Monday, July 30, 2012

MMWUC: Does it ever end?

Never enough on my plate!
Does it ever end? Just so much on a writer's plate these days. There's the rewrites, editing, critiquing, lecturing, discussing, planning, plotting, pantstering, designing, opinionating, talking, grumbling, teaching, sharing, helping, file storing, file recovering, blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, Pinteresting-on-the-donkey, emailing, mailing, dreaming, thinking, murdering (your child, darlings, barking dog next door, protag, antag, character that doesn't work, boss, enemy, the writer who got published who you write circles around), daydreaming, sweating, laughing, crying, examining, researching, replying, arguing (to use quotes or not to use quotes--that is the question), pleading, retweeting, friending, LinkedIning, following, unfollowing, experimenting, quoting, narrating, scribbling, complaining, marketing, lying, truthing, befriending, schmoozing, conferencing, workshoping, and writing.

Isn't a writer's life grand. :-)  Get out there and riff it. Show 'em what you got.
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Still looking for a few guest bloggers so I can be a lazy schmo while on vacation. Email me
Three-toed sloths need to apply now for summer, 2013.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Blog: Building Character Quirks by Amber Colleen

Pieces of You…Pieces of Me…  Building memorable character ‘quirks’

There are many ways to create a memorable characters, one of them is to give your characters interesting ‘quirks’. Where do you find unique and believable personality traits to implement into your character profiles? Start with yourself, your family, your friends and people who catch your attention in everyday life.

Yourself – How do you know if you have any quirks worth writing about? That’s easy. These are the things about you that family members will joke about, tease you about, find irritating or funny and are mentioned over and over. As my son and daughter lovingly point out, I often make jokes that nobody else thinks are funny, and I laugh and laugh at my own humor. In one of my novels,  the protagonist has this same trait and her quirky way of dealing with intense situations through humorless jokes is a big part of her character and also enables me, the writer, to express her thoughts in a engrossing manner.

Another tactic is to incorporate your own hobbies into your characters as long as it adds to the story. For example, my son and I trained for 6 years in martial arts and are both black belts. The main character, Mallory, in my novel Premonitions, also has trained with her son in martial arts. While in most aspects of her personality, she is a regular mom, this gives her the tools she needs to fight the terrorists when she finds herself trapped in a locked down elementary school. Her actions are believable, because she has this background, and I can write intelligently about it because I know it.

Family Members – There is an endless supply of personality traits and quirks within your own family! Every family has those crazy characters that make family dinners and events entertaining or dramatic. My son, age 13, is a quirky kid. He is very smart, but common sense is not among his finer qualities. In the novel I am currently working on, No Such Thing As Coincidence, the protagonist is a super-genius that can hardly function in the world outside his brilliant mind. I took my sons lack of common sense and exploded it into this characters personality. Finding a fun quirk among family members and blowing it up is a believable way to embed interesting personality traits into your characters. Be mindful to make sure the quirks you choose for your characters enrich your story. The super-genius based on my son uses this quirk for intense concentration he needs in his medical research to cure diseases.

Keep your eye open for unique ‘quirks’ among your friends and people you see every day. There is endless material everywhere  you look!
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Amber Collen mothers, thrives, and writes in North Carolina and can be found on her website, Facebook Fan Page, and on Twitter via @amber_colleen
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Want to guest blog on this site? Contact Rick at .

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Red, Green, or Murder by Steven F. Havill

Red, Green, or Murder

It's a crime that I got this book for free. The author should be paid handsomely for this effort with every sale of Red, Green, or Murder. If you like police procedurals, and mysteries in general, this is an outstanding novel for you to read. While some mystery readers might like a faster paced story with harder punches, this one moseys along just right for the pace of life in Posadas County, New Mexico until the squeeze is put on the bad guys. There are so many pretenders out there with five-star ratings that the truly deserving books get lost like a voice of reason in a crowd. This novel is right at the top of the heap and needs to be read.

Steven F. Havill has written a thinking person's mystery that makes you follow along as former Posadas County Sheriff Bill Gaster gets roped and hog-tide (but without too much cajoling) into two investigations that really challenge his and undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman's powers of observations. The clues are so minute in the murder case that only McCloud might have been up to the task aside from these two to follow their common sense when things just don't add up. Some of the excruciating details might be tough on some readers, but that is marrow in the text for readers of police procedurals.

Simultaneously, they tackle a second case, which again shows the patience of the author and Gaster to keep looking at the clues and trying to out duel the thinking process of the bad guys. One of the nicest things about Havill's writing, is the attention given to the minor characters. Their ticks and daily goings-on are so well drawn, it is easy to believe Gaster's 30+ years as a Sheriff in this county and his knowledge of the people he served and protected. He knows the people, knows the place, and understands that investigations and justice sometimes gets accomplished in unconventional ways. And never discount the providence of luck built on the patience of experience to help find the villains. This story is top-notch in its genre and kept me reading long after the wife said, "Shut that light." (The only thing I didn't like was the title--oh, well.) This book earns its 5-star rating.

Monday, July 23, 2012

MMWUC: Memory Flow

"Midnight at the oasis, send your camel to bed. Shadows paintin' our faces, traces of romance in our heads." I don't know why that song popped into my head when I created this file, but it did. It pops into my head quite often. I still have the original Maria Muldaur album and play it maybe once a year on the old recorder player. Hard to believe it is almost forty years old. I even remember the first time I played it, assigned to an army barracks in West Berlin--Ken and Tex wondering what it was because it wasn't a country and western song. Waxing nostalgic, but that's okay. When you get older, that's where story ideas come from--the collision of what was, what might have been, against the backdrop of what it is.

What it was? It was the time I missed the Frankfurt train back to Berlin and would be technically AWOL the next time the sun rose, and theoretically, I could be shot for desertion.

What it might have been? The girl. She'd missed her train to Vienna, "...and then it's on to Venice for a few days, and finally Naples. Mama lives there. You could come and stay and write." We'd been together for five hours. She was cute, in a pixie way, able to squat, bend, and fold her tanned olive skin in so many ways. Her eyes--soft, and brown, caring and innocent. Lips full. A crown of freckles across the bridge of her nose. A laugh--gentle and sophisticated. I wasn't a matinee idol, but was fit, lonely (yes, horny), and over the idea of being in "this man's army." She enjoyed my sense of humor and thrilled that I could do handstand push-ups. (Guys just have to show off.) Even as she boarded her train at 5 a.m., she was still holding my sleeve. I stuffed my address in her pocket and asked for hers. She said, "No. Come now or never. Mama can make it work out. She knows government people." We kissed goodbye. She waved from her window; I waved back. she looked genuinely sad and then beyond me as if she was already contemplating her version of what might have been. Poof. She was gone.

What it is? It is good. Life, that is, but by time you make it to fifty and slip over to the dark side of life expectancy, or sixty and retirement becomes real, or beyond, the past becomes such rich fodder for stories that I don't really have to invent much. I just have to shake the bottle of experience and allow it to flow out differently. And that's where the magic starts all over.

What is your "What it might have been?" And, more importantly, why haven't you written hat story yet?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Blog: Fishing Stories & Fiction by Kim McMahill

Marked in Mexico
Fishing stories. You’ve heard them, and the concept has become synonymous with exaggeration. Not in a malicious way, may I add, but rather an innocent event that after countless retelling and time has morphed into something much more interesting and exciting than the original.  The three-pound fish that took five minutes to reel in eventually evolves into a ten pound fish which battled valiantly for nearly half an hour before conceding defeat to your superior skill.

Reality can make...
This is how many of my real life adventures have sneaked into my romantic suspense novels. I’ve explored numerous Mayan ruins tucked into steamy bug-infested jungles in several countries, yet I’ve always managed to avoid ruthless kidnappers; I’ve pondered the current of the Rio Grande, sticking my toe in to test the waters, but have somehow suppressed the urge to jump into the churning mud and attempt an illegal border crossing; and I have ridden horseback down a terrifyingly steep slope while I clutched the horn with all my might and scenes from Man From Snowy River flashed through my mind, all without a single gunshot from a foreign enemy aimed at me or my trusted steed.

