Author Blurb Podcast



I can tell you where I got the idea for every short story in my collection Muscle Cars. I can also tell you where I was standing and what I was reading when I got the idea for my first novel Rook. I have no idea where I first heard about Fran Striker. I think I was at a bar or a party and somebody mentioned that the man who created The Lone Ranger was from Buffalo, New York, my hometown.

I didn’t believe them.

I’m a Buffalo-based writer. If the man who wrote The Lone Ranger was from Buffalo, I’d know about it. This city’s very good about supporting and promoting creative artists from or connected to Western New York—Mark Twain, Joyce Carol Oates, the Goo Goo Dolls. So, I called the guy’s bluff and Googled.

He was right.

Francis Hamilton Striker was born in Buffalo, New York in 1903 and not only created The Lone Ranger, but he also created The Green Hornet, Sergeant Preston of The Yukon, and the Tom Quest adventure series. To make matters worse, he was not only a Buffalo guy, but he was a neighborhood guy. He went to Lafayette High School a couple blocks from my house and actually wrote the original Lone Ranger script at his home on Granger Place just north of me.

And I hadn’t heard of him.

How could this be? How could I’ve never have heard of this man who had such an impact on Twentieth Century pop culture? How could I not know that The Lone Ranger actually made its radio debut on Buffalo’s WEBR in 1933? I was mad at myself but, more importantly, I was curious about Fran Striker. I did some more digging and learned that Striker was a prolific radio playwright and had worked at WEBR. Like everyone, the Striker family was struggling through The Great Depression. In addition to his wife and two small children, Striker was financially supporting about a dozen extended family members who’d lost everything during the stock market crash. To generate additional income, Striker took older scripts that he’d written and offered them to radio stations across the country for between two and six dollars an episode.

One of the stations that purchased Striker’s scripts was Detroit’s WXYZ, owned by George W. Trendle. Trendle, ‘The Miser of Motown’, had made his fortune in movie theaters. He was known to keep two sets of books and would show the doctored financial records to employees to justify pay cuts or to new hires as the reason for low wages. By 1929, Trendle owned twenty theaters in the Detroit area. He sold them all for cash just before Black Monday and purchased WXYZ. By December 1932, Trendle was buying four episodes a week from Striker. At about this time, he asked Striker if he could write a western series with the usual “hokum”—masked riders, girl tied to railroad tracks, two-gun bank robbers, etc. Striker dug out Covered Wagon Days, Episode 10, “Danger at The Gold Mine”, an episode that WEBR had broadcasted a few years earlier. He rewrote the script and after some revisions based on Trendle’s feedback, introduced a new hero to the world—The Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger premiered in Buffalo on WEBR in January of 1933 as a test run before debuting on WXYZ a few days later. The series held promise but didn’t attract a sponsor until later in the year. With financial backing and promotion, more and more radio stations tied into WXYZ’ Lone Ranger broadcast. The show became a hit. Trendle, an astute businessman, sensed that bigger things were in store for The Ranger. He knew of the financial burden Striker was under supporting his extended family and in the spring of 1934 offered him an exclusive writing contract and job security through the Depression. It was an answer to a prayer for the struggling Striker family. But, like all things that seem too good to be true, there was a catch: Striker had to sell the rights to The Lone Ranger to Trendle.

For ten dollars.

Remember, Trendle was paying Striker about four dollars for each Lone Ranger episode up to this point and now he wanted all the rights for ten bucks. Think of the revenue from The Lone Ranger books, movies, toys, comic books, television—Trendle wanted it all. Striker was no fool. He knew the offer was insulting. He knew The Ranger was worth much more. But he also knew that he had written dozens of radio series that had come and gone without much fame or financial gain. There was no guarantee The Lone Ranger would turn into anything no less a cultural phenomenon that would last and flourish for ninety years. And there were all those family members he had to feed.

Striker took the deal.

Depending on your perspective, Striker selling the rights to The Lone Ranger was either the best deal in entertainment history or the worst. How good was the deal for Trendle? In 1954 he sold his ten-dollar investment for three million dollars, a record sale at that time. In 2016, NBC Universal purchased The Lone Ranger rights for three billion dollars. Striker and his heirs received none of it.

But it gets worse.

Sometime during the 1940’s, Trendle began to claim in articles and interviews that it was he, not Fran Striker, who came up with the idea and created The Lone Ranger. As we all know, if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it’s true. Trendle repeated this lie until his death in 1972. Striker, a humble man who always said that their contract was legal and binding and signed without coercion, never challenged Trendle’s claim. Sadly, Striker was killed in an automobile accident in 1962 and never had a chance to write his memoir and tell his side of the story.

I think this is why I’d never heard of Fran Striker until that night at the bar or at that party. I know this is why I had to write Yesteryear. It was a fun book to research and a fun book to write. I hope people think it’s a fun book to read, as well.

I especially hope that Fran approves of me trying to set the record straight.


By Mike and Ayan Rubin

Authors of

A White Hot Plan,”

Recently released by the University of Lafayette Press

As a husband-and-wife writing team who have authored award winning thrillers, the first question we often get asked is how we are able to have a single “voice” in our novels. The second is how carefully do we plot our books before sitting down to write.

The answers to both of these questions are interrelated. Before we start writing, we’ve talked through the key characters and their motivations, and we know the beginning, middle, and end of the story, although we don’t yet know all the subplots or minor characters. Part of the fun in writing is to see how these develop during the writing process. Mike does the first draft and has a great ear for dialogue. Ayan does the second draft and, with her experience in television production and as a script writer, concentrates on the visuals and pacing. For the third draft, we sit down together and work through the book, each defending things we have altered in the other’s draft. Our goal is always to eliminate anything that slows down the reader. We want readers to say to themselves, at the end of a chapter, “Okay, I’ll just read a few more pages to find out what happens next.”

