Tag Archives: Barnes & Noble

The Writerly Blog Hop

3 Apr

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Huffington Post columnist and Burnside Writers Collective colleague Emily Timbol invited me to join a blog hop organized by writer Kirsten Oliphant of the wonderfully titled blog I Still Hate Pickles. You may remember that I participated in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop last year. I kind of feel like they’re the chain letters of the blog world and am infinitely curious who’s in my six degrees of separation.

Kirsten says in her “about me” section on her blog that she doesn’t like rules, so it should come as no surprise that she gave me and the other blog hoppers some general guidelines but told us we didn’t have to follow any set format or answer every question. Since I’m one of those creative types that tends to actually like rules (blame the editor side of my brain), I am taking a literal approach to the blog hop and answering her questions one by one.

 

What makes you (or makes a person) a writer?

A while back there was a funny meme going around called “What People Think Writers Do,” which shows just how relevant it is to discuss what makes a person a writer. There are all sorts of writers—some are political journalists, some write children’s books, some have their books turned into films, some are hobbyists. I don’t think it’s fair to place absolute judgment on who qualifies as a writer. There are many poets and fiction writers who only became famous late in life or even after death. Is a little girl writing in a diary a writer? What if I tell you her name is Anne Frank? Is a doctor who writes poetry on the side a writer? What if his name is William Carlos Williams? Okay, but what if that doctor is a career oncologist who writes nonfiction about cancer? Does it make a difference if his name is Siddhartha Mukherjee and he won a Pulitzer Prize for The Emperor of Maladies? Even if he never writes another book again? Is a blogger a writer? Is a grant writer a writer? Is someone a writer just because they have to write emails at work? Is there a difference between being a writer and writing? I wouldn’t say that whether someone is published or not or whether someone earns money or not means they are or are not a writer, but I would suggest that being a writer, in the sense of it meaning more than someone who occasionally writes their name on a check or writes a grocery list, means being intentional. This could mean being intention in carving out time for writing or being intentional in the selection of words, but not necessarily so: William S. Burroughs, for instance, used a cut-up technique that displaced authorial syntax yet he is still considered a writer.

So do I have the right to call myself a writer? Well, my name has appeared on book covers across the country and the New Yorker and the Paris Review have mentioned my writing. Then again, I don’t live off my writing—I didn’t even make a thousand dollars off my writing last year—and most people have never heard of me. I call myself a writer because even when I’m not writing I am thinking about writing.

 

Why is it sometimes hard to fess up to being a writer?

There are two big reasons why I sometimes have a difficult time admitting I’m a writer. The first is that when I introduce myself as a writer to people, they automatically ask who my publisher is—and I mean even people who aren’t in the industry suddenly want to know who the gatekeepers who let me through are or want some sort of proof that validates me as more than just the (in their mind) dreaded hobbyist. I feel like it’s like saying I’m a woman, and then someone asking who my gynecologist is. For the record, Barnes & Noble and HarperCollins Publishers have published books containing my writing. The truth, though, is that I sometimes don’t feel comfortable confessing to being a writer because I haven’t written, or published, a full-length book by myself—yet.

The second reason I don’t always like confessing that I’m a writer is because I am an editor. I personally feel that these two callings work well together, but I have noticed that people in publishing houses tend to think that the only reason I am an editor is because I’m trying to get published. I wish I was that savvy! The truth is that I began a career in book publishing because I love working with words. When I was starting out as a proofreader, the idea of being an author seemed like some far-off imagery dream, like being an astronaut. I always had a need to write, and even back then wrote for various publications, but I wasn’t diligently working on my own book. I really love working at a publishing house, seeing a book go from concept to finished product. I love working with authors and helping them achieve their dreams. From my experience, there are a lot of people in the industry who are editors and publishers because they love books and not because they themselves want to be writers. I just happen to be both.

 

How does writing affect your identity or otherwise impact your life?

I tend to view my experiences through the lens of being a writer. When I go to an art gallery, I automatically think that I have to write about the art I saw. When there’s a particularly momentous current event, I feel the need to write it down in my diary. It’s not just a matter of mining life for stories. I process information by writing. I often joke that I don’t really know what I think about something until I write about it.

Being a memoirist has helped me understand my identity beyond being a writer. Agents and editors tell writers that their main characters should never be a writer. But what do you do if you’re a memoirist and your main character is you, a writer? You dig deeper, you don’t allow your writerly self to speak for who you are. When you can’t rely on that shorthand of clichés about being a writer, that fancy wordwork that hides your true identity, you’re left with just yourself. Writing doesn’t just allow me to be myself—it forces me to be myself.

Want to join the blog hop? Answer the questions however you see fit on your own blog and post a link below as well as link to Kirsten’s post.

