The Last Rejection Slip

Typewriter - Once upon a timeI’m no poet, but I had a little fun writing this during JD Mader’s Flash Fiction Friday. There’s so much great writing going on at 2 Minutes: Go. I hope you’ll check it out. And maybe next week, you’ll come write with us. Or read what results.


The Last Rejection Slip

Dear author, confidentially,
I’ve had the opportunity
To peruse your latest tome
About the final sack of Rome
Or was it romance in the air
Between two alpha billionaires?
A clone of the latest big bestseller
Paranormal fortuneteller?
A steampunk Valley of the Dolls?
Amish gangsters and their molls?
While it’s brilliant, shows such pluck
It won’t help me make a buck.
Sorry for the frank report
There’s just too much mail to sort.
So thanks but no thanks, author friend,
And with this query I will send
My suggestion you self-publish
Check out Facebook, Twitter, Bublish.
If you do well, please advise
Because I’d like to cut my ties.
See, there’s a novel in my head
(Seinfeld meets The Walking Dead.)
I’m dying to get out of here
Publish more than once a year
Write the book I damn well please
And get bigger royalties.


Shadow Days and Making Amends by Melinda Clayton: Reviews

MakingAmendsI’ve been catching up on a little reading over the last few weeks, and I wanted to share my thoughts on two excellent stories by Melinda Clayton. Full disclosure: Melinda is a fellow IU minion, but I began reading and enjoying her books before she signed on.

Making Amends

Making Amends is a standalone story, just released. I’m a sucker for a good, broken character seeking redemption, or at least trying to do damage control and move on. And Melinda Clayton brings it, with heart and compassion and the depth of understanding she undoubtedly brings from her background as a psychotherapist.

I stayed up way too late for several nights in a row reading Making Amends because I needed to know what happened next. The characters are full and heartbreakingly real, heartbreakingly broken and doing the best they can to pull it all together. I fell hard for Ben, a man on the edges of Alzheimer’s, lucid enough at times to understand and plan for what he’ll be losing, including his tender, funny, loving relationship with his wife, Von. I felt their conflict, their sorrow, their hope, their stolen moments. To tell too much would spoil this well-crafted, well-paced story, but I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a deep, thoughtful story about attempting to build a meaningful life out of the broken pieces.

Shadow Days

This is the fourth book in the Cedar Hollow Series. After three stories that focused on several residents of the town at various points in history, what I found really interesting was looking at Cedar Hollow from an outsider’s point of view—not a child returning, but a complete stranger. On the first anniversary of her husband’s death, Emily Holt flees the Florida home where she sees Greg everywhere she looks and ends up broken down, literally and figuratively, just outside of Cedar Hollow. I like the back and forth of what Emily makes of the town…and what they make of her.

But like that saying, “Wherever you go, there you are,” she can’t run too far from her memories, or the secrets she’s been keeping from her children.

Appalachian Justice, the first book in the series, is still by far my favorite, but this was an interesting spin, a visit with old friends, and a psychological plot line about mental illness that hit very close to home for me. A definite yes for Cedar Hollow and Melinda Clayton fans.

A little update, a little sale

Typewriter - Once upon a timeHi, everyone. Just wanted to give you an update on what I’m working on and let you know about a couple of titles on sale…and one free.

A Sudden Gust of Gravity is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. It’s about a young woman who wants to become a magician, in a field mainly dominated by men. I’ll share more with you later, including excerpts, giveaways, and the spiffy cover Mr. Art Man is working on. Right now, publishing looks good for early November. If you’d like to get the details first, you can sign up to get that info here.

Now, the sales:

Don’t Tell Anyone will be on sale for 99 cents until September 19 on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks. And if you’d like to learn more about younger son Charlie Trager, you can pick up The Picture of Cool, the prequel to his story, for free on Amazon from September 16-17.

Here are the details:

Don’t Tell Anyone

Liza’s mother-in-law once called her a godless hippie raised by wolves. Now, after five years of marriage to her elder son, five years of disapproval and spite, the family accidentally learns that Estelle has a fatal illness. And Estelle comes to her with an impossible request. A horrified Liza refuses but keeps the question from her husband and his brother. As the three children urge Estelle to consider treatment, their complicated weave of family secrets and lies begins to unravel. Can they hold their own lives together long enough to help Estelle with hers?


Amazon UK:



UK iTunes:



The Picture of Cool  (Free, Sept 16-17)

Television producer Charlie Trager spends his days working with beautiful women on a daytime talk show. But underneath his cool façade, there’s a hollow spot in his heart, waiting for the right man to ease his loneliness. Then he meets the show’s next guest, a handsome young politician with a bad case of nerves—and a secret that could turn both their lives upside down.

Happy trails and safe travels, and I hope you’re having a lovely week.

What Would MacGuyver Do?

MacGyverHappy Sunday! (Or Monday, depending on where you live.) Just wanted to share something I wrote for JD Mader’s flash fiction line dancing and Karaoke party on Friday. And also in celebration of “MacGuyver” being added to the Oxford online dictionary. Which I always thought should have been a word.


All you wanted was coffee. You’d run out and didn’t trust yourself to make the forty-minute drive to the nearest diner uncaffeinated, so you’d knocked on the door of the nice neighbor ladies, who’d been so accommodating in the past with their home-baked goods and offers to take in mail.

Two hours later, you’re diagnosing the wiring of a light switch, and all you remember from high school shop classes is that you need to turn off the power first. But you’re supposed to know things, know how to fix things, being a single man living a single life in a single-family house, and staring into the naked wires with the fretful, dough-soft face of one of those nice ladies hovering over your shoulder, you cringe at your inadequacy.

“Am I bothering you?” she says, hands twisting a dishcloth.

Yes. Yes, she is. She’s reminding you that your XY chromosome is a pathetic little sucker, a setup for failure, a condemnation of the Madison Avenue images your cohort was raised to emulate: the Marlboro Man, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and MacGuyver. Damn you, MacGuyver, with your chewing gum and rubber bands, making us all look bad.

“No, Daphne, you’re not bothering me at all.” The flat blade skips free of the stripped screw head and digs into the meat of your opposite thumb.

“I’ll get you a bandage,” she sighs, trying for a reassuring smile. “And some banana bread? Would you like that, Frank?”

Like you’re her nephew. But the words are soft and powdered and soothe your nerves.

“Yeah. Thanks.” And the moment she’s gone, you take a deep breath, search the web for repair tips, then reposition the screwdriver, asking yourself what MacGuyver might do when he’s at home. Probably call an electrician.

Tips for Writing Dialogue

How_To_Handle_Rejection_400x265I’m sharing this witty, informative post by Kristen Lamb on writing dialogue. She offers some great tips. If you’re a writer, maybe they’ll help you or act as a refresher. And if you’re a reader, what do you like in dialogue and what sets your teeth on edge?