Just checking in to say why, yes, had a great weekend at the Jimmy Buffett concert with wonderful Significant Other (he’s the best; can you say fun, limo, Jacuzzi, fun, and more fun?), and though tired, hit the ground running. The new issues of Alameda and Oakland City magazines arrived today in our offices and look beautiful — my first big magazine spread is in both: a large feature in AM about our graduating high school seniors and a smaller feature in OCM on same topic, different kids. There were 21 kids featured in Alameda; we tried to get more response in Oakland but got just six kids’ stories back.

However, these kids are amazing — esp the Oakland ones. Almost every story brings a tear to your eye: the Cinderella story of a boy born to Vienamese refugees who is already doing cancer research at 17 and has been accepted to MIT and Harvard on full scholarships; two girls who lost a parent to cancer at a young age and have excelled in spite of that loss; a girl who dropped out and then came back to be the first in her family to go to college. Amazing, all of them. Anyone who fears or loathes teenagers has just never met one. They are so great (having two — and an almost-step-teen — and having survived another one besides, I can vouch for that).

But can I just say that this story (both versions) kicked my booty? Especially the Alameda one; it topped out at more than 4800 words. Compared to my former 500-word maximum at the Sun, that kinda whupped me. Not that I can’t write long (cf previous blog mention of my 600-page thesis). But I’m not used to writing long for work. Short and sweet is my usual game. So it’s nice to see it in color, in print.

In other news, I’ve been following the book tour of a longtime friend, Joshilyn Jackson, whose stellar novel, Gods in Alabama, just hit the stands. Check out her blog and have a good laugh. And read her book; if you liked YaYas, this is that same Southern Gothic with a lot more sass and verve. Check it out!

Just went to an evening premiere of a Red Cross disaster preparedness movie on DVD. Some scary footage made me think that now’s the time to get prepared in case of (fill in the blank). Water, batteries, etc. You know the drill. But do it, just the same. It’s on my to-do list now.

My writer’s to-do list is scary, too. Gotta wrap up the editing of the May issue of Red Hills Review soon. Gotta get rolling on that RHR Web site (I have the template done but have not gotten it online yet — soon, though; thanks, Michael Swartz at MJS Web Solutions!). I had a computer crash (crossing self, knocking wood, burning sage) and have been unable to update the Alameda Literati Web site in a week — which is OK at present but will soon pose a problem. I have two CD reviews to write for The Music Scene in the next week as well as a couple of books to read and review. Oh, yeah, a long feature about the pleasures of eating raw oysters for Alameda Magazine (thanks, Alameda Sun food and wine editor Gil Michaels, for the loan of your delicious MFK Fisher books) and a few other sundry short bits, including a short feature on fellow Alameda author Michelene Esposito and her book, Night Diving. Read it; it’s a lovely coming-of-age novel.

I’m behind on the final draft of the poetry MS going to press this year — should have had it together by now but, um, been busy, so it will wait a bit. As soon as Red Hills is out the door I can turn my focus to the poetry book, getting poets to blurb it, and also doing some PR for fellow local authors Woody Minor’s new book on historic Alameda buildings, Eric Turowski’s forthcoming pulp noir novel (fingers crossed) and Eric Kos’ newest endeavor in the Then and Now series (baseball stadiums — how cool is that? EK and partner Dennis Evanoski have been rockin with their first book, East Bay Then and Now. A friend in the book biz confirms that EBT&N is flying off the shelves, in the East Bay at least.)

That’s all I can manage for one night: editing, photo downloads and a short story on deadline yet to accomplish tonight. Peace out, babes.

Advice to Aspiring Writers: Make a to-do list. Check it twice.

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