Warning: Novel in Progress

With more than 40,000 words written, I think it’s safe to reveal that I’m working another another book.

It’s not a mystery like my previous novel, Murder in Ocean Hall.

Instead, it’s a satire called Don’t Mess Up My Block. My novel is a parody of self-help tomes like Who Moved My Cheese.

The story is told by Laurent Christ, a management consultant and life coach from the plains of North Dakota. A late-night encounter with a hooker (who tells him to get lost) becomes his core philosophy, one that he applies successfully to life and work.

Aren’t we all afflicted with people or situations that are “messing up our block”? Whether it’s a nagging spouse or an annoying boss, wouldn’t we be more effective without them?

From the swankiest of CEO sanctums to the bowels of government, Laurent leads us in a misfortune-plagued journey through the world of work in America today. A creature of his own invention, he always comes out ahead, while leaving his clients in misery.

The book was inspired by the self-help genre, this popular and peculiarly American phenomena. If Mark Twain were alive today, he’d probably be writing a book on getting organized.

Excerpts from this book have already been published, as stand-alone stories:

Don’t Mess Up My Block
Thirty First Bird Review
Laurent goes to Africa and destabilizes a whole country.

Boom and Bust
SPLIT Quarterly
Shareholders are angry and only Laurent can save a desperate executive.

I’m diligently working on the book right now. Look for it on a Nook or Kindle later this summer!


The National Museum of Women in the Arts – Not Just for Women

The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) is one of those museums that even long-time Washingtonians aren’t aware of. It’s not on the Mall, it charges admission and with only a small sign marking its location on New York Avenue, it’s easy to overlook.

I had never been inside until invited by Michelle Cragle, the Communications Director at the museum. A former Masonic temple, NMWA is an architectural wonder. And it has some fascinating artistic treasures of interest to any gender. You don’t need to be a woman to visit the museum, as I wrote in a guest post for NMWA.

Cheating at Golf Published in Story Bleed Magazine

The Great Recession has changed the lives of millions. Jobs have been lost, people have been kicked out of their homes, retirement nest eggs have disappeared. Worse than the economic damage, however, has been the loss of hope in the future. Optimism has been replaced by worry and fear.

Which is what my short story, Cheating at Golf, is all about. Published in Story Bleed Magazine, an online literary journal, this is a dark tale set in sunny Florida. In it, an escape to a golf course brings no relief to a man’s troubles.


New Article: How Do You Measure PR?

The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations thusly:

“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

Which is just an awful definition, reeking of the stale conference room and whiteboards crowded with b-school jargon. Merriam-Webster has a slightly better explanation:

the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution

PR is about getting the word out about your product, cause or service. I’d consider myself a semi-professional PR practitioner, busy trying to “induce” the public to do something increasingly unknown in 21st century America: read a book. And not just any book. My book, fiction, of all things, by an unknown author.

So, I’m always interested in new ways of “inducing” (why not just say “persuading”?) the public. I attended a session on movie marketing put on by the DC Film Salon. A pair of PR stars gave a presentation on how they got the word out about indie films, including some creative tactics like having screenings for “tastemakers.”

But the room was filled with cash-poor independent filmmakers. How could they afford these PR services? And, moreover, would this be a good use of their limited funds? I asked if there was any way to connect the parties and screenings to the most important metric of all – ticket sales. But there’s no way to accurately measure the impact of PR.

Which is what inspired me to write How Do You Measure PR? It’s on the blog FlackRabbit, published by my friend Margie Newman, who is perhaps the smartest PR person I know. We’ll see what answers her readers come up with.

New Article: How to Get Your Movie in DC Festivals

Want to see your short film included in a festival like DC Shorts, DCIFF or Rosebud? Then check out my article for the Pink Line Project on how to get your movie in local festivals.

It could even lead to the Oscars! God of Love won the 2011 Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short. But before that, it won the Audience Choice Award at DC Shorts.

New Article: Lessons from The West Wing

Check out my article, Lessons from The West Wing, in the Austin-based literary journal, Black Heart Magazine. It’s about a trip I took to the set of The West Wing during its final season of filming. I got to go for winning the Film DC Screenwriting Competition for my feature-length script, Mount Pleasant.

While behind the scenes of this iconic TV series, I learned that the entertainment world isn’t so glamorous. On the other side of the bright lights, it’s a business like any other.

Adventures in Book Marketing

I wrote a short piece for FlackRabbit on my adventures in book marketing. Last year, I published a book, Murder in Ocean Hall, using the awesome CreateSpace.

Why publish it myself? Because the traditional publishing model is broken and it takes a year to get a book in print, even after it’s been accepted by a publisher. Being a web person, that struck me as a crazy and unnecessarily long time.

The downside, of course, is that you have to do your own marketing. However, that’s been a good learning experience, which I write about in the FlackRabbit article.