Roxane Gay

Here I go, name-dropping all over the place…

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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If Only…

Last week, Thursday was the only day I didn’t have to be somewhere to do something and I really needed the day to decompress. Hence, this blog post is late. I send this picture of a pink hollyhock as a peace offering.

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Thanks to the encouragement from Gina Miani and Mary Akers, I’ve been putting in at least 1000 words a day into “Dreaming Lettie.” Not today though. Today, I wrote a flash that amused me. I’ll be sharing the rough draft with some of you shortly. (Sorry!) After I stack some wood, I’ll probably go back to DL. Yesterday, I wrote over 1500 words, but after an implied sex scene, I didn’t know what to do. I may need to go back to the beginning and write the scenes I skipped to find out the timeline.

The summer projects are going along as well as can be expected. The garden is growing; the trees, flowers and bushes in the back haven’t died; and the walkway redo is farther along than it was last week. We have company coming next week and I’ve been a willing guinea pig for Nancy who just got a Bemer. If you get a chance, try it. After I got a compliment on how radiant I looked from a friend at Lowe’s, I got carded at Wal-Mart. (I didn’t even know they carded at Wal-Mart!)

With the writing, the yard work, and the wood, I haven’t been on Facebook, watching television or listening to much radio. It’s just as well. With this election, everyone seems to be losing their minds. I caught one perfect comment though. Roxane Gay said the equivalent of “I don’t need my president to be my friend; I just need them to lead.” If only she was running – Or Matt Boyle. Sigh.

Have a great week! Thank you so much for stopping by! You’re awesome and I appreciate you! Here’s two more flower pictures!

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*These are my creek side reflections; your experiences ought to vary, you know. Just sayin’.

It’s just a coincidence: new year/new blog post.

Can you believe it’s been 15 years since the Y2K scare?

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Remember the excitement?

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And then the let down when nothing happened.
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*Sigh*

This year marks a personally significant one; I will soon be the same age as my mom when she died. If it’s genetics, I guess my death is nigh, and if not I will probably end up working on a few messy, emotional essays about this topic. Some of those thoughts and ideas may end up in future blog posts. You have been warned.

Yesterday, I spent time in my office’s loft finishing up the organization of the things that were allowed to remain. I’m donating/dumping so much “stuff” that I’ve been holding onto for no good reason. It was just time for it to go–not so much because of the time of the year as much as being ticked off that I couldn’t easily get to the box I needed.

The correspondence stays.

I came across letters and cards with notes–I wasn’t able to read them all, but each was touching. And this morning I received an email from someone whom I encouraged, which brightened my day–and the beginning of this new year. (Thank you Sidney Thompson!)

No resolutions, no new me, just the same goals I’ve always had: continue to read, to write and improve with each piece.

Sadly, with the amount of reading for r.kv.r.y. and Literary Orphans, my time for novel length books feels diminished. Instead of dwelling on that, I’ve added a book a week to my calendar–whether I get to reviewing them or not is a different topic. Once I get through Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist again, I might have that sort of courage and determination. She writes honestly about everything; that is the truest form of freedom and bravery.

There is snow on the ground and I followed a stray cat’s paw prints out to get the Buffalo News. I haven’t seen this cat, but I’ve known of its existence for months. Husband has another long weekend and I have a new story to work on. After a vivid dream that involved a lot of inappropriate kissing, I wrote down the details, and that somehow unlocked the plot to a long story/novella I wrote years ago that did not work. (It is from so long ago I may have to track down a 3.5 floppy disc reader.) Now, I see where several other bits fit together and I’m excited to see how well they will work together.

Anything to avoid writing messy essays and starting–in earnest–on the new novel.
So for now, I bid you adieu and send you wishes for a very good new year.

Thank you for stopping by!

(*These are my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.)

Thin blood, tough skin

Husband’s birthday was Sunday and we went to see “Boyhood.” Beautiful film. When we were leaving, my jaw felt strange. We went to Red Robin to meet Stepson and his Girlfriend for dinner. Girlfriend told the waitress about the birthday so the staff came over and sang to Husband. He was not happy, but everyone else thought it was funny.

My jaw felt worse and I started a fever—you know, the usual toothache fun. The dental service we have to use—with its claim that it has 24/7 emergency appointments—couldn’t see me until Thursday, or Saturday, so I called my old dentist.

Michael Ehlers, at Western New York Dental, is the absolute best. He got me in the next morning, took an x-ray, gave me a prescription for antibiotics AND didn’t charge me full price or for an emergency visit. How awesome is that? He suspects the same thing I do–that a piece of something bothered the gum line and it got infected, but with the brushing, flossing, and aspirin popping I was doing, the infection was going away on its own. If I hadn’t bothered to make an appointment, it would have been an abscessed tooth and I would have died from blood poisoning—that’s just the way things go.

I’m much better now.

