tucson literary treasures

I have moved 18 times. In a few short weeks, that number will increase to 19 when I leave lovely Tucson, Arizona. I will have lived here about 5 years (though not consecutively). And these are the literary treasures I wish I had known about from the instant I arrived.

Tucson Festival of Books. This didn’t exist when I first moved here in late 2006. This festival is phenomenal. I will miss the festival more than anything else. The key to enjoying this festival is to pick up the TFOB insert in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper the weekend before (in the Sunday paper) and spend the week perusing its contents and making a plan. There is a huge mess of tents and vendors and chaos on the mall at the University of Arizona and I think that most people just show up and wander around while eating roasted corn and tamales – as if it’s a carnival. But, to get the most of the festival, you must attend the informational sessions with different authors and experts. It is a treasure trove. Often, I’ll put together my schedule and send my husband to one presentation to take notes while I head off to another session at the same time.

Worlds of Words. This little gem…sigh…I wish I had known about this years ago. I just discovered it in March 2013 and then they promptly stopped most (all?) of their programming because they are undergoing a massive renovation. The end result will, no doubt, be worth it. But, alas, I won’t get to enjoy it. Maybe you will.

Pima Community College puts together a stellar (i.e. good price, good experts) writer’s workshop each May that is not to be missed.

The University of Arizona Poetry Center. This space is calming, the collection is inspiring and the schedule of activities is enticing.

Book Sales at the Book Barn. The Friends of the Pima County Public Library host book sales year-round. I’ve built a library for myself and my children from their sales. Phenomenal.

Oro Valley Public Library. The entire Pima County Public Library system is incredible. I have used more than my fair share of the library’s resources and expertise. I just wanted to salute the fine librarians at OVPL because they have been so kind and helpful over the years.

The Center for Creative Photography houses North America’s largest collection of fine art photographs. This isn’t exactly literary. But I am including it because I have relied on this prize multiple times for literary research. Its archives are astounding. Just last week, I examined a portion of the Hans Namuth archive to gather information (while I’m still here!) for some future books.

any Tucson literary treasures I missed?

from donald miller


“You know,” I said, “a story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling people around us what we think is important.” – from A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

best (writing) craft books

I am neck deep writing the first draft of a story that I love. I am flailing wildly. I am fumbling. I am trying and writing and deleting and then sleeping and then waking up and realizing that what I thought was good is bad and what I thought was bad is good. And though I complain, I LOVE this stage of writing. The writing that leaves my cheeks flushed, my notebook full of questions, my head reeling with ideas and connections. That is, I love this stage of writing except for when I hate it. When  I  need them, I reach for buoys. Yesterday, as I flipped through Dear Genius to borrow a little bit of condifence from dear Ursula Nordstrom, I realized that I reach for these same buoys over and over. And I thought I’d share. These books are all brilliant for all different reasons. I wish them to all writers.

Dear Genius: The Letters of  Ursula Nordstrom by Leonard S. Marcus

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Letters to A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp


lovely links: October 2013


a great mission statement for (aspiring) children’s book writers

wishing I could visit the stunning Seattle Public Library soon

a great story from Kate DiCamillo  (in it, she mentions despair about writing, briefly, and well, I understand what she means)

i have fallen in love with these notebooks from ecojot and with these from moleskine

which leads me to this story On Keeping a Notebook in the Digital Age

this is interesting, too, about keeping a spark file

reading Green Grass of Wyoming by Mary O’Hara, Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, The Journey that Saved Curious George by Louise Borden, Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work and Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey