Mexico 1968

For 4 days in Mexico, I stared at a ceiling fan spinning lazily. After I fell in love, my mother arrived to check it out. Happiness with Mexican Catholics was not acceptable.

When Your #MeToo Abuser is Dead (Part 2)

How do you cope when your #MeToo assailant is dead?

When Your #MeToo Abuser is Dead (Part I)

In slow slurred speech, my boss shocked me by saying, "You're so desirable." Drunks shouldn't use words with "s"s, I thought.

Daddy Dearest: RIP

Writing about my father, I’m surprised how it takes me back and reawakens a deep sense of loss that is no longer part of my daily consciousness.

Is It Better to Write by Hand or Computer?

Studies suggest that there are brain-friendly benefits of writing by hand that you can’t get from typing.

Why "Smell" Takes us to Another Time and Place

Smell bypasses thought, jumping from the cerebral cortex straight to the limbic system. It can snap us to another time and place, and excavate memories and emotions long forgotten.

Self-Publish or Use a Traditional Publisher?

Should you self-publish your book or go with a commercial publisher? Explore the pros and cons of going either route with someone who's been there.

Finding Your Niche

I was so busy being a Renaissance Woman that I forgot to find my niche. Finally in my fifties I found my passion and my gifts — my niche.

Is Greatness Communicable?

It wasn’t until I sat near Marcello Mastroianni in Rome that my knees turned to water. I hadn't been phased by Elvis or Dustin Hoffman. What was happening to me now?

When is it Okay to "Lie"?

The answer may surprise you. Should you stick to facts when writing memoir or merge events and rename characters to protect their privacy?

Beating Obsession: Write to Bring Yourself Present

When writing I am fully present. If I'm worried about something, it gets out of my head, onto the page. Often I write for just 10 minutes, but it clears the flotsam. I can focus.

What's the Next Sriracha?

"What's the next Sriracha?" asks chef Michael Vaughn (SF Hilton), regarding trends in green hotels and cookery. Dept stores are dying. But grocery stores are delivering. Literally.

Thoughts on Memoir Writing from Mary Karr

Whether you're writing about your life for your family or a wider audience, these tips from memoir author Mary Karr can help you shape your story.

Commitment Phobic

I’ve chosen something for 2017 that I really think I can do. No more resolutions to lose ten pounds, get married, have children. Now I’m committing to something within my control.

Learning Italian Naked

Lying on the table naked, I learned Italian, stroke by stroke.

Choosing the Right Word

To choose the right word when writing, let it tumble around in your mind. Are the nuances right? Is there a better way to say it? A way it hasn't been said before?

The Thrill of the Hunt

Writing a travel essay, make sure you include sensory details that help the reader share your experience. Here is an example of a travel essay about Italy.

Travel Writing

Writing a travel essay, use the same elements as in a personal essay. Here they are.

Ayurveda Made Simple

The genius of the Chopra Center is that it makes the ancient healing system of Ayurveda accessible.

Using Art as Writing Prompts

If you use a Warhol painting as a prompt, you might want to write about your 15 minutes of fame or what life would be like if you or one of your characters suddenly became famous.

Seeking Transformation

Twenty years earlier, I had visited the small, quiet Chopra Center in La Jolla. Now the Center is at La Costa. Could I find tranquility and transformation at this 400-acre resort?

A Leap of Faith

When I was young — free and springy and adventuresome — it didn’t seem like to leap of faith to move across the country. I moved to San Francisco and my adventure began.

How to Be a Successful Writer

Phrases you read can serve as writing prompts. Note metaphors and similes: “It reminded him of slicing a yam with a newly sharpened knife" and “Her oval face was smooth as an egg."


I was the queen of negativity. Then I started sending a friend three things a day I was grateful for. Amazingly, my attitude changed.

How to Be a Successful Writer

All writers love to read, right? Reading a lot is one of the secrets to becoming a successful writer. This article tells how I do it.

Beating Obsession: Tip #2

I wanted to take the “easy” classes, like Sumi watercolor painting and guided meditation, but forced myself to attend more active classes. I knew exercise could bust obsession.

Hitchhiking with my Mother

Wherever she went, my mother wanted to see it all — grab the brass ring before it was too late. From Mexico City to Rome, I stuck out my thumb to get her there.

Is Journalism Dead?

Is the future of journalism dead? An interesting point of view from Ed Wasserman, dean of the University of California School of Journalism.

Beating Obsession: Tip #1

I’m okay during the day, but when I awake at night, racked with thoughts of the unfairness of it all, I have a hard time controlling my thinking. So I got out of town. A manageable trip—just an hour and a half to San Jose. San Jose? Who would have thought I could have such a good time and forget about my worries?

Knowing Just Enough to Drive You Crazy

Legal argument can drive a person crazy. And the truth was that I didn’t care about every issue that came before me. I cared about civil rights and sex discrimination, but I didn’t care what the State of California did with Mare Island. I didn’t want to have to take a position on EVERYTHING.