• blog,  Creativity,  On Writing

    Author Reading: Mesha Maren Reading Sugar Run

    Tonight I went to an author’s reading in town.  I used to go to these all the time when I lived in Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Now I live in a smaller town that doesn’t have many and to get to the readings I have to drive 45 minutes.  Going into town for a reading or anything else for that matter was nearly impossible for many years.  Now that my kids are getting older and have busy social lives of their own, going to something like an author’s reading is possible with some extra planning. Tonight, Wiley Cash, author of A Land More Kind Than Home, was…

  • 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,  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,  Creativity,  Essay,  News,  On Writing

    A Touch of Chaos – Writing from The Edge

    I want to connect with you personally. Social media has made us antisocial. We connect through screens and snippets but not personally. I’m moving away from this as much as possible in a search for real connection and true engagement. Sending an email to you that you can reply to privately is the first step, sending snail mail to Patrons who support me on Patreon is the next step. I write fiction, plays, essays and now personal letters to share my ideas and imaginings. I try every day to maintain the balance between order and chaos to maximize my creative energy to share with you. We all seek and desperately…

  • Essay,  On Writing

    A Literatura Moderna não é nada além de uma Salada de Palavras Anti-Intelectual

    This is a translation of my article, “Modern Literature is Nothing More than Anti-Intellectual Word Salad” translated to Portuguese by writer, José Geraldo Gouvea Esta semana dois autores de meu círculo estavam preocupados com a mesma questão: Por que a literatura moderna é tão ruim? Pelo que eu sei, esses dois autores não se conhecem. Eles estão em círculos políticos parecidos (direitistas, conservadores) mas em diferentes círculos criativos, o que fez a coincidência de seu interesse comum ainda mais fascinante. Uma questão semelhante tem também estado em minha mente: “Por que parece que não tem surgido nada de novo ou excitante publicado recentemente?” ou, mais no ponto, “Por que os…

  • blog,  Humor,  Mindset,  On Writing

    What I Hate About My Readers

    The one thing I can’t stand about my readers is that you assume everything I write is autobiographical. Maybe not ALL my readers, but the ones who talk to me assume this. And honestly, the rest of you who don’t talk to me probably assume it too but just don’t say anything, so I take it back. This is what I hate about ALL my readers. I hate it. It drives me up the wall. It makes me crazy. And this is why: First Of All When you come to me and ask me if something is about me, you are never really asking. You think you already know the…