Thursday, June 29, 2017


A CURIOUS MIND, The SECRET to a BIGGER LIFE by Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman was published in 2015 by Simon & Schuster.

Although, He had always been curious, Glazer said he spent the two years before publication learning more about curiosity.

Curious myself, I was drawn to this book, although I didn’t know anything about Brian Grazer at that time. When I read the list of movies he produced and some of the people he spoke with, I knew I had to read it.

Grazer was planning to go to law school when he learned about a summer job at Warner Bros Studio. He called immediately, joining the world of show business. His first real, full time producing job was with Paramount Studios.

There he met Ron Howard, who had been a famous child actor, but now wanted to be a director. Together the two produced several successful movies, established Imagine Entertainment and produced many more movies. 

Grazer was nominated for 43 Academy Awards and 149 Emmys. He was one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. His films include A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Splash, Friday Night Lights, The Grinch who Stole Christmas, American Gangster, J. Edgar, Frost/Nixon, and Liar, Liar.

He credits his success to curiosity. He also produced television series such as "24."

For 35 years, Grazer had “curiosity conversations” with people in and outside of show business, such as Jonas Salk, Condoleeza Rice, Michael Jackson, John McCain, Amy Tan, Edward Teller, Steve Wozniak, Deepak Chopra, Jeff Bezo, Norman Mailer, Muhammad Ali,  Anderson Cooper, Tommy Hilfiger, Isaac Asimov, Charlie Rose, F. Lee Bailey, Barrack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Andy Warhol.

You can find a list of them and a brief description on pages 231 to 258. I found the variety of people and their interests amazing. He also met Princess Diana, Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and many others.

“Curiosity is what gives energy and insight to everything else I do,” he wrote. “For me, curiosity infuses everything with a sense of possibility.” He links curiosity with success in business and storytelling.

“We’ve been telling stories for 4,000 years. Every story has been told,” he wrote. “Good storytelling requires creativity and originality; it requires a real spark of inspiration.”

“Where does the spark come from?” he continues. “I think curiosity is the flint from which flies the spark of inspiration.”

Theodor Geisel (Dr Seuss) had his first book rejected by 27 times before published by Vanguard Press. What if he had stopped at the 20th rejection? Today his books are still selling approximately 11,000 each year in the U.S. and many of his 44 books remain best sellers.

Curiosity has to be harnessed to at least two other key traits:

1 – the ability to pay attention to the answers.
2 – the willingness to act.

Grazer said curiosity gave him the dream.  “It quite literally, helped me create the life I imagined back when I was 23 years old,” he wrote. That life has been even more adventurous, interesting & successful than he had hoped.

When you know more you can do more. Besides curiosity, Glazer stressed the importance of discipline, determination and persistence. “Persistence is the drive moving you forward. Curiosity provides the navigation.”

The cover art is by artist Jeff Koons, who first asked what the book was about, Grazer told him it was to inspire people to see how curiosity could make their lives better.

Koons produced and Grazer used “a seemingly simple line drawing of a face that conveys exactly the joy, openheartedness, and excitement that being curious brings.”

Various ways curiosity is useful:

·         As a tool for discovery.
·         As a spark for creativity and inspiration.
·         As a way of motivating yourself.
·         As a tool for independence and self-confidence.
·         As the key to storytelling.
·         As a form of courage.
·         As a way of creating human connections.

I first listened to this book as I drove back and forth to Baltimore, but I was so intrigued that I had to get the printed version and read it again. I think anyone who is curious would enjoy this book.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

So you want to write a book

“So you want to write a book.” That was the title of an interactive workshop I attended recently given by Julie Castillo, author and instructor.

She often is asked by students – Do I have what it takes to write a book?

Of course, you do, is the first answer. You can't know if you have talent until you try. 

But before plunging ahead, she recommends asking yourself other questions, such as:

Should I write that book? Will it hurt me or will it hurt someone else?

Who am I writing for? You should know your audience, but at first, write to please yourself.

Do I have the talent? You don’t know until you try.

How do you know whether your idea will work in the commercial marketplace? She said you need to have something unique and fresh. If you are writing non-fiction, you need to ask, what new information does my book bring to the marketplace that isn’t there?

How do I get started? One way is to write in a journal. Tell your own story. You may find the extraordinary in your every day life. Also, freewrite on a subject, just get your thoughts down on paper. This helps you dig deeper).

How do I get it written? You need structure. Three acts – beginning, middle and end is the basic step. Outlining your idea will help you structure your book or story.

How will you promote your book to ensure its success? There is a lot you can do and you should start early. Your book is only considered new for a year.

Julie speaking at a 2013 meeting of
the Carroll County Chapter MWA.
There were more questions asked. Also, a lot more detail was given for the questions listed above. If you want to learn more about writing, I would recommend taking one of Julie’s classes or another class by an experienced writer. 

I wrote previously about Julie. Check out my August 15, 2013 blog, if you want to see what she discussed at that presentation.

Julie Castillo is a fourteen-year veteran of the publishing and film industries, co-writer of two novels and thirteen nonfiction books—including two New York Times bestsellers, biographer for Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, and chronicler of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! 
A recent book is Eat Local For Less.

She is a college anthropology instructor, writing instructor, enrichment curriculum designer, entrepreneur, writer, and futurist. She holds an MA in sociocultural anthropology from Catholic University with a specialty in gender studies and ethnopsychology.

Julie has taught creative writing and publishing classes at local community colleges since 2007, including Carroll and Frederick county colleges.

There is much more to writing a book than just sitting down and putting pen to paper, or pushing computer keys. Whether you take a college, community college or other class, learn online or through books and writing friends, it is important to continue to learn the craft of writing. That is one of the reasons I am writing this blog, sharing what I learn and learning from others.

I hope you keep learning and keep writing.