Valerie Frankel's
Palace of Love

Some photos from the last two years

Stacy London and kids

Maggie and Isaac Mizrahi

Turks and Caicos

Lucy in Mikado

Welcome Bunny

Tulip RIP

Paula Derrow edited antho, including my esssay, "Ouch. You're On My Hair"

My book with legendary Joan RIvers!

3/10 - 9/08

March 11, 2010

Finishing up the ghostwriting project, so not much time to post.
Cultural quickies:
1. Tim Burton at MoMA: Portraits by the artist as a young genius. Very inspiring, moving, and fangirl fun. Seeing the custom designed Sweeney Todd razors alone was worth the price ($20 for adults; free for kids and MoMA members). See it now, before the exhibit closes in April.
2. Dead in the Family. Sookie Stackhouse ten? Nine? Coming out soon. Loyal fans will love it, but not as exciting as previous installments in the series.
3. Hurt Locker. Finally saw it last night. Wow! The first war movie I could stand watching. Jeremy Renner, if only I'd know about you earlier. My Johnny Depp fixation could have gotten a rest.
4. Mary Karr's Lit; JR Moeringer's Tender Bar. Alcoholic/​​crazy family memoirs. Both fascinating, especially for a perspective into booze love (I'm not much of a drinker myself; two vodka tonics is my limit). If I had to say, gun to head, I prefer JR's. It's funnier, more entertaining, and less religious.
5. Shutter Island. I love a movie with lots of red herrings. But when the entire movie is a red herring? Feels a bit like a swindle. BUT—Leo can do no wrong, and I felt wonderfully tense and engaged throughout.
And pix:

Ed, Bunny and Lucy

After Tim Burton at MoMA, we went to Mars 2112 for lunch

The last big storm (l to r): Lucy, Steve and Maggie at Lincoln Center

Maggie in hat; Lucy at fountain

Ollie: "I like to watch."

"Psst, check out the package on that guy! Talk about strategic missiles."
I love this photo. First of all, makes you wonder what Hill is whispering to Michelle. Perhaps "Can't you BELIEVE what she's wearing?" or "I just farted!" Reminds me of sitting next to a friend (friend-friend, not just a casual) at a dinner, snickering about everything/​nothing. A cue from the White House foresister Alice Roosevelt's "If you don't have something nice to say, come sit by me." Hill and Michelle are JUST LIKE ME and my peops. I KNEW it!

March 1, 2010

No apologies for my non-blogging these past few weeks. I have been editing "It's Hard Not to Hate You" aka memoir 2. I didn't do ANYTHING but edit, ten hours a day, seven days a week, until last night when I sent it to Jen, my lovely+talented editor at St. Martin's. This might come as a shock to my five blog readers: I didn't even go to the the gym for nearly all of February. Incredibly, due to meals missed while in the editing zone, my clothes still fit. I'm a bit softer, I can tell. But roughly the same general size. Other things I didn't do while editing:
1. Talk to my children.
2. Talk to my friends, the few, the filthy.
3. Work on the ghostwriting novel project.
4. Work on any magazine assignments.
5. Bathe.
6. Brush teeth.
7. Clean apartment.

I DID manage to:
1. Watch about a thousand hours of Olympic figure skating and alpine skiing. Fun fact: Approximately 1 in 400 citizens of Norwich, Vermont (the town upon which The Girlfriend Curse's Manshire, VT, was based) is a member of the U.S. Ski Team. And a few of them medaled! Go, Vermont! Leading the nation in gay equality, progressive state representation and snowboarding!
2. Attend Fashion Week at Bryant Park. One of the woman on the ghostwriting project took me to the Isaac Mizrahi show, and it was absolutely beautiful and glittery. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Russell Simmons were there, as well as many magazine luminaries. I was told not to speak to anyone, because friendliness was simply not DONE at Fashion Week. I broke the rule to say hello to Suze Yaloff, former camp friend, current fashion editor at large for Glamour. She looked gorgeous as always. It was excellent to see her.
3. Watch some new/​​old movies. Wolfman (B-). Percy Jackson (C). District 9 (A). Extract (B+).
4. Read some books. Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (A). The Heights by neighborhood writer Peter Hedges (B+). Little Stalker by Jennifer Belle (B+). Bite Me by Christopher Moore (A+).
5. Saw "Daughter of the Regiment" by Donizetti (A) at the Met with the kids. Lucy was as entranced by the opera house as the opera itself. Her review: "Best chandeliers and chocolate dipped strawberries ever!"
and
6. Saw "West Side Story" on Broadway (A++++) with a fam. I blubbered. Like, a lot.

First free day in a month, I spent most of the afternoon at the gym, reacquainting myself with pain and sweat. That was pleasant. A very sexy young guy took the treadmill next to me and PICKED A HUGE SNOT CAKE OUT OF HIS NOSTRIL AND WIPED IT ON HIS SHORTS. In plain view. As if he were invisible, or didn't realize the people around him had fully functional eyes. Shocking. If he'd pulled down his pants and taken a crap on the treadmill, I doubt I'd've been as disgusted.
But he was very cute, even with his finger knuckle-deep in his nose.
I'm giving myself one more free day, and then back to the ghostwriting project and making stuff up. A very welcome relief after intensive memoiring.
Glad to be back, peops!


February 8, 2010

I don't usually get pleas for advice about romance anymore (once upon a time, I wrote the Q&A love column for Mademoiselle), but I do try to help when called upon. With his permission, I've posted the lament of emailer Kevin:

Dear Valerie,
My name is Kevin and I recently moved here from Scotland. I understand you wrote the book Thin is the New Happy and thought you might have some good insight on an experience I had involving an American woman's image of her body.
I met a really attractive and intelligent woman at a party a few weeks ago. It was a public event at an art gallery. She was a high school teacher in her early thirties. We had been talking for a good half hour and really seemed to be hitting it off. We had even made tentative plans to meet for coffee sometime.
Then, things suddenly went downhill. I commented that she had a “nice, full, hourglass figure”. I thought she would take it as a compliment but instead she became deeply offended. She snapped, “Oh really….well perhaps I should do some plus size modeling!” I went into damage control mode and tried to clarify my comments but I think I only exacerbated things when I used the term “healthy”. With a look of complete disgust, WHAP!, she slapped my face and departed.
I will never forget those agonizing moments in the immediate aftermath, as I was standing there alone rubbing my cheek, drawing some judgmental stares from onlookers. Needless to say, it was not my proudest moment.
She had a classic hourglass figure - large bust, narrow waist, shapely hips/​​legs. I guess she had interpreted “hourglass” as meaning big/​​overweight/​​full figured. I just thought it meant shapely and well proportioned. When I told a female friend about this she shook her head and said it was never a good idea to comment on a woman’s figure when meeting her for the first time, even if I thought it was complimentary.
I do have her email address. Do you think I should send her an apology note or should I interpret the slap in the face as a definitive statement of rejection?
Kevin

My reply:

Dear Kevin,
You stepped in it, for sure!
Slapping? That seems extreme. Most women would have been offended, though.
In America, "full" and "healthy" and "hourglass" are euphemisms for "fat." Basically, in complete innocence, you told this woman, "You're fat." Unfortunately, this particular woman didn't find the mitigating factor—"You're fat, and I like it"—sufficiently softened the blow. She retaliated with her own blow, to your face.
Your coworker was absolutely right. Even in Scotland—which American women (especially fans of Regency romance novels) think of as the Place for Rogues—men shouldn't assess a woman's body when introduced, as in, "Hi, I'm Kevin. You have excellent tits." Of course, you do it within the first three seconds in your head, just don't verbalize it. If she'd said, "You're a hunk of prime beef," would you have felt flattered, or like you'd been checked out by a meat inspector? (Actually, I'm sure you'd've been flattered...)
Next time, compliment a woman's eyes, her lips, her wit. Act like she's a disembodied head until the third or fourth date. And then, you can say, "You've got a great body." She'll insist that she doesn't. It's your job to reassure her, WITHOUT USING THE WORDS "full" and "healthy." Use "luscious," "sexy" "juicy," etc.
Sure, send her an email apology, but don't expect a reply. Honestly, the greater offense was sizing her up out loud in the first place, and, insult to injury, using the questionable vocabulary.
Live and learn. Welcome to America!
Best (love the haggis!),
Val

His charming reply:

Dear Valerie,
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I think you're right. I really should have stuck to more neutral topics when it came to compliments and stayed away from physical appearance. It really is unfortunate how a poor choice of words can completely derail communication between a man and a woman. I decided to go ahead and send her an apology note. While I don't have high hopes for a response it certainly can't hurt. I copied it below.

Dear Ericka,
This is Kevin. We met a few weeks ago at the party in the art gallery. I genuinely meant to compliment you, but in so doing used a poor choice of words that deeply offended you. I am so sorry for any hurt I may have caused you. You are an intelligent woman and a person of integrity, and I have great respect for you. You are also quite beautiful. While my comments were not interpreted as I intended them, it was inappropriate for me to comment on your physical appearance after meeting you for the first time. I hope you choose to accept my apology, but if not, I sincerely wish you the best in life and I am still grateful for having met you.


Oh, and by the way, Val, this woman was NOT FAT at all!! Curvy, busty, etc., but no extra weight. In fact, she was in much better shape than me, a 220 lb, bald Scottish guy, with no insecurities about my appearance at all, lol.
Thanks again,
Kevin

Thank you, Kevin, for being a trueheart who loves curvy women. Ericka, if you are reading this, give the guy a friggin' break! He's from Scotland! His people throw trees for sport and wears kilts in the dead of winter. They mean well, but sheesh, talk about clueless. Email Kevin back. I'm sure he's 220 pounds of broguey fun.

January 25, 2010

Lucy turning Japanese

As dangerous as it looks

Mizrahi and Maggie

Maggie in Mr. Miz's white fringe coat for spring

According to experts (who ARE they?), January 25th is the most depressing day of the year. A lot of seasonal affected disorder weepies. New Year's resolutions are officially kaput. Today in Brooklyn, you can't believe the rain and wind! Ghastly weather. Not fit for freaking ducks. My roof should start leaking right about . . . now. Perfect. Right on cue.

BUT—I am not depressed, my dear five blog readers. Sure, I was down on my birthday last week. Turning 45—smack dab the middle of life—didn't hit me as a cause for celebration. Also, my kids had food poisoning. Three days of puking and retching. And two checks stubbornly refused to arrive. (Such is the life of a freelancer. One must extract money from clients like rotten teeth. I finally got things sorted out. A snafu at Conde Nast and a book payment gone astray. So now, per my agent and editor, the checks are REALLY in the mail. Before, heh, they were just kidding.) Steve has left me—again—for a week. He's in Tennessee, Major General-ing for rednecks. Hope they don't come after him with hog prods.

Like I said, I am not depressed. The year has had its downers. But also, the highlights:

1. Bunny, our new cat. She makes me crazy when she crawls under the deck and won't come out for hours, but otherwise, she's a doll.

2. Lucy shone in her star turn in Mikado at City Center. She was riveting as a coolie. I, for one, thought it was like Lucy were the only person on stage. Photos above and below.

3. Maggie and I went with one of the co-authors of my ghost-writing project to the brand new Isaac Mizrahi boutique off Madison Avenue for a private trunk show of his spring couture line. And—wait for it—we got to meet Mr. Mizrahi, who had an chummy chat with Maggie about pursuing a career in the visual arts. Photos above and below.

4. MAJOR CAREER NEWS: After months of nail biting, my new novel, "Poker Playing Mamas," has been bought by Ballantine, an imprint of Random House. Yay! I'll get to work with the handsome and brilliant Sir Dana Isaacson again, who once upon a time, long, long ago (1991-95) edited my mystery series for Pocket Books. Fifteen years later, we're working together again, and I could not be happier.

So, yeah, January. Some bumps and bruises. Some boosts and boons. If I've learned nothing in my FORTY FIVE YEARS, it's that the good and the bad are dance partners.

Maggie and model

"We are gentleladies of Japan..."

January 7, 2010

The Bunnster

So sorry, peops! I have been a very lazy ass for weeks in a row. I blame the holidays. Freaking Christmas! I swear, if I could just wave a wand and make it go away so everyone would stop goofing off, chilling out, having fun, and just get BACK TO WORK, I would. I'd also ban drinking on New Year's, and (of COURSE) candy on Halloween.

But for reals, Daryl Chen, one of my five blog readers, lodged a formal complaint about my delinquency. Since I learned years ago to do whatever Daryl says or else suffer severe consequences, I am back at blogging as of today.

We have a new kitty! For those counting, we're up to four, which is still a dozen short of total bat-shit crazy. The little nugget's name is Bunny. She was feral, rescued off the street not long ago by two of Judy McGuire's friends, the lovely and talented Debbie and Jannese. They cared for Bun, tamed her and socialized her with their dog. But no cat is truly happy living with a (gag) drooling canine idiot. Bunny is greatly relieved to be surrounded by her own high-kind, and is already BFFF with Ed. Thanks Debbie and Jannese for letting us adopt her. Muchos gracias to Judy for playing pet match maker.

Tomorrow night, Lucy is making her City Center debut as the axe coolie in the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players' production of Mikado. Maggie had the honors when she was in fifth grade, and now it's Lucy's turn. Steve won't be Ko-Ko this season, alas. He's just too sick of the role for now, but he will be in the orchestra pit, tooting his own big polished brass French horn. Those who long to see Steve on stage, in costume, old man wigs and fake facial hair should catch his show-stealing performances at the Major General in Pirates of Penzance, and Joseph Porter (aka, Ruler of the Seas) in HMS Pinafore. SEE LINK BELOW for deets!!!

Celebrity sighting: Lunch today with Tomas and Nancy at Café Cluny on West 12th Street. At the table behind ours sat Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Both looked bag-ladyish, pale but healthy. I was ten minutes late, and, according to Tomas and Nancy, just missed Julianne Moore who left moments after they sat down. I had a wonderful tarragon spinach omelet, beet salad and marinated fresh berries with mascarpone. All excellent.

Work news: Target sales of TITNH are robust. They've committed to keeping the book on shelves until April, and possibly longer. Yay!

Holiday viewing: Avatar (loved), Sherlock (liked) and It's Complicated (sucked). TV recommendation: This Emotional Life, a shrinky series on PBS about FEELINGS. New season of The Biggest Loser: promising. No wackos have made themselves known yet, but will surely emerge.

That's all for now. Later!

Click for Mikado, Pirates and Pinafore tix and schedule!
Bunny and Ed: watching the squirrels go by

December 10, 2009

I'd been on a memoir tear lately. Three in a row. Some reviews:

1. Born Round by Frank Bruni. Liked it. The food descriptions were sublime, as well as the portrayal of his Momma's Boy co-dependent relationship with his mother that clearly caused not only his chronic dieting and binge eating, but his erratic romantic history. The best parts of the book were the NYT sections, when Bruni covered the 2000 presidential campaign of George Bush, and become so depressed that he gained 80 pounds. And then, the happy years as the NYT restaurant reviewer, when he got in the best shape of his life despite eating out 10x per week. My take away: If you're happy with your work, you're more likely to care for yourself. The book was a tad long, but I didn't mind.

2. Tweak by Nic Sheff. Young man's drug addiction memoir. My daughter Maggie read it last year and loved it, so I agreed to check it out. The essence of addiction—in Sheff's case, his drug of choice was crystal meth, but he also used heroin, cocaine, and pretty much anything he could get his grubby hands on–is the self-absorption. The addict is the center of the universe, and his news, entertainment, relationships revolve about drug acquisition and use. I got that message loud and clear. For the reader, the cycle of Sheff getting meth, getting high, getting clean, relapsing, over and over and over again, was tedious. I could understand why Sheff's family got tired of helping him, and nearly wrote him off (one of the book's points, I suppose). Halfway through the memoir, I stopped caring if Sheff ever got clean since he seemed to care so little himself. I was not engaged, or sympathetic. Sorry, Maggie! I tried. I prefer a main character, even in an addiction memoir, to offer insight, humor and a solid reason to root for him or her. Even at the conclusion, Sheff still lacked self-awareness, other than how sorry he was for causing his family so much pain, which he knew on page one.

3. Cleaving by Julie Powell. Finished last night, and realized why I was so turned off by it, apart from the previously-mentioned revolting descriptions about butchering animals into meat. The emotional story was supposed to be about her marriage and her affair. In order to fully appreciate those relationships, one would think that at least ONE description, a thumb nail sketch, a tight bio, of the principle players involved would be necessary. But the only person we got to know—and strongly dislike for her sloppy, selfish "I want, I take" approach—was Powell herself. After 300 pages, I still don't know ANYTHING about the husband (what does he do for a living? why is he such a pussy? how could he stand to be treated like a doormat?) except that he looks good in blue and can run a marathon. Nearly every line of dialogue of his is, "I love you." Powell has Eric say "I love you" about 1,000 times. How a man could love a woman who cheated on him, abandoned him, had no respect for him, lied to him, didn't have sex with him for over a year, told him she didn't want to be married to him, was simply impossible to believe. She failed to include a single scene to explain how his alleged "love" survived the affair (we get not one flashback of their marriage when it was good). Powell told us about their deep, eternal "love" a million times, but never once showed it to us. The first rule of writing, as anyone who's taken a college workshop: "Show, don't tell." As a reader, I wanted them to break up. That would have been a decent ending, actually, for Powell to realize how stupefyingly selfish she'd been, keeping her husband on a meat hook so she had someone to fall back on, even though she wasn't in love with him. No woman would treat the man she loved so horribly. Now, her affair, with the mysterious D., same problem. No show. Only tell. The much ballyhooed S&M sex scenes? Only Alluded to. A proper sex SCENE—a present tense, real time unfolding of events, "He kiss me, and then removed my shirt," etc.—does not exist in this book. After 300 pages of her saying "I'm obsessed with D.," do I know anything about him? His life? His feelings? NOTHING! Only how much she desperately wants him.

Relationships can be a mirror. For sane people, the mirror has two sides. Powell's relationships are one sided, another way she looks at herself. Written this way, Powell managed to turn a passionate affair and crumbling marriage—fascinating subjects, you'd thing—boring.

One last thing: Some online defenders say that anyone who doesn't like Cleaving is just jealous of Powell's success. I can say with complete honesty that I AM INTENSELY JEALOUS of her success. Her FIRST BOOK was made into a movie, directed by Nora frigging Ephron, and starring Meryl Frigging Streep. If you weren't jealous of Powell, then you're a saint or dead. Jealousy, however intense, wouldn't make me hate a great book. I'd be grateful, and jealous, for the great book. Instead, I'm jealous and angry that bad books get so much attention.

December 9, 2009

I've already received a few requests for my eggplant squash pasta parm recipe, so I thought I'd post it for all five of my blog readers.

Ingredients
1 eggplant, 1/​​4 inch thick slices
3 zukes, 1/​​4 inch thick slices
3 yellow squash, 1/​​4 inch thick slices
1 onion, chopped
3 tomatoes sliced thin
1 lb whole wheat rigatoni
1 24 oz jar of marinara sauce (or make your own)
16 oz. whole milk mozzarella
8 oz. shredded parmesan
2 cups bread crumbs
4 eggs
2 tbsp of chopped fresh oregano and/​​or basil
olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

Some people (including me) like to sweat eggplant and squash before cooking. For a baked dish, you don't want the veggies to be too wet, so I recommend this extra step. An hour before you plan to start cooking, place the eggplant, zuke and squash slices on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt. Leave them for an hour. Then rinse in cold water, pat dry, and proceed.

1. Preheat oven to 350. Fill a large pot with water and put on stove to boil. Use olive oil to lube up two baking sheets.
2. Beat two eggs in large bowl for coating eggplant slices. Then dredge in bread crumbs. Place slices on the baking sheets. Put in oven for 15 minutes. Turn slices and bake for another ten minutes. Then put on a plate for later.
2. Do the egg coating and bread crumb dredging of the zuke and squash slices. You'll need to replenish eggs and bread crumbs at some point. Re-oil baking sheets, place dredged zuke and squash on them. Bake on one side for 10 minutes. Turn and bake for another five. Remove from oven and put on a plate for later. Increase oven temp to 475.
3. While squash is cooking, pour one or two tbsps of oil in a medium pot. When it's hot, add onions and cook until clear. Pour in marinara sauce, some salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Stir, lower heat, and cover.
4. Add pasta to boiling water. Boil until nearly done, around 9 or 10 minutes.
5. And now for the fun part. Put one ladle of sauce on the bottom or a large casserole dish. Then a layer of rigatoni. Then sprinkle mozzarella and parm on top. Then a layer of eggplant slices. More sauce, more cheese. Another layer of rigatoni. More sauce. More cheese. Then the zukes and squash. More sauce! More cheese! Then the last layer of sliced tomatoes on the top. Sprinkle with a mixture of parm and bread crumbs.
6. Place casserole dish in oven. Bake for twenty minutes.
7. Remove when the cheese is melted and the top is lightly browned.
8. Let it sit for a few minutes to cool off.

The whole thing takes an hour an a half (not counting the vegetable sweating hour). Totally worth it! And you'll have lots of leftovers. Even better the next day.



December 8, 2009

I've thought long and hard about whether to come clean about this. After much heart ache and a very difficult discussion with my husband, I feel I have little choice but to share my shameful secret.

Here goes.

It's so very hard to write.

The truth is . . .

I had sex with Tiger Woods.

I'm the eleventh mistress. All the rumors are true. He loves to pop a couple Ambien beforehand for that red-hot trancelike sex in a waking dream vibe. He has an extremely large penis. Like a nine iron, but thick as an sequoia. Oh, and, at the moment of orgasm, Tiger yells, "Fore!" Not only the fourth time, but every time.

So. Yeah. Surprising, isn't it? He seems to go for large breasted porn stars, barmaids and Hooters waitresses in their twentise. And then there's me, a large breasted NUDE MODEL in my forties. He likes some middle-aged stuff now and again.

In other news—as if my secret fling with Tiger Woods wasn't enough—we are still vegetarian, going into our second month. I cooked a fab eggplant parm with rigatoni, zuke and yellow squash tonight. (Email me for my recipe!)

I've been reading Julie Powell's Cleaving, a gruesome memoir about butchery, included the grim and stomach-turning five page recipe for head cheese that calls for cutting up the face of a pig, removing its brain, sawing the skull in half, boiling the head, it goes on and on and on. Two things became clear to me as I read this chapter: (1) I will NEVER eat pork again, and (2) I will NEVER read another book by Julie Powell. I understand her groutesque descriptions are supposed to make her seem fearless and gutsy (as well as covered in guts). But, to me, they made her seem cruel and insane. Ah, well, I probably shouldn't have picked it up, knowing the subject matter. But the reviews promised all kinds of kinky sex along with the knife work! Does Not Deliver. The butchery scene to sex scenes ratio is about 100:4. I feel like I got sold a pile of dog food, when I was promised sizzling steak.

Gotta go. Finale of Biggest Loser! And tomorrow, Top Chef! Too much great TV for one large-breasted middle aged nude model to stand.

Maybe Tiger will come watch Top Chef with me. I'm calling him right now . . .

December 3, 2009

I vote "aye" for Diane Savino!


November 9, 2009

I had lovely lunch today at Elephant and Castle with my dear pal, Mary T. Browne, psychic and sweetheart, fresh off her triumph on the Larry King Show last week. Mary and I spoke about karma, authentic emotion, the dangers of the positivity trend, and the motivational power of thought, about which she has written a book ("The Five Rules of Thought"). It was great to see her, as always.

Big family news: We are vegetarians now. Last week, at a Chinese restaurant, Maggie, 14, said, "We have got to stop eating animals." I'd been thinking about it, having read about a hundred articles/​​reviews/​​interviews about J.S. Foer's new book "Eating Animals" ("eating" as a verb, and adjective). Many of Maggie's friends are vegetarians. That is the general direction of her generation. And so, the teens shall lead us. We declared that meal our last as carnivores, and said goodbye to pork fried dumplings. For dinners, I've been cooking risotto, polenta, quiche, a wagon load of farmer's market goodies. I made very tasty tofu "meat" balls (be nice). Lucy, 10, is not so into the flavors but she's on board philosophically. It's been a week. Tomorrow night, broccolini, black olive and sundried tomatoes with whole grain spaghetti.

Check out the trailor below. I have GOT to see this movie! The most cats I've had at one time (so far) was four. Down to three now. Steve and I often talk about getting more cats when the girls grow up and move out. Six, maybe seven, would be a heck of a lot of fun. Is that crazy? My sister's husband drew the line at five (she has four). When this doc come to New York, I'll be there.


November 3, 2009

Hot ticket

Thanks to all the people to emailed with kind words about the Sheri and Bob radio show! Also, much appreciative of all the giveaway hopefuls! I was shocked and amazed that the ten free copies of TITNH were gone within an hour of my posting the notice. I'll send out confirmation emails as I start to organize my address list. I'm humbled and honored that so many of my (apparently more than five) blog readers are keeping tabs, and paying attention to my errant typing here.

Steve and I went to see Jude Law in Hamlet last week. He was an energetic, peripatetic Prince, very sweet indeed. As usual, whenever I see a Broadway Shakespeare production (last time, Henry V with Kevin Kline and Ethan Hawk), I'm reminded just how many famous phrases are in each play. A few from Hamlet: "as easy as lying," "what dreams may come," (which is about death, but I think about that line whenever I have insomnia), "a man of infinite jest." Hamlet can be fatiguing, especially during the long middle stretch, but Jude kept my attention focused. The cast was all Brit, all accomplished. The actor who played Horatio was also quite the scrumptious scone. Major thumbs up, a fresh frantic vision of rotten Denmark. If you can get tickets, go. Discounts available at theatermania.com.

Some reading:
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I took my time getting to this YA series about post-apoc times, but it's never too late to give a rave. Logan's Run meets Survivor for the pubescent set. The fast-paced action plot is packed with emotional depth and insight.

The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips. He lives in my nabe, and I once accosted him ("I'm a fan!") at our local cafe where he goes to write every day. He didn't seem too terrified of me, brave guy. An epistolary novel, The E-ologist is a heartbreaking (in a good way) story of ambition, delusion, war, fantasy, history and sexuality, all wrapped up in mummy ribbons and packed tightly into a sarcophagus.

Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman. This quarter-life crisis novel was written by the woman who sells foreign rights at my lit agency. Go, Zoe! It's a novel that asks, "What next?" of a handful of recession-struck twenty somethings who wonder if their lives are what they'd hoped for, dreamed about, or are all they can be. And the best part—set in Brooklyn.

October 29, 2009

I Can Haz Cialis?

The paperback of TITNH is OUT, which means it's giveaway time! The first ten (10; and I do mean TEN) blog readers to send me their name and address will receive a signed first edition PAPERBACK of the body image memoir the NYT called "fucking awesome" (well, not in those exact words). Those of you who have already obtained a copy of the book but wish to pass along another copy to friend, sibling, MOTHER, should feel free to send me your info. All I ask of giveaway winners: In exchange for a free book, including postage, please send a friendly email to ten of your peops, or simply send a facebook alert, tweet, what have you, to spread the word(s). Whatever that word(s) happens to be, I leave to you lucky winners. Ideally, it won't be "suck." It would be a string of bon mots, e.g.: "I highly recommend this I-laughed-I-cried true story. Do check it out," or some such, to that affect, like that there.

I'm going for viral. And I don't mean swine friggin' flu.

Deal? Is this a fair trade? I hope so! It's crassly quid pro quo, but what can a humble author do? I've read about a thousand "what authors need to know to market themselves" articles in recent months. They all say, "Make Pro-active your new middle name."

Click on the "contact" link above and to the right for my email address.

October 7, 2009

The husband (in makeup and wig) sings his lil heart out, below. Check. It. OUT!!!


October 6, 2009

Pervs in the news:
1. Roman Polanski. I look at it this way: Say an older man drugged my daughter Maggie (14), and raped her while she begged him to stop. This man then plead guilty for his crime. Instead of appearing at this sentencing, he cowardly fled the country to live in luxury and acclaim, fans and supporters defending him, applauding him and moaning about his self-imposed exile. Meanwhile, my child's life has been ruined (or, at the very least, severely damaged), no famous film directors or movie stars giving the slightest thought to her suffering. Then, thirty years later, this chicken-shit child-rapist is caught?!?! Yay! I'd do cartwheels. I'd throw a party. The stench from his filthy jail cell? Smells like sweet, sweet justice. If Polaski had just gone to jail in 1977, he would have done his time and been a free man for quite some time. Instead, he chose to make himself a fugitive. He dug his own hole. The Swiss government can and should push him into it.

2. David Letterman. Yawn. The strangest aspect of this whole sordid business: What the hell is a 34-year-old woman doing, sleeping with all of those old men? Letterman is, what?, over 60. The extortionist is over 50. This girl is attracted to droopy old man ass? I'm not saying women have to date in their own decade. Steve is eleven years older than me (and his ass, BTW, is still very firm). When is an age difference creepy? Fifteen years? Twenty? How about THIRTY? Yes? Can we all agree that Letterman, a senior citizen of some 64 years, should not be knocking boots with 34 year old women who work on his TV show. The age difference alone implies an authoritarian superiority. Maybe it isn't sexual harassment in the quid pro quo sense. But can anyone honestly say that a much (much) older boss putting the moves on a much (much) younger underling isn't, even a little bit, a power play?

In other news: The paperback of TITNH arrives on Monday! I'm going to try some of the viral marketing ideas I've been reading about. Warning Facebook friends: I might update my status bar for the first time ever
Fan Jesa asked me to post a link to her diamond biz. You're welcome, Jesa! Now go make everyone you know buy the paperback of TITNH!
October 2, 2009

My fan Shelley (hi!) is hosting a TITNH hardcover giveaway to celebrate the upcoming paperback. Check out her BLOG HERE
September 29, 2009

Vid below by our former neighbor Brad Lockwood. At 8:54, you can see Maggie and Lucy walking on our block (just their backs).
Nice job, Brad! You do good work.


September 28, 2009

I've had a cold and bad cough, peeps! I'm telling you, my five blog readers, because no one give a shit about my horrible condition here at home. Whenever I complain about my sore throat and sleep deprivation, Steve and those two brats I feed just roll their eyes. They offered to throw me a pity party. I am so NOT LAUGHING! In my misery, all I've been able to do is watch Mad Men (can you BELIEVE Peggy? I mean, fuck a DUCK??? Didn't see that one coming, as it were) and read. Oh, and we showed the aforementioned brats The Breakfast Club. Maggie now has a raging crush on Judd Nelson, the bad boy, as I did when I was a yute. Of course they loved the flick. It still holds up, twenty odd years later. Some quickie book reviews:

1. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Eh. Puzzles within enimgmas within magic squares. Sudoku Lit-lite. Not as fun as the Da Vinci Code, mainly because the Masons are a much smaller target than the Catholic Church. Also, the conclusion was so annoyingly, zeitgeistly Oprahly cloying: You can do anything! Your human potential is limitless! You only use one-tenth of your brain! Be who you wanna be! B-A-R-B-I-E.

2. Official Book Club Selection by Kathy Griffin. I just love her. And the memoir, which I co-authored for Kathy in a very wet dream I once had, was just so funny and moving and gritty and gossipy. It's not a joke fest, either. Kathy tells some disturbing stories about her child molester junkie brother (who died; no libel threat) and her pathological liar husband (who stole $72,000 from her via ATM!). Kathy had much praise for our mutual friend Joan Rivers. The famous comediennes reminded me of each other, actually, in their work ethic. After this read, you will root for Kathy, the eternal outsider underdog.

3. Sookie Stackhouse novels. I've read six of eight, or seven of nine. These are my decadent dessert books. I love the novels, more than the TV series, which is quite different in tone and content. The books are fun, easy, flirty and sexy. Plenty of smoldering sexy supes (short for supernatural being; shape-shifters, werewolves, vamps, demons, fairies). I wish I were a supe! I'd love to be a werehousecat. They can sleep and eat all day long without a moment's guilt.

That's all for now. I have to get back to work on the memoir. BTW: Two articles out this month, both getting some traction:

1. Good Housekeeping article about being a ballbuster mother.
2. Self, the long awaited essay originally titled "Why I Have No Friends," but changed by the mag editors to "You Gotta Have Friends." An oddly positive title for this piece. It's like, in Orwell's 1984, the Ministry of Love was the torture room.




September 22, 2009

Pretty cool celeb sighting today. While jogging the Bridge (that would the Brooklyn bridge) with Nancy, we saw a Veronica Webb, also jogging, toward us. We saw her again, on her back back to Manhattan and our return to Brooklyn. She was very tall, six feet, thin but not too. Hair: pony. Green tinted sunglasses, pink tank. It was my first bridge run in a couple of weeks. Veronica was doing better than I was, fo sho.

Met with the shopping ladies to discuss chapter one of the novel I'm ghostwriting. This is going to be a swell project, I can already feel the funny (but deep!). The memoir is coming along. It's been very enlightening, to let it all hang out, to be as nasty as I wanna be. I'm writing the chapter now called The Enemies List, about people whose names I've written on scraps of paper and put in a drawer, a la Nancy Mitford's Uncle Matthew in Love in a Cold Climate. What I'm realizing: All my hate for the evil doers comes from their actions, yes, but more from my own fears about the given situation. More and more, it seems that the great struggle isn't against social convention or life's assholes (although they are many), but one's own doubt and fear.

TITNH comes out in paperback shortly. A few weeks. I'm nervous. The hardcover sold great. I hope the paperback does well, too, obviously. Waiting to hear about Target. They'll announce winter purchases in December. It's a biggie, winning a book slot in Target stores. I haven't had one since The Not-So-Perfect Man in 2004! Five years banished from Target seems long enough, right? PLEASE TARGET GENIUSES! GRANT ME SPACE!

September 16, 2009

Maggie, Lucy and I flipped back and forth between The Biggest Loser and More to Love last night. Re: MtL, we were wholly satisfied by the show's conclusion. Correct me if I'm wrong, but this might be the first time in the ten year history of reality TV that a BIG JEW from NEW YORK CITY won. When Luke "let go" of bubble headed, phony blond Melissa, the girls and I yelled, "Yay, Jew!" "Go, Jew!" etc. Steve came in from the deck, and said, "You do realize the neighbors can hear you." Oops. Even in Brooklyn, it's not a good idea to scream "Jew" at the top of your lungs with the deck door and windows wide open.

Bravo to the show for taking on the theme of religious intolerance. When Luke's father insisted that Tali participate in saying grace at dinner, essentially rubbing Jesus in her face, every Jew in America squirmed. It seemed hostile. A diss-grace. He'd probably wanted to serve her bacon wrapped shrimp, cheeseburgers and smoked ham. When Tali said her and Luke's mixed faith children would be raised to be aware of both of their families traditions, the father crossed his arms over his chest and looked disgusted. You could see him thinking, "My flesh and blood, in yarmulkes? Chanting in Hebrew? Over my dead Christian body!" Luke's mother knew better. She said that common religion didn't matter, but common morals and valued did. She was pretty cool. That father? Awful. As usual, religion caused problems, and closed minds (minds that are, granted, pretty small to begin with).

TBL: A good beginning. Lots of criers this season. I'm anticipating going through a full tissue box for each episode. The girls asked whose story I thought was sadder: The woman who was the daughter of a dead junkie, or the woman who'd lost her husband and two daughters in a car accident. In terms habitual suffering, Shay, the junkie kid, had suffered systematic neglect for her entire childhood. The widow had suffered a ghastly lost, and is facing years to come of recovery and grieving. But the tragic accident was a singular event. I nodded when Jillian said, "I'd kill myself." Which would be reacting to a singular tragedy with another singular tragedy. Shay, the 470 pound grown-up foster child, responded to prolonged tragedy with the prolonged suicide of slow self-destruction. Anyway, it's all pretty interesting. The Biggest Loser, this season, seems to be making a push to go deep and explore the backstories from contestants with emotional histories to overcome. In short, good TV.

BTW: I cried more for the widow than the junkie daughter. But their stories are both incredibly, equally sad.

August 24, 2009

Two months without posting. I have no excuses, except that I'd informally given myself permission to be a lazy, neglectful piece of shit for the entire summer. Posting? Nil. My workouts were down. Drinking was up. I put on, probably, five or ten pounds this summer. Will I freak out and start a crash diet???

No. I won't fall back into ancient habits. I will resist the urge to Atkins. Instead, since we've been back in Brooklyn (a week), I've been v. good about workouts, and cooking dinners at home (healthy and delicious, for the whole family) instead of slacking off and going out. As I get older, the vacation pounds take longer to shed. By the end of September, I should be back at my pre-summer weight. I thought, foolishly, that my post-TITNH life would be free of any body issues. Alas, I still have them. The major difference is emotional. Three years ago, I'd've been freaking out about summer gain. Now, I have regrets (really, just a few), but feel okay about my choices. I didn't go to Aruba to swim laps and guzzle diet Cokes. No! I went to Aruba to bob in the ocean and sip pina coladas. Which is exactly what I did.

