Monday, April 20, 2009

Meet Selena

In my writing, I try scenes with characters that may or may not end up in the book. It's a way to build backstory and develop character. And it's good practice when I hit a snag. Here's one that may or may not end up in Day of the Dead, the sequel to Bleeder featuring insurance agent Selena De La Cruz:

When the tire salesman saw her walk in, he squared his shoulders, straightened his polyester tie, and swaggered around the counter.

            “Helloooo, little lady,” he crooned.

            Selena, inspecting the American Racing rim display on the wall, pivoted to face him. She brushed aside her midnight hair.

            “Oh, I see,” the man said, shading his eyes against the sharp April glare in the display windows. “Es-pahn-yohl, huh? Uno moh-men-toh, ok? We got a guy in the service bays who-”

            “I speak English just fine.”

            He raised an eyebrow. “All right, then. Great. So - what can I do for you?”

            “I need two tires.”




“Full size.”

 He snapped his fingers. “We can do that.”

He sauntered behind the counter leaving a cloud of Brut in his wake. Selena waved it away. The man tapped the computer screen and it glowed to life. “I have some questions first, OK? Do you have an account with us?”

“No, I’m just passing through and-”

“No problem. We’ll get you set up. Your name, miss?”

     Selena wagged a not-so-fast finger at him. “Let me see what you’ve got, first.”

“Fair enough,” the salesman said. “Next question: How fast do you drive?”

 “Pretty fast.”

 “I’ll bet you do,” he replied with a wink. “Come this way.”

   He led her to the wall where various tires were mounted. He rapped a hairy knuckle on the third sample with the three-figure price tag and launched into a honeyed spiel. “Now this one, little lady, is a passenger touring series model with innovative roundness and a molecular carbon black and silica formula for safe handling in wet conditions like we get here in Illinois.” He pulled a shiny penny from his shirt pocket and stuck it in the treads. “And see these circumferential grooves? They channel water away for added safety. Best of all, they’re rated at ninety miles an hour.”

    “Not good enough,” Selena said. “I need performance radials optimized for rolling resistance and high speed handling.”

      "Heavy foot, huh?” he whispered.

       She shrugged.

        “Over 90?”

         “Like 120.”

         He glanced at her neon lime Mui Mui high heels. “In those?” he asked.

         “Barefoot, actually.”

          His jaw dropped.

      She leaned forward and eyed his plastic nametag. “Vinny, is it? Look, Vinny, I need two 75 series 225-75-fifteens to fit American Racing Torq Thrust rims, type M.”

                    “Geezuz, lady, you drive a dragster or something?”

                     She planted her palms on her hips. “‘69 Dodge Charger with a 6-point-one liter late-model Hemi and a single-plane intake manifold with four-barrel throttle body, 650 horse, a Gear Vendors overdrive unit, a Dana 60 Rear End and dual three-inch custom exhaust pipes I fabbed myself.”

                    She waited.

        He laughed. A real belly-wheezer. He pinched his eyes. Slapped his knee. “This is a joke, right? A Dana Rear End! Hoo-boy! Did Joey hire you to do this? Who are you?”

         “My name is Selena, gringo tonto,” she said. “Do you have the tires or not?”

         At home, when she blustered in the door fuming and told her brother Lorenzo, he guffawed so hard he dropped the videogame control.

         “So did you buy the tires or what?” he asked when he caught his breath.

          “Are you kidding?” she huffed, hands waving wildly. “From that idiota estúpido?”

          Her mother leaned out the kitchen door. “Why did you say that to the man, mija? Ay! Do you want to give Mexican women a reputation?”

          “Yes, for being strong.”

                     “Mexican men do not like their women strong.”

                      “He wasn’t Mexican, Mami.”

                      Her mother shook a wooden spoon at her. “Listen to me, Selena: You must be like la Virgen de Guadalupe – quiet. Eyes lowered in respeto. How else will you ever find a husband?”

                   “What’s worse,” Lorenzo said with a snicker, “is this guy is gonna talk all day about a foxy Mexican chica named Selena Gringo Tonto.”

 (all rights reserved)

Oh, and Happy Birthday to brand-new-Daddy Matthew. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Promo Day!

Promo Day 2009, a series of online workshops about book marketing and promotion, will be held Saturday, May 9. For information and registration, see and

If you're a writer with titles to plug, this is an opportunity to learn about the business side of books and engage in BSP - Blatant Self Promotion - which will be welcomed and encouraged. If you're an avid reader interested in communicating with authors, join hundreds of others in doing so through the various chatrooms that day.
Schedule of OnlineWorkshop/Seminars (times are Central European Time, 14:00 is 8 am Eastern Time USA, 7 am Central.). Yours truly will offer a chatroom session at 11 am Eastern, 10 am Central):

14:00 Lael Johnson - Blogging and Journaling
15:00 John Evans - The Age of Networking: Tips to Survive in Today's information Age
16:00 Karina Fabian - Marketing for Beginners
17:00 (10 am Central Time USA) John Desjarlais - Finding an Agent
18:00 Carolyn Howard Johnson - Query Letters as Promotion: Make Them Picture Perfect!
19:00 Elysabeth Eldering- Hosting Authors on Virtual Book Tours
20:00 Joyce Anthony - Promoting with Twitter
21:00 Ron Berry - Character websites
22:00 Devon Ellington - Creating and maintaining a successful writer's blog.
23:00 Carol Denbow - Technical Aspects

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Catholic Writers Guild Conference Live!

For Immediate Release

Catholic Writers Guild, Catholic Marketing Network Hold Writers' Conference

The Catholic Writers' Guild, in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network, will host its first-ever Catholic Writers' Conference LIVE! at the Doubletree Hotel & Executive Meeting Center, Somerset, NJ, from Aug 5-7, 2009.

The conference will host publishers, editors and authors from all aspects of the Catholic writing world, including magazines, devotionals, novels and educational materials. The panel discussions, presentations and workshops will cover all aspects of writing, including generating query letters, crafting a good story, worldbuilding, marketing finished works and more.

In addition, editors from several Catholic publishers will be on hand to share their wisdom and hear authors propose their works. The Catholic Marketing Network's International Trade Show will serve as the exhibition floor for the convention, giving writers a chance to browse the booths, investigate other publishing companies, and meet with the published authors at book signings hosted by the Catholic Writers' Guild.

The CWG also has its own booth, where it will feature books by its members. Presenters for the conference include: author/Sophia Press submissionseditor Regina Doman (Angel in the Waters); Pauline Books and Media Editor Sister Maria Grace, CEO of Ignatius Press Mark Brumley (How Not to ShareYour Faith), Susan Brinkmann editor of Canticle Magazine, Lisa Wheeler, Executive Vice President of the Maximus Group (PR and marketing firm for The Passion of the Christ), author/Ascension Press publisher Matt Pinto (Do Adam and Eve Have Belly Buttons?), short story writer Arthur Powers and mystery author John Desjarlais (RELICS, BLEEDER).

"This is a fantastic opportunity for both writers and publishers to connect," said science fiction writer and Catholic Writer's Guild President Karina Fabian. "The CMN has been especially generous in offering to share its facilities and programs with us, which really enhances the quality of the conference for attendee and presenter."

Conference Coordinator and CWG Vice President Ann Lewis adds, "There will be a lot of good information, encouragement and learning opportunities for Catholic authors at our live conference. Our goal is to help good Catholic writers to get published. The world needs their words."

The Catholic Writers' Guild has hosted two highly successful on-line conferences.

To register or for more information, go to Registration is $80 until June 1st, $99 until July 31st and $110 at the door.

For more information, E-mail: or

(Well, as noted above, yours truly will attend to promote RELICS and BLEEDER and to guide seminars in fiction).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Here She Is!

"Before you were formed in the womb I knew you."

Jeremiah 1:5

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lillian Emma has arrived

Lillian Emma, my first granddaughter, arrived safely in the world this Easter morning at 1:15 am, at 7 pounds and 19 inches. Couldn't have asked for a better Easter present! What better day for this to have happened? Alleluia!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Relics re-released

Following a polite request last month that Thomas Nelson Publishers revert the rights to Relics to me (since it has been declared 'out of stock' for many years) or consider re-issuing the book, I received this reply today:

Mr. Desjarlais,
I apologize for the delay on getting back to you. We are in the process of setting your book up to print on a short-run basis. The price of your book will now be $14.99; your author discount will remain the same as outlined in your original contract. Please contact Sandy Bradley (she is cc’d in this email) to purchase copies of your book. Keep in mind, however, that it will be approximately 3-4 weeks before the book will be print/order ready again.
Allen Arnold (also cc’d) is the Publisher for our Fiction department. You may contact him for further inquiries.
Thank you for your patience while we make your book available again.

Patience? Well, it was about a month since my inquiry, but it's been 16 years since Relics first came out. So I'm glad this timely and relevant story of Christianity's engagement with Islam in the 13th Century can be re-issued. You'll find a story summary and reviews at my web site.

This is amazing, since I've got a contemporary mystery, Bleeder, coming out this August. Now I have two crime novels to promote! In my answer to Nelson, I asked if they might consider a new cover (the original one is pictured above) but I doubt they'll do so, given the added expense.

As soon as I know the points-of-purchase for the re-issued book - in about 4 weeks, they said - I'll post it here. For now, raise a glass and celebrate with me.