Monday, December 31, 2007

Literary Plea

The last post of this year will be a letter that I received from the novelist John Morgan Wilson (pictured).

Dear fellow writers and readers:

Peace and joy to all in these troubled times.


Massive Internet used book sales are literally killing the careers of countless writers. We get no royalties or credit for these used books sales, and our publishers make no money from them. As soon as our hardcovers or paperbacks hit the market, the Internet booksellers start buying them up used and selling them very cheaply, and resell them over and over. Why should someone buy a new book when they can purchase a used hardcover for a fraction of the price? Used book sales, which reportedly now account for about 12 percent of the entire market, have eaten so deeply into our paperback sales that many of us no longer have our books published in paperback, myself included. Consider this: Recently, my first mystery, Simple Justice, turned up at Number 51 on the bestseller list for current gay men's mysteries. That's great, except that Simple Justice has been out of print for more than seven years, meaning these are all used book sales. After writing ten mysteries, I have more readers than ever but am only credited with my initial hardcover sales. Over ten years, as my readership has grown, my income from my books had declined by half, and my publishing contract is in jeopardy. And now these Internet used book sales are starting to eat into my hardcover sales, further threatening my ability to make a living as a writer. The Internet booksellers like to say that used books are a good way for readers to discover new authors. But most of those readers will simply continue to buy used books, so the offset is negligible. The Internet booksellers are killing the golden goose but don't care. Immediate profit is all that matters to them. The bottom line is, if you are buying used books on the Internet, you are seriously hurting the authors.

That's my message. May the new year be a good one for you and yours.

Cheers, John

John Morgan Wilson in Blood, the seventh in the Edgar Award-winning Benjamin Justice mystery series, is now out in hardcover. The eighth Justice novel, Spider Season, will be published next year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Literary Christmas

Is that a book contract I hear? Happy Holidays to all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Literary Incarnations

I saw Wicked. Brilliant. The musical (loosely) based on Gregory Macquire's novel "Wicked, The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," inspired from L. Frank Baum's "Oz" stories. I read Maguire's book and thought it, for lack of a better word, enchanting. It took some obscure mind to imagine the life of the Wicked Witch of the West. I found myself watching the musical thinking, that's not how it happened in the novel. However, I did find Maguire's endorsement of the musical comforting. The first act closed with a true showstopper. This video from the Tony awards doesn't capture the breadth of seeing it live.

I gotta say that Wicked is now up there with another favorite musical "Into the Woods." What both of these stories offer is the retelling of children's classics. There's something appealing to me about the darker sides of stories, a truly post-modern undertaking. In this video, you'll recognize some familiar characters.

What I loved about these stories was the beautiful handling of intense themes like oppression. Afterall, the Wicked Witch dealt with prejudice due to the color of her skin. This inspires her to become an animal rights advocate, freeing caged flying monkeys and a scared lion cub (who eventually becomes the Cowardly Lion). The song "Children Will Listen" from "Into the Woods" discusses the spreading of ideas and how they're passed onto generations.

I'm still not too sure if I'm going to see Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. There are some versions of stories that I'm satisfied with. (I saw the movie Hairspray, then the musical Hairspary. I don't have the time or money to see the movie of the musical Hairspray.) I was satisfied with the version of Sweeney Todd that I'd seen on PBS and on stage. In my mind, Sweeney Todd is a middle aged guy, kinda hefty. Not Johnny Depp in a fright wig.

I'm looking forward to seeing the musical version of The Color Purple. I'm curious. I saw the movie, loved the book, and wonder how the musical will do. I'm telling you right now: If there is a movie made of this musical, I'm not going to go see it. I'm not going to see the movie musical when I'd read the book, saw the movie and the live stage musical. That's too many incarnations for one lifetime.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Literary Dispute

I thought this was funny. I love the simulated kung-fu moves.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Literary Racism

This article appeared in the Washington Post. It was results of a new poll among African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. It also added thoughts on how people of color see each other. I found it interesting because it reinforces themes that I try to develop in my work. People have actually said that stories around race is a "Post" issue. We are post-racism, post-multiculturalism. I would love for this to be the case. However, I work in AIDS, a disease that strikes some of the most vulnerable populations in our country and the world. Let's face it: I don't think we'd be here--millions of people dead of AIDS--if we listened and respected one minority--gays.
Something that the article did mention is that these groups believed that we should be willing to put aside our prejudices and work together.

Read it here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Literary Stereotype

See these guys with their laptops at some coffee shop? Disgusting. Ever since I saw these dweebs show up at my caffeine watering holes, I'd give them dirty looks and wish they'd go back home with their techno gadgets. I thought they were pretentious ass wipes letting the world know they're working on the next big screenplay.

Well, today, I couldn't take writing in my apartment one more minute. Actually I wasn't writing in my apartment, which made me wonder if there was something to writing in a coffee shop. I packed up old Myrtle, my laptop's name, and we headed over to the Coffee Table, a joint about a block away. I ordered their Asian Chicken Salad and sat down to work. You know what? I came up with some pretty good pages, I think. Yes, there were about five other people in the place writing and I thought maybe it was this collective energy of writers trying to put things down on paper that helped me write. I mean, anything in a group harnesses power. (I meditate alone which is great, but meditating in a group has its own kind of greatness.
You might see The Coffee Table in the Acknowledgment section of my next book.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Literary Studio

I'll be teaching at the Writers Studio for UCLA Extension. It'll be for four days from February 7-8, 2008. What's so exciting about it for me is that I went to this very same event almost ten years ago. It's fantastic to return to this as an instructor. I loved spending four intense days writing, writing, talking about writing, then writing some more. I'll be focusing on "Characters and Dialogue."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Literary "Journey"

I have these personal essays bottled up in me. Some day, I want to get to them after I write my third novel, a collection of short stories, and a new solo show. I think about that time of coming of age. I want to write about the music that I listened to. I just read from the Thai Crackhead known as Prince Gomolvilas that the band Journey, whose Escape album was part of my development, recently announced their new lead singer...and he's Filipino. They found him on You Tube of all places.

From the Journey Website:

(Oh, the Noel referred to in the press release is not me.)

December 5, 2007 -- After much speculation…the wait is finally over. JOURNEY--Neal Schon (guitar), Jonathan Cain (keyboards), Ross Valory (bass), Deen Castronovo (drums)--is proud to introduce fans all over the world to their new lead singer, Arnel Pineda (“pin-eh-da”). He replaces Jeff Scott Soto, who parted ways with the band earlier this year after stepping in for Steve Augeri, who had to leave the band in 2006 for medical reasons.

Arnel hails from Quezon City in the Philippines and has been singing Journey songs--in addition to original material--with his band, The Zoo, for the past couple of years in clubs all over his homeland. Joining the legendary band is a dream come true for him. “It’s so exciting to sing with one of the best bands in the world. It’ll be a lot of hard work on my part and I’m actually looking forward to the scrutiny I’ll get from the hardcore JOURNEY fans. I know they’ll expect me to sound exactly like ‘the voice’ (Steve Perry), but that will never happen. I know there's only one Steve Perry in this world.”

When it was time for JOURNEY to look for a new lead singer, the internet came to their rescue. Guitarist Neal Schon wanted someone new to the music business, so he turned to YouTube. After finding Arnel singing “Faithfully,” he knew he had found the perfect frontman.

“I was frustrated about not having a singer,” explains guitarist Neal Schon, “so I went on YouTube for a couple of days and just sat on it for hours. I was starting to think I was never going to find anybody. But then I found The Zoo and I watched a bunch of different video clips that they had posted. After watching the videos over and over again, I had to walk away from the computer and let what I heard sink in because it sounded too good to be true. I thought, ‘he can’t be that good.’ But he is that good, he’s the real deal and so tremendously talented. Arnel doesn’t sound synthetic and he’s not emulating anyone. I tried to get a hold of him through YouTube and I finally heard from him that night, but it took some convincing to get him to believe that it really was me and not an imposter.”

Arnel Pineda picks up the story: “My friend Noel picked up the message on YouTube and told me it was from Neal. I thought it was a hoax so I ignored it. Noel said, ‘what if it really was Neal and he wanted to offer you the chance of a lifetime?’ So I e-mailed Neal back and the rest is history.”

“Arnel brings a soulful and passionate voice to JOURNEY,” continues keyboardist Jonathan Cain. “His personality is very well-suited to our music. He’s a sincere, authentic person with a great smile and a big heart. I think fans are really going to love him. With Arnel’s soaring tenor, Journey returns to our heritage sound.”

Schon agrees, “We feel reborn. I think there’s a lot of chemistry between the five of us. At first we were going to go into the studio and just write 4 songs, but now it’s escalated to a lot of great new and diverse material. The stuff sounds tremendous. Everyone’s so stoked about it. We feel very fortunate to have found Arnel.”

JOURNEY is currently working on a new album with legendary producer Kevin Shirley, which they hope to release by spring/summer 2008. Details will be announced early next year.

More in this Rolling Stone article.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Literary 3D

I finally saw the stunning Beowulf in 3D--Amazing! I didn't understand why no one had thought of bringing this epic English story to the screen before. What amazes me is that the original author of the story is unknown--who the hell wrote Beowulf?!?! I believe it was penned sometime in the first millenium. I doubt that the writer of Beowulf could have ever guessed that his (or her?) story would be enjoyed by those living in the third millenium.

On a side note, as I watched the movie, caught up in the troubles of fighting the first antagonist Grendel, I kept thinking of the Philippines' version of America's Next Top Model. Ur, the show is called Philippines' Next Top Model. The winner of the show is a lovely Filipina named...Grendel. What were her parents thinking naming their daughter after a legendary monster? (Grendel below)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Literary Sewing

When the writing gets discouraging (I can't think about these characters anymore!) or work gets hectic (Why am I the only one working on this project?!?!?), I have to clear my head. I sew. I started sewing several years ago and then I stopped when my dad died. I pulled out the trusty sewing machine not too long ago when friends said that I looked stressed out. Sewing calmed me down.

I began to sew out of necessity. Often pants are kinda long for these legs of mine. Having someone hem them for me was a fortune ($8 for one leg, one seamstress told me. As if I'm only going to hem one pant leg.). I'd want to buy bedding or curtains and couldn't believe how much that sh*t costs. I'm no genius, but aren't duvet covers and pillowcases nothing more than two sheets sewn together? Aren't curtains nothing more than long pieces of cloth attached to a rod? I could do that, I thought.

I went to Target and invested a hunrid dollars in a Singer and off I went. It was one of the best investments I'd ever made. I made curtains and bedsheets and hemmed clothes. I tell all my friends to learn how to sew. It'll empower you! I didn't take classes, I just read the instructions that went with the machine.

Lately, I'd been dealing with my writing frustrations by cutting up clothes and putting them back together again. I'm a big thrift store rat. I bought these dollar blazers. I bought a footbal jersey, an old t-shirt with a boxing motif, and a red sweat jacket with a hood. Each a dollar. I cut off the number 13 from the jersey and attached it to one blazer. I cut up the boxing t-shirt and ripped off the hoodie from the sweat jacket and sewed them onto another coat. Two new blazers that no one else has, all for $5. I had the coats dry cleaned--the dry cleaning cost more than the materials!

Afterward, I felt more refreshed. I returned to writing or to my job. I reveled in the fact that I took out my frustration on a cheap endeavor that allows me to be creative AND better my wardrobe.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Literary Black Friday

You don't wanna be these guys. They're Cory and Justin and they just worked the last shift at Skylight Bookstore on Black Friday. BF is considered the busiest shopping day of the year. You can tell from the smiles on their faces, how they feel about it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Literary Gay Books Become Straight Stories on Screen

Remember Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? It was a nonfiction book written by journalist John Berendt. I knew the author was gay because of the sensibility of the book. The gayness of the journalist was a non-issue, but it wasn't inconsequential either. His sexuality was omitted from the movie.

Well, now there is a movie called Martian Child. I thought that title sounded familiar. Then I remembered that Martian Child by David Gerrold and my first novel Letters to Montgomery Clift were finalists for the Lambda Literary Award in 2002. (The winner was At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O'neil.)

Martian Child is a novel about a gay dad who adopts a kid. Um, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I understand the gay identity part was left out of the movie. Ironically, John Cusack (above) played the lead in both movies. Maybe John Cusack has a straight, but underlying gay sensibility about him.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Literary Bombing

On March 5, 2007, a car bomb exploded on Mutanabbi Street, the lively center of Baghdad bookselling, filled with bookstores, cafes, and book stalls. 30 people were killed; more than 100 were wounded. Join poets and writers to memorialize this wounding of Baghdad's literary and intellectual heart.

Mon, Nov 19, 7 PM
“Memorial Reading for Mutanabbi Street”
Chris Abani, Beau Beausoleil, Laila Lalami, Suzanne Lummis, Majid Naficy, Marisela Norte, Sholeh Wolpé,and Terry Wolverton with a special musical performance by the Saadoun Al-Bayati Ensemble, music of Iraq.
Go to the Los Angeles Central Library and show your support. I'll be there.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Literary Mailer

Norman Mailer passed away today. He was a brilliant writer and a crochety old guy. He said things that only Mailer could get away with (like bashing Pulitzer Prize winning critic Michiko Kakutani for not reveiwing enough books by straight white men in the New York Times). I saw him speak at a bookstore many years ago. He seemed like he'd live forever. With his writing, he certainly will. Click here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Literary Men of Mystery

Last Saturday, I participated in Men of Mystery, a whole day event in Orange County. There were roughly 50 authors there. 500 people attended to have lunch and interact with authors working in the Mystery, Crime, Thriller genre. My second novel "Talking to the Moon" was about the aftermath of a hate crime. This was enough to warrant an invitation to this amazing day. (Well, support from masters of the genre like James Ellroy, Eddie Muller, and Naomi Hirahara didn't hurt either)

I didn't know what to expect, but I had never been so "on" at a literary event. From the moment I got there (8:30am) till I left (4:30pm) I was constantly interacting with people. There was a bit of of a please-buy-my-book-please-please-please feel to the event. I have to say that these mystery writers are a different brood from those working in literary fiction. First of all, the mystery writers are the most outgoing bunch of people you'll ever wanna meet. It seems that this genre is just as much personality as it is writing. And second, they all seemed to have a great sense of humor. Unlike sullen literary writers that I know, these guys were having a good ole time. And I got caught up in it.

New York Times Bestselling writer Vince Flynn (pictured) gave a talk. He discussed how he self-published his first book, hand sold it until it became number one in the twin cities. From there, he's been flying ever since. Thus far, both presidents Clinton and Dubya Bush have read his work and are apparently quite impressed with his attention to detail--perhaps too much detail on how America spies on others.
What made me laugh was that Flynn talked about "The Secret." He is not the type the person who believes that good things will happen just becuase he thinks it. Indeed, he usually thinks the worst things will happen and hopes that it won't. Here's to negative thinking and hoping for the best--uh, which sounds closer to the way I think.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Literary First Names



Find out these people's last names and what the hell they'll be doing this November 7 at 7:30:
It's usually packed, so come EARLY.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Literary Witch and Hook

Some of you requested a pic of me in costume. That's me as Hook, posing with my friend Nancy. Those of you familiar with Los Angeles pop history, may know the witch as Atomic Nancy. She used to run Little Tokyo's Atomic Cafe, which was a gathering place for the punk scene back in the day. Nancy has had the pleasure of serving noodles to people like David Bowie and Debra Harry. She used to have a dish on the menu called Go-go chicken. She said that's how the band The Go-Go's got their name, from eating at her restaurant.

The Atomic Cafe had been mentioned in several literary works documenting life in LA in the 70's and early 80's. Recently, Atomic Cafe was described in Janet Fitch's latest novel "Paint it Black."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Literary Hook

For Halloween, I chose to be a literary villain. I will be Captain Hook from JM Barrie's classic tale "Peter Pan." I began to think about what Hook means to me and why I chose this persona. In Peter Pan, also known as "The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up," Captain Hook lost his hand because of Pan. Hook replaced his missing appendage with a hook; thus, his name. An alligator ate the hand and found it delicious, so tasty, in fact, that the alligator followed Hook hoping to eat more of him. Fortunately, for Hook, the alligator also swallowed a clock and Hook knows that the alligator is approaching when he hears ticking.

I'm nearing forty. I wondered if my need to be Hook is my inner most self experiencing aggression toward youth, symbolized by Peter Pan. The tick-tock of the alligator is a constant reminder of my eventual demise. By being Hook this Halloween, I wondered if I'm becoming that crochety old fellow who mutters cliches like, youth is wasted on the young? Is my psyche telling me that I am aging, left battled-scarred, parts of me eaten by time and left with a sharp left hook to show for it?

Or did I choose to be Hook this Halloween because Pirates are really big this season and I got caught up in the hype? Maybe I chose to be Hook so I have an excuse to wear a wig, ruffles and a big hat!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Literary Peony

Some time ago, I mentioned that I was up for a literary award with the Southern California Independent Book Association. The nominees included TC Boyle, Salvador Placencia, Lisa See, me, and the legendary Ray Bradbury.

The awards dinner was on Saturday. The award went to...Lisa See for her novel Peony in Love. Congrats!

It was a most enjoyable evening. It was at the Biltmore in downtown. Many authors were gathered for dinner at 6pm., then we were asked to mingle with the booksellers, then table hop while the booksellers had thier dinner.

We were ordered to be nice to the booksellers. We were told one story of an author who yelled at a bookseller from Booksoup in West Hollywood. The store pulled the author's work from their shelves. Alas, I'd heard this story in different forms. I heard of one store pulling a rude author's book and telling customers that her work was no longer in print. Ouch! Always be nice to the bookseller.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Literary Outing

I couldn't help but post this. Guess what? Dumbledore is gay, gay, gay!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Literary Spaciousness

Last night we celebrated our 20th anniversary at work. It was a joyful, sucessful evening. I woke up this morning feeling absolute relief. The writing of my novel had been difficult the last few weeks. My mind mostly focused on the anniversary gala. Squeezing in 20 minutes to work on the novel was hard. This morning, I got up and wrote on the new book for a good hour. I felt a part of my brain had been released, spaciousness grew and I was able to imagine again.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Literary Lessing

The big literary news of the day is that Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize in Literature. At 88, she is the oldest person to do so. Congrats, Ms. Lessing!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Literary Scripting

I'm tossing and turning on how to make my third novel work. I'm not freaked out about it. I just know that this is part of the novel writing process. I get frustrated about what happens next, then suddenly in the midst of rush hour traffic it all becomes clear.

I'm also heavily involved in planning the 20th anniversary gala for the nonprofit I've been with for 14 years. Here's a sample of other writing that I'm doing. It's part of the script for the eveing. The following is what our host Amy Hill will say at some point in the evening:

"Before we serve dinner, I want you to know that we have an evening of dance and laughs in store for you. An amazing dance company will be performing for you soon and so will Dat Phan, Winner of Last Comic Standing. Enjoy dinner!"

Not exactly art, I know, but it's keeping the writing muscle very much alive.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Literary Gulp

I spent Sunday at the West Hollywood Book Fair. Always fun. I enjoy running into people I don't run into except for a literary gathering like this one. Some writers that I hadn't seen in awhile include Meghan Daum, Jenoyne Addams, Michael Datcher, Eduardo Santiago, and Frederick Smith.

