Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Childhood Vignette

Recently, I discovered a watercolor in the bottom of my dresser drawer that I painted back in the 50s (1950s, not 1850s) when I was seven years old. It's interesting to look at your life through the prism of a childhood watercolor.

Back then, my parents rented an old, clap board farm house in the country near Arrowsmith, Illinois. The house had electricity, but no hot or cold running water or central heat. Heat was an old coal-burning stove in the kitchen that blew up the first winter we moved in. That first winter we (my parents, brother and I) lived in the kitchen to stay warm. The kitchen had a faux braided rug made of linoleum on the kitchen floor. Whenever the wind blew, it would blow under the front door and lift up the linoleum. My mother finally got the hang of stuffing rags around the bottom of the door.

There was no bathroom. We made do with a stinky out house and an old clawfoot bathtub that sat in the enclosed back porch. (I don't remember how they even drained the damn thing.) We had to heat the water for baths, of course. Most baths for us children were conducted in a square metal tub that was set in the middle of the kitchen on Saturday nights.

The kitchen was the main room in the house. In one corner was a curtained area that had a sink, a water pump, and a small cabinet for dishes. In the opposite corner was the infamous coal stove that kept us alive in the winter when it wasn't trying to blow us up. A table and chairs, refrigerator, stove, a TV (the kind with the snowy black and white screen), and a day bed filled up the rest of the large farm kitchen. It was there that I created this drawing on the kitchen table.

I was obsessed with drawing and painting. One day my father, who dealt in antiques at that time, brought home an old secretary desk. Inside was an art book on nude drawing that became my treasured possession. (My youngest daughter now has this book and if she every loses it, I'll strangle her.) I studied every page. At that time, not only was I obsessed with drawing, but I was obsessed with the Virgin Mary. The poor woman had to first be drawn in the nude so the drawing could be anatomically correct before I dressed her. I was so obsessed with drawing, that my first grade teacher, Miss Louis, always allowed me to draw on the blackboard during lunch hour. She thought I was going to be a great artist. Ha!

As you can see from this drawing, my life at that time was dominated by the outdoors and hunting. My father raised Weimeraners and German Shorthaired Pointers. In the fall, he and his friends went pheasant hunting in the stubbly corn fields. It was a religion with him--the only one he ever believed in. My first lessons in life were about the earth, animals, and, yes, staying alive.


  1. I hope you framed this, it has such a great story behind it!

  2. Great story! Don't worry, I still have the book!