Star Wars Book Review: LEIA, PRINCESS OF ALDERAAN ascends to queenhood

Politics is wearing your best poker face. 16-year-old Princess Leia Organa of planet Alderaan learns this the hard way when she stiffly applauds the Empire’s motions toward yet another despotic act.

Author Claudia Gray has considerable craft in fashioning a complicated but comprehensible political boiling pot in the Star Wars realm. Leia serves as a spiritual successor and chronological predecessor to Gray’s Bloodline, which bridged the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens and uncannily mirrored the beats of the 2016 U.S. election. As a secure marriage of political thriller and coming-of-age tale, Leia serves as a reprisal of Gray’s coverage of Leia’s political life, this time tapping into her teen time as a politician-in-training at the Apprentice Legislature.

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Literary Writers Conference Day 1: Sneaking a Star Wars Fanfiction Pitch to Literary Agents

Thank goodness for student discount for the Literary Writers Conference, run by CLMP.

Note to self: My practice YA query letter “ meet Rashomon meets Sound and the Fury” really threw the literary agents off. They rightfully insisted on the obvious: Um, what YA reader would even know the Akira Kurosawa and William Faulkner titles? 

What I didn’t tell the literary agents was that my practice query letter contained a pitch for a Star Wars fanfiction, since I had no finished manuscript. And to add to that, I plan on converting that fanfiction into an original piece. But I haven’t even finished said Star Wars fanfic.

I contemplated pitching the fanfiction premise for the speed-dating with two agents session, but decided to share my old dystopia fiction idea instead–which only has a first chapter draft. Turned out, even though both agents liked the premise, they didn’t do speculative/sci-fic, so I pitched a memoirish piece with Buddhist iconography. When you get an agent’s business card handed to you, you know you’ve done something right.

Things to do:

  • Freakin’ edit my hypothetical query letter
  • Finish my Star Wars fanfiction
  • For that matter, convert Star Wars fanfiction into that planned original piece
  • Actually finish the manuscript of my memoir

Also, ran into an old University of Houston classmate.

New School MFA Student Reading: “Lilaca” (My Screwed-Up Short Story Involving a Demon)

“Lilaca tried to disappear…”

I’m bad at nanowrimo2017. But I read my in-progress fantastical short story aloud to MFA students at the New School Wollman Hall. It’s perhaps the first short story I read publicly (I usually read poetry and read one satirical nonfiction-type piece in the past).

It’s grainy footage shot by a friend’s smartphone, but the audio is intact. Enjoy! Comments appreciated.

Feedback post-reading:

  • “You put headaches in a different light.”
  •  “That was intense.”
  • “I didn’t expect that.”

Verifying Authentic KFC-Bootleggy Texas Fried Chicken in Harlem

Ever since I left dear Houston, Texas to settle in Harlem, New York City, this has been a major mystery: Why didn’t I just walk into that nearby Texas Fried Chicken place sooner? How could I procrastinate on sampling a fried chicken place like I do with my novel writing (don’t get me started on my nanowrimonth2017 project)?

One Sunday, I decided to take a break from non-fiction homework and just stroll out into the breezy New York winter air for some brain exercise. Giving scathing critiques (haha, nah, constructive criticism) on my classmates’ stories could wait.

So the eye-catching thing about this store wasn’t the “Texas,” but the “Fried Chicken.” “Texas,” as I understood, was an arbitrary branding, as irrelevant as the “Kentucky” in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Hey, as long as it is meaty chicken and fried, I don’t care which state you claim that chicken is from–or more accurately, styled after. I didn’t walk in this store expecting a taste of nostalgia and a seasoning of long-lost Texas. Besides, I never got the impression that Texas had its own signature fried chicken.

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Right when I walk in, the server said, “Hello, Sister!” and I feel right at home. She called other customers, “Brother/Sister.” She asked me where I was from and was really happy to actually have a Texas customer.

I unearth this $4 combo meal.

If it wasn’t Captain Obvious enough, the Texas brand is bootleggy. But it was well-oiled, if not a tad over-greased. But it didn’t taste salty, which is important, so I didn’t feel like I was consuming too much sodium.

When I was telling my roommate about it, we discussed other knock-off joints like Kennedy Fried Chicken or Kansas Fried Chicken.

All in all, I was satisfied with the so-called Texas fried chicken. And a $4 meal was a good price. There’s room for me to get indulgent in the future and get the 3-piece $5 combo.

To my roommate, “As long as it taste fine, is not too salty, and is at a good price, I don’t care, I’ll eat it.” I’ll take it over KFC (I mean, the real Kentucky Fried Chicken) if the price is that good.

Then my roommate went, “I’m actually glad those knock-offs are around. They’re kinda taking money from capitalist corporation KFC.”

Fiction Forum with Édouard Louis

“There is nothing more objective than pain.”

Raised in the griminess of post-industrial northern France, French queer author Edouard Louis read a sample of The End of Eddy. Pulling no punches, he spoke about interrogating the class stratifications responsible for prejudice and poverty in his homeland.

Fiction Forum: Édouard Louis at @thenewschool #literature #books

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Reflection prompt: Write about the objectivity of pain and intersectional realities.

New School MFA Chapbook Reading

Nothing like going to a snack-filled reading with some amazing writers.

Darcy Rothbard reads "Blue" at @thenewschool at MFA Chapbook party #newschoolwrites

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Nicole V. Basta reading "V" at MFA Chapbook party at @thenewschool #newschoolwrites

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