And here's my quote:
"Up to now, it's always been the bride's show," says writer Doug Gordon, whose guide, "The Engaged Groom," comes out next month. "The bride wears white and stands out from the crowd, but the groom's in a tux and looks like everyone else, including, in some cases, the waiters who are serving him."
Enjoy the article. I especially liked the story of one overly engaged groom, Lucas Pettinati.
Update 9:12 AM
I just picked up the print edition. Part of my quote is included in a circle in the middle of the article, the typical kind of "burst" that many papers do for features stories. Nice. I noticed one funny thing, although it might not be funny to the groom featured in the photograph at the top of the page and in the lead paragraph. The photo caption identifies him as Lance McGinness but the story text has him as Lance McGregor. It may be that Lance McGinness is such a modern man that he changed his name after he got married, but it's more likely that the photo editor simply made a mistake.
Many thanks to those of you who purchased Taken T-shirts this fall. As promised, I am donating all profits to the Red Cross for disaster relief, a cause which, unfortunately, has only become more necessary since my original plea in September.
Twenty seven people purchased a shirt. Since I get one dollar of profit per shirt that's, well, twenty seven dollars. So here's a new pledge. With one month to go before the end of the year, L and I will match the money raised, essentially doubling whatever money comes in through T-shirt sales.
Thanks for your support!
More press on the book. Just found this link from About.com and their "Weddings Blog."
Just got word from my publicist that a story I was interviewed for will run in tomorrow's New York Daily News. Pick up a copy near you for the bargain price of fifty cents and check it out. I'll post the link tomorrow.
An update to my saga with Stag and Groom: The magazine folded in October.
Although there is probably a market out there for a magazine that caters to grooms, I always felt Stag and Groom's publishing schedule - nine issues in just over a year and a half - was way too ambitious. The biggest American bridal magazines publish a maximum of six times a year, but they are selling to an audience that is already conditioned to buying armloads of wedding magazines within days, or even hours, of an engagement. I've been told that some women who are not engaged or and even some who aren't even in a relationship at all subscribe to Modern Bride or Martha Stewart Weddings! It might have been more realistic to publish S&G four times a year, with one issue for each season.
Still, I don't know why Nick couldn't have told me the truth about what was going on at the magazine, but I do feel sorry for all of the nice people at the magazine who have to find new jobs.
From an ABC News article by Buck Wolf: November and December account for 26 percent of all marriage proposals. The article features a collection of funny (or cringeworthy, depending on your perspective) proposals from eager grooms.
With the Christmas season about to begin - or, considering the number of decorations on the walls and carols being played at department stores right now, already underway - I'm sure you're thinking about one thing and one thing only: what am I going to buy people for Hannukah?
Might I suggest Hannukah Rocks by The LeeVees? It just may be the finest Hannukah album in the history of recorded music.
Admittedly, that's not saying much. I don't know about you but I've never made a dreidel out of clay, so that song doesn't have a lot of relevance to my personal experience of the festival of lights. But I do often wonder, How Do You Spell Channukkahh?"
You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy the album - but, to reference an old SNL commercial parody, it couldn't hurt - as the songs are catchy, clever and well produced. If you do listen to the album over at MySpace, be sure to check out one of my favorites, Goyim Friends.
So, the segment did not run on Fox News as I had reported to you all; it ran on some local Fox affiliates across the country. I'm not sure if it ran in New York City, but we did get a call from L's mom who told us that she saw it on the Chicago Fox station. She told L that I was identified as "Doug Gordon, Author," but that the book's title was not mentioned. Alas. Also interviewed was someone from The Knot.
I did notice that my sales ranking at Amazon has moved up a little bit, so hopefully the segment had some impact and will lead to bigger and better things!
Short Q & A with me at hiscoldfeet.com, a website started by a relationship counselor that deals with women in relationships with men who won't necessarily commit to much more than the status quo. The interview was very informal and done over email. Enjoy.
By now, there can't be a person on the planet who hasn't received some variation of the Nigerian bank scam.
This shining example arrived in my inbox today and I noticed one glaring inconsistency that the scammer might want to clear up if she is going to dupe people out of their hard-earned money:
I do hope that you are catching up with the goodies of the day in full. Mine here is very hot and like you know we are living in the refugee camp here in Dakar Senegal.
Its just like one staying in the prison and i hope by Gods grace i will come out here soon. As a refugee here i don't have any right or privilege to any thing be it money or whatever because it is against the law of this country. Please listen to this, i have my late father's statement of account and death certificate here with me which i will send to you latter, because when he was alive he deposited some amount of money which he used my name as the next of kin,the amount in question is $3.5M(Three Million five Hundred Thousand Dollars).
So i will like you to help me transfer this money to your account and from it you can send some money for me to get my travelling documents and air ticket to come over to meet with you. Reply me this email and I will give further details.
While I would never respond to an email like this, I do find it curious that in a hot, prison-like refugee camp where no one has any rights, Internet access is apparently as easy to come by as cholera.
The blogger-to-author trend continues.
It is truly amazing how much blogging has blown open the doors to agencies and publishing houses. I never would have gotten a book deal without this blog, which provided some content and, in a sense, market research.
Advice to anyone with a thick manuscript and but a pile of rejection letters to match: start serializing your novel online, but in the present tense as blog posts.
Set your TiVos. The word on the street is that my interview with the Fox News Channel will air on Saturday or Sunday sometime between seven and eight PM. Sorry I can't be more specific, but as soon as I have more info I'll let you know.
For those of you wondering what I said at the end of my interview on Fox, I have some bad news for you. I said nothing.
This interview was done talking-head style, not across a desk or face-to-face with a host. The producer of the piece, a nice young woman named Melanie, asked me questions as I sat up on a chair above the newsroom and will edit my responses together for a larger piece on wedding planning. Since she was simply trying to get a variety of answers from me on a number of wedding-related topics, we jumped around a bit. After one final question and answer, Melanie looked at me and said, "Okay, we're done." I got down from the chair and thanked her for having me on, but my response was not part of the interview and will not be included in her final piece.
Initially I had been very nervous about the interview, my first for TV about the book. You all know that I had some concerns about what I would wear. I chose a grey Banana Republic sports coat over a blue button down shirt from Barneys. (Warehouse sale, people. Please. I'd shop at the real store if I could, but I like paying rent and being able to eat.)
Before the interview began, Melanie clipped a mic on my lapel and then asked me to count to ten. "Out loud?" I asked, thinking that she could tell how nervous I was and wanted me to count as a Zen-like way of calming myself for the interview. When a news producer sitting at a nearby desk chuckled, I realized my mistake. Of course she wanted me to count out loud. She needed to do a sound check.
But once the interview began, I wound up feeling very comfortable. Melanie fed me questions and I answered right back, staring at her the entire time. It's a tad strange, staring at one person for ten minutes straight as you talk to her, as it's not something one usually does in normal human interaction. But I did get used to it and resisted the urge to look at myself in the monitor; I've been told that stealing quick glimpses of yourself can make you seem shifty-eyed. I got off a few talking points and funny lines from the book and could tell by Melanie's facial expressions when I had said something that she knew she'd be able to use in her final piece. (Or she was just faking it to make me feel more comfortable. If so, all bets are off.)
All in all, I felt like I nailed the interview, as much as an on-air neophyte such as myself could nail something like this. The good news is that my publicist will soon have some tape to send to other news producers to show that, in fact, I can string two words together to seem reasonably articulate and engaging on camera.
No word yet on when the segment will air, but I'll let you know and perhaps post a clip on EngagedGroom.com when one is available.
Many thanks to Ariele at The New Wife for the link love today. She has a lot of books listed under a column titled "Bride-To-Be Reading" on her site and I'm honored that she's placed The Engaged Groom at the top. Even though there's a lot in my book that is obviously tailored for grooms, I've been told by a few women that the advice inside will have many brides nodding their heads in agreement. So again, many thanks to Ariele for helping me expand my audience!
From Village Voice writer Rachel Kramer Bussel, a request for stories:
I'm doing a Village Voice column on going "home for the holidays" (it'll run in December but can include Thanksgiving) that's basically about couples going to one of the parents' houses for the holidays and looking at how they're treated, whether horror stories or parents expecting people to stay in different rooms.
If you have any good stories about awkward experiences bringing your significant other or engaged partner home for the holidays, Rachel would like to hear from you. She can be reached at rachel_bussel [at] yahoo dot com.
From my friend David, a former co-worker at Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, a crossword constructor's take on the Samuel Alito nomination, via the Los Angeles Times. He provides a shining ray of hope for liberal cruciverbalists everywhere.
So I'm about to leave for my interview on Fox and I'm no longer concerned about what I'll wear. The real fear is what I'll say! Not what I'll say during the interview, exactly, but what I'll say at the end of the interview. I absolutely hate it when an interviewer concludes an interview by saying "Thank you for joining us today" and the interviewee responds by saying, "Thank you." Why do people reply to someone saying thank you by thanking the person in return?
"Doug Gordon, thanks for coming on to talk with us today."
"No, thank you."
"Well, you're the one who left your home to come to our studio, so thank you for making the trip."
"Thank you for having me."
"Thanks for being here."
"No, I mean it. Thank you."
"And I mean it, too. Thank you."
"Just shut up already and accept our thanks."
"I have. And I want to thank you for thanking me."
And on and on...
I remember reading Daniel Radosh's thoughts on the subject and agreeing with his desire to "shake things up" for his NPR interview. At the very least I'd like to not simply say thanks in return. I'm thinking some variation of "It was my pleasure," "Glad to be here," or, depending on the path the interview takes, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Any suggestions?
Update 12:14 PM: Thanks to Daniel for the link love.
Less than two months before the book will be released and the publicity train is about to leave the station.
On Monday I'll be taping an interview with Fox. No word yet on exactly when it will run, but as soon as I find out I'll post the information here. My biggest concern is not so much what I'll say, but what I'll wear! I've been told not to wear white or stripes, as those won't play well on camera. All black is a no no, too. These are similar to the instructions that were given to audience members and contestants when I used to work at Who Wants to be a Millionaire, but I've never thought about how they might apply to me. My plan is to watch CNN, Fox, and the other news stations with the sound off for a few minutes, paying attention only to what the typical guest wears. (With the news so grim recently, this might be the best way to watch any news even when not concerned about fashion.)
Last week I was interviewed by a writer for the New York Daily News for a story on involved, or should I say "engaged," grooms. The story will probably run on a Thursday sometime in the next month or so. More interviews are happening in December, so these first two will be a nice test of how I'll play in front of a bigger audience. Dr. Phil, watch out.
Forgive the long post. This is not the big announcement I alluded to last week. That's coming soon.
As a freelancer, I have gotten used to serving as my own in-house accounts receivable department; for every job that I do, the only way I'll get paid is if I write up and invoice and submit it to the company for which the work was performed. While a full-time, salaried employee of a company gets paid every two weeks or so and can depend on the security and convenience of direct deposit, a freelancer can go weeks or months without a paycheck, only to occasionally reap what feels like a windfall when payments for a job done finally come in.
The end of the year is approaching and I'm currently trying to make sure I've reconciled the work I've done with the money I'm owed. So far everything seems to be adding up, with one glaring exception: Stag and Groom.
Don't be confused by the title, which in America might suggest a magazine that can only be purchased after presenting proof of age. Stag is a British colloquialism for bachelor and the magazine is the first devoted exclusively to weddings from a male point of view.
As many of you may know, I occasionally wrote for the British magazine and enjoyed some coffee with the publisher when I was in London in April 2004. I contributed a number of first-person accounts of the wedding planning process and had submitted a piece about my bachelor party when I received this email from Nick Hutchings, the magazine's editor, in May 2005:
Subject: Stag and Groom
Date: May 4, 2005 5:03:39 AM EDT
Hope you're well. We didn't run the Las Vegas piece in the end. I have always liked to the tone of your writing but I have some concerns about the relevance of an American groom's diary to a British audience. Bearing this in mind we're going to discontinue the series, but I will pay you the full rate for the Las Vegas feature. I will speak to [Y] about this today. And in no way should this discourage you from submitting other feature ideas.
Stag and Groom
Wedding Style For Men
Of course I was disappointed, but Nick's e-mail was so nice and diplomatic that I understood his editorial decision entirely. It was also generous of him to offer me the full rate for the work I had sent him. Although the articles I did were reworkings of my blog postings, I spent a considerable amount of time polishing each piece so that I could change the conversational tone of blogging into something that would work better in the less forgiving arena of print, and I appreciated his offer. (Most magazines offer a "kill fee" for unused writing that typically isn't more than fifty percent of the regular rate for published pieces.) I sent this email in response:
Subject: Re: Stag and Groom
Date: May 4, 2005 9:39:25 AM EDT
That is completely understandable. As for future feature ideas, I'd love to contribute to Stag & Groom in any way possible. If you have any plans to do an article on Stag weekends in New York City - a great destination considering the favorable exchange rate - I would be happy to help with such a piece.
My address is below, so please send payment as quickly as possible. It always takes a while for the funds to clear into my account.
I've enjoyed working with you and everyone at Stag & Groom and hope I can continue to contribute.
All the best,
(CitiBank holds international checks - or should I say, "cheques" - for about four weeks after deposit before releasing the funds. Just one more way for them to make money off of the float, I suppose.)
A reasonable reaction, no?
One month passed and I did not receive my payment from S&G. I sent a quick email to Nick with the subject "Just checking in..." and wrote one line: "any progress on this?" Nick sent this reply:
Subject: Re: Just checking in...
Date: June 7, 2005 12:26:15 PM EDT
Hi Doug our accountant is on firstname.lastname@example.org, Isuggest you check with him.
I could fill you in on every other email that went back and forth, but let's just say that I never heard from the accountant over email. Chris Hanage, the magazine's publisher, did respond once, but only to say "Sorry its been a bit manic. Will look into it and mail you back." That was in June. I never heard from him again.
And thus began months and months of what can only be described as a complete blow off. Now, it's not unheard of for magazine start-ups to have financial problems or to even defer payment of their writers until more advertising dollars can be raised, but the complete and utter lack of communication on the part of Stag and Groom's management left me frustrated. Email after email remained either unanswered or replied to with empty promises that someone - an accountant at an AOL address, an editor, a publisher - would look into what was going on and get back to me. In July, following the London Tube bombings, I sent an email to the staff expressing my best wishes for their safety and made no mention of my payment, which felt so trivial in the face of such a tragedy. I did email a few weeks later, but received the same sort of vague promises I had received before. Remembering that I had enjoyed working for the magazine, I even broke from pestering them to fill them in on the status of my book, figuring the editors and publishers of a wedding magazine for men would be interested in a wedding book for men. I never received a reply. (The smallest violin in the world is playing a sad song just for me, I know.)
I was always on my best behavior in my emails. Even when I expressed my frustration to Nick or Chris it was always peppered with a bit of (hopefully) humor. I explained the very obvious to them both: I wasn't exactly getting on a plane, flying to London, hailing a taxi, walking to the S&G offices and demanding payment, at least not with exchange rates being what they were. Stag and Groom had me, if not over a barrel, then over an ocean.
Finally, in September I received a letter from a financial officer with Stag and Groom. I won't reprint it here, but in summary it explained that the magazine had been having some financial difficulties, publisher Chris Hanage had resigned (amicably, I believe), and the magazine was restructuring. My reaction was simple: while I could understand why the idea of publishing a bimonthly wedding magazine for men was a tad ambitious and perhaps not the wisest of business plans, none of this was my problem. I did wait about one month before contacting Nick to at least give them some time to get their publishing house in order, but I still expected to be paid.
I received one final email from Nick on October 4th telling me that he would speak with the accountant "this morning." You won't be surprised to hear that I never received an email from anyone at Stag and Groom again.
The amount of money that Stag and Groom owes me is hardly important; in the grand scheme of things it won't change my tax bracket status one way or the other and I won't have to sell our possessions to make rent this month. But whether they owe me one dollar or a million (or one pound or a million) an agreement was made, and in writing no less. Once I've made a promise I tend to follow through, even if circumstances change. (Especially if such a change is not the fault of the person to whom I made the promise.) Still, I've wasted enough energy sending emails that go unanswered to deal with this anymore.
I write this story only as one of many that litters the experience of freelance writers. Craigslist and other marketplaces for freelancers of all stripes are bursting with postings cautioning against deadbeat companies who have stiffed people for far more than I am owed. In the future, I'll rely less on trust and emailed promises and more on ink-signed contracts where possible. Such are the lessons a novice freelancer must learn.
Although I initially poked some fun at Stag and Groom when I learned about the magazine, I've since spoken highly of my experience with them, posting each time I had an article printed, which I imagine gave them some publicity given the targeted nature of magazines about grooms and once singularly-focused nature of my blog. In fact, if you Google "Stag and Groom", my site comes up in the results second only to the magazine's official site itself. (Which, interestingly enough, is a dead link.) I can't say how long it will take for this post to replace my other post as Google's second most relevant search result.
One of the daily newspapers in New York is doing a story on grooms who have taken or are taking an active role in wedding planning. I was interviewed for the piece today in my now-official and still-growing capacity as an expert on the subject.
The writer is looking for some real live grooms to talk to for the piece. If you are stepping up to the plate or have strong opinions on card stock and pigs in a blanket, you might be quoted in print. I can give you more information and get you in touch with the writer if you send an e-mail to doug [at] planetgordon dot com. It would probably help if you live in the New York area.
Big announcement coming Monday morning, so stay tuned...
Things are busy at PlanetGordon.com headquarters and I'll have much to report soon. We've received some interest from producers and reporters for publicity for the book and once those things are confirmed I'll relay the information to you. Back soon with a full report.