Although we never begin with a written outline, we “outline in reverse.” In other words, once we write a chapter, we jot down general information concerning that chapter on a spreadsheet. As each new chapter is drafted, the essence of its contents gets added to the spreadsheet. This helps us in several ways.

First, it aids us in keeping continuity straight. For example, did characters do or say something in chapter 14 that is unintentionally at odds with what they did or said in chapter 3? Keeping an outline in reverse helps us avoid inadvertent continuity errors that can creep into a manuscript.

Second, a reverse outline is extremely useful in keeping time frames aligned, especially in a novel like A WHITE HOT PLAN, in which three story lines intersect. First, there’s Starner Gautreaux, a disgraced former New Orleans detective relegated to being a deputy in a rural Louisiana parish and reduced to writing his quota of speeding tickets. Second, there’s Kenny Arvenal, who’s being groomed by a secretive group to be a suicide bomber who will bring destruction to the New Orleans French Quarter. And then there’s Truvi Brady and her eight-year-old daughter who are headed on a school bus to the French Quarter where her class is to perform at the festival where Kenny plans to detonate a huge explosive charge intended to level blocks and blocks and kill thousands.

Third, a reverse outline is invaluable when we’re trying to locate something we wrote in a prior chapter so that we can check, expand, or correct the foreshadowing we built in while composing earlier portions of the manuscript. Although a computer can electronically search for words, it won’t help us find concepts we had introduced, plot points we had staked out, or twists and clues we had added. That’s where a reverse outline comes in handy.

Fourth, once a manuscript is finally completed and it’s time to write a synopsis, a reverse outline provides a quick way to review the entire story line in detail.

We’ve found that the reverse outline method saves us from being straight-jacketed into a pre-ordained plot. We prefer not to spend time creating a detailed outline in advance because we do not want to tire of the story before we even start writing it. Likewise, employing the reverse outline method in conjunction with our intimate knowledge of the main characters and the primary arc of the novel before committing anything to the page lets the story and characters evolve as we write while simultaneously enabling us to see where we’ve been. It’s like having a back-up camera in a car. You need to pay attention to what’s in front of you as well as what’s behind you to assure getting the clearest and broadest view possible while avoiding problems along the way.

Strangeness in Fiction

Author Blurb Blog Post for Hope for the Worst by Kate Brandt

This book started from a single memory: looking into the window of a bookstore on Spring Street in New York City, seeing the covers of books that were displayed there, but also my own reflected face.  I was in my twenties, in love with a much older man who did not love me back.  We were looking into that window together, but we were in entirely different worlds. 

I had kept this part of my life secret for a very long time.  It had been both painful and transformative, and it still haunted me.  When the memory surfaced during one of the free-write sessions I participated in with the other women in my writers’ group, the response from my friends was immediate: you have to write about this. 

I’m glad I followed their advice.  It was a long, hard process.  I wrote many, many, many, many drafts.  Hope for the Worst is autobiographical, but it is still a novel.  Real life never has the internal logic that a story must, and so my job as a writer was to find a way to convey my experience—what it was like—but also meet the demands of story. 

It took a long time.  I would never have been able to do it without my writer friends.  They encouraged me, supported me, read my many drafts, and told me what worked and what didn’t.

I have some advice for someone who is going to write a book.  Write about something that fascinates you.  Choose a story or an experience you’ve had that you can’t even explain to yourself.  I made endless revisions of Hope for the Worst.  As long as it took me, I never got sick of it. 

My father is also a writer.  I remember him once saying to me: “art has to have strangeness.”  The story I tell in Hope for the Worst is based on one of the strangest experiences of my life.  I was deeply in love with someone who was treating me with great carelessness, but I could not stop myself from coming back to him again and again.

My first writing teacher, Tom Spanbauer, used to tell his students “people write because they weren’t invited to the party.”  This is true for me–I write out of a great loneliness.  I want to tell readers: this is what it was like.   

Buddhism, which I’ve studied for many years, plays an important role in the story.  Central to Buddhism is an emphasis on the truth that nothing is permanent.  In Japanese Buddhism in particular, there is a term, ukiyo-e—the floating world.  Thought the novel, Ellie, the narrator, walks the streets of New York City in an ongoing fog of desperation and shock.  To try to pull herself out of the endless monologue in her head, she names things that she passes: a guy with a Mohawk in a tee shirt with cutoff sleeves; a girl in clogs; a red-faced jogger in track shorts.  In this way, the novel becomes a portrait of the floating world of New York City; a series of moments that pass and swirl away. 

The novel is also a love story, a fairytale gone wrong, and a redemptive story of female friendship.  If you are interested in the big questions—why are we here?  Why do we suffer, and what can we do about it?—you will find this book a good companion. 

Why I Write

It is an honor to be here today addressing you as distinguished NIABA Board members, members of the Columbus Law School community and fellow honored guests all gathered here to celebrate our Italian-American heritage and historic bar association on this fine autumn morning. 

As a writer blessed to have my debut coming of age novel nominated for the John Newbery Medal and to have published hundreds of inspirational and evocative poems in literary journals and anthologies around the globe, I’d like to share some thoughts on this remarkable journey and my mindset and inspiration along the way. 

At the outset of the Pandemic, I prayed that I would publish poems in journals that would glorify God with poems that would uplift and inspire people in our nation and around the world.  Literally with a matter of weeks, my poetry exploded.  Prior to the Pandemic, I had published very modestly perhaps a dozen at most poems in various Church publications and 1 poem in a truly professional literary journal.  Standing before you today, I have published 271 poems in 47 literary journals, including the Asahi Shimbun, among the largest and oldest print newspapers in the world, and 6 poetry anthologies, including many that were bestsellers, on 5 continents.  I found a voice, a gracious and undeserved gift, and simply trusted God to help me find the literary vessels to carry them to readers globally.   

As an author, poet, high school and collegiate runner and person of strong faith, since my childhood I have been inspired by Eric Liddell, the great Scottish missionary and runner whose principled refusal to run an Olympic 100-meter race on a Sunday was chronicled in Chariots of Fire.  As a boy, I recall playing Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire music many times over on a grand piano in our Church’s music room, inspired by the larger-than-life story behind it.  And as a high school and college Division 1 runner, I recall the music of Chariots of Fire played on our SONY walkmen pumping up my Harvard teammates and me for big races.

The Chariots of Fire soundtrack is a tribute to the extraordinary feat that Liddell accomplished and how he accomplished it.  Surpassed in pure 400 meter running talent by a number of his 1924 Olympic competitors, Liddell simply honored God and God honored him back.  And this is exactly what a masseur wrote and presented in a message to Liddell the morning of his historic 400 meter final in Paris, writing: “In the old book it says: ‘He that honors me I will honor.’”

Days after pulling out of the 100-meter heats because they were held on a Sunday, Liddell found himself lining up in the least coveted, outside lane against heavily favored American champion, Horatio Fitch, in the 400-meter final, a much longer than optimal distance for him.  Astonishing the audibly gasping crowd, Liddell took over a 3 second lead within the first 200 meters and then sprinted the remaining 200 meters in spirited, ungainly form to set a world record and shatter his personal best by an astounding 2 seconds. 

Describing his race tactics to Great Britain’s Guardian, Liddell explained: “I ran the first 200 meters as quickly as I could and, with the help of God, I ran the next 200 meters even more strongly.”  And when asked why he ran, Liddell stated: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

And yet, this world-record setting Olympic gold medalist, despite the fame, remained grounded until the day he died as a missionary in a World War II Japanese prisoner of war camp in China.  Selected to be exchanged in a prisoner swap arranged by Winston Churchill, Liddell gave his place to a pregnant woman, perishing in the camp just 6 months from its liberation.  In the words of Langdon Gilkey, who survived the camp to become a prominent American theologian, Liddell “was overflowing with good humor and love for life, and with enthusiasm and charm. It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known.”

Why am I sharing these remarkable stories of Eric Liddell, a towering, almost legendary figure who makes me, and perhaps most of us, feel unworthy of mention.  Besides the compelling nature of his story and fond memories of my days of cross-country and long-distance track running, I mention Liddell because he ran for exactly the same reason why I write and love to do so.   The joy that he described in his running resonates with me.  I feel a joy and feeling that I am doing what is pleasing to God when I use my author’s voice to heal, uplift, comfort and inspire readers.  I feel that it is a noble pursuit to share poetic tributes of giants who came before us, great men and women like Eric Liddell, Ronald Reagan, Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II, each of whom blazed a glorious path for us to tread. 

I also feel part of my purpose as a writer is to use my poet’s voice is to highlight cases of injustice and to espouse righteous causes.  Some recent examples of this are my poems extolling the virtues of the Ukrainian people in bravely fighting to preserve their sovereignty, freedom and very existence, poems supporting those struggling for freedom in Hong Kong, poems, including my “We Are Mahsa” poem, decrying injustices to women and repression in Iran and Afghanistan, and poems paying tribute to civil rights pioneers.  I feel that freedom of speech is paramount and that writers should have the courage to make their voices heard even where rogue states and actors may potentially exact a high price paid for it, as recently witnessed in the cowardly, on-stage attack against Salman Rushdie.

Recently, I found out to my horror that a beloved relative was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.  At a loss for words, and grieving inwardly, I wrote a poem that I thought I would share with you today.  It is entitled “Perhaps..”[Please note: My poem “Perhaps” is intentionally omitted as it is pending publication]

In writing this poem, and in particular its ending, it powerfully impacted me.  Despite its private nature, I decided to share it in the hopes of comforting others suffering themselves, or with loved ones, from similar afflictions.  Minutes and hours after doing so, I was astounded to receive an outpouring from friends, family and even strangers telling me of the comfort it had brought them in helping to process their grief from the passing of fathers, wives and other close loved ones. 

One person unknown to me, a patient of my sister at an assisted living facility who last year lost his beloved wife of 60 years, wrote to my sister in an email that she passed on: “Of all the precious display of sincere sentiments I’ve received this is the most touching, intimate, impactful, empowering, hopeful and spiritual tribute thing I’ve received. I’m so grateful and honored that you would share this with me.”

Yes, poetry can heal, uplift our spirits and elevate our souls, and I view that as its most laudable mission.  I will never forget the words of President Ronald Reagan as he spoke to me and the rest of the nation the evening of January 28, 1986 after the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion just 73 seconds after liftoff.  President Reagan ended his speech with the words: “We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'” The powerful concluding phrases were taken from “High Flight,” a poem authored by John Gillespie Magee Jr., a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot who foreshadowed his own tragic death in a mid-air collision over England during World War II.

That brings us to my debut novel, The Year of the Bear a novel that I published at the urging of my twin sons, one of whom even openly cried during its most touching scene.  I have been incredibly humbled to have received endorsements that have been so meaningful, reinforcing that I stayed true to my mission in writing it.  In the words of acclaimed author and world-renowned poet, Scott Mason: “The Year of the Bear tells a coming-of-age story, its action seamlessly interwoven with moments of indigenous wisdom, personal discovery, and universal truth. If the immediate experience is cinematic, its aftereffect is inspirational. A compelling and uplifting work.”

When I received this endorsement, it affirmed everything I was trying to accomplish.  It seeks for the reader to experience the majesty of Mount Katahdin, the northernmost terminus of the Appalachian trails and the first mountain peak on which the sun shines each day.  In the engraved words of former Governor and philanthropist Percival Baxter, who purchased and then generously donated Katahdin’s environs as Baxter State Park to the people of Maine:

“Man is born to die. His works are short-lived. Buildings crumble, monuments decay, and wealth vanishes, but Katahdin in all its glory forever shall remain the mountain of the people of Maine.”

In a divided society where a return to rational discourse sometimes feels like waiting for Godot, my novel seeks to appeal to the nobler side of human nature.  It seeks to immerse you, the reader, not as a passive bystander but rather as an active participant, in a universal story, as you meld with its characters, experiencing their triumphs and tragedies as if they were your very own. 

To achieve this effect requires an authenticity that resonates with the hearts, minds and souls of readers, resonating with the core of who and what they are.  For me as an author, it is at once an incredibly rewarding and exhilarating yet responsible mission – one that requires sincerity, transparency and vulnerability, openly sharing convictions, emotions and aspirations of the characters in order to recognize universal truths that brighten the lives of readers and their loved ones around the world.  As Reverend Doctor Cheryl Tatham of North Chevy Chase Church describes, The Year of the Bear “connects the expanse of nature and human emotion at a level of intensity that carries the reader deep into the lives of its characters.” 

And so, what is a pulse read on whether or not The Year of the Bear actually has worked its magic?

As I have lightheartedly told prospective readers, The Year of the Bear comes with a 3 emotion guarantee – namely, that it will make you smile, laugh or cry, and hopefully all 3, before its dramatic ending, leaving you exhilarated, spellbound and caught up in a world of adventure…

Well, enough of my novel; my concluding poems are getting restless…

To lighten things up, here are few senryu I published during the Pandemic.

Senryu are a Japanese form of short poetry with the same traditional 5-7-5 morae, 3-line construction as haiku, often evincing wry humor.  Indeed, I find that the more depressing the news of the day, the more refreshing a senryu.  So here are a handful to sample published in various international literary journals, including Chrysanthemum, tsuridōrō, Haikuniverse and Failed Haiku:

Zen experience
to explain

for every being
until mosquito bites

White House breaking news
more bird tweets
than Trump tweets

catches of the day
two trout
and one tree

racing boat through Chesapeake
until the sand bar

quarantined single
more conversations with pets
than with people

Unfortunately, the fishing and boating senryu were taken from actual personal experiences.  With that, I hope my remarks this morning have triggered at least a trace of a smile, laugh or tear, and I again very much thank you, my esteemed Italian-American colleagues and friends, for indulging my brief literary remarks on this beautiful autumn day.  It’s been an honor.  

Novel Writers are Actors Playing Every Role in a Story

I have always considered the novel-writing process a mysterious and unnatural enterprise being only one person with one set of feelings and experience to draw from. Actors, at least, are only required to dive into the feelings and experiences of one character at a time generally speaking while the novel writer doesn’t have the luxury of remaining for any length of time in one body or mind. We are the lone travelers who must be willing to jump like a honeybee from one mindset to another in the space of one scene. We have no choice if we want to make our characters real, believable and three-dimensional. It really is like being a honeybee or butterfly due to the necessity of jumping from character to character without interruption, hiccup or fail.

Not only is it necessary to jump from one conscious framework to another in a single scene but to deal effectively with the complex interplay of emotions, connections, personalities, clashes, understandings and influences of situations and circumstances upon the characters themselves. It’s also often necessary to come to some sort of conclusion or resolution pertaining to this interaction between characters that is real, believable, imaginative or meaningful. Basic psychological understanding of human nature is necessary. This can put a lot of strain and pressure on the writer to produce “realistic” material that is compelling, consistent and sensible but also entertaining for the reader. Needless to say, the fiction-writing process is a complex one and one shouldn’t enter the arena without understanding exactly what’s required to complete the creative process. The end product relies on his/ her talent, tenacity and mastery of the entire process.

Shifting headspace from one character to another and placing oneself in each individual’s shoes and situation is the best way to make scenes interesting and impactful to the reader. In my view, this means abandoning and losing yourself in the characters as much as possible. Your own emotions, ideas, principles, values and perspectives are better left behind during the process for your novel to be memorable and also for breathing life into characters. Thinking of yourself as a shell or portal for your characters to communicate their own thoughts and emotions through helps in the effort and is one major way to tackle the creative process. Let your characters speak through you and express their voices through you, in a sense letting the universal mind or consciousness flow through your veins. Avoid applying what you personally want or your own character traits or values to your characters. This is important to the process. This lets your characters be who they are not what you are. They are “people” separate from you and that, I believe, is the best way to think of them which avoids suffocating your characters under a tyrannical “God-like” creative process. Your characters shouldn’t be slaves or necessarily reflect your own values and ideas and, in fact, it stretches the author’s abilities to occasionally develop characters that are opposite to his/ her own values and ideas, even characters he/ she doesn’t like. Characters that you despise are really a fun way to challenge yourself as a writer. You get to put yourself in your worst enemy’s shoes and explore that side or yourself or side of someone else. Think of it as a chance to explore the universe of possible personality types different from your own. If you can get your head around that and master it at the same time, your writing will likely improve, become more vibrant and lively, making your stories more enjoyable and your characters more endearing to read and take to heart by sympathetic readers.

Toxic relationships and dysfunctional people

Toxic relationships and dysfunctional people—what about these characters and the chaos they bring makes for a compelling story? Reading about heartbreak, addiction, loss, and insanity—it’s sometimes just so good.  And let me tell you, as a writer, they aren’t just enjoyable to read about but what many of us like best to write about. While I’m sure a simple story about an uncomplicated friendship or a couple who meets and falls crazy in love without any real bumps in the road might be easier to pen, I think I’d be sleeping before finishing chapter two, and if I’m napping, you can bet the readers will be.

