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22 September 2014

spring has sprung. It’s wet (a steady flow of showers,) and windy. I can live with the wet, it’s shooting the grass upwards usefully, but I could do without the wind, I find it intensely irritating hearing that when I’m trying to go to sleep. But then, as I added after being rude about the spring gales to a friend the other day, “hearing them is better than being deaf.”

Here lies John Jones, a polititian,
convincing constituents was his mission,
Of honour he’d little, of truth he’d nil,

Now in this cemetery he lies still.


a second story has been taken by one of the (American) Guideposts anthologies. Thin Places anthology editor has just emailed to say that they are taking my story, Into That Good Night. They produce a well presented volume and as I had a story in another of their anthologies in March of this year I hope that this second sale may be an indication they could be interested in more of my writing.

10 September 2014

of late I’ve been invited to enter a number of travel competitions via email offers and in my magazines. Now, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, (In case you’ve ever wondered, you check a horse’s mouth (the teeth) so see how old the animal is. Horses have a ‘useful’ lifespan and an old horse may not be that useful for that long.) but considering the listed items you get has left me wondering if it’s worth entering many travel competitions. Many of them refuse to allow you to transfer the travel to deserving friends or family members. And then too – the last one, where I looked at exactly what I’d get, noted that I would have to pay for…flights from where I live to a main airport and that can be $300 per person. Most of my meals at very expensive resorts where I’d be staying. And every incidental as well with no daily allowance given.

In short, I could have a nice 6 day trip to Australia – if I paid out a night’s accommodation at one transfer point, 12-14 expensive meals for me (and anyone with me,) very expensive taxi fares to the airport in several places, and a few other bits and pieces which would be essential to the trip. I estimate that should I take the trip on my own, the ‘free trip’ I won would cost me something over $1,000NZ (and that’s not counting that most don’t cover travel insurance either.) I’ve therefore decided to enter a different competition for a car – that will be delivered to me. Okay, I can’t drive. But if I win that I can at least sell it, donate it, or learn to drive. And everything is paid for, registration, petrol vouchers, and AA membership for a year. It seems to be a far better and much less expensive deal. And reminds me of advice I was given a long time ago. “You should look a gift horse in the mouth, otherwise it may die of old age and you’ll have to pay out a fortune to dispose of it.”

7 September 2014

large size soft cover. 2nd annual. 103 pages. 10 short stories, 5 more flash, plus articles and editorial.

Reviewed by Steve Johnson.

This anthology is a very nice piece of work. Stunning cover art by M. Wayne Miller -which was picked up as the plot behind J.A. Campbell’s story. (RCAF Royal Canine Air Force) a fun tale that balanced the artwork very well. Peter J. Wack’s Shell Games is a longer story, an interesting take of skewed history and missing diamonds, which I enjoyed. As I did Jessica Brawner’s Bad Altitude (clever title) and Steam Powered Camera by Lyn McConchie. Altitude deals with spies, lies, and airships, while Lyn’s tale looks at a new invention and how dangerous it turns out to be. Lian Hogan’s Horse, is an excellent tale, it required suspension of disbelief, but with that achieved it was a wicked little tale with a rounded-off finale.

In fact all of the stories in this issue were good. However I personally found A Cure for Boundary Pirates the best. Here in New Zealand it resonates powerfully, since we don’t allow medical marijuana, not even the fake stuff which has recently also been banned. And since both varieties can alieviate severe symptoms in a number of medical problems and diseases, this has left some people of whom my wife and I know one – for whom it works far better than other medications – with the option of being much worse off, or breaking the law but living in improved conditions/with much less pain or nausea.

The short >300 words stories, all on the theme of fog were uniformly solid. It always interests this non-writer to see how an author can cram a good story and interesting characters into such a small word count. And the articles covered a wide range while all being interesting and informative. J.A. Campbell’s article on Tumbleweeds surprised me, I had (as she said people do) supposed them to be natives of America, and found to my astonishment that they are actually of Russian origin. But then, I suppose that to tumbleweeds there is no difference between the American west and the Russian Steppes and they are at home in  both places. But any article that tells you something that’s both new and interesting is a good article.

David Riley also provided both with an article on a mysterious airship that terrorized an area of the USA in 1896. I initially supposed this to be a spoof article, but looked up the references and found that, on the contrary, his account is genuine and information on this and other airships is even listed in Wikipedia under and yes, there have been books on the subject. So, all in all, another good annual, the editor seems to have a knack of choosing well-written stories and articles, and the publisher of finding artists that do good work. I am sorry to hear (as my friend Lyn informs me) that the publisher has decided to discontinue the SF Trails series. But at least readers will still have this annual and other anthologies that he produces. And I notice that other editors are taking up the weird-western sub-genre of late with a steady trickle of new anthologies being produced, some via kickstarter, covering weird western SF and F, ghost, and horror. Long may it continue.

The local newspaper is having a small binge on my articles at present. Last few weeks one has appeared in all of the Saturday supplements for the Dannevirke News. Out have been FUN (AND GIFTS) WITH JUNK Saturday August 23rd 2014, REMEDIES FROM THE KITCHEN CUPBOARD Corriander, Saturday August 30th 2014, and PEG IT (10 or more uses for pegs) Saturday September 6th 2014. What with my stories and articles and all the other odds and ends I write, I’m certainly building a credit list – almost by accident on a lot of it. Since maybe half is done more for the simple fun of it than for any other reason. And all that lot isn’t half going to exercise my literary executor when I die..

I hadn’t realized this until I looked up the lawn while bringing in firewood and noticed that one goose was sitting in the hen’s dust bath. Next time I went out I noticed that she was there again – and a third time. So when I fed them next morning – and she was in the dust bath yet again, I waited until she was eating and went up the lawn to look. And yes, several eggs neatly tucked into the dry drifted winter leaves that mostly fill the hollow. I’m divided about her laying there. It’s a bit close to the line of a walk from gate to house, which may mean visitors could be unpopular with the gander. On the other hand it isn’t that bad and could be a lot worse. So she can stay, until or unless it causes trouble. She is only laying as yet, not sitting, and I’m now alert for the other three girls, to see when and where they nest. The two given to a friend started nesting earlier, and with the swapping around I did of geese and ganders, it’ll be quite interesting to see this year who nests, and what they produce.