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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JUL
16

Tradeoffs

I would give a writing update, only I don't have one. Like, none at all. Because I haven't been writing. It's shameful. Not to say there's nothing in the works, because I did recently get asked to contribute to a book of essays being published and had a fun (read: rather torturously self-reflective) time writing that one, and I may be part of a group of single women writers launching a blog forum in the near future, so, there are writerly things happening. But as for progress toward my next book, who has the time? The answer is, not me.

There's a reason all my writing (and reading) time has disappeared, and it's because I joined a gym at the start of the year. Yes, I've become a gym rat. And I hate it. Or maybe what I mean is that I hate that I love it. In my defense though, it's not a typical gym. No sweaty, beefy body-building types. It's actually a wellness center that partners with a local hospital and focuses on rehabilitation, but also offers stellar classes and top-notch amenities. Honestly, it's nice. And while I do at times grapple with feeling like by paying the hefty membership fee that I'm contributing to White Privilege at its finest, it's a pretty incredible facility.

So there go all my weekday evenings.

And weekend mornings.

It's not so much that I want to get my money's worth (I totally want to get my money's worth), it's more that I set a fitness resolution at the beginning of the year. My usual method when it comes to resolutions is to set a crap load of them and then hope to hit at least some of them, at least the easy ones like "Take more vacations." But when you split yourself and your intentions so widely, I find it harder to really make progress. So this year I set only two resolutions, one fitness oriented and the other finance oriented. So while my writing efforts have gone to pot, we're halfway through the year, and both my fitness and financial resolutions are still on track, and to me that is satisfying.

Tradeoffs are such a bitch.

(PS - if you're looking for an interesting read featuring an excellent essay about how women have taken back "bitch" and are now coming for "crazy," check out All the Lives I Want. From Anjelica Huston to Sylvia Plath, the author delves into societal topics, mostly related to women, that don't get talked about enough. Or really ever.)

MAY
11

On Writing about your Love Life

There are some benefits to writing a book about your love life. Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of any, but don’t let that deter you if you’re considering the same. The good news is that you’re likely not in touch with any of your exes, so they won’t even know you’ve written a book. Again, let me reiterate: THIS IS VERY GOOD NEWS. If, however, you ARE in touch with any of your exes (“in touch” means connected via social media, naturally), they might see you’ve written a book, but they’ll have no idea they’re in it, which means their comments like “You’re the real deal, Tali!” will trigger equal parts mischievous delight at your own stealth and acute horror at how close they’ve come to figuring it out.

Inevitably there’s One Ex to whom you’re still fairly connected. Let’s say, hypothetically, that this One Ex is whom the bulk of the book is about and it ends with him breaking your heart in epic fashion. Hypothetically. If you have such an ex, trust me: he won’t read it. THIS IS ALSO VERY GOOD NEWS.

Then there is the matter of future men you may date. Not that admitting in your book that you go to church and wish alcohol didn’t exist will leave you a particularly large number of interested suitors, but the point is, if they do read your book, they’ll know your game. They’ll know how you approach a relationship. They may know better how to woo you, but they’ll also know when you’re on your way out. They’ll be able to read the signs, because they literally already have. It’s an interesting situation, honestly, and in recent weeks I’ve had a potential suitor who wanted to discuss my first-chapter theory that most of the time you make up your mind about romantic compatibility right away, another who admitted the book made him think about how he would approach dating me if it ever got to that point, and yet another who told me he sides with my One Ex (the #1 way to not get lucky, by the way).

And we can’t forget the family contingent, because if there’s anyone who’s going to lose their mind reading about your romantic exploits, it’s your mother. And father. And possibly everyone else related to you. Not that your family was ever intended as your target audience, but you’ve got to give it to them, this right to be traumatized and to describe the book using charming descriptors like “painful to read.” But it’s OK, because you know they love you. You know they are proud of you. You know mostly they are just glad you’re no longer mixed up with the sumbitch you dated more than a decade ago. MORE VERY GOOD NEWS.

