Ben Maxx is a young man with a dream in the golden age of Hollywood.

He quickly casts aside his new college diploma to follow a haunting desire to make travelogues as he walks in the footsteps of his great grandfather, a renowned world traveler and lecturer who left vivid descriptions of the fabled cities of the earth. To follow the dream, he takes passage  on a ship bound for Rio de Janeiro, expecting a sensuous interlude in a sun-washed paradise.

 But even before he steps ashore, his world is turned upside down. His cameraman and mentor is brutally murdered, and he is quickly faced with the reality of his own lack of experience, and with sudden doubts of his own ability. At the same time, he is ready to fall in love with a beautiful English girl he meets on the voyage. But it seems she only wants to play the role of a good undercover agent and discover what happened to a secret roll of microfilm.

With few resources, Ben struggles to make sense of the murder and of brutal rivalries he discovers ashore. He must not only learn his new trade in a hurry, but quickly discover whether he has the will to take another life that desperately seeks his own. Of one thing he is sure. His long-dead idol is standing by, looking on, offering encouragement. But that is the trouble. That seems to be all he is doing.

A Ben Maxx novel.  $4.99—Buy for the Kindle

A first-hand remembrance of the making of the classic short film Johnny Lingo. In this small memoir, one of its key makers recalls not only his recollections of an enthusiastic cast and crew, but the unusual and little-known last-minute circumstances involved in finding a location that he and others believe made it possible for the film to be made. Even at the time of its release, few outside its crew were aware of these events. The film was released um-teen years ago—well, in 1969—with little fanfare. But it is fondly remembered today by legions who have seen it. It is even remembered by many more who were not yet born when the film was made, and it is still being shown today.

 How did this happen? Part of the answer may lie in the purpose for which the film was made: it is a portrayal of love and loyalty and respect that is timeless.

$1.99—Buy for the Kindle

I have always been fascinated by the time period of the 1930s, and many of the stories you’ll find here are set in or close to that time. It was the last period in the history of the world when there were vast areas still relatively remote and unexplored. There were cities whose names whispered mystery, adventure and romance. Certain names fairly glowed with an enticing aura of the unknown: Istanbul, Cairo, Baghdad, Lhassa, Shanghai, Calcutta, Rio. And more.

What changed that world, of course, was World War II, and I’ve always thought it was a great loss. Fortunately, there are still stories to be told about that time, many of which could have happened in our own backyard, a place that could also be full of mystery, adventure, and romance. You can still find a few small, tattered remnants of that world in the political wilds of, say, Washington DC, or London, or Paris, or Moscow, but when any kind of light is shone on their dark corners, what you’ll see today is usually more tawdry than romantic.

A lot of things are going wrong in Lt. Blake’s war, especially as Christmas approaches. His hopes of glory in combat are dashed by a new job and a swift promotion. When he sets up his new headquarters in an empty building, dimly remembered as a former saloon, and the best gathering place in the North African city of Casablanca, he is haunted by the big blowup on his last evening with Lillian, his fiancé. And by Lucianne, a woman he glimpses in the streets of the city, who eerily reminds him of her.

It doesn’t help that he thinks he can sit on the sidelines as the French turn on their own heroes and charge them as traitors because they tried to help the American landings come off without bloodshed. On Christmas eve, Blake has a decision to make. Lucianne just needs a little help to arrange her husband’s escape to Lisbon.

A novella. $3.99—Get it for the Kindle

Holmes receives a Christmas card he is sure could have been sent by none other than the nefarious professor he had seen fall to his death some years before.

At the same time, he observes the very underpinnings and core beliefs of society worldwide are being challenged by an archeologist’s shocking discoveries in his latest diggings in the Holy Land. He has found ancient documents that offer incontrovertible proof that Christianity is nothing more than an ancient scheme. These documents reveal intimate details of how the plotters would carry out their fraud and advance their nefarious plans using an ordinary Galilean carpenter’s death.

Everywhere, the foundations of Christianity crumble. Churches of every denomination quickly begin to empty as these ancient plans are revealed to the public. One of the notable casualties of these revelations is the quick demise of a beloved holiday. . . Christmas.

When the young daughter of his news vendor asks Holmes to bring Christmas back, Holmes is forced to admit he is powerless to help. Nevertheless, in spite of abundant scientific proof, he takes her case. Perhaps because his mind is simply preoccupied with that Christmas card.

A novela $3.99—Buy for the Kindle


When I have a problem with a scene I’m writing, I’ve found the solution often comes to me at odd or unexpected times. Like in the moments after I’ve retired and while I’m trying to find sleep, or more often just after I’ve awakened for the day. The answers seem to pop into my mind, unbidden and full blown. It’s usually something simple. A line of dialog, or a few words of description that I somehow couldn’t put together just right the day before. When this happens, I’ve learned from experience to write the idea down immediately. If I don’t, they always seem to float  away and get lost forever. For this reason, there are Post-it pads and pens and pencils in many handy places around in my house. There’s one in a drawer next to my bed, one at the kitchen table, one by the little desk where the land-line telephone used to sit. And they all get used from time to time.

Like last evening. While thinking about another matter instead of the scene I had struggled with the previous afternoon, I was kept awake until about 2:30 in the morning. When I finally let my thoughts change course and begin to analyze my problem scene, the answers came tumbling out. It was urgent they be recorded quickly. To make as little commotion as possible, I went to the pad on the kitchen table. About five minutes later I had amassed the array of Post-its you see in the photo.  Somehow, after that, it was easy find sleep. And when I looked at them the next morning, I was reassured that with those little notes I could finally nail the scene which comes near the catalyst moment of “Catch me In Lisbon,” the book I’m currently working on.

At times like these, I am reminded about some advice I read a long time ago. It doesn’t precisely fit this thing that happens often to me, but it’s generally good advice, anyway, and it needs to be passed along. When you are faced with a choice of staying up and losing sleep over a problem or simply going to bed, always choose going to bed. In the morning, you may still have the problem, but at least you’ve had a good night’s sleep.

From time to time, I wonder if there are other writers who use up as many pads of Post-it notes as I do.  

Writing notes at 2:30 A.M.


A horrible crime might never have been uncovered if not for a retired schoolteacher's empathy with a young girl in distress.

Listen to the author read his story as published in July-August 2010 Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.


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