Category Archives: Who in This Room

Who in This Room and Writerly Things

It’s been a while since I did a book related post, no? Oh, I guess it’s been a while since I did any post. That explains so much. Anyway, there are a few things on the calendar this spring.

THIS Friday, May 18th, which is incidentally my mother’s birthday and the anniversary of the Mt St Helens eruption, the Young Survival Coalition is putting on a very fancy event at the Pan Pacific Hotel downtown. It’s called Courage Night (rawr) and there will be four of us writer and breast cancer survivors reading and talking. And as if that weren’t enough, there will be appetizers including “boneless buffalo chicken bites” AND “fruit skewers.” What more could a girl want? Also a no host bar. There’s that too. It starts at 7:00 and you can find out more info and RSVP here.

In the hope of encouraging and helping others write their stories, I’ll be teaching a free writing class at Gilda’s Club in Seattle on June 28th. Anyone who has been affected by cancer can sign up, and really, I can’t imagine many people can say they haven’t been affected by cancer, so that means you, you can sign up if you want. Really, I’d love to see you. Or you can tell someone about it. You can find out more and RSVP here.

Hope to enjoy a fruit skewer with you on Friday!

PS – if you’ve read Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition, I’d love for you to write a review on Goodreads or Amazon or Indiebound or the wall of a public bathroom, wherever you’d like.


The Strangest Things Happen on Book Tour

A few weeks ago, I found myself carrying two cases of Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish and Demolition, about 60 pounds of books, into Nordstrom’s Bellevue store. They were having one of their Nordstrom Fits America Events, where they fit women with bras and raise money for breast cancer research and asked me to read at the event. It was a different idea – a way to take a breast cancer-related event away from the pink weirdness and back to the individual story, to what breast cancer is really about. It was experimental, a little different, and I was pleased and flattered to be invited.

When I arrived, there was a table in the center of the store where we displayed the books, a director’s seat for me and a handful of chairs that were quickly filled. A small crowd gathered to listen. It was relaxed, intimate and cozy.

I’d asked the department manager for a microphone because I still had laryngitis and couldn’t project my voice. They delivered. Perfect. Lovely. I was set.

“Thank you for the mic,” I said.

“Sure,” the department manager said. “It’s hooked up to the sound system so everyone will be able to listen, even people in the dressing rooms.”

Oh, isn’t that awesome?! Um, I’m sorry, have you read this book? May not be appropriate to for all audiences. Includes adult topics and profanity. May not be appropriate for children, men and casual shoppers. Perhaps I should have put that on the back cover.

It was too late now, my introduction was underway and then, oh, here I am, microphone in hand.

Because it was a breast cancer event I chose to read from the first chapter about my decision to have a mastectomy and before I knew it, I was saying: You wonder if you will have enough skin to cover the hole (where your breasts used to be) and your husband says, “Don’t worry babe, I’ve always been more of an ass man myself.” Over the intercom. In Nordstrom. Lingerie. While innocent women shop for bras.

The Huffington Post Adoption Essay

(c) La Luz Photography

Too Many Real Moms

A few months ago I heard an interview on NPR with Nancy L Segal, the author of “Someone Else’s twin: The True Story of Babies Switched at Birth.” The book told the tale of three babies and what happened when one singleton newborn was accidently switched with an identical twin. The “twins” were raised as fraternal and no one knew about the mix-up until they were adults.

It’s a complicated story and in the interview there was a lot of discussion of the various parents of these three girls and how they felt. The interviewer, I presume in an effort to simplify things, used the term “real” mother or “real” parents on several occasions to indicate the biological parent of the child.

If the biological parent is the “real” parent then what is the term for the parent who raised the child? The parent-in-practice? Parent-in-life? Bed-sheet-changer? At some point, it seems like 18+ years of lunch-packing should earn a parent the title of “real,” no?

Click here to read the rest of the essay in The Huffington Post.

How We’re Doing

Well, awesome. The readings at Elliott Bay Book Company, Village Books and Nordstrom all had strong attendance and book sales. The Bellevue Square Nordstrom is now selling the book in their lingerie department. I guess it’s kind of like buying a CD at Starbucks. Rumor is that the distributor is upping their order quantity and the publisher is burning through their stock. Thank you for buying copies, recommending it to your friends and spreading the word.

