A National City Notable

My hometown of National City, CA claims a modest but eclectic list of notables. The Return of the Killer Tomatoes, starring George Clooney, was filmed in National City. The serial killer Andrew Cunanan was born in National City. Olympic sprinter Gail Devers graduated from my high school, Sweetwater Union High, and Rosie Hamlin, lead singer…

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A Room of My Own Not Far From Home

When you’re waitlisted for the residency you applied for and you’re convinced that being waitlisted is as good as a rejection, you come up with Plan B because your characters are begging for attention, anxious to be nudged from their torpor. So you arrange time off from your day job, secure in the knowledge that…

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The Dock Street Salon at Phinney Books

There’s a great monthly reading series at Phinney Books called Dock Street Salon. It’s organized by Dane Bahr and Heather Jacobs of Dock Street Press, a boutique publishing house in Ballard. The press was founded by folks who believe that “a book is a piece of art.” Dock Street brings that same sensibility to the…

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What Happens in Vegas Gets Posted in a Blog

A “Las Vegas virgin” is what a fellow guest at The Flamingo called me when he learned that this was my first visit to Sin City. I had sidled along the hallway after depositing my bag in my room to avoid photobombing the selfie with his companion. They turned around and saw me and we…

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Uncommon Women

At Hedgebrook’s recent annual fundraiser called Equivox—equal voice—to support women’s stories as vehicles for change, I was again much moved by the sheer energy, goodwill, and, yes, love that this very special writing retreat inspires among alumnae and community supporters. This year I got to meet Hollis Wong-Wear, alumna of the Hedgebrook Songwriter’s Retreat, and…

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Visit the Real National City, Unfiltered

There’s a new promo video about National City, California, the place where I grew up and about which I wrote an essay titled “Home is Where the Wart Is.” As you might imagine, my essay is at odds with a Visit National City tourism campaign. All soft focus with bouncy music and a honeyed voiceover,…

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Me, Angie Rubio, and Magic in Port Townsend

This summer I’m going to the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference—again. I’ve been to others, all wonderful places, each offering its unique atmosphere and particular added attraction—a mountain to hike at Squaw Valley, readings held at wineries at Napa Valley, fierce bonding at VONA, a sense of history and celebrity at Bread Loaf, the D.H. Lawrence…

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Thanks to Places and People in 2013

It was a fun year for me. I saw old friends and met new ones. I learned new things. I got older and, if not wiser, maybe more reflective. Here are my thanks to some of the people and places that made the year memorable. San Francisco – April Thanks to Heyday Books for including…

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Taos Magic

Most summers I attend a writers conference. I want to be inspired by other writers, meet new people, and learn from an established writer whose work I admire and who has a reputation for being a good teacher. This summer I especially wanted an atmosphere that was serious, but not intense, a vibe that was…

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