Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Kemble Scott”

Kemble Scott – California Writer

I have already written about Kemble Scott and apologize (only slightly) that I am adapting a previous post. If we are celebrating California Writers Week and I am using this opportunity to focus on authors who write about San Francisco, then I think this post is even more relevant today.

SoMa stands for South of Market area. Riding on the riches of the dot com era, suddenly wealthy young people moved into fashionable lofts in a neighborhood that was known for the darker side of life. Many of the side streets are actually named after the prostitutes that frequented them.

SoMa remains an area of contrasts – one street boasting trendy clubs and organic grocery stores, while another is dark and used to sell drugs. Living and cruising the neighborhood are people who are pushing the limits of social norms, in terms of sexual practices and lifestyles and Kemble captures the atmosphere so well.

A different perspective on San Francisco

But Kemble is more than just your average author. If he has an ego from his gleaned success it was never on show when he addressed the California Writers Club. He took the opportunity to share with us his astonishing success as an ebook author and generously offered advice to other writers in a friendly and humble way. He shared his mistakes as well as his successes and I felt it was genuinely important to him to ensure that when someone asked a question that they got the best answer he could give. 

Since his novel, SoMa, was anything but mainstream, Kemble found it difficult to attract reviews. So he came up with this great idea to post short clips on You Tube of the different areas in San Francisco that the book explores. The 25,000 views of these clips helped create a following so when the book was launched it went straight into the Bestseller lists. Here is Chapter One. Be prepared – you will probably want to check chapter 2, 3 and so on.

Kemble often mentions his writers group helping to keep him real. When he told his group that people advertise in Craigslist’s Bay Area ‘roommate wanted’ section to meet prospective partners, two members of the group admitted that they had found their partners in this way.

SoMa can be hard reading. What keeps you involved is the knowledge that these fictional characters exist, and exist in our city. It is the story of desensitized people who are searching for emotion, and they need to seek this in ever increasingly challenging and dangerous ways. It recognizes that this generation is overloaded with choice, with communicating through screens multitasking and absorbing images and data.

Kemble has another similar novel that challenges our views of sexual practice. The Sower, like SoMa, is really well written, with characters that stay with you long after you finish the final pages. His writing also helps paint another layer in the many textures of the San Francisco tapestry.

Here is Kemble’s speech to Google employees.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

California Writer’s Week

Eight years ago, a Joint Legislative Resolution  was passed in Sacramento to recognize California Writer’s Week which begins today. The authors of note include a fine list that we can all be proud of.

Gertrude Atherton (1857-1948) Mary Austin (1868-1934)
Raymond Barrio (1921-1996) Delilah L. Beasley (1872-1934)
Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) Ina Coolbrith (1841-1928)
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) Bret Harte (1836-1902)
Jack London (1876-1916) Joaquin Miller (1837-1913)
William Saroyan (1908-1981) John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
George Sterling (1869-1926) Mark Twain (1835-1910)

But I can’t help feeling that this reinforces the old adage that the only way for an author to be successful is to be a dead author. So I want to spotlight several authors who are alive today and crafting their magic in the Golden State.

My list includes (with no significance to order) Christopher Moore, Kemble Scott, Adam Mansbach, Deborah Majors,  Matt Stewart, Seth Harwood, Tanya Egan Gibson, John Putnam and… I’m sure there are many more.

I realize as I am writing that most of them actually share something in common – they write about San Francisco, or at least Northern California. I guess this is important to me. My next three books will be based here because San Francisco is a magical city that I have fallen in love with, so I guess this makes sense, even though I haven’t connected the two in creating this list.

It's in Black & White.

Therefore, I want to share a few of my favorite local authors with you over the next week, all of whom are alive and can be met at numerous author events that they participate in. Meeting inspiring authors remains a thrill for many of us and perhaps this is a flaw of the newly consecrated California Writer’s Week, that it highlights authors from the past.

So it is slightly ironic that California Writers Week follows Litquake, a San Francisco smorgasbord of literature-related events, apparently based on the premise from USA Today, that San Francisco has the highest per capita consumption of both alcohol and books.

Whatever the reason, it is a great event. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to curl up with a good book and a bottle of wine. How I love San Francisco! Who is your favorite Bay Area author?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

 

Happy Pride Day

June is Gay Pride month and, not surprisingly, San Francisco knows how to celebrate.  All of June down Market Street, flags have been flying in the breeze, adding color to the majestic buildings. Most of the people who walk past and notice the flags are probably straight and the flags serve as the only reminder of Gay Pride Month.

