I have 15 jobs. So you probably require my services in one way or another.

As the New Year approaches and the endless possibilities of the coming year loom on the horizon, I always like to take a moment and reset my current occupational status, in the event that you or someone you know will require my services in 2015.

While occupations like teacher and writer seem like fairly obvious inclusions on the list, there are also several less obvious jobs on the list that may seem a little silly at first, but let me assure you that they are not.

Many people thought it was silly back in 1997 when my friend and I decided to become wedding DJs, even though we had no experience, equipment, or knowledge of the wedding industry whatsoever. We simply declared ourselves wedding DJs, bought a pile of equipment that we didn’t know how to use, and began the search for clients.

Nineteen years and more than 400 weddings later, we’re still in business.

The same could be said about my decision to become a minister in 2002. Or a life coach back in 2010. Or a professional best man in 2011. Or last year’s declaration that I was a public speaking coach. Or last week’s announcement that I am now a presentation consultant.

All of these positions have either become profitable ventures or at least received interest from potential clients.

The lesson: If you want to do something, just start doing it.  

So here is a list of my 14 current occupations and an explanation of my services. I hope I can be of service to you in 2015. 

Teacher. Sorry. I’ve got a job teaching already, and I love it.

But in about four years, a partner and I plan on opening a one-room schoolhouse for students grades K-5, so if you’re looking for a school for your child at that time (or looking to donate money to build the school), contact me.

Writer: In addition to writing novels, I’ve also written a memoir, a book of essays, a rock opera, a tween musical, and a screenplay. I’m also the humor columnist for Seasons magazine.

image image image image image 

I’m always looking for additional writing gigs, in particular a regular opinion column and/or advice column, so if you have a writing job in need of a good writer, contact me.

Wedding DJ: My partner and I are entering our 19th year in the business. We’ve have entertained at more than 400 weddings in that time. We’ve cut back on our business in recent years, ceasing to advertise or even maintain a respectable website. Almost all of our business these days comes through client or venue referrals, as we prefer.

If you’re getting married and need a DJ, contact me. 

Storyteller and public speaker: I deliver keynote addresses, inspirational speeches, and talks on a variety of subjects including education, writing, storytelling, productivity, and more. I’m represented by Macmillan Speakers Bureau.

I’m also a professional storyteller who has performed at more than 60 storytelling events in the last three years and has hosted story slams for literary festivals, colleges, and more. I’m a 15-time Moth StorySLAM champion and GrandSLAM champions whose stories have appeared on The Moth Radio Hour and This American Life.

If you need someone to entertain, inspire, inform, or emcee, contact me.  

Founder and producer of Speak Up: My wife and I produce a storytelling show called Speak Up. We are based in Hartford at Real Art Ways with additional shows at venues throughout the region, including local schools and The Mount in Lenox, MA.


If you have an audience that would be interested in storytelling, or you’re a storyteller looking to pitch a story for one of our shows, send an email to speakupstorytelling@gmail.com.

Minister: In the past ten years, I’ve married 13 couples and conducted baby naming ceremonies and baptisms. I’ll be marrying two more couples in 2015.

If you’re getting married and are in need of a minister, contact me. 

Life coach: In the past four years, I’ve worked with four different clients, assisting them in everything from goal setting to productivity to personal relationships to career development.

If you’re looking to make changes in your life and become a happier and more successful person, contact me.  

Tutor: I tutor students in grade K-12 on everything from general academics to college essay writing.

If you’re the parent of a student in need of academic support, either regularly or occasionally, contact me.

Storytelling and public speaking coach: For the past two years, I’ve been teaching storytelling workshops and coaching storytellers on an individual basis. People often take my workshops in hopes of performing in storytelling shows and competing in story slams, but they also take these workshops to improve job performance, enhance communication skills, and get their friends and family to finally listen to them.

My real mission is to eliminate the scourge of PowerPoint from this planet, one story at a time.

If you’d like to improve your storytelling, public speaking, and/or communication skills, send an email to speakupstorytelling@gmail.com and get on our mailing list. 

Writing camp coordinator and instructor: Last year my wife and I launched Writer’s Abroad, a four week long summer writing camp for students ages 11-16. We had an outstanding inaugural season and plan on an even better second year in 2015.

If you are the parent of a child ages 11-16 who loves to write and/or could benefit from four weeks of intensive writing instruction designed to improve skills and inspire writers, this camp may be for you. Contact me.

Presentation consultant: Since posting about this position a week ago, I have heard from two people who have expressed interest in hiring me for their fairly new companies at some point in the future. I may also have the opportunity to take on a partner in this business.

If you are a person who delivers content via meetings, presentations, workshops, etc. and would like to improve your communication skills, contact me.

Professional Best Man: Since posting about this position on this blog in 2011, four grooms and two reality television producers have inquired about hiring me for their weddings and television shows that are wedding related. Geographical constraints forced me to reject all their offers thus far. I am still awaiting my first gig.

Productivity consultant: Since posting about this position on this blog in 2013, I’ve had one inquiry about my services.

If you would like to become a more productive person in your personal or professional life and are willing to make changes in order to achieve this goal, contact me.


Professional double date companion: Since posting about this position on this blog in 2011, I have had no inquiries. That does not mean the job is a failure. Just that it has yet to succeed.

If you’re dating someone for the first time or have been on several dates and need that important second or third opinion on the person in question, contact me.

Professional gravesite visitor: Since posting about this position on this blog in 2011, I have had no inquiries. That does not mean the job is a failure. Just that it has yet to succeed.

If you have a gravesite in Connecticut in need of visiting, contact me.

Resolution update: May 2013

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I post the progress of my yearly goals at the end of each month on this blog. The following are the results through May. 1. Don’t die.

I remain perfect on my most important goal.

2. Lose ten pounds.

I gained a pound. Three pounds down. Seven pounds to go. This is a clear refection of my lack of focus on this goal. Seriously. Ten pounds should be simple.

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a day.  Also complete at least two two-minute planks five days per week.


4. Launch at least one podcast.

The hardware is ready. We designated a location in the house and set up the mixer and the microphones. I am working on understanding the software now. Basically, I understand how to record a podcast and can use the recording software fairly well. I am unsure what to do after I have the recording. How do I get my podcast onto the Internet? Into iTunes? Anywhere else it needs to go? Also, I may need a website to host and promote the podcasts, though this blog may serve this function. Still, a page will need to be created. A logo created. Other details I’m not even aware of yet, I’m sure.

5. Practice the flute for at least an hour a week.

The broken flute remains in the back of my car.

6. Complete my fifth novel before the Ides of March.


7. Complete my sixth novel.

Work had begun on the sixth novel.

8. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

Work has begun on all three manuscripts. I’ve decided to revise them all and then choose the one that I think is best to send to my agent.

9. Complete a book proposal for my memoir.

Work on the memoir proposal has begun.

10. Complete at least twelve blog posts on my brother and sister blog.

Seven blog posts published during the month of May. More than halfway to the goal. Two more written by my sister awaiting publication. Kelli finds herself in a position to write consistently for the first time in her life. I’m trying to convince her to write a memoir. The last twenty years of her life have been extraordinarily difficult and would make a great story.

11. Become certified to teach high school English by completing two required classes.

I am now just one class and an inexplicable $50 away from achieving certification. That class will be taken in the summer.

12. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a newspaper.

I’ve have now published three pieces in the Huffington Post and one in Beyond the Margins. I am waiting response on an Op-Ed proposal from a major newspaper as well.

13. Attend at least eight Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I attended one Moth event in May, bringing my total to seven. For the first time ever, I attended a StorySLAM in Boston at the Oberon Theater. I told a story about the day I lost a bike race to my friend and his new 10-speed bike. I finished in first place. It was my fourth StorySLAM victory.

14. Locate a playhouse to serve as the next venue for The Clowns.

The script, the score and the soundtrack remain in the hands of the necessary people. Talks continue on a new musical as well.

15. Give yoga an honest try.

Though I’m ready to try this whenever possible, the summer might be the most feasible time to attempt this goal.

My daughter, by the day, is taking yoga at her school. She demonstrated several poses to me the other day. This yoga stuff seems strange.

16. Meditate for at least five minutes every day.

I missed three days in May because my son is a pain-in-the-ass and wakes up before 7:00 AM.

17. De-clutter the garage.

Work continues. Nearing completion.

18. De-clutter the basement.

Work has begun. I installed the air conditioners this week, which eliminated three large objects from the basement. I also installed a rolling coat rack for the winter coats and have begun throwing away and donating baby paraphernalia that we will no longer need.

19. De-clutter the shed

Work has begun thanks to the work of a student. I will explain in a subsequent blog post.

20. Reduce the amount of soda I am drinking by 50%.

I failed to record my soda intake in April. I will begin tomorrow.

21. Try at least one new dish per month, even if it contains ingredients that I wouldn’t normally consider palatable.

I tried a new food in May but honestly can’t remember what it was. Also, I liked it.

22. Conduct the ninth No-Longer-Annual A-Mattzing Race in 2013.

No progress.

23. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.


Another Yes Man

Back in January, Andy Mayo and I debuted our rock opera, The Clowns, at The Playhouse on Park. During our two weeks of workshop with the actors, musicians and director, there were three performances of the show.

At the Saturday evening show, a man named Kevin Eldridge was present in the audience.

Kevin grew up with me in my hometown of Blackstone, Massachusetts. He was a year or two older than me, but we lived on the same street and took the same bus to school everyday. Kevin and I were the only male flute players in the school system at the time.

Despite our geographic proximity, we were not friends. Acquaintances, perhaps, but we did not spend any time together.

Kevin went to a private school for high school and I continued my journey through public school. For more than twenty-five years, I did not see or hear from Kevin. In truth, I didn’t see or hear much from Kevin when we were kids, either.

Then Kevin heard about my writing career and read one of my novels. He began following me on the Internet. He discussed my book on his podcast.


In reading my blog and becoming a Facebook friend, Kevin heard about The Clowns and surprised me by driving with his wife from their home in Massachusetts on a Saturday night in January to see the performance.

The clowns

Three hours on the road to see the workshop version of a musical written by a kid who he used to ride the school bus with in elementary school.

Last month Kevin surprised me again by showing up for our first Speak Up storytelling event, this time with his podcast co-host, Cornflake.

Once again, I was both honored and stunned.

speak up

It turns out that Kevin and I are cut from the same cloth.

Kevin does not know me well. He did not know what to expect from either event. He was potentially driving three hours from his home to watch a failed attempt at unproven, experimental  entertainment.

But what were his options?

He could’ve stayed home on Saturday night, as so many others did, watching television or going to bed early.

Or he could’ve taken a chance on something new and far away and potentially entertaining and memorable.

Kevin said yes when so many said no.

I like to think that people like Kevin will find themselves with considerably fewer regrets at the end of their life.

A perfect summation of me.

A friend and film writer who gave us some of the best notes that we received following the performance of The Clowns told me he was initially unsure if he should pass on the notes to me.

“I wasn’t sure how you’d react to them.”

Then he had thought about it for a minute and realized that I was the perfect person to receive his notes.

“You’re the best person to receive a note because no matter what I say, I can’t hurt your feelings. And you’re probably one of the worst people to give a note because you don’t care about the other person’s feelings.”

While I like to think that I temper my honesty with civility, decency and respect, he’s probably right.

Lessons and observations from a week of The Clowns.

This evening we will meet to discuss the future of The Clowns, the rock opera that my co-writer and I have spent the last five years writing. With two weeks to reflect on the workshop process that brought The Clowns to the stage for the first time, I had some final thoughts:

1. When collaborating on a project, I strongly suggest that you find a partner who is considerably nicer than you and is willing to put forth 100% effort while gladly accepting 60% from you. It is an ideal situation.

2. When given the freedom and encouragement, actors are like writers without keyboards.

3. Similarly, directors are like editors without red pens. They, however, do not require the encouragement and simply assume the freedom.

4. Watching actors say lines that you wrote and become the characters that you envisioned while listening to the audience around you laugh and gasp and applaud is just as good as seeing your novel on a bookstore shelf.

5. I’ve acted before and thought this while doing so, but two weeks of rehearsals and performances confirmed it: Acting is a form of collaborative, non-competitive sport with much of the physicality of athletics and all of the pressure of a championship game on the line. 


I never know what I’m actually writing about

Long after I finished writing my first novel, SOMETHING MISSING, I discovered, only after my wife and therapist pointed it out to me, that I had written a book about my battles with post traumatic stress disorder, my hatred toward my evil step-father and my longing for my absent father.

I didn’t know any of these things while actually writing the book. These revelations were only pointed out to me much later.

Upon finishing my second novel, UNEXPECTEDLY, MILO, I discovered that I had written a book about the challenges that I’ve faced throughout my life as a result of refusing to conform. Though readers might think me crazy, it turns out that the most noble character in that story (at least for me) is Louis the Porn Fiend, a character who my agent suggested I cut and who only appears in one chapter. Louis’s nobility derives from his willingness to remain true to himself, even though the world around him may be repulsed by this essential truth.

As Budo says in MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, “You have to be the bravest person in the world to go out every day, being yourself, when no one likes who you are.”

In the process of writing MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND, I discovered that I was actually writing about my obsession with mortality and my near-constant existential fear as a result of two near death experiences and a robbery at gunpoint. In fact, an armed robbery takes place in the book, but while writing the scene, it never occurred to me that I might actually be writing about my own experience and the fear still surrounding it.

Books can be funny this way. You think you’re writing about one thing and you’re actually writing about something entirely different.

It turns out that playwriting is the same.

While watching last night’s performance of The Clowns, I wondered why Jake, the play’s protagonist/antagonist, appeals to me so much when so many audience members expressed dislike and even hatred toward the character following the previous show. His likability has been a question that I’ve been considering for quite a while, and the answer finally struck me like a load of bricks last night during the first act.

Jake is me when I was his age.

The Jake who I wrote is far cooler than I ever was, and the actor playing the role is even cooler than the character written on the page, but at his heart, Jake represents someone who I once was, and in that instant, I understood the character completely and knew that needed to be done to mitigate the loathing that audience members felt for him and develop him further.

This couldn’t have happened had not the actor, Richard Hollman, not fully  inhabited the character to the degree he has. I don’t think I will ever think of Jake without thinking of Rich. There may be other actors who play the role of Jake someday, but in my mind, Jake will always be Rich, and Rich will always be Jake. It was only through his performance that I was able to truly see the character, and in many ways, see myself.

All this probably sounds a little hokey (and I agree), but I can’t adequately express how stunned I felt when this realization finally dawned upon me. Not only did the character of Jake become instantly clear to me like never before, but I suddenly understood myself in ways I had never even approached. 

It was an honest-to-goodness moment of epiphany.

Once again, I find myself thinking that I am writing about one thing when in reality, I am writing about another.

I should stop being surprised, but I can’t. It’s so bizarre.

Writing is a strange gig. I often say that I get paid for making up stuff in my head, and while this may be true to some extent, it turns out that writing is far more complex and mysterious than it ever seems.

At least for me. 

Opening night for The Clowns! And perhaps a new way of writing fiction?

Opening night of our rock opera, The Clowns, was a huge success. Over the last eight days, the actors, musicians and director have taken our original vision and brought it do life, and in the process, the show has become so much more complete.

Most surprising for me has been the way in which the actors have informed my vision of the characters. In less than two weeks, each of them have used the script and score to develop their characters into more compelling, fully realized beings. From improved dialogue to newfound aspects to a character’s personality and backstory to something as simple as the way a character walks, the actors have provided me with an enormous amount of material for future revisions.

In many ways, they have come to know these characters better than me. I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve stolen so much from each one of them and plan on doing so much more.

As a novelist, I suddenly find myself wishing that I could have professionals like these performing each of the scenes in my manuscript. I fear that there is so much more that I could learn about my characters if I could involve actors in the process.

Perhaps someday I might give this a try.

Of course, I’ll need enough money to keep professional actors on staff during the writing process, but there is always hoping.

Actually, maybe Kickstarter could help. Would readers be willing to fund a project like this in return for a signed first edition of the novel (signed by rhe author and the actors) plus complete video footage of each of the scenes as performed by the actors involved?

The more I think about it, the more interested I become. 

Our second show kicks off tonight 8:00 PM tonight at The Playhouse on Park. If you’re local and would like to attend, please call the Playhouse on Park in advance. We may be sold out for the Saturday performance.

In the meantime, here is a sneak peek of the show. This was recorded a few days ago during one of our music rehearsals. The song is called Forever, Wrapped Up in a Day, written and composed by my writing partner, Andy Mayo.  

Save the date

The Clowns, the rock opera written by Andy Mayo and myself, continues its march to Broadway with a weekend production at the Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT on January 4, 5 and 6.

This will be staged workshop, meaning actors, directors and writers will spend two weeks perfecting the show (if that’s possible) prior to the weekend performances. We will be in New York City in early December to cast the show and working hard on revising it until then.

Tickets are not yet on sale, but I will let you know when they are.

Hope to see you at the show!


Gratitude journal: Andy Mayo

Tonight I am grateful to Andy Mayo, the person who initially conceived of The Clowns, the rock opera for which I subsequently wrote the book. While I have enjoyed the writing process immensely and am proud of the work that we have produced, none of this would have ever happened without Andy. Though the plot and characters have changed significantly since his original conception, Andy was the one who gave the project structure and backbone.  He handed me the vessel into which I poured my words.

And that was just the beginning.

He wrote and recorded the music, initially singing all the parts himself until managing to assemble a stable of signers to fill the parts.

He forged a relationship with The Playhouse on Park, and he was the driving force behind getting our read-through produced.

He assembled and rehearsed the band.

He designed the posters, post cards and other promotional material for the read through.


He filled many of the seats during our two performances.

I’m sure he did things that I am not even aware of.

For my part, I changed the story a bit, created a new protagonist, fleshed out his original vision of the characters, wrote the dialogue, and apparently changed the show from a drama to a comedy in the process.

But that’s about it.

Andy was the person who made things happen.

Andy was the one who moved this project from imagination to action.

Tonight we met with the producers of the playhouse in order to receive feedback from the read-through and discuss the next stages of the project.  At one point, Andy requested a deadline from the producers, citing his inability to get me to work without one.

In that moment, I realized that Andy has not only been managing this project, but in many ways, he has been managing me as well. Keenly aware of my limited free time and multitude of projects on my plate (including teaching his daughter), he has somehow found a way to keep me focused and invested in this project when other things could have easily pulled me away.

I probably haven’t make things easy for Andy, and yet through it all, he has been positive, energetic, enthusiastic and the consummate partner.

The man has great passion for this project, and I am so grateful to have him on my team.

Or more appropriately, I am so grateful to be on his team.

The Clowns recap

Our reading of The Clowns took place last  weekend, and after a week to digest all that happened, I thought I’d offer a few reflections: 1. Having never written a play before, the prospect of actual human beings performing my lines was both thrilling and terrifying. Thankfully, the Playhouse on Park managed to cast seven truly skilled and gifted actors who both brought the characters to life and belted out the music with remarkable precision after less than seven hours of actual rehearsal time.

I have performed musical theater on that stage in the past, but I am not an actor. Actors are highly skilled individuals with talent and expertise, and it was on display last weekend.


2. Of the seven primary characters in our rock opera, I thought only five belonged in the show. On several occasions over the past couple years, I made efforts to rid myself of my two least favorite characters by marginalizing their roles and generally ignoring them. Despite my attempts, the actors playing these parts brought them to life in a way that I could have never expected. By the end of the weekend, I came to realize that these two marginalized characters were two of the most important in the show. I would have never come to this realization had it not been for the actors performing the roles.

3. Prior to last weekend, I understood the music that my partner had written on only a cursory level. As I wrote the script, I dropped songs into place, reading their lyrics for meaning but never truly falling in love with any of the songs. Hearing them sung by the actors has changed everything, My understanding of the songs has moved beyond the lyrics and onto the song itself. I understand the emotionality of each song now. The feelings that the characters are experiencing while singing. I find myself singing songs from the show constantly, and I now have strong opinions about where songs would be better placed in the show, where lyrics might need to change and what songs deserve to be spotlighted.

4. One of the joys of watching the actors perform was discovering the unintended humor contained with the play. On two occasions the audience erupted in laughter that I had not planned. In both cases, I turned to my writing partner and said, “I didn’t write that line!”

“Yes, you did,” he said,

And he was right. The line existed on the page, but the humor contained within the line had been lost to me until the actor managed to bring it forth.

Nothing is better than a free laugh.


5. The show still needs a lot of work. The list of revisions that I have are endless, and by the time I am finished, I suspect that the show will bare little resemblance to what was performed last weekend.

That said, I think people enjoyed the performance a great deal.

6. After each performance, the audience was invited to share their opinions with us during a talk-back session and on comment cards. I was happy to see that audience members were willing to share and were not shy about criticizing specific elements of the show.


I’ve also received a great deal of criticism privately from friends, and all of it will help me a great deal. There are many, varied opinions on the show, and I think this is good. It’s a sign that the characters, the plot and the music engaged people.

7. Two specific struggles that I have in terms of revision are this:

  • The rock opera is based upon an actual opera, and playing upon traditional operatic themes, I did not want to write a happy ending for any of the characters. In fact, the final line of spoken dialogue is “No happy endings” and this was intentional. While I like this stark realism, I realize now that I must also consider if an audience member wants to spend two hours in a theater and walk away feeling less than inspired. While a novel need not end happily in order to satisfy a reader, a play might, and I will need to reconcile this during revision.

    I suspect that in place of a genuinely happy ending, I will be offering the audience some form of marginal optimism in hopes that this will be enough to satisfy them.

  • Of the three female characters in the play, two were characterized by audience members as doormats, and in many ways, they are. While one of these characters ultimately takes control of her destiny and moves on in a relatively superficial way, the female lead ends the show where she began: willingly engaged in a relationship with an unfaithful boyfriend, with no hope or vision for the future.

    Some of the most harsh criticism has centered on the hopeless, pathetic nature of these female characters, and the lead in particular. While I agree that the female characters were one-dimensional and (most egregious) unfunny, I am left wondering if I am required to write a female lead with greater likeability and ambition.

    I have known women who hang onto the wrong guy for a long time, even in the face of mounting evidence that he is not right for them. Hell, I know women like this right now, and I suspect that in the music world, this dynamic occurs even more frequently.

    This is the kind of woman I wanted to portray in the show. This is the woman whose motivation and purpose I wanted to explore.

    But this may not be what the audience wants to explore with me.

It’s interesting to note that of the four male characters in the show, all are failures to one degree or another as well.  None of the three musicians have any future in music. Three are womanizers (one downright lecherous) and the other spends most of his time playing online videogames with kids.

Hardly impressive. Yet not a word of criticism for their portrayal.

It’s also interesting to note that the only criticism of the female characters has come from women, and in speaking about this subject, some women have become downright angry about the portrayal. It’s as if the marginalization of my female characters was taken personally. While at least a couple men have commented on their one-dimensional nature, none have criticized the female characters for appearing pathetic, hopeless or unrealistic.

It makes me want to conduct a sociological experiment in which I write two versions of the same play. In one, the male lead will be hopeless and pathetic.  In the other, the female lead will be the lame one.

Then we ask for feedback and see if there is a disparity of opinion based upon the version of the show and the sex of the audience member.

But that’s for another day.

I have revisions to work on.

Julie Andrews trumps the Patriots

I missed my first Patriots home game in three years yesterday while attending the final performance of our rock opera, The Clowns. Don’t get me wrong. I couldn't have been more thrilled to see my work performed onstage, but missing the game was tough on me.

The fact that the Patriots lost their first regular season home game in almost three years made my absence infinitesimally more palatable.

But my friend and fellow Patriots season ticket owner, Shep, made no attempt to make me feel better about missing the game.

In fact, he actively tried to make me feel rotten about it.

Only after he was in the stadium did he divulge that his girlfriend, who was sitting in my seat, was a fan of the Giants, the Patriots’ opponent.

Had I known this earlier, I would never have given her my ticket, which I suspect Shep probably knew.

He also sent me texts and photos from the pre-game tailgate party, including this exchange of texts and photos which illustrates how my day went rather well:

Shep:  Norwegians (friends of ours), ribs and cornbread in the parking lot.


Me: Men talking about Julie Andrews. Literally.


The Clowns final rehearsal

Just one week before The Clowns, our rock opera, hits the stage! The band had a final rehearsal during Saturday’s snowstorm.

Next Saturday, the band and the actors come together for the first time for an all-day rehearsal before the Saturday evening performance.

This all began back in 2007 when friend and colleague Andy Mayo approached me with nine songs, all recorded and sung my him (female parts included), and the basic outline for a rock opera.

Looking for someone to flesh out the story and write the dialogue, he asked me if I would be interested.

I said yes, assuming that nothing would ever become of it.

Boy was I wrong.

Here’s a peek into a few of the songs that will be performed at part of the upcoming show. The person singing is Andy Mayo, who will be required to sit throughout the rehearsal and performances on Saturday and Sunday.

I don’t see it happening.





The Moth and The Clowns: Save the dates

A couple of Save the Dates I wanted to make you aware of in the event that you are interested in attending: First, I am performing at The Moth's GrandSLAM storytelling event on Monday, October 17 at the Highline Ballroom.

431 West 18th Street in NYC.

Doors open at 6:00 for dinner and drinks. Stories begin at 7:30.  I will be competing against ten other StorySLAM winners from the previous six months of competitions. I’ve attended a GrandSLAM once and it was a lot of fun.

Obviously I don't expect any Connecticut friends to join us for a Monday night in the city, but tickets will be available soon if anyone is interested in attending.

If you'd like to come, let me know and I'll inform you when tickets are available (it should be very soon), or check The Moth's October event listings for when they go one sale.

Second, The Clowns, the rock opera that Andy Mayo and I wrote, will be performed as a staged reading at the Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT on Saturday, November 5 at 8:00 PM and Sunday,November 6 at 2:00 PM.

No advanced ticketing. A suggested donation of $5 is being accepted at the door.  And please spread the word. We'd love to fill the playhouse for both shows!

Mark those calendars if you are interested in attending either event, and thanks as always for all of the support!

image image

Come to the Show!

It’s official! There will be a staged reading for The Clowns, the rock opera written by Andy Mayo and myself, at the Playhouse on Park in West Hartford, CT.

The Playhouse has hired a director, a music director, and a stage manager. Auditions will take place in the next couple months, and if I would just wrap up the script, we’d be ready to go!

Shows will be on Saturday, November 5 at 8:00 PM and Sunday, November 6 at 2:00 PM. There will be no advanced ticketing. A suggested donation of $10 will be collected at the door.

It should also be noted that this is a rock opera written for an adult audience. The story centers on a group of twenty-something rock musicians, and so the language and situations presented are reflective of these conditions.

I only mention this because Andy and I are elementary school teachers, and I didn’t want anyone to assume that this was a G-rated show.

Come to the Show is the name of the first song in the show, and I hope you will all heed its call and show up for an exciting night for me and Andy!


The latest

Some recent writing-related news that I thought I’d share: 


We sold the Korean rights to MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND this week, bringing the total number of languages that the book will be published in to eight! My super agent is simply super.   


The rock opera that my friend and collaborator, Andy Mayo, and I wrote has been approved for a staged reading at our local playhouse, complete with real actors, a real director and a real band.  

This is the first step in a someday-maybe-full production of the show (and hopefully the sale of the script), and we couldn’t be more excited.  We’re looking at weekends at the end of October or beginning of November for the reading, and once we lock up a date, I’ll be sure to share it.  The reading will be open to the public, and there will be opportunities to comment on the script and music after the show via a moderated question-and-answer session.


It looks as if I will be conducting writing classes at a local bookstore this summer, and this may include a class on finding a literary agent.  I’ll keep you updated in the event that you are interested in attending. 


I have two appearances coming up in April and May. 

I will be speaking at the the Books on the Nightstand retreat from April 8-10 in Manchester, Vermont.  The registration for this event is closed, but if you love books and reading, you should consider downloading and listening to the Books on the Nightstand podcast, hosted by Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness.  They are the organizers for the April retreat, and their knowledge of books and the publishing industry is second to none.   

I will also be speaking at the Connecticut Book Festival on May 21-22 at the Greater Hartford Campus of the University of Connecticut.  This event is open to the public and will include writers such as Wally Lamb, Jim Benn and Connecticut Poet Laureate Dick Allen. 


I think I have finally settled on my next book.  Over the past month, I have been working on four different novels simultaneously, including a sequel to MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND.  I was hoping that as I wrote, one story would assert itself as the next to be born and shine above the rest. 

To be honest, this hasn’t really happened.  All four stories are proceeding along nicely, but trying to write four books at the same time is making me crazy.  So I’ve settled on one for now.  My editor and publisher may request some input in terms of my next book at some point in the future, so my decision may change, but for now, I am officially working on THE PERFECT COMEBACK OF CAROLINE JACOBS, the story of a woman who decides to return to her hometown after more than twenty years in order to issue the perfect comeback to an insult that was directed at her in high school.

There’s much more to the story, of course, but that’s where the idea began.

Thanks as always for all of the support!

Rock opera update

Last night my friend, Andy, and I had our first reading (and listening) of the rock opera that we have been working on for several months.  A group of friends gathered round my dining room table, gobbled pizza and drank beer, and read the parts that were assigned to them for the evening. 

It was a lot of fun. 

It was the first opportunity for me to hear Andy’s music and my dialogue come together, and even though much of what I had written sounded like nails on a chalkboard, I thought that together, we had the potential for something good. 

It needs work.  Lots of work.  But I think we’re off to a fine start.

The greatest challenge for me throughout this process has been attempting to write a story that someone else has already outlined.  The opera began with about a dozen songs and the outline of a story that Andy had conjured up during a fit of boredom.  Since then it has grown to eighteen songs, and I have begun to flesh out the characters and plot that Andy had originally imagined through characterization, plot and dialogue.  But throughout the writing, I have attempted to remain as loyal as possible to my friend’s original concept, and it hasn’t been easy.  The first thing I did was change the protagonist, inventing one that I found more interesting and sympathetic, and necessitating the writing and recording of more music.  I’ve added other, minor characters along the way and shifted the plot a bit, but each time, I’ve felt more and more guilty for not staying true to Andy’s original vision. 

Last night’s reading, however, was enlightening.  Our friends seemed to agree that for the most part, Andy’s music rocked but the underlying story didn’t hold up under scrutiny.  There wasn’t enough dialogue to make the characters real and believable.  There wasn’t enough back-story.  The characters, except for my protagonist, were flat, lifeless and oftentimes irrelevant.  In short, my friends sent me the message that I must do more, and in doing so, they gave me permission to be creative.

Andy has already encouraged me to be creative many times throughout the process.  He has told me on several occasions that I have the freedom to do as I will, but I think I needed to hear this from someone other than the man who gave birth to the idea.  I’ve been so worried about stepping on his toes that I have been afraid to take a single step.  Now that the critics have spoken, I am ready to take a leap and put my stamp on this rock opera.

I find myself more excited than ever about it.