Tag Archives: public speaking

In which metaphors start off okay, then start to go wrong.

Ahoy fine people!  So, I went to Davis.  I am super proud of the Aggie students and faculty.  At the protest, the kids were so cute and polite and respectful it was almost wrong.  (Come on!  Get MAD!)  But there sure were a whole lot of us.  Thousands upon thousands.

Yay us!

Would you like to see a whole bunch of me?  If so, please come to the Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley this Thursday at 1 PM to watch me shower the audience with history, romance, and my dazzling personality.  If you would like to see a little less of me–like maybe have a little amuse-bouche of me rather than the full-on Elena platter–please come to the Babylon Salon Reading Series at the Cantina in San Francisco this Saturday at 7 PM.  I will be part of a varied tasting menu of delicious authors.

This week, I have submitted to my ongoing obsession with this whole Titanic thing and written a short, hopefully polished piece about it.  I also got feedback from my agent about the perfume nose story, so that one’s back on the table.  Short stories are good: it’s kind of a relief to suck over the course of fifteen pages rather than suck over the course of three hundred.  To stay fit, you have to vary your training in sucking: even if a suckage marathon is the goal, sometimes you have to do a suckage sprint to keep your prose muscles spry at sucking.  Wow.  I apologize for the last two sentences.  But, clearly I am not ashamed enough of myself, because I did not delete them.

It ends in a maudlin display, as promised.

Helloooooo fine people.

This here is the first blog post I am writing totally wasted.  Let’s see what happens.  I pulled a muscle in my chest, which I truly don’t advise, because it hurts when you breathe, which is, like, you know, most of the time.   Anyway, the nice people at Kaiser put me on Vicodin.  I have not been awake for more than 30 minutes at a time since Sunday morning.  Even my cats are impressed at my newly found marathon sleeping abilities.  Also, a warning: being high makes me maudlin.  I apologize in advance for what may come out of me before the end of this post.  (Yesterday I asked a friend, all dreamy-eyed, what he is like when he is in love.  Seriously, I am dangerous.)

I had an awesome reading at Lit Crawl on Saturday night, before I was felled by the Gods.  It was great fun; the room was packed and attentive, and they applauded me with gusto.  An author’s dream, which contrasts beautifully with those readings one occasionally has to give at bookstores to like one employee and one old lady with a broken hearing aid.

AND…  I have smashing news.  Drum roll…  The story I had performed at Sacramento’s Stories on Stage, “Commuting,” sold to Zyzzyva.  Awesomepants, no?  I do not yet know what issue it will be in, but will of course keep you posted so that you can all run out and buy it and then run through the streets proclaiming the transcendent benefits of my prose.

Damn, I am so wasted.

I have to go back to sleep momentarily.  But, it seems unsportsmanlike to leave you without the maudlin display promised earlier.  So, I will say, I very much like what is happening in this country right now.

I missed you, America.  I love you, America.  I believe in you, America.  Be your promise.  Rise.

July events. And fish paste.

Come to Books Inc. in Berkeley tomorrow for a Bastille Day event with me and mystery writer Cara Black!  There will be wine and cheese and much frenchiness.  Cara is trying to talk me into singing the Marseillaise.  Seriously, you can’t possibly miss me embarrassing myself to this degree.

Also cool: my story “Commuting” is going to be performed at Sacramento’s Stories on Stage on the 29th.  I am very stoked and somewhat terrified about this (imagine some other voice performing your voice!).  Do take a look at the lovely interview Sue Staats did of me for the Stories on Stage blog.  If you come and someone in the audience bursts into flames from brain overload, that would probably be me.

I had the most fabulous dream: I was playing a Disneyfied under-the-sea videogame in which I had to go up all the levels of the ocean in order to reach the surface and ascend to meet Poseidon on Olympus.  I did it as a merman and everything was cool.  Then I did it as Ariel, the little mermaid from the Disney movie, and on the way up through the sky to meet my maker, I was sucked into the turbine of a jet engine.  It.  Was.  Awesome.

Either my unconscious was making some kind of commentary about inequality of the sexes, or it just wanted to grind some fish paste.

Girl, take off those seashells and give that lobster something to sing about.

Loins of Judas

Here I am announcing to the world that I ate an entire loaf of banana bread for lunch for I have no shame.  It was delicious, and I regret nothing.

There is a great interview of me up at Fiction Writer’s Review; they asked the best questions!  If you’re into books and authors, definitely look around that website, it is full of interesting, well-written stuff.

I just heard a cat throw up in the next room, but for now I am going to pretend I didn’t and continue typing…  A couple of weeks ago, I was one of five featured authors at a scholarship benefit for the Christamore House in Indianapolis.  It was an amazing trip: we raised over a hundred grand and I sold (and signed!) nearly three hundred books.  I completely winged a 10 minute speech in front of a crowd of 1000 people–and I happened to be AWESOME.  I only found out after that my image was projected to the audience from a GINORMOUS SCREEN above the stage, and I am exceedingly glad I did not know that while doing my thing up there as the self-consciousness of that knowledge would have definitely dampened my gregarious awesomeness.  (Seriously, imagine the zits and lines on your face blown up like a bajillion times for an audience big enough that you can’t hold it all at once in your visual field and you will see what I mean.)  Anyway, I had a grand time hanging out with the other fabulous authors (Meg Waite Clayton, Michael Koryta, Louis Bayard and Victoria Brown), being shuttled around in a gigantic limousine, cramming hors d’oeuvres in my face at a shameful rate in a room filled with women each wearing jewelry whose cost exceeds my annual income, and generally living someone else’s glamorous life for a couple of days.

