Savage Reckoning’s big day is almost here!

cropped-facebook-banner-savage-reckoning2.pngOctober 4, is gonna be yuge! That is the official release date for Savage Reckoning: A Backwoods Justice Novel. The publisher has done a terrific job of getting some pre-release reviews, and I thought it would be prudent to share a few of them here over the coming days. In other words, things are gonna be all Savage all the time for the foreseeable future.

Today, our review comes from Paromjit, who gave it 5 out of 5 stars. It is a thorough review, but I’ll just share with you the final paragraph and the link to the entire review if you would like to see everything that Paromjit had to say.

This is a spellbinding book with a fast paced narrative that engages your emotions. It has an intricate and complex plot packed with twists. The character development is superb, and as for Step and Kenny, I sure hope I encounter them again. They have made an indelible impression on me. An unalloyed joy of a read. Deranged but brilliant! I highly recommend this novel without any hesitation and urge others to read it. Many thanks to Random House Alibi for an ARC.

Incidentally, “deranged but brilliant” is exactly what I want my headstone to say.

BTW: You can avoid the rush and pre-order a copy today. It’s available at most online retailers, but here’s the link to Amazon because… well, it’s Amazon. The price is a paltry $2.99.  Savage Reckoning: A Backwoods Justice Novel

Hugs Not Skittles


It occurred to me that there are two issues in our country that feed into the prejudices of opposing groups. On the one hand, we have a group of bad actors committing terrorism in the name of Islam, creating a fear among too many that all Muslims are terrorists. And, on the other hand, we have a group of inept, racist cops committing murder under the guise of public safety, creating a fear among too many that all cops are corrupt.

Neither is true. A small fraction of Muslims are radical Islamic terrorists, and a small fraction of cops are despotic thugs that think black lives don’t matter. They don’t represent the majority of either group in which they belong. Yet, their acts are so heinous and vile, those of us on the outside looking in paint both communities with broad brushes and insist that our prejudicial views are justified. Why? Because we only listen to like-minded voices on either topic. We don’t want to hear that the truth is complicated and contrary to our pre-conceived notions.

I’m not going to pretend that there isn’t a problem with using a religion to turn desperate people to terrorism. I’m agnostic, so it’s easy for me to blame religious doctrine as a catalyst for hatred. But to me, there is no difference between Islam and Christianity in that aspect. Both are tools of oppression and hatred in the wrong hands. Theocratic governments, poverty, and lack of education is the historical formula for creating a terrorist. At this point and time, the Middle East happens to be the epicenter of these three elements.

I’m also not going to pretend that we don’t have a problem with the justice system in our country. Not all cops are bad, but the bad ones are being protected by the system. It’s a grotesque byproduct of the “Blue Wall” mentality. Misconduct by a police officer is protected by police unions, and district attorney offices that are essentially partners with the police departments in their jurisdictions.  Corrupt cops are allowed to skate too often because there’s a ‘protect the badge at all costs’ thread of thought at the top of most police departments that taints everyone in uniform.

Here’s the thing, good Muslims, the majority of Islam, are as frustrated by the acts of terror committed in their religion’s name as most non-Muslims. And most police officers are as angry about the corruption among their ranks as most civilians. And both are equally enraged that they must share the blame of depravity committed by a small number in their communities. A few have spoken out, but they’re largely ignored because their condemnation doesn’t fit the “all are corrupt” or “all are good” narratives.

There clearly has to be a change on both sides of all issues. A person doesn’t deserve to be considered a terrorist because of their ethnicity and/or religion. A person doesn’t deserve to be labeled a criminal because of the color of their skin, and a person doesn’t deserve to be identified as a corrupt racist because of the badge pinned to their chest. We have to start talking to each other instead of at each other. When we start listening to each other, we can then institute meaningful systemic changes that solve the problems in a fair and just manner. If we continue to shout at and insult one another, we create wider divides that grow increasingly hard to bridge.

In closing, be a hugger, not a hater.

9-11 from a Georgia highway

Howard Stern and 9/11

The South Side of the Moon

A reprint of where I was on 09-11-2001

I was in my car when it happened, on my way to Milledgeville, Georgia from Charleston, South Carolina.  I sat in misery as I drove down a backwoods highway.  I was 34-years-old, and I hated my job.  Worse than that, I couldn’t remember a job I liked since I quit my gig as a dishwasher in a hospital at the age of seventeen. I had lived an entire lifetime since dreading the concept of waking up on a weekday and dressing for a job that would slowly suck the life out of me.   Professional fulfillment was something that eluded me so thoroughly I was convinced that I was hardwired to hate working.  Not the physical effort just the emotional investment.

Howard Stern was on the radio.  He is the one who told me what happened that morning, and because of that I…

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She’s here and she weighs a healthy 101,291 words


Time to light up the celebration nub!

The first draft of Savage Rise, the second book in the Backwoods Justice Novels series is fini! Done! In the books (pun intended)! Deputy Dani Savage and a few of her best outlaw friends face down the Gray Rise, a well-funded militia itching for a new American revolution. The prose is not pretty. The style is sloppy. The characters are uneven, but it’s done. Rewrites, here I come!  The fix is on it’s way!

Theater break: One Bear Lake

While I write weak and weary, and immerse myself deep in thought about backwoods mysteries full of Southern drawls and bad grammar, I thought I’d spend the next few weeks and months on the blog periodically filling you in on the upcoming production of my play One Bear Lake. The show doesn’t run until January of 2017, but this is my first experience being involved in a production of one of my full-length plays. I’m hoping playwrights at the beginning of their careers will find these production notes edifying, and perhaps it will help them prepare for their first production.

The play is a dark comedy about three siblings and their spouses spending a family vacation together in a rental home on a lake. The siblings discover that while they were raised in the same family, they all had completely different childhoods. The story is nothing like my books, in that there are no monsters and/or gun slinging bad guys. Writing stage plays brings out a completely different side of me as a writer, and I can’t tell how much I enjoy exploring that side.

The play is being produced by 5th Wall Productions, and it will be co-directed by Jason Olson and Blair Cadden. Fitting, because they helped me develop the play from its original 10-minute structure to the full-length version via their Writers’ Bloc program that meets on the fourth Sunday of every month. Incredibly, it’s a free ongoing workshop. If you’re in the Charleston area, you should really check it out.


Margaret Nyland will be playing the part of Rachel

Over the coming weeks, I’m going to feature the actors that have been cast in the show (six in all). It’s a stellar group, and I can’t wait to get to work with them. First up is Margaret Nyland who will be playing the part of Rachel, the wife of the oldest brother Freddy. She and Freddy have a sweet yet spirited relationship. In other words, they annoy and enjoy the hell out of each other.

Margaret is currently filming a movie about South Carolina’s greatest Revolutionary War hero and staunch abolitionist, John Laurens. She is playing the part of an Irish slave. Laurens was educated in Europe, so he had radical ideas that did not go over too well with his Southern slave-trading father. I’m convinced that had Laurens survived the war (he was actually killed in a skirmish after the British had surrendered) he would have been a delegate sent to the Constitutional Convention, and he would have pushed for freeing the slaves. Given that South Carolina was the most vocal state about keeping the institution of slavery alive, Laurens may have been successful and completely changed the course of history. But I digress. Back to Margaret. Here’s her bio, and I will keep you posted on future productions she may be in between now and rehearsals for One Bear Lake:

Margaret Nyland most recently performed the role of Lula in The Dayporch at Threshold Repertory, and previously played Laura Chandler in Threshold’s production of “1963”.  Margaret was also part of Pure Theatre’s Holiday Shorts 2015.  She performed the role of Amelia Tilford in the College of Charleston’s production of The Children’s Hour and Kate Mundy in Dancing at Lughnasa. During 2015 Piccolo Spoleto, Margaret portrayed death row inmate Sunny Jacobs in Midtown Production’s The Exonerated.  A graduate of UVA and the University of Michigan, Margaret and her family reside in downtown Charleston.

Diving on a grenade


This is gonna hurt.

Telling a Bernie supporter to get over it and accept defeat is the second most ineffective way to convince them to get over it and accept defeat. The most ineffective way is to scare them into supporting Hillary because the other guy is a historically worse candidate and will destroy America. They’ve followed a man who has preached the hope and promise of what America could be since he announced he was running for president. They’ve followed a man who never took money from big donors and special interest groups. They’ve followed a man who has walked the walk and talked the talk. Bernie supporters experienced an unprecedented event in American politics, a candidate told them the truth and refrained from pandering to them. He didn’t promise that he would save them. He promised that he would lead them. They would have to do the saving. He made his supporters feel necessary to the process and not just by voting, but by becoming a movement and getting involved. He didn’t just give them a solution, he made them part of the solution.

Here’s how you convince a Bernie supporter to get over it. Tell them not to get over it. Tell them that Bernie specifically said this wasn’t about him. This was and is about us.  He is a radical agent of peaceful change, and his supporters should be just as engaged with him out of the race as they were when he was in the race. His movement isn’t over. His movement, like every successful revolution, has simply adapted to changing conditions. He’s realigned the front from the White House to the down ticket races. Bernie supporters should put their money and efforts into winning House races, Senate contests, statewide and local elections.

Do not tell them to give money or support to Hillary for two reasons. First, she doesn’t need their money. She’s got Super PACs and wealthy donors to help her win. That’s who she came to the dance with, that’s who she will continue to dance with. The rich and super rich can’t buy any more influence than they already have, but they will continue to try. Second, the truth is the DNC did lie. They weren’t a neutral arbiter of the Democratic primaries even though they claimed to be on many occasions. The system is corrupt. No reasonable person can look at what happened this campaign season and not see the full scale fraud that took place. I am 50, and I’ve never seen lines to vote as long as we saw this election. I’ve never seen this many voters purged from the system, and I’ve never seen voter registrations mysteriously change in mass the way we witnessed in these primaries. Bernie supporters should be mad about all of it. They should be vocal. They should be obnoxious. They should be demanding a change.  Everyone should.

So, this post is clearly not an endorsement of Hillary. This is an endorsement of Bernie’s revolution. Be part of the solution. Vote for the candidate that has a real chance of winning and who best fits the down ticket candidates you are going to help get elected. Bernie hasn’t been defeated. He’s just getting started. He scored a major win by pulling Hillary to the left. Her acceptance speech outlined Bernie’s platform as her own. She’s even vowing to push for a constitutional amendment that overturns Citizens United, a move that will take money out of her own campaign’s pocket next election.

If you want to continue Bernie’s revolution, you are going to have to dive on a grenade and vote for Hillary. And after you’ve marked her name on the ballot, vote for every progressive candidate you can. People who will make her life a living hell until she delivers on Bernie’s revolution. People who will demand Liberal SCOTUS appointments. People who will push her until the anti-Citizens United Amendment is the law of the land. That’s how Bernie wins the 2016 election. If you want to take your ball and go home, you’re free to do so, but Bernie loses if you do. That’s not a scare tactic. That’s just what happens when believers give up on a revolution. If you’re not willing to make a sacrifice, then this wasn’t a cause you wanted to fight for. This was a trend you wanted to be a part of until you were asked to do something hard.  Shifting your vote to Dr. Jill Stein is easy.  She is a true progressive, but she can’t win. That is a reality. I’d love to say that she can, but she can’t. Just because you will vote her doesn’t change the fact that the system is corrupt. They, the powers that be, won’t let her win. Nothing changes until Bernie supporters become the powers that be, and you do that by voting for Hillary and giving her lawmakers that force her to govern from the left.

And for my Republican friends. What the hell are you doing? The man-turd that is your current nominee does not in any way represent your values. You have to have a revolution of your own to save your party, and the candidate that can deliver on that is Gary Johnson. If he draws enough votes from your side of the aisle, he gets you all back in the game.  Otherwise, you might as well dust off the old Whig Party stationary.

Here’s my one caveat to all this. If you are a progressive in a deeply red state, a state that Hillary has no chance of winning, my suggestion is not to vote for her. Give your vote to Jill at that point, or any other progressive presidential candidate.  If enough red state progressives cast protest votes, that will make some noise. The media will take notice, and it will make our political leaders take notice.

Fight on fellow revolutionaries!

C. Hoyt Caldwell Update


C. Hoyt Caldwell: author of Bad Way Out and Savage Reckoning

C. Hoyt would like you to know that he is working on the second book in the Backwoods Justice series featuring Deputy Dani Savage. 85,000 words down, about 20,ooo to go, plus some weeping, bleeding and rewriting.

The First book, Savage Reckoning, will be released on Oct. 3 and is available for pre-order, BUT if you’re a media type person that reviews books on a blog or for a newspaper or on the Radio, or some mass communication vehicle, I can get you a FREE electronic advance reader copy or you can find it on NetGalley. Hit me up via email ( or PM on Facebook.

From the Publisher: In the vein of Elmore Leonard’s Justified, C. Hoyt Caldwell introduces a thriller series set in the dark side of the Appalachian mountains—featuring a heroine who’s playing both sides of the law.

Deputy Dani Savage would like nothing better than to shoot the wife beaters, carjackers, drug dealers, and all the rest of the low-life good ol’ boys that make policing Baptist Flats, Tennessee, near impossible. Instead, she grits her teeth and serves the God-fearing townsfolk without complaint. The “little deputy,” as she’s known, is often overlooked and ridiculed for being a small-statured woman in a big man’s world. But while investigating a cold case involving a missing teen, Dani stumbles onto some disturbing facts that cannot be ignored.

 Soon Dani realizes that this case goes back decades. There’s a history of young women being stolen from the Tennessee hills, and a legacy of corrupt cops looking the other way. Dani’s investigation leads her to the “closeout kings,” a pair of hired killers with a tale to tell—a tale of a missing girl and a crime worse than murder. Somehow these two deranged hit men are Dani’s last, best allies. They know that it’s time for payback—and in the backwoods, justice takes only one form.