Monday, June 30, 2008

Just when I needed a Shooting Star most....

The past few days have probably been the hardest in my life and I know today and tomorrow won’t be easy either, but lo and behold, an amazing gift from a shooting star….

Lauren at Shooting Stars Magazine put together an incredible surprise for me and told me about it just now, when I need it most. It brought real tears of joy to my eyes, breaking through the tears of sadness that have been clouding my eyes since Thursday.

She is running “Stephanie Kuehnert week” on the Shooting Stars Magazine blog this week! They’ve done four blogs so far as a part of it, including a great guest blog from Melissa Walker that made me smile because I loved Poison, too, and a cool song of the day from Tegan and Sara. Best of all, she and a bunch of other amazing bloggers put together an extremely cool, HUGE contest to celebrate the release of IWBYJR!

I knew nothing of this, had nothing to do with it, and seriously cannot express how grateful I am to the lovely, lovely bloggers who contributed to this and especially to Lauren. You all made a hard time easier. Thank you! I hope everyone will go check out the contest and party with Shooting Stars Magazine this week.

Again this means so much to me and thanks to all the lovely bloggers for making me smile today.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

To Marcel

Note: This is long and I don't really expect anyone to read it, except maybe those closest to me and to Marcel. But I needed to do this, for me.

I think I'm finally ready to try to put this into words. Tomorrow I gather with the many others who love Marcel, some of whom I haven't seen in a long, long time and I only wish it were under better circumstances. Tomorrow begins the rituals of saying goodbye, the public ones. The last three days have been private, shared only with Katie and Polly from time to time. So now feels like the appropriate time to try to put my thoughts, memories, and feelings into some sort of order, to document them at least.

I guess will start by simply transcribing from my journal what I wrote soon after learning the news and adding to it so it makes more sense:

I walked 3 miles in forty-five minutes to get to the place that seemed best to remember you, the park where we first got to know each other. I listened to Automatic for the People because its the album we discussed in one of our first conversations. I cried while talking to my mom at the beginning of my walk and realized the one thing I forgot was Kleenex. I packed everything I could think of into my bag: journal, waterbottle, iPod, phone, wallet, photographs, even my tattoo cleaning stuff because even though logically I know I have a place to be at 7 o'clock I felt like I may never stop walking.

"Try Not to Breathe" made me cry really hard. "Everybody Hurts" which is supposed to be one of those sad songs made the tears stop, but I decided that just in case they started again, I should stop for napkins. I thought about the Beacon being on the way, but I didn't want to talk to anyone I knew, so even though my shot of Patron wouldn't be free, I stopped at Healy's. I had patrons like me when I bartended in the afternoons. I was the weird tearstained girl in pigtails who stopped do one shot of tequila and then left with a bunch of napkins in my hand. I thought about explaining myself to the bartender so he wouldn't wonder like I used to, but that would mean spitting out the words again. I'd already called both my parents and my boyfriend to sob, "My friend Marcel is dead. He died in a motorcycle accident." And I couldn't say it again, not even to a stranger. Let him wonder.

I got here right as the album ended and saw that Katie had called a moment earlier. Why was everything so perfectly timed when everything is so very very wrong about it all.

Katie said, "Where are you?"

I said, "Under the tree where he talked us out of running away."

She said, "I'll be there in five minutes."

You were always there for me when I was troubled. Katie and I were dead serious about leaving that time. We were gonna leave that night. Walk to Canada via Minnesota. Everyone else who said they were gonna come chickened and tried to talk us out of it. No one could convince us but you. You tried after everyone else gave up. After we began to talk about starting our walk down North Avenue or Lake Street because you couldn't just walk up 290. You called us over to that tree. Squirrels darted around nearby because the squirrels always liked you. You acknowledged why were leaving and the others wouldn't. You acknowledged that what was troubling us was deeper than teen angst, which was why we were so determined to escape. You told us you understood, but then you told us why we shouldn't do it. There was some statement about how we both had bright futures after we fought through this, but knowing that this was similar to what everyone else said, you quickly changed tactics, and whipped out the Marcel logic. I don't remember anything exact about it, but it was a big metaphor about ducks. Ducks. That's all Katie remembers, too. And that it was extraordinarily convincing. We stayed. We didn't run away. We'd never seriously talk about it again.

I'd known who you were since those awkward years at Percy Julian Junior High, but I didn't really get to know you until sophomore year when I started hanging out at the park, wanting desperately to be friends with your group of friends. We also had Geometry class together. You sat one row over, a couple seats behind me. One day in the middle of class you just burst out laughing. I'd gotten stoned at lunch the period before, so I was half asleep when your random guffaw (it was kind of a cackle/guffaw because it was louder and longer than a guffaw, but too deep to be anything but a guffaw) jarred me awake. I turned to stare at you like everyone else. But unlike them, I started to laugh too. I thought your interruption hilarious and perfect. And I was stoned and thought maybe you were, too and maybe you were, but more likely you were just being Marcel. I think when the teacher asked you why you were laughing you just shrugged and he might have made you leave the room. I just remember wanting to be your friend so badly right then. We started to talk a bit after seeing each other around at the park. I ditched Geometry a lot because it was during fifth period lunch, but when I went it was cause I knew I'd get to talk with you. I felt so lucky to be your friend and was completely astonished when you wrote in my yearbook that year: "It's been nice half-knowing you. It's been a strange year, but I'm glad I met you and thanks for talking to me! It's always strange when I find someone who will..." So odd because I felt exactly the same way.

And it was a strange year and the circumstances that made it so that we only half-knew each other were unfortunate. The second half of sophomore year was awkward because of that person I dated that I don't like to talk about now. He had been friends with you and your friends and then totally turned on you all for reasons I never really understood and I got dragged with and put in the middle and it screwed up my chances to really be friends with some people who I really wanted to know. But you were above the fray. You always were. And in Geometry class, you let me pretend like my life was normal and so was our friendship. And when I couldn't be there for my best friend, you were. You saved her life. Literally. Did I ever thank you for that? Thank you.

I know I thanked you for all you did for me though and I'm so glad I was at least able to do that when I was in St. Louis a few years ago and we stayed up drinking and talking in your living room until dawn. Of course you gave me more patented Marcel advice then and on a few occasions thereafter and I'm not sure I properly thanked you, but I'm hoping you knew.

Junior year is when I really became close to you. You were one of the few people that I trusted. I was so completely incapable of trust back then, but you I trusted one hundred percent. There were all of these car rides. I drove everyone to and fro. I usually dropped you off last, partly because you lived closest to me and partly because I liked having those few moments where it was just you and me and your wise words. The snippets of advice and consolation that I needed so badly at 16 and 17 and you were one of the only people who could provide them. And I knew I could tell you anything and you wouldn't tell a soul, even Polly or Katie, if I asked you not to. And through those brief car ride conversations, we developed this special way of communicating. I remember one time I had a decision to make and I didn't want to go into detail, so before you got out of the car, I looked into your eyes and said, "Black or Brown?" And you said, "Brown would be the best choice, but you're going to have to go with Black." It made sense to me and I knew it made sense to you, too. Just like the duck thing and the running away.

There was also the incident with your ring. That person I dated gave it to me even though it wasn't his to give. When I was recovering from his damage done, I tried to give the ring back to you. You took it in your hand, examined it, told me why it was special to you and that you'd missed and then you pressed back into my palm and told me that I needed it more than you did and to return it when I was really ready. I believe I mailed it back to you from Madison when I finally moved there, but since those were still hard days for me it's blurry and I can't find the letters you wrote me while I was living there for the life of me. I might have given it back to you right before I left.

After that point, I didn't see you for almost six years. But then you were in St. Louis and so was my brother. And it was the town where I was born so I went back a bit and when I did, we'd hang out. We had new adventures, getting drunk at some party on the quad at Wash U. You found a lipstick on the ground and gave it to me. I said I liked the color but it was used, so you cut the tip of with a pocket knife. I wore it after that because you said it was okay. You took Ric and me to the City Museum, telling us it was a giant playground for grown-ups. We had more fun than I'd probably had since childhood. We took photobooth pictures which I've had on the fridge ever since. But when I came home after hearing the news I took it down and started carrying it around with me because when the sadness gets the most unbearable, I need to look at you making funny faces. And I've always been amused by the one where Ric moved so you can only see his t-shirt and it looks like we're posing with Robert Smith. Even though Jenny's wedding reception was in the City Museum, it will always be my place with you. I need to take Katie to play there. We always talked about going down there to play with you, but didn't. She'll need that now.

St. Louis, though it was my hometown for seven years, will mostly remind me of you now. I shared my childhood memories with you, brought you into them, which I haven't really done with anyone else. When I came back to visit without Ric, you were living near my grandfather's old house. We walked in the Botanical Garden together and I told you about my love for the Japanese Garden as child. I showed you my old house and you came on the mission with me to find the old Wizard of Oz playground, which I'd hyped up so greatly to you. We ran all over the park with the reservoir looking for it and then had to face facts that it was gone. I swore to you that it had been there and I wasn't crazy and you said you believed me.

You never acted like you thought me crazy even during those times when I really was. When I was looking for closure with those times in 2004, you were the one I turned to. Additionally, my relationship with Ric was falling apart and you were there with advice and clarity as always. You told me in not so many words that you were proud of me and I'd do great things. You told me on more than one occasion "Again and again, I receive confirmation that the only constant is change." You seemed better able to deal with that than I and I tried to learn from you. I promise that I will always keep trying to learn from you.

Oh Marcel....

There are many people you were closer with than me but you never made me feel any less significant and you changed me, helped me, marked in an indelible way-- the way few people did. You helped set me on this path I'm on and it's going to be so hard to walk it without knowing I can drop in on you or that you'll drop a line from time to time.

Montana.... I remember the way you spoke of it with reverence the summer you spent there. The big skies. But why'd they have to go and fucking swallow you? So many people love you, need you, miss you, were touched my you. And boom, motorcycle accident under the open sky and you're gone from us.

But you're not. You're too deep inside of every one of us. I will live my life with lessons learned from you. I will do my best to pay tribute...

I had to do a reading the night after I learned the news. I dedicated to you and swallowed a sob. Then as I read the scene where Michael and Louisa flee town on his motorcycle, I almost choked up again, not just because of that reference, but because I realized in that moment that I'd poured so much of my admiration of you into that character of Michael. I'd realized a while back when someone asked me where I got the names for my characters and I really thought on it, that I'd subconsciously named my two good guy characters Michael and Tom after my "little boys," two of my dearest guy friends in high school, but the idea of Michael, the softspoken man with wild, dark curls and coffee-colored eyes that can look right into you and a sense of empathy that so few have... That's you, Marcel. And no doubt you will continue to seep into the words I write always. You will live forever in that way, through each of the lives you touched.

I miss you. I thank you, my dear, dear friend.
L to R: Katie, Thea, Stephanie, Dave, Marcel and Polly at our feet. In front of Melrose Park Denny's. Fall 1995. The best of times and the worst of times, but mostly the best.

Friday, June 27, 2008

IWBYJR available from Amazon early

On any other day I would have been overjoyed to open my email this morning and find out that preordered copies of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE are shipping now. And that if you go to now, it says in stock, not preorder anymore, meaning you can actually get the book now and not have to wait until July 8. I guess this happens sometimes. I don't know if it means it will be in other bookstores, too. Tell me if you see it, I guess. And please, be excited for me. I really can't be right now. It took a lot of effort just to tell you about this. Seems so unimportant right now. But I now I'll want to remember this later so I figured I better document it.

Thank you to everyone who has and continues to leave notes of sympathy. It really does mean a lot to me. I'm still buried under many thick blankets of grief and am finding it to difficult to do anything but take long walks and smoke cigarettes and listen to Automatic for the People and respond to emails on autopilot and even answering email is difficult. I walked roughly five miles yesterday and have smoked almost an entire pack of cigarettes, which I haven't done in years and I know is not good, but really, there are worse things I could do and it seems like there is this crushing weight on my heart and when that feeling gets intense, smoking works as a release valve. I'll stop soon, I promise.

I know people worry about me and I don't want them to. It's difficult because right now I feel like the only people I can talk to are Katie and Polly, who hurt definitely as bad and most likely even worse than I do. And even with them, it's not like we really talk much or know what to say. It's just the comfort of having them on the phone with me, knowing that they still exist in this world because the reminder that people that you thought would exist forever could be gone in a split second is so terrifying. I want to talk to and be around my other friends, too, but I don't know what to say about how I'm doing and I don't know how to make normal conversation and even listening to normal conversation for an extended period of time brings about the anxious crushing weight. I've been through this all too recently so I know I just have to take it an hour, a day at a time, but yeah....

I did write about Marcel and my memories of him and my reactions to this in my journal yesterday and I'll type that up at some point and tell you all about him because he deserves that kind of tribute. He deserves to live forever. I really always thought he would. That like I said yesterday, he'd be the old man in the park playing chess and Polly added, he would be wearing funny hats and telling great stories. There is really no way to put what kind of unique person he was into words. I can't do him justice, but I'll try at some point. For now I'll just say that he was the kind of guy that touched every person he met, made you want him as your best friend or as Polly put it, he was everyone's best man.

Ok this is all too raw right now and not a proper tribute. That will come later. And right now I need to try to figure out how to do normal things like take a shower and write a grocery list.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Devastating Loss

This all seems so irrelevant now, but I started writing it this morning before I got the news so I guess I will just post it.

You can find an interview with me including a picture of my cool, messy office at the Author2Author blog.

And my agent posted a blog I wrote about Rock 'n' Read at her blog.

And of course I'm reading tonight at Old School Records at 7 pm at 7446 W. Madison in Forest Park.

I was going to post part 2 of my personal tattoo explanation beneath this during my lunch hour. But it's going to have to wait for another day. It means nothing right now. None of this means anything at all right now.

At ten this morning I got an email from my friend Polly saying to call her, it was important. I called. She was crying. Our friend Marcel is dead. He was killed in a motorcycle accident last night. I managed not to burst into tears while in the middle of the office on the phone, but then I went to call my best friend some place more private and started sobbing.

I also called my boyfriend and he came to pick me up from work. I went to get cigarettes for the first time in years. I've smoked two. I'm going to take a long walk shortly and smoke more and cry more and then suck it up for an hour and do my reading and dedicate it to him and try not to fucking sob my eyes out because he never got to read it, he never got to hear it and he was always so supportive.

Marcel is one of the most unique souls I've ever known. We've only talked and visited sporadically since high school but the talks and visits have always been incredibly meaningful. I meant to call him when I was in St Louis last. I didn't because there was family stuff and I figured I'd come back in a couple months and see him. Don't do things like that. See your friends whenever you can because you never know... You think I'd know better because this is the third friend to die suddenly in nine months.

He was so special to me and so many other people. I can't even tell you. Not right now. I will later when I have the words because he deserves that. But now I need to go grieve. If I'm not in touch over the next few days you know why.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tattoos in Progress, Contests, and Interviews

Before we get into ink stories, I want to let you know that the first of a slew of interviews and contests and such has posted.

You can win a signed copy of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE on Book Chic's blog. He's been doing tons of amazing book giveaways all month long and he wanted to include my book, which is a big a honor. So yeah, go check out his blog and enter to win!

The fabulous, up-and-coming YA author Tara Kelly (her book HARMONIC FEEDBACK comes out in Spring 2010 and I totally can’t wait for it) has interviewed me about my road trip to publication and some other fun facts on her blog. It was a really fun interview and I blathered quite a bit, so check it out! Though now I am about to blather quite a bit here….

So as I mentioned, I got some ink this weekend. It was the first sitting so the piece is not complete and will not be until the weekend after I get back from tour/vacation because I need to let this part heal and then I can’t do anything more right before tour/vacation because I’m going to a hot, sunny place and it’s not good to expose fresh ink to the sun. Before I show off what I just got, I need to explain the history of the ever evolving art on my right arm.

I got my first tattoo on my seventeenth birthday, July 13, 1996. You had to be 21 in the Chicago area at the time, but I told my parents it was the only thing I wanted and that I needed parental consent. My parents are both nurses, so they agreed to this only after a consultation with my doctor (who said it’s fine as long as the place was sanitary) and an inspection of the place where I was going to get it done. My dad went to the parlor, asked all the appropriate public health questions and signed the parental consent form. He also drove me to my tattoo appointment on my birthday. I can’t remember if he stayed or not. I just have this vague recollection of him in business clothes looking utterly out of place with the heavy metal types at the tattoo parlor.

I wanted an arm band of female signs going around my right arm. Very simple. Here's the best one I have of it. Me and my friend Eryn in 2002 or so....

I think it cost me about forty bucks and took about half an hour. The store owner, a guy named Spider, told me not to go all the way around the arm because it was my first tattoo and he’d “seen marines cry” getting tattooed on the underside of their arm. I took his advice, though I don’t remember it hurting too badly, but I had a high pain tolerance then. I just remember it sort of sucked having to go straight to work bagging groceries afterward and since then I have always tried to get my birthday off of work. But my co-workers, mostly girls in their late teens and early twenties from the West Side of Chicago, thought I was so hardcore. Some apprentice of Spider’s did the work. The symbols are kind of uneven and Spider would later have to attempt to fix them. My second tattoo by that apprentice about six months later was even worse and I’ve been trying to figure out how to cover it up or fix it for awhile. But at the same time it’s a part of me, it expresses my messed-up teenage self a little bit, so maybe I’ll leave it alone.

I’ve always known that I would never cover the armband, only add to it to try to distract from its imperfections and also because I don’t like such simplistic designs anymore. In 2004 (or 2005 maybe?) I decided to add a logo that the band Hole used on the liner notes to my favorite album of theirs, Live Through This. It’s a little witch inside a heart. I put that above the armband and then the words Live Through This in Polish below it. Why Polish? Because that’s my matrilineal heritage and this is my feminist tattoo. So this is how it looked up until Sunday:

Sunday I added the beginning of something new to it, the music to the song I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. My friend Jenny Hassler transcribed it for me and my tattoo artist came up with something pretty cool when I told him vaguely that I wanted the music to sort of swirl in a wavy way around my arm. I didn’t really think he’d be able to incorporate the older parts of the tattoo, but he has. Right now it is just lines of the music staff which he freehanded. Sitting number two, he will add all the notes, add some shading, color in the heart from the Hole logo, and add the five guitar picks from the cover of my book in various places around this:

My boyfriend points out that I will still have a lot of space on the back of my arm. One day I may be ballsy enough to fill that. It didn’t make me cry (though I expected it to be the worst pain of my life thanks to Spider’s build up), but it was pretty damn uncomfortable and fortunately Scott struck up a conversation with my tattoo artist so I had something to focus on. But the next plan, which will have to be put into action when I officially decide not to be a part of the normal work world anymore, is to get my muse tattooed on my lower arm. She’s a fairy reading a book that my friend Kevin drew for me, but I’ll probably let the tattooist take further. I know now that I want her to be wearing headphones for example.

So yeah, that’s my tattoo. On the most surface level, it’s my tribute to all the female musicians who have influenced me. I salute them with the female signs, I reference my favorite band hole, and I incorporate a symbol of my book which was my ultimate tribute to them. But there is a much deeper meaning to the tattoo. Put simply it shows my progression from teenage feminist to twenty-something survivor to published author. Writing, music, and feminism, the three things that got me through.

I wrote more about that, really intensely personal stuff because my tattoos usually have a basic story and then a really personal one. I need to sleep on whether I will share this one, but I probably will. I just wanted people to have a chance to comment on happy tattoo stuff before I tell deep personal tales, so yeah. Lemme know what you think.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Girlfriend Cyber Circuit Presents: Jenny O'Connell and a cool contest!

For those who are dying to know (*grins* Keri, I'm talking to you), I did get tattooed this weekend. It was just the first sitting and it won't be complete 'til after my tour, but I'll tell you about it tomorrow. Today I'm really excited to have Jenny O'Connell here today on her Girlfriend Cyber Circuit tour. Jenny's one of my fellow MTV Books authors and she has two books coming out, LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS, that are kicking off her Island Summer series. Check out how totally summery these books look! Makes me want to go hang out on Martha's Vineyard where the books take place:Here's the scoop on these books:

There are two kinds of people on the island— those who leave at summer’s end… and those who are left behind.

Bestselling author Jenny O’Connell presents a sizzling new series for summer. Her first two Island Summer novels, LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS (MTV/Pocket Books; June 2008; $9.95 each) highlight the lives of the summering visitors, the year-round locals living in the beach towns of Martha’s Vineyard, and the fireworks that explode when they combine for three steamy months.

In LOCAL GIRLS, friendships are in danger of ending with the summer. Kendra and Mona are best friends, local girls who spend their summers catering to rich tourists and the rest of the year chafing against small-town life. Then Mona's mom marries one of the island's rich summer visitors, and Mona joins the world of the Boston elite, leaving Kendra and Martha's Vineyard behind. When Mona returns the following summer, everything is different.

Unlike his sister, Mona's twin brother Henry hasn't changed. He's spending his summer the way he always has: with long, quiet hours fishing. Early mornings before work become special for Kendra as she starts sharing them with Henry, hoping he can help her figure Mona out. Then Kendra hatches a plan to prove she's Mona's one true friend: uncover the identity of the twins' birth father, a question that has always obsessed Mona. And so she begins to unravel the seventeen-year-old mystery of the summer boy who charmed Mona's mother. But it may prove to be a puzzle better left unsolved--as what she is about to discover will change their lives forever...

In RICH BOYS, Winnie jumps at the chance to babysit for a wealthy summer family and earn some extra money—but soon learns that life in the Barclay’s beautiful vacation home isn’t as perfect as it appears. And what was supposed to be a carefree summer quickly becomes more complicated than she ever thought possible.

As for Jenny O'Connell, here's the basics on her: She received her BA from Smith College and her MBA from the University of Chicago. The author of PLAN B and BOOK OF LUKE, she lives outside of Boston with her family.

Of course, I've gotten a little bit more in depth with her and her books by doing my usual music-themed interview:

Please list five songs that would be on the soundtrack to your book and explain how they relate to your story or characters.

Jenny: Actually, for the Island Summer series I didn’t think about music so much as the sound of the island – the waves, the wind rustling the trees, the sound of shoppers on Main Street in Edgartown. I never thought of music playing because there was so much “noise” made by the island itself. It’s also a pretty timeless place that feels immune to trends – I pretty much just picture someone on the beach playing an acoustic guitar around a bonfire.

Name some of your main character's favorite musicians or bands.

Jenny: I can honestly say I’ve never thought about the music my characters listen to (although one of my books OFF THE RECORD has music at its very core and reason for existing – in that one music plays a huge role). But I always imagine them listening to women singers/songwriters.

Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Jenny: Alanis Morissette, Toni Childs, Indigo Girls, Melissa Etheridge, Pink Floyd.
I’m a big fan of the tormented woman song-writing.

Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

Jenny: I love to go running while listening to my iPod. It lets me really listen to lyrics and the story the musician is telling. It totally inspires me. One of my books was heavily influenced by an Alanis Morissette album – that woman can write!

While music is my muse, I know other writers find their muse in theater, sports, art, the great outdoors, etc. What is your main muse?

Jenny: Bad experiences. I think back on ex-boyfriends, dumb things I did, dumb things my friends did. I have a great memory for horrifying stuff.

Personally I love the idea of those island sounds as the soundtrack to this book and it really makes me want to read it on the beach. And bad experiences are definitely one of my muses, too!

If you are as excited as I am about this fun series for summer, learn how you can win an Island Summer t-shirt – just in time for the beach. Go to and enter to win today! And learn more about LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS at

Friday, June 20, 2008

Roller Coaster Rides and other updates

I've been a bad, bad, bad blogger. Part of it was personal chaos (resolved in some ways, not in others, but that is how life generally is, isn't it?) and part was just the big huge roller coaster ride that the last *gulp* month before debut novel publication really is.

You should visit my MTV Books blog to learn all about the ups and downs of this week. There is news about ROCK 'N' READ, including pretty new banners you can have and, news about BALLADS, including photo documentation of contract receipt and the updated playlist.

On other fronts I have spent the last few hours getting my head on straight about blogs for the next couple weeks. Where I'll be, guests I'm having... So the radio silence of this week was probably good because I won't be shutting up for about two weeks straight come end of June. Be prepared. Also, the place I will probably kick off my weeks of blathering is Teen Fiction Cafe! I was invited to become a blogger there today and I am soooooooooo excited. Check out all the cool people who blog there!

Also, I have a new novel in my head. I've only been able to write one day a week, which is extremely frustrating to me, but I'm not sure things will improve until after vacation/tour. But those of you who like the Beacon stories, will be excited to know that it proved to be inspiration for this new novel, in which one of the main characters is a bartender.