I came down rather hard on my return home, as I caught quite an extravagant cold on the plane back, which is only now abating.  I’ve extruded a truly stunning amount of coagulated-pea-soup-looking mucus during the interim; I should have saved it all in a massive glass jar and submitted it to the Museum of Modern Art as an “installation.”  But, I bet Marina Abramovic already thought of this.  (Probably she mixed the mucus with accelerant, drenched her body in it, set herself on fire while chanting L’Internationale, and called the piece “Loins of Judas.”)

Tomorrow I am flying down to Los Angeles for the LA Times Festival of Books, where I will be performing “Loins of Judas.”  For now I am off to play a really exciting game called Find The Cat Puke, Hopefully Not By Stepping On It With My Bare Feet.

I am not real people; I like to tell stories and sleep a lot.

My health has kind of sucked lately, which unfortunately means I haven’t written anything in a while.  My ideas for my next book are sort of suspended in amber right now while my body is being an ass.  But, I got another blurb for 13 rue Thérèse and it is totally huggable, check it out:

13 rue Therese is a wildly imaginative, multifaceted, confection of a novel.  Like a master magician, Elena Mauli Shapiro gently introduces the beguiling Louise, and asks us to participate in solving her many mysteries.  Louise’s story, we are warned, has ensnared many great minds.  By the novel’s heady conclusion, we too have fallen captive to this most mischievous and provocative heroine.

–Maria Semple, author of This One is Mine

What a lot of great adjectives!  I eat them up.  Nom nom.

Meanwhile I got a confirmation e-mail for my reading at Litquake’s Lit Crawl on October 9th in San Francisco and I am very excited about it.  Not least because the e-mail included stuff to paste on my blog.  Because I am a big dork, I love to paste stuff.  Witness:

If you click on that cute little sticker, it will take you to the Litquake site listing all the cool events for the whole festival.  The specific event I will be reading at is listed here.  I also put it on my Events page.  Lit Crawl looks like a ginormous literary progressive, like bar-hopping with stories.  After the whole shabang, I have been invited to this party for which my name was put on a list.  Whoa.  I am also having business cards printed (a couple of people at the Sacramento panel asked me for one, which totally confused me, until I realized that I look like a grown-up, and technically maybe even a professional, and that I should have one).  Plus I finally broke down and acquired an iPhone.  All these things are harbingers of definite adulthood but I refuse to pay attention.  (Adults have great toys though.  Did you know that the primary function of the iPhone has nothing to do with telephone calls and everything to do with Pacman and taking goofy videos of your cats?)

Speaking of adulthood, when signing up for the iPhone, I had to go through this big security rigmarole during which I was asked about my mortgage and car loans.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Real people with real grown-up jobs at which they have to wear real grown-up clothes and use hilarious words like “synergy” and “productize” and “thinking outside the box” have mortgages and car loans!  I am not real people; I like to tell stories and sleep a lot.  I know: I am a bad, bad American.  Maybe it is because I am a native speaker of French but I cannot hear the word mortgage without being overly reminded of its etymology, which comes from the French “mort” and “gage,” literally: DEATH PLEDGE.  Oh dear.  Why would I want to sign up for one of those?

While we ponder that, here is another sticker for the road:

peeking around the stage curtain

I spent the evening in Sacramento at my first speaking engagement as an author!  It was a novel writing & publishing panel at UC Davis Extension, where I’ll also be teaching a course in about a month.  Anyway, I got to chat about my book and how it came to be, from inception to the travails of getting it represented and published.  It was the largest audience I have addressed so far (around 80?) save for the one time I got to introduce Tobias Wolff to an auditorium of about 300.  It was somehow not nerve-wracking at all; I guess all the teaching experience is good for making you mellow in front of groups of people.  When I did the Tobias Wolff thing five years ago, I was all shaky and suspected I might pass out!

While I was there, I got penciled in by some Sacramento library organization for a book round table thingy in March that sounds pretty fun.  When I get the e-mail with the details, I should forward it to my publicist to make sure it’s okay.  One of the other writers on tonight’s panel keeps a literary blog and asked if I could have my publisher send her galleys to review.  The lesson here, I guess, is that speaking engagements come with crazy amounts of networking.  Cool, because I suck at seeking that sort of stuff out for myself.

Other exciting buzz-type stuff: galleys are clearly being sent out to book bloggers.  I googled myself to find out what a prospective student might see if they searched for me and found this, this, and this.  That last one has a photo of the adorable package the book came in, with wrapping paper that matches the lid of Mme Brunet’s box, a tin of French candies, and a personal note from my editor.  Damn yo, Reagan Arthur Books knows how to do it up nice.

So, sleepy time for me.  It will be pleasant to drift off thinking there are people out there in the great big universe who are excited to read my baby.