The Kindness of Strangers

I think this is a wonderful story from The Moth. A celebrity reaches out to a stranger and does a very nice thing just when the stranger needs it most. This particular celebrity had a reputation for being a prickly personality. Just goes to show that we are all complex people with our bad sides and our good.

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Too Many Main Characters?

I have a problem with the novel I’m writing, and I think David Farland put his finger on it in his blog post yesterday:

The important thing here is to keep a limit on the number of viewpoint characters. Two or three main characters is plenty for an average novel of 80,000 to 90,000 words. If you try to handle six or seven, you’ll find that your novel expands to a couple hundred thousand words very quickly.

So keep the number of viewpoint characters down to a manageable level.

Continue reading

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10 Things I’ve Learned From My Latest D&D Campaign

Photo by Alan Alfaro. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 2.0 license.

My game group has been involved in a pretty good campaign for several sessions now. My character is a third-level dwarf barbarian  glory-seeker. Given that my character hasn’t been killed yet (despite the best efforts of my dice), it’s time to reflect on some of the life lessons the little brute has taught me so far. Continue reading

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I Can’t Complain, But Sometimes I Still Do (or, My Pet Peeves)

I realize the big holiday has come and gone for another year, but I say, “Let’s keep the spirit of Festivus alive all year long! Let the airing of grievances commence!” Herewith, some of my pet peeves: Continue reading

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My 5 Favorite Uses For Evernote

Evernote logo
I suspect many of you are like me in that you’ve come to increasingly rely on Evernote. It’s rapidly become one of my favorite apps, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite ways to use it. Some of these may be old hat to a few of you, but I hope you pick up at least a couple of new ideas from my list.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, Evernote is an all-purpose note-writing, note collecting, information-archiving application that runs on multiple devices. I have the app running on my MacBook Air, my iPhone, my iPad, and I can access my account via the Web from my PC at the office. I can make a grocery shopping list in Evernote on my laptop, synchronize it over my home wifi network, and have that list available on my phone when I grab my cart at Wegmans. That is an extremely simple example of what this app can do, however. Here’s what I like to do: Continue reading

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Thoughts on the New Year


I’m sitting in the Starbucks in Liverpool with my son, who is filling out internship applications, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is playing. It’s one of my favorite pieces of music, and it’s good for a writing background. For whatever reason, it’s inspiring me to jot down my hopes for 2015, now approaching the end of its second day.

I’ve been on vacation for over a week, a much-needed mental health break from my day job. It’s given me time to think about what I want to accomplish this year – professionally, personally, for my writing work, for my health, for a whole lot of things.

In some ways, I feel like the last two years were a time of running in place for me. I would not call them wasted – I produced some work in my day job that I’m very proud of, including a couple of continuing education courses that I conceived, developed and taught on my own. I now have steady freelance writing work, something I’ve wanted to achieve for a long time. My work on the two library boards is important to me. I’ve assumed the title of president of one of the boards, the first time in my life I’ve held a top leadership position in any organization. I take satisfaction in having stepped up to that challenge.

However, the novel I’ve been picking away at since 2013 is nowhere near completion. I’ve written myself into a few corners from which I’m not sure how to escape. My self-promotion efforts have lagged. I weigh too much. I need to do my day job better, to learn more, to blog more (both at work and at home), to podcast more. I need to grow more as a person. Continue reading

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A Blogger’s Lament

No Ideas

It’s been too long since I have made an entry on this site
And of great creativity I will not deign to boast
For in those stolen moments when jot some thoughts I might,
I find myself without ideas for what I’d like to post.

Oh sure, I could regale you ’bout my trips both near and far
Or vent about public affairs, with all their saints and sinners
Or treat you to another sappy post about my car
Or share pics of the mac and cheese that tonight I had for dinner.
Continue reading

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P.G. Holyfield

So I’ve been thinking all day about what I could possibly say. I overslept this morning. The alarm went off at 5:30, like it always does, but I decided to rest another five minutes before getting my first cup of coffee. Next thing I knew, it was 6:25. I went downstairs, poured a cup and sat down with my phone, planning to read the New York Times. For some reason, though, I had Facebook open, so I started to skim that instead. And that was how I found out that my friend P.G. Holyfield is fighting for his life.

I don’t remember whether or not I met him at my first Dragon*Con in 2008, though I clearly remember him being at a couple of parties I went to. The following winter and spring, I mainlined the podcast of Murder At Avedon Hill, and somehow I finangled my way into a very very small part in one of the last episodes. After that, I knew I had to meet the guy behind this tour-de-force – a captivating world, a gripping story, and a sonic artistic achievement far beyond anything I could hope to produce. I found a guy who is quiet but friendly and gracious, and often very funny. We roomed together at Dragon*Con 2010. Alcohol loosened my tongue and I talked his ears off. His tolerance for me was commendable. Continue reading

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This is What Life as a Red Sox Fan Does To People

Michaela Murphy told this terrific story on The Moth about growing up in a house full of Red Sox fans and her adventure taking her younger brother to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Find more excellent stories on The Moth at

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My children are grown, and I’ve noticed something interesting over the past year. The youngest is 19 and about to start his second year of college; the older two are living on their own. From December 1988 until August 2013, my days were filled with working and my sons. Diapers, risk management when they learned to walk, toys, looking for lost toys, bedtime stories, school, and sports. Lots and lots of sports. I enjoy sports even though my talents for them came from the shallow end of the gene pool, so I also enjoyed watching the boys play. Baseball, basketball, soccer – it was fun. Time-consuming, and not always played in what one would call pleasant weather conditions, but fun. Still, more than once I found myself thinking, as I was driving to another game in Rome (New York, that is,) that a break from all this would be nice. I’d get to do activities that I chose, rather than having them foisted on me by my sons’ schedules.

So now they’re grown and mostly out of the house, and I have the opportunity to do what I want on a Saturday night. And you know what?

I can’t pick out anything I want to do. That’s right: Faced with what parents of younger children see as “freedom,” my response is – meh. Continue reading

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