Thursday, August 25, 2016


 I started out to write a short-short story, but it ended up just a plain old short story. So I’ll have to split it in two. You get the exciting finale next week. Now let me introduce my nameless protagonist and his pet chicken.
Courtesy of common

The chicken hawk stared down from atop the electric company’s pole like it was fixing to come take a chunk outa me. Wasn’t really a chicken hawk, but you’d never convince my pa of that. He’d lost too many chicks to red-tails like this one. Big sucker. Must be a female. I heard tell they grow bigger’n the males.
A familiar clucking pulled me around to see Beulah, the Rhode Island Red I’d raised from a chick, scooting toward me. Most of our hens are Red Sex-Links ‘cause they’re about the lest layers around. Get a big, brown egg ever day  of the  year if you don’t count weekends. Beulah don’t produce nothing like that, but I’ll swear I can tell her fried over-easies from all the rest.
Most folks don’t figure layin’ hens have much sense or get attached to nobody like regular pets do. But Beulah comes running whenever I step off the back porch and trails me around the barnyard like a puppy.
Now that I seen her, I guessed that old hawk wasn’t eyeballing me at all. She’d been studying Beulah. At something better’n six pounds, the hen would make two of the raptor. But she didn’t have talons and a flesh-tearing beak like the hawk.
“Better scoot on back to the coop,” I told her. “See that big old red-tail? She’s been keeping an eye on you. Go on. Scoot.” I shooed her away, but she only went a half dozen steps before turning back and clucking like she was scolding me or something. I eased her away with my boot. Don’t know if you’ve ever seen a chicken looking offended before, but Beulah can manage it just fine. As she stalked off toward the safety of the big chicken wire pen that surrounded the hen house, I watched her precise, prissy little steps preceded by a thrust of the head ever time she shifted her weight.
Ain't sure what alerted me. Maybe it was just pure caution, but when I looked up at the light pole, that big bird was dropping down on us, talons outstretched and beak wide open. I let out a shout and rushed toward Beulah, but I was too far away. Even so, my flailing arms disturbed the hawk’s concentration. Those grasping claws closed on Beulah’s back, but came away with only a clutch of feathers.
Beulah went nuts. She squawked and ran in circles as fast as those skinny legs would carry her. As the raptor soared away, my baby ran straight for me, and with a flurry of feathers, flew right up against my chest, almost setting me on my butt. I recovered and held her to my chest, her head hidden in my armpit, her little chicken heart thumping away like a jackhammer.
“It’s okay, sweetie,” I cooed. “Bad old hawk ain't gonna get you.” I held her up with her narrow head right in front of my eyes.  Her red comb was a little frazzled from getting frostbit last winter. “But you gotta be more careful. We ain’t got little yella chicks running around the yard right now, so she’s set her sights on you.”
I smoothed her feathers, checked for broken skin on her back where the talons had slashed at her, and set Beulah back on the ground. “Get on in the coop now.”
She minded me this time.

Obviously, that’s not the last of Old Red. That hawk’s bound to be back for another pass at Beulah. Try to hold your blood pressure and pulse rate down until next week, okay? By the way, does this story reveal my Oklahoma roots?

Feel free to mail me at As always, thanks for being readers.

New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The BJ Vinson Mystery Series

How many times have you been told: Know your strengths but also know your weaknesses. I happen to think I write reasonably well. Well enough to claim it as a strength, at any rate. But I also know I suck at self-promotion. When it comes to social media, let’s just say the word “social” disappears. What that means, of course, is that I am not now nor will I ever be on the New York Times bestsellers' list.

I recently attended a lecture at a SouthWest Writer’s meeting where the speaker expounded on this subject. He was a very successful local author who works almost as hard at promoting his books as he does writing them. His intent was to inspire the rest of us writers and provide some very helpful procedures to allow us to emulate his success.

Alas, all he did was convince me that I am constitutionally unable to sell myself. He did, however, make one suggestion that I can use. “If you have reviews of your work, post them on your web site." Eureka! I have reviews. So I’m not writing this post. Five other people are. Individuals who come from the ranks of the finest people in my world—readers!

Below are the last five reviews posted to Amazon on THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT and THE BISTI BUSINESS. As regular readers know, DSP Publications has picked up this series, and Zozobra is to be reborn on November 15, 2016 with Bisti due out March 21, 2017. THE CITY OF ROCKS will see the light of day for the first time about four months after Bisti is released.

The XXX's below represent the number of stars awarded by the reviewer.

J. V. Mills reviewed The Zozobra Incident (A BJ Vinson Mystery Series Book 1)
XXXXX A Great story

Very suspenseful. Some alluded to sex, but nothing graphic. Compelling read for me, enjoyed the conclusion, though the author could have spent a bit more time closing it all down. To read about the trial and the other bits of story line would have bben a great way to wrap it all nice and tidy.

Fair Reviews reviewed The Zozobra Incident (A BJ Vinson Mystery Series Book 1)
XXXXX Excellently Written Mystery

Don Travis writes a colorful, tightly constructed mystery. For anyone interested in New Mexico, he peppers his story with fascinating information about the cultural and historical foundations of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The Zozobra Incident is a very good first offering from Travis and will make you anxious for more.

Stephen B reviewed The Bisti Business (A BJ Vinson Mystery Book 2)XXXXX he Bisti Business is a Good Read

The gay PI, B. J. Vinson, takes us around the desert country of New Mexico to solve the case of a missing young man from California who is traveling with his lover. For anyone who lives in or has visited New Mexico, the desert landscape offers a challenge to anyone caught unprepred for the relentless heat. Don Travis puts you in the action and you feel you are there. "The Bisti Business" will have you convinced of whodunit before you foind out you hung your hat on a red herring. And there are plenty of them. This is a book that keeps you wanting more. You won't be able to put it down until everything is known. This is Don Travis' second novel following "The Zozobra Incident." Read that one first so you have a feel for the characters when they are introduced again in "The Bisti Business."

Don Travis is my new favorite author. I look forward to his next mystery.

Richard L. Thomas reviewed The Zozobra Incident (A bJ Vinson Mystery Series Book 1)
XXXX Great gay detective.

Love having a gay detective series when I can go on a new adventure with good plots and realistic stories. I will be looking for more of this series.

English teacher reviewed The Bisti Business (Volume 2)
XXXXX Good mystery!

Of the two books I read by Don Travis, this was the better. The setting is interesting and the characters appealing.


I hope this was of some interest to you. Keep on reading, guys. Feel free to contact me at

New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


How about a bit of nonsense this week? I don’t know where these things come from. The word snuff popped into my head, so I sat down and wrote something using the word. Like I say, it’s a fluff piece, but I hope it brings you a chuckle or two. Not only that, but it’s written in the present tense. I NEVER write in the present tense. This is beginning to worry me.

Sinclair Nevaeh Fleurette. That’s my name. And I hate it! How’d you like to haul that load of alphabets around on your back? Sinclair’s not so bad… compared to the rest, that is. Mom says it’s old English for the French Norman town of Saint Clair. But come on, what can you do with the name. The familiar for Robert is Bob or Rob. William is Bill or Billy. Sinclair is… well, Sinclair. Sure don’t want anyone calling me Sin or—less yet—Clair.
But Nevaeh? Pronounce it for me, will you? Half the time it comes out wrong, so I always just put down N as a middle initial. Where does it come from? I’ll tell you where. My old man likes the rock group P.O.D., and when the vocalist named his daughter Heaven turned around backward, Frank Flourette thought that was neat. Didn’t he realize Sonny Sandoval was naming a girl, for crying out loud? He’s also probably cool with P.O.D standing for Payment on Death. So there’s no help for me there. Being called Nav wouldn’t be so bad, except I’d be explaining what it stood for all the time.
Some guys get called by their last name? You know, “Hey, Jones” or “How’s it going, Irons?” Nobody wants to say Fleurette… except the teacher who’s always calling me Mr. Fleurette. You know what it’s like to be called Fleurette in the middle of the high school gym? Thank goodness, I’m an only child, so nobody else has to put up with it. Except Mom. But Mrs. Flourette doesn’t sound all that bad. My dad? He’s Frank to everybody in town.
So all the other kids settled the problem for me… like they usually do. They came up with their own name. Fortunately, it wasn’t what I was afraid they would settle on… Flower, or worse Little Flower. They took my initials SNF and turned it into Snuff. So that’s what I’m called, and have been for years by everyone under the age of twenty-one in this little Oklahoma town. Snuff! Ain’t that grand?
At the beginning of this school year—my senior class—a new family moved to town. All the way from Quebec up in Canada. French Canadian, everyone says they are. All I know is their youngest daughter is in my homeroom class, and she caught my eye right off the bat. Small, heart-shaped face. Pink, rosy cheeks. Pouty, cherry red lips. And she talks with just the slightest accent, which she claims comes from speaking French in the family. Her name is Antoinette. Not An-to-net, but An-twoi-nette. Beautiful… just like she is.
When the teacher has us go around the room and introduce ourselves, her eyes fix on me when I say the word Fleurette. Later, when I discover we have adjoining lockers, she smiles, dimpling one of those rosy cheeks, and pronounces my last name. It flows off her lips like a bubbling brook slipping over moss covered-rocks. Lyrical. Poetic. Beautiful.
All of a sudden, my last name isn’t so bad after all. Certainly better than Snuff.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why I’m posting this. If you come up with something that makes sense, email me at As always, thanks for being readers.

New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Within the last two weeks, I’ve received official publication notices from DSP Publications for the first two of the three BJ Vinson Mysteries.

The official release date for THE ZOZOBRA INCIDENT is set as November 15, 2016. This book was first issued as an ebook in April 2011, followed shortly thereafter by a print trade book. The new release by DSP Publications has been extensively edited, and I believe it’s a better story as a result.

The official release date for THE BISTI BUSINESS has been set for March 21, 2017. This book first appeared as a trade book in 2012. Just as for ZOZOBRA, the manuscript underwent a heavy editing process as I worked with DSP editors to improve this book.

The release date for the third novel in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, THE CITY OF ROCKS, has not been announced, but should follow BISTI by about four months. This third novel, as yet unpublished, continues the adventures of our protagonist, gay confidential investigator BJ Vinson, and his partner Paul Barton, a graduate student pursuing an advanced degree in journalism at the University of New Mexico.

The first book in the series is centered in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The second draws us all over northwestern New Mexico. CITY takes us to the southern part of the state down into the Boot Heel country. If you haven’t figured it out by now, the great State of New Mexico plays an important part in the series.

I know that it’s wishing my life away, but I can hardly wait until November 15.  Let me hear from you at As always, thanks for being readers.

New Posts published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

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