Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Having recently signed with an agent who is now enthusiastically sending my novel, Of Yin and Yang, out to editors, I have a little time to share some of the details of cleaning the up the manuscript. Now that it’s out, I have to trust that what they read is the best of what I could show them. I think I came close, by following a lot of advice I found on various websites added to what I already knew from many years of professional medical writing. Here is a synopsis of what I’ve learned.

Yes, now that you’ve finally finished that book, you have to go back over it again looking for all the things that could be improved. This is the first clean up, and it’s important to showing agents and editors that you are professional. Specifically, you will be looking for:


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Pyramid Lake

A Writer’s Retreat – Photo by Linda Peckel

We all need a quick splash of water in our faces in the morning–think of this as waking your creative spirit!

It’s less than a week since I returned from a writer’s retreat in the Adirondacks, in a place so remote you won’t hear a phone ring or a TV, but you’ll hear the loons call as you drift off to sleep. It was the perfect atmosphere for many of us to reconnect with the words and images in our heads, and we had a number of talented workshop leaders giving us prompts and brief exercises each morning to help us find that overgrown pathway to our own creative attics. By Friday morning, we could all hear the wind blow, and we were writing about moments and memories we rarely thought of.

I discovered that in the past years of finishing a novel (which is different from the early stages of developing it) while doing multiple jobs each week just to pay the bills, I had lost the ability to simply write…

My workshop guide was a wonderfully lyrical poet, writer and editor from the Baltimore Review named Lalita Noronha. Each morning she served us seemingly easy challenges to just respond to a prompt, an idea, or an approach—and to me it felt like riding a bicycle with ice skates through a lake. Despite years and years of writing all kinds of content, copy, and prose, I simply had no idea where to start.

The beauty of these exercises is they are very simple, quick, and they help you find new starting points. If nothing else, you have written something fresh.


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As anyone who has attempted it knows, writing is deceptively hard. It takes mental acuity and acrobatic imagination, organized creativity, and tremendous patience coupled with spontaneous genius. It’s the perfect equation of personality and intelligence finding space over time. And if, by some miracle you do happen to do it—and do it well by your own standards—you want it to be read, preferably by hungry hoards of fans holding out palmfuls of money, dinero, argent or even bitcoins to read your next work.

You want to be sustained by your writing—emotionally and financially—so you can do it some more. So do I.

The secret to reaching this realm is the guidance and support of a literary agent, that Merlin of the publishing world who turns the unread and unappreciated into an author.


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So here I am in Sydney, Australia, on a writing gig that even makes me jealous—and I’m here! Freelance writing—especially niche writing—can offer amazing perks and this is one of them. In one of my other incarnations, I am a medical writer, specializing in neurology. I’m here to cover the International Congress of the Movement Disorders Society, and of course, I had to take some time to see the city before I got down to work.

Before my arrival last week, my uninformed impression of this city was based mainly on movies like the absolutely hilarious The Gods Must Be Crazy, and the not quite so hilarious Crocodile Dundee. Oh, and I am a regular at the Outback Steakhouse (get your own link for this one, they don’t need me to advertise them).

So my initial impression was this would not be a city known for its arts culture, despite the imposing figure of the Opera House. Before disembarking the plane, my image was one of burly men in short sleeves and hats, talking about shrimp and beer. Okay, my impression may have been several miles below the solid ground of reality.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney, Australia

Not to sound juvenile, but…this city RULES!


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It’s pretty obvious I’ve been away from this blog for a while. In fact, I’ve been away for a while  in general.  My quest: to explore all of life’s possibilities, a large number of which seem to present during the summer.

This summer I’ve made trips to Lake George to teach a writing workshop, toSaranacLaketo cover a plein air festival—and again to step into the life of a full-time plein air painter. I came back to my freelance writing  job for a few weeks and then promptly took work as Locations Manager to a feature film shooting inConnecticut. None of these jobs have regular hours. They all bleed into each other, and into every corner of my personal life. In future posts I will explore/explain what I learn on these individual journeys, but for today I want to share a poem that keeps resonating in my head, because it completely nails my own personal life M.O.

It was more than a year ago I heard this poem read at a reading inNorth Easton,Massachusetts. The poet, Craig Fredericks, gave a wonderful reading that night, opening by saying, “there is an ancient Hebrew Law, rediscovered with the dead sea scrolls, that prohibits ‘saying anything stupid on the Sabbath.’ With that in mind…” Read more

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Plein Air painting conjures images of lazy summer afternoons where Frenchman long now passed on once stood in a field or beside a stream, painting masterpieces that would last beyond their lifetimes.

Impressionism was literally born from the plein air experience, as the artist worked quickly to capture the impressions of an outdoor setting through a few hours of changing light. And change it does, moment by moment.

Last week I followed a large group of exceptionally talented painters (about 87 of them) from around the country (and one from Russia) who made the pilgrimage to upstate New York for a 5-day plein air festival, high  in Adirondack Mountains. Read more

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Writers are a funny bunch. We don’t usually think of ourselves as artists. We’re the sturdy pragmatists, the realists among creatives, the artistic souls who live amongst the others, buried in civilization, drawing our witty references from the dingy side of life. We don’t need that wimpy, outdoorsy, ferral inspiration that feeds painters and poets. We write WORDS, forged from hours with a laptop baking through our thighs, by the light of an energy-efficient desk lamp. Nature is for those artists who need to clear their heads—we like it musty and dark and lonely and smelly and….wait….okay…maybe there’s something to reconsider here…

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