Thursday, August 21, 2008

busy busy crazy busy time

This has been a full summer, heading into a full fall.

This coming weekend, I'll be joining my church, Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, in dedicating a new building. All summer long, I've been meeting with a committee, planning the dedication service and it's finally going to happen this Sunday at 3:30pm.

Of course, we're not ready.

But it's going to be great anyway. This new building was built with music in mind. This past Wednesday, the choir (with which I sing bass) had its first rehearsal in the new nave and I have to admit, it sounded great. It's going to be a great space for musical performance of all kinds, but of course the main purpose of the building is Sunday morning worship and I'm looking forward to hearing us sing each Sunday. I'm hoping it will push us to being a better choir (and maybe convince some other people to join us---we could use a few more voices!).

In other news, Fieldwork is coming around again. We'll be doing Sunday afternoons this fall, starting Sunday September 14. I'll post more about it soon, but if you're in Houston and interested in knowing more, feel free to leave a note or else email me for more information.

I'm tired and seeing not much hope for slowing down in the next few weeks, although having the dedication behind me will be a huge load off. Nighthawks by Evan Guilford-Blake appears to be on track for a November release, despite all my distractions, and then I'm heading right into work on another poetry volume, The Comic Flaw by Alan Berecka. More on that soon.

It's a time of rapid catalog building for neoNuma and I'm really excited about what's in the pipeline. Stay tuned. Really, it's great stuff.

For now, i must lay my weary bones down.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Houstonians, Mark Your Calendars

December 6, 2008
3:00-6:00 p.m.
The First Annual neoNuma Arts Holiday Salon

Other details being hammered out, but the point being, it will be like a big book signing. Not all neoNuma authors will be there, but some will and they'll be reading and signing books, and I'm looking into other attractions (maybe some music?). It should be a fun, artsy way to spend a Saturday afternoon.


In other news . . . I'm working away on Nighthawks, now that Necropolis is out in the world. (have you secured your copy?) It's only been a year since The Fatal Gift of Beauty was published (have you secured your copy?), but I'm being reminded how much work goes into formatting a play. I haven't done that many kinds of books yet, but short of heavy graphics, I have to say that plays win the tedium race. Not that I'm complaining. I wouldn't do it if I didn't think it was worth it. It's just that there are a lot more elements to play layouts than a straight ahead prose or poetry book. Speakers, stage directions, all kinds of little cues to help the reader (especially the non-theater professional reader) see the script on stage, hear the actors, get the rhythm of a scene. The playwright does some of this, of course, but my task as editor is to make sure it all translates to a general audience.

What is fun about the process is how much time I get to spend with the words. When I first read Evan Guilford-Blake's play (based upon the Edward Hopper painting), of course I liked it. I wouldn't be telling you about it now if I hadn't. But now that I have to go through the play line by line, it's fun to see the craft of playwriting up close.

Playwriting is all about the sound, of course. In that sense, it's not all that different from poetry, except the sound has to sound like speech, and what's more, each character has to sound like an individual speaker. There can be heightened language, as in poetry, but it has to fit a character. Evan does that nicely with these characters. I can tell he heard these characters in his head and he worked hard to make sure we could hear them, too. Now, that means there's some dialect in this script. Conventional wisdom says (at least among prose fiction writers) that if you can avoid dialect, do so. Convey education or regionalism with speech patterns or other descriptive words, but avoid the contractions and misspellings that can make a reader go crazy trying to decipher words.

Evan uses dialect. He conveys characters with misspelled words. And I don't think you could get the sound he has in his head without it. "Okay" doesn't tell me the same thing about a character that "Ah-kay." does. I think (and I hope casual readers will agree) that Evan gives us these clues to the characters' speech patterns without making our eyes stumble---or if we stumble, we re-read it, get it, and get more than the simple words on the page tell us.

There's much work to be done on this book, but I'm finding it very enjoyable labor. This is going to be a fine addition to the neoNuma catalog. Keep watching this blog for announcements about availability.


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