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What “Being On Book Tour” Means

Well.

Hi there. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. Things have been a little cockadoodle, as they say in the dark hinterlands of my brain.

I have had an amazing few months. But that also means I have been neglecting this blog, which is really sad, because I really like this blog, this talking to you. Sure, I keep a diary. But somehow, work feels different when you know it’s being read by others, doesn’t it? Also, a lot has happened, and while none of it has changed much in my status quo, it is still worthy stuff to be sharing.

I have been on Book Tour. Many people have been asking How That Feels. Here is how it feels:

  • Before you go: “I have to leave the house again? For how long, this time? OH OK FINE.
  • During the events: This [reading/workshop/panel/event] is the best thing ever! I want to do this forever!
  • After the events: …What just happened?

Yeah. That’s pretty much what it feels like. But here’s what it really is:

  • Staying with friends, in their spaces. Taking that in; feeling the pieces of the puzzles–click, clack, flippity–that are your friends fall together, because you have been where they live, walked where they walked, had tea and coffee from their kitchen appliances.
  • Passing on all the knowledge you’ve amassed up until now; watching folks get excited about their own projects.
  • Exploring towns and cities you’ve always wanted to spend more time in, even if it’s freakishly fast-moving time.
  • Seeing friends you might not otherwise get to see, even those you haven’t seen in a decade or more.
  • Seeing friends you only, until now, knew online. Realizing the pleasant fizzzzz that is an online friendship gelling into something tangible–a hug! a shared interest in good liquor and food!
  • Meeting new writers you never heard of; discovering work from writers you never knew; hearing them read from their own works and walking away feeling ever so much wealthier for it.
  • Meeting booksellers. Getting to thank them in person for the work they do to forward literature.

So yeah. That’s what being on book tour is like. And that’s why I’ve been gone. But I’ll be back here more frequently, I promise. I have missed you guys. So here are some photos, as a thank you for sticking with me, along with some links. And you can sign up for my brand-spanking-new newsletter here. It’ll go out once a month and cover what I’ve been reading, some things I saw that you might be interested in, and maybe even some embarrassing photos of my drawings. :) (More likely it’ll have some writerly tips and tricks, and some other brain flotsam like upcoming events and locations.)

Okay! The photos!

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Not A Self-Help Book: The Misadventures of Marty Wu now lives at the Lopez Bookshop. I was invited to appear there in conversation with my good friend Iris Graville.

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Signing books! So much fun when surrounded by an amazingly curated selection like they have at Lopez Bookshop!

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In Seattle, I got to read at the incredible Looseleaf Reading Series, along with four other really talented writers and the amazing musician Ramona Shore. Here, my talented friend, Whidbey Island MFA classmate, and Looseleaf co-founder Samantha Updegrave introduces us, along with Looseleaf co-founder Suzanne Warren. (A tremendous shout-out here to my friend Roz, without whom I am reasonably sure only a fraction of this PNW traveling would have been possible.)

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This is Iris’ dog Buddy. <3.

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Writers leave notes for each other.

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Sunrise, from the front window of the house we rent while on Whidbey Island.

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The Kenton Library, in Portland, OR, where I hosted a workshop on memoir smack-dab in the middle of the day, and then followed with drinks with a friend I’d only ever known on the Interweb. What a treat! My friend Haley Isleib, a children’s/young adult writer and screenwriter, invited me to teach here. Friends are awesome.

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Mt. Hood, Oregon–from the Fruit Loop. Fruit Loop! Not a breakfast cereal. Hosted by my friend Jo, from HIGH SCHOOL! Eeee!

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Llama llama ding dong, on the Fruit Loop. (Not just fruit, obviously.)

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In New York, I was honored to appear alongside Jen Baker (creator and moderator of Minorities in Publishing), Hasanthika Sirisena, and Leland Cheuk in a panel at the amazing Word Up Community Bookstore in Washington Heights. Y’all, you need to go to this incredible space. Tremendous thanks to Hasanthinka for setting this event up!

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In Chicago, I was in conversation with Alexandra Salomon, producer for WBEZ’s WorldView at Chicago’s wonderful Women and Children First Bookstore. I’m privileged to call her my friend and proud to count her among my peeps.

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And these people. These people saw my novel in its very first draft. They are Tabitha Olsen and Nancy Stevenson, members of my Chicago critique group and talented writers themselves. You can buy Nancy’s book for middle-graders, about a code-cracking, plucky heroine, here. It’s called “Capitol Code,” and it is every page worth a read.

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I miss you, Chicago.

 

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In wonderful Decatur, Michigan, I was hosted by my fast-talking, speedy-thinking friend, Ami Hendrickson. If you’re in need of a writing coach, Ami can help. We had amazing conversations and have wonderful synergy, and I was so happy to visit her and learn from her. Here she is, teaching her class on narrative.

