Thursday, September 29, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. Oregon Shakespeare Festival is not local to me, but shows they incubated have made their way to DC, so I am familiar with some of their work.  Apparently the push to do wide ranging interpretations of Shakespeare and showcases of other work have not always been appreciated by some of the older theatergoers.  
2. This is still early speculation, but it looks like with COVID, pushing back quickly, a strategy that works with some other recoveries, may not be the right choice with COVID.
3. You may have heard that Lizzo, who was in town for a concert, stopped by the Library of Congress and checked out a few flutes, even bringing one to her DC arena concert for a bit. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Paper Books and an Epilogue!

Paper ie like books you can hold in your hands are available for both Bored by the Billionaire and Clear as Ice.  I appreciate everyone's patience on the Bored by the Billionaire print version, it took longer than I expected to resolve.  
Here's info about each book and a Bookshop link.  

Bored By the Billionaire - A City Entanglements Novella -  Lulu Williams is bored with dating billionaires. She has just ditched the latest and is on a late night train back to DC when she encounters a handsome stranger. They get kicked out of the quiet car together and agree to go from the train to a hotel room to explore this sexual tension. Lulu figures Aiden will be the perfect palate cleanser. He wasn't supposed to also be an interesting guy who doesn't treat her purse mogul life as a cute hobby, who takes her to museums, and eats fried food from a bag. And he especially wasn't supposed to be a billionaire.
Available at etailers here:

And in print:

Clear as Ice - A City Entanglements Novella -  Sienna is no stranger to social media. When she unwittingly starts something claiming there are no Asian Americans in hockey, and then discovers there is one on her hometown team, she knows it's up to her to make amends. And given her new no dating this year rule, she won't have any trouble keeping things professional. Al is used to people acting like he's the first or only Asian American in hockey. As the Domes' season moves towards the playoffs, he knows how to keep focused just on hockey. Even as Sienna turns out to be more than he expected in so many ways.

Scenes from this were originally posted on my blog for #HockeyFiction. Now the whole story will be available.
Available at etailers here: And in print:

And the bonus epilogue has gone out to newsletter subscribers!  The post is tagged subscriber only, so won't be visible to non-subscribers, but will be available to new subscribers who sign up.  

Monday, September 26, 2022

The Levels Do Not Exist

There's a piece of writing advice, that I find similar to "write every day" kind of annoying.  Because yes, when I write (or edit) every day, each day is so much easier.  I jump write back into the story and go.  But life does not always allow for that.  But I said I was here to talk about another piece of advice.  
That advice is, find some writing partners at the same level as you and work together and all of you will be successful.
So here's a thing.  I understand where this advice comes from.  Having writer friends who will understand what specific publishing things are is a great idea.  There is a temptation sometimes for newbie writers to go hunt down the most successful writer person in their location and be like hi, we should be writer buds.  
And so, that can happen. (Usually not like that though.  Please don't just knock on doors, or cold email or DM random people.)  
But the thing a lot of people skim over, because it doesn't make as cute a narrative, is the following things.  
Let's say newbie writer you attends a writer event, you find 9 other newbie writers and the ten of you decide to form a writer collective of sorts.  It's fab, you all share pages, stories, talk about next steps.  It's super great.  
And then, one of the folks in the group just stops responding.  Various members will reach out but they just don't say anything. 
Another member will immediately get a request from an agent.  The group will be incredibly supportive.  
And then another member will get a request from an agent, and it feels like this is it, obviously this group is blessed.  
A third person will get a request and sign immediately.  They will get put under a tight deadline and they are no longer able to finish reading anyone else's pages because they have to do a huge revision for their agent.  
Everyone will understand.  
A fourth person will win a contest and get connected with an agent and publisher.  They get a pub date.  
There will be discussions of splitting the group into two parts.  It was too large anyway.  Someone will suggest that the four who do or almost have an agent should form their own group.  
And so the five remaining will determine to meet up without those folks.  But now there's one person writing fantasy and four people writing contemporary, so the fantasy person will leave.  
One of the contemporary folks will disappear and someone will hear a rumor that the other group let them join.  
Now in my I swear it's fictional example, the three remain may also get published.  And at least one of those pre-pubbed folks is gonna go on submission and not get a deal.  And one of them will hate publishing so much they quit.  
My point is not don't find writer friends and/or writer partners.  Do it.  It's really helpful.  But one of the things that people don't tell you is - for reasons of illness, bigotry, and/or general life requirements, a lot of people leave publishing. It it true of many industries.  My day job, there are a ton of people who were there my first day, are not there today.  
Some of this is perseverance.  Some of this is stubbornness.  Some of this is luck.  But when people tell you, I formed a group of similarly serious writers and we all got published, it's not that it isn't true.  It's that the people currently in their group are the ones who made it.  So it's sort of self selecting. 
If you look at any debut class of authors, about 4 years out - some of them have stopped publishing, some have changed genres and/or age categories, and some are super strong.  And three of them are probably great friends and all talk about having such good friends.  
I say this not to be depressing.  Because the core of the advice is great.  Find writing friends with similar goals.  Work together on those goals.  But if your group doesn't end up being magic, just like a lot of the rest of publishing, keep going.  

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. First there was a typhoon in Alaska, and the Alaska Community Foundation is collecting donations for those affected. 
Also Hurricane Fiona affected Puerto Rico (among others, I'm sure more will be known as things dry). Someone compiled this list of organizations that are helping
and Haymarket Books is doing a buy one, they'll buy a book for an incarcerated person this week.  .  
2. I was pointed to this post by author Nathan Burgoine which raises some interesting questions about people who want to read romance where day to day realities are not present.  He also reiterates a thing I try, which is I try to be specific about things I disliked or liked but know to be a problem, because it may or may not bother you, or it may be just what you want.  
3. A reporter attempted to recreate the day in "Ferris Bueller's Day off" and documented it

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

"Heathers: The Musical"

Content note: Onstage murder by gun, onstage suicide attempt, onstage hanging, suicidal ideation, mass murder attempt, sexual harassment, bullying, fatphobia, homophobia, toxic masculinity, toxic parenting, swearing.
So here's the thing. I have seen the "Heathers" movie. It was weird and problematic and yet, somewhat compelling at the time. 
"Heathers" calls out a lot of problematic things, but also engages in almost every one of those things. Would it be possible to create a non-problematic musical based on this source material? Probably.
But this musical is not really interested in that. There are more people of color in this musical, and there are songs. That's about it for deep changes. 
For those unaware, there are three Heathers who are part of the popular crew, and Veronica who is tired of being bullied decides to show off her forgery skills to get in with the Heathers. Except being a friend of the Heathers kind of sucks. Spurred on by hot new kid JD, Veronica tries to change things but things spiral out of control. 
I have to imagine if you've never seen the movie, the musical feels a.little discombobulating. Some musicals you listen to the cast album and assume a lot happened between the songs. Not so here. They move quickly from life sucks, being a friend of Heather, this sucks, let's have sex, oh she's dead, and so on. 
To be fair, this show is trading on the stereotypes of high school, it's not really interested in subtleties. 
Now did I watch the whole thing? Absolutely. Do I Iove that there's a weird song about brain freeze? I do. 
And in some ways it's unfair to ask a black comedy to do more than shine a light on the ridiculous things. 
The pro shot was filmed before a live audience, though they are muted except at the end of each song, and, well, during one specific audience interaction. 
Currently available on the Roku Channel, in the US and Canada.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Banned Books Week

I used to post about banned books every year, and felt I might have run out of words on it. But in light of unprecedented pushes to censor, challenge, and remove books from various public places over the last year, from libraries, to schools, to bookstores, here I am again.
I am all for thinking critically about the books we choose to consume. I even think books that a factually wrong probably don't need to be readily available. But that's not what's happening. As the books available and read by kids provide access to stories about a wider array of people, a small but vocal group of people are trying to make access to these stories hard. 
Rudine Sims Bishop talked about books being windows, mirrors, and doors, and these folks are trying to limit the number of doors, make the mirrors only mirrors for some people. 
And it sucks. It sucks for teacher, librarians, and booksellers who are already underpaid, underfunded, and busy. 
It sucks for authors who wrote those books (see also underpaid, busy, etc). 
And it sucks for kids. Limiting kid's access to books won't prevent them from becoming who they are, but it may teach them that reading is boring, and/or books are only about one kind of person. 
I was lucky enough at my big age to go to a school where the required reading included authors of color, and non-Christian protagonists. Nothing makes me sadder than talking to kids about the books they are reading and discovering some of them are still getting the exact same or even a more limited required reading list. Some books are classics for sure, but there are so many books, and the idea that they aren't encouraged to read anything from this millennium is not only sad, it's a disservice to them. 
Also, all the arguments are crap. Yeah, I said it. I had to read Shakespeare plays. (Not a complaint!) Which means I read about sex, murder, war, and non-consensual drugging, to name a few things. No one seems to think that's harmful. So how is reading about a kid wanting to star in the school play harmful? (It is not harmful. Also, I am referencing the delightful Melissa here.) And yes Melissa is also about a character finding ways to express to folks their gender identity. But that comes up in Shakespeare too. And again, I notice Shakespeare is not on the top of the challenges list and Melissa is. 
Am I suggesting Shakespeare is bad? Nope. Just that the arguments are flimsy. And look, I did a buddy read with my brother one summer when he had summer reading and told him I super hated the book he had to read. Hated. But we read it and talked about it. 
Any parent who wants to instill values like, don't murder the king when he comes to visit, in their kid, absolutely should. (That's a Shakespeare reference by the way.) But banning books because they reflect people you want to pretend don't exist, is crap. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. I was sad to hear of the passing of Henry Fuhrmann, and sad that it was his passing that brought to my attention the work he had done to push for better more inclusive language use.  
2. There were some rule changes in the US Open this year, it will be interesting to see how this does or doesn't change things going forward.
3. As a writer I do think the book industry is fascinating, if not "Project Runway" TV worthy, but folks do try, and with the latest making attempts, Writer Beware has a round up of some prior attempts.   To be clear, there are some delightful book people involved in this latest attempt, I just think the process of writing is hard to document.  Unless you are going for a montage of: writer goes to get snacks, writer has plot problem so takes nap, writer types furiously but the screen reveals a video game on their screen.  

Monday, September 12, 2022

Breaks, Snacks, and Other Things

I have been watching the tennis and one of the things the players are great at, is resting. Between each game they sit, they grab drinks and snacks, they change clothes, and they rest. 
I read a study a while back that breaks are often most effective just before you hit peak productivity. The idea being that resting and/or fueling up before you get to your best streak, gets you a better streak.
Now I realize not all jobs allow you to be like, oh I think now is the best time for me to break. But it's easy to be like if I stay here and keep going, I'll stay in the zone. To treat getting up for a snack or a bathroom break as distractions, instead of things that support your body and mind and help you continue on. 
But as the Tony award winning Broadway show said, take a break. Okay, I realize posting this on a Monday is a little mean, but plan your break today, if it isn't time for it yet.  

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. This piece about Serena William's career pivot is a reflection on career pivots and retirement.  
2. Anne Helen Peterson does a great job of contextualizing the difference in college loan experience that has occurred in just a few short decades.  
3. Julia Roberts echoes what many lovers of romance and rom-coms have been saying, which is that it seems easy, and people devalue the effort.  And also that she's hoping we have more.  

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Imagined Futures

When I first moved into a place that was smaller than the prior place I had lived in, I talked to a few friends about how I expected to live there for a year a two and then would probably move somewhere bigger. So I was going to do a post move cull, having of course done a pre-move cull, but not too much, because when I lived in the next place, I would need that stuff. 
And the first few folks I said this too agreed. And the third looked at me and said, oh I think that's dangerous thinking. 
And I sat with that. So first, I should be clear I have not since moved into a larger place. Is that still on my someday list? Yup. But between job changes and other life changes, it is not currently my highest priority. 
But it's very easy to hang on to things, fancy outfits for when you get invited to an awards ceremony, a kitchen appliance for when you have more time to make that thing. I have a craft box from a craft subscription service that has gone out of business now, but every time I open it I am sure that very soon, but not today, I am going to make that thing. 
And it's very easy to hang on to these imagined future days, days with more money, more time, more space. And look, dreams are good, and I am not saying give up your dreams. 
But sometimes, the things you hang onto, like this craft box, are also looming like a specter. It's taking up physical and mental space I could be dedicating to things I will actually do in the next year. 
And so maybe, it needs to go. 

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Three Interesting Things

1. Thrilled for both readers and booksellers in Virginia that the case about selling books has been dismissed.  
2. This story on what is a dumpling, is a fascinating look into the variety of wrapped food.  
3. I know and adore many of the people in this story about the robust romance book lover scene in the DC area, so of course I love this story.  Like Parker said, I can remember when you had to go to a chain to get anything with reliable smoochies, I am so pleased at the change.  
Also, you may have heard that the water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi has reached a new point.  This post has some organizations helping residents.