Friday, June 15, 2007

Making a Literary Life Friday: Out & About

If you're a writer, make sure to frequent your local independently-owned bookstore where you're sure to find all kinds of exciting happenings. Our very own Buttonwood Books in Cohasset hosts many authors who write in a variety of genres. Here's Amy at a recent event where Hank Phillippi Ryan read from her mystery Prime Time, Claire Cook (author of the international bestseller Must Love Dogs) read from her latest commercial fiction Life's a Beach, and memoirist David Gessner read a passage of Soaring with Fidel.

Chocolate and strawberries and almond pear torte, laughter, reflections, and suggestions, dinner with writers Scott Heim and Michael Lowenthal was lovely. Scott spent his childhood in Kansas, in a rural town, or barely a town is how he described it, I think. Michael grew up in DC though he dreamed one day of living in Boston, a magical place he visited as a child. Thank you, both, for sharing your stories, struggles, and approaches to task within this world of writing. We so enjoyed reading your work and loved spending time with you.

Thanks to all of you who sent along your best wishes and included my family in your prayers. I never expected to be so utterly touched by this online community of ours; it's comforting to have each of you there. And thanks to Lynne for hosting Michael Lowenthal and Scott Heim, and for the two of them for dropping in on our Writers' Group. Each are extraordinarily gifted writers, the kind Francise Prose wants you to read like a writer. Michael's Charity Girl (Houghton Mifflin 2007) is so perfectly crafted, so painstakingly plotted, you'll need to read it twice: once for pure pleasure, a second time to wonder at his precision. Though Scott's third book, We Disappear (Harper 2008) is due out in January, I urge you to start with his debut Mysterious Skin. On the first read, be prepared to have your heart ripped from your chest. On the second, pay attention to his craft. The words, pace, and beauty of it all is an important lesson for all writers.


Dinner with Scott and Michael was wonderful. In addition to being hugely talented, they are funny, wise, relaxed and gracious; we talked about the revision process, the mystery of titles, high school reading lists and the ever-shifting landscape of agents and publishers, plus listened to stories from the book tour road, what comes next. Definitely keep your eyes open for We Disappear; it will be hard to put down even on re-reads! An evening like that helps refill that precious jar of energy several times over. A thousand thank you's to them for making the trip, and to Lynne and her entire lovely family for hosting us!

This has been an exciting week for connecting with other writers. My husband and I went to Hank Phillippi Ryan’s book launch party in Boston and then last night Michael Lowenthal and Scott Heim joined us for writers’ group. The discussion was so thoughtful and insightful, I'll be reenergized for weeks, I'm sure. I have a writing weekend planned and I can’t wait to hit the keys.


Anonymous said...

I feel jealous/envy ok; I'll call it awe for you gals having the fun you had and with writers too. ;)
I wish I knew so many famous authors.

I'll have to settle for me and my typing right now. Good to know that you had fun and so many learning opportunities.

scottheim said...

Hey, I love the photo! We all look really happy... and just think, we were only drinking tea and grapefruit sodas. Maybe it was the strawberries? Anyway-- thanks again for an amazing time, and we hope to see you all very soon.

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Reality, when you leave your shore for ours, we'd love to have you stop in on our writers' group.

Scott, chocolate covered strawberries and good company always make for happy times. Thanks again for stopping by, you and Michael are brilliant.

Lisa said...

You are all so fortunate to have each other and to live in a place so teeming with literary energy and we are all lucky that you so generously share your experiences with us. I miss New England! What a wonderful opportunity -- to have dinner with two fantastic authors -- you had me at the dinner and conversation, and then chocolate covered strawberries!

Lynne Griffin and Amy MacKinnon said...

Lisa, just let us know when you're in town and we'll invite you to dinner, too. We'll even make the chocolate covered strawberries.

Lisa said...

I will do that! I might have to tell my Aunt Nancy in Scituate that I'm finally coming out for a visit :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the invitation. As it happens, I might be in the USA on a short trip soon. New England might figure in this trip, because of your invite.