Flags Fly on Market Street

The first time that I went to the Pride Parade was during the height of the Prop 8 battle (not sure ‘height’ works here as the struggle continues). I was worried about just being a gawking onlooker even though I marched with the Jewish community’s float in support of gay marriage. While I am sure that I probably did my share of gawking, I felt every part of the celebration.

so cool!

So I want to give a shout out to those of my friends and colleagues who are celebrating today and highlight four areas.

1. Same Sex Parents – I am honored to have met many friends who are parents of children that my sons are friends with. It would be wrong to suggest that they and their children will not face issues and have discussions that my family unit won’t have to deal with. But there is nothing stronger than a family who base their relationship as a family unit on commitment, cohesiveness and communication.

Proud Parents

2. The San Francisco Giants – I talked in a previous post about our baseball team being the first professional sports team to make a video highlighting the issue of young gay people who face bullying.

3. The SowerKemble Scott. This is a great novel, based in San Francisco, that has a strong gay, ethical theme. Kemble has also written another great novel, SOMA, that also illustrates a certain gay lifestyle.

The Sower and SOMA - Kemble Scott

4. Finally, Fernando and Greg – They host a morning radio show on 99.7FM. My eldest son and I listen and laugh when I drive him to school. We’ve had many conversations because of some of the things you guys said and I really appreciate it.

Fernando & Greg - the perfect wake up without the caffeine or calories

So whatever you are doing today – parading, parenting, watching a game, or reading a book – Happy Pride Day – and maybe this open celebration is something we can all be proud to be a part of.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

The Red Room

I recently mentioned a local author, Devorah Major, and that she is a member of Red Room. I have crossed paths with a few of their members, all very impressive people, including one of my local favorites, Kemble Scott.

I was surprised to discover that their members include Salman Rushdie, Khaled Hosseini, Thich Nhat Hanh, Stephen Colbert, Tobias Woolf and many more very familiar names.

The Red Room was founded in San Francisco by author Ivory Madison in 2002. From what I can glean from their website, The Red Room was originally created to provide an ideal physical  environment for  writers to sit down and write. Presumably, it was also a place where, in the company of other authors, one could receive support and advise from each other.

Today, The Red Room seems more of an on-line community. Authors have their own Red Room websites and blogs. Services such as editing, web and blog hosting, and numerous courses, are also offered.

Are you a Red Room author? Please share how the club has helped you. For some endorsements of Red Room from their website, click here.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

 

Left Coast Authors: Kemble Scott

I have already shared my love for San Francisco on this blog. It is a city of so many different aspects: a city that can be described as eschewing the alternative. There is nothing more alternative, more San Francisco than SoMa, the novel.

I first met Kemble Scott when he addressed the California Writers Club about his astonishing success as an ebook author. He was one of the first authors to be sold by Scribd. He is a generous man who is happy to offer advice to other writers in a friendly and humble way. He edits the SoMa Literary Review that helps promotes writers in the Bay Area.

Since his book was anything but mainstream, he found it difficult to attract reviews. So he came up with this great idea to post short clips on You Tube of the different areas that the book explores. The 25,000 views helped create a following so when the book was launched it went straight into the Bestseller lists. Here is Chapter One. Be prepared – you will probably want to check chapter 2, 3 and so on.

SoMa, by the way, is South of Market area. During the dot com era, suddenly wealthy young people moved into fashionable lofts in a neighborhood that was known for the darker side of life. Many of the side streets are named after the prostitutes that frequented them.

It remains an area of contrasts – one street boasting trendy clubs and organic grocery stores, while another is dark and used to sell drugs. Living and cruising the neighborhood are people who are pushing the limits of social norms, in terms of sexual practices and lifestyles.

Kemble often mentions his writers group as a source to keep him real. When he told his group that people advertise in Craigslist’s Bay Area ‘roommate wanted’ section to meet prospective partners, two members of the group admitted that they had found their partners in this way.

SoMa can be hard reading. What keeps you involved is the knowledge that these fictional characters exist, and exist in our city. It is the story of desensitized people who are searching for sensation, and they need to seek this in ever increasingly challenging and dangerous ways. It recognizes that this generation is overloaded with choice, with communicating through screens multitasking and absorbing images and data.

Kemble has another similar novel that challenges our views of sexual practice. The Sower, like SoMa, is really well written, with characters that stay with you long after you finish the final pages. His writing also helps paint another layer in the many textures of the San Francisco tapestry.

Here is Kemble’s speech to Google employees.

——————————————————————————————————

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

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