During the waiting room stretch, I read most of Roxane Gay’s “Bad Feminist.” It’s a fantastic book. I told her on Twitter then took it down because I’m a wuss. I put a short review on Goodreads (must everything you do on there go directly to Facebook? I don’t like that—if you know how to stop that nonsense, let me know.)

Speaking of things I don’t like–I have Microsoft Word and somehow I saved a file, which now comes up instead of a blank page when I open the program. Any other computer in the world would let me clear it and “Save as Template” or some such. Not this one. If you know the secret on how to restore the default, please email me at TLSherwood01@gmail.com It’s starting to tick me off.

I hate asking, as I try to be as self-sufficient as possible, but that’s just a messed up image in my head that isn’t remotely true. I do need people. I guess that’s not the worst thing in the world.

September is coming up with the grand opening of the University Publications. I’m already tired and I haven’t written a cover letter. This summer I wrote a few good new pieces during the lulls of the novel rewriting process; we’ll see how those do. I could write more in this post, but I’m working on line edits and I should get my plan of attack ready for the submission season and toughen my skin for rejections. Well, that’s easier said than done with aspirin thinned blood and antibiotics ricocheting through me, isn’t it? Luckily, it could be much worse and I’m glad it is not.

 

~And there you have my Creekside Reflections. Your observations may vary.

I Love Summer for the Meet Ups.

In the summer, my social life gets tangled and wonderful. There’s a million places to go and people to see. On Tuesday, I got to see my best friend and her husband for a few hours. Soon, I’ll be at a graduation party. This year, I’ll try to better balance that with the household chores, maintenance and my “real work.”

I’ve signed up for Camp NaNo (again) and I’m not sure what I’m going to work on. Originally, I was thinking short stories, but I don’t know. I have a few days to decide. I may go back to a novel I started years ago.

I’m excited that an agent asked for my first three chapters on my latest novel. The beginning garnered a “show” in a contest. I’ll be ecstatic if she asks to see more, but I’m not holding my breath–I can’t–I have 4-6 weeks of waiting! I had a piece I originally wrote in 2009 FINALLY find a loving home in an Sci-Fi anthology coming out soon from Divertir Publishing and a cheeky NF piece will soon be appearing in The Other Herald, a gorgeous publication based out of Perry, New York.

Yeah, things are looking good and I’m grateful.

It just seems that there are so many things to do and pieces I want to write and submissions to read and comment on that I worry I’ll become too distracted by a bush and end up tripping over an exposed root–don’t get me started on the lawn care I should be doing and the weeding I should have tended to before now.

No matter what, there’s never enough time or money or oomph, is there–too get everything done.

*Sigh*

Still, I’m giddy at the amazing success of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances as of late. I know I’m pushing my boundaries, but I met Roxane Gay in Boston at the AWP book fair and she recognized my name and she was kind and such a beautiful woman…I’m thrilled that “An Untamed State” is getting so many good reviews. She deserves even more. Alex Pruteanu has a manuscript out for a book that I’m hoping to read soon. The short story, “The Sun-Eaters” was phenomenal–I can only imagine the book being better. Dawn Corrigan, woman extraordinaire has “Mitigating Circumstances” out which I’m badgering my library to pick up though so far they haven’t. (Boo John Saccco!) I shouldn’t be too mean; I love my library and when I got my copy of the summer newsletter, I felt like a rock star–they featured the reading I did with Gary Earl Ross and the other contributors to “Queen City Flash

Plus, the lovely and talented Mary Akers got the July Issue of r.kv.r.y out early and Mike Joyce—my other awesome boss got a lovely write up in Poets & Writers about the Rookery.

Except for the horrid slugs in my garden, things are good. Thanks for stopping by!

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

Boston, baby!

There is much to tell and upload and link. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen until I return home. In the meantime, I’ve met Alex Pruteanu, Meg Tuite, Pat Pujolas, Ken Robidoux and many more. Rachael and I blinded (temporarily) Helen Victoria and we’ve listened to some great writers in the past two days. Once I’m dressed, I’m off to Dillon’s for the AWP Heat.

Seriously, I wish you were here!

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Did you come back to see if I updated this post? Good for you!

I arrived in Boston on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Rachael and I attended the Birds of a Feather AWP offsite reading at The Elephant & Castle Pub. We blinded Helen Victoria in our attempt to get a picture with her:

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Thursday, we ended up at The Greatest Bar in Boston where we heard some great readers.

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I met ALEX!!!

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He was fantastic as a human being and friend. BUY his books!! He signed Gears for me, and had I know he was carrying around Short Lean Cuts, I would have gotten that, too. I have the kindle version, but it’s not the same as a real book. He introduced me to Pat Pujolas, author of Jimmy Lagowski Saves the World. After, at a hotel bar, Rachael and I sat with with some great people including, Ken Robidoux, Robert Vaughan and Meg Tuite.

Friday, I ventured out by myself and went to AWP Heat: The Fire Inside  at Dillon’s. I picked up my fabulous shirts from Meg. I heard more writers reading fabulous work, including Len Kuntz, Sara Lippmann, Ben Tanzer, Timothy Gager and Bonnie ZoBell. (If I missed you, let me know and I’ll add you!) It was overwhelmingly great.

Saturday, the book fair was open to all and I stopped and talked to many great people, especially everyone at Press 53. Added bonus: I met Roxane Gay and she knew who I was!!!

Monday was topped off with a poetry reading. Patty Paine did a fantastic job.

(More later–I hope–my mifi is dying)

Name Dropping & Linking All Over the Place

After posting last time, I went shopping. Upon my return, I found an email from one of the women in my RL writer’s group. There was a writer’s conference in Westfield on Sunday and if I was willing to drive, she’d pay my conference fee. On Saturday, Husband took me to Eden so I’d know my way to her house. We stopped in and had a lovely visit. Then on Sunday, she and I went to the gorgeous Patterson Library.

It was the first time they had done a conference there and kudos to Peter Hamilton for putting it together. Mary Jo and I went to the same sessions. The first was done by James Goertel who tackled the Writer’s Craft . He’d just gotten back from AWP (I was so jealous! He could have heard Roxane Gay  give a reading while he was there. I would have!) and even though James was tired, he was a motivated instructor.

We broke to listen to LouAnne Johnson, author of My Posse Don’t Do Homework which turned into the movie Dangerous Minds. She read from Muchacho. It was very entertaining. She sat at the same table as we did for the lunch which was held at the church across the street.

After lunch was Marketing Your Work by Linda Lavid. I thought it was informative and I found out a few things I hadn’t known. Some things I was doing already and it turns out they were the ‘right’ things to do which was gratifying to hear.

Then, the people who signed up drew numbers to choose the order to read their work. I went second and read “Wildflower Wishes.” Mary Jo went fourth and read from her book, “Under Cover.”  While the conference had been scheduled to go until after six, we got out of there around 4 p.m. It was a great day all around.

Facebook revealed a chance for women’s essays to be included in an edition of Brevity titled Ceiling or Sky: Female Nonfictions after the VIDA Count and in response to the recently revealed VIDA and its nearly identical pie graph which shows 75% of most magazine’s contributors are male. I sent in “Finding Peers.” An editor of the new cool zine to read, Jumping Blue Gods asked for my submission. (Much appreciation to Jennifer Bridges!)

Robert Tucker at Chrysalis Reader sent the edits he made to “Delaware and the Rip-Off King.” We disagreed on a single line and he agreed to use the one I offered, so that is now wrapped up.

This past Saturday, I happened to see in Gusto that there was a reading being done at the West Falls library. I went and listened to Jeff Schober. Oddly, as he was signing my book, he mentioned the Arcade & Attica Railroad Mystery Train. Turns out, he was writing the script for this year’s production and he had been an actor in the last one with Betty. Tiny little world, isn’t it?

Then, later on this past Saturday, there was the most awesome news: The return of NPR’s Three Minute Fiction! Round Eight was announced. In case you missed it, hit the link above. I heard about it on FB before the show started and didn’t take long to come up with a story and write it. Seriously, maybe an hour tops to write–though I think it was closer to twenty minutes. I’d thought of an ending line, then two characters arrived, and as I wrote toward the end line, the story took me to a different place.

I trimmed it until I could read it in under 3 minutes, then read it to Husband, who–get this–thought it was nice. I sent it in. Usually, I end up with regret when I send things in so soon after they’re written, but the next morning, I still thought it was a good story.

On Monday, I sent it to Chyo, and except for one word choice, she thought it was fantastic. I wound up in a brief email exchange with Long Distance Friend and sent it to him. He not only liked it, but wanted to share it with his Secret Girlfriend. Now, I wait on Guy Roz and the judges at 3MF to decide if they like it, too.

In a teensy tiny way, I’m a bit on edge over the idea of finally having one of my stories chosen by 3MF. I mean I am the self-proclaimed Susan Lucci of this contest. Can I give up that continuing sting of disappointment? Well, it’s out of my hands now. And if it isn’t chosen as the winner, I hope it isn’t chosen as an also ran. I have three magazines I want to submit the story to. Sigh. We’ll see how it goes. In the other rounds, I’d written to win. This story I wrote because it was something I wanted to read.

Speaking of which.. One of the things Chyo said was that the story I wrote was a piece which would cause her to look up other work by the same author. She then told me of series of books she’s bought because of short stories she’d come across in an anthology. So, while I’m waiting on yet another person’s thoughts on Ellie’s Elephants, I’ve opened up the third book of the Dreaming Lettie series, and I think I’m falling in love all over again… How could I forget about the Dreads!

Until next time!

*These are just my creekside reflections. Your experiences may vary.