An Authors’ Panel FAIRE(Y) TALES for Grown-Ups

Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse presents a panel discussion, Faire(y) Tales For Grown-ups, featuring four L.A.-based authors on Thursday, May 26 at 7pm. The panel is moderated by Renaissance Faire fan Petrea Burchard. Joining her are Faire participants Greg Bell, Corey Holst and Maggie Secara. Together they will share insights about their books, and explore the popularity of fantasy and why millions of adults immerse themselves in imaginative worlds like the Renaissance Faire. Musician Holllienea, herself a Faire feature, performs live harp music before the program and during the signing that follows.

The authors and their works:

Looking for WillLooking for Will: My Bardic Quest with Shakespeare by Greg Bell chronicles a lifelong journey through the ghosts of the past toward William Shakespeare. He is a Shakespearean actor who calls himself “archaeologist of the invisible,” as he tracks the trajectory toward his internationally acclaimed solo play, Alms for Oblivion. Bell’s experience playing Shakespeare at Renaissance Faire has had a profound effect on him. He now facilitates the Green Poets Workshop at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center.

Camelot and VineIn Petrea Burchard’s book Camelot & Vine, a failing Hollywood actress flies through a gap in time and accidentally saves King Arthur’s life. Love might be possible, if only the Dark Ages weren’t such a perilous time for an actress with an honesty problem. Burchard is a voice actor and author. If you’re an anime fan you’ll know her as the voice of Ryoko, the sexy space pirate in the anime classic, Tenchi Muyo.

Defender of the RealmCorey Holst’s book Defender of the Realm portrays the fictional castle-town of Dansford poised on the edge of the Welsh frontier in 12th C. England. During a daring night attack, a simple merchant inadvertently becomes a hero and is taken on a journey of self-discovery. A native of Southern California, Holst graduated from CSULB with a degree in Theatrical Design, and has been working behind the scenes in live theatre for over thirty years.

The Dragon RingThe Dragon Ring is Book 1 in Maggie Secara’s Harper Errant series. In the story, reality TV host Ben Harper owes the Faerie king a favor. Paying that debt takes him through the wolf-haunted forests of Viking Age Wessex and the rowdy back streets of Shakespeare’s London. Through his adventures, he rediscovers his own gifts while facing the queen of Faerie, who will do anything to stop him. Secara is a historian and a poet wholse lifelong research project, A Compendium of Common Knowledge 1558-1603, was published in 2008.

Faire(y) Tales for Grown-Ups was conceived by Petrea Burchard and Greg Bell, to coincide with Renaissance Pleasure Faire season (April 9 – May 22 at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale, CA). The term “Renaissance” connotes “re-birth,” specifically as it relates to art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to the 17th century, marking the transition from the medieval to the modern world. Though not all confined their books to the centuries ascribed to the Renaissance, Burchard, Holst, and Secara have studied the era in order to create their own dynamic fantasies, while Bell has focused on real events surrounding the life and times of the period’s icon, the Bard himself, William Shakespeare.

Flintridge Bookstore

Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse is located at 1010 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011, at the intersection of Foothill Blvd. and the Angeles Crest Hwy. Take the Angeles Crest exit off the 210, turn south, make a right onto Foothill Blvd., and turn left onto Chevy Chase. Parking is in the rear of the store. For more information, call (818) 790-0717 or go to


Jillian Keenan Releases New Book: Sex with Shakespeare

Jillian KeenanFrom the press release:

“In one of the season’s most mesmerizing, absurdly witty, and provocative memoirs – Sex with Shakespeare – Jillian Keenan recounts how she came to understand love and relationships through 14 selected works of Shakespeare.

Four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death, Keenan’s smart and thoughtful memoir brings new interpretations to his work. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Keenan unmasks Helena as a sexual masochist – like Jillian herself. In Macbeth, she examines criminalized sexual identities and the dark side of ‘privacy.’ The Taming of the Shrew goes inside the secret world of bondage, domination, and sadomasochism, while King Lear exposes the ill-fated king as a possible sexual predator. Moving through the canon, Keenan makes it abundantly clear that literature is a conversation. In Sex with Shakespeare, words are love.

With heart, humor, and unwavering knowledge of the Bard himself, Jillian Keenan discusses the fraught topics of love, romance, sexuality, and above all, the differences between our most private and public selves. Sex With Shakespeare is a tale that inspires an unwavering understanding and acceptance.

As a literary nerd, a pop culture enthusiast, and former dramaturg (in Singapore and London), Jillian lives and breathes Shakespeare. She received her BA and MA from Stanford and has written on topics from human rights to sexuality for numerous publications such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Washington Post, Slate, Foreign Policy, Marie Claire, and The Atlantic. ”

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“You may have studied Shakespeare in high school, but it’s almost guaranteed that your literary analysis wasn’t anything like this! Interspersed with revelatory passages of close literary reading and exposition on Shakespeare’s work are revealing passages of a different nature—the author’s own story as she comes to terms with her sexual identity.” –Library Journal

“Visceral, funny, and perceptive, this startling and very personal take on Shakespeare is genuinely revealing—not only about the author, but even more about the plays. Keenan notices and responds to things that criticism on the whole ignores. An enjoyable and impressive book.” –Stephen Orgel, Ph.D., Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor in Humanities at Stanford University and author of Imagining Shakespeare

“Keenan’s intimate conversations with Shakespeare offer new and often startling insights into his plays. They are also deeply moving, and deeply courageous, challenging us to rethink sexuality in fundamental ways.” –Ania Loomba, Ph.D., Catherine Bryson Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism

By Jillian Keenan
On Sale April 26, 2016
ISBN: 9780062378712
ISBN 10: 0062378716
Imprint: William Morrow
Pages: 352

Shakespeare’s Guide to Parenting, a new book by James Andrews

Shakespeare's Guide to ParentingParenting Tips from William Shakespeare? Why not! In this witty new book from James Andrews, you’ll find all the advice you need for any parenting dilemma. The handy collection draws solutions from Shakespeare’s most beloved works, from Hamlet to King Lear to Much Ado About Nothing to the Sonnets, extracting lines that hilariously illustrate the answer to any parenting problem. After all, he did have three children of his own. For example…

Your thirsty toddler wakes you up at 3AM. Shakespeare describes your thoughts perfectly:

“What cursed foot wanders this way tonight?” –Romeo and Juliet

Your son throws a booze party, crashes the car, or commits some other vaguely humiliating infraction or minor illegal act. Shakespeare feels your pain:

“Good wombs have borne bad sons.” –The Tempest

Organized by periods from newborn nightmares to teenage trials, Shakespeare’s Guide to Parenting is a must for every literary parent or parent-to-be. If you want the last word with your kids, nothing beats a quote from Shakespeare.

Available by pre-order now. On sale November 10, 2015.

by James Andrews
On Sale: November 10, 2015
ISBN: 9780062442512
ISBN 10: 0062442511
Dey Street Books, An Imprint of HarperCollins
Hardcover or E-book
List Price: 19.99/9.99
160 Pages
Click Here to purchase

Book Signing and Discussion with Andrea Chapin, Author of THE TUTOR

The Tutor Author Andrea Chapin will be appearing at Diesel, A Bookstore in Santa Monica on Sunday, April 19 at 3:00 pm for a book signing and discussion of her novel, The Tutor. I’m eighty pages into the book, which is a fascinating fictional account of what could have happened during one of Shakespeare’s “lost years” (1585-1592). Chapin’s writing is elegantly accessible and weaves historical details into a plot that brings together a young William Shakespeare and the beautiful widow, Katharine de L’Isle at a crucial period in the playwright’s career.

Katharine quietly fills her days with the books she loves and time with her extended family at Lufanwal Hall, the home of her uncle, Sir Edward. But when the family’s priest, who had been performing Catholic services in secret, is found murdered, Sir Edward faces death threats and is forced to flee the country. At the same time, an audacious new schoolmaster arrives from Stratford who is coarse, quick-witted, and brazenly flirtatious. Put off by his behavior but drawn to his gift with words, the two begin an unlikely relationship that becomes the inspiration for his erotic poem, Venus and Adonis.

It’s a match of wits befitting a Shakespearean tale; one that is full of romance, mystery, and Elizabethan intrigue. Here’s a passage from the book to pique your interest:


A Random Encounter in Griffith Park Leads to New Friends and These Family Resources for You. Happy Holidays!

ISC in the park2

As you’d expect, I see a lot of Shakespeare in Los Angeles, especially in the summertime when you can find a myriad of productions being performed outdoors under the stars. This past summer, two of our friends cancelled at the last minute so we found ourselves with a couple of open chairs for Independent Shakespeare Co.’s production of Twelfth Night. The Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival is a tremendously popular destination for families so the crowd was quite large on that particular night. Not wanting the chairs to go to waste, I walked to the back edges of the crowd and randomly asked a young family of three if they would like to join us.

Surprised, but happy to see it from closer up, they joined us and we ended up having a lovely conversation about Shakespeare (they had a young daughter). Turns out they’ve gone to many productions around the city and are always on the lookout for those that would be fun for the whole family. What are the chances, right?

It shouldn’t have surprised me because if there’s one thing you can be sure of at an ISC production, it’s that you’re bound to meet your neighbors on the blanket next to you and even make new friends when you least expect it. That’s the community fellowship ISC has always encouraged. (And thanks, Kelley, Juliana and Robb Fritz for becoming our new Shakespeare friends!)

Kelley shared a few of her favorite juvenile Shakespeare resources with us and I thought those of you with children might also be interested in them. Enjoy!

Animated Video
BBC Shakespeare: The Animated Tales or

You can sample them HERE

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

Tales From Shakespeare by Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb (Authors), Joëlle Jolivet (Illustrator)

Naxos Audiobooks
Stories from Shakespeare v. 1, 2, 3 and The Plantagenets

And if you’re looking for some fun Shakespeare projects that are downloadable for free to pass the time over the holidays, here are a few links you might like to check out that I’ve found on my online travels. Happy Holidays one and all!

Make a color or B&W Paper Model of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London

Download a Shakespeare Plays Word Search Puzzle

Print or color online a William Shakespeare Coloring Page

Download a set of 5 Shakespeare Notebook Pages

Become the Bard with this Free Shakespeare Mask

First Person: Mel Ryane Shares Her Thoughts About “Teaching Will”

By Mel Ryane

Why Shakespeare?

I was recently asked why I thought that teaching little kids to tackle the works of William Shakespeare would be a swell idea. And why did I write a book about it? And what was that like?

In King Lear, Shakespeare places his protagonist in the torrents of a colossal storm. The withered King bellows in rage as he is battered by wind and rain, his voice drowned by thunder, his body lit by flashes of lightning. It is here that Lear meets both his inner and outer demons. The scene is one of reckoning and is a most beautiful metaphor for any of us attempting to manage the tricky business being a person.

Here are two things I know:

1. Nothing worth doing is easy.
2. Nobody gets the life they thought they wanted.  More

Book Review: Mel Ryane’s Funny, Touching Memoir TEACHING WILL

Teaching Will

A Guest Review by Emily Rome

Having a friend who’s a teacher or a parent and also a talented storyteller is a great gift; you know you’re always in for some good stories about kiddos when you’re with this friend. That’s how Mel Ryane’s memoir, Teaching Will, feels – like she’s a friend animatedly telling you charming stories of her classroom while you catch up during brunch. But the book is also packed with enough smart structure and language to be a story that’s a pleasure to read, rather than simply hear over coffee.

Teaching Will: What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me That Hollywood Couldn’t is Ryane’s hilarious and touching tale of her time leading a Shakespeare Club at a Title 1 elementary school in Los Angeles. With a background in acting and dialogue coaching but not teaching full classrooms of children, Ryane started the club when a flyer on her doorstep pleaded for volunteers to help at the local elementary school.

It’s a book that teachers, parents, actors, child psychologists (Ryane shares fascinating looks into the minds of these kids) and, of course, lovers of Shakespeare will enjoy, especially anyone who had the joy of discovering Shakespeare as a child and wants to relive that discovery.  More

Book Review: Diane Haithman Kills in Dark Lady of Hollywood

Dark Lady of Hollywood 2It was only natural that former Los Angeles Times writer and current Deadline|Hollywood contributor Diane Haithman would one day turn the tables on the town she has covered with such precision for the last 25+ years. A writer after my own heart, she also knows her Shakespeare Ps and Qs.

In Dark Lady of Hollywood, Haithman uses her insider’s insight and razor-sharp wit to create a feisty new contemporary novel that blends the two worlds into a hilariously gratifying page-turner of epic sitcom proportions.

With meticulous delight, she appropriates elements from Shakespeare’s plays – a twist of a phrase here; a nod to a character there – to create an unending stream of plot developments that will keep you laughing at every turn. It’s smart, sassy writing and wholly entertaining from beginning to end. Romance, intrigue, mystery and mayhem; yes, there’s even a dog.

When you’re a 36-year-old straight white male TV executive in LA, life pretty much submits to your will. At least it did for Ken Harrison, a sitcom exec who loves Shakespeare’s tragedies…until he becomes fortune’s fool. No longer a big Hollywood hotshot, he has just been demoted to the studio graveyard of Movies and Minis, where all formerly favored suits go to die. The irony of that edict will become immediately clear to the reader in chapter one but, for the purpose of not cheating you of any of the delicious details, I’ll let you discover that on your own.  More

Book Review: Twisted Lit Reinvents Romeo & Juliet in ANYONE BUT YOU

Anyone but you book coverLove and Pizza…and Shakespeare! That’s what authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes have cooked up Chicago-style in ANYONE BUT YOU, book three of their popular Twisted Lit series for young adults. Each of the stand-alone books takes a classic Shakespearean story and spins it into a modern tale that is fresh and fun for today’s teen (or anyone in the mood for an entertaining, light summer read).

For Anyone But You, it is the love story of Romeo and Juliet, but the authors do much more than simply transport the star-crossed pair to present day. They also flash back to the 1930s and ’40s to uncover what originally caused the feud between the families and offer a satisfying alternate ending to the original’s tragic conclusion.

Best of all, it doesn’t matter if you know the complete Romeo and Juliet story or not. If you do, you’ll have the added fun of seeing the smart ways they reinvent characters and events to parallel the original, but if you don’t, you’ll get a clever, sweet, and altogether charming tale of young love and the power it has to overcome all odds.  More

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