Off to the Nebs

Off to the Nebula Awards weekend in Cocoa Beach, Florida tomorrow morning. This is the second time I’ve been nominated for a Nebula. The first time was in 2007 for my novelette, The Language of Moths, which you can read by clicking here if you missed it when it came out (I really need to publish a short story collection. Okay, I don’t *need* to, but I would *like* to). It’s always exciting to be nominated for such a wonderful award as the Nebula. I plan to enjoy the weekend no matter what.

Until I’m back, here’s an awesome pre-Nebula Weekend review of the nominated novels from Real Change News. My book is one of their favorites.  An excerpt:

The 2009 Nebula Awards, awarded to science fiction and fantasy writers by their colleagues, will be announced the weekend of May 13 – 16. Interestingly, there’s no space travel in the six nominees for best novel. Two are set in the present, one in the past and only two on other worlds.

My favorite candidates share a theme — how culture shapes our perception of reality. “The Love We Share without Knowing” by Christopher Barzak is a sweet meditation on human connection. Marketed as a fantasy, it could be magical realism. Its finely crafted language evokes the meaning in everyday events.

Barzak explores relationships among Japanese citizens and American expatriates after the events of 9/11. None of the characters knows everyone in the book, but all are affected by each other. The themes of cultural shock and alienation explore how we are alone in our connection and connected in our loneliness. Barzak sums it up in his final lines: “The fireflies glow off and on in the mist-covered fields, calling out, Here I am, waiting for another light to appear in the darkness. Here I am, one calls to another. Come find me.”

See you all in a few.

Older eyes

My last class for my MFA program at Chatham starts tomorrow. It’s a Multi-Genre Creative Writing Workshop, which means the participants can submit things from any genre, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, plays, etc, for the workshop to consider. There’s me and one other fiction writer in the class, one nonfiction writer, and three poets, I believe. Along with submitting a piece weekly for the next twelve weeks, and critiquing each others stuff, there are a few books we’re reading to discuss along the way. One of them is Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. Have you read it? I did about fourteen years ago, when I was twenty, in an undergraduate course called Cafe Circles, where we studied the American Modernists living in Paris. Stein, Hemingway, Porter. I forget some of the other ones now. But mainly Hemingway and Stein. Anyway, I loved that book then, but I can’t remember why. I just have always had a good lasting impression of it. I started reading it again tonight and got through the first four chapters like wildfire. It really is good, but what my twenty year old self couldn’t see that I can now is exactly why. The loving details, the beautiful rhythms of the prose, the amazing dialogue that is so real and yet so obviously constructed, artificial, at the same time. There’s a real heartbeat beneath those words. I’m glad to be rereading them again, with eyes that recognize a few things that they didn’t when I was twenty.

Walking on sunshine

School is out. I’m writing again. It’s Friday and this week, my first week of freedom of time, I’ve managed to write 3600 words. Have completed a chapter and started a new one. This is what I’m talking about. Oh, summer, how I have missed you. Hopefully by the end of August, I’ll have a completed novel.

Last month I successfully defended my MFA thesis at Chatham University in Pittsburgh and will graduate this August. This means next year, though still teaching full time at Youngstown State University, my writing time will return to various projects I’ve had in the queue while furthering my education. I can’t wait to find out what it’s *actually* like to teach full time and write part time, as opposed to work full time, take classes part time, and try to write. Probably it will be something like it was for me in Japan, when I taught there, which would be a good thing. I liked that pace of work and writing a lot.

Today, now that I’ve got my writing done, it’s time to start spring cleaning in the house, and other home improvement projects.

Tonight, I will be going to see W;t at the Oakland Center for the Arts, downtown Youngstown, directed by the fantastic Robert Dennick Joki, with an apparently amazing performance by Youngstown star actress Molly Galano.

Then, maybe karaoke at the Boxcar Lounge afterward.

I could write a song for summer. At this juncture, I am in love with the time it gives me.

And lastly, on this day in 1940, author Angela Carter was born. I wish she was still around and writing up a storm of revisions to our most beloved cultural myths, legends, folktales and fairy tales. If you haven’t encountered her work before, here’s a link to a free online presentation of her rewritten fairy tales, The Bloody Chamber, in which the old tales are told in a language appropriate to their subject matter.

Hope everyone else out there is feeling good and doing fine.