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 26, 2015

Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

Are you old enough to remember the 50s? If not, Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies is a good introduction to the cold war espionage years of the 1950s. He paints an accurate picture of American middle class life then--stay-at-home moms who dressed in long skirts and high heels, black and white TV, patriotic hypocrisy, U2 spy planes, and the mass hysteria over communism and the nuclear bomb threat.

Tom Hanks plays a New York insurance lawyer (James Donovan) whose boss (Alan Alda) pushes him into providing legal representation for alleged Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (wonderfully played by theater actor Mark Rylance). It's a hypocritical gesture to put American justice on display with no belief that Abel is deserving of fair representation. Donovan worries that taking the case will make him unpopular for defending a man charged as a Russian spy. "Everyone will hate me, but at least I'll lose," he says. He worries that others will view him as a traitor, including his own family.

This is the story of an ordinary man forced into the big story of cold war intrigue who has the courage to step up and do something better than just being ordinary.  There are a lot of twists and turns and Donovan successfully pleads to save the life of the spy and argues that he may be useful in a spy exchange if any American spies are caught by the Russians. Also he comes to believe that Abel is just a man following orders for his country. And then, guess what? Francis Gary Powers gets shot down by the Russians. Another man following orders for his country.

Bridge of Spies is based on the true story of the spy swap negotiated by James Donovan to free Francis Gary Powers and an innocent student arrested by the East Germans. (Donovan was also later called upon to negotiate the release of 1,113 prisoners taken by Castro in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.) It's a riveting feel-good story about a courageous man who knows right from wrong and doesn't let anyone, including the CIA, get in his way.

It's a Spielberg movie with Tom Hanks as the lead actor. You can't beat that combo. Go see it and take a step back in time. And, by the way, Mark Rylance is outstanding as Rudolf Abel.


  1. Great review, I can't wait to see. I love movies that take me back to that time period. But I disagree as to stay at home moms wearing long skirts and high heels. LOL My mom only dressed up when going out, and she was a fashion plate for the time. She made all her own clothes too. But I never saw her cooking in high heels. :)

  2. Can't beat that combo. This is a movie I've been wanting to see. Thanks for your review Linda, makes me want to go all the more.

  3. We liked it too. Particularly Mark Rylance. Sure brings back a flood of memories about those days. Great reviews.