Not long ago I joined an online group of writers from all genres, with varying skill sets and from all sectors of the creative, marketing and publishing fields. It is a tremendous time suck – members post such interesting queries and post so many fascinating, well-crafted articles that they and others have authored. I try to “Like” as many posts as possible, to support other folks’ work and projects, and bookmark the websites that solicit essay or short story submissions. I even pitched my (by now no-longer-new) novel to a few book reviewers…who all declined, because let’s face it, the bloom is off this rose. After a year on the shelves, The Mango Bride is no longer news to the news cycle folk.
But a posting by Nancy Redd, a host of HuffPost Live caught my eye. Nancy was looking for stories or topics to tackle on the webcam discussion show that she hosts for the Huffington Post’s award-winning streaming network. Still enjoying the afterglow from the success of the Saving Beverly Fundraiser, I decided on a whim to pitch the domestic violence in immigrant communities to Nancy. What the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I sent Nancy an email, figuring this was yet another shot in the dark. Nothing for a week. I busied myself with other projects, applied for a writing grant, sent out thank you cards to fundraiser donors, did another round of readings in a passel of community colleges.
Then out of the blue, Nancy wrote back. The idea of domestic violence among immigrant spouses intrigued her. She had never heard of the conditional green card – that two-year waiting period a foreign spouse needs to stay married if s/he want to be upgraded to permanent residency. At this point I’ve written so much about the whole Saving Beverly endeavor that I loaded my reply with everything but the kitchen sink.
Nancy responded with an enthusiastic note, offering to pitch the topic to Those Who Decide On Such Things (my term, not hers). Some days later she emailed again saying she’d been given the go-ahead and could I gather a lawyer and a survivor to join the conversation. Things started happening pretty quickly after that.
Last Friday a HuffPost producer called to test the web cam. and sent me a list of suggestions to ensure the video was clear: Light source directly in front of you, not to the side or back. Sit some distance away from your wall, to add background depth. Wear earphones to block out excess sound. That’s when I realized I needed to create a decent home “set.”
This morning I practiced raising and lowering the laptop table, (the better to obscure the dreaded double chin), repositioned a lamp to fill the bare wall behind me and tried to decide whether or not putting my novel’s poster in back would be cheesy. Ultimately I went with my advertising roots. After all, a poster set nonchalantly in back would be way more subtle than holding up a copy of the book as I talked. Product placement happens all the time in the movies – why not do it online?
At 11:45 a.m., Athina, another HuffPost producer, called on Google hangouts to do a final check. She offered a mini tour of the video offices as she walked her laptop down the hall and into the HuffPost Live set.
I surreptitiously took photos by holding the cell phone camera off screen, and keeping my gaze on the laptop. Not as easy as you think. But that’s where years of yoga helps: I know how to focus on a drishti.
The marvel of it is that we were all able to chat from different places: Nancy from the HuffPost offices in D.C.; Anne Bautista, Esq., Yolanda and our DV survivor in Access’s Linda Vista Office and me at home. Unfortunately Anne and Yolanda were hindered by tech glitches and couldn’t talk quite as much during the half hour interview, so I had to fill in for them.
Fortunately Nancy has generously offered to schedule a follow up interview so that Anne can better explain how the U-Visa and expanded protections in the Violence Agains Women Act can better help immigrant victims of domestic violence. Stay tuned for that next discussion. If you missed the show in real time, you can still watch it by clicking on the link below: