The Writer’s Life — Blog Tour

A gift from an old friend signifies so much.

A gift from an old friend signifies so much.

That photo at right is not a working typewriter. It’s still pretty neat, though, my little remembrance of how I used to take the words from my mind, send them through my fingers, onto paper and onward to the world of readers. First, teachers. Later, readers of newspapers. Later, keyboards linked to computer or laptop or iPad screens sent — and still send — my words to readers of web sites around the world.

Oh, how I appreciate all of those connections.

So when my friend Judy Berman, the mind behind the fine earthriderdotcom blog here on WordPress, tagged me for this Blog Tour, I quickly accepted my turn in the rotation.

I was honored because it is a treat when Judy’s work pops up on my radar (and Reader). She’s a former journalist who’s now a teacher, and she views her world through both of those prisms. It makes for an interesting viewpoint. For me, an added insider’s wink sometimes comes from the fact that years ago, Judy and her husband, David, lived in the Syracuse area, and he and I were longtime colleagues at the big daily. In short, we three were and are friends.

I’d admire her work regardless, and so will you, once you click that link above. They live in Florida. Her winter posts make me jealous.

In accepting Judy’s tag in the Blog Tour parade, my responsibilities include answering four questions that will shed light on the approach I take to my writing. Sure. I enjoy thinking about this craft.

I also agree to tag two more writers of note, with the hope that they, too, will participate in the Blog Tour, answer the questions, and ask two bloggers they read to take part.

Indeed, I admire the work of Aussa Lorens and Don of All Trades very, very much. I’ve been part of the comment section conversations on their blogs for some time now, and they’ve both graciously accepted my invitation to take their turn in The Blog Tour. Now that’s good news.

Aussa Lorens titles her blog “Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy,” with the subtitle, “some mistakes are too good not to share.” If you haven’t read her true stories of astonishing happenings, well, I am quite surprised. Click the link above and join the circus. Aussa works in a large psychiatric center, for example, and hesitates not a bit to talk about the odd things that happen there. With her co-workers. The patients, on the other hand, seem entirely normal. She also delves into her past, traveling the world or dealing with a psychotic ex, for serials of significant clout. Within moments of a post, it seems, a hundred comments appear. And they are entertaining to read, too. Now we are all glad that she’s “settled down” with The Boyfran.

Don of All Trades writes about his life in and around St. Louis. His subtitle kicker is “master of none.” Oh, how that is untrue. Don, you see, is a St. Louis policeman, and also a law school graduate. He’s walked the beat in the past, and has returned to do so again. In between, he worked for the police in a role that used his position as an attorney. Somehow he makes all of this either quite humorous or so deadly serious that your heart will beat out of your chest. In between, we get stories of his quite entertaining children and extremely beautiful and tolerant wife. I want to meet the kids, Ace and Cool and GMan, and drink a Bud Light Lime with Don. He calls his family The DOATS. Click the link above and be entertained, thoroughly.

Now, about me:

1. What am I working on now?

I always have many projects on deck. That’s how my writing life has evolved. Oh, the shuffling decks of the freelancer.

After I finish this post that you’re reading, at earliest Saturday morning — now it’s Friday, 11:23 a.m. — I’ll head to the movie theater to view a matinee of the new Transformer flick. I’ll write that this weekend, due to my Syracuse New Times editors for posting at at 9 a.m. Monday. Also today I hope to knock out Sunday’s post for this blog. I’m planning an update on the Beddian Birthday. For those of us born in 1957, this is the year we turn 57 years old. I’ve posted several stores about how that numerical symmetry enchants me. Many people agree. The posts get 50 to 100 views through search engines daily. I’m cooking up another angle for the halfway point of the year.

Tomorrow my dear wife Karen and I will attend the Syracuse Chiefs Triple-A baseball game with her co-workers from the Syracuse Media Group, with a big tailgate party attached. Work for me, too … I’ll be researching for my Wednesday weekly community blog for Syracuse Public Media site, about what it’s like to be at a game with the Chiefs in first place in the International League. It’s the first time that’s happened this late in the season in a quarter century.

Early next week, I’ll write my next glossy magazine feature, about the Enterprise America education project for middle schoolers, to be published in the September/October edition of Central New York The Good Life, published by Syracuse Media Group. I also will research and write my column for that edition of the magazine. My plan is to have somebody in the know at a half-dozen regional colleges suggest one don’t-miss fall season sport game to attend for a non-alum to get the best taste of the campus flavor.

Also: Other daily posts are darting around somewhere. The Thursday Movie News edition of my New Times film blog will be discovered come Tuesday and Wednesday …

Wow. I’m kind of fatigued just typing that outline.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I am a generalist of the most general sort, so to speak. In my three decades employed by the big daily, I worked in both the sports and entertainment sections, so my knowledge in those areas carried over pretty well, I think and hope. My personal communication skills sharpened in these almost 57 years helps me focus to write about many other things quickly. When the glossy magazine editor suggests an unfamiliar assignment, like middle school education and Enterprise America, I do my research and dive right in.

3. Why do I write what I do?

See above about my love for writing about sports, music and movies. I’ve had my eye on all of the above my whole life. My father got me into them all when I was a kid, and the passion never wavered.

With, I enjoy writing about unique aspects of life that strike a universal chord.

In my mind’s eye, as the ideas and words are flying out of my fingers and onto the iPad screen, the stories may center around the travels and antics of myself and my dear wife Karen and my wonderful daughter Elisabeth and her terrific boyfriend George and, of course, our beloved rescue mutt Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle, but they also are about events, large or small, that have or will happen to you. We’re all in this life together, I figure. Let’s appreciate it that way.

4. How does my writing process work?

For the magazine stories, movie reviews and community blogs about specific events or people, I familiarize myself with details and history as much as possible before interviewing principal participants or attending integral components. Research, research, and research some more has always been important to my journalistic approach to news stories, personality profiles and reviews.

For my columns, though, it’s more of a freestyle writing world. Something can just hit me upside my brain anywhere and at any time. So the first chance I can, I grab my iPad, let my thoughts loose, and off I go typing, fast as my stubby little fingers can go. Somehow it comes together.

I like writing about life. My life. Our life.

OK, Aussa and Don. Tag, you’re it. Have fun.

(For those of you who missed out on the early days around here, here’s the link to my first post ever, from February, 2013. Notice how I’d yet to entertain the notion of pictures on my own blog.)

46 thoughts on “The Writer’s Life — Blog Tour

  1. Wonderful answers, Blogamous. πŸ˜‰ No, seriously, great answers, Mark! I bet a lot of your friends envy that you get to review movies, but I think it must seem like hard work at times when you have to sit through something you might not necessarily otherwise was to see. Thanks for the referral to the other blogs as well. I’m off to check ’em out. πŸ™‚ Awesome post! πŸ˜€


  2. I am so happy to learn more about you Mr. B!!! Such a talented and versatile writer. And a very kind gentleman, if I may add. πŸ™‚ I am looking forward to reading your first post. πŸ™‚ Now go rest after writing all of this.


  3. Writing seems to come so naturally to you; when I read your posts, it feels just like somebody I know having a familiar, easy conversation with me. I felt this the very first time I read something of yours. That’s something to strive for as a writer. I’m so pleased I found you and your posts always brighten my day.


    • Thank you, Barbara. I so much appreciate your kind words. This sounds odd, I know, but, it took a lot of hard work over 35 years as a professional writer to get to the point where my style sounds so easy and natural. It took getting laid off from my daily newspaper job and the transition to blogging for that to truly happen. I am glad to have made the connection to your work from Virginia, too. It makes me feel like I am back in the days from 1977 to 1983, when I lived in Maryland. Very pleasant vibe you have, my friend.


  4. Neat post Mark. Wow, you are a busy man – many writing responsibilities. That’s a pretty hectic schedule – and constantly working ahead and on a deadline. Whew. It must be hard for you too get a vacation, you’d have to have a whack of articles produce ahead of time.


  5. I enjoyed your leg on the writer’s rotation! I had to laugh, this early Saturday morn, since an elderly gentleman was peering over my shoulder! He exclaimed, “Why I had one of those!” So, not only did you give us all a good story, great answers to tough questions, but… You Made this Man’s Day, Mark!! Hurray for you!


    • That is a great story, Robin. I had similar manuals, but not that classic. The picture is of a six-inch tshoscki (sp?) that sits on my bookshelf. Thanks for your kind words on this early Saturday morning!


      • Hoping that you have a great week, Mark! Take it easy! I wrote a rather long essay on the movie, “Miss Potter” on one of your Ellie B. posts.(It kind of ties in, since she loved to draw animals in the garden!) I worry about your sweet dog, wondering where the gopher went! Smiles, Robin


    • Aussa’s follow connects are at the bottom of her page, Martha. She is a self-hosted site. The best method is to click for an email message when she posts. Thanks for the kinds words about today’s bio.


  6. Wow! After reading about your writing life, I had to rest for a while. Dave and I are both impressed (he said to say “hi”). I do enjoy the variety of stories that you write about. As a journalist and friend, you know the back story of many of the events and people that I’ve written about. Your stories give me a huge smile for the same reasons.

    I do enjoy both of the blogs that you mentioned and will pop over and give them a visit. They are truly entertaining.

    Thanks for the shout out, Mark. YOU are the best. πŸ˜‰


  7. wow, mark. when i see it all in print, it seems like you juggle a heck of a lot of hats. good thing you like hats, and are organized. i love both of those other blogs, totally different from each other and each great in their own way. while it’s clear that you have a background/love for sports and entertainment, you are a real example of a writer who covers many things, and does not limit himself. that’s what keeps it interesting, your heartfelt and honest approach to the world. you talk directly to your readers, as if in a conversation. you have come a long way since your first blog post, and i look forward to seeing where you will go )


    • Thank you so much for this review, Beth. It is a good thing I enjoy wearing hats! You said that perfectly. Best of all, you captured my desire to write as if I’m having a conversation with the reader. Bingo.

      (And through the comment sections on both our blogs and our email plans for the baseball blog wager and continued friendship, this WP world allows me to talk with you every day. How great is that?! OK, I’m getting sentimental now. Breathe. One day until your Aussies arrive!)


      • thank you, mark. one of the things that is very different from writing for a publication, is the give and take between the writer and the reader. and the chance to form actual friendships. )a good thing in my book.

        and yes, one more day, talked to them yesterday and they’ll be leaving wash d.c. tomorrow morning. the sisters and babies on standby to rush over to the cottage as soon as we have an eta.


      • thanks karen and mark for the awwwws and they just texted me that they all woke up with really bad colds. welcome to the northern hemisphere!


      • D.C., hot and humid, breeding ground for the summer cold. Had them often the six years I lived down there, Beth. The cooler Michigan air will knock it out of ’em! πŸ™‚


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