Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Trailer for Mann of War

Mann of War is out!

I wish I could take credit for the trailer, but it's the work of David Falkinburg.

I cannot tell you how exciting this is for me. Check it out everyone!

Click here to go to Amazon!!

Mann of War

Director: David Falkinburg

Actors: David Falkinburg
Hanna Phipps
Charlotte San Juan
Elder Zamora
Ann Brantingham
and introducing
John Brantingham

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


It's been a lot of fun putting this festival together. What's been the best part?

I'm an avowed extrovert. I've admitted to that on these pages. So the best part for me is working with all these fine people. I like a certain kind of people -- people who dedicate themselves to something bigger than themselves, people who spend their days on kindness.

So many people have done just that.

So this Saturday, what did we all do?

About ten of us sat down and started working on our Indiegogo campaign. It's been running for a while, but we're trying to reach people who we have never reached before, people in the community who are not aware of us, who would like to be a part of our mission to bring poetry and writing and art to the San Gabriel Valley.

No, let me rephrase that. It already exists here. We want to acknowledge what's already here and give our poets and writers a place to speak. They have a voice. We want to give them ears to hear what they say. Anyway, do you want to see some of my favorite people in the world? Watch the video below.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day Five -- Bone Marrow Donation

So the point of these post has been that bone marrow donation is absolutely NO BIG DEAL because so many people are afraid to do it and trust me, it has been no big deal. Today is the big day that's the most dramatic etc, etc, etc, but still this is nothing. Basically this is as dramatic as a blood transfusion. So many people refuse to do this because they have heard horror stories, but these stories are out of a past that doesn't exist any more. It's like saying you don't want to go to the dentist because you can't stand ether. Well, dentists don't use that any more and bone marrow donation really is just a minor inconvenience.

You can sign up at most blood drives or go here:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day Four -- Bone Marrow Donation

Truly, seriously, all people should sign up for bone marrow donation.

There was only a little pain last night and I have a little nausea this morning. None of this so far has been a big deal, and it was nice to meet Shelly, my home care nurse. I don't even have to go out to the hospital.

Tomorrow, I'll give a Vlog update!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Day 3 -- Bone Marrow Donation

I was woken up last night by shooting pains through my shoulder bones, but I took some Tylenol and fell right back to sleep.  I have a little bit of dizziness, but it's not a big deal.  The worst part so far has been the socially awkward moment when I got an injection under my belly skin.  Unfortunately, I'm so ripped that it was hard to find any loose skin there.  I'm like Lou Ferrigno in the '70s--hard of hearing and exploding with muscles.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Day Two -- Bone Marrow Donation

They sent a nurse to my home today for two minor injections. Shelly was great and we chatted about her kids Not a big deal at all. Hardly felt it even

The symptoms on day 2? I'm a little dizzy and my head hurts a little. Not bad. Not bad enough to take a day of work.

Seriously, so far there is no reason anyone should avoid doing this. It's not a big deal and you potentially save someone's life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bone Marrow Donation


I'm donating bone marrow this week, and I know a lot of people are afraid to do that, so I thought I'd chronicle what I'm going through to help give perspective.

It's a five day process and today was day one.

I've been injected with a drug that's meant to increase my white blood cells. At the same time, I'm supposed to feel a little sick.

Nothing so far and the injections did not hurt. I feel great and my wife is doting on me. I might play that up a bit, pretend I feel worse than I do. Let's hope she doesn't read this!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Can I Ever Thank Everyone?

Starting off this blog post, I’m already nervous. I know that I’m going to offend someone, and I truly don’t mean to do so because this is a post about gratitude.

As you know, I’m changing up my personal blog for the month since I’m working night and day on the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, but I’m not the only person who is working long hours. Each and every person I’ve listed here has volunteered time to help us. They have all been patient and kind, and every single person is dedicated to the vision that the San Gabriel Valley can and should have more literary opportunities.

I’m going to start with the wonderful people at West Covina. Lyndel Morgan, for example has been nothing but wonderfully efficient. She has facilitated so much for us, done so much to make sure that the West Covina City Hall is open to all of our readers and audience members for the entire weekend. Without her help, we could not possibly have had this at West Covina.

Thank you Lyndel.

Scott Smilowitz has also been so helpful and has helped to make this work. The two of them together make an extraordinary team.

Wen Wen Zhang is the head librarian at the West Covina Library and has hosted readings and workshops for us. She will be opening her doors for the entire weekend, and allowing all of our audience members access to my favorite library, the one that I grew up in.

Thank you Wen Wen and Scott.

And of course, there are so many volunteers. We have had nearly 100 people volunteer in one way or another. Too many to possibly mention here. I’m afraid that if I try to mention all of them, I’ll miss many of them, so let me just list some. Nicola San Juan organizes so much of what we do. She coordinates and facilitates. At fundraisers, she brings everything we need. She finds donors and partners. She’s amazing. Michaelsun Knapp has organized and judged our fundraising contests. Clifford Ashpaugh has brought in investors and is selling booth space. And there is David Falkinburg. If you see any video, it’s his. If you see graphics, they are either his or Daniel Cuesta’s.

Thank you Michaelsun, Daniel, David, Cliff, and Nicola.

And there is the group. We sat together one smoggy afternoon two years ago and thought this festival up. We’ve been working constantly since then. I’m gregarious and I often get too much credit because I have no shame or shyness so people see me a lot. But there’s Scott Creley who has organized, dreamed, thought up, developed, designed, and done all of the computer work. Scott is a genius and deserves so much credit.

But so does Elder Zamora, who runs much of our financial program. If you think that’s easy, then you’ve never done taxes. Imagine doing your taxes every day for two years. That’s Elder. In addition, he’s given ideas, organized, and been brilliant.

And there is Ann, my wife, who is the organizing force in anything that I do. It’s easy to do great things when someone else is taking care of all of the detail. Ann is a genius. I’ve never been more impressed with anyone, and so much of the work is done by her.

Thank you Scott, Ann, and Elder

And here is why I am afraid. I know that I’ve left someone out. If you’ve noticed a glaring hole, private message me so I can fix it.

And I can hear you saying that you want to help too.

You can.

If you want to donate money, and we need a little more money, please go to our campaign to donate.

However, almost more importantly, make sure that everyone else in the world knows about our campaign and the festival. Advertise on your Facebooks and Twitter accounts. Mention it to your friends.

The San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival is a movement to take the arrogance out of art and bring everyone in. We want you to be a part of this as much as we are.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Art of Creating Community

For the next month or so, the focus of this blog is going to change, and here's why:

I’ve been teaching creative writing and English composition at the university and community college level for 14 years now, and the most surprising truth I’ve come across is how incredibly important a community of writers is to the individual writer.

It has something to do with our self-doubts. It has something to do with revision. It also has something to do becoming better writers.

I’ve known a lot of people who have called themselves writers, but when I ask them what they’re writing they’ve told me they’re not working on anything. Then they say they haven’t worked on anything for a while, and they’re not planning on anything.

This is human enough and an easy pattern to fall into.

Without a group of people to discuss ideas and stories with, it’s easy to forget that the work that matters most, and that we love the most is the work we should be focusing on.

The students I’ve seen who have gained the most, were the most successful, and did the best work made sure that they have had this support.

For example, I watched Marta Chausee in her various writing groups, my class being one of them, developing her novel and her skills until she ended up with a book contract. I watched Michael Torres, Michaelsun Knapp, and Jeffrey Graessley work themselves into different types of successes, earning awards, getting publications and book contracts, and becoming truly great writers.

So here’s my idea. The bigger the community, the more success and good writing there will be.

But there are caveats.

The first is that the community needs to be supportive. There are too many people out there who want to make themselves appear more sophisticated by putting other people down. We don’t need those people. They should form their own society of negativity and leave the rest of us alone.

The second is that there can be no sense of hierarchy in the group. This is another way of being unsupportive.

My idea is that a good community makes good writers and good readers, and a lot of people agree with me. We’ve gotten together to create something special.

Eventually, what we want to create is a community center based around the arts. This will be a place where everyone in the area can come to develop their skills and share their work in a completely egalitarian environment.

That’s going to take a while.

Right now, we’re creating the San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, and you’re all invited. Everyone’s invited. We’re creating a community and the more people here the better.

There will be opportunities for people to work with each other, and open mics for people to read their work. There will be features like Suzanne Lummis, Gerald Locklin, and so many more. There will be booths with experts and book stores and publishers. There will be moments for you to learn and to teach and connect.

Quite frankly, I can’t wait for the festival to start. I can’t wait to begin our giant community of writers. Those who join in will be changed. A lot of people have already joined in and have already been changed.

It’s going to happen from February 15-17 at West Covina’s City Hall and Library complex.

Let me know what questions you have and if you’d like to join in. Let me know how you’d like to join in. There’s room for everyone here, and I’d like you all to join!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Should Small Press Writers Hire Publicists

After having talked to a number of friends including, Sunny Frazier, I decided not to go with a publicist, but the writer Jo Scott-Coe did. Jo is a creative non-fiction writer whose Teacher at Point Blank is an extraordinary discussion of life as a teacher in a middle-class high school.

One point that we never discussed was that what she did without the publicist was as useful and helpful than what she did with a publicist.

Anyway, thank you Jo! Thank you for your insights and your books.