Category Archives: The Writing Life

Rewrite complete

Thanks to excellent coaching from staff and agents at the San Francisco Write to Market Conference (backed up by my own independent research) I’ve rewritten and retitled the novel formerly known as Amedeo.  It’s now just half as long, at about 85,000 words, and has a new name:  In the Mouth of the Wolf.  I’m […]

In the Mouth of the Wolf vs Amedeo

I’ve settled on a new title for the novel formerly known as “Amedeo.”  Too many readers leapt from “Amedeo” to “Amadeus” and thought of Mozart.  The new title comes from the use in the opening scene of an old Italian wolf hunter’s good luck wish:  In bocca al lupo —  crepi il lupo.  Roughly translated:  […]

Fatto. Done. On with number two!

The Last Demitasse

Why is a 19th century demitasse important? The morning after he destroys all his family’s porcelain plateware, in a rage over going bankrupt because of his gambling, Giovanni stumbles into the kitchen for an espresso made by his daughter Anna, 10. His sons Umberto and Amedeo look on as Giovanni realizes he is drinking from […]

What’s on your nightstand?

 What book(s) sit on your nightstand?  I’ve got a pile of six best sellers right now:  Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” Gabriele D’Annunzio’s “Pleasure,” Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient,” Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives, Vol 1.”  On my Kindle, I recently finished Andy Weir’s first novel “The Martian” and Daniel Brown’s nonfiction book, “The Boys in the Boat.” […]

Beautiful Ruins and The March

 I’ve been sick for the past three weeks and, after the worst few days, when I could barely manage bare necessities, I was able to read.  Four books went through my hands:  “Beautiful Ruins,” by Jess Walter; “The March,” by E.L. Doctorow; “Unbroken,” by Lauren Hillenbrand; and “The Warmth of Other Suns,” by Isabel Wilkerson. […]

Ann Patchett and Independent Book Stores

Saw Ann Patchett at Seattle’s Town Hall last night, interviewed by Nancy Pearl. I’ve loved her books “Bel Canto” and “Run,” and now I am hugely impressed by her. Smart, funny, doesn’t take herself too seriously, attributes much of her commercial success to luck. Core advice: Write constantly; have a message that comes from a […]

Why do we teach Catcher in the Rye in high school?

As an exercise in craft development, I re-read J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” last week and came away with this assessment:

Beware of History

For big chunks of the past three days, I’ve been working on a critique of a book-length manuscript for Will Rose, a member of my writing group.  It’s been fascinating and instructive to dive way deeper into a book than a typical reading for entertainment.  “Why?” is the best question.  Why did the author choose […]


  Celebrating the completion of the manuscript for “Amedeo.”  Many thanks again to all the fellow writers, friends and family who have supported me and given me helpful feedback throughout this process.  I couldn’t have done it without you.  Next week, I’ll go back to researching novel number two, “Lidija,” and start the search for […]