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Cobwebs Of The Mind

Reflections about the world of writing, publishing, literary agents and books.

Last Build Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2017 02:39:51 +0000


Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 08:43:00 +0000

Jay A. GertzmanMy name is Jay A. Gertzman. In April my biography of one of the most interesting Jewish American publishers was released by the Univ. Press of Florida. Its title is Samuel Roth, Infamous Modernist. The Press publishes a lot of James Joyce studies, and Roth was the first (unauthorized) publisher of Ulysses in the U.S.My book’s genre is non-fiction, biography.Describe your book please.Samuel Roth (1894-1974) was an example of the American Dream as a tragi-comedy of commercial success causing a split between the spiritual and secular aspects of being a Jew.As for the secular, money-making, side, Roth was very successful as a distributor of prurient borderline books, sold by mail order, as well as classical pornography, distributed through various underground sources.  Not even two consecutive jail sentences, and bankruptcy during the Depression, stopped him. and a self-promoter.Ostracized from the profession of letters, because of his unauthorized excerpts fromUlysses and Lady Chatterley’s Lover,   he became a pariah to the literary profession and also to moral crusaders. However, Roth claimed, with justification, to be one of America’s most important fighters against censorship (Roth v U.S., 1957).   If it would not have been for his appeal to the Supreme Court for a conviction for sending “obscenity” (Beardsley’s Venus and Tanhauser, with his classic Art Nouveau illustrations), the famous decision allowing the Grove Press to publish people like D H Lawrence and Henry Miller would not have happened.What is the Jewish related theme in  your book?Born in Galicia (now the western Ukraine), and immigrating to the Lower East Side at age 10, Samuel Roth grew up in poverty. Had he not left his shtetl, he would have become a rabbi. His father and his melamed agreed he was bright and intense enough. In the late 19th century, Hassidic Jews did not send their sons to a public school to learn German, because they wanted the focus of their education to be Jewish, not secular. In New York, he did not do well in school; the family was so poor his father wanted him to quit, and go to work.  One reason he signed up with a matchmaker (shadchan) was so that he would be invited to a meal at the home of a prospective bride.  But he overcame poverty with his skills as a writer.Good at self-promotion, The latter, in the form of a letter to his first employer, got him a job in a drug store, from which location his observations of the life around him resulted in early stories. He published them in The Jewish Child, The Menorah Journal, and The Jewish Exponent. His early poetry, secular and religious, brought him commendations from Louis Untermeyer, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Marie Syrkin, and Israel Zangwill.His final work was his own version of the Psalms of David. Roth’s last prose work was a visionary novel (1962) about his being present at the last visit of Yeshea (Jesus) to Jerusalem. Many Jewish writers confronted this subject, the most important being Sholem Asch, in a series of novels. It took courage to do so.The Messiah tells him his destiny is to bring Christians and Jews together after 2000 years. What he has to say about the Jewish experience, about God’s call to humanity “Where art thou,” about the “Evil Inclination” as Hassidic mysticism defined it, and about how to restore the world to prepare it for the Messiah, are all very well thought out and should be acknowledged as the modernist Hassidic ideals they make clear, in the language ordinary folks speak.His most recent appearance in print was in Chabon’s Cavalier and Clay (p.614).What do you write, what have you published, and what are your reasons for writing?My writing is scholarly in nature. I have published three previous books, and about 25 articles in journals. This book is different. Samuel Roth’s story is an important Jewish American one.&[...]

HaRav Yehuda Amital z"l - To Dance With The Angels

Wed, 03 Jul 2013 07:24:00 +0000

It is hard for me to even comprehend that three years have gone by since the death of Rav Yehuda Amital. His shadow lives on in many facets of my life and certainly in the life of thousands of students who studied under him. And yet, as in all things, time seems to try and heal the pain, lessen the tears, and cause us to move on.During this time of the year, the three weeks as they are known, the three weeks of mourning over the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, my first thought when they begin, is that soon the anniversary of the death ("yuretziet") of Rav Amital will be upon us. I equate the two now, as both are a time for mourning and a time for introspection. I look around and wonder how things may have been different if this giant of a man would still be walking among us. How our thoughts and collective conscience may have been led along different pathways. How our actions and beliefs may have taken a different turn with his tutelage, guidance and certainly his need to express what was "right" - no matter what the cost.I was recently asked by someone who read one of my short stories, "A Pot Of Gold", in a cynical tongue-in-cheek manner if I truly believed in angels. I answered that while I cannot prove the existence of angels, I know I have danced with them many times. The person gave me a look as if I had totally lost it, laughed, and said "Okay, I will bite. When did you dance with angels?" I smiled and said, "Every year, on Yom Kippur when I was in Yeshivat Har Etzion and listened to Rav Amital during Musaf, and the students burst out in song at "Mareh Kohen" - I danced with the angels."Obviously the person thought I had truly lost my mind. Perhaps I have. Yet if I was ever asked again, the answer would be the same. I have danced with the angels because of Rav Amital. Such is the gift he left behind. Such was his legacy. Below I have taken the opportunity of reprinting a piece I wrote when Rav Amital died. It remains as true today as it did three years ago. I place it below, not only to honor his name and his legacy but perhaps for those who did not know him, to understand the loss of such a great man - one who knew how to call upon the angels and God himself and force the heavens themselves to listen to the pleas, prayers and tears of all of mankind.Clinging To The DivineOver the past week I have spent most of my waking hours in grief and mourning. I am no stranger to grief yet the depth of this specific pain has left me speechless and pleading with the Divine for some solace. And though mourning at this time of year should be reserved for the destruction of the Temple during these nine accursed days, I mourn for a man who for many years was in all ways a father to me. I have truly experienced the repercussions of the horrendous destruction of the Temple Mount.Devouring all the words and eulogies one could find on the person, Rabbi and leader known to all as “Rav Yehuda Amital” has not eased the pain. Most covered Rav Amital’s history, his long journey from the Holocaust to the land of Israel and the huge and incredible accomplishments -  social, religious, political and moral - this great man made during a lifetime of eighty‐five years. This is important for the “historical record” as it were. Yet to me and many others, there was also the person, the individual, the human who defied and still defies categorization.Those of us who grew up in the shadow of the yeshiva he built, known as Yeshivat Har Etzion and drank from its waters, underwent a metamorphosis. We watched, listened, heard and studied Rav Amital’s words and actions over the years. Paradoxically, the thoughts, ideas and philosophies of Rav Amital were never written in stone. He was a constantly moving stream ‐ evolving, moving forward, striving to find what was right in all situations. Rav Amital never took the easy path. Indeed, the term “easy” was an anathema to him. He sought not only what was best for the State of Israel, but was guided by a profound inner‐ethic which demande[...]

Israel After 30+ Years - A Very Personal Perspective

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 04:07:00 +0000

Over the years I have from time to time ruminated on the wisdom of moving to Israel from NYC. If I count from the time I first came to Israel and stayed to study I have been here for over 40 years. If from the date of Aliyah, the day I moved to Israel, it is over 35 years. No matter how one looks at it, it would be fair to say such a time period does offer perspective.Recently, a best friend came to visit, which he does fairly often, and in one of our discussions he mentioned his surprise that after speaking with at least 4 other friends of his who have been living in Israel for 30 years or more that we all expressed a desire to "get the hell out of the country for a while". More surprising none of us were talking about a vacation of 3 weeks. We were all talking about the need to simply "leave" for an extended and very prolonged period. A sort of "cabin fever" which was surprising and certainly for him, came out of left field.Many of you who read this may know me or have known me over the years and such a sentiment of "wanting to get out" may come as a surprise. Yet the Israel I moved to so many years ago, the Israel in which all my children and grandchildren have been born in, the Israel where I have lived through war and its destruction, the Israel which lay at the center of all my personal and professional decisions,  the Israel where my heart had rested - that Israel seems to slowly have faded into a mist-filled memory of the past.I am not talking about the deep social, economic or religious change to the very fiber of this country. This, though radical, when looked upon in the perspective of history, and certainly swift, does not really make a dent upon myself or others like me. Nor do I think, though it is possible that this is true, that I am somehow facing suddenly a "life crises" of identity. What I personally have sacrificed in my lifetime, and what others who read this  have sacrificed - well we all know every person has their own baggage and their own bag of sorrows. Therefore talking about specific personal experiences, sorrows and horrors will serve no purpose nor would I feel comfortable in doing so.I am certainly not sorry nor if given a chance to redo it would I do so, that my children were born and raised here. I thought and still do believe, Israel was the best choice and indeed a blessing in that area. When I came to Israel, there was no Nefesh Bi'Nefesh, and indeed the only support system for Aliyah was a very lose and antiquated system of Jewish Agency Aliya Counselors. I was lucky to have landed with one of the best at the time, but even so, over 30  years ago, a few days after coming to Israel, I had written off the Jewish Agency which at the time had full control over Olim. Even today, the name of the Jewish Agency just mentioned brings up cynical thoughts, and the absolute useless and even detrimental experience it caused for many Olim. I was one of the few of the lucky ones, in that I did not have to move into an Aliyah Center, and I was spared at least part of the ordeal and thus got out from under the heavy and useless arm of the Jewish Agency as fast as I could. Indeed, I ran from it and thank goodness I did. The Jewish Agency along with Rishut HaShidur (Israel's Official News agency) which is just another tool to tax people for no reason, are two examples par-excellance of arcane, useless and even destructive institutions which should be shut down and relegated to history.However, despite the mini-rant above, none of this effected or effects the present. These were just bumps in the road, bumps to be traveled over and to move on. Life has a way of leading us and allowing us to lead. It can be beautiful and cruel, For some the path is hard and difficult, for others a bit more easy, for others brutal and devastating, for even others destructive and full of horror. Sometimes it is our choice - other times it is not the path we decide but the path that chose us. Mistakes are made and if we are lucky we get to correct the[...]

