Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve

Roppongi, Tokyo, on New Year's Eve
Among other things, I am writing a detective series that takes place in Tokyo. The first novel, "Be Careful What You Ask For," centers on a much-admired Tokyo police inspector being forced to confront his ties to a crime family while investigating a murder in Roppongi.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Building community of readers and writers

After having a Facebook account for 3+ years and connecting to family, friends and former coworkers, I wondered what I really could accomplish with the thing. I knew it would come in handy when the day came I actually had a book published, but I didn't want to use my own site for that. I plan on having a separate site for anything that has to do with writing and publishing.

But something happened as I delved deeper into social media and waded through the many sites that offer all types of advice on going legacy, going indie, becoming a brand, building a following -- jeez. All I wanted to do was try to get a handle on this stuff.

And Facebook. One of the things that intimidated me when it came to 'friending' on Facebook was, heck, I don't know these people. Why would I want to friend them? And they friend me?

And then Twitter came along, and I realized that becoming a citizen of the Web meant introductions were in order. So how was I going to introduce myself? As a journalist? An editor? A traveler? A veteran? No: I got into all this because the time had come to get my fiction published. It was time to introduce myself as a writer.

And then it all clicked: I was following writers on Twitter, making friends on Goodreads, so when I see that those people have a Facebook account, how about 'friending' them on FB, and .... what?  They don't know me. I don't know them.  But there's one thing we have in common: a love of reading and a love of writing.


So I started the process of finding friends, and the really cool people who accepted, found out the reason why I was contacting them when I was 'invited' to write on their 'wall.' This is what I write: Thank you for helping me build a community of readers and writers.

And now I am friends with novelists, poets, writing instructors, all kinds of people who care about words and reading and books, and it's not for the purpose of selling, for getting a review, for reminding folks of a buy-it-now sale. Now I feel like I'm friends people from across the country and around the world who love writing and ideas and are helping me build a community of readers and writers. To share stuff. To get turned on to new stuff. To remind folks of good stuff already out there.

And I think that's pretty cool.

If you like this idea, just find me at
and if you like, follow me on Twitter

Hope to see ya soon.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quick Hits No. 9

In previous posts about writing, I've focused on the how, not the why. This post by Norma Jean Lutz I found on the Be A Novelist web site hit home for me. Among many other terrific things, she relays what Albert Einstein had to say about stories:

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

What came immediately to me was Aesop's Fables, Grimm's Fairy Tales, Peter Rabbit: stories that capture the imagination and along the way, leave gems of truth and awareness that sit in one's subconscious, to emerge at (hopefully) times that amplified their worth. When I discovered I could learn about the world by reading stories written from far off lands, in things called newspapers and magazines, that notion already had a home to go to, thanks to stories already in my mind.

It's only natural to want to attempt to recreate what one has seen and appreciated all one's life. Draw a picture, build a sand castle, tell a story: all of these potentially wild flights of the imagination are what gives life a certain je ne sais quoi  I know I could not live without.

Lutz asks the question 'Does a story have any practical use?' Good question, in these technological times. But we as a people have always been tellers of stories. So it's only natural that some of us satisfy that itch that can only be scratched by not just telling a story, but writing it down and sharing it.

Now, about that getting up in the morning thing ...

See ya next week!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Detective novel continued 3

      Here are a few more scenes from the detective novel I'm writing:
       (previous posts can take you back to the beginning. It's worth it!)


