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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

 

2006 Festival of Women Authors and Author Highlight: Linda Peterson

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the 2006 Festival of Women Authors, a fundraising event presented by the Berkeley YWCA. The Berkeley YWCA's goals are elimination of racism, empowerment of women, and leadership development. As an organization, it "has been providing programs and services for UC Berkeley students and the greater community for over 117 years."

This year's annual Festival of Women Authors was a well-attended event. Hundreds of women filled the banquet room at the Emeryville Holiday Inn, and the excitement in the room was palpable as lovers of literature—readers and writers—came together in an appreciation of the craft and those who craft it. I was invited to the all-day event by my friend Karen and I enjoyed myself immensely.

Featured at this year's festival were authors Linda Peterson, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Carol Field, and Karen Joy Fowler. Starting today, I will highlight each of these fantastic authors and personalities. Ready? Today, meet...

Linda Peterson

Linda Peterson is the author of Edited to Death, a mystery set in San Francisco. From the press release:

Edited to Death is a delicious whodunit packed with glitterati intrigue, crisp dialogue and quirky characters, set against the glamour and eccentricity of a wonderfully nuanced San Francisco. Deftly weaving the angst of modern motherhood and marital remorse with real insight into the fated workings of the human psyche, Edited to Death is an effervescent concoction of humor, regret, and deception.

Edited to Death is Peterson's first novel although she has written several non fiction books and has been a writer for most of her professional life.

At the festival, she explained that she learned three things after writing Edited and while promoting it:
1. Everybody loves San Francisco, whether they've lived there or not.
2. Libraries are an author's friend. She found this out after Library Journal gave her book a good review. In short, if the review in the journal is favorable—as hers was—library systems across the world will purchase the book.
3. You cannot outwit your readers.

Peterson is an energetic and engaging speaker, and she spoke to the room about the craft of writing fiction as the joy of rearranging the world the way you want it to be and the act of writing as an excuse to break rules and to transform lives. "How, as writers, we are witnesses to what goes on around us in the world," and how, from the struggle of writing and reading, comes the blessing.

At the request of an audience member, Peterson explained that she found her agent, Amy Rennert of the Amy Rennert Agency, through word of mouth. Friends of hers who knew that Rennert used to be co-editor of San Francisco Focus magazine thought Peterson's book would be a good fit because the heroine of Peterson's book is an editor of a San Francisco magazine. Peterson sent a query letter, plot summary, and sample chapter of her book to Rennert and Rennert "loved it."

As the author of a previous non fiction book, Chronicle Book's On Flowers, Peterson left us with the recipe for:

Nasturtium Pizza

1. Take a pizza shell. (Either one you made or Boboli, she won't tell.)
2. Spread pesto sauce on it. (Either sauce you made or you bought, she won't tell.)
3. Cook.
After removing from oven, sprinkle the top with nasturtium flowers and smaller leaves.

Note: Make sure you obtain your nasturtium flowers from a grocer and do not use ones you found growing on the highway median, which may have been sprayed with pesticides.


The next free weekend night I have, I'm going to bake me that pizza and settle myself into a cozy chair with Peterson's book, the pizza, and a goblet bottle of red wine. I can't wait!

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