My First Book Published

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On  March 1, 2013, my middle grade novel, “The Dragons of Graham,” was published by The Wives of Bath Press (www.thewivesofbath.com).

This is the story of Katie and her friends, who are starting the sixth grade at Graham Middle School. They discover that middle school was not quite what they expected…and by the way, the school is infested with dragons.

“Who knew dragons were so demanding? All the dragons at Graham want something. The band dragon is hoarding silver. The dragon in the girls’ locker room wants more water, and the library dragon wants his own library card. One even wants her sister, Rosie, as a snack. Blech!

Katie has to learn how to navigate the halls of her new middle school, deal with the populars, and try not to lose her best friend, Maia, all while figuring out how to satisfy the members of a mythical race she didn’t even know existed.”

“The Dragons of Graham” is available in print from Amazon.com and as an ebook for the Kindle and the Nook!

Joyce Carol Oates

“First, you hope for an eventful life. Then, you hope for an uneventful life.” Joyce Carol Oates.

I think it may be too late for that.

A towering bastion of the American literary scene, Joyce Carol Oates has already had an eventful life. She had written more than 50 novels, hundreds of short stories, play, memoirs and other non-fiction pieces. She has been heaped with acclaim of all sorts.

She’s about to release a new novel, The Accursed. A work of gothic horror and psychological insight, this historical novel set in Princeton at the turn of the twentieth century is peopled by the famous and the cursed.

She will speaking at Kepler’s in Menlo Park on Wednesday, March 6th at 7:30pm.

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Four writers, four books, four chances

Have you read all the books of the Hunger Games, Twilight, and Beautiful Creatures? Are you looking for something new? Well, four Seattle authors with YA books are coming to the Bay Area and they’d like to tell you all about their great books. Between the zombies, teen angels, eco-apocalypses and covert government terror, there is sure to be something you’ll enjoy!

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Juvenile delinquents deal with zombie counselors in The Infects by Sean Beaudoin.

The Lost Code, Book One of the Atlanteans, by Kevin Emerson is set in a post-apocalyptic earth, ravaged by global climate change.

Revived, by Cat Patrick, focuses on life and death and a covert government program testing a drug called Revive.

Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough, is a hilarious look at a girl with a voice in her head, and a trainee guardian angel, in heaven’s soul-rehabilitation program for wayward teens.

You can find them at Kepler’s in Menlo Park on Thursday, Feb 28 at 7:30pm, Hicklebees in San Jose on Friday, March 1st at 3pm, and at Books Inc in the Marina(SF) at 6:30pm (also March 1) and at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley on Saturday, March 2 at 1pm.

Maman’s Homesick Pie

“In most Iranian homes, there is no better way to begin a story than with a cup of tea, served hot, in a glass to better see its amber hue, with two lumps of sugar, and a dish of sweets.”

So Donia Bijan sets a place at her table, to tell us a story and to share the smells of her family’s kitchen.

Maman's Homesick Pie

“Maman’s Homesick Pie is a story about a woman who is an extraordinary daughter, world traveler, chef, and writer. This memoir is written by Donai Bizan, who understands the human condition, the kitchen, and the needs of a child to embrace who and what she was. Throw in the fact that wonderful recipes are included along with these heartfelt experiences, and you have a story that envelopes and rings true for anyone who reads it. If you only read one memoir this year or in your lifetime, Maman’s Homesick Pie is the memoir to read.”
– Heather Haven, author of the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries

For ten years, Donia Bijan brought her love of food and excellent taste to a delightful little bistro, called L’ami Donia. It closed, to the sadness of many locals, including myself, in 2004, when she chose to spend more time with her family.

Now we can share her love of food in a different way. Part memoir, part cookbook, Maman’s Homesick Pie gives us a taste of her history and her home. She will be speaking at the downtown branch of the Palo Alto Library on Wednesday, Feb. 27th. at 7pm.

Tales of a Reading

IMAG1441 IMAG1430The space was a narrow alley of books, filled with folding chairs. Every chair was full by the time I sat down, glass of wine in hand, to listen to Tony Fletcher read. In other cities, Tony has arranged for performances of the Smiths’ music by local artists, but there wasn’t room for that here in the tiny second floor space. Green Apple Books, on Clement Street in San Francisco, held this reading in the Philosophy section. It was intimate, but it worked.

Tony read several sections of his biography of the Smiths, entitled “A Light That Never Goes Out,” after asking the audience how many of us were fans and how many had actually seen the Smiths live. He allowed that we would have to be at least 40 in order to have been around when the Smiths were touring, in the mid-80’s.  The crowd at the reading was a mix, but we were all interested in the details Tony had to share.

Tony read about the first meeting between Morrissey and Marr, as well as about their first and second American tours, giving us detailed background of the people he knew and their roles in the Smiths’ story. His voice, which hasn’t lost the English accent, despite more than two decades of living in America, took me there, into the recording studio and the hotel rooms on the road.

The biography is long and dense, but the narrative shines through. Tony tells the story with an authenticity and an understanding of the reader’s interest. This isn’t a dry, purely academic tale, which is not to say that it isn’t thoroughly researched and footnoted. But Tony is interested in digging deeply into the reasons for the Smiths’ popularity, for their near immaculate conception, as well as their excruciatingly sudden dispersal.

I have only dipped into the book so far, reading scattered sections, but there is so much there, that I will go back and enjoy it more fully. And when I do, I will hear Tony’s voice in my head, telling me his story.

Silicon Valley Reads 2013

It’s the new year and time for Silicon Valley Reads to choose a new book, or in this case, two new books. walk1 Minefields-of-the-Heart-lg

This year, Silicon Valley Reads will be focusing on an important subject: the aftermath of war, the human impact on those who return and the people left behind.

It seems to me that in the past, the primary casualties of war were on the battlefield. We mourned our dead and dealt with the rehabilitation of our wounded. But the wars of this century have been different. I’m not sure that they have taken a greater psychological toll than any previous wars, or we are more aware of it.

I think it will make for both compelling reading and interesting discussions and I encourage all of you to take part.

The kickoff event will be Wednesday, January 30, at the Heritage Theater in Campbell. Both of the authors,Brian Castner and Sue Diaz, will be speaking at Books, Inc. in Palo Alto on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7pm.

You can find out more about all the events planned for this year at http://www.siliconvalleyreads.org

New Year’s Reading List

I usually get books for Christmas and then I have lots of books to look forward to reading. This year, I didn’t get any, but I still have a list of books I want to read. I’d love to hear if you have any on your “to be read” list!

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The first one on my list is a debut, coming-of-age novel by Lisa O’Donnell, a Scottish screenwriter living in LA. “The Death of Bees” sucked me in from the first few pages. Two young sisters try to cope with the death of their parents. They bury the bodies in the back yard and try to avoid the notice of the authorities at least until the older girl, Marnie, turns 16, and is legally able to take care of her sister, Nelly. The voices of the characters are very compelling. Here, Marnie talks about her sister.

“Truth is Nelly’s a wee bit touched, not retarded or anything, just different. She doesn’t have many friends, she doesn’t laugh much and when you talk to her about something serious, she gets really quiet, likes she’s taking it in and then rearranging it in her head. I don’t know how she arranges it, I just know its different from how I might arrange it. She also takes things very literally, so you have to be careful what you say. For instance, if I said ‘You’re fucking mental,’ she’d say something like ‘I can assure you, Marnie, one is perfectly sane!’ I don’t know why she’s not dead to be honest. You can’t talk like that, not in Maryhill.”

I felt for the girls from the beginning and there were enough stray, mysterious comments to keep me turning the pages.

Even better, Lisa O’Donnell is coming to speak in Palo Alto this weekend! Saturday, January 12, you can see her at the Palo Alto Library, Downtown branch at 3pm. 270 Forest Avenue, Palo Alto.