Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.
—Anne Lamott

The ability of writers to...familiarize the strange and mystify the familiar, is the test of their power.
—Toni Morrison

Create your own visual style... let it be unique to yourself and identifiable to others.
—Orson Welles

Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.
—Virginia Woolf

As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come.
—Ernest Hemingway

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can write anything good.
—William Faulkner

Just set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work. That’s the way it comes out. And that’s the only way it does.
—John Steinbeck

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Stand Up

I have been on a strict fitness program. I have actually already lost over 100 pounds and still dropping.

The more fit I become the clearer I think and the better, easier, faster my writing is.

I got to weigh 296lbs mostly because of my sedentary life working on the computer all day at work and then all evening at home.

Everyone at work stared getting stand up desks and I jumped on that bandwagon with a stand-up portable desk at home!

It allows me to work standing while watching TV, outside, in my office, anywhere really.

I got it on Amazon and it was only $46 delivered!

--My legs are already sore!

Sign up maybe win a Million$!

I am have an Email Notification list that I will use to keep you informed of new releases, book signings or other events. I promise not to spam the hell out of you!

Plus you will have a chance to will $1,000,000 twice a week! Seriously!

*indicates required

--Fun stuff!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Reading: Departure

This week I read: Departure by A.G. Riddle.

Here is the description from Amazon:

En route to London from New York, Flight 305 suddenly loses power and crash-lands in the English countryside, plunging a group of strangers into a mysterious adventure that will have repercussions for all of humankind.

Struggling to stay alive, the survivors soon realize that the world they’ve crashed in is very different from the one they left. But where are they? Why are they here? And how will they get back home?

Five passengers seem to hold clues about what’s really going on: writer Harper Lane, venture capitalist Nick Stone, German genetic researcher Sabrina Schröder, computer scientist Yul Tan, and Grayson Shaw, the son of a billionaire philanthropist.

As more facts about the crash emerge, it becomes clear that some in this group know more than they’re letting on—answers that will lead Harper and Nick to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy involving their own lives. As they begin to piece together the truth, they discover they have the power to change the future and the past—to save our world . . . or end it.

--Good stuff. Fast easy read that kind of reminded me of LOST!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Spanish Edition

The Spanish language edition of Virtues of the Vicious is now available on Amazon!

Virtudes de los Feroces

Elizabeth Cruze llegó a la Tierra con un sólo propósito: comprar armas. Nunca pensó que terminaría en prisión. Pero no teman, no planea quedarse allí por mucho tiempo.

El Investigador Especial Neal Locke ha forjado su carrera capturando a los criminales más evasivos y peligrosos. Nunca ha fallado en “capturar al hombre”.

Cuando Cruze se escapa de la prisión, Locke se encarga de encontrarla. Debería ser fácil hallarla… sólo necesita seguir el rastro de cuerpos.

Pero Locke ha sido investigador por mucho tiempo. Y en poco tiempo notará que está sucediendo más de lo que le han dicho...

Video: Advice from Stephen King

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Bryan Nowak (a.k.a. Bryan the Writer)

Bryan Nowak

Tell me about yourself, Bryan.

Born at a young age, I was destined for greatness when I learned how to be a shrewd business-baby. Pretty soon I had my own crib-based empire.

Mostly kidding or course. I was born in the south Chicago suburb of Steger, IL. A poor urban suburb, my mom worked as a nurse in a local hospital. I moved to Minnesota at the ripe old age of fourteen with my parents. It was in Minnesota where I met my wife, finished my bachelor’s degree in Geography, and my first child was born.

I also joined the US Army Reserves (34th Infantry Division, Go Red Bulls!) in Minnesota, and over a seventeen year career I spent almost four years on active duty doing a variety of interesting things.

My wife, kids and I spent three years living in Berlin, Germany where we traveled to over fourteen different countries in Europe. My personal favorite city is Venice. I could spend weeks in Venice doing nothing and it would never be enough time. A close second is the city of Prague. With its amazing food and beautiful architecture, Prague is a must see.

I have been writing seriously for the last three years and loving every minute of it. I started during a meeting where I got bored and started jotting down story ideas and just never stopped.

Tell me about your current Book: 

My latest novel is called, Riapoke. Riapoke is an Algonquin word meaning either the devil, or evil, depending on the translation and regional dialect you use for that translation. The book is set on fictitious Lake Oleander which has on its west side, an upscale resort and on its east side, the town of Riapoke which is known for being less than friendly to strangers.

A lucky series of events leave an opening at the resort for a single mother and her son who want to spend time together before he heads off to college. A series of unfortunate problems lead to their having to swim for their lives. Making the shore of the lake, they come up the boat ramp to find themselves in a mess of trouble in a town which really doesn’t like strangers.

When a mother and her son become stranded in a town that has institutionalized serial killing, Meghan must find a way to stop an ancient prophecy, or become the latest victims.

Meghan and Kyle head off to spend some quality mother-son time at a resort along the idyllic Lake Oleander. The picturesque and secluded escape promises a nearly perfect summer vacation. The seemingly placid lake also holds a dark secret; the bodies of those sacrificed to the local deity.
Their arrival sets the gears of an ancient prophecy in motion. They find themselves suddenly set against unimaginable forces, ancient and evil, hoping to either forestall or accelerate the prophecy’s fruition.

