Woo-hoo!!

Exciting! The Perfect Specimen is featured on one of my favorite blogs, Bernalwood.

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This blog features the goings-on of my neighborhood, Bernal Heights. One of my favorite posts:

“Good samaritan flags hazardous piles of dog doo on Cortland”

and this one, for the headline alone: Elusive Bikini Jogger Sighting Provides Important Reassurance During Uncertain Times

This is the first press the book has gotten and I’m so happy about it! I’m honored to have the book amongst lost parakeets, sunset photos, and crime reports. Seriously honored, not sarcastic honored. I feel like I just earned my first Bernal neighbor participation badge!

Launch!

sslaunchI’m about to send an email to my friends announcing the official launch of The Perfect Specimen. Yay and Yikes!

I’m really glad I self-published this novella. It was a great learning experience. I used Scrivener to create the e-pub files, bought some ISBN numbers to make it official, and uploaded it to Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing.

Creating the epub files was the most difficult part, mostly because I had an out-of-date version of the software and banged my head against a wall for hours before, duh, updating, at which point everything worked perfectly!

It is cool to be able to click on Amazon anytime and get stats on how the book is doing. Yes, if you are obsessive this could be a problem (reload, reload), but I appreciate having this data and I’ll take the novella’s rising and falling rank with a grain of salt.

The downside of having total control is having total responsibility. Instead of doing any new writing I’ve been designing the book cover, writing summaries and blurbs, getting the email list together, trying to find places that might review it etc. Still, it isn’t really a downside. I need to experience all this so I can decide, Do I self-publish Six, or do I try to find an agent and publisher? I’ll be able to ask better questions now that I’ve brought a book to market on my own.

I’m so excited to have this novella out there! It’s done!! It’s real! Thanks everyone for reading.

Airwords at Airwaves

We’ve been to Iceland Airwaves a few times, but there had never been a literary component to the festival. I was really excited when someone forwarded me this article from Reykjavik’s English-language newspaper, The Grapevine.

Icelandic author and director Andri Snær Magnason planned an event “to bring together writers and musicians in a live setting, showcasing another side of the rich creative exchange happening at Airwaves this year.”

In preparation, I read most of his science fiction novel LoveStar on the plane ride over. It’s freaking beautiful. Made me feel like my writing is a beat up old pick up truck hauling stuff around while his is a fusion-powered Tesla. Which is kind of okay. Some days we need a pick up truck, some days we need a Tesla. There is room for all kinds of creative works.

The reading was great…but what really blew me away was the unexpectedly amazing visual art by Marcos Zotes. The words Andri was reading made fluid. Really beautiful.

am reads 2I enjoyed this reading but I’ll be frank, I find the atmosphere at Harpa, the enormous new concert hall, to be antithetical to what I’ve experienced in the past at Iceland Airwaves. When I fly 4000 miles to a tiny city on the top of the world, I expect a distinctly Reykjavik ambiance. This concert hall is lovely but could be anywhere.

Fortunately, I got what I was craving days later at an off-venue “poetry jam session”.

Daníel Bjarnason and Jófríður Ákadóttir (of Samaris and Pascal Pinon) accompany readings by writers associated with local grassroots poetry collective Meðgönguljóð as well as heavy-hitters Andri Snær and Ryan Boudinot.”

This was what I came for! This place was so off-venue it was actually closed when I arrived. I wandered back and forth, checking my phone, sure that a combination of jet lag and hangover had sent me to the exact opposite corner of the city. But no. Eventually I noticed a couple of Icelanders taping up an A4 size piece of paper to a window with a note written in ball point pen. I was in the right spot.

The tent-covered outdoor area was populated by friends and family. Andri Magnussen, to whom I’d awkwardly introduced myself after the Harpa reading, recognized me and we chatted briefly. He signed my Kindle.

AM_readsI also met Seattle author Ryan Boudinot, who read from his book Blueprints of the Afterlife. I might have been imagining it, but I think we both had a touch of the, “Oh my god, we’re in Iceland! WTF?”

rb_readsMusician Daníel Bjarnason somewhat bemusedly accompanied the readings on an electric keyboard. My favorite moment was when Ryan Boudinot turned to him and requested something that sounded like an angry glacier…then laughed and said this was probably the only place on the planet where someone might know what he meant!

Procrasti-Litquation

Argh…day four of Litquake and I’m feeling guilty. I haven’t written in days. I’ve got to get The Perfect Specimen in shape for e-publication and instead I’m listening to authors read from their novels! I don’t know how famous authors like Neil Gaiman get anything done. After today (I’m attending three Litquake events) I’ve got to get back to work.

Yesterday I heard Robin Sloan read from his book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. The excerpt was great! I bought the audio book the moment I got home. (Audio books don’t count as procrastination because I can listen to them while I do other things.) I asked Robin if he narrated the audio book (he was a great reader) and he said the publisher advised him not to, as the work is time consuming, difficult and tiring. He did do a small bit though. There is an audio book within the audio book and he read that part. He said he was very satisfied with how it turned out and glad he didn’t have to read the whole thing.

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After this I caught BART to the Makeout Room for “Barely Published Authors.” I was worried this might be hit or miss, something like an open mic night, but it turned out to be really well curated and all the material was great.

My hand’s down favorite? Trent Tano, reading from his first novel, Paris High NoonCowboys fighting Nazis in Paris? I want to read this now! I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo because this guy is all in…cowboy outfit, gun, ammunition, hobby horse. He really brought the story to life.

Makeout Room turned out to be a surprisingly good venue for a literary event. The space was festive and the sound, very good. Kalpana Mohan reads, below.

barely

During intermission I was treated to a cautionary tale. A woman began chatting with a friend of hers who was sitting next to me at the bar. She wanted to join a critique group, but wasn’t ready to expose her work to strangers. The guy was really helpful, giving her lots of ideas, all of which she rejected. “Too many people,” “Too far from my house,” blah blah blah. The guy asked questions, trying to determine what she’d written and how far along she was. She monopolized what could barely be categorized as a conversation.

The punchline? SHE HASN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING!! She has an idea. Oh my god. This is where I reveal I’m not a very nurturing person: I wanted to grab her and tell her to shut up and stop wasting that nice guy’s time.

Then, chagrined, I realized that my next piece of writing should be a strongly-worded admonition to myself to NEVER do this to any of my friends again. Oh yeah, I’ve done it. All those hours up by myself in the attic, working in solitude. Give me a room full of people, a Jack and Coke and some poor soul is going to get an earful. I think it’s time to join a writer’s group!

The Paul Auster interview

More than a few people left the September 19th Paul Auster/Daniel Handler “conversation” disappointed. I wasn’t one of them, but I sympathized.

I’ve been to other “conversation” lectures and felt lucky to be a fly on the wall of an extremely brightly-lit and very large living room where I was able to overhear two  intelligent people have a chat on whatever crossed their minds.

This conversation was actually an interview–Daniel Handler had questions prepared and often referred to a twisted piece of paper he held. This was all well and good, as Paul Auster was smart, frank, down to earth and completely captivating, but before the lights dimmed, nearly all the actual conversation in the audience around me was centered on Daniel Handler. How they loved his stuff. How amazing he was. How terrible one or the other person felt that they’d never read a Paul Auster book.

Mr. Auster held center stage, but Mr. Handler’s few comments were so spot on, so funny, such a momentary relief from the gravity of literature, I wished the two of them had been able to converse as friends and forget we were all there.

Young Love

Yes, I know this isn’t science fiction, but the Porchlight storytelling series is a lot of fun. Join me if you are in the neighborhood.

Monday, February 20
Verdi Club
2424 Mariposa St., San Francisco
Doors at 7, show at 8

This month’s theme: Young Love

Sweet, romantic, and innocent or awkward, confusing, and misguided. Or sweet and misguided. Or hot and confusing. Awkward and romantic. Doomed? Epic? Come listen to stories of being in love during a time when we were clearly less mature than we are now.

About Porchlight:

For the past nine years, Porchlight has been San Francisco’s premier storytelling series. Each month, co-founders Beth Lisick and Arline Klatte invite six people from different backgrounds to tell ten-minute true stories without using notes or memorization. Past storytellers include some of the area’s most entertaining school bus drivers, mushroom hunters, politicians, socialites, sex workers, musicians, authors, systems analysts, and social workers.”

Dreams With Sharp Teeth

A few years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Harlan Ellison being interviewed at South by Southwest in conjunction with the release of a documentary about his life, Dreams with Sharp Teeth. Wow, what a guy! He initially came across as cranky, but as I listened to him rant, I realized he is a very intelligent man frustrated by a world that can’t keep up. I wasn’t able to catch the film at the festival, so I was excited to learn SF in SF is putting on a screening. I much prefer seeing a movie on a big screen with other fans. Join me if you are in San Francisco tonight!

SF IN SF PRESENTS FILM NIGHT!
Wednesday, February 15
SF in SF presents

IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS
HARLAN ELLISON – DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH

Doors and cash bar open at 6:00PM. Film begins at 7:00PM

The Variety Preview Room Theatre
The Hobart Bldg., 1st Floor; entrance between Quiznos & Citibank
582 Market St., 2nd at Montgomery
http://www.sfinsf.org