I squeezed four years of high school into five.
My mother died less than a month after I entered ninth grade. Soon after, my father and I moved, and I began attending a new high school–but only occasionally.
To say I had trouble focusing on school would be like saying the Cyclops had trouble crossing his eye. I began to skip so frequently that my freshman biology teacher branded me with the nickname AWOL. Mr. Phillips would call my name in class and, when I didn’t answer, he’d say, “AWOL again.”
In my first two-and-a-half years of high school, I flunked all but one class (English Literature, interestingly). I refined truancy to an art form. …
There is what many call a “normal hard drive clicking noise” but sometimes if it sounds serious, most people just get confused about what to do next. The first thing you have to do is make sure that the noise is actually coming from the hard drive. Sometimes people can panic when it is not even the hard drive that is clicking.
You can open up the computer and tighten a few things inside. After that, power on your PC and listen for any clicking noise. In most cases, it will be gone after tightening a few loose screws. However, if it is actually your drive clicking then it is time to move on to …
I like to think, even though I turned 40 this year, that my best writing years are still ahead of me.
But I have to admit that, so far, my very best writing years were–gulp!–more than a decade ago, when I was a roving columnist for the newspaper in Dubuque, Iowa.
Sometimes you flip through your old clips and wince, thinking, “How could I ever have written so awkwardly?” or “Why didn’t the editor save me from myself?” But when I nostalgically leaf through the yellowing clippings of the stories I wrote during those three years in Dubuque, I smile. Okay, it s a wistful smile (the clippings are yellowing and I am 40, …
In the deep shade, at the farther end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, whether beast or human being, one could not at first sight tell; it groveled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled like some strange wild animal; but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head and facet
In 1847, Jane Eyre’s description of the madwoman in Rochester’s attic was consistent with the popular conception of mental illness. Since then, the treatment and perceptions of mental illness have changed dramatically, posing challenges to writers of both nonfiction and fiction.
Language. One out of every …
I wasn’t thinking about poetry when I wrote this about courage in my journalism text Living Ethics:
As any war veteran will tell you, fear is a natural or logical response when you confront a potentially significant or catastrophic threat. In fact, fear lends meaning and substance to the words courage and bravery because a courageous and brave act suggests that a person did not succumb to fear when the stakes or consequences warranted.
But courage is part of poetry’s creative process, too.
Just as beginning poets overcome fear of writing or rejection, they quickly encounter new terrors. They realize they must share some significant lesson or truth with readers. They must face and make …
Two years ago, the floodwaters that ravaged homes and businesses throughout the Midwest also left their mark on many of us in supposedly safe bedroom communities. Our losses were so minimal in comparison to those close to the river that, even now, complaining feels shallow.
Still, loss is relative. And what I lost in three feet of muddied, basement floodwater felt devastating: Our children’s baby books, my wedding album, my college yearbooks, such irreplaceable Christmas ornaments as the cookie-dough replicas of our sons’ miniature handprints.
But it was when I opened the bottom drawers of two metal file cabinets that real despair set in. Where once lay 15 years’ worth of magazine and newspaper …
When I edited a small regional magazine, I once asked a writer who had contributed articles to numerous national slicks if she would be interested in writing for me. I stammered out a figure that nearly choked in my throat because it was so low – $250 for a 2,000-word article. “Is that okay?” I asked.
Picking up on my discomfort, the writer replied: “That’s fine. Frankly, I’m more interested in getting good clips than in payment.”
Can you guess the first thought that flickered in my mind?
a) Delight that I secured the services of a first-rate writer.
b) Relief that she accepted the rate of pay so easily.
c) Excitement over a story …
The time has never been better, for writing a mystery novel – particularly a mystery series.
Mysteries are among the hottest commodities in today’s book publishing marketplace, and the doors are open to the first-time novelist.
I’m prime example. After years of writing articles and nonfiction TV scripts, recently I sold my first novel – and you’ll find it on the mystery shelf. Simple Justice hit bookstores last summer, launching the Benjamin Justice mystery series.
Benjamin Justice isn’t just another Sam Spade clone, however. The contemporary mystery market has changed, and the stereotypical hard-boiled male private eye is passe with many readers. In fact, mystery novels featuring female sleuths outsell those with male protagonists. And …