When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow, A Novel by Randy Evans

Below is a starred review excerpt about my first novel, When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow.  The book will be available on Amazon or from your favorite online or retail bookstore within the next 30 days.  I’m very exciting about this new book!  Much of the action, romance, and mystery take place on the Crooked River in northern Michigan.  And thanks to all the readers of my first two books:  Red Sky Anthology and Out of the Inferno

“Small heart warming coincidences bring together a group of people who find love outside their comfort zones…an uplifting tale about human connection, random acts of kindness, America’s heartland, and love.  When Strangers Meet at Devil’s Elbow shines in empathy and grace through well-crafted characters.”



Crooked River Book Cover
Crooked River Photo by Al Sevener

Actuary, a poem by Randy Evans, Author, Red Sky Anthology and Out of the Inferno

Herman loved numbers.

IMG_1618He dreamed digits in his slumbers.

As a child no larger than an elf,

He loved things smaller than himself

As a man he studied actuarial science,

A field to which he gave perpetual reliance.

He predicted his death the day his teeth fell out,

The day after his final treadmill workout.

He would not spend more time on bodily health,

For he died on the day he outran his wealth.

His wife discovered him dead, “Herman, what happened?”

When she found his obituary on a paper napkin.

He wrote, PS save the spreadsheets!

But she burned them all, along with his bed sheets.

The newspaper printed four paragraphs on Herman,

But readers flipped the page after reading the lead in,

“Herman loved numbers his whole life,

He leaves behind his calculator and his wife.”

Building Suspenseful Sentences


One of the best ways to keep readers turning the page is to keep them wondering about what will happen next.  The storyteller’s secret is the cat’s nemesis, curiosity.  In addition to a suspenseful storyline, build suspense into your sentences.  If a sentence is a message, handing over the message at the beginning of the sentence can result in a loss of interest.  The reader says, I get it so why are you wasting my time with more words?  If you deliver the goods at the back end, readers wait for a payoff, like searching for a surprise plastic cowboy in the bottom of a Cracker Jack Box.  More examples:  “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”  “Looking back on my thirty years of work in business, knowing what I intended and the results, meditating on all the fads that came and went, and the state of the field today, I see clearly that I achieved practically nothing.” So you place words or phrases at the end of the sentence that no one could have predicted.  Here’s another example from my memoir (available on Amazon), Out of the Inferno:  A Husband’s Passage Through Cancerland:  “And in perpetual loyalty to the entire family, in the last package of photographs, Laurene included a snapshot of our larger-than-life cat, Brother Butterscotch.”  Take a front-end-loaded sentence from your own writing, and back-end-load a surprise ending.  This technique will 1) add variety to your writing, 2) emphasize your most important ideas, and 3) sustain reader interest.

Give Books for the Holidays

I am grateful for the wonderful feedback that has been arriving in person and by email from readers in this country and overseas.  Both Red Sky Anthology and Out of the Inferno, the first two of four books in my Red Sky Series, continue to be category best sellers on Amazon, and are selling on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Nobles and at local bookstores in northern Michigan. One of my readers purchased eight copies of Red Sky for Christmas gifts, another purchased a gift copy for her brother who wanted to know what it was like to live in northern Michigan.  Please consider purchasing one or both books at your favorite online or neighborhood book store!  And stay tuned.  Crooked River and The Lawnmower Club, my first two novels, will be published in 2017.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Up North!


How to Paint a Marriage

How to A Paint Marriage (for Dana and Chad, Married October 22, 2016, Temecula, CA)

He paints the curve of her mouth when she smiles, and the squint in her eyes when she laughs.

She paints how he looks when he hums a tune to the wind’s music.

He pictures the flowers he placed in her hair, the day rain kissed them.

She pictures the sunny stories he whispers to her in the warm night.

He watercolors the tones of her skin and hair with the beauty of her world.

She watercolors his glowing face when he sees the blushing clouds of evening put the bare sun to bed,

and the tiny sigh, the sigh she barely sees,

when he looks up to fathom the moon and infinite stars.

He brushstrokes the complexion of her hopes and dreams,

the shapes of her ambitions, and the palette of her desires.

She brushstrokes the hues of his interior mind, the contours of his body, and the angles of his repose, awake and asleep.

They draw and shade the lost spaces of what they separately were, and charcoal landscapes of new territories to be traveled together.

Their art never covers the expanding white canvas.  Unfinished space opens every day, no matter how filled in with something very like love, faith, sorrow, and joy.

They create a marriage in a boundless sea of color harmonies, spilling outside the lines—never forgotten, never finished, never framed, never hung on a wall—never a still life.

They find new friends, explore sand beaches, forests, fields, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, and keep close who and what they treasure.

They fashion the artwork of marriage—dabs of love, splashes of passion, etches of friendship, sketches of caring, squiggles of fun—loud, free, and overrun with dogs and cats.

They paint a life as theirs, the gift they give each other, like a temple built to last, even when grass grows up between the stones.

—Randy Evans