Friday, February 25, 2011


A wonderful week!  It was my birthday on Wednesday and it has been a perfect week of dearest friends and pink cupcakes and silver sprinkles and birthday cards and blown kisses and sprawling books and floaty dresses and rainy day movies and spring tulips and silver rings and my family's handwriting--I love the light thump on the doorstep when an envelope bearing my mother's writing arrives in mid-winter.

I love my family's alphabets.  My father has extraordinarily beautiful writing; dark and slanted and elegantly scripted.  He has the sloped fountain pen writing I think Rebecca would have had.  My mother has the swooped and dashed and hurriedly looped, felt tip writing of a mom in a hurry.  My sister has the careful, precise writing of a lefty and my brother has the angular writing of someone who's thoughts move faster than the pen.  Doesn't seeing the writing of people you love make you miss them more and less at the same time?  That happens to me.  It is an indelible hug.

Also this week, the season shifted.  Just for a moment, it may not last, but just for today, it is spring.  And in other lovely news, Misha from the marvellous blog, My Love Affair with Books wrote a wonderful review!  A lovely week.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Amazon included Exit the Actress in its 'Featured in Fiction and Literature' section.  Or at least it did in the email it sent to me.  I know Amazon can personalize everything in a sort of friendly yet Orwellian Big Brother way.  It seems to know what I might like to read like a neighborhood librarian who has been checking up on me.  Still, I was very pleased to see Nell at number 18!

And I just checked up on the audio books and I found Nell there on the first pages of the new releases!  She had her audio book cover on so it took me a minute to spot her...

On other fronts I have been reading wonderful books.  I re read Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks recently.  Harrowing and haunting but so beautiful.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Forgotten Words

So, I write in books.  It is a habit with me.  I write in them constantly.  I write down words, colours, flirts of language, movement, shift and light.

I am reading one of Sally Beauman's huge, gothic, ensorcelling novels right now (my birthday present to myself) and inside the back cover I have written phrases like 'finch green' and 'hummingbird's cup' and 'drift of wrinkles'.  I do not remember writing them.

Yesterday, I found one of the research books I used for Nell.  It was a book I had left here and had not taken back to Hawaii to use while I was writing.   On the back page, amongst movie times and notes to call Virgin Atlantic, and to not forget Charlotte's birthday, I found more fragments of light and language.  I had forgotten they were there.  I had forgotten I ever wrote them.

But I recognized these phrases.   I opened Exit the Actress and there they were.  I love that these shreds of text survived my leaving them behind and forgetting them.  They bided their time and then turned up on an island in the Pacific ocean while I was writing Nell; like gatecrashers at a birthday party...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


It has been a good month.  People have just been unendingly wonderful.  I am delighted.  Nell is delighted.  Now Nell is out there, I have a confession.  The putting forward aspect does not come naturally.  Publicity is just not my strong suit.  I wrote and erased and wrote and erased the Facebook post announcing my New York reading at least seventeen times.  And then, after erasing for the seventeenth time, I went and had hot chocolate instead and did not post it at all as the reading started twenty minutes later.

Publicity does not come easily to me but I know it is essential.  It is the difference between Nell getting lost standing up in the "P" section (which is always on the bottom shelf--I checked) at Barnes and Noble or being on the lovely, spacious, visible front table where she can sparkle and flirt and then lie flat, stretch out  and have a snooze.

I have known since I signed my publishing contract that the publicity part would be tough.  I could not see how to do it?  And then, wonderful friends stepped in to help!  They make it easier, happier, better, simpler, shinier, smoother, and much funner.  I love the word 'funner'.  Nell has a wonderful huge extended family now and she is thrilled!  How did everyone help?

Sharon Kay Penman has been unimaginably kind and put up a wonderful interview with Nell and me.  One of my best friends from high school gave me Sharon's The Sunne in Splendour on a Wednesday afternoon and I fell in love with historical fiction.  Splat, right there in the tenth grade.

And Lisa at Bibliophiliac posted a wonderful review and also invited Nell and me for an interview!  Her questions were insightful and rich and it was such fun!

Look what Stella did at her marvellous website Ex Libris!  Not only did Stella write a gorgeous post about Nell and the plum bean, but she also went and researched Java Kai (my favorite coffee shop in Hawaii) and included the Java Kai logo in her post.  I was so touched.  And homesick!  Stella is reading the book now and planning an interview for later in the month.  She is such an incisive, avid reader and beautiful writer and I am delighted!

Rick at Goodreads has started an Exit the Actress thread in his amazing, enormous, wonderful book group.  He has become a Nell champion and it makes me so happy.  And, he and nineteen other generous, gracious people went on Goodreads and Amazon and wrote fantastic reviews!  The reviews help so much and I read each one out loud to my poor parents.

June, from Writing is a Blessing came to the reading and asked terrific questions!  Friends are helping everywhere.  It is like a fantastic team effort.  My closest friend from high school, a wonderful writer, (who is the one who gave me The Sunne in Splendour) knew I was terrified in my reading and sat right in my eye line and peppered me with wonderful, perfect questions at my reading; taking away all my knee knocking nerves.

Friends have popped by the Exit the Actress page on Facebook and left lovely notes...  My family tell  everyone they meet about Nell.  Noah cheers her on and has given her to his friends.  My friend Jack ordered one for him and one for his mom.  It has been a good month.

Friday, February 11, 2011

This Week

I have been writing plum beans in my head all week.  It has been a marvellous, magical, swirled with honey week.  I did my first reading in Washington DC.  My parents were there.  My sister's best friend since they were two was there.  My sister's best friend since they were two's mom was there.  The preschool teacher who taught them when they were two was there.  My favorite history teacher from high school was there.  And people I did not know were there!

I was nervous.  My knees knocked.  My heart bumped.  The room tilted and off we went.  People asked wonderful questions.  Smart, thoughtful, insightful questions.  My mother cried and tried to pretend it was hay fever in February.  My brother and sister's preschool teacher took photos.  There were posters!  In the window; in the store!  We got to keep two of them and Barnes and Noble asked me to sign the rest for them.  "Really?"  I asked.  I have to stop doing that.
That is the reflection of my mom taking the photo...

Noah was first in line!

And then it was off to New York.  We walked in the door of Borders at 57th and Park and saw:

Right inside the door!

And my knees knocked and my heart bumped and the room tilted and off we went.  The two lovely men who organized the event came and found me and showed me how the microphone worked and were so utterly lovely.   They had read it, as had the store manager and they all said wonderful things.  I was so touched that in a building full of books they had read mine.

And people came.  Lots of people.  Old friends, blog friends, new friends, writer friends, sixth grade friends, friends of friends, Vday friends, and people I had never met before.  My brother and his fiancee sat in the second row and my mom and my sister sat in the first.  I took my glasses off so everyone was fuzzy.  I read and everyone asked questions and it was fun.  I had expected terror and got fun instead.  How wonderful.

Signing books!

And then, one of my favorite authors, Sharon Kay Penman, put up the kind, generous, thoughtful interview she did with me... more about that tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Dear Nell,
You're off to great places.
Today is your day,
Your mountain is waiting,
So get on you're way!
Dr. Seuss

Today!  Today!  Today!  

Exit the Actress is in bookstores TODAY!