Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pssst! Do You have a Secret? Postsecret Blog Publishes New Book, with a Book Tour to These Cities

It started as a simple request which grew into a community and a Blog. The request? To send an anonymous secret, written on one side of a postcard to a site called Postsecret. From there, things snowballed, clearly resonating with people. I just finished reading the latest book and I found it moving, touching, poignant and even bittersweet. The secrets revealed in the latest book, A Lifetime of Secrets: A Postsecret Book, touch on all sorts of emotions, from revenge to altruism. You'll have a rare chance to get a glimpse into the hidden side of human emotions, something that seems less lascivious to me than intriguing, like social history unfolding before my eyes. Some of the anonymous writings moved me to tears, some angered me. I think this is all good, since the book certainly didn't leave me feeling indifferent. It made me think and reflect about humanity, always a good thing, in my opinion.

If you find this whole Postecret project intriguing and want to attend one of the live events on the book tour to obtain a copy of the book or just to find out more about the whole endeavor, here is the schedule of upcoming book tours (you might want to check back at any updates) :

Baltimore, MD
John Hopkins University with Barnes & Noble
October 9 at 6:00 p.m.
facebook event page
(A rare galley edition of the new book will be given away at this event.)

Brooklyn, NY
Barnes & Noble in Park Slope
October 10 at 7:30 p.m.
facebook event page
(A rare galley edition of the new book will be given away at this event.)

New York, NY
Barnes & Noble in Chelsea
October 11 at 7:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Frederick, MD
Borders Books & Music
October 12 at 7:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Vienna, VA/Washington, D.C.
Borders Books & Music
October 13 at 3:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Phoenix, AZ
Changing Hands
October 15 at 7:00 p.m.
facebook event page

San Francisco/Santa Cruz, CA
Bookshop Santa Cruz
October 16 at 7:30 p.m.
facebook event page

San Francisco, CA
Diesel Bookstore in Oakland
October 17 at 12:30 p.m.
facebook event page

San Francisco, CA
The Booksmith
October 17 at 6:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Seattle, WA
Elliott Bay Book Co.
October 18 at 7:30 p.m.
facebook event page

Madison, WI
Madison University Bookstore (Hilldale store)
October 22 at 7:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Milwaukee, WI
Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Shorewood
October 23 at 7:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Chicago, IL
DePaul University Bookstore
October 24 at 12:30 p.m.
facebook event page

Chicago, IL
Barbara's Bookstore (University Location)
October 24 at 7:30 p.m.
facebook event page

Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
University of Minnesota Bookstore
October 29 at 2:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN
Virginia Street Swedenborgian Church
October 29 at 7:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Boston/Cambridge, MA
Harvard Book Store (at the Brattle Theater)
October 30 at 6:00 p.m.
facebook event page

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Book workshops offered by noted writer Joyce Maynard

For those who may not be familiar with the author's name, Joyce Maynard is a prolific writer who has written books, articles and essays for many years. Her novel, To Die For, was a particular favorite of mine, both tightly written and with enough detail to be fully resonant and believable. It was loosely based on a true event, a murder caused by a teacher who had a love affair with one of her students and then manipulated him to do her bidding.
This was later made into a movie with Nicole Kidman and a young Joaquin Phoenix as the "student and lover". Joyce herself even appeared in the movie in a brief appearance as Kidman's lawyer. Watch carefully and you'll see her for a moment on the courthouse steps as Kidman is being led out of court.
To see samples of Maynard's writing and more information about this author, you can check out her website at
Meanwhile, those who live in California might want to participate in an ongoing writers' workshop in Mill Valley

Here are the details and further info is also available at:"

October 27 - December 17 — $250 tuition

Here is what Joyce wrote about this workshop (courtesy of Joyce Maynard):
" I want to tell you about a new kind of workshop I’ve decided to run. Where, as some of you know, I have previously hosted one-day intensives here at my home in Mill Valley, (and no doubt I’ll be doing those again in the future), I’m going to be running an ongoing writing group, to be held on Monday nights, starting next month.

In the past, when I’ve had the opportunity to work with a writer over a period of time, I’ve seen enormous growth and development in the work. I look forward to helping a new group of writers move forward in the process that has given me so much joy over the years

The format of these workshops will be different from the one-day workshop, naturally. We’ll meet here at 7 pm, for two and a half hours of reading and discussion of your work, with each writer in the group having a chance to share what she’s been up to each time we meet, but focusing in greater depth on one or two particular pieces of work each session. Over the course of the weeks I’ll also make time for some over-arching discussion of partiular issues of the writing process likely to apply to everyone. (Those include story structure, voice, point of view, language, dialogue, character development, pace and the overall discipline of the writer, among other things. ) And of course, no evening like this would be complete (in my book, at least) if it didn’t feature some nice homemade baking to sustain us, as we work. No doubt pie will be featured, somewhere along the line. Also my poppy seed cake.

Traditionally, my classes have tended to focus on personal narrative and memoir, but I want you to know that if it’s fiction that interests you, I’ll be open to working with you writers of fiction as well. I tend to believe that the questions that every writer faces -- whether it’s fiction or nonfiction she or he is tackling -- are largely the same, and so many of them come down to the simple but endlessly complex topic of how to tell a story in a way that moves one’s readers or listeners, and possibly in such a way as to reveal to them something they didn’t know or understand before. That’s the central question we’ll be exploring, over the weeks ahead.

Initially, I’ll plan on six meetings (two per month), running from October 27 through December 17. The group will be limited to ten students (but I will need commitments from six students to run the workshop.) Cost of the six sessions will be $250.

With my other workshops, I have periodically been able to offer scholarships, but for now at least, I have to limit this particular group to full paying students. Down the line, that may change.

To reserve a space in the workshop, send your check for the full amount to me at Joyce Maynard, 500 Edgewood Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941. I won’t cash your check until I’m sure we’ve got a quorum, though I don’t anticipate this will be an issue.

1-Day intensive on memoir and personal narrative

December 1 — 9am - 5pm

Personal narrative and memoir (both book-length, or shorter essay/column). Issues explored include: locating your story, creating a structure, the difference between chronological and emotional storytelling, point of view, point of entry, language, pace, how to end an essay, the revision process. Participants are asked to submit hard copy of a piece of first person writing, no longer than 2500 words (shorter is fine). Manuscript submission deadline is November 25.

All students will receive the email addresses of other members of the group, to give everyone an opportunity to familiarize himself or herself with the others' writing. We’ll workshop each student’s manuscript in a way that will prove instructive not only for that student, but for all in the group. Maximum students: 9.

Cost of this workshop is $225, lunch included. To reserve a place in the group, send your check to Joyce Maynard, 500 Edgewood Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941. If workshop is filled, your check will be promptly returned. Students wishing to continue working with Joyce may be considered for an ongoing weekly writing workshop to begin in the fall. Email Joyce for more information or go to Email links are provided there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Old and New titles Worth Checking Out

1. The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio (How my Mother Raised 10 kids on 25 Words or Less): This is a memoir, nonfiction, written by the daughter of Evelyn Ryan and it is truly inspirational. I am old enough to remember when magazines actually had the type of contests that Mrs. Ryan entered, where contestants had to fill in the last line of a jingle. If you like true accounts of people overcoming adversity or you enjoy games involving wordplay, this one might be for you. It has a Foreword by Suze Orman and got raves from such publications as The New Yorker, NY Times, Washington Post, People Magazine and even author Patricia Cornwell.

Evelyn Ryan was married to an alcoholic husband and ahd to fight to turn every financial challenge into an opportunity during a time when women weren't encouraged to work or earn much money. This was later turned into a major motion picture which was good but the book is even better, in my opinion.

2 . Wicked - The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Macguire -This book was the basis for the Broadway play with the same title and is a fantasy tale about the "behind the scenes" story of the Wicked Witch. Where did she come from? What were the circumstances of her birth and life? One focus is on how she became so wicked and a general look at good and evil. I found this a very fun book to read and it made me think about ethics, good, evil and was also a very good escapist read. Lke fantasy? This might be for you!

3. A Simple Plan by Scott Smith - I consider this a book that deserves to be a classic, one that also became a movie but which lost some of the complexity of the ethical dilemnas at the heart of this novel. The situation is seemingly simple. Three men find a bag full of over 4 million dollars after coming upon a crashed plane. One wants to turn the money in, reasoning there is no safe way to keep it. The others come up with a scheme to try and keep the money, especially since it may be "drug money" and under the radar screen. What seems like a fairly straightforward tale takes unexpected twists and turns. A favorite of mine!

4. Town House - by Tish Cohen -(soon to be a major motion picture). This novel is for those who like something a bit different and would be one that those prone to anxiety or social phobial could relate to. It is the tale of an agoraphobic (someone afraid to leave his home) and the challenges he faces as his home is about to be sold. I was riveted by thie writing style of the author, soneone who was able to keep me reading a book which I didn't think I'd like. Humorous, very realistic and suprising developments fill this book.

5. Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies -by Richard Heinberg -copyright 2003 - 3rd edition - A look a the imminent decline of oil and how that affects everything from travel to unexpected aspects of everyday life. Recommendations are included for resource conservation and a more sustainable society.

6. Bitter Sweets by Roopa Farooki - a novel -This is brand new fiction and a first novel about a woman from Calcutta whose father convinces her to deceive a man into marrying her and how this act reverberates through the marriage and life of the couple's daughter. The author has been compared to Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Arundhari Roy. I found this one to be about average in quality. It held my interest and the writer shows great promise but I hope the next novel will be a bit more fleshed out, with more details about setting and characters.