Book Club Guide for The Long Awakening: a Memoir

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

Some readers have been asking if there's a book club guide for my memoir The Long Awakening. Now there is. If your club has chosen my book, please tell everyone I said Thank You! I'm honored.

Click below to download the free Reader's Guide. It's also permanently available for download under "Useful Things" on the homepage menu.

The Long Awakening Book Club Guide

Is your book club reading my book?

Spread the Word and Get Some Perks


There are a few more spots available on The Long Awakening Launch Team for those who'd like to help get the word out about my new memoir, and receive a few things as well.

As part of the team, you'll get:

  • free hardcover or electronic copy of The Long Awakening.
  • To be part of the strategic planning team for a national book campaign.
  • Access to a private Facebook group to connect with other team members, me, and my marketing and publicity team at my publisher.
  • A one hour group consultation for those interested in writing and publishing.

Team members agree to:

If you'd like to be part of the team sign up here.

Thanks so much,


An Invitation to Join The Long Awakening Launch Team


So many of you have told me that you’re reading my new memoir, The Long Awakening. This means the world to me. I worked on this book for ten years and for it to finally be out in the world drenches me in joy and grace and gratefulness. I wrote it because I had to; some books cannot stay inside you. When I write I immerse myself in the story, the craft, the shape and heart of it, with utter honesty, working, bleeding, to find what the story is supposed to be.

When I’m done creating and have worked to make a little bit of art to the best of my ability,  and finally, finally launch it out into the world I have one thought.

It’s for you.

The book is no longer mine, but for you to take from it what you will. The act of writing is for me, but what it becomes is yours.

To those of you who’ve read it, want to, or have supported it in any way, I want to say thank you again and again until my voice and heart are raspy from the saying.

Would you like to be part of my launch team?

Staying put in front of my computer and behind my pen to work on new projects holds appeal, but now it’s time to join my publisher in sharing this book with others.

If you’d like to actively help spread the word about The Long Awakening and be part of the book launch team with some free gifts and special opportunities, sign up below for more details and to join the team. Limited space is available.

Click here for more details and to sign up.

This is my heart book. I will always write, but I’ll never live another story like this, God willing.



On Meeting My Two Month Old Infant

A person should never have to try to remember when they were introduced to their baby. Should never have to meet their newborn only to find the baby is no longer a newborn, but is now a  two month old tiny person. Of course, one should never have to sleep for 47 days either.  

"There's still so much I'm unclear about even now, years later, so much I'll never know, like layers and layers of baby Swiss cheese, holes lapping over substance, but when peeled apart, you still find holes. I keep doing what any good reporter trying to keep at a story does--as new questions in an old story surface, go back to your primary source. So much later I do.

"Tim, remember the day you first brought Caroline to me after I woke up?" I've called him at work because I'm trying to remember this and I'm unclear when exactly it happened. It's a memory floating, without context, and I need him to ground it for me. "She was wearing a red outfit. Sharon handed her to me. What day was that? Was it October 15th?"

"Well, there were two days. Which one do you mean?"

"Two days?"

"Can we talk about this tonight?"

"Sure, but you remember?"

"Yeah, but I don' have time right now to explain it."

I hang up feeling a little like when you get to the end of a chapter in the book you're reading and you get one question answered only to have another question raised, so you turn one more page because you really want to know what happens, except you have to stop reading now because it's time to fix dinner or the house is on fire or something and you're a little irritated because this unanswered question's still hanging out there and you want to read a little longer but you can't. I have a single memory of waking from unconsciousness and being presented with my baby. And now there are two days, another page to turn, another layer of Swiss to peel back.

-Excerpted from my memoir The Long Awakening.

My new memoir cover!

My new memoir, The Long Awakening, has been a long time coming, and it launches on October 1st! Here's my new cover.

As soon as I saw this final design I grabbed the phone and called my publisher, smiling, my heart beating a little faster, to tell them I loved it. They captured the feel, and the metaphor, of my story with an image.

Seeing the art that will wrap around the words that are shaped into story, makes it real—an idea is about to become tangible. I can finally picture my words in readers hands as a physical thing, a story that has lived in me and I've wrestled out of me for ten years (yes, TEN years, but that's another story).

I just thought I'd share what this book is finally going to look like.










Avoiding a Narrative Nonfiction Writing Shipwreck

I’m going to tell you about a book writing screw-up I made. A quasi-catastrophe. Don’t you hate it when you realize you should have done something differently and now it’s going to cost oodles of sweat equity to go back to the task and try again? Mental sweat and untold work. It feels a lot like failure.

When I wrote my memoir I wanted to intertwine factual information into the narrative. I did some of this as I wrote, but I got so focused on telling and structuring the story, that I started just making notes of where I wanted to add my researched information and kept writing the narrative with the intention of going back later to add the bulk of the “hard info.” Um, big mistake.

A carpet pounding, self-loathing, three-boxes-of-Kleenex mistake.

The task of facing all the journalism threads I wanted to include and trying to figure out how to weave them into the narrative afterwards was daunting. The hard information needed to be seamless within the story, unobtrusive, folded in, like whipped egg whites into angel food cake batter. Writing the draft and reworking the theme and dramatic narrative structure was hard enough. Trying to do this at this point in the writing was overwhelming, adding the egg whites after the cake had begun to bake. Which overwhelmed me. Made me grab the three boxes of Kleenex.

It seems so clear now. I think the best method would have been to have the hard info, the research, as well as the narrative reporting done very early and married them as I wrote. Why, oh why, didn’t I do this?

At some point though, you have to stop pounding carpet and get on with things.

I reminded myself that my nonfiction narrative involved extensive interviewing skills, meticulous organizing, a dedication to journalistic integrity and veracity by comparing facts and dialogue against different people interviewed, and so on. I also reminded myself there’s no “right” way of writing anything. Methods and work flow vastly differ.

In fact one of the most interesting books about how literary journalists do what they do and the myriad ways they do it is called The New New Journalism: Conversations with America’s Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft. Just reading how Susan Orlean, Gay Talese, and Ted Conover attack their work encourages me to learn better ways of approaching my own writing while giving myself permission to work the way that’s best for me.

We have to work with what we’ve got at the time. Maybe a more journalistic work is for another book. Maybe part of the answer lies in leaving out much of what I thought I wanted to include and only putting in what’s absolutely necessary to the theme and resolution going with just enough hard info to make the dramatic narrative work. Um, duh.

Maybe this was the best route after all.

And maybe, no absolutely, in the future I’ll try to adopt lessons from those whose craft and methods I admire, and give myself lots and lots of grace.