Advice for the Beginning Writer

When asked by the New Yorker Magazine how she wrote so many books, Nora Roberts answered ‘Ass in chair.’ That’s the best advice for beginning writers.

  • Spend time each week and write. Not thinking about writing. WRITING.
  • Keep a journal to record thoughts and impressions. It’s amazing how those little notes can inspire you years later.
  • Edit, edit, edit. Don’t show anyone your work until you’ve gone over it carefully 5 times.
  • Before you publish your work, hire a professional editor and a proofreader. Having a clean and error-free manuscript is worth every penny. My editors can be found here, here, and here.
  • Develop a thick skin. Don’t argue when someone offers criticism. Some of ‘my’ best ideas have been suggested by other writers.
  • Take writing classes at adult education centers. Join a writer’s critique group. You’ll learn as much critiquing others’ work as you will from their reviews of your work.
  • Join Facebook and Facebook logoLinkedIn groups for writers.
  • Send out your work to websites that publish new authors — not to make money, but to get your work out there and gain self-confidence.
  • Never give up. Don’t panic if you think that you’ve got “writer’s block.” Sit down and write whatever comes into your head. You are a writer as long as you write. Publishing doesn’t make you a writer.
  • Take time to live your life. You don’t know everything when you’re 25 or even 40. I’m still learning at 68.
  • Read, read, read. Everything. Never be without a book. Take two with you in case you finish one while you’re away from home.
  • Observe, listen, and daydream.

Good luck.

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Writers Critique Group

Currently, I am ‘workshopping’ the last two chapters of my novel in the Merrimack Publishing Writers Critique Group. The suggestions and concerns voiced by other writers are invaluable, often pointing out connections and possibilities that I haven’t thought of. More importantly, they identify passages where the characters act unbelievably or where a section is too long.

Sometimes the criticism is hard to take, but every comment has at least a grain of truth which must be considered. When I first submitted the last two chapters in June, I faced a chorus of negative feedback; one reader said, “You must have the two main characters meet one last time.” I rewrote the two chapters and they are stronger and more satisfying. I will hear what they think on August 26.

Read the first 25 pages of Echo from Mount Royal here.

The title of the novel was recently changed. The former title Will I Ever Know? was a temporary working title. The new title refers to Rebecca’s three visits to the mountain in the center of Montreal. (Plus I can use the teaser “What does she see from Mount Royal?” in my marketing campaign.)

The novel is currently in the hands of the copyeditor; his suggestions will be ready by the end of August. I will spend September making the changes and undertaking a final read-through. The next step will be proofreading. In the meantime I am thinking about a book cover and the wording for the front and back covers.

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Dave Riese -smallerBorn in 1946, I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts. In 1958, I moved to Toronto, Canada for three years, when my father was relocated by his employer.

Attending school in Canada for three years provided two valuable lessons: I looked at the United States as an ‘outsider’ and I lost my Boston accent. My seventh-grade teacher gave me an impromptu pronunciation lesson when I told him, “My fatha had an idear.”


I attended Bates College in Maine, majoring in English literature. During my junior year, I studied at Oxford University and travelled to Russia, France, Italy and Greece during vacations. I graduated in 1968.

Military Service

I enlisted in the Air Force one step ahead of my draft board’s kind invitation to join the army in Vietnam. For no apparent reason, the AF assigned me to hospital administration. I married Susan, my high school girlfriend, during leave between tech school and my first posting to the Philippines at Clark Air Base. During my final two years in the military, my wife and I lived outside Washington D.C. near Andrews Air Force Base.

Graduate School and First Job

After my military discharge in 1972, I attended Boston University for a Master’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. The following summer, the University of New Hampshire hired me to script and film videotapes about government social programs for the elderly. In those days, a portable video camera was heavy and attached to a bulky machine which recorded images on reel-to-reel tape in black and white. During the recession of 1976, the grant was not renewed.

A Career in Information Technology

Luckily at that time, companies were eager to hire people for their data processing departments. Liberty Mutual Insurance hired me to attend their three-month training course in computer programming. I learned later that the major reason I was hired was my writing and communications background. I’ve often said, “This goes to show an English degree is a valuable asset!”

During my 35 years in information technology, the industry evolved from punch cards for mainframes to personal computers using the internet. I retired from Mass Financial Services in the spring of 2012.


Before retirement I told himself, “You call yourself a writer, but you’ve never made it a priority and done the hard, daily grind.” Since then I spend 3 – 4 hours, 5 days a week, writing, usually in a local coffee shop.

My wife and I moved north of Boston in 1974. We have two children: a daughter and a son. Jessica lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two daughters. Jeffrey and his wife are pediatricians practicing in Providence. They have a son and daughter.

To purchase the Kindle version on Amazon, click here
All ebook formats are available from Smashwords, click here

I am a member of:IBPA Logo

IBPA (Independent Book Publishers Association) is an organization that provides programs and support for independent publishers and self-published authors.

NWU LogoThe Boston Chapter of the NWU (National Writers Union) is the only labor union that represents freelance writers.

ALLi LogoThe Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is the professional association for authors who self-publish, offering contacts and campaigns, education and collaboration.



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