The best thing about advice is that it’s usually free. The second best thing is that you can either ignore it, or incorporate it. Much of the advice I’ve received as a writer has fit into the ignorable category, a lot of it coming from other aspiring writers who were no more steeped in expertise than I was, but sometimes even originating with the seasoned and the published. Two pieces of advice have been crucial for me in my pursuit of legitimacy as a writer, though: Write because you love writing, and find your own way.

That first nugget came from one of my writing instructors during my first few staggering attempts at being creative, author Peggy King Anderson. It was obvious by her persona that she not only loved to write, but loved to teach writing as well. Her enthusiasm for the craft was infectious. But she was quick to point out that the rewards for our work may not happen as quickly as some of us in her class apparently thought; visions of seeing our names at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list infected many of us. She well established that if success was to happen at all, its only chance was if the writer absolutely loved what he or she was doing–love it whether or not Viking signed us, love it whether or not our relatives thought we were nuts for wasting so much time, and constantly telling us so. The lack of that level of enthusiasm comes out in our writing, she pointed out, visible for all the world to see, including agents and publishers. Success is a shining thing polished by the love of what we do. As Peggy advised, let that shine begin its glow in the love you have for your work.

Finding my own way was a more difficult task. I, like many, at first tried to establish the correct formula for creativity by paying attention to what others did. Stephen King wrote in his book, On Writing, that since 1972 he’d religiously spent 4 hours of every day locked away in his office composing his stories. I believe him; the man writes faster than I can read. Erma Bombeck declared in Writer’s Digest that she couldn’t write a word unless the washer and drier were rumbling next to her writing desk. And I think it was John Grisham who wrote that he composed first drafts in a warm bath with a legal pad on a tub-edge-supported board with a glass of champagne at hand. I tried following King’s rule and writing four hours a day only to learn I was writing a whole lot of garbage. I skipped Grisham’s method–I don’t like champagne and I’m a splasher, not a good thing around paper and ink. It took a while, but I finally understood what these successful writers were telling me–Find Your Own Way. Think about what’s comfortable for you–endless hours at a computer? Sitting at the counter in Denny’s with a pad and pen while the noise of clanking dishes and conversations wraps around you? There is no right or wrong way, no sure-fire formula. Writing is just too personal of a thing for that to be true. There’s only what fits for you. Find it and you’re on your way.

Title: Russell’s Revenge
by Dennis Fishel

Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publication Date: November 13, 2015
Genre: YA Humor, Adventure


Fate has been messing up Dennis’s life for as long as he can remember. It was Fate that decided Russell Folmer—the biggest, ugliest, and meanest kid on earth—would live only two houses south of Dennis’s. Fate was also responsible for making Russell the same age and placing him in the same school. So who else but malicious Fate would arrange for Russell to be in the wrong place at exactly the wrong time when the bombs crafted from the only product a dog manufactures fell from Dennis’s experimental kite? Now, with dog dumplings decorating Russell’s extremely large and angry face, it looks as though Dennis’s days of successfully dodging the well-known bully are over. As the sound of Russell’s pounding feet gets ever closer, two questions flare up in Dennis’s panicked mind like neon in the blackness of a cave: What has he done to make Fate hate him so much, and how is he going to get out of this fix?

About the Author

Owned and managed by dogs for most of his life, Dennis shares a home on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with his four-legged boss, Sally. Together they pursue their interests in wooden boats, fly fishing, chasing down obscure historic sites, and hiking to remote places just for the fun of it.


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