More Recommendations…

So, if you’re anything like me, you probably consume media at a level that is just this side of unhealthy. Nice to know our tribe.

I’ve been meaning to keep a running list of properties that blow the back of my head off, in case you think you’d enjoy a similar experience.

So, in the television realm these are the shows that have made me sit up and double take:


Russian Doll

The Umbrella Academy

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

In the book department:

Six of Crows & The Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

Armored Saint & Queen of Crows by Myke Cole.

Ok, so not a long list, but recall, I’m going for the media that grabbed me by the collar and shook some sense into me.

There’s plenty of other stuff out there that I consume and enjoy, but these evoked the most extreme and interesting responses from me.

Pretty sure you can find your own version of pablum without my help.

I’m not knocking pablum. We all need mental bubble gum from time to time. But we also need a solid psychic goosing once in a while to keep our gears spinning at the right timing.

If you’re looking for a good “wh-wh-what?!” moment, you could do worse than what I’ve mentioned here.

If you can think of anything you like that fits this particular bill, slip it into the comments. I’m always looking for new and interesting experiences.

Until next time…


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Release Date!

It’s coming out this spring.

When, exactly?

On the first damn day!

Drawn to Flame - eBook

Look for Drawn to Flame, pretty much everywhere on:


March 20th. It’s a Wednesday.

Also, the Vernal Equinox.

And the day you can get a real, live copy of my book.

(Yes, e-book as well as paperback.)

Pre-orders may start near the beginning of March, I haven’t nailed that down flat yet. Trust that I’ll let you know when I do.

(Also, for those of you in and around Knoxville, there may be a release/ signing party at one of my favorite local taverns the following Friday. More to come on that front as well.)

Until next time…



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Hey Guys and Gals…

It has been a minute, hasn’t it?

I had a goal of posting here, at least once per week. If you’re a regular hereabouts, you’ll have noticed that didn’t quite happen. Mea Culpa.

But Tess, you ask, what have you been doing when not writing on your blog?

(You guys come up with the best questions at the best times.)

Well, lots of stuff.

I’ve been writing a new short story project. I hope to have it complete and into revisions by this weekend. What is it?

(Look at you with the questions 😉 )

This new project – I’m about 4,000 words into it at present – is a story to introduce readers to some of the characters in my novel, and give a peek into some of the back story.

But, when and where will it be available?

(I knew I could count on you to be on top of this. )

The story – working title: Day One – will be available, for free, as a gift for signing up to my e-mail newsletter.

And. No. Where. Else.

(Ok, that’s kind of dire-sounding as incentives go, but it’s been a long couple of weeks.)

The newsletter will probably be fairly active, on the run-up to release week. After that, once a month, if I’m lucky. Probably once per quarter, unless there is pressing news, and really, who puts pressing news in a newsletter?

So, there are those things I’ve been doing.

I’ve also arranged to be on a podcast. The episode won’t air until April, but I’ll be keeping you informed as that gets closer to being a thing in the real world.

I’ve registered the copyright and formatted the e-book version.

Besides the story, I’m working on the format for the paperback version. Yes, those of you new to self-publishing – those are fairly different animals.

I’m getting ready to reach out to potential reviewers. I’m also still looking for potential reviewers, so, if you know of any options, slide into the comments below and help a writer out.

I’ve also been getting tattooed. A big tattoo. I did my second session yesterday. So far, up to about 8 hours worth of sitting and getting repeatedly jabbed by electrically driven needles. Follow me on Instagram to get a look at those photos. Or my Oreo reviews, or the books I’m reading – which I’ve been slacking off on lately, mainly because I’m deep into some e-books and my kindle isn’t very photogenic. Also, I’m new to the Instagram thing. Haven’t quite figured out where it fits in my life yet.

What else?

Well, Valentine’s is coming up – *checks notes* – TOMORROW! And I have a sweetheart, so, you know, things…

Also, I still have a day job, family, friends, the occasional TV series to catch up on.

It’s times like these when I think the best thing I learned in college was time management.

(And how to write a term paper, the night before on no sleep. What? It’ll come in handy one day, I’m certain of it. Else, why would college be so expensive?)

Anyway, that’s my rambling weirdness to date.

For those of you who read along for blistering political/ social commentary, Fear Not! I have several ideas waiting in the wings, but you know, time and stuff.

For those of you that come here to see me foam at the mouth in a digital format, well, stay tuned. Pretty sure there will be plenty of that in the future.

Thanks for coming on this weird journey with me.

We’ll talk again soon.

(Hint. Hint. There may be new book announcements coming in the not distant future.)

Until next time…




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Cover Reveal!…

Drawn to Flame - eBook

There it is.

Like a real-fucking-thing!

Sofa King Excited.

Thanks for coming along with me.

There’s still more exciting news to come: release date announcement, reviews (hopefully), e-mail newsletter, the works.

Coming soon…

#DrawntoFlame  #3rdeyedetectivenovels #amwriting  #ampublishing  #selfpublishing

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Announcement Time!..

Actually, it’s an announcement for an announcement.

(I know, I know, but it’s me, and really, what did you expect?)

Big news coming this Sunday.

Watch. This. Space.

Until next time…

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There are a lot of aspects to writing. Definitely more than I could go into with a single post.

So, say you had to pick one that would make the most difference to a story. What would you choose?

(You people do ask the best questions. I’m glad I keep you around.)


That makes the most difference?

Well, if you read the title of this post, you’ve likely already guessed it:


That’s the biggie. The sine quo non of stories.

It’s the character we, as readers, are relating to. It’s the character we root for or against.

(yes, you can write a main character you want your readers to root against, it’s just damn difficult, and few writers have ever done it well.)

It’s the character that’s makes us care.

