Sunday, December 26, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
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?
Monday, November 29, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
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.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
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.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
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
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
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!
Monday, October 18, 2010
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 fiancé 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
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
Here is the new Linda Francis Lee in NYC Webisode #2!
Monday, October 4, 2010
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!
Monday, September 27, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
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
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
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
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
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
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
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
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
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
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 . . .