5 Things I Learned from Chuck Palahniuk’s Book Event

In May, a friend and I went to see Chuck Palahniuk read from his new book Make Something Up. I arrived with a pen and notebook, ready to take notes from one of the masters of modern fiction.

Then, I was given a bag. In it was a beach ball and some glow sticks. I was told to write down my name on the ball, blow it up, and put the glow sticks inside. Adult note: have you had to blow up anything bigger than a balloon since you were a kid? What the heck, man.

I continued to expect a standard book event. I just figured this would be some sort of intellectual experiment. No problem. Moving on.

Then, Chuck showed up wearing a red silk bathrobe. When he started his talk, he said that he figured out he was the only one who got the memo about bedroom attire. Insert secret envy of how much more comfortable he was than me.

He continued on to say that if anyone in the audience wasn’t paying attention or was looking at that their phones while he was reading, he was “going to throw candy at their fucking heads.” He then proceeded to take out several Halloween-size bags of fun-size candies and hurled them through the auditorium. And I’m just going to tell you now that there are few things as terrifying as having the mind behind Fight Club chucking Reese’s cups at your cranium.

One of those other few terrifying things, however, was said literary mastermind explaining that the beach balls were going to be used to create a sort of real-life, human-scale lottery machine in which all the balls would be thrown into the center (where I was sitting) and a random one would be picked for prizes. He would play music (mostly 80s and some Abba as I recall) and we just had to…keep them going. In the dark.

This occurred at least 4 times during the night.

I never found that pen again.

So the five things I learned about readings?

1. Create an atmosphere of excitement and fun. People will be engaged not only with you but with each other.

2. Bring prizes. Guests will kill for them. It will be awesome.

3. Have something to break up reading pieces. You can be the best writer in the world, but after a while, words become words become words. Sound loses meaning. Have an event to wake people up and get their minds moving again.

4. Wear what you want. The more memorable, the better.

5. Defy expectation. With candy.

5 Things You Can Buy for Less than $15 to Help You Relax

If you are a fan of bohemian.on.rye, you know I love lists of 5 things. 5 things that one can do, 5 things that are awesome, 5 things I learned from some book/movie/etc. So this is my debut “5 things” post for all you lovelies.

1. Kinetic Sand

It’s not just for kids. The soft texture of this substance is extremely soothing to play with. I keep some on hand for when I am feeling especially anxious.

2. Bath bombs from Lush

Sex Bomb

So this one can be a bit of a slippery slope, because once you try pretty much anything from Lush, you’re going to be hooked. These extremely fragrant, fun balls will make your bath not only smell and feel great, but they look awesome.

3. Try Next Issue


I recently discovered this service, and I am hooked. Because I love buying magazines, but once I read them, I tend to keep giant stacks. For $10 a month, you can peruse a sizable catalog of monthly magazines and download new ones as they come out. Now when I’m feeling a bit too frazzled to get into a book, I’ll find a new magazine and flip through it on my tablet or smart phone.

4. A skein of yarn and some knitting needles

I learned how to knit on Saturday, and I can’t stop. It’s such a mindless activity that can give me a place to focus unwanted energy.

5. A video game on Steam

I love video games. I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I know what I like, and when I’m in a tense state of mind, nothing helps me blow off steam (har har) more than a few puzzle games. One of the great things about Steam is there is something for everyone (Sonic? Dragon’s Lair? Super Meatboy?) and there are frequent sales. You can pick up great games for pennies on the dollar at the right times.

What splurges do you allow yourself when you need to chill?

Shameless Self Promotion! #sorrynotsorry?

So I don’t do these very often, but there are a few things that have been going on that I want to tell all my lovely new followers, readers, and fans about!

1. 2nd edition of Cape and Dagger is available on Amazon AND at Rickert & Beagle Books. You can also get it on Kindle if that’s your jam.
2. My poetry collection Pickled Miracles is also available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.
3. Did you know you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram under bohemianonrye? It’s true. Ask all the cool kids who are doing it.
4. I’m shooting for 100 follows on Facebook. So tell your friends. Tell your enemies too. I’m not picky.
5. You all are super awesome and I love you.

Dum Dum! or the Mystery of SVU

I look up. 5 hours have passed. I told myself I would just lie down on the couch, turn on something mindless, and fall asleep while my blood slowly turned neon orange from industrial-grade Dayquil. But there’s been no sleeping, other than maybe a wink or two during commercials.

Why, you ask?


Because each time, I’ve turned on Law and Order: SVU. And down I’ve fallen into an endless spiral of crime and punishment, Elliot and Olivia, the magnetic charisma that is Ice T. And even when Husbando has come in to check on me, sometimes he’s found himself sitting down and becoming tangled in the web of justice that is the Special Victim’s Unit.

But why?

What is it about this show that commands endless attention?

So, as I watched this evening (because what else are you going to watch before the season premiere of GAME OF THRONES?), I started taking some notes.

– Immediate emotional engagement: Law and Order reigns over the court of television shows as King of the Cold Opening. But there’s something about those first five minutes of SVU that grips me like no other crime drama. Perhaps it’s the fact that so often we are thrown into an aftermath of a crime that isn’t just a body in a dumpster. There is something very human about what we’re heading into from the get-go.

– The unexpected twist: this can be considered a staple of the genre – the good ol’ butler-did-it – but SVU again makes this bit its own. We get not only the wrong suspects, but we watch the horrible process of their being dragged out with their own personal demons clinging to their ankles. We get to see how it could have easily been a story about them, whether they are the victim or the villain.

– A persistent rise and fall between action and drama: this. Show. Isn’t. Boring. Each scene and exchange is no longer than about 5 minutes. Then…BAM. Shit gets real. BAM. We’re seeing the fallout. BAM. More. BAM. BAM. BAM. There’s never really a recovery period. We’re on this ride from the start to the end. You can catch your breath during the commercials.

– Unique voices: I think my biggest problem with a lot of other television dramas is that the characters begin to run together. If I lose focus, voices and expressions and reactions all blend into this one Good Guy or Character Representing the Faction of ____. But in SVU, every one is a little different. Victims react to things in different ways. Not everything is so cut and dry.

– Solid satisfying resolution…well, mostly: at the end of every 50-some minute episode, there’s an ending. We know what has happened, we know where everyone is at the end, we know that whatever has happened with this case is what will happen. And yet…not entirely. We are left at times wondering what is happening in the minds of the heroes and the evildoers alike. We wonder what lasting damage this has left on the NYPD, the citizens, and the justice system itself.

If I ever write a television show, I hope it works as well as SVU.

Okay, scratch that. When I write anything.

You Might Think It’s Easy, But It’s Snot


Since I got back on Sunday, I have been sick.

Husbando had had a head cold a few weeks previously, and I felt like I had somehow sneaked past without getting its attention. As if the cold were a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and I was Sam Neill with the flare. Little did I realize that in no time I would end up a bit more like…Jeff Goldblum. You know, where he spazzes out and people start dying.

As a result, I’ve been floundering trying to be productive. And you’d think, “Oh, you can just blog while you’re lying in bed.” But it’s not so easy. Because that requires thinking, and that’s no simple feat when your brain is drowning in mucus.


Here are a few things you can do if you, like me, get sick and feel like a worthless sack:

1. Catch up on some research — Take a look at some of those places you’re going to feature in your next book. Or search for inspiring images on Pinterest to motivate you to get a better sense of your characters.

2. Write some poetry — Don’t think too hard on it. Just let it flow out onto the paper.

3. Make a list — I love lists, if you couldn’t tell that from March’s 30 Lists. But they really are a good way to collect your thoughts in a short, sweet way. Think about what you’re going to blog about, what topics you want to write about, what books have inspired you.

4. Go easy on yourself — If you push too hard, you’re going to wind up sicker for a longer amount of time. Take frequent breaks. Keep hydrated. Get plenty of sleep.

5. Catch up on other writers’ blogs — We’re always telling ourselves not to fall down the blog rabbit hole, but in truth, when you’re having a hard time getting anything done, you can draw strength from awesome writers around you. Indulge and take a look at, say, Terrible Minds. Or The Cult.

Now you’re all set to feel better about not doing anything because life is currently a snotty mountain of tissues. Huzzah!