Travel and Fun Leaves Little Time For Writing

As most know, we are full time RVers. The biggest adjustment for me as a writer has been balancing an unstructured lifestyle with structured writing time. I’m still struggling with it. I have two blogs, my author site and travel site ( as well as manuscript commitments such as the second book in my Dead Men series and an ongoing anthology of short stories based on North American myth and lore. In the midst of all of that, I strive to fit in a few hikes and adventures.

I am the personification of too many irons in the fire! Yowsa!

But I’m trying – and I appreciate your support and understanding. When I spend too much time posting to OlDog and Me, I feel guilty about neglecting my author site and vice versa. I’ve considered combining them but haven’t figured out a way to successfully incorporate the different aspects of my writing and traveling.

All I can do is suggest you hop back and forth between the two websites to get an idea of what’s happening with my writing. Somewhere in the middle, I’m doing research for upcoming stories, fitting in a little touristy stuff and trying to achieve a happy medium.

As of now, I am a week away from launching Volume One of the Lost Highway Tales. (I considered naming the anthology Tales from the Back Roads but have since reverted back to the original title). I’m working feverishly on Book Two in the Dead Men series, Dead Men Can’t Dance. If you haven’t read Dead Men Don’t Talk, you should. It’s gotten great reviews on Amazon.

20151120_134504And I’m ashamed to admit, I’m not even half way through the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words. Just chalk it up to a lot of gawking at those turn of the century cowboys wandering around Tombstone, Arizona. Be still my restless heart. Who doesn’t love a cowboy? Especially when you can ogle a real life recreation of an Old West hero? I make no excuses. I’m a sucker for cowboy hats and dusters!

Of course, there was also the alien lore from Roswell, New Mexico . . . but that’s another blog. :0


A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words . . . More or Less

During our travels as full time RVers, I’ve snapped some pretty interesting photos. Today was one of those days. We’re currently camped in the Texas Panhandle – windy, flat, and miles and miles of nothing. As I stared across a vast expanse of farmland, I saw a single tree standing tall against the horizon. I was curious. Why would the landowner leave one tree in the middle of his crops?

A story played out in my mind so I thought I would share. It’s purely fictional. And short. Enjoy!

As always, you can follow our adventures at

lonetreeThe Tree

by Deb Sanders

The land stretched as far as she could see – raw and unpolished, like the homesteader who lived here. For a genteel woman from the East, it was beyond her comprehension how anyone could exist in such a wasteland. It was not beautiful as he’d been promised. Nor did it instill a sense of grandeur. Her blue eyes narrowed under the shield of a gloved hand as she stood on the wagon seat, surveying her new home. In the end, the only emotion she could summon was . . . despair.

The wind tugged at the ribbons on her new bonnet. It was too late to return to the proper life she’d known in Philadelphia. Too late for remorse.

“What do you think?”

She sat down on the plank seat, staring straight ahead. “It’s flat.”

“All the better for farming. The grassland is good for grazing, too. Figured I might run a few head of cattle next spring.”

Her hand flattened against the hat as a gust threatened to snatch it from her head. “Does it blow like this all the time?” He laughed. For a moment, her heart swelled at the sound, reminding her of the reason she married and moved West.

“There’s not much out here to stop the wind. You’ll get used to it.”

She didn’t believe him. “Where’s your house?”

“Over there. See that mound? That’s called a dugout. There ain’t no trees for lumber so most homesteaders just dig into the ground.”

She glanced from left to right. Not a single tree dotted the high plains. Her heart sank.

Life was hard in those days. Her hands became rough and calloused, unaccustomed to the primitive lifestyle. As much as she loved her husband, a part of her longed for picnics, surrey rides on Sunday, and parlor games by the fire – all the things they’d enjoyed during their courtship. He’d been visiting an uncle in Philadelphia when they met. How could she have known his world was so vastly different from her own? There was no time for frivolous pursuits out here. Just work, and more work.

He found her crying next to the water trough one afternoon. Being a man of deep emotion but few words, he struggled with a response. Awkwardly standing before her, he tried to wipe the tears from her face.

“Have I done something?”

“No . . . yes.”

A line formed between his thick brows. “Well, which is it?”

“I want to go on a picnic.”

“Okay. I reckon I can take some time off tomorrow.”

“No . . . just forget it. You don’t understand.”

“You’re right. I don’t. You wanted to go on a picnic. I said I’d take you and now you’ve changed your mind.” He stepped back and scratched his head.

“I don’t want to go on a picnic here!” she sobbed. “I want trees. I want green lawns and pretty flowers. I want to go home.”

“I see.”

It was all he said before turning and walking away. She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it. He didn’t love her. She wasn’t sure he ever did. Shoulders slumped as she shuffled to the cabin to prepare supper, much like a death row inmate on their way to the executioner’s chair.

The setting sun cast a red gold haze over the tall grass when she finally peered out the door. He should have come in from the fields by now. She stepped outside and stared across the miles of nothingness. No sign of her husband. Anger surged through her as she thought of the meal growing cold on the table. She slammed the door and marched across the dirt floor. Rather than wait for him as she always did, she sat down and ate alone.

The fire had turned to embers by the time she realized he wasn’t coming home. Sleep was sporadic, fractured with angst and worry. When the rooster crowed at daybreak the next morning, she had a pot of coffee brewed, hoping he might show up for breakfast. He didn’t. Nor did he appear the rest of the day.

Certain her husband met an ill fate, and distraught her last words were unpleasant, she pondered what to do. He’d taken both horses and the wagon. Without transportation, she had no alternative but to walk five miles to the nearest neighbor and ask for help. That night, she cried herself to sleep.

At first she thought she was dreaming. He was smoothing the hair from her face, nuzzling her cheek. “Wake up. I have something to show you.”

Her lids flew upward. She threw herself against him, arms tangled so tightly around his neck, he gasped for breath. “I thought you left me.”


“Where have you been?” she sniffed, pulling back just enough to meet his amused gaze.

“Get dressed and I’ll show you.”

She slipped into her day clothes, lacing her boots before twisting blonde locks into a bun. “I’m ready.”

He escorted her to the wagon outside. After helping his wife into the seat, he climbed up beside her and softly clicked his tongue. The horses took off in a trot. They rode in silence for a short distance before she spied something on the horizon. It was dark, and thick, like a monolith against the sky.

“What is that?”

He didn’t speak. As they drew closer, her hand flew to her mouth. All she could do was stare at the tall spindly Cottonwood sprouting up from the grassland. The earth around it was freshly tilled.

He pulled the horses to a halt before jumping out and helping her to the ground. “It ain’t much right now. I rode over to McLean and found it growing next to the railroad tracks. Took me most of the day to dig it up and most of the next day to bring it here and replant it. I figure we can still have picnics out here until it’s big enough to provide shade.” His feet shuffled nervously. “I know you’re disappointed about the house but if you stay, I’ll work real hard to build one made out of timber. And I’ll order flower seeds so you can have a garden. This tree is all I can do right now. Is it . . . enough?”

She slowly transferred her eyes from the Cottonwood to her husband. For the first time, she saw pain and uncertainty in his face. “You did this for me?”

He nodded. “I love you.”

So it was the couple worked side by side, nurturing the tree through the harsh winter and into spring when new life sprang forth from the dormant limbs. As the Cottonwood grew tall and spread its boughs wide, they shared many meals, hopes and dreams under its leafy canopy, even conceiving their first child there. Many years later, after their work on Earth was done, they were buried side by side beneath the massive tree, which still stands today as a symbol of their love.

Welcome Back, Jack – Gritty, Gutsy, Good!

jack bannerREVIEW:

Welcome Back, Jack starts as a slow moving police procedural that subtly wraps around you like a constrictor, keeping you snug and comfortable with the story and characters. . . until it starts to squeeze. By then it’s too late because you’re morbidly fascinated by this psychological thriller bordering on a horror novel.   You can’t put the damn book down.

I admit, my love affair with Welcome Back, Jack did not start on the first page . . . or even the first chapter. While I usually enjoy attention to details, I felt the story stalled a bit as author Sweeny set the stage. Granted, there is a gruesome murder with graphic descriptions of the mutilated bodies. No one is going to sleep walk through that! But the initial investigation and introduction to the many characters seemed to take a long time and did not reel me in as quickly as I like.

However, once you get past the slough, this is an intriguing tale with some darned good twists. The story starts off like a gumshoe detective novel but soon gets in your head and stays there until the final page. Jack is a gruff detective who smokes too many cigarettes and keeps his emotions under lock and key. His wife, Mary might be the only one who truly understands him since she hails from a family of cops, but even that is debatable at times. As the investigation unfolds, clues reveal something even more terrifying – the killer is tied to Jack’s own biological parent’s murders from years earlier.  Things go from murky to dark, spiraling to a conclusion that will leave you breathless.

