Book Event: Oregon Book Awards

IMG_8760Last week, the Oregon Book Awards sponsored by Oregon Literary Arts doled out checks and drink tickets to the winners. This year I knew one of the nominees and had read three of the books nominated, two of which, won their awards. The three books I read were The Last to Die – a young adult novel by Kelly Garrett, The Fish Market – nonfiction book by Lee Van Der Voo (she subbed on my co-ed soccer team a few years ago!) and Strange the

IMG_8757Dreamer – a young adult novel by Laini Taylor. The latter two won in their category. I highly recommend all three books depending on your mood. Each one was well-written and immersive. After sitting through the list of nominees and reading their book descriptions, I have a few more books to add to my “to read” list.

This year, I truly felt part of the writing community. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten more involved in readings, workshops, and writerly events. What that means is, I recognize or have had interactions with many of the writers in the Oregon community. I’ve also put myself out there to meet new people. It’s fun to see some of them out in the world and getting nominated for awards, receiving fellowships (Yay, Jacob Aiello!), or enjoying an event.

The night started out with vegan gluten-free pizza with two friends (Erin and Erica) who I met through a writing workshop at The Attic Institue. We’ve been friends now for a few years. We met up with Kelly and her husband to celebrate her accomplishment as a nominee for the Oregon Book awards. I was a little off that night due to getting hit by a car as a pedestrian in a crosswalk two days before, but I wanted to be there. The whole getting hit by a car story is one for another day, or maybe I’ll turn it into a short story or a scene in my next novel! I’m doing okay after a few days of limping, a bandaged hand, and some emotional trauma that is ongoing. I don’t recommend this experience. My advice: wear a fluorescent jumpsuit at all times and be aware of your surroundings at all times!

Anyway, we ate and headed to the event where we sat up in the balcony. A few minutes after I sat down, I looked to my left and noticed I was sitting next to another writer, Mo Daviau, who I had recently met at a happy hour I hosted! She also wrote a fantastic book called Every Anxious Wave about a wormhole that allows people to go back in time to see their favorite band play. There’s more to it than that, but check it out. It’s a small community once you start putting yourself out there and meeting others around town. On our way out, I saw my friend Hillary an awesome librarian (and someone who is always smiling) who said she and her staff chose the adult novel, American War by Omar El Akkad, and highly recommends it. I’ve already added that to my reading list.

What’s on your reading list?

Revisions: Homestretch

Today’s post will be super short. I need to save all of my energy for revisions and a short road trip we are taking this weekend.

I’m in the home stretch of my latest round of edits for my current work in progress. I only have about 50 pages left to edit, but they are the ones that need the MOST work! I know this and still, I procrastinate!

I feel a little like this turtle . . .

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I wonder if I will ever truly get there. I don’t want to rush it, but I’m also starting to feel like it’ll never feel quite done, but maybe that’s common for most writers? Somehow I doubt I’m alone.

“If you get to the point where you can’t make a book any better, but no one wants to publish it, set it aside and start something else. In two years or five or ten, you might be a better writer, and you might find you are willing and able to make it better. You can take only what you want or need from the original drafts, and leave the rest.” – From: How Do You Know When Your Book Is Finished? The Blunt Instrument on How to Begin and When to End

I still love my first officially “finished” novel and the quote really puts that into perspective. I learned so much from writing it, but I lost steam and had to set it aside after a long time and many rejections.

Supporting art

Last week the sun popped its head out here and there. I blame it on the energy those sun breaks gave me, but I felt like getting out in the world and supporting my friends and husband in their artistic endeavors. Granted, I’d try to do that no matter what the weather was like, but this week and into the weekend was a busier one than normal.

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The first event I went to was called Object Stories and was held at the Portland Art Museum. My friend Justin had an exhibit there and all of the object stories were about hidden disabilities. It was a powerful message, especially when the artists got up to talk about their pieces. It made me think about how I approach people and the judgments I oftentimes automatically make about them without understanding the full picture. I think it’s natural to have a gut reaction to something someone says or how they act. However, taking a step back and being aware of those reactions, pausing, and opening myself up to a truly open conversation and experience with people of all types is something this exhibit reminded me to do on a regular basis.

In addition, there is an awesome YouTube channel where the artists talk about their pieces as well. I highly recommend it.

IMG_8644The second event I went to was my husband’s show. He plays in a band called Body Mask and they played the art closing for Joey Maas’ pop art show at Ace Hotel. I’ll admit that I’d had a bad day and didn’t feel like going, but I dragged myself out and it was SO MUCH FUN. As you can see from the photos, the art was super smart and all the connections it made (someone had to make a few of those for me…) regarding cultural and social commentary felt like a valuable contribution to the world as we know it today. In addition, the band brought a lot of energy and fun to the event. Also, BALLOONS! Overall, it was a good night that lifted my spirits exponentially. Great art all around!

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The last thing I’ll say about all of this is, go out and support your people! Art is important for so many reasons and whatever your reason is, go support your friends, strangers, and loved ones. It makes me feel so good when someone comes to one of my readings, it makes me feel like what I’m doing is worth it and valued. It’s just an extra good feeling that your people know how important your art is and why you do what you do. I understand that sometimes it’s hard to get out and go, but make a point to show your appreciation for the artists in your life.  HUG them, but also go to their shows.

 

777 Challenge Accepted

777 Challenge Accepted

J Stryker, a writer I met through a twitter pitch party, tagged me for the 777 challenge. He’s got some great book ideas so you should check his stuff out. Thanks for tagging me! Anyway, the objective of the 777 challenge … Continue reading

Interview with Rebecca Kelley, author of Broken Homes & Gardens

I first met Rebecca in an advanced fiction workshop at Portland State University in the Spring of 2002. I’ll never forget one of the scenes in a short story she had written. A woman is cutting up a cucumber for a salad that she is going to share with her boyfriend. She alternates between thick and thin slices, so she cuts up the cucumber in “thick, thin, thick, thin” slices. The details you put into that scene created an authentic story for me and I feel like that is translated through your current work. – Christi R. Suzanne

I interview Rebecca Kelley about her new book, Broken Homes & Gardens. Read the interview