Thursday, April 14, 2016


Hi folks,

Got a few things coming up shortly you might want to check out. First, I’ll be on the air with Tom Pitts for an interview on his podcast, Skid Row on the Air on Authors on the Air. We go live on Wednesday April 20 at 9 pm EST. It’ll be up later if you can’t make that time. Check it out at

We'll be chatting about my newest novel, BOMB! and a life of crime...

Then, in May, I head down to my home state of Texas for a couple of events. The first is a wild night at the very first Noir at the Bar at Threadgill’s Bar to read along with writers Jordan Harper and Jesse Sublett, hosted by Texas largest independent bookstore, Book People and Scott Montgomery. It’s gonna get nasty up in here?


Thursday, May 12 at 7 PM
Noir at the Bar has moved! Come to our very first Noir at the Bar at Threadgill's for music and readings from Jesse Sublett and readings from Jordan Harper and Les Edgerton. 

When we’re done there, Scott is going to drive me up to (or is that down to?) San Antonio where I’ll be the next eight days as a staff member for this year’s Writer’s Retreat Workshop. Scott’s going to hang with us there for a day or two so he can get the chance to hang with Joe Lansdale and the others. Still some openings if you’re interested. This is one of the premier writing retreats in the country! Below are some links and info about the annual event.

Writers Retreat Workshop 2016

WRW 2016       May 12 - 19
Oblate Retreat and Conference Center
Heart of San Antonio, TX

WRW 2016 Agents and Editors Yet TBA:

Author (8 Bram Stoker Awards, Edgar Award, etc) Joe Lansdale 
Author (Children of the Drought series) Arianne"Tex" Thompson
Author and Instructor Les Edgerton
Short Story Author and Instructor Matthew Brock

Author and Editor-in-Residence Carol Dougherty
WRW Program Director, author, instructor Jason Sitzes
WRW Coordinator Lisa Willars-Pirc 

Our History

The WRW story begins in June of 1987 in a Victorian retreat center tucked away in the sleepy countryside village of Woodstock, Connecticut. There, a small group of pre-published novelists and writers of narrative non-fiction gathered for the first Writers Retreat Workshop. Their purpose: to study with one of the leading teachers of writing for publication- Gary Provost, known to them as “The Writer's Writer.” And the purpose of the WRW: to teach these students all that Gary knew about the art, craft, and business of being a novelist.

"Until his untimely death in 1995 at the age of fifty, Gary Provost was arguably the leading teacher of writing in the United States.”—Writer's Digest Books

"When I planned our first WRW, I had an ideal vision of how the work sessions would go, but because we were doing this for the first time, naturally I worried. As it turned out, things went better than I had even hoped. The work sessions were lively, thoughtful, and constructive. The writers who came were all the serious-minded, dedicated people we had tried to reach. Though we enjoyed fun and good conversation each day, nobody forgot why we were there: to bring our books closer to publication. For me, it was exciting to see writers abandoning poor writing habits and breaking through to new levels of ability.

WRW was the most satisfying teaching experience of my career, and I believe that for the writers it was the most successful learning experience. Perhaps the best measure of last year's success is the fact that all of our writers continued to work on their books... and are in touch with each other still."--Gary Provost

For these serious writers, Gary simplified the complex with his unique blend of warmth, wit, and wisdom; creating an easy-to-absorb, step-by-step course that has become the hallmark of WRW instruction. He was a master communicator, and of his more than 24 published books covering most genres, seven were written specifically for writers. Included in that list are such top sellers as Writer’s Digest Books’ Make Every Word Count, Beyond Style: Mastering the Finer Points of Writing, Make Your Words Work, and the more recent How To Tell A Story: The Secrets of Writing Captivating Tales.

Because Gary Provost was an inspiration to writers around the globe, his sudden death in 1995 left the writing world shaken. At WRW, however, his indomitable spirit endures as his legacy lives on. Founded by Gary and Gail Provost to provide writing students with as much current nuts and bolts information as possible in the short amount of time, WRW continues to offer an abundance of advice, tips, and guidance; ensure a nurturing supportive environment free of “real life” distractions; and include a hearty dose of fun.

