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Lagniappe: A Little Something Extra June 11, 2012 (Melinda Palacio) In the past two months, I've had the pleasure of visiting Cal State University Fresno, El Paso Community College, and Cal State University Channel Islands. Most of campuses have invited me to discuss my novel, Ocotillo Dreams. However, I always start off with something I learned to offer in Louisiana, "lagniappe," meaning a little something extra. In my presentations, it means I introduce readers to my poetry and talking about my journey as a writer. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Microsoft Word Revisited April 15, 2012 (Steve Beisner) What piece of modern technology is most responsible for the not-fit-for-polite-company vocabulary in your everyday speech? If you answered "Microsoft Word," you're in good company. But is Microsoft Word really that bad? Yes, and in some ways it may be getting worse. (complete article...)

Ozark Noir August 28, 2011 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Shelly's appreciation of his top pick for the novelist who should be, but probably is not, on everyone's list of favorites. Can you guess? (complete article...)

My Turn: How I got my start at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference June 21, 2011 (Melinda Palacio) The rebirth of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference begins next week, June 18-23, under the new ownership of Monte Schulz and Nicole Starczak. The conference has been on hold for two years. For many local Santa Barbara authors, the conference is where we got our start. (complete article...)

An American Latina in South Korea June 7, 2011 (Reyna Grande) In October 2010, I received an email from a man named Woo, Suk-Kyun, inviting me to participate in a literary conference in South Korea. I was flabbergasted. Ever since my first novel, Across a Hundred Mountains, was published in June of 2006, I had received invitations to speaks at schools, teacher conferences, author luncheons, graduations, and literary conferences, all here in the area or within the U.S. Yet I had never been asked to present abroad. South Korea? I thought. Who in the world knows me in South Korea? (complete article...)

He'd Do It Again April 23, 2011 (Melinda Palacio) I sat down with poet Martín Espada at the recent Border Book Festival in Mesilla, New Mexico. Among other things, we discussed Espada's new book, The Trouble Ball, Norton 2011. (complete article...)

Goin' Postal, 90049 April 21, 2011 (Molly-Ann Leikin) As writers, we all depend on the postal service, but sometimes, standing in that long line, fantasies come to mind... and they get stronger the longer the waits. Apparently this happened to a song writer we know. (complete article...)

Is the Santa Barbara Literary Scene Dead? April 19, 2011 (By Melinda Palacio) Gone are the downtown bookstores. We grumbled when two big Box bookstores moved to State and Carrillo. Barnes and Noble, then Borders, squeezed out the Earthling and forced the independent store out of business. The town took years to warm up to Borders, but we took advantage of the space with poetry open mics, book signings, musical and literary performances, and a meeting place for residents and writers. Apparently, these stores were big enough to fail. Soon, talk of bankruptcy replaced book talk. (complete article...)

Good Medicine March 27, 2011 (Alison Schaumburg) I am suffering from Anne Lowenkopf-student-envy. At first, I felt it was a disease with no cure. At her standing-room-only memorial service I listened to sweet memories from her husband, nieces and a dear friend who traveled all the way from London, grateful former students, a poem that brought tears to the poet, and a chant by the Vendanta nuns, all soul mates. (complete article...)

Words on Paper -- New Releases of Libre Office and Scrivener March 16, 2011 (by Steve Beisner) The tools for writers just keep getting better. Cheaper too. Whether you like the basics (a good word processor) or are most productive with a writing tool that also helps with researching, noodling (what some call "thinking"), and organizing, new software versions are constantly being released. In this article we look at both ends of the spectrum: Libre Office as an example of modern word processors and Scrivner, representing the complete writers' environment. (complete article...)

Reading Gabriela Mistral January 12, 2011 (By Melinda Palacio) At last month's First Thursday Santa Barbara, I had the privilege to read poems in Spanish by Gabriela Mistral. Every now and then I get to prove I'm no pocha as I twirl and roll rs in my best Los Angelina accent. I can say this with a wink because my cousins in Chihuahua always made fun of me when I spoke. (Reprint from La Bloga). (complete article...)

Book Review: Labeled January 8, 2011 (Reviewed by Sharon Dirlam) By Mark Salvatore Publisher: Create Space, 2010 Sold on Amazon for $9.99 paperback, $4.99 ebook 231 pages (complete article...)

Copyediting, Proofreading, Line Editing... What's It All About? October 20, 2010 (Catherine Viel) As a writer, you should be familiar with the various steps, including various editing services, that help turn a raw manuscript into something that will make publishers smile. Catherine Viel provides a guidebook to the mysteries of editing. (complete article...)

A Bookfair to Remember October 8, 2010 (Melinda Palacio) The largest gathering of Latino authors in U.S. History happens this weekend, October 9 and 10, at Cal State University, Los Angeles, Greenlee Plaza, thanks to Reyna Grande's diligent efforts with the Latino Book and Family Festival, 11 am to 6pm. (complete article...)

The Familiar Can Also Surprise September 23, 2010 (Kathleen Roxby) In this era of rapid change it's easy to fall into the "new and improved" world view proposed to us as advertising's great truth: that something can be considered worthwhile only if it is novel. Kathleen Roxby rethinks two literary giants and finds there is always more to learn. (complete article...)

Striking Gold: The Right Copyeditor Can Make Your Manuscript Shine September 4, 2010 ( Catherine Viel ) What's the best way to choose a freelance editor? By asking the right questions and understanding the level of editing your manuscript needs. Once you've decided your book deserves the extra attention (and extra potential for sale), the true challenge is finding just the right copyeditor for you and your prose. Here's a place to start. (complete article...)

Flor y Canto: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow August 24, 2010 (Melinda Palacio) What started 37 years ago as a photography assignment for the Daily Trojan has turned into a reunion and second conference for the Flor y Canto Festival of Poetry. (complete article...)

Devouring Critiques: Seven Ways to Nourish Your Writing July 20, 2010 (Dawn Downey) About three years ago, Dawn Downey's role as member of her writing group morphed into one of leadership. As facilitator and editor, she watched writers cower when their work was discussed. Many encouraging comments floated right over writers' heads into oblivion because they were too nervous to take it all in. Here is Dawn's list of suggestions, offered at the beginning of each semester. (complete article...)

Good News for The Santa Barbara Writers Conference July 17, 2010 (by Steve Beisner) The Santa Barbara Writers Conference is back! For the last two years Santa Barbara writers, including regular conference attendees from around the world, have felt a mid-June hole in their lives caused by the absence of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. But after a recent public meeting it appears that lovers of good writing can begin making plans for June of 2011. (complete article...)

Slow Summer? (I Hope So!) June 3, 2010 (Melinda Palacio) Last year I experienced a publishing double header. My poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown won Kulupi Press's 2009 sense of Place competition and publication prize, while my novel manuscript, Ocotillo Dreams was accepted for publication this Fall by Arizona State University Bilingual Review Press. I spent the earlier months of Spring engrossed in a national book tour for Folsom Lockdown. Does this mean, I actually get a summer break? (complete article...)

What Do "They" Want? April 27, 2010 (By Shelly Lowenkopf) They're back. You know, "Them", the bane of all honest toilers in the fields of words. Shelly explains who "they" are and how to deal with "them"... or is it "us"... or "you"? (complete article...)

Ekphrasis: A Creative Process for Improving Your Poetry April 4, 2010 (Andre Levi) Stuck for an inspiration? Andre Levi mixes her professional interests in psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience with her literary talent to make some suggestions that are sure to get that pen (or keyboard) working at a satisfying pace. [– Editors] (complete article...)

The Gift That Keeps on Giving March 22, 2010 (Josie E. Martin) Writing sometimes resembles putting a note into a bottle and throwing it into the sea: one never really knows who will be affected by our efforts or what changes those efforts will cause in the lives of people we touch with our words. Josie Martin's example makes us pause and wonder. (complete article...)

Dialogue In Comedy February 25, 2010 (Mary Rose Betten) Funny woman and author, Mary Rose Betten started her literary career as a stand up comic. She provides insight into the stand up world, her transition from funny talk to funny words on paper, and how she learned to write comedic dialog. (complete article...)

Book Review: My Mother's Island (Marnie Mueller) February 4, 2010 (Reviewed by Sharon Dirlam) From Curbstone Press. Any woman who has ever had a love-hate relationship with her own mother will recognize truths, both painful and tender, in My Mother's Island, a novel about a grown daughter keeping watch over her mother's final days of life. (complete article...)

Taking the High Road for Poetry January 31, 2010 (Melinda Palacio) Last week, I was surprised, though I shouldn't have been, by a conversation I had with a literary agent who gave me some "free advice" and suggested I give up poetry and devote all of my creative energy to writing novels. As someone approaching the writing life from solely a monetary perspective, the literary agent just didn't seem to get it. I'm very proud of my poetry publications and could not imagine a literary life without poetry. True, I'm building a literary career without the assistance of an agent and I write what I want, be it fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Sometimes working with a small press is just the right therapy for a poetry-fearing world. (complete article...)

The Virtue of Focus, an Old Fashioned Strategy for Learning and Creativity January 23, 2010 (by Steve Beisner) An essay in which the author, an unabashed cheerleader for technology and especially computer culture, nevertheless argues for the utility of non-multitasked interaction of writers with their environment. (complete article...)

Funny, Music Man Tackles the Craft of Writing and Being Famous December 20, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) Billy Goodnick hasn't used up his nine lives yet, but he is on his third iteration of being. He's managed to make a name for himself as a musician, a green garden design architect, and most recently, he's putting it all together by blogging, the Garden Wise Guy, and freelancing and working on his new book, which he hopes will translate to a national speaking tour. (complete article...)

NOLA Writer: The Saints Are Marching December 11, 2009 (Steve Beisner) Every time I get back to my New Orleans home I feel like I've dropped a heavy backpack from my shoulders, reclined into an easy chair with a cold drink in my hand, and relaxed. In fact, that's often exactly what happens. Although New Orleans has a reputation for hard partying, it's also a place that encourages visitors and residents to slow down, de-stress, relax, and just muse about what it all means. Maybe that's why it's a good spot for writers. (complete article...)

The Importance of Making Book Cover Decisions December 7, 2009 (Diana M. Raab) The truth is, most of us do judge a book by its cover and this fact was magnified during the production of my latest poetry collection, The Guilt Gene. My publisher is a small press and typically with small and independent presses the author has some input in terms of book cover design. Not only does this stroke the author's ego, but it also assists the publisher in what can sometimes be a time-consuming and tenuous decision. (complete article...)

Social Networking and the Internet Take Over the Old Fashioned Book Tour October 18, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) Catherine Ryan Hyde has stepped up her production line. She had been accustomed to churning out one and a half adult books a year in the US. Her recent popularity in the UK has resulted in her productivity being contracted to one adult and one young adult book each year until 2012. These are the modern woes and joys of a working writer supporting herself by her pen. The extra responsibility means she must limit social visits. However, her revamped website and updates on social networking sites, such as twitter, facebook, and myspace, keep her in touch with fans, friends, and family. (complete article...)

Poet and Photographer Carol DeCanio Finds Companionship in Her Craft September 29, 2009 (Melinda Palacio and Carol DeCanio) Carol DeCanio says if she were stranded on a desert island, she would still write poetry- it being her natural response to our world. Her first memory of writing poetry was when she was 9 years old and showing a many stanza poem to her interested, if not concerned, father that included the words, "finding love in the bushes of sin". It's a leap like that, she says, that is possible, when something springs out in your writing that is very distant from what you are aware of. (complete article...)

Junot Diaz Wows Students at Tulane with Oscar Wao Required Reading September 13, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) Junot Díaz spoke to a group of eager first-year Tulane students. The event was open to the public and to high school students in a packed auditorium at Tulane University in New Orleans. Díaz set the tone by asking of his latest novel, "Is this required shit?" His intro allowed him to slip easily from his Hip Hop, potty-mouth speak, to a more academic tone. He spoke candidly and thoughtfully on a variety of subjects and managed to answer every question from the long line of anxious students in the center of the auditorium. From Colorism to the Platano Index, to unreliable and manipulative narrators, the Dominican-American author kept his message "real" as he explained his intention for his complex novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. (complete article...)

A Conversation with Reyna Grande September 4, 2009 (Interview by Atria Books, article edited by Steve Beisner) Reyna Grande is interviewed by Atria Books, the publisher of her latest novel, Dancing with Butterflies. This second novel by Ms Grande will be available in October. It has received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. (complete article...)

What Makes a New Orleans Literary Event? August 27, 2009 (Steve Beisner) "We do things a little different, here," a woman said to me as we crowded into the Latter Library. That pretty much sums up a lot of life in New Orleans, and certainly the One Book One New Orleans party provided evidence of that.   I've heard deeper thinkers than myself talk about New Orleans' penchant for celebration of the commons. Maybe that's it. In any case it was great to see so many people come out for a Wednesday afternoon library party. (complete article...)

Ernie Witham Pulls Off a How To Memoir on Writing, Being Funny, and Earning a Living August 9, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) Funny man Ernie Witham follows his debut book Ernie's World the Book with the more complex, A Year in the Life of a "Working" Writer. While Ernie's World the Book represents a large sampling of the author's collected humor columns from the Montecito Journal, Witham's second book is much more than a collection of columns. Imagine stalking Witham for a year, finding out what makes his funny bone tick, and how he goes about writing his humor columns and you'll get an idea of what his memoir is all about. (complete article...)

Snippets and Fragments: Preditors & Editors August 3, 2009 (Editors) Those writers who have been lurking around the Internet for a long time may already know about Preditors & Editors. (The misspelling of the first word of their name is intentional.) If you haven't discovered this site and are interested separating the competent from the incompetent, and the honest from the scam artists, you might want to bookmark their page and see how your potential agent, publisher, freelance editor, or other literary professional measures up. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Apple Pages, a New Alternative for Writers July 31, 2009 (Steve Beisner) There's a new kid, or perhaps young adult, on the block where word processors live. For a long time Microsoft Word has been the big shot of word processing. Word Perfect has been showing its age for some time and is now doddering into oblivion. OpenOffice now matches Word in almost every area, is free, and is solid as a Humvee, but is also as ugly as one. Enter Apple's new version of the Pages word processor: capable and beautiful. (complete article...)

Monte Schulz On Writing the Great American Novel July 8, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) Monte Schulz has emerged from the shadow of his father, Charles Schulz of the famed Peanuts comic strip. He's proud of his latest novel, This Side of Jordan, a crime thriller and part of a literary epic that spans two other books, Fields of Eden and The Big Town which will be released in 2010 and 2011 by Fantagraphics, also publishers of The Complete Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. The ten-year journey that has landed Monte Schulz a five book deal represents the decade that was his forties. The result, says Schulz, is a book similar to Steinbeck's, set in the time of his parents's youth. His big American book and dream of writing the great American novel has been split into three different books. For readers who are doing the math, the 2nd book is a true crime novel, Naughty and the fifth book is the collection of This Side of Jordan, Fields of Eden, and The Big Town. (complete article...)

The Webs We Weave: the Close-Knit Community of the Santa Barbara Poetry Scene June 11, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) It's no wonder there is a return to poetry after the Jesusita fire forced the evacuation of a third of Santa Barbara's population. Even our Poet Laureate, David Starkey, who himself housed a few fire evacuees, moved family and house guests for one day of evacuation. Thanks to the vibrant poetry scene of our town, there's no lack in readings, workshop, and book signings. The poetry community in Santa Barbara is tight-knit and hardworking. For example, Poet-in-Schools Chryss Yost was evacuated, but she was ready to brave the fire to travel to Goleta's Hollister School to give her weekly lesson. (complete article...)

The Fire This Time May 25, 2009 (Josie Martin) [Josie's thoughts on writing and life with fire. -- Editor] We are sweeping away ashes on Mt. Calvary; much worse detritus flying through the air than last time in November when the "Tea Fire" came right next door to our house. This one is called the "Jesusitas Fire" because it started up the Canyon, perhaps a mile behind our famous S.B. Mission along a trail by that name. I should think "little Jesus" would be ashamed to show his face at the Mission for a while after wreaking such disaster. Thirty-Thousand people had to evacuate in a town of 97,000 ! Thankfully, only about 80 homes were destroyed, but many more were damaged,and the fact that the long hot dry summer lies ahead borders on the stuff of nightmares. (complete article...)

The Email That Got Published May 14, 2009 (Gia Sola) Ten stories out, I have a sassy short-short now appearing in SLAB, the annual journal published by Slippery Rock University. "The Corset" began as an email to a man I was trying to make jealous. And since I'd put as much energy into that message as any of my other works of fiction, I decided to go ahead and submit this one too. If I did anything differently, it was that I didn't over-edit the piece, but that's not the (sole) reason it got published. (complete article...)

The Princess and the Mattress, the Journal, and Magic April 27, 2009 (Josie Martin) I do my best writing in bed, not because I am a princess with a magical pea under the mattress, but because it is the only place where interruptions are kept at bay. And sometimes, not often, a magic appears on the page of my journal which is also my favorite book to write. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 12 April 15, 2009 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly looks at Schadenfreude. (complete article...)

Sage Trail Publisher Suzanne Frost Is Passionate for Poetry. April 2, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) Last February Suzanne Frost reached her year anniversary for publishing Sage Trail Poetry Magazine. For Frost, the road to publishing a poetry magazine began ten years ago in Taos, New Mexicio with the models of two poetry journals: Cathy McCracken's Willow Street and Dale Harris's Central Avenue. Sage Trail is a rebirth of the two magazines and is currently produced in Santa Barbara, California. Frost releases a new issue of Sage Trail at the Poetry Zone, every second Saturday of the month, held at the Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21 West Anapamu Street in Santa Barbara, from 2 to 4pm. (complete article...)

Write Me a Poem -- Creativity On Demand March 20, 2009 (Steve Beisner) "Assignment: Write a Poem About ..." Why is one thing easy to write about, while another leaves us mute, even when both are inherently interesting, complex, and full of possibilities? As a member of a group of poets asked to write poems inspired by the visual artist, Yinka Shonibare, I found the assignment surprisingly easy, and I wondered why. (complete article...)

Writer's Work Speaks for Itself at Santa Barbara's Speaking of Stories February 21, 2009 (Melinda Palacio) Santa Barbara writer Susan Chiavelli has had an incredible winning streak with her short stories. She's won three first place prizes for her fiction and non fiction work. In February Speaking of Stories will feature her essay, "Death, Another Country," winner of the Chattahoochee Review's Lamar York Prize for Nonfiction in 2008. She's more than thrilled her story will be performed on stage, alongside works by Tobias Wolff, David Sedaris, and Tennessee Williams. "It's an incredible honor," says Chiavelli, "but also surreal to see my name next to authors I have admired for so long." (complete article...)

Guilty As Charged February 17, 2009 (Karl "Doc" Bradford) Ten years ago, a completed novel rested in Karl (Doc) Bradford's desk drawer and he was hard at work on his second. After reading his latest chapter, someone noted what a great hobby writing must be for him. Hobby? A year later, the wake-up call had been ruminated, digested, and the paradigm shift had occurred. The idea wasn't to write for money and fame--the idea was to write for pleasure, discovery, and self-expression. He figured that if something of quality came from his passion and commitment, it would transcend the hobby world. (complete article...)

How to Be Happy and (Unconventionally) Published February 4, 2009 (Steve Beisner) To mix a metaphor, "What if a short story fell in the woods and no one was there to read it?" We all want recognition and even riches, but many will confess that what got us started with the art and craft of arranging words, sentences, paragraphs, ideas, and stories was something more internal: the way we feel when the paragraph we've just completed lies before our eyes and is "right." (complete article...)

The Accidental Writer -- I did that in the Name of Research? January 21, 2009 (Julia Michelle Dawson) Sure, research is important. A good writer will do whatever research is required by a writing project. But sometimes real hunting is required. (complete article...)

Tap Into Your Characters Through Dialogue January 8, 2009 (Dallas Nicole Woodburn) One of my good friends is an aspiring director, and I recently decided to convert one of my stories into a short movie script. I already had the basic plot, the characters, the action -- piece of cake, right? Um ... not quite. (complete article...)

Writing with Dazzle and Pizzazz December 27, 2008 (Kathryn Wilkens) Writers--poets especially--have long made use of onomatopoeia, words like chirp, drip, fizz, hiss, jingle, knock, neigh, oink and rattle. Also called echoic, these words came into existence as humans attempted to mimic sounds in nature with their voices. (complete article...)

I'm A Writer December 15, 2008 (By Jim Alexander) One of the first things my instructor, Cork Millner, told us in class was: "From now on, when someone asks you what you do, tell them you're a writer." Three days after gaining this knowledge I was walking in Paseo Nuevo Mall when I ran into a couple of carpenter friends that I hadn't seen in a while. (complete article...)

Thumbnail Sketch December 1, 2008 (Josie Levy Martin) "There is no intelligence but in things...." --William Carlos Williams
I had no idea what Williams meant when I first read that phrase on the blackboard in my 9th grade journalism class, South Gate Junior High, 1953. But I remember the teacher, Mr. ------. His name was either Jones, Johnson, Green or White. Everyone had common American names in those days. He was a tall ganglionic kind of man, sort of twitchy and uncomfortable in his JC Penney's suit and white shirt, its limp collar ringed in weeks-old perspiration. And his desk, it was ringed with circles from the plaid thermos of coffee he always kept nearby. (complete article...)

Can Movies Make a Difference? November 18, 2008 (Catherine Ann Jones) In 1994, Quentin Taratino wrote a fictional story about Mickey & Mallory Knox, a honeymoon couple who, as a perverse aphrodisiac, randomly shot and killed over 50 people. Oliver Stone directed the film and the week it opened, a real young couple in the Midwest went on a rampage killing 4-5 strangers. When apprehended by the police and asked their names, they replied that their names were Mickey & Mallory Knox - the fictional character's names from Stone's film. The film was Natural Born Killers, and this film made a difference. (complete article...)

Sustainable Cool November 5, 2008 (Karen Telleen-Lawton) What's the difference between cool words and sustainable words? Cool words may come and go, but sustainable ones have the flexibility that gives them staying power. In current time, it's hard to determine which words will be sustained. (complete article...)

Fun with One Syllable October 26, 2008 (Kathryn Wilkens) We love words, but less can be more. In this tour de force Kathryn Wilkens shows us that short words can do the trick. Hint: look at the words contained in this piece... count the large ones. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Tools for Writers, Fall 2008 Update October 21, 2008 (Steve Beisner) What's new with the computer tools available to the working writer? This update discusses the new release of OpenOffice, the current state of "writer's workbench" software, and other aids for people putting words onto paper. (complete article...)

A Flat Space To Write: Peet's Coffee October 12, 2008 (Steve Beisner) Another in our infrequent series on places for writers to write. Here we take a second look at the Peet's Coffee phenomenon. Coffee and Writing go together like plot and character. For many writers they're inseparable. You can always brew it at home, but as an antidote to solitude, there's nothing quite like a coffee house. But how does one café become an essential meeting spot, while another place with good coffee get few customers? (complete article...)

John Travis, Author, Publisher, Baseball Player, and Activist October 2, 2008 (Steve Beisner) Last month Ink Byte sat down with John Travis to talk about his recently published novel, Pitching in the Dark, about baseball, his activism on behalf of the mentally ill, his role as a small publisher, and his activities in support of New Orleans area writers. (complete article...)

An Out-in-the-world Tale About Never Tell Your Name September 21, 2008 (Josie Martin) Never Tell Your Name is Ms Martin's beautifully told memoir of childhood survival amidst the horrors of World War II. Here, Josie tells us a story of how far a writers' work can reach. (complete article...)

Blue-Collar Ethics Make a Book Happen September 6, 2008 (Melinda Palacio) When it comes to writing, David Starkey is the jack of all genres. He's published over 400 poems, written a text-book, a how-to poetry manual, essays, short stories, plays, and his latest work, a memoir. His ability to zero in on a project, focus, and get the job done stems from his blue-collar upbringing. Starkey is one of those rare writers who can multi-task, keep his family happy, and finish his book projects. (complete article...)

Ketchup August 22, 2008 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Ever wondered how words are like ketchup? You haven't? How about a clue? It has nothing to do with the red sauce being America's favorite vegetable. Shelly Lowenkopf shares his insights, culinary and literary. (complete article...)

Piecemeal August 13, 2008 (Kathryn Wilkens) I admire writers who can sit at the keyboard and spin out a narrative, starting at point A and continuing to point Z. Their work method is like knitting a sweater, one stitch logically following the previous. I wish I could do that. (complete article...)

You Don't Have to Be A Poet to Write Poetry July 30, 2008 (Diana M. Raab) Really. You don't. And I will tell you why. The first poem I wrote as an adult was about ten years ago. I was living in Orlando and getting ready to meet a friend for coffee to discuss a writing project. We were to meet on Park Avenue in Winter Park which is situated in the suburbs of Orlando and a good place to be seen and heard. It's a fun four-block stretch of shops and eateries. Somewhere in the middle of the strip is a popular chain coffee shop called 'Barnie's'. My writing studio was located on the floor above, so this was a convenient place to meet, as I tried to use my studio only for writing. Barnie's prepared fabulous coffee and their major competition up the street was Starbucks who they claimed over-roasted their coffee creating a strong aroma to lure in patrons. (complete article...)

The Mathematics of Reading July 20, 2008 (Kathleen Roxby) I can understand why some people choose to spend their lives immersed in numbers. There is an inherent comfort in working with arithmetic. No matter how complicated a current puzzle of numbers, you always know there will be an epiphany from which will follow a certainty, a balance into which all the pieces will resolve in the solution of the calculation. It is for this same reason, I think, that I choose mystery novels to interrupt the pattern of my days, ruffle up the doldrums in my mind, or simply to break out of the confinement of airline travel. (complete article...)

Mac Daddy: My Love Affair with Apple. July 9, 2008 (Melinda Palacio) I've owned an Apple computer all of my adult life. Frankly, I don't care to remember life before my Mac. I expect our relationship to last an eternity. We continue to grow together in ways I've never imagined. (complete article...)

Ten Political Novels July 1, 2008 (Shelly Lowenkopf) It's that time: the political season is upon us and the politicians are out-doing the writers' of fiction with their creative interpretations of reality. Shelly has compiled this selection of political novels for those who want to read more about everyone's favorite sport. (complete article...)

Improving on the Silence June 24, 2008 (Rita Shaler-Nelson) I have to admit I struggle a bit (OK, a lot!) over the idea of using my life as material for a book. Turning flesh and blood people I knew and loved (not to mention myself) into characters seems questionable to me, at times. Then, I read a quote by a 19th century yogi that granted me a sort of literary permission slip. (complete article...)

And The Answer Is... June 16, 2008 (Beverlye Hyman Fead) My granddaughter called me and said she wanted to do a book with me. That was two years ago. She was eight and in the second grade. She was dead serious. And not only that, it was a great idea for a book. (complete article...)

What Story Should You Tell? June 10, 2008 (Diana M. Raab) Whether your chosen genre is fiction, nonfiction or poetry, you probably have a unique story to tell. The act of reliving and retelling childhood stories are common platforms for writers. We go back to those times either because they were filled with pains, joys or laden with unanswered questions. (complete article...)

The Physics of Story June 4, 2008 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Tired of show, don't tell? Ready for a fresh look at the art of fiction? Shelly Lowenkopf gives us the following exposition of the laws of fiction as Isaac Newton might have laid them out. [Can Special & General Relativity of Fiction be far behind? -- Editor] (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Open Office 3.0 is World Class and Free May 23, 2008 (Steve Beisner) Though it is expensive and sometimes frustrating to use, Microsoft Word has long been the standard tool for word crafters. OpenOffice is a cooperatively developed ("open software"), free alternative to MS Office. The OpenOffice word processor (OO Writer) is a drop-in replacement for MS Word. Beyond the cost advantage, there are other good reasons why a professional writer might prefer OO Writer to Microsoft's offering. We review the newly available "beta" release of the next version, OpenOffice 3.0. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 11 May 11, 2008 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly looks at Action, Agenda and Ambiguity. (complete article...)

The Power of the Sword: Poet Martín Espada April 23, 2008 (Melinda Palacio) Martín Espada says he knows the back way, but for this Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican poet, back doors are no longer necessary. He has solved the paradox of political poetry, and the world is ready to listen to his poems about the disenfranchised and those who normally are not the subject of poetry. (complete article...)

Santa Barbara's Perie Longo Talks about Being a City's Poet Laureate April 11, 2008 (Melinda Palacio) Santa Barbara's Poet Laureate Perie Longo has prepared for several decades for the challenging task of being a city's special poet. The citizens and literary community nominated her for her untiring comittment to Poetry in the Schools and Poetry Therapy. Longo succeeds Poet Laureate Emeritus Barry Spacks as the city's second Poet Laureate. Longo also inherits the Poetry Matters column, started by Spacks, in the Santa Barbara Independent. (complete article...)

Relief For Writers March 31, 2008 (Gia Sola) If we were in a meeting right now, a twelve step support-group kind of meeting, I'd be sharing this story about my writing life to show you how far I fell and to tell you how I was saved. But instead of our sitting in a room together, maybe drinking coffee like they do at AA, we sit alone at our computers, a dictionary in one hand, pencil in the other. (complete article...)

A Real Eye Opener March 25, 2008 (Catherine Ryan Hyde) Writing my new novel Chasing Windmills was a real eye-opener for me. It finally proved to me that the labels we put on fiction fall somewhere short of useful. I had suspected this all along, but thought it was my own odd perception. (complete article...)

Write from the Start: Comeuppances and Email. March 17, 2008 (Melinda Palacio) If it weren't for email, my stories and poems would have remained stashed between the pages of the Comeback Chronicles, diary entries where I wrote great comeback lines to the taunts and dumb questions mean kids at school often asked. (complete article...)

But I Don't Want to Write a Memoir March 9, 2008 (Rita Shaler-Nelson) I have always wanted to write fiction. I have toyed with ideas but never had one I could envision bringing to fruition, all the while resisting writing the story I already knew from beginning to end, from inside and out. I knew it so well, so completely, because I had lived it. (complete article...)

The Shape of Story: Trends in the Narrative. March 2, 2008 (Melinda Palacio) Last week, at Arizona State University's Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference, poet Richard Siken and fiction author Antonya Nelson took on the question of shape, proof that the current trend in narrative is shunning plot and favoring shape. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: New Economic Realities and the Creative Writer February 25, 2008 (Steve Beisner) We've all experienced it: a nagging voice at the edge of our consciousness, still faint and incomprehensible, but gradually increasing in volume. We begin to notice a few things, seemingly unrelated. We're sure it all means something, but what? Then: BOOM! Everything changes and we feel foolish for not seeing what was coming. In retrospect it all seems so obvious. In the past I've spoken at writers conferences and written about how technology is changing the creative side of our work and opening new opportunities on the business side. This article looks at an aspect of the Internet that inspires fear in many: the economic devaluation of music, software and literary works. (complete article...)

Taking Rejection Constructively February 11, 2008 (Diana M. Raab) I embrace rejections and don't get down on myself when they arrive in my mailbox. I've learned to accept them as part of the literary life that I have chosen for myself. Since I've moved to a house where I have to walk down the hill to get my mail, I've found that my days revolve around the mail delivery. I make sure to run my errands just after the mail arrives. (complete article...)

Famous Rejections January 25, 2008 (Molly-Ann Leikin) Rotten Rejections, edited by Andre Bernard (Penguin Books) collects some of the worst brush-offs in literary history for the benefit of today's writers. Many of the world's greatest wordsmiths have been pummeled by an editor's cold fish to the face. (Barney Brantingham's column mentioned Bernard's book in the Santa Barbara News-Press before the publisher went ballistic and fired everybody. I hung his special column on my fridge, and want to share it with all of you.) (complete article...)

Her Funny Bones Travel January 11, 2008 (Melinda Palacio) Rachel S. Thurston was born with wanderlust and a gift for being both funny and entertaining. She's managed to market her unique voice under her various roles as a travel writer, outdoor and river guide, humor writer, photographer, and rock star. Her fans know her as the lead singer of King Bee, a retro rock n roll band. Although her forte is writing about exotic places around the world, her latest book venture is about the communities in her own backyard, The Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. (complete article...)

Sara Paretsky's Writing in an Age of Silence January 2, 2008 (Anne Lowenkopf) This nonfiction collection of essays, each related to the theme of freedom, fascinates and challenges thought. Freedom as a theme seems to have dominated Sara Paretsky's life, judging from her Introduction, a memoir of childhood and education, which impressed me with admiration, perhaps awe, of her courage and intelligence. As a child within her family she fought for herself with rare determination and skill. (complete article...)

Coffeehouse Euphoria December 19, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) I write this essay in my journal as I sit in my favorite Santa Barbara coffeehouse. My best work is born in places like this where, under the influence of a strong cup of coffee, my creative energy flows. The ink and tangible pages of my journal compliment the organic, hearty aroma and flavor of fresh roasted coffee. (complete article...)

Paint Me A Story: Working Writer Jim Alexander December 9, 2007 (Melinda Palacio) In this series on working writers, Ink Byte features writers who keep their day jobs. House Painter Jim Alexander says that being a painter is the perfect gig for a writer. His 40-hour per week work load means he doesn't have time for some of the luxuries afforded to an author who has "made it." However, he writes everyday and works hard at his craft, and his hard work is starting to pay off. (complete article...)

Why Y/A? Malín Alegría's Publishing Journey December 3, 2007 (Melinda Palacio) Malín Alegría exchanged her beloved Mission District haunts in San Francisco for New York. She left with dreams of becoming the next Junot Diaz, but didn't tell anyone about her secret to become a writer. In the Big Apple, most people knew her as a teacher and stand up comic. She had no idea that fate would land her a two-book, Young Adult, deal with Simon & Schuster's Atria imprint. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Apple's Time Machine November 23, 2007 (Steve Beisner) Apple's new operating system won't change your life or solve the problem of world hunger, but it does have at least one new ability that will help writers avoid hair pulling, teeth gnashing, and anguished screaming. In typical Apple fashion, the computer and software company has immodestly dubbed this new feature Time Machine, but cute name or not, this one's a keeper. (complete article...)

Weeds November 7, 2007 (Molly-Ann Leikin) Sometime creative work happens when you're not looking. When you're sure that your real work is somewhere else, you turn around and see that the writer inside you has produced a rose... or in Molly-Ann Leikin's case, a tomato. (complete article...)

Why I Write October 25, 2007 (Cheryl Joi) Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, "The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." If I could only think of something to say then those clamoring words would be released and, for me, there will finally be a sense of relief. After all, the words are a huge part of me. The words come from me and create a feeling -- power, sadness, lust, madness -- and I am part of it. (complete article...)

Memoir: Where Memory Meets Imagination October 18, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) My fascination with the issues of memory and imagination in memoir-writing stretches back to my graduate school days. To fulfill the requirements for my MFA in Nonfiction Writing I had to teach a class and the catalyst and inspiration for my study was Patricia Hampl's essay, "Memory and Imagination." (complete article...)

Review: The Clean House, by Sarah Ruhl October 7, 2007 (Karin Finell) Live Theater brims with lessons for writers. Karin Finell reviews The Clean House, comparing the work to that of other great writers. -- Editor (complete article...)

What Does It Take To Be A Writer? October 4, 2007 (Dallas Nicole Woodburn) "If you are meant to be a writer, you will be. No one can stop a writer from writing. Not even Hitler could do that," says Jim Murray, Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist. Are you meant to be a writer? What does it take? Do you have to go to college and earn a special degree? Publish your work? Sell hundreds -- even thousands -- of books? (complete article...)

On The Yiddish Policemen's Union September 27, 2007 (Anne Lowenkopf) An Essay by writer-teacher Anne Lowenkopf on parts of Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policemen's Union. A good example of Anne's teaching style, which includes learning writing from close analysis of the best (and sometimes worst!) of other writers. (complete article...)

So You Want to Write a Novel? September 21, 2007 (Melinda Palacio) Had I known what I know now, writing my first novel would have been much easier. I'm happy to report I've moved onto a second novel, to new stories, poems, and, more important, new characters. This week's column focuses on alibi, telling your story and sticking to it. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 10 September 8, 2007 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly looks at the act as an organizing principal. (complete article...)

Gentling Yourself Through The No's August 23, 2007 (Molly-Ann Leikin) Songwriter Molly-Ann Leikin's column. All writers must learn to deal with rejection, even thrive on it. But that doesn't mean it's easy! (complete article...)

The Way of Story August 13, 2007 (Catherine Ann Jones) Sometimes story ideas may arise from what happens to us in our own lives. Yet they usually connect with something felt within. I was still acting then and had been cast to play Virginia Woolf in an off-Broadway comedy. I began reading everything I could find by and about Woolf in order to better portray the character. Then one day I just sat down and started writing a drama about her struggle with madness in a world gone mad, i.e., WW II -- a story far removed from the life of this baby boomer raised in New Orleans and Texas. (complete article...)

He Listens for Hungry Poems... August 5, 2007 (Alison Schaumburg) ... and we are at a feast of generous proportions. Paul Lobo Portuges' astounding The Body Electric Journal fulfills Whitman's prophesy that, "the strongest and sweetest songs yet remain to be sung." (Alison reviews Paul Lobo Portuges' latest.) (complete article...)

Get Cozy With Your Dictionary July 31, 2007 (Kathryn Wilkens) I adore dictionaries. I love their speckled pages and thumb tabs with gold letters; I love their heft and smell, their ordered contents. I didn't set out to collect them, but when I rearranged my bookshelves recently I discovered I have 47 -- I own more dictionaries than shoes! (complete article...)

Searching for Stories Down Memory Lane July 20, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) "As I turned fifty, the world and my place in it looked much different than I had imagined they would. I have come to place tremendous value on the intensity and power of the moment, since I could never be sure a moment would last in memory. It must be savored..."
-- Floyd Skloot in The Shadow of Memory (complete article...)

Inspiration Need Not Be a Lightning Bolt July 13, 2007 (Dallas Nicole Woodburn) When I first started writing, it was hard. I stared at my blank computer screen, fingers poised above the keys, waiting and waiting -- hoping and hoping -- for a lightning bolt of inspiration to strike. I half-expected ideas to fall and hit me on the head like Sir Isaac Newton's famous apple. Life, as it often does, got busy. I put off writing, telling myself that I would set aside time to write as soon as I got a good idea. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Backup Without Tears July 1, 2007 (Steve Beisner) How long has it been since you lost work because you neglected to backup your manuscripts and other important files? Feel that emotional cramp in the pit of your stomach? "I should have backed up. Why didn't I save my work?" It's happened to all of us. One day we discover that hours or weeks of our best work seems to have evaporated from our computer's hard drive. Do we have a copy somewhere? Murphy says probably not. What if there was a magic wand that you could wave to prevent all this pain? There is: read on. (complete article...)

You Are a Failure: Overcoming Fear of Rejection June 20, 2007 (Laura Slattery) You are a failure if your let your fears of rejection stop you from submitting or worse yet, if you let it stop you from writing. (complete article...)

Book Expo of America in New York June 16, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) Last week I had the distinct pleasure of being invited by my publisher to the annual BEA (Book Expo of America) held this year in New York's Jacob Javitt's Center from May 30th until June 3rd. (complete article...)

Getting Ready to Write June 7, 2007 (Molly-Ann Leikin) In the fourth edition of my book, "How To Write A Hit Song", there is a popular chapter on the antics we writers put ourselves through before we're able to put pen to paper. Whether you know it or not, each of us has a peculiar pattern of preparing to write, and if you recognize that pattern, you'll see you're making creative progress even when your page is blank and you feel you're irreparably stuck with no choice but to hop a cab back to rehab. (complete article...)

Jack of All Trades: Luis J. Rodriguez May 26, 2007 (Melinda Palacio) Luis J. Rodriguez has had many careers in his life. His current passion is Tia Chucha's Cafe Cultural Center, a bookstore, a small press, a hang out for students of Aztec culture, guitar, and the latino community. Rodriguez, however, is best known for his books, especially his memoir, Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 9 May 16, 2007 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly looks at Opening Velocity, and Detail. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Beyond Clay Tablets May 9, 2007 (Steve Beisner) Wandering again from the path of modern high tech to the less traveled byways of earlier writing technology, we look at paper and especially at the classic, ruled and bound "legal pad." Writers reach for this dependable companion without a thought of its history, and nothing is better when we need to set down that poem or short story idea before the muse rushes out the door, leaving us empty headed. (complete article...)

Gathering Your Angels, Killing Your Critic April 25, 2007 (Molly-Ann Leikin) As exquisitely sensitive people, we are susceptible to any negativity anywhere within a 100-mile radius, even on our best days. It's hard for us as fragile beings to stay full and protected from the "bullies" in our lives who may not even realize they are bullies, or who hate their jobs, envy us and take great pride in knowing they've squashed somebody. (complete article...)

Notes from A Poet's Spirit: In honor of National Poetry Month April 14, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) As a relatively new poet, I find myself taking this National Poetry Month quite seriously. I want to avail myself of every opportunity to infuse my life with the joy of the poetic realm. It's not that there won't be a chance during other times of the year, but this is a good excuse to be submerged in my latest literary venture. (complete article...)

Musings of Evil and Good April 12, 2007 (Karin Finell) An essay from Karin Finell, who grew up in World War II Berlin, and whose recently published memoir, Good-bye to the Mermaids, A Childhood Lost in Hitler's Berlin has been getting great reviews. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 8 April 5, 2007 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly examines that oft-heard protest against literary criticism, "But it really happened that way." The truth is that fiction is held to a higher standard than reality! (complete article...)

The Care and Feeding of Your Creative Spirit: Treasuring your unique qualities March 21, 2007 (Molly-Ann Leikin) As creative people, we have special gifts that "civilians" don't, even on their best days. With our gifts comes the responsibility of keeping ourselves in a creative flow. It doesn't fall to a groupie or manager, a spouse, therapist, healer, dealer or TV evangelist with permanently bad hair. It's our job. (complete article...)

How to Reread and Use Journal Entries In Your Writing March 9, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) Rereading old journal entries can be an interesting and useful exercise for writers, non-writers and wannabe writers. There's much to be learned from examining earlier writings -- everything from studying writing habits, detecting patterns of speech and identifying obsessions and subjects which we repeatedly address in our journals. There are, however, some strong dos and don'ts about the practice of rereading journal entries. (complete article...)

On Norman Mailer and His Latest Opus: The Castle in the Forest February 27, 2007 (Karin Finell) Karin reports on David Ulin's (book editor of the LA Times) interview with Norman Mailer in the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills, on C-Span. February 2007. (complete article...)

Poet Billy Collins Shared His Tips on Writing During a Reading at UCSB February 17, 2007 (Melinda Palacio) Billy Collins is our whimsical, twice-appointed United States Poet Laureate. Santa Barbara's own poet laureate, Barry Spacks, introduced Collins to a sold-out crowd at UCSB's Campbell Hall, February 11. Spacks lauded Collins for making the discipline of verse fun and popular again. But the truth behind Collins's playfulness is that he's serious about his craft, even though he makes us believe he's merely having fun, recording the quixotic world around him. (complete article...)

The Challenges of Recalling The Past February 7, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) Memory is fallible, but is one of the strongest frustrations and the most poignant tool of the memoir writer. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis: Taking Pen In Hand... January 30, 2007 (Steve Beisner) Departing from our usual emphasis on electronic tools like word processors, tracking software, and personal computers, we look at writing pens: hand held devices for putting real ink onto physical paper. We don't recommend that you dispose of your computer, but maybe you should consider the advantages of handwriting! (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 7 January 20, 2007 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly examines prototypical protagonist Sherlock Holmes and his ever-present confidante, Dr. Watson, as two more literary patterns you should understand. (complete article...)

Isabel Allende Marries Discipline with Masterful Storytelling January 12, 2007 (Melinda Palacio) Ink Byte caught up with Isabel Allende. She spoke to a crowded audience at Borders in Northridge. Store Managers must not have been aware that tickets to hear Allende speak at the Skirball the next evening were sold out. Over a hundred fans came to hear Allende and have their books signed. People squatted around the store and snaked up the staircase, about two dozen eager fans found seats. Allende, author of 16 novels charmed the audience and freely answered questions about her books and her writing process. (complete article...)

Striding for Inspiration January 3, 2007 (Diana M. Raab) I've heard people say that many writers enjoy walking. My curiosity about this phenomena was ignited by my recent reading of Joan Anderson's biography, "A Walk on the Beach," a gem of a book and also a wonderful gift item for that middle-aged woman on your list who has everything, but seeks a deeper meaning in her life through growth and exploration. (complete article...)

Why I Write December 22, 2006 (Joseph Riley-Portuges) Joseph Riley-Portuges is young for a writer, the youngest to have been published in Ink Byte Magazine. (But don't let that stop you. -- ed) Joseph's essay raises one of the reoccurring questions that that writers deal with. (complete article...)

Living the Writer's Life: Reyna Grande December 8, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Reyna Grande's debut novel, Across a Hundred Mountains, is not the usual immigrant story and Reyna Grande is not the typical immigrant. At age nine, she crossed the border with her father and she has gone on to become a UCSC graduate, a 2003 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices fellow, and a new author. Most would say, she is living the American Dream. However, after the favorable reviews have been cast and her first book tour comes to a close, she is simply a writer, hard-working, talented, and with eyes set on her next books and a film production of her first novel. (complete article...)

Software to Manage Your Submissions: The Ink Byte Tracker December 1, 2006 (Steve Beisner) Writers, whether they pen short stories, poems, novels, how-to articles, memoirs, plays, screenplays, self-help books, creative non-fiction, history, songs, or even jokes, all must sell their work. For most of us that means submissions, lots of submissions... and rejections, lots of rejections. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone handle it for you? The Ink Byte Tracker software won't do all the work, but it will make the process into an easy routine. In addition, it can help you extract useful information from that mountain of rejection slips, information that will make you smarter about what you submit, to whom you submit, and when. Oh, by the way, Ink Byte Tracker is free software. (complete article...)

Creative Non-Fiction is Alive and Well November 24, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) My fiction-writing friends probably won't like to hear this -- but the memoir is still alive and well. Many people thought The James Frey issue would send the memoir to the back burner and bring fiction the forefront. But if you've read any recent Sunday New York Times Book Reviews, you'll see that for at least the past year there's been a serious imbalance between fiction and non-fiction books -- more than two-thirds being reviewed are non-fiction. (complete article...)

Kenyan author NGuGi Wa Thiong'o Talks About the Challenges of African Literature November 17, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) How do you sum up Africa of the twentieth century in the context of two thousand years of world history? Ngugi Wa Thiong'o covered the subject in his new book Wizard of the Crow and in his conversation with exiled Nigerian writer Chris Abani at Santa Barbara's Victoria Hall. (complete article...)

A Jazz Funeral for Keith aka "Fred Flames" November 4, 2006 (Steve Beisner. Photos by Melinda Palacio) What does a New Orleans Jazz Funeral have to do with writing? As it turns out, everything and nothing. Everything because peak experiences provide both the energy to write and the subjects to write about. Nothing, because nothing is "about" anything unless we make it so. Steve Beisner uses his license as an Ink Byte editor to digress on life, death, and doing the work. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 6 October 23, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly examines two more literary terms you should understand, the infamous "Pathetic Fallacy," and the "Stress Mouse." These will help you do your best writing and allow you to confound agents, publishers, and other book people over cocktails. (complete article...)

The Clique of Eclectics: Writers of Multiple Genres October 15, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) Why some writers choose to write in multiple genres has always been a fascinating subject for me, which is why I chose to moderate a panel called, "The Clique of Eclectics: Writers of Multiple Genres," at The 8th Annual Santa Barbara Book and Author Festival held on September 30th at the downtown Public Library. (complete article...)

Literary Luncheon Series in New Orleans. October 7, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) The Hotel Monteleone in partnership with the New Orleans Public Library and the Garden District Bookstore is offering a literary luncheon series. Judging from the second event, the series promises to be both valuable and entertaining to writers and readers. The decadent four-course menu and white gloved service might seem excessive to the starving writer. However, the opportunity to hear the successes and techniques of authors, combined with the one-on-one time with an editor or literary agent, and the manuscript critique, is worth splurging a little on lunch. A mystery writer at the table said he'd pay the $30 alone just for the chance to pitch his novel to Matthew Gouma, the literary agent assigned to our table of five writers. (complete article...)

Vermont College's MFA in Children's Writing
September 28, 2006
(Erik Talkin) Inkbyte contributor Erik Talkin reports on the 'low-residency' Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young People at Vermont College. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 5 September 17, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly examines two more terms you should understand, "habit words," and "Schrodinger's Cat." These will help you do your best writing and will confound agents, publishers, and other book people over cocktails. (complete article...)

The Delicate Art of Critiquing September 7, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) At some point in your writing life you will be called upon to read a colleague, family or friend's work. This is a delicate process, because some people accept comments and criticism more easily than others. (complete article...)

The Lobster Pity Pot September 1, 2006 (Josie Martin) Oh... some times are just like that. I was going to send my "How to Eat a Lobster" piece to Gourmet Magazine. I was hopeful because right after I finished writing it, I discovered they had a special supplement of short stories in their August issue. "The most exciting project we have ever worked on at Gourmet", according to Ruth Reichl, its editor. (complete article...)

An Author is Born: the Process August 26, 2006 (Karen Telleen-Lawton) Karen's tale of getting from manuscript to book signings. (complete article...)

Creative Ingredients at Esalen August 15, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Esalen is the institution associated with personal renewal and self- discovery, two important ingredients for sparking creativity. Fariba Enteshari's weekend workshop on August 25-27, My Religion Is Love, explores Mathnawi, the teachings of the 13th-century mystic poet, Jalai al-Din Rumi. The Sufi poet's text is a rich source of self-discovery and personal renewal. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 4: A Microsoft Word Template: Order From Chaos August 11, 2006 (Steve Beisner) In our last installment of The Silicon Amanuensis we saw how paragraph styles can bring consistency and convenience to the formating of manuscripts. In this installment we provide the InkByte For Word template, downloadable from the Ink Byte Software site, designed specifically for the preparation of manuscripts for short stories, novels, memoirs, and the like. The template contains a set of predefined styles, as well as a special InkByte toolbar to help make Microsoft Word into a better manuscript preparation tool. [ARTICLE REVISED 8/22] (complete article...)

Why We Write August 1, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) "The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say." -- Anais Nin.
There are many reasons why writers are compelled to the page, including having a story to tell and wanting to bridge the gap of loneliness. (complete article...)

A Reverence for Baseball, the Bible, Buddha and Truth July 26, 2006 (Alison Schaumburg) Alison reviews an unusual collection of poems by Paul Lobo Portuges. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 4 July 24, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this installment Shelly examines three more terms you'll need if you're to give as well as you take while drinking cocktails with agents, publishers, and other book people. (complete article...)

Fear of Lying: Erica Jong Speaks July 12, 2006 (Josie Martin) Mostly I wanted to see how she looked -- pure feminine curiosity. She looks her age. There's no effort to hide it. She looks solid and present. She wore tight jeans and a gauze Indian top in a bit too brightly hued fuchsia, not particularly becoming and certainly not as elegant or glamorous as I'd anticipated. (complete article...)

Funny Is Fun for Master of Fiction, Chris Moore. July 7, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Christopher Moore can't help but be funny. The young author, 48, takes his calling seriously and has been writing professionally for 16 years. His irreverent and whimsical novels are impossible to put down. Last week, at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, Moore taught a Master of Fiction class. Over the course of three days, he shared his secrets and tools for producing hilarious and compelling characters and page-turning plots. (complete article...)

Why We Write, What We Get June 30, 2006 (Karin Finell) Karin talks about the problem of writing and money and why sometimes we get something unexpected and more valuable from what we write. (complete article...)

Entering Poetry: Stepping Outside of Our Boxes June 22, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) Ever since I was a little girl, poetry seemed daunting. I didn't enjoy reading it and I certainly would not tackle writing it. I suppose the turn-off had to do with how poetry was taught to me in school. All I remember was "Beowolf" and I never understood what all the excitement was about. In later years, the English teachers introduced us to Shakespeare, which for a young adult, was equally boring. (complete article...)

Coming to Terms: Words You'll Hear At Writers Conferences June 18, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf and Stu Miller) Two masters of the literary game share some terms of the special language you'll hear spoken in the hallways of writers conferences. (complete article...)

Poetry in Motion: Poet Mary Brown Creates Book Arts June 14, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Book Arts add an extra dimension to Mary Brown's poems. After the words have been cast and chosen, her poems sometimes beg for added texture. The fun and freeing art of the handmade book has also become the basis of Mary Brown's MFA field study from Antioch University. (complete article...)

Almost A Book: How The Market Rules June 1, 2006 (Fran Davis) What baby boomer could resist a book with the title Hell No We Won't Go: How Boomers Can Tranform the Ultimate Third of Life? With the first boomers turning 60 this year, the subject is timely and the market potential enormous. Jill Cordover, my co-writer, and I were excited about the prospect of writing the book. Our agent was excited. But the proposal failed to sell in New York. What we learned in the process is worth sharing. (complete article...)

The Santa Barbara Writers Conference:
Impressions of a First Timer May 29, 2006
( By William Honey ) Bill Honey's thoughts on a great conference for writers. "I moved to Santa Barbara from a city in the Deep South with three universities and a long tradition of literature (Scott Fitzgerald wrote there), yet no writers conferences. In my first year in Santa Barbara I attended the SBWC, Perie Longo's Poetry Workshop, a one day writers' workshop at Antioch University and joined a writers' support group. SBWC was the first conference for writers I ever attended, so I didn't know what to expect." (complete article...)

Writing For the Health of It May 19, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) When life takes an unexpected turn, writing can become your best friend. Whether you choose journaling, poetry, fiction or nonfiction, you can reap the benefits of your predicament. Many published authors have used writing as a catalyst for survival during difficult times. Some of them include: Anais Nin, Joan Didion, Reeve Lindbergh, Tobias Wolff, D.H. Lawrence, Isabel Allende, Vivian Gornick, Kathryn Harrison, Sue William Silverman, and May Sarton. For these writers and many others, writing has given a purpose and meaning to their lives. It has given them a reason to wake up in the morning and continue on with their day. (complete article...)

Serendipity: Poetry As Conversation May 11, 2006 (Sojourner K. Rolle) Sometimes I find it hard to justify writing at all. Seems as if everything I can think of someone has written it already. I find solace in the thought that I am not alone in this sense that nothing is new under the sun. A preface to my second chapbook of poetry, Our Strength Will Grow, included the following quote from W.E.B. DuBois.: "I venture to write again on the themes on which great souls have already said greater words..." (Darkwater, 1920) (complete article...)

Erotica: Licking the Language Gap (And Other Things) April 25, 2006 (Gia Sola) Teasing your readers with naughty words can be a real turn-on, but can one type with hairy palms? A discourse on the writing of dirty stories. (complete article...)

Re-Imagining the Border: Mesilla's 12th Annual Border Book Festival, April 21-26, 2006 April 16, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Politics has pushed the issue of the Border to the forefront with a discourse of divisiveness and fear. In the pueblo of Mesilla, New Mexico, the old town of Las Cruces, the Border Book Festival strives to break barriers and celebrate the diversity and creativity of our border culture. (complete article...)

How to "Unkefer:" Advance the Story and Reveal Character April 14, 2006 (Ned Bixby) He doesn't do yoga, he prefers cigarettes and Newcastles, but Diet Cokes are always on the menu. Bring your questions, your notebooks, your pencils, pens, crayons or computers and open your ears. Dress in your most beautiful, elegant, bold, jazziest, funnest, even decadent threads and get to Duane Unkefer's class. It's party time for Start Your Novel or Finish Your Novel at the Wake Center for Adult Education. (complete article...)

A Source of Inspiration April 10, 2006 (J'Nelle Holland) O Muse, shine your light of inspiration on your devotee,
That truth spring forth from heart, mind and voice.

If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, where are Muses from? J'Nelle gives us some pointers on courting your Muse. (complete article...)

AWP Conference in a Nutshell April 7, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) For the past four years, I've attended AWP's (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) National Conference, the largest writing conference in the country. This year's enrollment surpassed 4,500 registrants. Each year, the conference is held in a different city, and this year's city of choice was Austin, Texas. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 3 April 4, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this article Shelly examines the "choking Doberman." (complete article...)

Discovering Your "Secret Story": a Five-Day Workshop at Esalen. March 31, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Esalen has long been a spiritual haven for those in need of personal renewal or self- discovery. S.L. Stebel takes advantage of Esalen's dreamlike setting to offer a unique workshop for anyone wishing to write or discover that nagging story that creeps up whenever someone says, "you ought to write a book about that." Stebel, seasoned playwright, screenwriter, novelist and writing faculty at USC, shares his tools for harvesting your unique story by accessing your subconscious. (complete article...)

Offense Will Be Taken: An Inquiry Into the Use of the Adverb, the Adjective, and the Passive Voice March 28, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) One of the great joys inherent in the American version of the English language is its relaxed policy at the borders. We may be uptight in the matter of immigration, but we require no green cards when it comes to providing homes and work papers for words, phrases, and concepts from other languages. (complete article...)

Mardi Gras 2006: What Would Ignatius Think? March 24, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Nothing you read or hear can prepare you for your first Mardi Gras experience. This year's post-Katrina Mardi Gras was my first. I had read books and articles to give me a feel for what I should expect. However, the book that caught my attention was John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, a novel which has nothing to do with Mardi Gras and everything to do with New Orleans life. During the carnival season I kept wondering "What would Ignatius think?" (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 2 March 20, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Another in a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this article Shelly examines "arc." (complete article...)

Review: Women's Literary Festival March 7, 2006 (Karin Finell) It is over. The lights are out, the leathery chicken has been consumed, the iced tea drunk, and the center pieces of succulents will grace other tables. What lingers though, are the voices of the authors who spoke and read from their works at the first Women's Literary Festival in Santa Barbara. Voices to be heard again when we open their books. (complete article...)

Serendipity: Listening for the Language In Your Head March 4, 2006 ( Sojourner K. Rolle ) Write about what you know about -- the people, the places, the culture, the customs, your family, the macrocosm, the microcosm. (complete article...)

The Fiction Toolkit, Part 1 March 1, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) The first of a series of excerpts from Shelly Lowenkopf's forthcoming book, The Fiction Writer's Tool Kit: Terms, Concepts, and Devices for Building a Better Story. In this article Shelly examines "voice," and a certain well known patron saint. (complete article...)

The Joy of Letter Writing February 27, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) The fourth installment of Diana's excellent series on getting comfortable with your muse, and getting work done. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 3: With Microsoft Word It's a Matter of Style February 20, 2006 (Steve Beisner) Now that we've gained basic control over how Microsoft Word formats our manuscripts, we explore how we can achieve beginning-to-end consistency, even in a large manuscript, and how we can use paragraph styles for multiple formats of a manuscript: one way for revising and editing, another to save paper, and another for final copy... without changing much of anything! (complete article...)

The Poe Challenge February 13, 2006 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Shelly Lowenkopf explains why if you write short stories (or read them) you should care about a book review written 164 year ago by Edgar Allen Poe. After considering Shelly's perspective, you can read Poe's original: we provide a link to the online text. (complete article...)

My Truth, Your Truth, the Poetic Truth at the Maple Leaf Bar February 2, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) At the Maple Leaf Bar in post-Katrina New Orleans, during the weekly Sunday afternoon gathering of poets and writers, Melinda is forced to confront what it means to tell the truth. With photos. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 2: Microsoft Word Ate My Manuscript! January 31, 2006 (Steve Beisner) If you're like most professional writers, you use Microsoft Word, and this may sound familiar: You've set the font, page margins, paragraph indentation, and other formating exactly the way you want; then something happens and your carefully crafted masterpiece is transformed into gibberish that could have been typed by your four year old nephew. Your paragraphs are reformatted, spelling "corrected," punctuation modified, alignment changed, and new headings created. Welcome to Microsoft Word Hell. In this installment of The Silicon Amanuensis you'll learn how to tell Word that you're a grownup; if you want your manuscript messed up, you'll do it yourself. (complete article...)

Speaking Of Stories Kicks Off Its 2006 Season January 24, 2006 (Steve Beisner) Speaking of Stories' first-of-the-season performance was Monday, January 23rd at the Lobero Theater. The evening set a high standard, promising people who love good stories, good theater, or both, that 2006 will be an especially fine year to enjoy this uniquely Santa Barbara institution. (complete article...)

Nourishing Your Muse January 23, 2006 (Diana M. Raab) The third installment of Diana's excellent series on getting comfortable with your muse, and getting work done. (complete article...)

Need Information On Publishing? Do Your Homework! January 19, 2006 (Alison Schaumburg) Alison digs through the library and the Internet for information on getting published. There's a lot out there. This article puts it all in one place. (complete article...)

Creole Historian in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana January 6, 2006 (Melinda Palacio) Brian J. Costello dedicates himself to preserving the stories and language of the peoples who settled Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. The small city of New Roads is as old as New Orleans and literary luminaries such as Ernest P. Gaines hail from the little known town on an oxbow lake called False River in the parish. Costello, a historian, local writer, and 11th-generation Pointe Coupeean, has written 16 books on the history of the region, covering subjects as varied as folklore and Mardi Gras to the History of Pointe Coupee Parish to Louisiana's 20th Century Department Stores. (complete article...)

Multitasking 101 December 27, 2005 (Shelly Lowenkopf) "The secret of getting ahead," Mark Twain tells us, "is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one." (complete article...)

Organizing Your Journal December 20, 2005 (Diana M. Raab) The thought of organizing your journal may seem like a daunting task or something which might diminish the joy and spontaneity of the journaling process, but it's worth it. There's a good reason why writers, in particular, should keep a fairly organized journal to access the information when we need it. (complete article...)

Serendipity: The Metaphor of Encounter December 14, 2005 ( Sojourner K. Rolle ) Well, talk about journeys. I've just gotten back from a fairly fast leisurely journey around the Caribbean world. Six island nations and the U. S. Virgin Islands in 12 days. I had a host of encounters and new experiemces. I was struck by the music so I wrote about traveling. (complete article...)

The Journal: A Place for Writers' Musings December 6, 2005 (Diana M. Raab) The journal can be a very powerful tool for the writer. It's a place where we can intimately express our feelings and emotions, a place to collaborate with ourselves on possible writing projects or to discover the stories lurking inside of us. Sometimes a thought or a line can lie dormant in the journal, waiting for the novel or piece of nonfiction germinating in it. (complete article...)

Julia Cameron's Artist's Way: Keeping Yourself Sane During the Holidays December 2, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) Julia Cameron's the Artist's Way: Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity has helped writers, painters and those who do not call themselves artists, find creativity in their daily lives. One of the Cameron's tools towards the artist's way is her "morning pages:" journaling every morning for three pages straight. The idea of journaling may seem intuitive to a writer; however, her book is meant to help people of all walks of life refill their creative fuel tank. (complete article...)

Villaseñor's Healing Words November 20, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) When he's not writing, Victor Villaseñor is speaking about the healing power of story, peacemaking, and accessing your genius. The author of eight books gave the Leonardo Dorantes Memorial Lecture on November 9 at the Santa Barbara's Garvin Theatre. (complete article...)

A Flat Space To Write: Finestra November 19, 2005 (Steve Beisner) On Figueroa Street, around the corner from the Santa Barbara Art Museum, and looking as though it might have been designed by the museum's interior decorator, is the Finestra Cafe. Having heard people whisper that Finestra is somewhat militantly Christian, I've avoided the place, but now I'm happy to report that the atmosphere, while decidedly wholesome, is not aggressively so. In practice the religiosity has been muted, tempered by Santa Barbara's ubiquitous live and let live secularism. (complete article...)

The Silicon Amanuensis, Part 1: The Sorcerer's Apprentice November 13, 2005 (Steve Beisner) If you're a writer and you don't use a computer, then you have my greatest respect and admiration, but I'll have little to say to you in this series of articles. For everyone else, this series will help you achieve a comfortable relationship with what has become an essential tool for most writers. Like Harry Potter's magic wand, this marvel can free you from drudgery, but if you use it carelessly, or abdicate your responsibilities, you may accidently turn yourself and your work into a horned toad. (complete article...)

Writing for Children
Or Adults Don't Understand Me November 7, 2005
(Erik Talkin) Imagine a readership opening your book, their minds like fresh snow, unmarked by decades of culture overload -- ready to hear your voice. Okay, the mind of average young reader isn't exactly untouched, thanks to the work of many fine corporations keen to imprint a lifetime need for overconsumption at an early age. However, more than any other readership, this is one that is unjaded and ready for whatever new world you throw in their direction. What writer doesn't want that? (complete article...)

Walking the Patience Tightrope November 4, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) In this business, writers must be patient. I ask myself, is patience always a virtue? Or is patience sometimes an excuse for complacency and laziness? (complete article...)

Poetry At Reds Café October 28, 2005 (Mary L. Brown) When I walk into Reds Café it's as if I'm slipping back a bit in time. The lighting is dim, the décor funky and eclectic. Visions of the "Beats" dance in my head. It's the first night of the new monthly open-mic poetry readings launched by Santa Barbara poet, Sojourner Rolle and Santa Barbara Poet Laureate, Barry Spacks. (complete article...)

The Writers' Reference Shelf October 24, 2005 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Somewhere within handy reach of the professional writer's principal work station lurks that eclectic and notional assortment of books, guides, and assemblages euphemistically known as The Reference Shelf. (complete article...)

Daniel A. Olivas Is in Demand October 23, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) By day he is an attorney with the California Department of Justice where he specializes in environmental enforcement and land use. In the wee hours of the night, when his wife and son are asleep, Daniel A. Olivas writes fiction. The Chicano author calls himself lucky because of his early publication success. However, the talented writer was never a stranger to storytelling. (complete article...)

Serendipity: a workshop where poet minds mingle and sometimes meet. October 14, 2005 ( Sojourner K. Rolle ) I am pleased to begin a regular jaunt into poem-making. A new chapter is always exciting. My commitment is to share my perspective and adventures from my eclectic life as a poet living in Santa Barbara and wherever my endeavors take me on the journey in search of a poem. (complete article...)

Review: Italy, A Love Story October 13, 2005 (Karin Finell) Italy, A Love Story. Women Write about the Italian Experience. Edited by Camille Cusumano. You tell me your friends are going to Italy this fall? Hurry to your local bookstore and buy this book before their plane takes off. (complete article...)

Boxtales' The Odyssey October 8, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Most would acknowledge the Homeric epic, The Odyssey as good literature... and avoid it at all costs. Such is the modern reaction to the Greek classics. In the case of the Boxtales Theater Company's updated theatrical production, this reaction would be a mistake: this is great theater. One would be hard pressed to imagine a better, more genuinely exciting telling of this story. A World Premiere. (complete article...)

Starbucks: Bruhaha, or Brew Ha, Ha October 7, 2005 (Shelly Lowenkopf) Shelly Lowenkopf, raconteur, writer, editor, and man-about-the-literary-town, offers his opinions on Santa Barbara coffee houses: those things you wish somebody would say to the establishments who flunk the quality test. We report, you decide. (complete article...)

Tender Ears: Writing from the Workshop of Holly Prado October 5, 2005 (Josie Martin) It is a Festschrift, an homage in that ancient German tradition to one of Los Angeles' great creative writing teachers. For more than 25 years, Holly Prado has held workshops in her living room birthing the voices of women onto the page, onto manuscripts and galleys, often into print. Yet publication is hardly what her workshop is all about. (complete article...)

A Flat Space To Write: Reds Coffee October 3, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Take a trip back in time to Santa Barbara in the seventies: hot tubs were recently invented, Mountain Drive and Painted Cave were the places to be if you were young and hip (or hippie!), and a "coffee house" was a center of everything counter-cultural. Reds is more than that, but it does serve up modern technology (the Internet) blended with memories of a friendlier time. (complete article...)

My Kids Are My Literary Agents October 2, 2005 (Marcy Luikart) What do you do with a house full of unemployed child labor? Well, put them to work, of course. (complete article...)

New Orleans Is Not Lost September 25, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Rubbish: "New Orleans Gone Forever." In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita I've seen the headline a dozen times now. The self-important newspaper editorialist will go on to say that perhaps New Orleans will be rebuilt, though he's not too sure it's a good idea, but in any case, it will never be the same. They just don't know New Orleans, hometown and adopted city to generations of writers, artists, and musicians. (complete article...)

Chávez Channels Family Stories September 23, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) Denise Chávez sprinkled New Mexican chile powder on the writers in attendance at her workshop Wednesday, September 21 at the Santa Barbara Art Museum. "Writers are always being seasoned and pickled," said the distinguished author from Las Cruces. She's been in Santa Barbara this week sharing her family stories and tricks of the craft. On Saturday, she will receive the 2005 Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature at the Santa Barbara Book and Author Festival. She promised to make the group of writers laugh and cry; and she delivered. (complete article...)

The UCLA Writers Fair and a Review of UCLA's On-line Courses for Writers September 23, 2005 (Karin delaPena) Karin delaPena reports from the UCLA Writers Fair last weekend and provides insight in to a different way of learning the craft -- one she says has advantages over traditional workshops. (complete article...)

From the typewriter to print on demand:one writer's journey September 20, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) Willard Thompson received a great gift when his wife asked her friend to transcribe his typewritten manuscript onto a compact disc. Obtaining early readership and feedback from a local book club has been an invaluable experience for the recent winner of a John E. Profant scholarship. (complete article...)

Better Writing for Writers September 9, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) Anne Lowenkopf offers free advice to her writing students. Her coyote's bag of tricks includes reading, journaling and rewriting. It's a simple formula that works. Lowenkopf has been teaching free writing classes through Santa Barbara's adult education program for over 15 years. She discusses her three course offerings at adult ed and why she thrives on her generous manuscript editing. (complete article...)

Why Has Paris Inspired Writers For So Long? September 9, 2005 ( By William Honey ) Surrounded by French speakers, you are all alone in your English, and it grows within you. Ideas are mulled over and over in isolation. English becomes a language that you know more upon the page than the ear. (complete article...)

The Urge September 9, 2005 (Karen Telleen-Lawton) One woman's labor: having a baby... or having a book? (complete article...)

Chella, Oh Chella, Why'd You Make Us Wait so Long? August 28, 2005 (Alison Schaumburg) A cut with a dull knife. Like quiet, slow poison. A simple, powerful pain with, and without, reckoning. A smell of sunburned skin. Words sparse and clean as a wolf whistle. Chella Courington's Southern Girl Gone Wrong published by FootHills Publishing, New York, is a Chap Book worth waiting for as twenty years of "emotion recollected (not) in tranquility" steep in Ms. Courington's soul. (complete article...)

In Memory of Dennis Lynds August 27, 2005 (Karin Finell) Dennis Lynds, mystery writer of over eighty novels and more than two hundred short stories passed away at age 81. The prolific author whose psuedonym is Michael Collins, was best known for the hard-boiled private eye series, featuring a one-armed detective, Dan Fortune. As a democratic socialist, Collins mixed sociological commentary with his crime-solving page turners. (complete article...)

Volunteers Lean Sideways to Help Make Reading a Joy August 25, 2005 ( Melinda Palacio) Audio books are an important tool for people with print dissabilities. Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) is changing the lives of people who have trouble seeing or decipher squiggles on a page others can recognize as alphabets and words. (complete article...)

Podcasting: The New Wave for Writers August 20, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) Podcasting is the latest way for authors to reach new audiences. Humor columnist for the Montecito Journal, Ernie Witham has teamed up with Harold Adams of to add his funny bone spin to the site's podcast, or the Santa Barbara Life Online Magazine Radio Show (SBLIFE Radio Show). (complete article...)

Local Writers Speak Up about Speaking of Stories August 9, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) On Sunday, July 24 three local female writers discussed their work and the process of writing with moderator David Starkey, host of the tv show The Creative Community. Local writers gleaned new insights on the craft from Catherine Ryan Hyde, Fran Davis and Susan Chiavelli. (complete article...)

Let's Walk: A New Orleans Literary Tour July 29, 2005 ( Melinda Palacio ) On Carolyn Goldsby Kolb's walking tour, I discovered why the city of New Orleans represents an emotional shortcut for writers. The almost 2-hour-walking tour is dizzying with information about writers and famous novels and movies set in New Orleans. (complete article...)

Review of the News-Press Review of Ink Byte July 24, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Everybody likes to have their work noticed. If you've contributed to Ink Byte, here's what the Santa Barbara News Press thinks of your work so far. (complete article...)

READING POETRY WITH ALLEN GINSBERG July 22, 2005 (William Honey) About ten years ago I was visiting Paris, and as usual made a call on George Whitman, owner of Shakespeare and Company Bookstore on the Left Bank across from Notre Dame Cathedral. (complete article...)

A Soft Place to Write July 15, 2005 (Chella Courington) Emailed from Pazzoria Bakery and Cafe, Portland, Oregon. I often write in coffeehouses. The charm is that I can. If I were writing in the eighteenth-century, I'd be banned... (complete article...)

Erik Talkin Is the Book Angel July 8, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) When a writer's life seems housed in a dark and lonely place, the book angel comes to the rescue. Forget about everything writers, agents and publishers say about the book publishing business. Erik Talkin has a new approach to finding writers an agent and, ultimately, a publishing contract. (complete article...)

A week in the life of a writer at the 2005 Santa Barbara Writers Conference. July 1, 2005 (Melinda Palacio) The last day of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference is always bittersweet. I like to linger until the last moment when there's no one left to say goodbye to. (complete article...)

Review: Wicked, the Novel and the Musical June 27, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Wicked is a parable for today, a retelling of the Oz story which pleads with us to look past the "truth" of our leaders, and past our "obvious" understanding of the characters of people in our lives. The musical plays at the Pantages Theater until July 31st. (complete article...)

Creative Partnerships: When Your Writing Partner Is Also Your Romantic Partner June 25, 2005 (by Melinda Palacio) Writers Chela Courington and Ted Chiles discuss love, marriage and successful writing collaborations with your lover. The two have been married for 13 years. When Chiles met Courington, he had little interest in writing or communicating with words, said the 51-year-old economist whose main communication device was arithmetic equations. Meeting Courington altered his mode of communication and his career. Chiles is now a writer who sometimes collaborates on writing projects with his wife. Their writing collaboration has led to numerous projects, including a successful one-act play “Tummy Tamers” staged in Santa Barbara. (complete article...)

Take advantage of the SBWC staff year round ("Santa Barbara is a writers' city" -- Shelly Lowenkopf) June 12, 2005 (by Melinda Palacio) Several months after the Santa Barbara Writers Conference ends each year attendees look back with longing to the time there. But SBWC's executive director, Marcia Meier, now brings a taste of the conference year round. Shelly Lowenkopf's weekend intensive on February 5 could have been named, "All the things you already know about writing, but desperately need to hear, again." (complete article...)

Sedaris fills the house June 12, 2005 (Martha Lannan) Audience members reveled, for the most part, in David Sedaris' sold-out performance at the Arlington Monday evening, April 25th. The jaunty, clever author, ever the keen observer of human experience, read from a variety of his work, much of it autobiographical. (complete article...)

Switching: Thinking About Leaving Microsoft For Apple June 12, 2005 (Steve Beisner) Your computer will never be your friend. Despite appearances, it just doesn't care. It's a stupid machine, but a powerful one, so it can wrek havoc in an instant. The best we can hope for is one that will behave well, not catch a virus, and will stay out of our way. (complete article...)

What Makes A Good Coffee Shop? June 12, 2005 (Ted Chiles) Sometimes it's good to get out of the house and banish the truth that writing is a solitary activity. This is the first of a series by Ted Chiles and Chella Courington about finding alternative place to write. (complete article...)

Why I Call Myself A Writer June 12, 2005 (by Melinda Palacio) Most days I take on a mundane identity: graduate student, tech support, librarian, actress, reporter.  If I were a better liar, I might hide behind another name. (complete article...)

A Weekend for Writers June 12, 2005 (Ted Chiles) With five other writers, I sat looking out the French doors and listened to tales of death, bigotry, delusion, altered time, and an eleven-year-old girl pondering the name on a church pew. I then shared my tale of a man with a knife in his back in Matt Pallamary's Fiction Intensive, “Breathing Life into Your Fiction,” sponsored by the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference (SBWC). (complete article...)

Wading Through Creative Media: One Writer Spreads Her Talents, or Gorilla Not In The Zoo June 12, 2005 (Alison Schaumburg) The gorilla has nothing to do with this piece except to dilute the all-about-me-ness. In college I had a summer job where across the street a young man wore a full gorilla suit to advertise for the Zoo Restaurant. Several times he crossed the busy highway and visited my tiny office. He never removed his mask. I never saw his face. It haunts me to this day. (complete article...)

New Roads for the Santa Barbara Writers Conference,
An Interview With Marcia Meier June 12, 2005
(Melinda Palacio) Marcia Meier’s interest in the Santa Barbara Writers Conference began when she herself was a student of the conference. She beams when discussing the old days when the SBWC was held at the Miramar in Montecito. And she’s even more exciting about becoming the new executive director of the conference. (complete article...)

Tourney pens Shakespearean ‘memoir’ September 16, 2004 (by Melinda Palacio) It would take more than your average poet or novelist to take on the audacious task of penning Shakespeare’s memoirs. One brave writer, Goleta resident Leonard Tourney has taken up the gauntlet. (complete article...)

Capra Press Rolls with Tradition November 2, 2002 (By Melinda Palacio
) Robert Bason beams at the mere mention of Capra Press, the renowned Santa Barbara publishing company he purchased last year. (complete article...)

Where Writing Pays Off: The Legacy of the Santa Barbara Writers' Conference. May 18, 2002 (By Melinda Palacio
) Ever wonder how authors in your favorite bookstore get published? The Santa Barbara Writers' conference has been leading writers onto the right path for 30 years. (complete article...)

Richard Rodgriguez Confronts the Browning of America April 17, 2002 (By Melinda Palacio
) Brown. What's in a color? Richard Rodriguez describes brown as impure and messy, made up of several different colors. (complete article...)

Author Shares His Love for Words  December 6, 2001 (By Melinda Palacio
) Are you a secret writer? One way to multiply your creation of words, sentences, and paragraphs into a finished book or short story is to join a writing group. (complete article...)

Opportunity Knocks: Santa Barbara Reads: A Community Conversation July 31, 2001 (By Melinda Ann Palacio) Are you waiting for a community movement to kick off your summer reading plans? The opportunity has arrived. (complete article...)