Blog Tour

I was invited by the awesome and talented Sean M. Davis to participate in this blog tour. Sean and I met this year at Borderlands Press Boot Camp and have since caught up at the World Horror Convention in Portland, OR.

Sean is the author of Clean Freak and other stories. He is a good writer and a pleasure to hang out with. You can read his answers to the questions and learn more about him here.

And now the questions…

1) What are you currently working on?

In addition to editing some short stories, I am working on my first novel. Although it started out as a book about werewolves and vampires, it has morphed into something altogether different. Read: no fangs. I’ve constructed my own world and am enjoying setting the rules.

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

The novel would qualify as more urban fantasy than horror. I’ve always viewed urban fantasy as a mishmash of other genres, including fantasy, horror, and romance. My goal is for the book to have elements of all three.

3) Why do you write what you do?

Mostly I think urban fantasy is a lot of fun. I love seeing how supernatural beings behave in our regular, everyday world. Do the humans know about the super powers? If so, what challenges arise? And if not, how do those otherworldly beings get away with using their magic?

The magic is the key for me.

And I use the word “magic” broadly. Not so much the wands and potions you’d find in Harry Potter (although I think that’s great), but more along the lines of what you’d find in Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman or any of the scenes involving the House of the Undying in Game of Thrones.

When an ordinary object or place changes without warning, right before your eyes. That’s the stuff that really gets me going.

4) How does your writing process work?

You mean after the whining and crying?

At this point in my career, I have more experience writing short stories than novels. But a novel seems to require more structure and organization than a short story. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I would be able to use my skills as a former math teacher in such a creative endeavor. Writing a novel is like piecing together a puzzle, and my math brain loves that.

As such, I take many notes and use an outline. I know some people don’t like the outline, but I find it helpful. It’s not written in stone, so if I find myself being pulled in an unexpected direction by a character or scene, I go with it and re-write the outline.

When I’m writing a particular scene for the novel, however, I do find my process to be similar to my short story process. And for me that means it’s all about the dialogue.

In my head, I often hear one character yammering on about something, or two characters having a compelling conversation. And they won’t shut up until I write it down–usually at 11 pm, right as my head hits the pillow. After some grumbling, I convince myself that, no, I will not remember any of it in the morning, so I get up and basically transcribe what I’m hearing.

I love listening to what characters have to say to one another. Dialogue also helps me to develop voice and characterization. Later on, I go back and add the narrative and information about setting.

 

The three people I have asked to do this blog tour are Tracie Orsi, Chris Irvin, and Marianne Halbert. You can read their answers in about a week.

Tracie is the owner of the restaurant Ragin Cajun, as well as a great writer. We also met at Borderlands Boot Camp in 2012 and have been friends ever since. She’s recently had two stories accepted (“Salvation in Salvo” in We are Dust & Shadow and “Waiting for Jordan” in Behind the Yellow Wallpaper) and is working on many more. Check out more about her here.

Chris Irivn and I met at Anthocon…or was it NEcon…oh god, I don’t remember, but both are awesome. And so is Chris. He’s a great writer who can set a story’s atmosphere like nobody’s business. He recently released Federales, a fast-paced novella, and he is currently working on Expatriate, a comic miniseries about an American fugitive living in Rio de Janeiro. Learn more about Chris here.

Marianne and I also met at Anthocon. Not only is Marianne a wonderful writer, she is super kind and a lot of fun. I fell in love with her storytelling after reading “When Betsy Whispers” in Anthology Year One. She is the author numerous other works, as well as Wake Up and Smell the Creepy, a collection of her short stories. Check her out here.

World Horror Convention 2014

I spent the past weekend in Portland, Oregon at the World Horror Convention.

I’m from New York, so the three-hour time difference kind of kicked my ass. And since I never really got off my East Coast time, I spent a lot of the weekend feeling like this:

sick-prego-copy-red-eye

But I guess this is fitting for World Horror…

Of course, my zombie-like state had nothing at all to do with this

Thank you, Paul.

or this

Thank you, Doug.

or this

Thank you, me.

This was my first World Horror, and it was fantastic. I sat in on some great panels, including one called Horror from the Page to the Silver Screen. Each panelist had a unique perspective on watching his or her words come to life, as well as on losing creative control. And, although at times, I’m sure they must have felt like this…

What do you mean you want to add a unicorn and Justin Bieber?! It’s not that kind of horror!

…each offered great thoughts on how to handle oneself professionally.

Another memorable panel was The Short Form, which dealt with how to write effective short horror stories.

Pro tip: Be scary.

Seriously though, the members of this panel dropped some amazing pearls of wisdom about how to begin a story and keep it captivating. The whole weekend was almost worth those pearls alone.

Throughout the weekend, many other events were offered, including pitch sessions, the Bram Stoker Awards, and the infamous Gross Out Contest.

Yes, a gross out contest. I’ll get to that in a minute…

One of the best parts of the weekend was reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. I spent a lot of the weekend with Tracie Orsi, my Borderlands Boot Camp roommate. We shared many laughs and enjoyed spending time with two of our Boot Camp instructors, Paul Wilson and Doug Winter, and Doug’s lovely wife, Lynne.

I also got a chance to connect with people whom I’d only ever met on Facebook, including Benjamin Kane Ethridge and John Palisano. Both are as wonderful and funny in person as they are on Facebook.

We hung out in what’s known as the con suite: a large room on the top floor, where the hosts of the convention serve free food and drink.

Here’s how the hotel prepared for this:

I shit you not, they put plastic on the floor…kind of brilliant if you think about it.

And although Benjamin, John, and I may not know the proper pronunciation of the word meme, I think we can all agree there’s probably a good meme to be made involving plastic-covered floors and horror writers.

We also had a lot of fun at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet. Emceed by the hilarious Jeff Strand, the show was organized and entertaining. And seeing fellow writers awarded for their hard work is always good.

Plus, we had a Borderlands Boot Camp table.

IMG_1769

Front: Tracie Orsi, John Palisano. Back: Me, Sean Davis, Jim Chambers, Michael Bailey, Paul Wilson, Gardner Goldsmith, Lisa Manetti. (But we really missed you, Tom Monteleone…)

If you’re not sure what Boot Camp is all about, check out my post about it here.

And that brings me to one of the highlights of the weekend: The Gross Out Contest.

This is a moment in the weekend when people stand before a panel of judges and a roomful of curious observers, and try their hardest to gross everyone out using words and/or props.

Yes…props.

IMG_1774

Judges: Rose O’Keefe, Doug Winter, Daniel Knauf, John Skipp, Brian Keene

Tracie, Michael Bailey, Kelly Rumble Westrope, and I walked in, ready to sit in the back. Before we could even grab our chairs, Gard Goldsmith pulled us to the first row, right in front of the action.

I felt like I was being set up and couldn’t help but wonder if we would witness something like this:

Except, instead of being sprayed with watermelon bits, I thought the food products might resemble blood, pus, and other goop sure to be mentioned in a gross out contest.

I learned a couple of lessons that night.

Number 1:

People tend to laugh upon hearing gross things, myself included. Although it’s probably more of a nervous laugh…

Oh my god, am I really laughing about a   #@$*   being shoved in a   #$*&   while smeared with mayonnaise? What is wrong with me?!

Number 2:

Grossing out people involves many common themes, including eating and harming various body parts. Also sure to be mentioned are placentas, disease, babies, and fluids. Of the 11 participants, I would say all 11 of them mentioned at least one of these things during their performances.

Gotta love batting a thousand for herpes.

At many points during the competition I found myself burying my face in Tracie’s shoulder, trying to find my happy place.

At least Rainbow Dash never talks about fetuses.

As a parent, I deal with my fair share of fluids, but even that was not preparation enough for what I heard and saw. I’ll spare you the photos, but let’s just say the event started with petroleum jelly and ended with mayonnaise and sausage.

Sweet Jesus.

Overall, I loved World Horror and would highly recommend it…especially if you like learning about writing, meeting great people, and, of course, hearing about fluids.

BootCamp

A few weeks ago, I spent another lovely 3-day weekend in Towson, MD, participating in my third Borderlands Press BootCamp. Why haven’t I blogged about it sooner? I’ll get to that in a minute…

Although we are affectionately referred to as “grunts,” it’s not this type of bootcamp:

US Air Force Academy, CO

and we’re not treated like this:

bootcamp-screaming.jpeg

Although I wonder what it would take for Tom, Paul, or Doug to go over this particular edge…

Here’s how it works:

It’s an intense writing workshop put on by Tom & Elizabeth Monteleone of Borderlands Press. About 4 months before the weekend, you, the grunt, submit your work, whether it’s a short story or the first 3 chapters of a novel. During those 4 months, all the grunts and the instructors (Tom, F. Paul Wilson, and Doug Winter) read the submissions, line edit them, and critique them.

Then, during the Saturday of the weekend, you break into small groups (1 instructor, 4 grunts) and discuss each other’s stories in detail. The groups rotate throughout the day so everyone spends time with each instructor.

To be on both the giving and receiving ends of criticism is a daunting task. Especially for something that you’ve put a lot of time and energy into. And although most people are usually professional and kind, I think Tom should provide us all with one of these:

For hyperventilation or nausea, depending on one’s constitution…

At the end, you get to keep the manuscripts that everyone, including the instructors, has line edited for you. After 3 years of doing this, I’ve come to expect my manuscripts to look a certain way from each of my instructors.

Metaphorically speaking, Tom’s usually looks like this:

38940192-blood-on-tissue-paper

Paul’s is a little more like this:

blood-dripping-on-paper-blood-background-vector-2967847

And Doug’s?

I didn’t know that many red pens existed in the world…

In addition to getting your ass handed to you on Saturday, you are treated to some truly wonderful lectures on Friday night. The instructors go into great detail about the rules of writing, with a focus on voice, point of view, and plot. It is during those lectures that you realize how much the work you had submitted really sucked (see image of brown bag).

But…on the flip side, you learn a metric ton about writing. Not only are Tom, Paul, and Doug excellent writers, they are amazing teachers. They are clear and concise, use accessible examples, and field questions with ease and humor. Because of these three guys, and the many wonderful grunts I’ve met, my writing has vastly improved…so much so that I am proud to say I have 4 stories published. And that would not have happened if I hadn’t attended BootCamp.

The only real drawback to BootCamp is that it forever ruins your ability to read for pleasure. Whenever I read now, I feel a lot like this,

adverbs.jpg

Not another adverb!

this,

Whose point of view are you in??

and this,

Who gives a shit what color his eyes are???

Another cool thing that happens during the weekend is a presentation by a guest speaker. This year’s was given by Richard Chizmar, last year’s was by Brian Keene–both interesting and nice guys  with a lot of helpful information. And not only are they motivational and informative, they have not read your submission and, therefore, cannot crap all over you for what you wrote.

Phew…Although the “crap all over” part is the thing that makes you better…

The last thing that happens is a writing assignment. Given to you Friday night, it’s a      500+ word scene/vignette/story. You are expected to write it using the rules you have been taught during the weekend. And it’s read out loud on Sunday morning by an objective third party. This year’s third party was Matt Warner. He was amazing…

Oscars.jpg

Academy Award amazing…

Because of this assignment, I usually end up logging 5 hours of sleep. Total. And by Sunday, here’s what everyone feels like:

I’m the one in the back…the cute one’s Tracie, my roommate.

Speaking of Tracie, I’ve met some amazing people at BootCamp. It’s a work-intensive weekend, so you don’t get a lot of time to socialize, but you get to eat with your fellow grunts and sometimes brainstorm ideas for your assignment. This year, Tracie (the owner of Ragin’ Cajun) supplied dinner from her restaurant. It was delicious!

Plus, the shared experience of the weekend is something we all bond over.

So back to my original question: Why haven’t I blogged sooner?

The answer is simple: because of BootCamp. One of the unexpected things that happens when you get home from your weekend is the amazing desire and energy to write. Yes, you’ve lost lots of sleep and yes, you might have taken a beating, but now you know something about writing. And now you want to put it to good use. So I haven’t blogged because I’ve been writing, working on some things I’ve been slacking on, as well as editing my submission from BootCamp. It’s fun. Exciting. And two weeks out of Boot Camp and I am still riding that writing high.

Doesn’t get much better than that…for a writer.

Special thanks to the Monteleones, Paul Wilson, and Doug Winter for another fun and helpful year. And to Tracie…for making me laugh.

Anthocon

I spent the past weekend at Anthocon, a multi-genre literature and arts convention, focusing on speculative fiction and art. This is my second time attending and definitely not my last.

Anthocon is held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I would love to tell you how awesome Portsmouth is, but for both years, the only thing I saw in Portsmouth was this:

Chillin’ at the Holiday Inn…

The entire convention takes place at the Holiday Inn, and as I am not the most adventurous person, I tend not to branch out too much.

Maybe that makes me lame, maybe not; I like to keep this a judgement-free zone.

I don’t think Kelly Kapoor got the memo about judgement-free…

This year, however, I got a little wild and decided to go out to dinner Friday night. Beyond the actual walls of the Holiday Inn. Seven of us went to the Portsmouth Brewery and had a great time. We sat here:

I felt like one of the knights of the Round Table. Although if you have an inner math geek like me, it’s more of an Elliptical Table.

Anthocon is put on by a great group of guys known as The Four Horsemen. When I Googled “four horsemen” to find pictures, one image was cooler than the next. I couldn’t pick just one.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Not counting the LEGO, the general bad-assery of the work above is overwhelming (Although for LEGO, that’s pretty bad-ass, too).

The images are  foreboding. Scary, even. The stuff that nightmares are made of. And maybe that’s what the guys were going for.

But here’s a little secret: not one of those four guys is scary. Not even a little bit.

Now, I’m not saying they’re anything like this:

Although Rainbow Dash is pretty bad-ass.

But still…I’m not afraid they’ll bring the world’s end… In fact, they are four of the friendliest guys around. And pretty talented, too. (Ask jOhnny to sing for you one day…holy cow!)

The guys are, in no particular order, jOhnny Morse, Tim Deal, Danny Evarts, and Mark Wholley.

Class acts, all four of them.

Their con is well-run and professional, and, at the same time, intimate and laid-back.

On the professional side, I sat in on some great panels about what editors want (basically, read the effing guidelines) and how life experiences inform a horror writer’s work (basically, don’t ask). They also had many pitch sessions.

And I got to sit in on some great readings. Among the best I heard were by Chris Irvin, Errick Nunnally, and Bracken MacLeod.

Chris’s story, “Blind Spot,” knocked me out. And although his delivery was more subdued than the other two, he registered just enough emotion to enhance the awesomeness of the story. Learn more about Chris here.

Errick read from his new novel, Blood for the Sun, which is set to come out in March. Delivered with ease and style, this reading made me want to buy the book right then and there. I had a beautiful picture of the scene and characters and was captivated by their fantastical nature. All in a five minute reading. Learn more about Errick here.

Bracken read his story, “Mine, Not Yours,” which can be found in Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out.

In a word: wow.

With his theatrical delivery, Bracken kept us on the edge of our seats; with his wonderful story-telling, he broke our hearts. I’ve also read his debut novel, Mountain Home, which is a fast-paced and amazing read. Check him out here.

I did a reading from my story “Mommy’s Not Perfect,” which is also in Anthology: Year Two.

AnthoconReading

Although I look like I just consumed lemons, I’m pretending to be my protagonist—a 5-year-old boy who’s dealing with his nightmares.

Anthology: Year Two: Inner Demons Out is available here.

