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Write Boldly Badly!

Are you a good enough reader to write badly? I mean, really, really badly. If you are, it’s time to prove it by submitting to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. This fiendishly alluring competition asks contestants to create a first sentence to an utter bomb of a book. With enough skill, that sentence will equal or…


The Lure of the Séance

Once, decades ago, I attended a séance. The medium, Mrs. B, had since childhood spoken to people nobody else could see. In her eighties, she’d been a minister in the Spiritualist church for years. She was part of a long tradition. The American Spiritualist movement dates back to 1848, when the Fox sisters of upstate…


Leave Room for Cream?

My characters drink too much coffee. It’s noticeable. They make it, buy cups of it, discuss plot points over it. They consume it in mass quantities, to the point where one might think the author does the same. One would be correct. When I was a kid, I hated even the smell of coffee. The…


Old Man

You could see it from miles down the road, an odd protrusion from Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire. As you got closer, the image began to make sense. You saw the same thing that inspired centuries-old Abenaki and Mohawk legends, the phenomenon that Daniel Webster and Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote about: you saw the Old…


Mother’s Day

Charlotte is taking inventory of the photos on my first floor. At three, she lives far enough away that I don’t see her nearly often enough. But this also means there’s always something new to discover at Gigi’s house. “Mommy, Aunt Sof, TomTom,” she ticks off, pointing to a photo on the shelf above my…


Stuff

Some of the stuff we’ve saved over the years is laughing at us. Those keepsakes from our kids’ lives that we stashed away to pass down to them? The ones we envisioned handing over as forever-memories? If you tiptoe past that leaning tower o’ stuff, you’ll hear a soft chortle, because the stuff knows the…


Sign of a Time

Back in the late 1980s, I bought a pottery mug during a lunch break from my summer clerking position at a Baltimore law firm. Harborplace, then a vibrant destination filled with artisans and food stalls, was only a quick walk away from my office. That’s where I found my mug waiting for me. The rounded…


Dreams

The earliest dream I remember featured a convertible careening down a wide flight of outdoor stairs, followed by a jack-o-lantern swooping from the sky to stick pins in me. Over half a century later, I can still see the vivid orange of the pumpkin, the deep indigo of the star-speckled sky where he lived. The…


Long Road

The road to publication has never been easy for me. None of my manuscripts were eagerly awaited by the publishing industry. I’ve never been wooed by excited agents, nor have I experienced book auctions where editors try to top each other’s offers in an effort to win publishing rights. Each of my three published novels…


You Could Be Dancing

One July day in 1518, Frau Troffea left her Strasbourg house and started to dance. She didn’t want to; it just happened. She danced frantically in the street, finally collapsing from exhaustion. Then, after a rest, she got up and danced some more. By the end of the week, at least thirty people had joined…


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