Archive for July, 2014

Anyone from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana is welcome.

Monday, August 4, 6 to 8 pm. No RSVP required.
Barnes & Noble’s Café, 801 South Hurstbourne Parkway, a mile north of I-64, on the right. This is NOT the Summit Shopping Center B&N.
The first hour will be for socializing, the second hour for optional critiques. Writers can read for three minutes. Illustrators are welcome. You do not need to be an SCBWI Midsouth member to attend. For more information, contact Charles Suddeth csuddeth@iglou.com


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One of my favorite writing rules is: There are no rules. I would add: But you have to know the rules and your audience before you can break rules.

I am primarily a children’s writer. I belong to the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators), and I host 2 critique groups: a picture book group and a middle-grade/young adult group. Members often submit manuscripts that either aren’t children’s books or their main character is the wrong age. I also sponsor a children’s writing category for Green River Writers’ yearly contest, and some of the submissions I receive are poems or short stories with children as the main character, but with adult feelings and observations. My contest also receives memoires of adults looking back at childhood, which is not what children enjoy reading.

The rule of thumb is that children like to read books with a main character their age or slightly older. Recommended ages for readers and main characters vary according from publisher to publisher, so these are just guidelines:

Picture Books: Ages 3 to 7, with main character’s ages 5 to 9 (Board Books for younger readers and Easy Readers for slightly older readers will extend this range in both directions)

Middle Grade (Middle Reader’s): Ages 8 to 13, with main character’s ages 10 to 14 (slightly younger readers may read Chapter Books, which are early middle reader’s books with a limited number of illustrations)

Young Adult: Ages 14 to 18; high school readers. Main character’s ages high school freshmen to seniors. (New Adult, Young Adult fiction geared toward college-age readers, is becoming popular)

Two years ago, an adult fantasy anthology published my dark/horror short story about a little boy almost drowning in a well. It didn’t deal with a child’s issues or problems, so I didn’t submit it to children’s publications. Here are the issues the main characters usually deal with for each category:

Picture Books: Searching for Security. Children this age, even while playing and having fun, need to know their parents are there for them with love, protection, and life’s necessities. The Llama Llama series of books by author/illustrator Anna Dewdney is about a baby llama enduring various adventures and challenges, but above all, Mamma must remain nearby. Llama Llama Red Pajama, I believe, was the first book of the best-selling series.

Middle Grade: Searching for Identity. Children in this age are not certain who they are or what their abilities are. They often do things in groups to obtain peer approval, because they lack self-confidence. J K Rowling’s early Harry Potter books are an example. Harry didn’t know he was a wizard with powers or that he would have a quest. And he didn’t know who his allies (his group) would be, but he gradually learned.

Young Adult: Searching for Independence. Teenagers are famous for their rebellion against their parents, sometimes called “attitude.” Psychologists have described this as subconscious psychological efforts to separate themselves from their families, so they can become adults. Most people think of the Hunger Games as pure survival. Katniss lost her mother, but she is seeking independence from the oppressive, totalitarian society that replaced her parents.

Another peculiarity of writing for children is that boys prefer to read books where the main character is a boy, but girls will read books where the main character is a boy or girl.

My other favorite rule for writing is: Take your reader where they are not expecting to go. This rule also applies to children. Once you know your audience you can take them to destinations unknown and even undreamed of.


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Experiment 38 (young adult thriller, 4RV Publishing, paperback) will released in this year, date TBA

Eighteen-year-old Emily lives with her scientist-father and knows nothing about her mother. When Emily dates Nate, two men in a Lincoln Navigator follow them. After Nate discovers her mother’s identity, the two men kidnap Emily, but her father doesn’t try to save her. When Nate’s rescue fails, she tries to escape on her own.

Her father holds a secret about her past. Are the two men working for her him? Will Nate rescue her? Why do the two men want her? Can she escape and have a normal life?

ISBN: 78-1-940310-02-2

YA thriller, publication TBA

YA thriller, publication TBA

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Note: Greg Anderson, the main character from my Musa Publishing thriller, Neanderthal Protocol, decided to rant. His troubles begin when a DNA test classifies him as a Neanderthal and a court ruling strips him of civil rights. You can see why his view of Louisville veers from mine.


