In a recently reposted essay, Joel Friedlander of book design fame extols the virtues of utilizing snappy photographs to grab readers’ interest. I heartily concur. In my eleven years of blogging at Pension Risk Matters, followed by Good Risk Governance Pays and now I Paint With Words, I have included an image in nearly every write-up. A visual can sometimes be more evocative of an idea or feeling than words alone. A selection can enhance the central message even when it’s not directly related to the subject at hand. To reinforce my commentary about building trust, I embedded an illustration of a giraffe atop an elephant with the latter walking acrossRead More →

As I explain in “Goal Setting With the Help of An Accountability Buddy” (December 29, 2016), there are real advantages of having someone regularly push you to stay on track. I’ve never worked with a creative partner this way so I welcomed the idea when a friend asked me if we could goal-set together. Having had our first weekly call this Monday, here are my thoughts: Creating my “to do” list to share with someone else takes time but it forces me to seriously reflect about macro and micro objectives, decide how many hours I ought to allocate to each activity and rank what has to get done first. It feels good to be able toRead More →

In the last few months, I’ve been getting a crash course in independent publishing from idea generation to distribution. Candidly, the process is considerably more work than I anticipated but I am excited about the feedback from beta testers and the continued validation about potential readership appeal. I will report much more about what I’ve learned as my first of several books gets closer to a launch in early 2017. For now, I offer three observations: Writing for profit is a serious business. One should have a good idea, investigate competitors and figure out how the final book should be priced, marketed and sold. ForRead More →

I’ve been longing to attend a “Save the Cat” screenwriting workshop for many months. I’d heard great things about this disciplined approach to storytelling. I was not disappointed. The content was developed by the late Blake Snyder, billed as “one of Hollywood’s most successful spec screenwriters” and author of several popular “how to” books. My instructor was Ben Frahm, likewise a screenwriter with an impressive track record in the entertainment business. I have more to learn about creating a “beat sheet” that translates a three act piece into fifteen key events to ensure drama, pacing and appeal. I am still reading books and articles aboutRead 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 →