Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Friday, December 13, 2013

How Life is Like Jazz


 A friend posted this meme on Facebook and it got me thinking that a lot of what applies to jazz also applies to life. So here are my thoughts on life and jazz this morning.

1. It exists in the moment. You can’t store it up or save it for later. It must be experienced now.

2. You have to constantly improvise for things to keep moving.

3. It’s always the right time to listen to others around you.

4. Everyone who wants it gets a chance to solo, if even for a brief moment.

5. It works best when everyone respects their peers.

6. You can jump back in and join the song at any time as long as you play well with others.

7. The more you play, the better you get.

8. If you’re dwelling on something other than the moment, things could train wreck. You can’t spend your time thinking about what happened at the beginning or trying to figure out where everything will end.

9. It’s beautiful when it’s done right.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What I Learned From "All Is Lost"

Although sparse in dialog, this film is a rich source of information about life and has a lot to teach the average viewer. Here are a few of the things I learned from watching this film:

1. If you’re taking a boat out on the ocean, don’t let Robert Redford navigate.

2. Watch out for cheap shoes floating in the ocean. They can be deadly.

3. Sharks are real jerks.

4. Sailing is like Nightmare on Elm Street: bad stuff happens when you fall asleep.

5. Sometimes the only way to save yourself is to set everything on fire (and don’t think I won’t use this excuse the next time I set the kitchen on fire).

One of the main lessons I learned is that you don’t need a lot of dialog to make a movie interesting. There are a lot of sparse things about this film aside from the dialog, but there’s also a lot of richness. The lack of dialog and missing backstory in combination with the beautiful imagery and intense drama make this film open to interpretations as a loose metaphor for the struggles of  life, love, relationships, or spirituality. We all struggle. Some of us just don't give up. This is story telling done well.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guidelines for Thanksgiving Dinner Conversations

In order to make the family holiday go a little more smoothly, I've created a list of acceptable and unacceptable topics of conversation for the Thanksgiving dinner table. Some of these are specific to my family, but these lists may serve as a guide for you to create your own handouts for the holiday.

Acceptable topics of conversation at Thanksgiving:

1. The weather. 
2. Amy’s new shoes. 
3. The awesomeness of John Lennon and Freddie Mercury (but only if Amy has had less than three drinks).
4. The parade.
5. Gargoyles

Taboo Topics for Thanksgiving Dinner

1. Your last doctor’s appointment (some of us will be eating, you know).

2. Any stories related to having your tires rotated (Dad — thanks, but we’ve got these memorized).

3. School grades. Anyone caught bragging about his or her grades will be publicly forced to eat the gizzards.

4. People who have not set the house on fire are not allowed to discuss the times those of us did so. However, people who have set the house on fire may discuss their respective events with one another at their own discretion.

5. Lucky Charms. Some of us were emotionally scarred by this cereal as a child.

6. The awesomeness of John Lennon and Freddie Mercury (but only if Amy has had more than three drinks — because then she’ll cry that they’re gone and nobody wants to deal with a weeping drunk sobbing face down in her mashed potatoes).

7. Politics.
I also welcome suggestions for additions. Please post your recommendations in the comments below. Thank you.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Poetry Thursday - Falling

Today, I have decided, should be a reflective day. And so here is a piece for you to read on this Poetry Thursday. Enjoy and reflect upon it accordingly.



if i die


out of a plane,

i hope the sky

is a deep autumn orange


i look

good in orange

and i want

my last moments

to be beautiful.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing Chronologically

One of the first mistakes a lot of new writers make is thinking that a book has to be written from the beginning to the end. It certainly needs to read well that way when you finish it, but that’s not always the best way to write it.  I work with words similar to the way I paint: I  block in broad sections with ideas and then begin developing the details.

I don’t always start writing my books at the beginning because sometimes you don’t know how something should start until you know exactly how it’s going to end. I always start with a concept. That concept is the center of the book and I work from there. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a chronological order to the plot: it simply means that I work outside of it when I’m structuring the story.

John Irving always writes the last sentence first. Those finals words are like a beacon that he steers toward with his writing. This is a great way to work because the final words can leave a lasting impression and if you write towards them effectively, then you can maximize the impression on the reader when they walk away from the book.

You live your life one day at a time and your book has to be written one day at a time, but you don’t have to write it in that order. Stepping outside of chronology may give you more perspective and strengthen your writing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We Are All Mythical Creatures

Most of you know that I have a pet stone gargoyle named Newton. I take Newton with me all over town. He even joined me in getting a pedicure. When I took him to the Pancake Pantry (a local landmark here in Nashville) the server treated him just as she would any other customer and asked for his order.

Often people will ask to have a picture taken with Newton and most people like the novelty of seeing a stone gargoyle out and about. No one has ever tried to tell me that he isn’t real. Reality is subjective. He’s real because I perceive him as real.

Just as I project a personality on Newton, people project personalities on other people. We think we’re being objective, but the truth is that none of us can read minds so we can never completely know what motivates or drives another person. We don’t ever really know someone else perfectly. We view behaviors and often attribute motivations to behaviors, but we’ll always be at least partially wrong because we’re constantly viewing other people through the lens that is who we are. Being objective is like being a great driver: we all think we’re better at it than everyone else, but the truth is that we’re all flawed. Your reality of me is just as much a myth as someone else’s very different reality of me. I am not who you perceive me to be, but neither is anyone else.

Sometimes the myth we experience of someone else is the one we have chosen to see because our stories of others are rooted within ourselves. For example, I worked with a gentleman who always attributed kindness to the actions of others. I remember once discussing a mutual acquaintance named Steve. When I mentioned that I didn’t trust Steve, my friend said that he thought Steve was a basically good person. About two years later Steve was caught using company funds to romance some of the single women in the office, including taking them on expensive and unnecessary business trips to exotic locations. The myth of Steve I had created was based on the fact that Steve couldn’t stop looking at my breasts during meetings. My friend, being male, had a completely different myth of Steve’s identity. Who is the real Steve? He's probably somewhere in between the pervert and the nice guy. He is both of our views of him, and yet he is also neither because neither perception alone is an accurate picture of Steve. Steve, like all of us, is a complex person. My experience of Steve as well as my other friend's experience were both built upon fragments. Both of our views of him are myths because we filled in the gaps based on our limited experiences.

In my own life I’ve been in situations where I watched others build myths about me.  There have been times when people treated me like the legendary Hera, attributing strength and wisdom to my actions. I felt these perceptions were an exaggeration and it made me feel awkward. However, to the individuals I advised this view was real because they needed to hear the information or counsel I provided. Having the right words at the right time gave me an aura of wisdom. Was I truly wise? Perhaps for a moment. But I've had other times and different situations in which I lacked wisdom. Neither the sage nor the fool would be an accurate description, but they can be true for specific moments or for specific people. The labels don't make these things who I am. But they're who I am to those who perceive me that way.

In a completely different situation, I’ve been vilified when I disagreed with the male majority in a business setting. The men who disagreed with me painted a description that resembled the mythical creature of a dangerous gorgon who could turn men into stone. I was treated as if I loved destroying plans simply for the joy of watching them crumble. What I thought I was doing was providing a realistic evaluation of a business plan. I saw the logic in my actions, but the men only saw potential opposition and their feelings of being threatened turned their view of me into a monster.

Which one is the real me - the sage or the witch? Do either of these views (or any others that people may have) make the others less valid? They're all based on subjective experiences. But everyone's subjective realities are their only realities. Does this mean that I should change my behavior to create the stories I want others to see? Absolutely not. We can no more control the myths that others create any more than we can control their minds. We are mythical creatures, but the only myths we control are the ones we create about others.

