Tuesday, April 30, 2013


The author's profile picture for the book. Taken outside the
real Honey Island Swamp Tour building.
The twisty-turny, rustic, but paved road, led up to a large, mostly empty gravel parking lot. A small, weathering bungalow-type building with two rockers on the porch sat off to the side of the lot. A sheriff truck was the only other vehicle in sight. The carved wooden sign on the building read Honey Island Swamp Tours

Another sign sporting a picture of an alligator read Trespassers Will Be Delicious. The rhododendrons were in bloom—bright pink and red clusters against the deep browns and muted greens of the surrounding vegetation. Various rustic bird houses hung about the place. Dad parked the van in the nearest non-handicap parking space and we piled out into the sunny-breezy weather. Twat, twat, twat called a bird. Chur, chur, chur answered another. The doors of the white with red lettering St. Tammany Parish police truck opened and two officers stepped out sauntering our way. 

“Afternoon,” said my dad, walking toward them extending his hand, “I’m…”

“Yes, Sheriff Meyers,” said a rather lean officer, extending his own hand, “we’ve been expecting you. Pleased to meet yer acquaintance. I’m Frank Rubart and this is Brock Eastbrook.”

“Officer Rubart, officer Eastman.”

“Call me Frank,” said the lean man, “and he goes by B.D. as in beady-eyed.” The other man didn’t respond. I suppose he was used to the remark.

“As long as we’re on a first name basis, I’m Jim and the kids are…”

“Pleased to meet y’all,” he said, tipping his Smokey Bear hat, “Your tour guide can take y’all out to the Deveaux place. We’ve got it marked off with police tape. You’re free to explore the usual tour route, too—plenty of wildlife out there. And let us know if you see anything suspicious.”

“Sure will,” answered my dad “Thanks Frank.”

“Jim,” he answered, “Y’all have a good time. Oh, he’s my card; call my cell if you need to.”

“Thanks Frank.” Thanks Frank, Sargent’s your rank, I thought.

* * *

We moved into the tour-gift shop-café building, skirting past a lizard sunning itself on the railing, and met the man from the TV, none other than Jeb Plouet, standing behind the counter of the gift shop, snack bar and tour registration desk. The place was well stocked with plasticized alligator heads, souvenir visors and T-shirts, plush-toy alligators, rubber snakes, key chains, postcards, quick energy food and drinks and more. There were a few aquariums that held baby alligators and turtles. Jeb looked thinner than he had on the tube, but was, none-the-less, a portly man dressed in baggy overalls, a rather large beige T-shirt and a wide-brimmed floppy tan hat. He smiled a toothy grin and stepped toward us.

“Afternoon,” he said, “you must be my charter.”

“That would be us,” said Bart’s dad.

“Well, we’d best git started den,” Jeb said. Like most Cajuns he could pronounce the th sound, so it came out like a d. “Daylight’s burning. Normally, I’d charge you twenty buck a head, but dis one on da house, beings as you’ve got a law officer with you. Might help us find ol’ Hal. He’s my best friend in da world. Why he even…well, dat’s a big story. Anyways, come on.” He turned and sauntered out the front door over which hung a sign that read:


We followed. Outside the man indicated the camera hung around my neck, “Ya want ya picture taken?” He smiled, “Prove ya were here and gives us a record should you go missin’.” He grinned a toothy grin. I handed him my camera and we posed for a photograph in front of the carved sign that hung from the porch, then walked toward the boat ramp and wharf. 

Beyond a rustic wooden queue, covered in weathered canvas, was a dock and beyond that a dilapidated building that opened into the water—a shed for boat stowage I imagined. Moored to the dock was a flat aluminum boat with bench seats running down the center, facing out to the sides and a huge Yamaha 150 outboard motor at the stern. Jeb put one foot in the vessel and kept one on the wharf. He assisted each of us onboard while he laid a few ground rules.

“Have a seat anywhere ya like, folks. The coast guard requires dat I go over a few tings afore we git head out. Stay seated while da boat’s in motion; please keep ya body parts inside da railing at all times; dere are life jackets under ya seat should you need dem. We’ll be underway as soon as ya situated. Tank ya for joining us today at Honey Island Swamp Tours where adventure awaits—and so do hungry alligators.”

It was a practiced spiel and sounded like one. Bart leaned over and told me he wondered if the remaining pitch would be as dull as this or if it would be more like the one-liners that peppered the Jungle Cruise at Walt Disney World. I half expected him to say "Dis here's da wildest ride in da wilderness..."

Stay tuned (Why not subscribe?), there's more to come. BTW: I finished a revision today.

Announcing the Release Date of MARSH MONSTER

Monday, April 29, 2013



Well, the first draft, that is. Now to some revision. Cutting. Adding. Correcting. Fact-checking. Then line editing. Then over it again for polish. Then the final formatting and galley proof.

And, yes, I was surprised by some of the twists and turn of events. All I can say is: I think you're going to like this. (And stay tuned, because I'll probably post some samples in the days to come,)

CONTEST: Name That Book and Win

Okay, fans and followers: 

Market Research has indicated that ANTEBELLUM APPARITION is way too complex of a title for a middle reader (though I love it). In fact many adults have no idea what antebellum is (except for Lady Antebellum, the Grammy winner). Obviously the title of a book must reach out and speak to potential buyers. In a few words it must convey what the book is about.

I need a new title and I need YOU to help me. 

Rules are simple: You can submit as many ideas as you like. If you submit one that I like best I will use it. If no one submits one I like/use, no one wins.

The title must be only two words and both words must begin with the same letter and sound (ex: two hard P's or two P's with the F sound, not a mix of the two like in "Proscenium Phantom" but "Proscenium Poltergeist" would work, except that's too lofty). Short words--one to two syllables--are better.

The story concerns a Haunted House (if that weren't such an over used title it would be perfect)--actually an antebellum (pre-civil war) house that has been turned into a theater, very much like Vancouver's Slocum House and appears to be haunted. So I want the title to clearly say "ghost or haunted" and "house or theater" in some way.

While I like "Greenroom Ghost" as an alternative, not everyone knows what a greenroom is. However, lacking a better title (that YOU come up with) I will likely go with that.

What you get: 

If your entry is selected I will give you credit in the acknowledgement of the book AND you will receive a FREE personalized autographed copy.

Use the cover photo for inspiration. The contest closes June 30, 2013. (the book comes out Thanksgiving Day 2013.)

Think synonyms, use a Thesaurus, get creative but clear. And good luck!

#voodoovirus #marshmonster #bayouboys #amishvszombies

Sunday, April 28, 2013

MARSH MONSTER Moves Towards Its Climax and Resolve

1,800 words today on MARSH MONSTER with two chapters to go; maybe 6,000 or so words give or take. Must finish by the weekend my my dear editor will go over it. Then its into the revision process for a week or so before a final line edit. If so, that puts me ahead of schedule as it must be done by mid-June for formatting and then publication in late July.

The peril is now at its height and I have to get everyone out of their predicaments and write the resolve. Pets's about to make his final "movie move." Your prayers are appreciated.

Friday, April 26, 2013

MARSH MONSTER Makes More Progress

Might this play into the action?
Oh! It's been hairy for Bart, Pete and Carla.

Yes, another exciting 1,700 words today on MARSH MONSTER! About 6,500 words to go. Three, four days of work.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sunshine on My Shoulders Makes Me Non-Productive

Truth be told, it is hard to sit at a keyboard and write when the day is so nice. 

I did pre-write for my other blog (www.swwastar.blogspot.com) for the review I'm doing tonight and I wrote 500 words on MARSH MONSTER. I know, not much (but yesterday I wrote 2,500 so cut me some slack).

I have a busy evening since I am making dinner and reviewing a show. Plus I have a busy weekend ahead. I think I'll take the next couple hours off. I'll hit the writing hard tomorrow and Sunday afternoon (Saturday off this week).

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Well, 2500 words today! A that with a sticky "Y" to deal with. (Gonna have to look into that.) MARSH MONSTER is getting pretty exciting.

Without giving too much away, Bart and Pete have been caught and Carla is on a mission to rescue them. There's a lot more to it than that, but maybe I've said too much with that.

You're going to want to read this. 22,500+ words and counting down to the finish line. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

MARSH MONSTER: Proposed Cover Art

Proposed cover art for MARSH MONSTER.

What do you think? Colors, layout, impact?

Book Updates: MARSH MONSTER and The AMISH vs. The ZOMBIES

Another 1,000+ words on MARSH MONSTER today which puts the work over 20,000 words! That means the draft is three-fourths done. In two more weeks it should be complete and then the editing begins.

It doesn't look like l have any literary agent takers on The AMISH vs. The ZOMBIES. So now begins round two (contacting publishers directly, but maybe some more agents as well).

Monday, April 22, 2013

On Finding a Literary Agent and Getting Published

You have a killer manuscript written. It’s fresh, it’s edgy, and it’s never been done before. And it’s sure to sell well—IF it ever hits the shelves—but finding an agent to represent the work isn’t panning out. In fact, the rejection letters just seem to keep pouring in. You’re so frustrated you’re going bald from pulling out your hair.

So in lies the problem. Agents don’t want to mess with anything so fresh and edgy and original. They want an easy sell. In fact, they might be lazy. Hours of footwork trying convince a publisher to take a chance on such a work just isn’t (or might not be) worth their effort.

They are afraid, too. Afraid of harming their reputation, afraid of wasting time, and afraid of failure. Why take the chance when they have easy, sure-fire sells? After all, making money at what they do (just like every other business) is a big part of why they do it.

Madeleine Le’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was just such a book—rejected twenty-six of times. Finally accepted, it went on to sell millions of copies and garner many awards including a Newberry. 

More recently, Wm. Paul Young couldn’t find a publisher for his debut novel either. It was rejected over and over again—also twenty-six times—and he finally set up his own ‘publishing company’ on the Internet where sales took off. Only then did a publisher take notice and seek distribution rights. The Shack is now an all-time best seller.

You might ask: “What do publishers or agents know?” Well, they know every book is a gamble. Most do not sell past their original printing, but the few that do pay for the flops. It’s all about risk-management. Who can blame them, really? 

Someone took a risk on the shoddy Twilight series and look how they did? That was fresh, and edgy and hadn’t been done before. Why take a risk there? How did it happen? We’re talking “crap shoot” and that’s all there is to it. Someone took a chance.

Okay, so what do you do? You keep trying, that’s what you. As frustrating as that is, you do your own footwork. You keep approaching agents and now publishers (those that take unagented proposals) on your own. (Of course you could give up and self-publish. That is, after all, now a legit option.)

It takes time and footwork, which is hard to deal with when you want to get your book ‘out there.’ But someone has to do it; if not an agent, then you. You aren’t lazy are you? If you don’t believe in yourself who will? Is it worth the effort? 

If it is, just suck it up and do it!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mounting Mayhem in MARSH MONSTER

Do you think it looks like this?
The action continues to mount as Bart and Pete encounter the Honey Island Swamp Monster in the newest installment of writing for MARSH MONSTER.

Closing in on 19,000 words with a thousand written today. 20,000 makes the draft three-fourths done and that should be accomplished by the time the weekend is over!

Something I Came Up With for Authors Everywhere

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is That a Publishing House Editor on the Left?


Another 1,000+ words today. Now at more than 17,000 words on MARSH MONSTER. It's really coming together now that the hardware is in place. Pete's mind is working like crazy and his first "movie move" actually worked. Will the others?

Not only was the trip to Lowe's beneficial, but so has the information retrieved from the great book Bayou Farewell by Mike Tidwel. I highly recommend the book for study on bayou ecology and Cajun culture.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Men with Tools: The Bayou Boys Take a Trip to Lowe's

After a research/brainstorming trip to Lowe's today with my son Jeremiah I wrote another 1,000 words on MARSH MONSTER putting me over the halfway mark.

Don't you just wonder what kind of plans a couple of teenage boys (and a girl) might come up with when they have all that hardware at their disposal?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


1,500 words on MARSH MONSTER today. It's getting really exciting! Nearly half done, now.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book and Writing Update

I wrestled out another 1,500 words today, so I'm on schedule for MARSH MONSTER. Does anyone know if a flare will act like a Piccolo Pete when crushed. You know, BAM!

I have not yet heard back from the agent regarding The AMISH vs The ZOMBIES. So your prayers are still requested.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Darkness Falls Across the Land...

Amazing what a little Photoshop can do. Right, the original picture I took in NOLA. Left, the mirror image with sky
 replacement, contrast and lighting adjustment, and a semi-transparent overlay at the window. I'm still going to
lighten the house up a bit and add more contrast, then add the title on the front (right) and add a semi-transparent
frost box to the back (left) and create the spine. I'll let you see it late in the summer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My The AMISH vs The ZOMBIES Proposal has been Pitched; Prayers Please

Your prayers are coveted as the literary agent at D.C. Jacobson & Associates considers my book proposal for THE AMISH vs THE ZOMBIES.

Thank you all.

Meet Mad Matt Mikalatos

Matt Mikalatos

Fellow Vancouver Christian author Matt Mikalatos has a new contract for a two book deal. 

If you were to meet Matt you would find him instantly warm and friendly. As you get to know him you'd find he is quick and witty, funny and even a bit strange. And I mean that in a good way.

Another way to get to know him is through his books. His former titles (which I have read and enjoyed thoroughly) include:

My Imaginary Jesus which is a book almost too weird to describe. Matt is in his own story, but it's not memoir or biography--it's sort of fantasy/si-fi. Hard to place. It's definitely theological and may mess with your thinking. Maybe even your heart.

