Books and Publications

 NOTE: My literary journalism (reviews, publishing trends analysis, author interviews) are archived on the sites of the LA Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, BookPage, The Baltimore Sun and other major media sites.  But in the last few years I’ve done a major swerve and mainly concentrated on writing my own fiction and poetry.





 A Smattering of a Selection of Recent Titles Available Online




new ladies cover

Publisher’s catalog copy:  “Wanting so much to be involved with a lady, a dear man instead becomes involved in a brutal murder.

“Thomas hadn’t seen much of the world.  He was a modest, simple country boy who loved his friends, would do anything for them, and revered his mama and daddy.

But a new searing pain in his heart was telling him it time to pledge himself to a lady.

“Though he’d always had a hungry heart, this was the worst longing he’d ever had.  He didn’t know when it had started, where it had come from, or how and why the pain and emptiness had gotten so bad.

“He tried to think. Maybe it started a few weeks ago, around the time he’d paid 50 cents for the Holy Virgin shirt at the five family Mexican yard sale.  Those amigos, they were having an outdoor party cookout like he’d never seen, having themselves so much fun, hugging and high-fiving, laughing, cutting up.

“Or did it go all the way back to when he was a snip of six, the night the ball lightning shot down the cabin chimney and mama lost it, alone too long, starved for her man, missing daddy like crazy?  She rode the blazing hot sucker like a demon right out the front door into the dark, screaming his name at the top of her lungs.

“Come to think of it, he’d never felt right since.”




The Dead Goat Scrolls: A Cautionary Tale

Publisher’s catalog copy “Life at the foot of The Hopeless Mountains isn’t easy. Our hero here is one Ishmut, a miserable goatherd trying to eke out a minimal subsistence in a barren wasteland. He has three impossible wives, a guardian angel in the form of his favorite goat named Betty and three darling daughters, Sugar Pie My Darlin’, Sweetie Pie My Darlin’ and Honey Pie My Darlin’. A humorous, satirical revamp of the Noah and the Ark story on one level, as well as an irreverent hysterical biblical “based” spoof of our universal urge to do the right thing, figure out what that is, in fact, and git-r-done in our daily lives. All in the face of the corrosive ever-present doubt and dread that these wholly invisible incomprehensible things called God and Providence,  the vague notions we place all of our wobbly faith in and on which we stake our lives, we may have only made up–because we needed them.  Wink-wink scripture with a Southern drawl.”

You’ll either love it or hate it. Check the reviews. Guaranteed to strike a nerve.





 The Unbearable Lightness of Prunes  ( with a genuflection to Milan Kundera and his classic ….)

Publisher’s catalog copy: “Set in today’s “New South,” a ten year-old boy’s rebellion against a compulsory daily dish of stewed prunes for breakfast sets in motion an explosive series of calamitous events that wreaks havoc on his entire family, himself included.

“A wicked examination of the dynamics, interlocking relationships and mutual responsibilities that are common to all families. How “truth” is used and abused as a justification for all manner of nefarious activity.”

Rave, very flattering reviews. A stitch, too funny. “A hoot and a holler!”  “A modern day Twain.”



alternative medicine cover maybe

Publisher’s catalog copy: “Woe is he…. Alternative Medicine is a witty, biting story about how a man is rescued from a swamp of self-pity, a nasty miasma of melancholy, that is making him sick, by the biggest oddball whacko he’s ever encountered, someone who is truly ‘sick unto death.'”

Well reviewed, humorous, whacky.  Fiction, but based on a true story and real people. Something I observed as it happened. A vivid demonstration of a little known but instant cure for hopeless hypochondria. Some very fine, intelligent thoughtful reviews.


A Day at the Beach


Publisher’s catalog copy:  ” ‘A Day at the Beach’ is frightening story about the fragile, tenuous nature of what we call   “civilization” and” civilized” behavior. The rickety basis on which we rely every waking moment, and which allows us to sleep in peace at night, the frail foundation on which we try to build our lives with some assurance of safety. It lays bare the disturbing truth that no place, not even the most protected and benign, is immune to incursions by Human Monsters and their monstrosities. As vivid, raw and current as today’s headlines. Could be somewhat disturbing to those who prefer cozy mysteries.”

No reviews yet.  Story apparently leaves readers speechless.  Bulls-eye!



The Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida Series


marlin darlin on amazon

Publisher’s catalog copy: “Marlin, Darlin’ introduces the most lovable, pratfall-prone female sleuth in recent memory, and launches the hilarious ‘Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida’ series.

“Garnet is a hard-working, funny, and often annoying small town journalist. She writes for a “mullet wrapper,” yet pursues her work with the fastidious attention and high seriousness of a top NY Times investigative reporter. Afflicted with a “Joan of Arc Complex,” she is smart, she is educated, and she is, as it were, irrationally reactive to incidents involving exploitation of helpless people or animals.

“A murky murder during a marlin fishing tournament forms the basis for this first sizzling, uproarious mystery in the series. Set in steamy east coast Florida, it has a tortuous Gordian knot of a plot, a plot peopled with outrageous, colorful characters, a plot that explodes from the first sentence at a full gallop and that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat until the last page.

“Fully imagined and drawn from life characters will hook readers from the outset. The story vaults inevitably from who these characters are—nutty and flamboyantly so, but completely convincing, and whose native habitat could only be Florida.”

Great reviews, has been very popular. My most popular book.

Was a top of the list Goodreads mystery when it was published.




devil ddbs on amazon


Publisher’s catalog copy:  “Here it is, the long-awaited, highly anticipated second installment in the “Garnet Sullivan Live from Florida” series. THE DEVIL, THE DIVA & THE DEEP BLUE SEA is Garnet’s newest madcap adventure and is bursting at the seams with another cast of colorful, oddball characters of the kind that instantly endeared the snoopy journalist and her friends to readers on her first time out in MARLIN, DARLIN’.

“This time it’s both football season and hurricane season, and in Florida that means lunacy of epidemic proportions. Readers will gasp once more at Garnet’s derring-do and her rare talent for getting into jams as she single-mindedly pursues “the big story.” Fans will be happy to learn that the Irish setter “Ringo” remains Garnet’s constant slobbering companion, that Garnet’s sweetheart, public defender Chester Dare, simply can’t stop loving her and finally mends his dipsomaniac ways in a most surprising way, and that her socialite dithering BFF Allison Highsmith is back just as expensively attired with her signature pearl choker still around her perfectly tanned neck, as is the studly, earnest and “well-scrubbed” Sheriff Lance Dawtry.

“Expect the unexpected in this fast-paced hilarious romp through the wilds of small town Florida life, for there is nothing at all conventional or usual about this stem-winder. Readers will be kept on the edge of their seats and guessing until the novel’s last pages.”

Great reviews and reader response.  One said, haha, “This book will part your hair!”


TwilightsIndianPrincess blog post




Now Available for Kindle on

Publisher’s catalog copy:  “Ever wonder what’s really going on in the mind of a woman having a meltdown?

“Sarah Sloan McCorkle of Piney Point, TN is a smart, hard-working schoolteacher, a good wife and great mother with a hair shirt conscience who “married down”—according to her Southern aristocrat mother. Way down.

“She’d tried to warn her. But you can’t tell someone like Sarah anything. She’s got a handle on everything, every molecule of her life. She understands everything at the cellular level. And way better than anyone else does.”

One of my favorites from the many great reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars

“Comedy, Transcendence with a Sexy Southern Drawl”

July 9, 2014

By J.B. Long

Verified Purchase

Sarah Sloan McCorkle “just ran outside for a few minutes to look for hornet nests.”

Margaret Langstaff with her latest, “Twilight’s Indian Princess”, may well have done the same. Her uncanny southern wit conceals profound spiritual truths swirling beneath the hilarious waves of her heroine’s bathtub epiphany. With all these well-tempered shades of Douglas Adams, Mark Twain and Flannery O’Connor; I cant wait to follow Sarah on further quests for peace.

“The receding rays of today’s sun were fire engine red and sat on the horizon as if to highlight something there in the distance where the sky and the earth meet. It was as if a huge red highlighter had been used on it to draw attention to it. It was a flaming streak that said to your eyes THIS IS IMPORTANT. And it was impossible to ignore. It hollered loud and clear, PAY ATTENTION. It said without words, but unmistakably, like a stop sign that girded the entire earth, STOP. And it did this so poignantly and beautifully in the hush of the last breath of this sweet-smelling, warm but not too warm July day, that she could not take her eyes off of it until it disappeared into the night.”

– Margaret Langstaff from “Twilight’s Indian Princess”


More to come, in the pipeline.

9 Responses to Books and Publications

  1. J.B. Long says:

    Until this morning, I was completely unaware you had written, “The Dead Goat Scrolls”. I vaguely remember hearing about it when it was first released. It’s hilarious and briliantly written. I was very shocked and happy to find it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ishmut (“He who sweats a lot”) is us. Per the usual, this one hit a nerve, the last one some people had evidently. It’s a story about providence. Those that can read seem to understand and to appreciate it; those that can’t, don’t. We soldier on. You know you’re onto something when readers either love it or hate it


  2. Stuff Jeff Reads says:

    Nothing wrong with self-promotion 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like it when folks get together and share opinions.
    Great website, continue the good work!

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