Tag Archives: connecting

Connecting with Authors….

by Ellen Weeren

In just the past few days, I have spoken with 4 well known authors. Shaken their hands, asked them questions. Gotten super inspired. And I now have signed books from all of them. Yea!

And just how did I do that, you might wonder. (If you don’t wonder that, stop reading now. 😎  )

Well, I attended a panel discussion at Fall for the Book at George Mason. The discussion was focused on the definition of literary fiction v. genre fiction and if it’s even important to make the distinction between two any longer. The answer was basically that it’s nearly impossible to define literary fiction or appropriately capture its essence. Outstanding writing will be discussed without prompting from scholars and its words will be devoured – no matter what you call it.

My own definition/measuring stick will be that if a college professor picks up The Alligator Purse and discusses it in her classroom or if a book club can’t stop talking about it, then I will consider it Literary Fiction. (She says crossing fingers that one day that will happen.)

These three fantastico authors were at Fall for the Book…

Alma Katsu  – Alma inspired me because she was first published after the age of 50. There’s still hope for me! 😎 And her writing has gripped me – here is the start of her novel The Taker:

“Luke Findley’s breath hangs in the air, nearly a solid thing shaped like a frozen wasp’s nest, wrung of all its oxygen.”

That is some fabulous prose.

Louis Bayard is very simply a tremendous writer and a professor at George Washington Univ.

I also love the opening of The School of Night:

“Against all odds, against my own wishes, this is a love story. And, it began, of all places, at Alonzo Wax’s funeral.”

Now, I am curious as to what is going on.

and then there was Julianna Baggott. The movie rights to her latest novel Pure have already been purchased. She writes across genres and audiences. And, she speaks in poetry. The way she expressed her thoughts was beautiful. I can only imagine the prose in her stories will be scrumptious.

This is what Julianne said on her own blog about the panel discussion. She asked if it was worth her time – she sold fewer than ten books and her child was sick while she was gone. To that I say, “Thank you for coming. When you signed my book, you wrote Best of Luck With Your Writing, Imagine Wildly.” I don’t know if inspiring me was worth missing her sick child. But I was inspired and so were many others.

Mark Athitakis was also on the panel. He is a book critic and manages a guide to DC area readings. You can find that here. I hope one day that he will review my book.

Yes, you are right. That is only three authors. The fourth was one of my absolute faves – John Shors. He wrote the magical historical fiction about the Taj Mahal called  Beneath a Marble Sky. And, if you’ve been following for a while here, you might remember this review. His new book is called Temple of a Thousand Faces and you can preorder it here.

John was kind enough to call our writers group and share his insights on writing. Why did he do that? Because he is awesomesauce – that, and we asked him to.

It is amazing to me just how approachable some authors are. They share a unique understanding of how challenging this writing journey is. And they are eager to see other authors succeed. They want to encourage and enlighten them/us/me.

So, if you are thinking that you really missed out on some great opportunities – have no fear – American University is hosting a visiting writers series and you can get inspiration from some amazing authors. You’ll find the calendar here.

I didn’t see that coming………..

Yesterday I went to Target – for those of you who have never been to a Target store, let me explain. Target is a huge building/store with everything from toilet paper to milk in gallon jugs to stereos to diamond earrings (okay, maybe it’s cubic zirconium). It is overstocked with items that most of us could absolutely live our entire lives without. It is clean, well-lit, and very organized. It is also inexpensive by American standards. There is a parking lot out front that can accommodate probably 200 cars at least. The cars are parked so that no other car is blocked in and they are parked/driven by their owners. I have missed Target very much.

So I went to my little happy place called Target and I found a lot of things I was hoping to find. Yeah for me.

I got in line to check out and I met Om. He was the cash register clerk.

(By the by, here is another thing that is different about the U.S. and India and I keep forgetting to mention it – when you check out in a store in India – they hand write the receipt and add it themselves – that’s right – they hand write every item and then add it up – often in their head. In America, the clerks use a scanner to tally every item and the computer adds it all up – you get a printout from the computer as your receipt. Very different. And, yes, some stores in India have computer registers – but seriously, not many.)

So anyOm. I meet Om. He has an accent that I think I recognize and I ask him where he is originally from. India. I knew it.

Where? Please say Delhi.

New Delhi. Yahoo.

I tell him we live there, that we are home visiting, blah blah blah.

And we exchange notes on Delhi and thoughts on living as an expat away from home. I don’t think he really believed me at first and asked me a couple of questions to find out what I knew. It was kind of funny. But I must have passed the test.

He moved to the U.S. with teenagers in 1988. When his job was finished he moved back to India but his children (then in college) said no thank you. We like it here. WTH?

He found a way back to the U.S. to be with his family and he is now a citizen. He said it was hard with green cards/immigration and he struggled quite a bit. But he feels that good fortune brought him to the U.S. and he is proud to call it home. Congratulations Om!

Seriously, now I am bonding with my Indian brethren at Target? This has come full circle.

And, not for nothing, I bought pants from Bangledesh, which is right beside India – actually India is on both sides of Bangledesh. So they exported pants to the U.S., so that I could buy them, and ship them to India. Hysterical, right?