Sunday, January 27, 2013

Swimming Pool

If it were just my cup running over, it would be one thing. But it is my salad bowl, my kitchen sink, no, my imaginary swimming pool that runneth over today.

This is my life.

Earlier this month, I spent two days in Vancouver with my film righting partner Joan Macbeth, working on a treatment for my novel When She Flew. Her condo is across a narrow strip of water from Granville Island, where we ferried to buy groceries and Indian food for lunch. We ended our time together excited and buzzing with new ideas.

The following week, I took the ferry again, twice, to Whidbey Island. The first time was to enjoy the company of a dear friend from the Bay Area, and talk about creating a writers retreat space in her home. The second time was to appear at Hedgebrook's production of a scene from my forthcoming book, Love Water Memory, and scenes from my friends' books as well, Carol Cassella and Erica Bauermeister. My words came out of actors' mouths. I was astonished and filled with a kind of joy I had not yet experienced as a writer. I imagine it's something like what songwriters feel when the audience sings along to their songs.

This past week, I performed with our new band, The Rejections and the Trailing Spouses, at Elliott Bay Books for Erica's launch of her gorgeous new novel, The Lost Art of Mixing. Along with Stephanie Kallos, Garth Stein, Ben Bauermeister, Paul Mariz and my hubster Matt Gani, we played "Paperback Writer" (although Erica's book is in hardcover) and the old Robert Johnson number "Come On in My Kitchen," to honor the cook heroine of the book. Playing in a band is my first love, creatively. I was always in one from age 16 to 30, when I met Matt and we became an acoustic duo. Full circle doesn't even come close to how gratifying this experience has been for me.

And then our wonderful collective, Seattle7Writers, invited 100+ writers to join us yesterday for a one-day writing intensive, filled with mini lessons and individual consultations, strong coffee, donuts, chocolate, cookies, popcorn from the brand spanking new S7W popcorn machine . . . and lots and lots of people writing. Joy is too small a word for what happens when you gaze over the crowd and hear: clickety tick tick tick x 100.

At the end of the day we decided to shake it up and presented our Q&A session as a game show: Ask an Author. All of our participating authors were funny and fun and informative as Garth led us through our nerve-wracking paces, answering surprise questions in under 30 seconds.

And then I thought, here comes the coup de grace, when we give our end-of-year donations to two organizations we love: 826 Seattle and Powerful Schools. But before Garth handed over the big checks, he gave me such a lovely shout out, and I couldn't very well hide or pooh-pooh him, and then Teri Hein of 826 said another nice thing from the stage, and I let it all in, and my eyes filled, and I was exhausted and drunk with having accomplished so much, and so, so grateful for my life and my friends, and for the community I live in, and for all the things I get to do.

Amazing grace. How sweet.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Book Smell

I take the whole New Year thing seriously. I'm a sucker for opportunities to reflect and renew and take stock, to revisit old dreams, set new goals, find inspiration. And there's that feeling that—come January 1st—anything is possible, again. Sure, nature provides its own new beginning every year at spring time, but still, the new year holds its sway, as it did on Tuesday when hubby and I sat at the dining table and mapped out our paths for the coming year.

In 2013, that path includes the release of my new book, both thrilling and daunting, knowing the work ahead of me as I go out into the world to give public birth to it this spring. I loved writing the book, the story behind the story (listen here), and now the experience of working with my new publishing team at Gallery Books/ Simon and Schuster. On the eve of Hurricane Sandy, I visited New York to meet with them, and I was blown away by their incredible devotion to the book, and their intention to get it into the hands of as many readers as possible starting April 2.

This is how much they love it. They commissioned an artist to create this beautiful cover.

I cried when I saw it because it so thoughtfully reflects the story inside the pages. You can read more about the story here. If you pre-order a copy at the bottom of that page, your support will be noticed by the book industry, in a good way. Love Water Memory represents a brand new path for me with my writing career, and I'd love your help.

On April 2, there will be a launch party at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle. (Notice that I'm inviting you to come with plenty of notice?) Of course, if you can't make it, I'll be traveling through the Northwest and Bay Area and Denver to do readings and book clubs. I hope to see you somewhere, so check my schedule, which will be filling in very soon.

It's a brand new year and an opportunity to reconnect. As always, I thank my lucky stars for all of you who've been with me for all or part of this journey, and I wish you wonderful things in 2013 and beyond. Dream big!