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Bits and Bobs

Lots of little items I’ve been meaning to post to the blog lately. Here they are, in no particular order!

1. I’ve got a new academic publication out. Yes, my other hat is as an archaeologist and a professor. From time to time I write and publish articles that make the scholarly world quiver with delight. Oh, yes. Here’s my latest, titled Relationality, Corporeality, and Bioarchaeology (Cambridge University Press) co-authored with bestie and frequent collaborator, Pamela Geller. It examines the way we theorize, analyze, and interact with human remains.

2. As I’ve recently sent Project Awesome to Beta readers and will, soon after receiving their feedback, be preparing it to venture into the world (all naked and vulnerable and desperate for love), I’m brainstorming ideas for my next novel. Whee! Not sure what direction I’ll head in, but am currently exploring space pirate territory. Also want to work archaeology into this one somehow. Stay tuned.

3.  It’s the end of the semester, which is awesome but also awful. Awesome, of course, because it means a nice long break from my horrid commute is fast approaching. Awful because everyone is stressed out and I will soon have a very large pile of exams to grade. Boo. BUT I was at least able to change my final exam date from Dec. 23rd (I mean, really!) to the 19th. So, that’s a Christmas miracle for you right there :)

4. Holidays! We, of course, have had our glowing Tree of Happiness up for awhile now.

Tree of happiness

Tree of Happiness! See how it glows?

Soon we’ll take it down again and begin our westward migration (which I call Westward Ho Ho Ho!) to spend the holidays with my family. There will be lots of festive dinners, several more glowing Trees of Happiness, lots of adorable nieces, and plenty of wrapping paper to tear into. Can’t. Wait.

So, I’m probably signing off until the New Year. In which case: Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all!!

Update

Hi all!

It’s been a busy month. After returning from ICON, I’ve been hitting revisions to Project Awesome with renewed zeal and have finally finished! I sent the novel off to Beta readers last week and spent the weekend relaxing. Now, though, it’s back to work.

Today I’ll brainstorm ideas for my next novel project and tackle short story revisions I had on hold while I finished Project Awesome. I’m also currently Beta reading a friend’s novel. so must get through a few more chapters of that today. The final piece of the puzzle is my day job, which is heating up as we head into the last few weeks of the semester. Lots of exams and grading coming up, which is no fun. BUT one of my favorite times of year – Christmas season – is also about to kick off.

Thursday, of course, is Turkey Day, and I’ll be cooking an epic feast for friends and family. And then…THEN WE CAN GET OUR CHRISTMAS TREE. Once we’ve got the tree, I can drink eggnog and decorate it. Once it’s decorated, I can spend many evenings sitting and enjoying the pretty lights and delicious smell of pine needles (also while drinking eggnog). So, I’m excited for that.

So, yay for finishing novels and dreaming up new ones and drinking eggnog and putting up Christmas trees!

ICON recap

I just got back from ICON and chilly Iowa late last evening. Though the fridge is empty and my cat spent most of the night meowing in my face, it’s good to be home–especially since I’m returning refreshed and inspired.

I went to ICON so I could attend Paradise Icon, a writing workshop organized annually by my friend and fellow Viable Paradise graduate Catherine Schaff-Stump. It’s a lovely workshop. There were ten of us this year, which did mean a lot of reading beforehand, but we’ve all gotten to the point now that our writing is good, so the critiques were fun rather than painful. A lot of the attendees were friends from VP or folks I’ve met at other workshops, like Paradise Lost, but there were some new friends as well.

Cath organized a great workshop. The whole first day was critiques, which were incisive and on-point, while the second day was a balance of talks with some of the pros in attendance at the Con (Jim C. Hines, Elizabeth Bear, and Scott Lynch) and professional activities, like an author meet-and-greet and a reading. In between, of course, was lots of food and socializing and all of us generally nerding out about writing and fandom and all that good stuff.

Friday night we sat in the bar and helped each other work on pitches for our novel projects and Sunday morning some of us made time for a group writing session. ICON is a small, very chilled-out Con filled with very nice people, so the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. Every single participant in the workshop was exactly the kind of person you want in a workshop — smart, creative, supportive, and talented.

In all, it would be hard to ask for a better weekend. I even got to meet a writing hero of mine, Joe Haldeman (author of the brilliant Forever War). He couldn’t have been nicer as he gave us some advice and regaled us with stories of hanging out with Arthur C. Clarke back in the day. It was awesome.

Now, I think it’s time to sit down and write!

ICON-bound

Tomorrow I head to the cornfields of Iowa to participate in ICON and to take part in Paradise ICON, the con-associated workshop run by my friend Catherine Schaff-Stump.

