My contest win in 2001
My contest win in 2001

If you published a book, you probably want to enter it in a book contest. If you win, you will get a nice sticker to put on your cover and ads. If you don’t, you still get something all authors need: Someone to read your writing.

I’ve been an entrant and a judge of book contests. The experience reminds me of something I did years ago, Toastmasters speech contests. Like book contests, speech contests have a number of categories, a set of rules to be followed, and guidelines to determine which works deserve to be recognized. …


When the pandemic began, I wondered how children would see this crisis. After 13+ months of masks, remote school, and limited activities, what children want is reassurance. One way we as parents can offer them this is through stories.

I recently reviewed The Safe Return by Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans. This beautifully illustrated and written book offers a simple, but powerful story. We see children doing what children do: riding bikes, spending time with dad and friends, and dealing with falls and lost toys. The fact they are all wearing masks shows how life goes on, even in challenging…


Joseph Carrabis, author
Joseph Carrabis, author

One benefit of social media is you meet some wonderful people. One of them is author Joseph Carrabis. He has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a chief research scientist. He has taught internationally at the university level; holds patents in a base, disruptive technology; created a company that grew from his basement to offices in four countries; and helped companies varying in size from mom-and-pops to Fortune 500 companies develop their marketing. Most of this bored him. But give him a pen and paper or a keyboard and he’s off writing, which is what he does full-time now.


Here’s the latest on some projects that I’m working on this year.

My NaNoWriMo project has a complete draft and new title

Although I “won” NaNoWrimo back in November by finishing the first 50,000 words of my new novel, I had more work to do before I could call the draft complete.

Part of that work was to give the novel a new title. The painting my character creates became an important part of the story, so I changed the title to Christina’s Portrait. It fits the theme of the story as characters in 1977 and 2021 try to understand the tragic character at the center. As I developed that…


That thing again…
That thing again…

Since everyone else is doing the “it’s been a whole year since…” thing, I’ll do it too. It’s been a whole year since I last stepped foot in my office at work. My wall calendar is probably still stuck at March 2020 like the hands frozen on a pocket watch after a disaster. I have a large collection of masks. I’ve dried out my hands from overwashing and hand sanitizer. …


Last month, I wrote about the joys of indie children’s books. One of the books we discussed in the WriteOrWrong Virtual Book Club was Build With Bricks by Ray Allen Price. (You can watch our full discussion on Facebook.) Ella Clarke called it, “Very smart, life lesson book by Ray Price! Loved the themes, the play on words, and the weaving of a well known children’s tale. Enjoyed tremendously. Highly recommended!” And in my review, I said:

This clever retelling of “The Three Little Pigs” offers life lessons with contemporary twists and smart humor. Children will relate, and parents will…


My reward for 7 days of activities
My reward for 7 days of activities

Since I joined WW in October 2019, I’ve learned a number of valuable skills that have helped me get healthy. One of them is to look for non-scale victories. This has helped me in dropping weight, and it has many other applications in life.

With most weight-loss programs I’ve been on, the focus was exclusively on weight. Every week, you are hauled before the scale to face judgement. And the number that appeared offered either effuse praise or ridicule. “Oh, you only lost a half a pound? You must not be trying very hard. Look at Julia. She lost four…


Yes, it’s a vaccine after all
Yes, it’s a vaccine after all

Some of my family members are getting their COVID-19 vaccine at Disneyland this week. I wrote this in their honor.

It’s a world of dread and a world of fear,
And we’ve been locked down for a whole damn year.
No more cause for dismay,
Because hope’s on the way,
It’s a vaccine after all.

It’s a vaccine after all.
It’s a vaccine after all.
Since FDA made the call,
It’s a vaccine after all.

If only the last guy had done his job
Instead of inciting an angry mob.
Who needs Lou Dobbs or Q
When Dr. …


The cuddly star of a children’s book
The cuddly star of a children’s book

My wife and I enjoyed reading to our children when they were little, and it’s something we do for our granddaughter. We started them off with picture books and Dr. Seuss. Our daughter went on to Junie B. Jones by the late, great Barbara Park, and then turned to the Harry Potter series. My son gravitated to Dav Pikley and Captain Underpants. Our daughter adores novels (and even liked mine), while our son enjoys graphic novels and decries how The Walking Dead television series deviates from the books.

Reading a vital skill. Children are enriched by learning how to convert…


Hank Aaron’s jersey
Hank Aaron’s jersey

I remember watching Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run. I was at plenty of Dodger games with Don Sutton on the mound and Tommy Lasorda in the dugout.

If you live long enough, you will watch your childhood heroes die. The stars of your youth will succumb to the inevitability of age and mortality. You may have forgotten about them for years, but when you learn about their demise, images of them in their youth and vitality will flood back to you.

What was it that made them special? Was it just their achievements? No, there was more to…

Matthew Arnold Stern

A novelist and award-winning public speaker and technical writer. My novel Amiga is available now. The Remainders is coming in September.

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