Saturday, May 15, 2010

They Call Him ... Twinkle Toes Tuuxedo

I've blogged before about my 9 year old's dancing feet before. There was this post back in May of '07. Back then he was the only boy taking a tap and ballet class with twenty or so girls.

Well last night his school was having a sock hop or sorts for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. He attends a small private Catholic school so we are talking about a total of about 50 kids here, and even though they are in different grades they all know each other.

My son comes to me before the dance and says, "Dad, i want one of those frilly shirts to wear. And one of those black coats."

At my strange look he added, "You know with the thing that goes around your middle. Like grooms wear when they get married."

"A tuxedo?"

"Yeah," he said. "So I can impress the ladies.

Of course I dashed his fashion dreams when I told him that's not what you wear to a sock hop.

Of course he had a fabulous time despite the fact he only got to wear jeans and a white t-shirt.

Yes, that is my son shaking his moneymaker to the YMCA.

And here is a picture of him looking sad when the festivities ended.
He acquired the hat and shades at the dance.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Critique groups. I've been in my share over the last decade. Good groups, bad groups, and groups simply not right for me, but I am increasingly a writer that needs a good critique group.

Enthusiasm is hard to maintain over a decade. Especially when that decade is filled with more rejections that acceptances, but a good group give a writer a weekly goal. It also provides a chance to hang with like-minded souls. To compare and learn from each other's writing. To commiserate the disappointments. To revel in the good times.

Let me tell you a bit about my current group.

Vicki and I have been in various groups together. Off and on we've been critique partners for a good seven or eight years now. Vicki has long been one of my most ardent cheerleaders. Over the years she has come to realize punctuation and grammar are not my strong suits and yet she patiently adds and deletes my wayward commas each week. I admire Vicki not only for her writing talents and skill at sniffing out my themes even before I've realized them but also for teaching ESL kids at a very tough school. Teaching is hard anyway but when verbal communication is removed I can only imagine the challenges.

I have known Deborah Elliott Upton for nearly as long as I've been writing seriously. Before she was my crit partner she was my teacher, mentor and friend. We love to give each other a hard time, but even after all these years I still don't think she knows quite what to think of me. Debbie writes a weekly blog over at Criminal Brief. Check out her posts every Thursday. Her publishing credits include Woman's World, Writer's Digest, Millennium Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine, Working Writer, Mystery Readers Journal, Beginnings, Crime and Suspense, trade magazines, and newspapers. Star-Blaze Entertainment has optioned five of her short stories for opening episodes of a proposed television series. She's a former book reviewer for the Amarillo Globe-News, a frequent conference speaker and online instructor for Writing & Marketing the Short Story. Debbie is the newest member or our current group but she and I go back a ways including other groups.

Lisa first endeared herself to me in a previous group I was in when she read an F-Bomb laced short story that really put a bee in that groups bonnet. Especially since they had chastised me for using the word the previous week. I blogged about that experience here. Sadly Lisa has not been writing much fiction lately as she's been busy being a mother and writing freelance articles for the Amarillo Globe News, but maybe now that summer is upon us she will be back in the groove.

Caron Guillo is such a talented writer and possess a voice talented enough to completely erase genre lines and make me eager to read a story beyond my normal reading interests. Her debut inspirational novel, CHILDREN OF LIGHT, is due out in November 2010. Beginning in a thirteenth century German village at the dawn of an ill-fated peasant crusade the tale ends a decade later on a sprawling estate in Egypt. With careful research, Caron tells a lively story of faith lost and forgiveness found, painting the medieval setting with vibrant strokes. Caron is repped by the hardworking Terry Burns of Hartline Literary. Caron has written articles and short stories for Christian Woman, Choice, Church & Family, Church Growth, and Action! magazines. God Answers Prayers Military Edition (2005, Harvest House Publishers) includes her true short story.

Val Conrad is the newest member to my crit circle. Her debut novel Blood Of Like Souls, just came out from Black Rose Books. It is available at their website, or via Amazon in both print and kindle editions.
A bit about Val's book ...
Julie Madigan's career with the New Mexico State Police ended in a puddle of blood on the floor when she survived having her throat cut. But a year of recovery left her desperate to hide the scars and to escape the past. She moved to Michigan, away from friends and coworkers who knew her secrets. Now a medical examiner investigator, Julie plays by the rules, but the rules change when a killer sends her clues and evidence about two victims, taunting her with his unusual methods of murder, pulling her into his twisted game, and targeting those she cares about. His goal - to prove Julie will kill like he does. While trying to identify him, Julie discovers the monster has been closer to her than she ever imagined, leaving her in a race to save the next victims he's selected, forcing her to chose who lives and who dies.

Val will be in Michigan this weekend for any of you readers up that way. Stop in and pick up a copy of her novel and tell her I sent you.

May 15, 2010 2 p.m to 4 p.m. Suttons Bay - Bingham District Library,
416 Front St., Suttons Bay, MI.
Book chat and event - details soon!
May 16, 2010 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Horizon Books, 243 W. Front St.,
Traverse City, MI.
Book signing event.
June 15, 2010 7 p.m. Lovett Library 111 Houston, Pampa, TX
Book event - details soon!

As you can see I am the underachiever in this very talented group of writers.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Town Monday -- REVAMPED

I meant to get a My Town Monday post this week but once again failed. I wonder now how for a year and a half I wrote a MTM nearly every single week as well as posted links to all the other participants. I'm not sure what happened in my life that I no longer have the time to commit to the weekly feature, but I was both pleased and grateful when Clair Dickson took over and kept My Town Monday's alive, even starting a blog dedicated to the MTM posts. She along with help from Barrie Summy has done a tremendous job.

But lately I have gotten the itch to blog more about the area I call home ... The Texas Panhandle. And Clair is expecting her first child in June, so after talking things over with both Clair and Barrie we settled upon a new idea. Instead of one person to host and post links why not have four. One for each Monday of the month.

Barrie has volunteered to do the 3rd Monday of each month. I think Clair should do the first Monday of every month. I'll take the second. So I guess now what I am asking for is a volunteer to commit to hosting and posting links to the other participants on the fourth Monday of every month. Any takers?

And yeah I know some months have five Mondays. We'll work those days out somehow and if need be I'll d those along with the 2nd.

If you have no idea what MTM are about here are some links.

The first ever My Town Monday post.

The 25th MTM post and one that includes an easy formula for you to jump in and participate.

My most recent MTM post.

Many of my regular blog readers first visited as a result of a link from one of the other participants so if you are looking to expand your readership hosting is a great way to do so. And I can't begin to tell you how many cool and interesting places and things to do I've discovered by reading the various posts from all over the globe, so if you haven't checked out the archives of MTM please do and if you think you would like to host a week please let me, Clair or Barrie know.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I've Been Telling Y'all

Most of y'all know my personal motto is ... Salad is the Devil.

You know I eat next to no vegetables, or anything green for that matter. Just the other day a teenage boy who is dating a friends daughter told, "I'm just like you. I don't eat veggies, except maybe for a little lettuce on my burger."

As a wisend adult of 37 I felt duty bound to warn him of the dangers. "That's exactly how it starts. A little bit of lettuce on your burger today ... a salad tomorrow, before you know it you're knee deep in boiled cabbage and asparagus. Come one man, Don't you know lettuce is the gateway vegetable?"

Here is a news story that just goes to show you how the mere word salad leads to no good.

FORT WORTH, Texas, May 7 -- Salad bowls led to the arrest of a 51-year-old Texas man.

Federal prosecutors said David Barouch's ex-wife returned home from church last Sunday and opened a FedEx package. Inside, she discovered two salad bowls taped together, containing a six-volt battery and a large bag of what appeared to be gunpowder.

"Taking the bowls apart was supposed to have formed a circuit that would have set off the gunpowder," Federal prosecuter Bret Helmer said. "The detectives determined that these bowls were sold only at Bed, Bath and Beyond."

Detectives found the only nearby location that had sold two of the bowls in the same day during the past month and a review of April 14 surveillance camera footage identified Barouch, of Fort Worth, as the man who bought them.

Barouch was arrested and charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device.

What do you bet she trid to feed him salad the whole time they were married. Sure, he is obviously a disturbed fellow, but I can just hear him muttering as he rigged up his ill-fated contraption ... "Romain, iceburg, that fancy purple crap. She wants to eat salad I'll give her salad."

Yep, pure evil I tell you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Bobber Doesn't Fall Far From The Pole

Until I posted the picture that now serves as the header of this blog, most of y'all had never seen me without a fish in my hand.

For several years my only online image was me holding up this 5 1/2 pound largemouth bass

Then there was this shot of me holding this 6 pound striper.

And last but not least there was the 20 inch rainbow trout which I pulled out of a tiny New Mexico stream.

The best thing about that last shot is that I was about 3o pounds lighter than the other shots thanks to my weight loss bet. Yeah I've since gained most of it back, but at least I've eaten well.

Now I was proud of all those fish and I certainly enjoyed catching them but once you have kids pride begins to take another form. So while the fish in these next two shots are not as big I am even more proud to share them.

My 9 year old, holding a nice largemouth he fooled with a white jig.

You can tell by his expression that he's still got issues with sticking his fingers inside a fish's mouth.

And here is my 7 year old hoisting a sunfish he caught.

Not he is quite pleased with himself and had absolutely no reservations about handling the fish.

Both of these fish were caught near on a friend's land near Shamrock, Texas. About 90 miles east of Amarillo.

Now my youngest son loves nothing more than tormenting his older brother so immediately upon releasing his catch back into the water he stuck his finger up to his brothers nose and said, "Sniff my finger, it has fish smell on it."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Whenever Kindness Fails

It's highly unlikely that the person who broke into my pickup Friday night is a reader of this blog, or will ever stumble upon it. About as unlikely as it is that they enjoyed any of the CD's they stole. But on the off chance I just wanna say, "Hey Dude or Dudette. Among all those Robert Earl Keen CD's you absconded from my center console there is one titled A Bigger Piece of Sky. On it you will find a track title Whenever Kindness Fails. Give it a listen before you go and pawn all my CD's, my phone charger, and my 9 year old son's Nintendo DS. Listen very carefully and know it is my new motto for thieving bastards like yourself."

Heck, I'll even make it easy for you and include the song here on this post.

And I hope you bought something really good with the four bucks my 7 year old earned from his grandma by scoring four goals in his last two soccer games.

Yep ... only when kindness fails.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stormy Waters.

For the last two years I have entered Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award contest knowing I'd not only have to be good, but lucky as well if I wanted to win. This year they split the competition between Adult Fiction and Young Adult Fiction. The adult category closed early meaning they reached their capacity of 5000 entries, so we my pitch, and excerpt feared enough to advance me to the Top 250 I felt pretty good.

Last year I entered the manuscript of my comedic novel, Plundered Booty and it had advanced past the first two rounds as well. Round three is judged by reviewers from Publishers Weekly and save for one line of the reviewer had good things to say about my writing and the novel. However it was clear that the reviewer had not been blessed with a great sense of humor and therefore didn't fully enjoy the comedic flair of that novel.

This year I entered a women's fiction manuscript titled Waiting On The River. At it's heart River is a relationship story. A tale about the various relationships between men and women. As lovers, spouses, brothers, sisters, daughters and fathers. The core relationship is between Blue Riggins, a grieving man whose wife died in childbirth and Lindsay Parker a young woman who ran away from home at seventeen after her father forced her to have an abortion. Tormented by the fact he has neglected his child, Blue is running from the fact that a large part of him wished his wife would have had the abortion suggested by her doctors.

Two character two very different set of regrets.

I thought this type of emotional story would have a broader more commercial appeal. I truly thought I'd stand a good chance to make the Top 50 this year.

And then I got cut.

But I reasoned that with 500 entries there had to be more than 50 really good books entered. Surely book 51 was publishable. Maybe even book 75 or 80. Of course Amazon doesn't rank them so an author has no idea if their entry would have been 51 or or number 250.

However, you do get to read your Publishers Weekly review so I figured that would give me some idea how close I was.

Well, a week after the cut my review finally came in. and in the terms of closeness to that Top 50 I am somewhere on the other side of the Milky Way.

Therefore I must revert to angry pirate talk from this point on.

Her she be. The Full skivvy from them scabrous bastards who dare challenge me authority to dip a pen in ink and set sail upon the literary world. BE WARNED -- SHE AIN'T PRETTY.

ABNA Publisher Weekly Reviewer

A love story that is long on melodrama and short on dramatic tension, this novel traces rodeo star turned champion poker player Blue Riggins and his unlikely companion, Lindsay Parker, on a road trip from Idaho to Oklahoma. The strangers are thrown together when Blue nearly runs down Lindsay while she’s out for a pre-dawn run. It turns out that they have an acquaintance in common, and that connection is enough for them to decide to become traveling companions. Both of them are damaged and running from their past, and neither is willing to reveal the cause of their pain. The author spends much time detailing their inner torment and hinting at an inexplicable bond. The exact cause of their distress is annoyingly withheld from the reader for too long, and when the details are finally revealed, the circumstances do not seem to merit the characters’ brooding. By the time they reach Colorado, Blue and Lindsay have divulged their secrets and hopped into the sack. Meanwhile, the landscape and minor characters pass by without comment as Blue and Lindsay learn, at tedious length, to let go of the past.

Aye, the review ran blood red like the streets of Portabello upon Captain Morgan's invasion, but we pirates are not one to take a scabbard without a fight. I shall live to prove thy 'stablishement has erred. I shall push off from port and find new treasures to plunder. I shall, dip my pen in ink and ply the waters with me next manuscript. A true tale of rotten and wantful lust called The Feedstore Chronicles. Tis chocked full of shady characters, including meself fer it is a coming-of-age memoir with heavy emphasis on that first word if ye get what I'm point me musket at. The critics might sink that ship as well, but you can bet your booty it won't be before I make 'em blush.