Quarantine Update – AKA What a difference a decade makes.

Well, it’s actually been eleven years, but I digress. I made a comment on Twitter, and a person or two liked it. Aubrey was sitting in Erika’s lap, and in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a secondary player can follow the active player around. Aubrey kept running away from Erika while she was trying to fish, causing the screen to shift and Erika’s view of the fish to be obscured.

Erika exclaimed, “Ugh! Fishing with a four-year-old in Animal Crossing is just as bad as it is in real life!”

I grabbed my phone and retorted, “Oh, I dunno.” And pulled up one of my favorite photos of Alyssa and me “fishing” at Lynx Lake.


 

It was on May 17th, 2009. Grandma was with us. You can’t see it in the photo, but if memory serves, we had a bag of Kix cereal. I didn’t want to actually catch a fish that day, and I remember sticking a Kix on the hook and casting it. Four-year-old Alyssa would reel it back in, I’d put another on the hook, and she’d eat a handful. Then, repeat – It was a great day.

I had just finished up my very first semester at Yavapai College. According to my transcripts, I had a 4.0 GPA. I was working at a Fox News Radio affiliate back then, and the paycheck was pretty good. We owned a house in an unincorporated area between Prescott and Prescott Valley then. Anthony was doing well at a local charter school. I probably weighed about 225 pounds or so.

What a difference a decade (eleven years) makes.

Today is April 5th, 2020. I’m avoiding writing a discussion board post for my graduate degree. It’s due tomorrow. I finished that degree at Yavapai College. It took me three years, and my final GPA was 3.49. I think I was .01 short of the dean’s list or something. I also got my Bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University. It took me… wow, five years to finish that one. Losing a job, a house, and a cancer diagnosis derailed that one. Not that it matters, but my final GPA was 3.51 – enough for the dean’s list. I got fired from the Fox News Radio Affiliate twice. We bought a new house – going on 3.5 years here. My weight has been a major issue partly due to the cancer, and partly due to the fact that I lovefood. I’m about 280, and not happy about it.

Anthony and Erika are both getting their associate’s degrees from Yavapai College this summer. Anthony should be starting his bachelor’s in the fall. Alyssa is now fourteen, and is a hell of an artist, musician, and actor. Many of you who have met us at an event have seen her artwork. This proud dad brags any chance he gets. I’m working on my MBA, with an eye on my PhD. If everything goes as planned, I’ll get my MBA spring 2021, and start my PhD that Fall. I’ve got a great job that allows me to telework during the coronavirus crisis.

Anyway, Aubrey, like any four-year-old, wanted to see the photo I showed Erika. The interaction went something like this:

“Is that me in that photo?” Aubrey inquired.

“Does it look like you?” I replied.

“Well, yes, but…”

“Ah,” I said. “Do you remember fishing with me?”

“No,” she replied.

A smile crept on my face, and I looked to Erika. We’ve been married twenty years, and together longer. I knew that she knew what I was thinking. We couldn’t go to Lynx Lake due to quarantine, but we have a nice back yard…


 

I hope everyone reading this is safe. A dear friend of mine lost her husband recently, and I’ve read of others in the same situation. My mother-in-law, who has spent every weekend at my house since Aubrey was born is having a tough time distancing from us. Since Anthony is working at Fry’s (Kroger), we felt that it wasn’t safe for Erika’s mom to spend the weekends here. I only go into work one day a week, and there are only about four people there when I do. Because of my Leukemia, I’m not any safer, but family.

There is a lot of anxiety out there right now. There is a lot of misinformation. There is a lot of people worried about their friends, loved ones, jobs, communities, etc. We need to have compassion for our fellow humans. Animal Crossing will only take us so far :) We need to be better. We need to do better. As Alyssa is fond of saying, “Love wins.”


Verde Valley Comic Expo

I logged in to check on something, and noticed that I reached 1000 posts two posts ago. Also that I hadn’t posted anything since January. Next week is spring break for me, so I might do some author related stuffs – I dunno.

I’ll be at the 5th annual Verde Valley Comic Expo on March 21st. I’ll have an artist that I work with in attendance. His name is Mario Diaz, and this will be his first show selling art, so be sure to show up and buy something from him. You can get one of my books too, I guess. My friends, L. Fergus and Meg Mac Donald gave me some of their books to sell, and of course, I’ll have Erika’s children’s books on hand to sell. You know, the ones illustrated by the amazingly talented Alex Rudolph. Oh, and Alyssa will be there a actually selling her art. It’ll be a busy table!

Check out Mario’s Instagram and Facebook. (He says he’s more active on Insta.) You might recognize the rain/city/woman with umbrella painting from the Spanish-language collection of my stories.


Hiatus and Other Hspprnings

Hey, everyone! I’ve already mentioned my 2020 hiatus on Twitter, and an interview back in November, but I didn’t post about it here. So, here it is: I’m working on my Master’s degree this year, and it’s back-to-back-to-back studying, essays, meetings, etc. I’ve only got two appearances this year: Fandomania in August, and The Verde Expo in March.

Now, The Verde Expo has been traditionally when my next murder mystery would release, but the series contract with Amber Cove wasn’t renewed, so there won’t be a new book for 2020. I have rough drafts of two more novels, and a mental outline of a third. I expect to have the next adventure of Caroline Collins and Tupper Jones out in 2021, most likely at the Verde Expo. I’ll do some shopping of the series, but if I get no takers, I’ll self-publish.

Mental State is still in rough draft, and that could see a fall release in 2021. The next War of the Worlds novel is still looking like a 2023 release after contracts expire. Other things on my “future” plate are another Clockwork Tales with D. Paul Angel. That project is something that I can work on between semesters, so as soon as DPA and I get more going, I’ll let you all know.


Musing from the dead

It certainly has been a while since I posted.

A lot happened in 2019. I got laid off from my long-time broadcasting job in April. (I started that job in November 2007!) Life was difficult this year. I suffered from bouts of apathy, no doubt, depression from my life situation. My writing career seems to have stalled, and I went from getting invited to everything to no one wanting me. (I know it’s not true, but depression has a nasty way of making you believe things…) Of course, I haven’t written a damned thing since April. I’ve kept reading, but Amazon’s odd policies on writers reviewing other works of fiction resulted in no reviews. I’m not sure that anyone read my reviews, but I’m probably not going to do those anymore. Goodreads will be my primary reading portal reporting thing, since I can still leave starred ratings.

I started a new career in September. (I know, broadcasting was my new career.) So education is my new new career. I took a job as a Data Operations Specialist at a local liberal arts college. I didn’t realize how much I hated my broadcasting job until I got the college job, to contrast how much fun this new job is. I’m also going to start my graduate program in January 2020. I received my undergraduate degree in 2017 after five years of NAU, so getting an accelerated graduate degree in a year will be a challenge that I look forward to completing. The educational future for my family and me is looking good.

As for writing, I just got back from an educational training event in Portland, OR. I spent my evenings with fellow writer D. Paul Angel. We ate food and saw the sights in Weird Portland. Yes, I know that “Keep Portland Weird” is an unofficial slogan, but I don’t care. Anyway, with the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to be writing the next Tupper Jones mystery, and have already written 1500 words of Brass Queen. I’m not sure of the timetable for the Brass Automaton sequel, but it’s revived. (Can you believe that it’s been since 2016 since we wrote in this universe?)

Anyway, I hope to blog more now that I’m feeling better with life. November may be light, since I want to focus on writing two stories for NaNoWriMo. Twitter will be the best place to follow that. So, in closing, it’s good to be back, and I look forward to the challenges of the future.


What Dawn Demands, by Clara Coulson

After watching his city fall to pieces during his archenemy’s last attack, Vincent Whelan is finally ready to take the fight to Abarta. But in order to defeat an age-old god and his growing army of vicious fiends, Vince will have to take Kinsale’s selection of subdued paranormals and somehow turn them into a first-rate fighting force. To complicate matters, the vampires have made themselves at home in Kinsale, and the city’s recovery is threatened by their escalating violence. So when Vince stumbles upon a major scheme in the making, spearheaded by the elder vampire who wants his head on a plate, he’ll have to navigate not only the dangers of Abarta’s next big move but also the rising risk of a vampire insurrection. A cunning trap that could destroy the city. An ancient summoning that could destroy the world. A pair of powerful people determined to achieve their dark ambitions. And the only thing standing in the way of all this chaos is a half-fae with a cop badge, a cool sword, and a massive chip on his shoulder. It’s Vincent Whelan versus the forces of absolute destruction, and the odds are far worse than fifty-fifty.

This fourth book in the series had a slightly different feel to it. Vince seems to have matured between the events of books three and four. I think I like this confident Vince better than the “hidden” one. I will say, that this is the first book in the series to have a cliffhanger ending, and it felt longer than any of the previous books. I’m not usually a fan of the cliffhanger, but Coulson pulls it off without book four feeling incomplete. It’s been fun reading Vince grow as a character, and we learned a lot about the past histories of the world, Vince, and the fae. If I had to find fault, it’s that the recurring villains are getting a little stale. I realize that Abarta is the big bad, and his defeat would likely mean the end of the series, but he seems like doctor claw from inspector gadget. I still love the snark between Vince and Saoirse, and between Vince and everyone who shunned him before his lineage was revealed. Everybody cheers for the underdog, and Vincent Whelan is an underdog I can really get behind. Five stars like the rest of the series, and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Therin-Knite

Clara Coulson was born and raised in backwoods Virginia, USA. Currently, in her mid-twenties, Clara holds a degree in English and Finance from the College of William & Mary and recently retired from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC to return to the homeland and pick up the quiet writing life. Clara spends most of her time (when she’s not writing) dreaming up new story ideas, studying Japanese, and slowly reading through the several-hundred-book backlog on her budding home library. If she’s not occupied with any of those things, then you can probably find her playing with her two cats or lurking in the shadows of various social media websites.

