From The Publisher

From The Publisher

BeverlyDenver_thumbGhosts and Goblins

Even though the temperatures here in Houston are still measuring 90 degrees and above, and it doesn’t feel a bit like autumn, I can’t help but get a welcomed chill up my spine every time I walk into a shop and see its display shelves filled with all things Halloween. 

When I was a kid, I loved seeing all the orange and black decorations. I loved the candy corn. I loved the carved pumpkins (both real and unreal) and the straw-stuffed scarecrows. I loved all the witch hats and broomsticks. Nothing has changed; I still love those things, and having them around my house during the season is fun.

Like many others, I put a jack-o-lantern on my porch and a holiday decoration on my front door. I light pumpkin-scented candles and suspend a flying witch from the ceiling of my kitchen. I adorn tabletops in the living room with Halloween-inspired dolls and figurines. 

I place a black velvet pillow with rhinestones spelling out the word, “Spooky,” on a side chair and place a black and orange needlepoint pillow with the word, “Boo,” on it on the sofa. Clearly, in my house, a theme for the month has been declared and punctuated.

Mostly, I do all of this for me — because doing so is such a simple and delightful pleasure!

It’s also fun to wear a costume on Halloween night and surprise the neighborhood kids when they come to my house, ring the doorbell and shout, “Trick or Treat.” Wearing a costume, more than anything else, reminds me of some of the most enchanted nights of my childhood.

I was blessed with an indulgent mother who sewed well. No matter what I wanted “to be” for Halloween, she found the time to create the perfect costume. And, having a professional photographer as a father came in handy too. Every year, no matter how old I got, the way I looked in my new costume was immortalized on film — dare I ever try to forget how much effort was exerted on my behalf.

Back then, dressing up as a ghost or goblin was not for me — nor was wearing any costume that didn’t enhance my self-image. Dressing up in a pretty outfit —as a fairy princess or a prima ballerina — was deemed much, much better!

When my daughter, Nicole, was young I was the one sewing the costumes. I would come up with some unique ideas but, year after year, she wanted me to make her something “pretty.” Like her mother, she too wanted to be a fairy princess or a prima ballerina. Now, I am blessed with Alexandra, my four-year-old granddaughter. The other day I called her and asked about the approaching holiday. 

“Alexandra, do you know what you are going to be for Halloween?”

There was a pause, so I filled the gap. “Are you going to be a ghost or a goblin?”“No way,” she said with conviction.
“Well, are you going to be a doctor? A lawyer? An engineer?” I asked.

“Grandma, you are so silly,” she said. “No, I’m not going to be any of those people. I’m going to be a fairy princess. A very pretty fairy princess! I’m going to wear a long, pink dress and a diamond tiara!”

I couldn’t help but smile and think: Some things never change!

And, when it comes to little girls and Halloween, I guess that’s okay! There’s no better time to live and enjoy the fantasy!

From The Publisher

Beverly DenverDog Days of Summer

No longer am I keeping track of the number of days I have suffered through temperatures above 100 degrees. Instead, I am ignoring all the forecasts for more weeks of the same. I don’t need a Barbie- or Ken-like weatherperson to tell me precisely how hot it is in Houston. By taking just one step outside, I’m fully aware of the intensity of the heat (and humidity). 

The Dog Days of Summer are here and, like many others, I’ve just about had it. Staying in the house when it’s hot outside is okay for a while, but too much of it, and I’m like a Pit Bull in a crate. I feel cooped up, am easily irritated, and I snap at people. Not good! 

The other night I got to thinking about this and the term, Dog Days of Summer, and wondered exactly how they got their name. A quick search on Google taught me a lot.

“The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the Dog Star because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (large dog)…Originally, during the Dog Days, Sirius rose about the same time as the sun, so the Romans believed the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather…Dog Days were considered an evil time, when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad and all creatures became languid.” 

Knowing other “creatures” have been discomforted by the Dog Days of Summer for centuries is comforting. So too is the fact that nowadays there are a myriad of ways to ease the hardship and pain of triple-digit temps — many more than were available for all those Romans. So, I’ve decided to focus on them, venture out and count my blessings. 

  • Blessing One: I can leave my house in my air-conditioned car. 
  • Blessing Two: I can spend hours in air-conditioned shops and/or restaurants. 
  • Blessing Three: I can find an icy cold Mocha Frappuccino or frozen Margarita (with salt) on every street corner in Houston. 
  • Blessing Four: I can go see a film or play in a number of beautiful, air-conditioned theaters.
  • Blessing Five: I can jump in my girlfriend’s swimming pool “as often as I want.” Oh my goodness, the blessings go on and on.  

I look over at my favorite four-legged pal, Winston, to ask if he’d like to “go for a ride in my air-conditioned car.” But, knowing it’s always best to let sleeping dogs lie, I merely smile, and leave him alone. Suddenly, I realize: The heat is keeping Winston inside more than usual too, but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by that at all. He doesn’t act out or fuss. He doesn’t bark or growl. During these challenging Dog Days of Summer, this darling little Schnoodle merely crawls in his bed and sleeps and sleeps and sleeps. When he does wake up, it seems he’s more energetic and sweeter than ever.  

Once again, I smile, but this time with new awareness. 

Seems I can learn a lot from Winston — especially when it comes to dealing with the Dog Days of Summer. Clearly, he has learned (and mastered) the trick!

From The Publisher

BeverlyDenver_thumbSummer Reading

The other day, in the grocery store, I overheard a young child telling her mother she had already finished two of the books on her Summer Reading List. Both of the books she mentioned were Classics — books I should have read myself long ago but, for some reason or other, never did. That got me thinking. 

Why hadn’t I read those two books? I’ve certainly lived through a whole lot more summers than that little girl. And, I spent most of them perched under a shade tree or on a beach blanket with a book in my hand, didn’t I? Why hadn’t I made good use of all those idle days of summer and read all of The Classics by now? What had I been reading instead?

The answer, of course, is “books that seemed, well, more relevant.”

When I was in school, “relevant” meant keeping up with the interests of my girlfriends. So, I read dozens (and dozens) of fashion magazines and quick-and-easy-to-read romance novels. It wasn’t a total waste of time. I did learn how to dress trendy and wear makeup. I also learned exactly how my knight in shining armor ought to be treating me. 

A few years later, when I was a young wife and mother, my “relevant” reading changed. Becoming a Super Mom was my top priority, so I read stacks of books and magazines about decorating, landscaping, cooking, entertaining and, of course, raising extraordinary kids. I did this for years — until I finally realized being a Super Mom made focusing on the really important things in life just too difficult.

When I was ready to re-enter the workforce, my “relevant” reading was all about work — getting a job, keeping a job, negotiating a raise, quitting a job, starting my own business. What I didn’t know was overwhelming, so reading this type of material — day and night — seemed like the right thing to do!

I’ve been working for myself for over 20 years now, and I continue to be somewhat obsessive in my efforts to read “relevant” material. I can’t even tell you how many articles, blogs and books I’ve read in the past two decades about advertising, marketing, PR and sales, leadership and management. And, now there’s social media. Seems I will never, ever know enough about these “relevant” subjects to find time to read anything else — like The Classics!

After all my “thinking,” I turned to the mother and her daughter and said, “I would really love to read those two books myself. But, sadly, I never have. I’m a writer, and not reading more of The Classics is something I truly regret.”

The little girl spoke up, “My mommy says ‘it’s never too late to do the things you want to do.’ And, my daddy says, ‘You should never have regrets in your life.’ Maybe you should start reading the old books now? They really are good!”

Before I could respond, the little girl continued, “I get a gold star every time I finish reading a new book on my Summer Reading List. I got six stars last summer.” 

Then she added, “If you start now, you should be able to get a lot of stars — I mean books read — before school starts. Then, you wouldn’t have as many regrets.”

I couldn’t help but smile at her and think, “Of course, she’s right! Having fewer regrets would be a good thing.”

That night I downloaded the first book on my new Summer Reading List on my Kindle. I would tell you its name but doing so would be just embarrassing! I’d prefer you just assume I read that particular Classic a long, long time ago.

From The Publisher

Beverly DenverBones of Success

For a very long time, I've been a huge fan of singer, songwriter, actress and author Reba McEntire. Back in the 1980s, when she burst on the national scene, it was all about her music. 

I loved her unique singing voice, your energy and her dynamic presence on stage. It was fun to watch her star shine and rise! Always, I cheered her on. An avid fan, I watched for stories about her and updates on her personal appearances. When she showed up on a stage in Houston, I was there to applaud. When there was a story about her in a magazine, I bought that magazine. 

Read more: From The Publisher

From The Publisher

Beverly DenverThe Power of Seven

There is nothing more fun than celebrating a special birthday with lots of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream, so I’m doing that today. I will blow out seven candles and happily acknowledge another successful year for Houston Woman Magazine.

I will also reflect on its beginning.

I have often said, “Houston Woman Magazine was launched only after I gave in to dozens of not-so-subtle nudges and too many not-to-be-ignored events. 

When the idea of a magazine like this came to me, I no longer viewed starting a new publication as a dream job. I had played the role of publisher/entrepreneur twice before and had already spent nearly 20 years dealing with the challenges of attracting loyal advertisers and readers.

I knew the industry I loved was changing fast, and I wasn’t sure how the changes would impact even the most conservative business plan. I had enough experience to know: starting a new publication would be difficult.

But, the nudges and events continued. I started viewing them as Divine interventions — the kind I wanted to ignore. 

Even so, in early September 2001, I decided to find out if the name Houston Woman Magazine was available. A young woman in the DBA office looked it up on her computer and said, “I’m sorry; the name is taken.”

Relieved, I walked out of her office, jumped in the car and drove directly to Starbucks. I wanted to celebrate the good news — with a Venti Mocha Frappuccino. (At jubilant times, it’s okay to give in to forbidden calories.)

Thirty minutes later I walked through the front door of my home and was greeted by the sound of a ringing phone. On the other end of the line was the young woman from the DBA office. She was calling to tell me she had made a mistake. The name WAS available!

(Just that week I had requested Southwestern Bell to change my residential phone number from unlisted to listed. Otherwise, that dedicated young woman would never have located me.)

Reluctantly, I drove back to the county annex and, with major reservations, filed the necessary papers and claimed the name. I drove home thinking: What am I doing? By the next morning, I had concluded: It’s fate. It’s God’s will. I’m supposed to publish Houston Woman Magazine.

So, I got busy.

I rented a post office box for the new business. I sent out notices to dozens of nonprofits and women’s organizations inviting them to send their press releases to Houston Woman Magazine. I got price quotes from printers and graphic designers. I talked to free-lance writers. I even came up with pricing for the advertising I would have to pre-sell to launch a new publication.

Then, on September 11 – while watching the morning news – I saw a plane hit the first tower of the World Trade Center. Within minutes I saw the second plane hit the second tower. For days, I did nothing but watch TV. My focus, like everyone else’s, was on the horror of the tragedy.

Needless to say, I opted not to launch Houston Woman Magazine right then. Timing is everything and, all of a sudden, the timing was totally wrong. 

About two years later, in the fall of 2003, I began to take note of new nudges and new coincidences. All seemed to be encouraging me to turn around and look back at my old idea. So, even though I knew how hard it would be, I finally said, “Okay, I’ll do it!” And, by early 2004, the first issue of Houston Woman Magazine was rolling off the press. 

From the beginning, the mission of this publication has been to inform, inspire, celebrate and connect successful women. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we’ve been doing it now for seven great years!

So, today, as I recognize this milestone, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to HWM’s beloved readers. Without you all, the Number Seven would never have become so significant!

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