Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Press-Enterprise article (where Pat O'Brien and a photographer accompanied me to a self storage auction) is up and running today. Just try to ignore the picture of me; somehow it got distorted on the page, and I look very strange and pinched. There are three photos in the print edition that are much less dismaying! I thought there was going to be a video component online, but I can't seem to find it. If I do, I'll let you know how to access it...

Hope to see those of you in the Riverside area at my library reading tonight! The paper says the reading is supposed to start at 6:30, but it's really scheduled for 7. Mark Nemetz of Bucksworth is going to fill up that extra half hour with some of his wonderful music. It should be a fun night--there will even be flan to snack on in honor of my character Flan!

Monday, January 29, 2007

My tour is on the horizon! I thought I should post all of my events here, since they haven't all been added to the Random House tour page yet. I hope to see you during my travels...

01/31/2007 07:00 PM - Riverside Public Library
3581 Mission Inn Ave
Riverside, California 92501

02/05/2007 03:00 PM - The Barn at UCR
West Campus Drive, Building 358
Riverside, California 92507

02/09/2007 07:00 PM - Canio's Books
290 Main Street
Sag Harbor, New York 11963

02/10/2007 07:00 PM - Bluestockings
172 Allen Street
New York, New York 10002
(Also featuring a very special performance by acclaimed singer-songwriter Kelley latest album is Never Be. Presented by CODEPINK.)

02/13/2007 07:00 PM - Vroman's Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, 91101

02/19/2007 07:30 PM - Powell's Books
2720 NW 29th St.
Portland, Oregon 97210

02/20/2007 07:00 PM - University Bookstore
4326 University Way
Seattle, Washington 98105

02/21/2007 08:00 PM - De Colores Bookstore
507 Washington St. SE
Olympia, Washington 98501
(This is my cousin's wonderful bookstore! Check it out at

02/22/2007 07:00 PM - A Great Good Place for Books
6210 La Salle Ave
Oakland, California 94611

02/23/2007 07:00 PM - Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista
Corte Madera, California 94925

02/28/2007 07:00 PM - Collins Hill Library
455 Camp Perrin Road
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30045
(Gwinnett Daily Post book club event)

03/02/2007 12:00 PM - AWP Conference
Hilton Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(I'll be reading with Eloise Klein Healy, Joel Barraquiel Tan, Richard Beban, Kimberly Berwick, and Sefi Atta to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles, the nation’s only MFA Program with a mission specifically devoted to the pursuit of social justice. For more info about AWP, go to

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Here's an article about me in the Gwinnett Daily Post. The paper chose Self Storage for their February book club. Fun timing--the paper is located just outside of Atlanta, and I'm actually going to be in Atlanta for the AWP Conference the day the book club is meeting to discuss Self Storage. The article states I won't be present at the event, but now it looks as if I will!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

You can read a review of Self Storage and an in-depth interview with me over at

Friday, January 26, 2007

I would love to be at the Mandate for Peace March in DC this weekend with my CODEPINK cohorts, but I am honored and delighted to be the wedding poet at my friends Nancy and Jennifer's wedding instead. It will be a different way to bring peace into the world!
It's been a wild week. Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive during my book release. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

I had some flaky moments this week that could have ruined a couple of interviews, but somehow everything worked out.

On Wednesday, as I mentioned below, I had two interviews in LA. One was at 1:30, the other at 7. That left a good amount of time to bum around LA in between, so I did just that after my fun interview with Connie Martinson (Bernard Cooper, who was on the faculty of Antioch when I was getting my MFA, and is absolutely incredible, was her other guest--it was so great to see him). I visited some bookstores to sign their stock, I wandered about the Farmer's Market, I went to a movie (Children of Men). The ticket guy told me it would get out at 6:14, which seemed like plenty of time to get across town to the radio station; when the movie got out, I found out it was quite a bit later than the guy had quoted. I ran to my car to try to get through LA traffic to the studio in time.

I found my phone on the floor of my car; it must have fallen out of my purse--I hadn't checked it for hours. There were several missed calls, and a frantic voice mail from the radio host, Josy Catoggio. I had emailed her that morning to tell her how much I was looking forward to our chat (she interviewed me when Fruitflesh first came out. It was my first radio experience and she made it so much fun, so comfortable.) It turned out that she didn't know I was coming to the studio that night. I had thought my publicist was going to confirm the interview, and she thought I was going to confirm, so no one had confirmed, and Josy hadn't read the book yet and wasn't expecting me at all. She said in the message that if I showed up, we'd wing it, and if not, we'd reschedule. I couldn't get through at her number, and no one was answering at KPFK, so I just drove in a heart pounding, traffic dodging rush, taking a short cut through twisty turny Laurel Canyon and hoped I could get to the station in time. I arrived a couple of minutes after the show started. The producer invited me to sit in the production booth; I listened to Josy and her first guest, and let my breath calm back down. The worst thing that could happen, I reminded myself, was that I wouldn't get to be on the radio that night. That was not so bad in the big scheme of things.

During a recorded segment of the show, Josie stepped out of the studio and we had a great time reconnecting. I quickly filled her in on the shape of the novel, we talked about some questions she could ask me, and then it was time for the interview. Josy did a beautiful job winging it--she asked great questions, and our conversation went to some wonderfully surprising places (she introduced me to the word "clitzpah"--a female version of "chutzpah"!) So it all worked out, and I even got to eat vegetarian tea smoked duck afterwards!

I made another embarrassing, but ultimately fortuate, slip today. I had planned to go to another self storage auction, this time with a reporter (my friend Pat O'Brien) and photographer from the local paper in tow. We showed up at the self storage place and it was disturbingly quiet. I checked my list of local self storage auctions, and noticed to my chagrin that I had misread the list and the auction had taken place there yesterday. I felt like a complete dodohead. I quickly checked the listings, and learned that there was another one starting in half an hour in Perris, a town about half an hour away. The paper people were game to go there, so we made a mad dash, and got to the auction shortly after it had started. It turned out to be the best auction I've ever attended--the most lots up for bid, the biggest crowd, the greatest energy. So that all worked out, too! A very nice couple even let me buy some boxes from the lot they won so I can open some up at my local readings, which is exciting! Plus Pat and I went out to lunch afterward at a cool restaurant next door to the storage place--La Sirena, The Mermaid--which felt fitting because both of us are very into mermaids (and into drinking coconut water, which was on the menu.) I may share more details of the day when I am more awake (over the course of writing this post, I've realized how tired I am.) And I will post a link to the article when it comes out.

Another funny thing...I am quoted very briefly in this LA Times article about a fraudulent essay contest I had entered (you can read more about my experience in this essay). I used to have an irrational complex that the LA Times was consciously avoiding me, but now I've been in their pages three times in the last two months, for different reasons each time. Pretty cool!

I hope I'll be less flaky during the rest of the promotion blitz (or if I am, I hope I'll continue to be as lucky as I was this week!)

Sweet dreams...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The marvelous Caroline Leavitt asked me to say a few words about Self Storage and mothering for the Cookie Magazine blog (she writes the book column and runs the book forum for Cookie). You can read my response here.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More self storage-related stories in the news...

Paris Hilton's storage unit contents, which were auctioned off in 2005, much to the celebutante's chagrin, are now avaialable for viewing online for $39.97 a month. See how lucrative self storage auctions can be! If only my character Flan had stumbled across some celebrity porn during a self storage auction, life could have been so much easier. Sigh.

A few more details are coming out about the mummified baby found in a storage locker. The baby was found in a suitcase, wrapped in newspaper dated January. 9, 1957. A very intriguing mystery.

Strangely, this is not the first mummified baby to be found in a storage unit. One was found in Toronto a few years ago.

This self storage world is so full of intrigue. I may just have to write a sequel...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I recently interviewed the fabulous Cindy Bokma. Now she's interviewed me!
Today is the official release date for Self Storage! Very exciting! I wish I didn't have a sinus infection so I could enjoy the day more fully, but I'm sure I'll find a way to celebrate. I hope my head will be a little less stuffy tomorrow; I'm going to be interviewed by Connie Martinson tomorrow afternoon--I'll let you know when the segment runs--and I'll be on Feminist Magazine on KPFK tomorrow at 7pm. I would rather not be snuffling and bleary on the air!

Jason Boog at The Publishing Spot is running a weeklong interview with me--check here every day for a new answer to his great questions.

Self storage auctions have been in the news a lot lately. Just today, a mummified baby was found in a unit about to go up for auction, and recently a soldier came home from Iraq to find all of his belongings had been auctioned off by Public Storage. It's amazing how many human stories--some tragic indeed--can be found inside these storage lockers.

I went to a self storage auction last Friday. I was hoping to win a unit with several boxes, or buy a few boxes from someone who won a locker--I really want to take unopened boxes to my local readings and open one during each event. I think it would be great fun to share that moment of discovery and surprise with readers; I would love to give the contents away as door prizes, or prizes for anyone who asks a question. I'd love to do that in my out of town readings, too (check out my schedule here to see if I'm coming to a town near you) but I don't think it would be a good idea to carry boxes full of unknown contents onto planes!

Fourteen lots were listed in the newspaper's public notices for this particular auction, so I figured there would be a good chance of getting some boxes, but by the time the auction rolled around, 12 of those lots were reclaimed by their owners, so only two were up for bid. The first lot had a couple of boxes, along with a lot of tools, but it sold for way more money than I had brought with me, and the man who won it wouldn't sell me a box. The second unit was filled with large pieces--furniture, a dog igloo; even though it only went for $45, it didn't make sense for me to bid. I don't want to lug dog igloos to my readings! The auction was a bust box-wise, but it was still great fun to tap into that world again, to see the anticipation on the bidders' faces, to hear the auctioneer do his mile a minute spiel, to watch the bidders give their characteristic bidding movements--a slightly raised hand here, a lifted chin there. I half-expected to see my characters in the crowd! I am going to try to go to another auction later this week. I'll let you know what happens...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

I am reviewed very favorably (along with some good helpful criticism) in the LA Times book review today. I'm even on the centerfold page of the review section, which is fun! This feels very signficant to me--I haven't been reviewed by the LA Times before. Every Sunday, the book review is the first thing I read in the paper. I think part of me has worried that if I didn't read the book review section first, somehow the book gods wouldn't smile upon me. I always feel a little guilty when I even glance at another section first--silly, but true.

When The Book of Dead Birds came out, I assumed the Times would review me since I was a local author and the book was set in Southern California, plus it had won a lovely award, but a review there never came to pass, despite my superstitious loyalty to the book section. Between that and the fact that I hadn't been invited to be part of The LA Times Festival of Books (which I've also loyally visited over the years), I was beginning to feel--and I know how silly this is, too--that somehow I wasn't cool enough to warrant attention from the Times. And now not only have they reviewed me, they invited me to be part of the book fest this year! I am very happy (although I still don't feel like I'm at the cool kids' table. The writing gods are trying very hard to keep me humble today--I'm completely zonked by a cold so I haven't been able to enjoy the experience as fully as I'd like. But I am still thrilled.)

I'm also excited to be added to the CODEPINK Reading List!

When staring at my computer doesn't make my eyes hurt so much, I'll write about my experience going to a self storage auction last Friday.

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Friday, January 19, 2007

More amazing reviews. I'm all verklempt!

I am so touched by Jordan Rosenfeld's gorgeous review in the San Francisco Chronicle

and take a look at Suzanne Colburn's Reader to Reader Review:
Gayle Brandeis has written a jewel of a story that you’ll want to read many times since there are so many twists and turns that you can’t take it all in with one reading. It is a book to be savored. It is extremely thought provoking as you come to know the adorable Flan Parker, a woman who is trying to make ends meet while her husband is working on his dissertation. The children, Noodle and Nori, are precious and an integral part of the story. This is a story that will have you laughing out loud at times and near tears others. The story focuses around Flan’s going to self storage auctions and bidding on lots to sell to her neighbors mostly as well as others. Through Flan you meet her friends and neighbors and get involved with their lives. You are going to see many sides to these individuals throughout SELF STORAGE. There are lots of good surprises in store for you so get this book and get reading!

Once you start SELF STORAGE I bet your life with change somewhat after reading it. I know mine has. For one thing I’m thinking about Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, how I think of others with today’s political views, my friends and neighbors. This book is a real eye-opener to your emotions. You don’t know what is going to happen next and it will shock you a little when Flan takes action after an incident that will turn her family’s life upside down as well as her own. Gayle Brandeis is a word goddess! What a blessing she is to the world of fiction with deep meaning.
I have been blushing all day long.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It was so interesting to learn about this cool but somewhat creepy writing automaton:
Completed by 1772, 'The Writer' was the most perfect and complex automaton built by swiss clockmaker Jacquet-Droz. His astonishing mechanism was presented in every court in Europe and fascinated the world's most important people: the kings and emperors of China, India and Japan.

As soon as the mechanism starts up, 'The Writer' dips the feather into the ink, shakes it twice, puts his hand at the top of the page and stops. Every single movement of the automaton gives un unusual impression of life: his eyes follow the text being written, and the head moves when he takes some ink.

The Writer is able to write any custom text up to 40 letters long.
You can watch a video showing the automaton in action through the link above. Quite amazing.

Sometimes I feel like a writing automaton, like someone else is cranking a wheel on my back to set me in motion, like someone else has programmed what I'm supposed to write, and all I have to do is move my fingers. Other times, I am woefully aware that I am the "I" who writes. I think I prefer feeling like an automaton (although fortunately I don't feel robotic when that feeling comes over me--I just feel like a conduit, an open channel. Receptive and buzzing with energy. I don't like being self-conscious as I write.

Then again, maybe I need to pay more heed to the self as I write. Zadie Smith recently wrote a fascinating exploration of the self in writing, of the gulf between expectation and reality in the writing process, of the duty of the novelist. I was particularly taken with this section:

Back to my simple point, which is that writers are in possession of "selfhood", and that the development or otherwise of self has some part to play in literary success or failure. This shameful fact needn't trouble the professor or the critic, but it is naturally of no little significance to writers themselves. Here is the poet Adam Zagajewski, speaking of The Self, in a poem of the same title:

It is small and no more visible than a cricket
in August. It likes to dress up, to masquerade,
as all dwarves do. It lodges between
granite blocks, between serviceable
truths. It even fits under
a bandage, under adhesive. Neither custom officers
nor their beautiful dogs will find it. Between
hymns, between alliances, it hides itself.

To me, writing is always the attempted revelation of this elusive, multifaceted self, and yet its total revelation - as Zagajewski suggests - is a chimerical impossibility. It is impossible to convey all of the truth of all our experience. Actually, it's impossible to even know what that would mean, although we stubbornly continue to have an idea of it, just as Plato had an idea of the forms. When we write, similarly, we have the idea of a total revelation of truth, but cannot realise it. And so, instead, each writer asks himself which serviceable truths he can live with, which alliances are strong enough to hold. The answers to those questions separate experimentalists from so-called "realists", comics from tragedians, even poets from novelists. In what form, asks the writer, can I most truthfully describe the world as it is experienced by this particular self? And it is from that starting point that each writer goes on to make their individual compromise with the self, which is always a compromise with truth as far as the self can know it. That is why the most common feeling, upon re-reading one's own work, is Prufrock's: "That is not it at all ... that is not what I meant, at all ..." Writing feels like self-betrayal, like failure.

A lot to think about, especially on the cusp of the publication of Self Storage, which also tries to plumb the "Self"--how we store it, how we set it free...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A couple of lovely Self Storage reviews:

What I'm Reading

Fresh Fiction

Monday, January 15, 2007

My novel-in-progress is set during the 1966 Chicago Freedom Movement, when Martin Luther King, Jr. came to Chicago to organize the community in their demand for open housing. I have been immersing myself in Dr. King's words for months, continually finding inspiration in his example.

Here is the CODEPINK alert I wrote to mark his birthday. Be sure to click the link within the alert to the powerful MLK Flash movie--it's a stark reminder of how relevant his words still are today.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A couple of cool things--

The fabulous Lauren Cerand, who I enlisted to help get Self Storage out into the world, mentioned the book in this lovely piece about the presence of poetry in her life.

Speaking of poetry, thank you to everyone who came to my readings this week--I am very grateful for all of your enthusiasm and support! Which leads me to the other cool thing...

I am going to be named the January Arts Honoree by the Riverside Arts Council this coming Tuesday, the 16th, at the Riverside City Council meeting. I am so touched to be recognized by the community this way. If anyone would like to come to the award presentation, please show up the City Council Chambers (3900 Main St., Riverside) at 6:15pm on Tuesday. I'll try not to get too teary.

Self Storage comes out in 10 days!!! I just had some postcards printed--if you'd like me to send you a few to scatter at your favorite library, coffee house, etc., or if you'd just like one to grace your refrigerator door, send me an email at gaylebrandeis at gmail dot com with your address and how many you'd like, and I'll pop 'em in the post.

Thanks so much!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

CODEPINK was awarded this week's Wings of Justice award. We're soaring!

Thousands of birds in Australia, however, are not soaring--they're plummeting. Dead birds have been showering down on Esperance, Australia by the truckload. Sounds like it's time to write another sequel.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's such a treat to welcome my friend Cindy Bokma to my blog today. I first met Cindy over at Readerville, a lively forum for readers and writers. She was working on her first novel at the time, and reached out to me since we both lived in Southern California. We have been good friends ever since; I am so delighted to know Cindy—she is open hearted and funny and full of enthusiasm and ideas and ambition. Her novel, A Thousand Dollars for A Kiss just came out. The title comes from a Marilyn Monroe quote, "Hollywood is a place where they will pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul." It's a rollicking story about Barrett Greer, who is obsessed with Kat Savage, a pop star who bears a slight (okay, make that a hysterically dead-on) resemblance to Britney Spears. Barrett ends up getting more than she bargains for when she's pulled into Kat Savage's out of control life.

I was happy to be able to write a blurb for the back of the book:

A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss offers a priceless—and hilarious—look at what can lie beneath the glitz and glamour of celebrity. Cindy Bokma infuses this "be careful what you wish for" tale with great energy, humor, and sharp, witty social observation.
Cindy is no stranger to writing about celebrity. As Distressed Jeans, she penned the wildly popular, decadently funny, Conversations About Famous People blog, which received over 25,000 hits a day (including several from me--it was a very addictive site!) She now has turned her focus to writers and books, with her fabulous Conversations with Famous Writers blog. She also runs the beauty review site Hello Dollface. Both are brimming over with Cindy's wit and verve.

Cindy interviews so many writers on her blog--it's fun to turn the tables and interview her now:

--What inspires you?

I can get inspiration from almost anything or anyone. Sometimes it just takes a hint or clue to give me an idea that blossoms into something else. I love paging through magazines or books and letting my mind wander.

--How do you balance writing and motherhood? And, on a slightly
different note, how do you balance blogging and novel writing?

I’m disciplined when it comes to blogging because I have authors depending on me to post interviews and I can’t let them down. I’ve got beauty companies depending on me to write about their products on Hello Dollface. The novel writing gets done in bits and pieces but I write every day whether it be a blog entry or chapter or an email to a friend. I’m always creating something with words.

With my kids, I have to get them up in the morning and get them to school, I have to pick them up and help with homework and I have to feed them. There is no compromising their needs, its not so much balancing motherhood, it’s doing what must be done.

--You published your novel in a non-traditional way. Could you tell us
about your path toward publication? Any words for aspiring authors?

Well, Gayle it’s a long and windy path filled with heartache and frustration! I wrote two full-length novels and sent out many query letters. I lost count at two hundred, seriously. I made a lot of mistakes and learned from them, one being a seriously embarrassing blunder concerning a very incredible agent that I would walk on broken glass to work with.

At the time I was looking for an agent for A Thousand Dollars for a Kiss, I received an email from a small publisher asking if I wanted to review their books. I wrote back and said I am over committed with all the books I already have, but would they be interested reading in my novel? I submitted it and the publisher liked it enough to set me up with an editor. I signed a contract and less than a year later, the book is out.

Words for aspiring authors? Don’t forget to look to the small publishers or independent presses. Believe me, I would have loved nothing more than a large advance from a big publisher because I really want an Infiniti FX 35 and a trip to Paris along with granite countertops and distressed wood flooring. I would have also liked to sign with an awesome agent who would have held my hand and told me I’m wonderful every step of the way. That was not in the cards for me.

I felt pretty strongly about getting my novel into the world regardless of how it got there. It’s in book stores now and people who aren’t related to me are actually reading it! If I hadn’t jumped at the opportunity that was presented, I would probably be receiving those annoying postcards saying
Dear Author, your work is not what we are looking for right now, best of luck with someone else..

