Previously on DOUG LANE WRITES…


Joe Cohen’s been gone for thirty years. On the night the Rodney King verdict sparked the Los Angeles Riots, Joe left his shift at the Kinko’s on Wolf Road in Colonie and never returned home. He had dinner with a friend, if memory serves. And the next time he was seen was the next morning, when a jogger passing the wooded area between Colonie Center, an apartment complex, and the cemetery adjacent to the mall spotted him hanging from a tree. His death was ruled a suicide, but there are two very distinct and very contrary opinions on that ruling. Personally, I’ve never believed it. That’s a very long conversation for another time. First round is on you.

Thirty years is a hell of a long time to miss a friend.

I first noticed him as a singer - it was Freshman Orientation at SUNY Binghamton; my parents and I were lunching in the College In The Woods dining hall, and the Binghamton Crosbys stopped in to perform. The Crosbys are the all-male a cappella group at Binghamton. He didn’t have a lead, but the group impressed. I’ve still got all but one of their albums. I also have a couple of… gray area recordings, but we’ll get to that.

As fate would have it, Joe was Bernie’s roommate, and he hung with the STAR TREK crowd in the Bingham Hall lounge when he was able, which was where I met him, Bernie, Jacquie, and the rest of my core college crowd. And it was within this group our friendship was forged.

So many stories I still need to write down. Thirty years also dilutes a memory, and even writing this, things have popped into mind I haven’t thought of in years. Not sure I want to touch the memories before I put them on paper. They only tend to get fuzzier with handling. But Joe is always in there, somewhere, and if it’s long in terms of the great cosmic voyage or the motion of the planet around the sun, thirty years also goes by in a blink.

I could go on and on, but to mark my friend on the thirtieth anniversary of his too-early departure from this mortal coil, I offer a song. I recently found on the Internet - which wasn’t even a going concern when it was recorded - a beautifully clean copy of Joe’s lead vocal with the Crosbys of the Rockapella arrangement of the song “Zombie Jamboree” - which dates to at least the early 1950s, and was written by Conrad Eugene Mauge, Jr.. It was the show opener for the 1991 Spring Jamboree. Until a few weeks ago, I had a muddy fifth generation version from the video soundtrack shot from the back of the Anderson Center. This, turns out, is from a metal tape dub of the board DAT of the show. Joe loved performing this one, and it shows.

This is my friend Joe, doing what he loved to do, and I hope you enjoy it.


The first story of 2022 that isn’t self-published is live now at the 50-Word Stories website. It is, as advertised, an actual story with beginning/middle/end, told in 50 words. I think it’s pretty noir-onderful, but I have innate bias. But do go check out:

“Fees Waived For Persons In Imminent Danger”

As a result, there’s no FFF story today, though I may over the weekend drop a blog post with story notes for “Fees Waved…” which will inevitably be longer than the story.


A dam has apparently burst, as seven stories have been submitted to markets far and wide this week, representing almost 22,000 words of new fiction. Some will turn around quickly; one will float until December (this is how contests work). But it feels good to get some things going again before I get back to edits on the third Robillard novel. (It’s especially gratifying to have it going in tandem with job hunting. One hopes it goes better than job hunting.)

And while the Iron Vanguard and his giant robot exploit goes back into the vault, today brings a new, offbeat piece to the Story Stash, one of those things that has gone around a few times, gotten tweaked, isn’t really a good fit anywhere it’s gone - but it was also born of years of writing tech manuals. So if you want a weird, quirky  little how-to guide, follow all the instructions for “The Demon Box Quick-Start Guide” over in the Story Stash for a limited time.


Item: Free Friday Fiction is back! Today, we rifle through the case files of superhero Iron Vanguard, introduced in “Dial ‘C’ For Consultant” and since revisited in four other stupidly hard-to-find stories. Today: the time he fought a giant robot. Or reasoned with it. Or at least tried to. Tromp on over to the Story Stash for “The Ardor of Giant Mecha”, free this week. [NOTE: the story has since gone away.]

Item: Now that the correct boxes have been unpacked, the BUY page (linked above) has a handful of signed paperback copies of SHADY ACRES AND DARKER PLACES available again - $15, which is the same as you’d pay at Jeff Bezos’ farm stand, but a) mine come signed and b) I keep way more than Jeff is willing to give me. Remember, if you want clean water, don’t drink from the Amazon, drink from the source! 

SHADY ACRES is also the place to find “Dial ‘C’ For Consultant” as the original anthology in which it appeared has gone out of print (and is probably super-rare now, if the royalty payouts were any indication.) And the BUY page also links to all the eBook formats if that’s where you read. 

ITEM: And even though the BUY page says there are no more hardcover copies of SHADY ACRES, there still might be a numbered and a PC floating around, but I didn’t want to put the button back until I knew for sure. Never be the guy who sells the book that may not actually exist.

02/20/2022 - LATELY IT OCCURS TO ME…

Where does an entire year go? Well, you renovate a house… you lacerate a thumb… you put a house on the market…you rent a place in Oregon… you pack an 8x8 pod with most of your stuff… you put the rest of the loose stuff in a rented SUV and drive it from Houston to Oregon… you fly home… you fly back to take possession of your new place… you fly back to Houston… you put a new roof on the old house…you sell the house and close… you drive yourself, your spouse, and your cat four days from Houston to Oregon… you visit old friends on a whirlwind trip of of the east coast…you finish out the year setting up a new place, acquiring furniture you chose to not move, and so on… and you polish a resume to start looking for work to help bridge to retirement.

And you write. You get to the revision stage of the third mystery novel in the hexalogy-in-progress and in the absence of representation, you throw it over the transom during a big publisher’s open submission window because you need to start seeking a rep and a publisher somewhere, and you have a novel series you can throw. You continue to polish, to finish, to start short pieces, long pieces, other novels. You start figuring out how the new act of this play works. And on a Sunday of a holiday weekend, between two short stories, you say to yourself, “Self, do you remember when the website didn’t have cobwebs and dust?” and for a second, you don’t remember the software you use to build the website.

Now you’re caught up.

The website *is* undergoing some rebuilding - the store was shut down while the books were all boxed to move, and in the unboxing I found a few bits Id forgotten. It’s going to take a little to get the store back up. Watch this spot for further developments.

I’m also going to jump-start the story stash this coming Friday, with an eye towards providing something new every-other week or so. I’d promise you fresh blog once a week, but I respect you too much to tell that lie. For the tip-off, we’ll revisit my old friend the Iron Vanguard. I’ve loved the big lug since I cooked him up in “Dial ‘C’ For Consultant”, and have been busy since the 2016 chapbook of adventures appeared. I won’t lie: somewhere in the future, his ‘unofficial autobiography’ will take wing. Tune in Friday for a fresh taste.

That ALSO means “The Skull In The Switchback” - which has been in the Story Stash for a year - is going away, so if you missed it, you have until sometime Thursday night.

02/03/2021 - DID I SAY MOVING PARTS?

You never set out to conjure, but as tumblers aligned and life events occurred, 2021 has become The Year of The Move - as the missus heads into retirement from her job, we’re relocating into the next phase of our lives, which is going to be in Other Than Texas.

In the run-up to what hopes to be a relocation before the coming Texas summer, the home renovation is in high gear to prep the house to go on the market, and we’ve begin the dance of what will move, what will be disposed, and what will be re-homed. As part of that effort, the personal library is being whittled down beginning soon; details on available items will be on Facebook first, then here.

Another aspect is lugging as little in-stock published material as I have here at the manse. In an effort to reduce that volume, I’m holding a sale on the remaining SHADY ACRES copies on my shelves - including the last of the limited edition hardcovers and a small clutch of softcovers. Direct from the author to you, and I’ll even scribble my name in ‘em if you want. The hardcovers are marked down 40% to $15 each, while the small clutch of softcovers are $9 each (both plus media mail shipping.) Interested? Click the link above to go to the sale page. (Sale pricing only applies to the stock on hand on my shelf.) There will be a few magazine appearances also going on sale - I’m just not there yet.

09/25/2020 - MANY MOVING PARTS 

He lives!  And first up, he comes bearing the first Free Fiction Friday effort on the year (I didn’t plan on it being an Autumn thing, but here we are.) And as appropriate for the season into which we’re rolling, it’s a story of a haunting - in this case, a man haunted by what’s left of a human head. Follow the link to the Story Stash and stare into the dead eye sockets of “The Skull In The Switchback.” 

Writing has been a struggle of late - prolonged COVID isolations, home projects, future planning, competing projects (it actually takes a fair bit of time every day to scan old Kodak disc negatives) and liquidating a portion of my library to make space. But writerly things continue to cook, if slowly. The rewrite of SEVEN FISHES was trundled off to my Alpha Reader/editor mid-year, and I’m a third of the way through the rewrite/edit second draft of HONEY LOVE. I’m incorporating some unsolicited editorial feedback on a rejected submission to improve it while also pushing through a couple of new stories here and there.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s the value of structure. I do best when I have my writing window front and center in the morning - sit with my coffee and work before I move on to the real world work. Under this system, I’ve finished two novels and a bunch of stories. Without it? I’m a third of the way through edits and rewrites on a novel that’s existed for a while, and have finished two whole stories. So I know how the ship need to sail; I just need to be far better about tacking the sales. 

The only other item of note: we’re coming into pecan season, and the market where I’ve gotten the haul from our two trees cracked in the past is gone; it means going farther afield (I cracked them myself the first season I gathered - never again.) So I’m either looking for a new purveyor of pecan cracking services, or I’m looking for a pecan cracking machine (industrial, not table-top - I gathered some sixty pounds raw two years ago. Not doing that on a table-top, one-at-a-time device.) (This is the very definition of a first-world problem.)

Joe and the Crosbys at Newing College Fall Fest, 1988. I caught joking grief over the picture where he looked like he was going to swallow the camera.

The Binghamton Crosbys - Zombie Jamboree (live)

Never ask about the grenade…