I was reading a post on social media in one of the book groups I belong to, and the author said,

“Give me a book where there is a beautiful love story with a good guy and a great girl.”

She went on to say that she was tired of every book having a woman fall in love with a “Bad Boy” or “Mr. Bad Boy” turns his life around because of a good woman etc. I couldn’t help but agree with her. Why don’t we write more about extraordinary men and women and love stories that aren’t riddled with strife and tragedy? In books so many of us love; there’s often a character with significant issues. Does that say anything about us? While I think it can and certainly personally, I know it does for myself as I’ve had some experience with toxic love and dysfunction. But before we judge ourselves, let’s first look at how a novel is traditionally written. A story shouldn’t have a slow and steady pace without conflict. Books have specific structures from the most basic to the highly advanced. They all have similarities and follow certain rules but in varying ways. While many writers fine-tune this to their style, there are still basic rules in story building.

Each story has a protagonist, the main character living some kind of way but wants something else, maybe a greater goal or desire for something different or better. This is usually at the beginning of the story, where the exposition is established. There is world-building, and you get to know the characters and setting.

Next, there’s an inciting incident. The stakes are greater for the protagonist on whatever journey they’re taking. This sets the story in motion causing the reader to be invested.

Now we are at the rising action where the protagonist pursues the goal they have set, whatever it is they’re chasing or running from, etc. Through this, they are tested along the way.

After this we will arrive at a defining moment where all is lost, things are hopeless or there is a pivotal point where everything could change. The stakes are at their highest.

Lastly, a resolution. The protagonist either gets what they wanted or doesn’t or they realize something greater has been achieved.

Now again, while this is a basic story structure, it might be challenging to write or read if the story is just about Jack falling in love with Jill and nothing happens. What’s the inciting incident, what problem doesn’t the protagonist have to work out? What are the stakes?  So, while toxic love and dysfunctional people aren’t often enjoyable for the long haul in real life and can be exhausting, heartbreaking, and sometimes bring us to the brink. These messy characters and the situations they find themselves in often do make for an excellent read.


Scott Warrick, JD, MLHR, CEQC, SHRM-SCP

Scott Warrick Human Resource Consulting & Employment Law Services

(614) 738-8317    ♣    scott@scottwarrick.comWWW.SCOTTWARRICK.COM
Link Up With Scott On LinkedIn

Scott’s was diagnosed with PTSD.  His son was born with Asperger’s Autism. Traditional psychiatric care was not helpful, even though they sought the best care the medical profession could offer at that time.  

Devastated by this news, Scott’s looked for better answers.  In 2008, they both went to the Amen Clinic to undergo nuclear SPECT brains scans, which included over six hours of intake data for each of them. 

With the information they were given from the Amen Clinics, in addition to hundreds of hours of research Scott conducted over the next several years, they changed entire lifestyles. In August 2020, they returned to the Amen clinics for another set of scans in order to mark their progress. 

Both of their brains showed at least 80% improvement. In fact, Scott’s follow up scans showed that his OCD was gone.  It had been cured.

Getting your everyone to adopt healthy brain habits is CRITICAL to having a productive workforce.  

  • ENVIRONMENT YOU WORK IN one of the top factors that will determine your physical  and mental health?
  • DEFINE YOUR CULTURE to protect your mental health?
  • How will CHRONIC DISTRESS cause serious damage to your brain, resulting in such conditions as short term memory loss, depression, anxiety, PTSD and so on?
  • What happens PHYSICALLY in your body when you are under too much distress?
  • How do NUCLEAR SPECT SCANS work and what role do they can play in diagnosing and treating mental impairments?
  • How does the human brain and SOCIAL EPIGENETICS work … which is the neuroscience of how the brain will physically change based upon the environment you subject it to on a daily basis?
  • How can you enable your brain to actually repair itself and PREVENT all of this damage, which is the neuroscience of “Neurogenesis” and “Neuroplasticity”?   
  • Why are Omega 3sEssential Elements” and what do they actually do in the human brain?
  • How is McDonalds killing us and driving us crazy?
  • The roles do supplements, or VITAMINS and MINERALS, play in maintaining brain health … and how will you know which supplements to take and which ones to avoid?



Scott Warrick, JD, MLHR, CEQC, SHRM-SCP ( is a two-time best-selling author, a national professional speaker, a practicing Employment Law Attorney and a Human Resource Professional with 40 years of hands-on experience.  Scott uses his unique background to help organizations get where they want to go, which includes coaching and training managers and employees in his own unique, practical and entertaining style.  

Scott Trains Managers & Employees ON-SITE in over 50 topics, all of which can be customized FOR YOU! Scott travels the country presenting seminars on such topics as Employment Law, Conflict Resolution, Leadership and Tolerance, to mention a few.  


Scott combines the areas of law and human resources to help organizations in “Solving Employee Problems BEFORE They Start.”  Scott’s goal is NOT to win lawsuits. Instead, Scott’s goal is to PREVENT THEM while improving EMPLOYEE MORALE.

Scott’s first book, Solve Employee Problems Before They Start:  Resolving Conflict in the Real World, is a #1 Best Seller for Business and Conflict Resolution on Amazon.  It was also named by EGLOBALIS as one of the best global Customer and Employee books for 2020-2021. Scott’s most recent book, Living The Five Skills of Tolerance:  A User’s Manual For Today’s World, is also a #1 Best Seller in 13 categories on Amazon, including Business Leadership, Minority Studies, Organizational Change, Management, Religious Intolerance, Race Relations and Workplace Culture, to mention a few.

Scott’s MASTER HR TOOL KIT SUBSCRIPTION is a favorite for anyone wanting to learn Employment Law and run an HR Department.

Scott has been named one of Business First’s 20 People To Know In HR, CEO Magazine’s 2008 Human Resources “Superstar,” a Nationally Certified Emotional Quotient Counsellor (CEQC) and a SHRM National Diversity Conference Presenter in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012.   Scott has also received the Human Resource Association of Central Ohio’s Linda Kerns Award for Outstanding Creativity in the Field of HR Management and the Ohio State Human Resource Council’s David Prize for Creativity in HR Management.

Scott’s academic background and awards include Capital University College of Law (Class Valedictorian (1st out of 233) and Summa Cum Laude), Master of Labor & Human Resources and B.A. in Organizational Communication from The Ohio State University. 

For more information on Scott, just go to

What keeps you up at night?

In ancient Rome, when the conquering generals would return to Rome following their victory in battles, they would typically be in a chariot, which was a ritual procession, the highest honor bestowed upon a general in the ancient Roman republic. This was the summit of the career of a Roman aristocrat and the opportunity for the general to tell his story of victory.

Crouching unseen in the chariot was a slave who would whisper into the victorious general’s ear: Memento mori (translated as “remember you will die”). Meaning: Despite the greatness of your achievement, this will end.

We humans are hard-wired to air our fears and tell our story. This point came home at a recent dinner with two colleagues whom we had not met for several months as COVID was surging. Each had a need to share with us their professional and personal challenges, how they dealt with life as it unfolded. Maybe you are finding yourself hungry for face-to-face time once again.

But here is my story: We were in the midst of some remodeling, which almost never goes smoothly, takes three times longer than expected, and costs three times more than estimated. Deal with it. It’s just the way it. But there was a surprising “pay off,” which I had not anticipated.

The Unexpected Guest

On a gray, bitterly cold April morning, yes, this is Minnesota, our two dogs, Stevie and McKenna, were with me when we heard a polite knock on the door. Our remodeling carpenter stopped by to finish up some work. I remarked that he was a magician, an artist who took pride in his profession and was a joy with whom to work.

As he was a finishing up, I wished him a good day and was curious about his world.

I asked, “This must be stressful work. What keeps you up at night? What is your biggest concern in this business?”

He was dumbfounded because no one ever raised this question. He then explained that his biggest concern would be to disappoint his clients. There was no comment about lost revenue, no comment about the finances of the business, but a sense of sadness that his clients would not be satisfied.

But then he shared something profound: “I worry what my kids . . . what they think about me.”

He had two adult sons in their mid-thirties, and one of whom works side-by-side with their father. It was a very positive relationship, and they were an amazing team. We each then talked about adult children, how their world is very different from that of baby boomer parents. And how we need to be respectful of each other’s position and to recognize that the world of the parent is very different from that of the adult children.

Curiosity about the Human Spirit

I have occasionally asked others (and some of my patients) what keeps them up at night. I have a natural curiosity about the human spirit. And their responses, like that of our carpenter, provide a snapshot of the human soul.

One prominent businessman now in his late sixties grew up on a farm in the upper Midwest, earned a bachelor’s degree at a state college, bought a failing farm, and turned around and sold it for a hefty profit. He parlayed those finances into a series of businesses and became a wealthy “simple country boy.”

We met at a fundraiser golf tournament and I asked what kept him up at night. In so many words, he disclosed that he was not some financial wizard. His investments were by gut feeling, intuition, “seat of the pants,” and not based on some algorithm by a Wall Street analyst. He was generally fearful if people found out that his success was essentially a roll of the dice.

Dr. W, an iconic surgeon who speculated that with careful technique cancers could be teased out of the liver and perhaps these patients would live longer than without surgery. The liver had been viewed as the “seat of the soul” and should not be violated by the surgeon’s scalpel. Dr. W had a quiet confidence, a reserved swagger, that said, “Yes I can do this,” in a field where others had not.

And he became world renowned for his expertise. What kept him up at night? The reality that the cases that he initially operated on were straightforward. He was now expected to be the miracle worker, to resurrect complex patients with multiple medical conditions. The complications increased, our surgeon lost his confidence, and he gently bowed out of the operating theater.

A scenario familiar to me from high school. My friend “Billy” had a growth spurt and a weight gain ahead of the other players. He became the master of the turnaround jump shot. With his back to the basket, he would receive the ball from one of the guards, take a step away from the basket, pivot, shoot, and drain the shot. He was unstoppable.

What kept him up at night? He knew that he was a one-trick pony. Other teams realized that his shot was the same, he was easily defended, and his career came to an unceremonious closure.

Of Tigers and Fears

I became acquainted with Siegfried and Roy, two performers who were the first of the big shows in Vegas, Masters of the Impossible. Backstage I asked what kept them up at night: The palpable fear that a 600-pound tiger might lose his focus and create mayhem on the stage. Their worst fears were realized.

Here’s a familiar story. A super-star golfer leaves college in his junior year. Told by everyone that he “cannot miss” and he is destined for the PGA tour where he would be among the top 125 golfers in the world. The difference between #1 and #125 is about one stroke a round. During his first couple of tournaments, his competitors were in awe, he has the touch of a sorcerer around the greens. Wins major tournaments within the first two years. But what keeps him up at night? The recognition from history that present performance, as in stocks, does not predict future performance. He lost that confidence, lost his panoche and drifted into the nether world of those who had great promise but for some reason could not hold it all together.

My friend, the pilot of a sophisticated passenger airliner, with thirty years of flying experience. There is no situation that he has not seen and handled from the flight deck. His fearful night? “There but for the grace of God go I.” He questions an experienced flight crew with a full complement of passengers aboard, ideal weather, picture perfect takeoff—then the plane falls into the apocalypse. Unexpectedly. A vertical plummet into a mountain. No survivors. That’s what keeps your airline pilot up at night.

What keeps me up at night?

It’s relatively easy to paraphrase the nightmares in the anxieties of others but when we turn the lens on our cells there is an element of self-disclosure and an element of vulnerability. But in the interest of literary honesty, here goes.

I have been blessed in myriad dimensions. A wonderful spouse, three adult children, two grandchildren—each with their own issues, but at the end of the day there is a respect and a supportive culture among us.

Professionally, a career that some have called transcendent and iconic at one of the premier medical institutions in the world. But during those quiet reflective moments such as on a cold windy and rainy April in the upper Midwest when I am the only one home, there is that nagging angst, that existential uneasiness that the gift to write reasonably intelligibly, the gift to stand before thousands in an audience as an “entertainer,” the gift to play the piano someone clumsily may evaporate.

What if I awake some morning and that confidence, that reserved swagger, that quiet voice that says, “Yes, I can do this”—what if all these things disappear as if taken away by some vengeful god. Have I seen this happen to others? Absolutely.

Several months ago, while playing “My Way” on the piano in the lobby of our medical institution, I was stunned by a gentleman standing by my right shoulder and singing the words to the song. I had never heard such energy, such power, such vocal presence.

As we finished up the lyrics, I turned around and what did I see? A gentleman in his forties who bore the look of a hard life: multiple facial scars, a nose that had been broken and poorly set, tobacco-stained fingers, a shirt missing three buttons, and the aura of alcoholism and a life of poor choices and decisions.

Without exaggeration he shared with me that he was destined for the Big Time, The Big Stage and then the wheels came off because of alcoholism. His parting words: “Doc, can you give me a couple of bucks for a bus ticket to get back to XYZ.”

This reminded me of the mythical “boulevard of broken dreams,” which certainly can be the final resting place for any one of us. As John Greenleaf Whittier eloquently stated, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’”

Bottom line: We have a need to tell our story. We have a need to be acknowledged and recognized. We have a need for someone to listen. No judgment, no critique, no interruptions. Just be present.

We can do our homework. We can be prepared, but at the end of the day, situations will arise over which we have no control. So, we show up, we suit up, and we give life our best shot.

Interview coming soon!

The Author’s Guide to Podcast Stardom

Six Tips to Help You Impress On-Air

Indie authors cram their book marketing plans with social media posts, blog tours, bookstore signings, and more, in the hopes of winning a nanosecond of attention or, gosh, to sell a book. 

One marketing strategy for authors that is still somewhat overlooked involves booking yourself on a podcast with a strong regional, national, or international following.

Guest-starring on a podcast that focuses on books and writers is almost always free, you can easily arrange it yourself, and it’s a sure-fire way for many listeners to learn about you at one time. Not just any listeners, but those who actually buy and read books, and are pre-disposed to support writers, which is why they tune into the program you’re on to begin with. A well-hosted podcasts gives you a chance to read an excerpt from your book and plug your website or whatever else helps readers find you. And that’s on top of a meaty conversation about why you write, what else you’ve written, and so forth.

There are many outlets for pitching yourself to a podcast. While the most popular and prestigious podcasts (e.g., Between the Covers) don’t accept cold pitches from unknown indie authors (“Don’t call us, we’ll call you”), there are scores that are eager for potential guests to connect with them and will respond surprisingly promptly. Sites such as and fee-based, to name just two, list many programs where authors are a good fit. I’ve been on programs featuring authors over fifty as well as programs specializing in authors writing mystery. Both categories happen to work for me. Some programs focus on BIPOC authors, some on authors writing about religion and spirituality. The list goes on.

Make the most of your starring role

Getting booked on a podcast is only half the battle. Making the most of your guest spot requires some forethought and planning.

Here are six tips for authors who wish to impress their hosts (which means, making the host’s job easy) and make a good impression on listeners. If you really play your cards right, you may get a spontaneous invitation to return to the program with your next book, or to appear on another show the host runs. (I’ve received both kinds of invitations, to my surprise and delight.)

1. Prepare for the question likely to trip you up the most: “What is your book about?” 

It sounds simple enough. You wrote the thing; who better to discuss the contents? But too often, authors launch into a semi-incoherent recounting of character names and plot points, not unlike reciting badly written jacket copy. The listener is unenlightened and may tune you out early.

Please prepare a cheat sheet in advance, which you either memorize word-for-word or else read from in a casual tone of voice.

When a host asks me, “What’s The Nighthawkers about?,” I read this, while trying to sound like I’m simply upholding my end of the conversation:

An archaeologist must choose between her handsome first lover and the irresistible stranger who helps her discover a powerful destiny…But really…it’s a story about feeling lost and learning that you can’t choose the right partner until you know yourself.

Quickly and succinctly, I’ve offered listeners a tight log line plus a window into the story behind the story, where the emotion lies.

2. Be ready to read from your book. 

I always have a prepared excerpt from my book on screen, which I can read at a moment’s notice, if asked (you don’t always know in advance). Choose a short, self-contained scene, or part of a scene, which is mainly self-explanatory. A first page often works well. Unless pre-arranged with the host, your excerpt should not exceed two minutes or so. Practice ahead of time, so that you are adept at performing the different voices in your passage, to help a listener follow along. (Record yourself and play it back to see if you’re reading too fast — a common mistake.) Be prepared to offer a very short (fifteen-second) set-up of the passage you are about to read. Something like, “In this scene, the lovers Pauline and Grey are about to embark on an illegal dig for artifacts.” Then boom, get right into it. Don’t summarize the entire book or comment on the scene itself.

3. Monitor the length of your replies. 

When the host asks a question, keep your response to a minute-and-a-half or less. Droning on at length gets boring, makes you sound pompous, and kills a conversational vibe. A good host will ask you a follow-up question if they want to know more on a particular topic.

