Archive for category ephemera

the things you find

Reminder: I’m reading tonight at Lady Jane’s Salon in New York City.

It’s been an interesting few days in New York.

I stayed up until 1am March 1 to register for GayRomLit in Albuquerque. (I will learn to spell “Albuquerque” without looking it up before October!) I did not hesitate even a second before registering, and I’m really excited to be going again.

On Thursday, my friend A and I went to a reading at a tiny Brooklyn bookstore (Word in Greenpoint). We saw Eloisa James, Maya Rodale, and Sarah MacLean, all historical romance writers. A and I have been attending all manner of romance-related events in NYC and having a really great time. Granted, part of that is just fangirling over authors we really like, but we’ve also gotten the chance to talk to both readers and writers who are just as enthusiastic about the romance genre as we are.

Anyway, the “reading” was run more as a panel discussion, and one of the first things the panel talked about was writing. Some of their suggestions were solid if maybe standard writerly advice: read a lot, constantly work on craft, etc. But one suggestion they made was to make friends who are about at your stage in the publishing process. I hadn’t really thought of that before; I’ve only really started seriously networking with other authors over the last six months or so, but it’s nice to have that support network.

The discussion also included some questions on gay romance, although the focus was more on lesbian romance. Someone posed the question: if attitudes about women’s sexuality are changing within romance novels (which everyone agreed they are) is there room for bisexual or lesbian heroines? That stumped the panel, who weren’t sure what the barrier to success for lesbian romances was. I’d like to think f/f books can succeed; someone I talked to after the panel suggested there just needed to be a critical mass of really good ones before they became a phenomenon. (I don’t really buy that there’s no interest in lesbian romance, which is an argument I’ve heard a lot.)

Speaking of women, Friday night I did something I’d never done before. I went on a girls’ night out to nerdy burlesque. When we were waiting on line to get into the theater, one of my friends remarked that this was one of those strange, possibly Only In New York things. The show had a Batman theme, and most of the dancers wore costumes based on villains from the comic books. I think my favorite was the woman who dressed up as the Joker; her interpretation was based on the Heath Ledger Joker, and she stripped down to a nurse’s uniform before showing off her pasties that were made to look like tiny hand grenades. It was pretty awesome. (I’d never been to a burlesque show before, but I’d heard that a lot of the ones in New York are very pro-woman. I’d say that was true here. The audience was respectful but appreciative, for example. It was fun and not sleazy.)

A good friend of mine from college came to NYC this weekend, so we spent Saturday afternoon together doing dumb touristy things. I rarely do things like that—hell, I rarely leave Brooklyn these days—but I think it’s fun sometimes to see the city from the perspective of people who don’t live here. I forget sometimes what it’s like. For example, I had a job on Fifth Avenue for a long time. It was a few blocks from Rockefeller Center and I got so used to walking through that area every day that navigating it felt like more of a nuisance than a wonder. But as my friend and I were walking up Fifth on Saturday, she kept pointing stuff out, and I kept thinking, “Oh, yeah. That is pretty cool.” It’s nice to have some of the magic back.

So tonight, I’ve got the big reading, then later this month is the Rainbow Book Fair. I’m currently working on edits for Out in the Field, my upcoming romance between two baseball players. (That comes out at the end of April.) So March is busy!

getting ready for New Orleans!

Just in the nick of time, the last of the goodies I ordered for GayRomLit showed up in the mail today!

I’ve got postcards featuring my two latest books, and I’ve got bookplates (by which I mean I ordered some stickers that I’ll sign for people to put in their books). The bookplates are a leetle bit smaller than what I was expecting, so I guess that’ll teach me to read dimensions more closely, but otherwise these look great.

And these bookmarks are traveling ahead of me:

I ordered enough so that every one at the convention gets a bookmark. (I designed them myself. I’m kind of proud of my design skills.)

I’m sort of alternating between Eeee! and Holy Crap! I’m really excited for the trip—I’ve never been to New Orleans before and have been wanting to for a while—but I feel like September lasted all of five minutes and suddenly it’s here and I still have a bunch of things to do.

Other newsy things:

I’m now on Kindlegraph, so Kindle users can request virtual signatures from me. My author page is here.

And Across the East River Bridge will be out on Tuesday!

blog posts have I loved

I probably owe you a blog post.

I’ve been alternately busy and under the weather for the last couple of weeks, but here’s a quickie rundown:

I had a spectacular time at the Rainbow Book Fair in New York a little over a week ago. I met a bunch of other Dreamspinner authors (most of whom came in from out of town!) and I talked to some readers. I was still buzzing from it a few days afterwards, so now I can’t wait for my next event. (There are a couple of conventions I want to attend if I can rub enough pennies together to pay the registration fees. And I will for sure be at GayRomLit in New Orleans in October.)

Baseball’s back! I’ve got my fantasy team all drafted. The regular season has started. The Yankees are hitting lots of home runs. It’s good. (I’m currently watching the Yankees vs Twins game. Non-fans, let me introduce you to Joe Mauer.)

I’ve started a new novel that requires reading a lot of comic books as research, which is a hardship as I’m sure you can imagine. (Over the weekend, I read a Superman series from the mid-90s in which Superman had terrible long hair. Who thought that was a good idea?)

Well, anyway. I keep getting distracted by the game, so I’ll end it here. Hope you all have great weeks!

hodge podge

I’ve been contemplating the relative merits of setting up a mailing list or Yahoo group. If you have opinions, let me know in the comments!

The weather took a weird turn, and it’s been cold and rainy all week, which is making me feel kind of blah, which is not very good for my productivity.

I saw the Yankees play Sunday in the rain. I have Mets tickets for this coming Sunday, and it’ll be my first time at Citifield.

I’m setting up a new workspace in the spare room in my apartment. It’s turning out to be a greater undertaking than I first imagined, but right now I’ve got a desk that faces the window. I have a grand view of… the apartment building across the street. Weirdly, hardly anyone in that building bothered with curtains, and I can see into many of the windows. This is good for making up stories about what the people there are up to. Which I learned on Saturday while I sat at the desk for a few hours to test drive the space.

I’ve got a lot of projects going right now; concrete news and pub dates and things coming up as soon as I know them, so if I don’t create a mailing list, watch this space!

vacation and review

I’m currently on vacation in South Florida, learning the hard way how my pasty Irish skin reacts to the sun down here. (I am TOASTY, y’all.) It’s great, though. I mean, it’s very hot, but it’s nice to not be in New York and also to not have to worry about things that stress me out at home.

In news that is the opposite of stressful, In Hot Pursuit got a 5-star review from Sensual Reads. They had this to say:

Emotionally charged and action packed, In Hot Pursuit by Kate McMurray will work its way into your heart and soul.

Hooray! I’m gonna go back what I’ve been doing, which is mainly nothing. It’s great!

sunshine and the city

Due to construction at my office, I’ve been blessed with a rare Friday off. I took the subway into Manhattan, I’m currently in a cafe near Astor Place, having taken a rather lengthy walk through the West Village, mostly enjoying the astonishingly beautiful weather (it should be 70°F and sunny all the time!) but also looking for inspiration.

One of the things that I love/hate about New York City is that it’s always changing. I walked by a restaurant this afternoon that must have closed recently, because I’m sure I ate there a couple of months ago. The restaurant has been there a while, since I remember eating there with my mother after we took a tour of NYU back when I was applying to college. It was strange to see the awning gone, the for-sale sign in the window.

When I was a teenager, my friends and I would take the bus from my hometown in the Jersey suburbs into Port Authority—which I still kind of think of as the eighth level of hell, though it’s been cleaned up considerably—and we almost always took the subway down to the West Village. We were mostly lower-middle-class kids, so we never had a lot of money. One of our favorite occupations was thrift-store shopping, and it used to be that you could wander around the Village and pop in and out of stores that would sell you clothes by the pound.

The first time I walked down Christopher Street was kind of an accident. It was a couple of years after I moved to New York City. I was lost. It’s not hard to get lost in the Village; it’s literally off the grid, not even the numbered streets running parallel. I was trying to get to a bar on West 4th Street (which, much to my great disappointment, closed a couple of years ago) and I’d made a stop first at some store, and then I just started walking in the direction I was pretty sure was west. And then I realized I was on Christopher Street which, at the time, was all glitter and rainbow flags.

Today, it felt a little sterile. Maybe it was just the sun. Maybe everyone’s in Washington Square Park. The Stonewall Inn is, naturally, still bedecked with more rainbow flags than any building you’ve ever seen, but the rest of the stretch I walked today looked surprisingly nondescript. Across the street, all of the benches in Christopher Park were occupied, people sharing space with the statues, painted white, which I thought looked kind of ghostly (maybe the intention?). The statues commemorate the Stonewall Riots. I also walked by a scary number of empty storefronts today. A sign of our current economic climate? A sign of a bygone era? I walked east a little ways and stopped in a cafe for a snack, ran into a schmoopy gay couple, alternately kissing and trying to decide which kind of cupcake to order. It’s hard not to think about the course of events here, not to remember that those weird white statues are meant to represent the event that made it possible for these two men to kiss in front of a bakery display case just because.

I’m currently trying to revise a novella and having kind of a hard time of it, because sunshine distracts me. I also like reveling in the weird ephemera of New York, in the memory of a city that no longer exists, in ponderings of what the city might become.

I wonder sometimes if it’s a cliche to write fiction set in New York City, but write what you know, right? I love New York and love reading and writing about it.

(Funny, though, that my first published novel does not take place in New York! But Noah is a New Yorker.)

My mind’s still reeling a little, too, after a writers group workshop in which a murder-mystery WIP of mine (which takes place almost entirely in Brooklyn, for what it’s worth) got pretty well eviscerated. I’m taking it as an opportunity to think that the group saved me from sending out a novel that didn’t work. I miss sometimes, and it’s good to be reminded of that. So I’ll go back and revise. But after I spend a little more time in the sunshine.

saturday sun

I tweeted this a few days ago, but here’s another review of In Hot Pursuit: “In Hot Pursuit is about second chances, forgiveness, and acceptance. It is a wonderful blend of action, suspense, romance, humor and erotic play.” (4.5 nymphs here)

I have a tendency to surround myself with people who have wildly different interests from mine, so although I have a lot of friends who are writers, hardly any of them are romance writers (or even readers, come to think of it). But the thing with writing a novel is that, when it’s published, all your friends want to read it. I’ve been showing people the excerpt, and my own friends said things like, “I don’t like romance, but I like this.” That’s great, but shows a misconception about the genre. I’m working on disabusing my friends of the notion that romance as a genre is all bodice-ripping and purple prose.

It’s been a fun few weeks with the reviews, and some really positive feedback from both friends and strangers, and even a few fan emails (which totally made my day).

The weather looks pretty spectacular outside, so I plan to go out in a few. My agenda for the weekend involves writing and editing and trying to finish a short story that’s not quite right yet.

Oh, and I saw the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland last night. Maybe my expectations were low because I haven’t been that impressed with the last few Burton projects, but I thought Alice was great. I saw it in 3D with some friends, we all agreed it was fun and the visuals are lovely.

common themes and geekery

I watched Doctor Who with some friends last night. I’d never seen the show before. I talked over a scene to offer an opinion on something happening (I’m sure my comment was something like, “So… it’s always the Daleks, isn’t it?”) and one of my friends said, “You are now a geek.” To which I said, “Uh, have we met before?” I feel like I’m already pretty secure in my geekhood.

Everyone’s a little nerdy about something. The things that I’m nerdy about, that I obsess over, tend to find their way into my fiction.

Ebbets FieldI realized recently that baseball is mentioned in many of my works in progress. I was a casual fan as a kid, probably because I grew up in the NYC suburbs and the Mets were doing well at the time. My brother and I collected and traded baseball cards for no other reason I can think of besides that I liked collecting things and that’s what the boys his age were doing. Then, when I was twelve, my parents brought us to my first Yankees game. I loved the whole experience: talking stats with my dad, eating hot dogs and Cracker Jack, being able to see the action in person with thousands of other fans. The Yankees didn’t even win the game, but I was sold. I have since become what you might call a hard-core fan. I especially like surprising the hell out of men who assume women are antipathetic towards baseball. But I also love the history of it, the math behind it, the debates over who the best short stop was, who the best slugger was, what to do about steroids, all of it.

I was at a party once where the Brooklyn Brewery’s Pennant Ale was being served. There was a cute guy hanging around the fridge when I went to get a new round, and when he fished a bottle out for me, I said (because I am a nerd) “These say ’55′ on them because that’s the year the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series.” (Yes, that bit of knowledge just lives in my brain. I’m hoping to one day get picked up by the Cash Cab because I always win when I play at home.) The guy was impressed and told me he hadn’t known that. I apologized for nerding all over him, and he pointed out that he was wearing a Starfleet Academy tee-shirt. So, see, everyone is nerdy about something.

It’s tricky to insert nerdery into a novel yet. I mention baseball in almost every one of my novels, but I rarely write about baseball players, usually just fans. Likewise, I play the violin and have played for years, but I rarely write violinist characters. (Until I did. I wrote a long descriptive passage about a violinist practicing that I thought was quite nice, but my writer’s group found all the minutiae boring. All things in moderation, I suppose.)

Still, I always thought it was kind of fun to catch recurring themes in the works of the writers I like. Sometimes you can tell what a writer obsesses over, just in the interests they give their characters. Or it’s a write-what-you-know thing. I know what it’s like to be a baseball fan. I follow the game and like to quote stats and even played in a fantasy league last summer. It seems pretty reasonable to me that a thirty-something New Yorker (such as Noah in my upcoming In Hot Pursuit) would be at least a casual fan. Maybe that’ll be my novels’ Easter egg. Spot the baseball reference!

Speaking of other things I’m obsessed with, if you want a music rec, I’ve been listening to the Decemberist’s “The Hazards of Love” on a repeating loop all day. If you are a fan of indie rock or rock opera, I heartily recommend it. Some of the themes are a little icky, but the music is wonderful.

a few other things

These might be of interest:

A few days old, but this is a pretty interesting interview with Edmond White.

This Times op-ed is making the rounds, and it’s pretty interesting: The Mismeasure of a Woman.

And the Yankees are on, which just became more important than writing.