Sunday, April 30, 2006

Reggie Bush's earrings

Just an observation, devoid of all envy or judgment. Those are some big earrings, mister. Yes, this weekend was the NFL draft, otherwise known as a holy day in my family. We're big football fans, as you might remember from my post about Phil Simms earlier in this blog. Very happy to see a few Syracuse defensive linemen get drafted, and my absolute favorite moment was seeing one particular player get so emotional when his name was called. As I was telling Joe, it's amazing to know that these guys have been playing since they were 6 years old, on PAL leagues. I remember when my little brother played, how the helmet was so enormous, the shoulderpads so out of proportion to his little body...I'm sure these guys were scrawny little tykes at one time, worshipping pro players, imagining themselves on that stage with a hat and jersey, making the draft. They may be millionaires now, or on their way, but I'm sure they can't put a pricetag on that dream coming true. I'll be in the last row under the scoreboard in Giants Stadium this season, cheering on the Blue.

This was SUCH a good weekend I almost can't imagine getting back to work. But sighing and giggling won't pay the bills, so it's pitch time for all the editors at the conference, plus working on "What's Your Bridal Style?" with Casey Cooper and my first two pieces for a travel Web site. I start a new wedding forum on tomorrow, my second time back to that terrific site, answering questions for everyone around the bride (this month's theme), so please do check it out. And we've just ended the 'Best Wedding Weekend Events' contest at, so I'll be flipping through all those terrific entries to find our winners! (Thanks so much for sharing your story, if you're among the participants!)

Best part of my day: taking a long-awaited nap. Perfect day for it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

It's a magazine article

Writers hear No all the time. Doesn't even phase us. We'd rather hear No than an open-ended maybe. A new project of mine -- a fun dating book -- has been returning Fast No's with the same response: "It's not a book, it's a magazine article." I had imagined a life for this project, a book, perhaps with a blue cover, that couples of every age would use to keep the laughter and the fun in their relationships. I imagined people taking it on vacation, or pulling it off the bookshelf on snowed-in nights, or people on first dates using it to break the ice. Now the concept has a different form -- it will reach one demographic in whatever magazine picks it up.

But that's okay.

A magazine article will get out there faster, bring those laughs out sooner. Now I can imagine the article being shown around at the office, people taking the *idea* and coming up with their own angles. So maybe the smaller form is better. A fun idea on a glossy page, rather than the blue-covered book.

Sometimes when you imagine one destiny for a project, and you hit a bump, it comes out even better. So after the conference today, I'll start pitching this new idea to the women's magazines. And look forward to the form it takes...

And now I've just started giggling, thinking about the impression Joe did last night. So we've covered that he makes me smile, he makes me beam... Amazing how HE lights up a room.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rose petals...

Wow...I never even *dreamed* of an experience like this for myself. Pink rose petals on the floor, candles all over the room, thoughtful gifts, and the most romantic and eloquent words I've ever heard. It's beyond description. Joe not only makes me smile, he makes me beam.

During the difficult two years of caring for my parents (and now the dog), I must admit that I had some 'Why me?' moments, wondering where my 'reward' was -- the whole 'the good you put out into the world will come back to you' thing. Where was mine? I care for my family 150%, and all I got was broken promises, dangles from editors, friends who disappeared when the going got rough for me, really crappy people doing some really crappy things, one difficult day after another -- and where was my 'good coming back to me?' I know, it sounds whiny and tunnel-visioned but that's how I felt at the time. Like I had been left out of my own good karma. And now...with the gift of this experience and the comfort and joy of knowing Joe, maybe some of that good karma just came back to me. I am in awe...

Maya Angelou has said "Only equals can be friends."

Getting my feet back on the ground here for a little bit, I'm in the finishing stages of turning my backyard deck into something of an oasis. New patio furniture, lots of green plants in terra cotta planters, an herb garden, wind chimes, citronella candles. I picked up some hostas, parsley, basil, cilantro and ferns for my planters and will get that together as soon as the frost clears and I can get the big bags of potting soil out of my trunk. I love it out there and will have my coffee out on the deck in just a few minutes. Which reminds me of a funny story. If you've ever seen the movie "Love, Actually," you might remember a scene where Colin Firth is typing out his novel by a lake. He picks up his coffee cup and hundreds of pages fly into the air. Friends have asked me, 'What would you do if that ever happened to one of your manuscripts?' My response, 'I'd jump off of something.' (Okay, so I'd never type on a manual typewriter in front of a lake, but still... ) WELL...I was editing my friend Lindsay's novel manuscript out on the deck and along came a big wind. So I chased the pages all over the yard, thankful not to live on a waterfront, and I'm sure I was quite a sight in my purple pajamas and purple fuzzy socks. I may be a good businesswoman, but I also have *these* kinds of moments.

Tomorrow is the ASJA writer's conference, and I will be meeting with some of my editors, plus five or six new editors from Entrepreneur, Modern Bride, and Garden Design. Plus I finally get to meet in-person Laurie Sue Brockway who is an author and wedding officiant, one of my favorite people. The writer's conference is a highlight of my work year -- I remember going to this same conference as a college freshman and wishing I could be a member of ASJA, sitting in the back of the room, almost falling over when I met Lisa Collier Cool, who wrote "How to Write Irresistible Query Letters," the first writing how-to book I ever read. (Lisa is now a close colleague of mine). I remember my parents picking me up afterward, and my saying "That is the best thing that I have EVER done." I found my path early.

A quick thank you to everyone who donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Mother's Day Tea Party. We're over $1,000 so far and I haven't heard from half of my people yet. I'm just over the moon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Up late last night...

After watching American Idol (go Elliott!), I'd planned to get to sleep early -- big night with Joe today. But the new novel wouldn't let me. So I put on some tea and some classical music and dug into the previously-marinating manuscript. It focuses on the letters my great-uncles sent home from World War 2, as juxtaposed with the kinds of letters that men write now. The curl of handwriting, the scent of the cedar box the real-life letters are in, the feel of a blue velvet ribbon, and that one special letter at the bottom of the box that sends my main character into a new life's purpose. I haven't named her yet. My niece likes the name Violet, but that reminds me of one of the bunnies in "Watership Down," so I'll have to keep thinking. The first chapter is done, but it needed extra sensory details and a subplot came out of nowhere. I do my best fiction work at night, so I'm pretty sure my muse is on London time.

Speaking of time zones, I had the most terrific conversation with my niece Madison last night. We're chatting up ideas for their weeklong visit here in July. So far, we'll be doing cha-cha lessons (so that we can dance at my brother's wedding), going to the town pool for waterslides, making my parents a surprise dinner, and she and I are going clothes shopping at the mall. This is the first time the request wasn't about the toy store. It's all about fashion now. Where is my Barbie girl? And when we talked about my birthday coming up -- I will be 37, an age she can't even fathom, clearly by her response of "Whoa...Aunt Shashie, that's a big number!" -- she said that I'm two years younger than my sister. "It must be great to have a big sister," she said. "I don't have one." My response: "Well, you have an Aunt Shashie instead." Her response: "Yeah, it's like you're my big sister, but better." The child has earned a big shopping spree at Limited Too. My nephew Kevin will get the same amount at his video game shop for replying "37? That's not so bad. Daddy's 42." I adore my little munchkins, although the clock is ticking until they refuse to be known as such, and they stop calling me Aunt Shashie.

Joe has planned a romantic getaway for my birthday. In two weeks. I am all smiles. Both from the thrill of that gift and in anticipation of what he has planned for am I going to get any work done today? I'm glad I work alone so that no one can see me just start giggling out of nowhere when I think about something he's said...

Monday, April 24, 2006

A beautiful wedding...

It was just lovely. J. and I attended the wedding of one of his bosses, and it was one of the most elegant and beautiful weddings I've ever been to. The ballroom reminded me of a hotel I stayed at in Bermuda, and even the rain outside gave it that same ambiance. I go to weddings without my 'work hat' on, not as the wedding expert, but I still notice the most amazing small details. The grass base at the bottom of the centerpiece vases, the chocolate spoons, the rose petals lining the aisle runner, the floral pieces decorating the chuppah, warm sake served with the sushi, and those crabcakes! I saw the smiles on the bride's parents' faces, the gorgeous gown the bride had on, a donation to the Lance Armstrong foundation in lieu of favors (nice!!) and was very impressed by the servers coming back to offer additional entrees to anyone who might want one. We had some takers at our table.

J.'s friends and colleagues are terrific, and of course he is too. Very happy to find out that he can dance! And he gets extra points for pulling out my chair and draping his jacket over my shoulders on the way back to the car. He was raised well, so kudos to his mom.

Now that the weekend bliss has worn off a little, I'm on my way to Gotham Hall in New York City for a bridal expo...getting a late start due to production issues and graphics captioning for the new book that's in the pipeline right now. It's the little details that add up...

Best wishes to Brett and Joanna for a very happy future together!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Julie's on my team!

After years of dancing around the opportunity, I've finally found the perfect chance to work with Julie Berry of Rivendell Communications to promote my Bride's Gratitude Journal! This is definitely a case of blasting through obstacles, summoning up persistence and resilience, and good divine timing! Unable to get any publisher to take a risk on a First Time Ever project -- a gratitude journal for brides, to get them to focus on what's going RIGHT with the wedding plans -- I self-published it. (Hey, if Dan Brown and Jack Canfield can knock it out of the park with that method...)

Julie took on publicity for this book, and in a day, she came back with ALL positive responses from the bridal editors on her list. That never happens, so I credit Julie with fabulous pitching and will take her on full-time as my new publicist. Scott Buhrmaster stays on with me for special projects, as he is a god in my eyes. So invested, so generous...I learned more from him than from any publicity book, course or trial and error.

I have amazing people on my team, from my heart-sister agent Meredith Bernstein to the publicists at my publishing houses, to my Web master Mike Napolitan. It's quite an inner circle. I'm very lucky to have found these people all over the country. They bring my ideas into action.

I'm quite proud of the Bride's Gratitude Journal, as it's a goal of mine to get wedding couples to look at the bigger picture, to focus on the good things that happen, to create a keepsake of their planning process, to de-stress, and keep a better attitude so that they consciously enjoy the process. I'm so happy that I didn't take No for an answer and made this happen. I hope it goes out into the world and has a wonderful effect for millions of people. Which is why I got into this business in the first place.

Publishing is a sharktank. Sometimes it stings to see a questionable character get 6-figures for their book about lowlife living (and don't get me started on Michael Schiavo's book and movie deal), and it's easy for the sensitive writer soul to lapse into doubt. But as many of my writer friends say, these stories are motivators. They bring out the best in us to write more, to rise to our natural levels of integrity, and know that the reward may not be a 6-figure deal but rather a note from a mother of the bride with thanks for saving the day, or from a groom who writes in from the honeymoon to thank me for an idea to surprise his bride.

I am so lucky that I get to do this for a living. Even when it's a challenge.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Renewing your wedding vows

Yesterday, in between a dentist visit and my dog's first glucose test at the vet, I edited the page proofs of my new book "Renewing Your Wedding Vows." (Page proofs are the text layouts, so that you can see how the finished pages will look with graphics and font) I absolutely LOVE this stage of creating a book! Amazing to see how they've arranged it after I started with 600 blank pieces of paper at Minute One of the project. And I was laughing out loud to see some of my inside jokes in there ("Hand over the mai tai" is a family 'legend' from our trip to Hawaii when I We were at a luau, and I didn't want Hawaiian Punch at the bar). In every one of my books, I have inside jokes and references to songs that mean a lot to me. After writing 29 books, it gives me a giggle to have a little bit of my own history in each of them. Right now, I'm working on a new novel where I've incorporated some of my college memories as a party planner for the Belmont Honors House. You may not think the Honors students can throw a hot party, but you would be wrong. It's all about the creativity, and I lived with artists and musicians, filmmakers, and fabric designers. We were legends.

I'm starting to keep an eye out for the new issue of InStyle Weddings...if my quotes were used by the reporter (and this time, credited to me...ahem) I'll achieve my longtime dream of appearing in InStyle Weddings magazine. I crave this like ice cream and cookie dough. It will be a pinnacle.

And I'll be doing some travel writing for a new Web site. We just nailed down the agreement, and I will be their honeymoon and pre-wedding trip expert. I have free press comp trips piled up and haven't had time to take any of them! Diving in St. Croix, a girls' weekend in Boston, hiking at Havasupai in Arizona, bed and breakfasts in Napa...all waiting for me to tear myself away from my responsibilities here and get away from it all. Time to get out my calendar and block off some weeks....

