I have a new book coming out!

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I’ve been posting a lot about “my new project” lately. What is it? I have a book coming out next year with Woodhall Press!

You know how in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Midge does private parties instead of taking her comedy out into the world? That’s kind of what I’ve been doing on Facebook. I post a lot of short pieces about my life, and  lot of jokes, and even some poems, online.

UNTIL NOW.

My manuscript, A Perfect Facebook Life, is like the content you’d read on my social media: short comedy, poems, plays, and micro-memoir. (AND a love poem to my town’s trashfire FB group.)

My mom says it’s like Erma Bombeck, but if she had Facebook.
People who are not my mom say “oh. That’s …interesting.”

It’s an experimental format and I’m very excited about it!  I’ll post more updates, details, covers, (and hopefully an updated author photo – my current photo is 11 years old) as I get them.

I have news. Like, actual writing news!

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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

On Monday, I learned that my manuscript, “A Perfect Facebook Life,”  was chosen by Woodhall Press as one of six finalists for the Fairfield Book Prize.

And then I spent a few days processing that information because IT. IS. BONKERS.

First of all, the other finalists are amazingly talented and I am honored to be named with him. I can’t believe my strange little book has been named alongside their work.

Second, I didn’t intend to write the book. I usually write fiction and this is a weird little experimental book of poetry, humor, micro-memoir and …plays, I guess? (I’m not sure. It’s experimental.) I had no plans to write or submit, but a former grad school colleague who thinks I’m funny on Facebook suggested I do it. I wasn’t writing anything else — having a business and a preschooler has been cutting into my ability to write coherent long-form fiction — so I decided to try it.

Third, I legitimately expected a thank u, next response when I submitted this manuscript. You get used to rejection in publishing. I’m almost always prepared for a no thank you. I’m pretty much never prepared for a yes.

So yes, this is thing that is happening, and it’s happening this summer — the winning manuscript will be judged by National Book Award winning author Phil Klay and the winner will be announced in July.

Do You Live in CT? Do You Want to Ask 3 Indie Authors Anything?

Of course you do.

Join me, Cindy Eastman and Joe McGee at the Watertown Library (that’s in Watertown CT, not that imposter Watertown in Massachusetts, pssssht) on Saturday, October 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 pm for Indie Author Day 2017.

What is Indie Author Day? Guys, I am so glad you asked. Indie Author Day is a love letter from libraries to indie authors;  those of us who aren’t traditionally published by big publishing houses. On this day, libraries in the US and Canada host events featuring their local indie authors. Watertown is my hometown library (I was pretty much raised in its Oakville branch because my mom worked there) so I’m one of the three authors who will be featured there.

Who else will be there?
Humorist Cindy Eastman, the author of Flip-Flops After 50.
Joseph McGee, the author of Leadership Lessons Inspired by a 6 Year Old.

You’ll get to meet us, hang out with us, eat some food with us (I am told there will be refreshments!), and then you will get to watch as Robin Osborn, former head of the English Department at Taft School and leader of the library’s reading groups, grills us in a panel discussion. Come! Watch!

Need a Facebook reminder to help you remember when it is? I got you – here’s a link to the event page.

In Which I Am a Woman in the Sci-Fi Section at the Library’s Annual Used Book Sale

This really is the only place it’s socially acceptable to carry around a giant Sutter Home wine box in this town.

Okay, what are the sections this year? Let’s see: General Fiction, Gardening, Mystery, Nonfiction About War with Lots of Maps, a whole table of Pilcher, a whole table of Binchy, a whole table of Atwood… oh, I liked that book. I should get more of it.

Do I bother to find the three square feet they’ve allotted for sci-fi and fantasy and risk the opinion of whatever dude is over there?

Oh, look! It’s the sci-fi section, and hallelujah, it’s empty.

Nope. Here’s a man, because of course. He must have smelled a female getting close to the Sword of Shannara or something.

Someone really should make a nature special about this phenomenon.

(to be read in a BBC voice) The female sees an opening in the sci-fi and fantasy section, her preferred diet, and begins to graze. She is not aware that nearby, in the Music & Film section, a male has been lying in wait. Seeing a lone female enter his territory, he gives her a moment to settle into her hunt. The male moves in and begins his display.  First, to assert dominance over the sci-fi section, he muscles close, making an attempt to move her from her spot so he can graze in the choicest section.

My dude, I am 170 pounds and carrying a Sutter Home box filled with books. Physics is on my side here.

Then he attempts to gain her attention with a series of mating cries.

Thank you for recommending that I read The Silmarillion if I *really* want to understand the Lord of the Rings movies.

Why yes, I do know who Kurt Vonnegut is.

I am not now and will never be comfortable saying the words “Dirk Gently” to you.

The female, uninterested in mating, has two choices. She can stand her ground, or she can move on to less preferred hunting grounds in General Fiction. Suddenly she remembers: determined foragers can often find caches of undisturbed treasure in boxes on the floor. She just has to get to the other side of the table, away from the male, before she can drop to the floor and check. She leaves his territory, cutting through Romance, where she knows he will not follow, and rounds the table. On the other side, just between Romance and Science Fiction, she kneels down, and victory! A fresh trove of paperbacks, overlooked by her fellow grazers.

