Guest Host: Josh Hanagarne June 20, 2013Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in guest host, memoir.
Tags: Josh Hanagarne
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Josh Hanagarne, author of The World’s Strongest Librarian, couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young man had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.
Meet Josh Hanagarne June 21, 4pmET in Twitter’s #litchat. Click here to join the chat.
Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.
Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.
The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.
Photo of Josh Hanagarne by Suzy Reed.
View The World’s Strongest Librarian book trailer here.
Follow Josh Hanagarne on Twitter: @JoshHanagarne.
Guest Host: Laura Bates May 3, 2013Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in memoir.
Tags: Laura Bates
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Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard
While Laura Bates was fighting to take her Shakespeare program into solitary confinement, one of its most notorious inmates was staging a violent uprising in the very same prison.
Early in her academic career Bates declared maximum security prisoners “beyond rehabilitation.” To prove her point, she began volunteering in Chicago’s Cook County Jail literacy program. Not only did Bates’ opinion change, but ten years later she would take her Shakespeare program to the toughest offenders of them all. Bates shares this journey in the memoir, Shakespeare Saved My Life.
Armed with her newly minted Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and photocopied handouts from Richard the Second, Bates finally broke into “supermax,” the long-term solitary confinement unit of Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Indiana. To screen prospective prisoners for intent and motivation, Bates first handed out a survey worksheet with a soliloquy by the imprisoned King Richard II, which included the line:
“I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world; and for the world is populous and here is not a creature but myself, I cannot do it.” (Richard the Second; Act 5, Scene 5)
Bates asked the prisoners to read the passage and then respond to the excerpt. Most prisoners returned brief remarks, but one prisoner’s response revealed college-level close critical reading through his keen personal insight and explication of the literary passage. That prisoner was Larry Newton, the mastermind of the uprising in supermax that nearly blocked Bates’ opportunity to enter the unit with her program. A convicted killer with a sentence of life without parole, he had stabbed a guard during the uprising, placing him in the extreme disciplinary section of supermax.
While Shakespeare Saved My Life is a mosaic of prisoner stories paralleled by Bates’ own life, the greater picture is of Newton. A brilliant man whose abusive upbringing in a Muncie, Ind. ghetto pushed him through a revolving door of runaways and juvenile detention, the last grade he successfully finished was the fifth, and by the ninth, he had dropped out. At the age of 17 he and three friends kidnapped a college student, robbed him, then shot him dead. The brutality of the crime saw Newton tried as an adult, with rights for appeal waved. Wasting away in disciplinary lockup, Newton was angry and suicidal. Then he read King Richard II’s agonized speech and found a hero in Shakespeare.
As the prison Shakespeare program grows, so does Newton. Bates includes passages from Newton’s writing, revealing scholarly understanding as well as street-level sagacity. Bates makes it clear that at no time did she move from professor to advocate, yet her guidance is clear as Newton progresses from the prison of self and into the liberty of knowledge. Shakespeare Saved My Life is a captivating look at the transforming power of story.
Bates has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Comparative Literature, with a focus on Shakespeare studies. She is a professor of English at Indiana State University, where she has taught courses on Shakespeare for the past 15 years to students on campus and in prison. For more than 25 years she has worked in prisons as a volunteer and as a professor. She created the world’s first Shakespeare program in supermax—the long-term solitary confinement unit. Her work has been featured in local and national media, including two segments on MSNBC-TV’s Lock Up. She has been happily married for nearly thirty years to Allan Bates, a retired professor and playwright.
Follow Laura Bates on Twitter: @shakeinshackles.
Indie Author Showcase: Patricia Mashiter Cooper November 26, 2012Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in historical fiction, memoir, novelography.
Tags: Patricia Mashiter Cooper
Patricia Mashiter Cooper: Guest host for November 28, 2012
Patricia Mashiter Cooper was only five when World War II broke over England in 1939. Dear Cedric is her funny, insightful and poignant novelography of those war years. Novelography: Part autobiography and part novel. Dear Cedric is one of those stories based on the author’s experience, yet embellished with just enough whimsy or intrigue or composite characters to lift it over the bar from ordinary to extraordinary.
