Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Do You Fool Yourself ? by Hank Phillippi Ryan


Of the TIME book of your choice:

Charlotte (It was random, I promise!)

Just email me your choice at hryan at whdh dot com and tell me your address!

It’s time for DRIVE TIME! Charlotte McNally discovers big problems in the world of wheels—including an expose
into the dangers of recalled cars. (Yes, it was written before the Toyota recall.) And to celebrate the publication of book 4 in Hank’s best-selling mystery series, those who comment will be entered into a drawing for an ARC of the Agatha-winning book one, PRIME TIME (or the TIME book of their choice!)

Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is currently on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate, where she's broken big stories for the past 24 years. Her stories have resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in refunds and restitution for consumers.

Along with her 26 EMMYs, Hank’s won also won dozens of other journalism honors. She's been a legislative aide in the United States Senate (working on the Freedom of Information Act) and at Rolling Stone Magazine (working with Hunter S. Thompson).

Her first mysteries, Prime Time (which won the Agatha for Best First Novel, was a double RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense Novel, and a Reviewers' Choice Award Winner) and Face Time (Book Sense Notable Book), were best sellers. They were both re-issued this summer from MIRA Books.

Of the IMBA bestseller Air Time (MIRA Sept. 2009), Sue Grafton says: "This is first-class entertainment." Drive Time (MIRA February 2010) just received a starred review from Library Journal, saying “Realistic and compelling…Placing Ryan in the same league as Lisa Scottoline…)."

Her website is

Do You Fool Yourself?
by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Television is all about TIME. Getting breaking news on in time. How much time there is until the next deadline. How much time they’ve allotted for your story. How much time there is until someone is going to tell you you’re late. There is no late in TV.

I’ve been a TV reporter for more than 30 years. And as a result, if you want to know what time it is, don’t ask me. I only know what time it is for me.

I see you looking baffled. But here’s what I mean. I don’t know what time it really is—because I’m fooling myself about it. And somehow, it works. How can we fool ourselves? I mean, we should know, right?

For instance. The alarm clock-radio on my nightstand is set nine minutes fast. So when it rings at 7:30, the time I usually have to get up, I creak open my eyes, try to focus on the green numerals, and my brain yells: GET UP! It’s 7:30.

Then there’s a pause, while the other half of my brain happily reminds me that it’s really 7:21, and I delightedly hit the snooze.

Why? Why not just set the clock for the real time? Then set the alarm for, say 7:21, then hit the snooze for nine minutes and get up at the real 7:30?

Because then I don’t get the precious nine “extra” minutes of sleep.

There’s a clock in the bathroom where I do my hair and makeup—I set that one about 12 minutes fast. Here I’m fooling myself to get me to hurry up. I look at the clock, mid-mascara: it’s 8 o’clock already! I panic. Hurry! Then I realize it’s actually just twelve minutes until 8 o’clock, and I have plenty of time, and I can relax a bit. I’m no longer behind—I’m ahead.

Does that make any sense? Do you do that?

I do it with the clock on my wall at the TV station where I work as a reporter—I set that fast, too, but it makes sense in the world of unmissable deadlines. I suppose. I can’t be late, so if the clock is fast, it’s less likely that’ll happen.

My husband says: why don’t you just set the clocks to the REAL TIME? And I see his point. Kind of. But faking myself out works for me.

I also fool myself with money. On payday, I enter the income into my not-so-perfect checkbook register—but I put the deposit amount as less than it really is. So I have a little pad.

My husband says—why don’t you just write down the real amount? So you know how much money is actually there? Not some theoretical amount? Yeah, I see his point. But that doesn’t work for me.

I also hide money from myself in my wallet. The other day, I unzipped a little pouch on the side and there was the secret 20 dollars I had tucked there for emergencies. But I had forgotten it was there! So much for the emergency idea. But see—I’ve done that several times. And I always forget it’s there. Then I’m always delighted to find it.

Is reality so complicated and unmanageable that we have to fool ourselves into making it all work? My little self-trickery makes me happy, and it makes my life work very nicely.

Do you face reality? Or do you have your secret ways?


Here’s my office, since we’re sharing work spaces.

On the desk are two rocks, one inscribed “patience’ and the other “imagine. There’s a bottle of wine that’s a gift from Sue Grafton, and the mirror that I figure is the feng shui answer to the problem that my back is to the door.

Out the window, two huge maple trees.

These are the bookshelves.

This is what used to be the floor in front of the fireplace. (I can find things, though. I really can.)

And my chair with nametags from conferences. (Do you save those?)


Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hi all! And thanks for inviting me today..

And feng shui practitioners out there who can tell me how to fix this room?

Don't say to clean up the piles on the floor, though. Not sure I can do that...

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

Yes! I do save name tags from conferences!! I thought I was the only one. And I have piles like those in my dining room. They won't fit in my tinsy office. :) Thanks for sharing!

nancy martin said...

I can't believe your office is so neat! You should see the bomb site that's my desk right now. Of course, it's Deadline Madness here . . .

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey Amy! XO! Oh, okay, so I don't feel like such a pack rat. They're nice souvenirs, though, right?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Neat?? Nancy, will you call Jonathan and tell him? He thinks it's..certifiably chaotic.

Hey--when's your new book???

Elaine Viets said...

It's not bad, Hank, for a writer. Fortunately you can't see the landfill I call a desk.

nancy martin said...

Hank, my new book comes out March 2. Fingers crossed there will be no blizzards that day.

My husband sets all his clocks 6 minutes ahead. And he's a banker! The checking account, though, must be letter perfect.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Great interview. Your office is neat compared to mine.

Name tags for conferences are great for traveling on airplanes to keep your ID and boarding pass in. My husband uses one of his all the time instead of a wallet, wears it around his neck and tucks it under his shirt. We've given them to kids who are going places like Disneyland so they don't lose their ID, tickets and money.


Harley said...

Yes, to all of the above. Yes, I set my clocks ahead, all of them different, and only I know what the system is. My kids are just old enough to start noticing the discrepancies.

Yes, I pad my checking account.

Yes, I squirrel away "mad money" in my wallet.

Yes, I save those nametags from conferences.

Hank, do you think we may be twins, separated at birth?

Anonymous said...

I do the same thing with cash!

Patty said...

I don't mess with my clocks but do confess to having money stashed in odd places in my wallet!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, Harley. I do hope so...

Cher'ley said...

What desk? LOL. I cleaned my office yesterday. I always end up with stacks of things I don't know exactly where to put them. I figure if I leave them stacked up long enough I'll figure it out.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

And Cher'ley, you know exactly what is in each stack, don't you? I do. It's not a pile or a stack--it's SYSTEM.

And oh, my goodness, Marilyn. That nametag idea is GENIUS.

Charlotte said...

I put money away and other things. I told my kids to be sure and check every thing before they throw it away, there could be money and diamonds in a shoe box or gift bag. Not long ago I found two thousand dollars in a file box, I don't really remember putting it there. Glad I found it.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Patty--great idea, right? And it always works, and it's such a nice thing when you find it. (I tucked some away this very morning..)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Uh, Charlotte? You don't remember...two thousand dollars?

Okay, then. Your house must have many treasures...!

(I'm trying to figure out how to put that in a novel. It seems like such a good little element.. I'd use your name, but then, of course, I already have!)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Elaine, I'd LOVE to see your desk!

Cher'ley said...

I stash money all the time too, but never $2000. and I usually know where it is and about how much. I know I have around $27.00 in my underwear drawer and I have $15. in one file cabinet and I have $400. in my nightstand. Now, I probably have at least $2000 in coin in the closet (which I plan on putting in the bank) or I may have to use it since I'm off work. LOL

Peg Cochran said...

I do exactly the same thing with the clock in our bathroom! When we change the time, we make sure to keep it 10 minutes fast. My alarm is set to the right time but also set to go off half an hour early so I can hit snooze all I want!
My office is very neat because I generally have my laptop on the desk in the kitchen (to keep an eye on dinner) but I do have to share with the cat whose bowl is up there (or the dog would eat all her food). Sometimes I'm typing with her practically standing on the keyboard!

Unknown said...

The only clock in my house with the right time is one that sets itself automatically. And I put a mirror on my desk when my workspace left me with my back to the door ... needed to know who might be creeping up on me;-)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Peg, isn't snooze the best? Why is that, I always wonder. It's such a delight to hit the snooze.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

So, Shirley, is the mirror thing for feng shui? Do you thnk it works?

Nancy Adams said...

Hank, I love your office, but if we had a "messy" contest, I gotta say I think mine would win. I keep thinking it's a firetrap, or that the mice we've trapped in the basement will make their way up to the first floor and then, oh no!, into my stacks and stacks of ms versions, unfiled articles, and the like.

And yes, I've got the kitchen clock set fast, so I'll get on the door on time after scrambling together the day's lunch.

Gee, is this a writer thing, or are we all kindred spirits? (Or both!)

Thanks for sharing!

Nancy Adams

Sofie Kelly said...

Hank, I dragged my husband to the computer to read your post just for your confession about the clock. (I've kept my bedside clock five minutes fast since I was in high school.) I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one who does that!

RhondaL said...

Thanks for the peek at your study. I've convinced myself that clearing clutter is just another form of procrastination, that real focus means ignoring the Chaos.

And - oh, yeah - I've also decided that clutter is a sign of Abundance. :)

I, too, like to pad my clocks. I'm experimenting, though, with Real Time on my car's clock, but I'm not exactly happy about it. I may change it back.

Oh - BTW, I don't need to be in the drawing for the free book. I just wanted to say "hi." Thanks!

JudyC said...

My office doesn't look too bad in comparison to Hank's. In fact, it looks rather similar. How could a writer have a neat office? Isn't ever gonna happen.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I'm loving all this! Fun post, fun comments.

I hope you will all come by next week to see J.T. Ellison's post which is TOTALLY about her work space and what it means to her. Pictures included. Hank - you'll love it!

I used to pad my checking account. I don't do that any longer 'cause now when I try to balance my account it always seems to backfire and it gives me a headache.

I used to try to keep my clocks set ahead. Then Donald came along. He's very literal minded. He just did not "get" that whole thing and insisted I wasn't fooling anyone - just confusing us both. He gave me so much grief about it I finally gave in and set it to "real" time. But our cheap ol' alarm clock gains time on its own and now keeps us both confused - an amused.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hey, Nancy! I like the idea that we're kindred spirits, of the reasons this blog is so lovely. It does bring us all together--even to bond over clutter!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Darlene, glad to be of service! Anytime I can be your example of how there's a different "normal" for writers, delighted to do so!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh, Kaye. right, that's a mess when the inanimate objects start taking charge. (I mean the clock of course, not dear Donald.) If you're going to mess with the time, you've got to know it. And be in control of it.

Could you hand me one of those lovely cookies? We're having such a nice time...

Christine said...

I can remember that as far back as 8th grade, I padded the clocks in my bedroom and bathroom, as well as in my car once I had one. I worked 10 years as a bank teller, so I'm pretty anal about balancing the checkbook to the penny; but I'm all about the "emergency" stash of cash. Ooh, my cats would have an absolute ball with your chair of hanging IDs. ;-) I love that.

Now, I recall reading somewhere that regardless of how it looks, if you can find what your looking for quickly then you are organized. Right now, my office "looks" organized, but that's because I cleared off all the paperwork, etc from the table and my desk into two large shopping bags because I had company over last week. ;-) (I had the brilliant idea to go virtually paperless and reorganize, but then the holidays happened and I stopped mid-project. I'm dreading bringing all back out again. Ha!)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Christine, oh, right right right!

I swooped the pile of to-do lists and enveleopes and stuff off of the kithcen counter and into a paper bag when guests were on the way..and the counter did look very nice.

But now I can't bear to look into that bag, and I'm thinkin'--if it's really important, someone will send me another one. Is that a bad attitude?

Christine said...

Bad attitude? No way. I think it's an excellent rationalization. ;-) I think it's more a survival instinct for me. Don't know about you, but I'd swear that I hear the Jaws theme music when I get too close to those bags. o_0

Unknown said...

I like to say that I'm a "pilot without a license." I "pile it" here and I "pile it" there! And yes, usually, I can find what I need when I need it!

Would love to win your book - I've heard lots of good things about your books.

Anonymous said...

I do all the same things to fool myself. I nearly lost a friend once that way. We roomed together in a college dorm, and she learned from my bad example to set her clock a half-hour early and swat at the snooze bar a few times before getting up. When she realized how I'd corrupted her, she wouldn't speak to me for a while.
Llyn K.

Jen Forbus said...

Hi Hank! I have to admit, I'm just the opposite. My family tells me I need to set my clocks slow because I'm always ridiculously early for everything. Don't tell my mother, but I blame this obsessiveness on her. When we were young, we had to go to mass every Sunday, but we were NEVER on time. And it wasn't because of the kids either. My mother is STILL TO THIS DAY late for EVERYTHING. It's a running joke in our house that we tell her a half hour earlier than whatever the scheduled time is. Anyway...back to the mass story. We had to go..and we were late, but to compound this horror...she made us enter the church at the front and sit in the front row. So EVERYONE saw us come in late every week. For someone who is self-conscious to begin with, this was torture. So, I believe that's why I am always so early for everything! Hehehehe

And yes, I save my lanyards, too! Oh the memories they hold.

Unknown said...

I smiled when I saw the bookshelves. Yes, they look just the way they should.
And I wonder if fooling oneself the way you do is a writer's thing? I do it all the time. I'd elaborate, but my examples closely resemble yours, and you've covered that.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hi all...just back from the symphony--all Beethoven tonight, and standing ovations for James Levine!

And very very happy--to learn AIR TIME was just nominated for the Agatha for best novel!
And my short story "On the House" nominated for best short story.

The lineup of nominees is amazing! and I am so proud to be among them...thank you, all of you, for making it happen!

Jen Forbus said...

Congrats Hank!! :)

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

HUGE Congratulations on your Agatha Nomination!!!!!!!
Yay Yay Yay!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Thanks everyone!Yes, I'm so thrilled...

Kaye, when shall we announce book winners here??

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Hank - anytime you'd like. You tell me when and I'll post it to the top of your blog (this one). We can tell folks to check back here on the day you choose. We'll need them to leave us their email address so we can contact them for their mailing address.
How's that?

Christine said...

Congratulations! Bet it took you a while to get to sleep after a great evening out then coming home to such fabulous news, yeah?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Christine..yes, I stayed up way too late!! :-) Thank you!

xoxo Hank

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...


Of the TIME book of your choice:

Charlotte (It was random, I promise!)

Just email me your choice at hryan at whdh dot com and tell me your address!

Loved being here..thank you so much, darling Kaye!