How to make Donald Trump go away


When will the media make Trump get off his ass and earn this thing?

Dear media,

I need your help. America needs your help. Donald Trump must go, and I have a plan to make that happen that doesn’t involve a pistol, a large trunk, and stretch of desert in Nevada.

This is so simple I can’t believe you people haven’t thought of this yourself. Stop doing interviews with him over the phone! He does about 90% of his appearances this way. If you all would just start acting like professional grownup journalists and demand he come into the studio like every other candidate, then he’d go away. He’s too entitled and lazy to get off his ass and come to you. We all know that, and that’s perfect. That’s what we want. Frankly, he doesn’t deserve the presidency if you’re not going to make him work for it. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s how this goes. Trump needs media attention to run a successful campaign. You people don’t need him to run a successful media outlet.  He’s somehow convinced you it’s the other way around. Did he do a douchebag mind trick on you people or something?

Make him earn the spot as GOP front runner. Don’t hand the damn thing to him!


Somebody who shouldn’t have to tell you how to do your job!

The Actuals: Book Seven of the Oz Chronicles – Chapter Two


When the world ends, a fresh cupcake will be the most valued currency.

I’m posting two chapters so closely together because I posted the first chapter so late. Normally, I anticipate about a week between each chapter.

So, if you’re keeping score, I should have a new chapter up next Saturday.


We ate Ted in the parking lot of an old Whole Foods.  Number 21 even found some tortillas under some bushes near the dumpsters which was a major score.  We each got three Tedtillas.  Number 6 came up with that name.  She was some kind of comedian in the old world. Got paid to tell jokes, of all things. That’s major weird to think about because she’s really not that funny. Maybe she was before. Who knows?  Tedtilla wasn’t a bad joke.  We all had a laugh about that.

After I ate my last Tedtilla, I got permission from Cutter to take some PT (private time). I didn’t mind the others in our group, but they stunk. Bad. If dog crap and an onion had a baby, the dump that baby took would smell better than every one of The Actuals, including me.  Staying clean just isn’t practical when you spend your time looking for food and running from monsters.

I headed up the street and walked until I came to a row of shops. A cupcake place caught my eye. The smart part of my brain told me that there weren’t any cupcakes inside. There was just no way.  But my tongue was watering just looking at that cupcake on the sign. The dumb part of my brain was saying, “Dude, it’s cupcakes. There’s probably something in there. A couple of crumbs, some old frosting, whatever. Do it!”

As dumb as that part of my brain was, it made a lot of sense most the time, so I went inside armed with Chewy, a baseball bat with about a dozen big nails hammered through it. A couple whacks with that thing chewed just about anything all to hell.

As per usual, the place had been destroyed. There was broken glass all over the floor.  A bunch of chairs were twisted into knots like pretzels.  Tables were broken into pieces.  Blood and all kinds of mess were all over the walls.  It was just in a sorry, sorry state.

The display cases were all empty. There wasn’t even a hint of a cupcake.  I moved to the register and made my way to the back, still listening to the dumb voice in my head. “Go on,” it said.  “There’s like a secret stash back there or something.”

I didn’t call out for anybody because I was afraid somebody or something was going to answer in an unpleasant mood.  I was skinny as a board, a condition brought on by living in a world that provided fewer and fewer people to eat every day. I’d never say so out loud, but I lacked any real power behind my bat swings. My best weapon was surprise.  I stepped through that little shop like I was sneaking up on a bad situation.

I pushed the door to the small kitchen open as slowly as I could. My nerves nearly shattered when I heard the hinges moan.  I flattened my back against the door and tightened my grip on Chewy.   Small rays of dust-filled light carved their way through the darkness and turned the pitch black space to gray.  I could see shapes, the sharp corners of a countertop, mixing bowls scattered here and there, an industrial-sized oven, everything you would need to make and bake sweet, delicious cupcakes.

That voice in my head said, “Cup-friggin-cakes, dude!  In the oven! Guarantee it! They were popped in before the monsters tore this place apart. The timer was set. Monsters ate the employees. Oven automatically shut down when the timer hit double zero.  Simple cupcake math!”

That stupid voice made so much sense it was insane. Of course there were cupcakes in the oven.  Never mind that they’d been in there for like years or decades, however long ago the world had ended.  There were cup-friggin-cakes to be had, and I was going to have them. Stale, hard as a rock, moldy, I didn’t care.  They were cupcakes.

I stretched inside the kitchen and reached out with Chewy for a bag of flower that was on the floor near the counter. After several awkward seconds, I was able to bring the bag in close enough to reach down and scoot it by hand and place it in front of the door to prop it open.

When I stood back up, I got a head rush.  Three small Tedtillas didn’t do much to fill me up and curb my appetite.  I’d be strong as an ox if I could just get to those cupcakes that I was sure were in the oven.  Gathering my strength, I moved inside the kitchen on unsteady feet.  Chewy had become heavier in my hands, and I kept re-establishing my grip.  I was going crazy with thoughts of cupcakes dancing in my head.

I reached the oven, wiped the sweat from my upper lip, and opened the thick door.  The dim light didn’t allow for any visibility past the first three or four inches into the oven.  I squinted and tried to will myself to see inside the dark pit, but my will couldn’t beat back the blackness.  I huffed out a couple of nervous breaths and quickly reached my hand to the back of the oven.  I frantically waved my arm around in order to quickly cover the interior terrain of the industrial appliance.   Nothing.

I yanked my arm out and punched the door after pushing it shut.  Not one lousy cupcake.

My heart jumped when the small amount of light disappeared and the door to the kitchen clicked shut.  I twirled around and managed to lose my grip on Chewy. A startled breath filled my lungs as the wooden bat bounced on the ceramic floor.

I spoke for the first time. “Hello?”

No reply.

Clearing my throat. “Is anyone there?”

Still no response.

“I’m with The Actuals,” I said, as if that mattered.

Just as I was about to let myself believe that the weight of the door had simply outdueled the bag of flour and slammed shut, I heard a crash over my head and then felt the sensation of a fine powder raining down on me.  The bag struck me on the shoulder as I breathed in a cloud of flour and coughed. Unless the bag of flour had thrown itself at me, there was definitely something or someone in the room with me.

“I am number 17! Mess with me and the rest of The Actuals will hunt you down!”

A metal mixing bowl flew across the room, and I dropped to a knee.  Chewy was back in my hands before another mixing bowl was hurled in my direction.

“What do you want?”  I asked.

I blindly smacked the counter in front of me with Chewy.  “I’m serious! Do not touch me!”

A grunt.  Not a person.

“Ok…” I said slinking back into the darkness to the area past the oven. “So it’s going to be like that.”

Another grunt.

I found myself in a small narrow hallway.

A series of chatters, like a rattle snake shaking its tail.

A false step sent me stumbling as I backed into a mop and bucket.  I barely kept my feet.

More eerie chattering.

My elbow crashed into a doorknob.  A numbing sting soared down to my fingertips.  I shook my hand and cried, “I just wanted a cupcake!”

The door behind me opened, and I felt a hand grip the back of my collar and jerk me into a room.  I heard the door shut as soon as I cleared the jamb.  The dull light from outside poured through a tiny window, and I could make out a toilet and sink.

The hand that had pulled me inside the small room pushed me to the back wall. I turned with Chewy at the ready.

“Sunshine Carter?”

I saw a girl aiming a loaded crossbow at my chest.  “Who are you?”

“Are you Sunshine Carter?”

I was too stunned to answer her.  I stared at her face trying to place it.  How did she know me?

“Answer me.  Are you Sunshine Carter?”

She was pretty.  At least I think she was. It was hard for me to tell. Hanging out with the Actuals as long as I had made just about everything ugly. I may have thought she was pretty just because I wasn’t surrounded by the other Actuals. “What if I am?”

“Then I won’t shoot this arrow through your eye.”

I snickered.  “Well, then hell yeah, I’m Sunshine Carter.  Who wants to know?”

