Monday, December 5, 2011

Catalina Magnet High School, Tucson, AZ, Young Writers Conference

Hello Doggers,

I'd like to congratulate students and teachers at Catalina H.S. for an outstanding conference on Thursday! Conference-goers were respectful and inquisitive, asking pointed questions about my writing experience/advice during four separate work sessions.

I am confident that I was able to deliver an inspirational message about handling rejection in a writer's quest for publication. I shared with students two particular rejections I received from among dozens: a 'fortune cookie - sized' rejection from a New York agency and a rejection letter from an agent who would later accept me as a client.

I expressed to young writers that they should never accept the message that they are not good enough--not good enough to accomplish great things in whatever their field of achievement, whether it be playing piano, kicking a soccer ball, or writing the next highly successful YA novel. The key to success is persistence and a strong work ethic. Believe in your project - and write, write, anything else, the more you do it the better you get!


Top Dog

Monday, October 31, 2011

'Author in Residence,' Valencia Middle School

Hello Doggers,

Exciting news for students and faculty at Valencia Middle School, Tucson, AZ! I will be the school's 'author in residence' for the week of November 7, 2011, visiting classes, working with both large and small groups on writing skills, i.e. plot development, creating excellent 'hook,' story arc, pacing, and voice, and meeting with career skills students in the library.

I am really looking forward to the week with students. It should be both fun and productive!
I'll have some postings with comments after the week concludes.

Top Dog

Thursday, October 6, 2011

'Coyote's Howl' Awards!

Congratulations to first round winners in the Coyote's Howl for Young Writers competition!
All winners received the following:

* Copies of Gift of the Desert Dog signed by the author
* Custom laminated Man in the Maze bookmarks
* Congratulatory letters on official Coyote's Howl letterhead
* Critiques of each submission
* Leather-bound hand journals, compliments of Open Books Press

Open Books Press' second contest submission period is under way. Competition in the most popular category; fiction short story, is heating up! Visit our contest website: to register and enter your submission today. Choose from a variety of categories and write on topics and themes that interest you most. You can't win if you don't enter!

Top Dog wants to read YOUR work and send you personal comments. Come on...get writing!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Further Adventures of Danny Rivas

Chapter One of Gift of the Desert Dog is available for you to read at my website: Just follow a quick link there and you're into the story.

I'm adding Chapter Two here at my blog to give readers a bit more of Danny Rivas's tale of deliverance. I hope you enjoy it, and that you return often for exerpts from my other novels. I will begin posting these additional readings during the month of August. They are samples of what I've been working on lately for new adventure/mystery tales--stories about real-life challenges with fast action and a flood of quirky characters. Enjoy! And send along your comments, questions, ideas, etc.

Okay, here goes...

A thrasher bird sounded from a nearby cholla. Its sickle-like beak made the perfect siphon as it probed the thorns for nectar.
The late afternoon sun warmed Danny's cheeks and glowed throughs his eyelids. He forced them open as the wind whipped a leafy twig against his face. Lifting his head slowly, he gazed along the litter-strewn wash, now windswept and dry.
"Oooooh, my arm."
Gently, he flexed his shoulder muscle--it was stiff and sore. Beneath him a sharp branch jabbed his ribs and his legs ached painfully. He rolled off the limb, landing with a thump in the sand. His head throbbed from a large welt above his temple. Pressing it gingerly, he winced as a dagger of pain shot across his forehead and into his cheekbone.
"This is no dream, it hurts too much," he groaned, peering through torn jeans at a deep gash in his knee. Dried blood had caked around the wound, sticking it to his pant leg. He tried to peel it away, but his hands shook and it tore loose.
He grit his teeth, his body stiffening. For several more minutes he tried to lay still and listen to his lungs taking in air. Slowly, carefully, he flexed other parts of his body, checking for injury. But in spite of his rough tumble down the wash, nothing seemed broken. He was scraped and cut, his T-shirt was in rags, and the legs of his jeans were nearly torn off at the knees. Add to this a missing sneaker, and he was in no shape to make the hike back down the steep ravine.
It was then he heard a familiar call from the far end of the wash. Grasping the branch above his head, he pulled himself into a sitting position. Expelling air through clenched teeth, he hoisted his beaten body up onto one leg. Limping out into the open, away from the tangle of branches, he eased himself onto a rock to watch the figure of his friend approaching.
"Hey, what's up," yelled Digs, carefully picking his way up the streambed. "Whoa, man, you don't look so good. What happened?" he asked, finally coming to a halt beside Danny's battered form.
"A little accident, that's all. I'll be fine."
"You look like a mountain lion beat you up."
"Are you kidding? I sure wouldn't be talking to you now."
"So okay, a javelina then."
"Come on, Digs, I..."
"Sorry, I don't think I'd be laughing either if I looked like you do."
"It's pretty bad, huh?" He took another loook at the damage. "It was this wicked flood--came out of nowhere. Wait 'til Mom sees me."
"Your mom, what about your father?'
"Huh, yeah, it'll just give him another reason to yell at me. Without a doubt, it'll be a lecture from both of them."
"Why, because you're an Indian and you should know better than to get caught in a wash?"
"Hey, shut up, lame brain."
"Sorry, Danny, that's not what I meant..."
"Sure it was. You think I'm dumb too, don't you?" He pushed on Digs' chest. "Well, how does this sound, genius. I was saved by a coyote."
"You were...come on, that's not possible."
"I'm serious Digs. It was trapped in that tree...had a snare wrapped around itself. It must have traveled quite a distance before getting snagged. I'll bet it came from off the reservation. No O'odham would do that to Coyote. Anyhow, we sort of took care of each other's problem."
"A coyote? We'd better keep this between you and me," he advised, "if you know what I mean."
"Well you're the dumb one, because a smart person would know that coyotes do amazing things. Ask my grandfather if you don't believe me. He'll tell you."
"Okay, so say it's true. Will it matter when you get home?"
"Danny stared at the cut on his knee. "I-I guess you're..."
"Yeah, I'm right," Digs declared. "And here's another thing...don't let the guys at school find out about this, especially Jake and Eddy."
"You've got that right," Danny sighed.
"Okay, come on, give me your arm, we've got to get back. Your mom looked a little worried."
"Was Sophie there when you left?"
"Yeah with her friend, Shawna."
"Just great, they'll tell the whole world."
"Tell the world what?" asked Digs. "They don't need to know about the coyote."
"Promise me you won't..."
"My lips are sealed, amigo."


Cecilia watched through the screen as Amelia's Ranchero disappeared down the road in a cloud of dust, but she was no longer thinking of her most loyal customer.
"Danny's never this late," she fretted. "Sophie, come in now and help me in the kitchen. I've got to prepare more food for when they get here. Shawna, we've eaten, but would you like something?'
"Okay, Mrs. Rivas. Are you sure there's enough?"
"Of course...ooops, I forgot about Digs, he loves my refried."
"Does he have to stay, Momma?"
"Sophie, your manners, please."
"He always looks at me cross-eyed. I think there's something wrong with him," she announced, watching a grin break on Shawna's face.
"Well, he's Danny's friend--and that's quite enough," Cecilia replied, rolling out bread dough made earlier and stored in their small icebox.
"Daddy doesn't like him," Sophie added.
"Sophie, how do you know that?" And listen, you're father works very long hours. I'd appreciate it if you left him out of this, okay?"
"I'm serious, he doesn't. He gets mad at Danny for goofing off all the time when he's around Digs."
"You let us worry about Danny's goofing off. And speaking of...Where are they? Shawna honey, could I ask you to keep an eye out by the front door?"
A sudden tapping at the kitchen doorjamb had them spinning about. There stood Digs Ramirez, peering into the light of the room. Behind him waited Danny, carefully watching over his friend's shoulder for the expression on Cecilia's face.
"H-Hello, Mrs. Rivas, are you cooking beans for the fry bread?"
"Oh, thank God, you made it. Yes, Digs, how could I disappoint you?" She stretched to see her son. "Danny, where have you been hiding? You've...Danny Rivas?!" She stared at his tattered appearance. "Wha...what has happened? Look at you."
"Mom, please, I..."
"No please." She moved quickly to his side. "Your arms--and your leg. Tell me now, what happened to you?"
"I-It was raining in the mountains." He looked quickly at Digs. "I fell in the wash."
"That's right, Mrs. Rivas, th-the bank gave way," lied Digs.
"Digs, I will speak with my son."
"Sorry, I'll just go and sit over here..."
"And where is your sneaker? All right, now out with it," she demanded, "the truth this time."
"That is the truth," he cried. "Why is it you don't believe me? You never believe me."
"Yeah, you mean like last week when you told Momma you were at Digs' house after school," Sophie injected, "when you really had a detention with Mr. Jensen?"
"Just shut up, Sophie, this is none of your business."
"Danny, don't talk to your sister that way. Now, I suggest you start again...or practice your story like crazy before your father gets home tonight."
"I don't care about a dumb story--and I don't care about him either."
"You don't mean that," frowned Cecilia. "What has gotten into you?"
"What's gotten into this place and all of you!" he shouted. "It's always the same thing, gang up on Danny. Well, not anymore. Come on, Digs, let's get out of here."
"I-I think I have to go home n-now," stammered his friend.
"Sure, that's right, you too," choked Danny. "Okay, go." Turning quickly, he hobbled from the kitchen and out the front door.
Cecilia hurried after him. "Danny don't. Where are you going?"
"Somewhere...anywhere...who cares?!"he yelled, dragging himself stiffly across the yard.
She caught a final glimpse of his head and shoulders as he disappeared into the dense green of the Sonoran desert.

Wow! Are we in for an adventure here or what? On that one there is no doubt. So, stay in touch right here as the action continues...

Come on now, share your thoughts. What do you think happens to Danny next? Post me anytime with your response. Top Dog answers all his mail.

Until next time, aaahooooooooooo...

Top Dog

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Reading at all Pima County libraries!


Check out the schedule of summer reading events at your local branch of the Pima County library system. You'll find a diverse list of offerings, both readings and appearances, by many of southern Arizona's best children's and young adult authors during the months of July and August. I'd like to think I'm one of them!

See you at Mostly Books in Tucson on July 30th, and at Joyner Green Valley library, date TBA.

Also, remember the writing challenge going on now at Coyote's Howl for Young Writers project. Find out how you can enter and have a chance to be published on-line! There are several interesting categories to choose from, including short story, poetry, and essay, plus a list of topics and themes. I challenge you to be the best writer in your school! You can post a blog here anytime with questions, or tweet me - DesertDogWriter

And if you happen to trip over my book - Gift of the Desert Dog - while you're at the library this summer, well, sign it out! It's a great mystery/adventure you'll enjoy from cover to cover. Then you can text me your comments anytime.

Stay cool out there!

Top Dog

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

South Burlington Barnes & Noble, school visits

Hello Doggers,

My very special thanks goes to Elizabeth Sanford and the staff at Barnes & Noble, South Burlington, VT, for hosting my author presentation on April 9th. Also, thanks to a great audience for listening, asking terrific questions, and waiting to have books signed. There's a good chance we'll have a return visit when the second book in The Borderlands Trilogy is released. Look for Secrets of the Medicine Pouch: Adventure in the Borderlands by late summer.

I am equally grateful and appreciative to all the wonderful middle and grade schoolers I met while visiting the following schools in Chittenden County, Vermont: Lyman C. Hunt Middle (Burlington), Colchester Middle (Colchester), Williston Central School (Williston), and Brown's River Middle (Jericho).

Also, my deepest gratitude to my fellow graduates from the South Burlington High School class of 1967 for your continued support! The afternoon festivities at the Windjammer Restaurant, South Burlington on March, 24th, were delightfully relaxing, and so much fun to catch up with old friends.

I'll be back with more updates shortly...

Top Dog

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Twitter me here!



Join the tweets and follow all the latest. We have a writing contest coming up!

Top Dog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Twitter Me!

Hello Doggers,

Get the latest news and inside line on Gift of the Desert Dog, the upcoming sequel, Secrets of the Medicine Pouch, and plans for a school writing contest, at my new Twitter address about to be activated!

Stuff will still be on my blog, but I want you to have a faster, easier way to reach me with a quick message. Why Twitter? the name, I guess.

Look for a new trivia question on Danny, Digs, and Joseph, coming shortly.

Top Dog

Monday, February 7, 2011

South Burlington, Vermont, Barnes & Noble!

Hello Doggers,

I want to announce an important appearance in Vermont for early April. I will start B & N's 'Author-Educator Appreciation Week' special events schedule on Saturday, April 9, 2011, 1:00 p.m. My 'Borderlands for Peace' presentation will feature many high-profile photos taken along the U.S. (Arizona) - Mexico border, on the Tohono O'odham reservation in southern Arizona, and in the Santa Rita mountain ranges.

Along with the presentation, B & N will be featuring my new adventure - mystery novel, Gift of the Desert Dog, and I will be reading from and signing copies of the book.

And remember also, my visit to Colchester, Vermont Middle School on Thursday, March 24.

I look forward to seeing you in Vermont in April! It will be great fun!

Top Dog

P.S. Aw, come on! Mr. Delgado's chihuahua? That's an easy one...


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kindle version available!

Hello Doggers,

I'm proud to announce that my new novel, Gift of the Desert Dog, is available on Kindle at! You can now purchase the book online, download, and be reading the story in less than a minute! Very cool!

Okay, so be the first to answer this desert dogger trivia question right here under the sign of the scratchin' coyote and receive an autographed book mark to use while you read all your favorite mystery/adventure stories!

Trivia question: What is the name of Mr. Delgado's chihuahua?


Top Dog

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Second Annual Local Authors Book Fair

Hello Doggers,

I have added Saturday, March 5th, 1-4 p.m., Valley Presbyterian Church, Green Valley, AZ to my author book signing schedule. That's the time and place for the Society of Southwestern Authors, Santa Cruz Valley Chapter, annual local authors book fair.

I'll be there to meet and greet, talk about my research for Gift of the Desert Dog, and sign copies of my book. I'll also have news on the upcoming sequel, Secret's of the Medicine Pouch: Adventure in the Borderlands. Plan to join many of the Southwest's finest authors for this impressive writers showcase.

See you there!

Top Dog