Saturday, March 30, 2013

East Providence, Boston, Portland, Providence, Westport, Newport, York

Yes, you read this heading right. Those are the places I'll be reading from The Obituary Writer next week! If you are in or near any of these cities, please come! I'd love to see you there.

Happily celebrating Easter at home after a grand trip to New Mexico. My buddy Coral and I flew to ABQ together and had our pal Mary meet us there and drive us to her house in Santa Fe. Lucky me, another old friend lives across the street from Mary, so we all got to have cocktails before dinner at fabulous Cafe Pasqual's. The next morning Coral and I took a two hour hike...well, we got lost so it turned out to take two hours...and visited the Folk Art Museum, which was like heaven to me. Anyone who's been to my house knows about my love of religious folk art. I have the heads of the apostles in my living room, retabloes in my bathrooms, milagros everywhere. After lunch we headed back to ABQ for my reading at Bookworks. First we checked into our room at Los Poblanos Inn, my favorite place to stay in ABQ. Peacocks wander past, the smell of the lavender they grow fills the air. We shared some chardonnay before we hit the bookstore. It was a great crowd! And we had a nice little group join us back at the Inn for dinner.

Unfortunately I had a 6AM flight home, and the taxi came late, so it was a mad dash to the airport. But I made it, and made it back in time for my reading at the Melrose (MA) Library that night. What a full house! Thank you, Melrose!

Last night I made a yummy dinner of chicken stuffed with goat cheese, sides of rice pilaf and green beans, before settling in for Life of Pi. I LOVED it! If you haven't seen it, please do. the ending blew me away. Wow.

Just came back from Gogo's and our traditional Holy Saturday macaroni pastera, made with fettuccini, cinnamon, eggs and pepper and baked. It is beyond wonderful. Soon people are arriving to color Easter eggs, then we have a little group camping out in our VW Van at Beaver tail in Jamestown. We will go out to dinner first, then settle in with some excellent vino, single malt, and chocolate. There is nothing like sleeping in the van with the sound of the ocean outside.

Easter breakfast at Gogo's tomorrow. Unfortunately after that i will probably being doing my taxes. Ugh.

Then it's a week of all the cities listed above, and on my website.
 East Providence Library on Monday
Porter Square Books on Tuesday
University of Southern Maine Bookstore in Portland on Wednesday
Books on the Square in Providence on Thursday
Partners in Westport MA on Friday
Newport Public Library in Newport RI on Saturday afternoon
The Yarn Sellar in York Maine on Saturday night
Sisters of the Wool in Westport MA on Sunday at 4


Monday, March 25, 2013

Post Two: What Made Me Come Undone (a few weeks ago)

It has taken me this long to write about this, but I feel ready now. People sometimes think that as a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, I readily write about my life and personal issues. But I actually withhold much more than I reveal, and choose very carefully what I write about. But something happened a couple of weeks ago that really undid me, and though I knew I would share it here, I had to kind of get over it before I could write it down. In some ways, of course, I won't get over it. So maybe better to say I had to calm down about it before I could write it.

I was going about my own business at home when my husband called me into his study where he was busily converting our family movies from VHS to DVD. I knew he was working on the one of Sam in his first play ever, Oliver!, because he'd shown me a scene of our darling little blonde boy as one of the orphans. When he called to me, I thought it would be another scene of Sam, maybe in Fagin's gang this time. Instead, there was our Grace filling the screen,introducing the video. I have not heard her voice since she looked at me in the hospital and said, Mama. Almost eleven years ago.

My whole body started to shake. How could I have forgotten how husky her voice was? How sophisticated her mannerisms and tone? Not forgotten really, but tucked away to ease my pain. She was so intelligent, so quirky, her eyes so serious behind her wire rimmed glasses. And yes, dear ones, I came undone. I had to hold on to the chair so as not to fall. Part of me wanted to run away; part of me wanted to pull out every moment of her on those tapes and sit down and watch. But I don't have the strength for that, not even a decade later. Oh! My girl!

For days, I was not myself. That old broken hearted feeling came back to me fully. I found myself crying at odd moments. I couldn't sleep. I ached. For Gracie. For all she should have been and all she was.

And eventually I did what we all do, we parents who have known this pain. I put one foot in front of the other. I keep going.

Post One: Double tooth fairy visit!

Phew! Annabelle is sitting here beside me, happily eating popsicles, minus two teeth. How to get through watching your kid get their teeth pulled? Take off your glasses! I got to hold her hand without passing out! Rest of the day: jammies and tv. More popsicles. Scallion pancakes for dinner. Thanks for all the good thoughts!

I spent a very happy weekend kind of collapsed in bed, recuperating from two weeks on the road. My aching back, my scratchy throat, my plain old tired self. Went to bed early, slept late, and today feel like a million bucks again...just in time to head to Santa Fe tomorrow morning. More on that in a minute...

I was so happy to be a part of URI's rescheduled Big Chill weekend. Friday night was a wonderful wine tasting/cocktail party held at the renovated party space at the Providence Public Library (beautiful, by the way!), followed by dinner at Los Andes, one of my favorite restaurants for paella or steak with chimmichurra sauce and a great selection of malbecs.

Saturday night was the gala at Rosecliff in Newport. Every time I go there I feel like an Astor! I love that mansion best of all of them, and eating tenderloin and duck and oysters in the dining room adds to the romance of being there.

By Sunday all I could manage was a walk along the bay in the afternoon, but what a glorious walk it was with true blue skies and puffy white clouds, a perfect view of all three bridges: Jamestown, Newport and Mt. Hope. On days like that, I am soooo happy to live in beautiful Rhode Island! Came home to a dinner of pasta with Gogo's meatballs and sauce--a perfect ending to a great weekend.

Before the dentist appointment, I did a TV interview and a talk. So I am sufficiently wiped out enough to curl up beside Annabelle and get some writing done.

Off to Santa Fe tomorrow morning. So excited that my buddy Coral is coming with me and we will get to visit our friend Mary who had the nerve to move there from Providence a few years ago. Dinner reservations are already booked for tomorrow night. Wednesday we will head to ABQ for my reading at Book Works--COME IF YOU CAN!

Home Thursday in time for my talk at the Melrose (MA) Library that night. Then it's all things Easter. When you're Italian, that's a lot!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cake Shop and Candy Store

My book tour weary brain just realized how funny it is that last night I read at Cake Shop and tonight I'm reading at Pete's Candy Store! The readings have all been so wonderful, filled with friends and fans and good cheer. Makes me a happy happy girl.

But it is nice to linger in bed this morning, drinking coffee and kind of staring dumbly out the window watching NYC. Did lots of walking yesterday, mostly in the Union Square area. I met up with a friend for a wine tasting at Corkbuzz, which was way too much fun at 11AM. We did blind tastings of eight white wines, then went next door for Croque Monsieurs at a place that sells just Croque Monsieurs. One of the myriad things I love about this city is that there are places like that, tiny hole in the walls with yummy food. And wine tastings. And Cake Shops and Candy Stores that have readings!

My old friend Jane is arriving in a little while from RI, and we will have some play time this afternoon before heading out to Brooklyn. Until then, I think I will stay snuggled up here and keep staring out the window...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sewing Lessons

Just heard that my essay on my inability to learn to sew is out in the April More Magazine. Memories of Home Economics, wraparound skirts, and more. I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks to everyone who cane to The Strand Bookstore here in New York City last night. What a great event!

Looking forward to another wonderful night at The Cake Shop tonight at 152 Ludlow Street at 7PM.

Until then, it is a glorious day here in Manhattan and I am going to spend a few hours my favorite way: walking these beautiful streets. Blue sky. Puffy white clouds. Sunshine. Ahhhh!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New York, New York

So happy to be sitting in my little sublet here waiting for my old buddy Matt to text me that he's arrived and ready to meet up.  The rain has stopped and the sun is shining on my beautiful city!

I had a whirlwind trip to Atlanta on Saturday, and a wonderful night last night at The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA with old friends (including a couple surprises!) and new friends alike.

Wiped out, but got to start knitting a rotini scarf on the train, and to get some work done. Book tours get in the way of actual writing! Now that I'm here though, I will write every morning, which feels grand.

The schedule, if you find yourself in these parts, is:
The Strand with Chris Castellani tonight, Tuesday, at 7PM
Cake Shop on Ludlow Street with Helen Schulman and others at 7PM tomorrow night (Wednesday)
Pete's Candy Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at 7:30 Thursday night

Next week, come see me at Bookworks in Albuquerque on March 27th or at the Melrose Library in Melrose, MA on March 28.

In between, I have some fun parties to celebrate my good old alma mater, URI. One at Rosecliff in Newport and another at the Providence Public Library. Eager to catch up with all my fellow Rams!

Also: Annabelle has to have two teeth pulled, and as most of you know, medical stuff around my kids makes me a little crazy. So send her good thoughts on March 25 please...

