Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Book Got Canceled Today

Just got the news today that this book is canceled, so even though you can pre-order it on Amazon, it's not going to happen.

I don't know any of the details involved with the decision, only that all three of the novels initially ordered were canceled. So my novel will disappear...Without A Trace.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bones -- a TV series review

Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Central time

Last year I fell in love with this series. Sharp writing. Engaging characters. Good, solid mysteries with off-beat science and always a tug at emotion. If you want to know how good storytelling is done, check this series out. The first season is coming out on DVD in November. I've got my set pre-ordered. Looking forward to watching it again.

The series features Emily Deschanel as Temperance Brennan (if the name sounds familiar, that's the name of Kathy Reichs's main character in her bestselling novels). She's an ex-foster kid who struggles with understanding anything that isn't science and matter-of-fact.

David Boreanaz stars as Special Agent-In-Charge Seely Booth, an ex-special forces warrior turned FBI agent. He's got heart and can read people the way Brennan reads bones.

They're aided and abetted by Dr. Jack Hodgins (T. J. Thyme) who specializes in soil, bugs, and plants, Zach Addy (Eric Millegan) who is Brennan's graduate assistant, and Angela Montenegro (Michaela Conlin) who is an artist and can reconstruct a face from a skull.

The series is deftly written, always a mixture of emotion, science, humor, and relationships. I learn something with every episode, and I always feel emotionally drained and buoyed at the same time. Always get the good with the bad.

The team works out of the Washington Smithsonian and only deals with cases involving bones that can't be identified anywhere else. Although that seems to be a little more lax this season. Still, the fantastic layman's science (this year's Hodgins and Zach Mr. Wizard moment with an artificial skeleton made of sediment and covered in SPAM and burned in a high-intensity fire rivals last year's frozen pig shot through a woodchipper!) and the quick pacing moves the stories along.

If you haven't seen this series before, check it out. Booth and Bones (Brennan's nickname by way of Booth) are still looking for her father -- who may have killed her mother, and the romance between Hodgins and Angela is heating up. Even more exciting is the antagonistic relationship between Bones and her new boss, Dr. Camilla Saroyan -- who just happens to be one of Booth's ex-lovers.

This is TV worth staying up for!

New Project Up And Running

If you've ever wanted to peer over a writer's shoulder as he put a book together, I invite you to go to www.workingthemagic.blogspot.com. I'm working on an as-yet-unnamed juvenile novel there to show interested writers how I put the pieces together.

Feel free to comment and ask questions. Email me if I miss them.

New Review Up

Go to www.bookhound.wordpress.com for my latest review there. Thanks for helping create traffic!
Just Trying To Help Out

I found this on Rinda Elliott's THE WRITE SNARK wordpress blog(http://relliott4.wordpress.com/) and thought I would help out. Apex is a science-fiction/horror magazine that has come out of nowhere and been gaining favorable reviews. Apparently the editor needs a little help. I read his letter. I was moved. So I print it here in the hopes that it helps make a difference.

And, yes, I'm subscribing.

From Rinda:

Now, for some difficult news. You all know how much I like Apex Digest. Great writing, wonderful editor who has become a friend of mine — every issue has had stories that stuck in my mind long after I finished them. I caught this post on his blog today and I’m sharing because it had to be a difficult post.

So, if you like sci-fi or horror and have had thoughts of checking out Apex, now would be a great time to giving them a try. And if any of you are familiar with the magazine and think it’s great, spread the word.
This is my own personal horror story. In it, I play the guy whose pride won’t let him ask for help when he sees that he needs it. I might have waited too late, even now. Hubris can be a complicated personality trait. It’s one that I’m struggling with at the moment.

See, I’m having to come out to the public that Apex needs help. That I need help. Like, within two weeks.

Those who know me that my hubris is a personality flaw.

But this damn magazine means too much to me.

The story starts out well. A nice guy, me, starts a science-fiction and horror magazine. He loves it. He puts his own money into it. To his delight, the critics respond well to the stories. It goes into Barnes and Nobles. It starts breaking even. Who cares if he has a small debt from starting it? He’s paying that back and things are golden. He is proud of his magazine.

You see where this is going, don’t you? The word “pride” is your cue that things are about to go south.

This nice guy loses his job. He has four months of unemployment, but he keeps putting the magazine out. That small debt starts to get bigger. But he keeps his writers and artists paid and delivers the magazine on time. The printer is understanding and lets him slide on payments.
If the nice guy had asked for help then, he wouldn’t have needed to slide on payments. But he has a lot of pride and thinks he could tough it out. Then the nice guy gets a new job, which proves his point. He starts paying down the debt to his printer.

If this weren’t a horror story that would be the happy ending. There would be butterflies and fuzzy kittens. But this is a horror story.

We never see the printer’s POV, so we don’t know why the email is sent. All the nice guy knows is that the printer wants all of the money and wants it now. He doesn’t have it.

At the moment, I don’t know how this story will end.

All of Apex’s distributors rightfully expect their copies of the magazine within the next couple of weeks. Apex subscribers rightfully expect their copies within the next couple of weeks.

If I fail to get Apex #7 out to the distributors and subscribers, the story ends. I’ve begged and borrowed as much as I can. Now I’m dropping my pride and admitting that I need help publicly. I need 200 new subscribers to create the revenue required to pay off the debt to the printer.

Tell me how my story ends. You have the power. It’s sort of like one of those cool “choose your adventure” books from childhood.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Television Round-Up For The Week
I love some of the television shows that are on out there, and others I enjoy watching a lot. Due to deadlines and classes, I didn't get to watch much this week. Yet. I've got CSI: Miami, Bones, House, and a few others waiting on me. I'll get to them.
But after the rain canceled Thurday's ballgame (and I had the forethought to put on a big pot of chili), Sherry and I got to stay home and watch CSI and Shark's premiere.
Here's my report card.

CSI is off to a truly weird start. Notice the picture above. This is where the episode ended. With the murder of an unknown guy (Danny Bonaduce from The Partridge Family -- how's that for weird right off the bat?). Only there's been a model made of the murder scene -- a dollhouse -- that exactly matches the crime scene. And Catherine Willows evidently got drugged at the bar and date-raped. She does her own crime-scene gathering.

The dollhouse thing is intriguing, but I know it's a gimmick. Still, if they pull it together I know it'll be good. The other plot involving Catherine I feel is just wrong. Gathering evidence herself is going to break the chain of evidence -- no witnesses, and she's definitely prejudiced. Unless she figures she's after a serial rapist and thinks she'll catch him on a DNA cold hit and not have to talk to anyone about what happened to her. But, again, I disagree with that. Catherine is an ex-stripper. Ex-strippers are targets for sexual predators. Even if Catherine had never been raped, she'd have known women who were. Hiding it doesn't fix it. She has to tell someone.

The opening sequence with Circus de Soelil was awesome. Amazing visual stuff. Too expensive to do all the time, though, even for the #1 rated TV show. William Petersen has elected to shave the beard off, which jars a litle. Then they've evidently decided to keep his relationship with Sara Sidle quiet -- at least for the moment.

However, Grey's Anatomy (watched the first season and loved it) beat out the season opener. It's going to be a tough season for both shows as they go head-to-head. TIVO anyone?

Shark stars James Woods, who I just love to watch act. There's no one else who chews through dialogue and frenzy better than Woods. I like the idea of him being a big-time defense attorney who becomes the head of a high-profile prosecution team working out of the district attorney's office.

The story moved along quickly and introdueced Sebastion Stark, his motivation to give up defense work, and his sixteen-year-old daughter who is there to alternately take care of him and drive him crazy.

There was nothing new here, nothing absolutely fantastic. But it's James Woods, people. You can't go wrong with James Woods. For the moment, it is the season's most watched new show.

Numb3rs is off to a flying start with its third season. Except for the whole cliffhanger ending that I truly didn't expect.

I love this show for the characters (the relationship between the dad and the two sons, one a math genius and the other an FBI agent is dynamic and remains fresh even after the previous two seasons).

Also back for the season-opened, Lou Diamond Philips' sniper character. Mucho cool. The three of them together pursuing the bad guys are just phenomenal.

This time around, Don and Charlie are after a spree killer, a former high school teacher and a teen football player. She's got an agenda they put together at the end of the show -- right before the cliffhanger.

This show also made math cool and won the Carl Sagan award for raising the public perception of science. If you're not watching Numb3rs you should be.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Another Review Posted At Amazon Today

Busy day. I've got a lot on my plate lately.

I really enjoyed this film much more than I thought I would have. Being familiar with the story, I expected zero entertainment value. Figured I could turn it on and off at my leisure. Instead, I was mesmerized, and it was a nice 90-minute feature that took me straight through to the end.

George Clooney co-wrote, acted, and directed in the film. Much more talented than I'd believed. He hit this one dead-on, and got six Academy Award nominations for his efforts. Not a bad haul.

If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look. You'll find my review at:


New Review Posted At Amazon

I'm finishing up a review for www.avrev.com where I write DVD and HD DVD reviews and posted a short one about this HD DVD at Amazon. I was really impressed with the transfer and look forward to other old movies that are favorites of mine getting the same treatment.

You can find the review at:


Thanks for voting!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I had a lot of fun reading this one to Chandler. It's fast-paced, full of mystery, and has a feel-good quality that we both enjoyed.

You'll find reviews posted at www.bookhound.wordpress.com (a long one), and a shorter one at www.amazon.com. You can get to either through links on this page.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

New Product Placement At Amazon

Went to Quartz Mountain this weekend to do a workshop (had a great time with a wonderful bunch of ladies!) and got to try out my new Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 With GPS locator. It worked amazingly well.

For my review, go to: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product//B000AOGDM0/ref=cm_rv_thx_view/102-6554204-3089743?ie=UTF8

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Next ROVER book is out in March 2007!

Wow, I'm really excited about this one. This is the cover my brilliant editor Brian Thomsen wanted for the first book but we didn't get for some reason.

Maybe it was because -- as it turns out -- this cover is PERFECT for the book it's on.

For fans of the series, you get both Edgewick (Wick) Lamplighter and Juhg in this one. Juhg follows up clues left by his mentor, the previous Grandmagister at the Vault of All Known Knowledge, and gets to read unpublished adventures of Wick's earlier journeys.

Early readers of the books have had a great time with them.

I'm going to sponser a contest to give away a few free copies of the book (some of them are already gone to websites that are going to post reviews) when it comes out.

Stay tuned!

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Book Review Posted At Bookhound

I'm off to Tulsa for a speaking engagement tonight, so wish me luck. In the meantime, there's a new book review up at www.bookhound.wordpress.com (Mel's Book Reviews link).

The book is Shane Berryhill's Chance Fortune and the Outlaws, a YA novel about a superhero school. Josh Blevins (Chance Fortune) has no superpowers, but gets in on sheer pluck by claiming to be EXTRA LUCKY. Now that he's can, can he continue to make the grade? I had a lot of fun with this one.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

From the Mailbox

I get a lot of nice letters from a lot of nice people. Most writers do. The people that don't like your books generally don't read them and won't take the time to look up your email or write you to let you know they don't like something you did.

However, on a recent Sunday and Monday, I got these two letters, which I'll share with you. Just to let you know that a writer's life isn't always filled with adoration.

Do you think it's appropriate to be writing Buffy novels aimed at children when you show such intolerance for others by associating with the left behind books? Reeally - an entire book series devoted purely to punishing non-believers and we're to believe childrens' fiction should be left in your hands? Give me a break.

Kind of stung, I have to admit. Especially with no address, no salutation. But I gave my best reply.

I think I'm more generous in my view of the world than some.

Instead of focusing on people who write fiction to support their family and dump on them, I coach little league baseball and basketball and try to make the small corners of the world I inhabit a better place.

Believe it or not, there are many who don't think the Buffy world should be shown to young adults. I'm not in that camp. I believe that young adults should read whatever catches their imagination. Whether it's Buffy or Left Behind. I've even got readers who read both and find no problem with that.

I save my outrage for child molesters.

Then this one (more polite but still vicious).

Good day sir,

I have just finished reading your novel, Paid in blood.

Was disappointed in it.
There were glaring errors in it, (you should research more diligently)
Poor characters I find it hard to believe that a commander would in charge of an entire aircraft carrier.
Ohio class missile subs carry ballistic missiles not tomahawks and I doubt they carry 154 of them
Plot line was not very good either I kept hoping that it would improve it did not.
Characters do not ask the readers to get on their side (no development)

Poor workmanship Sir, you got some of my money but you will not get anymore of it

Ouch! Questioning my research? I admit, I have made some mistakes over the years. (Ask me about the time I had a law enforcement team invade a room, confront 6 bad guys, kill 9 of them and take prisoners!). But I think I responded as politely under the circumstances as I could.

For your edification:

A commander is the XO (executive officer, SECOND in command).


SSBN Ohio Class Ballistic Missile Submarine, USA

The Ohio class submarines serve the United States Navy as the virtually undetectable undersea launch platforms of intercontinental missiles. The Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, based at Groton, Connecticut, has built 18 Ohio submarines, commissioned between 1981 and 1997. The submarines of the Pacific Fleet are based at Bangor, Washington, and those of the Atlantic Fleet at King's Bay, Georgia. The submarines spend 70 days at sea followed by 25 days in dock for overhaul.


Under the requirements of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START II, which was agreed in June 1992, the number of strategic missile submarines was limited to 14 from the year 2002. Rather than decommissioning these four submarines, the US Navy is converting them to SSGNs (conventionally armed nuclear-powered) submarines. In September 2002, Electric Boat received a contract for the conversion of USS Ohio (SSBN 726), Michigan (727), Florida (728) and Georgia (729). The submarines are being refitted with up to 154 Tomahawk TLAM (land attack) or Tactical Tomahawk (Block IV) missiles and will also be capable of conducting special operations missions with accommodation for Northrop Grumman Advanced SEAL delivery systems (ASDS), mission control centre and 102 special operations troops.

General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems is modifying the Trident fire control system for the Tomahawk weapon control. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is adapting the missile launch tubes, developing a Multiple All Up Round Canister (MAC) which will provide storage and launch of up to seven Tomahawk missiles from each of the submarine's 22 missile tubes.

USS Ohio began conversion in November 2002 and this was completed in January 2006, when the ship rejoined the fleet following sea trials in December 2005. USS Florida began the SSGN conversion in July 2003 and rejoin the fleet in April 2006. The conversion of all four submarines is to be completed in 2008. SSBN's USS Pennsylvania and USS Kentucky have shifted homeport from Kings Bay to Bangor to balance the strategic force.

In January 2003, USS Florida took part in Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) experiment “Giant Shadow” to test the capabilites of the new SSGNs. The experiment included validation launches of two Tomahawk missiles, the first ever launch of a UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) and insertion of a Navy SEALS force. The SSGN will have the capacity to accommodate 66 SEALS.

You can find this at

And I understand that not all books work for everyone. That’s why they make different shoe sizes as well.

Generally I make it a practice not to respond, but I was stressed and felt defensive. Writers write mostly to be understood, I think. And I wanted them to know my point of view. I never heard anything back, so maybe they blocked my responses. Don't know. I shared the stories with a couple friends and they suggested I post it here.

Hopefully this won't attract a flame war.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kid Story

I designate Wednesdays for stories about my kids (until I run out of them or they become painful).

These two are about my daughter, Montana, who's 20 and married and has become a hair stylist just the way she always wanted (and we always knew she would be).

First, when she was four, her mom bought her some fingernail polish which -- since I was the stay-at-home dad with the writing job -- I ended up having to deal with the most. Anyway, her older brother Matt was seven. In the summer I let the kids stay up late and watch monster movies because it suited my writing schedule better (lucky kids!) and because after they went to bed they didn't dare get up because the movie monsters might be lurking (bad -- but smart -- dad).

So Matt was tired in the afternoon after having gotten up early. He crashed on the couch in shorts and a tee shirt. While he was asleep, Montana broke out her fingernail polish and covered his fingers up to the first joint. She also did his toes. He was a hard sleeper and slept through all of it.

When he woke up, still groggy, he thought his fingers and toes had been amputated and screamed bloody murder! It took a little while to calm him down.

Then, after Sherry and I were married, Montana was eight. We went up to Minnesota (where Sherry's family is from) to meet everyone (lots of brothers and sisters begat numerous nieces and nephews).

While we were in Randall, the big town a short distance from Motley where Sherry's mom lived, Montana was peering around downtown (it's all on one side of the street because the railroad tracks run through on the other side -- see how big it is? It has its own train!).

Abruptly, Montana made a displeased sound and said, "That's gross."

Since Minnesota has that whole casserole thing going on (which is where you prepare a meal, then scrape it into a covered dish, smother it in mashed potatoes and bake it a while longer), I figured she probably had a point (I've since learned to appreciate casseroles and not spend half of my dinner time trying to separate the ingredients back out).

I asked, "What's gross?"

"That." She pointed at the creamery right across the railroad tracks (see! It's big! Even has its own creamery!).

"The creamery?"


"Why is that gross?"

"Shouldn't they do that at the funeral home? Somewhere so people can't see it?"

Then I realized she thought the creamery was a crematorium. After cracking up a while and getting her totally irritated at me, I explained the difference.

There's nothing like the viewpoint of a child. Or even a teenager.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Have I Told You Lately How Much I Love Watching My Son Play Baseball?

At first base, taking away a base hit with those stretchy arms!

Monday, September 04, 2006

At Amazon

Death of Innocence

John Grisham's latest book has me confused. It's his first foray into nonfiction -- and it has to do with the 24-year old unsolved homicide of a girl I knew.

Debbie Carter, the murder victim, grew up in Ada, Oklahoma. I grew up in Francis, Oklahoma, only 12 miles outside of town. In the 1970s when I lived there, Ada had a population of around 13,000. That was because of East Central University.

Debbie was one of my sister-in-law's best friends. I'd gotten married at 19 and my wife and I sometimes had her kid sister over with Debbie. The girls were 15 at the time. I remember Debbie as alternately shy and boistrous. It depended on the situation. Looking back now, from the age of 48 instead of 19, I realize how young she truly was. And even how young she was when she was murdered at 21.

Debbie and Donna, my sister-in-law, taught me how to two-step at the Ken Lance Sports Arena just outside of Ada. They were fun and boy-crazy at the time. That much hasn't changed with teenage girls. They were 17, sneaking into the bar with sheer moxie. (Of course, all the teens did back then because Ada was a small town and you couldn't make any money by keeping people OUT of the bars.) Getting in just wasn't that big of a deal.

I'd moved to Oklahoma City in 1981. In 1982, two weeks before Debbie was murdered, my wife and I returned to Ada and hung out with Debbie, Donna, and my brother-in-law Bobby who was just back from the Air Force. We closed Ken Lance down, then went to the Waffle House for breakfast. We talked and laughed, and Bobby and Debbie got a little twitterpatted because they hadn't seen each other in a long time, and Debbie at 21 didn't look like his obnoxious sister's little friend any more.

That was the last time I saw Debbie. My mom called me to let me know Debbie had been killed. Raped, tortured, and murdered. At the time, those were only things that happened on television to people I didn't know.

It was a major turning point in my life. A wake-up call that nobody was guaranteed any length of time on this planet. A death of my innocence too in many ways.

Debbie's murder was also one of the reasons I was so overprotective with my children while they were growing up, and even while they're married and out of the home. I couldn't help myself. I still can't. I knew bad things happened to innocents because something happened to Debbie. I still know they happen.

I followed the investigation, even talked to OSBI Agent Mel Golden, who was one of the investigators who worked the case. Five years after the murder, investigators had to exhume Debbie's body to fingerprint her. It turned out the bloody palm prints on her wall they were trying to pin a suspect to were her own.

In this day and age, with all the CSI awareness going on, fingerprinting the victim would be a common thing. But it just goes to show how ill-prepared that community was for something so horrible to happen. We weren't prepared for a murder like that. Husbands killed wives or vice versa sometimes, but there was no mystery to it. Just a sadness and an acceptance and outrage if you knew (or were related to) the victim.

Ronnie Williamson (an ex-baseball player) and Dennis Fritz (a teacher) were tried and convicted for Debbie's murder. One of them was placed on death row. Eleven years later, they were released. It turns out the DNA evidence was corrupted by Dr. Joyce Gilcrist, whose handiwork overturned a lot of cases eventually.

Another suspect was arrested and another conviction was rendered. Now Glen Gore, the man who was last convicted of Debbie's murder, arranged another trial. In which he accused Ronnie Williamson of being the murderer.

Now, 24 years later, nobody except the murderer(s) and Debbie truly know what happened to her.

I don't read all of Grisham's work, but I read a lot of it. However, I'm wary of this book. All too often the victims are dragged through the mud more than the murderers. Debbie was 21 when she was killed. She was a kid in so many ways, especially growing up in that small town. At 21, she wasn't grown. She'd just moved into her own apartment and was the child of divorced parents back in the 1970s, which wasn't an everyday thing then as it is now.

She was an innocent, and I hope Grisham has portrayed her that way. That's the way I remember her.