Friday, December 31, 2010

Writing in public, 2010

I've been trying to write this post for days but threw out my drafts. We're in the French Quarter for the holiday weekend, and I just received the contract for my New Orleans novel by email. Haven't had a drink but I feel pretty drunk right now. Not joking, I'm woozy.

so, details. The publisher is IG Publishing, and we've been working back and forth since last new year's eve. There will be a few more edits and we have yet to settle on a title, so suggestions are welcome. Here was/is the query:

If you had one wish to change the world, what would it be? Now what if it had to be your dying wish?

In post-Katrina New Orleans, final words can cure cancer, wreck economies, and eliminate house cats. Divorced and disgraced up north, Victor hopes to re-invent himself in the French Quarter where he lives with and works for his son in a vintage shop making corsets and capes. All he wants is a quiet, drunken, carefree life,but after a series of eccentric deathbed wishes come true — including the return of the 1967 Elvis, clouds turned orange, and mothers growing third eyes — Death Wish hysteria forces Vic into action. Along with his entrepreneurial son Val, and his libertine friend Martine, Victor must battle the apocalyptics who have seduced his lovely neighbor Pebbles away from her true vocation of singing the blues (very badly). But Victor must also confront his mortal identity: just what would he wish for the world, especially the world without him in it?

Some stories adapted from the novel have appeared in Juked, Barrelhouse, Pank, killlauthor, and Storyglossia. the Juked one probably captures the spirit of the book in the briefest space, but the Barrelhouse story (in print, issue 7) comes closest plot and style-wise.

My students say the book falls into the genre of urban fantasy, whatever the heck that is.

I love you all. Going out for lunch. Going to try not to hug random New Orleans bums and aristocrats. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Recycling Team,

Yes, that's an empty champagne bottle on the top of all those cat food tins. No, I don't think I'm Zsa Zsa Gabor or even Edina Monsoon. I had/have something to celebrate ahead of the official holidays, but as it's still an unofficial occasion for joy, I'll keep my yap shut-or full of $25 fizzy wine from the Korean grocery. (Back channel gossip welcome, though).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Thumbnail Re-posts

When I saw that the purveyors of brief literary art at Thumbnail Magazine were looking for blog content, I volunteered material from the VIPs on vsf site--pending original author approval of course. Today, they've reposted Tara Masih's sweet little essay "How to String Together a Story Collection," an article I re-read frequently.

Enjoy! again.

In other no-news-yet-news, I will spend these days leading to Christmas peering up at the virtual skies.

Friday, December 10, 2010

What we were doing

One of the least well kept secrets of the summer was that Cami Park and I had put together a group of five women (Cami, me, Erin Fitzgerald, Andrea Kneeland, and Donora Hillard) to collaborate on a dark-themed flash collection that was going to feature a lot of art, graphic novel style. The project was Cami's baby, but she had dubbed me her co-editor, the marvelous benefit being that she and I were in frequent contact. Sadly, we did not get very far in the project before she became ill--as a group we spent the first 6 weeks or so joking and gossiping more than we wrote, time I consider very well spent, regardless. When Cami dropped out of sight, even from our private group board, we didn't question that for some time. Cami was a private person, one of the few people whose "privacy" did not strike me as perversely narcissistic.

But I don't think I have a right to make any sweeping memorial-type statements about Cami; like a lot of folks who loved her, I didn't know much about her, not even what she looked like. We only discussed writing and writers, but we did it a lot. I can say that Cami's fiction did for me what music and poetry is supposed to do--it carved new pathways in my brain.

So what I have to say is fragmented, it's all I know. She gave me fantastic advice on fictionaut. She wrote an amazing mini essay on titles for my very short fiction blog. Sometimes she'd IM me with the latest on one of her dust-ups--she stepped into a few messes at Zoe. She had a fat dog. She was not averse to a bit of priest bothering. Doing all those poetry-book-a-day reviews in September almost drowned her.

Tomorrow her memorial service will be at Circus Circus in Reno. I'm guessing it will take place in a normal, non-clown festooned space, and those of you fortunate enough to go--please send my love. However, I must point out that there will be performances on the midway by JR Johns and his dogs at 12:50 and 2:30. Do what you know is right, and bring back a slanted report.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


We bought our cabin in the WV panhandle in late 1997, closing the weekend after Michael Hutchence died. Not a lot has changed in the area since then, but goats are getting more popular. I'm guessing that's because they are cheaper than alpacas.

Less than one mile from our cabin there is an extraordinary sight on Route 9: an excavation contractor has a couple of medium-small duty machines parked in his driveway, along with hand lettered signs advertising skilled labor. Then in the lawn area:

a genuine beardy, horned billy goat (used to be tethered to a barcalounger, but is now allowed to roam)
a trampoline
two large red dogs, free range with itchy butts
a plastic, castle style kid's playhouse
spiderman, hanging by the neck from a tree (he goes up at halloween, doesn't come down for months)

I can't get a picture because there is no room--this is all happening on a sharp, narrow mountain road. So to confirm to each other and remember, Dean and I speak the inventory out loud every time we pass: goat, trampoline, dogs, castle, spiderman. It's like a Meg Pokrass prompt, but I will never be able to write a story that will do it justice.