Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A very happy Thanksgiving!

The leftovers are all gone, the situps and walking lunges have begun, and my Christmas cards are already written out. It's the holiday season, officially. Right now, I have the Rockefeller Center tree lighting on in the background, Joe's Christmas gifts are all wrapped (after some very laughable attempts to origami-fold the gift boxes they sent with the gifts...there I was, in my pajamas and fuzzy socks, giggling at how I gave up on the first one and just package-taped it together. Attempts #2 and #3 went much better!). We finalized the cover copy for my book THE BRIDE'S DIPLOMACY GUIDE, lined up some dates for my NBC appearance, and set the start date for my Wedding Podcast Network talk show.

With engagement season underway, I'm starting my weekly site recommendations with a reminder of a site that I've already mentioned somewhere in this blog. But I think you'll find it helpful:, where you can plug in your zip code and get reports on the averages of what people in your area are spending on their weddings. Just for fun, plug in cities where you don't live, just to see what's going on there.

And don't forget to visit me at, where I answer real couples' wedding-planning questions. You'll also get answers from the thousands of other in-process brides and grooms who are generously sharing their ideas there. On January 1st, I start my e-mail a day program with them, so be sure to sign up for that one as well. I'll be throwing coupon codes in every now and then, and selecting participants to receive free books.

And finally, I am SO proud of my book The Bride's Gratitude Journal. It's one of those Rudy-type situations. Lots of houses said no, I self-published it, and it's doing wonderfully on the market. I hear that wedding coordinators are getting it in bulk to hand out to their clients. My goal with that one was to get the bride to focus on what's going WELL with the wedding plans, keep her stress low, and create a positive keepsake. It's out there, and people are using it. Looks like I got my Christmas gift early this year. It truly is the holiday season now...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Choosing your colors -- a great interactive tool! has launched their amazing color palette interactive feature, where you can click and drag a wide range of different colors to see how they look next to each other. So try out your wedding colors here:

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Last week was a blur

My editors couldn't tell, I'm sure, but I was running on fumes last week. My Dad was in the hospital for the entire week, and as hard as it is to worry about his care, it brings back some tough memories from when my Mom was in the ICU for 3 weeks. If 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger,' I should be able to lift a bus over my head by now. But Dad came home with a new gizmo in his chest, he's feeling better, and all is well. We're prepping for my brother's wedding, so there's lots of activity around the rehearsal dinner and the usual pre-wedding stress. But Joe -- who needs to be sainted right away for putting up with all of this -- brought my Dad some muffins along with a towel from the big Rutgers game last week. I love his giving nature, how thoughtful he is, how he knows the exact right way to support in every instance. I'm far from high-maintenance, but he reads me well. And he always delivers the perfect joke to lighten me up. I'm the luckiest woman on earth, and I've never been able to say this about anyone before -- but it's an honor to be with him.

Tomorrow I'm talking with the Wedding Podcast Network about potentially doing a show for them -- we'll see how that evolves -- and a quick glance at my project flowchart shows me that I should be getting some answers on my upcoming book. Fingers crossed that we can get a release date set for one project I really, really want to do, and that I'll be blissfully typing up #33 within a matter of weeks. In every writer's life, days come where you think about jumping tracks to something unrelated, and then good news comes along, and you're re-connected to the great love that is your writing life. Many icons have said that they couldn't live if they couldn't write. I know how that feels. So hopefully, the wheels will start turning at a house where a project is waiting for greenlight, and I'll get that call from Meredith with a happy 'Guess what?!' Until then, I've got my sketchbook and charcoal pencils out and am designing a line of wedding day shoes...formals for the ceremony time and more comfy, but stylish ones for the reception (and no, honey, they're not going to be like that Kors one we saw today). My grandmother was a beader, one of those artisans whose meticulous work would earn her six-figures at a top shoe designer today. We have all of her beads in the basement, some of which I'm sure are not even available anymore. So I may go pick up a few pairs of practice heels and see what I can do. Sculpture has bypassed me -- I loved it for years but I prefer the texture of bread dough in my hands rather than terra cotta clay -- and watercolors are a yawn for me. How many tree-lined ponds can you do? I'm feeling pulled to this craft, and am researching delicate beading methodology online. Could the Sharon Naylor Wedding Shoe line be far off in the distance? We'll see... Joe accompanied me to the shoe store today, and that's where the idea hit.

