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Bil Howard is a professional storyteller and freelance writer who has written several of his own books and novels. He has ghostwritten more than 100 books and more than 500 articles, blog posts, short stories, and product reviews. Check out the published titles by Bil Howard in the left-hand column below.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Beans in Scrambled Eggs: How Living Abroad Enhances the Storyteller’s Craft

If you’ve never had beans in your scrambled eggs, you probably just read that title and said, “Yuck!” It’s not nearly as bad as you think, in fact, many of the foods that I’ve eaten while living in Colombia are a little off-beat to what I was used to growing up in the Colorado Rockies, but most of them have been treasured experiences. Besides differences in cuisine, I’ve also had plenty of cultural experiences that have expanded my mind and added new colors to the pallet with which I paint.

Living Abroad Has Enhanced My Craft as a Storyteller

The mere thought of living abroad and in a culture that is vastly different from your own probably terrifies you. Initially, it was pretty scary for me too. I had the advantage of being in love with a local (Paisa) from Medellin, Colombia, who happens to speak enough English so that my bad Spanish doesn’t leave me entirely helpless. But I had to do a lot of learning and growing as a person in order to survive; growth and learning that enhanced my craft as a storyteller.

I’ve Developed Broader Thinking

I never saw scrambled eggs with beans in them in any restaurant I’ve ever visited in Medellin and I defy you to find one that serves them. Had I seen that on the menu, I wouldn’t have ordered it anyway. I would now. Traveling abroad and observing different cultures have a great benefit when it comes to broadening our perspective. My first few visits to Colombia had that effect on me, but it wasn’t until I took up residence that I truly developed broader thinking.

Broader thinking involves asking and answering “why?” to a lot of very confusing customs that you simply won’t encounter when you’re only a visitor. Why do the natives put beans in their scrambled eggs? Why do they shoot off fireworks for 30 minutes to an hour at midnight on December 1st? (For more about some of my questions and experiences during my first year in Medellin, check out Chulos, Chuzos and Hotdog Condoms.) In answering those questions, I’ve learned to start thinking outside the box.

I’ve Become More Focused on Communicating

I knew decent Spanish when I first started visiting Colombia. It had served me well as a visiting traveler and I hadn’t had a lot of difficulty communicating my wants and needs. The people of Medellin, however, don’t speak Spanish. Yeah, I know, yes, they do, but they speak a dialect that is based off of Gaelic Spanish rather than the typical Castilian Spanish. To make matters worse, they have their own local idiomatic tendencies that defy any form of logic. It’s hard enough for a visitor, but I’m in a relationship.

I’ve always prided myself on being a good communicator. I use plenty of colorful metaphors, similes and allegories to help people understand what I’m trying to say to them. Most of the clichés that we use in English simply have no equal translation in Paisa (Medellin’s form of Spanish). Most of my usual clichés have been forced away from me and I’ve been forced to stop relying on them. I have, however, learned some new, Paisa clichés that in literal translation are very useful in English.

I’ve Enhanced My Harmonizing Skill

Just as harmony in music enhances the colorfulness of the tune, learning to harmonize with the people around you tends to enhance the color of your own life. Harmonizing with those around you involves trying to draw together commonalities. When you’re living within a foreign culture, finding those commonalities isn’t easy, but they are there and finding them adds richness to life that goes well beyond your typical experience.

What I learned is that I have some cultural similarities with the people of the Antioquian (Medellin and surrounding communities) region that I don’t have in common with people from different regions of the United States. There are some typical, “American” experiences that aren’t shared by my Colombian neighbors, but in finding common ground between us and harmonizing with them, I’ve learned how to seek similar ground with others that I work with or with my audience.

I’ve Learned to Appreciate Things That I Once Took for Granted

Here are some of the things that I took for granted while living in the U.S. that I miss dearly in Medellin:

·         Going out for bar-b-cue, Mexican food, or ordering in a real pizza or real Chinese food.
·         Traffic moving in an orderly fashion with everyone staying in their lane and waiting their turn to cross the intersection.
·         Walking across a street in crosswalk without having to worry about getting run over by a motorcycle, car or bus.
·         People that speak English
·         Movies in English
·         Chili without beans
·         Numerous different types of grated cheeses; especially jack and cheddar cheeses

Yes, I realize there are a lot of references to food in my list. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of items that I miss. They are enough to illustrate things that are so common in the United States that we hardly ever think about.

How does learning an appreciation for things that have been taken for granted enhance storytelling? Most writers take a lot of these and other small, seemingly thoughtless items and experiences for granted. I search for those things and insert them into my stories to add the colors, flavors, smells, sounds and textures that create a more profound experience.


Living abroad has enhanced my storytelling craft by teaching me to develop broader thinking, be more focused in my communication, enhanced my skill in finding things that I have in common with my audience and has helped me learn not to take so many things for granted. Those enhancements make me much better at not only telling my own stories, but being able to tell yours as well.

Why do Paisas put beans in their scrambled eggs? It goes back to a time before they had adequate refrigeration. The leftovers they had from meals the day before, if they had any, were mixed into their breakfast the following morning. They have refrigeration now, but they discovered that they like beans in their scrambled eggs; you might like them also, but you won’t know until you try them. Let me tell your story.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

5 Reasons Why You Should Use a Storyteller to Help You Write Your Book

Are you planning on writing your book and then slide it into a drawer where it can collect dust? Of course not! Researching, outlining, writing and editing a book is an enormous task with a huge investment of time, energy, brain-power and emotion attached. A writer can help write your book and make it into a perfect presentation, but a storyteller can take it to another level.

1. Storytellers Tell Your Story

If the world could only see what you can see and know what you know, they would snatch it up in a minute, right? Of course they would! You just have to find a way to make them see what you see and know what you know.

When you sit down to research, outline and write a book, you do it because you have a story to tell. Regardless of which field you’re in or what subject your book covers, there is a story behind it and a motivation behind why you want to take on such a monumental task. A storyteller will dig into that story in order to reach your readers on that deeper level and tell your story.

2. Storytellers Stir Up An Emotional Response.

Hunter S. Thompson said, “Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing?” It is even truer with writing. If you want someone to react a certain way to what you are sharing with the world in your book, you have to get their blood racing.

Connected to the motivation and the story behind the story is the ability of a storyteller to stir up an emotional response to your story. It’s obvious that you want to draw an emotional response from a reader when writing fiction, but why should that type of response be limited to novels? Storytellers are familiar with and expert at utilizing various literary devices to elicit an emotional response.

3. Storytellers Know How To Keep Your Audience Interested

Have you ever read a novel that keeps you up all night turning from one page to the next simply because you have to know what happens next? Have you had the same experience with a book on planning for your retirement? Probably not.

By stirring up an emotional response, storytellers hook your audience (readers) interested in your topic. Within the storyteller’s toolbox are a number of ways to avoid the dullness that your readers typically experience when reading non-fiction books. Keeping your readers engaged from beginning to end is something that you definitely want to accomplish.

4. Storytellers Write With A Deeper Purpose In Mind

We’ve all read or heard of the stories of Aesop, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. They were consummate storytellers that have survived down through the centuries. Why? Because the stories they told had a deeper purpose behind them.

A storyteller can help draw out the deeper purpose in your story so that it leaves a lasting impression. Besides stirring up your readers’ passion and keeping them engaged in your story, a storyteller works at drawing your readers to a specific goal or purpose.

5. All Storytellers Are Writers, but Not All Writers Are Storytellers

When you watch fireworks on Independence Day, New Years Eve or during some other celebration where they are used, which ones leave the lasting impression? They’re all fireworks, right? Yet, not all of them leave a lasting impression when you walk away.

Just so, writers do an adequate job of communicating the content of a book or article to their readers. There command of the written word and its use is what sets them apart from those who are not quite as adept at writing. Storytellers are artists who paint with words and create mental pictures in the minds of your readers. By crafting your story in a unique way that envelops all of your passion, you will leave a lasting impression upon those who have read it.


If you are considering writing a book to promote your brand, to communicate some new discovery you’ve made, to record your biography for posterity or have an idea for the next great bestselling thriller, but don’t have the expertise, time or patience to get done, why not hire a storyteller. By doing so, you can insure that your book will be read rather than be stuffed in a file drawer or placed on a bookshelf to gather dust. Put the passion and purpose of your story into a colorfully crafted work of art that will leave a lasting impression by hiring a storyteller to help tell your story.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Is Ghostwriting Ethical? Dispelling Your Misunderstandings

You, just like most people, probably hesitate when it comes to using a ghostwriter to help you get the story in your head into a format that can be shared with your clients, potential clients or the wide world. There is some lingering doubt as to the ethics of using a ghostwriter, after all, your book, your article and your web site content should be your own words, right? Let’s review some common reasons why you might need a ghostwriter and dispel some of the misunderstandings you might have about it.

I Don’t Have Time to Write a Book

I used to work in the corporate world too and I work independently now. Believe me; I know what time constraints are. I’ve been a writer for almost 40 years, but I didn’t write my first book until I wrote one for a client 6 years ago. In 40 years, I had more than a dozen books started, but never finished. If someone who loves to write, and knows how, doesn’t have enough time to write a book, then why should you expect you to write a book?

There’s a simple phrase I like to use, “Starting a book doesn’t make you a writer, finishing a book makes you a writer.”

Let me ask a simple question. Do you have time to do your taxes? Many people don’t, so what do they do? They hire an accountant to do their taxes. The accountant takes all of the receipts and documents that are given to him or her and does what he or she does best, freeing up their clients to do what they need to do instead of laboring over doing their taxes.

Ghostwriters are the accountants of the literary world. 

As a ghostwriter, I take your receipts (ideas) and prepare them into a return (book), freeing you up to do what you need to do instead of laboring over writing a book. Is that any more unethical than what an accountant does?

I Don’t Know How to Write a Book

Most people don’t know how to write a contract either. There are technical skills, knowledge, understanding and tricks of the trade that the average person doesn’t understand about the law. Your ignorance or lack of skill in legal matters gets you into all sorts of trouble if you make certain contractual agreements without the technical skill to do so. What do you do?

Because you need professional help with something for which you lack skill, you hire an attorney. Do you consider that unethical?

 Who Owns Your Ideas?

That question probably caught you off-guard. It might take an example to help you understand why I put it in this post. Let’s suppose corporation Skimpy Pants needs a new design for their new line of capri pants. What do they do? They go to Jenny in the design department and tell her to come up with a new design. Jenny creates the new design, pitches to the owners of Skimpy Pants and the new design becomes Skimpy Pants Capris.

The Skimpy Pants Capris are not Jenny’s Capris, nor are they Skimpy Pants Capris by Jenny, Skimpy Pants Capris with Jenny, Skimpy Pants Capris As Ordered To Be Designed By Jenny. Jenny gets paid to do a job, design capri pants, and the company does the marketing, receives the credit for designing the greatest capri pants in the world, and they reap the profits from what they hired Jenny to do. Is that unethical? Not really, because Jenny knows that she’s trading her skill for a salary.

When you hire a ghostwriter, the idea is yours and remains yours. All you do, in essence, is hire someone to provide you with a product that you need, but don’t have the time or skill to produce for yourself. The idea is yours, you market it as yours, you receive the credit for writing the bestseller and you reap the profits.

Ghostwriting is no more unethical than what corporations do every day. I work under a non-disclosure agreement with a work for hire contract that is absolutely no different than what corporations expect from their creative employees.


Ghostwriting is no different than hiring an accountant or attorney to do the things that you do not have the time or skill to do. Ghostwriting your book is no more unethical than having an accountant do your tax return or an attorney write your business contract. Most ghostwriters do what they do because they love to write and they have the necessary skills to do so, they trade their talent for cash, just like everyone else, and they don’t worry over getting credit for what they did. If your view of ghostwriting was what was keeping you from finishing your book, there is no reason for you to continue to wait. Contact me today and let me tell your story.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Capturing the Elusive Story Idea

“How can you possibly come up with another idea?” my mother in law asked.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged.

“What will you do if you ever run out of ideas? What will you do when your mind runs out of stories?” she pressed.

“I hope I never do.” The idea of not being able to come up with a new idea or a new story jarred me. What would I do? I’d been counting on my ability to come up with ideas and tell stories to make my living. Surely the day would never come when I would run out of ideas.

There was no way that I could tell her that running out of ideas scared me, but I couldn’t tell her that the man who her daughter was depending upon to pay the rent, the bills, put clothes on her back and put food on the table might, someday, run out of stories. So, I answered her the best way I could. “I don’t think I ever will.”

“How do you know that one day they won’t just stop?” She wasn’t nagging. It was more of a fascination with the fact that I’ve written so many stories and hadn’t ran out.

“I’m kind of crazy up here,” I laughed, tapping my temple with my index finger.

My mother in law stopped grilling me, because another subject scurried by and snatched it up, but she’d already rattled me so much that I couldn’t let go of the original question. “How can you possibly come up with another idea?”

“When ‘dead head’ strikes, panic quickly follows and a downward spiral begins.”

If you’re a veteran writer, you are already well acquainted with “dead head.” You get up in the morning, put the coffee on, shuffle over to your computer to turn it on, go back to the coffee pot and pour a cup, and then sit down in front of your computer with absolutely nothing in your brain. You have a deadline to meet and you have to come up with an idea. When “dead head” strikes, panic quickly follows and a downward spiral begins. You have to get off of that spiral, because it will lead you straight into the hell of writer’s block. As a storyteller, you can’t afford to be there.

“In essence, writer’s block is a form of depression.”

I don’t want to get into a detailed discussion of writers block, but I will throw in a pointer before moving on, just in case you picked up this book in the hope of fighting your way free of its hell. In essence, writer’s block is a form of depression. The only way to “really” defeat depression, without medication, is to get your ass up and go do something. The truth is harsh sometimes. Don’t fight it and don’t procrastinate, but do something. Being without an idea is like sitting in a canoe in your back yard. Follow that analogy all of the way through. You have to take your canoe to a place where there is water and you have to get into it and paddle. How? Keep reading.

“Really, I think it is our desire to be storytellers that draws stories to us.”

In some cases, we storytellers are a little crazy up there. (You can tap your temple with your index finger along with me.) I don’t know if we hear muses or if we hear voices of another kind. Or what collections of psychoses are at play, which make us do what we do. Really, I think it is our desire to be storytellers that draws stories to us. I don’t want to get into a discussion about cosmic energy and that sort of thing. I don’t believe that there is some great storytelling energy out there in the great ethereal beyond which feeds stories to storytellers by some sort of magic. I think it is our keen awareness of the world around us which supplies us with stories.

“The trick to drawing stories to us is to constantly feed our artistic side.”

Things that we do on a daily basis put ideas into our head. We capture those ideas in moments when we are particularly open to them, and from them, we begin to form a story. The trick to drawing stories to us is to constantly feed our artistic side. We storytellers are a crazy amalgamation of artist and engineer. We use both sides of our brains to perform our art. Storytellers must constantly feed the artistic side. How you feed your inner artiste will determine how easily stories are drawn to you.

Note: This is an excerpt from Planning a Tale to Tell, the first volume in The Storyteller’s Craft instructional series. Coming Soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Heart Attack Changed My Life

It came from out of nowhere.

I had none of the classic warning signs and symptoms.
My BP was in the healthy range.
My cholesterol was in the healthy range.
My stress level was not going off the charts.
But I was fading, fading like a nag trailing the field of horses.

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Monday, July 4, 2016

Explore My Professional Ghostwriting Service

There’s always a story behind every story, whether it is a novel or a book on how to save for your retirement. It is the understanding of that story and the motivation behind the words that are presented for the world to see, which separates me from the rest.When a person sets out to write a book, they do it because they want to communicate a part of who they are with others.

Perhaps they have a desire to help others or wish to advance technology or knowledge in their area of expertise. A book might allow them to advance their own career or to make others knowledgeable about a person or company’s particular brand. Books can launch speakers into a whole new level, as well as educators and CEOs. They also might communicate a deeper meaning in life or a discovery of some profound truth.

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