Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Good News Is . . .

I didn't come in last in the Maggie Award for Excellence at this weekend's Moonlight and Magnolia's conference. My long contemporary, The Glenn, came in fourth with a lovely Honorable Mention certificate.

Can I say I was thrilled to death? No, not really. But after reading the critiques I received from the very generous published authors who served as first round judges I can say I was not surprised. (look at all those wases!). Like I told some chapter buddies, I feel like I got invited to the prom and whether or not the date worked out is ancillary. Being a Maggie finalist is the closest I'll ever come to being a rock star. People gave me that "I envy you" look and perfect strangers expressed good wishes for my success. I met some wonderful fellow writers and had an altogether great time. So, what's not to love?

I also had a great pitch session with an agent on my top five wish list and she did ask for a partial - enthusiastically no less.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Renewing My Contract

We used an unusual method to locate where we'd make our home. Way back in 1995 we came to Atlanta for a job fair and somehow the city seemed like home. I could find my way anywhere in what is a sometimes perplexing maze of unmarked streets. We decided to move to Atlanta after the first day. Our spiral bound map book on my lap as we drove around offered up page 52 as the page we wanted to live on. And we did. Our first apartment, scene of some pretty lean salad and cereal days, was on Charles Allen in midtown. This was before midtown really went through a resurgence. We could walk to The Clermont Lounge to see Blondie perform her poetry strip tease. When we had fights I took refuge at The Majestic Dinner.

Our second place was a one bedroom bungalow in a sketchy part of town known as the Old Fourth Ward. India Critendon lived next door and before she died we listened to her stories about life as the best friend of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mother. Her funeral at Ebenezer Baptist Church honored her and left us feeling like part of the history of the city – in a very small way. We loved that house.

But a big Victorian in East Atlanta beckoned. Utterly destroyed by time and trouble not much was left except some smooth gliding pocket doors and a hint of character. We actually camped inside the house for the first six months. I can’t say bringing a house back from the brink of demolition is not for every relationship, but our was cemented in a mighty firm way, mostly through the use of 27 cases of White Lightening caulk. We were married on the front porch and partied in the back yard on September 23rd, 2000.

So, for our seventh anniversary my husband rented a suit on the 17th floor of the Georgian Terrace. We stood on the balcony and looked out over the city. From our vantage point we could see every neighborhood we’ve lived in and landmarks we’ve come to love. Viewing the progression of your life from on high is something everyone should do. We’ve had our rough patches and our ups and downs in thirteen years together and our moves across the city have brought some turmoil and some beauty. But bless my husband for the suite and that bird’s eye view of our life together. I think I’ll renew my contract with him for another year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Research in the Age of Google

So, when the descendant of a Scottish immigrant dies in Buckhead - which church do you pick for the funeral?

1. Figure out which denominations of Christianity are prevalent in Scotland
2. Decide to go with Presbyterian to play it safe
3. Discover that Peachtree Presbyterian has virtually NO pictures online and with only seven days to go a trip to look at churches in Buckhead is not gonna happen
4. Decide that the closest thing to the Church of Scotland is Episcopalian
5. Base decision on the nice people at Cathedral of St. Phillip because they provide a virtual tour of their nave
6. AND they provide an online guide to their funeral services (held at 10 am in the winter, 11 am in the summer and 2 pm any time of the year)
7. Breathe heavy sigh of relief and proceed to bury demised character

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Strut Day

I grew up in a rural area - granted, it was Southern California so rural is a relative term. We didn't have festivals and street fairs and art shows, etc. Today is my neighborhood's annual Village Strut. I'm getting some writing time in this morning and then I'm heading out for the parade and general debauchery. The main drag through our village - Flat Shoals Ave - closes for the day and the tents go up. Last year I found a great tee shirt for my husband to wear on his favorite holiday - Talk Like A Pirate Day. Bands will gear up and play well into the night, children will run around painted up like butterflies and bats, beer will run in rivers down the street and it will be beautiful.

What you don't realize when you live in a more suburban/rural area is that a big city is made up of many small neighborhoods, each with a different flavor or vibe. A few weeks ago Grant Park had their big shindig, The Summer Shade Festival, and soon Cabbage Town will host the Stomp and Chomp. Atlanta is a great festival city with something nearly every month to showcase a neighborhood or a park.

So, I'll head down and have a beer (or three) listen to some music, buy some handmade something-or-other and enjoy life in the city.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Story of a Girl and a Dress

So, I'm a Maggie finalist. I've been walking around repeating that randomly for the past month. Everyone is sick of me by now. However, Nicki told me this week I needed a dress worth being in the company of editors and agents - and now I've gone over the edge (my husband has started calling me Jeff Lewis - the guy from Flipping Out). I want something sophisticated, sleek, not black and not matronly. Oh, and it would be nice if it fit. That last requirement is the one that makes me throw my hands up in defeat. I'm tall, and let's face it, rather more fleshy than I would like. Try finding a dress with all that in mind. Impossible.

So, on Tuesday night my marvelous neighbor, otherwise known as coutier Charles Joseph, came over and helped me make a pattern. I have slopers and I sew - which is another topic entirely - so the process was not as painful as it sounds. We came up with something I adore and then he gave me a swatch book from a New York fabric supplier. So, yesterday I spent several hours ordering my four ply silk in gunmetal, some zippers, a little boning, thread - etc. etc. The picture is one of my inspirations for the dress - the actual dress will be longer and in a more formal fabric.
And, even better, Charles Joseph (I just call him Chuck) will sew it up for me if it gets too close to Moonlight and Magnolias and I haven't gotten it done.
So, any thoughts? What do you do when you are faced with an event where you might be in the spotlight? How important is it to present a pulled together appearance when you're trying to find an agent or editor? (Or, should I be spending my time actually finishing the ms that finaled? Wait, don't answer that - I might go Jeff Lewis on your ass).