LitFest in the Dena Saturday and Sunday 12:30-6pm May 4-5 2004

Save the Dates!

LitFest in the Dena 2024
is scheduled for
Saturday & Sunday
May 4 – 5

Details to come!




Saturday and Sunday
MAY 15-16, 2021
Noon to 6:00 p.m.


On Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, noon to 6:00 p.m.,
LitFest Pasadena will livestream (12) 50-minute panel discussions
as well as 10-minute interludes between each panel with pre-recorded readings and short films.

LitFest Pasadena 2021 programming will be accessible for viewing at these locations:

the LitFest Pasadena Facebook page,
the event producer Light Bringer Project’s YouTube channel,
and this website.

No registration is required. Just show up!

Check out the 2021 LitFest Pasadena program and schedule HERE

Panel discussions run the range of social justice, cultural equity, race relations, and author activists; inclusivity in graphic novels, writing the SoCal experience, writing complicated families, speculative fiction, true crime, podcasting and 2020, Middle Grade authors, the “new unionism,” publishing and publishers, and foodie LA.

The 10-minute interludes include pre-recorded mini interviews and “in conversation” segments; poetry readings from traditional LitFest locations as well as from unusual places; and literary, sci fi, and Locavore Lit LA readings.

April 2021: Press Release

December 2020

How can it be DECEMBER already?

We hope that you and yours are healthy and safe, and continue to be so. Cheers to you receiving a solid dose of love and laughter during this holiday season and to a significantly better 2021.

By MysticArtDesign, found at Pixabay.


For the poets…
Thanks to Jessica M. Wilson at, all are invited to participate in the #DecemberPoetryChallenge. Jessica sent us “My Wishing Flower Looks Like…” and to check it out, click the link:


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11, 6:00-7:00pm PST:

Live with Alice Quinn, Carol Muske Dukes, Tommy Orange, Rex Wilder & Ron Koertge present “Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic”

Event link:

Find details at Vroman’s or Red Hen Press.

In this urgent outpouring of American voices, our poets speak to us as they shelter in place, addressing our collective fear, grief, and hope from eloquent and diverse individual perspectives.

As the novel coronavirus and its devastating effects began to spread in the United States and around the world, Alice Quinn reached out to poets across the country to see if, and what, they were writing under quarantine. Moved and galvanized by the response, the onetime New Yorker poetry editor and recent former director of the Poetry Society of America began collecting the poems arriving in her inbox, assembling this various, intimate, and intricate portrait of our suddenly altered reality. In these pages, we find poets grieving for relatives they are separated from or recovering from illness themselves, attending to suddenly complicated household tasks or turning to literature for strength, considering the bravery of medical workers or working their own shifts at the hospital, and, as the Black Lives Matter movement has swept the globe, reflecting on the inequities in our society that amplify sorrow and demand our engagement. From fierce and resilient to wistful, darkly humorous, and emblematically reverent about the earth and the vulnerability of human beings in frightening times, the poems in this collection find the words to describe what can feel unspeakably difficult and strange, providing wisdom, companionship, and depths of feeling that enliven our spirits. (Knopf Publishing Group)


Event link:

To a whole generation of filmgoers, Jeff Bridges is the Dude, but to a more important group of people he is Dad. The actor-musician-artist and one of his real-life daughters have teamed up to produce a book to inspire fathers and daughters–and whole families–to find the joy and closeness in their relationships.

When Belle announces to Dad that this day is Daddy Daughter Day, it sparks a series of adventures that turns the house and the backyard into a clay work shop, a beauty parlor, and even a circus, with Mom and little brother Sammie getting involved!

Written by Isabelle Bridges-Boesch, and illustrated by Jeff himself, this is a book for daughters, fathers, and families to treasure all their lives! (Dark Horse Books)

May 2020

We’re six weeks into our #StayHome orders. How are you doing?! We hope you and yours are healthy and safe.

Let’s see what’s happening this month!


Read LitFest Pasadena participant Lynell George‘s review of The Compton Cowboys, “first a curiosity and then a legacy,” in the LA Times.

Lynell George

Flintridge Bookstore, one of our favorite indies offers “call-in” service. Home delivery is available and even a “personalized shopping experiences” with Jenny via Zoom (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.). You can email Jenny at

Flintridge also has cards and gifts if you’re shopping for Mother’s Day on May 10 or looking for a gift for a graduate…

Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.



Lian Dolan (Helen of Pasadena) weaves together in this breezy tale the stories of three sisters whose family is disrupted after the death of their famous father.… the juicy sibling rivalry propels the pace. This endearing story of sisterhood delivers on its
Publishers Weekly

Need a mystery, noir fix? Check out Sisters in Crime LA new releases.

LitFest Pasadena fixture Gary Phillips has a story in what Publishers Weekly says is “a highly recommended unique creative act of resistance, and a must-have for fans of politics, noir, and speculative fiction” from Three Rooms Press.

Purchase at Vroman’s Bookstore, Barnes & Noble, and even Target!

Gary Phillips

Need help focusing during our #StayHome orders? Check out Janet Fitch and her “Writing Wednesday” lifestream on Facebook.

