Lights, Camera, Nervousness

So, the TV interview happened. We (Emily, the dog, and I) spent about an hour with Eric Olson of ABC21, which used to be 21Alive, which in my mind was a way better name. Bae was a little taken aback by the camera setup, and by the fact that Eric smelled like cats (according to Eric--I didn't notice it). But once the dog got used to him, Bae wanted nothing more than to be underfoot as much as possible.

Eric Olson interviewed me after my first book was published, all the way back in 2011, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. I don't consider myself a good interview--one of the reasons I write is to avoid talking--but I have confidence in his editing ability, so I'm sure he'll cut out of the worst of my verbal pratfalls.

The interview will be one of the 21 Country segments, which air during the 5:30 p.m. news segment on ABC21 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That's as close as I can come to telling you when it'll be on--but it should be online the next day, at which point I'll post a link to it.

I'm coming close to being one of the most famous living authors presently writing in southwest Albion.

"Say, I haven't read this book since proofreading six month ago ... it isn't half bad!" If you look carefully, you can see Bae investigating, down at the bottom right.

Bill Murray Says This About the Residents of Goshen, Indiana

Bill Murray Says This About the Residents of Goshen, Indiana

Print, TV, and Radio Red

We got our print copies of Radio Red in, and already sent the first two copies to some of our biggest fans: Phil and Cindy Jacob (Phil's on the fire department) and Emily's mom. Since we've reduced the price by a couple of bucks on the website at, that's also the price for anyone who drops by for a copy. (Or we can deliver, if you're close and/or have an extra room at a great vacation spot.)

Meanwhile, Eric Olson of ABC21 is dropping by the house Thursday morning for an interview. Naturally, this triggers a day of tidying up, also known as panic cleaning. So if you stop by my house--don't open any closet doors.

Movie Review: Kong Skull Island

If you’ve gone to the movies this century, you know that you never, never say yes to a mission on a remote island, especially if you’re going with a mix of scientists and soldiers.

But in 1973 nobody knew that, at least not if they didn’t watch Godzilla movies, so Samuel L. Jackson can be forgiven if it takes half of Kong: Skull Island before he says “I’m getting’ sick and tired of these mother frakking monkeys on this mother frakking island!” (Kidding. But if he did say that, I’d be paraphrasing.)

Jackson is Colonel Packard, who commands the military part of the expedition, and for him it’s perfect timing: the Vietnam War has just ended, leaving Packard out of sorts and looking for a fight he’ll be allowed to win. He doesn’t hesitate to join up with a British survival guide (Tom Hiddleston), a war photographer (Brie Larson), and members of the mysterious Project Monarch, including Bill Randa (John Goodman), who knows more than he’s letting on about a strange island surrounded by perpetual storms.

Spoiler alert: There’s a giant ape stomping around on the island.

In fairly short order the humans manage to piss off the ape, who in even shorter order makes (sometimes literally) mincemeat out of them. The saner characters want to get the heck out, but Packard has lost men and goes full on Captain Ahab with this hairy Moby Dick. This even after a stranded World War II airman (John C. Reilly) tries to explain Kong is protecting a tribe on the island—and maybe all humanity—from even more violent beasts, which we learn are called Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms.

By this time many moviegoers are scratching their heads over a strange feeling of deja vus. “Wait—haven’t we heard of M.U.T.O. and Project Monarch before?

Yes, we have: In 2014’s Godzilla, which is why monster movie buffs are in such a tizzy. One of the first movies I remember was Godzilla vs. King Kong, which was released the year I was born (ahem--I saw it later), and now we’re being set up for a rematch.

But back to Kong: Skull Island, which stands up very well on its own, thank you. The cast is first rate, and you’d be hard pressed to tell where the digital effects began, although I’m betting they didn’t have a hundred foot tall animatronic ape on set. The movie was filmed around the world, and some of the scenery is breathtaking, as are the action sequences. Oh, and there’s also a plot, which in general amounts to “How do we get off this island?” and “which monster’s side are we on?” The characters face the possibility that killing Kong might release the island’s other monsters onto the world, but that if they don’t Kong might, you know, kill them.

One warning: The movie’s rated PG13, but it should be R. The violence is pretty intense and sometimes graphic and, naturally, lots of people die. Also, there’s a giant spider. Eek!

If you’re any kind of a monster movie fan, stay for the post-credits scene.

My rating:

Entertainment value: 4 M&M’s. The movie was so fast-paced and action-packed that even the little kid two rows back who would NOT. STOP. TALKING. didn’t ruin the experience.

Oscar potential: 4 M&M’s. Not for actors, cause’ hey—genre movie. But there needs to be some Academy love for effects, cinematography … I don’t know … Kong’s makeup?

Checking out the neighborhood

Bae goes for a ride to survey his domain. Who else is going to keep the house safe from all those suspicious people in the neighborhood?

Oh, What a Tangled Website She Weaves

Emily has the website all set up because ... well, because she's awesome, obviously. Now, in addition to being able to order any of our books at, you can get a signed copy of the newest, Radio Red.

Pro tip: If you order a print copy of Radio Red from our website, you might just get, say, a couple of bucks off the list price. Just sayin'.

But only at And there are other Mark R Hunters out there, so don't settle for imitation.

Also over on the websites you can read samples, check out some free short stories, contact us, read my blog, and rent our dog to troll for dates at the park. I'm kidding about one of those.

Rockabye Baewulf, in Aneshesia

Poor Bae had a rough day. He needed a good teeth cleaning and had to be anesthesized for it, which is a fancy way of saying put to sleep, but that's not a term you want to use when talking about pets. I suggested reading one of my books to him, but the vet thought we should use a more scientific method. Also, the vet refused to buy one of my books.

He also needed to have his nails trimmed. (Bae, not the vet. Well, maybe both.) Now, we don't know what happened to the poor guy before we got him (Bae, not the vet); but one thing we've learned is that you are not going to trim his nails while he's awake. The only time I ever saw him try to bite someone was when they were trying to give him a trim.

So we dropped Bae off at the vet at 8 a.m., with instructions to pick him up sometime between 2 and 5 p.m. We rushed back in at 1:55.

You see, in addition to it being the first time he was away from home without us, it was the first time we were home without him since he first arrived. Mommy and Daddy were very stressed. We were also worried about how he'd handle being in a kennel without us around: When we first got Bae, we had a metal cage to keep him in until he was potty trained, for when we had to go away. It was one of those heavy gauge wire things, designed for large dogs, since Bae weights around 90 pounds.

He tore it apart. That's not a figurative term, he literally tore it apart.

We shouldn't have worried: When they led Bae out the best he could do was give us a weak tail wave and stumble to the car. At home he summoned up enough energy to jump onto Emily's spot on the couch, where he remained. That stuff stayed in his system for hours, while we fed him a little broth and petted him, which he didn't seem to notice. It's too bad this had to disrupt his nap schedule. I myself took a three hour nap, and when I got up he was still out of it.

Next time I go to the dentist, I want me some of that stuff.

"Dude, stop with the pictures. I just want to sleeeppp....zzzzzzzz"

Speak of the Devil: Beware The Wrath Of A Grumpy Big Ape

Looking forward to this one! Hope I have the chance to see it on the big screen.

Speak of the Devil: Beware The Wrath Of A Grumpy Big Ape: “This planet doesn’t belong to us. Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind. I spent thirty years trying to prove the trut...

Well Played, Winter

Crazy mild February (at least, in Indiana). Trees start blooming weeks early, people can take walks without a clothing store worth of covering, we can see the light at the end of the frozen tunnel, then ...


Well played, winter. Well played.

The grand-twins at work

Poor grand-twins: A whole library full of books, and they're stuck doing homework. But at least Emily was there to help with reading!

The photo was taken a few feet from where I gave a talk a few years ago, at the Kendallville Public Library. It's a beautiful place, overlooking a park at Bixler Lake.

Ol' Man Wickleberry Gets Reviewed

The first reviews of Ol' Man Wickleberry are in--well, review--and it seems to be going over well:

Ol' Man Wickleberry probably wouldn't agree, but he's known to be crotchety.

Remember, authors depend on reviews to survive. There was a time when that was literal, as starving authors would read their reviews, then cook them into a mush with a little salt and pepper for those months between royalty checks. That's a lot harder to do since the internet came along.

50 Authors from 50 States: Amy Reade Shares Her Love of Hawaii

50 Authors from 50 States: Amy Reade Shares Her Love of Hawaii: The last time I posted on Fifty Authors from Fifty States, I wrote about New Jersey. And though New Jersey is where I live, you’ll ...

Logan: R Rated X-Men Movie

First off, a warning: "Logan", while technically part of the X-Men franchise, is not what most people would consider a comic book movie, and is not, not, NOT for kids. Of course, there are plenty of movies based on comic books and graphic novels that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. This, in what's probably a coming trend thanks to "Deadpool", is not one of them.

And that's about the only thing "Logan" has in common with "Deadpool". In fact, "Logan" sometimes seems a lot like "The Walking Dead": It's locale appears dystopian, upbeat moments are few and far between, and you get the sense that anyone--or everyone--could end up dead. Also, a lot of people tend to die with things stuck in their heads.

Logan is, of course, former X-Man Wolverine, played with intense weariness by Hugh Jackman and why the hell do people never get Oscar nominations in movies like this? The Academy Awards are pointless if Jackman and Patrick Stewart (as Charles Xavier) don't get nominations. It's 2029, and as far as he knows Logan, Charles, and their helper/babysitter Caliban are the only mutants left in the world. From their Mexican hiding place Charles keeps talking about communicating with someone, but his formidable brain is failing from a degenerative brain disease and he rarely makes sense at all.

It's a wonderful performance from all three of them, and when Jackman and Stewart share the screen it's--well--uncanny.

Logan is now a chauffeur, when he's not bargaining for medications to tamp down Charles' mind-seizures. It's hinted that those seizures, which send his telepathic abilities lethally out of control, may have killed some of the X-Men, while Caliban has his own guilty secret along those lines. As if that wasn't enough, Logan's healing powers are starting to desert him, and he's feeling very much his 200 or so years.

This was all covered in the first twenty minutes. Then the trio's "idyllic" life is interrupted by an eleven year old kid and the private army that wants her, dead or alive. They take Caliban hostage and send Logan, Charles, and little Laura on a Hope and Crosby type road trip, assuming Hope is a ninety year old degenerating telepath, Crosby an ailing alcoholic, and Dorothy Lamour a psycho kid mutant.

Yes, of course Laura's a mutant. And, although Logan spends most of the movie trying to avoid it, she both needs his help and shares a direct connection with him that's pretty obvious early on. Together they cut a swathe from Mexico to Canada, headed for a place Logan's certain is literally a comic book creation.

Okay, but is "Logan" any good?

Yeah. It's one of the best movies I've seen in years--maybe the best, in terms of story and acting. In addition to the actors, the movie should get an Oscar. It won't.

Stewart is emotional and heartbreaking. Jackman is intense in his final pass as Logan, a man who's deteriorating rapidly but still has promises to keep. He's the old Western gunslinger and the movie's a western, and just in case you don't get that, two of the actors actually sit and watch the movie "Shane", which gets a callback at the end. The casting is great overall, the action sequences sometimes a bit long but impressive, the (fairly limited) digital effects seamless, and the cinematography wonderful.

Special notice should go to Dafne Keene, in her first movie role as Laura. At first the kid is mute and mostly glares, something I figured just about any kid could manage. But then ... wow. She waxes eloquently in two languages, holds her own in action sequences and with impressive older actors, and towards the end has a few moments that are just heartrending. If she doesn't crash and burn early, Keene will be an acting force to be reckoned with. (Hey, I was right about that kid from "The Professional".)

You'll want to sit through the end credits (although there's no after-credit sequence), both to collect yourself and for the spot-on Johnny Cash song.

My rating:

Entertainment Value: 4 M&M's. I don't usually prefer such relentlessly dark movies, but wow.

Oscar Potential: 4 M&M's--the good brown ones. No, it won't get many nominations, which is just a sign of how out of touch the Hollywood ivory tower people are. It would be nice to be wrong.

Dogs, Dragons, and Writing Advice

Zora Marie talked to me about author's stuff on her blog this week:

Among other things we discussed time, inspiration, dogs vs. dragons, and marrying book cover designers.

50 Authors from 50 States: Marilyn Baron of Historic Roswell, Georgia

50 Authors from 50 States: Marilyn Baron of Historic Roswell, Georgia: I was born in Miami, Florida, went to college in Gainesville, Florida (Go Gators), and have a vacation condo on the Atlantic Ocean in...

Radio Red: First I Lobster, then I Flounder

A young woman moves from one state to another (with one of those states beginning with an M) and falls for a guy working in communications, who has a silly and sometimes inappropriate sense of humor.

Quick: Is it the plot of my newest novel, or the story of my life? Trick question--it's both!

Okay, it's a tenuous connection. (It's a real word, I looked it up.) The truth is, I wrote Radio Red before I met Emily. Granted, I'm always looking for a way to promote my books, but I think marrying someone just because she comes from Missouri, and my main character is going to Michigan, is a little much. (Still, the male protagonist and I do both talk on the radio for a living, so there's that.)

The other connection is one I didn't notice at all, until Emily pointed it out: My publisher, Torrid Books, scheduled the release of Radio Red for March 7; our wedding anniversary is March 5. Not an exact match, but still, the story's about a couple getting--you know--coupled. What better way to celebrate our marriage than with a romantic comedy?

I mean, other than a lobster dinner and wine.


Buy links for Radio Red (and other books):

Not to mention, of course.

Radio Red:
            Kirsten Veiss is setting a record for bad days: She’s broke, lost in rural Michigan, sunburned, and without transportation after her van hits a deer. When she hears a nearby radio personality making fun of the classical music she loves, it’s the last straw.
            Aaron Debolt just wants to bring classical to a wider audience, and he thinks a shock jock approach might do it. But he’s shocked himself when a sunburned, wild-eyed redhead bursts into the radio station late at night, brandishing—a tailpipe.
            Soon Aaron has his hands full in more ways than one, and Kirsten has a temporary on-air job under the name Radio Red. Now all they have to do is prove she’s not the one sabotaging the station’s operation.