Category Archives: Notes from the Author

Give It All Away

(World Party reference in the title!)

December 17th is my birthday, and as usual I’m giving YOU a present.

If you haven’t read my books yet, here’s a special offer: until December 31st, all of my standalone eBooks are FREE on SmashWords. (The omnibus edition of The Newtonberg Stories is still just $3.99 if you’d rather have everything in one file.)

Welcome to Newtonberg is already free, so there is no special code needed for it.

To get All That Remains free, use coupon code ME24A at checkout.

For Back to Newtonberg, use coupon code PC28U at checkout.

All of the books are the latest updated versions, and Back to Newtonberg includes an all-new bonus short story!

Please share this post with everyone you know to help get the word out about the books!

Thanks again to everyone for all of your support this past year. I can honestly say that this has been the best, most exciting year of my life.  2018 is already shaping up to be even better!


Looking for a stocking stuffer for the bibliophile in your life, or is someone special getting an eReader from Santa? Just click on the coupon below and print it out!



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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Notes from the Author, Publicity, Welcome to Newtonberg

5 Years to Write…

(Yes, believe it or not, this is a song title. It’s by John Reuben.)

The updated eBook versions of The Newtonberg Stories are now available!

If you purchased a previous versions of the eBooks from SmashWords, you can download the update for free by following these steps:

1. Log into your SmashWords account.
2. Click on the Library link at the top of the screen.
3. Scroll down to Purchased Books.
4. Click on the book you want to read. This takes you to the book’s page, where you can scroll down and download the eBook format that works best for you.
5. When you click on the version of the book you need, the latest version will be available to download at the top of the list of versions.

If you purchased your eBook from Amazon and the book is still on your Kindle, you should receive a notification that an updated version is available automatically. If it is no longer on your Kindle, you can get the latest version by going to your Kindle library and choosing to download the book again. You’ll get the latest edition automatically.

Here’s what’s new:

Welcome to Newtonberg
Minor text corrections, and a preview of All That Remains. Author bio has been updated.

All That Remains
Minor text corrections, and a preview of Back to Newtonberg. Author bio has been updated.

Back to Newtonberg
Significant changes/corrections to the text, and a bonus short story: “Rick Murchison Goes Home Again.” Author bio has been updated.

The Newtonberg Stories
A new, single-volume book containing the complete text of all three books, including the new short story.

Finally, for Amazon only I made an important change — if you order the print book, you can add the eBook for FREE. It’s only on Amazon because they’re the only company I have direct access to in order to set this up.

HOWEVER, if you do purchase a print edition and want the eBook, just shoot me an email to and I will be happy to provide you with a SmashWords coupon code to get the accompanying eBook at no additional cost to you.

Once again, I want to thank everyone for their support over these past five years (and before). I am beyond blessed to have such good friends, family, and others who have enjoyed meeting the citizens of Newtonberg. Rest assured that there is more to come — book four is already underway!

Until next time…

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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Newtonberg Stories, Notes from the Author, Welcome to Newtonberg

Hello Hooray

(Alice Cooper reference in the title, missing punctuation and all.)

It’s been…… a while.

It’s been a wild year for me. A lot going on, a lot of changes, but it’s all been good.

cover_option5Still, I am nothing if not conscientious. I made a promise on New Year’s Day that I would be releasing a single-volume edition of The Newtonberg Stories in time for the 5th/25th anniversary. I missed the official release by ten days (the print version of Welcome to Newtonberg was released 10/11/2012), but I had the proofs in my hand before then so I’ll count it as a victory.

The Newtonberg Stories (pretty original title, eh?) is a one-volume collection that contains the complete texts of Welcome to Newtonberg, All That Remains, and Back to Newtonberg. All three books have been completely revised and corrected. It also contains a new bonus short story, “Rick Murchison Goes Home Again.”

Each of the individual volumes have also been updated, and the bonus short story is now included with Back to Newtonberg. The eBook updates are forthcoming and I should announce them sometime this week.

As always, the print versions are available from CreateSpace, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and will be making its way to other outlets throughout the forthcoming weeks. The price for each of the individual volumes remains $9.99. The Newtonberg Stories omnibus edition is only $14.99.

I want to thank everyone for their support over the past five years. Please be assured that collecting these books into one volume does not mean that I’m ending the series. There are many other stories to be told. Some will be set in Newtonberg. Others may be set elsewhere, such as Schaefer (see the new short story for more on that). Some will be set in modern day, and others may tell stories of Newtonberg residents who left us long ago. One thing is certain, though — they will all have this little East Texas town and its residents at the heart of the story.

Until next time…

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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Newtonberg Stories, Notes from the Author, Welcome to Newtonberg

Let The Good Times Roll

(J.D McPherson reference!)

Well, I promised a big announcement in January.

First of all, I’ll note something that’s not really a surprise, it’s a question of simple math: I published Welcome to Newtonberg in 2012.  So 2017 is the fifth anniversary of that book.

Has it been a success?  Financially, no.  I mean, I’m certainly not out any money since it cost little to publish it. I did all of the file preparation, design, and editing myself (along with a small group of beta readers looking for both typographical errors and continuity problems).  But any profit to speak of is minimal.

However, I’ve always said the entire process was more about getting the books out there: getting the stories told.  And in that respect, it’s been successful.

But 2017 doesn’t just mark the fifth anniversary of Welcome to Newtonberg: it actually marks 25 years since I wrote the first Newtonberg story.  “A Tear for Billy” was written one afternoon in 1992 in the computer lab at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, Texas.  It was written on an old IBM PC Jr (remember those?) using whatever word processing program was available (it might have been WordStar, but I honestly can’t remember).

