There goes the neighborhood

The Lutheran church across the street from my apartment building set up a little performance area tonight, with a backdrop cloth that said “Elvis Lives”. When the sun went down, fifteen cars showed up, then people got out of their cars with folding chairs and arranged them about fifty feet across the parking lot from the Elvis Lives platform. Someone turned multi-colored lights on the backdrop, and then Elvis came out and sang Elvis karaoke. Everyone sat in their chairs. No one clapped or got up and danced, except for one heavy-set woman who kept venturing out, shaking her booty, clapping, who would occasionally turn around to the other audience members and try to encourage them to come closer towards the parking lot Elvis. No one did. Elvis complained a little in a light-hearted way about their bad manners. He sang a few more songs. I was sitting on the front stoop of my apartment building, catching a breeze and watching the surreality occur across the street from me. A black girl carrying a plastic sack of groceries in her grip was walking down the street toward me. When she came to the spot on the sidewalk in front of me, she stopped, looked over at the Elvis impersonator and the zombie crowd of Lutherans watching him, then turned to me and said, “There goes the neighborhood,” and carried on her way.

Fooling Around

My friend Brooke is helping me do a lot of the local promotion and publicity for my book. The girl knows virtually everyone you need to know around this place to get things noticed, and so my publicist at Bantam sent her a box of books the other week to help when getting in touch with reporters and reviewers etc. The day she got them, a bunch of my friends and I got together for dinner, and afterwards we went to the Italian Festival in the downtown. When we were done, I walked Brooke back to her car, and she got the box out and said, “Let’s see if we can cover the trunk of my car with them!” So, with lots of night glare, we proceeded to take silly pictures. It’s already one of my favorite memories that I’m making with this book coming out. I’ve got lot of angels in my life, and it’s nice to be reminded of that. They’re all swooping around to help me in so many ways right now, and that was a really unexpected gift that’s come out of making a book. Brooke is one of my main angels. And the way the glare is in these silly photos, she even glows a little like one.

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Days go by

Ugh, this is sort of agonizing, waiting waiting waiting for my book to come out.  For months, even after all the work with Bantam was done for putting it together, it was this distant thing in my mind.  But now its presence just keeps looming nearer and nearer.  Rick Bowes told me that every writer becomes neurotic the first time they ever have a book come out.  If I’m typical, then that’s true.  Justine Larbelestier has written a ton of entries in her online journal over the past few years about the beginning of her writing career, and I was always interested in what she was writing about, but right now I’m really thankful to have them to read through and see a lot of the weird emotional bubbling going on inside me at the moment is not that strange an experience, as Rick said.

Nonetheless, I will be glad when the anticipation and constant obsessing goes away. *

*I would normally say that obsessing is something we have to stop on our own, with willpower.  I see now, though, that in cases like this one, willpower is completely useless.

Don’t give a damn

Apparently the Republican debate via YouTube is back on.  At first the candidates complained about it and thought it was demeaning, according to Mitt Romney.  Between their hesitation to participate in truly democratic forums like this one, and their outright disregard for the GLBT community’s Visible Vote forum, I think any sensible person with an ability to add two and two together can see that they don’t give a damn about you.

More Happy Things

First:

The finished copy of the book came today!

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Me acting like a grade school boy with his spelling bee award or something to that effect.

And second:

guardian3.jpgThe Endicott Studio’s Journal of the Mythic Arts has its Summer YA issue live now. They’ve got fantastic stories, poetry, art and essays over there, so go take a look. My story “The Guardian of the Egg” is reprinted in the issue. It originally appeared in Salon Fantastique. Now it has artist Greg Spalenka’s work illustrating it, and it’s really fantastic. I love it. The girl with the tree growing out of her head has only been visually represented by one other artist, and that artist doesn’t actually know it. I took inspiration for the story from Leonora Carrington’s painting, “The Giantess” along with the story of Daisy Head Maisy by Dr. Suess. In any case, go take a look at the issue. It has work by Gwenda Bond, Jeffrey Ford, Holly Black, Steve Berman, Terri Windling, Midori Snyder, Will Shetterly and Catherynne Valente, among others. You can’t get a quarterly publication for free that’s better than this one, I think. So take advantage of it.

Lastly, pictures from mine and Tony’s trip to NYC this month are in my Flickr box in the sidebar. We did a lot of sightseeing. Some of the pictures are really nice, thanks to the sights we were seeing. My favorites are the ones at the Cloisters, but I love the memories of the dark piano bar we visited called Marie’s Crisis.

Surprise

I had the most awesome birthday evening yesterday. I spent most of the day on my own, just bumbling along from one thing to another. Then in the evening, went to the Stage, where I met my parents in the parking lot outside with my friends and took the elevator up to the third floor where all the magic happens. When I got out and walked a few steps into the gallery area, where everyone was gathered, there were balloons and cupcakes and wine all over, and my friend Brooke shouting “Surprise! Happy Birthday!” with a bunch of other people, which, really, really, did surprise me. I hadn’t been expecting it at all, but apparently Brooke and Tony collaborated to put all this together and sneakily got people on board. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to me and it was just really cool. At the beginning of the Stage, Tyler Clark’s kids (cutest ever) sang me Happy Birthday again, to resounding applause, and the evening was off to a good start of family and friends. My mom teared up seeing how many friends had gathered to surprise me. She and my dad didn’t know about the party–they came on a whim. I was glad they got to see the little family I have here in this little city when I’m away from my family in the little town I grew up in forty-five minutes north of here.

Thank you, everyone who came and wished me happy birthday. It was really such a surprise and made my day. Definitely the best birthday I’ve had in a long time. My secret: never had a surprise birthday party before. This probably helped in surprising me to the point of initial confusion and shock at it happening.

And thanks everyone in my family outside of town who sent birthday messages and hugs. I really feel blessed, as they say ( which I usually don’t say), but today it seems particularly appropriate.

Back again

I’m back from the Sycamore Hill Writing Workshop, held in the mountains of North Carolina, where I was with eleven really awesome writers critiquing each others stories for the past week.  There was much fun:  dancing, singing, playing a silly game of Dungeons and Dragons, talking about writing and publishing, doing yoga, hiking, giving a really confidence-boosting reading of the first chapter of One for Sorrow to the group of goldsmiths that were staying in the lodge across from ours (really sweet people), etc.  I’m totally exhausted from it all, but loved every minute of it.  The stories everyone brought were amazing, and I can’t wait to see them all living and breathing in publication some day.  Pictures from the week can be seen in my flickr page (linked in the sidebar).

Now it’s time to catch up with all the things I let go here at home for the past week.  I’m in a new apartment now–pictures of that to come soon, too, so I’m settling in to a new space.  A really nice new space.  I have an entire little room in it for my office, so I can’t wait to finish a story in it.  That will make moving in feel final, I think.

Wiscon Redux

Ok, so I am settled into a cafe here in Youngstown with wifi access that you *don’t* have to pay for, which seems to be the problem with a lot of cafes I stop in at. So many are those T-mobile spots like at airports where you have to buy access, which I think is not good for business really, people, at least not mine. I will buy scones and coffee and tea and sandwiches, but don’t charge me for a connection!

Wiscon. I love Wiscon. I’ve been attending for the past seven or eight years, only missing one when I was living in Japan, and I have to say, if a convention committee anywhere wants to know how to run a successful convention with lots of happy people attending, you should go to Wiscon to learn what’s up in the “They know what they’re doing” department. Wiscon gets the best people: smart, articulate, aware, jovial, supportive. After attending the Clarion writing workshop in 1998, Wiscon was the place where I started to find my second family. The only bad thing about Wiscon is that it only occurs once a year for several days. This is unfair. It means I never have enough time to spend with everyone I love, like and want to get to know better. My Friday nights at Wiscon are pretty much shot no matter what because I MC the Ratbastard’s Karaoke Party, which I absolutely love doing, but it means I never get to be out talking to people at the party for more than the space of a three minute song. It also really drains me to MC, even though I love doing it. My energies ebb all day Saturday from the frantic fast pace and trying to be energetic and encouraging and entertaining for the party. It’s worth it though, because so many people are nice enough to tell me during or after the party or the next day how much fun they had, and I’m glad that Alan and Kristin and I have something we can do to make people happy and jazzed that first night of the convention after the opening ceremonies. It makes me feel like we can give back for all the happiness Wiscon gives us.

Highlights of the convention were seeing Maureen McHugh for the first time in years. You look great, Maureen! And I will definitely take you up on visiting Austin in the future. I really do need to come to Texas and shatter my image of it. Catching up with Terri Windling, one of my angels, and dancing with Karen Fowler while she reveals she knows the words to the “My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Yard” song, watching Heather Shaw-Pratt teaching her baby how to shake its bootie before it joins us in the outer world, seeing Mary Rickert and her really awesome nice husband Bill (though not enough as I’d like–guess I will just have to move to Milwaukee or thereabouts), dancing with my editor Juliet Ulman, who has this really cute move she does where she puts her hands on her knees and shakes it all the way down and out to the beat (I would steal this move for my own dance move repetoire, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t look as cute when I do it), chatting with Chance because I love chatting with Chance, and seeing Haddayr Copley-Woods’ smiling face everywhere I went (yes, appt. next year for sure!) and teasing back and forth with Tim Pratt over who our editor loves best (I still think it’s him!) and carousing with Alan Deniro and Kristin Livdahl as always, and listening to Kelly Link’s and Laurie Marks’ beautiful Guest of Honor speech, and seeing Cat Valente get crowned and Shelley Jackson’s fabulous hair and dress, and seeing Graham again, brother in the American-in-training/Brit-in-training exchange program, meeting Niall Harrison, who is really really nice and funny and smart, and their friend Liz, and subjecting Rick Bowes to Wiscon’s outrageous energy, being called the cute boy by Midori Snyder always makes me melt and smile like a cute boy should, signing people’s copies of my story in Twenty Epics and Interfictions (I am still surprised when people seem to know me let alone want me to sign anthologies with my story in them) clapping for Tempest Bradford’s slightly drunken toasts, singing “I Wanna Be Sedated” with Nick Mamatas (still grateful he wanted to sing that song!) and hugging Hannah Bowen even if I didn’t get a chance to talk to her ALL WEEKEND (what’s up with that, where were you?) talking with Jackie M. over race and class issues, squeezing Susan Groppi and Karen Meisner whenever I had the chance (though again, failure to get my Susan and Karen time–next year I will make sure to come in early and stay at Ms. Meisner’s instead of coming in on Friday because of a freelance project I was doing here in town), hearing Dave read the water poet story, which I love, meeting Steve Berman and his fabulous friends finally, drinking and dancing with the Nightshade Boys, seeing and signing Sharyn November’s copy of the Coyote Road, which looks GORGEOUS (like her hair), reading with Meghan and Alice and Rick, watching Gavin Grant smile proudly at his awesome wife as she gave her Guest of Honor speech, and seeing Kelly’s sweet cute mom so excited to be there and proud of her daughter as well, and seeing E. Sedia’s new book, and hearing from her that there’s a new award called the Plunkett starting next year for works that investigate class issues (much needed) and what else? What else? I know I’m forgetting someone and something. I can’t help it. It was the best convention ever.

Disappointments: again, not getting to spend as much time with everyone I wanted to spend the entire weekend with. Being afraid to read a really sad section of One for Sorrow at my reading and going for a part that has funny stuff in it too because I feel better when I make people laugh more than cry. Also, not getting the chance to do that tarot reading with Barth Anderson (who gave me one at Clarion in 1998 which pretty much detailed my life for the past nine years in general, making me feel like that poor woman in The Red Violin who traveled the world like the fortune teller told her, but trapped inside that damned violin ad infinitum!). Also, not getting to talk to Greg Van Eekhout and Jenn Reese as much as I’d have liked, beyond a little bit waiting in line for reservations and drinks and whatnot, and at parties for very briefly.

I missed Dora Goss and Elad Haber. Next year, I hope you two will be able to come again. It wasn’t the same, even with all the greatness happening.

I’m glad to be home and have my bed back, and brownies Tony made for me to come home to, and my parents, who picked me up at the airport as is our ritual, and hearing my dad’s idea on a One for Sorrow sequel, which was actually really awesome though I’m not sure if I can do a sequal to One for Sorrow (but who knows, that idea was really pretty awesome, Dad) and now it is sunny and beautiful and I’m sitting in a comfy chair drinking tea in a cafe with people walking by outside and I’m feeling, you know, lucky and happy.