Though there are still quite a few workshop submissions to critique between now and Friday, I’m excited! This will be my first Con or workshop since the writing retreat I attended in Philadelphia in June and I’m looking forward to being in the company of fellow writers again.

The schedule is jam-packed, with signings, author meet-and-greets, and a reading (my first!) snuggled in alongside workshop activities.

If you’ll be at ICON, my schedule of writer appearances is as follows:

  • Saturday, Nov. 1st 10:00am – noon — Writer Meet and Greet in Rosewood.
  • Saturday, Nov. 1st 7:00pm – 9pm — Paradise ICON Rapid Fire Reading in Chestnut

I haven’t decided yet what I’ll read from yet, but be sure to drop by to find out and to hear all the other wonderful readings from the workshop participants!

Today is Day 3 of my impromptu urban writing retreat. So far, it has been a pretty awesome experiment.

On Monday, I met my friend George at the New York Public library on 5th Ave. We’d intended to work in one of my favorite spaces, the Rose Reading Room, but (naturally) that part of the library was closed for renovations. Fortunately, it was a beautiful fall day, so we relocated to Bryant Park, grabbed a table under a sun umbrella and chilled out for a couple hours. I worked on revising my novel and tried not to get stung by a crazy bee. Later we headed down to Housing Works Bookstore Cafe to hear a reading and panel discussion by Lev Grossman, Lauren Buekes, and Jeff Vandermeer.

Yesterday I decided to stay in-borough and risk the perils of invading a hipster paradise. I put on my best rolled up jeans and my most ironic army jacket and headed to Brooklyn Roasting Company in DUMBO. I can see why all the hipsters want to keep this place for themselves. It’s awesome. The space is huge and there’s a lot of seating (still, I had to really hunt for a free table). I scored a fab spot on the bar along the front window looking out over the East River. There was good tea, lots of light, plenty of background buzz, and super-tasty donuts. I wrote 2500 words on a new short story.

Today I’m meeting George again. Our plan is try the fabled Lobby Bar at the Ace Hotel. We figure if we get there early we can beat the start-up kids who supposedly camp out there. If it sucks…well, stay tuned!

So far, the best thing about the urban writing retreat isn’t that I’m getting lots of writing done (though, I am being quite productive). It’s that I’m being reminded what an amazing city I live and how many wonderful things I have available to me for the swipe of a Metrocard and cost of a donut :)

Don’t get me wrong, I have a proper home office (which basically is the elusive unicorn of NYC housing), but a change of scenery can be invigorating. This week has been a great reminder of that.

Urban Writing Retreat

The college where I teach is closed next week for the Jewish holidays, so I have an entire five days to devote solely to my writing! Yay!

To make the most of this, I’m planning an Urban Writing Retreat for myself. The idea is to have all the perks of a writing retreat without spending a bunch of money or leaving my home city (NYC).

In doing research over the last few days, I’ve discovered (perhaps unsurprisingly) that there are some fantastic places to write for free (or for the price of a latte) in the city.

From indie cafes in DUMBO, Greenwich village, and SoHo to some of New York’s many wonderful libraries (the Rose Reading Room at the NYC Public Library and Poet’s House) to less conventional locations like the lobby of the Ace Hotel, I’ve got a really fun schedule lined up. And, naturally, I’ll have to take breaks for lunch and will need delicious fare to sustain me. Good thing NYC has so many awesome restaurants!

My writing goals for the retreat are to finish a short story to submit to the Paradise ICON writing workshop I’m attending in October and to get as close as possible to finishing the version of Project Awesome I’ll send to Beta readers.

I’m so excited!

Ugh, where to begin? It’s been a rough couple of weeks, but also a great couple of weeks (isn’t life just like that sometimes?).

Between finishing up my last hectic trip of the summer (to a wonderful, wonderful wedding in Charleston), getting sick with some sort of sad hybrid cold/stomach bug thing, starting the semester, and having my costochondritis flare up in the worst way (think clavicle literally pulling away from sternum…ouch!), I am feeling a little worn around the edges (or delirious, depending on whether or not I’m taking my yummy painkillers).

After a summer of lovely but disruptive travel, I finally have time to devote to my writing again and I’m feeling inspired and eager to work. My goals for the fall are to work on writing faster and with less hesitation. There will be new words every day, even revision and editing days. I will not allow myself to agonize over first drafts (as is my wont) and I will take a deeper dive into emotion and creativity. I will experiment more with short stories and drive forward more aggressively with my novel projects.

So, that’s the plan. Time to get to work.

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