Saturday, September 26, 2015

See you in Modale

I'm nearly complete in catching up with Craig Johnson's Longmire series of books. There are a couple of seasonal novellas I need to read yet; I buy most books at my local bookstore, The Raven, and need to ask them to order these more obscure titles.  Johnson's stories about a grizzled Wyoming sheriff are interesting, really well researched and, most important, entertaining.  He has a very dry sense of humor and writes from a first person perspective which resonates with me for some reason...

I plan on being in Modale on October 24th for a book signing and brief talk about my two books, Hooligan from the Hills and Meet Hook.  Kevin Holben will be there as well to discuss his music and sing some of his songs.  My draft of Hooked Up is nearly complete; I may read a chapter of it if folks are interested.  Details are still shaping up but right now it looks like we will be at the Town and Country Arts building at 7p.m.

Friday, September 11, 2015


I wrote the following on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. Those who know Sandy and I know that we have no children, just our cat, Friley. Many of you also know that because Friley and Marsie could not get along, Marsie was adopted by a good friend shortly after this was written and left our home.

I stayed home today to babysit Marsie, our new kitten. She and Friley, our first cat, are still struggling with sharing the house and needed extra supervision. Repeated little kitty pouncings forced me out of bed shortly after Sandy had left for work. It was only a little before 8, but I turned on the television anyway.

I wanted Sports Center but one of the news channels came up first. It was broadcasting live from New York. Apparently an aircraft had just crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I was stupified. A plane had to have been suffering severe mechanical failure to veer that far off course and strike that deep into Manhattan. I picked up a phone to call my office to let them know of the incident; reporters may be calling for information and my coworkers would need to be reminded of the PR office number. I glanced at the screen. It was now filled with a view of the tower, smoke getting heavier on the upper levels. As I picked up the phone's handset, I watched in disbelief as a large, twin-engine jet crashed into the other tower of the Center. I set the phone down and went numb. One crash is a tragic accident; two can only be a deliberate attack.

I finally made the call to the office. The news had not made it there yet. I expected my office to be better informed. I imagine Managers were monitoring the events; but, the troops at my level had been told nothing. I told a fellow radar engineer that our country was under attack. He asked if it was Middle-East terrorists or the Mid- West militias. It made me sick that we would even have to wonder.

I could hear Marsie munching at her food bowl - her third breakfast of the morning. She was oblivious to the act of war carried out with global televised coverage. The talking heads were stunned and audibly shaken. "Words cannot describe what have just witnessed." Many words followed. The Center employs nearly 50,000 people though no one was certain how many may have been inside. More importantly, though, was that the Dow Jones and New York Stock Exchange would be delaying their openings.

I turned all the TV's in the house on to different networks, hoping to glean nuggets of fact out of all the hear-say they were broadcasting. I held onto Friley. He didn't understand it, either, but he knew something was wrong. We watched the kitchen television bring us pictures of the fires growing out of control. Friley struggled free - even he had seen enough. The chaotic scene is described as resembling "a war zone." They don't get it yet - it's not a "resemblance," this was an act of war.

Marsie joined me in the living room as I scanned all the networks for anything of substance. Marsie crawled onto my shoulder and purred. Camera views shifted from the inferno at the towers to the Pentagon. A bomb, a helicopter, another airplane - all of those three were attributed to causing the smoke and carnage now emanating from headquarters of the world's strongest military force.

"Marsie" is short for Marston, the name of the building where I first studied engineering at Iowa State University. The building was named after Anson Marston, a civil engineer and former professor at ISU. I looked down at Marsie, now sleeping on my shoulder as one of the two towers of the World Trade Center collapsed from structural failure caused by the impact and subsequent fire damage. She stirred a little as the second tower came down upon itself and the hundreds of police, firefighters, and survivors below it. In 1973 no one foresaw such an extreme act of malice. Marston and I learned a little more today.

