Monday, December 12, 2011

...Out Like a Lion



...some battles are not waged on neutral ground, with dueling foes of equal strength. Yet others, well...

A simple chest cold suffered just prior to Turkey Day, nearly a month ago, took root in my lungs, grappling on with an iron clasp, and refusing to let go. A ten day standoff left this writer gasping for the simple things in life, like inhaling a breath without choking on phlegm.

The infection led to a bout with the flu. The fun kind, with a raging fever, only to be shaken minutes later with a set of chills causing my molars to chatter as if adding percussion to an orchestra. And with seven kids under our roof, the plague spread on fleeting wings.

...but the best was yet to come.

Just when normalcy fluttered in the distance, a home visit for our three foster siblings, was repaid ten fold in the form of a nasty bout with head lice.

The younger boy unknowingly brought it from home, where this particularly vulgar infestation found our cozy and clean environment full of youngsters, as the perfect place to set up shop and a stay awhile.

...and that they did.

We figured it out the hard way. During bath time, while drying the little girl's hair, my wife thought she'd spotted something moving about in her curls, but wasn't sure. I joined in the search...and it didn't take long.

We were new to this battle, neither of us having ever dealt with an infestation of this variety before. When it was all said and done, every kid under our roof had been infected, including our own. I had to restrain my teenage son, who'd offered death threats to the little ones, indirectly at fault. Their parents of course denied our claim, then later refuted, coming clean on the matter entirely. The louse eggs weren't spread on purpose, but simply a case of a germ-infested dwelling, and what happens when cleaning products go untouched far too long.

The little ones will not be returning home for quite some time.

The infestation took weeks to conquer. One thought to consider...a single louse egg, roughly the size of the head of a pin, can produce an army of bugs totaling in the millions. For anyone who's yet experience the nightmare, consider yourselves among the most fortunate. I wouldn't wish this past month on my worst enemy.

In any sense, for those who've sent emails and comments inquiring as to my whereabouts, thanks so much for your thoughts. I took each and every word to heart.

And best of all...the other day, finding myself at long last with some quiet time, I clutched my laptop to my side, eased downstairs where only the dog knew of my presence, and began work on, "The Fellas." Like a salty breath of air on a Sunday morning along Siesta Key, the moment nearly produced a tear.

2011 has left us limping, but recovering, and gaining strength.

Thanks for reading, and yes, I'm back ;)

El

Tuesday, November 15, 2011



...I've heard it said by many, that when the snot turns green, and the cough starts sounding like a ball peen hammer over a hollowed out length of hickory, then it's time to give up the ghost and seek an expert opinion.

Apparently the good Lord doesn't understand the fact that my schedule is not cooperative in sharing my time with the plague. Regardless, this vulgar bug has rendered me useless for the past ten days and counting.

While buried under several layers upon the recliner, I burped out a strangled cough that caused the dogs to rush the front window, thinking the town Sheriff was in hot pursuit of the neighborhood thug, and had just flipped on the siren.

In any sense, this evil virus is the sole reason for not only my temporary absence, but my failure to announce the winners of the "Charming Endeavor" book tour. The names have been selected, but the ambition's been stagnant, to which I apologize.

That post will be forthcoming...and will be a blast, trust me on that ;)

In the meantime, for those of you who have been enjoying Simon Cowell's latest and greatest sing off, entitled "The X-Factor," then you've no doubt experienced the lyrics performed by a thirty-something grundge icon, by the name of Josh Krajcik.

(Time to brace yourself for the WOW factor...) Not only does he originate from central Ohio, which just happens to be where I'm currently residing, but Josh's father is one of the lead sales managers at my day job. He's every bit as loud as his son, while not as gifted with singing vocals...but is nonetheless a pal of mine.

So as I attempt to recover from my current state of infested affairs, take a moment and listen to Josh as he attempts the impossible...a modern day story of rags to riches.

And if you like what you've heard...snatch up that phone and send him a vote ;)

Thanks for reading...

El


Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Tour Comes Home...(2nd Time's the Charm!)



..."A Charming Endeavor" book tour has returned home. And for those who've followed along, (but don't sweat it if you haven't ;) I promised a final story. A fitting tale meant for capping off a month long trek covering far away lands...and a few spots just around the bend.

Some of you may remember my earlier posts featuring a young lady that I've named The Girl. A foster child who'd been paying my family routine visits over the past year and a half. Several have asked whatever happened to her, this lonesome child in search of a place to nestle upon.

And so my tour ends...as her journey begins...(Enjoy ;)

...a few months ago, a young man of seventeen, having just inhaled a final draw from a smoldering joint, dropped the flaring nub to the dust and followed it with the toe of a faded Nike. He tilted his head back, grinning at the stars, how they shivered and danced under his current state, and decided then and there to share his good cheer with a buddy of his. And what more fun than to invite his pal for a spin in Mom and Dad's car.

The drive through a wooded hillside lasted no more than thirty minutes. They passed no other vehicles, swerved to avoid a crossing deer, and rolled safely into the family driveway no worse for the wear.

