Sep 25, 2009

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Never seen my name on a marquis before. This was a very exciting first. Thanks to Bookworks in New Mexico for the thrill.

Sep 22, 2009

Topanga Book Release Party, September 20

What great fun was had on Sunday! Nearly 100 people showed up for the launch party for The Possibility of Everything, followed by a community event in Topanga for about another 25 readers. So many thanks go to Bill Buerge, owner of the Topanga Mermaid, for hosting the event; to Village Books for being our local independent on-site bookseller; The Boxer Cafe for delicious food; Monica Holloway for the hilarious and heartfelt toast; Jamie and Julia for all the organizing; Wendy for help with the drinks; and all the friends who came to celebrate with us. Special thanks to the fabulous women in my writing group for standing with me in front of the huge fireplace and talking about their experience helping me shape the story for the past two years. Especially Deborah, our resident skeptic, who revealed that although I hadn't quite yet convinced her in the Possibility of Everything, I've opened her up to the Possibility of More.

That's me in the photo with Katie O'Laughlin, the owner of Village Books in Pacific Palisades and champion of local authors, and Rachel Resnick, fellow Topanga writer and author of the powerful memoir Love Junkie, out in paperback now.

Sep 18, 2009

Release (Control) Day, September 15

Several people have asked how I spent September 15, which was the day the book was released. This is a posting I did that morning over at, where I've been posting the Countdown to Publication blog. It offers a pretty clear picture of how I spent the 24 hours leading up to September 15. Photos of Monica and I at the computer store to follow shortly...


If I hadn’t witnessed yesterday with my own eyes, I might not believe it happened. But it did, and I’m here to tell you the crazy story. I have to tell it in a fast first draft though, because the laptop I’m working on might not stay charged long enough for me to edit and post it. But I get ahead of myself.

Yesterday was a big marketing day, possibly even bigger than today. It was my last chance before release to let everyone on God’s earth and their grandma know that The Possibility of Everything is in stores today. I had about thirty tasks I’d left until the very last day. Postings, mass emails, personal emails, etcetera etcetera.

I woke up in the morning intending to start with posting to my Facebook friends, a list of more than 700 people I’ve carefully cultivated for the past year, but the system wouldn’t let me log on. What? I’d been on the site until midnight the night before, sending invitations to a public reception in L.A. this Sunday, inviting people to join the book’s Group page, posting a notice on my college alumni site. Did I do too self-promotion all at once? I seem to be doing way less than other authors I see on Facebook, but maybe I got nailed. Who knows? There’s no customer service number to call, no clear email address to appeal to for help. I sent a plea into the Facebook vortex, and received an automated response to the effect of “someone will review your appeal and get back to you.” Okay. In the meantime, no Facebook access. Well, I figured, as long as I’ve still got my email accounts, I’ll survive.

But then. At about 3 p.m., as I was working on my four-year-old laptop at a cafĂ©, my battery warning light came on. This was puzzling, since the computer was plugged into the wall. I checked the charger connections. Everything looked fine. I tried another outlet. Same thing. I rushed the computer home to back up my hard drive files—because like everyone else I know, I don’t do this often enough and I’m about a month overdue—but the computer went into hibernation before I could finish.

I drove down to the computer store and pled my case. The nice guy with a nametag that said Om (I’m not kidding) diagnosed a bad battery and showed me how I could remove the battery and still use the computer plugged in to the wall. This worked fine in the store. It wasn’t a great solution, but it would work at least until I could get a new laptop. So I came home, ate dinner with the family, helped Eden with her second-grade homework, put both girls to bed. Then I tried to go back online.

Kaput again. No amount of fancy maneuvers from my high-tech husband could make it power up.

We took out my old laptop, the one where the power cord has to be plugged in just right for it to work. It was dead as well.

You know those moments when you feel like you’ve stepped into a zone beyond the beyond? This was one of them. It reminded me of Chapter Four in my book, where in spite of all our good intentions and efforts we keep missing our flights to Belize. What should half taken us a half day of travel instead took two. It was like one of those dreams where you’re trying to get somewhere important and keep tripping over your own feet. Or trying to dial a telephone and over and over again but keep skipping a digit or getting the number wrong.

At this point it was 9:30 p.m. and I was, literally, sitting on the couch sobbing. My husband had figured out a way to get my old laptop charged, but only if we kept it in a certain position on the kitchen table and didn’t move it an inch. It was better than nothing, but barely.

Then the phone rang. I told my husband that whoever it was, I wasn’t home, except it was my dear friend Monica. Monica Holloway, also an author with a book coming out this fall. She was calling to wish me good luck today and wasn’t expecting a slobbering mess to get on the line, but she rolled with that one quickly. And made me laugh. And told me that goddammit, she’s meeting me today at 10 a.m. at the Sony store in Woodland Hills and—I quote her here—we’re not leaving a f*&%ing man standing until I walk out of there with a functioning computer. And that then, yeah baby, we need to find someone to stir me something strong.

After we got off the phone, I borrowed my husband’s laptop and sent an email to twenty close friends, explaining the situation and asking them to be my presence on the internet today. This was a big stretch for me: it’s incredibly hard for me to ask for help. I’m the kind of person who always insists on doing everything myself. But the responses I’ve received have been instantaneous and beautiful, from the friends who assure me they’ll do whatever they can; to the ones who remind me that given the subject matter of the book, this is exactly how events need to unfold; to the ones who remind me Mercury is in retrograde and this makes appliances break down, so it’s not my fault.

