My blog post today has nothing to do with the The Temple of the Exploding Head book series, I just feel like telling a (mostly) true story.

I come from the south-coastal bend of Texas, even today a rather remote and forlorn place. In the old days it was, quite literally, the backwater of both the United States and of Mexico, far away from everything.

Several years ago, two cousins of mine were hard at work digging a trench somewhere on the property of another one of my cousins, a doctor (everybody is a cousin down there). As they swatted flies and toiled in the hot sun, one of their shovels hit something solid. Clearing the silty soil away, my two cousins uncovered an old wooden box–obviously it had been there for a while. Pulling the heavy box out at last and cracking open the lid, they discovered the interior was filled with dozens of gold coins stamped “Bank of Mexico”. Amazed at their good fortune, my cousins did the worse thing they could have possibly done: they took the box to my doctor cousin, showed him what they’d unearthed, and asked if they could keep the box and the gold within. (I’d have kept my yap shut, thrown the chest in the back of the truck and called

My Doctor cousin’s reply was predictable–he said “no”. Since the chest was found on his land, it therefore belonged to him. He thanked them for their back-breaking labor in uncovering it and bade them get back to work, minus the chest of treasure.

Gold has the power to divide men, and soon my cousins were in a heated argument over the chest. Soon things began to get out of hand. Soon the Sheriff arrived, and that’s when things got really bad.

The Sheriff impounded the gold until it could be determined who was the rightful owner, and there were no shortage claimants.

Pancho Villa

–First were my two cousins: they dug it up after all. It should be theirs.
–Next was my Doctor cousin: The gold was found on his land, it therefore belongs to him.
–The State of Texas stepped in, claiming the gold was a mineralogical find and therefore belonged to the state.
–A group of claimants from Camargo, Mexico came forward. They claimed their ancestor rode with the great Pancho Villa, drinking, stealing and killing in the 1800’s. They claimed their ancestor stole that gold fair and square from a Mexican bank and buried it, never to return. Their ancestor stole the gold, and therefore it belonged to them.
–An insurance company based in Tobasco, Mexico popped up. They argued they had paid an insurance claim for that lost gold in 1876, and to recoup their loss, the gold was theirs.
–The Bank of Mexico stepped in. Clearly, the gold belonged to them as it was stamped on the coins.

The legal wrangling over the gold had just begun.

Meanwhile, the site where the chest had been taken became plagued with supernatural activity.

The Weeping Woman

Ranchers in the area saw and heard La Llorona, The Weeping Woman, a fixture of latin folklore–a lost woman who had drowned her children in order to please her love and was prevented from entering heaven. The Weeping Woman is said to appear in places of strife and conflict, looking for her lost children with gouged-out eyes And, there she was, gliding on ethereal light. She was even said to have been seen peering through the windows of the Sheriff’s Office.

Eventually, ghost or no ghost, the gold seemed to have disappeared from the Sheriff’s Office, though it was recovered later by investigators from the state.

The gold was ordered divided up between all parties involved and wasn’t enough to cover the legal fees that had been incurred. The wooden box was returned to the hole in the ground where it came from in an attempt to appease the Weeping Woman. It must have worked, for she vanished back to the dusty bowers from whence she came.

As in all things, golden booty does little except stir up the ire of men and all the old ghosts that come with it.

Bowl Naked

Carol Phillips

Carol Phillips is truly amazing. For three years now she’s been cranking out cover and interior art for The League of Elder book series, and I never cease to be amazed at the artwork she produces to match my crazy ideas. Carol is certainly The Queen of the League of Elder.

When we began planning the cover art for Book V: The Temple of the Exploding Head, the clear choice of scene was the Temple itself–it was only natural. The Temple is a rotten place, full of noise and death. A carnal orgy and rave has been going on inside the Temple for ages untold without stop or pause, and the Horned God has presided over it all, ever thirsty for more. As I described the scene to Carol, it was a phantasmagoric ride of cages and skulls and torn flesh, a captured Carahil, a demented Sam and a lonely, outnumbered Kay facing it all alone.

