Small Press Love
Jun 21, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
I’ve been reading a lot in recent months. I set a challenge for myself last fall to read a book a week. I haven’t been able to keep up every week, but I’ve done pretty well so far. Part of the reason for the challenge was trying to figure out Instagram—it turns out that it’s super fun to take pretty pictures of books. And, once the snow went away, it became super fun to take pictures of books in my garden. But it was also a way to wake up the reader in me, to remember that I became a writer through being a reader first.
Jun 01, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
As many of you know, Pigs finally has a cover.
I love it. It’s out in galleys now (bound, uncorrected proofs that publishers send to reviewers and bookstores before the actual book is printed). I haven’t seen the galleys in real life yet, but a friend sent a picture of one that she came across at Book Expo this past week, and it looks beautiful, even from far away.
The Perfect Craft Book (it's not Wonderbook, even though I love Wonderbook, too)
May 11, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
A few years ago, having become aware of some gaps in my education, I started reading craft books about writing. There are a lot of them out there, and some of them are very good.
Apr 27, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
I’ve always had a fascination with ghost stories. I love the idea of something being present that is real, and that you can feel, but that you can’t quite see—and even if you could see it, you couldn’t know it in the way you know other things in life. I had a dream, once, while sleeping in a strange bed in a strange house, that a man came and showed me around the room. He opened drawers, and folded clothes, and put them away, gesturing to me how it should be done. When I woke in the morning and told me host, he showed me a picture: the man of the dream was the man who had died in the bed I’d been sleeping in.
A Cake for Passover
Apr 13, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
When I was twenty-six, and living in Seattle, and in my first year of graduate school, my fellow grad school friend and I decided to host a Passover Seder. We were both far from home, both living in a city that made it feel unexpectedly strange to be a Jew, and, as new friends, it felt good to have a project to work on together. Invitations were sent. Ten or so people from our program agreed to come. My friend and I split up cooking tasks.
Misadventures in Publishing: AWP Edition
Apr 02, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
I spent three days in Portland this past week, attending the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) annual conference. It’s only the second time I’ve been. The first time was five years ago, in Seattle. My kids were small and my mother came with me to help, and we stayed in a bed and breakfast on Capitol Hill, and the kids and my mom went to the Pacific Science Center while I attended panels, and I felt the whole time like I was missing out on the good stuff, no matter where I was.
Shaping Beauty from the Dying World
Mar 22, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
Exactly a year ago, the New York Times published a story using images from The Ocean Cleanup about the crap found in our oceans.
Augusta Sparks Farnum is Going. Are You Coming?
Mar 16, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
When I first moved to Walla Walla thirteen years ago, I thought I would never find a way into the landscape. We arrived, by plane, in August. Looking out the window as we flew from Seattle east across Washington state, it was easy to see the world changing: snow covered mountains, green sloping hills, then brown with the occasional circle of irrigation green. There were fires in the mountains that August, as there are almost every August now, and when we arrived at our new house, there was a dusting of ash on the porch.
Keep an Eye on the Weather
Mar 09, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
It’s been snowy here for over a month. It’s never snowy here in March. Walla Walla is a place where the winters are gray, and fog freezes, but the occasional snow disappears pretty much as quickly as it comes. And it’s also, usually, a place where spring comes early. When my husband visited Walla Walla in March fourteen years ago to interview for his job, he called me and said there were trees already in bloom. We were living for the year in Arkansas, where it was springtime, too. I was eight and a half months pregnant, wondering if the baby would be born while he was away, and it seemed like every time I ventured outside, more flowers had opened: the whole world was making itself beautiful for the baby.
On First Sentences
Mar 02, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
I’m getting ready to give a talk at the Walla Walla Public Library about Charlotte’s Web this Wednesday. (And please, unseasonable snowstorm predicted for next week, hold off at least until Thursday!) The talk is going to focus on reading like a writer: that is, reading E. B. White’s novel to figure out how it’s made. This is something that I think a lot of writers do when they come across a piece of writing that they’re blown away by. They try to figure out what tricks the writer used in its construction and make it work so well.
Living Restlessly Inside a Father's Love
Feb 22, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
One of the great gifts of the past five years is a book I was given by someone I think of as my reading mentor. I feel unbelievably fortunate to have a mentor in this regard. He’s been recommending books to me since I was fifteen, and still, in middle age, there is no one I would rather turn to when asking what to read next than him. The book? The Essays of Leonard Michaels.
The Dress Contains a Story
Feb 16, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
When I was in my twenties, I interned at an arts advocacy organization in Seattle. I mostly spent my time there filing and sorting mail. Most of what came in the mail were press releases for gallery openings. I spent a lot of time looking at the images on those press releases, trying to figure out what made something draw me towards it, what made something push me away. One day, a card came in with a photograph of a dress printed on its surface.
Welcome to My Blog
Feb 13, 2019 by Johanna Stoberock
Here goes—and welcome! I’m thinking about this space as a kind of public diary, a record of the months leading up to the publication of my novel, Pigs (Red Hen Press, October 2019), but also a record of the things in the world that shape me as a writer.