Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Laughing My Pants Off

When was the last time you laughed your pants off?

Speaking for myself, I never laugh my pants off. My pants stay put. But I do laugh until every cell in my body dances a ticklish dance.

You get my meaning. What was a strong visual, now overused, has become a cliché. Cross that one out and think anew.

My excellent editor for The Voice of Thunder crossed out a few of these worn visuals, and rather than come up with replacements, she wrote ‘CLICHÉ’ in the margins. Of all the revision tasks I discovered that replacing a cliché with a fresh custom-thought was my favorite.

One such was the sentence- “You could cut the tension with a knife.” A strong image that has long lost its edge, (pun intended, and another cliché) and in the case of the voice of thunder, it was a pivotal sentence.
What did I change it to? You’ll have to read the book. Or maybe I should say- Please (PLEASE) read the book.
And whether you read the book or not, re-thinking worn-out expressions is the best gift I’ll leave you with today.
Because replacing these is too much fun to miss. While re-working clichés, I laughed so hard my earrings fell off.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Voices a Writer hears

Oscar Levant had said that Schizophrenia is better than eating alone.

If you have close-ones who are mentally ill you might not find this funny, but I find it funny and poignant.

Writing is lonely, and characters we invent become companions. We ask them questions. Sometimes they talk back.

When I began writing The Voice of Thunder, the setting was somewhat biographical. From the very first page the characters let me know they were themselves, not people from my past. They not only talked back to me, they had things to say I never knew.

I grew to like them very much, and they kept me company.

This is part of the writing process I still don’t understand. The day scientists chart the imagination and show us what it looks like on a scan, I may come back to revisit and revise my notions.

Until then I will continue to think of this process as coming from ‘other,’ and find Oscar Levant’s comment to be applicable every writing day. And I’m a sober person, no mental disorders here. Not officially-certifiably, anyhow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

For a Few Days Only- Come and Get It!

May-18-21 2012:
My publisher is having a special offer for THE VOICE OF THUNDER, my novel for middle grades. If you have a Kindle or a device that is compatible (IPad & IPhone) you can download it for FREE, which is a very good price IMO…


This is a promotional offer in advance of the print release, September 4 2012. Don’t forget (if you like it) to consider posting a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
{Thank You!}

Monday, May 14, 2012

Greener Grass

Mother’s Day got me thinking about the mother I had, as opposed to the mother I wished I had. It got me thinking about both my parents, and a childhood I often wished I could re-write or revise like a story.

From my childhood in Jerusalem I remember Sabbath/Saturday mornings at my secular parents’ home as the day they slept late. When my mother got up she made “French toast,” back then a real oddity in Israel. Then my parents would put an opera on the turn-table, sit with the libretto, and with only a small break for lunch, get through all four or five LPs.

 I sometimes followed the story and music with them. My father would act it out and make it more vivid. Other times I would stare out the window, and see other families going to and returning from synagogue.

 Since I didn’t go to synagogue until I was much older, (and snuck by myself) those early images of families going to and returning from were a source of longing for the “normal” family I didn’t have. What happened in synagogue was shrouded in mystery for me.

Years later my best friend, whose parents did go to synagogue, told me that she envied me my intellectual and unconventional parents.

 I think the longing “for something” is universal, and so it manifests as wishing for what you don’t have.

The grass may be another color, not just greener. Any color but your own.

This Mothers' day I awoke to a new resolve to appreciate, if only for moments a day, the grass just as it grows where I am.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reviving Retired Stories

For reasons known only to the Great Muse, I found myself reading my own old writing. This is something I never do.

Stories that I had long retired from the revise/re-write/submit mill still sit in My Documents. I retire a story when I lose interest in it, or lose faith in its being publishable. I have written stories I will never retire, and stories that got retired quickly. I suspect that had I deleted them, I would have little recollection of these old stories. But while I don’t re-read, I also don’t delete.

It’s a strange experience to read retired stories. I wrote them, but I barely recognize this writer. This is because I don’t write like *that* anymore. Evidence of the evolution of my writing style (at least I hope that’s what it is) are glaring.

It must be like looking in the mirror and seeing a face you don’t know. Something familiar, but no, I don’t know her.

But the Great Muse made sure I didn’t leave without a present. A couple of the stories knocked my socks off. I don’t remember thinking this well of them the first time around. Why did I ever retire these? Could have been a comment from a beta-reader, or from an editor. Comments now forgotten, but the stories are still there, and they amaze me.

They’re back from retirement now, and I make a resolution: what I never do, read my old writing, I will do again.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Fingers turned to Jell-O. I have to face it. Better do it now. But…but now I’m still feeling fine. What if after… what if it ruins my day. What if, like that other writer on the kid-lit chat board, I have to spend the next two days crying. Better do it right away, like yanking a Band-Aid. But I can’t. Not. Just. Yet.

This is an accurate description of my reaction to an Email I got a few days ago. Not one from any known detractor, but an Email I have waited for and wanted to get. The subject line, from the publisher, said “The Voice of Thunder cover.” I could see there’s an attachment. I opened the Email and, indeed, the text read: “Here you go! The official cover.”

But I didn’t open the attachment. Not until I looked at all the other Emails. Not until I got up and made some mint tea. Not until I took a deep breath. A hundred of them, actually.

While the tea brewed and I breathed, I kept saying to myself over and over- This part is not up to you. Whatever it is, you have to accept it. Whatever it is, it will be all right. Whatever.

Unless you self-publish, the cover design is between the publisher and their designer. I know of others who loved their book covers, some liked their covers, and some who disliked their covers. I even know one writer who was so despondent over the cover that he wanted to remove his name from the book. Writers advise each other to hope for the best, expect the worst, and to remind themselves to let go.

I opened the attachment.

I’m one of the fortunate. I *love* it.

The cover represents the story well, and it looks just as I would have deigned it if I could design. The designer clearly read the book. Mira Levi’s diary pages are set on old oak wood, all from the story. The old photograph is perfect. Now I really want to read this book…

I hope others feel the same. But this, too, is not up to me.

More about The Voice of Thunder on my website Books page.

See you there.