2023 goals

One of my goals this year is to improve my “social fitness,” a term coined by Dr. Robert Waldinger & Dr. Marc Schultz in their new book: The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. Available on January 10, the book distills the ongoing 85-year study tracking 724 participants and their descendants to determine what constitutes human happiness. One of the clear findings was that strong relationships and the bonds they create make for a happy life.

After experiencing a shift in my mental state due to pandemic isolation, losing friends to polarized politics, and adapting to plunging temperatures after a major move from a warmer clime, I discovered my “social fitness” factor had fallen into negative territory. Apparently, according to the above authors, social fitness, like physical fitness, can, if neglected, atrophy over time. Mine was as flabby as my arms and as weak as my cardio.

So when the New York Times’s Well desk offered subscribers the opportunity to participate in their 7-Day Happiness Challenge, I didn’t hesitate. What better way to start the New Year than to discover tools alleviating despair and the feeling, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling.

On today’s Day One, I completed a quiz to determine the strength (or lack thereof) of my relationships. As I suspected, outside of immediate family, and friends who live far from me, my score regarding relationships with neighbors or people living within my community, sucked.

How to remedy this? Simple. As an extroverted introvert, I’ve decided this is the year the extrovert in me will find an opportune moment to smother the introvert in me with a pillow. Then, maybe, I will find the courage to step out and create new connections. Stay tuned.

What are your 2023 goals?

How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: Zero. They’re too busy sitting in the dark with their laptops, tapping out rewrites.

And that, my friends, is why you haven’t heard from me.

I have absolutely nothing interesting to report, except to quote Hemingway, an author who famously agonized over every sentence, that “the only kind of writing is rewriting.”

When I embraced the writerly life late in life, I thought it would be a refreshing change from my previous career as a model and actor. Those jobs required a zen-like approach to a life that was either careening at full-tilt or skidding to a screeching halt.

Since then, I’ve learned that writing is no different; the creative high is great, but the lows are what will kill you.

The good news is the manuscript edits, copy-editing, and proofreading are behind me; it’s now out of my control and up to my readers to decide.

Next on the agenda is to emerge from a three-year, hermetic existence and suddenly become a marketing genius on social media. On the platform of my choice—FB, IG, TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, whatever—my publisher expects me to miraculously burst forth, drawing thousands of followers with my unique mission statement. On what grounds or by what message, I’m not exactly sure. A TikTok boomer dancing to “Moves like Jagger?” An aging Instagram model, weeping and baring her soul? A silver-haired Facebook vigilante trumpeting silver-is-the-new-blond? Oh wait, all of that is already out there.


Maybe I’ll take a cue from an episode on Seinfeld, where George and Jerry pitch their show as a show about…

Absolutely nothing.

I sold my book. Now what?

After announcing to friends, family, and social media earlier this year I’d sold my memoir, many expressed surprise when they learned the publication date was set for almost a year later, in spring ’23. Why such a long lead time, you ask? You’re in good company! I asked that very question myself.

Naively, I thought that after slaving (for years!) writing my book, then landing an agent, and ultimately selling it to a publisher, my travails were over. I could hand over my masterpiece to more capable hands. Freed from responsibility, I would sit back and relax while I waited for the hardcover to show up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and every other bookstore in the land. Wrong! 

Instead, the scenario went more like this. After my contract was signed, sealed, and delivered (which took six weeks), I had to abide by the contractual word count, which was 25,000 words less than my manuscript. Mind you, my first draft at 160,000 words was brutally and mercilessly edited (with the help of a stellar freelance editor) down to 135,000. I edited it yet again to 120,000. The last edit down to 95,000 words happened AFTER my announcement, as I worked from morning till night for four straight months, to maintain the narrative.

Any day I’m expecting a red-lined, crossed-out copy of my manuscript to show up in my email because other published authors have told me this would happen. I won’t be surprised by my editor’s markups, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he will feel I delivered as promised.

Mind you, while this has been a tough education, I would gladly suffer the process all over again! I learned more about myself, relationships, and life from writing than I did from all the decades of therapy. Stay tuned for more of my adventure!

The journey begins!

How one’s life can change in a few months! Since my last post, I sold my book. A year from now, Heritage will make its debut, and when it does, my wish will be that it touches my readers in some small way. True success is when your readers make your story theirs.

The girl in the photograph

Reflections of my teenage self

I was going to post this on my birthday, but the day got away from me and after two celebratory martinis at dinner, I was in no shape to write anything.   

The photo you see is more important than any modeling picture because it’s the only one that exists of me at that age. It was taken in Panama fifty years ago. I was seventeen. Wow. Just writing that throws me into panic mode. What happened to all those decades? I literally blinked…or fell asleep, Rip Van Winkle style, and suddenly, I’m in my sixth decade. I still feel just like the girl in the photograph and yet, my exterior belies it. 

