Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A new post! Woo hoo! And a new picture of the Mac, at two weeks. He’s one month old today! How long can I keep myself from calling him Big Mac?

I have been meaning to talk about someone for a few weeks now, an author by the name of Therese Fowler. I mentioned her quickly in one of my other posts, but I have meant to do more and just haven’t. So here is my effort to make up for that. I met Therese briefly at the American Library Association conference in Philadelphia back in January. She signed an advance copy of her book, Souvenir, and I gave her my card. Then she contacted me the next week and we have corresponded a bit since. She is kind and generous and Souvenir has been chosen as a Target Breakout Book, which is wonderful. I read it in two nights, and would have done it in one, except I have this day job for which I have to be attentive and all that. But I have passed on the recommendation to friends, and now pass it on to you. (I would pass on the book, but really, you all should buy it. Come on, people!) Read the book! It’s got a very touching story (without being saccharine; previously noted, I don’t like saccharine) about choices and their consequences, whatever your intentions. Souvenir, by Therese Fowler. Pick it up.

It’s another gray February New York day (this year we’ve been stuck in perpetual November). We did have a great snowstorm last week, but that was wasted; they might have called it a snow day, but the schools were closed already for winter break. I eagerly looked at my work email when I woke up, hoping for a notice of a closed office. Instead they postponed the breakfast meeting by half an hour. What a gift!

Things have been going well. My dear friend Colleen had me come to Massachusetts for President’s Day weekend to talk with her book group, which had read the book. It was a wonderful experience. There were nine women in the room holding my book, who had read it, who had liked it. They really got it, it seemed, and what more can you ask for? We talked about Jennifer, the main character, and her troubles and her personality. I was concerned about this; in the past I had to work, actively, to make her more likeable, less cold. See, it has been important to me that this book mean something, but that it not be cheesy and saccharine, a trap that many “meaningful” books fall into. As a result, sometimes I pulled too far the other way, particularly with my main character. And since it’s a character-driven book, if you hate the main character, what will motivate you to keep reading? So I worked really hard to give her moments of vulnerability, some more self-deprecation, and moments of connection with other people. And the book group generally liked her, and they weren’t turned off by her depression after her husband died because they liked her enough before. Whew.

The women from the group asked a lot about my process, what I was thinking when, and what motivated certain parts. That was a lot of fun to recount. Some of it is on my website, but I can’t go into quite that much detail writing it out, and certainly not about lots of specific parts. It was great fun to answer questions about people, incidents, etc.

I’ve gotten another review that makes me happy, this one from OurGaggleofGirls.com Here’s the link: http://ourgaggleofgirls.com/books/2008/02/19/did-i-expect-angels/. I continue requesting reviews and interviews at various sites, and getting some responses more quickly than others. These sites are deluged with requests, it seems to me, and it’s very nice that they take their time to do it at all. Thank heaven for people who encourage reading.

I finally have a date for my in-store promotion: March 25, at the Barnes and Noble in the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City. I need now to contact my publicists again to arrange for Utah publicity efforts. I will be doing a lecture/class of some sort at Weber State University in Ogden in mid-April, and hopefully some Sam Weller events and possibly readings in libraries and/or friends’ homes. I am making my parents host at least one (I’ll make the food), and perhaps I can do something at Wisebird, which also stocks the book. We shall see.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Sickness lingers....

Okay, I’m sick again. This time I cannot blame stale plane air. This time I blame the subway, because no one I know has been sick and, well, hurtling down tunnels crammed into this little nasty little tube with thousands of people at a time, there are bound to be some germs.

The big step forward is that I'm admitting it. I belong to the “I’m really not sick” denial club. The first couple of days I say, “This isn’t bad at all. I can do everything I want to do. I mean, it’s a cold, but it’s not that awful pressure-in-your-ears-and-face kind of thing, it’s just annoying.” I don't believe in echinacea, but I have started placing my faith in Zyrtec—no, Zantac—no, Xanax—no, wait, Zycam. It’s made chiefly of zinc, which made my mother crow triumphantly, since, when I bought it (over Christmas) she had suggested I just take zinc, and I insisted, “No, the commercials say 'clinically proven to shorten a cold'! I must have this Z medication!” So for the past few days I’ve been taking it every 3 hours, as directed, and it’s this nasty don’t-chew tablet that tastes, well, of zinc mixed with cherry. “I’ll really be fine,” I insist, over and over. I keep going to work. I continue going to the gym. (I eat too much junk not to.) I still write when I get home.

And then...day three or four, I crash. This day occurred on a Sunday, last time, and mainly I lay on the couch of my parents’ basement and stared at a television. A television that wasn’t even on, for heaven’s sake. I haven’t reached that point yet. In fact, this morning I awoke and thought, “Oh, this cold is going to be a snap. It’s almost gone.” And as the day has gone by I have felt heavier and heavier, and going up and down in the elevator (I work on floor 21) seems, if anything, to have exacerbated it. Annoying. I went and got a peanut butter-chocolate sandwich cookie to make myself feel better. Sigh.

The practical effect of this cold, since I have not taken a day off work, has just been that I can’t go meet my friend’s brand-new baby. We are in a new baby boom, if you haven’t noticed, so in addition to the Mac who was born a week ago, I have a new Audrey to meet. I can’t very well go my friend’s house with a cold and sneeze on her newborn. Bad form. They sent out a video for people to watch, and I faced the inevitable technical difficulties and...did not overcome them.

This has been a running theme lately. I subscribed to an “increase your website’s traffic!” service, called Traffic Geyser, about two months ago. It seems perfect for me, because it’s advertising your website through video! Since my Unexpected Angel site is video, I thought...what serendipity! It has taken two months to convince myself I can actually try to tackle this thing. I began the process over MLK holiday. Slow, baby steps. I did well through the step of actually downloading your video. I talked myself into writing a script for one, and then I talked my roommate into being the spokesperson. (She did commercials, long ago, and she is a natural.) I filmed it, managed to get decent light and sound, and then tried to upload it.

Ha ha!

I cannot adequately describe the frustration; I will only say it involved a lot of bad words. I went to the Tech Support page and logged in and it rejected me. I got more and more worked up and finally wrote an email to their tech support with the subject line being “I HATE TRAFFIC GEYSER.” Happily they wrote me back and are willing to help me, if possible, but the guy noted that my video is in ASF format and will likely be rejected by most of the sites. It has to be in mp4 video, or mov format, etc.

How the hell do you do that?

That particular email question is still outstanding. I cannot address it, emotionally, because I am at work and need to reserve all my frustration for the consultant who is paid specifically for X number of days and cannot possibly remember the number of days he has actually worked, since 2004, so can I just go find that for him?

I will try to conquer the video thing tonight. Or maybe I’ll just go to the gym, come home, and read. That sounds easier. Actually, not going to the gym sounds even easier than that. I am sick, after all. Getting sicker as I write. Hmm.

On a happy note, this afternoon I called an independent bookstore in Salt Lake City, called Sam Weller’s, to ask about stocking the book. They told me to send one over, and the events coordinator said she’d consider an event, as well. Utah has nice people.