Sunday, August 28, 2011

Earthquakes and Hurricanes and Flooding, Oh My!

There is much to fear if you let it when you live in a city like New York. My mother taught me at a young age how to hold my pocketbook on the subway so my wallet would not get picked and to never to stand too close to the edge of the platform in the event a crazy came by and pushed you in. There is the fear of that giant crane on the construction site next door that with one big swing could come crashing into your building. Or unsecured scaffolding that could crush those walking underneath. Being stuck in an elevator or worse, a subway car between stations crosses many minds. I have a personal fear of falling through a subway grate. And lets not forget the big one, the fear of a terrorist attack that 9/11 proved to be far too real.

But you learn to adjust and take it in stride. No one who lives here for an extended period dwells in fear. Those who do usually wind up moving someplace else.

Earthquakes are not on your average New Yorker's fear list. Nor are hurricanes. Yet in the span of one week our fair city has experienced both. As I write this Irene has been downgraded to a tropical storm and the next big worry is how much flooding will occur. This all just two weeks away from the anniversary of 9/11. All of this has tested even the hardiest of New Yorkers. So it was no wonder there was an edge in the air the last few days as bottled water and batteries disappeared from the shelves. We had reason to worry and to prepare. And I applaud Mayor Bloomberg in how he readied the city. Because this is after all Mother Nature we are talking about. We can't control what she decides to do. But we can control our actions, get our go bags ready and stock the house with supplies.

Who can't seem to control themselves through any of these potential disasters is the media. Their job at times like this is to keep us informed and in touch, and dare I say, perhaps even calm us, not to exacerbate and make the potential of real disaster seem even greater than it is. But that was not the case. I liken them to addicts in search of a fix. Their fix being some fear-inducing lead-in that will get you to turn them on or click through a link to their website. A reason to change the inflection of their voice as though they were acting in a play on Broadway instead of reporting the news.

When I was a kid during the very turbulent sixties you looked to a Walter Cronkite to steady you. Today finding anyone who carries any of his soothing characteristics is rare. I stopped watching CNN yesterday when Wolf Blitzer led with roof tops blowing off the houses in Virginia and then stopped with no details as to whether it was one roof or a dozen or where in the very big state of Virginia that was. He wanted me to hang around for his next update. I didn't. I switched channels. And I switched and I switched. I was in search of some sort of  sensibility in reporting as people up and down the East Coast were waiting in trepidation for when the hurricane would hit them.  I wanted information not hype. I wanted calm not frenzy. I wanted reporting that served as a resource to the community, not tied up in ratings and advertising revenue and a desire to be #1 but targeted at keeping the public informed.

For the record I settled where I should have started. With my old friends at NY1 News, which in full disclosure I once worked for. I prefer the even inflection and well thought out questions of  Pat Kiernan and the saneness and intelligence of their meteorologist, John Davitt, to any of my other choices.

The next big fear is the flooding factor. But I will add one more to that. The fear that if the media consistently creates more hype instead of more reporting, we will all start to tune out. And then like the boy who cried wolf, we will not know when we should really be paying attention.

Do you think the media did their job reporting on Hurricane Irene?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Giuseppe's Getting Ready

Most of us spend our lives trying not to be seen. Slipping just far enough under the radar so we can call ourselves a success without getting too much attention. We play by the rules someone else created for us, our family, our culture, our religions. Not being seen fully allows us to keep our secrets, perhaps hide our flaws, avoid being judged more harshly than we can tolerate. We think we are in control of who sees what part of us when.

In this age of Twitter, FB and Google searches we have lost that control. Sound bites and news clips take the every day citizen into a spotlight they may despise or secretly crave. I tell people that I believe you need to live your life online as though you were on Candid Camera. For those not old enough to remember,  Candid Camera was a kinder, gentler, more humane version of TMZ.

As a writer, I cannot fully function without words. I lose my ability to breathe when I am not constructing sentences into story. It is who I am.

I wrote just for me for a very long time. This blog was the beginning of me putting those words out there in the world, to be shared, to be enjoyed, at times to be criticized. And now in a month's time if all goes to schedule I will release my first novel to the world. While the story is fiction, any writer will tell you what we write involves baring ours souls. It is our art. No matter how made up the characters are they stem from some truth in the way the writer sees the world and human interaction. I will be seen. Ready or not.

I have been busy preparing. Choosing my cover design. Debating whether to format the text myself or hire someone. Reading and rereading passages that need polishing. Guessing timelines. Compiling my lists of how and where I will promote The Secrets They Kept.

It's an effort to keep the worries and the fears at bay and to trust that the Universe will provide. Walking helps. This morning it also offered up  one of those delicious winks that I can't stop smiling from. 

There is a bronze bust on a pillar in Central Park that I pass every time I take my walk. I have my friend Giuseppe in several scenes in the novel. Today as I was coming close I noticed some tape and plastic at the spot where the bust meets the stand and then a man on a crane lowering himself close. I asked what he was doing. He told me he was repatinizing it. A green and brown film is produced on bronze due to oxidation over a long period of time. Giuseppe hadn't had a sprucing up since 1994.

Giuseppe, I am guessing is anticipating more visitors. He is getting ready as I am to be seen in a fresh light.

The Secrets They Kept will be released in September 2011. For more details and to be added to my mailing list please click through this link.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Today I am terrified. I'm not sure the reason. Maybe it was seeing The Help this weekend, a wonderful screen version of a terrific novel and feeling my story is so small in comparison.  Maybe it was reading The New York Times yesterday and being reminded of last week's roller coaster ride in the markets that the media seized upon. Seriously, these are crazy times, but doesn't soaking yourself in the news just magnify the reality exponentially?

I always think starting with the Style section will ease the blow. But there on the front page was that headline, Maybe It's Time for Plan C, an article in which the author takes great care to point out as much of the negative as possible when pursuing your passion. For a brief moment it caused me to second guess my choice to go for Plan B. Or maybe it was the other article, the one entitled In St. Louis, I'm a Failure that talked about Amazon's data that it makes available to its authors that allows you to track each and every book sale by geography. It occurred to me that in approximately a month's time, I would be able to track mine. I will know every copy of The Secrets They Kept  that is sold and not sold.

There comes that terror again, raging through my body. 
What if no one buys it?

Today I am terrified. I am really going to do this. I spent the weekend looking at concepts for my book cover. This afternoon I will discuss with my designer the direction I want to go. I have edits to make and hours to spend on Smashwords and talking to the folks at CreateSpace. I am terrified.

I am in too far to back out. I don't want to back out. I'm past that point. I'm in the stage where I just keep moving forward and try not to let the nausea seep up from my stomach to my throat. Seth Godin must be sensing it because his post today was about me. I've dug my hole.

That Times article talked about stress. But that is not what this feels like. I did not leave the corporate world thinking I would have no stress as an independent worker. In much the way you don't stop having disagreements with your boyfriend just because you like the new one more than the old one. It's just a different  argument, a different kind of stress. In each case you hope this time it is borne of love.

What I'm feeling today is not stress. This is terror. That realization that I am doing this.  I am no longer waiting. I am self-publishing my first novel. I might fall on my face and this be a disaster. I may get more bad reviews than good ones. But I am doing this. I will be seen. And I am terrified.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

San Diego Stories

Once upon a time in a world long, long ago I traveled for work. In the days before 9/11 it was fun, but never quite as glamorous as it looked from the outside. I attended meetings and conferences in almost every major city in the continental US. I learned how to navigate to get upgrades on seats. I amused myself by checking to see what  price Starbucks charged for my tall coffee in cities other than New York. But I never learned how to eliminate jet lag. Jet laggggggg. That thing that happens when you switch time zones and almost always is worse flying West to East.

So in my feeble attempt to rise above it I am going to blog just to catch up and tell you where I've been and what I've been up to.

The place was San Diego. The conference was BlogHer11. If you are not familiar BlogHer is a network of women bloggers founded in 2005 by Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins and Elisa Camahort Page. In six years the network now reaches 26 million women bloggers. Their growth is extraordinary.

The numbers seem to vary as to exactly how many flooded the San Diego Convention Center this year but it seems to be hovering around the 3000 mark. Yes, 3000. For those not convinced bloggers clout is sought after and growing one needed only to walk the Expo floor crowded with companies hawking samples and swag from Lindt chocolate to Scrubbing Bubbles to be convinced otherwise.  BlogHer's tribe is not just mommy bloggers and openly claims to want to push past that image, but the truth is what I saw was still predominately mommy bloggers. As we know, a mommy blogger I am not. Still I found my peeps and I got to mingle and listen to a number of very cool women on the agenda.

My highlights:

  • Gretchen Rubin moderating a panel that included Brene Brown. If you have not seen Brene Brown check out her TED talk. She'll win you over and yes she is everything and more in person.
  • The Hufffington Post women panel, led by Lori Leibovich including but not limited to Agapi Stassinopoulos (you know I love Greek wisdom!) and Janice Min, the woman who turned around the Hollywood Reporter.
  • Getting to see what Emily McKhann of The Motherhood and the other members of One Mom Can Make a Difference did on their trip to Kenya at a special showing of the feature ABC News produced. 
  • Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico's Keynote. Can I just say corporate America needs more women at the helm like her? Of course I can! This is my blog!  Indra was so powerful she may warrant me writing a blog devoted to just her.

In between I got to dine with new friends Kat Gordon of Maternal Instinct and Rebecca Rivera of Digitas, chat with Lisen Stromberg of PrismWork and rejoice with Colette Martin of the impending publication of her first book on learning to eat allergy free. I even managed to squeeze in cocktails with my cousin, her husband and their friends who just happened to be in San Diego. My big fat Greek family is everywhere!

Best of all was being surrounded by my good friends Karen Quinn of TestingMom and Nancy Moon of MoonPR (If you are looking for THE best in PR, hire Nancy!) Together we managed to add seeing Blood, Sweat and Tears into the program and a jaunt to LaJolla.

After that the next best part was that for two and half days of the conference I got to practice saying out loud that The Secrets They Kept, my novel, will be published and available for sale in September. It's getting easier, but the nausea remains even though the jet lag is waning. And as for the price of Starbucks at the San Diego Marriott, $2.69 for a tall coffee!  Incredible but true, some things are cheaper in NYC!
Morning walks at the San Diego just never know who you will run into!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Secret I've Been Keeping

I have a secret. Well, maybe the first part is not so secret. But I’ve had this desire to be a published novelist. I’ve written two novels that have been shopped up and down the streets of this city by my ever-faithful agent. Each of them has received their fair share of rejections.

I’ve learned this is not uncommon. John Grisham reportedly received 28 before A Time To Kill was published. Kathryn Stockett topped that with 60 before The Help was given a green light. So rejection by the big publishing houses does not necessarily mean what you got ain’t good. These days it has more to do with the business model, one that is based on what I like to call, the what is going to make the most money the quickest, let’s not worry about quality model.  It’s a corporate disease that is not limited to publishing. That is not to say quality is not being printed. In between the life story of Snookie from the Jersey Shore and Sarah Palin’s 432 pages on how being able to see Russia from her bathroom window qualifies her as an expert on foreign policy, there has been some good stuff given the seal of approval in the world of traditional publishing. It’s just harder to find.

But here’s the next part of this secret. As much as I openly abhor the inner workings of today’s corporate environment I confess I have coveted that acceptance into the club letter.  I admit all those editors, publishers and agents had me convinced that until I got my call from one of the Big Five saying I had an offer and an advance I was not print worthy.

Crazy, huh? But true.

Then back in January I splurged and signed myself up for a one-day seminar with Seth Godin on the future of the publishing industry. Seth, ever brilliant, made a point that I couldn’t shake. He drew the analogy that waiting for the book industry to deem me publishing worthy was like sitting on the bench waiting to get picked for the team in school. So I started to wonder, why was I waiting? This was me. The girl who refused to stand in line in her old clubbing days because she was not going to wait for someone else to get done having their good time so she could start having hers.

I remembered why I left the corporate environment. Their philosophies no longer matched up with mine.Yet I still wanted their approval rating. What was that about?  I live in a world where technology has gifted me the ability to do this myself. And I wasn’t taking advantage of it! I embraced on line banking quicker than this!

Then one morning while in the shower, where so many of my really good decisions are made, I decided I was going to self-publish my first novel.

There, I said it.

I admit it makes me a bit nauseous. But I have decided it is time to get up off the bench.

I haven’t been talking about it too much because I also decided I no longer liked the title I had.  So I spent a little more time wallowing in resistance to the do it yourself option and agonized over what the new title would be.  Now that I have it, I’ve given myself license to say it out loud. The Secrets They Kept

In between I hired a professional editor.  If I was going to do this it was not going to be with scotch tape and band-aids.  I’ve taken the results of her work to heed and have been implementing some changes. Today I hired a graphic designer to do the cover. Next is the uncharted territory of  e-book formatting, which quite frankly is more challenging and terrifying for me than writing the novel was.

So, my secret is out. I am about to join forces with all those other rebels who are changing the publishing industry.  You see I am one of those that believe people aren’t reading less. They are reading differently.  And I believe with the advent of e-readers they will be reading even more than before. Traditional publishing will not go away just as AM Radio didn’t disappear when Television entered the picture. But the game will be different. There will be more content, not less and the key will be to find the really good stuff among the mediocre.  I’m hoping my novel falls into the category of sought after quality.

This is not to say that should a nice advance from one of the old brick and mortars come my way I would not be open to considering it. But one thing is for sure. I am no longer waiting to be picked.

The Secrets They Kept will be available for sale on and other on-line book retailers in both e-book and print in September. Stay tuned for more details, and please, feel free to help spread the word!

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