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St. Joseph’s, Michigan, where I visited with Listen to Your Mother host Kim Jorgenson Gane, was a wonderful town to hang out in. I will visit again, St. Joe’s. Get ready.

IMG_4524And the whole shebang kicked off with a trip to Skokie, Illinois, to teach a workshop on memoir at the Skokie Public Library. Folks, public libraries are IT. Go. Visit. Support.

Okay. That’s it. More soon. I promise. In the meantime, don’t forget: The Newsletter!

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

the rest of my Whidbey photos, and a brain dump

So you know when your brain goes on overload, and you realize that you’d better download the stuff before your hard drive breaks and you lose all the stuff? That’s where I am now. I’ve been out in the big city twice in as many days, and although I’m most certainly not always at my best in the city, I am almost always awake and alert (“What’s a lert?”) and, perhaps worst of all, wide open to all the sights and sounds and input, and that’s, I think, why I’m overloaded.

Then, too, it’s a quarter to five in the morning, it’s raining, the porch door is open, the temperature is in the sixties…these are all things that make me percolate, which is good, because I have an essay due every fricken week for non-fiction class, and I’d better have stuff percolating.

Okay. First of all, here are some photos from my time in Seattle and Whidbey.
I got to see Hollie Butler for the first time in almost 15 years. Who is she? She is my friend from the one summer I spent as a camp counselor in Oregon. It was the first time I was ever able to say I had an amazing summer, and mean it. Sorry, Mom and Dad, but I learned so much that summer and experienced so many different things…some day I will write about that.

Hollie and I wrote letters back and forth for a little while. I think I may have gone to see her in Seattle when I went skiing at Whistler the following year, but I haven’t seen her since then, and that would have been 1994. Wow. (Some days, I really love Facebook for reconnecting me with people like Hollie.)

On the way there I saw these buildings, which I loved for their color and their lines. I guess they go into the “I took pictures of this cos I want to draw it later” category.

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I also got to see another old friend, from my advertising days. I think she might be one of my favorite people, in part because she and her husband are wise without being old. I love this about them. When Ina and I worked together, I learned so much from her. Ina has this view from her home office window. It also goes into the aforementioned category.

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Here are some snaps from Whidbey Island itself.

These are my friends Robert and Cynthia. Cyn has been my roommate from the first semester on. We were all housemates this semester. Good fun!

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Here’s another snap I’d like to try my hand at, except the colors are kind of intimidating.

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Here’s one I did try my hand at, and that’s both material for another post and probably an essay on how taking drawing classes has made me a better writer.

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Here’s Cyn, reading her work. We do student readings at Whidbey. That absolutely makes us better writers.

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Here’s Grier’s dog, Popeye. People, do you understand how much of a difference having a dog around makes? A lot. (Also material for another essay.)

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I’ll close with this freakishly Monet-like scene, which was what we saw ever day during our afternoon classes. This one I won’t be trying to draw. Frankly, Monet already did it.

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Next post, a breakdown of the drawing lessons. Or maybe a rundown of these two days in the city, which have given me a lot to think about, all by themselves.

And oh, here’s a gratuitous Sprocket photo.

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Do you think I can squeeze in a nap before the day begins? Or should I watch some more BBC mysteries on Netflix?

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

White Plains at Night

I like photography a lot. When I have a visual record of things, I feel much more complete. Because I’m a writer professionally, I sometimes feel confined to my chosen medium, so it’s nice to step out of it some days.

On my way home from a day in the city the other night, I snapped a few photos with my Blackberry that I think evoke a side of White Plains that most folks never see. At night, White Plains virtually shuts down. Except for the water fountain in front of the Starbucks and the traffic lights, there’s very little that’s moving.

Last Wednesday night it was misty and foggy and I was a little bit drunk, which added to the mysticism of the whole thing. Here’s what I saw.

Main Street, just after the train station.

The aforementioned water fountains, with police cars adding a little something.

The passage and street beneath the Galleria Mall.

The gaudiest storefront on the planet.

I always liked this logo and evocation of a favorite sammich.

Streetlights and trees.

A normally busy thoroughfare goes utterly abandoned at night.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.

Photodump

I like this photo of Alison.

Alison and I went to the New York Botanical Gardens last weekend. We had a terrific time despite hot and sticky climes, and I took some photos. So nice to see some new plants and immerse myself in greenery.

Gorgeous trees greeted us at the Botanical Gardens.

This plant looks like it was inspired by a roller coaster.

This one was reminiscent of a waterfall, but felt much pricklier.

This one, called, appropriately, Lamb's Ear, was very comforting to the touch.

Not a copper sculpture, a cabbage. Gorgeous.

I have left the NYBG and entered Whoville.

Alison and me. We are spotted because we stood under a sprinkler for a bit; it was that hot.

Not a leather bookbinding, tree bark. Warm and lovely.

Not a stencil in the sky; a breed of maple leaf.

love these colors. the tonality is so soothing.

butt-cactus. yuck.

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Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.