Book Review: My Father’s Keeper by Norbert Lebert

My Father’s Keeper (2001) is the story of the children of upper echelon Nazis, the sons and daughters of Himmler, Hess, Goering, and others. German journalists Stephan Lebert and his son Norbert conducted their interviews in 1959 and 2000, respectively.

The subjects’ coping mechanisms were largely unsuccessful. The most strategically useful approach (I won’t call it ‘successful’) was perhaps that of Martin Bormann, Jr. Continue reading

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Our Yardstick is Bent: the NYT Best Sellers List

The NYT once testified that their best selling book list is editorial content, not news content. In other words, it’s not an objective measure of books’ worth OR popularity.

In 1983, author William Peter Blatty sued The New York Times for $6 million, claiming that his latest book, Legion (filmed as The Exorcist III), had not been included in the list due to either negligence or intentional falsehood, saying it should have been included due to high sales.[4] The Times countered that the list was not mathematically objective but rather was editorial content and thus protected under the Constitution as free speech.

Continue reading

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“Needs Tightening”

These two dread words, when found without further explanation in a critique, signal oncoming angst for the writer. We all know what ‘tightening’ means in theory. In practice, it can include anything from removing a few words here and there, to taking out entire scenes.

It’s a fact that good material becomes less effective when Continue reading

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The Awful Truth About Writing & Writers

I was at lunch with a group of writers the other day, and something I said resonated with the group. I summarized it in the meme I’ve created, below. I’ve posted this on Twitter and Facebook; might as well put it here, too. There is an awful truth about writing that many unsuspecting authors don’t know until it’s too late. Continue reading

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“The Universal Plot”

Neptune Plotting

Take a trip back to the 80’s and see what was known then as The Universal Plot. Its origins are obscure, but I suspect that it was generated by someone in Southwest Manuscripters back around 1980. My copy shows no copyright and I can’t find it on the Internerd, so I’ll assume it’s public domain. Kudos to whoever first compiled it. Here goes: Continue reading

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Book Review: Blitzed, by Norman Ohler

Norman Ohler’s Blitzed is an extensively researched book that provides another view of Hitler’s Germany. Despite Der Fuehrer’s official (and hypocritical) pretence of abstemiousness, he did eat meat, and he did drink, and he did have a mistress. We can add drug use to that list, not just by Hitler, but on a national scale all the way down to ordinary German soldiers, hopped up on Pervitin (methamphetamine) tablets during the invasions of Poland, France, and Russia. Continue reading

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Beta Readers Wanted

I’ve slated another book for release this year. It’s currently in third draft, an enrichment draft where details will be fleshed out and the character’s arc enhanced. The current word count is 21,000, well into novella* territory, with about 80 pages of text, not counting front and back matter. The book has been workshop tested in first draft.

Synopsis: A timorous traveller finds himself in a strange and treacherous city without a map. He also discovers that his language school has instructed him in the wrong dialect for this city.

The tentative cover: Continue reading

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Goodreads Giveaway: Mouth of the Lion

Cover8A-BIGREDHIRES5Enter for a chance to win one of 10 paperback copies of my historical novel/espionage thriller, “In the Mouth of the Lion.”  The Giveaway ends in about 1 month (February 16, 2017). For details, follow this link to Goodreads: giveaway details »

To enter the drawing, click here:  Enter Giveaway

What happens when a psychiatrist discovers during a therapy session that his volatile new patient once killed a young woman and is now carrying a pistol?

More about the book and the true history behind it: Mouth of the Lion website



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Previewing Your Book — “Look Inside”

magicbookOne of the more powerful sales features of Amazon is its ability to let on-line shoppers take a lengthy peek at your book. A couple of clicks and the shopper can read your title page, your copyright statement, your preface, introduction, dedication, acknowledgement, prologue, frontispiece, and foreword. And, if they’re lucky, they can see some of your first chapter. Continue reading

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My Poetry Book

mooncover-2Back in my poetry writing days, long ago, I published several little spiral-bound chapbooks. When I had written enough poems for a larger work, I hand made about twenty perfect- bound books. I printed out a master with the poems 4-up, then had it copied and cut in fourths. A vise held the pages of each book while I applied craft glue, pushing the pages one direction, then the other to ensure getting the pages well glued. I let the glue dry, then applied more and carefully attached the cover, which I had printed myself, coated with a plastic sheet, and pre-folded. The effect is very similar to a professionally published book. The poetry doesn’t suck too bad, either. The cost was minimal (maybe ~$3 each) compared to the time spent binding the book. There are still a few in existence. A couple of years ago, I stayed at a friend’s house while she was away. While I was there, I saw one of my books on her nightstand.

I designed the book by doing a walkabout in the Ventura Barnes & Noble store. I found that the books were almost all shelved spine-out. The wider the book, the bigger I could make the title, so I printed the poems on one side of the paper, only, for a thicker book. I selected “Moon Over the Lost City” for the title. Moon, lost, and city are words that resonate with our feelings and associations. Of course, to use that title, I had to go back and add a poem with the same name. It’s not bad.

Moon Over the Lost City

Silently, the fat moon rises from the forest
to gloat above the stones of Nydah-Venn..
Ghosts wander from pools of blackness
and slink along their customary ways,
Murmuring their sins.
Hourly, ‘til dawn glows on distant mountains,
A skeletal muezzin ascends the
last unfallen minaret
and croons his malison on those below:
Too late! Too late!” the bony jaws intone.
Ten thousand voices cry out in return.

Would have!”
Could have!”
Should have!”
No libertines haunt these granite avenues,
No fornicators and no thieves tread the
mossy stones of Nydah-Venn;
Nor greed-bound merchants,
Nor petty sinners.
This Gehenna of Regret is for those
who left something undone,
who let their joy escape,
devalued their heart’s desire.
Those who lived their passion have passed on,
never to haunt again the stony
pits of Nydah-Venn


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