Beach reading, bed reading, book reading

I’m just back in California after leading a writers retreat on the beach where I grew up, in Hawai‘i. So it's time to share some good reads and to let you know about a few cool updates on this Web site. Oh, and to let you know about the next retreat! First, let’s talk about beach reading. I just finished a wonderful novel by friend and colleague Kathryn Ma. The Year She Left Us is an intricate story of family, loss, abandonment, and identity, all told through the alternating voices of four women in a Chinese-American family. As I wrote to Kathryn upon putting the book down, despite that none of the characters bear any relation to me or my family, the story is true enough to reach certain universal planes all to familiar to any human who is honest with herself (or himself). The voices are tart and surprising, but when the writing gets descriptive it turns lyrical and beautiful. Though I read with relish and hated putting the book down, sometimes I had to stop. The story was stirring things and I needed to walk, and think, and feel some sadness. OK, that’s the beach reading (or in my case, the in-bed reading). Now for some reading with your Sunday brunch. Have you noticed the relatively new section in the New York Times Book Review called Bookends? Here two writers answer a question about writing or books each week. It’s worth reading for its thought-provoking questions and writerly answers. I just posted about a couple of favorites. I’ve also added my list of favorite books on writing in “Cool Tools” and I’ve updated the list of books on “usage and abusage.” If you’d prefer a class over endless book lists, I’ve added those, too. I’m especially excited about two coming up this fall: The (New) Berkeley Narrative Journalism Conference ~ Nov. 8, 2014 “The Latest in Longform” brings top editors and writers to UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism for a daylong exploration of nonfiction storytelling. Attendance is limited to 75 writers; experience (in any genre) a must. Save the date! And in the meantime, I'll be posting more information and updates on this page. Fall colors and colorful writing in Vermont With my SF Writers Grotto colleague Zoe FitzGerald Carter, I’ll lead the third annual Greensboro Writers Retreat, September 12 – 14: “First-Person Plural: Crafting stories from our lives.” Let the autumn kaleidoscope of the Northeast Kingdom inspire you—not to mention some supportive coaching and some scrumptious cooking by chef/food writer Stephanie Rosenbaum. A dozen of us will gather on Lake Caspian for guided exercises, critiques, private writing time, and the chance to break bread with other like-minded souls. The weekend opens and closes with readings at the Galaxy Bookshop. The retreat is open to writers of all levels and genres. Lodging is available. Email zoe (at) mac (dot) com. Updates here. See you here, there, or somewhere you tell me about.

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