•March 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment

https___blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com_uploads_card_image_739970_f60a6eab-52e7-4ea7-be5c-9e12a84121c4Over 135 short-finned pilot whales died after standing on a beach south of Perth, Australia this week. Read more about the event HERE.

It’s real-world tragedies such as this that were some of the inspiration for events in my first novel, Wendall’s Lullaby –even though mass strandings of bottlenose dolphins are very rare. Part of me wanted to make the fictional tragedy something to which more people could relate–since bottlenose dolphins are perhaps (due to television, movies and dolphinariums) the cetacean species most recognizable to humans.

COVER COMPLETE WENDALL'S LULLABY 2In Wendall’s Lullaby, hundreds of dolphins beach themselves in Galveston, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia and on an island off the coast of Mozambique. The characters know that these events are more than unusual. And even with the possible cause of the mass strandings of other species only being discovered 50% of the time or less, Dr. Angela Clarke and the other scientists in my novel must press on to determine the cause–especially when more dolphins mass and start showing pre-stranding behavior in the waters of Tampa Bay, Florida.

Unravel the mystery by reading my first novel!

DR. MENKE: Marine Mammal Veterinarian in Wendall’s Lullaby

•March 5, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Minke_Whale_(NOAA)Dr. Aldo Menke is one of the main characters in my novel Wendall’s Lullaby. I derived his name from the minke whale–the second smallest of the baleen whales. He is a veterinarian that specializes in the care and rehabilitation of marine mammals–especially bottlenose dolphins.

Here is an excerpt about Dr. Menke from Wendall’s Lullaby:

MARINE MAMMAL VETFollowing his return to the US in 1971, Menke opted to stay in the Army, but instead of requesting the opportunity to attend medical school, he decided to attend veterinary school at the University of California–Davis. His Navy friend Collins worked a deal to have him assigned as an intern/assistant to the Army veterinarians who supervised the care of the dolphins, belugas, and sea lions in the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program (NMMP). Collins also made sure that Menke had the transportation to make the long trip at least once a week. Upon graduation, he joined the NMMP vet team full-time. Within five years, he was the head veterinarian. Over the course of more than 20 years, he managed captive breeding programs, assisted with, and lead, a variety of research projects, got to know several hundred dolphins and sea lions, met a number of SEALs and managed the transition to exclusive, marine mammal specific special operations teams (MSOTs).

How did Dr. Menke become involved in the political intrigue and conspiracies in Wendall’s Lullaby? Well you’ll just have to read my novel to find out.

Is it writer’s block or just a pause???

•February 20, 2018 • 1 Comment

While I do have a general outline fleshed out for my sequel to Wendall’s Lullaby, much of the writing I do is organic–it flows and develops and changes as I progress. Small (and sometimes large) parts of the plot change. Characters change. Often I will write like a demon until the words and ideas dry up–full stop. And while I have the outline I can use as a guide to continue, I don’t have the creative energy to catalyze the needed action.

My typical response is to choose from one (or …in a few of) of these methods to revitalize that energy:

  1. Caffeine–strong black coffee or a Celsius energy drink
  2. A Nap–a great way to reset and start fresh. Wow! It’s like a new day! (sometimes assisted by caffeine)
  3. Binge watch movies or TV series
  4. Read–pick up someone else’s book and disappear into the narrative world
  5. Research a topic that might be a little thin in the current work
  6. Exercise more–paddling my surfski, running, strength training or mountain biking
  7. Print and Edit–if I have enough of a work completed, I print out a hard copy and start editing.

book and manuscript on the beachWhile these strategies are often stacked together to help stimulate my creativity, the method I’m focusing on at the moment is Print and Edit. With 44,000 words already written for my sequel to Wendall’s Lullaby, I had plenty to work on–and that’s what I’ve been editing to get back in touch with my fire. I’m tightening things up a little, making a few better word choices, reconciling some inconsistencies that have developed and noting a place or two to work in a new plot element. I’ve even eliminated a character.

I’ve got another hour or so of editing to complete. Once I’m there I’ll go back to the computer and make the changes–including weaving in the new elements. With the clarity editing brings I’ll be charged up and ready to pick up where I paused–with word #44,252–and to get back to the story.


