Reagan was something else

I came across this book yesterday on my library shelf. Ronald Reagan wrote and published it in 1983. It remains the only book ever published by a sitting President.

Crazy. I mean, it was on sale in the grocery stores.

I think we sometimes forget the courage and principles Reagan brought to the table. This book may end up being one of his greatest and most courageous efforts, written in the face of a hostile media and a scoffing left wing sophisticate culture. Truly, the man had guts.

Ghostwriting by Dean

I have made my living off and on the past seven years as a ghostwriter. Usually, a client has a great book idea in mind, has a lot of content they can talk about, but don’t have the kind of personality to sit down and write it all out. (One of my favorite quotes is: “The art of writing is the art of putting the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”)

I typically spend 10 to 15 hours interviewing them, recording the interviews, getting them transcribed, and taking those transcriptions and further research and turning them into a book.

Several of my book projects are featured in a brochure that was designed for me by my childhood friend, current close friend, and imagery guru, Rob Tipton. I turned the brochure into a website, Since the time the brochure was designed, I also have this project published by McGraw-Hill in the quiver.

Update on Old Money, New South

My book Old Money, New South: The Spirit of Chattanooga continues to sell well in the region. You can find it in Barnes & Noble at Hamilton Place, Winder Binder on the North Shore, and at All Books downtown.

For several weeks, when the book debuted in 2006, it was Barnes & Nobles’ bestselling book for the week—of all books, national and local. Rock Point Books named Old Money, New South its best seller for the entire year of 2007. I have sold out of two printings and the third is dwindling fast.

It’s great to see this book sell so well. (Several thousand were sold on a local level. That’s a big number. If it had a national appeal it might be a seven figure total). But ultimately this colossal project was a labor of love. Between you and me, I feel a great sense of accomplishment when I see it on the shelf.


Gordon’s promo video

This video I made for Gordon Wetmore, my recently deceased good friend, who wanted something to help introduce new prospects to his career in portraiture. As an added bonus, we used footage of him painting portraits of my two children.

For more on Gordon, see here.


My project got published by McGraw-Hill


McGraw-Hill has published one of my projects! Mike Egan is a client for my ghostwriting services. I interviewed him last year for many, many hours, transcribing his incredible insights and weaving them into an interesting read.

This book was actually released today (Tuesday, Sept. 13), and you can buy Your Stronger Financial Future on .

McGraw-Hill reported $6.2 billion in sales last year. Here is more from the publisher:

Is Social Security about to collapse? (No.) Is Wall Street totally corrupt? (Nope.) Did the government bailouts benefit only “insiders”? (Absolutely not.)Is the American Dream dead? (Not on your life.)

Myths, misconceptions, and misinformation perpetuated by politicians, the media, and other self-interested parties can have a devastating effect on your retirement portfolio. After all, if you’re working with the wrong information, how can you make the right investing decisions?

Mike Egan, a financial advisor for both individuals and corporations, has worked on Wall Street for more than 20 years. He handles millions of dollars at a time. He knows how it all works—and he’s here to tell you that a lot of what you hear just isn’t true.

In Your Stronger Financial Future, Egan busts the most powerful myths Continue reading “My project got published by McGraw-Hill”

A Warm Blanket for Rainy Days


About five years ago, I got a call from my longtime friend Doug Daugherty who asked me to finish a writing project he’d started 25 years earlier. He actually didn’t remember it, but apparently a lady had hired him to work on the idea of helping her write a book. Doug had written a couple chapters, but it sat there because the lady wasn’t sure what to do next.

This lady, Zella Dixon, didn’t have a lot to write about at that point, and she told God that fact when she felt this overpowering call to write a book. Add to this the fact that she is dislexic and Continue reading “A Warm Blanket for Rainy Days”

My Big Fat Greek 10 Years

I am celebrating ten years of becoming an Orthodox Christian (as in Eastern Orthodox, as in Greek Orthodox, as in My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

I joined the church two days before 9-11. That’s how I remember the date.

Back in those days, I would hang out a lot at Greyfriar’s coffee shop. (Okay, I would spent the whole day there every day.) I had many long conversations with Warren Caterson, a happenin’ Presbyterian youth pastor, then Urban Young Life Director (anybody remember the “Metro”?), then founder of the Urban Art Institute. Warren had joined the Greek Orthodox church in town and had fascinating insights on his spiritual journey.

Over time, he won me over to his way of thinking. Warren is quite the evangelist, but he pulls it off wearing Continue reading “My Big Fat Greek 10 Years”

Grandpa Howard Gets Around

Around 2003 or so I made it a point to travel to Inverness, California, just above San Francisco, where my 93 year old grandfather Howard Waite continued to live an interesting and productive life in an isolated cabin on the top of a mountain with the ocean on one side and Tomales Bay on the other. I brought my video camera along.

It’s one of those decisions you never regret. He died soon after. I shot about 5 hours of interviews, parts of which I plan to use in a family history of my mother’s side down the road. In the short term, I put together this fun 3-minute video to capture the lifestyle of a happening nonagenarian.

Saying Goodbye to a Great Man

(3rd in a series of 3 tributes to Gordon Wetmore. 1st is here)

You hate to let a guy down. And when someone is good to you so often, it seems especially cruel to disrespect him.

Gordon in his studio

I was dancing on the edge of that possibility with Gordon as I once again hit the tenth floor button in his elevator and brought him a hot cup of coffee. He greeted me with his usual enthusiasm and we sat down to discuss the big project I had been working on for three years and was nearly finishing—a rather comprehensive book on Chattanooga and it’s ruling aristocracy.

Gordon had already hooked me up with a huge favor. He was somewhere between an acquaintance and a friend with the current editor of Newsweek, a Chattanooga native (Sewannee, to be specific). For me, Gordon took a risk with that relationship and sent him my manuscript and asked for an endorsement. We got one, and it is now prominently featured on the back cover. I’ve used that quote like there’s no tomorrow.

Gordon’s generosity seemed rather endless. He agreed to paint both my kids in pastels for a ridiculously one-sided trade he concocted. They sit prominently framed in my living room and rank as one of my very top possessions in life. Now, they are even more valuable.

For the book, I interviewed nearly 60 people all over town, getting their takes on Chattanooga, it’s power elite, and all the intrigue that goes along with managing a city. I would share all sorts of stories with Gordon about the interviews, but I never got around to asking him for an interview, even though, as a portrait artist acquainted with so many of the town’s elite, he was in a great position to offer some superb insights. I could tell he wanted to be part of the circle of interviewees, but he never said anything about it. Better men might have gotten upset.

Actually, Gordon often shared that he had a lifelong struggle with anger. This completely mystified me, and it represents the third of Gordon’s dimensions/contradictions that I have been detailing in this series, those contradicting qualities that dramatists, novelists and screenwriters say make for great men. Gordon struggle with a temper? I’d never witnessed anything like it. All I had ever seen was the kind personality that everyone wrote about online when the news hit of Gordon’s sudden passing. “Gracious, warm, gentle, soft-spoken”—these were the types of words used about Gordon again and again.

What gives? Well, first, it needs to be understood that this is a one-source story with no evidence. Gordon is the only one who’s ever said anything to me about him struggling with anger. Others closer to him may know more about it, but, heck, for all I know it wasn’t a big deal and was merely a creation of Gordon’s humble, self-deprecating style.

More credence to Gordon’s allegations about himself can be found on his Facebook page where he sites the following as his favorite quote: “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32). It doesn’t prove he had a temper problem, but it proves he thought he did.

Some insight might be gained from a favorite movie he lists: As Good as it Gets. He loved that Jack Nicholson character and brought him up on several occasions. A highly gifted romance novelist, this lead character has the ability to rip open the hearts of women for precisely the same reason he can send them into emotional ecstasy: he understands how they think and feel. Eventually, thanks to Helen Hunt, he finds a way to channel his abilities toward the good.

Maybe this explains why Gordon was not just another nice guy, but a man that has been eulogized across the country as one of the nicest, kindest, most gracious men they’ve ever met. Maybe Gordon was well acquainted with the ugly side of this quality and understood the great power of harnessing it toward the good. If ever he really did struggle with anger and a temper, it’s pretty clear he achieved the victory described by the writer of Proverbs.

So, by the time in life that he was dealing with my perceived snub of not asking him for an interview in the book when he was an obvious candidate—and sixty others had gotten the nod—he was an old pro at concealing any irritation and continuing to be generous and gracious.

One of the reasons I had delayed asking for his insights was because I was using Gordon as an ace-in-the-hole. If I interviewed him near the end, he might be able to fill in some gaps. Why I didn’t explain this to him, I’m not sure. But by the time I got close to doing so, I realized Gordon could help me with something a little more important. I asked him to write the Foreword. Because of his connection to the town’s elite, and because of his friendship with me, he was the perfect candidate to provide a warm introduction for a suspect character to a wary but interested audience.

Gordon was delighted. It certainly could be considered small potatoes in his world. But he was, as always, genuinely appreciative and even honored. That was the thing with Gordon; he always made you feel like you were something special.

Last week, I drove to the Chattanooga Bank Building and Gordon Wetmore’s studio, entered the code to the outside entrance, and rode the elevator to the tenth floor. As always, I had two servings of coffee in my hands. But no one was there this time to drink the second cup. I walked up the stairs to the 11th floor penthouse. The studio was locked, so I left the coffee just outside the door. A pity.

But I enjoyed my share of coffee and conversation with this great man. Way more than I deserved.


(3rd in a series of 3 tributes.)

A Man’s Contradiction is his Genius (1st of 3)

It takes a genius to herd cats, I mean artists (2nd of 3)