Review: Fool Proof Dictation

On the heels of Chris Downing’s fantastic book the Fool Proof Outline comes his latest kick-butt book, Fool Proof Dictation.

I’ve read other books about dictating with Dragon Naturally Speaking but Chris’s system takes it all to another level. It’s like reading something I would have written had I taken the time to do the work, practice, test different ideas, practice, do the research, practice, test some more until it was successful, and then create a polished system.

This is a thorough, workable, and easy to follow system. It walks you step-by-step through the process, helping to build your dictation abilities and confidence along the way.  Following his methods you get incrementally more comfortable working with a mic/recorder, and talking out loud, and telling stories in an increasingly coherent and entertaining manner to an audience you can’t see.

I’ve started using Fool Proof Dictation to write my stories, but when you think about it this method has uses that go well beyond dictating a novel (think blogging, public speaking, audiobooks, podcasting…and reveiws like this one)

The system in this book takes a dyslexic and slow reader/writer like me to where I’m producing 3,000 to 5,000 words in the same time it took me to write 1,000 type-written words. And I’m just getting started.

I wholeheartedly recommend Fool Proof Dictation.

Paris – Not What I Remembered.

When I was last in Paris, I was 10. I remember a beautiful city with broad avenues and sidewalks – all of which were fastidiously clean. There were people and traffic, but it was modest and moved in a relaxed steady way. I remember my father telling me the people here take pride in their city. I remarked how much cleaner it was then New York City, and Dad told me Parisians take great care to keep their city beautiful.

That has changed. Continue reading

Ulysses S. Grant – A Badass to the Very End

General Ulysses S. Grant managed to put Robert E. Lee in such a tight spot it forced him to surrender, thus ending the Civil War. During the signing of the surrender treaty, Grant showed up at Wilmer McLean’s house in Appomattox Court House straight from the field.

He was looking a little rough around the edges, his uniform speckled with dried mud and dirt, while Lee showed up in his best dress uniform. Grant treated his now former foe with the greatest respect and offered generous surrender terms to Lee’s vanquished army. Continue reading

This Is The Modern Publishing Business

Reblogged from David Gaughran


Scammers used to operate at the edges of the publishing business, but have wormed their way into its heart. And the entire industry is in denial. An unintentionally revealing aspect of the tiresome Amazon-Hachette dispute was a series of statements from an organization purporting to advocate for authors’ rights. One of the heinous crimes Amazon was said to have committed was treating books like toasters. Continue reading

July 4th, 1976

July 4th, 1976 – July 4th, 2016

It’s hard to believe it has been 40 years.


In 1976 the United States celebrated its Bicentennial Celebration. It’s 200th anniversary of being an independent country. The Vietnam War ended just a year before. Despite the civil unrest that war caused, it seemed patriotism was at a high in 1976. There were so many celebrations and observation for months leading up to the 4th.

In school we re-examined this key time in our history and studied the Declaration of Independence in-depth. All the fire hydrants in town were painted with patriotic colors and some to look like patriot soldiers. There were ‘76’ flags with 13 stars everywhere. For a young teen, this was a special and memorable time. Continue reading

This Father’s Day Let Me Tell You About My Dad

He was there for me when I entered this world on December 21st, 1961.

I was there for him when he left this world on December 21st, 2015.

He was 18 days away from his 82nd birthday.



My Dad was a quiet man, a humble man, but my Dad was tough and he was a fighter.

He grew up as a child in World War II Germany. His older brother, Werner (my namesake), died at the age of 13, during the war. He died at an asylum while recovering from meningitis. There are questions about what really happened to him. Continue reading

My Guardian Angel Drives A Green 1968 Dodge Charger


I woke this morning to a memory of an incident that took place when I was a kid in the 1970’s. I was a 14-years-old and living in Lindenhurst, New York, a blue collar town on the south shore of Long Island.

Having just completed my newspaper deliveries, I was straddling my bike in my driveway talking to my then best friend Joe. His cute brown and white mixed-breed dog, Kilroy stood nearby. As we were talking I noticed this kid, who looked to be seventeen, walking down our block and angling right toward us. He wore a parka, had dark disheveled hair, a scruffy beard, and a serious look on his face. Continue reading

Ninja Reflexes (or Just Lucky?)


So it was Mother’s Day, and we had a busy but good day. We decided to have a healthy dinner and went to Whole Foods to get some produce and seafood.

In the parking lot a car was parked in the main thoroughfare right in front of the entrance, impeding traffic flow. We went around the car parked in a real parking space. As we walked past the car we noticed there was no one in the driver’s seat but there was a woman in the passenger seat. We’re like, “What the hell?”

I’m walking forward, but looking back at the car while stooping a little to look at the woman to see if she’s okay. I trip on the curb in front of the store entrance. Continue reading