Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Next Big Thing

And now it's time to discuss my Next Big Thing. This is part of a blog series focusing on authors' newest projects. I was invited by Stacy Juba, and you can learn about her new project here. In my case, November is the most appropriate month to do this post, since I am a regular participant in NaNoWriMo. Don't worry, it'll get edited before it's ever submitted to a publisher or beta readers.

What is the working title of your book?
Murder on the Mullet Express.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Gwen Mayo and I have written some short stories together about the adventures of two retired WWI nurses, Cornelia Pettijohn and Theodora "Teddy" Lawless. This is our first novel with these characters. The book also features Professor Pettijohn, Cornelia's uncle. He is a retired engineering professor, inventor, and gadget enthusiast.

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical mystery with a strong dash of comedy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Margaret Rutherford and Betty White. Sadly, Rutherford is no longer with us. Elaine Stritch is a possibility. Professor Pettijohn... Ed Asner or Richard Attenborough. Someone sharp who played Santa Claus.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Three geezers go to Florida to find a winter home and get tangled in a murder plot when they take The Mullet Express.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Our first novels didn't fit either of these categories. Not sure what will happen with this tale, but I'm open-minded.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
(Maniacal laughter) I don't do drafts, I do timeline revisions. I save the previous documents as incomplete alternate histories. Once I have a complete timeline, I fix errors.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Some of the Victoria Trumbull books by Cynthia Riggs might make a good comparison, especially Shooting Star.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My great-great aunt was a nurse who served in WWI, and suffered lung damage from mustard gas. She never married, belonged to the DAR, and traveled round the country to meet the cousins she discovered in her genealogical research. She was an active birdwatcher and, according to everything I've ever heard, stubborn as hell. I've drawn from these aspects for the characters of Cornelia and Teddy.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There have been very few fiction works published about Homosassa Springs. I know, because I've looked. We also take advantage of some other underrepresented items: Florida's land boom (and bust) along the Gulf Coast, and organized crime in the Tampa Bay area. You hear a lot about Al Capone in Miami during the 30s, but Charlie Wall was a major figure in Tampa during the 20s.

The nurses in our story are also a couple. Readers looking for LBGT characters, especially senior ones, might find the characters interesting.

Now tagging Next Big Thing entries for:

Pamela Turner
S.D. Bancroft
Cheri Crystal
Lynn Crain

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Preview of Coming Attractions

It will come as no surprise to regular readers that, once again, I am participating in NaNoWriMo. I've participated every year since 2005. I've never 'won' by writing the requisite 50,000 words, but November is always my most productive month now.

Usually, NNWM just ups my word count on whatever my current WIP is, but this year I will be starting a new novel with the 'regular' participants. How is it different? Glad you asked. Okay, maybe you didn't ask. This novel is a collaborative effort. I'm writing in conjunction with my wife, Gwen Mayo.

During NNWM, Gwen will be finishing up the sequel to Circle of Dishonor while I start work on the joint novel. We've been doing research on locations and history for the last month (you can read more about that here). It will be a mystery novel, and will be set in Florida. Our heroes aren't characters from either of our novels, but we've written a couple of short stories with them and one tale, at least, has been accepted for a 2013 anthology.

In other news: I will be featuring at least one author interview in the near future, plus, I hope, more frequent posting. This has been a long, difficult year for me. 2011 was one of the best years in my life; 2012 has been one of the worst.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Encomium: Frank C. Glenn Jr.

In the Fifties, Frank Glenn planned to join the Navy. Instead, his favorite teacher at Asheville High School told him was too smart not to go to college. She helped him get a scholarship to Wake Forest University. He met his wife, Kassiani ('Kathy'), just before graduating in 1961 and married her three weeks later. He waited until after the wedding to buy her glasses.

After the children arrived, Frank had to get a real job. He worked for Science Research Associates for several years selling educational materials to schools. During his career, his territories included five states and the military, and he earned a masters’ degree in education from the University of Tennessee. He spent the longest time of his employed years living in Lexington, Kentucky, where he was a deacon and firebrand at Central Baptist Church.

In 1994, Frank took early retirement and began his real work. He and his wife became missionaries for the United Church of Christ at Silliman University in the Philippines, where Frank taught Old Testament and Kathy taught social work. Their special projects were raising money to run water pipes to mountain to villages in desperate need of water, and founding the “One Church, One Child” foster care project.

His lifelong hobbies were music, politics, and religion. He was fondest of Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. He was an active member of the Democratic Party and worked to support local candidates in the places where he lived, especially after his second retirement to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Religious discussions were where he excelled, however. The discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library spurred a lifelong interest in gnosticism. Later, he became a follower of John Dominic Crossan and involved with The Jesus Seminar.

Of all his achievements, he was proudest of participating in the 1960 Woolworth’s sit-ins in Winston-Salem. He was in the divinity school at Wake Forest at the time, and braved a riot on an issue of fairness and principle.

Frank Glenn passed away in Tarpon Springs on September 11th, 2012, due to complications from sarcoidosis (diagnosed in 1979) and pulmonary hypertension (diagnosed in 2005). He was under hospice care for the last six weeks of his life, during which he paid for his green burial, planned his own memorial celebration, and commissioned an elegy from Gwen Mayo (she agreed after informing him that the deceased got no editorial rights). Frank also wrote a final address to the congregation, which his daughter read at the service.

He is survived by his wife, Kassiani Glenn, and his brother, Ted (Freda) Glenn. He is also survived by his children, Sarah (Gwen) Glenn, Joel (Kathryn) Glenn, his Filipino son Phyns Fabrigar Patalinghug, adopted daughter Deborah (Stan) Karbo, grandchildren Christy McMillen, Aimée Karbo, Suzi Karbo, Travis Karbo, Charlie Karbo, Olivia Karbo, and great-grandchildren Shawn Brown and Hunter McMillen. He is also survived by his godchildren of the Andog family: Shian Mae, Kassiani, Franklenn, and Josémarie. Finally, he is survived by his uncle Jack (Eva) Glenn, his daughters Deborah, Jacque, Tina, and Vixi Jill, and their children.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ennui and Thanatos

The last few months have been very difficult ones. My father's health has continued to decline. He was hospitalized again earlier this month, and Hospice is now helping us care for him. The doctors say there is little more they can throw at his various ailments.

The disintegration of his body is echoed by the disintegration of my psyche. I had a job where I was liked, a house, a novel to sell, friends I could visit in person, and an extended writing community I enjoyed. I sold the house, moved away from my job and friends, and have been unemployed until this week. Today, I began a temp job that lasts for a couple of weeks. Employment has been long-desired by me and, I hope, will lend me a little sanity along with the ability to pay down debts.

Television dramas about dying family members are usually sentimental and depict families tearfully coming together and ironing out their differences. It's not like that in my experience; my parents still shout at each other daily over items that mostly have no consequence while the elephant languishes in the corner. We don't go out much. We watch a lot of television, prepare food, pick things up around my bedridden father, and make small talk.

We are sitting around waiting for Dad to die.

I need to redo the bio on my Web page. I only wish I knew who I am now. My days are filled with Murder She Wrote episodes on Netflix, arranging my father's medications, calling the hospice people, interacting online with Dad's friends, and - most recently - working on his burial arrangements.

My online writing friends think I should have plenty of time to write. Unfortunately, writing is something I have to work the nerve up to do under the best of circumstances. Right now, even thinking about working on fiction makes me want to cry. My words have scattered to the far winds and I wonder if they will ever blow home, rolling like the sea foam does across the causeway.

I'm reading, but not always easily. My concentration varies with Dad's condition. His health varies from day to day, as do his moods. Some days, he is the father I love. Other days, he is bitter, fussy, angry, and fearful. I have at least one book I want to review, but once again words fail me.

The only writing work I'm doing, in fact, is typing up his memoirs. He has designed many Bible lessons but has only rarely attempted expository writing. His writing still reflects his desire to teach, but some of the content is more personal. I'd often suggested he try his hand at writing a book on religion; this may be as close as he comes.

