Loving life and holding frauds accountable

The Chattanooga adventure is almost over, sadly. I have had so much fun here!

But before I start the slide show and rave about yesterday, can I just say how irritated I am at Margaret Jones, who wrote a fake memoir about being a foster child and in a gang and got caught? I have never been a fan of the memoir (say it with a snotty French accent, please) genre. I prefer my stories well-defined: write an autobiography or write fiction if you want me to read it. I think that some memoirists have hidden in the murky fog of their genre because they either a) don’t have a true story compelling enough to stand alone as autobiography, or b) they are not skilled at fiction writing.

I hope the publisher considers legal action against Ms. Jones for committing fraud. I think it’s time to call a halt to the silliness.

Back to Tennessee…

Image and video hosting by TinyPic It has been so nice to get an early peek of Spring.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The day started at Girls Preparatory School, where I spoke to 700 girls who were way too enthusiastic for that early in the morning.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They made it really fun to be up on stage. They also made me want to have one of those cute plaid skirts.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The second school was amazing – the Hamilton County Adult High School. This is a special high school for young adults, ages 17-21, who didn’t do well in a traditional high school setting, but are motivated to finish their educations. (They don’t have their backs to me, here. They’re listening to a comment from the principal.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I spoke with 50 students who had studied SPEAK in their English class.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Because they have so much life experience, we had a great conversation. Say hi to Heather, in the plaid coat, who did a really nice job introducing me.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicLast night I spoke to an audience of mostly University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students. This little guy, Tyler, is not one of them, but his mom is. He and his brother sat quietly through my whole speech. When I met them after, it was clear why they sat so still – they are artists.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Can’t talk about a trip without talking about the food. Lunch was incredible tomato-artichoke soup at Rembrandt’s. If anyone has a recipe for this, please share.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Dinner was chicken and rice casserole, roasted sweet potatos, broccoli casserole, and lacey corn bread, which is like a giant potato chip, but made from corn.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And I finally ate banana pudding, which is very sweet. (That is hummingbird cake in the background.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The inside of my banana pudding, which had fewer bananas than I expected and a whole lot more custard and cookie-crust. Perhaps they should call it, Thinking-About-Banana Pudding.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here is the best part of the trip, my new friend, Dr. Fran Bender, the UTC professor who worked so hard to get me here. I am already excited about seeing Fran and Dr. Verbie Prevost at ALAN in San Antonio, TX, where I will introduce them to David Gill and they can talk South while I listen.

One more school left to visit this morning, then a mad dash to the airport where I hope the plane is brave enough to fly me home through the bad weather.

I forgot to post my resolution update yesterday:

2008 Resolution Tracker
Week 9 – Miles Run: 15, YTD: 196 (kind of bummed at the low mileage, but I had to finish the draft.)
Week 9 – Days Written: 7, YTD: 63

Chooing in Chattanooga

I have to admit, I was ignorant. I had no idea Chattanooga was so lovely and filled with exciting things and sweet people. This place needs to go on the Roadtrip Vacation List!

Yesterday I talked to students at Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences and Tyner High. (Yes, yes, I know I am technically on hiatus from school visits, but this trip were arranged through the A Tale for One City program, so it’s different.)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Do they look like Monday morning, or what? They were actually much more lively than this picture looks. It was really nice to hang out with kids again. (Special thanks to the kids who came over from Howard!)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CSAS is in a historic building and some of the lockers are wooden. Gives the expression “old school” new meaning.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic After CSAS, my wonderful host, Fran Bender, took me to the Art District for lunch at a coffee shop and quick walk through the museum neighborhood. Then it was on to Tyner.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The students at Tyner were some of the friendliest I have ever had the good fortune to run across.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Some of the guys instantly freeze into GQ cover model positions whenever they feel a camera on them.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The girl on the left wins the “most thoughtful and insightful questions of the decade” award.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Thank you everyone for making the day so much fun!!

Long day today – more schools and my public presentation tonight.

I leave you with John Scalzi’s article about the financial realities of the writing life, not to discourage any of you from becoming writers, but so you know what you’re getting into. If you are seriously contemplating writing as a career, you owe it to yourself to read the entire article. Thank you, Stef, for the link.

Finally, thank you, for the heads-up about the extremely nice review of TWISTED in the Drew University Campus newspaper, The Acorn.

Oh – one last thing. Dinner last night? Shrimp and grits. Heaven – just heaven.

Done! (well, for now that is, much revision ahead, no doubt)

I finished this draft of my WIP at 10:30pm last night!! It became a marathon at the end and the walls of reality got a little thin, but that’s part of the fun for me. I didn’t get in as many running miles as I would have hoped, but something had to be sacrificed to make this goal.

I already know some things I want to change in the next draft, but I need to let the story cool off for a little bit before I tinker with it again. Now my writing attention turns to WIP2 for a little bit.

But I have to pack first.

I leave in a couple of hours for Chattanooga, TN, where the kind people made SPEAK into their “A Tale for One City” book. My public session will be Tuesday at 7pm at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Location details tomorrow. I’ll also be visiting the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Science, Tyner HS, Girls Preparatory, Hamilton County Adult High and Hixson High.

I promise I’ll be getting to last week’s writing process questions, too. And trying to catch up on a frightening backlog of email. (If you’re waiting to hear from me about something, just a few more days, please?)

There goes the dryer. Gotta hop.