Fun at Oakland’s LitQuake

Lake Chalet

Lake Chalet



Litquake, a festival that highlights Bay Area authors, takes place is various venues in San Francisco and Oakland.  I read along with serval fabulous authors at Lake Chalet, a restaurant and bar that sits on Oakland’s Lake Merritt.  Fun times.






isn't he cute? ;-)

isn’t he cute? 😉



My favorite bookseller ever – Jerry Thompson.  I first met Jerry way back when my first novel Please Please Please came out.  He’s been supportive ever since.  And he’s funny as hell.   









Here I am with author Joan Steinau Lester.  She thinks she’s tall and I’m trying to help her out by shrinking in size. Joan is the author of Mama’s Child and I interviewed her right here on my website.

Joan is very tall--really!

Joan is very tall–really!




One of my favorite things to do is take a picture of the people who show up to my readings.  Sometimes it’s like a dream that I’m actually on stage reading from my novel and I want to remember and capture every moment.  (There are a few people in the crowd who surprised me big time when they showed up. They know who they are and I say THANK YOU)

Awesome Litquake audience!

Awesome Litquake audience!

become your own cheelearder

My advice to new writers just starting out is to find a way to keep going forward.  Try to write more days than not because, as a writer, you are like a musician who needs to practice and hone her skills. If you miss a day of writing, or a week of writing or an entire month of writing, find your way back, and do so without “guilting” yourself. I think the best thing we can do as writers or would-be-writers is find our way to kindness.  Writing is no fun at all, if it’s infused by guilt. So, if you haven’t been writing, why not praise yourself for finding your way back to your desk, or favorite table or notepad.  Praise yourself for sticking to it.  In the end, it’s about the practice of coming back to the work as much as anything else.  Craft will come with practice and learning to write most days than not comes with practice as well. If it comes to be a huge problem that you’re not writing most days than not, consider signing up for a class, whether online or a community college, or wherever.   

So you know, I speak as someone who’s been there!  I wanted to write when I was younger, but my self-esteem was the size of a gnat, and every time I sat down to write–if I sat down at all–I spent most of the time beating myself up.  Writing, naturally, became a chore, and torturous.  But I wanted to write!  I kept a journal religiously and read all the time.  I guess you can say I forced myself to write by taking classes and workshops.  While an undergraduate, I’d sign up for creative writing classes. After I graduated, I stopped writing completely until I signed up for a class at the local community college. I would always wait until the very last second to write a story that was due, but I found signing up for a class helped me to stick with it.

I continued to procrastinate through my MFA program.  I never started a story until the last minute, but I managed to graduate.  I’m not sure when it hit me that there was no way I could write novels if I only wrote sporadically and if beat myself up through the entire process, so I basically told myself—No more guilt, no more shame around writing.   If I wrote for twenty minutes, terrific.  If I wrote for an hour, terrific.

Find the time for yourself to “practice.” Find a way to make the process of sitting and facing your fears every day enjoyable.  I know it might sound nuts, but it’s such a long haul, the sooner you learn to become your own cheerleader and best friend, the better.