REALIZATION: I’ve ALWAYS Been an Independent Publisher

•February 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment


I wrote and illustrated my first books in second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Cook was kind enough to provide me with the tools–crayons and colored construction paper–and allow me to indulge my creativity.

fleagle eraserLike many kids in my class, I had a cast of rubber pencil erasers shaped like animals or dinosaurs that lived in the old cigar box in my desk. The box was supposed to neatly hold crayons, pens and pencils–but most of us fashioned them into homes complete with little pieces of furniture. One of my residents was an eraser in the visage of “Fleagle”–a character from the Banana Splits kids TV show. I don’t remember the content of my story–but I do remember tracing the outline of the pencil eraser to create the illustrations. I also remember binding the story pages and a cover together with yarn woven through holes in the book’s “spine.”

I didn’t exactly mass-produce this book. It was a one-off. So I’m not sure if it actually counts as “publishing.” But in my mind, it certainly seems to be the nascent beginning of  a trend.


While I know I continued to write, draw and create throughout elementary school (I remember creating stories for a character I drew called Mickey the Martian), it wasn’t until eighth grade that I started to take self-publishing to the next level. Enter, Super Wid.

superwid original coverSuper Wid was dreamed up in my eighth grade English class–partially to joke with a friend and partially to do something creatively beyond what we were doing in our lessons. The “joke” of the original Mr. Wid morphed into a superhero who often dispatched the evil doers with a tremendous sneeze from his enormous and bulbous nose. The first full comic book (including Super Wid’s Chuck Miller-drawn sidekick, Scot the dog) came late in the school year–nostalgically, another one-off bound with yarn.

After seeing how this one-off “book” got passed from friend to friend for humorous reading, I thought it might be worthwhile to put that original Super Wid story, an additional story and a few other items into a better format for “mass-distribution.” At the time, photocopiers were still mainly in professional or business offices and typically over-protected by office managers. Still, my assistant illustrator (Chuck) managed to get his father to photocopy our new comic book so we could “sell” a dozen or so copies and friends could have them to keep.

That is how Super Wid was self-published for a few years–until my senior year in high school. I was lucky enough to have a practical class that year–Graphic Arts. In the class we learned everything from hand-cut silk screening to how to operate an offset printing press. Of course, one of my first creations was a limited run of Super Wid T-shirts. But my real goal was the creation of a real, printed comic book. It was an education in the printing process–from the creation of the originals and dummy pages to photographing the plates and operating the finicky school printing press.

That final creative product of my high school career was true mass-production and true independent printing. I controlled the process from creation to distribution. Sure, I had a kid’s dream of Super Wid being published by some mainstream comic book company or being picked up by a newspaper as a comic strip. But after graduation I never really worked to take the comic to the next level. My interests changed and my creativity went in another direction.


COVER PAPERBACK 6 X 9With Wendall’s Lullaby, my first novel, I also ended up tapping into these past inclinations and going the self-publishing route. It wasn’t my original intention when I started writing the book sometime in 2007. I shopped the idea to agents and publishers and got many, many rejections. I also had some interest–including a few agents who asked for the first 50 pages. But they never went beyond that and I dropped even finishing the book for a variety of the typical “life-happened” excuses.

When I picked the book up again in the summer of 2017 it was with a fever to get it done and out to the world–partly because it was 98% finished, but mainly because I felt I couldn’t pursue other the book ideas swirling around in my head until that project was complete. And complete meant available to the public for sale. So with the help of Kindle Direct Publishing it became available as an eBook on August 4–and four days later as a print-on-demand paperback.

Now, as I write the sequel to Wendall’s Lullaby and contemplate my future book projects, I’m thinking hard about my self-publishing history and the route I want to take with these works–knowing a deeply-rooted part of me relishes having almost total creative control, but also knowing that my ego and my wallet would sure love to have my work printed, distributed and promoted by a real publisher.

DR. ROBIN NICELY: South African dolphin biologist and paddler

•February 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

south-africa-1        A perennial contender in the South African Surf Ski Series, Robin Nicely was serious about racing the long, narrow, sit-on-top kayaks that had evolved from the wider and more stable craft used by Australian and South African lifeguards. Typically, he was on the water six days a week, in the gym strength training for two days a week, and, when his other commitments didn’t get in the way, running or cycling a few times as well. The unexpected phone call from Vee was just one of those other commitments.



Ten minutes later, Robin was back. David had tied down the boats and settled into his beach chair and a discreetly held Carling Black Label—watching the last flickers of the sunset battling with the black.

Robin grabbed the can of beer and swallowed what was left. “Get up! Bloody dolphins beaching on Bazarutu.” He crushed the can and threw it at David.

“Mozambique? Can’t their people handle…?”

