Category Archives: blog

  • 0
picture of a microphone

I got interviewed!

Category:blog Tags : 

Y’all, every once in a while, something happens that makes me go “wait, what? Me?!?”

One of those just recently happened. I was interviewed for the Author of the Day on Manybooks.net!

Being a writer is a lonely job. I used to think it meant that as a writer you spent so much of your time observing and considering human behavior that you rarely spent time to just enjoy the moment and be present.

Turns out, no, being a writer is spending an incredible amount of time sitting in front of a computer typing. It’s a lonely job because you’re alone for most of doing it.

Yeah, I have some crazy ideas sometimes.

Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah! Being a writer means being alone a lot of the time and when someone says “hey, would you like to be interviewed?” it comes as kind of a shock. Why would anyone want to talk to lil ol me?

Which is exactly why you should read the interview where I talk about my latest release A Blood Moon Swindle! You’ll find out how Quinn actually took over the story from what I had planned.

No, really, that happened. Quinn took over the story one time.

Check it out!

  • 0

Stay Home and flatten the curve

Category:blog Tags : 


So, there’s this pandemic thing going on right now. You’ve probably noticed.

Anyway. I can’t help with the medical stuff. I don’t have money to donate to charities or causes that will help those in need.

But I can do something. I’ve written a bunch of stories and sell them on Amazon. I’ve made them all free for the next few days. From March 22nd to March 24th, to be exact.

If you have an Amazon Kindle, you can download them all for free.

They’re not the best written books in the history of literature. But they’ll entertain you for a few hours while you stay home.

Download them here: https://whistlelock.com/stayhome

  • 0
Game of Thrones HBO Logo

Game of Thrones


Okay.  So. Game of Thrones.

It’s finally over.  6  amazing seasons and 2 really good ones.

I can understand that a lot of people found the ending to be…less than satisfying.  I think it would be really easy to feel short changed by the sudden ending for some of the characters. 


Because Game of Thrones is still an epic fantasy and there are certain tropes that you have to abide by. And one of those is that the Dark Lord is defeated at the end.

I’m not talking about the Night King.  I’m talking about Daenerys Stormborn of the Houe Targaryen, the First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, The rightful Queen of the Seven Kingdomes and Protector of the Realm, Queen of Dragonstone, Queen of Mareen, Khaleesi fo the Great Grass Sea, the Unburnt, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons, regent of the realm and  the Queen of Ash.

She was always the threat that was going to end the world.

But let me get back to tropes.  I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy over the years. There’s always a dark lord. There’s always disparate human (and other races) forces that don’t want to work together. The dark lord is always coming from the east or the south. They’ve always got a great big huge scary army and monsters.

There’s always a noble lord from the north or the west. He’s always doing the right thing. Despite being a feudal lord, he totally believes in truth and justice.  And he’s super humble. He’s probably got a prophecy or Great Destiny going on too.

He unites the disparate kingdoms of the good people. They join together for an epic battle against darkness. Then there’s a big fight between Prince Good Guy and the Dark Lord.

And Martin sets all of that up.

There’s the North.  We have the crazy ice zombie Other’s out there. They’re led by the Night King.

Then there’s Ned. He always does the right thing. Except one time he did the wrong thing and cheated on his wife. But right after that he does the right thing and brings that bastard home to raise with his other kids.

For the first book, Ned is the man. He’s hitting all the beats for the Noble Prince who will unite the human kingdoms and defeat the evil ice zombies from beyond the wall.

And then he gets his head cut off.

That’s when Martin tells you that everything you think you know about epic fantasy needs to get tossed out the window. None of what you expect to happen is going to happen.

We watched Daenrys go from a scared girl being used as a bargaining piece to the leader of the Dothroki. From there she moved up to leveling cities and taking over whole sections of Essos.

Every step of the way, when she would be stopped or denied what she wanted, Daenrys would say that she was going to take what belonged to her, because it was her right, and she would burn and kill anyone who stood in her way.

Which is exactly what she did in every season.

The great trick that Martin pulled was that for book after book/ season after season, we watched the rise of a Dark Lord and cheered for her every step of the way. We agreed that those bad people over there needed to be torched, killed, or brutally crucified.

the Queen of Ashes

But it was always there. She was always a conqueror, not a ruler. She would kick over a city, take it over, and then rule based on whim. And whe it got complicated and messy, she peaced out to kick over another anthill on her way to Westeros.

She was always going to set out to conquer the world with Fire & Blood. It always was an Epic Fantasy story, just not being told the way we expected it to be told.

And in Epic Fantasy, the Dark Lord always loses.


  • 0
Garrison Brothers logo

In which I explain why I bought my 5 year old his own bottle of whiskey.

Category:blog Tags : 

What is actually many years ago but doesn’t feel like it’s been more than  5 years ago, I was part of a wedding of a college friend. His name is Brian.  Brian is a great guy. He’s an officer in the Army, he’s got 3 amazing kids, and a spectacular wife.

Why do I bring Brian up?  Because of his dad.

You see, at that wedding, Brian’s dad David had a special gift for him. You see, upon the occasion of Brian’s birth, David had gone to the liquor store and purchased a bottle of Wild Turkey.  He held on to that bottle year after year, until his son had graduated from college, got married, and then received his commission in the Army. AT the wedding, he gave Brian that bottle.

I thought that was the coolest thing. When his son was born, he had a vision of giving that future son a bottle of something that was as old as he was.  It was touching. He wanted to mark that future occasion by being able to call back to that birth. To have some tangible thing to hand off, to say to him, “I have carried this with me as I have carried you. You’re a man now. It’s time to go out in the world. You’ll probably want a stiff drink before you go. It’s wild out there.”

So, fast forward a few years later, and my wife is about to give birth to a son. I couldn’t forget what David had done, how he had gone to the store to mark an occasion that was happening then and would happen 20 years in the future. I decided that I would to it too.

So, just before the scheduled birth date, I went to the liquor store. I have never cared for Wild Turkey (oh, it’s fine, but it’s not high on my purchase list). I also thought with the explosion of craft distilling I should probably get something from Texas.  Like make it a theme, you know? We’re in Texas, he’s born in Texas, the whiskey was made in Texas.

That’s when I discovered Garrison Brothers Distillery.

They’re a Texas distillery. But there are two specific reasons I bring this up. You see, most small distilleries actually buy their whiskey from the big stills in Tennessee or Kentucky and have a Master Blender mix the spirits to create their specific flavor.  Often the whiskey is then bottled at the source and shipped to the specific state to have a label slapped on it.

Garrison doesn’t do that.  Garrison Brothers logo

Garrison Brothers Distillery makes, and I’m going to quote them here, ” Our bourbon is made – from corn-to-cork – in Hye, Texas, one barrel at a time. It’s handcrafted from a sweet mash of premium, #1 food-grade corn, soft red winter wheat from local farms, and two row barley.”

In other words, it’s a Texas whiskey made from grains grown in Texas, distilled in Texas, Aged in Texas, and bottled in Texas.  If you distilled Texas into a whiskey, it would taste like this.

And I was like “OH, this is perfect! I can get my son who was conceived and born in Texas a whiskey that was also conceived and born in Texas! Yay!”  I snatched a bottle off the shelf. Just then a helpful employee came by.

He said, “Oh, Garrison brothers. They’re great. I think they’re the only ones who label when and where the grain came from and what year it was distilled.”

I turned the bottle to look on the side. And sure enough, not only was the year it was bottled. But the type of wheat they used, what county it was grown in, the year it was harvested, the year it was distilled, they year it was aged, and the year it was bottled!

This was more than perfect! It was destiny!

Except there was one small problem…The process takes 4 years. So the bottle I was holding right then was from 2007. It was 2011. I would have to wait 4 years before the whiskey for my son would be available.

So I waited.

In that time I had a second son. I moved to a new city.  I set a reminder in my Google calendar. And in the Summer of 2015, it was time.   I went to the nearest liquor store first. I walk in and asked if they had the newest bottles from Garrison.

And like the destiny I knew it to be, the clerk said, “Yeah, I just put it out.”

I went over to the bourbon shelf, and there it was! A smooth $80 later, I was the owner of a bottle of whiskey that I wasn’t going to drink for at least 16 years when I gifted it to my oldest son, The Elder Spawn.

When I got home I showed it to my wife and she said, “Oh, yeah, I forgot you wanted to do that. Neat. Now go change your youngest son’s diaper.”

If you’re thinking “wow, what a great dad. He changed diapers.”

You’re totally right, I am a great dad.

Because! I also swore at that moment to get a similar bottle for my other son, the Younger Spawn.  I set the calendar reminders. This time we didn’t move cities so I figured it would be easier. He was born in 2013, so hit the stores in 2017.

Except it didn’t work out that way.

I went to the store I’d gone to before. They didn’t have any. In fact, they still had some Garrison from the year I’d bought 3 years earlier!

