Freelance Portfolio: Writing
Hope this doesn’t read simply as a “woe is me” essay, when the woes of the world now have been legion. Thoughts on whether it’s been worth it pursuing writing for a living (and only catching its tail—or tale—now and then). Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in May 2021.
Ahh, 2020, a vintage year … of anxiety and wretchedness. Writers were not spared. But there are some methods to take some of the pain away, and even brighten your day. Try some! Published in December 2020 on the excellent Make a Living Writing site.
The odd and even tender connections between a dead neighbor, a first-edition Mark Twain short story and a Zen meditation class 40 years ago. Published by An Idea on Medium, November 2020.
Memoirs can take many turns—mine turns towards crime. Specifically, the years I spent as a high-school shoplifter, taking orders and selling the goods. Scandal! Here I go through the mechanics of writing memoirs, best practices and the galling lack of shame I had as a teenage hooligan. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in September 2020.
Wait, am I writing pornography now? You’ll never know, but this particular article is how you can now find all manner of profanity on such once-innocent items like socks and oven mitts. I interview product manufacturers, PR people and a marketing psychologist. WTF? Published in May 2020 on Vox.
How the artful use of character quirks and eccentricities can pull readers into a fictional work, and have them anticipating and hungering for more. Looking at this as a tactic to drive reader interest, not as an overarching story-arc strategy. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in August 2019.
Why (and how) you should continue pitching article ideas that enthuse you, even if they’ve been rejected, even more than a couple of times. Published in July 2019 in The Writer magazine.
Editors, schmeditors, eh? Not quite. You might be OK with getting a one-off publication in print or online, and abandon that publication’s editor forever, but your writing and your relationships (and wallet) are better served by getting to know your editor, and them getting to know you. Published in February 2019 on Funds for Writers, Hope Clark’s great info resource for both fiction and nonfiction writers.
Spent a couple of days on a media trip to the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in San Francisco. Lots of good stuff, from polished, informed and jolly marketers. Informative workshops, stirring keynotes, friendly atmosphere—and cocktails. Published in November 2018 on LinkedIn.
A story that haunted me for 40 years turned out not to be the real story. How you can mine your past for fictional prompts—and be surprised by what you find. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in November 2016.
An interview with Tom Gerace, the CEO of Skyword, which helps brands connect with creatives, on the company’s deep push into the power of storytelling, and his work with legendary author and teacher Robert McKee. Published in May 2017 in the Content Standard, Skyword’s marketing industry newsletter.
Companies can feel creative constraints when they stretch to open their storytelling wings. This piece gleans the best storytelling advice from master tale-tellers, The Moth. Published in May 2017 in the Content Standard, Skyword’s marketing industry newsletter.
Looking at how to travel as a writer without emptying your wallet (and perhaps even fattening it a bit). Using house-sitting gigs, press trips and weekend jaunts to freshen your writing eyes and put some roving inspiration on the (published) page. Published in Writer’s Market 2017 in October 2016.
What pulls readers into the page? Often, it’s the vulnerability of the characters, felt though the reader’s own. This piece tries to piece together how that works and what it means for writers. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in September 2016.
The methods and the madness by which (over the last two years) I worked with another writer in collaborating on a novel. (And now on to the editing!) Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in July 2016.
Having a trusted working relationship with a publication’s editor is a sharp boon to a writer. But what happens to your writing prospects when that editor leaves? Published in July 2016 issue on The WriteLife.
A stroll through the remarkable number of writers—and how their writing was shaped by their environment—who frequented (or called home) the Monterey area since the Carmel Artist Colony days just following the great San Francisco quake. [Note: you can see the unfinished captions; the final print version will be up soon.] Published in the Summer/Fall 2016 issue of Carmel Magazine.
Such a sordid, dark tale! But isn’t that the essence of high school? My story of betrayal and ambush, morphing into a writing lesson on backstory. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in May 2016.
A road trip with Mark Twain and Hunter Thompson, in search of (duh) The American Dream. Published in January 2016 in Catamaran, a literary arts magazine.
Shame, guilt and other delights you can visit upon your characters to deepen their behaviors, motivations and inner grindings. And of course, just to annoy them, because you can. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in November 2015.
What a fickle thing is man. Or some such rot. Anyway, I’m trying to write two novels at once (or trying to avoid writing them). Watch me squirm. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in September 2015.
The Heartfelt, Unpublishable, Captivating, Shallow, Sound, Abandoned, Reclaimed, Worthless, Most Excellent Potential Novel
Damn, I better not write too much more after that title. Anyway, I’ve struggled with my second novel for oh, eight years. Hear my screams. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in July 2015.
How writing short, front-of-book (FOB) pieces for magazines is good income in itself, and positions you to write longer and more lucrative pieces later. Published in July 2015 on the excellent Make a Living Writing site.
How can you draw upon those specific sensibilities—your love of language, writing influences, personality quirks, where you part your hair—and conjure your unique writing voice. Published in June 2015 on Writer’s Digest.
