Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fortune's Daughters is on pre-sale on Amazon

For the past twelve months I've been writing a new historical novel set in the first third of the twentieth century.  The book will be published by Lake Union, an imprint of the Amazon Group that also bought and published Three Daughters. The publication date is May 9, 2017 however the book is available for pre-order on Amazon.  

For all of the writers who read my blog, I will soon devote a new post recounting the unique personal experiences that came with my Amazon association.  

Here is the link to Fortune's Daughters and below is the prologue.


At the turn of the twentieth century, the Hempstead Plains, fertile and halcyon, bordered by the great Atlantic, blessed by God with every source of outdoor pleasure, broke off from Queens and became Nassau, the sixty-first county of New York State.

America’s bankers and industrial tycoons built castles along the rolling North Coast and manicured the rough virgin woods from Great Neck to Lloyd Harbor. J. P. Morgan, Frank Woolworth, Marshall 3Field, Harry Guggenheim, Frank Doubleday, and Asa Simpson. The names told the history of America’s stunning growth. The unblemished county was only twenty-nine miles from the squalor of glutted lower Manhattan, where the millions were made  on the corner of Broad and Wall.


I feel crass and filthy offering this title for you to purchase but I feel crass and filthy for lesser behavior.  Also, I will be posting regularly again.    X

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

State of the Union according to Google

(On Friday, we will have a new president.  Decided this might be a good time to repost this entry from 2013)

Google knows how the citizens are doing.  It has saved all our questions, all our searches, all our subjects and sub categories, We only have to prompt it with a word or two and it shows us where we have been, where we are and where we need to go. 

My job is:
killing me
makes me depressed

My wife
doesn’t want kids
doesn’t trust me
doesn’t love me anymore
doesn’t listen to me
doesn’t respect me
doesn’t support me
doesn’t like me anymore
doesn’t like my family

My husband:
is gay
got a family
cheated on me
is mean
hit me
hates his job

I lie
about everything
too much
all the time
to myself

My house is:
on fire
making me sick
in foreclosure

I’m happiest when:
Happiness is:
a choice
like a butterfly

My health is:
better in November
not good
going down fast
getting worse

Government is:
killing us
watching us
lying to us

I worry about:
everything all the time
money all the time
my boyfriend
my boyfriend dying
I hate:
my job
my life
everything about you

How do I:
put this gently
get pinkeye

God bless you all and God bless America

Friday, January 13, 2017

The ruinous price of pettiness.

I had a friend who was a famous writer at the height of his fame. He told me that instead of enjoying his success he was in “thought purgatory” over something his roommate was doing.

“What could that possibly be to distract you from all the fun?”

“He doesn’t buy any bar soap for the shower?”

“Wait. What?”

“He uses my bar of soap all of the time and never replaces it?”

“Why don’t you take your soap with you.  They sell those covered soap dishes.  I had one in boarding school.”

“I want to see how long it will be before he notices and buys a new bar. God help me, I want to escalate the problem.”

“Suppose you just let the bar get smaller and smaller until it is gone.”

“I’ve tried that.  At the end it was just a millimeter before it dissolved. I went without soap washing for a week."
“What did he do?”

“He went merrily along the same way and the operative word here is “merrily” because while I was being consumed with only one thought – driven by one idea amid all the good news that was pouring in to my voicemail and e-mail, he was blithe as a toddler in a field of daisies.”

“Why didn’t you Just ask him to buy some soap?" My friend looked at me as if I had an IQ of 20.  His voice rose a few decibels.

 “Why didn’t I just ask him to buy soap???  Why didn’t I just buy Amazon at $14?  Why didn’t I just stop smoking years ago?  I couldn’t!!!!!!!!!!” he screamed. “That would be so petty.  He would know that I had noticed and thought of it. He would know that I had been thinking about the bar of soap in the little nook in the shower stall. I would make me look small. Diminished.  I can’t tell him.  I compose that conversation in my head over and over but I can’t say it.”

“Why not?”

“I would be discovered as a petty miser who is squabbling over a 79 cent bar of soap.”

“By whom? The thoughtless roommate?  You are assuming his thoughts are all lofty.  Climate change.  Religion and ethics. You already have a mixed opinion of him so why worry?  And by the way, why label your request as petty or miserly and why label a simple request as a squabble?”

My friend, a brilliant writer, stopped talking and remained quiet for several seconds. Several seconds in conversations feels like a very long time.  Finally, he said.  “You are right on every level.  I will tell him tonight that we’re out of shower soap and please pick up a few bars.”

“There you go.” 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

"Your own secrets sucked out of you..."

