Category Archives: Publishing

The Arborist

What am I?

A writer?

An arborist?

Sometimes it’s hard to sort out. A year ago I “took a break” from books and publishing (my literary agent’s words) and jumped into the world of trees. Since then, something in my chest seizes up when a person introduces me as a novelist, or when I’m called upon to speak about my works of history before an audience, or when somebody says to me at a party, “What do you do Oh, you’re a writer?” I feel like protesting, No, no, no, I’m an arborist. Don’t you get it?

My days have been filled with exotic new things. With learning. About what lies under our feet when we blithely course down the sidewalk, for example how something I’ve always taken for granted, like a curbstone, is shaped.

curb.JPGLike a bowling alley gutter, sort of.

I’ve learned about the crucial importance of a uniform.


About the delicate beauty of tough New York City trees, like this lithe young lopsided linden.

little linden.JPG

The love of guardian lions throughout the five boroughs.


The imaginary people I was always ensconced with at my computer have been replaced by real people in real time. Like smart and genteel Roland, a Filipino with a Chinese great grandfather, who is the senior inspector for the city on my current job. He’s got seven kids, and he instructed me on how to make a flavorful porgie soup.


At the same time, as I thump my chest and proclaim myself an arborist, something in me wants to tell the people who know me in this role that I am a writer, thank you very much. I want to blurt out, I’m a writer, actually. I relish the response. Oh really, what do you write? Are your works published? Can I find you on Amazon? It’s a skin I am sometimes happy to slip into. Again.

And here I am, writing about trees, about living, about writing, in this blog. I feel the faint percolation of something inside, not quite a book idea, but thinking about thinking about a book idea.

I’m not sure what it would consist of, but maybe some of these things. It could tell of losing faith in writing and publishing, losing an idea of myself, only to rediscover the world and my self as an arborist. It would be about grand old trees, and street trees, and leaves and seeds and stems. The gnarled, venerable roots of things. My own roots. Yes, and it might feature that recipe for porgie soup as well. The title comes so naturally: The Arborist .


Filed under Arborist, Cooking, Culture, Fiction, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, New York City, Photography, Publishing, Trees, Writers, Writing

A Snow Day for Books

Looking out from my desk over the sleeping swamp, the filagree of snow on reeds, globs of it hanging off the magnolia tree.

snow window.JPG

I’m off of both jobs today and have the luxury of nothing to do but laundry and cooking and dishes. Oh yes, and writing book reviews. NPR Books is the loveliest employer because it lets me self assign and my editor is no slouch. I have a stack of seven books awaiting me on the coffee table, lined up for spring. I’ve gotten a kick out of the Clothing Store and I love being out on the streets with the trees, but literature is my heart.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arborist, Culture, Fiction, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Publishing, Trees, Writers, Writing


Working in The Somewhat Fancy Ladies’ Clothing Store can be tedious. I fold sweaters. Process returns, a mental challenge that is only getting slightly easier. Size the merchandise, meaning make sure the clothes go in the proper order on the rack. Take outfits off mannequins. Put outfits on mannequins. Wait for customers. Where are the customers? The mall is dead today. Adults are absent, home shovelling. The teenagers are all here, of course, haunting American Apparel and tussling. They would never come in to our store, which sells to ladies of a certain age. Mature. Silverhaired. Tasteful. Kind of like me.


The glass doors shut at night and I become the low woman on the totem pole. The manager closes out the books. Someone has to clean the store. That someone is moi. 9:00 at night, my toes pinch me, I’m swiffering the length of the floorboards. It’s not surprising the amount of lint to be picked up, but somehow I’m surprised that the job falls to Jean Zimmerman.

I always think of the portrait Barbara Ehrenreich drew of her experience with a cleaning company, examining the minute and disgusting structure of dust castles under the furniture. When I was sixteen I farmed myself out as a housekeeper one day a week to neighbors, but ran in horror when I realized I had to clean their toilet bowls.

Now here I am. Me, the successful writer, whose fingers usually only touch a keyboard or a Uniball pen, wiping up the dust kicked up by customers. I write books, does anybody know that?! Of course I swiffer in my own home, but there is something different about cleaning up after strangers at the store. Now comes the vacuuming of the dressing rooms, crouching to pick up the detritus women leave behind – hair pins, clothing tags, bits of paper. Shoppers can bomb a dressing room in 10 minutes flat, explode the clothing inside out and every which way, after which I have to restore order.

This is honest work, I tell myself. Someone has to do it. Someone has to empty the garbage pails. My old feet hurt. Putting in new plastic trash bags. Can I go home now? My television and beer await me. My youngish manager counts the cash and calmly takes a look over at silverhaired, stooping me. Her menial days are past. Mine have just begun.

I wanted this job. I wanted a brainless break from writing, to make a buck or two, before tree season kicks in. I didn’t count on making the classy, intellectual person I thought I was into a maid.


Filed under Arborist, Clothing, Culture, Fashion, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Publishing, Trees, Writers, Writing

Skipping History

A girl I knew in college used to tell me she had a crush on the subject of Anthropology, in which she had taken so many wonderful courses. She like to say she was having an affair with Anthro, until she came to her senses and settled down with Economics as her major.

I know what she meant. I feel as though I fell in love with history early in my writing career, that it was exciting and wild and soulful, everything I wanted in a subject. (It never disrupted my marriage, however.) As I continued to write, I got deeper into history – I never jumped to economics! – with forays into different periods, especially colonial New York and Gilded Age Manhattan. I was thinking about how the lure of the past grabbed me when I re-shelved some of my research books the other day. I came across a thick, illustrated book about the world of historic textiles, then a compilation of maps dating back to when New York wasn’t yet New York. And I felt a thrill about being connected to all the lives led in the past and being able to access meaning through calico and vellum… yes, and pot shards and iron nails and beaver pelts and all the material goods you get to commune with as a historian.

Now, however, I am discovering the sometimes jarring beauty of something else – How We Live Now (a literary reference, to Anthony Trollope’s most famous novel). Working as a seasonal sales associate in The Somewhat Fancy Ladies’ Clothing Store in the mall has brought me up close to retail, and retail is unremittingly of the present. Especially the glimpse of the fluorescent, perfumed corridors in the moments after the stores close, when each storefront is a goldfish bowl that shows the private lives of the people who work there. When the doors are locked, I walk past the Godiva store, where two young men dunk strawberries for themselves into the milk chocolate goo that is usually reserved for the paying customers. I’m fatigued, my feet are sore from pacing the floor and rehanging merchandise, but I can’t help but be struck by relationships between these and other sales associates, like me, with the imagined David Mamet flavor of their interactions. At Ann Taylor, a shoplady sullenly pushes her swiffer around the linoleum. Behind the Apple façade, kids in red logo’d polos bob like maraschino cherries around the Ipads and watches, laughing and loose after their hours serving patrons. I feel wide awake, taking it all in.


But in the morning, before the stores open, I also get an infusion of non-historic pleasure. Of course we have mall walkers, a sizable number of them, in pairs and threes and fours, deep in conversation as they motor past my store before it opens. I am constantly amused, though, by the gaggle of about a dozen young mothers with strollers, exaggeratingly skipping as they push their babies, all in a line. This, my friends, is today, when legging-attired women drive themselves to be their best first thing in the morning, burning calories as they go, only to consume those same calories with their venti soy lattes at the Starbucks around the corner, the one that is just getting ready to open its doors. You don’t need a history book to appreciate that scenario.

1 Comment

Filed under Clothing, Culture, Fashion, History, Jean Zimmerman, New York City, Publishing, Writers, Writing

The Proper Way to Fold a Sweater

An arborist in winter can’t hibernate, even though it won’t be time to plant or nurture trees until the ground thaws in March. An arborist has got to make a living. And that’s how I wound up as a seasonal sales associate in a Somewhat Fancy Ladies’ Clothing Store in the local mall. I don’t think you could be farther from a grove of cedars than abiding in the canned air, holiday muzak and piles of goods for sale where I find myself day after day.


The Zen concept of “beginner’s mind” applies here. If you approach everything with the earnestness of a novice, the world opens itself to you. I’m still so excited to put aside my decades long writerly habit, profession, vocation, avocation, love, and be out in the world. I’m thrilled to learn the proper way of folding a sweater (hint: there’s a special tool for the purpose). Weirdly, I feel that my long years speaking to groups about my books has prepared me to greet customers as they come in the door, looking for a different kind of knowledge, seeking to learn how they can look the best they can. A different kind of selling. What could be closer to the bone? It’s actually an honor to be consulted as I was today by a woman around my age about whether the lavender or grape turtleneck was a better complement to her features. These are the issues of my day, so simple.


Is there shame in it, embarrassment at having descended from the lofty heights of authordom to become a shopgirl — or a shopwoman, as you must say about one of my maturity. The truth is there is no shame in any employment, since there are so many lacking jobs. Many of the women I work with have teenaged kids and no men in their lives, an interesting hardscrabble milieu. I remember when I interviewed Navy jet jocks many years ago they all talked about how valuable it was to be humbled, say by the complexity of the F-14 they flew, and they were some of the most arrogant people in the world. So I guess I’ll take a leaf from them and say that treading the boutique floor is a healthy kind of normal for me, a down to earth slap upside the head for one who has spent a lot of time with that head in the clouds.

So the mannequins and the silk and the glitter of the Somewhat Fancy Ladies’ Clothing Store are my grove of trees for now. I go home more tired than I did after eight hours as an arborist, even though I’m working half days. My mind races when I try to sleep at night, seeing corduroy jeans and good wool jackets doing do-si-dos. It’s a form of truth worth being a part of, peoples’ desire to be beautiful. The leaves and branches and bark will be there in the springtime.

hand tree


Filed under Arborist, Culture, Fashion, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Publishing, Trees, Writers, Writing

13 Stolen Girls

There’s a faint possibility I might be biased, but my husband Gil Reavill’s crime novels have just been getting better and better. His first one, 13 Hollywood Apes, from Random House/Alibi, was nominated for a Thriller Award by the International Thriller Writers group. Readers are calling his second, 13 Stolen Girls, “one of my favorite suspense novels for this year” and testifying that “when a book makes you yell ‘Oh-my-God’ out loud and get weird stares from complete strangers, you know it’s good!”

13 stolen

If you’re a thriller-mystery reader, Gil Reavill’s “13” series is a serious treat. He has drawn a feisty, soulful detective, Layla Remington, which I think will lead to a new adjective: “Remington-esque.” Gil just turned in the next installment, 13 Under the Wire, which comes out in January. When readers ask him, “What’s with the thirteen business?” he always answers, “That’s my daily page count,” and is not far off the mark. The man is a demon writer. 13 Stolen Girls is available here.

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Fiction, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Publishing, Writers, Writing

Found Wanting

Here is what I don’t miss about living the life of a writer, the life I lived for 25 years of adulthood. I realized recently that even when I was happy and fulfilled, publishing my work, novels and nonfiction, I was continually in a state of wanting.

I wanted to write a good sentence.

… wanted to write a good paragraph.

…wanted … a page, a chapter, a book.

I wanted a jackpot, to win the lottery of book advances, to have publishers wrangle over my work.

I wanted my editor to pay attention to me .

… wanted him to love my book.

… wanted my publishing company to go all in on it, devote thought and resources to promoting it. I wanted to punish them when they didn’t: want, want, want.

Oh, you’re a writer, people always said. And it was fantastic to be that creature, a writer. Except when it wasn’t.

I wanted to see my book in the world.

I wanted to see the cover in a bookstore window.

I wanted readers.

… wanted readers to love my book.

… wanted readers to talk about my book, to talk to me about my book.

I wanted to talk about my book.

… wanted to talk to readers about me.

… wanted to talk in front of audiences.

… wanted to hear applause.

I wanted my book to be reviewed.

… reviewed in The New York Times.

…(USA Today would be okay.)

…I wanted notices in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal.

…I wanted those reviews to be starred.

…I wanted people to read the reviews and buy my book.

I wanted my peers to read my book.

I wanted people to see me in my book.

Oddly enough, I got all these things, just not enough. Could it ever be enough?

When I decided to take a hiatus from publishing I freed myself from all the wants. I didn’t know it would happen, that I would become an arborist, just that I needed a job and loved the idea of saving trees.

fall leaves

Wants are painful, even if you get what you want some of the time. You know the jewel-toned leaves on the forest floor, dreams right in front of you? You can touch them, but you can’t possibly collect them all. I was always caught up in the desire, and the reality invariably fell short. Gautama Buddha: Desire is the cause of all evil.

What do I want now that my work is so different? I want to be wantless. What’s right in front of me every day: a strong cup of coffee. A restroom near the site. Clear weather. Protecting a root. Seven hours of sleep. The foreman smiling at me, chewing his cigar. (He doesn’t know I’m a writer, and couldn’t care.) Not having to endure too much of a logjam on the drive back home. And again, saving a root. Simple.

