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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Unique Experience at Tucson Festival of Books

On Saturday, March 15th, I attended the Tucson Festival of Books as an author, signing copies, giving away pins and bookmarks, and generally engaging the percentage of the 100,000 attendees that dropped by my table. I have never seen such a huge festival dedicated almost exclusively to books and literacy. There were several food vendors, a couple of science venues for kids, lots of author presentations and events, but mostly booth after booth and table after table of authors and publishers selling, signing, and talking about their books. I was incredibly impressed with Tucson's dedication to and interest in reading, as most of the folks I talked to were locals, there to find favorite authors and discover new ones.

Why is Tucson such a reading town? I credit a couple of things: one is the presence of service groups such as Altrusa and Rotary who, for years (in Altrusa's case 40), have dedicated themselves to the cause of advancing and funding literacy programs in Tucson and around the world. The Tucson Festival of Books has been participating in this effort since its inception in 2009, having donated $900,000 toward the cause. Also, I credit the presence of an amazing business called Bookmans, which has 5 stores in the Tucson area, each one a paradise of used books where you can go and hang out, read, relax, and generally soak in the atmosphere of literature. One of the friendliest places I have ever set foot in, Bookman's has a huge influence in Tucson.

I met countless wonderful people on the day I was at the book festival, and wish I could talk about all of them. But one really stood out. It was about 3:45 in the afternoon, almost the end of my 2:00-4:00 time slot. The crowd had begun to thin and I was starting to pack up. A gentleman approached my table. He was a salty-looking guy of indeterminate age with a full beard and the aura of a real desert denizen - not someone I'd peg as my target reader. He picked up The Time Baroness, book one in my romantic, time travel series, and looked over the back cover. Then he used a sort of sign-language to ask me: "How much?" Not knowing whether he was deaf or not, I indicated with my hands that the book was $10. He picked up a pen and wrote on the back of my email sign-up sheet: "I like to think of time travel back to 1905." Assuming now he could hear but not speak, I asked him why. "Because of old coins," he wrote. I was intrigued. He gave me the 10 bucks and I told him to write his name so I could sign the book to him. He did, along with his email address. For the sake of privacy, I'll simply tell you his name was Dave. After I had signed the book to him, He wrote on the sheet, "You live in Tucson?" I said that I grew up there, but that I now lived in NYC. He wrote, "I've been to NYC in 1958." I said, "No, it's not possible. You're not old enough." He wrote, "I'm 73." We laughed and shook hands. He trundled off with his book and I packed up my stuff, thrilled that my final sale of the day had been so remarkable. The experience perfectly sums up my magical day at my first book festival ever. I'm so glad it was in beautiful Tucson, where the people are even warmer than the weather.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Wonderful Interview!

Since the third book in my series, The Time Contessa, is a potential nominee for Romance book of the month, Book Divas interviewed me about this romantic, time-travel adventure to Renaissance, Italy. Please enjoy the interview, then go to the top of the page and the button that says Diva Awards, and nominate The Time Contessa! Thanks, everyone!

http://www.bookdivas.com/interviews/2014/02/interview-georgina-young-ellis-author-time-contessa

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Matt "Mad Genius" Posner Talks About Writing...For Readers and Writers

On Amazon
I recently interviewed author Matt Posner, whom I like to refer to as "The Mad Genius," about his School of the Ages Series, and about a book of his that I contributed to called How to Write Dialogue. I believe you'll find he's in no way mad, but you may come to agree he's a genius when you do read his books. Writers, stayed tuned 'til the end of the interview. I think you'll find his discussion of How to Write Dialogue very interesting.

Georgina: Matt, you are an incredibly prolific writer with a four book young adult series, School of the Ages, under your belt, as well as How to Write Dialogue, other non-fiction credits, and shorter works. I know you are also a full time high school teacher! Tell us about your writing schedule. Where do you find the time and discipline?
Matt: Thanks for asking, but being productive is no longer my strong suit. I used to write when commuting to and from my college job, but I don't work at the college anymore; I wrote during down-time at work, but I don't have too much of that anymore; and I wrote in the bathtub some mornings, but now that's the only time I read. My schedule has gotten a lot more hectic in the last year or so, making it difficult to find time and energy. I squeeze in writing where I can, but I am somewhat less prolific than I would like to be. I learned my lesson in 2012, when I scheduled myself to publish four books and only got out two of them, the other two appearing in 2013 instead. I have three projects to work on this year, too, and I will be lucky to finish just one, I think…
Stress and fatigue are serious enemies to creativity, unfortunately. School of the Ages is four novels, with one to go, and two shorter books, which should be more than two by now given all the unfinished short stories I have about the kids.

