First things first... thank you to Powell's for letting me blab for five days about female friendships. It's an honor to be here!
The timing for my guest blog couldn't have been better, actually. You see, I just returned last night from a bookstore tour, what I like to call the West/Midwest leg, which included wonderful independent bookstores in Denver and Chicago.
Since an anthology is a group effort, and the stars are the 36 contributors, my role in these events is to act as the M.C./host/bringer-together-er for the writers. While I was excited to hang out with these seven contributors, what I didn't expect was that there was going to be a whole lot of bonding going on in the audience too. Some female-friendship highlights:
* Jill Rothenberg, pictured below with me (Jill was my editor for my first two anthologies, Woman's Best Friend and Cat Women), wrote to her friend Melissa in the book. Her letter is about how the one thing that brought them together (their uber-athleticism) turned out to come between them. The reading actually served as a rekindling of their friendship, which had been faltering lately, and it was amazing to see Jill read the letter as Melissa sat front and center listening.
* Dimity McDowell wrote a hysterical letter to her childhood imaginary friend, apologizing for dissing her for the cool crowd in middle school. Since she wrote a lot about her childhood, it was fitting that her two sisters were in the audience and were moved by her honesty (Dimity also got lots of laughs with her self-deprecating humor).
* Bevin Wallace, who wrote a "rock on, sister" tribute to her childhood BFF that she lost touch with, made her reading a bonding family affair, complete with her husband and two children in attendance — and last but not least, her sister Heather, the events maven at the Tattered Cover bookstore where we read.
* Shannon Hyland-Tassava traveled from Minnesota for just one night in Chicago. While her letter was addressed to her frenemy whose belittling comments on her mothering choices meant the death of their friendship, she also clearly has great friends in her life. Case in point: Her BFF V., who flew from Texas just for one night to support Shannon for the reading. Wow!
* Judy Sutton Taylor didn't leave a dry eye (including both of mine) when she read to her friend who died in the Lockerbie bombing. When the audience saw her sniffling and eyes tearing up, they followed suit — little did we all realize that she was just suffering an allergy attack! Still, her moving story made the entire audience bond and pass the Kleenex, and I noticed many introducing themselves to her afterwards.
* Margaret Littman, who wrote a letter to her ex-boyfriend's wife to explain why she's not a threat, actually had moved from Chicago to Nashville since the last time I had seen her. Therefore, the reading for Margaret was a reunion of sorts with her Chicago buddies, including Judy, her great pal. It was cool to witness Margaret's reunion, all coming together because of the book!
* Anna Cox also had a reunion in Chicago, as she also used to live in the Windy City (she now lives in Virginia). Anna's letter is about her Best Toxic-Shock Thinking Friend, a witty shout-out to her "bad news" buddy. During the reading, I found myself noticing a woman who was nodding and smiling a lot (I always appreciate those audience members!). Turns out, she was Anna's friend, Susan, who had come up from Bloomington IL just for the reading. Afterwards, Anna invited me to dinner with her friends, and I ended up sitting across from this mysterious smiling audience member. She had me in tears with her hysterical personality and I gained a new buddy that night.
So there you have it. Sisterly bonding, friendships rekindling, new friendships forming, buddies going to extra lengths to support their friends, and plenty of tears shed (many of them mine!).
And I haven't even begun to discuss my own reunions thanks to the book and to... wait for it... Facebook. More on that tomorrow... thanks for reading!