Deep beneath the bedrock of the town of Riapoke, an evil lay festering for hundreds of years. It waits patiently for the inevitable day it will taste freedom and claim its rightful heritage.

What are you working on now?

For about two years, I have had a manuscript I have been working on which was never quite right. It needed a complete reworking and I am approaching the point where I am happy with it. I am thrilled to introduce Crimson Tassels to my readers sometime this year. I’d like to get it out before Christmas, but I won’t rush to get it out. I’d rather have it right than on time.

I also have several story lines I am working on I am constantly getting questions about when I am going to write the second book in The Dramatic Dead series. The book is mostly outlined and I am planning to start it soon.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

Home! Honestly, I hate being away from home if I don’t have to be. I like having my stuff around me, access to my tea, my extensive Xbox game collection, and the places I know and love. I take vacations when I have to, but mostly avoid it if I can.

As far as location in the house, I have a corner I took over as my writing nook. When one of my kids finally flies the nest, I intend to outfit a bedroom as a writing alcove. I have dreams of soundproof walls with every wall covered in bookshelves!

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Get involved! You cannot possibly be a writer in these modern times if you don’t participate with other authors. You have to get out there and beta read, give lectures on what you know, read to audiences, offer advice, take advice, and generally get to know the authors around you. You may not think you have anything to offer, or know enough, but here is the big secret. No one truly does. And the old saying is absolutely true, a rising tide raises all boats. Collectively we can make life a better place for all of us, but we have to work together. Get in there and get involved.

What is your favorite Website?

Oh gosh, that would have to be Honestly, I want to write full time and doing it from the deck of my own 30’ long cruiser sounds wonderful. And yes, I know the old joke about the best days of a boat owners life, so spare me. I’ve loved the water since I was a kid and I’m working toward having my own little piece of solitude. Who knows, maybe I will name the boat “Riapoke”.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Quotes of the Week

After the game, the King and the Pawn go in the same box.
--Italian Proverb

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can write anything good.
—William Faulkner

Just set one day’s work in front of the last day’s work. That’s the way it comes out. And that’s the only way it does.
—John Steinbeck

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
—Ernest Hemingway

I want to be read. I want to be valued. That is perhaps the only shot at immortality a human being can have.
—Anne Rice

Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone's disbelief.
—August Wilson

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tuesday Tips: The First draft

The first draft of everything is shit. 
-Ernest Hemingway

This tip will be harder to execute than you will believe. It sounds simple.

Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft. I say it all the time. Hammer through without looking back. Focus. Don't revise.

Read these quotes now and then to remind you:

Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly.
– Joshua Wolf Shenk

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
— George Orwell

Monday, September 11, 2017

Reading: AL:ICE

This week I ready AL:ICE by Charles Lamb.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Captain Jacob Thomas, USMC, is a divorced combat veteran just trying to get his life back on track. Returning to the marine corps after a failed attempt at reconciliation with his estranged wife, Jake volunteers for a DARPA experiment that catapults him into a future where humanity has been stripped of 200 years of technological advancements and more than half its population. With the help of a faceless benefactor named Alice, he escapes the confines of an abandoned lab facility and starts a journey to put Earth back on a path to recovery. Jake's path begins in the rich farmlands of central California and eventually places him in orbit and face to face with the very evil that started it all.

--This is book one of a series!

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Melonie Purcell.

Melonie Purcell

Tell me about yourself?

I recently crossed what I call the Cheaters, Bleaters and Seaters barriers. In other words, I now require reading glasses, I snore like a congested goat and I opt for sitting over standing when given the option. That said, I love to hike and backpack. I recently did an in and out hike along the Highline Trail in Glacier NP, USA. I won’t lie. I did consider the tactical challenge of getting a S&R helicopter up there while I was crawling up the Garden Wall leg to the Continental Divide, but I made it. Not sure what it says about me that the highlight of the hike was being chased by a mountain goat, though.

I live in world famous Las Vegas, NV. I will tell you now, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. It goes on Youtube and will haunt you ‘till your death. So, if you are coming here, we don’t judge you, but clothing optional on the Strip really isn’t a thing.

I have three dogs, one of whom I’m certain was spawned by Satan, and a cat who is an asshole and only answers to ‘Your Majesty’. I love them all, though.

Tell me about your current Book:

When Krea discovers she is a shapeshifter, she must survive evil faeries, hostile elves and a magical forest as she stuggles to reach the capital, or else she will lose her human form forever and the Empire will lose their freedom.

Steal the bag. Don’t get caught. Repeat. Not the most glorious existence, but Krea likes it just fine.

When Sorin, a cranky old soldier, barges in and decides to take over her life, Krea is less than enthused. Sure, he saved her from a brutal death at the hands of the guards, and he did stop decrepit faerie monsters from eating her. But declaring she isn’t human and dragging her through a cursed forest to the Royal City is going too far.

Now, she is eyeball deep in magic wielding nobles, shapeshifting dragons, assassins and an ancient elf war that could destroy the Empire. Her cloak is too small. Her horse thinks she wants to eat it and her companion resents her very existence.

And then there’s Dane.

