Thursday, April 29, 2010

Party! Presents!

I can't find the camera cord. Am quite frustrated. But instead of generating an entire post of whining, I've decided to throw a little party, here at Trish's Dishes.

We're going to celebrate, people! We're going to give stuff away!

What stuff, you say? Good stuff!

First up: an Advance Copy of my new book!
This will be worth gazillions someday. Seriously! It will be known as, "the early draft in which Trish attempts to quote John Steinbeck but quotes John Updike instead." We've corrected the problem for the final edition, so this ARC is rare! If you win it, read carefully....who knows what other authorial disasters lie within??? (I can say this with confidence because they hired a copy editor to remove my disasters AFTER the advance copies went to press. So the ARCs are quite special)

Second: A Rock the Tot T-shirt!
What's Rock the Tot you ask? It's a combination of all things wonderful: A contest...for eating... Tater Tots! I received this T-shirt while in Grand Rapids (clearly the waiter looked at me and thought, This girl has eaten a tater or two in her time...) but sadly was not in town long enough to attend the event. But the t-shirt is spectacular. You can see it here, modeled by our waiter (who had big dreams of tot-consuming glory) on my friend Cary's blog.

Third: A MYSTERY Gift!
What is it? I don't know. But I like things that come in threes, so I feel like there should be three presents at our little party here today. So I'll come up with something spectacular.

Want to win? Leave a comment below. Tell us something that's making you happy this week. Big or small, profound or simple. Let's celebrate :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Placeholder post re: NYC

So this isn't my real post about my trip to NYC last week. This is the placeholder post I'm putting up to reassure you that I haven't dropped off of the planet--I've simply misplaced the cord that lets me move pictures from my camera to my laptop.

But soon you will see pictures:

*Of my friend High Fashion Girl and I in Washington Square!

*Of two of my favorite novelists, Alison Pace (PUG HILL, IF ANDY WARHOL HAD A GIRLFRIEND) & Hyatt Bass (THE EMBERS)...with the genius crafter of thrillers Jason Pinter (the Henry Parker Novels) in the background, slightly obscured by the flash!

*Of my video filming, with the crew who somehow coaxed coherent sentences with me after the high of so much NYC fun!

But first, I must find that cord...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Trish in the City

Last night was one of those nights that had me wondering if I was being followed by a camera crew for the NYC Bureau of Tourism. So. Much. Cool. Stuff.

My friend High Fashion Girl and I went out for dinner in the West Village, at a ridiculously improbable restaurant called SushiSamba It features Japanese cuisine with...Peruvian influences. So wrong...and yet so very right. We had one sushi roll topped with mozzarella and fried onion bits which had me wondering if I'd ever enjoy other food again. Between that & the yummy strawberry martini, I didn't even mind that the bathroom had one of those attendants who turns the water on for you, squirts your soap and then expects a tip. (I gave her a dollar. She has a strange job. Who am I to argue?)

After stuffing ourselves to near oblivion, we walked around the West Village. I'd never been down there, and loved it. It was the perfect place to talk, watch, we walked up to Washington Square to take the obligatory picture of the Empire State Building through the arch, that's when I started to look around for cameras. Because this was the city at its best.

Right now I'm at my agent's office, typing on her assistant's computer (Hi Stephanie! Thank you!) and waiting to meet a bunch of writers whose books I love at a lunch at the Algonquin. This is what I love about New York: there are so many creative people, all doing their genius thing. It's like I get to breathe in new momentum for my own creativity. Thank you, NY!

Gotta love inspiration. I'm a grateful girl.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What to wear?

I'm heading to NY today to film a video for A MAZE OF GRACE! I might be--just maybe--a wee bit excited. There will be the relaxing train ride (I heart Amtrak) and then a fun night catching up with one of my best friends. And then tomorrow I'll meet with my agent--which is essentially writer therapy: she'll cheer me up, tell me I'm the most brilliant writer to ever walk the planet (I hear there's a whole class in hyperbole in agent school)...and then demand that I get my @#$ in gear and get to work. Because if I don't write something, none of cheerleading matters.

Then there's a Roundtable luncheon at the Algonquin Hotel with fabulous Twitter authors to further inspire (so excited to meet them in person), on to film the video, then a beverage of some sort (depending on how the video goes...) with a friend I haven't seen since college.

It's all so, so wonderful. But here's the rub: All this is happening in NY. They wear clothes in NY, and not just normal clothes. There's no such thing as throwing on a fleece & frump jeans to walk the dog in that city. One could run right in to Christian Siriano, and can you even imagine the expression on his face if he saw me? I'd be swooped off to the set of What Not To Wear in a heartbeat (and they give everyone the exact same haircut, so I'm determined to stay out of their clutches.) In NY, every moment (in my imagination at least) is non-stop glamour: the highest of heels, the tightest of jeans, and not a muffin top in sight. It's just like Cambridge...

Only not.

I refuse to panic. In truth, I don't need new outfits, I need a new attitude. In anticipation of my upcoming post on the wisdom I gleaned last week from the venerable Eugene Peterson, I asked myself: "What would Eugene Peterson say if he were here, watching me cram every outfit I own into my little suitcase?"

The answer? I suspect he'd say: "If you meet cool people and have great conversations, it doesn't much matter what you wear." (Then he'd tell me NOT to wear that one pair of jeans under any circumstances, ever. Pragmatic guy, that Eugene.)

I'll be back on Friday with tales of adventure...hopefully none of which will involve me tripping over the sidewalk, spilling coffee all over myself, or ruining our family name. It's good to have big goals :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why I love Joshilyn Jackson

Here we go: Blog #1 in my retrospective of Things Trish Learned at the Festival of Faith & Writing. Up first: Joshilyn Jackson.

Let me set the scene: I slunk into her session exhausted. From life, from the prospect of a new book coming out in what feels like 45 seconds, from the sense every writer I know has that we're not writing/promoting/blogging/tweeting/getting ourselves featured on NPR nearly enough to escape the threat of total failure. So I slid into the front row and flopped in a chair, not because I wanted to get as close to this celebrated novelist as I could, but because I was too tired to squint from the back.

JJ--as I now call her, because in my mind we're not only BFFs, we're cousins (we're both Irish, so it's disturbingly possible)--broke me right out of my funk. She has a self-deprecating sense of humor that she swings about like a sword--slightly manic, and yet in total control. My favorite quote: "I don't understand why authors say that their books are like their don't sell your babies!" I had to cross my arms in front of me to keep myself from jumping up to hug her.

She shared about being raised in an ultra-conservative Christian home (musical instruments weren't allowed in her church?!?) and then taking a wild turn in the opposite direction when she was old enough to make her own choices. She tried all the things that make new adulthood interesting: sex, drugs, booze, more sex, random men, friends who don't know your last name but know your beer preference... Eventually she realized that she was in over her head, that she and her friends were careening past fun exploration, into full-on self-destruction.

In one of those "whodda thunk it?" moments, she turned to God. After reaffirming to him that she didn't believe he existed (I was laughing so hard I hiccuped at this point) and said, "Fine! I'll read your stupid book!"

What I loved about her story is that she never said she regretted any of her life experiences. As someone with my own adventurous past, it felt good to hear someone else confirm that the world is not black & white, that each of us are on our own spiritual time line, and that things work out in unexpected ways.

Plus, she gave me a vision of how to write a novel that includes faith, but isn't about faith. She gets that books are, first and foremost, about entertainment.

I'm reading her third novel, THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING now, primarily because the bookstore had sold out of her first two by the time I got there. I will be forever grateful to JJ for re-energizing me...both in terms of the long full day on Friday, and my dream of a long productive (interesting!) life of humor & creativity.

And for giving me the best possible answer for those awkward moments when someone suggests that my books are somehow substitutes for babies :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Festival of My Favorite Things

Just got home from three days in Grand Rapids, Michigan (home of the nicest people on earth) at the Festival of Faith & Writing. FFW is a biannual conference where my two favorite conversations intersect. Perhaps the best part was that they defined "faith" broadly, so every session was filled with new ideas. Some I loved (see: Joshilyn Jackson, below), while others seriously ruffled my feathers (like the author who essentially reduced "miracles" to when something you don't like happens and it improves your attitude....I'm pretty emphatic in believing there's more to it than that). Even (or perhaps especially) because of the feather ruffling, I loved the collision of all these perspectives. And even more than that, I loved the chance to hang out with one of my favorite friends, and meet other writers who take on the challenge of writing about the huge, mysterious subject of spirituality.

Confession: I went with a rather unorthodox agenda for an author with a new book launching in June. On the flight out, I realized that what I was longing for was not networking, but connection. I wanted to get excited about writing again. Not as a job or a calling (I think recent events have left me overly focused--and slightly panicked--about the need to leave a legacy through my writing, thus making it almost impossible to write) but as a way of figuring out the world. You know, fun. Some parts of what you do everyday should be fun, right?

I'll share some of what I discovered through my posts this week. Here's a preview (so tomorrow when life gears up again and I can't remember even going to Grand Rapids, I'll have a frame of reference):

Blog #1: Joshilyn Jackson. So. Damn. Funny.

Blog #2: Eugene Peterson. How to take the larger view of your life and play multiple roles simultaneously (I felt like I was sitting by the fire with Yoda, gaining sage wisdom and learning to trust the force)

Blog #3: Mary Karr. I might have accidentally asked her, in front of several hundred people, how she deals with her inner moron.... That's not at all what I meant. But it might be what I said.

