June 22, 2022

Write It! How to Get Started is moving to Substack

 Hi, all friends and followers,

Please know how much I appreciate followers to my website. I have news to share with you. 

Some of you may remember that I began to give away free writing classes here with this logo/image: 

I’ve decided to move this project over to Substack.com  —and more stuff will continue to appear here as well.

Free lessons will soon be appearing on Substack.com with some changes that I hope you’ll check out. Super easy: FREE!

To start, I posted two fun essays and am hoping to build a following there. Substack is FREE—though some folks do use a whatchamacallit “Paywall” to continue. I’m considering that, but have not done so—well, not yet anyway.

The links to essays on Substack follow; just click below and you’ll be taken to Substack.com—hope you’ll subscribe (super easy—and as I said FREE) take a look, comment, easy and friendly. I reply to comments and any questions you might have.

“Love and the Butterfly Effect”    

"Internet Dating, Finding Love and Probability Theory"

If you want to work one-on-one with me, I’m still offering that option: 

For a small fee, via Zoom, an Eight-"session"-course—or more if you want them (each session includes 11 parts) with slides and more experiments than in the chapters I am giving away for free.

Email me at


for details on how I work and we'll set up lessons.

July 26, 2021

Come on! Follow me!

 Hey, Subscribers, Friends, 

If you already follow me, you got a notice about this change (at least I hope you did!)  

So here's the techy story: Feedburner is shutting down. So, I have switched to Follow.it

If you don't follow me, here's why you may want to do just that!

Image by Elien Smid from Pixabay 

I write a column on the arts—click that bird in the upper right corner (after the Follow me button) to get right to all my essays on FactsandArts. You can even subscribe to my posts (easy, peasy) OR just read what you fancy when you click on the bird!

And I teach Creative Writing. Some free chapters follow and here is a clip:

I can help you one-on-one for a small fee, via Zoom, an Eight-"session"-course (each session includes 11 parts) with slides and more experiments than in these chapters I am giving away for free.  

Email me at 


for details on how I work: Be sure to tell me how you found me and we'll set up lessons.

I taught variations of this course at George Washington University, in the undergraduate and graduate MFA/Ph.D. creative writing program at the University of Missouri and at the Smithsonian's Campus-on-the-Mall. 

For more about me, Click Here !

So, Why did I switch to:  Follow.it for my website?  It's cool and Feedburner shut its doors. And you can choose to do more than follow me: 

All kinds of newspapers use this tool. So check it out at their website: Follow.it's main website 

Be sure to write me and you may comment here if you use Chrome or any browser other than Safari (I guess Google and Apple don't jive with each other; who knows?) In any case, I love comments and am alway glad to hear from you ... .

July 28, 2019

Benjamin Hammerschlag in my heart

Ben Hammerschlag, creator, owner and CEO of Epicurean Wines, would have been 48 years old today, July 28. In his memory, I read to express my love and to place a plaque on the sculpture by artist and his dear friend Monserrat Daubón. I placed The Sower on his vineyard Imprimata in McClaren Vale, South Australia after his death.

The Sower

I wrote and recorded words from my heart for the placement of the plaque on his birthday.

Click the red arrow on "For the Plaque on The Sower" below to hear me read what I wrote. To the right here is The Sower in Monserrat Daubón's studio. Then click the red arrow on the sunset he photographed from his home on the vineyard he found, sowed, created. I haltingly play the hymn on my flute in his memory.

 Below that I show you the apex of Ben's vineyard where he sat in the evening to watch the sunset over the sea that he loved—and where I placed The Sower facing him on that bench where he still sits in my memory.

Below is a photo of the bench and the artistic arc over it that he designed.
It is here on that apex that I held —click the link ↠↠ a memorial you may read and hear and where you may see The Sower facing that bench where he sat and envisioned.

