Saturday, August 30, 2008

Boston Globe Interview

I'm in the Boston Globe today!

It's always interesting to see what comes out of an hour-long conversation/interview. As you'll see, I was rather caught up in the world of Sex And The City: The Movie when Rich Barlow and I spoke...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stuff & Things

1. We have winners of yesterday's Froggy Goodness Giveaway: Aimee! Liza! Melanie!
...Email me at trishryan AT gmail DOT com and let me know where to send your prizes :)

2. We have the link to a fun interview I did with Carrie at Words to Mouth. It includes some embarrassing revelations about how my writing career began back in high school, when I realized I'd need A's in English to balance out my C's and D's in math...

3. We have one of the funniest posts ever from Manic Mom, about her husband's creative attempts at garbage disposal. Priceless.

4. And finally, we have a picture of THAT DOG's attempt at performance art. Can you believe how proud she looks? Unbelievable. She hasn't done anything quite like this since she was a puppy.

I'm not sure what the vet did when he removed those two weird growths from her head a few weeks back, but I think I might want them reattached...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

7/7: Winners! We Have Winners!

I was up late into the night, reading your funny comments and feeling great about this wild crazy blog world we inhabit. Thank you for playing along with me...this has been a fun seven days :)

And now, without further ado, the winners!

Congratulations, Grits!

Congratulations Kristen Dedeyn Kirk!

Congratulations Susie!

Congratulations Liz!

Congratulations Joy!

Congratulations Nicole!

(this is Allison Winn Scotch's second novel, TIME OF MY LIFE , our mystery pick)

Congratulations Ruby (Mouth)!

If you see your name on this list, please send me your mailing address: trishryanonline AT gmail DOT com.

After I'd picked all the winners, I felt this Rosie O'Donnell-esque urge to give more (Rosie and I don't have all that much in common, but our love of giving away free stuff bonds us like sisters). I dreamed (dreamt?) up three fun, froggy care packages, each of which will contain a copy of HE LOVES ME HE LOVES ME NOT, a decorative lip glossed mug, and this very funny "Grow a Prince" kit, where you drop a frog in water and watch what happens (I'll admit that I've not tried this, so I make no promises about the outcome...)

If you didn't win but still want to, drop me a comment...tell me about your favorite lip gloss or lipstick (or if you're a Chapstick girl...that's okay too) I'll pick three tomorrow :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

7/7 Day Seven: Dave Schmelzer's NOT THE RELIGIOUS TYPE

I saved a fun book for last in our Seven Books in Seven Days giveaway. It's by a genuine friend of mine (as opposed to an author I stalked and/or offered my teeth to meet), and it's the very first book I ever "blurbed" as an author myself, which was (as you can probably imagine) both terrifying and thrilling.

If you've read my memoir, you'll remember Dave. He's the exceedingly tall pastor who took the stage the day I wandered into his church. I sat towards the back, scanning the room for cute guys, ready to bolt the minute anyone said anything judgmental or horrifying. But instead, Dave suggested an oddly hopeful approach to God and faith and life, as if he honestly believed we're created to experience things beyond what we might even think to ask for. For obvious reasons, I was captivated. If you've ever read Anne Lamott and wondered where one might find the open-armed, low-pressure/low-rhetoric, Jesus-ey brand of spirituality she describes, NOT THE RELIGIOUS TYPE is a great place to start.

What I love about this book is that Dave does a great job of combining his unique story with wise and thoughtful musings on various topics. I think he's the only pastor out there celebrating the vital contribution of the New Atheists to American society, or admitting in a chapter title that he wants lots and lots of sex. As the jacket copy says, "Dave suggests a new, unexpected way of seeing the world and our place in it." I've know Dave and his wife long enough to know that this isn't just some show he's putting on--it's the real deal. If you're a spiritual seeker, this will be a fun addition to your collection.

(Plus, my blurb on the back will make it worth millions someday!)

If you'd like to win, leave a comment....tell us something you love and appreciate about one of your friends.

Happy Monday :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

7/7 Day Six: What's Life Without Surprises?

Today's book giveaway is a mystery (even though it's not). I'm keeping it a secret (but I promise it's not The Secret).

Here's what I can tell you: it's a second novel from a spectacular writer. It's a fictional account of some very cool things happening to a protagonist I think most of us will identify with in one way or another. The advanced copies received rave reviews, and there's a good chance we'll even see this story on the big screen.

The book won't be available in stores for months, but thanks to the general coolness of this fabulous author, you, my awesome blog readers, have a chance to win a copy NOW, which we'll send to you as soon as s/he gets author copies from the publisher.

Want to win? Leave a comment answering this question: Are you good at keeping secrets?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

7/7 Day Five: Joshua Henkin's MATRIMONY

This giveaway series is making it look like I stalk authors on a regular basis, but that's simply not true. There have been dozens of titles I've read this year that I loved in a polite, quiet way, turning the last page and then placing them back on my shelf without harassing the author at all.

But Joshua Henkin's MATRIMONY was not one of those books. I harassed Josh (note that I call him "Josh" now, instead of Joshua, totally inflating the level of our discourse, which basically consisted of me emailing him and saying, "I love, love, love, love, loved MATRIMONY...thank you for writing it!" and "Josh" emailing back to say, "I'm so glad you enjoyed it." Of course now, in my mind, we're best friends forever...even though I have no idea if anyone in his real life ever calls him Josh...) and am so glad I did. Because as he planned the launch for his paperback, he emailed me and asked, "Would you like a signed copy for one of your blog readers?" Which was where the whole idea of Seven Books in Seven Days began.

MATRIMONY is an awesome story about relationships and writing and characters in the midst of figuring out what life--individually, collectively--might be about. It also taught me the correct use of the semicolon, which is no small thing. You'll love it, even if you already have a firm grasp of basic punctuation.

If you'd like to win a copy, leave me a comment. Perhaps with an observation about...matrimony.

Here's to a wonderful Saturday :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

7/7 Day Four: Alison Pace's CITY DOG

Today's selection is brought to you by THAT DOG, who is looking at me right now as if to say, "You're a writer--Why haven't you written a book about ME?"

If anyone can inspire me to make THAT DOG's literary dreams come true, it's Alison Pace.

Alison is the queen of canine-lit. She built her career by deftly weaving adorable pups into compelling story lines, creating her own sub-genre and raising the bar for the rest of us. To put it bluntly, her books captivate me and make me happy. (While reading her last book, I told Steve one night, "I can't eat dinner until this dog gets adopted...the adoption has to go through, it just has to!!!") Her stories are funny and memorable, which is why when I learned that her latest, CITY DOG, will be out early next month, I sent her an email and asked, "Can we give away a copy now? Can we, can we please???"

(Note: if you're the winner of CITY DOG, and your copy arrives looking like someone might have read it already, you're wrong. I'd never do that. Really....)

Leave a comment if you'd like to win...tell us about your favorite pet, the one you have now, or even the one you'll have someday.

[ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: I'll be giving away books through the weekend, so tune in to check them out. All drawings are open until Tuesday, when I'll pick the winners for all seven. So if you're just discovering this, feel free to drop a comment in any/all of the posts.]

How happy are we that it's Friday??? I'm off to walk THAT DOG. She wants to discuss who will play her in the TV sitcom version of HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT, and whether she should retain her own agent...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

7/7 Day Three: Cathleen Falsani's SIN BOLDLY

Earlier this year, I stalked Cathleen Falsani at a writer's conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I'm not sure what came over me; maybe all the Midwestern niceness in the air convinced me that since everyone I'd spoken to had been so kind and wonderful, anyone I spoke to would have to be kind and wonderful. I guess I thought those were THE RULES.

Still, though...I made a bit of a fool of myself.

Cathleen's talk was scheduled for some unspeakably early hour, and yet the room was packed. I, along with millions of others, had been captivated by her first book (celebrities talking about their spiritual beliefs...what's not to love?) and was curious what lurked beneath the cover of her newest project, which wouldn't be out for several months. The title? SIN BOLDLY. For a girl like me, it was the literary equivalent of "You had me at hello..."

After her talk, I literally stormed the podium, my little frog-faced book cover postcard in hand. "Idlovetoblogaboutyourbookwhenitcomesout!!!" I gasped.

"Ooookay..." she said, warily (she was very nice, but decidedly wary...). "I'll do my best to get you an advanced copy..."

At that point, I may have hugged her. Or maybe not. It's all a blur.

Later, my publicist said, "Cathleen and I are friends--she's great! I'll introduce you." My inane response? "I'd give my eye-teeth to meet Cathleen Falsani!"

Since then, Cathleen and I have communicated by phone and by email. She wrote a wonderful column for the Chicago Sun-Times comparing parts of my book to the friendships between the girls in Sex And The City (reprinted here in the Huffington Post) and I wrote rave advance reviews of SIN BOLDLY. We've talked about dogs and cats and friends and husbands, and how the right lip gloss really can improve an otherwise crappy day. My publicist is right; she's fabulous. And chances are we'll meet in person (possibly soon). So I need to set the record straight:

Cathleen, I cannot exchange my eye teeth in order to meet you. Aside from all the obvious reasons, both functional and aesthetic, My parents spent thousands on orthodontia when I was young, and they just wouldn't understand.

Fortunately for me, Cathleen resides in the Midwest. I don't think prevailing niceness laws permit her to demand my teeth. (I guess there's also an outside chance she wouldn't want them...) Still, I hope she'll want to hang out :)

Anyway, SIN BOLDLY is great. It's finally out in the world, and Cathleen is sending me a signed copy to give to one of you. You'll love it. Leave a comment and you're in the running to win!

Happy Thursday. I hope the sun is shining where you are...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

7/7 Day Two: Heather King's REDEEMED

Heather King can write. Her style is raw and confessional, beautiful and poignant, absurd and's the real deal. Her memoir, REDEEMED is on my short list of go-to sources when I want to dive into the world of how writing should/could/would be done. She even does subtitles well. I mean, "A Spiritual Misfit Stumbles Toward God, Marginal Sanity, and the Peace that Passes All Understanding"? How could anyone not want to read that?

REDEEMED covers a wide swath of life: alcoholism, law school (she's perhaps the only person I know who went into law school a drinker, rather than picking up the habit as a survival tool sometime in the middle of her first year...kind of makes me wonder if I might have done better with a similar approach?), breast cancer, marriage struggles, her father's' s a doozy of a book. And yet somehow, she manages to weave humor through these stories, and hope, and an overall sense of life that's hard for me to describe.

Perhaps the best compliment I can give Heather King is what happened when I gave REDEEMED as a gift to my friend Midwest Girl: the next time I saw her, she brought the book out to dinner with us and we spent the better part of the evening talking about King's words and stories and experiences, sometimes just saying to each other, "I can't believe how well she captured that...I thought only I felt that way..."

If I had the chance to sub-subtitle this book, I'd call it DRINK, PRAY, LIVE.

Heather is a fellow New Englander (which is not at all relevant to this blog post except that it means I'm a tiny bit like her and I'm dorky enough to think that might someday make a better writer...) She'll be sending me a signed copy of REDEEMED to share as part of our "Seven Books in Seven Days" adventure. Presuming I can overcome the urge to keep it for myself (and I won't lie; that's a fairly big presumption...) I will be passing it along to one of you next week when I draw the winners. So leave a comment!

Have a great day :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

7/7 Day One: Laura Dave's THE DIVORCE PARTY

There aren't many novels that prompt me to pull out a pen and underline. I write nonfiction, so novels are usually an escape for me, a way to be swept away in a story. Laura Dave's THE DIVORCE PARTY is the (wonderful) exception to this rule.

It's a story about relationships--one fresh and new, another falling apart, and then the interlinking familial bonds you can't just walk awayfrom, the ones you spend the better part of a lifetime working on and working out.

One of the pages I dog-eared: a mother thinking how she wishes she could go back in time and do things a bit differently. She longs to, "Make different choices, be braver, do just about anything so her daughter thinks she is worthy of getting everything that she needs as opposed to trying ot figure out how to be better at giving it away."

And this thought I loved so much, I used it in the first day of my Forty Days of Faith blog earlier this summer: "In the end, belief isn't supposed to make sense, at least not all of the time. In that, it finds its power. It gets to creep up on you and carry you forward."

So gorgeous. So true. So underlineable! (Is that even a word?)

Laura is not only brilliant, she's generous, too. She's sending me a signed copy of THE DIVORCE PARTY to share with one of you. If you'd like it, leave a comment. I'll include a pen when I mail it to you, because you just might need it :)

And if you'd like to see my thoughts on the romantic trials of Olympic swimmer Laure Manaudou, check out my inaugural post in the Love & Relationships section of Basil & Spice.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Seven Books in Seven Days

I'll be at a conference here in Cambridge this week, speaking about reading and writing. As I prepared, I thought about the books I've loved over the past year or so and what captivated me about them--some entertained me, some inspired me, one was just so beautifully written that I couldn't stop underlining passages. In the midst of this, I thought, Why not share the love? Why not do a big Trish's Dishes book giveaway?

This gave me a fun excuse to contact some of my favorite authors (each of whom I've accosted with fan-emails before, so they're familiar with my love of their work) and ask, "Would you be up for donating a signed copy of your book to give to my blog friends?" Of course, being gracious and wonderful, they all said yes.

So starting tomorrow, we'll be giving away Seven Books in Seven Days. That's a bit of a misnomer, actually, as I'll also be giving away copies of my book, along with some fun prizes and who knows what all else. Really, what could be better?

(And for those of you who are kind enough to wonder, THAT DOG is healing nicely.)

See you tomorrow!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Recovery Ward

I'm here in the bedroom with THAT DOG this morning. She and I are recuperating.

She's got the worst of it--yesterday morning she jumped into the car enthusiastically, expecting to go to the park or maybe even the beach. Instead she woke up seven hours later on the vet's recovery table with sutures in her ear and eye where weird growths had been removed, drugged in a way she hadn't experienced since we lived with the roommate who toked up every day after work (as I recall, THAT DOG had a particular fondness for him...)

She's still stoned this morning, looking up at me from time to time as if to say, "Dude! Wasssup???" In her natural state, THAT DOG rarely says "dude," but her recovery persona seems to skew towards Ashton Kutcher.

Me, I've got a run of the mill head cold that wiped my voice out minutes after the TV crew left our house on Tuesday. It was bizarre--I had functioning vocal chords, and then I didn't. Things are better today--just a little foggy--but not at all conducive to writing my first guest blog for the website Basil & Spice. So if you log on there next week and see a post about the spiritual connection one can find in a bottle of Tylenol Cold & Flu, please-- could you leave kind comments and email the head of the site to reassure her that I'm not usually like this?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ready for my close up

Yesterday was TV filming day at the Ryan house! It was unlike anything I've ever done before, and I'm not even sure I can describe it all...but I can try :)

When I first learned that CBN, a faith-based television channel from Virginia, wanted to send a crew to our condo to do a story on my book, I had two reactions: First, I called Steve at work and screamed, "WE NEED MULCH!!!" because the front of our house looked like an overgrown junkyard. Then I pulled out our new vacuum cleaner and vacuumed...the curtains (You know, because clean drapes are such an important part of quality television... )

In short, I didn't know what to think, or how to prepare, so I dove into minutia with wild abandon, and then asked friends and family to pray that I not make a complete fool of myself. We won't know until the piece airs, but I think their prayers were heard.

The three members of the crew--a producer and two videographers--were fun and full of creative ideas. They filmed me riding the subway, walking down the street in the rain, reading on my bed. But every shot was set up with so much thought about angle, lighting, background. It was very cool to watch, and kept me from freaking out (too much) about the fact that I was the one being filmed.

Some shots didn't work so well...they tried one of Steve and I "cooking" in the kitchen. I was supposed to chop lettuce while Steve chopped an onion, and we'd pretend to chat about our day. What neither of us realized until that moment was that we lack the ability to talk--even pretend talk--and chop at the same time. It was pitiful. Steve's onion looked like it had been massacred, while I looked like a first grader trying to cut that big head of lettuce. The crew was laughing so hard at that footage that I suspect we'll be featured in a bloopers segment at some point in the future. My dream of being the Next Food Network Star died, right there in our kitchen.

Overall though, it was an amazing day. I suspect I'm one of the few writers in the world who gets to chat with the books editor for Cosmo magazine one week and the 700 Club the next. It can feel a little precarious sometimes, bridging these different worlds. But it sure keeps life interesting, and it's a great reminder that in terms of our greatest hopes and dreams in life, we have more in common than we might realize just by looking at the surface. Good stuff :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back from Backspace

New York was amazing. I'm sorry for the lack of blogging; my hotel room had a few difficulties, and lack of internet service was one of them. The others included a wad of gum stuck under the desk between the beds (right at eye level, just inches from my face when I woke up), a giant puddle swooshing out of the air conditioner, and a sadistic room fan that kept going on even after I turned it off. The fan was on some sort of sensor...if I laid down for more than four minutes (I timed it), the fan would come back on, as if it thought I'd left the room. When I sat up to turn it off, it would switch off right before I got to it. This wasn't frustrating at all, really. Just delightful.