Summer highlights:
1. Aruba. A week in paradise. Rum drinks, ocean, snorkeling, wild goat watching, family bonding. No bad sunburns (I was careful about that), good food, good fun. No sex, though. Sharing a hotel room with the kids was not romantic for Steve and me. Oh, well, you can't have everything, all of it, all at once.

2. Green Day at MSG. Greatest show of my life! I know I said that about the Killers in January (we're going to another Killers show at Jones Beach—Maggie, Lucy, niece Lily on Sept. 1). Green Day was even better. Maggie, Lucy, Daryl Chen and I were in rock and roll heaven! Nearly three hours of music, pyrotechnics, amusing banter, sing-along-fever. When the band started playing "Blvd. of Broken Dreams," Mr. Armstrong said, "You know the words." I wonder if he sang a single word in the whole song. Something about singing a beloved song with 25,000 other people, sharing the joy, BJA waving his arms, basking in the mass appreciation and acknowledgment of his work. Choked me up, but GOOD! I was pouring sweat dancing; hands bruised from aggressive clapping. My daughters were inspired by the girl the band called up on stage to play guitar on "Jesus of Suburbia." "Brain Stew" was fast and furious. This show was such a transportive, euphoric experience, I fantasized about being back there for WEEKS afterward!

3. Eight mile run. I ran from my parents' place in Thetford to Dan and Whit's General Store in Norwich, a run I haven't managed to pull off in three years. I did it in 90 minutes, which for me, is pretty fast. I walked up one hill, but otherwise, ran the whole way. I haven't gone on a long run since (mid-July), and might not until again it cools off in September. But that's okay! One or two long runs a year is about my speed.

3. Wilco at Coney Island's Cyclone Stadium. Still my favorite band. The question that comes up: Is Wilco a better live band, or studio band? I've seen them twice, and I have to say, although I loved the show this summer, the music is better appreciated with headphones. Not to say I won't go see Wilco whenever they come to town. I dragged Steve to this concert. Afterwards, he said, "It's just so loud." He's not fit for rock and roll, I'm sorry to say.

5. A month without kids. Steve and I enjoyed the annual reprieve.

6. Seeing the kids again. They both loved camp, and it was a warm and wacky reunion.

7. Theater gluttony. We saw: Rock of Ages, Gods of Carnage, Blithe Spirit, Waiting for Godot. All wonderful and quite different experiences.

8. Winding down. As always, after months of unstructured hedonism, I'm looking forward for school to start, getting back into my routines, having more daily work time, etc.

Speaking of work: I did some decent writing this summer. Two articles for Self. An essay for Good Housekeeping. A novel revise (friend/​​editor Dana's notes were spot on; he's a genius; now let's see what happens when I try to sell this baby). I'm got 17,000 words of my new memoir, called "It's Hard Not to Hate You," about my rejection of the emotionally-stunted positivity trend ("The Secret" can kiss my ass). I've just written the chapter about adolescent girl-on-girl meanness, aka, the origins of hate. Did you know that teenage gossiping, lying, back-stabbing, exclusion, etc. is a phenom called "relational aggression?" Bet you didn't. I didn't. I'd always called thought of it as "Junior High Hell."

Not to bury the lead, or anything, but I do have some happy professional news: Fringe Girl, my series of YA novels that, literally, a dozen people have read (seriously, I could have made Xerox copies, passed them out on the street, and done better) has been optioned for a major motion picture or TV series. The option has been in the works for a while. I held off on spilling the news until we had signed contracts. Which we do, finally, as of last week.

My five blog readers are well aware what this really means—approximately two winks more than nothing. Only that someone has given me a small amount of money to reserve the exclusive right to try to get more money from someone else to put the wheels in motion to, ideally, in the best of all possible worlds . . . need I go on? Look: An option is better than no option. But, as I've said before (re: The Accidental Virgin and Smart Vs. Pretty, both having been optioned for movies and TV), I am not holding my breath. Although, when I let myself dream (and dream, ahhh), I do think Fringe Girl would be THE BEST TV SERIES FOR TEENS EVER!!! PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN! I'LL NEVER WRITE ANOTHER NASTY THING ABOUT MY MOTHER AGAIN! I SWEAR!

July 3, 2009

Check this out. A diet.com book giveaway. Already over 3,000 views on youtube!


June 20, 2009

According to weather watchers, of the first 20 days of June in New York City, 17 of them were all wet. Including today. Soggy sigh. We're all sick of it. I've had ENOUGH! I'm OUT OF HERE. Tomorrow, I'm driving the kids to Vermont to drop them off at camp. I'll be back on Wednesday, and the sun had better be shining, or someone's head will ROLL! Steve will stay home and tend to the kitties.

Re: kitties, I have an Ed story. Our newest friend, Edward, a black Bombay mix, believes in his heart that he is a flying squirrel. Why else would he make a death-defying leap off of our deck, into the maple tree, miss, and then (gravity is a bitch) fall all the way down, three flights, to our neighbor's garden below? At least, that's the theory of what happened. That he went after a bird or squirrel. We'll never know exactly how/​​why he went over.

The saddest part: We didn't know he was missing for hours. We had a busy day. After dinner, Steve said, "Has anyone seen Ed?" Couldn't find him in our apartment. Lucy went down to our neighbors, who told us they thought they saw a black cat out there around noon. This news made all of our hearts clench, collectively. We started walking the street, knocking on doors, calling him, making deals with God and/​​or the Devil. After an hour of increasing dread and panic, Maggie and I began making "Lost Cat" flyers, and Steve went back on the deck to call for Ed. I was at the computer, near the window that overlooks the deck, and I heard Steve say simply, "I see him." His eyes, to be specific. Steve ran out of our the apartment, thundered down the stairs and back into the neighbor's garden. Ed had crawled into a hole in their fence, a neat little dry space where he might have been for hours, protected from the (mother fucking) rain, and the (also mother fucking) dog next door. I couldn't believe we'd miss the hole when we were searching near there before. Ed had a scratch on his nose and a hairless spot on his cheek. He was otherwise unscathed. Cats are miracles.

The next day, Steve went to Home Depot, and bought 75 feet of galvanized steel two-feet-high chicken wire, which we (all four of us) wrapped around our deck fence and secured with plastic fasteners. There is no possible way Ed—or the other cats—can fall, jump or slip off the deck again. Suicide missions have been blocked. Now all we need are a few chickens.

We never escalated to full blown panic and misery, since it was only an hour from realizing he was gone to recovering Ed unharmed, if dirty and scared. During that hour, though, I was afraid for how devastated I was going to be, if we couldn't find him, or he was seriously injured. Yuck.

Apropos of the above story, I've realized of late that the majority of my blog content is about (1) my container garden, (2) my cats, and (3) er, not much else. Sorry, peops! How about some media plugs?

Steve and I have been Netflicking all the movies we didn't get around to seeing last year. Including:

1. Doubt. Great movie. Meryl as a strict nun made me glad I'm a Jew.
2. Frost/​​Nixon. I was too young to remember this. Nixon was power mad and a crook, but his crimes don't hold a candle to the lies and corruption of GWB.
3. La Vie en Rose. French misery and depression. I loved it! Fun for the whole family. Speaking of which:

The kids and I went to see Constantine Maroulis (my long-lost love) in the Broadway show Rock of Ages. It was an absolute blast! Like Mamma Mia, the conceit is to built a story around great hair rock hits of the 1980s (Benatar, Foreigner, Journey, Whitesnake, etc.). Constantine looked as cute and sounded as soulful as I remembered from American Idol. If you were born between the years 1960 and 1970, this show will take you back, as the narrator described it, "to a sexier time, the Reagen years." The girls and I rocked in our seats and sang along (well, I did; they knew a few tunes, but got into the spirit). Go soon. In September, Constantine (my only heart!) leaves.

Green Day: The new album, 21st Century Breakdown, is GENIUS! Go forth and purchase! A must have for fans and non-fans alike! Seriously. I am piss-in-pants excited for July 27th, the date that Daryl Chen (one of my five blog readers), Maggie, Lucy and I will see Green Day live at MSG. Be still my beating!

Wilco's new album is out in a couple of weeks. I have convinced Steve, who only listens to classical and opera, to go with me to see the band on July 13th at the Cyclone's stadium in Coney Island. A trifecta for me: my beloved husband and favorite band together in Brooklyn, my sweet home. Ahhh. Can't FUCKING wait!

June 4, 2009

The old man on the mountain: Gay??
Go, New Hampshire, the sixth state in our nation to allow same sex marriage! Of the six New England States, five of them are upholding the core values that drove the pilgrims to the colonies four hundred years ago. (What are you waiting for, Rhode Island? Get with the program!) Congrats to the citizens of the granite state. You now have the government-given right to marry, and divorce, as often as you like. Steve and I have ties and family in Vermont, NH and Maine—including some same sex families—and my heart bursts with happiness for them and their new rights. Rights on!

In other news, those of you who have called and emailed to tell me that my container garden vid is as exciting as "watching grass grow" can hereby FUCK OFF!! I say this with love and affection, of course. Gardening, like sex, is really only interesting to the gardener, or the fucker. So, with that in mind, considering the underwhelming response to my gardening vid, you can forget about ever seeing any sex videos from me!

June 2, 2009

As promised: Here are some container garden pix and a vid. Of interest to approx. three of my five blog readers. The rest of you can ignore at your pleasure.





see Ollie on the table?

perennials

Ollie, wheat grass eater

May 26, 2009

Very Twilight-y, isn't it? The Authors Guild (keepers of this, and many other websites) is offering dozens of new layouts. It's almost too much excitement to handle. A whole new world, really. I thought I'd try this creepy and vaguely menstrual theme for a while.

Sorry I haven't posted. Since our trip, I have been spending a lot of time in waiting rooms, docs offices and hospitals. Due to a situation that I am not at liberty to discuss, I was motivated to move a battery of lump and bump screenings to the top of my To Do list. I have been 'grammed and 'oscopied' in nearly all of my secret places, peops. Several bits of flesh have been 'ectopied. It was NOT fun, I can tell you that. I am beyond glad that, pending a couple of late breaking 'ology reports, my days of being probed are over for the time being. Not to worry! I am fine. If it turns out that I am less than fine, you, my five blog readers, will be the first to know.

Meanwhile, since I haven't been allowed to workout or have sex (post-probe protocol), I have put all my pent-up energy into my container garden. I probably say this every year: It has never looked better! I plan to put batteries in the camera this very day, take some pix and post here.

I've also been writing a lot of articles. An essay on impatience for Self, an essay on being a mean mom for Good Housekeeping. And, currently, a reported trend story for Self on sex in the recession. On the off chance anyone feels a burning desire to tell me about how the recession has affected your bedroom antics, please e-me. We'll talk.

Once the decks are clear of articles, I will do minor revises on my novel (Dana Isaacson is an gifted editor), and then begin the ghost writing novel project, which is a done deal, minus an actual contract, which is taking for fucking ever to get read by all the appropriate agents and lawyers. It's incredible to me that anything EVER gets done, since every scrap of paper produced must be signed off on by half a dozen "representatives" who all feel the need to leave their mark for fear of not earning their fee.

I mean, SHIT!

Not that I'm grousing. I am grateful to have work, when so many don't. I heard a horrible rumor that, at a certain Conde Nast men's magazine, writers are being paid "on publication," as opposed to the usual "on acceptance." What this means: Since an article can sit in inventory for, literally, years, writers, who might put in a months on a story, are essentially working for free.

Of course, name writers have contracts and can make demands. The up-and-coming writers will suffer most during a downturn. Basically, it's tough out there for a pimple. I fear that a generation of writers will quit, give up or choose another profession. Young voices will be heard on the web, and that is a good thing. I wonder, if I were just out of college, looking for a job, whether there would be ANY print opportunities for me now.

Is print truly dead, or is it, like so many other businesses, just resting during the recession? The next five years will reveal all. Meanwhile, as ever, I'm writing as fast as I can.

In need of lighting? Check out this sweepstakes, sponsored by Eric L., my first boyfriend!
April 29, 2009

Our trip was fab. My piece about it will be up on momlogic.com very shortly. Meanwhile, here's a vid of our room, and some pix.

UPDATE: Find the piece here

Maggie on the sunset catamaran cruise, about ten minutes after she'd fed the fish, as it were, by hurling

Lucy on the pier

At the pool bar

Presenting below: The TITNH widget! Pretty cool, meh?









April 21, 2009

Three weeks since my last post?#*^&$#??? How did that happen? I guess I've been distracted by my emotionally consuming lack of work.

Since I turned in my novel to Dana (he loved it; still waiting to hear what his boss thinks), I've been in a holding pattern. One book project requires focusing, which will come in May when I have a lunch with Jen. The other had been in contract negotiation for weeks. Plus, I've been in full-lull, re: magazine work.

So, for the last few weeks, I've been working my ASS off to get work. What this means: Multiple times a day, I've emailed and called magazine editors, pitched ideas, written up said pitches in memo form, fretted, twiddled thumbs, pulled out hair, etc.

The emotional arc of freelancing is predictable, but no less trying. First, terror. Maybe this is it. Maybe I've had my last paying job as a writer. Of course, I'm grateful to have lived the dream. But how depressing would it be if it all came crashing down? I'd have to find an office job, as if anyone's hiring. Perhaps if I make more calls, send more emails. I WILL find something to work on, soon. Or else, sink into a state of bone-deep anxiety. Talk about moving to the country. Actually convince myself that country living is for me. A sliver of light (a half-assurance from an ed that a pitch was met well at an story idea meeting) breaks through the gloom. I rejoice at prolonging our lives in the city. Gain confidence that oodles of work are On The Way. A firm assignment, with contract. Relief (how do I spell it? J-O-B). Excitement about the article itself. Then, another assignment comes through. More relief, more joy, my mind starts working, thinking of the article's structure, some good jokes. Then another assignment. Start to feel concerned that, in my desperate frenzy of nagging/​​begging editors, I'd never planned for more than one of my dozen pitches to turning into an assignment.

Any freelancer will tell you: Feeling overwhelmed is the objective. Considering the alternative—three weeks of waiting for something to happen—I'll take pressure and a pile-up of deadlines in a heartbeat. The more work the better. The simple fact is: This very well could be the last year I manage to pull off the writing life. I'm secure again for a while. But a year from now? The end might seem upon me yet again.

Anyway, safe with three mag assignments and two book commitments (the ghostwriting job is, as of yesterday, a done deal; I'll reveal more when sanctioned to do so), my weeks of scrambling are over. My nose will be strapped to the grindstone for the entire spring and summer, and into the fall.

But, first, a jaunt! Tomorrow, Steve, the kids and I are going to Turks and Caicos on a press trip. Yay! Beaches is opening a new family resort, and I will be reporting on how fucking fabulous it is for momlogic.com. Four nights, five days. Makes my eyes moist just typing it.

I've decided to blog from T&C, get some extra publicity for Beaches right here. I'm not sure if my five blog readers are Beaches types. Mom and Dad? Tempted by an all-inclusive river of pina coladas and a new water park with five monster slides? No? Sounds FUCKING AWESOME to me. But I've always been a sucker for rum drinks and aquatic thrills. Ideally, at the same time.

Back tomorrow with some photos from paradise!

March 31, 2009

Want Moore?
An April Fool's Day recommendation. I love Christopher Moore. ALL of his novels are funny, sexy, bloody, usually with ghosts and vampires, and always with an emotional complexity that sneaks up on you. He's taken his comedy cum tragedy style to Shakespearean heights with "Fool," his retelling of Lear from the fool's perspective. It's bawdy genius. Can't say enough. Steve loved it, too.

Greetings from Brooklyn! It has been twenty days since my last blog, which means, without question, that I totally suck and should be (1) boiled in oil, (2) hung by the armpits or (3) forced to watch five hours of Fox News. I hope, in my humbled heart, that my five blog readers can forgive the lapse. Spring break happened, and is (thank GOD) over. The kids are back in school. I can take care of business again, including posting a few graphs of nonsense right now.

So!

For the first week of break, the girls and I stayed in New Jersey, dog-sitting my parents' mangy mongrel pack of slobbering canine idiots. Forgive me, H&J, but your animals STINK! And they DROOL! They woke me up every morning at 5AM by jumping on the bed and licking my face. Torn from slumber by dog breath and mud-caked fur in the face. I shudder at the hideous memory.

Every minute I spent with those four dogs (about 350 combined pounds of stench), I longed for the cute, clean cuddley companionship of my wonderful cats. Dogs = dependency, like caring for infants. Cats = partnership, like a healthy, happy marriage. Dog people, apparently, crave dependency. They need to be needed. Cat people, on the other paw, are independent, cooperative, highly attractive and of a superior intelligence.

Of course, that's just a theory. I could be wrong.

Our second week of break was spent in Florida, visiting my first husband's parents. They do not have dogs. The weather was lovely. I jogged every single day, the kids swam and chased lizards.

We're home now, with the darling kitties, and Steve, my husband, who'd been on tour, on and off, for the last six weeks. He'd spend a grand total of six day in Brooklyn since February—including a few days the girls and I were in New Jersey and Steve stayed home with the cats.

I'm sure some people (I know) would be thrilled to get rid of their spouses for a month. I hated being apart. I curse Steve's opera company for lining up all those paying gigs. I spit on Wisconsin and South Carolina for taking him away from me. Incredibly, Steve has more shows to do in April and May, including trips to California and Virginia. Don't Gilbert and Sullivan fans realize there's a recession on? Why are they buying tickets? Oh, well. It makes Steve happy to sing, dance, mince and gambol on stage in wig and a costume. Can't say I blame him.

Breaking Biz Update! I have a new book deal! Yippee! It's another self-help cum memoir for St. Martin's, called "It's Hard Not To Hate You." The basic idea: unleash the power of negative thinking by embracing your inner Hater. Otherwise, the can of worms inside will stay locked there forever. You've got to open the can, pore that shit OUT. We've been spoon-fed positivity to the point of projectile vomiting by now, haven't we? Women have to think and feel their a full range of emotion—for the sake of our psychic and physical health. "Everything nice," we're not. Let's stop forcing ourselves to pretend otherwise.

I was inspired to write about the power of negativity by some of the material in TITNH, in particular, the junior high years chapter. I'd willfully suppressed those memories for decades. When I uncorked them, I felt a surge of energy and happiness. Instead of feeling shame about my experiences or guilt (for any number of reasons), I reveled in righteous anger. Let me tell you: reveling in anger is a hell of lot better than drowning in shame and guilt.

Anyway, I'll get started in May. A zippy book about female emotions, power, redemption and moving from point A to point ARRRRH. Can't wait.

In other book news: I can't say for sure until the deal is done, but I will most likely be taking on another co-author writing gig this year. A novel. It'll be a total ghost job (no shared cover credit), conceived by two very interesting women in the garment biz. I'll say more when contractually sanctioned to do so.

Last, since at least one of my five blog readers has asked, my new novel is DONE. Just yesterday, I sent it to my pal Dana Isaacson, the brilliant editor who worked on my mystery series a million years ago. It was his broad-strokes concept, which he kindly asked me to flesh out. He'll spare no feelings at all when he give me the verdict. I think the book is pretty damn good, but I would say that, wouldn't I?


March 11, 2009

Hamm lovers, here's chunk to chew while you wait for Mad Men season three. Tina Fey said he "looks like a cartoon pilot." She might be the funniest woman alive.

"Lex Luthor Bailout" with Jon Hamm - watch more funny videos

March 9, 2009

Check this out! My first boyfriend Eric Lebersfeld (sixth grade) posted this movie from 1976 on youtube. I'm in it a lot. Kind of camera piggy, actually. My camera shyness hadn't yet been established. What's fascinating, for me anyway, is how not fat I am in the videos. Sixth grade, as fans of TITNH know, was the year of my first diet. I'm not sure of the timing, but considering my size, I'd say the movies were shot post-first-diet, or pre-second-diet. Hard to tell. I gained back all the weight I dropped almost immediately anyway, so it doesn't really matter. The point: I wasn't fat, and if I hadn't started dieting at age 11, I wouldn't've struggled with weight control and bad body image for the next thirty years. Thanks, Eric, for sending!

For Your Amusement

Novels
Four women who'd otherwise have nothing to do with each other, join for a bogus 'Diversity Committee" school meeting, and wind up playing poker. Instead of playing for money, they play for secrets. Before long, these four women know EVERYTHING about each other's lives, and strong—not always smooth—friendships are formed. "Instantly addicting," RT Book Reviews. "Engrossing!"—Publishers Weekly. "Friggin' awesome!"—Snooki (she does say that a lot Not about this book, but WHATEVER)
Book #4 in the Fringe Girl series
Book #3 in the Fringe Girl series
Adora Benet is back. In the second of the series, true love doesn't runs smooth for Dora and Noel. Hurdles: a seductive substitute teacher, jealousy, a hot college boy.
A bride, a groom, her mother, and his father. Sex, kidnapping, wedding cake and a cabana with a towel warmer. Who could ask for anything more?
Adora Benet is on the fringe until she leads a revolution that turns her school's social hierarchy upside down.
Emma Hutch has the sexth sense. She sees naked people. Not that she minds...
"Wickedly entertaining."—People "Draws laughs."—EW First chapter, reviews, reading group questions
Three sisters, as many romantic plights
Stacy has a week to get laid or she becomes a virgin again. CAN SHE DO IT?
Smart sister, pretty sister, a murder mystery, a few hot guys, lots of caffeinated humor, and recipes
Memoir
NEW!! CLICK FOR READERS GROUP GUIDE (Subversive Version) and AUTHOR Q&A Chronicle of my efforts to "get the hate out." Warning: If you love snobby neighbors, NYT bestselling debut novelists, loud cell phone talkers, social butterflies, scary doctors, bratty kids on airplanes, this memoir will OFFEND YOU with its OBNOXIOUS DENUNCIATIONS AND CONSTANT CURSING. Don't say I didn't warn you. "Refreshing! Entertaining! Funny! Warm!"—PW "Hilarious! Helpful, hard-won insight!"—Kirkus
The story of my life as a diet addict, and how I eventually overcame my compulsion to count carbs. People magazine: "Funny! Satisfying!" Kirkus: "Witty! Candid!"
Blog Archive
Freshly Killed
Axed by Parenting, 6/05