At the request of a few friends, I posted daily entries from July 22 until August 10.

These were the 10 days leading up to the release of SUSPENSION and the 10 days following. 

 
July 22nd, 2006

 

All right.  So I didn’t think I would be doing this kind of blog where I get all personal and provide way too many details of my day-to-day life, but I was told this would be a good time to do it.  I could always delete these pages later since I know the password to my editing software.  But I will NOT go on and on about what I ate or how many cups of coffee I drank like some other self-absorbed bloggers I can mention..

 

This morning, I had breakfast at Angela’s, a diner around the corner, drinking four cups of coffee and reading the end of a great novel.  It’s called Suspension.  It comes out on August 1.  Isn't that the name of your book?  Why in the world would you read your own book?  A good question with four answers:

 

1—To remember what draft we ended up with.  For instance, I’d forgotten I removed a paragraph from Chapter Eight that led into one of the last paragraphs in Chapter Eleven.  Chewing my sausage, egg and cheese on a roll, I tried to find that deleted paragraph, but decided anyone paying attention will grasp the significance of that paragraph without the lead-in.  It was a good choice to remove it; I'm glad I made it...back in November.

 

2—To prepare for interviews about the novel.  There's one on Monday.  I haven’t read straight through the book for about six months, and if they mention a character’s name, I don’t want to say, “Who?”

 

3—To make sure no one screwed it up.  I had a few nightmares last week that a page had been deleted or a paragraph switched with another one or some horrible mistake that would force a reprint and a delay in the release and…I’m sweating on my keypad just thinking about it.  I’m thrilled to say it’s all there.  I had also made about 150 changes in the first pass—not really understanding what the first pass was and that writers aren’t supposed to make 150 changes to it—and since they wouldn’t let me see the second pass (can you blame them?) I was afraid the changes weren’t made.  I’m happy to report that out of 150 changes to be made, only three were not.  They’re small, irrelevant, noticeable only to the writer.  There’s one unapproved alteration that runs counter to a stylistic rule I held the narrator to for the entire duration of writing and revising this book.  Again, no one will catch this, and the fact that it’s there just makes me laugh.

 

4—Finally, I wanted to read my own book.  To make it official.  Like a christening.  Hiding the author photo so people on the subway wouldn’t think I was a freak, I read my book on the train as I’ve read so many other books; I read my book in bed as I’ve read so many other books; and I read my book at mealtime, spilling sauce on its pages as I’ve spilled sauce on so many other pages.

After stopping in Frank's to buy an iced coffee (with milk, not too much ice), I brought the book home and found its proper place on the appropriate book shelf, sliding the Westfield between Welty and Wharton.  Not shabby neighbors.  On the other side of Wharton are Wodehouse, Wolfe, Wolff, Woolf, and Yourcenar.  Now that I think about it, an intimidating shelf.  Kind of wish I was hanging out on the shelf above.  A nice coincidence though:  my book is next to The House of Mirth, the novel I read the week before I sold Suspension.

 

I spent the rest of the morning working on a scene in my next book.  Then I ate lunch—a sandwich of Virginia ham, Swiss cheese, and a new sun-dried tomato mayonnaise (the jury’s still out), a peach, and some cherries—while reading the first several pages of Ken Kalfus’s new novel, A Disorder Peculiar to the Country.  After lunch, I signed a contract and filled out some paperwork for a reading I’ve been invited to give back in southern Maryland in November, renewed my membership to MoMA, bought some theater tickets for next Sunday, did a little preparation for Monday’s interview, approved some copy on a marketing thingamajig and wrote this blog entry, which brings me to the end of this sentence.

 

Now it’s time to take the A downtown and go for a swim.

 

July 23rd, 2006

 

I woke up, tired and confused, to news on NPR of Hezbollah rockets landing in Haifa and Israeli troops massing at the border of Lebanon.  This was followed by mention of the tens of thousands of people in Queens still without electricity and then, in the midst of all this horror and discomfort, came Will Shortz (this is Weekend Edition) with his word games:  “Take a common household appliance, change the second vowel to a consonant, switch the last two letters and you have a common household cleaner.  What is it?"  “What?  Leave me alone."  It was Sunday, it was raining, so I spent the morning doing the laundry and consolidating all the loose leaf paper, index cards, and post-it note reminders into this week’s to-do list.  Afterwards I discovered that, because I was groggy, I hadn’t checked all the pockets in all my shorts before starting the wash.  (This time of year I wear shorts with multiple pockets so that I can carry books, journals, pens, my camera, my phone, and, when touring, itineraries, MetroCards, and tickets.  [Not a GQ look but my hands are free and I don’t have to lug around a bag.])  Today, sadly, a blue pen made it into both the washing machine and dryer along with the rest of my laundry.  Since the shorts were permanently stained, I thought I would at least wear them around the house, not realizing that the stain was still wet.  I smeared ink on the couch and a chair at the table.  Fortunately, the ink spilled metaphorically as well and I had four very productive hours working on a scene in my next novel.  After that spurt of productivity, I answered and returned several phone calls and emails.  I’ve been tracking down friends over the past few months and have had several interesting catch-up conversations:  “I’m married now;” “We have three kids;” “I had my gall bladder removed;” “He just got back from Iraq;” “I’m starring in a new sitcom on Fox.”  By the late afternoon, the rain had stopped, the heat wave had broken, and I went for a walk in the neighborhood with a couple friends.  The Hudson was shimmering, glassy in the light as the sun poked through thick clouds, and the George Washington Bridge looked spectacular.  I do love suspension bridges.  (Trivia:  In 1962, the George Washington became the world's only fourteen-lane suspension bridge with the addition of a second deck.  So as not to disrupt the traffic on the upper deck, the lower deck was built from below and consequently nicknamed the Martha Washington.)

 

July 24th, 2006

 

First of all, some of you--stop trying to figure out that Will Shortz puzzle.  I made it up.  It was just an example.  I apologize for the wasted time, paper and ink.  (And speaking of ink:  During breakfast this morning, one of my pens lost its cap and my clean, new pair of shorts now has a giant blue spot.  Ridiculous.  I seriously have to restrategize how I carry my pens.  Perhaps there's such a concept as too many pockets.)

