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, May 29, 2014

Movie Review: Belle

There have been several movies about the experiences of blacks in terms of slavery and civil rights—Gone With the Wind, Roots, Mississippi Burning, and, more recently, Twelve Years a Slave, The Help, and The Butler. Most films tend to deal with the in-your-face brutality and injustice of racism. Overt racism has tended in recent years to be replaced by more subtle forms. In life and in film, transcending these subtle forms of racism can be just as challenging as overt racism.

Belle is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, born in 1761 to Admiral Sir John Lindsay and an African slave named Maria Belle. After the death of her mother, Belle is sent to live with Lindsay’s uncle, William Murray, First Earl of Mansfield and Lord Chief Justice. Her great uncle and aunt are childless, but they are raising her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray, who has also lost her mother. Belle is raised in luxury and is treated as an equal in many respects. While Belle may seem to be insulated by the high status of her family and eventually her inheritance, she nevertheless must negotiate a course through 18th century racism and strict rules of propriety to find love and to influence the question of slavery in Britain.

The Lord Chief Justice is responsible for rendering a decision about the important Zong case in which a slave transport ship threw its slaves overboard to collect the insurance money. Belle argues that slaves are human lives, not cargo, and the Lord Chief Justice, a man of the law, eventually rules against the slave ship’s claim, which in turn affects the course of the slave trade in Britain. It is believed that Belle was very informed about his cases, helped with legal correspondence, and influenced her great uncle’s decision.

Belle is the story of an old-fashioned romance and a determined, but subtle feminist and activist. It’s not a flashy film with bull whips and lacerated flash, but death and injustice are in the room and Belle combats them with the means that are available to her. It’s an intriguing story that I think you will enjoy. The picture here is the painting of  Belle and her cousin Elizabeth as it hangs today in Scotland’s Scone Palace.


  1. I can't wait to see this film... Thanks for writing about it.

  2. The movie was more amazing than I expected.