Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dinah Lenney at TED

Memoirist Dinah Lenney was recently a guest author at the Pen on Fire Writers Salon here in Corona del Mar. She also just did a TED x USC talk. Here it is. I love TED. And I love Dinah.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Camille Noe Pagan & Janet Groth

Camille Noe Pagan talks to Marrie Stone about her novel, "The Art of
Forgetting," how journalism feeds her fiction, the discipline of writing
 with children, and the mysteries of brain injuries.  Janet Groth joins
in the second half, talking about her years working at The New
Yorker in her memoir, "The Receptionist: An Education at The New

(Broadcast date: July 11, 2012)

Litstack & Robert Olen Butler

Have you visited Litstack? Here's a cool review of Robert Olen Butler's writing book, From Where You Dream. Robert was on the show a couple of times talking about this book and talking about his newest novel.  Play particular attention to what the reviewer has to say about writing using the senses. As he says Chekhov says, don't talk about how the moon was shining; show it glinting on a piece of glass.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Sunday at Laguna Beach Books

This Sunday, July 22, my students from the Literary Posse and Writers Block Party and I will be reading from works in progress at Laguna Beach Books on Pacific Coast Hwy. in Laguna Beach. Join us at 4 p.m. for good words, good food, and good company, in one of the best indie bookstores anywhere, and it's free. Hope to see you then!

 Also, this just in from Sonia Marsh: Write a 1,000 word or less "My Gutsy Story" to be featured on my blog and each month the winner gets to pick a prize from our list of sponsors. The story is about something that either changed you, or made your life take a different direction. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Last night's event with Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins author

Jess Walter's new novel, Beautiful Ruins, has been out for a few weeks and doing great. Does he get no bad reviews? One writer present, Pat Kersey, commented that he never saw an author with such positive reviews. Here are a few photos from last night. Thanks to C.J.Bahnsen for most of the photos, and Travis Barrett for a few others. If you were present, please share what you remember about last night. If you want to hear the radio interviews I did with Jess, go to, enter "Walter" in the search box and both should come up.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Eva Gabrielsson & Carin Gerhardsen

Stieg Larsson's partner of 31 years, Eva Gabrielsson, talks with Marrie Stone about her memoir, "There Are Things I Want You To Know (About Stieg Larsson and Me)."  She shares her pain of his sudden loss, memories of their years together, and her intimate decision to share their story.  Carin Gerhardsen, author of the Hammarby Series, talks about her writing process, carrying a storyline across several novels, and her methods of sustaining a mystery and characters.  She is the author of "The Gingerbread House.  

(Broadcast date: June 27, 2012)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Joan Schenkar talks about writing biography and Patricia Highsmith

Joan Schenkar, biographer, playwright and author of The Talented Miss Highsmith, talks about writing biography and Patricia Highsmith on Writers on Writing. If you've read or seen The Talented Mr. Ripley or Strangers on a Train, then you know Highsmith's work, because she wrote both.  And Schenkar's biography is one of the best I've read.  It's a literary biography.  There's much to learn here about the form.

Download audio.

 (Broadcast date: June 20, 2012)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

More on rejection

Can there ever be too much to say about rejection? I pulled a book of essays off my shelf this morning, The Writing Habit, by David Huddle. I bought this book back in 1991 and have held onto it ever since because of the gems between the covers. This morning I read the essay, "Let's Say You Wrote Badly," in which Huddle compares baseball with writing. I love baseball so I kept reading. He talks about how baseball players deal with rejection, how there is no baseball pitcher who has ever not given up a home run or a batter who has not struck out.  I like this paragraph:

"And what more than failure--the strike out, the crucial home run given up, the manuscript criticized and rejected--is more likely to produce caution or timidity? An instinctive response to painful experience is to avoid the behavior that produced the pain.  To function at the level of excellence required for survival, writers like athletes must go against instinct, must absorb their failures and become stronger, must endlessly repeat the behavior that produced the pain."

Why do I like this paragraph so much? Because that's how it is: We writers keep repeating the behavior that produced the pain and sometimes we hit a home run, but too often we strike out.  But we keep playing, we stay in the game, because there's always the chance we'll score, and after all, we love playing.

There are so many other good essays in the book.  Grab one from wherever you can.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jess Walter, author of "Beautiful Ruins," on Writers on Writing

Jess Walter, author of the new novel, Beautiful Ruins, discusses his writing and work for the entire hour. I'm ecstatic that he will be a guest at the Pen on Fire Writers Salon on July 17, 2012. I loved his last novel, The Financial Lives of the Poets, and I'm reading The Zero now.  We have only a couple of seats left so if you're interested, act fast. More info here.

Download audio.

(Broadcast date: June 13, 2012)

Friday, July 06, 2012

Ha-va-ii, not Hawaii

A few days ago we came home after spending a week on the Big Island (Hawaii).  I don't know what I expected, exactly.  I've only ever been to Hawaii  on my way to someplace else.  At the Honolulu airport I walked outside, felt the humidity, and got back on the plane.

The Big Island is a geological marvel.  Spent Tues to Weds in the rainforest on the eastern side of the island and now my favorite color is yellow green / chartreuse / lime green because it's the color of the rain forest.  We walked in the rain to Akaka falls, a 400 foot or so waterfall, and it was so worth it.  I remember every inch of that walk.  I remember the startling shades of green.  There must be a million.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Don't write what you know

I'm finally catching up on my reading--sitting on a plane and traveling helps with that--and just got to this article by Bret Anthony Johnson. Love it. Take a look and tell me what you think. Do you agree with him?