No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

“A word after a word after a word is power.” ― Margaret Atwood

January 14, 2019

Geraldine Brooks 

Margit and Shayne

“A word after a word after a word is power.”
Margaret Atwood

Sadly, all good things must come to an end and the conclusion of the 2019 Key West Literary Seminar seemed to come up way to fast. I can always tell when it has been a good seminar by my readiness for things to wrap up and this year, in spite of multiple 14 hour days in a row, I could have kept going and was really sad for the seminar to end.


Joeseph Cassara

Madeline Miller

Everything came together like clockwork and it went off smoothly from both a logistical perspective, which is always my primary concern, but also from a content perspective. The topic, writers involved, conversation and even the crowd seemed more engaged than usual and the weather was pretty much perfect, which helped make the social gatherings, receptions and dinners perfect as well.


Michael and Doug

I have to thank the amazing staff and volunteer crew who each year work to make the seminar something special. I was blessed to inherit an amazing crew of volunteers ten years ago when I took over the position of volunteer coordinator. Many of that group still show up year after year and the additions that we have made to the volunteer crew since have been able to blend in like pros. It is especially gratifying to see the reviews that are filled out by our attendees each year that consistently rate the volunteers and staff with the highest ranking of any aspect of the seminar.

Dexter Palmer

Valerie Martin 

These people that I work with year after year are not just co-workers, but have become good friends, so it is sort of bittersweet each year at the end of the seminar, because many come from out of town to work and this may be the only time of the year that I see them. Of course the work is exhausting as well, I feel both physical and mental exhaustion by the time the closing night parties roll around. This year the closing night party was hosted at my fellow board member Peyton’s lovely home and the board, authors, staff and other guests gathered to celebrate the completion of another excellent seminar.


Shayne and Kate

To illustrate just how exhausted I felt, at one point of the party I sat down on a small, but comfy looking couch near the pool. There were five of us sitting around a small table having a wonderful conversation, myself, fellow board member and friend Hilary and her husband and the iconic writer Margaret Atwood and her companion. All I wanted to do was go home and go to bed, yet I knew that this was truly a unique and special opportunity that many literary fans would give their right arms to experience so I forced myself to stay.

Margaret Atwood

It was one of the most fascinating, enjoyable and eye-opening experiences that I have had in twenty-three years of attending the seminar. Atwood is one of the smartest, most-witty, charming and interesting people you could ever engage with and there I was having a ninety minute intimate conversation with one of the most impressive writers of this generation. I sometimes have to ask myself, what the heck am I doing here? And this was one of those times.

Still I was too tired after that to attend the after-after party at our friend Nan and Mark’s house that they host each year, the late night party is where the crew and often writers, really cut loose and celebrate and again this year I missed it which I always regret the next day, but could not physically have made it that night. All in all the seminar was a wonderful success and an amazingly good time. I feel so fortunate to be involved with such a wonderful group of people and to be able to experience it each year.


Danille Paige

Now it is time to look ahead to the 2020 Key West Literary Seminar, “Reading between the lines: Sports and Literature”, which I have been selected to be the chairperson of the committee to select the writers that we will be inviting. It is a daunting yet exciting prospect and we will have big shoes to fill based on the amazing seminar just completed.


Protesting cosmetics shops next to San Carlos

Monday, January 21, 2019

“Have you no memories?' I am made of memories. 'Then speak.” ― Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

January 13, 2019

Rowan Ricardo Phillips and Kevin Young 

Meg Cabot

Naomi Novak and Danielle Paige

Valerie Martin

“Have you no memories?'
I am made of memories.
'Then speak.”
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles

Every year at the Key West Literary Seminar, there are always certain readings, discussions or panels that stand out for their excellence and are toasted by attendees as a favorite of the weekend, conversely there are also invariably some that fall flat for whatever reason. Poor moderators, unprepared panelists and sometimes just dullness have occasionally popped up at some point during the seminar. I am thrilled to say that this year’s panelists were always on point.

Margaret Atwood


It was in fact the best continuous and connected discussion of a topic over the course of a weekend that I have seen, as the discussion expanded and grew in depth as the weekend progressed and every session was uniformly excellent, something that I had rarely seen. The moderators were terrific and helped a lot, Kate Tuttle being perhaps the best prepared, most relaxed and all around best moderator to have graced the stage at the San Carlos.

Joyce Carol Oates 

Valerie Martin and Jenni 

Each panel or reading added to the totality of the examination of the role that archetype and adaptation played in the writing process and the discussion developed and intensified as each session passed with very little, if any repetition, even in the final free and open to the public session. As a group, these writers were as engaged and well prepared as any we have seen over the years. Perhaps the focus of the subject helped that and the fact that each author had used archetype, yet in often very different ways.


Ben, Jolly and Dan

It was fascinating watching from the audience and both Kathy and I, and hopefully the majority of our audience felt the same excitement and exhilaration as the seminar progressed. The seminar always offers me a measure of inspiration and fulfillment, being in the company of such a literate and educated group of people and experiencing some of the best discussions on all manner of topics, not only during the seminar itself, but carried over to the parties, dinners and after-events. 

Kevin Young

Joyce Carol Oates

This event and the Miami Book Fair are two of my favorite events of the year, not just literary events, but events in general as they both offer insights into a world of literacy, imagination and education that is hard to come by in our day to day lives and yet I am drawn to each year to help replenish my creative drive and stimulate my mind, which is easily corrupted by today’s fast pace world of social media and seemingly constant stressful news cycles.


Emily Wilson

In the midst of the seminar, our amazing local bookstore, Books and Books at The Studios of Key West, hosted a standalone literary event. A book signing and short intimate performance by folk singer/songwriter Dar Williams, who was set to perform at the Key West Theater, but also took the opportunity to schedule a signing for her new book about the communities she has visited as a traveling musician. I was able to sneak away for a bit from the seminar to head over and check it out, a fun and informative diversion.

Dar Williams

Judy Blume, Dar Williams and Jed Dodds

Back at the seminar, Sunday morning brought one of my favorite parts of the entire weekend, reading from the emerging writer award winning authors. We have three named and endowed awards that provide full scholarships as well as cash prizes and the chance to take the San Carlos stage to read from their award winning work. We have literally hundreds of entrants that go through an exacting juried competition before being selected. Many of our past award winners have gone on to great things and it is always cool to see them.



The three names to look out for are Joe Dornich who won the Cecelia Joyce Johnson award for short story, Michelle Penaloza who won the Scotti Merrill Award for poetry and Ross Feeler who captured the Marianne Russo award for a novel in progress. All three of these writers gave stellar readings that made it fairly obvious that they are worthy of the recognition that they received and I look forward to seeing more of their work in the future.

Joe and Michelle