As the second anniversary of my son's death on November 4, 2017 approaches, I have the gift of a video he did in 2008, describing his vision for the elegant wines he made and imported from Australia. Here he is, his bench is below:
Apex of Imprimata, Ben's vineyard

Photo by Ben Hammerschlag

 With love, hope and light,

March 09, 2018

Benjamin Hammerschlag (1971-2017) Memorial at Imprimata

Water color by Mary Tabor
     McLaren Vale, where my son Ben lived on his vineyard: I held a memorial to honor his life and work. His friends and colleagues met on the apex of his vineyard Imprimata.


Steve Pannell,
Pannelle Wines logo
wine maker and friend, spoke first. He began with these words: "This is hard."

Melissa Edwards, long time friend, spoke next (The wind blew ...):

Corinna Wright, friend, winemaker and director at Oliver's Taranga Vineyards, tells a story:

Jock Harvey, soulful friend, reads: Note: Don't click on the photo below that I posted of Ben Glaetzer, Ben's friend and long-time comrade, but move directly to the next video where his soulmate Jock Harvey speaks for himself and for Ben Glaetzer, who did not attend the memorial:
Ben Glaetzer

James Lindner, who sent The Freedom, wrote

and so did Mark McCarthy, who was indeed present:

Ben Riggs of Mr. Riggs talks of a hard time for Ben (and the wind keeps blowing):
Mr. Riggs vineyard

I read Roger Milner's warm tribute (while the wind blows and concerns about carpet baggers):

Julie, love of Ben's friend David, tells a memorable story:

Tony Parkinson of the marvelous Penny's Hill
with how Ben began (and the lovable Zar Brooks weighs in; watch for it!):
Skeleton Key Shiraz

Del talks love and cars:

Imprimata, photo by Del

Ben, recently, in, of course, a used Porsche

I close:

Zar Brooks, friend and winemaker, ever-present, ever-loving.

An excerpt from his talk:

"Presumption aside, I know I speak with many voices indeed – your Benjamin was also our Benjamin. We would do anything to bring him back.

"Perhaps even more incredulous than that wish, is to note how extraordinary it came to pass that you, Mary, and Ben's Dad and family raised him to become such an extraordinary person. Parenting Ben to become what he became – well you should be profoundly proud. Having reread Ben's dog-eared copy of The Woman Who Never Cooked, it is patently clear the proverbial pomegranate did not fall far from your family’s tree.

"His mates and Australian families would probably not want me to point out that the only singular smile that might be raised in this most awful of times is perhaps this: Our Ben would have, cursing in bold type and bloody Hammer-ness truly hated, really f-ing hated if he came across someone speaking so well of your Ben. Especially revealing a little of our beautiful and bad Ben with you."

