Saturday, January 30, 2016

A day without a phone

People are always talking about the great pleasure of going off the grid or unplugging. Well, I just spent a day involuntarily doing that and I'm sorry to admit it wasn't a pleasure at all! Last night I lost my phone at the movies and thus began my almost 24 hours without it. Although I felt very Nancy Drew watching it move around RI on Find My IPhone, and even went to the creepy park where it landed finally, searching trash cans and disgusting litter, mostly the day was not fun. Why? I couldn't set my alarm (no alarm clock here!), check the weather (without putting on the TV), call my mom (she's 84! I call her a lot!), plan Annabelle's play date, get Sam's texts, or hey! Communicate with any of the people I touch base with every day. Sure, I emailed from my computer, but I wasn't home most of the day. I'm not whining. Instead, I'm here to say that as someone who does love technology (I even look back fondly at the hulking Leading Edge computer I bought at Crazy Eddy's in NYC decades ago), I like how this small thing I can hold in the palm of my hand keeps me close to the people I love, the world outside my own little world, the news and goings on both big and personal. I don't like staring at it instead of into the eyes of someone I love, or even someone I like. I don't like using it when good food is in front of me, or someone is talking to me, or a million other times when I want or need to be looking up and at this beautiful world. But today I realized how much this phone of mine adds to a full life rich with people I love and a world I care enough about to want to check in on how it's doing throughout the day. And yes, I also suffered Word With Friends withdrawal. 

Nancy Drew failed. No doubt my phone thief tossed it in the pond. But three hours with the charming Kyle and I'm the proud new owner of an upgraded pink (Apple calls it rose) phone. The magic of the iCloud had everything appear here, and I've now called everybody I couldn't call and checked everything I couldn't check and taken all my turns on WWF. I managed to read a novel today (Ann Leary's The Children, coming out in May, and you will thank me for the recommendation!) and bind off my gorgeous mountain cowl from Purl Soho, and visit Gogo, and grocery shop for a dinner party tomorrow, and talk to Annabelle. But I do all those things when I have my phone too. It just lets me reach out even more. So here's to technology! 

What's for dinner tomorrow? Cauliflower al forno, pappardelle with pork ragu, and an arugula salad. I'll be cooking all morning. Can't wait!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

So many exciting events for The Book That Matters Most!

The Book That Matters Most will be published on August 6! And there's lots of readings and talks being planned already! When the schedule is set, I'll post it on my website. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Happy it snowed on Saturday...

While I was still in St. Pete! Don't get me wrong, I like a blizzard from time to time. But missing this one had a double benefit: I got to go sleeveless and the airport was open so I could get home on Sunday with no problem!

Another fabulous week at Writers in Paradise with Andre Dubus lll, Laura Lippman, Stewart O'Nan, Dennis Lehane, Les Standiford, Sterling Watson, Gilbert King, Campbell McGrath, and Laura Williams McCaffrey--a stellar group of writers and teachers and pals. If you are thinking about a writers conference, and Florida in January appeals, consider Writers in Paradise for certain. 

Here are a few pictures from my week:

Also, this happened:

See that handsome guy in the glasses smack in the middle? That's my kid! On SNL! #proudmon

And now I have several weeks of writing, cooking, reading, knitting Annabelle time ahead of me (with several trips to NYC). What am I writing? This week it's correcting page proofs for The Book That Matters Most, coming this August:

Also in the planning stages of a new novel. Always a terrifying and exhilarating place to be. And two different non fiction projects in the works. More on those soon. 

What am I cooking? Annabelle's favorite, risotto. A roast chicken. And for a dinner party this weekend, porchetta with cauliflower al forno. 

What am I knitting? The mountain cowl from Purl Soho, with the yummiest yarn ever. 

Reading? Read Outline by Rachel Cusk and My Name is Lucy Barton byElizabeth Strout last week, and am dazzled by both. This week I've got books for blurbing and also eager to start Beatlebone. 

And then on Wednesday there's the premiere of this:

Finest Hours! My kid's in it! Okay, one scene. But still!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chilly Florida

Every January finds me here in St. Petersburg, Florida teaching at Eckerd College Writers in Paradise writing conference. I've never been much of a Florida girl--except those long ago spring breaks to Fort Lauderdale, the always fabulous Miami Book Fair, my residency at the Hermitage, and memorable readings at Bookstore One in Sarasota. Yet these weeks here feel more and more like a homecoming of sorts. I always have a knockout group in my workshops. The readings never fail to take my breath away. And sitting in my jammies at night sipping whiskey with my writer pals warms me, makes me laugh, makes me think, inspires me, and reminds me how lucky I am to be part of this vibrant community of writers. And hey! There's nothing like seeing sunshine and palm trees in January! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

From minus 9 to palm trees

What a treat it was to spend those cold snowy days in Vermont with my truly wonderful VCFA students and faculty. Now I'm back home, preparing for a new group of students in St. Petersburg, Florida where the weather forecast promises temperatures in the 70s. 

It's my tenth year teaching at Writers in Paradise at Eckerd College and everything from the B and B where we stay to the faculty and our favorite restaurants feels like a home away from home. I'm looking forward to my workshop, the readings and stories I'll hear, the late nights in my jammies laughing with my Jammie clad pals. 

In the chill of Vermont I knit two scarves; I'm hoping to knit myself the mountain cowl from Purl Soho in Florida. 

I've got lots to write in the months ahead. Two non-fiction books due this year, both in various stages of completion. One is a memoir through food, the other a look back at the books that mattered most to me growing up. It's been fun rereading those books, and revisiting that girl I was who loved them. As for the food book, I've been writing about food for years and I'm excited to collect those essays and write some new ones. That's where my writing mind will be turned for the early part of 2016: food and books. Not a bad way to spend my days. 

Lots of other exciting things ahead. My cousins and I just booked a trip to Venice for the week before I teach at the Geneva Writers conference in March. And in May I'm teaching in Cuba, then in the Bahamas, followed by a return to Aspen Words in June. 

What's most exciting is the August publication of The Book That Matters Most! It took me three years to get this story right, and I'm over the moon that it's ready to meet the world. 

My 2016 resolution to read 100 books this year is off to a grand start. Old Filth by Jane Gardham and Outline by Rachel Cusk are both knockouts. Cusk's writing has me flat out dazzled. I'll be sure to keep you posted on the next 98!

I hope I'll squeeze in writing a couple short stories amidst all the non fiction writing. They are pushing at my brain, begging to come out...

Ah well, for now I'm happy to spend the weekend doing laundry, reading student stories, getting a pre Florida pedicure, going to a friend's reading, seeing the movie Carol, doing yoga, hanging with Annabelle, and having dinner with pals. Oh. And thawing out. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy 2016 from Montpelier Vermont!

Yup! It's cold here! 1 the last time I checked...

But it's wonderful to meet new students, see old friends, make new pals, hear amazing readings and lectures, and even walk these snowy streets. 

Lots of listening means lots of knitting: one scarf (knit in ridge stitch) done, an infinity scarf in deep purple almost done. 

Reading Old Filth when I have down time, which isn't often. But read it! 

I hope your holidays were happy. And that you soar in 2016!