A Special Offer for Independent Bookstore Day

Catamount Cup and Wisp Book

In honor of Independent Bookstore Day, here’s some incentive to get out and visit your local indie store today: if you buy one of my books from an indie and send me a photo of the receipt, I’ll send you a signed copy of another of my books. Indies are the people who are in it for the love, and they … Read More

The Same River Twice: Tender Mercies and Crazy Heart

Crazy Heart poster

Recently I finally caught Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance in Crazy Heart. And while he was certainly very good, I couldn’t shake the sense that I’d seen this movie before, when it starred Robert Duvall and was called Tender Mercies. Naturally, I’m not the first viewer to notice that. The similarities are striking. Even the protagonists’ names are similarly short, sharp, … Read More

What If It Were Me? Finding the Right Ending

hamlet everyone dead

Recently a fan posted this statement on my Facebook page: My wife and I have now both finished Gather Her ‘Round and find ourselves wondering if the Tufa ever get a HAPPY ending? I replied, I can’t speak to that (we all have our definitions of “happy”) but I hope they all have the right endings for those particular stories. I wanted … Read More

Guest post: Robyn Bennis on the Uselessness of Writing Advice

Guns Above cover

I firmly believe that all good writing advice is generalized to the point of uselessness by its third retelling. You know the sort of advice I’m talking about. It takes the form of the tired maxims your critique group can’t stop themselves from repeating, the literary platitudes from a once-great author whose work began to flag about the time they … Read More

The Heat from the Story Fire

Jacobi Henry V Muse of Fire

As I’ve said before, I’m a Shakespeare fan. I mean that literally: I feel the same mix of affection and excitement that I do for James Bond, Star Trek, Godzilla and Dracula. I obsess over the minutia, watch my favorite “episodes” (plays) over and over, and collect things that have meaning for me as a fan. And although I’m no scholar, … Read More

Giants of West Tennessee: An Interview with Memphis’ own Southern Avenue

Southern_Avenue_Photo_Credit_David_McClister

NOTE: This is the latest in an ongoing occasional series about notable figures from my home region. This one is unique because, instead of a nostalgic look back, it’s about something brand new. This interview needs two introductions to set up the context. Number one: when I was growing up, WHBQ-AM out of Memphis was the radio station, a Top 40 melting pot … Read More

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