A review of Phyllis Chesler's new book, A Politically Incorrect Feminist
Monday, September 10, 2018
No political/social movement can be launched nor hurled forward by the faint-of-hearts. The second wave feminism required no less gumption and fierceness than the first wave. The first-wave feminism—that of the suffragists who won for women the rights to vote and own property—surged with the second wave, which started in the 1960’s and gained momentum in the 1970’s. It sought to broaden women’s rights to equality in family, sexuality and employment and sounded the battle cry for fights in areas unique to women such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, marital rape, paid maternity leave, sexual harassment, affordable child care, and changes in divorce and custody laws.
Paradoxically, civil rights, students’ rights and labor unions often failed to include women within their leadership ranks, nor did they give credence to women’s issues in either their ideologies or policies until feminists fought them internally to be heard and included.
While in this excellent book Phyllis Chesler claims to not have written the history of second wave feminism, she nevertheless does so through her own eyes and personal experiences that were deeply intertwined with the fabric of the movement. She recounts her involvement with almost every aspect of this gut-wrenching years-long struggle, and most importantly, offers an intimate introduction of the many players—their strengths and weaknesses, idiosyncrasies and yes, madness. The battles that raged on the road to women’s liberation were not only against the male hierarchy and dominance of political and social views that held women as childish, given to hormonal fluctuations, and incapable of thinking straight, but also internally. The fire in the belly that fueled feminists’ fervor and made them effective in ultimately achieving many of the movement’s goals burned also in the intensity of their diverse worldviews that often targeted other women. Backstabbing, public shaming, envy and demands for conformity crippled many talented women leaders. Many fell by the wayside, slunk away to lick the wounds inflicted not by their powerful male opponents and their centuries-old beliefs, but rather by their colleagues and fellow Amazonians—often close friends—right inside the movement and in the many organizations that sprouted within it.
Luckily, Phyllis Chesler is one who remained standing through it all, albeit not unscathed. Her personal achievements as a psychologist who confronted the entire industry and forced it to change its perceptions and treatment of women patients is documented not only in this book, but in the astounding success of her ground-breaking book, Women and Madness (a book that was followed by over a dozen other best-sellers, each stepping into arenas no one had ever dared enter before.) Time and again, Chesler paid a personal price when she became the target of envy by those who did not wish to see stars rising within the feminist movement, by those who held the paradoxical idea that for true equality women should not publish over their own bylines (an unimagined demand to be made from male writers,) or by early Lesbians who discredited heterosexual women who chose to marry and become mothers as Chesler did. The reasons for rancor could be many—or any—as Chesler analyzed in her book Women’s Inhumanity to Women, and as I experienced years later in a mini version when I traveled for three weeks with a group of fifty women to the 1995 International Women’s Conference in Beijing: Environmentalists against those who brought plastic forks; blue-collar working women against executives; Lesbians against heterosexuals; non-Jews against Jews; women of color against Caucasians; West Coast women against “Yankees”; health-conscious against coffee-drinkers….
Yes, reading the book reveals that indeed, the movement was created by “bitches, lunatics, prodigies and warriors,” as the subtitle describes. Yet, overall, they were Wonder Women, because they lurched our society forward into the changes of the late 20th century and early 21st century—and to what we are now experiencing as the “third-wave feminism.”
I was younger, yet growing up across the ocean I was unaware of any of these developments when I cultivated my own brand of feminist ideas—and was labeled by some friends “a castrating female.” Later, in New York, when I was drawn into a vicious custody battle, the judge listened to the argument that I should not be allowed to raise my two baby daughters because I had attended a conscious-raising seminar, and as my former marriage counselor—a renowned psychologist—testified against me because I was “a feminist.” At the same time, the judge refused to put into evidence my lawyer’s presentation of the father’s passport proving that he traveled two to three weeks each month. Reading Phyllis Chesler’s book I recalled how, a new immigrant to the USA, I had sought out someone who could explain this. I checked with the local university, where I was studying for my masters’ degree, but in those days of pre- “Women Studies,” which Professor Chesler helped introduce, I couldn’t even articulate what kind of an expert I was looking for. Phyllis Chesler, a psychotherapist and a warrior, and the author of Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody, would have been perfect.
