Book Review: Gritty, Grisly and Greedy

Gritty, Grisly, Greedy: Stories Inspired By True Crooks And Crimes From My 28 Years As A Fed.
A collection of short stories by Stuart L. Scott

$14.95 available on Amazon.

It’s rare to get fiction and nonfiction all in the same book, but Stuart Scott artfully manages to do both.  His book includes 13 short stories, ranging from well researched accounts of actual events, like the “The Easter Massacre Mystery” that occurred in Pullman, Washington in 1949 to fictionalized accounts of events using characters loosely based on parolees he supervised over the years, like “Pinky and the Piper,” the story of a botched bank robbery in Priest River, Idaho. Continue reading


Beyond Terrestrial Podcast

After coming across my article, “Grizzly Ghosts: Tales of the Hoodoos,” I was invited to be a guest on Dan and Lee’s pod cast with ‘Beyond Terrestrial.’ The article covers ghost stories new and old that have been passed around campfires by decades of scouts attending Camp Grizzly as well as some mysterious happenings that occurred elsewhere in the Hoodoos.

Are these all fanciful tales told by rambunctious Scouts? Or is there something darker lurking in the Hoodoo Mountains? Find a stick for roasting marshmallows and sit down by the fire as we swap summer camp ghost stories! Continue reading


Submitting to the AR Catalog

You have written a book.  It’s great book, a stellar book, a magnificent book.  Yet, it sits on the shelf unsold.

If your intended audience is between the ages of 6 and 18, unless your book is listed in the Accelerated Reader (AR) catalog, it’s unlikely to be purchased by anyone.  Teachers cannot possibly be familiar with the plot, storyline, and characters of every book available to school-age children.  Because of this, many schools turn to Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader (AR) program.  The AR software provides assessments that measure comprehension and reading level.  Consequently, school and library purchasing decisions are often dependent on AR catalog listing.

Authors hoping to bypass schools and libraries, marketing directly to kids (and their parents) are out of luck.  Summer used to be a time for kids to catch-up on ‘fun’ reading.  Now, even it has fallen victim to the AR Catalog.  Racking-up AR points is highly competitive.  Pizza parties and tickets to amusement parks on the line.  Many schools allow students to log points for books read during summer break, so most school-aged children simply will not read a book that does not appear in the AR catalog.

In order to be successful with the school-age demographic, authors need their books listed in the AR catalog.  But, how does one do that? Continue reading


Grizzly Ghosts

Looking for spine chilling ways to amuse your family during this time of social distancing?  My article, Grizzly Ghosts: Tales of the Hoodoos was published in the April 2020 edition of IDAHO Magazine.  The article covers ghost stories new and old that have been passed around campfires by decades of scouts attending Camp Grizzly as well as some mysterious happenings that occurred elsewhere in the Hoodoos. Continue reading


Covid-19: Surviving Isolation

I seldom panic and wasn’t going to prep.  Then both of my kids asked me about Covid-19.  And then the President declared a national emergency and the CDC said we should have a month’s supply of “stuff” on hand.  And now, we’re supposed to avoid places with more than 10 people.

Thanks to the wisdom of my ancestors, who instilled in me the need to preserve and store large quantities of food, I’m still not going to panic.  Some of you may remember the last government shut-down in which I went eight weeks without buying groceries and suffered no adverse effects thanks to my “Mormon Pantry.”  At the time, I joked that it was a dry run to see if I could survive the Zombie Apocalypse.  Turns out, it was a test run for surviving Covid-19.

For the benefit of my children (and possibly their friends and random strangers) I have created menus and a shopping list detailing the items one person needs to shelter in place for a month.  Since most recipes serve four or six, you’ll be eating left-overs several nights in a row, but it beats starvation. Continue reading


Ostara: Eggs and Bunnies

The time of the vernal equinox was auspicious in ancient cultures.  In the Anglo-Saxon calendar, Eostremonath was named after Eostre (Ostara in Old High German), the maiden goddess of dawn and the spring.  At the time of the equinox a feast is celebrated in her honor, replete with offerings of rabbit shaped cakes and colored eggs.  This is because Eostre adopted both the hare and egg as her symbols.

According to legend, a magical white hare wanted to please Eostre by bringing her a gift.  After careful contemplation of which gifts to bring, he settled on eggs, however, not the usual white or brown ones.   Using his magical powers, he charmed the eggs, so the shells were a variety of pretty colors.  In lieu of a basket, he presented his gift in the very same nest from which he stole the eggs.  The goddess was very pleased with the gift and bestowed upon the hare the nickname ‘Egg Bringer.’  For this reason rabbits and hares, especially white ones, are sacred to her. Continue reading


Book Review 101

According to Jane Friedman the most essential first step for authors is book reviews, not sales.  A good review generates symbolic capital, which helps sell books.  New and self-published authors have no symbolic capital, meaning they are an unknown in the book market.  The key to a successful book launch is acquiring reviews before investing in public promotions.

Many self-published authors and authors published by small presses don’t think about reviews until it’s too late.  The time to start thinking about reviews is about one year prior to publication.  This is because a list of potential reviews must be created before proofs are ordered.  The proofs are sent to selected reviewers as advance reader copies and it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months before the publisher has a review in hand and is ready to proceed with publication.

But where do these reviews come from?  Many first-time authors turn to paid review sites like YourNewBooks.com, Reading Deals, and Enas Review.  While some paid review sites, like Kirkus, are accepted and trusted sources by many in the industry, most are not worth the trouble (or the money).  The draw for many of these sites is that if the review is negative the author can chose not to have it published.  However, American Heart initially received a glowing review and was awarded a Kirkus star, only to have the star removed–Kirkus forced the reviewer to change their review post-publication.  So, if you are going to end up with a publicly available negative review anyway, there are plenty of places to acquire those for free.  Below are the five areas to tap pre-publication to get reviews. Continue reading


Laughter and Libations, 2019

Of all my favorite holidays, Christmas isn’t.  All the other December holidays come and go peacefully.  Unfortunately, there is something about Christmas that just brings out the worst in Christians.  The simple action of wishing someone “Happy holidays” has them frothing at the mouth, insisting everyone has declared war on Christmas.

This simply isn’t true.  No one has declared war on Christmas.  Christmas has declared war everyone else.

A short list of December holidays includes: Continue reading


Samhain 2019

Halloween is the only time of year witches are in vogue.  Suddenly everyone is interested in black magic, spell craft, hexing their neighbor, and a host of other things that bear little resemblance to actual Paganism.  Despite the annual autumnal uptick in interest in all things occult, Halloween isn’t a Pagan holiday.  That doesn’t mean we Pagans won’t dress up in costumes and join our Christian brethren in unholy revelry, general debauchery, and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, but we do have our own holiday to celebrate, Samhain.

Samhain translates as sam, “summer,” and fuin “end.”   With fluttering leaves in shades of copper, amber, and crimson, there can be no doubt that summer is truly at an end.  To Celtic peoples the Feast of Samhain is a fire festival that marks the first day of winter and the beginning of the Celtic New Year. Continue reading


Autumnal Equinox 2019

The timing of the Harvest Festival is a tricky one for Pagans, as harvest occurs at different times in different regions.  There is no specific date across Celtic culture that corresponds to a harvest festival, despite the fact that such festivals very much did exist.  Herodotus first mentioned the Celts in 5 BCE and noted that they principally lived along the upper Danube River.  At the time, their principal festivals, Imbolg, Beltane, Lughnasad, and Samhain, marked the changing of the seasons.

The connection between harvest and the autumnal equinox traces its origins back, not to Celtic, but to Germanic traditions.  Roman historian, Tacitus, first described Germanic people in 98 CE, placing them in upper Germany and Denmark, in an area which bears the name Angeln.  Like the Celts, the Anglo-Saxon Pagan year also contained four holy days to mark the changing of the seasons: Yule, Lencten Efniht (lengthening equal-night), Litha, and Haerfest Efniht (harvest equal-night).  Eostre was not recorded in the place of the Lengthening equal-night until the 8th century. Continue reading