November, 2018 update

The big news this month has nothing to do with my writing. My lovely and talented wife Stephanie is the next artist to display her work at the Tamale Hut Café.  Details are on my home page.

I do have a few writing-related items to pass along to you this month:

  • The story I read at the October reading series night is now posted on the Writing Group blog at https://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/. You can also read it on my web site on the Short Stories page.
  • Free time was at a premium in October, but with several major projects at work finishing in the next few weeks, I expect to have more writing time, so I will be back at the Barnstormers.  I plan to begin writing chapter 8 later today.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, November 18, and I will be reading an abbreviated version of chapter 5 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!

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October, 2018 Update

This month started with my pals and I attending the annual Chicago Book Expo on Sunday, October 1st, and it hasn’t let up.  I’ve been working extra hours almost every day and have so far worked two of the Saturdays this month, with more extra work next weekend (all without the benefit of overtime.)  I don’t mean to complain, especially because I’m better off than I was a year ago, when my severance money was running out and few job offers were coming my way.  I only mention this as an explanation as to why this e-mail is so late, why I haven’t written much lately, and why I don’t have a Barnstormers chapter for you this month.
I do have a few writing-related items to pass along to you this month:

  • Next week, October 28, the members of the writers group I coordinate will be the featured readers at the Tamale Hut Cafe Reading Series in North Riverside.  We’ve all written stories that start with the same sentence, and the stories veer off in all kinds of directions.  Details of the event can be found at the Reading Series web site at https://thcreadingseries.wordpress.com/.
  • I need to make a few changes to chapter 7 of Barnstormers this month, so I’m not including it in this message.  I promise to have it for you next month, and while I haven’t started writing chapter 8, I have been working through the plot in my head in the scant free time I’ve had.

As mentioned above, the next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, October 28, and I will be reading a short story I wrote for the project, something that is in a different style than what I usually write. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some entertaining stories, many with the same opening sentence! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!

September, 2017 Update

The big news this month is that I will again have a table at the annual Chicago Book Expo at Columbia College in downtown Chicago. This will be my fourth year at this “celebration of Chicago independent presses and authors”, and I will be there with some of my THC Writers Group friends to promote our work, as well as to promote the various arts-related offerings at the Tamale Hut Café. I’ve sold a few books there in previous years, but on top of making some contacts in the Chicago literary world, we’ve always have fun. If you’re anywhere near the Loop area on Sunday, October 1st, please stop by this free event and say hello. You might catch me after I slip into my “carnival barker” mode, which I’ve been told is quite entertaining to see.

I have a few writing items to tell you about this month:

  • I’ve just completed chapter 7 of Barnstormers, and am taking a short break before moving into Chapter 8. If you’ve been reading along, as I hope you have, you’ll know that I’ve moved the story out of the Flying Circus and have set my young aviatrices on the road. I’ve felt that this was the point that the story would really take off, but in the early chapters, I’d tried to keep the details as true to life as possible. Now I’m starting to bog myself down with details like figuring out, for instance, if they can easily get from point A to point B with the limited roads and travel options available to them in 1925. I need to stop sweating the small stuff so much and get back into the action. The writing is going really well through the action sequences!
  • I mentioned last month that members of the writers group I coordinate will be the featured readers at the Tamale Hut in October, and that we were all writing our stories with the same opening sentence. At this point, I’ve seen a half-dozen of the stories (with four more to read before this month’s meeting) and I’ve loved all that I’ve read. Plan to be at the Tamale Hut on October 28 to hear many of them read by their authors.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, September 30, and I will be attending to see the featured reader, but will be leaving shortly afterward so I won’t be reading any Barnstormers this month. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some entertaining stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB. We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!

August, 2017 Update

Big news this month is that I had a positive review of my most recent novel, The Sleep Detectives Go To Washington.

One of my writing heroes is Ron Fortier, one of the guys behind Airship 27, a leading publisher of New Pulp fiction.  I first met Ron at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention in (I think) 2009, well before I wrote anything longer than some documentation at work.  The following year at the show, I asked him a general question about how to get started writing a story, and he took the time to explain in detail the genesis of a story he had just finished.  That conversation, and Ron’s enthusiasm about the writing process, was key in giving me the motivation to try my hand at writing fiction.

This year at Windy City, I gave Ron a copy of my latest novel and he said he’d review it.  He now has, and liked it, and has posted the review on his site.  You can read what he thinks at this link.  (Previously, he also reviewed my first Sleep Detectives novel.)

I’m a big fan of pulp fiction (the genre, not the movie) and I aspire to eventually write something in that vein. Maybe someday I’ll be good enough to get something published by Airship 27.

I have a few writing items to tell you about this month:

  • I’ve completed chapter 6 of the Barnstormers story, and am already working on Chapter 7.  I’ve worked out the resolution of the cliffhanger in chapter 6, and as my two main characters are now on their way across the country, I need to decide what their next destination will be.  As I mentioned in previous updates, there are currently three ways that you can follow the Barnstormers:
    • I read an abbreviated version of each chapter at the THC Reading Series.  (I need to shorten it because  to time limitations.)  I will be reading chapter 4 at the next Reading Series night on August 26th.
    • I post each chapter here on Barnstormers page after I read it.    Currently, the page contains chapter 3, and I will post chapter 4 after I read it in August.
    • If you want to read each entire, uncut chapter, you can subscribe to my mailing list.   I send out a monthly e-mail containing information about my writing projects, any open mic events or book shows I might be seen and heard at during the month, and anything new I might have going on in my life.  It’s pretty much what you read here, except you also get a link to a PDF of the next uncut chapter of Barnstormers.  And did I mention it’s free?  Sign up today!
  • The writers group that I coordinate will be the featured readers at the Tamale Hut in October, and as we did last year, we have been working on a group project for our feature.  The idea this year is that we all start our stories with the same sentence.  I’ve seen submissions from three of our group members, and the resulting stories could not be more different from each other.  I’ve already written one story and have an idea for another.  It’s been a lot of fun (as the writers group usually is) and I can’t wait to share with the Tamale Hut on October 28.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, August 26, and as mentioned above, I will be reading a shortened version of chapter 4 of the Barnstormers story. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! There’s free parking, no admission, the tamales are excellent, and it’s BYOB.  We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!

July, 2017 Update

Thanks to everyone who stopped by my table at the Printers Row Lit Fest last month.  Sales were a little slow for everyone this year, but I sold a few books, handed out a bunch of flyers about my work, and talked to a whole lot of great people.  Some of them signed up for my mailing list, and I hope some more will consider checking out my writing, either with a book on Amazon, or one of my short stories on this web site.

I don’t have a lot of writing news to tell you about this month:

  • As I mentioned last month, my third e-book novella, The Lost Ticket, is available from Amazon for your Kindle. I’m very happy with the way this story turned out, and I’m pleased with the cover image, drawn by my talented nephew Ricky Bieniek. You can check out his sprite comic at this link.
  • My Barnstormers story is picking up speed. I’ve completed chapter 5, and I think that chapter really sets up the rest of the story.  There are currently three ways that you can follow the Barnstormers:
    • I read an edited version of each chapter at the THC Reading Series.  (It’s only edited because I don’t have the time available to read the whole thing.)  I will be reading chapter 4 at the next Reading Series night on August 26th.
    • I post each chapter here on Barnstormers page after I read it.    Currently, the page contains chapter 3, and I will post chapter 4 after I read it in August.
    • If you want to read each entire, unedited chapter, you can subscribe to my mailing list.   I send out a monthly e-mail containing information about my writing projects, any open mic events or book shows I might be seen and heard at during the month, and anything new I might have for sale.  It’s pretty much what you read here, except you also get a link to a PDF of the next uncut chapter of Barnstormers.  And did I mention it’s free?  Sign up today!

The THC Reading Series is taking the month of July off, and will return on Saturday, August 26th. I’ll tell you more about that next month.

Thanks for reading!

