Happy Fall!

School has started, and as usual I find myself doing more writing. When I have open days full of fun and mirth, I tend to just partake in the fun and mirth and do little else. I presume this is why God did not make me independently wealth–because I will sit and do nothing, ever.

I wrote the centerpiece article for our own The Ann magazine, which is extremely exciting. It is never not a thrill to see your name in print, except I suppose if you are a defendant or accused of shooting someone.


I also contributed to our beloved Observer magazine, in the Marketplace Changes section. Again, seeing something in print is quite satisfying, even though I do most of my reading on a screen these days.

Over at Mittenbrew, I wrote about a great great GREAT brewpub, ROAK. And I continue to write for Concentrate, about our local history.

While I nervously wait for my young adult manuscript to hopefully sell (hope hope hope), I started reworking a book that I started in the late 90s. My, how times have changed! I had them sending Yahoo! messages, and there was no mention of smart phones, and they were still reading newspapers. So I suppose I have some updating to do! Here is what it’s about:

“Did you ever have one of those ‘moments’?  Where everything is as it should be, and all is well on earth and you know you are exactly where you should be and doing exactly what you should be doing?”

That is how the self-described “depressive, rotund, nobody’s dream girl” Rebecca Slater, feels when she meets the mysterious, disfigured Mike Riley. Mourning the life threatening injury of her best friend, and coping with her own mental illness, Becca ends up lost and stranded and knocking on Mike’s door one rainy day. Having spent the past ten years hiding in his home, Mike is not ready for guests, and definitely not looking for friends. Over time, they build a friendship of two lost souls who find in each other what each one is looking for.

The antagonist is Mental Illness, and the plot revolves around her trying to find her way through a relationship will dealing with Bipolar Disorder and all of the fun that goes along with mental illnesses. The first part is the friendship, the second part is the relationship, the third part is MORE MENTAL ILLNESS FUN! I promise it’s not really depressing, but rather a realistic look at the antagonist that is in my head–in a lot of our heads.

Anyway, if anyone wants to beta read, that would be super. Meantime, the Write goes on….


Movie > Book

It is rare that I will say a movie is better than a book, but when the book is practically the worst thing you have ever laid eyes on then I guess it can’t be hard to be better.

What I’m saying is that I finally saw the movie for “The Road”. I hated that book. Hate isn’t even the word. I don’t think a word exists for the utter bullshit that book was. Before I got two seconds into it, I was like, “So heeeyyyyyy, no trees huh? No vegetation? Yeah, no oxygen then, son.” That’s my problem with most post-apocalyptic stuff, by the way. They wipe out everything and with it goes the oxygen only not because Stuff. (I guess it could have been the Rapture, and somehow God destroyed shit cuz God gonna God but left the oxygen…but that was never stated in the book.)



Anyway, here is my review from BookShare in its entirety: The only thing that would have made me like this book is if they had eaten the father at the end

I have no idea how in the hell that book got a publisher, but I guess some people just live right. Anyway, the movie was actually not awful. The acting was great and HOW FUCKING GREAT is Garret Dillahut. My man has been the Terminator, the dad on Raising Hope, bad guys in other movies and in two minutes in The Road, he scared the fuck out of me. Really great actor.

But what got me was the ending. It was perfect, and how I would have ended this book except that I wouldn’t written this book because I would have pulled my own retinas out first and then ate them like the cannibals ate the people in the cellar. See, in the book, the kid is left on his own and a family approaches him. For some reason, the father of the family is described as a veteran but I don’t know why because it’s not like he’s wearing an Army uniform (that I recall). They take in the boy and the woman is kind to him and teaches him about religion and it seems like an okay ending.

But in the movie, I think things went much darker. There is a blink-and-you-miss-it scene earlier in the film where a woman and her daughter are running from cannibals. I am pretty sure that the mom at the end of the movie is that woman. There is nothing to indicate that the “veteran” dad is her husband or that the kids are their kids. They have a dog who is plump and happy. So my thinking is that the woman and her kid were kidnapped by the cannibals and were allowed to live by being “bait” for others. What a great cover story! It’s a family, with a dog no less, so come on with us AND THEN GET THE SHIT EATEN OUT OF YOU! It makes sense. The woman and her kid get to live, and get to eat (human flesh but whatevs), and what do they care about the people they ensnare? They even have a dog to pet! (And it would make sense for cannibals to have a dog, all the better to track and scout humans to eat).

This ending delights me. I figure that the moment after the camera cut out, they all went back and ate the dad. I know I am a horrible person, but I just couldn’t get with this book and especially not that crap of an ending. This ending makes more sense. It’s not happy, but you have no trees and so you have no oxygen and so you can’t breathe anyway oh ha, ha, that’s right, we are ignoring that but still the world is over, so the ending shouldn’t be happy.


Dance Camp!

So I did a thing last week–I went to camp! And not just any camp, but this camp! Isn’t it gorgeous??

I have never been to camp in my life. I had myriad health problems as a kid, and couldn’t go to any sort of outdoorsy-type thing. I first saw this dance camp advertised on the AACTMAD page (yes, it’s said “Act Mad”, which I think is wonderful). It was way out of my price range, but they were offering scholarships. Thanks to some generous folks, I received a scholarship that paid for most of the tuition. Then it was on like Donkey Kong!

Here is the Pretty that I was greeted with when I arrived on Sunday:

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That is Lake Huron, as seen from the porch of the lodge.

The first evening was basically spent settling in, eating dinner, unpacking. I was afraid that they wouldn’t let me come to the camp if I told them I had such bad asthma, so I didn’t say anything. That meant I was in a regular cabin, where the humidity was about 1000%. (This is not the camp’s fault; Michigan gonna Michigan). I made it through that first night, but needed the non-rescue, just regular inhaler when I woke up.

Every day, you had a choice of four different classes (you can see what they are at the link posted above). For my first class, I chose Mummers Play and it was about the best decision I could have made. The leader was a professor in Toronto, and had done these plays before. I had never heard of these plays before but THEY ARE FREAKING AWESOME AND I WANT TO DO THEM IN ANN ARBOR!

The basic idea behind the Mummers Play is for amateur actors to create a play, disguise them selves, and then bust up in yo crib to put on they play. It would be nice if you were to make it rain when the players were done, but not necessary. (Interestingly, this tradition got started back in the day when peasants were eating rocks and living in shacks and the rich people were eating free range, organic golden goose and living in velvet lined houses that crapped gold. The rich people realized that maybe they should keep the peasants busy [and throw a bit of the poopy gold to them]lest they realize how unjust things really were, and that there were a lot more peasants than there were rich folks. Does this sound familiar? Because it should.)

I could not have asked for a better troupe. We based the play around brains, as one of our friends in the troupe has brain cancer. We put it together during that week, and performed Friday night.

For the second class, I went to a Mulligan jig class because a) I had never heard of it before and b) I have never done a jig before (at least not intentionally). This is similar to what we did. I’m pleased to say that I looked EXACTLY like this dancer when the week was done.

HAHAHAHAHA! I’m just kidding. But our teacher was great, and I did pick up some of the steps. We did this jig in the yurt, which was possibly the muggiest place I have ever been in my life, ever. They could have dumped chowder on our heads and we wouldn’t have noticed.


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That is the yurt. It was really neat, just needed central air conditioning. As does everything, ever.

Our dance teacher was great. She teaches elementary dance in Canada and–oh, wait. What’s that? Dance? In elementary school? At a public school? Yes, my fellow denizens of Snyder and his ilk, our friends in Canada actually teach this sort of material to young kids. At a PUBLIC SCHOOL. I am so happy for them but so sad for us. I hate you, Snyder.

