Saturday, August 15, 2020

Review of A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting

This editorial review comes from


MM Kent, author of A Coward’s Guide to Oil Painting, is a genius. Not only is he a recognized painter in the world of art, but also a creative wordsmith. His novel begins with an explosion. Set in 1969, the plot weaves from West Texas to New Orleans, Mexico, and back to Texas with minute details that make the storyline believable. It is obvious that the author is well acquainted with his settings and the historical timeframe of the era of free love, civil rights, politics, race relations, and the Vietnam War. Perhaps he even lived in some of the scenes he narrates. It should also be noted that the novel’s captivating cover is a creation of Kent’s extraordinary grasp of art.

Kent’s character, Blaine Grayson, is believed to have been killed when his small private plane loaded with Mexican marijuana crashes in a bleak West Texas cow pasture. The story then gives a glimpse of Blaine’s back story as the scene shifts to his younger brother, Cliff, and his brief, life-changing encounter with a woman whose identity he failed to get. The saga continues with the two main characters, Mariah and Cliff, alternately telling their stories as they independently set out to learn the truth about Blaine’s airplane accident. During the search, Mariah poses nude for painting and sculpture classes, while Cliff paints in watercolor and later in oils.

Kent is a master in developing believable characters, as in:  “A tall gaunt man…the image of a funeral director or a riverboat gambler, pale-skinned… in a black vest, crisp white long-sleeved shirt, black slacks and shined shoes.  A large bent nose, wire-rim glasses, and a New York accent….”  Both Cliff, a young high school graduate running from the law and Mariah, a wild hippy chick, are complex and believable. They each advance the plot with alternating action, flashbacks and mysterious surreal experiences. The author weaves artistic theories, terms and techniques to create multiple layers of meaning like a palette knife painting including marijuana smuggling, murders, greed and grief. Sensuous action, music lyrics, luscious landscapes, Spanish language and delicious Mexican dishes make a spicy mixture, but when Mariah slides a slimy oyster down her throat and gags, “It comes back up, and [she] chase[s] it across the table with a napkin, snagging it before it heads to the floor.” White-knuckled action may get under the skin and into a reader’s nightmares but the bleak shadows of despair and mayhem are highlighted with quirky humor. A background quest for romance, a kidnapping, political intrigue and murder combine to bring the story to a roaring, twisted climax.

The visual imagery expressed in a painting and the mental imagery evoked by coherent writing are both forms of imaginative communication. Rarely does a visual artist/creative writer successfully accomplish both as well as Kent has done with A Coward’s Guide to Oil Painting. 

Reviewed by: Carole W

Monday, July 27, 2020


The first Amazon Reader Reviews are coming in at Five Stars for 
A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting.

On 7-17-2020, the book's sales rank reached #79,973 on Amazon, out of over 8,000 books listed.

Is this a novel about Art and Painting?          YES!
Is it an intimate, intelligent Love Story?       YES!
But wait. A mystery about outlaws in 1969?      YES, that too!

Look forward to more reviews.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

First Review of A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting:

MM Kent may have traded his traditional canvas for a word document, but his artist’s eye has still created beauty and life through black words on a white page. His debut novel, A Coward’s Guide to Oil Painting, is a fast-moving story that pauses to describe a market scene or the taste of gumbo, while questioning our nation’s moral compass through a historical, and often humorous, lens.

A Coward’s Guide follows the lives of two characters, Mariah and Cliff, through the months preceding and succeeding a fateful plane crash described in the first chapter. Their shared concern for Blaine, Cliff’s older brother who was involved in the crash, slowly draws them closer together geographically, until a short, chance encounter forms an instant connection. Through a tantalizing, almost unbearable use of dramatic irony, their stories continue to develop in the shadow of their independent searches for Blaine and personal discovery.

Set in the late 1960s, A Coward’s Guide asks important questions about drug use and government in America. Without losing the thread of the narrative, Kent describes the socialist movement in Mexico and its impact on a marijuana famer, adding layers to the tense discussion of foreign involvement in Latin America and the legality of weed. The serious topics and ethical dilemmas of A Coward’s Guide and the amorous undertones combine to produce a captivating novel that appeals to the intellects and romantics alike.  

MM Kent’s A Coward’s Guide to Oil Painting is a testament to both his literary talent and considerable skill with a paintbrush. His artful descriptions create clear images of people and places, and above all, his new book is a way for readers to observe the world through the eyes of an artist, in all its multi-layered beauty and contradictions.

Submitted by Grace Martin (age 19)

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Now Available at Last

Boxes of Books
came the other day. They are
Advance Reader Copies.
I've been sending them to folks
in hopes of getting reviews for 
my novel,
A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting.

At long last, the vision has become
reality. These ARCs
were rife with typos, syntax errors and
a few formatting glitches.

