How do you spell f-o-o-l?

Washington, D.C.

Kiran Chetry, the co-anchor of CNN’s American Morning, got painfully shook this morning during what should have been a pretty easy interview. Her subject was Evan O’Dorney, the 13-year-old eighth-grader from Danville, Calif. who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee yesterday after nailing “serrefine.” Unfortunately, there’s no YouTube video of this train wreck, but I’ve been able to hunt down a transcript. Some of the highlights:

Chetry gets off to a great start, by mispronouncing the kid’s name:

CHETRY: Evan, thanks for being with us.

O’DORNEY: Did you say my name wrong? My name is Evan O’Dorney.

CHETRY: Evan O’Dorney. I am sorry if I said it wrong.

Then, the well-researched questions and every broadcast journalist’s nightmare — zero elaboration on answers — begin:

CHETRY: Were you surprises that you won?

O’DORNEY: Not really.


CHETRY: What did your mom say when you finally won?

O’DORNEY: Well, I don’t know what my mom said. You better ask my mom if you want the answer to that question.

CHETRY: All right, let me ask your mom. You’re making this tough for me today, Evan.

Fed some random fodder from a producer, she continues:

CHETRY: Well, here’s one thing I hope I’m right about. You like to eat a Subway tuna fish sub before every competition? You didn’t get to do that yesterday.

O’DORNEY: What did you just say?

CHETRY: I said you didn’t get to do that yesterday?


CHETRY: Why not?

O’DORNEY: I’m not sure. We just — well, they had the — they had a special dinner before the bee.

But the real magic happens at the end, when Chetry attemps to give O’Dorney a word to spell (why does every interview with these champs have to include some futile attempt to trip them up?). Check out the brutality after the jump.

UPDATE: There’s video available. And, Best Week Ever has just discovered the mess, too.
[Read more…]

Leaving authors out in the cold

Washington, D.C.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an author, it’s that every sale counts. Because when you dedicate 2 years to researching, writing, editing, rewriting, marketing and selling your life’s novel (or, in my case, a college admissions guidebook), you want to make sure that your publisher properly compensates your hard work. (Trust me, it’s not much, or enough.)

That’s why authors tend to decry services like Amazon’s used book offerings. Currently, you can buy Untangling the Ivy League there for $14.77 – which actually isn’t much less than the $16.47 price for a new copy – but no portion of that price goes towards an author royalty. We’re entirely removed from the process and don’t see a penny of the transaction. The same can be said of copies being sold on craigslist (for $10 no less).

So, while I’m flattered that there continues to be a market for the Ivy book — and it’s validating to think all my hard work is still helping college bound students make the right choices — I’d much rather that they (and their parents) purchase the Ivy book through a reseller, or, better yet, through me directly.

Plus, isn’t a signed copy priceless?

I’m back!

Washington, D.C.


So, it’s been a while. For the last couple of months, I’ve been looking for someone to redesign this site — improving its navigation, integrating a blog and just giving it a general face lift. Frustrated last week that I’d not yet been able to find a taker, I decided to take on the project myself. Welcome to the new & improved, third version of

Everything from my old site is here: the freelance listings, reviews of my book and all that jazz. But I’ve also incorporated some new features and personalization. As for the blog, it’s something I’ll update (hopefully) on a semi-frequent basis, with thoughts on life in the District. So, be sure to check back often, and, in the meantime, took a look around and let me know what you think.