Monday, May 23, 2016

Employee of the Week

Rodney at work is a likable enough guy.  Everybody there certainly likes him (a heck of a lot more than they like me), and he has a charm and inherent decency that is hard to dislike.  But over the last few weeks, he seems to call me more and more to cover his shifts, to the point where, when I see his name on the Caller ID, sadly, I no longer pick up.*

So Thursday, my phone rang, and I saw it was Rod, and just let it ring.  He left no message, but called back again as soon as it went to voicemail.  I couldn't understand why anybody'd do that, and it's my (new) policy to always let folks leave a message before I deign to call them back or pick up the next time they call.  Like I said, no message.

But he did it again on Friday, not leaving a message, and I decided to complain about it to a coworker.  First I bitched that he calls me all the time to cover his shifts, then I whined that he called twice yesterday and now once today, and he expects me to just cancel whatever plans I might hav--

"Oh," my coworker interrupted, "did you hear?  Rod's dad died yesterday."

"Oh," I said back.

Yes, information that would have been useful before I began to complain about Rodney.

Rish "At Least I Didn't Send Him A Mean Text" Outfield

*Some of that is on me, after not showing up one day in February for the first time in the years I've worked there, and then getting written up about it, I pretty much decided to stop covering for others no matter who they are.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rish Outcast 43: Mary Sue Ex Machina

A while back, I was going to do an episode of That Gets My Goat where I complained about people overusing/misusing the terms "deus ex machina" and "mary sue."  But Big canceled on me, so we didn't.

Later, I was glad we'd not recorded it that night, since I was misusing one of them too.

Let's talk about it anyway, shall we?

Right-Click, you monkey.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Babysitter of the Week

I seem to have maimed my nephew today.

I thought it would be fun to "pump" him on my new bicycle, and figured he'd be safe, since his mother insists he wears a helmet (which, I'll admit, seems ridiculous to me, since there were no helmets or knee-pads or Child Protective Services when I was a kid, and look how I turned out).  But I put him on the seat behind me, and told him to hold onto me while I pedaled, and we went down the block, not fast, but not slow either.  "If you start to fall, let me know," I said as we turned around to go back up the hill.

Well, he didn't.

Luckily for the boy, we were going uphill, and hence, very slowly.  Unluckily for the boy, he slid off the back of the bike, hit the tire, and then was rubbed raw by the rubber until I stopped.

He whimpered a little, but didn't exhibit much pain when it happened, so I figured it was no big deal.  However, once we got home, the crying really started, and I discovered it was for good reason.  I'd take a picture and show you, but . . . what the hell, why would I EVER do that?

Needless to say, the poor kid has deep scrapes where the sun don't shine, and is sleeping on his stomach right now, wisely pumped full of painkillers.  I hope I haven't traumatized him so he'll be afraid of bicycles in the future, since they provide me with a) a little joy, and b) the only exercise I ever get.


P.S. I was vexed about this, and feeling a little like a choad, but he was up and around again first thing the next morning, and had no problem going up and down stairs.  I did see him without the bandage on later, though . . . and I'm a choad again.

Friday, May 13, 2016

My Story "Rest Stop" Available in Text & Audio

"Rest Stop" is available to buy, either in text form at Amazon, or in audio form at Audible.  Links in the previous sentence.

This is a very simple short story about a man and his dog on a road trip.  It wasn't written long ago* but I can't remember what inspired it.  Maybe nothing did.  Is that possible?

I'm really trying to publish more of my short stories, even though it seems like an overly painstaking, thankless task.  I enjoy writing them, enjoy (to a lesser extent) editing/rewriting, and enjoy recording the audio versions.  But formatting them, sending them out to be evaluated, uploading the files and descriptions for sale, pricing, editing the audio, uploading that, and creating cover art?


Speaking of which . . .  A guy at work this week revealed that he's not only an amateur artist, but is enormously talented at it.  I mentioned that I ought to get him to do a cover to one of my stories, and he seemed totally interested.  You and I both know that's not going to go anywhere.  Sigh.


*In fact, I was looking through the notebook it was written in today and found the following paragraph: "Dunesteef sketch.  Big Anklevich is accepted to the Xavier School due to his ability to score with hot chicks."  Had no memory of that one either.  But it would've been a heck of an opportunity to do inappropriate Patrick Stewart lines.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Rish Outcast 42: "Oh Honey, Your First Novel!"

Well, this has been a long time in coming.

This post serves as a blog entry, and as a way to present another episode of my solo podcast, both with the same goal: to announce the publication of my first novel, "Into the Furnace."  I nearly called it "A Premise With Promise," but . . . well.*

It's not a long one, but I've been working hard on it the last few weeks, to get it out there, and in a condition that doesn't mortify me on the level of naked baby photos or police stoplight footage.

"Into the Furnace" tells the story of Sheriff Will Ford, who leaves a dead wife and a struggle with the bottle behind him, and moves out to New Mexico Territory to take over as the law in Bendo's Furnace, a small mining town that just keeps getting smaller.  It turns out that people (not to mention local animals and valuable livestock) just keep disappearing out there, and if anyone knows what's happening, they're not talking.

It's what I've been told is a Weird Western, which means a genre story (in this case, a bit o' Horror and Fantasy) in an Old West setting.  The text version is available on right now at THIS LINK, with an audio version to follow (I'll drop another blogpost/podcast when that becomes available).

I would greatly appreciate it if you'd go buy my book, and I'll put a discussion forum link HERE, just in case.

If you'd like to listen to the first chapter of the book, as well as hear me talk about it while trying not to spoil anything, here's another Rish Outcast:

Or you can RIGHT CLICK HERE to download the episode for later consumption.

*After that, this was called "Oh George, Your First Novel!"  But I discovered Lorraine actually says "Honey," which will make the reference a bit harder to catch.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Got Myself Covered

So, I've talked about cover art a time or two.  Every self-publishing panel I've been to has mentioned it, and how a good cover can make your book sell (or not sell).  Big and I have discussed it ad nauseum, and I never care much about my covers, as long as they convey the feeling of my stories.

Hence this:
I understand what everybody's telling me: that a cover that's good can convince people to buy the book/story, because it enhances the text and catches the eye, and that a lousy cover can convince folks that the content behind it is probably lousy too.

But I tend to be really, really minimal, especially because I don't *really* care whether people buy them or not.  And sometimes that works, such as:

Other times, not so much:

Not sure why I love green font so much, either.

The cover that people give me the most compliments on is the one I had Dave Krumanacher do for "Birth of a Sidekick."  I asked him to do a follow-up for the sequel, but I haven't got one yet.  It's really good:
So, when it came time to do the cover for my first novel (or "novel," if you want to be mean), I thought I would give more care and effort to it than I usually do.  I guess I first started thinking about it back in July, when I took this picture:
In the book, there are three buttes just outside of town, and the tallest one seems to be where there's trouble.  So, in passing this lovely Arizona butte (or hill or big rock), I snapped the photo, and then a couple of others, thinking that I could probably stick all three together sort of like this:
I ended up losing (or saving over) the original combination version, but ultimately, the cover was going to look pretty close to this here:
And that's fine, really.  To me.

Yeah, it looks a little bit weird, and kind of shitty, but with a green font and bigger text, I would've been fine to publish it like that (still could).

But then I found out that Austin at work is an artist, and a really fine one, and asked him if he would do me a drawing of three buttes, and a bunch of skulls or bones in the bottom right corner.  I did a sketch showing exactly what I wanted, but never ended up giving it to him (as he had started right away, just based on what I told him).  Almost immediately, he sent me this pencil drawing:
I liked it, and told him to make the middle butte the tallest and most prominent.  I then went to work trying to finish up my book (and audiobook) for publication, and asked Austin to get me the finished cover by Friday (5/6).

Sure enough, on Friday, he sent me this:

He told me he knew it wasn't exactly what I had asked for, and if I wanted, he could work on it some more.  Or I could just not use it and he'd do better next time.

I quickly stuck a title on there, and ended up with:

Although it's exactly what I intended to create, even I admit that came out a bit lamer.  Is it that "Into" seems bigger than "the furnace?"  Is it the white outline on my name and the black outline on the title?  IS it the green?  I dunno, except that something was off on it, and though I had planned on publishing the book with the above as the cover, I decided to give it a day and see if I couldn't come up with something better.

Big has access to a lot more fonts than I do, and he seems to have a good eye for balance and design, so I asked him to do me one that was in a Western font and one that was in a Fantasy font (since the book's a bit of both).

Here was the first:

 And here was the second:

They both look better than mine, but he also included a couple of other takes (nine total), including one that I liked a lot that I called more of a Horror version.  I was sort of torn between using the Western one and the Horror one, but thought I'd let the kids on Facebook decide.  So, I created this image:

I told them to vote for their pick, and started on this blog post.  Now I've reached this point (in the spirit of full disclosure, I also called Big on the phone and played Plants Versus Zombies), and Option C received seventeen votes, while A and B each received two.*

One friend suggested I slide my first name over to the left, and I made a little alteration to the image, leaving this the final cover:

Guess I ought to publish it now.

Rish "Re-covered" Outfield

I won't always go this all out, though, I recognize that.  How's this for irony?

*After posting this, they continued to get votes.  It was actually an amazing turnout for a Facebook question, but I had already made my decision by that point (and the votes just confirmed the results from the middle of the night).

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Lucky Find

Big emailed me tonight to see if I still had a (disturbing) photo I had doctored of his children as serial killers (don't ask).  But in looking through old pictures, I saw the ones of my work in the Lucky the Leprechaun costume from a decade ago.  It had always bothered me that the only photos I had contained an irritating watermark over them, and I wondered if normal ones existed.

Then I remembered this thing called the Internet.  I did an image search, and immediately, I found this picture of me and Neil Patrick Harris:
Which is different than the one I own.

I did another search, and found one of me and Jeff Daniels (again, better than mine):
Me with Dominic Purcell:

Me, with everybody's pal, Andy Dick:

And, oddly, this picture of Frankenhooker:

Yes, this was a better use of an hour than writing.