Colin Falconer, Family, Heidi Durrow, Liebster Award, Melinda Palacio, Michele Serros, Pat Fry, Women's Literary Festival, Writing

Writing to Feel Better


Heidi Durrow-Author

Boy did I have a great weekend. It started with  four ‘nominations’ of the Liebster Blog Award. That’s an interesting award, and I’ll explain that soon.


Next was the Santa Barbara Women’s Literary Festival where I was enthralled with the stories told by amazing writers. I was also lucky enough to take some photos with authors Melinda Palacio, Michele Serros, and Heidi Durrow. All of them were so sweet and I found them to be most engaging. Same as their fascinating stories. Of course, I came home with a bagful of books. And I won the beautiful centerpiece: a large terracotta pot filled with fragrant herbs and viola flowers.


Later I visited with my sister who took an unexpected trip into town, spent two nights dancing to a great band and gazed at the gorgeous supermoon on a warm coastal night. The one below is over our pier in Ventura, CA.

FjB63 Studio

I’m so glad for the amazing weekend because today I feel kind of lousy. Two of my three kids caught a stomach flu with resulting headaches, temps, and a bad case of the ‘ralphs.’ (throwing up). Ugh, I know you probably did not want to hear that last item, TMI for sure. 


I explain this because I didn’t want to do revisions on my WIP today nor blog but proceeded to read the blogs I follow instead. I’m glad I did because I came across Colin Falconer’s post. He tells a lovely story about his mother and the history of memories. After attending to the kids, making chicken soup, and cleaning up, I fell asleep. Then I got up and read more posts. Which led me to Patricia Fry’s blog on writing. 

Her question: What motivates you to write? 


It made me think. Although I still feel rumblies in my tumblie, I’ll feel worse (emotionally) if I don’t write something today. So now that the nap refreshed me and the aspirin kicked in,  I think I’ll jot my thoughts down. 

If I’m rambling, please understand. 

Now back to the Liebster Blog award, which makes me feel even better. 



The word “liebster” allegedly means dearest in German. I don’t know about that, but its a sweet idea. The writers/poets who nominated this blog were:

Michelle Pond, at MAPoet who was so kind as to say I tell amazing stories. She’s just published a book “I Keep You With Me-Looking at Grief with Verse.” 

Sarah over at Sarah Writes has a funny story on Beta readers that I completely agree with and took to heart.

I love Jennifer Chow’s description on her profile: “Like a fortune cookie, I’m twisted into dual selves, my Asian-American nature. This blog serves my words and my culture in a written delicacy.”  Captivating.

And lastly, the tagline on Bonnie’s blog, Just Ventures Coaching, is a twist on one of my favorite quotes from Ghandi: “Be the change you want to see.” Her unique twist is ” It’s Time to be The Change.” Here, here. 

Now, the awardee (me) is supposed to nominate 5 bloggers for every nomination. That would be 20 bloggers. Remember I said I’m not feeling too well? So you will forgive me if I nominate one writer-(pretty please)

Nomination goes to:

 Anne because she made me laugh so hard when I read about the Jersey Oompa-Loompa Mom. I’m sure she’ll have you ROFL-ing. 

(it’s not the ralph mentioned previously , but rolling on the floor laughing). 

Enjoy their blogs!

How to be a Chicana Role Model, Imagen Award Nominee, Lucy Rodriguez-Hanley, Michele Serros, The Big Deal, Theatrical Short Fim

The Big Deal by Lucy Rodriguez-Hanley, Imagen Award Nominee

Michele Serros fans mark your calendars. A short story from her book “How to Be a Chicana Role Model” debuts at the Ventura Film Festival, which runs from July 8-18th, 2011. Michele is a well-known author from Oxnard, CA. She is a writer, poet, and social commentator for National Public Radio and Fox Latino News. Her credits also include former writer for the George Lopez Show.


Filmmaker Lucy Rodriguez-Hanley adapted and directed “The Big Deal.” Its tagline “Find out what happens when Michele brings home her agnostic, vegan boyfriend to meet her Catholic, meat eating family,” is a unique twist to the “guess who’s coming to dinner” scenario.

When I first heard of the adaptation, I thought what a great idea. Michele Serros writes stories that sometimes read like sit coms and other times they are full of drama, much like the real family world. As a writer, she is satirical, witty, and realistic in her portrayal of characters. It is no wonder that her stories lend themselves well to television and the big screen.

