An unexpected do-over

Me and Don Baseball

Don Clarkson and I were baseball umpiring partners for five years. During that time, he told me stories about his life as a Green Beret during the Vietnam War. I wove some of those accounts into a book, A Light in the Desert, which is set in Arizona in 1995 against the backdrop of the deadly cold-case sabotage of the Amtrak Sunset Limited .

My dear friend, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of Agent Orange poisoning, inspired me to write a book.  I self-published the story a long time ago. Later, a small publisher picked it up, but then the company closed.

Few people read the book. For authors, this is difficult. I’m not sure what to compare it to, but perhaps it’s like people not wanting to look at all those baby pictures proud parents and grandparents pass around.

Before Don Clarkson died in 2010, his wife read the story to him. She told me he liked it. At least I had that. But I had to face the fact that the book would be resigned to a drawer somewhere, the story largely forgotten.

As a former TV reporter and a sports official for 40 years, I’ve spent much of my life in a world where there are no do-overs. So, imagine my delight when the folks at the Amphorae Publishing Group – the same people that released The Scent of Rain – read my book and decided to take it on.

“We were drawn to the idea of the crime of derailing a passenger train and the connection to … domestic acts of terror,” said Kristy Makansi, an Amphoare Publishing Partner and Managing Editor. “And that a person who has done some terrible things in their life–even if in the service of a greater good–can suffer guilt and be redeemed through acts of kindness.”

A Light in the Desert will be available wherever books are sold on Tuesday November 6, 2018. The official launch will be held at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix the evening of November 30. Please come and join me and my dear friend and former TV personality Mary Jo West for a discussion and book signing.

As an author who’s been granted a do-over, I couldn’t be happier.

A Light in the Desert-cov (6)


Blank Slate Press/Amphorae Publishing Group

286 Pages

Price: $16.95 Paperback, $9.99 eBook

As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. As the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born in the wilderness.

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