Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Reading #2 - More Disaster, But! Margaret Maron!

So, my poor husband is a paramedic. And he was working Saturday night AND Sunday night. Needless to say, he needed to sleep Sunday afternoon during the book signing at Quail Ridge Books. So my FIRST PLAN(tm) was to get a friend to go with me, ply her with sushi to bribe her into helping me wrangle kids while I did authorly things, and then go home, having let the husband sleep a full four hours in a row without any toddler or baby noise.

What Paramedics look like if they don't get any sleep. 
The plan went swimmingly along to the point that we were halfway through a third of an ocean's worth of sushi, when my three year old daughter, (who had been uncharacteristically quiet and laying down on the bench.) sat up, and vomited. I took her to the bathroom and cleaned her up, changing her clothes, and quietly panicking. I had promised to attend the signing, and I take my commitments seriously. I was hoping that perhaps she just choked, when the second wave hit. Hope died with the forth wave.

My friend and I start hashing out SECOND PLAN(tm) where she would take my car (because car seats), drop me and the eight-month old off at the bookstore, drive my daughter home to my soon-to-be-crushingly-disappointed-husband, then drive my car back to the bookstore (a forty minute round trip at least) to take over baby wrangling so I could use a pen without my son adding drool-marks to people's books.

She is a very, very good friend. I do not deserve her.

There was more vomit. (PLEASE HURRY AND BRING THE CHECK BEFORE WE ARE ALL BURIED IN VOMIT!) There was more cleaning.  I left a massive tip and apologized about ninety times to the waitress. The Font of All Things Gross threw up in the foyer on the way out, in front of the owner. I insisted my friend smell me to see if I smelled like puke. She said I was fine.

I am still hoping that she was correct. I put on perfume anyways. I never wear perfume, but I carry a tiny perfume roll-on. Just. In. Case. We proceeded with SECOND PLAN.

I arrived at the signing, and no one got strange looks on their faces after standing next to me for a few minutes, or started sniffing. The reading went well, if not very well attended. But among the attendees were Margaret Maron and Molly Weston!

Back row, left to right: me, Joanie Conwell, Margaret Maron, Calvin Hall, Toni Goodyear, Linda Johnson, Marjorie Ann Mitchell.  Front row, left to right: Antoinette Brown, Tamara Ward, Karen Pullen - Photo courtesy of Molly Weston

I did my reading, enjoyed my fellow authors' readings, and then I made a beeline for Margaret Maron to ask if she would be willing to sign a book if I went and bought one very quickly. She kindly agreed, and I ran for the shelves. One of my most beloved friends is a Maron fan, so I bought the latest one and got it signed for her. :D
Hey look, I'm an author! (Photo courtesy of Joanie Conwell)

I also had a chance to chat with Ms. Weston, even though I put my foot in my mouth a few times. At this point I'm surprised my accent isn't described as Pedestrian. She was very generous with both information and suggestions for a budding author, and it was a pleasure to meet her!

When I got home, I found out that the baby girl had gone straight to bed, so the husband had gotten a little sleep. When she woke up, she was fine and ate three peanut-butter and honey sandwiches and three ice pops and two glasses of ginger ale. So all's well and all that jazz. WHEE BOOK SIGNING #2.

Number three is coming up August 9th at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

"I bet you have a really good camera..." and other things not to say to a professional photographer

So I was asked for a head shot for advertising at an author reading upcoming at the end of July.

Crap. I desperately needed a haircut, I wasn't sure where my make-up ended up, (or even the last time I wore make-up.) and there was no way that any studio was going to be someplace I could go and get a picture taken with two small children in tow.

Luckily, the master stylist at the Regis Salon had an opening in her schedule, and the only downside was having to occupy the children for 45 minutes beforehand. She cut, she styled, she pretended my children were delightful. (They were fairly well-behaved, but still. An eight month old and a three year old? Not cool.)

And I took a picture with my phone! (Just to record what it looked like fresh from the stylist.)
Hey look, I'm a mommy sitting at the playground in the mall taking selfies! (I hate myself so much right now..)
Okay, I think we can all agree that a) I need to wear make-up, and b) I have no knowledge regarding the art of taking pictures.

Luckily, I know a VERY talented photographer named Charlotte Hayes of Shutterbug Creations.  If you need a head shot in the Raleigh-Durham area, call her. You will be soooo glad you did. Experienced, professional, and amazingly relaxing to be around.

We chatted about some of the rude things people say to professional photographers. 

"I bet you have a really good camera."  - Translation: Skill, experience, talent? Pfui. Just get a really expensive camera, and YOU TOO CAN BE ANSEL ADAMS.  Don't say this. A good photographer can get a good shot with a dollar-store click-n-point. They're not GOING to, but they COULD.

"Well, it's not like a real job." - Translation: Why are you charging me so much money? This is a real job, with a real skill and a real talent. You know this, that's why you called the professional in the first place, remember? If you can't afford the professional photographer at their valuation, then you can't afford the professional photographer.

"How about you come do XXXX for free? It'll be (say it with me class) GREAT EXPOSURE."  Translation: I don't want to pay you, but I want better pictures than my Aunt Louise can take with her phone. News flash: Photographers can not pay the rent with exposure. And Harris Teeter won't take it, even on triple coupon weekends.

No. It is not the camera. It is the person behind the camera who knows how to position you so that the background provides the right light and shadows, which side to shoot from so the uneven features of your face somehow look normal, how to catch that second where you relax from rictus-grin into normal smile. And that is worth paying for.

Hey, I look NORMAL. And my lips have reappeared. No one would say, "Hey look at that poor woman, I bet she hasn't brushed her hair in two weeks." about THIS person.

And, the other fantastic thing about Charlotte? She came to MY house, where my children could occupy themselves without damaging incredibly expensive lighting equipment, gave me advice on clothes and makeup for the photo, scouted out her shot location, and from start to finish, she only needed fifteen minutes of the minimum hour to get the perfect picture. In fact, I would have been ecstatic with any of the pictures she took.

She also cropped and centered the photo properly, cleaned the lipstick off my teeth and softened some of the frizz in Photoshop, and probably did a lot of other titchy, fiddly things that made this photo so amazingly good.

So yes. If you need professional pictures for anything, call Charlotte of Shutterbug Creations.

...What do I normally look like?

While I'm not always in armor, I usually do eat with my hands. Who has time for plates and forks?! Getting a plate is enough time for a toddler to get into the play-doh and try to fill the holes in the door knobs because "They're broken mommy!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

First Publication Credit and Book Signing Party!

11 of the 19 authors - I'm the second from the right in the back row, next to Polly Iyer. Photo courtesy of Robin Mizell
So this last Sunday was the book Launch party for Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing, in which my short story, The Bad Son, can be found on page 10. Margaret Maron wrote the introduction to the book, and selected my story to be the first one, as well as mentioning it in her introduction.


The husband had to work, but thanks to a VERY good friend, who ended up mostly watching my three year old and seven-month old for me, I was able to attend. It was a very well attended party, with over 80 people there!

Karen Pullen introduced the book, (our fabulous editor and fellow author AND President of the Sisters in Crime chapter), and the three-year old blew a pigtail and started to freak out. I was trying to put it back in place when I heard, "And our first reader is Britni Patterson!"  Everyone turned around to see me fumbling with a pigtail and a deer-in-headlights look.

Luckily, I have much practice in reading aloud, since I do it every night, so I introduced myself, bounced about it being my first publication credit, and read the first page, since I wasn't sure how long it would take. (Karen had asked everyone to time their "speech/reading" for five minutes. I didn't have time to practice beforehand, so I decided to go short rather than risk it.)

Then there was a poopy diaper, so I missed the next two readings, but got back in time for the rest. It was so cool meeting everyone and putting faces to names. Afterwards there was a chaotic signing of books, with 11 authors and various readers all trying to get all 11 signatures on their books and trying to remember who was an author and who wasn't! There was also a carrot cake of much deliciousness, and a lot of food including a cheese board, smoked salmon platter, wraps, crudites, and a fruit plate. Also some Prosecco of deliciousness.

WOOO HOOO! I'm all published! Now to get the novel published...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This is worth reading.

I love Seanan McGuire.  Someday if I write something as powerful and moving as this, I will feel like I have accomplished something in this world.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This article is awesome for writers

I gotta tell you though. Mornings? I am not a morning person. It is going to KILL me when the bug starts school and I'm going to have to get up regularly at six to get her butt on a bus.

I am a write at night person.  My daily routine looks like this.

7:00 - 8:30  - Cuddle the buggit who wakes up cranky when Daddy leaves the house.
8:30 - 10:00 - Either errands or Zumba
10:00 - 11:30 - Try to convince the baby to eat lunch, try to remember to eat lunch myself, start laundry.
11:30 - 3:30 - Somewhere in here is babysitting time, where I watch a friend's toddler of similar age/size to my own.
3:30 - 5:30 - Baby naptime.  Prepping dinner / Cleaning house.
5:30-6:30 - Write club on Wednesdays.  More dinner prep / cleaning otherwise.
6:30 - 7:30 - Weight lifting on MWF, other errands that didn't get done earlier.
7:30 - 8:30 - Dinner time
8:30 - 9:00 - Screw around on the internet time!
9:00 - 10:00 - Baby bath and bedtime ritual.
10:00 - 12:30 - WRITING TIME.  Which is also emailing queries time, writing blog status time, writing other emails I hadn't finished previously, other projects like my calligraphy & illumination work, and generally anything else I want to do sans baby.

Sometimes when I get on a hot streak, writing time gets extended to 2:30.  However, since the baby wakes up three or four times a night, this is a dangerous, dangerous tactic.

This too will pass though.I just have to keep telling myself that.  What are your favorite writing times?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

New member!

So I'm excited! Our writers' group, called Write Club!, may soon have a new member. When I first floated the idea of a writers' group on the classroom forum of my creative writing class, I admit I was terrified. There are so many stories of the "bad" sort of writers' groups.

For example...

Or this...

"What's wrong? "
"The group said they hate the Oxford comma! I'm never going back!"
I do not blame you seal. I do not blame you.

And Google will give you a thousand more links to similar stories. And yet, when only two people responded, I was still disappointed. But we were lucky.  We met for the first time two years ago, established a set of guidelines for meetings, and have been meeting regularly ever since. 

We're tiny, which helps. There are only three of us which makes it easy to act like adults, but we also have very distinct perspectives so there is no "echo chamber" effect.  We talked early on about going public, but one of our members had attended several other writers' groups with the more toxic results. So we set a rule that we would go to an "invitation only" status instead of Public Russian Roulette. We wanted to maintain the quality of our group, and while there was some worry about becoming stagnant, we figured the risk wasn't worth the reward.

But at my latest meeting of the Triangle Sisters in Crime chapter, there was a lady who was looking for a critique group. She was interesting, engaged, and I could smell the "serious writer" on her. She also made insightful comments during the meeting, and displayed a sense of humor, and I think she'll make a great addition, if it works for her. (She has about a 45 minute travel time one way, which is a bit much, but we'll see.)

I will also say that we have one member who meets long distance via Skype, and that works out fine for us, because we email our submissions and critiques out before the meeting, so we have all the notes and the face-to-computer discussion works well. We may have to look into some more web-conferencing stuff like Google hangouts.

Also, we are in favor of the Oxford comma and will defend it to the DEATH.