The Scout

Last time I mentioned the need for broad attention in The Wild.

Often there’s a lot going on and even those who’re trained in situational awareness techniques need help from their friends.

In The Wild, this often takes the form of scouts.

Any predator species which recognizes group identity sends out scouts who report back what’s going on where. Doesn’t matter if it’s ants, bees, coyotes, wolves, …

Group survival requires a pooling of knowledge, of information, of what happened where, when, and if possible, why.

Humans, for the most part, do not employ scouts. We call ourselves a predator species, we like to think of ourselves as apex predators, and that’s an amusing deceit we employ. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent of the population doesn’t know how to monitor situations beyond what’s for dinner, what do you want to watch tonight, how’s my job going, who’s picking up the kids when, …

These are nice, yes, and hardly qualify as survival issues.

Unless you’re under fire or threat.


Ask someone who’s a war zone, or works undercover, or in espionage, or intelligence.

They well know the value of scouts.

And as a species, as we learn more of what’s in our universe, as we discover more potential threats real or imagined, the number of scouts multiplies.

Until everyone is a scout.

Scouting on each other.

Ala 1984 or McCarthyism or … umm … (and dare I say it?) … Trump?


The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery) – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 6)

The Alibi – Chapter 43 Section V Mega Chapter 2 (part 6)

Naomi took a final tour of the store, stood before her open changing room locker, gathered her things, and surveyed the employee lounge. It was a little past the end of 3rd shift, the time when insomniacs and early risers mingled, the former anxious to go and the latter anxious to get going. The two things they had in common were coffee and energy drinks. She got third shift because the first and second shift supervisors were afraid of her, the store populace went down about a third overnight, and she could pretty much do what she pleased.

The lounge – not so much a lounge as a high-priced cafeteria with a “commercial free” company video feed of good and bad employee behavior. One of the guys from automotive gave the screen the finger. A few others laughed – was industrailly antiseptically homey; neutral colors, comfortably uncomfortable couches, tables, and chairs, and all from the Damaged-in-Shipping containers out back of the store.

Naomi wondered when she’d appear in the “bad employee” videos. She closed her locker and spun the dial. Pitiful. Anybody could break in with a sharp yank.

But right now her concern was her absent teammate. “Anybody seen Annabelle?”

“Check with HR. If she clocked in, she’s here.”

She hadn’t.

The kindly grandmother type in HR typed on her keyboard then looked at Naomi over the top of her readers. “You’ll need to talk to her manager, Ms. Dillinger.”

Naomi went back out to the floor and cornered her latest manager, a skinny, older woman who pulled her hair back into a bun so tight Naomi considered it a cheap replacement for botox and plastic surgery. “Did Annabelle’s shift change?”

“She hasn’t been back since the detergent spill.”

The kindly grandmother type in HR reluctantly wrote down Annabelle’s phone number and address address for Naomi. “You won’t tell anybody, will you dear? I need this job.”

Naomi smiled. “You’re safe, Mrs. …” Naomi searched for a nametag and finally caught sight of an opened bill the woman tried to hide under her hand. “Lane.” Naomi cocked her head. “Mrs. Lane?”

A tear created a path in the old woman’s blush. “Yes?”

She studied the woman’s face, probably seeing her for the first time, and noticed the jaw line, the set of the cheeks, the brow.

Although old, the woman still carried the family facial features. “Are you related to Briggs Lane?”

The woman bowed her head. “Yes.”

“Isn’t he one of Boston’s Homegrown Billionaires?”

Mrs. Lane’s voice broke but she recovered quickly. “I wouldn’t know. I see his name in the papers sometimes.”

Naomi glanced at the open bill again. “May I?”

Mrs. Lane lifted her hand. Naomi saw “Overdue” stamped in large red letters across the top. She picked it up and read the amount. About ten dollars more than her weekly take home. “HR can transfer my paycheck to another employee if I sign off on it, right?”

Mrs. Lane’s eyebrows rose. “I don’t know. I’ve never had that request before.”

“Where do you live, Ms. Lane?”

“The North End.”

Naomi pulled back. “The North End? Isn’t it expensive living up there?”

“A nice policewoman owns the building. It’s been in her family for years. She lets me live there. All I have to do is pay the utilities.”

Naomi pulled back. “Annette Funicello?” She shook her head. “No, that’s not right.” She closed her eyes and furrowed her brow. “Cuccello.”

“You know Marie?”

“A friend invited me there for lunch today. Or dinner. Not sure which.”

“Oh, you’re lucky. I’ll bet she’s making pizzas. Sometimes she makes them and brings a slice or two to everybody in the building.”

Naomi nodded. Thank god there were kind hearts out there. “Then you’re Annabelle’s neighbor? I don’t know that area. You live close to her?”

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Previous entries in The Alibi (A John Chance Mystery)

April 2024 Newsletter

You said you weren’t going to do a newsletter, Joseph

You said you weren’t going to do a newsletter, Joseph

Yes, I did.

I’ve fulltime-authored since 2016 and rejected newslettering because no newslettering authors I talk with have any evidence their newsletters led to increased sales or other authorial opportunities.

Fortunately, I don’t expect this one to, either.

I post irregular announcements and both the open and clickthrough numbers hover around 90%.

Amazing, if you know about such things.

I’m hybridizing newslettering with my irregular announcements because I found a reason to do so; some of my friends have things worth announcing and, on the whole, about once a month should cover them.

So there you go and here it is.

April-May 2024 Announcements

  • IPNE has an excellent and informative post entitled What to look for in a book awards program (downloadable PDF and definitely a worthy read (me thinks)). (bet you can’t guess what it’s about)
  • BizCatalyst 360° is now carried on Google News. Big Congrats to Dennis Pitocco and the BizCatalyst 360° gang
  • BeyondDesignBooks’ Tamian Wood offers Ten Tips For finding (and working with) your ideal cover designer! as a free download. Check it out.
  • A movie star returns to her hometown and doesn’t live to regret it.
    Thriller author Donna Huston Murray’s new book, Farewell Performance (a Ginger Barnes Mystery) is available now on ebook and in print starting 4 June 2024. Pre-order is 99¢ You can also find it here.
  • My That Th!nk You Do is now available as an audiobook, and I have some promo codes available. Fair-Exchange, folks: Want a promo code for a free audio version? Promise to review the book on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, … before the next newsletter goes out (last week of May or so)? Let me know.
  • Our March RoundTable 360 was sold out and many thanks to folks who attended and offered comment.
    Our April RoundTable 360 discussion topic is How do creative people work together? exploring collaboration in the arts. Starting with a panel discussion and then welcoming participation by the audience; our hope is to help creatives see their world differently. This episode will be moderated by author, playwright, and poet, Kenneth Weene. Join us Thursday, April 25, 1:30 PM in the East, 10:30 AM in the west and 6:30 PM in London. For your reserved space, please sign up on Eventbrite. Eventbrite caps these sessions at twenty-five (25) audience members so reserve your seat soon.
    Our May RoundTable 360 will be led by award-winning poet, publisher, and editor Clarabelle Miray Fields of Carmina Magazine.
    Our June RoundTable 360 will be led by noted EU actress, model, and voice talent Sabine Rossbach discussing creating realistic characters.
    Our July RoundTable 360 will be led by London based fantasy, horror, and scifi author Liz Tuckwell discussing rejection.
    Want to be on our panel and/or lead a discussion? Let me know here.
  • I’m looking for first readers for my next release (schedule late June 2024), Tag. I’ll need your feedback/comments/edits/questions and definitely backcover copy and review material by 31 May 2024. Interested and willing to commit to that schedule? Let me know.
    About Tag: Two teenagers, Eric and Julia, seek tree grafts on the outskirts of their medieval village as a summer storm clouds the sky. Sullya, a witch hiding among the trees, grabs Julia. Eric swings his axe and severs Sullya’s hand from her arm. Sullya seeks refuge in the deep bole of an old oak. Her hand falls onto the same oak and crawls up the trunk to join her.
    Eric wants to flee but Julia, believing they are safe, torments the witch. Sullya curses them, their families, their crops, their livestock, and their eastern European village.
    Crops wilt, livestock dies, and much of their village falls ill. The village priest, Father Baillot, is often ignorant of church ways and proves ineffective against the curse.
    The elders seek help elsewhere, specifically from a distant priest,
    Father Patreo, who knows the Old Ways as well as the New.
    Patreo is out of favor with the Church because he makes no effort to hide his belief that progress comes from exploring all paths, not just those the Church decrees acceptable.
    He and Verduan, one of the elders, investigate, and what they discover changes the face of Eastern Europe forever.

And that’s it for April.

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any new and interesting wordages are the product of me. i’m an author. i can do things like that.

An Attentive Lad

To survive in The Wild, one must pay attention.

Two-Legs pay selective attention. We devote the majority of our neural resources to whatever interests us at the moment.

Which is why we – the modern “we” – don’t do well in The Wild.

Pay too much attention to any one thing and some other one thing snatches you.

Pay too much attention to any dozen things and some other dozen things snatch you.

One learns to be broad-minded, accepting of all information, in The Wild.

It’s a survival thing.


Unraveling Mystery, Metaphysics, and Romance – Snippet 2 “Real Life is Convoluted”

I recently had the good fortune to be interviewed by Betsy Wurzel, host of Chatting with Betsy, and you’ll be shocked to learn we talked about Unraveling Mystery, Metaphysics, and Romance.

Okay, we pretty much talked about my latest novel, Search, with some brief forays into my other works.

Today’s snippet deals with how honoring the convolutions of real life in one’s work.