Anyway, then we had this thing called Gathering, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the day. Campers would get up and sing, or lead a poem, or do a skit, or generally just be awesome. Then we had lunch and the food was top notch. Seriously. I actually ate vegetables, which I normally do not do because I do not like vegetables. But the chef did something magical that made them not taste like dirt, dirty ass, or snot. It was amazeballs.

After lunch, there were more classes to take. I opted for “outdoor adventures” because I have really done not many of those. The first day found me horseback riding. Below is not me on the horse, but that is the horse that I rode. The horse was named Pete, and the little doggie was Bandit, who lived with the family who owned the horseys.

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Another outdoor activity found me doing technical tree climbing. This is likely the only kind of “tree climbing” I could ever do, given my girth. But there is my fat ass, up in a tree!

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So yeah, tilt your head sideways first.

I also did different kinds of English dancing, and was going to go kayaking but we got rained out.

For the fourth class, I had to pick something I knew I’d be good at and so I picked Improv. (It’s like how I encourage my special ed kids to do art because they tend to be good at art, and you need something to be good at when you suck at everything else, and I suck at most everything involving physical activity). I had an absolute blast, even in the sweaty yurt. The class was full of fun people who would do and try most anything, our teacher was a blast, and we just had so much fun being silly.

After, you could take camper-led classes and campers could lead classes on pretty much anything they wanted. This is a picture of the schedule that I took on Monday; lots more were added as the week went on.


See how on Monday it says “chestnuts”? I presumed that it meant actual nuts. My friend, Linda Diane, makes chestnut flour and I thought “how neat! I can take some back for her.” Oops. Turns out that “chestnuts” are the super old English dances. They were very cool, and I’m glad I did them. I also went to the storytelling talk and the singing on Friday. I think I went swimming in Lake Huron on the other two days, or else I just sat on the porch and looked at the lake.

Our “beach party” was scheduled for Wednesday, but we got rained out. It was okay though, because we sat on the gorgeous porch and had a chocolate party and chatted and chatted and sang and hung out.

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The first picture was as the rained rolled in; it had cleared up by dinner time.

We had dinner at 5:45, and then every night had a concert by campers followed by a big ol’ English Country Dance. Even when there wasn’t a scheduled concert, there was always music somewhere on the camp. I miss that. I miss walking outside and hearing some lovely strains of beautiful music. The dances were a hoot. No one got mad (I do get snapped at and shushed and generally some negativity at my home group) and no one cared if you screwed up and everyone was happy. Here is the beautiful place where we danced:

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On Thursday night, some of us pulled mattresses out to the porch and slept outside. I have never slept outside before, and it was lovely. I woke up long enough to throw on my glasses and watch the sunrise, and then I went back to sleep.

I think this is the sunrise that I took that day, but I was pretty tired and it could have been another day but still–SUNRISE!


We also had gorgeous moonrises!

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Probably the best thing I did for myself was to tell some stories during the gatherings. Despite a lifelong desire to be the center of attention and a love of public speaking, I am actually quite shy in person and it is sometimes hard for me to meet people. So on Tuesday, I got up and told my Plant People story (it’s not online as far as I know, so you just have to imagine!). It was a huge hit, and gave me something to talk about with people. On Saturday, I told the Bar Exam Results, which is my “go-to” story and one of my favorites.

Now that camp is over, we are madly friending each other on Facebook, and it is glorious! It makes me very excited for camp next year. Until then, I leave you with one last gorgeous photo:




Summer is Halfway Over?

How did that happen? But it did. I counted the days and summer break was halfway over as of yesterday. (Remember, teachers report back a week early).

Wow! So what have I been writing? I’m a happy contributor to our local library’s Pulp arts and community blog. Our library is amazing. I mean, you can check out lawn games and artwork from our library. COME ON PEOPLE! That is AWESOME! Every time I meet someone who works at the library, I am completely impressed with how genuine and competent and cool he or she is.Mittenbrew

I also write for Concentrate/Second Wave Media. To my chagrin, my editor is leaving to move across the country. I am very sad about this, as he is honestly one of the best editors I have ever worked with. Hopefully, I can continue my association with them, because I absolutely love my twice-a-month history article that I write!

