It was warm and then cold.

We sold out of all the books we brought.


Our staff love the energy of the conference, they love meeting writers.  They thrive on the buzz and flow of it all, and I like how much fun they have.


In spite of the present occupant of the White House, I like DC.


It’s a city with heavy male energy and thick concrete walls. It’s a fortress city.


There’s none of the lightness of San Francisco before it was coated with tech money or Boston with its gardens and bars.


People are busy in DC; they’re involved in big conversations.  I like walking through the streets, remembering how it felt when Obama was in the White House and I still believed the light was pouring through the trees.  I still believed in hope and in human potential.


We are on our way home to Los Angeles.  I like being in the game.  Sometimes I make a mistake in the dance. But I keep on dancing.


Published in: on February 13, 2017 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

It is a time to fight

Every conversation begins and ends with the horror of events since this election.  There are moments when we take a breath between all of it, but then you wake and it rushes back to you.  You remember about this country, and the remnants of sanity that remain.


It is a time to write, to make great art. America has never set a standard of good behavior for the rest of the world, but this is a new low.  The America of this presidency is one of darkness and hatred.  Hatred of Muslims, women, Latinos.  We live in a country where our government operates out of greed and hatred and feeds the rest of us fear.


On some days, I think that America as we knew it is over.  On days when I’m more optimistic, I like to think this is the last gasp of the far right.  There are those in this country who wish for a return of Jim Crow laws, who want to make America white again as if it was ever white in the first place. The forces of darkness will not prevail. Onward.

Published in: on February 1, 2017 at 10:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nutshell by Ian McKuen

Everyone should read this book.

The story is told from the point of view of babe in the womb.  An all knowing baby who suspects his mother.  There is a surprise in the book that sneaks up on you.  Most readers know McKuen for Atonement, and Solar and Children Act were satisfying as well, but this is a whole new level.  In the hands of a lesser writer, the plot would unfold awkwardly, the writer would struggle with the limited omniscient point of view, but not McKuen.  We follow the narrator down the tube into the womb where he lies unquiet, anxious when sex takes place near his resting place, aware of the clutter in the house and in his mother’s mind.  For every reader who loves an exquisitely paced story of murder and love, read this.  Dream yourself back into a womb where you knew all the desperate sadness of the world and the terrible ways we betray one another.  As for the ending, what’s wrong with getting to a cliff and simply jumping off?

Published in: on January 25, 2017 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

What are the signs of a narcissistic personality?

Below are the most common signs and symptoms found in people with narcissistic personality disorder:

  • An insatiable appetite for the attention of other people.
  • Generally prone to extreme feelings of jealousy.
  • Behave is if they deserve special treatment.
  • Commonly exaggerate their achievements, talents and importance.


We wake afraid.


As in 1984, we feel a kind of dread as the savage trumpery of the American presidency rains down on us.  I could make a list, but you know.  You start to wrap your head around his declaring his ascendancy as a day to honor him and then the pipeline is revived, women’s rights are taken away, gag orders.


You can diagnose, but what good does it do you or anyone?


The environment and women’s rights?  Gone.

Climate change action? Gone.

LGBT rights? A thing of the past.


Please just don’t blow up the planet. Don’t bomb anyone.  Don’t start World War III.


You want to say to the folks around him in the White House, Tell him he’s a peaceful guy.  Tell him everyone says so.  He can’t separate fact from fiction anyway.


We are only five days into the worst presidency of the century.  Hatred unleashed.  Brace yourselves.  It’s going to be a bumpy night.

Published in: on January 25, 2017 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

“The Roommate”

Saw the play last night.  I liked the music done by my friend Michael Roth, but I’m still thinking about the play.  Red Hen published A Well Made Bed a few years ago and this play followed some of those themes.  Woman in Midwest stuck in her boring life turns to crime.  Even down to the cocaine in the statues.  The similarities were eerie.  But in this case, the arch criminal is a lesbian who dressed awkwardly and looked strange in her clothes like they didn’t quite fit her.  I know a lot of dapper lesbians whose biggest crime is marching yesterday against the Trump presidency.  The whole play moved slowly and the cardinal law of theatre was broken when they brought a gun on stage but never used it.  And are we to believe that our Iowa housewife goes from never smoking weed to selling coke or was it heroin and wanting to sell weed to minors in a few weeks?  I would call the play implausible.  The acting was great, but I question how fast a Bronx lesbian could get me to go from joint to crime and then to the ultimate leaning over the edge, but go see the play, decide for yourself how far you would go if you were Miss Iowa.

Published in: on January 22, 2017 at 9:23 am  Leave a Comment  

We fight back.

The Trump presidency represents long fueled hatred to the rise of power of women and minorities and the declining power of the white male.  It has unleashed hatred for women, gays and minorities in this country, but women and thinking people are not taking this wave of hatred sitting down.  We are not sitting around moaning.  We are marching. We are awake and aware and ready to fight back.

Published in: on January 22, 2017 at 9:15 am  Leave a Comment  

iPhone 6 takes a swim in the ocean

The key is minute rice.  Turn the phone off and have patience.  Spend the time without your phone contemplating why it was more important to reach into the ocean than to keep track of the phone.   I was leaning into the ocean collecting sand dollars, when the phone took a leap into the waves.  It was a slide, a spring, a swivel, a tumble.  Then the ocean gulped down my phone.  We took the phone out of its case, shook it down and turned it off.  Then we put it into minute rice for 30 hours in a Ziploc bag.  It recovered nicely.


The last time I was walking by the ocean and got dragged into the waves with my iPhone in my pocket was three years ago in Cannon Beach. That was an iPhone 3, and we put it into a bag of regular rice for a day, and it never recovered.  The older phones took in more water.  Also, minute rice, couscous and silica work better than regular rice.  And air drying is better than cat litter.  Yes, there are people who try kitty litter.  Seriously? Why not put your phone in dirt. Or breakfast cereal.  Right! You dropped your phone in the ocean, the key is Lucky Charms!  Not so much.


Today in the bar, a large man was laughing at people who are afraid of what Trump will do.  “Trump will crush them,” he said.  “Like bugs.”  He was watching football.


I don’t want to crush anyone.  I want all of us to be able to fly, but Icarus fell.  The wax melted.

Published in: on December 22, 2016 at 11:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Personal life vs. public life

In novels, one of the issues I am interested in, is a person’s public life vs their public life.

Most of us are more successful in one than the other.  Gender matters in this public life vs. private life.

A woman who is successful at work and fails as a mother or wife—in a novel at least—it’s hard to justify her feeling good about herself.

A man who is successful at work and fails to be a good husband and father might still be considered a success in any story.

How do we push back against our stories?

If you are spending time with your family for Christmas, if your children love you, that’s some kind of success at home.  Work?  That’s the funny thing.  Most people will be remembered by their families not because they drove a bus, a car, a kindergarten class, a boat, a publishing company, a law firm.  We are by remembered by the people who love us. In a story, you have to get all this in there, public and private success and failure and the lines that connect them.

Published in: on December 21, 2016 at 10:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

At any ocean, I miss other oceans.

Hundreds of sand dollars
We are at the beach.
We have collected ninety-three sand dollars.
The ocean here in Pismo has coughed up many sand dollars all along the beach.
If the sand dollars were money, all of us here on the Central Coast would be millionaires.
I remember collecting shells in Maine.
The Pacific Ocean has a low sweet salty dune smell.
The smell of the Pacific Ocean is strong and briny, heavy thick and wild.
I miss the Maine coastline and the shells, tide pools.
I miss Greece and the Aegean Sea.
At any ocean, I miss other oceans.

Published in: on December 21, 2016 at 6:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

He Was The Only Man in The Room

The moon came up round the house full of she bears.

He was the only man in the room


He didn’t knew who to talk to; the women were talking with each other.

He was the only man in the room.


The women weren’t turning to him asking what he wanted.

He was the only man in the room.


The women started undressing, changing their clothes, talking to each other.

He was the only man in the room.


One woman was vomiting. Another kept telling her morning sickness will pass.

He was the only man in the room.


Several women made bread, told stories.

He was the only man in the room.


The two redheads kept cracking jokes about short men.

He was the only man in the room.


In the large tub, women took turns bathing.

He was the only man in the room.


One woman cleaned up blood, passed another a cloth.

He was the only man in the room.


Women were shouting to make themselves heard; everyone talking at once.

He was the only man in the room.


One woman was shaving her legs, another her crotch, some didn’t shave at all.

He was the only man in the room.


One old woman moaning on a cot; they took turns washing her face.

He was the only man in the room.


One woman entered with two ducks and a shotgun.

He was the only man in the room.


The women plucked the ducks and started roasting.

He was the only man in the room.


Another woman entered with pheasants and plums.

He was the only man in the room.


A third woman with eggs and long cucumbers.

He was the only man in the room.


Lemon and tea or wine; the old woman played the guitar.

He was the only man in the room.


A woman gave birth to a baby on the bed in the corner.

He was the only man in the room.


The baby was a girl.

He was the only man in the room.


It got to be night time; the women paired off.

He was the only man in the room.


There was one extra woman, the one with a big laugh and ripe red tongue.

He was the only man in the room.


The butch doctor got two women.

He was the only man in the room.



Published in: on December 21, 2016 at 6:31 pm  Leave a Comment