Friday, December 31, 2010

Abby v Snow Monster

Someone built a snow(wo?)man at Burger Hill, Rhinebeck, our default dogwalking venue. Abby wasn't having any part of it. After much barking--plus a treat placed at its base--she cautiously approached before going up the hill with me.

She barked at it again on the way down. One can't be too careful...

Friday, December 10, 2010

Patrick Dennis Forever!

Holiday thoughts from razor-witted Patrick Dennis (aka Edward Everett Tanner III), who deserves to be remembered as the author of books beyond AUNTIE MAME.

AROUND THE WORLD WITH AUNTIE MAME (1958) begins with this:
Christmas is nearly here and I look forward to it more and more with loathing. All the shops that didn't have their holiday decorations up by Michaelmas made up for it with sheer ostentation by Halloween. Canned carols bleat from every corner. The clerks at Saks are surlier, the ones at Lord & Taylor lordlier, the ones at Bergdorf's bitchier than at any other season.
From THE JOYOUS SEASON* (1964), narrated by a 10-year-old boy:
Daddy always said that Christmas is a joyous season when suicides and hold-ups and shoplifting and like that reach a new high and that the best place to spend the whole thing is a Moslem country.
*Confession: I've put down THE FINKLER QUESTION twice to reread Patrick Dennis. Interpret as you wish.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Real Twitter Feed

The view from my kitchen window a few minutes ago. Alas, the food fights stop (finches are very scrappy) as soon as I get near the window with my camera.

Tufted titmouse (my favorite bird name!)

Nuthatch--which prefers seeds to nuts.

House finch (fluttering) & goldfinch.


Goldfinches sharing nicely with titmouse--because they can't see each it.

Goldfinches--the tough guys until the house finches show up.

Finches waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yahrzeit #16

Lionel Stander (1908-1994) in 1936.
Photo for Columbia Pictures by Irving L. Schaffert.

My father died 16 years ago today. Unaware of the date, yesterday I rearranged the Dad Wall in my dining area. More than two years after acquiring the above photo (part of a large lot) I read the caption on the back:
Eager to preserve his new furniture as long as possible, eccentric Lionel Stander, most popular of Hollywood comedians, selects this strange pose for purpose of relaxation and reading. Whether the book's more interesting read sidewise is a question only Stander can answer. His latest Columbia picture is "Cinderella Man," directed by Frank Capra and starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur. Lionel recently moved into a renovated farmhouse in the center of Hollywood, modernized for him by R. M. Schindler.
"Cinderella Man," retitled "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," was named Best Picture of 1936 by the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review. Capra won his second Oscar for directing and Cooper was nominated as Best Actor. My eldest half-sister was 3; my mother was 2.

The man who "modernized" Dad's house was noted architect Rudolph Michael Schindler, an associate of Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra. According to this list, in 1935 Schindler remodeled a house for "L. Stander, 2006 La Brea Terrace, Hollywood" and "Apartments for L. Stander, Los Angeles." Wish I knew the story behind those apartments.

The house takes a good satellite picture:
OMG, it recently sold for $3.75M! Here's the realtor's listing:
4 Bedrooms/4.0 Bathrooms/3,753 Sq. Ft/23,070 Sq. FT. Lot
Rarely are homes available in this private neighborhood. On over half an acre of private gardens is this fine home. Large LR w/ fplc, formal DR, kitchen with best appliances, play room, FR, library w/ fplc. Master with balcony, fplc, sitting area, bath with spa tub. Pecan floors throughout. Pool, outside fireplace, guest house with LR, kitchen, 1BD and 1BA and 2 separate garages for 4 cars. RECENTLY LISTED FOR $5,500,000, CURRENT PRICE MAKES THIS PROPERTY AN OUTSTANDING VALUE IN TODAYS MARKET.
Looks like an old farmhouse all right, but the windows were changed:

The interior doesn't look nearly as snazzy as in 1936:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Best-Ever Thanksgiving Recipes

My friend Martha asked me to send her my "traditional" recipes for Thanksgiving. In the spirit of giving, I thought I'd share them with you all.

Garlicky Cranberry Chutney
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's East/West Menus for Family & Friends (Harper & Row, 1987)

1-inch fresh ginger, peeled
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 TBS brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can cranberry sauce with berries or 1 qt homemade sauce (or however much you get from a bag of fresh cranberries)
approx 1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of ground black pepper

Cut ginger into paper-thin slices, stack them together and cut into really thin slivers. Combine with garlic, vinegar, sugar and cayenne in a small pot. Simmer on medium heat about 15 minutes or until there are about 4 TBS liquid left.

Add cranberry sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Let cool, then serve. It will keep for several days--if you don't finish it ALL after the first taste!

Bella’s Garden Rice Stuffing
Cook 2 cups Arborio rice in 4 cups water.

Mix with:
1 lg onion, chopped
approx 1 cup toasted pecans, broken in pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 med. carrot, chopped
1 tsp allspice
at least 1 TBS dried oregano
5 large sage leaves, chopped fine
10 lemon balm leaves, chopped fine
leaves from approx 6 sprigs of thyme, chopped fine
40 grinds black pepper
1 tsp salt

When cool enough to handle, stuff in bird. Put remainder in ovenproof casserole and bake in oven 1 hour at 325° (along with turkey, if your oven's big enough)

Turkey with Roasted Garlic Butter
(Washington Post, 1997)

2 whole bulbs garlic
2 TBS olive oil
8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
Uncooked turkey at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut about 1/2 inch off the top of the garlic bulbs to expose each clove. Drizzle with oil and loosely wrap the bulbs, cut ends up, in aluminum foil. Bake until soft to the touch, 45-60 mins. Let cool until easy to handle.

Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins. Discard skins. Mix the garlic pulp with butter and salt. Reserve 2 TBS of the mixture. Rub the rest of it under the turkey skin (loosen with your fingers on the back and legs). Note: If turkey is too cold, the butter will congeal instead of spread easily under the skin.

Preheat oven to 325 °. Put turkey on rack in roasting pan. After stuffing it, rub the remaining 2 TBS of butter all over the skin.

Roast for about 45 mins, till golden brown. Tent with foil and continue roasting. After 2 more hours, baste with pan juices every 15 mins till bird is done (approx 3-1/2 hrs for 12-14 lb bird). Use juices to make the best gravy EVER.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Going to the Dogs Birthday Party

Seated: Brady, Abby, Bumble (our canine host) and Poppy. Standing: Michelle, Marty (holding Clarissa), Polly and Gracious Hostess Colleen (look out, Martha Stewart!).