Okay, there might be more stuff to tell you, but I'm starving now, so I have to go eat and then I have to see a man about a tattoo. I might have new ink this weekend... If not I will at least have new ink plotted for my return from vacation....

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Grrrl Power! Contest Winners and my faves

Sorry to wait until the last minute to make this decision, but it’s one of the toughest decisions I had to make in a while! I had to call Melissa in for assistance and she helped me narrow things down.

Thanks so much for all the wonderful suggestions, I really enjoyed them all. Here are the six that made me sigh, squee and grin mostly wildly. I need for these people to contact me at stephanie at stephanie kuehnert dot com with their addresses ASAP so I can mail out your prizes! You can review her choices here. I think “Rebel Girl” is the ultimate grrrl power song, but what pushed me over the edge was Civet who is my new favorite band. I am tracking down their album and have already bought a seven inch and t-shirt.

Chlomydia. Her choices are here. The Distillers song is my personal ultimate grrrl power song and she turned me on to Dresden Dolls. Choices here. Atomic Blonde= another new favorite

Tlcadence. Choices here. Gutsy to share your own (amazing!) music and Betty Blowtorch, more new excitement

Anjylle. Choices here. Unbelievably unique picks, appealed to my inner goth girl.

Lexilibrarian. Choices here. This could be my personal grrrl power playlist.

Because I had so many tough choices, I decided to pick three runners-up as well. I have some coverflats for IWBYJR that I will sign and send to these people. I understand it is not a book, so if you don’t want it, it’s cool, but if you do, send me your addresses:

Bookbogan: Choices.

_bac_: Choices.

Leahclifford: Choices.

Now in the spirit of the contest, I would like to share my three current favorite female/female-fronted bands (aside from Civet, whose myspace page, I go and listen to once a day.)

Right now I am really digging Sybris, who are a hometown band, but I discovered them live in Denver: Check out “Oh Man” and “Burnout Babies.”

And I get a billion band friend requests on myspace like everyone else, but very few where I actually get really excited about the band. Full Contact Kitty from Maine is an exception. They were kind enough to send me their CD and it’s in heavy rotation. They remind me a wee bit of Sleater-Kinney. The first song, Luck Soup is my fave.

Last but not least, The Gits are all-time fave, but I’ve been listening to them obsessively lately because I’m really excited about a documentary that’s coming out about them and the tragic death of their extraordinarily talented lead singer Mia Zapata. The doc will have a limited release in certain cities on 4th of July weekend and actually comes out on DVD the same day as IWBYJR releases. Read more about the movie and hear some Gits music here: My all-time favorite Gits song is “Another Shot of Whiskey.”

Feel free to let me know what you think of my choices, the winners’ choices, etc and of course you can always suggest more music *nods enthusiastically*

Oh and if you still want to enter to win a copy of IWBYJR, I’m still running a contest on my website that ends tomorrow at 11:59 PM CST!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Gratitude and Some Links

I want to thank you all for your sweet words of concern for my friend. I passed them on to her and it made her crack a smile to know that people out in blogland who don’t know her or what is going on are still thinking of her. Things improved slightly yesterday only to get worse. I’ve been a ball of stress all week worrying about her, and it doesn’t help that other things keep popping up like corporations screwing up services, which almost triggered a nervous breakdown last night *hisses at AT&T*. Basically I’m way too sensitive on a regular basis and when I’m already upset about something seriously bad, I tend to crumple into a ball of snot and tears without much prodding. On the flipside though, empathetic people make me so appreciative and I want to hug you all. *Sigh* I’m such a Cancer.

So thanks for bearing with me through personal sadness and respecting my privacy and that of my friend and just letting me leave it at “I’m very upset right now, cyber hugs are welcome.”

But I have fun things to share with you despite my blues.

Links w reading material

My first newspaper column in the Forest Park Review debuted today. Those of you not in the Forest Park area to pick up a paper copy (*note to self: stop by 7-11 for paper, then subscribe to paper upon receipt of next paycheck*), can read it and view my cute new pigtailed columnist photo (I discovered my hair could do this in Denver and do it whenever possible now) online here. MySpace will probably not like this link because MySpace is a grump when it comes to links, so get thee to my blogger page if it doesn’t work.

Also Simon & Schuster posted the entire first chapter of IWBYJR on their website! You may have read the partial on my website or the pre-copyedited version on Black Oak Presents or you may not have known about either of those things and been totally deprived, but here is the official as-it-will-appear-in-the-book-version. Go check it out to get yourself psyched up for release day, which is *gulp* less than a month away. *Frantically runs in circles, tugging hair, mumbling ‘I’m not ready, I’m not ready, I’m SO ready, but yet not ready…’*


I’m about to send an evite out for my official book release party on July 10th in Forest Park, IL. If you are on my Chicago area email newsletter list, you will be getting this, but everyone is invited so if you think you will be in the area and want an evite please contact me at stephanie at stephaniekuehnert dot com. The evite will help the bookseller get an idea of how many books to bring and me an idea of what to expect.

Speaking of invitations, I am sure you have seen this gorgeous one everywhere and I hope you are visiting Teri Brown’s blog every day this week to celebrate the release of Read My Lips and for a chance to win great books!


The winners of Melissa Marr’s contest will be announced tomorrow. Sorry we waited to the absolute last day to announce, but that is how hard deliberations have been. I roped Melissa in to helping me make the final decision and she’s been as overwhelmed as I. But we’re narrowing it down and it will be posted both on my blog and hers tomorrow.

There is still a chance to win fabulous prizes and an early copy of IWBYJR through a contest I’m running on my website. Deadline June 13 at 11:59 PM CST. Enter away!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Raining on my parade

The weather didn’t really cooperate with my outdoor events this weekend. Friday was crazy windy and yesterday at Printer’s Row… Well my noon reading went great, but then as soon as I got my stuff over to the Illinois Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (henceforth known by their acronym IL-SCBWI) booth, it started to drizzle. My boyfriend went off to roam. My friend Jenny went off to get some lunch, kindly offering to bring me a sandwich. Then the torrential downpour began.

