VT was an excellent host, and asked some very good and thought-provoking questions, some of which actually took days of thought for me to put answers into words. I hope you’ll have a look. And while you’re there, have a look around the blog; VT writes very good and candid reviews of books (especially Westerns) and movies (not just Westerns), not to mention recommendations of Old Time Radio shows to listen to.
News about Covid-19 is everywhere. It spans from the global to the local. Even if we are fortunate enough not to be sick with it in the present, worry about it can seem to be everywhere we look.
As a counterbalance to this worry, I have been gathering wisdom from several sources – some sent to me by kind friends and family. A good friend connected me with an article written March 17th by Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist and contributor to The Atlantic. This resonated with me:
“Of course, it’s normal to feel anxiety right now, and while we need to allow ourselves the space to feel these feelings, we also need to give ourselves the space to let them go.”
I found an echo of this from one of my favorite writers: Maggie Stiefvater. Her modern fantasies are lyrical, and her Twitter and blog are often wryly funny while making trenchant observations. She’s been frank about having OCD and how she deals with it, for instance. On March 12th, she wrote about dealing with the news about Cov-d-19, and though her audience has lots of teens, I find a lot of wisdom for myself in her words:
Maggie Stiefvater @mstiefvater ·Mar 12
I know a lot of my readers are Freaking the Hell Out™ today, so some internet advice from this OCD author:
set a time for WHEN you allow yourself to read news (i.e. every 6 hours)
set a time limit for HOW LONG to read (i.e. 15 minutes)
be mindful of negative coping behaviors that feel logical, but are not
remember that perceived disaster doesn’t give you permission to perform negative behaviors
remind yourself of specific times, if necessary, that giving in to them have made the situation worse overall
set up a daily goal unrelated to the news: i.e., finishing that novel you were reading, cleaning your closet
set up hopeful long-term plans for much later in the year and when anxious, focus on that minutia instead
do all that you can to help the situation personally, and then allow yourself to step out of the information loop until your next scheduled time
if necessary, completely opt out and recruit a friend to disseminate necessary news to you
sometimes this means putting your phone someplace you cannot get it, or sitting outside with the cat looking wistfully over all the land that will one day be Simba’s
Finally: This list isn’t just relevant to this week; it’s relevant to our entire high-paced, high stakes news cycle. Be informed as you need. Be able to step away for perspective and health.
Establish psychological protocols for yourself now and you’ll use them again later.
P.S. teens, I know it’s especially psychologically difficult because you’re shifting from an understanding that adults are supposed to be informed & want to take care of you.
The news, as a complete animal, doesn’t want to take care of you. It just wants you to engage.
And here is more from Lori Gottlieb: “In being confined to our homes as much as possible, whether alone or together, we have an opportunity to embrace the ordinary—to play board games, cook meals, watch entire TV seasons, read books, take walks, do puzzles, get those art supplies out of the back of the closet, catch up with people we “meant to call” weeks or months ago and make one another laugh—precisely because our busy routines have been disrupted.”
This lovely graphic was sent to me by a dear friend, Danila Székely, who is also a life-coach:
Another good friend just today told me about Yo-Yo Ma’s mission to share Songs of Comfort — beautiful music from him and other musicians shared from their homes to ours. Among other places, you can find out more about this on Silkroad Home Sessions. This is a wonderful way to spend some time freed up by moving away from the news.
If you live in the northern hemisphere in a temperate zone, Spring is here. This is true even if you’re in the middle of a blizzard (which I hope you’re not). Where I grew up, March snow is common, and so was the sight of crocuses blooming in the snow, bravely and beautifully. They not only blossomed – they survived. We can be like the crocuses – or at least we can see and be heartened by their beautiful resilience.
Spring is every bit a real and true as Covid-19. And Spring is the triumph of Earth and Life over an adversary far more ancient than this virus. That is worth being mindful of, and worth celebrating.
Wishing you all light and comfort in these uncharted times.
I don’t usually follow golf, but the George Lopez Foundation raises awareness about kidney disease and organ donation, and works to help underprivileged children, adults and military families.
That’s a mission I can really get behind. I’m honored that my writing can play a small part in supporting this. Thank you to Lisa Kastner, our executive editor at Running Wild Press, for making this happen.
Here’s what Lisa has to say:
When a friend reached out to see if we’d be interested in supporting George Lopez’s Celebrity Golf Classic by being included in the gift bags, my answer was a resounding yes. As a child who grew up in the inner city of Camden New Jersey, I had been privy to situations in which children couldn’t have survived childhood trauma without the assistance of donors. Mr. Lopez’s Foundation creates a robust environment in which to save lives.
…The Mission of George Lopez’s Foundation is one that all of us at Running Wild Press believe in:
“… to create positive, permanent change for underprivileged children, adults and military families confronting challenges in education and health, as well as increasing community awareness about kidney disease and organ donation.” https://georgelopezfoundation.org/our-mission
Books to be included in the celebrity gift bags:
“Frontal Matter: Glue Gone Wild” by Suzanne Samples – A fun, funny, and heartbreakingly real memoir of a woman’s fight against terminal brain cancer. The writing is honest, charming, and full of cuss words.
“Magic Forgotten” by Jack Hillman – For a man shut up in his house after being in a near fatal car accident, Dan is thrust into another world and must recruit helpers in his quest.
“The Kidnapped” by Dwight L. Wilson – Dwight Wilson researched for more than a dozen years to ensure this brilliant historic fiction collection portrayed the very nuanced history of African Americans in the United States.
“The Resistors” by Dwight L. Wilson (Available for retail sale July 4th) The follow up collection to “The Kidnapped”
“Dark Corners” by Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett – “It’s pleasing to see such a diverse array characters be so presented in such a normal way. Each individual is not presented as a token, but rather just another human being…” — Wagatwe Wanjuki, feminist writer and activist
“Writers Resist: The Anthology 2018” – Celebrating the online journal’s first year, includes the works of 73 contributors.
“Running Wild Novella Anthology, Volume 1” Stories that will make your imagination run wild.
“Running Wild Novella Anthology, Volume 2, Part 1” and Part 2 – Eclectic and dynamic collections of novellas. Trigger worthy.
“Jersey Diner” by Lisa Diane Kastner – One man’s fan is another man’s stalker
“Build Your Music Career from Scratch” Second Edition by Andrae Alexander – A practical guide for those trying to make it in the music industry.
“Running Wild Anthology of Short Stories, Volume 1”
“Running Wild Anthology of Short Stories, Volume 2”
That’s a lot of fine books to fill up gift bags! If you’d like to know a bit more about some of these authors, check out my blogpost on Golden Globes gift baskets – many of the same writers were featured there as well.
Thank you, Lisa, for making us all a part of this!
Now, let me be clear: these are not official Golden Globe bags. They are “Red Carpet Gift Bags honoring Golden Globe nominees,” to quote Hollywood Swag Bag, who will place these gifts in the celebrities’ rooms, working in conjunction with the hotel management. How amazing is that!
Here is a partial list of who will be receiving these excellent books among all the other cool gifts:
‘In our third year of publishing, Running Wild Press has had an impressive year. Already nominated for several awards including the Pushcart Prize, the executive editor, Lisa Diane Kastner, is excited for two of the press’s books to be included in gift bags to 2019 Golden Globe nominees and presenters. The bags will be gifted to actors, actresses, and presenters for the 2019 Golden Globes the weekend of January 7, 2019.
“When we were informed that both ‘Frontal Matter: Glue Gone Wild’ and ‘Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Volume 2’ would be included in the gift bags, I couldn’t be more thrilled,” said Lisa Diane Kastner, Founder and Executive Editor of Running Wild Press. “This is the perfect tribute to our authors, our readers, and the stories of 2018 as well as a gorgeous beginning to 2019.”
Lisa founded Running Wild Press with the vision to bring great stories and great writing that do not fit neatly in a box to readers worldwide.
“In 2018, we published nine books with stories ranging from personal narratives to cross-genre fiction and non-fiction,” said Lisa. “These two books represent a great compilation of our narratives.”
Never one to shy from an opportunity to feature talents who don’t necessarily fit in mainstream media, we chatted with Lisa about the press, the Golden Globes, and anything else we could fit in.
How Did You Get Into The Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards Gift Bags? A dear friend reached out to me and mentioned that there was an opportunity to be included. There are only a handful of companies authorized to provide gift baskets for events such as the Golden Globes, the Emmys, the Grammys, the Oscars, and SAG Awards. I figured, heck, can’t hurt to have a chat. That chat resulted in our stories being included in 50 gift bags for both Golden Globe nominees and presenters as well as SAG Award nominees and presenters. We couldn’t be more excited. Only a select few are invited to be included in these baskets so this truly is an honor.
Who Among the Recipients Are You Most Excited to Meet? Admittedly, I doubt that I’ll personally meet any of the celebrities or nominees during the weekend of the Golden Globes or the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but I am incredibly excited to have the likes of Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Spike Lee, Constance Wu, Charlize Theron, and Lin-Manuel Miranda read these amazing stories.
I have admired Bradley Cooper’s rise and strategic choices for years. Lady Gaga continues to broaden and expand her repertoire. Her ability to tap into her own meager beginnings in “A Star Is Born” was truly breathtaking. Spike Lee’s true gift to bring forth real life situations and demonstrate their relevance to today’s society is beyond phenomenal. Constance Wu and the rest of the cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” not only brought theatrical houses down but showed the world how a Rom-Con should be done. And Lin-Manuel’s gifts for storytelling – no matter the form (Have you seen his Twitter account? Oy!) continues to inspire. I could go on and on. Needless to say, we’re proud to have these stories in such amazingly talented artists’ hands.
What Inspired You to Start Running Wild Press? I had spent over a decade studying the art of storytelling from New York Times Bestsellers, such as Jonathan Maberry, Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Da Chen, Pulitzer Prize nominees such as Luis Alberto Urrea, National Book Award winners such as Julia Glass, Ha Jin, and PEN Award winners such as Percival Everett. I studied fiction, non-fiction, memoir, journalism, screenplay writing. Each experience and interaction brought greater knowledge and understanding.
I ran several writers workshops including Running Wild Writers Community out of Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia. I often found writers whose writing was on-point – truly magical stories with great writing; the pieces simply needed a little tweaking. I gave the authors feedback and recommended that they send the pieces out for publication. I checked with each one and was often shocked when they said they couldn’t find home for their work. When I asked why, they informed me that the publications said the author’s writing was wonderful but didn’t quite fit. The more I heard this, the clearer it was that tons of great stories with great writing simply don’t fit into the mainstream media. So, I created Running Wild Press for great stories and great writing that don’t fit neatly in a box to find worldwide audiences. I’ve been humbled by the public’s enthusiastic response to our stories. We’ve been nominated for several “Best of” collections, the Pushcart Prize, and several more honors that are currently in the works.
When Cindy Cavett invited me and Laura Selinsky (@huzzahlns) to join her for a book signing in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, at first I hesitated. Rehoboth is a long drive from where I live. But it’s the setting for Cindy’s fun pirate tale, and Laura’s lovely and poignant story Seawall is also set along a beach, so the place is perfect for the occasion. Laura gladly accepted Cindy’s invitation, though it’s a longer drive for her. And to turn down my first chance at a book signing would be nuts! So, Carpe Diem! (You should understand this upfront: I am such a word nerd, this is on one of my favorite t-shirts. You’ve been duly warned.)
Bright and early on April 21st, my husband and I got to downtown Rehoboth. Excited, I spotted the big green awning of Browseabout Books, our host for the signing (I love how the sea lurks in their name).
Honestly, running late is my norm, but for this event we were so very early, the friendly young lady behind the counter told me they wouldn’t even set up for another half hour.
I could have easily gotten lost among the books and treasures in Browseabout, but that would’ve been chancy — it can be difficult to extricate me from a bookstore. Besides, it was a beautiful spring day. So my husband and I went out to walk Rehoboth’s handsome boardwalk under the blue sky and brilliant sun. The town was pleasantly bustling, the air was fresh and crisp, and frothy waves crashed on the beach – a perfect and invigorating stroll. Any other day, I would have been happy to walk with no mind of the time. But today we had an Event! We found the lovely bandstand, central to the pirate’s exploits in Cindy’s story, and it guided us back to the main street and Browseabout.
Cindy arrived just before us. We had never met, but we hugged like friends – the camaraderie of writers! My lovely critique partner Laura soon joined us, and there were excited greetings and introductions. The bookstore staff made us wonderfully welcome at a table in a prime location just inside the door, covering it with a sea-green tablecloth that perfectly matched Cindy’s shawl. Synchronicity!
Cindy’s husband and brother-in-law helped us set up. She had brought lots of fun things to bedeck the table: a chest overflowing with chocolate gold coins, a treasure map, a miniature telescope Laura and I had fun playing with. I brought pieces-of-eight replica coins (because I’m also a history nerd and such things delight me), and a small brass figurine of Bastet. (Why Bastet? One of my anthology stories gives an inkling). I think she brought us luck!
Before long, people began showing up. It was heartwarming how many friends of Cindy’s came to support her and buy our anthology. They were the first people whose books we had the pleasure of signing.
I’ll tell you – that was a bit of a thrill. I had practiced my rusty cursive ahead of time and decided what I would write – and still my hands were rather vibrating with the delight of it.
We greeted incoming customers and welcomed them to our book signing, and lo and behold, many came up to take a look at the books and pause to chat. One man had a remarkable connection: he had gone to school many years ago with a different author in the book. Though she now lives in Florida, and his home is out West, by chance he was in Delaware in time for the book signing! More synchronicity.
We also got to talk to aspiring writers, young and old, and this meant a lot to me. We all gave them encouraging words: if you want to write, do. Put words to paper. Tell your stories. Find support like good critique partners, as Laura urged, and good groups, as Cindy suggested. You’re neither too young or too old. And though publishing can be hard, there are opportunities, like Running Wild Press, where the publisher looks for excellent writing that hasn’t found a niche.
The two hours sped by. By the end, the stacks of books had dwindled to just a few – we had sold most of the copies, and most of them to people who did not even know us! And the best parts were the camaraderie and conversation with readers and writers.
Many, many thanks to Cindy for arranging the event and inviting us, and to Browseabout Books for being such welcoming hosts. And to Running Wild Press, who made all this possible through their mission to give voice to the imaginations of authors whose work may transcend typical genres.
If you’re near the Delaware beaches on Sat., May 12th, you can meet Cindy at Browseabout Books’ launch party for Beach Love! I think you’ll find both Cindy and the bookstore delightful.
Anytime you’re in the area, visit Browseabout to see the vast variety of treasures they offer (among them, the beautiful postcards on this page). And if you’re looking for more great stories, you can find them at Running Wild Press.
If you want to connect with my wonderful book signing colleagues: