It’s walking through one door that enables you to try the next.

Screenwriter's ConferenceWhile writing a blog about “retirement as an open door,” I decided this August to attend a Screenwriters Conference in Los Angeles and, despite my reluctance to embarrass myself in public, signed up to present my screenplay at the conference “Pitch Fest.” The latter was to consist of sixty to eighty tables staffed with representatives from film agencies and production companies. Participants would line up at tables, pitch their scripts for three minutes, receive two minutes of critique, and then move to the next table on their list. A form of speed dating, I called it, in which all your dates are there for the express purpose of giving you criticism. I feared it like I feared sporting a bikini–thirty years after it looked good on me.  The average age of script readers has been pegged at 22 to 27 years.  Would I be the oldest person there? Continue reading

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Avid Reader, Davis

Avid Reader, Davis

The question of who gets to be a story teller and of whose stories are read and acknowledged is crucial–not just for women, but for men and for the way civil society as a whole is constructed.

The “She Writes” in my title alludes to two things–my publisher, She Writes Press, and the fact that more women are writing for public consumption than ever before.  One factor in the surge of Continue reading

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Noise 2

“The door is only a door. It makes no promises.”

Earlier today I read about a screenwriting conference to be held mid-August in Los Angeles.  The conference will include the usual workshops, speakers, and panels along with a “pitch slam”–a chaotic, noise-filled event at which a hundred or so screenwriters line up to describe their scripts to sixty agents and producers.  The screenwriter’s “pitch” is followed by three minutes of critique from the agent.

Were I to attend this conference, I’m certain I would be the oldest person there.  (I’ve seen pictures of these gatherings, and aspiring screenwriters, along with most agents and producers, appear to be pushing twenty-seven.)  I can already imagine the awkwardness, the possible alienation, I might experience, and yet I’m strongly thinking about going and about paying to do the pitch. (Imagine speed dating in which it’s understood that all your “dates” are there for the express purpose of being critical.)

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In memory of my dear friend, Mary, the magical “Claire” of my memoir who died Sunday, June 15, of a brain tumor, I am re-posting this chapter from my memoir, Tasting Home.

Mary In Her Bathing SuitBefore I entered the women’s group at Penn, I didn’t much trust other women. (Mother had left me wary about members of our sex.)  In the end, I would have a long history with such groups—and the menus would become increasingly elaborate– but it was Claire who prepared me, who first opened me to the love and care of women.

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With Authors Judith Newton, Jessica Levine, and Rossandra White

May 17 – 7:30 PM  • The Avid Reader • 617 Second Street • Davis, CA 95616  •  (530)  758-4040

 May 17th at 7:30 p.m., the Avid Reader bookstore in Davis presents book readings and discussion with authors Judith Newton, Jessica Levine, and Rossandra White. Their recent books are published by She Writes Press, a San Francisco Bay Area publisher founded to serve members of She Writes, the largest global community of women writers online and women writers everywhere. The program showcases the diversity and power of the She Writes list and reflects the reality that more women are writing for public consumption than ever before.

The authors will discuss the new publishing possibilities available to authors today, their own journeys to publication, and the ways in which women’s lives and stories are as central to history and culture as those of men.

The audience is invited to participate in this discussion and celebration of women’s voices and their potential empowerment in publishing today. Continue reading

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“The more expensive staterooms on ship came with butlers. The very idea of a butler made us break into a sweat.”

I’ve been meaning to write about cruising for a long time.  Cruises are great when previous trips have made you sick of packing and unpacking luggage and of dragging large bags over cobblestones and carrying them up staircases that never end.  Suitcase weariness was mainly why my husband, Bill, and I decided to try another cruise last fall.  Shipboard closets are reliably large and come with drawers. You unpack once and that’s it. And after a few days of walking six to seven hours on land excursions, you find that returning to your stateroom really does feel like going home. The plumbing is reliable and you don’t have to keep figuring out where things are and how to flush the toilet, and this time we even had a bath tub. What luxury!  And then there’s the verandah, good for private moments with the ocean.

Our Verandah

Our Verandah

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I can’t say that  I was ever fond of France, a fact that had much to do with my inability to properly pronounce  the language– and with the scorn of Parisians, in the past,  for my less than perfect efforts.  I  spoke Spanish and Italian well enough for travel—and German too, though Germans wouldn’t let you speak more than one or two words in their native tongue, before they insisted on dazzling you with impeccable English. But the French were less likely to bail you out.  There’s nothing like French linguistic disdain to keep you vacationing in Italy and Spain.



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Tasting Home Cover ThumbnailAward winning authors Judith Newton, Tasting Home, and Rebecca Coffey, Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake, explore intersections of the literary and the gastronomical.

*Thursday, April 3, 7:30.At Books Inc., 2275 Market St., San Francisco* Continue reading

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TastingHomeFrontCover High ResTraverse City, MI, March 13, 2014 — Today, Foreword Reviews, the only review magazine solely dedicated to discovering new indie books, announced the finalists for its 16th Annual Book of the Year Awards. Each year, Foreword shines a light on a small group of indie authors and publishers whose groundbreaking work stands out from the crowd. Foreword‘s awards are more than just a shiny sticker on the front of a book; they help connect the best indie books to readers eager to discover new stories written by previously unknown authors.

TASTING HOME is a finalist for the 2013 Book of the Year Awards in the WOMEN STUDIES category. In the next two months, a panel of over 100 librarians and booksellers will determine the winners of these prestigious awards. A celebration of the winners will take place during the American Library Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas on Friday, June 27 at 6 p.m. with awards in over 60 categories, cash prizes for the best in fiction and nonfiction, and widespread recognition. Continue reading

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” Perhaps the story of our love belongs to the 1960s, when everything seemed possible, a spirit we never lost.”

Dick and I 1968

Dick and I 1968

I met him in graduate school during the early sixties, the kind of smart, studious young man I‘d always been drawn to but never managed to date.  He said “oops” a lot and was so funny that being in his company felt like having childhood for the first time. He knew music, wrote poetry in a serious way, and was, in my eyes, the smartest person in our circle. We only saw each other in a group or in a threesome, but we began to rest in each other‘s company, to draw close without touching.

In the spring of our second year, he had a series of anxiety attacks, and that summer he left graduate school to teach. He also entered therapy. We sent each other letters–he rather less frequently than I–and two years later he returned, giving me a passionate kiss upon arrival. In November he said to me, “I think I love you.” I told my friend, “He is the only man I’ve ever wanted. I’ll do anything to have him.” Continue reading

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