Monday, April 27, 2009

My weekend in Newburyport

It's going to be impossible for me to blog about my weekend at the Newburyport Literary Festival without exposing the terrible truth about how star struck I am over meeting my literary heroes. So to hell with it--I'm not even going to try to play it cool. Consider this a warning: If you have a low tolerance for gushing, you may as well stop reading right now. This is going to get treacly.

Honestly, the whole weekend was like catnip for me. First of all, I got to hang out with one of my best friends and favorite writers, Myfanwy Collins. I spent a good amount of time with her, her husband and baby, which was a rare and wonderful treat. I love them to pieces. The one sad thing thing about the weekend was saying good-bye because I don't know when I'll see them again.

The weekend kicked off with an opening ceremony on Friday, followed by a Meet the Authors dinner. My guest at that event was author Michael Palmer, who's as kind and generous as he is talented. He's a treasure ... and sometimes I can't believe I'm friends with someone who got a blurb from President Bill Clinton on one of his books. (Me: "Too bad you couldn't you get a quote from someone important.")

I was excited to see another very talented friend at the dinner, Liz Willard. I've known Liz online for years, and was so thrilled to meet her in person. She's a doll ... just as I knew she'd be. Also, Liz wrote a terrific book and has great representation, so I suspect she'll have a publishing deal very soon. Good luck, Liz!

The author I most wanted to meet over the weekend was Elinor Lipman. She was at the dinner Friday and I was stalling, waiting for the perfect moment to approach her. Finally, Michael Palmer dragged me over there. There was no reason for me to have hesitated. She's warm and charming and open and friendly. What a treat to meet her! Of course, I grabbed a photo op ...

It was a great party, and I have to admit that one of my favorite moments was when someone asked me if I was Anita Shreve. Ha!

On Saturday morning, I did a book panel with DeLauné Michel, author of THE SAFETY OF SECRETS, which I read and loved. She's smart, talented and outgoing (not to mention beautiful!) and I think the two of us kept the talk pretty lively. A special shout-out to Leslie Hendrickson for doing such a great job moderating. Here are some snapshots from the book signing that followed the talk:

I was thrilled that my friend Meg from CafeMom came to the event. What a sweetheart! It meant so much to me that she was there.

I attended several intriguing book events on Saturday afternoon, got to hang out with Myf and the gang some more, and then went to a party at home of Andre Dubus III. I won't gush about his brilliance because you're already well aware of that, but I will tell you that he is also warm and kind and one other thing no one ever mentions because it seems too shallow a thing to say about a literay god but I'm going to say it anyway: he is drop dead gorgeous. No pics, alas.

I did finally get to meet the real Anita Shreve face-to-face at the party, and she's just lovely and down-to-earth. The party was loud and so it was hard to have a conversation, but I got to chat with her again the next morning at breakfast, as we stayed at the same charming B&B, The Essex Street Inn, which is much prettier than it looks in this photo I snapped.

Other authors I got to meet and chat with over the weekend include Eric Kraft, Ann Easter Smith, Judith Moffatt, Kate Braestrup and Julia Alvarez. I also want to give props to the people who planned and ran this extraordinary festival, Vicki Hendrickson and Jennifer Entwistle. I can't even comprehend what it takes to pull off an event of this magnitude. Talk about a labor of love!

Finally, passionate kisses to the town of Newburyport itself. What a place! I fell headfirst in love with this charming, beautiful, cultured community. It's my version of heaven.

Thanks for reading this far and tolerating such a sloppy valentine. One day I'll learn to be a proper blogger and post snarky, disparaging comments about people. Or maybe not ...


Monday, April 20, 2009


By Lis Wiehl and April Henry

It's been a while since I've blogged for the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, and I'm happy to get back into the swing with this one. Our own April Henry, a popular and critically-acclaimed mystery writer, teamed up with Fox New commentator and legal analyst Lis Wiehl to deliver what Publishers Weekly calls "a sizzling political thriller."

Here's the summary from the press release:

When 17-year-old Senate page Katie Converse goes missing on her Christmas break near her parents' white Victorian home in Portland, Ore., law enforcement and the media go into overdrive in a search for clues. Three friends at the pinnacle of their respective careers--Allison Pierce, a federal prosecutor; Cassidy Shaw, a crime reporter; and Nicole Hedges, an FBI special agent--soon discover that Katie wasn't the picture of innocence painted by her parents. Did Katie run away to escape their stifling demands? Was she having an affair with the senator who sponsored her as a page? Has she been kidnapped? Is she the victim of a serial killer?

April agreed to answer my interview questions, so here goes ...

Do you have a favorite character in FACE OF BETRAYAL? If so, why?
I like Cassidy because she is kind of venial and vain, but honest. She speaks before she thinks. She’s a bit outrageous and is always getting into trouble, so it’s fun to think of what she might be up to.

Is there a story behind the title?
We could not come up with a title we liked. It was bought as The DC Page, but we knew it might not stick. The publisher came up with a bunch of possibilities, but nothing that really grabbed us. Along the way, we were working on our second book, and it was clear it would be called Hand of Fate. The publisher decided to go for a similar type of title, and came up with Face of Betrayal.

What has it been like working with Lis Wiehl?
Lis and I go together like peanut butter and jelly. I've got experience writing mysteries and she's got experience prosecuting and reporting on the bad guys. We email each other nearly every day. Watching this book take off has been a wonderful experience for both of us!

FACE OF BETRAYAL has such a great, chilling cover. Did you have any input on on that, and are you happy with the finished product?
We had cover consultation, but luckily I liked the face of the girl on the cover right away. Let me just say, that has not been true with all my books.

Do you pay attention to book reviews? If so, has there been any particular review that made your heart do a little dance?
The Publishers Weekly review can make or break a book, so I waited with trepidation. The review was nothing but praise! They called it a “sizzling political thriller” with a “seamless plot offers a plethora of twists and turns.”

Fantastic! No wonder it's flying off the shelves!

I know you're a big reader. What are you reading now?
Michael Marshall ‘s Bad Things which will come out in May. He’s an English author who reminds me a bit of Steven King in how he mixes mystery and horror.

Thanks so much for answering my questions, April.

You can buy FACE OF BETRAYAL at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To purchase online, visit,, or any cyber bookseller. For information, visit April's website at

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Update

• Pretty kid-centered week here, as our schools are closed for spring break. But (sniff sniff) I'm down one son as Ethan was whisked away to the Bahamas with a friend's family. I've been getting cellphone pics emailed to me regularly, but the hole in my heart won't close until he's back home.

• This week, as I'm in a holding pattern waiting to hear back from my editor on my revisions, I'm working on my next novel ... or trying to. I have a long way to go before I nail the story. The other day I tried writing the first page of chapter one just to see if I could find the voice. I thought I was onto something but then read it back and realized it sucked. So today I gave it another shot. Dare I think I might have actually scored? Stay tuned to see if I still feel that way in two weeks.

• Just finished reading THE SAFETY OF SECRETS by DeLauné Michel. Wonderful, engaging, surprising book. Great book club read, I think.

• Two out of the three kids had their annual physicals this week and all is well. At 5'11" Max is in the 75th percentile in height. At 4'7" Emma is in the 15th percentile. Quite the spread.

• If I have time next week, I'll blog about why I think my writer friends are getting carried away with this whole Amazon fail issue. There IS no conspiracy of censorship, and people are reading the facts the wrong way. It'll take quite a few paragraphs to explain, so I'll try to carve out some time for it.

• Last night I took the kids and a friend to Adventureland (the amusement park, not the movie) for a night of fun to benefit Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism. A little cold for me, but the children had a blast.

• Department of Bitter Pill to Swallow: I was in the car with the kids listening to Q104.3 when Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls came on. I had to break it to my daughter, who is built exactly like me, that the song was definitely not written about us. Harsh reality ... we don't make the rockin' world go round.

• On Monday I had a lot of fun doing a live podcast at See blog entry below for details.

• No update next Friday as I'll be driving up to Newburyport for the literary festival. If you're in New England, I hope you'll come by. Click here for more info.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Podcast interview ... listen anytime

This morning I was interviewed live online by the good folks at It's in the archives now, so you can listen anytime.

Here's a link:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Update

• This week I mostly cooked, cleaned and shopped in anticipation of my Passover Seder, which was a smashing success. I work hard for these things, but don't get particularly anxious. Only issue this year was that my dishwasher up and died just days before. Fortunately, we were able to buy a new one and get it installed about 24 hours before the Seder. So ... real china instead of paper. Made the brisket taste that much better.

• While I wait to hear back from my editor on the revised manuscript I turned in last week, I'm trying to work out a plot for my next book. I'm excited about the characters and their relationship, and even have a hook. What I'm still lacking is a story. It's starting to come together, but in bits and pieces. Ironically, the book I just turned in is done, but has no title. This new one doesn't even have a first chapter, but has what I think is a great name: The Cousins' Club. Don't steal it, please.

