Thursday, April 11, 2013

Catching Up

I was also hoping to do a better job of posting links to my pieces online, and have fallen ridiculously behind in this endeavor. The season premiere of Mad Men reminded me that I never shared a link to my essay about Mad Men and my mom's suicide during the last season. I also never posted anything about my second essay on the Rumpus: Where I Write: The House My Mother Built.

I've had several pieces up at Artbound--KCET's transmedia site, where I'm a columnist covering the arts and culture of Riverside County--as well; you can find a link to all of them here.

There are other scattered bits of my writing here and there that I've neglected to post, which I will gather and share when I have a chance. Thank you for your patience!

Come Write with Me (for Free!)

I am trying to remember to do a better job of posting my events here, and wanted to let you all know I have some free workshops on the horizon...

On Saturday, April 13 (the day before my birthday!), I will be teaching a free writing workshop at the Covina Library from 3:30-4:30pm. Registration is required; please call (626) 384-5297 to reserve your spot. 

The following Saturday, April 20th, I will teach a writing workshop as part of the Stop the Pain teen summit in Riverside, a day long free event to raise awareness about dating violence, sex trafficking, and bullying. My workshop will focus on writing as a source of personal power. If you know any teens or young adults in the Riverside area, please let them know about this event. You can read an article about it here.

The next day, Sunday, April 21st, I will have a little booth at a "poetry in non-traditional settings" Earth Day event at the San Bernardino County Museum from 12-4pm. If you swing by, you can eat and write about oranges with me! I will be doing a similar orangey mini-workshop for Earth Night at the Western Municipal Water District Efficiency Garden in Riverside on Monday, April 22nd from 3-7pm.

Would love to see (and write with) you at any of these events!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Literary Orange

I don't often think of Orange County as a literary hotspot, but recent (and near future) events are changing my opinion of the place. Last week, I had two great events in Orange County--I spoke at Barbara DeMarco-Barrett's fabulous Pen on Fire Speakers Series last Tuesday, with the amazing writers Jo-Ann Mapson and Seth Greenland, and last Friday, I met with the Seal Beach Leisure World Creative Writing Club, a wonderful, engaged group of older writers (one of whom was over 100!) Just before my talk, I was nabbed by a Leisure World security patrol guy for entering the "exit" lane of a parking lot--it created a good opportunity to talk to the group about how sometimes as writers, we have to break the rules!

On April 6th, I'll be on the roster at Literary Orange, a day full of keynotes and panels on various aspects of craft and genre (my panel is Literary Fiction: Southland Stories, where I'll be joined by my former Antioch mentor and forever source of inspiration, Diane Lefer, plus Aris Janigian and Hector Tobar.) The moderator of our panel will be Andrew Tonkovich, who wrote this lovely profile of my work for the OC Weekly: To Kill a Mockingbird and Save Mr. Lincoln: Gayle Brandeis and the Political Young Adult.

I am grateful for all of the support, Orange County, and look forward to further literary engagement behind the proverbial Orange curtain.

(Speaking of literary oranges of a different nature, be on the lookout for a call for submissions for an anthology of writings about oranges I'm going to compile/edit for the Inlandia Institute...)

Monday, March 04, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I was tagged by three wonderful women to participate in The Next Big Thing, a way to let readers know about our projects in the works:

--Laura L. Mays Hoopes, who is preparing to launch Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling: An American Woman Becomes a DNA Scientist, the first memoir to explore how a woman has been able to balance a successful career in science with motherhood,

--Cati Porter, whose new poetry chapbook, The Way Things Move the Dark, is fresh off the dancing girl press' presses,

--and Jacqui Morton, whose collection of motherhood-inspired poems, Turning Cozy Dark, will be available from Finishing Line Press in June.

I hope you'll support all three of these brave and amazing mama writers by (pre)ordering their books.

I am working on two projects and wasn't sure which one to write about. The memoir about my mom is truly the "big thing" in my heart, but it's still in its early stages, so I thought I should write about my new YA novel, which is (I hope, I hope) almost ready to lob out into the world. And now, on to the Next Big Thing questions...

What is your working title of your book or work in progress?

Seed Bombs

Where did the idea come from for the book?

A few years ago, there were a couple of bills in the House that would have outlawed organic farming and backyard gardening. My friend Nancy and I were considering putting together some sort of street theater to protest this, but never quite got our act together (I think one of us was going to dress up like a farmer, the other like a cow). Thank goodness the bills didn't pass, but I started to think about what our world would be like if all home gardening was outlawed and one Monsanto-like company controlled the entire food supply. I started to think about a group of kids who wanted to bring food production back into the hands of the people.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA. For a while my agent and I thought it was a Middle Grade novel, but an enlightening talk by  (and later with) the wonderful Lin Oliver helped me realize that it is actually a Young Adult novel (young YA, perhaps, but YA for sure.)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooh, that's a tough one. I'm really not up on young actors these days. I'll have to let a young person read it and let me know. I could picture John Hodgman as the main character's dad, though.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It is represented by the brilliant Ellen Geiger at the Francis Goldin Literary Agency. She has been a real advocate of this book, and has been very patient as I've gone through draft after draft that hasn't quite hit the mark. I'm hoping this draft will get her nod.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I started the novel in the second half of 2009, but didn't make much progress--I gave birth on November 22 of that year, and my mom took her own life on November 29; I was derailed creatively for quite some time after this. In 2011, I started Seed Bombs from scratch and wrote a draft during National Novel Writing Month; I have been trying to shape that raw material into something meaningful ever since.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can't think of any other books for young people that directly parallel Seed Bombs, but it does have a group of young activists like Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, and it explores environmental issues like The Carbon Diaries by Saci Lloyd.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See my second answer. :) I suppose the other main inspirations for this book are my love of food and my desire for a green and sustainable future.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has a life-changing strawberry, just like (but also very different from) my book Fruitflesh. :)

Thanks again to the three fabulous women who tagged me; I'll tag three fabulous women, in turn: Laraine HerringAlma Luz Villanueva and Rebecca O'Connor. Can't wait to read about your next big things!