Monday, June 27, 2011

Away...finally: Rancho Las Palmas

Rituals figure highly in my life, it seems. Put on a certain CD before I start writing, or change the atmosphere somehow, is the first active ritual that comes to mind.

Our annual trip to the desert is another. It's become a family ritual. Every year for so many years--perhaps even since Travis was in first grade--the first week after school is out, we're desert bound. (Don't worry: Nigel and Rosie have company at the house and are being cared for.)

Where we stay has changed, though. Used to be the Korakia (where Brian and I honeymooned), or The Willows, in Palm Springs, but as Travis got older, we started staying at resorts--mostly for the pool (for him).

The last few years we've come to Rancho Las Palmas. It has everything we need: the pool, a Lazy River, a good view from the room, which is what you see here, and an attentive staff, esp. the undisputed champ of guest services, Connie Orsak. She always makes our time here special. Rancho is also across the street from The River, which has restaurants, movies, and a bookstore. Always need a bookstore nearby... Last night after dinner, we walked over to Borders and I bought the New Yorker "The Talk of the Town: Special Issue."

I also tried to talk to an employee about what I read, that Borders was closing stores and were they closing? But he walked away from me, looking sort of angry, saying it wasn't true. A very strange interaction. Travis was watching, shaking his head. We agreed that he was so defensive, it must be true. This morning I Googled it and yes, Borders across the street at The River is slated (tragically!) to close. I hope another bookstore goes in that space. It just won't be the same, The River without a bookstore! We'll have to drive down the street and dine near Barnes & Noble!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Save the date: West Hollywood Book Fair

I'll be moderating a memoir panel at the New West Hollywood Book Fair on Sunday, Oct. 2. I hope I see you there.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Poetry prize

Any poets out there? Read on....

Submissions sought for $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award

Office of University Communications

For Immediate Release
Contact Rod Leveque, Assistant Director, Media Relations (909) 621-8396

June 20, 2011

Submissions sought for $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award
CLAREMONT, California — Claremont Graduate University (CGU) is accepting submissions for the 2012 Tufts Poetry Awards. The awards  — now in their 20th year — are among the richest and most highly anticipated in the world of poetry.

The winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award will receive a $100,000 prize. The award is given annually for a book by an emerging poet who has not reached the pinnacle of his or her career.

CGU is also accepting submissions for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, which carries a prize of $10,000. That award is presented annually for a first book by a poet of genuine promise.

The awards were established in 1992 by Kate Tufts to honor her late husband, poet and writer Kingsley Tufts. Past Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award winners include Robert Wrigley, Tom Sleigh, Linda Gregerson, Matthea Harvey and Yusef Komunyakaa.

Submissions must include eight copies of an eligible book of poetry, a list of previously published work, and a completed entry form. Only books published between Sept. 1, 2010 and Aug. 31, 2011 are eligible.

Entries must be postmarked by Sept. 15, 2011. Winners will be announced in February. The awards will be presented in April.

Send Submissions To:
Kingsley & Kate Tufts Poetry Awards
Claremont Graduate University
160 E. Tenth Street, Harper East B7
Claremont, California 91711-6165

Entry forms and additional information are available at


About Claremont Graduate University

Founded in 1925, Claremont Graduate University is one of the top graduate schools in the United States. Our nine academic schools conduct leading-edge research and award masters and doctoral degrees in 24 disciplines. Because the world’s problems are not simple nor easily defined, diverse faculty and students research and study across the traditional discipline boundaries to create new and practical solutions for the major problems plaguing our world. A Southern California based graduate school devoted entirely to graduate research and study, CGU boasts a low student-to-faculty ratio.
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Claremont Graduate University, 150 E. 10th St., Claremont, CA 91711 United States

Monday, June 20, 2011

Music and images

A few weeks ago my son Travis said life would be more interesting if there was a soundtrack to accompany our daily goings ons.

So true.

In my case, soundtracks help the writing to move along. This morning I put on The Godfather soundtrack and got to work on my memoir.  It's a trigger and helps to put me in the mindset of the work. It also drowns out (sorta) the sound of the tree trimmers across the street.

I also look at images. When you're working on a memoir, even if you're not including them in the work, images are helpful.  Images help you to remember. Here's one such image.  My brother and me, at our grandmother's house, long ago.

If you're feeling stuck, try a musical ritual. It helps to play the same music for a particular project. Maybe there are a couple of CDs you like. For me, right now, it's this Godfather soundtrack, and Yo-Yo Ma (in particular, his Bach: Prelude Cello Suite No. 1).

If you have rituals that work for you, share!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pen on Fire Salon with Aimee Bender and Michael Jaime-Becerra

The Pen on Fire Writers Salon features Barbara DeMarco-Barrett in conversation with Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and Michael Jaime-Becerra, author of This Time Tomorrow.

Download audio.

(Event date: June 2010)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The view from behind the board

Dark and moody in the KUCI studio

For my hour in the studio, I turn off the fluorescent overhead, and dim the lights. It's dark, moody, like a bar, only it's not like a bar at all because I'm the only one there--unless my co-host Marrie Stone is there, too--and there's no alcohol, no drunks, and no noise. I wear headphones, and I do my own engineering, so no, it's not like a bar at all. But like a bar, the darkness is comforting, and sitting in the studio, on the phone with an author whose book I liked a lot--or better yet, loved--well, it's one of the best places to be.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Robert Sabbag and Ander Monson

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Robert Sabbag, author of Down Around Midnight: A Memoir of Crash and Survival and Ander Monson, author of Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir.

Download audio.

(Broadcast Date: May 19, 2010)

An earlier, incomplete version of this show was posted in 2010.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Mira Bartok and Maira Kalman on Writers on Writing

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Mira Bartok, author of The Memory Palace and Maira Kalman, author/illustrator of In Pursuit of Happiness.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: March 16, 2011)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Catherine Friend and Caitlin Kelly on Writers on Writing

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Catherine Friend, author of Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep & Enough Wool to Save the Planet, and Caitlin Kelly, author of Malled: My Untentional Career in Retail.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: May 11, 2011)