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Showing posts from July, 2015

Top 10 succulent Southern lines from Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman

Can we set the controversy aside for a moment and just enjoy what a masterful writer Harper Lee is? I devoured Go Set a Watchman in one sitting this morning with just the right balance of laughs out loud and lumps in my throat. The Southern dialogue and character sketches are incredibly rich, astonishingly well done when you think how young she was. As I read, I grabbed screenshots of one great line after another, just so I could revisit and wallow in her wordsmithery. A few of my favorites: 1) "The music instructor. He taught a course in what was wrong with Southern church music. He was from New Jersey. He said we might as well be singing 'Stick your snout under the spout where the gospel comes out' ..." 2) "A bigot. Not a big one, just an ordinary turnip-sized bigot." 3) "You've turned and tackled no less than your own tin god." [Apply as needed to swirling controversy.] 4) "If you wish to continue in darkness, that is your

Goodbye to magnificent Miss Ellie, mom of Susan G. Komen and Nancy G. Brinker

So sad to hear about the death of Miss Ellie Goodman , mom of the fabulous Goodman sisters, Susan G. Komen and Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker. It was a joy getting to know her while I was working on Nan's book, Promise Me . Miss Ellie was 90 years old then, still remarkably sharp, and one of the most authentically beautiful human beings I've ever known.  Tough and direct, she'd seen her share of heartbreak, but there was not whiff of bitterness about her. She was joyful, generous and quick-witted, but also deeply pragmatic and very smart. Once you meet Miss Ellie in the pages of the book, you quickly understand why Suzy and Nancy grew up with a deeply ingrained sense of service to others and an unbreakable bond with one another. From Promise Me : Mom was beautiful and stylish, making the most of everything, even when there was little money to work with. Aunt Rose passed along an evening dress with a beautifully crafted pearl and rhinestone collar. The fancy gown w

Initial thoughts having just devoured Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

I loved it, for starters. I think what the book says about life and racism is profound, and what it says about the publishing industry is a serious kick in the head. I came in skeptical, but I loved this novel for exactly what it is: a brilliantly written, beautiful southern novel about a young woman who discovers her father is not a god. And I'm angry that some pompous, patriarchal publisher back in the day squashed it and told her to instead write a brilliantly written, beautiful southern novel about a young woman who discovers her father is a god. WATCHMAN is about growing up, "killing the Buddha" and laying claim to one's own world view. It's about the danger of holding on to our innocence for too long, and the author brings that meaning boldly home with a simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking parable about how her ignorance about the facts of life almost results in her untimely death. I can certainly believe the story that this is Harper Lee'

Listen to Reese Witherspoon read the first chapter of Go Set a Watchman

In anticipation of the release of Harper Lee's new (kind of) novel, Go Set a Watchman , Guardian serves up  this nifty ambient-train-sound-optional audio chapter . “Tired of New York?” he said. “No.” “Give me a free hand for these two weeks and I’ll make you tired of it.” “Is that an improper suggestion?” “Yes.” “Go to hell, then.”

“This has to be a breach in the time space continuum. No...

“This has to be a breach in the time space continuum. No way could he grow up this quickly.” (Happy Birthday, Malachi!) via Tumblr

Mrs. Grey will see you now (3 things I learned coming out of the hair color closet)

Continuing the extended metaphor I began back in 2011 with this post on My Publishing Career as Illustrated by My Hair , in which I detailed a circuitous journey that began in the 1970s. Back then, a slow-to-blossom tweenage flower child, I was ironing my hair straight and selling erotic short stories in the girls' bathroom at the local roller rink. My long auburn locks disappeared during chemo when I was in my early 30s. For ten years, I kept my hair super short and colored it various shades of red in an attempt to ward off the bad cancer juju. During my 40s, I let it grow, gave up on the auburn and went with an ash blond that made the increasingly ashy roots less noticeable. When I hit my 50s, I decided to stop coloring my hair and embrace my grey. That was easier said than done, but here I am, and along the way, I learned three important lessons, which I intend to apply to life and writing as I enjoy my hard-earned silver era. Thing #1:  It's a process. Whatever &q

Goodbye with enormous gratitude to my friend and editor Marjorie Braman

Stunned and sad to see this news today: "Marjorie Braman , 60, died July 2 at her home in Taghkanic, NY of complications from breast cancer. She began her 26 years in publishing as an editorial assistant and worked her way up to svp, publishing director at HarperCollins and then vp, editor-in-chief at Henry Holt. She has worked as a consultant at Open Road Integrated Media. Authors she worked with include Elmore Leonard, Michael Crichton and Sena Jeter Naslund. Most recently Braman worked as an independent editor and was a member of the independent editors' group 5e..." It's an understatement to say that Marjorie changed my life. She acquired my memoir Bald in the Land of Big Hair for HarperCollins in 2001, my doorway to what was then The Big 6 and my first crack at the bestseller lists. While it was in the pipeline, she encouraged me to start a syndicated newspaper column and, even though it was way outside her job description, provided feedback and advice that

"Artists lead. Hacks ask for a show of hands." (A blast from the past and peek at the new #SteveJobsmovie)

When a ghostwriter friend mentioned she was suffering from increasing pain in her hands (hazard of the profession), I told her, "I just posted something about that on BoxOcto last year." When I searched it out, my mind was blown a bit. It was actually posted in October of 2012. Here's the post , followed by an update: Gary sprained his hand last night at work, and it's swollen up like one of those old fashioned baseball mitts. For years I've always kept bags of frozen peas specifically for the purpose of icing my aching wrists, fingers and hands after hours of typing. I got one out, and it was frosted solid. I suddenly realized I haven't had to ice my hands since last Christmas when Gary gave me a MacBook Air. I'm not one of those rabid Apple heads, but this was a profound improvement in my quality of life. There are times when my ghostwriting schedule forces me to crank out 3K words a day (and if you're a writer, you know that 3K good words mean