December Giveaway: Aimee Bender's The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

December Giveaway: Aimee Bender’s The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

The first lines of Aimee Bender’s stories often set up strange, fairy-tale-esque worlds. For example: “There were two mutant girls in the town: one had a hand made of fire and the other had a hand made of ice.” Other first lines are surreal but with an eerie sense of...
November book reviews: Two girls, 52 men, and other innocents

November book reviews: Two girls, 52 men, and other innocents

Brief reviews of books by contemporary authors I read this month — along with photos of what I ate while reading. The list is ordered by the level my enjoyment: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (in the US, Europa, 2012) “We thought that if we studied hard we would...
10 creative writing graduate degree programs in Los Angeles (PhD, MFA, MA)

10 creative writing graduate degree programs in Los Angeles (PhD, MFA, MA)

The issue of whether or not writers should get an MFA is one fraught with controversy — and I won’t tackle that here. But if you’re interested in getting a graduate degree in creative writing — without leaving the beach, the palm trees, the great weather, and diverse population of...
11 best bookstores in Los Angeles for writers

11 best bookstores in Los Angeles for writers

What makes a bookstore great for writers? There’s the usual stuff all readers want, like nicely organized shelves, a pleasant browsing atmosphere, and if possible, a coffee shop. But as a writer, I also want the bookstore to be the hub of a literary community. That means I favor bookstores...
Five Firsts: Elizabeth Ellen on writing from life, creative freedom, and other gray areas

Five Firsts: Elizabeth Ellen on writing from life, creative freedom, and other gray areas

Every month, I interview an author I admire on his literary firsts. November’s featured author is Elizabeth Ellen, author of Fast Machine (Short Flight/Long Drive), a riveting short story collection that takes a hard, unapologetic look at the complexities of womanhood. Elizabeth is also the author of the chapbook Before...
3 Los Angeles writing meetups where you can write in company

3 Los Angeles writing meetups where you can write in company

Writing can get lonely — and writing meetup groups can be a great place to meet other writers — so you can be lonely together, sitting inches apart but not talking or making eye contact because, well, you’re writing. If such get togethers appeal to you as much as they...
Five Firsts: Stefan Kiesbye on finding the right indie press for your book

Five Firsts: Stefan Kiesbye on finding the right indie press for your book

Every month, I interview an author I admire on his literary firsts. October’s featured author is Stefan Kiesbye, author of Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone (Penguin), a spooky literary novel that made EW’s Must List and was named one of the best books of 2012 by...
11 Los Angeles literary presses -- with 11 books by local authors

11 Los Angeles literary presses — with 11 books by local authors

I love reading books about Los Angeles — especially when they’re written by actual Angelenos. I guess I like seeing my city through a neighbor’s eyes…. One great way of discovering these books is by getting to know the local presses. Here are 11 to check out — along with...
12 Literary journals for Los Angeles writers

12 Literary journals for Los Angeles writers

Get to know your local literary journals, and you’ll get to know your local literary community. Literary journals not only publish the work of local writers, but also hold readings where you can meet the readers, authors, and editors — as well as offer opportunities to get involved. Here are...
5 important resources for women writers

5 important resources for women writers

Every year we see articles bemoaning the dearth of women writers — on award lists, bestseller lists, magazine bylines, and more. But feminist lit groups are working to change that! Here are five moving things forward to get involved with: Bindercon. Described as “the conference and community for women and...
7 big annual literary events in Los Angeles to put on your calendar now

7 big annual literary events in Los Angeles to put on your calendar now

From lit crawls to book festivals, L.A’s got a lot of events that bring together writers and bibliophiles. Here are seven big literary fetes not to miss: Lit Crawl LA. The North Hollywood Arts District becomes the hub of Literary LA for one night each year, when irreverent readings and...
Five Firsts: Jillian Lauren on fear, risk, and sexuality