She hesitated.  “Prove it.”

“Prove what? That I’m Sunshine Carter? How the hell am I supposed to do that?  I don’t exactly carry ID with me.”

A thud came at the door, but the girl didn’t react at all.

“Look, I’m Sunshine Carter.  I swear.  I’m from Fullerton… I mean… you know?  When people used to be from places, that’s where I was from.  My mom’s name was Carol…:

Another thud, louder.

I was rattled even though she wasn’t. “My pop’s was Carl.  They were Carol and Carl Carter.  They used to say that got married because they realized their names put together was a tongue twister. Nobody could say it three times fast. It’s like the lamest thing ever.”

“I don’t know your parents’ names.  They didn’t tell me that.”

Another thud followed by the sound of the door cracking.

“C’mon!  This isn’t a really good time for twenty questions.” I motioned with my head toward the window. “Whatever is out there is going to be in here soon.  I say we crawl out that window.  You can go first.”

“I just crawled in that window to get away from something worse than what’s behind that door.”

I muttered a swear word or two.

“Brush back your hair,” she said.

“Do what?”

“Your bangs.  Brush them back so I can see your forehead.”

I hesitated and then did as she requested.

She leaned in and studied my tattoo.  Lowering her weapon, she said, “You’re him.”

I relaxed as much as I could with God knows what banging on the door.

She threw a fist into my nose.

“What the hell did you do that for?” I asked trying to stem the flow of blood.

“Because I know what you just ate, you disgusting pig!”

I tilted my head back. “You knew Ted?”


“Then why are you so mad?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with me?  You just broke my nose!”

“I broke your nose because you’re a filthy cannibal!”

Another thud and the wood door splintered.

“Ok, it’s like cute and junk that you got some weird thing against cannibals, but we need to come up with some plan on how to get out of here.”

She rolled her eyes and whistled. The banging immediately stopped.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“Weird thing against cannibals? You are sick!”

I inched closer to the door.  “Did it go away?”

“They have to have made a mistake.  You cannot be the one I was supposed to find.”


She put her hand on the doorknob.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m getting out of this room!  It’s way too small, and you smell putrid.”  She pulled the door open.

“But the thing… It’s out there.”

She ignored me and exited the bathroom. I stood motionless waiting for her to be attacked by whatever was out there.  Several seconds passed and there was no loud crashing noise or her screaming for her life.  I focused my attention on Chewy and stared at the nails to draw courage from my trusty weapon’s iron teeth.  After collecting enough nerve, I stepped into the small hallway.

“Hey! Girl! Where are you?”

I took a step and stopped when I heard the chattering.  It was just behind me.

“It’s behind you,” the girl said standing near the kitchen door.

I nodded and said with a bone dry mouth, “Yeah, I kind of figured.”

She opened the door to exit the kitchen.

“Wait,” I said still afraid to move.

She groaned. “What for?”

“Aren’t you going to call this thing off?”

“Call it off? What makes you think I can do that?”

“Before when you whistled…”

“Okay, what if I can call it off?  Why would I want to?  You’re a disgusting cannibal.”

“Look, I don’t know what your problem is with cannibals…”

“The fact that you don’t know what my problem is concerns me even more.”

I felt a hot breath on the top of my head.

“O-o-okay, I’m sorry. It’s just what we do, you know. It’s like just food or whatever.”

She groaned again only louder. “No, it’s not like just food or whatever.”  She turned to leave.

“Wait!  Wait!” I felt my knees start to buckle.  “You said somebody sent you here to find me.  Right?  You said that.”


“So, so, so, you can’t just let this… whatever it is eat me.  You’re supposed to find me.”

She didn’t answer right away. I could barely make out her face in the dim light, but I could tell she was mulling over my point.  “You’re puny.”

“I’m bigger than you.”

“You don’t seem that smart.”

“I can figure stuff out with enough time.”

“And you eat people.”

“Yeah, we’ve covered that.  What’s your point?”

“My point is I just don’t see your value.”

