Friday, December 10, 2010

Multi-Author Holiday Event, (with fun promo)

Get thyself to Spring Hill tomorrow. 2:00. Books-A-Million is hosting a book signing party for not one, not four, but SIX authors! That's right.

Alicia King, Sorry for Your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew
Myra McLarey, Road to Eden’s Ridge
Whitney Ferre, 33 Things To Know About Raising Creative Kids
Tisha Morris, 27 Things to Feng Shui Your Home
Ashley Crownover, Wealtheow: Her Telling of Beowulf, and
Mary Hance (Ms. Cheap), 99 Things to Save Money in Your Household Budget

Grab a delicious coffee at their cafe, Joe Muggs. Break out your Christmas list and get a book personalized for every person you love. Then pick one out for yourself:)

Here's the fun part- Ms. Cheap listed the event on her blog. I made Ms. Cheap!! YES!

See you there!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mystery Revealed- Guest Blogger!

Sam Davidson is a writer, entrepreneur, and dreamer who believes that the world needs more passionate people. To help people find and live their passion, he has written 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need. He is the co-founder of Cool People Care and Proof Branding, and lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter.

Don't miss his book launch at Landmark Booksellers in Franklin on Dec. 3rd!

One Thing Your Life Doesn't Need: Tax returns older than seven years

The rule of thumb is that there’s no reason to keep tax returns that are older than seven years. Once you hit that magic anniversary, your entire office or family can have a shredding party and commemorate how little money you used to have. The seven-year mark is one that is suggested by the IRS and most state governments, for questions about your earnings or if there is an audit.

Whether or not you actually have a party on your seven-year anniversary, the mark should be recognized as a clear signal: if one of the largest bureaucracies of government isn't interested in it, you needn't hang on to it. Extend the time frame to a decade if you like or if you’re a hopeless romantic for that return you completed with pencils and calculator in only 15 hours way back in 2001.

The seven-year rule can be applied to many of your dreams. Dream all you want, but letting go of that old flame or high school sweetheart could do wonders for your peace of mind. If you haven’t spoken in seven years, forget about it. She has moved on. So should you. After seven years, have you made progress in realizing your dream? If there has been no progress whatsoever, give it up. Spend time on a new dream. Out of the shattered rubble of unfulfilled dreams a beautiful new one can emerge. Failure can be celebrated. It certainly wasn’t your goal, but learning from situations and dreams that didn’t pan is a great silver lining. Some of the best entrepreneurs and inventors didn’t succeed on their first try. Edison's famous efforts to find a workable filament for the incandescent light bulb reportedly required more than a thousand attempts.

The seven-year mark is just a good and convenient rule of thumb; it’s certainly not gospel. It may only take you a year to realize that a relationship is going nowhere. It may take ten years to discover that your business should shut its doors. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself whether or not something is working and what should be eliminated from your life to free you for better and nobler pursuits. Your life doesn’t need stagnant dreams that have produced no value or benefit for seven years.

Getting rid of the many kinds of "tax returns" after seven years takes a bit of faith. The temptation to keep hanging on is very great, and your heart will dare you to hold out hope. But you need to be ruthless. If you keep hanging on, you’ll never have the open hand you need to grasp the next thing. Hold these memories and feelings delicately in the palm of your hand. Don’t grip them tightly. You’ll find out that you can hold much more with an open palm than a closed fist. Let circumstance take away that which you don’t need and give you what you desperately want. Be willing to say goodbye to opportunities that are older than seven years and watch for all the new opportunities you will be able to greet with a hello.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What? A Guest Blogger?

Next week I'll be featuring a mystery guest blogger here. He's not a grief writer, per se, but I think you'll like his point of view. I do!

Would anyone like a hint? Let the guessing begin......

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful, or Difficult Time of the Year?

It's that time again. The holidays. That time when we are bombarded by images of happy, intact families. Traditional roles are front and center, with Grandma in the kitchen, Grandpa bouncing a child on his knee, and everyone in every ad has the obligatory attractive spouse and 2 children working blissfully together. In their perfect kitchen. Making perfect cookies. No wonder liquor sales spike this time of year! I suspect it's not all celebratory sales. It's alcohol for drowning our feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and that familiar monster, grief.

