Kicking Off the “Penguin Bookshop Writer Series” in Sewickley, PA

2015 Penguin Bookshop Author SeriesThe Penguin Bookshop is excited to launch the Penguin Bookshop Writers Series with author Kristin Bair O’Keeffe and her writer’s workshop “Writerhead“!

This event will be free and open to the public.  Registration, however, is suggested as space will be limited.  Please call the Penguin Bookshop to reserve your spot now!


As defined by Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, writerhead is the “state of dreamy concentration during which a writer is most creative, productive, and artistic.” You know, the state of mind writers are in when they’re caught up in those beautiful (sometimes excruciating) sh, sh, sh, sssssshhhhh, I’ve-got-to-get-this-down-on-the-page moments. Also known as “the zone” or “the groove.” In this workshop, Kristin plumbs the mysteries of writerhead, engages writers in a deep (and often hilarious) exploration of their own writerheads, and coaches writers on how to school the non-writers (philistines!) in their lives about this delicious state of writerly nirvana.

Getting Real & Talking Risk at the “Newburyport Literary Festival”

9780425271483_large_The Art of Floating_HIGH RESLovely readers! Don’t miss my event at this year’s Newburyport Literary Festival: “Getting Real:  The Raw, Risky Business of Writing Fiction.” Grab a coffee and settle in!

When: Saturday, April 25, at 9:00 a.m.

Where: Unitarian Universalist Church (26 Pleasant Street, Newburyport, MA)

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

And so much more at the Newburyport Lit Fest!

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.


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!

Maria Dankens Book Club_5

Maria Dankens Book Club_3

Maria Dankens Book Club_2

Authors Fair at Haverhill (Massachusetts) Public Library: Sat, August 16, 1-3pm: I’ll Be There

Near Haverhill, Massachusetts? If so, come on out this coming Saturday, August 16, from 1:00-3:00 for the Authors Fair! I’ll be there with THE ART OF FLOATING, along with many wonderful authors. Great fun ahead!

FLOATING in the Haverhill Library



Awesome Readers, A Boxer, and Sold Out at B&N in Salem, NH

Yesterday I did a “meet & greet” at Barnes & Noble in Salem, NH. The setup?

Me. A small table with a lot of copies of THE ART OF FLOATING at the entrance to the store. Goal? Talk to folks & sell those books!

And so…

At 2:00 pm, this:

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At 3:45 pm, this:

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Huzzah! So much fun there. Awesome customers/readers, great staff and managers, and so many wonderful books! Big thanks to all!



Gorgeous Review of THE ART OF FLOATING at New Hampshire Writers’ Network

Bubble_Morgue File FreeI loved giving away two audio editions of THE ART OF FLOATING last week! Lots of fun! Thanks to all for playing!

Last weekend, over at the blog for the New Hampshire Writers’ Network, Jamie Wallace wrote a shining review of THE ART OF FLOATING that has my heart singing. Here she is, talking about FLOATING. (There’s lots more…just click here to read the entire review.)

“It has been a while since a book swept me off my feet.I had forgotten what it feels like to get so lost in a book that time slips away and chores go undone. It’s a lovely feeling. Secret. Intimate. Delicious. The temptation and the anticipation. The savoring and the rationing – how many chapters left? How many pages? I can’t wait to read the next bit, but I don’t want the affair to be over.

“I bought the book on Sunday afternoon and our whirlwind tryst was over by Tuesday night. Four hundred some odd pages devoured in a matter of hours. The story drunk down in stolen sips and unabashed gulps, leaving me intoxicated. For the two weekdays that I was entangled in the book, it was difficult to concentrate on any task – domestic or professional. I sat at the desk in my home office, feigning focus on the screen but really just counting down the minutes until I could find an excuse to sidle up to the dining room table – only a few feet away – and read just one, quick chapter. . . .”