Best coffee shops for writers in Los Angeles: The Valley

Best coffee shops for writers in Los Angeles: The Valley

I like to write at home in the mornings, but find I get more done in the afternoons if I’m close to espresso machines. This is true despite the fact that after noon, I drink only decaf. Basically, it’s the smell of caffeine that keeps me productive — Picky writers...
5 best literary podcasts in Los Angeles

5 best literary podcasts in Los Angeles

Want to feel mildly productive when you can’t write — because you’re spending your minutes and hours stuck in Los Angeles traffic? Listen to a literary podcast while you wait on the 405. Here are five entertaining podcasts with an L.A. connection for your listening pleasure: Otherppl with Brad Listi.Hosted...
5 best writing workshops and classes in Los Angeles

5 best writing workshops and classes in Los Angeles

Some writers are self-taught. I’m really, really not one of these. I’ve taken a lot of — perhaps too many — writing workshops. I majored in English writing as an undergrad, then got a PhD in creative writing — and apparently all that still wasn’t enough, because I’ve also taken...
Five Firsts: Clancy Martin on love, lying, and writing sans hangover

Five Firsts: Clancy Martin on love, lying, and writing sans hangover

Every month, I interview an author I admire on his literary firsts. January’s featured author is Clancy Martin, author of two novels including How to Sell, a fast-paced, entertaining tale of deception — both of others and of the self — peppered with philosophical ideas that’ll make you think about life and...
Hear my story on 52 Men The Podcast

Hear my story on 52 Men The Podcast

One of my favorite books read last year is Louise Wareham Leonard’s 52 Men, a thinly veiled memoir written in tiny, flash pieces, each one about a guy with whom the narrator had a relationship — some brief, some longer, some intimate, some cruel (full microreview here). Now, 52 Men...
7 Best public libraries in Los Angeles for writers

7 Best public libraries in Los Angeles for writers

I want a lot from my library. A good library for writers, in my view, should have comfortable chairs and desks, wifi and outlets, a decent selection of books, relatively easy parking, and a generally pleasant atmosphere to hang out in for a few hours. A bookstore and coffee shop...
January Giveaway: Clancy Martin's How to Sell

January Giveaway: Clancy Martin’s How to Sell

Cocaine and Philosophy. Fake coins and real jewels. Diamonds and Rolexes. Get all that and more when you read Clancy Martin’s first novel, How to Sell. This novel follows Bobby Clark, who drops out of high school and goes into the jewelry business — the double-dealing, customer-swindling, insurance-scamming kind of...
December book reviews: Juan, Dick, and Levy

December book reviews: Juan, Dick, and Levy

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: All at Sea: A Memoir by Decca Aikenhead (Nan A. Talese / Knopf, 2016) “I am afraid that by writing...
5 ways to give back to literary nonprofits in Los Angeles

5 ways to give back to literary nonprofits in Los Angeles

They say true happiness comes from giving — so if you want to be happier in 2017, try this: Ask not what your literary community can do for you, ask what you can do for your literary community. Here are five ways to give to the literary community this coming...
6 Book Clubs in Los Angeles to join in 2017

6 Book Clubs in Los Angeles to join in 2017

If you long to discuss books you love — in real life, outside the confines of Amazon reviews and Goodreads comments — make joining a book club a 2017 new year’s resolution. Here are five to check out — For the cocktail aficionado: The Edison Book Club This book club...
12 literary reading series in Los Angeles

12 literary reading series in Los Angeles

Looking for a writing community in Los Angeles? One great way to find it is by becoming a regular at a local reading series. New Angelenos sometimes have trouble doing that though — because it can actually take some time to find out about these reading series! So — I’ve...
Five Firsts: Aimee Bender on writing without a plan and eating cake on book tour

Five Firsts: Aimee Bender on writing without a plan and eating cake on book tour

Every month, I interview an author I admire on her literary firsts. December’s featured author is Aimee Bender, author of five books including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, a short story collection stories unafraid to meld the real with the impossible, the grotesque with the funny, the sacred with...
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 ...

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.

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My novel-in-stories Cake Time will be published April 6, 2017!

Preorder now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Target | IndieBound | Skylight

Cake Time by Siel JuDaring 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 now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Target | IndieBound | Skylight

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