As I check on Friley, reports that the three airplanes were all hijacked begin to firm up. An "expert" who's name means little foreshadows that when we begin to analyze this day we will likely find how incredibly simple it was to orchestrate this attack. I wait for them to speak of the horror the passengers of these flights must have undergone before being sacrificed for the good of a "cause." I think of the airline employed "guards" manning the x-ray machines at the
terminal gates pulling down slightly more per hour than a drive-thru window cashier at any McDonalds, the airline ticket takers who won't even enforce carry-on baggage size limits, the baggage handlers mangling/stealing/losing luggage out on the airport ramps - is it really a question of how this happened or more of how did it not happen before now?

The FAA shut down all airports in the United States. A prudent move since own infrastructure has been used against us. The criticism for this action will likely come in a couple of days - people have been inconvenienced, after all. As Friley and I watch the split screen views of the rubble in Manhattan and the fire at the Pentagon, I notice the custom banner at the bottom of the screen: "America Under Attack." The graphics department does fast work. Or, maybe this
one was already in the can. Occasionally the cameras pan to the sky where F-15s and F-16s now orbit above New York and Washington. American Airlines (an intentional irony I am sure) has acknowledged that two of its airliners are missing. As Friley turns to look away I wonder what rules of engagement our Air Force has issued now that every airliner in the sky is a potential threat. A rumor of a fourth hijacked airplane is quickly disseminated as fact by all the news wires - it is allegedly on a path to the Pentagon. Friley lifts his head in heightened alert, his ears sweeping back and forth. Another plane has crashed, this time in a wooded area in Pennsylvania. Friley relaxes and goes back to sleep. The two minutes expire with no planes other than our own fighter jets ever getting near the Pentagon. I feel sympathy for those fighter pilots; it would be difficult to have to fire on a domestic passenger 'liner.

As Marsie heads for her litter box one of my least favorite news anchors says that there have been several groups claiming responsibility for the attack though none he deemed credible enough to air. Later, he would announce in excruciating detail the location of the President, Vice-President, Secretaries of State and Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and several congressional leaders. He also does frequent updates of movements of our battle ships and an aircraft carrier along the east coast. Some of our national leadership were going to "undisclosed locations," which seemed to irritate all of the news teams. However, an update was promised.

Thousands have certainly died today but there has been little speculation on just how many. As my little ones both sleep the speculation as to "which known terrorist organization" may have had the ability to plan and execute such a brazen attack. "Which known terrorist organization." "Which" meaning there are several. "Known" implying there may be others yet to surface. "Terrorist" - well, terrorists are just a cowardly minority seeking publicity for "causes" that can't be trumpeted using any form of logic; today they have succeeded. "Organization" - today, "organization" has taken on a new dimension. I fear the vermin responsible have acted on behalf of God. I have never imagined that God would be so intolerant that He would want people killed rather than taught.

Marsie is fast asleep, oblivious to the magnitude of this morning's events. She is just a thirteen-week-old Siamese kitten. Friley is nine, middle-aged by cat standards, and doesn't comprehend the day, either. As I look at them I feel sad. Sad not just for the thousands of lives that were and are irreparably altered, but for all the parents and teachers today who will have to try to explain the unexplainable events of today to our children.

Friday, August 07, 2015


Currently working on my next book. This one features Hook, Patch, Jimmy, Stanley, and Nik again. Oh, and Dea and Samantha, too. I'm nearly finished with the first draft. It's tentatively titled Hooked Up.

When I'm not staring at a computer screen trying to entice the story to trickle through my keyboard I try to keep up with some of my favorite authors.  I'm caught up with all three of Barbra Annino's series (Stacy Justice, The Everafter trilogy, the Goddesses series). I've started reading Janet Evanovich's Fox and O'Hare series. Lately I've been binge reading Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series. And I'm slowly getting to Joel Goldman's mysteries and thrillers set in Kansas City.

Keep reading and buy another copy of Meet Hook to give to a friend ;)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Fair time

It's less than a week until the Harrison County Fair. Kevin Holben and I are looking forward to a great time on Thursday. He's got some awesome Hooligan t-shirts and I have quite a few copies of Hooligan from the Hills (and a few copies of Meet Hook) that we will have for sale in his merchandise tent starting around 6pm. I hope to see a lot of you there. Be sure to join the #HooliganNation at Kevin's show at the grandstand at 7pm.

Thursday, July 02, 2015


I will be at the Harrison County Fair in Missouri Valley, Iowa on July 23rd signing books in Kevin Holben's merchandise tent.  He will have Hooligan t-shirts and I will have Hooligan from the Hills books.  Kevin will perform a concert that night and will sing his song Hooligan from the Hills.  It should be a fun night.

If you can't join Kevin and I at the fair, Hooligan from the Hills: Growing Up Ornery in Iowa's Loess Hills is available at

For the Hook fans, I'm about 75% finished with the draft of the next book.  It should answer some of the questions you may have - and spark a few new ones.

I still have a few signed copies of Meet Hook. They are $17 with $5 going to the Kansas City Pet Project.  Send me a message if you want one.

Unsigned paperbacks and ebook versions of Meet Hook are still available online at most places including:
Books-A-Million (BAM!):

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Book club

I attended my first book club last Wednesday, invited by a friend who lives in Wichita. For a long time her group wanted to ask an author of one of the books they'd read to come speak to them about the book and the writing process. All their top choices were either busy or dead so the invite fell down to me. Since I was in town for some meetings, I agreed to go even though I'd never been to one before. I'm not a huge fan of public speaking but I have to admit this was a lot of fun. It was really interesting hearing what parts of Meet Hook resonated with them and, most important to me, what made them laugh. Hopefully I can do more of these in the future.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Getting around

A minor part of Meet Hook is the bike-share program B-cycle. This is a real thing in Kansas City. Although Hook is a bit of a slacker, even he recognizes that sometimes riding a bike is the easiest way to get around Downtown, Westport, and the Plaza. Personally, I've seen several of the bike racks when I walk around Downtown during my lunch hours but I've yet to ride one of the bikes. More info may be found here:

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Any way you want it

I think I have most bases covered now. Be it print or electronically, Meet Hook is now available from multiple sources from several different vendors.

Here are links to the ones with which most people familiar:

Books-A-Million (BAM!):

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


I mentioned in a previous post that Meet Hook is set in Kansas City and uses a mix real, fictitious, and occasionally defunct locations. At last year's Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City Race for the Cure I was able to point out a few of these places to friends and family walking with Sandy and me since the route went through neighborhoods mentioned in the story. Hook's home (the Western Auto Building) and Wild Bill's Bar and Grill (still closed) were two places we "ran" past.

One organization referenced early in the book is extremely important to the story and is very much a real place: The Kansas City Pet Project. Two of our kitties are rescues so it was important to me that Hook's sidekick be adopted from a shelter as well. The KC Pet Project is a no-kill shelter and does outstanding work. See their website ( for more information on adopting a pet or making a donation.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


I work in Microsoft Word. It's a love-hate relationship. If you take the time to set up all it's features it makes typing a manuscript pretty simple. Indenting the first line of a paragraph? Automatic. Table of contents? Automatic. Checking the spelling of my made-up words? Automatic. Stripping out all of Word's formatting for ebook publishing? Pain in the ass. Smashwords has a nice (free) guide on unformatting which is timeconsumingly helpful. I'm starting with its time.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


A shout-out to Eric at for taking my crude mockup and designing the great retro style cover for Meet Hook. He put it together quickly and perfectly formatted for both the print and ebook versions

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Meet Hook

My current manuscript is on hold for a few days while on put the finishing touches on Meet Hook. Hoping to have it available within the next 2 to 3 weeks.

A cop who isn’t a cop. Kidnappers who aren’t kidnappers. Mobsters who aren’t mobsters. And a lady in distress who’s neither a lady nor in distress.

Meet Hook, his small circle of “friends”, and his one-eyed cat, Patch, as they navigate the streets of Kansas City while trying to not fall prey to crazy drivers, the local authorities, or a psychotic ex-girlfriend.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Crunch time

More "write-about-you-know" today. I finally got something useful from the head-on collision I survived and worked some of those memories into the second manuscript. Movies really don't do the experience justice. Visually, it's close, but the sound is all wrong. Of course, only Smell-O-Vision had a chance to (in)adequately convey the aroma of scorched rubber, venting antifreeze, and the boiling puddle of oils and fluids. Too bad Smell-O-Vision failed.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cover me

My brother may well be my harshest critic (either him or one of my work friends; they've never met yet they seem to compete at being my supportive wet blanket). It's kind of comical that I now listen to his suggestions considering he spent his first twenty-three years of life doing the opposite of everything I suggested to him. This week he's been supervising the cover design for my next book. The one I developed did not meet his standards. I have to admit though, his looks better. Damn it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Do you see what I hear?

My current projects have a fair amount of dialog involving characters from a wide variety of geographic regions. I try to type their words in a way that conveys the sound of their accents. I've learned this is called "eye dialect" -- something some feel should be avoided. I'm kinda obstinate so I've embraced it. Yeah, ya, yah, and yay all mean different things as do oh, ooh, ah, aw, ow, and ew. I use them all -- and that's just with the Midwestern characters.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Talk about pop muzik

I grew up in 80s. Consequently I believe there is no situation that I can't correlate to a scene, song, or quote from an 80s movie. And, I often do, much to the chagrin of one of my friends at work; my frequent pop culture references are usually lost on her. It is pointless to quote the wisdom of Farmer Ted when the person with whom you are talking doesn't remember anything from "Sixteen Candles." I had a similar feeling when I read "The Love Song of J. Edgar Hoover" by Kinky Friedman. His frequent references to the people, events, and music from the 1960s and 70s were just familiar enough to resonate with me but probably not as strongly as he intended. Kinky and my friend convinced me to limit the pop culture references in my writing to just a few obscure "easter eggs" I throw in for grins.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Eat at Bill's

My current project is set in Kansas City. I'm having fun reviving some businesses that went Dodo several years ago.  Places like Buffalo Bill's Bar and Grill in downtown, my favorite lunch place 15 years ago.  It's been several other names over the years and is currently vacant. When I walk past it now I look beyond the cracked window and dust covered bar, I see my protagonist sitting on a stool, making small talk with a bartender who isn't even listening.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Who's the inspiration?

One of my beta readers of the completed manuscript is pretty adamant that I should change it to young adult even though none of the characters is younger than 35.  I'm resistant because I feel some of the dialogue would change to something other than what the characters in my head say.  We devolved into arguing over how much of myself is in the main character.  I maintain that (in fiction) most main characters are an extension of the author, just to varying degrees.  "Write about what you know" is a cliche but still decent advice.  I told her she should be more concerned about where I draw inspiration for the quirks of the supporting characters -- as should everyone I've ever met. [winky face here]

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

As research for my current project I just finished reading Open City: True Story of the KC Crime Family (1900-1950) by William Ouseley. Much of the very early organized crime activity originated basically where I work now.  Coincidence, I'm sure.  The Mafia and the Machine: The Story of the Kansas City Mob by Frank R Hayde is up next.

Friday, January 02, 2015

In the days leading up to my 20th high school class reunion I wrote short stories of memories from growing up in small town Iowa.  I published a collection of those stories in my book Hooligan from the Hills: Growing Up Ornery in Iowa's Loess Hills.  Hardcopies of this book may be purchased from, Barnes & Noble, and E-book versions for the Nook, the iPad/iPhone, and ePub format are also available.