What are you working on now?

Don’t tell, but I’m halfway finished with Dagger of Drani, book two in my World of Drani series. I know I’m supposed to be writing Feather and Bone, book two in the World of Kyrni series, but Nevvis and Taymar won’t shut up and leave me alone, so I have to finish their story first. They are the eldest after all.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write? 

My office. Boring, I know. But I just can’t write as well anywhere else. I have two monitors and pictures of my maps and characters all around me, so it works.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Write it. Look it over once, only once, and then leave it alone until you are finished with the whole book.

Also, keep a bible and add to it continuously. If your character farts on some dude named Rectarius while using the loo, add that name and page number to your bible, because I promise you, Rectarius will later have possession of the spell that unlocks the gates of Toridor and you will spend four days trying to figure out how he spells his name and what color shoes he was wearing.

What is your favorite Website?

I’m not sure if it’s my favorite, but I am fascinated by It somehow houses a time vortex and it always ends in cats. You can go to Youtube looking for a video on how to fix your dishwasher and six hour and forty-six videos later, you are trying to figure out how that cat managed run up that wall. I’m mostly sure somethin’ shady is happenin’ there.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Quotes of the Week

I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the waste-basket.
—Ernest Hemingway

Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it.
—William Faulkner

I have known writers who paid no damned attention whatever to the rules of grammar…and somehow made the language behave for them
—Red Smith

One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form into the proper pattern at the right moment
—Hart Crane

I was kind of excited about going to jail for the first time and I learnt some great dialogue.
—Quentin Tarantino

Monday, September 4, 2017

Reading: Stoneheart

This week I read Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher.

Here is the description from Amazon:

A city has many lives and layers. London has more than most. Not all the layers are underground, and not all the lives belong to the living. A 12-year-old boy named George Chapman is about to find this out the hard way. On a school trip he's punished for something he didn't do. In a tiny act of rebellion, he lashes out at a small carving on the wall - unexpectedly breaking it off. And then something horrible does happen: a stone pterodactyl unpeels form the wall and starts chasing him. George is already running before his mind starts trying to tell him that this is impossible!

This is a young adult novel that I got from Audible specifically because is was narrated by Jim Dale! He narrated the Harry Potter series!

--Great stuff. Recommended.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Torin Crow Ingham/Tracy Ingham

Tell me about yourselfs?

Torin: 20 year old college graduate with a degree in mechanical sciences. Torin lives in a small town in central Iowa. He has a second degree black belt in Taekwondo and multiple belts in other martial arts disciplines. He works nights and spends his days writing and playing the occasional game online. He's working toward returning to school to be a CNC/Welding/Technical instructor. He is the driving force behind bringing Placer into the light of day.

Tracy: Has been an artist of one kind or another his whole life. He put the paint brushes down in 2010 when the canvas became too small to tell the stories he wanted to tell. He has loved writing since he was young and decided that's where he will devote his creative energies.

If we were to sit down and tell the stories of our lives. Placer's world would seem far more believable. Torin survived a skull crushing high school football injury that doctors repeatedly said he shouldn't have lived through. It left him almost deaf in one ear and erased much of his memory of his early years, leaving his parents to fill in the gaps of his childhood. There are haunted houses and ghost stories, surviving cancer, being a martial arts champion and a 13 year old getting his nose broke while training with a seven time Russian Sambo champion.

At 11, Torin and his father also built their own home, from the ground up. With a small amount of help from a few family members (adding that so we don't get nasty e-mails). Boring is a word that has rarely been used to describe either Torin or his father.

Tell me about your current Book: 

Placer is the leader of a mercenary band that is looking for the woman he loves. He takes his crew and the ships that follow him across the known universe on his search for Rain. Placer is not most peoples idea of a hero. He's always truthful but never honest. His reputation is for brutality but his compassion is never far from the surface. He's a narcissist who appreciates his alcohol. He acts without remorse or apology if the ends justify the means.

Having said all that. Placer is wonderful to create stories about. He has a very strong social and moral belief. He's moral obligations only extend as far as his interests. He struggles with the same things people struggle with every day. He just deals with his problems the way we would all love to deal with things. Blow it up or kill it. There's not a lot of negotiating in Placer's world.

When Placer discovers a possible treatment for Rain, the Osterium Republic's Commandant Tige must surrender a closely guarded secret or face the wrath of Placer and the ship he commands, the Dragon; a vessel most civilizations hope never enters their solar systems.

We've had good buzz with the book. We've been told by some of our beta readers that it has an "epic saga" feel to it. One person said he put down Tom Clancy to finish Placer and was glad he did. Right now there are four books planned for the series. If all goes well, there will be other characters from the Placer universe who get their stories told too.

Why should someone buy it? Because the books are always better than the movies.

What are you working on now?

We're finishing up book #2, Placer - Third Insight. The Osterium Republic has brought the war to Placer's doorstep, his home planet.
With acts of terrorism they try to jeopardize Placer's leadership and turn the people against him. The one thing the Osterium didn't count on is how loyal the population is. There is no corruption. No crime. No poverty. Everyone is healthy, employed and educated. There's no reason to change utopia but that doesn't stop the Osterium from trying. The only question is, what kind of response will Placer have and how brutal will the outcome be? While he's dealing with all of that, he has personal matters to deal with.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

We both like the quiet, doesn't matter where.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Sitting behind a computer screen is hard but opening the first copy of what you wrote is harder. It never reads the same, no matter how many edits you've done and rewrites you've survived. Those white pages and black letters are a different world all together. Meanings to things change and useless words jump off the pages like they're alive. We sit back and keep thinking, "that sentence should have been written like this, not that".

Twenty years from now my son and I may not be half bad at this.

What is your favorite Website?

Torin: Anything dealing with military history.
Tracy: Netflix, when I'm not online doing research for the science side of the stories.



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold.
—Zelda Fitzgerald

There’s many a bestseller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.
—Flannery O’Connor

A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.
—E.B. White

It doesn't have to be the truth, just your vision of it, written down.
—Virginia Woolf

No one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.
—Charles de Lint

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday Tips: What do I Write

Some people think they can analyze the market and then author a book in the popular genre of the day.

I believe those people are wrong. Don't do that. Don't write a 50 Shades book because that thing is making bank. Please. Don't.

I recommend that you write the kind of novel that you love to read. I write Science Fiction and Fantasy. I read 100 of those stories a year.

Writing the kind of stories I like to read allows me to be original and lets my delight shine through.

I recommend you write the book just for yourself. Make yourself laugh, cry, make yourself afraid or hopeful or fall in love. If you don't feel it, the audience won't either.

Writing the kind of stories you love will increase the odds that you actually finish it.

--Finish things...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Reading: The Black Witch

This week I read The Black Witch by Laurie Forest.

Here is the description from Amazon:

A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother's legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she's been taught to hate and fear.

Check out my Fast Friday Interview with the Author, Laurie Forest. 

--I really enjoyed this one! Great world building. Excellent character development. Plus the plot didn't go where I expected. Recommended!

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Laurie Forest

Laurie Forest

Tell me about yourself, Laurie?

I am Laurie Forest. Mother of dragons. Drinker of strong tea. Part dryad. Writing in the back woods of Vermont in front of a guttering woodstove.

Official photo (heavily photo-shopped - I told the photographer to "make me look spooky and give me a whole new head.")

Actual photo - The Black Witch cocktail pictured (this is a real thing, predating my book) - this is a more accurate representation of my vibe at the moment - and perhaps resembles me more closely than my heavily photo-shopped author photo.

Tell me about your current Book: The Black Witch

When powerless Elloren Gardner, granddaughter of her people's greatest battlemage, leaves her sheltered home in Gardneria, Elloren must find a way to navigate being thrown into an environment where most of the people are hostile towards the granddaughter of their greatest enemy - The Black Witch.

Wandfasted (e-book prequel to The Black Witch)

When all mayhem breaks loose from colliding dragon armies, Tessla Harrow must find a forbidden wand and use her unique magery, or she won't survive to meet the smoking hot Vale Gardner - who is like Mr. Darcy melded with Loki (you're welcome ;) )

The Black Witch:
All the most delicious things about all the fantasy books thrown into one, giant, dragon-filled extravaganza of awesomeness.

The hottest prequel on the entire earth. And there are battling dragon armies. And dragons set on fire pinwheeling down to crash onto scattering soldiers. And did I mention that it's the hottest thing ever written?

What are you working on now?

Book Three of The Black Witch Chronicles (oh it's fun - because it's dark with lots of action and monsters). Also, revising e-book side-novel number two of The Black Witch Chronicles (Sage Gaffney's story - the young woman who gives Elloren the White Wand and has an Icaral-demon baby in the beginning of The Black Witch).

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

Vermont. In my home in the back woods. In a lantern-lit room. During a thunder storm that blackens the skies, lightning flashing. Or during November in Vermont. On a deeply overcast day. The trees twisty and bare, the woods shadowed and vaguely sinister.

But better would be a Scottish castle by a turbulent ocean, cast in deeply moody, bleak weather. Haven't been able to secure that yet.

Best might be a lighthouse off the coast of Maine. On an island. No one there but me. Writing by candlelight in the dead of night. With a crow on my shoulder.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Four lessons (I cannot confine this answer to one lesson).

  1. "The muse can't resist a working writer." - Ray Bradbury
  2. "Don't wait for inspiration. Go after it with a club." - Jack London
  3. "Write to please yourself and shut out the rest of the world. Preferably in a Scottish castle. Then, when finished, share your work boldly." - Laurie Forest
  4. "Put a dragon in every book you write. No exceptions." - Laurie Forest (feel free to widely quote me on this) 

What is your favorite Website?

Any site with pretentious, overpriced black teas for sale that taste like chocolate cake or tiramisu. Which is basically my version of porn. (Along with Wandfasted, which is the hottest thing ever written).




  • THE BLACK WITCH (Book One, The Black Witch Chronicles - out now) 
  • WANDFASTED (E-Book Prequel, The Black Witch Chronicles - out now) 
  • THE IRON FLOWER (Book Two, The Black Witch Chronicles - available for pre-order) 


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Quotes of the Week

The writer's job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.
—Vladimir Nabokov

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
—P.J. O’Rourke

What I write is smarter than I am, because I can re-write it.
—Susan Sontag

Your naked body should only belong to those who fall in love with your naked soul.
—Charlie Chaplin

The worst crime you can commit is telling the audience something they already know.
—Aaron Sorkin

Don’t rush or force the ending… . All you have to know is the next scene, or the next few scenes.
—Chuck Palahniuk

If an adverb became a character in one of my books, I'd have it shot. Immediately.
—Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Tools to take with you

I am heading out on a cross country road trip with my son on Monday. Washington DC to San Francisco CA. This is a serious road trip. In fact it may be the basis of a future book titled:

The Last Road Trip

We are driving. I rented a nice car. My son is moving to CA and it will be a great final vacation before he goes off and becomes an adult with his own life. But I am also bringing my brother Carls ashes to scatter in the Pacific. In many ways this is the last road trip. We are also going to drive into the Full Solar Eclipse. Who knows. The Zombie Apocalypse could break out. Then I'd have a story to write!

As a writer on the road there are a few must have items along the way.

  • Laptop with 12volt charger
  • iPhone (comms, camera, music player, research tool, eReader)
    • Kindle books
    • Audible books (to listen while I am driving)
    • Inspiration Music on MP3
  • Paper Notepads
  • Several pens and pencils
  • Headphones
I'm intentionally leaving things off the list, like pants. To write I don't need pants or commas. The cops and editors kind of insist you have them.

What are your required writing tools when you travel?

--Wish us luck. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Reading: The Final Day

Last week I read The Final Day by William Forstchen.

This was the A John Matherson Novel. The Third in the series.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Since the detonation of nuclear weapons above the United States more than two years ago, the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina has suffered famine, civil war, and countless deaths. Now, after defeating a new, tyrannical federal government, John Matherson and his community intend to restore their world to what it was before the EMP apocalypse. For the most part, they are succeeding.

This period of relative stability doesn’t last long. A new, aggressive government announces that it’s taking over and ceding large portions of the country to China and Mexico. The Constitution is no longer in effect, and what’s left of the U.S. Army has been deployed to suppress rebellion in the remaining states. John fears he and his town will be targets.

General Bob Scales, John’s old commanding officer and closest friend from prewar days, is sent to bring John into line. Will John and his people accept the new, autocratic regime? Or will revolution rip the fledgling nation apart at the seams?

Months before publication, William R. Forstchen’s novel One Second After was cited on the floor of Congress as a book all Americans should read. This third book in the series immerses readers once more in the story of our nation’s struggle to rebuild itself after an electromagnetic pulse wipes out all electricity and plunges the country into darkness, starvation, and death.

--If you have not already, read One Second After.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Joe Clark.

Tell me about yourself, Joe.

From very early, I enjoyed writing and making up stories. As a young child I would take my gyroscope and my brownie camera out to our garden patch to develop stories about adventures on distant planets. I was also quite religious. When I graduated from high school in 1961, I had two options: a terrific opportunity to study physics on a work study program and a spot in a Jesuit Novitiate. I chose the novitiate.
Joe Clark

I spent two years in the novitiate. That is where I started writing sermons. I was writing my first sermon when John Glenn orbited the earth. We didn’t have TV in the novitiate but an exception was made for Glenn’s flight. Coverage was primitive at that time so we were stuck watching Walter Cronkite and his team kill time. At one point, the cameras moved outside. It was a dark, drizzly day and a woman in a trench coat was walking in the distance. I couldn’t resist a wolf whistle. I was promptly called in for a visit with the Master of Novices who told me how disappointed he was in my worldly behavior.

In our second year we were assigned to missions. I was on the prison mission. We visited the prisoners at the Berks County Prison every Saturday afternoon and then went back for mass on Sunday morning. At Christmas we threw a little party that generally included a movie. I suggested that we put together a little play. The Novice in Charge tasked me to write the play. I wrote it and I directed my fellow novices. The prisoners responded very well. The whole thing ended with a rousing rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

At the time, the play was an enormous undertaking. I recently found a copy.  It was three pages long.
I was sent home at the end of the second year. I went back to college in the fall. But things had changed. When I first applied, our local college was Norfolk William and Mary and the school of engineering was run by Virginia Tech. By the time I got home from the novitiate, the school was Old Dominion College. But the Dean of Engineering remembered me from my earlier application. He graciously accepted me back into the fold without the usual qualifying tests.

I had just started my senior year in September 1966 when I received my draft notice. A “friend” convinced me that I could avoid going to Vietnam if I volunteered instead of going in as a conscript. That didn’t work out very well. I did spend six months in Engineering OCS at Fort Belvoir. I was dropped on the last cut in week 21. I managed to get a position as Chaplain’s Assistant while I was waiting for my orders to Vietnam. In early December 1967, a group of young GIs flew from Fort Dix to Bien Hoa via Juneau, Alaska. The temperature in Alaska was hovering around zero. The temperature in Saigon was hovering around 100. We landed in the middle of the night, piled onto a bus and road to a tent city. There were no lights in the tents so we had to feel our way around and find an empty bunk.

The next day, we were shipped up to Dong Ba Thin, a small camp just west of the main post at Cam Ranh. I should mention here that my “specialty” was mines and explosives because of the time I had spent in OCS. When we got to Dong Ba Thin, the personnel staff informed us that they were going to tear up our orders because the idiots back home had sent the wrong specialties. I said, “I would like to be a Chaplain’s Assistant.”

Miraculously, the Chaplain was not on speaking terms with his assistant. He was happy to have me. He was almost as happy about getting me as I was about getting the change in my MOS. At the end of my one year tour, I extended for 6 months rather than return stateside for my last 10 months. The deciding benefit was that I got to fly around the world, spend a week in Israel and a couple of days in Bangkok. I was transferred from Dong Ba Thin to Pleiku for the last six months.

I returned to school in September 1969. Old Dominion College had become Old Dominion University while I was away. The advisor I was assigned to went all out to get me through my last year in one year. The French I studied in the Novitiate counted for one elective. The correspondence courses that I took in Accounting while I was in Vietnam counted for two more electives. But I still had to take one course in the summer semester. I don’t remember the name of the course but I did lot of research on cities and I looked into simulating traffic patterns.

I had to take three courses in order to qualify for GI bill benefits. The extra courses were two of the best courses of my college career: Industrial Psychology and Business Management 101. The real business majors disliked me because my quirky solutions to the problems generally turned out to be right.

When I set out to get my first real job, I focused on power companies because I had worked for the local power company in the summers before I was drafted. The power companies weren’t interested in me. I signed up for an interview with AT&T just for the heck of it. In those days, AT&T would assign you to Bell Labs, Western Electric or the local telco depending on your grades. My grades qualified me for a sit down with the recruiter from the local telco. The guy looked through my folder. When he came across a letter of recommendation from Captain Tom Lacey, the last chaplain I had worked for in Vietnam (Pleiku, he said something like, “Boy he’s a great guy. I was just down at Fort Jackson for my two weeks reserve training and he was the chaplain. I don’t have anything for you but the guy from Western Electric has openings all over the country. I’ll take you up there so you can talk to him.”
And that is how I got my first real job. The next 40 years were interesting. I was laid off a couple of times. One start up that I was working for folded and I worked as an independent contractor for a few years. I went from systems engineer to software developer and back to system engineer. I was usually working verification – making sure whatever I was working on did what it was supposed to do. I worked on communications systems – mostly satellite communications.

Most of my engineering career was driven by luck. The letter of recommendation from Captain Lacey got me in the door at Western Electric. I was selected for an experimental training program at Virginia Tech. I had just transferred to the ABM project in 1972 when it was killed by the SALT treaty. I was laid off but I was given a Graduate Assistantship at Virginia Tech (VPI) because of my participation in the experimental training program.

I left VPI without a degree to go to work as a test engineer for Sylvania on a Minuteman Missile System contract. The test site was in Waltham, Massachusetts a few miles west of Boston. When that contract ended, a friend helped me get a slot as a software developer. That led to a job with Sperry Univac on a NASA (Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland) contract because I had managed to gain some experience in real-time assembly language programming on DEC computers.

I had a good run until 1992. At that time, I was getting a lot of heat from my supervisors. Their supervisor decided to jump ship and go to work on a start-up, Sky Radio. He brought me along. The company folded at the end of 1994. One of the guys I worked with had a friend with a six month contract on Motorola’s Iridium project in Chandler Arizona. The friend wanted out and I was able to jump in and take his place.

After the Motorola work petered out, I got a contract with Stanford Telecom which led to a permanent job in 1999. A short time later our group was absorbed into ITT. I stayed with the group until I retired in 2011.

In the 80’s I was trying to do some serious writing. I submitted one short story which was rejected with a savage critique. I submitted some poems. They were rejected as well. One interesting thing about those poems is that they draw a good response whenever I read them to a group.

My wife died in January 1985. I married Anita in July 1986. In between my life was quite hectic. I earned a masters in computer science from Johns Hopkins about that time. I graduated in May 1994.  Seven months later the company that I was working for, Sky Radio, folded and I was basically out of work for the next 4 years. I survived on a few contracts until I was hired by Stanford Telecom in July 1999. ITT bought out the government business from Stanford Telecom shortly after I joined the company.

A bike accident in 2010 destroyed my right hip. I decided to call it quits during a working vacation of the Christmas holidays. I announced my retirement at the beginning of 2011 but I didn’t actually retire until August. I had my right hip replaced in June of 2012. Anita and I went to Scotland and Ireland on a three week vacation in October. One goal of that trip was to connect with my father’s ancestors. I had dug up some information on Ancestry before the trip. I was able to locate places where they had lived but nothing is left of their lives. They left County Antrim in Northern Ireland around the time of the Potato Famine of 1848. It is possible that they moved to the Glasgow area of Scotland as a result of the labor crisis that followed the famine. They took up coal mining and lived in an Irish slum when they first arrived. That slum has been replaced by more respectable housing. The trip was mostly successful and enjoyable.

The pain from the arthritis in my left hip was so bad that I arranged to have that hip replaced in December of 2012.

By 2015 I was getting bored. The cure was Meetup. I joined a few writers’ groups. Natasha who was running a group called Write to Live asked for a couple of chapters of my work. I didn’t have anything current and I had never written a couple of chapters of anything. So I used a rant that I had written about nuclear waste to produce 10 thousand words of what would eventually become my first novel.

Tell me about your current Book:

“The Walshes – The Coming of Eve” should be coming out August 1st. April Walsh is a suburban homemaker – mother, wife, part-time breadwinner and aspiring writer. Her husband Joe is an out-of-work software engineer. It is 2008 and the bottom is falling out of the US economy. April is asked to write a six part series about the sex industry in the DC metro area. Her agent promises to get her a book deal. The Walshes could use the money but for April this is the opportunity of a lifetime. She can’t say no even though she is put off by the topic.

She turns to her brother, a public defender, to bring her up to speed on legal issues and introduce her to some of his prostitute clients. She quickly gets an inkling of trouble down the road. The editor wants an undercover investigation in the manner of Nellie Bly. Her brother introduces her to one prostitute, Bridget Allen. Bridget insists that April has to walk a couple of miles in her shoes or no story.

April agrees to participate in an amateur night topless dancing contest. Then another. She meets Jeff and quickly finds herself sexually involved with him. After she is fired from her part-time office job, Bridget helps her get a job as a waitress at the Tahiti, the men’s club where Bridget works. Then Bridget pressures April to work as an escort. When April says she couldn’t do that to Joe, Bridget points to the affair with Jeff. She adds that Joe would do it if he got the opportunity. It turns out Joe is already having an affair with an old girlfriend, April gives in and begins working as an escort under her stage name, Eve Sinful.

Eve is a glamorous dancer and escort who won’t back down from a fight. Her wit and charm make her highly desired at the Tahiti.  April enjoys feeling sexy and wanted. She even makes some new friends: a former call girl, a wise cab driver, and a hard-nosed cop.

As April ends up more fully embracing her Eve persona, she finds more and more to like about the new life she is living. Will she be able to find her way out, or is April destined to sacrifice herself and her family for the sake of a story?

April believes in the work she’s doing, but her family isn’t so understanding. As the relationship between April and her husband begins to break under the pressure of her undercover assignment, April must decide what is worth fighting for. Will the good wife or the firebrand emerge victorious?

What are you working on now?

I have a new short story for my blog, “Malone V O’Reilly” about the difficulties of dating in the modern era. I am developing essays for my blog “Clark’s Scribbles”. But I am trying to avoid being caught in the Trump Vortex.
I have started working on a new novel, “Return of the Rapist.”  The action takes place in 2009, 16 years after a brutal gang rape. The lives of the four participants – the three men and their victim – have arrived at a new nexus. The woman has gotten her life straightened out. She has a good job and has recently married. Two of the rapists work for the same company as she does. One of them happens to run into her at a Christmas party and begins subtly harassing her. The third man has just completed a 15 year sentence for the rape and he harbors very bad feelings towards the other participants in the rape as well as the people who put him in jail. When the woman’s husband is beaten so badly that he has to be hospitalized, the incident lands on the desk of Sgt. Jack Edwards, Eve’s cop-boyfriend. The two of them must figure out who dunnit before somebody gets killed.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

Our dining room table seems to be the most common place for my writing activities. I wrote my first novel in my office at my desktop computer. That is still a good place to write. But I switched to my laptop for “The Walshes” and I took over the dining room table. Right now, I am working at a table on my screened in porch. I am beginning to like this spot but it has weather problems.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Writing is fun. Writing a novel is very much like reading a novel. I get to discover a new story with new characters as I write it out. One important trick is embracing James Patterson’s caveat: “I don’t write reality.”

Writing a novel is a little like directing a play. The author must direct the actions of the characters to show what is going on.

Writing a novel is also like solving a jigsaw puzzle. The author has to take a boxful of interesting pieces and fit them together to form a composite picture.

What is your favorite Website?

I am not supposed to pick Facebook but I spend a lot of time there because it’s a good place to connect with friends and family. I recently discovered Twitter and I love it. There is so much good material on that site. It’s all short and to the point with great graphics.

I used to be a big fan of “Crazy Guy on a bike.” Some very fascinating stories are posted there. People get on there to post a diary of their trips around the world, across the country or to some weekend getaway. I once followed a newlywed couple on a two year honeymoon tour of Europe and the Middle East.

Wikipedia is a go-to site. I do as much as half of my research on-line and Wikipedia is reliably informative and straightforward.


Blog:   Clark’s Scribbles (
Facebook: Joe Clark

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Quotes of the Week

 Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.
—Jessamyn West

But with writers, there's nothing wrong with melancholy. It's an important color in writing.
—Paul McCartney

I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.
—James Michener

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
—Stephen King

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
—Leonard Cohen

No true artist will tolerate for one minute the world as it is.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Don't say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.
—Mark Twain

A character is defined by the kinds of challenges he cannot walk away from.
—Arthur Miller

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Don't Sweat It

I just got back from a glorious two week camping trip where I spent my time in a hammock.

  • I read books made out of dead trees.
  • I filled 36 pages in my notebook with details to be included in my next novel.
  • I took naps. Morning and afternoon.
  • I ate a lot of bacon and grilled meats.
  • I drank a lot of coffee.
  • I brainstormed plot point with friends.
  • I laughed a lot.
  • I enjoyed campfires every night.
  • I even lost 3.6 pounds.

What I didn't do was write a blog post for today's tip. So here is the tip: Don't sweat stuff. As long as blogging is still fun I will continue to do it. The same with writing novels. I will keep doing it as long as I am enjoying it.

--Readers can tell if you enjoyed writing it... 

Monday, August 14, 2017

RIP: Duncan Long

Duncan Long
While I was on vacation I found out that Duncan Long had passed away. Duncan was an artist that provided the cover art for some of my novels, Including my first novel, Still Falling. Most recently he created the image of Elizabeth Cruze that is in the cover of Virtues of the Vicious.

When it was released I send him an email to let him know so he could add it to his portfolio. I received no reply. While on vacation I was working on my next novel and sent him another email and also checked his Facebook page. That's when I found out.

This is the last post I remember seeing:

"It is odd how we all know good health is not guaranteed in life, and bad health eventually will come our way -- and then are surprised or even angry when health issues appear. Sometimes not only hope but also stupidity spring eternal in the human condition."

It's odd. The Facebook memorial pages. Fresh on the death of my brother. I know too many people that have passed away and they are still on my friends list...

Duncan's obit is here. He was only 67.

Thanks for the support and encouragement you gave to a new Indie Author. You will be missed.


Saturday, August 12, 2017


What can I say? This video inspired a kick ass character in my next Scifi novel. That dress, the way she moves...  Thanks, Ellie.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Brhi Stokes

Brhi Stokes

Tell me about yourself, Brhi.

I'm an author who was born in Australia but would much rather be from some other dimension. I've been writing since was able to and tormenting my friends with PCs and NPCs in tabletop games (DnD, Pathfinder, World of Darkness, etc) over the last decade-or-so. Much like a cat, I like to sleep during the day and tear around the house or go on adventures at night but have found that this doesn't really operate well with having a job.

In my spare time, when I'm not writing, I'm reading, playing tabletop games, video games, going for solitary jogs or listening to music. Despite living in the desolate, deadly-animal-filled wasteland of Australia, I would say my general day-to-day is fairly mundane and contains much less spider dodging than my international friends seem to think.

Tell me about your current Book:

When he awakens from a car accident, a university dropout turned hitchhiker must discover where he is and how he got there, or else fall prey to the horrors that stalk the place.

Darkness closed in on him like a pack of hounds. Buildings passed, warehouses, factories; shadows of silent windows disturbed every so often by dim light, taunting him.

A city of the bizarre and the unfamiliar, inhabited by monstrous beasts and people with unnatural gifts. A city of tall glass spires mingling with old gothic architecture, where wild animals roam alongside the populace.

This is where Ripley Mason awakens after the car accident. University dropout, casual drinker, and newly fledged hitchhiker, Ripley is tired of the daily grind of study, drink, repeat. Only halfway done with a degree he never chose, Ripley heads north to see if life won't throw him something less monotonous.

Early into his journey, Ripley suffers a brutal car accident and awakens in a rundown hospital. Nervous, he ventures into dark, unfamiliar streets and comes face to face with horrific beasts. Thrown into a world of supernatural fantasy, Ripley fights to discover where he is, how he came to be here and, most importantly, if he can even get home.

Ripley was still staring at the wallet in his hands. The clinic Ð as he had found out the place was Ð had graciously returned it to him. The problem was, it wasn't his. There was no identification, no cards, nothing. Just some strange currency he didn't recogniseÉ

All he knows of this place is a single word: C A L I G A T I O N

What are you working on now?

I'm dabbling with a few ideas. One is a sort if spiritual successor to Caligation, the other is a YA fantasy I accidentally'd 30,000 words through late last year before putting it on hold to finalize Caligation.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

At home, I think. I feel most comfortable in my little bubble of safety.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

That you need to either spend time or money on something to perfect it. You can pay someone to do things like edit, cover design, etc. Or you can take the time to do them yourself and still get somewhere halfway decent.

What is your favorite Website?

Well the BBC website is my homepage, despite how incredibly boring that makes me sound. I just like the accents, I swear.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Writers should be read—but neither seen nor heard.
—Daphne Du Maurier

You learn by writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.
—Larry Niven

I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.
—Frank Capra

No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.
—Virginia Wool

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about.
—Natalie Goldberg

Dreaming in public is an important part of our job description.
—William Gibson

I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell an interesting story entertainingly
—Edgar Rice Burroughs

Talent is extremely common. What is rare is the willingness to endure the life of the writer.
—Kurt Vonnegut

Quotes of the Week

Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
—Billy Wilder

I sweat blood to make my style simple and stripped bare.
—Margaret Mitchell

The writer is by nature a dreamer - a conscious dreamer.
—Carson McCullers

Never use a long word where a short one will do.
—George Orwell

I have rewritten, often several times, every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.
—Vladimir Nabokov

A writer is a world trapped in a person.
—Victor Hugo

The third act must build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.
—Billy Wilder

You own everything that happened to you. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.
—Anne Lamott

Write for yourself and yourself alone. Don’t try to please anyone else, and don’t be afraid of anyone.
—Sallie Tisdale

Those who never make mistakes lose a great many chances to learn something.
—Mary Pickford