Monday, June 28, 2010

Conversations & Complexity

Last week I recorded a podcast interview with the fabulous Christy Tennant of the International Arts Movement in NYC. Oh how I love her! And as someone with dreams of building a cultural center (like NY's 92nd Street Y) here in Boston, I was so excited to learn about IAM and the things they're doing.

Conversations like this are one of my favorite parts of launching a new book out into the world. We authors joke about how we only want to hear great reviews and cringe at words of criticism, and with my first book, I was right there with them. After all, that book was very much my story, my romantic and spiritual ups and downs in all their vulnerable, pathetic, yet somehow-it-miraculously-all-worked-out glory. (To this day, when I see that book on a bookstore shelf, I feel like a part of me is sitting there, hoping to be taken home and loved. Pitiful!)

The new book is different. It's about my story, but in a larger sense this time. There's more reflection, and I had a bit more room to observe the world around me and say, "Um, I think some things are crazy here..." I have some opinions. I knew, even when writing, that not every reader would agree with me. That was exciting, truth be told. Because as long as we're not attacking each other, or criticizing who we are as people, disagreeing about ideas can lead to amazing things--solutions, possibilities, even (dare we hope?) that elusive collective genius we hope for whenever we gather together to try to solve a problem.

In grad school, my favorite book was a science book called COMPLEXITY. It was the story of a revolutionary gathering of scientists from all different disciplines--biology, chemistry, economics, psychology--looking at complexity theory through the lenses of their different fields to see if their collective knowledge would lead to new understanding. I love the idea of these sorts of gatherings, even with all their messy, ego-filled personality clashes. I like interesting conversations with people who have thought hard about what they think and why.

If you like these sorts of (complex) conversations, I have a couple of cool invitations for you!

First, the Blue Ocean Summit here in Cambridge, MA, August 2-4. This will be the third year for this conference, which is the most provocative, inspiring gathering I know for people who are thinking about questions of faith within a city culture. I'll be speaking, which of course makes it extra exciting, right? ;)

Second, I'm working on a series of workshops (tentatively called "Creativity: Behind the Scenes") to take on the road this Fall and Winter, based on the fun experience sharing a stage with the guys in Ryanhood at my launch party. There's something about "nerding out" with other artists across genres that is surprisingly motivational, and I'd like to create more of that. If this sounds like something you and your friends would be interested in hosting, drop me an email and let's talk.

And for now, tell me: What do you like/not like/hope for/fear from complex conversations?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh Happy Day!

Last night's party was amazing: 100+ of my favorite people, fun sharing the ups and downs of the writing process, musical accompaniment from the guys of Ryanhood (it's so much less scary to be onstage when you're up there with friends & having a conversation...although I had to put down the mic and sit down while they played so I didn't ruin the moment w/accidental backup vocals :) ), and some of the most amazing food ever. Even the wine tasted extra special. It was a good, good night.

I'll have more details and pictures up soon. But until then, check out the other highlight of my week: my interview with Gretchen Rubin, author of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, on what makes me happy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Launch Day!

It's book launch day today! I've been up since 4:00am (THAT DOG doesn't want to miss a minute of summer, apparently) so right now I feel almost exactly the way I did the morning of my wedding: thrilled and amazed that this day has finally arrived, excited about the party...and so exhausted I barely know my name. My lone goal for tomorrow's celebration is for my hair to look slightly better than it did on my wedding day (a hungover hairdresser wound my hair into a peculiar little bun that made me look like a lost extra from Little House on the Prairie). It's all about small, achievable goals right now. I'm off to heat up the flatiron...

But first: if you're one of the people who has cheered me up and on during the crazy process of writing/editing/waiting for publication of this book...thank you. I appreciate every comment and word of encouragement. And for those of you who have taken an hour or two out of your busy lives to read my books? A huge, awkward cyber hug for you!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Take Action!

Like the rest of the world, I was captivated by Greg Mortenson's tales of courage and determination in his memoir, Three Cups of Tea. It was one of the best books I read last year (I've been saving the sequel, Stones Into Schools for my vacation next month).

One of the things I admire about Greg is the bold way he admits that we authors need help. In the back of both his books he includes a section entitled, "Take Action." It's a list of things you can do to spread the word about his books, his work, and the causes he cares and writes about. It's both candid and helpful.

Today, I'm re-creating a version of it here. As someone with a new book "officially" launching tomorrow, I'd be SO grateful if you did any of these things to help spread the word. And as a lover of books, I'd be elated if you picked a book you've enjoyed and applied these steps to help that author, too. Here's the list of how you can TAKE ACTION! to put A Maze of Grace on the map:

1. Visit for more information. I'll be updating this week with links to the organizations I mention in the book, pictures, and events.

2. Suggest A Maze of Grace to a friend; colleague; book club; women's group; church; civic group; university creative writing class; pre-marital class...or any person or gathering interested in memoir/questions of dating and marriage/spiritual exploration/women's issues/faith and politics.

3. Check if A Maze of Grace is in your local library. If not, either donate a copy or suggest to the library that they add A Maze of Grace to their collection. Ask your friends and family in other states to do this also.

4. Encourage your local independent or chain bookstore to carry this book if they do not have it.

5. Write a book review of A Maze of Grace for, Barnes & Noble, or a blog. Your candid comments will help bring awareness of this (or any) book.

6. Ask the book editor of your local newspaper or radio station to consider letting you review the book.

7. And finally, a fun, personal step particular to today: click over to The Divining Wand to see a review of A Maze of Grace and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy!

Thanks for reading, and for helping. It really (really) makes a difference in a world where every copy sold counts!

And I'd love to hear: Do you have other suggestions for spreading the word about books you love? Start here, leaving a note in the comment about a great title, so we can read it too!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Beach reads: Three novels I love

I know it's not usually the done thing to blog about other people's books two days before one's own book launches, but I can't help myself. I've read three REALLY great novels in the past couple of weeks, and I want to share them with you, in case you're looking for a summer escape yourself. If it helps motivate you to click over to Amazon or head to your local library, pretend I'm handing them to you in this adorable tote bag, and picture yourself heading off for a day of sunny relaxation!

STAY by Allie Larkin. As you can tell from THAT DOG's frequent appearances on the blog, I'm a dog person. I love every book Alison Pace has ever written and am excited to welcome Allie Larkin into our club of writers who adore dogs. STAY is a poignant story of that feeling we've all had that we've lost it all (told through a character who really had). But the ending is both happy and satisfying, and I loved every minute with this book.

THE MURDERER'S DAUGHTERS by Randy Susan Meyers. I met Randy at a gathering of Boston authors who Tweet, and the minute she handed me her card I fell in love with her cover. The story inside is just as gorgeous. Two sisters, struggling to make a life for themselves and figure out what "family" means after their father murders their mother. The characters in this book are so real I feel like they might email me with an update.

THE SEASON OF SECOND CHANCES by Diane Meier. I think I loved this book because part of me identified with the main character: when I'm hurt or scared, my core instinct is to retract into myself--to eschew emotion and follow whatever semblance of intellect and logic I can cobble together. But most of us don't really want to be alone, at least not forever. I liked how this story unfolded.

Let me know if you read these...and what books you're loving as summer kicks off. Thanks for humoring me as I took a brief break from trying to lob my own books into your beach tote ;)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I once dated a guy whose biggest joy in life was found in the words, "Buy one, get one free." He was a doctor, so it wasn't about the money. I think it was that sense of getting something extra, of using your resources in some sort of maximal way. I wanted to be appalled (really, he was a little strange about the whole thing)...but I'm the daughter of a man whose FAVORITE CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER was a gift certificate to Goodwill (my sister's genius idea), so the truth is, I understood exactly what he meant when he'd do a little hop of glee upon seeing a BOGOF sign.

(Looking back, the hop of glee probably explains why we didn't make it as a couple...)

All that to say, today is BOGOF day here at Trish's Dishes!

My new book, A MAZE OF GRACE officially launches in one week! Amazon is shipping, and I've had friends send me pictures from all over to celebrate that it's already in bookstores--I'm caught off guard, and feel the need to celebrate this early release. So I thought I'd do a give-away inspired by my friend Ivy:

This past Sunday at church, when I went up to give Ivy a hug, she was near the bookstore holding both my books in her hand. She's the mom of a bunch of little kids, and so had never read book one. "I want to read them in order," she said. (For obvious reasons, I hugged her again.)

It occurred to me later that day that she might not be the only one who would prefer to read the whole story of my romantic & spiritual adventures, rather than jump in mid-stream. And for those of you who want to give MAZE as a gift (have I mentioned that it's PERFECT for bridal showers? Birthdays? Independence Day for the friend who just had the bad breakup and is afraid life will never work out?) the set makes it extra-special.

So here's the plan:
Buy a copy of A MAZE OF GRACE between today and the official launch date (June 22).
Send a copy of your receipt (scanned store receipts count, too) to Trishryanonline AT Include your mailing address (no worries...I won't use for any other purposes) and I'll send you a FREE copy of my first book, HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT.

Buy this one, get this one free :)

A behind-the-scenes admission: Authors do these sorts of giveaways because readers are so valuable. Without you--and your decision to spend $20 and a couple of hours with us--we don't have jobs. So to all of you who are buying my books, asking for them at the library, reading them, telling your friends, writing reviews on blogs or Amazon...THANK YOU. I'm incredibly, indescribably grateful.

And happy to share the BOGOF fun :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Niece Toss

This is a picture of me with my 6 year-old niece, SPARKLE GIRL. We'd just arrived at the beach, it was colder than expected, and despite the fact that I was not even touching the water, she was shrieking in terrified laughter--sort of sure I wouldn't really toss her in...but not entirely.

Remember that feeling? Being half afraid something will happen, and half afraid it won't?

I don't have any deep point I'm driving towards, except perhaps a reminder to myself of things I tend to lose sight of:

Summer is here...Life is good...It's fun to be scared by the sudden arrival of new possibilities, even if they involve a complete loss of control...especially when I'm with people I love.

