What Are You Reading? NaNoWriMo Edition.

On Facebook today, National Book Award Finalist Karen E. Bender (of the excellent Refund, among many others), suggested that during National Novel Writing Month, every participant buy a novel as well as write one. If each one of the estimated 300,000 NaNoWriMo writers bought a novel as well as wrote one, that would be awesome. “Just a thought,” Karen said. A great thought, I say. NaBoReMo I will call it, because short story collections are my obsession right now. Also, I like to spice it up with some nonfiction once in a while too. With reading, I flail around. To get your book buying show…

Elizabeth Holzman Reads “The Flat Earth”

Last summer, I was lucky enough to see a short story I wrote performed at Sacramento Stories on Stage. This monthly event is just one more reason why Sacramento is a premier literary town and a wonderful place to be a reader and a writer. My story “The Flat Earth” appears in the print edition of Night Train Journal released last March. The story opens on a scene at a ninth grade girl slumber party that is based almost word for word on something that happened to me when I was a kid. Someday you should try having one of…

Rereading Season

It was actually not a million degrees today. Perhaps fall has decided to blow in after all. For me, fall is the season for rereading novels I’ve loved. For a lady whose To Be Read pile is as tall as mine, it may seem like I don’t have time to go over old territory. But I can’t resist. Besides, as a writer these novels (among  so many others) have specific lessons to teach me that are refreshed as I reread. Here are a few of my frequent rereads as the days grow shorter: White Oleander and Paint it Black by…

What Are You Reading?

My favorite question in the world to ask and answer is, “What are you reading?” I stepped up my reading game as I finished my graduate school program last spring. For a long time my answer to my favorite question was probably an article about successful strategies for teacher mentoring in Australia. Australians are doing a lot of interesting research on this topic, if you want to know. My reading list since spring has been much more varied. My reviews are always four and five star because I don’t continue reading things that don’t interest me. I am a very rude…

To Not Flinch

Sacramento is in a quiet golden literary age, in my opinion. We enjoy an embarrassment of riches of independent booksellers, a poetry community, regular spoken word, poetry series and open mic events, and a bunch of critically acclaimed, courageous, badass writers doing great work. I say it’s a quiet golden age because Sacramento is not famous yet for being a hotbed of literary courage. Yet whenever I attend Sacramento Stories on Stage on the last Friday of the month, or a book launch at Time Tested Books, I leave inspired and amazed that I share at least a day job zip code with these…

A Great Yes: The Camera Man

Ten years ago a  young man was beaten almost to death in his high school bathroom. The kids who jumped him broke his jaw. The police caught the kids who jumped him because a friend of theirs had filmed the beating and posted it online. The news announced that the police were still looking for the camera man. Online beatings are a thing now (i.e. WORLDSTARHIPHOP), but ten years ago this was a newsworthy event. Talk radio shows invited psychologists to talk about the kind of young person who could take video of a victim’s beating and not do anything to…

Refund by Karen E. Bender: A Book Review

I just finished reading Refund, a collection of short stories written by author Karen E. Bender and published by Counterpoint Press. All of the stories center around the question of money in a post 9/11 economy for characters who are used to being able to make a living. With an eye that is beyond observant and almost prescient, Ms. Bender reveals exactly what is at stake when people’s livelihoods are threatened. Her characters scramble for dignity, survival, and a sense of selfhood while the systems that are supposed to sustain them crumble away. For me, reading this collection of stories was an…

A Great Yes: Brackish Vol. 2

I sat on a shiny orange bedspread in one of the cheapest motels in Santa Cruz and sent a poetry submission to the publisher and editor whose opinion I cared about most in the world.  This wasn’t a piece sent with the armored professionalism  of most of my literary submissions. This was a flinging of my work at the feet of someone I deeply admired, and who just happened to be sitting on an identical faux-Southwestern style bedspread in the room on the other side of the wall. Evan Hartzell is a Los Angeles-based artist and musician who publishes the art and literary…

You Write What’s Real: The Secret Lives of Young Adults

Last December I visited an English class at a continuation high school. The students had read and discussed  my YA novel HOW TO BE MANLY  (Giant Squid Books) and the plan was for me to give a talk and answer their questions. I came bearing a big pink box of donuts (if you read the book you’ll know why). As I put a donut on every desk, one girl jumped from her seat, unable to wait for my presentation to begin to share her thoughts. “I like you,” she said. “Because you write what’s real.”  Her classmates nodded in agreement, glad that she broke…