Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bodacious Book Babes

Last night I had the great pleasure to be the guest at the Bodacious Book Babes book club.

Is that a cool name or what? It's WAY better than their original name. When I asked what their name was, one woman hesitated and admitted that they had once called themselves the Book Bags "but we think we need something better." I'd only been there maybe ten minutes at that point and I whole-heartedly agreed! These were gorgeous, smart, witty women. There was not a "bag" in the bunch.

In no time, they came up with the new name. I think it suits them MUCH better!

Have I mentioned how much I adore book clubs???

This club was fabulous! We were discussing Two Truths & a Lie and it was a blast for me to "revisit" a book I hadn't talked about in years. Many of them had read all three of my novels, though, so there were questions and stories about all of them. A great night. They had insightful, interesting questions and comments. The hostess had told me the group was "fun and informal" and that's exactly how I like them! Everyone just dove in with questions and we jumped from topic to topic. In addition to the books, our loud and lively discussions covered moon offerings, the therapeutic properties of Sex & the City, publishing, and Robert Downey Jr.

Kim, our hostess, was soon to have a birthday, so another member had brought a Coco-Cola cake. It was divine, and made even more other-worldly by raspberry sorbetto.

Sure there was wine, amazing food, and silliness, but these are SMART women. I love meeting tribes of interesting, intelligent women who love books. In this world, you know, it's a small minority of people who read for fun. Of that small minority, it's an even smaller percentage who read fiction. We book lovers are outnumbered, so when we gather, it's cause for celebration.

It was my honor to be surrounded my kindred spirits! Many thanks and all best wishes to you bodacious babes!

(Apologies to Susan, who had to leave before the pictures were taken!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to Nap

Oh, the thing we can learn from cats...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Being the "Rebound Boyfriend" Book

On June 25, I had the great honor and pleasure of visiting the Mental Health and Contemporary Fiction class at Wright State University. My novel
The Kindness of Strangers is on the syllabus.

The class is just the kind of interesting combination I love. Here’s the official description:

This class will include an intensive study and discussion of contemporary fiction in relation to specific mental health disorders, such as substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia and others. Through the lens of contemporary fiction the class will revolve around discussions of the disorders, their symptoms, how they are portrayed (or not) through specific characters, how they’re diagnosed, the positives and negatives of such classifications, the prevalence of disorders in contemporary literature, and what this says about our society as a whole.

The class is taught by two of the most dynamic, energetic, funny women ever—Erin Flanagan from the English Department and Sarah Twill from the Department of Social Work. Seriously, these women are great. At a pre-class dinner at Jeet (yum, thank you, thank you) we discovered we were kindred spirits in that we wish we were the sort of women who liked yoga, but all three of us have tried it and it just ain’t our thing!). They baked homemade cookies for the class (and not just when a guest is coming)! Don’t you wish all your professors were like that?

This is the third time Erin and Sarah have taught my novel and the second time I’ve visited the class. The Kindness of Strangers is in really good, flattering company. This summer the class is also reading Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard, The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold, The Bright Forever by Lee Martin and short stories by Dan Chaon, Madison Smartt Bell, Jhumpa Lahiri, Adam Haslett, and ZZ Packer.

Going to visit the class was fantastic. A mix of English majors, education majors, and social workers, the group had insightful questions and comments. I thoroughly enjoyed myself (and the homemade cookies).

If that weren’t good enough for my ego, get this: my novel is always taught in the second week of the course. Erin and Sarah told me that they call the week three book the “rebound boyfriend.” Erin said, “No matter how much we hope students are going to like it, they’re still so in love with the Kittle novel the relationship doesn’t stand a chance.” Hee hee hee! Music to my ears. My head is swelling and swelling....

But, some very touching reports keep me from getting too fat a head. This group of people remind me why I wrote this novel in the first place. My book is scheduled in the second week to pair it with a service learning project. Twenty-three students completed the Stewards of Children training through CARE House, so they will have the ripple effect of helping to protect hundreds of children. When I hope a story of mine will have a lasting impact, this is exactly the sort of thing I wish for! Students also go out into the community and ask for board book donations for CARE House. Last year they collected over 500 books! Many of the students in this class will help (or are already helping) real children who face abuse like my fictional Jordan. I’m full of thanks and admiration for the important work they do.

I thank Erin and Sarah for a wonderful evening, the students for their inspiration, and Sarah F. for taking the photos!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Facebook Music Challenge

I did it again...I fell for one of those silly Facebook challenges!

I have managed to avoid most of the "quizzes" they offer, such as "What drink are you?" "What Sex & the City character are you?" and "What crazy writer would you be?" ( I do not want to know the answer to that one!!!) Okay I admit, I did take the "What state are you?" and was pleased as punch to be New York. I enthusiastically dove into the "# of Days You Will Survive in the Zombie Invasion" challenge. The answer? "You survive the entire Zombie Apocalypse! You are a zombie killing deity."

These are lovely ego boosts on slow writing days.

This little challenge required a bit more brain power than most FB offerings. Since it was sent to me by my cool, groovy friend Holly G (no relation to Ali G), I couldn't resist.

Her directions: "Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people (or not) and include me. Try not to repeat a song title. It's harder than you think... but delightfully fun."

She used Billy Joel and was amazing. I thought about it, considering Suzanne Vega or Paul Simon, then one day when I was avoiding a particularly tricky revision I should be working on I decided to take a stab with the Rolling Stones. (and I cheated a couple times, using album names instead of just song titles).

Pick Your Artist: The Rolling Stones

Are you male or female: Bitch

Describe yourself: No Expectations

How do you feel about yourself: I Go Wild

Describe your current boy/girl situation: You Can't Always Get What you Want

Describe where you currently live: Made in the Shade

If you could go anywhere you wanted to go: Voodoo Lounge

Your favorite form of transportation: Wild Horses

Your best friend(s) is(are):Emotional Rescue

Your favorite color is: Brown Sugar

Favorite time of day: Moonlight Mile

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)

What is life to you: Connection

What is the best advice you have to give: Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!

If you could change your name, what would it be: Susie Q

Thought for the Day: You Gotta Move

How I would like to die: Not Fade Away

My soul's present condition: Loving Cup

Try it some day...especially when there's something much more pressing and important on the desk next to you!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Style Substance Soul

Check out this great Style Substance Soul site for their summer reading list! I'm honored that The Kindness of Strangers is included among such great company. Their list has led me to many other great titles I wouldn't have wanted to miss. That's one of the great joys of summer (along with walking barefoot in dewy grass, the smell of tomato vines when you brush them, and watching fire flies)—sprawling in a hammock with a good book and a glass of mint lemonade.