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What Not to Do When in New YorkJuly 5, 2011

Last week while this blog was so quiet, I was in New York on business, and while house sitting my agent’s apartment, I managed to set it on fire.

Yes. On fire.

For ten or fifteen minutes, I ran back and forth from the room filled with firefighters and a still-smoking air conditioner, to the front door, frantic that neither cat escape as the men tromped in and out, because honestly, the only thing worse than dealing with a fire in your agent’s house would be losing her cat.

While wearing no pants. (It was muggy! I wanted air conditioning! I was thinking ahead!) Fortunately I thought to pull some on just before the fire department arrived.

The air conditioning unit had snapped, sparked and smoked shortly after I turned it on, but the firefighters said it put itself out, with no extension into the walls. They handled it with severity, taking absolutely no interest in me when I told them that I worked for the fire department back home. They tromped out, back toward their dinners I’d made them leave on their tables, their axes on their shoulders, and I was left shaking in the living room.

I called Susanna and, using my calm dispatcher voice, told her what had happened. Then I had a very short indulgent cry and the tiniest dram of Laphroig, which Susanna’s husband considerately kept in their liquor stash for probably just such occasions.

I was hungry, but I didn’t dare leave the apartment, sure that if I did, some other plugged-in appliance would leap into flame. Fortunately, it was New York, so I poked around their kitchen drawers until I found the compulsory menu package. Thirty minutes later, I ate sushi that had been delivered to the door (oh, sweet, sweet delivery). I had a glass of wine. I read my book.

Then I went to bed and, unable to drop off, stared up at the ceiling in the muggy heat, my shirt pulled up, a cool wet washcloth on my stomach.

It hit me then: I was in New York. On business. I was a writer. A real one. It was my third trip to the city on business in as many years, and I felt so freakin' lucky. Beyond lucky. Completely, gobsmacked amazed.

What was the best part of the RWA National Convention? Besides my roomies, who were awesome? (Giggle fits! Every night a slumber party!)

AJ Larrieu and Kristin Miller


The Best Part

I think my absolute favorite moment was the HarperCollins party, which was at the boathouse in Central Park. (I know.) When I walked in, I had such a moment. I walked past the string ensemble to the dock overlooking the boaters. How many movies had I seen set in that location? Innumberable. The air was warm but not too heavy, and turtles bobbed in the water below.


Writing is mostly sitting alone, staring at a screen, concerned the words will never come, or when they do, they'll be wrong. And writers, when they dare to dream, dream of being published. I never got past that dream. That was as big as I dared. But if I'd dreamed bigger, I would have dreamed of being feted in an iconic New York locale, a glass of champagne in my hand. I never thought it would happen. I babbled something like this to one of the editors who gave me a funny look. I said, "I'm sorry. I sound crazy. But this is the dream." She said, no, she loved hearing it and that I should tell her more.


It felt like magic. I was starry-eyed. (I also felt rather like a rube--most of the other people seemed to take it all in stride. But I didn't. Anyway, it's more fun to be amazed, isn't it?)

Also, there were cardboard books to pose with:


That is, indeed, Eloisa James posing inside her own book. Heh. And here I am:

Like my dress?


Also on my trip:

Knitting with knitters! Wonderful afternoon at Jenn Jarvis's house with some of my favorite people. Seeing a fun ska-hula-billy band at Ottos' Shrunken Head in the East Village with friends. Having my phone die on Thursday (it's Tuesday now, still don't have the new one yet) and being in a strange city with no internet or phone. Old skool! I used maps! Wrote phone numbers down! It shook me up more than I thought it should. Also, I missed Twitter unreasonably. It was a little embarrassing.


They Say It's My Birthday!

Overall, I think it's a good way to start a new year. It's my birthday today! And tomorrow I start a new job (same 911 fire/medical gig, new agency), and everything feels bright and fresh and a little scary. I'm thirty-nine, and this is my last hurrah before the big 4-0 next year. (I counted on my fingers this morning to be sure. This is not like 33, which I missed entirely.) Everyone (meaning Lala) has me freaked out over the 40 thing, so I'm going to do this year right.

I think I'm going to go for balance.

I know, what? Balance? I don't do balance. I run marathons or I sit on the couch. I write novels because it's a challenge. I pick (a lot of the time, sadly) work over family and friends, staying at my computer crazy-long hours. Maybe I could change this. So I'm thinking about this a lot.

What comes to mind when you think of balance? Where do you want balance in your life? I'm making a list.


To Read:

And while I'm going on and ON, let me tell you about a book I read this week that I LOVED. Lovely reader Linda told me about it: My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock. I was completely impressed and inspired by it--the story of a woman taking stock of her life and working on fear. She weaves Eleanor Roosevelt's story in with her own in a charming, smart way, and I highly recommend it.

* <psa> Thank god Susanna had a land line on which to call 911, since I had no phone and all. Eek! Keep your land line! (In California, it doesn't even need to have service to call 911. I have no land line service, but I keep the phone plugged in to use it when I have to.)  </psa>


Happy birthday, Rachael! I hope this year brings you ample time to do all the things you enjoy most.

You know, for balance. :)

I love this story! Hahahahaha! Love the image of you pantsless and running around, and especially love that it didn't turn out to be serious. And that you managed to turn it all around and realize that you are a Real Freakin' Writer hanging out in NYC!
And do you know the French say you don't even realize who you ARE, much less have a chance at true happiness, until you're 40? It'll be great.
And for the record, I don't really believe in balance. Crazy, careening, happiness is much more fun ;-)

You are 2 days younger than I am.. boy do I feel unaccomplished! Happy Birthday!

I'm actually rather delighting in turning 40 next year, I can't WAIT! Every decade's been better than the last, so this next one coming up should be rather awesomesauce.

As for balance? I'm not sure I've got any grip on it either.. when I hear a knitting challenge say 'knit a shawl or scarf in two colours' that translates in my head to 'dye your cotton to two colours, and then design your own shawl'. :)

You're an inspiration and amazing and just so damn CUTE!

You look like such a stereotypical writer, standing on the boathouse at such and such publishers party.

And don't feel bad, there isn't a week that goes by where I don't catch something on fire. I don't call the fire department, just sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on it, but I would rather have a few small fires than one big one.

Balance is a tad over rated, I wouldn't get anything done if I dind't igonore the family and act like a crazy person.

The only home phone I've got plugged in is a corded one. I should fix that, especailly since it's in a part of the house that you can't get out of.

Happy Birthday!

I've never understood any fixation on the "big" birthdays. I figure any passing birthday is something to celebrate. So much better than the alternative of no more birthdays. I'm 54 this year, and I've earned everyone of these grey hairs and wrinkles, thank you very much!

My best birthday tradition (unfortunatly not for the last 2 years) was that my boyfriend did what he called "Boobala fest" - a whole week of presents. Based on the year my dad forgot my mom's birthday (They had been fussing at each other that morning. He came home from work that day, tossed a package at her. Her face lit up and she said "you remebered!". His face fell (it was her watch, which had been being repaired), rushed back out the door to the jewelry store, then had to make it up by bringing home something every day for a week). That and the fact that since my oldest was 4 I have not had to make my own birthday cake (he needed help with the oven that year, but has been going strong since).

Balance is over-rated. You have to do what feels most important at the moment, and sometimes it's family, and sometimes it's work. We had a wonderful conversation yesterday at my mom's, about the memories that stick with us. She was talking about us going to the circus all the time the year we lived in Denmark (like, once or twice a month. All the time!) I don't remember that at all, but I remember the bathroom at the top of the stair case at the school I went to. Enjoy 39, but the best is yet to come!

Happy Birthday! FWIW - 40 isn't so bad. I crossed that bridge not too long ago and all is well on the other side.

Happy, happy birthday!

And obviously your agent loves you, since she's still speaking to you. Phew!

I love you so much. :-) And also? I HAVE THAT JOHANNA LINDSAY NOVEL! I feel a little dirty saying that, but it is what it is. :)

Hi Rachael! Happy Birthday to you! I hope you are having a fabulous day and that your first day on the new job goes well. I love your stories and photos from NY. And I'm so happy you liked the My Year With Eleanor book. I had a feeling you'd love it, just as I did. I totally am ready to do more scary things in my life (but never the stand up comedy). And last year was my 40th....it wasn't bad. Don't be scared of it. :)

Happy birthday! I think it's so cool that you had your here-I-am moment, and being excited about it is a lot more fun than trying to act cool. Rock on!

Happy Birthday! Enjoy, and rock the roller coaster of being 39.

Happy birthday darling! You'll never be old with all the fun and adventure in your soul. Happy new job too!

Good info on the land line...I'll have to look into whether that applies in WA. Hope it does! Congrats on the new job!

Way more fun to be filled with wonder. Why else to adults envy kids?

Balance is a series of constant small adjustments. It's not something you set up and then leave alone. This I learned in therapy and it was an eye-opener to me.

Happy happy bday, Rachael! Did you see all the fireworks across the country just for you?! (A couple of days early, but still for you, right?)

Congrats on the new agency. I hope it fits your life perfectly.

As for the landline, I'm told that all landline phones must be able to dial 9-1-1, even if the phone service isn't hooked up. Some sort of law about universal access, I think. Basically, it stipulates that any phone (landline or cell) has to be able to reach 9-1-1, with or without service. That is a large factor in the increase in 9-1-1 cellphone hangup calls and calls by kids who are playing with their parent's "old phones that don't even have any minutes on them". Anyway, lecture over.

Hugs and stuff, you accomplished young woman living your dream!

Happy Birthday, and congrats on living your dreams. Don't fret 40, 40 is awesome, suddenly all those stupid voices in your head that doubt your worth are gone and you are left with phenomenal sense of self. 'm not a lone, a group of friends and I all have experienced the same bliss and were amazed that this isn't part of its own "it gets better" campaign for women. No one tells you about that, so I will!

I'm a NYer by birth and lived there til I was 21 then moved back there at 28 til 38. There is no place like NY.
Turning 40 was easy but 50 was my favorite. 60 is exciting and am looking forward to 70. it is freeing to let go of youthful angst and enjoy every day.

Happy Birthday! 40 was the best year as I finally got together with the love of my life (we'd known each other for a while, just needed a nudge) and it's been so so sweet ever since. Don't dread it - you've got a year to plan a really great party!

40 is when you leave all the insecurities and self-doubt behind and when you really start to love (and be) yourself. And it just keeps getting better every year. Ask a 40+ if she'd like to go back to 39, and I'd bet most would say no.

just forwarded you an email from amazon, recommending the top 10 romance novels of 2011 so far. Guess what!!! yep - you made it!! soo proud of you tweasel.

Happy Belated Birthday, Rachael!

Happy belated birthday! I've been offline a couple of weeks so just getting caught up on my faves. We lost my dad on 6/24, so it's been a challenge. I'm reading back on some of your posts about your mom for inspiration on getting myself and my mom through this. You impact people more than you know, sweetie.

Having hit 50 this year, I can definitely say that how you handle the "big" birthdays are directly related to how your life is at the moment. You're in such a good place with love and work, I have no doubt that 40 will absolutely rock for you.

I used to strive for "balance" and at times thought I had achieved it. The universe would reward my smugness with something large enough to send that theory to hell and back. So, balance-schmalance. Go with what's important at the time, the rest works itself out.

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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