The floor of the Temple was to be where the Worshippers of the Horned God hung out. As I described it to Carol, “bad things” were happening there. I’m uninhibited and Carol’s uninhibited as well and she’s game to tackle anything I throw at her. I figured that, given the complexity and size of the area involved, the worshippers would be tiny in the extreme and all the nastiness I described to her would be nothing more than a curious, stick-figure Mosh Pit.

Carol delivered the art to me today. Stick Figure Mosh Pit?? Guess again, Ren …

What I was looking at was a masterpiece of carnal art, horrific and starkly brutal and all completely clear and richly painted. I marveled at it, but, as I took in the details I quickly realized this viscera and sex fest would never fly and would have to be changed. I mean, I’m pretty fearless about these things, but, I need to give my publisher a bit of a break every now and again.

So, the scene has to change. I emailed Carol and we talked. She’s going to obscure the floor of the Temple in writhing fog, offering only an occasional glimpse as to what is happening within. All in all, I think it’ll add to the drama of the scene.

So, let that be a lesson to me. If I can dream it, Carol can paint it bold and proud.

Bowl Naked

copyright, 2011 Ren Garcia and Carol Phillips

I thought I’d take a moment to congratulate and praise my good friend Michelle Davidson Argyle on the release of her exciting new book Monarch from Rhemalda Publishing.

Nothing is status quo with Michelle, as we saw in her first novel, Cinders. She took the term “Happily ever After…” and spun it on its ear and determined that “Ever After” is really quite a long time–lots of things can happen “ever after”. You can expect Monarch to be no less innovative, taking the modern mystery and suspense thriller and shining it up to new heights.

Click Here for the full skinny on Monarch, a free first chapter and all the latest on Michelle’s comings and goings.

I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. After I watch the Buckeyes, I’ll be reading Monarch.

Way to go Michelle!!


I’m a small author. I have no illusions. I have my small but loyal fan base, and every day I add a few more, but it’s a lot of work. Keeping your brand moving is like a hamster running on the wheel–as long as the hamster is moving, the wheel turns, but, the moment he gets tired, goes for lunch or–God forbid–takes a day off, the wheel refuses to turn any further. It really would be nice if the wheel turned by itself. Keep on turning, you wheel you.

A key component of spreading the plague that is my brand is showing my smiling face: craft shows, bake shows, car shows, any place I can set up a table is fair game. And, truth be told, those lowly roadside shows can be a virgin goldmine: “You wrote this??” they cry. “Really?” An author standing proud amid fresh fruits and salted meats is a real novelty, and out comes the wallet and off goes the book sitting merry in its bag. Everybody wins.

A convention, on the other hand, is a whole different sort of cat. You got mind-scanned people coming and going in droll waves, you’ve got costumes and flashing lights and buffets of questionable foods … and you’ve got authors left and right, coming out of the baseboards, reading, speaking, standing in front of their tables, hucking and shucking. Wow! At a convention, being an author isn’t really a big deal. It’s pretty normal.

And then, you’ve got the handful of “Name Brand” folks moving about, the authors who are rather Big and have an Established Following, messiah-like amid the eager faithful. Just like in Lankhmar on the Street of the Gods, the bigger gods take their place at the end of the street and all the little gods and ragged priests line up nearby, hoping to snag a wayward or drunken worshipper or two. In such an environment, being shy and coy simply will not do. You cannot simply wait for the fish to jump into your boat, you’ve got to trawl for them.

My good friend Pete Grondin, author of the McKinney Brothers murder-mystery series, is a master at it. People pass by and Pete fearlessly casts his line: “Hey, lady! You like murder?” he asks to astonished stares and quickening paces. But, occasionally, people stop: “Yes, I do like murder,” they reply and the sale is transacted. So I sigh and give it a go: Hey! You like Science Fiction?? No? You like Fantasy? How about Romance … I got `em all!”

Oh is it tiring…

For me, the greatest value of attending a convention is the contacts and genuine friendships I make. I walk around and talk to the authors and show genuine interest in their work. I listen to them. I support them either with a pledge to mention them at future events or with my money. I speak on panels, and occasionally people remember that. I’ve met some great people. I met the incredible Shandahars–Tracy Chowdery and Ted Crim, and Denise Verrico. I got to know Nic and Fiona Brown of “Werewolf for Hire” fame, I met the sweet and misunderstood Elizadeth Hetherington (is she ever tall) and, of course the amazing and also upbeat Stephen Zimmer. I come out of these conventions exhausted, a little soiled, but enriched–people who didn’t know I existed before know me afterward and that is worth it all.

I sometimes wonder what it might be like to be the Brand Name, the Big God sitting at the end of the street entertaining throngs of followers. Does the Big God know the names of his followers, can he recall their faces?? Certainly, it can’t be as fun and fulfilling as snagging that select person or two and making a real connection. Now that’s a happy ending.

Bowl Naked


At long last, the oft mentioned but seldom seen Issue One of the League of Elder Graphic Novel is nearing completion!!

It took a bit of griping and a pinch of threatening along the way. Recall the mean things I said in previous posts. I said:

“…I’m looking at you, boys, and I’ve got my gun …”

“I’ve a nice vacant lot all picked out where your bodies, belted shut, Hefty-bagged and painted blue, will spend the rest of eternity…”

…but, just look at the results. Daniel Morris and Jon Harvey are rolling away. The Graphic novel with be a four issue conversion of Book I: Sygillis of Metatron.

Daniel speaks:

"Captain Davage" by Jon Harvey

We’ve had some delays, some avoidable, some not, but seem to finally be hitting a good working pace. We are very excited to see the miniseries progressing, and look forward to seeing it in print. Jon has done some wonderful art for the first book, and I have no doubt he’ll only get better as we progress. We both hope we are doing the original story justice.

Look for more on the LoE Graphic Novel soon!
copyright 2011, Ren Garcia

This post has nothing to do with my current book series, the Temple of the Exploding Head. This is just a musing …

When I woke up this morning, I thought that was it. There was blood all over our bed; not thin pinkish nosebleed blood–this was deep red and thick, from the heart.

Our dogs: (From Left to right) Badger, Baby, Lucy and Ginger

The blood had come from our dog, Lucy. Lucy is a red Dachshund, twelve years old, overweight and nearly blind. She’s not been herself for awhile now. Her vision started to go a few years ago, and her epic Dachshund nose that used to amaze us with its power got dull and numb. She doesn’t walk much anymore, she just sort of waddles and we have to carry her most everywhere. She’s got funny lumps under her skin here and there.

And this blood thing seemed to be the last straw. I called the Vet and explained that … maybe it might be time to … give Lucy peace. I thought I was taking my dog to die today.

When we got there, they showed us into the little room where dogs and cats go to … you know. It was small, just a couch with a little table. A water slide gurgled and a miniature rock garden sat nearby spewing aroma therapy. And there were pictures on the wall–of dogs and cats who’d seen their lives come to an end in that room. There was Buster, a Basset Hound and Jenny, a white-masked Golden Retriever. There was Snookers and Flo and Penny and an old tabby Gabbs.

The pictures were like a huddle of tombstones in a quaint yard washed in sunshine. There was plenty of space for more pictures, more tombstones. Would a picture of Lucy in her happy, barking younger days soon join the others?

Lucy: June 14, 2000 – Sept 3, 2011???

The Vet came in and sat on the floor.

Lucy trembled

Lucy, the day we brought her home from the store

The Vet looked her over. The blood came from a deep cyst on her leg that had busted open. Pretty common actually. Having drained, it looked much better. The Vet checked her legs–mild arthritis due to her age and weight.

She asked about her appetite. Good, Great–Lucy never misses a meal.

The Vet prescribed a doggie version of ibuprofen for Lucy and an antibiotic for her leg. She thought Lucy still had a lot of life in her.

So Lucy came back out of the Death Room, blind and silent, but alive and with the promise of more life.

We took her home and gave Lucy her first dose of medication. Soon, she was walking around again. Soon, she was splitting our ears with barking like she used to. We bought her a new toy and she took it and squeaked it and shook it around. Right now my dog sits at my feet, asleep, resting her head on her new toy, carrying it with her everywhere, just like she used to.

I don’t know how much longer we’ll have Lucy with us, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ll never forget the day I took my dog to the Death Room, and she came back out again with a new lease and a lesson for the landlord.

Bowl Naked