Writing schedule

I write best in the morning, coffee mug in hand, before the day can overwhelm me with its needs and purposes.

I get up, pull on a hoodie, pour a cup of coffee, settle onto the sofa with Mr. Tini over my shoulder judging my words.

My current goal is 720 words a day for an 80,000 word first draft by March first. In the last two years, I’ve become very goal-oriented and deadline driven. Set a deadline and work backwards. Mr. Tini seems happy with the progress even if the new project has a Great Dane and not a wily cat.

Magic Book

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

For an author, the magic book is the one that inspires a lifetime of toil over the page, endless hours scratching in a journal, and each commute constructing complicated story lines.

Chelsey and the Green-Haired Kid” by Carol Gorman was my magic book.

It all started in Mrs. McDonald’s sixth grade English class at McKinley Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa too many years ago. I loved Mrs. McDonald and she valued books and writers above all. So those became my values.

We read Gorman’s book then the author came to visit our class. I was smitten. Gorman talked about the book and her life and her husband, Ed Gorman. Shortly after the author’s visit to our class, I started devouring horror novels by the box-full. Mom would pick up books by Dean Koontz, Robin Cook, Stephen King, and more at garage sales or in the grocery check-out lines.

Most of my reading life was suddenly inhabited by aliens, supernatural forces, demented dogs, evil doctors and maniacal hitmen. After a few years, I began doodling and outlining my own stories. It became an addiction, an obsession.

Love Scenes

“Let’s get it on” Marvin Gaye

Sex is the natural world is weird and sometimes violent. We love to cling to the delusion that human procreation is magical or ordained, but it’s awkward at best. I’ve written a few love scenes that were tender and mythical, but utter bullshit.. I now resolve to write bumbling and artless love scenes.


While working on a longer non-fiction piece, a professor once told me to add in the smaller details of my day; readers like the minutiae.

Juvenile Bald Eagle, Red Rock Reservoir, Iowa, January 2018

I didn’t believe him at the time, but after another decade as a voracious reader I appreciate the small things. It feels like voyeurism reading about a character’s bathroom habits or learning their favorite recipe for pasta sauce. It gives the mind a place to rest while processing the rest of the story.