Some thoughts on traveling to Bucharest.

Some things are great about living in the Middle East and one is definitely easy access to the rest of the world – especially parts of the world I wouldn’t usually go to.  Case in point, Bucharest.  I made plans a few months back to meet up with a friend, and unlike my usual travel style, I didn’t do a lot of research or planning beforehand.  In the end, it wasn’t really necessary – the city is very laid back.

So, let’s jump in with first impressions and suggestions!

1. Poem Boem (Airbnb booking)  The trip started on a very high note as we checked into the best Airbnb property I’ve ever stayed at.  The 2 bedroom was massive, quiet, well appointed and due to the heat, I was very glad to have the fully functioning aircon.  I would recommend anyone traveling to Bucharest to book this apartment.  As a bonus, the owners suggested a wonderful driver to collect me from the airport.  Alberto was professional and easy to work with throughout the trip.


2. Simbio At the recommendation of the tour we were on, we stopped into this charming place to have lunch.  I loved all the fresh ingredients and the location was very chill.  I would think about coming back to check out the bar downstairs.


3. Interesting Times Bureau A company that bills itself as ‘alternative guided tours’ was a highlight of the trip.  My friend and I opted for the Hidden Gems tour, which showcased a number of interesting places around Bucharest.  It was hot, but it was definitely worth it.  There are other tour options, which I would be interested to check out on a return visit.

We saw other stuff, but these doggies were a highlight.

4. L’Atelier At the recommendation of a chef friend of my friend, we decided to end our trip with dinner at this restaurant, located in the charming (and centrally located) Hotel Epoque.  There was almost too much good food to choose from and each of our dishes was not only delicious but also gorgeous to look at.

Who knew stuffed squid could look so pretty?

5. Carul Cu Bere While I wasn’t super impressed with the food or the slow service, I would go back simply for the Papanași and the atmosphere.  This is a top rated experience for a reason.  It’s a place to be a tourist and eat and drink.

And many noms were had.

6. Cărturești Carusel I’m up to visit any fancy bookstore, so this was a fun visit.  As a writer, even if most of the books were in Romanian, I still enjoyed walking through the cleanly designed space.


I felt my four nights cut things a bit short, and definitely wished for more time.  Have you ever been to Bucharest?  What was your impression?

Life After Joe: Book Club Questions

I did this exercise with Room 702 and although I’m fairly certain no one read it, I thought I would try again.  I am nothing if not an optimist.  Also, for the first time in my publishing experience, I’ve included these questions at the end of the book – kind of a little bonus piece for my readers.  FYI – while these give some indication of themes and characters in the book, there are no true spoilers.

Shall we get started then?

1.  Given loss and grief are a universal experience, how did you find the portrayal of these emotions in the book?

2.  If you were in a similar situation (hypothetically), what would you do?  Would you react similarly to Liz?

3.  In your opinion, what was the most meaningful interaction Liz had during her journey on the road?

4.  With the introduction of Adrian back into Liz’s life, do you agree with her choices?  What would you have done?  Is Liz ‘allowed’ this happiness?

5.  At the end of the book, do you think Liz is still running from her loss?

6.  While Joe is unexpectedly taken away from Liz, do you think it is more difficult to copy with the sudden death of a family member, rather than having the chance to prepare yourself for their passing (as the case might be in a prolonged illness)?

7.  Hollywood time!  Who would you cast in the lead roles of Liz, Joe and Adrian?

8.  How different do you think the book would be if Liz and Joe had a child or children together?  Would Liz have been able to work through her grief in the same way?

9.  Liz knew that Joe wouldn’t mind being cremated after his death, have you thought about what will happen to you?  How do you want your memory to be honored?

10.  What do you think of Stephen’s actions?  Is he justified?  Did you think there was a possibility he and Liz could have made things work?

11.  Liz identified herself primarily as Joe’s wife and a teacher, to what extent are we defined by the people we know and love? How would we be different without them?  What impact did she have on other’s lives?

