Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pen on Fire: A Speakers Series, with Merrill Markoe

First, thanks to all who attended the Marty Smith event a week ago Monday night at the Newport Beach Tennis Club. Everyone I talked with said they enjoyed the night--meeting and chatting with writers--and loved hearing Marty discuss the writing process, writing for Orange Coast magazine, and writing essays.

Our next event on April 14 will be quite fun, and the night before Tax Day don't we all need a good laugh? Merrill Markoe will be our guest author. She's an Emmy winning former producer and writer from the David Letterman show, and now writes novels--funny novels that I love. She and I will be in conversation, she'll read from her work, and answer questions. And we'll hang out a bit, have a sip and chat.

The setting will be a bit more casual than the tennis club. The event will take place at a friend's spacious home in Corona del Mar, with easy free parking and view of the water. Seating is a bit more limited than it was at the Tennis Club, so don't wait too long to register. Once you register, the address will be sent to you.

Time: 7 - 9 (but can hang out a bit longer)
Cost: $15, include snacks, libation and cake of course. Feel free to forward this email to your literary friends. ($16 via PayPal.)

Looking forward to seeing you again...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kim Addonizio and Jim Tomlinson

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Kim Addonizio, author of Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within and Jim Tomlinson, author of Nothing Like an Ocean: Stories.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: March 25, 2009)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sara Davidson

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Sara Davidson, author of Cowboy.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: April 13, 2000)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Stephen Lovely and Thomas Robisheaux

Marrie Stone interviews Stephen Lovely, author of Irreplaceable, and Thomas Robisheaux, author of The Last Witch of Langenburg.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: March 18, 2009)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pen on Fire: A Speakers Series features Merrill Markoe on 4/14

Join Merrill Markoe and me in conversation. Merrill is a novelist and former David Letterman show comedy writer and producer where she won a bunch of Emmys. More here. She's one of the funniest comedic novelists that I know. Her latest is Nose Down, Eyes Up. We'll talk, she'll read, then take questions. And hang around afterward to talk one-on-one with Merrill and the other writers in attendance.

This event will take place on April 14 at 7 p.m. Reservations are required as there's limited seating available. No walk-ins, please. The event costs $15 and includes light snacks. A full bar is available.

If you'd like to make reservations, please email me at barbara@barbarademarcobarrett.com. And feel free to pass this on to your friends.

If you’d like to get on the email list to be notified of future events, enter your email address below. (Please note that this is a different e-list than the one you see at left)

May 19: Carolyn See is author of Making a Literary Life, novels and memoirs. A generous, experienced, and funny author and sage.

June 6: Lisa See, daughter of Carolyn See and author of many bestselling novels. This will be a launch for her latest novel, Shanghai Girls.

Each event is $15, which includes light snacks.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Last night's event with Marty Smith

Marty was stellar as usual. He's one of the kindest editors I've ever worked with. This cake sports an image of his third crime novel. He spoke at length about writing essays and what makes an essay work. And we had a full house--a sell-out, actually. Thanks to all who attended.

Beth Kephart

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Beth Kephart, author of Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: September 13, 2000)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pen On Fire: A Speakers' Series in the OC Register

Here's a nice write up of the speakers series by Peter Larsen of the OC Register.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beth Kephart

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Beth Kephart, author of Nothing but Ghosts.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: March 11, 2009)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Amy Dickinson and T.C. Boyle

Marrie Stone interviews Amy Dickinson, author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville and T.C. Boyle, author of The Women.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: March 4, 2009)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Audio books

Here's a place to get free audio books and to volunteer to read, as well.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Ads from the '30s

For a good laugh on a Sunday, click here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Literary Orange

Here's an announcement from the event organizers. I'm on a panel on writing fiction, which takes place in the morning.

3rd Annual Literary Orange

Now in its 3rd year, Literary Orange, a premier Orange County literary event, comes to UCI for the first time on Saturday, April 4, 8-5 pm, at the UCI Student Center. Presented by the UCI Libraries and the OC Public Libraries, Literary Orange is an exciting day of substantive interactions with outstanding writers and fellow book lovers. Attendees have the opportunity to hear from an array of exceptional authors, have their books signed, ask questions, and learn about the writing process.

The event features keynote speakers Stephen Cannell, best-selling author and TV producer; Ron Carlson, award-winning author and UCI fiction program director; and Sandra Tsing Loh, writer, performer and radio commentator. Over 40 authors will participate on panels covering fiction, non-fiction, journalism, mystery, poetry, science fiction, romance, children's books, horror, food, graphic novels, memoir, and young adult.

Tickets are $75; $35 for students with I.D. (walk-in registration $85/$45). Admission includes all keynote and panel sessions, book sales and signings; as well as a continental breakfast, sit-down lunch, and afternoon snacks. Limited seating; registration is first come, first served. Information and registration forms are available online at www.literaryorange.org, or at all UCI Libraries and OC Public Libraries. For further information, or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, please call (949) 824.4651.

For those without html capabilities, information about the event can also be found in the Events and News section of the UCI Libraries Partners & Friends web site.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


After reading "Looking In," the essay I posted yesterday, one of my students asked me via email if I hadn't been afraid of writing it for fear of being judged, of exposing such a personal time in my life. She was even nervous to ask that question and said she would have never asked me in person.

I welcomed her question, but told her no, I wasn't afraid of others judging me, that it was a long time ago that I was writing about, before I remarried, before I had my son. No one's perfect, I said, and some of us are less perfect than others, so no, I wasn't afraid of what people would think of me. If we writers aren't writing the truth, then what are we writing?

That said, there are essays I will probably never write because they could expose more than the people I'd write about would want exposed. Those are experiences I may one day fictionalize, But essays, no.

I did worry a little about publishing "Looking In," worried that those I was writing about would become unhappy with me. In the end, I figured that the person who looked worse of all was me, and if I was willing to put me on the page, than everyone else would be fine. I was wrong, though, and I know that there is at least one person unhappy with me because of writing it.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Debra Gwartney and Sonja Lyubomirsky

Marrie Stone interviews Debra Gwartney, author of Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love and Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: February 18, 2009)

"Looking In"

This was pubbed in December in Orange Coast magazine.

Essays sometimes take a long time in coming. I started this piece many, many times over the years. Last year when I approached the topic again, it was time.

My students (and friends) often become frustrated when they write an essay, work on it, submit it and it's rejected. I can empathize. I hate rejection, and moreover, I hate it when I think a piece is ready, when I think I've worked on it all I can, and the editor either ignores it, and me, or sends a form rejection or a patronizing note that says he/she knows it will find a home somewhere. Just not there.

I don't know what to say. Sometimes editors are idiots (I'm an editor, so I can say that). And sometimes your piece just isn't ready. You don't know it at the time, or else why would you send it out?

Sometimes we are just so anxious to see our work in print. That anxiety can compel us to send something out before it's time.

But if an idea harasses you, won't leave you be, that's a good sign that you're not done with it and should work on it until you either place it or you become so sick of it you put each draft through the shredder.

The essay posted here was one that wouldn't leave me alone. It seems every year since the peeper came by my house, I tried to write the piece. After I wrote the current version and was going through old papers, I found drafts. Horrible drafts. Embarrassing drafts. But drafts nonetheless. I was compelled to write it and the draft had some good elements, but it wasn't ready.

And then, of course, not everyone will be happy. Some people will be very, very unhappy with you and your work. And that's regrettable and sad, but it should never stop you from writing and publishing something you're called to write and publish.

So much of writing and publishing is encompassed in persevering. No one is born a published writer.

I'm working on an essay now that I've brought out over the past few years and have worked on off and on. There's no telling whether it will ever see print. But I want to continue to want to work on it, and that's enough for me. I've learned to pay attention to those ideas and works in progress that bug me, that won't leave me be.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Martin J. Smith, our second author in the speakers series

Our second guest author will be Martin J. Smith and our event will take place on Monday evening, March 16, at 7 p.m. at the Newport Beach Tennis Club.

Marty is a journalist, novelist, and editor of Orange Coast magazine. His books include (with Patrick J. Kiger): "Oops: 20 Life Lessons from the Fiascoes That Shaped America" as well as "Poplorica: A Popular History of the Fads, Mavericks, Inventions, and Lore That Shaped Modern America."

He is also the author of three crime novels, "Time Release," "Shadow Image," and "Straw Men." Before taking the job at Orange Coast, he served as senior editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine.

Marty will talk about his writing process, and will also talk about writing for Orange Coast. He will focus on the essay: what makes a good essay and how to write "personal, yet universal." He'll have handouts, as well.

Cost for the event is $15, which includes light snacks. Seating is limited; no walk-ins, please. If you'd like to attend and want to mail a check, please email me at penonfire at earthlink dot net to make arrangements. Paypal is fine, too. Choose the email address: penonfire at earthlink dot net, and send $16 (includes $1 more for handling/fees).

The tennis club is located at 2601 Eastbluff Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660. Parking is free and easy.

Upcoming guests will include Carolyn See ("Making a Literary Life," "Handy Man") on Tuesday, May 19, and Lisa See on June 6; locations still to be decided but will be in the Newport Beach/Laguna Beach locale. If you'd like to reserve a seat for either one, please send $15 and indicate which you'd like.)

Judith Ryan Hendricks and Peter Craig

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett interviews Judith Ryan Hendricks, author of The Baker's Apprentice and Peter Craig, author of Hot Plastic.

Download audio

(Broadcast date: April 29, 2005)