So, who are these WRW participants who feel compelled to attend these cherished opportunities to learn and grow as writers? They are dedicated students, committed to learning to improve their craft in order to publish their novels. Although they arrive at varying levels of ability and experience, all make dramatic leaps and leave WRW as far more confident writers. Without exception.

Oblate Retreat and Conference in the heart of San Antonio is the home of WRW. Your eight days of intensive learning, writing, workshops, ample 1-1 meetings with industry professionals, and making life-long memories will be held against the backdrop of a gorgeous Texas retreat center.

Co-founded in 1987 by the late Gary Provost (author and internationally acclaimed teacher of writing for publication) and his wife Gail, WRITERS RETREAT WORKSHOP is an intensive learning experience for small groups of serious-minded writers who are committed to improving and completing their novels for submission. For those who consider their writing to be a vital part of their lives, one they wish to develop as fully as possible, WRW provides the ideal experience.

Visit our photo page for past WRW events memorable moments. Read more about the history of the internationally acclaimed Writers Retreat Workshop.

What exactly happens at the Writers Retreat Workshop?

At WRW you will find a forum in which to express yourself and your creativity, your ambitions and fears. You will be made to feel at home so that nothing stands in the way of your success during the eight days.

This is a workshop, and you will work.

You'll attend class each morning and be taught WRW's in-depth, step-by-step course for crafting your novel, of any genre, for publication. This is not formulaic novel instruction. There is no such formula. Gary broke down novel structure scene-by-scene, dissected characters, taught how to choose words with impact, and shared many other fine details novelists must learn as second nature. Here, at WRW, we review these stylistic tools over and over throughout the week until you leave feeling equipped, inspired, and revitalized about your novel. We don't teach the art-- we teach the craft and instruct you on how to nurture the artist. Class instruction uses examples from classic to bestsellers of that day. Prior to the workshop you will be given a list of books used and a series of pre-workshop assignments. During the workshop you will be given assignments, then go back to your private room or one of the various outdoor spots to write. All work focuses on your novel, so while you work on your story's structure, our dedicated staff will be available to brainstorm with you on your plot. In small group sessions, while learning how to diagnose your own and others' style strengths and weaknesses, you'll also boost your editing skills.

Other optional activities include 7am Early Bird sessions, evening wine and appetizer Shop Talks (featuring agents, instructors, students, and authors), Book Signing night, 10pm Night Owl Sessions, and ample 1-1 opportunities with core and visiting staff. WRW is as close to an eight-day, 20+ hour workshop as you can get. It's unparalleled in what it offers. And most of all, if you want only a nice writing retreat in which you work on your book and socialize when needed-- it's that as well. The only request of new participants is that you attend the morning sessions based on Gary Provost's groundbreaking course-- and you'll want to anyway. WRW is immersion in the writing world whether you're writing genre, literary fiction, children's literature, memoirs, short stories, or any number of creative writing endeavors. That's why top agents and authors return year after year.

Assisting you throughout the eight days will be WRW mentors and In-Residence guests, including authors/agents/editors who will share with you the truth about today's publishing "business" and --when they meet with you -- how best to market your novel-in-progress.

Where and when is the next Writers Retreat Workshop?

WRW 2016  May 12 - 19
Oblate Retreat and Conference Center
San Antonio, TX

Rides from the San Antonio airport (very near the the retreat center) will be available.

Do I belong at the Writers Retreat Workshop?
The decision to attend the WRW should, of course, be a considered one. After all, it is an emotional and financial commitment that you will be making.

Over the years, we've found that the most important prerequisite for making that decision is the belief that you deserve to be there; that you deserve to make an investment in your future as a writer. By signing up, you are proclaiming that your writing is a vital part of your life, one that you wish to develop as fully as possible. You'll understand, intuitively, that attending the WRW will mean you'll be giving the best gift you can to yourself . . . a week filled with work-and-fun- crammed days of writing and learning.

The key criteria for a successful eight days is to keep an open mind and have a willingness to expand your horizons. Through classes, assignments, diagnostic sessions, feedback, guest speakers, discussion groups, readings, informal gatherings, movies, and more, you will learn more than you had ever dreamed was possible.

