Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Gary Goose Chase

When I was in seventh grade, our teacher introduced us to a fresh new voice. His name is Gary Paulsen. (No, not Robert Paulsen, Fight Club freaks.) His work falls mainly in fictional outdoor survival stories. I've always been drawn to those kinds of stories because the bulk of the survival strategies are true. It gives more weight to the story. The first book I read of him was called Hatchet. It was exquisite. It was about this boy named Brian Robeson who, while on a plane to visit his recently divorced dad, crash lands in the Canadian wilderness and needs to survive on his own. His only tools are the survival kit inside the plane and a Hatchet - a gift from his father. I fell in love with this 208 page book. Over the years, I've rediscovered it, dusted it off and found myself slipping back into the pages. I must have read that book three times in my life.

Then came The River, the slim sequel to Hatchet. It nearly surpassed the original. I was happy to see that Mr. Paulsen did not lose his touch.

Recently, I have read two more Paulsen books: Brian's Winter, an alternative look of the main character trying to survive in the winter, and The Island, a completely separate story about a teenager who moves to a new place, discovers a small island that brings him peace and decides to dwell there.
While doing some searching, I found that there were two more sequels to the river: Brian's Return and Brian's Hunt.
What I like the most is that the character continues to grow and that Mr. Paulsen has not lost his voice. Since the first reading of Hatchet, I have been a loyal fan of his work. So when I found out that he was doing a reading in Naperville, just 30 minutes away from me, I had to see him. On February 13th I brought Hatchet and The River with me to hopefully be signed by my childhood hero. I even brought my dad along to join in the experience. We lost our way a couple of times, mainly due to the GPS which kept directing us to every frickin' tollbooth known to man on the way there. At one point my father shouted, "What the hell! It's like a government conspiracy! Turn that thing off before I throw it out the window! I know the way. Don't need any techno piece of junk telling me otherwise."

Finally, we arrived. He parked while I bolted through the bookstore, searching for the author setup. To my dismay, I found none. And we were ten minutes late, too. I walked up to the counter and asked, "Excuse me, isn't Gary Paulsen supposed to be here?"
To the best of my knowledge it was the correct date and time. Gary was on tour promoting his new book Dogsong.

The woman came back with the schedule. I had the right time but the wrong day. I was a full TWO MONTHS early. This has always been a thing with me. My family has always been horribly late to any wedding, funeral, engagement party, etc. I would be so embarrassed that my ears would practically line up with my shoulders in shame. So, as I grew older, in order to compensate this horrible tradition, I would show up to things early. I would show up anywhere between 30 minutes up to 2 hours early, sometimes reading a book to pass the time. But this was way too early even for me. It was a historical fail. But that's what I get for not checking up on everything. The date I was going off of came from Goodreads. The true date was on a site called

This has happened to me before. When I was on my way to see Monica Ali do an interview for her new book In The Kitchen in the city, I found that Goodreads had screwed up and put the wrong address down. So I had to jog five to six blocks to a different place only to be late. Sadly, April 13th, the real date when Gary Paulsen would be in Naperville has long since passed, but I've definitely learned my lesson. That will be the last time I go on a Gary goose chase.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On The Goodreads Delay

Hello readers. Some of you may be wondering WHERE THE HELL IS MY BOOK? For those of you just joining us, in march a giveaway that I listed on goodreads was finished and the winners were announced. I was giving away 15 free, signed copies of my short story collection. I received all the addresses and was all set to go when...disaster struck. I had lost my job. My income was dwindling as I was paying my bills with the cash I had saved while I was searching for another job. I've recently picked up another job but it looks like they are starting me off on part-time hours. So, even though I have a stack of copies, I haven't been able to pay postage to send them. It's really frustrating for me, as I imagine it is for the winners of the giveaway. Plus, I'm in the midst of wedding plans and a move to boot. But fear not, loyal readers. Soon I will be able to send them, my best guess is a week or two. And you will have your copies. I promise. So, again, sorry for the delay. All of your copies are still very much your copies, you own them, I just have to send them.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Writer's Wedding

Yes, it is true. My high school sweetheart and I are to be wed. I feel a new spark of life buzzing within me. For many Americans, the stresses of a marriage weigh down on a young couple. Thankfully, this is not the case with us. We are coming along rather nicely and everyone has lent a helping hand. We are backed by a lot of people who know that we will last and that makes us eternally grateful.

Now to lay down how it all came about - the story of us.

Aja and I have been girlfriend and boyfriend for six years. On July 3rd of 2003, I sat Aja down on the sidewalk to talk to her. We were avoiding my rambunctious cousins across the street. When I asked her to be my girlfriend, fireworks were busting in the sky. It was great. We knew that eventually, somewhere down the line, we would get married.

On march 24th of 2010, my girlfriend and I, nearing seven years of being together, finally approached her parents and broke the news that we were getting married. Over the years, we talked about marriage but it always seemed so pricey and something you could only afford when you were financially stable…or won the lottery. I’d drive myself crazy thinking of how many times I would reach the required amount just to buy the ring only to see it plummet when I needed to pay bills. In the end, we both knew that we wanted to get married (also we both knew what her answer would be) so we decided that telling her parents would make it official. To our relief, they showered us with their blessing as well as their smiles. However, I didn’t want to pass this day without presenting something to my soon to be wife. Since we both were opting for an economically smart wedding, I had no ring. Conspiratorially, I pulled my girlfriend’s mother to the side and asked her if she kept a sewing kit with some thread or possibly some nice ribbon. While my girlfriend was calling some of our friends up, dishing the good news with bouncy exuberance, her mom laid out some samples on the kit she just uncovered from the closet. Among them was a nice portion of white lace. “That’s perfect,” I said. I snipped a piece, thanked her, and turned the corner into the room where, at that exact moment, she turned to me as she just finished a phone call. “Hold out your hand.” I tell her. She did. She throws me a puzzling look as I take her left hand and tie the piece of white lace around her ring finger. “There,” I said, as she’s practically beaming with gratitude. “Now we’ve officially tied the knot.” All our friends love that story.

Also, in the right-hand corner of this blog is a donation widget. If you want to, you can donate. In the meantime, we are still preparing and we have a solid wedding date booked. Wish us luck and god bless everyone for sharing our happiness and are behind us 100 percent.

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times -- always with the same person."~Mignon McLaughlin