Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This Thursday: Bay Area Launch of Bigfoot and the Baby!

This Thursday, June 26, join us at Village House of Books in Los Gatos to celebrate the release of Bigfoot and the Baby! Music, food, and schmoozing start at 6 p.m., and the reading starts at 7.

I would love to see you there!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blog hop! Questions of character

Last week, Harriet Chessman answered questions about the main character in her latest novel, The Beauty of Ordinary Things--a truly beautiful and extraordinary book. Harriet is also the author of Someone Not Really Her Mother, Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper, and Ohio Angels (a title particularly close to my heart). If Harriet ever does a reading anywhere near you, overcome any obstacle to go see her. She is warm, insightful, and charismatic. Her website is here.

This week, Harriet has passed the baton to Thaisa Frank, Elizabeth Stark, and me. So here are seven questions and seven answers about Jackie Majesky, the main character in Bigfoot and the Baby.

1. What is the name of your character? Is s/he fictional or a historic person?

Jackie Majesky, definitely fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?

1986. Near Bakersfield, CA and the Mojave Desert. Detour to the Washington rainforest.

3. What should we know about him/her?

It's easy to get irritated with Jackie. She can be self-righteous, self-justifying, and judgmental--but she means well. Kind of like most of us. Writing her, I learned to be more aware of those aspects of myself, and therefore more patient, I hope, with everyone.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Jackie wants a great deal more from life than it seems to be giving her. Basically, she wants to save the world, and those around her don't share or understand her ambitions. Fortunately--or disastrously--she finds someone who does.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

In addition to saving the world, Jackie wants to feel like she matters. She needs an effective, responsive setting for her agency, which she hasn't had up till now.

6. What is the title of this novel, and can we read more about it?

Thanks for asking! It's Bigfoot and the Baby. You can learn more about it here.

7. When can we expect the book to be published? [Or: When was the book published?]

It just came out on Friday, June 13, 2014. A very lucky day for me.

Up next in this blog hop, on June 23, is Shelly King. Shelly is the author of The Moment of Everything, coming September 2 from Grand Central Publishing. It's a novel about love, and bookstores, and love in bookstores. It's getting amazing advance press, and Books, Inc., Palo Alto will be doing the launch. Join us then for a fantastic party!

Take it away, Shelly!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Monty Python as Self-Help, Lesson One: How NOT To Not Be Seen

Monty Python's "How Not To Be Seen" is a satire of 60s-era, government-produced educational films, which have their corollaries here in the U.S.

However, as an American, I am bound to derive a simple moral lesson from this absurdist sketch. And so I choose: Do Not Be Afraid.

OK, in all seriousness, I've been thinking about my own fear lately. Though I don't feel my life has been particularly traumatic, I've noticed how much fear has been the prevailing weather of my existence. It's mostly a matter of cultural heritage. My people are self-effacing. As Midwesterners we're accustomed to trudging out in two feet of snow to scrape off our car, and our neighbor's*--but not to sparking any form of controversy. In all situations, we keep our heads down.

I also don't doubt that being female has something to do with this. "Don't make anybody mad" has larger implications for us, as #yesallwomen has made so eloquently clear; that warning dovetails nicely with "No one cares what you have to say anyway."

So I tried to stay quiet. I really did. But then I wrote a book, and now I have to admit, I'm worried about what people will think.

Except, as Rachel Thompson reminds us powerfully, if you write through your fear instead of against it, people will thank you for your authenticity. Also, the people whose reactions you fear most may well surprise you with what they already understand and accept.

And, as Monty Python reminds us ridiculously, we're all going to die someday. More broadly, you will, in the end, be seen and (metaphorically) killed. The fact is, some people are going to dislike you no matter what you do. They won't like your hair, or your voice, or who you remind them of (possibly themselves). They won't like your role at work. In other words, by merely existing, you'll just rub some people the wrong way. As for others, perhaps you'll upset them more by your secretive, apparently withholding behavior. Why aren't you being more open with them? If you're a writer, why aren't you sharing your work?

In short, trying not to be seen is pointless and possibly even harmful in itself. So quit with the hiding, already.

*Note: I now live in California and haven't scraped off a car in nearly three decades.

Monday, June 02, 2014

A good word from ForeWord Reviews ...

ForeWord Reviews calls Bigfoot and the Baby "a delightful black satire." Read the full review here.