What should I expect from the experience?
First of all, that you'll make dramatic improvements in your writing, editing, story sense and marketing skills. Also, that you'll meet a group of people with the same dreams and aspirations. That you'll laugh a great deal. That you'll be well-fed, nurtured and challenged. Expect to give yourself wonderful stretches of time to do the work you are meant to do--write. Expect that you'll be welcomed into the growing WRW family. Expect that your dreams will be revitalized.

Here are some comments from some of our recent Writers Retreat Workshop participants.

"WRW is a unique blend of writing craft education, and the development/enrichment of the spiritual side of writing. Until this retreat, I never realized one suffered without the other. Since WRW, I’ve found a deeper creativity, and a confidence I never had before.  I’ve carried some of the spiritual practices into my daily writing routine and have become a richer writer as a result." - Joni, TX (2015)

"If you are a writer, and you want to be a published author, you need the best instruction, feedback, and information necessary to accomplish that goal. WRW is the place to get all three from well-placed and well-respected industry experts in a nurturing environment with members of your own tribe—the nation of writers." – Rick, NC (2015 and previous)

"I learned more about craft- about the elements of story structure and scene development in ten days than I have from years of reading writer's books and attending conferences. And I did it in a warm, supportive community in an idyllic setting. Can't beat that!" - Lynn, KY

"There is no value like this anywhere else that I've been able to find. The returns for the writer's time, money, and creative efforts are immense." - Marilyn, OH

"The perfect mix of classes and writing time. I'll be back fro my fourth year." - Lynn

"The first year gives you the nuts and bolts. Returning provides more of the tools needed to build and create your story." - Kathy, Maine

"Always dreamed of spending time with other writers, just honing your craft and sharing creative ideas? WRW gives you the luxury of doing just that." - Pam

"WRW creates a new world for the writer's pen." - Brian, Seattle

I want to sign up. What should I do?
First- Feel free to email us. Request any information you need.

To participate in the WRITERS RETREAT WORKSHOP, visit the registration page.

Tuition for the 2016 session is as follows and all rooms are private with private bathrooms. 

Tuition for WRW includes: One on one consultations with all staff members, three excellent meals daily with fruit, beverages, and snacks available 24/8, nightly Shop Talk wine and beverage, your private room with private bathroom, all classes, and classroom materials. Probably more.

Everything but your transportation costs to the retreat center. There are a limited number of rooms, so you must send at least a deposit to hold your room. If you would like to make your full payment, or your deposit (second payment of $600 due two months before workshop, and the final payment of $600 due one month before workshop) by mail, send payment along with your name, address, e-mail, phone numbers (daytime, evening, fax), and a one-page summary of your novel-in-progress.

Our address is:
Writers Retreat Workshop
PO Box 170657
Austin, TX 78717

Hope to see some of you at these events!

Blue skies,

Monday, March 21, 2016

My new novel, BOMB, released today!

Hi folks,

Big day at our house! My newest novel, BOMB, was just released from Gutter Press. Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford and the gang there did a bang-up job! It's already gotten two great reviews and we're expecting more. To order, just click on the cover image. It's available both as a paperback and as an ebook.

Dieter Kalteis just posted a great review as the guest editor for Crime Syndicate Magazine, a great honor. Check it out at

My good buddy, Elaine Ash (Anonymous 9) also posted a great write-up at

Hope you glom onto the book and enjoy the read.

Blue skies,

Saturday, March 19, 2016

New Book Comes Out on Wednesday, March 23

Hi folks,

My newest novel, BOMB, will be released next Wednesday, March 23, from Gutter Press. Don't have a link yet but will post it when I do. Just go to Amazon and it'll be there! I think you'll enjoy the read.

(Just click on it to enlarge the photo)

Personal news: Just got back from four days spent in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I was conducting interviews with Jerry Ford, the founder and owner of the baseball scouting organization, Perfect Game USA, for material for an updated version of my book by the same name.

Got home and discovered I'd forgotten about a workshop I'm to do Sunday on story beginnings for the Indiana Writer's Center in Indianapolis, but am excited to go.

