Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A writer must know and trust a character well enough to let that character do his or her own thing.  A writer cannot impose upon the character; otherwise, the narrative will surely be clumsy and contrived.  Robbie Toe, for example, made decisions that disturbed me greatly, but I had to let him do it.  He had to be true to himself.  Only then can a story come alive.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The cover of my latest book, The Land of Silence, captures my thoughts on writing fairly well.  The content of this book is edgy, and I certainly wouldn't let my young daughters even flip through the pages just yet, but I certainly would let them crack open Gadly Plain.  I do not think a writer has to choose to be either G-rated or something else.  A good writer is simply true to the characters and the story they enact.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gadly Plain will finally be making its debut!

After many years of writing, editing, and, of course, submitting to publishers and agencies, my second novel, Gadly Plain, will make its debut on August 1, 2013.  I am, naturally, very excited about its release.

Much more can be learned by visiting


Monday, January 16, 2012

A rather unexpected coincidence: Robbie Toe and the WM3

I happened upon an HBO documentary called Paradise Lost 3, which is about how three men were wrongly convicted of three murders in 1993.  The men, called the West Memphis Three, spent, I believe, eighteen years in prison all because a judicial system wanted to quickly pin a guilty verdict on somebody for the heinous crime against three eight year old boys.   Naturally, I was struck by this story and how it compared to All the Bad Things.  Just like the WM3, Robbie Toe might be called "white trash."  In addition, my protagonist is from a small town, and he, likewise, was guilty until proven innocent.  It seems that those who advocated for the WM3 had been sounding the same horn as I am sounding now -- that justice is sometimes miscarried when innoncent men are thrown in jail by communities with mob mentalities.  I hope, in its own small way, All the Bad Things adds to the chorus of those who are outraged by false convictions and the consequences of hurrying verdicts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

All the Bad Things silenced!

The Warren Times Observer, my hometown newspaper, has been publishing articles about the alarming number of instances of statutory rape in Warren County.  Certainly, this is a conversation that has needed to happen for quite some time as my story is roughly based on what happens when a young girl falsely accuses someone of this heinous crime.  Thinking that the WTO would be eager to include the viewpoints of one of Warren County's native sons, I contacted the newspaper to share with them that I had, in fact, explored this very topic in a work of literary fiction, All the Bad Things. 
Was I welcomed?  Invited to participate in the conversation?
After first being accused of trying to promote my book using the WTO, I was then told that my viewpoint had already been shared in a letter to the editor I wrote over two years ago and that mentioning anything about my book would result in tipping the scales of the topic in the wrong direction.  Simply put, the WTO was not interested in hearing the side of those who have been falsely and maliciously accused of statutory rape.  It was interested in maintaining the popular perception that being accused of this crime makes one guilty -- that regardless of what the girl says, the accused is always at fault.
I was shocked by this response.  I had never expected to be silenced or banned by my hometown newspaper, but there it was: All the Bad Things was not welcomed in the discussion.
I, too, am all about eradicating this horrible crime, but I belief that to do so properly, a community must consider all aspects.  Sure, we must ask ourselves what is it about a culture that produces so many statutory rapists, but we must also ask ourselves why the same culture produces so many liars.
Perhaps this is why the WTO chose to ban me.  I wanted to hold a mirror up the Warren County's face, and Warren County wanted none of it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All the Bad Things strikes a chord!

This past Thursday, I spoke in front of a crowd of about seventy students, faculty, and staff.  My website with the book trailer had been pulled up and was on the large white screen behind me.  After the trailer was played, I read from parts of the book, explaining along the way how I came up with the story and the characters.  Afterwards came the Q and A session.  To my great surprise, that session went on for about twenty-five minutes, hands going after each question was answered.  It appeared that Robbie Toe's story had struck a chord with the audience.  They were appalled that Robbie Toe was incarcerated because of a lie and, beyond that, they were astonished that All the Bad Things was, in part, based on a true story.

When I finally left the stage and went back to the table where my books were, there was a line of folks waiting to purchase a copy.  And, of course, I was pleased, but what mostly astonished me were the few young men waiting to tell me that they had known of other men like Robbie Toe who had been imprisoned because of a false accusation.

What I am learning is that those who would classify themselves as nonreaders like the book just as much as those who would classify themselves as the opposite.  Is this the nature of a good story?  One that appeals to readers and nonreaders alike?  I think so.  And I hope that All the Bad Things falls into that category.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writer and what is written: John Donne's dilemma

Recent readers of All the Bad Things have come to me and made comments like, Gee, I can't believe YOU wrote this!  What they're no doubt getting at is the fact that some of the scenes/language in the book are raunchy, even distasteful.  How is it that a married, Christian man with three little girls can produce a work with parts that could make the Marquis de Sade blush?
I look to the poet John Donne for an answer.  Here was a pious man of the cloth who crafted brilliant poems, not just about lofty, spiritual topics, but also about topics of a baser, sexual ilk.  This fact illicited the name, Bawdy Jack Donne, as, undeniably, others cocked their heads in disbelief of Donne's literary capacity.  To be sure, this dichotomy in Donne has been and continues to be the impetus for many an interesting conversation.  What do these polar opposite writing inclinations say about the author?
I think it says that we're human beings living in the real world with all of its goodness and badness and that authors, particularly, are responsible for portraying the truth as it is and not as an idealist (or pessimist) would like it.  My character Blue Jean does what she does because that's who she is, and as such, any authorial intervention would be exactly that: an intrusion into the truth of the character.  I tell my readers that, beyond "writing" the character, I channeled the character onto the page.  Blue Jean, in other words, dictated, and I simply wrote down her words.  I had to be absent from the book for the characters to speak and move freely.  Otherwise, my values would crowd out my characters, and like anybody who is talked over, my characters would just choose to be silent and walk away.  That, as an author, is that last thing I want.