As WWII swelled over Europe, thousands of women and children from target British cities were curried away to the countryside for protection. Cooper spent the next five years at a boarding school in Wales in relative safety, seeing her mother only a handful of times and her soldiering father not at all. While Hitler was marching across Europe, Cooper and her mates at Normanhurst were learning arithmetic. As the Nazis were were bombing London, Cooper was memorizing poetry. Still, not all was rosy at Normanhurst. The children had war drills and rationing and carried gas masks in their knapsacks. Some children experienced devastating wartime losses, which Cooper reveals with gentle, yet firm, compassion.
When VE Day came, the boarding students returned to their families and the makeshift countryside schools were transformed back into fine country houses and manors. Dear Cedric is a both a romance to a bygone childhood and a keenly observed time-capsule of history that must be preserved.
Patricia Mashiter Cooper was born in Worcestershire, England. In 1968 she emigrated with her husband and four sons to Ontario, Canada where she still resides. She is currently writing another book in a totally different genre. Her first time-travel romance is due to be published in 2013.
Follow Patricia Mashiter Cooper on Twitter: @pendare
Films, Fiends, and Friends October 28, 2012Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in horror, literary film, memoir.
Tags: Julie Klam, Kimberly Wetherell
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You’re in for a bag full of treats this week in #litchat. We’re breaking from our typical week of MediaMonday, followed by Wednesday topical theme and Friday guest host. Here’s what our week looks like:
Monday, October 29, 2012: Kickstarting a Film
Kimberly Wetherell is a writer, filmmaker and visionary. Her most recent project, Lullaby, is a poignant drama about a ‘Hidden Child’ of the Holocaust’s invented life as a Catholic, and her family’s discovery of the truth. What a hook, no? Why then has she had such difficulty finding funding for a film with such a powerful premise?
Here’s what her Kickstarter fundraising page says:
Why are we raising funds on Kickstarter?
Simply put, finding traditional ROI-seeking investors is extremely difficult. Our writer/director/producer has been developing the feature version of this film for nearly six years, and after running into many various obstacles, she decided to make a short version as a prelude to the feature.
Our driving mission in making this film is not only to lure producers and investors to the larger feature project, but to use this film as an educational tool to bring immediate attention to the underserved Diaspora of Hidden Children around the world, before they are no longer with us.
Wetherell made her cinematic debut with the award-winning short romantic comedy, Ménage à trois (2005), the story of a boy… a girl… and her cell phone. She followed it up with another award-winning short film, Why We Wax (2008), a comedic documentary about the hair… “down there,” which is distributed by Seventh Art Releasing in North America, by Planète France/Canal Plus in France and all its territories, and a clip is available to watch on Al Gore’s CurrentTV. In 2008, she was the associate producer on the feature film Today’s Special (2010).
Watch the visually arresting and powerful film trailer here: Lullaby.
Follow Kimberly Wetherell on Twitter: @kayemdub.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012: Halloween Horror
Most cultures and religions have a celebration of the dead, whether it be through honoring ancestors, memorial day decoration of graves, sugar candy skulls and sweet offerings, carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, or midnight bonfires.
In the West, Halloween is that day. It begins early in a child’s life as parents dress up babies to resemble cartoon mice, gothic vampires, or fairy princesses. We never seem to outgrow the desire to dress up and pretend for a day that we are someone or something else—an alter ego from which to play out our inner child.
Halloween also brings out the annual horror fans who enjoy ghost stories told by campfire, tales of the undead, of razor-fingered freaks and blood-sucking fiends.
Join us on Wednesday as we discuss Horror fiction.
Friday, November 2, 2012: Friendkeeping with Julie Klam
What’s in a friend? Julie Klam visits this topic in her new book, Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without. In the witty and transparent way she burst onto the literary memoir showcase with her debut, Please Excuse My Daughter, Klam delves into the mysteries of friendship. She reveals in herself a lonely girl with two older brothers, always seeking a playmate. Gravitating toward the theater and arts crowds in high school and college, Klum collected friends like a museum director curates the finest pieces for a show. Not that she collected them just to have a huge selection in her friendship display, but as individuals who offered distinctive and unusual attributes for contributing as well as taking away something special. Klam often reflects her childhood angst for friends with that of her young daughter—an only child—who Klam sees as light years ahead of her in terms of self-acceptance and positive personal image. Friendkeeping is an ideal gift book for birthdays and holidays, but it will make an especially great book to stuff in gift baskets for any occasion.
Julie Klam grew up in Bedford, N.Y. After attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and interning at Late Night with David Letterman, she went on to write for such publications as O: The Oprah Magazine, Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and The New York Times Magazine and for the VH1 television show “Pop-Up Video,” where she earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Class Writing. Klam is author of four memoirs, Please Excuse My Daughter, You Had Me At Woof, Love At First Bark, and Friendkeeping. She lives in New York City.
Follow Julie Klam on Twitter: @JulieKlam.
Man’s Best Friend (and Woman’s Too) October 8, 2012Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in animals, memoir.
Tags: Teresa Rhyne
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MediaMonday for October 8, 2012: The New York Times Buy the Book Interview with Jeffrey Eugenides, October 7, 2012.
Everyone loves a good dog story. Or so we think from judging by the numerous dog memoirs published in the last decade or so. Dogs (and other pets) are important figures in the lives of millions of people. The relationship and bond between human and pet goes far deeper than non-pet-lovers can fathom. Are dog memoirs a trend? Can anyone write the story of Spot and get a book deal? What makes a great dog memoir, anyway? We’ll ask these questions and more on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, when we discuss dog memoirs. Then on Friday, October 12, we’ll chat with Teresa McElhannon Rhyne, author of The Dog Lived (And So Will I).
Like the successful family law attorney she is, following her second divorce, Teresa Rhyne reordered her life into ABCDs (Alcohol, Books, Coffee and Dogs). Within that year the D would go silent when she lost both of her two beloved beagles to age and illness within months of each other. If a woman ever felt defeated, that was Rhyne in that year. Her memoir, The Dog Lived (And So Will I) begins here.
A longtime proponent of pet rescue and adult dog adoptions (though some would argue “sucker”), Teresa could not say no when the local no-kill shelter called her with a beagle they’d just rescued from a terminating county facility. It was love at first sight for Teresa and love at first bite for Seamus. Bite of food, that is. Teresa tells tales of Seamus’s prodigious appetite as tall as his splendid Irish name. With her ABCDs back in place, Teresa slipped into a comfortable life as Southern California cougar with adorable new dog and cute new boyfriend. Young boyfriend.
Then Seamus was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. This is when The Dog Lived (And So Will I) fully engages. Rhyne writes with humor and pathos about the year of chemotherapy and dog treats, incessant barking and neurotic separation anxiety, financial sacrifices and sacrificial love. Just as Seamus makes it successfully through the rigorous treatment, the unspeakable thing happens to Rhyne. The C in her life is devastatingly edited to Cancer when she is diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma—a rare and highly aggressive form of breast cancer.
Not one to take a diagnosis like triple negative IDC in stride, Rhyne began a blog: The Dog Lived (And So Will I). Already a serious writer and having studied creative writing at UCLA, Rhyne’s story of Seamus cancer victory layered with the humorous, sometimes sarcastic ups and downs of her own treatment resonated with many readers. So many, in fact, that Sourcebooks picked up Teresa and Seamus’s story for the book we’re discussing with Rhyne on Friday.
Rhyne’s story isn’t only about cancer, but about starting over. In work–during Seamus’s cancer treatments, she opened her own family law practice. In love–despite the 12-year difference in their ages and the initial disapproval of her boyfriend Chris’s family, Teresa and Chris have spun a new life together that works for the three of them. In hope–both Seamus and Rhyne are now cancer free and using their story to help raise awareness for pet adoption and cancer research.
See Seamus the Famous and Teresa in the book trailer here.
Follow Teresa Rhyne on Twitter: @TeresaRhyne.
Regeneration March 12, 2012Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in memoir.
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A gritty memoir of spectacular recovery from substance addiction landed a certain author on Oprah and the bestseller lists. That memoir was later revealed as fake, pure fiction from an author jonesing to be published. Memoirs about recovery are common in the litosphere. Some of them read like prurient page-turners, while others are just matter-of-fact word flurries of hope and despair. On Wednesday in #litchat we’ll discuss recovery and regeneration in literature, then on Friday, author Duff McKagan joins us as guest host.
Duff McKagan is a founding member of the legendary 1980s rock band Guns N’ Roses—the bassist responsible for the distinctive bluesy rhythms behind the music. His memoir, It’s So Easy (and Other Lies), was released October 2011 in hardcover, only months after fellow band member Steven Adler released his memoir, My Appetite for Destruction. Slash, the lead guitarist and near household name, had already released a self-titled memoir of rock ‘n roll debauchery in 2008. What makes McKagan’s memoir stand out from among the three, as well as from other rock ‘n roll memoirs, is his transparency and complete regeneration. A fitting term for McKagan might even be Renaissance man.
McKagan’s regeneration wasn’t a miracle; he didn’t join AA, find God, or go on a spirit quest. His pancreas burst as a result of alcohol abuse and he was told that if he didn’t quit drinking, he would die. At that point in his life, he actually begged the doctors to “just kill me.” After weeks in the hospital, a sort of miracle did occur when his pancreas began regenerating to the point surgery wasn’t necessary. McKagan’s recovery was underway.
As McKagan details his shaky steps into sobriety, glimmers of the Renaissance man emerge. He takes on a personal quest to read all of the books he missed when he dropped out of high school. Soon, he’s reading all of Hemingway’s work and moving on to other classics. He takes up mountain biking as a way to punish himself for the want and purge himself of the cravings still clawing at his back. He enters a grueling mountain bike race in Big Bear, Calif. and finishes among the top 100 riders. He regularly wages physical discipline upon his body at a dojo with kick boxing at LA’s House of Champions. He forms new musical alliances, performing with former members of Duran Duran, the Sex Pistols, and eventually forms a new band, Velvet Revolver, with founding Gn’R mates Slash and Izzy. His current band, Loaded, has released three albums. Before leaving Gn’R, McKagan satisfied his curiosity about the band’s financial records by taking accounting classes at a community college. He finds the academic life satisfying and eventually gets accepted to Seattle University, where he’s working on a business degree. Academic writing leads to a column for the Seattle Weekly, then Playboy and finally ESPN.com. And then, It’s So Easy. Which in itself, wasn’t so easy. Although not listed as a co-author, McKagan acknowledges award-winning journalist Tim Mohr as a collaborator of the work.
A book written by a rock star would be incomplete without details on musical influences and formation of bands—and in Gn’R’s case, implosion. McKagan spares no details about life in seedy Hollywood neighborhoods, paying for play at punk clubs, and eventually forging the sound that would make Guns N’ Roses a global blockbuster. Without bitterness or judgment, McKagan chronicles the collapse of the original Guns N’ Roses line-up. Founding drummer Adler had already been ousted for his debilitating drug abuse, and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin quit because he’d gotten sober and could no longer take the band’s excesses. Then Axl Rose, famous for mood swings, tantrums and head trips, performed a coup d’état when refusing to go on stage at a sold-out concert if Slash and McKagan didn’t surrender rights to the Guns N’ Roses name they were instrumental in forming. Rather than disappoint thousands of fans who paid big money to see the band, McKagan and Slash signed away the band to Rose. McKagan’s retelling of these events takes much of the blame for his own self-destructive lifestyle leading to Rose’s action. After years of waiting to record a follow-up to the band’s phenomenally successful Use Your Illusion I & II albums, Slash quit, with McKagan following less than a year later.
It’s So Easy may disappoint hard-core Guns N’ Roses fans looking for more salacious stories about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Yet it’s the lack of such fodder that essentially elevates the book beyond other rock biographies and memoirs.
Watch the video trailer of It’s So Easy: here.
Follow Duff McKagan on Twitter: @DuffMcKagan.
Small Press Showcase October 24, 2011Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in classics, creative non-fiction, literary fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, poetry, small presses.
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It’s that time of year again. Once annually #litchat features a week of discussion led by publishers, editors and authors of independent presses. These are the rebels of publishing, the audacious leaders willing to produce books that the big houses won’t touch for a myriad of reasons. Independent, small presses often operate on a shoestring budget, with more vision than provision. What keeps independent presses rolling in this age of literary plenty? What types of manuscripts are they looking to publish? How do they position themselves between the big houses and the start-ups whose only authors are themselves? Will Amazon’s new publishing empire affect legitimate small presses? These questions and others will come up this week during Small Press Showcase.
Monday, October 24: Engine Books
Victoria Barrett, publisher/editor
Established in January of this year by Victoria Barrett, Engine Books is a boutique fiction press publishing novels, short story collections, collected novellas, and related volumes. Barrett is a writer, editor, and professor whose fiction has appeared in Colorado Review, Massachusetts Review, You Must Be This Tall to Ride, and Confrontation. Her career as an editor began at Puerto del Sol, where editor Kevin McIlvoy called her “the most significant managing editor” in the journal’s history. Her work there trained her to read fiction submissions on their own terms, rather than see them through the lens of her own aesthetic preferences.
This work continues at Freight Stories, where she and co-editor Andrew Scott have published the work of finalists for the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, bestsellers, and long-seasoned authors alongside emerging authors, some of whom saw in Freight Stories their first publication. The wide variety of styles and forms published in FS speak to Barrett’s enthusiasm for all kinds of fiction.
Engine Books seeks to publish four titles each year, ensuring full attention to the editing, production, and promotion of each title.
Follow Engine Books on Twitter: @enginebooks.
Wednesday, October 26: Press 53
Valerie Nieman, author
Kevin Watson, editor/publisher
Press 53 is an independent publisher of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that was founded in October 2005 by Kevin Morgan Watson, who serves as Fiction & Poetry Editor; Tom Lombardo is Poetry Series Editor (Tom Lombardo Poetry Selections); Robin Miura is Novel/Memoir Editor (Robin Miura Novel and Memoir Selections); and Sarah Elizabeth Younger, who serves as eBook editor.
Press 53 is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in the Community Arts Cafe building at Fourth & Spruce. They publish full-length books by established writers. In addition to finding and showcasing new writers in our Press 53 Open Awards Anthology, and established writers in our short story and poetry collections, novels, and creative nonfiction books, we also have a fondness for bringing back great books that are out of print, which we re-issue under our Press 53 Classics imprint.
Follow Press 53 on Twitter: @Press53.
Kevin Morgan Watson is founder of Press 53 and serves as editor in chief with a special focus on short stories and poetry. As a publisher, he has worked with writers ranging from first-time published authors to winners of the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. As a writer, his short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including the 2002 TallGrass Writers Guild/Outrider Press anthology Take Two—They’re Small, where his short story “Sunny Side Up” won first prize. Kevin also serves as an advisor for student adaptation of short stories to screenplays with the screenwriting faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking in Winston-Salem, NC.
Follow Kevin Watson on Twitter: @Press53.
Valerie Nieman, author of Blood Clay has also published a collection of short stories, Fidelities, from West Virginia University Press, and a poetry collection, Wake Wake Wake. She has received an NEA creative writing fellowship, two Elizabeth Simpson Smith prizes in fiction, and the Greg Grummer Prize in poetry. A native of Western New York State, she graduated from West Virginia University and the M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte. She teaches writing at N.C. A&T State University and is the poetry editor for Prime Number Magazine.
Follow Valerie Nieman on Twitter: @ValNieman.
Friday, October 28: The Overlook Press
Frances Hill, author
The Overlook Press is an independent general-interest publisher, founded in 1971. The publishing program consists of nearly 100 new books per year, evenly divided between hardcovers and trade paperbacks. The list is eclectic, but areas of strength include interesting fiction, history, biography, drama, and design.
The house was launched by owner Peter Mayer as a home for distinguished books that had been ”overlooked” by larger houses. At the time Mayer was at the helm of one of them, Avon, and would go on to a twenty-year tenure at Penguin, which he eventually headed as well. He joined with his father Alfred, a retired glove manufacturer, to nurture Overlook Press, supervising business from Manhattan in his off hours, while Fredy ran the upstate operation, picturesquely housed in an old apple shed on Overlook Mountain in Woodstock.
Another cherished mission is to revive and bring to new audiences classic books and authors. We are renowned for our stylish editions of the works of P.G. Wodehouse, as well as bringing back the beloved Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks. In addition, they have just completed new paperback editions of fiction by Joseph Roth, one of literature’s modern masters. In 2002 the Overlook Press acquired Ardis, the premier publisher of Russian literature in English. More recently the Overlook elephant has spread its wings across the Atlantic to take under new ownership the 106-year-old company Duckworth.
Follow the Overlook Press on Twitter: @overlookpress.
Author of Outlook Press’s recently published novel Deliverance from Evil, Frances Hill was born in London in 1943 and went to Keele University, Staffordshire, where she obtained a BA Honours degree in English Literature and Philosophy. For many years she was the radio critic for the TES as well as a fiction reviewer and obituary writer for The Times and feature writer for many other publications including The Times Higher Education Supplement, The Guardian and The Spectator. Her first novel, Out of Bounds, was published by John Murray in 1985 and was followed by a second novel, A Fatal Delusion (John Murray), in 1989. In 1992 she began work on her acclaimed account of the Salem witch trials, A Delusion of Satan, which was published by Doubleday in New York in 1995 and Hamish Hamilton in London in 1996. A new edition with a new preface appeared in 2002. Her second book on the Salem witch trials, The Salem Witch Trials Reader, was published by da Capo in 2000 and her third book on the same subject, Hunting for Witches, A Visitor’s Guide to the Salem Witch Trials, was published by Commonwealth Editions in 2002. Such Men Are Dangerous, The Fanatics of 1692 and 2004 was published by Upper Access in March 2004. Frances Hill lives in London but visits the U.S. regularly, spending every summer in Connecticut.
I’d Rather Be Writing January 24, 2011Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in memoir.
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Books don’t write themselves. Readers pick up a book and within the thousands of words they find adventure, romance, mystery, suspense, information and personal experiences. Few authors support themselves and/or their families on book royalties alone and have other jobs that pay the bills. While their jobs might inform their work, they also take time away from writing. This week in LitChat we’re going to discuss tips and tricks writers use to get books written in, “I’d Rather Be Writing.”
Joining us as guest host on Friday, January 28, is Kim Stagliano, author of All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Teresa – A Life Raising Three Daughters With Autism. The extended title alone says much about Stagliano. Most people have their hands full juggling a job and family, but throw autism into the mix and watch it froth. Add three autistic daughters and it overflows. While Stagliano admits she’s not a saint, just look what she does. A staunch autism advocate and warrior mom, Stagliano writes fiction, is managing editor of the daily online news site, Age of Autism, and is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post.
Her memoir, All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Teresa – A Life Raising Three Daughters With Autism, released last November. Contrasting the snappy sense of humor that gets her through the day with the gritty elements of life with autistic children, Stagliano offers whip-sharp perceptions of life everyone can relate to.
Follow Kim Stagliano on Twitter: @Kim Stagliano.
Food & Family December 13, 2009Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in food, memoir.
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Topic of the Week: December 14-18, 2009
December is the month of holidays. As family and friends gather to celebrate religious and/or cultural traditions, food is always featured. Ask people about their favorite holiday memories and you’ll find responses tied around food and family: “My grandmother’s butterscotch pie,” “my mother’s baked ham,” or “my aunt’s golden latkes.” Food nourishes both the body and the spirit.
Joining us on December 18th is Suzan Colón, author of Cherries in Winter, a memoir reflecting on food, family and getting through tough times with dignity. When Suzan was laid off from a cushy and lucrative job at the beginning of the recession, luxuries she’d taken for granted, like shopping at pricey gourmet markets, getting expensive haircuts, and even owning a car, were all suddenly out of her budget. She and her husband Nathan quickly realized they had to cut way, way back.
When winter came, Suzan cobbled together freelance jobs while wearing layers of sweaters and trying to type in fingerless gloves, the better to keep the heating bill low. She also saved money by cooking at home, and her mother, Carolyn, suggested, “Why don’t you dig out Nana’s recipe folder?” In a basement trunk, Suzan found the tattered treasure holding the old recipes, some written in her Nana’s nearly perfect script, others meticulously type-written, that went back through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and beyond. Reading them, Suzan realized she had found something more than a collection of recipes; she’d discovered the key to her family’s survival through hard times.
Suzan Colón is an independent writer and editor who has written celebrity profiles, personal essays, and general interest articles for O, the Oprah Magazine; Marie Claire; Jane; Details; Harper’s Bazaar; Seventeen; YM; Mademoiselle; Rolling Stone; and others. She is the author of three young adult novels based on the TV series Smallville, as well as Catwoman: The Life and Times of a Feline Fatale; and What Would Wonder Woman Do? Suzan lives in New Jersey with her husband and two cats.
Follow Suzan on Twitter at: @colonsuzan.