Thursday, February 22, 2007
Recent search terms that brought folks here:
Makes perfect sense.
Jewish identity versus practice
Led to my post Toward Jewish Identity.
Children's mad libs
Ah, obviously resulted in the As in Days of Old spoof of "Mad Libs."
Writing on Shabbat
Also makes sense, though I wonder if my Shabbat writing post was at all close to what they were looking for.
Jealous of my husband's biological family
Uh... no idea. None at all. This earns the "Hmm..." Award for this round.
The rabbi detective
Also makes sense.
Dr. Seuss's beliefs
I did a Dr. Seuss parody to announce a Haveil Havalim. Must be it.
Purim, Esther's vulnerability
Did I ever post my Megilat Ester parody? [searching] Yep. Last year.
Is holly berry offensive to Jews
No clue. This earns the Honorable Mention "Hmm..." for this round.
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Now Yid With Lid has taken the same idea and written about not being able to write this week's Haveil Havalim... in this week's Haveil Havalim.
Check it out!
Friday, February 16, 2007
I can't watch the TV show, "24." I used to. I watched the first two seasons and it was Addictive with a capital A. But I'm one of those sensitive souls and after several graphic torture scenes, I said goodbye to the show and haven't tuned in since.
Now it appears I'm not the only one. In the current issue of the New Yorker, an article by Jane Mayer titled "Whatever It Takes" explores the use of torture in the show.
The Parents’ Television Council, a nonpartisan watchdog group, has counted what it says are sixty-seven torture scenes during the first five seasons of “24”—more than one every other show. Melissa Caldwell, the council’s senior director of programs, said, “ ‘24’ is the worst offender on television: the most frequent, most graphic, and the leader in the trend of showing the protagonists using torture.”
Over and over, both protagonists and antagonists use unimaginably cruel torture (Howard Gordon, the show's lead writer calls them "improvisations in sadism") to gain information. Given the recent debate over whether torture - physical or psychological - is an approved method for US troops when dealing with Iraqi insurgents, the show seems to take the side that it's okay, at least when the ends justify the means. The article defines the show's credo as "Everyone breaks eventually." And in every case, except where Bauer himself is tortured, it works.
What are we learning from this? This show is incredibly popular among Jewish bloggers. Does it reflect Jewish values in any way? Or is it popular among Jews because the bad guys get it worse than they give it out in the end?
Is "24" a kind of gritty modern version of Megilat Ester?
While my life's work is tied up in an assumption that most people know the difference between real life and fiction, I am also well aware that values espoused by a fictional story can still influence its audience. In fact, when I write, I depend on that. But my writing perpetuates values of family and human compassion, obligation to self and community and G-d, leaving the world a little better than you found it. What values does 24 perpetuate?
U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and others "had come to voice their concern that the show’s central political premise—that the letter of American law [prohibiting torture] must be sacrificed for the country’s security—was having a toxic effect."
The show's creator, Joel Surnow, a political conservative, is interviewed exensively in the article and shares his views on 24's political leanings as well as his view on the torture scenes, which is pretty well summed up by his comment:
“We’ve had all of these torture experts come by recently, and they say, ‘You don’t realize how many people are affected by this. Be careful.’ They say torture doesn’t work. But I don’t believe that."You can read the full article here:
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
So. Where was I? Tired. And there's a point to this post, actually. Because it's really hard to be creative and write when one is exhausted. But I have to write, have to finish this book. It's way beyond deadline as it is, and I'm only hurting myself by waiting any longer.
This begs the question: How do you write when you don't feel like it?
I know Jack tackled this question not long ago. Today it's my turn.
Back in the days when I took writing classes, I learned the value of the timed free write. Materials needed: timer, pen and paper or computer (preferably working), one writer who doesn't feel like writing. Set timer for 5 minutes. Begin writing. Do not stop until timer beeps (or buzzes or dings or whatever your timer does). Write about anything, everything, whatever is in your head. You can spend five minutes writing the following:
I have no idea what to write about. I have no idea what to write about. I have no idea what to write about. I have no idea what to write about. I have no idea what to write about.
Eventually you'll get bored with that and other words will take their place. The point is, when doing a free write, it doesn't matter what you say or how badly you say it. The point is that you simply write.
True, that doesn't get a book written. But think of the free write as a warmup. Now I go to the manuscript. I reread parts of it, to get myself back into the story. I reread the scene(s) just before where I need to write new material. Then I push through. I start by putting one word in front of another. Which character speaks first? What does s/he say? Does the reader need anything described to make this part of the scene work?
Word by word, it gets written.
And this is the time - the most important time in my opinion - when I do NOT edit as I write. Because editing when I'm pushing through the manuscript will just stall me even further and then I wind up certain that I'll never write another coherent sentence in my life and I should just give up now and go find a job slinging treif burgers.
I just write. Just. Write. Yeah, it may be stilted and awkward, but the next time I come through that scene, I can tweak it and reword things.
And here's the other Big Thing to remember: I love my editor. I love her because she's my safety net. The times when I had to slog through and never could find a good way to say something, she'll find and she'll probably have some good ideas. And she'll probably tag a bunch of things I thought were said brilliantly, too, and maybe weren't so much.
Any author out there considering self-publishing, a professional book editor can be your best friend and seriously can make the difference between a mediocre book and an excellent one.
So, that was my free write for today. Seven minutes instead of five, but I took time out to find that link to Jack's site so it evens out. And now, despite the fact that I'm bone tired, I'm going to reread a few scenes and, with one word in front of another, write the book.
Monday, February 12, 2007
That quotation from Under the Tuscan Sun comes to mind:
Q: How's the novel going?
A: Not so well. But the procrastination is coming along fabulously. Soon it will breed abject self-loathing, and then I'll just become a writing machine.
I am TWO scenes away from finishing. TWO!! (Normally the editor in me is apalled by multiple quotation marks, but that one deserved an extra.) I've surpassed 80,000 words. Which is a good thing, really, if you think about it, because once my editor has me cut all the
As it happens, I have been smiled upon and my otherwise busy week has been reduced to lots and lots of writing time. So it is my goal, my stated public goal, that I will FINISH THE BOOK THIS WEEK. And then I can get on with the rest of my life.
By the way, I have had just an awesome time writing Arik's character. More than I thought I would, though he's had me doing hours upon hours of research so I can get his dialog right. Back when I was learning Hebrew daily, hours a day, I got to the point where I was dreaming in Hebrew. And then two years of other schooling followed closely by the birth of two children and now my six-year-old knows more Hebrew than I do. It's shameful, I tell you. The next local ulpan that offers child care and costs less than $100, I'll be the first to sign up.
Anyway, back to Arik. I have decided (or he has decided for me), that there's a good chance part of Book 3 will be told from his point of view (POV). That stresses me out a bit for all sorts of reasons. Aside from the Hebrew barrier, and the fact that I didn't grow up in Israel, and the whole cultural piece he carries with him, it also means I get to learn about gun safety, how to tell if it's safe, how to make it safe if it isn't, how to fire one. Husby has said when the time is right, he can get me lesson(s) through a university or reputable gun dealer. I was actually thinking about asking Minneapolis Police for their recommendation, as well as a ride-along. After Book 2 comes out and they love it, of course!
For now, the goal is just to finish and get the manuscript to my editor. Enough procrastination. Bring on the coffee and let's get to work!
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Thanks also to SoccerDad, as always, for keeping Haveil Havalim going and coming up with such a brilliant idea in the first place! Anyone with a Jewish blog can submit articles at the Blog Carnival.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
I found this while I was wandering around the Net, probably started as a meme. But I liked it and am rather surprised by my answers.
Things I have done are in bold. Comments are in italics.
