Away Games

Since my last post was about home fires, seems only appropriate that this post be about away games. I have spent the last three days hammering out my Fall 2011-Spring 2012 book tour schedule, which I will share in every conceivable outlet (including this blog & over the weekend. A few immediate highlights:

Reading at the AJC Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, GA, on Sunday, Sept. 4

Reading at Chop Suey Books in Richmond, VA, on Sunday, Sept. 11

Reading at New Dominion Bookshop in Charlottesville, VA, on Thursday, Sept. 29

Panel on persona poetry with Stephen Burt (swoon) and panel on memoir at the Boston Book Festival in Boston, MA, on Saturday, Oct. 15

...and that is just for starters: about 30 events in all. If you should happen to see a date that is close to your public library, book club, or PTA meeting, please let me know. I'm driving 99% of the time, which means my schedule is flexible. The more people I get to meet and share my books with, the better.

While I am being all self-promotional, I should say that it has been a really nice week for grass-roots blog reviews of Don't Kill the Birthday Girl. Thank you, Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, for calling my book "eye-opening." Thank you, Nina the Cooktivist, for letting me change the menu for your birthday party--and assuring you that you aren't alone. Thank you, Shelly Bowers, for assuring me I wasn't crazy with my Richard Scarry "Busytown" conceit in the closing chapter. Thank you, Kalen Landow, for saying "Most books I read require only a simple few sentences or maybe a few paragraphs, but sometimes a book hits so hard, so close to home,  that I feel compelled to say more. Sandra Beasley’s Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl is one of those books." That made my day.

I'll be running away from home again soon (damn you, Mississippi, and your siren call) but it has been a good week. Waking up to see rainbows splashed across the wall of my apartment courtesy of my sister's solar-powered prism; an amazing cocktail at P/X (gin, tequila, basil coconut water and turmeric) with Leslie; a familiar meal of sweet potato salad and tea-cured salmon at Teaism; lounging in the pool with Hailey; the ease of a post office within walking distance; the fun of stopping off at Politics & Prose to pick up my copy of Meg Waite Clayton's The Four Ms. Bradwells (is that a stunning cover, or what?). Funny that I've reached this point where being in one place for over a week feels like a luxury.

Someone asked me the trick to being on book tour. I said that I always unpack fully between each stop, even if in one place for less than 24 hours. True. Also: travel with your own towel--whether you need it to wash your face, or just to create a cozy texture on an unfamiliar pillow. Also: no matter small the town, look up the one hippie cafe with coffee + WiFi beforehand. There is always one. Also: figure out the magical technology to fit the ones you love in your suitcase. Still working on that last part.

My patron saint of writerly traveling is Naomi Shihab Nye. A favorite of hers:


Letters swallow themselves in seconds.   
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,   
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.

So much of any year is flammable,   
lists of vegetables, partial poems.   
Orange swirling flame of days,   
so little is a stone.

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,   
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.   
I begin again with the smallest numbers.

Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,   
only the things I didn’t do   
crackle after the blazing dies.

-Naomi Shihab Nye