blog

An archive of all my public posts.

  • blog,  Going Offline,  Header Slider

    Write Great Shit

    I started Kitten Holiday in October of 2013.  Since then, I’ve written ten stories, six hundred blog posts (insane, right?), and submitted articles to over twenty publications. I’ve published essays on numerous online publications and I’ve got a 40,000-word non-fiction book in draft and 75,000 words of scrap and freewriting for a novel–both have remained unfinished for two years. I need to focus and outline and edit and get the work done.  It’s time. My goal in starting Kitten Holiday was to get back into the routine of writing after a ten-year hiatus and to improve my skills.  I wanted to be able to take creative risks and push myself without feeling like…

  • blog,  On Writing

    Write Like A Boss: How to Establish Narrative Authority and Gain the Reader’s Trust

    This essay is a summary of the points made in my recent Write Naked, Die Famous Podcast on the topic of Beginnings. Use this article as a reference. Listen here: To write a great beginning that will keep the reader engaged, we’ve got to do three things: grab their attention, hook them with a promise and convince them that this story is the one they need to read. Convincing them takes a combination of persuasion and authority. Once we have their attention, enticing them with a promise is part of the persuasion — if the hook promises a payoff they are interested in, access to special information, a thrilling suspense,…

  • blog,  On Writing

    Mastering “The Hook” in Your Writing

    This essay is a summary of the points made in my recent Write Naked, Die Famous Podcast on the topic of Beginnings. Use this article as a reference. Listen here. Many of us think we can measure success in writing by sales, but any number of factors can impact your book sales that don’t have to do with your writing. You are a writer. Your job as a writer is not to sell units of books — that’s the job of the publisher and the bookstore. Your job as a writer is to keep the reader reading.  Keep her reading the next word, sentence, page, and chapter despite all the…

  • blog,  On Writing

    Are You Brainstorming or Beginning? Where Does Writing Start?

    This essay is a summary of the points made in my recent Write Naked, Die Famous Podcast on the topic of Beginnings. Use this article as a reference. Listen here: Writing is hard work but for most of us, it’s also fulfilling work. Whether you write fiction, poetry or non-fiction, writing comes from a creative spark that ignites a fire within us to express this idea through writing and, for many, to share this idea with others. The struggle many have with writing isn’t just the discomfort in revealing their ideas or vulnerabilities or in exploring the dark and frightening parts of their psyches with the world, the hardest part…

  • blog,  On Writing

    Four Ways to Grab the Reader’s Attention in the First Sentence

    Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t grab your reader in the first sentence, you could miss it. This essay is a summary of the points made in my recent Write Naked, Die Famous Podcast on the topic of Beginnings. Use this article as a reference. Listen here. There are so many things competing for our attention it’s even hard to focus on the important things, it’s hard to stay on task. We are easily distracted and hard pressed to really focus on something. With fast-paced TV shows, high tech movies and the scandal, drama and salacious content in bite-sized portions on social media, how are we, as novelists, supposed to…

  • blog,  Pop Culture

    Talking Schitt About Small Towns – Schitts Creek

    Yesterday I caught the tail end of a show on NPR about Schitt Creek, a show on Amazon about a couple who lose everything and have to move to a town they bought as a joke called Schitt Creek to rebuild their lives. That gives you an idea of how much their lives have changed if they are moving to a town they bought on a whim, as a gag, to rebuild.  It’s a riches to rags story. I haven’t seen the show although it sounds good and I want to watch it, but listening to the conversation about it on NPR made me really think about some assumptions in…

  • blog,  Book Reviews,  On Writing

    Book Review: The Art of Fiction by James Salter

    James Salter is one of my favorite writers. His book “A Sport and a Pastime” was one of the most beautiful, evocative and memorable books I’ve read in my life. The simplicity of his language betrays the emotional complexity of his stories and characters. This book was taken from lectures he gave to writing students and so the tone is as if he is speaking to us, personally, about his love of writing. He writes about his successes in writing and his failures, notably the poor reaction and bad reviews of his memoir Burning the Days. The book is short but packed with great details about his own writing as…

  • blog,  Book Reviews,  On Writing

    How Pat Conroy Uses Dialogue to Reveal Character in Prince of Tides

    Before I started writing stories and essays, I wrote plays. This was more of a happy accident than anything planned. I loved theatre and loved being in plays, but my performances were hit or miss. Some days, I was full of energy and confidence and would belt out songs in musicals as if I were destined to be Annie on Broadway. I played Charlie Brown in a musical at summer camp and had a lead in the musical “Bells Are Ringing” in middle school. After school, I went to the Pittsburgh Playhouse and studied drama and theatre hoping to ride my success as Chuck into a high school theatre career,…

  • blog,  Mindset

    Stress is a Choice

    I went to college on the other side of the country from where I lived. It was a nine hour trip, with two layovers, not including travel to and from the airport. I went alone, sight unseen other than the catalog. I had an independent spirit then, just as I do now. I don’t remember the trip being hard, I remember it being exciting. But I do remember being worried that the cab driver who brought me from the airport to campus would take me to the wrong college and I wouldn’t realize because I’d never visited. Everything turned out fine. I got dropped off at the correct college, found…

  • blog,  Pop Culture

    Meeting Walter Kirn

    The first time I met Walter Kirn was in the late 90s. When I met him again last year, I didn't expect that it would result in an adventure with Harper's Magazine!