Friday, November 13, 2015

My Christmas Classic

I’ve always loved Christmas. I have happy memories from the Christmases of my youth, and it’s a time when for at least a short while many people seem to be filled with the spirit of joy and love and giving. Wherever you are in your journey, I think those are good values to celebrate. 
Six years ago I wrote a story, The Christmas Gift, that I put into ebook form. It’s a story about a little girl in the Great Depression, and a special doll named Constance that she steals. It’s just a story that came to me one day, and I enjoyed writing it. Back then ebooks were a brand new thing, and not many people knew how to buy one, let alone read it. I didn’t expect much, but I liked the story and I wanted to share it with people. 
It’s the only Christmas story I’ve ever written, and it’s still listed on my Amazon author page, with all my other ebooks in various genres. Each year at this time I am pleasantly surprised to see that people still buy it, and I’m glad that it has become part of some family Christmas celebrations. 
The Christmas Gift is just a simple story that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. It’s also available in printed form here if you don’t have an e-reader. 

It’s a great story to read at this time of year.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Down With The Internal Critic!

I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in English, and sometimes I think they did me more harm than good. Why? Because the one thing I was taught in English Lit class is that great writers agonize over every word. They pull their hair out trying to find the exact right word, the right phrase, and they will revise dozens, even hundreds of times in order to get the words right. There are writers who brag about rewriting parts of their books over and over, and they wear it as a badge of honor, like, “Look how serious I am, I revised my book’s ending 150 times.”
That kind of thinking damaged me for many years. It’s bred the Internal Critic, who sits in his chair with his lips pursed, and as soon as I write a sentence, he says, “No, sorry, that won’t do. Delete it now, before you embarrass yourself, and then start over.”
The Internal Critic has ruined more writers than alcohol, drugs, depression, economic hardship, and all the other obstacles to writing combined. We all have that critic inside us, carping at every sentence we write, telling us we haven’t used the right words, the right spelling, the right grammar, that we haven’t said anything original or clever, that it’s all been said before and why would any reader waste their time reading THIS dreck?
There is a time and place for the critic, but it most certainly is not at the first draft stage. The Internal Critic should be nowhere in site at that stage. In fact, if he shows his prissy face you should tell him to leave immediately or you will do bodily harm to him. When you’re trying to get a first draft of anything written, you should let the words and thoughts spill out as fast as possible, not even caring if any of it makes sense. You should let your fingers fly over the keyboard and just let the words flow. Don’t worry about logic, facts, style, grammar -- don’t worry about anything but getting the words out as fast as possible. 
The time to let the Internal Critic back in the room is when you begin editing your work. However, even then you should keep a tight leash on him. An out of control Internal Critic can make the editing process a nightmare, leading to those horror stories of authors rewriting a single sentence hundreds of times. 
I’m trying to control the Internal Critic, but it’s an ongoing process. He still sneaks back into the room at times when I’m trying to write. However, I’ve made it clear that he’s not wanted, and I’m trying to banish him entirely. 

Down with the Internal Critic!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finally, I'm on the Web

My kids think I’m cool (well, as much as a Dad can be considered cool, anyway) because I’ve had a blog, Twitter, and Google Plus for years, as well as a bunch of other social networking profiles. However, it’s hard to be an early adopter of every new thing in the digital universe and still keep up with my writing projects. 
I confess I’m late to having a Web site, but finally, at long last, I’ve got one. It’s called simply “My Writing”, and I’m very proud of it. I’ve been fiddling around with it for months, and it’s finally in good enough shape to publish. It’s got links to my books, some information about my freelance services, and excerpts from my novels. Well, right now there’s only one excerpt, from Book One of “Rose Of Skibbereen”, but I have plans to upload more. 

I invite you to check it out! My Writing

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Would Hemingway Have To Say About The Kardashians?

Can you imagine Ernest Hemingway with a blog? I was thinking that today, when I realized I hadn't updated this blog in awhile. I grew up in an era when writers weren't expected to post daily updates on what they ate for breakfast, who they saw in the supermarket checkout line, and what they really think about Kim Kardashian's latest outfit, so I forget to keep up with all my online responsibilities. I have accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and of course, this blog, so there's no excuse for me to be so anti-social, right? I should be posting updates every hour, with lots of pictures, video clips, and funny captions, and instead I go weeks -- months, even! -- without posting. 
It's just that I always thought a writer was supposed to be busy creating other worlds, other characters besides Himself. I would rather socialize with the characters from my Rose Of Skibbereen books than spend time creating a John McDonnell character who is Internet ready and appropriately controversial. 
Most writers are not that interesting in person, but in terms of building a following in this social networking age, that's the kiss of death. You have to be interesting at all costs, able to gain legions of followers because of your comments, pictures, and the "events" that you can stage. 
But, like I said, that has never been the way most writers operate. Some of the greatest writers in the world of literature have been the kind of people you'd never even notice at a party. P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote almost a hundred classic books (most of which are still in print 50 years after his death), said many times that he led a boring, uneventful life. He spent his days sitting at a desk, immersed in the radiant world he created, writing down all the adventures of his unforgettable characters, and he went months without doing anything that was worthy of a Tweet or a Facebook post. 
And what about Ernest Hemingway? Oh, he could probably fill up a lot of Facebook with pictures and posts about all his macho adventures -- marlin fishing, big game hunting, boxing, fly fishing -- but you wouldn't see a peep about anything to do with his writing. Hemingway, like a lot of writers, didn't want to spoil the creative mood by posting daily updates about what his characters said or did. He was notoriously close-mouthed about his works in progress, and I doubt he would have posted any of his writing on social media for his fans to read. 
These are just two examples, but the list is endless. Most writers in the past would not have adapted well to social media. I realize there are writers today who embrace it, and good for them. If they can keep up with all the demands of having a public persona and interacting with their fans on social media, while still managing to write beautiful, imaginative literature, well, God bless them. I'm not one of them, it seems, and there's nothing I can do about that. So, I'll just keep writing my stories every day, and once in a while I'll pop my head out of my burrow, blink a few times like a mole who's found his way to the surface, and post an update or two. 

And if Kim Kardashian is still in the news, I'll offer an opinion on her latest outfit. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

48 Really Useful Sites

Have you heard of 48 Really Useful Web Sites? I haven't talked about it much in this blog, but it's an ebook I wrote about some of the most useful free sites on the Internet. Back in the early days of the Internet I wrote an email newsletter called "Really Useful Web Sites", and in it I reviewed free sites I found in my Web surfing, sites that I thought were amazing and worth a visit because of the information they made available. My newsletter had 100,000 subscribers at one point, and people loved it. I closed the newsletter down a while ago, mostly because it was getting harder to find free sites that had valuable information, but I still like to find useful sites in my Web wanderings. So, a year or two ago when I wanted to take a break from my fiction writing I put together 48 Really Useful Web Sites and published it as an ebook. It has my reviews of all these nifty sites, plus links to them so you can go right to the site from your computer, tablet, or ebook reader.
The reason I'm telling you this today is that I'm feeling happy because someone left a glowing review of my book on Smashwords. Here's a quote: 
"Incredible book this one is. It has helped me save a good amount of money and time."

Isn't that great? I'm glad someone found my book useful, and I'm pleased he took the time to post such a positive review.
If you're looking for some Web sites that are definitely worth a visit, check out 48 Really Useful Web Sites!
It's not bad, if I do say so myself!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Here's What I'm Writing

Just a quick update.

I know I haven’t posted here in awhile, but I’ve been keeping busy with my various writing projects nonetheless. Here’s a quick update, to let you know what I’ve been doing. 
  • Fiverr -- I’ve been getting swamped with work on Fiverr, where I am available for brainstorming ideas and writing blog posts. I wake up every morning and find my inbox crowded with jobs from people who need help with things like: slogans for products, plots for novels, marketing input, branding ideas, and blog posts about dozens of subjects. I’m happy to help, and if you read the reviews, my clients are very happy with my work.
  • Fiction -- I’m working up some ideas for a new horror novel that will be out before August, and also the last novel in my “Rose Of Skibbereen” Irish romance series. The “Rose Of Skibbereen” novel will be out by the Fall. I’ll keep you posted about my progress on that. 
  • Playwriting -- I have now submitted my short plays to 16 theaters and festivals, and I’m going to continue submitting till I have 20, 30, 40 or more plays out there. It’s not easy to get a play produced these days, but I believe in my talent, and I am determined to see my theatrical writing performed. I’ll keep you posted about that also!

That’s it for now, but I’ll post more updates as I have news to report.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On Stage Again

If you've been reading my blog in the last year you know that I have developed an interest in theater. I still love writing fiction, and publishing "Rose Of Skibbereen" has been a high point for me, but I have realized that I really get a kick from writing for the stage. I love writing dialogue, just hearing the rhythm of voices and trying to get it right on the page. Then, seeing it translated to a stage with real actors saying the lines -- what a high that is! There's nothing better than working with talented people to bring your vision to life.
So, I want to let you know that one of my ten-minute plays will be featured on April 30 and May 1 at the New Voices Festival, put on by the Bucks County Playhouse. Both evenings feature the same plays, so you can come either night and see some great short plays. Here is the link, if you want to order tickets.
Also, on May 2 I'll be appearing at the Playhouse in "Talk/Story In Love and War: The World of Rodin", a performance based on sculptures of Auguste Rodin which are being featured in a show at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown. I am part of a group that has written the show, and we will be performing our work. You can buy tickets for that performance here.
I don't know where this will all lead, but I do know I enjoy it immensely, and I want to pursue it. I've met some creative, talented people in the last year, and I want to continue working with them. So, come out, if you're in the area! I promise that you'll enjoy the show, no matter which performance you come to.