Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

Finishing School Book Will Be Available January 10

October 23rd, 2016 No Comments



Why don’t we finish the projects we love? This is the topic of the book I wrote with Cary Tennis that lays out a practical and simple solution to gaining control of your time, and finishing your work.

We found that the major obstacles to finishing are the Six Emotional Pitfalls, which we explore in the book: shame, fear, judgment, doubt, yearning and arrogance.  With chapters like I’m A Terrible Writer, I’ll Never Get Published, The Winchester Mystery Novel: Denying Mortality By Constantly Revising, I’ll Never Know Enough, and I Don’t Need Any Help, I’d Rather Fail In Secret we upend the punishing phrases that haunt writers who are having a difficult time completing their work.

All is not bleak, however.  The Finishing School method is a supportive system that cuts away these fears and bleak self-assessments.  By doing the method, every week the writer finishes something and gradually, inevitably, gets it done!

We are so pleased that the book was bought by Penguin/Tarcher, a publishing house with a strong tradition of creating books about creativity and writing. January 10, with their help, we will share this with the world.

Finishing School Book Goes Out For Sale!

March 10th, 2015 No Comments


Why don’t we finish the projects we love? We start out with high hopes and a big burst of energy, but then doubt, judgment and fear overtake that strong beginning. The sparkling idea becomes source of shame, but yet we can’t let it go. After a while this beloved expression of our creativity hangs around in an undefined space somewhere between procrastination and giving up. It nags at us. It makes us feel bad about our past and our future. We fear we’ll never finish and we also fear what will happen if we do. This is the pervasive agony that Cary Tennis decided to address when he thought up Finishing School and we decided to write a book about his method of getting that project done.

Today “Finishing School: The Happy Ending To That Project You Just Can’t Seem To Get Done” goes out to publishers for sale, and we’re very excited about it.

Finishing School worked for me, someone who usually has no trouble finishing things. Being a journalist my whole professional life has given me a very practical approach to my work. I turn things in on deadline knowing it is as good as I could make it in the time I had. Yet I ended up in Finishing School when found myself with a project close to my heart that dragged for years. The occasional attempts to finish it forced me into all the dodges and vanities. After two months in Finishing School I’d completed a second draft.

I was amazed that Cary’s method worked for people who had abandoned their novel eighteen years ago as well as for someone like me. In the two months I was in Finishing School people were more productive, more decisive about their work, than I’d ever seen in another writing group.

When Cary and I decided to write this book, we started to analyze all the emotional factors that prevent people from finishing. As a result we came up with a fresh take on the writers block. I can share more of that once the book is sold but for now, all of you out there with half completed novels in a dusty corner of your desktop, don’t lose hope. Finishing School doesn’t require you to become a better person who is more organized, more disciplined and has life under control. You also don’t have to undergo years of therapy. Finishing School frees you up and you can simply write.

Today our agent Linda Loewenthal sent it out to ten publishers and we’ve got our fingers crossed to contain our excitement.

Just Trying To Do My Job In The Age of Surveillance

December 2nd, 2013 No Comments

Edward Snowden says encryption works but, after attending an evening about protecting your sources as an investigative journalist, it was pretty clear to me that encryption works only for those technically adept enough to get it up and running. And that journalist must be communicating with people who are also geeky and determined enough to do the same.

The presentation, which was sponsored by Hacks and Hackers, featured Parker Higgins, freedom of speech activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a place that knows better than most what the NSA is up to.

I approached the evening thinking that there I would find a solution to my journalism dilemma. I work with a number of sources who want to remain private but, in the age of universal surveillance, I can’t guarantee them that someone isn’t eavesdropping on us.

Parker said there were four basic tools journalists can use to shield themselves and their sources from surveillance, methods that will be encrypted, untraceable, verifiable, and private.

• OTR – secure instant messaging
• PGP/GPG – encrypted email
• TOR – anonymous browsing
• HTTPS – encrypts your communications with many websites

Each of them has advantages, and each has flaws.

With OTR, if both parties are using the protocol, the messages are encrypted, but the metadata (which shows who you communicated with and for how long) is still available. Therefore OTR doesn’t provide any deniability. This means it’s traceable and not really private.

With PGP/GPG communications are encrypted and secure, but again both parties must be using it and have exchanged encryption keys. One could download the encrypted message onto a thumb drive, move it to an air gap computer (one that has never been hooked up to the internet) and decrypt it using the key. But PGP/GPG is pretty hard to install, Parker said. If either partner fumbles any of the steps, the whole system won’t work.

TOR, in contrast, is simple to use and ensures that your communications ricochet around the globe eight or more times, thereby making them untraceable. The problem comes when these communications arrive at the destination. When they leave TOR and arrive in your correspondent’s computer, they are easily captured by whatever entity is watching you.

HTTPS is also an established and easy-to-use protocol, but it’s not always available and therefore you don’t always know if your communications remain private.

At the conclusion of his talk Parker said that if the government wants to get you, they’ll get you. You can use all these tools and tricks, but in the end, they have better tools available to them than you’ll be able to lay your hands on and have a big staff of skilled and determined specialists.

I left the evening understanding that I was looking for something that doesn’t exist: a secure communications bundle of software that I could install easily and provide to sources that would offer all of us freedom, security and anonymity. Parker said that doesn’t yet exist.

“If you want to get paranoid, you can get really paranoid,” he said.

I think most of us don’t want to be any more paranoid than we already are. We just want to be able to do our work and live our lives with a reasonable expectation of freedom, just like the constitution promises us we can.

Ah the constitution, that quaint little artifact of the pre-digital era.