Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cuba: Thoughts and impressions of my visit

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.
Old American cars in Havana are a
trademark of the city

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

Spring is here!

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

Early Fall Is Here!

Book tour takes me to magical places....

I accepted the invitation to present at Hadassah in Newport, RI for the chance to travel across the Long Island Sound by three ferries--always a delightful treat on a bright August day.

My husband and I arrived the evening before to enjoy a seafood dinner in the heart of the tourist area in the marina. What a wonderful sunset!

It felt just as magical when, the following day, over a sold-out luncheon of 200 attendees, I presented the background of HOTEL MOSCOW (to a great applause!)

My appearances continue into 2017!!!!

I love public speaking almost as much as I love writing--and apparently it shows, because invitations to keynote events are spilling into a second year of book touring for HOTEL MOSCOW.

Long Island, Florida and New Jersey, here is my list of upcoming events confirmed. (If registration contact is not posted, please contact me directly.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016, 12:00 PM
American Association of University Women
Smithtown Branch
Voila, The Bistro,
244 Lake Avenue
St. James, NY
OPEN TO PUBLIC ($55.00/ Pre-registration required at caftiwalsh@yahoo.com)

Thursday, October 20, 2016, 11:30 AM 
Seaport Hadassah Chapter
Annual Book & Author luncheon
1 Jefferson Ferry Drive, S. Setauket, NY

Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 7:30 PM 
36th Annual Miami Jewish Book Festival
Alper JCC Berrin Family
Futernick Art Gallergy
11155 S.W. 112th Ave., Miami, FL 33176

Wednesday, January 18, 2017, time TBD
Fountains Country Club
4476 Fountains Drive
Lake Worth, FL

Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 10:30 AM 
Yaffa Hadassah
Valencia Shore
7751 Valencia Shore Drive
Lake Worth, FL 33467

Thursday, March 9, 2017, 10:15 AM 
Lunch & Learn
Polo Club of Boca Raton
5400 Chamption Blvd
Boca Raton, FL
PUBLIC INVITED (pre-registration required.)

Thursday, May 4th, 2017, 11:30 AM 
Book and Author Luncheon
Brandeis National Committee
Middlesex NJ chapter
Pine Manor, 2085 Rt. 27
Edison, NJ 08817
PUBLIC INVITED (pre-registration required.)

(If your community or organization is having an event and needs an engaging speaker, please have them check the testimonials--and contact me

Sharing the stage with other authors....
Readers are sometimes surprised that their favorite authors have not met in person, forgetting that most often we don't all live in the same neighborhood.... That's why I enjoy sharing the stage at some literary events with another author (or two,) whose works I admire.

 This year I've had the pleasure of meeting in person bestselling authors B.A. Shapiro, David Greene, Lynn Cullen, Charlie Lovett, Jillian Cantor, Pam Jenoff, Ellen Meister, Naomi Eve, and Brenda Janowitz.
(Photo, with Ellen Meister, author of the bestseller, "Dorothy Parker Drank Here.")

My previous novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN has done it again!

In August, my previous novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN was listed in Amazon Movers & Shakers. Once again--five years after its release(!)--it made it again to the top 100 digital list!
I thank you all, devoted readers, who continue to share the buzz around. Many of you have asked for a sequel. I'm working on it in my head, since that story needs to brew....

(In the meantime I am hard at work on my 5th novel that, once again, tells a heart-wrenching--and mind-boggling--story that has barely been touched in fiction before.)

 MOSCOW is hot!

Every day, news of global events continue to take center stage. Readers of HOTEL MOSCOW report how they better understand the Soviet psyche as it seeps into today's event. (Check the video book trailer.)

This is most often the topic of my presentations titled, "Russia: When the rug was pulled out" or "The morning after: When a nation wakes up to 'Democracy'."

Happy [Jewish] New Year!

To all my Jewish friends and readers, let's hope that the coming year be one of sanity and peace, one of openness and common-sense....

Thank you everyone for your support and for sharing my publishing journey,

Talia Carner

P.S. If you haven't yet read HOTEL MOSCOW, here are links  for both the trade paperback--about $13--or the digital format.
You may read the first chapter on my website or download a digital sample.  

Monday, June 13, 2016

Book tour: What's next?

A frequent question I and other authors are asked is, “What are you working on now?”

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.”

Until I am ready to speak about my novel-in-progress (yes, there is one,) please turn to any of my
previous novels, PUPPET CHILD, CHINADOLL, JERUSALEM MAIDEN, and most recently, HOTEL MOSCOW. I can promise you a great reading experience—each novel a journey that stays with you long after “The End.”

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 Newport, RI this summer. Since the list gets updated every month, please check it periodically.

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 and
pleasure 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.)

“Discovering” a new world through HOTEL MOSCOW:

“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:

* “It was fascinating to grasp the nightmare of waking up one day to a world where all laws have
been obliterated.”
* “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!

Talia Carner

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.

Or, you may read for free the first chapter of HOTEL MOSCOW on my website or download a free sample digitally

Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Tour Reaching New Heights

(If you’ve missed my previous newsletters detailing my journey
through the release of HOTEL MOSCOW peek behind the scene by 
scrolling down, or clicking on the right bar by month.

And you may read the first chapter of HOTEL MOSCOW on 
my website or download a free sample digitally.)  

Readers’ frequent question: What has changed in Russia since 1993? 

In the new Russia, young people enjoy new business and career opportunities, while restaurants are now store-front (formerly hidden in basements or second floors and accessed only by a code knock.) Businesses cater to consumers' needs--an unheard of concept before 1991. Yet, dozens of industrial cities are as bleak and hopeless as before. Even in the beautiful St. Petersburg, millions of Russians still live in the iconic Soviet kommunalka, the communal apartment, where a family of three may occupy a room as small as 7 x10 ft.—and shares a toilet, bath and kitchen with five to ten other families. (Photo: Notice the bed hung under the ceiling.)

Professor Terry Walker


 1) HOTEL MOSCOW is being taught at a university in Brazil, at an English-language business class. The professor explained his choice: “The novel covers both the cultural nuances of doing business
abroad while it gives a fresh view of a country going through the upheaval of transition from communism.”

2) Broward County  library, (FL) has selected HOTEL MOSCOW as its March reading at all its 7 branches! At each such meeting, a leader gives a talk about the background of the novel or reviews the book. When I Skype into the meeting, I am fascinated by their professional take and must remind myself that I had written this book they analyze and praise.

With organizers
and author David Greene,
3) I’ve had the honor of being the very first author at the very first literary event at the first year of the Collier County (FL) Jewish Book Festival. I’ve been to many similar events, and I must say that this one was so well organized it was hard to believe that they worked without a prior blueprint.  

4)  Two more blogger interviews were just published. In the changing world of publishing, the aggregate of bloggers have replaced mainstream book reviewers with their collective impact. Each gathers followers who share similar tastes, and the questions 
they pose in their interviews reflect the readers’ curiosity. Read Mercedes Fox and Sylvie Books & Film (and check for more Q & A on my website.)

My pleasure of meeting other authors

With Sonia Taitz
Where do authors hobnob? While most of my appearances are keynote speeches where I am alone on stage, I greatly enjoy events I share with other authors. Sometimes it’s consecutive presentations, other times we share a panel that focuses on specific topics. It’s my chance to connect with other authors.

Three such events are coming up—two panels in Tucson Book Festival, and a panel I will be moderating in Long Island, NY.  Don’t miss them.  


Book groups’ reactions to HOTEL MOSCOW:

o “What a meeting we had! The terrifying portrait of a nation in transition from Communism came to life in the novel of a world superpower undergoing a profound and violent change.”

o “We hadn’t imagined the misery of life under Soviet totalitarian regime. It was even harder to grasp the nightmare of waking up one day to a world where all laws have been obliterated.”

o “HOTEL MOSCOW taught us all lessons about humanity, about what we, as people, are capable of.”

Please contact me to join your meeting via phone or Skype.

My Personal corner:

Readers and interviewers often ask: What do you do besides writing? The answer is: A lot. Here are a couple of items:

1) Toastmasters:

Being a member of Toastmasters—the organization that teaches public speaking engages me through
the three separate clubs to which I belong. While I continue to perfect my speaking skills through specific assignments (there are various manuals to choose from, each focuses on different skills,) Toastmasters offers me an instant community wherever I travel—also  internationally. I am proud to say that I’ve just finished two manuals and achieved Advanced Bronze Communicator level.

I often listen to people in business or leadership deliver well enough, yet they are unaware how much they could still benefit from feedback. I suggest you search for your local clubs and come as a guest. You’ll be hooked. 

2) Study French:

In my youth I attended a French high school in Tel-Aviv and was fluent in the language—I even wrote French poetry. However, I gave myself a virtual lobotomy when I moved to the USA and immersed myself in English.

One day, though, Esther, the protagonist of JERUSALEM MAIDEN ran off to Paris, and I had to follow her. Unlike my many visits to Paris since my youth, this time I had to research libraries and interview historians. Now I make time to recoup my lost French through an online program, Frantastique, that is both humorous and effective. (Try it for a free trial month at any level.)

 Thank you again for sharing this publishing journey with me. I hope to see you in any of my upcoming dozens of events, or via Skype at your book group meeting.

Wishing you all a the best,

Talia Carner

P.S.  If you’ve read HOTEL MOSCOW, please post a review on  Amazon or GoodReads. (Even a line or two would suffice--unless, of course, you want to articulate more.)

P.S.S. If you haven't read the novel yet, here are links for both the trade paperback--about $11--or the digital format for under $10.       

Friday, February 12, 2016

Some fun book tour highlights of 2015:

Starting 2016 with a bang!

       For my first of many keynote speaking events scheduled for the coming months, at Hadassah Cascades in Florida, I’ve had the pleasant task of pre-autographing all the 190 copies of my novel, HOTEL MOSCOW! It was included in the price of the brunch, and as always, my talk was not about the book itself but rather about issues relating to its background. (Organizers can choose from 4 suggested topics.)
Please check the list of many events coming up in Florida, Arizona, New York and New Jersey, and hopefully you’ll join me.(If you read the testimonials you'll see why my presentations are not to be missed.)

Some fun highlights of 2015:

         In my December newsletter I promised to highlight some of the many memorable/ unusual activities surrounding my book launch of HOTEL MOSCOW. It's hard to pick just a few from the series of events starting with the celebrity-studded book launch party at the Manhattan's famous Friars Club to the exhilarating luncheons and dinners where I connected with appreciative readers. I love the TV and radio interviews, which I invite you to watch/listen. But here is a look at "behind-the-scene":

1)  A tasty morsel to go with the novel: The request for a recipe to for a book-group meeting in which the novel is discussed brought out my culinary creativity. So here is my recipe for a Blini Caviar. It's easy to make for your next book meeting--and please remember to contact me to Skype your book discussion! 

2)  HOTEL MOSCOW was honored with the USA Books News award in the multi-cultural category.
The novel tells a universal story about people going through a political upheaval. Does the fall of a totalitarian regime mean that people wake up to Democracy--or to chaos and lawlessness? I hope that if you have not yet read this suspenseful, historical novel you will do so soon and get the inside view of this thought-provoking experience.

3) Authors’ endorsements:

The blurbs that HOTEL MOSCOW received from NYT bestselling authors were the ultimate
affirmation, and each took my breath away. It is a huge sacrifice for a working novelist—often under a contract to produce a new book each year—to take the time to read a full-length novel and lend his/her reputation to endorsing it. I am grateful to the many authors that have found HOTEL MOSCOW so worthy of their names—Nelson DeMille, Andrew Gross, Tami Hoag, Ellen Meister and many others!

4) Reviews:

As an author I toil in solitude and silence for about 5 years on each novel. Then comes the Big Bang
when the story is thrust out to the world and is embraced by both taste-makers and readers. Both ends of the process—the lonesome creative and its ultimate public reception—are equally satisfying, especially when my latest “baby” has received accolades such as:
“Stunning,” “A compelling narrative,” “Gripping,” “Unflinching and unforgettable,” "Skilled and vivid writing," "Fascinating," "An ambitious, timeless story," "Intriguing," “An eye-opening exposé ,” "Awesome," “Thought-provoking,” “A can’t-put-it-downer,”  “Action-packed, steamy and suspenseful,” “A moving, poignant, and heartening novel.”

All describe what I had sought to achieve in writing HOTEL MOSCOW.

5) Mah-Jongg tournament:

At a Book & Author luncheon in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I planned to arrive the night before, the organizers got a whiff of my love of Mah-Jongg. They asked me to participate in a special fund-raiser dinner and proceeded to sell tickets for attendees to play Mah-Jongg with the author! The fun was all mine.

6) HOTEL MOSCOW in Costco!

In its month-long run, the novel did so well that Costco continued the promotion for two more weeks.

From my very personal diary:

Some of you know that my husband, Ron, is the president of Maccabi USA. Over Christmas/ New Year we had the extraordinary experience of attending the Maccabi Pan-Am Games in Santiago, Chile, where the USA brought 400 Jewish athletes to compete against over 20 teams. It is a highly effective cultural- and Jewish-identity program that brings dispersed Diaspora communities together. It was a chance for me to reconnect with South-American friends I've made these past 30 years.


In thanking you all, I’d like to offer you bookmarks. Many readers appreciate them, and I can send up to 30 at a time. Please write me at AuthorTalia@aol.com , and I will be delighted to mail them to you.

Thanks again, and wishing you all a great 2016!

Talia Carner

P.S. If you’ve read HOTEL MOSCOW, please post a review on Amazon or GoodReads. (Even a line or two would suffice--unless, of course, you want to articulate more.) If you haven't read the novel yet, here are links for both the trade paperback--about $12--or the digital format. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Who are you?" The author of HOTEL MOSCOW reveals

Talia in the IDF
"Who are you?"
Since I am yet to appear in any of my novels, my life and “adventures” often intrigue readers and you?” My background also fascinated Lucette Lagnado (author of the bestselling “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit,” and a seasoned Wall Street Journal writer) whose probing interview appears in the back of HOTEL MOSCOW. I’ve also published personal essays, which you may read on my website. Each cracks open a window into my own history. (Photo: Talia as a soldier in Israel Defense Force.)
audiences, who ask, “Who are

The highlights of my career?

Chinese abandoned baby found in street
What were the high moments of my career? One event that stands out is my 2007 presentation at the UN on the subject of gendercide in China—the singling out of baby girls for death—the first time in UN history. Since then, unfortunately, my projections about the continued disappearance of girls in China have been proven correct even as China has just announced that it would allow two children per family. Only 1/3 Chinese families are expected to actually have a second child, and girls will still be the unwanted choice. (My UN PowerPoint presentation is available.)


USA Book News announced the 2015 winners--and HOTEL MOSCOW took the prize in the Multicultural category. 

Indeed, the novel combines the harsh realities of Russia during transition from communism and an American woman's view as she visit there but must face her own family legacy.

Democracy or "Cleptocracy?"

We tend to have a romantic notion about the removal of an authoritarian regime, with our hopeful, utopian belief that a nation wakes up the next morning to democracy. How wrong! When laws are erased off the books, a nation wakes up to lawlessness, and the factions that are quick to fill in the void are the most greedy and violent gangs. That’s the backdrop of my novel HOTEL MOSCOW. (This four-minute book trailer shows rare footage of what happened in 1993.) 

My Paris was Attacked  

In my teens, I attended a French high school in Tel-Aviv and was fluent in the language. My Francophile side was abandoned upon my arrival in the USA and the focus on English—until Esther, the protagonist of my previous novel, JERUSALEM MAIDEN, ran off to Paris (supposedly in 1924) and I had to chase after her through the alleys of the Left Bank…. Since then, checking off my bucket list, I’ve spent longer time in Paris, with yet again a fresh view of the city that had once dominated my dreams. (Read my Paris blogs here in April-June 2013)

Great TV interviews:

The end of October has seen new airings of great TV interviews in which I discuss HOTEL MOSCOW, the background and the creative process of creating such a thriller. You may watch The Artists’ Forum here. (Click for additional TV interviews, including Sarder TV about my business life in the 1980s.)

"Talia Tells Tales" blogs are a hit!
Did you miss my previous monthly newsletters? If you are already here, scroll up and down and at
least glance at the photos. Judging by the number of hits this blog gets, readers enjoy the behind-the-scene peeks into book publishing.

Skype me!

Now that HOTEL MOSCOW has been out since June, book groups have been selecting it for lively, thought-provoking discussions. Yet, many groups do not realize that they can invite me to join their meeting via Skype. If you are not in a book group, please let your friends who belong to one know about this option. They will thank you.

My words on paper are only marching little ants. You, the reader, give them meaning. I continue to appreciate your great support!


P.S.Florida here I come! 
This winter will find me in Florida, with a dozen speaking appearances. I do not do “a reading” (frankly, I find it boring,) but rather tell stories and anecdotes that have inspired my novels and my quest for social justice. Please check the schedule on my website and join me.