I was in Seattle two weeks ago for the third time in a year. It’s for my day job but I had the chance to do some book business. I love going to Seattle. It’s a beautiful city that smells of the ocean and clean air. I don’t know if it has clean air or not I just know it smells nicer than NYC which generally smells, well … ripe.
I did my workshop with the courts and my contractor promoting a federally funded blended (face-to-face and online) learning system, then had an afternoon to myself so … I wandered across the street to the Seattle public library with a copy of my book to see if I could donate a copy.
If you’ve never seen Seattle’s library it’s an awesome structure. I asked for the YA section. It covers most of a whole floor. I asked to speak to a YA librarian (not knowing the technical lingo for such – though librarian is a cool enough job title in my book, er, you know what I mean). Specialist Carol Lo came and saw me and after nicely hearing my pitch and my idea (I’d like to donate a copy of my book) said there was a whole process in bringing in copies of a new book into the library, but would be glad to take the single book I’d brought and make sure it got into the hands of some young people to read. Then she checked to see if they carried it (why did I assume they didn’t?) and indeed they had a copy.
This made my day. Thank you for being so helpful, Carol Lo. And thank you Seattle Public Library for carrying my book.
I ran up and down the hills by the waterfront and Pike’s Market early in the morning while the fog was still covering the water and a good part of the city. Im not a big runner (I enjoy having run but not running unless I have a rugby ball in my hands and others are chasing me with the intent to tackle) but I find it’s a great way to check interesting parts of a city out. The waterfront is beautiful.
Dinner at The Pink Door with my colleagues and interesting side trip to a male burlesque show (don’t ask, don’t ask) capped the trip and sent me on my return trip home.
And I love Deli No More (look at the graffiti all over the walls and ceiling) inside the YWCA. Bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches rock.
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.
Going to Cambridge MA this week for two days. Cambridge public library will be hosting an Author Trio event this Wednesday the 16th that I’ll be a part of with the wonderful Amalie Howard (author of Bloodspell) and Leigh Fallon (author of The Carrier of the Mark). We’ll be reading and answering questions so I hope to see you there if you’re in the neighborhood.
I’ll also be visiting local indies in the Cambridge/Boston area and a fencing salle or two (Bay State Fencers on Thursday the 17th in the early evening from 5-7pm) before I head home late thursday evening.
Oh… and the pictures are of Occupy Wall Street Zuccotti Park. We went on Friday, Veteran’s day, and took a bunch of pics. I also gave their library a copy of Open Wounds to add to their reading list. I’ll be putting up pics of the demonstration all week.
I thought my time had passed for a review of Open Wounds in the School Library Journal Review but it seems it hasn’t. My wife caught their review on the Barnes and Noble .com site and then looked and found it in the Journal’s October 1 reviews. I’m really pleased with it. Here it is in its entirety.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 10—Seven-year-old Cedric Wymann is raised by an alcoholic, violent father and a stoic, bitter grandmother. Going to the movies with her, he becomes entranced by the sword-fighting scenes in Captain Blood and other films of the day. A chance meeting with a famous swordsman cements his fascination with the sport. Eventually Cid and two friends fight off the neighborhood bullies. After the disappearance of his father and the suicide of his grandmother, Cid spends five years in a brutal orphanage before being claimed by a British cousin who suffered the loss of an arm, a leg, and an eye in the trenches of World War I. “Lefty” becomes a caring father figure to Cid and, along with a drunken, retired Russian fencing master, guides him through the next few years as he learns to fence and studies the great works of Shakespeare. At 16, he is hired to teach local actors how to perform swordplay on the stage. Fate brings his childhood friends back into his life, and they again face the bullies they fought off years earlier, but their tormentors are now under the protection of a wealthy businessman. Of course the final face-off is at a fencing competition. Lunievicz does a good job of portraying the New York City in the 1930s and ’40s that teems with violence and hard living. However, there is a lot going on in this novel. At times it seems too crowded with characters who symbolize many different aspects of the times, but they are generally well drawn and believable. In the end, this is a novel about fencing, and the descriptions of the instruments, the action, and the finely choreographed movements of this elegant sport are riveting.—Karen Elliott, Grafton High School, WI
Thank you Ms. Elliott for reviewing my book and for the good word on it. I’ll take “riveting” as a final word any day.
At the New York City Department of Education Library Services Conference in Brooklyn (that’s a mouthful) I was invited to do speed dating with librarians. I’ve done this before. At BEA in NYC . At ALA in New Orleans. As a matter of fact one woman I speed dated at ALA liked what I said enough to invite me to this NYC event. I feel like I can get a librarian to date me (or read my book which is probably more important). Well, you know what I mean. Connections, connections, connections. It is about relationships.
So these are the rules. There are tables full of librarians and in this instance all the authors were grouped together at one side of the room. There were some dozen tables and about 14 or 15 authors. I have to say I had to fight the competitive response. Because as soon as the microphone sounded authors sprang into action to find the biggest table first.
I shared my first table with a more established writer. We were nice to each other. Cordial. Smiled. We shared our time. But I could see it in her eyes. Neither one of us was going to share a table again.
When the buzzer sounded to shift tables you had to be fast or you wouldn’t get another table and would have to wait or share your time. I have to say. I’m slow and I need to get faster. Either that or talk less. At the least I have to be more aware of the buzzer. Because if you’re slow you miss the chance to get a seat at another table. The woman in charge took pity on me and found me an empty table three times in a row. Thank you, un-named librarian who helped this author to find his groove. Five librarians bought my book that afternoon – always a good thing. By the last table I, having to skip one round because I wasn’t quick enough to grab a seat, waited behind an author at a large table and as soon as the buzzer rang, took her seat. Another author raced over to try to sit in what would be my seat. I looked at him and shook my head slowly. Not this time. He moved away with a strained smile.
Some events just bring out the best in me.