Slash Record (Category: Book Subtitles)

I just stumbled on this little gem, which so far holds the record of slash usage in a book subtitle:

I, California: the Occasional History of a Child Actress/Tap Dancer/Record Store Clerk/Thai Waitress/Playboy Reject/Nightclub Booker/Daily Show Correspondent/Sex . . . Character/and Whatever Else.

If the slashes have piqued your interest, you can learn more about Stacey Grenrock Woods’ new book in this post at Mediabistro’s Galleycat.

Bet you never thought you’d see girlie photos on the Heymarci blog.

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Farmer/Writers – A new breed of slash

Yesterday’s New York Times had a great story (by Dana Bowen) on a new breed of slash: farmer/writers. And it had a killer headline “Old Macdonald Now Has A Book Contract.” The story begins with John Peterson, a farmer in Illinois, who spends the winter in Mexico writing:

Over the years he has written plays, short stories, a cookbook and a newsletter he sends to his customers. While his sideline may seem unusual, it places Mr. Peterson smack in the middle of an emerging literary movement: farmers who write. Read more.


Denver wrap-up

I’ve just spent a few days in Denver, where I’m happy to report that the low humidity does wonders for those of us prone to the hair frizzies. In other news, Denver was also home to a some very slash-receptive audiences and even a spot on local tv, so that’s always nice.

Here’s the link to my appearance on the Denver morning news.
(I’m told this will expire in 30 days so please watch soon!)

On Wednesday, Carol Ross, a career coach who specializes in Boundary Crossers, interviewed me for the Northwestern University Alumni Club. Carol’s work is very innovative and she has an excellent blog worth a visit. And last night, I organized a salon called “The Secret Lives of Writers” through the Lighthouse Writers Workshop, which is hosting a great two-week LitFest. If you’re anywhere near Denver and interested in writing, get yourself over to the Lighthouse site and sign up for some workshops and panels. More information on that here.

The New York Law Journal covered my book today in this article, “Lawyers Find Bliss in Pursuing Alternate Careers” (not sure if the registration will let you in, but if it doesn’t, I’ll see if I can post it to my website.) This is shaping up to a pretty perfect Friday! I’m now turning off the computer and getting ready for a walk in Washington park with my old friend Jen before hopping on the plane.

** Carol Ross also blogged about her interview with me. You can read it here.


"Slash" Has a Secret Life. Who Knew?

Certainly not me. But that’s because I’ve never heard of “Fanfiction,” a literary subgenre in which sci-fi fans transport the plot and characters of their favorite narratives and infuse them with new lives… and new sexual orientations. I heard about this today twice while visiting a NYC high school where I was giving a talk to the graduating class. First, when I mentioned my book’s subject to another guest speaker, who happened to be a publisher of mystery writers (and married to a sci-fi fan) — and then when a student came up to me after my book talk to break the news that I might want to think twice about giving a “slash talk” at a sci-fi convention.

Disinformation provides this quickie backgrounder on the kind of slashing.

‘They’ call it slash. It evolved out of the fandom for the original Star Trek series, when some fans – mostly straight women – thought they saw gay subtext between Kirk and Spock that the show could never actually portray.

Some thirty years later, slash has expanded until there is a slash fandom for almost every science fiction series you can think of, and many non-SF ones as well. There is slash based on the characters in books or movies, or highly obscure shows, often called rareslash. There is slash based on real people, always a controversial topic, such as band members or famous actors. And, of course, the popular television series slashers are still going strong.

The word slash comes from the ‘/’ used between the initials of each character, in what is called the pairing. K/S – Kirk-slash-Spock. Most of the pairings involve two men sexually or romantically involved, but female pairings are also out there. Most of the stories continue to be written by straight women. Slash is, within the generally somewhat homophobic and male-oriented SF community, a major women’s community. Lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men also write it, and you can even find a few straight men.

And I thought I just had to worry about the Brits. (Thanks to blogger Pascal Venier, I know what it means when a “guy” on the other side of the pond, “takes a slash.”)


Weekend Entrepreneurs

This week I’m at the Jersey Shore where I did a book event organized by my mother (who I should have officially hired to help with my book’s promotion, but that’s another blog post.) Since I’m staying in the parental home, I’m thinking a lot about my dad, who passed away about 15 years ago, and who is responsible for a lot of the life and career choices I’ve made. My dad showed me the importance of fitting your career plans into a greater scheme for the life you want to live.

When my father had a career change in the 1970s, leaving the hair salon he owned in Brooklyn to buy a motel/marina on the Jersey Shore, people thought he was courageous. And a little crazy. He had a thriving business, yet was ready to toss it aside for a pipe dream.

My mother’s rich uncle owned a hotel on the beach in Miami, and that hotel is where we went on our occasional family vacations. Uncle Benny and aunt Helen lived above the hotel in a sprawling penthouse apartment, and Benny was a gadfly about town (and later, literally its mayor). He worked in shorts and took a swim each morning in the pool after his walk on the beach. My dad wanted Uncle Benny’s life.

Being a fairly persuasive guy (who always had good business instincts), my dad convinced my mother to abandon her dream of becoming a suburban housewife to join him in building what she liked to refer to as “his” dream.

Rather than moving into a penthouse above a hotel though, my parents, my brother and I (along with the family dog) settled into an efficiency apartment at The Trade Winds Motel and Marina in Sea Bright, NJ. We lived in that one-room apartment for several months until my parents were ready to give up some income and move us into an apartment above the motel. That apartment was a huge upgrade, but even though it was at the top of the building (2 floors, no elevator), it didn’t feel like much of a penthouse. Still, we had views of the bay and the 100 boat slips where our customers docked their boats. The dream was beginning.