I felt the thing behind me moving in closer.

“I-I-I have value.  I mean I’m with The Actuals.  They don’t just take anybody.”

She sighed. “Still… I was sent to find you, and they’ve never been wrong before.”

“Right-right… they’ve never been wrong before.”

“Shut up.” She smirked and then let out a whistle.

I felt the thing behind me step back.

“I’d hurry if I were you,” she said.  “The whistle only keeps them away for a couple of minutes. I have no idea why.”

I took her advice and scrambled through the short hallway like my ass was on fire.  I could hear her giggling at me as I pushed past her and fell into the back of the display case.

“You’re about as pathetic as I’ve ever seen,” she said.

I was too out of breath to argue with her.

“There’s a woman in your group?” she asked.

“There’s a couple.”

“This one’s name is Rook.”

I nodded. “Rook the Reader.  What about her?”

“She carries a comic book around?”

I nodded again.

“I need it.”

I turned to her.  “What?”

“I need the comic book.”

I stood up straight and stretched my back. “Why in the hell do you want her stupid comic book?”

“I have no idea.  I was sent to find you because you have access to the comic book.  Once it’s in my hands, I’m supposed to bring you and the comic book back with me.”

“Back where?”

“New Buffalo.”

“Never heard of it.”  I stiffened when I heard a noise from the kitchen.  “Shouldn’t we get out of here?”

She pointed to the pane glass window at the front of the store.  “Can’t.”

My heart pumped a little faster when I saw three skinless dead dudes staring back at me.  Their lipless mouths were mindlessly opening and closing as they peered inside the shop with milky eyes.  “I hate the skinner dead,” I said.

She snarled her lip.  “Seriously?”


“Don’t you think that’s a tad hypocritical?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You both eat people.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa!  There’s a major difference.  We like kill people.  You know, humanely and junk.  And then we cook the meat and organs for a proper meal.”

“A proper meal? Really?”

“Those things out there eat people alive.  Tear their skin off.  Munch their victims’ guts while their still kicking around.”

She shook her head.  “Not seeing the difference, cannibal.”

One of the skinner dead slapped his hand against the glass.

“Okay,” I said, “whatever. What is it we’re supposed to do now?  Fight through those things?  I’m going to need a minute to gather my energy.”

“We’ll wait it out,” she said.  “There are only a dozen or so of them out there.  They’re not that great at figuring out how to open doors.  Your group will draw their attention away soon enough.”

Another noise came from the kitchen.

“I think you’re forgetting about our other friend.”

She shook her head in disgust and opened the door.  After letting out two short whistles, a baboon jumped out of the kitchen and into her arms.   It bared its teeth at me.  “Meet Mike.”

“A monkey? That’s what had me pissing my pants?”

“I can’t imagine it takes much to make you piss yourself.”

“Hey!” I said sticking my finger in her face.

Mike growled and snapped his jaws at me.

I quickly pulled back.

“He’ll rip your eyes out you do that again.”

I snickered.  “You train your monkey to rip someone’s eyes out, and I’m the bad guy.”

“I didn’t train Mike to do anything. He’s his own monkey.”

“By the way, Mike is the dumbest name I’ve ever heard for a monkey.”

She smiled. “Thanks for your feedback, Sunshine.”

I groaned.  I should have known better than to make fun of the monkey’s name.  “What is it I’m supposed to call you?” I asked as I took a seat on the floor and leaned against the display case.  A door to a small storage space at the bottom of the case dropped open and a Tupperware container fell out.  I stared at it in disbelief.  There was something inside.  “Holy crap.”

The girl looked down.  “What?”

I chocked back a tear.  “A cupcake.” I could make it out through the slightly transparent top of the container.  “Chocolate.”

Mike jumped from the girl’s arms and picked up the container.  He looked at me with a sizeable grin.

“Put that down,” I demanded.

He slowly backed away on two feet never losing his grin.

“Tell him to put that down,” I said to the girl.

“I told you, he’s his own monkey.  Besides that cupcake’s about a million years old.”

