Getting Down to the Story Quark

computer keyboard

Recently, I had writer’s block. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: he always says there’s no such thing as writer’s block! And that’s true. But what I experienced is the feeling often called writer’s block. And here’s how I addressed it. This particular work-in-progress is a spec effort, so there’s no deadline or contract involved; at this point, I’m just writing … Read More

Guest post: the Strangest Guitar Modifications Out There

Guitar Lesson

When I spoke with music writer, guitar teacher and session guitarist Natalie Wilson about doing a guest blog, I asked her to write about the strangest guitar modifications she’d run across. What she came up with was amazing; it always pays to ask an expert. So please, if you like it, leave Natalie a note in the comments. ### If you … Read More

Interview: the Lucky Nows

The Lucky Nows

The music in the Tufa novels comes from three main sources: classic folk music, modern indie music, and me. By that, I mean that if I can’t find lyrics to quote from in the first two sources, then it falls back on me to create them. I’m under no delusions about being a songwriter, and I don’t necessarily consider my little … Read More

Presenting Rex Winters: the Story behind Gather Her Round’s Dedication

Stack newspaper

Sometimes dedicating a book is easy, as when a particular person inspires you to write it in the first place, as Tia Sisk did for my first novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde. Or when they’re instrumental in the writing process, the way my son Jake was for Wake of the Bloody Angel. Or when the stars just align, as they did … Read More

Guest Post: The Story Spider’s First Festival

Magda Story Spider Storytelling Festival

The new Tufa novel, Gather Her Round, begins on the stage of the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN where twenty years ago I felt the first stirrings of what would become the Tufa. My friend Christi, a.k.a. professional storyteller Magda the Story Spider (above, onstage at the festival), was with me that first time, and she was kind enough to write a bit … Read More

How a Springsteen Bootleg Inspired a Scene in WISP OF A THING

The back cover of the Fire on the Fingertips bootleg, with all the wrong song titles. For reference, they should be; SIDE ONE, Santa Ana, Bishop Danced, Seaside Bar Song; SIDE TWO, Zero and Blind Terry, Thundercrack.

Since today’s my birthday, I thought I’d bring y’all a little somethin’-somethin’: an example of how things end up the way they do in novels, along with an absolutely kick-ass song. It used to be a lot of work being a Bruce Springsteen fan. He notoriously wrote many more songs than he put on his albums, and if you wanted to hear … Read More

The Two Sides of Every Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway

In Seanan McGuire’s brilliant (and now award-winning) short novel Every Heart a Doorway, teens who’d once escaped reality to various fairytale realms find themselves back in our world, attending a special boarding school to help them re-acclimate to “reality.” They’re all desperate to return to those places where they felt accepted for who and what they were, and one of … Read More

The Idiocies of Genius

Genius-Movie-Poster

Recently I watched Genius, the 2016 film about the relationship between Southern novelist Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) and his editor, Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth). There are also cameos by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce) and Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West). The moral of the story: genius comes in different packages, and sometimes it isn’t recognized until it’s too late. Or something. I … Read More

Found! The Scariest Sound of My Childhood

bigfoot patty sasquatch

I love the idea of Bigfoot. Who doesn’t wish that a huge, mostly-human monster lived at the edges of our civilization, only occasionally glimpsed and even less often photographed? I’ve read tons of books on the subject, and even wrote a draft of a novel about them back in the 90s. But my interest in them goes back even further, … Read More

Favorite Story Song contest

Gather Cover

Popular music has stopped telling us stories. The story song used to be a staple of pop, occasionally rock, certainly country. But since the advent of “singers” enslaved to Auto-Tune and “songwriting” done by marketing committee (not to mention the whole “bro-country” movement), the story song (along with other forms of good music) has vanished from the mainstream airwaves.* Yet … Read More