Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Puck Gets a Relaxing Massage

Whoa, you're touching me? SERIOUSLY?

Okay, I'm not promising, but I'll TRY to relax.

Well, maybe this isn't too bad...

Now that feels nice......................................

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Flesh of the Cedarwood: Read This Book

Juan Patricio is orphaned as a boy, but he grows up drawing strength from La Sierra Madre, the Mother Mountain that towers over his village.  She is there for him always, whether he is toiling as a migrant worker or fighting in the Korean war.  She inspires the artist in him, the carver of cedarwood.  Part Hispanic, part native American, Juan is looked down upon by the gringos who treat him as a foreigner in the land of his birth.  Yet he lives his life with a quiet dignity and purpose.

The Flesh of the Cedarwood, by Philip Gabino Vargas, is a touching, poetic novel honoring the achievements of the many Hispanics and native Americans forced to live in poverty, and treated as an inferior and as a foreigner in his own land, themes that have never been more current in our society. Buy the book, read it, leave a review; you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More on Dan O'Brien's Newest Project

Dan O’Brien’s latest project: Mobsters, Monsters & Nazis is a collaboration between Dan and Steve Ferchaud, who illustrated Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and the Loose Change Collection Agency. Here are a few sketches for some of the interior illustrations (which will be black and white) of the first issue. It will be released as six issues (eBooks) starting on Halloween. It is influenced by film noir, pulp comics, and an abiding love of Lovecraft. It is now available for pre-order and Dan will be promoting it heavily starting in the month of October. He would love to hear what you think of it so far! Visit him at: or on Twitter, @AuthorDanOBrien.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Latest from Dan O'Brien

Well, the time has come to announce Dan O’Brien’s latest project: Mobsters, Monsters & Nazis: a collaboration between Dan O’Brien and Steve Ferchaud, who illustrated Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and the Loose Change Collection Agency. What I am revealing today is the sketches for some of the interior illustrations (which will be black and white) of the first issue. It will be released as six issues (eBooks) starting on Halloween. It is influenced by film noir, pulp comics, and an abiding love of Lovecraft. It is now available for pre-order and Dan will be promoting it heavily starting in the month of October. He would love to hear what you think of it so far! Visit him at: or on Twitter, @AuthorDanOBrien

Monday, October 13, 2014

For Those Who Thought It Would Be Gone By Now...

No, it's still here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

In Remembrance Of My Father

My father, Edward Frank Manuel Sr., passed away this past September 11, 2014 after 91 years of a full and varied life. He grew up on a farm during the depression, served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and in the Army, put himself through college and became an accountant, and raised four children with my mother. He and I didn't always see eye-to-eye, but he taught me about as much as a father can teach. I don't believe I can actually write something that would honor him as touchingly as the following poem by my niece's daughter, his great-granddaughter.

The Great Man

I saw a great man once, walking all alone.
I asked where he was going and if I could come along.
He said, "I am going where you cannot follow;
Indeed, I am leaving, searching for tomorrow."
I asked him where tomorrow is and how we would get there.
He said, "I will walk, so long as I get there,
As for where it is, it's never really far,
It's always nearby, close to our hearts.
I hope that I find it, I really, truly do,
For when I find tomorrow, I'll be happy."
And then he turned and left, and
Never since then have I seen that great man, 
Searching for tomorrow.

We are gathered here to celebrate this great man
Who never again will have to go looking for tomorrow,
For he has found it, and now he is happy.

          Mikaela Curtis

Obituary - Edward Frank Manuel Sr.

Rest in peace, Dad.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Home Improvement?

So the house directly behind ours has been undergoing "renovation" now for more than a year. About the first thing they did in March 2013 was place this dumpster directly behind us, changing our view from one of trees and grass to this. It looks like this most of the time, since emptying a full dumpster is obviously extremely difficult and costly for a construction company. We've complained to the county, of course, but I am pretty sure that county government exists for the sake of real estate agents, developers, and construction companies, not for the people who unfortunately just live there. Anyway, since this is obviously now going to be a permanent part of our existence, we're thinking of naming it. Suggestions welcome.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Lucky Seven Game of Tag

I've been tagged in the Lucky Seven Game by the excellent and prolific writer Debbie McGowan.

How does it work?

  • Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP.
  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentences or 7 lines—as they are!
  • Tag 7 people to do the same.  
My current WIP is a project called A Feast of Famine. Here are the lines from page 77.

“What is this threat to stop the food deliveries?”
“It’s not really a threat.  It’s a practicality.  We aren’t getting any food delivered to the interior.  What we bring ashore is being looted immediately.  That is unacceptable and must be stopped.  We’re not running this program to see criminals fed while the needy continue to starve.”
“You must bring more.  When there is plenty of food, the looting will stop, because the food will have no value.”

So far I'm tagging J.P. Lane and Phillip Thurlby.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Congratulations Susan!

Think dogs are hard to train? Try working with chickens!

Way to go, Susan!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

So Now the EPA Has Me Wondering

Okay, so you remember the senior EPA adviser who had convinced all his colleagues he was really working as a secret operative for the CIA? Now it turns out there’s allegedly a “rogue national security unit” at the EPA, according to the Washington Post. Here’s the link.

Hmmm. So maybe there’s more to the Richard Paladin series than escapist entertainment? Take a look and see what I mean.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Check Out Susan's New Web Page

Susan and Falco are very excited to have their own Web page linked to the Washington Humane Society, where Susan volunteers. Take a look!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Go Read Debbie McGowan's Blog Post About Her Series!

That's an order!

"De-blog: So, I wrote a soap opera...: In The Stars Part II Trailer Out Now! ♥ It's a labour of love. ♥ I've blogged about it before. Hiding Behind The Couch - my ...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

The free excerpt from my 2014 ABNA entry could use a review or two.  Take a look. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Hop

Special thanks to Debbie McGowan for tagging me. Read her answers to the following questions at her blog, De-blog. She’s written a bunch of great books, all of which you can find at her web site, Beaten Track Publishing. Go get one and read it!

What am I working on?

Currently, I have resumed work on the fourth novel in my Richard Paladin series. These are quasi-espionage/thriller spoofs told in first person. I’ve been on hiatus from Paladin, though, finishing a few other projects. One is this year’s entry in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel contest, a coming-of-age novel titled An Alligator in the Basement; it’s made it to the quarter-finals. I’ve also finished the draft of an international political satire titled A Feast of Famine, possibly my personal Confederacy of Dunces. Don’t worry, I’m not planning on having it published posthumously. Meanwhile, I made a short story called Sudden Addiction available for $.99 on Amazon. Interest so far has been, well, limited.

How does my work differ from others of the genre?

My Paladin series is about an assassin working for the U.S. Government. I think what make mine different from the slew of books out there in this genre is that I’m not trying to make a hero of Paladin. He’s blue-collar and enjoys his work. But the people he’s assigned to kill are often just pathetic losers who have made some government official’s life inconvenient. Sure, he realizes he’s not eliminating terrorists or other evildoers threatening to destroy the American way of life, but the pay’s pretty good and he excels at the work. My goal is to spin farces that are just real enough to make a few readers wonder just what governments really do in the name of national security.

How does my writing process work?

Sometimes I wonder if it does work. When I’m well into a project, I typically begin a writing session by rereading what I wrote the day before, then attempt to add about 1,000 words more. If I get stuck, I go back and read from the beginning. Each rereading session includes edits and rewrites. Obviously, this becomes more ponderous as the work grows. I don’t outline, although usually I begin with a vague idea where the plot is going. I know a work is coming along, though, if the characters take over and start driving the plot to odd places. During all this, of course, I’m trying to add texture to the characters until they become almost real. The characters are what drive my interest in any book I’m writing. Plots are secondary, although hopefully convoluted enough to keep readers guessing. And when I finish a draft manuscript, then it’s back through it two or three times before finding a tough beta reader or two. A word of advice on beta readers; whatever they find that they don’t like, change. No matter how much you like a scene, if it confuses or bothers one reader, it’s going to confuse or bother a lot more. Listening to beta readers always makes your writing stronger.

Why do I write what I do?

I like telling stories. Writing gives me the chance to do this to more than a few people I know. Since the stories I tell are always bent and usually have some basis in reality, in something I’ve observed or heard, it should be no surprise that what I write is the same.

I’m tagging J.P. Lane, mystery writer and author of The Tangled Web. Check out her shiny new blog here:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You’re never too old to have one more adventure 

Brought to life by Steve Ferchaud’s vibrant drawings, this story for all ages by Dan O’Brien lets us know that it is never too late to have one more adventure. 

An Excerpt:

Robert Pendleton opened one eye as the light of a passing car flashed over the window, shattering the darkness into prisms. He rolled onto his back on the beat-up couch and yawned as he reached his hands up and rubbed his eyes unceremoniously. 

He looked out over the darkness at the digital clock. The red digits spelled out a quarter ‘til midnight––nearly fourteen hours of sleep. He smiled and grabbed one of the cushions of the couch, burying his head in it. Just enough sleep, he reminded himself. Robert felt that anything less than twelve hours of sleep was very nearly too little. 

He grasped blindly for the TV remote. 

Groaning as he lifted his head, he looked at the empty table––his eyes drawn by another flash of a passing car. He couldn’t see clearly, but he knew that the remote had been there before he had fallen asleep nearly half a day ago. 

“Could have sworn….” he mumbled as he pushed himself up and brushed his hand around the top of the table, finding nothing. “Where did….”

Another groan escaped his lips as he lifted his body to a sitting position and threw aside the cluster of pillows that he had gathered around himself. He reached out for the lamp, but instead knocked it to the floor with a resounding thud. 

Robert muttered as he stood up from the couch, and then sank to his knees to search around in the darkness for the fallen lamp. Reaching around on the shadowed floor, shards of the broken lamp scattered like pieces of light. 

He turned his head, peering beneath the large space underneath the couch and saw the reflection of the buttons on the remote. The off-gray piece of machinery was underneath the couch––only darkness lingered beyond it. He reached out as he spoke again. 

“How did it get all the way down there?” 

Robert flexed his hand and strained as he twisted his back to reach farther; yet, the remote remained just out of reach. He pulled his arm away with a huff and craned his neck to the side, staring underneath into the darkness below the couch. 

His eyes widened as he saw the impossible: there was something beyond the remote. He shook his head and closed his eyes, whispering to himself that he didn’t see what he thought he had.

“I saw a little man,” he whispered to himself as he opened his eyes once more and nearly gasped as he did so. 

The figure was closer now and he could make out the outline clearly. A tiny man rested just beyond the remote. 

“What in the name of…?”

“Not here in the name of nobody, laddie. I be a friend though,” crooned the miniscule figure as he interrupted Robert and stepped forward, placing a hand on the darkened and slick surface of the remote. 

A tam-o’-shanter crested his bright red hair, the shaggy mane blending perfectly into his equally crimson, neatly trimmed, beard. 

A billow of whitish smoke drifted from the long-stemmed pipe that he held clenched between his lips. 

Robert fell back and knocked aside the adjacent table. Rubbing his eyes, he spoke a single word: “Leprechaun.”

About the Author:

Dan O’Brien, founder and editor-in-chief of The Northern California Perspective, has written over 20 books––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: Contact him today to order copies of the book or have them stocked at your local bookstore. He can he reached by email at

Would you like to win a remarked copy of Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and Loose Change Collection Agency signed by the author and illustrator?

Simply follow the author here and here and a few winners will be randomly selected on March 20th!

Monday, March 3, 2014

There's Something About Dogs and Snow

Hey that's my snow!





Friday, February 28, 2014

Ah, Basking in the Sun...

...but at the time it was 25 degrees and the ground was frozen solid! 
English Shepherds are hardy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Brewery Tour!

A group of us toured Port City Brewery in Alexandria, VA. Awesome brews!

It's "Port City," so there's got to be a boat.  

The guy with the impressive beard is brewmaster, co-owner and was our tour guide.

If you're ever in Alexandria, VA stop by. Or visit their website:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Cheap Fix for your Fiction Addiction

Evan woke up craving a cigarette...

Read more here:

Sudden Addiction at

Monday, February 17, 2014

Looking for Book Recommendations?

Killer Protocols is being featured on Tuesday February 18th 2014 at eBookSoda, a new readers' site where they'll send you ebook recommendations tailored to your taste.

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's a Snow Day, Let's Play!

We could make a snow castle!

Or a snow man!