We’ve seen some great reviews and a little love from the online world. Here’s a recap:

Shelf Awareness for Readers, Featured, Starred Review – October 14, 2011

Shelf Awareness Book Brahmin Author Interview – October 12, 2011

The Next Family Blog Post – October 6, 2011

Coffee Jitters Blog Book Review – September 29, 2011

I’ve enjoyed getting your Who in This Room love notes on Facebook and in email. It’s been the best part of this whole experience. Some of you have asked how you can help. If you want to take these love notes and post them to your favorite book-review site, I’d promise to love you and care for you forever.

Since I’m asking for things… In the midst of all this book madness, Hysterical Mommy Network, Who in This Room’s neglected pet fish, is up for a Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Award. You can vote here. I’m late to this party and the contest ends the end of this month!

While you’re at the Red Tricycle site, you can pop over and vote for Josie and Little K in the Red Tricycle Spooktakular Pumpkin Photo Contest. We’re finalists!

Thank you! Love. Forever. You.


My Life at Stack ‘n Stuff

I’m in this weird place right now. I’m kind of on maternity leave, I’m kind of a stay-at-home mom, but I also have this book thing. The official launch date of Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition was October 11th and every day that goes by, my prime book promotion window closes a tiny bit, and every day that goes by, my kids get one day older. There’s a lot I’d like to do on the book promotion front, but it all requires travel or time at my desk, which my 15-month-old will not allow. It’s an age-old parenting story. Like many parents, I want to be all things at all times. I want to be out promoting the book, but I want to be here with the kids. What’s a frustrated, driven, over-achieving mother to do?

Well, here’s one thing I do have plenty of…. Time with a toddler. I have lots of that. What can one do with a toddler? Well, one can organize her junk drawer. Then perhaps she’ll feel so satisfied she can design and install her daughter’s closet with the help of her toddler wobbling around with hammer in hand. Then she can move the spice drawer and re-organize her kitchen utensil drawer. Well, then, there’s only two more drawers in the kitchen that need help and, well, maybe she can do those the next day because it’s supposed to rain and she has this coupon and they’ll go to story time in the morning, but after nap they’ll need something to do, and there’s a playground nearby and it’s covered so the slide will be dry and so that would be just perfect. It’s just the thing!

This happens to be our routine. Morning, play around the house, naptime where I spend a few minutes at my desk, trying to get some shit done. Then afternoon snack and we head to the mall. We go to the playground first so K can blow off steam, and then to Storables so that I can. He has his fun then I have mine. The result: I’m in that store pretty much every day. I should wear a sign that says “Hi, I’m an over-achiever mother who should not be staying at home but is staying at home. Please excuse me (get out of my way before I run you down) K THX BYE! J” But, then I think, why would I need a sign? Is this not self-evident?

At the store, they greet K and me with a friendly smile and a wave. They notice and comment on his cute haircut. I load up on containers and baskets; then I go home and start getting dinner ready. When Paul opens a drawer in the kitchen, he raises his eyebrows and asks how everyone is doing at “stack ‘n stuff” today. We both know that he knows it’s called Storables but I correct him anyway. Everyone at Storables is fine, I say. Thanks for asking.

Then while Josie stands in her cape on the armrest of the couch and jumps to the floor, while K reaches up to the counter to grab whatever breakable or sharp item he can find, I reach into my supremely-organized utensil drawer and let out a contented exhale as I retrieve the forks and knives for the table, because while I may not be able to control my superhero, my counter-reaching monster, or the trajectory of book sales, I can most definitely, control the contents of my kitchen drawers.

Books and Babies

2011 has been a big year for us. Legendary. We met little K in June. Five months later Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition is being published.

Perhaps one could say that in 2011 I was expecting two babies. But there are some very distinct differences. For example, Little K is much cuter than the book. And the book doesn’t ask me to rub its head while I drive. The book doesn’t pee through its diapers at night and occasionally scream out with night terrors. The book doesn’t throw peas on the floor then burst into giant tears when you tell it to stop. The book doesn’t shriek like a baby pterodactyl when it’s tired. And, more notably, the book doesn’t pull up my shirt and try to give me zerberts on the stomach.

Conversely, Little K doesn’t sit quietly on my desk or in a box on my floor. He is rarely misplaced and never forgotten (although I can’t say the same for his shoes). He doesn’t have 139 neatly formatted pages and, so far, he doesn’t have nearly as many words, but I know he will someday.

Really, there is only one baby.

But there are some similarities. Both feel like once in a lifetime events. Both are epic creations. Both bring me joy. I am so lucky, fortunate and grateful that they both exist.

Since becoming a parent, my goals for my children have changed. No longer do they need to be the leaders of the free world. After watching them speak with bits of food falling from their mouths, throw tantrums over already-chewed pieces of gum, and dress themselves in brown polka dotted leg warmers and yellow striped socks, I’ve learned that they are who they are. What will be will be.

