Three new tango books—a novella, travel essays, and reportage on teaching tango in Africa.

The Serenity of Influence

As Molly read last night, I found that little compartment of my brain that is ever alert for messages from the muse taking in ideas for writing short stories. Her story read like European cinema, her style was so refined and well-crafted I felt I imbibed it like a cup of calming herbal tea. Harold Bloom, a crusty but respected literary critic might call this The Anxiety of Influence (a 1967 academic oeuvre). However, no one writes in a vacuum (oh, except for James Joyce, but that’s another story). I call it The Serenity of Influence.

Travel Writing Workshop

September 12, 2015 1–5pm • $95/person •  limited to 10 participants 1650 Jackson Street, San Francisco Instructor: Camille Cusumano, award-winning travel writer since the 1980s and former food & travel editor at VIA Magazine. REGISTER WITH PAYPAL BUTTON: “Travel writing is one of the oldest forms of literary endeavors.” Everybody travels today and many write […]

Protected: True North, Alaska Bachelor Auction

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

A Sultan in Palermo, Tariq Ali, review

Sultan in Palermo, A: A Novel by Tariq Ali My rating: 4 of 5 stars If you think Islam beats out Christianity for brutality, you will think again after reading this historically accurate novel by British-Pakistani historian/novelist Tariq Ali. It takes place around 1150 in Sicily during the period when the Normans had accomplished a […]

Furaha (Joy) Guest House, Nairobi, Kenya

Furaha Guest House in Gigiri, Nairobi is wonderful.

San Francisco Writers Conference 2014

Hey! I’m on a panel of memoir writers at the
2014 San Francisco Writers Conference, February 13–16.

Workshop: Memoir & Creative Non-Fiction, Inventing the Truth

“Tell the truth even if you have to make it up.” —Bazooka Joe Workshop: Memoir & Creative Non-Fiction Inventing the Truth HOW TO CRAFT GOOD STORY “I am led to the proposition that there is no fiction or nonfiction as we commonly understand the distinction; there is only narrative.”  —E. L. Doctorow Tuesday, January 14, […]

Writers Journey via Ox-herding drawings

1. Searching for the Ox – Sitting down on a Chair/Ox to find the Story. You & Story are separate. “Everything is shifting and unsteady.”Frisson of excitement and/or agitation.

2. Seeing the Traces – Aha! Moments. You spill some ink, symbols on a blank page. Flashes of insight. Startling! Scent of your own genius arises. Wow! It’s been there all along right under your nose.

Magnificent Seven Entry Points

1. The Story – which encompasses the “plot” – theme – thread, the focus, the well-honed narrative once you separate out the chaff or extraneous of the situations. The conflict or source of tension.
2. The Situation (precedes Story) – the background material supporting plot –from which you will choose what to put in, what to leave out on the cutting floor. The really raw material – most of the situation, but not all, gets digested, compacted, condensed, left aside. The situation holds the conflict, the adverse circumstances and events – but is not the story.

Skin, muscle, bone, how deep is your writing?

Skin—You have the story locked inside of you, like Michelangelo’s David was once locked in a block of Carrara marble. You envision it. You have not started to sculpt and whittle away. How many of us never venture beyond scratching the surface?
Muscle—You know the story. You have started to carve it out, to whittle, shape, and remove the obstacles of doubt and uncertainty. But doubt and uncertainty still block you. Your writing muscle tires. You walk away and think of starting over. How many come back and muscle through?
Bone—You have gone the distance, done the ant work, the trench work, pulled forth what you know is there, your magnificent work. Maybe you have entered the piece from various of the Seven Entry Points. It’s a work in progress, but it’s there, bared to the naked eye. You love it. Still, some doubt and uncertainty.
Marrow—You’ve cut through skin, muscle, and bone, through cartilage and ligament. You’ve bled interminably. You’ve gone beyond doubt and uncertainty. You’re drained, flushed of all—blood, sweat, tears, emotions.

Balance, the Business-Life Connection

As the number one son in a very traditional Sicilian American family, Jim experienced some of the best and some of the worst of my father’s quirky personality (to put it affectionately). Since Jim is 9 years my senior I actually learned some things about him and my family life before I was on the seen. My earliest memories of Jim begin when he was a Rock and Roll Star. He went on to become a Scientist in Corporate America, Silicon Valley Entrepreneur, Indie Film Producer, Holistic Hotelier in Prague—and now an author

Cannoli recipe

The Cannoli Kids asked that I tell you that the cannoli you buy in bakeries are made from a cornstarch-pudding base. They like those a lot. However, their Nonna Carmela (author of La Cucina di Carmela), considers this filling more sumptuous.

At Home in the World, Joyce Maynard

Joyce Maynard’s AT HOME IN THE WORLD, came out in 1998 and what I recall from the press that passed by my eyes back then was a “tell-all” by one of J.D. Salinger’s mistresses. Stop right here. Nothing could be more misleading.

The Cannoli Kids

the Last cannoli, a novel, a mouthwatering tale, now an e-book.

Confessions From a Moving Van review

Confessions From a Moving Van by Amy Neftzger My rating: 4 of 5 stars Amy Neftzger may have invented a new genre, “van-tasy.” Her collection of stories is tied together by the narrator, a van who/that is omniscient. His or her or its confession is the last story in the collection and cleverly ties together […]

Tom Wolfe, Patron Saint of creative non-fiction

An interviewer, Steve Winn, asked Tom Wolfe what did he find different about writing fiction vs. non-fiction, as Tom Wolfe, who began his career as a journalist, is a master of both. At first Wolfe said, there was little difference for him as a writer. Then he added, that as a writer of non-fiction, “you can’t pull punches,” meaning you have to be brutally honest.

The Last Cannoli – Second Helpings!

Here is the new cover for my upcoming e-Book release of THE LAST CANNOLI! Watch for it soon on e-Book distributors everywhere.

Creative Non-Fiction Workshops

January 15, 22 & February 5 – 6:45–8:45 p.m. SEE NEW TWO-FOR-ONE OFFER BELOW! Mechanics Institute Library Board Room, 4th floor 57 Post St. @ Montgomery San Francisco, CA – What Participants Say Info: 415-425-XXXX; $125 for all three sessions; $110 if you have participated in any of my workshops; drop-in to just one class: […]

Consider St. Lucy’s Solution

Back when a prayer and a song and a hymn and a story were one and the same and when Sicily was still known as Zizily, the Siciliani celebrated the harvests of the three branches of life—the grape, olive, and wheat. For the grape harvest they mixed warm blood of the lamb with the first vintage of the season. For the olive picking, a live serpent was entwined around a branch to guard against bad fruit. And for the wheat harvest, the peasants danced the tarantella wearing blindfolds in honor of the great Santa Lucia. One of their favorite feast days was for Santa Lucia a woman with beauty of classic proportions. Her eyes were so beautiful they lit up the night when there was no moon.