Noticing Magic Everywhere

Kate Comings' journal

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Wordstock 2013

I’m so glad I went. This is the last year Wordstock will be at the Oregon Convention Center, and the next Wordstock literary festival won’t be until Spring of 2015.

A few photos from around the book fair…





Saturday, my first stop was a panel discussion with thriller writers, “The Dark Side, Creating Suspense” with Adam Mansbach (The Dead Run), A.M. Homes (May We Be Forgiven), Mark Sullivan (Rogue), and Chelsea Cain (Let Me Go). These guys were having a ball talking about writing thrillers, and I will be reading their new books.


Jennie Shortridge reading from Love, Water, Memory, about Lucie, a Seattle woman in a dissociative fugue, who “wakes up” knee deep in the San Francisco Bay, remembering nothing. I’m halfway through that book right now; I can’t put it down.


Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, Boxes, and Saints, and Craig Thompson, author of Blankets and Habibiall graphic novels. Creating a graphic novel is hugely time-consuming. Yang said, “Comics have a way of eating your life.”


Alissa Nutting, Leni Zumas, Tom Barbush, and Benjamin Percy.


Sunday, I arrived early to catch this panel, “The Short Story vs. The Novel,”  because Benjamin Percy was on it. I had never heard of him before I heard him read from his book, The Wilding two years ago. His stuff is very dark, scary, and creepy, but his writing is gorgeous, maybe the best I’ve ever read. I’m not familiar with the other authors on the panel and will check them out. Alissa Nutting was hilarious– “The good in the world is, like, extinguished daily.”


Adam Mansbach read from his new book, The Dead Run, and Mark Sullivan read from Rogue. I can’t wait to read their books.


Tom Spanbauer read a whole chapter from his upcoming book, I Loved You More. It was So. Incredibly. Sad. Wow!


Benjamin Percy read from his latest book, Red Moon, a terrifying episode that kept building and left me wrung out and shaken even though I had read the book a couple of times. Listening to anyone else after that would be a let-down, so I called it a day. I don’t know when I’ll go to the Convention Center again since Wordstock is moving. I took a couple of farewell shots on my way out.




Starting Over


A dark, cloudy day at Mt. Tabor Park. It’s about to rain.

It’s a blustery first day of autumn; time to start a new blog. My last post on my old blog was about my trip south in the dead of winter for what turned out to be my ailing, elderly mother’s last days. I went down again to help my sister go through our parents’ things and clear out the house–so much stuff! 

I wrote a lot; just not my blog. I finished another novel, tentatively called Hostages. Before my mom’s death, I was busy sending stuff out and working on my “platform,” but in the past months, getting my work out into the world wasn’t important to me. I only cared about the writing itself. Now I have to decide what to do with these books I’ve written; whether to self-publish or go the traditional route and query agents… Meanwhile, I’m revising and editing to make it my best work.

When I wasn’t writing, I took lots and lots of photographs. During the sad times, wandering around with a camera seemed to help more than anything else, even though I didn’t know anything about photography. It got me to notice things and kept me in the present moment. I just aimed the camera and pushed the shutter button. Doing it was what counted.

My sister, Carolyn, and I are in the middle of an online photography class at Flying Photo School, and for the first time, I’m learning about ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and a lot more about what goes into taking a photo–there’s so much new stuff to remember and take into account. Now, I have about the same percentage of photos that come out well, but I’ll keep practicing until the settings are as natural to me as breathing. It’s math, really–like learning long division, but unlike division, it’s fun!

In the woods, wooly bear caterpillars are all over the place, predicting a harsh winter. 


It was a steamy, muggy summer. Today I revel in the sound of wind in the trees and falling rain. The air smells of rain and chimney smoke. I’m looking forward to the fall colors.