Writing Life
Best coffee shops for writers in Los Angeles: Northeast LA

Best coffee shops for writers in Los Angeles: Northeast LA

Picky writers can’t just go to any coffee shop. We need good working spaces with comfy chairs and tables. We need decent wifi and electric outlets for our laptops. We (or at least I) need good reading light. And we like to be able to hang for a few hours without feeling like we’re overstaying our welcome. Which is to say — I’m really putting together this best coffee shops list for me. I often find myself stuck in a part of town I don’t know very well — usually before or after some event — because I don’t want to drive home until after rush hour ends. Now (or more accurately, soon, when I finish this 5-part guide covering most L.A. neighborhoods), whatever area of Los Angeles I happen to be in, I know where I can stop to read or get some writing done while I wait for traffic to clear. Earlier: * Best coffee shops for writers in Los Angeles: Westside * Best coffee shops for writers in Los Angeles: The Valley ___ Silver Lake: Dinosaur Coffee. 4334 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Need freedom from free wifi? This no-free-wifi spot will force you to work on […]

Live Talks Los Angeles: Literary conversations with popular authors

Live Talks Los Angeles: Literary conversations with popular authors

Ever wonder how novelists are treated at the Oscars? At a Live Talks Los Angeles event on Monday, Colm Tóibín dished on his experience attending an Academy Award after his novel Brooklyn was made into a film. “If you’re a star up for an Oscar, you go in one door, and if you’re a just a novelist … you go in another door. And it’s not just the red carpet. There’s no carpet!” Colm Tóibín was paired with arts and cultures writer Scott Timberg for a wide-ranging conversation that covered everything from Brexit to Miro to Irish history to Elizabeth Bishop to Colm’s own latest novel, House of Names. It was a pretty inspiring time — and my first time at a Live Talks Los Angeles event, a speaker series that’s been bringing authors and other thought leaders to L.A. for seven years. And conveniently for me, most of the events happen on the westside; Colm’s event was at the Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre at New Roads School. Sadly I learned of the series only recently — or I would have gone to the conversation between Jami Attenberg and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney earlier this year! Founded and produced by […]

Sublevel and Westwind: Two more journals for Los Angeles writers

Sublevel and Westwind: Two more journals for Los Angeles writers

Just eight months ago I wrote about 12 literary journals for Los Angeles writers — and since then, I’ve discovered two more! Read, enjoy, and submit — Sublevel. CalArts’s longtime lit magazine Black Clock folded a little while back, but in its place a newer, even edgier literary magazine has launched. Sublevel is “devoted to the nexus of literature, poetics, art, criticism, philosophy, culture, & politics,” and its editors “make no hard distinctions between creative and critical enterprise.” In addition to (mostly experimental) writing, the zine includes conversations and art. The main issues go up online, but Sublevel also publishes a supplementary print edition — called B-Sides. The first issue was edited by Maggie Nelson and Janice Lee — but both of these CalArts faculty members are leaving the institution this year, Maggie heading to USC and Janice to Portland State University. It’s unclear who’ll head up the second issue. In the meantime, enjoy browsing the first — Westwind. Unbeknownst to me until two weeks ago, the English department at UCLA has been publishing Westwind, UCLA’s journal of the arts, for over 50 years now! These days, Westwind publishes online issues in the fall and winter, along with an annual […]

Young Literati: Party with book lovers, support libraries

Young Literati: Party with book lovers, support libraries

Shepard Fairey DJs, Andrew Bird whistles and sings and plays the violin, Chelsea Handler mocks Trump by reading a damning excerpt of his book. Before and after those performances, you get to mingle with fellow book lovers over gourmet hors d’oeuvres next to an open bar. If that sounds like a fun night to you, make sure you go to the next Young Literati event! The Young Literati Ninth Annual Toast happened on Saturday at NeueHouse Hollywood — and along with the celebrities mentioned above, featured a handful of short comic readers: Retta (Parks and Recreation) read hilarious questions people have asked librarians, Constance Wu (Fresh Off the Boat) a bloody story about a girl delivering a calf. Kumail Nanjiani’s (Silicon Valley) reading was my favorite; he took us through a Choose Your Own Adventure book — a philosophical one with thought-provoking and super abrupt multiple endings — Young Literati is basically a membership program for people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, benefiting the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. If you join, you get to benefit the Foundation — and to go to cool exclusive literary events like the Toast. The Tenth Annual Toast won’t be happening until next […]

Disquiet International Literary Program: Two-week adventure in Lisbon, Portugal

Disquiet International Literary Program: Two-week adventure in Lisbon, Portugal

Love literature and love travel — but don’t want to do all the plotting and planning to make an international literary adventure happen on your own? Try the Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal. I went two summers ago, and loved it. I mean, this was the view from my Airbnb. Plus I got to meet fantastic authors, workshop with acclaimed writers, go on excursions to castles and beaches, and explore the pretty streets. I went to readings and receptions at gorgeous, historical places all over Lisbon. Oh, and I got to meet my literary hero, Mary Gaitskill!!!! But first some basic info: Disquiet International Literary Program is a two-week program in the city of Pessoa, author of The Book of Disquiet. Here’s me holding hands with Pessoa — It all kicked off on a Sunday with a reception at the official residence of the U.S. Embassy — with drinks and appetizers! Then we got into a rhythm. In the mornings, participants went to writing workshops. Each person had two different workshops! A “core” genre workshop met on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays — I was in one of the fiction ones with Noy Holland. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays were […]

Come celebrate Cake Time in April: LA, Oakland, Portland, Seattle

Come celebrate Cake Time in April: LA, Oakland, Portland, Seattle

Friends — My debut novel-in-stories, Cake Time, is almost here! April 6, 2017, is the official publication date — and I hope you’ll celebrate with me at one or many of the cakey events next month, the biggest of which is the Los Angeles launch event: Siel Ju reads from her novel-in-stories CAKE TIME with special guests Janice Lee, Victoria Patterson, and Jim Ruland Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles FREE! (Facebook event page) It’ll be really cake time because there’ll be cupcakes, and wine, and other fantastic writers who’ll be reading short pieces about Los Angeles. Please come — whether you plan to get Cake Time from Skylight Books or have already preordered it elsewhere or plan to borrow it from the library or win it on Goodreads — and say hello and eat sweet things. I really, really hope to see you there! I’m also coming to Oakland / San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle — All events are FREE; most will have cake! Oakland / San Francisco Siel Ju reads from CAKE TIME with fellow Red Hen Press authors Andrew Lam and Brynn Saito Friday, April 7, 2017 at […]