A few years back, a friend’s dad visiting from the East Coast told me a “real writer” is someone who has published material on the printed page. Until he was published on paper, this man wouldn’t consider himself “a writer.”

I always hated the whole effort to create that distinction — “Are you a real writer, or not?” I recall back in college, my first week as a news staffer, I had to stay inside on Labor Day to write a bunch of stories, and a roommate’s friend visiting from San Francisco returned from a day of tubing and drinking and promptly freaked out at the sight of me in my room writing newspaper pieces. “Dude,” he said in this half-California/half-British accent, eyes enlarging as he gazed at my copy. “Dude, are you a writah?”

I always thought being a writer is not about anything other than a mindset. Period. But I think  Dan O’Shea, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Bouchercon this fall, says it even better, and more clearly, right here.

Frickin’ right on, Dan.

Small items, big shit: While my people are all salivating to get a piece of the Noir at the Bar action run by Ayres, my dear friend Riske is headed the other way. He just did a reading in a Palo Alto art gallery (granted, the first reading Al ever did was indeed not only in a bar, but in its basement, so that gives him Noir at the Bar street cred, no?). Truly bummed I couldn’t make it, but I know there will be more Riske readings to attend, if the quality of his soon-to-be released story collection is any indication. … Speaking of Ayres, my fellow Sex, Thugs and Rock & Roll alum has a story in the brand-spanking-new anthology, Surreal South ’09. Check it out. … And finally, Shea, my roomie at Bouchercon, has a new flash piece at Yellow Mama that gives us an insider’s view into the mind of a vacationing creative who’s dealt with one too many knuckleheads. Loved it. Hey Kieran, just how many voices can you successfully master? I’ve lost count.