Tuesday, February 27, 2018

All the Reasons to Like PURIM

The Jewish holiday Purim, celebrating the Jewish people’s (once again) salvation from mortal threat, starts tomorrow evening.

How do I like thee, Purim? Let me count the ways~~~ (Apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

            *The chance to wear a goofy costume
            *The scroll of Esther is a hoot. J   Look it up and re-read if you don’t believe me
            *Hamantaschen, when made right, are delicious
            *Getting baskets of goodies (MISHLO’ACH MANOT) is fun, and giving such is even more fun
*It’s religious-observant “light,” perfect for the family I grew up in
*Jews are commanded to get seriously tipsy, which makes everyone daffier
*It falls right around my birthday
*And just for good measure, again— COSTUMES!

So even if you’re not Jewish, it’s a good time to join us.

{Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York—
Only the children are in costumes there^}


Tuesday, February 20, 2018


...or, in this case— BEYOND THE FIREWALL L

One of the many perils of the internet, like the rest of life’s realms, are the fakers, thieves, hackers, and spammers.

About six weeks ago they sort of crossed a boundary, at least for me. Someone hacked into my father’s Facebook page and “friend-requested” myself, my kids, and no doubt others.

My father’s been gone from this world for eight years.

All righty, then. No real harm done. But I. Didn’t. Like. That.

DD sent me an amused screenshot of the request. DS sent a somewhat alarmed question about it. Otherwise, no progeny was harmed in that ill-intentioned maneuver. But it got me thinking about the too many fake “friend requests” I’ve been fielding for the last few years.
You know they are fakers when you have nothing in common professionally; you don’t know them; the photo is generic and often meant to get through your otherwise discerning eyes.

I’ve had plenty of such from “young men serving our country in Iraq.” You want to be thankful for service to our country, no?

And then the handsome middle-aged men looking lovely with some island vacation spot in the background. Looking for a special friendship, honey-babe? Never mind that I’m married and wouldn’t think of it, but if I were, I’d prefer real people ;)  

Because my first name may gender-confuse some of these hacking engines, I’ve gotten a smattering of scantily clad deep cleavaged young females with their tongues sticking out in what some imagine is unbridled lust, who mysteriously need a friend and don’t have any. Anyone will do, I guess.

But now they have to resurrect a dead relative?

So if you think this is just an annoyance and maybe mildly funny, let me suggest it is less banal than that. These are attempts to get into your contacts and have access to what your friends post under the privacy layer of “can be seen by friends of friends.” Everything I do on Facebook (save personal chats on messenger) is completely public. There is nothing they can get from my posts that they won’t see even if we are not friends. Mine is an Author Page, not a private friendship page. But some of my Facebook friends do use layered privacy settings.

If you have been tempted to accept any and all, please consider protecting your friends and deleting these malicious requests.
Back to the Great Beyond, I still want to hear from my father in heaven. But I know he wouldn’t ---EVER—do it on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Dear Author

So I woke up feeling frisky. I decided it was time to respond. This response is to the likes of which I (and every writer I know) had received at some point. In fact, a baffled colleague had just shared getting one to a manuscript for which I was privileged to be a beta reader. Sometimes it’s easier to go to bat for someone else whose work is as good as it gets, in my not humble enough opinion.

From my never-to-be-sent response, you can pretty much reconstruct the original rejection.

Dear Publishing Professional,
I thank you for reading my submission, and for saying you loved-loved-loved it. You needn’t have thanked me for offering, as you said, just the sort of work you are always looking for. I researched and made certain this is the sort of story you have worked on before, and are still looking for. I was most happy that you found it among the best you have seen, and shared this assessment with me. I noted with joy your delight at the relationship between the two protagonists, and the edge-of-one's-seat plot. Your comment on the beautiful phrasing and pacing was most rewarding, because I had worked diligently on both aspects.
Of course, I was saddened that you ended with having to pass on this story, because it is not a fit for your list. Mea culpa. I should have realized your list is made of poorly realized relationships, plodding plots and tired language. I now understand better why you needed to pass on this manuscript.

I will do my best to target next time.


Okay, steam blown and serenity restored.

‘Tis baffling, but there it is. All publishing professionals are beyond overworked and overwhelmed with less than wonderful offerings by the zillions. But variations of effusive letters that ended with a pass leave a writer with nothing to fix but existence itself.

And no, this particular rejection really was not one I got. But I did see it and it really did happen just now to someone else, and that someone else is going---.

Still, we're ever hopeful, and waiting for some love. C'mon, it's almost Valentine's Day

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Why “I just don’t have the time” doesn’t fly

A dear friend who is an accomplished musician lamented that she has not been able to touch her instrument in ions. Life’s demands have gotten all of her time and stamina.

This reminded me of countless occasions where someone said to me, “I’d love to write,” or “I started to write,” and invariably followed with “but I couldn’t find the time.”

I used to be that person, also.

Some years ago, I realized that the only way I know to get from under this sort of loop is to think of what I want to do most for myself and what time I can practically quarantine on a regular basis, and then treat that time as sacred.

“Sacred” is not just for the religious. It means a realm not be violated for any but the few reasons I set ahead of time. Even the most orthodox Jews will break the holy Sabbath if it is a matter of life and death, but for no other reason.
I made the decision that only medical emergencies of self or family will break Sacred Time.

For me, this meant setting a reasonable amount of time five days a week for writing. I disconnect the phones, (or their ringers, anyway) and I don’t answer them-- or my door. Sorry if this seems fanatical, but to do anything with consistency, (something the world doesn’t necessarily rewards and is “just for me”) required fanaticism. I don’t apologize to anyone who knocked on my door, virtual or physical, for making that time scared.

Realistic demands, job, family care, health maintenance and communal obligations will determine how much sacred time you can allow. It can be five minutes a day (meditation, or stretching exercises) or half an hour, or many hours. Realistic self-knowledge will determine if you make it once a week, every other day, or daily. But is must be sacred if you are to live it for the long haul.

Because otherwise, the “I always wanted to but...” will become yet another relic in the half-done, once begun, couldn’t stick it out box of broken promises. Too many of these lying around everywhere, and I resolved not to add to that heap.

The key word for me was Sacred. That was many years ago, and I can vouch that it worked.