Carmichael’s, the restaurant her family owns in my new novel, has me looking more closely at others.

Large or small, family-owned businesses stand apart from other company models. Upward mobility into management may be limited for non-family, for one thing, and succession from one generation to the next can impose special hurdles – few family-owned enterprises survive into the fourth or fifth generations. And then inheritance tax issues can hit heavily, if key players fail to prepare properly. And that’s before we get into sibling rivalries and family spats.

On the other hand, they can be more flexible in aiming at long-range results or adapting to change.

In my new novel, What’s Left, these all play into the story. Her family isn’t like other employers, for sure. And it’s primed for exciting big growth.

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Thanks to everyone who responded to my earlier invitation for comments regarding a few possible covers for my newest novel.

The survey ended in mixed results and prompted some heated in-house discussion, ultimately sending me back to the drawing board for a more compelling design.

Just what do we want as a cover, anyway? Are people’s faces a help or a distraction? Does a jacket work best if it somehow reflects a scene in the story, as my earlier mock-ups attempted to suggest? Or is reaching for a less constrained, emotional reaction more effective?

What’s Left

As you see, I’ve opted for the later. Here the image invokes a sense of being broken out from a protected shell and falling through space. It’s also appropriate for a family that owns a restaurant – food being a theme running throughout the story. Will this cover encourage a browser to open the book to discover, in effect, just what happens to the yolk? Where it will land?

That, of course, is my goal. To see if it fits, go to Smashwords, where you can order your own Advance Reading Copy for free. The offer will expire after 90 days, when the first edition comes out at $4.95, so act now.

Your early reactions will be most welcome in preparing for that release.


Who will cover them now? All the politicians taking office? All of their dealings with lobbyists and special interests? Who will speak for the public? Or the common good?

I’ve covered some of the work of the daily press in my Newspaper Traditions category, and remind you it’s still a rich resource to visit. It’s a major part of the route that landed me here, after all.

The bigger, scarier perspective is one I take to surreal dimensions in my novel, Hometown News, which also reflects the situation many workers endure in the unchecked spread of multinational conglomerates. Think of Dilbert on steroids. Or the vulnerability of localities in the face of global giants.

The real news continues regardless of the headlines. Take it from me. Or my novel.

Hometown News


For the novel, click here.



When Bill, fresh out of college, accepts the assignment to yrubBury, he views the daily coded messages as a matter of corporate espionage and competitive edge. Heck, he’s ever so green and naive. What else is a generalist supposed to do in an age of specialists?

The assignment’s an education in itself, a revelation of global tensions and intrigue – and, to his surprise, he’s caught in the crosshairs.

Here he thought he was sidetracked to the boondocks. Instead, it’s ground zero.

Enter Big Inca, from the south.

Inca 1


For the novel and much more, click here.


Laboring behind the scenes in the subculture of daily journalism (Newspaper Traditions) meant bottling up a lot of my own feelings. My talent took place in near anonymity, advancing others and hoping to help the wider community and broaden the readers’ vision.

It was like being a teacher without any of the affection or apples. I suppose it took its emotional toll, too.

At least, I’m in the rush of a sensation of release now, even if so many of my recent postings look like history. Just remember, it’s unfinished history.

If you want to see what it was like inside the newsroom, especially in the escalating pressures of budget cutbacks, I’ll invite you to my novel, Hometown News. No matter how surreal the action turns, it’s not that far from the bigger impact of multinational conglomerates on local communities like the ones a daily newspaper covers. Or at least did.


For the novel, click here.


You could see this as a kind of Garden of Eden story. There are four main speaking characters, plus one (Big Inca). There’s a place that had been golden (the town of yrubBury) now on the verge of restoration. If Bill does his job. And there’s conflict from somewhere off-stage – actually, tons of it.

The action could have been set in Susquehanna country or the upper Hudson or Connecticut rivers, among others. Anyplace with falling waters. The kind that could power industrial mills. Or might, generating electricity, in the future.

It’s American history, drawing on nostalgia. And the military-industrial complex.

And small-is-beautiful hippies versus international free-trade agreements.

You have to make a living somehow. And live in community, as basic humanity.

Listen to all the political candidates, then, and ask … just where they’d stand in this story. Really.

It all clashes together. If we survive it.

Inca 1~*~

For the novel, click here.