On Amazon
Georgina: Where did you get the idea for the School of the Ages series?
Matt: I've been writing about magic and wizards since my teen years, trying to find the right way to approach the topic. I had a near-miss in 1993 when seeking traditional publication for a novel about an aging necromancer and his teen apprentice. Around 2002, after some years of trying to write literary fiction, I resolved to return to fantasy. I was originally going to write about a magician and two or three apprentices. (The scene in The Ghost in the Crystal about Ogopogo is the only vestige of my original notes, which had the legends of cryptozoology appearing as elemental spirits.) However, I was then working at a mesivta -- a private Jewish high school -- and the culture of my students and their parents was relatively new to me, and very interesting. I thought it would be nice to incorporate that into a fantasy book, and so I conceived of School of the Ages as a place where Orthodox Jewish kids would study Jewish magic alongside other kids studying more traditional European magic, which is called Hermetic magic after legendary founder Hermes Trismegistus. I mixed in some of my knowledge of Asian traditions of meditation, and my love of elementals, and got started. I wanted to have a truly American magic school book, which at that time had not been written:  I wanted to reflect the melting-pot multicultural environment that New York City is. Readers can judge whether I managed it.

Georgina: I really enjoyed book one, The Ghost in the Crystal, and have the others on my to-read list. Your books are certainly as intriguing for adults as they must be for teens. Tell us a little about your mental process as you write. Are you thinking specifically of a young-adult audience?
Matt: That's a good question. Actually, the only things I do to specifically suit the young adult audience are to minimize profanity and sexual references and to avoid expressions that are better known to my own generation. Otherwise, I think I am writing ABOUT young adults rather than writing FOR them. I write what I want to read. I write stuff that I think is cool that no one else has come up with. I don't know how many teens read my books, but I would like to hear from those who do.

Georgina: Did being a teacher influence your writing for young people? If so, what in particular inspired you?
Matt: Surprisingly, I'll say no to this question in general. I think my characters, while millennials, are more like the kids I grew up among than they are like my own students.
There is an exception:  when I was planning the second novel in the series, Level Three's Dream, I was working with learning-disabled students (as I still do daily) and I wanted to include a learning-disabled magician.  I felt like even the magical community should reflect the presence of learning disability, which from my perspective is an inevitable feature of American education. Thus I created Level Three, who has Asperger's syndrome.

Georgina: I know you love to travel. How do your travels influence your writing?
Matt: Julie, my wife, and I travel overseas whenever we can, and this definitely influences my writing, since I use the places we have travelled to as settings for adventures. As an example, School of the Ages 3:  The War Against Love moves from New York to Paris, Prague, and Hamburg, while School of the Ages 4: Simon Myth is set substantially in India.

Georgina: You teach English, is that correct? What is your biggest grammar pet peeve?
Matt: I do teach English -- in a Brooklyn high school. Here's a shout-out to my students:  STOP GOOGLING ME! (cough cough, pardon me.)
As for which grammar errors annoy me, there are too many to count, but I suppose comma splice run-ons are the worst. This happens when a comma alone is used to join two complete sentences. This sentence is a comma splice, people don't seem to know it's an error. They think certain words can follow a comma to make a good sentence, however these words don't help. (That was a comma splice also.)

Georgina: You strike me as a mysterious figure. Tell us something no one, except perhaps your immediate family, knows about Matt Posner.
Matt: Would you believe that I've been asked that before? But I already gave up my darkest dark secrets… Okay, I'll reveal another. I don't like vegetables. I am an extreme meat-and-potatoes eater, also devoted very much to sharp cheeses, and certainly no stranger to large quantities of bread. If you put a salad in front of me, I have only five to ten bites, but later I will eat the entire white of the baked potato and long for another. If I have milk and cereal, I need some cheese afterwards because it has a salty aftertaste that is better than the milk aftertaste. The ideal breakfast is bread, cheese, and iced tea. Horrified by my eating habits? I don't blame you.

