sake and soup spoons

The owl has babies! I heard about the fluffy, Ping-Pong-sized chicks before I left to NYC last weekend. I was in the city for a meeting with my agent: another one of those "teach a class, jump on a plane, fly back Monday and teach again" moments. Although June is just around the corner, the freezing rain hit me by surprise. I sat in a sushi joint off 8th avenue, slurping miso soup from a guppy-shaped spoon. Nobody in the place except for a few Japanese hiphop kids in head to toe Adidas (a good sign, I figured) and a few middle-aged businessmen in suits, pretending to laugh at each other's jokes...which were really just quotes from a Rodney Dangerfield movie.

"Go watch it. You'll get a kick out of it," said the man with the shiny scalp.

His pal nodded. "I've seen bits and pieces of it."

"And then what's-his-face...the guy from Saturday Night Live..." the bald guy continued. He turned around and stared at me. "Would you like some sake?"

"No thanks," I said. "I'm about to go to a meeting."

"You'd do better with sake," he said.

I smiled. "Thanks."

"It will still be here later," he added.

"Maybe that's when I'll need it."

Minutes later, I rode the ear-popping escalator to ICM and met with Kate. We talked about my second book, which I'm in the process of editing (Just like I tell my students: the revisions never end) and the question: What am I supposed to do now? Kate said there ought to be a seminar for first time authors. It's not about sitting in a room and writing. Now I've got a new job. It's called "public relations."

That's why I'm hiring a freelance PR team. They know more about this job than me. Fortunately, they already have a relationship with my publicist at HarperCollins, which will make things easier (and prevent overlap). The PR beast is like a multi-headed dragon: there are bookstores and libraries and schools and conventions and magazines and radio programs...and while my publisher is sending ARCs to many important places, it's up to me (and the freelance team) to cover what's left. In this case, it means (gulp) nationals. This is the hardest part. It's about finding a nonfiction angle so journalists can write about your novel on a broader level, rather than simply reviewing a title.

It also means touring. My PR team has built relationships with many indie bookstores across the country, which is awesome (because the indies are stellar at hand-selling books). I can always hit the big chains and sign stock. But I would love to travel to a few key cities and read in the indie stores. So we're organizing a schedule for the fall.

On my way out, I handed Kate a TCO tote bag and a button. Alvaro of Freegums, the artist behind my merch was in NYC as well. His lady, Jen Stark had a solo show in Brooklyn. (She builds complicated rainbow sculptures out of construction paper. Check them out here.) A few Miami peeps were there for support, including my boyfriend, Harlan, who was shooting pictures of billboards for his ad agency.

Here I am at the Hudson hotel, ascending the green escalator like some demonic version of Jacob's ladder. The front desk was dappled with sunlight from the leafy roof. Across the hall is a glowing Travolta-esque dancefloor, decked out with crystalline tables and chairs, and a library plastered with cow portraits. In the center is the Moroccan courtyard of my dreams: all aglow with iron lanterns and silky pillows and oversized watering cans (but no hookah-smoking caterpillars).

The ever-smiling Siobhan joined us for cocktails in the afternoon. We couldn't lounge on the roof (due to "tempermental weather") but the mojitos warmed me up. Later, as we sat in the grass, soaking up a single day of sunshine in Central Park, I thought about the baby owls. I wondered if they would be snoozing in the oak tree when I got back. Maybe they had already flown away, winging across the sky like punctuation marks.

PS: I love the animated tees in this Justice video.