“A Tear for Billy” wasn’t a great story, but it established the town, and over twenty years later, it served as the springboard for All That Remains.  For these reasons, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for it, no matter how pretentious and horrible it may have been.

I can hear you saying to yourself now: “Great.  Wonderful.  What’s the announcement?”

There are two, really:

  • Announcement #1: In Fall 2017, I will release a special “25th/5th Anniversary Omnibus Edition” of The Road To Newtonberg, a one-volume collection of all three Newtonberg stories. While there won’t be sweeping changes to the content, I will take the opportunity to correct a few errors that I’ve found, clarify a few plot points, and set everything up for…
  • Announcement #2: I am currently outlining/researching my next book. I can’t promise it will be published in 2017 as well, but I’ll try my hardest.

    While not set in Newtonberg, it is connected: it involves Ray Murchison. Who is Ray Murchison? He’s Rick Murchison’s younger brother, and Stu Murchison’s father. I won’t give much away in terms of the plot, but let’s say it involves first love and a lot of 1980s pop culture references in the small town of Schaefer, Texas (about 75 miles from Newtonberg).

    (For those of you have been following this site for a while, you might remember a vampire book in the works at one point.  Turns out I don’t do supernatural well.  While getting the characters established for that book, I found out that the main character, Ray, didn’t really want to go fight vampires.  He had another story to tell — this is it.)

What’s that I just heard?  A collective sigh from readers silently complaining to themselves that they’ve already paid for three separate books and now I’m asking them to pay again for a one-volume edition?  Well, actually… no (and yes).

If you downloaded the eBooks, I will also be updating the eBook files on Amazon and SmashWords.  So you can go back to those sites, log into your account and download the latest version for free. (In fact, if you bought it from Amazon, you can log into your account and go to “Manage Your Content and Devices”. It will let you know there that an updated version is available.)

If you bought the physical books, I’m afraid I can’t offer free copies of those.  I will be updating the text files at CreateSpace so all subsequent printings will have the same corrections/updates that are in The Road to Newtonberg.  However, if you purchased the print books and want to read the corrected versions as eBooks, contact me through my email or Facebook and I’m sure we can work something out.

Still, if you are considering upgrading your collection to the one-volume edition (or if you only bought one or two of the books originally), I plan to offer the print version of The Road To Newtonberg at $14.99 retail, which is only $5 more than one book in the series on its own.  The eBook will likely be $3.99, which is only $1 more than Back to Newtonberg on its own, and $1 less than buying All That Remains and Back to Newtonberg individually (since Welcome to Newtonberg is always free for download from SmashWords)

So there you have it: my big announcement for 2017. To quote Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters (the original, good version from 1984 — not the remake):

“I love this plan! I’m excited to be a part of it! LET’S DO IT!”

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Filed under All That Remains, Back to Newtonberg, Notes from the Author, The Road to Newtonberg, Welcome to Newtonberg

In memoriam: Umberto Eco, 1932-2016

I hope you don’t mind, but I am foregoing my usual song lyric/post title format this time. In this particular case, I don’t feel it’s appropriate.  The importance of someone’s life shouldn’t be reduced to  song title.

Last night I logged onto Facebook and learned that one of my favorite authors had died.

Not Harper Lee — although To Kill a Mockingbird is indeed a classic of American literature.

I’m talking about Umberto Eco.

I went through the first twenty years or so of my life not ever having heard of Umberto Eco.  While I’ve always been a reader, until college I pretty much stuck with American or British authors. To my knowledge, I never read a book that had been translated from another language (aside from Beowulf or some obscure short stories in high school English class).

When I took my first job at the public library where I would work for over twenty years, one of my co-workers had worked in the publishing industry as an editor.  She seemed very intelligent and sophisticated to me, and I was impressed by her wide knowledge of the various authors in our collection.

One day, we were putting books on the cart to reshelve them when I spotted The Name of the Rose among the titles.  I recognized it as having been the basis for a Sean Connery movie that I had yet to see, and remarked that the book could be an interesting read.

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll like it,” she replied.  “It’s very intellectual.”

Now at the time, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant by that, but it sounded a little like an insult (whether she intended it to be perceived as such or not). Feeling as if I’d been issued a challenge, I determined that I would read the book anyway, just out of spite.

And that’s how I discovered Eco — someone challenged my intellectual ability (or at least, that’s how I perceived it).

I’ve told this story to people over the years, and while most react the way I did at the time (“How dare she judge what you’re capable of understanding?”), at least one person challenged that reaction: “Did you ever stop to think that she was using reverse psychology to get you to step outside your comfort zone?”

Thinking back on it twenty years later, they could have been right.

At any rate, I am grateful to her.  Had it not been for Eco, I never would have discovered other authors I love, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Arturo Perez-Reverte. Had it not been for The Name of the Rose, I never would have read Eco’s other books — Baudolino, Foucault’s Pendulum, Numero Zero.  I never would have developed my love-hate relationship with The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.

Because of Eco, I broadened my horizons internationally.  I discovered foreign films (La vita è bella, La cité des enfants perdus, Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain), and musicians such as Emma Shapplin,  Louis Bertignac, and the participants in the wonderful French annual charity concert Les Enfoirés.

Umberto Eco made me a better writer, a more creative thinker, and above all more aware of the world I live in.  Words are not adequate to express my gratitude. As he said himself in the postscript to The Name of the Rose: “Books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.”

Anything I say has been said before, and (most often) more eloquently than I could say it myself. So I will simply say this:

“Thank you. And may you rest in peace.”

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Filed under Notes from the Author, Uncategorized