Ahead By a Century

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I discovered the Tragically Hip in 2005, when I was working at a tiny sandwich shop in Cobleskill.  The owner, who’s name I have long forgotten, would put on In Between Evolution.  It was magic. It was like love.  I asked her to burn me a copy, because I was so poor from the lousy wages she paid that I could barely afford rent on the apartment I shared with my sister, let alone a CD.  She obliged, and that album became the soundtrack to one last hometown summer and of the strange year in New York that would eventually inspire The Big Rewind.

I still think of a late-night run along the promenade in Brooklyn when I hear “Goodnight Josephine.”  I played “It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night” on my honeymoon as we drove through Tennessee.  And “In View” was the first song I played for Jason when we got back together.

And last night, my love for The Hip was rekindled as they performed for three hours in their final concert, broadcast live on the CBC. And not final as in “We’ll get back together in five years and tour again and you’ll pay big money to see it, suckers.”  Final as in no more, the end, forever, because Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer at age 52.

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Tear Down To The Bones

scissors_PNG1When I was a teenager, I LOVED buying thrift-store clothes and altering them.  (Like everything I did, I did this before it was cool.  What can I say? I’m a trend-setter).  I was a teen in the age on JNCOs and pointy-toe stiletto boots, and a goth girl, to boot.  I had to make due with what I had, but as a result, I had some amazingly cool clothes.

And although my days of wearing cigarette-cut pants trimmed with neon purple boas are over, the ability to tear something down and salvage the good pieces again is really coming in handy on my Work in Progress.

I’ve written almost two full first drafts of a new novel, and both of them are going to be scrapped.  The first draft was like a pair of fancy cut-offs: Cut out the pieces with the holes worn through, but embellish what’s left.  The second draft, it seems, is going to be more like an old concert shirt, stretched and faded beyond use.  Cut out the best part and see if there’s something else you can sew it onto–a tank top, a tote bag, a throw pillow.  Make something useful out of scraps.

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Pen in Hand

I carried two bags to school every day.  One was my backpack, which was adorned with keychains and patches because it was 2000 and that’s what we did back then, and the other was this awesome white leather messenger bag, the coolness factor of which can never be replicated.

In this messenger bag was everything I needed to write my novel–notebooks, printed pages, pens.  I wrote in math class, during study hall, lunch.  My whole world was consumed with my writing.

So when I was accepted to the Pen in Hand writer’s conference in Little Falls, I couldn’t believe how fucking lucky I was.  Finally, my writing was being taken seriously!  For 24 hours, I would be surrounded by other writers.  I would get to meet authors and they would talk to me!  It was everything I’d hoped for and more.  I made friends there that I still have today.  It’s where I first drank coffee.  It was better than my prom.

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Mix Tape Monday: The Apology Mix

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There’s a lot more to making a mix than just throwing a bunch of songs onto a Spotify playlist or a CD.  It’s about creating a mood or emphasizing an emotion, playing to a theme or singing what you can’t speak aloud.  You don’t make someone a mix unless they’re really important.

So I have a new feature here on the blog–MIX TAPE MONDAY.  I’ll dissect mixes I’ve made for other people, and maybe even a few people have made for me, to dissect what works.  A note before we begin: we’ll use the term “Mix Tape” as a general term here, because “Mix CD” or “Playlist” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The Big Rewind CoverUp first, we have the APOLOGY MIX.  I’ve made a few of these in my day, but this one, titled The All Or Nothing Days (2014) is especially poignant because it was made for my friend Jason.  The epic fight we had, which lead to seven years of silence between us, was part of the inspiration for The Big Rewind, and the first thing we did when we reconnected (thanks to our awesome friend Corey, seriously, she rules and I owe her my whole life.) was make each other mixes.  I would be lying if I said I hadn’t planned a lot of this mix ahead of time, and I was glad I finally had a chance to use it.

A quick word about Jason: He was my mix tape protege, and has taken the art form to a new level.  He can pick songs and clips that are so precise, so devastatingly perfect, that it borders on sadistic.  He has made several of my all-time favorite mixes, including She Doesn’t Think My Tractor’s Sexy Anymore (2005) which should be in some sort of mix CD museum for it’s sheer brilliance.

The Apology Mix is meant to be listened to on headphones.  It’s a close, intimate type of mix, so make sure each of your messages comes through loud and clear.  You won’t around to explain the meaning of each song, so be precise in your choices.

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….And Introducing Valerie

Valerie with Book

Valerie is my good luck charm.  She has been at every reading I’ve ever given; either in my pocket or on the podium right next to me.  If I’m in a play, I carry her onstage in my purse.  She was with me when I walked across the stage to collect my MFA, tied into the sleeve of my graduation gown.  Nothing goes wrong when Valerie’s around.  I carried her on my wedding day and even brought her on my honeymoon!

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The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For….

The Big Rewind is OUT!  Buy it at your local bookstore! Buy it on Amazon!  Buy it at Barnes & Noble!  Buy one for yourself, and another for someone you respect and admire!

Packed The House at the Green Toad Bookstore!

Packed The House at the Green Toad Bookstore!

And if you love it, spread the word.  If you don’t, well, here’s hoping you find something ELSE you love and can talk that up instead!

The Big Rewind Cover

Book Swag and Temptation

I love writer swag.  Notebooks, fancy pens, tote bags, stickers with book quotes on them.  I drool over The Writer‘s monthly Take Note column, listing all the things I could buy to make myself a better writer.  If I sling my typewriter tote bag over my shoulder, people will know that I labor over the craft each perfect sentence in my masterpiece.  If I wear my NaNoWriMo t-shirt, people will see that I am capable of writing a novel in 30 days.  They will see me with my expensive pen and my leather-bound notebook at the coffee shop and murmur, “Yes, there is a real writer, you can tell she is very serious because she has a a scarf with books on it.”

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