Oh my god! An uncorrected advance reader’s copy of Sorcerer to the Crown!

But the male, unfinished with his dance, has followed her and in his final bid, aggressively displays the full extent of his virility in the most plausibly fashion deniable fashion possible.

Did this asshole really follow me over here so he could stand here with his crotch in my face? Nice Dockers, jackass. I know you didn’t come over here just so you could look at all the upside-down Jim Butcher spines up there.

Another female approaches, and addresses the male. It is clear from her familiarity with him that they are a breeding pair.

-Bob. Are you in the Romance section?
-No! This is Science Fiction and Fantasy, Diane.

The breeding pair move off, leaving the solitary female to gather up all the Star Trek: Next Generation novelizations she can find, undisturbed. Meanwhile, in Biographies About White Men, a male is lying in wait.

 

 

Chalkboard Punishments for My Demographic

I will check with my neighbors to see if the NYT on my driveway is theirs before I read it.
I will check with my neighbors to see if the NYT on my driveway is theirs before I read it.
I will check with my neighbors to see if the NYT on my driveway is theirs before I read it.

I will not react to the audible fart in yoga class.
I will not react to the audible fart in yoga class.
I will not react to the audible fart in yoga class.

I will read the article before commenting.
I will read the article before commenting.
I will read the article before commenting.

There is no medal for being the Least Fancy Mom.
There is no medal for being the Least Fancy Mom.
There is no medal for being the Least Fancy Mom.

I will not describe myself as “woke.”
I will not describe myself as “woke.”
I will not describe myself as “woke.”

I will not post on Facebook about being “too busy to even shower today.”
I will not post on Facebook about being “too busy to even shower today.”
I will not post on Facebook about being “too busy to even shower today.”

Other people are not muggles.
Other people are not muggles.
Other people are not muggles.

Of course I can adult today. I am an adult.
Of course I can adult today. I am an adult.
Of course I can adult today. I am an adult.

 

Shutting it down. Kind of.

 

Guys, I’m shutting down The Garrett.  (That’s what this blog used to be called.) Or, at least, I’m changing it.

When I put this blog together in 2009, back when people were still naming their blogs, it was an appropriate piece of my online platform. Seven years ago blogs were something writers  – especially unpublished writers – were expected to have. It was a way of building an audience, publishing essays, clearing my head before writing fiction and writing online diary entries. And I loved it. I blogged regularly.

That’s no longer true, for the Internet in general, or for me personally. Social media has taken over a lot of the territory once occupied by blogs, and as a freelance writer, I’m less willing to self-publish the essays I could be pitching elsewhere. (Also, now that I have a family and have seen lots of female writers get shouted or threatened off the web, I’m not as willing to write personal diary entries for the world to see. I’m getting old, kids.)

So what happens to the old posts?

What’s going to happen to this space? Well, I’ve already disentangled this blog from my domain name, ajoconnell dot com.

That said, my current plan is to keep the old content, so if you feel the need to discuss Harry Willson Watrous’s painting The Drop Sinister (many visitors do, amazingly) or if you too were a Catholic child plagued by fears of Immaculate Conception, you should still be able to read those posts.

My current plan is to keep all my old content and incorporate it into a new site as a sort of “What I’m Doing Right Now” section. That section probably won’t be the front page, as it is on this site, but it will be an area I can update.

In the meantime, while I’m building, everything should remain as it was and then, one day, when you least expect it: hey presto! New site!

Yeah, but…

“But A.J.,” you may be saying. “That means everything will be pretty much the same, right? Why are you getting so maudlin about it?”

Well, invisible reader in Internetland, let me tell you. Things ARE changing. When this site is reborn — sticky and squalling — as part of a bigger professional writing site, it will lose some of the personal flavor it’s had since 2009. For me, an era will end. A good era.

This blog has been my only website for seven years, and it’s been a part of a community, and although I haven’t blogged regularly in a while, I’ve come to enjoy my interactions with my readers and the informal blogging style I could use here.

So, hey, guys. I don’t know if any of my original readers will see this, but you made The Garrett what it was. Thank you.

 

Which one of you has been submitting my short stories to lit mags?

This morning, a prominent literary journal rejected a short story of mine.
This should be a bummer, but it’s not, because I have absolutely NO memory of ever submitting it to them. None. So one of you is probably sending my stuff out, right? (If so, thank you.)
Just kidding — not sleeping for a couple of years has done a number on my memory. That story probably sat in their slush pile for a loooong time.
Anyhow, strangely, the rejection was a pleasant surprise:
“Oh, I sent something out? Go me! Oh, it was literary fiction? I’m fancy!”
And actually there’s an unexpected bonus here: I have a finished short story to submit to a journal today. If I look deep enough into my email’s sent folder, I might even have a pre-written cover letter to go with it.