Tag Archives: Oxford American

For the Love of Brag

These bragging on posts just might be coming more frequently because the folks I know are certainly not slowing down their achievements. While I wait to post one brag, most of these folks double-up with a second achievement. I just have to keep up!

Since last I bragged:

One of my 225 Magazine editors (and long-time friend and co-conspirator), Jeff Roedel, has a new(ish) Tumblr blog.

Terri Shrum Stoor’s essay “Bird Dog” has been published by Quarterly West as the nonfiction winner of their Writers@Work contest.

Tad Bartlett wears many hats (among them, Oxford American columnist), yet still manages to update regularly about the achievements and events of Peauxdunque members and Friends of Peauxdunque.

Among them is the news that the first season of Denise Moore’s Neutral Grounds is available now on YouTube.

Maureen Foley wrote a great blog post about motherhood and creativity, about her soon-to-be-born book.

Her husband James Claffey’s book of short fiction, blood a cold blue, will be published by Press53 in the fall. He also has stories published at: Matterpress, The Nervous Breakdown, the Molotov Cocktail, Bartleby Snopes and Pithead Chapel.

Following up a fantastic Tulane reading, Ben Morris wrote a hysterical essay for The Oxford American about his experience krewing this recent Mardi Gras.

Nick Fox has a great series of blog posts about his recent travels in South America.

Ronlyn signing a ton of books and hiding bookmarks inside!

Ronlyn Domingue recently promoted her new novel The Mapmaker’s War at Garden District Books. She gave out bookmarks that she made with Kathryn Hunter of Blackbird Letterpress, who created the illustrations in the book. The bookmarks are signed and numbered and I was lucky enough to get #1 of the set, which happens to be my favorite illustration! I think this is a unique way to celebrate the publication of the book. Yes, I’m a fangirl, of Ronlyn and Kathryn and letterpress art.

 

Passages North has published Karin C. Davidson‘s Waasmode Prize-winning story “We Are Here Because of a Horse.” Karin has also started a new interview series with Newfound Journal’s Hothouse. The first interview is with Yolanda J. Franklin. The second interview will be with Andrew Lam.

Andrew Lam judged the prize that I won last year. He has a new book of stories out called Birds of Paradise Lost and has been touring extensively. You can hear Flashpoints Daily Newsmag’s interview with him while you’re waiting for Karin’s interview.

Eritria Pitts performed a one-woman show on Valentine’s Day and recently performed again during a RAW Artists event. Also exhibiting at the event was Alex Harvie, another old(school) LSU friend of mine (one of his gorgeous paintings graced the cover of the issue of Delta Undergraduate Journal I edited). The Honorable South performed and there were so many talented artists there, filling Eiffel Society with their raw energy (see what I did there, hmm?). Helen went with me to the event and I took a great photo of her and Eritria together.

Helen Krieger and Eritria Pitts at Eiffel Society

Helen Krieger and Eritria Pitts at Eiffel Society

Speaking of Helen Krieger, there’s going to be an encore screening of Flood Streets at Buffa’s March 31st, at 6:30 p.m.

Harold Ellis Clark (Hal of WYLD’s Sunday Journal) was celebrated in NYC as one of two finalists for the 2013 Stanley Drama Award for his play Tour Detour.

Maurice Ruffin has three upcoming readings in the next week. The first is tonight, UNO’S Gold Room starting at 7:30 p.m. at Handsome Willy’s and will include other UNO MFA students. The third one is next Thursday at 8 p.m., the 17 Poets series at Gold Mine Saloon. The middle reading is part of the Tennessee Williams Festival, which started yesterday. Maurice and other members of the Melanated Writers Collective will read tomorrow night at the Literary Jook Joint, 8 p.m. at the M. Francis Gallery.

Speaking of the Tennessee Williams Festival, I’m super excited about the speakers and panels this year, all of which look excellent. A few of my mentors and friends will be appearing, including Moira Crone, Ava Haymon and Susan Larson.

My newest 225 piece is up, a story about John Biguenet’s Rising Water play cycle being performed in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans this month. There’s a Tennessee Williams Fest connection here, too, because the New Orleans play, Mold, premiered this week at Southern Rep as part of the festival. The play will continue through April 14th. I’m looking forward to seeing it this weekend.

I really owe all of these people, all of my friends and mentors, a huge debt of gratitude. They actively make it difficult not to strive for excellence in what I do, because they are constantly achieving and succeeding and working.

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Filed under book news, bragging on, freelance work, Friends, movies, New Orleans, New Orleans Film Industry, pop culture

Giving thanks for the brag

I am thankful that the people in my life are achieving success with the projects they are passionate about. And that goes for me, too. I am grateful and thrilled that the passions I have toiled at and for,when it seemed fruitless and silly, are now beginning to come to fruition. It just so happens that it’s Black Friday and I am providing you with a plethora of great gift suggestions. With no further ado, the brag…

Mary McMyne’s “Wolf Skin” will appear in the Los Angeles Review and “Old Woman Gothel” in Pedestal. You can read “Old Woman Gothel” online and also, hear Mary read it!

Daniel Morales has a story called “How to Fly First Class for Free” in the Expats Blog Writing Contest.

Jamey Hatley read from her novel at the fall installment of NOCCA’s Creative Writing Series, along with Brad Richard. The rather large room was crowded with an attentive audience, many of them students at NOCCA who are studying writing. Their response to Jamey and Brad was pretty awesome to witness.

Montana Miller’s Playing Dead: Mock Trauma and Folk Drama in High School Drunk Driving Tragedies has just been published. I first met Montana a few years ago when I interviewed her as background research for my novel and we became friends. In addition to being a professor in the Popular Culture Department at Bowling Green, she’s a professional flying trapeze artist, high diver and now, sky diver. I love this bit from her bio on Amazon: “she researches perceptions of risk and attitudes toward death, particularly among groups that are often stereotyped and misunderstood.” She was just in town at the American Folklore Society’s Annual Meeting, to give a paper called “Death and the Drop Zone: The Esoteric and Exoteric Folklore of Skydiving.”

Tad Bartlett has another great column up at Oxford American, called Food and Recovery: Reclaiming After the Storm.

Also over at OA, Kasimu Harris has lots of amazing new fashion columns up, featuring his stunning photos of fashionable New Orleanians, as well as his essays.

Christopher Shipman’s new chapbook I Carved  Your Name is available from Imaginary Friend Press.

Skip Horack’s story “The Cryptozoologist” is in the newest issue of Narrative Magazine.

Recently, Summer Wood gave a phenomenal reading from her book Raising Wrecker at the gorgeous Garden District Books. The novel has just been released in paperback, so check it out. As well as these pictures from the event, which I’ve borrowed from Ross Peter Nelson.

Emily Choate’s gorgeous story “Thunder Sometimes, Never Bells” will be published in The Florida Review.

While going to The Florida Review site to get the above link, I saw that Randolph Thomas won their Editor’s Award Competition in Fiction for his story, “Dispensations.” His story will appear in the Winter 2012 issue.

Two Fictions by James Claffey will be hosted at FWRICTION: REVIEW until November 28th, so go check them out. James is one of the most prolific publishers I know. “We Sunk My Mother’s Mother” is over at Necessary Fiction. His story “Spreading from the False Fly” is available in the Real issue of Pure Slush. Anyway, if you really want to keep up with everything James is doing, you have to go here: James Claffey.com.

Helen Krieger recently traveled to Amsterdam, where Flood Streets was screened at the Film By the Sea Festival. The movie just screened in Portland and Seattle and will be available on DVD November 27th. You can put it in your Netflix queue now.

Maurice Ruffin’s short story “Pie Man” has been published in the current issue of The South Carolina Review. Maurice will be reading his work, along with Niyi Osundare, Carolyn Hembree, Geoff Munsterman, Nasimiyu, and Michael Allen Zell at the Staple Goods Collective/Gallery on Sunday, December 2nd at 2 p.m.

But, before that, Maurice will also be reading at the Words & Music Writers Alliance reading at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28th, one of the first events of the conference. The event takes place in the Black Box Room on the 2nd Floor of the US Mint and will also feature Terri Shrum Stoor, Sara Paul, Matt Robinson, J.Ed. Marston, Tad Bartlett and yours truly. I will be reading a short version of my winning essay, “Tango Face,” which is about learning to tango, of course, but also describes the experience of sitting for a portrait by the artist Gersin, who I interviewed earlier this year.  I’ll include the portrait below, since it’s not online (it is in the print version of the magazine).

This post has been in the works a long time! It’s impossible to keep up with ALL of the achievements and events of my talented friends, but I do my best. I hope you’ll consider checking out the work of all of these folks and attending the upcoming readings!

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Brag and the city

I’m late in bragging on this essay I wrote for 225 Magazine about LSU Press. I interviewed a lot of amazing people for this one and it was a joy to write a positive piece about all the good work being done in publishing, since we all read a lot of negativity about the way the industry is failing.

 

Ronlyn Domingue has an essay in the anthology, The Beautiful Anthology, work collected from The Nervous Breakdown, where she’s been publishing nonfiction for a while. Also, she has a publication date for her second novel, The Mapmaker’s War, which will be released February 19th, 2013. The sequel will be published in the spring of 2014.

 

Here’s the latest update from James Claffey, who has a plethora of recently published work (I especially love his signature – one day I will have a signature like his):

Nice words at the Review Review that mention my three short stories at Thrice Magazine: “Within the journal, my favorite illustrations were the ones that accompanied James Claffey’s trio of stories near the beginning of the issue,” and, “James Claffey’s trio of short pieces about life in Ireland may be succinct, but they explode with powerful descriptions that float off the page and flood the reader’s senses.”
New work at Press 1: Mad Dogs & Irishmen; Tampa Review Online: Hard Freeze; and Orion Headless: Cut Short
If you can, buy a copy of Scissor & Spackle containing two of my short fictions: Counting Holes in my Shoes & Ghost Watch
 —

 

Jamey (Hatley) interviewed the Ernest J. Gaines award winner, Dinaw Mengestu, for 225 and was herself interviewed, along with Chef Chris DeBarr by Tad Bartlett for his new Oxford American column Food and Writing.

 

Arion Berger, a super talented Peauxdunque member, has self-published (as Lyra Byrnes) the first of three paranormal romances set in New Orleans.

 

Daniel Handler selected  Kiki Whang‘s story “Cucarachero” as the 2012 fiction winner of the Enizagam Literary Awards. Her story is published in Issue 6, so mosey on over and buy it. Here’s what Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) has to say about Kiki’s story:

‘Cucarachero’ is one of those stories that works like a trap. I wandered into the first paragraphs, charmed and intrigued, and then, curiouser and curiouser, fell deeper and deeper in, and not until the story was over did I have a real appreciation for how smart the thing is, how wise about people so unwise, how careful and yet how instinctually the whole thing is put together. This is the kind of thing I always want to read.”

 

The MelaNated Writers Collective has had three successful events in their Summer Reading Series. Check out L. Kasimu Harris‘s teaser for the second event event:

Video and photos from the events are available on MelaNated’s website. Here’s a great essay about why the Collective is so vital for its members and for New Orleans.

Some members of MelaNated Writers Collective

 

Tad’s done an amazing job keeping track of events and publications at the Peauxdunque website. There are a plethora of brag-worthy achievements in between my posts, so book your browsers accordingly. He’s beat me to the punch in listing the Peauxdunque finalists in the Faulkner-Wisdom Literary Awards, but I’m still gonna brag.

Keep in mind, the finalists who are still in the running are listed by title only, so there may be additional bragging later. I’m going to mention the folks I know who are finalists, but not list the titles of their work, since it’s a blind reading process.

In the novel category, Tad Bartlett and J.Ed Marston are on the short list of finalists for their novel Flying Kites. My friend and former teacher Rick Blackwood is the author of the semi-finalist novel <Ô!>. Peauxdunque member Susan Kagan ‘s novel Ruxandra is also a semi-finalist.

In the novel-in-progress category, Eloise Holland (Be My Thrill), Elsie Michie (Broken Ornaments) and Susan Kirby-Smith (Canyon Relics) are all semi-finalists.

In the short story category, Maurice still has a story in the running, and also has one on the short list for finalists, “The Winter Lion.” Also on the short list is Tad (“Hawks”), Craig Brandhorst (“No Air Holes Anywhere”), and Emily Choate (“Thunder Sometimes, Never Bells”). Emily is also a semi-finalist with “The Falling Down Side,” as are Jamie Amos (“A Good Dog Buries Its Bone”), Kiki Whang (“Keepers”), and Jenn Nunes (“Nothing That Couldn’t Just Float Away”).

