Tag Archives: business

Paying market for articles about writing


Moira Allen, the editor of Writing-World.com is seeking quality how-to articles on the craft or business of writing. Between 1,000-2,000 words. Pays $.05/word. Be sure to read her guidelines carefully HERE:


Seeking instructors to teach online writing workshops


Current needs: business writing, food writing, poetry, greeting cards, anthology writing

Instructors can choose to do a 2-day workshop or 4-6 week class; PAID

Details at www.coffeehouseforwriters.com

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Kevin Coupe, “The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies”


Author interview with Kevin Coupe

Kevin Coupe has been a working writer all his professional life.  He is the co-author, with Michael Sansolo, of The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies, which uses movies to illustrate tenets of leadership, the importance of marketing and branding, and how to survive in the workplace.  For the past decade, he’s had his own website/blog – MorningNewsBeat.com – providing what he calls “business news in context, and analysis with attitude.”  In addition to speaking at hundreds of conferences in the U.S. and abroad and reporting from 45 states and six continents, Kevin has worked as a daily newspaper reporter, video producer, bodyguard, clothing salesman, supervised a winery tasting room, run two marathons (slowly), drove a race car (badly), taken boxing lessons (painfully) and acted in a major (and obscure) motion picture.  He is married with three children, and lives in Connecticut.

1.  Tell us about your latest book.

The central premise of The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies is that it is much easier and more effective for a business leader to communicate his or her vision to co-workers, employees, business partners and even customers if the leader can create a narrative…in other words, tell a compelling and understandable story.  If you cannot tell your story in resonant terms, it is hard to get people to coalesce around your business vision.  For us, movies are a way of creating a common language, or a common mythology, that leaders can refer to in telling their story. 

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

A.  Pretty much.  Both Michael and I started out as newspaper reporters and moved into business magazines, though I’ve stayed a working writer my entire adult life and Michael made a detour into the corporate world where he was in charge of education for a major trade association.  But even in that role, where he gave many speeches and planned educational events, the importance of a good story was always central to how he approached his job.  We’re storytellers.  Which is a cool gig, if you can figure out how to make a living from it.

Q: Tell us briefly about your book.

The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies looks at about 60 different movies from seven decades – encompassing comedies, musicals, dramas and action films, and including both legitimate classics and some that are a little less memorable – to create narratives through which business people can approach issues of leadership, branding, customer service, and even career development.  It really is very simple – we want people to read the book and say to themselves, “The situation I’m facing at work is a lot like the scenario in Jaws.”  Or in That Thing You Do.  Or The Godfather.  Or Bridge on the River Kwai. And when they do so, they may be able to find new ways to deal with whatever business issue they are facing, or at least see it in a different and broader context.

How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve always been a working writer.  I started out in daily newspaper journalism, did a short stint in PR, worked for some business magazines and then wrote and produced a series of videos about the business of global retailing.  For the past dozen years or so, I’ve written about retailing for a series of websites, including my own – MorningNewsBeat.com – for the past eight years.  It is probably a good thing, since I’m not much good at anything else and being a writer has always served my need for some degree of personal autonomy.    That’s not to say that I don’t do other things.  My co-author, Michael Sansolo, and I spend a fair amount of time on the road giving speeches about the business of retailing…and that helps to pay the mortgage.  But basically, I’ve always been a writer.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Up by 5:30 am.  I skim the business sections of about 25 newspapers to find topics for my daily blog/column, MorningNewsBeat.com.  I let the dog out and drink the first of about six cups of black coffee.  At 6 am, I turn on “Morning Joe,” which plays in the background as I work – I find the political discussions to be energizing and thought provoking, and both passionate and civil, which is increasingly rare for discourse these days. At 6:30 am, I bring my wife a cup of coffee the way she likes it – with two Splendas and frothed light cream.  (She’s the person in the family with a steady income and medical benefits, so I like to keep her happy.) By 9 am, my wife and daughter are off to school (my wife is a third grade teacher, my daughter is a high school sophomore), MorningNewsBeat is done, and things get a little more relaxed.  Three days a week I go to the gym and work out.  In nice weather I jog the other three days…though I’m slower than I used to be after two knee surgeries.  After that, I spend the next three or four hours making calls, going through email, writing columns for some print publications, working on speeches (I do about 25 a year), and gathering stories for the next day’s MorningNewsBeat.  At 3:30 pm most days I pick up my daughter at school…and then the rest of the afternoon I try to spend writing whatever project I happen to have on the front burner, or do a little reading – rarely about business, since at that point my brain is a little fried.  (Sometimes, I’ll take a quick nap – I have the ability to fall asleep on a moment’s notice and wake up after 15 or 20 minutes completely refreshed.)  At around 6 pm I uncork a bottle of wine and make supper for everybody.  After dinner, I either watch a ballgame (during baseball season), maybe a TV series I like, or a movie…Michael Sansolo and I already are planning our sequel to The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.  There are so many movies and so little time.  If I can, I like to stay awake long enough to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  But I don’t always make it…because at 5:30 in the morning, it starts all over again.