The young man of seventeen stumbled out of the car, his mouth churning away about fast rides, easy girls, ditching school during final exams, and how those stars up there may in fact be aliens, their ships fleeting about like insects, just out of reach.

He left his buddy in the driveway, tiptoeing around the house to the back deck. His senses on high alert. After all, you never knew when Mom or Dad may be lingering.

The teenager's friend, who'd accompanied him on the joyride, and had quickly realized the dilemma he'd been lured into, exhaled a breath, watched it dissipate into the frosty air like fleeting spirits, considered his options, then walked into the house.

For the boy who'd been sitting in the passenger seat of the car, was a foster child of the same age. He didn't particularly care for the family he was living with. Had in fact grown weary of his "step brother's" antics of late. And there were other foster kids in the house to consider...all of them sick and tired, of being sick and tired.

Listening to the heavy breathing coming from his foster parent's bedroom, the boy quietly scooped up a nearby cell phone, and dialed his social worker's number. She'd once promised him that he could call her anytime, day or night.

...despite the hour, she answered on the third ring.

I was in my office the following afternoon, glaring at the overhead clock, when my phone started ringing. I recognized my home number, picked up the receiver.

"What's up, Hon?"

...breathing hard, "We got a call about taking in another kid," my wife said.

"What?" I huffed. "Are you outta your mind? Have you counted how many kids we already have? We're already going through eight gallons of milk a week. We'll be causing a shortage soon! We can't...Hon, no. Tell 'em to find someone else. I mean, I can't believe you'd even consider..."

"Okay, chill out. But before I turn her down, I thought maybe you'd like to know who it is. But I guess not, so..."

"Wait a minute."

My breath caught in my throat. There was something she wasn't telling me. Something in her tone. Hopeful. A bit ornery, perhaps. Something. And a thought crossed my mind.

A chill danced and jittered like a centipede along my spine, leaving a trail of goose pimples and anticipation. And when at last I spoke, my voice came out in a whisper. "It's her, isn't it?"

"It's her."

For a moment, only the sounds of our breathing could be heard over the phone line. Hers now slowing a bit, as mine drowned out the buzzing silence. But that was enough. No words were needed.

Then I asked, "What happened?"

"Her foster family ran into some trouble, got their license suspended. Sounds permanent."

"Okay."

"We'll have to rearrange the bedrooms to make room."

"Okay."

"You do realize she's a teenager now...lotta baggage. She's been getting into trouble at school."

"Okay."

"They told me if we can't handle her, they'll put her in the D.H."

"She'll be fine...she'll be home."

"So...okay?"

"Okay."

"Good, because I already told them to bring her home."

"Atta girl." I giggled like a ten year old, hung up the phone.

She was in the garage when I came home. Sitting Indian-style on a plastic tarp, sorting through her things. Her life's belongings piled into a half dozen garbage bags and an ancient blue chest, one side caved in from an angry boot. I knelt by her side. Watched as she thumbed through the pages of a dusty photo album, pictures of her mom.

A steady rain formed a veil across the open garage, the spatter of water on pavement like a steady applause.

When at last she spoke, the voice belonged to a stranger, for I hadn't heard from her in months. During that time she'd become a teenager. And yet, when she looked up, I saw The Girl who's wounded childhood had so captured our hearts. The Girl who could never return home. The Girl who's mother suffered from a severe case of schizophrenia, as did Danny Kaufman's from my book. As did mine...

"I'm tired of my things always getting thrown into garbage bags," she said.

"I'm tired of that too," I answered. "There's an empty dresser upstairs."

"I'm tired of bouncing all over the place. House after house. New schools, new rules, on and on."

"Our rules aren't so bad."

She hesitated, then, "So I'm staying here this time? For good?"

"If you'd like."

"Do I get my own room?"

"Eventually."

"How about a TV?"

"Don't push your luck."

She grinned. I spotted a tear dangling from an eyelid. Then, "So I hear that you're a writer now. What's up with that?"

A chuckle rose from my throat, bounding out like an errant belch. "Yeah, something like that..."

We listened to the rain. Vehicles rolling by, each one carrying a unique drama all its own. Tires whining on wet pavement.

From inside the house, the sounds of Jason Castro's "Traveler" made quick work of lifting our spirits. My son the musician. His timing couldn't have been better if he'd planned the moment beforehand.

"So I'm home how?" she finally asked.

I swallowed. "Come on, let's unpack your things..."

Thanks for reading ;)

***Contest winners for those who followed along and supported my tour will be forthcoming!***

El

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Tour Comes Home...



..."A Charming Endeavor" book tour has returned home. And for those who've followed along, (but don't sweat it if you haven't ;) I promised a final story. A fitting tale for capping off a month long trek covering far away lands...and a few spots just around the bend.

Some of you may remember my earlier posts featuring a young lady that I've named The Girl. A foster child who'd been paying my family routine visits over the past year and a half. Several have asked whatever happened to her, this lonesome teen in search of a place to nestle upon.

And so my tour ends, with her new beginning...


...a few months ago, a young man of seventeen, having just inhaled a final draw from a smoldering joint, dropped the flaring nub to the dust and followed it with the toe of a faded Nike. He tilted his head back, grinning at the stars, how they shivered and danced under his current state, and decided then and there to share his good cheer with a buddy of his. And what more fun than to invite his pal for a spin in Mom and Dad's car.

The drive through a wooded hillside lasted no more than thirty minutes. They passed no other vehicles, swerved to avoid a crossing deer, and rolled safely into the family driveway no worse for the wear.

The young man of seventeen stumbled out of the car, his mouth churning a mile a minute about fast rides, easy girls, ditching school during final exams, and how those stars up there may in fact be aliens, their ships fleeting about like insects, just out of reach.

He left his friend in the driveway, tiptoeing his way around the house to the back deck. His senses on high alert. After all, you never knew when Mom or Dad might be lingering.

The teenager's friend, who'd accompanied him on the joyride, and had quickly realized the situation he'd been lured into, exhaled a breath, considered his options, then walked inside the house.

For the boy who'd been sitting in the passenger seat of that car, was a foster child of the same age. He didn't particularly care for the family he was living with. Had in fact grown weary of his "step brother's" antics as of late. And there were other foster kids in the house...all of them sick and tired, of being sick and tired.

Listening to the heavy breathing coming from his foster parent's bedroom, the boy quietly scooped up a nearby cell phone, and dialed his social worker's number. She'd once promised him that he could call her anytime, and she'd be there for him.

...despite the hour, she answered on the third ring.

I was in my office the following afternoon, glaring at the overhead clock, when my phone started ringing. I recognized my home number, picked up the receiver.

"What's up, Hon?"

...breathing hard, "We got a call about taking in another kid," my wife said.

"What?" I huffed. "Are you outta your mind? Have you counted how many kids we already have? We're already going through eight gallons of milk a week. We'll be causing a shortage soon! We can't... No! Tell 'em to find someone else! I mean, I can't believe you'd even consider..."

"Okay, chill out. But before I turn her down, I thought maybe you'd like to know who it is. But I guess not, so..."

"Wait a minute." My breath caught in my throat. There was something she wasn't telling me. Something in her voice. Hopeful. Perhaps a bit ornery. Something. And a thought crossed my mind.

A chill danced and jittered like a centipede along my spine, leaving goose pimples and anticipation. And when at last I spoke, my voice came out in a whisper. "It's her, isn't it?"

"It's her."

For a moment only the sound of our breathing could be heard over the phone line. But that was enough. No words were needed.

And then I asked, "What happened?"

"Her foster family ran into some trouble, got their license suspended. Sounds permanent."

"Okay."

"We'll have to rearrange the bedrooms to make room."

"Okay."

"You do realize she's a teenager now...lotta baggage."

"Okay."

"They told me if we can't handle her, they'll put her in the D.H."

"She'll be fine...she'll be home."

"So...okay?"

"Okay."

"Good, because I already told them to bring her home."

"Atta girl." I giggled like a ten year old, hung up the phone.

She was in the garage when I came home. Sitting Indian-style on a plastic tarp, sorting through her things. Her life's belongings piled into a half dozen garbage bags and an old blue chest, one side caved in from an angry boot. I knelt by her side.

A steady rain formed a veil across the open garage, the spatter of water on pavement like a steady applause.

When at last she spoke, the voice belonged to a stranger, for I hadn't heard from her in months. During that time she'd become a teenager. And yet, when she looked up, I saw the girl who's wounded childhood had so captured our hearts. The Girl who could never return home. The Girl who's mother suffered from a severe case of schizophrenia, as did mine. The Girl...

"I'm tired of my things always getting thrown into garbage bags," she said.

"I'm tired of that too," I answered.

"I'm tired of bouncing all over the place. House after house. New schools, new rules, on and on."

"Our rules aren't so bad."

She hesitated, then, "So I'm staying this time? For good?"

"If you'd like."

"Do I get my own room?"

"Eventually."

"How about a TV?"

"Don't push it."

She grinned. I spotted a tear dangling from an eyelid. Then, "So I hear that you're a writer now. What's up with that?"

A chuckle rose from my throat and bounded out like an errant belch. "Yeah, something like that..."

We listened to the rain. Vehicles rolling by, each one carrying a unique drama all its own. Tires whining on wet pavement.

"So I'm home now?" she finally asked.

I swallowed. "You're home. Come on, let's unpack your things..."


The contest winners from the tour will be forthcoming!

Thanks for reading ;)

El

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Meilori's ;)


The Charming Endeavor Blog Tour has led Danny Kaufman and I toward the farthest reaches of our ever changing landscape. From the scorched earth and tangerine-scented flavor of the Deep South, to the Windy City that never sleeps. From across the Great Pond where the Old City sparks nostalgia, to the Piedmont Grille in Carolina Blue. We risked a frigid night or two up North of the Border, and wandered across the Great Salt Lake. We journeyed into the past for a memory and a giggle with Nicki Elson. We shed a tear over Olivia J. Herrell's touching review. We shared a deep dish with Michael Di Gesu. And along the way, spoke at length with the Golden Eagle.