Blog #4: Amy Julia Becker. Connecting with people who get what you're attempting--and are willing to share the secrets they've learned in their own attempts-- is worth more than gold, I've discovered.

Blog #5: Technical frivolity. Why I might maybe be saving my pennies for an iPad.

Blog #6: The really inspiring thing I thought of a minute ago but now can't remember.

(When we get to blog #5, someone please remind me to confess blatant coveting of my my seatmate's MacBook Air on the plane today...)

Okay, time to hit the couch with with Steve & THAT DOG. More tomorrow :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

How did you get there?

I'm preparing a talk for tonight on Relational Honesty. I'll start with the opening scene from He's Just Not That Into You (where women from all over the world are shown concocting soothing lies for each other about why a guy didn't call) and then talk about how hard it's been for me to be honest when my base response to most of life's awkwardness is to flee (or, if I'm backed into a corner, to flip out.)

As I was working, I flipped over to Twitter (have I mentioned my procrastination skills?) and found a link to these wise words from fellow author/speaker/encourager Donald Miller:

"If you’re writing a paper or presenting a talk, sit and consider how it is you came to understand the point you are trying to make. Track it back through conversations, experiences, and list those experiences. Then see if you can tell a series of stories that would guide an audience to the same epiphany. It works pretty well for me."

That got me thinking: how did I come to understand the importance of relational honesty? What convinced me it would be worth the hard work to move beyond my default settings of flip & flee? As best I can remember, it was watching other people love me enough to be honest, to have difficult conversations they could have avoided, and to feel the joy that comes from being valued so much that people won't give up on me even if I'm being less than delightful. That's a rare and amazing thing.

And let me pause to note that if you haven't felt the sweet relief that comes from a friend saying, "Well yes...those jeans DO make you look fat" in a store dressing room before you've whipped out your have something to look forward to in life. You wouldn't think so, but not buying things that make you look bad = An unexpectedly beautiful experience.

Are you good at relational honesty? Tell us: how did you get there?

Saturday, April 10, 2010


There's a readathon today! I thought I woke up to late to participate (due to a lovely social gathering last night and a pretty spring drink called The Yellow Parrot) but a quick scan of Twitter revealed that I was only a few minutes behind some folks, so I decided to jump one of those runners in the Boston Marathon who thinks, "No one will mind if I skip the first 20 miles, right?" So even if I'm more a cheerleader than participant for this round, it still sounds fun.

Here are the books on my pile:

DOGTOWN by Elyssa East
WENCH by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Confession: I'll be dividing up my reading time with a visit to the mall. I have two trips in the next two weeks, and I need one of those gigantic purse-on-steroids bags that will hold everything I could possibly need for an entire day in the city: 2 outfits, 3 pairs of shoes, all my makeup, and whatever books I acquire along the way (at which point I'll also need a Sherpa...)

And there will no doubt be a trip by the Apple store, to see if the iPad (or one of its cousins like the Kindle) could lighten my traveling burden. Do you have an e-reader? Which one should I consider? Or do you have a super-purse that makes an e-reader unnecessary? All help appreciated!

Off to read!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

There you have it

The good news: I looked SO CUTE when I went to meet my friend Biology Girl for lunch today!

The bad news: Our lunch is tomorrow.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Trish goes to Harvard (metaphysically, and in real life)

I'm reading Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's novel, 36 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. It's brilliant...and intellectually WAY over my head. I'm usually pretty strong swimmer in the vast sea of philosophical/metaphysical/spiritual ideas (my decade of dabbling had its benefits), but RNG's writing has me doing a frantic doggy paddle, trying to stay afloat. I feel like Rory Gilmore in the episode where she goes to Harvard, learns that the library has 15.6 million volumes, and exclaims in despair, "What have I been DOING with my life? I'm so far behind!!"

Still though, I'm loving it.

In related news, I actually went to Harvard over the weekend. My sister and THE NEPHEW were visiting, and we went to the Museum of Natural History. I'm not a museum lover (dead things and exhibits creep me out; reason undetermined) but this was a pretty cool place. Who knew taxidermy could be so intriguing? Add that to a trip to the Skywalk Observatory at the top of the Prudential Center (where THE NEPHEW swore he could see Maine through the mist), and we have now established the standard for 10 year old boy happiness.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Easter is my favorite holiday. Even before I considered myself part of Jesus' intrepid band of followers, I remember thinking that the whole coming back from the dead thing was worth a bit of celebrating. It's unique in that it promises such tangible things: that now, because of Jesus, we can connect with God in a bigger way than we'd have considered...and that the outer limits of what's possible in our lives far exceeds our imagination.

I like having my imagination exceeded. Happy Easter, everyone :)