Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Dinner with Doctorow

I've made a show of my crush on George Clooney, but the truth is that I haven't gotten truly weak in the knees over a movie star since I was a tender young thing and Paul Newman walked by me on West 57th Street close enough to touch. So I guess you could say I'm not particularly starstruck.

Unless, of course, you're talking about authors. These are my matinĂ©e idols, my rock stars, my heroes, and always have been. In fact, even when I young enough to get all stupid over Paul Newman, I was even more enthralled by an author I had just started reading, Richard Yates. Talk about weak in the knees. Yates's prose made me swoon.

I worked for his literary agent back then, and was fortunate enough to speak with Yates on the phone a number of times, and even got an autographed copy of LIARS IN LOVE. As you can imagine, it is my most prized possession.

(click image for larger view)

In the years since, I've been blessed with the opportunity meet and even befriend some of my favorite authors. Happy to say I still haven't become jaded. Indeed, the more distinguished a writer is, the more breathless I am about the idea of face time.

So you can imagine how excited I was to get the following email from my cousin Richard a few months ago:

We had the Oratorio Society auction this evening.  

Lois and I bought 3 places at a dinner for 8 people at the home of Helen and Edgar (E.L.) Doctorow.  

We were hoping you would be interested in joining us for the evening.  It is scheduled for Wednesday, 29 September 2010, time to be announced.  

Let me know if that would work for you.

Work for me? Dinner with E.L. Doctorow? I almost fell off my chair.

So of course I eagerly accepted. But I worried about the encounter. Would I babble in nervousness, as I often do? Would I embarrass myself and my dear cousin?

Last night was the dinner, and I'm happy to say it was a  wonderfully charming evening. Doctorow's wife, Helen, was so gracious she put me right at ease. We talked a bit about politics, a bit about writing, and a bit about WQXR. Toward the end of the evening, Edgar Doctorow asked me if I would like to do a reading at NYU, and Helen said that I'm a lively kid. I took it as a warm compliment!

So I guess I managed to get through it without making a fool of myself, even when Edgar made a passing reference to a late friend of his who had suggested the best way to present his work on stage. The friend's name? Paul Newman.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Update 9/24/10

I'm in the last frantic weeks before my daughter's bat mitzvah, so this is going to be quick ...

• Early this week my editor sent along press kit copy for THE OTHER LIFE, and I was thrilled with the writing and the way they positioned the book. Those folks at Putnam do a great job!

• Also happy to announce that the gorgeous and magical cover I love has been approved. They're just making some final tweaks, so I should be able to post a picture soon.

• Went to the book launch event for Susan Henderson's UP FROM THE BLUE this week and it was terrific. Sue read the first chapter of the book and the audience was so gripped no one breathed until she finished.

• Marilyn Brant's new book, FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE, is coming out 10/1 and it looks like a winner. If I have time, I'll post an interview with her next week. In the meantime, please check out her website.

• Wonderful post from my pal Saralee Rosenberg on the Girlfriends Book Club blog. Check it out ... you'll thank me!

• Was really knocked off my chair Monday by a Brian Doyle poem that appeared in the New York Times Metropolitan Diary column. Click here, and scroll down to ON 155TH STREET, IN THE BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN.

More soon. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


By Susan Henderson

Yesterday was pub date for Susan Henderson's debut novel, UP FROM THE BLUE, and I was fortunate enough to attend her launch event at Book Revue (one of my all-time favorite bookstores!).  I had already read it, but just hearing the first chapter again took my breath away. Honestly, this is the best novel I've read in a long, long time and I implore you to run out and buy a copy. Here's the blurb I wrote for it:

"Brilliant! UP FROM THE BLUE felt like a gorgeous gift to my heart. Susan Henderson has a genius for exposing the exquisite flaws and beautiful frailties of her characters with such tenderness the reader can't help but be uplifted. Yes, it's that sublime. I fell in love with Tillie, I fell in love with this book. You will, too." -- Ellen Meister, author of THE OTHER LIFE and THE SMART ONE

You can buy it today at your favorite chain or independent bookstore. To purchase online, visit,,, or any cyber bookseller. For more information, visit Sue's website at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Update 9/17/10

• It's been a long haul on the book jacket for THE OTHER LIFE, and it looks like it's finally coming to an end. Last week my editor sent along a design we all loved. It's beautiful and magical and everything I could have hoped for. Alas, I can't show it to you yet as we're still waiting to hear if the sales department thinks it works. Stay tuned. I'm hoping I can post it here next week.

• Getting more and more excited about the book as pub date draws near. This week my editor sent me press release copy and it was pretty stupendous. A shout-out to the smart, talented folks at Penguin Putnam who put such great creative energy into it!

• On a personal note, things are still blazing along at breakneck speed as we hurtle toward the date of my daughter's Bat Mitzvah. I'm so busy and anxious I got myself a little sick, but am on the mend. Also, I'm trying to remind myself to enjoy this trip!

• Happy to say I've managed to stay on schedule with my writing goals. Hit page 200 on FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER this week, which is just where I wanted to be. The scene I'm finishing up is the one I consider the end of Act II. Fyi, the "acts" are invisible divisions, used only as a device to help me structure the story.

• Susan Henderson's brilliant debut novel, UP FROM THE BLUE, comes out next week, and I'll be joining her for the launch party at Book Revue in Huntington on Tuesday, September 21, at 7pm. If you're on Long Island, you shouldn't miss this! Click here for more info.

Click to hear my 14-second homage to Dorothy Parker on

Wishing my Jewish friends an easy fast ... and a great weekend to all!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Update 9/9/10

L'Shana Tovah! For those of you don't know, it's the Jewish New Year, and we're celebrating of arrival of 5771.

Speaking of things Jewish, I'm in the home stretch with plans for my daughter's Bat Mitzvah next month, which leaves me little time for anything else. Indeed, my To Do list is putting me in an absolute panic.

So not much time for this update or anything else. Besides, no real career news to report. Still holding steady and waiting for official word on something I'm bursting to announce. Also waiting for new cover art for THE OTHER LIFE. (By the way, the book is now listed on with a product description.)

But ... proud to say that despite my schedule, I've been managing to hit my writing goals these past few weeks, which feels like a miracle. Of course the house is a mess, the laundry is piling up, phone calls are going unreturned, emails unanswered, and my anxiety level is not pretty.

Long, slow breaths, right?

Have a great weekend ...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Found a great site for ordering t-shirts and I wanted to share. I'm ordering my daughter's bat mitzvah tees from this company, and will go back if I decide to order promotional t-shirts for THE OTHER LIFE ...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Update 9/3/10

Big news! Well, big to me. The kids went back to school this week.

Some other highlights and cool links ...

• Amidst the insanity of getting ready for school and gearing up for my daughter's impending bat mitzvah, I had to take someone to the hospital for a scheduled treatment. It was a medication drip that takes two hours to complete. The nurse came back repeatedly to check the pump and make adjustments. "You're in the home stretch now," she said at one point. "Just a little while longer." About a half hour later I noticed that the medicine bag looked full. Guess what? SHE NEVER STARTED THE DRIP. He had been receiving a slow drip of saline for all those hours and we had to start from scratch.

Can you say "incompetent"?

But as maddening as it was to waste all those precious hours, at least it wasn't dangerous. It really drove home how easy it is to be the victim of medical mistakes.

• A couple of great links for my writer friends. Here, author April Henry addresses writing for teens vs. adults, and here, agent Nathan Bransford succinctly explains "high concept."

• A very generous new writer friend, Jill Thomas, posted a rave review of THE SMART ONE this week. Thanks, Jill!

• Another big thanks to all who visited and left comments on my first Girlfriends Book Club blog entry.

• Despite my hectic schedule, I'm back on track with FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, and made some good progress this week. I actually had a couple of storyline epiphanies and am excited to get it all written. Love being back in the writing groove!

• Speaking of FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, a very special shout-out to my darling and brilliant friend Myfanwy Collins for reading my chapters and offering such sage editorial advice. Everyone should be lucky enough to have such a smart and wonderful friend!

• Aside to Project Runway fans ... Mondo got robbed. We all know the judges chose Michael C. for the back room drama, don't we?

That's it for now. To my fellow East Coasters ... nail your tushes to the ground and have a safe weekend! And happy Labor Day wishes to all.