Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh the irony

Let it be noted that I am NOT a fan of Oprah. Don't watch her, don't pay any particular attention to what she says. But yesterday at the gym, I forgot to take a magazine, so I went to the cardio room's magazine rack. It looks like a doctor's office -- a bunch of magazines, most of them old and beat up. The only one I hadn't read was Oprah's (well, it was between that and a magazine about hunting and guns, and it was a tough choice). O won because I was intrigued by her summer reading recommendations. I'm always curious to see what books get highlighted (rarely anything I would read).

As I said I'm not a fan of the Goddess of Lake Michigan, I don't pay much attention to her book club. If I pick up something with the sticker on it, it is because I like the author or had wanted to read the book on its own merits. The only time I read a book because someone tells me to is for my own book group or for English classes. But it's no secret her picks become super best sellers. I can't tell you, though, how many times someone has read one of the picks but said, "I really couldn't stand the book, but I must be wrong."

So I get to this article on recommended summer books, and in the very first paragraph the writer tells the reader that everybody has different tastes in books and that's okay! I laughed out loud right there on the treadmill. For years, Oprah has touted her favorite books like the Pied Piper and the rats, I mean the audience, lined up to buy it. Because if Oprah says it is good, it is good. (Now I think it would have been more interesting if a random audience member was allowed to pick the next book.)

The author of the article is right, of course. We should all embrace our reading differences. No problem in trying something new but life is too short to waste it on something you don't think you'll like.

Although I may take up one of the suggestions. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens. It's been on my shelf forever and it's about time I read some Dickens again. Or maybe I'll read Bleak House. Or Nicholas Nickleby. Or reread Copperfield for the millionth time. Because that's what I like.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Positive Signs

To say the past year has been bleak is an understatement. I'd market my little heart out with little to show for it besides a mailbox filled with "no freelance budget now" responses.

But on this latest query challenge, I'm getting positive responses. Maybe my marketing techniques are a little different, but I've been getting good vibes from my old methods. This can only be good signs for the writing industry -- right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Let the Challenge Begin

Today is the first day of the summer query challenge. For 8 weeks, I, along with dozens of my fellow writers, will ramp up our marketing efforts to improve our client base.

I admit, marketing is my least favorite part of the job, but it is the most essential if I want to continue putting food on the table. The query challenge helps me focus on the marketing. I found many of my best clients through the challenge in years past.

Who will be my next best clients?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Long Hard Week

I'm not the type of person whose life revolves around my pet. I would never in a million years take my dog to work (well, if I worked in an office with other people) or to the ballpark (Bark at the Park may be baseball's stupidiest innovation yet, and that's saying a lot) or shopping or all of the other places people insist on taking their pets. I was not my dog's mommy; the dog was not my child.

But this week has been an adjustment as I try to get used to this new life without her in the house. 17 years is a long time. Over the past five years I worked at home, we had our routines. One of the routines was putting her outside for a few minutes before an interview and then letting her back in before I got on the phone. I had interviews scheduled on Monday, and both times, I went out to the kitchen to let the dog out. Except she wasn't there. I still take a giant step over the spot on the floor where she'd sleep.

It will get easier and the routine will shake itself out. But this has been a long, hard week.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Good-bye Old Friend

The happiness of Hump Day was short lived. My beloved little office staff took a quick turn for the worse on Thursday and she passed away Friday morning.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baseball and Hockey

I love sports. That's putting it mildly.

Last night I was watching the 3rd game in the Stanley Cup finals when I got a text on my phone. My son, who was watching the game at a sports bar/restaurant, wanted to let me know that a Detroit Tigers pitcher had taken a perfect game through the 8th inning. Perfect games are rare -- only 20 in all over the 120+ years of major league baseball. Yet perfect game #19 came on Mother's Day and perfect game #20 came on May 29. That in itself is unuaual. Two in one year? And now we were 3 outs away from 3 perfect games in less than a month.

I flipped from the hockey game to MLB Network (greatest network ever) to watch the 9th inning. First batter, a solidly hit ball that was heading for the gap, surely a double until the center fielder came out of nowhere and caught it. Second batter, ground ball to an infielder, easy out. Third batter, ground ball to the gray area between the first and second basemen. First baseman fields it. Pitcher is cover the bag. He beats the runner. Out. Perfect Game!

Except the only person who didn't see an out was the person who counted. The umpire. Who for reasons totally unknown called the runner safe. This wasn't a bang-bang play where the call could have gone either way. This was obviously an out. The umpire blew it. The pitcher got the next batter out, game over, 1 hit shut out, pretty impressive. Except the Tiger personnel went ballistic on the umpire. Everyone but the pitcher who had a bemused smile on his face. Later, the umpire saw the replay, saw what he did, and apologized, in tears, to the pitcher.

Baseball fans everywhere cried out that the call should be overturned. I'm a baseball purist -- hate the DH, hate interleague, hate the goofy softball shirts teams wear on Sundays, not a fan of instant replay -- and I thought it should be overturned. The call didn't change the outcome of the game. That's the important thing and I'll repeat it. The call didn't change the outcome of the game. But Bud Selig, worst commissioner ever, said no, call stands. Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated agreed with Selig and said you can't change what happened in the past.

Verducci and Selig don't watch hockey. After that call, I turned the hockey game back on. The Flyers appeared to score a goal -- the puck clearly crossed the goal line -- but it was pulled back out and play continued. Hockey reviews goals and the fans in Philly (and the one on my couch and the one texting me) were screaming for the review. But the announcers reminded us that the goal wouldn't be reviewed until play stopped naturally. And sure enough, as soon as it did, the goal was reviewed and the official said that it was, indeed, a goal, point Flyers. Then the time that elapsed during that period of time was put back on the clock. It never happened. The past was changed.

The contrasts are quite remarkable, aren't they?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Hump Day

I thought I was losing my office staff this morning.

My dog, who spends her days in my office with me, woke up in a pool of blood. She's 17, awfully old for a dog. The husband took her to the vet because I couldn't bear the idea of having to put her down. She's too old to take any real drastic measures, you know? I didn't expect to ever see her again.

But there she was, running across the kitchen floor for the door to go outside. She has a gum problem, which caused the bleeding. She needs some medical care, but the vets said for such an old dog, despite being blind and having back legs that don't work so well any more, she's surprisingly healthy and there was no reason to put her to sleep.

So she's back to her position on the office floor, snoring away. And I couldn't be happier to share my office.