Autumn & Halloween books!

English: A traditional Irish turnip Jack-o'-la...

I think I’m glad we moved to pumpkins — this is creepy. The teeth! A traditional Irish turnip Jack-o’-lantern from the early 20th century. Photographed at the Museum of Country Life, Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, scarecrows aren’t limited to autumn, but somehow they’ve become associated with fall decor, so there you go. And Robin Archer works year-round in Indianapolis, but this cover has a cool jack-o-lantern, so there.

The point is, you’ve got book deals. Continue reading

Vampires for Charity

Once, while dressed as Dracula (I was a sponsor for the Monster Mania film festival of Universal classics at the Historic Artcraft Theater), I donated blood. I posed for a photo outside the mobile donation trailer, assuring the photographer I’d come to the blood bank to make a deposit, not a withdrawal. Then I went inside, and when the nurse came around the corner to check me in, she screamed.

It was great fun. I do love my vampires.

In a similar /ahem/ vein, I would like to share with you a fun promotional event called Vampire Books for Blood. The authors of the vampire-themed books listed have pledged to donate 10% of their October sales to either the American Red Cross or Canadian Blood Services, depending on their location.

So hop on over (yes, that’s a vampire pun, too) and see if there’s any new books you want to sink your teeth into.

#VampBooks4Blood

Orphan Heirs & Shades of Night – a new Robin Archer tale

Circles & Crossroads Mini SetThis isn’t a real release.

Not really. It’s not a big splashy thing and it’s not a full collection of stories. It’s a novella, the next tale about Robin Archer. I’d like to do a whole series of short stories and novellas about Robin, a whole Circles & Crossroads series, and then release them in one set, but that’s not ready yet. But in the meantime, I’d like to share a new one with you, just because people have liked Robin so.

It’s a Halloween tale and takes place in Irvington, an Indianapolis neighborhood boasting the oldest and largest Halloween festival in the country. (I’ll be doing posting about some of the local scene soon.) When children begin to disappear from the festival, Robin and Jimmy offer to help search, and Robin recognizes a crime out of time.

Books traditionally release on Tuesday. But because this isn’t a real release, just a story for Robin fans, it hits virtual shelves on Friday, halfway around the week from Tuesday. That seems an appropriately Fae-like way to do it. Continue reading

Wordless Wednesday: Skeleton

I made the mystery trail/maze as promised, but I uncovered a significant hole left by some bank robber retrieving his stolen loot. As the trail is walked in the dark, this was a real hazard, so it had to be marked.

So we enlisted McCoy. McCoy (Star Trek fans will appreciate his name) joined us three years ago when we sponsored the 1959 The House on Haunted Hill with Vincent Price at my favorite Historic Artcraft Theater.

By the way, I’m terrible at Wordless Wednesday. I freely confess to word count issues. Let’s call this, mostly wordless.

skeleton pushes woman into acid trap

More Mowing & Murder: Autumn Maze

I’ve mentioned previously that I cut an annual autumn maze. What I didn’t mention is that the last couple of years, I’ve used a secret theme.

It’s hard to invent a wholly new labyrinth each year without being repetitive, so one year I chose an usual word from a book title, a word I figured no one would recognize, and used it as the basis for my maze. It seemed to work pretty well, the maze was reported properly twisty — the word was kitsune — and no one realized they were actually walking through connected letters.

That became my private joke. Half of the maze was bizarre swirls and winding paths, meant to draw out the younger kids but not lose them, and half was a series of interlinked passages based on some personal literary reference. But last year, I was found out, thanks to Google Earth. My mother, who with my father owns the field in which the maze is cut, was looking up her property’s aerial view for some reason and realized the map had been updated after I’d done my maze. Continue reading

What You Did Last Week

So To Honor Him book cover, three riders on camels against a dramatic sky, with a brilliant star, and a super-imposed drum

So To Honor Him was released a day early to newsletter subscribers. Not only did they have the first look, but they had a different price: pay what you want, and all the profit would go to International Justice Mission.

(All direct sales profits last week went to IJM, but on official launch day, the price was a fixed $1.99.)

English: Amanda Palmer Live 2008

Amanda Palmer and I are very infrequently mistaken for one another. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wasn’t sure about setting up a pay-what-you-want day. I mean, that kind of thing works for people like Amanda Palmer, but, well, I’m not Amanda Palmer. What if everyone just grabbed the story for free and nothing at all went to International Justice Mission? Continue reading

Herod the Great (Big Jerk) in History

etching of Herod the Great

Herod the Great

I know well enough that the Jews will keep a festival upon my death, however it is in my power to be mourned for on other accounts, and to have a splendid funeral, if you will but be subservient to my commands. Do you but take care to send soldiers to encompass these [illustrious] men that are now in custody, and slay them immediately upon my death, and then all Judea, and every family of them, will weep at it, whether they will or no.

This was how Herod intended to ensure mourning at his funeral. Yikes. (Fortunately, these orders were not carried out after his death.) Continue reading

Songs of the Little Drummer Boy

Detail of the Three Kings from The Adoration of the Magi, tapestry, by Edward Burne JonesLast time I talked about the weird appearances of Little Drummer Boy figurines in Nativity scenes and the fascinating historical research I got to do for So To Honor Him. Today I’m going to talk about the obligatory soundtrack for the book: “The Carol of the Drum” or “The Little Drummer Boy,” depending on when it was recorded and by whom.

I’m not even going to try to list here all the myriad covers of this song, or even just the better ones. I’ll simply point out some really stand-out recordings and explain why I think they deserve a mention. I know I’m leaving out a lot of favorites; feel free to comment below with a plug for your choice!

Continue reading

So To Honor Him – a tale of the drummer boy

Garishly-dressed drummer boy with Italian Greyhound.

This is more than a bit ugly. And why does he come with a dog?

Maybe it’s always been there, but a few years ago I started noticing a curious trend of Drummer Boy figures in Nativity sets. Had the carol become so prominent in our Christmas traditions that we were now including the recent and wholly fictional character in depictions of the scene? And why were so many of them oddly inappropriate to the setting? I was simultaneously a little weirded out and a little intrigued.

I’d always liked “The Carol of the Drum” at least a bit. It’s simple and not terribly authentic, but it’s got a decent message (“your best is your gift”) and anyway it’s catchy, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum. It was only written in 1941, allegedly based on a similar Czech song but the original (according to Wikipedia, anyway) has never been found. It probably has more to do with the carol “Patapan.”

It became hugely popular after the Von Trapp family (of The Sound of Music fame) recorded it and Harry Simeone recorded it two or three times, renaming it “The Little Drummer Boy.”

K.K. Davis' "The Little Drummer Boy"...

K.K. Davis’ original “Carol of the Drum” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I’d always enjoyed the song. But it bothered me. I mean really, who plays a drum for a baby? Most of my time around infants is filled with admonishments to make no noise, lest we wake the sleeping screamer. I know people who even travel with white noise machines for their young children. And how did the Wise Men happen across a renegade drummer from an anachronistic military band? Because that’s how the kid is usually depicted in illustrations. And where are his parents, anyway?

If you want skip ahead to the story, jump to the bottom of the page.
If you want to hear about the research, read on for a bit.

This has bothered me off and on for years. And then I found my brain starting to do something about it. Where did this kid with the drum come from? Continue reading

Authors at Robots & Rogues

Robots & Rogues Small Business Saturday posterCome out Saturday, November 29, 2014, to one of my favorite names in indie bookstores, Robots & Rogues. I’ll be there from 10 am to 3 pm, and there will be other authors present all day, including Stephanie Cain and others yet to be announced. You can even meet Santa!

We’ll be chatting and signing throughout the day, and it’s a great chance to get a jump on your Christmas shopping. As the name implies, Robots & Rogues is a good source for the geeks on your shopping list, but they serve other reading niches as well with mysteries, thrillers, non-fiction, etc.

You can follow the event updates on their Facebook page as new authors and features are added. We’d love to see you there!