By next season her foot will be healed

Last regular day of the season up at Pokagon State Park! Emily says goodbye to the horses ...

Nice weather ... For now

Walking Pokagon State Park in shirt sleeves on Halloween weekend, with half the tree foliage past its peak and half still green. Wow. 

I babble when I anthologize

I’m working on a short story for an anthology planned for January, because I don’t have enough to do. So far I’m having a lot of fun with it—unlike my book-length works, I didn’t outline this, so it veered off to strange places.

Part of the fun for me is that I’m connecting the story to another literary effort of mine, at least a little. The big announcement for that will come out in my first newsletter, as soon as I get a few more subscribers. (You can subscribe at If it hasn’t come out by the time of our author appearance on November 16th (at the library in Albion), you can just show up and pry it out of me—I’m a notorious blabbermouth in person.

(Well, Emily says I babble when I’m nervous.)

(She also says I parenthesis too much.)
"I know you're writing, but ... what about me?"

Speak of the Devil: The Secret Origin Of Rosebud

Speak of the Devil: The Secret Origin Of Rosebud: I have an image blog today. Enjoy!

Some days you're the fire, and some days you're the hose

Over the last 24 hours: I can’t get my blogger text to change color, someone else’s book ended up on my Amazon Author’s Page, the link is broken to two books on our website, the chiropractor used my back as a trampoline, and the election is still on.

Tis the season--ow!

Celebrating the season -- and getting shots -- at my doctor's office.

The Cubs Goat Gets Its Goat Got

In 1906, the Chicago Cubs won 116 games, a Major League baseball record. They lost the World Series to the Chicago White Sox but then won the next two, becoming the first team to appear in three consecutive World Series.

Their last big win came in 1908. It was all uphill from there.

71 years ago, in 1945, they got into the World Series for the last time. During game four Wrigley Field officials ejected Cubs fan Billy Sianis, who had two box seat tickets: One for him and one for his goat. Apparently one of them stank. When he was thrown out Sianis declared, “The Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more”.

And they didn’t.

And that, kids, is why the Cubs being in the World Series is such a big deal. You want to make history, but you don’t want to make it the way they did in the last century.

The Cleveland Indians haven’t won the Series themselves since 1948, but the Cubs have them beat by twice as much. I have to root for the most underdoggie of underdogs. Incidentally, my wife works in Steuben County, Indiana, which is exactly halfway between Chicago and Cleveland. Apparently for decades, late at night in Pokagon State Park, you could hear the sound of baseball fans’ dreams shattering.

So, how long has it been for the Cubs?

The last time the Cubs won the World Series was also the year Ford rolled out the first Model T. It was the year of the first commercial radio transmission.

That was only five years after the Wright brothers took to the air for the first time. In 1908, Cellophane was developed. It would be five more years before the zipper was invented.

No one had ever heard of the Titanic, which wouldn’t sink for another four years. Arizona wasn’t a state, not to mention Hawaii or Alaska. No one had ever heard of Wheaties, Wonder Bread, traffic lights, or bubble gum.

The guy who played the first Doctor Who was born in 1908. That’s the longest running science fiction TV show in history, although TV hadn’t been invented yet. In 1945, the last time the Cubs went to the World Series, Doctor Who wasn’t even a gleam in anyone’s eye.

 In 1945 the microwave oven, Slinky, and Tupperware were invented—the first modern, room-sized computer wouldn’t come around for another year. 1945 was full of history, as the Allies won World War II and the atomic age began.

The last time the Cubs went to the series, we did not yet have the bikini, disposable diapers, kitty litter, Velcro, or the TV remote control. Al Gore had not yet invented the internet, which is fine because there was no personal computer, microprocessor, or RAM.

I found all this on Google. They didn’t have Google. They didn’t even have the milk carton.

So yeah, it’s a big deal. How big of a deal we’ll find out in a few days, but be warned, Cubs fans: So far as I know, the goat never forgave them.

Speak of the Devil: Rising From The Dead And Still Grumpy

Speak of the Devil: Rising From The Dead And Still Grumpy: “Knowing my brother-in-law, he probably deserves whatever you’re about to do to him. But this is my house, and I have certain rules ab...

Author Appearance Coming Up

We just got confirmed for an author appearance at the Noble County Public Library’s main branch, in Albion. Emily and I both plan to be there (with bunches of books), from 3-7 p.m. Wednesday, November 16. More detail will follow, but mark your calendars … or, Mark and Emily your calendars … whatever makes you remember it.

50 Authors from 50 States: Cowboy, Actor, Marine and Multi-Genre Author, Ken ...

50 Authors from 50 States: Cowboy, Actor, Marine and Multi-Genre Author, Ken ...:  I was born in the east Texas oil boom town of Kilgore. It just happened to be where we lived when it was time for me to make my appe...

An Agent of Progress

As you all know from my incessant harping about it, I have some major publishing news to announce first on my newsletter—as soon as I have ten new people sign up for the newsletter, which hasn’t been active much up until now. (The signup is over at We’re about halfway there.

Because I’m comfortable with how things are progressing on new projects, I thought I could take some time and go the traditional route with some other works. With my YA mystery Red Is For Ick and my SF novel, Beowulf: In Harm’s Way, I decided to take up the slow, laborious, and often fruitless process of searching for a literary agent.

The good news is that most agents are okay with an author submitting to more than one of them at a time, which speeds up the process. (But only a little, because I take the time to research agents in my search for the right match.) The bad news is that at any one time, there are about two billion agentless authors for every agent who’s looking for a new client. Maybe three billion.

Anyway, once I exhaust all the agents who might make for a good partnership, I planned to go direct to those traditional publishers that accept unagented submissions. Then I would consider independent publishing. Thinking that far ahead shows that my confidence in the traditional publishing process has eroded over the years.

The steps of publishing are measured in weeks—best case scenario. More likely months. Once an author sells a completed manuscript, it’s still often years before it comes out in print. So earlier this week I sent out some queries, along with outlines and sample pages, then moved on to other writing work. No sense waiting by the virtual mailbox.

Within less than 24 hours I got a request for a full manuscript.

I told you that whole story just to show how rare this is. It’s also by no means a guarantee of representation. I’ve received requests for fulls before: Only once did it lead to me getting an agent, years ago, and that didn’t work out. Statistically speaking, I might be no more likely to sign with this agent than the Cubs are to get into the World Series.

But stranger things have happened.

Speak of the Devil: So You Want To Conquer Death?

Speak of the Devil: So You Want To Conquer Death?: With Hallowe'en coming, I thought I would review three films appropriate for this time of year. This is the first. “I do know ...

TV reviews: The Good Place/Timeless

My wife and I budget our television, since we have so many demands on our time such as writing, doctor appointments, playing with the dog and, oh yeah, working for a living.

As a result, we don’t take on too many new TV shows, even if they sound interesting, Generally we only start a new one if one we already watched gets canceled, as happens all too often. So far this year we’ve only checked out two new shows:

The Good Place. I will watch anything with Kristen Bell in it, even if she’s a singing cartoon character (which she was—wonderfully). I’m also a big fan of Ted Danson, so a show joining the two was worth checking out. Turns out it was worth checking out the worth checking out.

Bell is Eleanor, who finds herself in a—well, good place—after dying. The only problem is, something is horribly wrong—and it’s her. Eleanor is just a nasty person, who’s well aware she doesn’t deserve to be in paradise. She soon realizes that mistake is throwing her surroundings into chaos, so she sets out to improve herself, aided by her mistakenly assigned soul mate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper).

Danson plays Michael, who’s an angel, or something, assigned as architect of this little heaven of three hundred or so perfect people. It’s Michael’s first creation, and when things start going wrong he’s puzzled, then panicked. Turns out nobody can play panicked like Ted Danson, just as nobody can play nasty like Kirsten Bell.

I wasn’t sure how they’d manage to continue this concept, but after several episodes it’s getting better and better as we look into the past of all these perfect inhabitants, and realize none is so perfect, after all. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much I’m convinced it will soon be canceled. That’s been the fat of every star-centered show we’ve liked in recent years (for instance, Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams/Sarah Michelle Geller.)

Timeless. I’ve said before that I love a good time travel story. We’ve only seen a few episodes of this one, but they put a great twist in as the characters seek to prevent history from being irrevocably changed—and fail.

Temporarily, I assume. The story concerns a terrorist—or is he?—who steals a time machine and sets off to change the past. Naturally Homeland Security gets involved, assigning an historian, a soldier, and a scientist to go back and stop the bad guy. Abigail Spencer is great as the driven historian, who has exactly the same reaction I would to looking up and seeing the Hindenburg fly overhead.

The story’s fun, if heavy on the plot holes. I think when you’re talking time travel you have to dedicate yourself to the suspension of belief, or you’re stuck with the “why don’t they just send a different team back an hour earlier?” problem. It’s also just a bit too much on the serious side, but this show has Supernatural pedigree, so maybe that will change.

Overall I like the cast and setup, and the effects are good enough for a TV show, so we’ll see. After all, shows don’t get canceled before they have a chance to find their footing. Do they?

College in Autumn

This photo is actually from a few years ago when Emily was still in school, but Indiana University-Purdue University has been in the news lately (not necessarily in a good way). The time of year is about right! This is the Liberal Arts Building, if my rusty memory serves.

I really loved being down at IPFW, which is easy for me to say because it was Emily who had to actually pass the classes. I'd find a nice spot and write, and there were lots of nice spots. I wrote several columns and the majority of two books—maybe three—while she was in school. For a writer, there's something to be said for leaving behind the distractions and errands of home.

Plus, the library was awesome.

One last mow

There's something great about mowing the lawn in mid-October ... for one thing, it means you're not scraping ice or shoveling snow.

Sign Up For My Newsletter, Get a Million Bucks*

*Offer only valid on Earth 2. 
After much thought, or at least as much as I usually have, I’ve decided to make my mostly inactive newsletter less inactive. That requires people to sign up for it, so I’m asking you—yes, you, there looking at your electronic device—to sign up. Don’t deny it: I saw you looking at your electronic device.
No doubt you’ll want to know what’s in it for you. Good question. Let me come up with something …
Okay, I’m back. I figure I’ll give a little original and exclusive content. Say, a short story, or a humor piece, or a photo of something interesting and/or cool. Oh, and a picture of the dog. He’s very photogenic.
We’ll send it out at least once a month, but (except rarely) no more than once a week. More often when some event or book release approaches, but no so often as to get people mad, because it’s really not that hard to find out where I live.
Also, subscribe to the newsletter and you’ll be the first one to get author news stuff, like releases, sales, giveaways … dog pictures … I’ll think of other things. Like big recent publishing news I have right now that I haven’t told anyone about yet … stuff like that.
Hey, that’s it! Sign up for the newsletter, and as soon as I get, say, ten new subscribers, I’ll tell you all about the big publishing news I just got.
Sure, I’ll tell everyone, eventually … but aren’t you at least a little curious?
It’s over on the webpage at The best way to subscribe to our mailing list is to go toward the bottom of the page, where it says “subscribe to our mailing list”. No, your e-mail address will not be given out to anyone, ever, unless someone offers me at least five million dollars. Ten million. Also, the moment I get fifty new subscribers I’m going to have a free book giveaway, just for them.
And that offer will be valid on this Earth.
Did I mention he's very photogenic?