Will be offline for a few weeks in early September.

For the time being all my books are available on Amazon exclusively. Nothing personal. This is a financial decision, but it is not set in stone. I will be evaluating the situation daily.

One of these days I shall get around to telling the my story. In the meantime, keep writing. It’s food for the soul.


What are you waiting for? Like I tell my dog, 1, 2, 3… Write!!!

Go ahead. Write. What’s the worst that can happen?

Well, let’s get this over with.

I’ll tell you the worst– you fail. You fail miserably. Few people read your book. Those who do say you suck.


That’s it.

Don’t give up your day job… yet. (And never ever ever respond to bad reviews.)

I kept my day job for five years after I published my first book. And if I still had three kids in college at once I’d be working at least half-time.

If readers say you suck, keep writing. You will improve. Practice doesn’t make perfect but it makes better.

Write your book. Get some help with editing. Get some help with formatting. Get a cover. These things are not expensive. I know, I do it all the time. Uploading to D2D and Amazon is easy as pie. If I can do it, you can do it.

One, two, three… Write!

Read a short story. Write a short story. Why?

Because a short story teaches you to economize. How to write a succinct beginning, middle, and end with no or minimal fluff.

Fluff = Unnecessary filler.

Assignment: Write a 5000 word short story.

Assignment: Write a 10,000 word short story.

Assignment: Write a 25,000 word short story.

Short story writers I recommend:

Me. I have a number of short stories which you can find in my book list. 🙂 (Look left.)

Believe it or not, Pistol Pete Maravich~ I swear he wrote a collection of short stories. Read ’em when I was a kid. Good luck finding them. I sure as heck cannot.

Washington Irving (of Sleepy Hollow fame).

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter).

Edgar Allen Poe.

John Steinbeck.

Ray Bradbury.

Henry James.

John  Cheever.

Sandra Cisneros. (I consider her novellas to be interconnected shorts.)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. (Again, her novel,l Mistress of Spices, gives one a sense of interconnected shorts.)

Nadine Gordimer.

I’d like to include more female short story writers, but women, at least according to traditional publishers, tend to write long. Or perhaps they aren’t published and promoted until they write long. But it’s more than that. It’s not sexism. You’ll notice most of those men are dead or old dudes.

It’s this~ in America the writing of a short story has become a lost art. To our literary detriment.

It’s also this~ The interesting thing? Over the past ten years erotica writers have mastered the art of the short story. Concise writing. Beginning. Middle. End.

Tell a story in your head.

When I was a kid, I put myself to sleep every night by imagining myself as a character in a superhero comic. Sometimes I was the superhero (a girl regardless of the sex of the superhero), sometimes I was the villain (again, a girl), and sometimes I was the Polly Purebred heroine who needed saving. It was fun and, more important, it exercised the storytelling synapses of my brain. Keeps brain muscles from atrophy.

To this day (or night) I put myself to sleep by creating a story in which I am one of the main characters.

Do you do this? If not, do you want to do this?

It’s easy.

Pick a story, any story. Could be a Nancy Drew mystery, could be The Hunger Games, could be Outlander. Pick a body, or rather, a character, for yourself– either a preexisting character or make up an entirely new character and insert her/him into the story. Now, rewrite the story in your own words. Tell the story you would tell had you written that particular story.

I’m not suggesting you write fanfic. Except in your head.

I’m suggesting you grow your writing chops by learning from other genre writers. I prefer genre work because genre writers generally create more compelling, more romantic, and more relate-able characters. I’m not about to insert myself into War and Peace, although I’ve stuck myself into The War of the Roses plenty of times. (That Edward the IV was a hottie in his youth!)

Heroic books that make for great imaginary fanfic – Jane Eyre. Shogun. Outlander. Your favorite romance novel- insert title here ______________________________________________. Historical fiction. Norse mythology. Comic books– great for beginners. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to fly or become invisible or shrink or make crazy weather? And Thor? He’s the best! Always been one of my faves.

Go for it. Like choose your own adventure. Rewrite your favorite stories in your head. Work those abs! Uh, I mean brain cells!

Prose has a beginning– Expository Writing.

When I first began to write… I don’t mean write but I mean move in the direction of prose as opposed to poetry and I wanted to shift my work from nothing more than a personal narrative to the wider world, I began with Expository Writing.