4. Ask the host a couple of questions. 

Don’t make this solely about you. When the host asks a particularly challenging or thoughtful question, end your response with a question of your own, such as, “What’s your view on this?” or “Has this happened to you, too?” A genuine back-and-forth is much more engaging than a bare-bones Q&A.

5. Follow the host’s lead and format. 

The second the host presses the record button, they are in control of the format. Keep your mouth shut until the host has formally introduced you, at which point you will always say, “[Gary], it’s great to be here. Thanks so much for having me on.” Then be quiet until you’re asked a question. You’ll do the same thing at the very end: thank them for a great conversation. This is professional on-air behavior and you need to get it right.

6. Establish a professional environment on your end. 

Make sure you have a good pair of plug-in headphones (no Bluetooth), not just earbuds, and absolutely no noise in the background. If the podcast is also a videocast (some programs do both), make sure you are properly dressed and lit, with a professional, non-distracting background. Many podcast recordings are produced using software apps that, unlike Zoom, do not allow you to put up a green-screen background. So be prepared, if that’s the case.

If you follow all of these tips, and relax into the conversation, you and the host will get along great — and you’ll easily persuade new readers to find you, thanks to the miracle of the airwaves.

Amy L. Bernstein is the author of several novels as well as an essayist, playwright, and poet. She is also a certified nonfiction book coach and former journalist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


The percentage of teens using illicit substances dropped significantly in 2021 as the pandemic forced them into isolating from friends, classrooms and extracurricular activities. Alcohol, marijuana and nicotine vaping – the most commonly used substances by teens all showed declines from 2020.
These findings were reported by a Monitoring the Future survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research –
The survey is given annually to students in eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades. In addition to gathering data on substance use, the survey records teen’s perception of harm caused by using substances, whether they disapprove of using substances and how teens view the availability of drugs.
Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, observed, “We have never seen such dramatic decreases in drug use among teens in just a one-year period.” She added, “These data are unprecedented and highlight one unexpected potential consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic which caused seismic shifts in the day-to-day lives of adolescents.”
Alcohol consumption decreased significantly for tenth and twelfth grade students with a smaller decrease for eighth graders. In 2021, 47 percent of seniors reported drinking alcohol compared to 55 percent the previous year. Among tenth grade students, 29 percent reported drinking compared to 41 percent in 2020. Eighth graders also reported a decline in drinking with 17 percent saying they drank in 2021 compared to 21 percent in 2020.
Alcohol intoxication (reported as being drunk) also dropped significantly among all three grades. For example, in 2021, 29 percent of seniors said they’d been “drunk” compared to 37 percent in 2020. Among tenth graders, 13 percent reported being drunk compared to 23 percent the previous year. Alcohol intoxication also dropped among eighth graders. In 2021, 6 percent said they’d been drunk compared to 8 percent in 2020.
Marijuana, one of the most popular illicit drugs use by teens, declined significantly among all three grades. In 2021, 31 percent of seniors used marijuana compared to 35 percent the previous year. Seventeen percent of tenth graders used the drug compared to 28 percent in 2020 and eighth grade use declined from 11 percent to 7 percent in 2021.
For three years, from 2017 to 2019 the percentage of teens vaping substances like marijuana and nicotine increased at alarming rates. For example, the percent of eighth graders vaping increased from 13 percent to 20 percent; the percent of tenth graders vaping increased from 24 percent to 36 percent and the percent of seniors vaping went from 28 percent to 41 percent. In 2020 the percentages stabilized and in 2021 showed a significant decline.
While declining in 2021, vaping continues to be an important issue. Today, nearly 32 percent of high school seniors, 22 percent of 10th graders and 13 percent of eighth graders admit to vaping. The majority of them prefer to vape nicotine, followed by marijuana.
Two issues drive teen substance use: drug availability and perception of risk.
Availability: Today’s teens know that it is far too easy to obtain substances. For example,
70 percent of high school seniors say marijuana is either “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain.
Seventy-seven percent say getting their hands on alcohol is very easy and twenty-one percent of
seniors believe it is easy to find MDMA (ecstasy). Thirty percent say getting their hands on
amphetamines is also very easy.
Perhaps more alarming, 27 percent of eighth graders said getting a hold of a drug like
marijuana is either fairly easy or very easy to do. And nearly 50 percent said alcohol is easy to
In addition to teens knowing how easy it is to obtain substances, they don’t believe
substances like alcohol or marijuana are very harmful. Only 22 percent of high school seniors
said using marijuana “regularly” was a great risk. Only 22 percent said having one or two drinks
of alcohol nearly every day involves a great risk. Perhaps more alarming, only 34 percent said it
is risky to “have five or more drinks once or twice each weekend.”
When teens find that it is easy for them to obtain alcohol and drugs and they don’t see
much harm in using them, the risk for increased substance abuse increases.
Richard Miech, a principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future Study, said “These
declines are an unintended consequence of the pandemic. Among the many disruptions
adolescents have experienced as a result of the pandemic are disruptions in their ability to get
drugs, disruptions in their ability to use drugs outside of parental supervision, and disruptions in
peer groups that encourage drug use.”
He also noted “It is possible that this delayed onset of drug use will lower these
adolescents’ levels of drug use for the rest of their lives…In contrast, it is also possible that these
declines will be fleeting, and drug use may surge among these adolescents once they are free of
the constraints imposed by the pandemic.” Only time will tell if the significant decline in teen
substance use observed in 2021 will carry over to 2022.
“Moving forward” according to Dr. Vokow, “it will be crucial to identify the pivotal
elements of this past year that contributed to decreased drug use – whether related to drug
availability, family involvement, differences in peer pressure, or other factors – and harness them
to inform future prevention efforts.”
Richard Capriola has been a mental health and substance use counselor for over two decades. He
is the author of The Addicted Child: A Parent’s Guide to Adolescent Substance Abuse which can
be found at