Today is a writing day...doing the 5 Senses chapter for my book with Casey Cooper: "What's Your Bridal Style?" Also doing the men's wardrobe chapter, the transportation chapter and perhaps the favors chapter. I'm old-fashioned and write everything out on yellow legal pad, so I have pages and pages of notes and squiggles and crossed-off false starts -- but it all comes together perfectly. I'll never be one to go directly to the keyboard. It has to marinate on the page...

J. came over with coffee last night. He makes me smile.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

10 cc's stat!

So I can add 'able to inject insulin' to my list of talents. Peanut's diabetes requires me to inject her twice a day, and she's just adorable when it's time for her injection. She's not really happy to see me walk into a room these days, and she slinks around a bit while I prep her needle. But she's such a sweetie that she sits down, takes her shot, and then runs around the room -- actually, it's more like prancing -- jumping on everything, wagging her tail, then rolling over for petting. She's an amazing little soul...

In the meantime, I've managed to get a few things done for work. Namely, write a bunch of articles, pitch my new book idea to my favorite publishers, sign up for Personal Pitch (it's like speed dating, only you sit down with magazine editors for 5 minutes to sell article ideas), edit my friend's novel, deliver those hundreds of signed books to the 4pm Wedding Salon...and today I saw myself quoted in Redbook. A lot. A few days ago, I shot a TV segment for Comcast 8's 'Real Life With Mary Amoroso' and besides the purple eyeshadow the makeup artist put on me (purple? really?), it went really well. They told me to smile into the camera when I was introduced, and she introduced me about 5 times. So I know I looked odd just smiling into the camera so many times, and I had an Oprah moment. My hair kept getting in my face this time, just like it did during the Oprah shoot. So for the rest of the segment, I kept brushing my hair away. Wonder how that will turn out after edit.

And finally, there's a chance I may be on a wedding show on Comedy Central. Stay tuned, because that will be FUN if it goes through. If there's anything the wedding industry needs, it's a sense of humor.

One more thing...J. plans amazing dates, and when Peanut was diagnosed, he came right over with coffee. He's a really good guy....

Monday, April 10, 2006


After *the* most glorious weekend ever, I spent the day in the veterinarian's office with my dog Peanut. She's a dachshund Corgi mix, buff-colored, 9 years old, and the sweetest dog ever. She has impeccable taste in reading people...the people she likes, she brings her toys to. The people she doesn't trust, she ignores. She gives wise counsel.

Well, Peanut has diabetes and perhaps a liver condition. It all kicked up at the end of last week, and now the verdict is in: I will learn on Wednesday how to give my dog insulin shots. She's a champ, has always taken shots like a pro (even the blood sample collections from her throat), so the problem in the scenario will be me. It's going to become second nature, I know, to give her her shots every day, but I'm dreading the first pierce.

I'm happy to find out that it's not life-threatening (so I can stop eating Pillsbury cookies to numb the nerves), but today's been one long worry...she's home now, resting after feasting on the bacon that J. brought over for her and only threw up half of said bacon.

So wish me luck on Wednesday for my insulin lesson...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hanging out with Phil Simms

Last night was the first annual dinner for my cousin Paul's foundation. Paul died in a freak accident while in his 20s, shortly after his brother died, leaving his parents with the loss of both of their sons. I can't even imagine....and in this extremely close, large, Italian-American family of mine, we are there for each other.

So I went with my mother (who, remember, spent most of last year getting chemo and is now in remission), my brother and his fiancee Deb to attend a beefsteak dinner and fundraiser planned by Paul's friends. It was terrific to be with all of my cousins, including so many we had no idea would be there, hold my cousin Renee's new baby Aiden (what a sweetie! happiest baby ever!) and chow down on sausage-sauced pasta, waffle fries and amazingly great beefsteak on toast points.

Across the room, I see him. Phil Simms. Former quarterback for the New York Giants. Now, my family is a Giants family. We have season tickets to the games, our seats are last row under the scoreboard, and so many of our best family memories are of being at the games, or tailgating with our family and friends. We have a thirty year relationship with the people whose seats are around ours. So to see Phil Simms in the room brought us all back to those days, to the smell of the tailgating in the parking lot, throwing perfect spirals, waiting outside the stadium to get player autographs when we were little kids (I told Joe Danelo we called him 'Golden Toe,' which you can only pull off when you're five years old. It doesn't work at 36.)

So I went up to Phil Simms and asked if I could borrow him for a second. He looks at me with a smile and says "For what?" While I wanted to say, "I want to go outside and throw the football around with you a little bit," I told him about my mother being in remission and how much he and the Giants have meant to my family for so many years. He asked where our table was in the crowd of over 300 attendees and that he'd be right over. And a little bit later, I was amazed to see Phil Simms, QB of the Giants, SuperBowl MVP, walking through the crowd and coming over to my mother. She was so overwhelmed and had a moment talking to him. He was terrific, and his speech at the end of the dinner was a riot! As a lifelong Giants fan, it's phenomenal to hear the inside stories from on the field, what he was really thinking, how he mentioned players whose names I once wrote on my cheek with eyeliner as a pre-teen fan.

It was a terrific night, a huge success for Paul's foundation, and the guys who planned this should be very proud of themselves. They will all surely be blessed, as will my terrific relatives who helped put the evening together....

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

500 books

Today I'm signing 500 copies of my books for the 4pm Wedding Salon in New York City. My hand's not cramping yet, but it's still early. I absolutely can't wait to attend this upscale show at Gotham Hall, as some of my most-admired wedding colleagues will be in attendance as well. Plus, it's always terrific to talk with the very-excited brides and grooms who attend these showcases. Now to find something great to wear....

Last night I looked back over my new novel. Feeling the pull to get back to my characters, and my subplot is writing itself. I got the best feedback from someone who read "It's My Wedding Too." She said 'Don't take too much time away from your novels because you really do need to keep doing this...' It's funny that I've come back to fiction after so much time in nonfiction. I started off with short stories and novels when I was in the 6th grade, writing with my friend Dawn. I hadn't seen her for over 20 years after she moved away, but shortly after I published my first novel, our paths crossed again. How amazing to see that she stuck with her music (her band played at CBGBs in NYC) and I stuck with writing. She says she has a collection of our earliest writing efforts, and we'll soon be getting together to take a look at them. I'm simultaneously thrilled and terrified to see what I wrote in the 6th grade. But mostly, I'm grateful to have reconnected with her. Those early days of being creative with a gifted friend formed my path in life...

And speaking of old friends, I ran into a high school friend at Whole Foods Market and we caught up by phone last night. A get-together to catch up is in the works. Funny how many 'blasts from the past' are happening right now, all of the friends I admired and learned from, exceptionally talented and intelligent friends who motivated me in one way or another whether it was the comfort of friendship or adolescent envy. Dawn and Kim were both the girls who had it all together, ahead of their time. And now we'll be sitting down with a bottle of wine and touring our pasts, our successes, our challenges. I consider reconnecting with them to be a reward for getting through the last year and a half, certainly a blessing...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Cue the geese...

All that was missing was a rainbow. I'd always wanted to walk around my favorite lake (okay, so it's more of a pond) holding hands with someone amazing. It's been one of those romantic fantasies I've had for two years and never left the computer long enough to make happen. But today was a fabulously springlike day and J. and I made the most of it. Started with breakfast, cuddle time at his place in the afternoon, a trip into Morristown where he bought a suit and I made my way over to the Godiva shop where I bought raspberry starfish for my Mom (a tradition, something I did to cheer her during chemo and have continued doing), and two Key Lime truffles for J. and myself. Went to lunch, then went for a walk around the lake. Gorgeous day with a beautiful blue sky, just a few cirrus clouds for perspective, and as we were walking, two geese soared overhead and skimmed to a graceful landing in the water. A hawk circled overhead. It couldn't have been more gorgeous a moment. Hand-in-hand. My face hurting from laughing. An 'all is right with the world' moment. Followed shortly after by my complete inabilty to make coffee for 2. But I think my geekiness works sometimes. I'm amazed that I can nail book deals, brush off magazine article pitching rejection, be a complete natural on television, and keep my cool while meeting Oprah and other luminaries...but put me in my own kitchen to make coffee for a guy I like and I'm a bumbling idiot, spilling sugar and anxious about coffee measurements. Luckily, it came out okay -- no java sludge. So this date goes down in the record books...outstanding.