After many years of false starts, in January of 2019 I sat down and wrote the story behind the photo. It was a period in my life that would define my character, shape my world, and alter the trajectory of my life.  

For more than a year I wrote every day, from dawn to dusk, surfacing occasionally to eat, sleep, and reassure myself that my husband and daughter hadn’t left me. When friends asked about my whereabouts, I told them I’d been busy writing. “Oh, about modeling?” they asked. “No,” I was quick to respond. While I’d been fortunate to experience a decades long career in the fashion industry and had spent half my life in front of the camera, it was the girl in the photo who interested me. Besides, unlike the exciting exploits of supermodels like Paulina, Christie, and Maye (mother of Elon) who have written about their rock star lives, seamless careers, and raising rocket geniuses, my modeling memoir would be more in keeping with Lemony Snicket’s, A Series of Unfortunate Events.  

After completing a gut-wrenching year of writing, I was fortunate enough to find representation  with a NY literary agent. For writers who desire traditional publication, literary agents are the gatekeepers in the publishing world. So, landing one is like having Simon Cowell hit the golden buzzer. When the confetti rains down, you are suddenly legitimized and granted access to a world that, heretofore, has remained inaccessible. 

I signed my contract a day before COVID hit the US. I don’t need to elaborate what happened next. The new normal arrived and never left. The publishing world was upended, along with plans for my book. 

In order to survive the disappointment and ignore the temptation to slit my wrists, I had to learn to pivot. I’m lucky in that I had a child late in life. Raising a teen has taught me the importance of remaining open and flexible and to always expect the unexpected. 

Twenty years ago, losing a publication deal after getting so close to the finish line would have devastated me. Fortunately, along with all the bad stuff this pandemic has caused, there are some positive things that have come along. I’ve learned to appreciate even the tiniest of victories and the sense of satisfaction I derive from those small successes. In other words, I’m grateful. And it is that feeling of gratitude that turns a feeling of failure into one of challenge, and one of challenge into one of action and one of action into one of manifestation. It may take me a bit longer than I thought to share my story but for now, it’s enough that the girl in the photo is more than just a face in a faded photograph. 

Five lessons I learned while writing my memoir

If writing and publishing your life story is on your bucket list, here are five things to keep in mind as you begin your journey.

1.Consistency. Just like exercise, all it takes is thirty minutes to experience the benefits. Work. At. It. Every. Day.

2.Time. It’s gonna take much longer than you imagine, so you might as well enjoy the ride. You’ll be surprised at all the interesting scenery you missed the first time around.

3.Nix therapy. Revisiting history and capturing it on the page will exorcise the past.

4.Kill the critic. Writing the truth, without harming others, automatically resets one’s moral compass. Leave interpretation or judgement to your readers.

5.Celebrate the good, the bad, and the ugly. Everyone has a story worth telling.

Are you ready to share yours?

On the road again…

July 14, 2020. My last post before today’s update. So much has happened in the world since then. The pandemic is worse. Death tolls are climbing. Hospitals are at full capacity. Then there’s the election. Results were contested. Rioters stormed the capitol. Now, an impeachment. Friends telling friends to take a flying leap because their world views are no longer navigable.

For my family, this tumultuous time made our state’s dismal educational offerings even more glaringly obvious. As the new school year approached and the realization that nothing was going to improve, we sold our home and moved. As many of you have probably experienced, moving can be highly stressful. It ranks right up there with divorce, death, and public speaking. Thankfully, although we nearly came to blows during the move, my husband and I are still married, and so far, friends and family are still alive and kicking. As far as public speaking, well, no one’s doing much of that these days.

Although the above events are topics for a blog other than mine, it’s my explanation (and excuse) for going AWOL. There just was too much shit going on. I used to be a great multitasker but now I’m lucky if I can start, much less finish, the one thing in front of me. Something had to give.

Fortunately, the one thing I did plug away at was my book.

When my editor and I first met over Zoom in late July, she suggested I send her my manuscript. “Before we attempt to work on the proposal,” she told me, “I really need to understand what your book is about.” I emailed it to her and during August and the beginning of September, she read and edited. The day the movers arrived, I received the edited version. Page after page was marked and highlighted, showing her cuts, edits and suggestions. Now, it was my turn. I had to take the first nine scrapped chapters and insert all of the pertinent back story throughout the rest of the book. IN OTHER WORDS, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

As the movers worked around me, I wrote. Driving to our new state, I wrote. In-between cooking, cleaning, and laundry, I wrote. Trying to find a new house, I wrote. Moving into our new house, I wrote. In-between buying, wrapping, and sending Christmas gifts, I wrote. Every moment I could scrounge and claim as my own, I wrote. Finally, on December 31st, I hit the “send” button on my computer.

