Sunday, June 13, 2021

When You Wish Upon a Star….

…Or, five. Every scribe pines for those 5-Star reviews, right? But, should we?

Flashback to summer 2014: was already grateful to pen a piece for the terrific KM Weiland, but doubly so when top journalist and Fellow at the National Critics Institute, Porter Anderson, weighed in.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Send Me a Postcard, Drop Me a Line...

 For some reason, the lyrics to that Beatles classic get me thinking about how to write good Young Adult literature.

Not just the mention of postcards and lines, or points of view, but the central refrain itself: Will you still need me, will you still feed me, When I'm 64?

Philip Pullman said, After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world. 

Hear hear. I think equating stories--whether reading or writing them--resonates with many. It does with me. And so, will you still need me, will you still feed me, resonates too. The David Rose Series is Young Adult Fantasy, and I must here proffer a confession: YA has never been my natural writing voice. The series was inspired by my children and represents a promise I made to them long ago, but finding that balance required of good YA(in my opinion), can be quote elusive, and I profoundly admire those who have mastered it. I say it's a balance because good YA, I believe, should appeal to young and older readers alike. Middle, tweens, teens, young adult, adult. I mean, why limit your audience? There is no shortage of adults who love great YA literature. One must not deviate too drastically, I rather think, from tried and true YA tropes and techniques, but I have admittedly in the D Rose series pushed the literary envelope a bit and "written up," as it were. Not too much, I hope, and I am grateful to have received good feedback from young readers, in whom I retain great faith. You don't want them running endlessly to the(actual or online) dictionary, but is it so bad if they make a few trips, here and there? I still do, and am typically delighted to do so. My hope is--and our dear readers, as ever, shall be the ultimate arbiters--that the magic and adventure and darkness and light and story which imbue the series, will make it a fun read, and that the literary overlay will challenge and engage and offer something different from typical YA.

In any case, I hope young and older readers alike will enjoy the series. And that readers will need me, and I may still nourish them, as Pullman might say, when they're 64. 

Here's a look back at a piece I penned for the legendary Katie Weiland a few years ago, about what makes great YA. I hope you enjoy, and as always, thank you for your support.

Write On!

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Write Stuff....

 Never, urged George Orwell, use a long word, where a short word will do. Sage wisdom? Was he right? I think in many instances, yes. But not all. (And see, I just broke a writing “rule” by starting a sentence with a conjunction. And there again. Oops, and again. This can prove vexing.)

I was grateful a few years back to tackle this topic for the terrific ProBlogger website. (I specified blogging in the title of the piece, given the publication/audience, but it’s applicable to most writing.) Grateful also for the permission to use the great Hemingway/Faulkner rendering from the talented RE Parrish. 

At any rate, I still sometimes get tripped up when writing, wondering if something I just penned is indeed, well, “right.” And who, or what, decides? I enjoyed exploring these considerations in this piece; I hope you enjoy it too. 

Tell me what you think: are you devoted to writing’s “rules?” Which ones? Or do you throw literary caution to the wind, and focus more on the “write,” rather than “right,” stuff?

Thanks as always for your feedback and support!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Where Do Stories Come From, Daddy?....

I don't know if my children ever asked me this, in terms of where I got the idea for the David Rose series, but I think they are pretty aware of its genesis and chief inspiration. Has a lot to do with them, after all. I conceived the basic plot 15 years ago--goodness, that's a long time now--and it piddled along in fits and starts and really meandered until I found the heartbeat of the tale, that lifeblood without which, for all the magic and fantasy and hopefully good writing, it would continue to languish.

I am about 80% finished with Book II--WAY overdue, I know, and I still get asked sometimes, about where the idea for the series came from. Here's a quick revisit to a guest-post --titled Heartbeats and Dragon Curves: The Birth of a Story--I was privileged to pen for amazing author and friend, Amira K. Makansi, whose fantastic work, Literary Libations is a big hit, and who has a great novel soon in the offing. Grateful to Amira for letting me visit her wonderful site, and this piece offers a brief window into the ideas/inspiration which built the world of David Rose.

(Image from Amira K. Makansi's website, the Z-Axis, Featured image by Tim Rebkavets on Unsplash.)

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Stranger Than Fiction?

You know the adage. And in this last year or so, it seems particularly sage. In any case, even though I primarily write fiction--nearing the completion of David Rose and the Forbidden Tournament--I tend to read--and enjoy--nonfiction even more, and it continues to make me a better fiction scribe. Just finished Killers of the Flower Moon, a terrific read. I remain a devoted Erik Larson fan. Abbot Kahler is tremendous.

Here's a quick revisit to a guest post I wrote for the wonderful CS Lakin some years back, on how great nonfiction can help you craft better fiction. 

What are some of your fave nonfiction reads?

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

What A Long, Strange Road It’s Been...

 Been a while since I’ve written here, but thought I’d drop in. I hope everyone’s doing well. What a tough year for the world. 

I hope within the next 3 to 6 months to have Book II in the David Rose series out, as well as my literary suspense manuscript, Gospel. 

Here’s a little dialogue that speaks to the heart of the protagonist and his struggle.


“You don’t have to be,” said Rose. “And you don’t have to move on. Your devotion is perhaps the thing which endears me to you most. You don’t have to move on. Maybe you can’t. Maybe you can give your heart to no other and if that part of your life is therefore over and you heart beats out in vigil for the rest of your days then so be it, embrace it. Who am I to say?” And here she pulled him closer still, so that their faces nearly touched. “Perhaps you can’t move on, but you must go on, and in your heart I think you know this to be true. You go on because you have a son and you must give him all that you can—you and Anabel both. And you must show him that even when things like this happen, life goes on, not without pain but in spite of it, not easily but nevertheless, and you must model courage and resolve and gratitude for all those things for which you remain so abundantly blessed. Gratitude that while your heart may be broken, there are in fact worse fates. You must get up every day and meet that day. Don’t begrudge yourself your pain for it is real and runs deep and may do so for the rest of your days, but please—please, Jacob—do not permit it to paralyze you. You have a choice in that, not everyone does. It may not be the way you dreamed it, the way you imagined, but you have chapters left to write.”

It occurred to him there in the darkness upon that windblown summit, that sometimes the most proper response is none whatsoever.  He regarded her and hoped his eyes conveyed the gratitude he felt and they were silent a good while until at length Jacob said, “But I wish there was something more I could give you.”

“You can.”

He’d penned enough words through the years to know life’sgreatest meaning lived in the spaces between them. And there was little doubt of the meaning here.

Friday, May 1, 2020


Taking a little break from D Rose 2 and polishing my literary-suspense manuscript a bit. Renamed it some time ago, to Gospel, as it a story about, more than anything, those truths which abide most indelibly within us. The protagonist has been compelled into an insidious, Faustian pact and dark odyssey, but his thoughts and his heart remain tethered inexorably to the love of his life, who has left him. The journey which matters most to him is the one which leads back to her. When it becomes apparent she has not only moved out, but moved on, he must find a way to do likewise, while confronting the reality that some truths, never truly die.

He thought of her. There, on the face of the mountain, with the wind howling down the rutted slope, cold and lupine and setting his teeth to clatter, but then, he always thought of her. Even when not top of mind, it was always right there, just beneath. In good times or bad. A truth, the truth of her. Inscribed upon his heart like chiseled stone. Like stone, his heart had grown calcified and remote, but when they’d met she’d found it and pierced it, lightening quick and petal soft and he’d understood in that moment that to her would it forever be ordained. Come what may. And what had come was this—here, now—the desolation of this inhospitable peak no match for that which now occupied the whole of his heart. He’d understood from the moment he loved her, the countervailing truths of the road ahead: to be loved by her was heaven; to be forsaken would be hell. But to know her was to love her and to love her was a covenant from which there was no recusal. No matter time or distance or the carousel of seasons which had these last years without her sojourned past, his own locus remained fixed. Less a destination than a bearing, for his road, he knew, would not lead to her, nor lead anywhere at all. But his road it was, as real in its solitude as anything else which remained. And so the seasons galloped past; painted ponies on the move, for life marches on, no seasons to be denied, but he could only look on, a man lost in time, a season unto himself, and only the one, and it was something colder than winter—a hinterland never again to be found by another, could never, and from which he would never again return. He’d seen it before, this place, the last time he’d held her to him. He’d held her and felt her love but so too her fear, and he’d seen straight through in that moment years forward to this, when fear prevailed, and he had failed, and it did not matter whether he regretted it all or not, for once he’d loved her there was only that truth. To pretend or proceed otherwise was pure folly; like telling the river to cease running, or the mountain no longer to stand. Some things just were.

It wasn’t the emptiness which scared him. He’d grown long-since accustomed to this charade that was life, this great pantomime of the daily requirements of a given day. He felt at times that someone must surely see it, that glaring void within him, and he could swear now and then folks saw it and looked away, trying not to stare at this freakish character, this circus act, this hollow man who was but a careful construction of walls around that void. It wasn’t the emptiness but that which might fill it. Cold, irredeemable things which like the whistling wind of this mountain would infiltrate his soul, finding refuge in the wasteland of his wayward heart.

He missed her. He wished he could share all this with her. Not that it was flattering, but that was just it: she had loved him for all that he was—those estimable virtues and those countless assailable ones. He knew she was gone but it was to her that his heart still turned, and though it hurt, it didn’t even matter that she wasn’t returning—for his heart turned to her, he longed to share with her, he loved her—not contingent upon possessing her, or even her feelings, or lack thereof, for him. He loved her because she was the most lovable person in the world, because she was that flower imprinted upon his stone heart, and he smiled bitterly now through the tears because what he’d known from the moment he’d loved her, and most assuredly from the moment he’d lost her, had been borne out every moment of every day since. All previous loves had faded away for him, every time; he’d steel himself, seal away his heart, mourn for a spell and then, done. No lamentations, no pain. Until her. Until she’d shattered the stone with only a smile, and imprinted herself eternally with a single kiss. He loved her more with each passing day. Had, from the very first moment; would, until his very last breath.

The wind was howling but he staggered to his feet. He had to go on. He thought of Emerson, who’d had a way of saying things. All that concerns me, is what I must do. He might never be happy, not in the way he’d once dreamed; not in the way he’d been with her. But what of it? The purpose of life, said Emerson, is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate. He would try. He must. Anything less constituted a shameful ingratitude. A vanity mired in self-pity, when a miracle lived before his very eyes, the miracle of her. He should not curse the fates that she no longer loved him, but rather thank the heavens that she ever had. To have lost the love of his life bore testament to having found it, and that was more than many could ever say.

He loved her. And for this, he owed her everything, for even in her absence, she remained forever close at heart. At his weakest, he thought he couldn’t be happy without her, but with each passing day, with every step along his road, he was learning. It wasn’t about his happiness, but hers. No matter the source. He dropped to one knee, there on the mountain face, the wind all around him but his own voice clarion at last: Let her be happy, I implore you. May her world be love and light for she is all of these things herself. Love her, please, and let the world love her too. As I will, with every breath and every step, for the rest of my days.

He staggered back to his feet, for the path was steep and he was weary, and cinched his coat up around his neck, and continued on.