Monthly Archives: June 2012

NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” Welcomes Fuze Author Sarah Pleydell!

Yesterday, a million listeners of National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” heard Fuze author Sarah Pleydell discuss her forthcoming book, Cologne, (October 2012) and 

her personal experience on a show entitled “Many Who are Sexually Abused Keep Quiet.”  Ms. Pleydell will share more about her guest appearance in the weeks to come.  Meanwhile, enjoy an exclusive peek at the cover-art-in-progress for Cologne by Kathy Keler, and a brief synopsis.

 It is England, 1960.  The mercurial and debonair Jack Whitaker and his intellectual wife Helen welcome a young German woman, Renate, into their off-balance household as an au pair to their two precocious daughters.  The girls can’t wait to sink their teeth into 

this horn-rimmed, earnest foreigner.  Neither, it seems, can their father.  Cologne hangs on the cusp between post-war and swinging London as it documents the collision between war-torn history and the innocence of childhood.

A graduate of Oxford and London Universities, Sarah Pleydell is an award-winning writer, performer and playwright who teaches English and writing in the Honors Program at the University of Maryland.  For the past twenty years, she has been a master teaching artist and arts integration specialist, working with institutions that include The Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Luce Institute.  In 2000, she won the American Association for Theatre Educators’ award for best book of the year.

Based on her childhood in London, Colognehas been twenty years in the making.  It has benefited from fellowships at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and input from a number of acclaimed writers including Joyce Kornblatt, Stanley Plumly, Sarah Blake, Barbara Graham, and Molly Tinsley.


Listen to the entire NPR show.




Pre-order your copy of Cologne today!




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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


Recycled Blog, #2 in a Series (Collect ‘Em All)

Blog site: Crazed Mind
Site request: I was wondering how they handled the issue of racism? Being in Texas and in a town that is about 50% Mexican we have many that get along fine. But there is always those who are ‘purist’ so to speak. Whether it be the Grandmother who will only speak Spanish to everyone. Or the Grandfather who says “send them all home.” It can be quite uncomfortable for everyone. So how was that issue in Mexico? Sorta tables turned. I am curious.

My blog post:
I’m a stranger in a strange land. I shouldn’t be but I am.

I was born in Oakland, California, as a birth-certificate-carrying member of the Baby Boomer generation and now find myself living in the middle of Mexico, where initially I didn’t know a soul and could barely speak the language.

However, I was taught Spanish at Holy Family Catholic School at an early age by Latin American nuns sent to the United States as a sort of delayed payback for Teddy Roosevelt’s Big Stick policy. A few years ago, my parents sent me one of my old report cards from those days. The card listed something like 17 grades, in a range of subjects, everything from Attendance to Purity of Thought (okay, maybe not the purity one). But, according to the report card, I had taken Spanish for there it was in black and white in a crumbled, wrinkled old yellow card and with an “A” letter grade assigned to it.

During my college years I spent a night in Tijuana, the memory of which can still trigger a catatonic seizure. And I lived on Puerto Rico for nine months during an overseas tour of duty while in the U.S. Navy, where, unfortunately, I spent most of my time stuck on base getting dinged during inspections for not having enough starch in my hat. And I love Mexican food.

Even with such a varied exposure to the Hispanic culture, today my Spanish is, as they say, muy poco. (But, then again, I once owned a Yugo and still can’t remember why.)

As a stranger in a strange land, it is easy to be taken advantage of and easier still to be discriminated against. However, like Blanche Dubois, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

And kind they have been.

My wife and I have been invited to large Mexican weddings, as well as to intimate dinners at Mexican houses. Neighbors smile gently and correct me when I butcher their language, even though a simple word such as “huevos” can have two meanings, one of which is guaranteed to get you in trouble. When my wife fell on the street one afternoon, a Mexican man rushed out from his office to help her up and make sure she was okay. These are all anecdotes and, of course, I could go on.

