Resolved: No New Year's Resolutions

I don't do New Year's Resolutions, mostly because failing is a terrible way to start a new year.

If you're going to make a major life change, it's usually best to do it gradually. A New Year's Resolution is like someone who never exercised deciding to run a marathon--tomorrow. Get healthy? Absolutely. Go cold turkey on cigarettes and snack food on January 2nd? Well, that's why violent incidents go up on January 3rd.

Having said that, for some people stopping all at once is the only way to accomplish something, and I'm all for accomplishing something. That being the case, if you want to make a resolution and be serious about it, more power to you. Just remember, the proper response to nicotine withdrawal is not second degree murder. Not even third degree.

Well, maybe third.

For me, the best time of the year to make life changes is spring. Why? Because in spring, I care about life. In January, all I care about is turning the oven on low, wrapping myself in a blanket, and climbing inside. It's the only place I can get warm. I really don't care what's happening elsewhere, and I wouldn't go out at all if I didn't need to make money to pay the gas bill. If I did make a New Year's Resolution, it would be to fill up the Ford's fuel tank and just Escape south until I drive into salt water.

Okay, I've got the dog, the wife, and my best Bermuda shorts: Gulf of Mexico, here we come!

But spring ... I could do spring. Things are looking up. Green stuff starts appearing. There's sun, except during basketball playoffs, when for some reason there's always ice.

What's up with that? Why is Hoosier Hysteria always accompanied by "Midwest ice storm--film at eleven"?

Sure, sometimes I go out into an April sleet storm, but generally things are looking up. Sometimes the snowpile at the end of the Wal-Mart parking lot even melts away by Independence Day. I'll walk out the door on March 21st and say, "Now I want to lose weight and give up Mountain Dew! I'll start tomorrow."

I gave up drinking after my 21st birthday party, which they tell me was a blast. I never did smoke; but with my addictive personality, if I started they'd have to bury me with both hands clutching a pack of ... I don't know, what brands of cigarettes are they still selling these days? I can't imagine walking a mile for a Camel.

Maybe that's the thing about the New Year: I never got addicted to making resolutions. But hey--there's time for me yet.

"What's this crap?"
The only real resolution I have for this year--which I sincerely hope is better than last year--is to keep on writing. My plan for 2019 is to publish two new books (at least--we'll see) and write at least one other new one. That, and continuing the submission process for some already-written manuscripts, should be enough to keep me out of trouble.

And promotion. *sigh*

(Speaking of promotion, don't forget to check us out at, or see links to all our books at this post: ... Happy New Year!

The Drive-In Movies In The Dead Of Winter

I've been contemplating the fact that I wrote a novel set at a drive-in movie theater in early summer, and released it at the beginning of winter.

Wishful thinking, maybe? After all, I'm known for wanting to skip the cold months.

There are two ways of looking at this:

1. Maybe in the dead of winter people would like to think about the kind of weather that would allow you to to sit outside and watch a movie.

B. Maybe I screwed up.

I also wrote part of the novel while sitting outside at a drive-in movie theater, but that's another story. It's definitely useful to soak in the atmosphere.

In any case, it doesn't look like we'll sell a hundred copies by January 1st, which implies people might prefer to read a summer novel in the summer. (I won't know the numbers for sure until I start getting sales reports. Also, because we haven't ordered a print run yet, I'm counting anyone who said they wanted a hard copy when it's available.) It also means I won't have to embarrass myself with the public poetry reading or the old photos, although to be honest I was kind of looking forward to it. Maybe we'll try again next month, when the seasonal overload starts to ebb.

Personally, I think a fun story set in summer could help us through the winter blahs.

Coming Attractions should be up very soon on our websites, In the meantime, here's a list of where you can find the book online:

Happy birthday to my favorite Christmastime daughter!

Happy birthday to my youngest daughter, Jill!

She was kinda boring on day one, but she got better.

She used to go by Jillian, but apparently she's all grown up now, or somethin'.

Her sister Charis tried to teach her basketball, but her jump shot was terrible.

Last year she got an early Christmas present that was pretty much the greatest, not to mention the most expensive.

Wait, that's the practice baby from high school! Good training.

Maybe that's why this year the most practical present would be a plus sized case of one-year diapers. But that's okay, because she gets that first present all over again whenever Lillianna smiles.

Say it with me:  Awwwww!!!!!

Which she doesn't do for me nearly awesome enough; we need to work on that.

"Dad, Mom, stop posing and let me eat cake!"

Well, I may be a grandfather times three now, but I'll always be dad. Many happy returns!

Two daughters! Yay!

Other photos were okay, but they seemed to lilac something.

Santa Claus on the naughty list

T'was the night before Christmas when I met my partner, Mary Darling, for our Christmas Eve shift in the City of Angels. "Merry Christmas, Darling." The squad room's halls were decked.

"Feliz Navidad," replied Darling, who's been taking Spanish lessons. "Looks like we'll have a white Christmas."

"Maybe it'll be quiet, and we can spend the night at the station, rockin' around the Christmas tree."

But our wonderful Christmas time was interrupted by a radio call.  Darling listened to the dispatcher, then turned to me. "Do you hear what I hear?"

"Yeah," I said. "Grandma got run over by a reindeer. Looks like somebody's going to have a blue Christmas."

We took a sleigh ride to Candy Cane Lane, where we found Grandma under the tree, being treated for facial injuries. "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth," was all she'd say, but we had two witnesses: her granddaughter Noel, and Noel's boyfriend, a rap singer who went by Little Drummer Boy.

"It was a burglary," LDB started to say, but Noel wanted to be the first.

"It was Santa, baby," Noel said. "I saw it, too. I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus. When Grandma caught them she chased him, but she hadn't put on her Christmas shoes and he got away."

"So the reindeer didn't run her over?" Darling asked.

"No, she tripped and fell into the holly and the ivy. You can see how her white gown now has greensleeves, and forget the Christmas shoes; she fell so hard her slippers are up on the housetop.  Just ask Frosty the Snowman, he was there."

But Frosty had gone home for the holidays, and I began to suspect there was more to this than what could be put into the morning pretty paper. "Noel--Noel? Did you hear anything before the attack?"

"Yeah, I heard someone say "Here comes Santa Claus! Then I heard jingle bells, and I figured Santa Claus was coming to town."

"Did your mom say anything?" Darling asked.

"Just 'Santa, Baby'." Then they saw Grandma come in, and Santa went running out the door. The last thing I heard was him yelling 'Run, Rudolph, Run!' Then I went out and saw Grandma got her jingle bell rocked."

Little Drummer Boy put his arm around Noel. "Let's go in--baby, it's cold outside."

But she shrugged him off. "let it snow. I saw you flirting with our neighbor, Carol, under the silver bells. I heard you offering to bring Joy to the world. You just want to be the man with all the toys."

"No, baby--all I want for Christmas is you."

"Yeah, I bought all that when you gave me silver and gold last Christmas. But it doesn't have to be that way."

I couldn't believe it. Do they know it's Christmas? Well, there wouldn't be any peace on Earth tonight.

I'd walked out into the silent night, to where Grandma had been found in the snowfall. But there were no other footprints in the snow, or sleigh tracks. Santa Claus may be back in town, but he hadn't been here.

But Little Drummer Boy was wearing a red parka. "I don't think you're telling me the whole truth about Santa, baby." Reaching out, I drew the parka hood over his head. "Noel, does this look familiar to you?"

She gasped. "Hey--Santa!"

Under the tree, Noel's mom shoved away from grandma and growled, "Fine, you caught us ... the Little Drummer Boy was giving me a holly jolly Christmas, all right? I didn't want to be all alone for Christmas, and he was on my grown-up Christmas list."

I shook my head. "But don't you see that Santa Claus is watching you?"

"Yeah?" She smirked at me. "Well, he's seen a lot, if he's been watching the last twelve days of Christmas."

"Mom!" Noel gasped. Then she turned around and slugged LDB in the mouth, right under the mistletoe.

"I hear bells," LDB said as he faded out. It would be a silent night for him.

Later, after we filled out the paperwork, I asked Darling, "Mary, did you know?".

"Oh, I knew LDB must be Santa." Darling took a drink of eggnog (non-alcoholic--we were on duty), and added, "He really got his halls decked."

"Yeah, I'll bet he harked the herald angels sing."

It looked like LDB and the mom had something else in common: They wouldn't be home for Christmas. For the rest of us, it's the most wonderful time of the year. But for them?

Well, I figure they got nuttin' for Christmas.

For the rest of the shift we got our one wish--no more Grinches. As for the rest of you: We wish you a merry Christmas!

The birthday girl

For most of my life, the first day of Winter has left me miserable. I hate cold; I hate the long nights; I hate snow (except on December 24th and 25th, then I'm done). For me winter is like suffering pain so extreme that you block it out. Then, three great seasons later, it shows up again and wham! Instant misery.

Then I met my wife.

Just to be clear, she wasn't my wife when I met her.

 Her birthday, December 21st, is usually the first day of winter. Now I think of that day differently. From that point on, all the days are a little brighter.

People will argue about opposites attracting, but Emily and I are very much alike in many ways. We tend to be introverts; we love traveling to new places, but we're also antisocial and like sticking around at home. We love to read, and we're very much science fiction/fantasy nerds. We love to be outside ... when it's not winter.

My tenth published book just came out, and half of those books would never have seen the light of day without her. By rights, her name should also be on most of them, not only for the work she does in editing, formatting, and cover creating, but for her willingness to kick me into gear. For some reason writers love to write, but hate getting started writing. I have no explanation.


 She's an animal lover, and talked me into getting a dog. Lazy as I am, I'd never have done it without her; but now we have a third member of the family. Fourth, if you include the snake, but never mind.

Just to make it clear, that is NOT me on the left.

She's not perfect, but what the heck--she's more perfect than I am.

By now I assume she's used to how horrible I am at special occasions, but hopefully she also knows how much I appreciate her. The day I met her on a writing website, when she thought I was a woman (long story), turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I love you, Emily.

More reasons why books are the best Christmas gifts

This would seem a good time for a reminder that books are the best Christmas gifts. Yes, even for non-readers: In fact, books owned by people who don’t read are not only great re-gifts, but when not re-gifted they’re the books in the best condition. No dog-ears, no food stains, no bent pages … pristine. Two hundred years from now, they'll be in such great condition you can resell them for enough to make up for inflation, if you should happen to still be alive.
In addition to that, books:

          Never talk about politics unless you want them to.

          Can be effective weapons for self defense, especially if written by George R.R. Martin.

          Make bookcases more useful. In bookcases used for a figurine collection, a few books between the ceramic angels can keep you from having to rename your furniture.
Can be hollowed out to hide contraband and/or listening devices.
Require no batteries, unless they contain listening devices.
Almost never rot your brain ... depending on the book.

          Don't have to be read in a crowded book theater; there's no guy sitting right in front of you yakking into his cell phone, unless you have kids. Send the kids to the movies.
Never go offline during power outages, assuming you have backup lighting. If you don’t have backup lighting, are you really smart enough to read?
Support local authors. Well, support local authors if the authors live near you. But they're local for someone, aren't they? Even Anne Rice lives somewhere. I assume. Or you could support me, which would make me happy, and don’t you want to see me happy? I thought so.
If you’ve heard horror stories about shopping this time of year, you could always go to our website at This gives you a choice of several books in five or six different genres (because I just can’t seem to keep my mind on one thing), with prices ranging all the way down to free (for Strange Portals, anyway). It’s like Black Friday somehow turned into bright December.

So that’s my pitch, and if you spread the word I promise I’ll continue to be funny and entertaining.

 Okay, I’ll try. But even if I'm not, I'll always have books.

A new excerpt from "Hoosier Hysterical"

I noticed a little uptick in sales for Hoosier Hysterical last month, so in the service of shameless self-promotion I decided to throw you a little excerpt from Chapter Three of the book. (Actually, I do feel a little ashamed when I self-promote, but I'm trying to get over it.)

Why Chapter Three? Well, you probably haven't seen that part unless you've actually bought the book yourself.  And even then you may not have seen it. My idea is to build sales uptick on sales uptick, and before you know it: an interview on "Good Morning, America".

Is "Good Morning, America" still running?

Also, I went to all that trouble to learn how to spell "excerpt", not to mention double checking the definition, so I figured I should make it worth something.

(Also because we've officially started another history related book project, but more about that later.)

As all fourteen of my regular readers know, Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All is an illustrated humor book about Indiana history and trivia. The book is illustrated, not the humor.

Chapter Three:

You Say You Want a Revolution?

So our story of Indiana in the American Revolution starts in Kentucky, and goes to Virginia. 

Haven’t you ever gotten lost on a long trip? 
Not That Clark—The Other One 
George Rogers Clark was a surveyor, and one of the first people to venture into what would be Kentucky. When war broke out, Clark went to Virginia, which claimed most of the lower Midwest at the time, and met with a governor by the name of Patrick Henry. 

“Hey Gov, can you help me raise an army and kick Henry Hamilton’s hairy hind end?” 
“Oh, sure, I’ll just hand over money to a surveyor with no military service, so you can leave the real fighting and wander around an Indian infested wilderness nobody cares about.” 
“Exactly! Thanks, Governor!”
“Okay, let’s work on your sense of sarcasm.” 

Clark gathered up about two hundred farmers, who brought their own rifles and knives but no uniforms—just buckskin clothes. They reached Indiana at the Falls of the Ohio, which means I’ve mentioned almost all the future states along the Ohio except Illinois. Then they went to Illinois. 

Specifically, this untrained rabble of farmers and trappers decided to attack a fort at Kaskaskia, which at the time was on the east bank of the Mississippi River. (Now it’s on the west bank, surrounded by Missouri—long story.) It would, clearly, be a disaster. 

They took Kaskaskia without firing a shot. 

French settlers remained in the area, and they promised to support Clark if he, in turn, promised to guarantee them freedom of religion. He said “Sure—we’ll work it into a constitution”, and together they marched through frozen swamps back into Indiana, where they found the fort at Vincennes unoccupied. 

Clark renamed it Fort Patrick Henry, possibly to guarantee the Virginia governor would keep the supplies coming. But up in Detroit Henry Hamilton heard about it, and led an army that took Vincennes-Patrick Henry back—again, without firing a shot. Hamilton renamed it yet again, so it became Fort Vincennes-Patrick Henry-Sackville. 

Clark didn’t like that. Patrick Henry probably wasn’t thrilled, either.

 It goes without saying that Hoosier Hysterical and all our books can be found at, and on Amazon at, and other fun places including the trunk of my car, and yet I said it anyway.

Emily and I previously conspired on--ahem--co-wrote two other history related books and a collection of my humor columns, so I'm calling us semi-pros. 

A Christmas short story for ... well, Christmas.

If any of you who subscribe to the newsletter didn't get it today, check your e-mail spam boxes ... that's where I found my copy.

 My annual thank-you to my readers, here's a short story prequel to Coming Attractions.


Granddaughter's first birthday party

Party for Lilli's first birthday!

A mermaid theme. Why not?

Our present to her, continuing the Oz family tradition.

"What now?"

"Oh--and I'm walking!"

"Dad, Mom--Let us eat cake!"

Well, that didn't last long. What's next?

Christmas Parade Pics

Just a few pics from this year's Albion Christmas Parade, which--as you might imagine--happened in Albion. And by a few I mean the only ones that came out even close to clear, because my camera handles temps in the 20s about as well as I do.

There were a lot of Jeeps ... in case of deep snow, I assume. Ironically, it's been snowing far to the south, leaving us with nothing but cold.

This vehicle was made entirely out of black pine, which is amazing. Or, possibly, it's the entry from Black Pine Animal Sanctuary.

This vehicle was just driving down Highway 8 when two rare white deer ran out and jumped right onto its trailer.

Hope floats. Which is a word play, for those who remember that movie.

Jason Brown is the best elf in town, although I'm puzzled about why he's not on a shelf.

It's Frosty the Snow ... Thing ...

I always seem to catch Santa going--which is fine as long as he leaves chocolate.