I tend to write speculative fiction. That’s a big umbrella: horror, science fiction, fantasy – and all of the sub-genres hiding under that cover. It’s genres all the way down people.

Before I get too far off course, every genre of writing has its tropes and its furniture. They’re the “neat”, “gross”, “cool” bits we happen upon in the prose.  But the furniture of a story is only impactful to a reader when we get to see how it impacts the character.

So, at what point in time does this become actual writing advice? I hear you asking.

Well, here.

(Damn, you have good timing. Remind me to ask you about lottery numbers some time.)

Your main character (MC) has to be interesting.

If the MC isn’t interesting to you, they won’t be interesting to us.

The sad truth is, even if the MC is interesting to you, they still may not be interesting to us. That’s what Beta Readers and Critique partners are for.

How do you make an MC interesting?

(Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing. I’m watching you.)

Make your MC as much like a real person as you can possibly get, without delving into Weird Science/ Frankenstein territory.

Who is your MC and what do they love?

What do they hate?

What gets on their nerves, and what do they let roll off their backs without a second thought.

Physical descriptors are great. But they’re not the most engaging part of the character.

Personality. History. Quirks. Strengths. FLAWS!

Those make your MC feel real.

No reader has ever met a perfect person. They sure as hell haven’t met your conception of a perfect person. This makes perfect seeming characters feel off to a reader. And, if you want to put your readers slightly off, that is one way to go. Just make certain you’ve laid the groundwork to keep the reader turning the pages.



If your MC seems perfect, you need to give the reader a clue that the operative term here is “seems”. You need to lay out the threads a reader can tug on to find the deeper truth of the character.

If your character doesn’t have a deeper truth, ask yourself if that’s the most interesting character in the story. Odds are good they won’t be, and you should make one of your other characters the MC. It might make the writing harder, but it will definitely make it better.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

Writing is like hindsight’s crystal ball.

You see it all in front of you as you create it. You take the time to think about things, and in doing so you think about your character’s choices, because their choices drive the plot.

But remember, you have to time to sit and think about it. That will make some of you – ahem! and Me – tend toward trying to find the right/ perfect solution to your character’s problems.

Work hard to avoid this.

Your characters don’t have the crystal ball. And they don’t have your time to think things through, especially if your pacing is on point.

Sometimes, after I’ve come up with “just the right” thing to say or do, I stop and try to think about what the complete wrong thing to say or do in that situation would be.

No, I don’t always go with that, but it gives me the spectrum of things for the character to operate in. Depending on the character, their flaws & strengths, the pacing, and the obstacles, then I make the decision.

(Ok, yes, sometimes it just comes out of my head in the correct configuration for that point in the story, but not as often as I’d like. And telling you that would be boring anyways. “Just get it right the first time. Geez, what’s wrong with you?” I can be an asshole, at times, but not that kind of asshole.)

So, why does all this matter?

(Look at you, going for the point’s throat like a leopard on a gazelle.)

Because creating an interesting character, and letting them make appropriately bad decisions is a wonderful way to discover parts of your story that you didn’t know were there.

That is both delightful to the writer, and engaging to the reader.

And it is the best way to create the unexpected.

Yeah, I know there’s nothing new under the sun, but there are a bunch of configurations of old shit we haven’t all seen yet. And those make it all worth it.

Your interesting character and their not-perfect decisions could show you that, show us that.

Human beings are hard-wired to seek novelty.

Gimme, gimme, gimme new stuff!

Novelty sparks something in us. Wakes us up. Leaves impressions.

And that is what you want your writing to do.

That’s sure as hell what I want my reading to do.

Character does that.

Make us hate them, love them, pity them, lust after them – doesn’t matter. Just make us feel them and let them do their thing.

After that, the rest is technical furniture – rearrange it until it makes the story look the way you want it to appear.

Give your readers characters that feel alive, and your readers will give you their attention.

Good luck,

Until next time…




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Happy New Year: 2019 edition…

Happy Hangover…

…Uh, I mean, NEW YEAR!

Yeah, there might have been some drinking last night, and that might be the reason I slept until noon today.


We’re just talking hypotheticals here, people!


At a gathering of friends, on the night in question, I asked the group:

“What are you excited to do in the New Year?”

(Resolutions are bullshit. Makes some goals that turn you on and get to it.)

I’m digressing again, must be the alleged hangover.

So, their answers will remain their answers – that is to say, private – but I thought I’d share my answer with you:

I’m publishing my novel, “Drawn to Flame” this year.

If you read these weird missives of mine, then you’ve likely heard me mention it before.

And just as likely you’ve found yourself asking, “So, what’s with this book he keeps talking about?”

And that, in a round-about way is the point of this post.

I’ve come up with a back-jacket synopsis that I think will answer that question and, hopefully, get you interested enough to follow along.

So, here we go:



Haunted by a past he can’t remember, and a gruesome case he’d like to forget, the last thing private detective Caleb Carson wants is to help a wealthy eccentric recover a stolen artifact – no questions asked. But the bills are piling up, and the money’s too good to refuse.

He’s got three days to retrieve an ancient dagger, but before he can even begin the investigation, Caleb is confronted by the world of hidden magic, and the men who will do anything to possess power.

Caleb’s no magician, but he’s used to whipping up a few tricks to even the odds. When a cult of fire worshipers marks him for sacrifice, things start to heat up in the sleepy city of Knoxville. If he’s not clever, the case, and his life will go up in flames.

Will Caleb survive, or will he burn like the others before him? Find out in Drawn to Flame, the first novel in the Third Eye Detective series.


And there it is.

Starting off the new year with a big announcement.

And there’s more to come: release date and cover art reveal, maybe a giveaway or two.

Keep an eye on this space.

Until next time, Happy New Year!…




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