Sunday, December 26, 2010

Very Special Books

Happy Holidays! Here is a blog I wrote for www.bookreporter.com about books that have meant a lot to me during the holidays. I get a little teary eyed even all these years later just reading the entry.
http://blog.bookreporter.com/blog/2010/12/books-and-holidays-linda-francis-lee-day-after-christmas

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finding Power

I believe that every once in a while, everyone needs to take a deep breath, slow down, even if for just a second. A deep breath helps still the hectic pace that consumes us, a franticness that becomes such a habit that we don't realize we are talking fast or making snap decisions with little to no thought. I don't believe frantic anything creates great results. So if we take a moment to breathe deeply, to still our racing minds, then we physically calm our bodies, allowing us to move forward with power and ultimately we create greater things.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Linda Blogs at AuthorMagazine.org

This is a blog I did for a great magazine for readers and writers called AuthorMagazine.org. I hope you enjoy!

http://www.authormagazine.org/editors_blog/?tag=linda-frances-lee

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Sound of Music

2010 is the 45th Anniversary of the movie The Sound of Music. And like so many people, the Rogers and Hammerstein classic had a profound effect on me as a child. When I came home from the movie I tried to sing every song, I danced around the house, I ran back and forth across the front lawn like I was running through the hills. Back in the day, movies didn't come out on DVD, but good movies, big movies, returned to town every year. And every year for my birthday my mother took me to see the movie again. I didn't wish for a perfect singing nun of a mother – I already had one . . . minus the nun part, well, and, minus the singing part. I didn't wish for an unruly bunch of siblings – I had that too. It was as if I had a sense of believing in something and going for it, in making dreams come true. Sometimes it takes movies and books to remind us of that.

That is what I love the most about movies and books - the way they can show our best selves triumphing over adversity, or sometimes triumphing over our own worst selves. I love the idea that we can triumph, that we aren't stuck. That's why I love most any hero's journey. And The Sound of Music is definitely that.

If you've seen The Sound of Music, what is your favorite scene? And/or, what movie affected you the most when you were growing up?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner Gone Awry

Over the years I have cooked in spurts and bouts like some people exercise and diet. Ha! I'm like a Weekend Warrior of Cooking - do it like crazy, then Monday morning wake up sore all over. And I blame Thanksgiving.

It happened the first year I was married when I decided to make a big Thanksgiving dinner for friends. It wasn't Thanksgiving Day, but just before so we could celebrate our small running groups' friendship. I slaved over turkey, dressing, gravy and string beans. I also made a pumpkin pie using my mother's amazing pie crust recipe. Mike added his mash potatoes, for which he is famous. The amount of work was staggering, but I was excited.

Finally when the six of us were seated around the dining table, Mike carved the turkey. With the first slice he got a strange look on his face. "Mmm, looks great, honey," he said, with the sort of false smile of a man who doesn't want to disappoint his new wife.

Soon plates were served, and my husband and good friends tried their hardest to eat what I had to admit (though reluctantly) was an inedible meal. The turkey was well on its way to being turkey jerky. The green beans were still crunchy, the gravy filled with lumps, the dressing like saw dust. I chewed and chewed and attempted a fake, completely-in-denial smile while our good friends pushed their food around their plates. Though let me just say, they were scarfing up mashed potatoes like there was no tomorrow. But finally my disappointment (and maybe even my pride) took a back seat and I said, "If I'm not going to starve to death, you better pass me the potatoes."

Everyone's eyes went wide, then they burst out laughing like an audience at a play. After that we had a good laugh and fought over the last bites of mash potatoes. But let me just say, despite the disastrous main course and my husband's fabulous potatoes, my pie was perfect.

During this Thanksgiving Season, I feel thankful that I have such lovely friends and family, in person and here on this home I have found on the Internet! I'm also thankful for someone other than me cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How I Got Published

The most frequently asked question of any author is: Where do you get your ideas? The second most asked question seems to be: How did you get published? Probably the most important part of my answer is that I had a manuscript. A completed manuscript. And a query letter that was written in my voice – which is a whole other discussion.