And the person who recognized this talent was filmmaker and director Ms. Rodriguez-Hanley. The opportunity arose to talk to the filmmaker and I asked her why she chose this particular story to adapt. The first thing she said she noticed was that the humor in the story stemmed from pain. She could connect to that feeling and knew that others could also relate to it. There is an excerpt, on Wikipedia, that Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, stated he picked up a copy of “How to be a Chicana Role Model” as reading material for a trip and “By the time I got to the end of the book, I was crying like a hypersensitive wimp. I love crying like a hypersensitive wimp, so I looked (her up) on the Internet. We ended up becoming friends.”

“The Big Deal” takes place after the author’s mother dies and Ms. Rodriquez-Hanley wanted to capture that feeling of loss and emphasize the importance of mothers and maternal figures in our lives. In the film, Michele’s tia and tio will meet “the boyfriend.” In a humorous exchange between the relatives about the boyfriends name, looks, and eating habits, we feel the close relationship between Michele and her aunt, and learn the wishes of her deceased mother.

Ms. Rodriguez-Hanley’s objective, as a filmmaker, is to present stories that people can relate to and that make a difference, to the audience. She would like to have audiences leave the screening wanting to see more families like this on television and in movies. Her hope is that this film and others like it will broaden the spectrum of how Latinos are portrayed in the media.

The film premiered at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in Austin, Texas. After it shows at the Ventura Film Festival, it goes on to the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival July 17-25, 2011.

For a hometown girl to find her way as a well-regarded writer to the big screen is indeed a big deal
Congratulations and buena suerte,  Ms. Rodriguez-Hanley and Ms. Serros for bringing this story to the big screen.

Recently, I read that “The Big Deal” was nominated in the theatrical short film category, by Imagen Awards http://www.imagen.org. Congratulations to Lulu y Mucha Productions for their nomination.
© Material 2011. You can link to blog and share. 
Anne Lamott, Books, El Leonard, Encouragement, Lopopolo Literary, Michele Serros, Natalie Goldberg, Sandra Cisneros, Sol Stein, Stephen King, Wisdom, Writing, writing tips

Bargain hunting for the writer who’s just starting out

“Just write,” is not the only advice a writer needs. In the two years I’ve been writing I think I’ve spent many pretty pennies on writing books, a couple of one day conferences, and a boot camp for writers.

Before I purchase any books I do the ‘look inside,’ preview of writing books listed on Amazon.com and then I review customer reviews. If I can’t find the book I want at the public library or there is so much good stuff in the book that I’d take notes for days, then it becomes a purchase.(I read Writer’s Digest and Writer at the library for four months in a row before I sprung for a subscription to one of them). I found a couple of the books I wanted at Borders and used a 30% discount coupon (Stephen King/Sol Stein) or found them at a used book store (Anne Lamott) or check this out, I found Elmore Leonard’s ’10 rules’ at the 99 cents store. I borrowed Natalie Goldberg’s “Getting Down the Bones.”

One day conferences are generally cheaper than 3 day ones and my rule is I don’t spend more than $75, lunch included. Santa Barbara has an annual Women’s Literary Festival womensliteraryfestival.com and LA has quite a few similar type venues.I’ve been able to hear from author’s Lisa See, Reyna Grande, and Jennifer 8 Lee, among many others. Lucky for me I live within 45 minutes of LA and Santa Barbara so this expands my ability to attend book readings and presentations of other authors, usually free of charge. Two of my favorite writers, Sandra Cisneros, presented at UCSB and Michele Serros at a local community college.

Now for the expense, but remember it’s worth it. I enrolled in my first boot camp for writer’s in October of 2010. It is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a great smack in the butt if you want and need it. After that 3 day session I kicked my writing into gear and finished the manuscript I’d been working on for a year. Better than that I acquired a literary agent from the contacts I met at the camp. I have another boot camp next month, this time for ‘advanced writers.’ I’m taking my second partially completed MS to that one http://lopopololiterary.com/

Bottom line, it’s been worth it. I think of it as the tolls I pay on the road to becoming a better writer. I take as many free and low cost side highways as possible but I also shell out the bucks for classes that are recommended and I see as critical to moving my writing to the next step. Now if only all of these tolls were tax deductible.