Twitter Tips for New Authors

Social media networking is powerful across most industries, but particularly in publishing. For authors who don’t already have a built in audience, they can begin following authors they emulate within their category—whether it be via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or the author’s website. Here are five simple tips for new authors looking to build a social media presence on Twitter:

1. Who are the top 10 bestselling or influential authors in the same genre or category of aspiration?  Take notes on what they are tweeting about and how they engage their audience.

2. Who are those authors following? Begin following bloggers, reviewers, and other authors or fans of similar interest. Most will follow you back.

3. Then, engage those followers (without being over-eager or annoying). Look at what they are tweeting about and re-tweet or answer questions they ask. This is the most important part of any social media platform (engagement).

4.  Use something like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to schedule tweets throughout various parts of the day—an example schedule could be one mid-morning once people get to their work desks, one early afternoon, and then an evening tweet for those who check in at night.

5. Hashtag. This is a great way to find people of similar interests who are involved in related conversations. Also, take a look and see what hashtags are trending and when relevant, jump in!

Here are more Twitter tips for beginners from Huffington Post: http://huff.to/fnKubC.

My Trip to the Swiss Alps

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I stood in the middle of a dirt road surrounded by green mountains leading to slate peaks brushed in bright snow, lost somewhere in the German speaking part of the Swiss Alps with my best friend, Joanna, and her younger sister, Joedie. We were backpacking to Rinderalp, a dairy farm overlooking the Simme and the Diemtig Valley in the Bernese Oberland.

When a local farmer passed us for a second time barreling up the road in his tractor, we smiled and waved.

“Hallo,” we yelled, blocking the almost non-existent dirt road.

When he stopped, Joedie pulled out her German dictionary. We all laughed together – that uncomfortable laugh right before you awkwardly dive into something you’re not quite sure how to approach in the first place.

“Sprechen Sie englisch?” she asked.

“Nein,” he smiled shyly. His hair was fiery red and he looked like the country boys we had grown up with in the rural area of East Tennessee.

Joanna and I nudged Joedie closer to him.

She began speaking short German sentences as she thoughtfully construed them, and he answered in rapid succession. Joanna and I had no idea what he was saying, but Joedie was able to decipher that Rinderalp was up. At least we knew we were on the right mountain.

“Danke” we said in unison – this was the one German word all three of us knew by heart.

Joanna, Joedie, and I grew up about fifteen minutes apart until I moved to another city in high school.  But Joanna and I kept in-touch, and continued to meet up for trips whenever our budgets allowed. This time we were visiting Joedie in Switzerland where she was finishing up her study abroad program in college.

“Paul might actually beat us there,” Joedie said.

Paul was Joedie’s Irish friend from the university who was meeting us at Rinderalp. He had a girlfriend, but Joanna and I were both a little intrigued with a guy who practically invited himself along on the trip when Joedie told him about it.

“What time did he leave?” Joanna asked.

“Around three after his class ends I think,” she said.

“I hope he doesn’t beat us– we left three hours earlier,” I said as we passed a farmer’s backfield and walked through a gate with a sign that said “bitte schliessen,”meaning “please close.”

The hike to Rinderalp was a combination of paved and gravel roads, wooded trails, and grazing pastures. Eventually we got to another main road that looped further up the mountain to balding spots with cow pastures. There at the top stood a dark-timber lodge with two entrances to the house.

“Do we go to the front door?” I asked after looking in the covered entrance at the back where various black tubes and metal equipment lined the walls where apparently they milked the cows.

“I don’t know,” Joedie studied the printout she had brought with her about the lodge.

We looked at each other, not quite sure what to do next.

“Hallo,” a man said, appearing on the porch. He had grey-blue eyes and a medium frame. “Mein Name ist Gotti.”

“Oh, that’s the lady’s husband who I made the reservation with,” Joedie whispered to us.

At first Gotti spoke to us in German, but after a few confused exchanges, he switched to French, a language we could understand better since Joedie was almost fluent and I had studied it in college.

Gotti brought us inside and introduced us to a mid-twenty-something woman who was about our age. She smiled and continued fixing dinner as he offered to show us to our room, leading us through the kitchen to a narrow ladder staircase.

The second floor looked like a barn loft with several rooms off to the side. There was a chester drawer in one corner of the main room and a small exposed sink. I assumed all of the rooms were for visitors. Our room was beside one full of hay. It was long and the ceiling sloped with four twin beds and another narrow loft above the main entrance.

We dropped off our stuff and walked back downstairs to eat. Gotti and the lady smiled, both nodding as we walked into the dining room with windows overlooking the pastures and rocky Alps.

Above the door, a sign said “das gras wächst auch nicht schneller wenn man daran zieht,” which translated, “The grass does not grow any faster if you pull it.”

“This is so quaint,” Joanna practically squealed before sitting down at the wooden table.

As I looked out the window, a man wearing a toboggan with hiking gear came bounding over the mountain top and up the drive to the lodge. Joedie knocked from the inside of the window to get his attention.

“Paul’s here!” Joedie said, getting up and walking to the front door. A big grin broke out on his face as she went to meet him.

“Just in time for dinner,” she said, before introducing us to Paul.

“Nice to meet you ladies,” Paul said in his thick Irish accent. “What did you think of the hike here?”

He smiled and sat down.

“We took a couple of wrong turns,” Joedie laughed.

“Yeah, we didn’t get here much sooner than you,” I said.

“It was really pretty though,” Joanna said as she reached for the clay pitcher of warm, spiced orange tea.

Gotti came into the room as Joedie introduced him to Paul who also spoke French. After the introductions, we all smiled at each other and immediately began passing around an iron pot of macaroni and mild Alpine cheese that sat in the middle of the table beside a dish of homemade apple sauce.

“Who wants to go for a brisk walk?” Paul exclaimed before we had barely finished eating. His dark curly hair was messy from his afternoon hike, and his arms and legs looked almost too long for his body, but there was something very friendly and likeable about him.

The air was clearing as we walked atop the mushy cow field. There were a few patches of snow that hadn’t melted yet, which contrasted strangely with the array of wildflowers in the fields. As the sun lowered in the sky, the neighboring towns, and white roads winding along mountain crests and down the valleys looked ethereal. Even the surrounding cows seemed lulled into a deeper state of relaxation in the setting sun.

“So what do you call those?” Paul asked, eyeing my white socks and ballet flats.

“They’re the warmest shoes I packed,” I said. “The athletic socks are an added bonus.”

He laughed and shook his head, then reached out his hand towards me.

“Do you want me to carry you over the puddles so your feet don’t get wet?” he asked.

There was something mischievous in his eyes.

“Uh, no thank you,” I said.

He laughed; as if he was determined we were all going to be friends, then grabbed me around the shoulders and pretended to throw me off the mountain before trotting down a slight incline where the snow hadn’t melted. He reached down and made snowballs that he mockingly threw at Joanna and Joedie.

We walked back to the lodge where Gotti had started a fire in the stove. I felt deliciously warm and it almost felt like fall rather than spring as I sat down at a wooden table on a bench with a view of the Alps through the window.

Joanna heated up milk for hot chocolate and we began playing card games in the front dining room. Everyone in the house but Gotti had gone to sleep as the fire crackled.

There were games stored in the room, but we weren’t quite sure what to do with them.

“All of the directions are in German,” Joedie said, looking through the games before picking up a half full deck of cards.

We decided to make up our own game, a rendition of pin the tail on the donkey.

“Basically,” he said, “you just balance the card anywhere you can on whoever we choose as the donkey. If a card falls off, then you’re the donkey.”

“Since you thought up the game, you’re going first,” I said.

Gotti just looked at us curiously from the other room and shook his head as we divided up the cards.

“What’s it like having three girls balancing cards on you?” Joanna laughed as eyed where to stick her next card.

“Not so bad,” Paul winked.

After balancing the half deck of cards on him and drinking our hot chocolate, we were too exhausted to stay awake any longer.

“I’m ready for bed,” Joedie yawned.

“I have to go the bathroom first,” Joanna said.

“Me too,” Joedie said, racing Joanna out of the room and to the bathroom.

Paul and I turned the light out in the main room to go upstairs. He moved closer behind me just as something nudged my leg. I jumped, flipped on the light, and to our astonishment it was the herding dog who had snuck in.

Paul and I looked at each other, his eyes gleamed. I thought he had somehow grabbed by leg, and he seemed to know exactly what I thought.

“Where’d this guy come from?” he asked, reaching down to pet the dog and smiling back at me.

After laughing until our faces were red, we climbed the stairs to our loft. Upstairs, we all shared the giant room and layered wool blankets and down comforters to stay warm. I’ve never slept so well in my life.

The sun rose around 5 a.m. and you could hear everyone stirring downstairs. We didn’t get up though until Paul had to return to Fribourg around 9 a.m.

We said goodbye and I thought about how strange it was to meet people along the way in your travels who you will probably never see again. Brief moments are shared and then the routine of life continues.

“Nice meeting you, Katie and Joanna,” he said.

“You, too,” I said, stretching. “Good luck with the rest of your life.”

“Thanks,” he smiled mischievously again.

I lay in bed a bit longer, listening to the Swiss-German I could hear them speaking in the kitchen below our room. It was sing-songy, with a lulling melody of high and low notes, sort of like life. But sometimes you have those brief moments—maybe on top of a snowy peaked mountain in Switzerland—where you have nothing to do but enjoy the people and scenery around you.

In those quiet moments, I’ll always remember: “The grass does not grow any faster if you pull it.

Why I Like Eponine in “Les Miserables”

I was eighteen years-old, sitting in a dark theatre about as far back as anyone could sit in the audience. I hadn’t read the book yet, but the closing song: “Do you hear the people sing? Singing the songs of angry men…” left goosebumps on my arm.

I first saw “Les Miserables” on stage in London. Those songs echoed throughout the rest of that senior class trip– partially because of the tragic deaths of young people fighting for a cause I thought everyone deserved and my close proximity to their age.

eponineWhen I found out that Samantha Barks who first played Eponine in London would be playing her again in the 2012 December release of the movie, I was ecstatic. And once again I found myself sympathisizing with a character who overcame corrupt parents and still chose to help Cosette despite her love for Marius. Somehow Eponine deserved the love of Marius. Hadn’t her love proved to be more than love at first sight? Didn’t she have a basis for the feelings she declared for Marius?

But in the end, when the last song echoed throughout the theatre, I couldn’t escape the power of conviction which leads to self-sacrifice. Eponine was only one of many who remained true to personal conviction (including Javert’s notion of the law). The tragedy of her death for love and the heartbreak of men and children dying to stand up against injustice echo throughout that final song before the curtain falls.

Not to be overly dramatic, but I want to live my convictions just as those characters did. Isn’t beautiful how a story can remind us of that?

How I Ended Up in Publishing

After leaving my job of two years, I decided to pack my bags and take a nose dive south to Central America to visit one of my best friends who had been volunteering with the Peace Corps for the past two years. We were going to meet in the country’s capital, and back pack from city to city for about three weeks. I was in the middle of my job hunt for a full-time position in publishing so I couldn’t afford to be away any longer, and my friend was using part of her limited vacation time. Since it was actually cheaper for me to be in Nicaragua rather than New York City, where I was living, I could justify a trip even if my savings was becoming more and more depleted. I had been working towards the perfect job for years, and to be honest, I was exhausted. I needed the break.

In high school, I knew I wanted to work with the media, specifically journalism. We were required to present an in-depth thesis to our school board before graduation, and I decided to write mine on how technology was changing the landscape of the media. We were a relatively new school, so I was the first student nearing graduation to express interest in this field. We lived in a smaller southeast town, so pursuing any sort of job in the media almost certainly meant you were looking to move to a bigger city where there was more opportunity. Most of my classmates were pursuing jobs in the medical industry, teaching, or business, which were all much more practical choices for the area.

I looked for ways to build my college application, like writing for the school newsletter and becoming the student editor of our school yearbook. I was determined to show everyone I was serious about pursuing this field. I tried to dabble in any sort of writing that would add to my college application and entered several different regional contests. I was constantly pushing myself to become better. But when it came time to select my freshman classes for college, I buckled. What did I know about publishing or the media? I had come from a small town with a  family of teachers and nurses. The one family friend I knew in journalism worked for a newspaper in Florida. He had advised my dad to “lock me in my room” until I chose a more stable field with better pay. It was a joke, but still. At seventeen I felt like I could defy the odds  and become a great journalist or editor. But at eighteen, I was already starting to think about job security. What happened those few months between high school graduation and college?

I decided to start out in nursing. My grandmother and aunt were nurses so naturally they loved the idea. My mom was glad I was going into a field that promised almost certain employment. My only real excitement though was the prospect of becoming a traveling nurse where they would pay me to live in different parts of the country for months at a time. I didn’t like visiting hospitals, I felt nauseas when I looked at isolated diseased body parts in my anatomy book, and I hated listening to my anatomy and physiology classmates discussing the latest episode of E.R. Who even watched E.R. still?

I’ll never forget my dad stopping me as I packed up the car to head to school one weekend when I was about halfway through my first semester.

“Katie, I just don’t see you in nursing.”

I have to admit, my feelings were a little hurt. He knew me, and said what I was trying so hard not to say. Life was too short not to pursue something just because you were afraid of a challenge. I ended up declaring a B.A. in English. I tacked on a second major in journalism, joined our school paper, and began freelance writing for a few local publications. Writing essays and articles came so much easier than studying limbs and cellular structure in chemically scented labs.

I was paid twenty-five dollars for my first story about the benefits of calcium in a healthy diet. No amount of pay could replace my happiness when I met a representative for the dairy association at Panera Bread to interview her for my story. Over coffee and a baguette, I had become a true journalist. I felt legit with my recorder from Walmart and my new steno pad. This was something tangible that proved my efforts were actually paying off.

I picked up several more freelance gigs, one of which never paid me the promised $1.10 per word. Lesson learned, never write without a contract. I spent countless hours on the phone and via email with financial advisors crunching numbers and working on an interesting lead when all I was writing about was the tourism revenue our local city brought in and how that affected our local economy. But it was another writing clip, and my heart literally did flips when I saw my byline beside all the graphs and charts.

When I graduated college, I began freelancing for the features section of a local newspaper. But without a steady job, I had to begin serving at a local restaurant to make ends meet. I wore suspenders, smelled like barbecue, and had the most hideous but required black sneakers. They looked like special orthopedic shoes and had no traction. I mastered the small talk, learned how to balance multiple plates on one arm, and could whip up a mean salad in under a minute. I reminded myself this was only a means to an end.

As I spoke with one of my previous journalism professors, she encouraged me to look into a post-graduate publishing institute since I was serious about working in the publishing field. Freelance writing in the region was near to impossible to make a stable living. As I researched the institute I realized I would need a couple of thousand dollars to attend any of them – there was one that I knew of in Denver and two in New York- plus I would need resume experience if I had any hope of getting a job after the program.

I began applying for “big girl” jobs and started working for a software start-up company to begin my savings for the program. It would be a nine to five, hourly wage, but it was consistent. I took it. The job market was tough and a lot of my friends had either opted for grad school, or quite literally left the country to do extensive traveling. I was determined to save enough for one of the two publishing institutes in New York City though.

Within the first few weeks, the job they had hired me for didn’t really fit what I was doing. Apparently, working as an office assistant for someone who works from home six hours away has a lot of downtime. So I began picking up phone calls from clients, and instead of being an office assistant, they switched me to head up all of the software trainings with those clients. I learned programs, wrote user guides, and talked almost constantly on the phone all day. By five, my voice would be almost gone and I was sore from sitting in a chair all day. It would be a four or five hours at a time before I would remember to even stand-up. It wasn’t my dream, but it was a job and a good company, and for that I was thankful.

The company I was working for allowed me to relocate to New York City to begin working from home. I was one step closer to my dream job! I was elated that first year I worked from my apartment on 7th avenue. After working for them almost two years, I had saved enough for a couple of months rent, plus tuition for the publishing institute at New York University. I decided it was time to take the plunge– I quit my job and immediately began my publishing classes.

The program was intense, with group projects and constant speakers during the morning and afternoon sessions. We would sit in class taking notes, writing down contact information, and trying to introduce ourselves to the speakers who held various positions at different publishing houses. I learned the ins and outs of books and magazines. When the program ended, I scattered my resume to all the big publishing houses. I shook hands, wrote emails, and did everything short of stalking to apply to any job leads. Despite all my efforts, I left for Nicaragua with no certainties and very, very unemployed.

Landing in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, I literally jumped for joy when I saw my friend. While I was battling the nine to five, she had been living in a small village, volunteering with the Peace Corps. We had both graduated with degrees that offered no employment certainty. She had her B.A. in art history and I had mine in English and journalism. We had grown up together– even been roommates in college. Now, we were taking a much needed break as we both prepared to begin the job hunt once again. Her stint with the Peace Corps was coming to an end, and my pursuit of a full-time job in publishing was just beginning. We were both mid-twenty somethings awaiting the next big chapter of our lives in a struggling economy.

Despite the unemployment rate, I felt my biggest hurdle was myself. I simply needed to stop obsessing about what I should or shouldn’t be doing. I realized I had come to fear that I would give up what I loved for job security, like what I had done when I first declared nursing as my major. And now, thousands of miles from New York, my mind was anxiously going over every detail of the last few weeks of my job hunt. I began to worry about not having access to my cell phone. The coverage plans were too expensive. What if someone tried to call me about a job application while I was out of the country? I had followed up with everyone I had left my resume with, but what if they hadn’t gotten my email or message? What if a new assistant position became available and I couldn’t be one of the first to apply for it? The past ten years of my life I had been focused on reaching this goal, but I had also craved time to just let go of it all and simply be myself. If I couldn’t let it go in Central America, where I had no phone or internet access, where could I?

We caught a bus out of Managua and headed to Ometepe, an island consisting of two volcanoes connected by a slim peninsula. Getting out of the bus, I squinted as I scanned the lake for the ferry that would take us to the island, swatting gnats in clumps and pondering what it would be like to travel and write for a living. With some good bug repellent, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe if I couldn’t find something full-time, I would travel the world and try my hand at freelance writing again, working odd jobs. Maybe I could find something at a coffee plantation or banana farm?

As we walked over the gravel path to our ferry, I began making a mental checklist of all of the follow-up calls I would make when I returned. Perhaps I should just show up at the offices, though a restraining order may not be the best the way to make an impression.

Our ferry was barely bigger than mid-sized speed boat, but with a bottom level. Underneath the deck, benches were crammed beside the inner mechanisms of the giant motor. I rested my head in the frame of one of the oversized windows and watched a group of American college students laughing as they danced to music only they could hear from an iPod they shared. Life seemed so much simpler in college. Or maybe we were just less aware of everything going on around us. Though if I were honest with myself, I was always aware of everything going on around me. I just had the added security of four years padded into my career plan before my make or break it moment happened.

After the ferry docked, we caught a ride on the dirt road winding along Lake Managua, catching glimpses of the water when it wasn’t blocked by trees and brush. I hadn’t slept in 24 hours because my flight into Managua had been delayed, so I was stuck in the Miami airport the night before. I had spent the night plotting out what the next two years of my career might be like. Here, all of that was becoming easier to leave behind with the wind blowing through my hair though. Every other thought was about being unemployed instead of every thought. I  began to feel invigorated in the back of an opened pickup truck, like I had found some sort of freedom — similar to that freedom in college of having the whole world open to you.I had become so obsessed with the next step that I had failed to recognize my freedom in this very moment.

As we gathered our stuff together to hike Volcan Maderas, the hotel owner tried to insist on a tour guide, but my friend spoke fluent Spanish and had hiked that trail earlier that year. Besides, the tour guide just smiled and stared at us all through breakfast and no one wants that first thing in the morning.

For the longest times, we were the only people on the trail. It was rainy season, so everything was lush and overgrown as we meandered further up the volcano. When a man appeared about twenty feet to the side with a machete, his face expressionless, I thought that perhaps there are worse things than a smiling tour guide. If he killed us though, at least I wouldn’t have to worry what became of all of my job inquiries. Then I learned the farmers in Nicaragua use machetes to cut through the brush or work on their farms that lined either side of the trail. I was partially relieved.

The steeper the trail, the less I thought about home.  The less I thought about home, the less I thought about work, or lack of work. I just wanted to make it up the volcano and look out over the top. I wanted to conquer something and I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back down. Three hours into the hike, we stopped at an overlook with a view that spanned across the island and gave us a direct view of the neighboring volcano. We were only halfway to the top. If we didn’t turn around, we would miss the last bus of the day to the cool spring. The humidity was almost unbearable though, and the thought of diving into cool water was irresistible.

As I sat on a bench, drinking my last bit of water and surveying the land, I opted for the cool spring. So what if I didn’t make the top? The climb was worth it for this view. I was in a country with no strings attached, a good friend by my side, and I had a mountain of possibility waiting for me when I got back to the city. I made a pack with myself not to think about my resume, where I had applied or what I was going to apply to when I got back. I knew I was up for the challenge to find a job in publishing, but now, I needed to enjoy where I was at. These moments are too precious to lose.

As it turned out, some of my worst fears were confirmed when I landed in Florida to make my connecting flight back to New York three weeks later. I missed the call from someone at one of the biggest publishing houses in the industry who had looked over my resume and was considering me for an open entry level position. When I called back about the position, I was informed the lady was no longer with the company and they had already filled the position. But I wasn’t worried, not now. Something could have come of it, but perhaps not. I was also allowing myself to live outside of the perimeters of a job that so often times define a person. If I didn’t get hired right away, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

In the end, I ended up getting an internship, luckily paid, where I worked full-time during the week. I babysat in the evenings and worked other odd-jobs on the weekends, and guess what, it wasn’t half-bad. I took time to enjoy the moments of just being able to do what I had always wanted to do. After several months, I was hired full-time at that same company. Even now though, I have to remind myself to sit back and enjoy the climb. Good things are worth the wait, and the wait can be the best part. I’m still excited about the possibility ahead. Who knows where this crazy industry will take me in the next couple of years? And if I do decide to go back into nursing (despite my instant gag reflex when it comes to blood), at least I’ll know I gave it everything I had.

Idealizing Publishing

The publishing industry has always been reminiscent of a wistful era where editorial assistants scurried around narrow halls in pencil skirts behind horn-rimmed glasses with their notepads and pens, high heels and nylons. They worked with rough edged paper, black ink, and luxurious cover designs in a world where everyone knew everyone.

When I read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and watch classic movies from that time period, that world is reinforced.  I can imagine the distinguished voices of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, the clinking of their glasses of Scotch and soda as they meet with their editors in dimly lit bars.

Of course, I glamorize the past, but I would love to sit across from them and discuss writing– to chat about character development and plot inspiration.  I would want to know Agatha Christie’s writing routine, what her friends thought of her, and if she knew how each story would end before she even began writing. Many of my fellow publishing friends think the same way. In publishing, the workforce is full of idealistic readers that were passionate about the written word at some point of their life. Perhaps Fitzgerald described our common bond when he said: “You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone.”

AnneMany of us fell in love with a particular book or author at an early age. For me, it was L.M. Montgomery and her description of Prince Edward Island. Emily of New Moon, Anne of Green Gables, and Pat of Silverbush all became my friends.

A lot has changed since then and as we continue moving into the digital era, there will always be something said for all of the work that goes into a book. From the acquisition, to the edits and design, all the way to how that book reaches specific audiences. I love being a part of that process and seeing authors who’ve achieved bringing a story to life.

In that respect, I’ll always be an idealist.

Christmas in NYC: Passion in the Details

Fall is past, winter is here, and Christmas lights now line the city’s magnificent buildings. Wreaths frame doorways and their faded evergreen is nostalgic of a bygone era. I’m drinking gingerbread lattes and toffee-nut coffees, wrapped in my cold-weather gear as I reminisce of New York during the time of It Happened on Fifth Avenue and Miracle on 34th Street. Sentimental? Me? I might be worse than a Sandra Bullock movie.

I recently met a travel writer at a local bookstore’s holiday party. He is a much older gentleman from Europe, who moved to New York on a whim, expecting to only live here a few months. But on his flight home, he dreamed of Manhattan rising out of the sea. He since returned, met his wife, and has been here for decades.

We talked T.S. Eliot, the Upper West Side, and smoked salmon. I’ve read T.S. Eliot, dreamed of living on the Upper West Side, and have yet to taste smoked salmon. Regardless, he made the life he now lives. And while I have had no dreams of a city rising out of water, I appreciate passion. Passion is something we all need, and it often starts with the details.

Hot Town, Summer in the City

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty…. Yesterday was Labor Day. Henceforth white pants are a fashion faux pas (and also extremely dangerous on public transportation), neighborhood swimming pools are closed – goodbye Columbia University lifeguards – and kids are thrown back into the public institution we like to call school. Here is my ode to what The New York Times calls NYC’s hottest summer yet – yeah 2010!

1. Movies in the Park – Whether I’m lounging at Bryant Park or by the Brooklyn Bridge, free movies, picnics and friends are the perfect summer evening combination. Who doesn’t love the way Shaun Connery says “Indie” in The Last Crusade? And Richard Dreyfuss’ antics in The Goodbye Girl melts my heart.
2. She & Him on Governor’s Island for the 4th of July – Hipsters, a stimulated beach, ice- cream and Zooey Deschanel, there’s little more a girl could ask for in the way of entertainment. Well, except for what I am about to mention next.

3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – They’ve been filming his upcoming movie, Premium Rush, around my apartment. I’ve passed the film crew on several occasions, but never saw Mr. Levitt. THEN, one day as I sat watching, he suddenly appeared 5 feet away riding his bike for one of the shots. Flinging my arm in the air I yelled, “LOOK, it’s HIM!” and proceeded to giggle excitedly. Security moved me back 2 feet for the next shot, but I got to see him several times after that. Stalking celebrities does indeed have its rewards. Below is a great little movie he starred in a few years back – thanks Fred for the below bit of happiness. The close-ups of his face are the best.

Now watch the below, then flap your arms.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMfEA900d7A#at=18

4. It’s pierced . After years of deliberation, I put a hole in my nose.

5. Strolls along the Central Park Reservoir. This has long been a part of my walking/jogging route, but as the day cools, sauntering along the water FEELS like I’m on vacation.

6. My front porch – Outside my bedroom window is a little balcony I like to call my porch. Here, good talks with friends are combined with people watching. My favorite moment entailed watching my neighbor’s arrest. Also, I can see one New York City star (or some other source of unnatural light as it has the tendency to move).

7. Going green – By not having air-conditioning in my room, I went green this year – pat on the back. I would have installed my air-condition unit that my fan now sits atop, but it would block my entry to the “porch”. One must decide the important things of life.

Now for rust colored leaves, chilly mornings and hot coffee. As much as I enjoy summer, my heart belongs to fall.