Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Pandemic - The Meals

Christine watched a New York Times webinar last night called Breaking the Bubble: Staying Creative and Connected  while working from home. It was interesting and meaningful, and part of the emphasis was on meal planning. 

I realized Christine and I are fortunate and already quite a few pluses in our favor when quarantine kicked in. 


I'm pretty disciplined, perhaps ritualistic. I've worked from home a great deal for eight years. I taught for seven online and in the classroom. The past year I've been writing and teaching exclusively online. 

At my old school, we were allowed to do most of our grading from home. Reading creative work, I had fewer distractions except for my cats when they were alive. I learned to work with a laptop high on my abdomen and a cat in my lap.


The host of the webinar noted she often debated whether to spend 45 minutes in meal prep just for herself, but long ago I came to find some joy in the process. 

It was always a nice break from a full day of grading to pause for a sandwich. Not to mention the fact I learned to make deli quality. 

A reuben with a dash of Russian dressing I always kept on hand. Italian sandwiches with pepperoni and cheese melted to just to bubbly with just a touch of brown. Pastrami on rye. It was always a little hard to find sandwich-sliced rye like I wanted, but otherwise those were wonderful.


I'm from the South, but I guess I got a little international with my lunches, and if I shifted to salads, I'd craft quite a Caesar, sometimes Greek for variety.

Chopping cucumbers, slicing purple onions and tossing in a fall-colors blend of little tomatoes I could get from my grocer made it a bit of creative effort.

I became the dinner chef as well because Christine worked in an office. It was not far away, but the commute took a while in 5 p.m. Orlando traffic. I got pretty good at stir fry, baked chicken and fish.

That all continued when we moved to Williamsburg. Nowadays with Christine at home, we bump into each other in the kitchen from time to time, but we get by.

I never saw myself as training for quarantine times. It was just a bit of ritual as I mentioned. I tend to keep to a schedule in my head. That's all mixed with meditation, I suppose. 

That made me realize I have a lot of rituals. The morning coffee, the Saturday dinner, the writing/grading balance. Reading time. A TV break. 

I guess that's helped me keep on track a bit in these very dark times. I didn't know I was trying. 

May it help you too, if it's useful.



Tuesday, September 29, 2020


I always sweat a bit about reviews, and when Crossroad Press said they'd be sending a review copy of Fool's Run to Publisher's Weekly, I perspired a bit more. It's a natural move, but you never know what's going to be said.  


A friend who's also a publisher told me not to worry. Bad reviews can still mean sales and discovery by new readers. What a critic didn't like might be what a reader of the review is looking for. 

Brutal opening in a horror tale? Sign me up!

I guess all the sweating made the positive review all the more meaningful. 

Writing a novel is a bit like putting a puzzle together, and it's also about decisions and judgment. 

Once upon a time, I didn't think I had anything new to offer the detective novel. I wrote three trunk private eye novels starting in college and just after I started as a reporter. 

They primed me for writing the first novel that sold, Azarius, but I didn't feel I had anything new to offer the private eye tale. I put my Benjamin Ross stories away and moved on.


I returned to the form while teaching a mystery writing class and studying and codifying the mystery in its various forms for students. 

Si Reardon, hero of Fool's Run, took shape as a flawed former police officer on a dark mission. I didn't want him to simply go from one interview to another and piece a puzzle together.  I hoped to juggle the tropes of the mystery form a bit and swirl something a little different.

The reviewer from Publisher's Weekly seemed to get that. Someone will come along who doesn't love it, but so it goes. 

Pre-order the novel 

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Biblioholic's Bookshelf: The Sorceress by

Haven't done one of these in a while. Manor Books, 1977. 

The Sorceress by Tony Destefano

The Sorceress back cover

Inside, other books by the same author are noted: Mondo No. 1, 2 and 3 and Dachau Treasure

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Flash of Fear - Foolish Fire - A Bit of Flash Horror Fiction

Friction rises among friends on a night drive to check out reports of a will-o'-the-wisp in this tale called "Foolish Fire."

The most recent Flash of Fear was very brief, so this once come quicker than usual. It's an all-new story,  a tad longer, 1,500-words or so.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

A Clip from Silverline Live - Bloodline Comic

Reading loglines for upcoming comics projects on the Silverline Live show May 6.

Still Gone

Still Gone 

The sun hits the blinds
Bright, white, blinding.

I can’t quite see the tree,
But the leaves are green again.

The leaves have gone and returned.
Only Ollie is still gone. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Flash of Fear - A Check-in from Lockdown's Confines

I'd decided to post a new Flash of Fear story reading every six weeks or so, aligning with haircuts. Lockdown put the kibosh on haircuts, but I thought I'd check in with a few words and a new, brief reading, a piece that originally appeared here on the blog.

I hope all are hanging in during this tough time. May it pass quickly. 


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse and Tales From My Dark Side

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse Cover

For a while yesterday (April 18, 2020, in the time of quarantine), Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse edited by Lyn Worthen, which includes my story "Witch of Washington Park," had the Hollywood Squares spot right below Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, and we were on a diagonal from collected stories of Theodore Sturgeon, all in the Science Fiction Anthologies category. Or maybe it was the Zoom spot right below them. Or the Alice below Carol and Marcia.

I know, I know, new things climb into the Top 100 and stay a while, like the fog in a Carl Sandburg poem, and then move on, but it was still a thrill for me anyway. In good ways. Bradbury and Sturgeon are deservedly perennials in those slots. BUT STILL!!!! "...once there was a spot/ For one brief shining moment...Camelot..."

READ ALSO: My Interview with Ray Bradbury

And sorta there's bad in me related to this...
Or a dark side, and the placement soothes an old contusion, I'll confess... When I was a kid in junior high I gave a buck-twenty-five copy of The Martian Chronicles as a Christmas gift at school. It was the cool orange one with the sketch of Bradbury on the cover. You drew a name, you had to buy for a $1 or so in those days. It was a while back.

When my present went to the guy, who was actually happy to get it, a look of disgust crossed this other kid's face. "You always give books," he muttered, spitting the word "books" with about as much contempt of a word as is humanly possible.

READ ALSO: Ray Bradbury - The October Game - Major Spoiler 

Yeah, I gave books, and I still do...
...some of them direct from my brain to yours if you choose. Probably says more about me that I recall that dis, that utterance of contempt. But, uh, I guess I hold grudges sometimes. You know, for, uh, decades. Several decades. So that little thumbnail was fun!

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Plague Diary or Coronavirus Thoughts Entry 1

When I went to see The Invisible Man on March 3 word of Coronavirus arrival in the U.S. was on the news, and I was a little nervous though reports of cases were pretty far away yet and it was a pretty empty theater. A couple came in and chose to sit right behind me, of course.

I washed my hands before and after the movie, tried not to touch and hoped for the best. I didn't realize it was the demarcation point, that I wouldn't be venturing out much after, but the world seemed to get crazy after that.

In coming days, Christine, my wife and I visited a bookstore, did our grocery shopping and tried to stockpile soon after we began to stay close to home as word of the spread continued and the alarms sounded.

We moved to Williamsburg, VA, in 2019 following my wife's acceptance job. I've been working close to home since, freelancing, writing fiction and getting prepared for an online teaching job. We had also been looking for a house, and we had a trip to visit Christine's parents planned.

Shortly before the trip as news worsened, we cancelled plans, and Christine spent the vacation days at home, and as we were staying in close, we received word her job would be implementing work-from-home orders.

We've been hunkered down ever since.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Cat Books Here - Get up to 10 ebook titles featuring cats including the pre-launch Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse

Act Now:

For a limited time, you can get Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse via a special pre-launch offer. Cat Ladies includes my story "The Witch of Washington Park" and 9 other titles as special story bundle. Pay what you want for 10 titles with six of them exclusive ebooks.

They all feature cats, which are, of course, a great source of comfort. That's how they serve in my story as a heroine faces a brutal future and works to prepare an urban environment for agriculture in a devastated land.

There's also mystery, horror and suspense in this mix. As I'm writing this, 17 days remain on the offer, so act fast and get some great reading to fill your down time.

See the full cover of Cat Ladies edited by Lyn Worthen here.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Horror Flash Fiction - Flash of Fear - Jack-O-Lanterns

A new Flash of Fear installment, this time a reading of a piece that appeared first here on the blog.

More readings here

This story and more short horror and mystery tales are found in the ebook Scars and Candy from Crossroad Press also.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Anthology - Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse Cover Reveal

cat ladies book cover - badass post apocalyptic and dystopian heroines in regalia

I'm happy to present the cover art for the upcoming anthology Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse.

Plans for this collection edited by Lyn Worthen began last fall, and that's when I wrote my story, "The Witch of Washington Park." Who knew? The Doomsday Clock from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was set at two minutes to midnight.

In January 2020, it moved up thirty seconds, to a minute and a half.

Visit the Camden Park Press Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse page

The submission call read "It’s time to turn the `man and his dog wandering through a dystopian world' trope on its head..."

I wasn't sure at first what I'd do with that. I began with the notion of a former scientist, her name's Cassandra, making her way through a deserted city and finding a frightened boy holding a cat.

She was working to establish a bit of an oasis where food could be safely grown in an urban environment. Most of the world outside, a landscape ravaged by climate and nuclear disasters, but she and her cat named Midnight were holding on.

She'd grown despondent, however. Taking care of the boy, naming his cat Raven, offering him bits of culture and history while teaching him about agriculture began to give her new life.

Yet threats loom, threats always loom.

As always when a story takes off, the writing experience was exhilarating.

The collection includes many other great tales. Cats that eat zombies. Badass librarians, cat ladies battling something like Cthulhu and much more. It's arriving soon, so keep watching your favorite bookseller's site.

See also: Quoth the Raven featuring my story, "A Cooler of Craft Brew."

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Witch of Washington Park,

I'm excited to announce my 8,000-word story, "The Witch of Washington Park," will be included in the upcoming Camden Park Press anthology Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse edited by Lyn Worthen. Think of it as the flip side of A Boy and His Dog.

The story's set in a future where cataclysmic events have created a wasteland beset by predators of human and animal form alike. Of course.

My heroine, Cassandra, once a scientist, is at work attempting to prepare an urban setting to become an agricultural oasis amid the gloom of a post-apocalyptic world, but she's in danger of giving way to despair. Until she finds a young boy who needs her care.

Nothing's easy for them, of course, and the big threat's in the form of... Well, read it and see.

This story was great fun to write. I'd been wanting to do a little more in the science fiction or speculative fiction realm. The title of the anthology really sparked my imagination.

I'll post links when preorder information becomes available. Probably coming about mid-March 2020.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Flash of Fear - Pilgrim Crime Story Reading

Don't know that I'll be maintaining a weekly pace for these, but here's a new installment in my little Flash of Fear series of readings for You Tube.

This time around it's a crime story with horror elements that originally appeared in Heater magazine. It's a dark little tale of a detective called to a brutal crime scene.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Flash of Fear - Custom Scent - Horror Flash Fiction

I'd been meaning to develop some content for You Tube for a while. With me reading, very brief pieces seem to be the best idea.

This is a bit of flash fiction that appeared first in Sanitarium magazine No. 46. It was kind of fun. Maybe I'll do more.
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