Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Writer Fuel Mailing List

Do you like infrequent emails telling you about new books, contests, newsletter-exclusive content, and random photos of teacups and Chihuahuas?


Also know that spammers will never never ever ever (ever never) get your email list from me.

The first contest is a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift cert to be held October 20, 2014. Sign up and be automatically entered. What could be more slacktivist than that?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Kitsch Salad: 1960s Flapper Girl Bookends

I just realized I hadn't posted a Kitsch Salad entry in forever. It's certainly not for lack of choices! I tend to get caught up in setting up a photography area instead of just taking the pics.

I rescued these lovely ladies out of a box on the lawn at a garage sale in Missouri. Dating from the 1960s, these flapper girl bookends are picture perfect mod-era pieces.

Vintage Earl Bernard Bookends
The label on the bottom reads "Created by Earl Bernard, New York, Made in Japan."

Each girl is a separate sculpt. They are made of a thick chalky china molded and spray painted with paint masks before being hand-detailed. An amazing amount of detail for a dime store frippery. This pair needs a gentle cleaning before finding a home on my shelves. They aren't devastating valuable, but they certainly aren't common. Kitsch rules.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The New Cover! I Almost Forgot!

After discussions with my awesome cover designer, Matt Norris of M.G. Norris Contemporary Photography, he whipped up cover V2.0 and stuck the landing.

Devil's Deal is currently available for pre-order on Amazon and goes live and jive on October 1, 2014. My thanks to everyone for their support in this crazy project.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Writer Fuel: All is Right in the World

Well, at least for tonight. Pre-orders are clicking along for Devil's Deal and my lawn is covered with 2014 election signs all saying "Hooray for my side."

Tonight's #writerfuel features a 1997 limited edition Bailey's figural mug in one of the rarer sculpts. Add in some fresh hot tea and, most importantly, a shot of Baileys Irish Cream in a vintage diner china creamer along with screen saver that was the inspiration for my book's hero Ethan Price and life is damn good.

Baileys and the Boss. Life is good.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Serial Novel: Burning Kansas - Chapter 9

Time for another chapter in my serial novel "Burning Kansas." Set along the Kansas-Missouri border during the tumult of Bleeding Kansas, Creighton Blaylock and Caroline Cassett have a mutual problem. Their children are missing . . .

Did you miss a chapter?  No problem, check out the label "Burning Kansas" or click here.

* * *

Burning Kansas: Chapter 9

The warm hand on Caroline’s back startled her and she turned around. She recognized the trail-worn hat, but everything else about the man standing beside her was unfamiliar.

“Act like I'm your beau. I'll explain later.”

“Excuse me, what are you talking about?”

“Caroline, it’s me, Creighton.”

King interrupted the awkward moment by jumping up and planting his big paws on Creighton’s chest with his tail wagging.

“Hey, boy, I guess you like the new me better as well. I had no idea I was so scary looking before. I probably smell better too,” he said, ruffling the dog’s fur.

Caroline met his twinkling blue eyes and had to laugh at the absurdity of the situation. It had been barely two hours since he’d ridden away from Uncle Donald’s house, but he was a changed man. Minus a bushel of hair and three layers of grime, his high-cheek-boned face was recklessly handsome and totally at ease. The crisp muslin shirt glowed against his flushed skin and his whole mood seemed lighter and younger as he kneeled and played with King.

“Creighton Blaylock, I do declare, I thought I was done being surprised by you.”

He stood. “Glad I could be of service. Now, I can feel the eyes of every busybody in this town burning into my back. Is there another general store? I don’t much feel like going back into this one.”

Caroline raised a fine brow in question, but caught the subtle shake of his head.

“Yes, there’s a small sutler on the edge of town. Not as nice, but not as curious either. Let’s go. I have a lot to tell you.”

This time she didn’t hesitate to place her booted foot in his inter-laced hands and let him help her mount her horse. In a few moments, he pulled next to her on Zeus.

You’ve known him less than a day.

I’m tired of being alone and afraid.


“I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“Where to? I asked you twice. Is everything all right? You seem a million miles away.”

Only in my dreams.

“North edge of town, follow me.”

The daubed log building was only half as big and not one-quarter as grand as the main store, but the few customers seemed more interested in their own business than the couple on horseback.

Caroline kept her gaze on him as he tethered the horses and offered her his hand to dismount. She didn’t pull away quite as fast this time.

“We need to talk,” she said in a tone that didn’t allow for any argument. Face impassive, Creighton gestured to a pair of tumbledown tables with log benches under a tree next to the store. She didn’t speak again until they were seated across from each other.

After fussing with the cuffs of her blouse for a moment, she blurted out, “Jacob and Emma are married. My Uncle Donald is a minister and he married them this morning.”

The easy mood and humor drained out of Creighton’s face. She put up her hand before he could speak.

“Wait. Let me finish. My brother lives in Lawrence and I’m positive that’s where they are headed. 
Unless you have kin on this side, I can’t think of anywhere else they could go. The situation isn’t good for long traveling.”

“Married? What the in hell was that damned preacher thinking? Jacob’s in no shape to be married. Is that how you do things in Kansas? Let children run off and play grown up? This was supposed to be some damn kids prank and you’re telling me they’re married? Damn it.”

Caroline jumped when he slapped the table, stood up, and walked away. He stood at the edge of the clearing and his frame jangled with tension.

This isn’t accomplishing anything and we’re losing time. I might as well tell him everything.

“Creighton, turn around and look at me.”

His angry, petulant expression angered her.

Damn it. We don’t have time for this.

“Listen up. There’s more and I need you to listen. I don’t need to be dealing with two arrogant boys right now.”

He bridled at her tone, but a small smile lifted one corner of his mouth.

“There’s more? Of course there is. Caroline, ever since I showed up in your yard this morning there’s been more. Ever since I met you, there’s been more.”

“Well, we both get to share in this one. Has Jacob been acting strange the last couple of months? Extra secretive or thoughtful?”

Creighton’s face fell. Caroline had an idea of what he was going to say, but stayed quiet.

“To be honest, I don’t rightly know. I haven’t been around much. But, from what little I’ve seen, yes, he’s been quieter than usual. I put it down to the death of his mother.”

“Well, Emma’s been touchier than a cat on a cook stove. I thought it was about me selling the farm and moving us back east. She even pinned a quilt over the door of her loft so I couldn’t see up there. I put a lot of thought into this since I left Uncle Donald’s. It’s why I was so preoccupied when you came up behind me. On the ride out here, Elspeth’s words fell into place.”


“She’s Donald’s maid . . .” Her voice trailed off. This wasn’t the time to explain the woman’s other duties.

If he noticed her hesitation, he didn’t show it. “What did she say?”

“She told me it was most likely right for the kids to be married. Because you can’t put the sap back in the roots once it rises.”

His face was a question. She was going to have to come out and say it.

“Creighton, unless I am sorely mistaken, you and I are fixin’ to become grandparents.”

To be continued . . .

Friday, September 5, 2014

Devil's Deal is Available for Pre-Order

Thanks to the newest Amazon upgrade, my novel "Devil's Deal" is available for pre-order.

Cover by Matt Norris

"Attorney Juliana Martin is on the run after a battalion of cops armed with warrants swarm the family firm. When the law catches up with her, they offer a devil’s deal. She can partner with the FBI to set up a client or she can watch her father go down for a capital murder he didn’t commit."

Winner of the 2013 Killer Nashville Claymore Award for best unpublished novel. 

My thanks to everyone who made this a reality. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School Quiz: What Kind of Military Aircraft Parent Are You?

Listening to friends talk about back to school and the cadres of camera-wielding pajama-clad moms at bus stops everywhere reminded me of a blog post I wrote a while back for "An Army of Ermas," a slice-of-life humor blog.


Moms delivering kids to their first day of school.

What Kind of Military Aircraft Parent Are You?

As a public defender, I represent juvenile offenders and I deal with a lot of moms and dads.  Because of this, I was amused by a Newsweek article titled “Helicopter Parents.”  A university admissions officer coined the term to describe parents (usually moms) who hovered over every detail of their children’s lives, often to their detriment.  Also, no one will admit to being a helicopter.  They are just concerned and involved; it’s the other parents that are crazy.

Well, me (being me) got to thinking.  The label “helicopter” covers a lot of territory.  Military?  Civilian?  Transport? Attack?  Why just helicopters? What about surveillance craft and bombers?  When it comes to parents, I’ve seen it all, for better or worse.

So, I’ve developed this quiz.  If you are interested in finding out what military aircraft best describes your parenting style, stop wrapping the playground equipment in bubble wrap and give it a try. 

#1:    Your child is charged with a serious crime and must go to court to appear before the judge.  Do you:

A)    Immediately enroll in law school because no one knows your child like you do and no attorney can adequately represent your child.
B)    Immediately circulate a petition demanding the prosecutor be recalled.  Demand  an investigation of the police.  Obviously, your child is the target of a conspiracy.
C)    Go to every court appearance.  Make your child answer his attorney’s questions.  Tell your child that you love him, but he is responsible for his own behavior.
D)    Tell the judge to lock him up.  Jail will probably do the little punk some good.

#2:    You come home early and find your sixteen-year old son and his girlfriend on the basement sofa.  They are firmly on second base and heading for third.  Do you:

A)    Call the girl’s parents and tell them to come and get their trampy daughter.  Your son deserves better than that.  You know him.
B)    Storm in and loudly start lecturing.  Keep it up while the kids get dressed and continue it during the drive to the girl’s house.  Inform her parents what happened and suggest punishments they should impose. 
C)    Tell the kids to break it up and that your son has fifteen minutes to take her home.  Close the door so they can’t see you laughing.  Get out the ice cream and start figuring out what you’ll say to him when he gets home.
D)    Give your boy a thumbs-up and toss in a box of condoms.

#3:    Your child is running a fever, with an upset stomach, and headache.  Do you:

A)    Swing into action.  You have a completely stocked medicine cabinet.  You set up an oxygen tent and prepare an enema, just in case.  No need for doctors.  No one knows your child like you do.
B)    You immediately go to the Emergency Room where you demand the attending physician examine him.  You write a complaint letter to the AMA when the doctor prescribes rest, Tylenol, and chicken soup.
C)    You call school and tell them your child will be absent.  You fix Jell-O and watch cartoons until your child takes a nap. It is persists for more than two days, you make an appointment with the doctor.
D)    You tell your child to go out and play because the fresh air will make him feel better.

#4    Your child plays sports and makes a mistake that costs the team the game.  He is very disappointed.  Do you:

A)    Immediately take your child off the team.  Failure is bad for your child and may stunt his development.  No one knows your child like you do.
B)    Immediately jump in and argue with the coach and the referee.  Arrange coaching sessions and see that he practices every day, seven days a week.  Join the team as an assistant coach so you can monitor his progress.
C)    On the way to the ice cream parlor, tell your child about the time you gave a speech in front of the whole school with your pants unzipped.
D)    When you hear about it from one of the parents who was at the game, tell your child to suck it up and stop whining.  It’s only a game.

The results!  Let’s see what your answers say about your parenting style.

1.    If you answered mostly “A,” you are a CH-47 Chinook.  The largest cargo helicopter in the arsenal of freedom, your overwhelming presence blocks out the sun and your rotor wash flattens everything, including your troops.  You know what your troops need and that they are helpless without you.

2.    If you answered mostly “B,” you are an AH-64D Apache attack chopper.  Armed to the teeth and impervious to damage, you swoop in to rain fiery death on all that oppose you.  You love a hot LZ and live for the fight, abiding by the motto, “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”  Your troops respect of you is tinged with a healthy dose of fear.

3.    If you answered mostly “C,” you are a B-2 Spirit bomber.  The epitome of design and smart technology.  Stealthy, you are always just above the horizon and rarely seen or detected.  Your troops act in confidence, knowing they can take chances.  If things get tight, one squawk and you are there to clear the way for them, scorching the earth if necessary.

4.    If you answered mostly “D,” you are a KC-135 Stratotanker.  Old style, old school, virtually unchanged since the 1950s.  You see your job as launching your troops, fully fueled into the world.  After that, you have other plans.  Your troops know they need to be self-reliant because if they come in on bingo fuel, you may or may not be there to back them up.

So, how did you score?  I’ve seen all four types of parents.  Heck, I was raised by one of these types of parents.  Reading the articles I was struck by one thought.  Bubble wrap can cushion.  It can also suffocate.   Just like I tell the judge, give this kid a chance and he’ll surprise you with what he can do!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Writer Fuel: Happy Mug is Happy

A superb Labor Day of hitting the thrift shops with a good friend finishes out my trip to the Killer Nashville writers conference and visit to my bestie in Tennessee.

It is only fitting that happy mug is happy . . .

This isn't all that vintage, probably 1990s. Still, I have been hunting these for a while at an affordable price. I found the light blue and the darn green smiley mugs for 69 cents each and 30% off, so happy writer is also definitely happy. Now, to get these edits finished.