The United States Department of State

Referred to as the State Department, State, and DOS, the U.S. Department of State was yesterday slandered with a dangerous new label. I don’t care about the insult. Hearing “deep state department” from those lips glances off as a meaningless jab. I’ve long inured myself against the public bluster. What concerns me more is the … Continue reading The United States Department of State

About Mohamed

Every year this time my thoughts turn to Mohamed (his story is here). I had reason to conjure his story this fall and found the image below. Pictured is the American Library, Kabul, circa 1958. Is this the building where Mohamed learned to love the United States? Where he read American authors and watched American movies? … Continue reading About Mohamed

It Rains, It Pours

Tuesday I flew to Delhi, this kitchen knife concealed in my shoulder bag. Security missed the 5-½” blade. Wednesday my phone blew up during a seminar I was conducting with 90 colleagues, a deluge of messages from Mumbai, much of the city underwater, including the 5km stretch between my son’s elementary school and home. A … Continue reading It Rains, It Pours

Operation Sheltering Sky

Rajasthan is desert country, 70% of the state---India's largest---an arid mix of scrub and sand. We trekked by camel into the Thar Desert about 50 km outside Jaisalmer. Abdullah led our beasts on foot, their names Simon, Paulos, and---inexplicably---Johnny No. 1. Toward sunset we reached the Sam Dunes. The wind died down and we made … Continue reading Operation Sheltering Sky

Book Marketing & Helping Others

I've turned the tables on fellow indie writer and keen author interviewer Matthew Whiteside, who describes his Uniweb Productions website as A place for creativity, hope, inspiration, and all around good times. https://youtu.be/XZmi1laMEQo Anyone familiar with his interviews knows about the good times. But what about the hope and inspiration? What about the creativity? Find … Continue reading Book Marketing & Helping Others

Ten Questions

I am asked, "A book begins as an idea in the writer’s imagination. Eventually, this grain of sand turns into a pearl. What was the grain of sand that fired your imagination?" I respond: Orwellian signs in the DC Metro: “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.” See what, exactly? Commuters staring empty-eyed at phones while … Continue reading Ten Questions

Speaking of Oscar

Previously blogged: Oscar KeyE is Dead. Long Live Oscar Keye. Rather than dwell on my dislike for all things Oscar Awards, trying to unravel the reasons for my disdain, I'll revisit one thing I do love about Oscar: his utility as an early alter-ego. 'Oscar Keye is dead and I am free,' I wrote in … Continue reading Speaking of Oscar

Lords of the Flies

We boys are to be left alone while the lynchpin of our home operation conducts child labor research in island-nation Philippines for the next seven days. The irony's not lost on me. How long 'til we descend into savagery? Not to worry. Rather than cranking the inevitable conflagrant sounds we so admire, we'll tuck ourselves … Continue reading Lords of the Flies

Finding Your Market

This video is about examining your manuscript to find its best market opportunity. For me the process took ten years, failed representation, and an entire rewrite. But it was worth it. https://youtu.be/cQgAu7OX0UU In this segment from my interview with Matthew Whiteside, I share lessons learned from the process of bringing out my first novel. Hint: … Continue reading Finding Your Market

Lousy Book Covers

This clip from my interview with Matthew Whiteside explores the marketing side of writing books, and why a title like Two Pumps for the Body Man can be a real challenge to promote. The cover didn't help, not even when it was featured on a website called LousyBookCovers(dot)com (their snark goes to 11...). Check the design … Continue reading Lousy Book Covers