Describe your workspace.

It depends.   During much of the year, when my 20-year-old son is away at college, I commandeer his room and desk and work there – it has a couple of windows, and my dog, Buffett, likes to hang out with me there.  Plus, the kitchen is just a few feet away and it makes me easily available to my daughter when she’s home.  When my son wants his room back, I have a small office a few blocks away that I go to – it is over a pub, which I find pleasing.  A third of the time, I’m on the road…which means my workspace is wherever I happen to find myself – hotel rooms, airport lounges, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, or airplanes (which happens to be where I am responding to these questions).  One of the great pleasures of being a writer is that I can do it anywhere, anytime.

Favorite books (especially for writers)

A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill

Piecework by Pete Hamill

On Writing by Stephen King

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker

The Night of the Gun by David Carr

The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies by Michael Sansolo and Kevin Coupe

Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

A.  I once was a bodyguard for Farrah Fawcett.  Really.  I was 30 years younger and 30 pound lighter, but I actually had the job in late 1977 and early 1978.

B.  Some of the best hours of my week are spent in a local gym where I take boxing lessons and work out on the heavy bag.  It is a great stress-reducer, and it clears the mind.

C.  My co-author, Michael Sansolo, and I grew up in the same town.  His mom and my dad worked for the local school system.  Michael went to high school with the woman who later married me.  We worked for Gannett as newspaper reporters when we got out of college in offices just a few miles apart.  And yet we did not meet until the late eighties when we found ourselves working for the same magazine company, him as editor in chief of a print publication and me running the editorial side of the video division.  It was like meeting a brother I did not know I had… and it led to a fast friendship and constant telephone conversations that spawned a number of business projects and, now, this book, The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.

Favorite quote

There are many…so many that it is hard for me to choose one. So I’ll go with this one:

“Indecision may or may not be my problem.”  – Jimmy Buffett

Best and worst part of being a writer

The hours and the money.  Not necessarily in that order.

Advice for other writers

Write.  And if you don’t understand why that’s the most important advice that can be given to a writer, find another line of work.

Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Woody Allen once said that the most important thing in life is showing up, and my career is proof positive of this, though I’ve also been exceedingly lucky.  Let me explain…

After I graduated from college, I was looking for a job as a writer, but couldn’t get one…I really wanted to work at a newspaper, but I’d never taken a journalism class, which was sort of a handicap.  So a friend of mine who was both the stunt coordinator and head of security for Farrah Fawcett’s first post-“Charlie’s Angels” movie, gave me a job on her security detail because I did know something about movie sets.  This was late 1977, early 1978.

Once the movie wrapped, I went back to looking for a writing job.  In February 1978, I managed to get an interview with the head of human resources for Gannett’s suburban New York newspaper group.  This was a big deal.  The interview was at 10 am, and when I woke up at six that morning, I discovered that we’d had more than a foot of snow overnight, which was going to make getting to the interview problematic.  So I woke up my two younger brothers – I was living at home – and got them to dig my car out of the driveway.  Then, I took them with me for what should have been a 15-minute drive to the interview, but instead took more than an hour because we kept getting caught in snow drifts…I made them come with me because I had a feeling this might happen and that I’d need their help.

When I got to the office – on time – the security guard looked at me like I had three heads and told me that the HR guy wasn’t there…he had not been able to get to the office because of the snowstorm.  I made sure that I left my resume on his desk with a note that said something along the lines of “I got here, sorry you were not able to,” and we headed home.

Now, this was completely deliberate on my part.  I knew that the odds were that the office would be closed because of snow, but I also knew that I needed to find a differential advantage to make my resume stand out from those of people far more qualified than I to work for a newspaper.  Which is what happened.  I got the reputation for being the guy who showed up in the snowstorm, and the HR guy promised to get me an interview with the first newspaper editor in the chain who had an opening.

About a month later, I got the call.  Bill Chanin of the Rockland Journal-News wanted to meet me.  I drove to the newspaper building and was ushered into his office…and there, on the wall, was the iconic Farrah Fawcett poster (which could never happen today, but remember, this was the seventies).  I instantly thought to myself, “I got this job.”   And I did.

I haven’t stopped writing for a living since.

Where can people buy your book?

The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies is available from the publisher:


And from Amazon.com:


To read our daily blog, go to:


To learn more about Michael Sansolo, go to:


To learn more about Kevin Coupe, go to:


Author Interview #2 with Cristin Frank


Author interview with Cristin Frank

Cristin Frank had a 13 year career in branding and marketing for consumer products such as Budweiser, Nestlé, Kraft and SC Johnson (not to name drop or anything).

Currently she hosts the Ustream TV show, Biz Court: Is It a Business or a Hobby. If business model analysis bores you to pieces, her story telling won’t – check it out at http://www.ustream.tv/CristinFrank.

She just launched the e-book, Model Rocket: How to Expand your Business Model and Blast Off the Ground,” for entrepreneurs searching for the missing link to business success.

Lastly, in Cristin’s insatiable desire for continued learning and growing, her life portfolio also includes being a wife, mother of two boys, author of two books, and a distance bicycle rider.


Does Your Business Idea Have Legs?


How to Expand Your Business Model


26 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Fail


How to Teach Entrepreneurship To Kids (#141)


1. Tell us about your latest book.

When I started my first business I became a dismal statistic of failure because I was listening to old-school advice about needing money to make money. I went through all the proper procedures and thought I had covered all my bases: great idea, capital, patent, website and time. But what was missing was the infrastructure – the business model. I had no system for generating leads, incentives or relationships.

Little did I know, there were breakthrough opportunities available to entrepreneurs that actually made it easy to create multiple streams of income.

By interviewing successful small business owners, I discovered their secrets for connecting the dots of success. My explosive, new e-book “Model Rocket: How to Expand Your Business Model and Blast Off the Ground,” shows readers the missing link of business success.

This book takes guerrilla marketing, strategy and branding methodology to expose creative solutions to success. It is full of fresh thinking and genius action plans that don’t come with an outrageous price tag.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I started in consumer packaging, writing and editing for companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Nestlé and SC Johnson. My first book was actually a novel titled, Trimming the Blue Hairs.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I spend a good chunk of time self education, so I typically start and end my day reading books, blogs and the Yahoo finance page. In between, I write my own material, look for interesting people to follow on Twitter and plan my upcoming shows on Ustream.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I work at a corner desk in my home office. It’s covered with my kid’s artwork and my favorite reference books. If I’m not there, I’m in my community with my pocket notebook close at hand.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol S.  Dweck

Crush It! – Gary Vaynerchuk

Writer Mama – Christina Katz

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1. I’ve flown and landed an airplane

2. When I was young, I wanted to grow up to be a roller-skating waitress

3. I eat ice cream in front of my kids and tell them it’s mash potatoes

7. Favorite quote

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

-Anais Nin

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best is that to non-writers you sound really interesting.

Worst is your unknown effect on your readers.

9. Advice for other writers

Pick the most effective medium for your knowledge – it may be newspaper, documentary, book, blog or podcasts – keep your options open.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Upon meeting, for the first time, a relative of a friend, she asked me about being an author. My six-year-old was present for the brief conversation about being an author. Later, I introduced him as an aspiring farmer. He corrected me, “I’m also an aspiring author.”

It was endearing to me that he looked up to me as a professional role model at his age.

Where can people buy your book?

Model Rocket: How to Expand Your Business Model and Blast Off the Ground,” is available for purchase at www.cristinfrank.com for $37.99. You may watch the video book trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsVDJdHStTw

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Frances Cole Jones, author of “The Wow Factor”


Author interview with Frances Cole Jones9780345517944

1. Tell us about your latest book:

The subtitle of The Wow Factor is “The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today’s Business World.” The idea is that in this economic climate people need immediate, practical solutions for finding a job, positioning themselves for promotion, keeping their customers’ trust– generally maintaining their edge no matter what their situation. With this in mind The Wow Factor offers11 habits I’ve found my clients must have, 11 things I’ve realized they’ve must know, and 11 things I’ve discovered they can do today to be more effective tomorrow. My hope is that the readers of The Wow Factor will gain the tools they need to do the same.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

By being a lifelong reader— someone who can put words together effectively has always made me swoon. After that I was lucky enough to work with teachers and mentors who pushed me beyond– so far beyond—where I was comfortable. 

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I get up about 5 a.m. and write until about 9 a.m. After that, I practice Ashtanga yoga; then I work with clients in the afternoon. In between, I’m usually walking my dog.

4. Describe your workspace

My workspace is anywhere I can open my computer—I’m not picky. I write at my desk, on my bed, on the sofa, on buses, trains, airplanes….

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.

6. Tell us three interesting/crazy things about you

  1. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga yoga for twelve years. Ashtanga asks you to be on the mat six days a week: you’re tired, you practice; you’re busy, you practice; you’re sad; you practice, etc. Incorporating this discipline into writing has been incredibly helpful.
  2. Thanks to Ashtanga, I can stand on my hands and put my feet on my head—before I started I couldn’t touch my toes.
  3. I consider brownies perfectly legitimate breakfast food.

7. Favorite quote

“Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent.”

                                                            Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part of being a writer is getting paid to write—how extraordinary is that? I’m grateful because it’s a privilege. I don’t know that there is a worst part—I would say the hardest part is that moment about 1/3 of the way into the writing process when I inevitably say to myself, “Well, this is just absolutely awful and I have no idea how I’m going to make it work.”

9. Advice for other writers

Find people who will give you honest—constructive—feedback. It’s not enough to say, “This is just great!” Or “This isn’t working.” You need someone who can say, “This is great and here’s how I think it can be better.” Or, “This isn’t working but I think this is how you can make it work.”

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

My writing experience was a long time coming — when my agent first told me she thought I had a book in me, I told her I thought she was delusional. What I discovered, thanks to her patience, is that—for me—finding the right tone was the hardest part. Putting words together wasn’t tricky—putting them together in such a way that others responded to them was. We went through seventeen drafts of the manuscript for my first book before she thought it was ready to go out into the world- this is why I so strongly recommend finding someone you trust to give you feedback.

The Wow Factor is available on Amazon here:


10 QUESTIONS FOR…Shonika Proctor, multi-genre author


Author interview with Shonika Proctorcasstdcrop

I am a Washington, DC based writer. I write freelance for local newspapers. I have published 3 books and recently created branded training curriculum for teen entrepreneurs.

 1. Tell us about your latest book.

Indeed that is a loaded question because avid writers often have multiple projects in the works.  I have 3 books in final production (back from editor in layout and 1 book I am writing.

    • And Zen Again, 52 Thought Provoking Affirmations for Adults in Rhyme just came back from the editor. I originally wanted to call it ‘The Seuss Shall Set You Free’ but it was too difficult to get permission to use Seuss in the name.  
    • Chocolate Moose It is a children’s book that I released in early 2000. Highly disappointed with the final production of the first book, I hired a new illustrator and expanded the storyline so it can be published in a hardback version.
    • Building Blocks of Wonder: This is actually a 60-page coloring book. It will be bundled in a kid’s club package for a high profile individual in Washington, DC. I wrote the storyline and also created the kids club package for them so that they can reach the youth market.

The book I am currently writing is called 365: Infinite Expedition. It will be a collection of 365 inspirational stories from teen CEO’s who share the obstacles they have overcome as a teen CEO. It will also feature 12 stories from high profile CEO’s who got the entrepreneurial bug in their teens. ‘365’ represent the days of the year. I am actually collecting 730 stories because I am doing a U.S. and International version. I have allotted 2 years for this project.

 2. How did you get started as a writer?

When I was 8 years old my 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Lamboly, told me that I did such a marvelous job on the creative writing exercises that she thought that when I grew up I would be an author. I had no idea what that meant. She told me to write everyday. Although I wrote in that journal for years, well into my teens and early 20’s I never considered writing as a profession. In the early 90’s in the process of being dumped I wrote a letter to the prospective dumper to ‘argue’ my side of the story.  After reading the letter he thought that I plagiarized it, lol. Then he said that I was definitely a keeper because I was masterful with words which he believed was an incredible gift and he thought that I should definitely pursue writing seriously and professionally. So I did.

 3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I can find inspiration in everyone and everything around me so I move with my internal compass. As I do not have children, I have lots of ‘open time’. At any given point in the day I might be motivated to go out and explore the city, catch up with a local friend, volunteer for a few hours or take a mini multi day trip to the beach.

 4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I live in a ‘small’ row house so you have to be really ‘creative’ with use of space. My office is at the top level of my house and essentially shares the ‘landing pad’ of the spiral staircase. The landing pad is a 10 x 10 glass floor with a small wooden extension and my desk fits perfectly on the wooden extension. The interior walls of my house are glass and the separating walls of my house are brick. There is a huge light tunnel on the roof. So it feels like you are outside. The ceilings are 13’ tall and natural light shines through the house from all directions so it is very inspirational for writing. As for my desk it is crammed with piles of things to do, huge notepads to write ideas, mini recorders and a cup of tea is always nearby. My favorite thing about my desk is my chair that is like a vintage wooden chair from probably the late 60’s or early 70’s with some really offbeat green color fabric and leather. It is a bit eccentric and quirky…kinda like me 🙂

 5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

My favorite book is Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Dr. Richard Carlson. It is my annual read and brings me so much personal and professional growth each year.

I also enjoy reading Dr. Seuss books. They are fast to read, have timely but timeless life lessons and always spark new ideas for me.

In terms of writing related books I tend to use reference books like The Writer’s Market or Grammar Girl’s tips and techniques on improving my writing. I am not sure how much it helps though as I write fast and usually don’t feel like going back through and checking behind myself because I just want to get stuff done and out of the way. So my editor always has a field day.

 6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

·      I have not owned a TV since 1990….yes, I realize that I have missed life changing television series like Friends, Seinfeld and Sex in the City.

·      I am an avid volunteer. My mother got me started in volunteering when I was 12 years old and these days I volunteer more than 25 hours a month. I attribute volunteering with many life changing experiences including finding my purpose. In 2008 I did something volunteer related every single week and so did my significant other even though our interests are completely different.

·      I do not have a sense of smell (never had one) and people always think that is the strangest thing ever. I am still trying to figure out what other sense improved since I am without that one ;- )

6. Favorite quote

“The Earth’s most precious natural resource is truly a rare find. As it changes by the second it is that of our time.”

I made up that quote because the time I spend with others and myself is extremely valued.

7. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best part about being a writer is your exact words can be shared over and over again and every person who reads them will experience and feel something different. It is also the best all natural therapy that no money can buy.

The worst part of being a writer is the more you write the more ideas you come up with. So then you start to feel frustrated that there will never be enough time to say everything that you really want to say.

