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Joan Signing at Diesel Books, Oakland
Photo by Rob Shiefer


What is the difference between being a writer and an author? I am sometimes asked. The process of writing a book (I have completed eight and sold seven) is so lengthy, so all-consuming, that it merits the separate designation. Author: a person who has completed a grueling, rewarding activity, composing a coherent narrative of some length—generally at least 60,000 words. Keeping track of all the threads over many years and tying them together, while maintaining some linguistic elegance, is quite different from the week-long task of writing an essay or article.

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The Role of the Writer in Perilous Times

My wife Carole and me at demonstration to Keep Families Together (Immigration), 2018

I’ve been sitting at my computer wondering if it’s selfish to be staring at the screen, searching for the perfect word, when our democracy is under threat? What is my role in times like these; what can writers do?

Searching for writers’ impacts in previous eras I think first of the long,  Read More 

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Middle of the book: Keep energy up!

I’ve read books that start so well I think contentedly, Ah, this one I’m going to like; but fifty or seventy-five pages in the prose goes flat, the plot grows confusing or boring, and I close the book in disappointment.

Yet as a writer I understand: it’s easy to bog down  Read More 

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