as far as it goes

I was looking for something else deep in the guts of my hard drive, and I ran across this. I wrote it almost eight years ago, but it still feels right to me. So I’m posting it. To prove I’m still here, and writing.


St. Benedict High School
Class of 2000 Commencement
Chicago, Illinois
May 26, 2000
Rosina Lippi

all rights reserved

Twenty-six years ago I sat where you are sitting right now. Somebody else — and I have absolutely no memory of that person — stood at this podium and gave the class of 1974 advice about how to go out into the world. I’m sure it was a very good speech, just as I’m very sure that you’re going to follow in my footsteps. Twenty six years from now you’ll have no idea who I was, or what I said. So I can be honest. I can give you the very best advice I have to offer, knowing that if you take it and it goes wrong, you won’t be knocking on my door in 2026 to tell me so. So here we go. Continue reading “as far as it goes”

romance vs general fiction

I’ve had a couple emails from people to tell me about their experiences looking for Queen of Swords in paperback. Two points keep coming up:

1. They find it in the romance section rather than the general fiction area.

2.  There are only a few copies, and none on the new fiction shelf.

First some good news: Queen of Swords has gone into a second printing, so people are looking for it until they find it.

Now, here’s my official reaction to being shelved in the romance section: I don’t mind. Romance novels are always at the top of the mass market best seller list, because you know what? Women read. So if my stuff has a better chance of being noticed and picked up  in romance, that’s fine with me.

I don’t take offense at the idea of my Wilderness novels as romance. Some of my favorite novels are romances, from Pride and Prejudice to Faking It. Eleanor Roosevelt said: Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. I refuse to participate in the trivialization of fiction that women like, and I wish I could get more attention from the romance crowd. So if you see one of my novels in the romance section, you should know I’m glad it’s there.

The issue of the novel being relegated to dark corners is more complicated. In chain bookstores, publishers pay a premium to have new releases right up front on the new release table. They may have done that this time for certain chains in certain areas. If a small independent bookstore isn’t showing a book you think is good enough for that kind of treatment, you can talk to the manager about it. As long as you are reasonable and polite, you can have a conversation on these issues and maybe make a difference in the positioning in the book. If you’re angry at the way Barnes & Noble (for example) handle a new book, a talk with the manager isn’t going to change much at all. If you feel really strong about this, you can write to the publisher of the house in question. Enough letters and emails will may get some attention for a minute or two.

The only thing you as an individual can do is to recommend the book to friends and acquaintances, and encourage them to get copies of their own.

PBWs 4x meme

Four jobs I’ve had or currently have in my life:

1. secretary
2. nursing assistant
3. fourth grade teacher
4. director of graduate studies

Four countries I’ve been to:

1. Liechtenstein
2. Italy
3. France
4. Mexico

Four places I’d rather be right now:
(but only if I can have my family and the dogs with me)

1. Italy
2. Lake George
3. Devon
4. Chicago

Four foods I like to eat:

1. chicken piccata
2. tyroler knoedel mit sauerkraut
3. cheese fondue
4. the blue plate special at Pepper Sisters

Four personal heroes, past or present:

1. Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Ghandi
3. Margaret Sanger
4. Noam Chomsky

Four books you’ve read or are currently reading:

1. The Guide to Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries
2. Seducing the demon : writing for my life / Erica Jong
3. The Chrysalids /John Wyndham
4. Mr. Clarinet /Nick Stone

Four words or phrases you would like to see used more often:

1. How does it feel to hit the NYT bestseller list?
2. Did you hear that Gore announced he’s running?
3. Boy was I wrong to vote for Bush. I am truly sorry.
4. Thank you.

Four reasons for ending a friendship:

I can’t maintain a friendship with anybody who is knowingly cruel (to anybody, or any animal). Manipulative people, disingenuous people, selfish people… and of course, love me, love my dog.

Four smells that make you feel good about the world:

1. ripe tomatoes in the sun
2. a sweaty Mathematician
3. the air after a thunderstorm
4. lavender

Four favorite things you did as a kid:

1. The Lincoln Avenue Library
2. Visiting the great aunts in the country
3. Going to the restaurant with my father
4. Summer nights, watching fireflies

My question:

Four songs that, when you hear them, stick in your head for weeks:

1. Downbound Train (Springsteen)
2. Red Dirt Girl (EmmyLou)
3. You Don’t Know Me (Ray Charles)
4. New York State of Mind (Billy Joel)