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Last week, the lovely and talented Marcia Layton Turner asked me to participate in a baton blog hop. The idea is that bloggers will post about their writing process, then introduce their readers to other bloggers they should know. Marcia’s specialty is ghostwriting; you’ve probably seen her books all the time without realizing that she was the person behind them.

So here goes:

What am I working on? Right now, finishing up a semester of teaching at University of Illinois at Chicago, keeping Chicago On The Cheap updated, and working on a review course for a professional exam. I’m also pitching two different stories to editors. Outside of work, I’m training for the Ravenswood Run on April 27.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I have a good technical knowledge of finance, and I can make those complex topics understandable to a general reader.

Why do I write what I do?  I have a passion for helping people manage their money better. There are a lot of people in the financial services industry who have a vested interest in making this harder than it needs to be. I love that I can make a good living doing this, too.

How does your writing process work? The first step is research. If there’s a hole in a story or it is otherwise not coming together, the solution is to go out and find more data, talk to more people, and read more background material. Once I have information collected, I arrange a rough outline and go from there. Deadlines help. A lot. I have lots of ideas floating around that aren’t coming together because no one is holding a deadline and a check over my head.

The rules of the blog hop are that each poster is to pass the baton on to three other people. But, as with any pyramid scheme, one quickly runs out of recruits at the lower levels. Hence, I have only one successor, the lovely and talented Claire Zulkey of She is, among many other things, the author of a young adult novel, An Off Year.