In the essay category, Terri Shrum Stoor and yours truly are both still in the running.

I’ll add folks as the rest of the lists go up, as names are revealed and in case I’ve missed anyone. Congrats to all!

 

In other news, my friend Arvid Cristina is teaching a Final Cut Pro/After Effects class for NOVAC called Gimme Credits, later this month.

 

I’m so lucky to have the friendship of such talented people. I hope you’ll join me in supporting them all.

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Filed under books, bragging on, coolness, freelance work, Friends, literature, New Orleans, pop culture

Be the brag

This post is shamefully overdue. Not only is this merely my third post of 2012, I haven’t bragged on anybody (in any sort of official way) since December. My friends haven’t stopped being bragworthy, not in the least. If anything, they’ve made it impossible to keep up – which is my clumsy way of apologizing if I’ve left anything out between ‘Tis the Bragging Season and this, my latest brag post.

What reminded me of all the bragging that needed to be done was a delightful event on Thursday – the folks from The Oxford American were in town to commemorate their new issue, announce the Louisiana Music Issue and to celebrate L. Kasimu Harris and his fashion blog Parish Chic. In addition to being a friend to me, Kasimu is a phenomenal photographer and writer – and he happens to be pretty fashionable. An event like the Parish Chic party is like Christmas for a bragger like me because I got to see so many astoundingly talented people (old friends and new friends alike) coming together to brag on Kasimu. Plus, the Parish Chic cocktails were pretty tasty and it was nice to soak in all the style.

Maurice‘s streak of being bragged on in all of these posts continues – his story “Winter Lion” was named a Finalist in the Tennessee Williams Festival’s Fiction Contest, judged by Amy Hempel and since my last post, several of his stories have been selected for publication. Tad Bartlett, who has himself been accepted into UNO’s Master of Fine Arts program (whoo hooo!) has plagiarized my bragging-on concept by announcing the plethora of Peauxdunque achievements. But, I gotta hand it to him, he broke the news about Joselyn Takacs‘s story “Flares of Little Warning” being Narrative’s Story of the Week, so I guess I’ll let him get away with it.

Max Segal, who I met working on Now You See Me, has co-directed In the Shadow of the Mountain, a film about the mountain climbing mentality.

Charlotte Hamrick of NolaFemmes has a few poems at Metazen and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

James Claffey has been giving Maurice a serious run for his money in the publication race the last few months. That gent publishes something just about every day. He has work at Thrice Fiction and an audio story at The Drum Literary Magazine. These are just two of many, many recent publications and you can keep up with him at The Wrong Corner of the Sky.  In addition to being prolific, he’s had some extremely brag-worthy personal news since my last brag post, which I won’t divulge here, but I will congratulate him on. 🙂 The LSU English News and Notes pages does a pretty good job of keeping track of James’ publications as well, not to mention lots of other talented people.

Coming full circle, while catching up with friends at Kasimu’s celebration Thursday,  DaVida Chanel told me that she is appearing in Dillard University Theater’s performance of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.” The last performance is tomorrow (almost today) at 3 p.m., so check it out.

I will do my best to be both more prolific in my posts and more diligent in my bragging, cause these folks are not slowing down any time soon. Thank goodness!

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Bragalicious

Over at my personal blog (which has recently been re-named), Jill of All Genres, one of my most regular types of post is what I call the “bragging post,” where I take the opportunity to brag about the accomplishments of my talented friends. It’s one of my favorite things to do and luckily, there are no shortage of accomplishments to brag on.

Charlotte suggested that I post my most recent bragging on post, Bragalicious, here, since many of my shout outs are local New Orleanians (or Baton Rougeians). It’s been too long since I’ve written a post on NOLAFemmes, so I am happy to post Bragalicious here for you.

Speaking of NOLAFemmes and bragging…Judy’s post “Up, up and away!” was a “Freshly pressed” pick on the front page of WordPress yesterday (now page 2). That is totally bragalicious.

* * *

First and foremost, as we speak, pretty much all of The Peauxdunque Writers Alliance is gearing up for The Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers. Four of our members are attending, including Maurice Ruffin, Terri Stoor, Tad Bartlett and J.Ed Marston. That means something like 40% or so of our membership was accepted.

Jamey Hatley is also attending the Summit. Additionally, she’s won a prestigious waitership to Bread Loaf later in the summer.

Also, Maurice Ruffin‘s short story “And Then I Was Clean” will be published in UNO’s Ellipsis Journal.

Another Peauxdunque member, Joselyn Takacs has been accepted into the MFA program at Johns Hopkins University and is on her way.

A little birdie told me that Barb Johnson will be receiving the Barbara Gittings Literature Award at the ALA Conference tomorrow.

Sarah Morton is creating a graphic novel out of a short story written by Bobbi Perry, who attended the LSU MFA with me and Jamey. You can read it online!

Helen Krieger and Joseph Meissner are screening Flood Streets at the San Antonio Film Festival on Thursday.

Lindsay Rae Spurlock‘s song “As for Now” was featured on Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital.” You may still be able to download it for free if you like her Facebook page. Here’s an awesome photo of her, too:

Lindsay Rae Spurlock, photo credit Julia Henry

Congrats to all my phenomenally talented friends!

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Filed under Film, Musicians, New Orleans Women, NOLA Noteworthy, Singers, Women, Writers and Poets, Writing

Bragalicious

First and foremost, as we speak, pretty much all of The Peauxdunque Writers Alliance is gearing up for The Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers. Four of our members are attending, including Maurice Ruffin, Terri Stoor, Tad Bartlett and J.Ed Marston. That means something like 40% or so of our membership was accepted.

Jamey Hatley is also attending the Summit. Additionally, she’s won a prestigious waitership to Bread Loaf later in the summer.

Also, Maurice Ruffin‘s short story “And Then I Was Clean” will be published in UNO’s Ellipsis Journal.

Another Peauxdunque member, Joselyn Takacs has been accepted into the MFA program at Johns Hopkins University and is on her way.

A little birdie told me that Barb Johnson will be receiving the Barbara Gittings Literature Award at the ALA Conference tomorrow.

Sarah Morton is creating a graphic novel out of a short story written by Bobbi Perry, who attended the LSU MFA with me and Jamey. You can read it online!

Helen Krieger and Joseph Meissner are screening Flood Streets at the San Antonio Film Festival on Thursday.

Lindsay Rae Spurlock‘s song’s “As for Now” was featured on Adult Swim’s “Children’s Hospital.” You may still be able to download it for free if you like her Facebook page. Here’s an awesome photo of her, too:

Lindsay Rae Spurlock, photo credit Julia Henry

Congrats to all my phenomenally talented friends!

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Filed under Baton Rouge, bragging on, Friends, literature, music, musing, New Orleans, travel

Hey Dancing Heart

The title of the post is the title of a personal ad I happened to see. I love it, so I’m kinda playing around with it to see what it fits. Because I just have to use it. 🙂

Life’s been kinda chaotic. My temp job came to an end and the very same day (after my going-away party, awwww), I drove up to Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Book Festival. Many of my friends were on panels and Jamey was kind enough to invite me to share her gorgeous hotel room. That first night, we were driven in style to the Author’s Party at the State Library – which was good, because I hadn’t packed for the cold and that’s a bit of a walk from the hotel! We met some really amazing people, caught up with old friends and ate wonderful food from Mansur’s in the stacks of the State Library. There is nothing like witnessing your friends being celebrated, so it was a good night. Jamey and Barb met up with the folks from the Oxford American who’ve published them this year, as well as other writers-including Alex Cook, who not only writes for Oxford American, but 225 Magazine and Country Roads as well. And it turns out we have a decade-past M’s Fine and Mellow Cafe connection, so that was cool. Louis and his wife Elly were there and I got to see my mentor David Madden as well. After we were put into the last cars back to the hotel, some of us decided to go out on the town a bit, though we had to be up early, and that was a blast as well.

The whole time we were at that end of downtown, near the LSU Museum of Art and the hotel, close to the river, I was having fits of nostalgia, some really powerful flashbacks. Nearly ten years ago, the hotel was a ruin and the museum wasn’t there. Downtown was a ghost town after 6 p.m. when all the government workers would flee the encroaching darkness. M’s Fine and Mellow and Tabby’s Blues Box were pretty much the only things open and the year that I became a regular at M’s (every Tuesday, open mic night) was a year of my personal blossoming. I met many of my friends then and there, I forced myself to come out of my shell more. And it really felt like the place was ours, empty and dangerous as it may have been. Now the mural that used to be on the side of M’s is gone, replaced by a painted sign for The Roux House, which occupies the same space. The parking lot I used to park in is the cradle of the gorgeous museum, whose rooftop offers a breathtaking view of the river. Tabby’s is gone and in its place, a club my friend Daniel Lee plays at sometimes, I think. I met Daniel that very first Tuesday I went to M’s, grabbed his hand as he passed by my table and told him how much I liked his music. He thanked me and sat down to talk. These days, downtown Baton Rouge is full of life and it’s great to see. It’s not the same, but it’s still a beautiful thing.

The day of the Book Festival was glorious and overwhelming. I don’t know what voodoo the organizers of the Book Festival do, but there always seems to be gorgeous weather for the festival. Sometimes it’s hot, but as far as I can remember, it’s always been clear. This year, it was chilly with such a crystalline blue sky, you felt like you were walking around in an advertisement.

I had to pop in and out of panels to see everybody, but I feel satisfied with my glimpses and experiences. Barb in the enormous Senate Chamber with Rick Bragg et al for just a few minutes. Then, Louie’s book reading where I ran into a friend who is coincidentally a fan of his and was gratified to hear another reader say, “I picked up your book because of the piece I read in 225…” Then, a thrilling ride in a golf cart with Elly and Louis to the signing tent – Elly and I crying, “Wheeeee!” and urging the driver to go faster on the sidewalks around the Capitol building and Louie trying to act like he didn’t know either of us.

After chatting with Louie and Elly for a few minutes, I wandered around some of the vendor tents, stopping to talk to the great folks who publish me occasionally at 225 Magazine. It was really nice to put a face to the e-mail conversations. I’ve known my editor, Jeff Roedel, since our days in the Cinema Club together at college, but I hadn’t met Tom Guarisco, 225‘s editor, though we’d communicated. One of the downfalls of freelancing, though it’s so great when you get to have a face-to-face. I’d never spoken with Rachael Upton, the online news editor, but I was very pleased to meet with her there at the festival. She does really great work with the website and she just happens to be really nice.

And then it was back into the Capitol building for a whirlwind of panels. A few minutes in the “Humor in Welty” panel that some professors of mine from LSU were on, and then across the hall to Barb’s very intimate reading from her book, More of This World or Maybe Another. She read from the story “Killer Heart,” and there was this one particular line (won’t say which, not out of context) where I felt like she’d reached over and punched me in the stomach. I made an audible sound, a sort of agonized, “Oh,” and that’s probably one of the best compliments I can give a writer. Especially a short story writer because, as I confessed to Barb later that night, I struggle to read and write short stories. There’s something about them that is harder for me than novels. They’re very different beasts. More on Barb and her book in a few paragraphs.

I had to leave Barb’s panel to get to Jamey’s “Work-in-Progress” panel with our teacher Moira Crone and another writer named Maggie Collins. It was really great to hear Moira read her piece. Jamey’s was material I had heard about, but never read (or heard). She prefaced hers by saying that it truly was a work in progress as she’d been working on it that morning at breakfast. I can attest to the truth of that. 🙂

Again, I had to duck out early from the “Works-in-Progress” panel to get to Toni’s panel about the Bobbie Faye books. She was entertaining her crowd with behind the scenes stories about the repackaging of the series and they asked a lot of questions about whether there’d be a fourth Bobbie Faye book (yet to be determined), one reader even going so far as to passionately say, “I think you owe us that story.”

The rest of the day was conversations, drinks and then a long, wonderful dinner. And then a long, not-so-wonderful drive back to New Orleans, getting back late at night/early in the morning, whichever way you look at it. Sunday was a recovery and packing day, catching up two friends for lunch and dinner respectively, before driving to Georgia on Monday.

Tuesday, I attended a press session with some of the Top 10 dancers from Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance. It’s interesting covering an event as press when you are also a fan of whatever you’re covering. It was hard to be cool and professional when talking to Evan, for instance.  At one point, he was playing lacrosse with one of the tour folks and the ball rolled up a hill to land at my feet. I got to toss it to him and I was giggling girlishly (in my head, oh, I hope it was just in my head) as I tossed it back to him. Hold onto that journalistic integrity with all your strength. You’ve got to, as there’s still something of a prejudice against bloggers (I was there representing Pure SYTYCD, not my personal blog). I think the dancers definitely appreciate the bloggers from the fan sites cause they know their names and stuff about the show – also, as “my boys” (Phillip, Jason and Evan) pointed out, one of the recent fan site bloggers knew a lot of stuff that was going on with the tour that only the dancers knew!

Also, an advantage of blogging? Immediacy. A disadvantage at times, maybe. But, that day, total advantage. I was able to go to a nearby Kroger with a Starbucks (and wifi) and upload the pictures I’d just taken for our readers. Check out the post I did that afternoon here. I’ve been struggling on a book for years that relatively few people have seen, so it’s nice to have something in my life that I can write and have thousands of people see immediately. It’s helpful to have some instant gratification in my life and career.

It was another long day as Mamma Mia! met me at the Arena for the show that evening and the show itself was several (wonderful) hours. And then, being the total dorks and enormous fans that we are, we stayed afterwards (hours in the cold) for the meet and greet with the dancers. All of the dancers I’d met that afternoon remembered me when we met late that night. Unfortunately, most of my pictures didn’t turn out all that well, but I had some good conversations I will always remember and I did get a picture of Evan’s and my almost-matching wrist tattoos. It was both a freelance opportunity and a great bonding experience with Mamma Mia! Lyndsey Parker (Reality Rocks) set a great precedent when she took her mom to the American Idol finale. Take your mom to work, payback for all those “take your daughter to work” days growing up. 🙂

And then, of course, we got to watch the Top 20 announcement episode together the next night. Had dinner with high school friends and their daughter my last night in town and then rocketed back to New Orleans on Friday – especially for a book party for Barb.

Let me say one more time – it’s a wonderful thing to see your friends celebrated and no one deserves it more than Barb. Hosted at a gorgeous Midcity home right off the bayou, the event was simply breathtaking, what each and every one of us can aspire to one day. Reward for finishing and publishing our books. Earlier in the day, I’d been reading More of This World or Maybe Another at Cheers and Barb’s story “If the Holy Spirit Comes For You” made me cry in public. If you can make me laugh out loud on buses or cry in my local coffeeshop, you have completely moved me, sucked me into your world and, as I said earlier, that is the highest compliment I can pay a writer. I was so mad at the characters in that story and so mad at Barb for pulling all these emotions through my skin (painfully) and out of my body with her words. But apparently, it’s great advertisement for her brilliance because my neighbor S. saw how upset I was and when I told her why I’d been crying, she said, “I can’t wait to read that book!”

And that pretty much brings us up to date, to now. I’ve fallen out of the habit of being at Cheers everyday [:(] and today, just now, I noticed that they painted over the bathroom graffiti. It was really disorienting and kinda sad. But then, I just told myself – it’s a blank slate, a clean canvas. Like my book. What was there was great, but what will be there will be better. And I can’t wait to see what it will be.

Two people at the festival told me, “it’s your turn soon, to sit over there and sign books.” I have to take their faith in me and make it my own. And do the freaking work.

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Filed under bragging on, family, freelance work, Friends, So You Think You Can Dance, writing updates

BIG time bragging on Jamey

I subscribe to the GalleyCat email newsletter and today (thank goodness she warned me first), Jamey Hatley was featured as a Writer to Watch. She’s been stirring up major buzz for a few years now, most recently because she had an extraordinary piece in the Oxford American which was accompanied by eerily appropriate and gorgeous images. You can see pictures of her signing the issue for me here. The exceptional Ms. Hatley is one of the biggest reasons my book has lived to see a second draft and is now proceeding to a kick-ass third draft. Not only is she a phenomenal writer, she’s a mentor, friend, co-worker and partner in crime beyond compare.

I’m sure Jamey’s gonna blush when she reads this and maybe all this seems like overkill – but if it does, you don’t know Jamey and you haven’t read her. I’ll never be able to say enough good things about her, let alone more than enough.

One of my favorite pictures of Jamey is on my phone, so I’ll have to get that and post it for y’all soon.675A0042b

[10.21.09: Finally got that great pic of Jamey off my phone. Here it is.]

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Some updates

The Book: One reader has gotten back to me – finishing the book in a day and a half! Which is good news itself. She had some really good feedback and I did break down after 9 days and begin a bit (very little) work on the book. The things that need to be fixed are relatively minor and just a matter of layering in a bit more, fleshing some things out. Which is what I was hoping for. Now, it’s been two and a half weeks and except for that bit of work, I’ve been focusing on other things. But the cool thing is that my brain is still processing the book, coming up with the things that I need right before I lay down to sleep or in my sleep, etc.

The Next Major Project: I already have what I believe will be my next book in mind. It will be drastically different from TCB/TWC, very genre. Me said that it sounded like the kind of thing I used to write when I was younger, before grad school, more like the books we read growing up (Dean Koontz). I won’t divulge here, but it will have a kick-ass female protagonist who will literally kick ass. For now, I may do some plotting and research occasionally, but probably won’t get to working on this in a major way till NaNoWriMo in November.

SYTYCD: Very upset that Paris and Tony got booted last week. I really liked them both and enjoyed their hop-hop. Honestly, I think Tony experienced some reverse-favoritism because of his looks, his lack of experience and his height. I suspect Paris got sent home primarily because none of the other boys in danger were tall enough to partner her. She clearly danced better than the other two girls in the “dance for your life” aspect. I really hope Asuka leaves soon cause she annoys me and she seems really one-dimensional as a dancer. Of course I’m watching tonight.

[6.18.09: I claimed that no one was tall enough to partner Paris and watching last night, I realized that Ade probably is (of the guys in the bottom three last week). But I tend to forget about him. He’s a great dancer when he’s right in front of my face, but I never remember him. After watching last night, I’m agreeing more and more with this post by Lyndsey Parker where she discussed the potential for the judges to be giving opposite feedback. Something is off with the judges this season – they claim to be wowed by routines that leave me cold and needlessly pick on routines that I love. For instance: they loved Asuka and Vitolio’s waltz (Mary cried, which I don’t buy) and I was so bored and disinterested. I can’t connect to either of those performers and luckily, it seems like people (other than the judges) agree with me. Whereas I love Randi and Evan, adored their performance last night and the judges seemed to be looking for negatives to pick at. I tend to agree with this break down of the couples and last nights’ performances. We’ll see how it goes tonight. What I really love is that Mamma Mia! and I text each other throughout the show.]

Last night: I experienced a phenomenal show last night, The Devil Makes Three at Hi-Ho Lounge. I hesitate to say much about it here, for the moment, because I’m hoping to review the concert. We’ll see. However, it was perhaps the best live show I’ve seen in a good long while. I’ve already listened to the new c.d., Do Wrong Right, twice since I bought it at 1:30 this morning. The show was opened by a (local? it’s hard to tell, I can’t find them online) band called Death By Arrow that was pretty interesting, especially once they hit the mid-point of their set.

Some quick links:

An SLS teacher of mine, Tom Swick is in the latest issue of Oxford American.

I’m writing about the latest One Book One Community read, Poor Man’s Provence, for 225.

Dave Eggers writes non-fiction about Katrina.

AP Style gets with it re: Twitter.

Toad and Frog, some of my favorite characters, have new adventures.

This piece about race in a community magazine has a bit of a Rorschach test in its title.

Christian group wants to burn Francesca Lia Block books as part of an effort toward “Safe Libraries” and I’m thinking they’ve never read Fahrenheit 451. Which would make sense. This makes me very angry and there’s a lot more flip and funny and mean things I could say, but I won’t. Read the piece, read all the press and I’m sure those flip, funny and mean things will come to you naturally.

Ending on a good note, Flashlight Worthy Books is on Twitter. And everywhere else, too. 🙂

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Yay for Jamey Redux



I’ve thoroughly embarrassed Ms. Hatley again. However, not only am I incredibly proud of her, I’m also a big fan and I wanted an autograph for posterity. So there. :)-

The piece is amazing, Jamey. I can see all the pieces coming together and it’s really a pleasure to witness.

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