Roundup: Love and Marriage (and a giveaway!)

I’m getting married in less than two weeks. I can scarcely wrap my head around the idea that I’m going to be someone’s wife. Exciting! Totally weird! All the things!

Who wore it best? We'll see princess, we'll see....

Who wore it best? We'll see princess, we'll see....

Some people let loose the crazy.com when they get hitched:   http://apracticalwedding.com/2016/07/wedding-website-mistakes/

I got out of the dating game just as Tinder was becoming the thing. Thank GOD: http://www.elle.com/life-love/news/a38124/tinder-study/

These ladies are the definition of grace. And if you ever feel bad about getting stood up? Two words: Lupita Nyong'o http://www.elle.com/life-love/sex-relationships/news/a38152/women-stood-up/

There’s over the top weddings, and then there’s Mariah Carey http://www.vogue.com/13463732/mariah-carey-wedding-details-reality-show-mariahs-world/

Well, my dad is British, so if y’all wanna wear a giant hat to my wedding CARRY ON! http://www.vogue.com/13463228/british-versus-american-wedding-traditions/

It’s never too late. I’m not crying! It’s just allergies! http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a62299/79-year-old-virgin-getting-married/

All my mother-in-law to be does is send me texts with lots of emojis. #soblessed http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a62372/mother-of-the-groom-bride-horror-stories/

You know when you go to a wedding and you think, this is great but it needs more zombies? DeAngelo Williams has you covered. http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/news/a62222/nfl-player-deangelo-williams-walking-dead-zombie-wedding/

Why Joe Biden is your favorite uncle: http://www.wkbw.com/news/us-news-world/joe-biden-officiates-gay-wedding-between-white-house-staffers

My husband supports marriage equality just like Bud Light! Bud Light itself? Nah. http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/bud-light-proudly-supports-gay-marriage-ad-partnership-ellen-171757

EXTRA: I'm giving away an audio copy of LOSING THE LIGHT along with some fun roadtrip swag! Details on how to enter at the link: http://bit.ly/2asjifw

 

 

Five Questions with Travel Writer Lilit Marcus

Travel writer is one of those dream jobs that anyone with a well-used passport has probably fantasized about at some point. This week I tap my talented friend Lilit Marcus to find out what it’s really like. Check out her recent adventures in Cuba and Iceland at the links and for real-time updates, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

What is your favorite place you’ve visited and why?

It's always hard for me to choose a favorite. Paris is a cliché, but it's a much-deserved cliché. Every time I go, I find something I've never seen or done before, yet the city always feels comforting and familiar. It's an old friend and a new lover at the same time. The high school me who diagrammed sentences in French class still can't believe that I've been to Paris not just once but several times.

What are the biggest differences between travelling somewhere as a journalist and going there just as a tourist?

The biggest mistake is thinking that a reporting trip is the same thing as a vacation. Some people have this idea of a travel writer as somebody who's lying around on some fabulous beach at some fabulous resort somewhere, filing stories from a chaise longue. (First of all, there are not power outlets at the beach. I've looked.) My assignments have taken me to some really incredible places, but I often spend as much time cooped up in a room with my computer or running from meeting to meeting as I do sightseeing. The solitude factor is also big. If you're not comfortable spending a lot of time alone, the job will be tough for you. I really wish I could always bring a friend or partner with me when I'm on the road, but if the majority of travel I do on my own. My job involves a lot of meeting new people and trying to chat up the locals--it's always easier to do that solo, because it feels organic. The other day I was in a restaurant in Nashville by myself and was seated at the bar, in front of an open kitchen. By the end of the night, I'd met all the people sitting around me, one of the chefs, and one of the restaurant owners. I got a ton of great local intel from them. That is a lot harder to do when you're dining with a friend and don't want to abandon them or be rude. 

Where have you travelled that was completely different from your expectations?

 Before I went to Mexico City, several people--some of whom were from Mexico City--told me that I was going to hate it, that it was a terrible place for women to go alone, and that I wouldn't feel safe. As soon as I arrived, there were signs around my hotel warning about street crime and advising people not to walk alone at night or wear nice jewelry. But I loved the city almost immediately and had an incredible experience. The people are lovely, the food is great, and there's so much to see, do, and absorb that I could have stayed another week. I'm already plotting my next trip.

What destinations are still on your bucket list and why?

I have about a dozen places on my list at any given time--travel writing is basically a constant state of FOMO. But I'm trying to get to Malta next spring, and Romania is high on my list because my great-grandparents emigrated from there and I'd love to go see where our roots are. As soon as I cross one thing off the list, I add three more, and I still want to revisit most of the places I've already been to. It's a mess.

What is the craziest thing that’s happened to you while travelling? 

 My first language is American Sign Language, and whenever I run into Deaf people somewhere else in the world we always manage to find a way to communicate even if we don't have a common language. I've met Deaf people in the airport in Santiago, Chile, the national museum in Seoul, a bar in East London, a coffee shop in Jaffa. In Chile, I was able to talk to the group's interpreter in broken Spanish, and she translated into Chilean Sign Language. As soon as she explained to the group she was traveling with that I was a CODA--Child of Deaf Adults--people just started hugging me. We were all smiling and crying and taking photos together, even before we knew each other’s names. It must have looked so crazy to the other people in the terminal. Just a few decades ago, many Deaf people were institutionalized and didn't have the opportunity to leave their hometowns, let alone their countries. Their lives were contained, their movements restricted. The fact that so many of us have been able to meet and find each other is a gift. 

 

Lilit Marcus is a writer, reporter, and tea nerd who lives in Brooklyn, New York and tries to travel away from it as much as possible. Her first book, Save the Assistants: A Guide for Surviving and Thriving in the Workplace, was published by Hyperion. Her work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and more

Tour Diaries Part Three: Denver & Chicago

After a month to catch my breath, I was back on the road last week. My first stop was Denver, a place I’d never been and wish I could have stayed a bit longer. But at least I didn’t over pack: I took the Garanimals approach this time, which is why every outfit below is some version of black and white.

I started off at the venerable Tattered Cover for an event with local author Mona Awad. We had drinks beforehand with another writer from Mona’s PhD program, Emily Culliton, who just sold a book to Knopf—in hearing her talk about it, I realized I’d read the deal announcement in Publisher’s Lunch and thought “Oh! I can’t wait to read that one!” The writerly world keeps getting smaller in the most wonderful way.

Mona’s debut came out on the same day as mine. Her Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is a searing portrait of one woman’s struggle with body issues as she comes of age. It is utterly relatable to any woman who has wrestled with body image (so, any woman) and is by turns hilarious and heart-breaking. It was a delight to get to know Mona and we had a lively discussion onstage. There was a memorable moment during the Q & A where the smartly dressed middle-aged man who’d wandered over from the science section to join us a few minutes into the conversation asked us why men might want to read our books, as they seemed very much geared towards women. It was a cathartic moment: being asked (politely and earnestly) this question that seems so implicit for the female writer. I told him that—through no personal fault of his own—it’s often assumed that men won’t relate with women’s stories, but that women are taught from the beginning to empathize and relate with men’s stories. I told him that reading stories by and about women was a good way to understand the women he cared about (he had a wife, he told us, and daughters) and that this was the whole point of fiction really, beyond its value as entertainment, to build empathy. Mona also pointed out that there’s plenty in both books that is universal: friendship, coming of age, feeling uncomfortable in your skin (and of course body image is not simply a female issue, I point you to Isaac Fitzgerald’s excellent essay on Buzzfeed). We must have convinced him, he bought copies of both books.

Next up was Chicago for a trip to BEA with my colleagues and an event with the fabulous writing duo Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. We had dinner before our reading and though it was the first time I’d met them, I felt like we’d all known each other for years. The two have been best friends for over thirty years and, in addition to being co-authors of three delightful novels (The Year We Turned Forty is their latest), run a fantastic blog and are big supporters of their fellow authors.

We read at The Book Cellar, a gorgeous local indie that gives you free wine when you read there. Needless to say, I’ll be back any time they’ll have me.

Earlier in the day marketing guru and pal Penny Sansevieri had taught me how to use Facebook Live and Liz and Lisa made much use of this both that evening and the next day when we got to see our esteemed publisher, Judith Curr and blockbuster author Jennifer Weiner, who was on hand to promote her new children’s book, The Littlest Bigfoot.

I also got to spend some time with my PR squad from Booksparks, who have been the wind beneath my wings throughout these last few months.

 

 

Next Up: The Great Northwest Author Tour with Girl Friday Productions and McMenamins. I’m thrilled to be helping launch this new reading series which will take Jamie Ford (internationally bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost) and me to three different McMenamins properties. At each location, we’ll be doing a free evening event at 6pm, followed by a ticketed breakfast event the following morning at 9am—the latter includes breakfast and a signed copy of a book by each author. Hope to see you there!

Buy Tickets

Buy Tickets

Tour Diaries Part Two: L.A., Phoenix, Austin, and Portland

The last five weeks since my debut novel went on-sale have easily been the most fun—and the most exhausting—of my life.

Things that can be purchased from Target in an emergency...

Things that can be purchased from Target in an emergency...

“Damnit!” I said to my fiancé in a flurry of packing late the night before I was set to leave for California, “All of my summer clothes are in storage!” It was eight o’clock at night, I was on a flight the next morning to Redlands to visit my mentor and spend a few days with my folks in Palm Desert, then onto L.A., Phoenix, and Austin. It was fifty-five and raining in Seattle. “Do you want me to go pick something up for you?” (A good decision, marrying this one.)

“Nah, I’ll wing it.”  In the first two days I’d stocked up on shorts and tank tops and gotten an efficient mani-pedi from a strip mall salon.

Part of what I’ve loved about being on tour is that it makes it feel real, this massive change that has happened in my life. Walking the Redlands campus, it settled on me in a new way. Like so many authors, I’d always wanted to be a writer, but Redlands—under the loving guidance of the incredibly gifted Pat Geary--was where it went from being a dream to being a plan. I spoke to a group of fifteen advanced writing students about my journey from where they sat to where I was. They were so fresh-faced and hopeful; I looked at them thinking “Was I really that young when I was here?”

Next up was L.A;. a place I love for a few days, loathe if you try to keep me there longer.  I stayed at the uber-hip Standard, and the staff was sweet to me—which is the difference between hip places in L.A. and hip places in New York. 

By the pool with my friend Sabrina 

By the pool with my friend Sabrina 

Taylor Jenkins Reid and I met in person for the first time about an hour before we went on stage at Book Soup, but it felt like we’d known each other for years. If you haven’t been so lucky as to have met Ms. Reid, she is as charming and lovable as her heroines, and chatting with her was a delight. I pointed out during our talk that her novels often revolve around a pivotal moment in a character’s life that delineates everything into before and after: I asked if there’d been such a moment in her life and, tearing up, she said that in fact, there had. Meeting her husband Alex, also in attendance that night, had been her moment.

On stage at Book Soup with Taylor

On stage at Book Soup with Taylor

Caroline Kepnes also came to our event and she and I drank champagne back at the Standard late into the night, talking about writing and the strangeness of dealing with fans (mostly on her end). An hour or so in, she got up to go to the bathroom and as she was walking out announced to the bar “Everyone! This lady just published her debut novel!” As we ordered another round I thought about my early flight to Phoenix the next day. Screw it, I thought, I’ll sleep next week, next month, next year.

 

Caroline, me, and Taylor #teamAtria 

Caroline, me, and Taylor #teamAtria 

Next up was Phoenix where I got to meet a bunch of the lovely ladies from Spark Point Studios. Changing Hands, where I read with Beth Kendrick, is a marvel of a bookstore, with a bar right in the middle of it. This is a genius idea. If I ran the world, all the bookstores would have bars in them and vise-versa.

Beth Kendrick, writer of over a dozen smart, funny romantic novels, was a delight. There was much to love about the charming Kendrick, but one thing that struck me was how she owned her voice as a writer. “I discovered early,” she said (her first book was published when she was the ripe old age of twenty-two) “That I have a commercial voice. And I love it, I do what I want!”

With Beth Kendrick 

With Beth Kendrick 

A bar...IN a bookstore! 

A bar...IN a bookstore! 

Last in line was the only solo event on my tour. I stayed in Austin with an old friend from my New York days who lives there now. The day of my event, I went out for a run by the river. “It’s a loop,” she told me, "you can’t get lost.” She clearly did not who she was dealing with. I called her an hour later from a park about five miles off course after taking a nasty spill when my foot caught a tree root.

If an author falls in the forest...

If an author falls in the forest...

As I was preparing to go to the podium at Austin’s marvelous Book People, an old friend I hadn’t seen in years appeared at the top of the stairs. She’d surprised me by driving out from Houston—two and half hours or so—and seeing her was like a mirage. I managed to dry my eyes just in time to begin my talk. After being in such good company with Laurie, Jordan, Taylor, and Beth, I felt lonely up there. Besides which, meeting fellow authors has been the best part of this whole deal.

My friend who made the surprise visit is Mexican and she notably never drank the margaritas in Seattle, but in Austin, how could you not? We went out after Book People to do just that and talked about how life is short, how it goes by fast. A blink and years have passed. I countered that life was both long and short, too long to spend doing work that meant nothing to you, too long to be with a person who wasn’t the right person.

After a few days to recover (too few probably) I was off to Portland, which I always manage to convince myself is only two hours away from Seattle, despite the fact that it is always, always three. Here my Portland Girls Friday came out in full force, and it felt like a third hometown appearance after Seattle and New York.

With Amy and local Portland author Nicole Meier

With Amy and local Portland author Nicole Meier

Amy Hatvany, my fellow author for the event at Powell’s was warm, charming, and like a force of nature. Amy writes complex, issue-driven fiction and it was fascinating to learn about her process and her sociology background that drives it.

Next up: Tattered Cover in Denver with Mona Awad. Chicago for BEA and The Book Cellar with Liz and Lisa, and then later in May, The Great Northwest Author Tour. Details to come!  

 

Tour Diaries Part One: Seattle, New York, and San Francisco

The book tour is an old school promotional tool, and yet, for many an aspiring author (including myself) it’s an integral part of what we imagine as we spend our lives dreaming of the day we get a book published. For some authors, the idea of reading in front of an audience sounds like torture, and they can rejoice in the fact that we live in the digital age of book promotion where much of the hustle can be done behind a screen while wearing pajamas.

The tour is not for everyone but if you can pull it off with some airline miles, friends’ guest rooms, and maybe a little help from your publisher, it can be a blast. After all, digital media is essential, but nothing replaces face-to-face, and going to a bunch of different cities allows you to make connections with bookstores, bloggers, readers, and local media outlets you would never meet otherwise. And if you do like being in front of an audience, nothing feels more author-ly than the book tour.  

I chose my cities carefully: all places I could get at least a handful of friends to show up, with a solid independent bookstore (preferably those who’d let me bring wine). I came out with Seattle (where I live), New York, San Francisco, L.A., Phoenix, Austin, Portland, and Chicago. The first three cities are under my belt. Here’s how it went:

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Seattle

I celebrated my on-sale date at one of Seattle most storied independent bookstores, Elliott Bay Book Company. My friend, local Seattle author Laurie Frankel, agreed to present with me and we welcomed an eclectic mix of my friends, family, future in-laws, colleagues, and writer pals with champagne and French music.

I speak in front of crowds all the time for GFP, but there’s something infinitely more terrifying about reading one’s own work aloud. It’s there on the page and you can’t change course based on the audience’s reaction. You’re making public something that you worked on privately for years, and you feel suddenly and viscerally that it now belongs to readers as much as it belongs to you.

The only time I’d previously read from the book was last year when I read a sexy scene from Losing the Light at Babeland as part of Lit Crawl. An erotic poet named Larry, who had a silver ponytail halfway down his back and wore a sleeveless t-shirt that said “Fuck Yeah” in huge block letters, was our moderator. I learned that it’s impossible to feel nervous when you’re reading next to an entire wall of sex toys. I opened with this story and thankfully everyone laughed. I was off to a good start, considering I had just survived saying the word dildo in front of an audience that included both my parents and the lion’s share of my future in-laws.

New York

With Haley Weaver and Sarah Cantin from Atria 

With Haley Weaver and Sarah Cantin from Atria 

There was no place that loomed larger when imagining a book tour than New York. It was where I’d lived most of my twenties and started my career in publishing, but where success had eluded me as a writer.

I started my New York trip with a visit to my publisher, Judith Curr’s, class with my editor, Sarah Cantin, and my agent, Carly Watters. We discussed our various processes and how we work together as a team, I got to talk about my own career trajectory and how it landed me at the fabulous Girl Friday Productions, and meet with the students to sign some copies we’d brought for them. My favorite moment of the night was when one of the girls from the class told me she hoped it became a bestseller. I thanked her and said I was lucky to have an awesome team around me. “Yeah,” she said, “it seems like they’re not about any bullshit.” First, she’s right. Second, I want that on my tombstone.

With Duncan Quinn

With Duncan Quinn

Mom and Dad! 

Mom and Dad! 

For my New York event, we skipped the store and brought a bookseller into my friend Duncan’s store where drank many bottles of his signature rose (bottled in the South of France!). All of the darling ladies on my publishing team came out to celebrate with me, one of my best friends (and former New York roommate) made a surprise visit from Chicago, and my wonderful agent, Carly, was still in town from Toronto. Even my parents came out from Seattle! There were also some guests I’d never met before, author Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (who blurbed my book and has been extremely supportive) and tiny dynamo book blogger Natasha, also known as The Book Barista (you should all be following her, she will be running everything someday).

I traipsed all four corners of Manhattan (plus a stop in Brooklyn) to sign stock. My mom came with me on the second day which made it lots more fun. Later when I was chatting with a sales guy at Aldo about why I was in New York, she let him know where he could find a signed copy and reminded him to post a review on Amazon. It was a veritable Dunlop Roadshow.

With Xavier from the Tribeca B & N 

With Xavier from the Tribeca B & N 

 

San Francisco

After the high of my New York and Seattle events, I think the universe was like “Eh, this one’s getting a bit full of herself,” and decided to send the worst rainstorm ever to San Francisco. My day-of flight was rerouted through San Jose and by the time I made it to the Ferry Building I was drenched from the two block walk from the Bart Station. My co-presenter Jordan Reid got stuck in an apocalyptic traffic jam and finally made it to Book Passage about a half an hour into the talk (fortunately my friend Kate was moderating so I wasn’t solo). The crowd consisted of six people, two who were friends of mine and four who I had never seen in my life. This was a revelation. Four total strangers with no personal obligation had braved the rain to come see Jordan and me. I was glad we had wine for them. The event was a little more intimate than planned but still oh so much fun, and the folks at Book Passage were wonderful.

With Kate Chynoweth and Jordan Reid 

With Kate Chynoweth and Jordan Reid 




What if you found the courage to put aside your fashionable cynicism? What if you decided that actually, things can change for the better instead of staying the same, or becoming more of whatever they are? What if in that vulnerable moment of proclaiming some audacious goal, you said yes, actually I am going to do this thing, I don’t care how long it takes, I’ll be here until it’s done. What could ever stop you then? It’s so much easier to say no, I can’t. You can’t. We can’t. Why bother? Let’s stay here on the couch. It’s cold out, and it’s raining besides. But we could you know. We can, actually. And you know what? Let’s. #themondaymuse 

Who is the Monday Muse? She’s that best friend you count on to kick your ass hard, but believe in you twice as hard. She’s here to wake you up early, but she brings the good coffee. She’s wearing her steel toed boots because she knows that inspiration is worthless if it doesn’t come with hard work. She doesn’t care if you’ve got an advanced degree or any degree at all, she doesn’t care if you’re published or prize-winning, beloved or bestselling. She cares about where you’re going, about putting one foot in front of the other, and she’s gonna keep that wild flame burning to light your way. She’ not here for the excuses and she’s definitely not here for the haters. She’s no airy-fairy, she’s the avenging goddess of butt in chair, show up on time, sleeves rolled up, fall down get back up. She’s the high priestess of the unstoppable, unshakeable, un-shout-downable. She’s here for all of that. And friend, if you’re here for that, she’s here for you. #themondaymuse