Mike gave out a hoot to taunt me and then bolted for the kitchen.

I motioned to stand, but fell back when I felt another head rush coming on.

The girl snorted out a laugh and said, “Milly.”

Woozy-headed, I asked, “What?”

“My name is Milly.”

I leaned back and took a deep breath.  “Your monkey sucks, Milly.”

She walked to the other end of the display case and sat down.  “He may suck, but he just saved you from throwing your guts up from eating that damn thing.”

“You don’t understand.   I love cup-friggin-cakes.”

“Me, too.”

I looked at her.  “You get it back from him, and I’ll split it with you.”

“Ewww. How about I don’t.”

“But it’s a cupcake.”

“As old as a fossil.  You get me that comic book, and I’ll get you a cupcake.  A fresh one. Right out of the oven.”

I furrowed my brow as I tried to absorb what she’d just said.  “You’ve lost your mind.  There’s no such thing as a fresh cupcake.”

“In New Buffalo there is.”

I waited for her to crack up and tell me she was kidding, but she never did. Finally I said, “Milly, I’m going to get you that comic book, and if it doesn’t lead me to a fresh cupcake, I’m going to eat you and your monkey Mike.”

The Actuals: Book Seven of the Oz Chronicles


Oz Chronicles – West Coast

Here is the early version of chapter one of The Actuals, the seventh and final installment of the Oz Chronicles. What you’re going to notice right away is that this story isn’t told from Oz’s point of view like the other books. There are a number of reasons for that, but the primary reason is that this book is going to be a standalone book. In other words, you won’t have to have read the others to know what’s going on. I had to have a new character who is unfamiliar with Oz so he could learn about the journey Oz has been on. I also wanted the challenge of trying to make a cannibal likable.

Without any further ado, I give you Sunshine Carter.


We ate a guy named Bill in Laguna Beach.

Wait, was his name Bill?  It may have been Bob now that I think about it.  That’s so rude. I should at least remember the name of some guy I ate. It’s like polite or whatever. He was a nice guy. Didn’t taste that great. And, no he didn’t taste like chicken. More like lamb.  I hate lamb.

Eating people’s kind of a thing now. The world ended a while back.  Not sure how long, but there isn’t a lot of food. No restaurants and junk, that’s for sure, and all the cows and pigs and stuff disappeared.  No one knows where the hell they went. So people just kind of eat people.  That’s how it is on the West coast anyway.  I’m not sure what they do on the other side of the country.  There’s no TV or computers or anything like that. No phones either. Cars, airplanes, trains, nothing works.  I don’t even know if there are any people on the East coast or the rest of the world for that matter.  Bob or Bill said he came from Baltimore.  We probably should have asked more questions before we ate him, but the truth is we were really hungry.

We are The Actuals.  I have no idea what the name is supposed to mean. Rook, this woman in our group, got it from some comic book she carries around.  She is nuts for that stupid thing.  Goes off by herself and reads it like she was studying for a test or something.  She’s a real wacko, that one. I don’t know if she was that way before or not.  A lot of people went crazy when everything ended.  Mostly because of the way it ended. 

I heard my parents talk about something called the Cold War.  Not sure what made it cold, but they said folks thought a nuclear bomb would cause the planet to blow up back then.  I saw this old preacher on a street corner when I was a little kid talking about Jesus wrecking everything.  Got no idea why he’d do something like that. I swear I heard Jesus was a good guy. On the news they went on about super diseases and things like that.  They all got it wrong.  Way wrong. 

It was monsters. I don’t know where they came from, but I’m telling you, as sure as my name is Sunshine Carter, monsters caused the end of the world.  And yes, my name really is Sunshine.  My mom and dad were these things my grandparents called hippies.  The best I can figure is that being hippies means they had a lot of fun and went to concerts most the time.  As far as I can tell, the only drawback to being a hippie is that something about it causes you to give your kids silly names.  My best friend’s name was Charm and I knew another kid named Raspberry.  All of us were boys who got in more than a few fist fights because our parents were hippies who went to concerts and had fun instead of thinking of real names for their kids. 

