Three Hoodies review The No-Campfire Girls. Or possibly the author of Three Hoodies Save the World reviews it … it gets confusing in the world of fiction writing.

All six Amazon reviews of the book can be found on—well, on Amazon.

Please spread the word about The No-Campfire Girls, and leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, wherever, if you’ve read the book. (If you haven’t read it, pass it along to yourself!) Just 99 cents on Kindle, with half the proceeds going to support Girl Scout Camp Latonka.


We’ve dropped the e-book price on The No-Campfire Girls from $1.50 to 99 cents, to celebrate the May 1st release of my humor book, Slightly Off the Mark! The print copy of our summer camp story remains $5.00, but if you’re hesitant to give us too much money, then hear this:


One third of the proceeds from The No-Campfire Girls was going to support Camp Latonka, the Missouri Girl Scout facility Emily called home for many years. That is now increased: Half of all profits from the book will go to maintenance and support costs to keep the camp operating. Can’t afford the five bucks you’d spend on some fancy Starbucks drink that will make you die young? Then get an e-book for what you’d spend on a vending machine can of pop that will make you die young!


So read about the story and get it here:


Or read about all my stories and get them here:


Don’t forget to leave a review, retweet, repost, pass it on, support the Scouts! Or at least support our writing costs. I’m cool with that.



My wife’s Girl Scout camp, Missouri’s Camp Latonka, just finished another successful camping season. Help keep them in business by buying a copy of The No-Campfire Girls, a humorous adventure set in summer camp. As chapter two opens, the campers officially get the bad news from Captain Quinn of the local fire department, that all fires are banned because of a drought:


“Getting fire trucks here isn’t easy or fast. It would only take a spark to burn down this entire camp, which would end your fun summer real fast.”

            “This sucks,” said a purple haired girl at the next table, loudly enough for half the room to hear. “Fire is fun. Maybe we should set fire to the tents to protest.”

Leaning toward Beth, Cassidy whispered in her ear. “Who’s the girl with the attitude?”

“Ronnie. We call her Rotten Ronnie, but not to her face. Rumor has it her nose is bent that way because she street-fights for grocery money.”

“Maybe somebody needs to make friends with her, like you did with me.”

“I tried.” Beth looked over toward Ronnie, who stubbornly did her best not to have a good time. “She said if I ever came close to her again, she’d set my hair on fire. Is that irony, this year? I think it is.”


            Print or e-book copies of The No-Campfire Girls can be ordered through my website at, with a portion of the proceeds going toward Camp Latonka operating costs. You can check out the first two chapters for free on my Amazon page:



            There I was, happily whacking away at the keyboard, working on a story that poked a little fun at the space opera genre, when they tried to shut down my wife’s Girl Scout camp.

            Well, we couldn’t let that happen. So I came back down to earth, rolled up my sleeves, and began whacking away at the keyboard.

            What? I have only so many skills.

            Emily’s second home was Camp Latonka. She first went there when she was three days old, became a counselor in training as soon as she was potty trained, and at age 12 was made a wrangler and put in charge of a string of eight hundred horses, which were later used to film a Clint Eastwood western.

            It’s possible I’m exaggerating. Just the same, my wife did spend many a summer there, became a counselor and an assistant wrangler, which I think means she had to hogtie the bad kids. She took me to tour the area in the off season, and I was also enchanted with Camp Latonka: rustic in a good way, wooded and hilly, bordering a beautiful lake. It’s a place, to coin a cliché, where memories were made. And of course, as any Scout will tell you, once a Scout, always a Scout.

            Then they, by which I mean the bigwigs in the Girl Scout organization, announced they were shutting it and a bunch of other camps down. I’ve already written a column about that momentous mistake, so all I’ll add is that saving Latonka seemed a lost cause.

            And I’m a sucker for lost causes.

            I mean, the only sports team I even follow is the Cubs, so there you go.

But how could I help? With maintenance? Their insurance is nowhere good enough for me to man a power tool. I could help with first aid, but as long as I’m not doing maintenance they shouldn’t need much. About the only thing I could do, especially from 500 miles away, is write.

What if I wrote a short story and sold it, with part of the profits going to a fund to help Camp Latonka? And some of the rest of the profits could go toward getting Emily and me down there when we’re needed to help with various non-maintenance things? I did something similar with the Albion Fire Department, writing a book that to this day remains one of the top five books about the Albion Fire Department’s history ever written.

So I set out, writing a short story that turned out to be a novella, because that’s how it works when I get excited about a project. A novella’s like a short novel, only I think these days you’re supposed to call them “little novels” to avoid offending short writers.

That story, The No-Campfire Girls, popped up on Amazon around May Third. Why May Third? Why not?

My girl’s camp is not a Girl Scout camp, because I don’t own the Girl Scouts (if I did I’d sell the corporate headquarters, rather than shut down camps). So I made up a new organization, and set my camp in Southern Indiana. It’s more or less halfway between my home and Camp Latonka. That’s the beauty of fiction: It’s fictional.

But by then I was tired of making things up, so I borrowed some characters from stories I’ve already written. After all, I needed teenage girls (Wow, that didn’t come out weird at all), and I already had a popular one from my first published novel, Storm Chaser. Beth Hamlin also had her own tale in my short story collection, so why not use her again? We should all recycle. I added her two friends, minor characters in the first story, so she wouldn’t get lonely.

Beth is playing double duty this year, since she’s also a character in The Notorious Ian Grant, which comes out in October. She’s fifteen: Keeping her busy keeps her out of trouble. The camp story’s not related to the others, so keep it quiet.

Then, because I needed some more characters for Beth to bounce off of, I stole three from my YA mystery Red Is For Ick. Don’t bother searching—it hasn’t been published. Yet.

            It’s so much easier—and fun—throwing together characters who already exist. Now I understand the attraction of writing fanfiction, except this story we can sell.

            The plot? Well, a story should have a story, and Beth’s the kind of girl who would love campfires. So what would happen if there was a drought, and the camp was told they couldn’t have campfires this summer? What if Beth, a do something type of person, went to extreme measures to bring rain so they could have campfires? And what if her attempts went horribly wrong, in a comic-adventure kind of way?

            Good questions.

            It being me, I threw in lots of disasters, along with humor that, as usual, I hope is humorous. It should be a fun read, and 30% of the proceeds will go to a good cause.

            Of course, proceeds of my next book after that will also go to a good cause: my retirement fund.


I’m blog surfing today over to Jana Denardo’s Livejournal:


Where I talk about why the painful writing life is better than not writing at all, the benefits of being in touch with other writers, and the bad old days when that never happened.

We received the first 25 print copies of The No-Campfire Girls today, and Emily spent some time polishing up the website to take orders. Of course, it’s still available on Amazon, but if you want one signed—by me or by both me and Emily, since she worked as hard at it as I did—you can order it here for $5.00 plus shipping and handling:

Or, if you live nearby, just let us know and we’ll get it to you! We’re not against traveling, but I don’t think the expenses are tax deductible. As you can see on the website, there are links to buying all our books in print or e-book format. If, for some reason, you can’t use PayPal, we’ll come up with some kind of arrangement.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( May. 13th, 2014 11:30 pm)

            If I could ask a favor of anyone who’s read “The No-Campfire Girls”: Please give me a review on Amazon! Reviews are one way for potential readers to learn about a book. While a great review is—well—great, a good review is certainly … um, good. Remember, a 5-star review is the best, while a 1-star review causes a fairy to drop dead. That’s my story. I mean, that’s my other story. Here’s the Amazon link for the book:


            Remember, 30% of proceeds for “The No-Campfire Girls” go to Friends of Camp Latonka, to offset maintenance costs and keep the camp open. If that doesn’t grab you, just enjoy a fun, fast read about a group of girls in a drought-stricken summer camp who decide to beat a fire ban—by making it rain.

Today my blog tour goes to the dogs with Bae, Sir Poops and Hair Ball on Shelly Arkon’s blog: 

Bae announces, in his own way, that we have print copies of The No-Campfire Girls on the way … and that the mailman who brings them is his.

My blog tour continues with fellow Ink-Slinger Kay Kauffman , whose blog is entitled, “Suddenly They All Died. The End.” Finally, someone finds the secret to trimming down those super-long fantasy novels!


We talk about story inspiration in general and for The No-Campfire Girls, as well as the horrors of not getting burned, and end with a cliffhanger:


            The No-Campfire Girls and all my books are available at my webpage, or on

Amazon now has the print version of The No-Campfire Girls available, as well as the e-book!


            And at 25 cents off the list price, for Prime members. I have no explanation: My understanding is they reduce the price automatically to match any other price on the same product—but there are no other prices on this product! I can only suggest you take advantage and save yourselves a quarter. The Amazon page for all my books, including The No-Campfire Girls, is:


            While the “official” announcement won’t come until next week, it seems once we got the technical glitches worked out Amazon was quick to put The No-Campfire Girls up as an e-book:


            In fact, we got our first sale before I knew it was available! The print version should be for sale there before the end of the weekend, if it’s not already, and we’ll have the website at ready soon to show the various ways to buy the book.


            Don’t forget, 30% of The No-Campfire Girls proceeds go toward Friends of Camp Latonka, to help with costs for the camp in southeast Missouri, which Emily attended and worked at. You can see the book’s description and dedication, and read chapter one, on




            Here’s Emily’s cover for The No-Campfire Girls:


“I liked the idea of an earthy, summer camp type cover, with the little campfire logo that hints at the book’s main content, although I’m disturbed that Emily set my name on fire.”


            Still a few publishing glitches, but we found the alleged problem and should have it up for Kindle tomorrow, and hopefully the print version on Amazon, too. Anyone who’s interested in joining up on a blog tour, let me know.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( May. 1st, 2014 10:13 am)
Cover reveal for The No-Campfire Girls coming tonight, if all goes well. If anyone's interested in hosting me on a blog tour for the book (or being hosted!) let me know.
 Look for an upcoming blog tour in conjunction with the May release of The No-Campfire Girls; thanks to my Google group The Ink-Slingers League for getting the ball rolling on that. We were slowed down in setup work because Emily had a stomach bug, but she feels better and we're still shooting for publication in a few weeks.

            The first proof copy of The No-Campfire Girls is in!

            (Yes, we finessed the title again, don’t judge me. In the previous working title, the comma wasn’t doing it.)

            It looks really good, thanks to editor/designer/layout guru Emily. She’s making a few minor changes and ordering another proof version, then it’ll be readied as an e-book and off to the printer for … I don’t know how many copies. Guess I should figure out how many people will want a first run copy, huh?

            The cover will be revealed soon!

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Mar. 9th, 2014 03:55 pm)

            My working title for the Girl Scout story will be “No Campfire, Girls”, which is certainly better than the “Burning Brownies” that someone suggested!


            Meanwhile, the working title of my “space opera” novella, which is flirting with becoming a novel, is: “Beowulf: In Harm’s Way”. Or possibly The Beowulf: In Harm’s Way”, since that’s the name of a ship.

You’d think only being able to sleep three or four hours at a stretch would increase my writing time. Unfortunately, some of the other side-effects of Prednisone—nausea, headache, tiredness, and don’t get me started on night sweats—have slowed me down. Worse, I haven’t experienced the side-effect I hoped for: loss of appetite.


But at least my arm feels better. Oh, wait … no, it doesn’t.


But I’ve been reading more, so there’s that. Also, we’ve edged closer to finishing preparations for the Girl Scout story, with the aim of having it on the “shelves” before the end of spring. Only four votes were received on the poll for a title, with “Best Session Ever” getting two and the other two split between “No Campfire, Girls” and “Who Keeps Singing?” (Although “No Campfire, Girls” is leading in comments.)


Some other interesting ideas came in. Jane and Lance Hattatt suggested “Girls On Fire”, which should not be taken literally. (No girls were harmed in the writing of this novella.) An honest to goodness Scout vet, April Isbell, suggested “Lackablazical”, which is kind of an inside joke and brilliant, but maybe too obscure.


Then there’s the fact that I still haven’t named my actual group, which is currently going by “Yellowbirds” for no good reason other than that it’s not “Girl Scouts”.  Considering Emily’s half done with the cover material and the story’s pretty much ready to be formatted, I’d better get cracking. And by that, I don’t mean my elbow.

I foolishly asked everyone to vote on a title for my “Girl Scout” novella without actually telling anyone what it was about! So here’s a quick blurb, which might very well find its way to the back cover:


            Fifteen year old Beth Hamlin is horrified to discover her beloved summer camp must go without campfires this year, thanks to the fire hazard from a drought. At first she and her friends try to perk up the other campers, but Beth isn't one to just sit (or swim, or boat, or horseback) around, when there's a challenge to be met.

            Beth discovers her new cabinmate, Cassidy, knows a local Cherokee who claims the ability to do a rain dance. Now all they have to do is trick the Camp Director into letting Running Creek do the dance there, avoid the local bully and a flying arrow or two … and keep from getting caught plotting with the local fire captain on a forbidden cell phone. With luck southern Indiana will get a nice, soaking rain, and when it's over Camp Inipi can have proper campfires again.

            But when things go horribly wrong, the whole area is endangered by a double disaster. Now Beth, Cassidy, and the rest of their unit may be the only people who can save not only their camp, but everyone in it.

            When Beth's big brother told her being a teenager could be rough, he probably didn't have this in mind.


            And here’s the Facebook poll on the title, if anyone’s interested:

            Okay, so this YA “Girl Scout” novella I’ve been working on is almost ready to go, and it has no Girl Scouts in it.

            (That’s for legal purposes. This organization is my own invention, and the fact that some of the proceeds are going toward the Girl Scout camp my wife worked at is completely coincidental.)

            So, since the Girl Scout story has no Girl Scouts, I should probably give it a title. I brainstormed, writing down a list of a couple of dozen potential titles, which is what I sometimes do when I’m stuck for one (which is all the time).

            The story revolves around 15 year old Beth Hamlin’s misadventures when she gets to camp and discovers they can’t have any campfires that year, due to a drought. She and her friends work to keep everyone’s spirits up while also taking steps to make it rain—steps that lead to disastrous consequences.

            Some of the titles I came up with were discarded because they gave clues about things that happened late in the book, so those were the easy ones. For obvious reasons, I’m not going to tell you what they were.

            Others were a bit too bland: “The Year Without a Fire”, “Rain Dancing”; or dependent on wordplay: “Weather … Or Not”, “Where There’s Smoke, It’s Dire”.

            Some titles the reader wouldn’t figure out until they’re well into the story:


            “If You Don’t Like The Weather …”

            “Dance, Wind, And Fire”

            “Don’t Kill The Messenger”

            “They Don’t Listen To Teenagers”

            “Totally Not An Emergency”

            “Four Friends and a Drought” (A little shout-out to a fanfiction series of mine.)

            “Riot Prevention Badge”


            For you “Walking Dead” fans (and only you will get it) I found a title that fit the story and was also a shout-out:  “Heroic Stuff, Dangerous Things”.


            Two titles I discarded because they referred to a supporting character, and would be considered un-PC to our more delicate readers. I just didn’t feel like arguing. But the character, a half-Cherokee owner of an Indian-themed souvenir shop, also appears in a YA mystery I’m trying to sell—and will refuse to be silenced.


            Toward the end I got a little silly:


            “If You Like Your Weather, You Can Keep Your Weather.”

            “Mary Potter and The Rain Dance Of Doom.”


            Sadly, the story doesn’t have a character named Mary Potter.

            When I was done winnowing the list, which I believe is also a dance move in Philadelphia … there wasn’t much list left. This is what I ended up with:


            “Have a Safe Summer”

            “Who Keeps Singing?”

            “Best Session Ever”

            “No Campfire, Girls”


            They speak to the story and Beth’s character. Emily was leaning toward “No Campfire Girls”, which left me wondering exactly how that title would go on the cover. We don’t want people to think we’re banning Campfire Girls, for instance. It could be:

            “No Campfire, Girls”

            Or, “No-Campfire Girls”

            Or maybe an emphasis with bigger letters or italics: “No Campfire, Girls”.


            So, what do you think, Title-wise? The Girl Scouts are counting on this … even though the story’s not about Girl Scouts. Honest.


ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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