The new job gives me something real, fresh to talk about with him, a new avenue of small talk that helps diverts us both from the truth: we are waiting for death.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Review: The Architect

The Architect
The Architect by Keith Ablow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

West Crosse is an architect par excellence, a man of enormous creative vision and sensitivity to the needs of his wealthy clients. This is especially true of the homes he designs for families - anticipating both current and future needs. They are creations of light and space, temples to truth and beauty. Crosse is a man of high ideals.

But I wouldn't want him to design a house for me.

Crosse goes beyond planning perfect homes for his clients, you see. He also plans perfect lives for them. If a member of the family is an obstacle to the happiness and growth of the family, Crosse removes that person... and he finds one in each family he works for. An abusive husband, a wife who doesn't want children, a daughter with a drug problem - all of them must die for the good of the family.

Forensic psychiatrist Frank Clevenger is put on the case after the President of the United States begins receiving fan mail from the unsub who has been killing and surgically dissecting wealthy people across the country. Clevenger is beset by personal problems: his love life has taken a downturn, and his continuing problems with his adopted son Billy often steal the stage from the visionary killer on a mission from God. Fighting his alcoholism becomes harder and harder, and finally he begins prescribing Antabuse for himself to prevent falling into the pit for good.
In contrast, the families he meets during his investigation seem to be coming out of their own dark times. They seem calm, even happy... and even relieved at the death of their loved one, though they don't say so out loud. It makes investigating... interesting and nonrewarding at the same time.

I've read several books of Ablow's, and this one was an enormous pleasure to read. Crosse's sense of beauty and clean proportions take him out of the bounds of the 'average' serial killer, while Clevenger's personal life becomes a messy disaster. There are no simple solutions in our hero's world, and he's not going to get them in this novel. For Crosse, though, the mission is clear, and there is no hesitation in his actions. The consequences are horrible. If a movie were made of this book, Hollywood would have to alter the ending. The audience would not accept it.

A side note: the Skull and Bones group of Yale gets a lot of attention in this novel. Crosse belongs to it, and uses its connection to get contracts with the high and mighty. President Buckley (an excellent choice of names) is a member and, given the book's 2005 publication date, was probably meant to draw comparisons to George W. Bush. Ablow casts no aspersions on the Bonesmen, political or otherwise. Membership simply makes them more vulnerable to trusting The Architect and less likely to talk to investigators about other potential victims.

View all my reviews

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Case of the Melting Caretaker Brain

My brain is melting.

It's been roughly six weeks since my wife and I left our jobs and moved down here to help care for my father, and, little by little, my brain is melting away. It's not all due to the Florida heat, either.

I have fallen behind in posting my #wws and #ffs on Twitter. I plan to read books to my wife after my parents go to bed, but instead I collapse in front of the TV or harvest imaginary crops on Castleville. I sort out my dad's pills and handle his refills, but forget to take my own meds OR give my wife hers, either.

My life used to be highly structured. Weekdays: Get up, go to the office, have lunch, work again, go home, fart around on the Internet, watch TV, complain to my wife that I should be writing. Weekends: Sleep later unless at a con, run errands unless at a con, write, promote books, fart around...

There is very little structure here. We exist at the demands of my father's daily needs and, to a certain extent, my mother's as well. These change from day to day and week to week. Mom needs someone to haul the trash to the curb. Dad needs help transferring from the wheelchair to his recliner. Nurses and therapists must be shown in. Prescriptions must be refilled and picked up. Bess has proved to be an enormous asset, hauling the family to doctor's appointments and carrying tanks and wheelchairs in the back.

I take Mom out for walks to help her manage her diabetes. I take my wife out for walks to help her manage her cabin fever: as the expert on the oxygen equipment, she rarely gets to leave the house.

Writing? Every time I begin to string two thoughts together, someone here asks me to do something. For example, Dad just asked me if I could trim his nails. He has to be careful not to cut himself due to the Coumadin. I'll do it later.

If I remember.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where the Hell Did I Go?

It's been a long damned time since my last post.... because a lot has happened since, and it hasn't been good.

My father, who has sarcoidosis and pulmonary hypertension, collapsed at the end of February. The EMTs were able to stabilize and transport him to the hospital, but he will need care for the rest of his life. My mother, who has arthritis of the spine and diabetes, was unable to do this on her own.

Instead of them going to assisted care (more likely a nursing home for my father's needs), Gwen Mayo and I quit our jobs and moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida. Yes, we had a mortgage. Yes, we had years of payments left on the car we purchased in October of last year. Yes, we owe money for other stuff. But move we did. It beat leaving my mother alone and destitute after my father passes (I hope the latter will be delayed with our assistance).

We were fortunate to receive assistance, in the form of both cash and labor, from our coworkers and friends. My stepdaughter has taken over the house so the grandsons will have a place to live when they're ready for college (that day is approaching faster than I thought possible). Dad is out of the hospital and appears to be on the mend, albeit at reduced capability.

I hope to get some type of income soon. It will need to be part-time, at least during this stage of my father's recovery. Will I ever write again? Composing this blog, I hope, is a positive step.

Right now, all my brain wants to do is scream. Even after being here for three weeks.


Friday, March 02, 2012

My interview with Edin Road on BlogTalkRadio

Paranormal Comedy author Sarah Glenn 02/28 by EdinRoad | Blog Talk Radio

Please tune in to hear an excerpt from my novel and some interview questions. You'll know my voice immediately: I sound like I'm twelve.

I thought it was interesting that Jesse thought that a lesbian vampire was one of the things that makes All This and Family, Too unique: to me, that's a 'normal' trait. There are more lesbians in the world than astronomy professors, and there are probably more lesbians than vampires (although one can never be sure, can one?).

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Next Tuesday: Edin Road Radio

A week from today, I will be the featured guest on Edin Road Radio. Jesse Coffey's show puts the spotlight on authors and their work. While part of the program is an interview, the majority of it is simple the author reading their work. I'm trying to decide now what I want to read: portions of All This and Family, Too, or one of my short stories?

If you'd like to hear a sample of the show, check out this recent interview with Bertena Varney.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Review: Movie by Parnell Hall

Movie by Parnell Hall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Detective Stanley Hastings finally has his chance to hit The Big Time as a screenwriter. Sidney Garfellow, a documentary director people have actually heard of, has hired him to write the screenplay for his first 'regular' movie. Stanley dreams of leaving his less-than-rewarding career as an investigator for a personal injury lawyer for the Silver Screen. What stands in the way of this? Well, Sidney Garfellow, who keeps changing his mind about what he wants, forcing Stanley to rewrite and rewrite again. Then there's the film's star, who ignores Stanley's golden prose in favor of more 'natural' lines he's written himself. Oh, and there's people getting killed on the set. Just a little problem there...

Hall draws heavily on his own experiences when writing Stanley Hastings: he has worked on the stage, in films, and, at one time, as a detective himself. He writes hilarious songs, often about the foibles of being an author. It is no surprise that he has some experience with screenwriting himself: he wrote the screenplay for C.H.U.D. At least Stanley gets to write a movie with "four hot babes" in it.

I've read several of the Hastings novels, and I always enjoy the verbal humor in them. This novel is no exception. Stanley gives us his unvarnished and aggrieved opinions of the director, the actor, and Murty the sound man. He exchanges marvelous barbs with his boss, who visits the set, and Sergeant McAuliff, a series regular who is hired as a consultant. After the deaths begin, Detective Clark is brought in to investigate. Stanley doesn't like Clark: in a previous novel, Stanley was his prime suspect. The cops are smart, especially Clark, who is far from the closed-minded nabob mystery authors so often employ. The plot is good, and there's enough twists to keep the reader guessing.

The drawback: in some scenes, Stanley and the police detectives spend a lot of time talking about who was where at what times. I tend to speedbump over those sections, but you might want to take the time to read it: the solution just might be hiding in there.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Every Word

When my wife graduated from college, my parents and I bought her a Kindle. Most of the items on it are hers, but I installed a copy of 'Every Word' on it because I love word games. The game is similar to Scrabble: you're given a group of letters and you form words from them to earn points. Unlike Scrabble, there is at least one word that will use all the letters you've been given, and that word is necessary to advance to the next level.