I am also a contributor at Mittenbrew, which has just grown in leaps and bounds since I joined a couple of years ago. It is really a thrill to write about the beer scene in Michigan. I have found it difficult to get my foot in the door in beer writing. I don’t know if this is because of limited opportunities, or gender issues (I did have one blatant issue of sexism crop up years ago), or what all. So I love them forever for giving me a chance to do this.

I’m also trying to concentrate on public speaking and storytelling. I have a long ways to go in both areas, so I am always watching speakers and tellers to pick up on ways to improve. I’ll be presenting a short talk at our library on Thursday, all about my co-op history book that I wrote. I always get nervous about these things–will anyone show up? will I just lose it right in the middle and start vomiting profusely? will I just stand there with my mouth open, breathing? I figure though that the day I stop getting nervous is the day I should stop doing it!

What have you been up to?

Ah, Summer!

It’s 11 days into summer vacation and it has been a wonderful time. Last summer, I spent my days sending query letters. That was a depressing event, let me tell you. Imagine all of the rejection you’ve ever got–ever–and multiply it by 100, add 40,000, multiply by 100 again and you still aren’t close. But good things happened! (We have yet to see if the book will actually sell, of course, and my dreams of a big advance/movie deal have sort of evaporated but I’m hoping someone buys it!)


I’ve also been doing some writing, here and here.  (I am particularly proud of my use of Alice Cooper lyrics in the latter article).

Two weeks ago, I spoke at Nerd Nite in Ann Arbor. Shortly thereafter, I got invited to be part of the Michigan Showcase at our state’s annual Storytellers’ Festival. And of course, I’ve been binge watching Orange is the New Black.


This summer, I am focusing on working on another book (juuuuust in case that begging kitten picture fails to warm the heart of an editor), English Country dancing (you’ve seen it if you’ve seen any of the English old timey movies, but here is a video), and playing some old timey base ball with this lovely group of women called the Merries. I even got my vintage base ball nickname: PO PO.

Here is to a great summer!

i love summer


Last month, I had the absolute privilege of speaking at a fundraiser for the Student Advocacy Center. They are a wonderful group that works to keep kids in school–that is, not suspended or expelled. My friend is the executive director, and I was thrilled when she asked me to speak.

Please click here to see me in action. (I can’t bear to watch…I’ll just look at my Fat and whine).

As always, I continue to thank my lucky stars that I am able to make money by writing about the history of my favorite city! My latest article is about the Kayser block, where Fourth Avenue Birkenstocks is now.

We are so lucky to have amazing events in Ann Arbor. One of my personal favorites is Nerd Nite, which features three speakers on any assortment of nerdy topics. I am thrilled to say that I will be doing my third (?!?!) Nerd Nite talk on June 16th! I will be talking about Improv–where did it come from, what is it now, how can you do it, too? Come on by if you are in the area–it’s free, thanks to our lovely friends at the library.

Too much about me–how are YOU?

What I've Been Doing

I’m counting down the days to summer break. Also, I am:

  • Reading. I am not fucking playing with you. You need to read this book.
  • Talking. I had the honor of speaking at the Telling Tales Out Of School fundraiser last week. It was just an amazing experience. I got so much positive feedback that I got overwhelmed. I am a decent public speaker, but actually pretty boring when you meet me. I always feel bad when people want to talk, because I feel like I have nothing exciting to say and they probably want to push my ass back on stage so I will say something interesting. There should be a link up soon, and I will post it.
  • Writing. My article about old timey Ann Arbor dropped–all about the old timey hotels!
  • Talking. I also had the pleasure of speaking at the Jackson Storytellers’ Festival. I told this story.

    My voice is really not that obnoxious in person, I don’t think.

  • Also, I’ve been watching a lot of Law & Order reruns. I first saw them as a young, undisillusioned child, and it brings back happy memories.
  • And did I mention that I am counting the days until summer break?!?

What I've Been Writing

When I haven’t been getting my young adult book ready for submission (ikes! yikes! gasp!), I have been doing other things!

I continue to have the pleasure of writing about old timey Ann Arbor. This time, we look at the parties of days gone by.

I also get to write about our local beer scene, which is never boring!

And, the food co-op book is out! Yay! For more info, see our Facebook page! Want to order a copy? Please send $29.11 to the PFC, 216 N. Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.

And now, back to editing THROUGH EVERY DARK NIGHT (or, Ted-N, as I am calling it in my head)

I Can Smell a Douche From a Mile Away, Part 1

I’m ridiculously thrilled with a book review I wrote on Goodreads. It wasn’t, as I say, a bad book…just unnecessary. Has anyone else read it?

The book is called “God, If You’re Not Up There, I’m Fucked” by Darrell Hammond, who was on SNL for a boatload of years. My personal favorite character of his was the dirty-minded Sean Connery on Jeopardy. (I’ll take “The Rapists, Alex.”). So, yeah, it’s that guy. He seems like an okay guy, and I probably shouldn’t call him a douche, but I fear this is the future of books. Here is my review:

Eventually, the only major book deals out there will be given to celebrities and people with built-in “platforms” (e.g. people whose books will sell regardless of the quality, thus earning the publisher back the money it spent on the advance). Then we will all be left reading books like this.

It wasn’t that this book was bad, it’s just that it was not necessary. This is a multimillionaire talking about how he is a victim, the world owes him something cuz he’s here, and his life sucks. Oh, I’m sorry, did I mention that he is rich and famous? How exactly is he a victim? What else does the world owe him, exactly? And how again does his life suck?

If this book had been written by a non-celebrity, I would have been all over it. Except that it couldn’t have been, because the non-celebrity would be dead. This guy was given chance after chance. Total strangers recognized him and helped him out. He went into the most expensive rehabs. He kept his job even though he tried to cut his own arm off at work. How many of us non-celebrities would have that many chances? Maybe a few, but we wouldn’t get a book deal when it was all said and done.

I’m sorry for Mr. Hammond’s abuse by his mom. It sounded bad but, and this is going to get me some shade but I’ll live, I’ve heard worse. I’ve heard much worse. And from people who don’t have millions of dollars with which to deal with it. Yet somehow, these people don’t feel like victims, don’t feel owed, and still go on to lead decent lives.

I’m sorry he has the addiction gene. There but for the grace of God go I. But again, I know plenty of people who have that and don’t get book deals because of it.

All of that said, he seems like a decent guy. I’d like to hear from his daughter, the one he credits with saving him, and see what kind of dad he really is/was. I’d like to hear from the editor who bought this book, and why he/she thought we needed to read this. I’d like to hear from the millions of people who are screaming to be heard–the lost souls who need to be listened to and helped if they want it–but won’t because they can’t guarantee first spot on the best seller list.

Waiting and Writing Are Just a Letter Off!

I’ve been told that a lot of publishing is about WAITING. Waiting for an agent to notice you (the worst wait of all!), waiting for edits, waiting for a sale (oh please oh please oh please), waiting for the book to come out. I’m horrible at waiting!

But what I am good at it is just one letter off of waiting–and that’s writing! (Yes, I literally just noticed that!). So I’ve been working on my second book (starring Katie, from the first book). I’ve also been writing things around town.

I’m not sure if this will be an ongoing thing or not, but I was asked to write about beer bars for Thrillist. As you can imagine, I was thrilled!

I also have the best writing job in the world–a twice-a-month column on historical Ann Arbor things. This month, we look at parades.

And the food co-op book comes out in 11 days, at our annual meeting! Yikes!

But writing will beat the pants out of waiting any day! 🙂