What are your summer epiphanies? What do you want to remember as you dive (or are tossed) into the next three months?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Celebration & a sneak peak!

It's here!!!!!!!

Okay, not here,'s at my friends' house :)

Paul & Pascha just sent me an email entitled, "Wahoo! Lookie what came this AM!" with this picture of my new book, fresh out of the box from Amazon... (I haven't even seen a copy yet, so I'm contemplating a hike across the city to gaze in their window in astonishment).

Then I discovered my Q&A featured on the awesome book blog, The Divining Wand. This is so exciting for me, as TDW has introduced me to more great books & authors than the NYTimes Book Review and the front table at B&N combined. I'm honored to be "revealed" there.

In honor of all this fun, I'm doing two things...

First, re-posting links to Giselle's happy dance in Enchanted and Kool & The Gang singing Celebration from my other blog, as that seems like a solid way to set the party mood.

And second, for those of you who (like me) don't yet have a copy of A MAZE OF GRACE in hand, HERE is the first sneak peak of the opening chapters for you to check out!

If you feel inspired to read further, you can have it sent your way immediately! With just a few clicks! From Amazon, IndieBound, Barnes&Noble...or ask for it at your favorite bookstore.

Thanks for celebrating with me :)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Video: The Kylie Chronicles

Inspired by fellow authors Gretchen Rubin and Allison Winn Scotch, I thought I'd try making a video for a little change of pace here at Trish's Dishes. I wasn't sure what to talk about at first--should I answer questions? Share things few people know about me? Offer tips like Gretchen? (I have no tips, so this last one was never really a contender). Then I thought, "What do I want to know when I meet an author? I want to know what goes on behind the scenes, something that didn't make the book..."

And thus, a video was born! As I've shared before, my books require A LOT of editing. So I have plenty of behind the scenes stories to share from the cutting room floor.

For the inaugural video, I picked one of my favorite topics: behind the scenes with THAT DOG (I got her a pet store in North Philly while looking for a fish...) Here she is, at her grumpiest and least photogenic. I was SO excited for her internet debut, and she wanted NOTHING to do with this project. If you need a laugh, here you go. Enjoy!

Isn't she a star??? Okay, maybe not. I realize this. But she's wonderful, nonetheless :)

Next time, I'll talk about some aspect of the writing process. What super secret, behind the scenes things would you like to know???

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Great Escapes

This weekend was filled with lightening and thunderstorms, and I dove into books to help me recalibrate. Don't you love how a good read lets you escape into another world for awhile? I wanted to pass the word along about a few gems I'm extra-grateful for right now:

First came a re-read: Alison Pace's PUG HILL. Oh, how I love a dog story, and even more so when it has all the elements of romantic comedy and interesting tidbits about a cool profession (art restoration) I'd never learn about any other way. I can't believe this book hasn't been made into a movie...yet :)

Second, on the spirituality front, a spectacular new memoir by Joan Ball: FLIRTING WITH FAITH. Our stories have much in common so I related to so much of what she wrote. But what I really appreciated was her entertaining writing style, which kept me happily turning pages long past my bedtime.

And finally, Ann Leary's novel, OUTTAKES FROM A MARRIAGE. A super-fun tale of life in the glamorous, complicated world of celebrity. Exactly what I needed.

Later this week I'll have a sneak peak of the first chapter of my new book (which I hope will also provide a fun escape for readers) just as soon as I figure out to embed the code :)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Better Together

A group of friends and I do this thing we call high/low when we get together, catching each other up on the best news and the hardest challenge from the previous week. Today as I think about that, I can't even imagine where to start.

I think my low and the high are surprisingly intertwined around the complicated emotions of the funeral of our friend Andrew, who died in the prime of life. It was devastating, on the one hand. But as I looked around me at the 700+ people who gathered to celebrate his life on Saturday morning, and then watched a fleet of Massachusetts State Troopers work heroically to get our funeral procession safely through the tangle of intersections, rotaries, and traffic tangles between North Cambridge and Jamaica Plain/Boston (I think that alone restored my faith that miracles are still possible), I was struck by how well Andrew lived to give rise to such a celebration in a mere 38 years. Powerful stuff.

And the theme of this celebration, as friends from different years of his life spoke, wasn't huge professional accomplishments or daring feats of was relationships. Andrew changed the world by spending time with & enjoying the people in it.

(I'm going to type it again--in bold--so when I scroll back over this I'll remember:
Andrew changed the world by spending time with & enjoying the people in it.)

The song that opened Andrew's funeral summed it up: Jack Johnson's Better Together.
I sort of knew this was true before, but now I'm convinced.

Speaking of which...

1. Today is the first day of 40 Days of Faith, if you're looking for a hope infusion, check it out here!

2. Today also marks the beginning of launch month for my new book, A MAZE OF GRACE: A MEMOIR OF SECOND CHANCES. As I've mentioned before, pre-orders are a huge help to an author's career, so if you're so inclined, here are easy links to help you order from Amazon, and IndieBound. Thank you!!!

Here's to life, better together :)