I went to other stores. The same thing. They had bottles of Garrison available. But nothing from the year I needed. Over the course of the next year, I would locate and drive to another liquor store to see if they had the year I was looking for.

I contacted the distillery. They said that the bottles had been shipped. They even gave me a list of stores that had received it in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  I drove to each one of those.

Nothing. The bottles for 2013 weren’t there.

I kept going to the stores. Nothing. Store after store. By now I had learned which stores were selling and which ones just dusted theirs off. But still no luck. 2017 turned into 2018.

But it was looking like the destiny that had fallen on me for the Elder Spawn was in short supply for the Younger Spawn.

Until I noticed that a large chain liquor store was opening just down the highway. And I thought, “well, if anywhere will need a sudden supply of whiskey it will be a place like that. And one of the sister stores carried the label but didn’t have the right year. I better check it out.”

I walked straight to the bourbon section- at this point I have kind of a sense of where that’s gonna be- and went to the G section.  And there at the top shelf, helpfully turned to the side to show me the date, was a bottle of Garrison Brother’s Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Harvested in 2012. Distilled and casked in 2013.

Destiny fulfilled!  AND because it was a grand opening, I got 10% off.

Destiny fulfilled with a savings bonus!

So now, when my sons have grown into men and are ready to go out into the world I will have something for them. I will say, “Hey, you’re a man now. I’ve carried this bottle with me for as long as I have carried you. It’s time to go out in the world. It’s wild out there. You’re going to need a stiff drink.”

  • 0
cover image for Fortune's Pawn

The Paradox Series

Category:blog,Book,Recommendation,Reviews Tags : 

cover image for Fortune's Pawn

First book in Rachel Bach’s Paradox series

3 stars out of 5

I liked it well enough




Okay,  so up front I want to say that I’m giving the 3 star rating to the series as a whole, not the first book.

Lemme break this down: as I said on my Goodreads review for Fortune’s Pawn that I’ve read a lot of books that claim to be Star Wars + Star Craft = Awesome.  All of these have sucked.  All of them.

Except for Fortune’s Pawn. It is a mash up of Star Wars and Star Craft. There’s a space marine in power armor. She’s bad ass! She kicks, punches, stabs, or shoots her way out of every problem.  Devi is a fantastic “jarhead” protagonist.

Although she wouldn’t use that term. In the book there’s the SkullHead term that I think is supposed to replace that, but let’s be honest here, Devi is a jarhead. As a soldier, I use that term for Devi out of respect. She’s a great character.

There’s a well built romance between her and the shy/cool/aloof ship’s cool. He’s got a dark secret that she wants to uncover!

Oh, and there’s the Force. Although it’s not called The Force, and it’s not an all-mystical power out making decisions for everyone. But it’s the Force. There’s a space religion setup around it. No Jedi, thankfully, but yeah, it’s The Force.

The second book in the series is really good too! There’s a lot of twists about who you thought the bad guys and the good guys where. Lotsa ups and downs.  You find out the cool/aloof guy’s dark secret (his name is Rupert).

Anyway, Rupert does a thing at the end of the first book. It’s not cool. I’m not gonna spoil it, but it’s part of the ending reversal. It’s the sort of thing that ends relationships permanently.

In my opinion, it’s an unforgivable thing that he does.

Anyway, of course Devi finds the truth. She punches, shoots, stabs, and kicks her way out of trouble to snatch victory from the literal jaws of defeat.  And the book ends with Devi and Rupert (the cool aloof dark secret guy) locked in a small ship together.

In Book 3, Heaven’s Queen, the story takes a real crap turn. It’s like Rachel had a “star crossed lovers” checklist and she was going down the list to check off each point.  Like Romance Novel style check list of isolating the pair in a nice setting, they clean up and walk around in shirts/no shirts. Then a jealous old flame shows up.

It was so forced and annoying that I started skimming pages to get past that stuff to the rest of the story- which was still really interesting.

The Devi/Rupert romance really really dragged the book down and really lowered my enjoyment of the series as a whole. I thought she should have shot Ruppert in the head, along with the other two responsible for the Bad Thing that happened at the end of book 1.

So. Overall, I give the series 3 stars.  The first book gets 5 stars! The second book gets 4 stars. And the third gets 1.

Do I still recommend the series?  Yeah. I still do. Other than that forced relationship with Devi & Rupert, it’s a great story that I really enjoyed.

  • 0

Neo Noir Story Bundle

Category:blog,Book Tags : 

Y’all, something kind of amazing happened a few weeks ago.

A few weeks after launching the Eight in the Chamber Box set I got an email. It was a fairly simple email of introduction and a request: would I be willing to participate in a big box set of Noir-style novels for Story Bundle.  Story Bundle is built on the same premise as the original Humble Bundle.

Humble Bundle went like this: here’s a bunch of independently developed games you probably haven’t heard of and you tell us how much it’s worth to you. That’s how much you pay.

Story Bundle is built in the same vein as Humble Bundle.  Here’s a bunch of cool books you probably haven’t read and they’re chosen around a theme. How much is that worth to you? That’s how much you pay.

Brilliant idea.

Well, I got that email and I immediately thought “Oh, sure, Scammy McScammerson, you want my book. Hah!”  Then I thought, Oh, what if this is for real. This would be a cool thing to be a part of. I better do some research.

So, I asked around. I talked to people. Did some reading. What I found is that Story Bundle was legit, and all the people involved had fantastic reputation.

I emailed back that I’d be thrilled to participate.

So what’s the deal with this Story Bundle?

Kate Sullivan, the intrepid founder and once-mastermind of Candlemark, put together a fantabulous StoryBundle of neo-noir speculative fiction. From space opera to swords and sorcery, from horror to urban fantasy, corrupt elves, werewolf cops, ghostly soul-whisperers, and Twitter-obsessed superheroes, it’s all there— just take a gander at that snazzy lineup!

Did you see the Concrete Goodbye cover in there?  Looks pretty cool, huh?

Yeah, I thought so too.

So what’s the deal? Well, like the inspiration Humble Bundle, the Story Bundle costs as much as you think it’s worth. It starts with $5. For that $5 you get Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double.  If you think it’s worth more than $5, you pay more than $5!

Now you’re like “That sounds pretty good, but I see more titles than the ones you just listed right there.”

And that’s because if you go up to the bonus level you can get ALL the titles: Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double, Green Light Delivery, City of Devils, Deep Space Dragnet, Hard Times in Dragon City, Fresh Hell, The Coconut Swindle, and if you sign up for the Story Bundle Newsletter  you get The Tau Ceti Transmutation!

How much do you think that’s worth?  Well, that’s what you’ll pay!

Did I mention that you can set 10% of your purchase to go to charity? Yeah, that’s right, if you buy the Neo Noir Story bundle, you can help make the world a better place.

That’s you doing dope stuff. Heck yeah!

What are the charities? Two that sit close to home for me. Girls Write Now and Might Writers. What charities are these?

Girls Write Now helps mentor girls so they can develop writing skills, leading to a more successful future no matter what path they decide to choose. From young women exploring writing to seasoned professionals practicing their craft every day, GWN is a community of women writers dedicated to providing guidance, support, and opportunities for high school girls to develop their creative, independent voices and write their way to a better future.

Mighty Writers’ mission is to teach Philadelphia kids to think and write with clarity. Our free programs combat the literacy crisis in a city where nearly half of high school students drop out and some 50% of working-age adults are functionally illiterate (can’t read bank statements, fill out job applications or easily comprehend news articles).

I have volunteered for a writing program like Girls Write now. The one that I worked for was for boys and girls in economically disadvantaged Texas schools to help teach kids how to write. The book those kids produced that year ended up in the George W. Bush presidential library.

I know, cool right?  Something I worked on ended up in a Presidential Library.

But, hey, Story Bundle!  $5 gets you Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double.

If you go bonus level you can get ALL the titles: Gods of Chicago, Mr Blank, The Concrete Goodbye, Trouble in Double, Green Light Delivery, City of Devils, Deep Space Dragnet, Hard Times in Dragon City, Fresh Hell, The Coconut Swindle, and if you sign up for the Story Bundle Newsletter  you get The Tau Ceti Transmutation!

If you bought the Eight in the Chamber box set I was a part of you’ll recognize Alex Berg and Matt Abrams. They both had stories in that box set.

But here’s the link to The Neo Noir Story bundle: https://storybundle.com/noir
You pay what you think it’s worth. And you get to help make the world a better place.

Go you!

  • 0

It’s a Best Seller!



best seller screen shot.




Y’all, something amazing happen.   Well, not to bury the lead and from that screen shot up there- I am part of a box set that became a best seller!

Which means…I’m a best selling author now!

Frankly, I’m a bit gobsmacked about it. When I left the traditional publishing model, I pretty much put any idea of  any sort of accolade like best seller.  And I have only been doing this Indie publishing thing for just over a year. So, hitting a best seller list of any sort this soon is a bit if a shock.

So I’m going to go crack another bottle of cheap California sparkling wine.

Cheers, y’all!


  • 0
The Art of the Con cover

The Art of the Con: How to Think Like a Real Hustler and Avoid Being Scammed

Category:blog,Book,Recommendation,Reviews Tags : 

The Art of the Con cover

4 out of 5 stars



A little history on why I’m suddenly reading books about Con Artists.  I had an idea for an urban fantasy series but instead of a standard detective like I’ve been writing with my Jack Story series, I decided to do something more fun; urban fantasy in a Sting/Ocean’s Eleven setting.

Which meant two things;
1) I had to watch Ocean’s Eleven and the Sting pretty much on constant loop. (skip Ocean’s 12 and 13.)
2) I needed to learn a lot about cons, con men, and how that all operated.

So, for Step 1 I bought the Sting and Ocean’s Eleven.  Great movies. Pulling off a heist or con is all in the setup and finding the motivation in their character. Like in the Sting they’re pulling the con in order to get revenge on a mob boss that ordered a hit on Luther, a venerated older con man. Played by James Earl Jones’ father, btw.

In Ocean’s Eleven, we don’t find out Danny’s motivation until we’re well into the 2nd act. If the movie has a writing flaw, it’s that one.  Oh, they set it up from the very first scene and sort of allude to it in conversation but it should be clearly sooner.

But it’s still a dang good heist movie.

The second- I needed to find books on con artists, cons, and the psychology of cons and the people who pull them.

I found this book: The Art of the Con; how to think like a real hustler and avoid being scammed.

And I have to say, it’s really good. It’s written by R. Paul Wilson, a man who has studied confidence games his entire life, and has produced, started in, and written TV shows about cons.

He breaks down the various types of cons from the short con that happens when someone walks up to you, to the mid game where you’re hooked into a situation, and the “big game” cons that take thousands of dollars from people.

Not only does he break some of them down, he runs the reader through how he pulled those exact scams on his various shows.

He even gets into the thinking of a con artist. In his view, and I would have to agree with it, that all con artists are motivated singularly by the desire for money.  They’re after the money, and they’re ready to do and say whatever it takes to get it. They’ll sacrafice everything- even their relationships- to get more money.  And they’ll blame you for letting them get away with it.

He also says that he’ll get into why people fall for the cons, but I feel like he’s less successful here.  This is why I rate it 4 stars out of 5.  He suggests rather than categorically states, that people fall for cons because they’re stupid or greedy, but because manipulated by social expectations and by the con artists.

I agree with all of those, but I also think that a fair number of people think they’re smarter than the con that they’re faced with. Like, take 3 Card Monty.  You can see that the game is rigged just by watching it for 3 seconds. But it’s easy to think everyone else is a sucker and we’re the one person who can pull this one out.

But overall, this is a really good book to read up on cons, how they work, and how the people who pull them think. If you’re looking for a book like that, I recommend this one.

  • 0
book cover

Out of the Shadows



As an American, I enjoy reading stories from non-American authors.  I really like the subtle and small differences in the usage of English slang like Take Away instead of Take Out.  Ashlee’s style is both eloquent and a smooth read.

Normally I don’t like a book that starts with one character that is “in the know” then switches to an “innocent” character who is discovering the world. I feel more comfortable as a reader when we start with the innocent and stay there. That’s just me.  Ashlee is an excellent writer, so even though that very thing happens here, I didn’t mind it and kept rolling with the story.

If I have any quibble with the story, it’s how the supernatural world fits into the normal world. It kind of felt to me like a supernatural world where everything was “out of the closet” but they’re not.  Frankly, it’s a minor quibble.  If you’re a fan of the genre, you’ll glide right past it for an enjoyable read.

  • 0
Book Cover

Dark Sacrifice


3 star rating

Dark Sacrifice is the third book in the Hidden Heritage series. I haven’t read a paranormal romance in a while and when the opportunity to read this book came up, I went for it.

Overall, it was a good read. The premise is interesting- it reminded me of Howl’s Moving Castle but more of an older/adult take on it. Not “ADULT” though.

The point that really drew me out of the story is that the characters often talked about exactly what they wanted to talk about. Which seems like a weird complaint, but think of that first scene in the Princess Bride with Wesley and Buttercup, right? She makes a demand and he says “As You Wish,” and we all know what they’re really saying to each other. There’s isn’t any of that here, and I think it really brings the work down.

I was provided a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review.