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Prepping for Hurricane Sandy

28 Oct

 

Just got word that the MTA is shutting down at 7 tonight for Hurricane Sandy.  Doesn’t make much difference to me.  I’ve been stuck sick in bed for two days.  Yesterday, started out well enough.  I went to Barnes & Noble and got a Pumpkin Spice latte and Dutch Apple cheesecake and then braved the grocery store.  Grocery shopping in New York City is always a nightmare with too many people and tight aisles, but yesterday was nuts as people were preparing for the storm.  It was like trying to shop the day before Thanksgiving.  I bought ingredients to make broccoli soup from a recipe out of one of the cookbooks I edited and fortunately made it before I got to feeling too sick so now I don’t have to cook at all.  I can just sit in bed and watch a million episodes of Color Splash, my favorite interior decorating show, and dream up my perfect home.

Are you prepared for Hurricane Sandy?

If you’re like me and totally unprepared for any sort of emergency and don’t own a flashlight, shame on you!  By now, all the flashlights are gone.  Even finding candles in the drugstores is getting hard.  Get creative.  Barnes & Noble* sells a wide variety of battery-operated reading lights.  Just because it’s for reading, doesn’t mean you can’t use it to find your can opener if the lights go out.

While you’re there, pick up the Barnes & Noble* ereader the nook if you don’t already have one.  Charge it up pronto and download some books.  If the power is out for a long time, you’ll have plenty of reading material.  My book recommendation is Jack Kerouac’s Dr. Sax perfect for Halloween.

It’s still a good idea to have some candles on hand.  If you can’t find any at the drugstore or grocery store, that’s okay.  Class it up with some scented candles from Bath & Body Works.  I picked up the Cranberry Woods and Lemon ones during their 2-for-1 sale.

Speaking of scents, if we don’t have access to water that means you won’t be able to shower.  I suggest some perfume or body splash to keep you smelling fresh.  I’ve got Bath & Body Works‘ Plumeria body splash (which always makes me think of my Hawaiian friend from undergrad).

Now you may not be able to wash your hair but you can use an oil-absorbing dry shampoo.  I’ve used the TRESemme dry shampoo with mixed results.  That said, I do favor their regular shampoo and condition.  And, they don’t test on animals.

Another great animal- and eco-friendly company is The Body Shop, where I’ve been shopping since middle school.  I love the Tea Tree Oil line, and today stocked up on their cleansing wipes in case I won’t have access to water to wash my face.

While at The Body Shop, I also picked up anti-bacterial hand sanitzers in my most favorite scents satsuma and pink grapefruit.  I normally advise against these sorts of anti-bacterial hand sanitizers because I fear using it will lead to the creation of a resistant super-bug, but hey, you’ve got to have clean hands somehow if there isn’t good old-fashioned soap and water.  Plus these ones smell amazing, unlike some brands that smell like rubbing alcohol.

If you wear contacts, keep your stylish glasses in an easy to locate place.  In fact, make a to-go bag of all your critical necessities (medication, keys, cash, etc.).

Now in terms of food, non-perishables does not have to mean SPAM!  There are lots of great foods that are either non-perishable or that don’t require cooking.  Go Greek with canned domathes, Kalamata olive spread, raw almonds, honey on bread, and sesame candies.

How are you staying storm stylin’?

 

*I work for a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble.

Happy Birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

27 Oct

Happy birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

On October 27, 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was born right here in New York City.  I had the opportunity to visit his birth home a few years ago and write the introduction to his classic book Hunting the Grisly and Other Stories, published by the Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading.

I am opposed to hunting for sport, and in my introduction I highlight the fact that although Roosevelt was a hunter he was also a conservationist who set up fifty-one wildlife refuges.

Roosevelt’s Hunting the Grisly is available for purchase in both paperback and ebook format.

Gripster: Storm Stylin’

26 Aug

 

Hey all you hurricane hipsters, hopefully Hurricane Irene will blow out to the ocean and this whole state-of-emergency situation will have just been the government’s effort to revitalize the economy through the mass purchase of flashlights (you know us Greeks love our conspiracy theories) but just in case here are some tips for staying storm styling during Hurricane Irene:::

If you’re like me and totally unprepared for any sort of emergency and don’t own a flashlight, shame on you!  By now, all the flashlights are gone.  Even finding candles in the drugstores is getting hard.  Get creative.  Barnes & Noble* is a tranquil oasis right now, and they just so happen to sell a wide variety of battery-operated reading lights.  Just because it’s for reading, doesn’t mean you can’t use it to find your can opener if the lights go out.

While you’re there, pick up the Barnes & Noble* ereader the nook if you don’t already have one.  Charge it up pronto and download some books.  If the power is out for a long time, you’ll have plenty of reading material.

It’s still a good idea to have some candles on hand.  If you can’t find any at the drugstore or grocery store, that’s okay.  Class it up with some scented candles from Bath & Body Works.  I picked up the Cranberry Woods one during the winter holiday sale and am loving it; right now their summer scents are on sale.  (PS: I’m obsessed with the Black Currant Vanilla aromatherapy line, if you ever want to buy me a you’re-my-favorite-blogger gift.  But that could be weird if I don’t know you.  Hm, never mind.)

Speaking of scents, if we don’t have access to water that means you won’t be able to shower.  I suggest some perfume or body splash to keep you smelling fresh.  I’ve got Bath & Body Works‘ Plumeria body splash (which always makes me think of my Hawaiian friend from undergrad) and Zara‘s Creme (which my sister gave me).  And remember, just because you can’t shower doesn’t mean you shouldn’t reapply your deoderant.

Now you may not be able to wash your hair but you can use an oil-absorbing dry shampoo.  I’ve used the TRESemme dry shampoo with mixed results.  That said, I do favor their regular shampoo and condition.  And, they don’t test on animals.

Another great animal- and eco-friendly company is The Body Shop, where I’ve been shopping since middle school.  I love the Tea Tree Oil line, and today stocked up on their cleansing wipes in case I won’t have access to water to wash my face.  Bonus: there’s a buy 2 get 1 free sale on select lines right now at The Body Shop.

While at The Body Shop, I also picked up anti-bacterial hand sanitzers in my most favorite scents satsuma and pink grapefruit.  I normally advise against these sorts of anti-bacterial hand sanitizers because I fear using it will lead to the creation of a resistant super-bug, but hey, you’ve got to have clean hands somehow if there isn’t good old-fashioned soap and water.  Plus these ones smell amazing, unlike some brands that smell like rubbing alcohol.

If you wear contacts, keep your stylish glasses in an easy to locate place.  In fact, make a to-go bag of all your critical necessities (medication, keys, cash, etc.).

Now in terms of food, non-perishables does not have to mean SPAM!  The Village Voice published a great piece called “How to Stock Up for Irene: A Gourmet Guide to Hoarding.”  And all you Gripsters (Greek hipsters) will be happy to know they call stuffed grape leaves (ahem, dolmathes) ” the queen of canned vegetable matter.”  A shout out to my Swedish side, they also suggest Swedish hardtack.

I’m getting word via social media that the Trader Joe‘s line is crazy insane right now (which, really, is nothing new), but another great Greek food to have on hand is the Trader Joe’s Kalamata olive spread.  If you get it fresh in Astoria like you normally would it will need to be refrigerated, which isn’t good if the power goes out.  But the Trader Joe’s version doesn’t need to be refrigerated til after it’s opened.

Nutella!

Have some nuts on hand for protein.  Unsalted is best so you don’t drink all your water.

Instead of potato chips, why not veggie chips?  I got mine from Gourmet Garage.

I couldn’t find a single jug of water.  But you know what I could find?  Perrier.  Now I can feel fancy during the storm.  And to ghetto it up, before the storm hits, fill up your Brita water filter, travel mugs, coffee pots, flower vases, sauce pots, you name it, with tap water just in case.

I’ve seen a lot of people buying alcohol.  Not to sound like your yiayia but I’d caution against drinking alcohol during Hurricane Irene.  Not only will it dehydrate you, causing you to drink more of whatever precious water you have, but should you need to evacuate you need to be as clear-headed as possible.

You should indulge in something though.  I recommend chocolate!  My friend Sally gave me a milk-chocolate bark and a dark-chocolate bark from Jacques Torres Chocolate.  Let’s not forget about the Greek American chocolate brand Chocolate Moderne I mentioned in my recap of the Gabby Awards after party.  Gourmet chocolate won’t prevent the hurricane but if you’re stuck inside your apartment during torrential rains you might as well eat something sinfully delicious.

How are you staying storm stylin’?

 

*I work for a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble.

A Chat with My Editor Brings Exciting News

1 Apr

Had a great chat with my former editor last week.  He told me about some great events at Cornelia Street Café;  I told him about a reading by a political prisoner I attended at The New School.

He also let me in on some exciting news::: the ebook edition of A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains—letters by Isabella Bird, introduction by yours truly—is currently one of his bestsellers!

 

 

Obviously, I’m happy on a personal and professional level, but I’m also happy because Isabella Bird’s story is so beautiful and inspiring and it deserves a wider audience.  The short of it is that Bird left the comforts of home in Victorian England to travel by herself through the rough terrain of America’s Rocky Mountains.  As I wrote in my introduction to the book, “Whether you’re interested in nature, the history of the Rocky Mountain region, travel writing, Christianity, or women’s studies, Bird’s simple yet provocative letters will entertain your imagination.”

I’d say that’s worth the $1.99 for the nook book!