Expository Writing:

A term for any form of writing that conveys information and explains ideas.

As one of the four traditional modes of discourse, expository writing may include elements of narration, description and argumentation, but unlike creative writing or persuasive writing, its primary goal is to deliver information about an issue, subject, method, or idea.

In other words– Just the facts, ma’am. Expository writing helps you cut the fluff. It is a practice that teaches you how to say what you need to say in as few words as possible while still imbuing those words with meaning and yes, even pathos.

As my favorite writing teacher frequently repeated: “Why use a fifty dollar word when a fifty cent word will do?”

To put it simply, he was right. (Write?)

If there is one thing I would advise any would-be or hopeful writer to do it is to take an Expository Writing class. Look online, check out a local community college, a writers conference. See what’s available.

Expository writing is the first step to concise gripping resounding prose.

The Mental Activity of Writing. Step Three.

Imagination is the key.

As long as I can remember I’ve essentially sung myself to sleep with a story. It’s like this:

I write a story in my mind and I feature myself as the heroine. So easy to do!

The easiest way to begin is to pick a story, any story you like provided it is a heroic story, as in I want you to take a hero’s journey. I’ll make it even easier. If you like romance, pick Outlander. If you like science fiction pick, um… Stranger In A Strange Land, or The Illustrated Man, or, oh… super easy– Battlestar Galactica.

Remove the protagonist, male or female. Substitute yourself in his or her place and imaginarily write away! Rewrite the narrative in your head featuring you! I’m not encouraging you to actually write fanfic. I’m not a fan of fanfic. What I am suggesting is that you learn from the greats.

Become John Blackthorn of Shogun. Starbuck (the female version) of BSG. (One of the Sharons would be even better!) Jon Snow of GOT. Become Jane Eyre of Jane Eyre. But write your own narrative. Change things up. Stir the pot!

The stories we put on paper grow out of the stories we hear in our heads. Don’t be derivative! But at the same time keep in mind there is nothing new under the sun. Certain universal themes are recycled over and over again by countless authors and there is a reason for this. Universal themes resonate with readers. The trick is to spin your own unique version of these universal themes.

Oh, and read The Hero With A Thousand Faces, The Collected Works of Joseph Campbell. Yeah, slog through it. (It really ain’t no slog!) At the heart of every story lies the hero’s journey. Your characters must move forward, face challenges, and evolve, either for good or for evil. If they do nothing more than spin their wheels, take up page space, they are doomed to forever be labeled as boring. Nothing kills a book like boring.

Oh, an no whining. Whiny characters do nothing more than annoy readers.

So, as a mental exercise, pick your favorite book. Remove protagonist. Insert you. Go for it.

The Physical Activity of Writing. Step Two.

Last week I suggested would-be writers begin a journal.

Today I suggest poetry.

Read poetry. Write poetry.

Poetry is imagery, pure and simple. Sometimes it’s nothing more than words. Really. Doesn’t have to mean all that much.

A poem can be as simple as a few words or a couple of sentences. It does not have to rhyme!

Read simple poetry – Robert Frost. Carl Sandburg. Walt Whitman. Move on to Pablo Neruda (love poems). Langston Hughes. Sample ancient Chinese and Japanese forms of poetry– translated, of course. Japanese poems are especially big on simple imagery and symbolism. Move on to Beowulf and Gilgamesh!

Writing poetry is like automatic drawing. It’s an exercise designed to open the mind.

Automatic drawing can be done one of several ways. My preferred method is to look at something, anything, except the hand, my hand that holds the pencil. I place the tip of the pencil onto a large flat sheet of paper and without looking down I draw the forms I see before me. Some artists prefer to watch their hand, yet they do not consciously control the movement. I find that to be difficult. My brain wants to wrest control from my hand. Therefore I do not watch my hand. I prefer to let the images flow.

This is the same way poetry taps into the subconscious. Allow words to flow without interruption. As I said, a poem can be a single word. It can be 10,000. Although that would be kinda boring to read.

Step one: Start a journal.

Step two: Write a poem.

Feeling the heartbeat of pure imagery will help you create vivid scenes later. Trust me. It will work.