Georgina: Okay, Matt, let's get to How to Write Dialogue! I enjoyed being part of it, but how did it come about exactly?
Matt: Like many writers, I'm never confident about my style, and always wishing to be better in certain areas (for me, mostly its description of setting that I keep forgetting to include). This has made me think about what I do well and where I need to improve. My stylistic strength has always been dialogue. It's my usual mode of storytelling, and generally, during a heated session of caressing the page with words, I have to force myself to do anything else than make characters chatter at each other. With this strength in mind, I decided to make a book about dialogue to share my perspective with others. My goal was to be as comprehensive as possible about how dialogue is put together and what it is for. I think I got everything in…   Most books about fiction writing have samples from writers other than the author, usually from authors arranged by the publishers:  thus the trad publishers provide some easy publicity for other trad authors in their stables. However, I am my own publisher, sort of, so I have to find another solution. That solution is obvious:  we indie authors like to promote together and socialize, so why not get those samples from other indies? That's how my bullpen came about, and as one of my favorite fellow indies and promotional partners, you were an obvious choice. You write dialogue well and in a contemporary style, but in a important genre very distinct from my own. I like the variety! My bullpen is quite diverse and multicultural, just like School of the Ages is.
How to Write Dialogue is good for not only new writers who want to build their skills but also experienced ones who know what's what but would like some ideas as triggers to fire their creativity. It's also a good way to encounter the work of a lot of interesting authors who are also very cool people. Besides you, Georgina, there's also Stuart Land, Ey Wade, Junying Kirk, Rochelle Rodgers, Cynthia Echterling, Marita A. Hansen, Mysti Parker, Chrystalla Thoma, J.A. Beard, and my writing partner and best buddy Jess C. Scott, who also wrote one of the two essay/prologues. The other is by bestselling thriller author Tim Ellis. The book is also illustrated with droll character sketches by fine artist Eric Henty.

Georgina: Thanks for appearing on my blog, Matt! Can you share some links for my readers?

Matt: Absolutely:
For How to Write Dialogue:
viewbook.at/DialogueBook

To start School of the Ages:
viewbook.at/ghostinthecrystal

My website:
http://schooloftheages.webs.com

Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/schooloftheages

Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/schooloftheages

My home phone number:
(ha ha, just kidding)

I'm a reader-friendly author, so feel free to get in touch!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nerd-Girl of the Year, 2013

Drum roll, please...my nerd-girl of the year is...Zooey Deschanel!

Now, before you get all up in arms about whether Zooey is truly a nerd-girl, let's first go over the criteria.

A nerd-girl:
-is abnormally obsessed with at least one of the following, and possibly more than one: science fiction, fantasy, classic literature, English grammar, Renaissance fairs, comics, classical music (or some obscure musical genre), or math and science in general.
- is involved (or was once) in some school activity that others find weird, i.e. drama, chorus, band, chess club, debate club, save the whales, etc.
-does not follow obvious fashion trends - in other words, she's either hopelessly out of fashion, or she makes her own trends along the lines of vintage, goth, librarian chic, etc.
-is not "the popular girl," in whatever world she finds herself: jr. high, high school, college, or the work place beyond. And though she may dream of being the prom queen, or whatever, she knows she's better off with her bizarre friends and strange little world.

Getting back to Zooey, she may very well have been the popular girl in school - she's certainly pretty enough - and that popularity itself ought to disqualify her. She's also more privileged than most nerd-girls tend to be. Her father and mother are both movers and shakers in the film and television industry. As a matter of fact, her sister Emily plays a hard-core nerd as Dr. Temperance Brennan on the hit TV series Bones - a character so nerdy she's probably a little on the Asperger's spectrum (I'm sorry, but sometimes those things go together). But it's Zooey character of Jessica Day on the TV show The New Girl, glasses-clad, quirkily dressed (see 3rd criteria above), kindergarten teacher, who truly charms us into believing she can identify with our nerd-girl reality. Jessica is always a little out of step (even though she's also quite sexy with her big blues eyes and ample cleavage). Her best friend may be a super-model, and she may date some hot guys, but she's always doing something clumsy or odd that make people think she's slightly off-beat. A perfect example is the episode in which she gets a job at a new school and can't quite get in with the teacher's clique. We are treated to a flash back from the days when she was an awkward teenaged school girl, singing in the acapella Renaissance choir - a moment that would make any nerd-girl proud.

