Nest is never quite empty

I was digging around in a file cabinet in my home office when I found a cowboy tucked into one corner of a drawer. He's quite the frontiersman, armed with a rifle, a pistol and a knife, and crouched in a kneeling position perfect for sniping.

Been a long time since our sons -- ages 21 and nearly 19 -- played with little plastic cowboys. Wonder how long that cowboy has been waiting in that drawer for someone to rescue him?
You can't tell it from my stellar cellphone photography, but the cowboy is pretty detailed, with windswept bandana, fringed shirt and the words, on his base, "Made in China."
I'm keeping him on my desk, a reminder that my sons are never as far away as they seem.


The empire grows

Parnell Hall may be King of the Kindle, but I'm well on my way to becoming Emperor of E-books with the release of five volumes of my goofy "Rules for Successful Living." Granted, each volume is only 100 "Rules" long (about seven pages' worth), but in the crazy new world of e-publishing, that's enough to qualify as a 99-cent "book."

I started "Rules for Successful Living" on Facebook as a gag. Seemingly obvious advice ("Don't fall on your mouth") offered in an earnest self-help tone. People responded to them, so I kept writing them. Pretty soon, it became a habit to post one or two (increasingly twisted) Rules a day. Do that for a year or two, and you end up with a whole bunch of ridiculous rules for living.

Five of my novels and my humor book Trophy Husband already are available as e-books, and they're selling pretty well, so I decided to offer the best of my "Rules for Successful Living" on Kindle, too. Click here to see all my Kindle books.

Amazon makes it easy to send Kindle books as gifts to anyone with an e-mail address. At 99 cents, "100 Rules for Successful Living" would make a nice electronic stocking stuffer.

Hey, that's less than a penny per Rule! Where else can you get so much bad advice so cheap?


Snakes are a plane

Here's the worst nightmare for those of us who are afraid of snakes: A few Asian species that fly through the air.

Today's Washington Post has an interesting article about the gliding snakes here. Warning: The article has an accompanying video of one of these "mildly venomous" snakes wriggling its way through thin air. Brr.

Only thing more terrifying? The U.S. Department of Defense is studying the snakes in search of new flying machine designs.

I won't be getting any sleep tonight.


New e-book available now!

"Baby Face," the second novel in my Bubba Mabry private eye series, is now available as an e-book from Kindle, Smashwords and other e-booksellers. Only $4.99.
In "Baby Face," Bubba is hired by a vicious pimp whose girls have turned up dead. Bubba's investigation uncovers connections to politicians, the Religious Right and a woman who's trying to unionize the local hookers.
Fun book. Give it a try!


Feeding frenzy

For today's lunch break, Kel and I sat on the rocky point near our house and watched the local flock of pelicans busily feeding on a school of fish. The pelicans swirl around in flight, checking out the water below, then fold their wings and dive headfirst from dizzying heights. The big splashes in the photo are where pelicans just plunged into the sea.

The two dark shapes in the foreground? Surfers. All I could think while I watched was: What else is feeding on that school of fish?


My Bouchercon joke

Sometimes, you hear a joke you like so much, you keep it to yourself, saving it for a special occasion. I did just that recently with a joke told to me by my Redding, CA, pal Rick Hobbs. I didn't post it on the Internet or e-mail it to my friends. I saved it for the after-hours poker game at Bouchercon.

And now I share it with you:

Two old boys were out hunting when they stumbled upon an enormous sinkhole in the woods. The hole was so deep that they couldn't see the bottom, so naturally they start looking around for something big to throw in there. Over in the bushes, they spot a rusty auto transmission. The two of them lift it and stagger over to the edge and heave the transmission into the hole.

They're both leaning out, listening for the transmission to hit bottom, when they hear an enormous crashing behind them. They wheel around just as a full-grown goat comes charging out of the bushes. The goat runs right between the two startled hunters, goes off the edge and disappears into the hole.

The hunters are dumbfounded. Before they can sort it out, a farmer in overalls ambles out of the woods and says, "Hey, you boys seen a goat?"

The hunters stammer out that they had by God just seen a goat, and that the goat had run right past them and committed suicide in that there sinkhole. Damnedest thing they'd ever seen.

And the farmer says: "Naw, that can't be my goat. My goat is chained to an old transmission."

That's my Bouchercon joke. Feel free to share it. Or save it for a special occasion.


Settling in

Back online after a week away for moving and unpacking and getting a new DSL hookup.

Kel and I love our new place in Santa Cruz. Each day, we've taken breaks from unpacking to explore the neighborhood. Some wonderful cafes and the beaches are great, but my favorite part is sunset on the rocky points that jut into Monterey Bay.

Nice view from up on the points. The other day, we spotted a pod of whales and a couple of sea otters, along with the usual gulls and pelicans and surfers.