Novel #3: The Reach of the Banyan Tree – Coming Soon!

It’s done.

I spent the last couple of weeks working on a final revision for my third novel “The Reach of the Banyan Tree”.

I’ve received some helpful feedback from my beta readers.

I’ve received back an awesome cover from a friend designer of mine.

I’ve read and re-read it many times.

Now it is ready for my editor/proofreader to put the finishing touches on it.

It’s my longest novel, clocking in at just under 80,000. It’s the novel that’s been in the works for the past twelve years. I’m so excited to get it out there.

Estimated time of release: July 1, 2014.

Stay tuned, and thanks for your support.

BTW: the cover reveal will happen within the next 6 weeks. Can’t wait!


Here’s the first lines that the reader will read in my new novel:

“A banyan tree sees all, knows all, and keeps many secrets. It knows a time of bondage and a time of freedom. Its reach never stops; it keeps growing and expanding regardless of circumstances, regardless of difficulties. Time and destiny are on its side. In the end, the grand banyan tree, with its thirty-foot expanse, will once again sense order restored to the universe.”

Nguyen Van Vinh, 1945, French Indochina


I haven’t always been good about keeping goals.

Let’s not do the New Year’s Resolution thing, all right? Plenty of failure there.

But I’ve noticed something. The goals I tend to reach are the ones that I’m the most passionate about. Co-incidence? I think not.

Intentions are great, but without action they are empty winter branches swaying in the wind. (Don’t worry. I don’t really know what that means either.)

About fifteen years ago, a friend asked if there was something that I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 40. (About 10 years into the future.)

My only response was this: I want to write a book.

I didn’t care what book. I had nothing in mind. I just wanted to write a book. It was my goal. Did I reach it? Well, almost.

I didn’t realize this at the time, but I finished writing my very first play (with a group of students – still unpublished, by the way) in December 2007 – two months after I turned 40. A full-length play is kind of like a book, right?

After that, each year I wrote another play until I wrote a novella based on one of those plays in December 2010. Once that was complete, I felt ready to try and tackle my first novel, which I did in the summer of 2011 – Beauty Rising. Summer of 2012 – The Recluse Storyteller. Summer of 2013 – The Reach of the Banyan Tree. 2014 – I have two more ready to go.

It has been really satisfying for me to have not only reached my goal but sped on past it. Writing has certainly become a passion of mine, and I hope it will always continues.

In the meantime, other goals have come and gone without ever reaching the goal lines. Some goals I’ll never accomplish, but I remain focused on the ones that mean the most to me.

What goals do you have? Find your passion and you probably will reach them. And don’t ever be disappointed by not reaching your goal before an arbitrary date which ultimately has no meaning. Keep striving for what you want. You may be surprised at how much your dedication to your passion one day pays off.

The Recluse Storyteller: Introducing the Characters, Part II

With only five days left until release, let’s look at the rest of the main characters. Missed the first post in this series? Check it out here: HERE!

Reverend Davies: He was the former pastor and friend of Margaret’s mother before she died. He has sent notes and cards to Margaret over the years trying to stay in touch. But he has no idea what the recluse storyteller really has in store for him.

HIS CHARACTER INSPIRES THE CHARACTER OF: Reverend Taylor – From Margaret’s story “The Ridge.”  Reverend Taylor travels back to Vietnam to the small village of To Hap to confront the demons of his past. He travels with his daughter, hoping to put some closure on the painful life chapter of the Vietnam War. It turns out that he only knows part of the story.

SAM & PAM – The Johnson Twins who live down the hall from Margaret. Margaret is mesmerized by them, always spying on them through the cracked door. Sam likes to take risks and does so by being drawn into listening to Margaret’s storytelling. Pam reluctantly joins her. After all, it includes free ice cream.

THE TWINS INSPIRE THE CHARACTERS: Georgia and Gwen – from Margaret’s story “The Mark Across the Sky.” These twins live on the rolling prairie hills of 19th century America. They desire their father to return home from a long journey that has taken its toll on their mother, who has to care for their baby brother. When Georgia sees a strange mark across a morning sky, she’s convinced that it is a sign that their father is returning that day. She talks Gwen into travelling up to the top of Harper’s Hill to look out over the horizon, waiting their father’s return. But when they reach the peak and the lonely crab apple tree at the top, they are not ready for what they will find.

Story on top of story begin to weave back and forth, bringing the Margaret’s real-life neighbors into contact with the fictional characters she constantly tells about.

Are you ready for a fun ride?

The Recluse Storyteller: Releasing October 8 on Kindle, Nook, Apple iBooks, & Paperback.

The Recluse Storyteller on Goodreads!


recluse storyteller cover med

The Recluse Storyteller: Meet the Characters, Part I

With one week left before the release of my second novel, I’m pleased to introduce some of the fun and unique characters you’ll meet on this journey. 

Margaret: The recluse who tells stories based on her neighbors.

Michael Cheevers: The jolly loner who lives beside Margaret. He wears a red baseball cap and mainly keeps to himself. But Margaret knows more about him than he thinks.

CHARACTER INSPIRED BY CHEEVERS: Red Hat – The terrorist, who seems to have a mysterious scheme to accomplish but keeps being sidetracked by bizarre things like flying flower pots and yoghurt trucks.

Mrs. Trumble: The snooty neighbor across from Margaret who gets her hand caught in Margaret’s door when trying to return a piece of mis-delivered mail. She declares Margaret a menace and wants her put away.

Janice: Margaret’s aunt, who looks in on her from time to time. She doesn’t know what to do with Margaret, who seemingly keeps slipping away from reality into her stories.

CHARACTER INSPIRED BY JANICE: Janice. In Margaret’s stories, Janice pierces incessantly into the blinding light coming towards her, ready to sacrifice everything for the light.

Priscilla and Florence. In Margaret’s story called Red Hat, they are the hilarious elderly sisters who accidentally drop a flower-pot on Red Hat’s head. This, of course, slows him down.

Chester Tomsey. Chester is Margaret’s boss. He sends work to Margaret over the Internet and she completes various manuals and projects for him in order to make a living. When Margaret’s stories start to affect her work, he does all he can to stop Mrs. Trumble’s witch hunt.

And I’ll even throw in a couple of places:

The Village of To Hap – In Margaret’s story called “The Ridge”, a former Vietnam vet, looking for peace of mind, returns to the Vietnamese village of To Hap where a horrific incident happened during the Vietnam War.

Harper’s Hill (19th century American Midwest) – In Margaret’s story called “The Mark Across the Sky”, the young girl, Georgia, sees a strange mark in the sky. She’s convinced that it means her father is coming home. She encourages her sister to trek to the top of Harper’s Hill, to the lonely crab apple tree, hopeful to witness her father’s return. But she could have never expected to find what she finds.

Tomorrow: Meet Reverend Davies, Reverend Taylor, Mrs. Johnson & her twin girls Sam & Pam. Georgia & Gwen.

PRE-RELEASE SALE CONTINUES UNTIL OCTOBER 7. Save $1 on ebook pre-orders at Apple iBookstores, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

recluse storyteller cover med


It’s here! Proof of The Recluse Storyteller




I’m getting super excited! It’s almost here. What is here is the proof copy of the paperback. It’s looking great. A few adjustments and it will be ready for the October 8 release. I can’t wait to finally get it out there. Coming soon to an on-line bookstore near you!
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The Recluse Storyteller: A Long Synopsis

I’m very excited about the release of my second novel in a little more than a month. So much to do! Here’s my first long synopsis of the novel. Hopefully, it will intrigue you enough to check it out when it releases. Your comments are appreciated. Thanks.

Red Hat hijacks a yoghurt truck and barrels into the Chester Walz Bank at full speed, desperate to open a safety deposit box. 

The twins, beckoned by an ominous streak of light across the sky, climb Harper’s Hill to encounter an apparition of their missing father. 

The reverend stands on a muddy ridge, the barrel of a rifle in his neck, looking down on a Vietnamese village, scarred by war and regret. 

The stories come to Margaret at all times, but they are anything but random. A fractured view of Michael Cheevers’ red hat through a discreetly cracked door sends her off on adventure. A glimpse of the Johnson twins from apartment 2D takes her to the lonely hill on a Midwestern prairie in 1887. The regular letters from Reverend Davies, who has tried to look after Margaret since the death of her mother, brings her to the brink of exhaustion, staring intensely into the heart of war deep in the jungle of Vietnam.

Margaret is not insane, at least not in a clinical sense. She’s like a midnight raccoon, painfully aware of her surroundings, gleaming crumbs of information at every turn; eyes peering incessantly in the night, stealing glances of neighbors behind partially opened doors.

But the tales that she weaves were not meant to merely hold empty court to the receptive dead air of her apartment. Her stories were meant to embolden the lives of the inhabitants of that drab apartment block because her story is also their story—and everything would be different if they could only hear her stories.

The Recluse Storyteller weaves five stories into one as the loner Margaret not only searches for meaning from her reclusive life, but also gives meaning in the most unexpected ways to the troubled souls of her apartment complex. Part adventure, part tragedy, and part discovery, The Recluse Storyteller bridges genres, bringing hope, life, and redemption to the broken relationships of modern society.

A Failed Novel Resurrects Itself

Put this one in the category of never giving up on a project.

About 10-12 years ago I got up the gumption to write a novel – something I had never attempted before. I had a certain premise in mind, 3 generations of Americans who had somehow been affected by Vietnam – one at the tail end of WWII, the other during the Vietnam War, and the third in modern day Vietnam. I even fleshed out the opening scene which would help thrust the story into action, a tragic accident upon which the rest of the story would hinge. It was perfect in my mind, and so I tried.

I wrote the opening few pages of the first chapter. And then I stopped.

I reread it. Left it alone awhile. Reread it again. Left it alone. Again and again until I finally realized that it wasn’t going anywhere, and so I abandoned it.

That was a failure. Or was it?

Fast forward ten years, and after I had written Beauty Rising, I knew I wanted to attempt a second novel before I ever published or did anything with my first. I wanted to prove to myself that it wasn’t a fluke. And so I sat down to try and resurrect that failed novel, but as I began to ponder my options, an image of a man in a red hat captured my mind, which sent me down a very unexpected path leading to my second novel, The Recluse Storyteller – now only a month and a week away from release!

But before I released The Recluse, I wanted to write my third – you know the drill. I wanted to prove that number one and number two weren’t flukes. And suddenly, what do you know? That original novel idea bloomed.

It flowed. My original opening scene was pushed back another 15,000 words to better set the scene. The three generations of Americans just fell into place and within two months the story was finished – my longest novel to date entitled The Reach of the Banyan Tree.

So here are a couple things I learned:

  • Starting a project in which I fail is not a failure.
  • Failed projects just might need more time to prove themselves.
  • Go where the words take you.
  • Be patient.
  • Enjoy.
  • And lastly, I love writing.

Thank you, failed novel. I hope that 2014 will bring you success after twelve years. But I realize now that you are not late at all.

Beauty Rising Featured in Western PA Newspaper!

Growing up outside of Butler, PA, “The Butler Eagle” was our source of daily news. It was fun to have my novel recently featured in the paper I grew up reading — and the paper my parents still read! (Ironically, my parents, who read it front to back daily, missed the article and had to be notified by my brother who immediately saw it and called my parents.) Here’s a copy of the print version.

Butler Eagle Article