Monday, March 31, 2014

Week Two at artist colony

On a roll with the novel, despite lingering questions about whether it's any good. Always haunting me during first drafts, that's the terrifying part. The exhilarating part is waking up, like this morning, with ideas pushing to get on the page. And like other hours here, today will pass in a haze of words. 

Yesterday I had to change rooms, which was disruptive to my work schedule (as well as a pain in the neck, not to mention losing my spectacular view!) but I left the site and took myself and the Sunday NYT out for breakfast on the beach, bought fresh Gulf shrimp (they went into yummy shrimp scampi last night), then spent the afternoon reading through my 70 pages, tweaking and fixing. 

Ready to spend today on the next chapter! Only four more days here, but I think I might reach my goal of 100 pages...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sound of the waves woke me

Maybe dreaming, I thought I heard a train. But it's the crazy wind and crashing waves outside my windows. I'm enjoying the sound, even though it's too dark to see the beach. Normally I would try at least to go back to sleep. But such is life at an artist colony that I know I can sleep later if I'm tired. All obligation is removed for awhile. 

What a night last night! Here at the Hermitage Friday readings are right on the beach! I mean, toes in sand. A heron and a skate both made an appearance too. It was a remarkable night, and a delight to share the sand with my fellow reader, the playwright Y York. 

My goal these two weeks--half over now--is to finish 100 pages of a new novel. I think I'll reach that goal, even as the plot, as they say, keeps thickening. This is a challenging one, in the best possible way. 

Meanwhile, here's the cover of An Italian Wife, published in September and already available for pre order!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gotcha Day!

Nine years ago today, Lorne, Sam and I flew across the world to bring our Annabelle home. The geographic miles can be measured. But the emotional ones have no boundaries or limits. What a threesome we were, a family still stunned by the devastating loss of Grace three years earlier. Yet how hopeful we were, how bursting with love. They put that baby girl in my arms and I knew immediately I would slay dragons for her. Today is Gotcha Day. Today was our new beginning. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Is it any good?

I am so happily writing. And writing. And writing. But is it any good? And why do I love this exhilarating feeling? Same one that got me into trouble my whole life! Jump off the cliff. Go with it. Hope for the best. 

Healing powers of the ocean

Third day here and I slept until 9:00!

The goal is to get that iron level up, and a day spent in bed reading and writing and watching the rain over the ocean seems to be restorative already!

I did do a reading last night at the fabulous Bookstore1 in Sarasota. A packed room followed by steak and spinach. 

Today, more of the same. But with the rain stopped I might walk on the beach at low tide and hopefully find some seashells. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

First day at artists' colony

Well, since yesterday was spent getting here--SW to Baltimore and then on to Tampa, picking up rental car, driving a couple hours, a stop at supermarket for supplies--today is actually my second day. (a shout out to Southwest Airlines for retrieving my beloved jeans jacket after I forgot it on the plane!) 

Arrived in the pouring rain. And the sound of rain and waves right outside my window lulled me to sleep for 10 glorious hours, after a welcome dinner of steak Oscar with the other fascinating residents and Hermitage people. 

Today: a morning of reading to prepare me for the essay I'm planning to write. A couple of hours to tie up loose ends on other projects. Then writing my novel. 

Oh. And staring at this:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Artist Retreat

Friends, tomorrow I leave for two weeks at an artists colony near Sarasota, Florida. I'll mostly be working on my new novel and an essay I've been mapping out in my head for a long time. Of course, I'm also imagining short stories pouring from my fingertips, and progress on something I've been toying with out of my comfort zone. But I can't describe what it feels like to have nothing to do but think and write (and stare at the ocean). How I miss my family when I go off to do this. But some of my best work came out of retreats at Yaddo, amongst others. And so I'm excited and hopeful and ready for warm weather. And of course to return with lots of words written, and eager to smother everybody with kisses. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Heading to New Orleans for the Tennessee Williams Festival

So many awesome writers! So much awesome food! If you're in or around New Orleans I would love to see you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Why am I awake at 3:52 AM?

Full disclosure, as a lifelong insomniac it's not that unusual for me to be awake between 3 and 5 AM. I used to fight it, but not so over the past few years. In fact, when I'm not in a house full of happily sleeping people I watch TV or read. I've seen lots of episodes of Scandal when I'm in NYC awake in the wee hours. Even home, like now, I play my Words With Friends turns. It's always fun when a fellow player is also awake. 

But no matter where I am, this is the perfect time to obsess. About money. About the missing plane. About my anemia. And now that I've started a new novel, let that obsessing begin! Is it any good? Does it make any sense? How is the person in Paris going to meet the woman in the bookstore????

Monday I begin a two week stay at The Hermitage, an artist colony on the beach (sunshine! Sand! Ocean!) near Sarasota, Florida. Hopefully I will return with 100 pages written, many books read, higher iron numbers, and a bit of color in my winter cheeks. 

It is hard to describe the joys of retreats like this for a writer (or any artist). Thinking is so vital to making art, and I've done some of my best work when I have days and days to do just that. In fact, much of my new book, An ItalianWife, was written at various stays at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY--as a second project to what I'd gone there to write! And yes, I have a second and third project I'm hoping to make progress on in my weeks away. 

Still, this morning I can't stop worrying over what I've written so far (all thirty pages!) or stop trying to solve plot problems. Ok. Or stop reading every news item about the missing plane. 

But I am growing sleepy now. Tomorrow, Sam and I are going shopping and then picking up the grandmas for dinner. Grilling burgers has become my go to way to pretend it isn't 18 degrees. In March. 

And if you are in or near New Orleans, come to the Tennessee Williams Festival this weekend. I will be there with dozens of wonderful writers. 

Even though I have not solved the woman in Paris and the bookstore problem yet, I do think I will go to sleep...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Off to Tucson and the Tucson Literary Festival!

Cannot wait for:
Writer friends
Books, books, books
Did I mention SUNSHINE?

Read this quote by Diane Arbus and wanted to share it. "I work from awkwardness. By that I mean if I stand in front of something instead of arranging it, I arrange myself."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I have just spent three days recording my memoir, DO NOT GO GENTLE: MY SEARCH FOR MIRACLES IN A CYNICAL TIME for Thanks to Open Road, the book is available again as an e reader. And soon on audio. 

It's been an emotional few days, reliving these events. But it's also been an extraordinary experience. 

Here is a description of the book, and a link to it on Open Road. 

Do Not Go Gentle is a transporting memoir about Ann Hood’s quest to find a cure, if not an outright miracle, that would cure her father’s cancer. Her “spiritual Odyssey, with a secret history all its own” would take her from Rhode Island to El Santuario de Chimayo, New Mexico, in search of dirt reputed to contain astonishing healing powers. Along the way, Hood tells the story of her family, their immigration to America, and the author’s reconnection with her Italian heritage. Most of all, this touching memoir is a valentine to the man who was, in Hood’s own words, “the love of my life.”

You can get the e reader here:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sittin' in a railway station... a ticket for my destination...

One of my all time favorite songs, running through my mind as I watch the woman making coffee here at the Amtrak station in Providence. Hurry up! 

I had one of those wake up every hour sleeps that I get when I need to be up early (4:30 today), so I'm feeling a bit like I've been punched all night. Of course, three episodes of House of Cards before bed didn't help!

Three days of recording Do Not Go Gentle, my memoir about my dad, in NYC. And one of my wake ups was at 2:08, his number. Sometimes you have to believe they are still with us...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The writing life

There are still days when I look up and can't believe I'm a writer. When I was a little girl, I imagined this life. But in my poor small town, that was dreaming big. I didn't listen to naysayers. I had to write. For me, it's like eating and sleeping. It's like breathing. 

And this week, I've been able to finish an essay I've been struggling to write. It is hard to write clearly about a time when you were confused or unhappy for no clear reason. But I think I managed to capture a period in my life of melancholy. And it feels good to have struggled to get it right. 

Also am deep into writing a noir story for Providence Noir. Loving plotting a murder! And I'm glad that I've managed to introduce that second story grace Paley says is necessary for a story to work. 

Then yesterday the new Tin House arrived with my essay on the writer Laurie Colwin, tomato pie, and the beauty of memories. 

Days spent with words make me feel happy. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rent the Runway, Not

My beautiful gold designer gown with plunging back did NOT arrive for my black tie event at Rosecliff in Newport Saturday night. So mad!!! Luckily I have a hold sequined skirt that I topped with a pretty black tank, but it wasn't the outfit of my dreams. And Rent the Runway was unavailable by phone for two days, didn't respond to emails, and only appeared when I tweeted my frustration. Honestly, they were not very apologetic. Kind of like: Oops! We can give you a refund! To which I replied, Gee, you think?
 Luckily it wasn't for a wedding or something. And guess what? It arrived LAST night, three days late. Insert angry face emoticon here. 

Another week of mostly rest with lots of iron pills and kale!

But Thursday night I will be at Black Sheep Knitting in Needham, MA at 6:30 with Knitting Yarns contributors! Bring your knitting (I also accept offerings of spinach)!