Adventures in Writing . . .


If I sell one book for every time I’ve heard: “Wow, you must’ve had so much time to write in prison, I mean, hey, gee, wow, talk about time . . .” with ‘time’ said almost wistfully, I’ll be, well, I’ll be pretty well off. to write in prison – sure, that would be what’s left of the day after – working 8-10 hours to afford luxuries like tooth paste; playing basketball to maintain the all important image it wouldn’t be all that easy to hassle me; dealing with psychotic explosions from perennially unstable inmates and staff (left); reading court decisions from inmates fighting their sentences. (That would be all of them).

In the time left, I would try to find a corner, niche, tree, whatever was most remote from the maddening crowd, and write. Eventually, I would be found out by someone and it would go like this:

“Yo, [Red…

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Why I Am Editing Out So Many References to Chairs in the Hanlin Novels … And What That Has to Say About the Criminal Justice System


imageEven the Inquisition had comfy chairs.

I was reading, rereading, editing, and re-editing The Falcon – the second volume of the Hanlin series – when something finally hit me, something that I think I was dimly aware of while editing The Ceremony of Innocence but never quite put my finger on.

I was cutting out an inordinate number of references to chairs. And sitting comfortably. And many, many variations on the theme. Seems my original drafts were chock full of . . .  well, comfy chairs. No stools, benches, slabs, tree trunks, nothing uncomfortable, just a whole lot of chairs and people sitting comfortably.

Why I was so unconsciously fixated on providing quality, comfortable seating for William Hanlin and friends is no mystery. I started the books in something known as pre-trial detention in Connecticut. This is an 563113_425901970770710_1758975141_neuphemism – get arrested in Connecticut and be unable to post bond and…

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Sorry, Virginia, There’s No Such Thing as President’s Day


washYup, there’s no such holiday as President’s Day – at least officially. It’s just Congress’ way of making Washington’s birthday fit a three day weekend.(Really – see Section 6103(a) of Title 5 of the United States Code).

Washington’s birthday was a major holiday in the U.S. long before the Civil War, it was formalized as a Federal holiday in the 1880’s, it took an act of Congress in the late 1960’s to muddle the waters.  When the push started to have national three day weekend holidays, Illinois tried to roll Lincoln’s Birthday into Washington’s with the 2 President inclusive label of ‘President’s Day’. Unsurprisingly -it being only a hundred years or so since ‘the late unpleasantness’ – Virginia blocked it in the House of Representatives. The third Monday of February holidayremained Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday remains as it was – a state by state optional holiday, never a Federal holiday (for obvious…

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We’ll Take it From You … (More Bullies)


imageThe first time it was used on me I was shirtless, bleeding profusely from a split-open cheek, pissed beyond measure, and standing in front of a lieutenant who was proving to be every bit as  psychotic as his reputation claimed he was.

He had narrow little ferret eyes, sharp nose, and a severe boot camp-like buzz cut he sported in the very thin hope he would be mistaken for an army officer in the bars around Ft. Devens. Instead of a glorified prison guard. Which is what he was.

That kind of guy was perpetually irate and I was making it infinitely worse by not giving him what he wanted.  That I couldn’t give him what he wanted meant nothing to him and just pushed him closer to all out fury.

Finally he broke, could take my intransience no longer, came up with the ultimate threat, “Hey, asshole, you know that three…

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A Pack of Gum, the Chain of Command, Hideous Bus Accidents, and Please Bring on the Zombie Apocalypse


gahan senseWondering today if this is what we have become – a place where an elected official with at least 19 years of formal education writes out a warrant for a nine year old over a $1.38 packet of stolen gum; the police chief who receives said warrant thinks its pretty uncool but does the time honored “But, hey, what can I do, gotta’ follow orders” routine; two cops have to go out of their way to ‘apprehend and handcuff’ the kid; the NINE YEAR OLD spends three nights in jail because, well, because we can’t have gum stealers just roaming the streets; the elected official – when asked about the arrest of the NINE YEAR OLD – quickly, automatically answers he cannot discuss the case because of the arrestee’s age; the on-paper well educated elected official then, as the news gets out and goes viral, promptly throws his deputy under the bus with a, “Man, sometimes…

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Stalag 17, Rikers Island, and Bill de Blasio

CaptureThis photo was published last week in the midst of the NY Times expose of all things Rikers Island, right around the time it was announced that Rikers would make extensive changes to its solitary confinement practices – in 2016.

The disaster that is Rikers fits my month long rant about bullies and the bullying bullies who bully and has consistently reminded me of stuff I normally wouldn’t want to be reminded of but now need.

So, I ran across the Mayor visits prison photo op above and my immediate thought was, “what a load of unmitigated bullshit.” As everyone who has ever watched a WW II prison camp movie would know in a heartbeat.

You know, the International Red Cross is coming to inspect Stalag 17, the camp is made as immaculate as possible, books and food packages held for months are released, the sick are treated, etc.

IMG_0499Then every staff member from the Commandant on down tells every prisoner, repeatedly, not to even think of talking to anyone from the Red Cross, the ‘or else’ does not have to be spelled out in any facility that has something called ‘the hole.’

It’s the same in any contemporary prison, of course. But worse. There are no books or food packages held for just such an occasion; all work in prison is performed by inmates, so the fix-up for the visit is pure hell. It’s also the perfect opportunity for COs to clear away any or all contraband under the assumption the visiting dignitary may want to root around inmate lockers.

The admonishment to discuss nothing beyond weather and sports is not so much suggested as ordered. Problematic inmates with a history of grievance filings find themselves sitting in medical all day, inmates know that at least two of the dignitary’s traveling posse are watching and taking names of anyone who waivers a syllable from the institutional script.

Nice picture up top, but you can rest assured not a damn thing of substance was was uttered. Certainly the best outcome for the ‘rapt’ inmates.

A Quick Ad Before I Go Back to Ranting about Bullies …


A Signed Pre-release Edition of


  • The Falcon, Book Two of William Hanlin’s Civil War will be out shortly. From now until February 2nd, a special pre-release edition is available.
  • Each copy will be personalized & signed.The Falcon 1st take
  • Everyone who purchases an autographed copy will be able to download the Kindle version for free for a limited time in February. [You will be notified by email]
  • Everyone who downloads the Kindle edition and writes an Amazon verified purchaser review receives the next book of the Hanlin Series, A Widening Gyre, signed and delivered at no charge.
  • $19.95* plus $2,00 shipping, click on the cover above or the button below to order.
  • *The Falcon comes in at a solid hundred plus pages more than the Ceremony of Innocence, so it’s a couple dollars more. Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

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