Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

8/12/19, “Complete”

Posted on August 12, 2019

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re having some really good weeks, and hopefully still some vacation, as the summer starts to wind down. It’s been a long hot summer, and I’ve had some lovely time with my kids, and also did a lot of work this summer, working on several books at different stages.

 

I like to keep busy, and am happier when I am. I race around meeting deadlines, trying to get time with my children, love puttering around my house fixing things and adding things or getting rid of things (my famous closet purges when I get rid of lots of stuff), I travel a lot, mostly between my two homes, and only take one brief vacation a year for a week, and I am always on the move. But between the visits with the kids, the deadlines, the work on the books, seeing friends when I can, running two homes, and the fashion shows I report to you a few times a year, I do have moments of introspection, which helps give me direction, and even insights for the books.

 

In that vein, I was thinking about the notion of “completeness” the other day, and how easily we all, or most of us, feel ‘incomplete’. There is always, or often, something missing in our lives. A partner, the right partner or any partner, children/a child, a job that makes us feel important, the right home. We’re always striving for something, or missing something. It’s the nature of humans. Early in life, we’re striving to have it all. And later in life, we are trying to fill the voids. For women (and men) who have children, the kids eventually grow up and leave, and we are left with the void that leaves in our lives (with 9 kids, believe me that was a big hole to fill when all but one (so far) left home), for men and women who have important jobs, when they retire they feel as though they’ve lost their identity, another big void to fill. We look at others and think they have it all, a partner, a great job, a beautiful home—-but even those people must feel incomplete at times. It’s rare for any of us to have it all, all at the same time. There is so often something missing and we are left feeling incomplete as people, inadequate, and not whole.

 

Like Noah’s Ark, we are led to believe that we are incomplete, and we feel that way, without a partner. And yes, as Winnie the Pooh said to Piglet, “life is so much friendlier with two”. I have always been irked by the old song “You’re nobody until somebody loves you”. We believe that, we feel it, it so often seems to be true. Being solitary can be so lonely. Being with the wrong partner is even more so. Very few people seem to be truly happy alone, and most of us feel left out and ‘incomplete’ without someone to love and who loves us. We see others with partners and wish we had one too (and we forget that that’s not always easy either). Or we have a job that doesn’t fulfill us, or a home/house/apartment that is less than what we want and feel we deserve. And when we feel that something is missing, we feel incomplete. That’s not a good feeling, and can really make us deeply unhappy. When we’re feeling incomplete, we forget to look around at what we DO have, a home that’s nicer than we believe, a job that isn’t as bad as we think at times, we forget that the right person can walk into your life tomorrow and you won’t always be alone.

 

It’s also worth mentioning that if you feel incomplete and not ‘whole’, what are you really offering that new partner you want to come along? Half a person? A sense of desperation that a new person should make up for everything you don’t have in your life? That’s a heavy burden to put on someone else, and not very attractive or appealing, that they have to save you from your own incompleteness and dissatisfaction and provide everything you don’t have in your life and make your life exciting. And that new person may take a while to show up (or maybe not, they may come along faster). But you want to bring a whole person to the table (yourself), and offer them the riches of your own life and your wholeness, and then you can be two whole people together with much to share and offer each other. If you are desperate to have someone fill your empty life, that’s pretty scary for them!!! And you’ll be bored while you wait for them!! We need to fill our lives to the brim on our own, not count on someone else to do it, and then we really have something to offer someone new who walks into our life. You just can’t and shouldn’t count on someone else to “make you whole”. (It’s more likely to make them run like hell, in the opposite direction!! And who can blame them?)

 

I think it’s a life’s work feeling complete, and not focusing on what we don’t have. And it’s so easy to look at the down sides. When I moved into my California home, I was thrilled that my bedroom was on the same floor as all my kids, except one who lived in private grandeur on the floor above. Now, I walk past all those empty bedrooms on the way to my own room when I’m in California, a reminder that my kids have moved on. It’s like a neon sign reminding me that they’ve moved on and I live alone (except for one ‘child’ still at home, and I’m grateful for that). And without all those kids underfoot, it’s easy to feel ‘incomplete’. When I sat and thought about it the other day, I realized how full my life is, and reminded myself of how ‘complete’ I really am, that I am a whole/complete person with or without a partner, with or without kids living at home, no matter what my job, or my home. I think the trick is to feel complete with what we have, and who we are. It’s a real trap, and an easy one to fall into, to feel incomplete, and I know so many people who do—–and marry the wrong people as a result just so they’re not alone, or stay in situations or jobs that don’t fulfill them (we all need our jobs, but if you really hate your job, maybe it’s time to look for one you like better).

 

Each of us is complete and whole. It’s something we all need to remember and focus on (or do something about). It’s not the partner, the kids, your job, or the size of your apartment that makes you whole, or complete. It comes from within us, and remembering, appreciating, and focusing on what we DO have, and not what’s missing.  Now I can go back to cleaning out closets, grateful that I am in fact complete, I don’t need anyone or anything to make me complete, I am a whole person as I am…..and whatever is added to it will be an added gift!!!!

 

Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

6/24/19, Desk Top

Posted on June 24, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that last week was a good one. It’s officially summer now. The first day of summer, or rather the first night, is a fun event in Paris. It’s a celebration of music, where music groups, bands, people blessed with musical talent, perform in the streets. It’s a happy way to usher in summer and gives people a chance to share their musical gifts.

 

On another note, I am always somewhat fascinated to learn about the evolution of our habits, styles, and trends in this rapidly changing world. Some innovations seem like a vast improvement, others seem downright strange, or take some major getting used to. The last ‘corporate’ job I had a long time ago was in advertising, as a copywriter. After that, I worked for three years as a high school teacher, teaching English and creative writing, and after that I gave up my ‘day jobs’ to write full time (which in my case means day and night). I was in my twenties then, and had written my first book at nineteen, so it’s been a long while since I had a corporate job. Working at home, I set my own rules, make my own schedule, and can wear whatever I want. (My favorite writing outfits are old cashmere nightgowns, which are warm and comfy). And I’ve always gotten more work done at home without the distraction of others working with me, office politics, and meetings to attend. There are many advantages to working at home, but there are also downsides. You have to have the discipline to actually DO your work (and not clean out the kitchen cupboards or your closet instead, or the garage, or go for a walk or have three hour lunches with friends.). But there are definite downsides too, mostly on the social side. I don’t think it’s entirely healthy to work in solitary circumstances, never see anyone, get properly dressed, or have exchanges with other humans. It can be lonely, you don’t meet new people that way, which is an important part of daily life, and impacts relationships, or the ability to meet someone who might become a friend. I loved running the art gallery I had for 5 years, because I did have to get dressed up, go out, and met really interesting new people every day.

 

When I interview assistants for my office at home, the two questions I hear most often are “Will I have flexible hours?” and “Can I bring my dog to work?” Flexible hours means “Can I work from home?”. And my answer has always been no to both. I need people working in my office, not in their own home, so I can hand off work to them, sometimes projects, or a single mission: Xeroxing manuscripts, researching something I need, shipping manuscripts off to editors, dealing with the press, sending things to attorneys to check, and all the minutiae of my writing life. And although I have always had a lot of dogs of my own, I don’t want to deal with my employees’ dogs too, but I’ve eased up on that. And my office accountant brings her French Bull Dog to work—-who growls and barks every time she sees me (the dog, not the accountant!! Although I give her reason to bark at me too, but she doesn’t). But I still want my employees working at my house not their own. My employees work in an extensive ground floor space, each with their own private office, all of them three floors away from me, so I can still work quietly, alone, in my ‘ivory tower’, my tiny office upstairs (always the smallest room in every home I’ve lived in.) My current office, for the past 30 years, is about 8 by 10 feet. Over the years, I’ve worked in a laundry room, and several times in a closet I transformed into an office. I like small spaces, which are are cozy, when I write. So that’s what’s comfortable for me. And when I write, I’m surrounded by a million (maybe a few less) small mementos made for me by, or given to me by, my children, some photographs of them, with the walls of my office covered with art made by my kids over the years, funny signs, and the framed quotations I love. It’s all very personal, and I like everything neat and tidy when I start a book, and as I work (although my desk gets messier as the book grows). There are stacks of papers on my desk, either current projects, or others I need to refer to. There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ on my desk, but it’s all very orderly. I like to keep things neat, and no one sits at my desk, ever, except me. (the bad habits of an only child, I don’t like sharing my work space with others).

 

In light of that, a recent conversation with my French and British publishers stunned me, describing their new practices in their offices. And I think the same practices are now being used in the U.S.  First, they said they did away office walls, so that people were working in wide open spaces, which I would find very distracting with a sea of people around me. Also, isn’t that noisy?? I need total silence in the room when I write. The smallest noise, especially a mechanical one, or a phone ringing, or people talking, breaks into my thought process as I write a book. My British publishers recently moved, and my French ones are moving in a few months, so these new systems are new to them too.

 

The most amazing to me is that, having done away with office walls, and actual rooms where you can close a door, is that their newest change is that NO One will have a desk or their own space, their own room/office, or their own desk. There are areas of desks where you can work for a few hours, but you have to arrive with your own ‘stuff’ (papers, files, etc.), and take it with you when you vacate that desk a few hours later. There are couches, and sitting areas, and all the possible arrangements and configurations of furniture used in an office, but ALL of it is generic, does not ‘belong’ to you, and you have to carry all your paperwork around with you, as you move from area to area. When I asked where they put their files or other materials, they responded “on the floor”. Bluntly put, that would drive me nuts. Not only would I not have all the little personal things around me that make it ‘my space’ and feel homey and familiar, but you can’t leave anything anywhere, it’s a totally nomadic daily life, as you float around the whole building or office space, with no office of your own, and nowhere to put or leave your ‘stuff’. I would be a wreck by the end of the day, carrying manuscripts with me. I am definitely a ‘paper’ person, and not a high tech (or even low tech) computer person. Supposedly studies have shown that the new system works better, and gives people a sense of freedom, and the set up they need to perform different tasks. The lack of ‘possessiveness” stuns me…I love having My desk, and My space, and My office, not just a couch, or a random desk, or a table I can use as a desk for a few hours. I don’t think I could work that way. It seems incredibly modern and high tech, and I wonder if time will prove that it really is more efficient, or if office workers will just be shuffling around aimlessly, and lose some vital piece of paper as they move from place to place. (That would REALLY drive me nuts. WHERE is page 262???? or chapter 3??????) But I still write on a typewriter, not a computer. Just dragging all my stuff around all day would wear me out, and it would feel like working in an airport, not an office. But maybe people will love it. The ones I spoke to said they are still getting used to it, but have been told they will come to love it.

 

Brave new world!!! And it’s interesting to see people embrace change…..as I tiptoe off to my overcrowded little office, with everything in it just the way I want, to work 22 hours a day sometimes writing a book. And if anyone moves things on my desk, I have a fit, and can tell immediately!!! I’m happy I don’t have to make that adjustment!!

 

Have a great week ahead, and happy first day of summer!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

1/28/19, Rainy Sunday: Boundaries

Posted on February 4, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope January went by pleasantly and productively, and now we’re off to February—-and Valentine’s Day—-don’t get me started on that. If you’re madly in love, or even moderately in love, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day can be terrific—-if not, and love is not big on your agenda at the moment, watch out for those two nights. Alone, and in the wrong frame of mind, they can really suck. So much for that (I solve both by working if Love is not on the horizon. It works for me. I forget where I am and what I’m doing, and what day it is. Kisses and romance are certainly more fun, but work is okay too).

 

The riots are continuing in France, after three months now. The violence is not as extreme as in the early months and weeks, but the destruction and a certain degree of violence continues, it’s more contained, but stores are still being burned and looted, even if to a lesser degree. (In the first month, the rioters broke into a jewelry store, destroyed the brand new store, stole a million dollars’ worth of jewelry and vandalized and set fire to the place. They are a little more moderate now, but have caused billions of dollars of damage. It’s heartbreaking to see, in a city as beautiful as Paris). And just last week, one of the rioters clashed with police, lost an eye, and is still in a coma. No political opinion or cause seems worth that to me (other than a real war where you are defending your family and your home). Several people have died, both rioters and police. And it continues. An American friend commented to me the other day that it is hard to understand how the riots can happen once a week, by appointment on Saturday, with real savagery, and even loss of life and injury, and then go about their business like civilized people the other 6 days of the week. It makes no sense to me either. I was thinking today , as I have for these 3 months, and have seen some REALLY frightening days with entire streets on fire, whole blocks of cars burning, and stores and homes—–no matter what the cause or the reason, I abhor when it turns to violence and wanton destruction. (Some people even came from other countries (Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany) to join in the ‘fun’, when they have nothing to protest about daily life in France, or government positions. It’s not their country. The reasons for the protests/riots have shifted and grown, it started with gas prices, went on to taxes, retirement pensions, complaints about the rich, the minimum wage, and like water it spread and became more free form. Anyone who had something to complain about, even if they had valid points on certain issues, put on a yellow jacket, and got busy. Not all the protestors were violent, but too many were. I hate violence, we all do. It just seems to me that once people lose control to that extent, they not only lose their effectiveness, and sympathy, but it just seems profoundly wrong to me. Even on a tiny personal level, when I lose my temper and get really angry, which is rare for me, I always feel diminished and as though I have lost something important of myself. One should be able to solve problems without losing one’s temper, saying hurtful things, and certainly without violence. Among the many shocking statistics floating around are that the electronic monitors on the highway, to monitor speed and send tickets later, were ALL destroyed in many areas around Paris. To replace those machines now will cost half a Billion dollars. And what about the rest? The stores, streets, houses, monuments, bus stops, and private and public property that were destroyed. Inevitably, taxes will be raised to cover the expense of repairs, which defeats the purpose of the protests. They wanted lower taxes, and did so much damage, that now taxes will be raised to pay for it. Everyone loses once violence happens, and even more so on a personal level.

 

After mulling all that over (with no conclusion) on this rainy Sunday, it made me think of boundaries and how important they are. I’ve been in relationships without them, which eventually bit the dust and died, for lack of them and other problems—-but EVERY relationship, whether parental, familial, boss and employee, mother and child, or between lovers, friends or spouses, and even between roommates—-EVERY relationship needs good boundaries, or regrettable things are going to happen. Someone younger than I asked my advice this week about a blow out that had happened in their romantic relationship, where one of the partners went off the deep end, said and did things they shouldn’t have, and wanted my advice about it. (People always assume that if you’re older than they are, you’re smarter, which isn’t always true. Older people can be just as confused as younger ones, they just look more grown up!!). But the incident related to me was clearly a terrible lack of boundaries. Some people assume that you can do or say anything in an argument, no holds barred and say “Sorry” later and it will all go away. That just isn’t true. Some words and some actions should never happen and can never be undone. My suggestion in this case, which is one I’ve tried to use myself, with good advice from a therapist, is to sit down at a good time on a good day (not at 2 am in the midst of an argument), and agree to some mutual rules of fair fighting, based on what’s important to each person, and stick to them meticulously in future—-No breaking the rules. Because the horrible things you say or may do (breaking something precious to the other person, insulting them so deeply you can never take it back, saying awful things about their families or kids (if their kids aren’t yours), frightening them or threatening to abandon them, threatening to end the relationship if you don’t really mean it—–those things just can’t be taken back are never forgotten and ultimately destroy the relationship, and do irreparable damage to the other person and the relationship. None of us can afford to let loose like that, nor should we allow ourselves that liberty or want to. I first heard about ‘boundaries’ in a group therapy session I went to….and I left it thinking “what was that B word again?…barnacles….beautiful? Uh, what was that?” it was boundaries, and I have learned the importance of that since.  I see it all the time when people don’t have good boundaries and let loose on others in ways they never should, and may not even mean (and even worse if they do mean it). But once you say it, it’s out there, or do something awful to the other person (not even physically, but emotionally). And watch out for people who DO intend to hurt you, and go as deep as they can to hurt you. Run like hell when you run into one of those!!! I find that I never feel really emotionally safe with people with bad boundaries, you don’t know what they’ll do or say, or how much they’ll hurt you.

 

So that’s my thought for the day: Boundaries. They really are important. Laws are a form of boundaries imposed on us, and we respect them so we don’t get in trouble and break those laws. Boundaries are just as important so we don’t break someone’s heart!!!

 

Have a great week!!!

 

much love, Danielle

 

1/21/19, Mixed Monday

Posted on January 21, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is well with you. Things have been madly hectic for me, traveling, writing, the ‘business’ of writing as well as the fun part. (I never think the business part is as much fun as writing a story). I finished a book, wrote a new outline for a future book, and am THRILLED to say that my newest hardcover is going to be #1 on the New York Times combined eBook and hardcover list. No matter how often that happens, it is ALWAYS a thrill every time!!! Thank YOU for making that happen!! I am always grateful that you are such dedicated fans. The current book is about a combined team of French and American trauma doctors who work together for a month in Paris and a month in San Francisco, on emergency events in both cities. It’s a very exciting book!!!

 

Today we are honoring Martin Luther King, an extraordinary man at an extraordinary time in American history. It seems like a long time ago, but it’s surprisingly recent that the country was struggling with desegregation and so many important issues. He was truly a hero of our recent history.

 

The Protestors/Rioters were back at it in Paris on Saturday. Their numbers were diminishing, but they’re still out there, protesting—-for the TENTH week!!! It has wrought havoc with the French economy to have stores (and restaurants) closed every Saturday for almost three months. And Parisians are very tired of the destruction to the city, which will cost billions to repair. The wanton destruction of property, whatever the cause, still seems wrong to me.

 

And like a bad joke, they had just begun to dissipate on Saturday, while I was working on the outline, when a SECOND group of protestors appeared, right under my windows, for a different cause with slogans and bullhorns and songs. In desperation I put on the earphones I use to watch movies on the airplane when I travel—-I put them on to drown out the noise, so I could finish my outline, and I probably looked pretty silly typing away!!!.

 

This is Haute Couture fashion week in Paris this week, so there will be fashion shows for several days—-and I heard whispers of a snowstorm coming, so it will be a busy, possibly messy week!!!

 

It’s incredible to think that the holidays are only three weeks behind us, it feels like they were in another century. I’m due for another visit with some of my kids soon, so I’m looking forward to that.

 

I also recently heard that today’s date is called Blue Monday in England, supposedly the most depressed/depressing day of the year. So I hope that is not true for you today. No more Blue Mondays!!! Spring will show up eventually. Although we could all be turning blue from how cold it is everywhere. Stay warm, keep busy, have fun, and I hope you love my new book, Turning Point.

 

much love, Danielle

 

1/7/19, Hitting the ground running…..

Posted on January 7, 2019

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, Welcome to 2019…..I see a lot of work in my future (nothing new about that), but it amazes me sometimes how fast I shift gears from quiet times, vacations, the holidays, and then I shoot right out of a cannon and hit the ground running into work mode again. This January looks like that for me. I was lucky enough to spend the Christmas holiday with most of my kids for a week, which was a happy family time, of doing only family things, and then from the day they left to go back to their own lives, I’ve been super busy with work. Maybe you have too!!!

 

As is my New Year tradition now, I start a new book the day my children leave after Christmas. It’s my antidote to being too sad when they leave. One minute my house is full of music and laughter, family meals, and all my children home, and then suddenly there is deafening silence, and they’re gone. And since I’m not crazy about New Year celebrations, as I’ve mentioned before, I start a book in the last few days of December, and by New Year’s eve, I don’t know what day it is, and I’m deep into a new book. It really works well for me (and I never make New Year resolutions, as I’ve said before too!!)

 

So true to form, when my kids left, I got to work writing a new book, and I’ve been flooded with work related projects ever since: picking covers for upcoming books, in the US, the UK, and several European countries, editing flap copy, reviewing marketing plans. We’re setting up a podcast in the weeks ahead, which is something new for me. Writing tweets, speaking to a wonderful film director about the possibility of working on a movie together, and to a network about possible TV movies. And I’m working on a new outline for another book, and when I go back to Europe, I’ll be meeting with my British publisher, planning for the books that will be coming up this year. So I’ve got lots of irons in the fire, and I really have hit the ground running in the first days of January.

 

The book I’m writing right now is my 175th book, which amazes even me. I guess that’s what happens when you write all the time, but it really astounds me sometimes that I’ve written so many books. It’s a book that requires a fair amount of research, and it’s always exciting to learn new things when I write.

 

I feel guilty at times that I do so much work. It leaves me very little time to do anything else, I’m always working. I don’t get enough time to see friends, or have down time, or spend a lazy weekend. I’m always working to stay on top of my writing schedule and meet deadlines in a pretty grueling schedule, but it suits me, and I’m grateful that I get to do so many things that relate to my writing. I picked a cover this week that I just love for a future book—-for the book that will come out in time for the holidays, at the end of 2019. We work pretty far ahead!!

 

I’m going to spend a weekend with 3 of my children soon, so that’s a treat for me. And I had a fabulous evening a few days ago: my youngest son gave me an evening out for dinner and a night at the theater as part of my Christmas gift from him. And I had a ball, we saw Mary Poppins the musical, and I loved it!!! And I managed to see the new movie too.

 

I hope the New Year has taken off at just the pace you like. I have to admit, my head is spinning a little from all the things I have to do, but I’m enjoying what I’m doing.

 

Have a busy, fun week ahead—–and we had a ‘Feast of the Kings’ cake yesterday, for Epiphany. The tradition in France is to have a cake, with either a plastic baby, or little plastic fish in it, and whoever gets it in their cake will have good luck all year. No one has gotten the baby yet—I’m hoping to get lucky on my second slice!!!

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle

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

 

10/15/18, Your comments

Posted on October 15, 2018

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is going well for you, as we creep up on Halloween. Have you planned your Halloween costume yet?? I’m going to give a Halloween dinner for my godchildren, but I haven’t figured out what to wear yet (they’ve already seen my Whoopie cushion costume, so I’ll have to come up with something new). And yes, I bought Halloween costumes for my dogs—they are tired of their bumble bee costumes!!!

 

On a night when I couldn’t sleep, having cruised through 3 time zones over 6,000 miles in 3 days, I guess jet lag caught up with me. I like to say that I don’t get jet lag, but it does catch up with me too, though not often. Being wide awake in the middle of the night, I read your comments in response to my blogs, and was deeply touched by many of your kind, loving comments, especially about my son Nick (from the people who say they have been helped by him, with their own struggles.  I keep you close to my heart, and in my prayers).I always read your comments, but sometimes I go back and check for any I missed, and being awake at 4 am was a great opportunity. Some of your comments made me laugh out loud.

 

On a practical note, one of you suggested that I go to a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting to report about the coyotes loose in our neighbourhood. There are more and more reports of them all over the city, and I think your suggestion is great, and will act on it. The city is refusing to deal with it, and they say there are too many to deal with or control. I hear more and more reports of pets lost to coyotes, not just in SF, but all over the country. What is happening that we’re being inundated by coyotes??? But I thought the Board of Supervisors suggestion was great.

 

Another comment was that someone had read 118 of my books, and was afraid that they had missed some. I have written 171 books to date—-5 of them were never published (my 2nd through 6th books, written when I was in my late teens. My very first one was “Going Home”, which was published and is still in print. And they were all published and are still in print, from my seventh book on). 5 of my books are non-fiction, on a variety of subjects (pregnancy, homelessness, my son Nick, etc). There are 147 novels, and the rest are a book of poetry, and many illustrated children’s books for young children. If you look at the most recent hardcover book, it lists all the books going back to the first one, so that way you can tell if there are any you’ve missed. And thank you for reading the 118 until now!!! Wow!!!

 

The comment that really made me laugh out loud, was the reader who was laughing at me for recently replacing a 14 year old TV in my bedroom. She said that if I have a 14 year old cell phone too, that would make me a historian. Well, guess what? I DONT have a 14 year old cell phone—-I have an 18 year old cell phone!!! Ha!!! So there. And it works great—-it is a tiny, old, Nokia, which pre-dates the flip phone. I drop it on the floor regularly, and I pick it up and it keeps on going (when my children drop their cell phones, it’s the end of their phones!! Not mine). I love it because it’s not only reliable, but it has multi colored flashing (disco) lights when I get a phone call, so if I’m in a noisy place, I can SEE when it’s ringing, if I glance in my purse. And then it has different flashing lights to tell me I have a message. How can you beat that??? Unlike a smart phone, I cannot tell you on what date and time Grace Kelly was born, what shoe size Albert Einstein wore, or how many people live in South Dakota and what their favorite movies are. It has a camera feature I have never figured out how to work, and basically it only works for phone calls and texts. I don’t want emails on my cell phone, or like my children, I would have my eyes glued to my phone during every meal. I am NOT a high tech person. I can barely work my computer, and make embarrassing mistakes on it all the time, I only use it for email, and not much else, and I don’t know how to shop on line (and everyone refuses to show me). I write my books on a 1946 German typewriter, an Olympia, which I LOVE, and wouldn’t dare write on a computer, or I would erase 14 chapters while trying to figure out where the shift key is. I accidentally erase as many emails as I send.  The only thing I know how to do on my IPad is play solitaire, which I enjoy. Supposedly I could send emails, watch movies, or launch a rocket ship and work my curtains from my IPad, but damned if I know how. I have proven to be an F student on anything computer oriented, which is embarrassing, and even more so when I see 2 year olds playing games on their IPad in their strollers. It’s in their genes, not mine!!!  When I got married, I arrived in my husband’s house with the only TV I had at the time (museums were begging me for it), it had lots of snow, only certain channels worked and had a coat hanger stuck in it as an antenna. Although much older than I, my husband had adopted every kind of modern tech at the time, and was addicted to TV, he would watch several channels at once on separate TVs, and even had one in his closet so he could watch the news while he got dressed in the morning. I didn’t watch much TV, so I didn’t mind my dilapidated old TV (which he made me throw away. Can you imagine??!!). And when we moved into a new house, he sent me out to buy 15 TVs to put EVERYWHERE. I dutifully went to Macy’s and bought 15 TV’s, and was taken upstairs by security who didn’t recognize me, and thought I was buying TV’s with stolen credit cards. Who buys 15 TV’s??? So if the reader who commented on my 14 year old TV and was laughing about my cell phone, was laughing at that—now you know the WHOLE story. (My husband also got the first ‘portable’ phone at the time, which was in a suitcase, weighed about 40 lbs, and he took it proudly to restaurants so everyone could see it. Personally, I like my 18 year old Nokia much better). Maybe one day I’ll get a Smartphone. But I’m not ready to take that leap yet—-and I will NEVER be writing my books on a computer. I paid $20. for my typewriter at a 2nd hand shop (or maybe 10th hand) when I wrote my first book at 19, and my Olympia isn’t going anywhere. 171 books later, we are doing just fine!!!

 

So now you now some of my dark secrets. I am not a ‘techie’. My children have given up trying to get my old cell phone out of my hand. And I also have a new TV in my office, and I haven’t even figured out how to turn it on yet, a year after I got it. I worry sometimes that someone might try to steal my old Nokia cell phone out of my purse one day, and my kids laugh REALLY hard at that. After all, they must be jealous that my cell phone has disco lights and their Smartphones don’t. And I really don’t need to know Albert Einstein’s shoe size, or Julius Caesar’s birthday. I’m doing fine as I am.

 

So thank you for your comments and for reading my blog. And even if I don’t answer you specifically, know that I read ALL your comments, and am very grateful for them, and enjoy them a lot!!!!.

 

Have a GREAT week!!!!

 

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

 

6/11/18, In Loving Memory

Posted on June 11, 2018

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I’m on one my usual three city/two country treks, with 10 suitcases and three Chihuahuas, visiting two daughters midway, and meeting another when I arrive at my destination. So I was going to take a week off from the blog, since I’m traveling, and send you a “Gone Fishing” message. But recent events are too serious to ignore, so I’m sitting down to write to you. The events I am referring to are the suicides of Kate Spade, the fashion designer, and Anthony Bourdain, the famous chef and TV personality, in the last week. Ms. Spade was 55, and Mr. Bourdain was 61, both much too young to have left this world, both immensely talented and greatly admired and respected.

 

As most of you know, I lost my son Nick to suicide (resulting from bi polar disease all his life) at 19, so I have lived the fall out of suicide at close range. Several of Nick’s friends followed that same path, and his very best friend, a wonderful boy, with everything going for him, great family, nice girlfriend, successful career, bright, charming, intelligent, kind, an incredibly decent person, and he committed suicide in his 30’s.  It came as a shock to everyone who knew him—more so than when my son Nick died, since he had battled with bi polar/manic depression all his life. Others among Nick’s friends have done so as well. Each of my children has had friends who have committed suicide. And tragically, I have been to more funerals for young people than for my own contemporaries.

 

I did not know Kate Spade, although several of my children knew her and her husband, and one of my sons is/was very close to them, and crushed by her death. Nor did I know Mr. Bourdain personally, but several of my children are his ardent fans. Many years ago, one of my children’s friends was on vacation with us, when he saw on television the news that his famous actress mother had committed suicide, and then not long after, his father. He was 14 at the time, and we shared his grief with him. And I knew Robin Williams for 16 years when he died. We met through our children, because one of my daughters and his son were boyfriend/girlfriend devotedly all through high school. I came to know Robin then, and was always impressed by what a wonderful father he was, and how much he loved his children. At his funeral, his friends were devastated, and his three children were absolutely crushed. Knowing what a dedicated and loving father he was, all I could think was how devastated he would have been if he could have seen how broken hearted his children were. It takes an immense driving force for someone to commit suicide, and I suppose it blinds one to all reason—-in their own agony, they don’t realize how their death by suicide will affect those who love them. We had a wonderful caretaker and advisor on psychiatric issues for the last 5 years of my son Nick’s life—she was a talented, brilliant, warm, sensible woman, and a wonderful mother to her three children, with a loving husband. She was so depressed by my son Nick’s suicide, that she never recovered herself, sank into a terrible depression, and three years later, she committed suicide too, at 36, with three young children, who were the ones to find her, given the circumstances in which she did it. We were all heartbroken by her suicide too.

 

I don’t know of Mr. Bourdain’s family circumstances, but Ms. Spade had a 13 year old daughter, who is left to survive her mother’s death, and our hearts go out to her.

 

Some people believe that people commit suicide out of weakness. I doubt that, and I suspect it must take enormous strength to commit such a devastating act. Most often it is the result of severe depression and some form of mental illness. I hear terrible circumstances through our foundations every day, stories which break your heart. Children as young as 5 or 6 commit suicide, some have left suicide notes for their parents in crayon. (I heard a speech on the subject in the Senate that tore my heart out, when I was asked to address the Senate on the subject too). Children who have been bullied commit suicide, or abused. In many states it is against the law to list a child’s death as a suicide, if they are younger than 13 (to avoid the stigma)—-so our public statistics and records are not always accurate. In spite of that, we do know that suicide is the 2nd most frequent killer of young people up to the age of 25, the 1st one being road accidents. I don’t have the statistics for adults at hand, but I have been told that suicide is on the rise among adults. We donate considerable money through our foundations to organizations dealing with suicide prevention, with hot lines, and therapy.

 

There has always been stigma attached to suicide, religiously, and just in the public. We are aware of it now, but do we do enough to stop it, to improve the statistics? Most people seriously bent on suicide are very intent, often secretive, and many give no warning. My own son attempted suicide three times before his final ‘successful’ 4th attempt. And after one of them, he looked at me sadly after we had saved him, and he said “Mom, if I want to do this, you won’t be able to stop me”. Sadly, he was right. He picked a slim window of time, when we thought he was safely sound asleep in bed, and instead he took his own life. He was determined—-from the time he was 11 years old, until he finally died at 19. It was a race against time, trying to stop him, and to manage his bi polar disease so the worst didn’t happen. We got him 8 years longer than he intended, but not long enough.

 

As an aside in all this, I have a personal war against texting. It eliminates real human contact and exchange. Young people ALL prefer texting to phone calls these days. It’s their primary form of communication. Relationships start and end by text. Too much happens by text. At the funeral of my son’s best friend, at least a dozen young people around me said “But I texted with him today….this morning…last night”. My thought was that if they had talked on the phone and not texted, they might have heard something in his voice, or some sign of how depressed he was, and could have talked to him about it, maybe even gone to see him. Maybe that little bit of human contact would have made a difference. I have done a lot of volunteer work with young people with mental illness, and I once spent a night talking to a 16 year old boy, after his 3rd suicide attempt. He received excellent treatment after that night, and he is one of the success stories. That was 15 or 20 years ago, and he is now a healthy, well-adjusted, productive young man, who writes books and gives lectures. I think people who are truly suffering need human contact, compassion and caring. You don’t get that by text.

 

These very public suicides are something to think about, or any suicide, or even an attempted suicide, by a child or an adult. This is a warning bell to all of us, to look around us, to listen, to hear, to be aware of our fellow man, to reach out when we can, to encourage people to seek treatment, and to seek treatment ourselves if we are at risk.

 

Suicide is a heart breaker, it leaves children who will be marked forever by the loss, and families shaken to their roots and forever altered. Those who commit suicide do not go gentle into the night, they rip out our hearts, and take a piece of us with them. We are all affected by the loss, even when we don’t know them. My heartfelt condolences to the Bourdain and Spade families, my heart aches for them, and for all of us, for these terrible losses, and a world that has become so hardened, lonely, and stressful for some that they see no other way out. I hope that in future we find better ways to help these people who are in so much pain. May they rest in peace at last, and may those they left behind heal as soon as they can, with our love, help, and compassion.

 

Have a peaceful week,

 

love, Danielle

 

 

3/26/18, Inside/Outside

Posted on April 2, 2018

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you, and that you had a lovely Easter, or Passover, if you celebrated either of them. I had Easter brunch with three of my children and their significant others, with chocolate bunnies on the table, bunny ears for all to wear, little chocolate eggs, jelly beans, and the little wind up chicks and bunnies that were fun when they were children.
I was spared April Fool this year, with Easter on the same day. My children are notorious for April Fool jokes and I always fall for them!!

The big excitement for me is that my new book “Accidental Heroes” will be #1 on the New York Times list this week—-it is always a thrill when that happens, and it never gets old.  I hope you read the book too and love it!!! I really love that book, it’s suspenseful and exciting and was challenging to write!!!

I was thinking of something the other day that I wanted to share with you. Twice recently, I’ve had a similar (almost identical) conversation with two very close good friends, one a man, the other a woman, both of them people I respect enormously. Both are people that everyone admires, on many fronts. Both are deep, serious, people with strong personal values. Both have impressive, very successful careers, in businesses they have built themselves. Both have studied hard, and by all normal standards, are high achievers who have accomplished a great deal professionally, and are highly successful. Additionally, both are in long marriages, with the same partners they started out with (not many people can claim that anymore), both have what would be considered today ‘large’ families, several children, and their children are all really lovely ‘kids’, some of them grown up now, and starting on their own lives and careers. Both of them are family people, and have strong family and personal values. I consider both honest, honorable people. Both are good, loving spouses, whom I admire in their marriages. And interestingly, both are religious, and attend religious services regularly. And both are people I truly admire, and many of us would consider role models. What was remarkable about my conversations with them was that both were deeply questioning themselves, and really undervaluing themselves, questioning if they were good parents, were getting really good results with their kids, were they successful enough in their marriages, were they good spouses, and questioning their success and careers. Both had serious doubts about themselves, which would stun me, and did, given everything I know about them. But what didn’t stun me is that I have heard the same things from other people at various times, and have questioned myself in very similar ways at times.

I have wonderful kids whom I love dearly, more than anything on earth, and who love me. They are healthy, normal, upstanding, wholesome, honest, loving hard working young people, and yet I always question if I have done and given enough for them and to them. Have I been enough for them, and been a good parent? I much more easily see my flaws and failings than what I’ve done right. And I heard the same thing from those 2 friends in the last week, and others before them. I have been so blessed in my career, and have had a long successful career I work hard at—-and I work very hard—but do I work hard enough? Am I a good enough friend, person, human being, parent, writer?

What is so remarkable is that good people, who really strive hard to do well and do the right thing, and are really doing a great job on many fronts, so often doubt themselves and think they aren’t good enough. Other people look so much more ‘together’ to all of us. They seem to have all the answers, make the right decisions, look so much ‘cooler’, smarter, better than we look to ourselves.

The best advice I ever got on this subject was from the woman who helped me take care of my son Nicky when he was very sick. She said “Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides”. And it is SOOOO TRUE. Everyone else looks like they have their ‘sh–‘ together, that they know all the answers, and don’t make the dumb mistakes we all do. We don’t see them snap at their kids when they’re tired or had a bad day, or argue with their partner/spouse over something really dumb “you always leave the kitchen a mess….you Never take out the garbage….you never pick up your own stuff, why do I have to do it?….” We see other people’s outer perfection and smooth presentation—-and we look just as smooth, but we know the lumps and bumps of ourselves inside. I question myself a thousand times late at night in the dark hours when I finish work/writing and am alone, and I see everything I’ve done wrong, the mistakes I make again and again, big and small, the times I have failed to go the extra mile for someone and think I should have.

Even people whom we think are so ‘perfect’, are so hard on themselves. Why do we do it? Why aren’t we better at celebrating what we do right??? And all the good things we’ve done!!!

Listening to my 2 friends doubt themselves reminded me of that piece of advice. I’ve heard my kids doubt themselves when they have so much to be proud of in themselves, and I’m proud of them. And I’m sure (or hope) that I’m a better person than I think I am.
I thought I would share that with you, because I’ll bet that many of you do it too—–compare the private you to other people’s ‘outsides’, which look so great.

We are all frail beings, unsure of ourselves, painfully aware of our weaknesses and flaws, and all the times when we think we could have done better. It’s good to remember sometimes that others are no more sure of themselves than we are (no matter how great they appear to us). So if this applies to you too, Don’t Compare Your Insides to Other people’s outsides!!! It’s such good advice!!!

 

Have a great week!!! love, Danielle