It's not just her character on The New Girl that qualifies her though. As a successful film actress (her role in 500 Days of Summer caused both my husband and son to fall hopelessly in love with her, something I've learned to live with), she's obviously into "drama" - perhaps not theatre per se, but drama yes - and so meets the criteria in the second category above. Additionally, she's a musician with the band She and Him, in which she sings lead. Though I can't say their music belongs to an obscure musical genre, the band is not widely known among the average population, and their music is sort of unusual. I think this places her firmly in the first category as well.

Yet it's really the image she lends to being a nerd-girl on her show that makes me so appreciative of her and her work. She must have the nerd-girl spirit if she's able to pull her role off so successfully. So, Zooey, whether you're a died-in-the-wool nerd-girl or not, thanks for giving us a good name. We all hope we can grow up to be you.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway!

Kindle HDX NOvember This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7".
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)
  Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
  NOVEMBER SPONSORS
  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
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  Sign up to Sponsor the December Giveaway (starting around December 2nd) http://www.iamareader.com/2013/10/december-kindle-fire.html   Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7". Ends 11/30/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Barbara Silkstone Unveils Cairo Caper and a Wild Good Time It Is!

On Amazon
Author Barbara Silkstone fits all my criteria for nerd-girl, romantic, and time-traveler. Though the genre she writes in is classified as comedy-mystery, her main character, Wendy Darlin, based on herself, is clutzy, brainy, adorable nerd-girl personified. There's no doubt Barbara's a romantic too: her Wendy Darlin mysteries sparkles with clever romance between Wendy and the charming, but also nerdy, Johnny-Depp look alike, Roger Jolley. She could even be a time traveler since she writes about adventures that have to do with archeaology and recovering ancient treasure, sending the reader back in time if not in actuality, at least in essence. As a result, I'm thrilled to host her on my blog with a review of the latest in her series, Cairo Caper, a quick interview, and a rolicking excerpt from the book.

Having loved the first two in her series, Wendy and the Lost Boys, and London Broil, I couldn't wait for Barbara to unveil the third, and was not disappointed. Silkstone has an amazing way of creating characters you love to love and love to hate. One of the new characters that appears in Cairo Caper that really tickied my funny bone was Fiona Feelgood, the clueless librarian. She kept me laughing throughout the whole book. But I also came to feel even more affection for Wendy and Roger. Even though they're officially an item in Cairo Caper, Silkstone still manages to create plenty of sexual tension between them. Plus there are a slew of lesser characters, each so distinct, each so well drawn, all of whom keep you laughing. Not only that, but she has a great way of using words, phrases and images in ways you've never thought of before to create an endless flow of wit. Let me also add that Silkstone manages, while filling the book with action and thrills, to remain sensitive to the terrible political unrest currently happening in Egypt. I appreciate that. I like this book SO much. Hilarious story, clever writing, great characters. The perfect comedy mystery thriller.
On Amazon

And now let's find out some things we didn't know before about Barbara Silkstone and her writing. Here's a short interview I recently did with her:

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I work out my phobias through my characters – Wendy Darlin in particular.
My fear of escalators drove Wendy to learn how to fly a helicopter and drop down from the sky onto the deck of a super-yacht. I can’t stand to get my face wet; neither can Wendy. I’ve had her perform more than one water rescue grousing through the entire operation. I have to admire her gumption.

My biggest phobia is one I cannot bring myself to inflict on her. I can’t stand seeing holes in fabric. It freaks me out. Both my hair and nail salons know to hide holey towels before my appointments. When checking into a hotel I strip the bed to check the sheets for HOLES. If I find one I ask for another room. I just can’t slam Wendy with holes. Too icky!

Where do you get your inspirations for your books?
They are all taken from my real life experiences… shaken not stirred.

Who are some of your favorite characters in your books?  Why?
I guess Wendy Darlin sits at the top of my list because she is willing to take lots of physical chances and laugh at herself when she messes up.
I love Kit. He is a famous Miami Beach drag queen and nail-tech for a number of my heroines. He makes a great best friend for the gals and he’s a hoot to boot.
Fiona Feelgood tickles me. She showed up in Cairo Caper. Fiona is a virgin librarian attempting for make a name for herself by writing Erotica for Dummies.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’ve just begun to write Miami Mummies. I know where it’s going and I have a general idea of the challenges Wendy Darlin will encounter. But once she gets started chaos always follows.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
I love the graveyard of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Upper Slaughter in the Cotswolds. I could spend eternity there but I think it’s a closed club.

The following is one of my, and Barbara's, favorite excerpts from Cairo Caper: 
-----
A room filled with cat mummies caught my attention. Fiona marched ahead, but I was drawn inside. Cats were considered guardians of the underworld and protectors of those in the afterlife. The dried feline bodies caused a wave of sadness to wash over me.

I moved to the middle of the room where the weight of a stare on my back caused me to spin around. I locked on to the dark eyeholes in the head of a long-necked cat mummy standing next to a wooden cat coffin. The plaque under the cat noted it had been entombed with its master, one of Cleopatra’s guards who had been slain protecting her in the early days of her reign. A tear ran down my cheek. I shook my head to break the strange connection I felt with the tiny figure.

“Wendy!”

Fiona’s shrill voice snapped me out of my mystic fog. She was standing cross-legged in the doorway, frantically beckoning to me.

Before I could move, a cat brushed my ankle. I jumped and looked down. No cat there. As crazy as it seemed I swiveled my head toward the cat mummy. I could have sworn it winked. My imagination was working overtime.

“Wendy, I really have to go.”

I barreled through a door marked with a drawing of a woman in a long skirt with a scarf over her head. The lights were a notch down from the gloomy hallway. Fiona managed to squeeze by me and race into the nearest stall, I grabbed a potty two doors over.

I locked the door then wrestled with my long skirt and the weight of two mummy-ashtrays in the pockets. I swathed it around my thighs and lifted it just as someone pushed on the stall door.

A gravelly male voice, heavily accented in Arabic said, “Open the door!” I dropped my skirt, dragging the hem in the toilet. Ick. The curse of wearing a long skirt.

“Wendy! Who is that?” Fiona called. “Is that a sex-maniac?”

“Don’t sound so excited,” I said pressing against the door as it shuddered from a fist bashing on the other side.

“Open up! I have something for you.”

“Go away.” I fought to keep my voice from quavering.

 “Open up or I’ll… put it under the door.”

“You do and I’ll step on it,” I yelled. He damn sure wasn’t delivering a pizza.

Something let loose with a high-pitched howl. It sounded like a cat but meaner.

I adjusted my skirt, bent down, and peeked under the stall door. Nothing. No male feet. No feet at all. Only the shadow of a cat. What happened to Gravel Voice?

“Fiona, on the count of three hit your door and start running. I’ll be right beside you. One!”

“I can’t get my Spanx up. I’m too sweaty!”

Spanx, my foot. A girdle is a girdle, and a girdle in this heat is ridiculous. “Fiona, drop ‘em and start running!”

“It’s the only pair I brought with me…”

“Two. Three!” I kicked open the door. No one was there. I didn’t bother checking the shadows. “Run for it!”

I imitated Fred Flintstone powering his stone-age car as I paddled my feet for all I was worth.

Fiona galloped alongside me. “Was he good looking?”

“Shut up and run!”

We slip-skidded down the hall and onto the slick-as-glass stone staircase.  We shot down the stairs like supercharged Slinkies.
-----
Thank you, Barbara! 

Please visit her Amazon page to pick up Cairo Caper:
or a boxed set of the Wendy Darlin mysteries: 

Monday, September 9, 2013

9/11 - Finally Healing

I usually don't post on this blog about serious topics, but I had a revelation I wanted to share: I think I'm finally healing from 9/11.

It's been twelve years. I didn't lose a loved one that day, though I know people who did. I wasn't in the towers, nor near them. I was working on 56th Street, a few miles north, teaching. I was at work an hour earlier than usual because I'd taken on a special Business English group that started at 9:00 instead of the usual 10:00 am. If I'd had my regular 10:00 class, I would have left home at about 9:00, but I would have had the news on until then, and so probably would have known that the first tower had been struck and perhaps would not have set off for work. But who knows? At that point in the morning, no one yet knew it was an attack, so perhaps I would have.

The point is, I was in Manhattan when I normally wouldn't have been. The administration of my school was not glued to the internet so they didn't know about the attack until around 10:00. At that point, our Academic Manager came into the classroom telling us the Pentagon had been hit - that's all she knew. At the same time, someone rushed in to say there was a phone call for me from my husband. I went to the office to take the call.

"I heard the Pentagon has been attacked," I said.

"The World Trade Towers have been hit too," he said, calling from his office on 45th Street. "We have to get out of Manhattan. Meet me at home!"