Abby is the only dog I've had whose real birthday I've known: Nov 7, the day before mine. I told that to my wonderful new friend Colleen (we met while walking dogs; go figure), and she decided to throw Abby a birthday party. So at 8:00 a.m. today, I and 3 other women and our dogs met at Colleen's Gracious Home (a fabu 1770s farmhouse joined to an 1820s one) for a wet but lovely walk.

Colleen doesn't do anything by half-measures: afterward there were wheat- and corn-free cookies from Pause Dog Boutique for the canines; coffee, homemade muffins and birthday cake for the humans. Plus a specially decorated cake for Abby to take home, which I'll give her Sunday when I'm hosting a birthday party at my own (much newer, smaller) Gracious Home.

Above: Brady, Bumble and Abby sniff at the goodies offered by Colleen. I'm the astonished one at left; Marty is holding Clarissa.

Below: I give Clarissa a treat while Bumble, Brady and Abby look on. (They'd just had one but of course wanted more.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

EEK! Publicity Horrors

Halloween's coming, which means it's time once again for Publicity Horror Stories. Send yours in today! Anonymity strictly guaranteed.

For starters, here's a creepy tale from a book review editor at a regional publication:
I occasionally get these nasty emails from self-published authors or authors whose books don't fit with what we cover. Here's one I got last week, from some sort of Ph.D. guy:

"Well, the books are in. Are you interested or not? I believe I have had enough of a career to merit a response."

It's always men who send these kinds of angry emails. When I was on maternity leave for 6 weeks with my last baby, some other guy was emailing me repeatedly, getting angry that I wasn't answering. Finally when I got back to work I told him that I'd been on maternity leave, he was like, "Oh, sorry. So will you review my book?"

Friday, September 24, 2010

Canine Couch Battles, Round 2

Abby 2 days ago after a good night's sleep (note pillow on floor), with her ball & Boy Wonder's gently chewed shoes.

In my July 24 update on Mother's Little Odalisque, I said I'd put heavier furniture on the couch (see above) to keep Abby off. That worked like a charm. Now my Clever Girl is pulling the throw pillows, which I stack on a chair at night, onto the floor to cushion her weary head. One of my next purchases will be a cushy dog bed, which she'd damn well better sleep on.

Caught in the act 10 minutes ago.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Timeless Truths in Fiction

He offered the honest terms that a sound concern and an honest man had to offer. But that was not what people wanted nowadays. They wanted their hypothetical arrangements, their wild rumors, their manipulated booms with nothing behind it all but hot air....He could see them now at that very moment--all these many-colored and frivolous articles of fashion which captivated the world on the persons of equally frivolous young girls.
How fresh and contemporary, eh? This is from the 1931 edition of GRAND HOTEL by Vicki Baum, published in Germany in 1929 as MENSCHEN IM HOTEL ("People in a Hotel"). There's one thing that's dated, though: the casual use of n*gger in the narrative. Blech.

Oh, and Greta Garbo's famous line, "I want to be alone," was lifted right from the book.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Quotes for a Month

Eek! Did I really not post at all in August? I was busy and distracted; some day I'll tell you about it. In the meantime, here are some choice nuggets I've come across in the past month. (And yes, in case you hadn't noticed, I'm an Anglophile.)

From Eyes on the Prize by Hilary Mantel, winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize for WOLF HALL, and whose memoir GIVING UP THE GHOST I'm happily devouring:
You don’t ask a plumber, what makes you plumb? You understand he does it to get his living. You don’t draw him aside and say, “Actually I plumb a bit myself, would you take a look at this loo I fitted? All my friends say it’s rather good.”...

I think there is one kind of writer who might be scalped and skinned by the demands the prize imposes, and that is the writer who finds public performance difficult, who has failed to create a persona he can send out to do the show....Generally, it seems to me, authors are better at presenting themselves than they were ten years ago. Festivals flourish, we get more practice; you could give a reading somewhere every week of the year if you liked. For me the transition between desk and platform seems natural enough. I think of writing fiction as a sort of condensed version of acting and each book as a vast overblown play. You impersonate your characters intensively, you live inside their skins, wear their clothes and stamp or mince through life in their shoes; you breathe in their air. “Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” Of course she is. Who else could she be?
From OUR TRAGIC UNIVERSE, the latest novel by Scarlett Thomas (my other new favorite author), which should get a prize for book design:
You can identify someone who works in publishing because they tell every anecdote as if for the first time, with the same expression as someone giving you a tissue that they have just realised has probably already been used. [p67]

Almost everyone who came along to spend the week [at the writers' retreat] in the hotel in Torquay seemed to have the idea that all novels possessed the same sort of value, and took roughly the same amount of effort from the author, and that Tolstoy was a 'a novelist' in the same way that the latest chick-lit author was 'a novelist'. 'How do you even begin to write eighty thousand words?' someone would always ask, admiringly. And I'd always explain that 80,000 words is not that much, really, and that you could do it in eight weekends if you really wanted to, using Aristotle's Poetics as an instruction manual. Making the 80,000 words any good is the hard bit: making them actually important. [p115]

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Quote for the Ages

...novels should not be honest. They are a pack of lies that are also a set of metaphors; because the lies and metaphors are chosen and offered shape and structure, they may indeed represent the self, or the play between the unconscious mind and the conscious will, but they are not forms of self-expression, or true confession.

--Colm Toibin, New York Times Book Review

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mother's Little Odalisque

Left, by Eugène Delacroix. Above, by moi.

After fighting the family dog for bed space all through my teen years, I never allowed my subsequent dogs on the furniture. Putting end tables on the couch at night always kept them off.

And then last month along came Abby, who pulled the tables onto the floor so she could sleep on the couch. That lasted about a week, till I gave up and covered it with a sheet. As you can see, she finds the arrangement just to her liking. (I kick her off in the daytime.)

Update, July 24:
I got tired of shooing Abby off the couch, so I'm covering it with heavier furniture at night. We'll see how this works out.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Unused illustration for The Yellow Book, by Aubrey Beardsley

Tess Gerritsen explains "Why the hell won't they review my book?!!!" (She neglects to mention that the Washington Post reviews crime novels every Monday.)

Susan Henderson gives The Truth About Blurbs at The Nervous Breakdown.

Following in the footsteps of Lazlo Toth, Sean Ferrell tells how to get an author blurb, in four installments. Part 1: Paul Auster. Part 2: Thomas Pynchon.

And then there's Slush Pile Hell. My favorite: July 6.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Top of the Morning!

I thought I'd seen everything; then the above item showed up on eBay. Yes, that would be Lionel Stander as Max in "Hart to Hart" on a child's spinning top, made in Argentina. Bizarre, huh?

I'll pass (the image is enough for me), but you can bid on this precious objet here.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Sea Monsters in the Hudson!

Cecil the seasick sea serpent, from Beany + Cecil.

While doing research for the Bella Terra Northwest Lighthouses map, I happened across a 19th century New York Times article about a sea serpent off the coast of Oregon. Whereupon I searched the Times online archives for "sea serpent" and found a treasure trove. Apparently summer brought sea serpent sightings from around the globe, which the Times often covered with tongue firmly in cheek. In 1904 correspondent F. Carruthers Gould wrote, "It used to be called the Silly Season because of the perennial appearance at this time of the sea serpent..." (So Obama's talk of the "silly season" was nothing new!)

Some nearby sightings:
August 31, 1886, Wednesday

RONDOUT, N.Y., Aug. 30.—Fifteen minutes before the steamboat Daniel Drew caught fire on Sunday afternoon a sea serpent was seen in the Hudson River between Coddington’s Dock and Kingston Point by a number of Rondout boatmen and boys who were in swimming. Capt. R. Brush, of the schooner Mary Ann, also saw it. All hands unite in saying that its head was raised about 6 feet out of the water, and it was of the shape and general appearance of the well known anaconda or water boa of the Amazon, but much larger, being about 2 feet in diameter on a line with the eyes. The throat is described as being dirty white, while the back appeared to be mottled with light and dark brown. From a point about 6 feet back of the eyes a fin appeared which extended the entire length of its body, or rather that portion of the body visible, which was about 55 feet. Half a mile below Coddington’s Dock Capt. Brush said the serpent lashed the water with its tail. The serpent was also seen by persons on the Dutchess County shore. The parties say it was not seaweed they saw, and that they were all “perfectly sober.”

September 11, 1886, Wednesday
NEWBURG, N.Y., Sept. 10.--R.H. Randolph, of Rhinebeck, in a communication to a local newspaper says: "For the past week the New-York and country newspapers have been circulating the story of the 'Hudson River serpent' that was seen in the river at various points between Catskill and Poughkeepsie. I was one of the eye witnesses of that serpent. While the steamer Daniel Drew was burning, a gentleman and myself were sitting on the bank of the river at Rhine Cliff. We saw a long black log floating down with the ebb tide. The log was apparently about 30 feet long, with a number of knots projecting that gave it the appearance of a row of fins. A root about 5 or 6 feet long at the end of the log would occasionally roll up with the swell and might to a person of strong imagination look like a head or neck. I made the remark at the time that if it was only a little later in the evening that would be taken for a genuine sea serpent. This is what was seen on Aug. 29 by a number who claimed that they saw the sea serpent.”

January 1, 1887, Wednesday
TIVOLI, N.Y., Dec. 31.--The Captain of the schooner Many Ann, from down East, was the first person who saw the sea serpent near Kingston. Point last Summer. It has remained, however, for a man named Brown, who lives out back of Saugerties, to see the serpent in the Hudson in Winter. Brown reached Tivoli today en route for points South. Like pretty much everybody else who has seen the serpent Brown was “perfectly sober.” He said that at the commencement of the heavy snowstorm yesterday morning he walked a considerable distance up the Hudson for the purpose of setting his nets in the ice. Brown found a great crack in the ice. He kept tramping on. Suddenly, according to Brown, he felt a sensation as though the ice were being lifted up beneath him. He says he saw the ice roll, as it were, in waves, and then split in two, making a similar crack to the one he had jumped over a short distance to the southward. Brown says that before the waving of the ice had ceased a strange-looking animal, with two eyes nearly as big as saucers and of the color of terra cotta, glared at him fiercely. The head of the beast remained above the ice for several seconds, and Brown says he had an excellent opportunity of seeing it. Brown thinks it is the sea serpent that was seen off Kingston Point and elsewhere along shore last Summer, and that the billowy motion he describes in the ice was caused by the serpent lashing its tail. Brown is the first man on record in these parts who has seen the serpent after Dec. 1. Meanwhile every crack found in the ice on the frozen Hudson is being eagerly watched by untiring small boys, boatmen who have nothing else to do except to chew tobacco and “swap lies” at corner groceries, and perhaps one or two of the wise Washington scientists who gave their views so gravely to the public and who fought so bitterly among themselves over the matter, when the serpent was seen at Kingston Point.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Bellylaugh of the Day

Trailer for Gary Shteyngart's SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY. Take notes; it's filled with bons mots.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


On Booksquare:
The Future of Print
(Disclosure: Kassia Kroszer has spoken at my Book Promotion 101 workshops in L.A.)

On Huffington Post:
One Author's Journey From Twitter-Clueless To Organizing A 48-Writer Social Media Giveaway
For all her raving about Twitter, author Leah Stewart omitted her username: @leahcstewart. And she states that Twitter is "like going to a writers' conference without the booze and ill-considered affairs." Perhaps that's true for her, but some of us (my lips and keyboard are sealed as to who) are having a Real Swell Time.

On Editorial Ass:
The Mystical Blue Yonder (Or, Book Publicity)

On The Book Publicity Blog:
How do you track online “buzz”?

Just for fun (and thought), on "The Daily Show" website:
Women of The Daily Show Speak

The New View from Here: Same as the Old View

Out my front door, 2:47 pm. Can't wait till the temperature goes down (!) to 90°, as forecast for tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The View from Here

As seen from my front door. FEH.

In Memorium

Jenny, March 2007. (Her tongue was mauve on top, pink underneath.)

Jenny, The Best Dog died one year ago today. I still miss her, even though Abby, whom we adopted a month ago, filled the dog-sized hole in my heart. Abby likes to bound into the water to fetch a stick or ball, whereas Jenny's favorite activity was The Pebble Game. See it below (I was still pitching lefty 4 months after the 2nd surgery on my right arm).

Monday, July 05, 2010

Quote for the Day

From Outspoken Is Great, Till It’s Not in today's NYT:
And if you dumped every reporter who ever sent a snide message or talked smack in private, there would be nothing but crickets chirping in newsrooms all over America.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Day in the Life of a Book Publicist

Below is an email exchange between a book publicist (BP) and a publisher (PUB), who advertised for publicity help on Craigslist.

BP: I do book publicity - but one would have to know what exactly these books are before knowing if one could help. Can you send more information?

PUB: Hi BP and thanks for the email. I checked your site out. Anyways, if you are able to do some book publicity, I do have a few authors who need the help, but right now, I was hoping you could focus on just one for now. My author is also a [local] author and her debut novel is a fiction based narrative called, [TITLE]. It's about a woman who [is remarkably similar to a character in "Heroes"]. The book also is about a guy who [is remarkably similar to another character in "Heroes"], but that's all I will say for now! Their lives intersect and becomes a sad surrealistic tale of craziness and love. I love it.

Anyways, I would love to hear your thoughts on what to do with [Author]. My idea would be to get her ten bookstore interviews/book signings in the [local] area, and/or 5 book club meet and greets where she has a chance to direct sale her book.

After this, I was thinking to get her twenty interviews on talk radio/online radio/ and reviews on websites across the net.

So this is all I would need for now. I would like her to maybe hit up some comic shops too....her book kinda falls into the super hero power category.

What do you think? If you are interested, please let me know most of all what you CAN ACTUALLY do and by what time frame and finally what that would cost. Do you accept payments/commission, or a combination of these and a flat fee maybe? If you work with me, I got four other authors who will need your services.

Let me know and thank you so much for responding to my ad either way. Take care. I hope to hear from you very soon!!

BP: So, all very interesting. Perhaps I can help - but I must see the book first - can you send me a copy? I will return it to you if you like. I just can't start jobs without knowing more about what I am getting into. Let me know what you think.

PUB: I would love to send you a copy of the book. I am attaching it as a .pdf format. Please do me a favor and even if you can't do anything for her on a marketing basis, would you provide a small review or opinion so that I can use it on her amazon book listing and my website? Let me know. Thank you>

BP: Hi, started reading it - it did keep me going. But I need the actual book - are you sending that?

PUB: I can send the actual book once we are in some kind of agreement. I hope you understand I just gave you a free copy and once we are in agreement with a pay, I'll send you a copy of the book and subtract it's cost out of your price for work. If you need a book cover, I can send you that as well, unless you have some other reason for wanting the book? Let me know. I am glad to answer any questions you might have and thanks so much for reading it!!! :). I appreciate that and I know [Author] will too. Be kind and give her a review if you get through it and that would be awesome. Take care.

BP: PUB, it is traditional in doing publicity to see and have a copy of that which you are publicizing - content is of course king, but how the book itself looks and is designed are important as well. If I were to help you, I would need several copies to use - we can't expect people to read a pdf all the way through.
Best regards,

PUB: Ok, fair enough. I understand. I will send you what you need once we are in contractual agreement and also you can let me know exactly what the books are going to be used for. I hope that makes sense. Just submit your plan and idea and exactly how you will do what I need and we'll go from there. Take care.

BP: PUB, we seem to have a failure to communicate. Before I give you a plan etc, I need to have a copy of the book itself in my hands. I will return it if need be, but I do not take a job promoting something I have not actually seen. And any book publicist who does isn't thinking clearly. No book in advance, no contract.

PUB: what's wrong with the pdf? It's the same thing as the book minus the front and back cover.....I am not really understanding the problem. I am not going to send you out a free copy of the book because it cost me money and I don't even know if I can afford or use you at this might have the worst ideas in the world or the best, but by sending you a free pdf copy, it's free for me and I save on expenses. I am a small indy publisher keep that in mind please. Every dollar for me counts and I only give away promo books to people that are doing reviews or interviews/book clubs, that sort of thing. You are interested in working for ME, and if you want the job, I would think it wouldn't be too much to ask to have you simply read the pdf and send me a plan of action back. I have had MANY MANY people respond to my ad and ALL of them have done it this way. You HAVE seen the book because it's what I sent you. If you need to have me send you the covers, I can do that as well.

Would it be possible for you even give me an example of some other marketing campaign you have done for another book author, starting from me how and what you did? this way I have an idea of what you have done and you don't even need my book because it's what you've done for something else? Let me know. I'm trying real hard to work with ya here lol

BP: I wish you the best of luck. With MANY MANY people, you'll surely have no problems finding the right person.

PUB: No need to be a smart ass. I realize you probably think it's ok to do that because you are hiding behind a computer, but seriously, I don't appreciate the bold MANY MANY. I wasn't trying to be mean to you at all...I just simply wanted to know EXACTLY what you would do and I didn't understand or see how you having a physical copy of my book is necessary for you to tell me how you would go about going to get reviews and such and do publicity. Plus I already sent you a pdf....I mean...seriously bro, do you just respond to ads and try to get free books or do you actually do marketing? I guess it don't matter...people who act the way you act probably are all talk and no show anyways. Peace.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

BookExpo Wrap-Up

Airily attired ladies hawking THE BURLESQUE HANDBOOK (HarperCollins/ItBooks) across from the Saudi booth, whose all-male staff and visitors kept their eyes averted.

As someone on Twitter commented after a day spent slogging through BookExpo, the book industry won't be dying anytime soon. However, BEA management wasn't on the ball, because many people were unaware that the show was down to 2 days (Wed & Thurs) from its usual 3. Thus they were miffed--to put it mildly--when they stayed at hotels Monday night and arrived for Tuesday appointments to find the show floor closed. That happened to 2 people I'd arranged to meet on Tues., who had missed the post-9am email "reminder" that the exhibition hall wasn't open till Wed. Due to popular demand (aka "complaints"), next year the show will go back to 3 days: May 24-26.

On Tues., after viewing Philippe Halsman's wonderful "Jump" photographs at the Laurence Miller Gallery, lunching with a literary agent and poking through fabric shops, I arrived at the Javits for a 3pm confab about the Virginia Festival of the Book with a Crown publicist. Fifteen lonely minutes later, I discovered that I was 24 hours early. Oops.

To console myself, I grabbed an ARC of Jennifer Donnelly's new YA novel, REVOLUTION, which entranced me until the 4:30 Editors Buzz Panel--and for the next 3 nights. It comes out in October. Don't miss it! I reviewed her first YA novel, A NORTHERN LIGHT, which deserved every prize it received, and then some.

As for the Editors Buzz, which unlike last year was SRO, I tweeted: "I see white people. They're all around me. And they're klutzy with microphones." Once again, most of the 6 panelists apparently hadn't practised their speeches beforehand, and droned/babbled on till I wanted to scream. Moderator John Freeman asked questions to help them out, but some were beyond saving. One notable exception was Cary Goldstein of Twelve, who--surprise!--started out as a publicist. He made a great case for THE EVOLUTION OF BRUNO LITTLEMORE by Benjamin Hale, a novel narrated by a talking chimpanzee who has an affair with a woman and commits murder. (I know: ICK! Goldstein says the book's fantastic, but I passed on picking up an ARC.)

After that I met Kevin Smokler, chief evangelizer for, for drinks & nosh at Hudson Yards Cafe. (Decent food! Reasonable prices!) Whether you're an author or a reader--but especially an author--you MUST check out It's already good, but from what Kevin told me, it's going to get even better in the next few months.

On Wed. morning I attended an excellent program: "Designing & Executing an e-Strategy for Authors: A Publisher & Agency Perspective." No danger of being put to sleep by moderator Charlotte Abbott or panelists Kathleen Schmidt (Director of Publicity & Digital Media, Shreve Williams Public Relations), Ron Hogan (now ex-Director of E-Strategy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Jason Ashlock (principal, Moveable Type Literary Agency). They said a lot of the same things about online publicity that I've been telling my clients, only better, plus offered much information and thoughtful analysis. See highlights on Twitter: #eauthor.

Enterprising salesman (possibly a paid shill) just before a show manager escorted him from the hall.

For the rest of Wed. and all of Thurs. I snaked through the show floor, giving inhouse publicists--most of whom were new to me--info about VaBook. They were way friendlier than when I started representing the festival 8 years ago. Evidently publishers have realized that book festivals are a) good events that b) sell books.

Book bloggers were treated like gold. HarperCollins threw a (sweltering) party for them at the Algonquin on Tues., where I reconnected with old friends, and met authors as well as bloggers. There was an equally packed (slightly cooler) reception downstairs at the Javits on Thurs afternoon. Quite a contrast to the party Unbridled Books hosted at BEA 6 or 7 years ago, where lit bloggers Ron Hogan (Beatrice), Mark Sarvas (The Elegant Variation) and Dan Wickett (Emerging Writers Network) were regarded as an exotic species.

(right) Matilda holds court on a baggage cart in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel.

From the Thurs. bloggers reception I went to the Radisson Martinique. There Ron Hogan and I gave a 90-minute "Polish Your Pitch" workshop for nearly 30 enthusiastic attendees of the Backspace Writers Conference & Agent-Author Seminar.

After that (still with me?), Darling Husband and I went to a party way downtown for The Faster Times, "a new type of newspaper for a new type of world," which officially launches in July. We soon left because I was starving and we had to pick up our bags at the hotel before catching the train at Grand Central Terminal. We just missed the 10:12pm, so got some dessert at Zaro's and moseyed over to the 11:12. And sat. And sat. Then we heard this: "Attention! The 11:12 to Poughkeepsie will be delayed indefinitely." Oyyyy... The train finally left nearly TWO HOURS later. We pulled into Our Gracious Home at 3:15am and fell into bed, aching all over, at 3:45. The birds were starting to tweet as I fell asleep over the denouement of REVOLUTION.

My BEA 2010 Stats

103 business cards
10 books
12 lbs of catalogs

Given away:
100 VaBook postcards
98 Book Promotion 101 business cards
2 Bella Terra Maps catalogs
2 Bella Terra lighthouse maps

Lost: 1 voice

Friday, May 21, 2010

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Bigmouth

My latest find is a perfectly preserved copy of the June 7, 1936, issue of newspaper supplement Screen & Radio Weekly. It contains a profile of my father, who at age 28 had recently appeared in his first feature film, "The Scoundrel." Apparently he was the same loud dresser and talker--and spendthrift ("Anyone who lives within his means suffers from a lack of imagination.")--in youth as he was in his later years.

I didn't scan the fuzzy photo that headed the article; the one just below is a 1936 publicity still from "More than a Secretary." However, the cartoon is within the same section of text as the print version.

Who IS That Guy?

The Name Is Lionel Stander and Here Is His Story, Which Should Answer a Lot of Fans’ Questions

By Barbara Barry

“Madam, what you think of my work is exquisitely unimportant.”

His voice has all the romantic timbre of a rip-saw howling its way through a stubborn pine knot. But, since his pioneer screen appearance, as the dogmatic poet in “The Scoundrel,” men, women and children have been nudging one another, pointing (in a manner that would certainly upset Emily Post) and demanding: “Who IS that man?”

Lionel Stander is the name, folks, and it’s almost as surprising as the Broadway hillbilly suit he was wearing the first time we caught up with him on a Columbia studio set.

Briefly, Stander was born on the wrong side of the New York tracks, which doesn’t bother him a bit. His first job was that of office boy in a window shade factory, and bothered him even less.

Without in the least appreciating the honor, he found himself shoved into college plays at the University of North Carolina, where he was striving to polish off the rough edges of a Bronx education. And one sip of the thespic nectar was enough to send him galloping for home, to hang around the casting offices until the breal reak came along.

“I played everything from thunder and lightning, off stage, to dead bodies falling out of secret panels,” he said. “One night, I landed on a carpet tack and they found out I had a voice.”

“Is that what you call it?” we wondered.

“And, in no time all,” he ignored us, “they handed me a part with one whole ‘side’!” Page, to you all.

That was the beginning of a colossal career. He met Ben Hecht, and Ben faithfully promised him a part in his new show, “The Great Magoo.”

But came the opening night, with Stander viewing the remains from a gallery seat. A lone, rugged individualist.

“It was a crushing blow to the Stander stamina,” he assured us. “But, when the show folded, seeral weeks later, I stowed my gloating in an old gloat bag that I usually carry in case of fire (shades of Joe Cook!) borrowed all the high-powered clothes I could find, and went down to sympathize with Ben.

“Ben was in his office, playing tick-tack-toe on the backs of his creditors’ statements, when I sauntered in, looking like a glorified chorus boy in my borrowed finery.”

With an ill-suppressed groan of anguish, Mr. Hecht looked at Mr. Stander. “What are you laid out for?” he asked. “A Mardi Gras? Why, I knew you when you were an unemployed actor, cooling your round heels in the lobby of the Billy Rose office.”

Mr. Stander looked right back at Mr. Hecht. “Yeah?” he said. “And I knew you ‘way back when you wrote ‘Erik Dorn’—and if you can sell out, why can’t I?”

So, on to “The Scoundrel,” and the eventual nudges, and pointing fingers. And Hollywood.

Stander is the wordiest guy we’ve ever met up with. Big words he uses, dragging hard on them and tingeing them with a quantity of smooth sarcasm We let them fall (those we missed, and they were plenty), feeling that the end must be along about here, somewhere. But no. On and on he talked. And when he’d used up every word in the dictionary, he made up more. Hand embroidered. Extravagantly hyperbolical. Whe-e-e!

After his success in “The Scoundrel,” Stander visited an old vaudeville pal who was living in a cheap hotel in one of the less imposing sections of New York.

Coming down in the elevator, well after midnight, he found himself the object of the elevator boy’s furtive scrutiny. It was pretty disconcerting, but Stander’s a big fellow and felt quite able to cope with any situation, either of brain or brawn.

