When My Novel Gets Published

Last weekend at a party, a friend asked, How’s the book? And I cringed, feeling small and absolutely defeated because it’s been so long! “I’m waiting to hear back,” I said, walking on.

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Top Reasons to Love Your iPhone

How iPhones Ruin Your Posture and Your Mood” was a recent New York Times headline. According to the article, in order to see our small screens, we are hunching. And cowering affects our self-esteem. In, Are You Addicted to your cell phone? I discussed other disadvantages of phone use, namely being easily distracted and not focused on the present moment.

And while those things may be true, here’s what’s also true— I love my cell phone!

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It allows me to view, Ruth Chang’s TED talk, How To Make Hard Choices.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s talk, My Stroke of Insight, a fascinating discussion about the brain and peace on earth.

Johann Hari: Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong.

On Facebook, I see how the owners of SOTO boutique, a clothing store in LA, made their holiday party not only festive but meaningful. At a Sunday morning breakfast, packages of clothes for the homeless were arranged for distribution. What a lovely way to spend the day: amongst friends and coworkers, giving back.

On Twitter, I follow Novelicious and find this Kurt Vonneget quote.

BLOG-KURT VONNEGUT And this one by Virginia Woolf.

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On Instagram, Alice Chera, Life coach, posts one of her thoughtful every day reminders.

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Once again, it boils down to what my mother says. Somehow it always boils down to what my mother says: With the good, comes the bad.

So, yes, I’ve been spending more time on my phone but I’m getting a lot in return. (Like the idea that I have to pay attention to my posture.)

So every now and then, I’ll remember to sit up tall. But I won’t stop reading what’s on my tiny screen—gathering information, insights, ideas and inspiration.

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In-Laws and Creative Living

BLOG-MOTHER IN LAWWe all know those mean mother-in-law jokes: What do you do if you miss your mother in law? Reload, and try again!

My mother in law is well balanced. She has a chip on both shoulders.

Is there a family relationship more burdened?

Tempting fate, I went to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) with my daughter-in-law, Margo, last week. We went to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak about her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

 

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Margo is pragmatic. She is a nurse and scientifically minded. On our way to BAM, Margo rattled off a list of over 32 things she’d done that day, including errands in Brooklyn and New Jersey, tending to her children, helping with homework, meeting with a painter and just before leaving her house, giving an injection to a pregnant friend.

I, on the other hand, tinkered with a story idea for most of the day.

And to tell you the truth, I was feeling a bit down about that. It is hard to stay home, facing an empty screen and have what appears to be nothing accomplished at the end of the day. Of course, I know this is not really true but Elizabeth Gilbert’s message couldn’t have come at a better time. She assured the creative souls in her audience that we were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing and she encouraged us to keep at it.

She talked about fairy dust and inspiration but she also talked about hard work and perseverance.

She talked about the voices in her head, how they take up space and how she lets them come alive: The Doubter, The Critic, Fear—and while that process didn’t sound so crazy to me, Margo diagnosed her with multiple personality disorder.

You’re probably wondering why my not necessarily artsy daughter-in-law wanted to hear Elizabeth Gilbert talk about creativity, especially considering she is one of the few people in the world who didn't even read Eat Pray Love. Or see the movie.

This is how it happened.

I was supposed to be going to the BAM with my husband but he forgot and bought tickets to the Giants game.

I invited my daughter but she opted out.

My son, Margo’s husband, was going to the football game with his dad and Margo didn't want to stay home. I promised her a drink after the reading and let’s just say it didn’t take a lot of arm-twisting.

My oldest daughter kept smirking, doubting the whole prospect.

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But she was wrong; because while Margo and I are not exactly alike (I drink vodka, she drinks tequila) we both loved the event, and the hole-in-the-wall bar we found afterwards with live music. Granted, it was a bit awkward when two men started talking to us but we left soon after and found a great restaurant. I know I’m in the right place when there are vegan options on the menu.

It’s not always easy for us to find time to get together much less share intimacies. But that night, we learned new things about each other.

A mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law: loving each other, respecting each other, caring about each other.

Now that’s art.

That’s Big Magic.

From The Core- One Year Anniversary!

BLOG-ONE YEAR AND COUNTINGIt’s been a year! My first From The Core post appeared July 28, 2014.

I was scared and unsure:

Would people like what I wrote and how I wrote it?

 Was I ready for the world of social media?

 What if I made a grammatical mistake?

Well, I did make errors. Some I was able to fix, others I wasn’t.

And remarkably, I survived.

Reader comments kept me going.

Some of you responded directly on the blog site, some on Facebook, some on Instagram, some by private text message and many in person: at the grocery store, at parties and on the street.

(You’d be surprised how many people are hesitant to comment through social media. I was happy to learn, I wasn’t the only inhibited one.)

Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week as I woke to other bloggers liking my post and tracking how many people had read.

I heard from people I hadn’t talked to in 20 years, from people all over the country and yes, even an old boyfriend.

My work was read in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Italy, Spain, France, Norway, Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and more.

A special thanks goes to my friends and family who let me write about them, their outrageous stories and vulnerable moments.

All year, friends teased that they had to watch what they said in front of me for fear they’d end up in a post.

I heard everything from, “Shhh, she’s going to write about you” to “It’s good Corie’s not here.” (Yes, people repeat these things to me.)

Looking for material or attempting to drum up good conversation, this blog has been the impetus for many a dinner table debate.

Over the course of this year, I wrote about topics that mattered to me.

Equal rights- Gay Marriage

Empathy- Still Alice

Marriage- Why Are So Many Marriage Essays Going Viral?

Parenting- Parenting Gone Well

Friendship- Friendship Matters

Sex- Masters of Sex

Education- Doodle Power

Addiction- Monkey See, Monkey Do

Writing- Writing: It Could Come Back to Bite You.

The Environment- Earth Day 2015.

I wrote about topics that peturbed me slightly- Pouting Face Emoji

And things that annoyed me greatly- A Tip for My Uber Driver.

I wrote about what I found comical- Braces: The New Chastity Belt and Are You A Control Freak Parent?

And things I feared- Fear: The Good The Bad and The Ugly.

Writing about these topics made me focus on them, and in writing Gone Girl No More, I faced my apprehension, put myself out there, and finally got headshots!

Daring greatly (I'm a Brene Brown lover) I'm posting them here.

Help me choose the new From The Core photograph so I can get rid of the blurry one on my About Page.

HEADSHOT #1

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HEADSHOT #2

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Tomorrow is the anniversary of the night my husband asked me to marry him so this is kind of a double anniversary for me.

And it’s appropriate that my blog about relationships and my marriage share an anniversary because as long as I’m married to my husband, I’ll always have plenty to write about!

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P.S. Thanks for reading!! And don’t forget to pick a headshot favorite!!

Are You Turning Into Your Mother?

BLOG- MOTHERI’m turning into my mother. That’s not a bad thing but it is curious. Mostly because I used to think we were nothing alike.

My mother is extremely organized.

I tend to be less so.

She would’ve never made the mistake I made, which is that this post is a Mother’s Day post and it should’ve been posted last Tuesday, a few days before Mother’s Day, not after; but I got confused, which I do sometimes, and that’s why the post is late, which is another way we differ because my mother is never late. And I mean never.

This is the kind of mishap that has driven my mother to call me flighty, which no one has ever called her.

My mother is disciplined and straightforward.

I am less disciplined and more artsy, which is to say emotional; or as she would say, all over the place.

So I’ve held the belief we were nothing alike.

But when we both showed up wearing the same thing on a number of occasions, I began to wonder.

In addition, I’ve begun to speak as she does, which is significant because she uses words like boondocks and expressions like…

A feather in my cap

and

The early bird catches the worm.

I start many a sentence, when I’m talking to my kids, with “As grandma would say," and then I say things like…

I’ll eat my hat

or

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

They tell me I can’t do that. They tell me if I continue to use those phrases, I can’t pretend I’m not really using them.