At lunch today, I discovered that the most obvious word I could form wasn't one approved by the system.

Me: This thing won't take "whipass".
Wife: That's because it should be "whoopass".
Me: I thought maybe they were looking for a Northern spelling.
Wife: "Whoopass" is the only form of the verb. There is no 'whip'.
Me: That's not a verb form, that's a noun. The noun should derive from a present tense form of "whipass". The game won't take "asswhip" either, and it really should.
Wife: There's "asswhippin'".
Me: Exactly! That's the gerund form, which implies that the verb "asswhip" should exist.
Wife: Maybe someone should design a Southern version of the game. You'd have more luck with it.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Guest Post: Sinister Characters by Lois Winston

Sinister Characters
by Lois Winston

What better place to talk about sinister characters than a blog titled, The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn? Thank you, Sarah, for inviting me to guest blog here today during my month-long blog tour for the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series.

I’ve been told that I write villains readers love to hate. Most readers love heroes and heroines because they yearn to associate with the good guys. They want to see good triumph over evil. They want the vicarious thrill of a happily-ever-ending. Little girls want to grow up to be princesses. Little boys want to grow up to be Luke Skywalker. No one wants to grow up to be Cruella deVille or Darth Vader.

Yet, we remain fascinated by villains. They often drive the story with their complex natures. Why would someone do such evil things? We want to know what drives these madmen and women to commit the crimes they do. Who wasn’t totally intrigued by Voldemort’s back-story? Or Darth Vader’s?

However, too often authors succumb to writing stereotypical villains. Even the most vile of vile villains has to have a reason for his vileness. Snidely Whiplash is one-dimensional. We want to read about 3-dimensional characters, and that’s not limited just to the protagonists of a story. Villains count. They drive plots forward. Without them, we have no conflict.

Who are some of your favorite fictional villains? Post a comment, and you could win one of five signed copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll I’m giving away as part of my January blog tour. The full tour schedule can be found at my website,, and the Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers blog, In addition, I’m giving away 3 copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll on Goodreads,

Bio: Lois Winston is the author of the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries published by Midnight Ink. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and was recently nominated for a Readers Choice Award by the Salt Lake City Library System. The new year brings with it the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series.  

If you're considering starting at the beginning of the series, a good review of Lois' first novel appears on Kevin Tipple's blog.

Visit Lois at her website: and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers blog: You can also follow Lois and Anastasia on Twitter @anasleuth.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Friday: Lois Winston and Important Papers

Friday, January 27th, we’re having a special guest on the blog: Lois Winston, the author of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun and Death By Killer Mop Doll, will let us know about her favorite sinister characters. She’s also going to be giving away some signed copies of the just-released Death By Killer Mop Doll to people who comment on her posts, so pay extra attention this week! Giveaways are rare in this economy, and even rarer on this blog.

Hmmm… favorite sinister characters. My least favorite sinister characters always seem to be running for office. Lois will only be talking about the fun ones on the 27th. 

For a good review of Lois' first novel, check out Kevin Tipple's review of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun.

In other news: because my office is under the aegis of UK HealthCare, we have to fulfill the same requirements of all HealthCare employees, even though we don’t see patients and aren’t even located in one of the clinic buildings. This includes annual training on the safe handling of air tanks and recognizing signs of elder abuse. On Friday, I get to have a mandatory interview with Employee Health. I’ve been told to bring my most recent vaccination papers to the appointment. I’m wondering what they’re going to do with me: the last time I needed vaccination papers was when I was in the Fayette County Public Schools, which I graduated from in 1980. They were in the custody of my parents, and after several moves, including one overseas, I doubt that they still have them or even dreamed that they might be needed one day.

What makes me feel even older? My last tetanus shot was received ‘around the turn of the century’, which I associate with 1901, not 2001.

The proper term for the appointment, IMO, is ‘interview’ rather than ‘checkup’ because the co-workers who’ve gone through it tell me that there is no examination involved. If they think I’ll be applying for sick time to cover my time out of the office, they’re in for some kicking; it’s a condition of employment, and planning to be sick is also called malingering.

See everyone on Friday!