Some observations:

1. There was a green room for authors. At one point Gore Vidal entered. It was a bit of a shock to see him in a wheel chair. I know he's over 80, but I was still taken aback. I smiled thinking that I'm in the same room as Mr. Vidal.

(Several years ago, I was selling books on behalf of Skylight Bookstore. It was for a Gore Vidal event and I sat next to him while he signed books. I heard a low, gravelly voice say, "Shurley. Shurley, don't forget this." I thought: I KNOW that voice! I looked up and it was Faye Dunaway.)

2. I noticed that on some panels Authors would hog the time talking about their own books, instead of discuss the overall topic presented to the panel. I'd think, Geez, shaddup already!

3. I would have to say the most memorable time was when Actress Eva Marie Saint (below) sat at my table in the Greenroom. I gulped. I couldn't move. She starred in the movie Raintree County, along with my muse Montgomery Clift. I don't get gaga over actors, but when they shared a screen with Monty--whoa! Before I could say something, I was shuttled off to my first panel. Having a brush with one of Monty's leading ladies will have to be enough for me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Literary Slate

Congratulations to the new Macarthur "Genius" Fellows, individuals who'll be getting lots of cash for the work that they do in science, art, etc. Among the recipients this year were several writers. I often wonder how the heck do I get one of those things? They don't have an application process. They just find people and give it to them. I've known some of fellows--brilliant guys--but there are lots of brilliant people who don't get them. So, how does one get a coveted $50,000 grant out of nowhere? Well, did some comparisons. Um, it appears my chances of getting one doesn't look good.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Literary Weho

The West Hollywood Book Fair is this Sunday, September 30. Go! Go! Go!

I'll be on two panels at 1pm and 3pm.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Literary Open Door

My former editor Don Weise is doing this project. Spread the word. As you may know, we lost generations to AIDS, the gay community was particularly hit hard. We lost tons of artists, including writers. The Open Door Project is an attempt to make up for lost words.

The Open Door Project 

A five-day publishing introduction intensive in New York City-- including a series of lunches with literary agents, book editors, and other publishing figures, a public reading, and a private cocktail reception with New York's writing community will be awarded to the winner of the first Open Door Project fiction competition. The contest is open to gay men writing fiction with queer content who have not yet published a book of fiction. Accommodations and transportation will be provided to an out of town winner. Judges include Christopher Bram, Alexander Chee, Samuel R. Delany, Dennis Cooper, Robert Gluck, E. Lynn Harris, Scott Heim, Andrew Holleran, David Leavitt, Stephen McCauley, Dale Peck, and John Weir.

Submit stories or stand-alone novel excerpts of up to 8,000 words by March 1, 2008.

The winner will be announced June 08. There is no entry fee.

Submissions should be mailed to: Don Weise, Open Door Projectc/o Oscar Wilde Bookshop15 Christopher StNew York, NY 10014

Friday, September 14, 2007

Literary Hero

In the latest issue of IN Los Angeles, there's an article that I wrote on movie producer Perry Moore. Moore recently penned a young adult novel featuring the first gay teen super hero. Check it out:

Monday, September 10, 2007

Literary Postcard

Don't forget. This Wednesday, September 12 at 7:30pm. A Different Light Bookstore in West Hollywood. Thanks to Steven Reigns for putting together this postcard. Good looking bunch, don't cha think?

Friday, September 07, 2007

Literary Wrinkle

Author Madeleine L'Engle passed today at 88. She wrote many books, including "A Wrinkle in Time."
"Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth." -Madeleine L'Engle

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Literary Lamott

Armistead Maupin said Anne Lamott is the only Christian he liked. I heard Ms. Lamott speak years ago. She was simply brilliant. Her book on writing, Bird by Bird, is one of those books you simply must read.

If you have the chance to catch this woman speak, do!

There was a fuss over an appearance she was going to make on September 19th. Read on:

Fans of Anne Lamott in Omaha have rallied to secure an appearance by the author in the wake of an abrupt cancellation by local Jesuit institution Creighton University. The school had invited Lamott long ago for a paid appearance on September 19 as part of their annual Women and Health Lecture Series, and an overflow crowd of 1,200 had already signed up to attend.But a group of local Catholics "deluged" the Omaha Archdiocese with phone calls and e-mails earlier this month in protest over Lamott's personal views on assisted suicide and abortion.

Creighton officials had already asked Lamott if she would "stay on topic" with the theme of lecture series, according to her lecture agent Steven Barclay, and she had reassured them that she "didn't need to be a spokesperson on [the controversial] topics." (Lamott indicated the same directly to the Omaha World-Record.)

Nonetheless, Creighton decided to cancel the engagement--after first asking if Lamott would back out, but Barclay indicated that she never cancels a booking. Lamott also declined to keep the lecture fee that was owed to her. Creighton spokesperson Kathryn Clark told the local newspaper, "We have decided that the key points she makes are in opposition to Catholic teaching. That makes her an inappropriate choice."

Despite whatever local pressure was brought to bear on Creighton, there was equal if not greater support for having Lamott appear. As Barclay notes, "She's a real galvanizing force in the progressive Christian movement. Those people were outraged and I think rightfully so." Rev. Nancy Brink of Omaha's North Side Christian Church quickly organized a coalition of six local churches, which has secured a larger 2,000-seat venue where Lamott will now speak on the same day.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Literary Codger

I spent part of the weekend in San Diego with the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association's (NGLJA) National Conference. I sat on a panel on how to get a book published. My panel was filled with lively characters like Agent Dan O'Connell at the Strothman Agency, Comedian Bob Smith, writers Trebor Healey and Elizabeth Weise. I forgot how popular "How To" panels can be, particularly in trying to get a book published.

At the conference, was activist and author Larry Kramer. I went to see him speak. He's an asshole to some and a tough saint to others. This was the man who started AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP). He's a self professed "old codger." Love him or hate him, he moved AIDS education and treatment forward ("AIDS is not a disease, it's a plague!) and fiercely advocated for gay and lesbians ("We're not a community; we're a population). He maligned sacred gay instituions like the Human Rights Campaign for not doing enough. He even bit the hand that fed him. A representative from the NGLJA thanked him for coming--Larry Kramer said, "How dare you not pay for my plane ticket!"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Literary Counting

An AP-Ipsos poll about reading habits has spawned an assortment of news stories. In one angle, among those who read books last year, seven was the average number of books read. But 25 percent of adults surveyed said they didn't read any books last year. (It's not clear if the poll waslimited to literate adults or not--an important factor since we onlyhave a 70 to 75 percent literacy rate to begin with.)

The Guardian notes, "of those who did read, women and retirees were the most avid readers, and religious works and popular fiction were the top choices. The median figure for books read - with half reading more, half fewer - was nine books for women and five for men.... People from the West and Midwest are more likely to have read at least one book in the past year. Southerners who do read, however, tend to read more books -mostly religious books and romance novels - than people from other regions."One in five people read romance novels, and women read more of every category of book than men except for history and biography.

The survey also found that fewer liberals and moderates are non-readers (22percent) than conservatives (34 percent). Which led AAP president PatSchroeder to shoot her mouth off in rather unfortunate fashion: "TheKarl Roves of the world have built a generation that just wants a couple slogans: 'No, don't raise my taxes, no new taxes,'" Schroeder is quoted."It's pretty hard to write a book saying, 'No new taxes, no new taxes, no new taxes' on every page."Actually, though, the survey found moderates read the least (liberals average nine books, conservatives eight, moderates five). Which may say something about the books available as much as the political inclinations. Threshold founder Mary Matalin remarked, "As head of abook publishing association, she probably shouldn't malign any readers.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Literary Continuation

My heart skipped a beat when I heard that part of a West Hollywood block was on fire. This block included A Different Light Bookstore. Thankfully, there was minimal damage and they're still open. Whew!

Here is information on the series that I'm curating at A Different Light:

The Promising Series is the only reading series in Los Angeles that exclusively features Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender writers. A goal for the series is to celebrate established writers and introduce the next generation of writers that will explore the GLBT experience. The second reading will be held on Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 7:30pm.

“The first reading in July was packed with people,” said series coordinator Noel Alumit. “It really showed me that there was an incredible literary need out there that had to be met. I hope the second reading is just as wonderful!”

The September 12th reading will feature:

Eloise Klein Healy, the Founding Chair of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles and Distinguished Professor of Creating Writing Emerita, is a Guest Poet at the Idyllwild Summer Poetry Festival. Healy is co-founder of ECO-ARTS, an eco-tourism/arts venture and founding editor of ARKTOI BOOKS, an imprint of Red Hen Press. Her collections Passing and Artemis In Echo Park were both finalists for the Lambda Book Award. Her newest title, The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho, is from Red Hen Press.

Gabrielle Calvocoressi is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, a Jones Lectureship in Poetry at Stanford University and a Rona Jaffe Woman Writers' Award. Her first collection, The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart (Persea Books, 2005), was shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and won the 2006 Connecticut Book Award in Poetry. She lives in Los Angeles and currently teaches in the MFA program at California College of Arts in San Francisco and in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College.

Steven Reign’s debut collection of poetry and short-short fiction, Your Dead Body is My Welcome Mat, was published in 2001 and has been followed-up with two chapbooks, Ignited and Cartography. Reigns served as Literary Director of The Center in Tampa for two years before recently relocating to Los Angeles. He has been selected as a 2008 recipient of the Los Angeles County Artist In Residency Grant, a project to teach free poetry workshops to GLBTQ seniors.

Sheila Traviss has been published in the anthology Bedroom Eyes, the Sun magazine and the collection Love Knots. Her screenplay, The Price Is Hope, and her one hour drama, The Block, have been optioned for development. She has written for the comedy show, Out There; was a writer/performer with the Groundlings Theatre and her one-woman show, Tribes, was produced in Los Angeles and off-off-Broadway. Sheila’s novel, Dreamwriter: Madison Mavis is making the rounds of publishers and giving her an ulcer. She is currently working on her second novel and pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at Antioch University.

Noel Alumit wrote the novels Letters to Montgomery Clift and Talking to the Moon. He wrote and performed the solos shows The Rice Room: Scenes from a Bar and Master of the (Miss) Universe.

The Promising Series will take place on Wednesday, September 12 at 7:30pm. A Different Light Bookstore, 8853 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069, (310) 854-6601.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Literary Skylight

Most of you know that I host events at Skylight Bookstore. Well, they just started their own blog:

And I'll be contributing. Oh, and that's our famous cat Lucy sleeping in the display window.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Literary Nudge

My agent called me this week. I've said this before: I think he's just great. He wanted to know how my third novel is coming along.

I told him that I printed out a draft and I'm reviewing it. He'd like to see something soon. He gave me some advice. He thinks I should settle down, find a nice guy. I'm too social when I'm single. If I'm married, I'll buckle down...and write.

I really do respect his advice. I guess I have to go out more and find a dude to call my own.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Literary Cities

A librarian friend of mine e-mailed me this link listing the most literate cities in America. It's interesting that the East Coast did not dominate the top ten. Ur, my city of Los Angeles made number 57...out of 70 cities.

The Top Ten

1. Seattle, WA

2. Minneapolis, MN

3.5. Atlanta, GA

3.5. Washington, DC

5. St. Paul, MN

6. Pittsburgh, PA

7. Cincinnati, OH

8. Denver, CO

9. San Francisco, CA

10. Portland, OR

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Literary Macarthur Park

A week ago, I did a workshop for Smartgals. It was held in Macarthur Park. I wrote a piece on the area not too long ago, discussing the park and its relationship to the Filipino community. Mucho festivals celebrating Filipino culture was held at the park and General Macarthur made his famous "I shall return" speech regarding his vow to help free the Philippines from the Japanese in World War II.

The famous Donna Summer song "Macarthur Park" with the famous line "Someone left the cake out in the rain" was written by Jimmy Webb about an apparent break-up in the park in the 1960's.

Somewhere in the late 1970's and 1980's Macarthur Park began to turn from a family environment to one most associated with drug deals, murder, and other mayhem. Without getting into details, I feel I contributed to the mayhem in my reckless youth. If I could ever say sorry to a neighborhood, I would. And that's what's happened when I did the writing workshop there. When I lent my creativity to the environment and the people in my workshop, I felt like I was apologizing for my reckless days. The amends will certainly continue, but it felt good that I was adding to the healing of the area somehow.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Literary Gore

During a late night You-Tubing fit, I came across this video interview with Gore Vidal, a brilliant writer. It's about his contempt for TV journalists and an inside take on what the rich and powerful feel about us. He says he's been around the "ruling class" and he knows their contempt for ordinary Americans.

Take a gander:

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Literary Smartgals

Come and check out a free writing workshop that I'm doing on August 7th. It's being done by Smartgals and it's inspired by Suzan-Lori Parks goal to write a play a day for a year. There are other workshops on different nights. It should be the happening place.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Literary 136

If you take a look at earlier posts of this blog, beginning in August 2005, you'll see that I started blogging about writing my third novel. Here we are two years later and I think I have something of a draft. 136 pages of mish mosh vomit.
I know its nowhere near done, but it was nice to feel the pages in my hands. It stopped being this shapeless being in my computer. It might actually be something.
I promise to you, dear reader, that I'll have a second draft by August 31st. Maybe by the end of the year, I'll have something worth sharing with others.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Literary Tabloid

I could care less about reading about Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, or Britney Spears. Jennifer, Brad, Angelina? I don't give a crap. But the secret, juicy lives of writers? Baby, I'm there!
It was recently revealed that Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler was dumped by his wife. She left him mogul Ted Turner.
"Elizabeth is Butler's wife of 12 years, Elizabeth Dewberry, 44, an author in her own right, who might be attracted to Turner, 68, because the media mogul resembles the grandfather who molested her as a child, Butler writes in the shocking e-mail."
Read about it:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Literary Ray

As a boy, I used to sit on my front porch and read. One summer I read "The Illustrated Man" by Ray Bradbury (right). One of my favorite books of all time is "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury. I have a picture of me and Ray Bradbury on my shelf (I went to a reading he did and waited in line to have him sign my Bradbury collection, books that he wrote that I treasure).

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association recently announced their fiction finalists for their annual awards dinner. The books include:

1. "Farewell Summer" by Ray Bradbury

2. "Peony In Love" by Lisa See

3. "Talk Talk" by TC Boyle

4. "Talking to the Moon" by Noel Alumit

5. "The People of Paper" by Salvador Plascencia

I am overcome that I am in the same category.

Take a look at other categories:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Literary Material

Okey-dokey. I write about The Philippines. I try to capture the darkness and light of my people. I write about the 1980's alot--my decade! Well. This video incorporates alot of that. It's been making the rounds of alot of Asian American blogs and sites, because it's incredible. In The Philippines, one of the ways that they get prison inmates in the city of Cebu to exercise is by choreographing classic dance numbers. Like this one, where the inmates dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller. There are over a thousand of them.
There's alot of literary material there.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Literary Mystery Presentation

Writer Naomi Hirahara (who recently won the pretigous Edgar award for her mystery writing; check her out, asked me to do a presentation for Mystery Writers of America. The presentation would be tips on doing a good reading. I host a few literary things, so I guess I made a good candidate present. I thought it might help some of you out there to see my notes.
My Presentation
Thank Naomi, for asking me to do this. I took this opportunity to do something that I’d been wanting do for a very long time: take a poll of other people who host or run readings in town and ask what they think.

I e-mailed seven colleagues some questions and asked that, if they have the time, please e-mail me back. Of the seven, five got back to me. They were Benjamin Weissman who conducts the reading series at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, Diane Leslie who has been hosting events at Dutton’s Brentwood for over twenty years, and Jawanza Dumisani who runs the reading series at the World Stage in Leimert Park. I also offered anonymity to the respondents, and two asked to remain anonymous.

Three do’s:
Your reading begins before your reading.
--Some of us are very protective of the readings. Who reads at our stores also represents our tastes. The coordinators like it when you’ve been to the reading series BEFORE you ask to do a reading. Peak your head in, see what it’s all about. Later you can say something like: Hey, I was here when Walter Mosley read and you guys did a great job. Develop those relationships with bookstores now.
--Ben Weissman said that he works very hard to keep his readings “ghoul free.”
--The coordinators have different ways about how to be contacted for a reading. Some would prefer an e-mail, others want to work directly with your publisher. Ask a store how they prefer to be contacted.
--Make sure the store has all your pertinent information: bio, photo, book description, etc.
--Do your own marketing.
Be there early, Be relaxed, Be kind, Be prepared.
--I asked my colleagues to describe a nightmare reading. Tardiness was a recurring theme. Get there early.
--One coordinator said, “I always appreciate when an author is respectful to all the staff involved, from the security to the custodian to the staff who assists with the booksigning to the curator. We really don’t appreciate diva behavior.”

--A well planned reading should be seamless,” said Jawanza Dumasani. “The reader should know what there reading and the order. They should engage the audience with eye contact as they move through the reading. They might share short comments relative to whats being read. I go through my readings in the mirror several days.”

--Don’t want to work with nervous authors who need to be comforted.

Remember Time
Some responses:
-The reading should last about 20-25 minutes with Q&A lasting another 20 or so.
--Diane Leslie alluded to the people, particularly elderly people standing. We use collapsible chair, so even when sitting it can get uncomfortable.

--Another good recipe: Solo reading 40 minutes, duos 25 each, cinco 10 min each, like that. How long should an entire event last, including Q and A? 80 sounds good, more or less.

--Many years ago, writer John Rechy gave me some good advice: tell the audience how long you’ll be reading for. The worst thing to hear at a reading: “My next poem is...”

--Last tip: Several of the coordinator said, WRITE WELL. Your work will be the foundation of your reading so, make sure your work is amazing.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Literary Potter

I just left the madness at Skylight Books where they'll be releasing the "last" of the Harry Potter novels. The store was swamped with kids awaiting the big reveal. I got into the spirit and wore a cape (appearing as a Dementor). I've never been a Potter reader, but I got a kick out of young people dying to read.

We had an event earlier in the evening. Jerry Stahl (Permanent Midnight) read from his new book, a collection of short stories. He said he's had to do a lot in his carreer. Reading before the JK Rowling novel was new to him though. He said, "I can't believe I'm being a fluffer to Harry Potter."

That was the highlight for me!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Literary Jury Duty; Part 2

It became poigantly clear to me--again--why I write. I'd been bothered with events from yesterday's jury service. It sat with me and I didn't know how to discuss it. I was lying in bed and I was pulled from bed by some unknown force to write this post.

Alot of us were assembled to possibly serve on a jury. The judge said he will excuse people who will suffer from SEVERE financial hardship by taking time to serve as a juror. He won't excuse people just because they were needed elsewhere. Working class joe behind me raises his hand and says he must help his father, a holocaust survivor, run the small family business. Joe says he is the only caretaker of his father and without him, his father can't run the shop. If he can't run the shop, there is no income. The judge decided that is not sufficient enough to warrant dismissal from jury duty due to severe financial hardship.

People he dismissed:

1. A woman who had vacation plans and already paid for the trip.

2. An independent casting director who needed to find work.

3. An attorney who has several cases pending and without his cases he has no income.

They are considered people who would suffer severe financial hardships, while a little enterprise, run by an old guy who can only do the job with the help of his caregiving son, Joe, is not. Hmmmmm. I wonder if the judge let 1,2, and 3 go because he can identiy with their plight.
We got back for more Jury selection on Tuesday.