On a happier note, the conference was great. John Searles, novelist and books editor for Cosmo magazine, gave a funny, inspiring keynote address on Friday. He shared the first (& worst) rejection letter he ever received for his writing. The editor accidentally included a note that said something to the effect of, "I could barely get to page 60...I feel REALLY bad for anyone who has to read all the way to the end..."


And yet, now he has two novels published, a fabu job at Cosmo, and even recommends books
for the Today Show. Not too shabby, right? It was inspiring stuff.

I'm watching the Olympics right now...realizing that swimming is WAY more fun to watch than I remembered, and that the only thing more boring than civil litigation is Dressage. Being one with the horse??? That's just a little strange, no?

Go Michael Phelps!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

If I can make it there, part III

THAT DOG seems to be feeling the very least, she's empty! Steve will be taking over on doggie care tomorrow, as I'm catching the earliest train imaginable to NYC for the Backspace Writer's Conference. I am SO excited about this event. I'll be on a memoir panel with two amazing authors, John Elder Robison and Gail Konop Baker, and my spectacular agent, Elisabeth Weed

Elisabeth is moderating the panel and has promised me easy, straightforward questions (unlike the last panel I was on, where the moderator kicked things off with a question about my, um...intimate life choices. There were children in the front row. I floundered, trying to come up with some sort of cogent yet subtle answer, then threw myself under the table in shame. I emerged from that experience a little gun-shy.)

If you're in the city, come say hello! If you don't see me right away, it means Elisabeth faked me out. Look under the table...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Reasons to redecorate

Poor THAT DOG. She went to the groomer today. She looks adorable, all fluffy and clean. But her huggability is significantly diminished by the vile liquid that keeps bursting forth from her hindquarters.

We've had this problem before. THAT DOG is cute, and she knows how to work you if you're not familiar with her tricks. A few minutes of wags and rolling over on command is usually all it takes to have her literally eating out of people's hands. So I can only imagine her looking forlornly at the groomer as he trimmed her nails, pretending to suffer so he'd double the rewards. Let's give her the good stuff, he probably thought, handing her piles of gourmet puppy treats, blissfully unaware he was packing her full of TNT. Unfortunately, THAT DOG doesn't do well if she veers too far from her basic diet of Purina One and Milk Bones. She's just not built for fancy food.

Oh well. I've been looking for an excuse to replace that rug in the hall...

I'm off to make some rice!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Down with robots

Wow, what a weekend.

The low point was the email I received on Friday, informing me that Blogger had locked down Trish's Dishes because a robot identified my blog as a possible spam site. When I clicked on the link to try to understand what made the robot think this, the news was ugly: apparently, the robot targeted me because it reviewed my blog posts and found them repetitive and nonsensical. Thanks.

I wasn't sure what to do with this little nugget of information, other than be SO glad I put the kibosh on Steve's suggestion that we get one of those robot vacuum cleaners that buzzes around the house on it's own. Back then, it was simply a matter of not wanting to terrorize THAT DOG. But know I know the truth: robots are not my friends.

Fortunately, some live person reviewed my blog and decided that however repetitive and nonsensical my posts might be, they're not spam. So here I am, free to blog another day!

The weekend got considerably better after that. We went to the Red Sox game on Friday and saw Jason Bay, the new left fielder the Sox took on to get rid of the drama queen that is Manny Ramierez. At Bay's first at-bat, the entire ballpark rose to give him a standing ovation, welcoming him to Boston. That was fun. (Of course, the local press will eat him alive if he doesn't play well, but I think that goes with his job...) It was nice to bring him in with a vote of confidence.

On Saturday, our friends Gavin & Emily were in town. Oh, how I love them...let me count the ways. We had an amazing Japanese/Korean dinner at a favorite restaurant, and then stayed up until 1am drinking coffee and wine and talking, talking, talking. Evenings like that are such a nice reminder to me that times like that can still happen, even once you're a grown-up.

And today, I'm vacuuming everything in site. I just learned that the television interview we'd scheduled for next week will be taking my house. ACK! If the camera adds ten pounds, what will our Kylie-fur dust bunnies look like on film??? It's just to frightening to contemplate.