Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Okay, so I've been saying for years now that I need to get a professional website for my writing. I'm not a web designer by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm a big-time do-it-yourselfer. If I don't know how to do something, I want to learn. I read a bit about it, and then I dive in headfirst. That doesn't always provide me with the best results, but it does teach me a lot and keeps my mind fresh. If I go to a restaurant and like a dish, I go home and try to recreate it. If I get my hair cut and I hate it, I break out the scissors at home. If my clothing needs a nip or tuck to hang better, out come the needle and thread. I just like to do things myself and I like to have them done my way. My most common refrain is, "I bet I can do that." Don't know where such cheeky chutzpah comes from (I'm guessing from my father), but there it is.

And so, here is my newly created, still-evolving professional website thanks to a couple of looong sessions at GoDaddy.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Everything Matters!

Ron Currie Jr.'s new novel is about to be released and--lucky you--you can download and read the first chapter over at his website for free.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sotto Voce

I am thrilled and honored to have my short story "Thunderstones" appear at Sotto Voce.

And at the end of the story, if you've liked it, you can vote to have it included in the annual print anthology. What a cool idea. Let the readers decide. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Launch!!

No, not the space shuttle--Women Up On Blocks! It may be three months post-publication, but this was the official party to celebrate the launch of my short story collection.

Signing books. There are bright red shoes you can't see, and matching bright red shoe earrings.

The launch started at 6PM. The signature drink--The Red Stiletto--had its own table and looked great: fancy martini glasses (long stemmed, with crooked, blue glass stems), a tub of ice with pitchers of red stilettos and my postcards with the recipe on them. It's a yummy and beautiful drink, garnished with a fresh red raspberry. Recipe here. (Scroll down the page.)

I ended up reading at about 6:30, because we wanted there to be time for desserts and signing. It turned out to be a good decision. The door prizes were well-received. At least one woman yelled "whoo hoo!" and threw her arms in the air when her number was called. :)

Then I read for about 20 minutes. People had to gather in, the chairs were filled, the stairs to the loft were packed with people sitting close together on them, the hearth had people sitting on it, and some were standing. Afterward, there were a number of excellent questions and comments. Desserts were lovely: cake squares, cheesecake, a lovely, fresh trifle, and a silver-tiered stand of various cookies. (I didn't see any of this for quite a while because I was signing books and talking to people.)

Here's the location from the outside, the beautiful, historic Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, NY. A big thanks to Christine Peters, Martha Augate, and their amazing staff for hosting such a lovely event.

It was all over so quickly, I felt like Cinderella not wanting that midnight bell to chime. Wait! Everyone's leaving?? I'm just starting to enjoy myself!

It took a lot of work and planning, but it was worth every minute. Thanks to all those who attended. :)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Oceana and Ted Danson

Oceana is working with Ted Danson to save the world's oceans. CNN reports on their collaboration for World Ocean Day. Full article here.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Search for Downed Plane Highlights Ocean Trash Problem

The tragic disappearance of Air France's Flight 447 has highlighted another, ongoing tragedy: the terrible pollution in the world's oceans. It's awful that it took a disaster of this magnitude to bring this important issue to the world stage, but if something good can come out of such a terrible loss, I'm hoping this is it.

CNN Website

Here is an excerpt:

"The search for signs of the Air France flight highlights what environmentalists say is a pressing issue for the world today: We produce a lot of trash that biodegrades slowly, and too much of it ends up in the ocean. Out at sea, plastics suffocate sea turtles and choke birds, which look at the bits of floating gunk as food.

Endangered sea turtles become entangled in discarded fishing line and also ingest plastic bags, like those from grocery stores, said Bamford.

"They love to eat jellyfish, and when they see a plastic bag it looks exactly like a jellyfish, basically," she said.

Still, scientists say they know relatively little about the scope of the problem and the effects that trash has on ocean life.

Finding answers to those unknowns is among the current initiatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Holly Bamford, director of the U.S. agency's marine debris program.

Enough is known about ocean trash to know that it's time to act, she said.

"It's a global problem. You can go do a collection almost anywhere and you'll probably come up with a piece of debris in your sample. The question is what all is out there and what is it doing," she said. "It's something that needs to be addressed."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Jessica Handler's Notes from the Road

Mary has asked me to guest blog this week, and to talk a little bit about the evolution and execution of my book tour.

Let's start at Gate A 18, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta; my hometown airport. I'm on my way to New York to participate in an author meet-and-greet to get my book Invisible Sisters: A Memoir considered for a series of book fairs. (Thanks to T. the Terrific Publicist, who got me hooked up with this event.)

My presentation will be timed, like speed dating. I've practiced the presentation with a stopwatch, tested it on friends, driven my patient husband a little crazy. I'm still not happy with my performance. Scrolling through my iPod while I wait to board, I discover that iPods have stopwatches.

I'll bet you already knew that.

This means I can practice on the plane. Quietly.

The playlist for when I wasn't timing and retiming myself?
In flight - Brian Eno 'Ambient.' (I was writing. I need lyrics-free music.)
In the terminal - David Lindley, 'El Rayo Ex.'.

As the April publication date for Invisible Sisters: A Memoir grew closer, I was told that, "The economy being what it is, and me being a new author--"
"Oh," I interrupted. "I understand." No big tour.

Truth is, I hadn't expected one--me being a new author and the economy being what it is...and when I signed the contract with my publisher, my agent advised me to put some money aside for travel. She was right. (She's always right. Seriously.)

T. the Publicist is great at getting my book into the hands of the press, to bookstores, to Websites, and to Book Festivals. But she wanted my suggestions about places where I can read and do author talks.

Places I can drive to.

Last month, M. and I drove to Asheville for an author talk at Malaprop's, about three hours away. We've always traveled well together, and road trips--what my sister Sarah called 'toad rips'-- become our together-time.

Asheville Playlist: Mofro, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sophie Madeleine,
John Lennon, Nichols and May.

Coming up? Winston-Salem. New playlist. New snacks. Call the cat sitter.

Soon? Ohio, Nashville, and more Atlanta events!

Am I tired? You bet. Am I happy? Heck, yeah. Do I know what day it is? Not always.

One of the best things about traveling to promote Invisible Sisters: A Memoir is reconnecting with friends and family all over the country, and making new friends, too. I've discovered how generous people can be. (They want to help you promote your book! They're readers and book lovers! They like to have dinner out!) S. has a big comfy couch and is walking distance to a great coffee shop. E. has a busy, multi-lingual household where I can nap mid-day and stay up late over dinner. J. knows a terrific tiny restaurant in her town that made room for twelve pals.

Friends bring friends to readings. Word of mouth sells books.

So here are my tips for your 'big book tour.'

Get enough sleep. Pack simple clothes. Take photos, draw, keep a journal.
Carry business cards or your book's postcards. Collect receipts for everything. Note your book-related mileage. Eavesdrop for fun. (The best eavesdropping so far? "The food's great at [redacted] but the feng shui is terrible!") Send postcards to your cat or dog at home. Ask friends to tell friends about your book. Buy something at the bookstores where you're reading, even if it's some note cards or a cup of coffee.

Send thank you notes.

Enjoy yourself.