Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Update 5/28

So crazed this week with end-of-the-school year stuff. Way worse than usual as the wonderkid is graduating and we're still working out his transition plan. Here's what else is going on ...

• Last weekend's 5K race to benefit Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism went really well. My husband was nursing a knee injury, which meant he was happy to run at my slow pace, coaching me along. I didn't break any records, but of course that wasn't my goal. All I wanted to do was keeping running straight through to the end, which I did. Big thanks to all who sponsored us.

• Finished the first third of FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER and printed it out to edit in hard copy. So far, so good. :)

HarperCollins threw a book blogger party Wednesday night, and my pal Susan Henderson was one of the two featured authors. That means I got my hands on an ARC of her forthcoming debut, UP FROM THE BLUE. I can hardly wait to read this book. The buzz it's getting is astounding ... so make note. This is one for your must-read list.

• I was thrilled that the party was held at the Algonquin, as it gave me an additional opportunity to channel Dorothy Parker.
That's a young Mrs. Parker herself in the pearls. Alexander Woollcott, the theater critic who started the Algonquin Round Table,  is seated on the right. The man standing behind her in the light suit is Harpo Marx. If anyone else can identify the two other men I'd appreciate it.

Pindeldyboz, a wonderful literary e-zine, is shutting down after 10 years. It was one of the first places that published me (remarkably, I'm still proud of the story). Sorry to see it go, but it had a good long run.

• My friend Debra Borden, a wonderful woman and terrifically funny author, sent Oprah an audition tape. I hope you'll click and give her a vote.

• Read a fascinating couple of paragraphs in BusinessWeek the other day about experiments using whipworms to cure Crohn's Disease. Check it out.

• Another season of American Idol comes to an end, and once again the nation proves it values mediocrity over talent. Oh, well. At least I wasn't emotionally invested this time. I leave you with a video of someone who took it to heart (with thanks to Ken Levine for the link) ...

Have a great weekend. xo

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Update 5/21

Some crazy schizophrenic weather this week in New York, but it seems like spring might actually have settled in at last.

Here's the latest ...

• Happy for the lovely weather, as tomorrow the whole family is "running" in a race to benefit Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism. I put that in quotes as I might be the only one attempting to break a sweat. The kids will probably walk the whole way, and Mike is nursing a pulled muscle. We'll see ... should be fun in any case.

(That could be actual an picture of me, only my legs aren't that fat.)

• Just want to add that it's a great cause, and I encourage you to make a donation. Click here to donate online.

• Speaking of services for autism, if you're a Long Islander, there are some kids who could really use your help. They need to do some job sampling this summer to learn basic work skills, so if your business is willing to hire some very well-behaved high-functioning autistic teenagers for part time work, please drop me a line. They would be accompanied by aides, and could work for little or no money. Thanks so much!

• Some cool publishing news: my wonderful editor sent along a book jacket design for THE OTHER LIFE and I'm head-over-heels in love with it. I'll post it just as soon as the final version is approved.

• Made my way through the copyedited ms. this week and sent it back to my publisher, along with my acknowledgments. It's all starting to feel so real.

• Just found out I'm having dinner with E.L. Doctorow in September, thanks to my cousins Richard and Lois. Whose life am I living? Surely this can't be mine. Anyway, more on that soon.

• My brother's star as a right wing media darling keeps rising. Here's Stephen Meister's latest: an Op-Ed in the New York Post called THE NEXT DI$A$TER: Federal mortgage insurance.

Back to work, as I've been neglecting Dorothy Parker for too long. Have a great weekend ...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Update 5/14

Here's the latest ...

• Had a lovely Mother's Day with lots of love and spontaneous hugs from the three greatest kids on earth.

• Got my copyedits on THE OTHER LIFE, which is a pretty exciting step. Going through it paragraph by paragraph now.

• Reading a magnificent book right now, THE QUEEN OF PALMYRA by Minrose Gwin. I'm only about halfway through, but it's an exquisite and beautifully told story about the horrors of racism in the South in the early 1960s. Because it's told from the POV of a young girl, it's being compared to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. That's quite apt, despite that the girl's father is about as different from Atticus as a character could possibly be. Anyway, when I like a book I want to see it succeed, so it's disappointing this rich and chilling novel doesn't have a more compelling cover. Still, look past it and pick this one up. You'll thank me. (FYI, a great book club read!)

• Speaking of books, this week I was thrilled to receive an autographed copy of NOSE DOWN, EYES UP by the hilarious Merrill Markoe. More on that soon.

• Trying a new experiment over at Publishers Marketplace to see if anyone shopping for movie rights is reading that site. Here's my new page, which could use some clicks. Thanks!

• Today I'm proud to be the featured author at Sia McKye's blog, OVER COFFEE. I'd love it if you'd stop in and leave a comment.

Have a wonderful weekend! xo

Friday, May 07, 2010

Friday Update 5/7

This week went by in about five minutes. Here's the latest ...

• My kid is feeling better, so phew.

• Got a really tough scene written in FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER, which is great, but now I'm stuck in note-writing stage, trying to figure out what to do with the next two scenes. (Pacing is important to me, so while I know what needs to happen in the next big scene, I'm not ready to write it yet. If I could write chapters out of order I could just keep laying down pages, but that simply doesn't work for me.)

• Shout out to my pal Rik who helped my novel research by letting me observe a Kung Fu class and answering my many questions.

• Last Sunday was the Cantorial Concert at our temple, featuring Sol Zim. The junior choir sang a few songs and my dear daughter got a solo. Wonderful concert all around! Kudos to all.

• Finished STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova and it's still haunting me. What a quietly powerful book. This is a hell of a talented author, and I think the review from Publishers Weekly was entirely unfair. Pisses me off. Go read this book.

• Speaking of great books, Andrew Gross's RECKLESS is now on the front table of a store near you. Do check it out.

• Happy to announce that I have a winner from my mailing list promotion. Melissa from Huntington, NY won the $25 gift card in a random drawing.

• I leave you with a poem by the mischievous Dorothy Parker, entitled "Portrait of the Artist" ...

Oh, lead me to a quiet cell
Where never footfall rankles,
And bar the window passing well,
And gyve my wrists and ankles.

Oh, wrap my eyes with linen fair,
With hempen cord go bind me,
And, of your mercy, leave me there,
Nor tell them where to find me.

Oh, lock the portal as you go,
And see its bolts be double....
Come back in half an hour or so,
And I will be in trouble.

Have a lovely Mother's Day Weekend ....

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Happy Birthday George Clooney!

Born May 6 - Your Year Ahead
You can be a little more temperamental and impatient this year, which can lead to disagreements with others. However, you are also more intellectually stimulated during this period of your life, and projects that require concentration and focus will be especially rewarding. Also, social and romantic relationships are likely to be quite satisfying during this period of your life

Dear George,

Four years ago I sent you a present. It wasn't to celebrate your birthday. It was to mark the publication of my first book, SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA, a novel about three women who conspire to get a George Clooney movie filmed in their children's schoolyard.

The original title was GEORGE CLOONEY IS COMING TO APPLEWOOD, but you wouldn't give me permission to use your name.

To show there were no hard feelings, I sent you a copy of the book with the following inscription:

Dear George,
This book might just put you on the map.
You're welcome.
Ellen Meister

You never sent a thank you, but give me a call sometime. I have some ideas for how you can make it up to me.

By the way, my birthday is November 18.

Enjoy your day ...


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dorothy Parker on writers

From "The Function of the Writer," Esquire Magazine Symposium, 10/1958:

"To me, there are only two kinds of writers─those who write badly and those who write well. I believe, and it is a sad belief, that any writer, no matter what he puts down, does the best he can─oh, sure, sure, he may write what he calls dashing off something─but I tell you no matter what he writes, it is the best he can. It is the congenital curse of the writer that whatever he writes is the best he can do." ─Dorothy Parker

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hello, IRS? You got some 'splaining to do.

So the IRS sends us our tax refund minus $37, claiming we made a mistake on our return. My husband looks it over and says nope, we're right. They're wrong.

Most people would have let it go, assuming there was either an arcane bit of tax code they were missing, or just too small a sum to quibble over. But not my guy. He stands on principle.

I asked, "Do you think it's intentional? Like maybe they're trying to skim $37 off a few million returns to help trim the budget deficit?"

He laughed. "Even if they stole $37 from a million people, that's still only $37 million. Compared to the budget deficit of over a trillion dollars, that's sort of like you finding a nickel in the couch."

So he called the IRS and got someone who couldn't explain the $37 discrepancy. He got transferred to another person who couldn't figure it out. He got transferred yet again to someone who admitted the IRS had probably made a mistake, but wasn't really sure. My husband insisted on being transferred to someone who had the authority to make the decision.

By this point he had been on the phone forty-five minutes. We were all waiting for him to get off so we could go out for pizza. He finally told us to go without him. "Bring me back an eggplant parm hero," he said.

An hour-and-a-half after calling, he finally got someone who admitted the mistake and promised to send us a check for $37. My husband asked, "Is there a confirmation number you can give me so I can follow up if I don't get the check?"

"No," he was told. "If you don't get it in six weeks, just call us back."

Knowing my husband, he will.

But we'll try to time dinner a little better. Not that I mind bringing a hero home from the pizza place ... it's just that I'd rather walk in with one.