Sunday, June 13, 2010

ALA Your Way to Success!

In a couple of weeks, ALA, The American Library Association, is coming to Washington, D. C. for their Annual Wowser Summer Convention. It's not held here every year, so since it is fairly close to where I live and doesn't require a naked airport x-ray to get to, I am going to go.

Spend quality time on the metro. Flit about the humongous convention center. Try not to panic amid a gazillion stampeding people, all charging in different directions toward . . . something. (What are they charging toward? I don't know. I never know!) Act nonchalant while angling for arcs (advance reader's copies) of hot books not yet released. Which will mostly be a fail. Dive bomb for totally cool book bags. Which will mostly be a fail. A fail not just because of my lousy acquisition skills (which are legend) but because I have heard that not as many goodies will be available this year, due to the recession. Sigh . . .

Through it all, though neither a librarian nor a popular, beloved author, I will try to look like I "belong." Which will mostly be a fail. So, why is it that almost everything I attend related to books ends up making me feel like an abject failure? Hmm . . . [Taps fingers on counter.]

I think it's the crowd.

I am not a crowd person. Mostly, I see a bunch of people and I panic, though I try to do so politely. Instead of clawing my way over people blocking my exit, I say, "Excuse me." "Sorry." "Excuse me." "Sorry." This is not because I am especially noble or even polite. No. My mama did teach me to be nice, but I am not always nice. Mostly, if I clawed my way out, I'd be embarrassed by the aftermath, all the bodies strewn across the floor, flopping about and spurting blood. If I paused at the exit, turning around to look at the carnage, I would feel morally obligated to help with the clean up. And the blood might tempt me. I might turn into a vampire. Which would mean more blood and more clean up. And since I hate to clean, and don't want to lug bleach and Bon Ami around the convention center, I have to be careful. As my mama said, one thing leads to another.

I do hope to say hello to some online writing acquaintances, most of whom I have never met in person. If I have not yet turned into a vampire it will be a welcome, pleasant experience--they'll leave unbloodied and I can leave the bleach at home. I will also hear the speeches by the winners of the Printz and the Newbery awards, both of whom fall into the same category as above--online, distant writing acquaintances. If I have turned into a vampire at that point (probably, given the odds) I will restrain myself , keeping my fangs retracted, so as to not spoil their moment.

I will get home late. I will ride the metro back out to the far suburbs, to the very end of the line, with only a few other weary travelers accompanying me through the darkness. By then a full-blown vampire, I will nonetheless resist the urge to bite. Bigger things are at work in the night than one lonely vampire. Clean up, for instance.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Struggle #1:

I have begun the formal dig on my office, working down through the upper layer of detritus. (The upperdetritus periodous.) This is going to take a while. One of my chief challenges is PROCRASTINATION. (I put that in caps to make sure I got the message.) Which means, in so many aspects of my life, things pile up and then I have to unpile them. Which is time-consuming and irritating and frustrating. The one area of my life in which procrastination doesn't seem to happen is my writing. With my writing, I am merely slow. So, by habit or nature, I move as the slug moves, though without quite so much slime.

A break to excavate is good though, as I ponder a major change to one manuscript, and play in my head with something new. Plus, who knows what I'll find buried? Maybe some money!

Struggle #2:

Uncovered in the ongoing excavation was a list of the winners of this years Los Angeles Times Book Award. Pictured were the smiling, handsome faces of some of the winners. "Where's my picture?" I wondered. Then I remembered I hadn't won anything, ever, and in fact haven't published a book for, let's see, three years. In the young adult world, that is an eon. The standard is a new vampire novel every three months. But, as I have tried to explain to publishers and my legion of fan (I'm pretty sure I've only got one) some of us were born poky and never made any vampire friends (as they say, write what you know.) I think to be friends with a vampire you'd pretty much have to be a fast mover, for those times when the fangs come out. So, it follows that I am eliminated as the author of speedy vampire novels.

Struggle #3:

Cable. I used to have Basic Limited cable, which means I got the broadcast stations and the PBS stations and the local county channels, plus lots of Spanish language channels. A year ago I got an advertised deal, which means for a bitty bit more money (okay, a little more than a bitty, but doable) I got lots more channels, though I still wasn't in the big leagues--no HBO for me. Now the deal is over and I must pull the plug or pull more money each month out of my ever shrinking wallet.

This is the thing. In the past I wouldn't have thought twice. Ditch the channels, I'd have said, without too much thought or trouble. Now, though . . . The thought of not getting a fix of Law & Order, or Criminal Minds, or NCIS, or any of the other crazy programs I've grown to love, well . . . Kathleen ain't happy. I'd miss the stories. The characters. Okay, yes, I know they aren't real, but . . . but . . . stories and characters are why I'm here on planet Earth. I've tried to think of a few other reasons, but other than dark chocolate, I always come up empty.

So, what to do. (Taps fingers on counter.) What to do . . .

Struggle #4

I have to make dinner tonight. I hate making dinner. Why do I have to make dinner? Where is the justice?