The Sower
sculpture by artist and dear friend
Monserrat Daubón

Photo by Jock Harvey


Sunset at Imprimata by Benjamin Hammerschlag

November 09, 2017

Benjamin Hammerschlag, 1971 to 2017: a tribute to my son

Benjamin George, this sensitive, intuitive child became the inventive man who created Epicurean Wines, its CEO, winemaker and importer whose wines are sold and cherished all over the world. His continent, Australia, he chose for a third grade project at the Barrie Day School: He chose his future early for that is where his vineyard Imprimata stands today and produces remarkable wines: Robert Parker in 2005 named him wine personality of the year and honored his wines until the day Parker retired. Here’s what he said, “For a young man (early thirties), Hammerschlag has put together a remarkable portfolio of artisinal/hand-crafted Australian wines, primarily from the Barossa and McLaren Vale. He has a degree of enthusiasm, talent, and above all, wisdom, that belies his youthful age. We should all be thankful for the diverse group of wines that are now available in the United States because of the work of Ben Hammerschlag.”  Food and Wine Magazine named him best under 35 of wine makers and chefs and Jay MacInerney highlighted his work in A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine in 2006 and again in The Juice: Venous Veritas in 2012 and his article solely about Ben for House and Garden magazine and in his Wall Street Journal wine column —and they became friends. He would send MacInerney Old Bastard, yep that’s the name of this biggy, as a gift, a wine made by Reid Bosward of Kaesler winery, a brilliant winemaker who earned recognition as one of the Wine Advocate’s personalities of the year. He brought Bosward’s and Ben Glaetzer’s Amon Ra and many other Australian winemakers whose wines knew only that continent from Ben’s early grade school project until he visited Australia after working some five years in the wine department of the Bellingham Grocery store where the butcher got his growing profits, but where he was named "The Wine King of Seattle"—and then off he went to Oz to discover and impress winemakers and then to import, starting with only one shipping container of wine that he managed to get Robert Parker to taste. Perhaps his most famous wine that he developed and blended with the gift of his palate is Woop Woop that The New York Times named best taste and best value and that still sells for around 14 bucks and drinks like a 40-dollar fine Shiraz. And most recently, his own vineyards produce the marvelous Imprimata Grenache and Imprimata Proprietary Red and the Flegenheimer Bros that honors his great-great grandfather on his father’s side who, we learned long after Ben had forged his way, had married a young girl by the name of Flegenheimer and joined her family’s business: The Flegenheimers were New York Wine Merchants and that casts back to Ben’s years at the Pleasant Peasant Restaurant as he named one in this collection: Paisant Red. 

My memory casts me back to the young boy who in 4th grade at Garrett park elementary school won the creative writing contest with “Cuddles the Clever Chipmunk” the same year his sister’s story “My Hippopotamus” won for the kindergarten/second grade category. They were together writing plays long before that: I’ll never forget “There’s a fly in my soup.”  At age 13 Ben put on his shirt and tie and got himself a job cleaning toilets at Jerry’s Sub Shop but soon he was cooking at the grill. From there he went to the Pleasant Peasant Restaurant where he was in charge of the dessert bar in Washington’s tony Friendship Heights. I began referring to him as the Soviet Union, not because he was a communist—far from it but because he had a five-year plan: The man with the plan.

By age 15 he had enough money in the bank to buy a used Porsche that he and Del researched until at age 16 he could drive it home. Rumors at Bethesda Chevy Chase HS were drug dealer when in fact he was the man with the plan. His love of cars and high-speed driving go with him in this passing.

The drive and invention that underlie this tale landed him in Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration where he’s been invited back to talk to students about his journey and theirs as potential inventors of a future unknown and to be discovered. Invention was the name of his game. And he flourished as a businessman and farmer, who one year saved his crop and one female winemaker’s crop while other male winemakers thought, What does this American city boy know about soil samples? Ignored his advice and lost their crop that year. Del’s father, a successful Iowa farmer never stopped telling that story.

But let us remember that the world of business doesn’t cherish the sensitive heart. And that the sensitivity that marked his genius marked his pain. The cutthroat armor he had to don in that world took its toll on that vulnerable heart that I hold in my heart. Look at his eyes in this photo that I brought today and you will see what I mean. I salute you today, my love, for the honor and loyalty to all who worked with or for you and the hope you carried like a banner that waves and that shall live on. Though we mourn today that your life is cut short, we shall not forget what you forged with open and vulnerable heart.

Here I pause for his sister Sarah Hammerschlag’s eulogy:

When Ben and I were children he had a butterfly net. Our neighborhood was under construction. Everywhere was mud and sheetrock and machinery but up the road was a field of milkweed and thistle and together we caught monarchs and swallowtails. We kept their beautiful bodies in cookie tins.

I followed him everywhere in those years. Everything he did I wanted to do. Everything he played I wanted to play.

He taught me the names of birds and how to kill ants with Windex.

In the afternoon when my mom was at work, we made steak sandwiches and played Monopoly. He always won because he put hotels on Park Place.

There were summers when we stayed up too late. In the quiet house long after midnight, we lay in bed together, watched his black and white TV and ate gummy bears.

He taught me to catch crabs with chicken necks. He loved clams so I loved clams. He loved chilis so I loved chilis, the hotter the better.

When we were older I watched from afar as he made his life like a master craftsman out of keen taste and exacting standards. Cultivating and choosing with a singularity of purpose that was his stamp on the world.

Even when he was mean, which often he was, his eyes were full of sadness and love and heartache.

Sometimes he didn’t call for months and then out of nowhere sent a mixtape so that I could learn to love Lucinda Williams, Neil Young, and A Tribe Called Quest.

When my daughter was just a baby, he played her the Jackson Five and Prince. Although the music was too loud, he held her tiny hands and they danced.

I came to see him just a few days ago. He showed me his beautiful kittens. We watched them climb and tumble. We took a walk behind the house, the path covered in wet yellow leaves the size of dinner plates. He asked to hold my hand when he went up and down the stairs. We drank ginger beer together and listened to Neil Young. He put his arms around me and I told him I loved him but I knew it was both too much and not nearly enough. Though we didn’t talk about it, I know we both remembered those summer days out in the fields beyond the house with his net.

In the end, my brother was a butterfly catcher. He went after beauty with his whole heart and sometimes with a hammer.

The Branch and the Butterfly by Zaara: Kittenchops.com

And I close:

AE Houseman in “To an Athlete Dying Young” opens with this stanza:

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

And so we do today, borne on the shoulders of those who love you, and we set you to rest to the last song we listened to together just before you passed, your favorite Neil Young’s “Change Your Mind” from his album Sleeping with Angels, and where you shall lie, my son.

August 09, 2015

Things about Wattpad when it began

designed by ZAARA

Why Wattpad? More on this question

Wattpad could have been a glimpse into the digital future. Now Wattpad is devoted to you’ll vampires and fan fiction—and is purposefully avoiding literary fiction. I was a great experience when I began, but here is why I left:

First Why I Left Wattpad--and I did so with this note to my 10.6k followers:

Dear followers, Readers, Friends, 

As I have said previously, Wattpad's mission is far from support for—even a small space—and, for lack of a better word, "literary" fiction, memoir or essay.

I remain grateful for my time here, but have now decided to take down all that I had previously posted.

With special thanks to Zoe DiNovi, who found me, supported me and made this spot in life and time a heartfelt and deeply creative place, I take my leave. Thank you, Zoe, dear. I wish you and all my previous readers the best. Stay well and shoot for the moon! 

I add this wisdom, not from my pen, but rather from the marvelous actor/playwright Sam Shepard after publication of his book of short stories entitled Great Dreams of Heaven  in an article by Mel Gussow in The New York Times:

Once free-form in his writing, he has become carefully disciplined. “It’s a strange thing about form,” he said. “When you’re younger, you tend to believe it doesn’t exist, or that you can ignore it or reinvent it. Slowly you begin to understand that there are certain essentials that have to be honored.” He added: “Horsemanship is the same way. You don’t just jump on a horse, spur him and hope for the best.”

I  hope for the best for all of you, my friends, my readers, my followers.

With profound sadness,

Mary L. Tabor

Here are just a few examples of friends worth visiting: 

@barry205 is a Brit who now lives in Qatar and spent many years in the military, Iraq and Afghanistan: He writes about his experiences as a male nurse, soldier and leader of his medical team in Afghanistan. His poetry soars, his prose bleeds on the page. Unforgettable writing.

I posted this comment on When You’re Wounded and Left on Afghanistan’s Plains: “The backstory here about your move up the ranks, your work as a nurse and your sense of being a parent to those younger than you when you at 35 reach this point in Afghanistan sets the stage here for what comes. Then you with no sentimentality you chronicle what you see. This, sir, is the art of writing. Voted big time.”

On Wattpad, I met Thomas Bonnick. He’s @5ifthproject on Wattpad, Thomas lives in Canada, was born in Jamaica and came up with the generous idea he entitled, click on 5Qi to see and read after you join Wattpad. Thomas asked writers of all ilk, the fantasy writers, the vampire worshippers, poets and others to tell why they write.

First: Here’s what Thomas says about himself—and yes, you will be charmed: “My journey started many years ago, far away from Canada where I now call home. Four and a half hours in the sky, over the open sea. Somewhere warm, friendly and colorful. A place where the change of seasons doesn't require a change of wardrobe, a place where flowers bloom and robins sing all year round. A place where our motto is: ‘Out of many, one people.’ I'm from the beautiful Island of Jamaica.”

He presented to me and many others FIVE interview questions (of course, 5ifth project is his moniker!) and each of us could add a sixth, bonus q.

I mentioned these other writers: discoveries you wouldn’t expect because Wattpad is just that: Not What You Expect. These were my high fives to writers who have inspired me with the risks they take on the page and for the fact that they shoot for the moon:

@AlanSkinner (don't know if he's still there; suspect NOT! raises the Young Adult novel to a level of literary writing, intrigue, and gives us his love of a female heroine. Don’t miss his articulate essays. They soar with savvy commentary on actors, the arts and more. Alan now writes a column for Click  ➾➾  Facts and ArtsHe’s so worth reading.

@grapher writes stunning poetry that feels as if she’s drawing with words.

@tamoja When she loved you, she read me straight through. Check out her Snippets: a gift in itself.

@Lisaner we've lost to illness, but she rocked with Rock Poetry that may still knock your socks off and she was a generous and dear woman.

I want you to consider this:

Here is what my was—and that hope got totally dissipated: Why a literary writer might have once been on Wattpad: 

The future is here and it’s digital. Think about the way you discover music today, songs you find on the Internet first and then buy the album. 

In those good old early days I won a Watty for my memoir (Re)Making LoveOf course I want readers to buy my published three books. But here was the hope when Wattpad was young and searching for the best: I’ve been in the literary world for the biggest and best part of my life, published stories in literary journals, won literary contests. On Wattpad in 2014, I flourished in a way I didn't think possible. I had readers, writers, community, feedback—it was constant, encouraging and often brilliantly insightful –and all this from folks I would never otherwise know.

I saw potential on Wattpad for both literacy and writing, serious writing that matters. Let’s talk for a minute about literacy and art: Think of a child paints a painting and you love it and hang it above your piano as I have. A child writes a poem and you save it and read it at their bat mitzvah or confirmation as I did. Literacy and art hold hands like children in a circle. They dance together. To think that Wattpad could have been the discovery spot literature is now a lost hope. To think they could have once searched for those risking their lives to write is now a lost hope. 

From birth to death. Art emerges on the Internet, but no longer on Wattpad. 

Invention comes only when the writer is willing to risk. When you find that on the page, you know it. You see it. I can help if you are already reading and studying literature. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a mentor/teacher who will tell you when you “hit” it but who won’t throw the invention out with the bath water.

That's why I continue to teach. To get my help, do this: I can help you one-on-one for a small fee, via Zoom, an Eight-"session"-course (each session includes 11 parts) with slides and lots of writing experiments.  

Email me at 


for details on how I work: Be sure to tell me how you found me and we'll set up lessons.

I taught variations of this course at George Washington University, in the undergraduate and graduate MFA/Ph.D. creative writing program at the University of Missouri and at the Smithsonian's Campus-on-the-Mall. 

Be sure to write me and you may comment here if you use Chrome or any browser other than Safari (I guess Google and Apple don't jive with each other; who knows?) In any case, I love comments and am alway glad to hear from you ... .

When I see that glimmer of invention in work, I want more than anything to help you go for it!

Here’s a self interview that tells you more about me: 

Q: Why would anyone want to do a self-interview? Isn’t that the height of naval gazing?

I got the idea from a cool site entitled The Nervous Breakdown. I think most writers—and I’m no exception—think they’re on the verge of one. So here goes.

Q. But you didn’t answer the question about naval gazing? Do you think you’re self-absorbed?

Writers are regularly accused of being selfish because they openly admit to being interested in their own thoughts—as if no one else has that so-called problem. The real self-absorption would be concern about others being interested in what I have to say. Why should you be interested in me or my writing? If I’m continually asking myself that question, that would count as self-absorption. I never ask myself that question.

Q. Okay, how about this one: Do you think self-revelation is part of the process of writing?

Any writer who denies it, lies. I agree with David Shields who argues in Reality Hunger and he actually says this one—in case you don’t know that book and you should, he quotes mercilessly without formal attribution: “So: no more master, no more masterpieces. What I want (instead of God the novelist) is self-portrait in a convex mirror.”

Q. Did you achieve that in your novel Who by Fire, the one you’ve NOT posted on Wattpad?

Hard to say. Achievement is a big word. But I would say this: The writer needs to be fearless to be worth reading. That means all subterfuge about who you are must come off when you write either fiction or memoir. What’s in this book is closer to the emotional truth of my own process of self-discovery than anything I could tell you in this interview.

Q. Give me an example.

I was in Whiting, Iowa, when the fire occurred, a controlled burn. It was a long, long time ago and when I saw it I knew I would write about it some day. I didn’t know why. So now I had the burn.

And then I found an article in the newspaper about a baby that had been found in an attic in a house on Veazey Street in DC and I saved it.

Now that I’ve read the novel aloud—I’m the narrator for the audible.com version that is my giveaway for the block party—I could see it anew by hearing myself read. It was as if I heard the novel for the first time. Here’s one of the things that happened:

I see my sister who lost a baby, a baby that died after 23 hours, bubbling up in the book. I didn’t know I was hitting that memory when I was writing the book. I was 16 when this happened and I saw the baby with her flash of black hair in the nursery. My face was pressed against the glass. How could that not have something to do with me? It did. It still does.

Q. So isn’t that navel gazing?

One of my biggest worries in the novel is that it’s highly interior. I’m inside the narrator Robert’s head all through the book. He tells the story.

Because I was so worried about his self-reflection, his navel gazing, I worked hard on the plot to move the book forward and get the reader in real time as soon as I could manage. That means two married couples, a partner in each couple cheating on the other. The narrator Robert discovers after Lena his wife dies that she’s cheated on him. Robert discovers how all that happened through memory and through what he finds out after his wife’s death.

But truly, only the reader can answer this question: Is this navel gazing? And was it worth the read and the ride?

Q: Are you obsessed with heroes? Your narrator certainly is.

I want to understand what the word hero means. One could argue that we have few if any modern books in literature that folks would identify with a hero, the kind we find more in film than in books, unless we go to the romance novel or supernatural stuff. I think that’s one of the reasons Wattpadders are driven to the supernatural.

I explore the question What is a hero? all the way through the book.

Q: You kill your main character on page one of this novel. If you’re in the book in some way, doesn’t that mean you plotted your own death?

Golly, I hope I didn’t plot my own death. But of course I did think about it. In a sense, if I’m in any way Robert’s wife, I do kill Lena on page one, arguably in the first sentence. So I guess you could argue that’s what I’m doing. But at the time of the writing of the book, I was losing my husband—see (Re)Making Love

I now realize that Who by Fire is a love letter to him, that I wrote it in the hope that I would get him back.

I wrote in Robert’s voice, a man’s voice, because I was trying to understand the man who left me, the man I loved.

More key, though, is this: I don’t think anyone who is thoughtfully alive and human can avoid considering his own death.

Q.: Why would anyone want to read about that?

Because the book is about love, not death. You know that love is the answer.

Q: But what, pray tell, is the question?

Now that’s what Who by Fire is really about: Love is the answer. Now, what was the question? Read it to see if I ask and answer. Then let me know.

My PS with help from the poet William Carlos Williams:

Literature is rich with the undiscovered, the voice that waits to be heard.

Here’s why: As William Carlos Williams said in his poem "Asphodel, that Greeny Flower", with word poem here think of invention, of art.

                        It is difficult

to get the news from poems

            yet men die miserably every day

                        for lack

of what is found there.