Sunday, June 17, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
The name Mondavi is synonymous throughout the world with fine wine and graceful
But Julie soldiered on, pouring through thousands of pages of court documents and interviewing hundreds of people. She flew to
Thursday, June 14, 2007
On a gorgeous Sunday night a few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with nine women who have become some of my closest companions.
We were there to celebrate our individual accomplishments and the fact that we have been writing as a group for almost nine years. It’s been amazing to watch one another evolve from fledgling to accomplished writers. When we started, some of us had never published, some were traditional reporters, some focused on lifestyle tidbits for magazines. Now there are four books to our credit, four more on the way, and articles spread everywhere from More Magazine to Salon.com to San Francisco Magazine to the New York Times. It’s an amazing, supportive group of writers.
Just 18 months earlier, the story had been a gleam in her eye. Then it was an article for San Francisco Magazine. Our group, called North 24th (since so many members live north of 24th Street in San Francisco), helped Allison shape her book proposal. Her agent did such an amazing job of drumming up interest in New York that her proposal sold in just a few days.But there was more to celebrate! Three members of our group have books coming out in the next few months. The next up is Julia Flynn Siler, whose book The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty, will be released next week. (More on that tomorrow) Susan Freinkel’s book, American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree, will be published by the
Since writing is such an isolated profession, a writing group like North 24th is like a lifeline, a support system that sustains and encourages you. When the doubts descend as they always do, it’s helpful to have a set of colleagues who can remind you that setback and rejection are part of the process, and do not define you as a person or a writer.
And when that “yes” comes over e-mail, that writing group is there to celebrate. I know there are thousands of groups like North 24th around the country, and to them and my own friends I say “bottoms up!”
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
A number of bloggers are dissing this article, “My Book Deal Ruined my Life,” about the nitty gritty of writing books. They’ve lampooned the woe-is-me-cloistered-for years-behind-a-desk-to-grind-out-80,000-words attitude. Why does anyone who actually scores a book deal get to complain? they ask.
When he received his contract, Mr. Anderson was working full-time as an editor at The New York Times Book Review, a job he had for 17 years. He figured he would try to take four years to finish the book and publish it by his 50th birthday. “But that was just naïve,” Mr. Anderson said.
He left The New York Times in 2005, sequestering himself in his
For months, each night, he would be startled from his slumber at 3:30 in the morning in the midst of a thought about Hansberry. “She’s a nice woman, but I don’t want to be with her all the time,” Mr Anderson said.”
“You’re not letting people read it as you write it. Nobody has ever read what you’re doing. It could be terrible. It could be brilliant. And you start to think, ‘Oh God, this is a complete piece of shit that couldn’t be published—nobody is going to read it.’ But then you have a sandwich and go, ‘I am a genius and I’m going to win the Booker Prize.’”
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Carole Leigh Hutton, the brand new executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News, called a staff meeting on Wednesday to announce, that, yes, there would be cuts in the newsroom, but she couldn’t yet say how many.
Final figures will be worked out in the next few weeks as managers draw up their fiscal 2007-2008 budget. Every group of employees, from Guild members to managers, are apparently at risk.
Rumors have been swirling for days that as many as 60 staffers – 1 out of every 4 editorial employees – would be fired. John Bowman, the former executive editor of the San Mateo Times, part of the Media News group, heard that figure tossed around at a top-level meeting of Media News editors in April. He broke an unofficial code of silence to announce the numbers because he is so disheartened by what is happening to the industry. (Read his gloomy and depressing assessment of Bay Area MediaNews papers here.)
But on Wednesday Hutton said that she didn’t know where those numbers came from – and she was at the same meeting as Bowman.
This will be the third round of cuts at the Mercury News in the past 18 months.
“Everyone is so weary,” said an editor at the paper. “Weary, weary, weary. It’s a huge panic. The real danger is to democracy. Someone has to cover the city councils and Boards of Supervisors and police departments and corporations and hold them all accountable.”
Hutton has been at the Mercury News less than three weeks. She replaced Susan Goldberg, who left to take a job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hutton was previously vice-president of Community Newspapers, a collection of smaller Bay Area papers, and worked before that as an editor of the Detroit Free Press. Hutton apparently took the job knowing she would have to oversee deep cuts in the Mercury News operations. She told her staff that the job “was too good to pass up.”
Hutton also told her staff that she would try and reinvent the Mercury in the coming months, drawing on the model presented by Newspapernext.org. She wants to “blow up the paper” and “do things differently.” In this model, readers, rather than just reporters, help determine what is covered.
"I would love to be the ones who figure this out,” Hutton told her staff, adding that “readers in
At this point, weary staffers at the paper are willing to try some new things, as long as they keep their integrity. But whether that will happen is still a big question mark.
"Even though this is officially termed a "reduction in force," I am surprised and dismayed that the organization thinks it can have a future without me. To be honest, I thought I'd get the chance to help lead the paper where it needed to go to compete successfully in the digital age. But instead, off I go."
He says he's not bitter, just sad. (via California Authors)
Chronicle Editor Phil Bronstein sent around a memo on Tuesday promising not to lay off any more management staff. But Hearst executives plan to approach the Newspaper Guild soon to discuss voluntary buyouts for the 80 reporters who still have to go.
“Mr. Bowman said he disclosed the layoff plan and resigned as executive editor of the Times because he was fed up with MediaNews' policies of trying to run newspapers short-handed,” he told the website Grade The News.
"They're way past the point of diminishing returns, of penny-wise, pound-foolish," Mr. Bowman said of MediaNews' operations in the Bay Area.
As one Mercury News staffer put it “The Chronicle will be down to 300 when their cuts are done, and the Merc will be at 180 if the rumored 60 layoffs happen!!! The Bay Area will be the biggest intellectual/innovation center in the nation with the fewest daily reporters.”
Some names were left off the list of the departing editors: Washington Bureau Chief Mark Sandalow was also let go.
This is a peculiar act since Sandalow was all over the television and radio when Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House. He’s been covering her for years. Now why would a paper fire someone who is probably better positioned than anyone else to keep tabs on the third most powerful person in the country?
Also, John Curley was not the last remaining person on the masthead from the days before Hearst bought the Chronicle. Editorial page editor John Diaz has been working for the Chronicle pre-Hearst.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
The grimmest workplace in the
You know times are bad when Executive Editor Phil Bronstein gives the boot to men and women who have been his colleagues for years – some all the way back to his early tenure at the Examiner. These cuts are so draconian and eliminate so many veteran journalists that one can’t help believe that the Chronicle will have a tough time putting out a quality product. And there are another 80 cuts of reporters yet to come!
There was no official notice of the layoffs in Tuesday’s newspaper. But columnist Leah Garchik did give a nod to her departing colleagues.
So this is written as a loud public sob. Every leaving colleague/friend will be missed. We are all diminished."