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Posts Tagged ‘Mia Avramut’

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

awpswag

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:

2-15-2017

Ah, home…

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

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It got to the point where the papers in the “to file” box tumbled over the sides again and while I picked them up for the fifth time, I realized I really had to tackle that job. Bank statements, take-out menus, invitations to events I never had any intention of going to, and stray button batteries lingered in that box for up to two years – perhaps longer – but the box is now empty. Not only did I file, I went through the files and purged them of outdated material. It feels really good to have that done. I have some hope that I’ll get to the filing a bit quicker next time.

(Don’t laugh! It could happen!)

Occasionally, I’ll try the “touch it once” paper solution idea, but that rarely lasts longer than three days because I’d rather work on a story than go through mail the second it comes. Besides, I like lingering over J. Peterman catalogs…

Of course that “good deed” lead to others, like making an appointment with a lawyer to update our wills since the ones we had named a now dead person to be the executor in case we died at the same time, which led to the deed being “quick claimed” so if something happens, (knock-on-wood-it-doesn’t) probate can be avoided. Lawyers are expensive creatures! I mean, I knew that in general, but when I got the bill, I started wondering if I shouldn’t have stuck with my 6th grade goal and pursued a career in the legal profession.

I also went through the stack of “there’s an article/quote/cartoon/recipe I want in here” newspapers. Then, I tackled the print out stack in my office and I can now find the stories I want because they are in folders. It’s a New Year miracle!

All of that good stuff means I’m behind on collecting the tax stuff, but I’m close. I’m also upping my game with writing and submissions. I don’t know how long these good intentions will last, but they aren’t “resolutions” so they have a better shot of continuing than not. I hope.

I think the burst of ambition has a little to do with being inspired by beauty.

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MiaMauve

They are both by Mia Avramut. Husband matted them last Saturday and they are ready to hang, but I have them on the shelves of the bookcase where I can admire them for now. They are both so gorgeous; these photos do not do then justice.

So, that’s what has been happening around here. Thanks for checking in!

 

 

 
*These are my Creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.

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I’m at Spot Coffee and my tablet decides to update Microsoft Office. That isn’t productive for writing this blog post, so I went ahead and jotted notes down on real paper to remind myself of what I wanted to say. That I was writing – or at least attempting to write – outside of my comfort zone of known places where I normally write being the big news. That, and the beaver damn failed. It had been providing this nice waterfall view from my kitchen window for a while:

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Snow and cold made it to our area and the number of activities I had lined up for this week went from four to one, so when the meeting of novelists was threatened, I pushed through my normal homebody tendencies and declared I wanted to get out of the house. Gina to the rescue! (She is awesome, inspiring, and encourages me to finish things.) She picked me up and now I feel all “writerly” on the couch typing this while we’re waiting for Mary to arrive.

 
I wrapped up my interview with Susan Tepper about her beautiful new book and that will go live at the Tavern Lantern on Monday (Yes! Handed in ahead of the due date!) “Dear Petrov” will be coming out on 2 February 2016.

Petrov

I converted a bit of prose from a book in progress into a flash for a magazine call on the theme of “dance.” That’s about all the writing I’ve gotten done recently. Oh, well, there was a short story, too, but it was mostly written and just needed some polish.

 

 
Christopher James at Jellyfish Review nominated my flash, “Pretty Changes” for inclusion to Best Small Fictions. For those keeping score, yeah, that’s a win of the Gover Prize, a Best of the Net nomination, my first Pushcart Nomination and the Best Small Fictions nomination all in the space of six months.

 
I am honored to have two new pieces of Mia Avramut’s art to frame. I picked out the matte this weekend and can’t wait for Husband to cut it so they can be hung.

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Other than that, I’ve been reading. It’s a nice change of pace, though not “really” writing results in a host of new problems like titles, characters, and bits of dialogue popping into my head at odd times. I know I need to get back to a novel, but right now, I need a break. And new experiences so that’s how I ended up in Spot to write this post.

 
*These are merely my Creekside (though written in a coffeehouse this week) Reflections. Your experiences may vary.

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