May 10 RMMWA Meeting

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Location: Colorado Auto Dealers Association, 290 E. Speer Blvd., Denver, 80203
Cocktail hour: 6:30, dinner 7 p.m. Program follows.

Panelists: Becker Parkhurst-Strout, Amy Hall, Jennifer Hendzlik
Program: Get Your Book in the Library

What will make your book stand out so that librarians say “Gotta buy that!?”  Which reviews do we pay attention to?  Which indie-published books do we buy? How important are the title, cover art, and blurbs from published authors?  What does the library purchasing process look like? Join us as we share insights about how librarians make purchasing decisions. Get perspective from collections librarians from different sized systems with varied approaches. Questions encouraged.

Panel Biographies:

Amy Hall has been the Collection Development Librarian for Adult Materials at Jefferson County Public Library for (roughly) the last two and a half years. She has also been a backlist buyer for both general and genre fiction at the Tattered Cover Book Store, and worked for a few years at the University of Denver’s Publishing Institute.

Becker Parkhurst-Strout has worked for the Denver Public Library for 17 years, the past 5 in Collection Development. She is passionate about books, the outdoors, social justice, and her family and pets.

Jennifer Hendzlik is a buyer with Anythink Libraries and sees herself as part fiction guru, part educator and part musician. She also teaches readers’ advisory at the University of Arizona and has presented for a variety of organizations including PLA, MLA, MALA and CAL. She received her MLS from Syracuse University.

A full dinner is served at our evening meetings including non-alcoholic beverages, coffee and dessert. Beer and wine are available for sale.

Menu: Traditional chicken Marsala, pan seared chicken with sautéed mushrooms, Marsala sauce and  fettuccine pasta accompanied by a grilled vegetable salad – seasonal vegetables and feta cheese, atop a bed of spring greens with sun dried tomato vinaigrette. All meals are served with assorted desserts. Iced tea, water and coffee are included, beer and wine are available for sale. Vegetarian meal available upon request.


March 8 RMMWA Meeting

Location: Colorado Auto Dealers Association, 290 E. Speer Blvd., Denver, 80203
Cocktail hour: 6:30, dinner 7 p.m. Program follows.

Speaker: Kathleen Donnelly
Program: The Crime Fighting Nose

Menu: Elements signature lasagna with salad & garlic bread. All meals are served with assorted desserts. Iced tea, water and coffee are included, beer and wine are available for sale. Vegetarian meal available upon request.

Pay online

Presentation description: We see them on television, read about them in books and see them in action at airports or traffic stops—the amazing K-9s. These dogs work in many different capacities from police and military work to finding cadavers to search and rescue and much more. Ever wonder about their training? What is it like living with a K-9 as a roommate? What does it look like when a dog alerts? This is your chance to see a narcotics K-9 in action and get your questions answered.

Kathleen will present with Willow, one of her Sherlock Hounds partners. During the presentation Kathleen will explain and demonstrate how she and her dogs go into schools and private businesses to help keep them safe. She’ll explain how the dogs are trained to detect illegal drugs in schools which include: marijuana, meth, heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, gunpowder and alcohol. Kathleen will discuss the differences and similarities between her dogs and police K-9s, the ongoing Colorado state level rulings regarding dogs continuing to alert on marijuana and will answer any burning questions you have about K-9s. Willow will give a demonstration and show how well her crime fighting nose works.

Click for more information on Sherlock Hounds.

Kathleen Donnelly Bio: Passionate about animals and the outdoors, all of Kathleen’s interests end up in written form, one way or another. Her experiences being a part-owner and K-9 handler for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines over the past 12 years play a major role in much of her writing. She is currently working on a mystery featuring a female protagonist who’s a K-9 handler for the National Forest Service, a manuscript that was named a finalist for a 2017 Claymore Award. Kathleen lives in Berthoud, Colorado with her husband and all their four-legged friends.

Willow Bio: Willow has been a K-9 for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines the past two years. A rescue from Oklahoma, she loves keeping schools safe by sniffing out drugs, alcohol and gunpowder. Willow’s other passion is sitting by Kathleen’s desk and consulting on anything K-9 related Kathleen is writing. She lives in Berthoud, Colorado with her fellow drug dogs DJ, Gracie and retiree Sparky.

