Lisa K. Friedman, Author

LKF's essays appear in the New York Times and The Huffington Post, among other publications. She is the author of the books Cruise to Retribution, and Nothing to Lose.

Lisa keeps her diplomas over her washing machine, Hershey's chocolate in her nightstand and eats ice cream out of the container with a fork. She is never without a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style because "you never know when you’re going to need to conjugate."

A Bit About My Books.

Capital Baby was published six months late. My second baby was delivered six weeks early. The two coincided in August, 1990. I was a featured author that fall at the National Press Club Book Fair and Author night where my book was a top seller at the event. Peggy Noonan was at the next table and I kept looking over at her as if she were true royalty (she is that, to me).

After that event, I was invited to be Parenting Expert on WJLA TV, Live at Five. That led to a regular column in the local Washington Parent magazine. A great run for one book!

Nothing to Lose came out in 2000 and it was quickly placed in all the major bookstore chains - back when there were bookstore chains. At the time, distributors were loathe to promote books from smaller publishers so I was lucky to be picked up at all. The books sold, and the first printing was nearly depleted by the time I started a new project: writing for Ariel Books, an imprint of Andrews McMeel.

I wrote eight titles for Andrews McMeel, gift books mostly. My kids had yet to start in school. I hired girls from UMD to babysit so I could write. The boys knew to respect my closed door. When I was writing, I was not to be disturbed. After Halloween, a sitter knocked tentatively and I shouted “let me save!” before she opened the door, presenting my son wearing his Superman costume and bleeding from the head like a character from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

He’d jumped off his dresser in a display of flight which was, not surprisingly, unsuccessful. In the emergency room, we saw two other boys in Superman capes waiting to be plastered or stitched.

I finished writing Cruise to Retribution but did not sell it as I was busy writing for newspapers and magazines. It served as a footstool for many years. In 2011, it was finally published. This was my first eBook, and I am gleefully surprised to learn of its popularity.

I get emails from people around the world. It’s very satisfying. My new book comes out later this year.

The most important and hardest thing for any writer to learn is the discipline of sitting down and writing even when you have to spend three days writing bad stuff before the fourth day, when you write something better. You have to put in those three days of bad writing to get to the fourth.

—Joan Didion, 1999.

Offal or Awful?

Last night we ate at a restaurant that was much touted in the press for the creative ingenuity of the chef who presented nibbles of what I believe were laboratory experiments called Offal, from “off fall,” or the pieces of the animal that fall to the floor during butchering.

Pig tongues. Oxen testicals. Lamb hearts. Goose intestines. Turkey lungs. You get the idea.

I am not an adventuresome diner but I am not entirely unexposed: my mother used to cook liver and onions which stunk up the house something fierce (those nights, I had Captain Crunch for dinner), and my grandmother enriched her soups with chicken feet that used to stick out of the boiling water as if caught in a rip tide.

I’ve traveled to many countries and eaten things that were unidentifiable and likely inadvisable. I’ve tried insects, bark and something fermented with human saliva. But pig hearts just don’t sound like a good idea, even sliced thin and topped with a cured currant.

Not a fan of Offal.

Jitters.

I’m guest lecturing at my alma mater today, Johns Hopkins University graduate school. I’m all dressed up and ready to go, but I’m having trouble leaving.

I have been writing so intensely, I fear for my characters and wonder how will they survive without me? What if my ill character suffers another mini stroke while I’m at class? What if the husband finally opens up, confessing his needs and fears, and I’m not here to write it down?  No, I can’t leave. I should cancel the appearance. 

This is ridiculous. 

Guest Post: All My Hats by Felice Shapiro. {Guest Post}

I love hats – I’ve been told I look good in them – not baseball caps – real hats – the ones with brims. Because I love costumes and as my favorite holiday is Halloween, it’s no surprise that I have quite the collection. Often I have to cycle through my assortment to find the one that feels right. Sometimes, it takes a while to find the right look and feel. Especially when it comes to my Professional Hats.

