Not Easy Things

Today I turned on NPR and heard Tom Ashbrook talking to Dennis Lehane and Ray Maliozzi (otherwise know as one of the “Car Guys”) about Boston, their hometown. This was funny (not HaHa funny, but you know…) because I’d been thinking a lot about Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day since Monday, when a friend who had been manning a water stand along the marathon route posted a Facebook update that alerted me to the unfolding situation in Boston.

The Given Day is about one of the most turbulent times in Boston’s history, the early 20th century. The Boston police strike of 1919 resulted in several nights of looting and rioting. And, of course, we’ve all learned about things like the Boston Massacre and the of course the battle of Lexington and Concord, which Patriots’ Day commemorates.

As I listened to Lehane this morning I learned about an editorial he’d written in the New York Times. “Messing with the Wrong City” put into words something I’ve always thought about not just Bostonians, but New Englanders in general: “Bostonians don’t love easy things, they love hard things — blizzards, the bleachers in Fenway Park, a good brawl over a contested parking space.”

We don’t love easy things.

If we did, we’d move somewhere with better weather. We would root for a baseball team that didn’t break our hearts year after year.

Continue reading

Katniss vs. Ree

I have fallen victim to “the hunger.”

Yes, I finally joined the rest of America and decided to start reading The Hunger Games. I was barely a few chapters in before I realized that Jennifer Lawrence had been perfectly cast as Katniss in the movie version. In fact, she’d basically already played the character to critical acclaim, only that time it was in Winter’s BoneContinue reading

Always the Last to Know: John Irving’s New Book

Last weekend I went on a cleaning binge. I tidied up the house, organized my office, hung things that had been leaning up against the wall for months, put up curtain in the spare room, and so on. While going through the office I found a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Lately I’ve been considering buying a Kindle, and therefore putting off buying any new books. Being a new homeowner, though, means not buying much of anything that isn’t necessary…that includes a Kindle

Meanwhile, I’d been wanting to buy Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and The Hunger Games. So when I found the B&N gift certificate I figured it meant I should go out and get Wild. I sat down and read a few chapters and then decided it was time to join Goodreads. And it was there that I discovered John Irving has a new book out next week. Continue reading

#Selfpublishing: Marketing is the Worst

After the article came out in the local paper about Fiona vs. the Foot Tickler, I saw a pretty decent uptick in sales so now that the holiday’s are over I’m redoubling my efforts at public relations & marketing.

What joy!

Last night I heard an interview on NPR with Amanda Hocking, and she was talking about how she decided to sign with a publisher in order to free up more time for writing.And I must agree that I wouldn’t mind a publisher’s marketing machine. Though most authors don’t get the attention that Amanda Hocking does. Not only did she go into her contract with a proven sales track record, but she also has a great human interest story to tell. In other words, many authors are virtually on their own with or without a contract.

So I’ve turned to another local paper, and  to some more high-tech sources for PR help.

Here’s a couple of resources I’ve found to be helpful.

I also decided to make the book available in paperback through Createspace.

#Selfpublishing: The Experiment Continues

That's totally my BFF's baby on Santa's Lap!

My experiment in self-publishing continues! Last week I whipped up a press release and sent it to the newspaper where I began my career — giving them the first shot at the story. I love this paper, it epitomizes what’s great about local news organizations. They cover those tedious meetings where local government hash out the little details that really effect the lives of people.

I can’t say enough good things about this paper and all the ones like it across the country that cover all the little things that bigger news outlets pay no attention to. But like many other tiny, community newspapers The Citizen is not on the web. That means no links to the Fiona vs. the Foot Tickler’s Amazon page… so I wondered how it would actually effect sales. Continue reading

Books that Bug Me

By jamelah, Flickr Creative Commons

Last weekend I went to the Connecticut Forum Book Club and watched John Irving, Azar Nafisi, and Jonathan Franzen  talk about everything from the role of authors in our society to their favorite words. It was a fascinating evening that made me long for my college-days, when I spent so many hours of the day talking about books.

So my friend and I decided we were going to finally commit to tackling The Corrections, Franzen’s breakthrough novel. This is something I haven’t been able to do for years. I loathe just about every character in the book and just kind of wish they’d all get wiped out by chapter five courtesy of a plague. Oddly, I feel much the same way about this book as I do Eat, Pray, Love. The comparison seems a bit of stretch, I know. It’s not about the writing, it’s about the feelings the characters stir up in me: mainly, annoyance.  Continue reading

More on Elephants & Books

A few weeks back I tried to read Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. I’m still working on it. In the meantime, I read Water for Elephants and I loved it.

The movie version will be out any moment — with some questionable casting — and what will, likely, be an even more predictable ending in cinematic form. But the cast of characters is worth every moment you spend reading (though it won’t take long at all). From Walter the drunk, dwarf clown to Camel the ancient, alcoholic roustabout they’re all fun and heartbreaking. This is the kind of book you have to put down from time to time because it’s just too much to take…and you’ll put off finishing it because you don’t want it to be over. Continue reading

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

eat-pray-love-movieAgainst my better judgement I watched Eat Pray Love on Saturday night. It popped up in the “New Arrivals” section of my Netflix and I had nothing better to do, so I figured I’d see if the movie somehow managed to be more worthwhile than the book. Nope. It was worse.

I read the book a few years back when I was working in book publishing and felt out of the loop for not having read it. It was a quick read, and it’s pretty infectious in that you can’t help but wish you had the time and money to go on the same kind of adventure. But I found Elizabeth Gilbert immensely unlikable and just know that had I met her in those days I would have thought she was fun for about 3 months and then realized all the same things she realized about herself — namely that she was boy-crazy and had no real sense of herself — and would have wanted to slap her. (To be fair, I’ve been freakishly self-possessed since I was…well…born.)  Continue reading

She Bu De (Seh-Boo-Deh)

For a while now, I’ve been mulling over my unconditional love of John Irving.

I’ve been plugging away at Last Night in Twisted River for almost two months. I picked it up before a Labor Day trip to New Hampshire. The Granite State’s most famous–at least in my world–son’s newest novel seemed like the obvious choice. But long before that a Colin McEnroe Show episode about “The Era of Bad Books” and a NPR essay called Proud and Unpretentious: Lessons from John Irving got me thinking. Continue reading

Soundtrack of My Life

I’ve recently realized something about myself: I like to make soundtracks. Sometimes I do it consciously, like when I make a mix for a roadtrip. Most of the time, though, I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I simply start associating a song (or songs) so closely with something that the two become inextricably linked in my mind. Continue reading

The Great American Roadtrip(s)

When I was a kid my grandparents would take my cousin and I on car trips all over the country. We drove from Connecticut to Texas, Wyoming, and Florida (more times than I can remember). But there are still places in this lovely country that I haven’t seen–or don’t remember seeing. So, last summer after a weekend roadtrip to Vermont with my friend, she and I decided to make a habit of it.

Yosemite Valley

Our next trip was in Novemeber; I was going to San Jose, CA for work so we flew out to San Francisco a few days ahead of time and drove down to Yosemite National Park. One of the things I love about America — well, all of North America, really — is just how vast and diverse it is. When you spend your life in New England, you get used to rolling hills, lush greens, autumn colors, and the occasional small mountains…and then you show up in a place like Yosemite and you can’t help but be awe struck. Continue reading


I’ve decided to join National Novel Writing Month…which was probably a very bad idea.

The whole idea is to write as much as possible during the month of November, and to get to 50,000 words by the end. You join a region, and compete against other areas. Normally, this wouldn’t be so bad, except that I am traveling for a week in the middle of the month…and have plenty of actual work to do!

Here it is, Nov. 4 and I’m only up to a little over 3,000 words. Things aren’t looking too good. I’m hoping that between JFK and San Francisco I’ll get to really crank up the word count.

I took the easy route, though, and decided to use this opportunity to start writing the follow-up to the book I’ve been working on for about a year now…and have been procrastinating on finishing for the last few months.


Inside an Editor’s Brain

My life has been taken over. It no longer belongs to me. I tell you this because I’ve been neglecting this blog. That does not, of course, mean I haven’t been writing. The truth is, I’ve been doing more writing than ever before.

Thanks to the economy I have been

  • Writing more for the various magazines I work on in order to save money on freelancers
  • Doing more freelancing, which never turns out to be easy but instead involves me dragging interviews out of people kicking and screaming Continue reading


If you haven’t already discovered, you really should…

It’s a lot like WEBook or EditRed only this is strictly for books — and has an actual publishing company and its editors scouring its pages for the next big thing! HarperCollins UK thought it up,  and as a former HC employee I can tell you, they’re leading the way when it comes to the publishing industry’s digital revolution. This is just one example.

Some of us are better editors than writers though, so you can also sign up with the site and start looking for talent — helping promote the best books on the site so they get read by HC. It’s an idea far past it’s prime — and way less expensive than paying literary scouts and agents big bucks for bringing you the next J.K. Rowling. Or you can just read some good, or not so good, stories while you’re sitting at your desk, bored by the world of blogs!

In case you’re wondering, yes, I have an account, and have even posted my latest attempt at fiction novel. I’m hoping the Authonomy community is helpful enough to make it a better product!