Monday, September 27, 2010

Invasion of the Spambots

This is not the title of a new story.

Recently many of the comments I've received for blog posts have been spam. That's not entirely new, but their numbers are increasing, and they're getting smarter.

I remember the day when spam was easy to spot because it didn't pretend to be anything other than what it was. The message would pop up offering WAYS TO MAKE THOUSANDS FROM HOME, or NAKED PICTURES OF BRITNEY SPEARS, or REGROW HAIR, RESTORE POTENCY AND LOST FAT, ALL WITH ONE HERBAL SECRET. Then these wonderful benefactors of mankind would add a link so you could go directly to their product and/or service.

In the very early days it was human beings on the other end of the spam, but they swiftly discovered how to make spam-bots. These programs would troll the internet seeking new life and new potential markets, then they would drop their messages on unsuspecting websites and forums.

Now the spam is getting smarter. Instead of promising LONELY UKRAINIAN BRIDES up front they show up with comments like: "I really liked your last post, the insights were very helpful" or "This is a great site! I've loved this subject for years and was glad to find a community that shares my interests." Some even offer halfway coherent computer generated comments on the last post. Often the only way I can tell it's spam is the clickable link in the signature file that routes me to WALTER BRENNAN, PICTURES OF THE ACTOR NAKED.

I suspect it's only a matter of time before they become as charming and insightful as human beings. What happens then? Will there be blogs where the only commenters will be smart spambots? Will bloggers form close friendships and even on-line romances with charming programs that only want to use them to sell HOUSEWIFE'S AMAZING TECHNIQUE TO WHITEN TEETH.

Hmm... Maybe this should be a story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...

This has been my most successful year so far for short stories, which is ironic because I'd decided to set aside all by short fiction writing and focus on a novel.

My best laid plans have gang oft aglay. (Now I know how the mice feel.)

Anyway, I heard back from jean-Marc Lofficier last night. It looks like "What Rough Beast" will be a part of vol 7 of TALES OF THE SHADOWMEN. I say "looks like" because there are enough good submissions that he may have to push a story back to the next volume.

Anyway, the year to date looks like this:

"Decently and Quietly Dead" - SIX GUNS STRAIGHT FROM HELL
"Zorro and the Bruja" - MORE TALES OF ZORRO
"Just Like Magic" (with Richard Dean Starr) - MORE TALES OF ZORRO

Submissions I Haven't Heard Back on Yet
"Adrift on Other Seas" - HIGH SEAS CTHULHU II
"The Cwoss-Time Twaveller" - TIMES OF TROUBLE
"The Adventure of the Ethical Assassin" - SHERLOCK HOLMES ANTHOLOGY
"The Un-Kosher Golem" - BACONOLOGY

I suppose a little ganging aglay never hurt anyone, but 2011 will be the year of the novel!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The contents information for THE GREEN HORNET CHRONICLES is out (I lifted this from Win Eckert's blog.

* Edited by Joe Gentile and Win Scott Eckert
* Covers by Glen Orbik and Rubén Procopio/interior illustrations by Procopio


* "Reflections on The Green Hornet": Introduction by Van Williams
* "The Night Car" by Will Murray
* "I Had The Green Hornet’s Love Child!" by Greg Cox
* "Weakness" by C.J. Henderson
* "Topsy-Turvy" by James Chambers
* "Nothing Gold Can Stay" by Richard Dean Starr
* "Just a Man" by Thom Brannan
* "The Cold Cash Kill" by James Reasoner
* "Flight of the Yellow Jacket" by Howard Hopkins
* "By Scarab and Scorpion" by Mark Ellis
* "You Can’t Pick the Number" by Rich Harvey
* "Eyes of the Madonna" by Ron Fortier
* "Stormy Weather" by Patricia Weakley
* "The Auction" by Terry Alexander
* "Go Go Gone" by Robert Greenberger
* "Mutual Assured Destruction" by Bill Spangler
* "The Crimson Dragon" by Mark Justice
* "Fang and Sting" by Win Scott Eckert
* "The Inside Man" by Matthew Baugh
* "The Soul of Solomon" by Harlan Ellison(R)
* "Life at 90 MPH": Afterword by Dean Jeffries
* "The Green Hornet's Hunch" by Dennis O'Neil (bonus story in Limited Editions only)

There are a lot of good writers and a couple of good illustrators there. The Harlan Ellison story (fragment actually), with a short essay is the same story that also appears in vol 3 of THE PHANTOM chronicles.

The introduction is by Van Williams, who played the Green Hornet on the TV series, and the afterward by legendary props man Dean Jeffries who built the Black Beauty car.

I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I just finished the first draft of "What Rough Beast" for Tales of the Shadowmen, Vol 7. It's easily the most violent story I've ever written, though I had a reason for that. I wanted to show the ugliness of rationalizing violence. The central character is a very violent man who doesn't realize how close he is to the mindset of his worst enemies. While this is basically just an adventure story with horror elements, I hope that aspect comes across.

In other news I heard from the editor of the TIMES OF TROUBLE anthology that my story made round two! He asked for dark and grim stories of time travel cone wrong and I wrote something called "The Cwoss Time Twaveler" which incorporates Wile E. Coyote gadgets into a story that the editor says made him laugh out loud.

It usually doesn't work to write against expectations like this, but sometimes...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Six Guns Straight from Hell

Here's the cover!

I'd make it bigger, if only I knew how.