Making Room For The New


It’s an urge I get once in a while – to replace some of my rattier things, something I don’t do often until I’m threadbare. New bed coverings, new area carpets, getting rid of old things from my marriage, too.

And here’s another thing:

I’m getting rid of my inventory of books written by yours truly to make room for the anticipated influx of new.

The prices are bargain basement. In away I hate to do it, but it’s time to try to increase my readership. You can go to my website – this is the only place you’ll find these prices – here, where you’ll find more about the books, including some great book trailers, then click over to the “STORE” page to make these unbelievable purchases.

I know you’ll enjoy what you find there.


– – A first signing for Sam’s Place: Stories – –

Asheville, NC, Accent on Books, August 17th at 11 am.
Bring a friend – send a friend.
Click on the link below for the book’s trailer.
You can find out even more at:

Sam’s Place is Going Public

In August and September, I’ll be appearing at several bookstores in Western North Carolina to promote my latest book, Sam’s Place: Stories.


I’ve been fortunate to have the book place in some local bookstores, and I’m ecstatic that the book is attracting appearances.

The appearances confirmed for August are listed here:

August 17 – Accent on Books, Asheville, NC
August 24 – Fountainhead Books, Hendersonville, NC
August 31 – Blue Ridge Books, Waynesville, NC

I’ll list the September appearances soon.

If the book seems intriguing (see the note below), and you know of stores or other venues in the southeast where I might appear, please let me know.


Visit my website here, where you’ll have an opportunity to download an audio eversion of my latest, Sam’s Place, as well as select book review podcasts. Then there’s my FB Fan Page here. On both you’ll find more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.

The Way It Was – Southern-Style



The Orchard Keeper, by Cormac McCarthy


You may become puzzled trying to categorize McCarthy’s writing style, but you won’t find it hard at all to place it in the canon of Southern literature. McCarthy eventually moved on from this subset, his most famous books taking place in the Southwest U.S., and taking on a dystopian cant, but his early works, such as “The Orchard Keeper,” will find its place alongside Flannery O’Connor’s and William Faulkner’s, if they haven’t already.

This story takes place in the early 1930s in rural Tennessee and is, rather than a story with a traditional arc, a series of vignettes concerning a young boy, John Wesley Rattner, A bootlegger named Marion Sylder, and an old man, Ather (Arthur), who lives a life as close to the land as is humanly possible. McCarthy’s project here is exactly that – the ability of humanity to live much as the animals, taking little save the necessaries to subsist, and leaving little more than footprints.


The charm of McCarthy’s work here is in three writerly things:

1 – His dialogue, which records the Southern dialect as exactly as is possible, a dialogue that has remained largely the same in the South’s rural areas.

2 – His narrative depiction of the Tennessee wilds, which will engage your senses at every level.

3 – His slightly overdone voice, which is near-poetry.

It may come as no surprise, but McCarthy praises this lifestyle. It’s unvarnished in its violence and its self-destructive individualism, but his depictions of it overflow with love, respect, and admiration. It’s a book about the mutual embrace between nature and humanity, and it’s one of the best pieces of Southern writing in decades.



My rating 19 of 20 stars


Visit my website here, and my FB Fan Page here for more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you. I’ll soon be adding podcasts of selected book reviews to my website, as well as an opportunity to buy mp3 files of my reading of Sam’s Place – Stories, so look for those.


Sam’s Place Is Here!

My new book, Sam’s Place, published by Massachusetts house AuthorMike Ink, is officially launched today, March 25, 2013!


Want to find out more about it?

There’s a great book trailer and an audio version of the book’s first story at my website, linked below. Thanks for any help you can give us to make this book a great success.

Gridley Fires Books


Visit my website here, and my FB Fan Page here for more on ideas and events that matter to me – and possibly to you.


Arts and Letters – Issue 26, Spring 2012

image via 

I’ve become somewhat jaded about literary magazines, particularly those sponsored and published by the various colleges and universities, but not this time. This publication by Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA, contains some of the best writing by up and coming writers I’ve seen between print covers (btw, A&L also now offers an e-version).

This being a publication from a Southern college, I’m pleased to see pieces from all cultural angles and all subject matter, although death seems oddly prominent in this collection. Of particular interest to this reader is a full-tilt drama by James C. McKelly, a fiction piece by Courtney Marcello Norton, an interview with fiction writer, Liza Wieland, and a clever piece of poetry by Stephanie Ivanoff.

If I have a criticism, it’s a general one: some pieces seem overdone, length-wise, but that’s mostly a question of taste on my part. Kudos to writers and editors alike.


My rating: 17 of 20 stars




Assaying the Litmags

The Gihon River Review
– Spring 2010/Volume 14


I used to find literary magazines in my mailbox regularly,
and I don’t anymore. That’s a shame. For the world's struggling writers,
litmags are bread and butter. Or, more properly put, they’re our likeliest outlet.
While they don’t often pay, they offer most of us the only shot we have at
publication, outside of self-publishing ventures.


However, litmags also afford us the opportunity to be read
(mostly by other aspiring writers), and some in the pub industry regularly read
these publications, too. In fact, an agent contacted a writer friend of mine,
offered her a chance to submit a novel, because he’d liked what he’d seen of
her writing in litmags. Admittedly, that’s a rare occurrence, but it does


A couple of weeks ago, the Gihon River Review landed in my box. I was knee deep in preparing
for a writer’s conference presentation, and with a stack of books to read
already growing, I found myself reluctant to dig into Gihon.


But I’m glad I did. Gihon
publishes the usual fare – a few short stories, even more pieces of poetry, and
one non-fiction piece. It’s part of the writer’s game to try to figure out what
litmags prefer in the way of tone, point of view, and subject matter. Gihon is harder to pigeonhole than most:
other than an obvious preference for first person point of view pieces, the
work they usually take is varied in tone, subject matter, and voice.


I haven’t reviewed a litmag in a while; when I have in the
past, I gave my wildly personal opinion (with no apologies) on which piece in
each writing category stands out. So I’ll do that again here. But keep in mind, such
preferences are more nearly what causes your own juices to flow, i.e., what
you’d probably write on your own, and how you’d write about it.


Non-fiction usually gets something of a pass in the critique
department; the story’s already there, probably the tone as well, leaving it to
the writer to add voice and a few structural flourishes. So it shouldn’t
surprise that Lucille Lang Day’s piece, “The White Swan Motel,” stands out.
Something of a surreal mystery, akin to gothic Southern writing, it doesn’t show its mystery until the end, and in an effective but offhand


I enjoyed the three fiction pieces in this issue – that’s a tribute to the editors, I think. So it was harder to pick a favorite.
After a few hands of rock-paper-scissors, Richard Jespers’ “Ghost Riders” won
out.  The piece’s presentation was
flawed a bit by some odd typos, surely from software translation. Jespers
handled with tact and literary grace the story of an idealistic preacher who confronts his congregation  – and his family – over the presence of
a child molester in their midst.


One poem, with the sort of overlong title I can do without,
“A Poem From The Vandalized Blackboard Age of Western Civilization,” by Ken
DiMaggio was far and away more mature in voice and subject that the rest.


All three of these writers are seasoned, with significant
credits on their resume. Talent is most often, as I suspect it is with these
writers, a matter of perspiration over inspiration, mileage over brilliance. Gihon’s editors should be applauded for
sniffing these out.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars