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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Literary Jury Duty

Oh, what seven days can do! Last week at this time, I was stressing over putting on a really good event at A Different Light Bookstore--which turned out to be a blast. Thanks to all of you for coming and making it a success. Today, I start jury duty. I have to be at the courthouse by 7:30am. I'm not complaining, mind you. I'm actually looking forward to sitting there for a while, giving me the excuse to read or write for several hours.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Literary Restlessnessessess

I'd been dealing with restless nights, waking at 4am. I have a lot on my mind, including work and deadlines.

I have also been tossing and turning over my novels. Oh, I need to promote the published ones, oh, I've got to work on the new one.

My third book has been keeping me wondering. I think one of the reasons I kept starting it over is because I don't know what I am trying to say.

I went running this morning and I think the themes came to me. This book is about faith and disease. When plague comes, one's resolve eithers strengthens or weakens. I think of AIDS and how many people were put to the test, to become better Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Moslems. Many failed (and are still failing). There were those few, however, who gave hope.

This, I think, is what my third novel is about to explore.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Literary Hard and Soft

The soft, soft deadline for getting a draft done of my third novel was June 30th. Uh, I missed that one. The soft, hard deadline is July 30th. Hmmmm. I'm only on page 20.