Banned Books Week

Filed under: News — marcia at 11:12 pm on Monday, September 29, 2008

This week is Banned Books Week. Let’s read some controversial literature! I am continually surprised that people still try to ban Mark Twain.

According to the American Library Association, more than 400 books were challenged in 2007. The 10 most challenged titles were:

1. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
2. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
3. Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes
4. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
6. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
7. TTYL by Lauren Myracle
8. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
9. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


Lauren Conrad gets book deal, causes aneurysm

Filed under: News — marcia at 7:06 pm on Wednesday, September 17, 2008

HarperCollins, come on! Lauren Conrad, star of reality show “The Hills” and possibly the most boring person on television, signed a book deal for a fiction series based on her life. Lots of people like Wonder Bread. Maybe it should write a book.


David Foster Wallace online

Filed under: News — marcia at 7:30 am on Monday, September 15, 2008

David Foster Wallace — author of “Infinite Jest” and “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men,” among many other works — died last week. In his memory, Harper’s Magazine has collected full versions of pieces he wrote for the magazine here. The Los Angeles Times scouted YouTube for video interviews of him and put the best of them here for easy viewing. Definitely an original talent, it is a shame to lose him so young from what police say was a suicide.


From the Golden Age …

Filed under: News — marcia at 9:56 am on Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The New York Times has an excerpt from “The Time of Their Lives: The Golden Age of Great American Publishers, Their Editors and Authors” about how editor Robert Giroux (who recently passed away) missed the chance to publish “The Catcher in the Rye.”

I gave [my boss at Harcourt, Eugene Reynal] the book to read. He didn’t like it, didn’t understand it. He asked me, “Is this kid in the book supposed to be crazy?” …“Gene,” I said, “I’ve shaken hands with this author. I agreed to publish this book.”

“Yes,” he said, “but, Bob, you’ve got to remember, we have a textbook department.” And I said, “What’s that got to do with it?” He said, “This is a book about a kid going to prep school.” So he sent it to the textbook people, who read it and said, “It’s not for us.” …

Research help

Filed under: News — marcia at 5:57 pm on Monday, August 18, 2008

Deb’s Historical Research Page has links to all sorts of resources for finding things out such as what card games were popular in the 19th century or the price of foods in the 17th century. I found this site through the site of a well-respected researcher, Lisa Gold. I suspect she’ll continue to feature more helpful stuff like this.


Biographer turned forger turned memoirist

Filed under: News — marcia at 9:29 pm on Sunday, August 3, 2008

The New York Times Book Review has a piece on “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” — the memoir of Lee Israel, a biographer who turned to forging letters from famous literary and entertainment figures when times got tough.

She bought a gaggle of vintage manual typewriters, had famous letterheads printed up on antique paper and used an old television as a light box on which she could trace signatures. Even so, while writing as Noël Coward, Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber and, most convincingly, Louise Brooks, Israel remained more an enhancer than an outright fabricator. She would use some of her subjects’ best real lines (Brooks on the studio head Harry Cohn: “My cat has spit up hairballs more attractive than him”) and take care with the chronology of their lives. The seams rarely showed. Indeed, the editor of “The Letters of Noël Coward,” published only last year, included two Israel pastiches — “a big hoot and a terrific compliment,” thought the erstwhile forger.

It was her Coward forgeries that ultimately led to her downfall. A friend of Coward’s saw forged letters that were more open with his homosexuality than he ever would have been in correspondence. And so the Feds were alerted to Israel’s activities, and her forgery career was over.
I’m dubious about supporting someone profiting from their crimes. But damn if this all isn’t terribly fascinating.


Renegade Writing Group to Storm the Phoenix Theater

Filed under: News — joy at 8:41 am on Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Petaluma’s Word Pirates put on a show to entertain and scintillate your senses… with literature!

Petaluma, Calif., May 15 – Word Pirates, a professional writing group, will host its second annual reading on May 15. True to their name, the Word Pirates will commandeer the Phoenix Theater to tell tales that could rouse a dead man.

Last year’s standing-room-only reading featured local artists, gripping stories, and a surprise pirate duel. This year’s event will be even better. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m., with pirate-themed appetizers, grog, and surprise entertainment. Then the Word Pirates will read original pieces created in the group during the last year. This event is free and all are welcome. Peg legs and parrots must be checked at the door.

Word Pirates Reading
Date: Thursday, May 15
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: The Phoenix Theater – 201 Washington St., Petaluma
Cost: Free (donations welcomed)

Reading at the Event: Robin Cadogan, Morgan Elliott, Joy Lanzendorfer, Ross Lockhart, and Marcia Simmons.

For more information, visit, e-mail [email protected], or call 707-782-0971. Arrr!


About the Group: Word Pirates is an independent writing group dedicated to the development and publication of creative writing. Co-founders Joy Lanzendorfer and Marcia Simmons chose the group’s name to reflect that while the group takes writing seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. You can visit the Word Pirates online at

Joy Lanzendorfer is a freelance writer living in Petaluma. Her work has been published in Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Salon, Imbibe, Paste, Bay Nature, San Francisco Chronicle, Pacific Sun and the North Bay Bohemian, among others. She also has an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, where she sat on the editorial board for Fourteen Hills Literary Journal. She was a judge in last year’s Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award.

Marcia Simmons is an author services manager for Federated Media Publishing. Previously, she was the managing editor for the North Bay Business Journal, a New York Times publication. She was an editor and contributor for Project Censored’s annual book of censored stories and produced radio and TV programs for the organization. Her blog can be found at

Word Pirates Turn 2!

Filed under: News — joy at 12:48 pm on Wednesday, April 16, 2008

photo by Joy Lanzendorfer

At last night’s meeting, the Word Pirates celebrated our second anniversary since Marcia, Leona, and I founded the group in 2006. Wow. Time flies, huh?

~ Joy

Come To The Word Pirates Reading!

Filed under: News — joy at 8:38 am on Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On Thursday, May 15, 2008, we will be holding the Second Annual Word Pirates Reading. There will be artists and excitement and several short, witty pieces read with charm and grace by our members. Come one, come all! Time TBA. Keep checking back here for more info.

Send Glimmer Train your short story, dude

Filed under: News — marcia at 11:48 am on Sunday, March 16, 2008

If you have a short story, you best submit it to Glimmer Train. There’s no reason not to. It’s a quality publication. It’s free to submit your story, and payment for accepted stories is $700 plus 10 issues. The current reading period is the entire month of April, so you still have a few weeks for editing and polishing. (Or writing something new altogether) Snap to it. Go to Glimmer Train for the full details.


« Previous PageNext Page »