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Friday, April 25, 2008

If at first you don’t succeed… Hope you do the second time. Or maybe the third…

I watch a lot of Oprah. I have a long history with the woman that stretches back to me and my grandma when I was a tiny chica in grade school. I now DVR the show every day. I own Oprah’s 20th anniversary DVDs and the book she released at Christmas. My husband thinks I’m crazy.

However, some of the philosophies that Miss O touts really do make sense. For example, one popular refrain is that if you don’t learn a lesson the first time, you will continue to be faced with that same lesson your whole life until you finally get it through your thick skull. However, she phrases it much more elegantly. Something like, “God speaks in a whisper, and if you don’t get it, he tosses a pebble, then a stone, then brick, until the whole house falls on you.”

I’m in the throws of several life lessons at the moment. And I’m really hoping that I get them this time, and that I don’t end up with my house in a pile of bricks (and this is Philly, so it would be brick…and shutters).

I’m currently going through the copy edits for my second book. Now, when I had received the copy edits for Amor, it was the first time I was faced with the “secret code” of copy editors—all those red squiggly lines and hieroglyphics that make up the corrections to my prose. It took about two weeks to decipher them, read them, add in my changes and mail them back.

I didn’t make a copy.

You can probably guess where this is going. A couple of weeks ago, I received the proofs for Amor and many of my changes had been accidentally overlooked by typesetters, or printers, or somebody. I had to recreate them all from scratch. My wonderful mother-in-law even volunteered to read the book (two times! How great is she!) in one panicked week to help me look for additional errors. And all the while, my poor agent was saying, “You really should’ve made a copy.”

This time, I will.

And while that may be an easy lesson to learn, I find that those lessons dealing with your personal life are much harder to recognize. I’m blessed that in my 30 years, I’ve formed a lot of close friendships. My husband and I joke that we’re the real-life “wedding crashers,” only we’re always invited (10 weddings the year that we got married, and another 10 this current year). I know all the words to “Shout!,” I can also recite First Corinthians and chant a mean “Baruch Atah Adonai…”

But I also know that with friends, family and festive functions, comes drama. I’ve had to deal with people who were afraid to walk up steps at a reception (we’re talking, like, five steps), people who have relieved themselves in areas that were not bathrooms, and people who have blown the surprise for the bridal shower. But whether the problems result from big things, like scheduling conflicts, or little things, like car bombs (the alcoholic kind, not the dangerous kind…though I guess they’re both kinda dangerous), something always comes up. Always.

Now, the question is, have I learned enough from dealing with my past experiences to apply those lessons to this next crop of weddings? Or will I wait until I need to learn a lesson so big that it’s on national television (like that diva from the Big Give who Oprah reprimanded in the after show…ouch. Watch it here: http://www.oprah.com/about/oprahsbiggive/episodes/106/episodes_114.jhtml)?

I’m hoping I figure it out before I end up on national TV. But if I don’t, then I hope it’s Oprah I end up on and not Jerry Springer. I’m not good at throwing chairs.

POP-CULTURE RANT: Elections

So…..now that the PA primaries are over, Hillary and Barack don’t call anymore? It’s just over? No, goodbye. I was receiving a good four messages a day from Hil. Another two from Barack. And another two from John Dougherty (State Senate, but man did that guy have a ton of cash for a promotional campaign. He called me as much as Michelle Obama). I mean, Barack’s people offered to drive me to the polls! Hillary’s people invited me to rallies! We were close. I was important. Real-life, non-computer generated people even called me. And now, poof! It’s just over. Barack was in Indiana before the primary numbers were even in. And CNN’s already forgotten about us. I feel so used…

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Starve a Cold, Edit a Fever? No Wait, Write a Fever?

You know those times when you feel so overwhelmed that you don’t want to do anything? We’ve all been there: like finals week in college, or the deadline before the big meeting, or the days leading up to a major event. To this day, I still remember that dog-awful Women’s Studies final I had junior year at BU; it was the most intense cram-session of my life. And it was a class I took as an elective!

Anyway, I’m currently in the midst of one of those overwhelming moments. And in response, my body has given me the flu.

Twisted, isn’t it?

I just turned in the proofs of Amor and Summer Secrets, coughing all the way to UPS. When I got home, the copy edits for the sequel were sitting on my doorstep. I have less than two weeks to make my changes and send them back. I actually laid on the couch yesterday afternoon with my head on a pillow and read the first 40 pages (though considering the amount of meds that were in my system, I’m not sure how much I can rely on my judgment at the time). I also wrote 1,000 words for my WIP, which I was hoping to finish next month but now I’m not so certain. Damn you, flu bug!

Oh, did I mention that I still do consulting for my former company? And that they’ve asked me to do a newsletter for them in the next two weeks? But they still haven’t sent me the copy.

At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillary asked me to help run her PA campaign. Oh wait, they did call and ask me to attend a rally before the debate tonight. But, sadly, I think my fever and I will be watching it from the couch—completely ruining my husband’s tailgating plans. We wanted to set up an Eagles tent and folding chairs outside the Constitution Center while grilling burgers and drinking cans of Coors Light. “Every time they say ‘healthcare,’ drink!

Who knows, maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and be miraculously cured. I mean, the Pope is only two hours away. Do his healing vibes stretch this far?

POP-CULTURE RANT: Hillary's Drexel University Speech

Okay, I get that she’s famous and needs to be “protected” and all, but did the little Secret Service guys with the wires in their ears really need to push me away and cause me to lose my chance at an autograph? I don’t exactly look like Osama bin Laden, folks. Come on, how threatening am I? You see, I have this list of 100 things to do before I die, and one of them is “Meet the President.” I already met John McCain in New Hampshire when he ran for president the last time. So I was hoping to shake Hillary’s hand and solidify the fact that I had “officially” met her. Instead, all I got was this photo of her and Mayor Nutter (note: Mayor Nutter is not the Secret Service guy standing behind her in the close up). Do you think it counts? Anyway, look out, Barack, you’re next on my list! Only, your people don’t seem to be calling me as much as the Clintons…

 

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Authors can only control the writing

I’m a Type A over-achiever. This means I put immense pressure on myself and I worry a lot (thanks mom for passing down those genes). I stress about everything from money to Christmas dinner to dentist appointments. I’m also crazy competitive. In the 10 years that I’ve been in a relationship with my husband, I’ve beaten him in Scrabble—a lot (“Riesling,” 77 points, all-time high). I even catch myself in Zen-inducing yoga classes oddly competing with the Cirque du Soleil contortionist next me even though my muscles clearly are not made out of rubber bands.

So when it comes to dealing with the publishing process, I can stress myself into a bout of TMJ. Because as an author, you can’t control beyond the last word you put on the page.

You can’t control whether the book gets sold. You can’t control the shifts in the market. You can’t control whether it gets reviewed by People. You can’t control how it’s perceived in the marketplace. And you can’t control whether it gets picked up by the Goddess of Oprah. You can only control the writing.

It’s a lesson I learn everyday. It’s how I keep my Type A tendencies in check. I write. I always have something new in the works, because writing is what I love to do.

It also helps that I have an agent who gets me and an editor who loves my work. Plus, I have a background in public relations, which means I get to spend the months between now and September (the book launch) obsessively focusing on ways to sell my book. Sure, I can’t control how many teens go out and buy it. But I can control how many schools I speak at, how many book stores I contact, and how many press releases I promote. Plus, I have a husband with a background in marketing who works for an interactive advertising agency. That doesn’t hurt.

So I know what needs to be done and I’ve never been one to sit back and wait for things to happen. If I were, I wouldn’t have gotten this far; I wouldn’t be an author.

“I majored in marketing, baby, and so did my husband. We came to play.” –Regina King in Jerry Maguire

POP-CULTURE RANT: Elections

I have an odd obsession with CNN’s election coverage. I love that board they draw on like they’re John Madden. But what I love even more is that it all comes down to Pennsylvania, baby! Since I have been of voting age, the primaries have all been decided by the time they got to my home state. Why does PA vote three months after Iowa? I have no idea (Rendell should get on that). But now all those “expert pundits,” who were ready to hand Obama the victory after a single state’s election, have to wait until the keystone state weighs in. Seven weeks of nonstop stumping in Philadelphia! I wouldn’t be surprised if Chelsea Clinton shows up at my niece’s Communion to stir up votes (hint, hint).

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