Talking Writing at Borders

MUSE MADAMS.borders.jpg
No baseball blogging tonight as I was busy in my other capacity as a writer and writing teacher. As some of you know, I co-lead a workshop with my friend Melodie Johnson Howe called The Muse Madams (check out our web site), and tonight was a free session we gave at the Borders store in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara. With all the rain we’ve been having in California, I didn’t know if we’d get a single person to show up. But we had a nice crowd of aspiring writers who braved the wet weather and brought their work and their enthusiasm. It’s always so rewarding to listen to writers read from their latest projects and then offer our critiques (hopefully constructive ones). And there’s nothing like getting a bunch of writers together in a room. We all share the same concerns and support each other for better or worse. What I’m saying is that my night off from blogging was a good one.
More about baseball tomorrow.
(Oh, about the picture. I’m the one on the right, in the middle of making a point. Melodie is on the left, waiting for me to shut up so she can speak. Everybody there had a story to tell. I hope they all get published some day.)



    i am usually going more crazy in the off season. sometimes i have had that incredible pain of missing baseball and just want to turn on a game but i think i am ok for two reasons. one is i watch all sports so i watch football, some hockey, basketball, ice skating, most everything and the mlb network is sometimes quite good. i don’t care as much and wins and losses in other sports don’t do the same thing to me as any yankee game. a playoff game of any of the other teams i follow matter less than an early april yankee game. it does however keep me occupied in the evil winter that is new england. the main thing i think that is working this off season is the world series victory. when i need a yankee dose i watch a short video or a different video, i read this blog, i picture mariano on the mound, i picture champagne and pies in faces. i like thinking we won the world series!! when the season starts i will be back to obsessing and worrying and angst over losses and now it’s just joy and victory. i am still enjoying it. also with the playoffs taking over the entire month of october i really have enjoyed reading a lot this winter. so keep writing, i/we need more to read.

  2. ooaooa

    If I didn’t know better I would say that “dude” on the left is me!
    From this angle he looks just like me.
    FYI, just found out Jeter was asked to the upcoming dinner in CT. on Feb 12th honoring Don Zimmer but declined since begins his intensive workouts Feb. 1st. Media relations director for the event is related to my wife and he gave no answer when I asked if Torre was a possibility. We’ll see.


    Dear Muse Madame —
    ‘Tis cool to see you in those environs…Borders is a fave place o’mine, as we have a gi-normous one covering three floors at our local mall…have been to book ‘thingies’ a time or three…last time, a former next-door neighbor of ours (Irene Levine) was discussing/promoting her book, “Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup With Your Best Friend” — all about women’s relationships with their BFFs, and highly recommended (see Amazon)…could be some future material for you, Miz Novelist Supreme…
    And now, a little beisbol…reading the Babe Ruth book (The Big Bam), Montville tells us how Babe never even left Baltimore until he was 19 and the lower-league Orioles sold him to the Bosox…freed at last from that penitentiary of a school, St. Mary’s Industrial School for Orphans, Delinquent, Incorrigible, and Wayward Boys (I did NOT make that up)…on his way to spring training…”he had never ridden a train. He never had been able to pick from a menu, then pick again and again, as much as he wanted. He never had done a lot of things.” Somewhat revealing, eh…?
    (Oh, and P.S. — say hi to your partner’s hubby for me…!)

  4. rrrt

    Looks like you had a good turnout despite the weather. I was just reading about all your rain in this morning’s paper. I hope you are staying safe, and are not in an area in danger of mudslides or anything like that! Only Danys Baez days until we meet up in Clearwater! (you’re right, that little game IS addictive)
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

  5. Jane Heller

    Barbara, I agree that it does make a difference that the Yankees won the World Series as we solder on through the off-season. It’s much easier than sitting around thinking about the regrets and the misplays and the ways the team could have done better. They did do better! They were the best! It takes the edge off. And I’m glad if the blog helps pass the time too. But for me, this last stretch before spring training just seems LOOOONG.

    John, the dude on the left was Grant, the community relations director at Borders who asked us to do a free workshop there. He’s a great guy and did a nice job of moderating. Some people read the pages they’d written and had us critique them. Mostly, Grant asked us questions about the writing/publishing process. Sorry Jeter isn’t coming to the dinner. Bummer!

    Well, the writing workshops aren’t exactly my civic duty, Jeff. I get paid very well for them, although this one was free. Do I look serious in the pic? I must have been making a point!

    Cat, I think you would have enjoyed it even if you don’t have writing aspirations. It was fun listening to people talk about their ideas for books and blogs and screenplays – a very communal atmosphere, plus free lattes!

    Your former neighbor’s book sounds interesting, Dave. I’m writing a novel now involving a woman whose best friend stabs her in the back (not literally), so I’m exploring that territory. The Babe story is amazing when you think where he came from. To succeed after such a miserable early life was quite a feat. And yes, Bones Howe was at the event to support Melodie. We all had dinner together afterwards. They just moved into a new house and he hung all his gold records in the hallway.

    Oh, the rain has been crazy, Sue. It’s 9:30 am as I type this and it’s STILL raining – hard. Our road had a little slide. We had to move some rocks out of the way to get out last night. But so far nothing horrible. The problem is that the rain is supposed to continue all week and into next. It’s the end of the world!

    Paul, you should definitely have a signing. You’d get lots of people to show up at one of the NY stores. Do it!

  6. Jane Heller

    I think I will build an arc, John and Jeff, and I’ll be sure to leave off the Red Sox and Cubs fans for you! My house is floating away right now. Heeeelp!

  7. crzblue2

    that is great! Nice turnout! I love bookstores and libraries. I am a member of Borders, Barnes and Noble and in my purse I carry library cards for L.A., LA county, Pasadena, Alhambra and Monrovia. I even have one for San Diego and when I got stuck in Boston because of a NorthEastern, I got one from there. The hotel was so close to there.
    If anyone is in downtown L.A., you just got to check the sport’s room there. It is the biggest selection of sport’s book that I have ever seen. Lots of old books. The Pasadena library is an old building with narrow winding stairs but there is also an elevator.


    Okay…while you’re ‘exploring that territory,’ here’s part of what the review of Irene’s book sez: “Levine’s 7 stages of grief are loosely reminiscent of the…grief model, but include new elements: Self Blame, Embarrassment and Shame and Relief…Whether your friendship sputtered because of physical distance or your best friend slept with your boyfriend [!], Levine deftly assures us that although the pain can be strong, the sorrow will pass.” So there you are.
    While I’m yakking…must be ultra cool to walk down the Bones Howe Hallway of Fame…ah, the images in my mind…meanwhile, stay warm, high, and dry…!

  9. Jane Heller

    Writers need book lovers and supporters like you, Emma. The industry is in a transitional state right now, so keep reading those books! Very interesting about the library in downtown LA. I will have to check out their sports room.

    Thanks for the info, Dave. I always enjoy hearing what other writers are up to!


    Jane – I checked out your Muse Madams website. Cool! Do you have a lot of participants in the regular workshop?
    My she and he- fans of Yankee pinstripes are counting down the days until pitchers and catchers. One of my he-fans and I check the Yankee website everyday at lunch to see if there is anything new. Still no LF! I get a baseball fix everyday when I drive home by listening to XM radio’s Home Plate channel. This helps me twofold – 1: I get to hear people talk about only baseball, and 2: it gives me heads up on players to pick for my fantasy team!
    Hope the rain has ended for you and no flooding.

  11. diamondgirl55

    Hi Jane! I finally came back after MLBlog withdrawals, haha. I’ve missed reading your entries but I’m glad I’m back blogging. That’s an awesome picture of you at Borders! If only it was around here, I would have totally attended..maybe a tour sometime and you can include Seattle or Portland? ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

  12. Jane Heller

    Kathleen, we had 12 participants in the first workshop series and found it was too many. Almost everyone wants to read from their work so we often ran out of time before each person got a chance to read. This time we’re taking fewer people. Should be a good group. Two are returning from a previous workshop. I check to see if there’s any Yankees news too, but I also check this blog because I know you or one our other buddies will leave a comment letting me know that something’s up. Like maybe the Damon standoff is over? Please? As for the rain, don’t ask. It just keeps coming.

    Welcome back to the blogosphere, diamondgirl! I’d love to come to Seattle. I did a book signing there a few years ago and have fond memories of the city. Great hotels and restaurants and very friendly people.

  13. Jane Heller

    I read that, Kathleen, and while I think Hairston is not the best source for the Yankees’ internal discussions, I hope Damon will be back, of course. My fingers and toes are crossed!


    Hey, according to Yankees ‘N More, Jerry Hairston, Jr. reports that Brian Cashman didn’t negotiate with him because, “they are waiting for Johnny.” The buzz is that Cashman is waiting Johnny out and that it is more likely than not that Johnny will be back to the NY Yankees. I sure hope this is true and the sources for the blog are credible. According to the NY Times, Johnny wants to play. Keep your fingers crossed!!

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