This year I found the perfect one. It is one I’ve worn before but it is updated, fresh and fashionable. This is my Publisher’s Hat. I wore this hat for 14 years while building up the Family Publishing Group, a group of regional parenting magazines in New York, Westchester and Connecticut. That Hat came off 12 years ago when my partner and I sold the group to a multinational.

I next put on my Yoga Hat – well more bandanna than hat. This Hat has stayed on since I became certified as a yoga teacher 12 years ago and helped me to figure out what I wanted next.

I tugged on a Professors Hat when I was hired to teach Entrepreneurship at Tufts University in 2008. It is well worn now and fits comfortably when I put it on each Wednesday as I teach my students about launching businesses.

It took some courage but this Fall, I put on the virtual 10-gallon Hat – this one helps me reach for the stars. It’s my Better After 50 Hat, a new, online magazine I developed for women entering the second stage of their lives. We all wear so many Hats throughout the various chapters of our lives that BA50 – as we like to call the new site – offers a backdrop for us to share our experiences.

Case in point: I met a woman the other day who was totally fed-up with her life as a lawyer and quit after 20 years. She has become a full time writer and has more energy and excitement in her life than ever. And though she hasn’t quite figured out the revenue model yet, poor and happy beats the drain of wearing a hat that no longer fits.

And yes, she now writes for us. My childhood friend left a huge job in the corporate world and enrolled in a full time photography program in NYC — a big change that only felt scarier as the oldest person in the classroom by 30 years. But after just one year she felt transformed, and has now reframed her story by wearing the artist’s hat. The new fit suits her perfectly.

I love hearing these stories and never tire of the dialogue around what’s next. The kids may have left, the hubby may have left (or the other way around), and these are all fodder for new stories – and new hats to try on.

When I think of the fuel that gets us to take that next step I know it comes from each other’s support. When we hear that someone in our lives has made bold strides in a new direction, it makes us look at our own lives and creates new energy and excitement. So as I sit here in my very tall ten-gallon BA50 hat typing away, I am hoping that revealing these stories motivates you to share yours, and I am certain that our whole BA50 community wants to hear them too.

I know this because in just three short month’s betterafter50.com is fast becoming our landing page – a safe home to just be and become.

Felice Shapiro is a writer, entrepreneur and publisher. She is the Founder/Publisher of betterafter50, a new online magazine for women 50-plus. She also teachers Entrepreneurship at Tufts University. The mom of two is also known for founding the Family Publishing Group, a group of regional parenting magazines in New York, Westchester and Connecticut. When not tapping away on her laptop or I-phone, she loves spending time with her BA50’s sharing conversations post-yoga or while running, hiking, and skiing. Follow her blog at Better After 50 or on twitter at @betterafter50.

Writer, Glamazon?

I was sent to a professional photography studio to have my head shot. I hate having my picture taken. But this I would do for the sake of my career. Plus, what’s one hour out of my day?

I underestimated.

Soon as I sat in the chair, technicians, several of them, swarmed. My hair disappeared under an elastic turban. My face was wiped down. I was covered in a tarp. Trapped. It took almost two hours to transform me.

The first make-up artist painted my face with a pale cream. “Let’s get rid of those ugly pores,” he said cheerfully. He coated my lips, eyebrows, everything. I had no features, no color, no contour. In the mirror, a creepy blank face stared back at me, like a pasty clay-mation version of myself, ready for animation.

It took nearly ninety minutes for the second artist to meticulously paint a nose, a mouth, eyes and brows. Someone came at me with a spray gun but I was too stiff to recoil. She sprayed misty planes onto my face, creating cheeks, hollows and a chin. By the end, I wore enough lacquer to paint a barn.

Four hours later, I emerged, sweating like a Noh dancer behind the mask. And my photo? Well, let’s just say I’ll be using an old photograph from 2002 for my next book cover. Hell, that’s what everyone else does.