Western Round-Up

4th gunmanI’ve continued to read outside of my usual genres, despite some great fantasy suggestions.

Last year I tracked down and read all of Merle Constiner’s westerns, all of which I liked and some of which I loved, and I’ll have to put a best-of list together. Here’s a write-up of one, although I’m not entirely sure the essayist appreciated it as much as it deserved.

And lately I’ve been reading a lot of Marvin Albert. Except that sometimes Albert wrote as Nick Quarry, and sometimes he wrote as Al Conroy and sometimes he wrote as Ian MacAlister, and sometimes as Tony Rome and sometimes he wrote as, you guessed it, Marvin Albert. And sometimes stuff he wrote under a pseudonym got reprinted under his Albert name. Anyway, I’ve yet to read something by him I didn’t like, and it’s all different. He had six hardboiled private eye novels (with a spicy flare to them, because the dames are always improbably gorgeous) with twisty plots and lots of good action, written as Nick Quarry. I’ve read two and enjoyed them, a lot. He had four series books about a gambler/gun-slick named Clayburn, written under his Al Conroy alias, and I’ve read two and enjoyed those, a lot, — and it’s a different style from his Quarry books. One of the Clayburn novels was made into a movie back in the day. Read More




It’s All About Meeeeeee!

Howard ZebrasNerds On Earth invited me over for an interview the other day. Now’s your chance to learn my secret origin, a few details about the new series I’ve been working on, background info on how I approached writing for Paizo, a thumbnail version of my writing techniques, seven favorite books, and other assorted nerdery! Investigate at your own peril!

Seriously, I had a nice time and I’ve been enjoying poking around their site for the last week or so. You should take a look around. There’s plenty of interesting stuff to see over there.




4th of July in 2017

fireworksWe had a lovely 4th of July here in our tower by the Sea of Monsters. For several days our small selection of chicken drummettes had been soaking in a solution of buttermilk, garlic, and special sauces and those went in the oven until crisp all over (requiring several turns). From the local farmer’s market we had chilled watermelon, corn on the cob (roasted in the oven), and green tomatoes, which my skilled wife breaded and converted into fried green tomatoes.

Said tomatoes were served with homemade remolade sauce, fashioned with homemade mayo, and a lovely homemade orange sauce to dip the drummetes in. On the side was a tasty little salad with some homegrown peas tossed in, and some delicious bread from Cisse’s Bakery — a bit of a drive for us, but worth the trip. And speaking of drives, our old friend Bruce drove down and supplied dessert. Now my wife’s an amazing cook AND chef AND baker, but we do love a Grand Travers pie, especially the blueberry crumble, and that’s what Bruce brought out of the sack. Read More




Martial Fitness

east westEvery Saturday when my wife and I leave the karate dojo we head across the street to pick up horse grain or chicken feed or other necessities for our little farm. We wait to change until we get home, so I’m still wearing my gi pants and tee-shirt emblazoned with East-West Karate when I head into the store. I always stop, though, to remove my black belt before I leave the car. At first I removed it because I was embarrassed by my low color belt (and I shouldn’t have been) but now I do it because I don’t want to appear to be showing off.

I’m proud to have earned that belt, and the second stripe on it that means I have a second degree black belt, and I’m going to be proud when, a few years from now, I test for my third degree black belt. I recognize that being proud is not necessarily something to advertise in a public space, which is probably why I don’t talk about martial arts much here on the blog. In point of fact, though, martial arts are a huge part of my life. I spend far more time writing here about solitaire gaming, which I’ve only recently managed to get in once a week. Whereas I’m at the dojo at least twice a week working out and almost always three times, something I’ve been doing off and on for fifteen years.

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Fantasy Recommendations

hulk thinkHaving noticed that I almost NEVER talk about any modern fantasy these days, and further noticing that I have been reading nothing but books that are at least 30 years old and outside the genre I actually write it for most of the last year, I’m opening up the floor.

Regular visitors, you probably have a sense of what I like. Fast paced, imaginative prose. No padding (knowing today’s market I guess I can suffer through some minimal padding, but not much). Strong characters. Actual heroism and not constant nihilism.

What can you suggest? Tell me about it.


The Perfect Pocket Writing Notebook: Review 3

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

This week I’m reviewing the Rhodia Web Notebook. Although its referred to by some as the “webbie” you’ll never hear me say that aloud. For previous pocket writing notebook reviews or…

New Outlining Thoughts

Monday, June 1, 2015

Just last year I was pretty firmly convinced I had an outlining method that was working perfectly. To be honest, it HAD worked pretty well. It saw me…

The Perfect Pocket Writing Notebook: Review 2

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

This week I’m reviewing the Picadilly Essential Notebook. If you want to take a closer look at my criteria (starting with the fact that all of the pocket notebooks…

The Perfect Pocket Writing Notebook: Review 1

Monday, May 18, 2015

I’ve previously written about the reasons I find pocket notebooks useful, and my criteria for judging what makes one ideal. With all that in mind, from time-to-time I’m going…

The Perfect Pocket Writing Notebook, Part 2: Criteria

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

As I mentioned in part 1, I think a pocket writing notebook is a vital tool for a writer, or at least for THIS writer, and I’m detailing…