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April 5, 2007

Spring Break on the Outer Banks

Posted by admin

I never seem to get fully away on vacations. Instead I usually just move work locations and reply to email a lot more slowly while getting more reading/knitting/relaxing in than usual. It's why I love going down to the Outer Banks. The beach is a short bike ride away, the deck is steps from the door and I can work for a couple of hours a day in a more relaxing setting. I love my work and thus really never feel a need to totally disconnect from it though pulling back is just heavenly. And having time to read without interruption is a total pleasure.

I started the week by finishing off LITTLE PINK SLIPS by Sally Koslow. You may know that my years were proceeded by 17 years at Conde Nast. Thus when I am reading a roman a clef about the magazine industry I can tell when the writing is dead on and fact-based since to me that is critical to the story. This one totally delivers. You may have caught the terrific piece in USA Today on Tuesday about LITTLE PINK SLIPS and other books in this "genre." I am quoted as talking about how these books are fun reads since people like to get "behind the curtain" on industries like fashion and publishing and scratch at the "perfect" veneer.

Sally and I worked together briefly at Mademoiselle and thus connecting with her again over this book has been a treat. She really nails both the business and editorial sides of the magazine with great humor. Her writing is terrific and the story flows extremely well showing her years of edit experience as well her efforts to deliver a terrific debut fiction work. By the way during my time at Conde Nast there were many moments when people would say, "this would make a great book or story," but none of us wrote them. Thus reading these books now is a lot of fun. LITTLE PINK SLIPS is in stores next week.

Then it was onto Mindy Schneider's NOT A HAPPY CAMPER. Mindy worked with me years ago at Mademoiselle, as a rover at Conde Nast, which is what the company called interns. By her own description Mindy was not ummmm...the best....of interns. Her typing skills were lacking, but her sense of humor, self-deprecating and otherwise was a welcome addition around a place where people took themselves and fashion much much too seriously.

Mindy left the magazine for LA and wrote for sitcoms there where her sense of comedic timing really found a home. We kept in touch over the years and when she finished her first draft of her memoir, NOT A HAPPY CAMPER I was only too happy to read it. I later introduced her to her now agent, Dan Lazar. On the drive down to North Carolina I usually hand my older son a book to read; it's become somewhat of a tradition. Last spring it was THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS; last August it was FOR ONE MORE DAY.

This time Mindy's book found its way into the back seat. He laughed, chuckled and kept telling me how much fun it was. His reaction prompted me to read it again and I once again was caught up in Mindy's world as a thirteen-year-old at a Jewish summer camp in Maine. If you've been to camp, you will love it. I have never been to camp, but still loved it since it really captures the emotions and pressures of being an adolescent. Though set in the '70s the experiences today probably are not too far off! I look forward to sharing this one with readers after it comes out on May 28th. For the record, I saw Mindy with some of her camp friends last summer and their recounting of those summer experiences was a wonderfully fun voyueristic activity for me.

Next up was THE REINCARNATIONIST by M.J. Rose, which is coming out in September. I took an early read on this one since I have liked her past books and this one is getting buzz as being a "bigger book" with a multi-layered story. It is...and it completely delivers.

M.J. and I are good friends and thus I have been hearing background on this book for months, including snippets from the extensive research she has done into reincarnation. Last week in Charlottesville she was sharing some more stories with me and our friend Mayapriya Long, who has studied many of the Eastern religions. Hearing the two of them comparing notes and references had my head going even before I started reading. The idea of reincarnation is a fascinating premise and the way it is written here it makes for a great story. Readers have something to look forward to.

When I was in Charlottesville, I met Barry Eisler and asked him to send me his upcoming book (in stores in June), REQUIEM FOR AN ASSASIN. He kindly did and I spent the last 24 hours in the company of his character, John Rain. Rain is billed as "a contract killer with a conscience" and he definitely reads that way. What's interesting is that this is the sixth book in a series and it's written so well that I was not "lost." It worked for me as a standalone as he did a brilliant job of weaving in the backstory that made it feel natural. I look forward to delving into his previous books at some point but without urgency. Rain travels the world in this book as he is asked to make three "hits." Little does he know that only two are real; the third will be his own death.

The pacing and action are brisk, the scenes are vivid, and well choreographed. The relationship between Rain and his female attraction, Delilah, strikes a emotional soft chord and actually shows an inner strength to Rain. Good reading.

Next up will be Joseph Finder's POWER PLAY, which is due to be published on August 7th. My older son, who loves Finder's writing has a firm grasp on this one, but I am going to take advantage of his touring around today to snag it back. Unless he took it in the car, which knowing my son, may just be possible. I have enjoyed Finder's previous three books and have been hearing great things about this one.

Beyond that I am looking forward to NINETEEN MINUTES by Jodi Picoult. I always love Jodi's writing and thus have been saving this one for this trip. Given its status on the bestseller lists, I see I am not alone in loving her writing.

There was a piece in the New York Times earlier this week about getting new authors out to meet with the media in advance of their work being published. I met Jodi further along in her career (about 3 or four books ago) and I can attest to the power of those kinds of conversations. When I read her or about about her now I still can picture our conversation at a media lunch thrown on her behalf. She spoke extensively about her research and writing and her passion was so clear. I liked that.

What else is going on here? The weather has been amazing...well into the 80s a couple of days so I have made good use of the patio furniture. The sun is shining today even though it's cooler. I am knitting a shawl in these shades of periwinkle that I am crazy about with a yarn that actually is comprised of about 20 different fibers knotted together from a line called Prism Cool Stuff. There is a happy surprise as I knit and see how it comes together. I also am finishing off the sleeves on a summer sweater.

Yesterday I made my pilgrimage over to Knitting Addiction in Southern Shores and happily caught up with Jeanne and Brittany there and oh yeah, bought some yarn to make a sweater. Yes, I am a sucker for a trunk show. Sorta like the sample sales when I was in the fashion biz, but this time it always fits. They are winding the yarn I bought for me so I will stop by and get that later today. And um....maybe buy something else?

I cooked a dinner from ONE SPICE TWO SPICE, which is one of my favorite new cookbooks. And then worked it off doing water aerobics led by Jamie Layton, who is one of our reviewers and also the manager of Duck's Cottage, a terrific small bookshop in Duck. She's reading Lisa See's upcoming book, PEONY IN LOVE, and her comments about it had me writing to get a advance copy yesterday. The house here is one of my favorites (there are a few that we rent) with a great office where I am writing this blog. It's tucked away in a corner on the first floor and has become a favorite escape place for me this trip to check email and write. I have 250 pages of a novel written and abandoned for about five years now. If I ever want to finish it, this would be the perfect place to write.

Also discovered a very cool DVD vending machine at the Harris Teeter food store here where you can rent a DVD for a day for $1. Last night we watched BLOOD DIAMOND, which we all enjoyed. Next up THE DEPARTED, which has a "long wait" on our queue at Netflix. This definitely is a nice supplement to the three Netflix titles we brought.

Signing off now to ride my bike....then...the hot tub.....