Double Acts of Kindness

There’s nothing that enhances a travel experience more than being the recipient or the initiator of a random act of kindness. It’s what we hold onto most dearly when we reflect on our visits to foreign lands, long after the memories of sculptures and monuments fade. In my years of world travel, I’ve had the […]

Creating A Viable Story Problem

Fiction writers who are new to the craft often misunderstand the difference between an inciting incident and a story problem. An inciting incident is exactly what it implies – it’s an incident. It forms the basis of a viable story problem only when it becomes a problem for the protagonist. This truism bears repeating: A […]

When Characters Become People

As a former motion picture executive and current instructor of fiction writing, I’ve heard too often the incorrect definition of a sympathetic character. It is not necessarily someone we like. It is not necessarily someone we admire as a doer of good deeds. We follow characters with interest and compassion when we have a deep […]

Thank You In Thirty-Five Languages

Often-used phrases listed in travel books—most of them concerning directions to the nearest train station or restroom—are surely helpful tips to keep on hand when traveling, but having thank you in the local language as a knee-jerk response, without needing to look it up in a book or on our smartphone, will take us further […]

Kids Tales: Teens Making a Positive Impact on our World

Katie Eder is a tenth grade student—and an award-winning educator. Her passion for creative writing and her belief that kids can change the world led her to found Kids Tales, a non-profit workshop for elementary school students in low income areas, where original short stories are compiled into anthologies and self-published on Every instructor […]

Paying It Forward on the Cinque Terre

The cliffside hike from Monterosso al Mare, the most northern seaside village of Italy’s renowned Cinque Terre, to neighboring Vernazza is extraordinarily scenic, but it’s also arduous—the two colorful, ancient towns are connected by an endless series of steep stairways that overlook the rugged coast. “I can’t endure another step,” I breathlessly told my thirty […]

Unobstructed Freedom

Unobstructed freedom, as I see it, is our right and our privilege to be who we are, to live and to breathe without fear of our lives or our breath being taken away. This past year, I lost my ability to breathe while visiting El De Haus, a four-story brick building that was under construction […]

A Backpack Full of Dreams

The thirty-nine ESL students, dark eyed and dark complexioned, each took their turn telling me their name and their country of origin. Mexico. El Salvador. Honduras. Cuba. Peru. Colombia. Ecuador. Lebanon. India. China. Korea. This is Los Angeles, home to more than 224 languages, not including regional dialects. It was my job, as a guest […]

When New Speakers of a Foreign Language Are Reluctant to Converse

Fifteen years ago, when I retired from my career as a motion picture executive, I tried my hand teaching English to a group of Japanese visual arts students who were spending a year studying abroad in Los Angeles. Much of their behavior, I knew, was based on their culture of shame, so I wasn’t surprised by their […]

Lisa’s Article on – Broken English or Poetry?

BROKEN ENGLISH OR POETRY? If I could share one truism with new speakers of English here in the United States and abroad, it would be this: You are not stupid, no matter how many grammatical errors you make, and nobody is going to see you as stupid. Rather, when you try your hand at speaking […]

Conversations Live: Lisa Doctor discusses ACCIDENTAL POETRY

Host Cyrus Webb welcomes author Lisa Lieberman Doctor to #ConversationsLIVE to discuss her new book ACCIDENTAL POETRY: Improve Your English Through Creative Writing. Click here to listen: