Happy New Year! Here is a fun and meaningful story for you writers out there. I first presented it a few years back in my writers’ newsletter, so there are some dated references, but also a number of updates. Enjoy!


Dr. Paul Bernstein

Dr. Paul Bernstein

So, why should you “acknowledge” your writing coach? (And why the heck is the word in quotes?) This is a story in two parts. The first is about Dr. Paul Bernstein, a passionate writer, long-time student, client, and good friend. Over the years, Paul—a head and neck surgeon with Kaiser Permanente, and now its medical director for the San Diego area—has written some solid medical thrillers, stories good enough to land top representation. But, as it goes in this business, no book deals were forthcoming. Still, he persevered, and a couple years ago he switched gears to write a novel, Courage to Heal, which he workshopped with my read/critique group and later had me edit. The story, heavily steeped in fact, is about Dr. Sidney Garfield, the industrialist Henry Kaiser, and the birth of not only Kaiser Permanente but also of the HMO system as we know it. This strong effort (in my humble opinion) met with considerable resistance from literary agents, prompting Paul to go the POD (print on demand) route. With the support of Kaiser Permanente, sales for Courage to Heal were actually quite impressive.

Part two: enter Jennifer Redmond, [at the time] editor-in-chief at Sunbelt Publications, and one of the nicest people that I know in this business. Jennifer and I had crossed paths at a number of writers’ conferences during the past year, including the SCWC in February. A month after that conference, out aa sidof the blue, I received a note from Jennifer. She had picked up a book called Courage to Heal, had read it, and had thoroughly enjoyed it. In the “Acknowledgements” she noticed that Paul had given me “…credit for its creation” and asked if she could put me in touch with him. Hey, no problem!

The rest is history. Courage to Heal (Sunbelt Publications, available in paperback and eBook) was published later that year. Dr. Paul Bernstein had his first “legitimate” publisher. It a couragewouldn’t be his last. (In fact, Paul’s medical thriller, Flashblind, was published in 2012.)

Congratulations, Paul and Jennifer. As for the rest of you: always remember to “acknowledge” your writing coach.

SWORDS & SPECTERS: my adventure-fantasy novel, The Sorcerer of Mesharra, the third book in the Ro-lan series, will be available for free download on Amazon Kindle from Friday, January 4th through Sunday, January 6th.

I wrote four Ro-lan novels back in the 1980s, and I rewrote and reissued the first three last year. The series chronicles the ongoing clash between Roland Summers and his friends, and the evil Ras-ek Varano, the self-proclaimed Master of Boranga, on a parallel world called Konis. (The everlasting battle of good vs. evil.)Throughout the decades I’ve received notes, emails, and face-to-face queries as to how the story all came out. Did Ro-lan defeat the Master, and if so, how? Good questions, because—I’d always wanted to know the same tSorcerer Low Reshing! Book Four, back then titled, The Demons of Zammar, left Ro-lan and the others in pursuit of the nasty Ras-ek across the deadly seas of Konis.

Not to worry: in the year ahead I intend to rewrite Book Four and add a new ending that will put closure to Ro-lan’s quest once and for all. I’ll keep you “posted” on that (pun intended).

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