- Bought everyone in the bar a drink
- Swam with wild dolphins
- Climbed a mountain
- Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
- Been inside the Great Pyramid
- Held a tarantula
- Taken a candlelit bath with someone
- Said “I love you” and meant it
- Hugged a tree
- Bungee jumped
- Visited Paris
- Watched a lightning storm at sea
- Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
- Seen the Northern Lights
- Gone to a huge sports game
- Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
- Grown and eaten your own vegetables
- Touched an iceberg
- Slept under the stars
- Changed a baby’s diaper
- Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
- Watched a meteor shower
- Gotten drunk on champagne
- Given more than you can afford to charity
- Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
- Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
- Had a food fight
- Bet on a winning horse
- Asked out a stranger
- Had a snowball fight
- Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
- Held a lamb
- Seen a total eclipse of the moon
- Ridden a roller coaster
- Hit a home run
- Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
- Adopted an accent for an entire day - and convinced someone!
- Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
- Had two hard drives for your computer
- Visited all 50 states
- Taken care of someone who was drunk
- Had amazing friends
- Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
- Watched wild whales
- Stolen a sign
- Backpacked in Europe
- Taken a road-trip
- Gone rock climbing
- Midnight walk on the beach
- Gone sky diving
- Visited Ireland
- Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
- In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
- Visited Japan
- Milked a cow
- Alphabetized your CDs
- Pretended to be a superhero
- Sung karaoke
- Lounged around in bed all day
- Played touch football
- Gone scuba diving
- Kissed in the rain
- Played in the mud
- Played in the rain
- Gone to a drive-in theater
- Visited the Great Wall of China
- Started a business
- Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
- Toured ancient sites
- Taken a martial arts class
- Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
- Gotten married
- Been in a movie - My line was "Toe cleavage?"
- Crashed a party
- Gotten divorced
- Gone without food for 5 days
- Made cookies from scratch
- Won first prize in a costume contest
- Ridden a gondola in Venice
- Gotten a tattoo
- Rafted the Snake River
- Been on television news programs as an “expert”
- Got flowers for no reason
- Performed on stage
- Been to Las Vegas
- Recorded music
- Eaten shark
- Kissed on the first date
- Gone to Thailand
- Bought a house
- Been in a combat zone
- Buried one/both of your parents
- Been on a cruise ship
- Spoken more than one language fluently
- Performed in Rocky Horror
- Raised children
- Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
- Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
- Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
- Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
- Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
- Had plastic surgery
- Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
- Wrote articles for a large publication
- Lost over 100 pounds
- Held someone while they were having a flashback
- Piloted an airplane - a 1929 Stearman biplane, for about five minutes
- Touched a stingray
- Broken someone’s heart
- Helped an animal give birth
- Won money on a T.V. game show
- Broken a bone
- Gone on an African photo safari
- Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
- Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol - I’ll be taking lessons soon!
- Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
- Ridden a horse
- Had major surgery
- Had a snake as a pet
- Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
- Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
- Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
- Visited all 7 continents
- Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
- Eaten kangaroo meat
- Eaten sushi
- Had your picture in the newspaper
- Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
- Gone back to school
- Touched a cockroach
- Eaten fried green tomatoes
- Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
- Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
- Killed and prepared an animal for eating
- Skipped all your school reunions
- Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
- Been elected to public office
- Written your own computer language
- Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
- Had to put someone you love into hospice care
- Built your own PC from parts
- Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
- Had a booth at a street fair
- Dyed your hair
- Been a DJ
- Shaved your head
- Caused a car accident
- Saved someone’s life
"As rabbis of Conservative Judaism begin work on a new, ethically motivated food certification, they are coming under attack from a number of Orthodox kosher authorities."
This from the most recent edition of The Forward, in an article called "Orthodox Slam Effort To Monitor Conditions at Kosher Factories" by Nathaniel Popper.
If you've been following the issue, serious concerns about the treatment of workers in the kosher food processing plant in Postville, IA led the Conservative movement, represented by a task force of rabbis with personal experience at the AgriProcessor plant, to create a supplementary hechsher to attest to the fact that not only were animals treated according to strict halacha in how they were raised and slaughtered, but also that those who work in the plant doing the slaughtering weren't inhumanely treated either.
"Lederman and his committee have been adamant that any new certification would be a supplement, not a replacement, for current kosher certification that looks solely at the process of food preparation. But this argument appears to hold little sway with Orthodox critics." (emphasis mine)
Condemnation of the Conservative movement's insistence that we are morally responsible not only for animal rights but also human rights in the production of the very food we are required by Jewish law to eat (if we eat meat) appeared in both the recent issue of the Jewish Press and also Kosher Today, the industry's trade publication.
The rabbinic administrator for Central Rabbinical Congress (Hisachdus Horabbonim), which is leading the opposition, has told kosher companies not to even let Conservative rabbis into their plants.
The Orthodox Union, the largest kosher supervision organization, has not taken sides, but indicated human or worker's rights issues should be left to the government, not the rabbinate.
Some Orthodox believe this entire issue will serve only to drive a wedge between Orthodox and Conservative Jews, far more than even the recent controversial decision regarding openly gay and lesbian rabbis.
You can read the full article here:
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
I understand you want to write about American Judaism and its issues. But why choose a rabbi? If you want readers to see themselves in your book, why didn't you choose a typical American Jew to be the hero?
There are three primary reasons I chose a rabbi as the protagonist.
One is that a rabbi character has more authority within the fictional construct. The possibly controversial opinions of the average person could be summarily dismissed easily enough. But if they're espoused from the bima, or as part of a response to the board, it opens up possibilities for argument and debate and criticism and praise. In other words, CONFLICT, which is always good in novels.
Two is that a rabbi character provides a vehicle to explain Judaism to those unfamiliar with it, without being condescending or boring to those who are well-versed in Judaism. I don't write for a Jewish-only audience for a reason: knowledge is the antidote to ignorance and fear, and I believe, ultimately part of the answer to hate.
I've received dozens of e-mail messages and letters from readers who tell me that they're not Jewish, knew next to nothing about Judaism except that their churches taught that it's obsolete, and after reading this they had a new perspective, a new respect, and they wanted to learn more.
And in one notable case, that she'd been toying with the idea of converting for years, and reading this led her to call the local rabbi and set up a meeting. She said reading my book helped her get over her fear of rabbis, that she hadn't really seen them as human beings with families and foibles. They were just authority figures. (I did warn her that she wouldn't be meeting with David, him being a fictional character and all, and not to expect him when she met with a rabbi. She understood and I gather the meeting went well.)
From average American Jews I've received e-mail and letters and other feedback that they identified with one or more characters, that they learned something they didn't know about Judaism, that what had been boring or too complex in Hebrew school seemed more interesting in the novel and they decided to take a Talmud class or join a Torah study or read more Jewish books.
Three and perhaps most important for me as a writer is that a rabbi character allowed me to explore all aspects of Jewish life, as well as the issues that affect us as a larger human community. In Destined to Choose, I was able to explore the lessons learned – or not – from Tisha b’Av, the effect of the Shoah on today’s kids, work-life balance, and the need for reconciliation in a society that frequently writes off relationships like so much bad debt.
In As in Days of Old, I've been able to explore hate crimes, the struggles of singles in the Jewish community, the power of confrontation and apology, Jewish self-image, and the effects of in-fighting between various Jewish movements.
Book 3 (untitled) will explore domestic violence in the Jewish community, racism, and the importance of Israel to the American Jewish community.
I can show meetings with congregants and the issues they bring in with them. I can show friendships with other rabbis that transcend the inter-movement politics. I can demonstrate some scholarly research. I'm not sure I could have done all that with a representative character of the typical American Jew.
It does mean I have to do my homework. A lot of homework. I'm not to the point yet where I can churn out a book a year because it typically takes two years to research a book. I hope as my knowledge and skill progress (and with my kids in school), and with the encouragement and support of readers, I'll be able to finish books faster.
Thanks for the question!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
But that's not what I wanted to write about.
No, what I wanted to write about was another blog that RenReb linked to: Rabbi Without A Cause. After her glowing recommendation, and being all about PROCRASTINATION mind you, I headed over there and read his response to her post.
I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.
So since I was there and I'm all about PROCRASTINATION lately, I read a few more posts. And a few more after that. And then when I was done reading every post he'd written and I still wanted to read more, I figured I ought to say something.
I was going to post a comment to one of his posts, and I got as far as pulling up the comment screen and then I stopped cold. What in the world was I going to say?
Hi, I'm a big fan can you sign my blog for me?
Pathetic. I can do better than that. But what? I sat and thought and thought and sat and started any number of comments and then gave up. And then I realized I was nervous.
ACK! Nervous?!! I've probably interviewed about two dozen rabbis, half of them in face-to-face conversations, over the past eight years in the course of my research for my rabbi novels. The only rabbi I've ever been nervous around in person is my rabbi (and I suspect he may be slightly surprised and slightly unhappy about that tidbit) but that's a different sort of relationship. With some of the others, I've had serious conversations and not-so-serious conversations and I've not been afraid to argue or joke or warn them - albeit humorously - that anything they say can and will be used against them in a book of fiction.
But none of these rabbis are Orthodox. Because when I asked around for willing victims, er... subjects for interviews, there was serious concern and no volunteers. Concerns ran the gamut from:
- I'm not Orthodox myself, to
- I might misrepresent Orthodoxy as presented by my interviewee and my offer to have him review the manuscript was insufficient, to
- Fiction in general and creative license in particular are inappropriate, to my favorite one,
- It is inappropriate for a female non-Orthodox Jew to write about a male Orthodox rabbi
So I did a ton of reading and observing and I made one up. Well, three actually. But only one will be a recurring character.
Now here I am at RWAC's blog, wanting to say hi I like your blog, but wanting to say more than that too, and all I can think of are these four arguments for why my request for interviews went unfulfilled.
Don't get me wrong: I don't think he'd be offended by my leaving a comment or by my enjoyment of his blog. I don't think. I haven't confirmed this yet. But I'm pretty sure not.
What does make me hesitate is turning the perspective around. While my comment(s) may be welcome, would what I do be offensive? (Nobody needs to answer that; I like my delusions of total acceptance.)Of course, this post is going to totally blow that out of the water.
It does bring up enormous issues of the role of fiction in Jewish life, the clear preference for non-fiction over fiction within the Jewish community, questions about the value of Jewish artists within the Jewish community, and the sheer audacity that someone (me) would represent non-Orthodox movements as legitimate and valid expressions of Judaism. Whether I agree with any of those expressions or not.
So, I've got mixed feelings over here about what to put in a comment, but I really do enjoy his blog and no matter what your leaning, it's worth checking out. Besides, he's an awesome writer (I know a little something about that) with a humorous, conversational tone that leaves you - well, me anyway - feeling like it's an informal chat over tea some Sunday afternoon. It's well worth the trip.
Rabbi David Cohen is the main protagonist in the series and a Conservative rabbi at the fictional Beth Israel synagogue in Minneapolis, MN who leans about as far right as one can go within the Conservative movement and still remain egalitarian. David entered the rabbinate one semester and a dissertation short of a Ph.D. in clinical/counseling psychology after he found himself drawing from Judaism for all of his class projects. His father was a Shoah (Holocaust) survivor with multiple severe health problems; his mother died of a pulmonary embolism after giving birth to his younger sister, Naomi. He grew up in Milwaukee WI, living with his father, sister, and maternal grandparents. Though his first loves are family and Torah, he occasionally takes on challenges that get him into one form of trouble or another, especially when with his friend Arik.
Sara Cohen is David's wife and a stay-at-home mom to their three children. A former real-estate agent, Sara was raised non-observant and remains self-conscious about her lack of Jewish learning growing up. Sara has lived on the periphery of shul life until events lead her to want to take a more active role in both the shul and her husband's career.