And I've come to realize my mother and I are alike in other ways as well. We both get nervous when we travel, don’t do well in traffic and are electronically challenged. We both love coffee and hate shopping.

But here’s the thing I’ve only recently realized about how we are much more alike than I ever before thought.

My mother was an avid tennis player, and a winner too. She played for hours in the brutal New Orleans heat throughout my childhood. And when we moved to New York in 1980, she and her mixed doubles partner were ranked (by the United States Tennis Association) number one in the east.

As a little girl, she hit tennis balls with me, teaching me the game. “It doesn’t have to be the best shot. But never give up. Just get the ball over the net one more time,” she’d say. “That’s how you win.”

What she taught me was perseverance. Yes, it takes talent and dedication to craft to be a writer but what it takes even more than those things is perseverance. I read that a number of years back, and it stuck with me; because I believe it to be true. I could’ve given up a long time ago; but I didn’t.

And that determination is paying off.

As my mother would say, the apple doesn’t fall from the tree.

Writing and Rejection

Thankfully, my novel has been getting good feedback. Really good feedback.

But I got a rejection email this week.

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Okay, I’m being dramatic. But that’s how it feels sometimes.

Nobody likes rejection.

And yet in the writing world, you are told, again and again, how getting rejected brings you one step closer to publication.

In On Writing, Stephen King says, “The nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.”

Click on this link to see a list of best sellers rejected numerous times before they made it.

It is unbelievable to think that Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times before being accepted. The novel went on to sell 30 million copies.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling received 12 rejections in a row before being accepted. The Harry Potter series set records as the fastest-selling books in history with combined sales of 450 million.

And more recently, The Help was rejected 60 times before getting published. It has become a worldwide best-seller.

It’s always tough when a rejection letter arrives but there is something to be learned: a building of muscle, gained knowledge, a repertoire of experiences that brings you, little by little, closer to publication.

This is my favorite personal rejection story. I refer back to it when I feel discouraged.

As recently as five years ago, short stories were submitted for publication to literary journals by “snail mail”, a term referring to mail delivered by the U.S. postal service.

In my Brooklyn home, there is a mail slot in the front door and every Saturday the mail is delivered at the same time, which coincides with when my family eats lunch.

When the flap on the mail slot hits the frame, it makes a loud clang. For years, every time I heard the sound, I jumped up from my seat at the table and ran to the door to retrieve the mail, hoping I’d get an acceptance letter for any of the number of short stories I’d submitted.

More often than not, I found rejection letters, which is not uncommon in the literary world. Sometimes the rejection is standardized, and on sliver of paper no thicker than a pen, and sometimes there is a note, cordial and encouraging, but nonetheless, a rejection.

Now and then, there was an acceptance letter and that intermittent reinforcement, just like a win at the slot machine, kept me hooked. And so today, even though correspondence with literary journals happens through email, when the mail slot clangs against its frame, I have to stop myself, a Pavlovian response, from running to the door.

The craving for feedback from editors and the desire for publication is intense. And so one summer when we moved to New Jersey, and had our mail forwarded, it was quite distressing when all of it was lost, and I didn’t receive a single piece of mail for over six weeks.

I worried that my dreams of publication would go unrealized if my response letters were gone for good. All that hard work: the writing and editing of the story, targeting appropriate journals, preparing cover letters and stuffing envelopes- all of it- a waste of time.

When the mail was finally found, my husband picked it from the post office. He brought it home in a black trash bag, the mail filling the bag like fallen leaves.

I set the bag on the kitchen counter and separated the bills, newsletters and invitations from the self addressed stamped envelopes that I’d sent to editors around the country.

I opened the letters, hopeful.

Note that it was unusual to receive all these responses at once but because of the mail mishap, I got this particular view.

In response to a specific short story, I got three replies, and I lined them on the counter next to one another.

1. A standard rejection letter. 2. A note saying my short story had potential and that if I was willing to do significant revisions, I could re-submit the story. 3. An acceptance letter.

One story. Three points of view.

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