Category Archives: AIDS

Armchair BEA 2014: Some People Buy Shoes, I Buy Lecture Tickets.

ArmchairBEA 2014

 “Some people buy shoes, I buy lecture tickets.” ~ my Facebook status before a Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures event

We’re lucky here in Pittsburgh.  We’re an incredibly literary town, moreso than the average person might imagine. Among the literary offerings is a very popular lecture series called Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures that brings world-famous authors to town at a price that is affordable for all. This has quickly become one of my favorite ways to spend an evening.

When I heard that Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures would be hosting Colum McCann, who happens to be one of my all-time favorite writers, I bought my ticket A YEAR IN ADVANCE. Yes. An entire year. And then I upgraded my seat at the last minute, paying extra to sit in the second row (which was so worth it). And then I met him.

And then I died and went to heaven.

Melissa and Colum McCann

That was almost three months ago and I still haven’t written a coherent post about it because I am still grinning about how wonderful Colum McCann’s talk was here in Pittsburgh.  Thank God I took good notes.

I’ve been fortunate to meet several writers but I have to say that having the chance to talk with Colum McCann (even briefly) was extraordinary. And his lecture! If you ever have the opportunity to hear him, go. You won’t regret it.

Ann Patchett was another author I met through Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures. So incredibly gracious and kind. Her lecture was lovely, and when I got my books signed by her, I mentioned that I was interested in reading The Magician’s Assistant because I’m writing a novel about the AIDS epidemic.

“Oh, you want to read Borrowed Time by Paul Monette,” Ann Patchett says to me, scribbling down the title on the Post-It note with my name that marked the place for her to sign my book. “You need to read this.”

Well, when Ann Patchett gives you a book recommendation, you listen. At least I do.  (Guess what book I’m currently reading?)

(Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures has an awesome lineup for next season. James McBride, Simon Winchester, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jesmyn Ward, and Jodi Picoult are just a few of the authors who will be appearing.)

Rachel Renee Russell and daughters

Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures has author events for kids, too. (As a child, I would have been over the moon. To be my daughter’s age – 12 – and meeting my favorite writers?! Are you kidding me??!!) I’ve taken my daughter to meet Rachel Renee Russell, author of the Dork Diaries series. Ms. Russell’s daughters help her co-write and illustrate her books and they were all absolutely lovely.  (This was a crazy book-signing … they each signed every kid’s book, and there were hundreds of kids! Some people were in line for nearly 4 hours.)

I would also be remiss without mentioning Rachel Simon (The Story of Beautiful Girl) and Beth Kephart. I consider each of them friends now, but I started out as a regular fan. (OK, maybe a little bit on the groupie side.) I met Rachel in 1990 when I attended a writing conference and she was the keynote speaker. She had just published a short story collection called Little Nightmares, Little Dreams and was regularly writing columns in The Philadelphia Inquirer. I admired her writing and soaked up any bit of advice and knowledge I could get from her – and when I had the chance to take a class with her, I was thrilled.

There are other authors I’m forgetting, but I’ll leave you with this photo of me and Beth Kephart from Book Expo America in 2010 (actually, it’s the Book Blogger Convention). I look like I am ready to collapse; that day, I left my house at 3:30 a.m. to catch a train to New York City (chances are, Beth did too) and I was fading fast when this photo was taken. Beth, on the other hand, looks vibrant and radiant in her fuschia, ready to take New York by storm, as she always does.

Book Blogger Convention (38)

Now it’s your turn: which authors have taken your life by storm?

 

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The Sunday Salon: This Post is Brought To You By the Letter “B”

The Sunday Salon

OK, so this is kind of a cool thing.

As of yesterday afternoon, I had four books going at the same time and – this is from my Goodreads profile – they all begin with B.

Check this out:

(Yes, I hear you sounding the Literary Nerd Alert Alarm. And …y’know, I don’t really care.)

It’s simply coincidental that the bookish stars aligned this way. Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergerian is the audio book I turned to yesterday after a few DNFs that I couldn’t get into (Atonement by Ian McEwan; Tracks by Louise Erdrich, the latter of which I think is a matter of not being the right format – audio – for that novel). I have much respect and admiration for John Elder Robison, and this memoir is one of the best books about autism and Asperger’s that I’ve ever read. I’ll be recommending this to others, I’m sure.

Blown Sideways Through LifeBlown Sideways Through Life, Claudia Shear’s memoir-turned-one-woman-show about the 64 jobs she’s had (and, mostly, been fired from) was recommended to me by my friend Keith. I can understand why he thought I would like this one – which I did, somewhat, to a degree. I think there’s a timing issue with this book, though; while it’s easy to relate to someone who has worked menial jobs in his or her life, it’s more difficult in this economy to muster up sympathy for someone who casts any job aside, much less 64 of them. Now, mind you, this was written in 1995, which was a whole different world back then.

Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition is a bedtime reading book. It’s on my night table, for those evenings when I am too tired to read more than a poem.  This collection is perfect for that purpose because, frankly, most of the poems are forgettable.

Borrowed TimeBorrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir is the book that I’ll be spending the most time with this weekend. I just started it last night, and it is so well written, so gorgeous, and so very sad. Ann Patchett recommended this to me (yes, that Ann Patchett!) and … well, when Ann Patchett gives you a book recommendation, you kind of tend to listen. I’m glad I did.

(That is a whole ‘nuther post.)

Book Expo America and the BEA Bloggers Conference

So, while everything may have aligned perfectly in my reading life, that isn’t the case for two other “B” words this week – which would be Book Expo America (BEA) and, of course, the BEA Bloggers Conference. I had been quietly crunching the numbers, trying every which way to make this possible, but it wasn’t in the cards this year … again.

ArmchairBEA 2014

Design by Amber of Shelf Notes.

I’ll miss seeing all my book blogger friends, of course, but I CANNOT WAIT to participate in Armchair BEA again.  If you haven’t signed up, this is shaping up to be the best year ever. I’m hoping to use part of this long weekend to prep my posts for this week.

To be honest, I’m trying to stay somewhat unplugged during this long weekend, with the exception of writing/scheduling some posts and catching up on blogs. I’ve been overwhelmed and overextended. I have over-promised and under-delivered, not so much on the work front (I don’t think) but in other areas.

My remedy is to spend as much time on the deck (where I am, currently, in the warm sun, writing this) with words, both my own and those of other people’s. I went to church this morning for the first time in months. I need to take a walk or two. A friend from out of town will be in the city, and tomorrow we may visit the art museum (there’s a new photography exhibit).

So, yes, there are many words beginning with “B” this weekend. Books. Blogging. Armchair BEA. (OK, close enough.)

And at least one more, that has nothing to do with any of those.

Bravery.

In memory and in honor of all who served, thank you doesn’t seem like enough.

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Book Review: Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan
Alfred A. Knopf
2013
200 pages

I am in love with Two Boys Kissing.

And that probably means that David Levithan will be getting added to my list of literary crushes because if this is any indication of how this guy writes, then I need more – even though I’m in utter and complete awe of how he does this.

Two Boys Kissing grabs you at the title and with that gorgeous in-your-face cover picture. You know what this is going to be about – but you’re only partially right. Because while you expect this to be about two teenage boys (Craig and Harry) and their complicated relationship with each other, you don’t expect them to be observed (as they publicly try to break the world’s record for the longest kiss) … by anonymous, once-closeted voices from a past and an era defined by an epidemic that once turned thousands of young men like Craig and Harry into instant ghosts.

“There is a nearly perfect balance between the past and the future. As we become the distant past, you become a future few of us would have imagined.” (pg. 1)

Imagine, indeed.

David Levithan’s writing in this young adult novel is powerful, making this a book that all teenagers need to read. It won’t be, however; most likely, Two Boys Kissing is going to become one of the most challenged books in towns and cities across the country, probably in the very types of communities that most need to read it. 

“Two boys kissing. You know what this means. 

For us, it was such a secret gesture. Secret because we were afraid. Secret because we were ashamed. Secret because it was a story that nobody was telling. 

But what power it had.. Whether we cloaked it in the guise of You be the boy and I’ll be the girl, or whether we defiantly called it by its name, when we kissed, we knew how powerful it was. Our kisses were seismic. When seen by the wrong person, they could destroy us. When shared with the right person, they had the power of confirmation, the force of destiny. 