For the first six-months or a year, my dad commuted back to Brooklyn where he continued to cut hair for his customers in the salon. He wanted to build up some security before he severed ties completely. He was a weekend entrepreneur.

In my writing travels, I am meeting increasing numbers of folks like my dad with “businesses on the side.” And I just discovered a blog written by Michelle Anton, completely dedicated to this popular breed of slash. This particular post is loaded with smart tips about building a business on the side. Anton also wrote a book, Weekend Entrepreneur, which you might want to check out.


Outing your slashes — Let’s talk about it.

As I go around speaking about the slash way of life, one theme that repeatedly dominates the conversation is whether, when and how to reveal your various identities. Of course, with any complex question, the answer is, “It depends.” Generally I find that people are more comfortable when they can be open about their various identities. The easiest cases are when one slash fuels the other — for me, writing and coaching other writers works that way. But when slashes have the potential to clash — like when you’ve got a corporate job and you’re starting your own business on the side, it’s a more delicate dance.

I am working on a longer article on this subject and want to hear your thoughts about openness and transparency in a slash life. I’m looking for examples of when it’s been helpful and when it’s been a disaster. I’m also looking for innovative approaches to bios/websites/blogs/business cards that reveal multiple identities. Send them my way and I’ll probably blog about them.

Malcolm Gladwell, one of the most well respected journalists around, does a great job of explaining how he is both a legitimate journalist and a highly paid public speaker on his


The "Slash" Ad/Obituary/Memorial

I see them all the time. References to spectacular lives, done as a string of words — either nouns or adjectives. Lately, they’ve been showing up a lot in advertisements for financial services firms, aimed at showing the consumer that our money manager sees “all sides” of us.

Yesterday, the Jackie Robinson Foundation ran one as a memorial to the barrier-breaking ball-player on the 60th anniversary of his first Major League game.

It read:



Though the copywriter chose commas here, slashes would have served the same purpose. Clearly, the new way of recording a well-lived life is to describe it with a string of slashes.


The Confidence to Reveal Your Ideas

New freelance writers always worry whether someone will steal their ideas.
Whenever the question of how to protect against idea theft comes up in a class or a workshop, I always say some variation of this:

So what if someone steals your idea. If you couldn’t execute it better than anyone else, someone else should write it. And if you are really the best person to write it, you’ll still be able to write it. That’s why I loved this description (from The New York Times, Tuesday, April 3) of surgeon/author Atul Gawande’s sharing a bunch of his ideas for future writings with a reporter:

Pulling out his Blackberry, he said, “It seems like there’s a story in every nook and cranny of medicine,” and scrolling down a list of 106 ideas he’d saved, he picked a few. “Itching,” he said. “Nobody really understands what it is. Chernobyl. Twenty years on, what really happened there? Why weren’t there as many cancer case as once predicted? And here’s a good one: why, if we have so many health-policy experts in this country, do we have such bad health policy?”

Btw, I tried to interview Gawande for my book. He politely declined, saying that his slashes were just keeping him too busy.


Day Job Seeking Artist

D.E. Shaws wins my prize for employer actively seeking “slashes.” No need to be in the closet about your other life when the classified ad is titled “Day Job Seeks Artist.”

Here’s the ad:

Day Job Seeks Artists Posted Mar 23
D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P., New York, NY

The D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology development firm, seeks a meticulous, intelligent, and extremely skilled MS Office power-user to help update and format a wide range of paper and online documents using preexisting templates. The successful candidate will be a capable project organizer with an obsessive concern for detail. Master instructor-level knowledge of Office, including in-depth fluency with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint formatting functions, is a prerequisite. Proofreading skills are a strong plus. Basic knowledge of HTML and/or Quark is a plus, but if the successful candidate lacks knowledge in those areas, we will train him or her. No financial-industry experience required. The firm offers full benefits and a friendly, jeans-and-sneakers working environment. “Other agenda” candidates welcome. Please send resume and cover letter including standardized test scores, broken down when applicable, to

Members of the D. E. Shaw group do not discriminate in employment matters on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, military service eligibility, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, or any other protected class.

Here’s the original — I found it on


Slash Careers as Works In Progress

Last week I moderated a panel discussion with some of the book’s subjects at McNally Robinson bookstore. I have a thing for panel discussions (talk show host aspirations), so I decided to liven up the book tour by including some panel discussions as a way to bring the book’s pages to life.

Slash lives are never static, and two of the panelists illustrated that. Oscar Smith, the cop/gym owner-personal trainer, had a big change in his police life since his book interview. When I first interviewed Oscar, he worked under cover in the narcotics unit. Recently, he joined an elite unit of the force called the “scuba rescue” team, which employs a fleet of specially trained cops to go on diving missions around the waters of New York. Oscar enjoyed the narc beat, but the cool thing about this new gig is that it brings some of his other slashes into his police work. He’s been a lifeguard for years, so the sea and rescue work are in his blood. His new role is also more physical than many police jobs, which would have him sitting at a desk or driving around in a patrol car. This makes a lot of sense for a fitness guru.

Nina Fine, the actress-singer/real estate investor, is now pregnant and reassessing just how many things she’ll be able to juggle as a new mom. Already, her performing career is more focused on singing than acting. Fine is basd in New York City, but her real estate life is mostly in her prior home of Philadelphia, where she manages a few rental properties, and Hudson, NY, where she and her boyfriend have a second home. I’m wondering whether she’ll make any changes to the real estate part of her life once that baby baby arrives.

And now something new for me — I’m finally posting photos to this blog! Oscar is the guy in the helicopter.


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