Friday Five

1. Forty – Love. It was only as an adult that I took an interest in tennis, taking a few lessons and playing on the weekends with friends. I haven’t played in a while because it can be quite expensive to play in NYC – especially when the winter sets in and the courts are bubbled. Watching great tennis always makes me want to grab my racket and hear that whoosh of a new can of balls opening.

This week a friend and I snuck away from the office to go to the U.S. Open. (Okay, I took the day off. I’m not that kind of employee.) It’s played in Flushing, Queens. That’s right. I went to Queens. These matches were the qualifying rounds, and they’re FREE! The top tier players get automatic invitations to the competition, but the rest of the pack – you know, if you’re merely ranked 100th in the world – you have to win 3 rounds of competition just to gain entry into the dance. So even though Roger Federer and Andy Murray are still home on their respective couches, these folks are serving their hearts out.

I enjoy a day at the qualifying because I can get very close to the courts – in some cases we were just feet away from the players and could see the sweat on their faces – and there are really no lines, not at the entry gate, security check, restroom, ice cream cart. (Did I say ice cream?)

I may just have to grab my racket and get on a court after signing up a week in advance and waiting 2 hours for my turn – if you’re in NYC, you know what I mean.

2. The Bluths are back!!  If you’re a fan of the underground hit Arrested Development, like I am, put down your coffee cup and let me get you up to speed. You know that *they* took Arrested Development off the air after only three short, ground-breaking, laugh-out-loud seasons. Those of us who watched the show with a cult-like addiction were dismayed. We wrote letters, we signed petitions, we went to the television executives’ homes. Ahem. Anyway. They have heard our pleas and are brining the Bluth family back. The fourth season is set to premiere in the spring – streaming on Netflix. And – wait for it – all 10 episodes will be released at the same time! Who’s up for a George Michael marathon? This is all in preparation for the Arrested Development movie slated for 2014.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about…

3. The Housing Works. You all know I waste spend a good amount of time in my neighborhood coffee shop working on various writing projects. It isn’t that my apartment is not well suited for this, but sometimes a girl needs a change of scenery. Besides, goofing off working at the coffee shop has two advantages. Even though I’m working, I still get to see and interact with other people and the pastries are good. Well, seriously, at home it is so much easier to procrastinate. Believe it or not, I can get more distracted at home than in a busy coffee shop. (I really should vacuum right now.)

Enter The Housing Works Bookstore Cafe just off Broadway in Soho. I can’t think of a more inspiring place to write a novel than in a place surrounded by them. And a wonderful bonus is that 100% of the profits go to charity. The bookstore is part of the greater Housing Works nonprofit group whose mission is to provide assistance to people affected by HIV/AIDS. I tried very hard to resist buying a book, but I ended leaving with Pulitzer-prize winner  A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. Next I’m planning to pick up the P.G. Wodehouse book Thank You, Jeeves, thanks to a great review.

Do you have a special place in your house to write or do you have to get away to get some private time? 


4. Fall Classes. If you or someone you know would be interested in a creative writing classes this fall, keep reading. I’m teaching two classes starting September 10 through The Loft Literary Center. Both are online so you can login from anywhere at anytime. You can even wear your pajamas and bunny slippers. I won’t tell.

  • Back to Basics: Creative Writing Techniques –  This class is geared for beginners / intermediate writers of fiction or nonfiction to focus on the building blocks of creative writing. Each class is completely devoted to one element of story (dialogue, characterization, suspense, etc.) to help you hone your skills in that area. Eight weeks.
  • Pitch Your Novel: From Query Letters to Literary Agents and Beyond – For writers who have a completed or nearly completed novel under their belts, this class is focused on the insider’s guide to publishing. We’ll be discussing how to write a query letter, finding the right literary agent, and how to navigate the publishing process.

If you have any questions, drop me a message!

5. All human unhappiness comes from not knowing how to stay quietly in a room.

~ Blaise Pascal

Isn’t that an interesting comment? It makes me think of all the times that I might have turned on the television for “background noise” or picking up the phone to call someone to fill a silent space. If you have a moment or two of quiet do you try to fill it with some kind of background noise? 

Have a  great weekend, everyone! 



  1. I didn’t know the qualifying rounds are free at Flushing. That’s pretty cool. I bet those guys play their hearts out. You never know, you may see the next Boris Becker. Didn’t he qualify at Wimbledon and then win it?

    Thanks for mentioning my review. I hope you like the novel. I found it hilarious. I actually laughed out loud more than once.

    I do love the quote. Lately, in the early mornings I’ve sat outside and enjoyed the quiet. Sometimes London can be very still and it’s a wonderful, eerie feeling.


    1. I didn’t realize that Boris Becker had made it through qualifying to win the whole thing! That’s amazing. I was thinking that it would be a difficult feat. At the US Open, they play three rounds of qualifying before they even get to the main competition. Then usually the qualifiers find themselves in round 1 against Federer. Yikes.

      I can’t wait to start reading the P.G. Wodehouse book. I’ve not read his books before. I’m a little worried that I’ll get addicted on the entire series though. 🙂


  2. I LOVE Arrested Development! I discovered it last year and am on season 2. I have a huge crush on Jason Bateman, but all the characters on that show were amazing. My favorite is Buster, he kills me. In one episode with Liza Minnelli, I laughed so hard, I cried.

    Good luck with your writing courses you’re teaching, they sound interesting.

    I love that quote. It’s something I believe we all need to do from time to time. Just enjoy silence. Wish I had more of it in my days lately!


    1. Bluth addicts unite! Did you get to the episodes when Buster tries out for Blue Man Group? Here’s what we should do: have an Arrested Development marathon while drinking lots and lots of coffee.


  3. I used to want music or some kind of noise in the background, but now I like the quiet. Unless I’m doing a blog post. Then I need music.

    I’m going to read the book too!

    What a great coffee house. I prefer to write at home, but love taking a break at Starbucks. No cool coffee places near us, unfortunately.


    1. I found I really enjoy the quiet also. Maybe it’s because everywhere I go in NY is so LOUD! 🙂
      Sometimes when I’m writing, I choose music that fit with the subject at hand. When I was working on a story set during WWII, I listed to a lot of big band tunes. Go figure.

      Hope you’re getting a lot of great sunset photos!


  4. We have an amazing coffee shop a block from our house in downtown Lexington. However, I generally choose to write at home, since I can’t concentrate well in public places. Great to hear from you today, Jackie. Have a wonderful weekend.


    1. Is this the same coffee shop that’s hosting the bazaar? It’s great when the local businesses interact with the community in that way.
      Some of the cafes and coffee shops in my neighborhood feature artwork by local artists. They display them for a period of time and offer them for sale. It’s a fun way to get a glimpse of the local art scene.


    1. It’s great to have such a lovely bookstore nearby. It’s a test of willpower, though, to make sure I don’t buy dozens of books every time I go. My shelves are already at capacity! 🙂


  5. The Housing Works Bookstore Cafe looks like an interesting place! I often sit at the dining room table (open place living area) when I work on my computer. I have an office in our house, but at the moment it’s too messy! 🙂 Somehow I can ignore all the noise around me.

    What I’d like to know about publishing is how difficult it is to publish Amazon Kindle Singles? [Maybe you already have and I missed it?] Somebody I know in India has written a book which was nominated for a book award, but she can’t find a publisher outside of India.

    Not sure if I agree with the quote, but I do sometimes sit quietly without any radio/television on when I need to relax. But then it’s really never totally quiet here – either Rosie is making a noise, or there are birds outside in the yard.


    1. It’s such a coincidence that you mentioned the Kindle Singles program. I just received a message from Amazon last week that mentioned they are expanding to include India in their international distribution. Of course that email was already deleted from my trash. 😦

      I found it was very easy to publish my essay collection to Kindle. Amazon has a PDF document on how to prepare your files to publish a Kindle book. I’m fairly technologically challenged, and I didn’t have any trouble following their guidelines.

      Also I was able to have my Kindle book listed for sale in a number of countries and it was just a few clicks.
      If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email, I’d be happy to let you know about my experiences.


  6. Good for you for taking advantage of the free tennis entertainment! That sounded like fun.
    I have not seen one episode of Arrested Development, but I like the fact that it is going to be available via Netflix. I may have to check it out, Jackie.
    The coffeehouse and the quote sound divine. I thought once the boys were back in school I’d find quiet time. Alas, it is still out of reach. I crave it. I’m envious of your quiet place, even with it’s fun distractions.


    1. Isn’t it amazing how elusive quiet can be? I bet there would be a lot of quiet mornings on that porch out by the beautiful old house in that photo you posted. Maybe there would be the sound of crickets or birds chirping but that’s all.

      Let me know if you get to watch Arrested Development. I hope you laugh as much as I do.


  7. I’m better at getting hit by tennis balls than hitting them back.
    AWESOME! I had heard ‘rumors’ about Arrested Development for quite some time now (a new season… movie, etc.) so I had convinced myself it was all just wishful thinking… I’m SO excited to hear that’s not the case! Time to fire up the cornballer!


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