A Happier Hour Literary Salon with Claire Bidwell Smith & Jillian Lauren
On Tuesday evening, I had the privilege of co-hosting a Happier Hour Literary Salon with The New York Foundling. The Foundling does incredibly important work serving children and families and COO Bethany Lampland was on hand to talk to the crowd of 80+ thoughtful woman about that critical work, and about educational advocacy in particular.
The authors of the evening were Claire Bidwell Smith and Jillian Lauren. It was very meaningful for me to host Claire and Jillian because they are not just fellow authors, but dear friends of mine who have been hosting Happier Hours Literary Salons in Los Angeles since 2012. Claire was here to talk about her new book After This: When Life Is Over, Where Do We Go? (for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble) and Jillian, about her new book Everything You Ever Wanted(for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound.)
It was a wonderfully packed house and lucky guests swilled (and raved about) the fabulous New Zealand wines that were flowing: Dashwood Pinot Noir and Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc, both from Pasternak Wine Imports and noshed on fresh and delectable bites from local chef Melanie Ann Cairns (whom I met through friend and event planner extraordinaire Jeannie Uyanik of Cap and Gown Weddings).
The truth: This was a very different Happier Hour for a few reasons. First, a silly iteration: Claire, Jillian and I gathered at my place early for a little pre-event glam session with GLAMSQUAD. After being transformed by uber-talented hair and makeup artists (with our kids circling us), we took some fun photographs on the front stoop. Second, a less-silly iteration on the usual course: Claire's older daughter was quite sick with a terrible stomach bug. Claire stayed with her girl during the cocktail hour and emerged for the event itself, but moments after I introduced her, Claire apologized and excused herself, saying that she couldn't carry on a book event while her child was so ill. It was a dramatic, powerful moment and one that imbued the evening with even more meaning. The night was about motherhood and here was a prime example of motherhood in action. All of us understood and respected Claire's decision to duck out. She ended up taking sweet Vera to the ER where they were kept until after midnight. In a touching and essay-worthy turn, Claire's literary agent Wendy Sherman stayed with Claire and Vera the whole time. A happy update: Little Vera is fine, on the mend, and they are all back in Los Angeles recuperating from an eventful trip.
So, an unexpected turn and though wildly unprepared, I stepped in and read the letter Claire had planned to share from her book. Doing this was nothing but an honor and I was lucky to have the incomparable and super-captivating Jillian by my side. Jillian read from her book, made all of us swoon with her prose and keen humor, and the discussion that followed was rich as ever.
When it was time to go, people left with two gorgeous new books (a happy first; all books were sold out and quickly too!) and a renewed appreciation, I think, for what it means to be a writer/parent/person in this unpredictable world. We never know what will happen, what curve ball life will throw at us, but there's almost a beauty in this, in embracing what comes, in accepting it, maybe even in celebrating it.
A tremendous thank you to The New York Foundling, Claire Bidwell Smith, Jillian Lauren, Melanie Ann Cairns, Pasternak Wine, and to all of you who joined me in my beloved yellow living room for an inspiring and unforgettable night!
Above is a sneak peek of the new Happier Hours logo!... I'm hard at work finishing the website and will be launching it very soon! In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about Happier Hours Literary Salons, in sponsoring or co-hosting a future event, please email me at aidandonnelleyrowley [at] gmail [dot] com.