If you put enough closets together, you have enough space for a room. If you put enough rooms together, you have space for a house. If you put enough houses together, you have space for a town, then a city, then a nation, then a world.” (pg. 61)

This is so very much more than just “a gay novel.” In it’s own way, it’s groundbreaking on a level rarely seen. This is a novel that speaks to the very truth about what it means to be human, to be vulnerable, to be your own true self.

It is the holiday season. Some of us may be seeing people we don’t usually see during other times of the year and sometimes, conversations happen. Truths have a way of coming out during these emotional times. Maybe you’ll be hearing them. Maybe you’ll be speaking them.

Either way, remember this book.

“The first sentence of the truth is always the hardest. Each of us had a first sentence, and most of us found the strength to say it out loud to someone who deserved to hear it. What we hoped, and what we found, was that the second sentence of the truth is always easier than the first, and the third sentence is even easier than that. Suddenly you are speaking the truth in paragraphs, in pages. The fear, the nervousness, is still there, but it is joined by a new confidence. All along, you’ve used the first sentence as a lock. But now you find that it’s the key.” (pg. 54)

Highly recommended. 5 stars out of 5

 

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Book Review: Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS, by Elton John

Love Is the CureLove is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS
by Elton John
Little, Brown and Company
2012
243 pages

Elton John is a storyteller. Through his songs, he gives us words that touch us and move us to tears.

A lot of times, those songs are about love. And in Love is the Cure, he talks about how the world needs more of it – particularly in regard to people living with HIV/AIDS.

“But what makes AIDS so frightening, so very lethal, is that it takes advantage of more than our biological weaknesses. It takes advantage of our social weaknesses. Indeed, what is truly killing tens of thousands of people in America and millions of people around the world is not just a virulent contagion but a lack of human compassion – a lack of love – for those who are living with HIV/AIDS. 

“AIDS might as well stand for ‘Appalling Indifference to the Disenfranchised in Society.'” 

One of the points that Elton John makes in his memoir is that, in many significant ways, people with AIDS aren’t much better off today than in the mid-1980s when fear accompanied what was the beginning of a global epidemic. Sure, there have been medical triumphs with drugs that can extend patients’ lives, and research has brought about many advances, but the stigma and indifference toward people with AIDS still remain solidly in place 30 years later.

For proof, all one needs to do is look at Washington, D.C. There, more than 3% of the population is HIV-positive, making “the city’s AIDS epidemic worse than that of many nations in West Africa” (pg. 88) and with “roughly the same rate of infection as countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, and Congo.” (pg. 89) This is appalling, in the nation’s capitol.

Love is the Cure gives its reader a history of the AIDS epidemic and a reminder of those who were lost to the disease in the early days. In particular, Elton writes poignantly about his friendship with Ryan White and his family, and the impact that the teen made on him. During those years, Elton was beginning to spin out of control with addictions to cocaine and food, and it was only until after Ryan passed away that Elton was able to use his fame and connections to do something positive about the AIDS epidemic that was killing so many of his friends.

We learn about the creation of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and their business model. You’d think that a celebrity foundation with this kind of name recognition would have dozens of staff members, but that’s not the case with EJAF. Most of my career has been spent in development offices of 3-5 people (if that!) and I was surprised – to put it mildly – that Elton’s foundation has about the same.

Coming full circle, he also writes about what it will take to cure AIDS. Yes, love and compassion are surely the key. But so is government entities working together with foundations, corporations, community leaders, civic groups, and individuals. Love Is the Cure talks statistics and what needs to happen among all these organizations to rein in AIDS and end this plague – starting with creating a stronger sense of love and compassion.

Maybe that’s wishful thinking. Maybe it’s possible.

But given that AIDS has ended the lives of so many – and keeps insisting on taking even more – maybe we need to try.

“I believe in love, it’s all we got
Love has no boundaries, costs nothing to touch
War makes money, cancer sleeps
Curled up in my father and that means something to me
Churches and dictators, politics and papers
Everything crumbles sooner or later
But love, I believe in love

I believe in love, it’s all we got
Love has no boundaries, no borders to cross
Love is simple, hate breeds
Those who think difference is the child of disease
Father and son make love and guns
Families together kill someone
Without love, I believe in love

Without love I wouldn’t believe
In anything that lives and breathes
Without love I’d have no anger
I wouldn’t believe in the right to stand here
Without love I wouldn’t believe
I couldn’t believe in you
And I wouldn’t believe in me
Without love

I believe in love
I believe in love
I believe in love.”

