Category: Blog

5 Things You Should Be More Grateful For

It’s that time of year again where we turn our collective thoughts to the things we are grateful for.  That got me thinking about the things we should be more thankful for.  We live in a miraculous world full of crazy cool things and it’s easy to overlook just how fortunate we are.  With that said I submit, for your consideration and in no particular order, 5 things we should be more grateful for.


agletYou may have never given consideration to the aglet or you might not even know what it is, but I promise you that you would be filled with a profound appreciation and gratitude for the unsung hero of your high-tops if it were not a thing.  I’ll give you a moment to Google “aglet” … [Jeopardy theme music] … [check my watch] … [remember that I don’t wear a watch] …and your back.  See?!  The AGLET!  Imagine trying to lace up a new pair of sneakers with a limp nylon string.  It would be maddening.   Now every day you tie your shoes be sure to give thanks for this tiny plastic hero.

Running Water

Here’s another topic you may not have given proper consideration.  Go ahead and stroll on over to the sink and turn the nozzle or lift the lever.

Did you do it?  Why not?  Is it because you already know that clear, cool, life giving water will immediately come pouring out at a pressure you can regulate at will?  Yeah, now think about that for a second.  Where does it come from, how does it get there, who makes sure it’s clean and what would you do if it all stopped?  Are you frightened yet?  Well then you should probably throw up a prayer or two of thanks to whatever God you worship for the invisible forces that afford you such an essential luxury; you know the one that allows you to clean, wash, cook, drink and LIVE!

I won’t even get into hot water which is a beautiful flower of goodness itself.  I took cold showers for two years as a missionary in Jamaica and felt a bit like John Rambo in the shower stalls of the Hope Washington Police Station most mornings, but at least the water flowed and I didn’t have to worry about diphtheria.

Cell Phones

91a1387b86a43732bb424fe248796672I’m not even talking about smart phones.  I’m talking straight up about the ability to take a device out of your pocket and speak to somebody through a device in their pocket or a phone in their home.

Some of you may be too young to remember when you had to make plans with someone before you left your house, at which point you were entirely beholden to those plans and at the mercy of the dependability, punctuality and/or commitment of said someone.  It was a ball of anxiety wrapped in uncertainty.  Are your friends still going to meet up for dinner?  Is your mom going to pick you up from the mall?  Has the world come to an end and no one is coming to your Jean-Claude Van Damme movie marathon?  You don’t know!  You just have to sit there and wait like a pathetic loser.  It was a nightmare.


Certainly there’s a life sustaining value to clothing, in some cases, and although I’m not a fashion expert there can be applications that allow for an expression of either unity or individuality.  However, on a day to day basis, are we thankful enough that clothes are covering up a whole lot of nakedness?  While there are certainly cases where humanity would not raise a cry of objection or call for a public covering, by and large (and I mean LARGE) the majority of bodies, including my own, ought to be shrouded in as much cotton/poly mystery as possible.  There are some sights that can’t be unseen and while beauty may only be skin deep, my love handles need a t-shirt.


chairTry and go a week without sitting in a chair, try it for a day.  And it’s cheating to just stay in bed or lay on the sofa.  I mean go and live your life and look at how many chairs you encounter and how much better your life is for it.  Sit down for dinner.  Chair.  Wait in a doctor’s office.  Chair.  Go to school.  Chair.  Work on the computer.  Chair.

Have you ever been camping and not brought a chair?  The first thing you do right after building a shelter and prepping a fire pit is try and fashion a makeshift chair from a rock, a stump, or your least favorite child; anything but sitting on the ground like an animal.  Even worse when you show up to your child’s soccer game without a chair and have to shamefully sit/squat in the damp grass or steal the corner of some strange toddler’s blanket while he eyeballs you.  It’s called sharing Evan, it won’t kill you!  Just go back to playing with your T-rex and Hot Wheels car, like that even makes sense.  You’re not better than me.

Where was I?  Oh right.  Chairs.

There are few things as sweet as resting your weary bones on a good old fashion chair with a back.  Much is made of how the wheel accelerated the human race out of a primal age, but I’ll bet you fifty bucks that long before Neanderthals turned their robust craniums to the wheel they had already invented the chair.

So when you pause to express thanks for the many blessings in your life take a look around and you might be surprised with just how many reasons you have to be grateful.

An evening with Aaron

I was thrilled to get to speak with the Southeast Region Library’s Mystery Discussion group about The Land of Look Behind. I attempted to stream the event on Facebook Live with a few hiccups but here is the video from our discussion. Thank you again to all who came and watch online.

Star Wars: An allegory of fatherhood

Father of children (Episode I)

QuiGonnWhen your children are small, you run around the galaxy like Qui-Gon Jinn with a mostly obedient Obi-Wan Kenobi tagging along. You call the shots and mold your trusty young padawan, with the intention he’ll one day be like you. Although everyone warns you that the next phase is fraught with peril, and destined to end badly, you press on full of optimism. Alas, all too quickly, it comes to an abrupt end as you take a light saber to the gut from a mysterious dark force (adolescence).


Father of teenagers (Episodes II & III)

obi-wan-chosen-oneAll of a sudden you are a flustered and befuddled Obi-Wan, strapped with a moody, angry, slightly whiny padawan who thinks he knows everything. You see the great potential that Anakin possesses, but fear you are going to have to kill him before he reaches it. When Anakin isn’t busy not listening to you he is hanging out with shady figures who are bad influences. Inevitably comes the conflict that ends with you, literally or figuratively, screaming at him, through weary tear soaked eyes, “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE!” while he growls up at you wallowing in his resentment and remorse. [Disclaimer: this isn’t indicative of all teenagers just those that eat and breathe.]


Father of adults (Episode IV: A New Hope)

ObiWan LukeYour reward for those tumultuous Anakin years is a much more willing subject, Luke. You are older now and a little wiser and more patient. Your apprentice understands he doesn’t know everything and is eager to learn what you know.  He is at times impatient, wanting to possess skills and knowledge it has taking you a lifetime to acquire. Still, you are grateful for a second chance and a more receptive vessel. While you want to instruct him in all things, you wisely decide that it’s best he learn for himself. As scary and painful as it may be, when the time is right, you will choose to leave him alone.


Father of Adults part II (Episodes V & VI: Return of the Jedi)

Yodahut_STAlthough he is grown and more experienced, he will still seek for guidance. The years have given you additional knowledge that can benefit him but are too old to go chasing around the galaxy. If he wants your wisdom he’s going to have to come to Dagobah and put up with a heaping spoonful of your craziness, and eat whatever crap you cook up. If he shows the slightest disinterest or lack of faith you can hit him with your cane and say bad things to him and he just has to take it because you are old. Do or do not, there is no try.

One day you’ll fade away and all you can do is hope you’ve prepared him well enough to deal with crazy old Anakin and the dark side better than you did.

Happy Fathers Day!












A how to guide to book signings

Chances are if you’re reading this you are A) my mother or B) an author interested in having a successful book signing.  To the former I say, “Mom, you can stop reading.   Also, your chocolate chip muffins were on point as usual.”  To the latter, I hope you find this an informative and valuable use of your precious “non-writing” time.


LandofBookSigningBefore I get into the details I’ve got to cover one critically important thing.  You have to forget that you are an author and this is your book baby that you spent months and years birthing into the wide world of publishing.  You are and it is, but nobody cares.  At a book signing, especially for first time or little known authors, you are a salesman and your book is your product.  I’ll give you a moment to let the bile settle back into your stomach.  Ready?  Is it okay to continue?  Good.  In a bookstore at a book signing you have an amazing chance to reach real live readers and let them know about your book; the more you embrace that the more successful you will be.  Think of yourself as a glorified sign spinner pointing the way to an amazing story you want to share.  Are you going to be okay?  Suppress the gag.  Suppress it.  It’ll be fine.  You’ll be all right.  There you go.  Shall I proceed?  Okay then.


Here are ten things I learned on my very first book tour (because everybody loves a top ten).


  1. Look presentable. The shut-in reclusive author vibe may have helped you complete your novel but the bookstore and its patrons probably won’t respond to the bedhead hair bun or the hobo beard and uncombed quaff.  You don’t have to rock a pant suit or find a tweed coat with patches on the sleeves but you do want to dress for success as they say.  And this advice is coming from the guy who tried to convince his wife that wearing his pajamas to a book signing could become his hook, you know, “Hey, that’s the author who wears his pajamas in public.”  In hindsight I’m glad I listened to her.  Book signings are like dating, it’s probably best to keep your eccentricities to a minimum.  Although if anybody has pulled it off let me know in the comments below so I can revisit the fedora conversation with my wife/fashion critic.
  2. Smile. From the moment you arrive you should be the happiest person in the world to be there.  Like I said, this is your chance to talk with readers, real live people who enjoy books.  You know, books, like the one you’ve written.  A book signing is not a chore or a hassle, it’s an opportunity.  Everyone you meet should receive a warm greeting; from the staff (who are your best friends, by the way) to every living breathing soul you meet.  Remember they are all potential readers.
  3. Stand. There are several benefits to this, the first of which is it makes No. 5 a lot easier (but we’ll get to that).  At most book signings you’ll be provided a table and a chair.  The temptation is to sit in the chair behind the table.  Resist, don’t do it.  Stand up and remember to smile.  I use the chair as a reward.  I only sit down when I’m signing a copy.  No signing, no sitting.  I know signings can last for hours and that can be daunting but I promise nothing feels better than when you settle into that chair and write your name in the copy of your book that they’re gonna take home.
  4. Have something to look at. You know, besides a standing, smiling author.  I have a 20×30 foam board of my book cover.  Everyone knows that most people actually do judge a book by its cover so that’s something you’ll want to display prominently.  I’ve seen banners, table hangers and even balloons.  Have something that will draw the eye and set you apart from the rest of the store.  You’ll have a stack of books but there are books everywhere, you need to stand out.  Once they pause or look your way employ numbers 2 and 5.
  5. Engage. Now that you are standing and smiling you need to engage.  Chances are the majority of people did not know you were going to be there and, even if they did, you might not be the exclusive reason they came to the store that day.  You need to engage them.  And unless they are impressed with your standing ability or you have an otherworldly talent for smiling that means you are going to have to say something that will get them to talk with you.  “Hello” is a good start but you are going to have to bring a bit more unless you just want to exchange greeting with strangers for two hours.  I like to ask them a question or comment on something they are carrying or looking at.  It can be anything really.  Although, I caution that you might want to be careful about walking up to a woman you don’t know leaning on the bookshelf and asking if she likes mystery.  You can get some funny looks that way, uh, I mean, that’s what I’ve heard.
  6. authorecardHave something to say. This is crucial.  You can knock 1-5 out of the park but it’s all for naught if you can’t briefly and succinctly describe your story/characters to them.  Thankfully I learned this lesson beforehand.  I was having lunch with a fellow author, Randy Lindsay, and he asked me to tell him about my book.  I fumbled and stammered and started rambling about backstories and setup and I watched as his eyes glazed over.  He then told me I needed to come up with a pitch.  Not a synopsis or a book report but a short pitch that would give readers a taste of what to expect and a reason to care.  It’s important that this isn’t overly complicated.  You know your story is good and hopefully they’ll find out but when they stop and ask “What’s your book about?” they are really asking “Why should I care?”
  7. Have something to give. A bookmark, a business card, a poem, an excerpt from the book, something you can hand out in a hurry.  Something they can take with them.  Ideally this will have information about yourself, your book, your website or how to find you on social media.  Remember this is an opportunity to meet the readers and for them to meet you.  The reality though is they might already have an armful of books or a shelf full at home.  They might not be the kind of person who decides on the spot and needs time to think it over.  Give them something to leave with so they’ll remember that presentable, standing, smiling, engaging author who had something to look at and something to say once they’ve returned home.
  8. Freebies. You might argue that this could be looped in with ‘Have something to give.’ well it could but I’m trying to get to ten, so sue me.  Freebies can be completely unrelated to you or your book.  Have candy or popcorn or maybe a raffle for a copy of a previous work.  Freebies are another good way to entice people to talk with you and a great way to engage with readers.  Don’t have any expectations that your freebies will lead to book sales, because often they will be gobbled up by children or a window shopper with a sweet tooth.  It’s just a nice gesture to passersby.
  9. Bring your own writing utensil. Along with a table and chair, most booksellers will offer you a pen to sign with.  While I appreciate the thought I always bring my own pen, one that I am comfortable writing with and trust to have plenty of ink, glide smoothly and not leak.  Do yourself a favor, spring for a couple of nice pens and always bring them with you.
  10. Be grateful. When someone stops and talks with you, thank them and wish them well even if they aren’t interested in your book.  Remember your best friends (the staff)?  Thank them for hosting you and taking care of you while you were there.  Send a note to the manager or owner after you leave and let them know how grateful you are for the opportunity to meet with them their readers.  You will never be sorry for being grateful and you’ll never know what it might mean to the person receiving gratitude.  Think about the last time anybody thanked you for anything.


So that’s it.  You do those ten things and you just had a successful book signing regardless of how many books you signed.  You’re welcome.

Oh what a night!

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect at my launch party this past Friday but I was blown away by your response and love.  I cannot thank my wife and my children enough for all their hard work in prepping for this amazing event.  My house smelled like popcorn and cookies for days.  Lola you are amazing, I truly could not have done any of this without you.

The party started promptly at 6pm as the guests began to arrive there was a steady stream of people all with copies of my book and then an unexpected guest arrived straight from the streets of Gotham.  BATMAN!


That’s right, Batman was at my launch party.  I’m not sure but I think the list of authors who can say that is pretty small.

And the hits just kept coming from there.  I was delighted to see dear friends and family, coworkers and literary colleagues as well as new friends interested in my work and a few who just wanted to use the bathroom.

It was such an incredible evening and I’m so thankful for all those who came and especially all those who helped with food, prep, cleanup and support.  Also thank you to Suzanne and company at the OneOhOne gallery for your help and hospitality.

I woke up Saturday morning exhausted but so happy.  Then I thought of my book signing later that day at Costco and immediately my nerves began to tingle like they hadn’t in years.  It felt like the pre-game jitters I used to get in high school before a big game.  I was sure I had exhausted all goodwill and interest from my friends and family and did not expect to see any of them come out to my signing and wasn’t sure anyone else would even care that I was there at all.  Thankfully I was wrong.  I arrived at Costco about a half hour early and the staff set up a table for me near the books, got me a bottle of water and wished me luck.

Costco table

I really had no idea what to do so I just stood by my sign and began greeting people.  Before too long a wonderful family (the Moore’s) stopped by the table and introduced themselves.  They knew my parents and their son is a school friend with my oldest boy.  They bought the first copy of the day and I was so relieved that I wouldn’t leave with a goose egg.


From that point on it was miraculous.  With a steady flow of shoppers passing by my table I was able to attract their attention with a beautiful book cover, popcorn and my charming personality (yes, in that order).  One by one the books were signed and sold.  I had to make two trips back to the book section to get another stack.  After just two and a half hours of conversing with people about a story I had work on for so long to bring to life, BOOM, I sold out.  It was an incredible feeling.


I feel so blessed for the reception my story has received thus far and cannot wait for my next signing.  When is that you say?  I’m glad you asked.   It’s this Friday February 19th at Barnes & Noble in Dana Park Village Square.  Spread the word.  Hope to see you there.

Book Tour

To err is human

In high school I was on the varsity football team. I don’t say I was a football player because that would imply something other than my unremarkably average athletic prowess. Matter of fact, my most memorable contribution to my teammate’s memories was from a hotly contested game about midway through my junior year. We were down by a touchdown and had the ball on our own twenty-seven yard line. It was third and three and we gave the ball to our tailback on a dive up the middle. He plowed ahead for a five yard gain as we converted the third down. The only problem was the yellow handkerchief that lay back on the white chalk just beyond left hash mark. The call was holding. Coach went ballistic and demanded to know who the perpetrator was. He yelled and waved his arms at the referees until at long last he got the attention he desired. In an effort to calm my coach and maintain some control of the game the ref stated with all certainty that the infraction had been committed by number 53. My coach’s adamant and passionate reply was, “53?! We don’t even have a 53!” I stood two feet behind my coach wearing a white and pristine jersey with the large green numbers five and three on it. Although I had yet to appear in the game, and most certainly did not hold anything other than a Gatorade bottle, I was not about to correct him at that moment and remind him that we did indeed have a 53. Instead I quietly faded back among my teammates and embraced the obscurity.


Now that I’ve written a book I hesitate to call myself an author for similar reasons. I am comfortable saying I’m on the team but an author implies a skill set that I have yet to fully realize. ‘Work in progress’ comes to mind when assessing my own writing prowess. Case in point, my wife is the first line editor on everything that I write. She has spent the better part of the past two years trying to teach me the difference between past and passed (did I get that right?). I’ll take a first pass on a chapter, post or short story and read over it two and even three times, cleaning it up and fixing mistakes and still she will find errors that I’ve missed. It’s maddening. I mean I have spell check, I have a college degree and have written professionally for nearly a decade and still I not only make grammatical and spelling errors but fail to spot them upon closer inspection. I recognize that editing is a different talent and skill set than writing and accept that it’s not something I can put on my resume but that doesn’t stop me from trying to improve my typographical horror shows.


As a blogger I took great comfort in leaning on my wife’s talent as an editor but also found it nearly unbearable each and every time she found a mistake. Working with the wonderful and talented editors employed by my publisher was the same. I was grateful they were there and happy for several other sets of eyes but each time they found an error I wanted to scream. After months and months of edits, sub-edits and rewrites the day arrived when The Land of Look Behind needed to go to the printers. I made one last frantic pass through the manuscript where I made forty one changes/additions/corrections and handed it off with a stamp of approval. Weeks passed (was that the correct passed? I still don’t know) and the advanced copies went out for review. In concert with that I posted the first chapter online to give readers a sample and the feedback was all good. Then I received an email from a concerned reviewer asking if she’d received a final copy because she had found multiple errors in the first chapter. I poured over my copy while I waited for her response on what errors she found. I finished the first ten pages and could not find anything amiss. She replied with what she found and sure enough there it was. I had used “waste” when I should have used “waist” and “of” when I meant to say “a”. I was mortified. I even went back and looked at my first (wife approved) draft and neither mistake was there. The err came in one of my attempts at cleaning up my story and none of us caught it. I couldn’t even find it on my own when given the targeted area. I felt like I was wearing that gleaming white jersey all over again and wished I could simply fade back into a throng of teammates and wait for time to expire. However, there is no hiding your shame in the world of publishing. So I had to come to terms with the fact that, despite my best efforts and the best efforts of several talented eyes, a less than perfect version of my story now exists. In the sleepless nights that followed I have researched this topic and tried to find ways to ease my mind. I’ve been told repeatedly by many friends and avid readers that these things happen and even found that I am in the company of many all-time great writers who were terrible spellers with atrocious grammar (Austen, Fitzgerald, Christie, and Hemingway to name a few). None of that dulled the pain or the reality of the tarnish that was now upon a story that I am immensely proud of. I considered just owning it and making it a game for the readers. “Hey kids, find all the errors in my book and you win a prize!” But that would take the focus off what I believe to be a truly entertaining and worthwhile story and I don’t want that. Instead I wrote this post.


To those of you who’ll read my book, I ask for your forgiveness for the flaws of a first time writer and echo the words of the great philosopher Joss Whedon, “Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won’t be. But there is grace in their failings. I think [we] miss that.”


Fake Book Spoilers

1. President Snow is Katniss’s father.

Darth Snow
2. Ebenezer Scrooge was dead the whole time.

3. Meg, Beth, Jo and Amy are all hobbits.

4. Jay Gatsby is really only average.

5. The ham was spoiled and the eggs rotten.

6. Moby dick had a pet cat named Ishmael.

7. Tumnus is Lucy’s monster.

8. The Picture of Dorian Gray is just a blurry selfie.

9. Percy is the sixth Jackson.

10. Old Dan and Little Ann suffer from coonophobia.

11. Charlotte bites Peter Parker in the end.


Writer’s Block

Anyone who has ever tried to create something new has at some time ran into a brick wall. You begin with the best of intentions and the highest hopes. You select the necessary tool in your preferred medium dedicate an indefinite amount of time to your project. Then it happens (or rather doesn’t happen). Nothing. No ideas. No inspiration. Just the taunting silence of a stalled mind. At that point you have a choice, you can retreat (Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook. Pick your distraction.) or start desperately chucking stuff against the wall until something sticks. This is my salute to all those who seek to create. Stay with it…or go get a snack.

Home For The Holidays

For your consideration; a low stress high reward Christmas shopping experience. There is an easy way to complete all you Christmas shopping for your friends and family in just three simple steps.

Step 1: Visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble and order The Land of Look Behind.

Step 2: Print this delightful card/invitation.

Best Gift Ever
Step 3: Place the card/invitation in their stocking.

Done and done. You’ve just given the gift of reading. Plus, one of the best parts of opening a gift is the anticipation. You’ve just gifted them several more weeks of anticipation, as they can now look forward to all the mystery and majesty of a brand new story. What could be better than that, you say? Well as an added bonus they have an invitation to a party. Whaaaaaaaat?!  That’s right, who doesn’t like a party? Not only do they get a book but they get to go to a celebration about the book and meet the guy who wrote it. As a double bonus when they present their invitation at the party and bring their book to get signed they will be entered into the grand prize drawing for a door prize. I know what you are thinking, this keeps getting better and better. But wait there’s more, for every copy you by an angel gets their wings. You’re welcome.

***Disclaimer*** Purchasing this book is it’s own reward. No angels will be granted wings bases on your purchase. Angel wings are granted based on merit and bell ringing. We apologize for this shameless self promotion. You are free to resume your holiday jubilation now.