Friday, June 8, 2018

Back cover - version 2.0...

Dear Faithful Readers:

Thanks for the interesting feedback on the proposed back cover copy for Street Cred. Based on your suggestions, here is the revised version:

Nicholas Shane Jr. heads for work on a bright June morning, his first day on the job with the Vallejo Street Department. Nick has definite goals in mind: earn a baseball scholarship to a major university, bank a few dollars to pay the bills, and hold on to Donna, his first love. But his most important goal is to honor the legacy of his late father, a legend for his blue-collar work ethic. With his father's lunch pail in hand, Nick has no idea of the adventures ahead or the characters he will meet along the way. It's a road with many potholes, but it teaches him the lessons of friendship, loyalty, love, and loss. Nick travels far from home, but his heart never leaves the streets of Vallejo.

C.W. Spooner returns to his roots for this story of home, family, and friends, both old and new.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

In a time of trouble, words of reconciliation...

          And if there is one overriding reality in this country, it is the danger that we have an erosion of a sense of national decency. Make no mistake. Decency is at the heart of the matter. Poverty in this country is indecent. Illiteracy is indecent. The death or maiming of brave young men in the swamps of Asia, that is also indecent.

          It is also indecent for man to work with his back and his hands in the valleys of California without hope of ever seeing his son enter a university. It is indecent for the best of our young people to be driven to alienation and the terrible exile of drugs and violence, to allow their hearts to wither in rage and with hatred.

          This in my judgment in the year 1968 is a time to create, not to destroy. This is a time for men to work with a sense of decency and not with bitterness. This is a time to begin again...
                                                                                  Robert F. Kennedy
                                                                                  March 23, 1968
                                                                                  San Jose, California


Friday, May 25, 2018

Programming note...

CNN will present a four-part program titled 1968, beginning at 6:00 pm PDT this coming Sunday, May 27. The previews tell me it will deal with all the earthshaking events of that historic year.
Of course, CNN is doing this to promote my novel, ’68, published in 2011. I’m a little dismayed that it took them this long to get behind my book; but hey, better late than never. Am I right?

It will be interesting to see which events CNN highlights. I’m sure they’ll hit a few that I missed. But, I’d be willing to bet they will skip two items I cover in detail: (1) the Oakland Raiders vs. Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II on January 14; and (2) the Veterans' Day parade in Vallejo, CA, on November 11. If CNN covers both of those events, I’ll come wash your car (schedules permitting, obviously).
If the program sparks your interest, send a message with your mailing address to and I’ll send you a copy of ’68. Signed by the author, of course. All I ask is that you post a review for me on CNN may reach a lot of people, but let’s face it: Amazon rules.


Sunday, February 25, 2018

Worth a thousand words...

My last post mentioned the USS California gliding across the Mare Island Strait on launch day and winding up in the mud on the Vallejo side of the channel. I didn't mention that she wiped out a good sized section of dock as well.

Thanks to my friend John Parks, we have a photo taken that day, November 20, 1919. Look at the men -- either sailors or shipyard workers -- peering over the railing. I wonder what they were saying? Here are some possible captions:

     "Don't look at me. I wasn't in charge of the brake lines."

     "Maybe we should stick to building destroyers?"

     "Oh, so this is Lower Georgia Street."

     "Okay, who's gonna break the news to the captain?"

Feel free to add your own captions. 


Monday, February 12, 2018


I’ve long had a fascination with the USS California, for what I thought were two pretty good reasons. First, she was the only U.S. battleship built on the West Coast. Second, she was built at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in my hometown, Vallejo, California.

My interest in the ship really kicked in around 2003 as I was writing the stories that would appear in my collection, Children of Vallejo. The first chapter of the book is titled, “Vallejo Remembered,” and includes this paragraph about Mare Island:

…the shipyard prospered as one of the Navy’s major repair depots for the Pacific Fleet, and it earned its stripes as a shipbuilding facility. More than five hundred naval vessels were built there, including the USS California…On November 20, 1919, when the California slid down the shipway into the muddy Mare Island Strait, the brake lines could hot hold and she continued across the channel and onto the mud flats on the city side. She would find herself settled in the mud once again on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor. But the California would rise to fight in battles all across the Pacific, a history followed with great pride by all those who touched her at Mare Island.

At that time, I was also working on ’68 – A Novel. One of my main characters is a man named John Harris, modeled after my father. The fictional John Harris served on the California during World War II. He was onboard for the battle of Lingayen Gulf when the ship was hit by a kamikaze. John is haunted by the attack in which forty-four men died and one hundred and fifty were wounded. In an early chapter of the book, John travels to Sacramento to visit the monument to the California which stands in Capitol Park.

Now he was standing in front of the monument. It was a simple structure: two square stone columns supporting a stone cap across the top… From the crosspiece hung the ship’s bell, its clapper removed. The California was decommissioned in 1947 and sold for scrap in 1959. This bell was all that remained of a once mighty warship…

John has a near-meltdown standing in front of the monument, remembering his service on the ship, feeling his blood boil at the idea that steel “…washed in the blood of brave men…” could be sold for scrap. Gradually, he regains composure.

His breathing was returning to normal now. He removed a handkerchief from his back pocket to mop his forehead and dab his eyes. He felt Martha touch his elbow gently.

“John, are you okay, honey?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. I’m fine now.” He took two steps forward and placed the palm of his right hand against the surface of the bell. Finally, he stepped away. “Okay, Martha. Let’s go.”

She wrapped her arm around his ample waist as they walked away, heading back to N Street and the entrance to the park.

Those two volumes, the story collection and the novel, were in the works as early as 2003. Just this past week, I was going through some family documents and I came across my father’s Navy discharge papers. One document includes a list of  the ships he served. There it is, plain as day: U.S.S. California.

Let me be clear, my dad did not serve in World War II. He left active duty in 1935, having attained the rank of Chief Petty Officer. But to see that he served on the California was a surprise and a shock. I had no idea.

I thought there were two good reasons I was fascinated with that old battlewagon. Now I know there was a third.



Monday, October 2, 2017

A fine new anthology...

Dear Faithful Readers:
Of Burgers & Barrooms, from Main Street Rag Publishing Co., will go to press in November for shipment  around December 5. This anthology is nearly 500 pages of stories and poems from 140 contributors. I’m proud to say my short story, “Beach Boy Blues,” is included in this fine collection.
The retail price has been set at $17.95. However, Of Burgers & Barrooms is available at the Advance Sale Discount price of $10.00 + shipping. The Advance Sale price is available through November 1 at:

Consider Of Burgers & Barrooms the perfect gift for that person on your holiday shopping list who loves to read.
Thank you for supporting small press publishers like The Main Street Rag and writers like me.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Here's why...

Some folks have asked why I haven't changed the name of this blog. Why call it "The Rejected Writer's Journal"? Well, folks, it's because those rejection notices keep on comin'. Though I have to admit, some are better than others. The following is a brief sampling of recent receipts.

Dear Writer,
     We don't know of anyone who hasn't had work returned at one time or another, but that certainly doesn't make it any easier. We hope you will find consolation in the individuality of editorial tastes and the assurance that, with persistence, good work will be recognized as such.
         -- The Editors, Santa Monica Review
[It's always bad news when they don't use your name. This is my third rejection from SMR. Same letter each time. (sigh)]

Dear Writer,
     Unfortunately, after several rounds of editorial consideration, we have decided that your material does not meet our needs for the current issue. This does not necessarily reflect upon your writing style or skill.
         -- The MUSE Editorial Staff
[Several rounds? Really? Wow! I was almost there. Or not.]

Dear C.W. Spooner,
     Thank you for sending us "A Proper Salute." Unfortunately, this piece is not a right fit for Faultline, but we wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.
          -- Faultline Fiction Editor
[Hmmm... What is a "right fit"? Opposite of a "wrong fit" I presume. ]

Dear C.W. Spooner,
     Unfortunately we were not able to accept your text "Eureka" for publication...but would like to encourage you to consider submitting to us in the future. We are interested in reading more of your work.
          --The Fiction International Team
[Oh my! This one is almost encouraging.]

Of course, all of these are preferable to my friends at Glimmer Train. GT happily sucks up my "readers fees" but never responds. On their online submission system, they simply change the status from "Pending" to "Completed," which means, "Thanks, but no thanks." I think I'll keep my readers fees.

And there you have it: the reason for retaining the name of this blog. Actually, I'm just poking a little fun at the editors. It's all good. They have a VERY tough job to do and a TON of material to wade through.

Ah, but here's to the editors who sent acceptance notices. God bless 'em, one and all.

     Harry Diavatis (RIP), the Monday Update (stories, essays, poems, memoirs -- by the dozen)
     Mike Stanley, Spitball -- The Literary Baseball Magazine (three stories)
     Regina Williams, The Storyteller
     Casey Dorman, Lost Coast Review (two stories)
     M. Scott Douglass, The Main Street Rag 

Someone once said, "If you throw enough 'stuff' at the wall, some of it will stick." Ain't it the truth?