Making Traditions

Tradition is an interesting way to give a reader grounding into a world that doesn't exist outside the author's head. Well, didn't until the author chose to share it with the reader. You don't even have to fully explain traditions, most of the time. For one thing, certain traditions will resonate with your reader. Others?... Continue Reading →

Everyone Eats

There's a trick to grinding spices in the mortar with a pestle. You don't actually want to use much pressure, at least not with marble, which is what I am using. Just let the weight of the pestle do the work, and rub downward into the bowl. Every so often I tip the mortar a... Continue Reading →

The First Rule of Holes

"Stop Digging!" Which is great if you are a real person, but there are times when you need a character to keep digging. Or when a character is bound and determined to keep digging no matter what you, the mere author, want. So, do you wince and wait to see how bad it's going to... Continue Reading →

Taking the Wrong Turn at Albuquerque

Decisions, decisions. We make them constantly. Most of the time, they are thoughtless decisions. Once in a while, though, you founder on the shoal of a big one, one you know has the power to change your life forever, that can make or break you. It's at these points, as a writer, that you have... Continue Reading →

Pocket Stuff

A few weeks ago I'd written a post about surviving in the woods. This is more about surviving the day-to-day. Like most stories and essays, it grew out of a small kernel of idea... irritation. Not claiming this post is a pearl, mind you! but I had chimed up in a group chat that I... Continue Reading →

Deep Characters

I had the rare privilege, last night, of sitting and chatting over dinner (and after dinner, since the conversation was so pleasant) with friend and fellow author Tom Rogneby. It was the first time we had met in person, but since we've known one another online and talked there about our books, it was a... Continue Reading →

Maslow and Conan

When I started thinking about writing this post I was torn between two topics: Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and Conan the Barbarian not-the-story-but-the-movie. I'm not going to try and analyze the latter based off the former, as tempting as the ridiculousness of that is. I'm not, because I haven't finished the movie. I was watching... Continue Reading →


I drew a piece of art the other day meant to evoke emotions. It’s a pig (inside joke) riding a motorcycle up into the mountains. His labcoat flapping, he’s not got a care in the world, the lab left far behind him... The cartoon lives on the whiteboard outside my boss’s office, and it’s meant... Continue Reading →

Success Breeds Success

It seems like a trite observation, but if you think about it, there’s a lot of truth to it, as there is with so many sayings we dismiss as ‘trite’ or ‘overused’ or ‘cliche.’ Think about it both in terms of storytelling as a writer, and in terms of business as a writer. Remember Dumbo’s... Continue Reading →

Cultivating words

Spring is springing, and my thoughts inevitably turn to gardens. I'm not planning on putting one in this year, instead I have assigned the design and creation of a garden to my daughter as a school project. I'll give her guidance of course. But most of it is going to be up to her.  I'll... Continue Reading →

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