My very talented (if not world renowned) musician sister-in-law, Shelley Doty, said something interesting to me the other day. According to her, anyone who achieves success in the arts, whether it be music, writing, acting or anything else, possesses four characteristics in some (not necessarily equal) measure: Talent, discipline, luck, and connections.


I’ve given this a lot of thought in relation to my own fledgling-yet-burgeoning writing career. Have I got talent? Naturally I’d like to think so, but every writer thinks (many with no small degree of self-delusion) that he or she is the greatest novelist since Tolstoy. And while my books have garnered their share of “gushing” from readers, they have not as yet “gone viral.” This makes me wonder if I truly have what it takes to be a best-selling author, or whether the problem lies in one of the other three requisites.

Which brings me to discipline. I am nothing if not disciplined. I left home at 17 and put myself through college and law school. I lost 40 pounds and maintained that weight loss for five years by sheer force of will: I plan low-fat meals in advance, log my daily food intake on a computer program, and run 4-1/2 miles five mornings a week (when not lifting weights or doing yoga). I wake up at 3:00 a.m. each day to work on my latest novel (currently, The Floater), and to write these silly blogs. How much more disciplined can one be? No, lack of discipline has never been my issue.

Is luck my problem? Now, luck is a fickle and unpredictable ally. You can’t really count on Lady Luck showing up when you need her. As far as I can tell, the harder you work, the luckier you become. I’ve never been one to witness miracles—what I do perceive in my own life is the  steady, prodding hand of  a higher power waking me up and pushing me out the door each morning with a firm kick in the behind. And, like a watchful, pain-in-the butt parent, my higher power gives me plenty of chores to do. Just as I wasn’t lucky enough to be born wealthy or privileged (to wit: Later With Myself: The Misadventures of Millie Moskowitz), the Universe only seems to reward my efforts after years of exacting dues. So here I am, standing in the longest, most slow-moving line of my life (I do have a knack for picking the worst one!), clutching my crumpled bills and waiting my turn to pay them.

So that just leaves connections, and simply stated, I have none. I don’t know a soul in the publishing business (nor, it seems, does anyone I know). You, my friends, are my budding “connections.” You’re the ones who will either launch my writing career through slow-but-steady word of mouth, or you’ll leave me standing in line when the cashier closes her register. Much as I would love to pick up the phone, call Aunt Sarah, and ask her to introduce me to her agent-friend (who lunches with a top exec at Random House),  I have to be satisfied calling in favors from you.

If you’ve enjoy my blogs, please give them a “like,” post a comment, or, better yet, buy a book! An Unexpected Exile is now available in paperback and will be out on Kindle any day. Both of my novels are available on and Make no mistake about it, whenever someone buys one of my books, my heart does three back flips. Not because of the money (which is negligible), but because it tells me you’re out there in that vast forest of “public opinion,” listening to  my grunts as I hack away at the tallest, most stubborn of trees (I’ve got a knack for picking the worst of those, too!) one exhausting blow at a time.  When it finally cracks and falls—when I yell “Tiiiiiimber!” at the top of my lungs, will a crowd gather to cheer me on, even as they jump out of the way? Or will that tree crash in a silent wood without making a sound?