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Craft of Writing

I was born in Brooklyn but am currently living on the island of Oahu, part of a group of nine Hawaiian islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, farthest away from any landmass on Earth.  Some days I wake up and wonder how I got transported from one of the fastest-moving cities on the planet to find myself in Lotusland.  Truth to tell, I never did adjust to the slow pace, never developed the uniquely Hawaiian skill of "hangin' loose." As they say, you can take the girl out of New...

An article I wrote for Ohio Outdoor News this summer detailed the industry that, in Ohio, is uniquely Lake Erie: Fish cleaning houses.  They are smelly, wet and when the fishing is good, extremely busy.  The workers are paid piecework, generally -- that is, by the pound.  The more they clean, the faster they clean, the more they get paid.  It is long, hard, dirty work, but can pay well.  While I usually clean my own walleye, I always take my yellow perch (which are tiny compared to walleye)...

“Why become a storyteller?”

I’m tempted toward the snappy reply: “Because I so narrowly made it through, it’s my duty to blaze trail for the others.”  For many years that duty angle, that in-spite-of defense, sustained my craft  safe and separate, until I took my debut novel on the road last summer.  I’d envisioned a safari, my inner Theodore Roosevelt tugging the moustache, hard eye gnawing the monocle, my novel...

Notes from the author: Here is an extension to my NAR published piece, "Village of Adams" in issue 296.4, Fall 2011. A high school dance company experience.

I joined South Jefferson’s dance company in 11th...

My essay “Ice” (NAR Winter 2012) testifies to the old writers' seminar saw “Write what you know.” The essay is about Puget Sound and the ice-age glaciers that formed...

Conrad, my main character in "Equinox", barely existed in the first drafts of this story. He was supposed to be a teenager dealing with his dad going off the deep end, but instead he was somewhat shy, somewhat hesitant, somewhat sad and confused. He was barely a side character. I tried pushing him into an ending–forcing him to blow up on his dad—but that ending didn't make any sense at all. I didn't see Conrad making that decision–and worse, because he was only “sort of” sad and...

In Nicholas Sparks’s A Walk to Remember, a virginal Jamie Sullivan has only a few years left to live. After much cantanker and conflicting interest, bad boy Landon falls in love with her, and she—after a time—reciprocates. Over the remainder of the narrative, the purity and power of her love calls forth his ambition and retunes his moral compass. The role of ambition in their love is...

I don't like to drive so I was surprised to find, sometime in my 30s, that I enjoy writing there; I park with a view of water or crooked trees, keep a backpack in the passenger seat with my favorite notebooks and pens. In winter, I bring a sleeping bag, sometimes even a pillow so I can dream.

In my car, I don't worry about what I haven't done; I don't think about unpaid bills or unwashed dishes; I don't accidentally answer the phone or find that a neighbor has stopped by to discuss a...

I’ve been sending out a lot lately—submitting my work like wet spaghetti flung hot onto a wall—seeing what sticks. Recently, I learned I was a contest finalist—whoot. First prize was publication in a top-notch lit. mag, one thousand dollah-make-you-hollah and the opportunity to read at a conference. Did the website detail 2nd- and 3rd-place prizes? Yes. Did I read them? No. I figured (wrongly) that if they were giving $1000 for the 1st place then, like every other contest I’d ever read about...

zombiesMy students are bored with this world. They ask to write of zombies, vampires, and elves.  Perhaps they are bored with my world because they haven’t climbed trees and played in dirt, roamed the wild  meadows, experimented with machinery,...

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