A Wonderful Review For "Love In A Cafe"

Tue, 23 Oct 2012 13:03:00 +0000

I do admit patience is not a virtue of mine. But many months ago, I discovered a blog, written by Alain Gomez, called "Book Brouhaha" which actually reviews short stories. I sent an email to Alain at the time, asking her if she would review one or more of my short stories in the "Ancient Tales, Modern Legends" Collection. After a while I truly forgot about it or let us say it was way in the back of my mind. Then a few days ago an email suddenly appeared in my inbox from Alain, that she would be posting a review on "Love In A Cafe". So being me, and always assuming the worst, I knew Alain had a rating system of 1-5 stars (or maybe 0-5 stars). So I was hoping for maybe a 2 or 2.5 star rating as she does not give them out easily. Poster from Despair.comI was pleasantly surprised (actually shocked would be a better term) to see she had given "Love In A Cafe" 4/5 stars and a wonderful review. I am quoting the review below but you are welcome to click here and visit "Book Brouhaha" review of "Love In A Cafe". Review:Much like a good cup of coffee, this is the type of story that makes you sit and savor the moment.  At first I was a little thrown off by the structure of "Love in a Cafe."  The author divides it up into chapters which is unusual for a story this length. But nothing about the plot feels rushed or "wannabe-novel" (i.e. didn't feel like writing a whole novel so everything is crammed into low word count).  Yes, there are large gaps of elapsed time between chapters but Gross does an excellent job adding just enough details to make you feel like you're in the now.The result was a beautiful love story with a perfectly bittersweet ending.  As with many short stories, this tale doesn't fall clearly into any one genre.  It's a romance but really it's more of a reading experience.  Highly recommended.4/5 starsReviewed by Alain GomezIf you write short stories check out "Book Brouhaha". And Good Luck with the Stars!Books by Ted William GrossAncient Tales, Modern Legends (A Short Story Collection)A Tale That Is Told - Part 1: The Chronicles Of The Children Of Heaven Fantasy Series (Volume 1)If you wish to purchase the books at Smashwords click here.Tags: books, novels, poetry, literary, agents, short stories, memoirs, fantasy literature, legends, tales, erotica, short story, romantica, publishing, writers, fantasy, literary agents, blogs, blogging, writing blogs, writing, freelancing, non-fiction, fictionCobwebs Of The Mind One author's musings about the world of writing, publishing, agents, books, & musing about the great what-if's of life, love, relationships, work, and the pursuit of happiness - what else is there? Other Blogs by Ted Gross also available For RSS: Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen [...]

Interview: Cyndee Schaffer and Mollie Weinstein Schaffer, co-authors of “Mollie’s War: The letters of a WWII WAC in Europe”

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 12:01:00 +0000

“Mollie’s War,” is a memoir weaved around the collection of letters that Mollie wrote home to her family during WWII along with historical commentary concurrent with the letters.  Published by McFarland Publishers in August 2010, Mollie’s War documents the human side of life during the war – a life that alternates between fear and romance, exhaustion and leisure.Genre: Non Fiction, memoirPublished by McFarland PublishersWhy did an average Jewish-American woman become a WAC (Women’s Army Corps) during World War II and place herself in peril?“Mollie’s War,” answers this question and more.  It is a memoir weaved around the collection of letters that Mollie wrote home to her family during WWII along with historical commentary concurrent with the letters.  Published by McFarland Publishers in August 2010, Mollie’s War documents the human side of life during the war – a life that alternates between fear and romance, exhaustion and leisure.It took many letters home, sharing everything from daily challenges to exciting experiences (when the censors allowed) for my mother’s story to emerge.  What was it like to be in England while the country was under constant bombardment by unmanned German missiles? Imagine being among the first WACs to enter Normandy after the D-Day invasion. Consider using your French foreign language skills from high school, as my mother did in Normandy, and when she was transferred to Paris serving as informal interpreter in both work and social situations.  Envision a young Jewish woman in Frankfurt, Germany, on Rosh Hashanah, 1945, and walking with other soldiers and officers to the rededication of the only standing synagogue.The collection of letters vividly depicts my mother’s experiences from her first train trip to Daytona Beach, Florida, for basic training in October, 1943, to the dramatic image of her seeing the illuminated Statue of Liberty in the midst of darkness as her ship approached the U.S. shores when she returned home in November, 1945.  This book may be the first collection of letters published by a Jewish American WAC.Did you ever wonder what it would be like to work with your mother and learn about her life; and in doing so discover a completely different person?   My mother, Mollie Weinstein Schaffer was a WAC during WWII stationed in Europe.  Like most of her generation, she did not talk about her service.  In October 2007, my mother received a letter from the daughter of her last surviving WAC buddy that her mother, Mary Grace Loddo Kirby, had passed away.  This unfortunate event gave me the impetuous to begin this project and see it through to the end while my mother was still alive.  I knew I was living on borrowed time……after all my mother was 91 at the time.  My job contract ended in December 2007; so I had the time to collaborate with my mother.   Timing is everything in life.This project began in earnest in January 2008.  I had a suitcase of letters that my mother wrote home as a WAC stationed in Europe during WWII.  For some reason her family did not throw out her stuff.  Included in that suitcase were lots of memorabilia—over 350 letters, photos, and newspaper clippings.   My mother had labeled all of the pictures with names, dates and location which helped to make my task easier.  Writing a book based on letters from the 1940’s is a formidable task.  In order to actually be able to use these letters in a book, I needed to read them and to transcribe them---about 1000 pages typed. Some of the original letters were typed, some hand written and some V-mail—reduced in size and very difficult to read.   I also needed to be familiar with the content for the book so I would have a general idea of what I could cut out since no one would read a 1000 page book of letters.  It became a family project as my husband, [...]

An Apology On Delays

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 11:28:00 +0000

I know it has been a long time since I have posted on this blog, though this was due to other matters which required 100% of my time and concentration. I was astounded by the amount of kind and concerned emails that have piled up in the Cobwebs email in-box and I want all to know they are greatly appreciated.I do hope to be able to return to a more normal publishing schedule, and get my feet wet, yet again, in the world of words and publishing and learn and see just what has been going on during the time of my forced absence. Reviews will start to be published again, (I even hope to get to one later today), and you can once again start by sending in your request for reviews as well.To all the authors out there, I wish you only success and great achievements. To all those who follow my musings on writing and publishing, I hope to make you smile and laugh again. And of course to all those who have never bought a short story or book of mine "BUY MY BOOKS!". (See I told you - I am back!)Seriously, thank you for your concern and wonderful emails, and now back to our regularly scheduled program.Poster from Despair.comBooks by Ted William GrossAncient Tales, Modern Legends (A Short Story Collection)A Tale That Is Told - Part 1: The Chronicles Of The Children Of Heaven Fantasy Series (Volume 1)If you wish to purchase the books at Smashwords click here.Tags: books, novels, poetry, literary, agents, short stories, memoirs, fantasy literature, legends, tales, erotica, short story, romantica, publishing, writers, fantasy, literary agents, blogs, blogging, writing blogs, writing, freelancing, non-fiction, fictionCobwebs Of The Mind One author's musings about the world of writing, publishing, agents, books, & musing about the great what-if's of life, love, relationships, work, and the pursuit of happiness - what else is there? Other Blogs by Ted Gross also available For RSS: Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen [...]

Interview: Barbara Froman - Shadows and Ghosts

Mon, 07 May 2012 11:40:00 +0000

Haunted by the past, trapped in a hospital bed and forced to face what you have been trying so hard to forget. A great read from author   Barbara Froman in Shadows and GhostsGenre:  FictionI’ve always loved movies. There’s something magical about sitting in the dark, watching stories unfold on a large screen, something transformative.  But I realized, a number of years ago, that my fondest and bitterest memories of movies were not triggered by plots or characters; they were triggered by single images.  So, I decided to use that idea as the foundation for a novel that would give readers a cinematic experience.The result was Shadows and Ghosts which was published by Serving House Books in December of 2011 as a result of my winning the Fairleigh Dickinson University/Serving House Books First Book Contest in Prose.The novel, which is framed with famous film images and screenwriters’ directions, is set in the fictional upstate New York town of Willow Bend, and is about a critically acclaimed Jewish filmmaker, named Ida Mae Glick, who suffers a near fatal heart attack when she tries to live on the same meager rations as a group of homeless people she is filming. When she winds up in the hospital at the mercy of a neurotic psychiatrist who believes she’s unstable, she is forced to confront not only the events leading to her arrest, but also a troubled past of substance abuse and failed love affairs, as well as her relationship with the uptight, estranged identical twin sister who wants to see her committed.  To make the situation worse, Ida Mae’s ghostly mother appears at her bedside determined to air old gripes.Ida Mae’s mother, Edna Glick, is the Jewish heart and soul of Shadows and Ghosts. Her appearance and observations are a constant reminder of the importance of culture and family.  Ironically, it is Edna’s ghost that brings Ida Mae face-to-face with the past she’s been trying to forget since moving to Willow Bend, a town in which she seems to be the only Jew.The prize and publication of Shadows and Ghosts were tremendous honors, coming after approximately ten years of working on the book and going through over half a dozen revisions, first with writer-colleagues, and then with my editor, Walter Cummins at Serving House Books.  I feel very blessed by their support and the generous way in which they shared their gifts.  I just hope that readers will experience as much joy from reading the book as I did from writing it, and perhaps, contact me to share some favorite film images of their own.Web site:  http://www.barbarafroman.comBlog site: Author Page: by Ted William GrossAncient Tales, Modern Legends (A Short Story Collection)A Tale That Is Told - Part 1: The Chronicles Of The Children Of Heaven Fantasy Series (Volume 1)If you wish to purchase the books at Smashwords click here.Tags: books, novels, poetry, literary, agents, short stories, memoirs, fantasy literature, legends, tales, erotica, short story, romantica, publishing, writers, fantasy, literary agents, blogs, blogging, writing blogs, writing, freelancing, non-fiction, fictionCobwebs Of The Mind One author's musings about the world of writing, publishing, agents, books, & musing about the great what-if's of life, love, relationships, work, and the pursuit of happiness - what else is there? Other Blogs by Ted Gross also available For RSS: Help! I Have A Fire In My Kitchen [...]

Interview: Phyllis Zimbler Miller - MRS. LIEUTENANT

Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:59:00 +0000

MRS. LIEUTENANT: A Saga to Publication and BeyondThe following is the author's own story of her writing and her journey to publication of MRS. LIEUTENANT. An incredibly interesting read!My novel MRS. LIEUTENANT is based on my experiences as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 right after the Kent State shootings.  I met my husband on the editorial staff of Michigan State University’s daily newspaper when he was already in Army ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps).  A few months after we were married we arrived at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in May 1970.  There we found ourselves in an alien culture both because we were Jewish and because we were unaccustomed to the military life.What ensued in the nine weeks that my husband attended Armor Officers Basic at Ft. Knox was an eye-opening experience that I felt should be preserved for its slice of women’s history.  Years later two women producers also thought so, and they optioned the story and asked me to write a book.By the time I wrote a novel (to protect people’s identities) the producers had moved on.  And then I spent years and years rewriting the novel.  Finally, when POD (print on demand) publication eliminated the need for hundreds of books in my garage, I self-published the novel.And although it had been turned down by agents and publishes as no longer being relevant, the novel was named a semifinalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.  (This honor led me down the rabbit hole into the world of social media, where I have stayed ever since.)  Kindle had only arrived in November of 2007, but I did have the novel converted into the Kindle format in April of 2008.  Of course, at that time not many people were buying ebooks.  Recently I had the book re-converted into Kindle (more up-to-date software) as well as the format for the Nook, iPad, etc. and uploaded onto Smashwords.  (I used Chris O’Byrne of for the format conversions and uploading.)I was already on Amazon as the co-author of the 1992 Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION, written with Rabbi Karen L. Fox.  Even though that book was published by a traditional publisher, Karen and I had to do the marketing for the book.  Thus I was not concerned that I would have to do the marketing for a self-published book.I joined several social media sites, started the LinkedIn Book Marketing group (which today is thriving – see, and reached out to the national headquarters of the Jewish sorority I belonged to at MSU – Alpha Epsilon Phi.  (The sorority magazine then featured me in an article.)The one market I really wanted to reach – the military one – I could not reach because the book is not returnable and thus could not be sold in the U.S. Army’s PX system.Also, when I first self-published, BookSurge (now part of CreateSpace) insisted on a price too high for a paperback.  Recently I have been able to lower that price.  I decided on the ebook price of $2.99 after much reading about different ebook price points.  The novel MRS. LIEUTENANT focuses on four women – a Northern Jew (based on only some aspects of myself), a Southern Baptist, a Puerto Rican and an African-American.  The four women must learn to overcome their prejudices against each other in order to adapt to their new roles.The novel has received many positive reviews on Amazon, and I am always particularly pleased when a military wife tells me how much she liked the story.I am part-way through a sequel – MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE – about when my husband and I were stationed in Munich, Germany, only 25 years after the end of World War II.  Currently I am considering changing from a novel to a memoir in order to better tell the story of what it was like to be Jewish [...]

Book Marketing: The Holy Grail - "The Initial Seed Element"

Sun, 15 Apr 2012 07:42:00 +0000

Poster from Despair.comThere are so many blog posts, web posts, twitter posts, LinkedIn posts, Facebook Posts and on and on telling you just what to do to market your book. Many of these are very good for the writer/author. Many of them are on the mark, many are very specific to the author who is writing the post. You may be tempted to get carried away. There is no doubt that in search of that all elusive goal of selling ever-more books (and possibly even "illusive" as well) - to this as King Solomon wrote in Proverbs "there is no end". However, all seem to be missing a very critical aspect, and this is the "Initial Seed Element". In this post I will try and explain what that means, and just what is involved in the search to find it.Some authors and bloggers approach the whole issue of publishing a book with a "master plan". This is actually something that should be done all the time. They take their time, they build up a following in their blogs and they slowly get to the point where they release a partial and then the full book. By that time they hope that many of their avid followers will purchase and read the book. This is certainly a very smart and sane way on how to go about initial marketing of a book. It takes time, lots of it, not exactly writing, but in marketing, and a great deal of planning.Recently a friend of mine, had a book published in non-fiction by one of the Big 6. I met him by chance in the street, and he showed me the hardcover of which he was very proud and should have been, and we started discussing what he was happy about and what he was very unhappy about. It turns out he was extremely happy with the way the book turned out, but was totally beside himself on the "marketing" end. He had been made a world of promises by the publisher, none of which came to be, (which I told him straight and to the point - they won't come to be so do not rely on it), and he was extremely worried that the book would now languish. He told me he had hired a book publicist, which just took his money and accomplished nothing, (again not a surprise), and even when he mentioned the name of this "famous" publicist I was not surprised as just like the publishers they are swimming in a new sea and still have not caught up with the market. In other words, he finally got an important treatise out there in non-fiction, he had the creditably as a reporter with major newspapers, and his book was now stuck. I told him what he did not want to hear. I told him it was up to him now. He had to market his own book. And like me, it was not something he really wanted to spend time doing. Like me, he was incredibly reticent about trying to get people to buy his book, saying it should be the job of the publisher and agent and publicist. I totally agreed on the "should be" part, but there is a world of difference between the words "should be" and "what is". He listened with a frown, and I could see the wheels turning, and the frustration on his face. It was not a pretty sight as it mirrored my own frustration almost every day.When I got home from this chance meeting, I realized that we are all are missing something. Even if we make maximum use of Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, Klout, Pinterest and all the rest. We are all missing something incredibly critical here and incredibly simple. Unfortunately this specific missing link is not up to us. It can be pushed by us, it can be promoted, but in the end it is karma, fate, luck, God - whatever you believe in which plays a huge part. Not something you want to hear I know, but it is the basic truth.I come from the world of high tech. In technology, among us nerds and techies, there is something known in the release of any new piece of software as the "initial seed". This actually is the backbone of all viral technology and social networkin[...]