...for a great story.
So, file them away, every last one of those adventures, big and small, and maybe one day they will resurface and after enough repetition become the fodder for that next great thriller or epic adventure novel.
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Kim writes romantic adventure and suspense novels. For more on Kim and her work visit or follow her blog at
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Want to be a guest blogger, email Rick .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Red Baker by Robert Ward

I'm not sure how (or why) Red Baker by Robert Ward ended up as a free download, but I pulled it down. I had never heard of Red Baker or Robert Ward, even though Red Baker was listed as the best novel published in the United States in 1985. Really? The title character is a down and out (mostly of his own doing) laid-off steelworker in Baltimore in the mid-1980s. I've been laid-off five times in my life. I've never reacted like the type of asshole that this guy did.

Nevertheless, this is a good character study of someone missing out on all the signals in his life that people do care about you even when things look their worst. His descent is slow and painful. I would have died twice over with the abuse he puts his body through, and there are times, long before people tire of his antics that I don't understand why they care about the man so much.

While well written (the author's had 27 years to fix any issues with it), I found the ending not terribly redemptive. It was somewhat hopeful, but so many people where hurt along the way that it gives new meaning to forgiveness. Best book in 1985? I don't know, but despite my carping about some of it's deficiencies it is a solid read with a dark, gritty view of Baltimore, serving as both a setting and a character, before some of the renaissance that went into making it a better city. It's a solid 4 for me.

Monday, July 16, 2012

MMWUC - Motivation

Somebody want something from someone.

There it is. Every story ever told distilled to its essence. Your job is to make that somebody (man, woman, child, alien, beast, fairy, goblin, ghost, vampire, werewolf, zombie, monster, microbe, weather phenomena, or God) feel motivated to the reader so that the "somebody" is going to try to get something (a woman, man, playmate, domination, a beauty, a ring, revenge, blood, who the hell knows what a werewolf wants, [duh! brains], a girl in a flimsy nightie, other microbes, expulsion of humans, or that feel good vibe from knowing you can do anything you want. You must make the motivation seem real.

And creating this motivation must extend to the entity trying to prevent the somebody from the something they want. Unless you are writing some bizarre, alternative story (and you're not), than the someone (Yes, Virginia, the someone doesn't have to be a living, breathing thing) blocking their path must have some motivation to stop them. (Yes, Virginia, a wedge of ice can be the someone (physical manifestation), but the real opposition in that story is probably something inside the person, making the somebody and someone the same.)

Why am I blathering on about this? No real reason other than to get you thinking about your characters and what they want. Never forget the motivation. The more main characters you have with specific motivation, the better your story will be. Go watch Casablanca. Go read The Maltese Falcon. Go watch Dogma. What makes these stories tick, aside from other properties, is that all the main characters, and even some of the minor ones, are fully motivated to their goals, even if, as in the case of Rick, the goal changes by the end.

Go forth and write. Make every word and action count. Make Virginia sit up and take notice.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Guest Blog: George Bush - Zombie Zapper

No one wanted to guest blog today. Shame. I guess everything important about writing has been said, restated, and reworked. I guess bloggers now will have to resort to shock value and the ridiculous.

Jeremiah was a bullfrog, but I bet you didn't know that he is a second cousin to Kermit. They used to go jumping and fly catching down in Alabama for years. They got into a snit about a pig once. Kermit lost. Jeremiah hopped away. Kermit got the pig. Years later, my girlfriend served me bacon-wrapped frog legs. It was delicious.

That's all I've got. I guess I'm allowed an off week once in a while. It's not like I'm a politician and have to be responsible all the time. I think I'll go and work on my next novel now. Y'all write well.

The title for today's blog. Yeah, well, remember that shock value and ridiculous thing I wrote about.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review: Moonlighting in Vermont

I rarely knock a book down an entire star for the production value, but the author needs to hire someone who can sniff out the errors before publishing. The production value of this e-book did hurt my enjoyment of an otherwise decent short novel. Moonlighting in Vermont won the 2009 Daphne du Maurier award for excellence in the Mystery/Suspense category from the Romance Writers of America. I can only assume they were reading the paperback version.

I liked the kind of nutty tenacity the heroine, Bella Bree MacGowan, has toward her situation and life. Although, the Rachel Ray look-a-like "without the benefit of a hair an makeup stylist," seems very unpractical in other ways. How many times does she have to slip in the mud before she gets boots appropriate for the muddy environs? After a while, the gag isn't funny. Like most amateur-by-circumstance sleuths, she continually puts herself and others in jeopardy. That is to be expected and most of these incidents are done in a reasonable approach. The romantic scenes are well done. The search her boss's killer, despite the fact that she found the body, loses some traction in favor of the romances (real, imagined, or thought about) in her life. Finding the body made her the #1 suspect, and the investigator, who may or may not have the hots for her, keeps her locked in his sights almost to a creepy, draconian level.

She's self-sufficient and boldly frank for a romantic lead. Good. It is a romantic-mystery, but the mystery plot aspect is thin. Being in the presence of cops, talking to them, being put in awkward situations with them does not make a mystery, and the mystery is only solved by bumbling and accidental incidents that seem slightly contrived. The reveals in her interview with the killer (with the killer's lawyer present) are just silly. Reading between the technical issues, the writing appears to be fine. The paperback is probably a good read and worthy of a solid 4 for the romance; the mystery is less intriguing with one major twist, but little for true mystery buffs to chew on. Don't expect to be happy with electronic version, and, therefore, a 3.

Monday, July 9, 2012

MMWUC: Top Ten Ways to Become a Good Writer

We were kicking around some thoughts about becoming a writer--the top mistakes beginning writers make, the top mistakes experienced writers make, the top mistakes Rick makes, and so on. It started sounding like a list. I'm an anal-retentive Capricorn of German descent--I like lists. Here's mine. What's yours?

9. Read! Never be caught without something to read--at a stoplight, in a bathroom, between commercial breaks on the television, standing in line, as your significant other recovers from your awesome love-making abilities, on a lunch break, in your sick bed, while fishing, or before you go to bed.

8. Grammar! You need to know the grammar rules so you can bend them responsibly and make us sit up and take notice of what you've done without questioning your ability to malign the language thus allowing us to remain focused on the story.

7. Live! Never miss an opportunity to do something new no matter how insignificant the activity seems. Much writing is about the juxtaposition of opposing ideas. It is nigh impossible to create opposing stimuli in your writing if your life is a clean slate or follows a singular path in the idea forest.

6. Critique! Being able to spot deficiencies in the writing's of others by critiquing responsibly opens your mind to the same problems in your writing. Learn by sharing your opinion about other texts and seeing the opinions of others in yours.

5. Toughen! Get thicker skin. You will write badly. You will be told about your bad writing. It happens to everyone. Learn from what others are saying to you with grace not anger. Don't believe me? Top Ten Ways to Become a Good Writer #5.5: Read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King.

4. Understand! Be responsible for your own sins. One of your goals as a writer should be to put the editor out of work. These are your words, and you don't want anyone else to muck with them. (No offense to editors. Love you guys.) Try Manuscript Makeover or Between the Lines or your favorite.

3. Devour! Read at least half of the books from these two all-time lists. You may chose a different list. It doesn't matter. Read great books to see what has worked, works, continues to work, and will always work in telling a tale. Then, write your own literary masterpiece.

2. Be! Surround yourself with people who like to read and write so you live as a writer and think as a writer. Pick their brains for ideas, likes, and dislikes. Immerse yourself in the life of writing. Writers write! Pretenders dream about what it will be like "to have written."

1. Write! Just like a musician jamming with friends, riffing an idea can lead to magical results. Stop crying for an absent muse; stop blaming your life, wife, or emotional strife. If the idea is in your head and not on paper, it's not a story. Writing is the only way to say you have written.

Every writer learns and grows at their own pace. You may be brilliant out of the box--a teenage sensation and perceptive beyond your years. However, more likely, it will take time to master the craft (10,000 hours, a million words, three novels under the bed, whatever). God help you if it takes as long as it's taken me to get a book published, and that might be the tenth way to become a good writer--perseverance.

Finally, check out this interview of Bud Rudesill for an example of being.

