Well hello there. It’s been a while. I hope you’re well. I haven’t sent the newsletter in a while because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, and I wasn't really enjoying writing them anymore. I think I was feeling too constrained by the self-imposed format I put on it, so I’m going to try a looser format for a while and see if I like that better.
The German audio book of Hope and Red debuted in the top 50, which I thought was cool. The publisher even made a nice trailer to go with the launch, which you can see on the their website.
Otherwise things are fairly quiet as far as news goes, mostly because from a publishing standpoint, I’m in between projects, although from a writing standpoint, I’ve never been busier in my life. Naturally, I can’t tell you about any of it quite yet, which I find frustrating. But that’s how it goes.
And speaking of being busy, we had to cancel this month’s Shut Up & Write, which is a bi-monthly discussion series about writing Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. Every other month, we invite between one and three authors, and I interview them James Lipton “Inside the Actor’s Studio” style. But it’s not just me doing all the work. Author Jessica Spotswood is the one who actually finds the people for me to interview, Nico Piro is the librarian who hosts us at the Arlington Public Library, and Lelia Nebeker is the bookseller from local indie One More Page who brings copies of the authors’ works to sell, thereby making it much more appealing for them to come in the first place.
The four of us have been doing SU&W for six years now. Jess and I set out to do it with the idea of building a local writing community. Since I am a wily hermit who rarely sees humans other than my offspring and the cashiers at the local co-op grocery store, I have no idea if that worked. But I do know that we have encouraged a lot of individual budding writers along the way, and that’s not nothing. So I think the four of us are feeling like we did something good, and with all of us having less time spare these days, we’re also feeling like it might be time to move on. In all likelihood, May 2nd will be our last event. So if you’re local to the DMV, do come say hi one last time.
My friend and fellow author David Levithan always has a Year in Music poll that he puts out to pretty much everyone he knows (which is a lot of people because he is a very nice and likable fellow). This year when I sent him my list, he responded with a shocked, “No boygenius???” For those who don’t obsess over the indie music scene, boygenius is what one might call a “super group” comprised of indie singer/songwriter darlings Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. And while it is a great album, and one I enjoyed listening to quite a bit, there were a lot of those in 2018. Strong offerings from established bands like Dilly Dally, Swearin’, Grouper, Wye Oak, Robyn, Car Seat Headrest, Rhye, Marissa Nadler, Nocole Dollanganger, and Resina, as well as debuts from artists like Aisha Badru, Mal Blum, Illuminatie Hotties, and Snailmail. I like and appreciate them all, but none of them felt to me like they were bringing something new to the table. Below are the bands or artists I felt added something to the music world that wasn't there before:
El Mal Querer by Rosalía — Flamenco pop.
Masana Temples by Kikagaku Moyo — Japanese psychedelic jam band.
Krimewatch by Krimewatch — Hardcore that feels authentic yet somehow catchy.
Mosaic I: L’amour Et L’ardeur by Unreqvited — Vast aural landscapes that are lush, dark and symphonic.
Snowmelt by Zoe Keating — I am grateful she’s making music again after a long hiatus.
Shadow World by Lana Del Rabies — The name suggests a joke band. The sound is anything but funny.
Another Life by Amnesia Scanner — In my humble opinion, the closest yet to a musical expression of our fractured, anxious time.
Superorganism by Superorganism — Chaotic feel-good music collective. The salve (or possibly the opium) to Amnesia Scanner’s bleak dystopia.
Dirge of Escapism by Primal Rite — A metal album that actually feels welcoming to people who don’t know much about the genre, or are even sure they want to learn.
That's it for now. I need to get back to work on those projects I can’t tell you about yet. I did finally replace my old Macbook Air after eight years of loyal service with…a new Macbook Air. Yes, not every exciting. And it is the base model. No bells or whistles, no upgraded RAM or processor. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I loaded a game onto it and the performance was…comical. Anyway, it is great for what I need it to do, which is to assist in writing books in any and all locations for as long as possible, and it held up admirably on my recent 29 hour trip to Prague, so I’m happy with it. (By the way, those images on the corkboards could hint at upcoming projects, if you like speculating about such things and can make any of it out…)
Until next time, just remember that you haven’t lost everything until you’ve lost your sense of humor.