Southern Writers Magazine Giveaway


I’m excited to announce my workbook, Creative Characterization, is being offered as part of a giveaway sponsored by Southern Writers Magazine.

Discover your characters’ secretes using exercises in this workbook, many I used to develop characters like Sachi, Nobu and Terrence from my historical fiction, The Red Kimono:

• Interviewing
• Describing Photos and Paintings
• Writing Letters
• Writing in a Different Point of View
• and more!

Click HERE by January 31 to enter!

Good luck!


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Haiku: The Power of Brevity


I had the privilege of writing about one of my favorite topics in the January/February issue of Southern Writers Magazine – haiku!

I love to write haiku just for the sake of writing haiku. I even have a separate blog dedicated to the Japanese poetry form — Life: Haiku by Haiku.

But did you know there are many ways haiku can help you with other writing? I describe several techniques I’ve used in this month’s issue. Here’s a clip:


If you’d like to read more and are not a current subscriber, I highly recommend Southern Writers for their consistently helpful articles in each bi-monthly issue. For more information on subscriptions, please click HERE.

And of course, if you have any questions on any of these techniques, feel free to leave a comment!

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Naughty or Nice?


Remember the lyrics to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town?”

He’s making a list
And checking it twice;
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

And remember how nice you tried to be, especially around Christmas time, lest you be left off of Santa’s list?

Well, just for fun, I made a list of the nice and naughty things I did this year:


  • I tried to see things through others’ eyes.
  • I practiced “letting go.”
  • I posted more positive stories than negative stories.
  • I joined a sprinting group, which has greatly increased my daily word count—from pretty much ZERO over the last several months to 800-1200 words per day.
  • I planned a surprise trip to New York for Steve’s 60th birthday.

The nicest thing I did all year: In a year filled with raw emotions, I was (outwardly 🙂 ) respectful toward those with whom I disagreed. (And when I couldn’t be, I kept my mouth shut.) Benefit: In almost every instance, the person with whom I disagreed also responded respectfully.


  • I didn’t always speak up when I wanted to. (In fact, that happened too often. I don’t like conflict.)
  • I was not always as compassionate as I should have been.
  • I was often too distracted by social media to fulfill goals—like writing more and reading more.
  • I was a news junkie.
  • I didn’t exercise as much as I should have. (But I have a new FitBit, and that helps!)
  • I didn’t call my dad as much as I should have. Nor did I visit Santa Fe or Tulsa as much as I should have.

The naughtiest thing I did all year: Well, of course, I can’t tell you that. 🙂 Haha! Just kidding. Not sure about naughty, but one of my biggest flaws is my tendency to overthink and assume instead of living in the moment. Consequence: Often, in hindsight, the concerns/fears wrought by my “assumptions” never came to fruition. And I may never know what new experiences I missed because my “overthinking” prevented me from doing something.

All I can say is, I must have been on Santa’s “Nice” list, because a little elf told me he’s bringing me something very nice this Christmas. But, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

What’s on your Naughty or Nice list this year?

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Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea

I have lots of favorite Christmas carols, like “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which I wrote about for Advent Day 3.

But a few days ago, I was thinking that there aren’t many new Christmas songs I like. Maybe it’s because of all the memories gathered over the decades of my life that were surrounded by the old standards.

But there are a couple of new Christmas songs I like, and one that always comes to mind is Chris Rea’s “Driving Home for Christmas.”

Its mix of words and melody brings back the feeling of trips home I’ve made–the anticipation of “getting my feet on the holy ground.”

Do you have a favorite contemporary Christmas song?

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Christmas with Snoopy and Woodstock

snoopy1I’ve always been attracted to dioramas. Perhaps it’s because they often flip on my imagination switch.

One of my favorite dioramas is the one on the left. Every Christmas, when it comes out of its box in my son’s attic, I imagine the story in the scene.


Today, I decided to write a tiny little fiction to go with this tiny diorama:

scene1 scene2 scene3 snoopy1scene4May you be surrounded by the love of friends this Christmas!

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