Category Archives: My Opinionated Self

Love me! Read me! Buy me! Writer’s Fear-Clenching Book Launch Thoughts


Book launch day shoots towards me like an asteroid.

Three weeks.

Not ready.

Almost-final drafts of essays surround me. Fear, sleeplessness, and worry consume me. I won’t get reviewed. I will get reviewed—but they will all hate me. I have nothing to wear to events. Okay, I do have stuff to wear, but nothing will fit, since I can’t stop eating.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter, since no one will come to my launch readings.

Okay. My husband will come. (That’s a law, right?)

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Likeability Laced With Betty Crocker Syndrome (In Real Life & Fiction)



A few years ago, when speaking with a reporter about my then-just-released novel, Accidents of Marriage, she mentioned how surprised she was by her negative reactions to the main character—how the character ‘provoked’ her husband. The reporter sympathized with the husband’s anger. The next day, participating on a book panel, the moderator spoke of the husband in the book as a virtual out-of-control monster and his wife Maddy as a frightened woman battling emotional abuse.

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Shopping for Good: Gorgeous Gifts (for Men, Women & Kids!) that Help




Tis the season for helping! As we give thanks, we donate to the causes that are closest to our hearts—for some it’s helping to fight cancer, for others rescuing animals, and for some it’s ensuring the arts flourish.

As the holidays barrel down, many of us plan to give donations in loved one’s names, but few of us can bear a holiday devoid of three-dimensional gifts . . . so, why not combine good and wrapping papers by buying a form and function gift such as the Remember Bracelet above (and the many below).

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One Morning in America Wearing a Safety Pin



Today, for the first time since the election, I went out and about in places where my safety pin could be clearly seen. (Till now? More hunkered, than out.)

I’ll put this as plainly as I can—it made a difference. Three times in one morning, interacting with two women (sisters) I’ve known for fifteen years, and two strangers. Immigrants from three countries: Brazil, Vietnam, and Ireland.

1) The sisters and I spoke in my driveway. One speaks easily in English; the other is less comfortable. The former pointed to the safety pin on my sweater and said, “I just heard about that on the radio.” We all shook our heads.

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Also posted in Cultural Politics | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Ten Ways to Begin Protecting Our Country, Our Worlds & Human Rights



Like so many, I woke up this morning, tearful, angry, and terrified for the freedom of all in our country and the attention we must pay to climate change. But even as I feel horrified, I refuse to feel hopeless or without agency.

We must look forward, ever more determined to do the right thing.

(My family tells me, sometimes with a smile, sometimes with a rolling of their eyes, that I have always been a ‘Plan B’ person).

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We’re All Immigrants: The Recipe Edition!


Grandpa Bernie, Grandma Kaplan, Stepdad Norman, Grandpa Cherlin, Mom & Grandma Bessie

Grandpa Bernie, Grandma Kaplan, Stepdad Norman, Grandpa Cherlin, Mom & Grandma Bessie

My dear friend, Robin Black, made the wise suggestion of having an election night dinner that was a tribute to immigrants. There are few few among us in America (Native Americans) who didn’t come from ‘somewhere’ –so, in effect:

Todos somos inmigrantes, Wǒmen dōu shì yímín, nahn jamieaan almuhajirin & waxaanu wada nahay waddanka u soo guurey

Among the many ways we can come together, what’s happier than food? I invite all to share their recipes–below in comments, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and over your back fence. Here’s one from my grandmother collection:

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Also posted in Childhood, Cultural Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Voting, We’re All Children of Immigrants



Not to get all Freudian, but last night I woke gasping for breath (repeatedly), paralyzed with fear, riding waves of Donald Trump smothering me. The nightmare stapled me to the bed. (And, I know if he read this, he’d say I wasn’t even close to being good-looking enough for him to nightmare me.)

Women cite stomachaches, inability to work, leaden feelings in their limbs, sleeplessness, and depression. Many men, including my husband, are as upset–but they move into anger quicker, while we fight feelings of being smothered and are traumatized from past sexual assaults as we hear his assaultive words against women.

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Not Our Shame


With every listen, the Trump sex assault tape sounds worse. Every syllable engenders feelings of being small and wretched and humiliated. I search for the genesis of these emotions, for the source of my desire to curl up into an invisible ball.

And the truths wash in:

The time my neighbor’s boyfriend covered my six-year-old crotch with his (fifty? sixty?) year-old fingers, inserting them through the fabric, while giving me a swim lesson in Coney Island. My shame, even now, floods back. My shame. My sister was with me. We were two little girls.

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Also posted in Cultural Politics, Domestic Violence, My Life, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Writer Wars, Hierarchy & Can We Get Over Ourselves?

I’ve been mid-book since my addiction began at age four and I pray to have a TBR stack until the moment I die. On that heap I want it all: pounding plots, the wow of discovery, the comfort of recognition, and astounding characters. If I’m lucky, some will have all of the above. Whichever book I’m holding, I don’t want to be judged or lauded for it and I don’t want to shelve my books by race, class, or gender.

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Also posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Balancing Shrill, Skill and Shill


“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln

Selling–the worst part of writing. Writing a book takes a certain set of skills: intense concentration, imagination, the ability to read the same 400 pages time after time, and the fortitude to take criticism (excuse me, ahem, critique) without weeping.  You must learn to shut out all noise at a given moment and you must love solitude.

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Also posted in Writing | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments