Well, what do you write about when you don’t have any particular thing to talk about, but haven’t posted in a while….coronavirous.
Like so many people around the world, and more recently in the U.S., I’ve been thinking about Coronavirus. I’m not quite in the worry stage yet. Although, I’m in the “worry- about” age demographic.
I’m a news junkie. The American media began reporting about coronavirus in earnest after Super Tuesday. But months before, the BBC and NHK media were reporting on the spread of the virus in the Wuhan province of China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. I’ve been paying attention to the rapid spread of the virus in China and beyond. I replenished my supply of anti-bacterial hand soap weeks before the CDC told me to sing Happy Birthday and wash my hands.
Truth is I’ve always been a bit of a germophobe. I wash my hands a half-dozen times or more on an average day, and when I’m cooking, I double that. I have hand sanitizer in my car, my bathrooms, my purse, my luggage. I have hand wipes, on hand. I have tree/grass allergies, so I had masks in my house even before the virus concerns. I love having guests in for dinner, and my regular diners know to wash their hands before they even think about heading to my kitchen.
Good news. I’ve been writing and editing the past few weeks, and staying close to home. So, I haven’t been among the masses. I have a new Charlie Mack book out this spring. I’m also working on a stand-alone crime book set, in Washington, DC, I’m planning to shop to an agent.
Bad news: It’s difficult to stay focused on writing when talk of the coronavirus outbreak swirls around you, and the details change on an hour-by-hour basis.
I have a lot of travel planned in the next few weeks. So, I’m mulling over the decisions to go, or stay.
I’ll play it by ear, nose and throat.
I had an inspiring day-trip to Philadelphia to visit with friends and explore 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.
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 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.
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
Drunken! Careening! Writers Series
Tonight at the KGB Bar (For a mystery/thriller/crime writer, I love the name of this bar)
7 p.m. Reading from Long Way Home: A World War II Novel
Wow. March. Loved you, but you wore me out.
I started out the month doing final edits to my fourth book in the Charlie Mack Motown Mystery series. That book: Judge Me When I’m Wrong will be published in October 2019. It’s the first time I’ve had two books published in one calendar year. Excited!
I did a sensitivity/beta read for an author friend. It was a romance novel. I don’t read a lot of romance, but this book’s story was quite charming, and dare I say it. I enjoyed racing through to the ‘happy ending’. Then it was off to Pittsburgh to work with the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Board to check out our host hotel for July’s GCLS Con. The beautiful Wyndham Grand in Downtown Pittsburgh, sits at the convergence of the city’s three rivers and will be an excellent site for the gathering of our 300 GCLS members this summer.
A week later it was off to Chicago for the Murder and Mayhem conference. I sat on a fun panel of cozy mystery writers (I’m not cozy) and they made me feel very comfortable. The day after the conference, I taught a class (with Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter board member, Mia Manansala) called: Character, not Caricatures: Writing People Who Aren’t Like You. Mia and I swirled through a PowerPoint presentation and engaged the paying audience in a series of writing exercises.
The following week it was on to New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival where I ate gumbo, moderated a panel of radical, lesbian, feminist writing luminaries (Judy Grahn, Blanche McCrary Boyd, and Dorothy Allison), participated in an interview with New Orleans mystery writer, Jean Redmann, did a reading of my new book, Catch Me When I’m Falling, read the poetry of Assotto Saint in a author’s remembrance (including Pulitzer Prize winner, Michael Cunningham) of writers who had passed away of HIV/AIDS, and, wait for it- was inducted into the SAS Fest Hall of Fame.
Oh, and did I mention I met Grammy-winning, extraordinary musician, Ani DiFranco?