But it was upon our journey home from Cali, and visit with dear friend Donna Hole, when Danny and I ventured south, our sights set for the Bayou, and a visit long overdue.

When offered the invitation, I hesitated but for a moment, deciding whether or not to review my life insurance policy before packing my things. For this trip would be like no other...

Roland Yeomans needs no introduction. Perhaps the most inspired writer in Blogland and beyond, his gifted penmanship has lured more than nine hundred followers to his posts, those spirited tales narrated from visitors beyond the grave.

We've sparked a friendship, Roland and I, a storytelling duo of sorts. An admiration of each other's work.

And so when he invited Danny Kaufman and I down to the Bayou for a sit down at Meilori's, that famous 'Nawlins Nightclub where the dead like to play, I leaped at the opportunity...

So come along with Danny and I, as our month-long journey comes to an end, but not before a visit to Meilori's, sharing drinks and a festive chat with Roland Yeomans...and whoever else may drop by ;)


Enjoy!

El

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Off to Cali for a visit with Donna Hole


...there's just something invigorating about the west coast. Something in the air when the breeze playfully slaps you on the cheek, a taste of singed elm from that distant bonfire dancing its shadows along a beach. The sands littered with surfers, sightseers, and the locals, their bronzed bodies glittering under the setting sun...

Donna Hole and I watch the scene from a distance, chatting of the good times and the bad. Of the writing industry and all of its changes over the years.

This marks my second invite to Donna's, a writer herself, and successful social worker. Considering how I'm a foster parent, the stars were aligned perfectly for our chance meet, and ensuing friendship with common interests.

So click on over to Donna's Digs and read along, our conversation about "South of Charm," and the ever challenging task of parenting a house full of bruised and battered children, as the bonfires sputter and cackle well into the night...


Thanks for reading ;)

El

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

An Eagle's Perspective...


...what's a tour without a quick stop at the Eagle's Nest? One of the most respected book reviewers throughout Blogland, The Golden Eagle has invited me to join her atop the roost for a writerly chat about "South of Charm," along with her own take on the story.

It's a bit breezy up here, but the view's to die for ;)

One click of the mouse and you're there...


This tour's hit the homestretch... Thanks for following!

El


Monday, October 24, 2011

Remembering the Good Old Days with Nicki Elson

...spending Monday sharing some "Not-So-Deep-Thoughts" with Nicki Elson, fellow writer and '80's enthusiast. We'll be discussing exactly why both her and myself decided on an '80's theme for our recent releases, "Three Daves," and "South of Charm."

She's a witty one, that Nicki. I shall do my best to keep up ;)

The tour suffers an 80's flashback...hop on over and check it out!


El

Friday, October 21, 2011

Heading north for the Weekend ;)


...Wendy Tyler Ryan, author of "Fire's Daughter," has graciously invited me north of the border for a writerly chat featuring both of our releases. For those of you who've yet to introduce yourselves while trekking through Blogland, she's one of the most talented writers you'll meet, (I should know, "Fire's Daughter" was snatched up on my Kindle on its release date.)

Pack the gear, kiddos, we're spending the weekend in Canada ;)

Hop on over and check it out!


Thanks so much, Wendy for the invite, and have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

El

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spending the afternoon hangin' with "That Rebel" under the Georgia sun ;)


...the first time my son planted his feet onto Georgia soil, he tilted his face toward the morning sun, inhaled a breath, the intoxicating salt from the nearby coast causing his tongue to tingle, and said with a smirk, "Dad, this place is intense."

Olivia J. Herrell, a Georgia Peach with a writer's voice that sings, has graciously posted her thoughts, and the conversation we shared, over the publication of my recent release, "South of Charm."

...this girl's something else, constantly touting my poetic voice, (without realizing how envious I am of hers ;)

Click the mouse and you're there!


Thanks for reading!

El

Monday, October 17, 2011

...A Monday Morning Interview with Christine Danek


...Monday mornings are typically reminiscent of such fond duties as pulling teeth, or visiting the local license bureau during the noon rush hour. On this day, however, I offer a little something to ease the doldrums of the week's infancy.

The Charming Endeavor road trip journeys eastward for a visit with interior designer / aspiring writer, Christine Danek.

She'll be offering pointers on the improvement of my cluttered office space, as I share my experience on the publishing process of "South of Charm."

Call it a day for renovating and reading ;)

Click on over to "Christine's Journey" and check it out!


and to win...

-All my current followers have already earned themselves 1 point.
-Any new followers I meet along the way will be awarded 1 point.
-All who comment on any of my blog stops in October will earn 2 points.
-Anyone who leaves reviews for "South of Charm" on either Amazon or GoodReads will earn 5 points.
-At months end, my most behaved foster child for that particular day will be choosing the winners, (trust me, that's a win/win for the entire family ;)
El

Thursday, October 13, 2011

So Close, but...In Time ;)


...we both spend our winters warding off the mid-western chill. Our work resonates like that of a set of twins living across the country from one another, yet still somehow knowing what the other is doing, and thinking at all times...

Okay, perhaps it's not that creepy, but Micheal Di Gesu and I tend to write with very similar voices, and often times of related subject matter. Not a week goes by when I finish reading one of his posts over at "In Time" and think to myself, "Holy smokes! That's what I would'a said!"

Today we meet up in the Windy City to hash it all out. Just a couple of guys rambling on about "South of Charm," the lousy weather, and the power of a sensitive "voice."

One click and you're there...check it out!


and don't forget about my contest...

-All my current followers have already earned themselves 1 point.
-Any new followers I meet along the way will be awarded 1 point.
-All who comment on any of my blog stops in October will earn 2 points.
-Anyone who leaves reviews for "South of Charm" on either Amazon or GoodReads will earn 5 points.
-At months end, my most behaved foster child for that particular day will be choosing the winners, (trust me, that's a win/win for the entire family ;)

EL

Monday, October 10, 2011

A View from The White Pages


...normally Mondays are nothing to write home about, today however, is worth a bit more than a simple mention and a smoldering cup of coffee.

Sarah Pearson from The Empty White Pages posted a review of "South of Charm," along with a little Q & A...just a little something to actually look forward to while struggling with the opening pages of a new week ;)

Sarah's a dear friend, an admitted bookworm, and an avid storyteller. Hop on over to see what she thinks of her journey through "Charm!"


...and don't forget about the contest!

El

Friday, October 7, 2011

...Spending the Weekend on the Piedmont Grille!


...not sure about you guys, but from where I'm sitting, the skies are a dream with a happy ending ;)

Hello from the Piedmont Grille, where the autumn temps carry enough warmth to spark nostalgia, the breeze at sunset smelling of barbecue lathered in hickory and herbs.

I'm spending a quiet Carolina evening with fellow writer and good friend, Anne Gallagher at the Piedmont Grille. She recently finished "South of Charm," and has offered her thoughts, along with a question or two about a boy named Danny Kaufman, and something or other about an interesting cat.

The Grille's sizzling up a feast that'll make one's heart swoon. Stop on over and check it out!


El


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

...Cornered by Lola's Wolf Pack ;)


...what's a tour of the promised lands without a stop at Lola's and her well-mannered reader base known as The Wolf-Pack?

The lovely Lola Sharp has pinned "South of Charm" under a microscope and won't let go until I spill the beans!

Lola's a fun pal to hang with, making for an entertaining stop along my road trip.

Hop on over and check it out ;)


And don't forget about the contest...

-All my current followers have already earned themselves 1 point.
-Any new followers I meet along the way will be awarded 1 point.
-All who comment on any of my blog stops in October will earn 2 points.
-Anyone who leaves reviews for "South of Charm" on either Amazon or GoodReads will earn 5 points.
-At months end, my most behaved foster child for that particular day will be choosing the winners, (trust me, that's a win/win for the entire family ;)
El

Monday, October 3, 2011

...Plummeting down the Mountain @ Karen G's!


...as you read this, I'm accompanying KarenG on a literary trek "Down the Mountain," sharing war stories on the publishing biz, and the passion behind penning a classic...

Hop on over and check it out!


...and don't forget about the prizes for following along ;)

El





-All my current followers have already earned themselves 1 point.
-Any new followers I meet along the way will be awarded 1 point.
-All who comment on any of my blog stops in October will earn 2 points.
-Anyone who leaves reviews for "South of Charm" on either Amazon or GoodReads will earn 5 points.
-At months end, my most behaved foster child for that particular day will be choosing the winners, (trust me, that's a win/win for the entire family ;)


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

...click your heels and off we go!



...long time writer, first time on tour ;)

The bags are packed, the kids have been tucked in for the night, the wife's been kissed good-bye..."A Charming Endeavor" book tour is set for launch on Monday the 3rd, as I hit the road with little more than the clothes on my back, a full tank of gas, and copies of "South of Charm" crammed into my trunk.

On to the dates...(which are tentative, but close to within a day or two. And who's keeping score anyway? Afterall, we're writers, being flighty is part of the game ;)

Monday, October 3rd - Heading westward for a visit with fellow writer, KarenG.

Wednesday, October 5th - Stopping by "Sharp Pen/Dull Sword" and the lovely Lola Sharp.

Friday, October 7th - Cruising south to Carolina for some southern style gossip with Anne Gallagher at Piedmont Writer.

Monday, October 10th - Celebrating Columbus Day with Sarah Pearson at "Empty White Pages."

Thursday, October 13th - Off to the Windy City for some deep dish, a bottle of suds, and a chat with Michael Di Gesu.

Monday, October 17th - Heading northeast for a long awaited visit with Christine Danek , from "Christine's Journey."

Wednesday, October 19th - The Deep South awaits! Off to Georgia to soak up the sun and chat it up with Olivia J. Herrell, "That Rebel With a Blog."

Friday, October 21st - Headed north of the border for a visit with fellow storyteller, Wendy Tyler Ryan, talented author of "Fire's Daughter."

Monday, October 24th - Nicki Elson, an 80's historian, and the successful author of "Three Daves," takes a quick break during her own road trip to share war stories about life on the road.

Wednesday, October 26th - Talented book reviewer, The Golden Eagle, puts "South of Charm" under the microscope and reveals her thoughts.

Thursday, October 27th - Off to Cali for a second visit with talented writer and long time friend, Donna Hole.

Saturday, October 29th - Ending the road trip with a visit to Meilori's, and a much anticipated chat with Roland Yeomans, down in the Bayou.

And what's a tour without prizes along the way...

At month's end, I'll be giving away signed copies of my book, "South of Charm," two $25.00 gift cards from Barnes & Noble, and upon it's highly anticipated release, Stephen King's new thriller, "11/22/63," due out on November 8th.

and to win...

-All my current followers have already earned themselves 1 point.
-Any new followers I meet along the way will be awarded 1 point.
-All who comment on any of my blog stops in October will earn 2 points.
-Anyone who leaves reviews for "South of Charm" on either Amazon or GoodReads will earn 5 points.
-At months end, my most behaved foster child for that particular day will be choosing the winners, (trust me, that's a win/win for the entire family ;)

Thanks for reading,

and....we're off!

El



Monday, September 19, 2011

"A Charming Endeavor" - Blog Tour



...while I suspect it won't generate the type of following that an Eagles Reunion Tour would surely anticipate, we're hoping for the best.

Happy to announce that in October, I will be blazing a trail across BloggerLand, promoting "South of Charm," chatting it up with fellow storytellers and friends, while meeting new writers along the way.

Dutifully named, "A Charming Endeavor," the journey will begin at KarenG's on October 3rd, and running through the entire month before finishing up at Meilori's, and a much anticipated chat with my friend and yours, Roland Yeomans.

Along the way, there'll be signed copies of "South of Charm" up for grabs, Barnes & Noble gift cards, and even a copy or two from several of the greats, (courtesy of my editor, who owns a book store ;)

Contest details will be forthcoming. But until then...

"...none of us had seen the cat since returning from Washington. We'd thought perhaps he'd moved on, considering how we'd forgotten to leave him any food during our absence. Yet there he was, poised on weary haunches, considering my emotional state with calm reserve. I hadn't noticed him sitting there until that moment, never sensed his presence nearby.

Feeling the muscles in my arm growing stiff, I turned my back to the tabby and threw another pitch. Then another. Pop, bounce, breathe.

Now I did feel the cat's gaze. Ageless golden gems piercing holes into my back. I offered him a glance, then threw. Pop, bounce, breathe.

I'd always thought cats tended to follow movement. An insatiable desire to stalk anything considered a possible threat, or their next meal. Yet with every pitch, the tabby never once took interest in the ball's trajectory, choosing to focus its attention on me instead.

Unnerved, I finally turned and answered his stare with one of my own. A boy and a cat, caught up in a moment of solace. His face revealed no purpose driving its behavior. With the exception of an occasional twitch from a partially mangled ear, his expression was vacant.

My breathing slowed. My anger grew tolerant. The question left my mouth with little thought in advance. "Well, what am I supposed to do?"

Unblinking, he tilted his head as if to say, "Come on kid, be reasonable. I'm a cat."

When at last he sauntered off, I half expected him to do so on two legs, hunched over an ancient cane crafted from a downed hickory..."

"South of Charm"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"When it Happened..."


...I was working the night shift in those days. Eleven to seven. The kind of lifestyle only a vampire or a night owl could fully appreciate.

My oldest was nearing his fifth birthday, his younger brother still in diapers, stumbling about on a set of knobby knees, and a belly that prevented him from seeing what his toes looked like.

On this particular morning, a day playing host to a cloudless sky so blue, its beauty boasted the strength to cause even the most disgruntled of my coworkers to pause in wonder, I was asked to stay over an hour or two in order to catch up on the day's workload. I grudgingly agreed.

The drive home proved uneventful. Indian Summer was in full swing, the sun's glare squeezing tears from a set of eyes that were desperate for a warm bed in a dark room, a rarity at the time.

A flock of geese flew overhead, their 'V' formation pointed toward South Beach. I figured they probably had a month to spare before the winds grew wicked, and they'd be forced to ride out the inevitable winter storm.

I can remember the steady flow of traffic in my exhausted state. A young mother pushing her toddler on the sidewalk, a set of tiny velcro-strapped shoes poking out of a hooded stroller.

I remember sitting at a red light, and despite my fatigue, rather enjoying the morning commute.

And I remember turning on the radio, listening to the a.m. headlines...

The television was already on when I burst through the front door. My wife, who rarely watches much TV to this day, was standing before the screen, her mouth agape. She offered me a glance, an index finger drawing my attention to the source of her shocked expression. I joined her in the living room, the two of us standing before the television, watching as billowing smoke and plumes of fire burst from a building in New York City.

