Jodi Paloni on the transformative capacity of books

So honored to be a part of Bill Wolfe’s Read Her Like An Open Book and share some words about the import of books in my life.

Read Her Like an Open Book

Jodi Paloni headshot

A year ago, I moved from Vermont to Maine. The neighbor boy counted my boxes of books as he helped load them from the house to the moving van. Fifty-one. His father asked me, “Do you actually read all these books?” I answered, “I either do, or maybe I will.” I flew off to organize the people upstairs, who asked more simple questions. “Should we mop the floors?”

A visitor to my new house commented, “You have more books than a person could ever possibly read. No, I mean it. It’s not even possible to read all of these books, one person, in one lifetime.”

So I thought about it. If I read two or three books per week (which happens only some of the weeks) that’s approximately eight to twelve books per month, so let’s say ten, which averages 120 books per year. I began to count my books…

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Books are here!

My debut collection of linked short fiction, They Could Live With Themselves, published by Press 53 is now available. At your request, personally signed books will be shipped out within a week of your order. You can jump over to my new author website,  Jodi Paloni, to place an on-line order for your books.

Or, if you prefer, send me a note (jodipaloni@gmail.com), order directly from the publisher, Press 53, or buy a copy from wherever books are sold.

 

They Could Live Themselves, Linked Short Stories from Press 53

 

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Today, February 2, is Imbolc, a seasonal celebration marking the halfway point between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, led by Brigid, Bride of Spring, keeper of the flame that lights our way into the planting season.

When I was nine, I chose St. Brigid as my patron saint. Though I no longer practice in the Catholic tradition, I’m devoted to Brigid, to all she represents: home and hearth, alchemy and inspiration, poetry. It seems fitting that (although not consciously planned) my debut story collection, THEY COULD LIVE WITH THEMSELVES (Press 53) became available for pre-order on this auspicious day. Signed copies will be shipped in late March.

 

 

THEY COULD LIVE WITH THEMSELVES will be on sale at the Press 53 table at 2016 AWP Conference in LA on March 31-April 2, 2016, where I will be signing books.

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The official PUB DATE is May 3rd, National Press 53 Day.

Throughout the rest of the year, we will be hosting readings, classes, and events in the Northeast and beyond.

As light returns to the northern hemisphere, my linked stories will be birthed into the world. Meanwhile I’m enjoying the thrill and the mystery!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Update

They Could Live With Themselves, my linked short story collection set in the fictional town of  Stark Run, Vermont is a runner up for the 2015 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction and will be published by Press 53, in March 2016 less than six months from now. A heartfelt thanks goes out to editor and publisher, Kevin Morgan Watson, as well as, all of the editors who encouraged my work to date. Hope to see all at the AWP Conference in LA in late March at the launch party followed by a spring into summer book tour in a hometown near you.

Last month, I attended the Short Story America conference in Beaufort, South Carolina and taught a workshop called: “Beyond Setting the Scene, The Role of Place in the Short Story.” Relying on some of the classic greats, Hemingway, Welty, McCullers, Carver, as well as, contemporary writers, Pinckney Benedict, Alistair MacLeod, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Strout, Monica Wood, and Anthony Doerr, I used sample work to point out how place can establish tone, serve as character, and become crucial to the success of a story that might otherwise fail. There was a good turn-out and excellent engagement and I was reminded how much I love to talk and teach about writing. I also served on a panel and gave a late night reading of my story “Deep End” to a weary group of generous listeners.

Short Story American Volume IV Anthology is now available for purchase at Short Story America and features “Deep End” as the opening piece. “Deep End” won the Short Story American Prize for Short Fiction in 2013 and is the second story in my forthcoming collection.

May Brings Good News

IMG_0749It’s been awhile since I’ve been here. Last fall, I sold my house in Vermont, got married, and carted 51 boxes of books, 2 cats, and way too much junk to Maine where I’ve been stunned by the beauty of winter on this chilly rocky coast.  I’ve trudged the snowy shoreline in muck boots and shivered in a house that could fit 2 of my other houses inside, drinking tea and longing for my woodstove, a heat like no other. I’ve unpacked boxes, stocked bookshelves, hung paintings. We are still finding our way around the mid-coast, the many gems here, and the vibrant and quite literary city of Portland. Popping into bookstores and joining Maine writing groups on Facebook has been my solace for leaving my literary and arts community (Brattleboro Literary Festival, Gateless Writers, River Gallery School) in Vermont behind.

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On the writing front, I’ve been at it, slow and steady, as the saying goes. And there’s been more than a little good news recently.

On May Day, I learned that my short story collection currently titled, They Could Live With Themselves, was one of three runners-up for the 2015 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. It is quite an honor to have the recognition of my work, six years in the making, noted by editors of an independent press who work diligently to put forth quality books, artfully produced, and to support writers of short fiction and poetry, forms that tend to fly under the publishing radar. Thanks, Kevin M. Watson, for believing in the work I so cherish.

Also in May, I had a story from the collection published by Connotation Press, again, a wonderful group of editors here––Ken Robidoux, Meg Tuite, and Karen Stefano to name a few––and I share that space with some old friends from Vermont College of Fine Arts, Rich Farrell and Dorothy Bendel. Being part of the spirited work they do at Connotation Press is a treat: art for the sake of our souls, art for the sake of salvaging a slippery society.

IMG_0665“The Air of Joy”––what I like to call my “reverse-love” story was sparked by an actual conversation I had awhile back, an argument of sorts, with my now husband. Three lines of odd real-life dialog and I was off and running. It was quite fun to try and get into the head of a fifty-something man who is a doer, but more, a quiet thinker, who can’t always find the words to express himself, but who knows what he feels. Things worked out differently for Bob and I than for Addison and Ruby, but as long as everyone has said what they needed to say, I’m happy. And besides, fiction is not real life. Right?

If you have a half hour to read my story, I’d love to hear what you think.

Have a wonderful spring! Enjoy the flowers and the birds and store up some green memories for the ephemeral nature of this ever-changing land. And, be well, my friends!

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Super Moon and New Pub… “Blue Moon”

Backdrop for Gateless Writing Retreat in Connecticut

Backdrop for Gateless Writing Retreat in Connecticut

They say the July full-moon was the Super Moon and, WOW, what a super month so far! I just got back from a week-long teacher training retreat on the lovely shores of the Long Island Sound in an old summer camp straight from the category––CHARMING––along the rocky coastline of Guilford, CT.

 

This was one of those “blow you away, gut you out and put you back together, then turn you around” weeks. The kind of weeks you know you were born for. The kind of week you never want to leave. But you do leave. And you start spreading the GATELESS high and the Suzanne Kingsbury love to the people you love and the people you’ve yet to meet: your family, your students, your clients.

Here’s what we did..

Listened, Laughed, Loved

Composed, Shared, Cried

Ate, Walked, Downward-Dogged

Got Thai-Yoga Massaged (Thank you, Karen Kenney; I’m still integrating and gratifying.)

Got GATELESS, which is to say, learned how to open up new ways to teach writing, kind ways, purely positive feedback ways, the “what’s working-so do more of that ways”.

 

Hayden Helps Nona Plan the Garden

Hayden Helps Nona Plan the Garden

While there, steeped in my writing bliss, cranking out the new stuff, soaking up the love, I caught wind that one of my fictions went live on-line. “Blue Moon”  is a story that came out of some raw place when I was feeling scared for the safety of my own children and grandchildren and turned to fiction to help me sort it all out. Some kids make it and some kids don’t and if you’re lucky to have the kind that does, well, that’s not really easy, either. Blue Moon is published  on-line in Contrary Magazine’s Summer 2014 issue. Contrary Magazine has a vision. It’s this…

“Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different. Rather than represent the world, I will make something wildly and savagely new. I will defy logic. I will invest in new perceptions. I will combine and recombine and fabricate and juggle until something that I have never experienced is experienced. The process is alchemical. The process is violent. It goes to the heart of creativity. It disrupts and shatters. It is splendid with provocation. It is an aggression against banality. It is sharp and loud like a janitor scraping frost from a window. The hectic bounce of steam on a street after a truck roars by. The anarchy of waters, the comedy of the face, dangerous feelings vented from a cage of skin.” ~ John Olson  (From Contrary Magazine About Page)

Many thanks to editors, Frances Badgett and Jeff McMahon for believing in the work.

Thanks to the illustrious and talented Gateless Method teacher, Suzanne Kingsbury and the eight other beautiful writing women who graced the Super Moon retreat. Watch  us here, thanks to Jeff Woodward, image magic maker and storyteller through the lens.

And may you all believe in your work and in the work of others. And may you all have a Super summer!