Distractions and Annoyances

Two days ago, I actually stopped reading a book. I got to Chapter Nine, page 111, of a best-selling medical thriller by a “#1 New York Times Best Selling Author” and I quit with over three hundred pages to go. This is a rare occurrence in my reading life and is worth mentioning only because it made me think of A Favor Returned, my first novel. The reason I quit reading this bestseller was not the exciting, engaging plot, nor the depth and dimension of the characters, nor the palpable, vivid, and realistic hospital setting. Quite simply, the sloppy lack … Read more

Finding Your Voice

Some writers seem to write brilliant stories right out of the blocks. They’re twenty-something and their stories light up the eyes of readers, and award-nomination committees. These writers seem to have some innate ability to understand story from the outset. They know how to engage readers. They know which words to use to key into our emotions. They know pacing and dialogue and character. I envy them. To an extent. I suspect many more writers are like myself. Less innate ability and more passion, with a drive to learn and spend time in the seat writing the next story. I … Read more

Just Tell A Story

Hey Folks, My friend G. Chris Stern is taking a necessary hiatus today, so I’m filling in for him. To that end, I’m reposting here a post I shared over on HarveyStanbrough.com back in December 2017.  I hope you will enjoy it, and that it will help in some small way. So many of us have forgotten that our primary purpose is to entertain, first ourselves and then other readers. Entertainent really is the sole purpose of writing fiction. We get wrapped around words. Yet in and of themselves, they just don’t matter. Words really are only tools, like nails … Read more

What Does Your Character See?

And does your reader see what your characters see? Hear what they hear? Probably not exactly, but have you made it as close as possible? Without being aware of it, most of us carry around a mental file of stock photos, generic images that fill in for any object or person or place. The writer’s task is to jar the reader from the bland realm of generic pictures to specific images necessary to complete his/her story. First, let me make this absolutely clear: we know to deliver perceptions and descriptions through the major character(s). However, think about people you know … Read more

Becoming & Finding the Magic of Personal Greatness

Several weeks ago, Karen Riggs on her Sunday (3/24) PWW Post, shared with us her journey to become a novelist. I thanked her for sharing her journey and accepting the title of ‘novelist’, though acknowledging that she’s “got so much more to learn”. Don’t we all!! Her post reminded me of my concept of ‘becoming’. I have seen how the lack of personal acceptance is perhaps one of the major stumbling blocks of creativity. Very few artists, that I am aware of, regardless of their media, is born a great artist, great poet, great writer or great novelist. Greatness is … Read more

On Personal Challenges (a guest post)

Hi Folks, My buddy Dan decided to take a day off today, so I’m posting today in his place. Challenges can be an excellent way to jumpstart your writing and/or to enhance your productivity. I’m considered by some to be a prolific writer, having written 40-some novels and around 200 short stories in the past 5 years. But compared to the old pulp writers (and to many other professional writers today) I consider myself slothful. (grin) Whatever level of success I’ve achieved, I couldn’t have done it as quickly without setting myself a few personal challenges along the way. I … Read more

Listen with a writer’s ear

The other day some friends and I were discussing people who are “not all there.” People who react to life’s events with no concept of reality or consequences. We talked about people who lack any vestige of common sense, and about dinner guests who have absolutely no idea what common courtesy means. What does this have to do with writing? Glad you asked. As I listened to my friends giving examples of some of these annoying people in their lives, I realized I was listening with a writer’s ear. Every example they gave has now been filed into my “potential … Read more

Sustaining an Accidental Series

In an earlier post, I casually mentioned that Agent for Justice, my second novel, was the start of an “accidental” series. As I reread that post, I realized how curious that terminology was. Readers were sure to wonder what it meant. So, here is the explanation, for those who wondered and even for those who didn’t. Agent for Justice was not intended to be the start of a series. I wrote it as a stand-alone and intended that my next novel would be a fresh start with new characters, new settings, and, of course, a new, brilliantly designed and well-executed … Read more

Back Up Everything as if Your Life Depended on it

One computer? For everything? Maybe a few scattered USB drives with occasional backups? I’ve already recommended having a separate writing computer, but I appreciate that’s not always possible or practical. But one thing we writers really do need to make sure we do is create backups of our work. I’m not talking about “Oh I keep it in the cloud”. I’m talking about something you control. But you must back it up. Hard drives fail. USBs fail. Cloud services go out of business. If this is your livelihood, and even if it’s not, keep good backups. Please correct me if … Read more


Something I often find overlooked in a sea of writing advice is the need to recharge our creative batteries. Write, write, write, and write some more, we’re told. Make sure to write EVERY day, many encourage or demand, depending on their personalities. I had one very bossy, unbending writer tell me, bold as day, that being a “professional” means NEVER taking a day off or letting things like time with family and friends “interfere” with doing my “job”. Just out of curiosity, I asked, tell me ONE job that doesn’t allow for ANY days off. Crickets. Surprise, surprise. The answer, … Read more