So you can read my books

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


No, not mirror writing ... unless you're left handed.

Why did Leonardo Da Vinci write in backward or mirror image style?

I never believed that Leonardo's writing had anything to do with secrets or mystery writing.

He was such a creative, innovative person, he wrote the way he did because it was easier and possibly less "messy".

Leonardo was left handed.

If you have ever watched a left handed person write you will see that in order to be able to read what they have written,

as they write it, they "curl" their hand around what they have written. This allows them to see what they are writing.

So I believe Leonardo simply devised the Backward Writing because it worked for him.

Truly a practical and ingenious way to write his thoughts quickly and without mess. 

And obviously, he had no problem reading what he had written.

That's it. No big secret and deep dark mystery.

Just a good example of how Leonardo was someone who could "think outside the box". 

As you must think outside the box if you are to write something original.

You see, even if the original novel you write does not sell, you have not sold out the most valuable thing you have ... yourself.

What made this illegitimate son of a peasant girl and a notary become one of the most famous artists, inventors and scientists who ever lived?

His energy was limitless when it came to asking questions and searching for answers, and

he was the master of observation which led to more questions and discoveries.

He had an insatiable desire to learn as much as he could about everything he observed, and he took meticulous notes.

He even described himself as a "disciple of experience" which meant he learned from experiencing, experimenting and observing everything he came in contact with.

So must you be a disciple of experience if you would write "true" fiction even if it is a tale of utter fantasy. 

If the reader believes your protagonist, then she/he will flow seamlessly into the adventure no matter how fantastic ... if the logic of the heart rings true.


1.) Curiosità.

Curiosità is an "insatiably curious approach to life and unrelenting quest for continuous learning". Great minds have one characteristic in common: they continuously ask questions throughout their lives.

Leonardo's endless quest for truth and beauty clearly demonstrates this.

What makes great minds different is the quality of their questions. You can increase your ability to solve problems by increasing your ability to ask good questions.

Like da Vinci, you should cultivate an open mind that allows you to broaden your universe and increase your ability to explore it.



Bring a journal wherever you go and use it often. Write your ideas and thoughts there. Try to write several statements a day that start with "I wonder why/how..."


Observe according to a theme. Choose a theme and observe things according to the theme for a day.

 For example, let's say you choose "communication". For the entire day, observe every type and instance of communication you come across. You can then record your observations in your journal.

Stream of consciousness exercise. Pick a question and write the thoughts and associations that occur to you as they are. Don't edit them. The important thing is to keep writing. This is also referred to as freewriting.

3.) Dimostrazione.
Dimostrazione is "a commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes".
Wisdom comes from experience and the principle of Dimostrazione helps you get the most out of your experience. Here are some ways to apply Dimostrazione:
Next, take a distant view of your belief (for example, as if you live in a different culture) and review it.
Finally, find friends who can give you different perspectives.

Analyze the advertisements that affect you.

Look at the advertisements in your favorite magazine and analyze the strategy and tactics they use. Find the advertisements that affect you most and find out why.


List the names of some people whose mistakes you want to avoid.
Learn from them so that you won't encounter the same pitfalls.

4.) Sensazione.

Sensazione is "the continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience".

According to da Vinci, we can best practice Dimostrazione through our senses, particularly sight.

That's why one of Leonardo's mottoes is saper vedere (knowing how to see) upon which he built his work in arts and science.
Here are some ways to apply Sensazione:

  • Write detailed description of an experience. For instance, describe your experience of watching a sunrise in your journal.

  • Learn how to describe a smell.

  • Learn to draw.  Even if it is badly.

  • Listen to different sounds around you.

  • Learn to listen to different intensity of sounds from the softest (e.g. your breathing) to the loudest (e.g. traffic).

  • Live in the moment. Practice mindfulness.

  • 5.) Cryptic.

    Cryptic is "a willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty".

    An essential characteristic of da Vinci's genius is his ability to handle a sense of mystery. Here are two ways to apply Cryptic:

  • Befriend ambiguity.

  • Not knowing something does not make it ambiguous! It is when you DO know something but its meaning is indeterminate.

  • Ask yourself questions that relate two opposites.

  • For example, ask yourself how your happiest and saddest moments are related.  You will be surprised at your findings.

  • Practice the Socratic method.

  • The goal with the Socratic method is to examine possibilities, and that is done by asking questions, not by giving answers.

    Socrates was known (and criticized) for asking questions to which he didn't have answers.

    The key to using the Socratic method is to be humble.

    Don't assume that you or anyone knows anything for sure. Question every premise.


    How will this improve your writing?

    Imagine your heroine can't remember when she hasn't been able to ...

    A.) Taste colors
    B.) Not laugh when exposed to lies.

    Harmless right?

    No, she begins to have indigestion and hysterical laughter in front of forgeries in the art museum.

