Irma and Harvey: The Long Road Home

Irma and Harvey: The Long Road Home

As I watch news of Hurricane Irma’s destructive progress across the Caribbean and southern Florida, I can’t help thinking about what will follow. Like thousands of people in Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, those in Irma’s path will soon be faced with the calmer but no less agonizing challenges of her aftermath.

Some will go home to houses that are broken but still habitable. Some will go home to rubble. Some won’t go home at all. All of this brings back memories of the day I lost my own home to a wildfire in southern California. Around 250 other houses also burned down in that fire, and hundreds more (more…)

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One Book at a Time

Last Thursday, I went to school. E.W. Griffith Elementary School, to be exact. It’s in Las Vegas, not far from downtown. When I got there, a big truck was parked right in front of the main entrance, and a bunch of excited kids had gathered nearby. The truck was from Spread the Word Nevada, and the children had obviously gotten wind of why it was there. Their school was about to become Spread the Word’s 49th “adoptee.”

Channel 8 was there, too, along with a crowd that included (more…)

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Some Famous Poetry

Some Famous Poetry, with Apologies and Thanks to the Original Artists

I created this collage of short excerpts from the works of noted poets a number of years ago for a variety show I organized. It was meant to be read aloud, but it also appeared in Writer’s Digest as a challenge to readers to identify all the original sources. However you choose to experience it, I hope you enjoy it!

‘Twas the eighteenth of April in ’75.
Hardly a man is now alive, who remembers that famous day and year
When the highwayman came riding, riding, riding…
Once upon a midnight dreary
By the shores of Gitchee Goomee (more…)

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Strings: A Love Story

Strings: The Story Behind the Story—and an invitation!

My new novel, Strings: A Love Story, will be released September 12th. That date is fast approaching, so I thought I’d write a little about what this book is about and how it came to be.

Strings is about Ted and Olivia, a pair of soul mates who meet when they are both students at a California boarding school back in the 1960s. Life gets in the way of their youthful plans to be together, but neither one ever forgets the connection they shared as teenagers.

Ted goes on to be a noted violinist, and Olivia finds success as an actor. When the unexpected appearance of (more…)

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The Writer's Block bookshop and Grouchy John's Coffee Shop

The Best Spots for Writing and Coffee in Las Vegas

Coffee Writing Club
How can any coffee-loving writer resist? The Coffee Writing Club at the Writer’s Block meets every other Sunday morning.

I’m sitting in the back room at The Writer’s Block with a handful of other people. We’re here for the Coffee Writing Club, a bi-weekly gathering of folks who assemble to drink some good coffee (generously donated by PublicUs down the street), chat, and even get some writing done. I have to drive across town for this one-hour event, and over the past couple of months, I have not missed a single session. Kind of crazy, don’t you (more…)

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Book Review: Lighthouses of America

Lighthouses of America
Lighthouses of America by Tom Beard
in association with
the United States Lighthouse Society
Hardcover / 176 pages
150 color photographs
Welcome Books
(an imprint of Rizzoli New York)
August 2017

“There is just something extraordinarily special about lighthouses.” So writes Captain Robert Desh, US Coast Guard (Retired) in the foreword of Lighthouses of America, a new book from Rizzoli New York. I could not agree with Captain Desh more. Even people who have lived in land-locked locales their entire lives and have never actually seen a lighthouse know they are enchanting. For those who live in coastal areas, they are cherished features of the skyline. The songs, stories, and art that lighthouses have inspired is woven into our collective consciousness as thoroughly as any (more…)

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Here and Now

Setting a Story in the Present and Other Moving Targets

I learned the hard way that setting a story in the “right here and right now” is not as easy as it sounds. Sure, it’s simple to set the stage, because you’ve chosen a place and time that’s all around you. What does a house look like? Just peek out the window and start describing. What slang should your characters use? Go to an airport or coffee shop and eavesdrop. Same goes for clothing, cars, (more…)

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favorite books

What’s Your Favorite Book?

It is not surprising, I suppose, that I’ve been queried about this a number of times since my “debut” novel came out. “What’s your favorite book?” is a common interview question, along with “How long have you been writing?” and “Where do you get your ideas?” Common, however, does not make it easy. I love the Odyssey and Jane Eyre and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. I’ve loved everything Robertson Davies wrote, and I’m a Michael Connelly fan. I adore Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Which do I like the most? If I try to pick one, I feel like the (more…)

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Las Vegas Follies: Vintage Vegas is Alive and Laughing

Saturday night in Las Vegas used to mean rhinestones and feathers on the Strip, but, just like the Stardust itself, the days of sparkling lovelies in enormous headdresses are gone. Luckily for those who miss those glitzy shows, impresario Rich Rizzo is still around. He choreographed “Lido de Paris” at the Stardust and “Jubilee!” at Bally’s. Those glamorous revues are now forever dark, but that hasn’t stopped Rizzo. Saturday night, I took in “Rhythm,” the latest production of Rizzo’s “Las Vegas Follies” at the Starbright (more…)

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