Trouble in Paradise by Robert Parker

I finished this book just minutes ago, and it was classic Parker and absolutely satisfying.

I was a huge Spenser fan, and a fan of Parker’s Westerns, too. For whatever reason (Tom Selleck), I am only just getting to the Jesse Stone series.

I waited too long.

Fantastic book. Parker has a knack for building a relatable, heroic character who is flawed, but with a personal code.


Ever since my daughter told me that HMU means “Hit Me Up” I have gone out of my way to include it regularly in my texts with her.

Every time she gets one of those magical texts with HMU, her reply to me includes some of those laughing-until-crying emojis. Obviously, that is some form of acknowledgment of how hip and awesome I am.

*tap tap tap* Is this thing on? Hello? I just flew in from Jersey, and boy are my arms tired.


I’m not really into text talk. For example, I never, ever use LOL. For some reason, it’s my least favorite of them all, and I insist on simply writing out “ha ha” or “ha ha ha” or even “hahahahaha.”

For one thing, I seriously doubt the LOLers out there are actually laughing out loud. Maybe sometimes, but not nearly as much as they write it. I bet for most users, LOL really means more like, “That was funny.” So maybe they should use TWF instead of LOL if they aren’t really laughing out loud. Hey, I’m just saying. Inaccurate LOL usage activates my OCD.

SMH … but that’s just my opinion. And you know what they say about opinions. That’s right: awesome dads always have one.

Okay, time to get back to work on my second Kane Montgomery novel. If you haven’t read or heard the first one, you can check it out for FREE by starting up and Audible trial membership … which you can do by CLICKING HERE or on the image. You won’t regret it and you’ll be helping out a really nice guy that I know (it’s me!).

Hope you all have a fantastic day!      – Bart


Have you ever listened to an audiobook?

I love reading books, and I was skeptical that audiobooks could replace that feeling. Wow, was I wrong!

Even if you hate books, audiobooks are different. They’re like movies for the ears.

Just as with movies, not only do you need a good script, but you also need good actors. For audiobooks, the narrator is the actor. Or actors, since they frequently play ALL of the roles in the book.

A good narrator can make all the difference. Lucky for me, two GREAT voice actors narrated my stories … Luke Daniels and Wayne June. I can’t say enough about how talented both of those guys are … the best at what they do.

And, so, I would be honored if you would make THE BENDS or DEAD ENDS your first audiobook. You can even try one of them for FREE … Just click the covers to check them out on Audible, and your first audiobook is free if you sign up (no obligations).

Even if it’s not one of my books that you try first, I think you’ll enjoy the experience of reading with your ears!

Take care … Bart



Blood on the Tracks

Blood on the Tracks by Barbara Nickless

The short of it is that I really enjoyed the book. Very unique. Humor. Suspense. It has all the good stuff.

The longer story is that I’m an Amazon Prime member, which means I get to choose a free book at the beginning of each month (from a small, curated selection they offer). I think that’s how I got this one. I don’t really remember, but that’s probably it since I had not heard of the author prior.

There were a lot of things I enjoyed about the book! The behavior and language of the characters that were Marines felt authentic. I served in the Air Force, but I worked with all the branches, and Nickless did a pretty good job with the vernacular and behavior of the characters.

It’s obvious that the author did a lot of research, even without reading the credits and the people she thanks … key people in various technical fields.

The beginning of each chapter was done very well, with brief blurbs from Sydney Rose Parnell’s past or journal that cast additional light, or the philosophy, behind what is about to happen. I came to look forward to those, and cannot stress enough how superbly they were executed. Sometimes something like that does not work, but not this time.

There might have been one or two very brief scenes that I thought were a little hokey, but hey … not saying it couldn’t have happened that way. The other 99.9% of the book was pretty dynamite.

Nice, even suspense throughout the novel.

The ending was very satisfying. Not a cliffhanger or anything begging you to buy the next book in the series to find something out. And, yet, there is a second book in the two-book series, and it left me wanting to buy it.

Well done, Ms. Nickless!

It’s Electric

So, there I was at The Domain mall in Austin, parking my car, when I notice this happening.

Whoa! When did this become a thing? There was a row of cars parked, “gassing up” on electricity while their owners dropped buckets of cash in the nearby shops.

I didn’t see slots for quarters or anything, so I guess it’s free. For now.

Anyway, that’s my random thought for the day. My car still drinks regular gasoline. I’m probably a decade or more away from trying electricity.

It’s Electric! (Boogie woogie).

Authors Beware

I literally have about 120 seconds to knock out this post, so I will make it quick.

As an Indie author, I am so very fed up with “marketers” and other authors (or whoever) trying to sell me courses that are going to improve my book launches, help me sell books, get the old money-making machine on auto-pilot, and all of the rest.

They hook you with something like a “free” webinar where they promise to teach you one of these things. Then they hit you with common sense stuff that is plastered all over the Interwebs already … no mistakes/you need an editor, you need a good cover, don’t rush your launch, plot a marketing path, etc. The “free” part of the webinar is usually mildly okay for a very novice author.