Who knows what’s in store for this coming year, but I hope you’ll stick it out with me. My goal, especially with this blog, has been to offer you a ride in the passenger’s seat as I drive blind-folded, careening around curves and flying over hills, in pursuit of a dream. While I can’t sway anyone to think differently about politics or religion or whatever else is on their mind, I sure hope to hell (or heaven) you enjoy the ride.

Is optimism overrated?

My mother affectionately called me her “Wednesday’s child,” which lent a subtle informing to my young self that because I’d been born on that fateful day my woeful and dark perspective of life was to be expected. It never occurred to me that one could, like the Monty Python song, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

Imagine my surprise when, during the writing of my memoir, I discovered my mother’s poor recall! Instead of fulfilling a legacy “full of woe,” I was really a Friday’s child–born to a life “full of loving and giving.” To think that I could have been embracing Eric Idle’s tune all these years, smiling and laughing and slugging down a half-full pint of life. Was it too late after all this time to rid myself of a half-empty attitude and roll back the cynicism acquired after decades living as a hardcore New Yorker?

I’d exchanged it all for a relaxed, beachside Florida lifestyle four years ago where, frankly, with miles of white sand and blue ocean and tropical breezes, it’s difficult to be anything but happy.

I was on track to delete my hard-wired world view until the Voldemort of viruses descended on the sunshine state, pitting wizard against muggle (you decide who’s who) in a struggle over fact and fiction.

Until that plays out, with each side attempting to discount the other, I’ve decided to maintain my status quo. Full of woe, I awake, dress, and reluctantly hop on my beach bike and peddle in the dark to catch the morning sunrise.

Father’s Day

“To you your father should be as a god.” (1.1.47 A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare)

my father, age 28

Today is Father’s Day and there will be a constant stream of posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, videos on YouTube, and even dance routines on TicTok, all celebrating the great dads of the world.

This post is for those whose dads were less than stellar.

It’s a celebration of sorts to show that even though our fathers fell far short of the claims that others will be making throughout the day–as their hero, loving Pop, first love, patient dad, funny patriarch, wise sage, best father ever–we can honor and pay tribute to ourselves for having grown up without a father’s warm and protective embrace. It’s made us strong and resilient and fearless. So for that, I say thank you, Dad.

Shaken, not stirred

This week, more than just my celebratory martini was “shaken, not stirred.” While my desire has been to share my book journey toward publishing with as much transparency as possible–including detailing and revealing every success or failure–the roller coaster of events that played out almost daily this past week gave me pause for thought. Last Friday evening, after weeks of revisions, I submitted my proposal to my agent. Celebrating with my cocktail of choice, I settled back to enjoy my weekend and the satisfaction of a job well done. Or so I thought.

The death knell sounded on Sunday afternoon when I received an email from my agent, who three months ago, before the world changed, was broadcasting how great my story was and how it was not only going be bought by publishers but also bought as a film or series to one of the networks. Funny how a little pandemic can change everything.

In less than 30 seconds, it all vanished when I read the words, “This new market condition forces me to withdraw from representing you . . . ” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to scream or cry, so I did both . . . at the same time. It was not a pretty picture.

Now, I could continue this thread by reporting I fell into a pool of despair, railing against the world, and vowing never to write again, but who wants to read about that, especially in today’s world where there are far more pressing and important issues.

Instead, it was time to put on my big-girl pants and figure out my next step.

Taking my now ex-agent up on his offer to help me (short of representation!), I set up a call for the next day. My goal was twofold: To find out why my proposal failed to light the necessary fire my agent said he needed in order to pitch my book and to have him recommend an editor for hire.

“I do have someone in mind, but she’s expensive,” he said. When he told me how much, I wondered if I could scrape up enough cash among the three credit cards that weren’t maxed out. “She’ll bring your proposal up to the standard you need to compete with established, professional authors like Tara Westover.”

“Done,” I replied. Considering I’d been admonished for originally pitching my book as Educated on a boat, unaware the publishing world considered Westover’s memoir as a tour de force literary masterpiece, it seemed like a tall order to fill. Either that or this editor had super powers.

“I’ll have to give her your proposal and see if she’ll even work with you,” he added. Nothing like kicking you when you’re down, I thought. Thank god I spent thirty years as a model and actor, toughening up with industry clients who were as mean as snakes.

“I really appreciate you doing this for me,” I said and added, “because whatever happens, I’m determined to get my book published.”

“If she decides to take you on and your final proposal gets the punch-up it needs, I’ll pitch the book in September.”

Say what??? Will wonders never cease! Guess he didn’t tear up my contract, after all. One more one-eighty along my journey.

Yesterday, after signing a work-for-hire contract to protect my intellectual property, I sent off my check, plunging me further in debt, but in turn landing me a real live editor.

Tonight, I’m having another martini, but this time, stirred.