Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mr Bunches shows you what "The Force" looks like

I plan on maybe having a Tom Cruise-related ranking, some more publicity for my book, and thoughts on Andrew Leon's critiques of a fellow indie writer, soon, but until then, here is Mr Bunches demonstrating how you use "The Force":

Thursday, March 26, 2015

There is no better way to demonstrate how awful the world is....

This 8-year-old volunteered to
make a sandwich for me. THAT IS
... than by noting that we live in a country in which people can afford (a) to own cats, which are basically expensive decorations that cost more money as time goes on*

*I kind of get it, we used to own three cats, one of which I was directly responsible for purchasing, and also we have kids, which are kind of the same principal only they are more expensive and more destructive to your soul but less decorative. Still the point is valid

 and (b) to feed those cats things like Fancy Feast etc etc and also (c) those Americans then can go out to restaurants and pay good money to eat fish, which is disgusting already but paying for it is worse, and (d) ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE MADE POSSIBLE BY SLAVE LABOR.

An AP report which I read excerpted on Gawker details how the people who catch a lot of the fish you and your cat eat work 20-22 hours a day, drink dirty water, live in cages and, if they misbehave, they are whipped with stingray tails.

YUM FISH.  It's the tears of the dead people who produced it that give it that special flavor.

I can be high-handed (?)(Is that a thing?) about this because I'm reasonably sure that nothing I eat/wear/use was made by slave labor.  After all, I get most of my stuff from Target and Wal-Mart.  Nothing wrong with those two fine corporations, right? But still, fish is gross, and you are probably gross if you go on eating it after reading this.  If you must have a cat, feed it mice like God/cartoons intended.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


So the first one to post everything between the lines (or a reasonable facsimile but you've got to incldue the book cover) on their blog gets an advanced reader copy of my new book FOR FREE:


Here is the cover for Briane Pagel's new scifi thriller Codes, available April 1 for preorder through Golden Fleece Press.

Find out more about this book by following Briane on Twitter:


Or check out his blog:

Thinking The Lions:


Don't let me down, you three people who regularly read this blog!  It's all in your hands, now.

I'll determine who is first by who is the first commenter to say they are first and then I'll verify and ARGLEBARGLE LAWYER TALK.


CODES is the story that began it's life being called Find Out Who You Are; I mentioned it way way back in September 2014. It is, as I described it to the publisher when I submitted it... a book? I can't remember exactly what I said it was so I'll paraphrase:

It's a scifi thriller set in a world where corporations have found a way to clone humans quickly, and to download personalities into them -- personalities that can be tweaked to make the person exactly the way you want them to be.  

Is there a small  band of desperate individuals hatching an insane plan to bring down the massive corporation against all odds? YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO READ IT TO FIND OUT.  Also, yes, there is.  

Remember, the book is CODES.  You can pre-order it on April 1 from Golden Fleece Press.  Mark that date on your calendar! Actually, it's probably already on your calendar. So just maybe make a mental note of it.

Overly Aggressive Marketing: Day 1

Monday, March 23, 2015

"Oh somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright."

 But not in Wisconsin, where we are just entering our 273rd consecutive month of winter.

Mr Bunches woke up this morning, looked out the window and started crying.  "It's supposed to be grass," he said before insisting that we call "the snow plow man" and then "the water man," to make the snow go away.

I try to take the long view.  When global warming finally melts the last of the polar ice caps, Wisconsin is going to be tropical and probably located right on the coast of the brand new megaocean.  I got my future seafront property at a bargain price.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


TWO MORE of my stories have been selected as among the best in the world, if you assume that only the best possible stories in the world get published, which is what I assume, not just because my stories got picked, but...

... I'm rambling. I'll get to the point.  Two flash fiction stories of mine, "An Unsigned Inscription Found in a Class of 1987 Yearbook" and "The Man Who Never Finished His" have been published in After The Pause's March issue, which you can find at this link.  They are flash fiction, so I'm not going to describe what they're about, except to say that The Man Who Never Finished His might be the most clever thing I have ever written.

And I've written some pretty clever things.

Go check 'em out!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"I Went To Find Me In The Library." (Mr F, Chair Pioneer)

The other day, I asked Mr Bunches where we should go for our adventure.

"Fitchburg Library," he said, which is the library one town over, where they were rumored to actually have the much-sought-after Star Wars ABC  book on the shelf!

Mr F is not really a fan of libraries, at all, and when we got there, he reacted about as I would expect: hiding behind a bean bag in the kid's area before I could make him learn:

While Mr Bunches worked with the librarian to find Star Wars ABC (which had been TAKEN OUT! *gasp* and had to be reserved)  Mr F saw me pick out a book and head his way.  He took defensive measures:

That didn't work. I still made him read a book about a striped sheep that was different from the others.  More on that in a moment.  Anyway, after we read that book, I helped Mr Bunches with looking for other books, and then I was heading back to the seating area with the book Mr Bunches and I were going to read when Mr F caught sight of me coming with a different book in my hand.

Enough's enough, he seemed to say:

Anyway, two final thoughts about the books we read, or almost read:

First, the one Mr F and I read, Digby Differs, was ridiculous.  This sheep is striped like a barber's pole, and feels different than the non-striped sheep.

One day, a balloon striped like him goes overhead and the sheep follows it to the city, feeling a kinship with it. But the balloon floats away, and the sheep wanders around the city noticing other things like a soda cup that are striped like him but not fitting in, so he hops on a train (!) and hoboes it out to another part of the world where he finds a lighthouse that is striped just like him!

Story over, right?

WRONG.  The sheep then travels to a different hillside that is identical to the one he left right down to being filled with non-striped sheep, but this hillside is within sight -- barely -- of the striped lighthouse.

The story finishes with this muddled idea

“Digby was different from the others, but it didn’t matter — because here, it was O.K. to be different.”

WHY? I mean, it's not like I need a ton of backstory in a kid's book, but there is simply no reason a kid should know that the first sheep are somehow worse than the second, or understand why it's okay to be different in one place but not in the other.  Even The New York Times was puzzled:

 What makes the coast more hospitable than the countryside where Digby started out? Can he really be happy with the lighthouse as his only striped companion? Is the lighthouse a symbol of God, and has Digby found religion? Koch’s happy ending is peculiar, but then again, so is Digby, and for some readers those unanswered questions may be a source of pleasure.
I will say: I had no idea, when I read the book the first time, that there might be some sort of religious subtext.  Then again, I didn't really get that the Narnia books were Christian until they were made into Christian movies, so I may not be the best guy to pick up on that.

ANYWAY, Digby Differs was nowhere near as bad as:

This is the one I was going to read with Mr Bunches but luckily I previewed it.  It's a charming little book with hand-drawn stick-figurish trees and elephants inside.  I will not spoil it for you right away. You can watch an animated version of the book -- the drawings are the same, just animated -- right here.  It's only about two minutes:

The Elephant and the Tree - English Version from Huang Kun Quan - KQ on Vimeo.

OH MY #*#%&#%& GOD.  A children's book ends with a shot of its two protagonists chained together in a pen dreaming -- only dreaming -- of the days when they were happy and free.  OH AND ONE OF THE MAIN CHARACTERS IS DEAD.

I don't even know how that book exists.