Friday, April 14, 2017

Announcing a My Brand New Book

Available on #Amazon Today!

His Egg-cellency, The Woon of Bink, does not believe in minor infractions. In three years, he has thrown over half of Bink's population into Jug-jails for crimes like laughing or sitting on the curb. The consensus is that somebody oughtta' stand up to that cracked descendant Humpty Dumpty. However, standing up to tyrants implies one has a leg to stand on. Nervous little Funny-Foot doesn't even have one good toe. With more ridiculous laws coming daily, the tiny fellow is forced rocker-feet first into a confrontation with baddest of all bad eggs.

When two Jug-breaking children declare Funny-Foot their bandit chief, he places little faith in his new title. His terrified people might raise quaking fists in rebellion, but they'll hide 'em out of sight just as fast. Even so, their fate depends on Funny-Foot finding the One Voice even the mean old Woon can't ignore. To do that, this reluctant ambassador must become the most desperate criminal the land of Bink has ever known!

Click here to read the first chapter. Click here or on the title above to purchase this book.

Monday, September 8, 2014


Easy. Twenty minutes of your time each day. That's it. That's all. But what do I have to do? Just sit down with a little kid and listen. No, really. That's it!

For the last couple of years, I have been a kindergarten volunteer. I perform an incredibly crucial service. I listen while they read. At the beginning of the year, my little ones come to my table earnest and often frustrated. They want to please so much, but sometimes the letters and words don’t click. They start feeling stupid and useless and cornered. There’s nothing worse than watching the walls come down hard in a child’s mind, when they’ve convinced themselves there’s no way they’ll ever figure out the strange coded symbols on the page. If left to their own devices, without the constant encouragement and the patience of an adult (or stronger reader), many of these kids give up completely. Yet here’s the thing. If that adult is there, if that encouragement is there, if someone just listens…then, when they finally make the connections… honest and truly you can actually see these kids glow. You can see the world open up in their eyes, and they start carrying themselves differently, holding their heads up, and moving with more confidence. The teachers I worked with said that just having someone there to work on those reading skills helped to boost the kids reading comprehension scores as much as twenty-five percent.

Every kid learns differently, but here is what I have learned. Be patient. Be calm. Bribe like the dickens! Shiny stickers are better than hard currency where kids are involved. If my kids can get through one book by themselves, or at least keep trying without giving up, they get three stickers. Sometimes, I pick up a few prizes or certificates from the dollar store as bonus prizes. Last year, I had star stickers. There was a little girl who had struggled for so long in the beginning. At the end of the year, she pulled me aside and began reading book after book to me. She read twelve books in one sitting without a lick of help. I gave her a galaxy of stars. Every year, I ask the little ones to promise me that they will keep reading anything they can get their hands on. Months after the fact, several of them have sought me out to tell me they’ve been keeping their promise. What’s really wonderful is that the kids aren’t the only ones who get something out of this experience. When I think about the time I’ve spent listening to these little ones sounding out their words, my heart feels like it’s floating in my chest and I get all teary-eyed. The joy of learning becomes contagious.

I was lucky. There has never been a time in my life when I wasn't completely surrounded by books or by people who loved language. I remember clearly that I would pester every one of Mom’s bridge partners to come into my room to read me a bedtime story. Bless their hearts, they were teachers, too, and they just grinned and rolled with it. I took it for granted that everyone felt the same way, and everyone could read just like I could. I didn't realize how hard the struggle could be, especially when some kids never got the chance to practice reading aloud to others.

According to Do,
“2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.” (
The Literacy Project Foundation states that “
Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children.” (
. The site goes on to mention that
“Between 46 and 51% of American adults have an income well below the poverty level because of their inability to read.”
Literacy Partners.Org states that
“Worldwide, 775 million adults — approximately 12 percent of the world’s population — are considered functionally illiterate, with only basic or below-basic literacy levels in their native languages”. (

It’s hard to change the world all at once, but every person can have a ripple effect in their communities, and that can have a ripple effect on the whole. Today, I ask you to be the stone in the pond, and start rippling out. Read to a kid. Let a kid read to you. Do the voices, make it exciting. Then encourage them to do the same, and remember how great it was when people would tell you stories. Fan a spark of interest into a consuming bonfire to learn. I cannot imagine my life without a profound and enduring love of words. This world, and so many more, would have been completely closed to me. Read with a kid. Your impact will be greater than you’ll ever know!

Monday, March 31, 2014



"Everything is binding.

Choose only what you can carry..."

I am pleased to announce the publication of my second volume of poetry, A WORD CROW'S FRETWORK: A COLLECTION OF ORIGINAL POEMS.  These 24 poems include wistful reflections on topics that lifted my heart, dented my ego, and even a few that frightened me to the core of my soul.

Interested? Click on link above to get your own copy from Amazon today.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Ha! Ha!

I Write like Neil Gaiman!

I Write Like checks which famous writer you write like by analyzing your word choice and writing style and comparing them with those of the famous writers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Note of Enthusiasm

While writing is often considered a solitary pursuit, writers are reactive personalities, just like actors.   Think about it.  In a play, an actor feeds off of the energy of his audience.  If they aren't feeling it, the actor's performance can slip and his confidence gets shaken, and then the cycle not only continues, but gets worse.  When the actor isn't completely committed to his role, the audience becomes even more disgruntled.  BUT, just one actor who enjoys what he's doing can be the high point in an otherwise forgettable performance. 

A few years back, we caught a showing of The Phantom of the Opera. The main leads had the night off and the "second-string" cast was on stage.  It was a matinee on a grungy day, and the audience was still in heavy hibernation mode. The performers were technically hitting every mark, but everything just felt "off" .

This continued up to the Il Muto scene, when the character of Don Attillo (the foolish, letch-y old husband) came out with his few scant lines of song.  Meh. It was a one-dimensional caricature. It was the character I liked the least. The character that always just made me sick and cringey just watching him.

And he then he hit AND HELD an impossibly deeeeeeeeep bass note for a solid five minutes. 

By deep, I mean the guy was singing Straight. Out. Of. His. Knees. His voice never wavered, not even once. And when the audience, in understandable awe, began to applaud, he waved them off with a slight grin, and easily held that note EVEN longer.  Well, that was all the audience needed, and this throwaway character got a standing ovation right there.  The energy changed.  The audience was wholly invested now and the running bad joke became an instant object of admiration. A hero!  The other players instantly fed off the attitude shift and the rest of the performance was incredible.  It only took one person to just throw himself in with complete abandon.  To just say to himself, "Screw it, I'm going to have fun with this."  And instantly, everyone else was all-in.  To this day, I think of that note and I feel shivery and electrified all at once.

So to my point. Ladies and gentlemen, do not be afraid to jump in with joy.  There are any number of reasons to feel insecure about the writing game.  Maybe you're a newbie and are feeling utterly overwhelmed. Or maybe you're an old hand fighting writer's block.  Maybe you pinned your hopes on writing that elusive best seller, critic's darling and it hasn't happened.  Maybe you're afraid to show anyone what you're capable of, and your best work is still hidden away in a shoebox.  That's a whole lot of maybes, but here is one certainty.

The writing process is soooooo much easier and  vastly more pleasant when you surround yourself with people who build you up.  You'll want to prove yourself to them.  You'll want to see if you can out do yourself.  When you are around people who want to help, but aren't there to judge, it's like having a protective glow around you.  On a personal level, I've always felt that being around a group of people who challenge you and who are excited about the work they are doing is like riding in on a big wave.  Your heart literally feels as though it is being lifted up in your chest, and you feel ready to try anything.  And whether you write as a hobby, or have a more serious intentions, being willing to try anything, in a safe environment is a fabulous way to grow as a writer.    While I have always found Enthusiasm to be one of the most crucial components to the writing process, there are days, when that's a "harder sell" than others. Maybe this article will be useful.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Powering Down

"I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty. I've got whosits and whatits galore.  You want thingamabobs, I've got twenty. But who cares? No big deal. I want more..."  Disney's The Little Mermaid.   *Lyrics used w/out permission.  Not claiming these lyrics as my own. Fair Use.

Pardon me while I shake off the sand out of my gills. 

It is one of the great paradoxes. The more time-saving devices you have, the less time you actually seem to save, and that, ladies and gents, leads me to my Uber-challenge. One of the constant excuses I hear is that writers who want to write can't find time to write.  I say "Bah!" to you.  This is a crock of stinking brown stuff, and you know it.    In order to wean yourselves from your technological crutches, I am challenging all of you to turn off your tech.  Use your phones as phones.  Turn off the TV.  Limit yourself to 20 minutes of daily interweb (at home) time to check emails and visit your essential sites.  Try it for one day.  Then, if you haven't gone into complete withdrawal, try it for the next day and so on. Baby steps, folks, baby steps.

I'm not saying you should write all the time.  Life happens. Your family needs you. Your boss would probably be grouchy if you spent your all of your cubicle time working on that Great American Novel instead of, you know, the job you're getting paid to do.  And I'm the last one to dismiss the necessity of down time. BUT when you do have the time to write, are you writing? No.  You are doing anything else but.  You're playing Words with Friends.  You're watching television.  You putter. You fuss.  You pick this up, you put that down. But you're not writing.  You are stalling.  It is important to remember that procrastination isn't an art. It's a con job.  The more you buy into procrastinating, the less actual writing you'll get done.

But allow me to stretch my mer-metaphor to its limits here.  It's time to get downright primitive, folks, and go back to the fertile seas that gave birth to our fevered brains.  It's a safe bet that all of us spend far too much time wrapped up in other people's stories, and not enough time on our own.  Reading is great. Researching is fabulous.  Yet, if it's quality time with a pen and paper you need, well, golly gee, shut everything off and get to work.  If you can keep making excuses about why you can't write, then face it, writing isn't that important to you. 

There are thousands and thousands of books out there that will tell you all of these mystical secrets for writing, but the true key to writing boils down to three very simple steps that anyone can do.

1) Get your butt in a chair.

2) Write something.

3) NOW!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Great Writers Might Help You Become a Great Writer - Part I

They say that sharks have to keep swimming or they'll die. I feel the same way about the writing process.  I have to keep writing -- it's my air, but I have to get some response.  I have to feel I'm accomplishing something.  I have to feel that there will eventually be a stopping point.

Lord knows, the process of trying to get my work published has gotten to me time and again.  It's so easy to get discouraged when the words aren't coming, or when the rejections won't stop. But it can only take a few well-chosen words and a pair of fresh eyes to pull me back on track.   I've been very lucky in that just when I think I'm kidding myself,  suddenly someone really gets what I'm trying to say and they see the potential in my efforts. Sometimes, they give me a real direction to head in that not only lifts my spirits, but kicks my motivation into high gear.  I owe my writing equilibrium to the people I consider my personal writing gurus.   Instead of buttering me up, they get my attention, and say, "Do this, this, this... and consider changing that."  Hey, I'm all for flattery, but I'd rather have a story that isn't scattering to the winds because I'm a tangent-hopper.  I wish there was a way I could have these folks on permanent speed-dial  in my head, so that I could get their advice anytime I needed it.

This is really one of the greatest things about being a part of the Writing Community. So many successful authors, agents, and editors go out of their way to help struggling rookies accomplish their writing dreams.  Since I've benefited from their advice; I'm paying it forward to anyone else looking for tips and tweaks. From time to time, I'm going to make a point of promoting some of the good people who have been especially helpful to me, and who could be very helpful to you.

Today, I'd like to draw your attention to:

·         1st Five Pages Workshops (monthly)àcheck out the rules here

And to                                                                                                            

·         “I'll be giving away query crits, partial crits, and books. Lots and lots of books. :) And all this will culminate into the awesomest of awesome contests (to celebrate the awesomest of awesome things--the finalization of my book deal)”.  ~ J.A. Souders author of  RENEGADE à check out the rules, here