Tim Elhajj @ LitQuake, San Francisco, California

I’m at LitQuake with a bunch of fine writers. Look at the wealth of fine authors and performers who I get to appear with: Alan Kaufman, Ali Liebegott, Wendy Merrill, Bucky Sinister, and Cary Tennis. Yes, I’m very intimidated.

Re Write: An Evening of Prose from Writers in Recovery
Tickets are $10 at the door. $8 in advance.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
6 pm

Delancey Street Screening Room @ 600 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, California

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Tim Elhajj @ Northwest Bookfest, Kirkland, Washington

I’m appearing at Northwest Bookfest, Seattle’s celebration of books, authors and readers. Join me for a panel on memoir. I’m pleased to appear along with Richard LeMieux, Brenda Peterson,  Chuck Randall,  and Ed Lincoln.

Sunday, October 2, 2011
1:00pm – 2:00pm

 PETER KIRK COMMUNITY CENTER
352 Kirkland Avenue, Kirkland, WA 98033

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KidLitCon in Seattle!

I’m attending KidLitCon in Seattle next weekend, Friday, September 16 and Saturday, September 17, 2011, at the Hotel Monaco.

I’m not presenting anything, but I’m excited because a lot of good friends and great people are going to be there, including Holly Huckeba, my favorite Kid Lit girl by far. Looks like an interesting line up of events.

If you’re there, please say hi.

The Newest Best Sex Writer of Them All

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I’m proud to announce that my story, An Unfortunate Discharge Early in My Naval Career, has been selected for Best Sex Writing 2012!

I’m so pleased. The Best Sex Writing series is from Cleis Press and has been around for a few years. Rachel Kramer Bussel edits. I went to see her at Elliott Bay when she was promoting Best Sex Writing 2010 with Kerry Cohen and the amazing Janet Hardy.

Rachel is incredible.

As I remember it, she was feeling sick, but had showed up in the most amazing slinky black dress with these incredible red platform shoes and she slowly walked from the back of Elliott Bay to the lectern in those fabulous shoes – clipping, clopping – and we were all watching and she was just so poised and graceful and you could tell it was a hard night for her, but she was there, daintily dabbing her nose with a tissue, and looking so good, and so professional, and I thought: I must work with this woman. She is just amazing. If you try to friend her on Facebook, you get a little note from Facebook that says, Rachel Kramer Bussel has too many friends already. Fuckin’ A, baby. How awesome is that?

This year Susie Bright selected the stories. I’m so proud. I wonder if Rachel will organize a reading tour for this one, as she did with Kerry and Janet. Now that I realize how difficult it is to get the book stores to let you give a reading, I have new found respect for authors and editors who somehow find a way past the gate. I’ve been turned down by a few of the big stores already. Maybe working with Rachel I will finally get my heart’s desire.

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Giant Ripped Me Off

Last week, I was in Pennsylvania for my brother’s golf tournament. That’s Mom at the ninth hole driving a stake into the ground for one of the sponsor’s signs. As soon as she saw me produce my camera, she grabbed the hammer and immediately started hamming it up, pretending like she was some migrant worker toiling in a field or something. Why does she do this? That’s just Mom. I saw her eyes glitter when I pulled out the camera. I guess the idea of a matron pounding stakes just tickled her.

For some reason, on this visit I got a strong sense for just how hard it must have been for her in the 70s. Seven kids ages 1 to 14, no real job, and a hole where my dad had once been. She is quite a character and always has been.

The night before the tournament Mom and I were at Troy’s house alone.

He had taken his wife and kids to church. I was going to go visiting myself, but before I could get out of the house Mom came rushing into the kitchen, a pensive look on her face, the long white tail of a grocery receipt trailing behind her.

“Tim, you got that car?”

“Sure,” I said. I had rented a little compact car for the trip.

“Take me down to the Giant,” she said. Giant is the big chain grocery store in Pennsylvania. “They ripped me off,” she said. She waved the receipt in the air beside her head and scowled.

“Look, look,” she said.

Flattening the receipt onto the kitchen counter, she showed me the problem. “I got 7  dozen rolls, but they charged me for 12 dozen.” Sure enough, there were 5 line items for a dozen rolls listed on the receipt, an empty space, and then 7 more line items of rolls.

“Should we add it up?” I asked. I reached into my pocket for my Windows phone, which had a calculator app.

Mom scoffed. “You can never add it all up,” she said. She shook her head and grimaced. “There’s tax and a super saver discount.”

The tax and discount were also line items listed on the receipt, but I didn’t want to argue.

“Let’s go,” I said.

We were going drive down and talk to one of the Giant managers in person over a possible overcharge totalling maybe seven or eight dollars.

“It’s not the money,” Mom said as we drove the few blocks to the store. “It’s the principle. They’re always ripping you off. I hate that, I hate that.”

We got to main doors and Mom told me to the stop the car. She got out and told me she’d be right back. I parked and followed her inside.

I found her waiting in line at the customer service counter. When it was our turn, Mom did all the talking.

A manager was called in. He was a young man, maybe just out of high school. He said he need to take the receipt into the back to reasearch it. A few minutes later he came out with a few sheets of computer print out. He told Mom the problem with her receipt was a printing malfunction. An anomaly. Mom sighed. I asked the manager if the total on the receipt my mom had matched the total he found on his print out. He said it did. He showed us both amounts.

Mom sighed again.

“Is everything okay, ma’am,” the manager wanted to know. “Do you feel good about this,” he asked.

“Okay,” Mom finally said. “It’s fine.”

We said our good-byes, turned, and walked together toward the car.

“Do you feel okay about that Mom?” I whispered. I wasn’t sure what else we could do.

“Well,” Mom said. “I’d have felt better about a refund. But, what are you gonna do?”

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Junk Talk Interview with James Brown author of This River and The Los Angeles Diaries

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I landed an interview with James Brown, acclaimed author of The Los Angeles Diaries and his newest memoir This River.

I was so pleased to get to talk with him. Jim struck me as a really great guy. He was open, articulate, and really frank about his writing life and his recovery. If you’re at all interested in recovery or memoir, you may want to check out the interview.

Holly and I have found some real success with Junk, the literary magazine we launched last year (tomorrow @ noon PST look for a new issue featuring none other than Joe Bonomo!). Now we’re redoubling our efforts to continue to build community around Junk Talk. We have a few more interviews scheduled in the weeks ahead.

And by all means, read This River. I reviewed it for Internet Review of Books and was really impressed.

I think you will be too.

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Long Course Swim Meet in Wenatchee

Last week we took an overnight trip to Wenatchee so the kids could compete in a swim meet.

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Wenatchee is a small city nestled in the mountains of Central Washington and it’s really a lovely place. We put Pace up with the neighbors. Of course, the car started acting up, sputtering and engine light flashing, so just to be safe, we rented a vehicle and split up on the way home: me in the Jetta, everyone else in the rental. Once we got back home, the car ran fine. Note to self: never take Jetta out of town again.

Earlier this year we enrolled the kids in one of the USA swimming clubs in our area. They have worked really hard at the daily practices on top of their normal load of homework. They have an exceptional coach and I hope to post more about him later. For now, know that I am really pleased with their performance this year.

This is the time of year when they compete at Olympic-size swimming pools, called long course. Fifty meters one way! These pools are a sight to see after competing in the more common 25 meter pools most of the year and in rec clubs in prior years.

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