 8. Advice for other writers

Think Elvis! Copyright and publish your work even if you don’t plan on marketing it. Print on demand and self-publishing have simplified the publishing process and removed the barriers to entry. You don’t need to expend all your resources and time trying to get a huge advance and earn millions of dollars from book sales. However, you do need to get credit for your intellectual property and your original creations. If you can make enough money to supplement your income then that’s an added bonus. You never know how in the future, perhaps long after you are gone that something you create will come into play and earn licensing fees or royalties for your children, grandchildren or a charitable cause you feel strongly about. www.createspace.com is a very inexpensive and relatively easy way to get your work published and out there.

9. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

In 2005 completely by a very random set of circumstance I started volunteering with teen entrepreneurs. Three years later while still working with them, a book idea popped in my head. The book idea was on a holistic theme in entrepreneurship that I thought was badly needed but missing in the industry. So I sat down and wrote the entire book in 12 days (36,000 words, 143 pages and no writers block).

Where can people buy your books?

My books are available on Amazon.com

Teen Entrepreneur Success Secrets: The Essential Guide to Starting and Growing a Business

Double Click on This, Preschoolers and Computers: How to Go Beyond Sit and Giggle

My blog is www.renegadeceos.com

Twitter: @teenbizcoach


10 QUESTIONS FOR…John Kador, author of 15 books


Author interview with John Kadoreffectiveapologycoverlosreskad061_lores 

Effective Apology is my 15th book.  My other titles cover such areas as leadership, ethics, careers, finance, and business history.  I got my start as an advertising copywriter.  My career then moved to freelance journalism, speechwriting, and ghostwriting.  I currently live in central Pennsylvania.  I am married and the father of two children.  For recreation, I like to fence. 

1.     Tell us about your latest book.

Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges and Restoring Trust is a guidebook to apology.  Most of us have little experience with apology, either offering it or accepting it.  No wonder, then, that many of us mess it up.  We don’t need more apologies; we need better apologies.  Using over 75 examples of actual apologies from the worlds of business, relationships, sports, and politics, this book tells you exactly what constitutes effective apology.  Briefly, I see effective apologies having five components.  I call these the Five Rs:  Recognition, Responsibility, Remorse, Restitution, and Repetition.  The bottom line: apology is a critical leadership skill.  The willingness to apologize signals strength, character, and integrity—real leadership is impossible without it. Progress occurs one apology at a time.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I sold out early.  I got my first job as a writer at an advertising/public relations agency.  The training was invaluable.  Every day a different client, a new assignment, and a tight deadline.  Eventually I started doing freelance technical writing and magazine work.  Only in the last ten years have I been writing books.  

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I do my creative writing in the morning.  I’m generally at my desk by 8:30 AM.  I like to go out to lunch.  Take a walk.  Clear my head.  See a friend.  Writing can be an isolating life.  It’s vital for me to get evidence that other people have different preoccupations.  Then in the afternoon I do other necessary stuff like research, phone calls, billing, marketing, etc.  I try to knock off by 6 PM or so and try not to think about work until the next day. 

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I work at an L-shaped desk.  A large flat screen monitor dominates one end of the desk.  A music system is at the other end.  I have music on constantly.  I also have a big bookcase filled with books, which I constantly refer to, and CDs.  My office has a large outside deck.  On warm days I can take my laptop out to the deck and work there. 

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Check out Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte.

To see the possibilities of language, I pick up Ulysses by James Joyce.

On Writing by Stephen King is a favorite.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

For exercise, I do fencing at a local fencing club.

I was born in Hungary.  English is not my first language.

I’m still friends with the very first friend I ever had.  I met her when I was two. 

7. Favorite quote

Listening is not the same thing as agreeing. 

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best part is the flexibility.  Worst part is the isolation. 

9. Advice for other writers

A piece of writing can always be incrementally improved by holding on to it an extra hour, day or week.  Know when good enough is good enough and let it go.  Remember that a piece of writing is never finished, it’s abandoned.  Editors would rather have an assignment good enough on time rather than something perfect late. 

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

This is how my first book came about.  One of my clients asked me to ghostwrite a book for him.  I had never written a book before.  I had six weeks.  I didn’t know it was impossible, so I did it.  The project was a success.  McGraw-Hill (which published that book) was so impressed, it invited me to write a book of my own.  That was the first of—so far—15 books.  I realize how incredibly lucky I am. 

Where can people buy your book?

Effective Apology is published by Berrett-Koehler, an incredible publisher quite unlike any other  www.bkconnection.com  The book is available at bookstores, Amazon, Borders, B&N, etc.  Links can be found on my web site www.effectiveapology.com



10 QUESTIONS FOR…Al Betz, author of communication books


Author interview with Al Betzoutfluence-bookglenw_080410_6412_copy

Al Betz lives outside of Washington, D.C.  He has spent 40 years working as a court reporter, 32 years in his own business.  His first book, released in 2005, is titled Polishing the Pearl, The Art of Professional Performance.  His second book, Outfluence, The Better Way to Influence, was released in October 2008.  All of Al’s writing is focused on supporting his new business, Outfluence, LLC.


1.    Tell us about your latest book.

Outfluence, The Better Way to Influence, teaches 14 to 30-year-olds the importance of silent communication and Constant Messaging™.

2.    How did you get started as a writer?

I got started as a writer when I interviewed a friend who wanted to preserve his life story.  I have since assisted approximately 30 people to write their life stories.

3.    What does a typical day look like for you?

My day usually starts at 5:00 a.m.  I either write, or edit, the Outfluence Pearl of the Day which appears on my website.  I watch several of the morning news shows, check my favorite blogs, and also search for creative people doing things that inspire my creativity.  I like to go for drives in the country, with my favorite music on the radio or on the CD player, and allow my mind to relax.  It’s when I do my most productive thinking.  I love to interact with my granddaughters.  They keep me young and in touch.  I write throughout the day as inspiration comes to me.

4.    Describe your desk/workspace.

I like a clean desk.  On my desk I have my desktop computer and two monitors.  Occasionally I’ll have a third computer, my laptop, on the desk.  Each monitor will have something different on it, depending on what I’m working on at the time.  The middle drawer of my desk contains a small whiteboard that I use for quick reference and to jot down ideas.   Surrounding me are shelves containing my most inspiring books, and next to me are file cabinets containing my most frequently used files.

5.    Favorite books (especially for writers)

My favorite books are Finding our Way by Margaret J. Wheatley, because it reminds me of the importance of community; Words that Work by Dr. Frank Luntz, because it reminds me why writing is worth the struggle; When Character was King by Peggy Noonan, because I admire her ability to communicate so clearly and colorfully.

6.    Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I was a pioneer in the implementation of Computer-Assisted Transcription back in the 1970s; when I worked for the government I was called a “maverick” because I had outside professional interests; when I was 12 years old I caught a fly ball and threw out the runner at home with a perfect strike to the catcher.

7.    Favorite quote

. . . from Steve Martin:  “When people ask me how to become successful in Hollywood, I don’t tell them what they expect to hear – get a good agent, pick a good script – I tell them to be so good that they can’t be ignored.”

8.    Best and worst part of being a writer

Best . . . challenging my creativity.

Worst . . . being inefficient with words.

9.    Advice for other writers

Keep on writing.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

My most endearing experiences have come during my volunteer work for a local hospice.  One of the greatest gifts a writer can offer is to enable a dying person the opportunity to gift their family with the story of their life, their final thoughts, their final goodbye.

Where can people buy your books?

       Please visit this location http://www.outfluenceonline.com/View-Samples/Excerpts.html to read short excerpts of Al’s books.  To purchase them, please proceed to our store located here http://www.outfluenceonline.com/Our-Store.html.  Al’s books are family friendly, inspirational, and educational.


10 QUESTIONS FOR…Timothy Warneka, black belt/leadership author


 Author interview with Timothy Warnekacslfront-white150-c1warnekapew100

A nationally-recognized human performance expert, Timothy Warneka provides keynote speeches, leadership coaching and consulting to organizations across the country. Interested in the connection between spirituality, embodiment and leadership, Mr. Warneka is the author of four books, including LEADING PEOPLE THE BLACK BELT WAY: CONQUERING THE FIVE CORE PROBLEMS FACING LEADERS TODAY; and THE WAY OF LEADING PEOPLE: UNLOCKING YOUR INTEGRAL LEADERSHIP SKILLS WITH THE TAO TE CHING; and his latest book BLACK BELT LEADER, PEACEFUL LEADER: AN INTRODUCTION TO CATHOLIC SERVANT LEADERSHIP. Mr. Warneka lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two children.


1. Tell us about your latest book.


My latest book is BLACK BELT LEADER, PEACEFUL LEADER: AN INTRODUCTION TO CATHOLIC SERVANT LEADERSHIP, which combines principles from Servant Leadership, Roman Catholic social justice teachings, and the revolutionary non-violent martial art of Aikido.

I’m currently working on a video series for Catholic Servant Leadership, beginning with a video that show what Catholic Servant Leaders can learn from Ebenezer Scrooge. Stay tuned to www.catholicservantleader.com for more on this series.


2. How did you get started as a writer?

9/11 started my writing career. At the time of the terrorist attack, I was working with children and adolescents as a licensed clinical counselor. A number of parents contacted me about how to best speak with their kids about 9/11, so I wrote: “Ten Tips for Talking to Children About Terrorism.”

“Ten Tips” soon took on a life of its own. I heard from people and professionals from around the work who found my words helpful.

That’s when I knew I wanted to write.

Interested readers can find “Ten Tips for Talking to Children About Terrorism” here:


3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t have a typical day … which I love! One day I may be giving a keynote speech in Los Angeles. On another day, I might be lecturing at a college, or seeing clients in my counseling/coaching practice. Or writing. Or cooking dinner as my kids get off the bus from school.

Every day is different!

