Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dog Island - A great place to get away from it all until it all comes looking for you.

For me, writing is an obsession.  My job requires occasional travel, so a lot of writing happens on airplanes, which incidentally is a great place to cultivate fans.  Unless the seat next to you is empty, your neighbor's eyes inevitably travel to your computer screen.  Then they get hooked.  When I mention I'm a writer, the first question they ask is "What are you working on," followed by, "what's it about?"

To answer both questions, my current project is honing DOG ISLAND, a mystery/thriller novel.

It starts on Dog Island, which is a real place off the Florida Panhandle town of Carabelle.  Dog Island's west end is developed with some pretty expensive vacation houses.  The east end is nearly deserted, with only three homes sharing a mile or more of unspoiled beach.

One of those homes is owned by Cornelius "Corney" Graham, the story's main character.  His wife, unable to adapt to Dog Island's isolated life style, leaves him.  Corney wanders to the beach where he sits alone, feeling sorry for himself.  Then the sound of a boat engine catches his attention.

The engine noise grows steadily louder, but Corney can't spot the boat in the darkness.  Without warning, the boat runs straight into the beach where Corney is sitting.  The pilot of the boat is dead.  Lisa Cataldo, the boat's lone passenger, is wounded.  Unable to call for help, Corney treats Lisa's wounds.

With Lisa tended to, Corney searches the boat.  Aboard is a cargo of cocaine and a large stash of cash.

What would you do in this situation?  Corney's choices, for good or ill, form the basis of DOG ISLAND. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tales out of School

I have a family of school teachers.  DW has the great good fortune to work one-on-one with a terrific autistic child.  DD#2 teaches second grade, and her husband is a reading resource teacher who works with ESE kids.

Every once in a while they come home with a story to tell.  Here is one.

DW heard this from a fourth grade teacher.  She was preparing her class for "Florida Writes", a program to encourage creative writing.  A lot of kids have a story within but don't have the confidence to express themselves.  So she came up with an idea to help them along.

The teacher bought a box of pencils.  Shiny, glimmering pencils.

"Class," she said, "I have an important announcement to make.  I was at the Learning Station, looking for some books, when these pencils caught my eye.  They were so sparkly and pretty, I couldn't resist picking one up.  Much to my surprise, I realized they weren't ordinary pencils.  No, they are special magic pencils."

The wide-eyed children listened intently as she continued, "The magic in them will help you get ready for the Florida Writes test.  But there's one thing you have to remember.  When you sharpen them, be sure not to use an electric sharpener.  There's something in the electricity that takes out the magic.  Oh, and one more thing.  We can't use them on the test itself, that just wouldn't be fair to the children who don't have magic pencils.  Are there any questions?"

A hand shot up in the back of the room.  "Yes, Jimmy?"

"Can we use them for math, too?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why I blog

My editor said "You have a book to flog, so you need to get out there and start a blog."
"But I don't have a clue about what to say." She said, "Better get started on it anyway."
 So I got into my vehicle and put it in gear, then launched myself way out into the blogoshpere.

And I'm bloggin', well whaddaya know, Yeah I'm bloggin', just like an old time pro.

Now it's movin along at a pretty good clip and it's startin to attract a little readership.
So I'm hopin to get a couple guests to post so my lazy butt won't have to do a thing but host.
And watch the lovely fans as they grow more and more, so they will want my book the day it hits the store!

And I'm bloggin', well whaddaya know, Yeah I'm bloggin', just like an old time pro.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


A little about me.  First, I'm not one who opens up a lot, so this is a growth experience for me. 

For starters, I am a veteran of the US Army - Vietnam Era.  Didn't spend any time in 'Nam, the Army saw fit to send me to Europe - the Netherlands to be specific.  In retrospect, that was one of the formative experiences of my life.

Married my high school sweetheart in 1972.  She's still my high school sweetheart, and still my wife.  We have two beautiful daughters.  The oldest is in PR, the youngest is married and teaches second grade in a nearby school along with her husband.

I have a terrific job, and work with wonderful people.  But this blog isn't about my job, it's about my passion for writing.

I've written two novels, as yet unpublished, and am working on a third (and a fourth and a fifth).  I also am one of the poetry editors for Conclave: A Journal of Character.  We published two editions, both available on Amazon, but am afraid there may not be a third.  Readership hasn't been what we've hoped.

My first novel took first place in the Florida Writers Association's Royal Palm Literary Award competition.  I submitted it to the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, and it was ranked 9th by readers but didn't make the finals.

So I spent some time honing my craft, and voraciously read other mystery writers, primarily Florida based.  Really enjoy Randy Wayne White, Carl Hiassen (of course), and Tim Dorsey.  And John D. MacDonald, author of the timeless Travis McGee series, remains an all time favorite.

Then I tackled my second novel, titled DOG ISLAND, which could well become (like JDM and RWW) a series.  The novel is being considered by Oak Tree Press.  Sunny Frazier has been very helpful in sharing her experience in the publishing business.

I'd love to hear from readers and writers, especially those interested in the mystery/suspense/thriller genres.