About a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to a lot of self-help/meditation books: each page features an interesting provocative quote from a well-known writer, a section about how and what we writers do, and then a kind of affirmation, e.g., Today I will write as honestly as I can, or Today I will honor my writing time, and so on.

I’ve never been big on the whole idea of writer’s block (do dentists get dentist block?), but I’ve had periods where I felt uninspired, and other periods where I got “stuck” in a story I was working on and had to go work on something else for a while. This book is a good resource for writers when they need a little inspiration, or even a good kick in the seat of the pants. Some of the readings are great, some aren’t so great, and a few are just plain weird.

Today’s quote comes from Neil Postman, an author I should probably have read by now, but admittedly haven’t. I like the quote, and decided to use it for an image post here today. Without giving it much thought, I decided to use a mandala for the image in the background.

Then, like a lot of provocative quotes, this one led me to muse about culture and politics, about the sacred and the profane. I started to go down a rabbit hole that I honestly don’t have time for today, but I still wanted to get the post out there and have it available for comment. I think the most important thing it led me to, in my short musing time, is the notion that we need great stories. I’ve written about this before, and will probably write about it again, but “narratives of transcendent origin and power” like those that drove so much of Native American culture are difficult to find in current American culture, at least in popular culture. I hope my own efforts – Brothers’ Hand, Jana, and Miles of Files – have some of that much-needed transcendence.

Another type of story that has quite a bit of power is the client testimonial. I’ve never really used many of those, although I am starting to accumulate them. Of course, I have 4-star and 5-star book reviews, and those are testimonials. But if you’ve got a service-based business and you want to gain more clients, telling your previous or current clients’ success stories can really deliver value. It gets people’s interest and shows that you’ve got what it takes to do that for potential clients.

So there’s my lesson for the day: tell your stories, and tell your clients’ success stories. In the end, what else do we have?

radio shows

Radio, Radio

Normally, when I've done radio shows, it's been related to promotion of a novel, or of my novels in general. This week, it's something completely different. (If you got the Monty Python reference, kudos. If not, Google them after you read this post. Then thank me in...

Psychology Is Sort of a Hobby of Mine, or Why I’ve Always Been So Interested In Metaphysics

I chose the image above for today's blog post for a couple reasons: first, it's cool, but second, it's also kind of all over the place. And isn't that what metaphysics are all about?A quick Google search shows the definition of metaphysics as "a field of philosophy...

Technophobia: A Writer’s Confession

To today's computer-savvy readers, "technophobia" might sound like a quaint leftover from the 20th century. You remember, right? Back in the 1980s, guys like me wrote poems of dismay about the invasion of technology into the arts. I still remember the words I penned...

Are Authors Typically Obsessive-Compulsive?

Recently I’ve noticed a trend in author blogs toward the confessional. After all, no one wants to read about your characters all the time, and God knows that readers don’t want to read about marketing. They want to know something about you. Happy to oblige. Although...

Are You The Kind Of Writer Who Reads A Lot?

When I was in high school, I had a real dilemma: I loved the books the teachers assigned us, and as a result, the teachers loved me. Naturally, that meant some of the other students hated me. Now, I should clarify this by saying that I didn't always love what I was...
fictional world

Creating a Believable Fictional World

When it comes to writing fiction, many authors sweat the small stuff. "Do I have what it takes to write realistic dialogue?" they wonder. "Am I creating a believable fictional world?" Or, most dire of all, "Will anyone care about my books?" These concerns are all...

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

I wrote most of Miles of Files between 2007 and 2015. I felt my first novel had been an artistic success, but I wasn't so sure about the second one. Now, I'd moved on to this third novel without having found a publisher for either of the first two. And it was totally...

Authors As Self-Marketers

A couple years back, in an article about self-publishing, I wrote the following: If you’re an author with a traditional publishing contract, you don’t really have to be an entrepreneur as such; the publishing company does the marketing and PR for you, though you have...

Last Quarter and a New Partnership Announcement

The typical Monday blog post did not happen today. There were a couple reasons for this. First, I had to spend much of the afternoon with a client of mine. I went beyond my normal role as a writer, editor, proofreader, speaker, or publisher and was, instead - wait for...
7 Things to Check Before You Publish That Book

7 Things to Check Before You Publish That Book

This year, I'm pleased to announce I'm going to be publishing my fifth work of fiction, Whizzers. Hard to believe, because it seems like just yesterday when I launched my first novel, Brothers' Hand, into an unsuspecting world. I still remember some of the reactions...