I know some Mexicans do not like the idea of me, an American, living in their town. I suspect sometimes I’m charged more for work than they would otherwise charge someone else. I imagine they make jokes about me behind my back. And while walking I can be the target of a glare or a look of disgust, which might have more to do with how I dress than my nationality.

These are rare, harmless exceptions.

The truth is, after three years, restaurant waiters still wait on me. Cab drivers don’t ignore me because I’m not one of them. And I have yet to find a mob of Mexicans outside my door late at night, waving torches, and shouting, “Yankee, Go Home.” It is, after all, a tourist town and expats remain an important contributor to its success.

If there are anti-American (or anti-Canadian) sentiments in San Miguel de Allende, as I’m sure there are, Mexicans have the courtesy and decency to keep it in the family. Most of all, they don’t let negative feelings define their interactions with strangers in their not-so-strange land, which is more than I can say for some of their strange neighbors north of the border.

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Charlene Giannetti and Award-Winning “Woman Around Town!”

Timed to launch along with President Obama’s inauguration, the “Woman Around Town” website, and its founder, Charlene Giannetti, have been brimming with imaginative ideas

and award-winning writing ever since.  With rotating screens to feature events and people in both Manhattan and Washington D.C., the “WAT” website reads like a high-quality online magazine, offering relevant information to woman all over the globe who may choose to visit these cities, or simply want to keep abreast of the happenings.

 Giannetti got her start as a newspaper journalist, working for such rags as US News and World Report.  Then her book career took off, and she published eleven books, mostly how-to’s on raising adolescents, achieving notoriety that eventually got her on the Today Show.  After a small, woman-focussed, Upper East Side newspaper she edited didn’t survive the steady decline in newspaper journalism, she took a year off to do research.  What she discovered was that the most viable journalistic medium she could offer would be paperless.  After she took a web technology seminar with Jennifer Shaheen, and decided to hire her, she joined forces with business partner Debra Toppeta, an attorney and a “great writer and editor,” and the “Woman Around Town” website was born.

For the first few years, the site dealt exclusively with New York City happenings.  But when Giannetti’s husband began working in D.C., she decided to keep an apartment in NYC, and expand “WAT” to both cities, which she says have a lot of cross-over tourism.  Her initial anxiety about leaving full-time residency in Manhattan was quickly alleviated by purchasing DIRECTV in her home to watch live streams of the Yankees games, and discovering the pulse of D.C.  “It’s so much more of a worldly city now than it was,” Giannetti said, referring to her recent profile of Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith.   “Back in the 70’s, …[the Arena] was the only game in town.  Now there are seventy theaters.”

 One of Giannetti’s favorite activities is interviewing and profiling interesting, successful women on her site.  In D.C. she was pleased to discover a “vibrant community of accomplished, professional women,” many of whose profiles she runs on both the NYC and D.C. links of “WAT.”  She also offers a way for women just starting out to purchase a profile for themselves in her classified section, so that they can begin establishing an reputable on-line presence. 


Though “WAT” has received prestigious New York Press Club Awards for the third year in a row—many of them earned by Giannetti herself—and prides itself on offering consistent, quality articles, about half of her staff are beginning writers whom she takes under her editorial wing.  Since many of the traditional avenues for earning one’s journalistic chops have all but disappeared, Giannetti likens “WAT” to a kind of “Journalism 101.”

Having doubled its scope as well as boasting a weekly enewsletter with over thirty thousand subscribers, “Woman Around Town” has achieved no small success.  Giannetti would love to see “WAT” cover every major city, starting with Miami, and hopes to attract some national advertising to allow this.  Her more immediate goal is to establish a directory for the catalog of growing articles, so that if a reader wants to find a restaurant, say, in Dupont Circle, she can find it with a simple click of the mouse.  She would love readers of the Fuze newsletter to visit the site, and give feedback and comments.  And, of course, sign up for the enewsletter to keep informed about the happenings. 


Visit the “Woman Around Town” website now



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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized