Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

12/3/18, Paris IS burning

Posted on December 3, 2018

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, that you recovered from Thanksgiving, and are heading peacefully toward the holidays.

 

I am overwhelmed with sadness today. I don’t know how much it is reported in the States, but one of the ways that the French express their displeasure with governmental policies is to demonstrate, gather in the streets, to protest policies and conditions they don’t like. Demonstrations in France are usually peaceful, but not always. They can be noisy sometimes (or not), and rarely result in violence.  For the French, demonstrations are a form of freedom of speech. In the States, I think demonstrations tend to be bigger and less frequent, on a variety of important subjects. We should all have the right to let our governments know how we feel about things, hopefully peacefully without injury to property or people, nor destruction of any kind. Some people do it by writing letters to their legislators, others prefer to do it in a march, or a demonstration. It’s a show of hands for new and different policies, which seems fair to express those opinions.

 

The French people are generally unhappy about a variety of subjects at the moment. The economy is not doing well, there are certainly injustices that need to be corrected, and problems that have not been addressed, as with any government in any country. And to bring current problems to the government’s attention, a group of citizens applied to demonstrate for several consecutive Saturdays, beginning two weeks ago, for what was meant to be a peaceful demonstration in a number of cities in France. Since the issues are important and heartfelt by the demonstrators, the demonstrations became heated, erupted in destruction of property a week ago, and as a precaution stores were ordered closed in many areas, this past Saturday for the third demonstration.

 

The third demonstration two days ago became a nightmare of mob brutality and wanton destruction in Paris. However valid or not the complaints may have been, the expression of them got out of hand. Cars were burned, homes were set fire to, businesses and stores were destroyed and vandalized, bonfires were set in the streets, flaming bricks and rocks flew through windows setting fire to homes once inside, people were frightened, important monuments were graffiti-ed and severely damaged, trees were burned, entire streets were destroyed, smoke was heavy in the air from all the fires, and the acrid smell of smoke from tear gas bombs, water cannons were turned on the crowds by police. By noon, it looked like the city was in flames, over a hundred people were injured, both law enforcement and civilians. And observing it at close range, one sensed the frenzy of the crowd, a frightening excitement to destroy anything at hand. By nightfall it looked like there was snow on the ground which was a carpet of broken glass from all the destroyed cars, windows, bus stop shelters, etc. In an economy already suffering, in the weeks before Christmas, there will be fewer purchases with stores that will take months to repair (or closed forever for shop keepers who can’t afford to repair them), and people afraid to leave their homes for something as benign as Christmas shopping. Even sadder, the small independent shops and businesses who are the livelihoods of people who own them and work there, small grocery stores, dry cleaners, book stores, florists, which they can’t afford to repair and will not reopen. Big fancy stores as well as small ones were looted, vandalized and set on fire. Fire fighters couldn’t get from one fire to the next fast enough, and in some cases, an entire street of cars were burning. The destruction of property of all kinds was extreme, as shocked Parisians watched their city burning.

 

In the past few weeks, I have seen the shocking cataclysmic destruction by nature with the fires in California, with homes and businesses and lives lost, a true tragedy and natural disaster……and now to the kind of destruction Man is capable of when emotions run high, and get out of control, even if with the best of intentions. In either case, the results are tragic and immeasurably destructive.

 

And just as I was heartbroken for the tragic immeasurable losses to the fire in California, I am deeply saddened now for the destruction in Paris, and all the people who will suffer from it. In its own way, it is tragic too, to see a beautiful city looted and pillaged and in flames, and so many people affected by it. When Nature or Man get out of control, we are all losers in the end.

 

Have a great and peaceful week, and I hope the holiday spirit prevails and begins to grow in all of us.

 

love, Danielle

 

PS. Elaine very correctly said that she read that “professional rioters” have joined the Gilets Jaunes (the yellow vests, because that’s what they wear to identify themselves) demonstrators in France. The Gilets Jaunes began by demonstrating peacefully, and a group informally known as the “Casseurs” (the breakers, the people who break things) infiltrated their ranks, and are wearing the same yellow vests, making it impossible to tell who is who. The Casseurs have added the violent element to the demonstrations, and turned them into riots more than peaceful demonstrations. It’s a tremendous dilemma, because the yellow vests they wear (the same ones), make it impossible to figure out who’s who. I don’t think the Gilets Jaunes ever intended for the demonstrations to become violent, and the Casseurs have appeared at other demonstrations in France. And the end result now is some tremendous damage that will be very costly to repair, graffiti on many important monuments, windows broken, shop windows smashed and the stores looted and vandalized, cobble stones hacked out of pavement, and thrown through windows and used to smash cars. Some of the professional rioters use sledge hammers to destroy cars. And with the added element of experienced rioters, violence has erupted. Everyone in Paris hopes that it will stop, stores are suffering from lack of business, not just big fancy stores, but small independent stores, grocery stores, dry cleaners, neighbourhood florists, people who depend on their business to earn their livelihood, and now their stores have been vandalized. The big luxury stores have been attacked and looted, and are able to recover more quickly. Everyone in Paris is affected in some way. And the situation Elaine described is exactly the problem, and once violence is added to the mix, it’s very hard to calm it down again. I hope that solutions will be found soon that will be acceptable to all, so Paris can recover, tourists can return, and people can move around the city safely. D.

11/26/18, Beauchamp Hall

Posted on November 26, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, warmly spent with family and friends, or maybe you spent it helping others, which is a wonderful way to spend it too. In San Francisco, the air and the skies finally cleared of smoke, as though for a special blessing on Thanksgiving Day, and the air quality finally returned to normal, after weeks of dangerously toxic air. I was very grateful to spend it with 5 of my children, extended family, and a few friends, for a peaceful, loving family holiday. I ate way too much, as I do every year, but the meal was delicious and hard to resist!!! Now onwards to the Christmas holidays, the next few weeks will speed by, as they always do, and I haven’t finished my holiday shopping yet!!!

 

I’m excited that my new book just came out in hardcover last week, “Beauchamp Hall”. I always try to pick a somewhat inspiring book to come out for the holidays. One that gives us hope for our own lives, and entertains at the same time (and will make a good gift for those who give my books as gifts).  The heroine of the story is a young woman (in her 30’s) whose life has taken several sharp turns in unwanted directions—until all her dreams are far behind her, out of reach now and long forgotten. Her early dreams were to become a book editor in New York. She lives in a small town in the Mid-West which she hoped to escape after college. And her early college years were promising. Her mother had given her her love of books, and shared the magic of reading with her. When she leaves for college, she has a married sister, who married young. Halfway through college, the heroine’s mother gets very sick, and she leaves college to take care of her—-intending to go back to college one day to pursue her dreams. Her mother is sick for several years, and by the time she passes on, it seems too late for the heroine to return to college. Her married sister is busy with her own life, so the heroine gets stuck with all the nursing duties, and gave up years of her life for her mother. She slips into a boring job she hates, with a very nasty boss. And out of loyalty and habit, and stuck in a rut, she sticks with the job she hates, which becomes a dead end for her. She has a boyfriend who treats her badly, and she deserves better. The only bright spot in her life is a good friend who works in the same place, and they are best friends. At Christmas, they play a game at the office called “The White Elephant Game”, which we play in my office, and in my family at the holidays. Everyone brings a gift anonymously, and takes turns picking a gift, ‘stealing’ the gifts from each other. She wins the DVD’s of a popular TV series she had never seen before (and isn’t too excited with the gift!!). And at Christmas her life goes off the rails, the job she hates becomes even worse, her best friend betrays her, her boyfriend, who has always taken her for granted, gets worse too. The sister who has never helped her criticizes her constantly. Her life unravels at a rapid pace, and the only consolation in her life are the DVDs she won of the TV series, which inspire her to change her life radically. She does what we all sometimes dream of doing—–changing everything in our lives, or even changing something. When everything in her dull routine life falls apart, she takes bold steps, and bravely sets out on an entirely new course. The book is about what happens to her then. Her bravery is rewarded with some terrific adventures, fun times, new places, and good people. And her life is as different as it could possibly be from the dreary existence she had before. The book is about having the courage to change things, to do something new and different, and throw open the doors and windows wide to new experiences——and the wonderful places it leads her. She has new dreams far better than anything she could have dreamed of before. And her courage is richly rewarded. I really hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you lots of smiles and new hope. Sometimes we just have to turn the dial a little for everything to change. I hope you have a lot of fun with the book!!!

 

Have a terrific week, and I hope that wonderful new things happen to you!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

11/19/18, Apocalypse

Posted on November 19, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you are well, happy and SAFE!!! And getting ready for a lovely Thanksgiving.

 

I’ve had a crazy week. I’ve been writing pretty much day and night for the last 6 weeks, working on new books. Locked up in my office, and working even harder than usual so that I can take a few days off and enjoy the holiday with my children.

 

And sadly, the terrible fires in California have been a huge concern, and a distraction, and source of great anxiety to us all. So many lives and houses lost, so much loss, in both Northern and Southern California. Particularly awful since the North end of the state was already so devastated only (exactly) a year ago, in Napa and Sonoma counties. Whole towns were razed to the ground. I have several friends who lost their homes last year. And now, here we are again, in both Northern AND Southern California. I’m sure you’ve seen it on the news. Horrifying pictures of entire areas in flames, houses collapsing, the fires raging uncontained. Last year, the smoke reached dangerously unhealthy levels, and traveled more than a hundred miles, at times planes couldn’t fly, ash fell on San Francisco like snow, 80 miles from the fire. This year, with the fires raging more than 100 miles from the city, the smoke has reached new, unimaginable levels of toxicity. The city has watched the air quality numbers rise to staggering heights. The numbers sailed through the dangerous ‘red’ zone, to purple, which is EXTREMELY dangerous, schools are closed, many offices, people in the city are being told to stay indoors, do not open windows, do not walk their dogs, the cable cars have been shut down as it would be too unhealthy for passengers to be in the open air, the ferries have stopped, everyone is told that they must wear masks if they go outdoors even for minutes. The masks suitable for the ‘purple’ level of emergency have a rubber seal and make it nearly impossible to breathe, but are essential for one’s safety with the highly toxic air. The bay has vanished beneath a lethal looking cloud of smoke, you can’t see anything beyond your house, the sky is black at all hours of the day, an eerie dim light shines looking like a midwinter evening at mid-day. It is frightening, and worrisome, people feel cooped up in their homes, and everyone is anxious about the fires, and worried now that this will not be a once in a lifetime catastrophic occurrence, but an annual event. Meanwhile, the fires rage on, and the fog continues to envelop both ends of the state. Yesterday, San Francisco was declared the #1 city in the WORLD with the most dangerous air: more so than Beijing, Bangladesh, all of the industrial cities in Mainland China, and cities in India and Taiwan. It looks and feels like the end of the world, like a science fiction movie, with everyone running around with masks, and the streets fairly empty as people try not to go out. How long will it last? No one knows. An ‘inversion’ has settled over San Francisco, keeping an atmospheric ‘lid’ on the smoke, and trapping it over the city. The hope is for rain sometime later in the week if the wind comes up, and it rains, but for now, nothing is moving as the numbers referring to the danger level of the air quality continue to rise to a shocking degree. Many people feel the effects. It is a truly catastrophic event for anyone in the affected areas, which are extremely large. And hundreds of people continue to be unaccounted for. Droughts every year set the stage for these terrible fires. At this point residents of the affected areas can only pray for relief soon.

 

Many people have tried to get away from it during the past weekend, to areas where the air is slightly healthier, hotel rooms were impossible to find, planes were full. It truly is a shocking natural disaster, and my heart goes out to all of those who have lost homes or loved ones.

 

And in the midst of it all, Thanksgiving will be in a few days. We all have many blessings to be grateful for, and I hope that you will be spending your Thanksgiving with family and/or friends. There are so many blessings I am grateful for, and I hope that the fires will end soon, and the state can begin to heal again.

 

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving, and a safe, healthy one, with all my love, Danielle

 

11/12/18, Writing…

Posted on November 12, 2018

Dear Everyone,   I’m writing!!!!  See you next week, love, Danielle

Filed Under Current Events | 4 Comments

11/5/18, Book Signings

Posted on November 5, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a great week, and thank you for your comments to my last blog. I always enjoy them!!!

 

I’ve had a crazy busy week, travelling from one end of my world to the other, stopping to see two of my daughters on the way, and now I’m back to work at my desk. I started wrapping Christmas presents last week—ugh!!! I wrap like a 5 year old!!! With wads of scotch tape to hold the mess together!!! My gifts for children look like they were wrapped BY children!!!

 

One of you asked if I do book signings and book tours, which is worthy of a response!!! Book tours, never. I already had my first child, when I wrote my first book at 19, and I told my publisher at the time that I could not travel and leave home. That was more and more the case, as I continued to have children over the years. And with 9 kids at home to chase around by day, and my books to write at night, and a husband to take care of too, there was no way I could get away for a book tour, and was delighted not to!! They used to be like 15 cities in 15 days, and I never did one. The publisher at the time told me that if I didn’t do book tours, I would never be a success as an author. Oh well, I figured the kids were more important than a book tour, and things turned out pretty well on both fronts, the kids and the books, with no book tours. So the answer is no to that question. And now, how would I ever have time to write the books if I did book tours too? I’d rather be home writing than doing book tours.

 

As for book SIGNINGS, now that’s a whole other story. For pretty much the same reason, I have only done 3 book signings in my whole career. And all 3 were pretty unusual, and many years apart.

 

The first one happened when I was about 20 or so, with one of my early books. The publisher thought I should do a book signing (since I didn’t do book tours), so I agreed to do it, although I’m pretty shy. They often grouped authors together for those signings, sometimes with better known authors, who would attract people, and I was totally unknown then. I arrived at the book signing, and discovered that they had paired me up with a very successful author, who had had a terrible childhood, and had been the victim of shocking abuse by her mother. She had been locked in a closet or an attic for many years, eventually had been rescued but was very physically damaged by those early years. She was a very successful author, was in a wheel chair, and had very limited use of her limbs, but wrote very popular books, so she was the star of the show. The other author was a Viet Nam war veteran, who was a very interesting man, and surely very brave, and had lost both arms and both legs in Viet Nam. He was only able to sign the books by holding a pencil in his teeth. I have to admit, being very young, and nervous about the signing anyway, I was somewhat daunted by being seated between two people, both in wheel chairs and neither could hold a pen. I felt terrible for both of them, both were more successful than I, and I went home full of admiration for them, but not sure that I was ready for another book signing. It was an unusual experience, to say the least.

 

The second book signing was several years later, a little further along in my career. I was slightly better known but not as much as I am now, and I was a little nervous, worried about how foolish I’d look if no one showed up. Several hours before the book signing, it began snowing—I mean, REALLY snowing, like a blizzard. There was about a foot of snow (in New York) on the ground by the time I sat down to start signing stacks and stacks of books for people who had not showed up. The publisher had very generously provided trays of delicious treats and tiny sandwiches and hors d’oeuvres. So I sat there nibbling the hors d’oeuvres, waiting for people to come, while it continued to snow. Finally, after about an hour, a homeless woman wandered in. She was very nice and we struck up a conversation and chatted for about an hour. I gave her a book, and we ate quite a lot of the little sandwiches, and at the end of the book signing, we filled a shopping bag for her with all the snacks and sandwiches, and she went off, happy with the food, and she was my only customer that night. Technically, the book signing was not a huge success, but I had a nice time with her. I figured after that that maybe book signings were not for me (although the food was great!!). I didn’t do another one for twenty years or so, and said that I never would again. It’s very embarrassing sitting there with mountains of books and talking to yourself while no one shows up. I was really grateful for the company when the homeless lady showed up!

 

But a few years ago, when my children’s books came out about my little Chihuahua Minnie (“Pretty Minnie in Paris” and “Pretty Minnie in Hollywood”), a very sweet friend who has a beautiful store asked me to do a book signing at her store. She has a really lovely store a few blocks from my home, and sells beautiful table top things and high end items for the house. She also has a section of coffee table books, and had ordered some of my children’s books to sell. She was so kind with the offer, that I couldn’t turn her down, she had an excellent list of guests, ordered champagne, hired car parkers for the hordes of people she was sure would come, and organized everything. All I had to do was sit, sign books and smile and she would do everything. Easy as pie, right?? Who could resist an invitation like that? So I accepted gratefully, and got all dressed up on the appointed day, I only had a few blocks to drive, and I was literally walking out the door when my youngest (college age) daughter bent down to pick something up off the floor, didn’t notice the sharp corner of a cupboard right over her head, stood up in a rush and slashed her head right open with a huge gash, and stood up with a wash of blood running down her face. It was quite horrifying, she didn’t feel awful, but the things they say about heads bleed a lot I can assure you are true. I rushed over to help her, and was immediately covered in blood too. I had an instant decision to make—-the book signing where I was expected right then—-or take my daughter to the hospital? What do you think? I went straight to the emergency room with my daughter, with a friend who was there. We sat for an hour in the emergency room, waiting for her to be seen, and as emergency rooms are, an hour later, we were still sitting there looking like the Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I called my friend hosting the book signing and explained, and promised to come for at least a few minutes before it was over. Another hour, and we were still in the ER going nowhere fast. I then dashed to the store where they had the book signing, leaving my daughter with the friend. My daughter was feeling fine, but looked very scary, with an ice pack on her head and blood everywhere. I then rushed into the book signing, looking like I had murdered someone on the way, covered in blood, tried to look nonchalant, (unfortunately I don’t drink, because I’m sure the champagne would have helped), I chatted with all the people there, pretending to look normal, signed as many books as I could in about half an hour, apologized to my friend, and rushed back to the hospital, where we waited for another two hours before they FINALLY stapled (ughkkkk!!!) my daughter’s head back together. Being of the internet generation, by then she was putting photographs of the gash in her head on Instagram, Facebook and sending the photos to friends. YERGHK!!! And all stapled back together, we then went home. I hear people really enjoyed the champagne and yummy food and happy atmosphere at the book signing!!  So that is the story of my third and final book signing. Incredibly bad timing, and lots of drama. And by the time we got home, my daughter was feeling fine, and considered it an adventure. I was pretty shaken up over it, seeing my child covered in blood!!! I figured after that one, I’d quit while I was ahead…..so do I do book signings?…..eh not really. I can’t even imagine what might happen at the next one. So no, I do not do book signings, and if you missed the first one, got snowed out for the second one, and missed seeing me dash into the third one, looking like Lizzie Borden after she swung the axe……then I guess you missed my entire book signing career!!! I don’t think I’ll be doing another one!!! But I’m happy to sign a book for you whenever I see you. But my book signing event karma is not so great!!! And that is the story of my 3 book signings!!!

 

 

Have a great week!!! lots of love, Danielle

 

10/29/18, Trick or Treat

Posted on October 29, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week last week, and that this week will be more treat than trick for you!!! (Treat being lots of dark chocolate or whatever makes you happy!!!)

 

I worked REALLY hard last week, writing 20 hours a day, so I am definitely back up to fall speed and my winter writing schedule. And I finished what I was writing on Friday, so I treated myself to a fun day on Saturday (after Xeroxing everything I’d been writing, since I type it on a typewriter and don’t use a computer). After the Xeroxing, I did some Christmas shopping….and of course a few treats for me!!! I’m having my Godchildren for a Halloween dinner, and they’re still young enough to really enjoy it!!

 

After Christmas shopping on Saturday (I went to a really cool store that is ALL men’s socks in a million different rainbow colors—–great stocking stuffers for the men on my list!!)—after that, I did something I never do. I NEVER go to restaurants alone, I’m not a big eater, wouldn’t enjoy being in a restaurant alone, it always looks weird to me when I see women alone in a restaurant, or people alone generally, and it’s no fun without someone to talk to. If I’m out doing errands, I just plow through until I get home, and I always have a bar of dark chocolate in my handbag if I get hungry, and it doesn’t hurt to skip a meal. I’d rather do that than go to a restaurant alone. And I’ve only done that once in my life. But Saturday, I decided to spoil myself a little after a week of hard work, and spotty meals. I tend to eat food that’s easy to eat and I don’t have to pay attention to when I’m working. Like hard boiled or scrambled eggs, the occasional sandwich, and waaayyyyy too many cookies!!! But Saturday I stopped for a late lunch, I had truffle risotto and calf’s liver (I love liver—-I know, no one else does). It was yummy, I was on an outdoor terrace, having a ball watching the people go by, sitting in the sun, feeling lazy and spoiled and enjoying it thoroughly. It was a fun restaurant I go to a lot, so they know me, and the kind of place where families and couples go, and all kinds of people so I didn’t stand out alone. And the people watching is superb there. Lots of foreigners, on my right were two Chinese women who looked like they were having a good time. They took photos of each other with their phones. to my left were two young Americans, maybe about 18 or 19, a boy and a girl, talking about college and exams, and how awful their parents are (I tried not to laugh at that. The boy said he had to take a trip with his father and said “Erghk!! How Sinister is That!!”) And beyond them was a beautiful Russian woman with what seemed to be her boyfriend. Lots of people came and went in some wild outfits. It’s a restaurant where a lot of people go in the fashion business, and some models, actors and actresses sometimes, and people who want to see and be seen. There was a Chinese actress posing for photographs in front of me, and some crazy outfits: one couple had on matching suits with Bermuda shorts, and she was wearing Mickey Mouse ears. It was a fun interlude for an hour, and at least I had a decent meal after a week of eating snacks nonstop.  I did some more errands after that, and went home and listened to some music and answered some emails.

 

I still haven’t figured out a Halloween costume, I have a pink sweatshirt with Miss Piggy on it, and may settle for that this year. I hope you have a GREAT HALLOWEEN!!! Whether in costume or not, and I hope you get lots of treats!!!

 

I learned something VERY unusual this week by the way—At least I think it is, a social event popular with the Millennial generation (late 20’s to early 30’s) Apparently the big trend is for “Gender Reveal” Parties. Clearly, I’m from the Dark Ages because I’d never heard of it before, although all my children knew about it when I checked. It sounded extremely sexy, but apparently isn’t. Here’s how it works if you don’t know about it either. When a Millennial is having a baby, instead of having the doctor tell her and her partner or spouse the sex of the baby, the doctor writes the baby’s sex down on a piece of paper, seals the paper in an envelope and the future Mom takes it to a party planner and a baker, and they throw a party, which will either have a pink or a blue theme, they invite all their friends, and when they go to the party, they discover the sex of their baby, along with all their friends, from the pink or blue balloons. I have to admit, I was stunned, I can’t imagine wanting to share that discovery with 50 or 100 friends or even two. In my generation, it was a very private moment to share with my husband and not discover at a party. But apparently, Gender Reveal Parties are a big deal now. You learn something new every day!!!

 

 

Trick or Treat!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

10/22/18 “Night Owl thoughts”

Posted on October 22, 2018

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having a great week, and had a great last week. I’ve been very, very busy, with a heavy writing schedule, as usual this time of year. I settle into the winter, and hibernate for a while, writing new books, and working on new ideas. So it’s writing time for me.

 

And special greetings to one of the readers who responded to my last blog, —- clearly a soul mate, whose tech skills are on a par with mine, and can’t find the apostrophe on her laptop. You’ll notice that I am lazy about apostrophes too!!! Her daughter tells her she doesn’t even TRY to learn—-I hear that all the time. And as much as I love my ridiculous ancient Nokia cell phone with the disco lights when I get a message, texting on it is a nightmare, since it’s the kind where you have to press several times on a key in order to get the right letter, and if I get it wrong I have to start all over again. So I keep my texts VERY short. Anyone over 30, not to mention 40 or 50, is of a very different generation from current texters, who would rather text, than call or talk, and the words just seem to flow from their fingers. The only thing I do on my IPad is play solitaire, and I see 2 year olds in their strollers happily working their IPad, and I want to hire one of them to show me how!!! If I ask someone in my office to call someone for me to leave a message—-they respond immediately, “I’ll text them right away”. It doesn’t even occur to most people to call anymore, they only text, and don’t even bother to answer their phones. And I guess it is true, that I don’t even try to learn new technology. The day will probably come if I am very old one day that I won’t know how to work the lights in my bedroom, turn on the TV, or open the curtains—-everything happens on an IPad or some form of ‘device’ these days. And as soon as you do learn something ‘techie’, it becomes obsolete immediately, and you have to learn all over again. I’m going to have to start hiring 5 year old consultants in my office who are up to date on all the latest technology. It does seem a shame though that everything is so high tech now, it definitely cuts out the human element in communications, it’s also a perfect way for people to dodge giving you straight answers, and avoid a simple question, like “where are the kitchen chairs I ordered 6 months ago?” And there is an App for everything now, none of which I have on my phone, or would know what to do with if I did.

 

I’ve always been a night owl, it runs in my family. My father and grandmother stayed up very late, and needed very little sleep, and in some ways I’ve been lucky to be like them too. It allowed me to manage 9 children AND a writing career (I wrote at night when the kids were asleep when they were young), and get by on very little sleep. I still do. I’d go to bed late (around 2 or 3 am, after writing for many hours), fall asleep the instant I hit the bed, and wake up ready to go 4 hours later—–a real blessing at times!!! I still go to bed late, now that my kids are grown up, and still get by on very little sleep, and write until the wee hours, but now I wake up earlier, and often wake in the middle of the night, and then my mind starts racing, and I think about all the things I should be doing, have to do, or should have done. I sometimes get the best ideas during those sleepless hours, but I find that I worry more about silly things in the middle of the night. I’ve made a lifetime career of a fertile imagination, and I sometimes get ideas for new books in those late night wide awake hours. And then of course, there is the silly stuff—like I just remembered the Halloween table cloth I ordered in August, which never came. This time of year, I lie awake thinking about what to get people for Christmas, I haven’t worked out my Halloween costume yet…..and I am working on several books at once, which gives me plenty to think about in the middle of the night, as I work out the plots or search for a title. If I lie awake for long enough, I get up and answer emails (which come in at all hours from all over the world)….and….true confessions, my one concession to High Tech: I have discovered online shopping, and I can get up to some real mischief with that!!! I notice that with all the complaints (in my family and office) about my lack of computer skills, and offers to bring me up to date, NO ONE has offered to teach me how to shop in the Internet, and I pretty much figured it out for myself with very little help. And I have some real fun with that sometimes!!! For someone who likes to shop, which I do, internet shopping is a huge temptation, and I have gotten some really fun stuff!!! It’s so easy that it feels like it’s free at times (it’s not!!), and I feel like a kid in a candy store….I want that and that and that….and that!!….and oh wow!! Look at how cute this is…..It’s a very dangerous sport, but can be a lot of fun. And they make it very easy, even for non-techies like me!!! So now I can shop in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep. Uh oh!!!

 

I’m including a photo of something very fun I got recently. I saw it in a shop window, as a display item, and tracked it down. It’s a company that makes furniture made with teddy bears and other toy stuffed animals. You can either get it with the teddy bears over the whole surface of a chair or bench, or just around the edges. It’s easier to sit on with the teddy bears just around the edges, so I went with that. I love it, it’s so fun, and super comfy to sit on. I ordered it with little white polar bears, but you can have it with any kind of toy animal you want: monkeys, camels, bears, dogs, cats, swans, flamingos. It’s a silly fun thing and I love it.

 

I hope you have a fun week ahead. Halloween is approaching, and I haven’t figured out a costume yet. My favorites over the years were as a ‘ghost writer’, with a white face and white wig, dressed in white with a necklace of pens around my neck, Cruella de Ville, and my famous/infamous whoopie cushion costume, undignified but funny….maybe I’ll just be me this year. One of my daughters dressed as me for Halloween a few years ago, and looked exactly like me, in a black turtle neck sweater (my uniform because I’m always cold), black jeans and black loafers, red hair in a long pony tail, glasses on her head, and lots of bracelets on both arms. I laughed when I saw her, and she put on my serious “I’m thinking about a new book” face. I hope you have something fun planned for Halloween. You still have time to figure out a costume!!!

 

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

9/24/18, The Wild West

Posted on September 24, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’ve had a great week since the last blog.

I’ve had some startling news about my home in San Francisco. It’s in a quiet residential neighbourhood, across from a park. Children play in the park, and there is a dog park for the neighbourhood dogs. And it’s a pretty peaceful place.

 

After several years of drought, and two years of ferocious severe fires, mostly to the North of the city, in Sonoma and Napa counties, the wildlife in those counties are being driven out, looking for food and water. Deer show up in unexpected places, and I was just made aware of a most unsettling situation. Coyotes have been seen all over the city, in parks and on city streets, and have now made their home in the park across the street from my house. People who work for me have seen them, neighbours have warned me, photos have turned up on Facebook of two of the coyotes walking past my house, and they were seen yesterday, standing in front of my home, watching people come to work in my office, one of whom comes with her dog. A few months ago, a friend of one of my sons was surrounded by coyotes in the Presidio (a big park that used to be an Army base, and is now where children play, people picnic, jog, and play baseball there. The coyotes were ready to attack her, until someone heard them, and her screams, and chased them away.) I have very old frail dogs at my home in San Francisco, who are living out their final years peacefully, and I am frightened for them and the people in my home, with coyotes “casing” my house, and living across the street. (We have no idea how many there are, if they are part of a pack, or are protecting their young, which would make them more aggressive).  With really bad luck, they could attack a person coming in or out of the house, or a dog being walked on a leash.

 

We called local animal control to ask for their help, and they said that there are so many coyotes in the city now (people I know have seen them in neighbourhoods all around the city), that they do not try to remove them, or move them somewhere else back to a more natural habitat, and they don’t come to help when coyotes show up on your doorstep, as they have on mine now. It certainly makes San Francisco a dangerous city, with animals who pose a real threat (to people and domestic animals), running free around the city. They suggested that we keep our dogs indoors and be vigilant. And that’s it.

 

Sadly, one of my closest friends lost a beloved dog to coyotes earlier this summer, in broad daylight in the morning, in another part of the country. Other friends have lost their pets to them in the country near San Francisco. And we have them around our home in the Napa Valley, and keep a close eye on our dogs there. I heard them there this summer, howling terrifyingly close by, seemingly moving in for the kill of some animal. Similarly, friends who have homes in Lake Tahoe, in the mountains, have a problem with bears hanging around their homes, and two have had bears break into their houses (and empty the fridge), and sleep in their beds.

 

We aren’t dealing with bears in the city of San Francisco yet. But the proliferation of coyotes in the city is a frightening prospect. It’s a sad situation for wildlife animals seeking food and water, but it can be a tragic one with potentially dangerous animals running unchecked in the city with children and small dogs and even adults at risk to be attacked by animals that present a real danger to small dogs and humans. Apparently, they’ve taken several cats in my neighbourhood.

 

It certainly is the Wild West, and very scary!!!

 

Stay safe, and have a great week, full of happy moments, good times, and good surprises!!! (not scary ones!!)

