Open Wounds

Events

Sights, Sounds, and Smells

Fencers engaged in match

My friend and mentor Dr. Digby from CW Post LIU (my alma mater) has asked be to take her small English class to Manhattan to see the world of Cid Wymann first hand. They’re reading Open Wounds now. I’m going to talk to them about how you can make the past come alive in a historical novel.

I’m very excited about it (not the amount of work I will put into it – more than I need to probably but that’s my problem). I went to talk to The Fencer’s Club (on 28th) folks today to see what time on a Saturday October 20th, would be good to bring a dozen non-fencers to watch the goings on and maybe get a short talk about the history of the club – and… not get in the way of the fencing.

I’ll have them sit and listen to the sound of fencers going at it. I love that sound. Then there’s that smell of sweat from fencers who haven’t cleaned their uniforms in ages. Ahhh.

Then the Hotel Chelsea where Cid lives with Lefty down on 23rd. It’s under construction with a new interior renovation and new owners so we can’t go inside but at least the outside looks the same.

Then two avenues over to where I placed the fictional Gotham Fencer’s Club but where at some point prior to 1930 there was an author’s club near 28 West 24th Street.

Then down by subway – the R train – to the bloody angle (not from Gettysburg) in Chinatown on Doyers where the Rescue Society Mission used to be and where I placed an alley that leads down and deep underground to an opium den where Lefty tries to disappear from the pain of life.

Finally we’ll end up a little north at the lower east side on Grand where Siggy lived at the Amalgamated and over to Orchard where he worked selling pickles from a push-cart.

I might be a little too ambitious.

We’ll see.

I’ll let you know as I get closer.

Oh… and just ignore the fact that I’ve been away form a month and some. I’ll tell you about it later.

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A Downpour of Broken Sticks

Have you ever had one of these kinds of days?

I’m walking to the subway from 23rd and 6th, heading towards 7th avenue. I’m on my way to AMTRAK up on 32nd at Penn Station. I have an overnight bag and my computer bag with me. It’s pouring rain. I don’t have an umbrella. I’m not late yet but I feel the pressure of the clock ticking. I have about fifteen minutes flex time.

The rain comes down harder.

I duck into Duane Reade and look for an umbrella. There’s a long line of ten people all waiting to buy umbrellas. I pick one off the rack and get in line. There’s only one cashier and he is slow. I wait ten minutes then ditch the umbrella and head back outside.

It’s raining even harder.

I go back in to get the umbrella – wait 10 more minutes on line then rip off it’s sheathe, open it and head into the rain.

The umbrella is small and my back starts to get wet. If I don’t hurry I’ll be running for the train at Penn, maybe miss it. My heart is starting to beat faster.

I’m almost at the 1/9 on 7th Avenue and 23rd. There’s construction and scaffolding over the stairs down that extend to Pong Sri, a Thai restaurant I’ve been to a number of times before. It’s crowded and I try to step to the side as a blind man comes out of the aisle next to the stairs. The rain is drumming. People step away. I have no place else to go. I bump into the scaffolding. The blind man’s walking stick gets between my legs and I snap it in half.

“You broke my walking stick!” the man yells. He’s maybe in his thirties, wearing a black tee-shirt and pants and is getting wet. I’m getting wet too.

“I’m sorry,” I say reaching down to try to put the two pieces together. I thought walking sticks were extendable and collapsible so maybe I could just fix it.

“It’s broken!” he says again and grabs my arm, threading his arm through mine and turning me around. “Now you’re taking me to where I have to go.”

“Sure,” I mumble, looking forlornly at the subway entrance only ten feet away. “Yes, I will.”

“You’re damned right you will,” he adds as punctuation.”

We start to walk faster together, him holding me tight. “Where are you going?” I ask over the sound of the rain. I look at him and don’t look where we’re going. Another blind man is in front of us. Before I realize what’s going to happen they collide shoulder to shoulder, my man pushing into me as he spins around.

“Watch where you’re going!” my guy yells then turns towards me. “You have to watch out for me.”

“Your mother!” the blind man who passed us yells over his shoulder, tapping away with his cane.

“Fuck you!” my guy shouts back still moving forward.

“Fuck you, you asshole,” the other man yells then disappears into the downpour.

“I’m sorry” I say. “That was my fault. I wasn’t looking.”

“Damned right it was your fault. You have to watch out for me as we walk.”

“Right. Now where are we going?”

“135 West 23rd street,” he says.

I look to the left and see the Council for the Blind building and guide him carefully past a few other pedestrians and into the front door.

“Thank you,” he tosses over his shoulder at me.

“I’m sorry again about your stick,” I say as the door closes. I don’t have my umbrella anymore. I don’t know where it went.  I turn around to head back towards the subway.

And the rain continues to come down.


Doing the Rocky Dance

I was away last week at the Virginia Festival of the Book. I did no blog entries. I’ve been in Charlottesville Virginia, moving between the Omni, downtown, Emmit Road B&N, Allied Road Charlottesville Fencing Alliance and Allied Yoga. Oh, and the AMTRAK station.

I took a seven hour AMTRAK ride down and wrote some while my butt rode the rail. That made me smile.

Here’s the other thing that made me smile besides the beautiful town, the nice and friendly people, and the warm weather and flowers.

Barnes & Noble in Charlottesville carried my book there. There’s no other B&N in the country that carries my book. But in Charlottesville VA, they carry it. That’s cool.

It’s in two different places, the New Teen Fiction section and the table with all the books from the book festival authors – at least that’s where it will be until the end of today when the festival closes. This was the best series of events I’ve ever done. Seriously. If you ever get the chance to do this as an author, don’t hesitate, do it.

Panel I, Fiction: Conspiracies and Obsessions – I did with three very cool authors – Alma Katsu (The Taker), Amelia Gray (Threats), Virginia Moran (The Algebra of Snow) – and an even cooler moderator named Meredith Cole. Meredith knows how to moderate (not as easy as it would sound). She gave us a series of questions she would ask ahead of time, met us 30 minutes before the event to get to know us and help us settle in, and read all four of our books so that when she introduced us and asked us questions she knew what she was talking about. Meredith rocks. And, she’s a heck of a good mystery writer herself.

There were over 60 people at the even at the Barnes and Noble in town. They were standing in the aisles and sitting on the floor. That was a very cool thing to see. I don’t know who they were there to see and I don’t care. We all had a good audience to talk to and the panel kicked butt. Seriously. These women were funny and interesting and I added a touch or two myself, but watching the ladies work, I wanted to be in the audience myself. I had fun and… sold ten books, at least as far as I can remember. j

The Festival volunteers were helpful. The B&N staff were helpful. I probably had too much coffee because my hands shook. Or it could have been the influence of the Christianity section behind us. Or that might have been my nervousness showing. In any case it couldn’t have gone better.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about the fencing. Oh yeah, and Panel II with Elizabeth Nunez.


Symbiotic Stew

I travelled to Phili on Monday.

I took the day off from my job to teach a 1hr distance learning writing workshop to 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders at three Pennsylvania High Schools. There were about 40 kids in attendance at the three sites. I taught from the UPENN distance learning center, called MAGPI and it was a very cool thing to do. Each school shows up on a huge TV screen as a small 1 foot by 2 foot rectangle. I teach from the MAGPI studio – a small ten by ten space with three cameras, my laptop and Powerpoint, some notes, and a copy of my book to read from. The MAGPI folks don’t pay me for teaching and I cover my own traveling expenses,but I get to teach classes on writing to young writers and that makes it worth every penny.

Today I talked about first lines of novels and how they start the relationship between reader and writer. I’m into this relationship idea. Readers read and interpret and writers direct the interpretation through the words they write. I know this sounds very basic – like I should have gotten this before -but I didn’t. I just had it in my head that writers wrote and readers read – separate from each other. We’re not. We depend on each other, need each other. We’re symbiotes in a way.

The kids were great and I enjoyed speaking with them. They came up with first sentences for their own to-be-written novels that were terrific. I hope to see one in book form one day. It’s the second time I’ve done a workshop with the MAGPI folks and they’ve invited me back for a third workshop in the spring.

On my way home I stopped at a nearby public library and met Dan, their YA specialist. I gave him a copy of my book for the library. He had a big smile on his face when I gave it to him.

I love libraries.


Conspiracies, Obsessions, and Crossing Boundaries

Virginia Festival of the BookIt’s coming.

My first book festival in which I’ll be on a panel discussing a subject that has to do with my book.

I’m very excited about this. So far I’ve been to a few (3) conferences (ALA, BEA, and a NYC Dept. of Ed Librarians Conference) and each of them I’ve signed and done some author speed dating but no presenting on panels.

It seems like a cool thing that an author would do. I’m excited about it.

The Virginia Festival of the Book invited me (thanks to my great publicist JKSCommunications!) and as a Yankee, it’s a real honor to have been picked. Maybe the road trip last summer down south paid off. Whatever Goddesses were looking out for me I’m one happy camper.

I’ll be on two panels.

Panel 1: Conspiracies and Obsessions – novels of unravelling lives – with Alma Katsu, Virginia Moran, and Amelia Gray (and me). It’s an adult author line-up, not YA. I’ll have to think about the context but it sounds like a good fit for Cid Wymann and Open Wounds.

Panel 2: Crossing Boundaries – novels about family drama, love, and loss beyond borders – with N.M.Kelby, Jacqueline E. Luckett, and Elizabeth Nunez (and me). I can’t forget me. Also adult novels but I think I’ll fit in with Open Wounds just fine.

The festival is on March 21-25 and I’ll be on panel 1 on Thursday the 23 and panel 2 Friday the 24. If you’re in Charlottesille VA around then… come say hello. I’ll be the author with the big smile on his phiz.

And here’s the real kicker. The panels will be at a Barnes and Noble. They won’t carry my book normally in store (although they do sell it online) but I’m betting they carry it for the festival. Oh yeah. Uh huh. Oh yeah. I’m still stopping at indi New Dominion Bookstore – oldest in VA. That’s going to be even cooler. Maybe I can convince them to carry my book…

Here’s the link: Virginia Festival of Books