Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Writing Mind

Do you ever have the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with some wild idea or are of taking a walk and some thought strikes you out of the blue? Well, after years of this happening, I began writing them down. Now I’m turning them into short stories and novels. I have a manila folder full of these thoughts and ideas. I’ll never run out of material to write about. And the best part. Who needs a therapist when you can be a writer?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dedication Versus Compulsion

As anyone in the writing profession knows, it’s a lot of work, difficult, frustrating, lonely and disappointing. On the other hand, it can be the most rewarding and fulfilling avocation possible. As I continue on the writer’s journey, one of the aspects I struggle with is dedication versus compulsion. Here’s the dilemma. Writing requires constant diligence, focus and perseverance. I try to write every morning I don’t have meetings or am not traveling. Then there’s all the promotional aspects: Facebook, Twitter, my blog, my web site, the fourteen Yahoo email loops I belong to, speeches, book signings . . . the list can go on. I’ve been fortunate in being able to follow the advice of John Vorhaus’s character Vic Mirplo in the book Albuquerque Turkey to “procrastinate later.” My challenge is the voice in my head that says, “You need to do more.” This is the voice that says, “Write for another hour,” “Send five more query letters,” “Post more messages on Facebook,” “Call six more organizations to set up presentations.” This can be a never ending battle that consumes all day and night. So what’s the answer between sloth and hyperactivity? I feel it’s necessary to remain dedicated to my writing career, but I need to find a balance that avoids compulsiveness. I’m trying to ask myself what needs to be done? If I have a deadline, work on it to complete a commitment. Prioritize my to do list and focus on the “A” items. There is always more that can be done, but there is a time to stop, get some exercise, spend time with my wife, and read a good book. This also relates to perseverance. I sold my first short story on my 112th submission. What if I had quit at 111? Again the answer is balance. I need to keep going but pace myself. I’m currently seeking a new agent. I’ve been sending off query letters regularly. I’m not going to quit, but I’m not going to pull an all-nighter trying to send as many as I can either. The best answer I can come up with is to seek the golden mean—be dedicated without becoming compulsive.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Life of Crime

Two days ago I was arrested six times and handcuffed five times. No, my mystery writing has not led me to a life of crime. I volunteered to be a role player for training new police officers of the Boulder Police Department. We assembled at a local park, and I received my props and took a position in one part of the park. My role was to be a disgruntled employee who had a pipe bomb. When the police officer showed up, I acted erratic and complained that I had been unjustly fired but would get back at them. Several times I had the simulated pipe bomb lying under my pack and others times it was stashed in the pack. The officers interviewed me, kept me away from my pack and once they found the pipe bomb arrested and handcuffed me. I learned several things from the trainers when they debriefed the officers in training. The police can’t open a backpack without the owner’s permission. Once permission is given, if they find something threatening they can take action. If there is an open backpack on the ground, they can look inside but can’t open it further. Once a bomb is found, the best procedure is to take the suspect away from the bomb, preferably at least three hundred feet and to remove anything from the suspect that could be a detonator such as an automobile car door opener, cell phone or even pen. Even though the suspect is unstable, the suspect would be taken to jail first, not to a mental hospital. From jail if a mental evaluation is deemed necessary, that can then be orchestrated. I was impressed with the new officers. They used a firm commanding voice to take charge but did so in a polite manner. I learned a lot and hopefully helped the new officers prepare for a situation when they encounter someone wackier than I am.

Friday, July 8, 2011


As a kid I was introverted and painfully shy. Over the course of a business career and now being an author, I’ve come to enjoy speaking. I give talks to service organizations, retirement communities and writers groups. I recently came across a youtube video of a presentation I gave to the Denver Rotary Club titled, The Secret of Growing Older Gracefully. You can see it at: