Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11, 2001-The Attack on the Twin Towers – New York, NY

As I do every year, I try to remember my connection to the events of 9-11-01. This year marks 14 years since the attacks happened, so I'm re-posting what I wrote last year as it sums up my experience with those events and what happened.
 The morning of September 11, 2001 started like any other day; little did any of us know that it would be a day that changed our country. I was ironing clothes, preparing to leave for work. I lived in uptown Manhattan with my husband and cat, and worked in lower Manhattan, only a few-minutes-walk from the World Trade Center.

News of the first plane hitting the North Tower (WTC 1) was on the news channels – I watched it as I ironed. My husband called – he was looking at the smoking tower from the top of the building where he worked in mid-town. Everyone was glued to the television, listening to the radio, or had their eyes trained upwards looking at the smoking tower. There were a lot of theories circulating, lots of speculation both in the news and among everyday people as to what was going on. No one really knew. Then the 2nd plane hit. It became evident that this was not an accident, it was a terrorist attack.

My husband saw the second plane hit from where he stood. More rumors started to fly about additional attacks - some people thought they heard that the white house had been hit, others correctly identified the Pentagon. In a disaster situation, it’s often hard to disseminate reality from fiction, and this was never clearer than during the first hours of 9-11. Phone lines still worked at this point, albeit it took a few tries to get through. I talked with my supervisor, and it was agreed that everyone should stay home and not come to work until we knew what was going on. I was still in communication with my husband, and he said his job was also considering letting them leave, so he’d be gathering his things and heading to the subway once they gave word. Then the buildings started collapsing, and all seeming normalcy was suddenly thrown into chaos. Subway service was halted. All traffic including public transportation was frozen to lower Manhattan. Bridges and tunnels were closed. People were advised to walk, and if they didn't know where to go, they were advised to just walk north.  My husband went north - he walked and took the bus when he could; I drove down from Washington Heights to 63rd Street, the furthest I was allowed to travel downtown with a vehicle. I tried to call my husband – I called and called and called – my attempts were met with either a busy signal or a recorded message that told me all circuits were busy. I parked and waited. And waited. And waited. The waiting was the worst. I started worrying. I kept trying to call, and finally one short call went through and the breath I'd been holding in my chest was released. My husband was close. He would meet me where I was parked. All I could do was wait some more.  I watched the throngs of people who passed, the fear and panic on their faces. I watched the people who had walked up from downtown Manhattan, their clothes covered in soot, business suits ripped and torn, faces & hair caked with a grayish powder…the pulverized remnants of everything that had been in the towers. Once I saw my husband coming down the sidewalk, tears streamed down my face; everything I'd held in all day finally came out in one emotional exhale. 

Photo credit: Michelle Reynoso
In the days that followed, it was heart wrenching to see all the pictures of people who were missing posted on the sides of buildings; to watch the coverage of the search for so many missing people and to see so few rescues. I reached out to friends. We shared stories. We shared theories. We shared sadness. I discovered friends who narrowly escaped the tower collapse, others who saw the planes hit the towers as they circled the airport to land, and others who lost loved ones there. Those days were some of the scariest and darkest days I have experienced in my lifetime. 

I will never forget what happened on 9-11-01. I hope none of us do. 

Friday, August 07, 2015

What I've Been Reading...

...has been an eclectic mix over the last couple of months. Here's the list:

Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key by Jack Gantos

My son had this on his summer reading list, and after he gave me a quick summary, I decided it was important for me to read it too. I like to read what he's reading (or has read) so we can discuss it together, which enhances his experience.

This story was much different than I had imagined from both the title and the snippets my son had told me about. I found it to be similar in perspective to another book I read awhile back, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine - about an 11 year old girl with Asperger's Syndrome - but this time the story is from a boy's perspective who has extreme ADHD. It's nice to see books like this that give children a bird's eye view from a child that may be different than they are, but still similar is so many ways. Well-written, makes you feel Joey's struggles as if you are in his mind experiencing them first hand - thumbs up.

Seventh Son by Joseph Delaney

Loved the book, hated the movie. The book took it's time in developing the story and the characters, slowly and methodically, the story flowed like a meandering stream that guided me all the way to the end. The movie combined two books, rushed the story, and tried to make the story bigger by adding special effects that weren't needed. The book was an international bestseller, leave it alone, tell the story as it was written.  I was so disappointed in the movie; the whole way through I was complaining, "that's not how it happened in the book."; it was so off-putting, I compare my disappointment to what I experienced when I saw Eragon the movie, adapted from the book by Christopher Paolini. Boo-hiss, both are bad adaptations of amazingly good books.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Where do I start? I had such high expectations since this is a story by J.K. Rowling, the J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. While the characters were amazingly developed, I found it took me a long time to finish the story, mainly because I just didn't care enough about what was unfolding in the story. It didn't live up to expectations for me. Will I read another J.K. Rowling adult fiction - maybe, maybe not; we'll see.

The Cage by Megan Shepherd

This was a pleasant surprise as Megan Shepherd is a new author for me. I saw a blurb about The Cage in a "Soon to be Released" list online and I was instantly hooked. I pre-ordered the audio book and waited for it to be released. After I finished the book, I have to say I really liked it. The story was fresh, the writing naturally flowed, and the story was easy to get lost in. Thumbs up.

Paper Towns by John Green

After reading The Fault In Our Stars, I became a HUGE John Green fan - loved that book - so I decided to see what another one of his stories would be like, and settled on Paper Towns. This story is less romance and more crude teenage mindset. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, but once the story unfolded a bit and we got into the mystery of Margo's disappearance and Quentin's treasure-hunt-of clues I was hooked. John Green does teenage characters well, he has his finger on the pulse of the teenage psyche. Recommended for high school readers, ninth grade and above.

Galactic Hot Dogs 1: Cosmoe's Weiner Getaway by Max Brallier

Yep, you guessed it, another book from my son's reading list. Actually, I found this for him while I was at BookCon earlier this year. It's recommended for readers ages 8-12. It's a fun, entertaining chapter book in a graphic novel style with lot's of boy humor, perfect for reluctant or picky readers. My son enjoyed it immensely - big thumbs up from him.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Hmmmm. This one. Characters are a bit vapid & preoccupied with themselves, and that's exactly what the author was trying to portray, so although it took awhile for me to feel invested in the characters because of that, I did feel invested by the end. Nice twist at the very end (I won't reveal it here). Quick read. Interesting perspective.

Currently Reading:

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

80/20 Sales & Marketing by Perry Marshall

The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book Events - Picture Diary


This is what the bookstore line looked like first thing in the morning. 

It gives me hope that all of these people are in line to buy books. Wow. One day soon I hope people will line up for my books. Squeeeee! So exciting!

My bag of goodies started with a bang - swag from Cassandra Clare. Swoon!

Even the pigeons needed water-break at BookCon.

James Dashner and Ridley Pearson

Every seat was full, so many people wanted to hear what these two talented writers had to say. How did I get so lucky to get front row seats?

These guys were a BIG hit!

John Leguizamo was standing just a few inches from me!

Front row again for this amazing panel of veteran writers: Brad Meltzer, James Patterson, Nelson DeMille, & Michael Koryta.

Brad Meltzer signed my copy of The Zero Game - such a down-to-earth, nice guy. 

I got to meet Judy Blume. Judy Blume! What an honor. 

Here are the treasures from #BookCon...what a haul!

Signed books!

Books NJ

Just the Facts: Research for Compelling Prose panel

I Am Woman - Creating Strong Female Characters panel. 

Lev Golinkin, author of A Backpack, A Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka. 

Kody Keplinger speaking about her writing experiences, her books, and overcoming obstacles. 

Maria Laurino

Kody Keplinger autographed my ARC copy of The D.U.F.F.

I found a new author and a new read at the event. I'm looking forward to delving into this story.

...and Yvette Ventresca signed my copy of Pandemic. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Morning, Comtemplating Life

As each year passes, I hear more and more of my friends passing away, and even more with serious illnesses. It’s an ever-increasing reminder of the fragility of our lives, and the impending “end” that we all must face. Sometimes I find myself thinking about my age and where that is on the average life-expectancy scale. Does anyone else do that? I think it’s me taking stock in how much time has passed and how much I hope is still remaining. It’s also a swift kick in the ass to break-out of the monotony of daily rituals and try new things, plan trips, and do something wild and crazy.

This age brings wisdom, but also a restlessness to move toward goals. There’s so much I want to do, but money and time are barriers to many of those things, and the daily schedule is overtaken with working to make the money just to maintain the “things” in life. If only we could win the lottery, right?

So as I sit here on this Sunday morning, contemplating life, I wish all of you – my friends & family, writing buddies, and all-around good people, a life well-lived. I remind myself to enjoy each day, each moment, to never miss an opportunity to tell my family I love them; to not dwell on running late in the morning, or the dinner that didn’t turn out perfect, demanding co-workers, or the child’s homework assignment that didn’t get turned-in. It’s important to be aware of these things, but not to prioritize them. I hope today is a day to step back and just enjoy the day, enjoy each other, enjoy some quiet time to appreciate all the good.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Baby is Leaving the Nest

My non-fiction manuscript is ready for submission, woo-hoo! - my baby is ready to be introduced to the world. It's a scary and exciting point for sure. I know it's ready, both the manuscript and the marketing plan, and I am anxious to see it picked up and moved along to the next stage, but at the same time I'm nervous about letting it go and what comes next.

Here's the working cover as it stands.

And here's a quick synopsis:

Disaster Preparedness for Everyday People is an easy-to-follow guidebook for basic disaster preparedness, a go-to guide for traditional readiness solutions and creative ideas for budget-conscious & time-conscious readers. 

The book contains:
·         Solid disaster preparedness strategies & solutions from respected organizations
·         Step-by-step processes to design a disaster plan customized for individuals & families
·         Tips to prepare within budget, space, & time constraints
·         Examples of disasters from all fifty United States and places all over the world

Disaster Preparedness for Everyday People is more than just a prepping book, it’s also the story of Hurricane Sandy - what I saw & how it affected my community, and what that experience taught me about preparing for disasters. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Comic Con NYC 2014 - An Overview in Pictures

Comic Con NYC 2014 - An Overview in Pictures

ComicCon excitement started in the days leading up to ticket sales. I was hoping I'd be one of the lucky ones that was able to secure tickets; I was a Comic Con newbie after all and with all the talk on social media about how hard it was to get tickets, I was worried. The day tickets went on sale, I was on the website five minutes before sales started, and tried to secure tickets the second the clock moved into the active sales window. It took almost 10 minutes of getting bumped before I got on the wait list, and then another 40 minutes on hold in the sales queue (fingers crossed that I wouldn't get bumped from here) before I finally got to checkout with tickets in hand. Success!

Then the tickets came in the mail in September. 

And then it was finally time for ComicCon, and can I say it was all worth it - what a blast! Being a ComicCon newbie meant I missed the panels because they were booked before I made the lines, and I didn't even get down to the autograph area (my feet were begging for a break by the end of the day), and still I had a great time. So, I wanted to share a few pictures from my day at ComicCon, share with you a small peek into what I saw. 

Welcome to the One And Only New York ComicCon 2014

The Official NYCC brochure

Transformers in the house!

Binge-watching Breaking Bad so this display caught my eye.

The cosplay did not disappoint - there were some great costumes on display.

Gandalf in the house!

And we even caught up with some wrestlers (my son's favorite part of the day).

*All Pictures copyright Michelle Reynoso 2014 - cannot be reproduced without written permission