Tales from the Trail of a YA Author – Healing Rhapsody debut

I’m excited to share that I will be participating in Sunday’s  “IWOSC READS ITS OWN” series at the incredible Vroman’s Book Store in Pasadena on Sunday, March 16, where I will be debuting excerpts from the upcoming third installement, Healing Rhapsody, of my Practice Room trilogy. The book is due out in 2015

IWOSC stands for the Independent Writers of Southern California and is a great community of writers and a great resource.  Twice a year IWOSC holds this special event offering an afternoon of eclectic, eccentric, and exemplary works — from poems to true stories to hilarious monologues and beyond, read aloud by IWOSC scribes. Fifteen of IWOSC’s talented member writers will read short excerpts from their work. Readings will take place from 2-4 pm, at Vroman’s, the oldest and largest independent bookstore in Southern California,  695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101.  Free.  The public is welcome.

In the meantime, I received wonderful feedback on my author visit to New York. God Bless school librarians. Baldwin Middle School librarian Kathryn Elefterion wrote me the following: Thank you SO very much for coming to Baldwin Middle School and speaking with our students. I can tell you that many of our sixth graders were very excited to meet you and hear about your books–they have been in high demand from our library ever since! It was a very meaningful experience for the students–any time we can expose them to something new and different is a great opportunity. I hope you enjoyed your time here and that the rest of your stay in NY was memorable. Again, thank you for your time and your wonderful presentations.

Tales from the Trail of a YA Author – Oscars and NY author visit

Attended Robyn Martin and Bruce Resnick’s great Oscars bash on Sunday. Robyn dressed up like Amy Adams’ character in American Hustle!robyn Robyn’s quite a character herself!. When she’s not throwing fabulous Academy Awards parties, she’s a senior vp and attorney for New Line, which means she’s very busy with the Hobbit franchise!
A lot of LA’s West Side’s stars turned out for the Martin-Resnick event julie Gina
The Martin-Resnicks run an Oscar pool each year, with live scores broadcast throughout the night. I never win but it’s still fun! I did nail most of the big categories; Matthew McConaughey for best actor, Cate Blanchett for leading actress, 12 Years a Slave for best picture. For the rundown, here’s Reuters wrap up of the Oscars. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/03/us-oscars-idUSBREA1P16O20140303 One of the evening’s funny moments was Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded selfie of herself with several celebs including Meryl Streep, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, which apparently crashed records on Twitter for re-tweets.

I came back to LA just in times for the Oscars, after traveling to New York and Florida, where I had a great time and author visit at my alma mater, Baldwin Middle School, in New York.
Thanks again to librarian Valerie Mignone who really helped pull it together. Also attended the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference http://www.scbwi.org in Manhattan, saw fam and friends and a few Broadway shows including #AlltheWay starring the amazing Bryan Cranston as LBJ and #KinkyBoots, with music by Cyndy Lauper.

Next on the literary front is my first public reading of my upcoming novel Healing Rhapsody on March 16 in Vromans Bookstore http://www.vromansbookstore.com Pasadena. This will be the third book in my Practice Room trilogy and will be coming out in 2015!

Tales from the Trail of a YA Author – Nursery rhymes and dragons

Howdy. Such a fun week. Had a great birthday on SUnday, Feb 16 hiking with family and friends through Malibu and topped it off with a great dinner at the Old Place Cornell restaurant. http://www.oldplacecornell.com/
Sweet! Valentines Day, two days earlier,  couldn’t be topped . Went the Imagine Dragons concert at the Great western Forum! http://www.imaginedragonsmusic.com/

And today was my first stint at volunteering with pregnant and parenting teens at the La Vida West High School in Lawndale with Writegirl.org. What an amazing bunch of kids. During our session, we focused on the spoken word and composed group nursery rhymes.

Next stop New York later this week (weather cooperating hopefully!) I’m going to attend the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators (SWBWI) conference in midtown and will then be speaking at my very own middle school in Baldwin, New York!! Hope everyone’s having a great week too


Tales from the Trail of a YA Author – Happy Birthday Rhapsody in Blue

This week marks the 90th anniversary of the debut of Rhapsody In Blue! I just bought the 31-page piano score of the George Gershwin classic and started working on it! It will probably take me 30 years to get it right, but bring it on! When I Googled the title to hear a performance, I soon discovered the piece was first performed in public by Gershwin himself on February 12, 1924! I’m working on Summertime too! Can’t seem to get enough of Gershwin (who is likely to feature prominently in my new book!) but neither can a lot of people! George
The composition’s debut is being recreated in New York City at Town Hall, near the now-closed Aeolian Hall, where it debuted in 1924. The original concert, which turned out to be a milestone in jazz and classical music, was billed as “Experiment in Modern Music.” For more info on this week’s show featuring Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks and jazz pianist Ted Rosenthal, please check : http://thetownhall.org/event/521-90th-anniversary-george-gershwins-rhapsody-in-blue.
According to historians, band leader Paul Whiteman asked Gershwin in Nov 1923 to create a piece for an all-jazz concert set for Aeolian Hall in February 1924. But it wasn’t until early January when Gershwin set out to compose the piece, with only five weeks left. Gershwin reportedly drew inspiration for Rhapsody during a train journey to Boston.
For many people, Rhapsody in Blue, is interpreted as a musical portrait of New York City and has been used widely in films like “Manhattan” and “The Great Gatsby”. It is also considered by many artists as one of the most important musical influences of all time. Here’s Gershwin playing the classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U40xBSz6Dc&

Tales from the Trail of a YA Author – WriteGirl!

Well, I’m about four weeks into my new life (post-Reuters News, where I’d been working for 28 years until I took a voluntary buyout) and I’m feeling…….great! I’ve been pretty busy doing the things that I want to do like playing the piano, writing my third novel and scheduling author school visits. So busy in fact, that I haven’t had much time to miss my reporting days — even if it is Awards Season! Besides, as you can tell from my last post, I still got to go to some cool Grammy parties and hang out with rock stars!

Looks like some freelancing lies ahead, which will keep me in the “reporting game.” But for right now I’m adjusting to my new “normal! and that means I am trying lots of new things. For instance, I’m very excited to start working with a great non-profit literacy mentoring organization called WriteGirl http://www.writegirl.org, which helps at-risk teens.

I spent all day yesterday at Occidental College for a WriteGirl volunteer orientation and met a great group of women writers. That’s one of the many benefits! There are many opportunities to work as a mentor with this group, whether it’s at monthly workshops, one-on-one meetings with a girl after school, or helping on an in-school basis serving pregnant, parenting and incarcerated teens attending alternative high schools throughout Los Angeles.

I’m going to opt for that third option and am looking forward to working with teens at the La Vida West Cal-Safe campus in Lawndale beginning later this month. Watch this space for more updates. Also hoping to catch a reading by WriteGirl mentees at Skylight Books in Los Feliz on February 15, from 4-5 pm! Come and check it out! In the meantime, here’s a blog post from the WriteGirl site. It’s a nice interview between a mentor and a mentee and shows how much both partners gain from this unusual experience!


Have a great week!