I couldn't believe what he was saying. This meant we had been attacked on U.S. soil for the first time since Pearl Harbor, and I assumed it wasn't homegrown terrorism. The reality was, I didn't know anything, no one did. I hurried into the teacher's room and grabbed my stuff, even my lunch out of the fridge, and ran into my friend Teresa there. She also had to go to Queens so we decided to go together. We first tried the subway, but the trains had stopped running. We then thought to get a cab or a car service, but they were all taken. So we walked to the east side as she listened to the small radio she carried, one earphone in her ear, reporting to me what she was hearing. We couldn't see the World Trade Towers from where we were, but she said planes had crashed into both and they were burning. She said Chicago had been hit - we couldn't distinguish rumor from fact. In my mind, I saw the country under siege, who knew by whom, or where the next attack would take place. At the Queensborough bridge, we caught a bus. They were letting people on without paying, Everyone was trying to get off the island. I was terrified to be on the bridge, fearing another airplane attack would take it out. As we drove over, we saw the towers in the distance, though it was hard to know what exactly we were seeing. I think one had fallen by that time, and one was still burning, but mostly, they were covered in smoke. I tried not to look, and in glancing away, saw a Muslim woman, a frightened look on her face. We'd learned enough to know, or at least assume, it was an attack by a Muslim faction, and I prayed she wouldn't be harassed.

Once over the bridge, I said goodbye to Teresa and got off the bus because it wasn't going my way. I walked several miles to my son's school, trying to flag cabs along the way, but none would stop. When I got there, I took him in my arms, trying to explain in simple terms what I knew to be happening. He was nine at the time, old enough to comprehend some of it. He said some of the teachers were crying, others were trying to keep the kids calm and occupied. We walked about a mile together to where my car was parked, then stopped to pick up a few staples on the way home - rice, pasta, beans, I didn't know what else to do. As I pulled up to my house, I saw my husband walking up the street. He'd walked all the way from his office, across the bridge, and through Queens. I was so glad to see him!

Home was the place we live now, but under heavy renovation at that time, filled with boxes and construction - not exactly a welcoming haven. We turned on the television, and watched, horrified, though we put on cartoons for our son in the other room. I got on the phone and called my parents. I'll never forget my father saying to me as soon as he picked up, "I've never been more glad to hear from anyone in my life!" We both cried.

I won't even talk about the days and weeks that followed because they were the worst of all, as the reality of loss of life set in, and we had to deal with the gaping void in our city, a void so much bigger than buildings destroyed.

That was twelve years ago. I've never written about it until now. Sometimes I tell people my experience, people who weren't in New York at that time, but I don't like to. Yet now, it suddenly feels less difficult. My pulse isn't racing, my heart isn't in my throat. Tears aren't springing to my eyes. It's beginning to feel like an historical event, though a terrible one. And this is the first time in twelve years I haven't begun to feel dread as the date approached. I always used to pray it would fall on a day when I wouldn't have to get on the subway or go teach a class. I always hated being the cheerful ESL teacher on that day, and having to explain it to a bunch of people who weren't here and couldn't understand what it was like. This year, I don't have to do any of those things, but I realize that, for the first time, I wouldn't mind so much. Maybe. I also realize I'm not resenting the perfect, blue, September skies for the first time in all these years because that day was such a brilliant, cloudless azure. And though I have no desire to see the 9/11 Memorial again, thinking about it doesn't fill me with as much sadness as it did at first.

I am still thoughtful as the day approaches, but it's becoming more of a distant ache. This is how I know I've finally begun to heal. I suppose I've been healing all along but didn't know it.
What do I plan to do this September 11th? I'll go to the gym, as usual. And then maybe I'll go shopping at my favorite used and vintage clothing place because I need some clothes for the fall - not, as some suggested all those years ago, to do my patriotic duty to the economy, but just because I can finally, on that day, do normal things again.

To all those still suffering because of 9/11, and I know there are many, I'm sorry, and my heart is with you. I hope you'll find the peace to heal too someday, or maybe you're already on that road. I'm also thinking of the other people in the world in anguish because of war or terrorism or any of the other many horrors we bring upon each other, and pray for them, especially if my country had anything to do with it. We New Yorkers are not the only group to have suffered a terrible attack - almost minor compared to many other atrocities. And I'm not discounting how all of America suffered that day too, especially the people who lost loved ones at the Pentagon, or on any of the four planes that crashed. But I have many things to be grateful for, and one is that, so far, I have been spared worse. I only pray that in the future the suffering on this planet will abate for all people, and all can be granted healing.