Monthly Archives: July 2011

Vida giveaway!

Scarlet the Wiener Dog reading Vida by Patricia Engel

My friend Patricia Engel’s book Vida is up next for a giveaway. Vida, Patty’s debut story collection, came out in 2010 to countless (really, I lost count) rave reviews, including one from the ever discriminating Michiko Kakutani of the NY Times, who said, “What makes Sabina’s coming-of-age story so compelling is the arresting voice Ms. Engel has fashioned for her: a voice that’s immediate, unsentimental and disarmingly direct.” I of course second that review…and all the others.

I am so very proud of her–and she should be proud of this amazing story collection. I audibly squeaked when I discovered Vida was included in the NY Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2010 list. I remember when Patty workshopped one of the stories in its infancy at VONA–that I could witness the growth of her work has been an amazing privilege. Her writing is spectacular.

So in all the hubbub, between all the ecstatic blackberry message exchanges and emails, it never dawned on me to do a giveaway. Horrors! But it’s better late than never. And it’s better late than never for all of you to read Patricia Engel’s Vida.

Opening lines:

“It was the year my uncle got arrested for killing his wife, and our family was the subject of all the town gossip. My dad and uncle were business partners, so my parents were practically on trial themselves, which meant that most of the parents didn’t want their kids to hang around me anymore, and I lost the few friends I had.

We were foreigners, spics, in a town of blancos. I don’t know how we ended up there. There’s tons of Latinos in New Jersey, but somehow we ended up in the one town that only kept them as maids. All the kids called me brownie on account of my permanent tan, or Indian because all the Indians they saw on TV were dark like me. I thought the gringos were all pink, not white, but I never said so. I was a quiet kid. Lonely, and a hell of a lot lonelier once my family became the featured topic on the nightly news.”

Whet your appetite?

So let’s get to the heart of the matter: the giveaway!

I’m giving away a signed copy of Patricia Engel’s short story collection. You can see a copy of the book in the photos of my “wiener dogs reading books” (Scarlet is above, and Ziggy is at bottom). The collection debuted in soft copy, as you see here, and it is signed by the author.

Here’s how to enter:
1) Leave a comment below. You can say anything you want–e.g., you can choose to tell me why you want a copy of the book, or tell me about an immigrant experience (or an experience in which you were a minority, not necessarily having to do with being a person of color), or a coming of age moment, or simply say you just rrrreally want a copy of the book. Do fill out your email address when you fill out the fields in the comment box (it won’t be published to the world, but I will need it in order to contact you in case you win)!
2) 1 entry per person
3) The giveaway is open worldwide.
4) If you win the contest, I will email you for your mailing address.
5) Winners will be chosen by a random number generator.
6) I will be announcing the contest winner on the blog. None of your personal information will be posted, aside from your first name and last initial (or the nickname you choose to list in your comment). If you see that someone else has entered the same name as you, please try to pick a different nickname to call yourself, just for sanity.
7) If you are below the age of 13, please ask your parents to fill out the comment field with their information.

The deadline to enter a comment is Wednesday August 10, 2011 1:00pm PST. The winner (picked at random) will be announced August 10, 2011 by 9:00pm PST.

Update: The winner is announced!
Ziggy the Wiener Dog reading Vida by Patricia Engel

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Filed under Giveaway, Reading

we interrupt regular programming…

My sweet potato has a vagina

….to announce that my sweet potato has a vagina.

That’s all.

3 Comments

Filed under Funny Things

writing slump

post-summer-cloudburst rainbow over the EV

I’m in such a writing slump. But really, it’s no different than any other summer, when as the outdoor temperature rises, I slide into writerly hibernation. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas–I have tons, much of it gained from workshop with Junot at VONA last month. I can see the end of this stage of revision. It’s an amazing feeling.

But you see, it’s not the ideas. It’s that the words don’t come. It’s maddening to see the finish line, but to feel unable to move towards that end.

I sit at my desk regularly, because faith is eventually rewarded; if you’re not at the steps waiting, you may miss the Muse when she decides to visit. The day the Muse visits is amazing–it’s like the dam breaks and all the words come flooding forth. But waiting is…well, it’s a turd.

In the interim, I’m keeping busy. I’ve lots of travel these days (I love travel!). And entertaining. And I’m reading. Feeding the ideas. And I’m scribbling down story and character development notes on my novel.

I’m also thinking about ways to get “unstuck.”

Firstly, I realized that part of why I was so stuck was that I was preoccupied with requested edits on a short story that was accepted for publication in a litmag.

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Filed under literary magazines, Novel, Publishing, Writing

Imaginary Girls giveaway: winner!

Wiener Dogs Reading Books: Ziggy, absorbed in Imaginary Girls

There’s a winner of the Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma giveaway!

Here’s the video of the drawing (sorry for the slight jostling, I was holding the camera up with my left hand and “self-taping”):

And if you don’t want to bother to watch the video and see me blink a million times and stifle an immature giggle when the winning number is generated (it took serious willpower not to laugh-until-I-barfed)…the winner is…
**SPOILER ALERT***

**SPOILER ALERT***

*drum roll please*

**SPOILER ALERT**

*drum roll*

*drum roll*

The commenter named ishita!
whose comment was:
“OMG i really really want to read this book! and i dont have a sister i have a brother lol 🙂
thanks for this giveaway!
ps. the doggie is beyond adorable !”

*cymbal clash!*

Congratulations to ishita–and thank you to all of you for supporting Nova Ren Suma’s book, and for being such avid readers. I hope those of you who wanted a copy and didn’t win, still manage to find yourselves a copy soon.

Methodology:
I assigned each of you a number, in the order of comments, and used a random number generator to pick a number between 1 and 90, as there were 90 entries. The generated number was matched with the assigned number of the contest entrants.

Trivia:
The winning number was 69 *insert stifled immature giggle*

The wiener dogs reading Imaginary Girls are Scarlet the Wiener Dog and Ziggy the Wiener Dog. I rescued both of them at separate times many years ago and they are now 18 and 14 years old, respectively. And yes, Nova has met them!

Stay tuned…I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Patricia Engel’s award winning short story collection Vida next!

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Filed under Giveaway, Reading

Imaginary Girls Giveaway!

Ziggy, absorbed in Imaginary Girls

My friend Nova Ren Suma wrote an incredible book, one that Publishers Weekly and the merciless Kirkus Book Reviews gave starred reviews. Most recently, it received a great review from the LA Times Book Review, lauding it a book “not just for kids.” (Makes sense. I loved it. And it’s been a long time since I was a teenager).

I wish this YA novel existed when I was in junior high. But better late than never.

I read Imaginary Girls on a stormy weekend and couldn’t put it down. As a writer, I admired the language and Nova’s expertise with setting–and as a reader, I loved Ruby and Chloe and the overall tension throughout the story. That I was reading the book throughout weekend-long Spring thunderstorms was even more fitting! Water is a prevalent theme throughout Imaginary Girls.

In addition to the aforementioned commendations, Imaginary Girls is creeeepy in this fantastic way. But NOT in a scary-creepy haunt your dreams way. (Believe me, I’m the kind of person who can’t watch any scary movies, not even “Scary Movie”). It’s creepy in this “OMG, I love this book and want to know what happens and why it happens and why do I have so many questions and why do I want to swim in a reservoir!” way. I hope you all read the book.

Opening lines:

Ruby said I’d never drown–not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone’s bottomless backyard pool. She said she’d seen me hold my breath underwater for minutes at a time, but to hear her tell it you’d think she meant days. Long enough to live down there if needed, to skim the seafloor collecting the shells and shiny soda caps, looking up every so often for the rescue lights, even if they took forever to come.

It sounded impossible, something no one would believe if anyone other than Ruby were the one to tell it. But Ruby was right: The body found that night wouldn’t be, couldn’t be mine.”

But now onto business…!

In honor of Nova’s book release, I’m hosting a giveaway of a signed hardcover copy of Imaginary Girls.

Here’s how to enter:
1) Leave a comment below. You can say anything you want–e.g., you can choose to tell me why you want a copy of the book, or tell me about a beloved sister (I don’t have one, and have always wanted a sister), or simply say you just rrrreally want a copy of the book. Do fill out your email address when you fill out the fields in the comment box (it won’t be published to the world, but I will need it in order to contact you in case you win)!
2) 1 entry per person
3) The giveaway is open worldwide.
4) If you win the contest, I will email you for your mailing address.
5) Winners will be chosen by a random number generator.
6) I will be announcing the contest winner on the blog. None of your personal information will be posted, aside from your first name and last initial (or the nickname you choose to list in your comment).
7) If you are below the age of 13, please ask your parents to fill out the comment field with their information.

The deadline to enter a comment is July 25, 2011 1:00pm EST. The winner (picked at random) will be announced July 25, 2011 at 9:00pm EST.

Update: The winner is announced!

Scarlet reading Nova's Imaginary Girls

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X is for x-ray

x-ray of a dachshund

1.
My first x-ray was in a New York City emergency room. I don’t remember how old I was, only that I was able to walk, had upper teeth, and yet still in the young days of non-remembering; perhaps I was two? Perhaps I was younger? My mother tells me, “You were screaming. You were so white. So pale!” (The sardonic side of me remembers my sun-phobic mom’s voice as sounding very proud when she claimed I was “pale”)

I had fallen on my face and shattered all my front teeth. They took dental x-rays.

I remember hopping up and down on the bed, up for a bite of apple, down for the jump, up for a bite of apple; that was how my grandma fed me sometimes, scraping the flesh out of an apple so that it was a soft spoon of fruit. I remember falling off the bed, tumbling to the floor, feeling pain. Or maybe that was after I broke my teeth, the scraped apple flesh for a toothless mouth.

My mother tells me I fell while running towards my father, who had just come home from work. I was ecstatic about my dad’s arrival, per the usual. But that day, I fell on my face.

The ER pulled all my teeth and eventually, crowns were put in. The crowns got infected later, so they were pulled. So, no front teeth for years. My dad liked to give me carrots and watch me demolish them with only back molars with which to chew.

I didn’t have front teeth until the second grade. And then, only my central incisors. So that I looked like Bugs Bunny. My dad liked to give me carrots and watch me eat them with my two front incisors.

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Filed under Alphabet: A History, Memes

Y is for Yellowstone

at Mammoth Hot Springs

I always wanted to take a cross-country automobile road trip, having never taken one as a small child. It just seemed so glamorous to me, so All-American; at the time, perhaps the two were linked securely in my mind. I wanted to sit in the backseat and watch the country roll by, eat McDonald’s, crash at roadside motels, wear the same outfit everyday in the same car. take pictures. As I grew older, I moved my seating position to the front passenger seat, but ever other detail of setting remained the same: shorts, sunglasses, fast food, a cooler full of snacks, a camera. It bloomed into a Romantic vision. I.wanted.to.do.this.

When I was eight years old, I announced my intention to my parents. “When I grow up I’m taking a road trip!”

With whom? They asked. They were bemused, I now realize.
By myself!
They were alarmed. It’s dangerous they said.
At the time I did not know why. I want to go, I said. I’ll go with a friend.
My father reassured me. You can go, just go with your husband.
I don’t have a husband.
When you have one.

Perhaps it’s no wonder I married a man who likes to drive, whose stress unwinds behind the wheel, the road unpeeling before him. He will drive for hours and hours and days on end.*

*Hrm. I just realized this trait and its link to a childhood goal. (Let me take a little time to bask in the epiphany).

But still–no mega-roadtrip for quite some time…until I was finally obliged in 2009. My husband drove. And drove. He drove through California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah. He drove us to Yellowstone via Tahoe and back home to San Francisco the long way through Vegas. It was not technically cross-country (we fulfilled that dream of mine, later), but it was a roadtrip by every definition.

I was blissed out. We ate McDonald’s. We ate at old greasy roadside places, some very bad, some very good. I wore the same outfit the entire time. We ate food out of a cooler in the back. Our dogs slept the entire way. There were long and comfortable silences. Sometimes we had long and comfortable conversations. Good tunes on satellite radio. Everywhere we turned, the beautiful world was outside the windows. Sometimes there were cloudbursts. And sometimes there were places where the earth was so parched it had cracked. Wyoming was beautiful. The buttes in Idaho astounded me. At times, I saw no Asian people for miles, but I still saw Chinese restaurants with signs in ching-chong wonton font.

I was placeless. The setting changed by the second, as Yellowstone neared by every second. It was like floating, like being in limbo, except not.

When people ask me about Yellowstone, I say it’s pretty much, alongside Yosemite, the most beautiful place in the lower 48 states. (I’ve never been to Alaska or to Hawaii, so I can’t speak for them). I couldn’t stop taking pictures. We saw a Mama moose and her baby moose. A bear. Bison. Bald eagles. Innumerable elk. And incredible light. And color palettes that stretched my imagination.

But it was also the journey there that I found beautiful.

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

***

Joining Heather’s Abecedary and Fog City Writer in working through the alphabet with short, memoir-like pieces. Except I’m going to go in reverse, beginning with “Z.” It’s called Alphabet: A History.

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Filed under Alphabet: A History, Memes