Thursday, July 24, 2014


Author Q&A About "Short Stories from the Ash Grove."

My new book, "Short Stories from the Ash Grove" is available for sale online. As a result, I'm getting lots of questions about the book itself. This blog entry share some of the Q&A that I've had over the past week.

Q: How was writing this book different from your previous works? 

A: My other books are all non-fiction. This is my first fiction book, although many of the events that come up in the book and the stories that get told from my life are true. The other difference is that this book has been 30 years in the making. I’ve written many short stories over the years for high school and college courses but also for entry in the yearly contest conducted by the Springfield Writer’s Guild. In fact I’m working on a short story right now for that contest. I have probably 12 short stories that I have written that are not in this book because they didn’t fit with the theme. The whole idea came to me when a high school classmate asked me two years ago if I still had a copy of the short story I wrote and read to our Senior English class back in 1984. She was wanting a copy to read again. Not only did I have that story but I had others as well and made me start thinking about creating some sort of collection.

Q: Do you have plans to do a follow up or sequel of sorts to this? I am sure someone who has called this area home for a long, long time would have many more stories to write about and/or share. 

A: I have four stories outlined on paper that I would like to someday turn in to novels. I have the first chapters written for two of them. Those novels might begin as short stories. All four of them would be fiction but each one is centered around factual events that happened around Ash Grove. One focuses on family life and events taking place in and around a one-room school south of Ash Grove, for example. This past year by wife gave me a writing retreat for a Christmas gift to finish my collection of short stories. If she does that again (hint, hint) I would probably get started on one of these other novels. At some point, I would like to shop some of my story ideas to national publishers and one or two of these novels might work.

Q: When did it officially come out online/for publishing/bookshelves? 

A: I think the proof was approved on July 7, 2014 and made available online the next day. In finished the text back in April. This has been a three month process or so with some vetting and editing of the book by others and two rewrites by me before the book was finalized. The book is available for purchase on and It is also available to libraries and bookstores through Amazon’s wholesale program. But bookstores have to make the decision to stock it and there is a lot involved in that process and honestly, the process doesn’t favor small, local writers.

Q: What has the response and feedback been thus far? 

A: I’ve had a favorable response online and I would hope readers enjoy it. Some of it is personal but there is certainly nothing in it that is negative toward Ash Grove or my experience of growing up there. Right now it looks like I’ve sold about 320 copies. I assure you, I don’t get rich off the sale of the book but 320 was enough to move my book up in the online sales rankings making it the 100,032 most popular book on Amazon! My goal was to finish the book so it can now be available for many years. I’ll see what happens in the future.

Q: Did you use real names in this book?

I fictionalized all of the names in all but two of the stories. Some might say the names were changed to protect the innocent. The names of the guilty I kept. But honestly, this isn't a "tell all" type of book The writing style and story types vary widely and it is met to be a fun escape.

Q: And what did you enjoy most about writing this book? 

A: Parts of the book were a trip down memory lane. Good memories. I find story writing to be relaxing. But I think it can also be a calling. These stories were an opportunity to share about life and share some bigger thoughts about life in general. My favorite short story author, O. Henry, wrote about what he knew best: cowboys, the big city, and newspaper work. Likewise, I find myself writing about things that I know best: small town experiences, newspapers, church, and events in my own life. My hope is that readers enjoy this glimpse at life in Ash Grove from the perspective of one person.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


My collection of short stories is now printed

It has taken a while but my collection of short stories is now available for purchase on "Short Stories from the Ash Grove" includes 16 short stories based on the people, places and events of my childhood in Ash Grove, Mo.

Here is one small example from the book and my story, "An Auction with Grandpa."

One hundred fifty dollar bid, now one sixty, now one sixty, who will give me one sixty. No one? Then one fifty going once, goin' twice. Sold! What's your number," barked the auctioneer.
"Forty-six," said the voice from the rear of the crowd.
"Got yourself that lawnmower," said the auctioneer.
The auctioneer circulated among hundreds of items sitting on a series of tables spread out on the dying bluegrass in the front yard of the white farmhouse. His cowboy hat was perched on top of his head, tilted slightly, and his red and white-checkered shirt was untucked in the back. His belly caused the shirt to overlap his belt in front. His worn, weathered and scratched boots carried with them the strong scent of cow manure.
The booming voice of the auctioneer could easily be heard across the yard. For an average to small-sized person, such a big voice would seem out of place. But, for this auctioneer, the voice seemed a perfect fit: a big voice for a big man, nearly six-foot tall and almost as wide. From this vantage point I can easily make out the rough texture of his weathered facial skin and his large, hooked nose, scarred from sunburns. Too many auctions under the powerful afternoon rays of the Ozark's sun have taken a toll. The same scarring can be seen on the lobes of his large ears and on his sturdy, doubled neck.
"One fifty for that mower is a good buy," said my grandpa as we moved among the items for sale. Grandpa is a young 82 years old. Although some people say he is an antique, to me he is just grandpa. He has been farming since he was old enough to help his father and brothers but the years of hard work are beginning to take their toll. "When your my age your either tryin' to remember someone's name or lookin' for a place to go to the bathroom," he often jokes.
Since cattle prices have fallen the past few years, and the price of things necessary to run a farm have gone up, these farm auctions have become common. We followed the crowd along while the auctioneer continued his unmistakable chant in the background. I enjoy standing and listening as the unmistakable auctioneer’s chant leaps from mouth of the auctioneer and lures me in to spending money with its sing-songy rhythm.
"Who'll give me a hundred dollars? One hundred dollar bid, now two, now two, will ya give me two? Two hundred dollar bid, now three, now three hundred, will ya give me three? Two hundred, two and a half, two-fifty, How about two-fifty? Fifty? Fifty? Fifty? I got it! How about two sixty? Sixty? Sixty? I've got two sixty, now seventy? How about seventy? Two-seventy? Anyone? Going one, going twice. Sold! Two-hundred sixty for the antique and attachment. Happy mowing! What’s your number?
Fifty-five said a man standing behind us. Then the auctioneer held up a box. "Folks, we've got everything in this box here, even a couple of pans for making cornbread sticks. Don’t make ‘em like this anymore! Now who’ll five me ten dollars?”
I leaned over to my right and asked my grandpa, "How was that cornbread you fixed two weeks ago?" I couldn’t hide my sheepish grin.
"What! Who told you?" said my grandpa just loud enough that I could hear him over the auctioneer’s booming voice.
"Grandma told me about the green cornbread you made the other night."
"Well, I wanted a little cornbread and milk. It was fine, nothing wrong with it."
"Grandpa! It was green because you used baking soda in it. It had to taste bad. Maybe as bad as that raisin sauce you made last summer. Remember when you had that five gallon crock full of raisin sauce in the refrigerator and it set up like cement?"
"I didn't realize raisins swelled up. I've made some since that were fine," grandpa said defensively. Grandpa isn't known for his cooking skills but his eating abilities are legendary.

"Sold! How about these antique dishes? Now what do I hear on this small collection of salt and pepper shakers? Who'll give fifty dollars? A fifty dollar bid, yep, now sixty, now sixty, will ya give me sixty?  The auctioneer needed to turn his speaker volume down; the distortion was making me crazy.

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