Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Pomegranates are a messy business.

Okay, I'm certifiably nuts. Why would an O.C. woman with a yard the size of a postage stamp be planting a garden and harvesting persimmons, oranges, lemons, figs, and pomegranates? By far, pomegranates are the most trouble unless you are willing to overlook the hard labor for a divine taste of pomegranate jelly, syrup,  liqueur, or gelato.

Following is a technical writer's solution to extracting the juice from pomegranates. A word of caution--don't plan on doing this in your kitchen. Do it in the back yard, on a patio or in a garage. Use a heavy duty extractor. True, you can shell out the pomegranates by hand and put them through a food mill, but it will take you FOREVER. And you will need a fifth of scotch to get through the ordeal. (I tried that once - Chivas Regal)

Caution: Pomegranate juice stains clothes, hands, anything it comes in contact with.

What you need before you get started:
  • A couple of pitchers
  • Large, capped jars for the juice
  • A fine sieve
  • A bag for straining jelly (you can find them in stores that carry canning supplies)
  • A sharp knife and cutting board
  • Paper towels, newspaper
  • A container for catching the extracted juice
  • A heavy duty extractor such as Breville
  • Old clothes you don't care about getting stained
  • Rubber gloves
  1. Pick the pomegranates without falling off the ladder. If you didn't prune your tree back last fall, you will be inundated with pomegranates. They're pretty, but...
  2. Scrub the suckers with soapy water. All those birds hanging out in your tree may have left some deposits on the fruit.
  3. Set up a table and cover it with newspaper.
  4. Set out your juice extractor and container to catch the juice.
  5. Place your fruit in buckets or boxes that are within easy reach.
  6. Place a pomegranate on the cutting board and trim off the flower end so that it's flat.
  7. Cut the pomegranate in half and place one half in the extractor. Catch that juice! Just keep going. One pomegranate after another. As your juice container fills, place the sieve over the top of one of the pitchers and strain the juice into the pitcher. 
  8.  When the pitcher is full, pour the juice through a jelly straining bag into the second pitcher.
  9. Fill your juice bottle. You will notice after it has set a while, that a fine, cloudy sediment will settle to the bottom. If you are making jelly and liqueur, you want to avoid using this portion in order to have a clear, sparkling finished product.
  10. Refrigerate the juice and drink it as is (depends on the kind of pomegranate--some are sweeter than others) or use the juice in your favorite jelly recipe. Jelly can be processed in a hot water bath on your grill--another way to avoid the mess in your kitchen and the heat. Also see my recipe for pomegranate gelato. It's easy and amazing.


  1. You probably know this, but there is a Pomegranate Council, located in Sonoma, CA?

    Here is a link to their Web site:

    They even have a Japanese site:

    When I was little, a neighbor had a huge pomegranate tree. They lived on the other side of the street, and I could see the tree from the alley. My friend and I would boost each other up so we could pick the fruit from the tree. Yum.

  2. Didn't know about the Pomegranate Council. Pomegranates have become more popular (and profitable) since their anti-oxidant qualities have been advertised.

    Good visual!