12.  Given her loss, does an awareness of mortality affect the attitudes and decisions of Liz?

13.  What’s your favorite kind of ice cream?

Buy the Book: Life After Joe

The other post was so fun, I thought I’d do a similar one (still inspired by this post).

1. Kia Soul (starting msrp $15,190) Getting Liz safely around the country, here is the version I imagined her driving around in.


2. Ice Cream ($3.97 for pint)  One of Liz’s favorite things on earth, ice cream has a mention in almost every chapter.


3. Urn (prices vary) After an incident in an early chapter, Liz is forced to choose another final resting place for her dead husband, Joe.

4. Ouija Board ($19.07) Somewhat reminiscent of Room 702, there is another scene involving main characters and a Ouija board. What? Author’s can have objects they like to use.


5. Dinner at Hakkasan (Las Vegas) (prices vary) After a long visit with Aunt Suze in Nevada, Liz treats them to a final dinner together.

6. Burberry Cotton 3-Piece Set ($200) When Liz visits her (surprise) pregnant former roommate, she feels the need to spoil her friend (and eventual goddaughter).


7. Toothpaste ($3.47) Liz is notorious for forgetting toothpaste during her trip.


8. The Year of Magical Thinking ($7.47 for the Kindle version) I like the idea that Liz would read a book about another widow (and somehow feel better about her situation).


9. Gallon of gas (prices range per state and county)  Given the amount of time Liz spends on the road, I’m not entirely certain how many gallons she purchases during the novel.the

10. Red Sox Cap (prices vary) In honor of Joe’s beloved Sox (and Liz’s er, flawed visit to Fenway), here is what I pictured Liz wearing for much of her trip.


I’d love to read your suggestions!

Go Book Yourself: Life After Joe

Inspired by this Tumblr, I decided to make a post out of it.  Of course, I realize I’m kind of working in backwards order, because most people will have heard of the other books, but I am nothing if not optimistic.  (Have you picked up your copy of Life After Joe yet?)

Like this? (I hope you did (or will)!)

You might want to try these (many of which were novels I read as research for writing Life After Joe):


51KjKy0mjhL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ fso-cover


Casting couch: Life After Joe

In case you missed the news, Life After Joe is now available!  I had a lot of fun writing it, and am more than ready to start getting the word out via my attempts at marketing (hopefully you won’t get sick of me in the coming month, but a self published author has to hustle now and then #pimpingainteasy).990331622f89c1ecdfdeabaff5078a3dHaving worked in the entertainment industry, and even being accepted to USC for my MFA in Directing once upon a time, I’ve always thought cinematically about my novels.  Many of the images are taken from the Pinterest board I have for the book (if you’re interested).

Liz McNeil (Emily Blunt)

I love Emily Blunt as an actress and think she would be perfect as the protagonist.  Sure, she’s British and my characters are American, but she’s really who I’ve pictured while writing Life After Joe.  What do you say, Ms. Blunt?  Any interest in taking on this project?


Dr. Joseph ‘Joe’ McNeil (Adam Kaufman)

Although Joe is not technically alive in the book, I’d like to think a film adaptation would have room for flashbacks, etc. and for that, I’d need an actor.  Furthermore, my hope is the representation of Joe is a fairly developed one, such that he feels like a ‘real’ character in the book.


Adrian Boudreaux (Theo James)

I don’t want to have too many spoilers, so let’s just say he’s an important-ish character and leave things there, shall we?


Dr. Stephen Schwartz (Logan Marshall-Green)

This is Joe’s best friend and source of great support to Liz during her trip.

Logan+Marshall+Green+Guy+Pearce+heats+up+blue+Kld1VyJC_NslAnd finally, in the role of lead supporting character is Apollo – Liz and Joe’s beloved mutt.


There’s actually a fairly large cast in the book due to all the stops Liz makes on her trip, but these are who I see in the principal roles.  Anyway, I’d be curious to hear who you pictured!