        A clamor unusual for Roppongi after midnight began to swell outside the jazz club, and as Sato and Endo entered in the vestibule, ready to go, Endo wondered what the buzzing sound was. He got his answer when they opened the front door and found themselves in the midst of a throng of reporters and photographers. The uniformed officers had been able to corral the scrum off to one side, but were overmatched once Endo and Sato appeared.
        Endo saw the reporters make a rush to corner Sato, and he tried to put himself between the Sato and the crowd to forge ahead to the police cars. Sato pushed his way forward as he announced the department would be issuing a release soon, to check with the usual people there. One glance back at Sato and Endo could see the disappointment in his eyes.
        “Who died?” a young, well-dressed woman shouted as she thrust a microphone at Sato.
        Sato ignored her.
        “Who died, officer?” she repeated.
        “We are notifying the victim’s relatives so I have nothing to say,” Sato replied.
        “We heard it was a waitress,” she asked. “A university student.”
        Endo turned toward her voice and saw the face that went with it: a strikingly pretty face, framed by an expensive haircut, and as he glanced down at the rest of her, he could see she was dressed too well to be a newspaper stiff working in the middle of the night. He pegged her as young, ambitious and out for a big story. She must have scored a tip on what happened at the Down Low. She had an ANK TV sticker on her microphone. He looked for television cameras, and saw more than he cared for.
        The woman glanced at Endo but turned her attention back to Sato. She saw he was looking directly at her.
        "There will be a press release soon," Sato quietly replied as he struggled to get through the scrum; the officers were outnumbered, the sea of bodies quite unwilling to yield.
        "What about the girl?” the young woman shouted. “She was a student at Waseda?”
        Sato then realized the woman may have been one of the customers, or knew someone who had been inside.
        “How did she wind up in a back alley?” she shouted. “Do you have any suspects?"
        "There will be a press release in a little while," Sato repeated as he followed Endo, who finally managed to force an opening in the crowd.
        Encouraged by the eye contact, the woman elbowed her way past two reporters an quickly stepped in front of Sato.
“Were there any foreigners involved? Everyone knows the club attracts many foreigners. And GIs.”
        “The press release …” Sato began.
        The crowd then pushed in on him, spinning him around as the woman’s voice shouted: "Was it a gangster killing?" He saw Sato ever so briefly stop and stare at her.
        “Were any yakuza involved?” she shouted, pushing ahead, sure she had Sato’s attention. “The place is supposed to be owned by Jun Fujimori. Ses Fujimori’s son. Is he a suspect?”
        “No…” Sato began, but the reporter saw the flicker of recognition in Sato’s eyes. Ses Fujimori, boss of a crime syndicate entrenched in all levels of business, politics, government. A man with a world-class mind who started as a gifted safe cracker and bank robber before moving up to gambling rackets. Once Ses’ father, Key, cultivated his gifts of leadership, there was no stopping him. The millions he extorted during construction boom in Shinjuku made Fujimori wealthier than he could have imagined.
        And as a child, Ses was Sato’s closest friend. It was a friendship Sato spent years hiding from the department, especially the one time he went to Ses for help in arresting one of his men. Ses agreed, knowing Sato would be in his debt, a fact never far from Sato’s mind.
        The reporter heard the briefest of catches in Sato’s voice before he recovered and muttered something about the news release before turning away.
        The reporter knew she had something.
        So did Endo.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Emily's Secret

Chapter Two
        With Emily laid out in the funeral home’s basement and Earl in the kitchen of Ross’ apartment, reluctant to enter his empty home as the end of that awful day drew near, Ross still dreaded making that phone call. It was to Earl’s sister, Ann. He loved his niece and in some ways was a mentor to her, but as Ann grew older, they grew apart, for no reason other than the different lives people have, with little common ground besides blood.
Still, Ann was the closest relative not just to Earl, but also to Emily, whose immediate family was all dead and whose in-laws never bothered to make the attempt to keep in touch. During Ann’s rare visits to Connor she spent most of her time with Emily, with Earl so busy with the funeral home.
As his aged crooked finger gently ran down a list of numbers in small black book, Ross peered at Ann’s name, still Taylor, and the exotic address, some Rue or another, in some place in Paris, France. Ross began dialing a number. The ringing began, and continued for some time before he heard a faint ‘hello?’     
Earl spent the night on the bedding he placed on the floor, unable to sleep in the bed he shared with Emily. He spent most of the night unaware of being awake or asleep, except for when he dressed and went downstairs to the living room to acknowledge his neighbors’ sympathy. It was possible the entire town of Connor turned out to pay its respect to Emily Taylor. Visitation was two nights for four hours each, and both nights the funeral home on State and Elm overflowed with folks wanting to offer some word of kindness to Earl and Ann and Ross.
The Episcopal church was packed for her funeral service. The procession to the cemetery was 35 cars long and the crowd at the graveside service numbered over 500, according to Dave Weisbrodt, who was there with his brothers and a cousin, all policemen and close friends of the Taylor family.
Emily Taylor wasn’t particularly religious but she did attend Episcopalian services somewhat regularly, sang with deep reverence, and knew the music by heart. The rector said she would be remembered as someone who always gave of her time to any cause no matter how small. Many mourners from all over Connor were there because of a kindness she showed during some time of need, and most of the time it had nothing do with the funeral home or the church, or the women’s aid committees and other charitable groups. Everyone who knew her knew she took a personal interest in nearly everyone in Connor. No one ever had anything bad to say about Emily Taylor.
Earl’s shock and grief were still too deep within him to rightly acknowledge the outpouring of love and kindness folks showed for Emily. He spent most of those hours nodding his head, tilting it to one side, rubbing a handkerchief under his nose, and throwing pleading looks at Ross  whenever he felt truly overwhelmed. Despite soldiering on at the funeral home and maintaining his poise during the services, he was numb, and his soul had a perpetual raw, nagging ache.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Quick Hits No 8

To recap: Quick Hits writing tips was born from conversations I have had with editors, writers, and wanna-be writers and about writing a story, any story: how to start, how to follow through,  and what it takes to get the idea on paper in a way that others understand.

I know for most writers it's all very elementary, but who among us has had a an idea waiting to be hatched, a story to be told, and then, wham! We act like we've never written our name?

Thanks today goes to Mary O Paddock's tweet (@MaryOPaddock) about writing advice given by Christopher Moore, via her blog Jumping Off Cliffs. Moore is the author of Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. I have never read it, nor have I ever heard of Christopher Moore. But upon reading his advice to writer's, that's all going to change.
Here's a link:

If anyone would like to comment on this or any other posting in the blog, please feel free. I'm looking forward to reading what you have to say.
See you next time!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Emily's Secret

Emily’s Secret

Chapter One

        Had Emily Taylor known she was going to die that morning, perhaps she would have told her husband the news she had been too stunned to tell before then. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to tell Earl, it’s just that she could hardly believe it herself. She had decided to wait awhile and let it all sink in, the notion that a novel she had written was going to be published. The letter from the publisher was so unexpected it didn’t seem quite real. She sent the manuscript in on a lark, after all. 
If she had known she was going to die that morning it’s possible she would not have spent any time weeding the flower beds, but there she was: she loved gardening. It felt purposeful, pulling out weeds by the roots, checking under leaves for bugs, spying the latest garter snake on the perimeter of the lawn.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quick Hits No. 7

OK, today is a master class.

Here's what John Steinbeck had to say about writing.
Special thanks to Maria Popova @brainpicker.

I especially like #2.

See you next week!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quick Hits No. 6

In my posts about writing, I have been focusing on getting started: think about it and get it on paper. Ask yourself some questions, answer them in your head, then get the words on paper. Today I'd like to share this with you:

“When you write a story, you're telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

At my first writer's conference, I heard "writing is rewriting." It has stayed with me to this day. Trained as a journalist, I am used to the notion of get it out, get it right, but get it out. Writers without daily deadlines, once they get whatever it is they want on paper, treat those words as if they belong in a museum. That's a good way to never get anything done. The next step is just what King says: "(take) out all the things that are not the story."

Every word you write won't be a part of the final product. That's OK. It's not the words you start with, but the words you end with that count.

See you next week.