Coming very soon…

A new look for this site, and news about Wendy’s middle grade novel, Wanderville, which will be out January 23rd, 2014!

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Road post!

Posting from the road! The car! Headed to Michigan to visit Chris’s folks for the holidays. This will be brief and filled with blurry photos. I do it for you, Holidailies.

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We take the Skyway, which we get to from a ramp that swoops up absurdly high from Stony Island Avenue; driving up it makes us feel like we’re launching into the air like in a cartoon. A few minutes later we reach the bridge, and after that, the steel plants and Gary. It’s the loneliest landscape ever and it’s always either overcast or impossibly bright bleached-out sunlit (it was this morning). You always feel like you’re the only ones on earth on that part of the trip, just you in your car hurtling through.

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We made it through the snow corridor (southwest Michigan) without snow, which is swell from a weather standpoint, but I miss the way it makes the trip a little more epic.

We’ve passed three billboards for Bronner’s so far. Also, Larry The Cable Guy is appearing at the Firekeepers Casino, and his face appears on a giant LED display the size of a trailer and I bet it looks terrifying at night.

On tiny road trips like this it feels like anything goes. We only have to follow the directives of the Garmin Lady Voice, and even then we tend to leave her huffily RECALCULATING a lot as we stop to get gas and jerky and Taco Bell (we will not speak of Taco Bell). Even when it’s not Christmas it feels strange and time-suspended, and now, with carols playing at the gas stations, it’s even more so.

I leave you with this amazingly emphatic sign. I don’t quite understand it, but hey, it has spirit. Not Christmas spirit, but Almost Holiday Transitional Time spirit. God bless us everyone, and here’s some cheap cookies.

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West From Home

At Larkin & Turk

(At Larkin and Turk streets, San Francisco, 2005)

So tomorrow I fly out to Austin to start the Wilder Life paperback book tour, and from there I go on to San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and Portland. I’ve never been to Austin before (no, not even to that SXSW thing), but it turns out my great-great-grandparents lived there for a while, right across from the Capitol in a big white house, and are now buried in Oakwood Cemetery, so I’ll have to pay them a brief visit before I read at BookPeople.

As for the West Coast events, I’ll be at two of the same bookstores I visited in 2005 when I’m Not the New Me came out, in Seattle and Portland. That trip was my very first taste of book tour life, seven years ago this month, and there are all these things that I want to remember about it before I go out there and experience it all again. First there was the launch reading in Chicago, where afterwards I’d gone out to the Double Door and met some guy named Chris. We’d started exchanging emails the next day, and we probably would have gone on a first date that same week if I hadn’t been going out of town.

The trip wasn’t a full-fledged book tour, just a few bookstore and media appearances that my publisher wrangled after I let them know I’d be in Seattle for a work conference (in other words, the flight and hotel were already taken care of). I had a day or two to myself after the conference and I spent it hanging around the city—one day I figured out the bus system so I could go get a haircut up in Capitol Hill, another day I went to Pike Place Market and bought a copy of The San Francisco Chronicle at a newsstand because I’d been told the paper was covering my book. I sat in a bakery at the market and ate breakfast and read the review written by this woman named Jami, who would later be my friend Jami.

The publisher sent a town car one morning to take me to do a local TV morning show appearance, and on the way back to my hotel the driver stopped at a cafe so I could run in and get coffee. People in the cafe kept looking out the window at the big black car waiting outside, and at me as I waited in line. “Are you… someone?” the girl at the counter asked, really tentatively. No, I told her.

The next day the car took me out to Third Place Books, where I was relieved to find that most of the chairs they’d set out for the event were filled. The booksellers (one of them also named Wendy I think) told me that Jane Fonda had done an event there earlier that week, and that the big unopened bottle of extra-nice Fiji water waiting for me on the podium had been Jane’s water, specially requested, but she hadn’t touched it. Of course I was thrilled, and then I guess a few sips of the Jane Fonda water must have emboldened me, because suddenly, right there in front of the audience, I decided to call this Chris guy that I’d met back in Chicago. Well, prank-call him, that is. I called him on my cell phone and when he answered I asked him if his refrigerator was running. He said yes, and I held out the phone to the audience, who yelled, THEN GO CATCH IT! Then I hung up as fast as I could and turned the phone off.

After the reading at Third Place, the big black car drove through the night to Portland because I had morning TV there the next day to promote my event at Powell’s. I met my media escort at 6am in the lobby of the hotel where I’d barely slept. The escort told me the TV show was live with a studio audience, so I sat in the green room feeling anxious and a little sick. But as I watched the show on the monitor, a segment came on about some new kind of cellulite treatment, and the news crew was visiting some spa and filming a woman in a leotard lying face down on a spa table while spa technicians were using these crazy rolling pins on the backs of her thighs. She was being interviewed as she lay there, the camera panning from her backside up to her face and then back again, and I thought, well, whatever happens to me on live TV, at least I’m not Roller Butt Lady. Then I went out to do my segment, and the studio audience turned out to be just a set of bleachers and a very sweet Cub Scout troop, and that was even better.

A couple months after that I flew back out west for two events in California, traveling mostly on my own dime. First I read in LA, where only about three people showed up, and then when I arrived in San Francisco I discovered I’d shown up the day before Pride Weekend, and the courtyard of the cool little hotel I’d picked was taken over by a massive private party hosted by drag queens. Again I had a few days to myself before my book event; at night I’d have long I-miss-you phone calls with Chris, who by now was my boyfriend Chris, and during the days I’d wander around seeing the city, and meeting with folks like Kevin and the women at Bitch magazine helped ward off the homesickness. Finally I did my event at the now-sadly defunct A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, and it was so much fun I didn’t even mind when the folding podium collapsed. By then I’d done a dozen events, and over twenty radio interviews by phone, and I was getting used to all of it, being slightly rumpled, and drinking other people’s water, and smiling graciously when people mistake you for someone.

So now I’m doing so much of it again—the Bay Area (two new places for me, Bookshop West Portal and A Great Good Place for Books), the drive through the night from Seattle to Portland, the incredibly short hotel stay (this time in Seattle), Third Place, Powell’s, the morning TV sutff.  I’ll see Jami in Austin because it turns out she’s there right now, too, and her new book, which you will hear about, is coming out soon. And then Chris is flying out Tuesday to join me for the rest of the trip, and we’ll get to see everything I was telling him about during those first few months seven years ago, everything that I wanted to show him back then. And we’ll see you, too.

Ten pictures of the past five months

Oh, I know: it’s been so long. The book and I took up residence over at the Facebook page, where throughout all the mayhem of publicity and work at Whitman and wedding planning I could like like like my heart out. But thumbs-up gestures aren’t terribly reflective and I’ve been wanting to get back here for awhile.

So in April the book came out, which required me to travel all around the Midwest, sometimes with Chris, always making a churn-toting spectacle of myself. For about six weeks in April and May there were constant trips—an epic Kansas/Missouri/Iowa/Minnesota trip, a Wisconsin trip, an East Coast leg in New York and North Carolina, early evening car trips out to the bookstores in the suburbs.

Marianne in Durham made a prairie cake, while a Pudd’nhead Books patron in St. Louis made Big Woods buttons (I think there are some Farmer Boy faces in there, too). Jami had a party on her roof. I loved all of it so much.

 

I don’t know how, with all the travel we did in the Midwest this spring, we managed to avoid the myriad tornadoes and floods—somehow they all happened during the days we were home. This isn’t to say there wasn’t a lot of rain and weird green skies, like this one that we saw on our drive to Iowa City. And come to think of it, on the way back from Madison I did spend a pretty freaky twenty minutes stopped in traffic on the interstate while hail pelted my rental car. Still, I feel lucky.

 

On Easter morning we looked out our front windows and saw a chicken running around in the street. For about three days it hung out in our neighborhood, hiding in flower beds and posing for cell phone pictures. It really didn’t look like things would end well for this chicken, but our neighbors caught it in a laundry basket and found it a home with an urban chicken coop.

 

I can’t even begin to explain what’s going on here. This is me and Alison Arngrim and the butter churn and a martini shaker and some lyrics from “Rapper’s Delight.”  Maybe you can take it from here.

 

There was more travel in June, to New Mexico and then New Orleans, which I barely got to see beyond a couple of early mornings in the French Quarter. If nothing else, there were beignets and those steamy windows.

 

We’re not having attendants, so without bridesmaid dresses to worry about, I had no idea how to figure out My Colors. There needs to be a kind of litmus paper that can take a dab of bridal stress sweat and turn just the right shades to suit your wedding style. Based on the reception linen swatches below it would appear that we’re having a coffeecake-themed wedding, but sadly that is not the case. (Also, this Wendy McClure’s Wedding Blog is not mine, but it fascinates me, because Other Wendy McClure’s wedding is a week before ours, so it’s like a portal into my alternate reality wedding future. I wish she would update, because what is she worrying about now that I will have to worry about a week from now? Oh, wait: EVERYTHING, probably. Never mind.)

The last trip of the summer was for an event in St. Joseph, Michigan last month, and after my last churning demonstration for the time being, Chris and I wandered around in the antique stores and the crazy five-and-dime they have there. Next week I’m marrying the guy in this hat.

I can’t believe it. Thank you to everyone who helped make these past few months too incredible for words (and pictures). It’s gone by so fast! But that also means I’ll see you soon.

FYI to feed subscribers

Last weekend I paid a genius to redirect Poundy.com to WendyMcClure.net and merge the RSS feeds, and it appears to have worked beautifully. However, if you read the site through something like Google Reader, you may have noticed a few older entries showing up as new posts. Just in case you were wondering how on earth I could be going to LauraPalooza AGAIN.

More soon.

Watch this space…

for more about the book, which is now beginning its journey to publication in April 2011.

(I no longer need for you to email me and share your Laura memories, per the blog post below from a year ago. I mean I don’t need them to go in the book, but of course if you want to share, I will not mind one bit if you write me.)

In the meantime, I am heading out west yet again tomorrow for the first-ever LauraPalooza festival/conference/geekout. See you in a bit!