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.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Movie Review: Kill the Messenger

In 1996, Gary Webb, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, gets a tip from the exotic girl friend of a drug dealer that links the 80s CIA to cocaine smuggling in Nicaragua. Sounds like a Hollywood movie, right? It’s a true story of an idealistic journalist who tenaciously follows the story, putting himself and his family at risk. The story he uncovers links the crack epidemic in the U.S. to drug dealers who were using their profits to fund CIA-backed rebels in Nicaragua. Because the Reagan administration was unable to get the backing of Congress to support the rebels in Nicaragua, the CIA supposedly took it upon itself to fund operations by allowing cocaine into our country. Nice, huh? And they wonder why Americans have become so cynical over the years.

Gary Webb was an award-winning journalist. In 1990 he won the Pulitzer for general reporting for his coverage of the Bay Area earthquake in 1989. He was a good writer looking for the big scoop and then he stumbled upon it and it split his world wide open. He doggedly pursued the story whether it took him to Nicaragua or Washington D.C. In 1996 he wrote a series of articles entitled the Dark Alliance about cocaine smuggling which was published in the San Jose Mercury News to much praise. Within a very short period of time, however, he was in trouble. He received threats from drug dealers and CIA operatives. His story made a lot of people uncomfortable. His editors suddenly demanded on-the-record sources. Of course, he could not produce any drug dealer or CIA operative source willing to go on record. His newspaper backed away from him. Other major newspapers viciously attacked his writing. As a result of his unwillingness to back down from the assertions of his story, he was banished to a small bureau and eventually he resigned.

He paid a very heavy price for his stubborn dedication to his story. He was never able to find work as a journalist again. The movie does not delve into the examination of his facts or the nature of the threats against him or the final unraveling of his life, but it’s a very exciting, eye-opening story. Actor Jeremy Renner does an excellent job of portraying Gary Webb. The movie is based on Webb’s book, Dark Alliance, and a book by Nick Schou entitled Kill the Messenger. Go see it.


  1. I'll be watching for this film around here. Living out in the sticks, we get only the "sticks" kind of films. Anything really
    good we order from Netflix. Thanks for another good review.

    1. I could probably save myself some money if I signed up for Netflix, but I like going to a movie theater--the company, the smell of popcorn, the movie trailers, etc.