And speaking of beading, I just received a wonderful book by Jean Campbell, titled "Beaded Weddings," with over 75 fantastic ideas for beaded jewelry, invitations, reception decor, gifts and more. Gorgeous pictures, a big section on jewelry, and I especially love the DIY section on beaded accents to stick into floral bouquets. Photo albums get the beaded treatment, along with votive candles. If you want style and elegance at a low price, pick up this book and enlist your friends to join you in crafting some elements for your day. I'm headed over to give Jean's book a 5-star on I don't often recommend other wedding books, but this is one you -- or your mothers or bridesmaids -- will definitely enjoy. Thank you for sending this one, Jaime. I'm a new fan of Jean's work.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My student's book is out!

A million years ago (it seems), I taught an evening writing workshop for adults who wished to be published. And I've just seen that one of my students has had his book on addiction recovery published! James DeSena's manuscript stood out for its passion and its controversial take on the 'recovery movement,' and while his wasn't my final choice to bring to my agent, I'm happy to see that he pursued his goal and brought it to print. Bravo, Jim, and thank you for mentioning me in your acknowledgment as being instrumental in inspiring you as your teacher. This makes three of my students who have gone on to publish, which makes me very, very proud.

Since I've been scanning on this rainy day, awaiting news from the hospital on my Dad's transfusions, I'm excited to see that I pop up as a contributor in some new books! My colleagues often come to our writer's circle for anecdotes, and it's always fun to pitch in. So my advice shows up (and you can see it online, if you don't have the books) in 101 Things Every Kid Should Do Growing Up, by Alecia Devantier (I suggested sharing other cultures with kids via research and food tastings, music, etc.); How to Survive a Move, in the Hundreds of Heads Survival Guides (not what I expected -- a snippet of what I shared in the 'how to apartment-search via classifieds' arena, but still fun to be in there); The ASJA Guide to Freelance Writing (Lots of quotes and advice from me on the writing life) and the 52 Most Romantic Places in and Around New York City (I spent a few days doing press tours of some of the most amazing hotels and restaurants, Wollman Rink, Lincoln Center, and -- sadly -- the top of the World Trade Center. It was one of my most unforgettable assignments).

I won't discuss Amazon's program where you can search inside a book for what you need...for free...It's one of those opportunities to sigh, accept it, and see how you can work with them instead of against them. Thus, some upcoming 'So You'd Like To...' guides I have my eye on. It's a bit of a martial art. Step away from the oncoming 'assault' and let its own momentum make it sail past you. Then make something good come from it. Not always easy, but definitely an exercise in resilience and creativity...which is what the writer's life is all about. Seeing Jim's book there makes me want to teach again, so maybe I'll look into that adult school for the spring.

I read something that resonates in Body and Soul magazine this afternoon -- how just having something positive to look forward to creates the same type of positive hormones as experiencing the positive thing. It's quite a way to look at your calendar.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On Broadway

I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- when the phone rings, it could be anything. Usually something great. This week, it was the opportunity to interview Sutton Foster, Tony-winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Tony-winner Beth Leavel, both of whom are currently appearing in the Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone. I remember when both won their awards -- I was watching from my couch in my pajamas when they delivered their acceptance speeches. And now...I talked to both of them about that moment, about the thrill of opening night on Broadway, and how the wedding aspect of this musical ties in to being an actress on Broadway. Sutton and I talked about her wedding last month, and Beth and I talked about her wedding 24 years ago. Both are delightful, which thrills me to no end. I love it when great, good-hearted people reach such great heights, and their enthusiasm for their art was positively infectious. These women have such an electricity about them, they glow over the phone. After I hung up, I had the most amazing feeling of being renewed, recharged...plugged back into my own passion for my art. Sometimes the light dims, and a conversation like this turns in into a beacon.

So here's my insight for the day: make time to talk or be with people who inspire you, those who are where you want to be. If you can't reach them personally, reach them peripherally by listening to their soundtrack, reading their book, even reading their bio on their company Web site. I walked away from these conversations focusing not on a brush with Tony-winners, but on a brush with creative joy, fellow artists who worked and worked at their craft, always knowing they'd get there someday.

I can't share the advice they gave or the content of the article I wrote -- you'll see that in an upcoming issue of New Jersey Bride -- but I can tell you to go see The Drowsy Chaperone, either as a date with your partner, as a family outing, as the bridesmaids' outing, in place of a traditional bachelorette party, as a wedding weekend activity. I've just called Ticketmaster to get my 4 tickets, and I absolutely can't wait to see these great actresses shine on stage. If you haven't seen this show yet, it's about a pampered Broadway starlet who wants to escape show business by getting married. Her producer is trying to sabotage the wedding, and there are gangster pastry chefs, among others, playing out the spectacle. Sounds like some people's weddings, doesn't it? That makes it the perfect show for me. So go get your tickets while Sutton and Beth are still in the show.

What a blessing, in the midst of a crazy week, to get to talk to such inspiring women. I'm overwhelmed.

And speaking of overwhelmed, last night was the celebration for my sister's 40th birthday, which we attended at the 21 Club in New York City. We were told we had the same table that Frank Sinatra used to call 'his table,' which was quite special to my sister. A great meal, some fun reminiscing, my brother's hilarious sense of humor, and that 3 hour ride in the rain for a trip that usually takes 40 minutes was worth every hydroplane. Our driver Ali was from Turkey, so we learned some Turkish, heard about the beauties of Istanbul, learned about Turkish cuisine, and then we taught him on some Italian and Ukrainian key phrases. So in 10mph traffic, we had a cultural summit. Punctuated by my parents' adorable fascination with the GPS system. My Dad's health is improving. He was able to go out for dinner. That makes the night a success. The capper? My brother remembered that my Mom collects matchbooks from all of our vast family travels, and he presented her with one from 21.

So in this week of chatting with actresses who, in my opinion, have revitalized Broadway together with Idina from 'Wicked', sitting at Frank Sinatra's table, and reliving our long, long list of memories from our lifelong charmed family history, the best part of my week was being warm and cozy under three blankets with Joe, watching a History channel update on UFO conspiracies, eating homemade chicken soup, doing foot massages, and planning for Thanksgiving. I'm half publishing machine, half domestic bliss angel. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Gotta go...the Rutgers game is on. Joe and the boys are in attendance so I'll be glancing at that while planning my upcoming fall bridal show appearances. Looking for great bridal shows? has a page full of them, listed with Web sites and contact info. Enjoy the shows!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Get ready to be inspired -- 'Married Away' starts soon

This just in...The Style Network has announced the launch of a spectacular new show: 'Married Away' spotlights several destination weddings in Hawaii, Thailand and more exotic locales. We've all read the stats that destination weddings are up 400%, but when you take a stat and turn it into THIS, it's a must-see. The show launches on December 5th, on the Style Network of E! Entertainment Television.

It's less than a month until my brother's wedding, and I just went for a fitting on my bridesmaid's dress. For all of you brides and bridesmaids who are facing open-backed dresses and serious bra issues, check out the stick-on corset bras at (it makes more sense as a visual than my description here). So with my stick-on bra ordered, final fitting is just a week away.

Joe and I visited the Short Hills Mall this weekend, where I bought a skirt for the rehearsal dinner, and in getting to the store, we had to go through the Perfume Gauntlet. At two different department stores. You know what I'm talking're trying to get out of the store by walking through the cosmetics department, and perfume ninjas jump out at you from every angle, shoving scented paper strips into your hand and talking up their gift sets. ("You could use a leather pouch!") I particularly loved the perfume ninja who called her sample the 'Jean Paul GLOW-tier,' which still cracks me up. Perhaps the attacks are my fault for making eye contact and smiling, so the next time...big floppy hat and sunglasses. Or I'll enlist one of the designer-dressed eleven year-olds with their Coach handbags to walk with me...the perfume ninjas will definitely sniff out a better mark and leave me alone.

Funny sight from the Short Hills Mall -- there's something that looks like a massage chair but actually is a simulated horseback riding apparatus. I was checking it out, with Joe right behind me, and the marketing video came on. Let's just say it was inappropriate for family viewing. "We're outta here," I said as Joe and I departed, and my quick man came up with the greatest joke ever about how the video would sell better than the horseback riding machine. As an author, I'm an observer of human behavior and language...that mall is a treasure trove of writing material. And my Joe makes me laugh like no one else...