Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

11/29/16: Tonight we watched the last episode of the current season of Longmire on Netflix. I'm just starting to warm up to this streaming model for TV shows (which is hard for me because I have so much content sitting on our DVR) but I still don't like binge-watching. I don't do that when I have a season of a show I like on DVD, either. I always like to enjoy a show for as long as possible because when it's done, it's done, so I rather space out my watching. The episodes were released back in late-September, and it's a miracle that I kept Stephie from watching them all in one shot. (Or maybe she did that when I wasn't around.)
     Overall it was a good season. Maybe not up to the previous ones, as this lawsuit against the sheriff is seeming to drag, but we love the characters and the setting. And is it just me, or does Jacob Nighthorse remind anyone else of the "Mac Tonight" guy from the old McDonald's commercials?

11/13/16: I attended the Chicago Book Expo today with a few members of the Tamale Hut Cafe Writers Group. We had a great time, as we did in previous years, and I even managed to sell a couple of books! Thanks to Sean, Marianne, and Steve for spending the day with me.
     We were again on the first floor with the rest of the vendors (and the crowds) but this year more people showed up, not having to fight through the after-effects of a snow storm like we did last year. I sold more books than I did last weekend in Wisconsin, and handed out lots of flyers about my work and about the Tamale Hut, who again sponsored our table. Owing to my year-long unemployment odyssey, my finances were tight so I didn't buy any books for myself, but I did pick up many flyers and cards and plan to purchase a few e-books to try.
      At one point, I found myself promoting my e-books over the physical books I had on the table. I told the potential customers that while I would love for them to buy a paperback from me, what I would really like is for them to read my work, so while I get less money if they buy an e-book, they get an opportunity to see if they like my work. I'm figuring that If they pick up one of my inexpensive novelettes (or, as with my Sleep Detectives stories, read them for free if you have Amazon Prime) and like it, they might then want to spring for a physical book at some point, either from Amazon or from me in person at a future show.
      I don't buy many e-books, primarily because I have such a huge backlog of physical books to read, but there are two instances when I will buy one. One is if the book is only available as an e-book, as many new authors are choosing to do. The other is if I want to see if I like a new (to me) author. For that, e-books are ideal.

11/12/16: I spent an interesting evening in Tinley today, reconnecting with some people that I hadn't seen in 40 years. It started a few months ago, when someone posted my third grade class picture on Facebook. That started a number of conversations, triggered a group to be set up, many friend requests being passed around, and culminated in one of my former classmates opening up her house to anyone who wanted to meet up and catch up.
     I remember grammar school, but not very fondly, for many reasons I don't want to go into. I originally intended not to go, but I was interested enough to keep an eye on the posts. I noticed that girl happened to be in town for the week and was extending her stay so she could go, and one guy, who I saw a few years back at a high school reunion, was actually flying in from Texas to attend. I figured that if he was willing to travel halfway across the country to go, I could make the short drive there.
     The invitation said to bring whatever we wanted to drink and some food to share. I checked Google maps and found that while it would be too far out of the way to go back to the old neighborhood to get a pizza from the local place there, their other location in Burr Ridge was practically on the way, so I called in an order, picked it up and went.
     And you know what? I had a great time. Everyone seemed happy to see me, and they were thrilled when they saw the pizza (which tasted as good as I remembered.) Turns out a few people just couldn't make it, and one or two who said they were going had other things come up at the last minute, but 12 of us were there and it was nice. We laughed, we joked, we told stories of the old neighborhood, of what happened to each of us in the ensuing years, and what happened to the few who passed away. Of the group that was there, all had married (some more than once) but I was the only one who never had kids. Many of our parents are still around, and the ones who are not were remembered fondly. We wound up sitting around a table swapping stories until someone looked at the clock and it was almost 3 A.M. We quickly cleaned up and said our goodbyes. I thought I had it bad that I was scheduled to to the Book Expo at 10 A.M. but one girl had a 7 A.M. flight! I hope she slept on the plane.
     In hindsight, I don't know why I was hesitant about going. As someone pointed out to me while trying to convince me to go, grammar school was a long time ago. We've presumably grown up some since then, and any emotional wounds that we might have inflicted on each other should by now have healed. And as one of the attendees wrote afterwards on Facebook, most of us spent nine years of our lives together in that class. That's a pretty solid shared experience, regardless of how long ago it was. I had a lot of fun, and if they plan another gathering after the holidays, as it seems they might, I'll probably go.

11/05/16: Stephie and I spent the day in Wisconsin, where I had a table at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. I had heard about this event the past few years, but this year I was organized enough to reserve a table. We had a great time, but I didn't sell that many books. I was in the Writers Marketplace, which was organized so that most of the attendees would have to pass by our tables to get to the program rooms, but it seemed that most of the people I saw walking by had name tags as fellow attendees to the event. I didn't see too many people who looked to be there to buy books.
     That was a little disappointing, but the weather was beautiful for the drive, the table was not that expensive, and I got to hang out with Stephie all day. Plus, we stopped at Cracker Barrel on the way home, so the day was not a total waste.

10/18/16: My brother Chris is a celebrity in our house (as all of us boys are to our parents) but he's also a celebrity in the world of video games, due to his time spent as Executive Editor of Tips and Tricks magazine. I've obviously know about that for years, but it was still a pleasant surprise to hear him interviewed on a video game-related podcast about the industry and the time he spent covering it as a journalist. He really sounds like he knows what he's talking about! You can check it out at this link. (Chris comes on at the 4:00 mark) During the interview, he talks about the web site where he shares some of the video-game-related flyers, photos and miscellaneous documents that he's accumulated over the years. His site is www.video-game-ephemera.com.

10/14/16: Another picture from one of my walks through the neighborhood. This one is of some Halloween decorations that I saw in a window. It's obviously some window clings from a package, but I've never seen anything like this in the store of I would have bought it for the sheer genius of it. I mean, Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman are all common faces you might see in a Haloween display, but Bud Abbott and Lou Costello? (Click on the picture for a closer look.)

10/08/16: Today we celebrated the four year anniversary of the writers group that I run at the Tamale Hut Café. Because I think like this, I calculated a few statistics for the group. In four years, we’ve had 48 monthly meetings. We have 58 people on our mailing list. We’ve had 47 different attendees at our meetings, and we have critiqued 324 pieces! Besides myself, we have three members who have attended more than 22 meetings in a row, and except for a few people who only attended one or two meetings, there is only one attendee who has contributed a story to every meeting he attended.
     There were 11 people at today's meeting, so our fourth year is starting strong. We will also be the feature at the next Reading Series night at the THC on Oct. 22, where we will be presenting the results of a group project that we've been working on for the past several months. If anyone is interested in joining, check out our blog site and get yourself on the mailing list. We're having lots of fun.

10/07/16: Stephie and I were on our daily walk at about 9 A.M., piling up the steps on the ol' Fitbit, when we saw this little guy relaxing on someone's lawn. At first I thought it was someone's dog off his leash, but the more we looked, it seemed to us that it was a coyote. After a bit, he got up and walked away and we could clearly see it was a coyote. It's a little sad to see them in an urban area instead of in the woods somewhere, but I guess they have to rest somewhere.

09/30/16: Kisu would have turned 15 today. At least once a day, something reminds me that she's not with us any more. Watching someone walk their dog. Looking behind the furniture and seeing clumps of dog hair. Sitting quietly at my computer and thinking that I see some movement out of the corner of my eye like when she used to come in to see what I was doing.
     Lying in bed, before I drift off to sleep, I imagine I hear tiny footfalls in the apartment somewhere. She was not a large dog, but her passing has left an enormous hole in our lives. I still think about her every day, but more so today. Happy Birthday, pumpkin.

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