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

A complete mess! Right now I’m in a very creative space … and the more creative I get, the messier my workspace gets! 🙂

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I find that I either read or write. Right now I’m writing.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I have a black belt in the martial art of Aikido.

I’m an intensive introvert who makes a living speaking to large crowds.

I love growing roses.

7. Favorite quote

“Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.”

– C. G. Jung

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best part: Having to isolate myself in order to write.

Worst part: Having to isolate myself in order to write.

9. Advice for other writers

1. Creativity and insanity are close sisters. Don’t be afraid to follow your creative muse wherever s/he takes you!

2. Always remember that writing a book is engaging in a relational process with an idea.

3. Make sure you have enough support to write. I’ve never regretted a dime I’ve spent on writing coaches.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience

After my “Ten Tips” article went out, I heard back from a couple who had watched with their three year old son as the planes crashed into the towers. The couple were very open in telling me how much my article had helped them talk to their son.

Their letter moved me deeply … I’ll always remember the power of the written word.

Where can people buy your books?

Timothy Warneka’s books are available through Amazon.com and other on-line booksellers, as well as wherever quality books are sold. His books can also be purchased through the publisher, Asogomi Publishing International at:


For more information, please visit:









10 QUESTIONS FOR…Alan Lurie, “Five Minutes on Mondays…”


Author interview with Alan Lurie0137007787hs121008-sm_1045

“Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace, and Fulfillment at Work”


1. Tell us about your latest book.

I am a Managing Director at Grubb & Ellis, a large national real estate firm in New York City, and am also an ordained Rabbi. My new book, titled “Five Minutes on Mondays: Finding Unexpected Purpose, Peace, and Fulfillment at Work”, published by Pearson/FT Press, is a collection of thirty weekly “messages” that I wrote for the New York business community, addressing such topics as authenticity, balance, honesty, happiness, humor, and how to understand difficult times. Grubb & Ellis’ weekly staff meetings (of over 100 people), begin as I read these messages, which are then sent to our entire staff, clients, colleagues, and friends – reaching thousands of people every week. The book captures a selection of these, along with several other pieces, written of the course of one year. The messages encourage people to view work as a “spiritual gymnasium” where opportunities for growth occur daily, to embrace change, and to see that all great wisdom traditions, whether religious, philosophical, political, or business management theory, point to the same goal – how to become more aware, sensitive, effective, and awakened human beings.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

As a Rabbi I have written for years on spiritual and religious topics, and have published sermons and prayer books. I have also written extensively as an art history student in college. The path to writing and publishing “Five Minutes on Mondays”, though, was very unexpected. Suddenly I became a published author when a friend of mine, who is a well-known writer, sent samples of my weekly messages to Pearson. An editor there loved the work, and asked if he could publish a collection.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

My days are varied, usually hectic, and no two are ever the same – a typical business executive’s day, but with the added responsibilities of a writer and clergy. Since my responsibilities include sales, management, training, recruiting, and being the face of our company to the New York market, some days are spend on the road, meeting with new and prospective clients, and others are spent behind my desk, reviewing my staff’s work, coordinating with other business units, and developing strategies. As a writer, though, which is my passion, I set aside time every day to write, usually during lunch, often at a local Starbucks, after work in my office, and on the train heading home. My writing usually stem from an event or insight that occurred during the work day, so I often write quick notes to myself that later are expanded. As a Rabbi, I am often called to perform weddings, visit the sick, console the bereaved, or lead prayer services. These are the moments that are most meaningful to me.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I have a typical business office (with actual walls!) – credenza, desk, pull up chairs, book cases, etc, – which faces out toward Times Square. Nothing unique, except behind my desk is a series of certificates that often surprise people: architectural licenses from several state registrations, a real estate sales license, a certificate that allows me to perform marriages, and my rabbinic diploma.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

1. Souls on Fire, by Elie Wiesel: Stories of the lives of the great Chasidic mystics

2. The Five Books of Moses, by Moses, a committee, or God (depending on your inclination): The source and reflection of western consciousness

3. Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss: Powerful spiritual lessons told in an accessible and lighthearted way, with great illustrations

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1. I collect found children’s toys: Several years ago as I was walking home I looked down to see a small finger puppet with the face of a mouse lying on the curb. I took it home and placed it on a bookshelf. Since then, I have found more than a dozen children’s objects in many locations- the sidewalks of New York, the gym parking lot, the local park, on the floor at Starbucks, and on my walk home from the train station. Perhaps these are waiting for my future grandchildren, or are a reminder to me to stay young and playful.

2. I used to be a body-builder: People are surprised to learn that a Rabbi used to be a hard-core gym rat. I loved to lift heavy weights, and to push myself to lift more each time. This was a spiritual experience for me, and taught me the possibility of transformation (literally). I also looked awfully good in jeans and a tee shirt!

3. I make bonsai trees: There was a period when I was obsessed with bonsais. I had a collection of nearly 50 trees, and would spend my weekends (before I got re-married to my current wife) shopping for new material, pruning, wiring, and caring for my little trees. The combination of natural material with human intervention felt very satisfying. This was also something to care for and nourish after my kids went to college.

