Thursday, February 23, 2017

NYC Part II - Dining

Last week, I told you about our arrival in New York City. This week, I continue our saga.

During our three-hour wait for a taxi in the cold and wind, I texted Kim to let her know what was happening. She and her friends went on to the meet-and-greet before we arrived at the hotel. She mentioned they had eaten dinner at Bobby Flay’s restaurant, Bar American, around the corner from the hotel. She told us it was expensive but excellent.

We had eaten very little during the day, and the long wait plus the extended trip into the city meant we were starving by the time we reached Times Square.

We checked into the Sheraton and decided to go to the restaurant Kim had recommended because it was nearby. The walk was cold and slushy, but it wasn’t very far.

From the moment we entered, we felt welcomed. The number of staff nearly equaled the number of diners. We were shown to a nice table with white linens (which I love), offered menus, and were asked if we would like to check our coats. We declined because we were still a bit chilled. The waiter noticed the Universal Studios Japan logo on the back of my coat and asked about it.
When he brought our beverages, we began a delightful conversation about Japan and the Universal park. Our waiter, Hector, was originally from Venezuela. He had considered visiting Japan, so he asked lots of questions. We thoroughly enjoyed meeting him.

We ordered our meal, and enjoyed the bread selection while we waited for our entrees. I ordered the spinach salad. I also ordered the sweet potato gratin. It sounded interesting, and I wanted to try it. Larry ordered the blackened sea bass.

The salad was delicious with crispy, thick bacon, feta cheese, and a poached egg on top. The gratin consisted of paper-thin slices of sweet potato layered with cinnamon and nutmeg, baked in an individual ramekin. It tasted a lot like pumpkin pie filling (which I adore). Larry enjoyed his sea bass and helped finish the sweet potatoes.

Of course, he also had to order dessert: chocolate crème brulèe. I was full, but I tried a taste—and it was terrific!

The entire meal was delightful and the perfect end to a stressful day. Once again, we met lovely, friendly New Yorkers and discovered why the city is famous for its food.

Back at the hotel, we didn’t even bother unpacking, but climbed into bed, full and ready for whatever the morning would bring.

Next week: our bus trip around the city.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Welcome to New York City

New York City has been on my bucket list for a long time. Larry has been there on business several times. His first visit was in 1957 as part of the Boy Scout Jamboree held at Valley Forge. But I’d never been there.

Late last year, our daughter, Kim, told us about the invitation her church choir (Prestonwood Baptist) had received to sing at Carnegie Hall accompanying Michael W. Smith. She knew we were in because 1) he is one of my favorite Christian composers and performers, and 2) NYC was already on my list. We signed up to attend as non-singers as soon as we were able.
Before we left home, we checked the weather. Wednesday had been sixty degrees and clear. A huge blizzard blew in on Thursday, bringing between nine and fourteen inches of snow. LaGuardia shut down for most of the day.

We checked the status of our flight on Thursday night, and it still showed on schedule. So we got up at 3:30 a.m. (after an excited sleepless night), showered, dressed, and picked up our friend at five. She had agreed to drive us to the airport before she went to work. Our car would remain at her house until she picked us up on Monday night.

Our 6:55 flight still showed on schedule on the Departure board when we arrived. Thank goodness, we have TSA Pre-Check. We have always had it since it started, probably because we are old and have done a lot of flying.

After an uneventful flight, with a stop in Chicago, we arrived at four-thirty p.m.—a half hour early. Since we were scheduled to attend a welcome get-together with the group at eight, we were certain we’d have lots of time to get there. WRONG!

Before we left the baggage claim area, we donned our Universal Studios Japan all-weather coats. These were issued to the team shortly after we arrived in Osaka. I guess they knew as Californians, most of us wouldn’t have suitable clothing for winter in Osaka. And were they ever right! We debated packing them for NYC, but decided to take them. So glad we did! They also provided great conversation starters.

We walked out to the taxi line. The temperature was below freezing (30 degrees). The line snaked back and forth a few times, but it didn’t appear daunting. We moved very slowly for over an hour until we reached the street. We thought this was the end of the line. However, we were wrong.

We crossed the street to find another, even longer, line. This one went down about three blocks, made a turn and then doubled back, and it barely moved. In fact, we stood in one spot for over half an hour. When we finally made the turn, we saw what the problem was: no taxis. None. Traffic, inbound and outbound, was at a standstill. Only one cab came by every five minutes or so.

After three hours standing in below freezing temperatures and driving wind (the temp dropped as we stood in line), taxis began to arrive, two or three at a time. Even the airport staff said they had never seen traffic this bad. (When we got to the hotel, the news was full of the LaGuardia mess.)

We finally settled into a cab, frozen and exhausted, at close to eight p.m. We watched the driver’s GPS as it redirected him from route to route. The bridges around the airport were blocked. He apologized for the detours. We actually had a nice conversation on the way to the hotel. Our first encounter with a NY cab driver, and he was polite and accommodating. Another stereotype blown away, happily.

During the ride, we thawed our extremities. We have never been so happy to see a hotel!

Next week, our New York adventure continues.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Beta Readers

We are dependent on our beta readers for feedback on our finished manuscripts before publication.

Beta readers are non-professionals who read a written work before publication, sometimes before the final edit. We ask ours to suggest ways to improve mechanical elements, like grammar and spelling, plus the overall story, characters, or setting. They are not expected to proofread or edit, but can make suggestions in these areas. Beta readers can identify such issues as plot holes, continuity, believability, and fact-checking.

Even though I am a professional editor, I can miss errors in my own work. I also work so closely with Larry on his books I can miss elements. We especially appreciate readers who haven’t read other books in a series so they can let us know if information is missing.

Once the story is complete, we still have several items to finish before the book is published (acknowledgements, dedication, promo, back matter, etc. plus the cover design). This is the point where we ask for beta readers.

We usually ask our beta readers to get their comments back to us in about two weeks. Sometimes they get a little longer.

Sometimes we ask friends. More often, however, we put out the word on social media. For some of our books, we receive so many requests we have to limit the number. We like a few readers who are already familiar with our work along with a few who haven’t read previous books.

We expect our beta readers to read the book in the timeframe we request. We expect them to give us feedback—both good and bad. We need to recognize any errors or issues so we can correct them. We also ask our readers for a one- or-two-sentence short review to include in the book.

No. I am always disappointed when someone is enthusiastic about reading a book and then doesn’t follow through. Sometimes, they never respond after we send them the advanced copy.


If this sounds like something you would like to do, please comment on this blog, and I’ll keep you in mind for our next release.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

About Bob Martin

Last year, I had the pleasure of editing a great action novel, Bronx Justice, written by Bob Martin. I asked him to share how he came to write this book. Here are his answers. [Lorna]

Joining the NYPD was a forgone conclusion for me. I come from an NYPD family. I followed my father and older brother onto “The Job.” Like them, I started with the rank of Patrolman. There were no female police officers in the 1970 NYPD, so Patrolman was not considered a sexist term. In 1974, when women joined our ranks, the title was officially changed to the more politically correct Police Officer.
As I was retiring, after thirty-two years, my son took the baton and joined the ranks of the NYPD. We were heading to the one-hundred-year mark of family service to the Department when he switched and joined the FDNY-Fire Department New York.

I was in no way disappointed with his decision then, and wake up each day now, overjoyed with his move. Police work has always been a dangerous calling. But, the upheavals of the last few years have made it more dangerous than ever. The assassination killings of police officers in Brooklyn, Dallas and Baton Rouge have confirmed my feelings. My boy is much better off as a firefighter than a cop.

I began my writing career while still with the NYPD. I was attending college and wrote a paper for a course I was taking: NYPD History. I interviewed a legendary Queens Homicide lieutenant, Dan Kelly, who had been doing murder investigations for over thirty-five years. My teacher, an ex-cop, thought the story was worthy of publication. It ran in 1991 in The Badge, the magazine of the Fraternal Order of Police. That started the ball rolling. I have had numerous articles published in newspapers and magazines.

Last December, my first book, Bronx Justice, An NYPD Novel, based on a real case, was published. For that, I owe a debt of gratitude to the woman whose blog you are reading, my phenomenal editor Lorna Collins.