Friday, March 25, 2011

Joining the Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger HopI just discovered the Crazy for Books Blog, and am joining the Hop. The instructions are:

"is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list below!!"

This week's question is "If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

A tough question! I have a few answers...

1. I am particularly in love with Vicki Pettersson's Sign of the Zodiac series, in which certain folks of the Zodiac bloodlines come into their powers and become, essentially, superheroes. Light side and dark. Superpowers. Hot men. I do love urban fantasy, and this is a great one. Do be sure you reD them in order, though, or they won't make much sense.

2. The series that first jumped into my head was the Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow. I'm a fan of strong female leads and paranormal adventure/romance, and Dante is so badass the devil hires her to keep his folks in line. (You don't get much stronger than that.)

3. I'd like for Nora Roberts to write me into one of her series. Her "In Death" series (written as J. D. Robb) is one of my long-time favorites; I love Eve Dallas as a heroine. I'm also enamored of her romance novels, which occasionally weave in magic and myth, and always have happy endings.

In all cases, the authors I'd want to "write me in" write strong women, and I'd love to appear on a page that way.

The Good Things About Travel: Reading & Arriving

I have a confession to make: I hate traveling. Don't get me wrong, I love to visit other places - it's the getting there that I don't like. My timing dependent on airlines and staff I have no power or authority over, crowded airlines, screaming children, overly perfumed bodies, and the guy with the overly-stinky bologna sandwich sitting behind, I have no love of in-progress travel.

The one part of traveling I do enjoy is that it is the one time I can usually indulge my reading habits without feeling guilty, since I find i cannot be productive in travel-mode. I haven't made the switch fully to e-books yet (I have an iPad, but I find it unwieldy, and I really just prefer dead-tree books), so I packed a number of books I've been wanting to read into my luggage. This past week, I traveled to Washington DC for the Computers in Libraries conference. On the way there, I read five books, and on the way back, I read another three. They were:

Darkfever - Karen Marie Moning
Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: The Four Disciplines of Making Any Organization World Class by Patrick Lencioni
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Five Temptations of a CEO: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
Silos, Politics and Turf Wars: A Leadership Fable about Destroying the Barriers that Turn Colleagues into Competitors by Patrick Lencioni
The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
The Three Big Questions from a Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable About Restoring Sanity to the Most Important Organization of Your Life by Patrick Lencioni

Except for the lack of poetry (I dislike reading poetry when I travel, I like to be in a more stable environment so I can steep myself in it and concentrate), this is a likely representation of my reading habits. Usually it's a little heavier on the Darkfever end and lighter on the Lencioni, but a mix of paranormal adventure/romance, business, education, murder mystery fiction, and horror is my usual reading menu. I'm looking forward to a week-long vacation in May. I plan to scour the apartment clean, and read indolently on the couch (or in the sun, if the weather allows).

I have noticed that between work, projects related to work, and my work on the doctorate degree, I have not been maintaining the kind of balance I need to allow me the time for my reading and creative writing. In fact, I've been an anxious, harried hot mess for the past few months, burning the candle at all three ends. This weekend I am going to take a page from Lencioni's The Three Big Questions and draft up a plan to get back into better balance and make time for the other things I love. Reading, writing, gallomphing with my basset hound, and seeing friends.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beautiful Book Cover!

IT'S HERE! Julie from Punkin House sent along the cover for The Kentucky Vein. The photo is courtesy of Erik Tuttle, an eastern Kentucky native who is also a former student worker of mine, a poet in his own right, and the one who insisted that I go get my MFA. Isn't it fantastic and striking? I am thrilled with it, and I hope it is something you'd be happy to have on your own shelf.

The Kentucky Vein. A Kentucky press. A Kentucky photographer. And having just spent the weekend driving to Lexington to see my loved ones (and hit the St. Patrick's Day parade in Lexington), I'm re-excited about Kentucky, and re-energized about the book. April 5th is the release date - stay tuned!

Free E-Books from Punkin House!

My new press is giving away free e-books in an attempt to get the word out about their authors, and their green ways! Check out what my fellow Punkin House authors are doing, and practice your e-book-fu! Follow the instructions here on their blog post to choose your free book and take advantage of the offer.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Readers, Writers, Relationships and my Long-Time Love, Stephen King

My favorite writer of all time is Stephen King. I've read everything the man has penned and made public, including the initial draft of Under the Dome which was at some point posted as a pdf on his site.

I'm not saying that he hasn't written books I did not enjoy - he has. He even introduced me to the fear that as you become more famous, fewer editors will actually *edit* your work. But I think of Stephen and I as a long-term relationship. We've been together for decades. He has some quirks that annoy me. Sometimes his books snore and keep me awake, or fall asleep when I'm ready for some hot action. Sometimes they take me out to an expensive dinner and we hit a show before they take me back home to ravish me. But I know and appreciate the rhythms of his work. He is a hell of a storyteller, which I admire and envy. And though I couldn't tell you much about his life (Maine, car wreck, addiction, thick glasses, Tabitha-wife...that's about it), I know the man's writerly voice. In every single book, he talks. While I thoroughly enjoyed Full Dark, No Stars, my favorite part of the collection was the end, where he wrote an extended essay/letter to the reader. I remember as a kid hitting the first "Dear Reader" section in one of his books, and feeling flattered that the writer would care enough to talk to me outside his story - that has never diminished for me. I still find it flattering. I find it *cozy*.

I want to be a writer like that - one my readers want to talk to in cozy-fashion once the story is all told and there's nothing left to do but talk. Right now my blog is my way of doing this, until I beguile some press into letting me Afterword something.

Though my work is not yet as much of a life timeline as King's (may the muses be kind and make it so!), looking back on my own work, I am always surprised at how much of me you can truly come to know through my writing, though I haven't Dear Reader-ed anyone. You can come to know me through my poetry - I look back on God In My Throat: The Lilith Poems (Bellowing Ark, 2009) and am still surprised how hurt, angry and defiant I was when I wrote it, how angry at God; that piece of me still exists, and flares every once in awhile. These Terrible Sacraments (Bellowing Ark, 2010) is still new enough that reading it in printed-book-form still surprises me. It brings back both the stark terror and the constant low-level fear I felt when my brother was stationed abroad, and surprises me with my current complacency. Knowing that others are still feeling this every day for their loved ones makes me feel lazy that I haven't kept that concern fanned in my own heart. Coming to my own work as a reader surprises me, once I let go of the "wish-I-made-that-edit" feeling.

When I do get to read The Kentucky Vein in April (Punkin House, 2011), I'm sure I will be surprised again at which piece of myself fell out onto paper. (Reading your own book in print is always very different from reading it as a word processing document - at least that has been the case for me. Do other writers feel the same?) This one is an exploration of things that grow, things that die, of fresh-air things and homestyle things, of things looking for a home. Yet another facet of the "me" that has accumulated over the years, and I can't wait to see it.

If you want more autobiographical material, you can find it in my creative non-fiction work, like my essay "I Wonder If He Felt Me Write Him Dead" in issue 14 of damselfly press, or my chapters in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages which discuss my health (thankfully good, now) and my career choice. Non-fiction always seems so much more naked, though. I rarely write it with an intent to publish it, though it does happen. Or you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Friendfeed, on my blogs, or by email for my day-today banalities. None of it really as satisfying as what King has done, I think, all rolled up into the experience of the book itself.

In any case, I hope for and look forward to a writing career in which I can make the sort of long-term connection with my readers that King has made with his. I want that sort of connection. I want to be un-self-conscious enough to throw on my writerly pajamas and just hang out with my own Dear Readers. Anybody have any Bailey's to throw in the hot cocoa?

Fanning the Fiction Fires

I just received wonderful news from poet Diane Lockward, who is the guest editor for the literary journal Adanna. My short-short story (about 1100 words) "The Reader" will be published in the upcoming issue!

I'm excited about this for a number of reasons. First, any acceptance is hugely flattering. Second, Diane is a fantastic poet, so being chosen by her puffs me up quite a bit. (Her book Temptation by Water is a must-read, if you haven't already). Third, I like this piece. I like it a lot. For someone else to like it a whole lot - enough to publish it, even - may mean that I'm not completely biased or crazy. (I've got another blog post percolating about a writer's love of their own work. Stay tuned). Fourth, did I mention that it's a fiction piece? FICTION, I say! I mean, I don't know that I'm quite ready to stop calling myself a poet, since there's more of that going on too, but it's nice to have talented writers encourage me as I work in a new-to-me genre.

It also gives me the impetus I need to not put away that collection of short-shorts that I thought might turn into a book. My fiction fire has been fanned!