I had an inspiring day-trip to Philadelphia to visit with friends and explore the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The Rocky view from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Not only does the museum hold the second largest collection of French Impressionists (my person favorite artwork), there is a special exhibit called Off The Wall that is fabulous.The exhibit of wearable art created in the 60’s and 70’s includes 115 pieces by art-as-fashion mixed media artists. I took a couple of snaps of pieces I found fascinating. Like these machine-knitted Wizard of Oz socks; the tie-died meditation space; and this feathered, neck piece painted with Egyptian icons. The special exhibit is on the first floor of the Perelman Building.
Susanne E. Lewis, artist
My traveling companion and I took the train up and back to Philly, had lunch at the museum’s wonderful cafe, STIR. I wrote on the train, and the whole trip got my writer juices flowing.
I’ve been talking, and writing, a lot about my life recently. Believe me, that’s a big deal for an introvert like me. I especially enjoyed my discussion in late summer with Wayne Goodman on the Queer Words Podcast. I talk about my writing, my queer heroes, I read an excerpt of my book: Catch Me When I”m Falling, and I talk about my media career, and work in the LGBTQ community. I also give advice to people who want to write. It was a fun interview, and as you will hear I giggle and laugh way too much.
The massive mix of mystery writers and readers known as Bouchercon wrapped up in Dallas, Texas a few weekends ago. The conference brings in 1,700-2,000 participants, and is held in a different city each year. I stayed busy at the 50th anniversary of Bouchercon.
On Friday, I participated in the Sisters in Crime breakfast. The SinC group is marvelous, and the breakfast event was upbeat. There was a change in leadership. One amazing leader (Sherry Harris) handing off to another amazing leader (Lori Rader-Day). I was asked to read the thank you remarks of the winner of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color award. A hearty congratulations to Jessica Martinez in being this year’s recipient. She’s an emerging crime writer to watch out for.
Later on Friday, I participated in the This is Not a Diversity Panel with four, amazing writers: Step Cha, S. A. Cosby, Michael Nava, and Carsen Taite. I was honored to riff with them about writing and inclusion in the crime writing community.
On Saturday, another breakfast where author Heather Graham and I did a speed dating exercise with the readers attending the conference. That was fun, and tiring, and exhilarating. My afternoon panel called : A Cold and Lonely Place, looked at the issue of setting in the crime fiction. Of course, I write about Detroit in the mid-2000s and I was happy to talk about the Motor City.
Next year’s Bouchercon will be in Sacramento, California and I’ll be there. Because, one more thing happened at B’con. I was voted onto the national board. I’m happy to serve and amazing community of lovers of the crime/mystery genre.
I really worked hard on polishing a piece of micro fiction I’d written almost five years ago to read in my inaugural appearance at DC’s Noir at the Bar. The story, a criminal’s descent into madness is dark, troubling, a bit macabre. I wanted to flex my writing muscles by creating a story outside of my usual subject matter, and tone. I think I succeeded. I have come to love this story, and am thinking about building it into something more.
But, here’s the good news. That story won the Noir at the Bar Audience Favorite.
And I won a dagger…perfect for this crime-writer’s habit of peeling fruit. Ha Ha. I don’t think it will get much more use than that. Photo of dagger will come later.
Oct. 12, 2019 Noir at the Bar
Thank you to Ed Ayamar for organizing, and hosting, the event. Thanks and admiration to the other presenting writers: John Copenhaver, Erica Wright, David Swinson, James Grady, Art Taylor, Alan Orloff, Kathleen Barber, and Ed.
Allentown, PA is the home of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBTQ Center where I read with a half-dozen other writers from the anthology, Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars. The book-which calls attention to the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando-includes four dozen short-stories, essays, and poems about the role gay bars have played in building safe spaces for the LGBTQ community. Proceeds of the book’s sales support LGBTQ youth-service programs. Shout out to writers: Renee Bess (also the story collector for the anthology), Rae Theodore, Karen DiPrima who also read their pieces from the anthology.
Located on Maple street in Allentown, the center recently participated in a street name change and now resides on Bayard Rustin Way. Rustin is a hero of mine. See my bad photo of the street sign, below.
Met one of the owners of indie bookstore, Let’s Play Books, in nearby Emmaus
The visit inspired me to listen to Billy Joel’s song. https://youtu.be/BHnJp0oyOxs
For me a really good day is if I can slam out a couple of thousand words of crime fiction; do a bit of outdoors sweating; and cook something yummy.
My mother taught me how to cook. Over the years I’ve picked up a few recipes here and there to supplement the soul-food meals I learned at the proverbial mother’s knee. I don’t eat those childhood meals very much anymore. To much: fat, salt, calories, cholesterol. Although I do still make a mean mac n’ cheese.
Now, love preparing colorful vegetables. I stick pretty close to chicken, fish, shrimp. Occasional red meat (although less and less each month). It’s difficult for me to resist starches (especially rice) and I’m a sucker for a chocolate cake.
I sometimes use the promise of dessert to keep my butt in the chair writing. The results-reward strategy works well for me. Plus, I find cooking just as creative as writing. When I’m fluidly moving around a kitchen pinching, shaking, cutting, pouring, stirring; it is the same power as when I let go of the act of writing and allow the characters to speak through me.
Here are a few things I’ve cooked up of late (photos below): herb-breaded chicken breasts; tuna salad on spinach; beef tacos w/ beans & rice; sauteed shrimp (to accompany grits); red cabbage & green squash (I call this smurf & turf); six-veggie saute; and my latest book.
Indie bookstores are gems in the crowns of our literary community. This July, in the great American city of Pittsburgh, I had the opportunity to read from my book, Catch Me When I’m Falling. I was invited by author/teacher, Paula Martinac, and we interspersed a bit of writer conversation with our readings. Great questions from an overflowing audience. Thank you, White Whale Bookstore.