Monday, October 31, 2011


What they don't tell you is that being a person with a disability involves a lot of phone calls. Today I have talked to all the doctors, insurance people and disability services providers ever.

I have also started this post several times, and eaten in the dining hall (I forget why I avoid that place. Then I eat fruity Cheerios for lunch and remember...)

November starts tomorrow, and all over the world writers are preparing to write a novel in a month. But not this writer. I've been there, done that for the past seven years, but this year because I have Way Too Much Else Going On, I'm not.

Instead, I will be focusing n querying. I've sent out many queries since I started the process in June, but I've been sort of...timid about it. Batch querying works for many people, but all it does is make me second guess myself. So I'm going to jump in with both feet.

I'm going to send out one query every weekday in November.

With the random number generator and my (hella long) agent list at my side, I am going to query whoever it tells me to (N.B. my list is already-researched. These are all agents I believe would be a good fit for me and my MS)

Twenty queries in thirty days.

That's my November goal. What's yours?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Five!

1. I brought out Henry for the first time this year (okay, since April. This school year). For those of you new to the blog, and my wacky ways, Henry is my sock monkey hat. He was my post-NaNoWriMo gift to myself last year. He's lovely and warm and gives a certain je ne sais quoi to my attempts to be professional. That said, it is not yet Halloween. Henry should stay on the hat rack for another month at least, what is going on here New England? it snowed last might. SNOWED.

2. Speaking of NaNoWriMo, I'm not NaNoing this year. For the first time since I was fifteen, I will not be attempting the insanity of writing a novel in a month. Partially, this is because I wrote a novel in September and October. It needs to be revised, and I'm revising another one. Secondly, I don't have a good idea for a NaNo at the moment. Thirdly,  I realized something recently. I've only really liked and continued to work on one of the NaNoNovels I actually finished in a month. My two other main projects weren't actually finished during the month. Their final versions came when they were good and ready.

So, short story: Not doing Nano. What I will be doing is querying. More on that later.

3. I read The Night Circus last night. It is the perfect book for a Massachusetts fall, even though most of it takes place in London. Still, the detail and description of spiced cider and hot chocolate made me feel warmer in my frozen state. Pick it up before the snow dulls the Autumnal love. Oh wait...

4. I'm not going to link to the article because I don't want to inadvertently unleash people onto the family featured, but I came across an article in my research for my volunteer position (I'm running a disability-related non-profit's social networking). It was one of your standard kid-with-disabilities-does-well (in this case plays football) local news pieces, but done horribly.

The term "special needs kid" was used. I understand special needs vs. disabilities. People consider it more all-encompassing. Whatever. But PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS. Not SPECIAL NEEDS PEOPLE. It's important.

His MOTHER asserted the kid would probably never get a chance like this again, "being that he's limited". Being. That. He's. Limited.

He has Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy according to the article. He's not the boy in the plastic bubble. I'm sure he has to do stuff differently but....

Being that I'm limited, I don't have the words to express my annoyance.

Being that I'm limited, I am simply going to show you a video of the muppets and move on.

Being that I'm limited, I totally don't have to write this paper on an 18th century children's novel! Oh...Wait.

Being that I'm limited means jack squat. Right.


Final Muppet trailer (watch 'til the end. It gets HILARIOUS)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Gimp Seats

In England, when you call for accessible seating for a gig you often get a lower price.

Not so in the States, I rarely ask for accessible seating, unless it's a stadium show and I know I'll need to get anything like decent seats. I like being up close, as well, and I have this belief that it's better to fight for my close seating. I use my cane to do this, surely that counts.

I also take pride in the way I've gained the ability to stand during a show, so I hate admitting i can't always.

At the Kate Voegele show, I realized how stupid this is.

I went into the venue, bought a glass of wine to take the edge off of having wiped out in front of everyone on a busy T-train, and wandered over to the raised floor in front of the stage. I planned to stand on the side, maybe near on railing on one of he edges.

I hovered off to the side of the very from. In a small roped-off area a woman in a wheelchair and her friend stood. They asked me if I wanted to stand in front of them in their "special VIP section" wink-wink. I demurred for a second, but then decided what the heck.

I had an incredible view. I can't show you because my phone had to be wiped, but trust me. Incredible.

And while I talked with the two women I wondered why I don't usually click the "click here for accessible tickets" button on Ticketmaster. Sometimes I'm afraid if I do and they can't assist me I won't get tickets. This is stupid. Accessible seats rarely sell out. Sometimes I think it's because since I can stand/get to the front/whatever that I should.

Story time:

--The first time I saw Ingrid Michealson she was opening for Matt Nathanson. My friend and I left after she played. I sent her a MySpace message (Oh, 2008) thanking her and saying how I wished I could have stayed but I couldn't stand for long periods of time. She said next time she'd get me a chair. (Adorable, right?)

That time I did call the venue, they didn't have accessible seating because they didn't have seats.  But now I am partially in love with Matt Nathanson, and I regret not seeing him then. I wish I hadn't assumed I couldn't stand.

Contrast that with this:

--Last year at my fourth Ingrid Michaelson concert I almost passed out at House of Blues Boston. The stage isn't raised, and if you get to the front there are a thousand people behind you trying to push closer. Add that to body heat and a semi-tight belt on a dress and...yeah. By then I'd long ago stopped calling venues.

My new friend at the Kate Voegele concert told me at HOB if you call, they give you a place right by the stage.

Now, I have been to venues where the accessible seats aren't near the stage. At the WIlbur Theatre last year I encounter this seeing the first night of The Dresden Dolls two Boston shows, and I chose to stand the second night. But I got a seat spur-of-the-moment. Had I called ahead, I could have asked. (Or, I guess, MySpaced Ingrid again...)

And maybe that's it. Knowing that even if I ask for help, I don't have to take it if it won't make my experience the one I want. It's not asking for unfair advantage, it's asking to be able to see a show like anyone else and feel safe and pain-free doing it. I can stand if I have to, but I should always make sure I don't have to.

I know plenty of people who use wheelchairs and love concerts. They're not afraid to ask to have a place where they can see and rock out.

Why should I be?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

RTW: Best Book of October

YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday topic today is:

What was the best book you read in October?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say a popular answer will be Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. And while I loved that book, it doesn't win the contest for me.

My best book of October was Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson.

From the London setting, to the awesome voice, to the Torchwood-like feel, Name of the Star had me desperate for the next book within ten seconds of reading it. Definitely my best book of October.

Closely followed by Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Miracle of Chucks

These are the shoes I'm wearing tomorrow.

Nothing much, right? Pretty, sure, but plenty of people have pink chucks. Granted, these are customized because that's the only way I could get the color I wanted, but plenty of people got them before t was taken out of the mainstream.

This is me and my sorority little sister a bit over a year and a half ago. The swelling in my legs is so noticeable to me in the image that I can't even really look at it.

I had Chucks then, a pair of purple hi-tops I couldn't' get on, and had only been able to wear for a few weeks after my first excess skin removal surgery which had been effectively reversed by an ill-timed infection. My black low-tops didn't fit very well. I usually wore stretched out, falling apart sneakers.

I don't know why but the surgery this summer took. I barely have to use compression bandages, or anything, and my black Chucks have been my go to shoes, worn so much it's hard to believe three months ago they were a concept.

Today I wore a skirt, leather jacket and black Chucks. hi-tops.. I had the style I'd wanted to have for so long. I know clothes don't make you, but for me they're a way of expressing myself, and to be limited in my choices the way I was hard. Trudging through the grass on the way to campus today, every time I looked down at my shoes it made me feel like a tiny miracle had happened, one only I really appreciated.

Tomorrow I'll be able to wear my new pink Chucks to lug library books around Cambridge, and they won't hurt. I won't pay the price later. Even now my heeled boots that hurt--no arch support whatsoever--don't cause permanent damage.

I can be the girl with cute sneakers, and it makes all the difference.

Now I just need red ones to replace these!

You will have shoes that cute again, kiddo.

Yes, okay, fine, those are Keds. I wasn't as styling as a four year old as I am now. Sue me.

PS. Don't you love how all my baby pictures involve me being a book freak? Those Berenstien Bear puppets are lined up to watch the Berenstien Bears with me.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Guy Who Ate My iPhone

I saw Kate Voegle play,and  bought a t-shirt, planning on leaving. However, after I bought my shirt, the merch dude gave me a wristband for the after show meet-and-greet. The first seventy-five people to buy a shirt or a CD got to meet her. Sweet, and an awesome business model.

I went out to the lobby-area of the venue, since I didn't care much about the headliner. We were still in-between sets, so all the lobby seats had been taken. I plopped down on the floor, legs daintily crossed to preserve what dignity my mini-skirt gave, then dug around in my bag for my book.

The headliner went on, there was a mad rush for the doors and a madder rush for seats. I moved to a spot next to a Mom-looking lady. Then I dove back into my Jo Knowles book.

About five minutes later, I wondered if I had my phone.

Seven minutes later, I started looking

Spoiler alert: I didn't.

