Tall Ships, Best American Essays, Readings, Isis…

My essay “The Truck Stop Killer,” which originally appeared in GQ, has been included in this year’s Best American Essays (under its original title “Highway of Lost Girls”) and my deepest gratitude goes to editors Cheryl Strayed and Robert Atwan for thinking of me, as well as to my editors at GQ, Donovan Hohn and Michael Benoist.

Available from all your fine independent booksellers

Available from all your fine independent booksellers

When I look back in my dotage I expect being included in BAE will remain forever, a highlight.

I'm thinking about BAE

I’m thinking about Best American Essays

If you wish to hear me read (and live in any of these places), here are my October and November dates:

Monday Oct 14th Brooklyn, New York – Franklin Park Reading Series w/ Susan Steinberg,Laura van den Berg, Vanessa Veselka, Karolina Waclawiak, T Kira Madden. 618 St. Johns Place, between Franklin and Classon Avenues, Crown Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11238 https://www.facebook.com/events/706547862708337/

Tuesday Oct 29th Portland, Oregon – w/ Cheryl Strayed, Kevin Sampsell, and Brian Doyle. 7pm @ Cedar Hills Powells   3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.  Beaverton, OR 97005 http://www.powells.com/calendar/

Then I will go to Europe

Then I will go to Europe and read for the first time, the reading there not the going there.

 

Nov 15  Enschede, Nederlands / Crossing Border Festival http://crossingborder.nl/?lang=en

Nov 16 Den Haag, Nederlands / Crossing Border Festival http://crossingborder.nl/?lang=en

Nov 17 Antwerpen, Belgium/ Crossing Border Festival http://crossingborder.nl/?lang=en

Nov 21 Paris, France @ Charbyde http://www.charybde.fr/pages/events

 

And now for the super important stuff. Tall ships! In August, I was fortunate enough to spend time training on the Brig Niagara. She is a remarkable ship and it was my great honor to learn from her crew. Someday I hope to become a marginally useful deckhand. I am not one yet. In the meantime, pictures.

Niagara-compressed

This is a shot of the fighting top and cross trees. So many lines, I ran around lost a lot. At the top you can see the “Don’t Give Up the Ship” flag. What I like about this photo is that all you can see is “Don’t,” which seems to me to be a more effective warding.

niagara fighting top

And just because it so beautiful, here’s another with the shrouds clearly to the fore and the cross trees also visible.

niagara mast

Here is an old picture of my pal Dan slaving away like a bro in his 20s. There is a lot of heaving and many ways to ease–better, handsomely, sharply.

niagrara pink sail

nn

dan slaveryFinally, these are photos I took on an incredible night of sailing. This was just after a huge reenactment of the Battle of Lake Erie for its bicentennial. We had just let off everyone but crew and the Captain decided to sail through the night without stopping. I’m so glad he did because it was one of the most beautiful nights I’ve ever seen. These pictures are not doctored or filtered. They were taken with my old phone the second I was relieved on helm and, for once, seem to capture the actual beauty of the sky and moment. niagrara pink sail

Niagara bow

I leave you with this random thought: the Egyptians were historically lame sailors but they had other things going for them. Like Isis! Here she is having incarnated into a nervous actress with no experience who landed the part because she was best friend of the producer’s daughter and magically initiated 7-10 year old girls all over the country into the mysteries of flight.

Isis3

O’ Zephyr Winds That Blow on High, Lift Me Now So I May Fly

Here’s where I’ll be at AWP

A utilitarian post at best but…I will be at AWP for about 36 hours if you want to track me down:   Friday eve at AWP Heat: The Fire Inside (assuming my plane lands on time)

This is meant to be figurative

This is meant to be figurative (click on pic for event details)

And….Saturday I will participate in a panel at the Hynes Convention Center (think stellar ambiance) on putting out your first book– an author/publisher perspective. It will be held from 10:30-11:45 in room #210 and should be lively.

This is how you end up in a universe across the galaxy

This is how you end up in a universe across the galaxy

And…                                                                                                                                                        Sat eve I will be reading in Cambridge at the Literary Firsts Series

I am told Boston is close to Cambridge (click on pic for more details of event)

I am told Boston is close to Cambridge (click on pic for more details of event)

 

That is all.

Yes, the rumors are true. Good news, yes! No, I’m not pregnant. Too old, but…

I am proud to announce that my next novel (when complete) will go to Riverhead Books where I will get to work with the fabulous editor, Megan Lynch.

I am humbled by their amazing authorshttp://www.riverheadbooks.com/

Where else can you find the work of George Saunders, the Dalai Lama, Nami Mun, Jon Ronson, Junot Diaz, and more?

I have been spoiled by good editors and publishers, an embarrassment of riches, and I want to thank Richard Nash and Red Lemonade from the bottom of my heart for giving me a career.

more amazing writers and a great home to come from

more amazing writers and also a great home

 

So when someone asks, “What’s your new novel about?” I say nothing. I don’t like to talk about work not yet complete. BUT I can tell you this. I have been fortunate enough to work with talented editors and am thrilled to get to work with Megan Lynch. It will be some time before I am done but I love where I’m at in the new novel.  Riverhead has shown stunning confidence in me and I hope to return the favor.  All will be well; all will be good.

I love you, man!(click pic for great Forbes interview on his work with Small Demons)

I love you, man!
(click pic for great Forbes interview on his work with Small Demons)

Readings, podcasts, and the onset of relative Internet silence…

This has been a remarkable year for me, one of the best. I have gotten to travel and read and hold forth on a variety of subjects. I have done chapbooks with Lidia Yuknavitch, met many wonderful writers and editors, gotten check from Condé Nast, and won a PEN award. I honestly doubt I’ll see another year like this one. Thank you all.

I'm the satisfied Moravian in the middle.

I’m the satisfied Moravian in the middle.

 

…..And now it is time for me to turn the Internet way down and write more…..

 

My new home (psychically speaking)

My new home (psychically speaking)

Starting on February 1st I will be hiding out, taking a break from blogs and interviews and trying to ignore Facebook the best I can. If you write me and I’m slow to respond, this is why.  It’s not personal. I will still post upcoming events, but perhaps more perfunctorily. This is not out of a lack of gratitude, but rather from a need for internal quiet while I write this next novel. Over time, news will come up and I will put it up here. In fact, some is coming soon.

But for now, here are my readings, podcasts, and events through April.

Tuesday, January 22nd at 7pm EST/ 4pm PST  I will be doing a live podcast for The Author’s guild with Pauls Toutonghi. Pauls will interview me about Zazen and then two weeks later on Monday, Feb 4th I will interview him about Evel Knievel Days. You can click on the link below and sign up if you want to join the conversation.

click for magic link to Booktalk Nation

click for magic link to Booktalk Nation

 

Saturday, February 23rd   I will read in Portland @ Burnt Tongue 3  — Showtime 5-8pm (door at 4:30) @CRUSH BAR
1400 SE Morrison Street Portland OR   — $5 Suggested gift donation

March 8-10th I will be at AWP in Boston, Massachusetts.

Saturday, March 9th …I am on a panel at AWP called: “The Business of Publishing Your First Novel: Author and Publisher Perspectives.”
Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Location: Room 210, Hynes Convention Center

ALSO Saturday, March 9th I read at Literary Firsts in Cambridge, MA  –show runs from 5:30-8pm and will be at Middlesex Lounge near Central Square.  That’s it!

I aim for this in my own way

I aim for this in my own way

 

 

The NRA and the Gun Lobby are not crazy, they are WRONG

We need to stop calling people with different ideas “crazy.” It let’s them off the hook. It says there’s no use in talking to them. It says they are to be ignored or written off. It doesn’t say the truth, which is that THEY ARE WRONG. DEAD WRONG. When we say “wrong” we are instantly engaged in a dialog. We are creating a conversation. They are wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong on what makes for security. Wrong on priorities. Wrong on mental health. Wrong on god (I am not talking about atheism). The NRA is wrong. The gun lobby and its supporters are wrong. The guy you’re going to have dinner with over the holidays is wrong. Now we’re talking.

Where you can find me in October—readings, writings, airports…

This month I have the honor of being in three very different publications: Tin House Magazine, the first issue of Sarah McCary’s Guillotine, and (drumroll…) GQ Magazine. I’m not sure how I got to be in an unapologetic, feminist chapbook series and a famous men’s magazine in the same month. It is just one of many great mysteries by which I am fortunate enough to be confused.

Another mystery, yet more compelling.

I am also lucky to be traveling and reading in these places:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  /  October 10th, 4:30 pm, 260 Baker Hall, Carnegie Mellon.

I like the lighting but I don’t think I get to read in the foyer.

Brooklyn, New York  October 11th 7 pm @ Melville House Bookstore  145 Plymouth Street  Brooklyn, NY 11201–I will be reading nonfiction for the release of Guillotine w/ Karolina Waclawiak and Sarah McCary !!

Manhattan, NYC / October 16th, 7:30pm@ Dixon Place—Experiments and Disorders / 161A Chrystie St. (between Rivington & Delancey) NY, NY 10002 …I will be reading something fictitious…

Seattle, Washington October 18th, I will be reading with the Tin House Magazine folks for the first ever SEATTLE LITCRAWL! (Muppet applause)

New York, NY October 23, at 6:30 p.m. the PEN Awards ceremony  @Proshansky Auditorium / The CUNY Graduate Center 365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th and 35th streets)  NY, NY 10016

The flags are not for me but I am very, very excited anyway.

Why I love The PEN, indy publishers, and indy booksellers…

I am stunned and deeply honored to announce that Zazen has won the 2012 PEN Robert Bingham prize for 1stfiction.

Please click on the image to see the full announcement. Many wonderful writers are honored as well.

I would like to thank the judges, all great writers, Lauren Groff, Dinaw Mengestu, and Nami Mun. I strongly suggest you buy their work (and send them chocolate and whiskey because reading the insane amount of books they read is NOT for the lighthearted).

I would also like to thank the Bingham family for offering the kind of funding needed to support me while writing my current novel. I never knew Robert Bingham, but I am extremely grateful to be a part of the legacy left in his name and will show that by writing more and getting better at it.

I would like to thank the PEN for their work here and abroad. The PEN’s conviction in the writer’s voice and staunch protection of it moves me profoundly.  It evokes in me an emotion akin to patriotism, not in service to flag or country, but rather in deference of the human right to make things of beauty. I just can’t believe I have any part in something so damn noble and grand. You should all give money to the PEN, not because of people like me, but because of what they do for writers whose voices have put them in real danger. Support them because they support people like Eskinder Nega, the jailed Ethiopian journalist and blogger, and many others who need the protection of money and visibility. You can join the PEN by clicking on the image below and following the instructions…

joingthePENjoingthePENjoingthePENjoingthePEN

Or you can just give them money!

click image to go to the PEN donation page

Personally, I want to say that I have been so very fortunate. Many great writers never receive recognition for their work and I feel I have received so much. Winning this award is a cross between playing in the snow on Christmas and rolling down a grassy hill on the best sunny day. It’s just pure joy. But other things should also be said. The truth is, I often lack the emotional scaffolding to keep my chin up on my own. Zazen had supporters all along the way who convinced me to keep trying to get it published then get it in the hands of people who would care about it.

Here are a few of them…

Jay Babcock at Arthur Magazine for serializing Zazen on Arthur in 2009 and constantly trying to help it see the light of day. And I am so happy that Arthur is back in the world!

Richard Nash and Red Lemonade for publishing Zazenand staying behind it and me…

Check out Red Lemonade’s other authors http://redlemona.de/

And most importantly, the independent booksellers who got Zazen into people’s hands. They tweeted, they talked, they wrote blog posts, they made shelf talkers, they put it in their windows—they handsold the damn thing until made it’s way into the world and found its people. Nobody would have it if it weren’t for them Here are just a few…Powells, Broadway Books, Annie Bloom’s, WORD, Bank Square Books, Skylight, McNally Jackson, RiverRun Books, and many others. I have met only some of you, but I love you all. Thank you. You have given me a career.

 

and so many more….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Gerard Donaghy for the cool trailer!

My friend Gerard Donaghy made this video about the psychogeography of Zazen. We can’t really call it a trailer because the book has been out for a year, but then trailers do generally trail behind. Either way, it was fun to make with him. Obviously, it is also a wonderfully clever tribute to Jean-Luc Godard’s Week End. Enjoy!

click image or go to link below for video

 

 

I’m reading in San Francisco this coming Saturday (June 9th) with…

It’s my honor and privilege to read with Anthony Swofford and Raj Patel and other great writers at Writers With Drinks this Saturday. The show starts at 7:30 sharp and doors open at 6:30. We were going to do assigned seating like how those airlines do it, but instead went for festival seating like how The Who did it. So come early.

It will look like this only without the instruments and with different people

For real information you can go here:        https://www.facebook.com/events/294361363988086/

One of the other great honors I have while visiting San Francisco is getting to play a part in Hilary Goldberg’s animated existential saga The Deer In Between.

Michele Tea and Ed Wolf are the deer that decide the fate of human souls http://www.thedeerinbetween.com/

I will be the voice of a morel mushroom that is part of a political underground. Here are some of the mushrooms that seem to be abusing their power and have lots of secret meetings:

secret meeting

I have to say this is one of the highlights of my career so far.  If you need to get caught up on the drama here is:

Episode 1      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSVRSq5Vt-c

Episode 2     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwKunyqy2fE

 

 

My upcoming online class at Lit Reactor and a few thoughts about teaching…

Next week I start teaching an online class through LitReactor called Leading With Voice. There are still some spots open for those interested. At least I believe there are…Anyway, it made me think about what it means to teach writing. Teaching is a strange thing. There’s always something a little grandiose about saying, “Hey! I know how to do this and you should listen to me!”

I feel just like this sometimes...

And pushing aside things like making macaroni and cheese or tying your shoes, who really looks at an art form and thinks, “I know how to do this.”  ??

Yes. Now I see it all...so...clearly, Mr Dahmer...

Still, there is benefit in breaking open your own head and letting people see the inside of it. Sometimes it helps them break open their heads.  And this is largely how I view teaching. If I had a philosophy, it would go a little like this:

1) Instinct is better than knowledge. Yet a little insight and some perspective can be really helpful, and those things often come through other people.

2) The more you write the quicker you get sick of your bad writing habits.

3) The writer is always boss of her own work. And sometimes firing yourself is a good idea.  I do it periodically and can recommend it.

And…I’d like to thank the fine folks at LitReactor for giving me an online home. Join me there if you like.

Clicking on the image should take you to LitReactor unless I'm an utter dork at this. And if I am, click the link below.

Failing that bit of technology, click here for class info:

http://litreactor.com/classes/leading-with-voice-how-to-create-compelling-first-person-narrators-who-drive-your-fiction?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=litreactor&utm_campaign=vanessa%2Bveselka

And so I don’t forget–

Nothing says Easter like a violet geode. Fertile AND mineral?

 

Happy Easter Bunny.