Perfection of Moment - 10 Experiences to Experience That Will Make You a Better Writer

August 22, 2011

Some people only experience it a few times in life: those times when everything is going your way. But, in point of fact, the experience occurs much more often than we realize, we are just too distracted by e-mail, blackberries, cell phones, thinking of tomorrow, next week, next year to realize it.

What I call Perfection of Moment is when all of your senses are firing with pleasure—Sight, Sound, Touch, Smell—and being fully aware in that moment, allowing the experience to wash over you, to fill your mind, to populate your memory.

It could be riding your bike at high speed down a hill with your favorite song on your iPod, feeling the wind, seeing the world whipping by, smelling the air, letting your heart pump to the beat of the song.

It could be watching your children do their favorite thing. Don’t’ think of work, or what you are going to do tomorrow, watch them, hear them, feel your elation or sorrow as they succeed or fail.

And of course, making love is the most obvious perfection of moment.

The point is, it is the experiences that we live that help us to fill the pages when we write. They say write what you know and what we know can be exhausted by our second book. But we can write about fear, we can write about adrenaline and triumph, we can write by putting ourselves in others shoes with some amazing fun experience that will make our writing stronger, more real, more visceral.

And so on the next page you will find ten experiences that can enrich your writing, allow you to have a well spring of thought, emotions, and feelings to draw upon and have some fun at the same time. I know, because I have done them all plus too many other things to mention.

So remember to stay in the moment. Allow those senses to sense it all without distraction. And remember to remember.

PLEASE NOTE: I do not promote, condone, or encourage any of these actions. You are assuming the full risk when engaging in any of these ten items and I cannot be held responsible for any and all outcomes.

1. Jump out of a plane (with a parachute). Either tandem or solo. Feel the emotion as you stand in the open door for the first time, looking 13,000 feet down. Feel the wind in your face as you fall for close to a minute. Think about flying, think about what if…

2. Shoot a gun. Go to a range. Shoot a variety of pistols: 45’s, 38’s. Then shoot a shotgun and a rifle. Feel the power of the gun in your hand; understand that you hold life and death between your fingers. Look at the bullet, realize how small it is, how deadly its potential.

3. Run for your life. Get chased. Chase someone. Feel the adrenaline course through you, feel how it quickens your heart, gives you speed and strength. Feel the residual, uncontrollable shakes when you are done.

4. Stay on the bottom of a pool for as long as you can. Wear goggles. Look around, feel your lungs burn, feel the throbbing of your pulse, hear the silence around you, know what it is like to be minutes from death.

5. Stand in the middle of a rain storm. Allow yourself to be soaked, feel your clothes as they gradually get wet until you are drenched, smell the air. Feel the water cascade down your face. Hear it pounding the ground around you.

6. Kiss your significant other with your eyes open, make love to them with the lights on staring into each other’s eyes in the throes of passion. Be aware of their touch, of the look in their eyes, of the wetness of their kiss, the rhythm of their breathing.

7. Do something completely out of your comfort zone, something embarrassing. Sing in front of a crowd, dance in the middle of a bar, tell an audience your most embarrassing moment. Take a chance, if you succeed, great, if you fail … even better. Remember that feeling.

8. Stand on the platform of the train station for 60 minutes at rush hour. Watch the crowd, the clothes, the attitudes. Watch the kindness and rudeness, the interaction of both strangers and friends.

9. Go to a restaurant. Eat alone and watch the reaction of the people; feel their stares as they assume your state of life. Notice how some will avoid making eye contact; others will be overly kind out of pity.

10. Go to a different house of worship. Sit through their prayers, sermons, and rituals. See how similar it is to your own religion, see how different. Watch the people, the individual leading the service. Watch how different people are once they exit the church, temple, synagogue, or mosque.

Then go home and write, pour these experiences into your characters, paint their emotions with your own. And remember to pay attention when all of sudden you have written something you’re proud of, remember that feeling, embrace it, enjoy that triumph and use it in your next story.

Reunions, Time Travel, and Winston Churchill -

March 19, 2010
"If you're going through hell, keep going." I always loved that quote from Winston Churchill, it's so applicable to life no matter how old we are. As you may or may not know, The 13th Hour is about a man stepping back in time in one hour increments to find the single moment that will save his wife from death. So, ironically, last month, I stepped back in time not in one hour increments but by decades. I had my high school reunion (not saying which year but be it suffice to say it was more than 20). I walked in without expectation and walked out four hours later with one of the life's greatest experiences. Passing through the doorway into the reunion was like falling through a time machine, years washed away. No matter how much we had changed, all were recognizable. While hairstyles were different, not only in color but in volume, and gravity had tugged on the body and heart, it was the eyes that gave immediate recognition, that pulled back the curtain to reveal the friend we hadn't seen in ages. While most would assume the reunion was the recapturing of youth, reliving those moments of teen success and conquests, it was something far more. I realized what an amazing town I grew up in, what an amazing school and time, and what amazing people I shared part of my life with. In our youth, in what was a different era, we didn't' t know what someone else's father did for a living, could care less who had a car and who took the bus. We weren't cognizant of each other's religious or political beliefs. We judged each other by the simple barometer of either like or dislike. Of course there were cliques at Byram Hills as there are in all schools then and now, but those, along with the years, seemed to wash away with the passage of time. We tend to romanticize the past particularly our teens, often forgetting the youthful pressures of fitting in, of tests, of making the team, or the heart break of first love. But it's the people who surrounded us at the time of growing up, our friends who helped us endure those obstacles that made us survive the passage into adulthood. These were the people we walked through hell with. These were the people that saw us in our most vulnerable moments. As such, bonds were made over those shared experiences that connect to this day and tie us back to that special time where hope abounded, where we thought ourselves invincible, immortal, where the future was always bright no matter how dark the day, no matter how painful the problem. And while I wished our get together would have lasted a few more days, and we all made promises to stay in touch, we all walked away knowing we would be pulled back to the future, back to our current lives where we would disappear for another five years. But I think we all left that reunion with a new sense of appreciation, a new bond over a new shared experience. I think we all walked out of there with a bit of recaptured youth and hope and love. Not to mention, for me at least, the incredible characters and story arcs to draw from for a future story or two.

