Friday, September 14, 2012

A very Inlandia weekend

Kind of last minute, but wanted to let you know about the abundance of Inlandia offerings I'm involved with this weekend.

Tomorrow, Saturday, September 15, I will be part of the first Inlandia Book Fair at the Riverside Barnes & Noble. I read at 1:40pm, and there is a roster of amazing readers all day, from 10-4, along with free green chile tastings as Inlandia launches our first independently published book, Julianna Cruz's Dos Chiles/Two Chiles. Click here to find the schedule. You don't have to be in Riverside to benefit the Inlandia Institute; if you use the code 10812964 at any Barnes & Noble, on or off line, between the 15th and 21st, a portion of the sale will go toward vitally needed literary programming.

On Sunday the 16th, I'll be teaching a free ekphrastic writing workshop (writing inspired by art) at the Riverside Art Museum from 12:30-2, and will be reading and presenting a video from 2:30-3:30. More info can be found here.

Would be wonderful to see you at either event (or both!)

Also, just today, my profile of Inlandia Institute's founder, the amazing Marion Mitchell-Wilson, went live on Artbound: Marion Mitchell-Wilson and the Inlandia Institute: The Heart and Soul of Inland Empire Literature. It feels so good to pay tribute to Marion upon her retirement and thank her for all she has given our region.

Viva Inlandia!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Thank you!

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Thanks to all of your votes and support, my Tio's Tacos article has been adapted into a short film. The people at KCET Artbound did a gorgeous job capturing the vision and spirit of Martin Sanchez, and created such a loving tribute to his whole family. I am so grateful that this is going to bring more attention to Martin and his amazing art. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

diving deep

I've been wanting to write about my mom since her death, but had been scared to get too close, dive too deep. That is starting to change. Yesterday, The Rumpus published my essay, Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying, which was so hard to write, but felt so incredibly practically clawed its way out of me. I have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support it has already received over the last day. When I first saw that the essay had been posted, my heart nearly broke through my chest, it was pounding so hard. I felt a little dizzy all day, both from having such a raw piece of myself out in the world, and from having people receive it with so much love.

Thank you to everyone who has already read and shared the piece. You are giving me the courage to continue to dive, as Adrienne Rich said, into the wreck.

Monday, May 21, 2012


I am delighted to be a columnist at KCET's new arts and culture site, ARTBOUND, and am even more excited that my first piece there, Tio's Tacos, Riverside's Folk Art Wonderland, is the People's Choice for the week. Now it goes up against the Editor's Choice; the winner will be made into a short documentary. I've always believed that Martin Sanchez deserved widespread recognition for his wild and visionary art, his unstoppable, sustainable creativity. This could be a way for him to get it. Please vote for Tio's Tacos today.

BTW, my husband Michael took all of the fabulous photos in the article. :) If you know of any newsworthy arts/culture happening in Riverside, please drop me a line.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Catching Up

Once again, long time, no post. Life has been a crazy whirl, in ways both hard and sweet.

I have some exciting news to share--I was recently named the new Inlandia Literary Laureate! I will accept the laureateship on April 25 at UCR (and Sandra Cisneros will speak right afterwards, as part of the Tomas Rivera Conference. Details below)--please come if you can. I am so honored to follow in Susan Straight's footsteps--she did such a beautiful job as the first Inlandia Laureate; I hope to inspire many people to read, write and celebrate our region during my two year appointment. Some fun plans are in the works--I will share more as they develop.

Some other exciting news--I learned a few days ago that My Life with the Lincolns received a Silver Nautilus Book Award for Middle Grade/Teen Fiction; the tagline for the Nautilus Awards is "Better Books for a Better World", which warms my social justice-dreaming heart.

Here are some of my recent online appearances:
--I reviewed Terry Tempest William's incredible book, When Women Were Birds, for the San Francisco Chronicle
--I was interviewed about The Book of Live Wires at the West Coast Writers blog
--I also spoke about The Book of Live Wires (amongst other writerly and motherly topics) during this Hip Mama podcast
--The Colony Library Lady wrote a fabulous review of Delta Girls prior to my speaking engagement there (it was wonderful to talk with the high school students who attended.)

Coming up, The Book of Dead Birds is the May selection for the Reading the Western Landscape Book Group at the Los Angeles County Arboretum; I will be there Wednesday, May 2 at 7pm to discuss the book--it would be great to see you there (the grounds are beautiful, even if the peacocks are a bit aggressive)!

Thank you for your continuing support. Hope you're having a gorgeous Spring.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gather the Women

This Saturday, March 24, I will be gathering with a group of wild, wise, wonderful women to share a day of expression, reflection and sisterhood. Won't you join us? Our 8th annual Gather the Women conference--our second in downtown Riverside--features a Women's Marketplace on the Library Plaza showcasing artisanal products by local women, and a day of inspiring, empowering workshops on creativity, activism and heart-centered living in the Unitarian Church. I'll be teaching a class on Publishing from the Heart, exploring the many ways you can get your voice out into the world. We are asking only  a minimum $10 donation, to keep the conference affordable for women in the community. To find out more and register, please visit Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Voices of the Day

I learned through Google Alert that I was Voice of the Day yesterday at Sojourners, an organization and magazine "Celebrating 40 Years of Faith in Action for Social Justice". They excerpted a portion of my poem, "The Body Politic of Peace," which has had a reach bigger than I ever could have imagined when I wrote the piece several years ago. It won a Barbara Mandigo Kelley Peace Poetry Award from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; it has been used in sermons and yoga classes around the country; it was adapted into a choral arrangement for the Denver Women's Chorus. I am touched and honored that my heartfelt words have found their way into other hearts.

Last week, I experienced the power of individual voices firsthand. My dear friend Greg Walloch invited me to be his guest when he performed at the USA Network/The Moth Characters Unite Storytelling Event. Characters Unite is a campaign launched by the USA Network to combat prejudice and intolerance. They partnered with The Moth, an organization I have long loved, to create a storytelling tour dedicated to promoting understanding and acceptance.

The storytellers were incredible. Tim King, educator and founder of Urban Prep Academies in Chicago, spoke about how his life was changed when a troubled student asked him to be his father. Aimee Mullins, whose legs were amputated below the knee when she was five years old, shared how she turned what could easily be seen as a liability into a strength--she has won world records for running on prosthetic legs, and has become a muse to designers such as the late Alexander McQueen and filmmakers like Matthew Barney. Greg told a story about cake, gay Elvis impersonators and televangelists that is a MUST see/hear (you can see him below telling the story at another Moth event):

Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for writing "Milk", movingly spoke about the difference between his own coming out experience in a supportive community in California and his late brother being unable to come out safely or openly in Texas. I can't stop thinking about the story and how we need to make the whole country a safer place for people like his brother to live openly (and marry legally). His story obviously touched a nerve--Nathan Lane, who had been emceeing the event, broke out of his scripted (and hilarious) hosting duties to share his own coming out experience. I just read that USA Network star, Matt Bomer, who had introduced the evening of storytelling, came out publicly last weekend--this is speculation, of course, but I can't help but think that he was inspired to do so by Dustin Lance Black and the honesty of all the storytellers at Characters Unite. The evening ended with Academy Award hopeful Octavia Spencer talking about how her experience filming "The Help" inspired her to use her own voice to make a difference.

One of the beautiful things about storytelling is how it breaks down barriers and reminds us that we are all part of a greater human story. I felt so honored to bear witness to these stories (and then to sit with the storytellers while John Legend played piano a few feet away!)

Tomorrow, I am going to be teaching a writing workshop to at-risk teenage girls through the Write of Your Life program co-founded by one of my former students. I look forward to sharing with them the power of storytelling and helping them discover the power of their own voices. We all have more reach than we ever could have imagined.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Review of A Theory of Small Earthquakes

My review of Meredith Maran's novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes, appears in tomorrow's San Francisco Chronicle. I feel honored to have had a chance to review this beautiful, timely book.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

GATE Story Con: The Power of Story

Last Saturday, thanks to the generous invitation of my friend Nancy, I had the pleasure of attending GATE Story Con, an all day (and almost all night!) event exploring and celebrating the power of Story to create personal, social and global transformation. GATE is the Global Alliance for Transformational Entertainment, an organization dedicated to changing our cultural story by changing our media. The event featured poets and physicists, musicians and spiritual writers and movie producers and comedians, all of them committed to moving our human story forward by telling stories that are honest and illuminating and brave. I left feeling deeply inspired and energized, with a renewed dedication to using my voice as a storyteller to make a difference in the world.

The image above is Paul Horn playing the flute. I took his music and tai chi workshop as a work-study student at the Esalen Institute in the late 80s, and his music brought flashbacks of my young, idealistic self dancing on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in Big Sur. The screen above him is filled with images of people in the audience who were live-tweeting the event--my photo is right in the center (if you'd like, you can read my tweets with the hashtag #gatecommunity here). It was fun to see my older self, filled with a more realistic idealism now, virtually together with Paul Horn again, as part of a community of artists who want to connect our personal stories to a greater story, a story connected to the earth, a story connected to the stars, a story that reminds us we are all in this story together--let's try to make it a beautiful one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Giveaway!

What electrifies you as a writer? If you let me know over at my She Writes blog by this Friday, you could win a copy of The Book of Live Wires (the grand prize includes an ebook, a rare physical edition and a copy of The Book of Dead Birds.) I've been so touched by all of the comments people have left so far--it's deeply inspiring to see what makes people tick as writers. You need to become a member of She Writes to enter--something I highly encourage; it's a wonderful community for women writers.

I also recently posted Knocking on Your Door (On reframing self promotion) (if you check it out, you can see a copy of the first page of the neighborhood newspaper I created when I was 11.)

And going back a couple of months, here are my last three NaNoWriMo blogs for She Writes, in reverse chronological order: Writing Into (and Out of) the Void, Thanksgiving, NaNoWriMo Edition and On Perfectionism: A NaNoWriMo No No.

I look forward to finding out what sets your writing self on fire!