None of that matters much anymore.  Not since the monsters came.  They got my parents and Charm, too.  Not sure about Raspberry, but I wouldn’t bet money that he survived.  He was about as delicate as his name would suggest.  Poor kid never won a fight.  Never walked away from one, but he never even got in a good lick when it came down to it.

The monsters would have gotten me if it wasn’t for Cutter. I wasn’t much older than 8 or 9 when he found me hiding in a dressing room in a department store.  Dude is badass.  He was some kind of soldier.  Like a real serious type. Killed terrorists and assassins and dictators, every kind of bad guy you can think of. The President even had his phone number on speed dial. If POTUS ever needed something taken care of, he called Cutter. That’s the story I heard spread around The Actuals anyway. He doesn’t talk about anything before the monsters. He thinks it’s a waste of time.  “FWSD!” is pretty much all Cutter says.  Stands for food, water, shelter, and defense.  That’s all he wants us to think about.  Anything else is useless. Whenever we get together and start gossiping about this and that, one of us is supposed to yell out “FWSD!” It’s meant to get us back on track.  It doesn’t work most the time. I feel stupid doing it. Besides I kind of like the gossip.  Makes things more normal.

I miss normal.

There’s about twenty of us in The Actuals, and we’ve all got tattoos on our foreheads that identify us as such and what number we are in the group.  I’m The Actuals number 17.  Numbers 3, 8, and 11 are all dead, so I’m really number 13 in line.  I don’t know what I’m in line for, but that’s the way Cutter puts it.  He doesn’t call any of us by our names.  Just by the numbers on our foreheads, which is fine by me because I never was thrilled with being called Sunshine or even Sunny.

“Seventeen,” he’d bark. “What is your mission, son?”

To which I’m supposed to say, “Whatever the hell you say it is, sir!”  I didn’t know that first the time he asked, and he had numbers 6 and 12 hold me down while he pulled one of my front teeth out with a pair of pliers.  Sounds rough, but it’s better than being eaten. It was effective, too. I have done whatever the hell Cutter wants me to do since that day. 

Most of us are missing one front tooth. Cutter keeps them in an old beer can and rattles them around every now and then just to let us know he’s in charge.  The most you’ll ever be rid of is two teeth.  After that, you’re lunch, literally.  That’s what happened to number 11.  He tasted like cheddar cheese. 

I don’t like Cutter that much.  I’m scared of him, and I’ll do anything he says, but it wouldn’t bother me a bit if he just vanished one day. 

You know what?  I think that guy’s name in Laguna Beach was Ted.  Number 2 started dancing around and chanting “Ted is dead” right after we killed him.  He was doing it to be goofy, but rhymes like that can help you remember things.    

Yeah, that was it. Ted.  Bob or Bill was a guy we ate on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood.  I don’t feel bad about not remembering his name because that guy was a total jerk and a half.  He tasted like a pepperoni pizza though.  That was kind of cool.   

This is how I celebrate – Bad Way Out will be Free Nov. 26 – 30

bottle cover3

Free on Kindle from Nov. 26-30 – Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve got a lot to be thankful for and celebrate this Thanksgiving.

  1. Contract singed and in transit
  2. Second Draft of outline for Pearl of Justice Book 2 done
  3. Plenty of room in my belly for ungodly amounts of delicious, delicious turkey and fixin’s

So, I’m celebrating the only way I know how, I’m making C. Hoyt Caldwell’s first book, Bad Way Out, free via Kindle. It’s Southern noir-ish featuring my brand of backwoods humor, a few passages of unflinching violence, and tons of awkward sexual situations. Because that’s how I roll.  It will be free on the Kindle store from Nov. 26-30. Here’s the link. Bad Way Out is free! Share it. Spread the word. And let everyone know the first book The Pearl of Justice Mystery series will be available July 12, 2016.