The Mom-Like Person saw me frantically searching and asked if I'd lost my phone. She told me someone had turned it in. I asked her to watch my things and went into the venue to ask around. The merch girls sent me to a burly black security guy (I hate to stereotype, but there ALWAYS IS ONE) who found a...manager or something. They took me back to the lobby so they could hear my question.

"Okay," Manager Man said. "We'll look."

Cue ammeter hour. Guys in black shirts spoke into their walkie-talkies, walked back and forth through the lobby, sent curious glances my way. No phone.

Mom-Lady and her daughter told me the girls at the couch next to us had been the ones to find it. I asked them and they said they gave it to the guy right inside the door. I relayed this to the Manager.

Cue three more minutes of kerfuffle.

"Did he eat it?" I asked, not quite kidding.

Finally, Manager Guy appeared, with my phone in hand.

It was off (which, wouldn't On make more sense if the person who lost it tried to call it?)

It asked for my passcode. I entered it.

Wrong passcode.

Tried again.

Wrong passcode.

Wrong passcode

Try again in 1 minute.

Try again in 15 minutes.

I kept trying until it told me to try again in 60 minutes. At the meet-and-greet I got the girl behind me to take a picture for me. My iPhone is currently restoring. I have no idea if I originally entered the code I always use wrong, if iOS 5 did something funky, or of somehow the guy did not eat my phone, but somehow reset my phone.

It is currently plugged into my computer being restored from the last back-up. My only proof I even went to the show is a piece of notebook paper signed by Kate and this picture:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Fine Mess

I've been composing blogs about the Kate Voegele concert without mentioning the most important part. The show itself. So often in my life awesome things are bookended by sheer ridiculousness, but the awesome should be acknowledged.

First of all, my two favorite Kate songs are Inside Out and We the Dreamers. She didn't play either of these. I forgive her.

It's hard for me to focus at shows. I'm always thinking about my next move, people around me, the seed of a sequel to Background Vocals I want to write more than anything...Lots of things. But an artist I love, whose lyrics I can scream from memory, that can keep my attention.

Kate obviously just had fun up there. She sang Bruno Mars's "Lazy Song" and made me like it. She covered Brittney (which was so cute, even though I wanted her to play more of her songs). She was so enthusiastic about being in Boston and having fun on stage.

Even her clothes were fun, a bouncy pink skirt and shimmering top.

I know I'm not her biggest fan. The eight-year-old and her mom standing next to me (wearing a t-shirt and hoodie each) probably have me beat. But seeing someone whose music I listened to on repeat during a rough patch makes me love them more.

I particularly love that she did a meet-and-greet. It's the one thing not enough artists do, and I think it's the purpose of a tour. I mean an author who just read and didn't sign would be considered insane. I know live music makes a ticket worth it, but being able to give someone a hug and thank them for playing the music that's part of your life soundtrack?

That's a moment you can't fake or forget.

Also, I go to a lot of shows on my own, so I have no one to share those moments with. Except the musician. And that makes it mean even more to me.

And this song, the second-to-last of her set, may become my new go-to song.

Chelsey, Take a, Chelsey Take a, Chelsey Take a Cab or Why I Don't Run for The T

If I ever imply that I might take the T to a show on a rainy October evening again, you guys must sing "Chelsey take a, Chelsey take a, Chelsey take a cab," to the tune of The Smiths' "Shelia Take a Bow" okay?

Tonight I left school to walk the three blocks from school to the Museum of Fine Arts T-stop. The Kate Voegele concert was at a venue a block from the place I saw The Dresden Dolls twice. I knew my way.

 The train pulled in while I was still across the street, so I took my time, intending to wait for the next one. By the time I crossed, it hadn't left, and a girl was climbing on just ahead of me, so I thought what the hell.

I NEVER run for trains, by the way. I fear falling down stairs, slipping on tracks all of that. The next train will come eventually ,after all.

I climbed the steps, put my ticket into the reader, thanked the driver and headed in. A guy stood up to give me a seat. I went for it.

The driver went for it too, in a manner of speaking.

We pulled out. I had one hand on the seat, and might have been okay had it not been slippery. My right foot slipped forward, my hip hit the seat, my cane fell to the floor and I'm fairly sure every commuter on the 6:30 train saw my underwear. (Note to self: be careful in miniskirts)

Also, funny story, one of Kate's songs is called "Gravity Happens"

I wasn't severely hurt. The last time I dove for a transport vehicle I broke a finger. Nothing like that happened. But it made me think.

MORAL OF THE STORY I don't run for trains. The next one is always coming. Why am I so impatient with other things, particularly writing? The right time will come, and if I let this one pass me by, at least I won't fall.

The show ended at midnight. I told myself if I made the trek home, I'd reward myself with hot apple cider.

 I headed back for the T (start singing now).

I heard a train come in while I was on the steps, but I didn't rush this time. If I had, i wouldn't have made it anyway. My ticket was out of cash. I watched from the ticket machine as a D train (mine) sped out of the station. Three trains (C, E, B) came and went before mine came.

Eventually, I got my train, made it to Fenway and schlepped the three blocks to my dorm. Of course, it being after midnight all the side gates were locked, because after midnight is when Rapist and Murderers wait to prey on girls at a woman's college....

Whatever, I made it home.

My apple cider had fermented.

Chelsey take a, Chelsey take a, Chelsey take a cab.

This evening has sparked a series of posts, the next one of which is entitled The Guy Who Ate My iPhone. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Year

Those of you who are a part of my querying journey know I'm impatient.

More than impatient, actually. I am, to quote Meg Murray from A Wrinkle in Time, "Not in the least patient!"

Yet somehow time passes anyway.

In my phone, there is a note from a year ago tomorrow reminding me to write a scene that would later become a pivotal scene in the novel I'm now querying. At least one of my favorite scenes didn't exist. The novel was in third person.

Not a soul had read the full. In fact, the draft wasn't finished until the 25th.

I didn't have many friends in the writing world, and had only ever gotten one positive response on a query.

Many, many things have changed in that year. I have a manuscript I'm proud of and people in my corner. ;I've attended my first writer's conference, written eleven hundred drafts of my query (true story), written three new novels and learned many things.

And whether or not things have moved significantly forward in a year, I can't wait to see what has changed, because if it's half this much it'll be pretty good.

What's changed for you this year?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Five!

1. I found this article while browsing through disability news for my volunteer job. It seems that someone is finally calling NYC taxis out on the fact that so few of them are wheelchair-accessible. I dislike van-taxis personally, because climbing into them is a pain, but they need to be there! Wheelchair accessibility is NECESSARY, especially in a metropolis like New York.

2. Earlier this week, I found an old notebook that had the first plans for the novel I'm currently revising. I don't recognize it. At all. My main character's name wasn't even spelled the same. I think this goes to show how much evolution a piece of writing can go through, and also why you need to take your time on it. Then again, I still haven't quite pinned this one down, so I can't say that definitively yet.

3. I did all the updating for all the iOS devices the other night. I can't say that I'm too chuffed by iOS 5 on my iPhone, just because the changes are small. That said, being able to flag emails and the notification center are nice, I suppose. I rarely put my phone down long enough to build up notifications! Newsstand will be good, I think, once more magazines sign on.

4. This weekend is the Boston Book Festival. I probably won't be attending, since I have a mountain of work to do, but it was fabulous last year. I love getting to meet authors at any time, but being swept up in the huge Boston literary community makes it even better! Holly Black is going to be there this year, and if I hadn't met her at the Diversity in YA Panel I'd be going to squeal over Curseworkers, but for now I'll wait and do that after Black Heart comes out.

5. Your dose of Muppets today actually isn't a movie preview *gasp!* it's the song I've had to keep singing to myself all week, and I think everyone should remember:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gimp Encounters

Before you read this go buy Name of the Star and Lola and the Boy Next Door. I'll wait.

Done? Okay, good.

Today I had an interview, and then I went to Copley Square. I had a plan, to return library books, sell used records, meet a friend for lunch and then go to the Farmer's Market for cider and pumpkin bread.

While my friend and I were walking down the street, a woman stopped me. "Excuse me," she said. "I don't know what you've been through, but I know of a miracle cure. Have you ever heard of (something something)? It absorbs through the skin, and I know people who've been burned all over--"

Cue tune out.

I informed the woman that I was fine the way I am. (Which lead to a lot of thinking about what if there was a miracle cure, but we'll save the navel-gaing for later) We went into Starbucks. My friend was amused and shocked. I've been evangelized to on the streets of London. Not much fazes me.

but then

after seeing the Apple memorial (sometimes in this season in Massachusetts there are just randomly apples on the ground, but I think it's safe to say these were put there):

I stood on the T platform. An elderly man came up to me, on the right side so I didn't see him until he was RIGHT IN MY FACE (new followers: blind n right eye. It's a thing) and says: "YOU HAVE BEAUTIFUL GREEN HAIR!"


I got my hair dyed yesterday.

It's blonde.