At our feet, the boys had awakened, one of them already whining for breakfast, the other simply concentrating on placing one foot in front of the other without losing his balance. On this day however, their needs were not tended to with the normal promptness that they'd grown accustomed to receiving.

"They're not sure what happened," my wife said. "Maybe a bomb or something."

"It's all over the radio," I said.

"It's all over everywhere," she said.

And as we watched, standing before our television on that sun-filled autumn morning, an airplane entered the corner of our screen. There was a moment of confusion, no more than a second at most, as the jetliner angled its descent, pointing its nose at the second building.

I sucked in a breath, and by then it was over.

A tug on my pant leg caused me to glance down at my son, using my frozen posture as his support beam. He considered my shocked expression, giggled as if the world had not changed forever only a moment earlier, and then continued on his way, one step at a time...

That's where I was when it happened. Where were you?

El

Sunday, September 4, 2011

And "Dog" spelled backward is...


...as I sit here at my desk, fingers drumming over keys, Prince, my trusted Weimaraner, rests at my feet. Using the monotonous drone of a ticking keyboard as white noise, the occasional snort escapes through a set of dangling lips that only a mother could love...or his best pal ;)

When my fingers hover over the keys, thoughts wandering, an eye the color of a diamond studies me from the floor, one loppy ear lifted in question. And if he could talk, I can only assume that he'd be asking, "Hey, think you can keep writing so I can finish my siesta down here?"

Prince, now six years young, was rescued from a Weimaraner puppy mill in North Carolina while barely old enough to amble along on four over sized paws. His fur the color of smoke, gifted with the demeanor of an old friend, we've remained attached through thick and thin since the day we met. Birthed from a set of malnourished and beaten parents, whose sole purpose was to generate offspring, Prince is not without his issues. But we work through them together, and we struggle onward as best we can.

I unfortunately failed to check in until after Pedigree's mid-night deadline, but will nonetheless spread the news of their quest, a spirited march toward canine longevity.

Please read below and if possible, donate to Pedigree's effort. Afterall, as we all know, in this day and age, friends and loved ones may come and go, but that pup trotting along at your side, its nails clicking over concrete like fingers over a keyboard, will remain loyal throughout its life.

Treat them well ;)

Pedigree is resurrecting its insanely successful Write a Post, Help a Dog program. In 2010, 391 bloggers wrote about the program and with each post, Pedigree donated 20 pounds of its Healthy Longevity dog food to shelter animals. In all, 7,820 pounds of food was donated to two shelters renowned for their care of senior dogs: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and Castaway Critters in Harrisburg, Pa.

How you can help in 2011

Simply spread the word about Write a Post, Help a Dog 2011 and once again Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of food for each blogger's post. Here's all you need to include in your post:

The Write a Post, Help a Dog program is aimed at raising awareness and food for the more than four million dogs that wind up in shelters and breed rescues each year.
For each blog post mentioning the Pedigree Foundation from now until midnight ET on September 3, Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of its new dry Pedigree recipe food for dogs -- its best recipe ever -- to a shelter, because every dog deserves leading nutrition.

The Pedigree Foundation -- a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization is committed to helping dogs by providing grants to shelters and rescues and encouraging dog adoption. This year the Foundation has already raised more than $376,570 against its goal of $1.5 million to carry out its work to fund grants that not only help shelters operate, but to further shelter innovations.
The Pedigree Foundation depends on charitable contributions from individuals to carry out its mission to help dogs find loving homes. In addition to writing a blog post, here's how you can help:

Donate online at http://pedigreefoundation.org/donate.aspx
Apply for a shelter grant from the Pedigree Foundation by completing a form at www.pedigreefoundation.org
Purchase Dogs Rule Gear at www.dogsrulegear.com where the proceeds go to the Pedigree Foundation to help loving dogs find a home. SPECIAL OFFER: Get 10 percent off Dogs Rule Gear by using the promo code BlogPaws10 from August 22 - September 30.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Groundings and Such...




...there's a girl I know, lives down the street. I'd guess her to be fourteen, perhaps a bit older, but too young to drive. As it turns out, she was grounded for the majority of her summer break by her stepmother, a most common result for many teenagers following an errant decision, some risky adventure gone awry.

The cause of this girl's dilemma however, has left many of us shaking our heads in dismay. Her crime? The reason behind her having to remain imprisoned while her friends spent July and August at the pool?

Her stepmother accused her of reading too much.

As my son, (who happens to be pals with the girl's older brother) explained it to me the other day, the girl is an avid bookworm, no doubt more so than many, if not all of her peers. On this particular afternoon, she was in the process of finishing up a YA novel, my son seems to think it was "Mockingjay," by Suzanne Collins, when her stepmother stormed into her room and demanded for her to go outside and enjoy the day. She responded with a nod, and quietly left her room for the great outdoors...cradling the book under her arm. Minutes later, her stepmother found her lying under the shade of a mature elm, her face buried in the story.