• Last Sunday, I took Ethan (14) and Emma (11) into Manhattan to have brunch with my cyber friend Lisa McMann, a YA author they both adore. Lisa is from Arizona but was sent on a big tour because her books, WAKE and FADE are huge bestsellers. It was great to meet her in person. She was just as funny, charming and down-to-earth as I knew she'd be. Here we are in front of Pete's Tavern, which has the distinction of being not only being the place O.Henry was reputed to have written Gift of the Magi, but of offering the most reasonably-priced brunch in NYC.

• On Monday I'm doing a podcast over at More info on that soon.

• The kids are off from school the coming week, but Ethan (in photo) is going to the Bahamas with a friend's family.

• Getting excited about my trip to Newburyport. See below for more info.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Newburyport Literary Festival, April 24-25

A couple of years ago when my friend Myf told me she went to the literary festival in Newburyport, Massachusetts, I was wracked with envy because Richard Russo was there. Most writers look to other authors as their rock stars, but to me Richard Russo is The Beatles, Mick Jagger and Harry Nilsson all rolled into one. (Yes, I was a huge Harry Nilsson fan.)

So imagine how thrilled I am that this year I'm appearing at the festival. Richard Russo won't be there, but other idols will. I'm not going to tell you who I'm all starry-eyed over as I plan to play it very cool when I meet and greet, but check out the list of novelists and draw your own conclusions:
Julia Alvarez
Elizabeth Barrett
Brunonia Barry
Richard Bausch
Louis Bayard
Elisabeth Brink
David Crouse
Andre Dubus III
Anne Easter Smith
David Ebershoff
Julia Glass
Áine Greaney
Dyke Hendrickson
Eric Kraft
Elinor Lipman
Margot Livesey
Andrew McNabb
Ellen Meister
DeLauné Michel
Heidi Pitlor
Anita Shreve
Lewis Turco

And those are just the fiction authors. To see who else is presenting, go to and click authors et al.

On Friday night, April 24, there's a Dinner with the Authors event, and I think almost all these folks will be there. Click here to make your reservation.

My discussion will be on Saturday morning, April 25, at 9 am. I'll be doing a panel with Delaune Michel, a wonderful author whose most recent book, THE SAFETY OF SECRETS, I'm currently reading ... and loving. For more info on the schedule of events, click here.

I think this is going to be a pretty spectacular festival. Hope you can make it.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Update

Sorry I didn't update last week. I was in a funk for reasons I can't even remember. Pretty quiet this week but I'll give it a shot ...

• A friend recently asked if I was done with my book. That's not as easy to answer as you might think, since there are layers of "done" for a novelist. So I guess I'm at layer 26b, which means that I edited the manuscript per my editor's notes and turned it in. Now I wait to hear from her, anticipating at least one more round of edits ... and hope they're minor.

• Just finished reading HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG by Andre Dubus III, and I'm still reeling. Powerful.

• Speaking of powerful, Laila Lalami's new book, SECRET SON, releases today. Can't wait to get my hands on it. Check out the trailer.

• If you're a writer, there are two sites you must bookmark if you haven't already: Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors. Run by authors Ann Crispin and Victoria Strauss, these sites are devoted to helping writers avoid scammers and other con artists. I've been recommending these sites for years, and was glad to see my favorite agent blogger behind the cause today.

• On the homefront, grueling few weeks as my daughter worked on a heritage project for school. Yesterday she turned it in. May I have my dining room table back now please?

• This morning is my parent-teacher conference at her school. Judging from her report card I'll be hearing all good news, but I want to talk about the little brat boy who's been plaguing her all year. I don't think it's cute. At all.

• My son Ethan's been sick all week, poor kid. Doctor said it's a virus, so he just has to tough it out.

• Speaking of doctors, I had my annual gyn exam yesterday and spent the rest of the day trying to recover from his dismissive attitude. I'm sure there are wonderful male gynecologists out there in the world, but I'm so done with them. Over and out.

• Exciting events coming up this week: brunch with FADE author Lisa McMann and big Passover shindig (also known as Seder) at my house. (Donna--bring dessert!)

• Last weekend was the big MEET THE AUTHORS TEA at the Hofstra University Club, courtesy of The Transition Network and book columnist Debbi Honorof. This deserved its own blog post, but I was too caught up in edits (and wasting time on Facebook). At any rate, it was one of my favorite events ever. I shared with panel with Long Island authors Saralee Rosenberg, Brenda Janowitz and Carol Hoenig. Thanks to insightful questions from Debbi and a smart, engaged audience, it was a delight from start to finish. For more details, check out Saralee's blog.