I have HEVER had green hair, except for that ten second period in the salon while she fixed the incident with the blue.

After a slight panic attack I realized the pole I was leaning on was green, and maybe the reflection made my hair green. Or maybe the man wasn't entirely sane. It's Boston, you be the judge.

Oh, but I did get cider. And pumpkin bread (admit it, you were worried).

Anyone else have any weird encounters they'd like to share?

Sunday, October 9, 2011




Yaaaayyyyyy! Email me at chelseyblair(at)gmail(dot)com with your address and bookstore preference (Powell's or Amazon)!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Five!

1. Today I turned this:

into this:

Okay, really, I sold a bunch of used books to Brookline Booksmith and then bought a few more, but really when one has a Mary Poppins bag full of books, one must at least allude to magic. (The bag was even purchased in England, making it even more Mary Poppinsesque)

My friend Mel and I also went to The Children's Bookshop. We have friends who work at both, so we must be equal opportunity book buyers!

2. This story, about a young girl (born a boy) who is being allowed to live as a girl by her family makes me very happy, especially when, at the end of the interview, her mother asserts that if she decides at some point she does what to live as a man, that's her decision. Also he comments are generally positive, which honestly surprised me.

3.  It's Columbus Day Weekend, which we get off  (Along with the all-important holiday The Day After Columbus Day) I have plans for Monday and Tuesday, but Saturday and Sunday will be spent writing and watching Gilmore Girls. With Chinese food. I hope to have my current WIP done by the end of October so this write-in weekend is SO necessary.

(NB I will also pick the winner of the Two Books, One Contest Contest, so go enter!

4.  My mom emailed me this cartoon yesterday. It's sweet, if a little too soon...

5. I'm not huge on Halloween, but I'm stock-piling creepy/fantastical books to read closer to then. Right now I have Name of the Star, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Paranormalcy. I've ordered Anna Dressed in Blood and have a couple more coming from the library (such as Eat, Slay, Love).

What books are you reading this Halloween?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP Mr. Jobs

Today's post was going to be about disability identity, but I'm postponing it in honor of a man whose work affected many people with disabilities.

The new Siri thing, for instance, for most it's a novelty. For those with visual impairment and fine motor difficulties, it will be a life saver.

Apple has saved my life, in the metaphorical sense, many times.

So thank you, Steve Jobs. Thank you for being magical.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

No Small Parts

Today, YA Highway asks:

What supporting character from a YA book would you most like to see star in their own novel?

Usually I'm pretty happy with the balance between a book's barrator and their focus character, but there are times I want to know more about a specific character. The ones I'd like to see have their own book include:

Jenna from Hex Hall. and Demonglass I LOVE Hex Hall and Sophie, but Jenna is such complex character with an interesting past. She deserves her time in the spotlight.

Jesse from My Sister's Keeper, sure he gets a point-of-view in the book, but Jesse's story of going from bad boy to right-side-of-the-law totally deserves its own story, as far as I'm concerned. Plus his voice is fabulous.

Hale from Uncommon Criminals the smooth talking society boy turned thief? Yes please! Plus then we might learn his first  name....

How about you? (Don't forget to go here  to enter to win two books! Winner will be chosen Saturday!"

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Mailroom Guy Will Hate Me

Two seconds ago I hit "send" on a massive order from AbeBooks.

It's not textbook season. I'm reading all my required books on my iPad anyway. Oh no. This order was far crazier than that.

I ordered a bunch of books I've already read or listened to, but I want on my shelves.

In the past year, I've done a lot of library and ebooking, which is fabulous and convenient. But, I've also come to realize I treat both things--and with ebooks it probably shouldn't be that way--the way I treat Netflix Instant Watch.

Last night I stayed up until five am to finish watching Dollhouse on Netflix. It's a Joss Whedon show that finished airing about a year ago. I liked it a lot, and even though I can get all the episodes on Netflix, I'll eventually buy the DVDs, because I am a special features addict. Also, one day, I want to be able to display the shows I like on a shelf. A Stuff I Like shelf.

My books are like that. For the books I really, really adore, I want to be able to hold them in my hands. On the other hand, I've gotten to where I don't want to own a book I either didn't like, or have no need for. So while I might have put in a big book order, I also have a huge back of books to sell to the Brookline Booksmith on Wednesday so I can get more of the pretty books I like.

It's a vicious cycle, one that could be solved by having a better way to display ebooks. I wonder what that might look like? A place to dock your iPad on a shelf that would rotate through the book covers?

Any ideas? Are you as obsessed with book pretty as I am?