Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Still Having Adventures

Dear readers, I so hoped to post more in the way of adventures from my Super Nerd Literary Camp. But I believe the ghosts of Virginia City had it in for me. The day after my bank account got hacked, my Macbook suffered a kernel panic, whatever that is, and has refused to start up ever since. I am crushed.

But I am still having a wonderful time. Sure the 'kernel panic' has led to some real panic. But I'm able to put it aside.

Tomorrow we're off to Hartford, where I will hopefully have more adventures... including a trip to the Apple store.

Hope you're having adventures of your own!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer Adventure 2011: Adventures in Stress

I wish I could say that today's adventure was as exciting as yesterday's adventure: riding in an authentic stagecoach.  Alas, when I wasn't sitting in a fabulous lecture at Super Fun Adult Literary Nerd Camp, I was on the phone with Chase Bank.

For the fourth time since I signed on at Chase, five years ago, my account was hacked.  I came "home" after lunch today to discover that my account was $96 overdrawn.  This morning someone had drained my account.

Long story short, today was our one afternoon off, so we could go visit the museums and historic sites in Virginia City that usually close before our classes are over.  But, I spent my afternoon off on the phone with Chase trying to get someone to sympathize with how dire my situation is.

I don't own a credit card.  I had $2 in my wallet.  I called five times and probably spoke to 9 or 10 different people.  It took me more than half of those people for someone to understand that there's not a Chase Bank within... well, I never figured it out really, but more than 200 miles.  Definitely not in Nevada. Their go-to response was "go to a Chase and get a temporary card."  I kept telling them that I was in the middle-of-nowhere Nevada, with no means to travel and $2 in my wallet, and they just didn't seem to understand.  Finally I got someone who "got it" and did a really good job of fixing it to the best of her ability.

I'm still in a bad place.  Awful for a traveler, in fact. But with some finessing and the kindness of strangers, I should be okay.  I hope.

I mention this in the blog not for sympathy or because it characterized my day, but because this is the fourth time. And just last month, the same thing happened to Roommate-- maybe for the third time.

Despite the fact that I am attached to the people at my local Chase Bank in the Highlands, I think it's time I changed banks.

Anyway, after spending hours on the phone with Chase, I had to let off some steam before my evening classes began.  So I took a long walk, a grueling walk-- any walk in Virginia City is grueling.

Virginia City is on the side of a mountain, the streets that run perpendicular to the crest of the mountain are so steeply graded that sometimes it feels like you should be climbing on your hands and knees.  We're also at an elevation of 6K feet, and our hotel is at the lowest point in the city.  If you're walking with friends to town, the unspoken rule is that once you reach the main street after an exhausting climb, y'all just shut the heck up and spend a few minutes catching your breath before you move on.

Anyway, afternoon walk...  Walks are free.  Taking pictures of all the historic places is free.  So that's what I did. I needed to cleanse the noggin of all the ugly debit card issues and just BE here in Virginia City.

Tomorrow, I'll tell you why you shouldn't come to Virginia City expecting to see where Samuel Clemens became Mark Twain. And why you should.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Adventure 2011: Authentic Stagecoach Ride

This was my Adventure du Jour: an authentic stagecoach ride with  TNT Stagelines in Virginia City, NV.  It only lasted a couple of minutes but it was both more exciting and scarier than I thought it would be.  Cowboy Gary gets those pretty painted ponies up to 24MPH just inches from a sheer drop-off into the canyon there.

This is the last authentic stagecoach ride in the world, says Gary... the word "authentic" being key.  Hollywood westerns have romanticized stagecoach rides as calm and classy.  But the original stagecoaches rode hard and fast over bumpy terrain for days at a time with stops every 8-10 miles to change horses.  Sure, they didn't go 24MPH all that time, says Gary.  Only if "the bad guys were chasing them."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Out of Office: See Y'all in August

So long... farewell...

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I'm gearing up to head out of town for a month while I attend a Super Awesome Adult Nerd Literary Camp.

Jinkies, folks. I've spent the whole day mired in some serious pre-trip anxiety.  Worry worry worry, fret fret.  I do this every time I travel, but this one feels especially hard.

I'll be gone for a month or so, and that feels like a really long time. And frankly, I've been having a really great time in Louisville this summer.  I haven't done as much "stuff" as I wanted, but I've been spending time with my awesome family of friends, and I hate pulling the plug on that for a month. I haven't had a group of friends this big since college, and I don't think I've had a group of friends I've liked this much since... ever. Also, I'm embarking on an adventure where I'll be spending 21+ days with 20+ strangers, and I'm not really a people person. (Yes, it may seem that that statement contradicts the one that precedes it. But it takes me a long time to warm up to people.  I've warmed up to my Louisville friend family.)  I just had a conversation about this with Roommate.  He said, "What are you so afraid of?"

Me: "Mean people."

Roommate: "Don't worry. You'll probably be the meanest one there."

Thanks, dude.

Anyway, I'm not sure how well information flows through the internet tubes in Virginia City, NV, where I will be for two weeks. But you can probably expect a slow-down in posting here on Loueyville.com.  Honestly, I don't know what the Verizon service will be like too, so you can probably expect a slowdown on the Tweetybox as well.

More importantly, because I'm not going to be in town til August, I won't have my ear to the ground about upcoming events and goings-on in town.  So if you hear of good stuff you think I should be posting about, please email me stat at lou (at) loueyville.com.  Or just email me to say hi.

In the meantime, follow me on Twitter (@loueyville) to hear about my adventures in Nevada and then in Connecticut (and then all over New England as I visit the New England Lous).  I'll miss you folks.  Have a fabulous July, and try not to have too much fun without me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Commuter" Rates offered for Breakout Novel Intensive

A couple of days ago, I blogged about the exciting Breakout Novel Intensive with Donald Maass that is coming to Louisville September 19-25.  After I posted, I emailed the lovely Lorin Oberweger, program director, and asked her: "What if Louisville folks are interested in attending the event but would rather stay at their own homes?"

Her (wise) response was:
I do offer a limited number of commuter spots... [but] It's such an all-day kind of affair that I hate for people to miss out on anything, and on opportunities to socialize with Don, staff, and other students... I think people, even locals, should come and let themselves "retreat" a bit and get away from family and pets and bills, etc.

Good advice for sure.  But, locals, she's offering $400 off the workshop if you'd rather commute.

My experience with these kinds of intensive retreats is that the socializing and networking does, indeed, extend way beyond the normal workshop hours.  And while I have no doubt you'll come away from the workshop with loads of new insight into your writing, sometimes it's those personal connections you make during those off-hours that matter most.  Those extra hours are why I now count Roommate and Lorin as two of my dearest friends.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Will Lavender at Carmichael's

New York Times best-selling novelist (and Louisvillager), Will Lavender, will be appearing at the Frankfort Avenue Carmichael's this Thursday at an event celebrating the release of his newest thriller Dominance.

The brief blurb on the Carmichael's website has me intrigued:
Set on a college campus in 1994, with a controversial night class, Unraveling a Literary Mystery, taught from prison by literature professor Richard Aldiss, who was serving a life sentence for murdering two female grad students 12 years before, Dominance is an outstanding psychological thriller.
Lavender is a friend of Roommate's and has taught at Writers Retreat Workshop.  I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him, but I look forward to seeing him on Thursday.  I plan on taking his first book, Obedience, which has been on my to-read list forever, with me on my month-long trip.

The event starts at 7pm and is, of course, free.  Hope to see you there.

Not Always Good News Lou

Admittedly, I've had my panties in a bunch all day.  I overslept this morning (not for anything in particular, but it set my day wrong from the start).  Then I woke up and saw that someone was bitching about my grammar on last night's blog post and then excusing her bitching by saying that she "had to comment" because she was a teacher (Yes, folks, I'm a teacher. An English teacher, to boot. The grammar issue was that I had used "that" instead of "who" when referring to a group of people**.). And then Roommate was still so sick, and I felt bad because I basically made him come out to the Waterfront show on the 4th when he really should have stayed home in bed.  (It was really fun, and he had lots of fun, but still... bad best friend).  And then, and then...

But even so, I'm not always the Good News Blogger.  (That's here-- and by the way, she won 3rd place for Best Louisville Website from Louisville Magazine this month... and while I'm gearing up to bitch: THIRD place? Really? We can do better folks.)  So there's this:

I can't believe more people aren't talking about the fact that we had THREE murders in Louisville on July 5. Them's New Orleans numbers, folks. There was a murder-suicide at LG&E this afternoon, and two young men were shot in the middle of the night at Sheppard Square in Smoketown. Totally tragic. Three murders on the same day means that yesterday represented 10% of the murders for the whole year so far for Louisville.

And barely a peep.  Heck, you know that I love WFPL with a burning NPR-geek love, but the Sheppard Square homicides didn't even warrant a mention on their news blog.  (If the Courier-Journal is in a downward spiral-- which it is-- we need to look to someone to pick up the slack, and I'm hoping it will be WFPL.)

But you know why we didn't hear torrents of dismay on the Twitterbox and in the mainstream media in general?  Because everyone and their sweet little Auntie Mae were frothing at the mouth about the Casey Anthony verdict. This generation's OJ Simpson (who wasn't even a sexy former-NFL-player/actor before the crime-- oh come on now, he was sexy) hogged the airwaves and threatened to crash the interwebs.

Remember what I said about media not existing in a vacuum?  That every newspaper (like the C-J) is moving closer to being the mutant offspring of Sports Illustrated and People Magazine?  The media is giving the People what they want.  The Nancy Graces of the world exist because people WANT THEM TO.

According to Twitter (and I have no evidence that this is spot-on truth, but the number seems reasonable), in 2008-- the year that Caylee Anthony was murdered (or died in a pool, or whatever)-- 569 children under the age of 4 were murdered.  Heinous, tragic, awful.  As someone who is not necessarily childless by choice, I always have a steaming, irrationally extreme hatred for anyone who mistreats a child.  A child is a gift and a blessing and a miracle.  If you're lucky enough to have one (or two or nineteen), be the best parent you can possibly be. It's the most important job you'll ever have.

We did this, folks.  We created Casey Anthony, "Media Superstar."  And not only did she overshadow all national news today (oil spill in Montana, anyone?), she overshadowed the important news that 10% of the murders for 2011 in Louisville were committed today.  And that made this already-too-cynical blogger more cynical than ever.  We need to be better than this.

*gets off soapbox, kicks it over, and exits stage right*

** Yes, the grammar was wrong.  No, I'm not going to fix it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Breakout Novel Intensive: Coming to Kentuckiana Soon!

So, y'all know I'm a (kind of) closet novelist-wannabe. And loyal readers of this blog know that Roommate is the Big Kahuna of Writers Retreat Workshop (WRW), from which I recently returned (We met there, in fact, in 2002, and we've been BFFs ever since).  This year's WRW was especially good-- a great batch of passionate writers, some exciting visiting staff, and of course a core group of returning staff and students that keep this writers' boot camp vibrant each year.  

Through my friendship with Roommate and my affiliation with Writers Retreat Workshop, I've gotten to know some fabulous people in the fiction-writing biz: writers, editors, publishers, mentors, and teachers.  One of the best teachers of fiction-writing I've met is Donald Maass, head of the Donald Maass Literary Agency in NYC and author of a number of books on writing, including Writing the Breakout Novel and Fire in Fiction. His agency's client list features best-selling authors like Todd McCaffrey, Anne Perry, and Jim Butcher. Don is not only an excellent teacher, but he's a really good guy and a good friend.

Lorin Oberweger, writer, program director, and independent editor, is also a dear friend and a fantabulous cheerleader when it comes to inspiring creative-types.  And this year Lorin's company, Free Expressions, is bringing Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Intensive Workshop to our neck of the woods, September 19-25.

From the website:

This retreat and workshop includes:
  • All meals and comfortable, private sleeping accommodations with private baths.
  • Morning classes with Donald Maass, geared toward building students’ specific projects using concepts covered in his popular, Writing the Breakout Novel book and workbook.
  • A private thirty-minute consultation with Donald Maass, who will read the first fifty pages of each student’s manuscript.
  • A private consultation with Editor-in-Residence and Program Director Lorin Oberweger.
  • Opportunities to confer with other professional writers on staff.
  • Afternoon and evening writing time and voluntary critique groups.
  • Group follow–up discussions and pitch practice with Donald Maass.
  • Complimentary copy of the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.
In order to ensure an intimate and productive environment for our students, enrollment is strictly limited to thirty–five writers. Participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so please register early.

If you enroll by July 15, you receive $75 off.  For more information, visit the Free Expressions website.

If you're a fiction writer or if you've got a fire in your noggin about being a fiction writer, this is truly an amazing opportunity.  As an aspiring novelist, I can't tell you how valuable it is to have the chance to have a Big Time New York Agent read 50 pages of your novel.  Usually it takes a barrage of query letters (that you've edited and adjusted a dozen times) just to get an agency to give you the time of day (no offense to my agent friends).  For a lot of us, this service is almost worth the price of the entire workshop.

Not only are Don and Lorin a power duo of teacher/mentors, but the always awesome Roommate is on staff too.  If I could take the time off from work, I would be there for the whole thing; as it is, I'm certainly going to try to capitalize on my friendships with these folk to take advantage of some of the after-work and weekend activities.  I hope to see you there.

Brief gripe: How can the Sheraton Louisville call itself the Sheraton "Louisville" if it's in Jeffersonville, Indiana? Ugh, that bites my butt. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July: Best Going Away Party Ever!

If you follow me on Twitter (@loueyville), you probably know that I will be vacating the city for a month next weekend. I'm attending a Super Awesome Adult Literary Nerd camp in Nevada and Connecticut and then spending a week visiting with all the New England Lous.

I spent this past week visiting with my lovely Louisville friends, catching up and saying goodbye for the time being.

Just a side note: I know I say this often, but it bears repeating for the social media doubters out there (if you're reading this blog, I'm probably preaching to the choir.)...  between Waterfront Wednesday, a lunch date with eight amazing women, a splendid Shabbat dinner, and a trip to the Le Grange quarry, I probably met up with two dozen people this week.  You know how many I met through this blog or Twitter? 100%. Man, I love you people.

Anyway, my social calendar for the next week before I leave is surprisingly empty, and it's just as well.  There's lots of prep for this trip, and I have a ton of projects on my summer to-do list that are incomplete or have been ignored.

But it's Fourth of July weekend, and I'm telling you, I feel like the Waterfront Park folks are throwing a Going Away party especially for me.  July 4th's free show on the Waterfront features three amazing bands: The Funky METERS, De La Soul, and Fitz & the Tantrums. If you were to ask me what kind of music I like, I could pretty much sum it up by pointing to this line-up.

The METERS are a New Orleans institution.  They've been around since the late 60's, off and on.  And they feature members of the most iconic musical families in New Orleans: Art Neville, Joseph Batiste, George Porter Jr.  If you're a fan of HBO's TREME (and if you're not, you should be... amazing), you need to be at this show.

De La Soul was a band that was in constant rotation on my CD player in college.  They're hip-hop light with smart lyrics and a fantastic groove.  And Fitz & the Tantrums' song "Money Grabber" is easily one of my top five favorite recent songs.

This is a line-up that was created for me.  This is my kind of music, people, and I am so terrifically excited (I could take or leave the fireworks, frankly).

The gates open at 5pm.  No outside food or beverages, except sealed water bottles.  You can also bring a 32oz or smaller refillable water bottle (but it must be empty).  Y'all should have a late lunch/early dinner before heading down, although there will be vendors.  Chairs, blankets, umbrellas = all okay.

Don't forget that the Bats are also in town, so parking near Waterfront Park is going to be a real bugger.  Check out your local TARC busses.  Some routes are canceled for the holiday.  There will be a bike valet available, so if you know how to ride a bike (alas, I do not), that's going to be your best bet.

So thank you, Waterfront Park folks, for throwing me the best Going Away Party!  I am counting the hours, and I will dance my pants off.

PS: Louisville is really loving me this year.  Not only is this a great Going Away party, but August's Waterfront Wednesday concert is on my birthday.  Save the date!