I've spent the past two weeks cleaning
up the manuscript with the help of friends
 and loves ones to create a polished
final version that I'm proud of. 

The odyssey of self-publishing
 is a daunting one, but I have to say in 
the literal sense, that I've built a book
from scratch, much as I've previously
built a house.

It is a relief to be finished.
Now, it behooves me to sell
the thing aggressively.

I've made a decision to promote 
my book with Amazon ads and Fb ads.
There is no newsletter. 

If you are 
interested in keeping updated on
MM Kent, the reviews that come in
and the progress of the sequel, 
then simply follow this blog
or follow MM Kent on Facebook.

The e-book is $5.95
paperback is $17.95

Order now on Amazon.

There are bells and whistles on my website:

Thank You
Enjoy your Reading!

Monday, June 15, 2020

BLOG POST (Includes Shameless Self-Promotion)

I’m not aware of any other author who has attempted to infuse a novel with the inside scoop of learning to paint in oils. There are Girl With the Pearl Earring and Sacre Bleu, both good reads, and any number of other books about artists and paintings, most written by non-painters trying to capture a mystique.
But even in Chris Moore’s hugely entertaining story about the muse and the pigment supplier wrapped in a diaphanous veil of magical realism, the focus is on history, and a sprinkling of facts rather than the direct experience of the writer. With Girl, the question is, “Did the art Icon, Joe Vermeer, abuse, seduce, fall in love with, befriend, or otherwise mistreat his model?” And as a secondary question, “Was she a victim or was she in on it from the start?”
Where can you find an honest, straight-forward doorway into the real artist’s experience? You can find it in A Coward’s Guide to Oil Painting, the Novel.
Mariah, our female protagonist, experiences having a ‘muse’ as well as being described as one. She submits to the gaze of the ‘other' while she herself is the ‘other’ for two groups of life drawing enthusiasts, raising existential questions like, “How is she changed by the ‘gaze?’ and “Where does the muse reside?”
While yearning to reclaim a tenuous connection with a potential mate, Mariah must choose between a quiet, simple life focused on her own needs and an active, involved one, focused on the needs of others. Characters who mean something to her hasten the decision making process.
Cliff, while practicing the techniques of painting in an exotic setting, has breakthroughs in coming to ‘see’ naturally, without a symbolic interface. This experience equips him with tools for life as well as art and determines his mode of inquiry in solving mysteries. His choices involve the seductiveness of cannabis, the lure of sirens, and ultimately, love in its many iterations and ramifications.

                                                                                                MM Kent

Monday, June 8, 2020

A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting


MM Kent

Local Artist Self-Publishes first Novel

·         Fayetteville, Arkansas, June 4 , 2020—MM Kent’s long-awaited book release is set for July 15, 2020. An intelligent, nostalgic re-picturing of the emergent subculture of 1969, A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting is a movable feast of sensual delights and artistic insight, part cozy, part caper, part coming-of age, with a dash of international intrigue and a smattering Spanish words—a sensuous bowl of pozole, tasty to the last drop.

·         It’s a love story, the first book in a series featuring the adventures of CJ MacRae and Mariah Justice. CJ and Mariah have an unlikely encounter in the dark and form an instant bond, but they become separated without proper introductions. When CJ’s brother’s plane crashes, he and Mariah set out on separate quests to find out what happened. As each gets closer to the truth, they seem to drift farther apart. Colorful characters and suspense-filled scenes at a mysterious hacienda outside San Miguel give A Coward's Guide to Oil Painting a South of the Border flavor, sexually curious folks in Austin add spice, and idyllic beach scenes in Zihuatanejo provide that patch of blue where the eye can rest. The boundary between what’s moral and what’s legal gives the book an outlaw feel, and the principles of painting take it to the level of Art.  

·      MM Kent—college athlete, college dropout, draft resister, back-to-the-lander, father, husband, construction worker, furniture builder, woodcarver, volleyball player, student of communication, gardener, grandfather, oil painter—is a national award winning artist and this is his first novel. Each chapter of the book begins with a piece of art instruction the author has gleaned from over 35 years as a professional artist, with an exhibition history in fourteen states and awards on both coasts.

Order the trade paperback from Amazon on July 15, 2020. $17.95 US
Pre-order the e-book now for delivery on July 15. $14.50US

For more information, contact:

MM Kent

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Book Release Scheduled

The new release date for my novel is July 15,2020. This one is firm, since Kindle Direct Publishing punishes those who miss the deadline for submitting a formatted manuscript. My intrepid editor is re-reading the final draft as I'm writing this. I'm researching fonts and templates, etc. in prep for a final push. Feels like time to start LaMaze breathing exercises.

Pre-orders are possible now on Amazon, click on the cover below: