I am a writer. An author. A writing coach who has helped thousands of writers discover the writer within us all. If you’ve found me here, I invite you to join me on this journey. I’m here, on your shoulder, to help you make your writing dreams come true.
For twenty-two years, I was reporter at the Providence (RI) Journal, the St. Petersburg (FL) Times and the Washington Bureau of Knight Ridder Newspapers and in small papers in my native Connecticut. I have won 16 awards for feature writing, spot news reporting, investigative and public service reporting and Congressional reporting. For a series on the export of hazardous substances to the developing world, I won a Robert F. Kennedy Award (honorable mention) for Excellence in Journalism.
From 1994 to 2009, I was on the faculty of The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, where I directed writing, reporting and editing programs that taught thousands of professional and student journalists in seminars and through online courses. I edited nine anthologies of prize-winning newspaper writing, and wrote a popular writing advice column, “Chip on Your Shoulder,” that
I’ve published short stories, two journalism textbooks, narrative nonfiction
My freelance work has appeared in anthologies, The New York Times, The Washington Post Sunday magazine, NPR, The American Scholar, among numerous other venues. Two of my essays were listed as notables in “Best American Essays.” Most recently, my work has appeared in the Nieman Storyboard, Columbia Journalism Review and Poynter Online.
My coaching and teaching career has taken me to more than twenty states, Singapore, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Harvard University and Columbia University. I taught at writing conferences around the nation as the director of the National Writers Workshops. For the past several years, I’ve visited. via Skype, a journalism class at Smith
I was a visiting professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of journalism, my alma mater, during the 2009-2010 academic year. I have a bachelor of arts degree from Fairfield University. From 1971-1972, I taught English as a second language as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa.
One of the highlights of my career was writing, with my wife Katharine Fair, two newspaper serial novels, “The Holly Wreath Man” and “Mystery @ Elf Camp,” which were published in more than 60 newspapers and Web sites. “The Holly Wreath Man” became a book, an iTunes podcast
Even after four decades as a professional writer, I still know the sting of weak sales figures and rejection letters. But a writer is also someone who never gives up. A writer is someone who writes.
I write every day, hoping that my two plays will be produced, that The New Yorker will publish my latest short story, that my screenplay will appear on screens near you and that Oprah will pick my novel-in-progress for her Book Club, and that this blog will reach and help you achieve your writing dreams.
Writing is a craft, one that can and must be mastered through days of hard work, illuminated by the joys of creativity. I’ve been studying, teaching and coaching the writing craft for a quarter of a century. Along the way, I’ve created—from my own experience and from the hundreds of brilliant writers editors and teachers that I’ve worked with and interviewed—a collection of foolproof lessons about effective writing. Writing that sings. Writing that sells.
This blog offers you a steady ongoing diet of these lessons. I know they can help your writing; they’ve helped mine and countless other writers who testify to their power. Let them do the same for you.