Posts Tagged ‘Upstart Crow San Diego’

A library reading in Santee, San Diego

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Today, I read from Mamalita at the Santee Library in San Diego. In the audience were library patrons, museum friends, and adoptive moms (and one dad) whom I met through blogging and the Mamalita page on Facebook. A woman named Paty told me she found Mamalita browsing through the shelves at Upstart Crow, the indie bookstore where I read a week or two earlier.  Paty’s comment made me realize–again–the importance of one’s book being on an actual shelf in a bookstore. I’m learning that’s a hallowed position difficult to achieve, especially for an unknown, first-time author with no track record, such as yours truly.

I read the opening chapter of Mamalita, “The Hotel Lobby.” The story begins during our first visit to Guatemala. Our adoption facilitator brings us the wrong baby, and I describe the scene sitting on a sofa in the lobby awaiting the arrival of the right one. As I got to the part where I spot a bundle of pink blankets across the room that I recognize as Olivia and say “That’s her,” my voice broke and I started to cry.  Reading in public, that’s never happened to me before. But there was something about being in San Diego, among close friends who have known me for so long and shared some of our adoption journey. Everything came back.

It was an emotional beginning to an hour that included thoughtful questions from the audience about Guatemala, adoption, our story, and the process of writing memoir. Afterwards, I shared a delicious lunch with Library Manager Penny Taylor, who wrote a short book review that ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Sunday, November 28. My friend Tomoko took photos of the memorable day, with her snazzy red camera.  Someday soon, I’ll post a few. In the meantime, here’s Penny’s review.

Recommended Reads by San Diego Union-Tribune
Reviewed by: Penny Taylor
Job: Manager at the Santee branch, San Diego County Library.

She recommends: “Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir” by Jessica O’Dwyer (Seal Press: $16.95)

Why: Jessica O’Dwyer and husband Tim Berger knew that adopting their daughter from Guatemala would not be easy. They had done their research, though, and meticulously prepared the required paperwork. When the adoption was delayed, O’Dwyer moved to Antigua to complete the process and to protect her daughter from returning to foster care. Working through the numbing bureaucracy while dealing with greedy adoption agents, the stay stretched to half a year. Despite the strain, the story is told with an obvious respect for indigenous Guatemalan people, arts, and culture and includes descriptions of her travels in Guatemala. I really like the intimacy of this narrative: O’Dwyer shares her personal fears, not only questioning who to trust in this foreign country, but expressing the terror and the joy of being a new mother caring for her baby alone. This is not a maudlin family drama, but a crisply told adventure with a cliff-hanging conclusion.


Reading at Upstart Crow in San Diego

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

My Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir reading on Wednesday night at Upstart Crow felt like a homecoming, with my sister Adrienne and brother-in-law Paul there, as well as pals from every part of the years I lived in San Diego.

The photo here is of me with my dear friend from high school in New Jersey, the actress Julia Fulton, who lives in Southern California; below, I’m with my former neighbor and fellow bicylist Marcia Banks, with Julia in the background. I’m grateful to Marcia for helping me set up the Upstart Crow reading by introducing me to managers Carola Esquino and Bobbie Bagel. The bookstore is charming–check it out next time you’re at Seaport Village. 

Jae Patron and Zeke Mazer (above ) were two of several Crown City Cyclists who attended the reading. Jae and Zeke and I have ridden many, many miles together so it was particularly wonderful to share this new chapter in my life with them and other members of the CCC. Pictured below are the fabulous Synthia Malina and Jini Archibald, like me, moms to two children and former staffers at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and Samantha Goldstein, fellow adoptive mom and creator of the blog, Little Dragon Fruit. Thanks to everyone for coming!


The “Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir” Book Tour

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I’ve added one more venue to the Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir book tour. This one is on the North Shore of Boston, at the Beverly Public Library, 32 Essex Street, Beverly, Massachusetts. The reading takes place on Thursday, December 9, at 7:30 p.m. Details about exact room location will follow. (Thank you, again, Deanna, little sister extraordinaire….) Still working on readings in Iowa City; Durham, North Carolina; and one in the Philadelphia area.

The Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir Book Tour:

Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Book Launch! At Book Passage, Corte Madera.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Upstart Crow Bookstore
Seaport Village
835C West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92110

Reading and signing books in San Diego.

Friday, December 3, 2010 at 10 a.m.
Santee Branch Library
9225 Carlton Hills Boulevard
Santee, CA 92071

Reading and signing books in San Diego’s East County.

Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Writing Mamas Salon
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Reading and signing books at Book Passage with fellow Writing Mamas Cindy Bailey, Jennifer Gunter and Dawn Yun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
Beverly Public Library
32 Essex Street
Beverly, MA 01915

Reading and signing books on Boston’s North Shore.

Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Borders Bookstore-Back Bay-Boston
511 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Reading and signing books in Boston.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011, at 7 p.m.
4022 Rio Grande Boulevard NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107

Reading and signing books in Albuquerque.

Hope to see you at one of these venues soon!


Save the Date for “Upstart Crow”

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

I’ve added another venue to my upcoming Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir book tour: Upstart Crow in beautiful downtown San Diego. The date is Wednesday, November 17 at 7 p.m. If you live in the southland, hope to see you there.

I have my bicycling friends to thank for this one: My former neighbor and fellow Crown City Cyclist (a San Diego bike club), Marcia Banks, told another Crown City cyclist, Carola Esquino about Mamalita. Turns out that Carola is a manager at Upstart Crow. This past summer in San Diego, when Tim rode with the club, she offered to chat with me about a possible reading. Long story short, we set the date.

If you haven’t yet been to Upstart Crow, you are in for an idyllic bookstore experience. The place is charming, cozy, and friendly, with excellent coffee, delicious baked goods, and a tremendous selection of books. With validation, you can get two hours of free parking, too–always a bonus in California.

As a former English major, I should have known the origin of “upstart crow,” but, I confess, I didn’t. The term refers to none other than William Shakespeare. In 1592, the university-educated poet and playwright, Robert Greene, called Shakespeare, then an actor and up-and-coming playwright, an “upstart crow,” implying that Shakespeare had no business believing he could write as well as the “university set.” History sure has proven Mr. Greene wrong on that one (“Robert who?”). Read the whole fascinating story on this Shakespeare website.  

As a side note: I first heard the name of our daughter, Olivia, in high school, when I played the character from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. I’ve loved the name, and Shakespeare, ever since. It’s another reason I’m thrilled to be speaking at Upstart Crow.