Stepmother yanked the book from her grasp and proceeded to ground the girl from reading anything for the remainder of the summer.

No, really.

Considering how, with every breath we exhale, somewhere on this planet there's a girl of the same age, bent over the edge of a stained mattress within the bowels of an apartment complex sagging from the wear and tear of cruelty and neglect. Her expression a blank, a pair of eyes the color of aged chestnuts, dilated and distant, she's shoving a needle into her arm as her next door neighbor, a man twice her age, stands behind her, feeding his needs, as she feeds hers.

And meanwhile, there's a girl down the street who simply wants to finish reading her book...and yet she can't.

***

On a brighter note, per my editor's request, I stopped by the local library the other day, a copy of "South of Charm," in hand. Feeling a bit nervous, I approached the librarian in charge, a thirty-something brunette who was all but entrenched in whatever was displayed on her computer monitor, and quietly asked if she would be at all interested in accepting a copy of my recent release as a donation for their shelves.

She glanced up, then back down, then hesitated, the wrinkles of her brow quenching. Her gaze settled on my cover, a pair of thin fingers gliding over the matte finish. Then her eyes widened, her mouth opening as if on the verge of releasing a yelp. I stepped back, fearing the worst, when she said, "It's you."

Not sure how to answer, I hesitated, then asked, "It is?"

"You're him," she continued, her forefinger now tapping upon the story's cover. "You did this. I recognize you from that review in the paper."

The hand left my cover and extended, offering me a congratulatory shake. I accepted.

"It's an honor," she said.

I glanced around, feeling the weight of more than a few passerby, their heads tilted, gazes straining.

"Really, it's no big deal," I mumbled. "I just thought maybe you'd like a copy of my book."

I watched as my story was lifted off the counter, wielded as if it were Arthur's famed sword, and then clutched to her side. "If you don't mind, I'd like to keep this one, and we'll buy a few for circulation."

I swallowed. "Okay. That would be fine."

"Thank you so much."

"Um...yeah. Thank you too."

***

Come to think of it, there's a girl down the street. Rumor has it, she enjoys a healthy story now and then. Perhaps one of these days when she checks her mail box, she'll find a book inside addressed to her. An anonymous package wrapped in brown paper, a good read for a youngster who savors the written word. And if lucky, perhaps her stepmother will give it a look-see as well.

Thanks for reading,

EL

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Holding the Keys...



...occasionally, while enjoying a timeless classic, written by a storyteller capable of breathing life into a plot deemed hopeless by others, I stumble across a phrase that promotes a snicker in between paragraphs. A line or two meant purely for us, his or her peers, the writing populace, roaming about, heads down, carrying on our days on the wings of hope.

While finishing up "Boy's Life," by Robert McCammon, I read the following on page 527...

...the Lady regarded me with her shining emerald eyes. "You still gonna be a writer?" she asked me.

"I don't know," I said.

"Seems to me a writer gets to hold a lot of keys," she said. "Gets to visit a lot of worlds and live in a lot of skins. Seems to me a writer has a chance to live forever, if he's good and if he's lucky. Would you like that, Cory? Would you like to live forever?"

I thought about it. Forever, like Heaven, was an awfully long time. "No ma'am," I decided. "I think I might get tired."

"Well," she said, and she placed a hand on my shoulder, "it seems to me a writer's voice is a forever thing. Even if a boy and a man are not..."


Subliminal messages. Sent by those who can. Understood by those of us who continue to listen, and continue onward...

So tell me, who's holding the keys this evening? Who's got a story to share?

Thanks for reading ;)

EL

Monday, August 8, 2011

Anita's "Scary Release!"




...nothing beats the socks off a muggy evening made for gators and things that go bump in the night, like "A Scary Good Book," from a writer who knows how to keep 'em turning the pages ;)

Anita Laydon Miller, book columnist for the Colorado Springs Gazette, and the author of "Earthling Hero," has on this day, the 8th of the 8th, released her latest work, "A Scary Good Book."

...twelve-year old Hannah Stone tells everyone she's "okay," but that's a total lie. Two years ago her dad was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The detective in charge of the case never found the driver, but he somehow managed to get Hannah's mom to fall in love with him. The Jerk. And speaking of love, Hannah's developed a major crush on Ollie Ortega-he's her best friend and the only one she can talk to-a crush on Ollie is so not a good idea.

Also not a good idea? Searching for a missing person with no help from the police. But that's exactly what Hannah does when she finds messages in library books-underlined words that point her in the direction of someone who needs her.

And suddenly, Hannah's even further from okay. She breaks into a library, gets caught in a kidnapper's web, and is stalked by her dad's killer, all in an effort to save a life...but can she save herself too?

"A Scary Good Book" is listed for $.99 and is available under the links below.

Smashwords:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/77904


B&N:

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/A-Scary-Good-Book/Anita-Laydon-Miller/e/2940013164963


Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005FNGIBW


http://anitalaydonmiller.blogspot.com/


Enjoy ;)


EL