Thursday, December 28, 2017

World War II Veteran

My good friend, Ed Gitlin, turns ninety-nine years old this month. He is an avid reader of history, has a quirky sense of humor and survived war trauma including being a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II.

Ed taught me so much about World War II as we worked together on his biography. It was released under two titles, but is the same book: For Liberty: A World War II Soldier’s Inspiring Life Story of Courage, Sacrifice, Survival and Resilience and The Best Chicken Thief in All of Europe.

Happy birthday, Ed.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Storytelling with Kids

I enjoy telling stories to my two-year-old grandson. In my family there is a tradition of Horace the Flying Horse stories. My mom told them to me, I told them to our three kids, and I now share them with my grandson. These involve seeing a small speck in the sky, it gets larger and larger, and suddenly Horace lands to take the listener on an adventure. The child climbs aboard and holds on tight. Then Horace flies into the air to go to some near destination or distant land. After the adventure, Horace returns the child to the starting point.

My grandson also loves cars and trucks. I invent action stories for him using his vehicles. We line up a bulldozer, dump truck, cement truck, road roller and street sweeper. I tell him the following and he acts it out with the proper truck. “A new road needs to be built. First, the bulldozer clears the dirt. Then the dump truck unloads gravel. Now the cement mixer arrives to dump cement. The road roller rolls the road. Finally, the wind blows leaves on the road so the street sweeper comes along to clear the leaves. He never tires of acting this out.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Who Would You Like to Sit Next to at Dinner?

At a book club holiday party I attended this week, we all answered the question of who we would like to sit next to at dinner (living, dead or fictional).

I chose Nikola Tesla. The reason being that I read extensively about the eccentric inventor when doing research for my international thriller, The Tesla Legacy.

He was on the autism spectrum with a number of strange quirks, one of which was to do things in multiples of three. When he went to dinner, he insisted on having three, nine or eighteen napkins served to him with his meal. I would like to see this.

But more important was his brilliant mind. He could invent things in his head and go directly from mental image to design without a blueprint. And he had a concept to generate electricity through the air or ground without wires. I would love to discuss this with him.
Who would you choose and why?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941

I grew up in Hawaii so the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, was a significant event to hear about in my childhood.

Both of my parents were in Honolulu on that date. My mother worked for Globe Wireless (a communication company of that era) and opened the office that Sunday morning. Needless to say she didn’t get home until late at night with all the messages that needed to be sent and received.

Both of my parents recounted stories of getting blackout curtains up and having to obey a curfew. But on December 7, 1941, they also had to deal with rumors such as the water supply had been poisoned, the Japanese had landed or were coming back.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Things That Go Bump in the Night

You’re sound asleep and awakened by an eerie sound. Where’s it coming from? What is it? Has this happened to you?

We experienced this recently. My wife, an avid mystery reader, solved it. We have a number of books in our house for grandkids, and she recently retired a number of them and put them in bags to give away. One of the talking books (you push a button and the book speaks like a cartoon character) obviously didn’t want to leave. Somehow one of the buttons got activated and the sound we heard was Minnie Mouse saying, “Don’t you just love tea parties.”

Not at four in the morning.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Shopping and Black Friday

How do you feel about shopping on Black Friday?

When I see TV pictures of people lined up in front of stores for Black Friday, it makes me shudder. I guess some people like this kind of thing. For me, I hate crowds, lines and shopping. Black Friday is a day for me to read a book, take a walk and avoid any store.

Call me crazy, but I prefer to spend my consumer dollars when things are calm.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trading Responsibilities

My wife and I have been married forty-nine years. When I retired in 2007, we decided to trade some responsibilities. For many years I had taken care of our family finances, and my wife had done most of the food shopping and cooking. Now I do most of the food shopping and cooking, and my wife takes care of finances.

In addition to both of us developing some new skills, this has another beneficial side effect. If something happens to one of us, the other will be better prepared to carry on.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Republishing My Backlist

My first novel in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published in 2007 and the sixth book in the series, Nursing Homes Are Murder, appeared in 2014. All six books in this series as well as a standalone, Mystery of the Dinner Playhouse, are out of print from the publisher, Five Star. Fortunately, rights have reverted to me, so these books are being released as trade paperbacks by Encircle Publications. Many thanks to Eddie Vincent at Encircle for making this happen.

The other good news for readers is that they are priced at approximately half the price of the original hardcover editions.
Here are the covers:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Writing Cartoon Gags

Six years before I began writing short stories and novels, I had a hobby of writing cartoon gags. I learned about this from an article in the Smithsonian Magazine—cartoonists accepted gag copy from people and payed them a percentage of their take when they sold a cartoon to a publication. I then subscripted to a magazine that listed cartoonists, how to contact them and what types of gags they were looking for.

In my free time, I began thinking up gags and writing then down. In this era of the mid-1990s before everything had moved to the Internet and email, the procedure was to put the gags on a 3 inch by 5 inch index card with a unique identification number and my address on the other side of the card. I would mail these in batches of five to the cartoonist with a stamped and self-address envelope included. If the cartoonist liked a gag, he would keep the card and return the ones he didn’t want. Then if he sold the cartoon, he’d pay me a percentage usually about twenty-five percent of what he received.

I did this for several years, had a number of gags accepted and some of these sold. If was fun but probably didn’t pay for the postage.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mystery Novel Events

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a number of mystery conferences including Bouchercon, The Left Coast Crime Conference and Malice Domestic. Both fans and writers of the mystery genre attend these events, which feature  panels on a wide variety of mystery writing and law enforcement topics.

One other mystery event is coming up this Sunday: Men of Mystery. This is an all day event at the Irvine Marriott, in Irvine, CA. Thirty to fifty men mystery writers each have one minute to pitch their latest novels, and several guests of honor speak. Over lunch we authors sit at a table with about nine mystery fans, answer questions and have a good chat about the mystery genre. Then there is a book signing where the readers can purchase their favorite authors’ books and have them signed. All in all a fun day for both mystery fans and authors.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Memory As We Get Older

In my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series, the protagonist, Paul Jacobson, has short-term memory loss. In his case, it’s not Alzheimer’s but vascular dementia due to a number of small strokes. As we get older, we all face loss of memory, but most of this is normal and not due to any disease.

One example is what my wife calls “the intervening thought.” I go into a room to get a folder, get distracted when I see a note I left and leave the room without the folder. This happens to us as we get older.

I forget a lot of little things now. One example: last week I took our two-year-old grandson to a playground. I brought along sand toys for him to play with. When it was time to go we packed up, but I forgot to retrieve the sand toys. After we got in the car and I had my grandson seatbelted into his car seat. I realized I had left the sand toys in the sand at the playground. I had to get my grandson out of the car seat and take him back to the playground to retrieve the toys and then return to the car. Extra work that could have been avoided if I had remembered before we left the playground the first time.

The lesson I’ve learned from this type of event. I need to pay attention during transitions. When I’m changing locations, I need to go through a mental checklist to make sure I’ve taken care of everything. If I do this, I have a better chance of not forgetting an important item. Otherwise, I have to write these types of events off as part of my exercise program.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Let's Hear It for Independent Book Stores

I’ve had the pleasure of doing book events at a number of independent book stores in Southern California since we moved here two years ago. By favorites include Gatsby Books in Long Beach, Book Carnival in Orange and Mystery Ink in Huntington Beach.

These book stores provide personalized service for customers and host book events for authors. I’ll be giving a book talk about my latest mystery novel, Death of a Scam Artist, at Mystery Ink ( 8907 Warner Avenue #135, Huntington Beach, CA) this coming Saturday October 14 at 5 PM. This novel takes place in a retirement community, so my talk focuses on the subject of older characters and retirement.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

My Writing Journey

Sixteen years ago in 2001, I made the decision that I wanted to retire into writing. I began by taking writing courses at the University of Colorado (we lived in Boulder, CO, at the time and people over the age of 55 could take any courses at CU with the instructor’s permission). My first book, Retirement Homes Are Murder, was published in 2007, and I retired later that year to focus on writing. I’ve been fortunate to have my fourteenth book, Death of a Scam Artist, published this year.

Thank you to all the readers who have inspired me and kept me going.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Different Points of View

With all the polarization in our country today, it’s interesting to see how the NFL protests are reported by CNN and Fox News. Both news networks have commentators providing different viewpoints, but both have a predominant way they frame the issue. CNN speaks more about the underlying protest of African-American players against violence to African-Americans, and Fox focuses on patriotism. Both are valid points and need to be brought out in civil discussion.

I’m also struck about the discussion over free speech. The problem is that on either the extreme left or right, proponents are in favor of free speech for their point of view not for the other point of view.

We need to get to a point where we can discuss different points of view without villainizing the opposition.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I'm a Pain in the Back

Have any of you suffered from lower back pain? I’ve been a pain in my own back for the last week. When I was younger, occasionally I pulled a muscle while playing sports, but there was an event that caused pain. Now I have pain in my lower back with no discernable event causing it. One of the things that occurs as I get older. A massage helps and I’ve been doing back exercises.

