Monday, June 28, 2010

Union-Tribune Arts and Books Demise, and Some Reasons for Hope

It's been a week since we heard that the San Diego Union-Tribune was firing its Arts and Books editor, Robert Pincus. Maybe "letting go" is what they call it. The new editor, Jeff Light, had a lot to say about the whole story, and here is his letter about the layoffs.
See how the Huffington Post weighed in on the story here.
I'm actually as concerned about the layoffs of Border beats as I am about the Arts cuts, though I will certainly miss Bob Pincus in all his many capacities. How is zero border coverage here in San Diego a good plan for the future?
Meanwhile, some of us here are still trying to help San Diego become a world-class literary and writing center--even a partial list is long: San Diego Writers, Ink; San Diego City Works Press; Read Local San Diego; the Southern California Writers Conference and the La Jolla Writers Conference; the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild; the Publishers and Writers of San Diego; the San Diego Book Awards Association; City College and Grossmont College (and SDSU, UCSD, & USD); dozens of hard-working, passionate independent bookstore owners and managers, and, of course, Sunbelt Publications and some other small presses.
The latest entry onto the local literary stage is Thorn Sully's A Word With You Press, which has a website worth visiting--there's lots of cool stuff to read and some fun contests for writers, too.
I guess I just wanted to say that there is a tremendous amount of wonderful work being done here by San Diego's literary community, not to mention great potential and promise...In spite of appearances to the contrary.
Hasta pronto!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Awards and Desert Travels

The month of June began with a fun evening at the San Diego Book Awards. Six of my "book babies" won top prizes, and many others took honors--our small press had fourteen finalists, between our published and distributed books.
Chasing a Dream in the Galapagos: A Personal Evolution
I'm very pleased that Chasing a Dream in the Galapagos won first prize in the Travel category, because it isn't the usual thing for that genre. The author weaves together the story of her journey with a larger tale of the natural history of, and current conservation work in, the islands, plus a great deal of Darwin history and evolution lore, and enough of her personal family story to make you care.
Cuyamacas Story of San Diego's High Country
Another winner was our popular history of the Cuyamacas written by Leland Fetzer, San Diego's busiest archivist, and author of four books on the region's history, place names, and even local gold mines.
Santa Claus and the Molokai Mules
And last but not least, the adorable Santa Claus and the Molokai Mules won for best children's picture book. I'll remind the world about this book come November--it's the perfect gift for any kid, surfer or wanna-be...Two cookbooks and an anthology we distribute also won awards: Flying Pans, Cicciotti's Kitchen, and Lavanderia an electic anthology of poetry, prose and art. For more on the San Diego book awards click here to go to their site and see the full list of books that took honors.
After basking in the limelight of the awards, and the validation of my peers, I took off some time and went on vacation!
Vacationing is odd when you live in one of America's vacation spots. We don't go looking for palm trees, gorgeous beaches, or sunsets over the waterfront, since we pretty much get that on a daily basis living on a boat in So Cal. We're drawn more to deserts, and there are some great desert locales near enough to drive over for lunch (or dinner). Luckily, this time we took a week, and drove to Palm Springs, where I had some "work" to do...Visiting a few resorts and bookstores in the area, touting Sunbelt's popular desert titles, like Palm Springs Legends by Greg Niemann. Russel and I visited Greg to pick up his manuscript for the upcoming Las Vegas Legends.
Anyway, there were umbrella drinks, and lazy pool-side days spent reading magazines and chatting with friends, and a big party with the usual fabulous fare. Our P.S. buddies really know how to live, and we love to visit--but not TOO often...Then we drove north to the Mojave Desert and through some starkly beautiful scenery, playing rock and roll and marveling at the amazing stands of Joshua Trees, enroute to visiting old friends with a new home in the Antelope Valley.
We are working on a new screenplay, set in the high desert, so this was the perfect setting for brain-storming about new plot lines. One day we took a hike by the California Aquaduct and talked about Chinatown (the link is to a book which contains Towne's original screenplay--arguably one of the best screenplays ever written) and the Owens Valley water debacle of years gone by.
Back home to work and more writing--we threw out much of the screenplay and are reworking it much leaner, and cleaner. Ahh, editing...
hasta pronto!