“Believe” ~ Elton John

World AIDS Day. December 1. December 1 is World AIDS Day, with the 2013 theme of “Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS Free Generation.” Visit aids.gov for ways on how to take action.

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Fiction + Nonfiction = A Perfect Match for Nonfiction November

Nonfiction November 2013

When I heard about Nonfiction November, I knew I wanted to participate. This is absolutely right up my alley, as I love nonfiction books and the bloggers who are behind this project are two of my favorites. (That would be Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness and Lu from Regular Rumination.)

I missed participating in the first two weeks of November, but I’m jumping in at Week Three, with the discussion topic of recommending a nonfiction book with a fiction book.

Two books that immediately came to mind: And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic, by Randy Shilts along with Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.

And the Band Played OnTwo Boys Kissing

I believe that the AIDS epidemic is such an important period of time for people to read about and understand – especially people who didn’t live through the fear and the stigma that defined so much of the 1980s and beyond. (That’s one of the main reasons why I’ve set my own still-in-progress YA novel in that era.)

From my review of And the Band Played On (I don’t have a review of Two Boys Kissing yet, although I thought it was phenomenal):

“It’s more than a bit disconcerting reading And the Band Played On thirty years hence. It’s like going back to the future. It’s like reading a mystery novel where you know the clues – and you just want to reach into the pages and stop people and time in their very tracks, to shake them, to warn them about what’s ahead. Because we know – the good and the bad. Things are so different now and we know so much now that we didn’t know then, especially in the very early days, which are really, really tough to read about.

In his majestic young adult novel Two Boys Kissing, David Levithan does what I hypothetically wanted to do with And the Band Played On: reach into the pages of the past and pay it forward bigtime into the future. Teenagers Craig and Harry are trying to set a world’s record for the longest kiss. Narrating their story are anonymous, once-closeted, now-bemused voices from a past and an era defined by an epidemic that turned young men like Craig and Harry into instant ghosts.

“There is a nearly perfect balance between the past and the future. As we become the distant past, you become a future few of us would have imagined.” (pg. 1)

Imagine, indeed.

You can see more Fiction-Nonfiction Book Pairings at the Nonfiction November link at Regular Rumination

What are some of your favorite Fiction-Nonfiction book pairings?

 

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The Sunday Salon: A Rollercoaster Reading Week

The Sunday Salon

Oh, I was on such a roll there with my reading, friends. We’re talking three 5-star reads in a row, which is unusual to begin with, but is somehow even more delicious when it happens during these months, isn’t it? 

I mean, when you fall into this kind of literary luck, you’re unstoppable. You feel like you can take on every book in your house, on your Kindle, in the largest library in western Pennsylvania. Everything’s a potential 5 star hit so bring it all; you can handle it; you’re reading into the night, nonstop, a book a day almost, becoming a literary junkie in search of just one more 5 star fix to support your habit.

Or … maybe that’s just me?

I do tend to overdo things sometimes.

Anyway, that certainly described me recently with these:

In Persuasion Nation The Virgin Cure The Grievers

My 5-star reads were In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders; The Virgin Cure, by Ami McKay (reviewed here), and The Grievers, by Philadelphia-based author Marc Schuster. Amazing, all of them.

Like I said, I was on a roll.

Until I wasn’t.

Suddenly, like a rollercoaster ride, came the plummet this week with two DNFs in a row.

Dirt

Like the temperatures outside, Dirt  by David Vann was a little too hot to handle. I mean, I’m no prude and I don’t offend easily in the least, but there was something about this one that was … too much. I can’t quite categorize it, but day-umn, THIS is one dysfunctional, screwed up family. Get thee into some therapy, stat.

The Silver StarSo what do I do? Go onto another dysfunctional family, of course. This time, it was the Holloways, in The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls.

Now, I have the utmost respect for Ms. Walls and her courage in sharing her personal family story through her memoir, The Glass Castle and novel-based-on-a-true-story, Half Broke Horses. I loved both books. (See my review of Half Broke Horses here.) The problem with The Silver Star (at least for me) is that the characters felt like I already knew them, right down to the names. The main character’s name is even JEAN, but is called Bean because she’s tall and thin. The plot felt predictable, too.

