Events, General, Readings

I’m grateful for Bernard, my Dreamers launch bookstore manager

Alexander Books, your Indie bookstore in downtown SF

There’s a bumper sticker that reads, “What are you grateful for?”  I’m grateful for my Dreamers launch bookstore events manager. I met Bernard three years ago when I called the Alexander Book Company to see if I might have a book reading (my first ever for Sundagger.net). When I called him this year in July, Bernard said yes again, yes to the book launch, to music, to gourmet chocolate, and to including two more authors, Shelley Buck and Alice Rogoff. Yes, I’m grateful.

This last Friday I met Bernard at the NCIBA (Northern California Independent Booksellers Association) event in Oakland, CA a few streets over from the Occupy Oakland protest, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street.  Michael Moore had just spoken to us at the NCIBA. He began his talk with some inspiring observations of the Occupy Oakland encampment where he had been barely 30 minutes before, emphasizing the power and inherent hope of democratic protest. His words about the value of books and education, the lack of which leads to fear and manipulation by Wall Street and their corporate employers, really struck a chord with me.

Bernard was on his cell phone when I walked up to him at the Marriott.  A day before, we had made plans to connect after Moore’s talk, but I had left my cell phone in my car. Bernard laughed when I told him how glad I was I could recognize him after so long. Not so hard, he said, referring to the fact that he was one of a very few black men in the audience.

Michael Moore speaking at Occupy Oakland

We both agreed we were high, inspired by  Moore’s talk and OWS movement in general. Speaking for myself, I was higher yet to be with Bernard again. I wanted to give him copies of Dreamers to display in Alexander Book Company’s front window. But I had mistakenly left several books in my car at my friend, Pat’s house where I was staying that night. In fact, it was Pat who Bernard was talking to. Pat was calling to make sure Bernard and I would not miss each other and to let me know he was waiting outside in his SUV with more copies of Dreamers.

I felt so grateful when Bernard said he was hoping to sell all the books I gave him. He asked if I could I get him more? YES! I nearly screamed. When I thanked Bernard for all he was doing, he told me emphatically that anyone who comes into Alexander Book Company comes into his home. Suddenly I felt like I was part of his family.

“You are really a friend,” I told him, hanging over his shoulder, thinking of my book launch and Bernard greeting me on November 10th at the Alexander Book Company.  I’m grateful. What are you grateful for?

 Free! Come to Alexander Books for the Dreamers launch next Thursday and mention this post to receive a free Sundagger.net ebook. Just for you!

Dreamers Book Launch
November 10, 2011
12:30 – 1:30PM
Alexander Book Company
50 Second Street (Between Market & Mission) 
San Francisco, CA 94105
Tel: 415-495-2992

Events, General, Readings

A man hands an envelope to another man across a table–The Sinister Pig

So begins The Sinister Pig (2003) by the late Tony Hillerman, famed mystery writer of the Southwest. The beginning is very simple–a man hands an envelope across the table of a small cafe. The setting is Navajo Country but it could be anywhere, anytime. How mundane. How ordinary. How easy to read. This vintage Tony Hillerman beginning fascinates me–it’s deceptively simple. By the end of the first page, we are in the midst of a high-level corruption and mysterious intrigue.  In my book readings at the Sonoma County libraries on October 14th, November 2nd and 5th, I’ll be talking about this and other beginnings of Tony Hillerman mysteries.

How apt, how perfectly Tony Hillerman’s titles reflect the themes too–By page 9 of Sinister Pig we learn that the term comes from “porc sinistre”, a French phrase for “the boss pig in the sty–the one that would guard the trough and attack any animal that tried to steal a bite.” So how does the title fit in? The man who takes the envelope is someone Slate plans to hire, an ex-CIA agent whose job will be to sniff out who is syphoning oil from a pipeline system, thereby bypassing paying the $40 billion dollars in royalty money into the Interior Department’ trust fund for the Indians.

Ahh, now we know what’s in the trough and who profits by it–the federal government and those underlings who work it. We also know who doesn’t profit–another telling Hillerman theme–Native American history. Not to mention his knack for describing the big picture and the lay of contemporary United States of America where power (and crime) reside with the wealthy and their dishonest corporation underlings, and where the “War on Drugs” means war on its victims and “Protecting the Border” means hoarding the trough of addiction.

The envelope the man hands across the table is full of papers documenting a forged identity for the soon-to-be ex-CIA agent.  We only know him by his assumed name. But don’t worry, we needn’t remember it because, even with his past experience and the fifty thousand Slate transferred to a forged bank account to bankroll him, it isn’t enough to prevent this agent from being murdered by the end of the first chapter.

Which brings me to another characteristic of Tony Hillerman–murder is executed in the blink of an eye, a turn of the sentence, almost a bloodless and ghostly affair. I’ll be talking about his depiction of crime, murder and its victims too.

Now let’s look at his characters. They’re all familiar to us–Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, the retired “legendary lieutenant” Joe Leaphorn, and Chee’s down-in-the mouth girlfriend, Bernadette Manuelito, who has recently taken a job as a Customs Control Officer, posted on the Border to Mexico just to get away from Chee. Hillerman’s characters are like family–quirky, stubborn, true-to-life, and long-suffering. Mostly they’re downright sympathetic. After all, we know them well and we’re rooting for them. We believe he is rooting for them too.

In an organic way, The Sinister Pig promotes Native American values through the characters and also through the action; but how many of us know what these values are? The climax of my novel Sundagger.net happens during a vision quest in New Mexico, but I myself didn’t really understand how Native American tribes of the Southwest would view a vision quest ceremony until Tony Hillerman advised me in his letters. At the library event, I’ll be reading scenes from Sundagger.net that illustrate how I made use of his advice.

Then there are all those other Tony Hillerman themes: his sonorous desert landscapes, the technical specifics of industries such as natural gas and oil, all those pipelines, and his stylistic brilliance in using metaphor, understatement and cryptic dialogue to further an increasingly complex plot. We can talk about this in The Sinister Pig and other Hillerman novels.

So come join me at a Sonoma library and bring your favorite book or excerpt. Read a paragraph or two aloud. The anniversary of his death is coming up this month. Let’s all enjoy and commemorate Tony Hillerman together.


 

 

 

Events, General, Readings

Honoring Tony Hillerman

If you‘re like me, you loved all the Tony Hillerman books.  To honor this famed mystery writer of the Southwest, I’m having library readings at Sonoma County libraries and I’d like to invite you.  As you see, I already had one reading event on September 16th–thank you to everyone who came. It was inspiring!

Margaret C. Murray Reading in Honor of Tony Hillerman

Tony Hillerman (May 27, 1925–October 26, 2008) was an award-winning American author of detective novels and non-fiction works best known for his Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels set in the Southwest. I was very honored that he agreed to endorse my first novel, Sundagger.net, an endorsement that appears on the cover of my book.

When I had finished writing my first draft of Sundagger.net, set in the Four Corners area of New Mexico, I wrote to him to ask his opinion and thus began a correspondence that lasted until he died. I think of him as my teacher, my mentor, and my ally.  As a writer in the world, I want to be how Tony Hillerman was with me–funny, open, giving, generous, very knowledgeable, encouraging, and insistent on practice as the key to success. “Keep on writing” he told me in his letters more than once.

Tony Hillerman influenced me long before I wrote Sundagger.net. In particular, I was drawn to his stark, evocative descriptions of the Four Corners area where the four Southwest states converge–New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. There he set his Jim Chee-Joe Leaphorn mysteries, dipping in and out of  Navajo and Hopi landscapes to unveil and eliminate crime.

Tony Hillerman was the master of crafting a fascinating story. For me, all these 29 books were an “easy” read, pure enjoyment, that put me in touch with the pleasure of life. His Native American characters especially were quirky, comfortable, the kind of down-home people you could relate to–at times grumpy, jealous, self-serving, duty-driven, burdened with work, love lost, but in the end, bigger than all that and always very human. And women held a place of honor and respect.

All the Tony Hillerman mysteries unveiled a Native American point-of-view that opened my eyes to a different, deeper world. Touching on reservation life, they described traditional Navajo ceremonies and medicine men, attitudes toward death and burial, as well as political and social issues that affect us all in the bigger community, for example, the stealing of antiquities, illegal aliens, drug dealing across borders, and the embezzlement of billions owed by the federal government to the Indian nation.

Each book embraced a dimension I can only describe as quietly spiritual, based on venerating the magnificence of sky and earth. This was recently illustrated in a new coffee-table photography book, Tony Hillerman’s Landscape, written by his daughter, Anne Hillerman, that I refer to in my reading events.

Here’s a letter Tony Hillerman wrote me that I display on an overhead projector. In it, he points out different attitudes of the Navajo about modern individuality based on their Changing Woman origination story. What Changing Woman might think of a vision questAfter receiving this letter, I revised a chapter in Sundagger.net where a group from the San Francisco area set out on a camping trip to experience a vision quest of their own and end up in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, home of the ancient Anasazi. During my event, I talk about the letter and read sections from the chapter.

Please join me to honor a master of story-telling.

You are  invited to bring your favorite Hillerman book–and  to read an excerpt aloud to our audience.

Hope to see you at the library!

FREE AND OPEN TO EVERYONE.

 

Events, General, Readings

Special Event Music & Reading at Infusions Teahouse

Someone close to you just have a birthday? My granddaughter, Emma,did. Her mother is having hers next Saturday. Someone in your family getting married soon? Having a baby? Leaving home? Someone starting school? Emma’s starting kindergarten and her big sister Sophie’s going into second grade. Maybe this sounds a little like your family. We all have relatives.

Let’s celebrate with a Special “All My Relatives”Musical Event & Reading at Infusions Teahouse. Come join Chris Goslow and me. Relax and enjoy dinner, fine tea and chocolate during an evening of music and readings featuring performances by musical entertainer Chris Goslow and Sebastopol’s own, author Margaret Murray.

Saturday, September 10th
6:30-8:30PM
Infusions Teahouse
at Whole Foods Center
6988 McKinley Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
707-829-1181

Maddingly clever, soothing and entertaining music
by pianist and music artist Chris Goslow.

 

 

Margaret Murray reading from Sundagger.net,
a story of one family, two worlds, and many lifetimes.

 

 

 

Plus sneak preview reading from her new novel Dreamers, an interracial romance of the ’60s.

Free Gravenstein Apples at the door!


Events, General, Readings

So I wanted to do a reading at the solstice

Sundagger.net

I’ve been wanting to have a book reading of Sundagger.net at the summer solstice coming up  and now I’ve got three events planned, two in Sonoma and one in Sebastopol!  There’s going to be live music and video too. You’re invited to drop by for tea or coffee,more than a few good words, and to join in a celebration of the sun.

Sunday, June 19th, 1PM and 4PM
Barking Dog Roasters, Sonoma, 95476

1PM–Headquarters, 18133 Sonoma Hwy,
707.939.1905

4PM–Downtown Sonoma, 201 West Napa St
(in MarketPlace 
Shopping Center),
707.996.7446

Tuesday, June 21st 5:30PM
Infusions Teahouse @ Whole Foods Center
6988 McKinley Street, Sebastopol 95472
707-829-1181

The Solstice is a powerful time of the year, the time when the sun and the earth are closest (the summer solstice) or farthest away (the winter solstice).  Sundagger.net begins and ends in a Native American sweat lodge at a solstice! The sun dagger phenomena in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico inspired me to write the book.

The sun dagger is featured in my chapters where Rowan, the network analyst from the fictional telecom, TekGen, is hustling to jumpstart his new project, called, aptly, sundagger.net. You could say the sun is a character in my book.

I’ll be building on the solstice reading event I had at the Pinole Library last year. It began with a simple Native ceremony that included  drumming and singing Lakota sweat lodge songs. The ceremony consisted of “calling in the Four Directions” (East, South, West and North) and honoring their power. We also announced our intentions for the evening and spoke of our reasons for coming. It was really inspiring, especially with the participation of Ko Blix who showed his video Stones of Chaco Canyon, on YouTube. You can see where the sun dagger actually slices through a spiral cut in stone on a butte. The pictures of the Chaco ruins and the sun dagger in the video are awesome.  The original music by Chris Goslow that accompanies the video is eerie in its melodic synchronicity.

Events, Readings

Celebrate the Summer Sun! Bring Your Drum!

sun dagger by Michael Goslow

Summer Solstice Reading
June 14th, 2010, 7PM
Hercules Library
Hercules, CA  94547

You’re invited to a book reading I’m having of my novel, Sundagger.net, “a mystery in another dimension”, at the brand new Hercules Library. Please come! It will be held on a bright Monday evening, one week before the actual solstice on June 21st.

What is a summer solstice? It is the longest day of the year and occurs when the earth is tilted closest to the sun.

My novel begins and ends with a solstice ceremony. The title is based on an actual phenomenon that occurs at the solstices. In Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, the sun “pierces” a spiral petroglyph carved by the Anasazi at the top of a butte. The stone slabs through which the sun shines shape the light into dagger(s). One dagger shines down the center of the spiral at the summer solstice and two flank the rim at the winter solstice.

The reading will also include drumming and Native American ceremony. It will be held in a beautiful large white room in the Hercules Library with all the latest electronic equipment one might ever need. I’ll be showing slides of the amazing and colossal Chaco Canyon ruins.

As we approach the summer solstice, our energies will be high and our intention strong. Together we will manifest ourselves. Come celebrate. Bring your drum!

Sun Dagger Piercing Spiral Petroglyph, Chaco Canyon, NM
Sun Dagger Piercing Spiral Petroglyph, Chaco Canyon, NM
Events, Readings

Video interview with the author

I’m outside the Pinole Library. I’ve just finished my “Event with the Author,”  reading from my novel and showing slides of Chaco Canyon World Heritage Center in New Mexico.  Looking at myself is humbling and yet–can you tell?–I’m proud too. Ha!  Life is wonderful. Everything comes to pass. I’ve started writing my next book. I’m 25 pages into the unknown that is the prequel to Sundagger.net. My working title is Center of the World—that’s what the Anasazi must have felt. It’s where we’re all at, don’t you think?

Readings

Press Release – Evening with the Author

Pinole, California –Local author Margaret Murray will read from her new book, Sundagger.net, on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, at the Pinole Public Library, 2935 Pinole Valley Road, from 6:30—7:30PM. There will be Indian drumming and a slideshow of the ruins of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Snacks will be served and the admission is free.

Contact: David Zwicker, 415-309-5036, [email protected]

Sometimes it takes more than one lifetime.“In her Sundagger.net, Margaret Murray gives us a mystery novel in a new dimension moving us from Post 9/11 Silicon Valley to the Ancient Anasazi of the Southwest,” wrote famed mystery writer, Tony Hillerman.

A story of one family, two worlds and many lifetimes, Sundagger.net is independently published by WriteWords Press, which Murray started two years ago. “For me, the journey to the magical world of books began in a library and now I have the chance to read my own work there,” Murray states. The sun dagger refers to an actual occurrence where a ray of light appears during solstices and equinoxes at the top of a butte in Chaco Canyon, piercing a spiral carved in stones centuries ago. “Clearly it had spiritual and religious meaning for the Native Americans,” explains Murray. “It also refers to the technology that powers the internet and drives the telecom industry of Silicon Valley—which leads to a theme of my book—Sometimes It Takes More Than One Lifetime.”

Margaret Murray was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University and Hunter College. She attended the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center on an American Federation of the Arts fellowship and the Squaw Valley Screenwriters Conference on a National Endowment for the Arts grant. A technical writer and teacher, she has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years and in Pinole for the last eight.

photo by shelley buck

For more information: Phone the library: (510) 759-2741.
On the web: www.sundagger.net