Library Book: Writers on Libraries

The venerable Downtown Santa Barbara Central Library (40 E. Anapamu St.)  is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and writers are celebrating this centennial milestone as well, with a heartwarming anthology of stories, essays, and poems written by over 80 authors about their library experiences and the glories of the public library.

Edited by local writer Steven Gilbar, Library Book: Writers on Libraries, brings an impressive group of scribes together, ranging from huge literary names like Ray Bradbury, Fannie Flagg, Sue Grafton, Pico IyerNeil Gaiman and Ursula K. LeGuin, to loads of local writers including all of the living Santa Barbara poets laureate, Hilary Dole Klein, D. J. Palladino, Ashleigh Brilliant, Erin Graffy de Garcia, Beverley Jackson, Marcia Meier, Grace Rachow, Joan Tapper and many more (including yours truly.)

With a forward by local resident T.C. Boyle and all royalties going to the nonprofit Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library, this is a book purchase that any word loving reader can feel good about making. Library Book: Writers on Libraries is available at The Book Den (15 E. Anapamu St.), Chaucers Books (3321 State St.), Mesa Books (1838 Cliff Dr.), Tecolote Book Shop (1470 East Valley Rd.) and Upstairs at Pierre La Fond (516 San Ysidro Rd.), as well as on

Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in Santa Barbara Seasons on June 21, 2017.

Local Lowdown: On the Bookshelf

Here’s a peek at what some of our local scribes will have on the bookstore shelves this season.Our World of Water


The reigning queen of local mystery writers, Sue Grafton is back, and she’s up to the letter “X,” in what is perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel featuring a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Operating out of the fictional town of Santa Teresa (a.k.a. Santa Barbara), hard-boiled private investigator Kinsey Millhone takes us on yet another exciting and twisty journey we won’t soon forget.

Gunpowder Press recently published the late Barry Spacks’s final book of poems, Shaping Water. A master poet and mentor, Spacks published 11 books of poetry during his lifetime, including Spacks Street, which won the Commonwealth Club of California’s Poetry Medal. He was selected as Santa Barbara’s first official poet laureate in 2005.

Inspired by Frances Schultz’s popular House Beautiful magazine series on the makeover of her house, ShapingWater_500x750The Bee Cottage Story: How I Made a Muddle of Things and Decorated My Way Back to Happiness is a charmingly illustrated, humorous memoir that illuminates life lessons gleaned from her journey to rebuild her life after a broken engagement, cancer and a series of devastating losses.

Water is always top of our minds these days, and journalist Michael Cervin’s latest tome, Our World of Water: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Earth’s Most Critical Resource, discusses water from a historical context to its spiritual element and the present water crisis. It also looks toward our collective future and the inherent value of water to appreciate its awesome power while recognizing its fundamental importance.

Anne Fleet-Giordano, "Marry, Kiss, Kill"

Murders take the spotlight at Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Marry, Kiss, Kill, the debut mystery by Anne Flett-Giordano. The Emmy-winning television writer/producer (Frasier, Hot in Cleveland, Desperate Housewives) has created a fresh and funny Santa Barbara police detective/heroine—Nola MacIntire—who actually makes us yearn for more crime to come to town.

Known for her hilarious memoirs I’ve Still Got It…I Just Can’t Remember Where I Put It and If It Was Easy, They’d Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon, Their Golden Dreamsformer KTYD personality Jenna McCarthy turns her comedic talents to fiction with Pretty Much Screwed, a story of love, loss, friendship, forgiveness, turtledoves, taxidermy and one hilariously ill-placed tick. Dumped after 20 years of marriage, this novel follows a woman’s journey of picking herself up out of the gutter when life kicks her to the curb.

Set in California during the Gold Rush years, Willard Thompson’s latest, Their Golden Dreams, follows the lives of some of the men and women who were thrown together during those rough and tumble days. Mixing fictional characters with cameos from historical figures, this third book in the Chronicles of California series traces the lives of those who came to California seeking riches.

Joye Emmens, "She's Gone"

It’s 1969 and teenage Jolie stands on the deck of her parents’ Santa Barbara home watching an uncontrolled oil spill. She’s outraged and motivated to do something about it. Jolie’s father may be an oil executive, but that doesn’t stop her from hitchhiking to the harbor and joining an anti-oil drilling protest. Bee Cottage StoryAnd so begins Joye Emmons’s She’s Gone, a heartfelt story of self-discovery that follows a young woman’s odyssey through social and political issues that continue to be relevant today.

—Leslie Dinaberg

Originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

CALM’s 22nd Annual Celebrity Author’s Luncheon

CALM-logoCALM’s (Child Abuse Listening Mediation) 22nd Annual Celebrity Authors’ Luncheon last weekend was, as always, a rousing success, thanks in large part to the dynamic duo of Sharon Bifano and Stephanie Ortale, who have co-chaired the event every year since its inception in 1987.

Board president Meredith Scott gave a lovely tribute to retiring executive director Anna M. Kokotovic, PhD. That, along with a moving video presentation produced by Surf Media Communications, brought the work that CALM does in the community to the forefront of the luncheon–to prevent, assess, and treat child abuse by providing comprehensive, services for children and their families–inspiring the approximately 500 supporters at the luncheon to dig deep into their pockets to help abused children.

Retired KEYT anchor Debby Davison and Borders Books’ Kate Schwab interviewed an interesting panel of authors: Lisa See (Peony in Love), Andrew Klavan (Damnation Street), Deborah Rodriguez (Kabul Beauty School) and Gary David Goldberg (Sit, Ubu, Sit).

See’s book follows the lives of two young Chinese women in remote 19th century China. Her comparison of the tortures of female foot binding to the “plastic boobs” of today’s women (“they’re both painful things done to women as status symbols for men”) had the mostly female crowd in stitches.

When asked about the vivid characters he creates, Klavan said, “I really enjoy the fact that people are immensely different.” Another vivid character was Rodriguez herself, a hairdresser from Michigan who went to Afghanistan as a relief worker and ended up training Afghan women to do modern beauty treatments. “I mean Taliban are but this perm was really bad too,” said Rodriguez, describing the woman who inspired her to start the Kabul Beauty School.

“I couldn’t believe that you could make a living doing what I got to do,” said (Family Ties and (Spin City creator Goldberg, who spoke about writing a memoir about his life as a television writer/producer.

They joined the ranks of more than 70 authors interviewed over the years, including Sue Grafton, Jane Russell, Barnaby Conrad, Michael Crichton, Julia Child, Ray Bradbury, Fanny Flagg, Maria Shriver and Jonathan Winters.

In addition to purchasing books by the interviewed authors (with a portion of the proceeds going to CALM), authors Mindy Bingham, Polly Bookwalter, Joe Bruzzese, Jack Canfield, Kathryn Cushman, William Davis, Karen Finell, David Gersh, Beverly Jackson, Susan Jorgensen, Jennie Nash, Katie Nuanes, Sissy Taran and Flavia Weedn were also on hand to sign books and donate part of the proceeds to CALM.

For more information about CALM, visit

Originally published in Noozhawk on March 12, 2008.