Launched by Westporter Jen Berniker, it became a judgment-free zone where anyone can discuss any big (or little) issue that homeowners face.
Jen Berniker (Photo/Maya Porrino)
Now she’s expanded. Designport has evolved to include a website, newsletter, video content and Instagram (@my_designport).
Designport (a combination of “design” and “Westport”) began during the pandemic. Berniker — a Brown University graduate, and former producer and writer for lifestyle television shows on HGTV, TLC, PBS and CBS (with a few personal renovations under her belt) — often fielded questions from friends: Where should I shop? What should I choose? Who should I hire?
Staring at paint chips, tables without chairs and dysfunctional work spaces, she had the same questions.
So she launched a Facebook page. It quickly became a place where everyone from do-it-yourselfers to professionals shared advice.
Screenshot from the Designport Facebook page.
Berniker — an expert writer and photographer — began posting stories and tips. Seeking something more permanent than social media, she launched the website.
It’s focused on Fairfield County (and a bit beyond). But it’s attracted interest from far beyond.
Recent stories included tips on gardening in a drought (from Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran) and a tour of artist Yvonne Claveloux’s home. Landscaping tips come from local pros like Allison Feuer and Maura Cotter.
Berniker has also done “Saturday Snoop” video home tours with Westporters like best-selling author Jane Green (her “secret garden”), CTBites blogger Stephanie Webster (“Eating In”), and photographer Stacy Bass, plus other female entrepreneurs and creative types.
There are before-and-after stories, from homeowners and interior designers.
She partnered with Aitoro and Ring’s End, for “ask the expert” Q-and-As.
Berniker also organized an art drive for paintings to brighten offices at Bridgeport’s Center for Family Justice.
Her goal is to “uplift, discover and promote up-and-coming art and design talent, and lessen the stress of homeownership, while connecting like-mined community members.”
In the works: local resource lists.
You’ll still have to go to Westport Front Porch to find those airport drivers. But interior decorators, landscape professionals — maybe even plumbers — will make Designport an even more valuable destination.
Yvonne Claveloux’s house and artwork, on the Designport website.
Club 203 — the new Westport organization providing social and fun activities for adults with disabilities — launched with a bang Wednesday night.
Over 100 people gathered at MoCA for the kickoff event. DJ Joe’s great playlist got everyone on the dance floor from the moment they arrived.
The dance floor was filled.
Participants came from as far as Middlebury, Connecticut. DJ Joe rocked the night! Everyone was in on the dance floor. MoCA, The Porch at Christie’s, CVS for providing the venue and snacks. We would also like to thank all the volunteers from our community who helped us last night. We could not have done it with out them!
Hanging with the DJ …
Club 203 organizers Stacie Curran, Kathryn Sonne, Joe Anastasi and Sharuna Mahesh thank MoCA, The Porch @ Christie’s and CVS for providing the venue and snacks — as well as the many volunteers who made the night special.
Next up: a Halloween celebration (October 23, Remarkable Theater). For more information, click here.
Who was Sigrid Schultz, for whom part of the newly designed Elm Street parking lot is named?
She was a pioneering female reporter, social justice activist — and longtime Westporer — who played an important role in exposing the growing Nazi threat during the lead-up to World War II, and beyond.
Last night, the Westport Museum for Culture & History hosted Professor Dr. David Milne of the University of East Anglia. He is writing her biography, and shared fascinating details of her life. The “Dragon Lady” exhibit is open to the public at the museum through the end of the year. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)
Dr. James Milne, at the Westport Museum for History & Culture. (Photo/Dave Matlow)
MoCA’s next show — the premiere of the From The Pen To The Knife exhibition, featuring close to 300 watercolor paintings by Marian Christy, who creates watercolors using only palette knives and puddles of paint — is on view from October 15 to November 27.
An opening reception is set for October 15 (5 to 7 p.m.).
Christy was a Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe journalist, covering fashion and celebrities, for the first chapter of her life.
In the second chapter, she pivoted from “the pen to the knife.” Christy, now 90, had no formal training. She has worked for the last 15 years in her basement at an easel, held firm by used bricks to sustain her forceful palette knife strokes. For more information, click here.
One of Marian Christy’s nearly 300 works, exhibited soon at MoCA Westport.
Cohl Katz’s clients have included Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbara Bush, Bob Dylan, Cal Ripken, Cindy Crawford, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, Hilary Swank, Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe, Johnny Depp, Katie Couric, Keith Richards, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martha Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali, Nicole Kidman, Phil Donohue, Ray Charles, Robert Redford, Robin Williams, Rod Stewart, Rosie O’Donnell, Sting and Tom Cruise,
The hair stylist and makeup artist recently moved back to Westport. She’s offering a back-to-school special for new clients (of all ages): a 50% first-appointment discount. Call 917-848-9596 — and mention “06880”!
Several Westport chefs will prepare 4-course tableside meals at Greenwich Wine + Food. The fundraiser for the Jacques Pépin Foundation and Wholesome Wae is set for October 7 (at Abigail Kirsch The Loading Dock, Stamford).
The local contingent includes Jes Bengtson (Terrain Garden Café. Amis Trattoria); Debra Ponzek (Aux Delices), Matt Storch (Match Burger Lobster) and Bill Taibe (The Whelk, Kawa Ni, Don Memo).
The evening includes honors for the Serendipity’s 2022 Most Innovative Chefs. Among them: Will Friedman of Kawa Ni.
Click here for the full schedule, and ticket information.
Bill Taibe and Jes Bengtson will cook at Greenwich Wine + Food.
The world knows Jane Green as a best-selling author. Her books have sold more than 10 million copies, and been translated into 31 (!) languages.
Westport knows Jane Green as our neighbor. Her volunteer activities are broad and unique. Only she would think of building a free, mobile library “bookcycle,” naming it after our late, beloved Remarkable Book Shop — and adding its joyful “dancing man” logo.
Jane also founded Westport Back Front Porch, the Facebook page that gets even more comments than “06880.”
The other day, Jane and I chatted at the Westport Library for my “06880” podcast. We talked about her new book, “Sister Stardust”; her (yes) remarkable career from journalism and Cosmo to novelist; and of course, her life in Westport.
Click below for 30 minutes with one of Westport’s most interesting people.
And the grand marshal of the 2022 Memorial Day parade is … Jean Wells.
Born 104 years ago in Indiana (!), she moved to Westport in 1926, Jean attended Bedford Elementary School (now Town Hall), and Katherine Gibbs School.
In 1943 she joined SPARS, the women’s division of the Coast Guard. She attained the rank of Yeoman 2nd Class, and was discharged in 1945. Jean returned to Westport, and in 1957 married David Wells. They have 2 sons, David and Jonathan.
Jean has been active with the Red Cross, and volunteered at Norwalk Hospital for over 32 years. She also visits with her fellow veterans at the VA hospital.
Her selection as grand marshal fits well with this year’s Memorial Day parade float contest them: “Honoring Women Veterans.”
The Memorial Day parade begins at 9 a.m. on May 30. A ceremony follows immediately, on Veterans Green.
Jean Wells and her caregiver, Simone Nevi, at her 102nd birthday in 2019.
Last month, “06880” reported on a dispute between residents of Cottage Lane and SIR Development. Neighbors complained that lights from the new construction at 1480 Post Road East were shining brightly onto their property.
On Monday, the Planning & Zoning Commission voted 5-2 to approve the original lighting plan that had been passed by a subcommittee, and supported by Cottage Lane homeowners. SIR had requested that a later plan, submitted by them, be okayed.
Click here for the full story, first reported in Westport Journal.
Lights at 1480 Post Road East. (Photo/Chris Grimm)
Swoon — the great antiques/art/accessories/custom furniture/design services space in Sconset Square — was the setting last night for Jane Green’s launch party.
The bazillion-selling author (and longtime Westporter) just published her first novel inspired by a true story, “Sister Stardust” re-imagines the life of troubled 1960’s icon Talitha Getty, as only Jane Green can.
Jane Green, at her launch party. (Photo/Jerri Graham)
Speaking of Sconset Square: Josh Levkoff and Stacey Lewis (and their 2 toddlers) are new in town. They run their own small businesses, and are looking to get involved in many ways.
Josh — a jeweler — is wasting no time. He’s teamed up with Bespoke Designs, for a “Sip and Shop” event tomorrow (Thursday, April 7, 5 to 7 p.m.) and Friday (April 8, 10 to 3 p.m.), at Bespoke (in Sconset Square).
He’s already got the Westport spirit. A portion of the proceeds will go to MoCA Westport, for children’s programming.
Sports and entertainment — two of America’s most popular and fascinating industries — intersect at the Westport Library on April 26 (6:15 p.m. reception, 7:15 p.m. program).
Westporter Mark Shapiro talks about his career — first with ESPN, now at Endeavor (the talent and media agency with clients in movies, television, music, theater, digital media and publishing — and the NFL, NHL and Ultimate Fighting Championship).
He’ll chat with author and investigative journalist Jim Miller. It’s the next “Andrew Wilk Presents …,” courtesy of the “Live at Lincoln Center” producer.
The event is free. Click here to register to attend in person, or via Zoom.
Tickets are selling fast for “Next to Normal,” the first Westport Country Playhouse production of the 2022 season.
But you don’t have to see the show to be part of a series of special events, delving deeply into the theme of mental illness.
“Next to Normal: Dig Deeper” is free, and open to all. The sessions begin approximately 2 1/2 hours after the curtain time.
Tom Kitt, the show’s composer, is the guest this Sunday (April 10, 3 p.m. curtain). He’ll discuss his musical that received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and 2 Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations.
Other programs include post-play dialogues with the audience. The first is a conversation about the music from “Next to Normal” and its significance to the subject matter (Thursday, April 7).
Pastoral counseling services and spiritual well-being will be discussed with Rev. Dr. Bernard Wilson of Norfield Congregational Church (April 12).
A perspective on the musical’s mental health themes will be presented by Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein, CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, on April 19. He discusses how to live with and help people coping with mental illness
Resources for those living with mental illness will be explored by Linda Autore, CEO of Laurel House, on April 22.
Click here for more information on “Next to Normal.”
Caravan of Thieves — the gypsy jazz/acoustic guitar/upright bass/violin/ mesmerizing harmony group, including Staples High grad Dan Asher — brings its magic to the Unitarian Church’s Voices Café this Saturday (April 9, 8 p.m., in-person and livestreamed).
The press release calls Caravan of Thieves “theatrical, humorous and intense … (they) defy classification, and music loving fans may feel compelled to join the band in momentary fits of claps, snaps and sing-alongs.
Voices Café and Caravan of Thieves share a commitment to social justice. A portion of the concert proceeds benefit community organizations under the Unitarian Church in Westport’s social justice programs, including anti-racism, identity and equity, immigration and refugee efforts, and local programs that serve under-resourced communities.
Groups of 4 or more can reserve table space. For more information and tickets, click here.
The expected opening for the Longshore golf course is this Friday (March 25) — weather permitting, of course. The halfway house concession opens April 1.
Click here for the course website. The pro shop phone number is 203-221-0900. For day of play tee times, call 203-226-9785.
Westport residents can purchase or renew a handpass online at www.westportrecreation.com or in person weekdays (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) at the Parks & Recreation office, across the parking lot from the pro shop.
The18th hole. (Drone photo/John Videler for videler.com)
Jane Green — Westport’s favorite international best-selling author — has just released her first novel in 3 years. “Sister Stardust” is also her first biographical fiction.
Green re-imagines the life of troubled icon Talitha Getty, in this unique story from a forgotten chapter of the “Swinging ’60s.”
Though Talitha’s life seemed perfect, in her 20s — already a famous model and actress — she moved from London to a palace in Marrakesh with her husband, oil heir Paul Getty. She presided over an ex-pat scene filled with music, art, free love and a counterculture taking root across the world.
When Claire arrives in London from her small town, she never expects to cross paths with a woman as magnetic as Talitha Getty. Yearning for adventure and independence, she’s swept off to Marrakesh, where the two become kindred spirits. But beneath Talitha’s glamourous façade lurks a darkness few can understand. As their friendship blossoms and the two grow closer, the realities of Talitha’s precarious existence set off a chain of dangerous events that could alter Claire’s life forever.
The epilogue: Because Jane is as clever a person as she is a writer, she’s bringing out a range of caftans and jewelry inspired by the book.
Speaking of trains (as we were above): Got something to say about Wheels2U and/or the Westport Transit District?
Director Peter Gold and others will be at the Westport train station this Wednesday (March 23, 6 to 10 a.m., near the elevator on the westbound side), to meet commuters. In case of rain, they’ll meet inside the station house.
Gold says, “We want commuters to let us know what’s right with Wheels2U, what’s not working, and what we can do better. We also want to talk to commuters who don’t take Wheels2U [the on-demand, group ride, platform shuttle service] to make them aware of it.”
Russell Oost-Lievense has been named only the 4th head coach in the 64-year history of the Staples High School boys soccer program.
A former Staples captain (2007) and player at Hartwick College, Oost-Lievense has been a member of the Wreckers staff for 6 years. He is a special education teacher at Darien High.
He succeeds Dan Woog — hey, that’s me! — who retired in January after 19 years. I’m happy to quote myself:
“Russell is a spectacular choice. He has the total respect of players, parents and other coaches. He breaks down a match — both by teams, and individually — better than anyone I know. He is a master at creating game plans, and the training sessions leading up to them. He is a true student of the game.
“Russell is passionate about soccer at all level. He understands Staples’ tradition, our legacy, and the importance of passing that along to current and future players.
“Our program is in good shape. I am confident Russell will kick it up many more notches, in the years ahead. It will be great to see.”
Russell Oost-Lievense, in front of the Staples High School boys soccer trophy case.
It’s been a while since a librarian “shushed” a patron at the Westport Library.
Like many other libraries, ours evolved into a town center. It’s a place for conversation and community. There’s a MakerSpace for discovery, a café for coffee, a stage with a beautiful piano.
But it’s unlikely that any library has done what Westport’s will do April 8-10. That’s the weekend for VersoFest: a unique, immersive music and media festival and conference.
For 3 days, the Library will rock even more than usual.
Concerts, panels and workshops with Grammy winners, a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member, actors, movie studio executives, legendary journalists and famous songwriters — VersoFest promises something for everyone.
Lez Zeppelin — a Led Zeppelin tribute band — kicks off the festival Friday night. Spin Magazine calls them “the most powerful all-female band in rock history,” and Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page gave thumbs-up to their blistering arrangements and note-for-note sounds.
Lez Zeppelin will rock the Westport Library.
Talking Heads fans get a double dose on Saturday. In the afternoon, co-founder and drummer Chris Frantz joins WPKN general manager Steve DiCostanzo in a livestreamed conversation about Frantz’s new memoir, Remain in Love.
That night, Chris Frantz Presents Emerging Artists showcases Enid Ze, a futuristic African pop band from Bridgeport. Their debut album was produced by composer Chris Ruggiero.
The opening band is Deniprobably, an indie group from New Haven.
Saturday’s schedule is filled with other workshops too.
Michael Jai White
Michael Jai White, a Bridgeport actor/writer/director with over 100 film and TV credits, is building an international production center in New Haven. His keynote speech will cover his life, career and vision for Jaigantic Studios.
Vibe Magazine editor Datwon Thomas, Grammy engineering winner Emily Lazar and Verso Studios’ audio producer Travis Bell will join Dick Wingate — a Westport record executive who worked with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Aimee Mann, Peter Tosh and Pink Floyd — to discuss music production .
Hands-on workshops will be led by Joe Bouchard, co-founder of Blue Öyster Cult; Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and New York Times writer Joe Hagan; country singer-songwriter Drew Smith, and hip-hop legend Dooley-O.
Sunday’s “bagel brunch” features international best-selling author (and Westport resident) Jane Green. Her new novel Sister Stardust looks at the Rolling Stones’ 1960s travels and travails in Marrakesh.
Josie Jo Armistead — a soul music Renaissance woman, former Ikette, recording artist, record label owner and songwriter — will be interviewed by Beehive Queen and “Saturday Night Live” tour de force Christine Ohlman.
The final performance is by groundbreaking young blues visionary Selwyn Birchwood. His band includes a sax, bass, drums and keyboard.
In the works for over a year, the event is an extension of Verso Studios — the Library’s media resource and production hub/cultural and learning center. Verso offers cutting-edge facilities for multimedia production and events, including a hybrid-analog recording studio, and a stage with an 18-foot LED screen; state-of-the-art lighting, video and digital projection, and seating for over4 00 people.
First Selectwoman Jen Tooker hails the Music & Media Festival as one more way for the Library to build innovative community. She calls Verso Studios “the perfect venue.”
“06880” is proud to join WPKN as a media sponsor of this event. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is co-producing all 3 concerts.
The panels are free. The concerts and workshops are ticketed events. Click here for more information.
Growing up in Appalachian southeastern Ohio, Christie Stanger vividly remembers the Bookmobile.
Stepping into a rehabbed school bus, she could borrow any book on board. The arrival of the Bookmobile was as exciting as the ice cream truck (and that’s saying something).
The Remarkable Bookcycle is Westport’s version of the Bookmobile. The brainchild of international best-selling author Jane Green, it’s a mobile version of a free library.
Jane Green and the Remarkable Bookcycle, at Savvy + Grace downtown.
Jane (or her husband Ian Warburg) pedal it from their Owenoke home to Compo Beach, and other spots in town. Anyone is free to take a book — or leave one. It’s a brilliant idea, made even more “remarkable” by its homage to Westport’s favorite lost store, the Remarkable Book Shop.
(Click here for the Bookcycle’s amazing back story. It includes the factoid that Jane asked noted artist Miggs Burroughs to paint the book store’s “dancing man” logo on the Bookcycle — without knowing that Miggs’ mother Esta had worked at the store, from the day it opened to when it closed.)
Like Jane, Christie now lives in Westport. Also like Jane, her love of books has never wavered. So when Jane Green announced she was looking for a custodian for the Remarkable Bookcycle for the coming year, while Jane, Ian and their family is in England, Christie immediately typed “ME!!!”
Other Westporters offered to help, in other ways. Ryan Peterson — who as a recent Staples graduate 2 years ago transformed Jane’s cargo tricycle into the Bookcycle — gave it a touch-up. Ethan Olmstead fixed the emergency brake. And a small band of librarians will restock its shelves.
Remarkable Bookcycle librarians (from left): Kate Parente, Christie Stanger, Sue Goldman, Margo Amgott and Jennie Lupinacci. (Photo/Jaime Bairaktaris)
As Westport rolls into autumn, the group is excited. They’ve got big plans, including creating a children’s Bookcycle from an old-fashioned tricycle owned by Christie’s mother-in-law.
Also ahead: a collaboration with the “People Politics Planet” downtown art show, set for early October.
You can follow the Bookcycle — including its stops around town — on Instagram (@remarkablebookcycle) and Facebook (@TheRemarkableBookcycle). For the next few weeks, it will be parked at Compo Beach.
Neither Christie nor Jane visited the Remarkable Book Shop. But — thanks to both women — Westport’s long love affair with books, in out-of-the-ordinary but way-cool settings — lives on.
Melody Stanger touches up The Remarkable Guy. (Photo/Christie Stanger)
After a career spent in sports and political broadcasting, he knows how to make a subject feel at ease. Conversation flows naturally; insights pour forth.
After 12 years in Westport — and more than 2 decades at Fox News, NBC Sports and CNN — Briggs’ contact list bulges with big names.
Many of them live here. So it’s natural that for his new gig — an Instagram Live series of interviews for Westport Magazine — Briggs would chat with our town’s megastars.
He’s already snagged “Today” co-host Craig Melvin, best-selling author Jane Green and former NFL analyst/current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky.
But it’s a testament to Briggs’ chops as an interviewer — and his belief that his series include local names we all can relate to — that his session with Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas drew twice as many viewers as Melvin’s.
Staples High School principal Stafford Thomas, live.
If you missed that — or any of Briggs’ other interviews, like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — no problem. They live forever on Westport Magazine’s Instagram page.
You can find them — and upcoming interviews which may include CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, actress Anne Hathaway, former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, musicians Nile Rodgers and Michael Bolton, billionaire businessman/Milwaukee Bucks owner Mark Lasry, and songwriter Justin Paul, plus superintendent of schools Tom Scarice, downtown developer David Waldman and police chief Foti Koskinas — by following @DaveBriggsTV on Instagram.
The Denver native did not expect to be sitting here this year, drinking bourbon (or tequila, or another beverage of choice), chatting with his neighbors.
But this year is unlike any we’ve ever known before.
Briggs always wanted to be a sportscaster. A broadcast and journalism major at the University of Colorado, he ascended the typical “pay your dues” ladder: covering high school sports and rodeo in Rapid City, South Dakota; college sports in Tulsa, and then the right-place-at-the-right-time Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics for Boston’s NBC station.
From there it was on to “a terrific” 5 years co-hosting “Fox & Friends”‘ weekend show with Camerota; handling the Rio Olympics, Stanley Cup, NASCAR and NCAA basketball for NBC Sports, and — most recently — 3 years as anchor of CNN’s “Early Start.”
Early is right: The show airs from 4 to 6 a.m. Briggs woke up every morning at 1:30.
That did not leave him much time to know Westport, where he, his wife Brandi and kids moved in 2008. She is deeply involved in the town: RTM representative, Westport Young Women’s League, the schools.
Briggs wanted to feel more connected. His chance came, surprisingly, from the same source that, he says, “punched my career in the face”: COVID-19.
The coronavirus put an end to his NCAA hoops work for Turner Sports. He talked to ESPN Radio about openings, but after cuts in other areas they filled those spots internally. A sports podcast called “Home & Home” was also canceled.
“It’s been a tough year for me,” Briggs admits.
But the Westport Magazine/Instagram Live interviews have been a huge bright spot.
He’d always known that many very successful, fascinating people live here. When everyone was quarantined, disconnected and frustrated, he realized an interview series could be interesting — and doable.
Jane Green, live.
Instagram Live is the perfect platform. It’s easy to use (and users get instant notifications when an interview begins). Anyone can ask ask real-time questions. And the format could not be more casual.
Whether his guests are big names nationally or just locally, they all want to talk about their home town. Why did they move here? Why do they stay here? What’s their ideal day here?
Those are staple questions. Craig Melvin was as happy to answer those as he was talking about national issues. He also discussed what it’s like broadcasting the “Today” show from his Westport home.
“People learned he’s not just a talking head. He’s of the smartest, most knowledgeable and analytical people in the industry,” Briggs says. “Plus, he’s nice!”
Dave Briggs and Craig Melvin, live.
Briggs shared drinks and a meal with Bill Taibe, at his new Don Memo restaurant.
For Jane Green, there was tequila. Many of her devoted readers asked direct questions. Whether they lived here or not, they learned how Westport inspires her.
The interview with Staples principal Stafford Thomas offered 3 surprises for Briggs. There were many more viewers than for some bigger names. Briggs learned “there may not be a better educated principal anywhere.” And the interviewer discovered that Thomas has been to every Major League Baseball Stadium in the country.
Feedback to the Westport Magazine/Instagram Live interviews has been superb. In fact, it’s so positive that the series — originally planned just for the summer — will continue indefinitely.
Elle Vail is a writer and blogger. So are many Westporters (including yours truly).
What makes Elle special is that she is only 13 years old. Here — in her own words — is her story.
Ever since I was in 1st grade, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be an author from the first time I found joy in writing at Saugatuck Elementary School where my teacher, Ms. Bader, made us write about our weekend every Monday.
As the years went by my passion grew greater. Once I reached 4th grade I practically rewrote “Dork Diaries” in 53 pages. Not the best first story, but it motivated me to write more.
Once seventh grade approached I was ready to write another long story. Luckily I had another life-changing teacher, Mrs. Hallama, to help me out. I told her I wanted to finish a book by the time I was 13 (which was the next year).
She helped me get to work by contacting her literary agent with questions, FaceTiming with her author friends and helping me bring out what I had into my writing.
Elle Vail is now a Staples High School freshman.
I was surprised she wasn’t already published. Soon after I left her classroom she emailed me that she got a book offer for 2 of her books to come out on Halloween of 2020 (knowing Mrs. Hallama, they will not disappoint).
By December in her classroom, I gained the confidence to commit to my first published novel, “adVerse Wishes.”
Through this journey, I had so much support from my friends and family especially author Howard Greenwald (the dad of a good friend of my dad’s), who influenced me to finish the book.
With so much help I completed the book by August 2018. I had written 75 pages but I was ready to write more.
November was National Novel Writing Month (I have to thank Ms. Rao for informing me about it at Bedford Middle School).
By the end of November, I had written 49 pages. With my 2 novellas done I was ready to self-publish.
I wish I could say I created the 2 beautiful covers for my books but really my amazing friends, P. Pretty and H. Fiarman, did it all.
By March 29 and 30 my books were out to the world. Although it took a while I eventually got them onto Kindle, Amazon, the Barnes &Noble website, the Bedford Middle School library and the Bookcycle.
Elle’s books, at Compo Beach’s Remarkable Bookcycle.
I am working on getting my books into the Barnes & Noble store, Westport Library and the Staples High School Library.
During this process I began to publicize that I was working on publishing 2 books, through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I post at least once a day on my social media accounts.
Local bestseller Emily Liebert inspired me to get on social media for writing and to blog. I met her when she did a speech at a National Charity League event as an author. I was intrigued by her story.
Soon after I reached out to her. We had coffee at Aux Delices. She talked with me about my books and how to go to the next level.
As I am starting 9th grade at Staples High School, I am sadly more short on time for writing, so writing another novella or writing a novel can be hard. Because of this, I started my blog. I now post at least once a week on evailwrites.com. I enjoy blogging so much and I hope to continue it for as long as possible.
After having coffee with Emily she released another incredible novel called “Pretty Revenge.” I was lucky enough to go to one of her book signings to meet her very kind friends and fellow authors Jane Green, Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke.
Elle Vail at a book signing with authors Liz Fenton (left) and Lisa Steinke.
From the experiences with Emily Liebert, I learned the significance of reaching out to those you look up to in the profession you would like to pursue. This can help you plan for the future, and get some wise words from those who are more experienced than you.
I 100 percent recommend more kids go for it and advance their dreams at a young age. For all of the young aspiring authors, find someone who can motivate you and just write! Anyone can self-publish like I did with a couple of guidelines; all you have to do keep writing.
Elvira Mae’s opened last week. It took exactly that long for them to jump into their first great help-a-community-member fundraiser.
Lisa Laudico is a Westporter with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She’s fighting the disease — and fighting to help others. With the Southport-based Cancer Couch Foundation, she co-founded the #Reason4FreezinMBC social media challenge.
It’s simple: Video yourself eating anything cold hands-free. Nominate 4 people, and donate to MBC research. 100% of all proceeds go to researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, and Dana Farber in Boston.
The campaign launched earlier this month on the “Today Show.” Al Roker — and Westport’s own Craig Melvin — challenged other celebrities. Among them: Westporter Jane Green, who nominated Elin Hildebrand and Robin Roberts.
That’s where Elvira Mae’s comes in.
Today (Saturday, July 13, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), volunteers will sit outside the Old Mill deli. They’ll hand out flyers, and offer to video anyone doing the challenge. Elvira Mae’s is donating a portion of all ice cream sales to the campaign.
Anhtropologie is helping too. Volunteers will be outside the Church Lane store, doing the same. They’ll hand out popsicles too.
There’s no solicitation of money or checks. Donations can be texted (“freezembc”) to 44321.
Elvira Mae’s and Anthropologie picked a great day to help. This weekend, a challenge grant — in Lisa’s honor — means that every dollar raised becomes $4.
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