Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Seattle U Theology Bookfair Sat Feb 7

Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry is having a book festival on Saturday, February 7th, from 9am to 5pm. Sherman Alexie is the keynote speaker, at 2:15 pm. FREE. In Pigott Building on the SU Campus.

From the website:
"Authors will represent a wide assortment of literary genres, from fiction to social justice, light spiritual reading to complex academic texts, children’s and adolescent literature to books written for the inquiring adult. The common thread for all of the authors, and all texts included for sale, will be the exploration of spiritual themes."


Monday, January 26, 2009


Quite a firestorm in the literary blogosphere over self-publishing. I like the comments by Lee Goldberg.

Mr. Goldberg is writing in response to this article in Time Magazine by Lev Grossman, which states that:

"Saying you were a self-published author used to be like saying you were a self-taught brain surgeon. But over the past couple of years, vanity publishing has becoming practically respectable."

Lee Goldberg responds:

"He's the only person, besides a vanity press huckster, I have ever heard voice that opinion. He tries to back it up by citing a couple of the extraordinarily rare examples of self-publishing success. He neglects to mention, just like the vanity-press hucksters do, that these are extremely rare cases that represent a miniscule percentage of the self-published books printed every year."

I'm glad this debate is taking place. I used to be a bookseller and bookbuyer at Kepler's Books, and I have had first hand experience with self-published books. Yes, every once in a great while there is something wonderful. Verrrrry rarely. The rest, well, good for them, the authors. Now they could say at dinner parties that they had been published, which I think was the main impetus.

However, I do see a strong future for POD (print on demand) books, and journals. There is nothing wrong with vanity publishing. For family histories, or neighborhood books, this is a fine solution.

What do you think?


Friday, January 23, 2009

A little something to lighten the day

From the Typewriter to the Bookstore: A Publishing Story

A tip of the rain hat to my pal Mary Akers for this.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Gwendolyn Brooks 1917-2000

my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell

I hold my honey and I store my bread
In little jars and cabinets of my will.
I label clearly, and each latch and lid
I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
And none can tell when I may dine again.
No man can give me any word but Wait,
The puny light. I keep eyes pointed in;
Hoping that, when the devil days of my hurt
Drag out to their last dregs and I resume
On such legs as are left me, in such heart
As I can manage, remember to go home,
My taste will not have turned insensitive
To honey and bread old purity could love.

-Gwendolyn Brooks

"Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly regarded, much-honored poet, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks's works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period."
from the Poetry Foundation bio.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Emily Dickinson

Surgeons must be very careful
When they take the knife!
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the Culprit - Life!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Talent of the Room

Thanks to my pal Mary Akers for this fine essay on writing by Michael Ventura.

Here's the begining of the article:

People who are young at writing — and this does not necessarily mean they’re young in years — ask me, now and again, if I can tell them something useful about the task. Task is my word, not theirs, and it may seem a harsh and formal word, but before writing is anything else it’s a task. Only gradually do you learn enough for it to become a craft. (As for whether writing becomes your art — that isn’t really up to you. The art can be there in the beginning, before you know a thing, or it may never be there no matter what you learn.)

“The only thing you really need,” I tell these people, “is the talent of the room. Unless you have that, your other talents are worthless.”

Writing is something you do alone in a room. Copy that sentence and put it on your wall because there’s no way to exaggerate or overemphasize this fact. It’s the most important thing to remember if you want to be a writer. Writing is something you do alone in a room.

Before any issues of style, content or form can be addressed, the fundamental questions are: How long can you stay in that room? How many hours a day? How do you behave in that room? How often can you go back to it? How much fear (and, for that matter, how much elation) can you endure by yourself? How many years — how many years — can you remain alone in a room?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Igudesman & Joo

Gosh, Igudesman & Joo might be the living heirs to Victor Borge. Thanks to my pal Kevin Watson of Press 53 for bringing them to my attention.

I really like the outfit that Aleksey Igudesman wears. And when Richard Hyung-ki Joo cuts loose, watch out world.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

finally, some good news on the fiction front

A New York Times article by Motoko Rich from yesterday says:

"After years of bemoaning the decline of a literary culture in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts says in a report that it now believes a quarter-century of precipitous decline in fiction reading has reversed.

The report, “Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy,” being released Monday, is based on data from “The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts” conducted by the United States Census Bureau in 2008.

Among its chief findings is that for the first time since 1982, when the bureau began collecting such data, the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen.

...It increased most dramatically among 18-to-24-year-olds, who had previously shown the most significant declines."


Friday, January 09, 2009

Rick Steves Free Classes Jan 17

Rick Steves free classes are on Saturday, January 17, in Edmonds. It's a whole day of sampler classes, and many of them look quite tempting. The classes are free, but you need to sign up to reserve your place.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Seattle Art Museum's 16th C Italian room

I went to the Seattle Art Museum today, to see the Salish art exhibit, which has the unpronounceable and unmemorable name of S'abadeb. Nice exhibit, mostly what I expected, lots of school children screaming, being shushed by parents and docents, the usual. Then to the Hopper exhibit, then made my way around, browsing the Greek vases and porcelain thingummy-bobs. But the most amazing thing is there up on the fourth floor, an entire small wooden room from 16th Century Chiavenna in northern Lombardy.

A whole, empty, quiet room, with windows letting in rather well placed afternoon light (I was there in the morning, so really appreciated this warm southern light effect)and a fireplace and nothing else. Just the wooden paneling and the entire feeling of being in Italy, in the past. I stayed for a while, then left and went to see something else, then came back, and it was the same. A time apart.

For more information on the conservation of this room, go here.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Donald E. Westlake 1933-2009

Donald Westlake, prolific mystery writer, has died. He was 75. He wrote four books a year. That's right, four. Apparently that's why he used the pseudonyms, because publishers were leery of putting out so many books by the same author each year. I must admit that I've only really read and enjoyed one of his books, but I really liked it. Baby, Would I Lie? (1994) which I used to re-read regularly. Many of his books were made into movies.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Ella Fitzgerald 1917-1996

Here's a clip of Ella singing "A Tisket a Tasket." Yes, it's an odd song, but somehow delightfully silly. Love the tour bus setup.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Perceptions magazine upcoming prize

Perceptions magazine is accepting submissions for their upcoming prizes in fiction, poetry, nonfiction, short film, music, visual art, and photography. Deadline is January 16. The editor is Lidia Yuknavitch.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

my writing class at the UW Women's Center

I'm teaching creative writing at the University of Washington's Women's Center in Winter Quarter.

Writing Your Story, Finding Your Voice
Wednesdays, Feb. 4-25, from 7:00pm – 8:30pm
in the Library at the Women's Center

Every woman has a story to tell, in her own voice. In this four-week session we will release our stories, silence our inner critics, and have a good time! Come prepared with pen and paper, your imagination, your fears and joys, your secret expectations. We will focus on short pieces of prose and poetry, using lively free-writing exercises. For those new to writing, and those who want to revisit the freedom of the beginner. $45 fee.

To register, call 206.685.1090, or mail or fax the registration form. See registration details here.