Greg: Like Chuck said, after what happened to me, I have a different take on Louisville: Tom Sawyer State Park occupies the farm of the old Lakeland Lunatic Asylum. The huge park has ponds, creeks, a nature area, playing fields, activities buildings, pools, and facilities such as a BMX track, a dog park, and an airport for remote-controlled planes. Neanderthals live in the wooded areas. It also has a cave/morgue and an old mill from the mental institution, but Neanderthals can’t be choosey. (It also has herds of wild turkeys and deer, but Neanderthals aren’t allowed to hunt, so we won’t discuss that)


Back in the day, before my life changed, I liked to bring my family to a nearby restaurant, Goose Creek Diner, a little place serving comfort food and Louisville dishes.

Burgoo is a fiery stew made with three different meats. Old-timers liked game meat, such as rabbit or squirrel, and they added a dash of bourbon, but Goose Creek Diner avoids them. Hot Browns are open-face toasted sandwiches, made with turkey, bacon, tomatoes, cheese and Mornay sauce. Fried green tomatoes are southern, and Louisville is certainly southern.


The Louisville Riverfront features parks, restaurants, hiking trails and attractions stretching for miles along the shore of the Ohio River, including the Indiana side. The Belle of Louisville is a century-old, operating steamboat based at the Louisville wharf. Carriage rides, docks, a foot bridge spanning the river, and music amphitheaters attract visitors year round.

My favorite section of the waterfront is the Louisville Water Tower Park. Built in the 1850’s, the Water Tower hosts the WaterWorks Museum and countless music festivals.


Even Neanderthals like the Kentucky Derby, which is held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs. In a crowd of 150,000, a few Neanderthals can sneak in with no one the wiser. The race is only 2 minutes, but they have more races, bands, Derby food (burgoo & barbecue), and mint juleps. And the Derby has happy crowds—celebrities, buskers, bettors, partying college kids, and ladies with Derby hats (extravagantly decorated hats).


After I became a Neanderthal, I divorced. My girlfriend, Rachel, loves Bardstown, a small town a few miles to the south. Museums, shops, colonial houses, and restaurants make it a tourist destination. My Old Kentucky Home as in the song is in My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown. Although we Neanderthals legally can’t buy alcohol, its distilleries make it the Bourbon capital of the world.

Bernheim Forest is a private recreation area that is open to the public. Mid way between Bardstown and Louisville, it has over 14,000 acres of landscaped parks, forest, visitor’s centers, observation towers, hiking trails, and lakes. It’s perfect for families and for Neanderthals who need a place to hide.


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Today (7/20/14), I am live on the Musa blog http://musapublishing.blogspot.com/. I am discussing Neanderthal Cuisine at Its Finest in conjunction with my book, Neanderthal Protocol, thriller, Musa Publishing, eBook. Join me and learn how people ate long ago. Comments welcome, but not necessary.

Neanderthal Protocol (adult thriller, Musa Publishing, eBook)
After cold-fusion physicist Greg Anderson’s DNA test marks him as a Neanderthal, he is forced to live like an animal. Rachel helps him search for the organization trying to destroy him.
PDF, ePUB (Nook, iPad, Android), PRC (Kindle), Mobi


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My thrillers, Neanderthal Protocol, and Lies & Deceptions, take place in and near Louisville, so I’d like to show you why I had to choose it for my novels’ location.

  1. Why they call Louisville Derby City: Once in your life, visit the Kentucky Derby. Some people never watch the two-minute race: celebrities, wild & friendly crowds, women in elaborate Derby Hats, music, burgoo (fiery, three-meat stew), and mint juleps. Did I forget horses?
  2. Boats are sorta places: The Belle of Louisville celebrates its 100th birthday this year. The paddlewheel steamboat is the oldest in the country. Scenic and nostalgic. Did I forget romantic?
  3. Big, big water: The Ohio River is a mile wide, so my stories never ventured across to Hoosierville (aka Indiana). Stand on the banks and watch anything from sailboats to towboats perhaps a mile long.
  4. How about a sample? A few miles southwest is Fort Knox, where the U.S. stores gold. You can tour the Army base, but not the Gold Depository. I’m so sorry, but they don’t give out samples.
  5. Just a horse race? The Kentucky Derby Festival runs two full weeks of celebrating. And balloons, steamboats, rodents (you read correctly), human runners, and other things race for two weeks before the race. Did I forget the non-stop partying?
  6. Just some old rocks: The Falls of the Ohio River have been dammedoff at the Falls of the Ohio State Park to expose one of the largest Devonian fossil beds in the world. Lots of live blue herons and other waterfowl can also be viewed. Did I forget to mention it’s the perfect place for dam puns?
  7. Take me out to the ball game: Don’t be shocked, but Louisville Slugger is made in Louisville. At the Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum, you can get your Major League bat made & engraved with your name. My stories have violence, but no bats as weapons—too obvious for me.
  8. Do you dare? Reputed to be one of the most haunted places in the country, Waverly Hills Sanatorium was a TB hospital that closed in 1962, after thousands of people died. It has been featured on several TV programs. Do you have the courage to tour it? I don’t. Did I forget to tell you that I’m chicken?
  9. Under twenty-one? Skip to number Ten: The Kentucky Bourbon Trail covers much ofKentucky, but distilleries near Louisville or a few miles south in Bardstown hold tours and have gift shops. I included an abandoned distillery in Lies & Deceptions. Do I dare mention samples?
  10. The Pitter-patter of really heavy feet: You can’t ride racehorses, but you can ride carriages downtown. Drive a few miles east to Oldham County and Shelby County and visit their American Saddlebred, Thoroughbred, and Arabian horse farms. Not only can you tour, you can take riding lessons. Then maybe I’ll see you riding in the Kentucky Derby. Did I forget Churchill Downs? That’s where the Derby is.

American Queen

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My thriller, Neanderthal Protocol, takes place in and around Louisville, Kentucky. All these locations don’t figure in my novel, but they lurked in my mind while I wrote the manuscript. I am editing, Lies & Deceptions, a YA thriller that also features the Louisville area.

Ghosts: Waverly Hills Sanatorium, reputed to be one of the most haunted places in the country, is a TB hospital that closed in 1962 after thousands of people died. It has been featured in several TV programs and movies. The most famous attraction is the Tunnel of Death, where bodies were whisked away at night. Do you have the courage to tour it? Not everyone does.

More Ghosts: Tom Sawyer State Park was built on the grounds of an 1870’s mental hospital, often called Lakeland Asylum. Once housing 3,000 inmates, the building is gone, but two unmarked potter’s fields hold possibly hundreds of bodies. Nearby, a bricked-in cave was used as a morgue. Ghost tours are available in October.

Things Best Left Unspoken: At the height of the Slave Trade, Louisville contained as many as 44 slave traders and four large slave pens. The term, Down the river, originated in Louisville, because slaves were sold, dragged to the Louisville wharfs, and steamboated downriver to cotton plantations in the Deep South. Thankfully, nothing remains but historic markers.

Murder: On Bloody Monday, August 6th 1855, members of the Whig Party and the Know-Nothing Party rioted against immigrants, mainly German and Irish Catholics. At least 22 people were killed in downtown Louisville and a nearby neighborhood, Phoenix Hill. Many of the churches where people sought refuge are still standing.

More Murder: The Pope Lick Monster (the Pope family were early settlers) is a half-man, half goat rumored to dwell under the lofty railroad bridge spanning Pope Lick Creek. It hypnotizes its victims, luring them onto the narrow train trestle until they are run over by trains. Despite No Trespassing signs, several people have been killed. By the monster?

Boom! The Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, located directly across the river from Louisville, covered about 15 square miles. It made gunpowder and rocket propellant from World War 2 through Vietnam. Rumors floated through Louisville about people and Jeeps blowing up. Part of it is now Charlestown State Park, but tall fences circle the remainder. Signs announce, No Trespassing. Even without signs, I wouldn’t set foot on those grounds.

Gone but Not Forgotten: The United States Bullion Depository, AKA the Fort Knox Gold, holds the government’s gold. No one has been allowed inside since the 1970’s, because they don’t give tours, even to members of Congress. Rumors persist that the gold has vanished, but no one’s talking. Is the Federal Government broke?

Now you know the Dark Side of Louisville. If you’re afraid to visit Louisville, lots of great writers live here so you can visit the city via books.

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