Times Square


This past weekend, I attended the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference in New York City. Having just launched FORTE, it was not only an opportunity to hone my craft but also to continue the celebration. The best part about it? My brother, Jim Davies, flew in from Ottawa to attend the conference with me.

Jim Davies & JD Spero on the street

Jim & me in Times Sq

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bryant Park. Our digs, courtesy of my husband Anthony Spero, held amazing views of both water and Times Square from the 34th floor. The 6:35 am Megabus dropped me a few blocks away, and when I got to the hotel at 10am, I pushed the elevator button for the lobby and…there was Jimmy!

Times Square, NYC

View of Times Square

We dropped our bags, checked the map, and headed toward the Roosevelt Hotel for the conference check-in. My sleep deprivation got the best of me, but my misguided confidence convinced Jimmy I knew where I was going. Our hour-long detour didn’t deter our fun — and got us some cool photo opportunities and a yummy lunch.

Kinky Boots

Jimmy in some Kinky Boots!

We made it in time for registration and the first session, Pitch Perfect by Chuck Sambuchino (nothing to do with the movie but everything to do with pitching literary agents). And so it began…

WDC15 name tag

WDC15 name tag

Some gems from the workshops:

Don’t pigeon-hole yourself! WRITE EVERYTHING! – Jonathan Maberry (Keynote)

Take off your pants and write using the hybrid approach of “plantsing” – Jeff Somers

It’s the small things that break your heart. – Rebecca McClanahan on Word Painting

Writing is both mirrors and windows. – Jacqueline Woodson (central keynote)

Slip the pill in the liverwurst. – Jon McGoran on Exposition & Economy

In addition to the workshops, I attended the Pitch Slam — where I pitched my latest book to 8 or 9 literary agents and came away with lots of genuine interest. Hooray!

We met lots of other writers, including a fellow Xchyler Publishing author! It was a miracle we found each other. There were 1000 people at the conference, who all squeezed into the lobby area for the mixer. I felt like I was back at college at a keg party.

JD Spero and Jamie Potter

Me and Jamie Potter at Saturday’s mixer.

Jimmy and I write in somewhat different genres, so at times we attended different talks throughout the conference. Years ago, Anthony and I attended a Forensics League competition which was being judged by my one-in-a-million grandmother — Grandma Honey. Being newlyweds, we were hesitant to leave each other’s sides, no less let go of each other’s hands. But Grandma Honey insisted, “You need to split up, go experience different things, so that when you come back together you have lots to talk about. And you end up with twice the fun!”

I shared this wisdom with Jimmy, who agreed. So we coined a new term (which wouldn’t fly on the Scrabble board, but would sure make Honey smile): Splitskis!

It became our mantra and moniker. At times, we’d have to find each other among the sea of writers passing in the halls between sessions. I could be heard calling above the crowd: Splitskis!

“Which session do you want to go to next? All right, I want to go to this one. Okay, Splitskis!”

My favorite sessions were those we attended together, however. And I benefitted as much from our whispered side commentary as I did from the speaker’s. It’s way cool my brother and I have this writing thing in common. I’m pretty sure we were the only brother/sister team there. What’s more rare is the heartfelt support and encouragement we give each other — without a smidge of competition.

WDC15 mixer

At networking mixer Saturday night

I can honestly say that — by far — the best part about the conference was spending quality time with my bro. Our final Splitskis was a melancholy one.





On Friday March 20, 2015, a few incredible things happened that put me out of my comfort zone, into a whirlwind of pinch-me moments. I’ve coined it Big Banner Day. I also made some new friends in high places. (like — jumbotron high)

Up bright and early, I was aboard Amtrak by 8:30 a.m. en route to New York City. The reason for my trip? I had a 2 p.m. interview scheduled with FOX News Radio about Catcher’s Keeper. Battling nerves, I stared out the window mumbling to myself, trying to think up questions they might ask me. I finished rereading my book, and even though I am responsible for how it ends I still cried. I studied some of my online author Q&As, I reviewed my discussion questions. When the train pulled in to Penn Station, though, I still did not feel ready.

I walked the ten blocks to my hotel in Times Square. By the time I got there around 11, the sky began to spit  minuscule icy specks.


My view from my hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn, Times Square

I forced myself to have some lunch, changed, and did some yoga breathing to try and relax. Lucky for me, the interview was only four blocks away. Unlucky for me, by the time I left the hotel, slush was falling from the sky. Pretty hard. Fortunately, my husband suggested I throw an umbrella in my bag before I left, which I did. Unfortunately, my fancy spring shoes I packed to go with my business casual outfit weren’t waterproof.

My feet were soaked and freezing by the time I got there. Mind you, it was March 20 — the first day of spring. Ah, Mother Nature. Always a pleasure.

I arrived at the FOX News building on the Avenue of Americas about 15 minutes early, which gave my feet some time to thaw. They have these neat umbrella wrapper contraptions in the lobby, but I had to ask the guard to help me wrap my ten cent yard sale umbrella successfully so I didn’t drip all over the place. I checked in at the security desk at FOX News. They were expecting me! I got a little card with my name on it to help me through the gate to get to the elevator. The elevator! I thought I knew how to use those gadgets but I’d never seen an elevator like that before. You have to punch in your floor into a keypad instead of hitting an up or down arrow. Then your floor will light up on a certain elevator doorway so you know which will take you where you need to go. There are no buttons inside the actual elevator, and I inadvertently took a ride to the twelfth floor not realizing the protocol. (My destination was 15th).


Me and Jessica Curtis at FOX News Radio

Jessica Curtis, my connection to FOX News and an in-law relation I hadn’t met before, met me with a big hug and even bigger smile, putting me immediately at ease. She introduced me to Tonya J. Powers, who would be doing the actual interview. I knew I’d hit the interviewee jackpot with those two. They were as kind as they come, and genuinely happy to have me.


Me and Tonya J. Powers at FOX News Radio

We chit-chatted offline in the interview room. The FOX News logo was all over the place. I did my best to make small talk and ignore the screens and bulbous microphones capped with FOX News cubes. Just when I started to feel myself relax, Tonya said, “Okay, we’re ready.” She moved one of those mammoth microphones near my mouth and signaled through the glass to Jessica and another gentleman in the sound booth.

They asked me to test my microphone.

“Hello, this is JD Spero calling. Anyone home?”

And then we were rolling.

Wait! I’m not ready!

Don’t ask me what I said. Or what questions Tonya asked. I don’t remember specifics, except that I flubbed in my reference to WICKED by “Jerry” Maguire — “Show me the money!” Egads. (Jessica said she could edit that out). I’m eager to hear the podcast after it goes live. Stay tuned. I will share the link.

As if that event wasn’t enough to fill my adrenaline bucket for the next month, I left FOX News in time to make the NASDAQ Closing Bell — to which I had a VIP invitation.


NASDAQ was right around the corner from my hotel.

Yes, that’s right. After a quick stop to my hotel to get my ugly waterproof boots (had to take care of my tootsies), I hoofed it to NASDAQ in Times Square. They were expecting me! I was ushered into a room where NASDAQ coffee cups lined a buffet table, bookended with cupcake towers.


Cute Nasdaq mugs

My husband’s friend from grad school Sean Patrick Harrington, whose company was scheduled to go public that day, greeted me warmly and introduced me to some of his colleagues and friends. Soon, the photographer posed us before the big, curved wall that announced PREVISE Skincare and NASDAQ in lights. It was the first of many pictures to be taken in the next fifteen minutes.


me and Sean Patrick Harrington, Previse Skincare President, Chief Enthusiast & Oracle

How can you pack so much excitement into fifteen minutes?

They went through a dress rehearsal of sorts, which involved short speeches followed by the VIP guests grouping around the podium to cheer during the closing of the bell. We were warned we’d have to cheer for two full minutes, which would seem like a very long time. Something told me, after the day I had already, I was more than up to the challenge. We took some more pictures, taking turns solo at the podium. After, we were told our images were on the jumbotron outside for all of Times Square to see. My mug, huge and in lights. In Times Square. Yes, it happened.


On set! Sean doing his parade wave during dress rehearsal.

I had a similar gooseberry feeling I had at FOX News when they did the countdown before calling “action,” even though I had no role other to applaud and cheer. Sean made an amazing speech, setting the tone for the momentous occasion. On cue, we crowded around back in our assigned places. I was on the end next to a woman whose ear happened to line up exactly with my loud squealing mouth, so I tried to lean away so as not to deafen her. We were all on TV. I think my ugly waterproof boots were visible, but that’s okay. I haven’t seen the footage yet, but my husband said I looked great and that’s all that matters. We cheered for two minutes straight, which in fact was a long time. But in a way it wasn’t long enough. I could’ve cheered for another two hours. Screaming my lungs out, hands clapping and whooping like a kid at a ball game was just what I needed.


Cheering during the Nasdaq CLOSING BELL!

That, and a cosmo. Which was my next stop, celebrating with whom I from now on will call my NASDAQ friends. I rounded out my day with a celebratory gift for Sean, my book inscribed with the day’s date, our BIG BANNER DAY! I wish my new FOX News Radio friends could’ve been there too.


me and Susan Delahunt, one of my new Nasdaq friends!