Then, of course, comes the pitch for the course that is really going to kick it all into overdrive for you. Spend just $500 and you’ll be set for life.

Sometimes it’s the neverending, scrolling web page with a lot of the same type of stuff. And what is scary is how damned awful hopeful it makes you. Is this going to be the one that helps my career take off?

Nope. Probably not. Best to not plug in your email address or buy the $1000 course that is on sale for three payments of $90.

And some of these even have a money-back guarantee, and maybe they mean it, which is cool. I can’t argue with someone putting their money where their mouth is.

But what stymie’s my ability to conceive of these things actually being worth a hoot is that there are SO MANY of them going around. And if they worked that well, then we’d all be gozillionaires.

Okay. I have to count sheep. Feel free to tell me how foolish I am or point out one of these writerly courses that actually works. There are a few that catch my eye, but man, I sure hesitate to drop the cash on them.

Street Corn

I frequently become obsessed with some food and binge-eat it at every opportunity. Brisket, Pico De Gallo, Rib Eyes, and Bluebell Homemade Vanilla ice cream have all had the honor of making my list, and being the focus of these periodic food crazes.

The latest edible object of my obsession has been Street Corn, aka Elotes.

Feast your eyes on that! Whoa, man, my mouth is watering already. Here’s a LINK TO A RECIPE I found on the interwebs … it sounds delicious!

If you don’t feel like doing the work to get a grilled or smoked ear of corn, then you can try this out. It’s not quite as good as properly cooked Street Corn–it’s the 80% solution–but it hits the spot in a pinch and gives you most of the taste.

  1. Pour a can of corn into a microwave-safe dish. Add 2 TBSP of butter and microwave for 1:30 – 2:00 minutes.
  2. Remove and spread out on your plate. Mix a teaspoon or two of mayo into your corn. Add more, as desired.
  3. Sprinkle a layer of grated parmesan cheese on top.
  4. Sprinkle some chili powder, to taste.
  5. Add a few drops of lime juice.

Enjoy! Man, I am telling you this is seriously good stuff!

If you want to eliminate steps 4 and 5, you can add both at once by sprinkling some of this awesome stuff on it: Tajin!

Oh, man … and if you are Catholic and can’t eat meat on Fridays right now, this is your new meal ticket. Too good.

Okay. I felt compelled to shout this from the mountain tops. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.



Angels of Light by Jeff Long

Angels of Light

by Jeff Long

It might sound silly, but I was torn about how to rate this book.

On the one hand, the author has bursts of prose so fantastic that it’s like seeing the aurora borealis. And his understanding of the climbing world is either from personal experience or the most devilishly fastidious research.

The flip side is that every now and then, there is this 70s style machismo underneath the surface of the writing that I caught in snatches, like whispers almost, that seem a little outdated. It’s like spying on an earlier, celebrated style of writing and writer that has evolved and gotten better, and it’s still good, but it was the precursor to what was later greatness. (I should note that this was written in 1987.)

The masculinity of the writing, and also some moments of brutal honesty, reminded me of Hemingway or Barthelme or Bukowski. Don’t get me wrong, because I love a lot of their work, but sometimes … I don’t know, I guess at times it isn’t fully appealing.

The odd thing about this novel, however, is that it seemed to me that the writer was on the precipice between that more old-fashioned style of prose and something more brilliant. It was like Long was bridging a divide, and you were able to witness it.

For any type of climber, this book will no doubt yield a bunch of head-nods and “been there, done that” type of moments.

I really enjoyed it. Maybe my rambling makes sense, and you’ll have a good idea whether you can enjoy it, too.

I’ll end with a favorite passage:

“They had seen tiny spiders clambering across snow on twenty-six-thousand-foot mountains and solitary blue flowers in the Antarctic. They had seen that where life was possible, it persisted. Especially on the brink. In their vertical wilderness, that was the measure. It was more honest than right or wrong, sin or justice. Survival itself was right and just. The fact that each of them was still on his feet with air in his lungs on a day like today made it so.”

Audiobooks & Saliva

This Christmas, some of our best friends gave me one of those Ancestry DNA Kits. You can check it out here:

My son and I had been talking about how awesome it would be to take one of these tests during the last couple of months, but we hadn’t really told anyone else. So, I was stoked to get one.

The crazy thing about this is that you simply spit into a collection tube and mail it in. What? That is CRAZY!

I’ll share my results with you when they come in. Will one of you be a relative I didn’t know about? You’ll find out in just 6-8 short weeks.

In addition to all of that awesomeness, something else amazing happened. Audible Hall of Fame Narrator Luke Daniels read my book, THE BENDS, and you can check out a PREVIEW of it here, or find it HERE on Audible. If you haven’t listened to his work, be it mine or from someone else, you should give it a try. He’s dynamite!

And … that’s the latest. I hope you all had an awesome 2017, and that 2018 treats you right, too.

As always, keep a good book nearby and Happy Reading (and listening)!

  • Bart

Living the Writer's Life