Archive for July, 2013

Why isn’t your website producing results?

You’re good at what you do. You thought you wrote a good website. Or someone wrote one for you.
Your SEO person says people are seeing it online, reading it.
But the phone’s not ringing. People don’t mention it much, if at all. It makes you look adrift, uninformed, kind of embarrassed. And eventually, you’ll have to kill that dying website.
If people are reading your site and not buying what you’re selling, there’s a reason: Your copy isn’t good enough.
I can show you why and where things went wrong, and I can fix the problem, quickly and effectively, without talking like a tech guy.
Better, smarter, targeted sites draw customers. I know, because I’ve been writing for 30-plus years — websites, advertising, journalism, public relations, Twitter, books and blogs.
Lousy sites die miserable, slow, expensive deaths. Why stick with one that’s losing you money every second?
For as little as $125, I will quickly rewrite the existing copy on your site, incorporate new material and tell the story of your business in an effective, productive way that lives and breathes and sells.
So you can rest easy while your ad does what it’s supposed to. Make some money.
Call me, Mark O’Brien (850)982-8585 or email

Writing project in trouble? Call me, The Fireman

Call me The Fireman.

Every good baseball team has a “fireman,” a relief pitcher who arrives in the late innings to shut down the opposition, get his team out of trouble and ensure victory for the good guys. Whether it’s his split-finger fastball, a curve, a slider or another pitch in his repertoire, he gets his team out of trouble and helps them win.

I’m a fireman for ad agencies, websites and other organizations that need a writer for a project that may be late or messed up or in need of a new approach.

They know they can call me on short notice and I will revive their copy, save the project and lead them to a victory that will bring the fans to their feet. I’ve got remarkable speed on the keyboard and a great mix of pitches, in addition to years of experience in writing copy that will put you in first place with your clients.

If you need a smart, talented writer to get a win for your team, please contact me,


Best. $3. Concert. Ever

When I moved South in 1976, I was full of visions of honkytonks and country music, stuff that intrigued me so much as a young man that I left my New England home.

Over the years, as the nation has become homogenized and look-alike, sound-alike, those old-style Southern adventures have become harder to find.

But I found a slice of great joyous life Saturday night, and things don’t get much better.

A full white moon poked its light through the trees while the Modern Eldorados played outdoors, ripping and roaring through Johnny Cash, Chris Izaak, George Strait, Ry Cooder, Hank Williams and a whole lot more.

The best dancer was an old guy who wore a cowboy hat, wife-beater T-shirt, cut-off shorts and cowboy boots. Oh, and he briefly filled in for the band’s drummer because he really does know music.

It was at a place called the Fugly Worm Pub, and you can buy a Fugly Worm Pub T-shirt to prove that’s the name.

This is on Muscogee Road in Cantonment. Not the New Cantonment of high-dollar subdivisions and supersized SUVs, but the Old Cantonment, a place with chain-smokers and dinged-up vehicles, where the only wine sold is Sutter Home or some such unpretentious stuff.

The Worm is a narrow bar/restaurant, with a pool table off to the side. Inside the front door, the man says, “Three dollars. Got to help pay for the band.”

Then you walk through the bar and go out the back door, where a big grassy yard runs downhill, people far outnumber the folding chairs, and an adequate stage awaits the band.

All in all, it was a much more authentic country setting than Seville Quarter and other trendy spots where the Eldorados usually play.

Here are two more reasons why I admire the Eldorados and feel a lot of local musicians could learn from them: The band starts on time — yes, people in the audience have lives, too — and the group played two hours and 15 minutes straight for the first set. No narcissistic chitchat, no political B.S., no preening for pals in the crowd.

Just straight-ahead, mostly uptempo music with a strong country tilt and exciting rearrangements of stuff you and maybe your parents grew up listening to. Lead singer Gretsch Lyles has a strong, clear voice with a lean body and clean face that ladies like, and he throws some showmanship into the act as the group runs through Elvis Presley, Cpnway Twitty, Randy Travis, Willie Nelson and just about anyone else you can think of.

But the best parts for me were the three guitars making war and making love, rich country lyrics, and the realization that the best of the Old South still lives.

(written in August 2011)

‘The Heat’ works with its brilliant mix of old and new material

Sometimes a movie is better than the sum of its parts, no pun intended.

Take “The Heat,” starring Sandra Bullock as an uptight FBI agent and Melissa McCarthy as a rogue Boston police officer.

Many critics rightly point out the weaknesses in the movie — the stereotyping of Boston shanty Irish, the easy jokes, lines that fall flat (the guy who said Bullock was the first woman over 40 who excited him),* and physical stuff that’s been done a dozen, even a hundred, times in similar movies starring men.

But the movie made me laugh. Not just chuckle here, smile there. No, I laughed out loud, repeatedly, because the movie was a hoot.

The burly McCarthy shimmies her way through car windows because she doesn’t have enough space to open her car door. She and Bullock get jammed going into a door because neither wants the other to go first. How often did the Three Stooges do that? Still, they made it funny.

Bullock revealed as a Spanx-wearing lady. Dumb asides, like McCarthy asking if Bullock’s husband was “a hearing man.” McCarthy’s willfully dumb relatives asking Bullock if she’s a man or a woman, and how does she get such a close shave.

For writers, “The Heat” shows that writing doesn’t have to be 100 percent original to work. Take what you have and shape it in your own way to tell your story, and if it’s done well, the audience will follow


*Maybe because the audience was saying, “Sandra Bullock over 40? No way!”  I had to go home and look it up: America’s girl next door is 48! But she doesn’t look it.


It’s Florida, it’s summer, quit complaining