Muchas gracias!

A sincere thank you to Sylva Fae for her wonderful review of Henchmen.  Read her review here and enjoy the rest of her blog which is filled with magic and wonder.  Also a shout-out to the talented Tom Benson for his kick-ass review!

I think I might have just won some kind of award for maximum link density here…  Go check out their blogs and writing, Sylva and Tom are extremely talented people and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to meet them – even if it was only online.

Thank you both.

GUNS! GUNS! GUNS!

My dad was a font of wisdom.  He had a way of casually tossing advice and snarky comments and all manner of fatherly things at the drop of a hat, usually when I least expected it.  Since my folks were divorced and I only saw him every six months of so, I think he may have thought these things up, saved them, and then had them ready when we met.  For instance:

I was visiting him in Phoenix (his home) on spring break from college (Portales, NM) and we were in a McDonald’s somewhere near ASU.  We were chatting about school and work and generally eating some of the worst burgers the world has ever tasted when a young woman walks in.  My dad, never one to turn down the chance to ogle young women, watched her walk by, turned to me and said, “You should ask her out.”

I tried to explain to him that I lived in New Mexico and she lived in Arizona and I was going back in a couple days anyway.  His response: “You’re thinking buy.  You need to think rent.”

Probably my dad's ideal woman.
Probably my dad’s ideal woman.

And so it goes and so it goes.  He also bought me my first car, a 1965 VW Beetle and warned me to not get anyone pregnant in the back seat.  The back seats in VW Beetles are about the size of a postage stamp and this one was missing most of cover and some of the padding.

I assured him I wouldn’t get anyone pregnant in the back seat.

He was a big guy who loved motorcycles, Pepsi, and guns.  He absolutely adored guns.  To the best of my knowledge he never shot anyone, never got into a gun fight, and never had to defend himself with a gun.  He had scads of them, though, from tiny .22 pistols to full-auto submachine guns, to large bore rifles and shotguns.  When he was alive and I visited him, we would go out in the desert and blow holy hell out of targets.

It was a blast.

I grew up shooting and learning about guns and generally getting exposed to them.  I’ve fired all manner of fun stuff and loved every minute of it.  Contrary to what a lot of people say, holding a gun didn’t make me feel tough or superior.  Shooting was just fun.  Now that I’m older, I have guns of my own (inherited from my dad).  The last time I shot was about a decade ago.  I really need to go again.  If you’ve never been shooting, you should try it sometime.  It really is fun.

hardboiled
Note: I have never been in a firefight at a Chinese tea house dedicated to bird lovers.  Also, that’s Chow Yun Fat, not me.

But, and here’s a thing, I grew up being taught to respect firearms.  My dad was of the mindset that guns had a bad reputation and needed to be kept safe and secure.  I remember one time, I was with him and his buddies eating breakfast at some place in Phoenix and one of the guys had just gotten a new gun.  He brought it into the restaurant, snuggled securely in a locked box with foam padding, to show it off.  They all huddled around it, using their bodies to keep anyone else from seeing a gun in a family joint and getting worried.  Breakfast, they reckoned, was sacred and didn’t need to be disturbed by the big guys with a gun on the table.  When they were done, the gun case was locked up and stowed on the booth seat and everyone ate pancakes.

That’s just the way it was with him.  Loved guns; didn’t feel the need to flash his piece everywhere.  He also once told me if I was going to kill someone to use a bow and arrow.  By his reckoning guns had a bad enough reputation and didn’t need any further problems.

So, there you go.  I was taught from a very young age (fired my first gun when I was four) about guns and how to deal with them and what to do and not to do.  It’s not really rocket surgery; guns aren’t toys, treat them with respect and realize accidents can be fatal.

Unfortunately, this simple lesson seems to be lost on some people.  I’m reading more and more stories about toddler accidentally shoots parents, or so and so got shot doing something stupid.  Like the couple who got in an accident because she was waving the gun around the cabin of the car; boyfriend ducks, rear-ends someone.  During the crash she shoots herself in the head.  The Aristocrats!

