Overthinking and other favorite pastimes

I’ve self-identified as a Slytherin for most of my years in the Harry Potter fandom, dating from July in the year 2000, when I read the scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in which Severus Snape rolls up his sleeve to show Minister Fudge his Dark Mark as proof of Voldemort’s return. That act of Snape’s crystallized my admiration for both Snape and Slytherin House as people who do what needs to be done, regardless of personal cost or what people think of them.

Despite this admittedly aspirational identification with Slytherin, just about every sorting test I’ve taken, including Pottermore’s, puts me in Ravenclaw. I was irritated by this until I realized that perhaps it’s not such a terrible fit for me, especially since my favorite female characters are bookish Hermione Granger, who the Sorting Hat considered putting into Ravenclaw, and the delightfully bonkers Luna Lovegood, who was sorted into Ravenclaw. And I do love books and research. So I’m okay with Slytherin being my sun sign and Ravenclaw being my moon sign (and possibly vice versa), especially on days like this when my Ravenclaw tendencies are in ascendance.

Exhibit A: I have bought pens for my book signing at Warwick’s this weekend. Four of them. In different colors, all neighbors on the color wheel. And then I bought labels to use as book plates if people bring their previously-bought copies that the bookstore won’t let me sign at the event. And a superfine green Sharpie for signing the book plates in case my signing pens don’t work well on the labels. And generic sticky-notes for people to write how they want their books personalized to reduce the likelihood that I’ll misspell their names. And another Sharpie (black, retractable) for writing on the sticky notes.

Exhibit B: I am having to be very stern with myself to keep from obsessing over the excellent Critic’s Report I recently received from the initial round of the BookLife Prize. I will not know until September if my overall score of 8.25/10 is sufficient to make it to the quarterfinal round, which comprises the ten highest-scoring books in each eligible category. Looking at the top scores in my category from 2017 (the top 16 ranged between 8.25 and 10) or the 2016 semifinalists (my category wasn’t accepted in 2016! Noooo!) is not actually useful, since this year’s contest will be an entirely different batch of books, and there’s no telling how strong the entries are overall. This lack of certainty is also helping me manage my expectations for how I will fare overall. I’m not quite so silly as to think that this wonderfully weird, unfashionably earnest verse memoir I wrote will take top honors and the $5,000 prize. But I can’t keep my brain from imagining what the PW editorial folks who judge the quarterfinals will make of the book. Will they grok it the way the initial round reviewer did, or dismiss it as self-indulgent rubbish? And if they find it grokkable, might they grok it sufficiently to kick it up to the semifinal round? Because I think I’ve decided that I’d be really happy to end up there, where this year’s guest judge(s) will see it. I don’t expect the guest judge to necessarily grok it enough to send it to the finals (unless they REALLY like sonnets of course), but my book is weird and memorable. Even if the judge doesn’t entirely grok it, they will probably remember the bonkers sonnet lady. That’s my dream, anyway. And it’s a sensible dream, because if I get to the semifinal round, the book won’t be eligible for future rounds of the contest, so I won’t be tempted to resubmit it. Plus, yeah, reaching the semifinals with RISK A VERSE would be insanely awesome and a great thing to have in my pocket the next time I pitch an ambitious project or seek representation for another book. And if not? Well, the first round Critic’s Report is freaking awesome, and that ain’t nothin’!

Smooches to All,


Quite Nifty

Oh my goodness, people. So much awesome stuff has happened since my last post!

First, I should mention that I will be having my first-ever book signing for my book on Sunday, August 19th at noon at Warwick’s, an absolutely brilliant independent bookstore in La Jolla, where I have attended many awesome author events over the years. It’s the best kind of dream to be signing my own book at the place I once sat rapt at Berke Breathed’s feet. So if you’re in the San Diego area on the 19th, please do swing by and keep me company!

FB Signing Event Cover Photo

Event info here and here!

My July writer’s retreat was absolutely splendid, despite some issues with the house we rented. Everybody who wanted to write was able to write, those working on publishing projects made progress, and all of us took advantage of being literally across the street from Lake Michigan. I wrote about 12K words of what will probably be a novella, and it was a joy to do nothing but writing and basking in the presence and creativity of my book friends in a beautiful setting. Sharing joys and challenges with those who soothe your heart and feed your soul is a gift to be cherished.

And speaking of which, that trip was rounded out by a weekend gallivanting about Chicago with my entire immediate family. Highlights include enjoying the superb beer selection at Local Option with my siblings,  visiting old friends at the Art Institute of Chicago and admiring the surrounding public spaces, making a pilgrimage to Swirlz Cupcakes, whose co-founder is a dear friend, and meeting my baby niece, who is the most beautiful and awesome baby to have ever babied, and nothing can convince me otherwise. *nods firmly* My mom and brother will also be coming to visit me in San Diego in a few weeks, which will be awesome (and hopefully a bit less humid than Chicago in July).

I got back to San Diego just in time for San Diego Comic Con, and Wednesday evening through Sunday were full of squee, laughter, artistic inspiration, and unexpected moments of wonder. I attended over seventeen panels (offset room scheduling meant that I caught the last 30-15 minutes of a number of other panels), and I now have a to-buy book list a mile long after being favorably impressed by so many of the panelists I saw. Favorite moments include seeing Cory Doctrow surprised with an Inkpot Award at the top of his excellent panel on Optimistic Disaster Stories, accidentally sort-of-flirting with Ryan North whilst picking up Vol. 8 of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, sharing dog pictures with Dave Kellett when he signed my copy of Pugs Unleashed, and any panel hosted by Mark Evanir, especially those involving my personal hero, Mad Magazine and Groo the Wanderer cartoonist Sergio Aragonés, and Mark’s interview with this year’s Bill Finger Award-winner, Joye Murchison Kelly, who wrote Wonder Woman for several years in the 1940s, uncredited, as Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston’s health declined. Also, NASA scientists Jessie Christiansen and Morgan Cable absolutely stole the show on the Science of Star Trek panel.

And lest you think I’ve been neglecting my music in the midst of my summer hijinx, please do be enjoying this video of last Sunday’s Evensong service, featuring gorgeous music by Rachmaninoff, Gibbons, and Ireland sung by the St. Paul’s Espiscopal Cathedral Schola (including a wee solo by yours truly on the Ireland).

5 PM Choral Evensong, sung by The Cathedral Schola, August 5, 2018 from St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral on Vimeo.


In addition to Evensongs every Sunday at 5pm at St. Paul’s through the end of the month, I will also be warbling on the following performances:

I’m still waiting to hear the results of various auditions and other book-related activities, so while I don’t yet know exactly what I’m going to be doing this fall, this summer has me feeling optimistic that no matter what I end up doing, it’s going to be pretty awesome.

Onward and upward!