Please welcome Toni Piccinini, author of The Goodbye Year

I’m so pleased to host Toni Piccinini during her WOW! Women On Writing blog tour. Her memoir, The Goodbye Year, is an inspirational, honest, and hilarious tale of Toni’s approach to the end of an era in the Piccinini household. For many mothers, a child’s senior year brings about a serious look back on the past eighteen. Every event from Halloween to Mother’s Day becomes The Last Time.

Goodbye Year CoverToni Piccinini knows exactly what that’s like, and in The Goodbye Year, she offers the loving support every soon-to-be Empty Nester needs. Think of Toni as your bossy-but-loving Italian auntie, with modern sensibilities and a packed pantry. With the wisdom she’s acquired from saying goodbye three times to her own children, she reassuringly holds your hand while encouraging you through the insanity of the college application process, the rejections and the acceptances, and the teary dorm drop-offs. Even better, she reminds every mother that the best is yet to come freedom, creativity, flexibility, and the Me Years.

Since I truly wish a book like The Goodbye Year was available when I was encountering the empty-nest part of my life, I asked Toni what led her to write this inspiring and helpful memoir. Here is her story.

How The Goodbye Year Came To Be

By Toni Piccinini

Thank you, Madeline, for wondering about the spark that led me to write a memoir/self-help/cookbook with depressingly comedic overtones. Each time I’m asked this question I find myself awash with memoires of what it was to be a family and what I thought my role, my purpose in life, was supposed to be. I was happily married, mothering three children, working with my husband first at our San Francisco restaurant and then buying, remodeling, and selling homes volunteering at my children’s schools, and frankly, living on the surface of my life.

I thought I had the perfect life: hubby Jeff; three kids, Page (sixteen going on seventeen, just like The Sound of Music), Ross (thirteen), and Banks (twelve); Indy the dog, well past adolescence but not an old man; and our eighty-two-year-old cottage in the burbs of Marin County, California. If that was true, why was I feeling so blue?

In 2003, a writer friend gave me Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, and introduced me to the discipline of writing three pages (long hand) each morning. The gift of journaling opened me up to a deeper understanding of who I was. There is nothing like writing words on paper with a pen. It is not the same as tapping on a keyboard, or talking into a recorder. The physical act of moving our hand across the page invites the magic in that comes from the intersection of thought energy and manifestation. And then there they are: words on the page that we didn’t know were silently waiting to reveal themselves.

The summer before Page’s senior year, I was pretending that my life was just fine; like it was just swimming along the way it had been since I took on the welcomed role of mother. I was oblivious to who I was and who I had become. It is easy to forget yourself. It is so busy being a mom. It fills up your days and allows you to live a life of triage, which keeps you spinning in place. You function on a need to do it now basis. The most emergent tasks get priority, even if those tasks are mundane. Field trip permission slip needs signing, don’t forget to buy the cloves for the art project, don’t we have some foam core left over from last year’s Miwok poster? You can make lists and check things off, and one day tumbles into the next until finally you realize that this your motherhood as you know it is ending. If you allow it to penetrate, that realization comes to you at the beginning of your child’s senior year of high school.

I enjoyed three Goodbye Years, and they couldn’t have been more different from one another. I was a different person each time, too. But Page’s senior year was the watershed. Everything that came after led me down the path of discovery of who I am, and that started with the painful acknowledgment that I was coming to the end of the most important chapter in my life. Being a mom. Or so I thought.

Writing The Goodbye Year was not easy for me. Just ask my talented (and so very kind) developmental editor, Annie Tucker! I alternated between being bored with myself to being afraid of the impact my words would have on those I loved. My fingers spent hours on the delete button. But in the process of trying to flesh out my story in the hopes that I might be able to help one other mom who found herself in the sticky spot of holding on tightly and trying to let go, a story emerged.

I will be forever grateful to Seal Press for the offer to publish my book. And even more for inviting me to be part of the team, to be able to get out of my own way, so the other people involved could do their job. Thinking about writing is a solitary enterprise, but I have found, that once we set the pen to the page, we are no longer alone. We connect with something deep inside ourselves, outside ourselves, and eternal.


Thank you, Madeline, for inviting me to your beautiful and soulful site. If your readers would like more of the details of my journey that took me from a handful of words to a real life book please visit Kristine Meldrum Denholm’s elegant blog, Writing Stories of Life at and see my guest post The Winding Path to Publication featured last month.

And thank you, Toni, for being here at Choices. I’m sure The Goodbye Year will find a huge audience. The subject matter is so universal.

Readers, please leave a comment here for your chance to win a copy of The Goodbye Year. I will announce a winner, picked randomly, next Friday, November 15. Thanks so much.

Author Bio 

Toni Picinnini Head ShotToni’s writing career started when she stapled her first “book” together and launched it at a reading attended by her brother, Scotty, and her boxer, Lonesome. The title-less story was a mash-up of Hansel and Gretel, The Six Swans, and a Box Car Children adventure, with the protagonists (sister, brother, and dog) risking everything in their quest for a magical lump of coal that would save the town. It was an immediate success. During the fifty years between her first and second book, The Goodbye Year: Wisdom and Culinary Therapy to Survive Your Child’s Senior Year of High School (and Reclaim the YOU of You) she has, in no order of importance or chronology:

  • Opened a “Top 100” San Francisco restaurant
  • published scientific articles on the efficacies of antibiotics
  • Sang the National Anthem at high school football games
  • Published essays, recipes, and cookbook reviews
  • Sent three children off to college.

Toni lives in Marin County California, which is a long way from her Western Pennsylvania hometown, Heilwood. She is busy on her next book, which may revisit the power found in a magical lump of coal.

Contact Information and Book Details

Toni’s Website:

The Goodbye Year’s Website:

Toni’s Twitter:

Paperback:  264 Pages

Publisher:  Seal Press (September 10, 2013)

ISBN-10:  1580054862

Twitter hashtag: #TGYPiccinini

The Goodbye Year is available as a print and e- book at Amazon



  1. Thank you Madeline and Toni for sharing your time and talent. I am so blessed to know and be able to work with both of you!


  2. Madeline Sharples says:

    Thanks so much, Crystal. It is always my pleasure to host WOW blog tour guests. And working with you is also a joy.

  3. Looks like an interesting book and much needed for many women. Thanks for sharing this.

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