Astronomical diversions will eclipse you

If you were expecting information about Monday’s solar eclipse, you will be partially disappointed. I won’t be in the path of totality so I can’t give you 100 percent. You’ll have to settle for 76.


Unfortunately for science geeks and eclipse-chasers, the trivial has eclipsed the awe-inspiring.

I refer to recent and continuing political events. I won’t spend time on those here, except to say that their sound and fury* have grown so loud and distracting that the total eclipse of the sun merits only small mentions. Will things be different on Monday the 21st? I worry what a person who concocts outlandish diversions to distract from slightly less outlandish diversions might plan if he fears being eclipsed by something astronomical.

Here in the San Francisco bay area, we can expect about 76 percent coverage for Monday’s total solar eclipse. I’ve got my eclipse glasses ready.

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Leave your garret and come to my party

Nighttime on the road. Photo credit: Harrison Kalman

Being a writer can be hard sometimes. All alone in your garret, scribbling away. Not to mention the often depressing news about how hard it is to make a living in this business.

That’s why I’m having a party. I can’t take credit for this idea. Over the years, I’ve so enjoyed the drop-and-hop events hosted on Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride blog that I decided to steal her idea. (Thank you, Susie!)

Your invitation

Here’s how it works:

  • If you’re a published author, comment below with a link to your book’s marketing page, whether on your web site or an online retailer. Try to be succinct. Hook us with a few sentences.
  • If you’re an aspiring author with a blog, comment with a link to a post that makes you proud. Brevity will serve you well, too.
  • If you’re a humble reader (we love you!), comment with a link to your favorite summer reading material so far—book, article, someone else’s blog, etc.

Note that all the bullet points above mention ONE LINK. I’ll steal another idea from Susie: one link only please, or you’re disqualified!

I hope we’ll end up with a rollicking party and lots of new ideas for reading material. Invite your friends!

Resources on mental health

At the back of What Remains Unsaid I included a short discussion on mental illness/mental health issues with statistics and resources. If you’ve read the book, you know that mental illness plays a role in the lives of many of the characters. I’ve now added a resources page to my web site so readers can easily navigate to some of the many sources of support and information available online. You can find them here.

The summer of free books continues

Don’t forget to enter my Goodreads giveaway for one of five signed copies of What Remains Unsaid. (U.S. only, through August 8.)

In person

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay area, I hope you can come to the reading by local authors at The Main Gallery in Redwood City on July 26. I’ll be there reading from What Remains Unsaid.

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Grammar can save the world

“Some English that might strive thine ear to please” — John Keats, Sonnet to Spenser

I recently spent a week being paid to care very much that tenses agreed and singular nouns did not precede plural verbs. That is, I was copy editing.

And here I arrive at the limit of my ability to describe proper grammar. I am a whole-body grammarian, meaning that I learned grammar by osmosis, not by studying its rules. I can put a sentence together correctly. I can correct other people’s sentences. But I often have trouble explaining why something is right. I’m like a musician who doesn’t understand theory but plays a mean blues guitar.

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A weekend among the book people

I spent this past weekend on my feet talking about What Remains Unsaid to anyone who walked by. That’s not as weird as it sounds, since I was at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California along with a handful of other authors published by Sand Hill Review Press.

Sand Hill Review Press Booth

We’re an award-winning bunch: ten over the last few years. Those little circles and rectangles on the badges below represent IPPYs and IPAs.

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Where do stories come from?

When I was searching for an upstate New York setting for my new novel, What Remains Unsaid, I couldn’t find the perfect town. So I made one up.

I grew up in a small—very small—town. One traffic light, one grocery story, a post office, and a population of 1,500 or so spread over fifty square miles. But the real town of Hillsdale wasn’t quite right as a setting for the book.

Hillsdale’s traffic light (from Google maps)

For one thing, it was too far from Syracuse, where much of the book’s early action takes place. Also, I wanted no confusion about the fact that this book is fiction, not memoir (you’ll see why when you read it). So I came up with the fictional town of Dyerville. I conceived of it as Hillsdale transplanted a couple hundred miles to the northwest, about halfway between Syracuse and Ithaca.

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5 things you never wanted to know about me

Working on marketing for “What Remains Unsaid” after attending two births in three days for my day job as a birth doula. (Okay, day AND night job.)

The five things

I’ll make this quick, because I’m kinda fried.

  1. I snore, which I would be doing in the photo above if it weren’t an awkwardly posed selfie.
  2. I dislike emptying the dishwasher but try to turn it into an exercise in mindfulness, which works only sometimes.
  3. I get cranky when I’m tired.
  4. I love weeding my garden. Unlike when I’m emptying the dishwasher, I am able to be fully present with my hands in the dirt.
  5. I’m a morning person, except after I’ve been up all night.

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Join me to march for art

On April 22, I marched for science in San Francisco along with an estimated 15,000 in that city. More than 600 marches were planned worldwide, though I couldn’t find after-the-fact estimates of total participation.

If I hadn’t become a writer, I’d probably have become a environmental scientist. Also, I’m the descendant of scientists and the parent of a likely future scientist. I’m alarmed, as many are, by plans to shift government resources from programs and agencies designed to preserve, support, and protect to ones intended to destroy, divide, and plunder.

In Justin Herman Plaza (photo by Audrey Kalman)

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