Sunday, April 8, 2018

BIGFOOT CSI is on the loose!

It's finally out! BIGFOOT CSI is the novel I've been working on for way longer than I care to admit. I started it years ago, before we even moved away from Illinois, then things got busy when we got to our new home in Georgia. Poor Bigfoot was pushed to the side too many times. I even finished a couple other projects in the meantime and published the adult novels SAUCY GIRL and DEAD GIRLS DON'T GET FAT.

No matter what happened, I couldn't stop thinking about Sasquatch. It was like he was lurking in the woods of my subconscious, waiting to stroll across the path when I least expected it--and when I happened to be without a decent camera--just like a typical cryptid.


So I buckled down and finished the book. Now it's published, and the whole world can read it! Please, Whole World, read it!

This is a funny, exciting novel about 16-year-old Piper O'Connell who has just learned that she's part of a secret sisterhood of girls and women who are born with the skills to protect the race of bigfoot from human hunters who seek to expose them. The job is dangerous, the hours stink, and Piper gets paid in trinkets like dead animal parts and shiny stones. The only perk is her tall, dark, handsome, and genetically complicated partner, Sam. Piper is intrigued by him, but she's reluctant to meet his mom, who's 7 feet tall and lives with a pod of other bigfoot in the Georgia mountains.

Piper is kept busy "scrubbing" the bodies of dead bigfoot near her small town of Senoia, Georgia, and she must solve the mystery of who is killing the creatures before her friends--and maybe even Piper herself--become the murderer's next victims.

Please check out BIGFOOT CSI and please write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. This book is the perfect companion for those long, cold vigils in the woods waiting for Bigfoot to show himself. Enjoy!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Review of MONSTERS AMONG US

I'll admit to being creeped out by parts of this book, but it was so cool, I couldn’t put it down.Author Linda S. Godfrey has compiled accounts of encounters with both cryptids of various kinds and unexplained phenomena. For anyone who doesn’t know, cryptids are legendary or supernatural creatures like Bigfoot, the Lock Ness Monster, wolfmen, etc. They are the focus of the field of cryptozoology. These creatures might exist, or they might not, but if they don’t, it’s surprising how many people claim to have seen one.

Godfrey starts her book with wolfmen/dogmen/transformation stories. My favorites include the dog-headed guy who was sitting in the backseat of a limo. He looked like a normal German shepherd, until he raised his human arm and propped it on the car window. I also liked the woman who transformed into a wolf-like creature in the middle of a Sunday church service. Church Lady appreciated showmanship.

There are lots of other cryptids represented throughout this book, including everything from Bigfoot to werewolves to UFOs. There are plenty of odd phenomena, too, like footprints appearing in the middle of a snowy field, all manner of unusual lights, and portals that allow creatures from who-knows-where to appear and disappear at will.

MONSTERS AMONG US uses a consistent approach when examining the cryptid and unusual phenomena stories. Typically, the author has been contacted by someone who claims to have seen something unexplained, and she interviews that person. Sometimes the incident was witnessed by multiple people, in which case, the stories from all witnesses are compared. Each incident is catalogued with its date, time, location, weather conditions, etc. in an effort to provide as much information as possible while ruling out alternative explanations for the phenomena. For instance, the sighting of a doglike creature that occurs at dusk might be easier to misinterpret than the same creature in broad daylight.

This is an intriguing collection of cryptid tales that has crept into my subconscious. This morning, when I accidentally dropped a spoon, my first thought was the old superstition that says dropping a spoon predicts that a child will be visiting. My second thought was that I hoped the visiting child wouldn’t be some supernatural monster that tumbles out of a portal onto my front porch. 

There’s another book on my to-be-read list called BLACK EYED CHILDREN  by David Weatherly. I can’t wait to read it, but the inevitable sleepless nights are worrisome. Almost as worrisome as uninvited cryptid kids showing up because of one stinking dropped spoon….



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Walk Up Not Out



The Walk Out movement is an effort on the part of kids to keep attention on the problem of shootings in American schools by walking out of class. Students feel they must try to stop these assaults, since adults haven’t done anything to end them

An alternative that's been suggested to walking out is walking up. The idea behind Walk Up is that students should walk up to a fellow student and offer friendship and kindness. It’s that simple. Invite a kid to sit at your lunch table; pick the kid for your gym team who never gets picked; say something nice to the kid who seems upset. The hope is that these actions might keep others from feeling isolated and angry.

Regardless of its ultimate impact on school violence, I love the idea behind Walk Up. Ten years ago I wrote a novel for young readers called FULL TO BURSTING that’s about a seventh grade boy who moves to a new city and uses Walk Up-style strategies to make friends and improve life for kids at his school. It’s a hopeful novel about the benefits of thinking outside the box to make your small corner of the world better.

I’ve always loved this book, but after some near-misses with traditional publishers, I eventually self-published it under a different title. The other title and the old cover never worked for me, and I never did much promotion. Finally, a few months ago, I decided the book needed another chance, so I gave it a round (or three) of edits, added a new cover, and went back to the original title of FULL TO BURSTING. It’s now available as a free ebook download on Smashwords.com. Here’s a direct link to the page https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/210724 where you can use the coupon code and download for free. It’s on Amazon, too, but it’s not free. It’s not a Kindle exclusive, so I can’t make it free on Amazon. The best I can do is 99 cents.

I’m also trying to figure out how to offer it as a free download on my website, but right now I’m nursing a sinus headache, so that will have to wait for another day. The advantage of Smashwords is that you can choose which format you want to download. (Kindle, PDF, etc.)

If you know any kids (or adults) who would enjoy a funny novel about how an average 12-year-old managed to improve his life and his school, please download and share. I’m in the process of putting together a print version of the book, although that one can’t be free because it costs something to have it printed.

Please be kind to each other.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Cinder: The Book Review


CinderLately I’ve been obsessed with reading Young Adult fantasy novels. This genre has a special place in my heart because the first novel I ever published was a YA fantasy story called Stones of Abraxas. Now I’m about to release another YA fantasy story called Bigfoot CSI which (spoiler alert) is about Bigfoot. I’m enjoying the YA novels that I’ve been reading, so it seemed like an ideal time to write some reviews of these excellent books.


Cinder is the first book in a four-volume YA science fiction/fantasy series by Marissa Meyer. The series is  loosely based on the fairy tales Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. This is an engaging series that focuses on the exploits of a 16-year-old cyborg girl (i.e. she’s human but has some metal body parts) living in a futuristic version of China. Or maybe it’s Japan. It’s hard to tell because the world is very different in this future where there are only six countries which all live in peace after they signed treaties to end the wars that decimated the world as we know it today.

Through an unlikely series of events, Cinder the cyborg girl meets and falls for the handsome young prince, who is being pursued for a marriage alliance by the evil (and much older) queen of Luna (i.e. Earth’s Moon). Did I mention there are people living on the moon in this version of reality? The Lunars, as they’re called, have developed mind control abilities that allow them to manipulate the weak-minded (including all humans living on Earth) into doing their bidding.

In addition to the evil queen, there’s also an evil stepmother, an evil stepsister, and a kind stepsister. And there’s a dreadful plague that’s killing off humans by the thousands. Cinder’s only real trusted friend is an android who seems to have more humanity than any actual human we meet in this story.

Cinder’s life is pretty crummy, and she’s eager to escape. But if she escaped, that wouldn’t make a compelling tale, so instead she has to stick around and try to solve her problems. And, boy, does she discover that she has problems! Big, ugly, Luna-sized, cyborg, traitor-to-the-crown problems. And the prince she’s crushing on doesn’t help matters. In fact, his poor judgement and absurd decision-making skills only exacerbate her long list of challenges.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and was eager to dive into Book #2 (Scarlet). It was disappointing that Cinder’s love interest was basically a useless pretty boy, but as a 16-year-old girl, Cinder can hardly be expected to withstand the charms of a rich, powerful, handsome guy who is clearly smitten with her.

This novel draws readers into a new and intriguing world as it sets the stage for the remaining books in the series. You’ll find yourself cheering for Cinder and reaching for Book #2 when you turn the last page.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Bigfoot Reading List

I’ve been reading a lot about Bigfoot lately. My novel BIGFOOT CSI will be coming out this spring, and I’m busy doing final edits on the manuscript and trying to get the word out there in social media. In the process of doing these things, I’ve run across some excellent books about people’s encounters with not only Bigfoot but also a wide variety of other cryptids. 

Did you know there’s something called Black Eyed Children? Apparently these troublesome urchins show up at people’s doors wearing old fashioned clothes and ask to come in. They all have big black eyes with no whites in them. They insist that if you let them in, “it” won’t take long. I get goose bumps just thinking about it. This is precisely why I never open my door. I’m hoping Amazon’s drone technology will soon be able to drop supplies down my chimney because I’m running low on bourbon.

Speaking of cryptozoology books, author Tom Lyons gave me a copy of his book LIVING AMONG BIGFOOT: FIRST CONTACT. As the title suggests, it’s about the author’s alarming encounters with a mysterious creature when he moved to California. I eagerly turned the pages of this book. Part of it focuses on the author’s efforts to settle into a new home in a new state, while part of it details experiences that most new homeowners are never subjected to. Granted, most homeowners would prefer to wrestle an angry Sasquatch than deal with the cable company, but having to do both just adds insult to injury.

This book picked up on a couple angles that emerge from some of the other fascinating Bigfoot accounts I’ve been reading. For one thing, in some books, the creatures are more human-like in that they walk upright. In other stories, the creatures are more dog-like and have a preference for walking on all fours. These latter creatures are sometimes called Dogmen for obvious reasons. You’ll have to read LIVING AMONG BIGFOOT to see which kind the author saw.

Another thing I find intriguing about the Bigfoot literature is that there’s a touch of magic surrounding the creatures. By magic, I don’t mean wands or spells, but the ability to move more quickly than any normal creature and evade capture either on film or through traps. Some Native American stories suggest that Bigfoot lives partly in this world and partly in a spirit world.
These are the kinds of things I’ve been working on lately, and it’s terrific! Creepy, interesting, mysterious, and overall fun. Thanks to Tom Lyons for sharing his book with me!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Random Complaints about the Olympics

I’m in a mood to complaint today, so this blog will be a collection of minor annoyances about the Olympics. Feel free to add your own complaints in the comments section. You know you have plenty of them. Just keep it clean; your grandmother reads this blog.

1. I feel sad for that poor French ice dancer who had a serious wardrobe malfunction on live, international television last night. Sure, it’s the kind of horrible luck that could afflict anyone, but there are some precautions you can take to avoid stuff like this. Particularly, don’t choose an outfit that uses only one small snap behind your neck to protect your assets from exposure to the whole wide world. It’s hard to believe that the costume designer didn’t learn that lesson on Day One of costume design school. Always have redundant systems to protect those assets! How about two or even three snaps? A zipper? Maybe adhesive cups under the costume in case something goes horribly awry?2. Since when do they have skiers in the halfpipe? Is this new, or have I just been missing it all these years? It looks weird because I’m so used to the snowboarding. Which is harder? Who knows/ I’ve never been able to work up the courage to even get on a ski lift, let alone take it to the top of a mountain and somehow get off to slide down. The tow rope on the bunny hill taxed my limited skills.
Image result for curling image 3. Russian athletes are competing under the Olympic flag instead of the Russian flag because apparently some of them had tested positive for doping.. Many Russian athletes were still allowed to compete, because they had not tested positive for drugs. Today it was reported that one of the Russian curling athletes who’s still in the Games tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Curling!?! Their sport consists of sweeping while gliding at low speeds. Who needs steroids to do that? At this point, it seems like the Russians aren’t even interested in achieving anything—they’re just curious what they can get away with.

4. The winter landscapes in South Korea are beautiful, but it makes me cold to look at them. After spending years trying to survive the frigid, windy wasteland of Chicago winters, just the sight of an ice cube tray can give me goose bumps. Winter sports would be much more pleasant if they happened during the summer.

5. Some of these sports are ridiculously dangerous, and it makes me wonder what the point is. During the women’s slalom, for instance, every single skier who came down the mountain did so while the commentators listed the athlete’s serious recent injuries. Just now, a halfpipe ski woman limped off the course after crashing on her last trick. I thought exercise was supposed to be good for you, but certainly not if you’re an Olympic skier. Or the luge. Don’t even get me started on the luge.

Less than one week to go until Olympics 2018 is nothing but a collection of statistics to be largely forgotten until commentators bring them up during the next Olympic Games. Enjoy!