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Blog: Born to Write 

ASJA Conference Underscores the Importance of Meeting in Person

Old friends, new friends, Facebook friends, Goodreads friends...I am beginning to think I know the whole world! Last Thursday, as a panelist at the annual conference of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), I was surprised by the number of familiar faces in the audience at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan.  Read More 

Where Do Characters Come From?

"Are the characters in your novel based on real people?" I am asked this nearly every day. My late mother-in-law is the inspiration for the character, Jackie a.k.a. Miss Dreamsville, and my husband inspired the character of her son, Jude, at age 11. Everyone else is invented. Where on earth do these characters  Read More 

Writing Tip: Crafting a Speech

My Dad is a retired marketing executive at General Electric, and he used to tell me that a good speech is constructed of three parts: "First, tell the audience what you're going to say. Second, say it. Third, tell them what you just said." When he gave me this advice for the first time,  Read More 

On Being Labeled a "Woman" Author

I've noticed that Wikipedia has decided to put my Wiki bio in four separate categories. The first is "1958 births." Well, thanks a lot Wikipedia! (Just kidding - the year of my birth is all over the Internet anyway, thanks to Contemporary Authors and other sources.) The second category is "Living people." Well, that's always  Read More 

The Non-Stop Editor

This will sound strange to the non-writers out there, but I am constantly editing the written word in my mind, everywhere I go. Menus, signs, instructions - nothing escapes me. Misspellings don't bother me too much, and I'm not a perfectionist about grammar. What bothers me is when the language is not clear. Especially  Read More 

Reading is the Answer

My sister has two daughters. One is finishing her Master's in Social Work at the University of Chicago, where she earned her undergraduate degree as well. The other, who has just finished her degree in Applied Psychology at New York University, has applied to graduate schools and will have to choose between Columbia University,  Read More 

Family Archives: Getting Started, Part III

Sometimes family memorabilia gets put on a shelf and abandoned because it's too much for one person to tackle. Too often, one person in an extended family is appointed as the unofficial family historian, with generations of family archives ending up in that person's house. This is not good for a number of reasons,  Read More 

Family Archives: Getting Started, Part II

You have boxes and boxes of family documents, photographs, and other memorabilia. You'd like to do a family history but you don't know where to start. The first step, as I wrote in my previous post, is to properly store the material in archival-quality boxes. At least, you'll be keeping it safe for another  Read More 

Family Archives: Getting Started, Part I

The good news is that your great-aunt Martha saved boxes of diaries, documents, photos and other family memorabilia. The bad news is that you don't know what to do with it all. This seems to be a common problem. Readers often ask me how to go about organizing family memorabilia into book form. Most  Read More 

An Ode to Dairy Queen

Everyone knows what it's like to return to their hometown and find that things have changed, but consider my husband's experience. He grew up in Naples, Florida. In 1962, there were 800 year-round residents. Many of the roads were not even paved. Today there are 325,000 people living in Collier County. My husband can't even find his  Read More