Below are some short writing samples – for larger readings, please click on the title of the sample. All the samples are in PDF format and require Adobe Acrobat Reader to open. If you need a free copy of Acrobat, click here.
“…Fear is a great accelerator of disease…Hope, faith, confidence and the will to live set an auspicious stage for…recovery.”
—Norman Cousins, Former Editor, Saturday Review of Literature
Of all the words that can strike fear in the heart, none come close to the impact of C A N C E R. You are gripped with fright. In one swift moment you are no longer who you were seconds ago; you have cancer. Your world has suddenly come to a standstill. Nothing will ever be the same again: not the way you see yourself, not the way others see you, not the risk for your children. It’s a staggering blow that takes your breath away and sets your mind awhirl with thoughts that race out of control.
You may try to put on a calm and composed exterior, if only for the sake of others around you. Yet, you pay dearly for the façade with inner rage and turmoil. You feel suddenly powerless, paralyzed with fear. You are angry. You feel hopeless, and your mind churns a torrent of questions that you are too scared to voice…
It’s only appropriate as we begin our discussion of self-employment and, given my rather notorious background, independent consultancy, that I share three definitions of a consultant that are far more accurate than I should be willing to admit. Nonetheless, here they are. A consultant is:
- Someone who knows a 1000 ways to have sex, but, alas, doesn’t have a partner.
- Anyone who is more than 50 miles from home and has a briefcase permanently attached to his or her hand.
- Anyone with an unsubstantiated opinion and a dire need for money.
Here’s how the story started:
It was a dark and dreary day in the early 70s in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio; or, in other words, a typical winter in the Midwest. I had just received…
Sara Alistair’s name was scrawled across the face of the courier-delivered envelope, the labored penmanship belonging to a noted oceanographer named Josh Hart. Next to her name, Hart had scribbled, ‘Break out the champagne. We found it!’
Inside the envelope was a half-century-old newspaper article clipped from the Santa Barbara Daily Mail. The newspaper had the jaundiced color of age and exposure and an eggshell brittleness; Alistair stared at the dateline: December 20, 1941. Two weeks after Pearl Harbor.
Eight words were stamped in red across the body of the article:
It was a Saturday morning when I first outran Pa. I was only 10 years old. Pa had sired 20 kids. Except for Mikey, I was the only one he couldn’t intimidate. In 10 years, he’d never caused me to shed a tear; it made him furious.
“It’s too hard! I’m not gonna! Bully!” I shouted over my shoulder. I crashed through the back screen door at a dead run and sent it flying against the clapboard house with a sharp crack.
“Come back here!” Pa yelled. I heard the rapid thudding of his shoes on the back steps. He was right behind me. I could count on a beating if he caught me, and I was still sore from the last one.
My bare, calloused feet pounded across bare earth and mowed weeds in the field behind the house. My yellow flowered dress, ingeniously sewn from a chicken feed sack, flew up to my hips as my browned knees pumped even more furiously. Pa was over 60 by this time and not quite the same man he was 20 years ago; if I could just outlast him.
Homicide Detective Michael Waites would picture the scene in his head a thousand times over the next two years. Details like the ones he was about encounter that day have a life of their own; they evolve from images as surrealistic as daydreams into line items of evidence in a criminal case bound for infamy. Waites didn’t know at the time, but he was moments away from finding the universe he’d been living in forever altered.
It was 6:25 a.m. on a Sunday morning, the 2nd of May, 1993; Waites would remember the date as long as he lived. He was stirring cream into his coffee when dispatch called. They requested that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s lead investigator respond at once to an apparent drowning. The dispatcher told Waites that the victim was a young boy, so he was already fighting to stay calm and objective. Waites was in his car and on the road within minutes. Forget the coffee. Forget the speed limit.
The tiny Shaman sat on the crest of the hill with his legs crossed and his fierce, oval eyes closed. His body hovered above the ground as he meditated. Secretly, the Touargang  villagers called him ‘Priest’ or ‘Wizard,’ but his name was Om. Om’s shaved head glistened in the morning sun. His thin moustache grew far below his chin, and the ends had been neatly braided. He wore a scarlet cape and baggy silk pants. An emerald pendent hung from a woven strand of leather around his neck.
Om felt a cool breeze caress his face. With the breeze came the unexpected scent of ginger, and he was shaken from his meditation. His eyes snapped open; he stared skyward. A chill ran along his spine, as in awe as anyone who had lived as many centuries as he had could be.