Suddenly, the elevator slowed down between floors. The good looking though slightly dissipated lad turned to him.

“Your hair is like a tortured midnight,” he said earnestly, almost yearningly.

Stander gasped. His eyebrows flew up and disappeared [illlegible] the “tortured midnight.” That pugnacious lower lip slid out another inch.

“But as we slid down the two remaining floors, it suddenly dawned on me that the kid had merely quoted one of my lines in “'The Scoundrel.'”

“As he was on night duty, and I didn’t have anything particular to do, we got to talking. And, do you know, that small-time elevator operator turned out to be one of the most interesting and intelligent people I’ve ever met?”

It’s a small world, I guess. Or, is it?

Remember the rocky-throated menace that scared the daylights out of small children, on Fred Allen’s radio program several years ago? That was Stander.

He had written a script for radio purposes and peddled it practically all over New York before Allen got hold of it and liked it well enough to invite the author in for an interview.

“Mr. Stander?” Fred said politely.

“Right!” rasped Mr. Stander.

Allen blinked and bounced back in his chair. “Whew!” he exclaimed. “Say that again, will you?”

“Right!” grated the obliging Mr. Stander.

“That’s fine,” Allen smiled. “I wasn’t sure. I mean, that really did come out of you, didn’t it?”

So, the Allen Hour acquired a human buzz-saw and Stander liked the idea so well that he stayed with it for over two years.

“Then the cinema got me,” he said archly, “and here I am. Prostraing myself upon the glorified altar of Art and Frenzied Finance!”

We were off again, and it was way past tea time, too.

Stander is absolutely in favor of Hollywood. So much so that he has already built a home for his wife and two-year-old daughter, who, he says, “Seems to be perfectly normal in spite of her father.”

He draws an amazing salary for one who has been milking the Golden Cow for such a short time, and he would spend every bit of it if it weren’t for his manager, who sees to it that the Stander income is wisely invested.

“I’m on the dole,” he grimaced. “The guy knows me better than I know myself, so all I get is a weekly allowance. And, when that’s gone, I either have to hibernate or pan-handle until next week’s check comes around.

“I need a wet nurse,” he went on, “and it’s comforting to know that I won’t be mowing lawns at the poor house a few years from now when Hollywood gets tired of me.”

But Hollywood doesn’t tire easily of such unique personalities. In fact, the entire populace (with the exception of Uncle Herman, who is laid up with laryngitis, right now) is actually howling for “more Stander.” So, you’re safe for a while, methinks.

Who is that man? Ask no more, kiddies.

He’s a double G man (gerund and genitive); a new Gabriel over ennuied Hollywood. Or something.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Fun with Books

Diamonds Are a Reader's  Best Friend
Stephen Parris is promoting his debut novel The Tavernier Stones with an "armchair treasure hunt" that offers a 1-carat diamond for the lucky winner. See

Per Booklist: Parris's "odd-couple protagonists (John Graf, the Amish cartographer, and David Freeman, the gemologist and jewel thief) make an interesting pair of heroes, and their jaunty relationship gives the novel an agreeable, lighthearted feel. The story itself, which involves a race against intricate without being annoyingly elaborate."

Miss Austen Forever!
This just in from Laurie Viera Rigler, author of the delightful novels Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict:
I have some exciting news to share. There's a new comedy web series inspired by my Austen Addict novels, called SEX AND THE AUSTEN GIRL. In it, my two protagonists face off over the pros and cons of life and love and being a woman in Regency England vs. 21st century L.A.

SEX AND THE AUSTEN GIRL premieres on the broadband network on May 17. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy a peek at the teaser trailer:

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day 5: Healed at Last

 My new Twitterverse. Beyond the fence is a horse farm.

On May 1, 2006, Gomez the horse threw me into a steel-pipe fence outside Denver. My body was smashed and so was my psyche. (See 2009 posts Still Shattered, or The Never-Ending Story; The Never-Ending Story 2: Arm-ageddon and I'm Psychologically Distoibed!)

I'm happy to report that after 4 years and 8 surgeries--plus 2 bonus surgeries not caused by Gomez--I'm finally healed, if not all better. (There's a difference.) I owe it to therapeutic massage from the fantabulously gifted Dirk McQuistion, founder of, who gave me hope after the doctors gave up; Somatic Experiencing therapy from the wonderful Mel Grusing; and moving to Rhinebeck, where nothing reminds me of the last 4 years, and just going outside makes me happy.

Max is also happy to be here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Horse Leg Redux: Cadaverous

Further to my previous post--and egged on by my friend Stefanie, the artistic, cultural & now literary doyenne of Schuyler, VA--I sent Dr E the following message:

Inquiring minds want to know:

  1. Did you often cut off horse legs?
  2. Why must the legs be put outside to "weather"?
  3. Most important: Are there many more in the backyard?
Under the header "Cadaverous," she responded:

Well, Bella, it goes something like this:

In human surgery, rubber cadavers are made to hone stereoscopic skills like arthroscopy. No such luck in equine field. As such, to hone and retain skills, cadaver limbs can be harvested off horses that have died for other reasons. They are typically frozen and then thawed for practice.

I thawed this limb for practice but made the mistake of doing so on a weekend when I was on call. I got called in repeatedly and as such the limb was past its best, so I decided that it would not go to waste if I allowed time and microbes to ravage the soft tissue, leaving me with a nice anatomic specimen that could then be further cleaned (with acetone etc. to de-grease). Such specimens are helpful when explaining to a client a problem with a structure in the limb, since the anatomy is so different from a human.

I am completely at a loss as to whether there would be another limb. I never thawed more than two at a time, and in the majority of instances it was one at a time only due to time constraints. The only consolation I offer you is that the extreme length of time and overwintering the bones have encountered will render them no more noxious that digging in the garden.

I trust that satisfactorily answers your questions. I was talking to a friend and expressing amazement that you had a blog. We then discussed how amazing it is that we become so familiar with various things in our lives (like the use of cadaver tissue for learning) that it becomes part of our 'normal' and that we fail to recognize how bizarre it is in someone else's 'reality'!!!

As my uncle would have said--all a matter of perspective--his famous example being: "The grass is greener on the other side of the fence due to the palisade effect and does not look so green when you look down at your feet and see a mixture of brown earth and green stems!!!!"

Murder mystery writers may be interested to know that the horse leg in question still has some hair on it and is a bit smelly. Hence I covered it with more leaves, capped by a large stone to deter critters. And just in case Dr E's memory is faulty, I'm not doing any more digging in the 3-foot strip between the stone wall and back fence.

Monday, April 12, 2010

About that Horse Leg in the Backyard...

Email exchange between me and the previous tenant of my Gracious Home in Rhinebeck, a British equine surgeon.

Me: While tidying up the yard, I picked up a rectangular white plastic bin that was sitting upside down between the stone wall & back fence, to the right of the shed. Underneath it I was surprised to find a horse's hoof and foreleg protruding from a pile of leaves (now buried under more leaves, capped by a rock). I was wondering whether you know anything about this.

Horse doc: Oh I am so very sorry about the leg in the yard. I put them out to weather and they have been there a very long time. I completely forgot. Very sorry. They could prob go in normal trash now.

They??? I am so not digging any deeper. Nor will I be putting any horse legs, weathered or not, out for the Monday trash pick-up.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

At the Cinema with Dad & Me

UK film magazine The Big Picture has an article about my father, Lionel Stander (above in "The Loved One"):

Jez Connolly of The Big Picture also did an online interview with me: First Person

Saturday, March 27, 2010


This NYT article, With No Jobs, Time for Tea Party, left me sputtering in disbelief & horror. Excerpt (emphasis mine):

When Tom Grimes lost his job as a financial consultant 15 months ago, he
called his congressman, a Democrat, for help getting government health care.
Then he found a new full-time occupation: Tea Party activist....

He blames the government for his unemployment. “Government is absolutely responsible, not because of what they did recently with the car companies, but what they’ve done since the 1980s,” he said. “The government has allowed free trade and never set up any rules.

He and others do not see any contradictions in their arguments for smaller
government even as they argue that it should do more to prevent job loss or cuts
to Medicare. After a year of angry debate, emotion outweighs fact....

Mr. Grimes, for his part, is thinking of getting a part-time job with the Census Bureau.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Movers are packing up my life as I write. Tomorrow everything goes on a van. Friday we fly to New York. On April 2 we face the unspeakable pleasure of unpacking furnishings for a 1900 sq ft home into 1300 sq ft, plus a very large (dry!) basement.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Hardest Farewell of All

Boy Wonder's well-loved stuffed animals, on a closet shelf for 4 years, to be boxed up for the next generation. [SNIFFLE...]

VaBook Festival: The Business of Book Reviewing

Here are the Greatest Hits of what Washington Post Book World deputy editor Ron Charles said during the program I hosted last Friday, "The Business of Book Reviewing: Changes and Challenges." You can see and hear moderator Bethanne Kelly Patrick (at left) and author/reviewer Katharine Weber (at right), and hear one comment by me (explaining "trade magazines").

I'm too busy getting ready for my move to NY this week to write my own post about the festival, so read author & consulting client Clifford Garstang's comments here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Off to Virginia Festival of the Book!

It's March Madness for me: From Thurs-Sat I'm conducting a Book Promotion 101 workshop, moderating 2 panels and hosting a 3rd, plus holding a lunch for 33 and dinner for 18.

I get back to Denver Sunday night, then the movers pack up all our stuff Wednesday and load the van Thursday. Next Friday, Darling Husband and I, with Max the Cat in tow, fly to New York. (The Boy Wonder plans to remain in Denver and hone his couch-surfing skills.)

Here are my events at VaBook, in my former hometown of Charlottesville:

Candy & Booze: Good for the Jews? (moderator)
Thu. March 18th, 2010 - 7:00 PM
Katharine Weber (TRUE CONFECTIONS) and Max Watman (CHASING THE WHITE DOG: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine) discuss the often-crossing paths of immigrant Jewish candymakers and bootleggers.

Book Promotion 101
Fri. March 19th, 2010 - 9:00 AM
Intensive publicity workshop for authors of commercially published books, led by Bella Stander. Guest speakers: Alison Larkin (THE ENGLISH AMERICAN) and Mary Sharratt (DAUGHTERS OF THE WITCHING HILL). Advance registration required, class limited to 10. Hosted by WriterHouse.

The Business of Book Reviewing: Changes and Challenges (host)
Fri. March 19th, 2010 - 4:00 PM
With Ron Charles (Washington Post), David Montgomery (Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Beast), and freelancers Rebecca Skloot and Katharine Weber. Moderated by Bethanne Kelly Patrick.

Book Promotion for the 21st Century
Sat. March 20th, 2010 - 10:00 AM
Bella Stander (Book Promotion 101) talks with authors Carleen Brice (CHILDREN OF THE WATERS), Rebecca Skloot (THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS), Jag Bhalla (I'M NOT HANGING NOODLES ON YOUR EARS), and publicist Kelly Powers (Obie Joe Media) about what it takes to get your book noticed in the fragmented media world.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quote of the Day

From today's NYT Fashion Diary by the sharp-eyed/eared/witted Guy Trebay:

“People used to have fun,” said Stéphane Feugère, the indefatigable photographer who has spent the last eight years shooting fashion parties and people, on assignment for French Vogue.

“But then everyone got a camera,” Mr. Feugère added, “and now they all wait for someone else to have fun so they can shoot it.”

Better than Ipecac

I challenge you to read this and not retch at the last line. The highlowlights, from The Salt Lake Tribune:
House Majority Leader Kevin Garn resigns amid hot tub scandal

House Majority Leader Kevin Garn announced Saturday he was resigning from the Utah Legislature, two days after revelations of a nude hot-tubbing incident with a minor 25 years ago and a payment to keep it quiet....

Garn, of Layton, admitted the two had sat nude in a Salt Lake City hot tub. He insisted there was no sexual contact, but admitted that it was wrong. [Cheryl] Maher insists there was touching and physical contact, but declined to elaborate.

In 2002, when Garn, a Republican, was running for Congress, she began contacting reporters and Garn arranged to pay her $150,000, provided she sign an agreement not to go public with the incident. She signed a nondisclosure agreement and Garn paid her the money in 2003, well after he had lost the Republican congressional primary....

With the news about to break, Garn made an emotional statement from the House floor Thursday night, with his wife by his side, apologizing to his colleagues and constituents....

His statement drew a standing ovation from his House colleagues, many of whom lined up to console Garn and his wife.

Full article in Salt Lake Tribune

Point of View

I'm just back from a week in New York, where Darling Husband and I signed a lease on a 1950s ranch house in Rhinebeck.

In square footage (1300 vs 1900) and architecture it doesn't compare well to the Victorian house in Denver we're selling:

But lot size (1/2 acre vs 40x100 ft) and the view looking out make all the difference.

From the front:

And best of all, from the back:

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Quote of the Day

“I ache for the return of dysfunction. Dysfunction had its problems, but at least dysfunction has function in its title. We are not functioning at all.”

--NY Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell, quoted in NYT

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Virginia Culture Lovers, Please Help!

This just in from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, which sponsors the highlight of my year, the Virginia Festival of the Book. (Coming next month!)

Over the weekend, the Virginia House Appropriations Committee voted to cut state funding for VFH by $290,000, effective July 1, 2010, and to eliminate all state funding for VFH, effective July 1, 2011. The Senate Finance Committee recommended cutting the VFH budget by $290,000 effective July 1, 2010, but recommended no further cuts. Each House will vote on its own budget on February 25, and the difference in the two budgets will be resolved in conference committee.

VFH has already experienced deep cuts, in the last two budget years, adversely affecting every VFH program. Additional cuts will undermine such well-known educational programs as the Virginia Festival of the Book, Encyclopedia Virginia, VFH Grants and Fellowships, With Good Reason Radio programs; African American, Virginia Indian, and Virginia Folklife Programs.

Call, fax, or email your State Delegates and Senators to protest additional cuts to advocate for continued funding. Find your legislators’ contact information here.
  • Be personal. Talk about your involvement and commitment to the VFH.
  • Forward this request to your boards, membership, and address book.
  • Post a comment on your Facebook or other social networking site, asking that other Virginians contact their legislators as well.
  • Write a post on your personal blog stating how you feel about these budget cuts.
  • Email or call your local news outlets to express your dismay and describe the effect of such cuts.
Talking Points for These Contacts with Legislators and Media Outlets
  • VFH funding and programs increase the attractiveness of the state as a tourism destination by assisting museums and cultural sites to provide excellent visitor experiences.
  • VFH Grants support organizations and communities important to you and your representatives.
  • VFH increases the attractiveness of communities to new businesses.
  • VFH builds the educational capacity of Virginia's teachers by providing resources and professional development opportunities.
  • VFH provides financial and professional development support to Virginia's museums, building community social capital and pride.
  • VFH Leverages state funds with cash and in-kind matches.
  • VFH promotes a vigorous exchange of ideas, and is a leader in modeling civil public dialogue. Radio shows like With Good Reason improve our understanding of the issues we face as a Commonwealth and a nation. The Virginia Festival of the Book is a nationally recognized model of public discussion. Now more than ever, our situation requires that we approach public policy with an understanding of the past, a willingness to confront issues of the present, and a commitment to shaping a more promising future.
Click here for additional information on how VFH programs contribute to the economic and educational vitality of the Commonwealth.

Additional Sources of Information on VFH Programs and Advocacy Tips
Effects of Cuts (doc)
Program Accomplishments (doc)
VFH Programs
VFH Website
VFH Mission and Strategic Vision
General VFH Information (doc)
Advocacy Tips (doc)
The Do's and Don'ts of Legislative Letter Writing (pdf)
Advocacy Visit Report Form (doc)
About the Humanities (pdf)

Find Your Virginia General Assembly Representatives
Who's My Legislator?
Contact Information of Senators
Contact Information of Delegates

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Grandma was right: The value of "Thank You"

From a consulting client:

I was contacted by a book club that told me their library has “book kits” for book clubs, in which they have a bag that contains 10 books, reading guide questions and anything else pertinent to the book, and that their library is using my book for one of the book kits.

I promptly sent a hand-written thank you card to the head librarian. Today, I got an email asking me if I’d like to do a reading/signing at the library. They would publicize it in their newsletter that goes out to 6000 homes, as well as on their website. Never would have happened if I hadn’t sent the thank-you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Scourge of Anti-Semantics

From a Secret Correspondent:
One of the guests at a recent dinner used to coordinate the University of Virginia's Semester at Sea--a cruise with a teeny bit of schoolwork thrown in. The standard for admission was ability to pay, so the level of intellect wasn't what this prof was used to.

One of the assignments was to write about 20th century German history. It turns out that prior to World War II there was a huge wave of anti-semantics in that country! Several students wrote this; evidently they couldn't manage to copy the Wikipedia page correctly.

"The writer has led us back to ourselves."

My friend and Charlottesville VA Literary Lady Janis Jaquith gave a terrific keynote speech in January at the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. Read it at her website, or listen (if you have QuickTime) here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Quote of the Week

"I would go as far as I could and hit a wall, my own imagined limitations. And then I met a fellow who gave me his secret, and it was pretty simple. When you hit a wall, just kick it in."

--Patti Smith, JUST KIDS

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Le plus ça change: News from 1862

While doing research for the forthcoming Bella Terra Southeast Lighthouses Map, I came across this interesting item in a New York Times article from January 13, 1862:
Rev. Dr. Fischel, of New-York, had yesterday an interview with the President, to urge the appoinitment of Jewish Chaplains for every military Department, they being excluded by an act of Congress from the volunteer regiments, among whom there are thousands of Israelites. In the meantime the Doctor will take charge of the spiritual welfare of the Jewish soldiers on the Potomac. The President assured him that the subject will receive his earnest attention, and expressed the opinion that this exclusion was altogether unintentional on the part of Congress.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Catch Me If You Can

After spending most of Oct-Dec in bed recovering from surgery for a herniated lumbar disc, I'm going to be zooming around again. Here's my events schedule (so far) thru May.

January 24 - Book Promotion 101 Teleseminar
3:00-4:30pm ET (12:00-1:30 PT)
Includes Q&A, Marketing Plan Worksheet & private 15-minute follow-up consultation.

January 29 & 30 - Space Coast Writers Guild Conference
Cocoa Beach, FL
  • "Book Promotion 101"
  • "Polish Your Pitch"
  • individual 10-minute pitch coaching sessions

March 19 - Book Promotion 101 Workshop
WriterHouse, Charlottesville, VA
Guest speaker: Alison Larkin, author of The English American

Virginia Festival of the Book, Charlottesville

March 18, 7:00pm - "Candy & Booze: Good for the Jews?" Moderator; with Katharine Weber (True Confections) and Max Watman (Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw’s Adventures in Moonshine).

March 19, 4:00pm - "The Business of Book Reviewing: Changes & Challenges"

Host; Ron Charles, Washington Post, and freelancers David Montgomery, Rebecca Skloot and Katharine Weber; moderated by Bethanne Kelly Patrick.

March 20, 10:00am - "Book Promotion for the 21st Century">
Moderator; with nonfiction author Jag Bhalla, novelist Carleen Brice, book publicist Kelly Powers and science writer Rebecca Skloot.

Backspace Writers Conference, New York

May 27, 6:00pm - "Polish Your Pitch" with Ron Hogan