That Phenomenal Background, an ebook

That Phenomenal Background (originally published as Babe in the Woods) is now available from Crossroad Press as an ebook.

The story? Reporter Angela Chiari is sent to attend a weeklong residential program at the CT Merriman Institute, a course that promises to help participants to develop their own “extraordinary potential.” He doesn’t believe a word of it, and expects to write a debunking article that will show people fooling themselves through their own wishful thinking.

Surprise, Mr. Chiari! It isn’t long before he begins to experience, first-hand, some of the things he has always assumed to be impossible.

As new perceptions and intuitions accumulate, he has to consider how much of his old worldview he can modify without becoming (as he would put it) “a fruitcake.” And there are more practical concerns as well, including the question of what happens when a long-married man falls in love (for reasons that cannot be explained rationally) with a long-married woman and they both know that a relationship is impossible. Yet this dilemma – which in ordinary circumstances would be front and center – is almost pushed aside by other extraordinary happenings and concerns, until Angelo finds himself living in a different world.

Here are the various links:



Smashwords: (which will feed Apple and some smaller retailers)

Google Play:

I am told it will be at Kobo after the next upload in a few days, but I don’t know what that means.


Draft 6 finished

Of the making of books, there is no end. Finished draft six of Papa’s Trial: Hemingway in the Afterlife, slimming it down from 167,000 words to 144,000, still too many.

Here’s Papa reviewing the manuscript, suggesting further changes. 🙂


Babe in the Woods pix

My second novel, Babe in the Woods, described Angelo Chiari’s week at the C.T. Merriman Institute in 1995. I placed a photo at the beginning of each day’s chapter. Came across them and here they are.









Papa’s Trial, coming along

Finished Papa’s Trial: Hemingway in the Afterlife, after a long gestation. Originally wrote a version, decided I didn’t like it, started rewriting an expanded and more intricate version, abandoned it. There it sat until recently. Upon finishing Dark Fire, my third novel, I decided Papa’s Trial should be my fourth. More work to do, of course. Probably another draft before I am satisfied, but still, progress!

Michael Ventura: “I want it to be true”




Austin Chronicle – January 11, 2013

    The Dragon is a novel almost five years in the works. It may take another five. I keep a Dragon journal. Here are entries from this year.

    May 4. I cling, as a novelist, to what Orson Welles said: “Who needs plot? But who can live without a story?” And I cling to what John [Cassavetes] told me: “In replacing narrative, you need an idea.”

Continue reading Michael Ventura: “I want it to be true”

A sample from my novel Babe in the Woods

The narrator, Angelo Chiari, is a news reporter in his fifties, comes to a Monroe-like program as a skeptic. In the course of the week, a lot of things open up for him – or perhaps we should say, he opens up to things, as various experiences present opportunities. As for instance on Tuesday night, when Angelo is confronted with the onset of an asthma attack, without his accustomed way to hold it at bay. This is from Chapter Four.

Continue reading A sample from my novel Babe in the Woods

Speaking of “Star Trek”

Saw the movie today. Won’t say much about it, lest I spoil your experience, but I will say that the kid who plays James T. Kirk as a young man is going to have a big career. He has that certain something — the sort of appeal shared by actors as diverse as Tom Hanks, Matt Damon and Harrison Ford. Many of the actors were good, especially the two who played McCoy and Scott, but the one who played Kirk really stood out. 

Of course, Hollywood being Hollywood, they had to hoke things up and come up with an ending (the coda, really) that was not believable, whereas they could easily have come up with one that was. But they always have their eye on the teenage consumer, so it is too much to ask that they consider grown up sensibilities as well. We’re lucky when it is as good as this one was. I did enjoy it.