    She begins to earn a living until ...

    the intelligence agencies the world over hunt her for her skill at detecting lies and

    the terrorist organizations the world over want her dead.

    Then, an old crone said she once traded the heroine those deadly gifts in return for her earliest memory.

    Does the heroine want to un-do the trade?

    Let the author of WALL-E
    tell you how to craft

    Monday, December 5, 2016


    I know how hard it is to find time to write during the holidays!

    16 hours of straight rare blood runs for over 400 miles yesterday 

    left me too wiped but to collapse and sleep for 16 hours on my precious day off!

    But holiday writing can be done.

    Today, I helped McCord and Meilori end the Civil War ... alternate history is so much fun ...

    But not so much for Sherman and Jefferson Davis

     (did you know his personal slave, William Jackson, slipped secrets of the Confederacy to the North?)

    Sometimes the truth is more fantastic than fiction.

    But I digress ...


    Any words written now should be considered a victory.  Reward yourself for them.

     By removing the pressure of trying to beat the clock, you’ll free yourself to see your productivity in a new way. 

    Also, give yourself a little slack this time of year.


    Be flexible.  

    Take an inventory of any free time:

     your lunch hour,

    the time you spend waiting for your children during holiday pageant rehearsals,

     sitting in an airport waiting for your flight—you get the idea. 

    Use this downtime to write. 

    And since this “found” time doesn’t take away from any other holiday tasks you need to accomplish, 

    you’ll be less likely to feel guilty about working on your writing projects.


    Think you can only write at your favorite desk?


    Bring a laptop, a tablet, or a pen and paper with you as you run your holiday errands. 

    When you find you’ve arrived somewhere early,

     use those few extra minutes to jot down ideas or to continue working on an ongoing writing project.

    You can also decide to wake up earlier (or stay up later) than usual to ensure 

    that you spend some time at your favorite desk, with your favorite hot cocoa, and no interruptions.


     You’ve got five bags of holiday gifts in one hand and a platter of holiday goodies in the other hand. 

    How are you supposed to type or hold a pen to write?

     With a dictation program for your computer or app for your cell phone, writing can be virtually hands-free!


     Look at marathon runners: they don’t begin their training by trying to run 26.2 miles. 

    Instead, they run many shorter distances to build stamina, and slowly increase the mileage as they get stronger. 

    Why would you start writing a book by trying to write the entire book?

    Writing in 15 minute stages in the morning, then in the afternoon, and finally in the evening hours can get a lot of writing done per day.

    Saturday, December 3, 2016


    The magic memories of Christmas that most of us treasure are unique to each of us.

    Yet, sometimes clarity comes only upon reflection. 

    We get so caught up with the tugs and pulls of the season that we miss the truly priceless people and moments. 

    If we but reflect we will see that 

    We were blind to the love healing us and holding us tight in the arms, words, and actions of those we too often took for granted.


    we were innocent enough to see fairies dancing upon frosted lake surfaces, 

    to taste the falling snow, 

    and to laughingly make snow-angels.

    As adults the world is too much with us. 

    Yet, The Great Mystery has given us one month out of 12 to see the world as the child we once were, 

    the child we can once again be if only we put down the hates and anguish that only harm us anyway.

    If the yellow, green, red, and blue lights don’t twinkle with their normal festive happiness 

    and instead glower like warning beacons, it is the mind that views them that has changed.

    The magic is still there, waiting for the child you once were to believe in it again.

    By years of Hurt and Anger, you have closed the door to it. 

    But each time you smile to a hurried face that seems lost in life, 

    each time you back up to allow a weary older person in line ahead of you,

    each time you pause to look at the snow-layered buildings as the child you once were would see them --

    you open the door to that Christmas Magic a little wider.

    Every day you live can be magical 
    if you work at it.  

    The path of least resistense 
    is to live in a world leeched of its color and vitality 
    by Anger and Hate

    Choose to find the laughter and beauty as you live each hour.  

    Each laugh, each act of compassion is a brushstroke that adds the color of magic back to your life.

    The magic of Christmas has nothing to do with decorations, lights, presents, Christmas trees or anything so material.

    It has everything to do with a little girl’s smile 

    and a mom who buys real candy canes for their tree 

    so she can hear her little girl giggle as they decorate it together.

    Give a smile or a laugh to someone.  
    The present you will receive will be ... 

    The gifts we give that matter most 
    are the ones that cannot be 
    bought or sold. 

    The love we share and the memories we leave behind, 
    are the greatest gifts we can give. 

    They are the only gifts 
    that last a lifetime.

    Friday, December 2, 2016


    Some say Christmas has never been magical, not even from the beginning.

    We tend to overlook that the Holy Birth occurred in Bethlehem because of an act of oppression, and the threat of violence,

     when a man and woman were forced to travel from Nazareth to their ancestral home 

    by the decree of an occupying army in the final days of the young woman’s pregnancy.

    And, although we tend to be only vaguely aware of it, the massacre of innocents is woven inextricably into the story.

    Only three days after Christmas Day, on Dec. 28, the Church’s calendar remembers the other children of Bethlehem,

    the ones left behind when Joseph fled with Mary and Jesus to Egypt for safety following an angelic warning, 

    the ones slaughtered by King Herod in a fearful rage.

    Magic in Christmas? 

    No matter how much we might like to make it so, magic was not prominent in these events.

    Though we may rarely come to terms with it, 

    the Christmas story begins and ends in violence.

    We should not be surprised.

    We should not be surprised that the incarnation of good, of which the innocence of all children reminds us

    is not received either warmly or passively by the presence of evil.

    Sometimes that evil finds its expression in armies of violence, sometimes in greed and fear and power,

    and sometimes in clouds of darkness that overtake and consume those among us most vulnerable

    to delusion left to their own devices by a society deaf to the needs of those without power: the old, the mentally ill, the poor.

    The thought that there is no magic in Christmas might even do some good:

    Magic too easily lets us off the hook for the role we are called to play in the story,

    the story of goodness being birthed in the world, 

    the story of light that the darkness would overcome, the story of innocence confronted by evil, the story of Christ.

    No, there is no magic.

    What there is is an age-old struggle with evil that comes in many forms.

    Christmas comes into play, 

    not because it represents even a temporary respite from reality, 

    but because the birth of incarnate love lays bare the reality 

    that it is the evil that does not belong here. 

    The birth of incarnate love lays bare that the slaughter of innocents in whatever form, 

    child or adult, finds no place, no home, no tolerance, no business as usual in the world of which God dreams.

    And once we are robbed of the magic of Christmas, we begin, maybe, to grasp its reality. 

    The reality is that the birth of the Christ child does not cast a magical spell rendering the presence of evil ineffectual.

    It does not relieve humankind of the hell-before hell we have made of this world. 

    Rather, it invites us to participate in its redemption.

    The birth of the Christ child is not a tool for us to use, like sorcerer’s apprentices, 

    magically relieving us from doing the hard work that needs to be done. 

    It is a call to action.

    God has entered the world in a profoundly real, not magical, way. 

    And that in this particular child, Light has come into the world,

     and the darkness did not, and will not, overcome it.



    This Christmas Season Night as I sit alone with ghosts from my past

    it occurs to me that each of us is a Silent Knight ...

    A Silent Knight for whatever creed shapes our thoughts and steps.

    No matter our words, it is our actions that speak for us.

    Have we spoken love and forgiveness to only retort sharply at the harried store clerk who did not respond fast enough for us?

    Have we scoured the stores for just the right present, the perfect gift wrap only to snap at the very ones for whom we bought it out of irritation and weariness?

    Have we slaved over a king's spread of assorted recipes, only to have no appetite or warmth or patience for those for whom we prepared the delicious dishes?

    If we were to glance up and see the flag of the True Creed which our actions proclaim we live by, would we cringe in disbelief?


    Today books, films and Internet sites are filled with fanciful tales purporting to tell the history of "Silent Night."

    Some tell of mice eating the bellows of the organ creating the necessity for a hymn to be accompanied by a guitar.

     Others claim that Joseph Mohr was forced to write the words to a new carol in haste since the organ would not play.

    The German words for the original six stanzas of the carol we know as "Silent Night" were written by Joseph Mohr in 1816, 

    when he was a young priest assigned to a pilgrimage church in Mariapfarr, Austria.

    The fact is, we have no idea if any particular event inspired Joseph Mohr to pen his poetic version of the birth of the Christchild. 

    The world is fortunate, however, that he didn't leave it behind when he was transferred to Oberndorf the following year (1817).

    On December 24, 1818 Joseph Mohr journeyed to the home of musician-schoolteacher Franz Gruber 

    who lived in an apartment over the schoolhouse in nearby Arnsdorf. 

    He showed his friend the poem and asked him to add a melody and guitar accompaniment so that it could be sung at Midnight Mass.

    His reason for wanting the new carol is unknown.

    Later that evening, as the two men, backed by the choir, stood in front of the main altar in St. Nicholas Church and sang "Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!" 

    for the first time, they could hardly imagine the impact their composition would have on the world.

    And so,

    they were Silent Knights for their God. 

    As we, too, are Silent Knights for our gods: 

    Esteem in the eyes of others, 


    Social Status,  

    World Acclaim,  

    Control over Others, 

    Control over Ourselves,


    He who sang the universe into being.

    We can hardly imagine the impact our actions, positive or caustic, 
    will have on the network of fragile souls 
    in our world.  

    That fact should make us careful and compassionate in the days to come.

    May your Christmas Season be magical and healing. 

    Me and my Christmas ghosts tip our egg nog to you, 

    while we listen to Josh Groban singing "Silent Night." 

    (Picture courtesy of S. Ward)