I am fascinated about how and why authors start their books how and when they do.  Here are some of my current favorites:


            “Violet Collingwood had thought the tiny, windowless room where her kidnappers had held her for the past three days was the worst place she could possibly be.

            “She’d been so very wrong.”

                   Shamrock by Janie Crouch (2018)


            “The albino was not happy.”

                        Tigra II by R.J. Leahy (2018)


My Rules for Publication...and life!

As I attempted to navigate the world of independent publishing, I was asked to put forth some rules to make the journey easier for those who came afterward. 

  1. Have a plan.   If you don’t know where you’re going, you will probably never get there.  Also, it lets you know how far behind you are.

  2. Start with the end in mind.  This is a corollary to the plan, but you need to map out a specific destination.  If you don’t know how the crime is going to be solved, or how the lovers are going to overcome their differences, the story suffers.

  3. Do your homework.   I talked to lots of people when I write a book.  Some, like police officers, for specific advice, and some, like readers, to know how I am doing.  People are generous with their time, but don’t waste it.  You can look up the written procedure for a vehicle search on line and you can check Good Reads to see if someone regularly reviews books.  If you show you have done some research, they will be flattered and will answer all your dumbest questions.

  4. Talk to people.  Maybe this should have been number (3) but, after you do your homework, you will have a better idea of who to talk to.  What shortcuts are permissible and what must never be missed?  Only someone who does the task regularly can tell you that.

  5. Ask someone who knows the answer.  I thought this was obvious, but then I ran into people who had asked “all their friends” and still hadn’t found the answer.  If all your friends are visual artists, you need to find someone else to ask about quantum singularities.

  6. Be willing to revise your plan.  “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”  That quote has been attributed to a variety of people.  As has: “When I am faced with new facts, I change my mind.  What do you do?”

  7. Check references.  Even if you love their book covers, book ideas, etc., still check with people who have worked with professional that you hire.  You need to know if they respond to emails, use language you can understand, and have worked in the industry. 

  8. Keep a calendar.  On paper or on your phone or both.  Mark out the important dates and all deadlines.  I recommend you keep a paper calendar on the wall in your office as a visual reminder and a calendar on your phone for convenience.

  9. Take time to organize.  Even if it is a row of boxes marked “first book”, “second book”, “publicity” and “public speaking”.  Put everything related to that topic in the box.  It may take you five or ten minutes to go through the box, but you know everything is in there. 

  10. Reward success, or at least reward completion.  If you have completed a chapter or make phone calls to three libraries or book stores, or edited 100 pages, reward yourself.  Make it a true reward, not more work.  Take a walk or call a friend or binge watch Outlander.

  11. Remember there is an end to this.  You can become discouraged when pieces of your writing are scattered around the office (or dining room table), you know the story doesn’t flow, and you have no clean clothes because you forgot to do the wash.  Take a deep breath and remember every writer gets to this point during the process.  Pick something and do it.

  12. Say “Thank You”.  Often and in public.


My book, Niagara Fontaine, a Meredith Massachusetts Novel, has been released and is available on Amazon.     

I am making a special offer to the first ten (10) people who review my book..  Download the ebook and, if you wish, put a review on Amazon.  Then contact me (through Facebook or at my website, reference the review, and I will send you an autographed paperback copy of the book for free.  If I become famous, it will be worth a fortune; if not, it may be worth. $2.99.  I am making this offer to my friends because I know, though many of you are brutally honest, I trust that you will be kind.

Also, if you want to get previews of upcoming books, special giveaways, and Famous First Lines, please go to and sign up for my newsletter. 

If my going on and on about the book is too much for you, just ignore me and go on with your day.


My book, Niagara Fontaine, is due to be published later this month.  Over the next few weeks, I will be gushing about it posting the first few pages.  Many of my friends say I am dramatic, so I’m going with the gushing and the drama.

Here is the first exerpt:

Logan Memorial Hospital

100 Amanda Street

Meredith, Massachusetts

7:45 PM

             Perseverance is my strongest trait.  Deal with it. 

I pushed open the scratched plexiglass door of the emergency department.  Smelled ammonia and dried blood.  I jumped out of the way as a gurney rushed past.  The young woman on the gurney still had pieces of glass in her face and hair.

