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A Nail and a Piece of Glass

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

Last night, I was at a benefit for the Marjorie Kovler Center, which helps treat survivors of torture, and works to try to end torture.  One of the women who spoke had been a prisoner in Argentina, and survived torture there.  She was presenting a vase of flowers to an honoree, and added a nail in her gift.  She said that “a nail and a piece of glass” were the most prized possessions of women in their cells because you could use them to create art, drawing on walls, or sculpting a piece of soap, making beauty in the middle of horror to remind yourself that you were, first of all, a human being.

An acquaintance of mine recently called me a f**king do-gooder–and not in a very complimentary tone.  I’m more an observer than a doer–perhaps I could be called a f**king watch-gooder.  My week  home started with a tribute to the late Dr. George Tiller, of blessed memory: as you may recall, he was a doctor who was murdered in church on May 31 by an anti-abortion fanatic.  His widow and two of his four children came to Chicago for a very moving event in his memory.

On a happier note, I’ve spent several days this week with girls from Girls in the Game, a program which reaches out to girls 7-18 in Chicago, and gives them a safe place to play, to learn how to value themselves, their bodies, their lives.  One young tennis player told me she can’t play outside because there’s too much shooting on her street.  Another, abandoned by her mother when she was small, and making a home with relatives, spends every spare moment at Girls in the Game: it’s the place where she is welcomed, valued.  Any adults who come into the program are called “Coach,” and I do love being “Coach Sara.”  I wish I could take all these girls and wrap them in gold, protect them from the harm the world can and has done to them, keep them from ever needing a nail and a piece of glass to keep them safe.

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Edgar Allen Poe & Joyce Kilmer

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

While I was at the Bouchercon, I took part in a panel on Poe with John Lutz and Peter Lovesey, who share my interest in him and had both done a fair amount of background reading on him.  Sue Grafton, also on the panel, along with Michael Connelly, read a contemporary obituary of Poe by a man named Griswold, who didn’t like Poe, and who started the rumor that Poe was an opium addict.  Poe was a heavy drinker, but there’s no evidence that he abused drugs.  John Lutz said that a number of scholars now think Poe may have been bi-polar, and that he drank to medicate himself.  (Poe himself talked about suffering from “the Midnight Disease,” which was the phrase he used to describe his manic hypergraphia.) John added that we only have Poe’s writings from his depressive state.  He wondered what kind of work Poe would have written if he’d tackled something like “Trees.” This inspired me to scribble a few lines which I read to the audience.  A number of people asked for a copy, so here it is:

I think that I shall never see

Murder committed by a tree

Unless a woodsman takes an ax

And gives that sucker 40 whacks

While some poor fool–perhaps it’s me–

Walks beneath that falling tree.

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Home is the Sailor

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Or the writer, I guess.  I got back late yesterday from the Indianapolis Bouchercon.  It was a great chance to reconnect with old friends–especially Liza Cody, from London & Bath, who

Liza in front of bus (coach) pointing out Michael's fame

Liza in front of bus (coach) pointing out Michael's fame

is showing off Michael Lewin‘s tour of Indianapolis.

MWA-Midwest organized breakfast with a group of readers and writers, for which I thank, especially, Michael Black, Michael Dymmoch and Jeanne Dams.

Michael Black and other readers & writers at breakfast

Michael Black and other readers & writers at breakfast

Sara with other readers & writers at Bouchercon breakfast

Sara with other readers & writers at Bouchercon breakfast

Other highlights: catching up with old Chicago friend Andrea Smith–who, sadly in her years in Indianapolis has become a Colts fan–SCI members photo web.JPG

the Private Eye Writers annual dinner, at the Slipper Noodle, catching up with old friends Peter Lovesey, John Lutz and Sue Grafton on Michael Connelly’s Poe panel, and the bittersweet memory of Don Sandstrom, whose life I miss always, but especially when I’m in Indianapolis.

For a bigger photo essay of the con, go to Wilfred Bereswill’s blog, or Libby Hellman’s post on the Chicago Outfit Collective.

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The Book Pirates

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

The October 4, New York Times business section offers a disturbing look at book piracy.   With e-readers becoming widespread, the electronic piracy business isn’t far behind.  For those of us who write for a living, a bleak future has been looking bleaker.  The publishing industry, which has been aware of the impending problem for some time, doesn’t have any advice to offer beyond  going every day to look for all your titles and report them when found.  So–who out there in the blogosphere has a better suggestion?

I don’t know how to add links to comments, so I’m going to add one to the post that CherylK sent in–a blog about whether piracy is a real worry or not.  Thanks, Cheryl!

2008-09_chicken-pirates

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Wrapping Up the Tour

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Signing a book for one of my dad's graduate students in OakBrook, IL

Signing a book for one of my dad's graduate students in OakBrook, IL

Thanks to everyone who came out to support me on the road.  I go to Watermark Books in Wichita on October 9, and Barnes & Noble, Milwaukee on October 12, with a final event–before the Bouchercon–at the Newberry Library in Chicago on October 13.  Details on addresses and times are on my events page.

My camera isn’t the greatest, but here are a few snapshots:

With White House staffer Maude Baggetto--and one of First Lady's apples!

With White House staffer Maude Baggetto--and one of First Lady's apples!

In conversation with Warren Etheridge @ Words & Wine in Seattle

In conversation with Warren Etheridge @ Words & Wine in Seattle

Surprised and thrilled by chocolate book cover at the Ritz, San Francisco

Surprised and thrilled by chocolate book cover at the Ritz, San Francisco

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Help Me Celebrate

Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Let's have a Party

Let's have a Party

I’m in San Francisco, nearing the end of the first 2 weeks of Hardball’s publication.  I’m having a launch party at 57th Street Books in Chicago on Wednesday, October 7 at 6 p.m.  There will be delicious snacks from La Petite Folie, there will be wine, juice, and above all, books–not just mine, but all kinds!  Help me celebrate.

Books, books, books

Books, books, books

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