It’s strange to have spent the last six months preparing for the release of this book only to have my hands tied on the very day itself, but maybe that’s the real message here. The book is the story of how I went from being a person without trust in anything or anyone other than myself to someone who learned to feel safe in the world again. So maybe for me, Release Day needs to be Release Control Day. I’ve done my work, and now the book has to go out there without me, born on the wings of my friends.

So what will I be doing on release day? Well, I’m going to post this quickly, before the computer dies again, and then brew a pot of coffee. I’m going to put away the laundry that's been sitting in the basket at the boot of my bed for a week. Then I'm going to put on my “Who says people in L.A. don’t read?” T-shirt and drive down to Best Buy with my AmEx card to meet Monica. Both of us will say a little prayer that my last advance check comes in soon so I can pay off the bill. Then I’ll pick up my kids from school and take Eden to her first ballet class. And I’ll keep reminding myself that the book, in stores today, belongs to everyone now and not just me.

There is much to be grateful for today. Books on the shelves, a publisher who backs it, a laptop that’s staying charged long enough for me to type all this to you, and extraordinary friends. And a cell phone on which my editor and publicist can reach me today, if necessary. Thank god my Blackberry is still working. For now.

Sep 14, 2009

Speaking of Memoir

The best interviewers are the ones who ask thoughtful and probing questions, and who have really taken their time to read a book and consider the writer's intent. On Friday I had the great fortune of speaking with two such interviewers, Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler, of

Our 45-minute talk covered memoir writing in general and my experience writing The Possibility of Everything in particular, and includes a couple of unique tips for writers I've picked up over the past 20 years. And the best part: the interview is available online, for free, at

Click here to hear the interview. You can read more about itin Matilda's blog at Story Circle Network, too.

Sep 9, 2009

Guest blogging

I've been telling people that I went into the writing cave two years ago to write my next book, and that when I emerged the entire marketing landscape for book publishing had changed. Case in point: the blogosphere.

People keep blogs as a form of journaling: that much I understood. But the use of blogs for marketing purposes was entirely new to me. Several bloggers have spontaneously reviewed The Possibility of Everything in write-ups that range from professional-style reviews to rambling paragraphs of personal opinion. It's a little like being invited to a big party, then being asked to leave the room while everyone talks about you behind your back.

That's why the opportunity to be a guest blogger on some sites has been a welcome opportunity. This week, you can find a piece I wrote over at, a site for both aspiring and accomplished women writers about how to avoid Kitchen-Sink writing, meaning how to not include everything when writing a memoir. The posting is here. On Monday, September 13 there will be a link there to a phone interview I did with the site's leaders about writing The Possibility of Everything, and about memoir writing in general. More on that soon.

Also, over at Fully, Carrie Link's blog, you can read a Q&A with me about the events in the book, and my experiences writing it.

More to come, including write-ups in People and Entertainment Weekly, we've been told.

Sep 6, 2009

September 15, Everyone's Big Day

The publication date for The Possibility of Everything is September 15--in nine days!--which sounds like a fine day to me.

Turns out, it's a fine day for a whole list of other authors as well.

It's the day Dan Brown's new book hits stores, as well as Jacqueline Mitchard's new novel, No Time To Wave Goodbye, which is the sequel to the blockbuster first Oprah pick The Deep End of the Ocean. Jon Krakauer's new nonfiction book about the football star turned solider who died in Afghanistan also comes out that day. And a novel about Jane Austen and sea monsters. I kid you not.

My editor says all this is good good good, since it'll drive a lot of extra traffic into bookstores that week. I'm thinking that the best I can hope for is that spouses of Dan Brown fans will be wandering aimlessly though the stores, waiting for their husbands' pre-orders to be brought to the front registers, when a bright blue butterfly on the cover of a new memoir catches their eyes.

Unless they're already skimming Jacqueline Mitchard's book, which they should be, because it's wonderful.

It's going to be a very, very busy and interesting week, next week.

Stay tuned.

Sep 1, 2009

While L.A. Burns

The fires in the San Gabriel Mountains this week have been bigger than anyone I know in Los Angeles can ever remember, which is saying a lot, since one part of another of the city seems to catch fire at least once or twice a year. At night, the girls and I go out on the deck and look at the neon orange line framing the mountaintops in the distance. If you watch it long enough, you can see bright flareups that look so alarming from 20 miles away it's nearly impossible to imagine how apocalyptic they must be up close.

It feels strange, to put it mildly, to be gearing up for a book release--only 15 days away--and going through the manic motions of last-minute marketing and publicity while such a disaster is unfolding just across town. I remember two years ago, in October 2007, when power lines came down overnight in Malibu, sparking a fire that nearly burned Eden's elementary school, took dozens of houses in its race to the ocean, and had us evacuated for four nights. As I drove the girls and the cat and whatever we deemed irreplaceable that could fit in the car down the mountain, I was struck by how normal everything was once we reached the San Fernando Valley. It felt as if we'd been sprinting toward safety as we drove out of Topanga, only to reach Mulholland Highway and find no sign of abnormality at all. Until we turned around, and saw the enormous cloud of smoke rising from the mountains behind us.

That's just one of the surreal elements of a wildfire, how localized it can be. And so while residents of Glendale and La Canada and Acton pack up and drive away with their children and pets, not knowing if they'll have a house to return to, at least this time over in Topanga Canyon it's business as usual. Optimizing the web site. Planning the book tour. Designing promotional postcards to mail out. Writing this week's blog entry for And hoping that one more story about a family's search for safety and security will be of interest to others.