I’m happy to report that the rollercoaster is headed back up – at least as far as my reading goes.

The Illusion of Separateness Love Is the Cure The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets

The Illusion of Separateness has been getting a lot of buzz on the blogs, and with good reason. I was lucky to get a copy of this one for a potential freelance review with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, so I spent some time this weekend reading this and working on the review. (A preview: I really liked this one a lot!) The idea that we’re all interconnected isn’t a new one, but I love how Simon Van Booy brings this theme to life in this novel.

I’m currently reading Elton John’s memoir, Love Is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS. This isn’t so much a memoir of Elton’s life, but rather more of a reflection and a statement of what it’s going to take to end the AIDS epidemic worldwide. He talks in detail about his life-changing friendship with Ryan White and how his ordeal helped inspire the Elton John AIDS Foundation as well as help Elton himself beat his drug and food addictions. It’s also a sobering look at how much work there is still to do.

And The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is a new addition to the lineup, as the audiobook that replaces The Silver Star. I have a little more driving than usual in my future this week – my boy JUST got into a hard-to-get into special needs bicycle-riding camp at the very last minute! so excited for this! – so between that and the school camp he and Betty are in during the mornings, I’ll be driving up and down Pittsburgh’s famed rollercoaster-like hills quite a bit this week.

So, final tally of books for this past week: 4 winners (and soon to be a 5th, with the Elton book) and two DNFs. 

Not a bad ride at all.

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Beads of Gratitude

Beads of gratitude

Since Tuesday, I’ve been trying to find just the right words to tell you about Words in Process, the reading of my forthcoming novel and discussion of blogging that I did on June 18 at Allegory Gallery in Ligonier.

But, first. A few beads of gratitude.

So many people helped make the evening happen and made this such a wonderful one for me. I owe a great deal of thanks to Amy Yanity for inviting me to be part of this writers series. Amy’s one of my newest friends who somehow feels like a kindred spirit (together, our collective ghost radars are probably turbo-charged). Our daughters, present at the reading, resembled twins and seemed to feel the same way. 

Amy introducing me

Amy Yanity (left) introducing me.

Allegory GalleryAnd my thanks also to Andrew Thornton, an incredible and breathtaking talent who celebrates art in all forms through his craft as well as through his shop, Allegory Gallery. Described as “one part bead shop, one part jewelry boutique, one part fine art gallery, and one part gift shop,” from the moment Andrew welcomed us, I knew this was a place alive with art reverberating from every corner. Ligonier is so, so lucky to have him.

Hydrangea cupcakes

And to my seems-like-a-brother friend, Keith Campbell, for the introduction to Amy and the steadfast belief in my work (all of it), and the incredible hydrangea cupcakes he made (red velvet cupcakes with chocolate liqueur!) in celebration of this story. Indulge me for a moment on the meaning of the hydrangea, so apropos here, from Teleflora.com: “…a bouquet of hydrangea expresses the giver’s gratefulness for the recipient’s understanding. Still others suggest it represents anything that’s sincerely heartfelt.” That is my friend Keith, precisely.

It is true, and especially so in these times, that we get by with a little help from our friends.

So, then.

Imagine the most cliched, stormy weather possible and that’s what we encountered (me, The Husband, and both kids) on a tiny rural road headed toward Ligonier. It was monsoon-like and all I kept thinking was, “This is the glamorous life of being a writer: the possibility of being flooded in one’s car with your entire immediate family on the way to your first-ever reading.” To paraphrase the magnificant Manilow, I honestly don’t know how we made it through the rain. 

Allegory chalkboardBut, made it through we did, and we arrived in Ligonier – which, if you’ve never been, is quite a charming town. And haunted in spots. Before the event, Amy and I stood outside the gallery tracking ghosts with her Ghost Radar app on her phone. Given that my reading was part of my novel, which is set in 1988 during the AIDS epidemic and is inspired by my late uncle, I was a little freaked when THE FIRST LETTERS OF MY UNCLE’S NAME appeared on the Ghost Tracker.

Or maybe that was just a coincidence.

