More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Memento mori

A memento mori seal from ItalyRecently, Manuel Oliver presented a 3-D printed statue of his son Joaquin at Times Square. I’ve talked about Stoneman Douglas before on this site. But this particular story says something about how we view death — and how we value life. It’s important we look at this, especially with all that has happened in the past few days.

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Elections and hernias

The ballot from my first electionBy now, you’ve heard plenty of people (including myself) tell you how crucial these midterm elections are and how important it is for you to come out and vote. If you are still unconvinced, let me tell you about my hernia.

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Give yourself permission to…

Selfie at Indie Author Day 2018Welcome to all of you who found this site from my flyer at Indie Author Day. My site has plenty of tips on writing and public speaking, but I want to give you the most important tip of all.

Take care of your health.

When we are creating, working, or dealing with our other responsibilities, health is the last thing we think about. But you can’t do any of these things when you’re sick, exhausted, or lacking in energy.

We also need to consider mental health (which isn’t separate from physical health). The “tortured artist” is a stereotype and a dangerous one at that. Depression, anxiety, and other issues hamper our productivity, not enhance it. Therapy and medication don’t take away our creativity, but it can help us exercise it. (To learn more, see this video by Jenna Moreci.)

Taking care of my health is a lesson I continue to struggle to learn. But I’ve found one phrase that helps, “give yourself permission to.” Here are some ways to use this.

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The villain’s journey

Caricature of a villain (image from Wikipedia)I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. It has been a while since I finished a novel, and I need to get another book going. I have a story in mind, but I have to approach it differently from the other novels I’ve written. This time, I’m focusing on the villain’s journey.

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Why I love writing fiction

Front cover for The Remainders, available on InkittTechnical writing is my bread and butter, but I love fiction writing. As a child, I enjoyed making up stories and creating adventures for my GI Joe and Major Matt Mason action figures. As I started writing, my Holy Grail was to write The Great American Novel, make the New York Times bestseller list, get the seven-figure movie deal, and be included in literature textbooks for generations to come (except in the six states and nine countries where my books are banned).

As I got older, I had to temper my love of fiction writing with reality.

Non-fiction is an easy sell. These books address a specific need, like learning to give impromptu talks. Success can be easily measured. Is the information correct? Can someone complete a task, solve a problem, or answer a question using the book?

Fiction is a harder sell. What need does a story fill? And how do you measure success?

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