One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show: 2016 Recap

Well, the fire monkeys are through, for this go-round anyway. Shelved. Done and dusted. We wood monkeys, not predisposed to fire even if off a cousin, can breathe easier. Not easy, because now here comes 2017 and the Year of the Fire Rooster. Fire again, and no way can you trust a rooster other than to torch the hell out of a good night’s sleep come dawn.

Which is my way of saying 2017 should be a fun but tough year. There will be wonderful conferences to attend, my favorite October weekend on the Plaza,  and word words words to write and read. And maybe more stories out there, if my offerings of dried corn to the 2017 Fire Rooster Submission Gods pay off.

As for 2016, I set some stretch goals, and by the dying embers of a fire monkey, I stuck to ’em. Here’s how things shook out: Continue reading “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show: 2016 Recap”

One Half of an Awkward Conversation: Cocktail Reception Pitch for Tin Cup II

Classic cinema line: ‘You don’t have inner demons, only inner crapola.’ Remember who nailed it? No less than Rene Russo’s Molly to the Kevin Costner as Roy ‘Tin Cup’ McAvoy.

That golf movie? Oh, it’s so much more. Tin Cup is an iconic tale of love, redemption, and golf. Look, I get it. Big time associate producer, film school cocktail party, you ought to be wearing hip waders for all the crapola here tonight. So let’s slice through it how Cup did with the feisty Molly. He said to her, ‘most women I’m thinking about how to get in their pants, but with you I’m just thinking about how to get in your heart.’ And that she had a great rack, that rascal. Well, tonight I’m just thinking about getting you onboard Tin Cup II: The Second Cupping.

I’ll walk with you.

It’s 1996. A weary America finds Continue reading “One Half of an Awkward Conversation: Cocktail Reception Pitch for Tin Cup II”

Teach Peach and Best Fest: What All I’m Up To



bouchercon-2016Bouchercon is always a great weekend, and this year there was a serious bonus: Murder Under the Oaks, the 2015 anthology from Art Taylor and Down&Out Books, took home the Anthony Award for Best Short Story Collection. I was lucky enough to land my “Crack-Up at Waycross” in MUTO’s pages. Congratulations to Art, the other terrific contributors, and to everyone involved. Best of all, proceeds go to funding educational programs at the Wake County Library System.


sinc-atlanta-logoOn Saturday, October 8 I’ll be helping teach a short story workshop for Sisters in Crime Atlanta. I’m covering how to use setting, character and dialogue together to make a story pop. It’s been a fun challenge pulling materials together — it’s stuff I think a lot about but haven’t ever put to paper (or PowerPoint) in teaching form. If you’re anywhere near the Decatur Library, come check us out!



October 14-16 is this year’s Southern Festival of Books right in the heart of downtown Nashville. Thousands of book lovers wandering the Plaza and hearing from some of today’s best authors. And food trucks. I frigging love food trucks. For my small bit of it, I’ll be working the Sisters in Crime booth, and it’s my honor to moderate the “Crimes, Cons and Capers” panel for MWA. Playing experts to my Charlie Rose routine will be Holly McClure, Jessie Powell, Clay Stafford, and Erica Wright.

874 Rules for Humor Writing. Too Many? OK, 10ish Rules for Humor Writing.

Last month I participated in a panel on humor writing. This is more dangerous than it sounds. First of all, it was at a mystery writer convention (Killer Nashville), where you know half the audience minimum was dwelling on murder. Then there’s the self-directed pressure. I’d get tomatoed, hooked or gonged as a stand-up comic, I reflected in bathroom mirror moments. They’ll expect me to be frigging hilarious. Finally there’s E.B. White’s famous warning: “Studying humor is like dissecting a frog.

Still, I had to say something. It was a panel. To be honest, I hadn’t ever attempted to quantify how I go about writing humor. I have a core philosophy, though: Continue reading “874 Rules for Humor Writing. Too Many? OK, 10ish Rules for Humor Writing.”

A Play in One Scene: “The Big Press Conference”


COACH, head coach of the Washington Generals professional basketball team

 various REPORTERS

The Scene:

[open to crowded press conference. COACH sits behind table with microphone].

COACH: [hubbub] We’ll start here in the front. Teddy?

REPORTER 1: Thanks, Coach. Another tough loss to the Trotters tonight. Thoughts?

COACH: Yeah, you know, I thought we moved the ball well, were patient and defended well in stretches, but you really have to hand it to the Trotters. They found ways to dribble-drive, spin, flip, pass, fake-pass, fake-pass-then-really-pass, bring out the spectators and break us down. [hubbub] There, in the back.

REPORTER 2: Coach, it did look like your problem was defense. At times your guys looked a little lost out there. Can you talk us through what adjustments you made?

COACH: I’d like to say there was a good answer, Freddie. Everybody knows they are a great passing, fake-passing, and fake-passing-then-really passing team. You have to close that down. But every time I thought we had a stop, Cheesie, Buckets, all their little guys got us chasing them all over the floor, after those whoop-de-whoops and spin dribbles. I don’t know how many dunks Big Easy got off that play, but we Continue reading “A Play in One Scene: “The Big Press Conference””