Eating, Writing, Reading, Flying

March 25, 2015 § 6 Comments

I am kind of like this right now:



There’s a LOT going on with work, there’s a LOT going on with book stuff, and there’s a LOT going on just with life in general. It feels a little like zooming down the highway on a turbo-boosted electric scooter at 100mph with my eyelids taped open and my hair on fire, but it’s all good.

Part of what’s making this spring so busy is a string of travel dates for work/fun, which, although it’s kind of exhausting, I really enjoy. The first thing I always plan after the plane ticket is the dining, because I love trying new food and eating like locals eat. (Unless locals eat raw bird feet or celery pie, in which case, terribly sorry, but fuck that, locals.) Nothing caps off a long day like an awesome dinner. My family and I ate our way through DC last week, and now I’m eating lettuce and ice cubes until I get to Portland this weekend, at which point I’ll shift back into pasta-and-wine gear.

Speaking of which: Making dinner has long been my relaxation ritual when I’m home. Lately though, suppertime around here has been an episode of The Crazy Show. Well . . . maybe more like The Lazy Show. I told my editor at the New York Times I was thinking of trying one of those dinner-kit-in-a-box plans just to make things easier and bring back the fun, and she said, “DO IT” and also “WRITE ABOUT IT.” So I did. (I tried several, actually. Because if I’m going to eat my way through an assignment, I’m for goshdarn sure going to be thorough about it. *Hiccup*) Here’s the result of that little experiment —

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 11.40.04 AM


Anyway, thanks for clicking over to take a look, if you’re so inclined. More on the travel and the book and all manner of other inanity later. Meanwhile, please enjoy new penguins every week. (Did you see there’s finally an animated one?) Thanks!

An Interview with Press Publish

March 10, 2015 § 1 Comment

Thanks, Press Publish, for this interview — it was fun. And I’m very much looking forward to speaking in Portland in a couple of weeks. (I’m not much of a conference person, usually, but if you use WordPress for anything, you might want to look into this. It’s just a single day; the passes aren’t expensive and come with free site upgrades; and the WordPress people have crammed so many really useful sessions into the day. Plus… hey, Portland. Join us, won’t you?)

Speaker Spotlight

(Read more here.)

(Read more here.)

Get your tickets here if you want to go!

Fancy or Casual? A Ladyperson’s Guide to All Occasions

March 6, 2015 § 17 Comments

From the ad pages of your favorite magazines come these simple instructions. Just follow along, and you’ll always make the right decision.

* * *

1. BE FANCY WHEN you make an exit.


Even a simple prison break is cause for dolling up a bit. Before you run away along the drainage ditch, take a moment to plan your outfit. Pair leather with lace, and don’t forget a darling ankle boot to show off your Shawshanks.

* * *

2. BE FANCY WHEN you want a promotion.


Dress for the job you want, ladies: the job of the British taxicab driver who goes home at the end of every day and dumps a bag of cash on her bed and rolls around in it, because she’s the highest earning lass on wheels and she’s got the satin slacks to prove it.

* * *

3. BE CASUAL WHEN you need to reach group consensus.


Speaking of the workplace… You won’t get anywhere by intimidating people. When you need everyone on your side in today’s budget meeting, here’s what to do: pass up the power suit, skip the bra, and head straight to the boardroom in the clothes you wore to feed the reptiles on your luxury snake farm this morning. Lean in and chill out.

* * *

4. BE FANCY WHEN you watch a solar eclipse.


Staring into the sun isn’t for the weak — or the weakly dressed. Show everyone you’re serious about your bright future. After all, this is no mere folly for you. You’re going to start a colony in outer space one day.

* * *

5. BE FANCY when you’re dying of consumption.


First impressions make an impact, but last impressions make memories. Before you hack a final tubercular cough into your handkerchief, throw on a sassy damask frock, some knee-highs, and a bitchin’ pair of clogs. Who knows — you might attract one last suitor. Go out with a bang, girl.

* * *

6. BE CASUAL WHEN you undertake personal maintenance.


Helpless? Nuh-uh. High maintenance? I don’t think so. Don’t be one of those bimbos in the blowout chair letting someone else take charge of your wash-dry-set for the week. DIY stands for Do It Yourself and Dudes Idolizing You. Cut your own hair with the nearest pair of scissors or a steak knife, throw on a blazer, and arrange that fringed bag right over your crotch for just the right amount of mystery. That’s leadership.

* * *

7. BE FANCY WHEN you’re waiting your turn.


Patience is a virtue, but virtue can be sooooo boring. While you’re waiting for your diving instructor to finish up with the student before you, catch his eye with your Sexy Baby Bluebird getup. A smudge of waterproof eyeliner, color-coordinated heels, and a go-anywhere clutch complete the look. They say you’ve got killer instincts, and they’re right. This’ll drown ’em every time.

* * *

8. BE FANCY WHEN you dole out vengeance.


The last thing this mobster you kidnapped will see before he gets tossed off a bridge is you, so now’s not the time to phone it in. A gold stiletto, a versatile black legging, and a bold pleather halter prove you’re a hit-woman with a sense of occasion. Before you slam the trunk, hike up one leg and send that gangster off to his beautiful forever with a look at your groin. It’s a doom with a view.

* * *

9. BE FANCY WHEN you entertain for family and friends.


Make your camel’s birthday special. Because he only turns 7 once.

* * *

10. BE FANCY WHEN even when it hurts.


If you’re going to herniate a disc, do it in a way that highlights your best features: a toned shoulder, a brightly colored lip, and a magnificently rounded backside. This classic sheath says “timeless,” while the contemporary print says “I will never ever ever get old.” Age is our enemy, ladies, and we must go down fighting like the rockstar bitches we are.

* * *

11. BE CASUAL WHEN you take in a bit of culture.


Nonchalance is the name of the game when you and your homies set out to enjoy a day at the museum. If your group can go matchy-matchy with colors, even better. DON’T: Put a cocktail dress with your sneakers like Regina on the far left. (Jesus, Regina, act like you’ve been here before.) DO: Sport some Pippi braids and scowl for all you’re worth. See you on the steps after brunch, everyone but Regina.

* * *

12. BE FANCY WHEN you’re a guest.


Take note: Everyone attending this town’s lingerie bullfighting festival is nailing it. Notice the attention to detail — the corsetry, the elegant chignons, the fans that are both functional and attractive. Even the matador is pitch-perfect in his peel-down brocade onesie. Wave that pink satin cape in celebration of yourself, Señora, because you have aced Festive Events 101. A+

* * *

13. BE CASUAL WHEN you’re feeling conflicted.


You’re no simple starfish, no ma’am. You’re a sun-kissed boatload of bodacious contradictions. For example: your bottom half wants to dig for sexy sandcrabs while your top half hankers to cozy up by a fire. The solution? Go casual and mix it up a bit. A modest everyday sweater in a silk-cotton blend, paired with a slim-cut ass bungee in the same color. Swimming or snuggling? Surfing or curling up with a good book? Forget this “or” nonsense — it’s time to embrace the “AND.”

Remember: The world is your sandcastle, and you’re the queen. Rule it.

* * *

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 8.04.37 AMSpeaking of outfits:

Thanks to US Weekly for adding me to the Fashion Police force alongside my buddies Wendi Aarons and Gloria Fallon. (Look for my captions in the back of the magazine next time you’re getting a pedicure or waiting in a long grocery line.) I shall carry the badge with pride.

What I Know About Portland (Is Not Much)

March 3, 2015 § 14 Comments

I’ve never been to Portland. In fact, I’ve never been to Oregon at all. But I’m going there in a few weeks, so I thought I’d do a little research.

Put a bird on it? Why, yes indeed. You know how I feel about putting birds on things.

Also, I think Portland’s approach to mixology will provide some excellent research opportunities for Dagger & Dill.

Just kidding. I know basically nothing about Portland other than that there’s a great big indie bookstore there. Powell’s is at the top of my list to visit. What else should I know about Portland? Is it cold? What should I pack? I do know it’s not a quick trip to get there from where I live, so I’ll be spending some quality time in airports, which is excellent, because it gives me a chance to indulge in one of my favorite hobbies:

It occurs to me that once I get there, I’ll be meeting people in person with whom I normally only interact by email, so really, this is a chance for reinvention. I could be anyone. I could adopt an interesting accent, like this:

Or I could be like, “What? Oh no, I’m a cat. You didn’t know?”


And then when the people are like, “WHAT. That’s not a cat. You must be a baby hippo,” I can go, “Ohhhh, no, actually, that is a common mistake. I’m just a very smooth cat. I thought you knew.” The point is, I have options.

Anyway, here’s the reason I’m going: There’s a new event is launching this year, a conference series called Press Publish, and the debut gathering takes place in Portland on March 28. I’m tremendously grateful that WordPress has invited me to speak at the first-ever Press Publish event. Since I started this site three years ago and decided to use WordPress to build it, I’ve been so touched and impressed by the support I’ve received from the people behind the platform. So yes, WordPress, I’ll go wherever you ask me to go. Let’s do this.
Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 12.45.39 PM

The sessions and speakers at Press Publish will cover all sorts of badass stuff — from how to create a podcast (I’m going to that one) to how to trick out your site with widgets and features — plus Q&A with leaders in various fields about how their sites have enhanced or transformed their work in travel, cooking, publishing, entrepreneurship, etc. I’ll be doing a talk called “Going Public,” about how I tried to keep my weird sense of humor and my professional identity totally separate for a while. (It didn’t really work.) It’s a topic I’m raising on the Press Publish site this week, too, so please chime in if you have any experiences or opinions to share.

See you in Portland!

PS: If any of that stuff sounds nifty to you and you want to go to Press Publish for FREE, they’re giving away a free pass to the conference. Just tweet: “Put a bird on it, @Press_Publish and @WhenIBlink” (The “@WhenIBlink” part is me. The “@Press_Publish” part is the conference’s Twitter feed; don’t forget the little underscore _ thing.) First person to do it gets a free ticket!

Anonymous Blogging

March 2, 2015 § 2 Comments

When I Blink:

More about this tomorrow… but for now: If you have a blog where you talk about your life, your work, your family, your friends, etc., please do chime in on the conversation happening on the Press Publish site this week. Do you go anonymous? Are you 100% you? Somewhere in between? Here’s the question up for discussion this week:

Originally posted on Press Publish:

Let’s talk about what it means to be anonymous. Incognito. Unknown.

Sometimes anonymity enables freedom. I’ve read blogs and articles where authors remain anonymous because they don’t feel they can risk having their names associated with what they’ve written, and some of that personal writing is brave and beautiful and amazing.

Other times, going anonymous is a real wuss move. Commenting online, for instance, is a scenario in which anonymity can breed nasty behavior. People feel protected behind their screens, so they type things they’d never dream of saying out loud to someone’s face.

When I started my first blog, I did it without my name attached. I’m a professional writer, and at the time I started blogging, I did not want my clients to discover that when I was taking a break from, say, ghostwriting a book about cancer, I was posting send-ups of fashion ads and bizarro jokes about whatever popped into my…

View original 136 more words

Inner Dialogues: Travolta & Friends

February 23, 2015 § 12 Comments

What was he thinking?

What were they thinking?


(Click play to hear audio.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 12.20.01 PM


Hey, Who Wants a Weird Autograph?

February 10, 2015 § 9 Comments

You know how it’s kind of funny when you ask your phone strange questions and Siri answers? Or when you speak into a sound-altering app just to hear words like “I like monkey riblets for breakfast” come back at you in a robot voice?

I am delighted to let you know that you can now have that experience on paper. Here’s how:

PwPP_Cover_OfficialPenguins with People Problems is officially now available for pre-order. Pub date is June 2, which means you can’t actually get it in your hands before then, but you can place an early order now. Why do pre-orders matter? Well, I’ll let this author tell you, because I think Tony Earley did a nice job of explaining it. The point is: Lots of pre-orders mean a stronger opening week for the book, and that’s a really good thing.


It’s very easy. You can pre-order a book anywhere you normally buy books. I might suggest one of these ways:

1. indieboundWalk into your local real-live bookstore and tell a human bookseller you want to pre-order it. Your bookstore is there to serve your community and if you want it to stay open — if you want to live in a place that has a bookstore — you gotta buy your books there. So do it, and tell your booksellers I said hi. (Not sure where the nearest store is? Go to and they’ll find it for you!) –>


2. If you don’t have a local bookstore, you can borrow this one: Parnassus Books in Nashville. The best part is, I actually work in this awesome little indie shop, so any pre-orders that come through here will be physically touched by me! I MIGHT LICK YOUR BOOK! Just kidding, I would never lick a book. But I will very happily autograph it and inscribe it in any way you like, at no additional charge.

That’s right, I said any way you like. You want your name in it? I’ll personalize it. You want someone else’s name? I’ll inscribe it as a gift and think up something nice to say. You want 10 little smiley faces? You got it. You want a dirty limerick about corn? Try me. I will write anything you want me to write, in as many books as you want.

All you have to do is write your request in the “comments” section at checkout, like this: 


You just type something here, and I’ll write it in my own handwriting. It’s almost as fun as making Siri say bad words.

Think you might want a bunch of copies as a fun summer gift to your book club or to play book-Jenga with? In that case, just email and ask. Sometimes, if a book is being ordered in bulk, you can get a nice little discount.

You can also pre-order from the links here, and that’s OK, too — whatever floats your merry little boat:


The point is: If you like to look at the world through penguin-colored glasses, or if you know someone who might, spread the word! (But if you hate penguins who go to work and have friends and wear outfits and embarrass themselves, then fine. I’ll be back to posting weather reports soon.)

And if you’re reading this, you were probably around when this whole goofy penguin thing started. This is happening because of you. Thank you.


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