Blue skies,

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Hi folks,

Have I got a humdinger of a book to recommend to you!

Review—Anthony Neil Smith’s HOLY DEATH

Gotta front this with a bit of a disclaimer. Anthony Neil “Doc” Smith is a good, good friend as evidenced by the dedication of this book… to moi! This is without a doubt one of the biggest and most cherished honors I’ve ever received as a writer. Neil is one of my biggest heroes and in my opinion, one of the best writers churning out stuff today. All that said, all I can say is this book is one helluva wild ride.

Most of us writers take from our own lives to furnish the populations of our books. Billy Lafitte in HOLY DEATH is one of the best examples of such. Neil Smith suffered a major heart attack and nearly died before he recovered to write this book and then he did what any writer worth his salt almost always does—turned a truly horrifying and dark personal experience into the gold of literature. It’s what we do, and Neil does it perhaps better than anyone I know. Billy Lafitte is the baddest ass of all time, just as Neil Smith is one of the baddest ass writers I know. There are great characters in thrillers and noir, and while I greatly enjoy following the exploits of a guy like Jack Reacher, I frickin’ LOVE following the adventures of Billy. That’s because the situations he gets himself into more closely resemble the places and are peopled more by the people I know and have interacted with. In other words, Billy is a totally real guy. Just badder than most real guys. He doesn’t posture, he doesn’t come up with tricky karate moves, he doesn’t leap from tall building to tall building; he just kicks major ass while in the middle of an ongoing major heart attack. He’s like a fricking cockroach—you can’t kill the guy. He reminds me so much of guys I used to run with and who I was in the joint with. Just no quit in ‘em. It’s the nature of us hillbillies—they just don’t quit when they’re in a fight.

I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. There’s not a single page that you’re not racing to read to get to the next. It gets dark quickly, and then darker, and then even darker, and just when you think it couldn’t get an iota bleaker… the lights all go out and that’s when the real blackness kicks in. I’ll use this novel to show my students how to create tension.

And, how to write real-life sex scenes. Like everything else in this novel the sex itself is down and dirty and the way it goes down in the mean streets. Nothing like it that I know of in most of the books I read. I’m pretty sure Georgette Heyer didn’t have folks like this between her covers. Love is in here as well—love of the sort that real people experience. The love of a man for a woman who will grant her the grace of death out of that love.

Not to give away spoilers, but my biggest fear was that Billy was going to end up dead. That he doesn’t and that there’s yet another novel coming with him is the best news of all.

Neil was at his absolute lowest point when we talked and he tells me I convinced him to keep going with this series. I’m so damned glad he did. This is a masterpiece. Get it and read it—I guarantee you I wouldn’t steer you wrong on this.

Then, when you finish this one, you’ll find yourself back at the bookstore or on Amazon, about to buy all of the Billy Lafitte novels. I’ll lay odds on that.

Blue skies,

Friday, February 26, 2016


Hi folks,

I've been editing my memoir preparatory to my agent sending it out and intended to do some cutting, but instead added a bit to it. I've left a lot out but this bit was interesting I thought, so am including it. It's near the end of the saga, right after Mary and I got married and we moved back to New Orleans.

Hope you get a kick out of it.

            We moved to New Orleans shortly after we got married. We found a duplex apartment on Burthe near the Camelia Grill and Mary got a job at David DeLong’s salon a block away and I got a job at Busta’s at the Fairmont (Hotel) down in the CBD. I got to ride the streetcar to and from work each day and it was wonderful.
            We had a weird experience the first weekend we were in town. Just about broke, we decided to drive down to Grand Isle on the Gulf which I was familiar with—my Uncle Buddy before he passed away had a vacation home there and we used to visit all the time. Our plan was to do some crabbing and enjoy the sun and surf. It was a holiday weekend, Labor Day.
            A block away from our apartment, I discovered I’d left my billfold at home. We were already running late, so I decided not to turn back. That turned out to be a big mistake.
            On the way down is a town called Golden Meadow. There was a famous bakery there that I wanted to show Mary. When I was a kid, we used to visit it and they were famous all over the world—even shipping their goods to Paris. Golden Meadow also had another claim to fame. They were the site of a well-known speed trap. Since the oil bust a few years back, the town had fallen upon hard times and to make money the police department had set up a speed trap for unsuspecting tourists that had been publicized in New Orleans. A reporter had gone undercover and exposed the scam and we’d just seen the TV report. Just before the bakery, the speed limit was 35 mph which I was careful to observe, remembering the report. We went in. Mary was impressed and we bought some rolls and other things and then came out to our car.
            We jumped in and again, I was mindful of the speed limit. What I didn’t notice was a new speed limit sign just on the edge of the bakery property. That one lowered the limit to twenty mph. A block away down the road, there was an old clunker parked by the side of the road and an old guy in front of it on the road, waving his arms. Figuring he had car trouble, I pulled over to give him a hand.
            As soon as I approached him, he pulled out a gun from behind his back and stated he was a cop and had me lie down on the road where he cuffed me. For speeding. Out of nowhere, another car, this time a clearly-marked patrol car, appeared. I was put in the back seat and the uniformed cop told Mary to follow us to the police station.
            Some shit, huh?
            When we got there, the police chief who turned out to be the old guy I’d stopped to help, told Mary my fine would be a hundred dollars for both the speeding ticket and the fact that I didn’t have a driver’s license on me and that I wouldn’t be released until it was paid. We didn’t have a credit card and didn’t have enough money on us to pay the fine. We had a book of checks but they were from a Ft.Wayne bank and we hadn’t yet had time to open a New Orleans’ account and he wouldn’t take an out-of-state check. He said Mary would have to find someone to cash a check.
            Mary’s face was absolutely white. She had no idea where we were and her sense of direction was… how do I say this?... flawed, so I wasn’t sure she could even find her way back if she went very far. I think she was thinking the same thing.
            She left and I’m sitting there on a chair as the chief began taking info from me. When he got his paperwork done, he told me to stand up and follow him back to the cells. Another cop came out from some room and asked the guy if he was going to shake me down.
            “Nah,” the guy said. “I don’t think he’s got a hand grenade on him, do you?” If I had, it would have been hard to hide. I was wearing a t-shirt and a pair of cutoffs and flip-flops. He turned to me and said, “You don’t have a hand grenade on you, do you?” He was laughing.
            “Not this time,” I said. I wasn’t smiling.
            Neither was he. The guy came unglued and walked over and got me in a hold and the other cop came over and shook me down. “That isn’t funny,” the chief said. “Last week we arrested a guy and he did have a hand grenade on him.”
            They took me back to a holding cell and I sat there for three hours. Mary finally returned just when I’d about given up hope of ever seeing her again. She had the money and paid my fine and we left. Just turned around and went back home.
            On the way she told me why it took so long. She’d had to drive around to a bunch of little towns around Golden Meadow to try and find a place to cash a check. Most places were closed because of the holiday and the few she found wouldn’t cash a check from Indiana. Finally, when she’d just about given up, she said a manager at a supermarket had taken pity on her and cashed one for her. She might have been crying at that point, though she never admitted to that.
            A week later, we had another “adventure.” I snagged a job at Busta’s after going through a couple of interviews with him and submitting my resume. It was a great salon in a great hotel. The salon was just across the hall from the famous Sazerac bar and just down the block-long hall from the famous Blue Room. The rumor at the time was that Frank Sinatra kept a suite there with a year-long lease for $10,000 a night and rarely visited it.
            There was a front—page news story going on at the time about a murder trial involving furniture magnate Aaron Mintz who had discovered his dead wife one morning along with his mistress. It seemed clear it wasn’t the suicide Mintz claimed since she was found with the gun in her hand… what made suicide clearly not the cause of her death was that the gun was found in her right hand and she was left-handed… and she’d shot through a pillow Mintz’s legal team claimed she’d placed over her own head before pulling the trigger. I guess out of consideration that she wouldn’t wake anyone…
            Well, after I set up my tools and met some of the staff, a gorgeous young woman with long blonde hair swept into the salon, tossed the receptionist her fur coat and sat down in my chair.
            “Hi, Les,” she said.
            It turned out she was my first client.
            I wondered how she knew my name and that got cleared up quickly. She was Ruth-Ann Munitis, the aforementioned Aaron Mintz’s mistress. Ruth-Ann was also reputed to have been Dutch Morial’s mistress before hooking up with Mintz.
            She started talking to me like I knew all of these things—which I didn’t and only learned later. She told me she was taking over the salon from Busta and had read my resume and was going to need a salon manager and thought I had the kind of qualifications she would be looking for.
            In a daze, I excused myself from her and went to the back room where Busta was and told him what she was saying. He clued me in with the short version. That she’d bailed him out a few months ago when he was heavily into debt for cocaine and gambling debts and had become his financial partner. Then, things started going south, he said. She began taking over more and more of the salon and the last straw was when she told him she wanted all the stylists to start wearing tuxedos when we worked. At that point, he tried to pull out of the partnership, but she wasn’t standing for that and had her lawyers trying to take over and he had his lawyers fighting all that. Each night after the salon closed, he would take the appointment book and all the client records home with him so she couldn’t steal those and lock him out.
            It was just a total clusterfuck. And here I was, first day on the job, and right smack in the middle of it. He advised me to keep on her good side as she might win and I’d need a job.
            I didn’t know what to do. It ended up, I went back to her and told her I needed time to get up to speed on everything so if she’d be so kind I’d appreciate it if she had someone else cut her hair.
            That night, I told Mary all that was going on and she was in a daze. New Orleans was turning out to be very different from Ft.Wayne!
            The upshot was, I kept on working for Busta for another few weeks and Ruth-Ann would waylay me when I left for the day and I kept putting her off for a decision. The decision wasn ‘t hard—I mean this was the mistress of a mob-connected guy and it looked obvious she’d taken part in the murder of her boyfriend’s wife. I could get a glimpse of my future with her and it didn’t look rosy.
            Finally, I had to quit. I hated to since I really liked Busta and the salon, but then Mintz got acquitted and Ruth Ann got even bolder and it was time to boogie on down the road. Turns out Mintz was mob-connected also, as a few years later he got convicted in a mob scheme to steal from the Las Vegas gambling company Bally’s.
            From there, I got a job at the Uptown Square salon and that had another twist to it. Then-governor Edward Edwards used to come to New Orleans periodically, and bring his wife. When he came, he’d rent two adjoining suites in a good hotel and he and his wife would bunk in one of them with the other suite reserved for one of his many mistresses. All of that was quite open. In fact, they did a local documentary on Edward’s philandering and interviewed his wife who was blunt about it. Yes, she said, she was very aware that he kept mistresses and she was friends with almost all of them. It’s just the “Louisiana way” she said and it was.
            Well, I got involved with all that inadvertently. It turns out one of Edwards’ favorite girlfriends was a fellow stylist at Uptown Square. Whenever he and his wife came to town, she was one of the ones he’d call. When that happened, she’d just take the weekend off and the clients on her book would go to the junior stylist. Who was moi. In addition to my own clients, I had to take care of hers as well. I was humping my ass off to take care of a double load. Thanks, Guv…

            Stuff like that kept happening and I’m pretty sure Mary was kind of freaked out at the kind of town New Orleans was proving to be. I loved it, but I was an adrenaline junkie. That didn’t describe Mary so much…

I love New Orleans and miss the excitement that was always ongoing!

Hope you enjoy this small excerpt and will want to buy the whole enchilada when it comes out. Right now, the working title is RENTING SPACE IN MY HEAD, but that could change...

Blue skies,

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Joe Lansdale on the Sundance channel with Hap and Leonard.

Hi folks,

Joe Lansdale just sent me this link with a preview of the upcoming Sundance channel series based on his characters Hap and Leonard. Looks like an absolute winner! And, barring unforseen circumstances, Joe's planning on attending this year's WRW in May in San Antonio and I can't wait!

Check it out at

Blue skies,

Monday, February 1, 2016

Martin Stanley Review of THE RAPIST

A new review of "The Rapist" by English author, Martin Stanley

"Original and brave. And recommended for those with a strong stomach and an open mind."