Fans of police procedural, crime or horror/thriller novels will want to put Welcome Back, Jack on their must read list, as well as anyone who likes dark psychological whodunits. It’s a good read.






by Liam SweenyJackCov2

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: American Apocrypha (July 29, 2013)


Book Description:

When Jack was six years old, his parents were brutally slain by a serial killer. The police later found drifter Clyde Colsen driving a stolen car, his clothes soaked in blood. He was tried, convicted and executed. Jack grew up knowing that they got the guy.

Now, Jack, a decorated homicide detective in New Rhodes, arrives at the third crime scene of the “South End Killer” murders and finds his name. He will soon find out something else: Thirty years ago, they got the wrong guy. And now the right guy’s come back to pay Jack and New Rhodes his bloody respects.

As Jack struggles to stay on the case, his cat-and-mouse with the killer makes him wonder if he’s the cat or the mouse. His family, and everyone in his life is fair game. As the killer escalates and threatens the entire city, Jack has a question he must answer in his desperation; can he stop the monster without becoming one?


LiamAbout the Author:

Liam Sweeny has worn many hats in his life. In addition to being a writer for ten years, he has been an artist, musician, grassroots campaign staffer and spent four years in disaster response, both in leadership and in the field.

It was in the field in New Orleans that Sweeny got his start as a writer. Hurricane Katrina, and his role in the relief effort, fueled his early writing, where he began in sci-fi/fantasy before transitioning into crime, mystery and noir.

As a crime writer, Sweeny’s work has appeared in many publications, such as Thuglit, All Due Respect, Near to the Knuckle, Shotgun Honey and others. You can find out more at

Follow the Author







Author Resource: Savvy Authors

Any writer who says they “know it all” is either fooling you or fooling themselves.

The market is constantly changing, so fast it’s hard to stay on top of current trends. Pouring over a dozen or more websites is time consuming and takes us away from what’s really important . . . our writing. Most large companies encourage professional growth but what happens when you’re self-employed? Seeking conferences and workshops to expand one’s knowledge can seem daunting.

Not anymore.

Savvy Authors offers a plethora of workshops, advice, resource material and communal networking tools for writers to stay focused in this ever changing industry. Not everyone is lucky enough to belong to an organization like RWA which offers physical meetings and conferences. Savvy Authors fills the gap, as well as complements those groups, concentrating on what we all want and need – the “savvy” to succeed in our profession. It doesn’t matter if you are a New York Times best selling author or unpublished. This organization is about writers helping writers.

Basic membership is free and allows an opportunity to test the waters i.e. see what they’re all about while taking advantage of some great services. Premium membership is $40 annually, a pittance compared to other organizations with comparable resources, and offers unlimited access to online tools, workshops and special events, chat rooms, craft and industry articles, etc.

Whether you’re updating your current knowledge base or exploring the industry, Savvy Authors should be highlighted on your bookmark roster. Subscribing to their monthly newsletter is a great place to start.

Click here to learn more:





Goodbye, Old Friend . . .

Writers are typically sensitive souls, rife with insecurity and doubt. When a reader/fan extends encouragement, it often means more than they could possibly know.

I had a reader like that. He became my friend, though we never met. We communicated through emails, Facebook and private messages. He always issued motivation and hope, especially when I had taken a hiatus to help care for a special needs grandson. So when I discovered Carlin had cancer, I prayed and tried to offer uplifting words, though I feel I may have failed miserably.

As the time between messages grew longer and longer, I kept up with his progress through his wife’s regular posts. Occasionally she would upload photos and i could see how frail he’d become. His humor and internal strength remained strong, however, evidenced by sporadic appearances on Facebook. It was hard to imagine Carlin not beating the Big “C” . . . but he didn’t.

Today Carlin Kallay succumbed to his disease. I grieve. I lost a friend. A fan. A great influence in my life and writing career. I’m not sure he knew how much I cared and appreciated his kindness, but I know.

God speed, Carlin. You earned your wings.

Author Resource: The Emotion Thesaurus

This is the first of a new blog post series called Author Resource. With so much information available via digital and print, it’s often difficult to weed through it all and find the gems. And I have a wonderful “gem” for you today . . . read on!

EmotionEvery author knows the term “show, don’t tell”. It’s perhaps the first rule many of us learned as budding writers – but at times, it doesn’t matter how much you utilize a thesaurus . . . the right words to “show” how our character feels escapes us.  Such a stumbling block can mean the difference between a best seller and a dud because emotion is key to any successful novel.

Well, now there’s help.

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have written an outstanding guideline entitled The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression. This is not a new release. It was published in May, 2012 but many of you may not be aware of its existence, hence my tip for today.

After a brief explanation about how to use the thesaurus and a few pages on techniques for writing non-verbal emotion, the book flows right into a smartly formatted reference guide. You simply search for a word and find the phrase or term you think best fits your character’s emotional state. For example, “amusement”: under the heading, the word is defined. Following are physical signals such as “smirking or offering a bemused smile”. Next are internal signals, mental responses, cues for long term or suppressed amusement and finally, writer’s tips.

I love The Emotion Thesaurus. On days when I’m tired and my brain is overworked, it’s a lifesaver, allowing me to plow through pages I would previously have walked away from, claiming writer’s block.

But the authors don’t stop there. This talented duo also published companion books, The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. If you own one of the many character archetype books and think you don’t need anything else, think again. These guides serve as a quick reference without pouring through paragraphs of psychological explanation.

For more information and a plethora of other useful tidbits, check out their website Angela and Becca make a formidable team, offering tips on every writing scenario you can imagine. 

AMAZON   Other buy links available from Writers Helping Writers website.




Paper Doll – A Mystery With So Much More


PAPER DOLL (Jana Lane Mystery Book 1) by Joe Cosentino should be on everyone’s summer reading list – not just because it’s a well written mystery thriller but because it’s fun! Quirky. Refreshing. And will keep you guessing to the end.

I loved the cast of characters. Each eccentric soul is motivated by their own agenda and it’s often not what you think.

Start with little Jana Lane, famous child actress who walked away from fame after a heinous attack. Now she’s all grown up with a family of her own and living nicely on residual income . . . but still haunted by nightmares from her past. Her hunky husband is struggling to overcome a bankruptcy but is doing okay with his new landscaping business – much to the aversion of his father-in-law, an aging movie star who wants to use Jana to resurrect his own career. And then there’s Jana’s delightful BFF who is openly gay and openly lusts for husband but would never breach their friendship. Or would he?

PAPER DOLL is a mystery but in many ways, more of a character driven satire. Joe Cosentino has crafted an engaging tale of secrets, lies and deceit set in that crazy, ego driven scene called Hollywood. As much as I enjoyed the glimpse of glamour and glitz, it was the insightful presentation of diverse personalities that kept me hooked.

I admit, the ending caught me off guard. I identified the villain but was surprised by some of the outcomes with the supporting cast. And that made me love this book even more.

I think you will, too.

MY RATING – ★★★★★

Available at AMAZON

Paper Doll 

Jana Lane Mystery – Book 1

Joe Cosentino

  • Print Length: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press LLC (March 5, 2015)
  • Publication Date: March 5, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

Book Description:

Jana Lane was America’s most famous child star until she was attacked on the studio lot at eighteen years old. Now a thirty-eight-year-old beauty and mother of two living in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York, Jana’s flashbacks from her past turn into murder attempts in her present. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana visits the California movie studio she once called home. This sends her on a whirlwind of visits with former and current movie studio personnel. It also leads to a romance with the son of her old producer—Rocco Cavoto—the devilishly handsome filmmaker who is planning Jana’s comeback both professionally and personally. With Rocco’s help, Jana uncovers a web of secrets about everyone she loves, including the person who destroyed her past and threatens to snuff out her future.

About the Author:

JoeJoe Cosentino is the author of AN INFATUATION (Dreamspinner Press), PAPER DOLL Jana Lane mystery 1 (Whiskey Creek Press), DRAMA QUEEN Nicky and Noah mystery 1 (Lethe Press), A SHOOTING STAR (Dreamspinner Press–releasing this September), A HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Dreamspinner Press–releasing this December), THE NAKED PRINCE AND OTHER TALES FROM FAIRYLAND (Dreamspinner Press–releasing 2016), PORCELAIN DOLL Jana Lane mystery 2 (Wild Rose Press–releasing 2016), DRAMA MUSCLE Nicky and Noah mystery 2 (Lethe Press–releasing 2016), and THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, INFATUATION and NEIGHBOR, were performed in New York City. He wrote “The Perils of Pauline,” available on CDROM (through Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe received his MFA from Goddard College in Vermont, and MA from SUNY New Paltz. He is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York.