Friday, May 29, 2015

Giving my first-ever reading for my new book-in-progress, Under the Stars, a journey through the history of American camping

Next Friday (June 5) I will be reading for the first time from my book in progress, Under the Stars, which will come to you courtesy of Henry Holt & Co next summer. The reading will be part of a wonderful party with wine and small plates (the whole bit) to mark the release of Catamaran Literary Reader's summer magazine, which contains a piece of writing that I am adapting into a chapter of my book.  The event takes place at the Radius Gallery in Santa Cruz. The chapter I will be reading is called "Wild Victorian Ladies" about wild women adventurers who wrote wilderness memoirs more than a century before Cheryl Strayed's Wild became a hit. The chapter has a beginning and a middle but it still needs an ending -- so if you come to the reading and have suggestions for an ending, I will be in your debt.
If you would like to go, here is all the information you could ever need. And since we are talking about books right now, I also wanted to say how proud I am of my wife and fellow nonfiction writer Amy Ettinger, whose book, The Sweet Spot, has just been accepted for publication by Dutton/Penguin USA and should be coming your way in 2017. Bravo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thank you for your 95 suggestions

Thanks -  I had no idea so many people would write in about this. If I use one of the suggested headers, or even riff on it in some way, that person will get some kind of 'camping book' care package as yet to be determined  and a big fat acknowledgment.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Seeking suggestions for the title of my next book

hi everyone -- here is the Facebook link to an ongoing 'live" discussion about the pending title of my next book, which involves my camping adventures through history. Many of your suggestions are absolutely hilarious and I appreciate all of them.  Anyhow, all of you are giving me hope that I will -- eventually -- come up with a really good title for this book. I am also relieved -- no, thrilled -- to report that I have returned safely for the very last camping adventure associated with this book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

End of the year message, and happy holidays to all of you

Hi everyone, and thank you so much for your continuing support and messages and commentary from all over the place including, most recently, Latvia. I appreciate it. Just wanted to ask for your patience. My year-end hibernation is coming up.  I am heading toward a summer turn-in deadline for my new book, the same nonfiction project that has taken me into the Everglades and into the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, and also into the Sierra Nevada. And yes, this is the same project that involved a bare-naked campout in mountain lion territory that you've probably heard about by now. Gives me the chills just thinking about that one. When the time is right, I'll tell you all about that, too.  I am now getting myself ready for what could be the last research campout for this book -- although there is a chance I'll add yet another one in the coming months. That's the main reason we haven't been having beers together recently or meeting for coffee. It's also the reason that I've flaked out on analog birthday cards lately and have resorted to Facebook birthday greetings. Sorry. I've had some exciting news lately. It was great to be added to the roster of Catamaran literary magazine's upcoming literary conference in Pebble Beach, my first ever, and in such great company. I had a great talk for about an hour and a half with Toni Morrison this year, and that was pretty surreal. I am a recent convert to her books and a brand-new super-fan, so it was wonderful to hang out on the phone and ask her everything I wanted to ask. Here is the abbreviated 'feature story' version. There was some great stuff that had to be left on the cutting-room floor because it just didn't fit into the rest of the piece. She kept me on my toes for the entire time. Also, thank you to all of you who have told me they are just discovering The Cactus Eaters: From Found to Lost On The Pacific Crest Trail, my first-ever published book. OK -- that's not the actual subtitle, but I like the sound of it!  Some of you have said you feel like I've written that book for you in particular -- and I know that's true. If you are just tuning in and would like to know more about that first book, here is the updated list of frequently asked questions and apocrypha, acknowledgements, etc. and here is a link to reviews and summaries and all else.  Anyhow, I just want to express my gratitude for all the support -- to the book editor who believed in my second project enough so that he took it with him when he moved to another publishing house, and to every one of you who has been helping to get the word out.  if I have a book tour, I would love to meet you all in person. If you are contemplating a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, yes -- it really is worth it. But if you're craving just a bit more elbow room, you could always take on one of the lesser-known through-hiking options. Ice Age Trail, anyone? Thank you, and I'll see you in the New Year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

My upcoming nonfiction class at Monterey-area writing conference

Thrilled to announce that I will be teaching a class called Beyond the Memoir at the Catamaran Writing Conference at Pebble Beach, which takes place August 12-16, 2015. I will be teaching in good company: there will be fiction with Elizabeth McKenzie, playwriting with Octavio Solis,  poetry with Ellen Bass and Toi Derricotte, and literary detective fiction with John Straley. Scroll down for the full list of participating writers. "Beyond Memoir" will be a class about writing voice-driven projects that don't necessarily fit the classic structure of the confessional memoir, incorporating research, interviews and place to open up the book beyond the self, while using voice to enliven the project, engage the reader, and unite the various elements. The workshop will explore this stylistic direction, showcased in the nonfiction works of writers who make characters of themselves on the page to turn their explorations of disparate subjects -- from the secrets of candy-making and distribution (see Steve Almond's Candyfreak) to sexual practices, outer space explorations and the 'curious life of cadavers (see the entire corpus of Mary Roach) into journeys, with readers following along every step of the way. I can bring some recent experiences to bear in this class including the writing of my second book, which is voice-driven but involves a cast of hundreds and several different locales and historical periods. I know it's a while off but I've already started prepping for this because I can't help myself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Straight out of Santa Cruz: Elizabeth McKenzie's story in the New Yorker

Our friend, the talented fiction writer Elizabeth McKenzie, the author of a well-received novel as well as a story collection, showed a short story to our writing group out in Santa Cruz early this fall. It gave me chills; reading it was a waking dream, and I could not stop thinking about it afterwards. Her story made me think about families and the way nostalgia and loss can warp the way we view the past. It also made me think about the way writers cannibalize memories. Anyway, after reading it, I thought, "wow, if only the world could see this story."

Well, now it can. The story, "The Savage Breast," appears in this week's New Yorker magazine. Congratulations, Lisa, and here is a nice review that just rolled in from the literary blogosphere. The author of this piece is Majnun Ben-David.

And if you're thinking that you're about to hear more from this wonderful fiction writer, your hunch is correct.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

My first-ever interview about my post-Cactus Eaters book covering bare-naked camping and much more

The talented arts writer (and fiction and nonfiction writer) Wallace Baine interviewed me recently about my nonfiction book-in-progress for Henry Holt & Co.  I've been keeping mum about a lot of this, and trying, (to quote a former roommate), "not to let the cat out of the bottle" so it was fun to talk about this with him. Here is the story.  This is not a camping guidebook -- although I will share some ideas and suggestions -- but an affectionate look into camping's strange and beguiling past.