Halloween costumes, sea otters, and hitmen – my short story on Shotgun Honey

IMG_20181031_091157There’s no better way to celebrate Halloween than trying to dispose of a body in Monterey Bay. Take a look at my recent short story on Shotgun Honey, “It Otter Be Illegal.”

Read it here!

October events!

(Sept. 24, 2018) Look for some cool events this October on the Monterey Peninsula. Cool for writers and fans of the written, and spoken, word at least. And who isn’t a fan of that?

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October 21 – I’ll be joining a number of authors in Carmel on Sunday, October 21, from 1-3 p.m. for a book signing event featuring local authors and historians. More details to come, but it sounds like a great place to find some early Christmas presents for the bibliophiles in your family. I’ll be ready to sign my recent book Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History! The event will be held at Carmel Ace Hardware, located at 290 Crossroads Blvd, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA93923.

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October 23 – Want to learn more about the craft of writing fiction and nonfiction? Author Dietrich Kalteis and I will hold a workshop on that very subject Tuesday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m. at Old Capitol Books in downtown Monterey. We’ll discuss writing style, guidelines, and the research that goes into works of fiction and non-fiction. Old Capitol Books is located at 559 Tyler Street in downtown Monterey. Learn more here!

N@B poster Nov 2018

October 26 – Noir at the Bar returns to the Central Coast this month! This year’s Noir will be held at the East Village Coffee Lounge, at 498 Washington Street in downtown Monterey, beginning at 7 p.m. Books will be available for purchase thanks to the awesome folks at Old Capitol Books. Donations will be accepted at the door, benefitting the Central Coast Writers group! It’s a sweet lineup of authors too: Terry Shames, Kris Calvin, Tom Pitts, Rob Pierce, Susan C Shea, Mark Coggins, Morgan Boyd, Dietrich Kalteis, and me! Get more details here!

Noir at the Bar – October 20th, 2017

19059861_1986112188278233_1335083638625727466_nPicture yourself in a dimly lit room. A light bulb hangs from the ceiling, swinging slowly to and fro, as if an ethereal skeletal hand had reached down from the inky shadows and tapped it. Beneath the light are a series of faces with dark shadows for eyes and grim, black lines for mouths. The grimy bulb swings overhead. The faces are there, then swallowed by darkness, then appear again, under the dancing, pale glow. This assembly is here for one reason and one reason only.  And there are laws against it.

When you picture an evening of crime fiction called “Noir at the Bar”, that’s how I picture it going down. It won’t be like that. Well, maybe it will be. Who knows? Maybe it will go down like a tea party in a Hercule Poirot novel, or turn into a backstage party at the end of a Rage Against the Machine concert on the eve of a government revolution? Or we’ll pose like we’re trapped in a Hopper painting. Perhaps we’ll just compete for who does the best “drunk Sarah Huckabee Sanders” impersonation?

My money’s on Dietrich Kalteis.

Dietrich is an amazing author and one of many who will take part in the Friday, October 20th, Noir at the Bar at the Press Club in Seaside, California. Starting at 7 p.m., and emceed by Janice Blaze Rocke, this event features not one or three, but nine incredible writers all in one place, and all ready to spill the beans on crime fiction. Authors for this event include Eric Beetner, SW Lauden, Tom Pitts, Rob Pierce, Dietrich Kalteis, John Lansing, Sandra Balzo, Joe Clifford and myself. Old Capitol Books will bring books to buy and the Press Club will provide the rest.  What’s not to drool about with this lineup?

The Press Club can be found at 1123 Fremont Boulevard, Seaside, CA. They say the road construction will be done by then, so let’s celebrate. If it isn’t, come anyway, just bring a flask.

COMING IN 2018: The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

Imagine the world before the Internet, before modern medicine and modern science as we know it today; pre-cars, pre-phones, pre-fast food, and you’ve got the world that saw one of the first natural history museums on the California coast. The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History has been a part of the Monterey Peninsula since 1883, nearly as long as Monterey County has been in existence.

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An old postcard depicting the Museum of old. My desk is on the second-floor window corner facing the camera, with a view of the bay!

I’ve been lucky enough to work for the Museum since 2014 and am happy to announce I’ll be depicting the history of this amazing place through writing and more than 150 historic photographs. In the short period of time I’ve been here, as the awesome story of this place soaked in, I’ve realized just how lucky I am to be a part of this local institution. History has always been a thing with me, no matter if it’s the history of 1940s and 1980s pulp novels or the history of Tusayan and Williams, Arizona. I daydream about what it would be like to live and thrive in an era where things moved a little slower, but were harder at the same time – for nearly everyone. I can’t think of any writer/bibliophile who hasn’t dreamed about living in a small cabin near a stream or rocky shoreline.

History is a learning curve without a shelf life. It’s a way for us to see what’s happened, good and bad, and carry it with us as we move forward. At the museum, history is preserved with just such a mission in mind. Taxidermy, geology, plants, Native peoples; they’re all there.

“The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History”, will be published in 2018 by Arcadia Publishing in their Images of America series. It’s an exciting project, which I expect to have completed by October, and I’m very thankful to be the one who gets to write it. From the first Museum building to the arrival of Sandy the Whale, this book is long overdue.

 

 

Gulls and Goobers

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My unfinished gull paintings. Someday, gull. Someday. This guy posed for these two photos after I promised him he would be famous.

Gulls have been on my mind lately. Why I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I have these two paintings in the living room that I haven’t finished yet. Maybe it’s because the babies born this season in Pacific Grove are beginning to stretch their wings and take flight, yet they still lower their heads and call out for their parents to feed them. The one I saw today, gray and large, stood in the middle of the road pecking at a to-go cup lid. After it decided the lid wasn’t worth its time, the gull turned and began to strut away toward Central Avenue. Only the lid wasn’t done with it. A slight gust of wind, not enough to sway a branch or lift a skirt, blew over the lid and made it roll toward the gull as it walked (they kind of strut though, which I think I said already). The gull flipped out, thinking the lid had come to life and was chasing its ass down. I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a cute sight. The simplicity of it all hit me. And that felt nice. Maybe I’ve been thinking of them because they get a bad rap. I’ve always been a fan of the underdogs. So many may dislike them, but they’ve won me over.
They might be on my mind because of a Facebook post. I recently learned the book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” was the best seller the year I was born. This led me to want to read it. Can you believe the book is $11.99 for a digital download? Must be a special read I suppose, and my Facebook friends seemed to think it is.
It could be a gull’s relationships fascinate me, its upbringing, how they all cling to California’s coastal cities with flippered tenacity; these things are so different than what we do. Some of it’s the same, but so much is different. Gulls hardly even bother to make much of a nest for their offspring and they’re a fierce lot. They communicate like crazy and seem totally okay with sharing the sidewalks and roads with us, though there aren’t a lot of us who could say the same. Maybe they’re not all that smart, but some are, and I find myself hard pressed to look away when I watch them interact. Human relationships veer and careen in so many directions, often leading to dead ends, often leading to some quiet spot where clothes are rarely worn and moaning speaks louder than promises, and often there’s shouting – the best ingredient for the best sex, the best novels, and the best telenovelas. Sometimes human relationships stay right on the course they were meant to take, despite the best efforts of the intellectual minds involved. For whatever reason, I find the simpler model the better one.
This isn’t to say people watching at the Monterey Fairgrounds won’t be a blast this year, but I bet I’ll notice the gulls hanging out waiting for some food to fall. And plenty of food will fall. They’re not that stupid.
The gulls are perfect for us.

WRITING NEWS – Old Capitol Books author event in October

I’m very excited to announce I will be joining authors Dietrich Kalteis and JoAnn Smith Ainsworth for a special event at Old Capitol Books in Monterey, CA, on October 16th, BookSigning-1om 3-5 p.m. We’ll be discussing our assortment of books and talking about all things literary. Dietrich is launching his new book, “House of Blazes,” which I look forward to reading. I hope to see you there!

Read more about this event here!

Missing my old best friend

From left to right; Morgan, Aaron, Patrick, Christy, Oliver.

I didn’t want to write something about my friend, Aaron, but I couldn’t stop thinking about his death. I didn’t want my thoughts to be about my feelings, because I felt it would betray his voice and his power in doing so, but in the end writing about my feelings is all I can do.

It was a long time ago I knew him. We were kids embarking on a destiny full of sorrow and hope, pain and grand ambitions. We brought such sinful things into our bodies and minds. We bent our souls and bled our hearts. We were seventeen-year-old grownups acting like the wise leaders of tomorrow. We listened to Motorhead, Dead Kennedys, Lead Belly and Muddy Waters. We kayaked in the bay. We ate vegetarian pita pockets at Tilly Gort’s and devised ways to cheat at cards. We played 221B Baker Street like maniacs, cruised the Monterey Peninsula in search of decent cold cut sandwiches, rented Nintendo games, and watched Evil Dead 2 over and over again.

Now there are beer guts and children, debt and divorces, and many from our generation want nothing more than to blink and make it all go away. Maybe we were supposed to be wiser at this age, but we got lost as hell somewhere between 1992 and 2016.

Comic I devised featuring me and Aaron on earth-shaking adventures.

Happiness fades under the pummeling fist of real life and blistering adulthood, but it glows still in our souls, like the burning embers of a distant bonfire. And I haven’t been able to think about the loss of my old best friend. I go through my days pretending Wendy never called me, pretending I never read the Facebook post that his body was found. And I still haven’t read his obituary.

I’ve told people it was a long time ago that I hung out with him. I’ve been careful to avoid anything related to his death. I cannot bring myself to think of his children. I knew him when he was a child. I knew him when he thought he had the biggest muscles in our group. I knew him when we wore boxing gloves and punched each other in the face like a couple of dumbasses. I knew him when our afternoons were spent at Stonehenge near Lovers Point. We’d break open mussels and feed them to passing sea otters.

To me Air is still missing. He’s in Canada somewhere, working at a comic shop and talking about playing Spades to whoever will listen. Maybe he got a job on a merchant vessel and he’s rounding the bend into a Japanese port with a beard like Grizzly Adams. Maybe he’s taken an oath of silence on a remote mountain top just beyond human civilization. He’s somewhere doing just that. That’s what I want to think.

I used to imagine my mom was still alive like that. It made it easier to think of her hiding out in New York somewhere, working at a law office and presiding over a book club in the evenings, than to think of her as being nowhere. Reality took us for a ride and eventually we crashed.