The book takes place in Portland, Ore. Matt has "a Jesus" in his life that he finds quite comfortable until Peter comes in and pops the god across the jaw. Jesus takes off and Matt meets several others on the path to find the true Jesus. Got that? Very funny and very profound.

 Night of the Living Dead Christian is also very different. This one takes place mostly in Vancouver and there are vampires, werewolves and zombies, not to mention a mad scientist. Each of these "monsters" represent a sub-group of Christian culture. The book is a wild adventure full of humor and profound insight. How could learning be so fun?

Matt has also written a middle-reader fantasy, The Sword of Six Worlds, which I have not yet read. I am looking forward to reading it when I get the chance.

Matt is a great writer, he's got a wicked sense of humor, a deep thinking mind, and he's a great guy. If you haven't read any of his work, now is the time.

Congrats on the new contract Matt! It was great seeing you at the conference last weekend and the stuff you shared was great. I'm looking forward to more from your twisted mind.

You can follow Matt's Burning Hearts Revolution blog at: http://www.mikalatos.com/

Monday, April 8, 2013

Authors to Take Another Hit

"Authors practice one of the few professions directly protected in the Constitution, which instructs Congress 'to promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.'"

In an article appearing in the New York Times we learn that there are many blows hitting the publishing industry and authors are taking the brunt of the hit. It's not just e-books and a glut of bad work in the self-publishing market, nor only the demise of the brick-n-mortar book store in favor of an online Amazon conglomerate. 

No, now the Supreme Court is allowing a "pirate" market to undercut book profits and cut authors off from deserved royalties. To learn more read the article by clicking the link below.

Of Amish, Agents and the Awakened Dead

I met with an agent this week and pitched THE AMISH vs THE ZOMBIES

He laughed at the title (as does everyone), but it piqued his interest. He admitted to me that evangelical publishers might be reticent to taking on such a topic (since it seems paranormal, which it is not). But he also said, "send me a proposal" (which I am working on)!

What I've got is a coming of age story set (mostly) in an Amish community. The community and the lead character (Hannah) are challenged by a zombie attack. (Note: The zombies are not a result of religious practice, but I won't give away anymore here.) The book is quite graphic at times but it also shares the Gospel. The latter makes it less acceptable/attractive to a secular publisher.

So you see the dilemma.

Still, there is hope on either side of the fence. Preferably and ideally, I would like to have an evangelical house pick it up and their parent company (secular) publish it for wider distribution. (The evangelical market is only 8% of the whole and really isn't my target market.)

And I really despise marketing and pitching, so I'd really like to land an agent to do that for me. Furthermore,  I really liked the agent I spoke with; I felt good about him. I hope he felt the same about me. I hope it works out.


Thus I covet your prayers while I prepare this package, send the proposal, and await his response. Could you pray now through Thursday about my prep and Friday through Monday about his response? I would appreciate the intersession very much. Thanks

ALSO: If you haven't seen it lately, I updated my BOOKS page (see tabs above).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Proposed Cover Art for Book 3, "Antebellum Apparition"

Didja see that photograph I took of the Davis Mansion and posted on this blog two posts ago? [Scroll down, you'll see it.]

Well, I couldn't help but monkey with it. I was inspired, okay? (Then again maybe I was procrastinating on the writing.)

I know, I know. Yes, ANTEBELLUM APPARITION is two books away* and I don't even have the current one (MARSH MONSTER) written.

Anyway this art still needs some clean-up and detailing work (and text, etc.), but this mock up shows you where I'm going with it. [Remember, the front is on the right, the back is on the left.]

*The truth is I have that story milling around in my noggin, too. I begin writing it this summer.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

MARSH MONSTER Manuscript Passes the 10,000 Word Mark; Plus Sneak Peak at the Cover Art

Back of the cover to the left, front on the right.
I did over 4,000 words today and passed the 10,000 word mark! That means I am now one-third done with the first draft of the manuscript for MARSH MONSTER.

I thought it might be fun to give you a first glimpse of the books cover. No, not the whole cover; this is only the beginnings. It is very basic.

I write again tomorrow, but will take Friday and Saturday off for the wife's birthday and to attend a writing conference. I pitch to an agent at the conference so your prayers are appreciated.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mansion Makes Appearance in MARSH MONSTER's 1,000 Words Today

Another 1,000 words today on MARSH MONSTER and this house came into the picture.

It will come into play again in ANTEBELLUM APPARITION.

That's called foreshadowing.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The End is in Sight for "Marsh Monster"--I Wish!

The Scarlet Scoop in Houma, LA. Might this play into the plot?
Another 1,000 words on MARSH MONSTER today. I skipped ahead and wrote some of the ending. 

Always good to have the end in sight.