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A beautiful spot in the world

By Self-care, The Writing Life, Travel
Well, I'm back to reality after a revitalizing 10 days with women writers in upstate New York. It was such a gift to be able to write and share conversations with these amazing people as part of the Rowland Writers Retreat. Here are a few photos.  The inns are open all year, although summer must be spectacular. Could be that I'll book myself a separate getaway some day to get back to this part of the country. More soon! Don't forget to check out my events page to see what's next. After a school event in Baltimore and some time at home, I'll be off to sunny California! The lovely women of my Rowland RetreatHello!Another view of Rowland HouseThe view from the back porch!Restored school house where we did our yoga practice and other activitiesInside the school houseThe LibraryThe teeniest bankCanadian Geese on Lake Cayuga
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Taking a Creative Breath in Upstate New York

By Self-care, The Writing Life, Travel
I have a strict policy of traveling with only carry-on luggage. But this week, I boarded  a plane with my trusted backpack and a suitcase the size of a small coffin. That’s because I discovered that fat sweaters don’t like cramped quarters – and neither do imaginations. I’ll be needing both for my trip to the Finger Lakes Region of New York, where I’ll be doing a residency at the Rowland Writers Retreat, now in its second year. For ten glorious days, I’ll be living and writing with women whose careers are inspirations to me. This generous residency is fully funded by Pleasant Rowland, founder of American Girl, and by the Rowland Reading Foundation. It's by invitation and it's free for authors, except for the cost of getting to Aurora. My only obligation will be to use the precious time to work on projects that I’ve been thinking about. I will not cook a meal or walk a dog or answer emails or sign-scan-fax anything whatsoever. In short, it will be a godsend, for which I am profoundly grateful. When the invitation came, my first thought was, unbelievably, to decline. There are a million reasons to stay home. Hadn’t I traveled too much for work? Wasn’t this just an indulgence? Couldn’t I write perfectly well in my home space? Not to mention Tía Isa at the nursing home; who would sponge bathe her or change her diapers on Sundays when the staff is thin? And there was the dog walking,...
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Where in the World? My quick trip to the UK and Ireland

By Self-care, Travel
Baked beans for breakfast. The Queen's stunning coach. Cliffs and castles. Sheep, sheep, sheep. I’m getting ready to head out to the Texas Book Festival this week, but I wanted to post some shots of our time in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Galway. The trip was a feast for the eyes, particularly volcanic Edinburgh, my favorite, which looks and feels like Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series. We always talk about the influence of place on an author. I can't think of a better example than J.K. Rowling and the world she created for us. We stayed in 700 year-old Dalhousie Castle, just outside the city, which has been restored to a hotel and spa, complete with the dining room in the dungeon.    The inside of our hotel at the Dalhousie Castle A view in Edinburgh Oh Edinburgh…I could wander these streets forever But really, there were treasures in every city. Some highlights: We stayed in the Kensington neighborhood at the Ashburn Hotel, a 38-room boutique hotel around the corner from the Gloucester Road underground station, which made getting around the city very easy. On our first outing, we emerged at Parliament Square to find hordes of people. What was happening? London was was waiting for Queen Elizabeth II to ride by on her way to Parliament as part of the Brexit discussions.  Like most tourists, we cued up for the Churchill war rooms and the next day at the Tower of London, with all its chilling history...
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Travel like an author

By Appearances, Self-care, The Writing Life, Travel
It’s been eleven years since I started my life in publishing, and in that time, one of the biggest changes has been the amount of travel I do. There was a time in my life when I traveled for vacations – and most of those locations were within driving distance. Fast forward a decade, and now I’m often on the road every week, particularly during heavy conference times in the spring and fall. Between now and the end of November, I'll visit about a dozen cities. It’s joyous because of the interesting people I meet and the communities I get to learn about.  In 2020, for example, I'll go to Shanghai and Hawaii for author visits, places I could only have dreamed about earlier. But despite those plusses, business travel can also be a grind. Crowded airports, canceled flights, strange hotel rooms and time away from your family and routines are tough on the mind and body when you have to do it long-term. How to survive? I’ve invested in TSA Precheck to minimize the hassle of screening lines, and I can safely say that the cushy Delta Skylounge has been worth the investment for the free food and comfort that it provides when I've had it up-to-here on a frustrating travel day. But there are also smaller purchases I’ve made along the way that have made life easier. For all you bookish travelers out there, here’s my survival kit. Luggage Travel Pro Luggage* Invest in one good piece of...
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