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Posts Tagged ‘Claudia Cortese’

I’m back from AWP in D. C. and had the best time while I was there!

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For a long time, my novel critique group has been saying, “We should go to a conference together.” Well, things fell into place and after I spent the night at Gina’s house on Tuesday, Mary showed up and we drove to D. C. We got there Wednesday afternoon, checked into the hotel, registered with the conference then we had dinner with the brilliant writer, Pamela Erens.

Up early on Thursday, I went to a 9am panel called, “Demystifying the Business Side of Writing and Publishing.” Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum led it and I learned great things from him, Whitney Davis, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Paula Munier, and Joshua Shenk.

From there, I went to “Time, Space, and Community,” led by Jac Jemec. The ins, outs, and quirks of residencies were discussed by Rebecca Makkai, Rachel Cantor, Erinn Beth Langille (I ❤ her!) and Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. You know what’s fun? To know one’s underpants are part of this equation.

From the bowels of the Marriott Marquis, I went to the Book Fair and hit my prime targets. I tried to meet Paul Vega and failed. I did meet Kurt Baumeister—author of Pax Americana—and James Reich from Stalking Horse Press. (Talk about a thick business card!) I also tried to see Robert Vaughan at the Word Tango table and P. E. Garcia at The Rumpus, but all I got was an awesome tee shirt and mug that each say “Write Like A M-F.” (Sure, by M-F, I did mean mushroom finder. We can work with that, but I took a picture.)

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Mimi Schwartz, Phillip Lopate, Richard Hoffman, and Laurie Stone did a fantastic job of letting me know when real names were important or not during their panel called, “I Didn’t Ask to Be In Your Story: When Real Names Matter and When They Don’t.”

The next panel was awkward for the match up. I mean, ROXANE GAY was there—my hero! During “Beyond the Deadline: Surviving (And Thriving) In Magazine Publishing, it felt like  Katelyn Belyus was doing a great job but her panelists weren’t the target people to ask the questions she was asking. It was fantastic to listen to Chip Blake, Sy Safransky and Ms. Gay and watch them keep their cool.

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“Women’s Fiction: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It,” explained the reason why some agents requested comp titles. Thank you Dorian Karchmar!

Meeting up with Mary at the VCCA group meant I got to meet interesting people like Randon Noble. The conversation turned to food, which led to my first time eating Korean food. After that, I also had my first Uber ride with a guy who played a Mr. Rogers YouTube video and I fell a little bit in love with the whole idea of Washington, D. C. as a “city.”

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Friday meant Gina and I had breakfast together at the Washington Plaza near the pool. We attended the “Second Blooming: Women Authors Debuting After Fifty.” It was interesting, but I couldn’t help thinking that the people present kept saying they entered multiple contests, which required many dollars to enter so tier success seemed money driven and that bothered me. Does it mean only old people can be published IF they throw down thousands of dollars to win a prize? I didn’t raise my hand to ask Ellen Meeropol, Paulette Boudreaux, Jeanne Gassman or Cynthia Bond because I left there a bit early to call Husband.

From there, I went to “Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Organizing and Structuring Story Collections, but I couldn’t find the archives room on the map, and you know me with maps—I ended up in Salon F for “The Shape of Fiction: A Look at Structuring Novel Length Prose.” I sat down and Cliff sat on the end. A woman came in to claim the seat between us, but Cliff said, “Why don’t you sit in my seat and I’ll sit by my friend.” (Yeah, that’s right, Cliff Garstang referred to me as his friend!) Anyways, Christian Kiefer was the moderator and he was funny. It was an interesting panel with Jeff Jackson, Esme Weijun Wang, Janet Finch and Kristin Chen.

 

I then attended “From Flash Fiction to Microfiction: How Many words are Enough?” What an excellent panel! Pamela Painter, Sherrie Flick, James Thomas, Nancy Stohlman, and Grant Faulkner talked about prompts and results. Walking over to introduce myself to Grant, I ran into Len Kuntz! He was there with Robert Vaughan! They invited me to their table at the Renaissance for later that night.

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After that, I hit the Book Fair again. I saw Gina who was going with Mary to see Emma Straub & Ann Patchett speak in the Ballroom. I thought about going but decided I needed some alone time. At the hotel, I texted Jimmy and arranged a night out with him. He picked me up and we drove to Arlington to pick up his lovely fiancée, Lindsay. From there, we went to the El Paso Café for margaritas and quesadillas. The drive back into Washington was beautiful—multiple monuments were lit up. At the Marriott Marquis, we attempted to find Mary, but couldn’t find her. We popped into the Sewanee Writer’s Conference Reception. I did find Cliff, but it was so loud, we left.

At the Renaissance, we found a table populated with the brilliant Robert Vaughan, Len Kuntz, April Bradley, Karen Stefano, David S. Atkinson, and Robert P. Kaye It was such a great time. Jimmy and Lindsay left after one drink because they had to drive home.

Mary texted, then came to the bar. As that collection was breaking up, Cliff and my new best friend Jody Hobbs Hesler came round and we went to the next bar and before I could believe it myself, it was last call. I toddled back the many blocks to my hotel and in my effort to be Best Roommate Ever, I took off my jacket, blazer, and shoes before I went into my room so not to disturb Gina. Well, I left my blazer hanging on the next door’s knob. I woke to see Gina gone, my blazer missing and vague memories from the night before—a few captured on my phone.

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(This last one was from Mary’s phone. Thank you Mary!)

Anyway, after quizzing Mary, I went downstairs, asked at the desk and got my blazer back. I went to the Book Fair, bought Robert’s Vaughan’s Funhouse and he signed it. At the Word Tango table, I got to chat again with the lovely Jennifer Kircher Carr and meet Elizabeth Pettie. I ran into David S. Atkinson and he handed me his book, Apocalypse All the Time, for possible review. I picked up the free book I’d won in a drawing by Writing By Writers. I was supposed to wait until 4 p.m. but as I was leaving, I was able to choose The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch.

I saw Pamela on the way out to meet Gina and Mary. While waiting, I saw the guy from the first panel and had a chance to talk to him and exchange business cards. Such a circle, huh?

It was lovely fun. I’ve left out meeting Gay Degani in the hall just before a panel and getting a hug…not having to feel bad about missing Kim Chinquee’s off-site reading…receiving Mia Avramut’s lovely message…randomly bumping into Claudia Cortese on the sidewalk…finding P. E. Garcia’s voice fine, not strange…getting to meet Paul Vega later on…Beth Gilstrap recognizing me…and a thousand other details that were fabulous though not as fabulous as you for having read all the way through!

THANK YOU!

It’s great to be back though I did have to have my picture retaken at the Board of Education meeting on Monday night and the weather returned to winter and it looks like this outside:

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Ah, home…

*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences should vary.

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This morning, between the spats of rain, I’ve seen a swallowtail butterfly flitting around the flowers. Yesterday, I spotted a newly hatched monarch and I was so grateful that Husband made an effort to mow around the milkweed.

I’ll often stop washing dishes when the hummingbirds come to the feeder on the window outside the kitchen, but Tuesday, it was empty and I washed and filled it. I still had my hand on it – standing right there so it wasn’t like I was trying to camouflage myself – and a hummingbird came to feed. I don’t know if it was extremely hungry or incredibly trusting, but it was a thrill to be so close and feel the wind from its wings. I have this lovely friend who sends out a newsletter about nature, animals, and spiritual concerns. Because of her, I’ve been more attuned to nature recently and noticing strange things like that occurring more often, probably only because I am paying attention.  (Thank you Kellie!)

Recently, I used my gift card to Barnes and Noble to purchase one of those calendar organizers, you know, the ones that look impossibly thick with pages to plan your week and list goals and you wonder why anyone would ever need one that size. Let me tell you, I didn’t realize it, but I have needed one for a very long time. I’ve only had it for a few weeks and I’m already amazed at how easy this has made my life. So, Stepson, if you’re reading this, thank you for the Christmas present.

Yesterday was Husband’s birthday and even though it was a milestone, he didn’t want a fuss, so he didn’t get one, but he did get a card, a pan of brownies instead of a cake, and a case of his favorite beer.

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I posted a similar pic on Facebook and was delighted at the number of likes and birthday wishes it generated. Also, I know it’s small minded and petty, but I do wish people wouldn’t use his first name on Facebook, because, well, I’m not sure he wants to be associated with the likes of me via social media.

And Husband’s birthday is not the only close family member’s birthday this month. There are at least seven, plus two friends that are like family, and there’s a baby shower to attend and an ex-in-law’s anniversary to celebrate, so yes Hallmark, I am keeping you afloat…not that I expect a big company such as yourself to send me a thank you card.

Besides sending out tons of greeting cards, I’ve also been weeding the garden, mowing the trails, weed-eating the labyrinth, reading, making and drinking gallons of sun tea, cooking, cleaning, stressing out over Stepson’s impending wedding and the guests we’re putting up and the accompanying dinner menus, who’s getting where and when, attending Board of Education meetings, Hamburg Writers Group Meetings, looking forward to the novel critique meeting, being thrilled for friends with book releases (Congrats Gina Detwiler, Jeff Schober, Mary Akers, Claudia Cortese), enjoying the results of the Bemer treatments, being excited to start as a Bemer tech tonight, submitting two things a day because I was down to something stupid like only four things out plus fretting over the pink hibiscus and goji plants that I bought at the East Aurora farmer’s market last week which haven’t gotten planted yet, but man do the bees love them both.

 

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If I was reading this, I’d think that was all I was doing, but actually, I’ve been doing a lot of writing. These two characters, Pete and Tara, will not leave me alone. I’m taking old and new word lists from Hot Pants and even though I can’t find a story with the words, “Boogieman, ankle, Dumbo, kiwi and tax,” they do, and make it all about them. I decided to make them have sex so they’d have what they wanted and leave me alone. Was that good enough for them? No, they were right back at it yesterday and used a Kathy Fish Workshop Reunion prompt to get there. I read that piece, “Sweet Spot,” to Husband and his response was “I didn’t know you had it in you,” which made me not want to associate with him on social media.

Oh, and we have new art!

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Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

*These are my Creekside Reflections; your experiences may vary.

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