Jossalyn Emslie nominated Betty Cole of Westridge School

Ms. Betty Cole has taught generations of students at Westridge School over a career that spans 35 years at the same location, so that she has taught the children of former students.

Ms. Cole has taught students from grade 7 through 12, though she has been primarily an upper high school teacher. Her primary courses have been AP European History, AP Art History, and Ethics; but over the years she has also taught U.S. History and AP U.S. History, Cultural Studies, Revolutions & Dictatorships, and China & Japan. Ms. Cole has developed and then taught courses in Public Policy & Participation, Global Issues, Third World Issues, and Comparative Religions.

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Cole developed the school’s Community Service Curriculum, following her commitment to fostering a connection between the school and the community year round, so that it became normative for students at all ages and grade levels to have long-term service interactions with their community. Year after year, she organized the Pasadena-area CROP Hunger Walk, Ox-fam Hunger Banquet, Earth Festival and Earthworks Projects for all grade levels, Alternative Holiday Marketplace, and the EPIC environmental club. She helped to develop the curriculum for the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFS) Peace Studies Program.

Ms. Cole also turned her passion for nonviolent conflict resolution, peace education, and global issues toward the school faculty, and led the Westridge Federation of Teachers as President through decades of campus changes.  She is a published author and conference speaker on topics related to peace studies and inter-religious dialogue.

Betty Cole has molded and influenced, and is beloved by, generations of students at Westridge. The keynote speech from the Westridge Ranney Award Winner for Distinguished Alumna of the Year (a member of the class of 1983) specifically mentioned Ms. Cole in the following way:

“I remember the day, in Betty Cole’s class, when we were challenged to imagine ourselves having a very different formative experience by playing a game in which education and opportunities were assigned in a game of random chance. My friends were disturbed, even angry at the unfairness of having their imaginary futures limited by happenstance without the chance to overcome by hard work and merit. It was Betty Cole who taught me so much.”

Personally, I remember studying with Ms. Cole in 2 challenging Honors classes as a high school senior, where we had tough topics and tough discussions; and she taught my daughters, 29 and 33, years later to challenge themselves in the same way to tackle tough concepts in several courses. I loved her passion, her thorough knowledge base, and her unwillingness to make issues “nice” or “easy” when they were hard, teaching her students to have confidence that they could tackle “hard” while also teaching and modeling intellectual fairness and compassion.

Leading up to our celebration of our 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year Reception on May 30th we will be posting some of the nominations we received. Keep checking back to read about these amazing teachers!

Theodore nominated Michael Naka of Richard Garvey Intermediate

My science teacher, Mr. Naka, has truly enhanced my educational experience at Richard Garvey Intermediate. For changing my perspectives on the world of science as well as for always believing in and understanding me in such a unique way, he is one of the best teachers that I have ever had.

As my teacher, Mr. Naka has changed the way I look at a science classroom. In it, we are building egg drop capsules and plastic bottle cars powered only by air acceleration of a ball; we gather such data straight from our experiments on a regular basis. Experiments and projects are quizzes, tests, and worksheets. They are how we learn. And every topic that we take notes on has an experiment that goes with it. Because of this, we are constantly using key concepts (like calculating density and acceleration) from our notes and applying them in fun, engaging experiments. It is the first time that I have ever engaged in project-based learning in a science class, and it perfectly balances abstract ideas, worldly applications, and a strong element of fun into an amazing
classroom experience.

As a mentor, Mr. Naka has changed the way I look at myself as an important component in a team engine and in my own abilities as well. He has believed in me since the first day I stepped into his classroom, and later on, has guided me through many months of preparation for an event known as the Science Olympiad. He also identifies my strengths and limitations as a scientist. And once the Science Olympiad was over, he asked if I could participate in another event, Science Field Days. If he had not asked for me to participate in either event, I don’t believe I would have ever had the pleasure to participate in them. Without these opportunities, my scientific horizons would have been significantly narrower, and I would have much less enjoyed my experience in eighth grade science. I am proud to have participated in such exciting scientific events. Curiously enough, we also share some unique similarities. For example, he has a degree in geology and also enjoys gardening. I, myself am an avid collector of rocks and minerals and enjoy tending plants as well.

To conclude, I have chosen Mr. Naka as the Teacher of the Year for many reasons. Some of the reasons are as follows: Never have I had a teacher be so much like me, nor understand me in quite the same way that he does, nor support or teach me like he does. He will always by my mentor and my teacher, both of his roles being equally important to my success as a scientist.

