Field Report

My book baby is nearly a month and a half old now—they grow up so fast. This launch season has been a whirlwind, but I’m thankful for every chaotic minute of it. Pre-launch, I had one event at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association’s fall conference. The whole event consisted of me sitting at a table signing books (and drinking free wine, natch). That was an utterly surreal experience. I kept wanting to ask people if they were sure they wanted my autograph—surely my terrible handwriting must devalue the book. What happened time and again at this event was a positive response to the book’s title, Siblings and Other Disappointments. Most people started laughing when they read the title, and more than a few asked me to dedicate the book to their own siblings.

Window display at the Powell’s on Hawthorne.

My book came out the day I appeared on a panel about short stories at the Litquake Festival in San Francisco. Most of my nerves were washed away by the sheer joy of having my book out in the world. The official launch happened on October 11th. I sat on a panel at Portland State University about working writers and talked about balancing my working and writing lives and how important it is to find joy in the act of writing itself, not simply the publications or recognition—because they often come few and far between. The following night, my friend and mentor Kevin Sampsell joined me at the Powell’s on Hawthorne for a conversation about the book.

The last two events I participated in were perhaps my favorite because they allowed me to engage with other art forms and mediums for telling stories. I launched my book in Seattle at the annual Lit Crawl and was joined on stage by my dear friend, musician Ruth Bryan. I read a story and she played songs at interludes throughout it. Sitting on the stage with her while she sang and played guitar was the closest I’ll ever get to feeling like a rock star—though I held back the urge to attempt to harmonize with her.

“Three Kids” by William Cumming at the Portland Art Museum

At Portland’s Wordstock Festival, I was paired with PNW artist William Cumming’s painting “Three Kids.” A fellow chronicler of the everyman, Cumming is said to have used ambiguity often in his work. His friend (and one of my living writer idols) Tom Robbins said in Cumming’s obituary: “Much of the power—much of the appeal, frankly—of Cumming’s work is a result of its expressive ambiguity. A Cumming painting is both personal and populist, abstract and literal, hard-nosed and romantic.”

In addition to touring for the book, I also wrote a few supplemental pieces:

This gives my new readers some background information about the book, from the process of titling my collection to its soundtrack to my favorite part I wrote, and a fun list of other short stories to read by women that feature young girls—my book pretty evenly divides between old men and young girl protagonists.

I still have more events lined up in the winter of 2017, including my hometown launch in Yakima on January 17th. For now, I’m taking a short break from touring to enjoy the holidays, spend time with family and friends, and sleep—lots and lots of sleep.

See you in the new year!


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