Some peculiar perceptual abilities of writers give them an advantage in going from perception to page—and those abilities can be improved. Published in June 2015 on Medium.
How the cosmos showers you with writing inspirations, if you just move your mind via your body. (And wear your helmet, in case of heavy cosmos showers.) Published in June 2015 on Writing World.
When your inner writerly self tells you you’re a horse’s ass, just put on a saddle and ride. Published in June 2015 on Medium.
You always wanted to know how editing is like mashed potatoes, didn’t you? You’ll find out here, along with buttery explanations of developmental editing, copyediting and proofreading. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in January 2015.
Oh dear, this Catholic confession thing might go too far: Me using my minor-league high school criminality and major-league awkwardness to illustrate using high school “types” to catalyze fiction writing. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in November 2014.
Find your sources for character mishap and affliction in the pages of my own life: How to use deep, layered emotions in your fiction to touch your readers. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in September 2014.
Turning the deadly sins of presumption and prejudice into advantages in your writing and storytelling. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in July 2014.
A look at how to apply a soothing salve to the nagging sore of writing anxiety. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in May 2014.
You meet the nicest people hitchhiking. Except for the ones with guns, or the ones on acid, or the ones driving a stolen truck at insane speeds over the mountains. Hey, I still have my thumbs. Published in April 2014 on Medium.
A frolicsome look at the sum of a writer’s parts, head to toe. Published by the fine folks at WriterUnboxed in March 2014.
The trials (and thin results) of promoting your book without appearing to be a self-obsessed asshat sleaze ball, housed at the wonderfully writerly home of WriterUnboxed as of February, 2014.
Perhaps you aren’t acquainted with Johnny Cash’s fictional efforts. Me neither, but he makes for a great example of gathering stories, and putting them together, as odd and unrelated as the elements might seem. Published in August 2013 on Writer Unboxed.
You probably thought writers used fervid affirmations to propel themselves to pile words on the page. Nope. Tequila and cookies, baby, tequila and cookies. Published in June 2013 on Writer Unboxed.
You probably had no idea of the personality quirks and fervid emotional states of punctuation marks. I bare all to the world here (and you could lose an eye wielding that exclamation point, so be careful!). Published in May 2013 on Writer Unboxed.
My Men With Pens post on what brought me, as a goggle-eyed adolescent, to look at writing as a form of deep expression and exploration. (Yeah, heavy dude, I know.) Published in November 2012 on the Men With Pens site.
A fun contest of the Gotham Writer’s Workshop, requesting a 50-word monologue on suburban life in the 60s. Just for being one of the five finalists, I won two tickets to the Broadway revival of Who’s Afraid of Virgninia Woolf. Published in November 2012 on the Gotham Writer’s Workshop site.
Me waxing poetic (but short, mind you) on how short story collections are the weird sister of the publishing world. Published in May, 2012 on the Guide to Literary Agents blog.
A bit of beguiling business on how you can face the terrors of the blank page by seeding it beforehand with a few budding or ripening “word seeds.” Published in March 2012 in Upmarket magazine.
Honorary Mention in the “100 Words or Fewer Writing Contest.” A little story biscuit about the master’s writing habits. It’s good fun to try to write within such constraints as a 100-word shoebox. You’ll have to search for my name among all those snooty winners. Published March, 2012
That Tolstoy guy wasn’t so hot—see how I reject that puff piece, War and Peace, in this Writer’s Digest article. Published in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest.
Galileo and Leonardo discuss the merits and demerits of a copywriter focusing on a single niche versus writing for a spectrum of clients and across genres. Leonardo wins. Published in the Sunday, November 27 edition of Bob Poole’s Daily Doughnuts.
How to plan out—and accomplish—a personal writer’s retreat. The mindset, the means and an incomparable atmosphere. Published in the new 2012 edition of Guide to Literary Agents.
A series of editing tips (with bloody examples of my own editing fiascos) on this popular business writing blog. Published in May 2011 on Men With Pens magazine.
A chance for me to trumpet my broad knowledge of writing in a dictatorial fashion, on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. (Well, really just me taking a shot at how to get some writing done, amidst all those publishing parties and Oprah invitations.) Published in April 2010.
New York has been the hub of the publishing world for a long time, but in Internet days, much about closing a publishing deal has changed. Or has it? Published on the Guide to Literary Agents blog, December 2008.
A first-person essay about writing first-person essays, published in Personal Writing, a special edition of Writer’s Digest magazine, April 2005. Reprinted in the newsstand Writer’s Digest, August 2005.
A light look at the source of article ideas, published online at AbsoluteWrite, 2003.
My own methods for extracting words from brain to page. Published online at WriteThinking, 2002.
A paean to the dictionary, published in the Summer 2002 issue of Verbatim, The Language Quarterly.
A light piece on writer’s procrastination, published online at AbsoluteWrite, June 2002.