Monday, August 19, 2013

Please keep Austin weird. ALWAYS.

Here's the thing you have to understand about me, with regard to Austin: I'm a New Yorker. I've spent over 13 years living in a city whose streets are crammed with maniacs of every conceivable stripe: artists and musicians and actors and designers and photographers and fashion whores, and all of the people who wannabe all of those things. Philosophical cabbies and homicidal bike delivery boys. Addicts. Tourists. College students with big dreams. Homeless folks with actual medical problems that affect the way they behave. Even bankers.

So when I first heard the whole "keep Austin weird" slogan, I gotta be honest, I felt a little jaded about it. I live in New York. I routinely walk past celebrities, men in drag, and people dressed up like it's their own private Halloween without sparing a second glance. I know weird.

And then I spent time there, and I got it. Austin's weird might be smaller in numbers than New York's, but it's every bit as potent. You've got equally strong contingents of creative types and dreamers, all of whom take pride in the weirdness--and you don't have as many of the corporate types as we've got here. And it all takes place in Texas, which really is what takes the whole thing to eleven as far as I'm concerned. New York as a state does not have an intrinsic personality beyond general Northeastiness, but Texas... well, you know.

My friend Erin Williamson took the photo above at Town Lake. We have conferred about whether the rainbow-pooping dog is some kind of abstract gay slur, and we think it's unlikely - "it's Austin, after all," she said. I do not know the why of this, or the how, or whether it was made by one person at once or by two, and I definitely don't know what it could possibly mean. I just know that I'd never see it in New York. This detailed rendering of a solemnly pooping dog is Austin weird, and I LOVE it.

And I'm heading back for another visit! In less than a month, I'll be back breathing that wacky air. Smells like... awesomeness.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I think fall is better than summer and I'm sticking to it.

Summer, somehow, always lets me down. Does anybody else feel like that? It has such a powerful presence in our cultural imagination: the cookouts, the al fresco meals with cocktails in dewy glasses, the hours spent with a book in the warm sand. And yet, for a garden-variety New Yorker like me, summer under-delivers. I don't have a country house or a summer rental or even so much as a balcony. All those fun-sounding, free outdoor concerts are as crowded as the 4 train at 8:35 AM. Most of my time outside during the summer is spent trailing along sidewalks rancid with the smell of overheated garbage.

Fall, though. If summer is the sexy blond cheerleader, all beachy waves and sunkissed cleavage, fall is the shy beauty in Mary Janes at the back of the classroom who knows the words to every Simon & Garfunkel song. Fall is pure magic.

I don't know if it's just a legacy of 20-odd years of back-to-school rituals, but fall has always felt like a time of possibility to me. A time of new beginnings. It's always been my favorite season, and so I have, especially in recent years, stacked it in its own favor. I've planned weekends upstate with friends and family, frolicking under maple leaves and picking apples from trees and guzzling cider in front of the fireplace. I got engaged in October and married in October, and now all of my anniversaries will be in October too, which just adds one more fun landmark to an already celebration-rich season. The onset of each fall launches me into a frenzy of baking and cooking and entertaining: pies and stews and all those rich, hearty things I am normally far too lazy to cook during the rest of the year.

But before the fall season actually hits, there's one of my favorite days of the year--the first day toward the end of summer that feels like fall. The day when, after weeks of plasma-swamp humidity and sweat-stained T-shirts, I walk outside my apartment into air that has the crisp bite of a Granny Smith apple and tastes every bit as refreshing. "Hang in there," the breeze whispers, "I'm coming back soon."

Today was that day. And it brought with it that wonderful, familiar sensation of promise. This year, fall will see me completing the edits to get my first novel ready for publication. Hard to imagine a more compelling feeling of new-beginning than that.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


After an emotionally taxing month, during which my requests for advice on how to cope with the stress of submission kept being met with suggestions to drink heavilyand, might I add, my protests that I couldn't drink during my workday kept being met with naked derisionI am thrilled to smithereens to announce that my first novel has found a home. NAILING IT, along with a to-be-determined second novel, will be published by Ballantine Books, with the wonderful Kara Cesare editing. Publication dates are still TBD, but look likely to be spring/summer of 2015 and 2016.

So what exactly is it that you've got to look forward to? Well, the book is women’s fiction with a love story at its heart… all set against a backdrop of HGTV-style renovation-porn. It's the story of a female architect too afraid to architect her own happiness, and of all wrong plans we draw up first in our attempts to buildfor ourselvesa grown-up sense of home. 

Or, in the words of the deal announcement at Publishers Marketplace,

Brooklyn interior designer Bethany Chase's debut NAILING IT, about a young female architect in Austin, TX, happy in work and love and who thinks she's nailed the blueprint to the perfect life until a heartbreaking old flame waltzes back into town - and hires her to gut renovate his new house, to Kara Cesare at Ballantine, at auction, in a two-book deal, by Meredith Kaffel at DeFiore and Company (World).
Foreign: rkind[at]
Film/TV: meredith[at]

And so, in other words, friends... WATCH THIS SPACE!