The reluctance of women to acknowledge greatness and give credit to feminists who have paved the way for us continues. Several years ago I proposed to the Women National Book Association to honor Phyllis Chesler, a prolific author of eighteen books that changed the landscape of our society and helped shape for the better the lives of millions of women, to receive the Association’s yearly award. Her candidacy was rejected because she was “too controversial.” Controversial because, as she describes in A Politically Incorrect Feminist she demands that American feminists take a stand against the subjugation and brutality that is the lot of hundreds of million women in Muslim countries. Controversial because her unique research of “honor killing” in Western countries of daughters of Muslim families that shame their families by assimilating into Western culture or dare refuse arranged marriages is perceived as politically incorrect against Islam.
Yes, “the personal is political,” and this book that charts the bravery and valor of so many amazing women has inspired me anew to fight for women’s rights and dignity both at home and abroad.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
By Talia Carner
Author Talia Carner's novels are heart-wrenching suspense dealing with social issues. Please read the first chapter of each on her website at www.TaliaCarner.com .
This Passover, as we celebrate our ancestors’ freedom from slavery, we reconnect through our most important holiday with our centuries-long traditions. It is incumbent upon us to contemplate the broader concept of freedom and what it means to us as individuals, as members of our immediate communities, and as members of the community of Jews across the globe.
Throughout history, Passover has also been a time of increased blood libels and pogroms against Jews. While Jews celebrated freedom and showed benevolence toward fellow humans, they were reminded how hated they were—hatred so strong that it “justified” killing them by the dozens, thousands, and millions. In these days, as a new wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping over the globe, gathering tsunami-like power, it lands right in Manhattan's UN building. The global Jew-hate fest from Venezuela to Spain—and renewed in Poland—has metastasized into leading universities, mainstream media, civic organizations, and even Western governments. The tale of the Haggadah we read at the Seder stands to remind us that hate comes knocking on our door first with words, then with economic and academic boycotts, then with biased UN resolutions, and, as in the past, it may end with guns, bombs and incinerators.
Passover also marks spring in our ancient agrarian society, a beginning of a cycle of life, with the blooming of trees and the planting of vegetables and flowers. Spring’s fresh start and the tradition of inviting others to share our bounty at the Passover table reminds us of Israel’s extraordinary achievements in agriculture and science—efficiencies, discoveries and inventions she has shared for decades with over 120 countries to help nourish children, improve global food production, and wipe out starvation.
While these past seventy years Israelis—both civilians and soldiers—have given each Jew everywhere reasons to walk tall and proud, their existential threat from Iran is real.
“Every Jew should consider himself as if he was freed from slavery,” says the Haggadah we read tonight. In today’s climate we should add that “Every Jew should consider himself as if he’s just escaped a terrorist bomb.” There but for the grace of God and twist of history, we would not have been spared the wrath and bombs of Palestinians or extreme Muslim murderers taking shelter in our sacred freedom. Let’s give our prayers and charity to the families who have suffered unimaginable, senseless losses. And as we do, let us search within ourselves whether we have done all we could for them and for the Israeli soldiers who take the first bullet for us.
And while we’re at it, let’s remember our American soldiers on the forefront in the desserts of Iraq and Afghanistan—and the thousands of families who would never get to put their arms around them upon their return.
The tradition of Passover also calls us to invite to the Seder table any Jew who does not have one. Let’s invite—at least in our thoughts—all our Jewish brethren in countries that do not offer the freedom and protection that the USA guarantees us. For them, we can raise our collective voice with indignation and outrage and use our collective power to fight tyranny and fanaticism that calls for our—and their—demise.
Israel’s president Shimon Peres once said that even Ben-Gurion had not dreamed big enough. Let us dream big tonight—stretch our dream to encompass all the vast possibilities, and let us dream tonight of a world of peace.
Let us bless all the good things God has given us so far, and celebrate our resilience and our heritage of strong Jewish values that we have shared with the world over for centuries. And let's allow that dream bring joy to our hearts and to our Passover table.
# # #
Author Talia Carner's novels are heart-wrenching suspense dealing with social issues. Please read the first chapter of each on her website at www.TaliaCarner.com .
Monday, March 19, 2018
It’s breakfast at Club Med in
. I select a white-chocolate
bread, a croissant, and a slice of banana cake for the last time; as of
tomorrow, my family and I must stretch my box of matzos for the remaining four days of our stay. Surrounded by a
merry crowd in bathing suits and scant coverings—standard daytime apparel here—my
heart is heavy. This evening, instead of a Passover Seder at a table laden with
fine china, polished silver, and sparkling crystal, I must improvise a Seder on
the beach. What kind of message am I giving my children when opting to trump
our most important holiday by a resort vacation? Mexico
I approach the Chef-de-Village and ask for a secluded spot where my family and another Jewish couple we’ve met here could conduct a pre-sunset ceremony. He points to a beautiful thatched-roof area over a dance floor, facing the sea. “Anything else I can do?” he asks.
“A bottle of sweet red wine, please?” Besides the box of matzos and a silver kiddush cup, I packed a dozen Hagadahs and baby-blue yarmulkes stamped with the date of our youngest daughter’s bat-mitzvah. I write down my recipe for charoset, a chopped mix of peeled apples, walnuts, pecans and dates, all flavored with cinnamon, honey and red wine.
Moments later, I am surprised to hear him over the PA announcing that all who wish to participate in a Seder, should meet at five o’clock at the designated area.
I cringe and glance around at the crowd, busy picking from mounds of fried bacon and pork sausages. Is someone cracking a comment about the invasion of the Hebs? No one seems to pay attention, and I decide that throughout history, Jews in far more dire conditions managed to celebrate Passover. So will my family, down to the lengthy reading of the Hagadah, the yearly retelling of the Israelites’ exodus from
At lunch, a sous-chef presents me with an industrial-size baking tray filled with charoset. Imagining that most of this huge quantity will be baked in tomorrow’s pies, I dip a spoon into the mix. The familiar taste of Passover festivity is already inside me. “May I also have a plate with a hard-boiled egg, a lamb bone, horseradish, and sprigs of parsley?” I ask. “And a cup of salt water?”
The sun is still high when I drag my family off the beach to shower and dress in what passes in Club Med for evening attire—shorts and Polo shirts for men; white slacks or gauzy dresses for women.
At five o’clock we arrive at the dance platform, carrying my Passover paraphernalia. To my annoyance someone must have double-booked the place, as dozens of his guests, dressed for a pre-dinner party are hanging about. “Now we must go look for another quiet spot,” I mutter, and go search for the sous-chef to locate my tray of charoset and Passover plate.
In a cluster of people, I spot the couple we have invited and wave.
As they wave back, some guests turn toward me, smiling. Only then it hits me: All these people are here for my little Seder!
As my husband counts them—a hundred and forty—more bottles of wine and crates of glassware are brought from the kitchen. We place the Seder plate in the center of a table covered with a white tablecloth and dedicate my kiddush cup for Elijah. We break my matzos into the smallest pieces, and ladle charoset onto serving plates.
Then we distribute the twelve Hagadahs—the story of Passover told in biblical Hebrew. I watch as Jews from South American countries speaking Spanish and Portuguese, Jews from
and Austria and Israel, speaking French, German and Hebrew, and Jews from North
America, Australia and
speaking English, all squeeze close around their respective single Hagadah. A
man from Great Britain
assumes the role of the Seder leader—luckily his pronunciation is the Sephardi
version, that of spoken Hebrew, not the archaic Ashkenazi version of most USA
synagogues—and we begin taking turns reading aloud, with the congregants
responding when called to do so. The Sepharadis chant their melodious
renditions of some of the hymns, and the Ashkenazis respond with their musical
versions. Regardless of our home language, we all utter the same ancient Hebrew
words, recite the same sages’ arguments, and sing the same prayers. Together,
we retell the narrative of liberation from slavery and urge our children to
pass it on to theirs, so they, too, will forever appreciate freedom. Venezuela
I examine the men’s heads covered with baseball caps, dinner napkins, and my dozen yarmulkes in baby-blue like the undulating sea beyond. For one hour, strangers to one another, we are connected by one culture and unite through the ancient language of our ancestors in a tradition that transcends all geo-political barriers, that has stood up to centuries of persecutions, pogroms, and repeated attempts at our annihilation. “Next year in
chant together, expressing our shared vision of the place that for two-thousand
years has anchored Jewish faith. For one hour we reassert to ourselves that we
are one people. My people. Jerusalem
# # #
Author Talia Carner’s most recent novel, HOTEL
2015,) tells the story of an American daughter of Holocaust survivors who
travels to MOSCOW
shortly after the fall of communism, encounters anti-Semitism, and must come to
terms with her parents’ legacy. Russia
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
|In front of a sculpture of a naked woman riding a rooster,|
while holding a fork and wearing high heels--the Cuban ideal woman....
