Thursday, December 24, 2009

A special holiday gift for you!

'Tis the season, and of course, I wish you bountiful blessings and joy for Christmas and the new year, but in these tough economic times, I have something much more practical for you as well.

Sometime in the next couple of days, if it's not already posted, you will be able to find a free digital sampler of Amazing Gracie on my website, Better yet, you will also be able to click on a link to print a coupon to take $1 off the price of the book at most national retailers. You'll need to check the details on that, but it's my understanding that the coupon will be accepted almost anywhere except Barnes and Noble.

I'm really excited to be able to make this offer to you, especially for the reissue of a book that's always been one of my favorites. I do, however, ask one thing of you in return. The website coupon is something new being offered by my publisher. It's a first, I'm told. I fear it may not come without glitches, so please, please email me directly if you have any difficulty at all using it according to the information on the coupon. You can email me at or click on comments below. Please include the name of the retailer where you had a problem and the city. I don't need a specific address, just the store and city so we can track any problems that might occur. Explain what happened. Did they refuse it? Accept it only after an argument? Whatever. I truly want to know. Making an offer like this is great only if you're satisfied by the experience.

And if, miracle of all miracles, this all goes without a hitch, hopefully we'll be able to make this offer again on future books.

I'd also like to know if reading the sampler helped you to make a decision about whether to buy the book in the first place. Though we always include book summaries on my website, this will be the first time there's been a sampler. Let me know your reaction to that, as well.

Amazing Gracie is due in stores Tuesday, December 29. With luck, you'll have fallen in love with Gracie, Kevin and the assortment of wonderful characters in this story, have your coupon in hand and be right there when the stores open.

In the meantime, though, I hope you have a very merry Christmas with family and friends. Spending time with those you love is one of the best parts of the holiday season...along with all those cookies, of course. And whatever you do, drive safely, keep the spirit of the season alive by sharing with others, and enjoy all the blessings God has bestowed upon you.

Sherryl Woods

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

An amazingly small world!

I have always known that we live in a very small world, but once in a while things happen to remind me of it.

Two of my favorite stories happened years ago when I was still working for the Miami News. I'd taken a trip to Russia -- in February, no less -- mostly to see the Bolshoi and Kirov ballet companies in Moscow and St. Petersburg (then still Leningrad). Since I was covering television at the time, CBS gave me the name of their Moscow correspondent -- Richard Roth -- in case I wanted to touch base. Keep that name in mind.

On our first visit to see a performance by the Bolshoi, as I sat in the balcony of the magnificent old theater, my friend and I began chatting with an American man seated in front of us. He mentioned being a reporter. My friend, who worked for the Chicago Tribune, and I both perked up. "Really?" I said. "What paper?" To which he replied, "The Miami Herald." When I told him I worked for the competing Miami paper, we both shook our heads at the coincidence.

The next day, my traveling companion made a call to her paper's Moscow-based correspondent. Delighted to hear from folks from back home, he immediately offered to pick us up and take us to the American Embassy for lunch. When he arrived, there was another man driving the car. You guessed it. Richard Roth, the contact from CBS, whom I hadn't called!

Just this week I was reminded of those small world incidents when I received an email from friends in Orlando. I originally met Jim Manuel several years ago when he was hired as my media escort to make sure I got to bookstores and interviews on time. We've worked together since on several occasions and I've gotten to know his wife, as well.

When he wrote the other day, it was to tell me that a close friend of his and Debby's had just done the voices for her very first book on tape. They'd been very excited for her. When she sent along a copy of the tape, lo and behold, it turned out to be my book, Amazing Gracie, which is due in stores in print and audio editions on December 29.

Their friend, Janet Metzger, has just sent me an email, as well, to tell me how much she enjoyed the book. One of these days we'll all manage to get together to talk about life's coincidences. You can read more about her experience on her website:

I love it when things like this happen, when we're reminded that as huge as this country is or however far we travel, we just never know when we're going to bump into someone from back home or meet someone to whom we're indirectly connected. Sometimes those six degrees of separation people joke about with Kevin Bacon are even fewer. I, for instance, was only two degrees of separation away from Hugh Grant once upon a time...when an acquaintance rented her house in the English countryside to the author of "Bridget Jones' Diary." I tried to figure out some way to close that gap and get to Hugh, but alas, I never did.

I'd love to hear about some of your small world coincidences. Just click on comments below to share them.

Sherryl Woods

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shootout in Times Square

So, there I was in New York to get my holiday fix of bright lights, decorations, good food and theater, when things went a little bit crazy.

As I've often said before, I love New York at this time of the year and my trip last week kicked off on a perfect note with a wonderful production of "A Little Night Music" starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury. Then came Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" with its lovely and lively production numbers, gorgeous costumes and, of course, all that fabulous familiar music.

On Thursday, as I stood in the taxi line at my hotel, however, things took a decidedly unexpected turn. I noticed a couple of men running by, one of them shouting at the other. Not two seconds later, shots were fired. As I whirled around to look, more shots were fired, less than fifty feet from where I was standing. One man was on the ground, the other over him with a gun shouting for someone to call 911.

And then more police officers than I'd ever seen assembled outside of a parade unit, descended on the area from every direction, some on horseback, all with guns drawn, while those of us in the taxi line took cover behind anything we could until things seemed to be under control.

Of course, the old journalist in me wanted to rush over and start asking questions, but the sensible author studied the chaos, determined that I wouldn't be getting a taxi there anytime soon and wandered off to Broadway in search of a cab to take me to my celebratory holiday lunch with my editor, agent and my agent's staff. Never let it be said that a mere shootout deters me from a festive occasion.

By the time I returned to the hotel later in the afternoon, police tape had cordoned off a huge area of Times Square while the police investigated. As later reported by others, an undercover officer had spotted a street hustler he recognized, tried to question him and the chase ensued. The hustler, who apparently had a record for hassling tourists, pulled out a semiautomatic and fired at the officer. Thankfully, his weapon jammed after the second shot and he was killed by the officer or things could have ended a whole lot more tragically for dozens of innocent bystanders.

For me I think the most shocking aspect of this entire episode was that it happened in the blink of an eye. It's a reminder to me and all of us to pay attention to our surroundings at all times, especially at this time of the year. Perhaps if I'd listened a little more closely to what was being shouted by the man I now know was a policeman, I'd have sensed the danger and not just found the behavior a bit off. Of course, hindsight is always 20-20. The key is to be alert whenever we're out and about for things that strike us as odd. And don't be afraid to report it, because who knows what crime you might prevent. Be careful in parking lots as you shop. Hold your purses safely in front of you. Guard credit cards. Just be cautious.

Wishing you all a joyous -- and safe -- holiday season.

Sherryl Woods

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Managing a Tiger

For years now, according to most published reports, Tiger Woods has maintained a very tight control over his public image. That all changed last weekend following a middle of the night accident in which he slammed his car into a fire hydrant and tree outside of his Orlando area home.

Within very little time nearby streets were lined with camera crews and journalists trying to find out what actually happened. Tiger remained mostly mum, issuing only terse statements via his website. And then the tabloids and others stepped in to fill the void. Tales of affairs were suddenly all over the airwaves. So was wild speculation. For all of the tight control Tiger Woods has maintained over the years, somebody failed to tell him the single most important lesson: Nature abhors a vacuum. In other words, all that silence will be filled, and the more outrageous and damaging stories will find their way to the surface because the one person who could clear things up won't speak.

Believe me, I totally sympathize with his desire for privacy to salvage his marriage and right whatever wrongs he's done. But there's something surprisingly naive in thinking he can do that in seclusion while an avid public awaits answers. Not that his private life is any of our business, of course, but in this day and age we've all become celebrity watchers to one degree or another. The Internet feeds that insatiable need to know in ways that the tabloids once did. Only now it's instantaneous and not necessarily accurate.

From what I've read, it seems Tiger's friend Charles Barkley had it just right. Barkley said Tiger should have issued a public statement very early on and put the whole thing to rest. Acknowledging a misdeed in the beginning ends the wild speculation. It silences the stories in a way that evasions do not. Didn't we learn that lesson from President Clinton? Once people have the truth, they move on. When they're told a lie or half-truth, they keep digging for more.

Over my years as a journalist, the people I admired the most where those who put the truth on the line. After all, what's left to say once the facts are out there? "I did it. I was wrong. I intend to fix it." It can be as simple as that. People may judge you. People may give you a pass. But they won't add liar to your list of sins.

So, while most of us will never have to deal with our mistakes in such a public way, there are a few lessons we can take from what's happened to Tiger. Acknowledge our mistakes. Apologize to those we've hurt. And ask for forgiveness. Man up, as it were. In the end, it's not so much our accomplishments that distinguish us -- and Tiger Woods has many -- but the way we handle the crises. It's a lesson he's learning in the most painful way possible.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on all this. Just click on comments below.

Sherryl Woods

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