I recently popped into my local indie bookstore (shout out to Sundance Books!) and found that thing that makes a writer’s heart go pitter pat — their very own work on the shelf. If you look closely, Gentle Reader, the two collections in which I have stories are sitting side by side. This makes me so happy!
The universe is a funny thing and the biddy running the operation has a wicked sense of humor. In my last post, lo these many months ago, I whined about the fact that I’d written two lovely stories, submitted them around a bit and they had fallen flat in the publication arena. I had sighed and put them away with resignation and move on to editing a NANO novel from 2008.
Then, precisely two weeks later, I got an e-mail from a friend. Darling, darling friend Kirstin sent me this:
Subject: Final Call: Nevada Anthology — Women Writers Who Give Back
Nevada Anthology: Women Writers Who Give Back
Editing literary magazines, organizing readings, and teaching are rewarding but time-consuming endeavors. Each moment spent cultivating someone else’s poetry or prose is another moment away from one’s own writerly work. The sacrifices are real, yet most editors, organizers, and teachers are happy, albeit exhausted, to contribute to their communities. A forthcoming anthology will showcase poetry and prose written by Nevada women who contribute to other writers’ educations, publications, and writerly communities.
- Length: send four to seven poems -or-prose less than 3,500 words
- Previously published work encouraged. Previously unpublished work is just fine, too.
- This call for submissions will close at 11:59 pm on February 7th. Late submissions cannot be accepted.
This project is funded in part by a grant from the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
It was like this call for submissions was aimed right at my head. I didn’t duck. I submitted those two stories I had set aside and Heather Lang accepted Shot to Hell, the flash fiction horror.
Haven’t touched a copy yet, but here’s the cover AND I’ve been paid. I think I’ll use that filthy lucre to buy some wine to toast that comedienne the Universe Biddy and my friend Kirstin. Sláinte!
The Todd Borg book signing and reading at Sundance Books in Reno was essentially just like my experience with seeing Stephen King. Except for the crazy fans and the multiple lines and the waiting and the scrambling for seats. Oh, wait, yes, there was a scramble for a seat.
Todd Borg is a local author with a mystery series featuring a South Lake Tahoe P.I. and his Harlequin Great Dane. The books are packed with local settings, humor, and are just fun to read.
I roped my friend Nancy into going with me because I knew she was a fan and she can be bribed with lunch.
Sundance Books is a gem of an independent bookstore located in a historic old house in downtown Reno. It’s one of my favorite places and if they had ample food and a bed, I’d probably move in.
They are huge supporters of local authors and artists and even lil’ ol’ me did a reading at Sundance a few years ago (see here).
Todd was just like Stephen King – He’s a great speaker, knows how to tell a story, and is effing funny. His talk was aimed at the writers in the crowd and I appreciated that. He chose to read a funny scene involving the dog, which Nancy appreciated.
But unlike Stephen King, Todd was also open to a follow-up question via e-mail. Granted, I’ve never tried to e-mail Stephen King, but I thought it was great that Todd Borg took the time to answer my question.
Stephen King’s talk was effing entertaining. The man knows how to tell a story. He had it all – humor, pacing, swearing up the yin yang. And an appreciation for his audience – a bunch of readers hanging out in a bookstore.
Some stories I’d heard before – he used material from “On Writing,” which I’ve read so often I’ve practically memorized it. Others I probably gleaned from other sources. But there was new stuff. Fresh stuff that gave insight into the man, the myth, the writer.
I particularly loved how he says he has three personas – There’s the guy who was up there in front of us, slightly schlumpy in jeans and t-shirt, shooting the shit with us, out in the world, selling books. There’s the husband of oh so many years who goes to the grocery store and takes out the garbage. And then there’s the creepy guy who has a cabin in the woods who writes the books.
That resonated with me. As a writer, I want to be like Stephen King, with three personas.
He took questions from the audience and it was great fun to see just how excited some people were to be actually speaking to someone who was their hero. Quivering with the excitement would be an accurate description. And we were going along, having a good time. People were asking good questions and he had great responses, until the idiot in the front row asked him to autograph her hat. He said “No” and that was the end of the fun.
And then we got to stand in ANOTHER line to pick up the book we’d bought earlier.
All in all, a weirdly surreal experience. And I’d probably do it again.
So, when is Janet Evanovich coming to Reno?
After first one line and another, I left Barnes & Noble and got more coffee and something to eat, ran a few errands and then arrived back at the bookstore to stand in my third line of the day.
And this is where the confusion of the whole multiple-line process came to fruition. For me, anyway. I was 102nd in line, but due to some confusion, #101 didn’t show up by the time the doors opened. #101 was a lovely woman from Chico, and we’d had a nice time getting to know each other while standing in Lines 1 and 2, but alas, she’d gone back to her motel room to take a shower and The Line waits for no woman.
I got in and managed to get a chair facing the podium so I was quite tickled with my luck. I didn’t realize it at the time, however, but the man in front of me had ridiculously broad shoulders and the need to record the event. Every. Single. Second. With progressively larger electronic devices that he held to one side so I had to not only crane around the shoulders, but the iPad-enhanced block head. I probably would have been better off standing, but damn it, I had worked hard for a seat and I wasn’t giving it up.
For nearly two hours we waited. Around me was revealed fandom of increasingly horrifying proportions. People were live-tweeting. A man cruising up and down the center aisle was revealed to be the creator of a Dark Tower-centric website. Stephen King t-shirts were the norm. Me? I just wished I hadn’t had that second cup of coffee.
I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and asked the Tweeter next to me if he would save my seat while I hunted down a restroom.
I cruised the perimeter of the room and perused the huge crowd. I found #101 leaning against a bookshelf in a pretty darn sweet location – there was no broad-shouldered dude blocking her view.
I did my thing in the ladies’ room and came out to find a security-type planted in front of the men’s room. Across the narrow hall from the man in black, a woman leaned against the wall.
“Pssst,” she said, gesturing to me. “Come stand here with me.”
I figured I’d at least get closer and see what she had to say. Her eyes were a little crazy, but it had been a long morning. I stood next to her.
“Why are we standing here?” I whispered, leaning toward her.
“He’s. In. There,” she whispered, gesturing to the men’s room door. Her eyes got a little crazier.
I looked at the man standing in front of the bathroom door. I looked at the woman standing next to me. And I shrugged.
“I’m sorry,” I said, pushing myself from the wall. “I’m just not that kind of fan.”
And I returned to my seat.
To be continued…
Through the miracle of the internet, and Twitter, in particular, I recently had the opportunity to get a chance to see Stephen King at a reading in Reno.
Really. That’s what it was like. There was an announcement that Stephen King would be at the local Barnes & Noble, and, on a certain date, at a certain time, you had to send an e-mail to get into a drawing to get an invitation to get in line with 200-400 other yahoos.
So I sent off my e-mail and got my invitation (which I had to bring with me to the store).
Now, bear in mind that I’m not a crazy Stephen King fan. I’m just your run-of-the mill Stephen King fan. I’ve read, and enjoyed, some of his work. There’s a whole lot I haven’t read, but “On Writing” I’ve read and re-read multiple times. It’s in that book that I think his personality comes through most strongly, and as a person, I find him funny and entertaining.
So I decided that though I had gotten the opportunity with fairly half-assed enthusiasm, I would at least follow through like a bigger fan than I was.
I was at Barnes & Noble well before the doors opened at 8:00, lined up with the other fans, rabid and otherwise. And rabid there was. There was a woman with her nails done with Stephen King cover art, to include a portrait of the great man. The woman first in line had gotten there at 3:00 a.m. People had driven hours to get there, as opposed to my measly 20 minutes. Everyone around me was from out-of-state, some as far as Utah and Washington. And I only saw one person I knew, which was strange. Reno’s not that big.
So there was the first line. I was 102nd in line. We got through the door and there was another line, this time to buy the book. I didn’t actually GET the book – I just bought the opportunity to get an autographed copy. And then we were free to leave until we had to come back and line up again at 11:00. For a talk that started at 1:00.
To be continued…
Finally, after over six months, the rejection arrived. Because it took so long, and the reading period ended months ago, I wasn’t surprised. But it still hurts. I thought the piece was a perfect fit. I thought I had a bit of an “in” with the editor. I thought my story was brilliant.
I’ll be researching new markets and re-submitting in a few weeks.
Such is the life of a writer. And this was only flash fiction. Imagine a novel. I’m still trying to imagine COMPLETING a novel.
#amwriting #amediting #amrejected
My friends Lyn Hawkins and Earl Shidler have e-published a wonderful picture book about Lyn’s late Dachsund Schatze titled The Best Wiener Dog Ever. It’s a lovely story with amazing illustrations – Earl created them on his iPad.
So, I opened my Kindle this morning and Wilma‘s new book arrived.
Ain’t technology grand? Books delivered to your lap, much like milk was delivered in days of yore.
Wilma writes Regencies. Good Regencies. Not just bodice rippers in an era when they actually had bodices to rip. No, she looks at history and the challenges of the time, women’s rights, labor conflicts and all the things that make for a fascinating, multi-layered, and thrilling historical novel. And she does it with a sure touch and a sense of humor.
As an early reader, I was lucky enough to watch Wilma’s latest child grow from Page 1. It was a Master Class in how to write a book.
I want to write like Wilma when I grow up.
Now, what’s up with this ad from Prilosec with Larry the Cable Guy? Ah, technology?
I did a reading at Sundance Books in Reno as part of the promotional hoopla surrounding Tahoe Blues. I’ve never done a reading before. I’ve never really attended a reading before, either, but I went to the book launch readings up at Lake Tahoe Community College and here are some tips I picked up:
- Print your story in large print to make it easier to read
- Read slowly, pausing for the laughs that are sure to come
- Occassionally, look up from what you’re reading
- Get your hair out of your eyes
You know, basic stuff.
But I mostly learned that if people are at a reading, they’re already happy to hear what you have to say. They’ve probably already read your story. They want to be there. They’re on your side. There’s no need to try to convince them of anything.
And that takes a lot of pressure off.
Earlier in the week, I sent an e-mail blast to my friends and family in the Reno area and was tickled to death when some of them actually showed up. And bought the book. And asked me to autograph it! I mean how cool is it to have a posse of supporters in the audience?
My sister, serendipitiously, was visiting from Colorado and so brought my mother and a friend to the reading. Mom wasn’t planning to make the trip.
Another family member, a local musician, came and showed his support, just as we’ve visited divey venues to show our support of his work. Support the local arts!
The Sundance Books crew are also my peeps, seeing as it’s my “home bookstore” so to speak. They did an awesome job of making us feel welcome, supporting us and arranging the venue for maximum capacity. Because we did have a crowd. A very appreciative crowd.
Such fun. And there was the autographing of books, the meeting of the other authors and spending time with Kim Wyatt from Bona Fide Books, the publisher, who is very cool. I didn’t get nearly enough time with her.
My particular reading went well, except for a few stumbles and a muffed punchline. I only had a couple of snorts out of that flask and I tried to remember the words of my friend Jodie:
“I wish you calm nerves and a bold voice.”