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.

Charitable Events

Two great things to note:

1)  Chiral Mad has raised $3000 for the Down Syndrome Information Alliance.  So happy that my story “Inevitable” is a part of it.

Chiral Mad

2)  Angels Cried is an anthology of short stories, poems, and art dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy in Newtown, CT.  My poem “Their Only Cares” appears in it.  The proceeds of this book will go to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, sponsored by the United Way.

Angels Cried

Both are great anthologies and their proceeds go to amazing causes.  Please consider purchasing one or both.  Thanks!

The Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing is a viral sensation where one author answers ten questions about his or her current work.  That author then tags 3 to 5 other authors, who answer the questions and, in turn, tag 3 to 5 more.  Thus spreading the word exponentially.

I was chosen by Michael Bailey.  You can find his 10 questions here.  Michael edited Chiral Mad, a great anthology for which he chose my story (thanks, RB Payne, for suggesting I write one!).  As an editor, Michael is thoughtful and professional.  You’d be lucky to work with him.

I met Michael at Borderlands Boot Camp, where I read and critiqued his story “Hiatus,” currently found in the anthology, Surviving the End.  Since then, I’ve read a lot of his work, including “Eavesdropping” (a short story in a great anthology called Anthology:  Year One), “Underwater Ferris Wheel” (another short, found in Chiral Mad), and Palindrome Hannah, a novel (which will, among other things, forever change the way you think about carving pumpkins).

Three words come to mind when I think of Michael’s writing:  chilling, moving, and beautiful.  His stuff will get in your head and under your skin.  And stay there for quite some time.  Definitely check it out.

And now, the ten questions:

1.  What is the working title of your book?

It’s a short story called “Worse Ways.”

2.  Where did the idea come from for the book?

Hotel trysts and The Godfather.

3.  What genre does your book fall under?

Horror light?  Humorous horror??

4.  Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Emma Stone would play Liv.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt would play Roger.

George Clooney would play Bill.  Yes, people, Clooney.

5.  What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 

A man and a woman meet in a hotel:  he has one agenda, and she has another one altogether.

6.  Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Hopefully it will find a home in a great anthology or magazine.

7.  How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A few days.  But that draft was pretty bad.  So I needed another week or so to get to the final version.

8.  What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Nothing obvious comes to mind…

9.  Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I’m headed to Borderlands Boot Camp this year for the second time.  It’s a fantastic writing workshop sponsored by Tom & Elizabeth Monteleone over at Borderlands Press.  Check it out here.

My original submission was too crappy for words.  So crappy that Tom would have slapped me.  And he’s super nice, so that’s saying something.  I needed another submission.  And out came this story.  Nothing like a little time pressure and fear of embarrassment to help a story along…

Now I’m waiting for Tom, Paul Wilson, Doug Winter, and my fellow grunts to tear it apart.  Their critiques will only make it better.

10.  What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

I can’t say too much without spoiling it.  Let’s just say that if you like sarcasm, sex, drugs, and rock and roll—minus the sex, drugs, and rock and roll—then this is the story for you.

Well, okay, there’s a little sex.  And some dead bodies, too.

***

My tags are Tracie Orsi, Lise Quintana, and Patrick Lacey.

I also met Tracie and Lise at Borderlands Boot Camp.  Tracie has a sharp wit and a great literary eye.  Her submission was well written and a wonderful read.  For her “9 to 5” job, she owns the restaurant Ragin’ Cajun.  And writes cook books (Sittin’ Bayou Makes Me Hot!).  I marvel at how she does it all.

Lise was my roommate at Boot Camp.  Her submission was also wonderful and well crafted.  She’s working on her MFA at Antioch in L.A. and is the editor-in-chief of their literary magazine, Lunch Ticket.  She posts her blogs and some awesome short fiction here.  Plus, she loves Archer.  And anyone who likes that show is okay in my book.

These women are very talented.  Keep an eye out for their work.

I met Patrick briefly this year at Anthocon.  Our stories both appear in Chiral Mad.  Although we didn’t get a chance to talk much, I can say that his story “Send Your End,” a tale about the Internet and the depths of its craziness, surprised me and creeped me right the hell out.  A great read.  Be sure to look for Patrick’s future work, as well.