Book Giveaway: Have Some Faith this Holiday

In the spirit of reading books, I am doing a holiday book giveaway.

Gorgeous cover design by Jesse Taggart

The first five readers to email me at susiemeserve[at]yahoo.com will receive a free, signed copy of my 2008 poetry chapbook, Faith.

Please include your mailing address when you write.

Faith makes a great little gift, or keep it for yourself!

Read a poem from Faith here.

Vote for Me! (Or, the Shameless Self-Promotion Plug)

Well. Last week as I was frantically packing for a loooong Thanksgiving drive to Southern California I also managed to submit a short story to Medium’s Fiction Writing Contest. The story is called Shunyata. And I really hope you’ll read it. Then, if you like it, I hope you’ll vote for it. The system is a little tricky, but basically, you read; then you click “recommend.” Here is where it gets tricky. Once you hit recommend, you’re then asked to sign in to your Twitter account. I know–I didn’t have a Twitter account either. As far as I can tell, there’s no way around this but to get one. And then you can vote! (And if you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @SusieMeserve.)

Here’s a teaser.

On the first Monday of last June my girlfriend Carrie’s mom got diagnosed with end-stage breast cancer and was dead the following Tuesday. It was one of those reverse miracles, an absolute mind-fuck. Me and Carrie flew to her parents’ house in Cleveland for the funeral. It was the first time I’d met her dad. I never met her mom. We didn’t really do parents so much.

“Steven,” Mr. Weathers said to me. “It’s good you’ve come.” I towered over him. Carrie said, “Oh, Dad,” and embraced him. I stood there patting the back of her leather jacket like an idiot, because I didn’t know what else to do.

I had known Carrie for what seemed like forever—two years, by then—but, it turned out, wasn’t, because you don’t really know someone until you’ve seen the photos their parents keep of them around the house. There was Carrie, on the piano, on the mantelpiece, in her dad’s study: blonde, blue-eyed, full-lipped, high cheekboned, a little pudgy. There she was in her band uniform. There she was in fake pearls and a pink taffeta dress at junior prom, smiling behind unfamiliar lipstick, like a little girl playing dress-up. There she was in her parents’ bedroom in a crackled photo with Tommy, her brother who died in a car accident when she was a senior in high school. When pressed, Carrie would say his death was probably what made her stop being a good girl, start smoking, start doing drugs, start wearing leather and motorcycle boots to class. The house in Cleveland suggested wealth and togetherness and wholesome family values, not my Carrie: cocktail waitress, smoker, heavy drinker—into taking long drives and suggesting we stop and fuck on the hood of my car.

Which, as far as I could remember, I had never refused.

And here is a photo of a Thanksgiving table, Southern California style. I hope everyone had a lovely day–I am grateful for many things, and for you, readers.

A Plug Dilemma

B just told me over a pot of pear-cinnamon jam that he’s getting tired of the plugs. I admit that my posts have been plug-heavy of late, but that’s what you get when you cross three classes with six hours in the writing lab plus two random freelance gigs that come in just as your mother-in-law and your mom are both coming to visit. Plugs are quick and easy, truth be told, especially during this very busy fall I’ve been having.

So, whaddya think? Enjoying my every-Monday pings for books and films and lectures I’m interested in promoting, or should my plugs just come up when exciting stuff is happening?

As it happens, I have no plug for today, other than to say: get thyself a writing group. It’s the best. And spend some good time with your family or your friends this week. We’re making Christmas presents (pear-cinnamon jam, anyone?) and I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Here is a fall poem for today.

STEPS TO GET OVER

Again yesterday the wind rose & shook the leaves off

The trees throw shadows on the sidewalk

We trudge along avoiding each other

Because sometimes everyone is the enemy even

The guy in the trench coat & black hat lingers over the box

Where they keep the free newspapers taking one out

At the ballpark a baseball took off through

The stratosphere was pierced by a comet with rough edges

And a whole series of constellations you didn’t know

How sharp I was I just got your letter & photograph

Thank you I treasure it as an artifact of the love that never

Was I too effusive or too

Odd how the baseball takes its arc from the moon

If the moon were a motion it would be whoosh

Go the leaves on the sidewalk in a sudden brief gust

That leaves us all

Breathless is how I felt when I got your letter

And tucked it into the drawer alongside other things

Aren’t so good here since you last

Wrote memory is a funny thing because it makes us

Crazy people in the crosswalk & a marching band on the town hall steps

To get over you are too numerous to mention here

Come the cheerleaders who arrived with the marching band & will leave

On the shoulders of a hundred football players

Are birds of paradise whispering play

Secrets are not fun for the person who doesn’t notice

The sidewalk dappled with leaf-shaped light

A cigarette in winter & it’s a tiny planet in your fingers

(© Susie Meserve. First published in Cimarron Review, winter 2007.)

On Sending Out

A colleague told me she belongs to a monthly drinking-and-submitting group. Someone hosts and serves up a bunch of booze; all the writers in attendance spend the evening submitting their work to magazines.

I thought that sounded ingenious. It’s so hard to find the time not only to write and revise, but to try to get your work out there. Why not get drunk and mail?

christmasstockimages.com

This fall, as part of a series of small resolutions, I decided that every Thursday would be a sending-out day. I figured, you know, my numbers have actually not been too bad. Over the years I’ve had some publishing successes without too onerously exerting myself. Sure, I have a giant folder of rejections somewhere and a much smaller folder of acceptances, but I also only sent my chapbook to four or five places before it got picked up, and in 2011 the only poem I sent out got published. So I figured, if I increased my yearly submissions to 52 (one per week), maybe I’d hit a ten percent success rate.

Well, to date I’m at zero percent, but it’s early days yet. I’d also be lying if I said I actually send out every Thursday. What I tend to do is pile up the weeks and then send, say, three submissions in one week. Researching places to submit, preparing files, deciding what work is ready–it all takes a lot of time. And of course, by sending out so much work, you not only open yourself to success but to the inevitable rejections (52 of them? Let’s hope not).

Do you have a system for sending out work, readers?

Plug: Bill McKibben’s Do the Math Tour

On Friday I had the great fortune and pleasure to go see Bill McKibben speak about climate change. With his group 350.org he’s traveling the country starting a climate change revolution. You have to go, if you can—imagine simultaneously being made aware in scary detail of the realities of climate change, but leaving feeling like maybe, just maybe, there’s something you can do about it after all. I felt empowered and excited and happy and scared and all night I had weird vivid dreams and woke up Saturday feeling a little like my life had changed.

Here’s the website, where you can buy tickets to see the show (oh, and it kind of is a show! This is no Al Gore talking with a boring chart behind him). Unfortunately a lot of dates are sold out, but I’ll bet if you emailed the organizers you could get in.

Seriously—check this out.

Love,

Susie

NaBloWriMo?

Alright, sue me—I’m messing around with the idea of a “national blog writing month.” I have a good friend who is doing NaBloWriYe, a whole year of daily posts. She reports she’s feeling bored and uninspired with a few months to go. I love blogging, but the imperative to blog every day might do me in.

But is anyone doing NaNoWriMo? If so, share–unless you have realized, probably correctly, that any time you spend looking at blogs or Facebook would be better spent reaching your goal of 57,000 words, or whatever it is–and thus, are not reading. We excuse you: go write!

I for one have never participated in National Novel Writing Month, and am not this year, either. Some day I hope to have a novel in me, but I’m not rushing it.

It’s Monday, and I do have a plug, but I also wanted to share the nice news that popcorntheblog was Freshly Pressed last week. One thing I have come to love about blogging, and WordPress in particular: it feels like if you’re posting good stuff you stand the chance of getting picked up for FP and increasing your readership in just a few days. Popcorn being Freshly Pressed was a wonderful boost, since all the women in the collective care so much about the project. Thanks, WordPress.

In full disclosure, my plug this week is for a book written by my uncle, Jeffrey Blount. It’s a young adult novel called Hating Heidi Foster, a story of friendship, loyalty, and grief. Just out.

You can download Hating Heidi Foster as an e-book or snatch it up on Amazon, though it looks like you should buy soon: only five copies left! (I’m sure there will be more.) I read this book in the manuscript stage and am thrilled to see it’s reached print.

Great cover, too.