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Be Productive not Busy

posted Jul 25, 2017, 7:11 PM by David Alan Binder

Be Productive not Busy

I hear it at my day job every day.

I say, “How are you doing?”

They say, “I’m really busy.” Or some version of that statement.

Translation for what they say:  If I don’t say that, I’m busy, and then people will think that, I just sit in my office and do nothing.  So I have to say I’m really busy or some version of that to get you to buy in to the fact that I’m really no busier than anyone else, in fact, I could be less busy than most but I will not admit it.

Here is a very interesting article that helps explain the 11 Differences between busy people and productive people (all credits to LifeHack.org):


Another article I like a lot is from Personalexcellence.co about “Busy vs. productive: 7 tips to be productive, not busy”:


Personally, I love how they define Facebook and YouTube where we all (admit it, I do) spend waaaaaaay too much time.

I also had to look up what quadrant 2 goals were.  Enlightening.

Yours, David Alan Binder
“After all, if we are not here to help each other, then what are we here for?”

·        Feel free to quote, repeat, tweet, Face Plant (my words).

Do you get it?

posted Jul 20, 2017, 4:08 PM by David Alan Binder

Do you get it?

“The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of communication with yourself and others”

David Alan Binder

Dear Readers and Dear Writers,

So, when I ask you, “Do you get it?” I am asking you a question that will reflect the quality of your communication with yourself.

“It is just as important to not only ask questions, but to listen to the answer."

David Alan Binder

Now I am asking you again, “Do you get it?”  You should answer, “Get what?” unless you are clairvoyant.  The “IT” in this case is “Writing”.

If you get writing then you, understand that it is not only a purpose, a compulsion; it is also a commitment, to yourself only.

No one else in the world cares if you write.  So, you have to care.

No one else in the world may read what you write.  So, you have to read it.

No one else in the world will be impacted by your writing, until they care enough to “get it”.  Sometimes they will not “Get it” until after you die.  That does not matter.

The computer or phone screen in front of you is not a window onto the world.  It is a tool.

The keyboard in front of you is directed by you, controlled by you, manipulated by you and only you.

How do you use your time?  Keep a log and write it out for a week.  Every minute you spend texting counts, every minute you spend on Facebook or whatever social media you are using counts.

“Every minute counts and you should be counting your minutes.”

David Alan Binder

Take all those wasted minutes and use them productively.

Write, Dear Writer and Dear Reader, write.

I am here to help you and you are here to help me.  Let’s help each other.

Yours, David Alan Binder
“After all, if we are not here to help each other, then what are we here for?”

·        Feel free to quote, repeat, tweet, Face Plant (my words).

Paddy Chayefsky

posted Jul 18, 2017, 4:20 PM by David Alan Binder

Paddy Chayefsky

According to Robert McKee:

In a high rise in New York lived a quality writer.  He lived on the fourth or fifth floor (this is in the 1940’s or 1950’s.

His room where he wrote had a window.

His desk and typewriter faced the wall and the window was at his back.


He directed his view of his work environment so that it was for work.

Not surfing, not gazing, not doing anything else but writing.

What does your work area look like?


Rearrange your writing area to be a work area.

Do not kid yourself into thinking you are an artist.  You are first a foremost a worker.

Until you write quality work, you are just a writing hacking around until you hit pay dirt.

Sort of like the 1849 miners who grubbed around in the frigid streams and mud; mucking about until they found that gleam of gold.

Get to work.  Pan the stream of words that you produce.

Find the one glint of gold.

Throw away and put aside that 99 pounds of dirt, rock and what have you that you also found.  It is not the point.  That gleam of gold is the entire point.

Now rinse and repeat.

Thousands of times.

Keep writing.  Only 10% of what you write (according to Robert McKee) is worth keeping.  So learn to rewrite what you just wrote.

Being a miner is hard work.  It takes practice and balance and eventually:

“EUREKA!” will erupt from your mouth.

And you will smile.  Your smile is all that counts.  Do not look at anyone else’s expression; for it does not count.  Only yours.  You will know, Dear Writer and Dear Reader, trust me, you will know and smile.

 “Every minute counts and you should be counting your minutes.”

David Alan Binder

Yours, David Alan Binder
“After all, if we are not here to help each other, then what are we here for?”

·        Feel free to quote, repeat, tweet, Face Plant (my words).

Reject Rejection!!!

posted Jul 15, 2017, 9:39 AM by David Alan Binder

Reject Rejection!!!

“Reject rejection as many times as it takes until it becomes acceptance.” David Alan Binder

Dear Readers and Dear Writers,

Let me preface the information below by saying, when you click on the link replace “screenwriter” with just “writer” and skip the first 7 paragraphs.

Then read starting with the story of Stephen King down through and to the 15 others who were just like him.

Note the emphasis on “were

After you read the link, then get back to writing with fervor!

Here is a link to an excellent article:



There you go!  Dear Writers and Dear Readers now go and write your heart out as only you can.

Yours, David Alan Binder
“After all, if we are not here to help each other, then what are we here for?”

·        Feel free to quote, repeat, tweet, Face Plant (my words), or express any version of this you dare.  Please, dare.

A million ideas

posted Jul 13, 2017, 3:04 PM by David Alan Binder

A million ideas

Dear Writers and Dear Readers, think of all the ideas that are truly unique.


There are not many.


The internet has exploded the idea that what we are thinking is unique.


Search for that unique idea that you have and you will find it.  If not actually find it you will find a similar idea.


What you have is a unique perspective.

What you have a unique way of thinking about things.


All of this transcends “it’s just another idea that has already been thought of” syndrome.

You don’t have to worry about coming up with a unique idea, you just have to worry about how to give it a unique perspective.

No one thinks as you do, you don’t have to worry about someone else’s take on the same idea; it will be different in some particular manner or detail.


Now add your unique voice.  There you go!  Dear Writers and Dear Readers now go and write your heart out as only you can.



Yours, David Alan Binder
“After all, if we are not here to help each other, then what are we here for?”

·        Feel free to quote, repeat, tweet, Face Plant (my words), or express any version of this you dare.  Please, dare.

Mary Lawrence author of the Bianca Goddard Mysteries interview with David Alan Binder

posted Jul 9, 2017, 6:40 AM by David Alan Binder

Mary Lawrence author of the Bianca Goddard Mysteries

Interview with David Alan Binder


·        Links:

http://www.marylawrencebooks.com   https://www.facebook.com/marylawrence.author/



1.     Where are you currently? I live in a small rural community in Maine on 7 acres of land about 25 miles west of Portland.

2.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far? Being a writer is a never ending lesson in patience and humility. You must learn to deal with rejection. No author escapes criticism.

3.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk? I don’t know if it is interesting, but I practice the piano before I start writing. Also, when I get stuck trying to figure out how to say something or which direction the story should go, sitting at the piano and playing music helps me sort it out.

4.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher? I haven’t gone the  self-published route so I wouldn’t be able to compare the experience. I know there are benefits to both. At this stage in my career, if I had chosen to be self-published, I know I wouldn’t have been able to reach as many people or sell as many books. Having your books carried in bookstores without having to knock on doors and convince people to take a chance has helped give me, as a new author, credibility. I still have a lot of marketing and promotion to do on my own, publishers direct their budget to tried and true authors with a known brand. (Or, to those debut authors lucky enough to get a big advance--the publisher will then feel compelled to earn it back by pushing the book.) Also as a traditionally published author, my books are being picked up by libraries and that is significant exposure.


a.      Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located? I am published by Kensington Books out of NYC. They are the largest privately-owned publisher in the country.


5.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing? I don’t believe eBooks will ever fully replace print. Maybe future generations will make the aesthetic leap, but I still feel a reverence for print when I can hold a book in my hand and turn a physical page. Touching and handling a book is a meditation for me and takes me into the story. I guess it is just what you grow up with.

But, so long as people love stories and keep reading, I don’t care in what shape or form they use.


6.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published? Threats, bribes, sleeping with an editor, blackmail--whatever. Nothing works except writing a manuscript that someone loves. Oh, and if you are a celebrity or are already an agent or an editor known in the industry--piece of cake.

7.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one? Go to conferences or pitch sessions. Get yourself in front of an agent physically. They get tons of cold queries and they don’t have time to slog through them all. It’s easy for them to delete a name that means nothing to them. But if you can make an impression on them, if they can associate you with your story then that helps.

8.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)? Foremost, you have to love the art of crafting a story or you’ll never survive the long hours of isolation, self-doubt, rejection, and disappointment.

9.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating? Long car drives work better than anything when I’m trying to hash out plots. I turn off the radio and let my mind entertain me.

10.                        How many books have you written? I have three published, The Alchemist’s Daughter, Death of an Alchemist, and Death at St. Vedast with a contract for two more. I have three others that will never see the light of day in their present form.

11.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? Watch out for melodrama in your scenes. Go ahead and write it that way if that’s what you have to do in order to get it down. Then go back after you’ve given it a good rest and tone it down. Subtlety is more arch--more interesting.

12.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story? Sometimes you need to do the opposite of what you think your reader expects.

13.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd? I’m lucky to have such striking covers. Every time I look at them I see more detail.

I make my stories transportive. I want readers to feel as though they are on the streets of Tudor London alongside my characters. Historical accuracy is important, but I write for an intelligent, modern reader. I have fun with these stories and those who like them understand that. I don’t take myself too seriously.

14.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work? The only thing I do that might be different from the average writer is that I attend Renaissance Faires. My series works very well in that setting. It fits in naturally.

15.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why? I would have gone to more conferences and met more people earlier on. It might have saved me from the endless pain of cold query submission.

16.                        What saying or mantra do you live by? Don’t think you can, know you can.

17.                        Anything else you would like to say? The Bianca Goddard Mysteries appeal to people who love a twisty mystery, or who might have an interest in Tudor London. But even if you aren’t attracted to the Tudor period the stories are worth a try if you like an engaging, quick read. Please follow me on facebook, I aim to entertain! Thanks, David, for inviting me to your blog. 

Michael Hauge interview with David Alan Binder

posted Jul 8, 2017, 6:51 AM by David Alan Binder

Michael Hauge interview with David Alan Binder

Bio:  MICHAEL HAUGE works with people who want to change more lives, and make more money, by telling compelling stories. He has been one of Hollywoods top coaches and story experts since 1985, and has worked with countless screenwriters, novelists and filmmakers. He has consulted on projects starring (among many others) Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise and Reese Witherspoon.

Applying those same, powerful storytelling principles, Michael also coaches independent consultants, speakers, marketers, entrepreneurs and business leaders on using story to transform the lives of their audiences, clients and customers.

Michael is the best selling author of Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read, as well as the 20th Anniversary Edition of his classic book Writing Screenplays That Sell. His latest book, Storytelling Made Easy: Persuade and Transform Your Audiences, Buyers and Clients – Simply, Quickly and Profitably, has just been released in digital and print formats.

Michael has presented seminars, lectures and keynotes in person and online to more than 80,000 participants worldwide.

According to Will Smith, No one is better than Michael Hauge at finding what is most authentic in every moment of a story.




      1.     How do you pronounce your name? 

Like the city in the Netherlands, Hague.  Only spelled Hauge and rhymes with vague.


2.     Where are you currently living?

Sherman Oaks, CA


3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

Regularity is the key to getting things done. My friends Marc LeBlanc and Henry DeVries are business partners, and they say “What you do every day is a lot more important to what you do once in a while.”  It is the regularity of writing that gets things finished, that keeps you moving forward. If you wait until the spirit moves you or if you decide, “Well, I’m going to put everything else first, and then if I have enough time I’ll squeeze in some writing,” it just isn’t going to happen.  If you write every single day, even if it’s for 15 minutes, then you will end up producing something faster and better as well.


[Note:  In case anyone Googles it; Gretchen Rubin is also attributed to saying something similar, “What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.”]


4.     Do you have any suggestions for new writers?

There are a few things:

I’ve been a script consultant in Hollywood for more than 30 years, I’ve worked with novelists for decades as well, and I consult on storytelling with speakers, consultants, marketers and business executives.

For those who are in the fiction arena – screenwriters, filmmakers, novelists – it’s critical to think about the market for what you’re writing.  Once you come up with an idea or story concept, ask yourself who is going to want to see this movie or buy this book? If you’re just writing something because it’s of interest to you, or to honor your dead grandmother, or to vent your feelings about your ex, it’s unlikely to advance your writing career.

You need to be thinking about what makes your story a blockbuster or a bestseller. Or at least why enough people are going to buy enough tickets or copies that it will triple its cost of production. Or more to the point, what is going to make a movie studio or producer or what is going to make a publisher believe that it’s going to make money?

You want to follow your passion and write something that is important to you, that you care about deeply, and that you have a fascination with. But if you’re writing just for yourself and not for a mass audience, do journal writing, or the morning pages Julia Cameron describes in The Artist’s Way.

5.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books?

I don’t have any tricks to my process; I just sit down and start doing it.  Keep in mind that even though I work with storytellers in the fictional arena, my books are all nonfiction, and are designed to instruct people and guide people and help them to be better, more successful storytellers. So for me, my books are about things that I’ve been talking about for some time.

I lecture about screenwriting, fiction writing, pitching and storytelling for business. I also write articles on my website, and most of all I coach people on storytelling.  So the content of my books is pretty clear to me before I begin.

There is nothing magical to the process, except carving out the time do it, and just getting something on the page that I can edit and improve later.


6.     What about newer writers? Are there any particular issues likely to arrive early in one’s career?

Often the biggest hurdle to overcome is regarding your writing career as a real career, and not just a hobby. That means giving it priority over other things that can consume your time: your day job, groups to which you might belong, your friends, and even your family. You have to ask yourself, “Am I treating this as seriously, and with as much commitment, as I would if I were working for a company and getting paid for it?”

I know this from personal experience; the first book I wrote, Writing Screenplays That Sell took me 5 years from the time the time I decided I wanted to do this and do it until it actually got published.  The way I usually describe that is to say it was 6 months of writing and 4 and a half years of procrastinating.  With the second book I wrote, Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds, I had a deadline of with the publisher of six months.  The first two months I was too busy to work on it, so I got that book written in 4 months and the other took 5 years.  It was because the deadline made me give it top priority. You need that kind of commitment to your writing even when you have no deadline – no commitment to anyone but yourself.

7.     How many books have you written?

I’ve written three and collaborated on one more.


8.     Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer?

My whole career has been about telling storytellers tips and tricks. But one that would apply to all writing disciplines, even if you are writing nonfiction, or instructional books or a biography is that you must incorporate storytelling into your work. This is what will make it emotionally involving for your readers. You need to give examples of people who have lived through the themes or messages or lessons you want to teach, so that your readers can learn them through that vicarious experience.


The best stories are very simple. They are built on a foundation of character, desire, and conflict.  They are always about a hero who wants something desperately and they faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve it.  You must know early on who your hero is, what finish line she wants to cross, and what she’s up against both externally and internally. 


Then every element of the story must contribute to that simple through line.  Whatever happens either moves the hero closer to her goal, or it creates more conflict for her.


You want to stay with that simple journey, and don’t start taking side trips into extraneous events or commentary. Don’t fall victim to the idea that a story is just a series of things that happen.


In all the consulting that I do with writers and storytellers, whether they are writing fiction or nonfiction, novels or scripts or speeches or self-help books or marketing emails, the number one weakness I see is that the writing is just too complicated.  It meanders all over the place, readers can’t follow it, and they can’t stay emotionally involved because they’ve lost sight of what they’re rooting for. 


9.     What are some unusual ways in which you promote your work?

I don’t think I do anything unusual.  The primary way my work has been promoted over the years is through lots and lots of lectures and seminars and speeches. I’m presenting my material all over the world, so my name gets known and people who have heard of me buy my book.  Then they might recommend it to other people and so on. That’s supplemented by articles that I write about storytelling that appear on my website and in my newsletter, and then are picked up by other sites or other bloggers and so on. My assistant does social media promotion for me, and I often blog for other people or get invited on podcasts.


If you are a nonfiction writer, it’s critical to get in front of people and share your information. My latest book, Storytelling Made Easy, shows people how to transform people’s lives – and make more money – by telling better stories in a business context. If you are a public speaker or a consultant and you want to pick up clients, or if you’re a marketer and want to sell your services or products, storytelling is critical.


When you’ve mastered that, and can convince audiences and readers of your expertise, and show them your personality, then you can market your books – and your services – in back of the room or in your emails or your interviews or whatever.


