Posts Tagged 'Annameekee Hesik'

Book Arrival

There was a thud on the porch.

“More shoes for you, Annameekee!” Mary called to me.

We were both napping, though in different rooms.  It had been a long week and adjusting from summer life to teaching and mentoring life was tough.

I stumbled out of the bedroom and opened the door. “More shoes,” I grumbled as I bent down to pick up the box. It’s not like I am a shoe diva- far from it. It’s just that I can’t find a freaking decent pair of shoes in all of Santa Cruz, so I do the unthinkable: order several shoes from Shoebuy and then return what I don’t like, which in most cases, is all of them.  Don’t judge me.

Anyway, back to the box.  I bent down to pick it up and it was certainly not shoes. This box was heavy! “What’s this?” I looked at the label, but didn’t recognize the shipper. “Hmm.” I got the nearest car keys and busted through the tape.  At that moment, it hit me: heavy box + release date coming up = NO WAY!!

Yes way!!!  My book!  It was real! And in my house! What?!  Here’s a pic of it all snuggled up in its box!

“Mary! Look!” I held one up.  “Can you believe it?”

“Of course I can!” She jumped up and ran over to hug me. “It looks amazing!”

I smiled from ear to ear until my cheeks hurt. (see picture)

I have been through so, so much to get this book published: Weird agents that disappeared, editors that loved it then moved or had babies, publishing companies that posted my book all over the internet then went bankrupt leaving me with the embarrassment of having to tell everyone who ordered it that it would never come, a new agent, a new publishing company (Bold Strokes Books! Yay!), and a new title. And there it was in my hands- The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year by Annameekee “THAT’S ME!” Hesik. Well, well, well.

Of course, the whole family wanted to read it right away.  Here’s Aggie, the super dog, totally engrossed in Chapter 5:

And then kitty Matisse demanded that I hold it up for her review.

She was severely disappointed that the book didn’t feature a cat named Matisse.  In fact, she was so bothered she destroyed the cover of the book that I took out of the box to have around the house to show friends.  I forgave her.  It was that or suffer  5AM wake up calls for the next three weeks.

So now what?!  I have a reading booked at Book Shop Santa Cruz, but it’s not until January.  Hmmm…A reading at the school where I used to teach sounds like fun.  Then there’s a possible reading in Seattle and, hey now, London.  But don’t worry, I will keep you all posted.  In the meantime, check out my totes awesome webbie site on the interwebs: www.annameekee.com and twitter- theyouknowwhogirls and email: annameekee@yahoo.com  and goodreads.com and, and, and…oh yes, Facebook! Annameekee Hesik (YA Author) Whew!!

Better get back to the second book in the series!

Love, hugs, unicorns, and rainbows!!

Annameekee Hesik

Final Reflections on the LLF LGBT Writer’s Retreat

BY  ANNAMEEKEE HESIK

Me and Alex Sanchez! (The classic Hesik long-arm photo!)

Top three surreal moments of the week:

3. Being so inspired that the first and last thing I did each day was write, write, write!

2. Having Dorothy Alison call out, “Hey, Good Looking!” to me as I crossed the parking lot to say hi to her.

1. Sitting in a dark room at The Getty, watching Madonna’s “Cherish” music video with Alex Sanchez.

This week was inspiring, life changing, jam-packed, exciting, educational, and super amazing! I learned so much from the incredible Alex Sanchez and from my talented cohort of writers.  I’m home now, and not only do I miss the three  kosher meals a day, but I miss my new friends and being part of a community of writers that was accepting, smart, creative, funny, and SO GAY!!

For the first time, I didn’t have to explain, defend, or worry about how others were going to react to my lesbian characters.  What a relief! Not only that, I got to read some of the most unique stories about other important queer experiences- experiences that soooo need to be shared.  Experiences that I know my students are having and that need to be written in books. I was in awe of the intelligent feedback and thoughtful comments that everyone in my group provided me and each other.  We were polite, but direct.  Friendly, yet professional.  I hope to remain friends with these writers for many years to come.  Here they are! I’m in the front row on the far left.  Alex is two seats over in purple.

 

The overall arching theme of the week: Go Deeper Into the Emotions! Stay with the emotion of your protagonist. It’s great to have a lot of action on the page, but I need to remember to show the impact of the actions on my characters.  How does it make them feel? This is the biggest lesson I will take from my sessions with Alex. Ironically, here’s the brochure of the American Jewish University:

In addition to providing us with incredibly talented teachers, LLF also brought in a panel of industry experts, a YA editor (Arthur Levine!), and provided us the opportunity to read from our work in front of the entire group of attendees.  I read a found poem I wrote using Facebook posts and a bit from my novel, The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year (Bold Stokes Books, 2012).  It was really nerve-wracking, but a good experience for me since I will be doing book readings very soon!!

In addition to all that, we got off campus once in a while.  One day I totally got peer-pressured into going to The Getty!  Here’s a pic of me and my main squeezes.

Me, Alex Sanchez, Aj Reyes, and Jef Blocker at The Getty!

Totes working hard in class.

It was fun to get away, but for me, the gift of time was so valuable.  Here we are in class, working hard, critiquing each other’s work, and sharing ideas.  After class, I ate lunch and then headed right to my very own dorm room and wrote ALL afternoon until dinner!  In the pic, I already packed up and cleaned up. What you are not seeing here is how incredible sloppy I was during my stay!  It was really fun being a slob, but I like my tidy and BIG bed here at home better 🙂

This past week was one of the most valuable weeks of my writing career.  I feel so lucky to have been selected by Alex Sanchez to participate in LLF’s FIRST YA cohort!  I spent the week surrounded by smart, funny, and sweet people who all have the same goal as me: to provide LGBT youth and their allies with exciting, well-written books that are about their lives and their experiences. We are writing books that will touch our readers and change the way the world sees LBGT people and their families. It was a privilege to sit with these writers each day and to hear them tell/read their stories.

I will never forget this experience.

If you’re a writer of LGBT books, poetry, or non-fiction, I highly recommend you apply for this retreat.  If you are a reader, especially a YA reader, get ready…there are some amazing books coming your way!!

Tony Valenzuela and Jenn Reese, directors of the LLF LGBT Emerging Writer’s Retreat and all-around amazing people!

Thank you Alex, Jenn, Tony, my YA cohort, my lovely wife, and all my friends and family who helped me get there.

This little/big lesbian is ready to take on the world…and finish her next book!

Peace and love and LLF por vida,

Annameekee Hesik 

Write the book you want to write …

BY ANNAMEEKEE HESIK

Lady Trojan with Flip Flops and Blue Purse (Photo credit- Jef Blocker)

I am still buzzed from the readings of my peers.  Not buzzed in the drunk sort of way, or maybe I am. Drunk on sensory details and rhymes and dialogue and sharp edges and jolly rancher flavors and gun shots and smiles and dead horses and poisonous rings and mustaches and glances and empty beds and empty wombs and liars and flirts and sadness and first kisses. What an honor to be included in this cohort of writers.

In this picture next to these words I’m writing, I am pretending that I am a subject of the great Herb Ritts.  Oh mylanta, this guy…he’s OBSESSED with naked bodies.  But it’s more than that- a thousand times more than that. He takes a photo and transforms them using light and darkness and shadows and color.  I was transfixed as I looked at his work and leaned in closer to follow the lines of muscle and flesh.  I kept on thinking, we, us humans, are so beautiful. All of us in our bodies that somehow carry us through each day, enduring bruises and cancer and workouts and birth and broken bones and everything else- we are all beautiful.  And this place they call The Getty?  I could have just walked around the grounds all day, never even looked at “art”, and I would have been satisfied.  I felt like I was in a different land.  I will post more pics when I get home, so you get the idea. But then, there was art! Amazing pieces- everywhere!!! I mean, to wander from the ancient Greek vessels and marble statues in one hall, to the modern day gods in Herb Ritts’ photos was totally a trip.

 

We also had Arthur Levine stop by our little retreat to share some thoughts on writing YA, and writing in general.  It was lively speech, full of wonderful things that I didn’t record.  But here’s the summary in one sentence: Write the book you want to write and write it well.  So, there you go- the secret to getting your book published.  You are welcome.

I’ve never, ever, in all my years of attending writing conferences, felt this comfortable, welcomed, honored, and impressed.  The sentiments expressed tonight tells me I’m not alone. “I’m getting so sad about it coming to an end. It’s like the last night of camp,” one of my new friends said.  She’s so right.  I feel compelled to get addresses and take pictures tomorrow and make promises of reunions and visits to see my new friends.

Here’s to our last day.  I hope they serve something extra good in the cafeteria and I hope I get a spot at the cool table again.

Annameekee

You will not get rich as a writer…

BY ANNAMEEKEE HESIK

“Don’t waste your time blogging,” say the experts.  ”Sleep with as many of your local librarians and booksellers as you can!”

The industry panel was quite informative, I must say.  It was a motley, helpful, AND professional crew of panelist that certainly did not hold back.  In addition to the above advice, here’s what else I learned (the abbreviated version, anyway…after all, I don’t have time for this blogging crap.)

1. I can’t afford a publicist and I never will be able to afford one.

2. Being well-spoken and charismatic are good qualities to have if you plan on trying to sell your books to people who are not in your immediate family.

3. You should be nice to the people who are in charge of selling your book.  (Pies are a nice touch)

4. Know what you want to say about your book.  Be prepared and act excited about it, like you haven’t read it 101 times and are sick as hell about talking about it.

5. You will not get rich as a writer, so figure out why else you are doing it and keep on doing it if it involves not getting rich…or something along those lines. I stopped listening after, “You will not get rich…”

The good news is that I know why I write and it’s not to get rich or have fame.  I write these stories so that my adorable lesbian students, and all adorable teen lesbians around the globe, can have something funny and sweet and exciting to read.  I’ll keep my day job as a teacher- I mean, that’s where the big money is, after all.  I mean…I’m so hella rich. Ha ha. Sarcasm.

My YA group is a fascinatingly talented crew, and they all have so much to offer.  I have learned buckets and buckets of new things. I really admire their work and continue to feel like the luckiest little/big lesbian for being selected by THE ALEX SANCHEZ to be here this week.  He is such a kind, patient, and smart writer and person. I want to be like him when I grow up.

I got off campus twice today.  The first time, Jacks, Bridget, and I took a lovely drive (not) down Muholland Highway.  We arrived at a lovely urban forest (not) and took an invigorating hike through the trees (I wish.) We also shared our coming out stories while simultaneously being honked at by as!%@$# trying to let us know that they were in a really big hurry, just like the other hundred or so people stuck in traffic (true). They (Bridget and Jacks- not the asses honking) made the trip worth while, though, and their stories were much better than mine. I need to make up a better coming out story.  Email suggestions to me.

Then, AJ, Alysia, Kenny, Nina and I all piled into AJ’s surprisingly clean car and headed for, you know it, FRO YO!  I advocated for Yogurtland, so with the help of a smartphone and my SUPERB backseat driving skills, we arrived and chowed down on the first thing this week that had no potential of giving me heartburn.  It was like spooning heaven into my mouth, if heaven was made out of Salted Carmel yogurt sprinkled with bits of Reese’s, toffee, and strawberries, which I think it is. Then, I bought toothpaste.  Oh, and Ricky Martin showed up. It was a five star event.

Well, who’s the time waster now, huh?  I may have wasted time writing a blog, but you, my friend, read it!  Ha ha!  Take that! I’m just kidding. I take that back.  I love you, now please buy my book (Available at Bold Stroke Books).  Is that how this works??

Peace, love, and Tylenol PM,

Annameekee

..brought to you by broccoli

BY ANNAMEEKEE HESIK

Today’s blog is brought to you by broccoli – the vegetable that keeps on giving long after you have eaten it at lunch AND dinner.  Thank you, broccoli.

After today’s critique of my manuscript, I think I better understand how people with really creative and vocal multiple personalities must feel.  I mean, there you are, thinking your decision to take the bus downtown to wander the aisles of your favorite library seems like a good plan for a Sunday.  It’s what you, the real you, likes to do on Sunday.  It’s not glamorous, but it’s a good start to your day.  But then they chime in.  All these voices, offering ideas and changes and what ifs and maybe you coulds.   “What if you instead went to the zoo and fell into a vat of poisonous snakes? That would change your day up.”  ”Maybe you miss the bus and walk into a robbery at 7 11.” “I think you should still go to the library, but I am confused about why you like it there?  What’s at stake for you at the library? Go deeper.”  Sigh.  I just like library. Can’t that be enough?  It can in life, but not in a book.

A book is different, I know.  Every word and page has to move your character forward, reveal truths, introduce tension, intrigue readers to turn the page.  I get that, and the worst part is, I thought I did that.  So close, yet so far.  Great voice, great dialogue, great pacing, action packed, but…

I’m not worried yet.  Like I do when I drive around in San Fran, I shall overcome this seemingly frightening and impossible task.

Last night was the faculty reading event. At first, I sat down on the inner aisle, mid way back, eager for the event to start  Then, it was like Les Mis all over again….a tall-y sat right in front of me. Being a tall-y myself, I know that she did not mean to block my way, but I wasn’t going to spend another exciting event craning my already injured neck to see the stars of the show.  So, I went for the ultimate in viewing pleasure- I moved myself to the front row, right smack in line with the podium.  I’ll admit, I did have a fear that the other fellows were calling me a goodie two shoes or kiss ass, but as the readers presented I heard every word and I felt like the luckiest girl in the room.  I could see their faces clearly and feel the boom of anger and the ripple of fear, the softness of defeat, the swirls of confusion.  I was in the cool black water with Alex Sanchez, feeling a mass of something unknown bump my leg. I was on the phone with Cris Beam , shouting, “I’ll take her,” before really knowing what I had said, but knowing that it had to be done. I was on a trolley car with Jewelle Gomez as it rambled through town, mesmerized, too, by the survivor’s numbers, wanting so badly to look at her face but knowing that I had to be polite and not stare.  Finally, I was behind that white counter with Dorothy Alison.  The fluorescent lights trying to tell the world that I was under attack, that silver and black gun knocking against my forehead, and he’s shouting at us, “I could kill you!” I am with her and I feel that shift in my body, in my blood, and we are not leaving that goddamn store- no we are not.

Hands down- best seat in the house.

Conclusions from Day 2 of my retreat:

  • Broccoli is not invited to Day 3
  • Feedback is great.
  • It’s front row for me from now on.

Ok, time to go work out, review my manuscripts, and meet up with my posse of YA writers.  Here’s to another amazing day surrounded by amazing people.

Annameekee

I’m in gay heaven…

BY ANNAMEEKEE HESIK

Holy Queer Writers, Batman! I’m in gay heaven.

First I was met by a posse of awesomeness at the airport!  We all piled into a cab, grabbed some grub, then arrived at the American Jewish University in “the valley” of Bel Air.  Like the Fresh Prince, I feel like I have arrived, but I did not tell the cabby, “Yo Holmes, smell you later.” That would have been uncouth.

I checked into my room and took a nice little nap on my little twin bed.  I never stayed in dorms in college, and can’t imagine having to share this small of space with one other person, let alone two or three.  How do you kids do it?? Impressive.  After my nap and a couple of Tylenol, I headed down to mingle with folks.  Mingling with folks is not one of my favorite things to do, but everyone here made it very easy.  The other participants are so lovely; I felt right at home.  You would not believe how far some have come: NC, TX, FL, CT, WI, NY, KS, and even England and Vancouver.  Wowzahs.

Then we had dinner, a kosher dinner.  It was lovely. I didn’t have to worry about all the veggie food being gone before I got there because they said, “If you ain’t veggie, don’t take the veggie!”  What a relief.  I hate having to worry about whether or not the veggie options will still be there by the time I get to it.  I felt very well cared for. But, this is the boring part of the day, and I am sorry for wasting your precious time writing about it.  Here’s the good stuff.

I had dinner with Alex Sanchez. Yep, that’s right.  We chatted.  We hung out.  It was cool. You know, in a SUPER RAD AWESOME kind of way.  And then, on my way back from grabbing a delicious kosher brownie, I stopped to say hi to my pal Dorothy Alison.  She’s just like I remember her- funny, kind, sweet, and firery. We talked about our dogs and wives and all that jazz.  You know, just hanging out with my literary idols. No big whoop.

Then we met in our seminar groups.  Our group is ten big and full of experience and stories and funny people.  I can’t wait to hear more about their projects.  I volunteered to have my manuscript read first because I really want to spend the week on it and I’d love to incorporate the feedback I get into my writing.  Alex is going to be a great leader. This is going to be a great week.

I am so tired that I can hardly type.  Thank you to all who helped me get here.  You have no idea what it means to me to be able to finally work with other LGBT writers.  What a gift.

Peace and Love. More to come.

Annameekee


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