Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grandpa clothes

“Does Grandpa always wear the same clothes?” my 7-year-old granddaughter recently asked my daughter.
More here, my latest on Fathers for Good.

Just keep writing.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Give the editors what they ask for!

I pitched this article as "10 Ways" but then got too wordy and ended up with only 8 to get the word count right.
It's good to stick to word counts if you want to keep editors happy. As a magazine editor, I had freelancers submit material that was a good 50 percent above the word count. One told me, "This is longer than what you asked for but I assume it's easier for you to cut copy than have to add it.
No-o-o-o-o . . .
It's easier for me if you give me what I asked for.
Just keep writing.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Caregiver's Summer

My latest "Dear Friends" letter at That site is part of the non-profit my late wife, Monica, and I started in 2005. That's when we began the Friends of St. John the Caregiver.

Just keep writing.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Eucharistic 'Fun Facts'? Well, Kind Of

On the eve of Corpus Christi . . . my latest in Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, including the 13th-century nun who got the ball rolling for this feast.

"10 things you don't know about the Eucharist"

Just keep writing.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Write What You Know; I Know I'm Old . . . -ish

Here's the opening from a piece I did for Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, titled "Faith and fulfillment during 'Act III'":

The numbers don’t lie, but they can offer a false sense of security.
If I’m “only” 50, then I’m middle-aged, right? Yes and, probably, no.
Yes, that’s the common term for anyone that age; but no, it’s not likely you’re at the halfway point in your life. That’s in your rearview mirror.
These days, “young” can slide all the way up to 40, and it’s commonly accepted that “middle-aged” is 40 to 60. But 60-plus is ...
Uh oh.
Some say 60 to 80 is “young old.” And 80 and up is “old old.” That makes sense, and not just because those in their 80s consider those in their 60s “pups.”
But the truth is, those of us who don’t die young or middle-aged will, at some point, begin to realize — and grudgingly accept — that the curtain has opened on our personal Act III.
And there we are: center stage.
 You can find the rest here. (And speaking of rest, I believe I'll go take a little nap.)

Just keep writing.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Dining with the Little Ones

This is from an article I wrote for FathersForGood:

But when I think back to Sunday dinner with Grandma . . . When my children speak of Sunday dinner with Mom and Dad . . . There’s a feeling, a tenderness that colors everything. A love was shared between the youngest and oldest generations. The food and drink satisfied the body, but it was that loving relationship that filled the heart and soul. We all need that love at every stage of our lives.
Simply put, the first and second corporal works of mercy can be a lot more than corporal.
More here.

Just keep writing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Outlining vs. Winging It

After 40-plus years of writing books I realize I make an outline for non-fiction and pretty much wing it for fiction.

That’s because there’s little or no room for surprises in non-fiction so the research and outline matter. A lot.

But with fiction . . . For me, there’s far less chance of an entertaining story if I’m locked into a “Section I, Subsection 1, Sub-subsection A” approach. One of the great joys of novel writing is having a character suddenly say or do something you had no idea he or she was going to say or do.

(Yes, that sounds crazy. And, yes, a lot of novelists report it happening. And really liking it.)

I suppose for non-fiction it’s rely on a GPS or use a map or ask someone for specific directions.

For fiction, it’s . . . road trip!

When a Character Refuses to Obey You
This may not have happened to you yet but I wanted to put it near the beginning of this book so that you’ll recognize it when it does happen. If it happens. Don’t be frightened but there may come a time when one of your characters—even a reliable one, one you really like—will say or do something on his or her own. 
It’s . . . aliiiiiiive!
I’ll give an example. In my novel Pope Bob, two recovering alcoholic priests are talking about how their drinking influenced their lives and their ministry. The older of the two, the one who’s helping the younger, says: 
“During that particular blackout, I missed my mother’s rosary on Tuesday night and funeral on Wednesday morning. I was to be the celebrant. I was going to say the Mass. One of my sisters never forgave me and I never held that against her. She was right. Three years later she was killed in an automobile accident and hadn’t set foot in a church since Mom’s funeral. Wanted nothing to do with a religion that had a priest like me. And still I drank.” 
I, the author and creator of that character, was astounded! I had, and have, no idea where that came from. Yes, it came from me but . . . . What he shared was so sad! There’s been nothing in my life like that. Nothing I recall reading about that’s similar to it.
But there it was. 
In some ways, writing a novel is nothing more, and nothing less, than putting some people into a situation and watching them try to get out of it. And eavesdropping on them as they do it.

More on “outline or not?” at NY Book Editors here.

(Did Charles Dickens really say “stinking outline”? Well, no. The quote, about a play, is: “I am quite satisfied that nobody can have heard what I mean to do with the different characters in the end, inasmuch as at present I don’t quite know, myself.”)

Just keep writing.