The bios and the emails and the advertising about your appearances will include the titles of your books and your contact information. If you are not using your book as leverage to get in front of groups of people and offer your services or expertise or wisdom, you’re not doing everything you should to market your book or yourself.


10.                        One of your books is Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds: The Guaranteed Way to Get Your Screenplay or Novel Read. What are the main principles for pitching a novel? How would that differ for a nonfiction book?

When you are pitching a novel or a screenplay, what you need to do is identify some key elements of the story and then convey those as clearly and as succinctly as possible. You’re not trying to tell the story itself.  If you try and tell the story in any kind of detail you are going to run out of time. Andy potential buyer or agent will be too busy to hear a long, drawn out story. You’re just trying to get them to read your manuscript – nothing more.


For fiction those key elements are:

a.      Who is the hero?

b.     Why do we connect with them, why do we empathize with them or identify with them?

c.      What is their visible goal for the story, what is that visible finish line that they want to cross by the end of the story?

d.     What is the conflict, what are the giant obstacles that the character will have to face in pursuing that goal? 

e.      What are a couple of similar novels in the same genre that would appeal to the same readership or the same demographic? (If you can’t come up with at least two, then you’ve probably come up with a story that a publisher is unlikely to want to publish.

f.       When it comes to nonfiction it is somewhat the same but you want to really narrow in on what is the problem that this book is going to solve for people.  Because if your advising anyone, then you are helping them to solve a problem.  

If you write historical nonfiction, the problem may be that readers don’t know enough about World War 1, or the Women’s Movement, or the discovery of radium, or whatever it might be.

Again, you have to be very succinct and direct. You don’t want to get lost in a thicket of details, you want to hit the broad strokes of the problem and your solution to it.

11.                        Your latest book, Storytelling Made Easy: Persuade and Transform Your Audiences, Buyers and Clients - Quickly, Simply and Profitably is designed for business people who aren’t professional storytellers. Would anything you explore relate to writers of non-fiction books?

No matter where they appear, stories are emotionally involving.  Ultimately, the actions we take all grow out of emotional decisions.


What a story can do, that data can’t do, is give your reader the emotional experience of taking the action you’re recommending. Telling your readers or your audiences that a thousand people followed your advice, and 990 of them were successful, it sounds impressive but it doesn’t carry any feeling.


But if you take just one of those 990 people you tell the story how he overcame serious obstacles and succeeded by following your advice, your readers will identify with him, and they will have experienced his success on an emotional level. This is a much more powerful way to persuade people and move them to action.


If you are writing nonfiction that is historical in nature or journalistic in nature it will also be much more powerful if you can include individual stories about the characters that were part of the history you are writing about.


12.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

There are actually three.  My father-in-law [Art Arthur*] was a screenwriter for almost 50 years (he was also a mentor of mine) and he used to say; there are three secrets to success at screenwriting. 

The first is “don’t get it right get it written”, which means if you obsess over your writing being great, it’s never even going to be good. You’ll simply block yourself. No matter how crappy you think your writing is, just get something down on paper (or on the computer screen). You can make it great when you edit it.

Art’s second maxim was “the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair”. We all would have like to have written a book or a movie, but are we willing to plunk our butts in front of the computer every single day and do the work?  You have to be willing and committed to doing that to be a success. 

His third rule is to “reject rejection”. When you are trying to get your script or manuscript sold, or to persuade an agent to represent you, you can’t take rejection personally.  A “no” simply means your story or your book wasn’t right for that company or that person at that time. Just keep dogging after the people who are going to respond to it. And KEEP WRITING!




*Art Arthur, Michael’s father-in-law, was a screenwriter and writer of the following from IMDB:

Hello Down There (story), Gentle Ben (TV Series), (written by), Daring Game (story), Off to See the Wizard (TV Series) (original story), Birds Do It, I Around the World Under the Sea, Flipper (TV Series), Daktari (TV Series) (creator - 1 episode), Clarence, the Cross-Eyed Lion (story), Zebra in the Kitchen (screenplay), Flipper's New Adventure, Rhino! (screenplay) (story), Sea Hunt (TV Series) (written by - 26 episodes) (writer - 1 episode), Ripcord (TV Series) (written by - 1 episode), The Aquanauts (TV Series) (written by - 3 episodes, The Man and the Challenge (TV Series) (written by - 2 episodes) Battle Taxi (story), Song of India (writer), Northwest Stampede (screenplay) / (story), Heaven Only Knows (screenplay), The Fabulous Dorseys (story and screenplay), Seeds of Destiny (Documentary short), Love, Honor and Goodbye (story), Riding High (screenplay), Salute for Three (story), Lady Bodyguard (screenplay), Priorities on Parade (original screenplay), Dr. Broadway (screenplay), True to the Army (screenplay), Sleepytime Gal (screenplay), Sailors on Leave (screenplay), Sun Valley Serenade (story), Tight Shoes, Hudson's Bay (contributor to treatment - uncredited), Everything Happens at Night (original screen play), Day-Time Wife (screen play), Kentucky Moonshine (screenplay), Love and Hisses (screenplay) / (story), Charlie Chan on Broadway (original story)

Habits to Write By

posted Jul 1, 2017, 7:02 AM by David Alan Binder

Habits to Write By, (Part 1)

This is writers advice from Barry Lancet whom I just interviewed.

So, Dear Writers and Dear Readers follow this link to find out some essential advice:


I am helping you with this advice, now please help me.  Email the authors you have connections with and ask them to contact me for an interview (if they have not, obviously).

Thanks, David Alan Binder
“After all, if we are not here to help each other, then what are we here for?”

o   Feel free to quote, repeat, tweet, Face Plant (my words), or express any version of this you dare.  Please, dare.

Barry Lancet interview with David Alan Binder

posted Jun 24, 2017, 8:53 AM by David Alan Binder

Barry Lancet interview with David Alan Binder

Bio from his website:  Barry Lancet is the author of the award-winning international suspense series featuring Jim Brodie. The latest entry is The Spy Across the Table (Simon & Schuster), which sends Brodie careening from Washington, D.C. and San Francisco to Japan, South Korea, the DMZ, and the Chinese-North Korean border, in a story that predates recent headlines. In one of the first advance reviews, Publishers' Weekly said that "Lancet keeps the suspense high through the exciting climax."

The previous entry in the series, Pacific Burn, explores the tragic aftermath of the Fukushima quake-tsunami disaster and the real reasons behind the nuclear melt down. Japantown, the first Brodie adventure, won the Barry Award for Best First Novel, was initially optioned by J. J. Abrams, and is now under consideration at other studios. The second volume, Tokyo Kill, was a finalist for a Shamus Award for Best Novel of the Year and declared a must-read by Forbes magazine.

Lancet's connection with overseas travel, foreign lands, and Japan began more than thirty years ago with a short exploratory trip from his California home to Tokyo. Five years later, after visiting numerous other countries, his visit to Japan turned into a long-term stay in the Japanese capital, a thriving metropolis he found endlessly fascinating.

Lancet landed a position at one of the country's top publishing houses, and in twenty-five years he developed numerous books across many fields but mostly on Japanese culture—including art, crafts, cuisine, history, fiction, Zen gardens, martial arts, Asian philosophy, and more. All of which were sold in the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world. The work opened doors to many traditional worlds, lending a unique insider's view to his own writing.

One incident in particular started him on his present course of writing, and led to Japantown and the Jim Brodie series. Early on during his return to Japan, Lancet was directed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department to come down to the stationhouse for a "voluntary interview." The MPD proceeded to interrogate him for three hours over what turned out to be a minor, noncriminal infraction.

The police grilling evolved into one of the most intensive psychological battles of cat-and-mouse Lancet had faced up to that point in his stay in Asia, and caused him to view many of his experiences, past and future, in a whole new light. The encounter was also instrumental in shaping Lancet's approach to his novels.


Barry Lancet’s links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * GoodReads * Amazon * Simon & Schuster Page


1.     Where are you currently living?

Japan—I’m an expat American who has lived in Tokyo for more than twenty-five years, but it’s getting dicey with all the increased saber-rattling by North Korea, territory-grabbing by China, and the tension-filled relationship between the two powers. Eighteen months ago I decided to write about those things and more in THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE, never imagining they would grab U.S. headlines the way they have.

2.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

Two things:

If you have the burning need to write, do it, regardless.

Write what you want to write about not “what you know” unless what you know is part of your chosen topic. You’ll always know something of your chosen subject and you can learn or intuit the rest.

3.     What would you say is your most interesting writing?

The latest book, THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE. The protagonist, Jim Brodie, is an art dealer and American expert on Asia who this time around delves into secrets of North Korea and China.

4.     Do you have any insights about self-publishers verses traditional publishers?

There is a case to be made for both. As a former book editor, I wanted to go with a Big Five publisher for my type of book, but I have advised people on self-publishing, as well as the advantages of small and medium publishers, depending on the book.

The pros and cons have been discussed endlessly online but let me add this one vital, often-overlooked point: if you choose the self-publishing route, get a good editor and a proofreader. There are plenty of good freelancers around. Don’t throw your work out there in an unprofessional manner. It’s your name on the cover.

a.     Who is your publisher and in what city are they located?


Simon & Schuster, in New York.


5.     Do you have any suggestions or help for new writers?  Secret tips?

Plenty. As a writer and former book editor, I get asked questions all the time, so I put up a Writers’ Corner on my website here. There are suggestions for some of the most common stumbling blocks and questions.


6.     Do you have any tips for new writers on getting an agent?

I do. “How to Find an Agent” lays down the gauntlet and offers step-by-step guidance. Pay attention to the details and remember this: even lesser-known agents get flooded with queries on a daily basis, so prepare your approach letter carefully. 

7.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned about your creative process?

You don’t need to know every last thing before you begin writing if you trust yourself and, from the second book, the process.

8.     How many books have you written?

Four books to date, the latest being THE SPY ACROSS THE TABLE and the first JAPANTOWN, which won the Barry Award for Best First Novel and landed on many “best of” lists. The second, TOKYO KILL, was a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best Mystery of the Year.

9.     Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

Make your protagonist and antagonist smart and you’ll get your twists.

10.                         What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

A fresh story, a new voice, suspense, sharp writing, and depth. That’s what attracts me and that’s what I attempt to write.

What do you know and will it hurt you

posted Jun 22, 2017, 4:05 PM by David Alan Binder

What do you know and will it hurt you

When I was 8 years old, we went to a small carnival.  It had the usual rides and kiosks and a few carnival type games to win prizes.  Each of us children had our own money that we had saved for months.

In a child’s eye, this carnival is larger than life.  A once in a lifetime extravaganza of magic and lights and excitement.  I did not see the dirt, the carnies were wonderful people who led fantastic lives, and the food was out of this world.  I had not had anything comparable to this, ever.

I saw a game that had crates full of bottles and for 50 cents you could throw 3 rings.  If you got one ring on a bottle then you won a prize.

I begged my parents to try that game.  I knew I would win a prize.  They were hesitant and one said, “Well, it’s your money.  I guess you can.”

My parents did not know anything.  I knew what they did not.  I could not lose!  There were so many bottles sticking up, how, could I not ring one?  I did not know anything about odds.  All I knew was I could do it!

I threw the three rings.

Yep, you guessed it!  I got a ring on a bottle and won a pink stuffed bear.

I had no idea what the prize was, I did not care about odds, or if the game was rigged.  I just did it.


That is my message.


Don’t believe the odds.  Don’t believe the thousands perhaps millions of authors that are writing and trying to get that next big deal.

Just believe you can do it.  In your mind’s eye see yourself having already won the prize. 

That is all you have to do is convince yourself.  You do not have to convince your spouse, significant other, family, friends, or acquaintances.  You have to do this with the conviction.  You not only will do it, but you have done it by doing it.

The rest is history.  You wrote it in your brain, your body just followed that transcript, and it is as good as done.


A tool for you to manipulate yourself into winning.

There is no try.  You cannot try anything.  Try to sit.  You can’t!  Either you sit down or you stay standing up.  There is no trying.  Just do that thing only you can do.

There is only doing, Dear Writers and Dear Readers.

Your opinion and voice matters…email me at ab3ring @ juno . com (just remove the extra spaces)

“After all, if we are not here to help each other, then what are we here for?”

o   Feel free to quote, repeat, tweet, Face Plant (my words), or express any version of this you dare.  Please, dare.

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