7. Favorite quote

“Love your neighbor as yourself”. My second favorite, “Are you talkin’ to me?”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

I absolutely love writing, and the idea of “being” a writer. I can think of no higher calling for me, and new ideas for books and essays are constantly bubbling up. I usually do my best work at Starbucks, sitting in a large green armchair, surrounded by the noise of conversation, grinding coffee, and eclectic music. The worst part of writing is my self-critical nature as I pick apart my writing, and agonize whether I have captured something true and transformative.

9. Advice for other writers

Write from the deepest place of knowing and connection. It is easy to get caught in a circular brain amusement, and at times that’s OK, but the core of the writing must spring from a voice that is not located in your head, or even your stomach or sexual center. The real source is a voice that truly knows. Getting to that, though, requires the ability to move yourself aside long enough for it to be heard.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

The unlikely ingredients in the recipe of events from which “Five minutes on Mondays” emerged include a commuter train, a sweltering August day in New York City, a sweaty business card, recurring random encounters, and a spilled beer. Through these events I met David Arena, President of Grubb & Ellis, a national commercial real estate firm. David and I first met on a hot and humid day in August on the Metro-North commuter train, which travels from Grand Central Station to Connecticut. I had just run 20 blocks to catch the 6:15 train and slipped in as the doors were closing. Sitting across from me was a man whose face I recognized from a recent cover of Crain’s Business Journal.

That’s David Arena! I should introduce myself, I thought, but look at me. I’m drenched. Hey, what’s the worst that can happen?

So, I leaned over to introduce myself. With sweat dripping from my forehead, I reached in to my pocket and pulled out a soggy, limp business card, which he politely accepted, then returned to reading his newspaper.

That certainly went well, Lurie, I thought, assuming I had just blown a promising business opportunity.

Several months later, we ran into each other again. This was on a Friday afternoon, as I was sitting on the train studying a Hebrew text and drinking a beer (two things that I like to do as I head home for the weekend). I looked up to see David sit down next to me. He glanced at my book and, apparently not remembering that we had met, said,

“Excuse me. Is that Hebrew?”

“Yes. It’s actually a section from the Bible.”

“Really? Are you a religious man?” he asked.

“As a matter of fact, I’m an ordained Rabbi,” I answered, “but I also work in commercial real estate. We actually met briefly on this train last summer, and I gave you my card.”

We struck up a conversation, and discovered a shared interest in religion and theology (a conversation that he later described as “being kinda’ out there”). As I got up to leave, I bent over to shake his hand and accidentally spilled beer on his sleeve and into his briefcase.

“Now I’ve been baptized by a Rabbi,” he laughed.

I walked off the train, wondering how I could have been so clumsy, and why I seemed to keep spilling things on this man.

The third time I saw David was in a midtown office reception area. I had taken the day off to do some work around the house but came by this office to drop off a package. Unshaved, uncombed, and dressed in worn jeans and a tee shirt, I turned to see David walk in.

This makes sense, I thought. God forbid I should run into him looking professional!

“Good to see you again, Rabbi,” he said, patting me on the back. “Let’s meet for breakfast soon. Here’s my card. Please call me.”

“Why do you think I keep meeting this man under such awkward circumstances?” I later asked my wife, Shirona. “The first time we met, I looked like I had just run a marathon in a business suit. The second time, I spilled beer all over him, and the third time, I could have been mistaken for the delivery man.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, “At least he’s going to remember you! I think there’s more to this than just random encounters, though.”

After this, David and I continued to run into each other on numerous occasions on the street, in offices, at industry events, and on the train, and we soon became friends. Then, unexpectedly, he asked me to join his team at Grubb & Ellis. (Now, after two years of working together, I have only seen him on the train twice.)

“I’ve got to tell you, it’s not often that a stranger on a train hands me a sweaty business card, discusses mystical ideas about the nature of the cosmos, and then pours beer in my briefcase. You definitely made a unique impression,” he said, then added, “I believe that this will be a good place for you, Alan. With us, you’ll have the opportunity to do good work, both in your profession as a businessman and your passion as a Rabbi. Look, I have an idea. Our entire group meets every Monday morning at 8:00 AM, and I’d like you to begin these meetings by delivering a short message. Something about business and ethics. Something inspirational and informative.”

This was certainly a novel idea. A Rabbi/businessman delivering a sermon to a New York City real estate meeting! David had never heard me speak in public, and didn’t ask to review what I was going to say, yet he somehow had the faith that this would work. Initially, I was not so confident.

And so, on one Monday morning in January 2007, I awkwardly stood in front of 100 or so hard-nosed New York real estate professionals to deliver my first message. I had searched for something to talk about that I hoped would be interesting, useful, inspiring, and entertaining to a business community whose reputation is not exactly toward things spiritual. This first message was titled “Donkey for Sale.” (Well, you’ll have to read it to get the reference!)

Where can people buy your book?

The book is currently available on Amazon.com and directly from Pearson.