--If you, like Barrett, could be friends with a celebrity, who would
you choose and why?

It wouldn’t be anyone like Kat Savage, that’s for sure. I would be friends with someone like Reese Witherspoon or Julia Roberts or Kelly Ripa. Fellow moms who like to read, who have a good sense of humor and like to laugh and hang out and be mellow. Or else a celeb that went through the glamour and excitement of the 1950's Hollywood. I am intrigued with that era and want to learn more and hear all about life back then.

--Any New Year's resolutions?

I’ve had an idea for a book for a long time now my thoughts are just now coming together, writing the sequel to A Thousand Dollars. I tend to be obsessive about my novels before I even write them, thinking nonstop about dialogue and characters and plots. So my only resolution, besides trying to take up running to lose these extra ten pounds I’ve gained since hitting my mid-thirties (sob, sob) is to stop thinking so much and commit to writing the book!

--If you'd like to read more about the inspiration behind Cindy's sequel, check out this powerful post about Marilyn Monroe on her MySpace blog. With so much passion and connection behind it, I know the sequel is going to be incredible.

It's been a real pleasure for me to watch Cindy grow in confidence as a writer. I look forward to continuing to share her journey. I have no doubt her writing will bring her those granite countertops some day!

Thank you, Cindy, for all you do to support writers, and thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I have a couple of events coming up this week...

I'll be one of two featured readers at the Gneiss Poetry Series in Palm Desert Tuesday evening (click the link for details). I haven't given a straight poetry reading for a while, so that should be fun.

Wednesday, I'll be part of another Inlandia celebration at the Performance Loft in Redlands (click this link for the info), hosted by the fabulous Sholeh Wolpe.

Boing Boing introduced me to two artists responding to the war in Iraq: Jean-Christian Bourcart, who projects photos of mutilated and dead Iraqis on American houses, churches, supermarkets and parking lots, and Sgt. Brian Turner, an infantryman in Iraq, who just published a collection of poems, Here, Bullet. Both men expose the brutal truth of the war through their work. I think art can help us access that truth more viscerally than straight reporting ever could.

Bourcart says
It was a desperate gesture: my personal protest for the lack of interest for the non-american victims. I found the images on the web. Some American soldiers post their own pictures on a website. They would show a cut leg with the caption: “where's da rest of my shit?” Or a blown up head with the caption: “need a hair cut."

I could not help thinking of those images as some kind of restless ghosts that endlessly wander in the intermediate level of the web. I took care of them like a embalmer would; downloading, revamping, printing, rephotographiing, then projecting them as if I was looking for a place where they would rest in peace and at the same time haunt those who pretend not to know what was going on.
And here is a powerful example of Turner's work:

Here, Bullet
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta's opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.

I just finished the first draft of my new novel. I am kind of stunned. I never thought I'd get through this draft. I think I've struggled with writing this story more than any other--struggled with finding the time, the focus, struggled with connecting with the characters--but somehow it all came together. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but at least the story is complete. The revision process should be a lot of fun--I look forward to crafting this sketchy mass into something more alive.

My time at VCCA definitely helped me reconnect with my novel, but once I got home, I lost a lot of momentum. It's just been in the last week that the words really started to flow again, that I really started to feel engaged. I was up until 4 several nights this week, the novel full of steam.

One thing that helped, too: almost losing it all. A few days ago, I remembered that I hadn't backed up the manuscript for a while. I went to copy it into my USB drive, and suddenly the file disappeared, on both my hard drive, and the external disc. It simply disappeared. When I went back to Word and attempted to open it under recent files, I was told that the path was invalid. I thought it was gone forever. I had a physiological melt down--my heart was pounding a million miles an hour, and my hands and face fell asleep, and I could barely breathe. Hannah came into the room when I was on my knees on the floor, yelling and crying. Now that I was finally on a roll, finally almost done, the whole story had vanished! Hannah was very worried, but she kept a calm head and asked if I had checked "Search." I had not. And I did. And I found the file in some strange place--blessedly intact. The experience helped me appreciate the work I had done, even though much of it felt forced as I was writing.

I told Hannah she saved my life, and she told me that for that, I should dedicate the book to her. I think I will do just that.