So far The Merry-Go-Round Man has received two five-star reviews — plus, the artist has completed the dust jacket for the print version (click on it to enlarge).  It is already available on numerous outlets, including Amazon.   Available at . . .

MerryGoRoundMan jacket

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5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this story immensely June 16, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
A coming of age tale of three boys, each had their own demons to face as they entered their teens. Of the three primary characters, Johnny Roth is the most interesting. The author did a terrific job of weaving the three boys’ stories together, while shining a spotlight on one or another as events unfold. A relatable story, everyone faces challenges throughout life and it’s the choices we make that guide our path, shape our futures. At any time, a misguided decision can take someone down a wrong, dangerous or less than pleasant path. A different choice, a different–and hopefully better–outcome. Although there’s no going back and undoing the past, everyone can learn and grow–and boy did these kids have some learning to do! Although things seem to come a bit too easily for the boy who is deemed The Merry-Go-Round Man, the other two make choices that will forever haunt them, unraveling their hopes and dreams. I was so engrossed in the story that I was taken by complete surprise when the story concluded–I wasn’t ready for it to end. IMHO, The Merry-Go-Round Man would made a terrific movie.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Book June 25, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I especially liked this book because I grew up in the same time period as Johnny, Jimmy and Lee. So much of it took me back to my childhood, my old school and that wonderful merry-go-round. My heart went out to Johnny with his remarkable talents and the overbearing father who tried to control him.John Roseman has captured the essence of those years between puberty and adulthood, fraught with angst and the agony of wrong choices.These young men made their share of mistakes, but unlike so many, they learned, came full circle with a degree of contentment in their lives. John Roseman gave us in-depth characters that we could identify with and root for.I highly recommend this book to people of all ages.
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1. On May 16, I was interviewed by CK Webb on Blog Talk Radio.  Below is the magic link.  Just click it if you’d like to hear the interview.  This interview is also included in the MEDIA ROOM along with my other interview and assorted attractions.  Among other things, in the interview I read from my novel Kingdom of the Jax.


2.  Book 3 in my INSPECTOR OF THE CROSS series has been accepted, and MuseItUp Publishing has scheduled it for winter publication.  Defender of the Flame is over 118,000 words long, my longest novel ever, and in it, our hero returns to the space station/academy where he graduated nearly 4,000 years before to encounter unprecedented adventures.  

3.  Just last night Dave Wilson, Crossroad Press’s publisher sent me the trade paperback cover online of The Merry-Go-Round Man.  This features the back cover blurb which describes the contents and direction of the novel.  Quite effective and exciting.  As described in the post just below, this novel is available by pre-order for just a few more days for only $3.99.

Until next time . . . John, your faithful scribbler.




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THE MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN, A Coming-of-Age Story

THE MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN, My Coming-of-Age Story, to be Published.

My new novel about three unusual boys growing up on the wild, dangerous, sex-filled side of the supposedly safe 1950′s will be published in June in e-book, trade paperback, hardback, and audio book formats.  

themerrygoroundmanDo you believe you can shape your future, determine your destiny?  One spring day in 1954, three sixth grade boys make a bet: the one who can climb first to the top of a small green merry-go-round outside their school will be “Champ for life!”  For the rest of his days he’ll be “on Easy Street!”  So they engage in a “mad scramble . . . clambering over each other with murderous intent,” and eventually one of them reaches the summit and stands triumphant, lording it over the others.  He is the merry-go-round man. 

The Merry-Go-Round Man is a novel about three boys growing up in the so-called innocent days of the Eisenhower fifties.  It’s about rites of passage, loss of innocence, sexual initiation, racism, and much more.  Of the three boys, Johnny Roth is central.  He possesses two transcendent gifts which are only beginning to emerge as the novel begins.  One of them is the ability to box or fight, something he deeply fears.  The other ability is artistic and mystical.  He is a natural expressionistic painter of vast potential.  Unfortunately, Johnny’s father, an orthodox Jew, hates both of these pursuits, and his opposition tears Johnny apart. 

Of the two other boys, Lee Esner grows up to be a gifted football player with what looks like a lucrative pro career ahead of him.  He also has a flair for attracting beautiful girls.  Is he the merry-go-round man?  The third boy, Jimmy Wiggins, is black and from the ghetto.  Attending an elite white school with Johnny and Lee, his naïve love for a pretty white girl is destroyed by her cruel racism.  Another rite of passage.  Symbols such as a burning Buddhist monk make us ask whether anyone is really The Merry-Go-Man in life. 

