Posted by: patricefitz | July 13, 2011

Leaving Lordship…

Hi Faithful Readers:

I have moved away from Lordship, on Long Island Sound, and though it will be immortalized as the inspiration for Arden-on-the-Sound in my new cozy mystery series (the Salt & Pepper series, which will be released in the fall), I will only be a visitor from now on.

I have moved about an hour north, to the West Hartford area (where I lived for 23 years before relocating to Fairfield County) and have a great house on a lake.  I’ve founded an electronic publishing company — eFitzgerald.  And I’ve published my first novel, electronically.  Check it out and download a sample here.  Or go ahead and invest the entire $4.99 for the whole book!  You can read it on Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Androids, your Mac or PC.

And in honor of that, I’m starting a new blog.  I’ll link it here once I get it up and running.  (Get it?  RUNNING?)

Thanks to all of you for reading me for these two years!

 

Posted by: patricefitz | December 25, 2010

Christmas Mitzvahs and Miracles

Yesterday I was doing my last grocery shopping for the holiday.  For Christmas Eve just a small dinner and singing the 9:00 service, for Christmas Day my traditional Beef Wellington, spinach pie, butternut squash, apple cranberry crisp with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream, for Boxing Day (the 26th) Derek and Ian join me and Richard and Kathleen for swordfish and shrimp.  After I went back into the parking lot, I saw a frazzled-looking woman wandering around from lane to lane pushing her cart.  Clearly she had forgotten where she had parked.  Finally she actually came out with it, wailing to the universe, “I can’t find my car!”  I hesitated for a moment, thinking about the frozen products I had just loaded into my trunk, and then figured that it was the perfect day to do a mitzvah — a good deed.  I drove my car into the lane where she had just landed (no small feat, considering the frantic drivers maneuvering through the full parking lot to do their critical holiday food shopping), and rolled down my window.  I asked her if I could help her find her car.  “Thank you so much.”  She was almost crying.  She couldn’t leave her cart, so I asked her for the license plate number.  “I don’t know.”  What kind of car?  “I don’t know, I’m so bad with that.  Maybe a Buick.  It has four doors.”  What color is it?  “Sort of… champagne.”  Hmm.  “It has an antenna on the rear windshield.” Okay.

She has half-blonde hair, a lot of lipstick, black sequins on her scarf, and turquoise chandelier earrings.  I wonder what the story is.  She doesn’t know what kind of car she has?

I take off and cruise the parking lot for about 10 minutes, without seeing anything that I think could be her car.  I finally give up, because I too need to get back home and finish my holiday preparations.  And I have so little to go on.  I drive back to her, where she seems calmer now.  I’m so sorry, I say, I can’t find it at all.  Maybe you should go back inside and get someone at the store to watch your cart, and I’m sure they can drive you around until you recognize it….  “Thank you,” she says.  “I’ll figure it out.  My mother died today.”

That took my breath away.  I couldn’t find her car, but I was glad that I had tried.  A small thing to do for another human being.  On a day when she needed it.

A few years ago, when my Dad was old, he couldn’t find his car after shopping.  A kind man drove him around in the dark, and when they had to give up, the man drove him home.  The next day, in the sunshine, he found it parked around the corner from the store.  He felt very sheepish.  But I was so glad to hear that someone had helped him get home.  A kind stranger doing a mitzvah.  So yesterday I paid it forward.

One of my friends is going through domestic turmoil at the moment.  She is moving out of her house, and trying to get herself safely situated before she tackles the bigger questions… like, what is she going to do for the rest of her life?  She was driving home from Christmas Eve dinner at her sister’s in the next state, and as she pulled up to a tollbooth, the moneyman waved her through.  “The lady up ahead paid for you.  She said to tell you Merry Christmas, and God loves you.”  Passing it on…

And last night, which was the fifth anniversary of the day I pinpoint as the date on which I fell in love with Richard, I was singing with him at the glorious, candle-lit, Christmas Eve service at our church.  Right in the middle of “O Come All You Faithful,” when he had quietly stepped away from the bass section of the choir, I heard the ringing sound of his trumpet on the descant in harmony with the voices and the organ.  As the peels of that bright sound came down all around the church, bringing memories of my Dad, also a trumpet player, and all the Christmases of years past, I felt the amazing miracle of our love.  That I found him; that he found me; that we love each other and get the chance to make a life together which continues to get sweeter every year.

And last night, just before we fell asleep, I listened again to the voicemail message he left me five years ago (!) on my cell.  That Christmas Eve, we had seen each other for dinner, then stood and watched the sun go down over the water in Southport.  That’s the moment I think I catapulted into love.  But we had to leave each other after dinner to sing at our respective Christmas Eve services.

In the voicemail message, left late that night five years ago, he said that he had thought of me “just as they were lighting the candles at the very end of the service.  I was thinking that tonight was so perfect, and I couldn’t think of anything that could have made it more perfect.  And then finally I did think of something that would make it even more perfect… and that would be, if I could be singing with you.”

Miracles do happen.

Merry Holidays.  Share the love.

Posted by: patricefitz | November 10, 2010

Great Books We All Should Read

Okay, so this morning I just finished reading Catcher in the Rye.  Unbelievable, right?  You would have thought I’da been assigned it in high school.  And though I wasn’t… most of my friends were… and geez, what kind of a phony English major was I if I hadn’t read old J.D.’s masterpiece?  He was such a sexy bastard.  He kills me.

In fact, I thought I had read it, years ago.  It was a shock to me to realize that I must have stopped somewhere along the way.  Actually, I can remember brother Rob (3 years older) having that book lying around when he was in maybe 10th grade.  Which would have made me a 7th grader.  And I know that I picked it up then, being both precocious and a slightly obnoxious little sister… I was always reading his texts.  But it was too old for me at the time, and I didn’t really get it.

And then I got into 10th or 11th grade, and started reading it when the kids in the other English class did, and loved it.  But apparently I never finished it! Which I discovered to my great surprise when I got to the end this morning.  And it’s not as though it takes a lot of time to read!

In fact, I was describing the part I remembered to my husband this morning… from reading it in high school, which I clearly did not… and the part I “remembered” doesn’t even show up in Catcher in the Rye.  I’m wondering if I remember it from Portnoy’s Complaint… another tale of adolescent angst.  (I recollected a nonexistent scene where our young man protagonist takes pity on a plump waitress and asks her out, only to discover that she’s married.  My hubby remembered an actual scene where one of Holden Caulfield’s dates puts on a short skating skirt and shakes her cute little ass — Holden’s words, not my husband’s — in front of the narrator.)  Points to Richard.

More than that, I remember landing not once but twice in one of those “go to your daughter’s class” days at MPS where they were discussing Catcher, and I learned that Holden had lost a sibling, and wondered how I could possibly have forgotten that.  Because I guess I never knew it, though it’s described really early in the book.  It boggles the mind.

But Catcher in the Rye isn’t the only book that I, a proud reader, writer, and English major, have mistakenly thought I read.  The other major tome was The Great Gatsby!  By my namesake (no relation).  I read part of it in high school, but apparently never finished it.  I picked it up again about 10 years ago — oh this old thing, everyone’s read that, old boy — and discovered to my amazement that I didn’t even know the plot!

Okay, the great thing about this is that you get to read some spectacular books that you’ve been hearing about for years and find out what they’re really all about — and both these novels have cool happenings as well as great writing, and so are very neat to read as an adult and discover for the first time.  The bad thing is that it’s kinda embarrassing.

But every other great book out there that we all should read that I remember I’ve read I have actually read.

I think.

Posted by: patricefitz | October 16, 2010

I see your rejection, and raise you one sassy response!

Dear Underpaid, Overworked Intern:

Pssssst!  Over here!  (Just keep your head down, eyes on the screen, and act like you’re working.  Like when you’re updating fb or checking out a game of strip Tic Tac Toe.)

I got your standard form rejection, which you and I both know you had to send on the orders of your Scrooge-like literary agent boss.  Yeah, I recognize that you’ve got a quota – at least 50 “we regret to say, other agents may feel differently, subjective business, blah blah blah” notes every day.

But now that you’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s be honest.  I know you recognize the worth of my manuscript.  It’s hard to decide if my publishing arc will look more like that of Stieg Larsson or Stephenie Meyer, but I’ll be satisfied either way.

So I’ll make you a deal.  We both know it’s gotten old, this kowtowing to the bigwigs in your office.  This… “run and get me a latte, there’s a good intern,” or “you don’t mind staying late to burn the slush pile in the working fireplace on Friday night, do you, hon?  We sure can’t afford to heat this big office with oil, what with all those Kindles out there!”

Here’s my proposition.  You ditch that dead end job, start up your own literary agency next week, and I’ll be your first – and biggest – client.  We’ll take on the industry together!  We’ll teach them a thing or two!  All platforms… print, electronic, and intergalactic.  We’ll make a bundle – you and me together, babe.

You know where to reach me.  I think this could be the start of a beautiful friendship!

Sincerely,

Humble (soon-to-be-bestselling) Author

Posted by: patricefitz | October 15, 2010

Sharing the Costs

Hi peeps!  Long time, no blog.

I’m back at last.

This summer we took part in a CSA — Community Supported Agriculture — venture.  We paid a chunk of cash up front to help support a local farm (about 25 minutes from us) and every week we trot up there to get our “half share” of the farm’s bounty.  It’s been both interesting and a bit challenging.

I have to confess that a lot of the more exotic greens (skapes, anyone?) went to waste.  We could have done a more diligent job at searching out information about the items we were unfamiliar with, and learning how to prepare them.  We were, however, faithful in using more common foods like corn (delicious and fresh), eggs (seemingly richer and more “hearty” than the ones from the supermarket), and local chicken (notably smaller, but more flavorful and, we think, much safer).

All in all both an educational experience and one that has helped me to connect my food to the place it comes from and the people who produce it.  I’ve just ordered our Thanksgiving turkey from the farm, and am looking forward to seeing how it tastes in comparison to your standard Butterball.

I feel good knowing that we gave some financial support to this farming family — they earned it — and we got better food in return.

This was a question posted on my friend Susan Campbell’s blog, Dating Jesus.  (That’s the title of her very interesting book about being raised religiously.)  I recommend it.  That is, the blog.  The book too.

She started by saying she’d always expected to be famous.  So this is what I said:

I always thought I would be famous, if not necessarily rich and. I’m still waiting — it might happen this year, or next.

I thought I would be a writer. Or, actually, I thought I would be a writer until I hit puberty, and then figured I wasn’t smart enough, and I was a girl, and the good books were written by boys. I read a lot of good books, but didn’t know that Harper Lee was a woman, and S.E. Hinton was a woman, and George Eliot was a woman.

I think maybe I’ll just be “famous” in the way one gets famous in high school — most kids know who you are, but it’s not a big deal. Because it’s only high school. Isn’t life like that?

I didn’t expect to be a lawyer. I didn’t expect to go back to school at 50 and become a professional singer. One career was okay, and the other is fantastic. Guess which?

I didn’t really expect to be a wife, but I think I wanted to be. Since I didn’t expect to be a wife, I didn’t expect to be a mom, but I loved it.

I didn’t expect to be married twice!

Maybe I’ll write a book about all that and get rich and famous.

Posted by: patricefitz | June 18, 2010

Long-lost blogger

I’m here again, at last!  I know you’ve been pining away for me.

I’m hard at work rewriting RUNNING, my political thriller that was in a drawer for a few years.  A bold new plot point involving a third-party right-wing candidate is bringing it into the current era, so that protag Catherine has some competition.

Here’s the current query letter.  Tell all your agent friends!

Vice President Catherine Young has just been anointed the Democratic nominee for president when her past comes roaring back to haunt her, in the form of a gorgeous Brazilian woman who claims to be her illegitimate daughter.

This political bombshell blows the race wide open and leaves Young vulnerable to the darling of the far right, surging third-party candidate Jerusha Graham.  When Catherine is called back to the White House as the President undergoes an emergency appendectomy, she’s officially in charge – the first woman in history to act as President of the United States.  What follows includes the murder of an F.B.I. agent, a cocaine-fueled chase across the nation’s capital, and media both old and new foaming at the mouth to uncover the candidate’s “secret black love child.”

RUNNING is a political thriller, complete at 85,000 words.

My background includes stints with the Federal government in the security office of the State Department, 15 years as an attorney, and 15 years of writing professionally.

Posted by: patricefitz | April 14, 2010

Fun with Procrastination

I discovered a new website recently, a wonderfully funny ‘Net timewaster called Awkward Family Photos.  Definitely check out the hall of fame archives. There are some photos there (and a few letters) that are not to be believed.  My current fave is the pregnant hockey mom.

Words fail.

Posted by: patricefitz | April 12, 2010

Memoir vs. self-help vs. fiction

Hello Blog Followers!

I’ve been distracted with many things musical and otherwise, but I am back at last.

I have hardly touched my book since the end of last year.  Part of that was purposeful; to give myself some perspective.  Part of it was procrastination.  I am strong in the procrastination areas!  (So proud.)  And part of it was because when I actually picked it up, and began to read the first chapter (remember the weeper who saw angels?) I was oh-so-weary of rethinking those same pages.  Naturally, the first chapter is the one I’ve thought about, shared, and rewritten about 52 times, as opposed to the last chapters, which I’ve looked at maybe twice.  In fact, there are parts of the book in which I barely know what I wrote!

Since no agents have called at my door (yet) begging to be allowed to publish my soon-to-be bestselling memoir cum self-help book [cum means "with" in Latin, and it's a perfectly acceptable academic word, you pervy weirdos who search sketchy terms on the intertubes], I am taking a hard look [okay, now I'm getting paranoid about even innocent words appearing in a sentence together] at the ms. again and considering which of the following forms I want to go with:

1) memoir, which has the advantage of letting me be me, and gives me the ability to promote my book as being about me myself, but apparently agents etc. are sick of memoirs… but they haven’t yet read mine!

2) self-help, which is rarer (and has its own bestseller lists… just in case) and folks are less sick thereof, but said form requires me to indicate or fake some sort of expertise, and all I really have — or claim to be expert in — is my own experience.  I mean, I’d be happy to write about other people down the road, in bestselling superwise advice books no. 2 and 3, but this book is full enough with just my own adventures.  Or…

3) novel, which lets me embroider at will, and solves the problem of feeling so exposed and having other folks all up in my bidness (and if a girl is too worried about this, she better forget about writing a memoir), but also makes it all sound fake, after I’ve gone to the trouble of making it all the sterling truth — because the truth is pretty funny – plus it means that when Oprah renews her talk show contract in 2011 and starts up a new book club because of the brilliance, humor, and gosh-darn-it wisdom of my book and how it forced her out of retirement to bring this glorious tome to the world, I can’t admit that it’s all about me!

Anyway, I’m going to sit down and read it over the next couple of days, see what I’ve got, and make a decision.  I so want to get this message out to other folks, about finding love and learning about self and having a fun time along the way.  So Ima do it!  Someway somehow.

And in the meantime I’ve been having a blast writing wickedly surprising short stories and sharing them with my excellent, supportive, and fun critique group.  Thanks, guys!

Posted by: patricefitz | February 23, 2010

Have you heard about Agentinbox?

Check out this encouraging video about a debut author of YA fiction who found his agent and eventually sold his book to Simon and Schuster via Agentinbox, a feature of the online site for writers, WEbook.com.

There is hope, fellow writers!

Posted by: patricefitz | February 7, 2010

I vote for Precious

A lot of people are talking about “Precious” and whether the reactions are falling along racial lines.  Ishmael Reed, in the New York Times, says that, “Among black men and women, there is widespread revulsion and anger over the Oscar-nominated film about an illiterate, obese black teenager who has two children by her father.”

I can’t say how black people feel.  But I can tell you how one white woman feels.

I finally saw the film, just this weekend. I had been putting it off because I thought it would be pretty hard to take — and it was, but it was also powerful and worthwhile. I went out and bought the book and finished it today. The book is even more specific about the abuse than the movie, but the main character’s amazing growth in understanding, because we are privy to her thoughts, is even more compelling.

Does it portray this particular black family as monstrous?  Indeed it does.  Even Director Lee Daniels said, before he showed the film in Cannes, that he was in part embarrassed to have a foreign white crowd see black folks this way.

Ironically, in the book, the character Precious reads The Color Purple and identifies with the protagonist, and learns that there are people who didn’t think it should be made into a film because it paints black men in a bad light. The character Precious, who is just learning to write, says, “I love The Color Purple. That book give me so much strength. Ms Rain say a group of black men wanted to stop movie from the book. Say unfair picture of [black] men. She ax me what do I think. Unfair picture? Unfortunately it a picture I know, except of course Farakkhan who is real man.”

I did feel that Sapphire (the author of the book PUSH on which Precious was based) who was both a social worker and a teacher for a number of years, must have combed her case files to pile all the dysfunction she could find on this one young lady’s family. But you know… that’s what we do in books. We find the extreme, the dramatic, the most moving story. And open it up to the world.

Certainly Charles Dickens portrayed most of his characters as the most unfortunate of wretches, and often the victims of people who should have protected them.  And 16-year-old Precious is Dickensian in the extreme.

Ishmael Reed is right that when awful things are done by white characters in film, we don’t impute that to all whites — but that’s because white is the dominant culture. We look at such a movie and say, yeah, some people are slimy. We don’t say all white people are slimy.  It will be interesting to see the reactions to a film about Stieg Larsson’s character Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” — another woman who is subject to unconscionable abuse — a white woman.

And I don’t think most Caucasions will watch “Precious” and conclude that there is a lot of abuse amongst African-Americans — except to the extent that such horrendous abuse would probably be noticed and attended to if Precious weren’t one of the most marginalized of children.

That’s the point I think the film is trying to make. Sometimes children are treated horribly. In this case, no one looked hard enough to discover what was going on and why she was in such dire straits.

The white women in this film, the social worker (Ms. Weiss, who was played by Mariah Carey but is of indeterminate race, a point Precious makes) and one of her teachers, are mostly well-meaning clueless types who sometimes make things worse. I don’t think they’re lauded as the saviors in the least.

I think Mr. Reed took racial umbrage too far in his attempt to make points. But yeah — maybe we need to make the same film with terrible white parents doing shocking things to their white daughter. Only the difference is that probably someone would rescue her. As they should have rescued Precious.

But finally she rescued herself.

Posted by: patricefitz | February 6, 2010

Fitzgerald (the other one) and his local inspirations

I often kid with people that the reason I both write and sing is because my grandfather was F. Scott Fitzgerald and my grandmother was Ella Fitzgerald.  They look impressed for a moment, and then the light dawns… I must be kidding.

Which of course I am.  I don’t think the two knew each other, and if they did, they wouldn’t be the right ages. Ella, born in 1917, was almost the same age as my Dad, who was born in 1919.  F. Scott was born in 1896, so he’s of an earlier generation.

But here’s something that’s true — I wrote a fun column about F. Scott Fitzgerald and his summer in Westport, Connecticut, which seems to have inspired The Great Gatsby.  Read it at Westport Patch.

Posted by: patricefitz | January 20, 2010

A Little Inspiration for Writers

Don’t give up.

Jessie Foveaux, who began writing her memoir at 80, sold it for a million bucks when she was 98.

Helen Hoover Santmyer sold a best-seller at 84.

Freddie Mae Baxter got a six-figure advance when she was 75.

Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book in the “Little House” series at 65.

Norman Maclean, who wrote his first novel, A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT, at 75, had it turned into a film starring Brad Pitt, among others.

It’s not too late for the rest of us!

Posted by: patricefitz | December 27, 2009

Tax Season for Singers

December is almost over, and the big performance month for church singers is coming to an end.  It’s wonderful to have so many places to sing, and so much beautiful music to enjoy… an embarrassment of riches!

We did the Vivaldi Gloria at the Unitarian Church in Westport (avec une solo pour moi), two French and one English carol at the Congregational Church in Weston with a small chamber group, and the Vallis Musicae Lessons & Carols in Farmington — unfortunately we missed the first one because of that big snowstorm, but the group is still going strong, and planning the third choir trip abroad — this one to Argentina!  And we joined the Special Projects Choir at the Westport UU church for Christmas eve.  We’re also singing solos and duets (and Richard is playing trumpet) at the Unitarian Meetinghouse in Hartford, rescheduled from 12/20 to 1/3 for an extended Christmas-season service.

In years past, I’ve sometimes hit two churches on Christmas Eve by singing at the evening service at the Meetinghouse then jetting over to St. Pat’s in Farmington when Gabi was there to sing at the 11:00 p.m. mass.  Doable as long as the weather isn’t bad.

What’s tough is that all of this wonderful opportunity comes at cold season, and a lot of rehearsal combined with a lot of germs can sometimes mean you end up with an overtaxed voice at Christmastime.

If only the big winter holiday happened in the summer!

Posted by: patricefitz | December 25, 2009

Opening the Door to a Stranger

Several years ago, I was asked to sing at a midnight service on Christmas Eve in a church some distance from my home. I was living in West Hartford at the time.

The invitation came at a time when I wasn’t singing regularly, and I missed it.  I knew that I could work this one-evening commitment into my busy life — nurse five-month-old Laurie, leave the house by 10:30 p.m., get to the church for a brief rehearsal, and be back in time to get a few hours sleep before she woke up for her 6 a.m. feeding.

It seems odd to me now that I would make this trip, in virtually the middle of the night, to a church I didn’t know.  But I wanted to sing, and I was flattered to be asked.

On the way there, it was bitter cold, and I lost my way.  I found myself on a four-lane highway.  At this time in my life, I was in baby mode, and my world was circumscribed by the tiny and tender.  The traffic on that highway, sparse though it was so late on Christmas Eve, seemed to crush in on me.  Cars in a hurry.  Trucks in a hurry.  People in a hurry.

Everyone was rushing.

I stopped by a lonesome payphone to double check the church address; it was long before we used cell phones.  I felt the bright bite of snowflakes on my nose and inside my collar.

When I finally arrived at the church, I stepped into a glorious, light-filled foyer, aglow with candles and flowers.  The rehearsal was nearly over, but I knew this music.  I donned a choir robe, and I was ready.

Slowly, as the congregation assembled in the pews, the vaulted ceiling filled with the happy sound of holiday greetings.  We in the choir made our way up the aisle in a candle-lit procession, our voices echoing throughout the sanctuary.  We sang “Angels We Have Heard On High” and the harmonic peals of the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” swirled around the church and beamed off the stained glass saints.

I was so glad I had come.

Afterwards, I got in the car for the long, cold drive home.  It was 1:30 a.m. on Christmas morning.  Still sated with the glow of music and warmth, but very tired, I coasted back toward home.  I knew that my baby daughter would be up with the dawn.  All I could think about was how good my bed would feel.

Just before I turned onto Homestead Avenue in Hartford, in a part of town where I sometimes lock my doors, I noticed a car ahead trying to avoid something in the road.  In the middle of the street, on a patch of ice, lay an old coat.  No.  It was. . . an injured dog?

Oh my God.

It was a body.

Continued at Westport Patch

Posted by: patricefitz | December 13, 2009

This is not how I expected it to be

I don’t know about you, but I’m 54.  I didn’t exactly anticipate drifting off into the sunset at this age, happily surrounded by every material thing I could imagine.  I’m not ready to drift off anywhere yet.

I’ve been lucky in life; lucky with my parents, lucky with my education, lucky with so much of what has come to me, some of which I earned and some of which I simply, well… lucked into.  So I can’t complain.  And I certainly never asked for mansions or yachts or diamonds dripping off me.  Which, as it turns out, I didn’t get.  But I live well enough.

What I didn’t expect was this creeping dread.  This lingering feeling that I can only compare to the omnipresent fear of nuclear annihilation that I grew up with.  We at St. Mary’s School did the drill regularly, climbing under our desks with our hands over our heads and experiencing the peculiar confusion that hits a seven-year-old when she’s trying to contemplate how a wooden desk could stop the mushroom clouds.  But Sister said to do it, so we did.

And thus I grew up knowing that someday, probably, unimaginable destruction would visit my neighborhood.  If not today, then soon.

Of course it never happened, and slowly that amorphous fear dissipated.  Around the time the Soviet Union imploded, it disappeared.  Sorta.  Kinda. Leaving only the shadow of the original fear.  Once you live with that type of long-term dread, it doesn’t ever go away completely.

What I didn’t worry about was economic concerns.  My dad talked about (and reacted to) the Depression his whole life.  His worldview was shaped by that experience, much as I am sure today’s young people will be influenced by our current financial straits.

I worried about money in the normal way; there were ups and downs, but there was always money for food and shelter and the occasional movie. Sometimes lots more than that.

But now… the fear has come back.  This kind of “we don’t know how bad it will get, or how to solve it” feeling that you can’t get your mind around, except as a frightening specter.  A concern that the unknown might be coming… the unknown that could be worse than you can handle.

It’s okay for now; I’m young yet.  I’m not excited about feeling this kind of dread ten, twenty, thirty years from now.

That would be bad.

But then again, maybe by that stage I won’t really see past the small circle of my days and my intimates.  And I won’t know.

And I won’t care.

Posted by: patricefitz | December 8, 2009

Tiger Woods Mistress #10 — Okay, I confess. It’s me!

I’ve had enough.  All these babes coming out of the Woodswork (you know I had to say it).  And not a word about me and the greatest golfer of all time.

It’s true that I’m not a Perkins waitress, a porn star, or a golf tournament groupie. But gosh darn it, I will not be ignored.

Our trysts did not involve Ambien, texting, sexting, or tweeting.  They were, in fact, more traditional.

I liked it that way.

Tiger and I got together through the old-fashioned medium of television.  I watched him as often as I could manage — I had to make sure that my husband didn’t get jealous — it couldn’t be every weekend.

I remember my eager anticipation as Tiger approached, his manly shoulders squared. The masterful way he wrapped his strong arms around the equipment.  The long drives followed by the short strokes.  And then… I blush to say… my bliss when it went into the hole.

No one can imagine how he made me feel.

And now it’s all so dirty!  The tabloids, the press frenzy.  All those floozies.  Nine of them, as of yesterday.  Maybe thirteen tomorrow.

I’m above that kind of trash.  My relationship with Tiger was aboveboard.  So pristine and admirable was my love that even his wife approved.

I’m proud to say that she knew all about me.  And she didn’t mind.

Alas, it’s ruined.  Never again can the man of my dreams tee it up for me in quite the same way.

Farewell, Tiger my love.  I will always remember the way you swing.

And don’t worry; I’ve taken my name off my phone.

P.S.  Call me when the paparazzi go home!

Posted by: patricefitz | December 4, 2009

The joy of bookstores

A little belatedly, I admit, I just came across this short but wonderful speech given by Paul Auster upon receiving the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association’s Legacy Award prize in the fall.  Read it at the Carol Mann Agency blog.

Also, watch this space for an encore posting of one of my first ever (and most favorite) blog entries, in celebration of my one year anniversary as a blogger.  And this time I’m going to add the photos I took!

Posted by: patricefitz | November 29, 2009

Freelancin’

Dear Faithful Readers:

If you’ve noticed that I haven’t been blogging much this month, it’s because I picked up two freelance gigs for the newly launched Patch online news sites covering Ridgefield and Westport, Connecticut.  It’s been great fun but it is taking up some time.  I guess that’s why they pay us!

Check out all my articles at both Westport Patch and Ridgefield Patch via this page.  So far I’ve covered such topics as the electronic connections of the a gubernatorial candidate from Ridgefield, the canine star of an upcoming middle school musical, a wonderful charity event featuring delectable chowders, and comedian Bob Saget of Full House (who turns out to have a really dirty mind.)

But the super excellent outstanding news is that I finished my book LOOKING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM: How You Can Find Love Online and have sent all 63,000 words off to an awesome agent who may, if my dreams come true, offer to represent me.  Send all good wishes in my direction!

Posted by: patricefitz | October 29, 2009

Sonnet for Colin McEnroe – for Sonnet Day on WNPR

Sonnet For Colin McEnroe

When pledge day comes and Colin takes the mic
His listeners ‘pon the edge their chairs do sit
And wallets out, both rich and poor alike
Do calculate just what their budgets fit
His lofty sonic effort to support
Through means most tightly strain’ed by the times
Yet who amongst them would not still resort
To begging, theft or e’er more heinous crimes
For McEnroe’s a tonic for our state
An edifying, entertaining rake
Who makes us laugh and keeps us up to date
And all the while makes politicians quake

Yes, his show afflicts the comfortable sore
But comforts the afflicted… even more.

Posted by: patricefitz | October 18, 2009

Marketing in the New Media Age

Ellis Weiner at The New Yorker has outdone himself in writing a very funny parody about the current state of marketing in the book biz.  And these days, you have to go pretty far to make it clear that you are exaggerating, when all around us the literary landscape is changing in exciting/scary ways.

I didn’t understand half the stuff referred to in this piece, but it was hilarious anyway!

Posted by: patricefitz | October 16, 2009

Your Youngest Moment

I realized recently, while ruminating about the meaning of life, that every day — every instant — we are all as young as we will ever be.  Some people talk about how even babies are getting older all the time … and they are … but we are all also at any moment the YOUNGEST we will ever be.

So instead of thinking about our lost youth, or worrying about a wrinkle or a gray hair, we should concentrate on that thought. NOW is the best time for everything.  We will never have this young a moment again.

Savor this precious, youthful day.

Dancing on the beach on MV

Dancing on the beach on MV

Posted by: patricefitz | October 1, 2009

Look! It’s a VOOK!

You should know that there is a very cool new item which has just become available — the Vook.  It combines digital text with video segments, and can be watched online or with your iPhone.  Check it out through the Simon & Schuster page above, where the first four titles are available.

Two fiction and two nonfiction Vooks are being released today, at only $6.99 each.  In fiction, there’s a thriller by Richard Doetsch and a romance by Jude Devereaux — original novellas of between 25,000 and 40,000 words which were commissioned for this purpose and will not be sold as books.  The videos apparently move the action along, too — they’re not just pretty moving pictures that accompany a traditional story.  The two nonfiction titles are a beauty book and an exercise book, which allow the reader/viewer (hmmm… if you get a Vook, are you a Veader??) to watch examples of exercises, etc., along the way.

It’s always fun to be at the beginning of something.  Will we look back at the first Vooks and giggle at an idea that never took off?  Or is it the dawn of a new age in entertainment?


Posted by: patricefitz | September 21, 2009

Wanna sell books?

Authors who want to be read owe it to themselves to create a presence on the web that is both exciting and interactive. There are so many avenues for connectivity now that it is daunting… but amazing and wonderful at the same time.

Thad McIlroy recently posted “What Makes A Great Author Website” on his blog The Future of Publishing. It’s surprising how few people have managed to tap into the potential of the internets to attract (and keep) readers.  Or perhaps it’s not so surprising — since it’s an art in itself, and there’s no question that keeping up a site which serves a lot of readers takes a lot of time and effort.

Wonderful author websites that I’ve discovered and visit regularly include Susan Campbell’s Dating Jesus blog, M.J. Rose’s website, and Douglas Clegg’s website.  Of course, it shouldn’t be surprising that the latter two are on the advancing edge of the web as a promotional tool.  They created AuthorBuzz and literally wrote the book about getting the word out electronically.

We’ve all heard about how it’s not enough to write a good book.  An author has to get that book in the hands of readers in any way possible.  It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the work you do on the web is as important as the work you do in putting words on paper in the first place.

No one’s going to do it for us, folks!

My little blog here is less than a year old, and I’m using it to learn about the tools.  As soon as I get a contract for LOOKING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM (sending prayers to the publishing gods) I am going to set up a new website and start blogging under that name, directing my energies specifically toward becoming an internet dating and relationship guru… because that’s what I’ll be selling.  Right now I’m practicing.

So, dear reader, do you know of a site that promotes an author well?

Posted by: patricefitz | September 17, 2009

Go see District 9

I was so impressed with District 9.

My preference is to go into a movie with no preconceived notions, other than knowing it’s worth my time. I hate it when I know part of the plot, or if I’ve seen the trailer with all the funny bits already. That spoils the film for me.

So I went into this movie just having heard it was good, and original, and had quite a bit of violence — which I am all right with sitting through if the story is worthwhile. It is quite gritty, full of blood and guts in particular places, but nevertheless this movie is about something, and it discusses themes that I find universally important, about power, control, and the fear of the other.

I can’t tell you more than that, or I’ll spoil it! But I think you should go.

In my theater, there were a mix of young people and older folks, and I even saw one couple (my generation, more or less) leave early on. I think they found it too sci-fi. Once upon a time, I was deeply into sci-fi, and I still love it for the way it can present completely new worlds which make us see our own lives differently.

Also, with District 9, when you come home you can check out the awesome websites which carry the movie’s theme forward in fun ways. And I think the director and company are concocting a sequel as we speak.

If you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear what you think.

Posted by: patricefitz | September 15, 2009

Persistence

Calvin Coolidge said:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

I think it was Joe Finder, at the Hawaii Writers Conference, who told us that the successful writer is often the “last man standing” who keeps writing. Lots of people talk about writing books, but fewer start books, and fewer still finish. We were congratulated on being amongst the 1% of folks who actually wrote a book.

I’ve written three finished books, and parts of lots of others, along with 1.5 screenplays, about a quarter of a musical (plus lots of notes — ah, pun not intended), and shorts stories galore.

And so I am still writing books, 17 years (!) after I had the idea for the first one. From 1992 to 1993, being inspired by John Grisham’s “The Firm,” and thinking, hey, I’m a lawyer, and I can do that too! I wrote a sort of courtroom drama about three women who start a law firm. The gist of it is that well-known attorney Catherine represents the wife of a big deal former senator in a contentious divorce, while Catherine’s partner Jackie (a blonde, legal femme fatale who is fond of her spirits and very much a Samantha; before there was a Samantha) conducts a secret and torrid affair with the Senator himself. A third partner is the hard-working former prosecutor Tiara, a part that I was sure would be perfect for Oprah in the movie. The first title was “Conflict of Interest” which morphed into “The Law of Desire” and then “Motions” and on through another several possibilities.

The central idea was good, but I didn’t know how to write yet. When I got all three partners in the room for the big blow-up fight, where all hell was supposed to break loose, I had them weep a bit, apologize and hug and… have tea. Ack! Readers, note that tendency to avoid conflict — which we all do in real life. Seek conflict! Hype the fights! Stoke the anger!!

Anyway, that book is sitting in the drawer somewhere. When I get rich and famous on my memoir, and they beg me to pull out some earlier material so they can produce it quickly to sate my clamoring public, I will give it a little freshening up (and a lot more conflict) and voila! A fabulous new novel from the famous me.

Posted by: patricefitz | September 13, 2009

I’m in BOOK; The Sequel!

Book: The Sequel by Clive Priddle

Hey, guess what? My “sequel” sentence was chosen for inclusion in BOOK; The Sequel, which was edited, printed, and distributed at the Book Expo in May in record time. Here’s one review:

“A truly unique exercise in its creation (in 48 hours from manuscript submission to finished book!), that also turns out to be a hilarious read!”
by Steve Sauder on May 30, 2009

You’ll have to buy it to see my contribution — but let’s just say that “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a writer of good imagination will come up with a funny sequel…” Actually, you can read the entire book online — and you can find my sentence on page 78, which comes out as page 88 online. Check it out!

Posted by: patricefitz | September 12, 2009

Best Blogs for Writers

Check out this list of the 25 best writing blogs of 2009 from Editor Unleashed.  Some exciting blogs on which to learn and also procrastinate, while the intricate writerly gears are meshing along in your head!

It’s really extraordinary the amount of information that is now available on the internets.  The blog has come of age in a big way for those in the book biz, and while one does have to be careful not to spend so much time cruising that no actual writing gets done, there is a cornucopia of knowledge there for the taking.  From simple things like manuscript format to query letter advice to info about the nuts and bolts (mostly nuts) of the writing process, it’s all available for free, right at your fingertips.  So go out there and take it!

Posted by: patricefitz | September 10, 2009

Back from the Hawaii Writers Conference. Alooooooha!

I had a gorgeous time in Honolulu, staying with my cousins a couple miles from Waikiki, learning a lot about the art and biz of writing, and meeting new friends.  Oh, and floating in the glorious waters of the Pacific!

I’ve been to writing conferences before, but this is the big Kahuna.  One night we sat and listened to three Academy Award- winning screenwriters.  When I asked Michael Arndt (who wrote “Little Miss Sunshine”) to repeat the famously funny advice Grandpa gives to the silent teen Duane, he laughed and advised those in the audience who hadn’t seen it to go to Blockbuster and rent the film.

It was inspiring to hear from all the writers and agents and editors there.  I was lucky to be able to do it so economically, since I had local free accommodations, and enough air miles to fly.

My long-term plan is to go back as a presenter, once I sell my book.  I made some good connections and have a number of folks who invited me to send sample pages.  Wish me luck!

Posted by: patricefitz | August 30, 2009

Colin Mac is back!

At 1:00 p.m. on Monday, August 31, Colin McEnroe comes back to the airwaves of Connecticut, courtesy of NPR.

I’m thrilled to have him back again, and to know that I can hear him in Fairfield County.  Plus, he will be streamed live online, and if you miss that you can hear his show as a podcast.

They’re calling it The Colin McEnroe Show — not exactly inventive, but recognizable — and it comes complete with a cool new logo.  WNPR describes it as a new “hour-long exploration of news, arts, culture, and life that draws on national and local voices in daily conversation.”  The current deal is for a 13-week pilot series to air weekdays from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on WNPR and online at http://www.WNPR.org, beginning Monday, August 31, 2009.

Colin has a unique sense of humor and a biting intellectual curiosity, which serve him wonderfully in print but seem to reach their zenith on radio.  I’m excited that he’s back, and I predict that a national audience will follow as he spreads his wings in a venue that is better suited to his extraordinary talents.

Congratulations, Colin.  We can’t wait to hear your voice again.

Posted by: patricefitz | August 28, 2009

Money to fund your dream…

Apparently Ryan Seacrest (the host of American Idol) is producing a new reality game show, called “Chance.”

Here’s the hot word from the internets:

Do you need CA$H to fulfill your dreams?

No matter how extraordinary, selfless or off the wall your dream might be, a new reality game show needs you! Whether you’re asking for $50.00 or $250,000, if you’ve got passion and the gift of gab the money could be yours! You can literally ask for anything!  Is there something you’ve always wanted but could never quite afford?  Do you have a lifelong ambition that you are desperate to fulfill?  We’re looking for people to come up with unique and exciting ideas.

So, do you think they’re going to have people wanting to open a hot new bar pitted against a family that needs surgery for one of the kids?

Me, I’d go for world peace.  How much ya got, Ryan?

Posted by: patricefitz | July 29, 2009

Texting the kids

Have you noticed that your kids respond better to texting than to phone calls?  It’s odd, because just when you think you can’t reach them because their phone must not be charged, they will respond instantly to a text message.

Well, I’ve figured it out.  Texting has several distinct qualities which make them respond:

1)  They don’t know it’s you!  It could be that new hottie your kid has been checking out, instead of dull old Mom wanting to know if he will be home in time for dinner.

2)  They can read it quickly — there is little time involved, and no complications like someone asking where they are.

3)  They can read it surreptitiously — in a restaurant, in a movie theater, in class.

4)  Reading a text gives nothing away.  No one knows if/when it’s been read.  So they can choose to respond or not.  Safe and secret!

If you haven’t jumped on the texting band wagon, you will soon.  It’s often the only way to get your son or daughter to answer….

Posted by: patricefitz | July 12, 2009

I wrote 307 words in 7 minutes on Write or Die!

I’m trying out this new website, Write or Die: Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab, which is supposed to inspire writers to actually, well, write instead of thinking about writing, talking about writing, or wishing they were writing.  

The site has several different settings, where you can put in how many words you’d like to produce, how long you have to write them, and what the consequences of not writing should be.  You can simply have the screen tell you to hurry up (in my case, it seems to turn pink) or it can play nasty sounds — bad music, I guess, but as I write this I haven’t heard anything yet, so perhaps I’ll beat the system! I n “Kamikaze Mode” it actually erases the words you have written if you don’t continue writing!

Okay, I hesitated and the screen went pink there for just a minute, but then I started writing again, so I didn’t hear the music. Let’s see what happens if I actually pause on purpose.  

What happens is that it turns pale pink, and then darker pink, and then several different darker shades, until finally it is kind of a shocking orange-red… and if you STILL don’t start writing, it plays something that starts with an odd voice saying “It’s peanut butter jelly time, it’s peanut butter jelly time…”  I don’t recognize the music (loosely defined) — maybe I need ot get out more?  

The second time I let it go to red, I heard something slightly different, from the same song.  My husband looked up both times and winced, saying, “Can you please turn that thing down?”

I think that this could be very inspirational!  So far it has been effective enough to inspire me to write 307 words in 7 minutes. If I were getting paid for this I would be making the big bucks!!

Of course, you can’t just write nonsense.  You have to have something you want to produce, and this keeps you going.  It would help inhibit poor habits such as stopping to edit extensively, going to the cookie jar for something to munch on, or deciding that you must stop writing to get a new pedicure immediately.

I’m going to use it for a few days and report back.

Fellow writers are invited to do independent investigations and let me know of their own experiences.

Posted by: patricefitz | July 6, 2009

The Undeniable Joys of Unemployment

My darling (new — just last August!) hubby was laid off at the beginning of May.  It’s kind of scary, not having money coming in on a regular basis.  We are very lucky that we have a cushion, and we are both looking for ways to create income in the long term.  But having the summer off together?  Bliss.

Here are a few examples of the upside.  We can:

1.  Ride our bikes together.

2.  Take our time reading the Times.

3.  Go to all the movies, from the silly to the sublime.

4.  Clean out the garage (okay, does this count as a joy?)

5.  Help the kids, and it turns out that they need some help this summer.

6.  Plan the garden we’ve been talking about.

7.  Buy the bushes and flowers for the garden we’ve been talking about.

8.  Plant the garden we’ve been talking about.

9.  Weed the garden we’ve been talking about.

10.  Wonder what is the problem with the garden we’ve been talking about.

11.  Plan next year’s garden.

12.  Go to the outdoor market on Monday and buy the things we haven’t been able to grow.

13.  Talk to the neighbors.

14.  Go on Day-cations, Stay-cations, and have Alter-cations.

15.  Sit around on the beach and get burned.

16.  Catch up on all those books in our pile.

17.  Plan real vacations for when we have money again.

18.  Reorganize the kitchen.

19.  Finish (mostly) decorating the house.

20.  Have lots of time to talk.

21.  Oh yeah… that one you’ve been thinking about.  A lot of that, too.  Oh yeah!

Here’s the only downside to unemployment:

1.  No money coming in right now.

 

All in all, not a bad tradeoff.

Posted by: patricefitz | June 26, 2009

Mark Sanford, Maria Belen Chapur, and the photos

Governor Sanford’s saga has gone from the absurd to the pitiful and back again.  We were first told that he was off on the Appalachian Trail hiking, maybe, even though his family had not heard from him for four days (including Father’s Day).  His staff kept up his Twitter account, dutifully tweeting every day, though they didn’t really know where he was either.  Then his car (government issue) was found at the airport.  And finally we learn that he was off in Buenos Aires, crying in the arms of the beautiful Argentinean now identified as Maria Belen Chapur.  

I’ve read some of the emails between them (which were reportedly in the hands of The State newspaper in South Carolina since last December).  He’s not my brand of politician, and I find the hypocrisy of someone who decried Bill Clinton’s actions and then found himself unable to resist his own affair to be appalling.  But the emails just look to me like someone in the throes of foolish, irresponsible, middle-aged love — love that he and his Maria may have felt deeply, and which has and will continue to inflict great pain on Sanford’s wife and four sons.

Sanford and Maria’s missives brought to mind the ridiculous messages recorded between Prince Charles and his then-mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles.  The pinnacle was reached in this exchange:

Charles to Camilla, in an intercepted telephone call: “I want to feel my way along you, all over you and up and down you and in and out. Oh God, I’ll just live inside your trousers or something — it would be much easier.”

Camilla: “What are you going to turn into, a pair of knickers? Oh, you’re going to come back as a pair of knickers.”

Charles: “Or, God forbid, a Tampax. Just my luck!”

Camilla: “You are a complete idiot! Oh, what a wonderful idea.”

Alas, we have all been foolish, but we are not all so publicly foolish.

Lee Siegel wrote about the gleeful exposure of the Sanford/Maria emails by all manner of media.  What about Sanford’s privacy, he asked?  Well, Governor Sanford is a public official (as of this writing — who knows what the next hour will bring).  Maria Belen Chapur is a private person.  She will be forever dogged by this story.

Naturally, the next step was the race to uncover the photos of Maria.  Is this just natural curiosity?  Following the trail to the end of the mystery?  Craning our necks to see the sad result as we pass an accident on the highway?

A long trail of those women who brought men down, perhaps unwittingly, would begin with Helen of Troy with stops along the way for Judith Exner, Fanne Foxe (also from Argentina — what is it about Argentina?), and Monica Lewinsky.  

But I confess.  I looked for the photos too.  And here is Maria Belen Chapur, unveiled.

Posted by: patricefitz | June 14, 2009

Fifteen Books

My list of fifteen books.

What’s yours? Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you…. first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. 

1.  Pride and Prejudice

2.  Silas Marner

3.  Les Miserables

4.  The Handmaid’s Tale

5.  A Thousand Nights in Venice

6.  Where The Wild Things Are

7.  The Five Chinese Brothers

8.  Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex*

9.  White Teeth

10.  Jane Eyre

11.  The Secret Garden

12.  The Outsiders

13.  To Kill A Mockingbird

14.  Everything Is Illuminated

15.  Stranger in a Strange Land

*but were afraid to ask

**(in German — I saw the movie in Germany — that’s “Was Sie immer uber sex zu wissen wolten, aber nicht zu fragen wagten”)

Posted by: patricefitz | May 19, 2009

Scribd

Trip Adler, Jared Friedman, Tikhon Bernstam.  Aren’t those some cool, diverse-sounding names for founders of a new technology? These are the three guys who started Scribd.  Here’s the word, according to the site:

Scribd is the place where you publish, discover and discuss original writings and documents. More than 50 million people each month are finding or sharing fun, functional or fantastical writings and documents on Scribd.com and tens of thousands of other websites that have embedded Scribd’s document reader.

I just wandered over there today, and am amazed at what is available.  This bears more exploring.  Of course, my old pal Doug Clegg, horror writer extraordinaire, is on there, just as he has promptly grabbed the hot jet trail of Twitter, which I seem to have joined as well.

Bold new trails in technology!  I’m home, I should be writing, and I am instead exploring the new frontier!  (Cue Star Trek music here.)

 

 

Posted by: patricefitz | May 18, 2009

Performing

I was talking today to Richard and Gabi about the importance of actually performing a piece in front of an audience, and how it makes music come alive in a very different way than practicing.  No matter how many times or how hard you practice, it’s not the same.  

Singing alone in my living room, I might concentrate on accuracy and memorization.  In front of my voice teacher, my main focus is on technique, breath support, and placement.  In a rehearsal with the pianist, I would try to pull all those things together, and also of course come in at the right moments and keep my tempo in line with the accompaniment.

And with all of those things in mind — sometimes including nervousness about not making mistakes, or just simple performance nerves — it is only when I get out in front of a crowd that it hits me… it’s a performance!  It’s a song.  The folks listening (mostly) don’t know or care about the perfect technique, intonation, or even words.  They want to hear and see what I am conveying with the music; the feeling I am trying to share.

This realization hits me every time I perform a classical piece.  I’ve been singing Broadway and standards for decades; they don’t make me nervous any more.  But I’m still occasionally anxious about presenting “serious” music.  And then I get in front of an audience and I remember that it’s all about delivering a song.  It’s all about entertaining the people listening.  

And I can do that!  I love to do that!

We had a great concert yesterday.  A couple flubs here and there, but mostly glorious.  It was so grand to sing with both of our different piano players, and with Derek, too!  And what a joy to get a chance to show off our classical chops and then melt into the jazz half.  

Great fun.

We could have wished for a larger audience, but that’s often the way it is.  Next time, more publicity.

My favorite moment was when the band played the first verse of “Blues in the Night,” and then stopped.  I had the mic in my hand as I stood just out of sight of the audience.  Then I launched into the honky-tonk words “My…. mama don’ told me… when I was in pigtails…” and walked into view.  It was the best!

Posted by: patricefitz | May 16, 2009

Hot time tomorrow!

Dear Patient Readers:

I have been a bad blogger!  I’ve been distracted with “real” life, and haven’t blogged at all in May.

But I’ll make it up to you by being diligent in relating fabulous and interesting things — just as soon as I get past tomorrow’s big concert.  You know about it, right?  I know that some of you are coming in person.

Richard and I are doing “Classical & Jazz; a perfect musical marriage” on Sunday, May 17th, at 3:00 at the First Congregational Church of Stratford.  Justine Macurdy, a fabulous classical accompanist, is playing for us as we sing pieces by Gounod, Viardot, Mendelssohn (Fanny Mendelssohn, that is), the sisters Boulanger, Roger Quilter, Vaughan Williams, and a fun set of feisty songs from Libby Larsen.  

And that’s just the first half!  The second half is all jazz, accompanied by the irrepressible Dr. Joe Utterback, with Richard’s son Derek on jazz bass, and his friend Ryan Dunne on percussion.  You’ll hear Blues in the Night, Summertime, Embraceable You, and a lovely duet version of Some Enchanted Evening that we created ourselves.  And Richard will wow you with his jazz trumpet playing.  The man has some lips, and I should know.  

A good time will be had by us as well as the audience, guaranteed!

No charge; just a goodwill donation to cover the expenses of the musicians and to give something to the church.

Come join us!

Posted by: patricefitz | April 30, 2009

Fun

If you want to be part of BOOK: THE SEQUEL, think of a catchy first line for your proposed sequel to a well-known book.

Perseus Books Group is spearheading a collaborative effort to publish—during the span of the 2009 Book Expo—a book that highlights the new “possibles” in our business.  A book that will be published into as many formats as possible in about 48 hours.  The publishers, editors, publicists, marketing partners, printers, technology and distribution partners will all help to generate this book by 4PM, Saturday, May 30.

Royalties from BOOK: THE SEQUEL will go to the National Book Foundation.

Cool, right?

Posted by: patricefitz | April 29, 2009

Dreaming in Real Life

Dreaming in Real Life

Copyright 2009 Patrice Fitzgerald

 

In my dream he was my father’s best friend

In my dream he was my best friend’s father

 

In my dream he was a writer

In my dream he was my friend

 

In my dream I was dreaming in my bed

In my dream his daughter was dreaming beside me

 

In real life he took out his knife

In real life he held the knife in his hand

 

In real life he picked up my hand

In real life he touched my hand to his knife

 

In real life he slipped the knife in my heart

In real life my heart began bleeding

 

I am alive but my heart is still bleeding

I am alive and my heart is still beating

Posted by: patricefitz | April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle, Susan Boyle, Susan Boyle!

It is pretty wild, isn’t it?  As of tonight, more than 47 MILLION people have seen Susan Boyle’s triumphant audition for Britain’s Got Talent on YouTube… she has somehow plucked our heartstrings around the country and around the world.  

I sent the link to my brother in Denver (our mother was a Boyle, so we have a special connection with Susan — no doubt a long-lost cousin from Scotland!) and a few hours later, not having seen my message yet, he sent the link to me — from China, where he’s on a business trip.  

Truly the voice heard ’round the world.

Her story is moving, and it raises all sorts of issues about why we would be surprised at her talent, and what makes us so quick to judge and dismiss those who don’t look like the cool kids.  

But I worry about Susan Boyle, and where she goes from here.  Such a sudden onslaught of attention can make anyone question who they are and why their position in the world has shifted so dramatically.  I hope she takes it slowly, and I hope she has friends who help her stay grounded.  She’s about to go on an astonishing ride… one from which there will be no returning.

For another song from Susan Boyle, listen to her 1999 charity recording of “Cry Me A River.”  Even more surprising than her YouTube clip, it reveals a sultry, rich voice that demonstrates vocal mastery and confidence in her own appeal.

Go Susan — the new international “it” girl!  (And my newest favorite Boyle cousin.)

Posted by: patricefitz | April 9, 2009

FLOTUS Threads

I’ve been watching with amusement the reactions to the contemporary, approachable fashions worn by Michelle Obama, particularly on her recent trip through Europe with that guy she hangs with — what’s his name?  Oh yes, President Obama!  

Aside from the absurdity of emphasizing her appearance (okay, it’s fun to talk about clothes, but she has far more interesting aspirations than being a fashion plate), can’t we just let Michelle be who she wants to be?  Is it de rigeur to adopt a formal, expensive, designer label look when you are the female half of the first couple?  And when we finally get Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin (gulp), Condoleeza Rice, or perhaps Michelle Obama as Prez, will the press be all atwitter discussing what kind of fabric was used in the suit of the first First Gentleman — be it Bill Clinton, Todd Palin, the potential Mr. Rice, or Barack Obama himself?  

Don’t hold your breath.

In the meantime, to read a short rant about how Oscar de la Renta has his knickers in a knot over Michelle’s dissing of big name designers, go to the Daily Kos.  You’ll be able to peruse an array of great looks she’s worn, along with a poll question asking how many think Michelle needs to pay for de la Renta to do America proud.

I’m liking her signature style more and more.  Breezy, individual, and most of all, her own d*mn bidness.

Posted by: patricefitz | April 8, 2009

Amazing Dayz

You know, I have to say that I have an incredible, blessed life.  

How did I get so lucky?

I once read about Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon, husband and wife poets.  It was Hall, describing their life together — which ended when she died tragically of cancer — who talked about days during which they were able to work, love, and play side by side.  They lived in the country.  They would have lunch together, take walks through the fields, lie down for an afternoon nap.  Make art.  It sounded to me then, as it does now, like an enviable, almost unimaginably wonderful life.  

And that’s the kind of life I find myself living. 

I get up in the morning and I roll over and kiss my beloved husband, who wraps me up in his arms and kisses me back.  I loll around in bed for as long as I want (shocking, I know), reading some pages from something by my bedside.  I pull on clothes and wander downstairs for breakfast.

I check the news and blogs online — today’s version of flipping through the morning paper.  I take a 2 block walk to the beach, often with Richard, and then sit and enjoy the sun for a while.  

At that point I get down to the hard but enviable work of writing my memoir — which consists of no research at all, just writing about what I’ve experienced.  I interrupt that for lunch, and then I might do some planning for our upcoming travels, or concerts.  I practice singing for a while — perhaps working on one of the two Brahms duets I’m doing with Richard on May 3rd, or the big Classical/Jazz combo concert we are doing on May 17th.  (With stepson Derek on bass.)  

By then it’s time to greet my honey as he comes home.  Then we walk again, in the twilight, have dinner, sing some more, read, cuddle, talk, catch our kids on the phone, and go to bed.  Then we start all over again. 

Amazing.  Art, love, the outdoors.  Everything I could have dreamed of.

How did I ever come to deserve such a life?

Posted by: patricefitz | April 6, 2009

The writing jones

T.C. Boyle said this about writing:  

First you have nothing, and then, astonishingly, after ripping out your brain and your heart and betraying your friends and ex-lovers and dreaming like a zombie over the page till you can’t see or hear or smell or taste, you have something. Something new. Something of value. Something to hold up and admire. And then? Well, you’ve got a jones, haven’t you? And you start all over again, with nothing.

I’ve got the jones.  I’m writing again, and making progress on my book.  As of this morning, it is up to just under 27,000 words. I’m not sure how long it will be in the end — perhaps somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 words, which would be short for a novel, but is probably fine for the kind of comic memoir cum mock self-help book that I am putting together.

I’ve written three novels and partials of other books, a number of short stories, many articles and personal essays, and a screenplay and a half.  Those, while having their own challenges, were easier than this.  

It’s not that the writing doesn’t flow easily; it does.  But I find that I can only do so much before I have to stop and replenish. This writing, about my own life and my recent experiences, involves a vulnerability, an exposure, that writing fiction does not. Certainly some of it is funny, but a lot of it is really rather tender, and while I want very much to share my story, it requires that old writing cliche — opening a vein onto the page.

Thanks to those of my blog readers who have been reading the chapters posted here!  If you haven’t found them, click on the buttons you see at the bottom of the sunset picture at the top of this page.  

I appreciate all the encouragement from those of you who have taken the time to tell me you’re enjoying them!

And if you want to read the entire, fantastic essay about the writing life of T.C. Boyle (not a relation as far as I know, but my mother was a Boyle, so… maybe!) I promise that it is worth your time.

Meanwhile, I am trying to encourage my jones.  

 

Posted by: patricefitz | March 31, 2009

Change is in the air

I can feel it.  Things are getting better.

Although President Obama has a lot of critics (despite a 66% approval rating), he is talking about what’s gone wrong.  He is attempting some solutions.  

President Obama is neither Superman nor messiah.  But he is willing to look at the issues and make some strong moves.  In response, things are shifting.

There are possibilities, and some of the invective that you hear is from those who don’t want new possibilities.  

The first goal when trying to solve a problem is to acknowledge that it exists.  At last, we are doing that.  Unchecked capitalism has brought us to this point.  Maybe there’s a better way.  

The rest of the world is in on this — it’s everyone’s problem.  

It’s my hope that we will look back on this moment in history and see it as the beginning of a new way of doing business, of interacting with our global neighbors, of making (less) war.

The sun is shining and we are talking, nationally and internationally.  Change is in the air.

Posted by: patricefitz | March 26, 2009

Richard wrote me a poem

lighthouse-lordship

For Valentine’s Day, I asked my husband for a poem, and this is what he wrote for me.  I print it here with his permission.

February Poem

by Richard Leslie, 2/14/2009

We walk across snow-covered grass

To the cliff overlooking a rocky beach.

Gulls lift themselves absently when we approach,

Move a few feet down the beach

To keep the right distance from these humans.

We walk down slippery steps till we are on frozen sand.

A jet streaks up the inner curve of the sky,

A tiny, brilliant chalkline on the deep, breathless blue,

While gusts of snow sift through marks imprinted in the sand

Left by earlier, colder visitors.

This is our moment.  Mine are the arms around your neck,

Yours is the smile that I see,

And it is enough.  We would not be anywhere else.

Posted by: patricefitz | March 25, 2009

Thinking before Speaking

Here’s a small part of a long, slightly sarcastic, question that President Obama was asked at his press conference last night:

“It seems like the action is coming out of New York in the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we’re outraged. Why did it take so long?”   

Translation:  Come on, man, we want some excitement here!  We have to feed the news machine 24/7, and we want to hear you spout off like the talking heads on TV, who are outraged.  They are outraged!  The American people are outraged, and we keep writing about it and talking about it and telling them how horrible the AIG bonuses were (plus, it’s a good way to distract them from the big questions of how we fix the underlying financial mess, which we don’t understand and find too wonkish to present on TV, so could you please react with some excitement and drop that boring posture of intelligence and thoughtfulness!)

 We want a soundbite we can talk about for the next news cycle, until somebody else has 8 babies at once.

And here’s what Obama said, with his famous cool:

“Well, it took us a couple of days, because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

It’s like the grownups are finally in charge again.

I’m so glad that we have a president who is trying to attack one of the bigger crises of our lifetime by thinking carefully before he acts.  I’m glad that he is approaching it on several different fronts at once.  And I’m glad that he is including the rest of the world, by way of the op-ed that appeared in 30 papers around the globe.

What is wiser — running around shouting about how upset you are, or figuring out how to solve the problem?

Posted by: patricefitz | March 21, 2009

Dream Big

Since this is a moment in time where we all fear the worst — and doubt whether we can get that job, sell that house, hang onto our retirement savings — perhaps it’s the time to go for the big dream.  When sticking with the tried and true, the “reliable” route, is not likely to provide any security, why not break out and do that wild and crazy thing you’ve always thought about but never dared try?

Start that little business you’ve been thinking about.  Take the local evening course in Italian.  Get in the car and drive to see your old pal.  Write a short story.  Learn to read tarot cards.  Adopt an adorable puppy.

Be brave.  Do the impractical.  Dare to do whatever you have been putting off — because you had to do all the responsible things that kept you secure.  

Well, you’re not so secure now.  None of us is.  So why not do the things you always think you shouldn’t?

What could it hurt?

Posted by: patricefitz | March 11, 2009

Title Search (legal pun – ha!)

I need to find a new title for my book.  Although titles are not copyrightable, I am concerned that LOOKING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM has been used for a published book by a man (kind of tongue-in-cheek), for a movie (that apparently didn’t go anywhere) and by a woman who self-published her memoir about dating online.  Imagine!  She even has a website.

So, please vote for your favorite new title, which only changes the beginning word:

WISHING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM; Adventures in Internet Dating (or How I Found True Love @ 50)

IN SEARCH OF MR. RIGHT.COM; etc. etc.

ANGLING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM; etc.

WRANGLING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM

FISHING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM

SURFING FOR MR. RIGHT.COM [get it?  That was Richard's idea]

or make an even better suggestion.  

I lean toward Wrangling (because of the alliteration) or Surfing (because of the reference to the internets).

Thanks for your help!

P.S.  I am at almost 28,000 words.  Woot.

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