Saving a root, I am saving myself.


Filed under Arborist, Fiction, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, New York City, Publishing, Writers, Writing

LinkedIn and Out

Once upon a time I had a job. It was actually a sequence of jobs – as a women’s magazine editorial assistant, then as a writer/researcher for an arts impresario, then an editorial director for a not-for-profit that advanced women’s careers. I was in my 20s. Working as the assistant to the health and horoscopes editor at Family Circle was pretty entertaining.

When I left the editorial life to become an author, though, I felt elated.

Years later, when I decided to take a hiatus from writing books, I hooked up with a career coach at my alma mater. What can I do? I asked her. I needed to work. I used to go into Manhattan once in a while to meet with her, and she would tell me that I hadn’t failed at  my chosen metier, that I simply had to switch from one field to a related one using my fine-turned authorial skills. When she said switch, she would hold her hands in front of her and raise and move them to the side as though she were lifting something light to a place it better belonged .


better hands

How does someone who has written books for 25 years switch from one field to a related one? Reenter a work force where everyone is a teenager and has the computer skills of a genie and the moxie of a shark? I subscribed to adverts on I sleuthed around cultural nonprofits to find a fit. Try and try, I couldn’t shake the fact that I was essentially a book author. I had speaking skills though, and I liked being outdoors, so I applied to work the sea lion exhibit at the Central Park Zoo. No deal.

The thing my career coach advocated most vehemently was that I get involved with LinkedIn, a site that I’d always regarded with bafflement. What was it for, anyway? Why did everyone want to connect with me all the time? Now I prettied up a resume to sound cheerful and proficient and started cold calling LinkedIn contacts. I felt like I was plastered with one of those dorky tags people wear at conventions.


hello my name isI got some interviews. During one, after swallowing a cold pill, I got such bad cotton mouth that I had to excuse myself to go find a water fountain. Didn’t get the job. I didn’t get the job as writing center director, writing teacher, social media content writer. Everyone knows that sending c.v.’s is not how you get a job. So I returned again to LinkedIn. Would the director of the Intrepid Museum, the contact of a contact, have any ideas about how I could find work? No? So sorry.

Then it dawned on me. I didn’t want a deskbound, social media-obsessed editorial 9-5 any more than companies wanted a silver-haired overqualified author who spent a lot of time inside her head. I contacted the owner of a small company that had something to do with trees.


tree cross section

Trees. That was novel. Those leafy giants that swayed along the highway? When I was a kid, I remembered, I used to build houses out of acorn tops and pebbles in the hollow of a tree in my yard. Trees, it occurred to me, were magic. I would move from one end of the supply chain to another, from bound paper books, which ate up trees, to the living air-cleansing shade-providing originators themselves. The raw material of all literature. All I had to do was take a test, and then I would be sprung from my writing coop, out in the air, in Brooklyn, saving trees and watching the trucks go by.





Filed under Arborist, Culture, History, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, New York City, Publishing, Trees, Writers, Writing

Out on My Fanny

Terrific reviews but no sales. Astounding rejection notices. What could be crueler for a writer?

Sadly and swiftly we fell to earth, Fanny and me. I was ready to vault into the next chapter of my life. I was enchanted by my subject and believed that everyone else would be equally enchanted.


But publishing is a peculiar institution, particularly these days. Two dozen editors looked at the proposal for A Dangerous Subject, the book that would take readers on a romp through Jacksonian America and the weirdness of the present day United States as well. (Note I don’t use the word read here, only looked at. How many editors have the time to read everything, actually? It’s a lost art.)


Some of them disliked the subject (“too small”). Many loved it. I remember my agent sharing with me one editor’s response: “omigod!” she wrote, and went on to say she’d had five proposals on her reading stack that night and had thrown them all aside to read about Fanny.

But like I said, publishing is peculiar. At the end of the day, lots of editors relished Fanny but they just couldn’t figure out “a way to publish the book.” In other words, to sell the hell out of it. Me and Fanny were too small to get our chance. And so we fell, like Alice down the rabbit hole, grasping at straws we passed along the way. Mawkish, but still.


And having nursed a novel and a nonfiction idea when neither would end up reaching any readers, after a quarter century in the business of book writing, I had to ask myself: Is that all there is?



Filed under Culture, Jean Zimmerman, Publishing, Writers, Writing

A Silver Bullet

Gil and I thought we would take to the road on the trail of Fanny Trollope’s wanderings across America. My imagination itched to conjure up the Jacksonian past of the juvenile nation, which she wrote about so incisively in Domestic Manners of the Americans. It would be an in-depth look at the landscape Fanny Trollope found when she went among us, using her words as a jumping off point to explore a strange, exciting, transformative period in America.But I wanted to see these places in the present, too. I planned to call my book A Dangerous Subject, which lifted a phrase from Domestic Manners. Trollope employs it to describe the sprawl and spectacle of America, so overwhelming that it can barely be contained in language. The phrase could apply equally to the woman herself, or to any woman who dares to step outside accepted boundaries. As her contemporary Jane Austen wryly noted in Northanger Abbey, a woman “if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”


Fanny always based her criticism in solid observation. I planned for my book to be in part a travelogue assessing the current American landscape. I would talk with all kinds of people, all across the spectrum of beliefs. I wanted to find out what’s really going on in all of the red state cloud-cuckoo lands. But I would settle for taking the temperature of those states on Fanny’s itinerary: Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and New York. I was particularly interested in examining the extensive Southern part of her circuit, as my family’s roots lie in Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee. What Fanny saw there was quite possibly what my great-great-greats were experiencing.


John Steinbeck, when he embarked on the circuit of the United States chronicled in Travels with Charley, rigged up a 1960 GMC truck with a camper for the journey. I thought I would be more rigorous about the truth in my narrative than Steinbeck’s hugely popular though largely fictionalized account. Like Charley. at its heart A Dangerous Subject would be a first-person narrative that attempts “to find out what Americans are like” (as Steinbeck announced his purpose), to portray, as they say about family, “the strangers you happen to be related to.”

If anyone would give me an advance to write it.

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, History, Jean Zimmerman, Publishing, Writing

The Exquisite Realism of Pleats

Hiatus. Mine was a long one, at least in the terms of this daily blog. I took off in the spring to research my new novel, then to write the novel, then to take a break after writing the novel, then putting the novel on the market. Now, with my foot up after a third time under the knife (yes, I have three feet), I’m back.

The daffodils came and went, the waves crashed at the beach, but I feel I’ve been inside these months much more than outside. Inside my cranium. The seasons have changed largely without me, and now along comes Fall.

I don’t work at night. The Cabin resides in a quiet, still, isolated pocket of land at the edge of an insect-buzzing marsh. We’re cloistered in the middle of nowhere. Or at least it feels like that, which is remarkable since we’re less than an hour from the lights of New York City. My point is, there’s not a lot of hubbub around, not a lot of human distractions. So after dinner, with Oliver keeping a lookout out at our feet, we either read or consume a fair dose of high-concept binge fare.

O beseeching

We visit different worlds.

It’s hard to get history right on tv. Often it’s too cheesy to watch, whether because of the dialogue, scenery, fashions or some combination that makes you say, I know it wasn’t like that. And turn it off. Go read some good historical fiction instead!

But I’ve been watching a show that manages to have a little cheese and a fair amount of heart at the same time, along with exquisite attention to detail. The premise is time travel, my favorite subject.The Outlander series takes a young English woman just after World War One (she’s a battlefield nurse) and sends her through a witchy wormhole (actually a Stonehenge-like circle of obelisks) back to 1740s Scotland. Adventures and romance ensue. What interests me is the devotion to detail on the part of the producers, down to the beautiful and so carefully sewn pleats in the wedding gown of the protagonist, Claire. Apparantly they are entirely consistent with the real McCoy. There are plenty of people out there waiting to pounce on you if you don’t do it right, but so far a war hasn’t broken out between the pleats and the pin tucks, so we’re okay.


As a writer of historical fiction, I know that you must constantly make choices about where to nail the absolute fact and when you can fudge. In fact, sometimes you must fudge, because the absolute fact would be unpalatable for contemporary readers. It fascinates me to hear about the choices made by the costume designer for Outlander, Terry Dresbach. (How’s that for a fitting name?)


Filed under Culture, Fashion, Fiction, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Publishing, Writers, Writing

Leafy Air and Cheese

I can breathe again. I took a trip to Michigan and Wisconsin, the Great North Woods, which has leafy air worthy of inhaling.

Also, sweet black cherries worthy of devouring. They sell them, washed, plump and juicy, from little stands at gas stations.


I experienced a hailstorm that hit just as our sailboat anchored in that lovely private lagoon a ways into Lake Superior. Just enough to put every wet person on board in stitches.

I can breathe again because I turned in the manuscript of my new novel and my editor said he likes it. A lot. That’s an outsize sigh of relief. It made me open to everything around me.

I found that lying in bed on the shore of Lake Michigan, I could feel every delicious cotton fiber with my toes.

I saw the sights, hugged family, brought home souvenirs from people who had made them with their hands.


There was rye flour from the farmer who grew it, at Maple Hill Farm in Washburn, Wisconsin.

And fingerless gloves knitted by his wife. She sewed a pad of suede on the palm for good gripping.


The Northland is kind, even its rusty old trucks.


The region loves its fish. Smoked, fried or souped.


It offers a hundred different moccasins.


Thrives on pop (drive-in menu, top right). Known to us North Easterners as soda.


Then, of course, there is the cheese. I tasted a Michigan dairy’s Colby-style specimen, bright orange and moist, that was produced from a 1915 recipe.

Did I mention that my editor liked it? The novel, I mean, not the cheese.


Filed under Cooking, Culture, Fiction, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Knitting, Nature, Publishing, Writers, Writing

Finding Rosebud

I told myself I would have it done by the time the roses bloomed.

soft rose

My new novel, that is.

I do that sometimes, set an arbitrary time of year – not a date, never a date – when I will finish a book. It gives me something to shoot for. When the trees turn red. When the first snow falls. A seasonal moment which my project will match with its completion.

When the roses bloom.

I have been working for some time on a manuscript that shows some signs that it wants to be finished. But I still have chapters to revise before I can call it done. Yet it’s Spring, high rose season.

Just to see where things stood, how far behind I was, I thought I would pay a visit to the lovely grounds of Lyndhurst, the historic site near my house. This was the estate of the robber baron Jay Gould, and the old mansion is grey and gothic and not to my taste, though the huge specimen trees and plantings always astound. There is a fantastic heirloom rose garden there, one that I usually seem to get to too late to enjoy the blooms at their height.

This year the place was nearly deserted, and the circle of plants looked suspiciously green as I approached across the perfect lawn. There were two visiting matrons; one said, You must not miss the yellow blossoms on that bush, they smell like lemon.

yellow roseos

And they did. But the lemon roses were one of only a few shrubs out of dozens there that were actually in bloom. Others offered wicked thorns.


Or buds so tightly sewn up it was hard to imagine them ever opening.


I’ve come across some thorns and some sewn-tight problems in the narrative I’m working on, so I could appreciate them. I wished I could have seen Lyndhurst’s roses, lush, exploded, lemon, yes, but also vanilla, musk and all the other scents that don’t have proper names imagined yet.

More than anything, though, I felt happy. Because the roses had not yet bloomed, and my novel will bloom when they do.


Filed under Fiction, History, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Photography, Publishing, Writers, Writing

Stuck in the Middle of My Novel With You

I have been meaning to write and say that I’m taking a bit of a hiatus from writing this blog — but I guess that’s kind of obvious. Not that I don’t adore posting here, I do. And I have the greatest readers in the world. But I am stuck in the middle of novel-world, and my writing in the fictional format seems to be taking all of my mental energy. I’m telling the story of a teenage girl in Revolutionary-era NYC. She looks a bit like this, as I imagine her.


I have her portrait tacked up to my bulletin board. And now I have to get back to her.

I will still post here from time to time, and pretty soon I’ll dive back in to the real world, and my real blog, every day.


Filed under Art, Culture, Fiction, History, Jean Zimmerman, Publishing, Writers, Writing

High-Energy Serendipities

At the National Arts Club the other night, before I gave my presentation, a very nice photographer named Bruce Allan took me by the hand and led me around from one atmospheric spot to the other to get just the right portrait of me.

JZ Light

Then, as I went on and on (as I often do) talking about Savage Girl and historical fiction and New York City, showing remarkable pictures of Manhattan during the Gilded Age, Bruce captured me again.

JZ talking

He also caught the musicians Henry Chapin (fiddle) and Mark Ettinger (accordion) playing music of the era. So infectious was their performance, they got people who were there only to listen up on their feet to dance. “I danced a reel!” one friend enthused afterward.


All in all, a high-energy event, filled with serendipities.


Filed under Culture, Dance, Fiction, Jean Zimmerman, Music, Photography, Publishing, Savage Girl, Writers, Writing