Category Archives: My Life

The Amazing Jewish Book Fair Ride

 Don’t forget; Jewish people read an enormous amount,” my lovely (and Jewish) literary agent said before my book launch. “We really love books.”

I nodded. Yes, I knew that—at least I knew it inasmuch as I was Jewish and I read—as did my mother, my sister, and my daughters, but could I raise that sample to the status of landslide? Discerning what was true in my culture was fraught with difficulty. I grew up with a slight case of anomie, surrounded by a cultural belief that all-things-Jewish=equals families-pushing-one-towards-great-achievement, while, among other family oddities, my grandmother taught me to shoplift.

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Woman vs Man Preparing for Book Launch & Events



Woman: weeks (months?) getting ready for book launch.
Buy new dress.
Return dress.
Decide to wear edgy jagged-hem blouse.
Realize anyone using word ‘blouse’ is too old for edgy.

Pick  black dress from among 12 similar black dresses in closet.
Try 12 similar schmattas (aka shrugs, cardigans, wraps) to cover upper arms.

Spends hour trying on necklaces to enhance neckline.

Remembers Bobbi Brown admonition to women of a certain age: Color near face for brightening!!!

Buys scarf of every color.


Looks for best arrangement of said scarves to
a) Hide neck wattle
b) Brighten!! (see above)
c) Prevent scarf-induced hot flash.

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Also posted in Book Tour, Cultural Politics, My Opinionated Self, promotion | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

How Jobs Taught Me What To Write

wordificator (2) Our writer’s code, written into our secret writer club rules, remind us that day jobs stand between us and a published novel. I understand. For years I thought if only and when and someday. And yes, working one, two, three jobs at a time took a big bite out of what would certainly have been my fast track to a Pulitzer. But slogging through, learning at, loving, and hating a number of jobs, that’s what formed and hold up my novels.

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Love me! Read me! Buy me! Writer’s Fear-Clenching Book Launch Thoughts

 

Book launch day shoots towards me like an asteroid.

Three weeks.

Not ready.

Almost-final drafts of essays surround me. Fear, sleeplessness, and worry consume me. I won’t get reviewed. I will get reviewed—but they will all hate me. I have nothing to wear to events. Okay, I do have stuff to wear, but nothing will fit, since I can’t stop eating.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter, since no one will come to my launch readings.

Okay. My husband will come. (That’s a law, right?)

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Not Our Shame

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With every listen, the Trump sex assault tape sounds worse. Every syllable engenders feelings of being small and wretched and humiliated. I search for the genesis of these emotions, for the source of my desire to curl up into an invisible ball.

And the truths wash in:

The time my neighbor’s boyfriend covered my six-year-old crotch with his (fifty? sixty?) year-old fingers, inserting them through the fabric, while giving me a swim lesson in Coney Island. My shame, even now, floods back. My shame. My sister was with me. We were two little girls.

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Also posted in Cultural Politics, Domestic Violence, My Opinionated Self, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

How Long Does it Take to Get Published?

Recently, a thread in an online writer’s community popped up, beginning with someone (who hadn’t begun querying) asking why folks sent query letters to so many agents.

Did they have that many “dream agents?

Why not send to just one or two top choices?

And, really, how long does it take?

Answers flew in—achingly honest and reminiscent of everyone’s distant and not-at-all-distant (often painful) publishing journeys.  I thought back to how long it took me.

The answer? You got some time?

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My Father Bought Me Pretty Shoes

dad 3

I dreaded Father’s Day as a child. Every year (during those far less aware days) we were asked to make a card for our father as a classroom project. My father died when I was nine, so from that day forward I made cards for my grandfather, embarrassed by my lack.

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Also posted in Family | Tagged | 30 Comments

Food and Loathing and Hamper Cookies

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Everyone hates a fat woman. Or is it that a fat woman thinks everyone hates her? Or does a fat woman simply hate herself?

As someone who’s measured her worth in dress sizes, waistbands, and, when in the midst of bravery, the hard-core truth of pounds, I’ve felt all of the above. We are a harsh country, filled with both self-loathing and a Calvinist push towards walking off, dieting away, running away from, and when all else fails, surgically sucking out unwanted fat.

Do men suffer as women do? I’m not sure. I don’t think so, not as much—not when fat men on screen are allowed to bed and wed women as lovely as Katherine Heigl. I think being fat is painful for men. I simply don’t think they’re as reviled; they need to climb far higher up the scale to merit as much hate as heavy women.

I recently re-read (even re-bought, when I couldn’t find my copy) Food and Loathing by Betsy Lerner. From far too young, Lerner’s existence rested on her body size—real and perceived. The book begins thusly:

“It is 1972. I am twelve years old. It is the first day of sixth grade, and I am standing in the girls’ gymnasium waiting to be weighed.”

 

If your flesh doesn’t crawl with those words, if you don’t want to either go running for a cream cheese smothered bagel, or conversely, vow to stop eating as of tomorrow, this book will still

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Que Será, Será

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At first writing seems the perfect job for a control freak. You are alone. At your desk. Making your very own world.These characters you’ve dreamed up, they JUMP when you say JUMP. Okay, perhaps they squirm away from your outline a bit. Or they do that thing where they start musing about the time in high school when they almost dated that awful guy and didn’t he have the worst clothes ever, and you gotta pull them back—but for the most part, everyone know who’s in charge.

Enjoy this.

Make it last.

Do not go to the next step until you are sure you have done all you can to make the greatest book you could dream up, write down, and edit.

Because now comes the part where the control freak in you might just freak out .

Let’s see. Take this simple test to determine how much you’ll enjoy experience of getting published:

1) When I need someone to help me take an important professional step, I like to:

a) Send out endless emails and letters to complete strangers so they can judge me!

b) Conduct extensive research to identify the best 35 candidates, hoping this will ensure a good match.

c) Pick the one person I want to work with based on my carefully formed opinions.

2) After procuring an agent (see above) I want to find a publisher based on:

a) Hey, whoever is willing to print my words is okay with me! Throw the manuscript  out there and see what sticks! My agent doesn’t even have to tell me who is getting it.

b) Work in tandem with my agent, knowing that ultimately she will make the best choices.

c) Tell my agent exactly who I think will do the best by my book and have her write the letter I’ve dictated.

3) After my book is published, my plan is to:

a) Seeing that book out there is enough! I don’t care what anyone says about it, as long as I can hold a printed copy in my hands.

b) Work with my publicist constantly—knowing that I must also work on my own seven days a week for a while in order to get the attention of readers.

c) Have my publicist get reviews in all the major papers and follow up on every lead I suggest.  Oh, and Oprah before she leaves. My book is PERFECT for her. And Terri Gross. And . . .

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Oh Santa Baby, I Just Can’t Quit You

betty-draper-on-the-couch

Oh, Santa. Baby. How long will our merry go round keep going round? Do  we need couples counseling again this year?

You and I have been in our indescribably on-again-off-again relationship for too long. I’ve been writing about our tortured love for how many years?

In 2011 it was off.

2012, back on again.

In 2013 we acted like friends with benefits.

But it wasn’t enough. Sure I had Adam Sandler for Thankschanukah, but you can’t intersperse dreidels with Christmas cookies and call it one big happy holiday. Thankschanukah is gone, and as my friend’s 3-year-old said as she wept for a Christmas tree (when reminded of her joyous Hanukah celebration)  “But I’m so over Hanukuh!”

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