Today I had my first interview for Suspension.  It was conducted by Diane Gilleland for the Harper Perennial podcast at HarperCollins.com.  (It will be available for downloading in early August.)  I always prefer interviews in person so that I can look into someone's eyes and focus on something that won't distract me; however Diane lives in Portland and since I couldn't find a convenient non-stop direct flight, I picked up the phone when she called at 2:00.  I told Diane that I was sitting in a rental car outside her house and she laughed...after a slight pause.  She was very nice and we had a brief chat about the "wonderful story" before she turned on the recording equipment.  Her questions were smart, deliberately crafted so as not to give away any of the plot but providing lots of room to discuss subject matter, style, and life outside the book.  My answers were stupid, all over the place, and inarticulate. I had chosen a spot in my apartment where I could look at my legal pad and through my "thinking window," but one of my cats kept jumping up on my notes and I kept letting myself chase whatever new reply suddenly popped into my head.  Truthfully, most of the answers were lucid and thoughtful.  It was mainly the first answer which was all over the place.  I was hemming and hawing and losing concentration, but I warmed up to the game of it and think it will ultimately be a great podcast.  Thankfully, she'll edit five minutes out and include music and readings of selections from the book.  I did ask afterwards if she wanted me to rerecord that first answer, but she said she was happy and that there were lots of wonderful material.  I again offered--"Well, while you're editing, if you think one of the answers might be better rerecorded, know that I'm available."  She again said it wouldn't be necessary.  She thanked me, I thanked her, she wished me good luck, and I thought:  "Good luck editing that first answer."  Then I sat down to respond to e-mails.

An hour later, this is part of the conversation I had with myself:

--Maybe I should call her back and ask to rerecord that first answer?

--But she already told you she was going to edit the interview.

--Well, yes, but what kind of software would let you edit that first answer? 

--It's fine.

--I'll just send an e-mail.

--Oh, please, please don't be crazy!

--Offended silence...and then:  Well, what do you expect me to do?

--You can go to the gym and then to the post office.  You need stamps.

A compelling argument.  So I did just that and then attended a going-away party for two Vermont-bound friends at Victor's, a Cuban restaurant on 52nd St., which has the best mojitos (a drink I frequently order in the summertime and then instantly regret..."I don't like mojitos.  Why do I keep ordering them?") and white and red sangria.  Because of these drinks, I am writing this entry NOT on the 24th which the dateline might have you believe but on the morning of the 25th.  (Striving to keep this blog honest.)

Happy July 24th Birthdays to Dad and to Colleen Quinlan!!

July 25th, 2006

 

Here are some thoughts I had while I browsed through my page at HarperCollins.com...click here to open.  The first thing you'll notice is that the cover is not the cover of my book (unless they've corrected it).  The title box is transparent, ghostly, you can see the tangle of lines below and it's difficult to read the title and author's name.  This is also the image, unfortunately, that you will find any time you locate a visual of my book anywhere on the Internet...except for Amazon.com.  This was never the cover, the title box was always solid, but I think the box was made transparent during a brief time as the lines were being redrawn, and in that moment, the pdf or jpeg (or whatever) was sent out onto the World Wide Web.  I brought it to their attention and, a couple weeks ago, the proper image was sent to Amazon and posted on my HarperCollins page.  Two days later, however, HarperCollins.com was redesigned and when my page was uploaded, that phantom title box was back.  I've talked to other writers who say at least it's the general look of the correct cover, that I should count myself lucky because they find ancient, rejected covers of their books on sites all over the world.

Along the same lines, I've found old marketing tags, which I thought had been erased, being used to promote upcoming events.  This is how it works:  a summary needs to be quickly drafted for something in-house--for the catalog or a sales meeting; you write it without thinking too hard about it or you approve someone else's draft, even if it's not entirely accurate or doesn't set the proper tone--it's not going to be the official jacket copy and it's for a different audience anyway (the buyers, not the general readership).  Over the months, you write or approve other drafts until you come to the final jacket copy and think that this will replace all previous synopses.  You are wrong.  It is just one of several versions, all of which are being used by different people for different purposes, wrapped up in different icons that are clicked and attached to emails sent by different departments to satisfy different requests from different markets.  As a reader, it's why you sometimes finish a book and then look at a summary and say, "But that never happened in this novel."  If you're lucky, as I've been, more often than not the proper copy is circulated, but occasionally there's a reference to axe-murderers and a spectacular chase across the Brooklyn Bridge...neither of which are in your book.  But you're a writer, what do you know?  Perhaps more people will buy the book if they think it's full of axe-murderers and chases.  Let it go, let it go.

On my page at HarperCollins, you'll see "Reader Reviews from FirstLook."  I just found this today.  I hit VIEW MORE and suddenly there were eleven mini reviews written by people from PA, NV, NY, NJ, IN, CA, OH, and MI.  (They are part of the First Look program in which people sign up for a contest and win advance copies of books a couple months before they're published.  If you enjoy the book, you can send in a review which they might or might not post.)  I can honestly say that I wanted to buy airline tickets to all of these states and personally hug each and every one of these readers.  It's still very strange for me to read reviews or summaries of Suspension by people I don't know.  I'm aware that in the world of publishing, books are read in large part by people who don't know the author (hopefully), and I'm sure I'll get used to it soon.  But whenever I read someone writing about Suspension and they mention "Andy Green" or "Sonia," there's a part of me thinking--"Hey, I wrote a book with Andy Green and Sonia."  There's also a part of me that just assumes that the people who will be buying my book are people whom I've met before.  (Fortunately, that's a large number, I've given tours to about thirty thousand people and if each of them buys a copy, I'll be on the way.)  In the theater, it was different.  I often sat with my audiences, we were sharing the same space and time, and if I wasn't there, I knew when the show was performing and I was there in spirit.  But to think that as I'm rolling out of bed or brushing my teeth or working on a new scene or writing this entry that someone in their kitchen in Arizona (or on a beach in Bermuda or on a plane in India or in a waiting room at a doctor's office) is reading my book and laughing or crying or hurling it across the room:  amazing. Obvious but nonetheless amazing.

 

July 26th, 2006

 

This afternoon I went to an acting class.  I’ve attended so many readings where the author reads their rich, elegant prose in a dead drone or delivers each sentence as if it were the most precious masterpiece written in the course of literary history, and I’ve always been surprised.  Is this what they hear in their heads?  Can’t be, can't be.  It just isn’t translating to their tongue.

 

I’ve always wanted to give a different kind of performance.  So today, I met with Peter Flynn, one of my closest friends and favorite directors.  He had read Suspension a couple years ago, offering advice that led to the draft I sold a few months later.  He’s someone I trust completely.  Having worked together on my plays, we have an immediate understanding of what we each mean before we finish our sentences.  His two-year-old, Hudson, joined us in the living room.  Hudson found it strange that a person in a picture on the back of a book was sitting on his couch.  I find it strange myself.

 

The first task that Peter, Hudson, and I set ourselves was to figure out what to read from the book.  To avoid giving away any of the surprises or having to spend too much time giving background, we kept ourselves to the first three chapters, starting with seven passages and cutting them down to three.  We wanted to give the audiences a taste of the book by introducing them to the different tones and to several of the characters.  We also chose the scenes that I seemed to have the most fun reading and which didn’t require too much for the listener sitting in a (hopefully) crowded room in August.  The prologue, for example, while an obvious choice since it opens the book, is a seven page multi-layered section establishing the entire novel, a (hopefully) great passage to read but perhaps difficult to listen to.  A great actor could pull it off, but for my first few readings, I decided to stick to the easier scenes.

 

As soon as my performance began, Hudson stormed out of the room.  (Actually, he had a playground appointment.)  But I was unfazed.  Peter has a great laugh which egged me on and he successfully reminded me of subtext which had I used in writing the scenes but was forgetting now that I was reading them.  He also put me at ease with one concern I had:  performing one of the scenes with Andy and Sonia is important, but to do so I’d have to practice my Russian and if I got nervous in front of a crowd, my Russian accent might turn into my Irish brogue.  Peter told me not to worry and reminded me that Andy was telling the story and Andy’s “Russian” would be more Boris and Natasha and less Streep and Duvall.  Completely true.

 

I need to get to bed, so I'll end with a few tips I’ve been given by Peter and other writers:

DURING A READING

1—Don’t drink out of a water bottle.  There’s something distracting about it.  Bring a cup.

2—Make eye contact, look up, bond with the audience.  (This is where that tour guide training should come in handy.)

3—If it feels like you’re reading too slowly, you’re reading at the correct pace.  (Very important for this speed talker.)

4—Don’t deprive the audience of YOUR take on your book.  It’s why they’re there.

5—I can’t remember the last one, but I hope to by August 7th.

 

UPCOMING READINGS/PERFORMANCES

August 7—New York City, Barnes and Noble, Astor Place, 7:00

August 22—Los Angeles, Barnes and Noble, The Grove, 7:30

August 24—San Francisco, Books Inc., Market Street, 7:30

 

July 27th, 2006

 

What did I do today?  Emails.  Emails, emails and more emails.  Hours and hours of emails and writing, revising and attaching documents and beginning to feel a little crazy, five days before the book's release.  (I think the books left the warehouse today or yesterday to make their way to the stores.) Writer friends told me I would feel disoriented at times, but I assured them I wasn't as neurotic as they were.  Oops.  Emails, emails and more emails. Part of what was making me nuts was really not knowing what to expect in the coming weeks...a sensation of vulnerability, of not being in control...not surprising since that feeling is at the core of the novel I wrote.  Emails, emails, and more emails.   Why was I so hungry?  Oh, I hadn’t eaten for eight hours and it was almost 3.  I hit send, closed the laptop and escaped the apartment.  I rushed to Frank’s, saw Martin Moran who blurbed my book and gave me words of encouragement as I bought some sushi.  I then rushed out of Frank's (Martin Moran, by the way, gave me words of encouragement about the week, not about buying sushi), forgot the chopsticks, didn’t care, ate the rolls with my fingers, licked off the soy sauce and was soon typing emails.

 

At 3:45, I stopped.  I packed my bag and headed downtown where I went for a much-needed and very refreshing 5-mile swim.  (Of course, I don’t know how far I swam.  I always swim for thirty minutes and then make up the distance using my own mathematical formula.)  However far I swam, I felt less anxious afterwards.  I walked through Times Square to St. Andrews Pub on 44th, where I met two of my closest friends, Laura and Chris, who have been supporters of mine through thick and thin. Laura was one of the actors in my senior-thesis play at Columbia and has been listening to me go on and on about my writing aspirations for twelve years.  They were taking me out because they were leaving for a week in Vermont and wouldn’t be around to celebrate the release. They were looking forward to their advance copy of the book, but I still hadn’t received my box of 30, and I could see their disappointment.  They had both been looking forward to reading Suspension on their vacation...and now, frankly, their vacation was completely ruined, their summer a disaster.  I couldn’t stand to see them so distraught, their tears dripping into the mustard for the soft pretzels, so I opened my own copy, took my pen from ink-stained shorts and signed it away.

 

July 28th, 2006

 

Today was the day I've been waiting for since 1985.  The moment itself came at 5pm.  The day had started off right--learning from my publicist that Suspension received a great review in the upcoming August 4 issue of Entertainment Weekly.  (I would post it here, but I'm assuming there's copyright issues and I should at least let the magazine hit the newsstand before I infringe upon them.  I can tell you the book scored a B+.  As a student (and recovering GPA whore), I would have argued that up to at least an A-, but I'll happily take a B+ from EW.) 

So I have to give some background.  In 1985 I saw a movie.  I can't recall the name.  Let's say it was something by Fellini or part of the French New Wave.  At the end of this movie, the hero has come back to the future and he finds his family much healthier and more successful than when he left them in a time machine made out of a DeLorean.  Most people won't remember this tiny moment, but it became my favorite ten seconds of the movie:  the father gets a delivery of a box.  And in that box are author copies of his book sent to him by his publisher.  Could you imagine?!  Is that what they do?  They send you an entire box full of your book?  Well, that has to be one of the greatest moments life has to offer.  Really. 

 

What could this be? Books!!
Maybe I'll stack them this way. No, they should be lined up like this.

 

So, back to the present:  it's 2006.  The humidity is beginning to invade the entire apartment.  I'm done writing for the day, so I lay down on my bed, with the fan on high, the phones off.  I begin to drift into a nice nap when there's a loud buzz at my door.  I don't panic, I don't curse.  I know exactly what it is, and I roll off the bed and sprint to the door.  Sure enough:  UPS!  Never have I been happier to see that shade of brown.

Robert:  This is my favorite package of all time.

UPS:  Yeah.

Robert:  Absolute favorite.

UPS:  Sign here.

Robert:  Gladly!  Thank you so much.

UPS:  You're welcome.

Robert:  So fantastic.

(The UPS man has left.)

Robert:  So fantastic.

