Tag Archives: SK Cole

First Reviews of My Book Posted

9 Sep

Two reviews have so far been posted at Amazon for my recently published book, Foleytown. I’m pleased to say they are both five-star reviews!

A couple of quotes:


“I found this book, as the author hoped it would be, entertaining, humorous and with warmth embedded in its pages.”

“A wistful, nostalgic delight.”


I hope to get many more reviews, although I’m sure they won’t all be five stars!

Thanks to the reviewers for their input.

E-Book is Out

1 Jul

The issues surrounding the publication of my book, Foleytown, have been resolved, and both the e-book and the print versions are available at Authorhouse, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. The e-book is only $3.99, so I expect all five of my regular readers to buy one (just kidding!)foleytown

From the book’s blurb:

Foleytown is a special place…a place where there is always a shortage of money but never a shortage of laughs. Follow the children of the large, financially struggling Foley clan as they navigate through “bloody” pomegranate fights, epic games of Christmas Card War, homemade bridesmaid dresses, fears of itinerant serial killers, and the cherished summer tradition they called “Prune-Why-Oh” – all while learning how to grow up in a very unfashionable part of California.

As Jack Lord would have said in 1969, “Be there — Aloha!”


7 Jun

Several new works have sold recently at my shop, including this one, this one, and this one. (Scroll down to see the work that’s been sold.) Everyone keeps telling me I sell my work for much too cheap, and I tend to agree, but I know a lot of people who started out selling their work online for ultra-cheap, then gradually increased prices when they built up a following. They tell me  that’s the way it’s done!

At any rate, I’m too old and cranky for the gallery scene, so my shop is what it is.



Classic Ghost Story

18 Apr

Does anybody read the classic ghost story anymore? I fell in love with this story format when I was about eight or nine, and my two older sisters gifted me with a couple of volumes of stories from the Golden Age of Ghost Stories in the late 19th–early 20th Century. I quickly learned to appreciate the work of authors such as M. R. James, F. Marion Crawford, August Derleth, Lady Cynthia Asquith, E. F. Benson, William Hope Hodgson, and H. Russel Wakefield. (Most of them were British, with a few Americans thrown in–although the Americans, like Ambrose Bierce and August Derleth, usually set their tales in the British Isles as well.)

I left those two books behind at my childhood home years ago, but some years back, I bought replacements for both from a used book site. I re-read them and enjoyed them even more as an adult–for one thing, I understood the somewhat archaic language, and some of the Britishisms, much better than I did at age nine.

I recently completed a short story in tribute to those old-fashioned ghost stories and I’m posting it here for my readers’ opinion (all five of you!). The story is a reworking of one of M. R. James’s most famous tales, Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad, except that it’s been transplanted from early 20th Century England to rural California in the 1970s, and it contains a grim little twist at the end that I think James would have appreciated.

The story is part of a collection featuring the same location and characters, and this is one of the later ones in the collection, so it does reference a few events from the earlier stories. However, if you ignore those small  references, it pretty much stands well enough on its own. It’s called Water Summons. I hope you enjoy it.

In addition, here’s a link to an excellent TV dramatization of Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad from the late 1960s:

First Review For My Kindle Stories

30 Dec

I got four stars! Thanks to the reviewer “Jim” whoever you are!

Christmas Story Time

13 Dec

In honor of the advancing season, here is an excerpt from my upcoming book of short stories, Foleytown, which I hope to publish in its entirety sometime after the New Year. This excerpt is from a story called “Christmas in Foleytown.”

I usually got the honor of arranging the nativity set on the mantelpiece of our tiny living room. Our plaster dime store figures were cheap, common and, in retrospect, rather ugly, but I cherished them all—the Three Kings, the camel, the Holy Family, the cow and the sheep, the wandering shepherd, the donkey, and the two blonde-haired angels with Shirley Temple curls crowned by gilt-painted halos.

There was, however, one glaringly obvious flaw in our nativity set-up.

“There are not enough camels here,” I noted to my mother one year, while arranging our nativity set in what I hoped was an artful and clever way. “Three Kings and only one camel. How did they make it all the way to Bethlehem with just one camel?”

“Well, camels are big, Lizzie; they can carry a lot of things and people,” my mother answered absently.

I tried to position the figurines of all three kings on top of the camel to verify her claim, but it didn’t really work.  None of our Three Kings could fit astride the beast of burden, because each of them had plaster legs that were molded together into a solid block.

“We need two more camels,” I said, decisively. “Even if the Three Kings’ legs weren’t stuck together like that, I don’t think they could all fit on the back of just one camel.”

“I’ll look into getting two more camels at the dime store next time I go shopping on Plumas Street,” my mother replied, soothingly. But she never did actually get around to it—that year or any other.

Still trying to reason the Three Kings dilemma through, I concluded that one King rode the camel while the other two walked beside it.

“Maybe they took turns riding the camel, to be fair,” I told myself.  “That would be the Christian thing to do.”

I worried about things like that when I was small. I tucked my toys and dolls under scraps of old blankets so they would stay warm at night; I wore clothes I didn’t like because I didn’t want them to feel unwanted; I worried that coffee cups with broken handles would be abandoned to the trash heap. It was a rather unique world view, I realize now.”


27 Mar

This are the beginning paragraphs of a short story called Prune–Why–Oh from my second book, Foleytown. It’s about picking prunes in the Sacramento Valley around 1970ish. This excerpt also explains somewhat why I call my childhood landscape of memories “Foleytown.”


Foleytown was, of course, not really a place, but a state of mind; my childhood landscape of memories, encompassing the domains both spiritual and temporal of the whole Foley clan, of which I was the youngest, the “baby” of the family. Like any family, we had our little rituals and traditions, including a rather important one we called, simply, Prune-Why-Ohing

Prune-Why-Oh was the title of one of my mother’s homemade songs; she had a lot of them, most of which were either eccentric or often, just very dopey parodies of real songs. But the term was also a kind of shorthand: it stood for the many childhood summers we of the Foley clan spent picking prunes for pocket money in the fruit orchards ringing UlloaCity.

My mother, Mary Foley, created the Prune-Why-Oh song and many others to keep us busy while we scooped up the prunes and plopped them into metal buckets on long summer days. The melody was the same as the standard church hymn, Kumbaya— the beloved tune strummed by countless guitar-playing nuns at the “guitar Masses” in the Sixties and early Seventies.

The lyrics to Prune-Why-Oh were simple enough, a simple parody of the original ones, and the chorus went like this:

“Prune-Why-Oh, My Lord


Oh, Lord, Prune-Why Oh”

Days in the fields usually started with me my mother singing the Prune-Why-Oh song very early in the morning, at 4:30 a.m. or so, while packing a picnic lunch to take with us to the orchards.

Now, we always called `the process prune picking—not plum picking—because the ripe raw, plums were all headed eventually for the SunSweet Prune Drying Plant near Sacramento. There, the plump purplish-reddish globes we picked were sorted, treated and dried into prunes.

Picking prunes was not really that hard; that’s why even a six-year-old could do it. A machine we called The Shaker detached the future prunes from their trees, and pickers like our family were employed to scoop them up, put them in buckets, and ultimately deposit the contents of the buckets into large, square wood-slatted containers called “bins.” We mostly got paid by the bin, although at least one establishment that employed us paid by the bucket—25 cents for a small one and 50 cents for a large one.

These were plum wages for the time.