Many writers of fiction are pathologically insecure.  They are doubters, second-guessers, Monday-morning quarterbacks, and pessimists. Their literary glass is always half empty.  To survive, novelists must develop a thick skin. They take criticism badly, mostly because they are their own worst critics.  Thus, I am not a big fan of writers’ critique groups.  I had a particularly bad experience once. I found myself at the first meeting being lavishly praised by one participant and unmercifully shredded by another. I might have weathered that, but both had read the same book! One thought I had real talent. The other thought I had real nerve publishing such drivel. Neither offered suggestions. Just gushes or scorn. I left, never to return.  I believe that neither critique had merit, since neither person had written a book. They wanted to be novelists. A writers’ group of published authors might be more valuable. They are likely to be more circumspect in their comments, good or bad.


No, this isn’t about my golf game. (For those that are interested, my handicap is now 26 and rising faster than ocean levels. Pretty soon, I’ll be getting strokes on the practice range!) I’m talking about fore shadowing, fore boding, fore telling and fore warning. I once saw an interview with Sidney Sheldon, who according to Wikipedia is “the king of the potboilers” and “the seventh-best-selling fiction writer of all time”. Sheldon, who didn’t start writing fiction until he was 50 and died at 90 in 2007, said that he started with an idea but never knew where his books were going. He added that he liked to write himself into corners, and then write himself out of them.  That’s basically how I do it and that’s where the “foreshadowing, foreboding, foretold and forewarning” come in, since I don’t want my readers to be lost, too. I use computer-writing software called Scrivener, which allows me to put chapters, research, ideas, scenes and odd thoughts (of which I have many) on electr


  I’ve written in the past about books I love and books in my personal library (which are often the same). But I don’t think I’ve penned a column about tomes I can’t live without. Now, because I’m moving, I must. I HAD an extensive collection. But moving a long distance can be quite expensive. (My last move was basically across the street. I took everything but the kitchen sink.) One of the first things people (on the internet, of course) tell you is to ditch books, which weigh a lot and take up space in the moving van. (An aside: I am a devoted digital self-publisher. I have more than 30 thrillers, mysteries, and anthologies on Amazon as e-books. But I am also a devoted reader of print books, and all of my novels have print versions on Amazon, and many are also available through Barnes & Noble.) I’m no Nazi. I can’t just throw away books. Even those I haven’t read in 30 years and have dust jackets that are, well, dusty. It’s not that I haven’t given away books in the past. The loc


Some people have suggested that modern technology has made the traditional private eye – the dogged hero of so many wonderful novels and films – largely irrelevant. In this era of smart phones, the Internet, GPS and drones, how hard is it to nail your cheating spouse? Your next-door neighbor’s kid could probably get the goods for you. OK. You may not want the little snot to know your personal business, so you might hire a private detective (or, more likely, an “investigative service” with dozens of ex-cop operatives working on their fifth and sixth pensions). What used to take 50 pages in a thriller now takes a few strokes on a keyboard. Case closed. Here’s your bill. It’s unlikely that the electronic “detective” will uncover the obligatory murder or other mayhem that would fill out the other 150 pages. It’s hard to stumble over a dead body when looking at a computer screen.      Moreover, if there are any crimes, the super-sleuth police detectives working at the city, state and Fe
I am often asked if a novelist should inject his or her political leanings in a book. There is no easy answer other than to say nothing should stop the flow of a narrative.  Most readers are interested in murder and sex. It would be highly inappropriate for a couple locked in a steamy sexual encounter to stop what they are doing to reflect on the mid-term elections.   Sometimes an author has to give a character an unpalatable opinion, usually in a conversation. Such conversations define the character as a racist, a bigot, a chauvinist, a sexist pig, ax murderer, pederast, serial killer, or even a Red Sox fan.   But authors don't inhabit an ethical vacuum. My protagonists are basically moral people, who usually know right from wrong and are offended by injustice. When they offer an opinion, you can be pretty sure it’s one I hold. Interestingly enough, some of the villains in my books also have a moral code, and I like them to express it on occasion.  In fact, I think that coming fro
Here, in no particular order, are wells of inspiration that have “inspired” me. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE:  Yes, I know. Many authors, even those who write vampire novels, weave personal experiences into their work. Hopefully, not too personal, since there are laws against sucking blood from people, unless you work for the IRS. In my case, all my books are heavily grounded in my past as a police reporter, columnist, financial editor, corporate executive, director of a nonprofit, sex therapist, and various other personas—basically someone who couldn’t hold down a steady job. (I made the sex therapist thing up, by the way; just wanted to see if you’re paying attention.) TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES:  TCM runs a lot of black-and-white movies from the mid-1930s starring great actors with plots that somehow predate the use of LSD. I do not  steal  the plots, but they do send my mind racing. There was one film in which Fredric March or William Powell (it was early, and the coffee hadn’t kicked in yet
This year marks  the 50th anniversary of “The Godfather”. There are plenty of “Godfather” reminiscences, but I think mine are unique. I was a reporter for the Staten Island Advance when director Francis Ford Coppola brought his crew to the borough's posh Emerson Hill neighborhoods to film several scenes of the movie. The location was at the dead end of Longfellow Avenue, and the film’s staging area — where equipment, costumes, and the like were stored at night — was about a mile away at what was then Staten Island Community College. I was very familiar with Longfellow Avenue because one of my pals, Ed Maloy, lived almost adjacent to the compound where “The Godfather” wedding scene was shot. The Maloy lawn was commandeered by the film crew for equipment brought up from the college. The family was heavily compensated for the length of the shoot, which I recall lasted a full week. Also, a year earlier, I had attended a real wedding reception in the “Godfather” house and compound when