Monday, October 7, 2013


The cover of HOLLOW CITY, the sequel to MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN was revealed today and it is beautiful!

Check it out here on Entertainment Weekly.

Congratulations Ransom Riggs!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


 Since Saturday, I’ve been devouring Alice Mattison’s IN CASE WE’RE SEPARATED (William Morrow 2005). The last collected story I finished is THE BAD JEW, one of those reach down your throat, grab your gut and punch it kind of epiphany stories. It felt amazing, that punch to the gut. Here is a passage:

I kissed him on the lips. Across the street, the house door was still open. I wanted to see someone come and close it. Waiting, in my mind I found a rough map of Greater Boston, with house doors open here and there Beyond Boston, all through New England, some people opened a door for Elijah. It was an intrinsically good act, I decided, to open a door, now and then, to Elijah. “Everywhere are Jewish people,” my grandmother used to say. In New York and New Jersey – my mind moved down the coast, omitting and then restoring Long Island- more open doors. If Elijah or anyone else cared to enter, that was temporarily possible. Eric, who stood behind me, flung an arm over my shoulder and across my body, so his elbow collided with my breast and his hand grasped my arm. “Come on,” he said, turning me around. We lingered a moment longer, while the door still stood open to the cold spring air, then climbed the stairs to the noisy dining room, where illicit cake had been served. Eric and I sat down to eat cake and praise God some more – God who could move the ocean aside, but mostly didn’t. (122-3)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One Band You Should Be Listening To Right Now: THE RAGGED JUBILEE

Band: The Ragged Jubilee

Album: American Moan

Best Song: Miss Me While I’m Gone

My husband and I worked Coachella this year in the Vestage Village. One of our customers that weekend, Chandler Haynes, sat down in our chair and told us about his band and how excited he was to play Coachella. Several excruciatingly hot hours later I heard this awesome band on the Vestage main stage and there was Chandler, freshly groomed and all. The band I heard is The Ragged Jubilee, and to the best of my knowledge, they remain unsigned.

Part folk part rock and roll with deep gritty bluesy vocals, each melody distinguishes itself from the rest while never quite leaving the sound of the album. Blood on the Highway and Miss Me While I’m Gone are heartbreaking, yet terribly exciting, songs about love and loss without being tedious and typical. Christopher Harrell’s cover artwork of American Moan matches the vocals on the album, subtle and light but still somehow magnificently haunting. 


Band: The Ragged Jubilee
Album: American Moan
Best Song: Miss Me While I’m Gone
Ethan Burns –Guitar, Harmonica, Lead Vocals
Chandler Haynes – Bass Guitar, Sitar, Vocals
Philip Wahl – Banjo, Organ, Vocals
Austin I’Anson – Electric Guitar, Vocals
Aaron Shane Wick – Drums, Percussion
D.M. Grivjack – Keyboards, Vocals
Backing Vocals- Zara Zaitz, Anicia Barefoot, Kelly Henning, Eva Napier
Pedal Steel- Skinny Larry

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review: ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline

ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline tells the story of Nieve/Dorothy/Vivian, an orphan train rider in 1929. After losing her father and brothers in a tenement fire, her mother to a mental institution, and her baby sister to adopted parents Nieve is on her own. After riding the "Orphan Train" from New York to Minnesota her first foster placement is with The Byrnes Family, who have no intention of having  a daughter. Instead, 7 year old Nieve, now called Dorothy, is used as an indentured servant; she sleeps on a cot in the hallway and sews in the workroom all day. The Byrnes become an unfortunate family for Dorothy, "Maybe because the alternative is so bleak, I've grown to like the sewing room" (106). But then, the stock market crashes and Dorothy is handed over to the Grotes where she is expected to perform as the mother and wife of the house, in more ways than one. She flees in the middle of the night, dead of winter, "leaving everything I possess in the world behind me- my brown suitcase, the three dresses I made at the Byrnes', the fingerless gloves and change of underwear and the navy sweater, my schoolbooks and pencil, the composition books Miss Larsen gave me to write in. The sewing packet Fanny made for me, at least, is in the inner pocket of my coat. I leave four children I could not help and did not love. I leave a place of degradation and squalor, the likes of which I will never experience again. And I leave any last shred of my childhood on the rough planks of that living room floor" (152). After the Grotes come Miss Larsen and Mrs. Murphy, theneventually the Nielson's.

Parallel to Nieve's story is that of Molly's. Herself an orphan, she has many similarities to Nieve. A 17 year old Indian and a 91 year old Irish widow; both have dead fathers and institutionalized mothers and both hold on to necklaces tying them to the remnants of a culture now far removed from them.

Author Christina Baker Kline tells that "In the process (of accepting her past) Vivian learns about the regenerative power of reclaiming - and telling- her own life story". The story is emotionally moving, and both narratives tie together seamlessly. The back of the book has a study guide, an interview with the author, and picture from the actual train riders themselves.

You can get ORPHAN TRAIN here and here. And you should.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Elephant Will Now Say a Few Words

It’s enough to make me sympathize with Roman Jakobson’s reservation about hiring Nabokov to lecture at Harvard: would you invite an elephant to teach Zoology, he asked.

This post by Askold Melnyczuk summarizes the pain of writing a summary. Please note; summaries are difficult! Its like having to sum your favorite child in one word. You know, just like on those "Information Sheets" at back to school night; "Anything you want us to know about your child?" Yes! Yes!  EVERYTHING!!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

National Book Awards - Fiction

The National Book Foundation released the longlist for Fiction today!

How many of these have you read?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What's to say (besides everything)?

"We all make our nods to the certifiable greats, but don’t we also keep a smaller shelf, unique, of the writers we feel are our very own—the writers who somehow got the curtain to part, the distance to collapse, putting us suddenly there? Whatever there that was, and is. And though it has been crusted over by the repetitions of habit and rendered so rare as to feel almost extinct by the incessant manufacture of rhetoric and solicitation, some vestige of the real, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “dearest freshness,” does survive. When I find it, I am finally brought to myself"

A fantastic post about fiction by Sven Birkets

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kindness is hard

"Because kindness, it turns out, is hard – it starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include…well, everything."

George Saunders's advice to graduates is fitting across the board...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sneak Peek Photos

Here is another sneak peek photo from a project Cory and I have almost completed. You are going to love it when it comes out! Like Faulkner said, "Civilization begins with distillation."


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Ok, first off, how awesome is the name Ransom Riggs? Let's just get that out of the way folks.

A few months ago I received a copy of Miss Peregrine's from Eric Smith over at Quirk Books. My initial thought was that the cover was fantastic; this coupled with the synopsis had me interested. One night, I came home to find my babysitting mom, slouched a thousand which-ways on my couch, five chapters deep. After putting the kids to bed she saw the cover, was curious, picked it up....and that was the end of that. She didn't even look up when I said hello.

So she took a copy home, and we read it at the same time. We talked about it all week. We had a blast!

The novel begins with our narrator, Jacob, discussing how it is his life became split into two definitive sections, before and after, thanks to his Grandpa Portman's seemingly crazy antics.

"My grandfather was the only member of his family to escape Poland before the Second World War broke out. He was twelve years old when his parents sent him into the arms of strangers, putting their youngest son on a train to Britain with nothing more than a suitcase and the clothes on his back. It was a one-way ticket. He never saw his mother or father again, or his older brothers, his cousins, his aunts and uncles. Each one would be dead before his sixteenth birthday, killed by the monsters he had so narrowly escaped. But these weren't the kind of monsters that had tentacles and rotting skin, the kind a seven year old might be able to wrap his mind around - they were monsters with human faces, in crisp uniforms, marching in lockstep, so banal you don't recognize them for what they are until it's too late." (21) But the place he escaped to isn't as safe as a twelve year old refugee would necessarily desire. And here, this is the place we get to hear the stories Grandpa Portman told Jacob. Complete with actual peculiar photos we meet tentacle mouthed villains, levitating young ladies, giant people made of shrubs, and a bird that cares for the lot of them.

Jacob doesn't believe his Grandpa's stories entirely, and one day Jacob's own father tells him that they are utterly nonsense; an old man's rubbish. So, "an air of mystery closed around the details of his early life" (22). Then a terrible accident befalls Grandpa Portman, with Jacob as the only witness, he realizes his Grandpa had hidden not only a secret life but also an entire secret world.

Check out this trailer-

You can get the book HERE and HERE. And you should.

P.S. Get the book NOW, so when the sequel comes out you can talk about it with all the cool kids!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crux Literary Journal

Check out one of my short stories, Four Weeks, out today with Crux Literary Journal.

You can read it HERE.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Thursday, my mother and I leave for London to visit my sister-in-law and niece. I CANNOT wait. The kids are all going on separate vacations with various grandparents (we need a flow chart for that one) so the house right now is in perpetual packing motion. Except Cory, who is staying behind to PARTAY LIKE A BACHELOR work. I have my list of must see sites, mostly (OK entirely) consisting of literary minded pubs, Harry Potter things, and canoodling that niece of mine.

London!  Be prepared!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Zadie Smith and her two children

"Are four children a problem for the writer Michael Chabon – or just for his wife, the writer Ayelet Waldman?"

Smith, who has two children, pours scorn on suggestion that a small family is the secret to success as a writer

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Copy Schmopy

16 Reasons Why Copy Editors Aren’t Always The Worst

"From stray typos to fact-checking, attention to detail is important as ever in this world that turns on a “need-to-know” basis. Communicating the right message is never an issue when you take just a little more time and Dare2GoDeep. These reasons for oversight prove that these soldiers of language are always essential."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Oh, Fury....You crazy thing, you!

Dear Fury #6: “Too often writers can fall into a bad pattern of circle jerking and that’s really unproductive for everyone.”

Tough Shit! Now, pass the snacks!

Monday, June 3, 2013

They Say

This video is a final project one of my students, Chase Kinsella, did this semester. I really enjoyed it, so I thought I would share. He is a film major, and I think we will hear his name again soon.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Like a Fox

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer's Liberation Front
By Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer. 

When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 

Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed. 

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest. 

Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. 

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years. 

Listen to carrion -- put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men. 

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth? 

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts. 

As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. 

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Eric Smith of Quirk Books sent me yet another fantastic book to review. And I do mean fantastic, as in fantastical. Quirk is quickly becoming one of my top tiered publishing houses. You should check them out. The Resurrectionist, by E.B. Hudspath immediately reminds me of Neil Gaiman. OK, maybe a mixture of Poe and Gaiman, which is a great thing. Everything from the wording to the layout stand out as strikingly different, in a good way. The Resurrectionist packs a punch, as it is actually two stories wrapped together in one book, complete with detailed illustrations. You get hell hounds, dragons, centaurs, and even sirens. But you also get the story of Dr. Spencer Black, spurned on by his grave digging fathers life lessons,  gives Dr. Frankenstein a run for his money, to be sure.

You can check out the book here at Quirk Books and you can get it here. Also, check out the authors webpage here.
In the meantime, here is a trailer (I love trailers!):

Thursday, May 23, 2013

When I am not reading or writing, I am gardening. I love it, for many reasons: clarity of mind, clarity of body, the ability to see results. Much like other things in life, if you put great amounts of effort into it and you are just plain kind and forgiving, you will yield results.

Which is why stuff like this makes me incredibly happy.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cheryl Strayed

"Attention is the first and final act of love, and the ultimate dwindling resource in the human arrangement isn't cheap oil or potable water or even common sense, but mercy...The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nick Hornby

"We can't be as good as we'd want to, so the question then becomes, how do we cope with our own badness?"
(Nick Hornby)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Who Reads This?!

If you ask my stats page, 32 visitors stopped by yesterday. WHO ARE YOU?!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

To: Tomie Depaola

My son wrote, illustrated, dedicated, and hand bound a book to Tomie Depaola last night.


Yep, thats right, he hand sewed that shit.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: Autobiography of Us by Aria Beth Sloss

Christine Choe over at Henry Holt and Company was kind enough to send me an ARC of Autobiography of Us, a debut novel by Aria Beth Sloss. Sloss catches the reader from the first line, "She died before her time" and holds their attention with her smooth prose and warmly developed main character, Rebecca.  Sloss, through Rebecca's re-telling of her childhood, includes the reader in her story, "You know how girls are at that age. We found each other like two animals recognizing a similar species: noses raised, sniffing, alert" allowing them to feel like a partner in crime.

In upper class 1960's Pasadena both Rebecca and Alexandra are successful young women in their own rights. They excel in the womanly arts; sewing, cooking, dancing and etiquette. But underneath the carefully constructed exterior both young ladies are struggling to become socially acceptable on their own terms. One falls in love with flashy red lipstick, short shorts and the theatre while the other sneaks in and out of the medical building, refusing to admit her true love is medical science and not the sweet redheaded boy down the street.

"She nodded. 'You're like me - you'd take a rat over a jellyfish any day. They're all rats or jellyfish. The trick is finding one who's just rat enough.'" 

"We ended up in a part of the city I'd never seen before, somewhere not far from the Golden Gate Bridge. The air when we climbed out of Lana's car was damp and heavy with salt; the breeze was surprisingly strong. I was glad to see the bridge through the fog, it's shape distinct even in the dark. But then I have always loved the sight of bridges - they seem to me to be one of the great miracles of human ingenuity, testament to the kind of vision I attribute to nothing less that true genius. I remember reading once that the architect for the Brooklyn Bridge became paralyzed just before construction began, that he was forced to observe the goings-on from his home in Brooklyn Heights: It seemed exactly right. You would have to be trapped in order to pull something off as magnificent as that, to believe so deeply, with such absolute conviction, in the possibility of such freedom."

One fateful night in the dark changes everything for Rebecca and Alex, and by the end of our story (for Sloss indeed makes it feel like our story too) everything you know of the two of them is turned upside down.

You can get a copy here. And you should.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway.  Oh Papa...

I wonder how many 6 toed house beasts trampled over his manuscripts?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Emergency Exit

Here is a great spoken word performance by one of my favorites, Catalina Ferro.

I hate that god damned row.