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.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tall Ships Festival at Dana Point

The annual Tall Ships Festival was held in Dana Point harbor on September 9-11. It's a fun family event, but there is a lot of interesting history that underlies all the festivities.
Dana Point is named after Richard Henry Dana, Jr., author of "Two Years Before The Mast," which was published in 1840 at the time he was admitted to the bar. It's an insightful journal of his seafaring adventures.
In the 1830s, San Juan Capistrano Mission sold cowhides to merchants in Boston. The tall ship, Pilgrim, which is always docked in the harbor, is a replica of the cowhide trading vessel Dana sailed on.
Dana left Harvard to enlist for a two-year stint as a common sailor on the Pilgrim. Supposedly, he thought a change in scenery might help his eyesight which had been affected by measles. Throughout his voyage he kept a diary while traveling from Boston to South America around Cape Horn and to California. He believed Stillwater Bay (now Capistrano Bay) was one of the most beautiful harbors in all of California. I agree with him. Dana Point's beauty and charm have not diminished with the passage of time.
You can find an electronic copy of Dana's book at It's quite an interesting description of life more than a century and a half ago. He did not set out to write an adventure story, but rather to recount the harsh life of sailors and all the wonders he saw along the way. The term before the mast refers to the quarters for common sailors. An interesting fact about Dana is that he became an anti-slavery activist, very likely as a result of his sailing experiences and growing sympathy for the hard-working people with whom he came in contact.
(Incidentally, his book was a best seller in its time and was made into a movie in the late 1940s.)
Here are a few faux pirates that were everywhere at the festival. They were pretty benign, but they did manage to intimidate a few children.
The Tall Ship Festival celebrates the early history of California and Dana Point, but there are many other fascinating stories to tell about Dana Point. Perhaps on another day.

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