Friday, August 31, 2012

Now reading

Dave Eggers: A Hologram for the King
Jay Kang: The Dead Do Not Improve
T.C. Boyle: World's End

Sign up for journalist and author Peggy Townsend's workshop at the Capitola Book Cafe!

Journalist and novelist Peggy Townsend says: "One of the most powerful tools at a writer’s disposal is the interview.Whether its purpose is for narrative non-fiction, biography or fiction,the interview is a foundation of great storytelling.  In this workshop we will study effective interview techniques — from how to ask tough questions to drawing information from reluctant subjects to the role of our own lives in productive dialogue.  We will do close readings of interviews such as Richard Meryman’s poignant last talk with Marilyn Monroe, Truman Capote’s ego-clashing session with Marlon Brando, and a serialized reconstruction of a century-old love affair as a way explore the elements of a good interview: preparation, persistence, flexibility, courage, and curiosity. In-class exercises will help the writer hone their listening and observational skills as a way to create compelling, dramatic story."

The workshop is Saturday Sept  8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Capitola Book Cafe. Sign up for this right here at Memoir Journal.

 Peggy Townsend was a journalist for the Santa Cruz Sentinel for more than 30 years, covering topics that ranged from the world of storefront boxing to the life of a homeless Korean War veteran trying to hang onto his dignity as his world fell apart around him. She has won numerous state and national awards for her writing, including twice winning first place for “Best Writing” from the California Newspaper Publishers Association.Her> work has also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe Magazine, American Prospect magazine and the UC Santa Cruz Review magazine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A few thoughts about last week's travel class

Thanks to everyone who showed up for this.  I had students from all across town and all over the hill (one drove here from San Jose). Several volunteered to read their work out loud -- and so much of what they read was touching, specific, evocative and hilarious. There was mystical writing, biographical sketches, a William Least Heat Moon-style road trip, and place portraits focusing on a location in Santa Cruz. Each of these sketches was so different, you'd swear they were talking about different locations. Students imagined they were strangers visiting their own houses, describing them from an outsider's perspective. They did close readings of Jonathan Raban, Annie Dillard, David Foster Wallace and John Jeremiah Sullivan, and wrote several on-the-spot sketches. We shared tales of triumph and absolute horror from the publishing industry.  It was a remarkable group of people. Anyhow, I always get so much out of these class sessions. I'll try to come up with another workshop at some point this fall or early in the winter.

Friday, August 24, 2012

My podcast interview with T.C Boyle on Catamaran Literary Reader's webiste

Listen in on my recent interview with the celebrated author T.C. Boyle about environmental themes in his fiction, starting with "The Extinction Tales," which we are proud to feature in the inaugural issue of Catamaran, which will be coming to a bookstore near you this October.

In other news, there are still a couple of spots left in my writing workshop tomorrow (Saturday) at the Capitola Book Cafe:  In addition to the reading and writing exercises that will be sent directly to your email, we'll also do an additional reading (a great one from Jonathan Raban) in class, some on-the-spot writing assignments and a piece of travel writing that you will complete later on. See you all in a few hours!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A quick update about my class at the Capitola Book Cafe on Saturday and a couple of other things ....

First of all, it is filling up fast so if you want a spot, call them up.  Also, I forgot to mention: please bring, aside from the reading and writing and your notebook, a brown-bag lunch so we can have a 'working lunch' around noontime. Thanks, and I'm looking forward to seeing you all very soon! Last time I had a blast teaching this class, but it went so quickly. So much was left unsaid, and I want everyone to write their on-the-spot assignments at a much more leisurely pace. This longer format class will allow that to happen.  I've also allowed some extra time so we can all talk about things like writing groups (and how to find a good writing group), pursuing a freelancing career, launching your first book projects, etc.

Also, in other news, my interview with TC Boyle will soon be up in Catamaran Literary Reader's website, and I'll post the link here as soon as it's published. I'm also thrilled to report that a print version of that interview will soon appear in Catamaran's debut issue, complete with a brief piece that I wrote about Boyle's nearly 40-year exploration of humankind's strained relationship with the natural world. Cheers, and thanks for staying in touch.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Lots of news: T.C Boyle interview, SJSU talk, new class at the Book Cafe and more

Hello, Cactuseaters readers. Lots and lots of news to share with you during this busy month.  For starters, I just found out that the short nonfiction piece I'm going to read at the San Jose State event is going to be published (!)  which means that the talk will be a kind of 'sneak preview.' I'm pretty sure the publishing event won't happen until several weeks after the talk so you'll get the first look if you go to my event with my wife, Amy Ettinger.  I''ll share the name of the publication and the particulars as the date approaches. Right around the same time, I found out that The Cactus Eaters, at this late hour, is going to be reviewed in a national magazine, which is really great news, too. Eager to see what they'll say. Also, I just had a really good phone conversation with one of my favorite authors, T.C. Boyle; we talked for 40 minutes about the strained relationship between human beings and wild nature in a number of his books and his stories, starting with the Extinction Tales. I conducted the interview with the technical assistance of Catherine Segurson and Rebecca Goldman over at the Catamaran Literary Reader's headquarters at the Salz Tannery here in SC. And the cool thing is, you get to listen in on the talk. It's almost as if the phone line was tapped. The interview will be available in the debut issue of Catamaran  soon. That will be available in bookstores across the country this fall. And finally, the Capitola Book Cafe has just listed my upcoming fully expanded and all-new travel and place-writing class. More news soon! Anyhow, my weekends have been awfully busy lately, but I've been unwinding by going 'pick your own' fruit-hunting with my little daughter. The other day we put together a blackberry cobbler, using fruit we foraged off the side of Highway 1 out here in scenic Santa Cruz. Hope you're getting out there, enjoying the weather, hitting some farmer's markets and taking advantage of everything your town (wherever it may be) has to offer. Hope to see you all soon. All for now.