How Important is Setting?

How Important is Setting?

Today, my wife and I took our daughter to see Peter and the Wolf in Hollywood. “Wait,” you may be thinking. “Since when is Hollywood the setting for Peter and the Wolf?” That’s the point. It’s usually not. But for this performance, it was, and it worked. There were a few changes, but anyone familiar with the story would still recognize it, and the narration and music accompaniment were very good. That got me thinking about setting. For some books, it’s vital….

Read More Read More

Book Review: Smart Baseball by Keith Law

Book Review: Smart Baseball by Keith Law

Smart Baseball, by ESPN senior writer Keith Law, is a comprehensive and entertaining look at the world of baseball statistics, both the better new ones and some older ones that have lost relevance. Yes, I’m something of a baseball nerd. Over the years, football has become my favorite sport to sit and watch on TV, but baseball is still my favorite sport to follow. A large reason for that is the game’s statistical history and depth. I collected baseball cards…

Read More Read More

Pro Bono is Now on Amazon!

Pro Bono is Now on Amazon!

A couple weeks ago, I started circulating a set of three short stories to introduce prospective readers to C.T. Ferguson, my private investigator protagonist. Two days ago, I put it up on Amazon. It’s in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s free if you have that. Here’s the cover (it looks better in higher resolution, I promise): The Amazon US link is right here. I had been giving away Pro Bono to anyone who signed up for my mailing list. Now, with the…

Read More Read More

Free Short Stories!

Free Short Stories!

Years ago, Guns n’ Roses said, “I put the pen to the paper ’cause it’s all a part of me.” We’ve moved on from pen and paper in the intervening years, but I did the 21st-Century equivalent and put electronic words onto a screen. I kept up the modernity and assembled those words into a short story set. It contains three short stories, designed to introduce you to the world of unconventional private investigator C.T. Ferguson. Here’s a look at the…

Read More Read More

Challenging Yourself: Writing Groups

Challenging Yourself: Writing Groups

Like many writers, I’m in a writing group (sometimes called a critique group). I checked out a couple of writing groups before joining my current one. The first group I tried to join didn’t want to take on another genre writer. This is what I’ve wondered for a while, as a general query: is it bad for a writing group to favor genre authors, as opposed to those who just write mainstream (or literary) fiction? Obviously, some groups will devote themselves…

Read More Read More

The Fumblerules of Grammar

The Fumblerules of Grammar

Years ago, the late New York Times columnist William Safire compiled “The Fumblerules of Grammar.” I got reminded of one of them today. If you’ve never seen them, they are hilarious and tremendous. If you’ve seen them before, enjoy another chuckle. 1. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read. 2. Don’t use no double negatives. 3. Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn’t. 4. Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper…

Read More Read More

Spring Cleaning Your Stories

Spring Cleaning Your Stories

I took a couple days off to enjoy spring break with my family (my wife is a teacher and our daughter is off for the week). Like a lot of people, we used some of the time to do some spring cleaning–or, in our case, some spring clearing-out. We have too much stuff and some of it has just got to go. Early spring is a time many people use to get rid of old or unused things. What do…

Read More Read More

The Outline of Your Pants

The Outline of Your Pants

Are you an outliner or a “pantser?” That’s not a question about pants-wearing preferences. (After all, who doesn’t love going without pants?) It’s a question about preparing to write something. For years, I was a pantser. That is, I wrote by the seat of my pants. Each day I sat at the keyboard, I had an idea in mind, and I wrote to it. I also had an overall idea for where the story was going, so I moved things…

Read More Read More

The Born Identity

The Born Identity

I’ve seen all of the Bourne movies. Within the original trilogy, I think each one is a little bit better than the one before it. Throughout the course of the movies (including the recent Jason Bourne), Bourne learns more about himself and his mysterious past. Let’s talk about identity for a moment. I think Jason Bourne, as a character, is more compelling when he doesn’t know much about himself. Odd? Maybe. As writers, we’re supposed to know ourselves and our characters….

Read More Read More

Review: Marvel’s Iron Fist

Review: Marvel’s Iron Fist

Marvel’s Iron Fist (hereafter Iron Fist) is the fourth of the Marvel Netflix series (joining Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage). It’s also the last one to be released before our heroes join together in The Defenders. And as a lead-in to The Defenders, it’s . . . fair. This show has not been reviewed well. Some of the complaints levied in those reviews are legitimate. The two that ring truest are the pacing and the quality of the fight scenes….

Read More Read More