On the laid-back side, Anthcon provides good opportunities to have extended conversations with many people. I spoke to too many awesome people to list, but I will say if you ever run into Tony Tremblay or Jacob Haddon at a con, do yourself a favor and talk to them…both are the embodiment of nice.

Like Necon (see that post here), a fair amount of drinking goes on at Anthocon. So those laid-back moments can go from this

saturday1

to this

saturday2

pretty darn quickly.

That’s me with (L to R) Gardner Goldsmith (great writer and super sweet guy…plus, he does a kick ass President Obama impersonation), Tracie Orsi (my awesome con roomie, writer and owner of the restaurant Ragin’ Cajun), and Michael Bailey (writer and editor and artist and proof-reader and mentor and IT guy and way cool person and…cyborg?? that would explain the never-ending list…). A photo credit needs to go to the fun and lovely Kelly Rumble Westrope. Thanks for the great shots, Kelly…I think…

Truth be told, though, I think among the five of us, we only drank one beer at this point…so maybe we really just need some supervision of this nature:

The bottom line is, Anthocon is a great convention. If you are looking to learn more about speculative fiction and art and, at the same time, be surrounded by amazing people, this is the place for you.

Thanks Four Horsemen!

Acceptance & Rejection

I usually just post about the former on Facebook. This blog should give a more well-rounded picture of what actually happens.

But let’s start with:

The Good

I’ve recently had three stories accepted to various anthologies.

The first is in Anthology Year Two: Inner Demons Out, edited by jOhnny Morse. Published by The Four Horsemen. Check out the beautiful art, by the talented Danny Evarts and jOhnny Morse:

This will be released at Anthocon on November 8th. For more information about Anthocon, click here.

My story, “Mommy’s Not Perfect,” deals with the nightmares of a five-year-old boy.

My husband: “Why do I envision our son when I read this?”

Me: “Because that’s who I based it on.”

Hubbie: “Did you have to do that to him?”

Me: “Well…it is horror.”

Hubs: “How many more times do I need to proof this for you?”

Me: “One more…I swear…”

The second story is in Bizarro Bizarro, edited by Rock Alexander. Published by Bizarro Pulp Press. The awesome art:

This will be released some time in November. For more information about Bizarro Pulp Press and the TOC, click here.

For my non-horror/bizarro-reading friends and family, I realize this cover might imply that the stories involve themes scary and bloody. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t–I haven’t had the privilege of reading them yet. I’m sure they’re awesome, no matter what. But I can tell you that my story, “Plaything,” is neither scary nor goopy. In fact, I hope it gives you a good laugh…or at least a mild chuckle…

The third story is in Miseria’s Chorale, published by Forgotten Tomb Press. The very cool cover:

Miseria's Chorale

This should also be out some time in November. For more information about Forgotten Tomb Press and the TOC, click here.

My story, “Choosing My Confession,” is about one man’s struggle with faith.

And now let’s move to:

The Bad

September and early October brought 5 rejections, most of which came before my acceptances.

It was starting to feel like the autumn of our discontent.

The first one was a total reach, so I wasn’t exactly shocked when they said no.

The second came nine weeks after being told the story made the first cut. So, naturally, I spent the summer feeling happy and confident one day, and nervous and insecure the next. My stomach was a battleground between hopeful, positive butterflies and doubtful, negative ones.

It was awesome.

No…it wasn’t.

The third. Lucky number three. Fucking three. #3 listed a three-week response time. So on the heels of the first two rejections, and all of that stomach flip-flopping, I thought I had bought myself some time.

They said “no” less than 24 hours later.

It felt kind of like this:

I think I still have whiplash…

The final two were a little rough. I had spent my entire summer working on both of these stories. And in both cases, I made the “maybe” pile. And in both cases, I did the stupid “You’re awesome: you’re in”/”You suck: you’re out” thing for weeks. And in both cases, I was rejected. The nice thing was, though, that both editors liked the stories and wrote very nice rejection letters…but it just didn’t work out.

I know that rejections are part of this whole writing gig. Especially for newbies.

But there are no two ways about it: Rejections…well…

…can go from suck to blow.

I guess the bottom line is, the world of writing is a true roller coaster of emotions.

Sometimes you feel like this:

Other times you feel like this:

Perseverance is key, as is a strong support system…which I am truly lucky to have.

Thanks to my family and friends (old and new) for all the ways you help me.

Necon: the Questions

I spent this past weekend in Bristol, RI at a wonderful writing conference known as Necon.

Below are my thoughts on Necon in quasi-interview form: a mish-mash of questions I was asked by others, or ones I found I was asking myself. (Or, let’s face it, ones that I just made up for the blog…)

What is Necon?

Necon is the Northeastern Writers’ Conference, coordinated by the Booth family. Also known as Camp Necon, it is attended by authors, artists, and fans of (primarily) horror and dark fiction.

It is less formal than many other conferences, providing a mellow atmosphere in which those authors, artists, and fans can comfortably mingle, while attending panels, eating, talking shop, and, of course, drinking.

In my opinion, the attendees are some of the funniest, kindest, and most supportive people around. Everyone checks their egos at the door, so that even the big-time authors are approachable and fun. Even though this was only my second time attending, I feel like I am part of a warm and wonderful family.

Where did you travel from?

New York.

Did you hit traffic in Connecticut?

This question must be rhetorical.

Anywhere in Connecticut on I-95…at any time of day.

Check out the itinerary: Did you see all of the great panels?

Yes. As low key and laid back as Necon is, it always has amazing panels.  I have learned so many useful things about writing from huge talents like (sorry for the name dropping, but…) Tom Monteleone, Doug Winter, F. Paul Wilson, Jack Ketchum, Linda Addison, Heather Graham, Chet Williamson, and Elizabeth Massie.

I have also learned a lot from editors, publishers, and brand, new authors.

Did you know you were on a panel?

I’m on a panel?

What the hell?

Did everyone else get sick or something?

Turns out, they did not. I was chosen on purpose.

Seriously.

Me and my one, little short story.

My panel was entitled Don’t Do It Like That 1: Newbie Mistakes I’ve Made. The other panelists were (sorry to name drop again, but…) Chris Irvin, Bracken MacLeod, Kristin Dearborn, and Mary SanGiovanni (our awesome moderator).

Although I did have to answer one question with a “I’m sorry. I can’t answer that, as I don’t have a novel,” I felt like my other answers were reasonably intelligent (read: I didn’t have to answer with a “Well, my mommy thinks what I write is awesome.”) (even though she does)

“Way to go, schnoockums!”
(No, my mother doesn’t really look like this.)

Plus, I’m such a newbie, I even learned a lot while listening to my fellow panelists. They were smart, funny, and had some great advice.

What other types of things go on at Necon?

Many great events occur at Necon. Some of the highlights are:

  • The Hall of Fame induction (this year’s inductee was Chet Williamson)
  • The Necon Update with Mike Myers

No. Not this Mike Myers.

Not this one, either.

  • Necon Olympics (events include foosball and darts)
  • That Damn Game Show
  • The Necon Roast (this year’s roastee was Linda Addison)

 

Is it true that authors really drink a lot?

This question must also be rhetorical.

Does the hotel bar have enough alcohol?

Probably not. But it doesn’t really matter. I’ve never seen so many Coleman coolers in my life. And not the candy-ass lunch ones, either.

I’m talking body-sized.

Packed full of ice, beer, and other tasty beverages.

Object is WAY larger than it appears.

Where do you drink?

It’s easier to answer: where don’t you drink? To which the answer would be…ummm…well…maybe that one’s not so easy, either.

But I’d say the bulk of the drinking occurs in the courtyard of the hotel. And for the 2 rooms of people that are not part of Necon: I am truly sorry.

What is that smell?

You must be referring to Saugies (I hope). After the planned festivities, they fire up the grills and make a ton of these tasty treats. For those that don’t know, a Saugie is a quaint New England version of a hot dog.

Quaint? Who are you calling quaint?

Oops.

What time is it?

Midnight. Early by Necon standards.

(Seemingly 5 seconds pass)

What time is it?

3 a.m.

Holy shit!

How the hell did that happen?

It’s Necon, baby. Necon.

Thanks to my roommate, Tracie Orsi, for all the fun.

And to Bob Booth, Mary Booth, and Sara Calia (and many others): without you guys, Necon would not be as amazing as it is.  I really appreciate all of the hard work you do to make it such a warm and inviting event. Thank you.

Alumni, Books, and Toothpaste

What do these three things have in common? More than you’d think.

This past weekend was my 15th year reunion at my university. Apparently the 15th, in general, is not as well attended as the 10th, 20th, or 25th.

Why no love for 15?

It’s a great number: like 10 and 20, it is also a multiple of 5; it was Thurman Munson’s number; and, according to The History of the World, Part1, it was the number of commandments originally handed down by god.

I love you, Mel Brooks.

My college roommates and I decided to ditch our families and make a weekend out of it. Our only complaint was that we should have gone for another day…or two. We had a lot of fun reconnecting with old friends, revisiting our old haunts, and drinking lots of wine…and beer…and vodka cranberries.

Mmm…college…

I went to Colgate University.

(insert toothpaste joke here)

(insert my eye roll here)

It’s a small, liberal arts school in Hamilton, New York.  And it’s one of the most beautiful colleges I’ve ever seen (okay, so I’m biased).

20031016_scenic_shots_002.JPG

Bias or no, it’s still kinda pretty.

If you’re into school spirit, rigorous academia, and cows, then Colgate is the place for you. Hamilton is in central New York and to describe it as “rural” would be generous. It’s not uncommon to get a waft of cow shit while stumbling home from a night of drinking. But the area is lovely, the people of Hamilton are great, and the University, itself, is awesome. Those in charge do everything in their power to make students fall in love with Colgate and make alumni never forget the place. And it works. Those were four of the best years of my life.

As one roommate put it this weekend: “Any time I’m here, I feel happy.” That about sums it up for me, too.

Now that I’ve yammered on about my alma mater…on to the book stuff.

One of the cool things that happens during reunion weekend is an alumni book signing. Since I had my first story and poem published in the past year (in Chiral Mad and Angels Cried, respectively), I decided to sign up.

Look, Ma. I'm famous! (squint really hard, and you'll see my name on the left)

Look, Ma: I’m famous!
(squint really hard, and you’ll see my name on the left)

It was an hour-long event, held in the university book store. The space was great, and refreshments were served.

Truth be told, I had low expectations. I mean, who the hell goes to a book signing during their college reunion weekend? It’s all about drinking  beer under the tents and saying, “kids today have it way better than we did” upon seeing any improvements done to the school.

And for the first 45 minutes, I was right. Overall, the event was nice and well-attended, but I, personally, didn’t get a whole lot of love. And if people happened to stop by and inquire about Chiral Mad, once I told them it was psychological horror, they nodded politely and put it down. Then they ran out of the room, screaming. I think the organizers had to get paramedics and/or drugs to calm them down.

Just kidding. But not about the drugs.

Mmm…college…

Okay, no drugs, either. But, like I said, small tumbleweeds were blowing on my table.

Then, with 15 minutes to go (there’s that number again), four great guys came in with some kind words and a hankering for a book (thanks Graham, Jaime, Scott, and Brent!). Then another super cool person bought a book (you know who you are) and, finally, the college bookstore bought a copy of each book (thanks Colgate!).

at signing2

Do my books look fat?

So that brings the final count to 7. Hmmm…single digits…and not even half of 15…but for my first time out there, I’m pretty psyched.

Thanks to Heather Elia and the Colgate Bookstore for putting on a wonderful event.

And thanks to my three awesome roomies: Mere, Maria, and Johanna. They encouraged me to do the signing and helped me with the logistics. I met them my very first day of school and am closer to them now than I’ve ever been. I am lucky to know them.