I wonder which is preferable, to walk around all your life swollen up with your own secrets until you burst from the pressure of them, or to have them sucked out of you, every paragraph, every sentence, every word of them, so at the end you're depleted of all that was once as precious to you as hoarded gold, as close to you as your skin - everything that was of the deepest importance to you, everything that made you cringe and wish to conceal, everything that belonged to you alone - and must spend the rest of your days like an empty sack flapping in the wind, an empty sack branded with a bright fluorescent label so that everyone will know what sort of secrets used to be inside you?  This is from Margaret Atwood

Really?  On first reading I love the idea of this quote but then...?   I'd love to have all my secrets sucked out of me.  Secrets are not all that precious.  The stuff I wished to conceal when I was trying to make my way, I gladly reveal now.   I like to sit around.  I'm an emotional eater.  I am not against lying although I'm recently adverse to stealing.  I have intimacy problems. I'm full of shame sometimes.  Every successful social encounter leaves me feeling filthy. Yes, filthy.  I still talk too much.  So what?   'So what' to everything. I call it my "so what" cure.  

There are still scenes from the past that make me cringe. Cringe as in hunching my shoulders inward and turning to confront myself.  When I write that sentence the scenes become insignificant.  I call this my "state exactly what is troubling you and it will diminish" cure.  
The things that are precious to me, images that I remember with a full heart are not secrets at all.  They are small ephemeral moments that catch someone close to me stunned by life.  Yes, life can stun you, good or bad.  In that moment, there are no secrets - just you and the thing itself.  And you can recover. You can recover from almost anything.
I recently saw The Master, and the best scene in that movie is when Phillip Seymour Hoffman sits very close to Joaquin Phoenix and asks him the sort of questions that I wish someone would ask me.
What is the most important thing in your life?  What do you wish would happen more than anything in the world?  What makes you most afraid?  

The answers are not the answers of old: children, health, accidents. 
The most important thing in my life is the ability to keep on going.  More than anything in the world I wish to know myself better.  I am most afraid of fulfilling my childhood dreams.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's New Year's Eve. I'm sitting in my office in the house.

(Facebook showed me this post in what they call "your memories." It was posted  in 2013. Since it's New Year's Eve and I have to re-introduce myself to my followers (if any are left) after a long writing sabbatical,  I thought it was appropriate to re-post.) 

It’s New Year’s Eve.  I’m sitting in my office in the house. There are two windows in the room and I’ve covered them with venetian blinds because the sunshine in the morning is so beautifully invasive that I can’t see my computer screen.  

This room was originally a bedroom.  It was the Jill part of what developers like to call a Jack and Jill set up.  I sleep in the Jack part across the hall from the bathroom.   This room is located inches to the right of the front door and in the early days (I was still tolerant) when carousing co-workers needed a place to sleep I would tell them to come in the door, make a sharp right and just get in the bed. I never locked any of the doors even though my house is only one block from a main road and the Railroad Station. (I was tolerant and crazy.)

With the arrival of my first dial up internet connection I made the bedroom near the front door my office and moved the bed upstairs. This became the room where I re-invented myself as a publisher and purveyor of digital books that I learned to build and upload to Amazon.  I also created a blog and began posting simple ideas that seemed brilliant in the shower. In this room I've received good news and disappointing news.  I’ve cried in here several times. (Not recently,)

Here is some of the good news I’ve received in this room over the years:
1.  Can you come in to town, I think I’m starting labor?
2.  Can you come in for the award luncheon?
3.  I’ve been asked to work on a show.
4.  Grandma, it’s me.  Can I come over?
5.  We got the house.
6.  Consuela, I read your manuscript last night.  It’s wonderful. (This from my devoted agent who never in twenty-five years has gotten my name right.)
7.  “Daughters is the best book I’ve read this year.” (Daughters has received 119 5-star reviews and 47 4-star reviews.  One reader gave me four stars because she was mad when it ended. (Since this posted, Daughters now has 2,158 reviews, the majority five stars.)
8. One Hundred Open Houses does not sell well but when someone buys it and connects - aaah! “I loved this book.  Now, how did the author get into my mind and pick out every thought I’ve ever had, do have and will have and get it all together in this book?” This is my personal favorite.
9.  Hello, Ms. Baehr.  This is Rachel from Fast Company Magazine. We’d like to include you in our Kings of Content article if you’re willing. Do you know anything about me, I asked?
10. Dear Consuelo, My name is David Blum and I run the Kindle Singles division at Amazon. We’d like to publish Thinner Thighs in Thirty Years as a Kindle Single.  (Ok.) 

 I'll add two events to the good news portion:  11. Dear Consuelo,  I'm an editor here at Amazon Publishing and we'd like to buy your book Daughters and re-publish it.  12. Dear Consuelo,  I'm happy to offer you a contract for your new historical, Fortune's Daughters. (I said "yes" to both e-mails.)  

2013 was a good year.  I got rid of a couple of bad habits. (Well, almost.) I did not lose a single pound although I was sure I would lose about five every single day. (Oh, you have to stop eating? Who knew?)

What I liked best were the e-mails and comments from people who read The Repurposed Writer.  The post goes out with a little click and the next morning readers weigh in.  I’m always surprised.  Who knew these good times were waiting for me?  Thank you. Thank you. 

2016 was a good personal year. I learned how to re-write.  And re-write.  I learned how to "show up" most days.  Will do a post on "showing up" in the near future.

Happy New Year! 

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A purity of intent. Redux)

(When a blog visitor reads a post from the archives, I re-read it.  This is a re-post of an entry about POTUS. He'll he leaving us soon and it's a nice way to say good-bye.)
Yesterday I changed my mind about two things:  President Obama and sports.
Normally, I would not watch a presidential news conference in the middle of the day but it interrupted one of my favorite game shows (yes, I know, you think less of me now).  Instead of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" there was our fabulous looking president telling us in a sure, strong voice why the Iran deal is much better than no deal because the alternative is to blow Iran up into smithereens (little bits and pieces.)  The president didn't say that last part.  He said war was the alternative.
The president also mapped out all of the safety nets that were in place in the deal in case Iran wanted to sneak around and build nuclear weapons behind our back.  The president also said that a nuclear plant is not something you can put on a dolly and wheel out of sight.  I was astonished at the reasonableness of his remarks considering that this initiative is a major game change in the way we deal with the Middle East. 
There is a new note in our president's voice. He is calm and sequential.  There is a purity of intent that comes across when he lays out his reasoning.  There is a purity of intent when he challenges the opposition to be courageous enough to embrace the alternative view which would be war. 
Normally, given my penchant for grand irony, I should have been madly in love with a president named Barack Hussein Obama II.  Holy Toledo, is this a joke?  In the early years, I was not a fan. I didn't mind that he was not as pure as advertised.  I didn't mind that he was backed by Wall Street money or had to repay lobbyists like the impure presidents. Remember the $536 million sunk into that trainwreck Solyndra? I particularly didn't like the stealthy way the health bill was passed, cobbled together with possibly non-constitutional legislative tricks. I didn't like the way the press was slobbering (yes, slobbering) over him because I considered it democratically unhealthy.  I had a hunch that Michelle had a chip on her beautifully toned shoulder.  After all, she was a brainiac, too, and why should she be demoted to issues like childhood obesity instead of making the big decisions.
My respect for this president grew slowly.  I began to pay attention toward the three quarter mark of the first term. He was publicly stubborn.  He would not be bullied by the press to provide answers before he was ready.  He had his own way of dealing with the world outside of the USA.  We didn't have a puppet in the Oval Office.  Maybe the president grew, too, and I'm appreciating the man he has become.  Either way, we are the luckiest country on earth to have this intelligent man who has nothing political to lose, leading this country as best he can. A naysayer once said to me, "This charming, handsome man is privately killing America."  "Don't discount charm," I replied.
My second awakening is about sports.  I have only a passing interest in sports.  I know from the headlines that sports figures sometimes do very dumb things.  Two of them blew off a finger over the July 4th holiday.  A couple of them have shot people.  Dead. Many of the men marry gorgeous women and then divorce them.  Those were my default thoughts about sports but last night I changed my mind.  I watched the entire Espy awards show and not for the reason you think.  I did see Caitlyn's good speech but that came late in the proceedings.  I watched the entire show because I was riveted to the men and women who received awards. The clips of their feats were fantastic and showed tremendous physical talent.  The recipients were modest, thoughtful, grateful and gave short interesting speeches. Two of them made me cry.  Yay sports!
And by the way, have you noticed what a brilliant and interesting man Mike Tyson has become?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Would you give up a rent-controlled fireplace studio in Manhattan for a guy?

(In between re-writes of my new novel, Fortune's Daughters,  I took a fun break to review The Dollhouse, placed in my hands by Penguin/Random House.  PUb date 8/23/16)

During a week of ninety plus heat in East Hampton I liked having The Dollhouse, a summer read, to keep my mind cool and engaged. The Barbizon Hotel (The Dollhouse) was THE place where proper young women from small towns sought shelter when they arrived in New York City.  Liza Minnelli, Ali MacGraw, Grace Kelly Lauren Bcall were among the many aspiring actresses who stayed there. Future writers Eudora Welty, Joan Didion, Ann Beattie, Mona Simpson—and Sylvia Plath, who set part of The Bell Jar at a fictional Barbizon were residents.

It gets better.  It’s 2016 and thirtysomething Rose Lewin,  think The Devil Wears Prada, is a smart likeable woman who has been done wrong by a callous boyfriend and a callous television news station. Her new job at a trendy content factory is in jeopardy. Rose gave up a perfect, rent-controlled fireplace laden studio for the creep and now must scrounge around for shelter in pricey New York while he places his ex-wife in their luxe Barbizon condo. This fact alone made me want to kill the duplicitous boyfriend. With career and real estate demons nipping at her heels, Rose has one tiny safety net – a story idea about the old days at the Barbizon and the women from the era who still live there, segregated in musty apartments while the rest of the building is a basket of luxe trophy pads.

The novel alternates the present and the past, as Rose pursues her story to unearth the details of the tragic accident that befell Darby, an Ohioan who arrived at the Barbizon to attend Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School and fulfill her dream of being the best secretary in the world to an important man.Will the mystery of Darby's life be revealed?  Will Rose stop being a victim and take control of her life?  Will her partner, the hunky photog, stick around when all else crumbles?  Will the ambitious ex boyfriend get what's coming to him?   

If you liked the era of Mad Men and if you were rooting for the heroine of The Devil Wears Prada, The Dollhouse will satisfy if you can do without much emotional depth.Good twists and surprises.