Monday, August 31, 2009

Stephen Meister on Fox Business News

I've been getting some hits on my blog for people looking for info on my brother's appearances on Fox Business News talking about the forthcoming tsunami in commercial real estate, so I figured I'd give people what they're looking for.

Here's his apppearance today, 8/31/09, from the Bulls and Bears program:

And here's his previous appearance, 8/17/09, from Neil Cavuto's program:


I'm not one of those writers who blows through the first draft, getting it all down as fast as possible. I'm what Kurt Vonnegut called a basher. That is, I bash at every paragraph as I go along, trying to get it perfect before I move on.

And yet, I go back and edit in hard copy. No less than fifteen runs through this particular proposal and I still have pages that look like this:

No wonder I have a headache ...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Update 8/28

• Last week all three kids were in Florida with my parents, and they flew home by themselves last Saturday. They were real troupers despite long delays. I won't bore you with the details, but they boarded the plane in Florida at 2:30 and we didn't get home until almost 10 pm.

• Most of the week was spent catching up on stuff like dentist appointments, doctor appointments and school supply shopping, but we also got to see BandSlam. The kids loved it like crazy. Too bad it didn't do that well. I blame it on poor marketing, and not the film itself, which was so great for teens and tweens. Lisa Kudrow, who plays the mom, really got to show her chops in one scene in particular. If it's playing near you, rush out to take the kids. I promise they'll love it.

• Mike and I got to see Inglourious Basterds last week. I thought it was absolutely astounding. He tried to argue that Kill Bill was better, but I think he's completely lost his mind on this one. Anyway, click here to read my favorite review of this movie.

• Finished reading Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize winning OLIVE KITTERIDGE and I loved it, though I'll only recommend to people who love literary fiction, as it doesn't have a strong enough through-story for people who like page-turners. Just read Philip Roth's GOODBYE, COLUMBUS, which I apparently never read before. Wanted to like it more than I did. I suppose the frankness of the sexuality and observations of Jewish nouveau riche culture made it groundbreaking in its day, but it's not quite enough to create a classic. My favorite scenes were the ones with Aunt Gladys. Hilarious, pitch perfect dialogue there.

• I'm recommending Ron Currie's EVERYTHING MATTERS! to everyone. Seriously. You have to read this astounding book. I promise you won't be able to put it down.

• Special mid-week treat: my old pal and former boss, John Skelly, blew through town and stopped in to say hello with his brother, Joe. John's got a cool website you should check out, Downtown Charlotte.

• Thanks to my friend Myfanwy Collins, I downloaded a really cool free program called Dropbox, that lets you save files on one computer and access them on another. Very easy to use. Give it a try: Dropbox

• I'm pretty thrilled with the early praise my forthcoming book is getting. Check it out on my Publishers Marketplace page.

• I think I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with this proposal I'm working on. I'm re-re-re-re-editing the first 70 pages and then will take another stab at the outline. I have about two-thirds of the broad strokes worked out in my notes. Still lots of questions, but I can actually envision coming up with answers, so that's progress.

Have a great weekend ...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Update, 8/21

It's been a relaxing week, with the kids in Florida and no one here but us grown-ups. I do miss them (seriously!) but we managed to have a bit of fun.

• On Saturday we went to see Julie and Julia. I have two words: Meryl Streep. And two more: Holy crap. Doesn't seem humanly possible to deliver that kind of performance.

• On Sunday we braved the traffic and went to Tobay Beach. (Whose idea was it to close down three lanes of traffic on a Sunday in August on the only road leading to the beach? Someone needs to be punched in the throat.) Still, it was glorious.

• On Monday I went into Manhattan to have lunch with my Putnam editor, Rachel Kahan. It was about a million degrees, but I'm so glad I went. I learned a ton and man, does she have some interesting stories!

• On my way out of the Penguin Putnam building I met Jill Zarin (one of the Real Housewives of New York City) and Lisa Wexler (host of Live! With Lisa Radio), two Jewish sisters who are writing a book together. It was kind of ironic because I happen to be working on a novel about two Jewish cousins who might write a book together. Anyway, they were very friendly and it was a delight to meet them.

• On Monday night, my smartypants brother, Stephen Meister, explained the coming financial tsunami in commercial real estate on Neil Cavuto's show on Fox Business News. Check it out:

• On Tuesday Mike and I took the ferry to Shelter Island and had dinner at Sunset Beach, a lovely restaurant on the water. It felt like we had been away on vacation. The picture to the left was taken from my cellphone between courses. Crazy, but it was the first time either of us had been to Shelter Island. What a place!

• On Wednesday I met up with Saralee Rosenberg and we celebrated with another Long Island writer pal, Brenda Janowitz, as she and her husband Doug welcomed baby Benjamin into the world with the holy ritual of a Bris. Congrats to the beautiful family!

• Shoot. Fell asleep before The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson last night and missed my cousin Lisa Kudrow's appearance. Would love to see a clip if anyone can find one.

• Did manage to stay up to see Renee Zellweger on David Letterman. Her face stayed so still while she talked it looked like she was wearing a mask. I like her and this makes me sad.

• Yesterday I worked like a dog on the project I mentioned above, The Cousins' Club. I managed to edit all 70 pages, working in new ideas and layers. This morning, just as I was finishing, I got yet another idea for changing something that would add a dimension and be a big improvement. Dear Subconscious: I appreciate that you're working round the clock to come up with these gems, but next time would mind making the delivery before I've written and polished 17,000 words?

• I now have a Publishers Marketplace page. Check it out:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Fun With Dad on "The Machine"

Every few weeks my father calls for help with something on the computer, which he calls "the machine." It's a great exercise in communication for me, because I have to figure out how to break the task down to its most basic components for someone with a high IQ but no technical vocabulary ...

DAD: I want to, um ... I mean there's a website and I want to email someone ... how do I ...

ME: You want to send someone a link?

DAD: Yes! That's right. I want to send someone a link.

ME: Okay, open to the web page.

DAD: What web page?

ME: The one you want to send a link to.

DAD: Do I need to close the email?

ME: No. You can minimize it if you want. Just open another window. (I know he uses IE and doesn't use tabs. I can't begin to get into that lesson with him.)

DAD: Okay. Give me a minute.



ME: Dad?

DAD: Just a minute.

ME: Take your time.




ME: Dad?

DAD: Almost got it.



DAD: Okay, I got the web page. Now what?

ME: You know that bar at the top where you see the website address? Put your cursor in there and click once.

DAD: Okay.

ME: Is it highlighted?

DAD: Is it what?

ME: Did it turn blue?

DAD: (Excited) Yes!

ME: Okay, hold the control key and hit the letter C.

DAD: Is the control key that one on the bottom?

ME: Yes.

DAD: Is it the one that says Alt?

ME: No, it's the one that says Control.

DAD: Um ... where is it?

ME: Keep looking.



DAD: I found it.

ME: Good. Now open your email again.

DAD: Oh my god! Where did it go? It's gone! Good lord!!

ME: Don't panic. It's not gone. It's probably right behind the page you're on.

So I walked him through minimizing the page, opening his email, and using CONTROL-V to paste in the url.

DAD: Control C?

ME: No, this time you have to hit control V as in Victor.

DAD: V is the hardest letter to find.

ME: I'll wait.

At his point he screwed up and lost what was in his clipboard. So we had to start all over again. When we finally accomplished this simple task he exclaimed that it was like a miracle, and the first time he ever used the control key.

ME: No it's not, Dad. I walked you through this same thing at least half a dozen times before.

DAD: But I don't remember, so it's LIKE I never used it before.

Lest you think my dad is an imbecile, know that he probably has a better and deeper grasp of more topics than the next ten most intelligent people I know. (I challenge you to come up with a question about WWII he can't answer off the top of his head.) It just goes to prove what I've always believed ... we're all ignorant, just about different things.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday Update, 8/14

My apologies. I've been such a lax blogger this summer. Mostly, I'm busy with work and the gym. The kids are really easy peasy all summer--in camp all day and no real carpooling requirements. Anyway, here's are highlights of my last two weeks ...

• Reached 16,000 words on the work-in-progress, but got two pretty big ideas that will improve it, so I have to do some rewriting. Then the impossible part--trying to come up with some kind of cogent outline that will turn it into a proposal.

Have I mentioned that writing a book is hard?

• Had a wonderful, beach-side dinner with some writer pals last week. Wall's Wharf in Bayville might be the prettiest summer dining spot on Long Island. So ... great company, fab views, so-so food.

• Just finished reading Julia Glass's I SEE YOU EVERYWHERE, a beautiful study of the intense and challenging relationship between two sisters. Now I'm reading the Pulitzer Prize winning OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout, which is knocking me out. The next two books in my reading pile are Ron Currie's EVERYTHING MATTERS! and Richard Russo's THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC. I love these two writers and I'm really looking forward to reading these books, but four literary novels in a row might be a bit much. A friend is due to send me a ripping thriller, which would make a great intermezzo. Hope it gets here soon.

• Shout-out to my pal Regina for coming to the gym and showing me what I was doing wrong and how I can make some better progress.

• Highlight of the past week was meeting up with my friend Maryanne Stahl and going to see Richard Russo (my favorite living author) and Pat Conroy at the Union Square Barnes & Noble. I have to admit I was a smidge disappointed that Russo didn't write anything personal in my copy of his new book, despite how hard I tried to impress him. (Yes, I'm that pathetic.) Kind of reminds of my very first published short story, "Mrs. Esserman's Eggs."