Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Tag

The Write Stuff   Leave a comment

vintagewomanofficetypewriter

I’m totally grateful I have a job that allows me to work from home. Really. I. Am. As it is, we used a cooperative workspace pre-COVID and all of our files are in the cloud, as is our software, so we’re fluid to begin with. We’re not tied to one place or server. That makes it so easy for us to access whatever we need, create new documents and do all sorts of neat stuff. Wherever I am, I’m usually writing or researching for hours on end. All those words add up to a bunch of sentences that forge into paragraphs and before you know it, there’s a whole document just waiting to be edited by my boss.

When 9:00 am strikes, there I am at my kitchen table, checking the email and social media messages. Usually by 10:00 am I start on my assignments for the day. And when 5:00 pm hits, I’m often in the middle of something so I keep at it until I finish. By then, my eyes are incredibly bleary and dry from staring at a blue-lit screen. So when the evening rolls around, my eyes are too gorped up to write anything. Besides, my creative well’s pretty dried up then, too.

Even writing this blog presents its challenges. Sure, I’ve got plenty to say but no ambition to say it. I really, REALLY hate this whole COVID thing. It’s thrown a monkey wrench into my plans. My Twitter feed is loaded with writers who’re meeting and exceeding all sorts of goals. If I included the number of words I put down daily, I’d beat them all.

Unfortunately, only a select audience reads grant proposals, press releases, blast emails and social media posts. So far as I know, there’s no real story arcs or plot twists in letting the world know my place of employment is hosting a virtual event on Zoom, and in the accompanying press release I’ve sent off to the media to announce it. Although, there is something to be said about the nail-biting, stress-inducing grant proposal…but only after it’s been sent off to the foundation or government agency offering it.

Today’s gorgeous. So was yesterday. Thought I might sit outside and have a cup of something and maybe write some. Within a half-hour, my lungs betrayed me. Damn asthma! Damn pollen! I’m on an inhaler but it only goes so far. It also doesn’t help that the unending roar of motorcycles streaming through my town destroys my concentration, although I’m getting better at ignoring them.

Here I am, in the lower Hudson Valley, and we have so many COVID cases with its share of sorrowful deaths, yet few seem to be paying attention. I took a brief drive yesterday so that my poor car can have its engine kept in shape and I can go someplace in a protective bubble without worrying I’m going to catch anything. Thousands of people were on the road – no lie – and squeezed between all those vehicles were an equal amount of motorcycles. Then those riders hopped off and stood in groups, close, no masks. As I drove through a few towns, loads of people, also maskless, stood around and gathered, no social distancing between them, chatting away as if this was last year.

My town is one of those places that fills up with city people on the weekends and the summer, so it’s no surprise that we have our fair share of COVID cases in town. Even today, people are out in droves, chatting, walking, no social distancing. I really can’t blame people for a little freedom from their homes and worries. But seriously, folks, use a little caution!

Fed up with just about everything, I decided to risk something myself yesterday. I ordered takeout from a restaurant just across the way. I ate there often when things were normal, as they’re good, close and affordable. The last time I ordered from them was March. A day later, on my Facebook page, some well-meaning friend posted a story about how risky it was to order takeout, how one should remove the meal from the bag and cartons and the proper way to disinfect one’s home and self upon placing said meal on your own plate, and to NEVER eat from the original container. I freaked out so much after reading that I swore I’d never do that again. But eating one’s own cooking for too long causes its own level of agitation, so I threw caution to the wind and enjoyed a nice serving of meatloaf, fresh mixed vegetables (not frozen or canned) and a healthy pile of mashed potatoes with gravy. Even went so far as to order a slice of cheesecake that was amazingly delicious. I felt better instantly.

So here I sit now, writing this blog and after I publish it, will go back to my edits for my book that my agent has surely forgotten that I’ve written. My sister has helped me out a great deal trying to get my story into excellent shape. I think about returning to it often, but just can’t get into it for whatever reason. Yet the story lives on in my head, and the characters are beating me up trying to get on with their plots and storylines. I owe it to them to breathe life back into them, and maybe too, my life as a writer.

Stay safe and inspired, friends.

Random House Open House   Leave a comment

Gretchen at RH 4-29-16

Yours truly, causing problems

Oh, what a day I had last Friday! I got to walk in the temple of literature amongst the gods. That’s right – I went to Penguin Random House.

So many distinguished authors have had the blessed fortune to be published by this institution, it’s mind-boggling. Seriously, one can’t take it all in. To wit: here’s a wall (and it’s only a partial view) of the Nobel Prize winners that have had their works published here.

Nobel Prize Wall

PRH’s distinguished and honored literary lineup

Why was I there to begin with? To ask/beg them to publish my work? Pssh. If only. No, I went with my sister and a bunch of our friends (also writers) to their quarterly open house. If you’re interested in books, writing, publishing, or just stretching your mind, it’s the best place in the whole world.

PRH presents a lineup of great writers of all genres, plus a little insider stuff. The day started off with Questlove, best known as the bandleader for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He wrote this wonderful book entitled SOMETHINGTOFOODABOUT, a collection of essays and interviews with chefs who raise their culinary talents to the artistic level. It’s a beautiful book, full of amazing photos of food worship. I longed for a snack after gazing through its pages. He kindly autographed it.

QuestloveGretchen & Questlove

Questlove chats with his cowriter, Ben Greenman;

Gretchen gets his autograph – very nice man indeed!

 

Later on in the morning, Justin Cronin and Pierce Brown held a discussion regarding their books. Both had such camaraderie, one might think they knew each other forever. They’d only met fifteen minutes before taking the stage. Still, their engaging conversation gave writers (like me) hope that even if you have 137 rejections (like Pierce Brown did), you still might get lucky. And boy, did he ever. Justin Cronin was a college professor whose daughter, quite young at the time, told him not to write boring books.

Justin CroninPierce & JustinPosing with Pierce Brown

Autographing it up with Justin Cronin, listening to their chat (I know, bad photo) and chatting with Pierce

After lunch, two in-house art directors, Greg Mollica and Joe Perez discussed the finer points of creating a cover. They used several books for examples, some going through several dozen attempts to reach the right look. It’s really true that a book is judged by its cover, because without reading a word, you’ve got to attract the reader’s attention. My favorite story was that of Mark Maron – he’s a favorite of mine and I love his podcast. Mark loves cats. Getting a cat to cooperate proved to be an exercise in patience, as the cat wrangler tried very hard, as well as Mark, to get the cat to pose. I think we all know what comes next:

Maron Covers

Some of the shots trying to get THE shot for the cover

PRH saved the best for last: Anna Quindlen. In case you didn’t know, a New York Times columnist and NYT bestselling author many times over. She was interviewed by no less than Lee Woodruff, an author whose husband, Bob Woodruff, was a correspondent for ABC news and suffered a serious head injury in the Middle East – a story in itself. She discussed her writing process and the fact that one of her sons thought it was entirely gross that she wrote sex scenes in her books (he was a kid at the time). Fortunately, she had the best snacks on the block and all the kids hung out at her place after school.

Anna Quindlen

Anna Quindlen and Lee Woodruff, a little on the dark side

The day went by like lightning and was over far too soon. As I sat on the train, staring out at the window on my way home, reading Questlove’s book and feeling hungry, I thought to myself how lucky I was to have been in Random House, thoroughly enjoying the day. Who knows? Maybe one day my books will grace their library walls for all to see. But for now, I’m glad I went and can’t wait for the next one.

Gwen, Me & Linda at RH

Me, my sister Gwen Jones and our friend Linda Parisi

GOT Coloring Book

My souvenir for the day

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