I started my remarks by discussing how, as a writer, blogging has become such an important part of my life. I spoke about the changes in publishing and, regardless of whether one pursues self-publication or traditional publication, the onus is on us as writers to market and promote our work.

“While Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are all important channels, I believe that blogging offers a distinct advantage for writers,” I said, namely that it offers a built-in audience that trusts you and knows your voice and your style. The book blogging community in particular was a natural fit; these are obviously readers and the opportunities abound for cultivating an audience through features such as The Sunday Salon and events like the 24 Hour Readathons (and so much more).

Melissa talking 2

Melissa talking

I spoke about how and why I started my blog, the evolution of it, and how I was frustrated with my creative-writing endeavors when I joined NaNoWriMo in November 2009. I posted some excerpts of what I was writing on the blog, I said, and was astounded when people responded with “I really like that,” and “When can we read more?”

“Instant gratification is a writer’s best friend,” I said, “and blogging gives that to you as an author.”

Melissa talking 3

I read most of the first chapter of the novel, which was received well, and then I also demonstrated how I wrote a blog post about marriage equality and related that to a family experience AND an excerpt of the novel.

Melissa talking 4

From my vantage point, it seemed like I was trying to give the small audience everything I knew about writing and blogging, which is impossible, but I wanted to make sure they felt as if the evening and their time was worthwhile. And although I’d rehearsed my remarks to some extent, I’m somewhat of a go-with-the-flow speaker … which is hard when you’re not used to cameras flashing and a reporter taking notes.

(Did you get that? A REPORTER. Taking NOTES. About what I had to say about blogging and quotes from my little novel-still-in-progress about one family dealing with AIDS. It was somewhat surreal, to be honest.)

Refreshments

We had a Q and A session (people actually asked questions!) and cupcakes and wine, and admired more of the beadwork, then it was time for the open mic portion of the evening where the audience members were invited to share portions of their writing. I love hearing new writers, and trust me when I say there is some  great writing talent nestled in and around Ligonier. I heard and saw it for myself.

Amy Yanity reading her poetry.

Amy Yanity.

Tom Beck reading one of his stories.

Tom Beck

We heard two poignant poems from Amy followed by Thomas Beck‘s story with Charlie Brown (yes, the Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame) as a muse.

Joe Stierheim reads a memorable story, set in Appalachia, about a girl with blue eyes.

Joe Stierheim

Suzannah Paul, who writes the blog, "The Smitten Word," reads us a post on her phone.

Suzannah Paul

Joe Stierheim shared a touching story set in Appalachia about a girl with memorable blue eyes (he has quite a way of delivering the spoken word, that  Joe). I thought his story was going to end differently – he had me breathless for several moments. And Suzannah Paul of The Smitten Word brought us with her to the supermarket with a hilarious and all-too-familiar blog post. (I bonded instantly with Suzannah; we’re both reviewers with TLC Book Tours!)

What was interesting about this was that all the writers who were there – at least the ones who read their work – have blogs! The links above take you there … please do check them out and show them some love.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge The Husband and kids. It meant so, so much to have them there with me. The Husband had had a long, tough day at work and driving nearly 1.5 hours each way to Ligonier was probably not his preferred way to unwind after his first day back from vacation. It was also the first time that The Husband was hearing any of the novel. He has always been my biggest support, through this story (the writing of it and the real-life version that he lived through with me) and … well, just everything.

And the kids were just incredibly well-behaved. Betty was the first one to come up to me with a hug and kiss after the reading, and Boo was so attentive while everyone else read. I was so proud of them.

One of the questions during the Q and A session was about the potential of adversity that one might open oneself up to, given the subject of the novel. Another (from The Husband, ironically), was about how to distance yourself emotionally from the sensitivity of the story.

I answered that by saying that this is a story I believe in, wholeheartedly, that I feel needs to be told. Our family’s story is that of so many families during the mid-80s. Some of the voices are silenced now and are unable to tell about that time.

Some, like mine, with the help of some new friends, are just beginning to be heard.

Many thanks again to Amy, Andrew, Keith, Cami, and all who attended. Thank you for listening, for being open-minded and caring. I will remember this night, with gratitude and appreciation, for always.

Read Andrew’s recap of the event on his blog: The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton: Words in Process at Allegory Gallery 

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