Janet Fitch

Subduction, the brilliant debut novel from Seattle writer, educator and investigative journalist Kristen Millares Young. But the ripple effects are many, and the book accomplishes something that only the best literature can: It asks the reader to wonder, and to reflect, and to ask crucial questions about society and identity. And it does so in a deeply entertaining and moving story.” (Sarah Nielsen, Seattle Times, April 29, 2020)

Published by LitFest Pasadena partner Red Hen Press!

Thank you, Women Who Submit and Kate Maruyama! Here’s its “April Roundup” of publications with works by Lisa Eve Cheby, Lituo Huang, Carla Sameth, Stephanie Abrams, Helena Listed, Désirée Zamorano, Noriko Nakada, Rachael Rifkin, and Ryane Nicole Granados:

Frequent LitFest participant Mike “the poet” Sonksen pens “Five Teacher Poets Share Their Favorite Writing Prompts for Children” at PBS SoCal. The teachers include Jessica Wilson Cardenas, Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Dorothy Randall Gray, Nancy Lynée Woo, and AK Toney.

2019 LitFest Pasadena participant author Tembi Locke (From Scratch: a Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home) celebrates a series she’s a part of – Never Have I Ever – which is now #1 on Netflix and in the top ten worldwide. Vanity Fair calls the series Mindy Kaling’s “best show ever.” Have you seen it yet?

Check out this Never Have I Ever clip at


Tembi’s debut memoir…

Aimee Liu is thrilled to share BookList’s Cari Dubiel’s review of her new book Glorious Boy, in which she calls Liu’s prose “masterful.”

Aimee Liu

Check out Red Hen Press‘s Poetry Hour, along with host The Broad Stage, live on Facebook! Watch here:


for checking out
LitFest Pasadena’s “NEWS” page!

See you in June!



Welcome! We’ve updated this LitFest Pasadena NEWS and will be sending a monthly newsletter with what LitFest authors, publishers, and poets are doing during this current covid-19 outbreak. Best of health to you and your loved ones as we “shelter at home” and get through this crisis together.

Now let’s see what everyone’s doing!

March 2020

Zan Romanoff’s third book Look launches! It will be available everywhere, but she’s encouraging folks to purchase it from her local indie bookstore Skylight Books.

On March 30, 10 a.m. PST, Zan will participate in Belletrist’s virtual book tour on its Instagram page.

Watch Zan’s book launch on March 31 at 5 p.m. PST via Instagram Live.


April 2020


April 1:

Chip Jacobs, author of Arroyo, talks with Tony DuShane on his literary podcast “Drinks with Tony.”

Wrought with warmth and wit, Jacobs’ debut novel digs into Pasadena’s most infamous structure (the Colorado Street Bridge) and the city itself. In their journey to discover the source of the bridge’s macabre alter ego, Nick Chance and his impish mutt interact with some of the big personalities from the Progressive Age, including Teddy Roosevelt, Upton Sinclair, Charles Fletcher Lummis, and Lilly and Adolphus Busch, whose gardens were once tabbed the “eighth wonder of the world.” They cavort and often sow chaos at Cawston Ostrich Farm, the Mount Lowe Railway, the Hotel Green and even the Doo Dah Parade.

Other interviews on “Drinks with Tony” this month include:

Find Tony’s podcasts at or directly here: iTunesSpotifyPandoraStitcher

Book Sale!

Now that Vroman’s is not shipping books and Amazon is not shipping books, thank you universe for the likes of Pasadena’s own Prospect Park Books! Use the code free20 and you get 20% off of any book in PPB’s incredible portfolio of genres including mystery, food & cooking, humor, memoir, regional, travel, fiction, and childrens books. Please visit

From Prospect Park Books publisher Colleen Dunn Bates: “And this important and beautiful biography/art book, Stitched & Sewn.”

Colleen also shares her experiences in the current Publishers Weekly, about how the covid-19 crisis is affecting publishers:

Colleen Dunn Bates, publisher at Prospect Park Books; photo by Amanda Friedman.

For 52 seconds of covid-19 comic relief – on how to not touch your face – here’s filmmaker, author, and columnist Ellen Snortland:

Current writer of kids’ books and plays, former radio journalist Kitty Felde began Book Club for Kids. At LitFest Pasadena 2019, she taped her podcast with author Henry Lien and an audience of young readers.

For parents who are “trying to keep learning going at home” Kitty offers…

Hi, my name is – (first name only)

I’m from (what city)

My favorite book is –

Because – (not the plot, but why YOU like this book and why you’d recommend it to someone else)

o We love pictures for the website and social media! But we also respect your privacy. If you want to send pictures, our trademark is one where kids are peeking over the top of a book, with just their nose and eyes showing. This usually satisfies any privacy issues.

Kitty Felde



Genevieve Kaplan shares her just-released book of poems (aviary), published by Veliz Books.

The poems in (aviary) circle themes of enclosure, feminism, and the natural world. Much of the collection was initially composed in local public gardens, lending these poems an air of urgency, the stink of voyeurism, and the hum of participation. This collection owes much, too, to Mina Loy’s prose poem “Ladies in an Aviary,” which lends language and thematic play to Kaplan’s (aviary).

Purchase from the publisher, or order from your local indie!

Genevieve also participated in CGU’s Poets at Work podcast, which you can listen to here:

Poet Genevieve Kaplan

Shawna Kenney has begun releasing one writing prompt per day – #quarantinewritersclub – on Facebook ( Instagram (

Elan Barnehama has new flash fiction being published this spring by Rough Cut Press and Drunk Monkeys. His novel, Finding Bluefield, is set in the 1960s and chronicles the lives of Nicky and Barbara as they seek love and family during a time when relationships like theirs were mostly hidden and often dangerous.

Elan’s work has appeared in Boston Accent Lit, Jewish Fiction, Run Wild Books, NY Journal of Book, HuffPost, public radio, and elsewhere.

Elan’s novel-in-progress, Escape Route, is set in the summer of ’69, and narrated by the first-generation son of Holocaust survivors who becomes obsessed with the Vietnam war and with finding an escape route for his family as he has come to believe that the US will eventually decide to round up and incarcerate its Jews.

Thank you, Lyndsay Hall, for this…

Sevilla Writers House, is hosting a monthlong virtual celebration for National Poetry Month featuring more than 15 poets! Every weekday at 10am, we’ll have a reading or writing prompt on Instagram Live (@sevillawritershouse) and collect donations for the poet and/or an organization supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. And on the weekends, we’re hosting poetry seminars and workshops on a variety of topics. Tickets for these start at only $8.

Francesca Lia Block, author of the acclaimed Weetzie Bat series offers a poem and upcoming classes.

“The Elfin Summer Left Us Silent”

The elfin summer left us silent—
the fat, damaged bulbs, the violet and the robin
the quizzical magic gaze of frogs.
The ill-formed tree that once groaned
like a melodic toad
the utopian stranger, flat on his back on a smooth mass of crashed tin.
Jagged, makeshift furniture provides no comfort from the wretched freeze of rain.

Now the fruit fly coughs. The birds preach. Even the maddening brawny dolls are real.
The illustrious sun pumps gaudy colors—
a rare windy muddle and hum of weather
the orange scrape-whistle of sand, the wistful vagabond.

A flock of guiltless geese paddles across the neat part the lake makes down the cement wash.
The stream of nerves.

Allow your wild, private zephyr to unknot your hair and tame your volcano into pies.
Unfasten your nod of skin and desire.

Upcoming Classes:
Online Healing and Writing Class with Francesca Lia Block
Starts June 14th  for 10 weeks Online

This class will provide a safe space for personal growth and healing, and you will also learn the basics of writing fiction (memoirists and poets also welcome). In Wired For Story, Lisa Cron argues that story was crucial to our evolution, providing templates for survival in a dangerous world. By telling stories, we teach our readers how to navigate the dangers that come with being human, and we reinforce our own strategies for survival.

My twelve questions will help writers tell more powerful stories, hopefully to guide others, and also let us examine our own lives in different ways.

Each week you will receive a mini lecture via email. You will respond to my questions and assignments with 5 double-spaced 12 pt. font pages by the following week and give and receive feedback. We will also meet ONLINE, SUNDAYS FROM 11-2 PST using ZOOM, to chat about our writing (and offer support). I am planning to invite GUEST SPEAKERS (agents, authors, teachers, publishers and producers) and they are currently being confirmed.

By the end of the course you will have the template to write or revise a longer piece of work. You will also have connected to yourself and to others through the healing power of story.

$525.00 with link below. My 12 Questions Video is included!

Contact us for more details:

Author Francesca Lia Block; photo by Nicolas Sage.


From LitFest Pasadena 2019 participant mystery writer Joe Ide:

Anne’s Book Carnival is one of my favorite bookstores. Located in Orange, California, it specializes in mystery thrillers and sound advice. If you know what you’re looking for, Annie and her excellent staff will provide you with alternatives. If you don’t know, they’ll skillfully guide you to the exact book you didn’t know you wanted. Yes, even now, amidst all the chaos, they are there and eager to help.

The Book Carnival is open online. You can order books through its website, or call for more personal service: 714-538-3210. Ebooks are available through Libor, the bookstore gets a percentage. If you need a book buy it from an indie bookstore in your community. Amazon is doing fine, folks. Spend your money where it counts. Indies have a purpose. Spreading the love of books.

Photo via Joe Ide on Facebook.

And let’s not forget our beloved Vroman’s Bookstore


From the Altadena Library:
Need a fast answer to a question? Launching today, on Mondays-Fridays from 10am-12pm and 4-6pm, live chat with library staff using our website chat feature or by calling 626-798-0833 extension 105. 


Jade Chang (author of The Wangs vs. the World) was a judge for the Tournament of Books taking place on the morning news. “It might be a fun distraction for book lovers!”

For reading pleasure, Justin Chapman shares two pieces he’s written:

The Spectacular Finale of Mad Mike – Huffington Post:
Pasadena Resident Among 1,400 Americans Stuck in Peru – Pasadena Now:
Justin Chapman

Karol Ruth Silverstein has won the Schneider Family Book Award in the teen category. “This is an award that celebrates my people and our experience. So there really is no greater honor!”


Given by the American Library Association, the Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. I have identified as disabled since age 21 and winning this particular award was a dream come true for me and a huge honor.—Karol Ruth Silverstein



August 2019

Deadline August 31: The Altadena Poetry Review is accepting poetry submissions for its 2020 edition. For details, visit Shabda Press.

Interested in exploring how poetry can “enliven prose”? Kim Dower is part of this fall’s UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Learn more – and sign up! – at

Dower is the author of Last Train to the Missing Planet, Slice of Moon, and Air Kissing on Mars, all published by LitFest Pasadena supporter and participant Red Hen Press.

August 1

Don’t miss Janet Fitch at Vroman’s Bookstore!

Thursday, Aug. 1 @ 7 p.m., discussing her new novel Chimes of a Lost Cathedral.


Another event on August 1 – with Sophia Kercher, editorial director of digital publication LosAngeleno

August 4

“A captivating, courageous, and insanely creative book.”

Come hear Mary Walker Baron and Jeff Baugh at Flintridge Bookstore on Aug. 4 @ 5 p.m. to read from and discuss their collaboration Stick with Us and We’ll Get You There.

For details, visit

Jeff Baugh, an airborne traffic reporter, flies over traffic helping people reach their travel destinations. Mary Walker Baron, a licensed clinical social worker, helps people overcome their life obstacles to get to where they want to be. Stick With Us is replete with wild car chases, gruesome train wrecks, endless gridlock, and devastating brush fires. It is also replete with gentle wisdom to guide us through our own personal challenges to wherever it is we want to be on our roads and in our lives. (Official text)

August 8

Released! Justin M. Murphy‘s Let Me Tell You How It Isn’t (Pelekinesis Press).

August 9

LitFest Pasadena participants F. Douglas Brown, Mike Sonksen, Sehba Sarwar, Linda Ravenswood, Arminé Iknadossian, Don Kingfisher Campbell, Cassandra Lane are part of “East Meets West,” hosted by Tanya Ko Hong on Friday, Aug. 9, with a reception to be held 6:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. at Beyond Baroque as part of the Antioch University MFA Literary Uprising series. The event officially runs 8-10 p.m.

Come enjoy refreshments, gets some books signed, and meet the authors in the “poet’s garden.”

Cost: $10, adults; $6, students. Beyond Baroque members, free.

For details and tickets, visit Eventbrite here.

August 10

Come hear Susan Shapiro moderate the “Secrets of Publishing” at The Last Bookstore, Saturday, Aug. 10, from 7:30 p.m to 9 p.m. Ticket price includes a copy of either The Byline Bible or The Method to the Madness.

For tickets and details visit event Facebook page. Address: 453 S. Spring St., LA 90013.

This exciting panel will spill the secrets of newspaper, magazine and book publishing, with luminaries in the field: Editors Maer Roshan (Los Angeles Magazine) Lisa Teasley (LA Review of Books), Angel Rodriguez (L.A. Times) agent B.J. Robbins, author Allen Salkin (The Method to the Madness) & Alison Singh Gee (Where the Peacocks Sings) moderated by Byline Bible author Susan Shapiro.


The Amado Women author Désirée Zamorano facilitates a 2-hour, hands-on workshop on submitting on Saturday, August 10, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Exposition Park Regional Library as part of Women Who Submit: A Literary Submissions Workshop. For more details, visit the event Facebook page.

August 11

The Roar Shack Literary Reading Series features Christina Hoag with her essay, “Where Are You From?” on Sunday, August 11 @ 4 p.m.

This evening’s event is called “Gathering Sky” and includes Brendan Constantine, Lynne Thompson, Angela Stubbs, and July Live Write winner Ciji McBride. Location: Time Travel Mart, 1714 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park 90026. For details visit event Facebook page.

Hoag is the author of the YA novels Girl on the Brink and Skin of Tattoos.

August 13

Red Hen Press and Annenberg Community Beach House host Francesca Bell and Ilya Kaminsky on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 6:30-8 p.m. Location: 415 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica 90402.

August 29

Carla Sameth, author of the newly released One Day on the Gold Line (see “The Interview” below) is in conversation with Pasadena Weekly editor Kevin Uhrich on Thursday, Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. at Vroman’s. Find details at

An excerpt of One Day on the Gold Line may be found in the August issue of L.A. Parent magazine.
Thanks for letting us know, Cassandra Lane!

July 15: The Interview

Carla Sameth, LitFest Pasadena 2019.


Carla Sameth’s memoir, One Day on the Gold Line, debuts July 18, 2019. Her work on blended/unblended, LGBTQ, and single parenting appears in a variety of literary journals and anthologies including MUTHA Magazine, Narratively, The Nervous Breakdown and Brain, Child. Selected as a 2016 PEN Teaching Artist, Sameth teaches creative writing at the LA Writing Project at Cal State University LA, Southern New Hampshire University, and to incarcerated youth. Carla is a member of the Pasadena Rose Poets.

Carla was kind enough to answer some of our questions…

LitFest Pasadena: We remember reading “One Day on the Gold Line” as an essay in the Pasadena Weekly in 2012. You experienced a brutal assault at the hands of the LA Sheriff’s Department, all as a result of being unable to find your Metro ticket because it had slipped behind your wallet in your oversized purse. Your language in the essay paints a terrifying picture; it was difficult to experience even as a reader. Was this essay the beginning of what lead to your memoir or how did your book develop?

Carla: Thank you so much! I had originally started conceiving of the book-length memoir in essays prior to that assault and the essay which came from that. I continued to develop the memoir as I lived my life and it turns out that that horrific experience with the LA Sheriff’s Department was not my “bottom.” When my son started high school he began to experiment with drugs and spiraled downwards rapidly. I had teased him that when he left home for college, I’d join him and get my MFA, live in the dorms and go to parties with him, which he didn’t find humorous at all. When he left (not for college but for a young man’s recovery house), I started my MFA. I was then able to focus more fully on the memoir which eventually took shape as One Day on the Gold Line: A Memoir in Essays.

The book begins with me on a lifeboat boat in the middle of the Mediterranean where I realized that if I were to died then, my biggest regret would be never having had a child. I suffered multiple miscarriages before my son was born. I was looking to create a family that was a safe sanctuary, a sort of “happy chaos.” I thought that my son having a queer mom, being African American and Jewish, and part of a blended family or even with a single mom, would just make life richer for him, but the reality was much harder. The memoir is about my experience navigating life’s challenges including race, identity, police violence, and facing my teenage son’s struggle with addiction. It’s a bit of a “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.” It’s contemporary parenthood.

LF: We remember your poem “I Do Exist” where you write “It seems so fast—from craziness of raising a child alone/To carrying a diaper bag for my mom.” Where some writers delve into a world of their own making, the cozy blanket of fiction, your writing seems to be ‘here’s my world, here’s my life, in all it’s rawness and realness.’ Would you agree with that?

Carla: I wanted to write the book I would have liked to read when I struggled to have a son through multiple miscarriages and then when I was in the single mom trenches. I found some books tremendously helpful, when I was dealing with his addiction struggles, books by addicts and families of addicts such as Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by his son, Nic Sheff.

Carla: I wanted to offer this same lifeline to other people dealing with the issues I experienced. Having that connection can help a person feel some hope, empathy and resilience, even when the narrative is difficult and often not pretty.

I don’t know how I would have written One Day on the Gold Line without my family’s tremendous support. My son repeatedly encouraged me to write the book and I think we felt that it could help other families dealing with similar issues. I showed him some essays before they were published and asked him to read the manuscript before it was published. He has read parts, but I don’t think he ever read the whole thing. He continues to support me, including going to readings even when he may feel some discomfort if a part of  the story focuses  (as it often is) on him or our relationship. Once my maternal aunt objected to me reading a poem about my mom and her dementia at Shiva after her funeral, so I didn’t read it.

I usually do read what I want to publish to my wife first if I am writing about her (which I have just barely started doing). She has never censored my work and told me recently that she finds my writing cathartic for her.

I am now working on linked short stories and with fiction, prefer to write in any voice other than a mom’s at this moment. Guess I’m a bit sick of my own story by now. I’m proud of my book, but editing and publishing this book was a tremendous effort and I’m ready to move on to someone else’s story.

I love fiction and poetry because of the freedom you have to go beyond your own story and “real life” even if you draw some inspiration from it.

LF: Reviewer Michael Sedano at La Bloga writes that One Day on the Gold Line is “literature as equipment for living.” Is this your goal? 

Carla: Yes, this is absolutely my goal. I cherish the connection I feel as reader to the writer and as writer to the reader. It’s a large part of why I write, to offer that connection. To share how I survived and perhaps offer some hope or source of strength to a reader. And of course, there’s humor. You got to have that to make it through this world. I hope that I can help readers find laughter even in the darkness.

LF: This is from “Mother’s Day Triptych” in Mutha magazine: 

I long for something that will somehow bind the three of us together, me, my wife, and my son. They seem to be less attached to the idea, this desperate need of mine to find a container for the three of us that is safe, strong, undivided. They appear to accept the occasional bumpiness of their relationship in a way I struggle to, since I still cling to safe harbor, a place like The Point where ocean waves give the sense of calm, with their consistent return. 

My son has told me that he is glad that my wife and I have found each other, knowing that I am taken care of.  And my wife knows that the love between my son and me burns fierce and constant. Perhaps the thread that holds us together is their unyielding love for me. And mine for them. That is the place we will live in.

Does writing help you clarify or lead you to an understanding of yourself or lead to any resolutions?

Carla: Yes, that piece actually did help me better understand my feelings around their relationship and my obsession with “everyone getting along and loving each other.” As many writers will tell you, sometimes writing a piece does help us come to some clarity as we reflect back in the writing process. This is a big part of memoir.

LF: Not only are you a dedicated writer, you appear to be dedicated to helping others to write and express themselves. You co-founded the Pasadena Writing Project, you’ve been a mentor for incarcerated young people via WriteGirl, and teach at the Los Angeles Writing Project. Many writers are loners to a certain extent, but you appear to not be one of them. 

Carla: I am definitely more of an extrovert; which is not to say that I don’t have moments of extreme anxiety and social awkwardness. I need some outside contact though, especially when I’m spending a lot of time writing about dark themes. I love teaching and encouraging and enabling others to tell their stories. Writing probably saved my life and I think it can do the same for others. It’s a beautiful experience watching someone develop their voice and speak their truth.

LF: Personal questions! What is your favorite time of day and, if you don’t have prior commitments, what do you like to do with it?

Carla: I love sunset, dusk, and dawn. My yard is pretty wild and I really like the way it smells and looks first thing in the morning. Lay out in the hammock and read? Writing in a beautiful place where I can write, gaze, graze, and maybe doze. Spending time with my son, close friends, and family. A good meal together.

LitFest: Your favorite vice?

Carla: Watching episodic television series like Handmaid’s Tale, Pose, Orange Is the New Black (and “back in the day” The Wire, Deadwood, Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under) and so many others. OMG, I could have written five more books at least during the time my wife and I have binge watched TV. We like to eat ice cream like rocky road while we watch shows. It’s a big stress reliever. Similar to reading really good fiction (or memoir), I enjoy escaping into someone else’s life.

LF: Least favorite chore?

Carla: Hands down, cleaning kitty litter and cleaning (adult) toilets. My wife does more than her share.

LF: Best way to spend a day in Pasadena would be…?

Carla: LitFest, of course!

LitFest Pasadena 2019, Pasadena Playhouse Library. “Queer, Adoptive, and Nontraditional Families: Writing Our Truth” with (L-R) Carla Sameth, Cheryl Klein, Nefertiti Austin, and Pat Alderete. Photos by Brian Biery.


Carla: It’s in Arcadia, but when I first moved to SoCal I liked eating carnitas at the Santa Anita Race Track. Also, hiking around Eaton Canyon and some of the great places in the San Gabriel Mountains, especially when it’s a wet season and the wildflowers come out en masse. Eating some of the delicious Asian food in the area. You can see that a lot of my favorite things involve food. I also love going to movies at the Laemmle and browsing at Vroman’s.

One Day on the Gold Line book launch: Wednesday, July 17, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., LA 90013. For all details, click Eventbrite.

Find Carla at and @carlasameth.

June 8 update: New News!


July 11

All are welcome to a free table read of the theatrical adaptation of the Los Angeles Times best-selling novel Dead Above Ground by local author and LitFest Pasadena co-founder Jervey Tervalon.

Dead Above Ground
table read

Directed by Paul McDade
With Amber Dixon Brenner as the tragic Adelle and Natasha Estrada as Lita

L-R: Amber Dixon Brenner and Natasha Estrada


Time & Location
Thursday, July 11 at 6:30 p.m.
DRW Auditorium, Pasadena Public Library
285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena 91101
Free event

Welcome to the LitFest Pasadena
NEWS page!

Here you’ll find the details and information mentioned in our monthly newsletter, covering LitFest writers, authors, poets, and publishers’ book releases, author events, readings, and even interviews and book excerpts or poems.
What about news and updates on
LitFest Pasadena 2020?
Watch this space. Enjoy!

July 2019


Jean Guerrero – LitFest participant in “Race & the Literary Life” – has been chosen as the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists’ 2019 Journalist of the Year. Jean is the author of Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir (Penguin Random House) and is a KPBS investigative reporter covering the border and immigration.

Congratulations, Jean!

Thank you, Susannah Rodríguez Drissi, for sharing this…
Short & Sweet Hollywood is seeking submissions for 10-minute plays and films for their Latino festival, which is scheduled for the fall in Los Angeles. All English and Spanish submissions from Latinx writers welcome. Submission deadline extended to July 12. Find details at

July 5

Linda Ravenswood participates in The Slam with Annie Paradis at The Ruby, Friday, July 5 at 9:30 p.m. Find details on event Facebook page.

July 6

LitFest participant and poet Arminé Iknadossian hosts the first Native American U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo at “Writing from the Spirit of Service” at Abril Books in Glendale, July 6, 4-7 p.m. Cost: $30. Please RSVP: Find more details on the Facebook event page.

U. S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo


July 6: Mary Mallory speaks at the Sherman Oaks Library at 2 p.m. on “Lost LA.”

“Take a trip back in time with historian Mary Mallory to visit famous landmarks and hidden gems revealing the rich architectural diversity of the City of the Angels.”

Find details at

If you can’t attend on the 6th, Mary’s giving 2 more presentations this month: July 18 at 6 p.m. at Studio City Library and July 25 at 7 p.m. at the San Fernando Historical Society.

July 7

Noir at the Bar has been a big hit at LitFest Pasadena thanks to S.W. Lauden and Eric Beetner. Now, they celebrate Noir at the Bar’s 8th anniversary – 7 p.m. at Mandrake, 2692 S. La Cienega Blvd., LA – with a line up that includes The Devil’s Half Mile author and LitFest participant Paddy Hirsch!

July 9

Vroman’s Bookstore: JPL veterans Michael Werner and Peter Eisenhardt discuss and sign More Things in the Heavens (Princeton University Press), a book which, according to Nick Smith of E&T, “is an unashamed celebration of one of the greatest scientific projects of the 21st century.”

For all of July’s author events at Vroman’s Bookstore, visit its event page here.

July 10

Red Hen Press presents LitFest Pasadena participants Kim Dower and Ron Koertge at one of the “Bookstores We Love” Skylight Books on July 10 at 7:30 p.m., 1814 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz 90027.

July 12

Issue #9 of Viva Padilla‘s Dryland literary magazine released. Come join the party! July 12 at Patria Coffee, 6-9 p.m. Sonido Del Valle (Sounds of the Valley) record store provides the tunes for the evening, Pocho Pops serves up pallets, and great (reasonably priced) offered by 213 Ramen. Also on the evenings “menu,” readings by “a solid mix of first-timers and veterans.” Details on event Facebook page.

July 13

One of the fun, fun summer events of the year – Poetry Circus, thanks to poet Nicelle Davis. This 6th year of the event is titled “Circus Noir” and can be enjoyed on July 13 beginning at 5 p.m. at the historic and beautifully restored Griffith Park Carousel. Included in this year’s line up are LitFest participants Cindy Rinne, Arminé Iknadossian, and Douglas Manuel. Come enjoy a free merry-go-round ride, the Bob Baker marionettes, face painting, and Anne Yale of Yak Press has just received the “Circus Noir” chapbooks! Find complete details at or on the Poetry Circus “Circus Noir” Facebook event page.

Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher. Chapbook cover by Sharon L. Hoff.

Henry Lien and Dana Middleton

July 16

Middle Grade & LitFest Pasadena authors Dana Middleton  and Henry Lien join E. E. Charlton-Trujillo for a conversation, Q&A, and book signing at Barnes & Noble on Tuesday, July 16 at 7 p.m., Del Almo Center, 21400 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503.


Prospect Park Books author Jim Kempton visits Redondo Beach Library, July 16, 6-7:30 p.m. Jim “shares his recipe collection, along with stories of the best waves, restaurants, adventures, and misadventures.” Find details at


Janet Fitch reads from Chimes of a Lost Cathedral, July 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., LA 90027. Event details here.


July 17

Book launch: One Day on the Gold Line by Carla Sameth. From 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Last Bookstore, 453 S. Spring St., LA 90013. For all details, click Eventbrite.

Autobiography, particularly one this honest, is kin to fiction’s Identification. Through Edification and Instruction, Sameth allows a reader to find parallels in their own love life, parenting, cooking, problem-solving, choices of ice cream. In short, it’s what Kenneth Burke termed “Literature as equipment for living.”

Carla Rachel Sameth doesn’t have a kid named Rafael. This is creative non-fiction of the highest caliber. Writers should flock to these pages to observe how Sameth plants ideas, spins them around, pulls them out thirty pages and two stories later. I particularly enjoy the writer’s use of humor.
—Michael Sedano, “Defining Moment on the LA Metro, and a Life,” La Bloga

July 19

Bruce Craven, author of Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from the Game of Thrones (Thomas Dunne Books, Macmillan) appears at Flintridge Bookstore, July 19 at 6-7:30 p.m. Click here for details.

If you’ll be in San Francisco, Susannah Rodríguez Drissi discusses, reads, and signs The Latin Poet’s Guide to the Cosmos at Ally Cat Books & Gallery July 19, 7-9 p.m.

July 20

“The Elements of Poetry” workshop with Thelma T. Reyna at Vroman’s Bookstore, July 20, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Explore the various elements that make poetry “poetic,” word choice, different forms of rhyme, and voice. Published poems read and discussed, and then writing will ensue! Find complete details here.

July 24

KPCC’s Unheard LA has Mike Sonksen hosting his brand-new show “Letters to Our City.” He’ll be joined by past Unheard LA storytellers including Rocío Carlos and Daniel Hernandez on July 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Crawford Center, 474 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena. Find details on event Facebook page. Purchase tickets here. General admission: $12.

July 27

Flintridge Bookstore presents Deb Spera, a La Cañada Flintridge resident, in conversation with Flintridge Prep’s headmaster Peter Bachmann about her new release Call Your Daughter Home (Park Row Book, Harlequin), July 27 at 5 p.m.


The Interview
Luke Tarzian

Luke Tarzian, assistant manager of Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse – one of the Bookstores We Love! – makes his debut with his dark fantasy book Vultures.

Bio, according to Luke: Fantasy Author. Long Doggo Enthusiast. Snoot Booper. Shouter of Profanities. Drinker of Whiskey. These are all titles. I’m the Khaleesi nobody wanted and the one they certainly didn’t deserve.

Luke was kind enough to answer a few of our questions…

LitFest: Vultures are predators, and human vultures prey on others, exploit others, exploit a situation to turn it in his/her favor. Why is Vulturesthe title of your fantasy debut? Is your main character Theailys a vulture? Or would that be the “spindly white-eyed silhouette,” the voice in Theailys’s head, which calls himself Faro? Or both? Neither? 

Tarzian: So. The title came from an “Asking Alexandria” song of the same name. There’s a line in it that says “these vultures burn the life right out of me” and it was something that stuck with me when I was revising what was previously a standalone novel. It gave me a really solid theme to work with. The vultures in the novel are more psychological than anything—Faro, certainly, but also horrible dreams, memories of personal tragedies, and the like. Each viewpoint character has a lot of personal baggage and I really wanted to highlight that.


LF: Creating a new world – a world of “faithbringers” and “lokyns,” the “Heart of Mirkúr” and “The Keeper’s Wrath.” It seems hard enough to write a story that’s situated in a world that already exists; how do you balance all of the elements needed for a good tale when it’s a world you’ve created from scratch?

Tarzian: I have a rough outline for every book, which is definitely subject to change. It’s more of a guide rather than something I strictly adhere to. I also have a project journal I’m making entries in during the writing process. I’m a very organized person, but keeping track of so many new elements can definitely be challenging at times, especially in a secondary world. The actual act of balancing all of that within the context of the story–for me, at least–isn’t actually as difficult, though. It comes down to the characters and figuring out what needs to be present in each of their scenes, if that makes sense. Basically, certain things relate to certain characters; certain things evoke different emotional responses for different characters.

LF: What about Vultures makes this the story with which you wanted to make your debut? What’s special about it to you that made you decide, yes, this is the story with which I want to launch my debut?

Tarzian: Vultures is the culmination of more than a decade of writing. It’s a Frankenstein of my past attempts at novels, finally amalgamated into something fluid. It’s a very personal project for me for a variety of reasons, most notably the facts it deals with mental illness and that I finished it a few months after my mother passed away. The idea to self-publish it really came from her becoming ill last year and me wanting her to be able to hold a physical copy of my first book before she went, which she was able to do. I did pretty much everything design-wise, from the cover art to the interior. It was a huge creative undertaking, but I’m extremely proud of it and I’m sure my mom would be to.

LF: Have you always written fantasy? Read fantasy as a young child or teen? What draws you to fantasy, and what makes something “dark” fantasy?

Tarzian: For the most part, yes, I’ve always written fantasy, though the first stories I had published were horror. I read fantasy as a teen, though mostly Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I didn’t actually get into fantasy seriously until the year I graduated college and started working on what would be the very first iteration of Vultures. As for what draws me to it, I would say the escapism factor. It’s nice to be able to leave reality for a couple of hours at a time and visit other worlds. What makes fantasy “dark”? Dealing with more themes that are a bit heavier, more frightening or horrific. Fantasy that evokes a sense of dread.

LF: What’s your favorite aspect of writing, within the action of writing? 

Tarzian: Creating characters. I love worldbuilding, but getting to know my characters is definitely my favorite part since I’m getting to learn more about myself in the process. It’s a very vulnerable process for me, it’s cathartic, and it allows me to really address some of the things going on in my thoughts.

LF: What’s the most difficult aspect of writing for you?

Tarzian: Plot development, dialogue, editing, “seeing” the whole story and knowing whether or not it “works,” etc.  I think it would probably be just hammering out the first draft of the story. I’m OCD which definitely makes it tough since I’m constantly having to tell myself “It’s just the first draft. Let it be ugly. Just get the story on page.” Either that or curtailing the amount of profanity some of my characters use (I think I’ve DEFINITELY improved here).

LF: Now for some personal questions, what is your favorite time of day, and if you don’t have prior commitments, what do you do with it?

Tarzian: It definitely depends. For writing, definitely the morning since that’s when I’ve got the most energy. As for relaxing, the evening. I’ll usually just watch a bit of television or read a book. Or, go for a walk around the Rose Bowl.

LF: Your most favorite vice?

Tarzian: A nice glass of scotch.

LF: Your most abhorrent chore?

Tarzian: Not sure I actually have one. I’m one of those people who actually enjoys cleaning. My wife can tell you how excited I was when we got a new mop and had to immediately put it to use. But if I HAD to pick one… probably laundry.

LF: You have a free day in Flintridge, Pasadena, or anywhere in San Gabriel Valley. What’s your dream day?

Tarzian: Oh no. I have to actually think about this. Makes me snort to say this, but it’s probably sitting in the cafe at work (a bit masochistic, really) and getting something book-related taken care of, whether it’s writing or promotional art. I could easily do both of these at home, but I’ve gotten into the habit of not being home in the mornings that doing so actually makes me feel odd.


Find more about Luke and his work at, Flintridge Books, and @luke_tarzian.

Luke Tarzian


June 2019

For a complete look at the photos and comments about LitFest Pasadena 2019, please visit the Home page – it’s fun!

Flintridge Bookstore joined LitFest for the “Bookstores We Love” panel. Following is one of Flintridge’s upcoming events…

Luke Tarzian of Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse & Nicole Mainardi debut their fantasy books on June 22 at 5 p.m., Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse, 1010 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge 91011.

Sisters in Crime LA new books:
LAst Resort, an anthology by SinCLA writers with an introduction by Michael Connelly. Available now on Amazon:

Fatally Haunted, sixteen stories by Sisters and Misters who belong to the LA Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Edited by Rachel Howzell Hall, Sheila Lowe, and Laurie Stevens. Introduction by Cara Black. Available at Vroman’s Bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Mysterious Galaxy.

Karol Ruth Silverstein, participated in the panel “Be True to You: Own Voices and Empathy in YA”
Book launch for Cursed:
Children’s Book World, Sat. June 29, 2:30 p.m.
10580 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Also, find Karol at Vroman’s Bookstore for a joint event with author Chris Baron, July 3 at 7 p.m.

Georgia Jeffries, moderator for “Book to TV” panel:
“What Would Nora Do?” by Georgia Jeffries, Odd Partners, an Anthology
Other stories by Anne Perry, Charles Todd, and Jacqueline Winspear, among others.

LitFest Organizing Committee member and publisher of Prospect Park Books, Colleen Dunn Bates organized and participated in four different LitFest 2019 panels! Prospect Park has just released author Jill Orr’s 3rd installment of her Riley Ellison mystery series titled The Ugly Truth. If you like cozy mysteries with a bit of romance and a good dose of humor, this series could be for you. And, we always like to plug the works of LA Times writer Chris Erskine. Read his hilarious take on fatherhood in Daditude.

See photos of LitFest Pasadena 2019 on the Home Page.