Monday, July 30, 2007

Subscriptions survey

The other day as I was going through old Utne magazines, it occurred to me, once again, how much I love this magazine. I always seem to find articles that are priceless, and because Utne reprints articles found in other articles, I discover new journals--new to me, anyway. Brick is one such journal. In this particular Utne, I was reading about what Annie Proulx would be if she wasn't a writer. Cabinet maker was one. The article pointed to the issue of Brick that it was originally published in, so I went to the web site (Brick's) and ordered the 2003 journal. love Utne.

Then I began thinking of the magazines and papers that find their way into this house:

Los Angeles Times
Wall Street Journal
Poets & Writers
The Writer
Writer's Digest
Country Living
Interweave Knits
(a gift subscription from Noreen)
Boy's Life (Travis' magazine)

I used to subscribe to the New Yorker, but they arrived too quickly. I still have a pile I'm trying to get through. I also recently subscribed to The Atlantic Monthy, Food & Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure but let them lapse.

What do you subscribe to, and what do you love most?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fantasy writers wanted

I can't remember where I saw it--it was on one of the publishing reports, yesterday, I think--but I read that agents and publishers are looking for the next Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling. If you're a fantasy writer for adults and children, this may be your time.

I was thinking of my former student Lacy, who now lives in Colorado. out there? How's that novel coming, the one that we loved so much?

Did anyone else see that write up? Where was it?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Back to Starletta's Kitchen

In Mosley's book, This Year Your Write Your Novel, which I mentioned in the last post, he talks about why it's important to work every day. I've also talked about his essay on writing in which he says you must visit with your work daily, and if you let three days go by, the dream of the work evaporates. (Google "Walter Mosley New York Times Writers on Writing" and you will find the essay I'm talking about.)

Starletta's Kitchen sat untouched for three weeks or more while I worked on the proposal and so when I picked it up this morning, it took a while to realize where I was at. I saw the blue pages of the new draft (Ron Carlson said he types different drafts on different colored paper so he knows what draft to grab for readings) and realized I had already gone through the entire mss., crossing things out, deleting, making notes for places to add, and had already begun typing out a new draft. Duh.

And so was reminded of Walter Mosley's advice to visit your work daily, else lose the drift, lose your place, and lose motivation.


Travis and I were watching the Food Network last night and Bobby Flay (and if you watch the Food Network, you know who he is) said, "If you're not nervous about your passion, you're not passionate about it." I ran and wrote this down to share with you. So true. Often we misinterpret nervousness or anxiety and stop doing what it is that makes us anxious rather than throwing ourselves into it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cross your fingers

I spent the last three weeks or so getting another book proposal finished and in the mail. It's an illustrated journal, a spin-off of Pen on Fire. After Pen on Fire was published in late '04, I began receiving emails from readers who wondered if a journal was in the works. No, I'd say. And then more letters arrived and I started thinking, Hmm.....Maybe there should be.

So I teamed up with Andy Mitchell, a longtime student and illustrator (, and put together a proposal. Of course it took longer than I would have liked. Doesn't everything?

But I got it into the mail last week and Delivery Confirmation confirms that the proposal was delivered.

It's a longshot. (Everything's a longshot, when it comes to publishing.) So we're waiting. Crossing fingers and waiting.

And tomorrow I will return to Starletta's Kitchen. In the hours before my son wakes up, that is. (I let him stay up late so he'll sleep in and I can use those early morning hours for writing.)

I feel so far away from the book now, having been away from it since June.

Have y'all read Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel? I love that book. I should read it again.

How're your projects progressing? Do things slow down for you in the summer?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A letter

Every so often you receive an email from someone who was affected by your writing, and it serves to remind you of why you do what you do. Emails like the one below are one of the perks of slogging through and seeing your work get published. It brought tears to my eyes.

"After our correspondence last week I clicked over to your blog and finally (finally!) decided to read Pen on Fire. I’ve been resisting for a few years now, sort of like how you should go to the doctor and solve your health issue, but knowing that when you bite the bullet and do it you’ll have to make lifestyle changes that you’re not quite willing to make yet? Yep, that’s why I didn’t read it for a long time, but finally I was ready and I just could not put it down. Every chapter touched on something important that either reassured me or taught me something new. You’re a terrific teacher and a talented, honest writer, and I appreciate it so much. Good luck with your novel." - Gretchen Roberts,

Nice, huh?

Emails can go either way, of course. You can receive something that can dent your day, too.

Any recent emails in your life that simply made you glad?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Those who can ... teach!

Susan's comment on my last post got me thinking.

Every so often you still hear the cliche: Those who can't, teach.

Not true.

I know so many accomplished writers who teach not because they need the money but because they enjoy teaching or they feel teaching allows them to give something back.

Sure, teaching can be a drag. But after an all-day class like the one I taught today at UC-Irvine, I remember how much fun teaching can be. I have such respect for my students who could have been doing so many other things on this beautiful summer day but they chose to be sitting under florescent lights progressing their writing. There was gobs of talent in the classroom today, so much so that I felt invigorated.

This goes for all of my students. I'm lucky I get to help them along their path.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Desert heat

We're in the desert for our annual end-of-school vacation. Yesterday, as we left the Blue Coyote in Palm Springs, the car's thermostat said 120 degrees. Or was it 122? I can't remember; I was delerious.

Actually, it's not that bad. It's balmy at night in the pool.

Here are Brian's glasses. Well, his old glasses. Because the sun and the heat cracked them like marbles dropped in a kettle of boiling water.

My first summer vacation book: Sideways by Rex Pickett. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. Laugh out loud funny and a tearjerker at the end. Enjoyed the movie and have been curious about how the book was. Some of the writing wasn't great but overall I loved it. A guy's book. Very enjoyable. Anyone else read it?

What are you reading and recommend?