Author Interview: Diane Schochet - "COG STONE DREAMS"

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 07:02:00 +0000

Diane SchochetCOG STONE DREAMSGenre: Doctor Claudia Alexander, my publisher at Red Phoenix Books, is a scientist.  She says my genre is Environmental Fiction. I’m not a scientist.  I say my book is Jewish Magical Fiction.  (Think Isaac Bashevis Singer.  Well I’m hoping.)COG STONE DREAMS is a mystical, magical, humorous love story with a murder, 9000 years of history, cog stone induced dreams (the magical mystical part) and wetlands thrown in. What is the Jewish related theme in your book? The main character (like the author) is Jewish. So is her family.  So is a character I call Cabel Sturmms who is based on Abel Stearns, who came to California 1829 and became one of its wealthiest citizens.  In Cog Stone Dreams Cabel’s story starts when he’s twelve, the oldest of eight children from a happy Jewish family. Then Papa Sturnns drowns in his soup and Mama dies soon after.  Cabel gives his younger siblings to non-Jewish neighbors.  Though the siblings will be raised as Christians, he promises himself he will stay true to his religion.  Until he goes to Mexico and an old lady tells him nobody will sell property to a Jew, he has no trouble keeping his promise.Is writing a full-time job for you? If not what else do you do? Pretty full time.How many books have you self-published or have been published in the traditional manner? This is my first book.  I’ve had lots of my magazine articles published.  I was paid to write two children’s plays.Why do you write? I like to write.When you are writing something new do you ask someone's opinion about it? Yep.  I’m in two critique groups. And I take lots of classes.When you write do you need absolute concentration and quiet?  Most of the time but not alwaysDo you believe or have you experienced "writer's block"? If so, when and why? I’m not sure but I am a procrastinator and do everything I can to put off writing.  Then when I get into it, I go, fast like an airplane or slow like a snail, but I go.Do you incorporate incidents from your own personal life into your works?  Yes.  In Cog Stone Dreams I put in lots of incidents.  Here I’ll name some of the Jewish ones.When I was young I told people I was Jewish even if they didn’t ask.Dessa, the main character in Cog Stone Dreams, does the same.I stayed with my Bubbie at a Jewish boarding house at the beach.So does Dessa.On Simchas Torah I saw a red haired girl’s hair catch fire.In Cog Stone Dreams, Dessa’s hair catches fire on Simchas Torah.In 1960 when Kennedy ran against Nixon, I thought it difficult to vote.  At the time everybody I knew thought Nixon was a closet anti-Semite (I was surprised when I went to Israel for the first time and heard how well he was thought of there.) I was also told if you voted for Kennedy there was a good chance the Pope would take over our country because Kennedy would tell him all our secrets.Dessa is privy to the same facts.My parents moved into a Jewish neighborhood so I would be raised Jewish.The same thing happens to Dessa.Do you write what you think the public wants to read or what you feel to be your inner-expression and forget about the public?  I just write.If you did Self-Publish why did you do it?  Here’s what happened.  A couple of years ago, I took an on line advanced novel writing class from UCLA.  A class mate, Doctor Claudia Alexander, liked my writing.  I liked hers.  We met and became friends.  Then in 2011 she informed me that she was becoming a publisher.  Her deceased aunt, Carol Fenner, had left Claudia her literary collection.  Carol, who had won Newberry awards, a Coretta Scott King award and two other awards, had one book that hadn’t been published and Claudia decided to publish [...]