It makes it difficult to sit at the keyboard for very long, therefore this will be a short post.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Lessons from Two-Year-Olds at a Playground

I’ve learned a lot lately when taking our two-year-old grandson to the playground. We’re fortunate in Lakewood, CA, where we live to have a number of excellent playgrounds for little kids. Our favorite is at Bolivar Park. It’s a new playground with excellent climbing, swinging and sliding equipment designed for two to five-year-olds in a fenced-in area with both sand and soft rubber material to protect when children fall. And best of all for a grandpa, there are many benches and shade.

Since our grandson is an only child, playgrounds are a good place for him to interact with peers and learn how to share toys. Two-year-olds are at that age where they start interacting with other kids and are learning to communicate. Several observations:

  1. They always want to play with the other kids’ toys. No matter what we bring, our grandson is attracted to a ball, car or truck of another kid.
  2. They like to chase each other. Great exercise and lots of enjoyment.
  3. Sometimes they want to play together and sometimes they want to play alone.
  4. There are altercations, at times, when two kids want to play with the same toy. This leads to trying to grab a toy away or stalking the other kid until he puts the toy down. All the kids are starting to learn to share, some more successfully than others.
  5. Most of the kids are well-behaved with supervising parents or grandparents there to encourage sharing. Once in a while there’s a bully and typically the “responsible” adult is on a cell phone.
  6. The kids play with everyone no matter the gender or race. A real demonstration how biases are taught and not inherent.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Who's the leader of the gang,
That's made not for you but me?
D-O-N-A-L-D  T-R-you-M-P!
Hey there! Hi there! Ho there!
Immigrants are unwelcome as can be,
D-O-N-A-L-D  T-R-you-M-P!
Donald Trump!

Mickey Mouse!
Donald Trump!
Mickey Mouse!
Forever build a border wall
High, high, high. High!

Come along let’s sing his praise
While all the country pays!
D-O-N-A-L-D  T-R-you-M-P!
We'll have fun, we'll reject different faces.
We'll do things and send them other places.
All around the country we’re strutting.
Who's the leader of the gang,
That's made for mediocrity?
D-O-N-A-L-D  T-R-you-M-P!
Hey there! Hi there! Ho there!
Fake news is as welcome as can be,
D-O-N-A-L-D  T-R-you-M-P!

Donald Trump!
Mickey Mouse!
Donald Trump!

Mickey Mouse!
Forever watch medical insurance rates go
High, high, high. High!
Come along let’s blame Obama
And fight diversity!
D-O-N-A-L-D  T-R-you-M-P!
Yay Donald!
Yay Donald!
Yay Trumpeteers!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Launch of a New Novel

My latest mystery novel, Death of a Scam Artist, was released by Encircle Publications two weeks ago. In preparation I had a postcard produced that showed the cover of the book on one side with a blurb and relevant information on the address side. This was then mailed to my mailing list. I also have an email list and sent information about the book to people on this list. Upcoming events include signing at two book stores, a book fair at a senior living community and a presentation at a retirement home. This book features older characters, and my earlier six book Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series was well-received by older readers.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Independent Book Stores

Let’s hear it for independent book stores. As a writer and reader, I’m glad to have an independent book store near where I live.

When a new book comes out, I hold a signing and give a presentation at Gatsby Books 5535 E. Spring St., Long Beach CA. For my recently released mystery novel, Death of a Scam Artist, this will take place at 3 PM on Sunday September 10, 2017.

At these types of events, I always enjoy seeing familiar faces and meeting new people.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

The World Situation

In high school, one of my favorite singing groups was the Kingston Trio. Here's an updated version of words for their song, The Merry Minuet:

They're rioting in Charlottesville
There’s strife in Iraq
There's fake news in Washington
And immigrants are sent back
The whole world is festering with unbridled hate
Republicans hate Democrats, Liberals hate the Right
Arabs hate Israelis, Shiites hate Sunnis
And the President Tweets all night

But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud
For man's been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud
And we know for certain that some lovely day
Some lunatic will set the spark off
And we will all be blown away

They're missiles in North Korea
There's a nuclear threat in Iran
What global warming doesn't do to us
Will be done by our fellow man

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I've Got the DTs

My hands are a shakin’

My head is a bakin’

I’ve got the DTs


News is a fakin’

Lies are escalatin’

I’ve got the DTs


Russia is a chucklin’

Confidence is a bucklin’

I’ve got the DTs


Climate is a heatin’

Civility is retreatin’

I’ve got the DTs


Politicians are a bickerin’

Other nations are a snickerin’

I’ve got the DTs


North Korea is bombastin’

Peace may not be lastin’

I’ve got the DTs


Medical insurance is implodin’

Blame is explodin’

I’ve got the DTs


Walls are fabricatin’

Foreigners are extricatin’

I’ve got the DTs


Hate is aboundin’

Statements are astoundin’

I’ve got the DTs

Author Transition Week

This is a transition week for me. My current novel, The Tesla Legacy, has been out since February. I gave a library talk about it yesterday and have another one on Saturday.

The transition. Next week my mystery novel, Death of a Scam Artist, is being released by my publisher. Whenever a new book comes out, I develop a new presentation to give. So rather than practicing my speech for The Tesla Legacy, next week I’ll start rehearsing for my presentation on Death of a Scam Artist.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Writing and Editing

As a writer, I invest time and energy in both writing and editing. By editing, I mean my self-editing before it gets in the hands of the external editors at the publisher. Some writers edit as they go. Others edit after a rough draft is completed.

My own process is to write a fast first draft. I want to get the plot, characters and setting down in words. Then I go through many editing passes to clean up inconsistencies, improve the flow of the manuscript, fix errors and correct grammar.

The fascinating aspect of the writing process is that there is no one or correct way of doing it. We each find what works for us.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Adventures with Appliance Service

When you have a problem with an appliance such as an air conditioning unit, do you ever groan at what you’re about to go through? For me, I’ve learned to accept that it will take a good portion of my time, numerous phone calls and the hope that things will end up better.

One example. Our A/C  has gone out twice in the last two weeks. Of course both times it was on a Sunday afternoon when the answering service took the call. Come Monday morning I had to call again and get in the queue for service. The first time parts had to be ordered (3 to 5 day delivery time). Fortunately, the company loaned us a portable unit for our bedroom so we had some relief. After the same symptoms appeared, a crew showed up and hopefully the problem has been solved.

Second example. We have an internet, phone and TV bundle. When our two year contract ran out, I called to make changes. I asked the person to email me a confirmation. Never received. A month later I called again and left a message. No response. When the contract period ended with no change other than our rate going up, I called again. No record of the changes agreed to. This service person put the changes in place and gave me a confirmation number. One thing never mentioned by the person I talked to earlier: a service person needed to make changes in our house. Now we get to wait two weeks for that. Oh well. Maybe it will actually get changed.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Anticipation of a New Novel Being Published

Each time one of my new books comes out, I eagerly await the release date. This is equally true for Death of a Scam Artist, which will be published August 15, as with my previous thirteen books.

In Death of a Scam Artist, a financial hatchet man who dislikes old people, accepts the job of turning around a failing retirement home and undergoes a life-transforming experience in the world of geezers and geezerettes. He must deal with a suspicious death, a scam, a hit man, an unexpected romance and retired magician Jerry Rhine and his five whacky sidekicks known as the Jerry-atrics. He faces the most important decision of his life when he uncovers the secret behind an unusual murder.

Death of a Scam Artist (ISBN 978-1-893035-38-7), is available for pre-order from Amazon  Kindle  and Nook   

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Older Characters in Mystery Novels

As a mystery writer, I enjoy writing about older characters. They can appear innocuous, but by being observant. they can solve a mystery and surprise the bad guys. In my six book Paul Jacobson Geezaer-lit Mystery Series the protagonist is in his mid-eighties and suffers from short-term memory loss, yet he becomes an amateur sleuth.

My next mystery novel, which will be published in August, features a whole new cast of characters. The protagonist is in his early forties, but he has a life-transforming experience with a group of older characters who live in a retirement home. For more information about this book, Death of a Scam Artist, check my website The e-book edition is available for preorder at

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Geezer-lit Mysteries

Many of my published books are geezer-lit mysteries. For those of you unfamiliar with the sub-genre, these are mystery novels that feature older characters. For many years at mystery conferences such as The Left Coast Crime Conference, Bouchercon and Malice Domestic, I wore my geezer-lit mysteries straw hat. In the last two years, I’ve set it aside because I have published paranormal, historical, theater and sports mysteries as well as a thriller and a non-fiction biography of a World War II veteran.

But I need to dust off my geezer-lit mystery straw hat because my next book coming out in August is a geezer-lit mystery with a whole new cast of characters. The protagonist is in his forties, but the novel takes place in a retirement home, and many quirky older characters play key roles. More to come. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I’ve Become a Connoisseur of Trucks

What we notice and don’t notice can be affected by things in our personal lives. I never noticed pregnant women until my wife was pregnant, and suddenly I saw them everywhere.

Now I’ve become a connoisseur of trucks. How did this happen? Our almost-two-year-old grandson loves trucks. When he and I walk down the street to go to the park, he starts hooting whenever he sees a garbage truck, street sweeper, mail truck, UPS truck, Fed Ex truck or moving van. When we drive somewhere in the car and he’s in the backseat in his car seat, we shout out whenever we see a tanker truck, cargo truck or any other variety. I didn’t used to pay attention to trucks but now even when my wife and I are the only ones in the car we still call out when we see a truck.

And the most popular books that our grandson likes to have read to him. Yup, books about trucks. And my wife does sticker books with him. Most exciting stickers: trucks.

So I’ve gone from being a truck agnostic to becoming a truck connoisseur.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Audio Books

I love audio books. Whenever I’m in the car alone, I listen to an audio book. Some people find listening to an audio book in a car distracting, but I find it has a good effect on me. I relax and pay attention to the road while listening to a story. I’ve found that I’m a calmer driver when listening to an audio book. If there is a delay, I don’t get uptight because I can listen to more of the story.

As a writer, I’m delighted that my books come out in so many different formats including normal print, large print, e-book and audio book formats. Six of my thirteen published books are now available as audio books.

So writers keep writing, and readers keep reading (and listening).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Summer Fun

Summer is upon us. We returned this week from a trip to Honolulu for my 55th high school reunion. We had a great time getting together with old friends, the operative word being “old.” Then at the end of this week, we have friends visiting from Colorado. These are our young friends, and we plan to go to Disneyland, California Adventure and the beach. Another activity in Lakewood, CA, where we live, is a series of weekly concerts in the park.

Then in October we plan to visit our son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons in Iowa City.
On the writing front, my geezer-lit mystery, Death of a Scam Artist, is scheduled for publication in August. This introduces a whole new set of quirky characters who live in a retirement home. Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Writers: Build a Portfolio of Manuscripts

One piece of advice I give to new writers is once you’ve finished your first manuscript, keep editing it but also start writing your next book. When you complete this one, write the next. It’s important to keep improving a manuscript, but it is equally important to write more.

Authors rarely publish their first book. From my own experience and hearing other author’s accounts, I would say it averages approximately the fourth manuscript. Writing takes lots of practice. One author stated that you need to write a million words to learn the craft. I have written over a million words, and I’m still learning.

Another advantage of writing more books: you can build a portfolio of manuscripts. In today’s world of numerous publishing options including large publishers (requiring an agent), small and medium-sized publishers who will accept submissions directly from the author and self-publishing, if you have a portfolio of manuscripts, you can choose the best path for a particular book.

Although I have thirteen published books and one more due out in August, I have a number of other manuscripts I’m tuning and will be getting published in the future.

What I’ve learned about writing can be summarized in two rules:

  1. Start writing
  2. Keep writing

Thursday, June 1, 2017

High School Reunions

Do you go to high school reunions? I went to my 25th and since my 40th I’ve gone every five year. This year is my 55th and I’ll be attending. My wife has gotten to know my classmates and she will join me. It helps that it’s in Honolulu.

One of the events at the reunion is an Alumni Art and Literary Show so I’ll be signing books there. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends, operative word being old.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Reading Preferences and Alternative Publishing Formats

In what form do you like to read a book? Fifty years ago this meant print or print. Today we have a variety of options including print, audio and e-book. Within print, there are hardcover, trade paperback and mass market paperback. As an author, I have books published in all of these formats. As a reader, I prefer print and audio. Since I spend time on the computer writing and on a smart phone communicating, when I have a chance to read at home, I like curling up with a print edition to read. When I’m in the car by myself, I always listen to an audio book.

When e-books first arrived on the scene, they were preferred by younger readers. But e-books are now popular among all age groups because they are very handy when traveling, and for older people with diminished eyesight, the font can be enlarged. I will read books in electronic format when I am reviewing, judging a contest or editing, but my preference for home reading is still print.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Author Events at Libraries

Since moving to Southern California two years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to do a number of library events including Cerritos Library’s Mystery on the Menu luncheon, an author open house at the El Segundo Library, the re-opening of the Glendale Library, and presentations at the Iacoboni Library in Lakewood, Friends of the Costa Mesa Library and the library at Leisure World.

I will be speaking again at the Iacoboni Library, 4990 Clark Avenue, Lakewood, CA, on Monday, June 5 at 6:30 pm. This will be a book talk about my international thriller,. The Tesla Legacy. In this novel, retired mathematics professor and conspiracy nut, Elmore Kranz, bombards the police with his predictions of disaster until one of them actually happens. Even with the assistance of his one ally, rookie cop Brittney Chase, people start dying around Elmore as attempts are made on his life. Following up on inventions from eccentric genius, Nikola Tesla, Elmore and Brittney team up to solve a hundred year old puzzle while trying to thwart a secret government agency and an Afghani terrorist group who seek to get their hands on a weapon of mass destruction invented by Tesla.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Importance of Libraries

I love libraries. Since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed going to the library. I recently read a book about Dewey, the library cat in a town in Iowa and how he brought the town together. I’ve been taking my 21-month-old grandson to children’s library programs at two libraries in Lakewood, CA. He listens to stories and songs and plays with toys there. It’s become a fun part of our time together to do this. As a writer, I have participated in a number of programs at libraries including panels and book talks. Libraries are a vital part of our communities and deserve our support.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Right Age to Start Writing

On Monday, I was on an author’s panel at the reopening of the Glendale Library. I also listened to two other panels. Something that struck me about the other authors’ comments—a number of them had started writing at about eight years old.

