Gone Fishing……ooops, erghk!!!! Gone writing!!! Much more fun than fishing. I’m working on a book. See you next week!!
Have a great week, love, Danielle
Posted on July 27, 2020
Gone Fishing……ooops, erghk!!!! Gone writing!!! Much more fun than fishing. I’m working on a book. See you next week!!
Have a great week, love, Danielle
Posted on February 3, 2020
I hope you’re doing well, feeling well, happy and busy, and that things are happening in your life as you wish!!!
I’ve been working really hard on a new book, a historical novel this time. They are a HUGE amount of work, first gathering the research before I start, so the setting and the times and events are accurate, and to establish the history right from the beginning. Then writing the fictional story set in those times, and weaving the history into it, always the right amount of both. And then after that, more detailed historical research to fill in any holes. And after that, many re-writes. I do at least 3 re-writes on every book, at different stages of the book, sometimes more. It all happens in about a span of two years, or a little more, until the book is ready to be printed and is complete. I don’t like having a span of two years between books, so I am always working on several at once, in different stages. And sometimes the ‘stages’ are quite spread out, so I have time to write another book in first draft between those stages. The system seems to work and is a major juggling act, and it allows me to publish as many books as I do.
The historical novels are a lot more work than the others, getting the history and the mood and feeling of the times right. It’s like travelling back in time, whenever I do it, and I need to isolate myself even more for the historical novels, so I’m not distracted by modern times. I have a researcher who helps me gather the information, and then I decide how much of it to use, and what events work best with the story. Writing a historical novel teaches me a lot of new things, just as reading it will do for the reader—-learning about events and people at another time in history. And I often use real people, and songs and books and movies as well as events, to give substance to the time I’ve set it in. I don’t go tooooo far back in history (like Greek or Roman times) or too many centuries back, because then the times are too foreign to us now, and are harder to relate to. A century or two are about as far back as I ever go, or at a time when the challenges in human relations are very similar to what we’re living now.
Someone commenting on my Instagram said that they really miss the characters when the book ends. So do I. The characters become so real to me, I work so carefully to build them and make them come to life, that I fall in love with them too (or hate them!!! for the mean ones). And I feel lost for a few days or a week after I finish, as though all my friends have moved away, and I can’t be part of their lives anymore. I’m always happy to find them again when I come back to the book for another re-write. And once the book is absolutely finished, re-written many times, and ready for the book to be printed—-after that, I never read them again.
Writing a book is like having a lot of imaginary friends. By the end of the first chapter I love them and they are real to me. And by the end of the book, I know them really well and what they would or wouldn’t do. Sometimes they have a mind of their own!!!! And they refuse to do what I want them to!!! But eventually, I get a good grip on it, whether a historical or a contemporary book. It’s an incredible joy when it goes well, and I feel so lucky to have a job I love. And thank you for reading them, after all of that hard work!!! You make it all worthwhile for me. The nights are long and the days are hard, and the elation and sense of accomplishment when you finish a book is tremendous!!!
I can’t write to you today, without at least mentioning the tragic accident which took the life of Famous Basketball Star Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianna, along with another family, and several other people, including children. I ache at knowing Kobe’s widow’s grief to have lost a husband AND a child, and the other family members of the other people and families on board. No loss is easy, and some are unbearably hard. The whole world has grieved these tragic deaths, and the loss of a great athlete and hero, husband, and father. Even in Europe, people have grieved for him, and the others lost. My heart goes out to all the survivors who lost loved ones.
I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, safe week. I hope we’re all grateful for our many blessings, however small they are, I hope that we’re treasuring our loved ones, and grateful for every minute we have with them. My children and I have been deeply saddened by Kobe’s death, and all the others with him.
I hope that life touches you gently this week, and that it’s a week of many blessings for you.
Posted on September 9, 2019
I hope you had a great week since we last chatted. I’ve had an exciting week!!! My new book The Dark Side is on the New York Times bestseller list, high up on the charts—-thanks to YOU, my faithful readers for putting it there!! And my fairly recent new paperback, Turning Point, is still on the lists too after 6 weeks, since pub date.
And it’s always fun to try something new. I’ve been debating for a long time about doing Instagram, and I made a decision this summer to do it. And we’ve launched the Instagram, to give you some visual glimpses into various aspects of my life. The Instagram is listed as officialdaniellesteel. I hope you love it!!
And when I wasn’t going through photographs (of my dogs, kids, desk, typewriter, and a few other surprises) for my Instagram, I went to a terrific party this week. I don’t usually go to parties given by stores—-I’m at home, writing. But Hermes is a beautiful long-established French brand of beautiful leather goods as well as clothes (they started as a saddle maker many many years ago), and I have a soft spot in my heart for Hermes (I still have some of my grandmother’s beautiful Hermes bags, the brand is family-owned, and their craftsmanship is exquisite. Anything by Hermes is a treasure to cherish forever. I still have the Hermes black leather “Kelly” bag that my grandmother gave me for my 18th birthday!!!). And several years ago, they introduced a “Danielle Steel” bag which was a huge honor. It looked a bit like an old fashioned satchel, and had a secret compartment in the bottom. Very cool!!
Hermes has a tradition of giving a big fun party at the end of the summer, and they turn the store into a chic, fun “Playland for Adults”. There is no purpose to the party, other than for the guests to have a good time, relax, and enjoy themselves, with lots of food, drink, and entertainment. They held it on a balmy night and did an incredible job. I didn’t even recognize the store. It was beautifully decorated for the party. There were dancers in the windows looking onto the street, a bowling alley when you walked inside. There were lots of food, games of musical chairs all set up, a photo booth (I stopped to have my photo taken with a friend. And a beautiful roof top garden terrace, where many people congregated to sit and chat. The Champagne flowed, and it was easy to see that EVERYONE was having fun. I really enjoyed it, and stayed much longer than I expected to. I didn’t want to leave. It was really fun, and ‘free dress” prevailed.
So it was a fun week, and I hope you enjoy both the Instagram, and The Dark Side, the new book!!! Have a great week ahead!!
Posted on August 26, 2019
I Hope you had a good week. I had a busy one with lots of work, meetings, and appointments. If you were at the beach instead or still on vacation somewhere, good for you!!! I wish I were too!!!
I have some new work and projects coming your way soon, as we head into Fall, and the atmosphere of “Back to School”. I’m stunned by how early kids go back to school now. My children always went back to school after Labor Day, and I did too—now by mid-August, or the third week in August, kids are back in school, and summer is over, for parents and children alike. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. By the end of the summer, my kids were always a little bored, and had been on vacation for three months. They seem to get less vacation now, and it seems odd that they go back so early!!! But maybe everyone is ready by then.
“Coming soonest” , THIS week, is my new novel in hardcover “The Dark Side”, which is suspenseful and exciting, about a young mother with complications in her own early history and childhood. She has the psychiatric pathology of Munchhausen by Proxy, where parents (mostly mothers) either feign illness in their children, or actually make them ill, or cause them to have accidents. They appear to be perfect mothers, and are in fact harming their children, secretly, and it’s very hard to catch them at it, even for mental health professionals. It’s often very difficult to detect and can have disastrous results. The real life stories of it are terrifying. It’s a fascinating and alarming phenomenon—–and hopefully makes for an exciting book. I hope you really enjoy it!!! It will get my fall books off to a suspenseful start!!!
Also happening this week is a new (for me) element of social media I’ll be engaging in. Instagram. I’ve been debating about it for a while. It’s so popular, and I see how much my children are involved in it, and enjoy it, posting photos on it constantly of things they do, see, and like. I hesitated for a long time about it, because I thought my own daily life isn’t “visual” enough. I spend long periods of time (weeks sometimes) in my office, going nowhere (except in my head or on the page), and I thought I’d have nothing much to show you visually—-except the mess on my desk, of papers everywhere, of my research or the outline, or the pages coming out of my typewriter. But Instagram is so extensive now that it really appealed to me as yet another way to reach out to you and include you in my life. So I am going to start doing Instagram this week. Brave New World!! It’s exciting to try something new!!! And I’ll try to share a little more of my life with you that way!!! And not just the mess on my desk!!
And also coming soon—though not quite soon enough but in the future is the quotation book I’ve mentioned to you. I’ve collected quotes that I love for many, many years, since my teens. I frame the ones I love and put them on my office wall in San Francisco, and in my bathroom, dressing room and kitchen in Paris—-wherever I can fit them in, to inspire me or make friends laugh when they read them. I’ve wanted to do a book of them for years, not things that I have said, but that either famous people present day and in history have said, or even graffiti I’ve seen, or from magazines or greeting cards, or anonymously. Some are funny, and some quite serious and have really inspired me. I hope you enjoy the book when it comes out. It’s scheduled now for Christmas a year from now, in 2020. I wish it were sooner but it took time to gather the best ones, and check the sources out, and get permissions to use the quotes where necessary. I hope the quotes will inspire you as much as they have me!!! I LOVE words in all forms, I love words in art forms too (paintings or sculptures). I’m really looking forward to that book, and I hope you love it too!!
There will be more new books/novels this year of course, and I hope you love those too. I’m working on several new books now, and have worked hard this summer. I always seem to be working, and I really enjoy it. I get wrapped up in the stories and the characters, and they become very real while I’m working on them. I love the time I spend with my family, and have fun with my dogs, enjoy seeing friends, and reading when I have time (not often enough)…and art shows and museums, and travelling to the places I love….but whatever I do, I always come right back to work, and am so happy when I’m writing, and it’s what I do most. I just finished my 183rd book, which seems like a crazy number. I wrote my first book at 19, and have been at it day and night ever since!!!
This weekend is Labor Day, which really does mark the end of summer. It’s been a busy one, not very restful or lazy this summer for me, it’s been a mostly working summer —–and I hope you love the new books I’ve been working on.
Have a great week, and enjoy the long weekend!!
PS, and also on the “Coming Soon” list of things that I enjoy is the movie version of “Downton Abbey”, the latest addition after the long and successful TV series that I loved. I was so sad when it ended after only 6 seasons, and I wasn’t ready for it to end. It was the first TV series I fell in love with. And now they are making a movie of it, due out in September. I can’t wait!!! As soon as it’s out, I’ll be there!!!!
Posted on June 24, 2019
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!!!
Posted on June 17, 2019
I hope you had a good, healthy, happy, fun, productive week since I last wrote to you.
It turns out that my last blog to you was somewhat prophetic. It’s funny how timing works that way sometimes—when you read something or hear something that is exactly appropriate to whatever is happening to you at the time. My last blog was about the resilience of palm trees in a storm, how they bend right down to the ground sometimes, but always bounce back without breaking. It’s a good reminder that we bounce back from stormy times too. I’ve had a bit of a stormy week myself, with some fun times, and a really nice work party in my honor, given by one of my publishers, which was a warm fun evening I really enjoyed. And I also had my share of storms last week too, events beyond my control, which were less fun than a party in my honor!! Life happens, with the mix of good and bad, fun and not fun, and happy surprises, and less happy ones. Nothing serious in my case, just the stresses of daily life in a busy life. A close friend’s son is in the hospital—-those are the real storms in life, not the minor stresses that worry us. And none of us are exempt from the big and small storms in life.
Other than that, it’s been a busy week. I’m lucky enough to be able to spend two days with one of my daughters this week, which is a real treat for me. We always have a good time together, and I’ll be seeing my other children soon, which is a real joy for me.
My British publishers are coming to visit me this week, which is always fun and exciting for me. They do a wonderful job for me in the UK!!! The books are beautiful, with great covers and do very well, and I love working with them!!! My American publishers are fabulous too, and I’ve just renewed my ongoing ties with my long term publishers in France—just like with Random House in the US, I’ve been with them since my second book, so we have a long, close relationship. And under new ownership and management, my French publishers have gotten fresh energy and ideas, and new people on their team. I’m very lucky to work with so many truly nice, hardworking, very creative people who are a joy and pleasure to work with. So that’s one of the happy spots in my life.
My new hardcover “Lost and Found” will be coming out in a week, which is exciting too. I hope you love it. It’s about a woman who, jarred by a minor accident (a broken ankle), some dissent with her adult children, and inspired by a box of old love letters she finds at the back of a closet, she takes off on a cross country road trip, from New York to California, to rethink her life and visit the three men she didn’t marry many years ago, and wonders if her decisions were right. She decides to see them for the first time in years and check it out, and she makes many discoveries about them, and others, and herself in the course of the trip, and the new people she meets along the way. It’s about finally putting the past to rest, and moving ahead in one’s life, free of the past at last. I like that idea and hope you do too, and that you enjoy the book. And of course, as usual, I’m working on new ones for you.
So here’s to a peaceful storm-free, stress-free week ahead. A REALLY good week, which we all deserve. A peaceful one with some happy surprises in it!!! I’m expecting good news and happy days for you and for me, for all of us!!! Here’s to sunny days after the storms!!!
Have a GREAT week!!! love, Danielle
Posted on May 13, 2019
I hope you had a good week and a lovely mother’s day, whether you’re a mother, or a son or daughter, a grandchild, or just a good motherly friend to someone who looks up to you.
Sometimes I have something I can’t wait to share with you, something I’ve seen or done or a pet peeve or immense joy. At other times, I grope around and can’t think of a single interesting thing I’ve done all week that might entertain you. There are always the fashion shows at certain times of year, the holidays, or a new book out. And I DO have a new book out, “Blessing in Disguise”, which came out last week, about a woman with three adult daughters, each one with a different father, and how very different they are, and how separate and distinct the mother’s relationship is with each of them. I hope you love it!!!
But since I spend about 95% of my time writing, there are times that I just haven’t seen or done anything except work, which gets boring for you to hear about. Sometimes I don’t leave my house (or office) for weeks at a time if I am working intensely on a book. And at other times something I want to share with you just leaps onto the page. I was travelling this week, which gets more and more complicated with increased security measures, and less and less fun, and there isn’t much to say about it. I didn’t do anything exciting this week, and then yesterday I got an email updating me about my incredible, remarkable, wonderful niece, Bea. And there it was, real life, staring me right in the eye, putting everything else I do or worry about into perspective.
Except for rare instances, we all share the same problems and deal with the same challenges to varying degrees in daily life. Worrying about our kids, the petty aggravations of daily life, (I am currently dealing with 2 winter leaks, hardly fascinating for you to hear), or we have a falling out with someone, or get irritated with our kids (the same ones we worry about!!), or just when you get your budget in semi-control you get a whopping bill from the plumber, or for your car, or from your dentist, and it blows your budget all over again. Whatever it is always seems monumental at the time (or really is with health or job or money or kid worries). And then suddenly you hear of something, or see it, which puts it all into perspective and reminds us of how small our problems are compared to that.
For those of you who don’t know, 3 years ago, my then 17 year old niece Bea was at the Brussels airport during the terrorist attack. You read about those events in the papers, and you never expect them to come close to home. She lost both her legs, was badly burned, her body filled with shrapnel. She was one of two survivors of one terminal, and was thought to be dead when they found her. She spent 7 months in a military hospital, and underwent more than 40 surgeries, and she will always have shrapnel in her body from the bombing. Unimaginable. She is an astoundingly brave and remarkable girl, with wonderful parents who got her through it. And she has more courage and guts than anyone I know. When she got out of the hospital, she finished high school and graduated. She did over a year of rehab with the Navy Seals. (She is half French and half American). She is now in college in the States. Her passion was horseback riding, and she was hoping to be in the Olympics. She is now training for the Paralympics, and sat on her beloved horse Deedee before she was even out of the hospital. The reunion of her and her horse was heart wrenching. Her horse Deedee was led out of its trailer, as a surprise for her, on the first day Bea was allowed to go out to the hospital garden. Deedee raced across the parking lot, and into the garden, went straight to Bea in her wheel chair, put her head on Bea’s shoulder, and licked her face. Bea began making a strong recovery from then on, and the love affair continues, as Bea now attends college and trains daily for the pre-Paralympic qualifying competitions. She had a recent setback for two months, which required more surgery for an infection. She’s on the mend now, and will be back in training again soon.
When I got the family update on her yesterday, it woke me up again. What Bea deals with every day is unthinkable to the rest of us, to come through something that immense and turn it into a positive life, and refuse to be defeated by a catastrophic, cataclysmic event so huge we can’t really even imagine it. It makes all my daily problems ridiculous by comparison: the suitcase that didn’t make it onto the plane with me 3 days ago (but eventually did turn up), the car repair, the bills that seem to multiply before they get to me, the harsh words exchanged with someone when I was tired, some minor disappointments. It shrinks to nothing when I am reminded of what Bea faces every day, and how brilliantly and bravely she has dealt with it, and her determination to lead an amazing life, and she surely will with her positive attitude. She is 20 now, and truly an extraordinary person.
So I’m sharing the wakeup call with you. Some people are dealing with such enormous things, and so successfully, that it shrinks my ‘problems’ to nothing. Bea is an inspiration to all who know her, and many who don’t. It makes me grateful for every waking moment. She is a blessing to us all. She didn’t just survive the attack, she met the challenge positively with immeasurable strength in every possible way, and still is. She is the definition of courage, in one totally amazing young girl.
Have a fantastic week—–and may all your challenges be small, and easily overcome!!!
with much love, Danielle
Bea’s Website: https://www.beaparathlete.org/
Ps. And to Mary Dixon, who asked if I’ve written any short books. The answer is yes. About 20 or 25 years ago, short books became fashionable for a short time (under 200 pages). They were VERY challenging to write, much more so than longer books, because in short books you have about half the time and space to tell the entire story in depth. During that time, I wrote a number of them: among them, “The Gift”, “Five Days in Paris”, “Second Chance”, and “Special Delivery”, and a few others. You might want to check them out. love, D.
Posted on March 18, 2019
I hope that all is well with you. Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, which I can lay no claim to, having no Irish relatives at all. But if it’s your holiday, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!
The riots in Paris are continuing and getting worse again, with stores destroyed, vandalized and looted—innocent stores like women and children’s clothing stores and the Disney store on the Champs Elysees. The city continues to live in fear on Saturdays, and the destruction continues. Violence is never the answer to anything and is disheartening to see.
I have done nothing but write for the last 10 days, and I’m happy with what I’m working on. I was working very closely on two books, and have really had fun with them. I hope you’ll love them too once they’re out.
My new book, Silent Night, is out and doing well, about Brain Injury. I hope you’ll read it and love it too, there’s some very good research in that book.
And when I work this hard writing, I work straight through most nights until 5 and 6 am, then I don’t do much else and am just on a constant cycle of writing, a few hours’ sleep, and then more writing—-so I’m not very interesting when I come up for air, and am a little dazed.
I saw my God children last night, which is always fun for me. And I hope to see some friends for lunch and dinner this week—-and to catch up on some fun things to tell you. In the meantime, take care, stay safe, work hard and have some fun!!!
much love, Danielle
Posted on January 7, 2019
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
Posted on November 5, 2018
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