Ben Cohen is the eldest of Sara and David's children, age eight in Destined to Choose. He simultaneously idolizes and resents his father and blames his father's job for the time it takes away from their family.
Jonathan and Judy Cohen are Sara and David's twins, four years younger than Ben.
Naomi Cohen is David's sister. Fiercely non-religious, she is a defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA and prefers little to no contact with David, despite his attempts to the contrary.
Rabbi Batya Zahav is a Reform rabbi at the fictional Temple Shalom in Minneapolis, MN and a friend of David's. Batya grew up Orthodox and rebelled in high school. When she announced her plans to become a rabbi in the Reform movement, her parents declared her dead and said Kaddish for her. Knowing David's personality and psychology background, Batya sought him out to help her cope while she worked to reconcile with her parents. She is firmly committed to the Reform movement and believes patrilineal descent may hold the answer to the end of antisemitism.
Arik Zahav is Batya's husband, David's only non-rabbi friend, and a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department. Born and raised in Israel, Arik came to the States on a sports scholarship after his army duty, met Batya, and decided to stay. After working several years in the domestic abuse unit, Arik made the move to homicide because, as he says, he "was tired of seeing the torture in action." Intensely secular, Arik tolerates religion and fails to see its relevance to his life. He first met David when he almost arrested him.
Rabbi Eli Lowenstein is David's study partner from rabbinical school and one of his closest friends. Eli has a pulpit at the fictional Am Echad synagogue in Spokane, WA and jokes that he needs to get his excitement by hearing what trouble David has gotten himself into. He is remarried after divorce and has a teenage daughter, Danielle, by his ex-wife.
Bev Lowenstein is Eli's second wife and well-loved by their congregation. She loves to cook, entertain, and teach all things domestic.
Talia Friedmann is the wife of a rabbi who teaches at several Twin Cities MN universities. She is a close friend of Sara's and considers herself a "free agent rebbetzin."
Rabbi Shimon Gerson is an Orthodox rabbi and a friend of David's who "agrees to disagree" on their differences, and is about to become quite a bit more important in David's life.
John Clausen is a pastor at the fictional Calhoun Lutheran Church in Minneapolis MN, an advocate of dual-covenant theology, and a friend and colleague of David's.
When I created this ensemble, I wanted to illustrate the struggles that rabbis have, both with their congregants and with Jewish tradition and law. I wanted to give readers something they could relate to, the possibility of seeing themselves on the pages. To that end, I tried to represent different perspectives and motivations while creating characters that were fresh, unique, and entirely human.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Okay, that might be just a tiny bit biased coming from me, but reviewers and readers alike have loved it, so I'm in good company.
Barbara has a new blog for those who love children's books here:
Please drop by and say hi.
This blog is NOT—neither the posts I want to put up about my books nor this blog in its entirety—I repeat NOT a hard sell or an attempt to get you to buy my book.
Of course, if you WANT to buy it, I've made links available in the sidebar. :-)
But that's not the point of this blog. The point is to talk about writing (especially fiction) and Judaism, about Jews and the literary arts, about Jewish expression through writing.
Through the medium of fiction, I also invite talk about conversations and dialogs between the various movements, about what it means to honor diversity among Jews, about how the way we present ourselves to each other and the world has an impact even if we don't see it.
I don't claim to have any answers. But I welcome the opportunity to explore the questions.
A caveat: anti-Jewish, anti-Israel, antisemitic, and let's be honest, anti-me comments will be deleted. This is my blog, after all, and comments that bash what I love have no place here. I do welcome differing, even opposing, opinions, but let's keep it respectful.
As I wrote here in Toward Jewish Identity,
B'ruchim haba'im. I hope you enjoy and are willing to contribute to the dialog.
"The Talmud (both Babylonian and Jerusalem) was wise enough to include dissenting opinions, even when the majority or history or innovation or even common sense produced the prevailing opinion. At no point did the holders of the prevailing opinion question the very Jewishness of the dissenters. (Their logic, values, or ability to read, maybe, but not their identities.)
