News & Views

Writers still need to read

I’ve been a little distracted lately—no blog post. But with good reason. My journey back into “Beach Music” by Pat Conroy slowed my writing down but I have been mesmerized with his scenic descriptions. How can you not put work aside to spend time with a man who describes his trip back into Charleston, SC thusly?

            “I breathed in the low country air as each mile took us further away from the industrial effluents that distilled in the bright sunshine of Savannah….I shall always remain a prisoner of war to this fragrant, voluptuous latitude of the planet, fringed with palms and green marshes running beside rivers for thirty miles at a time, and emptying out on low-lying archipelagoes running north and south along the coast before the Atlantic’s grand appearance.”

            “It was dark now and I looked out toward the river and the starry sky rinsed with the tin enamel light of a flickered, early moon.”

            And that’s to say nothing of the intriguing story line, and a bevy of wonderful characters, teasing you to follow the new mystery twist that seems to crop up in every other chapter.

            Of course, there is also the distraction of Hoda and Jenna’s guest informing me that I have been putting the table knives in the dishwasher the wrong way—blades up. They should be face down, spoons are up, dummy. Oh Crap!

            The dishwasher tip is just a “Lucky Strike Extra” (if that means anything to you—I know how old you are.) But really—you need to read Beach Music!

My Two Favorite Weekend Women: Katie and Jane

I thank all those who sent birthday wishes. Much appreciated and I look forward to thanking you again in the future.

            It is such a pleasure to get Jane Friedman’s E-mail every Sunday morning. It arrives, like clockwork, before eight o’clock. It is her Weekly Blog Digest, and with rare exceptions, I find an inspiring post or a meaningful craft article just a click away. Last week, for example, she posted a guest blog by Andrew Noakes, “6 Principles for Writing Historical Fiction.” Perfect timing and right up my alley as I dig into my Panama Canal piece. Her book “Publishing 101” has been on my shelf since I took the blind leap into this writing business. If you’re thinking of publishing, traditional or self, I recommend you read this first. It can save you a lot of headaches and get you on the right path. Her website is

            Close on the heels of Jane’s Sunday e-mail comes K.M. Weiland’s website post, “Helping Writers Become Authors.” I love it because it does just that! She invites everyone to call her Katie, and her pretty smile and the welcoming conversational tone of her posting makes that seem natural. Katie is the acclaimed author of writing-craft books, “Outlining Your Novel”, “Structuring Your Novel,” and “Creating Character Arcs.” The Outlining and Structuring books were big helps in my early learning, and I often refer to them today. A unique feature of her site is a structural database of well-known books, movies, and TV shows that identifies the Freytag structural points in hundreds of familiar stories including: Moby Dick; The Bell Jar; Gone With the Wind; and White Fang. Movies analyzed include: Star Wars, The Last Jedi; Splash; and The Queen. It sure helped me seeing Freytag’s structure explained in the context familiar work. Katie’s website is

I depend on them both to help me improve my writing, and stay involved . The are a welcome source of inspiration. You could do well meeting with both of these ladies often.