It was several years ago and I hadn't a clue what I was doing, knew nothing about the publishing industry. But I had written a book of my heart. I had never heard of any of the guides to finding publishers, but I created a list of five publishers based on books they published that were in a similar category to mine. And thankfully, through other author acknowledgements, I pulled together a list of editors whose books I enjoyed so I could send each query letter to a specific editor rather than to a generic Dear Hopefully Pertinent Publishing House. Today this seems an antiquated way of going about things, but at the end of the day, fundamentally, I was doing market research and learning who published what.

Once I had my list, I sent out five query letters. Three of the five asked to see the manuscript. Then six weeks to the day after I mailed the manuscripts I received a call asking to buy the book. It turned out that two of the three publishers wanted it. It sounds like a fairy tale, but what I learned soon after was that I would have been better served with a good agent.

At the time I was unagented and the editor who bought the book promptly jumped ship and moved to another publisher. However, I didn't know she was gone until six months later when another editor called and said, I found this manuscript in Ms. Deserting Editor's stack. Can you give me some history on how we acquired it? Thankfully Ms. New Editor and I hit it off (we are still friends today) and they published the book, and four others after that – though all under different names, different types of books, no rhyme or reason to what I was doing. It took taking the time to write another book of my heart and getting a good agent before I started moving forward.

This has been on my mind recently because a friend is taking a course on getting published. Many in the class already work in some capacity in NYC publishing and half of them have come down firmly in the camp of an agent is a waste of 15%. I couldn't disagree more. Sure, a bad agent is worse than no agent at all. But nothing can take the place of a good agent who will help guide your career. Thankfully I survived my early missteps. But in today's publishing environment that is ruled by sales track and publishing plans, missteps can be fatal.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Linda Francis Lee in NYC Webisode #6 Getting Stuffed at a Street Fair

When we first moved to Manhattan in 1998 I hadn't spent much time in the city. I remember getting ready to move and talking to my editor, trying to get a handle on what it is like to live in a city that felt like nothing I could understand. It was just before the time of Sex and the City and the new way the show painted life in New York - fun and sexy and glamorous. For the two decades prior to that, New York was mainly portrayed through gritty cop shows and movies. So I couldn't imagine where you bought groceries or went to the cleaners. How did you get around? I had a million questions, but I was also excited about the move. There are so many facets of life in NYC. But one thing that I remember so well is coming out of our apartment the first weekend we were there to find the street closed off and lined with food vendors, craft-makers, musicians, and thousands of people crowding the booths and street. It was like a great big party to welcome me to Manhattan. As it turned out in NYC, there is a street fair just about every weekend throughout the summer and early fall. And for today's Linda Francis Lee in NYC webisode, I am taking you to one. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Golfing with my Father

The first time I took up a golf club I was in elementary school. It wasn't that I was crazy about the sport, but I loved that at the end of the classes we had a father-daughter tournament and for the length of the course it was just me and my dad. We played with another father-daughter team, but I was barely aware of them. My dad talked about my stroke, about playing, about aspects of the game. My father was a very busy man and he was also a great golfer. So for him to take that much time to focus on me in that sport made me feel special. Sure, it sounds like a daughter desperate for her busy father's attention. But what daughter doesn't want to be noticed? What child doesn't want to be noticed? And to this day when I talk to kids, I make a point to set the world aside and focus. Really listen to what they are saying. The same with adults. Because at the end of the day, don't we all want to be seen?

All this to get to the point of this week's Linda Francis Lee in NYC video! There is so much to do in NYC. But given that it's a small, crowded island with so little open space, the thought of golf doesn't come to mind when thinking of NYC. But there is sports complex called Chelsea Piers on the west side that has just about every sport you can imagine. And yes, you can play golf. At least you can sort of play golf. And to this day I can't pick up a golf club without in some way remembering that father-daughter tournament and feeling special.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Champagne Atop The Met

The first time I heard about watching the sun go down while sipping Champagne of the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art I knew I had to do it. When you're down on the city streets, NY is like a live wire. Energized, frenetic, always moving. You get used to it, New Yorkers move through the streets like needle and thread, weaving through people and cars. Or perhaps it's more like a carefully choreographed dance. People pass in front of each other with only inches to spare. The key is to not stop, not block, simply glide and weave. And somehow it works. But when you go up onto a rooftop that has views that stretch on forever, the frenetic pace of NYC falls away, the noise disappears, and you float, you find peace. And there is no better place to do that than in the October when the weather is cooling off, the leaves just starting to change.

Here is a video of my trip to the top of the Met!

Enjoy!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adventures in Brooklyn

In Webisode #2 I dressed up high heels and fancy clothes and went out on the town. But this week it's all about NYC going country. More specifically, The Crew and I took the train to Brooklyn and ate at the much ballyhooed Pies N Thighs.I hadn't been to Brooklyn since 1991 – and let me just say a lot has changed since then.

During that trip, the mystery cameraman, my younger brother, his fiancĂ© and I were visiting Manhattan. Dressed in our button-downs and flowery summer dresses we got in a car and drove over the Manhattan Bridge with the vague idea of making it to Coney Island. We drove over the bridge with relative ease and were feeling pretty good about the whole endeavor until we hit Flatbush Avenue. As it turned out Brooklyn back in '91 was not the perfect place for button-downed, flowery dressed Texans just off the turnip truck.Given the war zone look of the place - cars on blocks missing pretty much everything except their metal shells - we figured out our mistake pretty quickly. We made a hard right in hopes of getting turned around only to end up on a dead end street hemmed in on either side by parked cars. We sat there stunned for half a second until several fellows appeared out of nowhere and started sauntering our way – and they didn't look like members of AAA intent on giving us directions. The mystery cameraman has always been a good driver in precarious situations (I've been in the car with him when he managed narrowly to avoid another car pinballing against concrete barriers on an icy interstate) and he was at his best when he threw the car into reverse and drove backwards at a high rate of speed and as straight as any line drawn with a ruler.

We made it back over the bridge and I hadn't even considered Brooklyn since. But all these years later, now living in Manhattan, Pies N Thighs in Brooklyn beckoned. Brooklyn has changed dramatically over the years, and this time I found a perfectly nice neighborhood no different from a lot in Manhattan . . . and some serious pies and thighs.

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Changing

You hear people say that it's impossible to change. But scientists will tell you that we are made to change, every cell in our body regenerating every seven years. And if our bodies change, why can't we? I think people don't change because change it is hard. It's uncomfortable, it takes effort. More than that, it takes looking deep and seeing what you may or may not be doing right. Change must be precipitated by the acknowledgment that we aren't perfect. While most people do lip service to this idea, it is just that. Lip service. Most people like to think they do everything perfectly – NEED to think they are doing things perfectly. That speech? Awesome. That presentation? Never better. That last purchase? That last conversation with a loved one? Perfect! But every once in a while something happens and we are forced to look deep. And when we do, if we see that we could be better, I believe the measure of a person is in what they do about it. Simply move on? Refuse to recognize what is there? Or attempt to do the hard work involved in becoming a better person. Because change truly is possible.

Of course POSSIBLE doesn't mean it is EASY. Behavior is in large part caused by a series of habits, and habits create neural pathways in the brain. Neural pathways help a body do things repeatedly easily. But when the habit is bad, it's hard to break that neural pathway, break the habit. In order to change, the habit must be broken, the neural pathway erased. Breaking neural pathways takes patience, perseverance. But it seems to me that a life well lived is one where at the end of it we have grown, we have not been stagnant. We have truly lived.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Linda Francis Lee in NYC Webisode #2 Night Out on the Town

Here is the new Linda Francis Lee in NYC Webisode #2!

Night on the Town

Linda Francis Lee in NYC Webisode #2 is up and running . . . A Night Out on the Town

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFZsTDWM0PE

Monday, October 4, 2010

Welcome to My New York!

Welcome to My New York!

I'll never forget the day I learned I was moving to the Northeast. I was a born and raised Texan, had never spent time north of the Mason-Dixon line, and was partial to big blond hair. I couldn't imagine liking the gritty land of Law & Order or more snow in a year than I was used to seeing in a decade – if that. But the minute I saw the Manhattan skyline rise up in the distance I fell in love.

I've been in Manhattan for twelve years now, years that have cobbled me into a very different person than the one I was when I drove over the George Washington Bridge. I've flattened my hair (sort of), know the best times of day to hail a cab, and no longer say things like "Aren't you sweet" to people on the subway. But am I a New Yorker? Not exactly. I am some sort of mixed breed now, a Texan living in New York – and as a writer, it's a perfect mix that allows me to be an observer of NYC in all its glorious contradictions. It is New York's energy, its excitement, its neighborhood gems that Outlanders frequently don't see or know about that I am going to share with you every Monday in my new video series, Linda Francis Lee in NYC. I will show you restaurants, shops (even grocery shopping!), things to do, places to see beyond the traditional tourist spots. I will give you a taste of what it is like actually to live in NYC. I hope you will come along for the ride!

So with no further ado, I present the very first Linda Francis Lee in NYC video!

Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sex and the City and Pastis




This weekend I didn't get a bit of writing done. But it was a lovely weekend nonetheless. Started with a run early Saturday morning as the sun was coming up and I had a moment where the crisp air in Central Park reminded me of running in the Upper Valley in El Paso. I felt transported back to a time of being newly married and long runs. After that we did another video shoot—one that won't run until February but the location will be closed in the winter—and at one point the mystery cameraman had me laughing so hard I thought I would fall out of the boat. This perhaps is why so many years after early morning runs in a river valley in Texas the mystery cameraman and I are still married. Anyway, later we dashed to be at the Standard hotel for drinks with friends. The Gold Room at the Standard is a must-see place for the views alone and across the hall you can go out on the roof where there is a pool. After drinks we walked through the Meatpacking district with its cobbled streets to Pastis for dinner. Pastis is a mainstay in NYC, and one of my favorite places because the energy is so good. We had a prime rib that was done perfectly with spinach and potatoes au gratin and a Mediterranean salmon served on a cous cous with African spices. We finished up with the molten chocolate cake and a Muscat. But what finally permeated by brain was that we were surrounded by a security detail. Men in suits with ear pieces and discreet badges. And not just one or two men. It was like ten of these guys, and outside there were police and military vehicles, soldiers with automatic rifles. I would like to think that the upcoming launch of my video channel caused such a stir that I needed a security detail! (You can stop laughing now.) Alas, Israel's prime minister was having dinner at the table just beyond ours. And for all you Sex and the City fans . . . remember the corner table where Baryshnikov and Carrie were having dinner before all the art snobs came and sat with them, making Carrie feel insecure? The Prime Minister and crew were sitting at the same table. Though no one looked like they were feeling insecure!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Question of Happiness

I'm always thinking. Analyzing. Figuring out. The fact is that's what a writer does: make sense of something then find a way to "show" it in fiction or nonfiction. However I have wondered if I do this because I write, or if I write because I do this. The whole chicken or egg question. I suspect for me that writing is the outlet for all my thinking, a place to channel or process all the thoughts that spin in my head. My very first memories are of trying to figure out, to make sense of a world I didn't understand.

I've been aware of this for a while. I've been on a quest to make sense of the world for decades. Quite frankly, for me, I think half the joy of writing is the puzzle of it all. I'm enlightened! That makes me happy! But recently after finishing up one of the Linda Francis Lee in NYC video shoots, the mystery cameraman and I stopped at an outdoor café for a drink and given the crowds we ended up sitting with a couple from out of town. We began to talk about life, aging, happiness. What struck me was that this lovely gentleman said that he had been perfectly happy until it was pointed out to him that he was not. I can't get that out of my head! My unquestionably existential question is: Was he really? If someone pointed out to him that he didn't appear happy could he possibly have been happy? Could he not have been aware of his "grumpy" state? And if he wasn't aware, was it possible that the way he acted didn't affect him, only his partner who admittedly wasn't happy and searching, questioning? Moreover, if the gentleman truly had been happy, is it possible that people who don't spend time thinking, analyzing, figuring out are happier than people who simply exist on the surface?

I doubt it, but of course I would think that! How could I afford to NOT think that? But as a writer, the question circles in my head. I probe it from different directions like a scientist trying to make sense of a conundrum. And, of course, I will use whatever nugget of truth comes out of the analysis in a book!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Frustrating Books - Plotting Woes

So this is the thing. I am reading a book (which will remain nameless) that I was loving. I loved the characters was interested to see where the plot was going, what happened next . . . Everything a book needs to be for me until bam, I hit the end of the first act and learn the first pivotal plot turning point. This is the telling moment as to what happened that caused the story to exist. It is the basic premise--the justification for how the main character proceeds in life, that piece on which the entire plot hangs--and I don't buy it! I mean, I'm like WTF? You're kidding me, right? Dear Author, What were you thinking? Which brought me back to that place of plotting, and how hard it is sometimes to see clearly. Sometimes as a writer you know where you're going before you know how you will get there, which, if you're not careful, will force you to hammer a square peg of motivation into a round hole of a plot. I have learned the hard way that no matter how you hammer, that kind of plot will never be organic.

I am continuing to read, but every time the character makes use of his justification for what has happened or where he finds himself in life, I cringe thinking: No way would any thinking human being have done what you supposedly did . . . or more specifically, the character the author presented in the first 100 pages would not have done what supposedly he did.

Not to say that as a writer I could have done it better. This is just about how as a reader it is disappointing to be falling in love only to have the love affair ripped apart when it is in its budding stages as if I had just witnessed an infidelity!

After hitting a plot point that makes little sense to you, can you keep reading?



Thursday, September 9, 2010

How I Write

Given that I'm a writer, for years I have spent more time alone in front of a computer than with people in an office chatting at the water cooler, or even gossiping in a social setting. And when I write I don't really see the words on the screen. I actually "see" the story unfolding like a movie playing in my head. My job is to find the words to express what I see fast enough not to lose the image . . . which means that I spend a lot of time staring, seeing something that no one else is seeing. This came home to me the other day when I was on the subway, thinking through plot, lost in my head. When I finally blinked out of the scene I was staring at the person across from me . . . and not the sort you really want to find yourself staring at in a New York City subway. I've lived here long enough not to show any emotion, just shift my eyes away ever so slightly, then start staring at the space next to the guy's shoulder. As if I wasn't intimidated. As if I hadn't been staring at him at all. As if I could care less if he started channeling Robert DeNiro with a slightly altered, "You lookin' at me?" But it has made me wonder if other writers write that way, seeing what is in their heads, and if they do, how do they break the habit of staring!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weird Day







Yesterday was a really weird day. I woke up and felt off – not like I was getting a cold off, or in a bad mood off. Just weird off. When I was running I finally started feeling normal, but then my toe hit a rock and I had a startling moment where I realized I was going down. Given that I usually run on the bridle path which is nothing but gravel, dirt, and cinders, I have tripped before but have never gone down. In fact I can't remember a time ever when I have fallen. So I hobble home bleeding to clean up. Once I was bandaged and wearing pants, I went out to run errands only to find the shops were being evacuated after a bomb scare. Even the subway lines were shut down because the suspicious bag was right over a train stop. After that I got in a cab and the driver bizarrely stayed behind a slow moving vehicle while the lanes on either side of us were empty. Out of the cab I had to pick my way through a throng of people. Apparently Jay-Z had arrived at Chanel to shop – or so the security guard said. I love living in NYC. But I usually manage to avoid the places and times of day that prove why Manhattan can, at times, be a challenging place to live. Not yesterday. So I sat down, took a deep breath, and cleared my head. I shook off the weird feelings. Then I headed out to Long Island to have dinner on the Sound and the whole world seemed to right itself. I know the whole energy thing can sound like mumbo jumbo. But it never fails to amaze me how consciously centering myself can change how the world spins around me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sap-orama

I love shows like Behind the Music. I love stories about underdogs or losers who make good. But it's not because I like watching all the heartache and break down and really bad hairstyles that these people go through in pursuit of their goals. I love that eventually these are stories of people who didn't give up or give in. Because of that dogged perseverance eventually they succeed. I'm a sap that way. A big time, Grade A, massive sap-lover. I mean really, how can you not love a story about someone who makes it, someone who goes through the Ups and Downs and comes out the other side winning.

In some ways these types of stories remind me that life really is about the downs as much as the ups. And I have to believe that if you can in some way learn to enjoy the whole big cauldron of messy, not-perfect moments – or at least not be taken out by them – that you can get to the Ups all the sooner. The light at the end of the tunnel always surprises me when it appears out of nowhere. So when I don't see it, I remind myself that the tunnel frequently holds a hard left turn and as a result the light is out of sight . . . and might be closer than I realize. So go for it. Don't give up. And love the sap!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

California Dreamin'

I tend to think I don't have time to get away. When I do, it feels as if it's all about doing, going, making sure I miss nothing. But I have been in California for a week now and for the first time I get why getting away is a good thing to do.

I think a difference in this trip from others, is that I am here primarily for work and feel no need to sightsee. I just have to exist in another world, enjoy different surroundings and amazing weather. I am working, but in a way that feels like my paradigm has somehow shifted.

The first couple of days I was still in that tightly wound work mode. But then I could actually feel the unwinding, the slowing down, my brain opening up, and I felt creative in a way that I hadn't when I was so focused on my normal daily schedule. Now to take that same sense of expansion back to NYC with me when I leave.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hold On Loosely

Or as my brother-in-law was sure the song was called . . . Hold On Lucy. . .

I have a lot going on right now in a way that I've never had a lot going on before. It's hard to explain what I feel about it all, though thankfully it's not overwhelmed. It's like I feel organized. I feel like I'm keeping my eye on everything, balancing, even dreaming about keeping it all going. I feel invigorated by it all, excited. But I didn't understand that I was feeling anything at all, per se, until yesterday when we did the biking in Central Park video shoot. We shot footage for just over an hour that took us across the south side of the park, up the east side to 72nd Street, across 72nd Street, then back to continue up the east side of the park around the top, then started back down. We wrapped up the shoot as we were coming down what is known as Heartbreak Hill. I turned off the microphone, I could stop worrying that our cameraman was going to crash on his bike, then I just rode down the hill. It was a gorgeous day in NYC, the north part of the park not nearly as crowded, and I felt a release, like I was flying, like my whole soul opened up. And I realized then that I had been holding on tight, keeping everything going, not letting my guard down. When in reality the best way to make things work, make them fly, is to hold on loosely, breathe, and only then can you really make magic happen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Plotting

I've finished a book, the copy edits delivered, and now I am focused on the next book. Plotting a new book is always scary for me, even after having written 20 books. I'm always afraid that this time I won't be able to take all the different pieces of a story that is bubbling in my head and make them into a cohesive whole. Or worse, this time I won't be able to come up with all the pieces that make an entire story. Plot points will remain out of my grasp. Every single time I have to remind myself that I always feel this way. And every single time, like magic, somehow the pieces come and the pieces fall into place. Not that I ever believe this while I'm angst-ing over this. However I read an article in the New York Times about how the brain works in regards to creativity. When I'm plotting, I often want/expect my brain to work the same way as when I'm doing some sort of analysis or problem solving. But reading this article puts into words exactly what I feel . . . when I'm doing math my brain moves efficiently from Point A to Point B. But when I plot, it meanders all over the place. It goes off on tangets. This has always scared me. After reading this I realized I need to sit back and enjoy the ride.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/08/books/08creative.html?ref=books

When you're plotting out anything creative, do you trust that you'll come up with the solution? Or do fear that the plot will never come clear until suddenly, voila!, there it is?

Monday, August 9, 2010

NYC Music . . . like booksignings

In preparation for the YouTube video channel launch of Linda Francis Lee in NYC we're not only videoing Off the Tourist Map sorts places to go and see in NYC, but we're making a list of all the those things to video next that are just around the corner that make NYC an amazing place to live. Restaurants, sites, shops, people, and anything else we can think of primarily in Manhattan but in the other four boroughs as well. Included on that list, we've been looking into NYC-based musicians and for now here is a taste of some of the groups we've found.

The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent video makes me smile because what author hasn't had a booksigning where no one but the staff shows up . . . and they have to! And I really like Brooklyn-based Grizzly Bear's "Two Weeks" even with the odd video.

What is funny is that on August 1st when I was running in Central Park at 6 a.m. people were streaming through Central Park to line up for some concert. I only found out later that St. Vincent was giving a free concert that night and people were lining up (a la Shakespeare in the Park) to get in that night! I could have gotten in line! Coulda, shoulda, woulda as they say . . .

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Writing As Fast As I Can

Some days I wonder why writing is so hard. Why a jackhammer that normally wouldn't register bangs outside with the persistence of an anxious heartbeat. Why it feels that my characters mock me. Why sentences get tangled in my head like I have two left hands and can't move over the keyboard with any sense of grace or meaning. On those days I wonder if I should have been a sales clerk or forest ranger or deep sea diver. But then all of the sudden the words are there, the characters playing like a movie in my head, my hands racing to keep up with my thoughts, and I remember that I'm not all that enamored of stores or forests and especially not of anything in the deep sea. Then the jackhammer fades away and I find my place.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Perfect Pair of Jeans

I am working on the new book and hit a plot snag. I decided that there was no better way to do clear the mind than to shop. More specifically, shop for the perfect pair of jeans. I am getting a new author photo taken, your basic posed, dressy affair. But I also want to get other shots looking real. Hence the thought to get jeans. Jeans, white shirt, fun shoes. I started at Bergdorf Goodman where I bought a pair of James Jeans. While they are great, when I got them home they felt very young. So I went back out, headed to Saks Fifth Avenue in hopes of finding a pair that weren’t too young, but also weren’t mom jeans with a waist up to my neck. Saks has a huge jean department, but the young, impatient woman who helped me was, well, not very helpful and she couldn’t seem to get her mind around the thought of “not too young.” We pulled several pairs for me to try, and by the time I left the store I was certain that the Perfect Pair of Jeans didn’t exist. Next stop, Bloomingdale’s, though not before stopping at one of my favorite burger places, Burger Heaven for a cheeseburger and extra chocolate, chocolate milkshake. By the time I got to Bloomies I had gone up a full pant size. I found a pair there that I still don’t know what to think about. I actually like them a lot, but I keep remembering this photo of me from my junior year of college, and I swear they are the same jeans. What’s old eventually is new again?? I returned to Bergdorf thinking maybe I missed something (I didn’t), then made my way to Barney’s. Couldn’t find anything there, though that was probably due more to sheer jean overload than anything else. With arm muscles aching from pulling tight jeans on and off all day (who needs a weight room), I made my way home with two pair of jeans. I still need the white shirt and shoes, but just the thought of more shopping makes me shudder.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Joan, Joan, Joan

Yesterday I went down to the Village to the IFC Theater to see Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. It was surprisingly good. Funny, poignant, but also sad. The theater is small and you get to it through utilitarian doors and metal stairs and sit on some sort of sofa seats with armrests that break up the expanse and delineate one "seat" from the next. It was very much an NYU crowd, not surprising since the place is right by the university, and I wondered if most of the audience was there as some sort of class. I thought it was fascinating that whatever our age we all laughed at the same jokes. Joan Rivers is definitely funny. She also pushes too far and she didn't seem to be the person who reined herself in, as if she didn't know the difference between going to far and not. Her people reined her in. Which I thought was fascinating. As a book person, I wondered if her people were like her editor. Though when she was confronted by a heckler in a audience, on her own, having to think on her feet, she dealt with the situation that was both harsh and got the audience back on her side. What really got me, however, was how unfair it seemed that at 75 she was having to work so hard to get work and not be a has been. It seemed so unfair - until they showed Don Rickles, a man who seemed to be content with his place, whatever that is, at this stage in his life. Joan Rivers isn't content to have had a great run and and now sit back. She wants to be current, the hot talent in a world that worships youth and beauty. I left the theater not sure if I was sad that she was still having to work so hard . . . or impressed that she still had something she was willing to fight for.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fearless

I am surrounded by people who are fearless. My husband has skied glaciers. I have a brother who has climbed the ice falls of Everest, a sister who runs ultramarathons around the world, and another brother who packed up everything and drove cross-country with a rickety trailer attached to his bumper ready to dive into a new city and a new job without giving it a thought. There is the nephew who bungie jumped off the 18th story of a high rise and a niece who went skydiving to celebrate turning 21. Two other nephews who got their scuba diving licenses the minute they were legally old enough to do so. And my husband and brother-in-law are currently threatening to dive with sharks in that cold and wicked place in the pacific northwest.

Then there is me. I'm not fearless. I have mountain climbed and rappelled, run the marathon and skied black diamond slopes. But I do it because I refuse to give into the fear rather than because I enjoy it. What I love is living in New York City surrounded by energy and people doing all sorts of things, and I love writing about people who take chances. Call it living vicariously, call it the greatest job ever!, but every day I feel alive walking through the streets of New York, more alive than when I am hanging off a mountain or forcing myself to push off down an impossibly steep slope.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Calling Ringo Starr!

This morning I ran the park loop rather than the reservoir loop in Central Park. As I was headed up the east side I noticed a couple of people waving at some man running down the road. When I got closer I swear it was Ringo Starr. But is that possible? Does Ringo Starr even live in NYC? Does he run??

Anyway, Ringo Starr or no, the beauty of NYC is that no one blinks twice over whack jobs, weirdos, or assorted whatnots (no wonder I like it here!) (and usually not celebrities) as long as said WWWs aren’t infringing on the imaginary, but very real, lines NYers draw around themselves. Case in point: the other morning as I was finishing up a run and there was a raving homeless man and a woman dressed in fishnets, hooker heels, black and pink hair (remember: it’s morning), both mixing seamlessly with busy, suit-dressed men and women on the way to work. There was nary a blink of an eye. But then comes a woman, clearly out to get her run in before she joined the suit-clad masses on her way to Wall Street, running with headphones, singing out loud (loudly, and not even a good song) in what appeared to me to be a desperate effort to finish up a torturous run. SHE pissed people off. SHE was interrupting people’s quiet space. SHE crossed people’s lines. I say whatever it takes to finish the run . . .

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Welcome to My Blog!

Finally! I am getting the blog up and going, sharing my adventures around NYC! Fun, Food, Running, and insider views of what it is like to live in the city that never sleeps!

xoxo,
Linda