Anyone dealing with loss understands. When it's difficult to get through an ordinary day, high-pressure events can feel like torture. Even years after the loss of a family member, their absence is never so obvious as during a family holiday gathering. Whether it's the man who no longer carves the turkey, the woman who's not there to bake her famous pies, or anyone else, these days can re-open old wounds.

Here's my holiday wish for all of us who are surviving grief-

May we find comfort in our memories, make peace with our loss, and experience joy without guilt.

(And I wouldn't mind a few of those perfect cookies!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hospital-Tested, Nurse-Approved

I got this message today from Sonia Whitebird, a nurse at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee, CA-

"I bought a couple copies and brought them to work. I actually had a couple of the girls use the book to look at as a tool on how to approach some family members who were in the middle of losing a loved one. They weren't really sure what to say and I thought this would be perfect instead of me telling them what to say. They applied some of these tools in the book to what they were gonna say anyways. It was extremely helpful!! They love it!"

I can't describe how it feels to hear this. The whole point of writing the book was to help people support others through grief. I'm extremely grateful to everyone who contributed. Getting this information together and into the hands of people like these nurses was exactly what I was praying would happen. It's amazing to me how it's all played out.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fun Article, and They Quote Me!!

Thanks to Laura Morris at Turner for making this happen.

Alicia King, author of Sorry For Your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew, was quoted in an unusual article on “Clever Resting Places” that was distributed by Creators Syndicate in their Fall 2010 Golden Years Supplement.

Only the second major independent syndicate founded since the 1930s, Creators Syndicate distributes a variety of features, including advice, lifestyle and opinion columns, as well as comics and editorial cartoons. Founded in 1987, the service represents more than 200 of the most talented writers and artists in the world, including Robert Novak, Mike Luckovich, Bill O'Reilly, One Big Happy, BC, Wizard of Id, and Speed Bump. Our talent has won countless awards, including Pulitzer prizes, Reuben awards, and many others.


Paginated preview available for download:

Ways to live on long after cremation

Chandra Orr

Why spend eternity in the ground when you could be shot into space, turned into a diamond or swim with the fishes as part of a manmade reef?
With cremation on the rise, companies are offering a surprisingly offbeat array of options for memorializing loved ones, from pressing remains into vinyl records to packing ashes into professional-grade fireworks.
"It's the baby boomer generation putting their individual stamp on end-of-life celebrations, just as they've done with weddings and childbirth," says Gail Rubin, author of "A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die." "Increasingly, the hobbies, interests, passions and causes embraced by the deceased are reflected in how they dispose of their cremated remains. After making unique statements throughout life, baby boomers are making their idiosyncrasies known in death."
For example, Fredric Baur, the inventor of the Pringles potato chip can, asked that his ashes be buried in his iconic creation.
Marvel Comics editor Mark Gruenwald had his ashes mixed into ink used in a reprint of his "Squadron Supreme" comic book. The man credited with turning the Frisbee into a pop culture phenomenon asked to have his ashes mixed into a batch of plastic for the flying discs. The company obliged, and the Edward Headrick discs are now hot collectors' items.
These unique tributes are a form of immortality, a way for the deceased to "live on" in creative expressions that reflect their lives.

"How we plan our final rest is one of the most personal decisions we will make," says Alicia King, author of "Sorry For Your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew." "Most business spelled out in a will be resolved in a relatively short time, but our big finish can be the one thing that defines us to future generations. You might not find the details of your patriotic great-great-grandfather's life all that fascinating, but if he had his ashes shot from a cannon on the Fourth of July? Now that's an ending that will stand the test of time."

Some of the more unusual options:

*Hitch a Ride to the Moon
Hitch a ride into outer space on a commercial or scientific satellite. Credited with sending "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry's remains into the final frontier, Celestis has been launching ashes into orbit for more than 10 years, and the pioneer in memorial spaceflight will offer lunar and deep space burials soon. For $2,500, Celestis will launch a "symbolic portion of cremated remains" into Earth's orbit, where they will remain for 10 to 240 years before vaporizing upon re-entry into the atmosphere. A
trip to the moon is a bit pricier; for $9,995, you can book passage to the lunar surface as early as 2012.

*Swim With the Fishes
Transform your remains into an underwater ecosystem. For $2,500 and up, Eternal Reefs will mix your ashes into environmentally safe concrete and cast an
artificial reef formation. The structures -- each weighing up to 4,500 pounds -- are engineered to entice sea life and strengthen natural reef formations. Over the past 12 years, the company has placed more than 1,000 memorial reefs off the coasts of Florida and the eastern United States.

*Go Out With a Bang
Companies such as Heavens Above Fireworks pack cremated remains into professional-grade pyrotechnics to send loved ones out with a bang, literally. Fourth of July-style memorial services start at about $1,600, but do-it-yourselfers can purchase self-firing rockets repacked with ashes for at-home displays. Individual rockets cost about $120 each.

*Be Pressed Into Diamonds
LifeGem creates custom gemstones from cremated remains. Molecularly identical to natural diamonds, LifeGems are made by subjecting the carbon atoms in ashes to intense heat and pressure. It's the same way
Mother Nature makes diamonds -- without the wait. What takes millions of years underground takes just a few months in the lab. A full carat will set you back about $20,000, but smaller gems are available starting at $2,500.

*Spin a Tune on Vinyl
British company And Vinyly will press cremated remains into an old-school vinyl record for a lasting audio homage. Include a personal message; read your last will and testament; preserve your original musical compositions; or offer a moment of silence. Prerecorded tracks and original commissioned compositions are also available. For an additional fee, a professional artist will paint a portrait of the deceased as cover art. Packages start at about $4,700.

*Track the
Passage of Time
It's not your typical urn. The "Lifetime Hourglass Keepsake Urn" collection from
In the Light Urns transforms cremated remains into a functional timepiece that "becomes a family heirloom that can be passed down for generations," according to the company's website. Ashes from two loved ones can be combined in one urn so you and your spouse can spend eternity together, reminding those on earth of the fleeting nature of time. Prices start at $240.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lucky Number Alert!!

Yes, I'm one of "those" people. A person with a lucky number. Four has always been my marker. Like a giant arrow when there are no other factors, the choice with a 4 always proves to be the right one.

Now this blog's hit counter approaches 4444. I wonder what will happen?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In My Hot Little Hands

Yesterday I got another UPS delivery. (While fully clothed, thank you. See previous post.) It was a box from Jonathan at Turner, full of books! Unlike the previous review copies, these have my photo on the back. I didn't notice anything about it, but apparently others saw something right away that was...........unexpected. Seems I have a dot between my eyes that isn't on the actual photo. I told the noticer, "Just rub it off. Must be a speck on the book." Didn't work. I slowly walked back to the box and looked at another copy. Yep, it's there too. And the next one, and the next one....... There was nothing to do but laugh. I mean, really. This is NOT a problem, bit it IS funny!

Maybe it will sell well in Hindu communities?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Landmark Booksellers Signing

Here we go! The good people at Turner just set up a signing at my favorite bookstore, Landmark Booksellers, in Franklin. (114 E Main, just off the Square across from St. Phillip's.)


I'm excited to get going, and can think of no better place to start!

*I'm sure it's a good omen that this day is also our 22nd wedding anniversary, and the 26th anniversary of our first date (gag, gag, I know).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Great Day

Yesterday was the signing/book giveaway at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville. It was a gorgeous day, and the plaza was packed. I had a chance to look around and buy some books before my signing, and was glad to see so many people there.

Also there was fellow Turner author Sam Davidson, author of 50 Things Your Life Doesn't Need. Sam's the founder of Cool People Care, and a very funny guy.

I met several people who shared their grief stories with me. One woman who lost her young daughter told me about a thoughtless comment made by a well-meaning friend. "She could have used your book", she told me. A young woman who is a divinity student took a copy and talked about how she hopes she'll be able to comfort people who come to her for help. Several took copies to give as gifts to those who need it.

It was humbling, and wonderful.

Thanks to my friends who stopped by (you know who you are), and special thanks to everyone at Turner.

Just 18 more days.....!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Southern Festival of Books

Each year Nashville hosts all things literary and throws a big old party on the War Memorial Plaza.

The reasons I love this festival (started in '89) are many, but let's hit the highlights, shall we?

*Author sessions are held in the Legislative Plaza hearing rooms underneath the Plaza and in the Senate and House Chambers of the State Capitol. Is it just me, or is that pretty cool?

