Monthly Archives: November 2016

Uninvited Houseguests

That’s what Jean Renoir’s 1932 movie Boudu Saved from Drowning, Paul Mazursky’s 1986 flick Down and Out in Beverly Hills, and Christmas Karma have in common.

renoir-b down
FB_cover.indd Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932)

Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)

Christmas Karma (2014) La Puerta

The Golden Glow of the Gilded Age


Evening on the Avenue, New York City – Original Oil on Canvas by G. Harvey (J Watson Fine Art)

I saw this painting in a recent issue of Southwest Art magazine, which covers fine art, and not just of cowboys and cattle.

It evokes a holiday feeling of yesteryear on the streets of uptown Manhattan, something we can imagine even if we’ve never experienced. The warm glow reminds us this was near the end of the gaslight era.

My historical novel Bonfire of the Vanderbilts takes place back then. I live in Los Angeles now, but looking at G. Harvey’s painting makes me think about frigid, gunmetal-gray days when reading a freshly-minted paper book by the fire was just the perfect thing.

Feeling Blue on Black Friday?

Christmas Karma book cover sketch and finished cartoon by Gary Palmatier, Ideas to Images

Christmas Karma book cover sketch and finished cartoon by Gary Palmatier, Ideas to Images

As the holidays approach, I’m not necessarily happy about it.

I wrote Christmas Karma after I’d gone through a series of personal losses. I think in those situations everyone experiences a whole spectrum of emotions, from bewilderment, to anger, and even at times some relief that your dear one’s suffering is over. And then I thought about how, if the soul is truly immortal – and, if so, it can’t ever be hurt, harmed, or endangered – wouldn’t it have a sense of humor?

You don’t need to have any particular brand of religious faith – or any at all – to enjoy this book. Most of all, please don’t take any of it too seriously. And if you post reviews – and I hope you will – please hold back the spoilers! If the sometimes bewildering plot twists entertained you, you’ll understand why it wouldn’t be, ah, good karma to give the game away.

May it bring you some welcome tears and laughter.

Not Just Another WordPress Site


LaPuerta – “The Door”

My friend and colleague Steven Sanchez advises companies and authors how to develop websites, exploit social media, and use WordPress in particular. After I took in a seminar he gave last week for the Independent Writers of Southern California (, I realized that my Web activities needed some reorganization. As you can see from the menus in the sidebar of this new site, I’m active in a lot of places. But there was no hub, nowhere I put my stake in the ground and called it my center.

So here it is, thanks in large measure to Steven’s advice –, a place where this author can rave and rant. I plan to be thoughtful here and to encourage your comment and debate. Let’s get past the cute videos (not that I don’t enjoy them) and the snippets. And the memes, whatever those are.

As to the picture, the name of my small press and production company is LaPuerta.