So last night, I attempted to make chicken schnitzel. (Which tasted pretty good, if I do say so myself.) As a result of my cooking adventures, I am typing with a burned hand. So, I will probably be making this brief. I have decided to throw a book launch party. What better way to celebrate months of hard work finally paying off? This is definitely a cause for food and drinks with everyone around to join together. I don't know all the details, but I have tons of ideas. I know there will be cake and drinks. And I know there will be lots of fun. So, when I know more details, I will certainly post them. Stay tuned!
I promised myself I would not get political on this blog. I am trying hard not to do so, however, today is International Holocaust Memorial Day. As a grandchild of survivors, this day holds a special significance to me. My bubbie and zaidy on my mom's side both lived through the war. My bubbie had three brothers and her mother also survive. Her father and one brother were murdered. My zaidy had his two brothers survive, one of whom lost a wife and child. He also lost a sister. I don't know if I should go into detail here about what they went through. I prefer to remember my bubbie as a happy person. A person full of love for her family, especially her grandchildren. I know that during the war they were transported to Siberia. They had to do all kinds of labour there. One of my great uncles fought in the Polish resistance. I heard stories from my bubbie about friends who were horrifically killed, along with their entire families.
My point is this: Today we are supposed to remember the six million men, women, and children who died at the hands of the Nazis. This time in history is a huge warning to us all about what can happen if we allow our hatred to rear up and take over. It also shows us what can happen if we as a world sit back and allow one group to destroy another. We can not be silent when hatred and fear is allowed to grow. Now, I sit back and I see so many people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. How can we allow ourselves to be silent to this? I have seen my bubbie's identification papers from this time, marked with the star identifying her as a Jew. I have seen the numbers that were tatooed on my great aunt's arm from where she was taken to a camp. I have seen pictures of relatives I will never know. It saddens me that this denial is still going on. My brother went on March of the Living. He saw the remains of the camps, he walked the steps of thsoe who died.
Today I remember the victims of the Holocaust. A terrible event in history that DID happen. No one can ever tell me otherwise.
The folk lore of Eastern Europe is rich with magic and fanciful characters. It is on these things that I write. My world of Hadariah is populated with the skillful and helpful shretelech, the mischievous horse loving kapelyushniklech, the bridge guarding lantech, talking animals. witches, sages, giants, golems, and dybbuks.
While not all of these are in The Strings of the Violin, we will meet many more of them throughout the novels that are in the works and take place in Hadariah. I find it a sad thing that if I were to speak about most of these beings, people would not know what I was talking about. Golems and dybbuks are better known than most, thanks in part to a fairly popular X-Files episode entitled "Kaddish", and dybbuks were brought back with the recent horror film The Unborn starring Gary Oldman as a rabbi. I love the stories and lessons contained therein that came from such countries as Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the magic and superstitions that are peppered throughout are fascinating to me.
I remember being told things like "Don't have the foot of the bed face a doorway or the dybbuks will steal your soul in the night." "Don't put shoes on the table or you will invite the dybbuks into your home." "Sew red thread into your clothes to ward off evil." If I did anything good, or worthy of praise, my bubbie would spit three times to keep bad thoughts and evil at bay. She would tell me stories of how certain people in the towns where she grew up would believe in these characters. I learned of the Golem of Prague, of Asmodeus and his dealings with poor and rich alike.
I want to give these stories a new life and bring these creatures and characters to a new generation of readers. I do not hope to reinvent the wheel, rather what I write is out of love for my background and of where my family came from. I hope you get that from my stories.
I'm having a horrid day. Why? Well, I have the stomach flu. Husband Brian is teaching piano, and there are three crazy teething babies crawling around. I had set three goals for myself today. 1. Edit my new book until at LEAST chapter 15. 2. Do some networking and try and get my first book out there some more. 3. Blog. Nice to see I'm at least getting one of those things done. However, I have a feeling this blog is more like an impromptu venting session. Why vent here? Well, my best friend is in Aruba for another friend's wedding. Husband Brian is teaching piano. My mom's in Boston helping Brother Brian move back into his apartment for his next term at school. (Yes, I married someone with the same name as my brother. No, it's not weird. Why do you ask?) One more minor annoyance that may make me seem mean: I had a couple of voice mails on my phone from a certain someone complaining about how hard it is to have a new baby. A new baby. Singular. One single baby. A little tip for all you people out there. Yes, parenting is hard. There is nothing easy about it. However, if you want to call someone and complain about it, do NOT call the mother of multiples who also happens to have the flu. And when that person does tell you they're ill, do not say "Aw, that's too bad. But my one singular baby spit up on the floor and I am stressed out about it. Boo hoo." (I'm paraphrasing. Slightly.) There is NO sympathy here.
In other news, there are three things that have helped me get through the day so far. They are these:
They're playing with each other! Yay! I can't stay sad when they're being so gosh darn cute! Right?
Phillip being smiley. He's content because he's got ALL the toys, and since he's in the pack 'n play, no one can steal them away from him. So there.
The coolest socks ever? Or the Coolest Socks Ever? This picture better not land me on What Not to Wear because I will fight Stacy and Clinton with my tiny fists of fury to keep these socks. So there. There is nothing wrong with a grown woman wearing rainbow M&M toe socks when she doesn't feel good. Fashion be damned!
P.S. If you feel the need to comment, don't guess who the person who called me was. I know she doesn't read this blog, but you never know. And it wasn't my awesome friend Sandy. She's nice. :)
Today is definitely one of those days. I have far too much to do, and very little time to do it in. So what am I doing about it? Blogging. I suppose that's not the most effective use of my time. I could be going to Costco and restocking my food supply at home, or picking up dog food from the vet, or going to the post office, or the bank, or editing my book. Instead I'm typing stuff up here.
Did you ever feel like you're spinning your wheels in one place and going nowhere fast? That's my day today. I suppose it may be because I'm running on caffeine and less than three hours of sleep, or maybe it's because I've reached a point where I just need to sit back and let things happen. I can't force anything. I have done all I can to further my endeavours and now everything is out in the world, waiting to be discovered. I hate this feeling. It's a total lack of control. I prefer being able to make things happen. I like being able to call up my friends and family to say "Like this." "Tweet that" "Check this out", and now that that's done and I feel I've largely exhausted my network... now what? Within the next few weeks, I will be implementing a Twitter contest to win free things like books and such, so if you don't follow me, do. I will be listed in the CJN's Eye on Arts column, and I hope more stuff will follow, but I just have to do my least favourite thing... wait. Until then... PICTURE!
I have decided to do something a little bit different. I have written a bit of a prequel to The Strings of the Violin. No spoilers of course! Hope you like it.
A Fox's Trouble
Adom sighed exasperatedly. He rubbed a tawny paw over his eyes, his tail twitching in agitation. He swore the young prince would one day be the death of him. He remembered coming to the palace after learning etiquette, court procedure, and all the laws of the land. He had been told that his position would be as tutor to the prince. It would be his job to ensure that the prince learn all he must know in order to one day rule the Kingdom of the Light. Adom had anticipated an easy job. He had pictured the prince to be a quiet, well-behaved young man. Or at least that was how he had appeared when he had first met his charge. Now he understood that to have been an act. The prince was truly a hooligan. It took all Adom's energy and patience to keep the boy in line. There was nothing he could do to make him listen. At only ten years of age, the raven haired prince was nothing but trouble. He seemed to contain endless reserves of energy and mischievousness. He was always going missing, never where he should be.
That day, Adom had been trying to teach the prince all about how to behave at a ball. On their way to the palace's ballroom, the prince had escaped Adom's sight and was now missing. He had searched everywhere. The boy was nowhere to be found. He was not in the stables, the gardens, his bedroom, the fencing room, he had simply vanished. Adom sighed once more. He knew the prince had a good heart. He had seen examples of his kindness. He was always asking after his tutor's well-being, bringing him little tokens from his adventures, treating him as a member of his small family. Yet, this wild streak had to be curbed if he were to become a king worthy of his subjects. Adom did not know how this was to be achieved. He walked through the palace corridors once more looking for his wayward charge. He crept down towards the servants' quarters and the kitchen and heard the noise of two soft child-like voices speaking.
"You must do as I say!" came the whine of a young boy. "I am to be king!"
"Yes," replied his companion. "However, you are not king yet."
Adom peered around the corner and saw the prince speaking to a young girl. She looked to be around nine years of age. Her silver hair was pulled into two braids and her amethyst eyes flashed with amusement at the prince's pout.
"What do you know?" the prince said angrily. "You are nothing but the cook's daughter."
"I know a lot more than you," the girl replied. "I bet I could run the whole land better than you ever could!"
"Could not!" the prince shouted, stamping his foot indignantly. "I am studying to be king."
"Really? Than why am I always hearing of you running away from Adom? I bet you have not paid a bit of attention to any of your lessons."
The prince crossed his arms across his chest and snorted in annoyance. "Etiquette is stupid. What does using the right fork have to do with ruling Hadariah anyway?"
"It has to do with not offending the dinner guests who wish to trade with you," Adom answered, choosing that moment to enter the room.
The prince jumped in fear. He flushed red at being caught and looked down at his tutor. "Sorry for running off again," he murmured.
Adom nodded. "Try not to let it happen again," he chided his young charge.
The prince nodded. "Okay," he said.
The girl smiled at the prince. "Here," she said, handing him a cinnamon biscuit. "If you listen to your tutor, I'll give you more."
The prince broke out into a large grin. "Okay!" he said. "I'll come back and visit again. Maybe, if your mom lets you, I can take you to see my horse!"
"I'd like that," the girl answered with a smile. She turned and ran off, eager to tell her mother.
The prince and Adom walk back to the library together, the prince in thoughtful silence.
"What is on your mind?" Adom asked him.
"Am I really going to be a bad king?" the prince asked.
"Not if you pay attention to your lessons," Adom answered with a smile.
"Then I will," the prince answered. He paused again before continuing, "must I marry a princess?"
"There is no official law about it," Adom answered.
The prince nodded. "Good," he said.
"You are only ten years old. You still have much time before you need to worry about such things. Why do you ask?" Adom asked him.
"Because I have decided, I will marry the cook's daughter!" the prince proclaimed. "She seems smart and I like her."
Adom shook his head in consternation. "You like her because she gave you a treat," he said. He rolled his eyes. He knew he should not worry too much about this. The prince would probably change his mind several times before he even went to bed.
For the first time, Adom was wrong about the prince. He studied hard, doing everyone proud, and ten years later, he was present and filled with pride for his charge as he made the cook's daughter his queen.
So a few years ago, I got it into my head that I should try acting professionally. I loved to do it for fun, why not give it a try and see if I could succeed? I had a couple of crappy auditions, and finally... bang! I actually landed a paying gig. The thing was, it was for a music video, and I was supposed to be a dancer in it. I don't dance. Well, I should qualify that as I don't dance well. I can sort of count out beats and theoretically follow them, but if it gets more complicated than that, I better have a lot of space around me, or else I may hurt the more talented and qualified people around me. I am not being over dramatic. I have actually punched someone (accidentally) at a call back. So I went to the filming of this video with knots in my stomach and several outfit options for the people in wardrobe. I felt slightly less nervous when I found out I was cast as an office worker and had to wear a pant suit. How hard could the dance be if I had to do it in a suit? Right? Thank goodness it wasn't overly difficult and I didn't have to look to professional. The story of the video was this: The band was on a roof and tapped into the city's radio feed. Their song infects people with either funk, or music, or weirdness and we become possessed and dance like zombies. I shrugged and went with it. We didn't get to really meet the band, which was called McFly (they're huge in Europe I'm told.) but their front man Danny came to say "Hi" and was really sweet. The other fake office workers and I hung out for several hours and ate cheese cubes from the craft service truck and then we shot our scene. I learned that day that I much prefer theatre. You rehearse for days, but the audience is right there and giving you feedback each night. But I can say I tried, and I have a lovely video that's on YouTube and on television somewhere. Enjoy! I'm the redhead in the pink jacket at some kind of board meeting. (We're actually playing hangman.)
It's list time!
One of the things I'm asked a lot is "what's your favourite book?" Well, there's just no simple answer to that. I have favourites in each genre. Since my novel is a fantasy novel, I'll answer that one today. What's my favourite fantasy novel? I have a few, and if any of you are looking for a good book, you can't go wrong with any of the ones on this list. Seriously, if you haven't read any of these, run, not walk to your nearest book store or library. So here is my list in no particular order:
So, that is my list. Tell me what you think. I realize looking at it that I tend to gravitate towards sad books. I think I used the word 'heartbreaking' a lot. Huh. Yet, I consider myself to be a happy person. Weird. Also, I realize I cheated. Some of the books are actually several in one. Oh well.
This is either me being very productive, or procrastinating doing edits on the first draft of the sequel. I'll pretend it's the former (but we all really know it's the latter). So, here's the news: I got the first draft of my press release and made some changes to it to make it better reflect what I want people to get out of my book. It's so funny to hear what other people say about your work. What they feel is important is sometimes quite the reverse of what you thought was the point of what you were writing. This is not to say that you weren't clear, it's just reading and writing are so subjective. For example, I thought that the fact that my story was based around Jewish and Eastern European folklore was something that set it apart from most other fantasy novels. The people in the press department thought that the fact that my protagonists were all girls was most important. Huh. So, we decided to add a line in their 'Yay! Girl power!' press release to say something about the folklore, and now everyone's happy.
In other news, the boys were mad that so far only Hailey made it into my blog. They feel they have important things to say as well. Here they are:
So I have received the hard copies of The Strings of the Violin. It's real everybody! I know it was real before. But just being able to hold a physical solid book in my hand is such an amazing feeling! I will admit to having a very dorky moment and doing a spastic happy dance when I got them. I say spastic, because, well, I don't dance. People say I can, but really... no. I'm the person who accidentally punched someone in the face trying to execute a spin during a dance audition for a production of How To Succeed in Business Without Even Trying. Needless to say, I didn't get the part.
Anyway, I got my softcover, and hardcover copies and have looked through them. I am thoroughly excited! In other news, I am in the midst of editing the sequel to The Strings of the Violin. Yes, I have a title in mind. No, I can't tell you yet. Why? Well, I'm flip flopping between two choices. To tell you what they are may constitute spoilers for the first book. Okay, I'll give you a hint. The first choice is this: The D*****'* M*****. The second choice is: The D*****'* R******. See? Spoilers.
So, stay tuned for more information on all fronts.