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dead Anthology to Come

Horror generally hasn't been my genre, and I honestly will never be a fan of the gory slasher flicks that are a dime a dozen.  However, amidst the slew of slush are some really intelligent tales of suspense, sci-fi horror, and fantastic terror tales that contain more than blood and gore.  I've had the pleasure of reading several such pieces in recent months from very talented writers, and as a Sci-Fi & Fantasy publisher, I feel like putting some things together for those of you who tend toward the macabre.

For my first foray into the darker side of publishing, I'd like to announce the "Life of the Dead," anthology, a collection of logical and suspenseful Undead stories.  Yes, Zombies have been done to death, yet for some inexplicable reason they have staying power at the moment.  The zombie craze has yet to die down, so I'll put together my own take on the sub-genre.

What I'm after:  I'd like to see some originality to the stories, something that isn't just a rehash of Night of the Living Dead, or similar low-budget bloodbaths.  I'm after stories that add a sense of logic to the zombie phenomenon, stories that trend toward Sci-Fi.  Give us some science behind them, or show us a new side of zombies that we don't generally see.  Basically, show me more than just yahoos blasting living dead with shotguns.  As the title implies, I'd like to see the life of the dead.  Are they really all about eating brains, or is there something deeper?  Explore the possibilities.

There you go, another great Martinus Publishing Anthology to look forward to.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go clean my Mossberg, just in case...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Contributor Limits on Amazon Kindle

I ran into another mild annoyance last week.  As I was setting up the Kindle Version of The Temporal Element, I discovered that Amazon limits the number of listed contributors to 10.  Since the Temporal Element has 20 different authors, this means only half of the writers got their names on the listing.  In doing so, I made sure those who specifically asked me about adding this title to their Amazon Author Page got their name listed, though there are probably others who didn't ask me who will want to do it, as well.

I've run into this problem, myself, having a story in an anthology and not getting into the initial listing.  Fortunately, all I had to do was contact Amazon about it and get my name attached to the title.  To help any of the other authors in The Temporal Element, I made sure that each contributor name is listed in the "book description" further down the page.  This way, if they want to add the book to their Amazon Author Page, they can point right to that when requesting the addition.  The Print Version had no such limitation, so everyone is listed there.

I understand that Amazon doesn’t want to have a huge number of names clogging up their Kindle titles, but it is kind of short-sighted.  These multi-author anthologies should not be limited to only 10.  So what if 20 or 30 people are listed as a contributing author?  That's the way it is.  Please, Amazon, revise your Kindle submission form, so we can give everyone the credit they deserve!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bad Basketball Team Names

This post is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, so don't lynch me.  While attending some local basketball games, a few choice sports team names came to mind, things that could be kind of funny if viewed in a certain light.

The Reapers:  Perfect for farm-country, though with a dark side.  You could have the grim reaper as your mascot, flailing around a rubber scythe.  Plenty of jokes about "death comes for all who oppose," and such.  Just like the baseball team "The Braves" has the tomahawk chop, we could have the "reaper sweep."  So many possibilities.

The Shooters:  I'm sure there have been teams by this name, and maybe there still are some, though I suspect it's a name that'll be on the decline now with all the media nuts screaming about gun violence.    "You can't shoot baskets anymore, how barbaric!"  I'm sure the PC police are coming up with an alternative right now.  I guess they'll be "throwing" baskets, or "tossing" baskets.  No more shooting, that's for sure.  So, the "shooters" while a pretty innocuous name, is no longer acceptable.

The Bombers:  Okay, people of Princeton, pitchforks down, please.  It's nothing personal, but the name "Bombers" has always struck me as kind of erroneous.  The term "bomb" is often used to denote something that is a flop, or otherwise a failure.  Then again, there are those oddballs who talk all gansta-style saying things like "Dat movie is da bomb!" meaning "great," so who knows?  The team was named for military aircraft, so that angers the peace and love hippy-types, too.

On that note, how about a team called The Snipers?

The Weasels:  Blood sucking rodents, why not name your team after these furry little creatures?  They're just like ferrets, only less understood.

The Hamsters:  This would only work if coupled with the right town name, such as "The Hampton Hamsters" or "The Harvard Hamsters."

The Crackers:  The good old boys team.  It's okay to insult white folks, so why not?  Wait, how about The Honkies?  "Tonight, for one night only, the Harlem Globetrotters versus the Memphis Honkies!"  Nah, maybe not.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Another A to Z Challenge

Kindle Version
It's April again, and that means I'm doing the A to Z Challenge. All throughout the month of April, I'll be composing blog posts starting with A and going through to Z. Each weekday and Saturday, there will be a new post in alphabetical order, and it's bound to be harder this time around than in previous years. With my new Editor workload, as well as various other jobs I'm doing right now, it may be hard to plan out each and every day's post, but I'll muddle through it.

For those who have been waiting, The Temporal Element officially comes out today, and the Kindle version is available at Amazon.com. 21 stories about time-travel, from 20 great authors! It's the first anthology I've edited, but it surely won't be the last.

Well, we'll just have to see what comes up next...