It can be difficult for a newspaper journalist to write fiction.

Been there. Do that.

I thought about this challenge as I listened to Nina Kiriki Hoffman talk about how to “Widen the World Around Your Story” Nina Hoffmanduring a recent meeting of wordcrafters in Eugene, a literary group.

Nina, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, has been writing and selling fiction for more than three decades and teaches short story writing classes.

She suggests that you include details in your story so that your reader can “taste the candy.” A good time to do that, she says, is while rewriting your story.

After spending more than a half-century writing news stories, I find that adding details requires more blood, sweat and tears than I can often muster.

The normal journalistic practice is to write “tight” when you tackle an inverted pyramid news story. Introduce the subject, then present Continue reading IT AIN’T EASY SWITCHING FROM FACT TO FICTION


I’m learning to cook.

After focusing on preparing breakfast menus for several decades, I am breaking out of the mould and cooking real stuff.

Meatloaf was the first project. With my wife looking over my
new COFFEE CUPshoulder, I weighed a pound of hamburger, mixed an egg, milk and bread crumbs and ended up with a deflated football-looking object that I baked for an hour. Mixed and dumped a sauce that had a lot of brown sugar in it and served slices for lunch. Yummie. And we had left-overs.

I figured it only fair that I relieve my wife of cooking chores in view of her preparing a zillion meals during the past 64 years of our marriage. I’m uncertain, however, whether she will trust me long in the kitchen.

You may ask why my mother didn’t teach me how to cook when I was a boy. Answer: She hated cooking. Her idea of a meal was to wring the head off a chicken, dip the critter in boiling water and Continue reading JOIN ME IN THE KITCHEN WHILE I WATCH THE STEW


Writing a book often is a collaborative process, one involving instruction, critiquing and encouragement.

At least that was the experience of a woman who left Oregon in her Author Photo Finalearly 20s, took a job as a dancer in an Italian circus, married an elephant caretaker she met there and eventually returned home.

Earlier this year she read from the memoir she wrote and rewrote for more than a decade before it was published this summer.

As she read from her book during a Mid-Valley Willamette Writers meeting in Eugene, Oregon, I noted that “this person can write.” I wondered, however, how someone with a high school education and limited formal training could write a book of this quality?

So, I read the memoir and a feature article about this couple that appeared in the local newspaper, The Register-Guard, and sought to find the answer to that question.

Kathleen Cremonesi is the author of “Love in the Elephant Tent: How Running Away With the Circus Brought Me Home,” Continue reading IT MAY TAKE A COMMUNITY TO HELP CREATE A BOOK

No wonder we feel sick viewing so much bleeding

“If it bleeds, it leads” is an axiom that journalists follow in selecting news for display on page one of a newspaper and to lead broadcast PAPER BUNDLEnews shows. We know this practice sells newspapers and increases broadcast viewership. Unfortunately, watching this stuff can make you sick.

No wonder that we feel yukkie after watching and re-watching videos of bombings, beheadings, shootings, beatings, etc., especially when we watch and watch and watch the same scene again and again. You don’t have to be a psychologist to guess at the results.

In a national survey of 2,500 Americans, one in four admitted to feeling a great deal of stress in the previous month and blamed news as one of the reasons for the stress. It’s like a scab on your arm. You pick at it until it bleeds.

Doctors Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen reported this and other survey results and suggested how to combat this maladay in their mid-June newspaper column. Their two leading suggestions:

First, Watch it once. Then turn it off.

Second, Better yet, get your news the old-fashioned way by reading a newspaper.

We know that we’re drawn to bad news. We tend to share what went wrong at the office with a spouse at the end of a work day. We describe how our vacations were marred by unexpected events. Continue reading No wonder we feel sick viewing so much bleeding