June, 2017 update

Two big news items this month, along with my writing progress:

  • My third e-book novella, The Lost Ticket, is now available from Amazon for your Kindle. Like all the Sleep Detectives stories, it is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, so even though The Lost Ticket is only $1.49 to purchase, if you are a KU subscriber, you can read it for free! How can you beat that?
  • As mentioned last month, I will again be at a table at the Printers Row Lit Fest, trying to cajole total strangers into reading my work. The Lit Fest this year is June 10 and 11, from 10am to 6pm each day in downtown Chicago. I will again be under the Illinois Woman’s Press Association tent, which is located toward the south end of the event, near Polk Street. If you’re at the Fest, stop by and say “Hi!”
  • Chapter 2 of the “Barnstormers” story is posted in the Short Stories section of the site, and I will be posting chapter 3 after I read it at the Tamale Hut on the June 24. But if you can’t wait, all you have to do is join my mailing list. I send out a monthly e-mail with my writing news, but I will also be including a new chapter of the story with each e-mail, and that chapter will have all the extra content I won’t have time to read at the Reading Series. And did I mention it’s free, and I won’t share your e-mail address with anyone? Sign up today!

    The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, June 24, and I will be there, reading a shortened version of chapter 3 of the Barnstormers story I mentioned above. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! We start at 7pm.

    Thanks for reading!

May, 2017 Update

I’m a little late on this because I hoped to be able to announce that “The Lost Ticket” was available, but due to some technical difficulties and some spectacularly poor time management on my part, the novelette is not yet available for purchase. The text is done and the cover is complete, but I’ve had some problems assembling the thing to put up on the Kindle store. I will definitely have it done by the end of the month, because I want to promote it at the Printers Row Lit Fest next month. So here’s what I’ve been up to:

    • “The Lost Ticket” will be available from the Kindle store by the end of May. In this story, Danny and Izzy are on the trail of a winning lottery ticket that was stolen from an elderly couple in the neighborhood, a quest that takes them from Riverdale to Little Italy to Division Street. The final version of the cover (minus the text) is here to the right. This will be on Kindle only, as are the previous two in the “Lost” series, and it will be available at Amazon by June 1st.

  • The “Barnstormers” story is coming along a little more slowly than I’d like (primarily because of the time management issues I mentioned above) but I’m liking the results, as are the members of the writers groups I’ve been sharing the story with. The shortened version of chapter 2 that I read at the Tamale Hut is posted in the Short Stories section below. If you want to read the full chapter, all you have to do is join my mailing list. I send out a monthly e-mail with my writing progress and where I’ll be, if there are any literary events that month. I will also be including a new chapter of the story with each e-mail, and that chapter will have all the extra content I won’t have time to read at the Reading Series. And did I mention it’s free, and I won’t share your e-mail address with anyone? Sign up today!
  • This is not my news, but I wanted to share that Stephie will again have her tent up at the Graue Mill Fine Arts Festival in Oak Brook on June 3 and 4, from 10am to 4pm each day. This is a great event, with many talented artists showing and selling their work, with little of the “crafty” stuff that you find in some other art shows. Plus, the Graue Mill is a beautiful place, with a long nature walk and an operating grist mill. (You should buy some of their corn meal. It’s so good.) Weather permitting, it’s a great day out. And did I mention it’s free? Details at the Graue Mill web site.
  • As mentioned last month, I will again be at a table at the Printers Row Lit Fest, trying to cajole total strangers into reading my work. The Fest this year is June 10 and 11, from 10am to 6pm each day in downtown Chicago. I will again be under the Illinois Woman’s Press Association tent.

The next THC Reading Series night will be on Saturday, May 20, and I will be there, reading a shortened version of chapter 2 of the Barnstormers story. The story is designed like a movie serial from the 30s or 40s, with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger, but because of time constraints, the only way I can end each reading in the cliffhanger is to edit some parts out. It should still be exciting, and you can always read the complete chapter by joining my mailing list. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and listen to some interesting stories! We start at 7pm.

Thanks for reading!