So, see, it’s not all bad. Sure, your family hates it and your exes avoid it and your future dating life is entirely in jeopardy, but it will all be worth it when a woman approaches you on behalf of her daughter who’s just gone through a rough breakup. You’ll sign a book for her, for her daughter too, and for just that moment, the two of you will be connected in a way that has you both clasping your hearts. It will all be worth it when a young man tells you, in tears, that he’s just finished the book and is so impressed by how accurately you’re able to describe “what this feels like.” Because these things will happen to you. They’ll happen to you a lot. And they’ll remind you why you write in the first place; why it’s so important to remind people of the simple truth that we are all the same.

FEB
14

Happy Launch Day!!!

I know it won't eclipse Valentine's Day for anyone else but me, but Happy Launch Day for my new book!! Welcome to the world, Fooled. May it be as loved and inspiring as it's been to me over the past couple of years. And may my exes not hate me for writing about them.

Here's to love.

You, dear readers, certainly have mine.

Today and always.

OCT
12

Back At It

So's my cat, clearly (some help she is), but the truth of the matter is that I've begun writing again. After I finish a book I take a nice long break. This one has been especially long, but it's not as if there isn't still booky work going on. Typesetting decisions, cover options, etc. Most of this post-writing work falls on others, but still, it feels a bit hasty to the part of myself that can't even be reading more than one book at the same time to begin writing a new book when the last one hasn't even come out yet. But I've begun dabbling and think I may have what may or may not be the first few pieces of what may or may not end up being book #4.

Gotta say. It feels good to be back.

And if you're wondering when book #3 will be dropping, let me just say that if you find yourself in the mood for a collection of tragically relatable love stories (that are mostly not about love) around, say, Valentine's Day, then you just may be in luck.

Until then, I'm just going to keep writing. And (mostly not) loving.

 

 

JUL
11

Typesetting with Cats (Again)

It's hard to do, I'll have you know. What with my cat running all over the pages; the pages she assumes have been set out just for her. But no matter. It doesn't make me like this part of the process any less. So yes, round one of typesetting options is in the books. And seeing my words laid out for the first time on actual bookish pages is always equal parts exciting and confusing. Like, how did this happen? How are these my words? They look so official. And also, am I ready for this? Is the world? (Are my ex-boyfriends???)

In any case, bring on round two. And it's clear what my cat's vote is.

APR
02

Celebrating the Handoff

I gave my new manuscript to the editor this morning. She might hate it. She might tell me it doesn't work. In which case I'll be pretty discouraged. But that's always the risk you take when you put a piece of yourself down on paper. Particularly when that self is so very ordinary.

But no matter. Because whichever way this goes, tonight I'm celebrating that I've written a new book. It's such an accomplishment. And while as a woman--and a relatively worry-warty one at that--I've become an expert at feeling like I'm not enough, like I'm disappointing others, like I'm not living up to my potential, and like everyone in the office finds me kind of annoying (even though I threw the most amazing chili cookoff last month), tonight I am nothing but proud.

 

MAR
25

The Editor

I'm preparing to do my final read-through of this darn manuscript before handing it over to my editor next week. It really is a bummer that even as your manuscript gets tighter and better as the read-throughs continue, you start to genuinely dislike it. The repetition. The many revisions and re-revisions. The fact that you can recite so much of it for memory that you fear your eyes may simply be glossing over entire pages without really paying attention. By this point I am, as per usual, convinced no one will ever want to read this thing. Probably a good sign that it's time to hand it off to someone else.

When my editor reminded me today that it's been five years since she edited my first book, it seemed a bit hard to fathom. Five years. It's not a huge amount of time, but it is nonetheless significant. The first little chunk in roundable figures. Five years. In so many ways, I feel like I'm in a much better place now. I've cut the tie with Corporate America. I finally left a city I had outgrown. I've become a gemologist. I pursued a dream and it worked out. I got to live in my beloved Manhattan. I tried a pixie cut. I've written three books.

Of course, in a few ways, things are worse, too. I lost a love, a future I very much wanted. I've perhaps lost some amount of faith as well. Not just in the world and the goodness at its core, but also in a belief system that becomes ever harder to embrace in its entirety. And I've obviously lost some youth, creeping ever closer to the point at which I can no longer consider myself young at all. None of these losses are insignificant.

But overall I have to be happy with where things have shaken out over the five years since I picked up one of those Guide to Literary Agents books and began looking for a kindred spirit--or, at the very least, someone who thought I had talent. Given where I sit at this moment (at my writing desk, looking out at the palm trees in my front yard and enjoying the cool ocean-laced breeze coming in through the window), I have to conclude I made a good choice.

FEB
25

Final(ish) Touches

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A friend recently commented that I blog much less now that I’m a working girl again. This is true. So is the fact that I am way behind on getting my new manuscript to my editor, and much for the same reason. I do pine for my days in New York City, most of them employer-free once I quit my job to focus on gemology, nothing really on my to-do list other than a freelance writing gig and a magnificent city to discover. Those were the days.

It’s now been three months since announcing here (And....Done.) that I had finished the new manuscript, so I should probably tell you that what’s happened is I felt like there was something missing. I wanted to add in a more universal component to weave throughout the stories from my own life that fill the book, and so I sent out the survey I mentioned here (Survey Says), and then wrote 8,000 more words to incorporate some of the survey themes and data into the manuscript.

It’s not perfect, and I still have some work to do before I hand it off, but I like it better now. And I like that it’s something new I’m experimenting with. Don’t get me wrong…I’m still filled with that sickening sense of panic that always fills me before the release of a book (“No one will like this.”), but that will probably be there every time. All I can do is take my time, try to get it right on my end, and enjoy every bit of the process.

NOV
22

And....Done.

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"Call it crazy. It certainly would have been apropos."

This is the line that officially completed my third manuscript, a manuscript I wrote the last 3000 words of this weekend. To be clear, these are not the last 3000 words of the book...just as the line above is not how the book ends...it's simply the conclusion of the last chapter I had left to write up. The one, I hate to say it, I've been avoiding because remembering it sort of sucked.

There's actually a lot in this book that sucks, which means that I have more work to do on this manuscript than on any other. (Not to mention, it's 150% longer than my previous two.) Editing, re-writing, deleting, and--ultimately--making sure this is still a book that I feel good about putting out there. But for now I'm happy. Thrilled, even. I forgot how good it feels just to get the first draft all written out. It feels AMAZING. It propels me forward into the next phase, a phase that revolves around organization and detail and chronology. It's a phase I like so very much. It's a phase that gets me one step closer to holding the finished product in my hands.

Watch out, world. Here come all the love stories.

AUG
12

Unfinished Business

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I just finished reading a book whose author passed away prior to its completion. Since her wishes had been to have it published--even partially--the book, a much-anticipated sequel, went to press as it had been at the time of her death--only halfway finished. It was tough to read, partly because the original book had been so phenomenal. Any sequel--even a completed one--would have struggled to hold a candle to such a fine work. And then there was the matter of the sequel's incompleteness, its lack of editing, etc. Fulfilling the author's wishes is the important thing, so nothing else really matters, but the whole thing did make me a little bit sad. Sad that the author wasn't able to make it the book she intended for it to be. As a sentimental, somewhat morose, and occasionally morbid writer myself, naturally this has caused me think about what I would wish upon my own partially-completed manuscript.

In short, what I would wish is this: That no one see it. Ever. (Except the sumbitch who broke my heart, who should be forced to read my account of said heartbreak over and over again.)

All kidding aside, I do think about the whole death/manuscript relationship fairly frequently. The thought horrifies me. Not the death part. The unfinished manuscript part. The great thing about getting your memoirs published, see, is that you have the chance to pick the stories you want and then polish them until they sparkle. No one has to know that the way you originally wrote it in your journal was something along the lines of, "He said this and I said that and then we did this stuff and afterward went to this place where that neat thing happened." As of now, my manuscript unfinished and unedited, there are several things that my post-death computer discoverer will have to wade through. Like entire sections I already know are going to be cut. They aren't very strong and the manuscript's too long anyway. So should the worst happen, my apologies in advance. Both to whoever it is that discovers my partial manuscript, and to my faithful readers, who unfortunately won't be given a partially completed book to wean themselves off of me. I'm afraid you'll have to go cold turkey.

Although you could always hunt down my ex for the heartbreak chapter.

 

AUG
02

Imagination

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I was talking the other day with my six-year-old nephew about a humorous card I had mailed to his house--one that featured a cat poop joke--and told him that Clementine (my cat) had liked it, too. There was a pause, followed by a thoughtful question. "When you say Clementine liked it, you don't actually mean that you know if she liked it, right?" I assured him that, no, I didn't actually know what she thought, but that I sometimes like to imagine the kinds of things that a cat might think or like. "I don't imagine very much," replied my nephew. "I'm just not that kind of person," he continued, and further explained that this is why he prefers reading books with facts in them.

Now, you'll never convince me that any six-year-old kid out there has no imagination. And I've seen this particular kid use imagination all the time--in the games he invents or the silly words he makes up. But I get what he's saying, I respect it, and, more than that, I respect that even at such a young age he recognizes this in himself. He just prefers reality. And thinking about things as they really are.

I'm a non-fiction girl myself, in that most novels leave me feeling mildly frustrated, wholly unbettered, and filled with a desperate sensation of just-let-me-read-about-something-that-really-happened. I had always planned on writing fiction, but that's not the way my mind works. Fiction is clearly the ticket in the publishing world. And if I could think up a futuristic trilogy involving an oddly-named, kick-ass heroine, I'd probably be a lot more profitable as an author than I am now. Or at least have the chance to be. I suppose in many ways I feel like my nephew in this regard, in that I don't have much of an imagination when it comes to writing. I'm just not that kind of person. Luckily there are those who are, and luckily there is still space for everyman memoirists like me. Granted, there's a lot less space for everyman memoirists, but I'll take those odds. And who knows. Maybe one day you'll see that I've broken through with a series involving a vampire going off to 7 years of vampire school (Batty Cotter?). But doubtful. I really, really am just not that kind of person.

JUL
28

Fireworks: Musings on a Small Town

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This is just a firework, and a mediocre one at that, but it's a firework that was set off in my hometown, above the baseball fields in the town park. Other than Christmas, I go home so seldom that I think this past weekend may have been the first time in over a dozen years that I was around for the annual summer festival.

It's comforting, going home. You know where everything is, for a few days you feel as young as you did while living there, and that so much seems exactly the same is a great constant amidst the fluctuations fast enveloping all other aspects of your life. But even as I walked through the booths at the small festival thinking that everything--the layout, the goods, the pre-fireworks exploding anvil--was identical to when I was a teenager and taking some comfort in that, it was also a teensy bit alarming to realize how much about this trip was, in fact, different. The golf course has been renamed. To something totally ridiculous, by the way. The Dairy Queen is about to be replaced by another franchise; some dispute over fry sauce. And when I attended my old church congregation, I saw a sea of mostly strangers. It felt weird to introduce myself. "I grew up here," I said, as if I were reaching for some kind of justification for being there at all.

It's just the way of things, I suppose. You never forget or feel less endeared to a place, but the connections you have there grow thin when you move away and never come back. Writing books about the people you grew up with doesn't really help your cause either, but I've made my choices, I suppose. I guess I just wish I chose home more often. It's hard to find good fry sauce.

JUN
03

End of an Era

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People have asked me what it feels like now that I'm a gemologist. And while it's hard to say that "the same" and "amazing" can both be valid answers, they sort of are. It's like you feel after your birthday...no older, but you'd like to think you are changed somehow nonetheless. And of course every day there is still the recollection of last week's exam, how hard it was, learning I passed, the satisfaction and amazement still fresh.

I can sum up post-gemology life in two succinct bullets:

1. I've resumed the writing of my third book. Feels good to be back in the saddle. I still have no idea really how this one will turn out, especially since it'll be my most personal book yet, so there are some jitters. But as always, I'm looking forward to how it comes together.

2. I've accepted a job. It's in the gemology field, so experiment Quit My Corporate America Job to Become a Gemologist and Switch Careers in the end has been a complete success.

Of course, going back to work can be summed up in two equally succinct bullets:

1. My time will no longer be my own. (ie. no more sleeping in, whiling away the afternoons reading in the park, doing really whatever I want all day long) And the end of such a satisfying sabbatical would make even the most stout-hearted cry like a baby.

2. I am leaving New York. Speaking of crying like a baby. I always assumed if a gemology job came my way it would be here. But it's actually on the other side of the country, which gives me only a few final days to get as much city time in as I possibly can.