Get Your Game On!

by Jessica on May 8, 2017

Summer will be here before we know it (let’s face it…it already kind of is). In between spending time a the beach and fun summer activities you may want to settle in on a hot night, crank the A/C and have a game night! There are plenty of games to choose from with a variety of different styles depending on what kind of game you like. Did you know there’s actually a whole slew of literary games out there? Not only are these really fun but maybe you might learn something too. This is a selection of some of the literary style games we carry here at Vroman’s! Next time you’re around come check out our games and puzzles section which is upstairs next to the Children’s Department!

Perfect for 3-6 players. Ages 8+

Dixit is a great game that is perfect for adults, kids, friends, family and anyone that loves a good story! The point of this card game is to create a story from your chosen card. One player chooses a card from their hand and starts off with a word, a phrase or a sentence that is represented by the picture. The other players then play a card that best represents what was said. The cards are revealed and every player votes for the best picture. You gain points for correct guesses, cleverness and good stories. The cards all have beautiful artwork on them and the possibilities are endless with each player having a different story to tell!

Bards Dispense Profanity
Adult Players Only
Leave this one for the adults! Think of this as a Shakespearean version of Cards Against Humanity. You can keep it clean or you can choose the profanity route. Either way you are guaranteed a good time! There are 100 mock-serious questions for our time and 375 answers copies word-for-word from the works of William Shakespeare. Each answer card cites the play, act, and scene (in case your friends don’t believe these actually came from Shakespeare!)

Perfect for Ages 8+

Make bad puns like it’s your job and you’ll be the winner of this hilarious card game! Punderdome, the card game, was inspired by the original live game show The Punderdome, a cult favorite in Brooklyn. One part game, one part conversation starter, you don’t need to be a pun master to master Punderdome!

Bring Your Own Book 
Perfect for ages 12+
This rousing party game is great for a good laugh! Remember your old favorite book? It’s been turned into your favorite new game! For this game you’ll draw a category card, grab a book, and then quickly skim to satisfy the chosen prompt. Draw a category card, grab a book, and then quickly skim to satisfy the chosen prompt (and the judge!) with the most entertaining phrase. Can you find “a ridiculous tabloid headline” in that best-selling novel? How about “dating advice” in your well-worn cookbook? Since you can use any book, you can play with any group and find limitless potential on every page! 


Perfect for ages 12+

Quicktionary is a fast-paced but laid back for anyone who loves to think on their feet! It’s a free-for-all game that’s won by thinking fast and being the first person to shout out a word or phrase that meets the criteria on three cards!


A few Just for the Kids: 

Super Genius
For Ages 7+

These matching games focus on building different skills from addition and multiplication to reading, teaching beginners the early fundamentals of different subjects, while building skills for more advanced students. Developed hand-in-hand with learning professionals, this Super Genius game was specifically created with early learners in mind. So have some fun with your kids while learning new things!

Story Cubes
All Ages
Story Cubes are pocket-sized story generators that can be taken anywhere (think about your upcoming summer trips – these would be great for a long car or plane trip!). With Story Cubes anyone can become a great storyteller and there are no wrong answers. All you have to do is roll the cubes and let the pictures get your imagination going. These cubes are able to be played with a solo set or combining a few different sets to really take it to the next story level.

This is just a small sampling of the games and puzzles we have here at the store.
What are some of your favorite games to play?

The Day Dystopia Morphed Into Psychedelia!

by Jessica on May 3, 2017

Written By Allene Symons

The Day Dystopia Morphed Into Psychedelia

Buzz about dystopia – the opposite of utopia – is in the air and trending online. Trending is all about being timely, like this morning’s headlines. Or, when old becomes new, like resurging reader interest in what happens when dreams of the good life become a collective nightmare as seen in George Orwell’s novel 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Moreover, this week marks the anniversary of a life-changing incident when Aldous Huxley’s notion of a dystopian society began changing into a more hopeful and idealistic vision.

The morning when this pivot came about was May 6, 1953. The author, always eager for inward adventures, waited expectantly as he sat in the music room of his Spanish-style home in West Hollywood. Huxley was already famous for Brave New World. As yet he had no inkling that he would write a bestseller called The Doors of Perception and become the literary godfather of psychedelics. It was a word that didn’t exist yet, but one he’d later help coin.