Thinking back over my own writing career, my path was different. Sure, I guess you could say my first published work was a story in second grade titled, “The Hurt Bird,” that Mrs. Russell printed on a mimeograph sheet, but my serious decision to write began in 2001 and my first published short story, “Never Trust a Poison Dart Frog,” appeared in an anthology called, Who Died in Here? in 2004 and my first novel, Retirement Homes Are Murder, in 2007 when I was sixty-two. By then I had some life experiences to apply to fiction writing.
There is no right or wrong time to start writing. The important thing is to start and keep writing

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Writing at Any Age

I didn’t start writing until I was fifty-six years old. When I lived in Colorado, I mentored a middle school student who was working on his first novel. We all have our individual paths to writing. For me, the timing was right as I approached retirement to dedicate myself to something I could retire into.

This last Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Morrie Markoff had a booth and signed his book, Keep Breathing. With the hundreds of authors signing at the festival, what set Morrie apart was that he published his first book at the age of 103. He’s an inspiration and a model that we can begin writing at any age.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Presentation for The Tesla Legacy

Whenever I have a book published, I put together a new presentation to give at events and signings. With the recent release of my international thriller, The Tesla Legacy, I have developed a speech about the genius inventor, Nikola Tesla, whose inventions play a key role in the novel. Tesla was a fascinating dichotomy. He was a pacifist who invented weapons, invented things in his mind without a blueprint but held strange ideas about transmissions from Mars and eugenics, was brilliant at inventing but poor at business, was a cleanliness nut but kept pigeons in his hotel room and was on the autism spectrum with his strange quirks, one of which was doing things in multiples of three and staying in hotel rooms that were divisible by three.

I will be presenting and signing The Tesla Legacy at Mystery Ink, 8907 Warner Avenue #135, Huntington  Beach, CA, on Saturday, April 29, 2017, at 3 PM, and at Gatsby Books, 5535 E. Spring Street, Long Beach, CA, on Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 3 PM.

Picture a retired mathematics professor and conspiracy nut with a butt-kicking, surrogate-daughter sidekick. Elmore Kranz bombards the police with his predictions of disaster until one of them actually happens, to the point that he’s implicated in the plot. Even with the assistance of his one ally, rookie cop Brittney Chase, people start dying around Elmore as attempts are made on his life. Following up on inventions from eccentric genius, Nikola Tesla, Elmore and Brittney team up to solve a hundred year old puzzle while trying to thwart a secret government agency and an Afghani terrorist group who seek to get their hands on a doomsday weapon.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Inventing Games

As a writer, I’m interested in the creative process. As a grandfather, I enjoy watching my twenty-month-old grandson invent games.

At his young age, he’s constantly trying new things and showing how early the creative process comes into play. Once he masters a new skill, he likes to add a new twist to challenge himself. Here are some examples:

Now that he can walk, he no longer confines himself to a smooth path. Instead, he walks on the curb adjoining the nature trail to see if he can balance on it.

At the playground he has learned to go down the slides. Now he has invented a game where he takes a stick, leaf or toy up the steps with him and sends them down the slide before he slides down.

On the swing at the playground, he enjoys being pushed but now wants to go into the swing holding a ball. He then throws the ball to me while swinging and catches it when I toss it back.

At the playground there are four metal picnic tables, end to end. He has turned this into a race track where he pushed his toy car around on the seats of the picnic tables.

When we play with plastic blocks, instead of carrying them from one place to another in his hand, he uses a long plastic spoon to balance the blocks.

He loves jars and cans. He will fill up a can with pegs and dump the can into another can, and then dump the contents back into the original can.

Each time we get together, I can’t wait to see what he invents.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reversion of Rights

I have six published books in my Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series. Print rights have reverted to me for five of these books, with one more in December of this year. One of these has already been published as a trade paperback and I will be working with another publisher on getting the others back in print.

This all came about because my previous publisher, Five Star, decided to exit the mystery book publishing business. With rights being reverted, I now can take the necessary steps to keep the books in print.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Sharing Toys

Several days ago my twenty-month-old grandson was playing at the park with two other little boys. They had all brought sand toys along. Each was playing with someone else’s toys. The other kid’s toys are always more intriguing than your own.

The good news is that he’s learning to share. He still grabs things away at times but now is more apt to let someone else use one of his toys while he plays with the other kid’s toys. I guess it’s all part of the civilizing process—at least until you get into politics.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Left Coast Crime Conference

I had the opportunity to participate in the Left Coast Crime Conference in Honolulu last week. This gathering of mystery fans and mystery writers is one of the highlights of my writing year. I get to meet other mystery authors and fans and chat with old friends.

One of the events I enjoyed was Author Speed Dating. We teamed up with another author and gave two-minute pitches to sixteen tables of readers. Robert Downs and I were a team. By the end we could give each others’ speeches. Here’s Robert in action.

I was also on a panel about heroes and villains with Colin Cotterill, Susanna Calkins, Augie Hicks and Penny Warner. We had a lively discussion on villainous heroes and heroic villains.

I enjoyed introducing thirteen new authors at the Meet the New Author Breakfast and even had a chance to get in an ocean swim and visit the three outdoor pools at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Great event and kudos to Lucinda Surber, Stan Ulrich and Gay Gale for a well-run conference.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Meet the New Authors Breakfast at the Left Coast Crime Conference

Kicking off Thursday, March 16, 2017, is the Left Coast Crime Conference in Honolulu. This conference is held annually in February or March in different cities in the western part of the United States. It provides an opportunity for mystery fans and mystery writers to mingle, attend panels and share their love of the mystery genre.

I have the opportunity to moderate the Meet the New Authors Breakfast at this conference. This year we have thirteen new authors to introduce to the fans. These are writers who have published their first mystery/crime/suspense/thriller novel within the last year.
This is the tenth year of holding this event at the conference, the first being in Denver in 2008. We have had anywhere from twelve to forty-four new authors in attendance. Each of the new authors gives a short presentation on the most important thing readers should know about their debut novel. The new authors shore their enthusiasm of being published, and the fans have a chance to meet these authors who now have launched their mystery writing careers.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fake News

I have listened to the President deride fake news, but it seems he is one of the major perpetrators of fake news. I find this a very disturbing trend. Politicians lie, but the big lie seems to be taken to a new level within the United States from birther, to thousands of Muslims cheering 9/11, to illegal votes, to Obama wiretapping. I want to believe in the integrity of the Office of the President, but I find it difficult when these types of statements come out of the President’s mouth or his twitter feed and then his surrogates attempt to explain them away.

As a mystery and thriller writer, I am aware of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. When no proof it given I am suspicious. If proof to these claims is provided, I am willing to admit my mistake, but up to this point these claims all fall within the realm of fake news.
I am currently reading I Am Malala. She spoke out when lies were told about educating girls in Pakistan. I have held my tongue, giving our new President time to set his agenda, but his statements are becoming more and more detrimental. He doesn’t admit a mistake but instead doubles down when caught stating fake news. We need a role model for our children and grandchildren in our leader, and I find his statements go against the values children should be taught and seen modeled by important adults.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Writing Multiple Genres

As a writer, most of my published novels have been mysteries. Even within this genre, I have pursued multiple sub-genres including geezer-lit, paranormal, historical, theater and sports mysteries.

Why do this? I have many interests and become intrigued by different stories. My six-book Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series features an octogenarian protagonist with short-term memory loss who becomes an amateur sleuth. I enjoy writing about older characters who can display the wisdom they have accumulated over their years. I wanted to try something different and then wrote two paranormal mysteries. My family has been involved in theater, so I had to write a theater mystery. While hiking on what was once the railroad bed of the Switzerland Trail railroad in Colorado, I was inspired to set a historical mystery on this railroad. I love playing racquet and paddle sports, so I wrote a mystery about platform tennis, one of the sports I have played.

I also wrote a non-fiction book that was the result of meeting a World War II veteran four years ago. His story just had to be told.

My most recent book is an international thriller, The Tesla Legacy. I have always enjoyed reading thrillers and wanted to craft my own. I was inspired by the fascinating historical figure, Nikola Tesla, and wondered what if he had hidden plans for a destructive invention and the wrong types of people tried to get their hands on this invention.