Random Things

March 19, 2010
1. I have a huge vocabulary but can't spell, my grammar is weak, and English was my
weakest subject in school. So, for such obvious reasons, I sold my company and became
an author.

2. I have been passionately in love with the same woman for over 30 years.

3. I'm amazed that my 21 year old son and I go to concerts such as Velvet Revolver, AC/DC, Breaking Benjamin, Fuel, Theory of a Deadman, Chicken Foot, Journey, Def Leppard, Aerosmith et al... and he is not embarrassed by my presence.

4. I'm a republican but have made far more political donations to democrats.

5. My family is extremely close

6. My wife, son and both daughters each have an amazing sense of humor.

7. I have an almost perfect memory back to the womb for everything except numbers and 
names. And that is why I went into the number intensive world of real estate

8. I never wrote anything longer than five pages in high school and the first thing I wrote
since--25 years later--was my novel, The Thieves of Heaven.


9. There is nothing greater than riding a horse in the mountains of Wyoming or skiing the
peaks of Utah and looking out at the amazing country we live in.


10. Seeing the aged faces of the musicians and actors from my youth is a sad reminder that
the clock is ticking for us all.

11. I hate flying yet I have flown over 400,000 miles.


12. I love music as much as life, all types from Zeppelin to Brad Paisley, Metallica to Leonard
Bernstein, Clapton to Gustov Holst. My IPod is a 9000 strong, schizophrenic amalgam of


12A.   I write and play all of the instruments in the trailer music for all of my book trailers.  


13. I believe in living and staying focused in the moment; life is great but our preoccupations
with the mundane makes us miss it.


14. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs, never have, never will but I'll never preach about it nor judge people over it. Of course, my abstinence worked out well for all my friends who partook of my share. ( I did
drink champagne at my wedding and out of the Stanley Cup?who wouldn't?)


15. Am I the only one who finds American Idol a sad commentary on life and how cruel people
can be? Not to mention the heartrending, distorted, self image of those seeking celebrity as
a mark of success.

16. I wish people would educate themselves beyond a newspaper headlines before talking like
an expert.

17. I go to sleep at 3:00 AM and get up at 7:30

18. The best part of a triathlon is the unlimited bagels and bananas at the finish line.

19. My wife competes and wins on a national basis in Ballroom and Latin dance and has
appeared in the Dancing with Stars Tour. And, of course, I can't dance to save my life.


20. My closest friend, Tony Bellantoni, and I married sisters which makes the holidays amazing
and our kids cousins.


21. I am eternally filled with hope and I've always endeavored to spread it.


22. I've always been a listener.


23. Wouldn't it be great if we spoke of people with the same reverence, incite, and passion
before they died, before they were eulogized?


24. Our friends come from all walks of life and couldn't be more different (artists, lawyers, actors, newscasters, landscapers, professional athletes, Wall Streeters, mechanics, musicians, politicians). There is nothing better than our dinner parties where we sit those with divergent opinions next to each
other at the table, sit back, and watch the conversations fly.

25. I consider myself beyond lucky and privileged to have the amazing life I have led.

Embassy and What is a Vook?

September 03, 2009
While the excitement has been building for the December 29 release of my new novel, The 13th Hour, and with the screenplay done and a movie version getting closer to reality, people have asked me what I’ve been doing in the meantime to keep busy.  Well, I give them a one word answer:  Vook.

Vook? They think they misheard me. I tell them again, Vook.

So what is a Vook?  Actually it's a whole new concept of combining the intimate experience of reading with the visual sensation of sight and sound. A Vook combines the best parts of a book with video vignettes that illustrate the story in visceral, exciting clips that take reading to a whole new level.

I wrote a novella called Embassy and in a partnership between my publisher Atria Books and Vook they created an amazing product which you can download on your iPod, your computer, your smart phone, etc...that allows you to experience reading in a whole new way.

What TV was to radio, the Vook is to a book. It is the next step in storytelling. You get to read an exciting new story but on top of the reading you get these little scenes, these small montages that help to illustrate the story, help to bring it to life, all the while adding to the overall thrill of the tale.

Embassy is fast paced thriller that kicks off with a woman being taken hostage in the Greek Embassy but, as with all of my stories, a lot more is going on than first meets the eye. From high stakes stand-offs to hidden agendas, from magic and mystery to a woman and her children sailing into a disaster, from hidden mysteries beneath the embassy to an ancient artifact shrouded in myth. 

So while you're waiting for The 13th Hour to arrive, I hope you get a chance to check out Embassy in this new format which is arriving on September 22.