Reportedly the sequence of events went like this: Huxley’s houseguest that week, the Canadian psychiatrist Humphry Osmond, poured a prudent dose of mescaline crystals into a glass of water. The crystals were a synthetic or derivative of the peyote cactus found in Mexico and used since ancient times in shamanic ceremonies. Dr. Osmond handed the glass to Huxley, who downed the mescaline-infused liquid. Within a few minutes what he swallowed gave rise to visionary effects, ranging from swirling distractions to stretches of time when common objects conveyed profound meaning, and later on to a seeming loss of self within a larger whole.

So how did this drug-induced experience – extremely rare in that era — lead to publication of the first popular book about psychedelics? It turns out the original draft of The Doors of Perception was a personal report he wrote up for Dr. Osmond. Afterward, Huxley tweaked and expanded the report and sent it to his publisher, Harper & Brothers, where he was on contract. His editor, Cass Canfield, thought an account of Huxley’s extreme adventure of the mind would make an interesting (and better yet controversial) topic for the publisher’s spring list. They agreed on a plan. It became a slim book of 78 printed pages and marked a milestone in psychedelic history (I talk about this in my book Aldous Huxley’s Hands: His Quest for Perception and the Origin and Return of Psychedelic Science).

But wait… isn’t there mention of a fictional drug called soma in Huxley’s celebrated work Brave New World? Yep, in the novel he portrays the psychoactive effects of soma in a negative light, dismissing it as a trivial escape from society’s dystopian ills, a drug that subverts soul searching and dampens any incentive toward seeking social change.

Then two decades after publication of BNW, along came Huxley’s real-life adventure in May of 1953 when he experienced a substance radically unlike the one he had imagined. This episode blew his mind. He correlated his own experience with the testimony handed down by mystics across the centuries. He caught a glimpse behind the creative veil of great artists. He gained insights into patterns from his past. He knew first-hand, if only temporarily, the panic of a schizophrenic episode (and for this reason in his future writing about psychedelics he would advocate caution).

Today, the legacy of The Doors of Perception and the research it inspired lives on. After a three-decade ban, investigation into psychedelic-assisted therapy is once again underway at venerable institutions such as UCLA, Johns Hopkins, NYU, and Columbia University. This coordinated research looks at potential benefits ranging from PTSD treatment to reduction of anxiety for the terminally ill. Maybe if these studies bear fruit, as some expect and many more hope, we might look back on Aldous Huxley’s adventure in May of 1953 as the day dystopia morphed into psychedelia. It also spurred him on to write what would become Huxley’s last book — his utopian novel, Island.

Allene Symons is the author of three books and a veteran journalist whose work has appeared in consumer and trade magazines. She served as a senior editor for Publishers Weekly in New York, and wrote articles for Details, the Los Angeles Times (book reviews and travel), and other publications. She also created the travel lit review column “Great Reads for the Restless” for


Well, another successful Indie Bookstore Day has come and gone. The energy in the store is always so incredible on days like this and we certainly felt it on Saturday! The day started at 9am when our doors opened and customers were able to check out at all the really cool exclusive items that were only available that day. On top of that we were packed with special events all day. Thanks to everyone that came out to support us on Indie Bookstore Day but who also support indies everywhere everyday! We appreciate you! Here’s a few snapshots from the day and the fun we had.

A glance at the exclusive items we had on sale for the day!
(Some of these may still be available. Give us a call at 626-449-5320 to check availability.)

Jenny Lawson created this print and then signed them so they were extra special! 

A special Welcome to Nightvale record! 

A literary cocktail book featuring some pretty great authors including
Anthony Marra, James Patterson and Emma Straub! 

A shot of the whole table of exclusive items! There were also some fabulous tea towels and an exclusive white cover version of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology! 

After our regular storytime we welcomed a very special Indie Bookstore Day guest,
Kathryn Otoshi to talk about her picture books!

The kids loved hearing Kathryn’s stories and
watching the videos she brought with! 

We helped the always great Liza Palmer launch for 7th book,
the F Word, to end our day! 

Liza Palmer has the crowd in tears with laughter
as she reads passages from the F Word. 

Eager fans await their moment with Liza!

Liza signs for her fans. 

Let us know how you spent Indie Bookstore Day and what exclusive items you got!
Until next year…






So What Is This Indie Bookstore Day All About?

by Jessica on April 28, 2017

If you didn’t know April 29th is Indie Bookstore Day and we cannot wait to celebrate with indies everywhere.

Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April.  Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different. But in addition to authors, live music, cupcakes, scavenger hunts, kids events, art tables, readings, barbecues, contests, and other fun stuff, there are exclusive books and literary items that you can only get on that day. Not before. Not after. Not online.

So what’s going on that day? We’re glad you asked!

What’s Happening at Vroman’s Main Store: 
695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91101 

10:30am – Special Storytime Guest Kathryn Otoshi!

In celebration of Indie Bookstore Day, author and illustrator Kathryn Otoshi is our special storytime guest!

Kathryn Otoshi is a multi-award winning author/illustrator and national/international speaker best known for her character-building book series, “Zero”, “One”, and “Two”. She goes to schools across the country to encourage kids to develop strong character assets, and helps teachers find customized, creative methods to engage and connect with their students through art, reading and the power of literature. Her latest book, “Beautiful Hands”, co-authored with Bret Baumgarten, is a call-to-action book reminding kids to use their hands to do something positive and inspirational for each other and our communities. Her upcoming book, “Draw the Line”, about boundaries and conflict-resolution, will be coming out in 2017.


12:00pm –Literary Trivia!
Grab some friends, form a team and head over for an afternoon
of Literary Trivia!  Snacks and prizes, too! 


3:00pm  – Liza Palmer launches her new book The FWord!
Fresh, frank, and fearless. Liza Palmer is a road warrior of contemporary fiction.
–Georgia Clark, author of The Regulars

Olivia Morten is perfect. Maybe she’s constantly hungry, but her body is to die for. Maybe her high-flying publicist job has taken over her life, but her clients are L.A.’s hottest celebrities. Maybe her husband is never around, but he is a drop-dead-gorgeous doctor. And maybe her past harbors an incredibly embarrassing secret, but no one remembers high school…right?  When Ben Dunn, Olivia’s high school arch nemesis and onetime crush, suddenly resurfaces, all of her hard-won perfection begins to unravel. As she finds herself dredging up long-suppressed memories, she is forced to confront the most painful truth of all: sometimes who we become isn’t who we really are. (Flatiron Books)

What’s Happening at Hastings Ranch:
3729 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, 91107

10:00am – 2:00pm:
Head to Hastings Ranch for a Bookstore Scavenger Hunt!
Visit the store anytime between 10am and 2pm, follow a series of clues around the bookstore, collect a special token and turn it in at our Book Information desk to win a prize! Prizes will be drawn randomly and can include gift cards, treats, and other fun items.

What’s Happening at Book Soup:
8818 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, 90069

Book Soup celebrates Indie Bookstore Day with Kelly Osbourne
discussing and signing her new book,
There Is No F***ing Secret: Letters from a Badass Bitch

Told as a series of letters to various people and places in her life, There Is No F*cking Secret gives readers an intimate look at the stories and influences that have shaped Osbourne’s highly speculated-about life, for better or for worse. The stories will make readers’ jaws drop, but ultimately, they will come away empowered to forge their own path to confidence, no matter how deranged and out of control it may be, and to learn the ultimate lesson: that there just is no f*cking secret. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)


Only books purchased at Book Soup will be signed.  Your Book Soup receipt for There Is No F***ing Secret…is your ticket in line. Save your Book Soup receipt; it will be checked when you enter the signing line. The signing line will form outside of the front entrance. Due to the size of the store, only the first 60 people would be brought in for the talk.  The remainder of the line will be brought for the signing.

So what items are going to exclusive that day? Check it out!

Exclusive IDB Items:
*Quantities on these items are limited. There will be no holds or online orders.
You must come to the store on April 29 to purchase merchandise*

$6 Story: The Sandmeyer Reaction
by Michael Chabon
The second edition in the on-going $6 Stories series is a short story that was cut from Michael Chabon’s newest novel, Moonglow. It’s a hilarious side-story of the half-baked plan to catch a German spy via the well-connected Jews of Philadelphia’s underbelly in the 1940s. In typical Chabon style, it’s fast and funny, and bursting with a cast of perfectly rendered outcasts and oddballs.


Welcome to Night Vale – Vinyl Record
A vinyl edition of the bestselling Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Based on the tremendously popular podcast of the same name. This edition features highlights from the audiobook and exclusive commentary from Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor, and Cecil Baldwin. Beautifully packaged with “flypaper” sleeve, the purple vinyl also includes a full-length digital download of the Welcome to Night Vale audiobook performed by Cecil Baldwin, Dylan Marron, Retta, Thérèse Plummer, and Dan Bittner.


Lost & Found
An original print by Jenny Lawson
This original, black and white drawing by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, is inspired by her forthcoming activity book You Are Here. The pro-books, pro-reading design is printed on archival, gallery quality paper and can be framed and hung as is or used as a large-format coloring poster. It is not included in the book and will become a must-have for her legions of fans.


An Author’s Best Friend
Canine Canvas Pouch
This handy 100% cotton canvas zippered pouch (perfect for pencils, make up, cash, and other sundries) features portraits of real author dogs like Sparky Patchett and Jennie Sendak.
All hand drawn especially for IBD.


Literary Tea Towels
This year’s flour sack tea towels feature two food-related literary quotes:




The bold, graphic design is by Evan Robertson of Obvious State.


A Literary Cocktail Party
Favorite Drinks from our Favorite Writers
Welcome to the country’s best literary cocktail party. This fun and useful book contains funny anecdotes and witty stories along with cocktail recipes from some of our favorite writers. Learn to make an Old Fashioned with Daniel Handler; discover Julia Glass’s namesake cocktail, the Julia’s Glass; or just sit back and enjoy the simple pleasure of champagne bubbles with Emma Straub.


                                     Elephant & Piggie
“Read” Onesie
This soft cotton onesie featuring Mo Willems’ wonderful Elephant and Piggie and an encouragement to READ makes the perfect baby gift for bibliophiles.


Child of Books Limited
fine art print by Oliver Jeffers
Behold a piece of picture book magic. From the acclaimed New York Times bestseller and #1 Indie Next title A Child of Books, Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston offer an exclusive signed fine art print for book lovers of all ages. This lyrical picture book showcasing Jeffers’s elegant images combined with Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics inspires readers to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine. All 1000 giclée prints are signed and suitable for framing.

See ya’ll on Saturday April 29th!!

Democracy Wise 2.0!

by Jessica on April 26, 2017

In March, we began a brand new speaker series we call Democracy Wise. We had three events over the course of the month that covered topics including How to Run for Office, Democracy 101 and Effecting Change in Government. Our speakers included members of the League of Women Voters and a representative from emergeCA. These events were so well attended we couldn’t stop the momentum there! We have just put together our bill for Democracy Wise 2.0. More information will be available as the month goes on but for now check out what we have coming up!

Wednesday, May 24, 7pm
Navigating Media

Is the continued talk of fake news leading you to wonder what news sources you can trust? Do you wonder how best to research and/or discern what’s real from what’s not? What role does the media play in today’s political landscape? What is the media’s role and responsibility in a democracy?

USC Professor Tom Hollinan (Professor of Communication at the USC Annenberg School) and Carmen Rios and Lauren Young from Ms. Magazine will be on hand to discuss and answer questions.

Wednesday, May 31, 7pm
Civil Liberties

Civil Liberty: the state of being subject only to laws established for the good of the community, especially with regard to freedom of action and speech. Do you know what your civil liberties are? What a police officer or other government official can ask and not ask of you? What individual rights are protected by law from governmental or other interference?

Vice President of the ACLU of Southern California Pasadena Foothills Chapter, Tamara Haywood,  Former Chapter President and Police Practices Committee Chair, Kris Ockershauser and others TBA, will be on hand to speak on civil liberties and answer your questions.

If you plan on attending these events, please let us know at
Send us your name, number of guest(s) and note the title of the event(s) you will be attending.

If you would like to submit a question for our speakers ahead of time please email your question to with the session title in the subject line. Our speakers will do their best to address the questions during their talks; however, depending on the amount of questions
received they may not be able to get to them all.

If you have ideas for future topics for our Democracy Wise series please email

Festival of Books Recap (with Photos)!

by Jessica on April 24, 2017

We did it! We’re a little sore, a little sunburned and totally exhausted! But we had a wonderful weekend as usual. While we’re recovering and getting our H2O levels back to normal we thought we would have a little show and tell of some photos we collected over the weekend.

How was the festival for you? What authors were you able to see?
What books were you able to grab?
Let us know in the comments.
We’d love to hear from you!

Main Booth:

Our Main Booth (#117) was never NOT crowded.
A constant stream of friendly folk passed through the book. 
And we constantly greeted them with a smile. 

Deckin’ the Walls of the booth with a whole heap of literary tees! 

Nothing but smiles and thumbs up from the folks in our
Special Seller tent right outside of the L.A. Times Stage! 

Children’s Annex: 

Our Children’s Annex was a booth to be reckoned with. Of course they had a killer book and gift selection but they also had a slew of authors stop by and want to sign their books for lucky festival goers. PLUS they had a delightful crew of Vroman’s staff to make sure everyone walked away happy. 


The wonderful crew:
Serena, Jen, Adrien & Ashlee! 

Bird & Squirrel author, James Burks stopped in to sign!

The lovely Carter Higgins dropped in to
sign copies of A Rambler Steals Home!

Yes, that IS Jennifer Brody!
She signed copies of the 13th Continuum for us.

Special visit from Cale Atkinson to
sign a few copies off Night Night, Groot

 Author of Armstrong and Charlie,
Stephen B. Frank said hello to us too. 

If you didn’t stop by the Book Soup you missed out on an incredible booth!
Shout out to Book Soup’s graphic designer, Rob Bieselin who really outdid himself…again.
Check out their Instagram to see more!

Thank you to everyone that stopped in the booth to peruse our wares,
strike up conversations and show us some love.
To all the authors that came by just to say “Hi”.
And to the Festival for putting on another great weekend. Until next year…! 

On Saturday, April 29th, Vroman’s and indie bookstores all over the country will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day! Indie Bookstore Day is like Record Store Day. Indies celebrate who they are to their communities with parties, exclusive items that are only available that day, guest author appearances and more.

To help us celebrate this year we will have a special launch party with author Liza Palmer! She’ll be presenting her newest book, the F Word. Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl and six other novels. An Emmy-nominated writer, she lives in Los Angeles and works for BuzzFeed. In anticpation for her event next week, we asked her a few questions about Pasadena, writing and why indies are so important. Enjoy!

We are so excited to have you as our guest to launch your new book, the F Word and help up celebrate Indie Bookstore Day! Why are indie bookstores important and why is a having a special day like Indie Bookstore Day important?
For me, Indie bookstores are the center of their communities in this orchestra of ways.  It’s where I go to escape, to connect, to be informed, to dream, to feel like I belong and when I need a moment to myself. So, a day that celebrates Indie Bookstores feels like an opportunity for all of us who have received so much to give back to the places that have given us such unconditional sanctuary. 

You are a Pasadena native. What do you love most about this city? Do you have any favorite spots in town (restaurants, museums, parks etc.) that you frequent?
I love Pasadena so much. I love the people. I love the camphor trees that line the streets.  I love my wonderful public school education from Hamilton, Eliot and John Muir High School and playing in Tournament Park behind Cal Tech. I love the beautiful Craftsman houses and meandering around Huntington Gardens, hiking to the waterfall at Eaton Canyon and gazing at Degas’, Little Dancer at the Norton Simon. I loved running my fingers through the fountain in the middle of Ernie Jr’s that used to be in Old Town (#rip), the lemon bars from Happy Trails, JVC Vegetarian Green burritos from Burrito Express, the cornbread at Smitty’s, the cornflake muffins at Fox’s in Altadena, grabbing a pint at Lucky Baldwin’s and grabbing a great Cobb Salad to go from Julienne’s.  

Vroman’s has been a big part of your writing journey. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Back when Linda Urban used to work at Vroman’s, she started these Saturday morning writing workshops that I went to with my aunt.  Linda would bring in all these amazing writers and they would talk about writing and writing with a full time job (with David Ebershoff) and on and on.  After too long away from writing, those workshops brought me back to life.  Got me dreaming again.  Hoping again.  Writing again.  I wrote my debut novel, Conversations with the Fat Girl, that summer. Without Vroman’s, I simply would not have started writing again.

The F Word is your seventh book. How has your writing process changed over the years and what are a few things you’ve learned along the way?
First and foremost, each book – and the writing of it – is annoyingly singular.  By the time I’ve found the rhythm of a book, feel solid in revising it and know my way around its landscape – I finish it.  And then… the blank page once again.  Start back at one.  And those characters, and those themes and that setting… are all new. Which is, of course, wonderful…. and horrifying.  Wonderfying. 

What I do know is that I can do it.  I can finish.  I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.  And sometimes, when I’m drowning in the middle, that knowledge is the life raft I’ll cling to during the darkest of days.  I can finish.  I have finished.  This is temporary.  Like Annie LaMott says, bird by bird. 