What’s next? Coming out later this year is a new geezer-lit mystery with a different cast of characters. The protagonist is a forty-something financial guy who takes over a struggling retirement home to turn it around. He dislikes old people, animals and kids and has a life transforming experience in the world of geezers and geezerettes when a dead body turns up in the loading dock of the retirement home. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Tesla Legacy, An International Thriller

If you have never read about Nikola Tesla, you're missing a fascinating inventor. I became intrigued with him several years ago, and the result is a new  novel titled, The Tesla Legacy, An International Thriller (ISBN 978-0-692-84423-6), that will become available this month in print and e-book from Wooden Pants Publishing. e-book link is
Picture a retired mathematics professor and conspiracy nut with a butt-kicking, surrogate-daughter sidekick. Elmore Kranz bombards the police with his predictions of disaster until one of them actually happens, to the point that he’s implicated in the plot. Even with the assistance of his one ally, rookie cop Brittney Chase, people start dying around Elmore as attempts are made on his life. Following up on inventions from eccentric genius, Nikola Tesla, Elmore and Brittney team up to solve a hundred year old puzzle while trying to thwart a secret government agency and an Afghani terrorist group who seek to get their hands on a doomsday weapon.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Tough Guy Face

My eighteen-month-old grandson has very expressive facial features. Most of the time he is a happy guy, but once in a while he will let us know when he is displeased. He doesn’t hold back whether happy or unhappy.

But there is one facial expression that always makes me laugh. I refer to it as his tough guy face. He scrunches up his nose like a tough guy in a TV show. He may not be all that tough, but he knows how to disarm me.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Left Coast Crime Conference 2017

In March, one of my favorite conferences takes place—The Left Coast Crime Conference. This year it’s in Honolulu, so darn, I have to force myself to go back to where I grew up. This conference features mystery writers and fans and is an action-packed four days of catching up with old friends and making new ones.

I have the pleasure of being on a panel titled, Favorite Heroes and Villains: Why Do We Remember Them, which will be moderated by Penny Warner and include other panelists Susanna Calkins, Colin Cotterill and Augie Hicks. With this great group of authors we’ll have a lively discussion.
I’ll also be moderating the Meet the New Authors Breakfast. This is an opportunity to introduce authors who have published their first mystery/crime/suspense/thriller novel within the last year. Each of the new authors will describe to the fans at the conference the most important thing to know about their debut novel.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Friends and Strangers

Our eighteen-month-old grandson has an opportunity to meet people at the park, library and other places we go. Some are people he knows and some are strangers. I enjoy watching his reaction to other people.

People he knows he greets with a smile. When there is a stranger, he tends to stay close to me and watch for a while. I sense he is assessing the person and situation. Nothing wrong with this in our day and age. Unfortunately, little kids have to be cautious about strangers.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Testing Limits with a Smile

One thing little kids are good at is testing limits. I’ve watched this with my eighteen-month-old grandson.

There are some that are non-negotiable, such as holding Grandpa’s hand while crossing a street. Of course, when he gets older this will change, but for now this is the rule.

Our grandson is very good at trying to negotiate less critical limits. As an example, I have a bookshelf in my home office that he can reach. He loves pulling out books, which I have asked him not to do. His response—he gives me a big smile and keeps doing it. I will say in a loud, authoritative voice, “No!” He grins and pulls out another book. He knows this technique is more effective than throwing a tantrum. We usually reach a compromise of leaving my books alone and giving him a pickleball to play with instead.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Being Alone versus Socializing

While observing my eighteen-month-old grandson, I keep learning interesting lessons. Today’s deals with being alone versus socializing.

He now enjoys playing with toys by himself at times. Still, he doesn’t like being left completely alone. His ideal is having time to himself with my wife or me close by. This way he can decide what he wants to do, but has someone to check in with periodically. Then when he’s ready to interact with us, he comes over to indicate he wants a book read to him or would like to build blocks together.
I can identify. I like time to myself but also enjoy socializing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Grandson Lessons – Playing with Cars

Boys and their cars. My seventeen-month-old grandson loves playing with his toy cars. We have a corner of the kitchen where we keep his collection of fifteen toy cars lined up. When he comes over to visit, in addition to books, blocks and empty bottles, cars are on his priority list of items to play with.

But it isn’t just pushing the cars and carrying them around that interests him. There is a step between the kitchen area and the living room. What is more fun that sending the cars careening over the step as if going off a cliff.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Grandson Lessons - The Best Toys

Some people relish expensive toys—cars, boats, airplanes. Kids sometimes buy into the same paradigm by asking for expensive games and toys. I’ve learned from my seventeen-month-old grandson, that you can have just as much fun with an inexpensive toy.

He has an ample supply of toy cars, trucks and airplanes. We have a corner of the kitchen with his collection of cars that he plays with. But another toy location is a cabinet where we keep empty plastic bottles and containers. He entertains himself by taking bottle tops off and putting them back on, carrying an old jar around with him and putting things inside and dumping them out. Kind of like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh with his useful jar to put things in. Our grandson will often abandon the more expensive toys for the simple joy of playing with the bottles and containers.