"I frequently look to the contributors of the Talmud for inspiration, and I’m reminded that it would not even exist as we know it today were it not for their courage, creativity, humility, and willingness to take an unpopular stand but always continue the dialog."
The Return of the Rabbi Detective
My Characters Made Me Cry
Book Burning: History Repeats Itself
Who's Paranoid Now?
Writing and Shabbat
Question Regarding Rebbetzins: Need Anonymous Help Please
On Israel: Hope, Safety, Identity, Existence
On Books and Beliefs:
Dear Rabbi, Merry Christmas - An Excerpt
Do You Blog Like You Talk?
When I have the energy, I'll put up some posts about my first book, some behind-the-scenes info that hardly anybody knows, maybe a few character bios, why this series is unlike anything else out there, and why I think that's so important. Enjoy!
Sunday, February 04, 2007
What is HAVEIL HAVALIM?
Correct! You win 100 puppy nuggets. Congratulations!
Since I am so close, that means it's time for... (kulam!): MORE PROCRASTINATION!
Of my many talents, procrastination is one of my most perfected.
Okay, so here's the scoop: back in August, we adopted an 18-month-old jet black Lab/Chow mix. We took her camping a week later. She was awesome.
Until she snapped at Youngest Son (3-1/2). Granted, Youngest Son stepped on her, but still... Over the next couple of months, she occasionally snapped and bit at everyone in the family without warning, and, it became obvious, without provocation. Twice she drew blood.
I enrolled her in obedience training and we had to spend most of the class in the hallway because she was so dog aggressive that she couldn't be around other dogs, something that was NOT evident when we adopted her. The trainer referred us to a vet behaviorist, who suggested the dog might have been abused before we got her, would need a lot of time and attention and training and was probably best suited for a home without children.
The tension in the house grew and when she snapped at Oldest Son (6) when he was reaching for a pair of his socks from the laundry basket three feet away from her, I'd had enough. The kids were afraid of her, I'd been bit enough that I didn't want to pet her, and Husby was the only one who could handle her without ready treats. With heavy heart and even greater relief, we took her back to the shelter.
But we really wanted a dog. Despite the aversion many Jews have to dogs, we REALLY wanted a dog. And since I'm home so much avoiding work... er... I mean working SO HARD, and Husby grew up with dogs, and honestly, a would-be intruder might think twice if we had a dog, we went looking. And we found him:
A ten-week-old Golden Retriver/something mix, he is just as sweet as can be. (And yes, that's a photo of him outside in the snow, where the temperature is six below zero and feels like TWENTY-SIX BELOW with wind chill. In other words, darn cold!)
No signs of aggression, and he's young enough that there's no bad history and we can socialize him appropriately to people and other dogs. Oldest Son named him "Nugget" (as in gold nugget), which also happens to be the name of a Golden Retriever mix that lived next door to me when I was growing up. It's one of those come full circle kinds of things.
So, now I'm enjoying new-puppy-owner bliss while I procrastinate. Just a few minutes playing with the puppy, and then I'll get back to work. Really. Honest.
Thursday, February 01, 2007
Husby jokes that I have a sadistic streak, that I get some perverse pleasure out of making their lives not only difficult but sometimes downright impossible. I have a slightly different view. I ask them to give something of themselves that they're not sure they have. I know they can, but I created them, after all. I know just how far I can push them. But they don't know, and growth is often painful.
Last night I finished writing a major scene, the big near-book-end conflict. I've been imagining this playing out for the past couple of weeks, though I wasn't sure about the details. This far through a book, I have a general outline (I work from a real calendar) but leave the specifics up to the writing process. Last night's scene didn't happen anything like I thought it would.
I didn't think anyone was going to die.
I didn't think there'd be quite so many injuries.
I thought a different character was going to bring about the resolution.
At the end of the scene, I literally wanted to hold them. I wanted to apologize for putting them through what I did, but at the same time explain why it was necessary. I didn't get the chance.
Because before I could do anything, they reached out to each other.
And I cried.