Picture an outdoor science festival on the UNC campus, complete with exhibits in tents, dancing cheerleaders, and a slightly menacing doggie robot. Yes, a total nerdfest. And such a blustery day that exhibitors held onto their tent poles to keep their booths from flying off. The mini-experiments for kids were big fun for adults too. What I didn’t expect was three exhibits directly related to books I’ve written or want to write.
- There was a “Health At Every Size” exhibit run by a young woman about to graduate as an epidemiologist. She had a quiz about body size that took all of two seconds because that stuff is my jam. Do diets work? No. Does body fat necessarily shorten your life span? No. I am keen to write an expose of the Diet Industrial Complex and hope this rising star epidemiologist will be a consultant on that one.
- There was an exhibit about green roofs, like the ones in my novel, Brilliant Charming Bastard. I explained my premise to the young women running the booth: Three women scientists discover they are dating the same lying dilettante who is stealing their ideas for his invention—a green roof that generates oxygen and electricity. The women in the booth were not convinced that three women dating the same cheater was fiction. But they loved the premise, wanted to learn how photosynthesis can generate electricity, and took my card so they could buy the book.
- And there was an exhibit about a little-known library at UNC that specializes in just the kind of historical information I need for my novel-in-progress, Vampires of a Certain Age.
Such synchronicity. Karmic pinball broke my way that day.
And speaking of festivals, the North Carolina Writers Network Spring Conference was just as inspiring. A workshop called “Ten Reasons Why Screenplays Fail” gave me great ideas for reorganizing the novel I’m editing (yes, cross-genre thinking is a thing). And at Slush Pile, I got to sit in the audience and hear a page from my upcoming novel read aloud and then evaluated by a panel of editors. Here’s a snippet from the page:
She smelled the wolf and the wolf could smell her. He rattled the door against the latch. She sat with her back against the door to keep him out. And he, on the other side, snuffled through the gap between door and frame, with his ragged breath and his hunger. Her body was a better prize than the vermin in the woods.
“The wolf is real,” said one editor. “I like this.” And folks in the audience asked for my card, wanted to buy my published novel. “If it’s anything like the quality of the reading,” one said, “it will be great.”
Motivating and downright thrilling. If you’re a writer and not yet involved in a local writing organization, I urge you to sign up. Whether it’s the Women Fiction Writers Association, or the National Association of Memoir Writers, or your local chapter of National Novel Writers Month, gathering with other writers is incredibly energizing.
April was also Appendix Month. No, I don’t mean the pages at the back of your book. I mean that both my daughter and my niece had appendectomies. I spent a chunk of April on the opposite coast helping my daughter recover, and was so glad to be there for her. I won’t achieve my goal of completing edits on my novel during the great virtual Spring festival of Camp Nano, but that's OK. Some things even more important (and rewarding) than writing. And coming from me, that’s quite an admission.
I’m looking forward to May, to warm weather and finishing my edits, to exploring ways to bring you more classes, to continuing our series of guest blogs on the tenth of each month (ping me if interested in writing for us). For all its perils, the world is full of possibilities, from the blooming lavender in the front yard to the blooming stories we renegade women are writing.
And so, my friends and fellow writers, do keep the pen moving (or the keys clicking), even as Spring weather (and Spring festivals) beckon. Your story is important—almost as important as living your life.