Wednesday, March 6, 2013

No, thank you.

The thank you notes from book clubs are wonderful, of course, but nowhere near as fun as the thank you notes from high school students. Yesterday a packet of thank yous from Kerri Schuster's writing class at Sacred Heart High School arrived -- filled with beautiful handwriting, carefully constructed ideas, and lovely admonitions such as "Stay Excellent." Words to write by.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The road less traveled by.

When my family decided to bury my mother's ashes in her hometown in Illinois, I didn't want to go. It was my hometown too, and I had already buried something else there: my past. My wayward, meandering, I-don't-want-anyone-to-know-this-about-me past. Stressful events in faraway places hold an additional stress for me -- flying, and the potential for turbulence, which leads to full-blown panic attacks that can last as long as the turbulence. A good friend who worked at Amtrak suggested I might enjoy a train trip to Chicago. That trip was a revelation: not only for the sunsets and the views and the sense that I was seeing the backyards of a million people--their flapping laundry, their fertile fig trees, their pets contained by frayed rope--but the people I met. Their amazing stories of what they were running from and to. And I had my story, too: the novelist who is going to her mother's funeral. This story in the New York Times paints a vivid picture about what it's like to travel by train. From a people perspective, nothing beats it. Nothing.

Friday, March 1, 2013


It's the year of the anxiety disorder! After I wrote STANDING STILL, about a woman with panic disorder who fights back against her daughter's kidnapper, so many people confessed to me that they had the problem, too. Many of them were men. This article highlights anxiety's coming out party.