I went to the LA Times Festival of Books, and it was awesome.

The 18th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held on April 20th and 21st at its usual spot, The University of Southern California, and it was my first time attending it. According to the Festival of Books website, the purpose of the event is “to bring together the people who create books with the people who love to read them.” All over the campus, local booksellers, publishing companies, writer’s groups, writers, and more set up tents and booths where visitors can freely browse.

Oh, yeah, that’s right, the event was free (except for parking).

The best part of the festival, in my opinion, are the author “conversations” held at different times in different locations. There are numerous themed stages set up, from the Young Adult Lit stage to the Poetry stage. The best way to navigate the event is to look at the schedule online (or through the Festival app on your phone), find the performances or conversations you’re most interested in seeing, and plan your day accordingly.

Lucky for me, two of my favorite authors of all time, Margaret Atwood and Rachel Cohn, happened to be speaking on Saturday. Atwood is a Canadian writer who’s penned such classics as The Handmaid’s Tale and one of my favorite novels The Blind Assassin, which I first read about two years ago. My friends and I arrived a few minutes late, so we were only able to catch the audience Q&A part of the conversation. I watched her adoringly from the balcony of the Bovard Auditorium. My view wasn’t spectacular, but I heard her elegant, firm voice clearly, and was thrilled to simply be in her presence.

Better Book Titles

Have you ever picked up a book and wished you knew what the book was really about just by looking at the cover? Or after reading a book have you ever thought that it could have had a better title? Comedian, writer, and performer Dan Wilbur shares his ideas for better book titles on his tumblr site betterbooktitles.com He features book covers of bestsellers and classics, and gives them a title that’s more revealing and simply humorous.

“This blog is for people who do not have thousands of hours to read book reviews or blurbs or first sentences,” Wilbur writes on the site. “I will cut through all the cryptic crap, and give you the meat of the story in one condensed image. Now you can read the greatest literary works of all time in mere seconds!”

Wilbur’s blog is definitely worth checking out. Here’s a few of my favorites from the site:

plus Battle RoyaleSuzanne Collins: The Hunger GamesReader Submission: Title by comedian Tyler Snodgrass The Hunger Games

May Poetry Workshop

Time for month two, all of you writing fans out there. To make this easy, I’m going to quote myself from my last monthly post (it’s not plagiarism to quote yourself and announce it beforehand):

I’m going to break down how these monthly assignments work. I give you an assignment; you do the assignment. It’s pretty simple.

Joking aside, there will be multiple levels to each assignment. Most assignments will have a base, intermediate and advanced level posted. To participate, you merely have to work on the base level. If you are looking to challenge yourself, I post the intermediate and advanced levels for you to work with.

At the end of the month, I will pick 3-5 of the best poems submitted and post them with the rationale behind why I picked those particular poems. The level of assignment does not come into play in the picking; meaning an advanced poem will not be picked over a base poem if I feel the base poem was executed better.

Once your poem is completed, click Submit Piece Here on the blog’s menu bar to be taken to a submission form. Please include a little something about yourself in the additional information section of the form.

For The Girl Who Loves Books, Nerd Culture, and Thongs

My friend Kaylee, an English Lit major at UCLA, has an Esty.com shop in which she sells t-shirts, notebooks, and, of course, thongs that are, as I like to call it, nerd culture and book themed because, why not? Her stuff is cute and she gets a ton of sales around Christmas. We’ve talked about good gifts for writers before, and I think these are fun gifts to get a significant other who loves books or hell, even for someone to get themselves if they are a big enough fan. Below are some items from her shop I adore.

Snape Panties for the girls that love Snape(aka every girl who reads Harry Potter)

Free Comic Book Day

Yeah that’s right. The most anticipated holiday of the year is fast approaching, save Saturday May 4th for a day of comic book store-hopping.  But wait, what is Free Comic Book Day you ask? You’ve never heard of it you say!

Well, Free Comic Book Day is a single day, the first Saturday in May each year, when participating comic book shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely FREE to anyone who comes into their stores.

I Would Totally Take my Panties off For The Right Poem, Part 1

You read the title right. Today I’m exploring the use of poetry as seductive tool. So anyone who has had a British Lit class or has taken a Poetry course of some sort will be familiar with The Flea by John Donne.

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our mariage bed, and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, w’are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me,
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail, in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thy self, nor me the weaker now;
’Tis true; then learn how false, fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

That’s So Chocolate Bar: How a Book is Helping Fund Research to Cure a Rare Disease

When 6 year old Dylan Siegel wrote the book Chocolate Bar and then single handedly pushed for his parents to self-publish it, it was well received by the public, earning over $92,000 and landing him multiple book signings and interviews. So what’s the story behind Chocolate Bar‘s success?

Dylan, right, and his best friend Jonah, left
Dylan (right) and his best friend Jonah (left)

Dylan wrote the book to raise money for his 7 year old best friend, Jonah Pournazarian, who has a rare liver disease, glycogen storage disease.

“My goal is to raise a million dollars!” Dylan told TODAY.com. “Then I think I’ll make a whole series of Chocolate Bar books so I can raise money for different diseases.”

Amanda Riggle Author Profile

IMG_0206Published Poet Profile: Amanda Riggle

Interview by: Melanie Figueroa

Amanda is a student at Cal Poly Pomona, a tutor, and an editor at The Poetics Project. While Amanda’s goal is to become a teacher, she also writes poems and short stories. On April 26th, one of Amanda’s poems will be published in the Pomona Valley Review Literary Journal. For more information about the journal, visit their website www.pomonavalleyreview.com. Below is an interview I was fortunate enough to be have with Amanda about what it’s like to be published, her writing process, and, of course, poetry.

The Poetics Project: Amanda, you wrote this poem in response to a workshop for The Poetics Project. Can you please tell us a little about that assignment and how your piece was influenced by it?

Amanda: Before the website was launched, we had a small Facebook group in which we critiqued each other’s writing and had creative writing projects with a deadline for the work to be shared.  The assignment my poem was in response to had two requirements – one, that it be about childhood and two, that it fit with Russian formalist critic Victor Shklovsky’s view of art in that it takes a look at the mundane and transforms the familiar by describing it in unfamiliar terms so that the reader takes a look at the mundane subject and sees a new thing in it they hadn’t recognized before. My response to that prompt was to take the opposite view of childhood that society generally holds – that it is not something precious, unique, and priceless and, in fact, is something that everyone has, good, bad, or in-between.

Graffiti: Bringing Literature to the Streets

Great literature can inspire various forms of art, including the kind that paints our streets: graffiti. Graffiti is generally illegal in the United States, unless it is done in cities with walls designated for such a purpose. However, the drawings left on these walls are often painted over by other artists due to the limited space. Because it is illegal, graffiti writers often go through great lengths to leave their artwork on a public wall, often making political statements in the process.

Below are a few examples of literary graffiti around the world. Which one’s your favorite?

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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry The Little Prince

Amanda Got a Shakespeare Tattoo

Lo and behold, I said in my biography that I like tattoos, and here I have a post about my latest tattoo and first Shakespeare tattoo.

The sketch that would become my tattoo.
The sketch that would become my tattoo.

I guess the question is where did this quote come from? It’s from Othello, my favorite Shakespeare tragedy. The specific speaker of these lines is Iago, one of the most sinister and clever villains written by Shakespeare. The thing about Iago is that, by all appearances, he is a trustworthy man who has fought by Othello’s side in battles and has saved Othello’s life on multiple occasions. Everyone has reason to trust Iago, the lower class man who has risen as far as he can within the ranks of his society and is angry that, while he is stuck at his station, Othello, an outsider, can advance and marry well above Iago’s station. Iago’s sharp mind, golden tongue, and honest appearance bring down ruin on the others of the play.