Five Firsts: Jillian Lauren on fear, risk, and sexuality

Every month, I interview an author I admire on her literary firsts. September’s featured author is Jillian Lauren, author of New York Times bestseller Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, her first memoir. Jillian’s also authored the novel Pretty and a second memoir, Everything You Ever Wanted, about the process she and her...
5 must-read self-help books for writers that aren't about writing

5 must-read self-help books for writers that aren’t about writing

There are hundreds of books out there about improving your writing — but if you’re like me, the challenge comes a little before that, in getting yourself to write in the first place. It is strange: Why do I so often resist doing that which I say I really want...
Five Firsts: Edan Lepucki on giving up and getting lucky

Five Firsts: Edan Lepucki on giving up and getting lucky

Every month, I interview an author I admire on her literary firsts. August’s featured author is Edan Lepucki, author of New York Times bestseller California, her first novel, as well as the novella If You’re Not Yet Like Me. She’s also a staff writer for The Millions and the founder and co-director of ...
7 Steps I took to find my literary agent

7 Steps I took to find my literary agent

It’s gotten a bit better now, but I used to be a really terrible procrastinator. I did everything I didn’t need to do while procrastinating on the one thing I purportedly really, really wanted to do: write. Then I complained about how I had no time to write. Best way...

Hi! I’m Siel, a writer and reader.

Each month I interview an author who inspires me about the pleasures, perils, and practical hows of writing a first book — to help you forge your own creative path.

I also blog about living a literary life in Los Angeles, and give away a book I love each month! Sign up for my monthly newsletter to get entered into the drawing.

My novel-in-stories Cake Time will be published April 6, 2017! Preorder from Amazon.

Daring yet aimless, smart but slightly strange, Cake Time’s young female protagonist keeps making slippery choices, sliding into the dangerous space where curiosity melds with fear and desires turn into dirty messes.

In “How Not to Have an Abortion,” the teenaged narrator looks for a ride from the clinic between her AP exams. In “Easy Target,” the now-college-grad agrees to go to a swingers party with a handsome stranger. A decade later, in “Glow,” she is suddenly confronted by the disturbing and thrilling fact of her lover’s secret daughter.

Ultimately, Cake Time grapples with urgent, timeless questions: why intelligent girls make terrible choices, where to negotiate a private self in an increasingly public world, and how to love madly without losing a sense of self.

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Praise for Cake Time

Cake Time is a delicious indulgence. Treat yourself to its dark, seductive intimacies and savor the gritty sugar of its unsentimental humor.”

— Jillian Lauren, NY Times bestselling author of Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, andEverything You Ever Wanted

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“Siel Ju’s Cake Time is an astonishing debut. Ju’s novel in stories is unsettling and fierce and full of loneliness, sadness, and humor. Her voice is so alive, and her candor—particularly about men and sex—is keenly astute, intimate, and startling. The prose is precise and poetic and Los Angeles vibrates on the page. Wry and heartfelt and uniquely defiant, Cake Time is like a hard slap I didn’t expect or see coming.”

— Victoria Patterson, author of The Little Brother and Drift

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“Siel Ju’s Cake Time is sharply observed and wonderfully contemporary: these complex, flawed, and real characters live in our current world, with all its confusions and opportunity to connect–or disconnect. It’s about the perils and pleasures of intimacy, and its heroine feels as alive as you and I. A compelling and unflinching debut.”

— Edan Lepucki, author of California

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“Siel Ju writes with refreshing candor about sexual appetite and the treacherous difficulty of finding love. There is cruelty in the search and tenderness and a lot of honest fumbling around. Cake Time is our time—a provocative debut.”

— Noy Holland, author of Bird

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“Siel Ju’s stories are not boring because they are about not-boring things, like swingers’ parties and organic fashion company beauty pageants and high school sex and breakups and hook ups. Lots and lots of breakups and hook ups. I worried for Siel Ju reading about all these breakups and hook ups. Then I reminded myself these are fictions Siel Ju is telling us, and Siel Ju is fine. We are all fine, even after all these breakups and hook ups.”

— Elizabeth Ellen, author of Fast Machine and Bridget Fonda

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Preorder Cake Time from Amazon.

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