As I’ve just returned from a trip to Cuba, and given the myriad questions I am facing, I am putting in writing my fresh, unadulterated thoughts:
I traveled with the Authors’ Guild for one week filled with three to five lectures and presentations each day. The talks were by authors, publishers, musicians, visual artists and university professors of literature, women’s studies, urban planning and political science. We stayed in Havana for five out of the seven nights, and traveled the three-and a half-hour drive to Trinidad, a small town, where we stayed at people’s homes. (As a form of enterprise, many add a room or two in their homes, complete with private bathrooms.)
In the first presentation, a professor of political science was clearly on the side of the government. While he acknowledged many of the the country’s problems, he attributed them to the US embargo and not to the government’s failure over decades to help its people and economy thrive. In fact, while he acknowledged that they must search for a new model, capitalism wasn’t an option because it created a “social injustice.”
In the coming days it became clear that the greatest social injustice, in fact, lies right at the feet of Cuba’s double currency. After the revolution of 1959-1960—a process that lasted close to three years, not an overnight coup—Cuba aligned itself with the Soviet Union and its economy. It built an economy that was based on the Russian ruble, but even more upon bartering of goods with the Soviet Union. In the barter system, the ever-changing non-monetary values had nothing to do with a sound fiscal policy. Unfortunately, with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cuban economy found itself floundering and gasping for air. Suddenly, the only steady source of income came from remittances—money sent by expats living in Florida to their families in Cuba. Until today, remittances are by far the greatest source of the Cuban economy.
However, since the remittances are in dollars, the CUC—the Cuban conversion of a dollar—is worth 27 times the value of the “national peso,” called CUP. Thus, a two-system was established, existing side by side. Cubans get paid by CUP, thus making 27 times less than those receiving remittances or are employed in the tourist industry where they are paid in CUCs. Tourists can only use CUCs, while Cuban state workers receive their wages in national pesos, and are only permitted to use in order to purchase basic necessities—except that it is insufficient and allows no small treats. (An ice-cream cone costing $2.50 is out of reach for someone earning $50 a month.)
If there was ever glaring social injustice that makes university professors starve while hotel bellmen thrive, this is it. In fact, as a result of this huge gap in income, scientists, physicians, academicians and trained professionals have left their professions in drove to become tour guides, hotel clerks and concierges. Our tour guide, Christopher, had studied nuclear physics when he switched to major in languages so he could work with tourists. Our group of twenty-five tipped him for the week at least $50 per person, totaling an estimated $1,250 in a country where a government employee earns $50 a month. (Our bus driver received half of this sum, which is still huge.) Time and again we heard how a bar tender makes in one evening what a university professor or a doctor makes in one month.
Housing: One of the first steps of the revolution was to nationalize all private properties, starting with apartment houses and private mansions. Whoever lived in an apartment in 1959 became its owner. And the servants, gardeners and chauffeurs became the instant owners of the mansions where they had served the masters. However, the government kept the ownership of each building as a whole as well as the land on which they stand. As a result, while an apartment dweller owns his apartment, he does not own a share in the common areas—the surface of the building, corridors, stairwells, or garbage area. Maintaining them has been the government's responsibility. Needless to say, with an impoverished economy, buildings fell into complete and utter neglect. The idea of giving mansions to the former service staff also failed to take into account that these people lacked the means to maintain such structures.
|A former mansion, one of thousands that have |
fallen to great disrepair before collapsing.
The urban decay of Havana is heart breaking, as the many buildings that still carry signs of past glory are decaying—not just peeling plaster and dark mould spreading, but missing windows, broken terraces and gaping rooms whose walls have crumbled. In places, one sees a feeble attempt of tenants to salvage their place by constructing crude propping of floors, but these pathetic attempts often fail: On the average, three buildings collapse each day—one thousand a year—and that number will escalate as more buildings give in to the passage of time. On each street one can see buildings that look like photos of a bombed-city.
The brain drain of young professionals and educated people seeking economic opportunities abroad has resulted in a population whose 30% are over the age of 60. That number is expected to grow to 40% in the coming decade. From a housing point-of-view, it means that older people are unable to climb stairs to high floors in buildings that never had elevators, nor do they have the resources to find suitable housing when their buildings give in to the elements. The isolation of the aging is yet another social injustice that is sure to increase.
Education: In the midst of this misery, free education is still a priority for the Cuban government, and it covers not only K to 12th grade, but goes all the way through graduate degrees for whoever wishes to do so. Cuba boasts 51 universities—a large number for a population of 11.5 million habitants. In addition, the education system favors specialized training in the arts, and children as young as five years old that show promise are directed to schools of music, dance and circus arts. Visual arts are taught throughout the school years because the country has great appreciation for art, and at age eighteen, those who wish, may attend dedicated art academies. Furthermore, students who show interest in music, dance, writing and art but not enough to attend the specialized schools, are offered all these after-school classes at no charge.
As a result of the high level of education, Cuba’s second largest industry is the “exporting of brain,” that is academicians and scientists who travel to other South- and Central-American countries to work or teach. Unlike the expats who’ve left for the USA and Europe never to return, these professionals come back home to Cuba after earning some decent income. Many repeat such assignments abroad every few years.
Cuba’s third industry is pharmaceutical, medical research and biotechnology. The country prides itself in developing and manufacturing a range of specific medications. (It was left unclear to us how their testing is done and what are the standards applied, especially since, with the thawing of the commercial and economic embargo toward the end of the Obama’s Administration, talks of US drug companies medical testing in Cuba became relevant.)
Agriculture, which could have been a strong industry in this fertile land, is unfortunately sorely neglected. The offering of vegetables and fruit during our stay, even at good restaurants, was relatively poor—string beans were only canned. No cauliflower, carrots, asparagus or broccoli. A visit to several food stores showed no basic staples such as peanuts or even dried fruit. Mango, pineapple and guava are available—but no apples, pears or grapes, and even bananas are in short supply. Driving through the center of the country from Havana to Trinidad we saw sugar cane fields, but no corn or wheat. There is no cattle herding, and therefore meat is imported. In Trinidad, located half-an hour from the sea, no fish was available during our two-day stay. Rice, beans and potatoes seem to be the major food staple.
|Courtyard of a home in Trinidad, Cuba, |
that rents out rooms to tourists.
Due to the economic struggle of all Cubans, they all must resort to other creative means of survival. They call it “La Lucha,” a word that translates to “struggle.” Each person must find a way for his or hers “Lucha” in the form of side entrepreneurial service or manufacturing. Perhaps more than being deprived of political freedom, Cubans lose dignity due to their ongoing economic hardship that forces them to desert their natural tendencies and interests (e.g. science,) in order to haul tourists’ suitcases.
Interestingly, in spite of shortages and poverty, crime rate is very low. Havana is safe at all hours of the day and night, as are tourists’ possessions. The Cuban people are pleasant and seem at ease both among themselves and with foreigners. Some of my fellow passengers attributed it to the power of Cuban music, but it seemed to me that music could only serve as a veneer, not a panacea for a lifetime of frustration, deprivation and indignity.
USA policy: In my research for a one of my novels, China Doll, I learned that our government employs either one of two approaches toward unfriendly nations: Engagement and Containment. Engagement maintains that exchanging knowledge, culture and business practices demonstrates how capitalism works while instilling Western values when it comes to human rights. (e.g., in China, factory supervisors use beating as a disciplinary tool that is, of course, forbidden in US-owned factories there.) Containment holds that a country such as China that calls itself “The Sleeping Dragon” is dangerous and its ambitions for expansions should be carefully watched. (Cutting corners, the unscrupulous China has been buying R&D from the West, and what it can’t buy it steals.) China has been controlling the nations of the Pacific Rim to the point that these countries must adhere to China’s interests when making their decisions.
This view of US policy has helped me understand the decades-long Containment policy we’ve held, broken in 2015 with Obama’s visit to Cuba and his declaration that we were neighbors. Unfortunately, this start of a policy of Engagement also supports the current government, one that oppresses its people, that controls the press, and stifles criticism even if it comes in the form of art it so reveres. With the upcoming elections in early 2018, rather than maintaining a feeling of “kumbaya,” which only strengthens the current one-party, autocratic government, and makes it more acceptable to its people, the US clamps down on such support.
This is where I found the USA new guidelines on travel to Cuba telling: The commercial ban on Cuba is translated into merely restrictions on commerce with the Cuban government. In fact, our administration encourages working with individual Cubans who are entrepreneurs, as it wishes to strengthen and support people. Therefore, journalistic activity, professional research, educational and religious activities, public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic competitions, humanitarian projects and activities of private foundations or are permitted. All family members wishing to visit their relatives in Cuba are permitted to do so.
There are a few candidates for the position of President. If in the past the single most important credential was that the candidate had been part of the 1959 revolution, these people are too old or gone. Yet, it is unclear what the new wave of candidates offers, nor do they make their respective visions for the future of Cuba public. Such campaigning is not called for in this system. Instead, each candidate is listed with his main points of past achievements, but none offers a platform of his plans for the future of Cuba. Even if all of them are members of the single ruling party, it is conceivable that they may hold different opinions and dreams. There’s a talk about a shoe-in of the current vice-president. Only the future will reveal whether he will have the courage to move on to an open-market economy and democracy. The Cuban people are certainly ready.
|In front of Hemingway's home, holding|
my Toastmasters magazine.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
I once heard Chuck Adams, a Simon & Schuster veteran editor, say about a good book: “It’s like in sex. If you are a good lover, you have a good time, but your partner has a better time.” As you can see in my photo, I am having a great time….
Spring has sprung, and with it a sense of renewal as my most recent novel, HOTEL MOSCOW, continues to make waves. The novel has received two great awards, the first, from USA Book News in the multicultural category. The second, The Book Excellence Award in the THRILLER category now has this digital seal!
No wonder! The “thriller” part is what’s happening in Russia; it’s in the news often, and readers’ minds are stimulated when learning from HOTEL MOSCOW how the culture is still seeped in the Soviet mentality that makes the 25-year transition from communism so painful….
In the meantime, as I continue my public speaking, I’ve been greatly helped by my Toastmasters’ clubs, where I keep receiving these precious ribbons. Most importantly, Toastmasters has given me a community wherever I go. (Anyone who is in the public eye or needs to speak on the job should visit the local Toastmasters club to get the feel.)
Just as my book tour was supposed to end, new invitations have been coming my way. I’m finding myself re-energized by the great audiences. We are adding events, so please check my website for new ones that are in the process of being finalized in NY, NJ, AZ and FL!
Here, having fun with NYT bestselling author, Barbara Shapiro ("The Muralist," "The Art Forger") with whom I shared the stage in the Polo Club, Boca Raton (FL). In this photo we are comparing our opposing footwear....
Just as HOTEL MOSCOW is often being selected by book clubs, my previous novels are going strong too, leading by JERUSALEM MAIDEN. I Skype with groups often, so if you know of a book club among your friends, please suggest that they contact me at AuthorTalia@aol.com to schedule my participation. Needless to say, it adds a whole new dimension to have the author available to add to the discussion.
After hours of pleasure authors give you, you can do something for them—and I take the liberty of speaking on behalf of all of us who toil at the craft: Post reviews. Sometimes just a couple of lines would do.
Not surprisingly, authors whose readers are younger tend to get more digital reviews than authors whose readers are less engaged with internet sites and activities. I urge you to “act young” and post reviews for books you’ve enjoyed. (Here are my links for HOTEL MOSCOW on Amazon and GoodReads.)
There is no greater pleasure for an author than to share her work with appreciative audience. Thank you for taking this journey with me!
Thank you for your great support—and have a great Spring!
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Monday, June 13, 2016
I’ve been pondering why do I get this question more often than one asking me to give an overview of my previous novels? Why are readers more interested in yet-unwritten books when there are so many out there crying to be read?
The answer may lie with interest in the creative process. How does an author sit down and pours out a 400-page novel, or 110,000 words that are meaningful, entertaining, and leave a mark—even if that mark is as transient as an ebb created by a stone thrown into a pond.
That is why, at my event at the East Meadow Jewish Center (Long Island, NY,) rather than focus on the [fascinating] historical, political and cultural aspects of Russia and its people during a painful transition time--the focus of HOTEL MOSCOW--I spoke about, “Take A Skeleton Out Of The Closet—And Dance With It.”
That speech, covering the breadth of my four published novels, allowed me to share with the audience the way a social issue grabs me and doesn’t let go. The subject may ferment in the hinterland of my consciousness for years, with bits and pieces of exposure or insights feeding it. Finally, the subject ignites a fire in my belly and demands that I explore it in depth. I am almost feverish, distracted from my immediate world, as I crawl under the skin of the protagonist as she learns the tragic realities. Like in a dream, I see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the aromas, and feel the emotions. Inevitably, what interests me is the story of the human spirit as it rises over the forces that shape our lives. That is also when you, the reader, encounter a memorable protagonist that stays with you and gives you what I call “a good reading experience.”
In the process of writing, suspense is the key. I take a page from author Stephen King who fine-tuned this art form into every sentence and every paragraph. But there is also the larger suspenseful arc of the entire story. I call it “get the cat on the electric pole, then get the cat off the electric pole.”
The book tour for HOTEL MOSCOW continues!
My appearances for HOTEL MOSCOW have been so successful, with captivated audiences raving about the thought-provoking talks, that invitations are spilling into a second year. In the second half of 2016 and early 2017 I’ll be covering mostly
Florida and the Northeast,
including this summer. Since the list gets updated
every month, please check it periodically. Newport, RI
And if your community has a fund-raiser or a meeting that can benefit from a keynote speaker that engages and inspires, please contact me or my events coordinator.
Q: How does an author know that she’s “made it?”
A: When she is asked to endorse a novel in the form of a blurb to appear on its cover.
Just as I have received endorsements over the years from top bestselling novelists, it is my duty andpleasure to give forward by helping other authors on their way up. I will be forever grateful to Tess Gerritsen, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Nelson DeMille, Tami Hoag, Andrew Gross and more than a dozen other successful authors who put aside their precious writing time to read my manuscripts. By lending their names to my novels they have sent messages to readers that the new book was “a must-read.”
To such requests recently got my attention—and my full endorsements. One is a translated novel by an Israeli author, Sarit Yishai-Levi, “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem,” which I found fascinating. It was released last month with my blurb on the back. (The other will be released in September, so I’m withholding my announcement until it is available.)
“I loved the book. I learned so much, and I tell everyone about it.”
Often, a reader who “discovers” a good book can’t wait to share that experience with friends. Word-of-mouth indeed is the best way for a book to get traction. That is why, in today’s fragmented marketplace, bloggers with only a few hundred followers each create a tapestry of devoted readers that collectively often surpass the effect of a review in a major newspaper reaching hundreds of thousands. It is the personal testimonial of a reader that carries trust with other readers.
Therefore, may I ask that you share your reading experience of HOTEL MOSCOW with the world by posting a review on Amazon or GoodReads? (Even a line or two would suffice--unless, of course, you want to articulate more.)
Book groups’ reactions to HOTEL MOSCOW:
* “We’ve had the best meeting! The terrifying portrait of a nation in transition from Communism came to life.”
* “HOTEL MOSCOW taught us all lessons about humanity, about what we, as people, are capable of.”
Has your group select HOTEL MOSCOW for discussion? Please contact me, and I will join your meeting via phone or Skype.
My Personal Corner:
Happy post-Mother’s Day to the mothers and grandmothers among you. My birthday happens to coincide with Mother’s Day, giving me a double blessing (but some years half the celebration.) Here I am, with the mothers and grandmothers of my immediate family with our children and grandchildren--after we excluded the men from the photo.
Thank you all for your great support!
P.S. If you haven't read HOTEL MOSCOW yet, here are links for both the trade paperback--about $12--or the digital format for under $10.