Text by Diane Slocum


hether or not we can travel this month and set our feet on unfamiliar soil, we can always rely on books to take us on adventures to exotic locations. The catch is that while the strength of the stories can make us glad that we made the trip, we’re grateful that it was only in our imaginations.

The opposite of a light-hearted adventure, “The Girl with the Louding Voice” takes us on quite a journey. In Abi Daré’s debut novel, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl, Adunni, wants to get an education and become a teacher. Instead, she is first sold into marriage to a much older man who wants a son, then is trapped in a life of servitude to a family that abuses her. Through it, she doesn’t give up hope that she can prevail, for herself and the other girls in similar circumstances.

In Ruth Ware’s “The Turn of the Key,” Rowan gets a live-in nanny position with fabulous pay for a perfect family in their luxurious home in the verdant Scottish Highlands. But her dream job turns into a nightmare when a child dies and she is accused of murder.

Northern Ireland doesn’t get off any easier in “Milkman” by Anna Burns. The Troubles are raging in the late 1970s, and middle sister is urged to avoid some of the eccentric things she does so as not to call attention to herself. Not being noticed is a key to survival where the “renouncers” have become gangs, the police are no help, and girls must defer to males.


James Tyner was named Fresno’s first poet laureate in 2013. He is a graduate of Fresno State’s master of fine arts program. His thesis, “Baptized in Dirt,” received the Outstanding Thesis Award. His chapbook is titled “The Ghetto Exorcist.” His poetry has been published in journals such as Avatar Review and Coal Hill Review. He has also been included in several anthologies. He works for the Fresno County Library and this year judged the children’s entries in the library’s 21st annual Poetry Contest. The digital awards ceremony was held in June. Tyner has traveled throughout the nation to speak about his library programs.


According to Pew Research, nearly two-thirds of readers get their book recommendations from friends and family. About one-fourth get their suggestions from websites. Another quarter rely on staffers at bookstores, and another 20 percent get recommendations from librarians. (Some readers are in more than one category.)

According to Penguin Random House, 42 percent buy their books online, 15 percent from chain bookstores and 6 percent from independent bookstores. Smaller percentages come from book and warehouse clubs. Most books purchased are adult fiction, followed by juvenile books, adult nonfiction, academic works, religion, scientific, technical and medical.

Survey Monkey found that while the majority of its respondents read both print and e-books, print books are still favored over e-books.


Jericho Writers Summer Festival of Writing continues through Sept. 20. It is billed as “a groundbreaking digital festival for writers all over the world.” Although the festival began in June, there is much more in store for the remaining months. A small sampling of the topics is: For July, “How to Actually Revise a Whole Book” with Rachel Herron and “Unpacking the Submission Package” with Imogen Pelham. August includes “Writing the Stories You Want to Read” with Yvonne Battle-Felton and “How to Self-Publish Well” with Roz Morris.

In September, Sophie Hannah tells “How to Make Writing Dreams a Reality.” Details at: jerichowriters.com/the-summer-festival-of-writing-2020-v2/.


As of this writing, the North Coast Redwoods Writers’ Conference was scheduled for Sept 25-26. Please check ncrwc.org/ for updates. The location is College of the Redwoods, Del Norte, in Crescent City./


Terrain.org’s 11th annual contest will accept submissions until Sept. 6 (Labor Day). Poetry submissions should include three to five poems or one long poem. Fiction and nonfiction entries may be one 5,000-word story or up to three flash stories. A cover letter is required. Fee is $15. Details at: terrain.org/submit/contest-guidelines/


“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)