Is there anything specific you look towards for inspiration in writing or in life in general?
Books have a way of knowing what they’re about before I do – theme-wise, at least.  I don’t know how, but it’s always about halfway through where I’m like… oh… so, this is about THAT??? 

Of the more nuts and bolts – I’m always observing and listening.  Little snippets of dialogue, settings and making sure my life isn’t as curated as its been in the past.  An uncurated life begets far more inspiration.  

What do you have to have when you sit down to write? 
Cup of tea (David’s Tea loose leaf Earl Grey) and my music score playlist that is my life’s work.  It’s glorious.

Are you a Pantser or a Planner?
I wrote one book – Conversations with the Fat Girl – as a pantser. And then I promptly hit a wall when I tried to do it on my second book, Seeing Me Naked. It was… ugly.  So, ever since then I am now a Planner like no other Planner.  I realized that the more I planned, the fewer drafts there were.  Because it was in the planning that I found all the plot holes and brick walls that I usually would have hit while Pantsing it. Have you seen JK Rowling’s outline?  I use that.  It’s a godsend.

What is on your To Be Read pile right now?
So. Much. Right now, I am in the middle of reading all of Game of Thrones before the final season. I’m on Book 3.  I’m also reading Sapiens.  It’s amazing.  Next up, A Gentleman in Moscow. I can only think that far – there are so many.  It’s invigorating and terrifying.

Who needs Coachella Weekend Two when you can have Bookchella? Er…the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! For us, we prep for weeks to prepare our staff and outfit our booths with the best of the best. For you, make sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and don a pair  of great walking shoes.
It’s always a fun, family friendly weekend with free admission!

The details: 

This Saturday and Sunday – April 22 and 23 at USC Campus.
Saturday, April 22 Hours: 10am – 6pm
Sunday, April 23 Hours: 10am – 5pm

Booth Information:

Our Main Store Booth is #117.
This booth will have TONS of great books and LOTS of fun book related items
(t-shirts, bookmarks, pins, pens etc.)

Our Children’s Booth is # 128.
This booth is self-explanatory but it will be packed to the gills
with books and fun things for your little ones.

We are also a special seller for the Los Angeles Times Stage. We’ll be selling the following books for you to get signed by some truly great authors! This booth is located right outside the L.A. Times Stage. How this works is the author will speak for about 40 minutes on the L.A. Times Stage, then will move over to the signing area which is directly across from our selling booth, which you will pass on the way over. We’ll have all these books plus more for you to peruse! Take a look at this schedule for a quick reference. As always, we will be available to answer questions on the day of!


Saturday, April 22 Los Angeles Times Stage Schedule


Tippi Hedren signing Tippi: A Memoir.
Tippi will be on stage at 11:00am and will start signing at approximately 11:50am.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar signing Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White; Streetball Crew Book One: Sasquatch in the Paint.
Kareem will be on stage at 12:10pm and will start signing at approximately 1:00pm.


Bryan Cranston signing A Life in Parts.
Bryan will be on stage at 1:20pm and will start signing at approximately 2:10pm.


Hannah Hart signing Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded.
Hannah will be on stage at 2:30pm and will start signing at approximately 3:20pm.

Virginia Grohl signing From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars.
Virginia will be on stage at 3:40pm and will start signing at approximately 4:30pm.


Kelly Oxford signing When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments.
Kelly will be on stage at 4:50pm and will start signing at approximately 5:40pm.



Sunday, April 23 Los Angeles Times Stage Schedule


Clinton Kelly signing I Hate Everyone, Except You.
Clinton will be on stage at 11:00am and will start signing at approximately 11:50am.



Matthew Espinosa signing Matthew Espinosa: More Than Me.
Matthew will be on stage at 12:10pm and will start signing at approximately 1:00pm.


Stephen Tobolowsky signing My Adventures with God.
Stephen will be on stage at 1:20pm and will start signing at approximately 2:10pm.


Cheech Marin signing Cheech is Not My Real Name:…But Don’t Call Me Chong. Cheech will be on stage at 2:30pm and will start signing at approximately 3:20pm.


Steve Jones signing Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol.
Steve will be on stage at 3:40pm and will start signing at approximately 4:30pm.




Don’t forget to visit our friends at Book Soup. They are in Booth #88.
They ALWAYS deck with a theme in mind and it’s always a spectacle to see.
You are definitely going to want to stop by this year as it may be their best yet!

Visit the official site of the L.A. Times Festival of Books HERE for more information.
We’ll see you this weekend!