Sunday, April 30, 2017

Houston, We Have a Conference

Just now home from the Houston Writers Guild Conference. Tired enough to sleep in lead boots, but I feel like I just ditched a glass slipper. Andrea Barbosa and Fernanda Brady and Mike Brady and Alicia Richardson and their whole entire posse just knocked it out of the park. I made about 70 new writer-buddies, and I think we collectively blew three weeks' worth of serotonin in about four hours. Getting to share a man-pizza with Liz Larson and a redneck truck-date with Jennie Goloboy on top of all that was just the cream gravy on the chicken-fried steak. Counting the hours until I can go back.

NB: this adorable duo were not the two most important people at the event.
Tragically, they are the only ones I took a picture of.

I tell you what, y'all. You work and you wonder and you sweat and you cry, and then almost out of the blue, somebody who doesn't owe you a single blessed thing hands you a room key and a pretty purple gift baggie and a kindness you'll remember forever, and all of a sudden you could do a thousand more miles right there on the spot. Please remind me of this next time I turn into a mopey doughnut: no quest succeeds without a dose of elvish hospitality, and I-45 runs clean through Rivendell.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Ides of Marsha

We wrapped up the spring program of the DFW Writers Bloc this afternoon with a wonderful presentation by Annie Neugebauer. The Writers Bloc is part of the DFW Writers' Workshop, and is facilitated by our fantastic hosts at North Lake College. It's been wonderful to see this tiny little program grow and come into its own over the past year, and we're really excited about doing even more with the WB's summer programming.

But the person I keep meaning to thank is this one in the picture here - Marsha Hubbell. She has been our self-appointed class mom and tireless cheerleader from the get-go. She brings us cupcakes and veggie chips, helps with set-up, loans out tupperware, and catches balls before I can even finish dropping them. She even puts us in the newsletter at the Writers Guild of Texas (WGT), which is all kinds of kind (and those of you up in the Richardson/Plano area DO need to do yourselves a favor and drop in for a visit.) Our good friend Helen is filling in for Jane Lumsden in this photo, who has probably logged a hundred Fitbit miles schlepping ice and gluten-free cookies for the greater glory of the Workshop.

And tonight I'm thinking a lot about just how much of the world's supply of hospitality, harmony, and convenience comes from Marsha and Jane and people like them. The folded towel that your doctor has for you to lay over your lap when you lie back for your exam, so you don't feel quite so exposed. Those little chocolate bites that your favorite church lady brings to the 9:30 service. The box of kleenex the homeroom teacher already has out when you go in to talk about what's happening with your kid, so you don't have to ask or even reach. They're the littlest things - enjoyed, often taken for granted, and forgotten almost as soon as they're consumed - but they are *oxygen* for our sense of wellbeing. (For comparison, think about the last time you waged a pitched battle with the forces of rote bureaucratic indifference. Think about how much easier it is to expand and relax your mind when someone has already provided for your meat-suit.)

So if you've enjoyed the Writers Bloc at all this year, please join me in giving big love to Marsha and Jane, our tireless behind-the-scenes snack-Sherpas and juice-o-mancers. If dealing with your fellow Earthlings has left you bruised or burned, if you worry that the well of the world's generosity is drying up, come out to the Writers Bloc next time you have a free Saturday afternoon - we've got a treat for you.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Announcing Candidate Campolo

You may have heard me describe myself, very modestly, as “simply the finest human being who has ever lived.”

That is no longer true.

The title now goes to my sister, Allison Campolo, who has just thrown her hat into the ring to run for the Texas state senate, in District 10. (That is basically the southern half of Tarrant County – Konni Burton’s district, for those of you who keep up with these things.)

And you guys, I just can’t even imagine the guts it takes to do that. You know, to put your face out there KNOWING that people will say horrendously ugly things to and about you. To volunteer yourself to spend the next 18 months knocking on doors and making phone calls and wearing out the bottoms of your shoes, all for a ‘maybe’. For a job that literally does not pay a living wage. (Texas state senators make $7,200 per year, plus a per diem when the lege is actually in session – which is four months out of every two years.)

But, you know. She sweated her way to a black belt in kung fu. Started, ran, and sold a business. Got her master’s and is working on a PhD in veterinary biomedical science. She’s spayed cats, researched fish farms in Thailand, smashed bricks, blood-typed horses, built a barn, broken bones, played in a band, doctored an epileptic beaver and a squeamish brother-in-law, and probably BASE-jumped from a breaching whale off the coast of Nicaragua while I wasn’t looking. She’s even more of a ridiculous Mary Sue than I am – and if that’s the kind of person you would trust to road-trip down to Austin and kick our Lone Star shit into shape, then I hope you’ll join me in backing her bid.

You can start by following her on Facebook and on Twitter. She’ll be speaking at the March for Science in Fort Worth this weekend, and will need our help in collecting donations and signatures to secure her bid. It’s going to be a long, uphill slog, y’all – but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from living with Al, it’s that bravery is contagious, and ‘badass’ is a verb.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Midnight Confession

I miss regular life. I miss sleeping through the night and not needing 5-hour energy to get through the day. I miss wearing my smaller clothes and caring about what I eat. I miss going to movies and baking funny cakes and being a good friend. I worry about what will happen at next week's doctor's appointment, and I feel guilty for letting my haphazard book promotion efforts lapse. I'm afraid maybe they'll cancel the UK edition of the last book because the sales haven't been good enough. I worry sometimes that I'll never have the wherewithal to write another book, or that nobody will want it if I do.

But y'all, we sure have pumped a lot of goodness into the world lately. And that's solid enough to sleep on.