Now, I simply hope my children will find things – subjects, sports, activities, hobbies – they like and that they’re good at. I hope they can earn money in an endeavor related to this interest or some other career they enjoy. In short: I hope my children find their place in the world and people that make them happy.

My hopes for the book are similar. WITR had to be written. During and after treatment I was obsessed and consumed by those stories. I thought about them 24×7. I was working it all out, creating art from grief. It had to be done and now that it is done, I hope people discover its strengths and that people connect with it. In short: I hope it finds its place in the world and the people who love it.

That is all.

Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition is out! You can buy it anywhere good books are sold.

Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition Events

The Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition official launch date is October 11th but I hear rumors that it is shipping now. Early!

The launch par-tay is this weekend! Come! And bring friends!

Here’s how the rest of the schedule is shaping up.

  • Bellingham WA – Village Books Reading and Signing
  • Sunday, October 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm
  • Village Books Website
  • Seattle WA – In Living Pink
  • Young Survival Coalition Fundraiser
  • Friday, October 21, 2011 8:00 pm
  • Young Survival Coalition
  • Vashon Island WA – Books By the Way Reading and Signing
  • Sunday, November 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  • Books By the Way Website

I’ll be speaking for just a few minutes at the Young Survival Fundraiser. This is the support group that got me though my treatment. It’s a really great cause and a fun party. If you’re in Seattle, come!

We’re also still hoping to set up a reading in Portland. Stay tuned!

Check out the website if you haven’t already That’s where you can find this video and other interesting stuff, like the reading schedule and blurbs for the book.

Like the Facebook page here!

Only nineteen days until the official release of Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition!

Shelf Awareness

I have a few questions for you…

  • What was your favorite book as a child?
  • Who are your top five favorite authors?
  • What book changed your life?

I’ve been asked to be the Book Brahmin, to answer a series of book-related questions, for an upcoming issue of Shelf Awareness. I love books. This should be easy.

But how ever will I choose? The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao! Refuge! Surely I’m overlooking something. Middlesex! I’ll send it off and realize that I’ve forgotten my favorite book of all time. Me Talk Pretty One Day! And then I will ask if it can really be my favorite book of all time if I had completely forgotten it. Sight Hound! These are the questions that keep me awake at night. OMG Cutting for Stone!

How would you answer? Or, how would you answer for me?

For those of you who don’t already know, Shelf Awareness is a newsletter about books and the book industry. They have two issues, one for trade professionals and a new one for readers. In the readers version, they write reviews and provide updates on books that are coming out that week. If you haven’t signed up for Shelf Awareness for Readers, you should. Right now they’re running a contest. You could win free stuff!

And just in case you’ve forgotten there are 55 days until Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish and Demolition comes out.

My First Book Appearance

Hey everyone, just wanted to post a quick update to bring you up to date on the book happenings.

You are the wind beneath my wings! xoxo

Save the Kittens!

We were in Monterey a few weeks ago and one night there was a terrible thunder storm that shook the house and cut the power, at least that’s what I’ve been told. I have no recollection. All I remember from that night are my dreams.

In the first dream, a box of kittens had fallen from someone’s car and there were tiny kittens running all over the freeway. I was driving and suddenly trying not to hit the kittens or the people who were trying to save them. They were so tiny with eyes closed and their mewing mouths. So tiny! Don’t hit the kittens!

In the next dream I’d scored the lead role in a musical. I was wearing some kind of costume that may or may not have been made of paper mache, and I was about to go on stage without having practiced at all. Oh, and I’m tone deaf. There’s that too.

Anxiety anyone? Apparently I’m stressing about my upcoming readings and “author signing” events and wondering how we will keep a baby, a tiny little baby, from being run down by the speeding hatchback of life.

Lots of things are happening over here. Lots of good things. No news on the adoption front, sounds like the waits are longer than ever. BUT, it looks like I’m headed to New Orleans to party with 30,000 librarians at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference on June 25th. I’ll have an author signing and a hopefully do a reading at a bookstore while I’m there. If you know anyone in New Orleans, pass it on; let them know I’m coming. More details later…

The first version of advanced (rough draft) copies of Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish and Demolition will be done on Friday. I can’t wait to hold it.

The and websites are under construction.

The launch party and reading dates are being finalized for October. I get sweaty palms just thinking about them. Save the kittens!

Finally, the lovely people at CALYX Books are making a video trailer for the book. What fun! Have you seen any book trailers that you really like? Any thoughts on what should be included?

PS – Save the kittens!