In which there is much squeeing!

I’ve been meaning to post about this for awhile, but kept getting distracted. While we were in Portugal I found out that several new writers were joining the faculty at VCFA this summer, and two of them write fantasy!!!! And not only that, but the theme day for this year is "Writing Fantasy"! And not only that, but we were all asked to read The Wizard of Oz to prepare for the residency. When I heard the news I felt as though the threads of my life were converging rather nicely. The two new faculty members who have written fantasy are Franny Billingsley who wrote the beautiful book The Folk Keeper (a girl disguised as a boy, seal maidens and a red-headed lad! What more could you possibly want from a book?) and Susan Fletcher whose book Alphabet of Dreams was, by chance, already on my shelf. As for the theme day, well, it makes such a lovely change to have a school celebrate the genre I’ve always loved, instead of looking down it’s nose at it. And The Wizard of Oz. When I was small-er I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. With the books, the musical, and the terrifying film "sequel" Return to Oz. On my first day of preschool I insisted to all my teachers that my name was Dorothy. And I had read the book so many times I nearly had it memorized. But over the years I forgot a lot about it. I just finished reading it and the experience was surreal. There were so many things that were different from the film that I had forgotten, but as soon as I read them I remembered them again. I must admit, though, that I was a little disappointed. It reminded me of re-reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Somehow when I read those books as a kid they filled my imagination, but reading them as an older person (I hate to say adult) they were much sparser, emptier than I remember. It’s as though half of what I loved about them was what existed in my head, not the actual books themselves.

I have two weeks left before school starts and I’m starting to realize just what I’ve gotten myself into, lol. It’s going to be so much work, but I’m honestly so excited. I was helping my mom at a sewing conference at a college campus recently and spent a lot of my time there reading and revising the first part of my novel. At one point I was sitting in the computer room in the dorm we were staying at and a student walked in. I realized that he probably thought I was working on a paper and at that moment I felt so elated, because I was sitting there on a college campus doing work that I loved, that was fun, laughing hysterically at my own ridiculous manuscript. That is what I always wanted college to be. And that is why I am so glad to be doing this program.

I admit I did have a few days of panic when I got the manuscripts of the other students in my workshop because that meant that real, live strangers were reading my novel and possibly thinking thoughts about me. Horrors! What if they don’t like fantasy? I worried. What if they think I and my novel are not fit for human society???? Now before any one rolls their eyes and starts to remind me that being a writer means people will read your work and criticize it let me just say that that is not what I was afraid of. I think ever since my horrendous poetry workshop experience at Smith I’ve been terrified that as a writer I just won’t fit in. My poetry stuck out horribly in that workshop. Horribly. Everyone else was writing pretty typical college fare. I was writing surrealism. Sometimes with, God forbid, foreign words thrown in. I still cringe when I think of it. It was like wearing crimson and walking into a room of white. No one knew what to do with me. So I was really worrying that that would happen again. That I would be the only one writing something funny, or fantastical, etc, etc. 

I am not allowed to talk about the other students’ work, but let me tell you, boy was I wrong. I am in some amazing, scary, funny, imaginative company. And that was only the work from one workshop 🙂 In other words, I am feeling much better. And that made me realize another thing that I love about this program. Everyone is doing this because they love it. Imagine. A school in which you can read and/or write picture books for your homework. Or children’s poetry. Or fantasy or scifi. All the things that intelligent adults are not supposed to bother with. That is going to be my life for the next two years. I can’t believe my good fortune 🙂 And the sense of community is astonishing. I’ve already had an invitation to an event from a graduate of the program who I know of, but do not know personally. And everyone I’ve talked to online has bent over backwards to welcome me and answer my questions.

All that being said, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to keep up with livejournal. I am going to be so busy!!!! But I would like to keep up some sort of reporting about my projects. I may also have a part time job at the children’s bookstore in town (which has a new owner and has totally been revamped) so that may take up the rest of my time. It’s such a lovely place to be though. *sigh* Maybe everything will work out after all 🙂

Awards and Articles and Celebrations, Oh My!

While we were away The Undiscovered Island won a medal from the Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) in Multicultural Fiction category!

Here is the official info:
We are pleased to announce that Darrell Kastin’s novel The
Undiscovered Island published in 2009 by the Center for Portuguese
Studies and Culture, in our Portuguese in the Americas Series, has won
the silver medal in the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards for
Multicultural Fiction.

Medals were presented at a gala ceremony in New York City on May 25.
The "IPPY" Awards, launched in 1996, are designed to bring increased
recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by
independent authors and publishers. Congratulations to our author. For
all the winners go to their website at

The Undiscovered Island, which was sponsored in part by the Government
of the Autonomous Region of the Azores (Carlos Cesar, President), is the
twelfth volume of the Portuguese in the Americas Series. The Series
documents the variety and complexity of the Portuguese-American
experience by publishing books in the social sciences, history and
literature. For more information visit:

Unfortunately, we couldn’t be at the ceremony because we were busy being driven mad recording a CD.

Also, there is someone from the Azores did a review of my dad’s book, a very long, lovely review that was published in one of the local papers on the island of Terceira. He is also hoping to publish it in the literary review Letras, which would be amazing because Letras is one of the main literary journals in Portugal. The hope is that someone there might see it and want to translate the book. We seem to have hit a snag on that point, though. A woman from the consulate who saw us perform was very excited about his book and wanted to give us the info of someone who might be able to start the translation process, but when she found out my dad isn’t affiliated with any universities she said there was nothing she could do for us. I really HOPE that isn’t the case. I really HOPE Portugal has more class than that. I guess we will see. There also may be a possibility that at some point my dad will do some readings on the Azores (how cool is that?) and some more in Massachusetts, specifically at the Casa da Saudade (the only public Portuguese library in the country and the place that my stepmom worked before my dad swept her away to the West coast).

There’s also an interview online with my dad in Portuguese. I know most people probably won’t be able to read it but I thought I’d post it anyway.

Congrats paisinho!!!