Preorder it until June 1 for only  $3.99.  … 


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A Disease, Mysterious and Deadly

A mysterious disease three years ago almost killed me.

The progression of this disease was insidious and terrifying.  My doctor used every test in the book without success to diagnose it.  Finally, as I wasted away, he threw up his hands and admitted he didn’t know what my disease was.  Darker possibilities emerged.  Was my disease cancer?  Was I going insane?   Was I going to live?

I’m a member of a writers’ community at The Write Room Blog.  We post individual blogs at the site.  Just click on the link at the end of my blog below and view the site where my blog “What the Hell is Wrong with Me?” and other blogs are featured.  



I was teaching my 9 a.m. World Literature class about three years ago, when I noticed my brain was floating about five feet above my shoulders.  What’s more, it wasn’t floating in a good way.  I felt disconnected, disembodied, unreal. 

 What in the world was happening to me?

 I was nearing seventy, a full professor of English, and planning to retire from Norfolk State University after forty-five years of teaching.  I had never experienced anything like this before.  Should I excuse my class early and lie down, or be a man and soldier on?

Hell, I was as macho as the next guy.  I soldiered on.  The fact that I was undergoing an out-of- body, semi-psychotic experience didn’t mean I couldn’t pull it off.  I was a pro!  So on I charged, fielding students’ questions out of the air, and I believe, passing the test with flying colors.

As I left my class, my affliction lifted.  For the rest of the day, I was fine.  My relief was fine, too, and I didn’t even mention the “incident” to my wife Jane.

The next day, with classes meeting later, I was absolutely normal.

The following day, with my World Literature 9 a.m. class, my brain drifted to the ceiling again, hovering near the light fixtures.  In subsequent 9 a.m. classes, that’s where it remained.

I told my wife about it, and she reminded me that a few months back, I’d had arthritic pains in my right arm.  They had interfered with my playing tennis, which I love.  A visit to my doctor and some meds seemed to have solved the problem, but could there be a pattern here? 

We soon learned there was. Starting at 150 pounds, I began to lose weight.  Finally, I went to Dr. B again.  He ran all the tests, which turned up nothing.  He concluded that my symptoms “screamed depression” and referred me to a psychiatrist who gave me pills.  My weight continued to drop.  One forty-five . . . one-forty-two.  When it reached one-forty, my system began to shut down.  Forget about having an appetite, sleeping, or going to the bathroom, and hello to a half-body hideous scarlet rash which itched like the devil and eventually no damned energy whatsoever.

One day in his office, Dr. B said he’d done as much as he could.  He’d run all the tests and didn’t know what was wrong with me.  In short, I had a MYSTERIOUS DISEASE, a subject I’ve written about in fiction, as in “The Blue of her Hair, The Gold of her Eyes,” where a woman contracts a disease that makes others shun and fear her.  I looked at my doctor and said, “Could I have cancer?”  He replied, “Do you want to go and have a CT Scan?”

Well, I had it, and the Scan revealed a discolored area in my lower intestine.  I’ll never forget the day Dr. B asked, “Did your wife come with you?”  Folks, take it from me, when you see your physician, one of the last things you want him or her to ask is, “Did your wife [or husband] come with you?”  I said my wife was present and he went and got her, and we all convened in the examination room.  The only things missing were a Grief Lady and Chopin’s Funeral March.  Dr. B held his fingers an inch apart, indicating the size of my probable cancerous tumor, and I smiled with as much fortitude as I could and kissed my ass goodbye. 

Hallelujah, it wasn’t curtains!  I’ll skip some painful details.  Another CT Scan, some more blood tests, and a gastroenterologist would finally, finally, nail it down.  I had Celiac disease, a severe allergy caused by gluten, a protein found mainly in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley.  This digestive disease can be hard to diagnose because it has over 250 symptoms, and no two cases are the same.  Also, many of its symptoms are nonspecific and can occur in other diseases.  Celiac disease is often but not always genetically inherited, and in my case, it had lain dormant in my system for the unlikely period of nearly seven decades.  One out of 100 people has this condition, but more and more folks are finding themselves affected in this age of processed foods.  As for my floating brain syndrome, my hematologist told me last year it’s a psychotic effect some of those with Celiac disease experience as a result of eating wheat.

After I was diagnosed, the process of recovery was slow and torturous as the villi in the inner wall of my small intestine which absorb food and nutrients had to recover and straighten.  Indeed, despite my efforts, I continued to lose weight.  One thirty . . .  One twenty-eight . . . One twenty-five . . . One twenty.  If I turned sideways, I disappeared in the mirror.  I was so weak, I couldn’t even run, and it was a struggle to dress myself.

One day, still a bit blotchy with an itchy red rash, I gazed at a class of students I loved and told them I could not continue.  We had begun a literary journey of the creative imagination together, I said, and I wanted so much to complete it with them.  Try as I might, though, I would not be there to reach the finish line at their side except in spirit.

It was painful to say this.   I knew it wasn’t my fault, but I still felt I had failed them.  

Then something happened that had never happened before in all my years of teaching.

Every student in my class rose to their feet and formed a line around the room, waiting patiently to hug me.

Some of them even hugged me twice.

Back at home, I was semi-bedridden for about a month.  Talk about being limp, listless human meat.  My wife climbed the stairs and brought me my meals, which I could barely eat because I had no appetite.  I came to hate the sight of those eight ounce bottles of Ensure which I was forced to drink because they provided 350 calories.  I sometimes think Jane kept me alive, that I’d be dead except for her.

Lying there, I came to empathize more and more with the sick and afflicted, especially those sicker than me who might lack the benefit and comfort of insurance, doctors, and caregivers.  All we have are our bodies and our spirits, and our health and our senses can be taken away in a heartbeat.  I already knew this of course, but it bears repeating.  We don’t own our good health, our good looks, our success, or the fortunate way our brains are wired.  We don’t possess them because of any moral or spiritual superiority we have over others, or any special favoritism we have received from God.  Recently Mary Firmin wrote an essay entitled “Alcoholism.”  Some people are blessed enough to be able to drink a beer or a glass of wine without risk of addiction.  For others it’s like walking a tightrope above an abyss.  In some ways alcoholism is a mysterious disease, too.  Some of us are just luckier than others. 

Dear Reader, if you type Mysterious Diseases into your browser, you will find all sorts of strange, bizarre, and often unsolved and incurable maladies.  Perhaps new ones will appear in the future, and it will be impossible to prepare for them.

As for me, my doctor informs me I’ve made a “tremendous recovery.”  Thanks to Prednizone, a steroid, I developed a voracious appetite and finally managed to gain weight, although later it caused a cataract to ripen in my right eye that half-blinded me overnight.  Today I weigh as much as I did before and live an almost normal life.  However, while my disease is in remission, it remains, and I must take meds daily for it.  Above all, I must avoid gluten at all costs.  For example, if I go to Wendy’s or any other fast food place, I take my own gluten-free, poorer textured, and less tasty bread if I want a sandwich, avoiding their wheat-packed buns and flavorful varieties such as the one featured at the front of this essay.  Also, I shun items such as macaroni, doughnuts, and greasy pizza, no matter how much I crave them.

It’s a small price to pay for staying alive.

                                                                 * * * * * * * * * *

John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance.  He’s the former editor of Horror Magazine and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association.  Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens.

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I’m a member of The Write Room Blog, a young, growing community of over thirty writers.  We are a diverse group, no two of us the same, and we have many creative activities.   On The Write Room Blog, one of our activities is to write two different blog posts a week, some of which are revealing, inspiring, and disturbing, occasionally at the same time.  Below an honest woman shares her demon, alcoholism, and her long, difficult battle for sobriety. Read about it in The White Room Blog.


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Honeymoon-Rhodesian Style

Honeymoons – Do you remember yours?  Probably your Honeymoon didn’t – or won’t – feature an adventure quite like this.   (No, it’s not like the picture below.)


I’m a member of The Write Room Blog, a young, growing community of over thirty writers.  We are a diverse group, no two of us the same, and we have many creative activities.   On The Write Room Blog, one of our activities is to write two different blog posts a week.  Below is the blog just written by Trish Jackson, an emotive romantic suspense writer.   Click on the link below and it will take you to an experience on our site you will not soon forget.





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1. THE-MERRY-GO-ROUND MAN.  To be published soon by Crossroad Press at  Below are the two excellent covers by Clarissa which were done with somewhat different objectives and readerships in mind.  Here is the summary the publisher provided the artist: “Three boys grow up in Ohio – discovering themselves, sex, and their futures.  Main character is a Jewish boy who can box, and nearly wins the Golden Gloves tournament – and can also draw and paint, and wants to be an artist.  There is also an Afro American boy who first robs a delicatessen, and then ends up working for the old man and owning it – and the third boy – very good looking, well off, who seems able to get any girl (and then woman) he wants but seems also addicted to doing so… The cover should be about the artist, boxer, though…if possible.”

Can you guess which cover we decided on?


Here’s the second cover:


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A NEW Kind of SUPER Hero

Super Heroes with Super Powers . . . We got ‘em!  They can leap tall buildings at a single bound and twist into all kinds of shapes while flying through nine different dimensions.  And all this while looking Super Hero Handsome, Beautiful, Sexy, or just, well, imposing.


It seems that human beings crave all kinds of spectacular and god-like beings to save them from their humdrum lives and daily problems.  It just seems to me that in addition to Superman, Iron Man, and all the rest, we need a few with a few more practical and down-to-earth powers.  For example:

1. Politico Man (or Woman) – This Super Hero would look like Mr. Peepers or your Maiden Aunt and with a wave of the hand would cut through all the bulls*it and bloviating in Washington.  This person would change our representatives’ minds and attitudes and enable the President and Congress to work together, enacting sensible legislation in a timely manner that would actually help the country and the economy.   Can you imagine that?

2.  Hacker Man – You know what happened to customers’ credit cards at Target and other stores.  Well, Hacker Man would Hack the Hackers and crunch the cyber-criminals.  He would sniff out these sleazeballs before they could breach our data and commit nine kinds of financial and identity theft. Finally, he’d bring them to justice.  

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3.  Grammar and Composition Man – Have trouble matching subjects up with verbs or constructing a decent sentence?  If so, the three or five paragraph sentence is probably light-years beyond you.  If so, Grammar and Composition Man or Woman would fly by at just the right moment and be your Muse, whether you are speaking in public, filling out an application form, writing a twenty page paper for that exacting professor, or what-have-you.  Whatever the case, English, or whatever the language, would become your favorite subject.

4. Mr. or Ms. Right or Wrong Man – Can’t make up your mind whether to go out with that guy or gal?  Just ask Mr. or Ms. Right or Wrong Man and save yourself a lot of potential headaches.  Why invest weeks, months, or years in someone who will ultimately prove to be a loser and break your heart and wallet?  This SUPER Hero can take one look at somebody and tell you the score.  C’mon, isn’t that better than a hundred Marvel comics?

5. Number 5 is for you, Dear Reader.  Can you add to this list of practical SUPER Heroes that we need more than the often silly ones who fill our childish fantasies?  If so, comment on this site, and I’ll both publish your comments and add them to this post.


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Weirder than Weird (Writers, That Is)

Weird Writers and Their Weird Habits!  

There are four winners in the contest for Writers with Weird Habits. To refresh your memory, just check below.  I said I’d give a free copy of one of my stories to the winners and would post the winning subs.  Here, as promised, are the winners and their subs.

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1.  Loren writes that just as Victor Hugo locked away his clothes in his house to finish the The Hunchback of Notre Dame, “I recently hit on a similar technique when I lent out my car for a few months.”  Now, some of us might consider this to be a bit extreme, but it worked and she got her car back!

2.  Kate Larkindale says, “I don’t think I have any super-weird habits like these [the writerly habits in the last post] but I never finish work for the day at the end of a scene or chapter.  I always write a few lines into the next one so I know where I was going when I pick up again the next day.”  Hmm, sounds sensible and practical to me.  What’s weird, though, is often in the eye of the beholder.

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3.   Rhea Rhodan writes, “When writing a draft, I employ Kate’s technique as well. For generating ideas (either between or during stories), I often use a (randomly drawn) pair of tarot cards as writing prompts. One such scene prompted my most recent release (The Legacy of Buchanan’s Crossing), and I used several tarot-pair generated scenes in it as well. I blogged about it last week here: ” 

Rhea concludes by asking, “Does this count?”

I informed Rhea that it most certainly does, and I urge you all to click on her link and visit the site to see what she means.  What beautiful graphics!  It would be hard not to feel some kind of inspiration upon beholding them.  I might add that writing prompts, whether of graphics, posters, sentences, or what-have-you, have been often used to inspire creativity.  

4. Last, my friend Jas Calhoun writes, “I have a really strange habit.  I send stuff to you.”  Stuff being poems, etc. he writes.  And I guess sending stuff to ME is even stranger than being Jas Calhoun.


Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is sometimes known as “The Recluse of Amherst,” for she lived most of her lonely life alone within the four walls of her home.  Her nearly 1800 poems contain no titles or dates.  Talk about her neurotic and eccentric habits which I won’t go into except to say they are often part of the price one pays for being a creative genius.    

Kelton Reid, in “8 Strange Rituals of Productive Writers” ( writes:

“Charles Dickens and Henry Miller both used to wander around Europe trying to get lost, a technique that psychologists say can foster creativity. 

“My friend and prolific travel journalist Adam Skolnick used to write only in a sarong.

“Steven Pressfield uses an ancient ritual of reciting Homer’s invocation of the Muse before he types a word.  He’s in good company, as they were invoked by Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer too.”

Enough strange habits and rituals for now.  Perhaps sanity and conformity are the true weirdness.

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I’ve often thought my method of writing was STRANGE.  I’m a pantzer, which means I make it up as I go along, and I keep multiple copies on my computer, so if I title my file Tomorrow1, I may keep adding longer versions until I reach Tomorrow8, Tomorrow9 and so on.  Another habit I have is to go into a particular Barnes & Noble and just wander about, letting my mind drift and my eyes go here and there.  I’ll see something–often a book cover, title, or something even less substantial–and sometimes INSPIRATION WILL STRIKE and a whole story idea will just leap into my head!  I’ve written over a dozen good stories this way and sold them, too!

But great writers have even weirder, quirkier creative habits, and I’d like to borrow some examples from Maria Popova’s The Odd Habits and Curious Customs of Famous Writers which can be found at She in turn derives her examples from Celia Blue Johnson’s Odd Type Writers: From Joyce and Dickens to Wharton and Welty, the Obsessive Habits and Quirky Techniques of Great Authors.

*** Edgar Allan Poe, for example, “wrote his final drafts on separate pieces of paper attached into a running scroll with sealing wax.”  

Edgar-Allan-Poe-9443160-1-402*** Jack Kerouac liked scrolling, too.  In 1951 “he wrote On The Road in one enormously one strip of paper,” something which made his editor ask how they could possibly edit it.

*** James Joyce “wrote lying on his stomach in bed, with a large blue pencil, clad in a white coat, and composed most of Finnegan’s Wake with crayon pieces on cardboard.”  But he basically had to do it this way because “he was nearly blind.”

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*** Virginia Woolf . . . Popova writes, “In her twenties, she spent two and a half hours every morning writing, on a three-and-half-foot-tall desk with an angled top that allowed her to look at her work both up-close and from afar.” Apparently, though, this “trendy standing desk was less a practical matter than a symptom of her sibling rivalry with her sister.”  Kind of like which writer has the better, more impressive computer, laptop, etc. ? 

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*** “Truman Capote wouldn’t begin or end a piece of work on a Friday, would change hotel rooms if the room phone number involved the number 13, and never left more than three cigarette butts in his ashtray, tucking the extra ones into his coat pocket.”  TALK ABOUT SUPERSTITION.

*** But then Jack London “wrote 1,000 words a day every single day of his career and William Golding once declared at a party that he wrote 3,000 words daily.”  Maria Popova states that “Many authors measured the quality of their output by uncompromisingly quantitative metrics like daily word quotas.”  If you who are reading this post happen to be an author, does her statement apply to you?  If so, how and in what way?

*** Victor Hugo… What a strange case!  Facing a “seemingly impossible deadline” with The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831, he “practically put himself under house arrest for months.”  The poor guy “locked away his clothes to avoid any temptation of going outside.”  Popova reports that “He finished the book weeks before deadline, using up the whole bottle of ink” he had bought “to write it.”  Talk about dedication!

*** Finally, Friedrich Schiller let apples rot in his desk drawer so the “aroma produced” (probably methane gas) would inspire him to create.  His wife Charlotte said he “could not live or work without it.”

Hey, do NOT try this at home!

****CONTEST ALERT: These are just a few weird, quirky, and bizarre writer habits.  I’m sure there are some even stranger and far beyond Jupiter.  Scribblers, I’ll make you a deal.   If you have any strange, odd, or outlandish writer traits, please send me a comment of 200 words or less describing them either at this website or at my e-mail address,  I’ll not only PUBLISH the top five I like best, but I’ll send you a FREE E-BOOK of one of my short stories.  This CONTEST will last one week, until February 21, at midnight.  Until then, keep writing weird!****

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