February 8 Meeting

Location: Colorado Auto Dealers Association, 290 E. Speer Blvd., Denver, 80203
Cocktail hour: 6:30, dinner 7 p.m. Program follows.

Pay online

MENU: Grilled top sirloin, mushroom demi-glace and garlic roasted potatoes with a classic Caesar salad. All meals are served with assorted desserts. Iced tea, water and coffee are included, beer and wine are available for sale. Vegetarian meal available upon request.

Presentation: Forensic DNA
Presenter: Chief Deputy District Attorney John Kellner

The presentation will focus on Forensic DNA in the courtroom from a prosecutor’s perspective and how it has been used it to achieve murder convictions in a variety of cold cases. John Kellner will provide an overview of the common sources of DNA, including some surprising items that prosecutors have been able to pull DNA from in real life. The presentation will cover some different types of DNA analysis including mitochondrial, YSTR, and familial, with real-life examples of how it helped solve crimes or gain convictions.He will also discuss a cold case murder from 1994 in Boulder and the subsequent trial of Michael Clark in 2012, and the 2015 trial of Jon David Harrington for the murder of Carolyn Jansen in 2002. Finally, he will discuss some recent advances in DNA analysis such as rapid DNA testing for use in the field, and phenotyping to generate a composite sketch of a suspect.

John Kellner is a Chief Deputy District Attorney in the Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney’s Office, the largest and most populated jurisdiction in the state of Colorado. In his most recent assignment he served as the senior deputy for the Cold Case Unit and focused solely on solving and prosecuting murder cases. Some of those cases include the 1996 disappearance of Kimberly Medina and the 2013 trial of Michael Medina in a “no body” homicide case; the 2010 murder of a Sudanese refugee that resulted in three separate murder trials and convictions of gang members in 2015/2016; and the 2015 trial of a man convicted of murdering and hiding the body of Carolyn Jansen in a Rubbermaid container in 2002. In 2016, John was recognized as the Prosecutor of the Year for the entire state by the Colorado District Attorney’s Council.

John also serves as a Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserves. He served on active duty for five years and deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan where he assisted local prosecutors with cases against insurgents in the city of Marjah. As a reservist he has travelled across the country supporting military prosecutors in high-profile courts-martials. He is currently assigned to the Staff Judge Advocate’s Office for NORAD-USNORTHCOM as an Operational Law attorney.

January 11 RMMWA Meeting

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Program:  The Spy-Catcher Who Came In From a Real-World FBI Office

Presenter: Jerry Ackerman

Spies have shaped and influenced the course of history from the shadows since ancient times, and continue to do so today, undermining national and economic security. Special Agent Jerry Ackerman worked foreign counterintelligence and counterespionage for 15 years out of Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Denver. He’ll discuss past FBI espionage investigations as well as the methodology and tradecraft used by spies and how the FBI counters them. The FBI, spies, and tradecraft are portrayed often in film, television, and books, but the portrayals are not often accurate. He’ll discuss the day-to-day investigative duties and terminology to add the required touch of realism to characters and plots involving the FBI as well as espionage stories.


Jerry Ackerman is a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation where he has worked matters such as foreign counterintelligence, counterespionage, and crimes against children. He is a team leader on Denver’s Evidence Response Team, processing crime scenes. He served in the U.S. Navy, where he dangled from helicopters while performing search & rescue operations as well as mission support for NASA projects such as the Mars Pathfinder, space shuttle recoveries at Edwards AFB, and X projects like the X-36 tailless fighter. As Alistair Kimble, Jerry co-wrote Iron Angels, an FBI procedural with urban fantasy underpinnings. Iron Angels was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of its top 10 science fiction, fantasy & horror picks for the fall of 2017 and was released on September 5, 2017 from Baen Books.


December: Mystery & Mistletoe

$10 for both members and non-members

The event begins at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the Colorado Automobile Dealers Assn. headquarters at 290 East Speer Blvd. in downtown Denver. Tickets are $10. The Tattered Cover will be on hand to help those shopping for holiday gifts. The public is welcome. Tickets can be purchased in advance at

Mystery Writers of America members scheduled to read excerpts of their works include Carter Wilson, Catherine Dilts, Shannon Baker, co-authors Carl and Jane Bock, Christine Goff, Jennifer Kincheloe, Kevin Wolf. Francine Mathews, Margaret Mizushima, Sue Hinkin, Jeffrey Alan Lockwood, Barbara Nickless, Charlotte Hinger,

Twist Phelan, J.L. Abramo and Cynthia Kuhn.

In addition, the winners of the Six-Word Mystery Contest will be announced. The contest opened October 1 with final deadline to enter at midnight, November 26. Six-word “novels” can be entered in one or all five of the following categories: Hard Boiled or Noir; Cozy Mystery; Thriller Mystery; Police Procedural Mystery; and/or Romance and Lust.

Cost to enter the contest is $6 per entry (just $1 per word); or $10 to enter six-word mysteries in all five categories. The grand prize winner will receive $100 in cash.

Finalists in other categories will receive valuable gift cards to Tattered Cover and will be featured on the RMMWA website. The Six-Word Mystery Contest is open to all adults 18 and over. No residency requirements.

Judging entries in the contest will be The Denver Post’s Features Editor Jenn Fields; New York Times best-selling author Anne Hillerman; award-winning author, lawyer and activist Manuel Ramos; Tattered Cover Book Store owner and author Len Vlahos; and literary agent Terrie Wolf, owner of the AKA Literary Management agency.

Judges will select finalists in each category and winners will be chosen by those attending “Mystery & Mistletoe.”

Bone Stories: Forensic Anthropology for Mystery Writers | September Event with RMFW

Presenter George Gill

Host Jeffrey Lockwood








Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers & Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America present:

Bone Stories: Forensic Anthropology for Mystery Writers

Presenter: George Gill

Host: Jeffrey Lockwood

Date: Saturday, September 23

Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Location: Sam Gary Branch Library, 2961 Roslyn St., Denver

This workshop will draw the participants into the field of osteology as it pertains to inferring the identity of the victim (age, stature, gender and ancestry), time/cause of death and other features of interest to mystery writers (e.g., did you know that it is possible to deduce the gender of a person from cremated remains—with a bit of luck?).

In addition to fascinating tales by one of the nation’s leading forensic anthropologists, there will be opportunities for hands-on experience with bones.


A light lunch and snacks will be provided.  Program will begin at 9:15 a.m.


$20. Reserve your spot by clicking the button below  or email Susan Paturzo at to reserve your spot and pay at the door. Space is limited.


George W. Gill received B.A. with Honors in zoology from the University of Kansas in 1963, at which time he entered military service as a U.S. Army Combat Ranger. After receiving his honorable discharge in 1967 at the rank of Captain, he returned to Kansas with a fellowship in anthropology, completed his Ph.D. in 1971, and accepted a position that year at the University of Wyoming, where he is still active in teaching and research. Dr. Gill has excavated and studied several hundred human skeletons from tropical west Mexico, Easter Island, and the Great Plains of North America. His travels have carried him to 45 countries and all 50 states, where he has been able to develop notes and slides on many peoples and cultures. Dr. Gill has developed osteological collections which form parts of the national museum collections of Mexico and Chile, served as scientific leader of National Geographic Society’s 1981 Easter Island Anthropological Expedition, and has been active in skeletal identification for law enforcement agencies as a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He has served as Secretary and Chairman of the Physical Anthropological Section of the AAFS and as a member of the Board of Directors of the national certification board for forensic anthropologists.

Jeffrey Lockwood is an unusual fellow. He grew up in New Mexico and spent youthful afternoons enchanted by feeding grasshoppers to black widows in his backyard.  This might account for both his scientific and literary affinities. He earned a doctorate in entomology from Louisiana State University and worked for 15 years as an insect ecologist at the University of Wyoming.  He became a world-renowned assassin, developing a method for efficiently killing billions of insects (mostly pests but there’s always the innocent bystander during a hit).  This contact with death drew him into questions of justice, violence, and evil. He metamorphosed into an appointment in the department of philosophy and the program in creative writing.  Unable to escape his childhood, he’s written several award-winning, non-fiction books about the devastation of the West by locust swarms, the use of insects to wage biological warfare, and the terror humans experience when six-legged creatures invade their lives. Pondering the dark side of humanity led him to the realm of the murder mystery.  These days, he explores how the anti-hero of crime noir sheds existentialist light on the human condition: In the end, there are no excuses-we are ultimately responsible for our actions.  The first of his three-book noir mystery series featuring an ex-cop-turned-exterminator is titled: Poisoned Justice (Pen-L, 2016). Look for Murder on the Fly to be released later this year. Jeff is a member of the board for the Rocky Mountain chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

July RMMWA Meeting

Brief But Deadly

with Catherine Dilts, R.T. Lawton, Shannon Lawrence, and Steve Pease
RMMWA Panel Thursday, July 13, 2017

6:30 PM social
7:00 PM dinner and program
Location: Home of Catherine Dilts (address will be emailed to you after your Paypal payment has been received)
Cost: $10 includes light supper, beer and wine

Please RSVP by Monday, July 10.

All about the benefits of writing short—writing short stories to drum up readers for your novels, writing short fiction for the sake of the story, awards, and visibility.

  • Writing to a theme versus writing what strikes your fancy.  Is it worth writing to an anthology theme, especially if it’s a very specific theme they might not be able to place elsewhere if rejected?
  • Do you need to market short stories? (Posting to social media, participating in blog cover reveals/advertising hops, featuring on your website).
  • What happens when you try to write a short story, but it turns into a novel?
  • What does “short” mean? Definitions of flash, short, long, novella.
  • Favorite short story authors and magazines.
  • “The return of the short story,” with efforts by groups like SMFS and Sisters in Crime to encourage reading and writing short.
  • No one reviews short fiction – wrong! Mystery Scene Magazine, blogs.
  • Anthologies – and where to find calls for submissions.
  • Magazines vs. anthologies – The benefits of both.

Presenter biographies:

Shannon Lawrence

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her short stories can be found in nearly twenty anthologies and magazines, including Space and Time Magazine, Dark Moon Digest, and The Deep Dark Woods. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there’s always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her at

RT. Lawton

R.T. Lawton is a retired federal law enforcement agent, a past member of the Mystery Writers of America board of directors and a three-time Derringer nominee with over 110 short stories in various publications, to include Blood on the Bayou(2016 Bouchercon anthology),The Mystery Box ( 2013 MWA anthology), And All Our Yesterdays anthology,Who Died in Here? anthology, the West Coast Crime Wave anthology, Deadwood MagazineEasyriders, Outlaw BikerWoman’s World magazine, and 37 sold to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. He also has four e-collections at and at Smashwords for other e-readers. You may have attended one of his Surveillance Workshops at various writers conferences.

Steve Pease aka Michael Chandros

Steve writes fiction under the name of Michael Chandos. He is a retired career Intelligence Officer and he teaches an occasional course in the writer’s dual approach to writing with Intelligence. He has placed mystery short stories online (SHOTGUN HONEY) and in themed anthologies (BLACK COFFEE), and science fiction also online and in themed anthologies (ALIENS). He has at least three short stories in submission at all times and several novels in the plotting and free-writing process.

Catherine Dilts

Catherine Dilts is the author of the Rock Shop Mystery series, while her short stories appear regularly in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. With a day job as an environmental regulatory technician, Catherine’s stories often have environmental or factory-based themes. Others reflect her love of the Colorado mountains, fishing, and running. Her story The Chemistry of Heroes was a 2017 Derringer finalist. This fall, she takes a turn in the cozy mystery series Secrets of the Castleton Manor Library. You can learn more about Catherine’s fiction at

Margaret Coel honored at RMMWA holiday meeting

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America  holiday showcase  featured a tribute to the long, successful and ongoing career of mystery writer Margaret Coel.

margaretcoelMargaret Coel is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River mystery series set among the Arapahos on Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation and featuring Jesuit priest Father John O’Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. Margaret published the 20th novel in that series, Winter’s Child, earlier this year and announced at the time the Wind River series was complete.

Five of Coel’s novels have received the Colorado Book Award. The Spirit Woman received the Willa Cather Award for Best Novel of the West and was a finalist for the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award for Best Novel.

Margaret Coel is also the author of five non-fiction books including the award-winning Chief Left Hand, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This biography of an Arapaho chief and history of the Arapahos in Colorado has never gone out of print. The Colorado Historical Society has included both Chief Left Hand and Margaret’s memoir-history of railroading in Colorado, Goin’ Railroading (which she wrote with her father, Samuel F. Speas) among the best 100 books on Colorado history.

The guest emcee for the evening was Francine Mathews, author of 10 mysteries and spy thrillers, including the recent Too Bad to Die. Writing as Stephanie Barron, she is also the author of 13 novels in the Jane Austen Mystery Series and two additional works of historical fiction.

The showcase also included readings by Jane Bock, Chris Goff, Karen Graffenberger (writing as Karalee Long), Christine Jorgensen, Jennifer Kincheloe, Jeffrey Lockwood, Bruce Most, Barbara Nickless, Manuel Ramos, Carter Wilson, and Kevin Wolf.

November RMMWA Meeting

Kristen Gilligan and Len Vlahos: “We Just Bought America’s Most Iconic Indie Bookstore…Now What Do We Do?”

What: November RMMWA meeting
Where: Historic Denver Press Club
When: Thursday, November 10, 2016
6:30 p.m. socialization and cash bar
7:00 p.m. dinner
8:00 p.m. presentation

MENU: Balsamic marinated London broil served on a bed of caramelized red onions and mushrooms with garlic mashed potatoes and a grilled vegetable salad ~ marinated and grilled seasonal vegetables and feta cheese, atop a bed of organic spring greens with sun dried tomato vinaigrette.

COST: Via Paypal, cost for the meeting with meal is $20 for members; $23 for non-members. Payment at door for meeting with meal is $25 for everyone! Attending the meeting without meal is $5 through PayPal and at the door.
RSVPs are necessary. Please email our Caterer Director, Susan Paturzo by Monday, November 7th, to ensure your reservation or simply RSVP and pay via PayPal. To pay for more than one reservation, click the “Continue Shopping” button once you are routed to PayPal. Walk-ins are welcome if space and food allows. RSVP by Monday, November 7th.

PROGRAM:  Kristen Gilligan and Len Vlahos: “We Just Bought America’s Most Iconic Indie Bookstore…Now What Do We Do?”

November 10, 2016 Meeting

Psst—the bookstore in question is the Tattered Cover, in case you couldn’t guess. Kristen and Len’s presentation will cover things of great interest to authors, including how they came to buy Tattered Cover, trends they’re seeing and their plan for the future, their personal histories working with books, and a brief history of disruption in the book industry. And of course, any questions MWA members might have.

With four locations in and around Denver, and three branded locations at Denver International Airport, Tattered Cover is an iconic brand not only in Colorado, but nationally. Built over four decades by current owner, the legendary Joyce Meskis, the stores are known for an inviting atmosphere, a large and well-curated selection of books, a robust schedule of author events, full service coffee shops, and legendary customer service.

Before joining Tattered Cover, Len was the Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, a national not-for-profit trade association doing standards, research, and education on behalf of the entire book industry. Prior to that, Len spent nearly twenty years at the American Booksellers Association (ABA) where he served a variety of roles, including overseeing ABA’s e-commerce and education programs, leaving in 2011 as Chief Operating Officer. In his early career Len worked in indie, chain, and university bookstores. He has also served on the boards of directors for EDItEUR, the International Digital Publishing Forum, and as a citizen’s advisor to the Stamford Public Library. Len is also the author of *The Scar Boys* (Lerner), a critically acclaimed young adult novel published in January 2014 and its sequel, *Scar Girl* (Lerner. He is under contract with Bloomsbury Kids USA to publish to new YA novels in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Kristen also worked at ABA, where, for a decade, she held a variety of positions, including Director of Meetings and Events. As a member of the ABA’s senior staff, Kristen was privy to and participated in strategic discussions on the current state and future of the book industry with many of the industry’s leaders. She was also directly involved in the creation of ABA’s education program; assisted and counseled potential members on opening a bookstore; managed ABA’s public relations and publicity; and advocated on behalf of independent booksellers on First Amendment issues, Internet sales tax, and the development of sustainable local economies. During her tenure at ABA, Kristen was a member of the American Society of Association Executives and sat on the Children’s Booksellers & Publishers Committee, a joint group of ABA, the Association of American Publishers, and the Children’s Book Council. Before joining ABA, Kristen managed an independent bookstore in her hometown of Chappaqua, New York.

Kristen and Len are actively involved in the education of their two sons, Charlie (age seven) and Luke (age five). They live in Littleton, Colorado with one very large cat.


Here There Be Monsters: Hunting for Criminals in the Virtual Sea

WHERE: The Historic Denver Press Club, 1330 Glenarm Place, Denver, second floor.

WHEN: Thursday, October 13th. 6:30 p.m. conversation and cash bar; 7:00 p.m. Dinner; and 8:00 p.m. Program

COST: Via Paypal, cost for the meeting with meal is $20 for members; $23 for non-members. Payment at door for meeting with meal is $25 for everyone!
Attending the meeting without meal is $5 through PayPal and at the door.
RSVPs are necessary. Please email our Caterer Director, Susan Paturzo by Monday, October 10th, to ensure your reservation or simply RSVP and pay via PayPal on the website! Walk-ins are welcome if space and food allows.

MENU: Herb-crusted pork loin ~ tender pork loin drizzled with an herbed demi-glace with roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Served with a grilled vegetable salad ~ marinated and grilled seasonal vegetables and feta cheese, atop a bed of spring greens with sun dried tomato vinaigrette.

With Gary Dawson, Senior Deputy, 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Gary will cover:

  • Pardon me Stewardess, I speak Geek·
  • Evidence is Everywhere Online·
  • Online Luring
  • Identification Through the Internet
  • Exploitation
  • Now How Did That Get There? Common Defenses to Incriminating Evidence Found on a Computer
  • P2P Networks
  • Cellphones/ The Cloud

Gary Dawson has been a prosecutor his entire legal career.  From 1996 through 2008 he was a prosecutor in the St. Lawrence County (Canton, NY) and the Onondaga County (Syracuse, NY) District Attorney’s Office.  He became a member of the Onondaga County DA’s Office Special Victims Bureau in 2001.   He was promoted to Deputy Bureau Chief of Special Victims in 2006, and then Bureau Chief in 2008.   This bureau specialized in prosecuting some of the most sensitive of all crimes –those involving children, child and adult sexual assaults, and domestic violence.  He has also handled numerous computer-related cases against children and was appointed a Special United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York for prosecutions of child pornography.   He joined the 18th Judicial District DA’s Office in October of 2008, and was a Senior Deputy in the Special Victims Unit from April 2009 through December 2015.  He now is a Senior Deputy in the general felony docket.

He has spoken to numerous public, service, and law enforcement agencies on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and criminal law.  Over his career, in addition to SVU cases, he has prosecuted cases covering virtually all facets of criminal law, including homicides, narcotics, fraud, DUI, and arson.

Gary created the RISK program while in Syracuse and it has gone on to educate over 11,000 parents and kids in New York.   The program was highlighted on a December 2007 Fox News segment on internet safety.  Since 2009, RISK has already succeeded in reaching over 14,000 parents and students in Colorado.

A native of Southern California, he tries to cope with the lack of gridlock traffic (which he misses so very much), and the lack of smog, earthquakes, mudslides, Kardashians, and the astronomical cost of housing in Los Angeles by downhill skiing, following the Yankees, hiking,  drawing cartoons, being one of those insufferable CrossFit people, and keeping up with his three dogs.

October 13, 2016 Meeting