Is it any wonder people get nervous when folks are stalking around Target with Kalashnikovs and shotguns?  It’s not the responsible gun owners we’re worried about; it’s the irresponsible people we’re worried about and, alas, it’s sometimes difficult to discern the two groups.  So, while these people look like paranoid idiots, I’m not overly concerned about them.  What I am concerned about is how anyone can get hold of a gun with zero training and zero respect for the weapons.

Actually a pretty remarkable piece of machinery.  Simple and effective.
Actually a pretty remarkable piece of machinery. Simple and effective.  And perfectly legal.

What would really be nice is for responsible gun owners to start acting like responsible gun owners.  Showing up to a Presidential speech with a rifle slung over your back is not sending the message that you believe in open carry laws, it just makes you look dangerous and strange.  Wandering around the toy aisle at Target with your gun is downright bizarre.  I get it, you’re trying to teach people that guns aren’t scary or illegal and Lord knows I agree with you, but you need to moderate the message and the medium.

One of the best displays of gun awareness I’ve seen was at an outdoor expo in Albuquerque last summer.  Anyone could go out to the shooting range and try shooting.  Before you went out, however, someone explained the rules.  Again, the rules aren’t complicated.  Treat a gun with respect and realize it is a weapon.  Point it down range.  Not a toy.  Accidents can be fatal.

I firmly believe in the right to keep and bear arms, it’s enshrined in the Constitution and I think it’s a good and just law.  But I’d love to see more gun owners doing a better job to educate and train people.  I’d love to see gun shops (note: not the government, the shops themselves) requiring people to take a short class before they can buy their first gun.  A little respect and a little education can go a long way.

Right now you can get a concealed carry permit; it takes a background check, some money, and some training.  You have to prove that you understand your weapon.  Why can’t regular gun sales be like that?  Why aren’t we teaching people about guns rather than just carrying them in Chipotle with steely glints in our eyes?

Side story: when NM was considering concealed carry laws one of my programming students was adamantly against them.  In her eyes, she was worried about going to the theater and having someone with a gun sitting next to her.  I had to explain to her that situation has probably already happened and the people who are going to get concealed carry permits aren’t the folks you need to worry about anyway.

When you get right down to it, gun control needs to be a bit more than just being able to hit your target and it’s going to be up to regular, responsible gun owners to get that message out.  That’s how you moderate the message: it’s not us vs. them.  It’s not “you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”  The message should be “we know what we’re doing and we want to help others learn it, too.”  That way you can overcome the fear and distrust rather than making things worse.

It’s not a message you can create and send by wandering around Target with an assault rifle; that’s a perceived threat, whether it’s intentional or not.  The message should be more along the lines of come on out and try.  Provide a safe and sane environment and let people make up their minds on their own.  There will still be some people who will balk at private gun ownership, and that’s fine, perhaps at least some of the rest can be brought around.

Because, hey, shooting’s pretty fun.

Review – A Taste of Honey by Tom Benson

tasteofhoney

Let’s just cut right to the chase and call this what it is: a revenge story fueled by adrenaline and nitrous oxide.  This is a shot of whisky and a punch in the gut.  It’s like having someone go upside your head with a gold brick wrapped in silky blonde hair.  A Taste of Honey is crime fiction and its raw and unadulterated best.  Think of Richard Stark’s The Hunter and you’ve got an idea of what you’re in for; that edgy level of crime where you find yourself rooting for the bad guy because the bad guy is hunting even worse guys.

The story works like this: An NYPD detective finds her sister has been systematically abused and murdered.  Our detective changes her appearance, becoming the titular Honey and goes after her sister’s murderers.  The chase will lead her through all kinds of muck and nasty characters.  Benson doesn’t skimp on details, everything Honey does is lovingly captured and described; wrapped in a bow and dropped at your feet.

If you’re into edgy crime fiction (and who isn’t?), this is definitely worth your time.

Buy Link

Tom’s Website, Tom’s Blog, Tom on Twitter

Shorts

I got to watch Lemmy, the movie about Motörhead lead singer, bassist, and generally awesome guy some time back.  Among other things, it made him seem like a pretty fun guy.  One thing that stands out was Anthrax’s Scott Ian (I think) telling a story about seeing Lemmy wandering around in extremely short shorts.  Ian was doing the normal long short thing, but Lemmy’s were almost non-existent; the kind of thing you’d expect in a porn movie about women in prison but, you know, starring Lemmy.

Which could only make it even more awesome.

So, anyway, Ian asks Lemmy what’s up with his shorts, why are they so short, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada.  Lemmy’s response?  “I’m comfortable.”

Since I know you’re chomping at the bit for the pic, wait no longer.

It's straight out of 70s porn.  Just needs a good funky soundtrack and some wocka chickas.
It’s straight out of 70s porn. Just needs a good funky soundtrack and some wocka chickas.

This post isn’t about Lemmy’s shorts, though.  I just thought it was a funny story.

Speaking of stories and shorts… (how’s that for a segue?)

No, how's that for a segway?
No, how’s that for a segway?

I’ve always had a love affair with short stories.  The well written ones give you a slice of a story, a tiny little piece of the action.  Mine give you ramblings and probably indigestion.  A good short, though, can be an amazing thing.  I read one a while back – and I’ll be damned if I can remember who wrote it (I want to say either Kevin Hearne or Richard Kadrey, two of my favorites) about a curse that just slowly lost power over time until the demon just drank all the guy’s beer.  It was tiny, a couple pages at the most, but it has stuck in my head ever since.

So, another minor segue here; I toyed with Henchmen for the better part of three years before I put the first words on a page.  When it was done, I was kind of worried that I’d never have another idea.  After all, a few years is a long time to percolate a story and if it took nearly 40 years to come up with the idea and another few to actually start writing it, I’d manage one more story in my life.

Maybe.  If I was lucky.

Fortunately, the idea for Arise came along quickly and while I was writing that one I started getting all kinds of crazy ideas; little stories from the Henchmen universe, brand new stuff, the beginnings of new books and so on.  A lot of them were short shots (not necessarily about short shorts, either), not long enough for a full length novel, but begging to be told nonetheless.

So, I started writing short stories into a collection tentatively called The Clock Man.  Here’s the tentative cover.  (I decided it would be better to start the cover design process earlier than almost immediately before I release the book.)

Clock Man tentative cover.
Clock Man tentative cover.

I also recently came across this link, which was kind of an interesting take on the whole thing.  So, sometime this year (bear in mind I’m kind of lazy) I’ll be publishing a group of short stories including:

  • A Valkyrie going off the rails
  • A pair of ghosts that may or may not be the real bad guys
  • A man with a talking gun hunting the bogeyman
  • The white room and the man in gray
  • The titular clock man
  • A dream cookie

And more.

So, stay tuned.  It may be a crazy ride.

Slight changes and stuff and things

I fell in with a talented group of indie writers on Facebook.  It was started by the talented Paul Ruddock as way for indies to get together and share books.  Basically we read and review each other’s works, provide support and feedback and generally help each other out.  If you notice up top there’s a new menu item for reviews.  Everything I read and review will be posted there.  There are already a couple on there and more to come in time.

All you indies out there, keep at it.

Just Two Weeks – Amanda Singleton-Williams

justtwoweeks

Whoa. This is a wild ride. What starts out as a simple beach vacation goes horribly awry. The author did a wonderful job of describing Jo’s slow descent and I spent about half the book wondering if she was just paranoid or if there was something sinister going on. I’d like to spend more time talking about it, but, at its heart, this is a mystery (and a damned good one, too) story and I don’t want to be the jerk that spills the beans about the ending. Trust me, though, this is well worth the money and time.

Not sure if Amanda has a blog or website.  If she does, and she shoots met the info, I’ll add them here.

Buy Link