 

love, Danielle

 

9/10/18, Remembering

Posted on September 10, 2018

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that September/back to school/the fall is off to a good start for all. I’ve been busy, travelling, writing, visiting my children. It’s fashion week in NY, so my daughters in that industry are busy, working 15 and 18 hour days.

 

But I can’t see this date, and not think of what tomorrow represents to us, what it means, and what happened on September 11th, seventeen years ago. An unforgettable time in our country. A time of fear and heartbreak, and as far as I know, one of only two times when this country was attacked on home turf by hostile forces, at Pearl Harbour in 1941, and in New York and Washington, DC 60 years later on September 11. Almost 3,000 people were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon in Washington, and with the crash of the third plane which took off from Newark, and was headed for Washington to create more destruction there.

 

The most heartbreaking image that haunts me from that day, were the people who knew there was no way out, and leapt out of the World Trade Center, some of them holding hands, to their death below. It was an unspeakably awful moment in our history. And like the entire country, I spent the day glued to my television, incredulous at what I was seeing, as the World Trade Center crumbled. The country was badly shaken for months afterwards, it changed the nature of air travel forever, and showed us that it was possible to attack us in our own country, at home. Nineteen terrorists created unimaginable destruction and havoc, on a day we will remember forever. It’s difficult to imagine now that it happened seventeen years ago. In many ways, it still seems like only yesterday. The children who lost parents on that day are adults now. But the memory remains as vivid as ever.

 

As happens at the worst of times, heroes emerged on that day, helping to save others, and in many cases sacrificing their own lives. We remember them now, with love, gratitude and respect, and pray that nothing like it ever happens again.

 

Have a peaceful week as we honor those we lost and remember that day,

 

love, Danielle

 

9/3/18, “In His Father’s Footsteps”

Posted on September 3, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Happy Labor Day!! I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend, and can catch a last few days of vacation before life gets serious again, and the summer is officially over!!! I’m happy to be spending it with three of my daughters.

 

To get the Fall off to a good start, I have a new book coming out tomorrow, “In His Father’s Footsteps”, about three generations of a family. The book begins with the liberation of one of the concentration camps in World War II, the first camp liberated by the Americans, and among the survivors are a young man and young woman who met while in the camp, Jakob and Emmanuelle. Both managed to survive, and had lost their entire families. In the days after the camp is liberated, they try to figure out where to go next, having lost everything during the war (he is Austrian, she is French. He was from a wealthy family in Vienna, who lost everything, she is the daughter of a seamstress in Paris), their friendship blossoms into love, as they help each other get their bearings and regain their health after their shocking experiences. With the help of an American refugee organization, they marry and immigrate to New York, where they are sponsored by a man who owns a garment factory, where they are given jobs, and a tiny apartment on the Lower East side. They arrive in New York with nothing, and work hard. They are ultimately exploited by their sponsor, struggle to survive, get better jobs, and are determined to make a good life for themselves in America, and they have a son, born in New York. With some good breaks, and the fruit of their labor, they meet a kind man who gives Jakob a good job as a runner in the wholesale diamond market. With time, hard work, integrity, and diligence, Jakob carves out a solid career, eventually owns a business, and provides a good life for his wife and son Max. They are cautious, sensible, persevering people, deeply affected by their wartime experiences and all that they lost, and serious about the solid, successful life they have built since. Max grows up in more fortunate circumstances, thanks to his father’s hard work, and he in turn is affected by his parents’ view of life, and he wants a very different, all American life, and to take advantage of the opportunities and education he has been fortunate to have. A Harvard graduate, he builds a successful business of his own, and leads a fast track life, very different from his parents’ lives, who are cautious and always concerned that another war could sweep everything away again. A visit to the camp his parents survived, and where they met, gives him new respect for his parents, and better understanding of what they’ve been through and how far they have come. Max’s own life choices in turn affect his own children, who want to make choices very different from his, and have yet another perspective than their father’s and their grandparents’ view of life. It’s about family ties, about how each generation differs from the last, but with a common theme of hard work, integrity, and the importance of family, as they strive to leave their own mark on the world, each in a different way than the generation that came before them. It’s about how we evolve, and what we learn from our parents and grandparents, and how we come to understand them as we mature, no matter how different we are.   I hope you enjoy the book, and each generation in it as the story unfolds.  I’m excited about the book and hope you will be too. I always love the poignancy and compassion of family sagas, as we watch a family build and grow, as each generation tries to improve on what was achieved by those who came before them.

 

I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day, and that you have some wonderful memories of the summer to carry you forward into the fall. Have a great week!!!

love, Danielle