As the World Turns

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I almost have to laugh … there conyinue to be so many highs and lows, our lives playing out like a soap opera; filled with glamour, drama, tragedy and triumph.

Shortly after my Make-A-Wish blog entry posted, I was contacted by the Foundation. Someone had shared it with the board of directors and President of Make-A-Wish. Lulu was made the featured wish child, and they used part of the entry and pictures on their site. I soon received another call asking if I would be comfortable speaking at a fundraiser at the yacht club (I told you, GLAMA!). Of course I lied and said yes, knowing I would be very UNcomfortable beforehand, but fine once I hit the stage. Jimmy and the kids have also gotten used to these events, and I suggested we all go up together.

Lulu was unexpectedly crabby that day, and I got a phone call from her teacher letting me know Lulu was really tired and a little warm. I picked her up immediately, so grateful to be working at a nearby c’office. I got her home, laid her on the couch and wondered what we would do about the speech that evening. She had been very excited about the event and I had been throwing her a few random questions throughout the week, in preparation for her part. She perked up and was determined to participate, grabbing her rainbow piñata to bring along … somehow grasping exactly what was expected from her.

Jimmy and I volleyed the highlights of the wish trip. The kids stole the show as usual, Max with his old-soul eloquence and charm, speaking with his hands in the most natural way. Lulu chimed in, sharing excitedly her dolphin encounter, and telling the crowd that she loved Hawaii so much that it felt like she went home. We received a warm standing ovation, and felt so grateful to be able to give back to such a wonderful organization.

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Lulu ended up with a fever that night, unfortunately over that magical 101 degree mark, meaning we had to go to the hospital. This would mark the beginning of more unexpected trips to Children’s, as Lulu battled the recurring flu, and multiple ear infections. The flu is much more serious and harder to treat with kids on chemo since their immune systems are compromised. She’s been on two rounds of strong antibiotics and two rounds of Tamiflu, but her fevers have continued to return.

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Of course, Max got the flu too and I was scheduled for two jobs in NYC, a few days apart. To make matters worse, Jimmy’s dad had an emergency. I’m going to give you a cringe alert here, so skip this paragraph if you’re squeamish. After a routine procedure, he pulled out his own catheter accidentally. YEEEOUCH!!! He went septic and was rushed to the hospital and placed in ICU. It was touch and go for a few days, and the doc said if Jimmy’s sister hadn’t gotten him in immediately, he would not have made it.

I felt helpless in NYC, and it was strange to be the one who was working while Jimmy was dealing with the crises. My dad had happened to be coming through town heading north from Florida, and helped out. I was grateful to be able to bring home some bacon, and it was easier than I would have thought to be distracted by work. Lulu had a reprieve while I was gone, making it more palatable to be away. I was also with one of my favorite crews, people that have become my friends over the years. Lulu had generously given me her favorite bunny to ‘keep me company’ and we all had a blast taking pictures with Purple Bunny.

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I got to see a friend in a Broadway show and was able to meet a couple of college buddies for a drink. One offered me free tickets to another show the next night, and I learned my college was having a reunion while I was there! I couldn’t believe my luck! That was, until … I got the flu. O. M. G. I got SO sick (cringe alert 2). I threw up about 10 times throughout the day, each time sneaking off to a (public, ugh) bathroom, and popping gum in my mouth to continue working. It was awful! My model could not have been sweeter about it. I was so grateful I had an assistant on set, and I would have her watch things as I would disappear to ‘take care of business’ throughout the day. There would be no reunion or show for me, no dinners or shopping, but I was still grateful to be there.

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The studio had a great view of Freedom Tower and on my last day there, the spire was placed atop the building. What an inspiring symbol of resilience, determination and strength. A perfect reminder that it’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up.

I flew back home as Jimmy’s dad ended up back in ICU with breathing problems. I spent Saturday night in the ER with Lulu, who had 104 degree fever (she has bounced back once again, and was back in school yesterday). Jimmy is frantically catching up with a huge edit, and in pre-pro for a major film he’s working on this summer. We have been asked to be the featured family in Make-A-Wish’s Annual campaign. The What If Book will be published soon, proceeds going to the Go Bo Foundation, and our Love for Lulu fund. Oh, and our house has been turned upside down as Jimmy turns our attic into a home office and we get the carpets cleaned!

So, it’s best to laugh at the craziness, and only occasionally break down. We are rolling with the punches, appreciating the highs and getting through the lows, seemingly stronger and prepared by last year, which was spent in an even more dramatic fashion.

And so you have it: These are the days of our lives …

Love,

a.l.l. of us

What if … ?

sA9xZz - Version 2

Hello Friends,

I’m very excited to write to you today. I have a big announcement to make! I am finally sharing my children’s picture book “The What If Book”. I use the word finally, because this Little Book That Could has had quite a journey:

I started taking notes on a someday children’s book while my son was only 3. He inspired me with his relentless ponderings while in the back seat of my car. That age begins an important time for kids to start wondering about the world through their own eyes, and asking a lot of “what if” questions. My tiny notebook sat for a few years in the ‘someday projects’ category until 4 years ago. I sat down, put finger to keyboard and put my own twist on this theme to create The What if Book, a picture book for ages 3-7. It carries the reader through a modern, whimsical journey laced with a simple but powerful message; remember to dream.

Working in the industry of fashion photo shoots and film, I tend to meet a lot of amazing, creative and talented people. One of these people is Carol Curley, an art director I’ve had the privilege to work with for many years. I had seen a bit of Carol’s art here and there, and had the strong intuition that she would be able to bring my book to life in the modern, edgy way I had envisioned. Carol was very excited about the project and began sketching away. Over time, she used the book as a creative outlet, finishing the remainder of the illustrations by sheer will and want. I am SO in love with what she’s created, and feel so lucky to have her on this project.

We were thrilled with what we had accomplished; a finished, fully illustrated book! Lulu and Max loved the book, as did the kids and teachers at the schools and daycares where I tested it. I hit the ground running to find a publisher. I began with my close circle of friends to see who might have a connection. One of my best girlfriends Carrie looked at me, almost cross-eyed, and said, “em … JODI!”. Jodi was an author I had met years ago on a job in NYC and had connected with immediately. I had forgotten she was an author, and had a stronger memory of her wonderful energy. Duh, and she was a famous author. Her name is Jodi Lynn Anderson. I didn’t even know if she would remember me. I took a chance and sent the book to her. She responded that of course she remembered me, and that she really loved the book! I still can’t believe that. If you’ve never read a Jodi Anderson book, do yourself a favor and RUSH out to buy one. She writes in the young adult category, but her writing appeals to a broad range of ages. Tiger Lily is her latest masterpiece: http://www.harperteen.com/books/Tiger-Lily-Jodi-Lynn-Anderson/

Here is a link to her bio and other works: http://www.harperteen.com/author/microsite/about.aspx?authorid=22853

I can’t express how talented, generous, humble, full of wit and grace this woman is! After really getting to know her over the last couple of years, she really has become one of the most inspiring people in my life. I’m so proud to call her my friend. Now, I hope this won’t have people sending her their manuscripts! She did make it clear to me that she doesn’t usually help fledgling authors in this way, but something about my book appealed to her and I’m so grateful.

So … long story longer, Jodi gave me a quote for my query letter, and I sent it off. I received a few form letters back, a few nice responses that went along the lines of “We are only accepting one (or two) new picture books this year, but we really like your book!” I got one tough rejection letter and a co-publishing offer (at 50% profit, I turned it down). The children’s picture book category is the most difficult category to break into these days, especially if you’re not a celebrity: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/08/us/08picture.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

I think I sent about 30-40 letters out and 10-15 copies before Lulu was diagnosed in Fall 2011. And that was the end of that. The book, with all the time and love that went into it, sat on the shelf to collect dust. I thought about the book from time to time, and how the meaning of the book was so perfect for kids like Lulu, who needed a reason to dream, a little something to give them hope and inspiration. I decided that if I ever got the book published, I would use the profits for something related to our ordeal. I decided if (no, WHEN!) the book is printed that the profits would be split between The Go Bo Foundation; in honor of our friends Annika and Bo, and the loving message they continue to put into the world, and Love 4 Lulu; to help with her medical bills and to give to Childhood Cancer Research and support.

Fast forward to last week. On a whim, I attended a seminar suggested by a friend on self-publishing through Kickstarter. I met some wonderful women there who were authors and illustrators. They were so encouraging regarding The What If Book, and one of the most impressive figures there took me aside after, and told me NOT TO GIVE UP. She thought I had something really great, and that it would be published.

Well, meeting those women lit a fire under me, and I started a Facebook page the next day. I was told it is very important to gain a following. The page got 325 likes the first day! Over 400 by day 2, and still growing at 500 on day 3 today! I hope you will ‘like’ and share this page as well by following the link here: http://www.facebook.com/whatifyouaskedwhatif?fref=ts I will post the book’s progress on that page often.

I must give a very special thanks to Carol Curley, who has generously decided to donate all her time and talents in illustrating this book to support our causes. She is a true gem of a human being and thank you doesn’t begin to cover it. But thank you Carol.

It seems like the little-book-that-could, was just waiting for the right time and reason to be introduced … and so it begins.

I must wrap up with a big thank you to Max and Lulu, who keep me believing, dreaming and asking … What if?