Monday, January 28, 2013

Back From the Tropics - Back To Work on HUSH BOY

Returned from a fine week in Puerto Vallarta. Wonderful tropical days with clear blue skies and warm breezes. Spectacular sunsets over the Bay of Banderas, each day's display better than the previous one, all viewed from the west-facing beach front condo's open-air terrace. House-made frozen margaritas to toast each day's end. Enjoyed the Art Walk on Wednesday evening when most of the town's many art galleries are open late and serve wine or margaritas to everyone who drops in for a look at their paintings and sculptures. The artists were sometimes present and eager to discuss their works. A couple of noteworthy dinners: Cafe des Artists and La Leche.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Free Books Available Once Again

I'm happy to announce that the Kindle editions of my two novels, UNANNOUNCED and CONDITIONAL, will be available for FREE DOWNLOAD from on Saturday and Sunday, January 19 and 20. Enjoy the books, tell all your friends about them, and give me your feedback at

Saturday, January 5, 2013

New Novel: First Draft Completed

My new novel, HUSH, BOY, is one giant step closer to completion. I finished the first draft this week and now I've started the arduous task of re-reading, revising, and editing. That should take three or four months and HUSH, BOY will be ready for the world by early summer.

Here's a preview for you--an excerpt from one of Hush, Boy's early chapters. This action takes place on a small farm in South Georgia. The protagonist, Jonathan, is five years old. Madge, his aunt, is ten.

            I knew for sure Mama loved me. She was really my grandmother, but everybody at the farm called her Mama, so I did, too. In addition to everything else, Mama even saved my life one day—saved me from a big ol' rattlesnake. I’d heard there were plenty of rattlers in south Georgia, and I knew we had some of ’em on the farm. but I didn’t know any of ’em were big as the one I ran into.
          Well, on one hot afternoon in the middle of that summer I went down to the barn with Madge to have a look at the new calf. “I think he’s cute, Jon,” she said. “Let’s go look at him. He’s the same color as the mama cow, but he’s a boy. I like him a lot…you will, too.”
          “How do you know he’s a boy, Madge? Did Mama tell you that?”
          “No, dummy, I just looked at him. You know…down there. He’s a boy, like you. He’s gonna grow up someday to be a great big, strong bull.”
          “That’s what I want to do, Madge. I want to grow up big.”
         “You will, silly. All you have to do is wait—you’ll grow up before you know it.”
         There was another thing I wanted real bad, but I didn’t tell Madge about that…that was somethin’ I couldn’t talk to anybody about. I really wanted Granddaddy to love me.
          Madge and me got to the barn pretty quick—it wasn’t much of a barn, just a storage shed and a stall for the cow. When we walked up, the cow’s rear end was facing out toward the stall gate, which was made out of open wood slats. I stood real close and looked in between the slats. The calf had messed up the straw and the dirty smell made me turn up my nose, but I wasn’t afraid. Mama had taught me that cow was my friend and she showed me how to get the milk out of the cow’s udder. The calf was standing up underneath the mama cow, chewing at one of her teats.
         Madge said, “Look, Jon, she’s feedin’ him. He’s drinking the milk.”
         “I can’t see him too good, the way she keeps swishing her tail around like that.”
         “Her tail’s right in your face, ain’t it? Climb up on the gate and jump over on the cow’s back. You can prob’ly see him better from up there.”
          I did what Madge said. The cow didn’t seem to mind. I’d been on her back lots of times before. But, all at once, she turned around with her head facing the open barnyard. She sort of backed up into one corner of the stall, pushin’ at the gate with her head, kickin’ at something in the stall with her hind legs. The calf wiggled around with her, not ever letting go of the teat, but I had to hold on tight to keep from fallin’ down in the straw.
          Madge opened the gate a little way to get a closer look at the calf. She put her hand on the cow’s head to calm her down. Then, all at once, Madge screamed real loud—screamed bloody murder, like she was scared to death. “Lordy, Jon, there’s a great big rattlesnake right there in the corner of the stall. He’s all coiled up and shakin’ his rattle. You hear it?” Madge slammed the gate shut and ran away, ran fast as lightenin’ toward the house. She ran so fast I didn’t have time to call for help or say anything else.
          At first I thought Madge was teasin’, trying to scare me. But the cow was nervous, shying toward the gate, pullin’ away from the back of the stall, kickin’ a lot. She turned around one more time, dragging the calf with her, until she was facing the back of the stall again, her tail end toward the gate, stompin’ around with her front feet. I looked down over the cow’s head and saw her big brown, scared-lookin’ eyes. Then I saw the snake. A great big snake, the biggest snake I’d ever seen. “Shit!” I yelled…that’s a word I’d heard Madge’s brother say when he was scared.
           I was trapped. The cow was too jumpy for me to climb back over to the gate. I couldn’t get down in the stall, the rattler was down there, movin’ its head back and forth, watchin’ for the best time to strike at something. I knew that little calf was a goner if the snake bit him, and I wasn’t much bigger than the calf—that rattler could kill me with one strike.
          Movin’ slow and easy, staring right into the snake’s mean-looking eyes, I pulled my legs up on top of the cow and tried to think of some way to get out of there. I wanted to ease around so I could edge toward the gate, but the cow was stamping at the snake with her front hooves, moving around so much I was afraid I’d fall off, so I just stayed put and grabbed hold of the cow’s ears.
           I was just about to give up when, from behind me, I heard, “Hold on tight, Jonathan. Stay up there, boy.” Thank goodness—it was Mama’s voice. “Don’t try to climb off her back, you’ll fall if you do.” Quiet as a mouse, Mama had crept up to the stall gate carrying a garden hoe with a long handle. “Don’t you worry, hon, I’ll get you down.”
          I twisted my neck around so I could watch Mama. She opened the gate, opened it real slow, holding tight onto the hoe. “Now jump off, Jon. Jump hard as you can, jump right out here behind me. Be quick now, boy.”
          The cow was still doing battle with the rattler, a mama fightin’ for her baby. Quick as a wink, I turned around and pushed off the cow’s back with my bare feet, jumpin’ out through the open gate. I jumped right over Mama’s shoulder like a giant grasshopper.
           I landed hard on my chest, face down on the soft dirt behind Mama. I tried to get right up, but I couldn’t breathe. I thought I must be dyin’ or somethin’, then my breath came back and I saw Mama grab the calf by his head and jerk him out of the stall like he was light as a feather. After that she took hold of the cow’s hind quarters and nudged her backwards right out through the gate.
          The way clear then, Mama walked straight in the stall. She headed right toward the big rattler, holding the hoe out in front of her like a shield, movin’ it back and forth real slow to catch the snake’s eye. Sure enough, the snake struck at the moving hoe, and, quick as a wink, Mama struck back. She moved faster than that ol’ snake, and the hoe blade fell true, chopping off the snake’s head. The cow nosed her calf to safety around the corner of the barn.
          In no time at all, Mama got rid of the dead snake—picked it right up by the tail and threw it way across the barnyard. Then she pushed the frightened cow and her calf back into the stall and closed the gate. She put her arm around me and held me close while we walked real slow back to the house. “It’s alright now, Jon—that rattler’s dead,” she said. “Everything’s okay now. You don’t hafta be scared no more.”