Myths are stories and mythical creatures are the animals who appear in these tales. Each mythical creature is based on a facet of shared common experience, on the elements that we see in others. For example, we've all been around a person of strength, likes a Hercules or an amazon. We've also seen the attractive women who lure men to their deaths like a siren (note that sometimes the death isn't physical and it's a career or relationship that dies). We all feel like we've had to work with the person who's weak in every area, such as the minotaur. Fairies, pixies, witches, banshees, hydras, unicorns, gargoyles, and all mythical creatures are real because we see elements of these things in other people. These things exist in stories because they're part of our experiences. They're the realities we've built based on our perceptions of one another.

We create these myths and become mythical creatures every day. So the next time that someone tells you that mythical creatures don't exist, don't believe that person. Mythical creatures are real and all around us. They are us.

Newton was too large to travel with me to Paris, so I took Flat Newton with me. Here we are shopping for books in Paris.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits: A Book Review

Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss begins with a nice overview of some terminology and definitions and then moves on the discuss flavoring agents and how these work with a person’s taste system. However, the majority of this book is recipes - and there is no shortage of them. 

While it may seem odd to some people to infuse your own spirits, these recipes open up the possibilities for creating unique cocktails or desserts. For example, some of these spirits can be used over ice cream to create a simple but elegant dessert while a few of them served over ice would be dessert enough for someone like me. These can also be used to flavor white cake before icing or in puddings or icings. There’s also a section of savory recipes which could add elegance to parties or used in small quantities to flavor meats or salads.

In addition to using these in my own kitchen, I see the following potential uses:

1. Create a batch for a theme party.
2. Compliment one of your courses. Being a huge fan of desserts, I’ll cite the example of serving a praline liqueur with a pecan pie or similar dessert. The praline liqueur could also be used to flavor coffee that’s served with dessert.
3. Gifts. Who wouldn’t love to receive a homemade bottle of spirits around the holidays or for a special occasion?

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait to try some of the recipes. This was a very unusual cookbook and one that I would keep on the shelf to experiment with over and over.

Note: I received a free advance review copy of this book from the publisher.
This book is available for preorder on Amazon. The book releases in paperback on November 5th.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Girl and Her Gargoyle ... at The Cookery

Newton and I recently had lunch at The Cookery, a new restaurant in Nashville. If you haven’t been to this place yet, you need to check it out. This restaurant is owned by Brett Swayn and Terry Kemper and is one of my new favorite places to visit. There are a number of things that make this place extraordinary.

The Food

There are so many incredible dishes, and Newton and I will be going back to try them all. The menu selections provide a nice variety and include salads like the Rockin Moroccan Chicken Salad. It had tender pieces of juicy chicken browned in Moroccan spices and served with an almond relish and fresh oranges mixed in with the greens. Even the dressing was freshly made and delicious. We also tried the Down Under Blunder burger which is incredible with or without the grilled Pineapple. For those of you on a low carb diet there are lettuce wraps, such as cajun whitefish lettuce wraps (which I’m going to try next). They also serve coffee and smoothies if you're just looking for a snack or a place to hold a casual business meeting. The desserts look awesome, too.

The People

The staff are extremely friendly and personable. It’s not unusual for the chef to come out and talk with customers to share the story of how this restaurant came to be. It’s a beautiful story, too.

The Purpose

This is related to Brett’s story. The Cookery is part of Lambscroft Ministries and is a training facility for teaching culinary skills to the homeless. The program works with these individuals to help them off the street. As he will tell you if you go there, Brett spent four months on the street and eventually recovered his life when he was given a job at Fleming’s Steak House. Eventually Brett trained, became a sous chef and went on to train other chefs for Fleming's. If you have a moment, take the time to read more about Brett’s story on the website — or better yet, visit The Cookery and listen to him tell it himself. The passage below is from their website and describes their purpose:
"Our aim, however, is to re-establish identity and sense of purpose and destiny. If we can help break cycles of hopelessness, bad choices and regret, while loving and teaching… we may have students who will not only secure jobs, but also be confident to enter relationships with their communities once again."

The Atmosphere.

The Cookery has a very positive atmosphere. As soon as you walk in the door you feel surrounded by hope. Brett believes in miracles and saw many of them while he was on the streets of Nashville. The Cookery is a place of hope. What’s more important is that these things are real at The Cookery.

Newton’s Assessment

There’s not much evil to hunt down at The Cookery, which is okay because not having to work frees up a gargoyle’s time so that he can spend more of it eating. Newton is, after all, a foodie who enjoys a good meal. Newton also reports that while the Lion in the picture below is a pleasant chap, he’s not much of a conversationalist.

Read more about the story of the Cookery here.

And follow them on Facebook here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Generating Ideas for Stripper Names

I’m not sure what this says about our culture, but I’ve noticed that a number of popular kids’ foods would make great stripper names. So if you’re writing a book and need a good name for a character who works as a stripper or porn star, I suggest you take a look at some of these. It can at least help generate some ideas.

Ginger Kitty

Pop Tart (works better for a man, but you could also feminize the name to “Poppi Tart”)

Hostess Twinkie

Hostess Cupcake

Hostess Ho Hos

Pretty much anything Hostess makes ...

Glo Balls (I really hope  never have to witness this performance)

Tootsie Pop

The Jolly Rancher

Sugar Daddy and Slo Poke

Teddy Graham (possibly an elderly lingerie model?)

This is just the beginning. There are a lot more out there — and notice that most of these are snack foods or sweets. So, perhaps if you think about this long enough it will help you with that diet you’ve been planning ...

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Advice From a Gargoyle: Choosing a College

I took my daughter to a college fair last night. Newton, my gargoyle and BFF, was busy and couldn’t join us (he’s very active socially, if you haven’t noticed), so he sent me a list of questions to ask to help us in choosing the right college.

Here’s Newton’s list in case any of you need help in knowing what questions to ask potential colleges:

1. How many Gothic structures do you have on campus?

2. What is your tallest building? Height (in meters)?

3. What sort of perching arrangements are provided on your tall buildings? Is there high demand for the more desirable perches?

4. Does you cafeteria offer free beer to gargoyles?

5. What is the prevalence of evil on campus? Has evil ever taken over or dominated any departments or buildings?

6. Please explain your strategy to protect the campus from harm or unseen evil forces.

7. How many winged mammals are accepted into your graduate and undergraduate programs? Do you have a breakdown by program of study?

8. Are students required to wear clothing to class if they also have either wings or scales?

I hope these have been helpful. Newton wishes all future college students safety from harm at all times during their education. Good luck in choosing a school.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back Injury Stories

I have a friend who recently hurt his back while picking up a ping pong ball. Granted, a person doesn’t need to be lifting anything heavy to get a back injury - I know the spine is a complicated piece of anatomy and these things can happen at any time. However, I told this friend of mine that he needed a better story. The truth just isn’t going to cut it. After all, if you’ve injured yourself enough to be out of commission for a week or more, a lot of people are going to be asking about what happened.

So here’s a list of potential stories that could be used to make the incident sound more interesting:

“I threw out my back while bending the space time continuum.”

“There was this prostitute who used to be a contortionist ... ”

“I was building a secret library room for my friend Amy and her book collection is really heavy.”

“My parachute didn’t open. Again. I landed on my feet, but the impact did a number on my lower back.”

“I’ve been wrestling gargoyles for extra cash on the weekends. Those things are much stronger than they look.”

“I was really rocking the Chippendale’s auditions until I slipped on all those hundred dollar bills the ladies were throwing.”

“I finally got my budget balanced, but forcing the numbers into the right columns really hurt my back.”
“I’ve been doing some heavy reading and my back finally gave out under the weight of the acquired knowledge.”

This is just a few. Feel free to contribute your own suggestions so that the next time my friend hurts his back doing something simple, at least he'll have a lot of good stories to choose from.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Poetry of Silence

I was recently in a reflective mood and thought about silence. In his magnum opus, David Foster Wallace indicated pauses in conversation by using an ellipse encapsulated in quotes. This signified silence from one of the speaking parties while the other was waiting for a response. In my reflective moment, I thought I’d invoke this technique in poetic form. Here are the results.

a conversation about nothing

" … "
" … "
" … "

" … "
" … "
" … "

a silent argument

                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "
                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "
                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "
                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "

                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "
                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "
                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "
                       " ... "
                                                                                                            " ... "


         " ... "
                                                                                                                          " ... "
                           " ... "                      
                                                                                                           " ... "
                                              " ... "
                                                                                          " ... "

“ ... ”
“ ... ”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Girl and Her Gargoyle - At The Movies

Newton and I went to see a film together. The movie was about a museum guard and his friend, so it seemed appropriate (gargoyles being natural guardians).

 Good news!  Gargoyles get in free! So we had extra money for concessions. Here's Newton choosing his beer:

Gargoyles also love popcorn. Luckily I got a large so there was enough for both of us.

 After the film Newton wanted a closer look at the dragon across the street. I think he may be in love.

Newton's Movie Review:
If you're looking for an action film that keeps your talons gripping your seat, this is not the film for you. Watching this film is like looking at a painting with intricate details and where the primary subject isn't always determined by the title of the piece. That was the director's point. While one of the main characters is a guardian, his claws were far too neatly manicured for him to be able to protect much. However, there were some great shots of the art in the museum and nice cinematography.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Girl and Her Gargoyle ... At The Pancake Pantry

My new gargoyle arrived. I named him Newton. He was going to live in my courtyard outside my back door, but as soon as I unpacked him from the box I discovered that he was really an "inside" gargoyle. Not surprising, since gargoyles tend to take on the characteristics of their owners.

First of all, I followed the example of Andy in Toy Story and wrote my name on the bottom of Newton's feet:

And then guess what!  I discovered that Newton likes pancakes! So I took him to the Pancake Pantry for lunch. Here we are outside standing in line to get in:

There were a lot of choices on the menu. Newton wanted to try them all.

Good news - the Pancake Pantry does not discriminate against gargoyles and brought Newton his own glass of refreshing ice water. It's important for stone beings to stay hydrated, too.

Newton loved the bacon. It was extra crispy. He ate the whole plate by himself.

The Pancake Pantry was a hit with Newton. He gives it "two talons up" and recommends it to gargoyles who happen to be flying through town.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

You're Next - Movie Review

Note: There are spoilers in this review.

I’m not a fan of horror movies, but Mr. Amy happens to love them. He’s seen just about every horror film ever made anywhere in the world. He loves scary things. That’s why he married me. So when I was offered a chance to preview the horror film “You’re Next” (which opens August 23), I decided to take Mr. Amy on a date to see it. Mr. Amy was skeptical, of course, as he has pretty much seen it all in this genre. I, on the other hand, wasn’t sure I would be able to sleep for the next week. However, we were both pleasantly surprised by this film.

The movie is about a home invasion and has been billed as the next generation in horror films. The trailer makes it look creepy. However, it’s not a new way to terrorize horror fans - it’s a new way to entertain them and fans of movies like Evil Dead will probably really enjoy this film.

The movie started out in the predictable horror formula, but very soon I was engaged with dialog so calculatingly bad that there was no way it was an accident. These writers knew the rules of screen dialog and broke them with gusto. The results were hilarious and I have not laughed that hard in a movie in a long time.  For example, when no one can get cell phone service one of the family members states, “He’s probably using a cell phone blocker. They’re illegal, but you can get one on the internet for about $30.” Another of my favorite conversations is early in the film when the family members are at dinner talking about how they only watch TV for the commercials and they think that documentary style commercials are a good idea.

If you can stomach the bloody scenes, this movie is an excellent study in what not to do when writing dialog. Yes, this is a gory film and there’s plenty of fake blood splattered. However, there are several creative kills that were so ridiculous that I laughed and cringed at the same time. Between the entertaining dialog and the creative take on an old genre, this movie was worth seeing.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Urban Life for Dogs

I haven’t been posting as much lately because I’ve been in the process of moving (and then there was that whole book release thing, too). Despite the chaos, we’ve survived. The biggest change was moving from a suburban area to a more urban one. To provide a unique perspective on this change, I’m allowing my dog to make a guest post here concerning what every dog needs to know before moving into the city. Here's her list of recommendations for dogs moving to city life:

1. Dogs in the city bark with an accent that sounds a little rough, but you get used to it quickly. They’re all really friendly and like to play.

2. City squirrels are more evil than suburban squirrels. They will taunt you by prancing along the power lines and running up and down fences. They all must die.

3. Urban life means that there are more people living closer together and that also means that you will meet a lot more dogs. That’s a lot of butts to sniff, so get your lungs into shape before you move.

4. We have sidewalks here. These are tiny cement roads for pedestrians. Pretty cool.

5. There are things here called “alleys” which have the best buffets. Trash cans line both sides and occasionally there’s road kill or rotting garbage just out in the open there. It’s heaven.

6. There are so many smells here that it’s exhausting, so you will definitely need more naps. However, all the information you’re inhaling through your nose will make you smarter. That’s why they call them “street smarts.” You get them from smelling the street.

7. If you get that uncontrollable urge to chase cars or bicycles you should get therapy before you move. There are way too many of these things in the city and there’s no stopping any of them. The sooner you realize this the better off you will be and the more likely you are to avoid a canine existential crisis.

8. They still barbecue in the city and there are still leftover hot dogs. There is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What I learned From Poe

I recently toured the Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. I’m working on a few articles based on the visit, but while these are still in progress I thought I’d share a few quick insights on what I learned from Poe.

1. If you’re going to die, be sure to do it in someone else’s clothing. It will get people talking. Some people will find it so odd that they will go out and buy your books to search for any clue on why you might have done this.

2. Choose your enemies wisely. Most people don’t know this, but much of what we’ve heard about Poe being a drunkard and person of questionable character was made up by one of his professional adversaries and published after Poe’s death. The lies were intended to discredit Poe and destroy his literary legacy. This attempt backfired and only drew more people to read Poe’s work, making him far more famous than the individual who wrote the lies. Score one for Poe!

3. Marry someone much younger. Poe's happiest relationship was with his wife, who was only 13 when she and Poe (who was 27 at the time) were married. However, she died of an illness at the age of 24 and Poe never did seem to find true love again.

4. It’s okay to be a literary whore. Even Poe took on writing assignments, such as writing a textbook on sea shells, in order to pay the bills. I think that if Poe had resort to turning literary tricks in order to make ends meet, then it’s certainly not beneath the rest of us to do likewise.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hello, Sleepy Hollow and Greetings, Mr. Poe!

We wrapped up our visit to Book Expo America and headed out to see a few more literary tour spots outside of the city on the way home. Here are some of the highlights.

Less than an hour from NYC is the town of Sleepy Hollow. Of course, we had to visit the graveyard. It's a beautiful place. Here's a picture of the gate:

 I don't know anything about this grave, but I loved the statue under the red maple and had to snap a picture.

The highlight of Sleepy Hollow was visiting Washington Irving's grave. This is his family plot and his gravestone is the one with the red flowers in front. It's a beautiful cemetery and a great place to take a walk if you have the time.

Nearby the cemetery is Union Church of Pocantico Hills.  They wouldn't let us take pictures inside, but this place is extraordinary! The stained glass windows along the sides of this small chapel were made by Matisse and the rose window above the alter is the last work of art made by Chagall. Here;s the Chagall window from the outside:

Next, we drove a few hours to Baltimore, Maryland to gaze upon the grave of Edgar Allan Poe. It's a tradition to leave a penny on the grave because a school teacher started the "pennies for Poe" campaign that resulted in the building of the monument in the picture. Although he's buried under this monument now, he was originally buried with a small marker in the back of the churchyard. This monument was built because his fans left pennies. It just goes to show how little things can add up!

Just a few blocks from Poe's grave is his Baltimore house. It's also a museum, but it's currently closed for renovation. Nevertheless, we made the trek in the rain to see it. Here's the plaque on the front of the house marking it:

And here's what the house looks like:

And then we drove on into the night.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

More Literary Tourism in NYC

Saw a lot of interesting things and met more great people at Book Expo America Yesterday. Too much for one post, so in this one I'll share more pictures of my literary tourism and write up the conference later.

Interesting place for dinner with some more classic New York Pizza. This restaurant was once a church and is worth visiting for both the food and architecture.

Check out the ceiling and stained glass. Beautiful.

We went to Old Town Bar, a place where literary types such as Frank McCourt and Nick Hornby have been in the past.

Note to women - the ladies room is upstairs. While it seems like an inconvenience, I enjoyed the trip and the scenery in the upstairs room, which was not in use on this busy Friday night. Here's a shot of the room.

And the trip back down with all the creakiness of well-traveled stairs.

We ended the night by going to one of the most imaginative theatrical productions I've seen. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it's a very creative interpretation of MacBeth called "Sleep No More" and it takes place here:

Check it out if you're in New York. It was worth staying up until 3:15 AM to see it, and I'm a "morning person."

Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Expo America - Day 1

We've been on our feet for days and we're not about to stop. Yesterday was the first day of the conference and we had a lot of really nice people stop by our booth to chat. I love being around book lovers. Here's a picture of our booth. Love the artwork and the cutouts we had made.

I played hooky from the conference and left to go have lunch at the Algonquin Hotel with an old friend. I can see why Dorothy Parker loved the place. Great food and a nice atmosphere.

After the conference we stumbled upon another movie set and managed to ask a crew member about the film. It's called "Birdman" and stars Zack Galifinakas and Emma Stone. Here's the scene we saw being filmed.

I went to visit my friend and artist Michael from Michael Curry Mosaics.  Here's a picture of us on his balcony. Awesome view.

The Empire State Building in early evening.Apparently, there's an app that tells you what color the lights will be each evening. How cool is that?

Today will be another long be extremely fun day. Who wouldn't have fun when surrounded by so many books and book people!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pre Book Expo America Fun in NYC

Yesterday we were still playing the tourist when teh group I was with continued to explore the city on foot. Whether it rains or not,  NYC is a beautiful city. Check out this view of Washington Square Park:

While Nashville appears to best every other city I've visited in terms of quantity of churches, New York has some of the most beautiful cathedrals. We went inside St. Thomas and here's the view looking down the center aisle:

Spent part of the afternoon at MOMA and, in addition to the paintings and sculpture, saw some great photography.  Enjoyed the special exhibit Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light. I could post pictures of the art. Instead, here's my favorite sign inside the museum:

I finally made it to McSorely's. Great place for beer drinkers or anyone else looking for inspiration in a  glass of ale. Particularly interesting to me, since I recently started making my own beer.

Finally, here's a picture I took in Times Square while walking back to the hotel last night. The billboards stretch for a full block and the effect is dramatic. Something to think about for publicizing my next book ...

Yes, we also did some work that morning and we will be at BEA all day today discussing books - but we're also having fun while we're here, and I'm finally getting to see the city.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

NYC Day 1

Yesterday we drove through 6 states and arrived in New York City for Book Expo America 2013. We arrived in early afternoon, so we stretched our legs by taking a little walking tour in the rain. Here are some highlights. 

I finally made it INSIDE Central Park! On previous trips I only saw it through the cab window as I drove by.

Nice view of one of the streets inside Central Park.

 Walking inside of Central Park and looking out at The Dakota building.

 Made it to White Horse Tavern and had dinner there. No whiskey for me.

Love the sign. I prefer to believe that it was related to Dylan Thomas and not current customers, whom I'm sure know their limits and how to behave well in public.