I helped Lorijo, Suzanne, and Marlene from IL-SCBWI protect our stuff from getting soaked and we huddled together in the middle of the tent. Then someone official looking (ie. they had a walky-talky) approached and told us we had to get out of the tent because there was lightning. So we fled for the nearby Dearborn Station. We made the best of the circumstances and sat around talking about our writing. It was quite nice actually. Eventually Scott turned up, totally drenched. I told him that as soon as he was ready to brave the elements that he could feel free to go home. He was being chivalrous as usual, concerned about how I would handle getting my large poster and raffle box home on the train, but I said I’d manage. (I’d later regret sending him home, though not because of carrying things.) When the storm broke a little bit, Jenny turned up with my sandwich and Scott went home. I ate and had more fabulous author chatter now with Jenny added to the mix.

Finally the lightning went away and we were able to set up shop again. It was an hour after my time at the booth, but Lorijo and Suzanne the organizers were wonderful and arranged things so Marlene and I could stay at the booth. I’m sure I would have had the opportunity to meet more folks if it hadn’t stormed, but quite a few hearty souls stopped by my display with my big IWBYJR poster and raffle box. Lorijo captured this photo of me with one of the sweetest teen girls I talked to that day filling out a raffle form:

Unfortunately as it turned out, the rain is not what made my day (and week this far) unhappy. You can tell from the photo that I'm a little distracted and that's because soon after I set up the booth, I got a phone call from one of the people who matters most to me in this world. I knew immediately from her tone that something awful had happened. I won’t elaborate on details because it is not my business to discuss and the extent of what you need to know that it upset me a great deal and is still upsetting me and may be for awhile.

Still, I had just opened my booth and needed to solider on and then wanted to see Jenny’s reading before rushing home to my friend.

I finished with the booth, saw the reading and hustled to the train. The train was underground for awhile so couldn’t call to check on my friend. When I did call, she did not answer, so I sat there worrying and staring into space for several stops until I finally snapped back into reality and began to pay attention to my surroundings. Suddenly I realized that unpleasant things were happening directly across from me.

Anyone who takes the L on a regular basis (or probably public transportation anywhere) is rather used to unpleasantness. For example, I’ve had friends who’ve sat in urine, friends and I have witnessed urination, and I’ve suffered through long train rides where I couldn’t escape the stench of urine. Things are not usually so bad during rush hour except for BO, the occasional homeless person slouched a seat, and that one time a crazy guy was blasting his boom box, but taking the train during off-peak hours, that's when things get sketchy. I've taken the train in the afternoon and have witnessed a schizophrenic war veteran have a massive freakout, teenagers smoking crack, and on my way to my interview for my current job, a man sat down across from me and began to masturbate.

Well, that's exactly what happened again on Sunday afternoon. Tuned into my surroundings after being preoccupied by upset and worried thoughts only to notice that the man across from me had a newspaper over his lap but it was not full concealing his member and he was yanking away. I quickly got up and moved to the other end of the train car near a suburban looking dude and his teenage son. I also called Scott and very loudly told him that I wished I hadn't sent him home because the dude across from me had been inspired to masturbate. The dude exited the train at the next stop. I felt nauseous and angry and violated and tried to console myself in my usual sarcastic way by thinking, "Well, the last time this happened, I pulled myself together, went to the interview and got that job. Maybe this is my equivalent to a pigeon shitting on you bringing good luck." I chuckled slightly to myself. Scott chuckled as well when I told him that, as did my friend Kathy when I told her about it at work today. She shared her tale of having her ass groped on a crowded train once and solving it by announcing very loudly, "Whoever has their hand on my ass better remove it if they want to keep it." Again, we laugh, but it's not really funny. These things that we just accept as a part of urban living that are utterly humiliating to us as women. As sarcastic as I may be about it, the fact was it was mildly traumatizing. I went home and scrubbed my hands for no real reason. I had to resist the urge to go take a shower.

This still was not as upsetting as my friend's stuff though. She came over for awhile, but I didn't feel like I was really able to help. I just had to hope that today would be better for us all.

I hate it when you can't protect the people you love the most, the people who are most deserving of protection and who haven't really gotten it. All I can do is listen. And I did. And then tonight I cooked while blaring Rancid and cleaned while blaring Hole. The angry comfort music that's been there since high school. It's been years since I've wanted a cigarette as badly as I did today after not being able to make everything okay for her. But the music helped some and at least I made some damn fine vegan cornbread and my kitchen sparkles.

I should go to bed now and I'm trying to keep in mind my favorite quote from the Crow, "It can't rain all the time." Or as my mother is fond of saying, "This too shall pass."

ETA: I removed the whole thing about the article, I was being overly sensitive. It's not a big deal. Press is weird.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The promised pics and even more excitement!

Okay, here are the pics of the finished books as promised. This is a peek at them in their S&S box that gave away what they were and nearly caused my heart attack at work:

And here they are in all their glory, front and back cover hopefully legible for you guys (I believe if you click on the photo it makes it bigger). (I am not the best photographer. My boy usually takes the book-related pictures like this for me, but he's at work and I know you guys didn't want to wait!):

Then there was more excitement today. I seriously thought life couldn't get anymore exciting and that this day was not going to be very pleasant since it began with an 8 am dentist appt (where I found out that I have a cavity, grr!) followed by a 9 am Dr appt, and then vet appt for Sidney at 11:45 (he has to get his blood checked every 6 months because he has kidney disease. cross yr fingers for him that things are still stable like they were last time. we find out on Monday) But in between Dr. and vet, I check email and got fabulous news from Sheryl Johnston, a lovely woman who is helping me with Chicago area publicity (in fact "lovely" doesn't sum it up. Amazing goddess is probably more like it). Turns out IWBYJR was listed among the "150 Hot Reads for Summer" in the Chicago Tribune Books section today! I'm in the "For teens and the young at heart" section with heavy hitters such as Sarah Dessen, Madeleine L'Engle, and Walter Dean Myers. Here's my attempt at a picture (again click to make bigger):

Some good books on that list. Any you are looking forward to reading? I actually just bought Little Brother today on the recommendation of Jan at Anderson's Bookshop. She says it's like modern 1984, so it was right up my alley and I've added it to the overwhelming large summer reading stack. Side note: Anderson's is now one of my fave indie bookstores out there. It's a bit of a hike from my house but was totally worth it. Amazing selection and some of the nicest most helpful staff. Ah, such good conversations with Jan there today. Totally made my day with along with the Trib thing. The unpleasantness of my morning is forgotten.

The rest of yesterday was pretty good, too. The reading at Summer Fest did not quite go as well as intended. Basically it was the kind of windy day Chicago is famous for. My mom had to help me keep my giant poster from blowing away, not to mention all the swag on the table. The reading was a bit of an awkward situation for me because I was basically reading over a PA to people walking by and it was difficult to concentrate on reading with a conversation going on right behind me. But later a girl came up to me in a bar down the block and told me she heard me read and asked for more info, so people were listening. I've just learned that I am really uncomfortable reading when there are not other readers on the schedule as well and/or people didn't come specifically to hear a reading. So I think I'll stick to in store readings at the Old School Records (and I have one in a couple weeks!)

But I did have fun blasting my soundtrack over the PA. Not so sure the people in line for the pony ride appreciated Courtney Love and Babes in Toyland, but all the songs were radio friendly, or in Courtney's case, a radio edit, so they couldn't complain. And I totally saw a toddler bopping in his stroller to the Distillers (I'm not making it up, my mom actually pointed it out) and a seven-ish year old dancing to Joy Division.

Most of all, I just love Jodi and Peter who run the Old School Records. They are so friendly and fun and open to supporting local artists. It was so awesome of them to have me at Summer Fest (and they kept my swag and raffle box today inside their store, so hopefully more people entered the raffle besides the dude who was campaigning for Ralph Nader and trying to hit on me *in front of my mom* and the few folks that I got yesterday). Their sidewalk sale was pretty sweet too. Scott and I bought a dozen videotapes for 10$. Yeah, I know VHS is inferior. But dude, less than a dollar a tape??? And in our bedroom all we have is a VCR so now we can have movie marathons in bed that include Sixteen Candles, Killing Zoe, A Life Less Ordinary, Punch Drunk Love, Stand By Me and several more fabulous movies.

I also bought the new Mudhoney album on vinyl. Now I'll be buying more vinyl than ever because I've found in the last couple albums I've purchased, they provide a little coupon to download the MP3s. My only issue with vinyl before was putting in on my iPod. Now that problem is solved! So it actually makes more sense for me to buy vinyl instead of CDs now because generally after I buy a CD and look at the artwork and load it onto my computer, I'm done with it. It sits on the pile near my now too full CD racks. Vinyl is what I prefer to listen to at home and since I store it on book shelves, I have plenty of room for it. *Sigh* I like having excuses to get more of things I love.

And while I was visiting the Sub Pop website to download my Mudhoney tracks (which kick ass btw), I discovered this. Dammit, why can't this happen a week later when I'm in Seattle so I can see the Gutter Twins, Mudhoney, the Fluid, and best of all the Vaselines! I wish I'd known about this sooner so I could have planned the book tour around it...

Okay, but that and the cavity are the only bummer today. And I believe this evening will only get better. I'm eagerly awaiting my boy coming home because we are going to investigate a tattoo shop which I am hoping will be the place where I get my next tattoo very soon. Then, if it is not raining, more Summer Fest. I don't know what it is about being able to walk down the middle of what is normally a very busy street with a big pretzel (or piece of corn, which I also had) in one hand and a cheap beer in the other (well, I actually had a $5 pomegranate martini because I don't drink beer) while you watch kids run around and go down giant slides and peruse art and other goods from local businesses, but that is pretty much the perfect way to start summer in my mind.

Until then, I am off to listen to more music and begin the difficult process of choosing winners for Melissa's contest.

I hope tomorrow is as good as today and above all that it is not as windy as yesterday and it doesn't rain while I'm at Printer's Row!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Best Surprise of the Week!!!

I really didn’t think this week could get any better, but this morning at work the DHL guy came to my desk and while signing for the usual packages for my boss, I noticed a box from Simon and Schuster. My heart leapt, stomach flipped over, and my voice and hands got all shaky as I tried to sign and then spell my name for the DHL guy. I knew that box was for me and I just wanted to run into my friend Kathy’s office to open it. Finally DHL guy went on his way and I stumbled into Kathy’s office with my package, screeching for my cube-mate Sharon to join us as she got of the phone. Kathy helped me open the box and there they were: early finished copies of my book. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera on hand at work to capture the moment. And tonight I’m all in a rush to get to Summer Fest, so I will have to update this entry tomorrow with pictures of the finished copies.

Of course they are basically the same thing as the ARCs but without that whole “Uncorrected Proofs” thing written across the top. And the back is different. It has my photo and the blurb from Melissa Marr added in with the other blurbs. But this is the book as it will look in bookstores, I believe. Very cool and totally unexpected. I knew I’d get copies because they are the prizes for Melissa’s contest (which ends today, so go enter now since it’s your last chance!) and for my contest (which ends in a week, so get moving on that one, too!), but I thought they’d come next week sometime and I also assumed they’d come to my house like the ARCs had. And I figured my editor would warn me. She didn’t warn me about the ARCs either though, so either she’s really busy and forgets to give me the heads up or she likes surprising me. (It’s probably the former, but since I like surprises, I kinda hope she keeps it up.)

So that was a nice way to start my Friday and a nice addition to my week of surprises. Now I just have to hope my luck holds and the weather is bad for my outdoor events this weekend.

If you are in the Chicago area, please contribute to my streak of pleasant surprises and come to one of my events this weekend. Tonight at 7 pm, I’ll be spinning the soundtrack to my novel and reading from the first chapter around 7:30 at Forest Park Summer Fest in front of Old School Records at 7446 W. Madison. Then Sunday I’m reading at noon at Printer’s Row Book Fair in the Columbia tent and handing out IWBYJR swag at the IL-SCBWI booth from 1 to 2. (You can get exact directions and a map to those two things on my gigs page.) And I will be raffling off one of my last ARCs and you can enter to win it at either of those events or all day Saturday at Old School Records.

Okay, pictures tomorrow, I promise!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NewCity Lit 50 and other sources of distraction

IWBYJR hits bookstore shelves in a little over a month and tidbits of excitement keep coming my way. First, the very same weekend I got the news that MTV Books is going to publish my second novel, BALLADS OF SUBURBIA (and as of right now, I’m allowed to keep that title and release is scheduled for Summer 09, but both those things could change in the blink of an eye), my friend Jenny called and read me the good review of IWBYJR in the June/July issue of Bust magazine. You can find it on newsstands now. I don’t think there is an online version, sorry, but my publicist says the part from it I should cite is “… a rich, muscular story…”

Then I got a sneak peek at the Booklist review that should appear sometime this month. Again no linkage at this point, but I was thrilled (and largely relieved!) that it was also good. Pull quotes according to Erica = “...irresistible...” and “...acidly incisive and full-out entertaining...”

At this point the tour is all pulled together except for Rock and Read. *Sigh* But hopefully that will be figured out very soon. And I kinda want to find some musicians (preferably girls but that might just be my current grrrl power kick) and a chill venue in Seattle where I can read and they can play, kinda more along the lines of what I did in Denver than the larger scale Rock and Read. (And BTW the video of the Denver performance is being converted to DVD and I should have a youtube vid to share with you in a week or two.) But I’m not sure I have the energy or focus, so I may just stick with my fab book store event in Seattle (July 22nd, 7 pm, Bailey Coy) and then just enjoy my time in my favorite city with my boy and my good friend from high school and her partner and their baby.

I’d thought that after I returned from Denver it would be the calm before the storm, but I guess it’s already raining. Some local media requests for interviews are coming in, which is pretty exciting. There’s Melissa Marr’s contest (it ends Friday!), which has been distracting me greatly in a good way as I check out new music. Then I’ve got my own contest going and yesterday I discover this Elle Girl contest for the book! That was pretty exciting because it means the Elle Girl online book club will be reading and reviewing the book I think!

It seems like somebody sends me a link that has to do with the book every day. First there was this one recommending the event I’m doing in a few weeks at the fabulous Old School Records. But the most exciting piece of news came once again from my amazing friend Jenny. She discovered that I’ve been named to NewCity’s Chicago Lit 50! Yep if you go here and scroll down to number 50, there I am! I have to say I am utterly blown away to be in such company (and to have my book called this year’s Hairstyles of the Damned. Uh yeah, if I pulled that off I’ll be over the moon. Joe Meno is one of the authors I admire most and that book is one of my all-time faves.) As I’ve said before and will say until I’m blue in the face, Chicago has one of the best lit scenes out there, IMHO. I think it’s the literary equivalent to Austin, Texas’ music scene. Strong, smart, DIY, a *real* community. It’s just amazing and there is so much going on. I always looked forward to the Lit 50 every year because it inspired me and gave me new books to buy. I never thought I’d be on it. Whoa.

So needless to say I’ve been extremely distracted today. I’ve been extremely distracted for a couple weeks. Like I’ve got so much going on I can’t figure out where to start. I stare at my email box instead of figuring out who to answer (so if you haven’t heard from me that’s why) and I go absorb myself in all the good music from Melissa’s contest and I get nothing done.

Nothing when it comes to writing, especially, which is not cool. Even if my distractions are good things, they are coming at a bad time. I need to collect myself and get disciplined with the text again. I’m in an awkward place because I’m starting fresh, completely 100% fresh for the first time in about 5 years. BALLADS was drawn from my “practice novel” material, so even though it changed drastically, I had a story arc. Now I have a beginning, I have an end and I don’t have a middle. Figuring it out is making me anxious. The time crunch between a full time job and all the IWBYJR stuff is making it worse. But *deep breath*, Jenny and Aaron will save me. They are my writer’s group. Aaron is just joining this week and I’m so happy because he’s a great writer and well, he’s also male and I’m working with a male protagonist now so that benefits me greatly. At least one evening a week, I focus on nothing but new stuff. It may not come easily or sound perfect at first, which always upsets me, but I’m writing, scrawling, getting around 1000 words down in 20 to 30 min because we just sit there and write.

Time to get into that mindset. Time to breathe. Time to let nothing but the words and the images dancing in my head matter.

ETA: I hope I didn't come off as boastful and/or whiny in this. I realized it could sound that way maybe. So I just want to say that I share these things because I am so thrilled and shocked by it all. You're reading the blog of girl who spent most of her adolescence feeling totally insecure and sometimes full-on hateful of herself, so to be recognized for something I love to do, it's a dream come true and I'm surprised every time. And I don't mean to whine about being distracted. I'm just in a huge balancing act right now with everything and those old insecurities come up and failure seems inevitable. But the next story will get on the page. I'm off to see Jenny and Aaron who will help that happen big time!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yay grrrl power: roller derby, good contest tunes and Civet!

The last few days have been all about grrrl power for me and I'm loving it. I owe Melissa Marr a night's worth--or perhaps a whole week's worth--of drinks for the contest she is running for IWBYJR. I have a list of awesome bands and female musicians sitting next to my computer and I have no idea how I am going to select six winners from the bunch. But I hope people continue to enter and make it even harder for me because I love discovering all this new music. So please, please, please, go to Melissa's livejournal and enter by leaving a comment or emailing me at the address I provide there.

I can tell you for sure that one of the winners will be the person that turned me onto Civet. I heard the song she suggested (which is the first one on their myspace) and I immediately checked to see if they had albums besides the one that is forthcoming in August. They do, it's called Massacre and I wanted it immediately, but I couldn't find it on downloadpunk. My local record store is going to get an email from me as soon as I finish this blog because they have to track down this album for me ASAP. Seriously, I don't think I've been this excited by a female band/female-fronted band since The Distillers. I want to send these girls my book and beg them to come to Chicago so I can see them play. Major swooning.

Another highly exciting grrrl power thing that I was exposed to this weekend: ROLLER DERBY! My friend Kathy goes to see the Windy City Rollers regularly and has been inviting me along, but it never worked out with my schedule until last night. Amber and Ryan came, too, and Scott got there as soon as he could and holy shit it was so much fun! I love anything that showcases ass-kicking women and roller derby girls are about as tough as they come. The whole time Amber and I were like, "I want to be those girls, but I'm way too big of a wuss." From the cool names, to the cool outfits and tattoos, to pure stamina and athletic ability, I have nothing but the utmost admiration and respect. Why is this not on TV instead of football? Seriously. It's way more entertaining. Tix only cost us 16$ and it was three hours of nothing but fast-paced fun. It was the championship match and the team we were rooting for (cause Kathy has friends on the team), Hells Belles won. So much fun. I fully intend to go to more of these and would highly advise everyone to see if their city has roller derby league. If so, get out there and support those cool chicks. You'll have a blast, I promise.