|In January and February, a few of us participated in Kate Hopper’s online workshop. As usual, it was very inspiring. Not only was it wonderful to read other members’ writing, but it kickstarted all of us into writing every week, even when we didn’t have time to write! We thought we would share one exercise that Kate set and what Mary Allison Tierney wrote in response.
Exercise: Three Scenes
|Every February, independent booksellers from across the county meet at the Winter Institute, an educational event for independent booksellers coordinated by the American Booksellers Association. Bookstores are allotted three spots and if you get to go, you consider yourself lucky. Copperfield’s Books sent me this year to the 10th annual event in Asheville, North Carolina and my head is still churning with great ideas. [Read More...]|
|Recently, I spent a few days at an informal writing retreat with a great group of fellow writing mamas. Armed with laptops and notebooks, we abandoned our families and descended on Mount Madonna Center-–an idyllic 322-acre property in the hills outside Watsonville in Santa Cruz County–to hang with deer and some folks participating in a tantric yoga workshop. (Bet my husband wishes I’d signed up for that one!) Perched above Monterey Bay and surrounded by a forest of redwoods, it was the perfect place to escape the distractions of everyday life, get some serious writing done, and bond with other writers.Mount Madonna offers a variety of workshops and retreats, including personal retreats you can tailor to your needs. The center is also a nice spot for a low-key, affordable family getaway for outdoorsy types. I know a certain 12-year-old who’d have a blast swimming in the small lake, soaring on the secret swing in the woods, and chasing the wild turkeys that roam the grounds. Guess I’ll have to go back with her one day. [Read More...]|
|The bathroom is alive with the sound of music at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I hear my five-year-old daughter’s voice coming from the bathroom attached to our master bedroom. The house is dark and she is standing in front of a mirror singing “My Favorite Things” as if she were Julie Andrews herself. I assume she has chosen this spot for the acoustics. She seems oblivious to the fact that the rest of us are still sleeping. [Read More...]|
|Dana’s husband Dave and her seventeen-year-old daughter Torey had invited a group of Dana’s friends, mostly other moms, to choose what we wanted from her closet. Lovely, sweet, fashion-loving Dana had died eight weeks earlier after fighting cancer for thirteen years.Her living room had been transformed into a boutique. Two rolling racks of hanging clothes stood by the window that overlooked the creek in their canyon backyard. One couch held piles of the rock-and-roll t-shirts Dana collected – Green Day, The Cure, Nirvana, The Ramones and about fifty more. The other couch had handbags lined up from end to end and another row lined the floor. Behind the couches, there must have been 100 pairs of shoes and boots. [Read More...]|
|Before the fresh start to the New Year started going a bit stale, I got a jump on things during the lull between Christmas and January 1. With no more presents to wrap, holiday feasts to prepare, and most of my clients out of town, I had plenty of time. Most of it I spent hiking in the glorious crisp weather we had following the deluges that brought green to the parched hills and a brief fantasy that our drought might be over. (It isn’t, but what’s the point of New Year’s if not hoping for things that will soon fail to materialize?) [Read More...]|
|He stands at the parking lot exit of the Safeway on the sidewalk. His brown hands shake continuously as he holds a simple cardboard sign that reads “HELP.” I’ve seen him there for about six months, not every day, but almost every other. He dresses well, in never-dirty presentable clothes. Sometimes his eyes are bloodshot, and sometimes the whites of his eyes set off deep brown orbs that look like they’ve seen a lot in their 60-plus years.
He stands across the street from my office sometimes for hours at a time, an empty or partially filled water bottle at his feet, maybe a small bag of groceries given to him by a generous passerby. Moved by his one word plea to help, I started giving him a dollar or two when I would see him. [Read More...]
|Janine Kovac, our fantastic program coordinator, has a wonderful piece airing on KQED Perspectives this week. To listen to it, click here. Or you can just read it below:So by the time I turned 19 and ticked off my 150th Waltz of Flowers, I’d had enough of “The Nutcracker.”Visions of sugarplums made me want to jab my eyes out with candy canes. I would have rather listened to Salvation Army bells ringing outside Macy’s than to Tchaikovsky’s Christmas-shopping soundtrack playing inside Macy’s.
Retired at the impossibly old age of 30, I figured I’d never have to listen to “The Nutcracker” again, especially if I did all my Christmas shopping online.
But “The Nutcracker” is like the Mafia; you never really get out.
It’s 8:00 am on a Saturday morning. “The Nutcracker” rehearsal. My husband is getting fitted for his cavalier costume. Our daughter is in the battle scene. Our four-year-old twin boys are in my Little Angel rehearsal. I’m still ready to jab my eyes out with candy canes, but evidently my parenting involves perpetuating the cycle of torture. [Read More...]
|Compiled by Marianne Lonsdale|
|Here’s Part Two of our favorite reads of 2014. This eclectic list includes literary fiction, memoir, short story collections, and a children’s book. We have a tie for books receiving the most votes (a young adult book and a novel). Add your favorites and thoughts in the comments below!|
|Favorites of Joanne Hartman|
|The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is hefty, almost 800-pages, but I couldn’t put it down as I was magically transported, along with main character Theo, to New York City, Las Vegas, and Amsterdam. I think that Stephen King said it best in his review in The New York Times: “The Goldfinch is a triumph with a brave theme running through it: art may addict, but art also saves us . . . Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction. That said, don’t drop it on your foot.”|
|Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart is a sweetly tender memoir about the immigrant experience, coming-of-age, and becoming a writer. I loved his novel Super Sad True Love Story so was curious to discover more about this smart and witty author with the impossible-to-spell last name. [Read More...]|
|Compiled by Marianne Lonsdale
In addition to writing, our members are avid readers. Here’s a list of some of our favorite reads during 2014. (Stay tuned for Part Two of our favorites, which will post soon – what book do you think showed up as the favorite of three of our members?)
Favorites of Vicki DeArmon
A dystopian novel that sidesteps the usual horror and despair of the genre as it follows a troop of roving Shakespearean actors and symphony musicians who put art above survival in a world stripped of the amenities of 21st century life. Shortlisted for the National Book Award. Beautifully told.
Captivating with its distinct joyful voice, it follows a Zimbabwean girl from her life among her band of friends – young toughs whose play incorporates the political upheaval around them – to her immigration to America and the alienation that follows.