Saturday, March 29, 2008

The wonderful author Tayari Jones has started a fun new feature on her blog called Cocktails with Writers. I contributed a Self Storage-related, Afghan-inspired drink, Rose Petal Iced Tea. Come have a glass with me!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Marshal Zeringue asked me to cast Self Storage for his blog My Book, The Movie. Here is what I came up with.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

If you're interested in using your writing to make a difference, I've created a new online course for the UCLA Writers' Program this Spring (April 16-June 18): Writing for Social Change. Here's the description...

Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world," and we also can write the change we wish to see in the world. Every voice has the power to inspire change. In this course, weekly reading assignments allow you to explore how different writers have used their work as a tool for social justice. Weekly writing assignments help you explore how your own work--be it poetry, fiction, or nonfiction--can bear witness to injustice and create a more peaceful future. By the end of the course, you produce at least one polished piece of writing in the genre of your choice. You also gain greater understanding of the power of your own voice and discover venues where you can send your work into the world (and change the world in the process!)

For more info, click here or send your questions my way. It would be great to see you in class!
Kelly Spitzer is profiling me over at her blog. Kelly asked great questions--I shared things with her that I haven't shared in other interviews. Check it out--you can even win a signed copy of Self Storage if you share your own self storage story!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I think I may need to take a trip to Houston to visit the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. I loved loved loved the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore (thanks again for the tip, Romalyn!), plus the Orange Show is an homage to fruit--the orange, to be exact. Here's the info:
The Orange Show is a folk-art environment - a monumental work of handmade architecture - in Houston's east end. It was built single handedly from 1956 until its completion in 1979, by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack, Houston postal worker. The outdoor 3,000 square foot monument is maze like in design and includes an oasis, a wishing well, a pond, a stage, a museum, a gift shop, and several upper decks. It is constructed of concrete, brick, steel and found objects including gears, tiles, wagon wheels, mannequins, tractor seats and statuettes.

Jeff McKissack's creation extols the virtues of his favorite fruit and encourages visitors of all ages to follow his theories relating health and longevity to good nutrition, hard work and eating oranges. The Orange Show is one of the most important folk art environments in the United States.
Very cool, yes?

This morning, I went to the farmers market in the Sears parking lot and an older Italian gentleman at one of the stands waved me over. "Would you like a sample?" he whispered conspiratorially, then handed me a juicy wedge of orange. "You like?" he asked and I nodded, even though I had just brushed my teeth and it made the orange taste bitter. He held out a whole orange and looked around surreptitiously. "Take this," he said. "Take it before anyone sees me give you one for free." I slipped it into my bag next to the beautiful green lettuce and felt I had been given a real treasure. I didn't buy any oranges from him, but I did buy half a pound of my benefactor's dried jujubes (the fruit, not the candy. They're supposedly good for the stomach and can be boiled for tea. I like their strange, spongy, dusty texture.)

I find myself hungry for oranges now; I'm glad I still have that sweetly gifted one (and didn't just brush my teeth)!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Just a reminder: this Saturday, I'll be teaching a free class on Marketing for Writers at the Riverside Public Library from 2-4. We'll talk about fun things like submitting to agents and publishers (and even making cool little YouTube trailers!) Bring your questions and writerly dreams.

Also, this Sunday, I'm going to be part of an amazing CODEPINK International Women's Day Activist Training Camp in Malibu.
Join us on March 9th to celebrate International Women's Day CODEPINK-style with an informative and inspirational activist training day camp. We're planning an exciting Sunday of workshops, group activities, a delicious lunch, and special guest performances! Learn how to organize creative peace actions, know your rights, become an activist writer, gain a deeper understanding of the peace movement and the ongoing occupation of Iraq, and help create banners for actions on the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Bring your talents, passion for peace, and your creative ideas and join us in the LA area!
I'm thrilled to be part of it.

There will be inspiring International Women's Day activist trainings offered all over the country this weekend. Click here to find one in your region. Also, click here to sign CODEPINK's letter to remind women members of Congress to take action to support Iraqi women. Women for Women International recently published a deeply disturbing report about the dire situation of women in Iraq. Let's do what we can this International Women's Day to honor Iraqi women and make sure their voices are heard.
In response to the recent spate of fraudulent memoirs, Salon posted a satirical memo by Louis Bayard that posits how editors would respond to certain classic books today to avoid further scandal. (Under "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" by Gertrude Stein, for instance, it says "Written by someone else. Please change title.")

The Song of Myself one especially cracked me up:
"Reviewers have flagged the following line:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then, I contradict myself ...

This is the kind of factual defiance we will no longer accept from our memoirists. Please change second line to: 'Sorry.'"
Somehow, I don't think Walt would be very happy with that suggested edit! It actually reminds me of the opening of Self Storage:
I celebrate myself.
Sorry, I just can't do it.

I hope Walt would be happy with what I did with his words...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Susan Ito is a comma. Apparently, I am too!

You Are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.

You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.

You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.

(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark

I like the thought of being a comma, a brief pause between two thoughts, that moment of rest between the inhale and exhale. Although I must say I've been especially enamored of semi-colons lately--maybe because I need a deeper pause these days. Do you have a favorite punctuation mark?

My friend Elizabeth Austen wrote a gorgeous poem about punctuation when we were at Antioch together. You can hear it in her own voice if you click the third track here.