We Have Your Connie Moody

My latest sci-fi story, We Have Your Connie Moody, can be heard on Episode #18 of the sci-fi and speculative podcast Simultaneous Times. It’s my second story for them and features multiple voice actors, sound effects, and original music by Phog Masheen. I wasn’t sure how this unconventional story would translate to an audio drama, but I think it’s perfect. What a THRILL.

The story is constructed of online posts to private social networks and is a pointed look at suburban life through alien eyes. Many thanks to Jean-Paul L. Garnier and everyone who helped bring this to life. Click below, or find it streaming on all your favorite podcast players.

If you like what you hear, have a listen to my first story to appear on this podcast (Episode #14), From The Angels to Snakes, a feminist dystopia set in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree:

I am still new to writing in this genre and I’m excited by the possibilities, especially in terms of how it might frame smart and subtle social commentary. In the last year, I’ve thought a lot about my former misunderstandings about genre fiction and in fact what genre means for both writer and reader. On September 21, as part of the NEA BIG READ Morongo Basin, I will participate in an author panel discussion of science fiction and what defines literary genres. Local friends, I hope you’ll join us! Let’s expand our minds like the universe.

The Desert Split Open

At the end of 2018, as the Feckless Cunt Anthology promotional tour wound down, I thought about how much I wanted to continue that conversation‚ÄĒabout politics, feminism, the patriarchy, race, class, gender, binaries, queerness, oppression, everyday abuses, and the moments that change everything, forever. I hoped that others in my local community of Joshua Tree, California, wanted to talk about the things we can’t ignore. The Desert Split Open Mic was born. One evening a month, we meet in a cozy, funky lounge and share words and work in progress. We keep it simple: read your own poetry or prose–or the work of a favorite writer–8 minutes max. Our first meeting was in January 2019, and we met again in February, March, April, and May. We took off June, as we helped plan Joshua Tree Pride. We love seeing some of the same faces return each month, and there are always a few new faces, too, which is thrilling. The evening is shaped by the truths each reader brings, and there always seems to be a balance.

The Desert Split Open Mic allows me to continue in the role of facilitator of other writers’ words, which I have come to realize is a role I love. It also gives me motivation to keep writing my own new work in this vein. I am grateful to those who have or soon will publish work written for this open mic:

My satirical, imagined conversation, “What’s Your Problem with Joe Biden?” recently ran at The Weeklings, just days after Joe announced his 2020 candidacy.

My furious, feminist, flash rant, “Ingrown Rage,” is set to appear in Cliterature‘s forthcoming HAIR-themed issue.

On Saturday, June 29, I will perform “ID, please,” a piece about fluidity, contradiction, and queerness, at the Art Theatre of Long Beach, for OUT LOUD: A Cultural Evolution.

These pieces exist because The Desert Split Open Mic exists.

Joshua Tree goes quiet in the summer, thank goodness–or quieter, at least. We slow down, conserve energy in the staggering heat. Should we resume The Desert Split Open Mic in July? Or wait until September? We’re still considering. But, soon or very soon, we will meet again. Please join us, if you can. Everyone is welcome. We’re listening.

Some Small Good News.

The latest issue of Cholla Needles is out, and I’m thrilled to have 3 short pieces included. Buy it here for just 5 American dollars. Cholla Needles Press started earlier this year and has published books in addition to the magazine, which is now on Issue 12, so that gives you an idea of the literary energy here in Joshua Tree, CA. They hold monthly readings on an outdoor stage behind local bookstore Space Cowboy Books, drawing together a vibrant and welcoming crowd that includes many talented local writers and others who regularly come through to visit and read.

These are my first publications since moving out here. They were all written in this ecstatic creative flurry I’ve happily and gratefully surrendered to since I finally unpacked my boxes. There is something about this place: the expanse, the silence, the glorious sunshine.

My 3 pieces are: “About a Month In The Desert,” flash CNF about my experience moving to the desert from someplace very different; “HUMAN | NATURE,” micro prose inspired by the view from the mineral-encrusted “rainbow” terraces, or cliffs, of Thermopolis, WY; and a flash piece called “1 table, 2 chairs: ugly,” part of a series I’m working on called SWAP/MEET (virtual).

There is so much good work within these pages and I am honored to have mine included. And I’m thrilled to see my name against the brilliant blue sky that is making me a writer again, at last.

Born and Dying: My First Book’s First Year

cvrIt’s not like I had no idea what to expect. As a bookseller I¬†assisted with author events both swanky and huge (Pat Conroy at a Connecticut yacht-club brunch) and tiny and spare (local writers at¬†my used bookstore in Kingston, New York). As a book buyer¬†for the wholesaler Baker & Taylor, I bought everything from small press titles to kids books to some of the largest adult trade lines (all of which have since¬†folded into Random Penguin–yes, I¬†know they prefer the names reversed.) Book promotion is an enormous challenge at every level. Even backed by a corporate¬†publisher’s PR machine, many books struggle to attract interest. Every year, thousands of¬†excellent books are published and ignored. It’s an honor to reach any readers. And if you hear from a few who loved your book and got¬†what you were trying to say–well, let that wash over you, because that connection is everything. You get used to the non-responses from places you’d hoped to appear. You get used to leaving readings¬†with unsold books. To empty seats in the audience. To other books¬†getting more attention and praise. You stay grateful throughout.

So, to celebrate Not On Fire, Only Dying‘s first year, a multimedia look back. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: thank you for hearing me.

Pics or it didn’t happen: proof it wasn’t¬†a strange, beautiful dream with too much¬†public speaking:

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Original music composed by Naomi Hamby for Not On Fire, Only Dying:

“Marko’s Theme” was used for the book trailer. Here it is accompanied by the previously unreleased “Lola’s Theme.”

Speaking of the trailer:

Maybe you’d like another listen to Marko’s mixtape?

Select blog posts written through acceptance, publication, and promotion. Short and honest:

Thank you for hearing me. (12/31/14)
Cats get in the way. (1/23/15)
No big deal, but…MY BOOK HAS A COVER. *swoon* (3/26/15)
Blurbs and Preorders and THANK YOU. (5/4/15)
Presenting my book trailer! And insecurities… (7/3/15)
Brooklyn, beginning. (9/5/15)
Have I mentioned I have a new book out? (9/29/15)
But is it art? On book reviews. (10/18/15)
More than chocolate? (2/4/16)`
What do you want? (5/11/16)

Thank you to everyone who read¬†this book¬†(and to those who have¬†a copy and might yet¬†get around to reading it–no worries. Trust me, I know how that goes.¬†Maybe once in a while something small and unrelated will remind you of Not On Fire, Only Dying.

Happens to me all the time:

Thanks, I failed better.

This July I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, my first crack at this sort of writing “sprint.” I failed spectacularly.

The original NaNoWriMo, held every November, challenges writers to bang out a 50,000-word novel in thirty¬†days. The “Camp” allows¬†writers to set their own word count goal.¬†The time was¬†right: Finally, after countless outlines, isolated scenes, and false starts, I had a few thousand words of a new novel. I didn’t hate them. That weren’t¬†completely wrong. I knew¬†the¬†story I wanted to tell. I knew the¬†characters well enough to trust where they led me. I set¬†a modest goal: 15,500 words, just 500 a day. I had a lot going on, personally, but I figured I’d work around it. I was determined to try.

I did try, and I failed. fail-better-red-5251

I did not come close. Life interfered, as I feared it might. In all the ways that feed and distract a writer. I wrote a¬†fraction of what I’d hoped. I failed but I wrote 4,349 words. 4,349 new words building on those already written, pointing me more clearly in the direction this novel will take. 4,349 words that¬†brought my characters to life and sent me into fits of deep planning. 4,349 words is not much. Not enough. But it’s a lot more than I¬†wrote the month before.

If I want to finish this novel I’d better return to this manuscript every single day, give myself increasingly ambitious word count goals. I¬†know I can do it. I’ve completed and revised (and revised) two novels and rewritten¬†one word by word. That one, Not On Fire, Only Dying, was published last year.

I will return to it (what a relief!) when I appear at¬†the Decatur Book Festival‘s Emerging Writers Stage¬†at 2:20 PM¬†on Sun Sept 4. I’ll give a¬†very brief reading, followed by a signing. Not On Fire, Only Dying¬†will be available¬†for purchase¬†throughout the festival.

Now I should get back to work. I’ve got lots more failing to do.

What do you want?

9th birthday 1977Today I am the youngest I’ll ever be again. And I am older. Birthdays aren’t so¬†exciting anymore, are they? Not like when you’re nine, the age I am in this picture. What a great age to be–a kid, not a child. A BIG¬†kid. But not yet ten which is SO OLD, a DECADE!

We were in Jacksonville, Florida, with my dad who was there to¬†give a speech. He gave speeches all the time, but this one was special¬†because it was MY BIRTHDAY and some wonderful stranger made me this DOLL CAKE. I wish I could say I’m grinning because I’m taking a knife to the Patriarchy but that is genuine joy on my face because I LOVED DOLLS. They had everything to do with making me a writer. But on that day in 1977, it was just about that DRESS which I hope you realize is made of FROSTED CAKE.

And the doll¬†really was beautiful, you can’t see that in this picture. With big blue eyes like I wished I had.

cvrOn my ninth¬†birthday I knew what I wanted: that cake, that doll. Now?¬†Well, my characters are my dolls. And I can eat cake whenever I want although I try not to¬†because ugh¬†carbs and sugar and but f*ck it–it’s my birthday. I’ll never be this young again. What do I want, this birthday? The best gift I could receive¬†is¬†support for my novel, Not On Fire, Only Dying, which came out last fall. NOFOD¬†is the truest part of me, the most eloquent conversation I’ve ever managed. If you get it, you get me.

So tell me if you read it. Tell me what you liked about it (I will squirm with discomfort but I’ll love it and be grateful.) Ask me questions. Tell¬†other people about it. Review it. Show it off in your hands. If you have a blog, invite me to contribute. Mention it to your¬†book group or favorite bookstore. I’ll read from and discuss it, wherever I’m asked! You’ll make this birthday girl as happy as a DOLL CAKE once did. And that is VERY happy.

xSusan

5 WAYS HELP AUTHOR

 

 

NYC! Soon I will be in you.

NYC! Soon I will be in you, all too briefly. I’ll be reading with about 20 (!) other writers from¬†Mom Egg Review¬†in support of¬†The Museum of Motherhood.

 

WHEN: Wed, May 6, 7-9 PM.

WHERE: Barnes & Noble РUpper West Side, 2289 Broadway at 82nd St.

WHY: Come on, you need to ask? Mothers and motherhood. Real talk. Gorgeous words. And ME!

 

It’s part of a week-long B&N Bookfair. Click¬†HERE¬†for more info.¬†Even if you can’t attend the reading, you can benefit the MOM by using the¬†special code while shopping at¬†barnesandnoble.com.

 

I plan to read a tiny (really tiny) excerpt from my forthcoming novel Not on Fire, Only Dying. Lola is a mother who lost custody of 3 older children and now reports a newborn kidnapped. She has a long history of mental illness and self-medication, and no one’s seen or even heard of this baby, so people are suspicious and they have questions: Did Lola imagine this baby? Did she do something terrible? Even Lola herself and Marko, the man who loves her and her sole defender, aren’t sure.

 

Back¬†in 2012,¬†Mom Egg Review¬†was kind enough to publish¬†my flash¬†nonfiction piece, Our Bloody Secrets, which addressed¬†pregnancy loss.¬†But as Lola says at one point:¬†‚ÄúThere are lots of ways to lose a baby.”

 

Hope¬†you can come (yes, all of you). I love and miss NYC and I’m thrilled that I’ll there, however briefly.

flyer_bn_final

No big deal, but…MY BOOK HAS A COVER. *swoon*

Every step of this process, preparing my novel for its September¬†release by Twisted Road Publications, has been an EMOTIONAL EVENT: I have a publisher! I have an ISBN! There is an author photo! There is an ARC! And now‚ÄĒa gorgeous, evocative, perfect cover (blurbs to be added soon.)

It’s been a lot, and quickly. I am a Taurus, and whether my bullishness is in the stars or just my DNA, I find change difficult. I know that’s true for a lot of us. The intersection of defeat and hope was where I’d hung out awhile. This was new territory, this joy. This celebration! This YES, after so much no. After the encouraging rejections that all included the word unfortunately.

I‚Äôm getting it¬†together. I‚Äôm searching the manuscript for certain passages, starting to think about what I might read aloud. How I‚Äôll explain Marko and this story. How I will explain my reasons for writing it, beyond ‚ÄúThe characters insisted.‚ÄĚ

How I will explain myself.

Ah, now we’ve returned to strange lands. I feel the bull in me huff and puff and paw the ground. Adjusting to a new reality is challenging, even when it‚Äôs a dream come true. This is, after all, everything I wished for, all that time when¬†I was trying, failing, failing better. I am ready for this. I can‚Äôt wait to show you Not on Fire, Only Dying. I can‚Äôt wait to hear what you think. It‚Äôs the best thing I’ve ever written. I believe in this book, always have.

The last few months have been a trip: shock, exhilaration, gratitude, confidence, terror. All of it, all at once. This morning, however, I’m just fine. Because, no big deal, but‚Ķ

MY BOOK HAS A COVER. *swoon*

cvr