Author's Lunch in Marina Del Rey, May 19th

Author's Lunch in Marina Del Rey, May 19th

Join us for lunch with four accomplished authors to hear first-hand about their experiences in the publishing world.  Craig Tomashoff (MSJ '85),   J. Ryan Stradal (Northwestern '98),  Toni Gallagher (Northwestern '87)  and Thomas Greanias (BSJ/MSJ '87) will discuss their most recent works and offer advice to aspiring writers.

Seating is limited. Admission includes a buffet lunch.  More information and advance tickets here.

Sponsored by the Medill Club of Southern California. 

New short story in CNET

My three-part short story "Time in a Bottle," about a young woman whose life is changed at the intersection of legendary wine and unspeakable grief, is up in full on the CNET website, as the final installation of their "Technically Literate" series.

Read the full story here.

826LA Holiday Lit Mart

826LA Holiday Lit Mart

I'm honored to appear with authors Cecil Castellucci, Rico Gagliano, Meg Howrey, Lilliam Rivera, and Chris Terry on Saturday, December 9th at 826LA's Holiday Lit Mart. Come on by, listen to some stories, and enjoy a festive Saturday afternoon with us! 


This week in South Dakota

Two events coming up this week in western South Dakota:

A reading & signing with a traditional Lakota meal at 5:00 pm on Wednesday 9/20 at Racing Magpie.

The One Book South Dakota keynote address  at 11:00 am on Saturday 9/25 as part of the South Dakota Festival of Books.

If you're local or in the area for the festival, I hope you can swing by.

It's been a hell of a year and all of the events so far in South Dakota have been wonderful. Huge thanks to the South Dakota Humanities Council and the Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau for their support.




Sumarr Reading Series at The Pop-Hop

This Sunday, August 20th, I'm joining this lineup for an afternoon of readings & music at The Pop-Hop bookstore in Highland Park.

Readings from:


Music from:

For more information, and to RSVP, check out the Sumarr Reading Series  FB event page , or visit the Pop-Hop site.

Los Angeles Reading

This Thursday, I'm reading with Why There Are Words Los Angeles (and four amazing local writers) at Kaffebarren in downtown LA. If you're here in southern California, I hope you can come by.

Library event in Fishers, Indiana

If you're in the Indianapolis area this weekend, I hope you can join me this Saturday at my first ever book-related stop in Indiana, at the Hamilton East Public Library  in Fishers. I'll be talking, reading a little bit, answering as many questions as possible, and signing books. 

More info and advance ticket sales here.

South Dakota Tour News

The South Dakota Humanities Council, as part of selecting Kitchens of the Great Midwest for their One Book South Dakota program, is sponsoring three food & reading events with me this month, in Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Pierre. Here's information on all the events, and advance tickets .  

There's also a  brand new interview   with me about "Kitchens" and my personal love for South Dakota, by Ryan Woodard of the South Dakota Humanities Council.

If you're in or close to eastern and central South Dakota, I hope to see you next week -- until then, thank you, as always , for the support!


December appearances

Thursday, December 1st, 7:00 pm:

Third Kirchner Lecture featuring Beth Dooley and J. Ryan Stradal

At the Cowles Auditorium, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, The University of Minnesota (Twin Cities campus)

Full details here.


Sunday, December 4th, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm:

Linden Hills Winter Market book sale, signing, and meet & greet, sponsored by Excelsior Books

At Sunnyside Gardens, 3723 W. 44th St. Minneapolis, MN 55410


Tuesday, December 6th, 7:00 pm:

Conversation with Susan Straight (and dessert bars contest, judged by me)

At The Last Bookstore,  453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Full details here.

Tour of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria in November

Next week begins my Kitchens of the Great Midwest tour in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. If you'll be near any of these places, or know someone who may be, here are the dates/times/venues:


Tuesday 11/8:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader/host: Bartholomäus Sailer

Buch & Café Lentner Balanstraße 14 D-81669 München


Wednesday 11/9:

6:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language only

Host: Ms. Gesa Schneider (director literature house Zurich)

Café BANK, Helvetiaplatz CH-8004 Zürich


Thursday 11/10:

7:30 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Steffen Nowak Host: Ms. Pat Götz

Buchhandlung Lesebar Schloßstraße 8/2 D-88416 Ochsenhausen


Friday 11/11:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Steffen Nowak; Host: Ms. Pat Götz

Ehinger Buchladen, Hauptstraße 46 D-89584 Ehingen (Donau)


Saturday 11/12:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Robert Gwisdek

Backfabrik Clinker Lounge, Saarbrücker Straße 36-38 D-10405 Berlin


Monday 11/14:

7:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language with a culinary setting

German reader: Mr. Heinrich Baumgärtner

Buchhandlung Heyn, Kramergasse 2-4, A-9020 Klagenfurt


Tuesday 11/15:

8:00 PM Reading of Kitchens of the Great Midwest in English language

German reader: Mr. Moritz Stöpel

Buchhandlung Bollinger, Hohemarktstraße 151, D-61440 Oberursel

The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association names "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" the top fiction book of 2016

I'm completely floored. I can't tell you what it means to win this award from my local booksellers, whose recommendations and community have actively made me a better reader and writer over my seventeen years in Los Angeles. 

Huge thanks in particular to Skylight Books, {pages}: a bookstore, Warwick's, Vroman's, Diesel Bookstore, Small World Books, Stories, The Last Bookstore, Chevalier's, and the deeply missed Dutton's for the support over the years. I would not be the writer or person I am without you.

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association votes "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" the top fiction book of the year

I'm truly floored to hear this news today from the Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards.  I've been a lover of the independent bookstores in my home region since I could read, and my lifelong dream was just to have a reason to read at one of them someday -- I never thought in a million years that they'd vote to give me an award for a book I wrote. I'm deeply honored, thankful for the support, and completely beside myself.

Thank you again, so much,  to the independent bookstore owners and staff   who believed   in a strange book from an obscure debut author, and helped   it find its readers. It doesn't happen without you.

See you at the Heartland Fall Forum on October 5th!



Two Award Nominations for "Kitchens."

I'm completely beside myself to announce that Kitchens of the Great Midwest has been named a finalist in two awards this summer  -- the 2016 SCIBA Book Awards and Late Night Library's 2016 Debut-litzer Prize.  As an unknown debut author, it's a blessing to have readers at all, let alone award nominations, and I'm blown away by the extremely kind support from the booksellers of Southern California and the great Late Night Library folks up in Portland. Whatever happens, it's pretty overwhelming and surreal just to be in this situation.

Hot Dish Reading Series returns to 826LA in August, featuring Unnamed Press

HOT DISH RETURNS. After a long hiatus, Summer Block and J. Ryan Stradal are bringing Hot Dish Reading Series   back to 826LA. The food theme is SALADS. Have a fun summer salad idea? Have a disheartening salad idea? A throwback salad? A healthy salad? An ironic salad? Bring one and bring your appetite -- and let us know via our public Facebook invite so we can avoid tragic salad redundancies.

The reading will feature four writers associated with Los Angeles' exciting new Unnamed Press  -- staff member Zinzi Clemmons, authors Margaret Wappler  and Debbie Graber, and editor-at-large J. Ryan Stradal,  along with two additional small-press California writers, historical fiction writer Gina Mulligan   (author of Remember The Ladies)  and novelist Joseph Mattson (author of Empty The Sun).

Where: 826LA, 1714 W. Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026.  Doors at 5:00 pm. Starts around 5:30 pm or whenever everyone's had a bite to eat and a glass of wine and looks ready to hear some stories. 

$5.00 at the door to benefit 826LA. The authors' books will also be for sale at the Echo Park Time Travel Mart  with the proceeds going to support 826LA   as well. Cheap parking in the back. There will, as always, be an intermission.

More info to come. Until then, if you're around Los Angeles in late August, please save the date of Saturday, August 27th -- and hope to see you there.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest US paperback tour dates

I'd be extremely grateful to see you in one of these cities this summer.



Tuesday, June 7th – PLEASANTON, CA The Wine Steward, 3:00 pm

Tuesday, June 7th – DANVILLE, CA Rakestraw Books, 7:00 pm

Wednesday, June 8th – POULSBO, WA The Loft Restaurant ,7:00 pm

Thursday, June 9th – SEATTLE, WA University Bookstore, 7:00 pm

Friday, June 10th – HOUSTON, TX Blue Willow Bookshop, 7:00 pm

Saturday, June 11th – SAN ANTONIO, TX Twig Bookshop, 2:00 pm

Sunday, June 12th – ST. LOUIS, MO Left Bank Books, 2:00 pm

Monday, June 13th – EXCELSIOR, MN Excelsior Chamber of Commerce, 7:00 pm

Tuesday, June 14th – ELM GROVE, WI Elm Grove Library, 6:30 pm

Wednesday, June 15th – BEREA, OH Cuyahoga County Library, 7:00 pm

Thursday, June 16th – LAKE FOREST, IL Lake Forest Bookstore, 6:30 pm

Friday, June 17th – WICHITA, KS Watermark Books, 6:00 pm

Saturday, June 25th – SAN DIEGO, CA The Westgate Hotel, 1:00 pm



Sunday, July 3rd – HUDSON, WI Chapter2 Books, 12:00 pm

Sunday, July 3rd – HASTINGS, MN The Bierstube, 5:00 pm

Tuesday, July 12th – SACRAMENTO, CA CapRadio Reads, 6:00 pm

Wednesday, July 27th – CHAMPAIGN, IL Champaign Public Library, 7:00 pm

Thursday, July 28th – WORTHINGTON, OH Worthington Library, 6:00 pm


More details for all of these events in the calendar. Thanks again for the support, and I hope to catch you on the road this year.