*It's free.

*This year the festival celebrates the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird.

*The authors of the new Mark Twain biography will be there. As Rachel Zoe would say, "I die."

*I defy anyone to look at the jam-packed 3-day schedule and not find someone/something that interests them. From Irene Kelley singing in the plaza to a reading from Dracula's Guest in the Old Supreme Court Room, you can just walk in and take a seat. And it's here, in Nashville! Free!

I am especially excited to be signing advance copies of Sorry For Your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew on Saturday! Yep, October 9th, from 2-3PM, I'll be in booth 40 just waiting for you. See you there!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Famous Last Words

Most people who have lost someone close to them replay their last moments together over and over in their mind. Sometimes it's in a favorable way, thankful for the chance to say all they needed to say to each other. The survivor may be grateful they were able to care for them, or settle differences before the death. Some relationships are never fully appreciated by either party until death is imminent. The "now or never" aspect casts a new, urgent light on what matters most, and priorities become clear.

Other times we think of everything we did wrong, they did wrong, or what we wish we could change. Often when death is unexpected, comments considered mundane at the time can turn out to be their much-repeated "last words". Those of us left behind can easily read too much into them, and imbue them with importance far beyond the truth. This kind of thinking can torture us.

If I were able to choose, I would like to die like my father-in-law. He had time to wind down, plan and prepare, and then ultimately call everyone to his bedside to say what he wanted to say. Hospice assisted his wife and children as they kept him at home, until he went Home. He was fully present, and spoke to his family, (often asking to speak with one grandchild at a time), neighbors and co-workers with both grace and humor. It was beautiful. He asked for a taste of ice cream, a favorite hymn to be sung, and for one last shave before slipping away late one night.

The problem with this, of course, is we don't get to choose. The obvious solution is to live each day as if it was our last. Can you imagine, though? What if everyone you saw hugged you goodbye as if they would die that night? What if every phone conversation took an hour because of all the "one last thing"s that needed to be said? It's not possible to live that way.

I suppose acceptance is the only answer. What's the alternative, anyway? If we are to live fully, we have to let go. Let go of regrets, what ifs, fears, and yes, even those endless replays of our loved ones' last moments. It's easy (and understandable) to see our lives through the filter of how it would be had they not died, but it robs us of the joy we could be experiencing.

This is your new normal. It's permanently different, and it's not fair, but it's your life. How you live it is up to you. There's a freedom in feeling grateful for the person you loved, but being able to move forward anyway.

I'll leave you with the last words of Karl Marx, to his housekeeper who sat by his bed waiting to write them down for posterity-

"Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Article For Funeral News

Susan Boyle Chooses Her Own Funeral Song

Although only 49, Scottish singer Susan Boyle has revealed the song she would like to have played at her funeral one day. "It would have to be 'Nellie the Elephant'. She packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus. 
You've got to leave them laughing. Funerals don't have to be sad. Peter Sellers made them smile with 'In the Mood' ' so I could do it with 'Nellie the Elephant'."

Boyle went on to say she would like to make the congregation laugh at her funeral when she passes away and thinks the children's novelty track would be the perfect choice to make mourners smile.
Boyle shot to fame last year when her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent became an internet sensation. She later went on to win the competition and release a number one CD, I Dreamed a Dream.

More and more celebrities are reportedly planning aspects of their own funerals, or even the entire ceremony. Actress Brittany Murphy’s husband Simon Monjack died in May 2010, just five months after her unexpected death. He pre-arranged his burial site to be next to his late wife at Forest Lawn in Los Angeles. Music at the service included a recording of Monjack playing piano while Murphy sang.

Reality star Jade Goody began planning her funeral as her cancer worsened. She died in 2009, at the age of 27.

It’s not just for the famous. Many funeral planners report an increase in this type of personal planning. Some clients choose the music they would like played, while others pre-arrange everything about the service from the flowers to the casket to the family’s thank you notes to be sent out afterward.

This growing trend is reflected in the many online sites designed to help people plan their own funerals. It doesn’t have to be morbid. Many of these sites cater to baby boomers who have a sense of humor about the process, and want to keep it light. This is apparent by their slogans. reminds us, “You only get one chance to make a last impression”, and at, they claim to “put the fun back in funeral”.

-Alicia King

Author of Sorry For Your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Review!!

The following just in from Holly Gleason, a social critic, songwriter, pop commentator and music critic whose work has appeared in ROLLING STONE, THE LA TIMES, CREEM, PLAYBOY, THE OXFORD AMERICAN, NO DEPRESSION, HARP, PASTE, THE NY TIMES, HUFFINGTON POST and INTERVIEW, to name a few.

"Grief is so singular, not just to the person, but the individual death, knowing the right thing to do confuses, overwhelms and sometimes even drives those who care away. Alicia King is no stranger to the disorienting pain of losing people she loves -- and that empathy informs a concise, clear how-to book for anyone trying to help someone else cope with a major loss.
"Stressing how different each case is, practical in both adapatability suggestions and insight into the varying forms of grief, Sorry For Your Loss: What People Who Are Grieving Wish You Knew will increase comfort and even more importantly, greatly reduce missteps, faux pas and the awkward feeling of not knowing what to do."
-- Holly Gleason
The Yummy List

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good News, Bad News

I got a song idea while in the shower yesterday and ran downstairs in a towel to grab my guitar. As I hit the final landing, I saw the UPS guy walk up to my porch. (We have window panels that run the length of the front door on both sides.) I immediately turned and ran back up, but it was too late. There was eye contact. Now, you should know I had a huge towel wrapped around me, but still. Awkward. What are the chances musical inspiration would strike right as Mr. What-Can-Brown-Do-For-You arrived?

Obviously, this was the bad news. The good news is what was in the package! The sharp and hard-working (while impossibly young and pretty) Laura Morris (Publicity and Mktg Mgr for Turner Pub) had sent a few advance copies of the book! Like galleys, only bound and same format as the book, they are used to generate interest and for review purposes.

Sure, the title will be different in the final product, but this was tangible proof. It's happening. It's coming out. Maybe people will buy it, read it, talk about it. Talk about grief, and how we can better support each other through it. Exactly what I've been hoping for and working toward.

That just sounds like a big bunch of good news.

P.S. I now keep my guitar upstairs.

Friday, July 23, 2010

None-Too-Subtle Signs

Given the subject matter, it's understandable that my parents have been on my mind more than usual while writing this book. As I write about the grief experiences of others, I often notice similarities to my own. It happens when someone tells me their loved one died without saying goodbye, when I read about people seeing their deceased mother's influence in their own parenting, or when hoping for a sign from the person they've lost. I have to admit, I have asked for this in the past.

Shortly before moving to Nashville, I attended a Steve Seskin songwriting workshop in Reno. I stopped at a diner to eat before it started. My dad had always been very supportive of my music, and I consciously asked him, (he had just died), to let me know he saw I was getting to study with Seskin. I got a SF newspaper on the way in and began to read it once I was seated. To my delight, I went right to a column by Jon Carroll. (My parents were Jon and Carol King!) The subject of the piece was the area where I was born. "Well done, Dad", I thought as I left. Before I could get out the door, however, the manager stopped me to ask how I liked my food. I said, "It was great, thanks." It was only then I noticed his name tag. JON. Spelled without an H and everything. Nice touch.

Another nod from the beyond came last week as I tended to the final details of the book. I needed to secure permission to reprint the lyrics to a song I wrote with Candy Cameron about grief. Candy's publisher would have to grant us permission within a few days, and require no payment. Considering this usually takes months and can cost a tidy sum, my odds weren't great. Still, I had my editor's blessing to give it a shot. "It can't hurt", he said.

After a few phone calls and emails, I was directed to the person in Beverly Hills who handled such requests. Her name? CAROL KING. I'm not kidding. Once again, correct spelling and everything.

Yesterday Carol called to tell me she was granting our request- in record time and at no cost. She also told me how much she misses her parents and wished me luck with the book.

Coincidence? Who knows? I wasn't looking for any validation from my mom when this happened. I couldn't have interpreted this a certain way, to fit my hope or expectation. It's the woman's name! Did all this thinking about her make me more likely to notice her name, or did it allow her to come through? Obviously, I don't have all the answers, but I'm open to the possibilities.

I do know one thing for sure. I know how good it feels when these things happen, and that's real.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Guess What I saw Yesterday?

I dropped by my publisher's offices yesterday to meet with my editor. ("My" publisher, "my" editor. I've become insufferable.) Before I left, the brilliant Steven Cox told me they were working on my cover today and asked if I'd like to see it. Let me see....YES, PLEASE!

I can't describe all the feelings it brought up, seeing this actually happen, but I'm happy to say I neither cried, fainted, nor hugged poor Steven. I called Dan from the parking garage, though. You know, my husband? The man who lives in the emotional-medium? He rarely expresses or demonstrates anything "very". He is my even-tempered opposite, which made his excitement on the phone all the sweeter.

Wednesday may have been my birthday, but yesterday was "my" day.

Friday, July 9, 2010


As I get closer to the book being released, I see the hit counter nearing 3000, with 29 followers. Here's what I propose- since it's difficult to determine who is the 3,000th visitor, I will recognize the next follower instead.

The 30th follower here will win a signed copy of the book. I'll even cover postage. (I know what you're thinking. She's out of control!) I was going to give away a pony, but shipping was such a hassle, and then there were liability issues, etc....

So, if you haven't followed yet, click it!

Good luck!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Club Members?

I was in a book club once. We chose, read and then discussed the books. We formed friendships and encouraged each other to read genres outside our usual favorites. I looked forward to each meeting, whether I'd finished that month's book or not. (I had small children, okay? It wasn't always possible!)

Sometimes, when the book included club discussion points at the end, we'd imagine bringing the author to our meetings. We were a small group in a remote area, though, so that's as far as it went. We never contacted anyone directly. Not even Amy Tan, a group favorite.

How about you? Have you been in a book club? Did you ever host the writer? If so, what did you like/not like about it?

There is a trend now for authors to use skype instead. I love this idea. Would this appeal to you, as a reader? Do you often have questions for the author after reading a book?

Chime in!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The PR Learning Curve

I had a cool assignment earlier this week, and now have questions for you. You see, I just got a crash course in the literary public relations world. My publisher has hired a big-gun PR firm (in NYC, thank you very much) to promote the Good Things to Know series, and I was asked to complete a comprehensive "author questionnaire". I turned it in already, but can't stop thinking about potential media opportunities for the book.

My question to you would be this- where do you see 20 Things to Know When Someone is Grieving being promoted? Is there a TV talk show, talk radio host, newspaper column, blog, website, etc., that comes to mind? I want to hear about it. Where do you find new books? Is there a specific magazine you think would be a good fit for a grief-related piece?

Don't be shy. I know you have ideas. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Harry Earl Lanterman 1918-2010

Earl Lanterman wasn't my real grandfather. He was my husband's mother's dad. The first time I met him though, 26 years ago, he and his wife Rose told me to call them Grandma and Grandpa. "Everyone else does", Rose said.

Grandpa died Saturday. He was 92. He has joined his "Wild Irish Rose."

We live thousands of miles from the rest of the family, so reaching out to my mother-in-law wasn't a simple thing. Thanks to much of what I learned from writing 20 Things, I knew how many of you were comforted by life celebration slideshows. I just finished Earl's.

Thank you.

We love you, Grandpa.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What's Next?

I have been asked this a lot lately. What's next? What will your next book cover? (I love these optimistic questions.)

I answer each time, "Either Grief Stories- 12 people, 12 Losses, or A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral." Grief Stories will be an in-depth look at a dozen life-changing deaths, and how the survivor got through it. The funeral book would look at some of the wild stories I heard while writing 20 Things. I think it's important for families to know that crazy things can go wrong and it won't ruin the service. We put such pressure on ourselves!

I'd also like to say thanks again to everyone who shared their stories with me so far. I wish everything could have been included in 20 Things, but that just wasn't possible. Please know, even if your name's not in the final product, you were heard. Every account affected the book. So, whether your quote is in print or not, you're in there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Know You're a History Geek When......

I reached another milestone in the book process yesterday. I have been wanting to tour the Lotz House for awhile now, so I told myself I could go once I finished this part. It's a Civil War era house that was under fire in the Battle of Franklin.

The house belonged to Johann Albert Lotz, pictured at the top.

From the Lotz House site ( )-
In 1855, German immigrant Johann Albert Lotz purchased five acres of land from Fountain Branch Carter. Three years later in 1858, after doing most of the work himself, Lotz completed his home. By trade, Mr. Lotz was a master carpenter and a piano maker. He also repaired guitars and violins. His home served as his “show house” to demonstrate his carpentry work to potential clients. The three fireplace mantles demonstrate his range from simple to very complex designs.

There are also several battle scars including the charred, rounded indention in the wood flooring where a cannonball flew through the roof, a second story bedroom, and then landed on the first floor and rolled. In addition, the home has an impressive solid black walnut wraparound handrail that starts on the ground floor and wraps all the way around to the second floor.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Okay, So That's One.

The fine folks at Landmark Booksellers agreed to host a book signing!! I will share the details once I know when the book will be released.

Thanks to my favorite bookstore. They share my fascination for all things Fitzgerald, Hemingway and London. They even have a special section for them, which they politely share with Twain.

They feature signed copies of the beautiful coffee table book, Historic Franklin, with photos by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Robin Hood. Stop in and get one.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Edit and Forget It

Yeah, that's right. A Ron Popeil reference. I'm titling a blog post with a mutated infomercial catch phrase. Does that tell you anything? This blogger's on the edge.

I am currently trying to edit the book while collecting the last bits of material I need to make it flow. Flow. Simple word for what's turning out to be a murky concept. My problem is being too familiar with the text. It's not always easy for me to assess it objectively. Thank goodness for my fairy godmother, Joslyne. Her no-nonsense approach and notes like, "This doesn't make sense", or "too long" are exactly what the doctor ordered. She's convinced me she likes the book, so her advice is easily taken.

So, if you see me in the Brentwood library with a serious look on my face, now you know what's up. Shhh, I'm in my editing mode. Move this, cut that, clarify, organize and polish!

Then submit it and hold my breath.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tell Me Again!

I interviewed Lynn Foster this morning. Her son, Matt, died ten years ago.

She talked about the importance of sharing our memories with the family after a loss. "Even if I've heard the story before", Lynn said, "I want to hear it again."

She has moved on and accomplished a great deal since Matt's death. She's a talented artist. She's writing a book. She also sits on the board of Compassionate Friends, a group for parents who have lost a child.

Still, she finds comfort in hearing, one more time, about the time her popular-senior-Matt took a scared, young freshman under his wing at a party.

She adds, "It's nice when you think of something the person did, but it's wonderful to share it with the family. If you have something good to say, that family needs to hear it."

A year later or ten years later, it's never too late. Did you tell them that story already? It doesn't matter.

They want to hear it again.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Ask ten people and get ten definitions. I'll give you an example instead.

My friend Stephanie married a kind and loving man named Jason. They had a little boy just before our daughter was born. Life was good and filled with afternoons at the playground, family dinners and baby milestones. We took the kids trick-or-treating together. Jason worked, wrote and played guitar.


Jason's beloved Uncle Jeff was found dead. He had been part of the group known as Heaven's Gate, near San Diego. It was 1997. Thirty-nine bodies were discovered in the house where they had lived, all wearing purple track suits and new Nikes. Their leader, Marshall Applewhite, had told them they needed to exit their bodies in order to survive. The timing was tied to the Hale-Bopp comet.

As Jason struggled to deal with his uncle's choices and his own grief, the late night shows were full of jokes about the group. Journalists hounded the families, waiting outside their homes with cameras and mics. Jason remembers one well-known anchor in particular. She had become frustrated with their refusal to comment. She told Jeff's brother, "Well, we'll just go with what we have, then, and it's not going to be flattering to your brother."

Curiosity in such a case is understandable. Reporting a major story is expected, but re-victimizing the grieving relatives? This was no shock-talk personality. It was mainstream primetime news. Shameful.

This morning, Jason broke his silence. His insights are sure to help other families who suffer a similar nightmare. For readers needing guidance when reaching out to families of high-profile victims, his words will give you a place to start.

Remember who they were, respect their gifts, honor their memory and their family.

Compassion is always welcome. Jason still remembers the loving words of friend Betty Edgar, "They had good intentions. They just got anxious."

To re-open wounds just to help someone else? That's bravery.

Thank you, Jason.

When someone dies, (other than attending the service), I do this for the family-