|Opening Alliance of Artists Communities nat'l conference|
This week began with the arrival of the copy edits for Every Broken Trust, needing to be turned around quickly, a deadline for two major freelance projects, and a poetry reading to kick off the national conference of the Alliance of Artists Communities, a fabulous organization I'm proud to have worked with for some time. Because of all the deadlines, I missed the sessions of the conference I had hoped to attend. A real loss for me since I've attended it before and know what a remarkable, creative conference this is!
Friday, having finished the copy edits and met my freelance deadlines, I headed to Topeka, KS, for an author event at the Topeka Library in the afternoon (they were hosting a conference of Kansas librarians) and to join fellow Latino Writers Collective members and old friends, Jose Faus and Gabriela Lemmons, to give a poetry reading at the Dia de los Muertos Festival that evening. It was so much fun doing these Topeka gigs! I have lots of family and friends there, and my sister and her best friend came to the library event and hung out with Ben and me all afternoon. Then, we drove to the arts district in North Topeka, where the Day of the Dead Festival was being held. There I encountered my sister-in-law and niece and three of my cousins-in-law, and we were joined by my nephew and his girlfriend, as well as by a couple who have been friends of Ben's and mine for many years. Old home week!
The evening festivities with our poetry reading were the final events in a festival that brought weeks of art exhibits and workshops, musical performances, children's programs, and incredible traditional dance performances to the Topeka community. This was the first year for this celebration, but it was large, multifaceted, and extremely successful.
We read poetry to an attentive standing-room-only audience (including a state judge and a city council member) in a gallery with Day of the Dead art and ofrendas, altars filled with remembrances of deceased loved ones, and ate pan dulce (Mexican pastries) and drank Mexican hot chocolate afterward while calaca mariachis strolled the street outside serenading passersby.
After a late supper with extended family and a good night's rest, Ben and I raced to Kansas City to arrive at Mysteryscape, the newest independent bookstore in the Kansas City area, so I could participate in a reading and discussion celebrating the publication of Kansas City Noir, an anthology of short crime fiction. Editor Steve Paul led contributors, Catherine Browder, Nancy Pickard, and myself as we discussed the book, our individual stories, and the whole genre or phenomenon of noir fiction to another SRO crowd of enthusiastic members of the Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime plus members of the general public. After a spirited question and answer session, we then signed books for about half an hour.
We are so lucky to have had a fine bookstore like Mysteryscape open in downtown Overland Park (a Kansas City suburb). I have friends in other parts of the country who've lost all their independent bookstores. We have Rainy Day Books, one of the best known indie bookstores in the country and a great treasure, Reading Reptile, a nationally known children's bookstore, The Raven, a great indie bookstore in Lawrence, Prospero's, a local chain of used bookstores that's also active in the author and book events scene. And now, we have Mysteryscape, as well. With its enthusiastic and savvy young owners who are extremely author- and community-supportive, I expect it to be quite successful and to be around for many years to come.
If you live in the Kansas City area and have never been to Mysteryscape, make a trip there next Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. when I'll be interviewing Joy Castro, author of the award-winning literary memoir, The Truth Book, and her new critically acclaimed thriller, Hell or High Water. Joy is a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her novel looks at a post-Katrina New Orleans where registered sex offenders have fallen off the radar, young women are being murdered, and a young reporter decides to investigate at the risk of her own life.
And now I'm off to more freelance deadlines, an author event at 6:00 p.m. on November 13 at the Rolling Hills Library in St. Joseph, MO, another at 1:00 p.m.on November 15 at the Platte City Study Club in Platte City, MO, and later in the month a trip to Providence, RI. I'll be writing a new book during this time also. At least, I'm never bored. When we get a little frazzled, Ben and I console each other with the thought that we're living rich, full lives.