Amazon
Goodreads
http://www.claracoulson.com/
Twitter


City Before Sunrise out now!

Hey, you. Yeah, you. My second murder mystery with Amber Cove Publishing is out now. I know, I know, you want to know why the series is called “Tupper Jones Mysteries” when the protagonist is Caroline Collins. Really, it’s because I’m a bit of a trickster. You picked up on the fact that I do stuff like naming the FBI agents after pregnancy terms, right? You dig the puns, right? Well, City Before Sunrise has the same level of snark and excitement as Score of Silence. Like more even. I guess I should say something like “Now with 17% more snarky banter!” I took a customer behavior course while getting my undergraduate degree in human behavior, and I know that that statement is meaningless. What isn’t meaningless is that gasp, there’s another dead body. (Do I really need to use “dead” as a qualifier? I mean if it’s a body, then it’s obviously dead, otherwise, it would be a person.) Some of you emailed me and said that the blood in the opening chapters of Score of Silence was too much. Okay, maybe it was. City Before Sunrise has 63% less blood. Like the description says, the team’s back together, and ready to get their man. For fans of Kimberly and/or Tiffany, they have bigger roles in City Before Sunrise. Flat-face, er, I mean Agent Braxton returns with 5% less vein-bulging, red-faced anger. So, get the book. Get two or three so you can give them to your friends. Oh, and just so you know, the rough draft of book three is finished, so expect another Tupper Jones Mysteries book March 2020. (It’s a pattern!) P.S. I could use some reviews on both titles, so you know, please…

Caroline Collins just can’t catch a break.

When an old friend comes calling, Caroline finds herself embroiled in a case involving clandestine meetings, bank robberies, a shady import-export business, and the murder of an FBI agent. And where this fearless female sleuth goes, Tupper Jones is sure to follow–only this time, following could mean a long walk off a short pier into Lake Michigan.

Hot on the heels of the events in SCORE OF SILENCE, CITY BEFORE SUNRISE explodes with action, danger, and a touch of snark. The band is back together and Team Collins won’t stop until false allegations against their friend are laid to rest and the Chicago mob is in need of a new boss.

City Before Sunrise
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q131CHX/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43471669/

Score of Silence:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B4F7ZD3/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39405579/


Release Party This Saturday!

The Verde Valley Comic Expo coincides with the release of my second murder mystery this year. City Before Sunrise is scheduled to release on March 26th, but you can get your copy early at the Verde Valley Comic Expo on March 23rd! Entry is only $5 ($3 if you bring two non-perishable food items). I’ll be there from 10am until the event closes at 5pm. Last year, I skipped the afterparty with Tales of the Con, but plan on tagging along this year. I’ll also have a Bards and Sages swag bag that the Cottonwood library will be raffling off to support their summer reading campaign. VVCE regulars, Tales of the Con, Everybody’s Hometown Geek, & Arizona Ghostbusters will be there too.

Here’s the description for City Before Sunrise:
Private Investigator Caroline Collins just can’t catch a break.
When an old friend comes calling, Caroline finds herself embroiled in a case involving clandestine meetings, bank robberies, a shady import-export business, and the murder of an FBI agent. And where this fearless female sleuth goes, Tupper Jones is sure to follow—only this time, following could mean a long walk off a short pier into Lake Michigan.
Hot on the heels of the events in SCORE OF SILENCE, CITY BEFORE SUNRISE explodes with action, danger, and a touch of snark. The band is back together and Team Collins won’t stop until false allegations against their friend are laid to rest and the Chicago mob is in need of a new boss.

But wait, there’s more! My daughter and teen artist, Alyssa, will be at VVCE2019 with me. She’ll have framed artwork for sale for only $15. She’s gotta buy lunch from the Copper State Pizza truck, so stop in and buy some of her artwork. For those of you on the south side of Mingus Mountain, she’ll also be at the Teen Art Showcase on Friday the 22nd at the Prescott Valley Library from 6pm – 8pm. The showcase will be her first public appearance ever, so stop on by to either event and say hello.

Here are some links:
VVCE2019 website
VVCE2019 facebook
Cottonwood Public Library
Prescott Valley Public Library
City Before Sunrise Amazon page
Amber Cove Publishing
Bards and Sages Publishing
Tales of the Con podcast
Everybody’s Hometown Geek
Arizona Ghostbusters