Category Archives: Writing

Editing My Latest

Having finished drafting the third book in my series of historical novels called, “The Carolingian Chronicles,” I’m on to editing.
By now, I should be used to it. The bulk of my career has been spent in jobs that required my writing to be reviewed. I was a press secretary on Capitol Hill, a weekly columnist for a daily newspaper and a public relations professional for an international pr firm. Editing was just part of the deal. I’ve never had a first draft approved without a mark on it.
Creative writing, however, is a little different. It’s personal. As much as we writers like to talk about the muse (who is real btw) at the end of the day, it’s still us on the page, our thoughts, our words, our vision. We sometimes spend years getting a story down on paper.
That’s why editing can be such a challenge. Among writers it’s called “killing our babies.” Granted, it will make our story/novel/screenplay better, it’s just a difficult process to endure.
I’ll also admit that corralling 100,000 words into shape can be a herculean task. Word use, syntax, grammar, character consistency, plot pacing and backstory all require attention.
And the period details can kill you. “How long does it take an army on foot to move eighty miles?” “Didn’t this minor character die before this timeframe in history?” “Were tomatoes present in Europe in the eighth century?” “Was the Litany of Saints commonly used in France at that time?”
So, it goes. I’ll let you know how it turns out. And maybe after it’s done, I’ll tell you about the muse…
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End of Summer Sale! Only $.99 until September 4

Book stackPlease share with your networks and anyone looking for a good summer read:

I’m holding an Anvil of God “End of Summer” Sale.
E-book versions are currently selling for $.99 on
iBooks: and
Barnes & Nobel:
Sale lasts only until September 4th so get it while the getting’s good! Continue reading

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Gold Medal

images-1Sorry for the delay in posting.  I’ve been trying to finish my first draft of “Sin of Omission” and I get tunnel vision when I write.

Some excellent news!  Anvil of God won a GOLD MEDAL (yes!) for Best Historical Fiction Novel of 2014 by the Independent Publisher Book Awards (also known as The IPPYs). The honor is shared with author Scott E. Blumenthal for his book “The Kiss; A Novel” as the two novels tied for the top spot.The awards will be presented at a ceremony in New York City May 28th on the eve of BookExpo America.

Conducted annually, the Independent Publisher Book Awards honor the year’s best independently published titles from around the world. The IPPYs were conceived as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry, including: independently owned and operated publishers, foundation or university presses and long-time independents that became incorporated but operate autonomously and publish fewer than 50titles a year.

This is the second award recognition for Anvil of God. In March, Anvil was named a finalist in the historical fiction category of Foreword Review’s “Book of the Year Award” competition. (Winners will be announced in the middle of this month).

Here’s the link:

Anvil of God_v2A

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The Blank Page

images-1When I was in the fourth grade, Miss Nichols introduced a new girl to our class named Laurie MacElhenny.  She had brown hair, hazel-green eyes, freckles and more importantly, a father named, Hugh.  Also known as “Crazy Legs MacElhenny,” Hugh MacElhenny, was a celebrated open-field running back signed by the New York Giants. They had just moved to our small town.  The news of Laurie and her father rippled through Todd Elementary School in a wave of whispers that could defy the speed of any technology available today.  And, of course, every boy in the fourth grade immediately fell in love with her, myself included.

This was no hormonal crush. I was only nine at the time – there wouldn’t be a whiff of testosterone until I was well into the eighth grade – but my “love” for Laurie was no less intoxicating.  I, and the rest of the fourth grade boys, had a fixation on her that was all consuming. None of us ever spoke of this to her, of course.  In those days, we loved from afar.  But, she was all I/we could think about.  I even wrote a poem.

Not a good idea when you have two older brothers.

I knew it was risky.  They were always on the lookout for any sign of weakness they could exploit.  But I was confident.  The poem was safely hidden away, one among three hundred sheets of white, lined paper bound inside my mammoth, grey, three-ring, school binder.

“What were you writing the other day?”


“I saw you.”

“It was nothin.”

“Gimme that notebook.”

Still, I was cool.  There was no way they would flip through every page. They didn’t have the patience.  My face was a mask of unconcern.

Until they found it.  And started reading it aloud.  With every bit of drama worthy of Elizabethan actors.  To this day I can still feel the flush of my cheeks turning crimson.

I learned at an early age that while our thoughts are our own, what is put down on paper is for everyone.

And therein lies the nature of writer’s block.  You. Will. Be. Judged.  In the mind, our thoughts are free to float and swirl with reckless abandon. Ideas ebb and flow like the tides. Suppositions and arguments twist with the winds of our subconscious.  Distilling these myriad notions into one thought, one focus, one sentence is a declaration.  It says, “This is who I am. This is what I believe.”  Writing defines us.

And that can be a scary.  When I first sat down to write Anvil of God, I didn’t know where to start.  I tried to imagine a scene between Charlemagne’s father and the last of the Merovingian Kings…just to create some character interaction.  Four hours later, I shut down the computer.  I was shaking.  The characters had run amok and the scene I had written was so disturbing that I couldn’t look at it for three days. I had written that? (It still scares me).

I understood then what writers talk about when referring to their “muse.”  (Okay, mine is a dark muse, but it’s still a muse).  When I had recovered from the shock, I knew there was no going back.   Writing opens a window to the soul.

And yet we do it.  We put ourselves down on paper, knowing that we will be judged.

It takes an enormous act of hubris. What could I possibly have to write that is worthy of being read?  It’s a very high bar.

Hence the blank page.

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