“I don’t even know if I can handle it.” In addition to being a competitive long-distance ocean paddler, Dr. Robin Nicely was a world-renowned marine mammologist, the assistant director of Plettenberg Bay’s Dolphin Study Centre and founder of the Pan-African Marine Mammal Stranding Network—the organization responsible for investigating the beachings of whales and dolphins for most of the continent.

David folded his chair and tossed it in the back seat. “How many, brah?”

beached-whales 2           Shivering in his wet rash guard, Robin peeled off the skin-tight top—revealing a faded tattoo of a dolphin leaping over a kayak on the right side of his upper back. After pulling on a pilly, gray fleece, he looked at David and kicked a clump of sand. “Fuck!” Robin closed his eyes and ran his fingers through the salt and pepper crew cut stubble on his head. “Vee says at least 300.”

Learn more about this character and the others that play a major role in my epic novel, by reading Wendall’s Lullaby.

MEET A CHARACTER: Jasmine Summers in Wendall’s Lullaby

•February 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment

1280px-Hurricane_Isabel_from_ISSIt was October of 2003 and Road Town had suffered a near miss from Hurricane Bee–near enough that most of the coastal resorts were shut down for major repairs, but miss enough that there was only one human death on the island.

While her 50-foot sailboat My Calypso was secured at a local marina, Jasmine weathered the storm in a tastefully decorated bungalow on Cappoons Bay. She woke up well after the storm had passed—courtesy of multiple glasses of a special punch at the Bomba Shack’s pre-hurricane blow-out. Back on My Calypso, with a big mug of freshly brewed Ethiopian coffee in hand, she rang Dolphin Cay—the next stop on her most recent “cruise of self-discovery.”

One of the few major hurricane casualties had been the waterfront Tortola Inn and its swim-with-the-dolphins program—Dolphin Cay. The tanks and lagoons were intact and the dolphins, safe, but the supporting infrastructure was devastated—no electricity, no pumps, no filters. When Jasmine heard the news—no dolphin programs for the foreseeable future—she was devastated. But, instead of just moving on—drifting with the tide or blowing with the wind with no particular plan—Jasmine had an idea that lit her up inside and kept her from sailing.

Despite the hurricane damage and typical “island time” delays, Jasmine was able to call in immediate help from the US—industrial pumps, filters and generators arriving within 24 hours. The Road Town locals were astonished at the efficiency of what looked like a typical lazy-ass, drifting, dreadlocked American hippie. Jasmine had always embraced the passion and free spirit that was such an obvious part of her life—now, she embraced the trust fund and powerful connections that she had worked so hard to hide.

book page with NEW AGE DOLPHINS           Even with Jasmine’s airlift and donation of materials, the real estate group that owned the Tortola Inn and Dolphin Cay couldn’t afford to keep the dolphins on-site and rebuild the resort. Cash was short and they had already started to put out feelers to aquariums and other “swim-with” programs—“dolphins for sale.” After walking along the twisted deck of the damaged dolphin lagoon, dangling her feet in the water and feeling the energy move through her toes, up her legs and into her heart, Jasmine offered them another option.


East Beach, Galveston, Texas: An excerpt from WENDALL’S LULLABY

•February 5, 2018 • Leave a Comment

East Beach, Galveston, Texas

dolphin+resuceKurt had never seen a single stranding this large—even over several months. He stood at the edge of the massive dirt parking lot and looked from side to side. Bottlenose dolphins were strewn a half a mile up the beach in both directions—some with tails still moving, struggling to breathe, but obviously alive. More than half were clearly dead. Volunteers were keeping all the dolphins moist and covered, spreading sunscreen on the live ones and keeping gawkers back from the animals. People were everywhere, but there was little chaos other than a few gawkers shooting video and taking pictures. Just to the right, on the beach, stood Shari Casseine, gesturing and pointing in front of a group of seven people.

beached-whales 2          The group went trotting off to the right and Shari walked over to where her son Bryan was managing the blowhole of one of the dolphins—he was making sure the water used to keep its skin moist didn’t get sucked into its lungs. It was Bryan that first saw Kurt—it was hard to miss his lanky, six-foot four frame wrapped in a red Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TEXMAM) windbreaker and topped with a Cousteau-like, red wool cap. The boy tapped his mom to turn around.

Kurt waved her to him. Shari lumbered across the soft sand and met him at the parking lot.

“Wow.” He stared right into her bloodshot eyes.


READ MORE OF MY EPIC NOVELWendall’s Lullaby–by purchasing the ebook or paperback HERE.

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