Thursday, April 24, 2014

What a day!

Today (yesterday by the time you read this) was an pretty incredible day. It started with a tremendous outpouring of kindness for my story which was more than I could have ever dreamed. Then I was able to finish the first, very messy but complete, draft of the story I have been working on since November of last year. My wife made very excellent peanut butter cookies (which I haven't had in years because of Kid A's former allergy). And lastly, since I finished my story I am able to watch "A League of Their Own" on Netflix while sipping a very delicious beer.

I am not sure what more I could have asked for in one day. Here's hoping your Thursday is just as wonderful.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let's Slay Some Dragons

Today, the short story I wrote this winter, "Dragon Slayer," comes out. It's a retelling of the tale of St. George and the Dragon with a lesbian twist. When presented with the call for submissions to an anthology of fairytales with a LGBT bent, I could think of only one story.

When I was a kid my parents gave me this book.

I fell in love with the story of the spunky princess Una, George, and the incredible illustrations. I loved it so much that when I was learning to wood carve I even chose a picture of the dragon to use as a guide. The finished product resides at my parents' house in my childhood bedroom and it makes me shake my head whenever I look at it. It was an absurd project for a child of nine or ten to take on (the teacher thought I was twelve). But, stubborn little cuss that I was, I did it.

Once I knew what story I was going to use, the trick was figuring out how to flip it enough to make it fit the call. I've already written about the fun I had writing it and the way it challenged me to write in a different way, with a different voice than I ever have before. I don't think writing medieval dragon stories will occupy much of my future but you never know. It was fun to write and I was thrilled when it was accepted for publication. And today I am overjoyed to share it with everyone. The fact that today happens to be St. George's day is a happy coincidence.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it. Thank you especially to Jenn, Valerie, Brooke, Heather, and my lovely wife for cheering me on and convincing me I could write the story in the first place.

(You can get just my story or the whole anthology if you are looking for more fairytales.) Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Booked: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend

A Love Story tarring my Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner was recommended to me a bunch of times. It kept popping up on lists of "you might like" or "these books are good" books. It was not what I expected. It seemed, judging by the cover and blurb, to be a book about a girl pining after her dead best friend. There's a smidgen of that, but not much.

Much more interesting is the way the main character and her friends try to move on from their friend's death. The story is told in alternating chapters title "Then" and "Now." I liked that there was a literal journey (the main character takes a bike trip) to accompany the metaphorical one. I am trying to avoid telling too much but I liked this quirky, different, fun (if angsty at times) story and would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy YA fiction.

Monday, April 21, 2014

We Run Again

We have already passed the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings (April 15) but today is a holiday in Boston and today the city will fill with runner from around the globe. Patriot's Day is a holiday only observed in Boston. The most visible tradition is not the guy who reenacts Paul Revere's midnight ride form the North End to Lexington to warn that the British were coming, or those who congregate on the Battle Green to shoot off fake muskets and bitch about the redcoats, it's the Marathon.

Last year the bombings (and the aftermath of that day and the day we spent at home "sheltering in place" while trying to keep our girls from knowing anything was wrong) were terrible and shook us. The other aftermath, the outpouring of love from other cities (including New York and its hated Yankees) was spectacular. As David Ortiz said "this is our fucking city." It is. We do love that dirty water, and the Sox (who delivered a championship for the shaken city), and we love the runners who will make their way through the suburbs, down Comm Ave, and into the heart of the city.

It's technically a holiday, but it will be a big day for Boston. Get ready to run.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Aunt Again

This week I became an aunt for the third time. It's a magical thing. Kids have a special magic that we silly adults mostly misplace. Sure we find it sometimes through watching our kids or our nieces and nephews, or in the sweet magic of first kisses and holding hands by the strength of just the tips of your finger as you wonder how you got so damn lucky to be sitting next to a person so exquisite you must be dreaming. The magic doesn't really go away it just gets covered up with so much everyday dirt and dust and the kind of tarnish you don't notice until the silver on your necklace is a strange dingy black color except where it rubs against your skin.

Kid magic is hope and belief in the impossibility of a dragon castle with a dragon king who doesn't like stinky feet and imagination so vivid and so technicolor that you really can almost see it even without closing your eyes. They are new and filled with magic and promise and a life laid before them with so much possibility it's overwhelming.

The rest of us find it again, like the Velveteen Rabbit made real through the deep abiding love of a small boy. Kids can do that for us, too. So I held my nephew and enjoyed the hurtling, time traveling sensation of remembering the day I held my daughter for the first time. And felt the heft of him, so small but so filled with the kaleidoscopic vision of the future in which who he is and who he can be is so vast that the possibilities overlap like colored light in a tube filled with mirrors.

It's Easter this weekend and while I am a flaming heathen I do know a little about the hope some feel about this holiday. The promise of rebirth and resurrection and all that nonsense. It seems like a lot to lay at the feet of any person (son of god or not) but I do know that babies can make you feel like the world is a new place full of marvel and magic.

Have a lovely weekend and Happy Easter to those who celebrate.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Booked: Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom

This is the second of the lesbian YA books I read this week. Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin is a story told in two alternating voices. One is the titular Tessa and the other is her best friend Luke, the star pitcher for the baseball team. It starts with Luke reading the tea leave all wrong and asking his best friend Tessa to prom. The only problem is that Tessa is a lesbian.

From there, the story zips along with the kinds of negative reactions that you might find in a small Indiana town. I don't love stories, generally, that dwell on the negative and/or controversial parts of coming out. But, I did enjoy this book. It was cute, sweet, and enjoyable to read about Luke trying to fix the giant mess he makes.

It was a quick read and felt a lot like an after school special but with some genuinely funny moments. The alternating voices (each character has a full chapter and then hands it over to the other character) works well. You get to hear both characters speak in distinct voices and the story comes together well with this technique. This is another to find at the library if you want a quick read.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Booked: Keeping You a Secret

Last week, when I spent a day traveling, I grabbed a couple of lesbian YA novels from the Boston Public Library and loaded them on my wife's Nook. I'm not a huge fan of e-readers but being able to carry three books in one tiny package was nice. Anyway, one of the books was Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters. If you like angst and teen love and coming out stories this is one for you. It is heart pinching, and sweet, and sad, and was the perfect thing for a day of traveling.

The story starts with Holland Jaeger, our main character, meeting Cece Goddard who is the new girl and the only out lesbian at the school. Holland has a boyfriend, Seth, who is sort of ho-hum at best and you can guess where this goes. There are more than enough bumps in the road but both girls are likable, funny, and easy to root for.

I've talked about before finding stories that don't quite make my heart ache or recall some of the nervousness and excitement of high school, first loves, and the slowly dawning realization that "oh shit! I like this girl." I really enjoyed this quick, fun read (although the coming out process in this one is rougher than I really like in a book). It's a good one to pick up at your library.