Welcome to Cal's Cosmos

Allow me to roll out the red carpet and usher you into my world--the world of writing. I am a blessed man; a man blessed with the enjoyment of creating worlds on a lifeless sheet of paper or a blank computer screen.

You'll find many things at Cal's Cosmos: information about my long and passionate love affair with writing, my views on literature, my musical heritage and thoughts on current events.

Please, come back often to see what's happenin' on Cal's Cosmos.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Folks, who know me, know how much I love my wife. I often say I didn't start to live until she came into my life. When I tell her that, she gives me that sweet smile I love and asks me if I'm Irish 'cause I sound like I've kissed the Blarney Stone. Then she warms my soul with a hug and a kiss on the neck.

Yup, having that connectedness with someone who is like-minded and who loves you deeply in return is that refreshing pool from which our happiness sprouts. There's nothing like loving and being loved in return.

My wife spoils me in little ways: cooks me the foods I like; lays out a fresh towel and underwear before I shower; shops for me so I don't have to enter a mall (a tip for all you ladies, unless we're going to look at electronics or tools, men do NOT like going to the mall); keeps all my many medicines straight, stocked and in my daily pill holders; has a pot of coffee brewed, strong just the way I like it, as soon as I step out of the bedroom in the mornings; and she never reaches for the TV remote. Hey, some things are sacred to a guy...and remotes are our domain.

Vonnie is the kind of person others bring their problems to; they know she'll listen and offer support. Vonnie is a warm-hearted woman in a cold-hearted world. And she's mine.

She's also a great writer. Her first book came out 2 weeks before its official date of 7/15. If you could have seen her expression when she opened the box full of copies of Storm's Interlude. I'm proud of her for reaching for her dream. She worked. She persevered. She succeeded. I have as much pride in her book as I do my The Phantom Lady of Paris. For when you love someone, that person's successes are yours--we are two halves of a whole, after all.

Yup, I'm married to a writer--and damned proud of it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The estimated publishing date on my contract was November 9th. She's a tad late folks, but The Phantom Lady of Paris is now available.
Surely you can understand my excitement!!

No one ever said the road to publication was easy. I mean, writing the book was the easy part, the fun part. Then came hunting for an agent. I'd queried over sixty before Dawn of Blue Ridge Literary took me on. She believed in The Phantom Lady of Paris and peddled it to oodles of publishers. Finally, Second Wind said, "Hey, we like this!" Edits were easy. But the waiting...ugh! The literary labor pains were horrendous.

If you've ever wondered what Paris was like, really like, allow me to take you there on a magic carpet ride of words.

I'd love to share my experiences sitting at sidewalk cafes and writing for hours, the hiss of espresso machines in the background and a constant stream of humanity flowing by.

Few cities can rival her beauty or her spirit.

The Phantom Lady of Paris is available in paperback and eBook versions at Second Wind Publishing and Amazon.com.

Saturday, June 11, 2011






Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Brief Conversation with Nikki Giovanni

Vonnie and I attended the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville yesterday. As we meandered from table to table, a well-known lady, head high, shoulders back, eyes assessing floated through the crowd and paused next to us. I didn't hesitate to introduce myself to Nikki Giovanni. I mean, what writer would? Gracous and warm person that she is, she focused her eyes on me as if I were someone important. Me?
We talked briefly about poetry, writing and Paris. I passed her some promotional material about my book, The Phantom Lady of Paris. She smiled and said she remembered well the turmoil of Paris in 1968.
Vonnie remarked on the genius of Ms. Giovanni's poetry. I added that genius is often knowing how and when to revise, and that obviously this winner of The Langston Hughes Award knew how to revise. Ms. Giovanni smiled and patted my arm in silent agreement. I hope some of her genius rubbed off.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thoughts on being a writer...

Sometimes I wonder if being a writer is worth it.

Don't get me wrong; I love writing, it's the other stuff that elevates my blood pressure. Thanks to changes in the publishing world, creating multi-layered characters...or an engaging story...or witty dialogue...or crafting meaty sentences isn't enough any more. No, a writer has to have an Internet presence and a fan base before a contract is offered.

Think about it, in days gone past, a writer could fill his day with what he loved: Writing. Now, the day starts with wading through emails, leaving a message on Facebook, so folks know you're still alive, checking hits on your website, blogging and tweeting or twittering or tacking a message onto the shimmering walls of the biosphere. I'm always behind with this. Why? Because I hate it. I'd rather be writing.

And while I'm venting, I'm going to take jabs at the publishing industry. A kind of "biting the hand that feeds you" rant. When I signed a contract in August, the projected date of release written on the contract was November 9th. Right. Of course there were those three little words after the date: publishing schedule permitting. Evidently the schedule hasn't been very "permitting" lately.

I received my proofs two weeks ago. A proof is like a sample book that the author must read, hunting for every error. Now, let me preface this with the fact that my agent, who once ran an editing business, had already proofed my manuscript. So had the editor at the publisher. All errors--punctuation, word choice, formatting, etc. were corrected through these two layers of editing (my agent's and editor's). So one would think the proof would be nearly error free. WRONG! Some chapter headings were centered on the page and some were left justified. Many paragraphs were not indented. Much of the punctuation, especially quotes within a quote, was wrong. Words were transposed. The word cafe needs an accent mark over the e, and although I made certain that accent mark was there, now over a dozen times, it is missing. Evidently the printer has no concept of quality. For a writer who agonizes over every word and comma he puts into his manuscript, this is especially frustrating, annoying--and, yes, disheartening. I don't exaggerate when I say out of a 312 page book, 25 pages were error free.

After I mail the proof back to the publisher, I go into the waiting mode once more as these corrections are made (hopefully) and another proof is generated (publishing schedule permitting). Then a second proof will be mailed to me, and I'll get to read my novel again, hunting for more errors. Want to make book on how many I'll find next time?

There are some days when I wonder if being a writer is worth it.