The Unintended Consequence of All My Beer Talk

I write about beer a lot. It’s become this thing that people sort of know about me, which is great. I love that folks are reading my Books & Brews posts or articles/interviews in which I’ve mentioned my love of craft beer. But there’s this one little unintended consequence of my very open, very frequent, and very public profession of beer-love that’s been nagging at me lately.

Here are two scenarios that occur with surprising regularity: 1) someone says “I was going to bring beer, but I would have NO idea what to bring you,” when arriving at my house for  dinner/a party/hamburgers on the patio; 2) I’m told “Sorry, we only have *insert non-craft beer brand*,” when I’ve been invited to someone else’s home for dinner/a party/hamburgers on the patio. I’d like to take a moment today to assuage all these fears people have about serving me beer: Continue reading

Mortar & Stone

At a concert last weekend, Jill Phillips’ introduced her song Mortar and Stone by explaining that she had written it about friendship. About how walking through life, especially the stormiest parts of it, is easier with others by your side. There were two women in front of me. One of them reached over and grabbed the other’s hand. They were both wearing hats, one of them was red. My writer’s imagination decided that Red Hat had survived cancer. That was their stormy part. Of course, this could be the furthest thing from the truth. Maybe they just like hats. Maybe they have both always been perfectly healthily. But whatever it was, there was a bond there, the same one that Jill was singing about on stage. The mortar was strong. Continue reading

The Long and Winding Road


I attended the James River Writers Conference for the very first time in 2006. I was just beginning to explore this idea that perhaps I could write something (hesitant to call myself a writer). I was working on my first story (hesitant to call it a novel). Last weekend, nine years later, I attended the conference as a writer who has written two novels and two novellas. I taught a master class, moderated two panels and participated on a third. I was busy preparing to speak and speaking and meeting other authors that I “knew” only in the online world, and so, as often happens in the most significant moments in life, I missed the gravity of this weekend until well after it was over. Continue reading

Riverboats & Irony


One of my favorite neighborhood restaurants recently hosted a riverboat dinner cruise. They rented an old school steamboat and we travelled a few miles up the river, then turned around and headed back to enjoy a night view of the city skyline. They served delicious food (macaroni and cheese, spicy potato salad, steamed shrimp, oysters, black bean salad, an amazing s’mores inspired dessert, etc.). Along with some of their most popular cocktails and some summery wine and beer. There was also dancing. Continue reading

Pull Up a Chair

James River Writers, the local organization for writers that I’m part of, asked members to blog about a favorite memory or a little bit about how we got involved with the group this month. When I sat down to think about this, so many great things came to mind. Late night, post event chats with fellow writers over tacos. Fancy monthly happy hours at the Jefferson about writing and life with acquaintances turned friends (hello, Wednesday wine specials and pimento cheese). Lunch meetings you don’t want to end because, holy awesomeness, you are releasing your amazing memoir with how many prestigious reviews next month and yet, you love BLTs as much as me?! Continue reading


I remember reflecting on my college experience some months after graduation and coming to the profound realization that the past four years had probably been the only time in my life I would have the benefit of being surrounded by hundreds of my peers.  Perhaps even more profound, not only were they my peers, but we were all basically in this thing together.  Most of us were away from home for the first time.  The majority of us lived in the same residence halls, ate in the same dining hall, attended many of the same classes.  Connecting was easy.  You could talk about the crazy old heating system that pinged and bumped and thumped all night.  You could go on about the amazing stuffed shells/grilled cheese/lemon meringue pie/soft serve ice cream.  You could dream up reasons as to why that one professor wore turtlenecks literally all the time.

Outside of this bubble, I realized quickly you have to work a little harder.  You have to search around for those common denominators.  Accepting the fact that sometimes they just don’t exist, relishing the moments in which they do, and savoring those times when things just come together.

Several weeks ago over happy hour at a bar in our neighborhood the manager asked my husband and I if we would like to come to an event on the 15th to try out some items on their new menu.  We marked our calendars and showed up last night, having no idea what to expect.  What we found ourselves in the midst of was an “eat and tweet” event, where we were treated to small plates of selected appetizers, entrees and a dessert (the details of which can be found in my Twitter feed, obviously).

We chose seats at a table with another couple.  Within a few minutes of chatting, it was clear that they belonged to the same local facebook group for craft beer lovers as my husband.  Then, I noticed that right at the top of my Twitter feed, someone I follow was tweeting from the same event.  I had a chance to meet her at the end of the evening.   Those two things alone would have made it a near magical night of connections, but there was more.  One of the people who works in the office space right across from the restaurant, stopped by to introduce himself.  I walk by their office, most of which is large windows, twice a day on my way to and from work.  We laughed at the coincidence of being on the same side of the glass.  Today I waved as I walked by.

It’s these experiences that keep us working towards connections.  That keep us telling our stories and listening to other’s.  Encourage us towards bringing the virtual into reality.  Towards taking a moment to introduce ourselves.

And truly, when you really think about it,  aren’t the rewards sweeter, perhaps more magical somehow when they aren’t so easy to come by?