Shanghai, Here We Are!

Yesterday, after way too many hours in an airplane, we made it to SHANGHAI!!!!!! So happy to be back.

Our journey to our new son has begun. Spending a week in Shanghai, getting over jet lag, revisiting old haunts, touring around with Tully to all the places she frequented as a little kiddo, reconnecting with our China roots (and doing a bit of research for the new novel…).

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Baggage claim in Shanghai!

 

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View of the Huangpu River from the hotel. Lovely.

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I so missed the attention to umbrella care!

First glimpse of the Oriental Pearl Tower!

First glimpse of the Oriental Pearl Tower!

Our Last Sunday Breakfast as a Family of Three!

Today, Andrew cooked up our last big Sunday breakfast without our new son. (You can see his high chair is all set up & ready next to Tully.) Next weekend we travel to China for the adoption. We’ll be home in a few weeks to cook a Sunday breakfast for four! We can’t wait! Not even sure how I’ll survive the anticipation this week…

Last Sunday Breakfast as a Family of Three

Our Family Is Growing!

So, dear readers & friends, surprise!

I’ve got some big, happy news to share! Our family is growing! In just two short weeks, my husband Andrew, daughter Tully, and I are heading to China to adopt this darling boy (see ooshy-mooshy sweetness below). We’ve been in process for an excruciatingly long while so it feels really wonderful to share this news out loud. La la la la! Tully is beyond excited to become a big sister, and we can’t wait to hold this little guy in our arms and hearts.


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Did I say “two short weeks”?! Ahhhh, so much to do! Huzzah!

We’ll be in Shanghai, our old stomping ground, from July 6-11, before continuing north on our adoption journey. Looking forward to seeing old friends, eating great food, and showing Tully all the places we used to frequent when we lived in China.

Stay tuned!

Next Week’s Newburyport Literary Festival!

9780425271483_large_The Art of Floating_HIGH RESAttention, lovely people who will attend next weekend’s Newburyport Literary Festival! At 9:00a.m. on Saturday, April 25 (I know, I know…just bring your coffee), Holly Robinson, Lorrie Thomson, and I will be sharing tales and tidbits about the raw, risky business of writing fiction. Do not miss this! It is a perfect opportunity to chuckle, guffaw, weep, nod your head with understanding, and support your local writers!

Details:

Fiction | Saturday, April 25, 9:00 AM
Unitarian Universalist Church | Newburyport, MA
Getting Real: The Raw, Risky Business of Writing Fiction

Presenters: Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, Holly Robinson, Lorrie Thomson

In writing, the “what ifs” are endless. What if we never publish? What if our books never find readers? What if our day jobs consume our creative energy? What if we get censored, criticized, remaindered? One of the best things about writing fiction is getting real, and raw. Yet sharing our thoughts and emotions while writing requires risk, and risk is a close cousin to fear. How do we face down that fear when committing words to the page? How can we use fear to our advantage? Each author on this panel has taken risks in real life (including facing bears and avalanches!) and in her novels. They’ll share their personal writing journeys as well as strategies to help all writers become more fearless in the face of uncertainty.

 

See you there!

Great Fun at the Emma Andrews Library in Newburyport

Last night, at the Emma Andrews Library in Newburyport, author Holly Robinson and I talked about our most recent novels (Hers: BEACH PLUM ISLAND. Mine: THE ART OF FLOATING) and the ins-and-outs of place/setting in fiction. Great crowd, great discussion, great venue (speaking of place!), and, yes, great cookies!

A big thanks to Priscilla and the Emma Andrews Library team for putting together such a spectacular event! And thanks to all who came, listened, asked good questions, and bought books!

Cheers!

Reading at Emma Andrews Library

Book Club Visit in Boise, Idaho!

A big thanks to this spectacular book club in Boise, Idaho! I Skyped in for a wonderful discussion about The Art of Floating. Nothing like a glass of wine and good book talk. (It was my first book club visit in Boise, Idaho!)

Book Club in Boise, Idaho

Book Club in Boise, Idaho

Happy 2015, Year of “No Mud, No Lotus”

“No mud, no lotus”

This is my mantra as I write this new novel, continue sharing THE ART OF FLOATING, and shift into 2015.

The necklace is a Christmas gift from my hubs. The wisdom on writing (& life) comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk I’ve been following for years.

Happy New Year, all!

No Mud No Lotus

Writing the New Novel

This morning while working on the new novel I remembered a music class I took in college. Part of our final exam was to keep 6 beats going at the same time using different parts of our body, for example, whole note beat with right foot / half note beat with left foot / quarter note with right hand / eighth note with left hand, etc.

6 beats at the same time. For an entire minute.

It was f’in hard, but weirdly centering, too. I remember sitting outside the student union on the stone bridge in Bloomington, Indiana, practicing and practicing.

Left hand, right hand, left foot, right foot, head, mouth. Keep it all going. At the same time.

I was studying poetry then with Lynda Hull and Yusef Komunyakaa so all this rhythm and all these beats blended with the poetry I was writing and reading and made this crazy kind of sense. Eventually. After many hours. After many days.

And I realized this morning that writing this novel, which takes place in Shanghai and is pulling me places I didn’t know I was going to go and is demanding multiple rhythms and beats…maybe even more than 6, is so much like that experience. I’m out there again, on the stone bridge outside the student union in my beloved Bloomington, with my eyes closed and one hand tapping 8th notes and my head nodding 16th notes and my mouth creating some syncopated rhythm that sounds crazy right now but will, fingers crossed, eventually make sense and be beautiful and express this blossoming story.

And then I’m so grateful for those class dinners at Lynda Hull’s house when she slowly pulled me out of my insane shyness and helped me believe in me. And that day when I heard of her death, which shattered me. Still shatters me. One of those voices I can still hear—will always hear—when I close my eyes.

So on I go with this novel. Informed by all this.

Tap, tap, tap. Tappity, tap-tap.

Tap.

2 More Wonderful Visits with Book Clubs!

Crazy busy, wonderful week for me and THE ART OF FLOATING! Three book club visits and today, a reading at Booklovers’ Gourmet in Webster, MA. I’m a bit hoarse from all the talking, but happy, happy that so many wonderful readers want to talk about Sia and Toad and floating and sorrow and things lost/found and love. And oh, yes, plovers!

A big thanks to the book clubs who hosted me this week! Y’all made me laugh and think. Great combo.

Friday night Book Club

Friday night Book Club

Tuesday night book club!

Tuesday night book club!

Sunday night book club!

Sunday night book club!

 

 

 

 

Another Marvelous Book Club Discussion About THE ART OF FLOATING

Earlier this week, I had a terrific discussion about THE ART OF FLOATING with another marvelous book club! The host, Maria, put together a delicious spread (beach themed, of course)! And offered a perfect wine for the occasion (Plum Island wine, to honor the setting of THE ART OF FLOATING).

Since most of the book clubs I’ve met with have been made up of women, it was fun and informative to have a couple of men in this conversation. All in the book club were smart, thoughtful readers with great senses of humor. Thanks for hosting me!

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