As many writers, musicians and artists attest, getting started is the key to giving voice to your desire to inspire others. If you don’t begin somewhere, you’ll never move forward. As I discovered this evening during dinner with a good friend, a fellow yoga student is walking this walk in a big way. Meet Dr. Mark J. Schiff – painter, credentialed restorative dentist and a true role model when it comes to the “just do it” philosophy. As Mark explains in an interview, his encounter with artists while traveling in California in the early 2000’s was the jump start for a blossoming career as anRead More →

Running errands this weekend, I happily discovered Elvis Radio, a Sirius XM channel devoted to the music and life of the iconic Mr. Presley.  Eager for a continued walk down memory lane, I spent part of the afternoon (post chores) listening to him croon Fever, Can’t Help Falling in Love, If I Can Dream and much more. His catalogue of hits is so big that it’s hard to single out one or two as favorites. Click here for iTune‘s tally. Elvis Presley had fans around the world, including other famous entertainers. Singer-songwriter Mac Davis said “Every performer who ever performed in rock and roll or even close to it is lying if they tell youRead More →

If you are in midtown Manhattan, try to make your way to 41st Street, between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue, for a glimpse of delightful expressions about books, writing and life. Known as Library Way, this series of bronze placards calls out notable words from famed authors that include Thomas Jefferson, Ernest Hemingway and Langston Hughes. Click here to read the full catalog of quotes. Once you have finished (if you are moving east to west), you will be rewarded with a view of the impressive main library building and the pair of lions, Patience and Fortitude, that guard the door. Time permitting, go insideRead More →

I finally made the time to watch Love Between the Covers, a “feature-length documentary film about the little-known, surprisingly powerful community of women who read and write romance novels.” In a fast-paced eighty-five minutes, director and producer Laurie Kahn gives the audience a fascinating peek inside the publishing world devoted to figurative affairs of the heart. The romance book market is huge. According to the Romance Writers of America website, 2013 sales in this genre surpassed $1 billion with thirty-nine percent of sales in the form of e-books and mass-market paperbacks accounting for thirty-two percent. Quartz reporter Thu-Huong Ha, author of “Maverick women writers are upendingRead More →

Anyone who attends workshops or reads articles about becoming a better writer has no doubt heard the message that word goals and schedules are important. You need to write before you have something you can sell. How you get the magic to appear on paper is another issue altogether with variations aplenty. Some outline. Others see where the first words lead them. Night owls say goodnight as the larks commence their morning workout at the typewriter. Some folks write here and there. Others throw themselves into a project for months at a time.  Some are calm.  Some are frenetic. The important thing is to discover what makes sense for you, acknowledging that yourRead More →

When I first taught university-level business courses, I regularly asked students to analyze a company’s financial health and write a cogent research report. After a few semesters of putting my red marking pens to work, I grew frustrated with poor grammar, inconsistent logic and otherwise sloppy work from dozens of individuals. Whenever I received an assignment that read too well, my first task was to run blocks of text through a plagiarism checker. With great disappointment, few literate papers passed the test. Many students cheated by having someone else do their work entirely or extracting full pages of words from published professionals. Eventually I insistedRead More →

I took away lots of lessons from ThrillerFest 2016, including the need to spice up dialogue and emphasize active over passive. More than a few faculty members, bestselling authors all, went so far as to encourage attendees to learn about screenwriting techniques. Ever eager to learn, especially now at this early stage of my mystery writing endeavors, I signed up for the next Save the Cat workshop in New York City. For those who don’t know, this famed approach to screenwriting was created by Blake Snyder and described in a series of books he wrote prior to his untimely death in 2009. In a Writer’sRead More →

For the last year, I’ve been reading books and attending events about writing technique, how to market one’s book, what to look for in a contract, how to work with an agent and much more. After a whirlwind week at ThrillerFest 2016 during which many of these topics were addressed, I’ve decided that a writer has to do it all, especially if one is contemplating self-publishing one or more books. Even if an individual has an agent and/or is publishing with a traditional firm, my view is that it is still smart to inform yourself about topics such as intellectual property rights, cost-effective ways toRead More →

I’m just back from ThrillerFest 2016, raring to put lots of great ideas into action. Kudos to Kimberly Howe and her colleagues for producing an educational and inspirational event. Thanks as well to all of the faculty members who shared their wisdom and made themselves available for questions. As it turns out, one of the panelists, bestselling author Mr. Thomas B. Sawyer, is a favorite of mine although I did not know it until I attended a session entitled “Playful, Stern or Downright Rude? How Dialogue Affects Thrillers.” Introduced as the showrunner and head writer for one of my all-time beloved shows, “Murder She Wrote,”Read More →

I finally got a chance to watch the biopic about screenwriter and author Dalton Trumbo and am glad I did. Bryan Cranston served his real life model well by portraying this Hollywood blacklist member as a man of principle. While I disdain communism for lots of reasons, I do believe in free speech and understand that the politically charged era of the late 1940’s was beyond difficult for many who were ousted for their views. Regardless of one’s philosophy, an aspiring writer can readily look to this prolific artist for lessons about perseverance and discipline. According to Biography.com, Dalton Trumbo was “one of the mostRead More →