So I'm going to stop writing and go outside.

APR
24

The Fashion Show

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I consider myself a decent writer. On most days, anyway. Sometimes. Occasionally. Ok, fine. I once wrote something that was pretty good. And while the photographer friend who asked me this past week to help her take notes on an upcoming couture bridal line that she'd been invited to shoot probably just needed a warm body who could tell the difference between tulle and chiffon (note to self: I can't), I went into it feeling like being a writer would really lend itself well to such a task. These notes were going to sound good

After having read my notes, however, I can confirm that not only do they not sound good, they don't even sound like different dresses. Seriously, the descriptions sound so similar ("lace overlay, plunge v neck, open back, rhinestones, beads, pearls," etc.) that the photographer will likely struggle to match my descriptions with their respective pictures...which was pretty much my only job. If anyone has ever been out of their element, it was me at this shoot. When the photographer turned and asked if I would note the "blush tulle" on a particular dress, I know I made a face. A confused face. Because the tulle (which on the very next dress was referred to by the designer as chiffon...wait, what??) looked like the exact same ivory shade as everything else.

At any rate, despite my certainty that I was 0% helpful, the line was beautiful, and it made me resolve that if I ever marry to somehow incorporate tulle into my dress. Or was that chiffon?

APR
02

Let's Talk About Writing

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I'm ashamed of how seldom I actually talk about writing on this blog. Further, I am ashamed about how little writing I've done since moving to NY period. You could say it's because I've been spending so much time studying gemology (true) and exploring the city (true), which is why I'm happy to report that since moving to my new apartment, I've gotten back into a bit of a writing groove. You could say it's because I'm ahead of schedule on my gemology studies (true) and that since Levain Bakery is now 5 minutes away from me, I really should probably never leave my apartment (true).

In any case, for my handful of fans out there who may be interested, I'm probably about 70% done with the writing for my next book. Still feels like a long way to go, but there is an end in sight. Now, before I convince myself that I need to walk down the street and get a cookie for being 70% done, I'm going to begin the next chapter. (Let's say cookie at 75%. That seems fair.)

MAR
12

B&B, anyone?

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This is the Center Lovell Inn. It's in Maine, and if you've seen the headlines that have been positively everywhere this week, you'll know that the current owner, who won the inn over twenty years ago in--get this--an essay contest, is offering dreamers the chance to win the same contest once again. Basically, you write an essay, and if you win, the whole inn is yours. Lock, stock, and barrel. Considering that it's worth almost $1MM and that all you have to commit to is running the inn for 1 year prior to selling it yourself (or doing whatever else you want to do with the property), it's a pretty sweet deal.

I know what you're thinking...because this isn't exactly like winning a vacation, now is it? The winner would be tasked with running the B&B, the tallest of tall orders. Especially considering that most of us--very close to all of us--have absolutely no business running a country inn. And yet, why is it that I think every single person capable of composing sentences should enter this contest? It's just so...romantic. So unbelievable. And for the person who wins, so life changing. So adventurous. So hands-down, bat-shit crazy. Two hundred words is not many; it's fewer than what you see here in this very blog post. And how endearing that the next owner of the inn will be the person who can be as inspiring and persuasive as they are succinct. So get out your paper and pens, everyone. There's an inn to win.

MAR
02

The Typewriter Doctor

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I've always hoped to one day own a vintage typewriter. Not because I would type my manuscripts on it or because it would have any practical purpose whatsoever, but as a writer, it's just, well, nostalgic. Plus, imagine the possibilities! I could type my to-do lists! Mail notes to friends and family not in my own uneven chicken scratch, but in a nice, neat row of measured typeface! Heck, even just looking over at my writing desk were it be topped with one of these babies would make me smile.

When I saw an old Smith Corona for sale at a thrift store over the weekend, I snatched it up for a song and immediately looked up a typewriter repair shop (reason #13948 why I love NYC...you can find anything). Of course I hoped what anyone in my situation would have hoped: that my little Smith Corona could be restored to working condition. I mean, what a steal that would have been! To have gotten it so cheap. Sadly, after spending a morning at the typewriter doctor's Gramercy office, my little machine was diagnosed as not salvageable. I mean, he could have done it. But it would have cost more than simply buying one of the already restored machines he had on the shelf. And given all the twisted mayhem inside, even if he did restore mine, it wasn't likely to perform particularly well. So I opted to buy one of the beauties on the shelf. (Happy tax return to me.)

I can only blame what I then told the typewriter doctor on my somewhat dopey state (and I can only blame my dopey state on being in the presence of so many darling typewriters), but it struck me in that moment--the customer before me having just been reunited with the machine his grandmother gave him when he was 13; "It's worth it," this customer told me when he heard the doctor tell me how much it would cost to restore the machine I brought in--that being in this line of work must be incredibly satisfying.

"This must be a really fun line of work," I told the typewriter doctor.

In my fantasy world, he would smile wistfully and tell me that it was. In reality, he raised his eyebrows a bit and stared at me while struggling to come up with words strong enough to convey just how wrong I was. I don't know. Maybe a job is always a job to the person doing it. But the way I see it, if yours somehow involves vintage typewriters, you've got a leg up over the rest of us.

JAN
31

The Blizzard that Didn't

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I was certainly hoping for more snow. Not because it would do the city any favors…30 inches would have been much more chaotic than the 8 or so that we got…but because I just wanted to see all the hype materialize. I wanted it to be something. I wanted to wake up and have to pick my lower jaw off the floor when I looked outside. I wanted to be snowed in. I wanted to have an excuse to stay home all day and do nothing but write. (I got many messages from people around the country as the storm made ready, messages telling me to be safe and stay warm, but my favorite was from a fan on the west coast who said she and her coworkers, also fans, were hoping I would use the storm to hunker down and finish my third book.)

Snow storms have always been tainted for me, in that the stress of having to commute to work regardless of the weather made me hate them. People never seem to pay attention to the words of the song ‘Let It Snow’ (“And since we’ve no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow") which clearly confirm my theory, which is that if you have to be somewhere, if you have to do anything other than stare wistfully out the window at it, snow absolutely sucks.

Being sans car here in the city means I can appreciate snow in a way I never could before, and the best part about snow storms (as opposed to storms of other varieties) is how quiet they are. And I guess that’s the biggest reason why I wish it would have kept right on snowing this week. Because that night they shut the city down, that night they made everyone get off the streets by 11pm, it was unbelievably peaceful. I always sleep with my window open, and for the first time, there were no sirens. There was no honking. No yelling. No one banging doors shut as they came in and out of the building. In a city like this one, how rare that is. On a night when it would have been much easier than usual to fall asleep, I stayed up much later than I should have.

JAN
23

In Honor of National Handwriting Day

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JAN
19

Book Group

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Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a book group discussion. I don’t belong to any book groups, and never really have (other than this one time, but I only went once, when that month’s book was something I had already read, but the host’s house smelled like fish and it was hard to hear over the yappy dog being kept in a bedroom), but a book group over on the west coast invited me to participate in the discussion of their January book, which just so happened to be one that I wrote.

It’s a weird thing, listening in when a group of readers are discussing your book. It’s even weirder when they’ve got you up on the big screen TV while you’re talking. But technology is pretty cool when you think about it. And it got me thinking about how nice it would be if, after finishing a book I’d enjoyed, I could have a conversation with the author, ask her any questions, tell her I particularly liked this aspect or that.

And that’s what these ladies did. They asked questions about jewelry, questions about writing Jeweled and if it was harder or easier than writing Schooled. They asked if I visited my jeweler when I was home for Christmas, asked about conflict diamonds, giggled about my musings on old-lady veins, shared how powerful the opening scene was with the whale. They even answered a few questions for me which might help me shape the structure of my next book, which I’ve recently begun to rethink.

How grateful I am for readers, for books, for kind words, for camaraderie. I’m also grateful for the times that make me feel like a real author. I will not say that they happen a lot, but when they do, it's enough to keep me going.

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks Well, I guess now I don't have to be the only #SoCal girl rooting for the #indians in the #WorldSeries. #SilverLining #dodgerterritory
TaliNayBooks Because what's better than 3 days of art, food, ideas and music? Besides maybe stretchy pants. #LifeIsBeautifulFest https://t.co/6aviUYGA4Y
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