            Once through the door, I backed against the wall and looked around, a trait I developed when entering a room always brought uncertainty.  I spotted Kara Salem, a social worker, in the crowd.  She was short, heavy, and wore her blond hair in corkscrews.  Ridiculous hairstyle, but she insisted she couldn’t do anything else with it.

            A nurse bustled up and I read her name tag.  Important to call people by name, even if I never see them again. 

            “Hello, Ms. Johansson.  I’m Niagara Fontaine, the attorney for the Department of Children and Families.”  Then I asked the same question I ask every time.  “What can you tell me?” 

            Cecily Johansson, an RN by her name tag, played with her earring.  “Don’t know exactly when the man arrived at the hospital.”  She checked her chart.  “But at about 5:30, he walked up to the emergency registration, first time we saw him, and said he didn’t know what was wrong with the baby.  He put the girl, four months old, on the nursing desk.”   Johansson flipped a page.  “We found a hematoma on the side of her head and multiple other cuts and bruises.  Upon examination, it appeared she had been struck with a blunt object.”

            Nurse Johansson looked up.  “Or she hit a wall or some other fixture that didn’t move.  That’s why I filed the report with DCF.  The man who brought her in wouldn’t or couldn’t give any information about her injuries.”

            Another person spoke to the nurse.  She turned to me and said.  “I’ve got to go now.  Your people are over there.”   She gestured vaguely toward Kara.

            I followed the beacon of blond curls and pushed my way to Kara.  Without a greeting, she started talking.  “The child is being examined now.  We should know something soon.  That’s the man who brought her in.  Unclear if he is the father.”  She gestured toward a man in faded jeans and a Batman tee shirt. 

            The man gestured toward the woman beside him.  She also wore faded clothes, without the blood stains.  Another woman, in scrubs, stepped between them and linked her arm to the woman’s.  The man pulled on the woman’s other arm.

            “Let’s go talk to them.”  I waited for Kara to move first.  If this case went to court, I couldn’t testify since I’m the Department’s lawyer.  So, Kara needed to be present for all information collection.  Kara knew her part: the helpful social worker.  I’m the lawyer threatening court action.

            The man patted his pockets.  We both stopped.  He could be looking for his wallet.  Or his insurance card.  Or a weapon.  His eyes darted from side to side. 




Following a Dream

I am starting on a journey to become a self-published writer.  At the present time, I have three manuscripts that need work, a website, and an ambition to be published.  I don't know whether I will make my goal, but I would like to have company on my journey.  I have fellow writers who are encouraging me and some people who have volunteered to read and critique my work.

Now all I have to do is get the word out, keep up my blog, get cover art for the books, learn more about social media, stay healthy, learn about layout of covers, make sure my house doesn't look like a hoarder lives here, keep up with my paying job, revise my manuscripts, etc...

I plan to ask for one inappropriate thing a week.  And to have fun while I am doing it.

Procrastination: Making It Work for You

I procrastinate.  A lot.  Usually it works out for the best.  Everyone wants instant results.  If I didn’t answer my email or text within five minutes, my friends would start calling my family and tracking me down.  I have now trained them better.  If it’s an emergency, call me.  My mother will anyway; she knows of no other way to use a phone.  People who text or email me will wait for a response.  It’s not that I’m ignoring them, I just have something more interesting to do.


And the response you get when you say you have something more interesting to do separates your true friends from your acquaintances.  Your friends will nod, know they are important to you, and ask what you were doing that was so interesting.  So will your acquaintances, without the nod, and with added sarcasm.  Even my son knows he is not the center of my universe at all times.  Of course, I should be the center of his.  But his wife and children would disagree. 


I schedule time to be with me friends and family.  Sometimes we schedule days or weeks in advance because of everyone’s other commitments, but schedule we do.  I want my friends in my life.  My acquaintances, I procrastinate.  What seemed so important at the time of the text takes care of itself in the course of time.  Other things become priorities, outside forces intervene and solve the issue or make it less important.   I don’t remember what stuff I bought, but I remember where and when I spent time with my friends and family.


My writing awaits me.  I try to do at least two crappy pages a day, to paraphrase some more famous writer.  And I need to call my mother.  Before I do either, I procrastinate.  I think about what I will write or say, think some other time will be better, but do it anyway.  The advantage of procrastination is that you get to do the things that you want to do.