writing, writing tips

A Writer’s Guide to Coronavirus Quarantine Life – Part 2 (The Reckoning)


Still Inside…

Years ago, I wrote a story about a group of people stranded in a desert town, dying from unseen radiation poisoning, and trying to figure out where they fit into the plan of the world.

It seems strangely relatable now, minus the radiation and mutants.

It’s been roughly six weeks since I wrote my first post about writing while under the Coronavirus stay-at-home orders, and in that time I’ve mostly managed to keep to my routine. There have been slip ups, and low points, but overall I am managing.

I continue to adhere to the exercise regiment each morning when I wake up to early morning silence. I’m also trying to eat plenty of green vegetables and other healthy food, and take in deep breathes of fresh spring air, weather permitting. New England has had a cold, generally raw spring befitting the situation. No Murder Hornets though. Not yet anyway.

What I’ve Learned

  • Creativity is fickle – No matter what kind of routines you adhere to, this bizarre scenario is just mentally & creatively exhausting. With all the new roles roles people have begun taking on as caregivers, teachers, and remote-employees, plus the economic stresses, it all compounds to take a toll. If you’re a writer, go easy on yourself. I beat myself up a bit over an “empty tank” a few weeks ago, but after some conversations with peers realized many creative people are stifled right now. Even my WordPress Reader feed is a bit sparse these days!
  • Creativity is important – Writing is a mental health exercise for many people. Losing the glow of that creative spark can be distressing, even if it is temporary. That’s why I say it is OK to be upset about writer’s block, or whatever creative endeavors fuel you, even if they seem “trivial” compared to what’s happening in the world right now. If it’s important to you and helps you stay sane and healthy, then it is important. Don’t let anyone minimize lack of creativity as insignificant.
  • Creativity comes back – Don’t think that once it is gone it’ll never return. It will. I’ve found that on better days I will get a quick burst of inspiration. Sometimes it gets triggered by the aroma of a new coffee (I have so many flavors to buy and try) or intense sunshine on a clear morning. Whatever it is, I capitalize as much as I can. One week it was a single sentence, another it was 5000 words in a day. I just go with it when it shows up. The only thing that remains consistent is that inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient times, just like it did in the “before times”.

If you’re out there reading this I hope you are safe, well, and making the best of your particular situation. This will all end eventually, and when it does I look forward to drinking coffee in book stores and going to author events again.



How The Book Business is Coping with Coronavirus

Credit: Publisher’s Weekly

Coronavirus is upending nearly every industry on Earth.

The book industry isn’t immune. It’s been crazy to see such a sudden shift in consumer behavior (mandated or self-imposed) over just the past few weeks here in the USA and through news reports around the world. I’m very thankful for my Kindle, and I made sure to grab a new book from my local indie bookstore before it was forced to shut down this week.

Jim Millot over at Publisher’s Weekly wrote this fascinating article on how the publishing industry, which isĀ notoriously slow to change and adapt, has been forced to adjust. Especially around live events and their love/hate relationship with Amazon who is (rightfully) focusing on inventory of basic necessity items for customers.

There is also a major toll on brick & mortar book sellers, especially the 800 lb. gorilla Barnes&Noble who were already teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

I’m not sure what will happen with this situation, but it has made one thing very apparent to me.

Books are one of the single most well-engineered pieces of information and entertainment. No wifi, electricity, or connectivity needed. It’s no wonder they are still going strong after centuries.


article, writing tips

A Writer’s Guide to Coronavirus Quarantine Life


Life, Disrupted

By now we realize that Coronavirus has disrupted nearly everyone’s daily lives.

Whether you are self-quarantined, or just social distancing, it can be very tough to keep your creativity and writing output up. It seems counter-intuitive. Writers all over the globe are exactly where we should be right? In front of our keyboards. But any combination of health & financial stress, working from home, caring for children, and home schooling is absolutely disruptive and exhausting. It can make you just want to curl up into a ball and not write or do ANYTHING creative at all.

I’ve been home for about two weeks now. When I received my work from home announcement, I thought whoa, so much writing opportunity! and I was completely wrong. I wasn’t even able to utilize my usual lunch breaks to get words in anymore. This combined with feelings of anxiety and even mild depression from isolation (I’m one of those weird extrovert writers) tanked my output. This past week however, I carefully managed a routine, and it has helped quite a bit. My word count is up, and most importantly, so are my spirits. Here’s what I’ve been doing. Everyone’s situation is different right now, so these may not work for you, but I hope they might help some of my readership out.

Continue reading “A Writer’s Guide to Coronavirus Quarantine Life”


French Bull Clip On Book Light by WITHIT – Review

Ah, the humble reading light. Such a simple device in theory, but so nuanced in execution.

I’m on a perpetual quest for the perfect reading light. As someone who cannot let go of physical books (although I love my Kindle) I need a light for night reading. The lamp on my nightstand is OK, but often I want to fall asleep and it’s simply too much.

I’ve gone through bunch of clip-on lights, and many of them had significant drawbacks. Recently I purchased a “French Bull” Reading Light from WITHIT, and it has become my go-to clip. Here’s why.


The French Bull clip light is extremely well designed. It is small, and fits perfectly on a paperback without being intrusive. Its wire neck is pliable, but holds firmly in position even after months of regular use. The LED light is also centered on the unit head, and broadcasts light well across small and larger pages. Finally, there are silicone pads on the clip which prevent damage to your book, and the device comes in a number of snazzy colors and patterns


The French Bull is bright. But not TOO bright. It’s a “Goldilocks” brightness with less-than-blue LED, which I find pleasing. It doesn’t keep me awake, and the light is center-down so it stays inside the book rather than broadcasting all over the room. This is perfect for anyone who reads in bed and doesn’t want to keep a partner or kids awake at bed time. It’s also great if you’re reading on a flight or train and don’t want to disturb the person next to you. I have another light that might as well be a camping lantern. It is so bright it keeps me and my neighbors awake. I can successfully drift off while reading and not suffer any eye strain.


The French Bull reading light is powered by two “coin cell” batteries that are widely available, and it has a solid battery life. I’ve had it go a few months on one set with a few hours of use each night. The batteries are easy to replace with no screwdriver needed. While some people like a rechargeable USB, I personally like having an extra set of batteries in my night stand because if the USB light dies, your reading is done for the evening. With the French Bull I can pop in a fresh pair and keep going.


It has survived multiple drops, spilled coffee, and three separate cat attacks. The worst that happened was the battery cover came off during one of the falls and the batteries flew out. The unit still works perfectly fine. The battery cover is not secured by a screw, which might irritate some people, but I don’t mind as it hasn’t come loose on me other than dropping it by accident.

Worth It?

My vote on the French Bull Clip On Book Light by WITHIT is a resounding “YES”. For roughly $10, it has more than paid for itself in the amount of use I have gotten reading with it.

There might be better reading lights out there, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find one that works as well (and looks as sharp) as the French Bull. Recommended if you’re in the market for a book light.


Hachette employees stage walk-out over Woody Allen Memoir

Credit: NPR.org

Hachette Book Group employees working for Grand Central Publishing and Little,Brown staged a walk-out on Thursday afternoon after discovering that their parent company was publishing Woody Allen’s memoir Apropos of Nothing.

The controversial memoir was passed over by numerous major publishers, and Hachette group accepted and published it quietly while also publishing Catch and Kill, a book by journalist Ronan Farrow that included allegations of abuse by Allen. Farrow is the son of Allen’s ex-wife, actress Mia Farrow.

This is certainly bad form on a publisher, and doubly so not giving any notification to Farrow or the Catch and Kill team given the sensitive subject matter they were working on. The HBG group employees are walking out in solidarity with Farrow and the book’s team.

What are your thoughts on publishers making money off of controversial memoirs? This isn’t the first time a big publisher has caused a stir by publishing non-fiction centering on a celebrity with a less-than-stellar reputation.

UPDATE: HBG has officially stated they will not be publishing Woody Allen’s memoir.