Here’s a review from a British reader:


Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Could this book start off a craze of what can only be called Appalachian crime noir? Meet E. R. Percy, mountain man and the brewer of the best moonshine you will ever sip. Life has always been hard for the mountain folk, but illegal stills and their product is nothing compared to the drugs trade. When E. R. first refuses to work in the drugs business he is at first threatened, but this escalates to a feud. Throw in a mysterious mountain of a man that suddenly appears in his brewing shed and you find there is a lot of comedy to what would otherwise be a bloody and dark tale.

Fun to read and hard to put down this is a great tale of hillbillies and their culture versus the modern drug lord. The characters come to life in all their glorious eccentricities, from a man mad seventeen year old girl to the corrupt reverend. Unfortunately this book will probably get overlooked, which is a shame, as it is such a great read and should appeal to a lot of people.

There are a few typos in this, but nothing that should really detract from or disrupt your reading experience. Certainly original, this is full of violence and humour, and certainly a thing that Quentin Taratino would love to get his hands on.

BTW – The typos he mention should have been addressed in a later version.
Happy Thanksgiving!

The number one question I’ve gotten since announcing my book deal


Please silence your cell phones. The movie version of The Takers is about to start?

So, this weird and wonderful thing has happened since I announced my book deal with Penguin Random House. Beyond the incredible support from friends and fans, I’ve gotten one question over and over again.

Does this book deal mean there will be a The Takers movie?

The short answer is no. I signed the deal under my pen name, C. Hoyt Caldwell. Hoyt writes Southern thrillers. The deal is for a mystery series called The Pearl of Justice Mysteries. Deputy Dani Pearl is woman trying to make it in a man’s world in God’s country.  She’s got a  foul mouth, a nose for trouble and a mean left hook.  The Takers and the other Oz  Chronicles books feature Oz Griffin trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world. By contrast, Dani is trying to survive a pre-apocalyptic South.

The Takers, at one time, had interest from the big publishers, and I even talked to a couple of guys from Paramount about a movie version back in 2007. I have no idea how high up in the organization they were. They could have been part of the maintenance crew for all I know, but they did have Paramount studios email addresses. At any rate, the interest from publishers and studios alike has waned. That is to be expected. There’s a lot of great material out there, so it’s tough to even get your foot in the door.

A foot in the door is what I now have. Should The Pearl of Justice Mysteries do well, there will be more books, and perhaps renewed attention will be given to Oz and his plight. So, will there be a movie version of The Takers?  If I do my job and deliver on The Pearl of Justice Mysteries, the chances are greatly increased.

It’s contract day!

  Even though I announced the deal with Penguin Random House weeks ago, today is the day I sign the actual contract. Legal stuff is complicated, and some final details had to be ironed out, but we have arrived at the big moment. I won’t divulge the money involved upon signing, but let’s just say that new Tesla I’ve always wanted has been downgraded to a used Schwinn.  And, I could not be happier.

What I now fear most


Still not as scary as Donald Trump

Before this year, I feared spiders more than anything. Now, what I fear most is that I will come across a photo on Facebook of a Trump rally and spot someone I know in the crowd. I’m a blue state redneck living in a red state redneck world.


Charleston is a funny place – literally.


Charleston is a funny place!

You may remember – because I went on and on about it a few months ago – that my play Never Living had a staged reading at 5th Wall Productions in the western part of the Ashley in what we in the Lowcountry like to call Charleston, SC. You may also remember that I humble-bragged how great the experience was because the cast and director were perfect, blah, blah, blah.

In this case, the blah, blah, blah is skipping over even more effusive and mushy praise that is all 100% true, but that’s not what this post is about. This is about the actor who read the part of Ned Smiley, Deshawn Mason. My wife and I chatted with him after the reading, and it turns out in addition to being an actor, he’s also a stand-up comedian. He informed us that he was in a comedy festival competition and invited us to come to the show. I was, of course, petrified. I have a terrible poker face, and if I see him perform, and he’s not funny, I won’t be able to fake my way through phony accolades.

But he had done so well with the reading, and he’s such a personable kid, we decided we owed him the courtesy of watching him perform his art. In short, we went with the intentions of supporting a new friend, but we had somewhat muted expectations. Comedians are hard to find in huge metropolitan areas, one would think the odds are greatly diminished in a community the size of Charleston. We walked into Theatre 99 and committed ourselves to watching 10 comedians perform their best six minutes of material. To borrow a Mitch Hedberg sentiment, we were either going to hate it or love it – or feel so-so about it.

Much to our relief, the first comedian took the stage, and he was actually funny. I mean really funny. The second comedian took the stage, and the same thing. And then – DeShawn. Well, I’m a little embarrassed to have to admit that I had nothing to worry about. The kid was funny as hell. He knocked it out of the park, and it was such a relief. My ineffectual poker face could take the night off.

The comedians that followed delivered, too. There was zero bad material. Every comedian provided a lot of laughs.  There were a few that just needed a little more stage work, but that will come. They all clearly know comedy.

Deshawn (2nd place), Jeremy McLellan (1st place), and Nick Alexander (3rd place) made it to the next round in the competition. They will be performing in December with the three comedians selected from tonight’s performance. If you’re in Charleston, I highly recommend you get your tickets for this evening’s round of the festival competition. If it’s anything like last night, it will be full of laughs.

I’ve spent my day what-if’ing.

I’ve completed the first “flesh-out” of 40 chapters in my adventures of outlining, meaning I’ve added on average a 70-word description for each of the first 40 chapters in the second Pearl of Justice Mystery.  I only have 61 chapters to go.  The awkwardly worded, one line per chapter outline has been a huge help in speeding up the process. The next iteration of the outline should be even easier to create. I’ve never created an outline from nothing before. I’ve written 40 pages of a book and then outlined from there, but to create an outline from the storytelling ether with no baseline to work from is much more exhilarating than I had imagined. I’ve spent my entire day so far asking myself “What if?” And I can think of no better way to spend my time.

I took a lunch break and watched the documentary Chaos on the Bridge by William Shatner. It’s about, of all things, the making of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Apparently, it was an epic challenge because of one person, Gene Roddenberry. He put a lot of constraints on the cast and crew, in particular the writers. Thirty members of the writing staff quit the first year of the show! He wanted them to do the impossible, he didn’t want the Enterprise to have any conflict among the crew. It was to be presented as a Utopian paradise. It’s a maddening thing to ask writers to do. Conflict is at the core of character development. I highly recommend the doc to all, but in particular I think writers should watch it. I was enthralled.

Stay classy, Murica – or at the very least, stay American.

I’m staying off Facebook today because I’ve got tons of work that requires my brain firing on all cylinders, and sometimes Facebook makes my brain shutdown. This post will automatically post, but other than that, I can’t Facebook for now because, frankly, it’s heartbreaking. A tragedy always makes Facebook an emotionally draining venue, but this time around it’s intensified because I’ve seen so many jettison the basic ideals by which they claim to live.

I don’t know the Shaun King featured below (I know the guy who played QB for Tulane and Tampa), but I appreciate his commitment to his principles.As we’ve seen, fear can make you abandon your beliefs in very short order.


It’s telling that Ted Cruz wouldn’t even pass this basic Christianity test when he is proposing such a test for the Syrian refugees. I’m torn because if this test would result in removing Cruz from our country, I want to support it, but in the end, I have to stand by my principles that a “religious” test is grotesquely un-American.

As I’ve stated on many occasions, I am not Christian. I follow no religion. I’m sure I would not pass Cruz’s test, nor, in all candor, would I pass the test above. The difference between Cruz and me is that I think the Christian doctrine Mr. King has outlined is worth honoring, not denouncing.

BTW – We can take care of our Veterans and the homeless and 10,000 refugees. To suggest otherwise, is a politically motivated stance. It’s time we make a humanitarian stance and help those in need, period.

Friends are friends, and I won’t end a relationship just because I think they are wrong, but by God, they are going to know exactly how I feel. Innocent people are in tremendous peril, and we should lead by giving them a safe haven because it’s the right thing to do.