Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Setting Out: The First Day of School

Reflection, Post Learning Commons

Every August, the dread creeps in.  I fret over summer's end--the impending loss of my freedom and precious writing time.  But something strange always happens on the first day of school.  I remember all over again why I wanted to be a college professor in the first place.

The reasons are visceral: 

 
Walking across campus  under a brilliant August sky, a bag of books swinging from my shoulder.  Students hurrying between classes or lingering on the library steps.

Strolling through hushed hallways, past classes already in session.  


Faculty offices with their floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.  Old books that smell of vanilla and must.  New books with deliciously uncracked spines.

Freshly sharpened pencils, brand new Sharpies, and that rapidly vanishing entity, chalk dust.
 
Look what I found on the third floor of Bellarmine Hall!

The hopeful nervousness of freshmen waiting for their first college class to begin.  

Starting over.  Setting out.  


St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, beginning his pilgrimage
Moving away from home for the first time, and pondering what to hang on those bare cinderblock walls to illustrate the story of yourself. 

My son Noah sets out on his own journey

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How Hence Got His Name


Yesterday was launch day for Catherine in paperback and I went out on a little safari, hunting her in the wild.

Images lifted from http://chutti.pk/Travel-Offers-and-Packages/Promotions/Kenya-Safari-5-star-Package.html
I stumbled across her in her natural habitat, the Barnes and Noble in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and fell in love with her new look.  Though I already knew I would love the cover redesign, I wasn't prepared for how beautifully the cover image would glow against the dark shelves.

Now, in honor of Catherine's paperback launch, the wonderful Alexis and Ashley at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book are running a little essay I wrote about how Hence got his somewhat unusual name.

Want a copy of your own?  It's not too late to enter this drawing...or this one.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happy Catherine-in-Paperback's Birthday!


Today Catherine appears in her new, glorious paperback form in a bookstore near you!  So I'm revisiting the Catherine playlist and turning the music up loud!


Just one of my musical inspirations
By the way, it's not too late to win your very own copy.  Enter this giveaway.  

Or this one.

And it's never too late (or too early) for this:





Monday, August 18, 2014

In a First State State of Mind


Thought it pains me deeply to write the next six words: SUMMER IS DRAWING TO A CLOSE.

With the start of the school year less than a week away, I'm tempted to kick myself for all the things I didn't do this summer.  I wrote a little of this and a little of that instead of completing anything major.  I didn't travel anyplace exotic or distant.  But instead of beating myself up, I'm going to celebrate one thing I actually did: take a lovely day trip to the Delaware shore to do a signing at one of my very favorite indie bookstores, Bethany Beach Books.  

After a long walk on Bethany Beach, Andre and I met some lovely people and I signed some books in the fresh sea air.

With Courtney, from Bethany Beach Books

Afterward we drove to Rehoboth Beach to revisit one of our favorite restaurants in the whole world, The Pig + Fish Restaurant Company.  We even paused for a snapshot with Chipper, our favorite server anyplace, ever.  


Chipper waited on us quite a few years ago the first time we ate at Pig + Fish, and all these years we've remembered how much fun he was, and how he made a memorable meal even more awesome.  It was good to see him again.


The next day, on our way back to Philly, our trip morphed into an official Tour of Delaware River Towns that Start with Mil.  First we wandered around sleepy but adorable Milford, dropped into a few of its art galleries, and shopped in its charming Farmer's Market:



Next we took a jaunt to Milton and strolled through its pretty riverside park, inadvertantly annoying the local geese:



Finally, we swung past funky Dogfish Head Brewery:

A steampunk treehouse purchased at Burning Man
On the Dogfish Head premises, this nifty lunchbox-shaped food truck offers some of the most delicious food we'd had since...well, since Pig + Fish!





Friday, August 15, 2014

Back-to-School YA Giveaway Bonanza


Can't get enough of YA fiction?  Enter here to win eight novels in a brand new Back-to-School giveaway.  And click here to learn more about each book.

I'm thrilled that the new paperback edition of Catherine is included.

Nico hearts Catherine...though not as much as he hearts red pepper.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

NYC Moments--and a CATHERINE Giveaway

View from the Highline, an elevated park in Chelsea
In celebration of the soon-to-be-released paperback edition of Catherine, my publisher Poppy is giving away twenty copies.  Enter here to win! 

Today I'm doing a little celebrating myself--of New York, the city that inspired Catherine.  But instead of paying homage to big iconic sights, like the Empire State Building, I would like to share a few smaller NYC moments, for instance this chandelier at the Angelika Film Center, one of the world's best places to see an indie film:


And this still life glimpsed at Peasant, a homey and delicious Italian restaurant on Elizabeth Street:


And this still life, at the Union Square Greenmarket:



Also glimpsed on Elizabeth Street: little girl plus even littler doorway equals an Alice-in-Wonderland Moment.  



And this pause between phrases: keyboardist/vocalist/guitarist Michelle Casillas, at Bowery Electric.  (Bowery Electric was my model for The Underground, the legendary Lower East Side nightclub where Catherine is set.)


The new edition of Catherine comes out on August 19.  Look for it on the shelves of a bookstore near you!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Comings and Goings: Blogger's guilt


I've been suffering blogger's guilt lately--the nagging feeling that I've fallen way behind on posting here.  I've been doing some traveling and hosting out of town guests, and the time and headspace I need to write and blog have been hard to come by. 

I won't even mention the writer's guilt that comes from two prime summer weeks spent not writing.


My mom comes for a visit
Bloggers--do you suffer guilt when you fall behind in posting? Writers--how do you strike the necessary balance between creation and recreation?