Time to put on my little black dress!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blogging at 35000 feet

Few things make me happier than wifi on airplanes. Why can't we get it on every flight? I just got to send off all the emails that needed sending off instead of having to wait until I'm on terra firma. And I got to check Facebook, shop at J Crew, and now blog! All while I sip my Earl Grey. And all before 7AM!

I had an amazing night at Politics and Prose! Thank you to everyone who came. What a great bookstore, and what a great crowd. I arrived at my hotel at 2:30 in the morning, which was horrible. Dropped into bed, and slept without moving until almost 9:30. Had me some room service with the large pot of coffee, then walked around Dupont Circle in the drizzle before my reading. I met up with Sam's roomie's mother for some vino first. She is one of my new favorite people so i was glad to get the chance for one on one time with her. Post reading a gang of us URI Rams hit Buck's Fishing and Camping for very fine grub and more vino.

Returned to Politics and Prose the next morning to teach a writing workshop on Beginnings. A lovely group of people there! But I was happy to head home afterwards, after so many days on the road. And happier still to get picked up at the airport by Sam, home from spring break ever so briefly. He made the key lime pie for dessert that night; I made the Italian flank steak (recipe from Wednesday's New York Times) with arugula salad and grilled asparagus. Everything about as yummy as could be.

Then blissfully home all day Friday. Lunch with Sam at Chez Pascal's Wurst House (pork butt pastrami sandwich!), a visit to Gogo's, then home to the rest of the family, including Ariane, visiting from Minneapolis. Roasted salmon with a mustard tarragon sauce, an amazing salad by Sam, and Israeli couscous before blasting through three kinds of gelato: sea salt caramel, Roman raspberry and toasted almond.

I cannot express my joy at having everyone home around the kitchen table. Sigh.

Then it was up at 3:30 this morning to make this dreadful 6AM flight, but I wanted to do this Atlanta trip in one day so that I get more time with the kiddos, who both leave tomorrow afternoon.

Lots of events this week, all listed on the website. They include The Odyssey Bookstore in Northampton on Monday; The Strand in NYC on Tuesday; The Mixer Series in NYC on Wednesday; Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn on Thursday.

Now I'm going to enjoy some snooping on Author Central for book sales reports and here on the blog, which has a snazzy feature that allows me to see who reads this. I like to see who you are out there! Last time I checked that, I was surprised to see so many international readers. Oh! That reminds me! THE RED THREAD just sold to Spain!

Excited for my afternoon event at the Atlanta Writers Club at Georgia Perimeter College in Dunwoody at 1:45. Come say hi!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Politics and Prose

For those of you who know that wonderful bookstore, you know I have landed in DC for my reading tonight. Politics and Prose at 7PM. I hope to see you there!

Arrived here at 2:30 this morning. Ugh. Tucson via Denver. I moved through Dulles like a zombie, waited for almost half an hour for a taxi, and then arrived at one of the strangest hotels ever. Don't get me wrong. I love a high tech, funky hotel as much as the next person. But this one is maybe trying too hard. Every time the phone rings I can't figure out where to put the weirdly shaped hunk of plastic to answer it.

And speaking of phones. I dropped mine in the toilet yesterday. But the gods of IPhones only took away my audio for a few hours and now it's good as new. Mercury is in retrograde, which is when things like this happen...

Home tomorrow, and ready for my low tech bed, my own good cooking, my darling family, and staying still for a couple of days.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tucson, Day Two

Rain and 50 degree temperatures greeted me yesterday at the Tucson Book Fair. But that did not deter the crowds. Full house panels, writers everywhere, tamales for lunch...just a fantastic day. Then it was cocktails followed by dinner with Bill Roorbach, Heidi Durrow, Laura Moriarty, B.A. Shapiro, Lisa Genova, Ilie name a few. So much fantastic energy here. And getting to meet some of my favorite writers as well as hang with old writer friends makes the weather irrelevant.

Today: sunshine. And the promise of enchiladas with Tom Cobb.

It is hard to complain about very much here in Tucson!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

In Tucson at last!

What a whirlwind--of people and cousins and snow and airports!

An amazing night at Stellina's restaurant in Watertown, MA, with a packed house and so many old friends and FOCGs (Friends of Cousin Gina) as well as new faces, we settled in for a fantastic dinner. Warm tomato salad on grilled bread, lobster aroncini, and for me steak (still fighting that anemia!) and spinach and blue cheese mac and cheese, all with lots of wine selected by Cousin Gina.

From there, Cousin GJ and I went with Cousin Gina to her houseboat on Lewis Wharf in Boston. I was like: I'm selling my house moving onto one of these! About a dozen line the wharf there. Cousin Gina's is a one bedroom with a little back porch and a loft for extra sleeping. More wine as we stared out at the lights of Boston, then settled in for a cozy sleep. there is nothing like Cousin time, and the houseboat was the perfect setting. In the morning we just lolled about in our pjs, drinking coffee and laughing a lot. Then I set out for AWP...

This is not my favorite writer related event. Too many people! I can get stimulus overload, and this is the place where I usually do.It was raining and snowing so I was all kind of damp by the time I got there for my panel, which was to celebrate five years of the terrific literary journal The Normal School. Right away I got all turned around and overloaded and zombie feeling. But loved being on the panel and reading the short story I had in the journal last year, and sharing the stage with my buddies Beth Ann Fennelly and Adam Braver, and seeing Normal School people.

I was happy to find my way to another panel based around my pal Meg Wolitzer's excellent essay that appeared in the NYT Book Review last year called "Second Shelf", on  how women's writing is treated in publishing. I almost passed out with joy that Bobbie Ann Mason was also on the panel. I am such a fan of hers, and to hear her talk was a real thrill.

From there I went to hear my dear friends Tom Perrotta and Alice Hoffman read. My buddy, the fabulous, Chris Castellani, moderated and led a conversation afterward. (Note: Chris and I are reading together at the Strand in NYC on March 19) I wanted to linger and give everyone big smooches, but had to make a way out into the ever increasing storm to find The Island Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square, where Stewart and Trudy O'Nan, Dennis Lehane, David You, and the aforementioned Beth Ann Fennelly and I chowed down on...well...oysters and also Nantucket bay scallop ceviche and monkfish and more. I had the yummiest cocktail called a whiskey mash. Or maybe whiskey smash? I have vowed to track down the recipe so if anyone reading this knows it, send it to me!

Back to the houseboat, but three tired cousins kind of fell into bed. Is there anything better than sleeping on a boat? Getting rocked to sleep by water? There is not. But as the night went on, the gentle rocking turned into some rock and rolling, and when that 5AM alarm went off and I cracked open my eyes to look out the window, all I saw was snow. Lots of it. The cousins set out in the blizzard, lugging suitcases as we trudged through unplowed streets to get, in order, venti lattes at Starbucks (thank you for opening so early!) and then a taxi for me.

I kept checking my wonderful Flight Stats app, and all around my flight read: CANCELLED. But mine remained: ON TIME. The weather I was making my way through belied that possibility, but I kept moving onward, putting my trust in my IPhone and United Airlines (why am I such a trusting soul? Sometimes it pays off, but often it leads to disappointment...)

Even as the snow fell harder, they moved me along. Upgrading my seat, pointing me to my gate, where other doubtful passengers waited. An hour late (ON TIME!) we finally boarded, and then sat for almost two more hours as we got de iced, and de iced, and de iced again. By this time, connections in Houston became a lost cause, and along with my fellow weary travelers we began to give up hope. But in Houston I was told that my flight was waiting for me!

Even though I was in a far flung terminal, and had to take a monorail, I clung to hope. I waved down a golf cart thing, which whisked me to the monorail, the clock ticking away. The monorail was maybe the slowest thing I've ever had the bad luck to ride. And then Terminal B was a hell hole of confusion. My gate had an M after it, but the gates were numbered. I waved my boarding pass around and shouted for direction, which were given by bored United gate agents. To my surprise, the plane was there, seemingly waiting for me and three other Boston refugees.

"Sorry," we were told. "We've closed the flight."

"No, you were holding it for us," we all begged.

Bored, rude United gate agents simply handed us boarding passes for the next flight to Tucson--three hours later.

Ok. Being an optimist, at least I got to charge my tired phone, and eat Texas BBQ.

But. I missed my dinner inTucson, arriving at my hotel just in time to have two of maybe the most delicious margaritas ever before collapsing in bed and sleeping the sleep of the exhausted traveler.

This morning: lots of coffee, lots of Advil, one complaint letter to United Airlines.

Then onward to the Book festival, and panels with Bill Roorbach, Laura Moriarty, and more.

I'm now going to find some breakfast, hopefully involving southwestern type yummies...

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


What is the working title of your book?
The Obituary Writer.
Where did the idea come from?

What genre does you book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I would like Kate Winslet to be Vivien, the Obituary Writer. And Naomi Watts to be Claire.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Two women from two different eras try to find love, recover from loss, and find their role in a changing world.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is represented by my agent, and published by WW Norton.
IHow long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I can't remember. Three years for the final draft though.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Maybe The Rules of Civility.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I feel like this was answered in what gave me the idea? 
What else about your book might pique the readers' interest?
I tried my hand here at a mystery: Will Vivien find her lost lover? And I really think that makes The Obituary Writer a page turner. There is also a surprise connection between my two main characters. I guess the more I write, the more intereste di become in plot, with all its twists and turns and possibilities.
The Next Big Thing:

Up next here: Hester Kaplan and her terrific novel The Tell, which delves into the mysteries of love and addiction with gorgeous language and great insight. 

Book tour update!

I have the sore scratchy throat that comes with doing so many wonderful book events in such a short time.

Note to self: buy a large bag of Hall's honey lemon cough drops today!

But what amazing events! So many people to thank:

Monday's pub date had me on The Rhode Show and doing a live radio interview. Then it was straight to Middletown, RI where Judy Crosby and her fabulous staff at Island Books launched The Obituary Writer in style with chardonnay, cheese and crackers, and a standing room only crowd. I was happy to continue the celebration afterwards at Fieldstone's with some of my favorite fans, Judy, and buddy Jane who came along for all the festivities. Big thanks to all of them, and all of you who came out!

Tuesday brought more radio interviews before I headed to Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT. Boy, has Annie Philbrick figured out how to host an event: a lunch time luncheon of yummy salads and brownies and wine followed by a talk and a reading with Q and A and book signing. Thank you to everyone at that great bookstore, and again to everyone who came!

Sadly had to drive from Mystic to the wake of the father of our dear friend and babysitter extraordinaire. That made for a somber late afternoon, but I was so proud of the letter that Annabelle wrote to the family remembering this special man.

Hardly time to pause before my buddy Amy picked me up for the event that the amazing Robin Kall Homonoff threw at Felicia's in East Greenwich, RI. Robin is a force, and brought a standing room only crowd of incredible women. I was so happy to see so many familiar faces there, and to meet so many new people. Thank you to Robin and her daughter Emily! And thank you to everyone who literally stood for over an hour!

Today I am doing the final copyedits on the jaw dropping anthology I've edited of writers writing about knitting. Knitting Yarns will be published by WW Norton in November, and has essays by Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Andre Dubus III, Sue Grafton, Anita Shreve, Elizabeth Berg and twenty more of your favorite writers. You will love it as much as I do!

Also just did the edits on an essay of mine that will run in the March 15 Wall Street Journal in the Mansions section. I will post a link when I have one.

A little worried about the weather report for tonight and am hoping that snow doesn't interfere with my reading at Stellina's restaurant in Watertown, MA. I will be there at 6:30 and hopefully you will be able to make it!

An exciting few weeks ahead. I will of course keep you updated on events and reviews. And I  will continue to send out my extreme gratitude for supporting The Obituary Writer!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pub date for THE OBITUARY WRITER is tomorrow!

I never understand why books are out before their pub date, but am delighted by all the great responses I've had from readers who already have their books! Thank you!

And thank you too for pointing out a few errors in the finished copy, which is as maddening to me as it is to you. Trust me that many eyes go over the manuscript, and I'm always shocked by mistakes that somehow get in there. they will be corrected in the next printing, be assured.

Today, Parade Magazine ran my essay, "The Girls," and I've had so many emails from readers of it that I'm overwhelmed. THANK YOU ALL! below is a link if you haven't seen it:

Last week I had a terrific time at Winter Institute in Kansas City, where I got to sign a zillion books for independent booksellers, and then to share an evening with dinner and wine with a couple dozen. I had so much fun, and it was great to get private time with these wonderful people.

Fled a blizzard and managed to get to Albany for another terrific time at the Writer's Institute there. Shared the stage with Gene Mirabelli, and dinner with Don Faulkner, Jo Page, and Dana and Bill Kennedy. A lovely evening!

Tomorrow, if you live in or near Rhode Island, please come to Island Books in Middletown at 6:30 for my first official event for THE OBITUARY WRITER! I would love to see you there!

Tuesday I will be at Bank St. Books in Mystic, CT for a lunch time event. And that night Robin Kall is hosting an evening event in East Greenwich, RI.

If you are in or near Tucson, AZ, please come to see me at one of my panels at the Literary Festival next weekend.

And then it's on to Washington DC where I'll be at Politics and Prose.

Details for all of these events are on my website under EVENTS, along with many many more!