The box has the HarperCollins logo on the side and it was shipped from a warehouse in La Porte, Indiana.  I place it down, breathe deeply, remember myself as a kid watching that movie, wondering where I would be when I one day received my box of books.  And I think of how much I love books and always have, what it means to me to open to a first page.  I think of my mother reading books to me, of teaching me to read and of listening as I later read books to her.  I remember a Christmas in eighth-grade--I had handed out a list of three hundred classics I wished for--and my father gave me a gift-wrapped stack of ten of them...to this day, my favorite present.  I think of all the bookstores around the world I've scoured, all the collections I've pillaged, libraries I've searched through.  I think of all the books I've held, caressed, smelled, purchased, read, marked with notes, shelved and organized and packed and moved and reordered and given away and received and loaned out and loved.  And then I rip that box open!!

 

Wait a second.  I already HAVE this book. This is what they look like spread out all over the table.  They should do this at the stores.
They almost take up the whole shelf. Oo, I like this arrangement a lot.

 

So worth the wait.

 

 

I hope the people at the stores have as much fun as I do shelving this book. Higher!  Higher!  Higher!

 

July 29th and 30th, 2006

 

This weekend was hot and humid and I decided to take a two-day vacation.

Saturday--I woke up early, took the train downtown and hurried to Pier 11, just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, to meet the day's first ferry taking New Yorkers with their bicycles and beach bags out to the Jersey Shore.  My friend and neighbor, Nona Lloyd, is dogsitting in a beautiful house in Asbury Park for two weeks and invited me out for some much-needed beach time.  I swam, played in the waves, was pulled out by the undertow and then reprimanded by the whistle of the lifeguard.  ("Hey, what happened to Robert?"  "Oh, he drowned in the Atlantic the weekend before his book came out.")  I bodysurfed a wave in, read some of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro while sitting mostly under the umbrella (my right arm has been burnt to a crisp), talked about what we were going to have for dinner (Nona's a gourmet cook, though we ended up just sitting on the deck out back drinking red wine and eating cold pizza), headed back to the house, had an outdoor Pilates class with the amazing Luis Villabon, also an upstairs neighbor out for the weekend, and just relaxed.  Niiiice.

Sunday--The return trip on the ferry is one of the most dramatic rides in New York.  You speed through the Lower Bay towards the Narrows opening between Brooklyn and Staten Island and soon you're passing beneath the longest span suspension bridge in the US and into the grandest natural harbor in the Atlantic Ocean.  From this perspective, you're overwhelmed by the enormous amount of water, the countless islands, and skyscrapers growing out of the horizon, not to mention one of the world's most famous statues greeting your arrival.   It's hard not to imagine Hudson or Verazzano, the immigrants bound for Ellis Island or the soldiers returning from war in Europe.  Within an hour of pretending to be an explorer coming "face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder," I was home, cleaning the toilet and scrubbing the tub.  This had to be done eventually.  In the afternoon, my aunt arrived.  She's in town for a few days to help me run errands and to share in the celebration.  We had a late lunch and then went to PS 122 in the East Village to see Orange, Lemon, Egg, Canary, the newest collaboration by Rinne Groff and Michael Sexton, two theater professionals who never fail to inspire and to restore my faith in what theater can be and do.  Niiiice.

 

July 31st, 2006

 

Today Jeff Yamaguchi, my online point man at HarperCollins, sent an email telling me he loved the blog but to ADD MORE LINKS!!!!  A linkless Web site is an island unto itself, and he reminded me that we want this one to connect with as many people and groups as possible to take full advantage of what the Internet has to offer.  MORE LINKS!!

 

So this is my last day as an unpublished writer.  I'm feeling a bit more nervous than I thought I would, but for the most part enjoying the swirl.  My aunt and I left the building late this morning.  First stop:  a midtown post office, where we mailed off ten author copies using one of those computerized do-it-yourself machines.  Very quick, very efficient...a flurry of hands and fingers, zip codes and adhesive labels.   For more information on all the United States Post Office has to offer, CLICK HERE.  You never know, could be interesting…

 

Then we had lunch a block away at one of my favorite restaurants, Vice Versa.  This is the restaurant acknowledged in my book as one of the places where I worked on my novel, and it's also where I had lunch the day I signed my contract.  If you go, order the casoncelli, a one-of-a-kind pasta dish from the chef’s hometown in Northern Italy…a ravioli with veal, pancetta and crushed amaretto cookies...conversation abruptly stops.

 

After lunch, we braved the heat and went shopping for clothes for my reading and release party tomorrow.  Unfortunately, both of us hate shopping.  We went to five stores on Fifth Avenue.

Robert (at the first store):  Okay, so I'm looking for sandals, a pair of pants and two shirts.

Robert (at the second store):  Maybe we should just focus on pants and shirts.  Forget shoes.

Robert (at the third store):  What about just two nice shirts?

Robert (at the fourth store):  One shirt, I'll be happy with one shirt.

Robert (at the fifth store):  Hey, why don't we go to MoMA?  There's a Dada exhibit.

Which is what we did.  (Tonight we just went through my closet and settled on clothes for the party.  It’s supposed feel like 110 degrees tomorrow…I wanted to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but my aunt put her foot down.)

 

A funny moment from MoMA.  (Oops, real quick, a link:  MoMA.)  My aunt has started watching reruns of Sex and the City and can’t remember the names of the women, so she’s been saying things like, “That tramp is really amazing.”  “She’s fantastic, you know, the one who plays the slut.”  So there we are today in different parts of the Dada exhibit.  I’m studying an Ernst painting when who should appear but Kim Cattrall and her boyfriend.  I look around for my aunt.  Nowhere.  I follow Cattrall for a few minutes just to make sure it's she...it is.  I track down my aunt.  Suddenly, because she can't remember the actresses' names, I blank myself and say loudly enough to turn a couple heads, “Susan, quick!  Go back to where we got our headsets.  The slut’s in the gift shop!” 

 

After that, we found an Internet café, and I answered emails.  I left Susan there reading my book (she was laughing out loud, which is a good sign) and went for a ten-mile swim (or however much distance I covered in thirty minutes).  On the subway, (MORE LINKS!!!  Check out the MTA!) I read Ishiguro while Susan read Westfield.  I had to keep reminding her to hold the book up.  "Make sure the commuters see the cover.  Tomorrow this book goes on sale."

Wow.  Tomorrow this book goes on sale! 

 

AUGUST 1ST, 2006!!!  SUSPENSION IS OFFICIALLY ON SALE!!!  AT LAST!!!

 

It's time to answer some questions people have been sending.

How did you spend your first day as a published author?

Drunk in a gutter.

Kidding, of course.

I woke up around 5:30 and took a shower.  The news on the radio was all about the drop in consumer spending (a fantastic thing to hear the day your book goes on sale), more horrific war in the Middle East, and warnings of an intense heat wave hitting the city.  I closed the blinds to keep the sun out and sat down at my computer.  I sent out several emails to different groups of contacts reminding them (how could anyone forget?) that my book was officially on sale.  I wanted to be done with these reminders before the replies began, and I was finished before nine, by which point the inbox was ringing every few minutes with much appreciated messages of congratulations.  Thank you, everyone.  August 1st trivia:  The first person to send their best was the lovely Dodie Morris of Hyde Park, Texas, who was checking her email extremely early.  "Tom, tell Dodie what she's won!"  "Well, Robert, Dodie Morris has won...A NEW CAR!!"  (Wouldn't it be great if robertwestfield.com gave away new cars?)

The rest of the morning and afternoon seemed to float by (or I floated through it).  I remember talking with my aunt who was staying upstairs in my friend's empty apartment (thanks, Nona) and came down periodically to talk about my book.  We had lunch at the Indian restaurant across the street.  I took a nap, interrupted by a phone call from Marc Wolf, saying that he was in the Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Square where there were a dozen copies of Suspension on the shelf.  (Note of interest:  in 1995 or 1996, I worked as a waiter for the caterer celebrating the opening of the Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Square.  I carried trays of hors d'oeuvres and bottles of wine for hours and hours, so it was a nice to hear, a decade later, that in a sense I'm still working there but not in a polyester tuxedo.) 

At 5:00, the car service arrived and drove us downtown for the release/launch party held at AVEvenue on 28th Street between Broadway and Fifth.  It's a great loft space just south of the Empire State Building.  (For pictures of the space and information on the kind of parties thrown by the talented, Ally Lipton, CLICK HERE.)  I have a sense of spinning around the entire evening to talk to different people, a small crowd of friends and family and Harper Perennialians who have all helped make this book the beautiful reality it is.  Afterwards, an intimate group took cabs to Etcetera, Etcetera, (the sister restaurant of Vice Versa, mentioned in yesterday's entry) on 44th for dinner.  (I think I'd only been able to eat a piece of cheese at the party.)   One of the owners, Daniele Kucera, set one of the blow-ups of the cover against the wall and poured us all champagne.  At this rate, I was going to end up in the gutter.  But soon the pasta arrived and all was good.  Back uptown, my aunt told me I would be up for hours, but though I was perfectly happy, within five minutes, I was also perfectly asleep.

Where do we find your book?

Well, there are a dozen at the Barnes and Noble at Lincoln Square.  The book should be at most major retail stores, though it will vary from region to region.  In the store it will probably be placed in NEW FICTION or NEW PAPERBACKS.  Hopefully, in time, you'll also find it under "STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS."  It will be on a lower shelf probably, because of the whole alphabetical order of things.  (Eastfield would have been a good decision.)  It probably won't be on one of the front tables, because, believe it or not, that real estate is paid for.  It's some complicated deal wherein the publisher gives up a percentage of their profit to the bookstore for placement or some such thing.  (Which is a deal that should definitely be respected, and I certainly wouldn't want any of my readers to move books around a store to a more prominent location.  That would be horrible.  "What would happen to them, Tom, if they did such a thing?"  "Well, Robert...they'd win a NEW CAR!!")

What do we do if we can't find your book?

You should ask someone who works in the store.  The book might still be in storage as Al Sics learned at a store in New Jersey.  The book might also still be on the way as Bob Hamm discovered at a store in San Diego where he was told it wouldn't be in stock until August 10th.  (The on sale date is the date when stores are permitted to place the book on the shelf or when online stores are permitted to deliver the book.  It's done this way to give everyone a fair shot at selling the book...the date is much more important for a Harry Potter book or a book of topical non-fiction that will fly off the shelf.)  The books leave the publisher's warehouse a week or so before the on sale date, and, in some cases, have to travel to other warehouses before they finally arrive at your local bookstore.  The book might also not even be ordered by your local store (horror of horrors) as Jamie Baker learned in a small town community in Oregon.  Feel free to go online or ask the local bookstore to order the book for you (let them know how important that book is and suggest ordering a few copies for themselves.)  Better yet, everyone, as soon as you enter any store, shout so that all the fellow customers can hear you, "WHERE'S THAT NEW ROBERT WESTFIELD BOOK?"

Is your book also in hardcover?

No.  When I sold the book, I sold it to Fourth Estate at HarperCollins and it was a hardcover contract, but midway through revisions, Fourth Estate vanished and Suspension was inherited by Harper Perennial, a trade paperback imprint which has been around for a while (older Perennial books I own include the works of Milan Kundera, One Hundred Years of Solitude, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) but recently began publishing brand-new titles and even introducing brand-new writers (the newest Perennial book is Suspension by Robert Westfield).  It's a fantastic imprint with the olive logo (I assume it's an olive) and they created the PS--the supplementary section in the backs of their books.  I think it's also, and I may be biased, where all the cool kids are.

 

August 2nd, 2006

 

Today was the day I saw my first books in a store.  The location was the Barnes and Noble on 48th and Fifth.

Can you spot it? At home I'm between Welty and Wharton; here I'm between Weiner and Wingate.
Come and get it! This is how I arranged the books at home a week earlier.

Then, still in the midst of the heat wave, I had to go shopping for clothes.  The incomparable Sarah Gippin met me in SoHo.  Her first words were, "God, it's hot."  But then she said, "Okay.  Let's go!"  That's the kind of motivation I need when looking for clothes.  Two days ago, while my aunt and I were shopping, we suddenly decided to give up and go to the MoMA.  While walking through Prada (Sarah insisted there could be a sale), I kept thinking, "Remember when this used to be a Guggenheim?  I could really go for a museum right now."  We walked in and out of about six stores, Sarah glancing over the inventory before saying, "No."  All I wanted was a frickin' shirt.  Why does it have to be so hard?   Outside of Bloomingdale's (the SoHo store...we didn't walk that far), Sarah held up her index finger and cried, "Aa!  I know exactly where we should go!"  I followed half a step behind as she was somehow magically drawn to the memory of a shop...like a homing pigeon...to Ted Baker, a London designer, with a store on Grand Street.  And it was here we found the perfect shirt.  But then Sarah Gippin said we needed to buy pants to go with the shirt.  "Ugh.  I'm not wearing pants at the reading.  There's a podium."  She ignored me.  The next thing I knew we were in another store, and Sarah Gippin was undoing the fly of a mannequin, saying something about needing those pants.  She went off to find a manager, leaving me with a well-dressed mannequin whose jeans were falling down.  Stripping mannequins in SoHo is what happens when you spend an afternoon with Sarah Gippin; it's a kind of training for when you spend the evening with her.  Anyway, within minutes, I had my clothes for the reading.  I was euphoric, but then Sarah twirled her hair and asked, "Now what are we doing for shoes?"  I blacked out. 

 

August 3rd, 2006

 

August 3rd was much like July 28th...both were Thursdays spent answering emails for twenty-three hours...the other hour spent on the phone.  Good news to hear that though the Barnes and Noble in Fairfax, Virginia did not have my book, the Borders in Fairfax, Virginia had four copies.  Good to hear that the Lincoln Square Barnes and Noble, which started Tuesday with twelve copies was down to three forty-eight hours later.  (Dan Brown would slit his wrists at such lethargic movement of merchandise, but nine copies in two days...I'll take it.)  Good to hear that Doug Nervik was able to get a copy at a Borders in upstate NY (Route 9) even though it was in storage in the back.  Great to hear that one of my favorite stores in New York--Three Lives--had three copies.  (They'd ordered more but some of the books came damaged and she had to return them...more on the way.)  Sad to hear that my parents got all dolled up on Tuesday to buy the book at their local Barnes and Noble in Myrtle Beach and found no book at all.  They bought ice cream instead.  (Their copy inscribed by their son arrived in the mail yesterday.) 

"Links!"  Jeff Yamaguchi shouts.  "MORE LINKS!!"

Okay, my aunt, who left yesterday and made quite an impression on those who met her, is indeed a fascinating woman.  It was good to have her here during this time, because she's one of the people in my life who can simultaneously lift me up and keep me grounded.  She is the Executive Director of the Wheeling Symphony and lived in Benin for the Peace Corps in the late 80's.  She has been contributing to an experiment in Internet journalism in the Ohio Valley.  For her inspiring bio and diverse writings on falconry, Africa, and a symphony tour through Coal Country, click here.

Many have asked who designed my user-friendly Web site.  That would be the great Bruce Racond.  For more information on Snoring Dog Productions, CLICK HERE.  His new site has a talking dog!  Can't miss that.

 

August 4th, 2006

 

Three of my best friends (Robb, Trish and their two-year-old, Emme) left New York today for a vacation before starting  a new life in Minneapolis.  The good news is that I'll be visiting Minneapolis in the next few months; the bad news is that Emme and I can't go to the playground and run through the fountains anymore.  Sad.  We had breakfast and then strolled through the Village.  We stopped at one of my favorite stores, Three Lives, and saw my novel there.  I showed Emme the author photo and she squealed, "That's you!"  And then her favorite question:  " What you doing?"

 

Emerson Jane McKindles and Hudson Rafael Flynn Pointing at my book on the table at Three Lives.
Emerson  (looking at the photo):  "That's you!  What you doing?" Smiling for the camera...Leaving Big Apple for Mini-Apple(is)

At home I learned that Suspension was chosen as one of the editor's paperback picks for August at AOL Books.

I was also sent the link to the Harper Perennial podcast which was posted today.  It's a little over twenty minutes long, includes music, read excerpts and the interview which turned out much better than I thought it would (see the blog entry for July 24).  To visit the site and listen (or download) the podcast, CLICK HERE.   Diane Gilleland did a fantastic job.  As you'll see on the podcast page, Diane teaches blogging, podcasting, and zine-making classes in Portland, and organizes creative community groups.  Check out her Web sites at  craftypod and spinsterspin.

I rushed back downtown to work on my reading with Tessa Derfner who had invited several friends over for a party to celebrate the publication of Suspension and her recent MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College.  Before the party, we worked on the three excerpts I planned to read, deciding at the last minute not to read one of the core scenes of the book, which best comes as a surprise, and to read a scene read on the podcast instead.  A relief.  The three scenes I'm reading are relatively brief and less challenging to perform.  Now I just need to find time to practice.  My parents are flying in tomorrow.

 

This was taken at the Barnes and Noble on Sixth Avenue in the Village:  seven copies of Suspension directly above Sex in the Hood 2:  White Chocolate, which was coincidentally the working title for my novel.

 

I'm glad I changed my title!

 

 

August 5th, 2006

 

My parents flew in today.  We had lunch and headed up to Times Square.  There was a huge street fair lining 7th from 47th to the Park, so smoothies had to be tasted and $5 leather belts had to be purchased, making the three of us late to the Broadway tix discount line.  We stood in that chain for one minute before bailing.  My parents are only here for three days and we didn't want to waste the afternoon, so we simply walked into a theater and bought three tickets at full-price.  Ouch.  But then we had the afternoon to stroll through the Village.  We stopped in the Barnes and Noble at Astor Place where I'm reading on Monday.  We took pictures of the display in front.  Notice the poster for the book is different from the cover.  As I explained in my entry on July 25th, once something is drafted (a synopsis or a marketing tag or a cover) it never goes away...it keeps popping up to haunt you.  The earlier you settle on photos or print copy, the better.  In the old cover,  used in the catalog (and at Astor Place), the person seems to be hanging from a noose...not the impression I wanted.  When we walked by the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop several blocks away, my dad was the one that spotted my book in the front window.  NICE!  I walked inside and introduced myself and the two behind the counter pulled out a small stack of my books and asked me to sign their copies.  I loved it!  It was my first time to sign stock for a store.  They were pros, however...one would open a book, I'd sign, the other would slap an "autographed copy" label on the cover.  What a rush.  Then a few blocks after that we ran into Hudson at a local playground...this is Hudson's third appearance in this blog.  (His mother, Andrea Burns, by the way, is one of my favorite performers on the planet.  She has an upcoming cabaret on Monday, August 14 at the Metropolitan Room.  I will definitely be there.  For reservations, call 212.206.0440.)  When my parents and I said goodbye to them, Hudson shouted, "KEEP DOING SUSPENSION!"

 

In the window of Astor Place...where I'm reading on the 7th. In the window at Oscar Wilde...the first store to ask me to sign all their copies.
Hudson:  "Keep doing Suspension!" Celebs like Andrea Burns take their kids to the playground...just like us!

Good reports today.  Greg Ramos called with the news that in Burlington, Vermont, there was a stack of Suspension on a front table at Borders.  Colin Winterbottom (who housesits for me whenever I travel and whose photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Twin Towers hung above my desk as I wrote my novel) emailed from Washington, D.C. to tell me there were five copies at Olsson's Books, an independent with the reputation for being the (cool) writers' book store.

And from one of my tourist/teacher/friends, Melissa McMillan-Cunningham of Nacogdoches, Texas:

"Hey!  So, I got tired of waiting for the Amazon delivery and ventured to Hastings (sadly, our biggest bookstore), and there IT was on the shelf! One copy. One. I seek out the book manager (whom I've known for years--taught all of her children), and ask where the other copies are hiding. She checks the computer and discovers they only have one (which is now in my hot little hand). While she's checking, I tell her who you are (she's been on the NYC trip twice), so she says she'll order more....and does so, while I'm standing there. Hooray!
All the best from your Nacogdoches publicist."

Thank you, everyone!

 

August 6th, 2006

 

I'm enjoying the emails and calls.  I love hearing that people are enjoying the book, that they can't put it down or that they're laughing out loud.  Thank you.  And yes, if there's a bookstore in your area that you think really should have the book, for whatever reason, let me know and I can make some calls.

One of my favorite emails came today from Meg Leutkemeyer in St. Louis:   "I wanted to give you a reality check.  I purchased your book this weekend from our local Barnes and Noble and I had all of the kids with me.  They thought it was very cool that I knew the author.  When little Matt (7 year old) asked me what the story was about, I read him the back jacket.  He asked if that really happened to you.  I told him the book was fiction.  His response was, 'So it's a fake book?' and he was unimpressed. So whenever you are feeling too proud remember it is only a "fake" book!"

Today I spent some time with family (the Cloisters and the Sixth Avenue street fair) and friends (a bbq) and prepared for the reading tomorrow (Monday at 7) at the Barnes and Noble, Astor Place.

 

August 7th, 2006--FIRST READING--NYC, BARNES AND NOBLE, ASTOR PLACE

 

Well, this day started off with lots of anxiety and grew into terror.  I was tense all morning and stumbled over words when rehearsing what I planned to read for the night.  Uh-oh.  I realized that I needed to relax my jaw and did warm-up exercises, resolving also to go for a swim before the reading no matter how busy the day became.  I also decided to write out what I wanted to say between excerpts just in case I became so nervous that I blanked.  I don't normally fear public speaking.  Ten years of giving tours have helped.  You simply step up in front of the group, smile, put yourself and everyone else at ease, and start talking.  No worries.  Today there were worries.  After putting out one final email reminder, I began receiving replies from friends who had promised not only to be at my reading but told they were bringing friends.  I'm not exaggerating when I say literally forty people emailed to cancel.  "We'll be at your next one!"  What next one?  LA?  And many of these were very close friends, some who were even professionally obliged to attend.  I know this is August, but this was ridiculous.  I had heard about writers reading to three people at sparsely attended events, but this was my hometown where people had been enthusiastically pledging to "be there" for months.  I refrained from throwing up, continued to rehearse, and did go for a longer than usual swim.

I arrived at Astor Place a little early, saw my friend, Tessa Derfner, who reminded me to focus on the people who were there, to share my work, and to enjoy reading from it.  I handed her my bag and umbrella and went for a walk around the block.  I ran into my friend, Virginia, who reminded me that there would be people in attendance whom I didn't know.  That was possible, I thought, but my book had only been out for six days.  I kept walking.  I returned to the store and met the Community Relations people who were fantastic.  I was told the air conditioning was still broken--oh, brother--and that the reading would still be at the top of the escalator.  It was cooler in the cafe area, but the baristas had refused to close at the last reading and the poor writer had to read over the grinding of coffee beans.  They brought me upstairs and told me I could have anything I wanted to eat (I couldn't eat) or drink...I took two bottles of cold water.  Then we walked to the reading.  Scores of chairs were set up facing a table and a lectern with a microphone.  There were friends already there, eager to hear me read--sweating despite the several fans, but eager to hear me read.  After a few conversations, I was able to click into the moment.  "This is my first reading and I'm damn well going to enjoy it."  Five minutes before show time, I retreated to the private writer's area around the corner, took deep breaths, did a vocal warm up, relaxed my jaw by going through the consonants, walked in small circles, and remembered to turn off my cell phone.  I was told that bottles of water were being handed out to all the members of the audience.  (That's what FEMA does!  This had all the makings of a disaster.)  Carolyn Hughes, the Community Relations manager, began to introduce me and a long and loud cheer went up from the crowd.  She shared some of the advance praise and recent public endorsements.  I could hear the audience buzzing.  And then she called my name.  (Holy crap!) 

I stepped out and made the walk.  The place was full.  From the lectern, it looked like every seat had been taken.  There were people standing and there were people sitting on the steps.  Erin Cox, my publicist from Harper Perennial, had arrived and was smiling in my direct line of vision.  Other friends were beaming from the audience.  When the cheering died down, I told them how amazing it was to get that kind of response from a room of complete strangers.  A huge laugh.  As I looked around, though, I realized many of these people were strangers.  But I was smiling, I felt supported, and completely at ease.  I told myself to take my time, share the work, and enjoy myself.  And I did.  The reading was animated, there was laughing, there was attentive silence.  People coming off the escalator (hey, I thought that escalator was supposed to be turned off) stopped to listen.  When I finished, I felt great.  There was a brief and (I hope) interesting q&a and then the signing began.  That was fun.  Rows of people lined up, their names were written on post-it notes, the books open to the first page and then slid to me.  Cameras flashed, there were hugs and handshakes, and I signed as fast as I could while still trying to inscribe something genuine and orginal.  When the signing was over, I learned that there had been 80 copies for sale and that we sold more than 70!  For my first reading, I was thrilled.  It was New York in the middle of the summer, we were in a room without air conditioning.  Then, those of us that were still at the bookstore, including my parents, walked down to B Bar at Bowery and 4th for food and drinks...and deep breaths of relief.

Two funny sidebars:

I was asked, based on my performance (thank you, Peter Flynn and Tessa Derfner), to narrate an upcoming documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright by the brilliant Lucille Carra, who was in the audience.  (After my reading in LA, I hope to get my own variety show.)  Chris and Laura (see the July 27 entry) were there, fresh from their vacation, and gave me one of my favorite all-time gifts:  a silver bookmark carved with my ISBN number...0-06-074137-6.

 

August 8th, 2006

 

I wonder if I'll ever get tired of seeing my book in a store?  Or feeling compelled to enter every shop I pass to seek out my novel?  Today I signed stock.  My publicist gave me a list of stores to visit where I was to find the community relations/information desk, announce myself, and sign whatever copies of Suspension they had on hand.  I visited the Barnes & Noble stores on Broadway at 68th and 82nd and on Fifth at 46th and 48th, the Borders at Columbus Circle, and Coliseum at 42nd.  Some times Suspension was on the shelf, at the Borders it was divided between a shelf and a front table, and at 46th and Fifth all copies were on a front table.  One of the four copies at Coliseum was in the window.

I had no idea authors went around signing books, but it was certainly nothing new to any of the people I approached.  They all had their roll of "Autographed Copy" labels and pens at the ready.  The woman at Borders gave me a Sharpie.  (That's right, she just gave it to me for free!)  She was also one of the friendliest, and told me that she looked forward to reading Suspension.  "It sounds like a book that won't put me to sleep."  (The Barnes and Noble staff at 82nd and 46th also deserve mention for friendliness.)   As we chatted and I signed, a young man at the table looked over and smiled.  I began to exit the store and noticed him checking out my book, and I turned, circled around another table, and offered to personalize a copy if he would buy it.  He was very friendly, amenable to the idea and asked what the book was about.  I started pitching it, using three of my twenty-four ways of describing the novel.  He agreed to a purchase and I pulled out my new Sharpie.  His name was Tom, and I wrote For Tom...he saw For and asked, "Is that supposed to be Tom?"  (As those who know me can attest, my handwriting is truly appalling.  My autograph incidentally changes with every book I sign, especially if I concentrate too much on it.)

My publicist told me that there was a term for what I did at Borders.  It's called handselling--she told me to keep it up--and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was willing to stand at the table for hours, greeting all shoppers and hawking my wares, but there's probably something a bit desperate in a writer hanging out in a store standing next to his book and holding his Sharpie.  It's also demoralizing to imagine a less than ideal customer (someone who's not Tom) saying, "No, Suspension doesn't sound like my cup of tea.  Thanks though.  Do you know where they keep the Rachel Ray cookbooks?"  "No, I don't.  Please move along, maam.  I'm trying to handsell."

 

August 9th, 2006

 

Nine days after my book hit the marketplace, I resumed my day job...which isn't horrible.  I'm a freelancer, I love giving tours.  I dressed up in my black pants and red polo shirt and took a bus out to LaGuardia to meet guests from Arkansas.  Their flight was thirty minutes late, so I wandered the main terminal, popping into a couple of the smaller bookstores and noting the absence of my debut novel.  I was prepared for that, though.  These are stores that sell only the usual suspects.  Ah, well.  One day.  I went downstairs to grab a coffee and to organize my overwhelming to-do list, when I saw Barbara's Bestsellers off the food court.  This is a great store I often visit when I'm hanging out at LaGuardia.  Prepared not to see my book, I was pleasantly shocked to see six copies!!  I brought them up to the counter to see if they were interested in my signing them.  A woman to the side was asking the clerk about the sales of a book.  She seemed to be keeping records, so I asked if she was the manager.  It turns out she was a writer and was signing copies herself.  I shook her hand telling her that my book had just been published a week earlier.  I wished that I wasn't wearing a red polo shirt with my name badge as that proved confusing for all involved.  The clerk did a quick glance at the back cover to match my face with the author photo.  Then she complimented the cover and recalled she'd seen the Entertainment Weekly review.  I signed my copies and she stuck the labels on the front.  (Wow.  They have those labels everywhere.  I wonder if I'll ever be able to exit an airport without stopping in every single bookstore and asking to sign stock.)  Well, back to the baggage claim area to hold up my sign with all the limo drivers.  I told Liz, a VIP greeter at the airports, that I had just signed copies of my novel at the food court, and was gratified when she dropped her sign, sprinted away and returned in minutes with two books for me to personalize.  And then my group arrived.  "Welcome to New York."  

 

August 10th, 2006

 

I love New York.  On Monday I stood in front of a crowd at Astor Place and read from my first novel and on Thursday I led a team on a scavenger hunt through Manhattan.  The people I met at the airport yesterday were part of a group who either work for PFG, a food distribution company, or own restaurants that are supplied by PFG.  Everyone was from Arkansas--they were all very friendly and enthusiastic--and since most had never been to the city before, they were up and ready to go by 8am.  I was responsible for the yellow team and its transportation, a bus driven by a French-speaking man who had difficulty with English and no real understanding of what we were doing--why people were screaming STOP, jumping off the bus, sprinting down the street and returning with after-coffee mints from Starbucks while shouting GO, GO, GO!  We only had the morning to accomplish as many of the seventy-eight tasks assigned us; we had to end at Katz's deli by noon (or 12:02 with the two-minute grace period...arriving at 12:03 would result in a 150-point deduction).  My job was to make sure we were able to hit as many sites as they wanted without being late, and with the help of the driver, Jean, who by 11:45 was beginning to get the hang of things, we were able to pick  up three items in Union Square, swing by Astor Hair and Cooper Union, zip down Bowery, turn at Houston, and arrive at exactly 12:02.

I'm proud to say that the yellow team was golden.  While one of the team members took a picture of another team member petting a horse (35 points), another team member spotted a woman signing autographs in front of the Ritz Carlton.  He jumped out and held her captive until the photographer could snap a shot.  It was Katey Segall, who played the mother on Married with Children, and because she was a bonafide celebrity, the yellow team had just racked up 150 points, and combining that with the picture of the team at a bar in a hotel lobby designed by Phillip Starck and a picture of a fire escape (with bicycle!), the score tallied at Katz's totaled 1855!

And as hectic and frantic as this morning was, it meant I was not at home checking my book's Amazon sales rank (with its enormous, unexplained mood swings) and it was the first Thursday in three weeks I didn't spend eight hours answering and sending emails.

This marks the final entry of this twenty-day blog.  Because so many people have begun to check in regularly, however, I will be posting more frequently than once a week.  So keep tuning in:  there will be pictures, stories, LINKS!!, answers to questions (keep sending them), MORE LINKS!!, and excerpts from reviews and interviews, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

copyright © 2006 Robert Westfield - All Rights Reserved