On The Yellow Brick Road

I’m launching a newsletter on Substack at the encouragement of my publisher. My Substack “On the Yellow Brick Road” will officially launch in September with the announcement of my new novel coming out March 2024. Those current subscribers and/or those who have received regular notice of my blog posts are automatically subscribed. If you aren’t subscribed, I hope you will be.

This monthly newsletter will include my blog post, along with news about my work and literary events, a focus on a writer at risk in the world you can learn about and on whose behalf you may want to take action. It will include a bit of whimsy with a word or two you may never have occasion to use, but if you’re like me, words you like to know to expand vocabulary, and a list of resources for freedom of expression. I’d also love to hear what you would like included as regular or irregular features.

The Substack allows comments and interactions more easily among readers and other Substacks, I’m told. Like many, I’m trying to keep up with the shape-shifting platforms of digital and social media in order to expand connections with readers and friends. If you’ve read my blog posts over the last 15 years—could it really be 15 years—I hope you’ll continue. My Substack is free, and you can subscribe by clicking here. I’ll try to keep the whole enterprise a short and enjoyable read with substance. I look forward to hearing from you.

A former journalist, I spend most of my writing time these days on fiction in a lifelong admiration for what literature can do. Good literature reveals characters and orders life into stories the reader can connect with and understand. We all live and remember our lives and the lives of others through the stories we tell and are told. History, politics, even religion are rendered through stories.

Because storytellers can be powerful members of society, the storytellers—usually the writers—are often the early persecuted, imprisoned and even killed in authoritarian societies as a result of the stories they tell. I’m a storyteller as are many of my friends and family who are journalists, fiction writers, dramatists and poets. We are fortunate to live in a country that, while stressed at the moment with the banning and censoring of books, still does not put its writers in prison or kill them, though the increasing pressure to ban books is alarming. Freedom of expression includes the freedom to have access to ideas. Imagination has always been the enemy of the tyrant because it can’t be controlled. I’ve spent time over the last many decades working on behalf of writers who don’t have the same protections and working with organizations that defend freedom of expression.

In my own novels—in particular my recently published novel Burning Distance and my next novel The Far Side of the Desert to be published March 2024—I’ve sought insight through narrative. Both books took a good deal of research into the factual context of the story and the inner journeys of characters. In naming my newsletter On The Yellow Brick Road, I pay tribute to L. Frank Baum’s iconic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Interpretation is extensive on the many elements of this story and of the Yellow Brick Road in particular. According to commentary:

Collaboration, communication, innovation, positivity, nurturing, and fun are the six core values of Yellow Brick Road. The values emphasize team spirit, transparent two-way communication, support for new ideas, nurturing of bonds and relationships, a positive, solution-based mindset, and a fun learning environment.

Is that a mission statement? It sounds a bit like a gathering of strategic modelers at a conference. I’m not aiming for a didactic newsletter, but I think the values hold. I’d also like to have some fun and explore new thoughts and occasionally inspire.

Other commentary notes:

With the help of her newly-minted friends, Dorothy is able to melt the Wicked Witch of the West and save the citizens of Oz. No matter what the situation is, you should never allow that to get in the way of your morals.

With the help of new and old friends, I look forward to embarking on this path, alert to occasional wicked witches but mostly exploring ideas large and small. Thank you for coming along.

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