Write on, Garth!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Guest Blog: Author Judith Stanton on Researching

Before the Internet revolution I did academic research in major archives and rare book rooms in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. Archivists became my best friends. Then I published six historical novels, and loved researching them too. For my seventh novel, a contemporary equestrian suspense, I thought I knew the sport of three-day eventing. But now that it’s done, I could footnote several things I found or verified by research on nearly every page. Research is like a mine shaft, and you dig down to find your diamonds. A few carets (or carrots if you want to feed the horsey):

First, JFGI—Just Google It. Google brings a world of knowledge to our fingertips in the blip of a picosecond. If the answer’s not on the first page, you probably need to refine your key words. But powerful as Google search engines are, be sure to keep an open mind. Late in my new novel, an emergency medical helicopter lands in a pasture to evacuate a gravely injured rider. Thwomp, thwomp, thwomp the rotors go. Very dramatic. Googling helicopter landing behavior, I found that their “sliders” touch the ground on landing. I popped in the word, proud to have uncovered a term of art. Not so. In a final proof before publication, one of my readers, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, gently told me they’re not “sliders” but “skids.” Sliders are horizontal gizmos on the control panel that allow the pilot to adjust for trim.

Second, do old fashioned research. Release your inner OCD. Check out books. Subscribe to magazines or on-line blogs for in-depth history and up-to-the-minute research. If your gig is fashion, hook up with the fashionista blogs, the fall and spring designer shows, Vogue, W, Elle, whatever. If you’ve got guns and hunting in your story, a plethora of blogs, ezines and conventional magazines can bring you up to speed. You might end up subscribing to Guns and Gardens. (They pay for articles.) I subscribe to three horses magazines and follow a couple of forums and several seriously informative blogs around the world.

Third, do field research. Go where the action is. I volunteered as a jump judge and dressage scribe at competitions, met experts, made friends. I regularly visited big competition barns and soaked up competitions, the heartbreak and breakdowns, the victory and defeat. I stood around at horse trials in March when it was 40 degrees tops all day. Then a cold rain started, I’d not packed my slicker, and the best horse-and-rider teams I’d come to observe were yet to run the course. In June, I’ve stuck it out in 104 degrees with no shade on the arenas. Or in April, I raced home with tornadoes touching down and torrents of rain slowing me to 15 mph, no other idiot in the road. All true!

Nearer home, my new best friend is my wonderful county sheriff. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask local experts what you need to know. You may well be the first novelist they’ve met, and wow, do they love to answer your questions and tell their stories.

Fourth, let the action come to you. Honestly, I can't recommend this. I didn't need for my horse to throw me midway the novel’s third draft for me to better polish a scene where face meets dirt! Despite my state-of-the-art safety helmet, I was knocked out cold. Didn't need the doctor to diagnose a concussion. The 4-day headache told me all.

I didn't need to pulverize my left ankle to learn firsthand how many days it would take for purple bruises to climb my calf almost to my knee and seep down to my toes. (About a week, if you're serious about verisimilitude.) Then the green and yellow transmutations--about a month in all.

Nor can I recommend the intruder episode just after Christmas, when I went for night check at the barn to find a stranger frozen in a fetal position under my mare’s feed trough. Dead, I thought, and ran to the house--pulse racing, check, mouth dry, check, knees watery, hands shaking too hard to dial nine-one-one—check, and check. Can use all that in the book. Right. It was only a short wait. A deputy sheriff's cruiser drove up our long driveway, and then the EMTs.

They were incredibly solicitous as they took notes and milled around me, not questioning my story. "You sure you're alright?" "Yes,” I said, “but I ran." "You did the right thing." I was, after all, the good guy, the rational citizen, who’d been startled in the night.

The deputy was fearless too when he took out his gun and canvassed the barn, feed room, tack room, the loft, then called into the darkness, "This is Chatham County Sheriff's Department. Come out of the woods." It almost didn't matter that the “dead” dude was long gone.

And then there was that giant box of an emergency vehicle, sitting in my driveway, engine purring, waiting to rescue me, or my intruder, twice as big and white as any I ever passed on the road. But it's all in my book, the vehicle's size, the EMTs support and courtesy, the relief, when you're the one who’s done no wrong guy, that they're there for you, larger than life, but regular people too.
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Judith Stanton
Horse Woman, Author, Editor, and Lecturer
Coming Summer 2012–“A Stallion to Die For: an equestrian suspense"
—Qualifying for the Olympics can be deadly for woman and horse.

Monday, July 2, 2012

MMWUC: Summer Reading

Yesterday, a writerly associate asked how my summer reading was going.
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I'm continuing, I told him, to plow through self-published or faux self-published books. I put up reviews on the blog every Wednesday. I want to read more novels; I want to read more polished novels. Most of the self-published writers have good story ideas, but fail to realize the full potential of those ideas, though there have been some gems. However, writing really takes a toll on reading, as does the extensive gardening I do. Family takes up too much time. I married into a large family (59 direct descendants and growing from my m-i-l an f-i-l). The family has, at least, one "emergency" every 36 hours. And being an available writer at-home, it means... 

"Well, you're not doing anything are you?" my brother-in-law says when he calls me up.

"Well, yes I am. I'm reading Wind Over Troubled Waters by Francene Stanley & Edith Parzefall."

"Yeah, yeah! That's not as important as the hanging toenail I have. Those things can really hurt. Cousin Iggy says you're the only one who clips toenails with precision."

"Comes from cutting coupons out of newspapers so I don't starve."

"Oh, you're so funny."

I fail to see the humor in my comment, but trudge across town nevertheless and, "OMG! I've seen bears in the wild with better maintained toes. We've got to get you to a doctor."

Seven hours later, the battery on my kindle has long since died. The guy with the arrow through his mid-section can still only lie on his side. His elbow is propped up on a fat book to stabilize his position. He stares at me with hatred while doctors in some remote corner of the hospital mull over what to do about his situation. The women nearest him hasn't moved in four hours; she may be dead. I hear a power saw every now for a few seconds at a time. I wonder if it's related to my in-laws toenail issue; those things were gnarly and massive.

It's 2 a.m. Two other relatives came and went hours ago. "We've got work in the morning. You can write any time." I've been through the twenty "Us" magazines. It takes only four minutes each, and that includes reading the articles. I still think Zooey Deschanel is the hottest woman out of all the twigs with cloth between the pages. It's amazing how much there is to say or photograph about the same person in each publication. As long as she's there, it's tolerable.

The first drunk spills through the door. The bars have closed. An orderly mops him up. Squeegees him onto a chair. Two more drunks come in: one has a bleeding black eye. Drunk Number 2 is the happy kind, laughing and joking with the no-nonsense Admission's Clerk. However, when #2 sees Arrowman, he gets quiet.

"I saw dat 'afore." He walks toward Arrowman, who looks concerned.

Just then, an orderly wheels my in-law through the door in a wheelchair. He then disappears with Bleeding Eye back through the same door. Dead Woman sucks in a breath. #2 hovers over arrowman just as the two doctors who looked at Arrowman hours ago arrive. My in-law says, "What are you waiting for? Let's go."

#2 yells, "Son of Cochise. The movie. They had to remove an arrow." He grabs the arrow from behind Arrowman. Arrowman screams, "What the hell do you think you're doing you damn idiot." The doctors run toward Arrowman. My in-law screams, because he's a screamer. #2 snaps the arrow in half. As the pointy end drops to the floor, he reaches around Arrowman and pulls out the feathery shaft end from the front.

"Mother of God," screams Arrowman, as he socks #2 in the face. #2 hits Dead Woman with a flailing arm. She snores awake. #2, still holding the arrow, falls backwards into my in-law. The jagged point of the arrow sticks into his fleshy thigh. He's screaming like a woman in labor with a twelve pound baby. An orderly grabs #2 and holds him down. The doctors run to Arrowman who's up and holding a bloody shirt to the front hole made by the arrow.

"Man. That feels a lot better. And cheaper than what you yahoos would have charged," he says to the doctors. He heads to the door, trailing drops of blood across the waiting room. The doctors beg him to stay. He refuses.

A rent-a-cop takes away #2. The Dead Woman is asleep again. The doctors take away my brother-in-law to deal with the arrow sticking out of him.

Brother-in-law yells, "You should have learned more about cutting toenails."

They whisk him away, but still I hear him wail, "This is all your fault, you bum." Then one more plaintive plea comes from down the corridor. "Wait for me."

Seems that you are always the bum when writing is your job and you're a self-published writer, waiting for your turn on the New York Times best-sellers list. Respect comes first from outside the family. But all is not lost, Arrowman had been leaning on War and Peace. Finally, something to read. My summer reading is not a lost cause.
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So, whatcha reading this summer that you can recommend?