BlogBirthdayBannerByAilsa

So my second is odd and half my first (no prizes for working that one out) and Ailsa Abraham created this delightful banner for me. This is how it came about:

Eleven days ago, Ailsa held an online Crone Party (as you do when it’s the day before your birthday). I didn’t know quite what to expect from it, but I came prepared…

WitchReduced… and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Not only that, but I won a prize for the best costume (what costume?) from the Crone Queen herself: one of her books or artwork for my blog. As I’d read both of Ailsa’s excellent novels, I plumped for the artwork and got the banner at the top of this post. Isn’t it brilliant?

It never ceases to amaze me that I know so many people with birthdays in August. Growing up, I was always the only one in my class and consequently (because of the cut-off date in the UK) the youngest. This post is meant to be all happy, so I’ll move on now.

I was born into a different world. Rationing in the UK hadn’t quite gone, although I don’t remember it. TVs were in black and white, which I do remember.

What hasn’t changed? Queen Elizabeth II is still on the throne. The pound sterling is still in use (although shillings and pence are long gone).

FivePoundNoteReduced

 

And Israel, despite most forecasts, still exists.

Me and Jerusalem

Me and Jerusalem

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Author of the Day

Ailsa Abraham is one of a kind. There’s so much I could say about her, I wouldn’t know where to start. You’re better off hopping over to The Bingergread Cottage to find out more. What I can say is that Alchemy and Shaman’s Drum are well worth reading.

When my first book, Neither Here Nor There, was published, I didn’t know what to expect. Would anyone buy it? Would anyone read it? Would anyone like it?

Neither Here Nor There Cover

 

Two years on, I’m proud of what my little novel has achieved. It’s informed some readers about things of which they had no knowledge, it’s rung true with many of those in the know, and most of all, it’s brought joy to many readers.

One thing I did know in advance: not everyone would like it. I think that’s true of any book. If every review of a book has only praises for it, you begin to think something is rotten in the state of Goodreads.

I knew in advance that some readers would find the story not to their taste. Not everyone likes romance; not everyone likes sweet and gentle stories. That’s why I was particularly pleased with the words of the mentor of my writing group, D.r. Brauner, who is “not normally a fan of seesaw romances.” He wrote:

An extra-ordinary book that takes romance writing to a higher level.

I also knew that some readers would be against the very idea of anyone leaving orthodoxy for secularism.

BuddhaAngry

Some readers don’t like the plot

BuddhaSad

Some readers don’t like the style

.

.

BuddhaHappy

Many readers love the novel

.

Yes, I’m proud of all the reviews of my debut novel on Goodreads, Amazon UK and Amazon US, and I’m very grateful to everyone who has gone to the trouble of writing a review.

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Author of the Day

D.r.Brauner writes excellent fiction, which deserves to be better known. His novel, ANOTHER GOD: a novel of Independent Scotland, is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.
And I do appreciate your being ’round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground…

The Beatles

I suffer from HAY fever. No, not that hay fever; I’m glad to say that has never troubled me. I’m talking about that HAY question, the conversation starter: How are you? At least it’s usually a conversation starter. Except that, in my case, it usually isn’t.

Sneeze in white hankie

When I hear that question, I break out coughing, sneezing and spluttering. No, not literally, but the anxiety-filled equivalent: panic. Spluttering inside and nothingness outside. Confidence in one thing only: this will not go well. And through it all, I force myself to continue.

“Fine, thanks. How are you?”

Answer.

Here’s where every other conversation slips seamlessly into something meaningful. In the current conversation, there’s a pause that lasts slightly too long until the other person moves away to talk to someone more fun, more interesting, more communicative. Clearly I’m boring and miserable, and I don’t want to talk.

Oh, but I do. It’s just that a topic for discussion with someone I hardly know doesn’t come to me. Yes, I could make it up. I could sit alone in my garden or at my computer and make up a conversation between two relative strangers. I could make the speakers hesitate if the plot demands it. I could make the words flow if I want them to. Because the speakers are puppets and I’m pulling the strings.

Who’s pulling my strings when I’m down there on the stage? Whoever it is, is slacking on the job, or letting the strings go slack.

I began this post thinking that it would end in a plea for help. Please tell me what to say to someone I hardly know to stop them before they glide away. But maybe I know what to say. I just have to be able to  rummage around the jumbled handbag of my mind and pull out the words I need at the right time. Or to put the words in the front pocket well in advance, so that they’re easy to find when I need them.

There, I’ve answered my own question. But don’t let that stop you from offering advice. It will still be appreciated.

Was it coincidence or fate? On Sunday, I came across several references to music.

  • Bracha Bogot shared:

MusicIs

EarWormRemoved

  • And I wondered which pieces of music could become my ear worm. A different one each day, I think. And then I returned to a question I’ve been wondering for some time. Which eight pieces of music would I take if I were to be marooned on a desert island? I often wonder that when I listen to BBC Radio 4’s, Desert Island Discs… not that I expect to ever be invited onto the programme. I haven’t come up with a list yet, but it would be an interesting exercise for another post.
  • I also thought about music in my novels. There is one – probably the next to be completed – that contains quite a lot of references to classical music. I would love to see that one in print, and not just because of the music.

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Author of the Day

Kathy Sharp writes not-quite-real fiction in the Larus Trilogy of novels. She also writes excellent short stories that appear on her Goodreads blog. And she writes song lyrics.

A little Sunday sunshine.

There was a Crooked Cat and another Crooked Cat.
They found a crooked painting and yelled a crooked “That!”
They wrote a crooked story and took a crooked look.
And it all came together in a little Crooked book.

CrookedWomenFriendsExcept that it wasn’t as easy as it sounds!

The Women Friends – coming early in 2017.

Following on from my announcement of changes to my blog, this post links all three themes of my blog: writing, social anxiety and living in Israel.

I get it when women say they need to talk problems over with women friends. There’s something about the conversations that makes them different from conversations with men. Yet, for most of my life, I didn’t have any women I was close enough to to confide in. Social anxiety caused that. It told me to keep my distance from women… from everyone… because while I needed them, they didn’t need me or want my friendship and I shouldn’t cling to them.

RambamRambamI still don’t meet other women very often, but I’m getting better at it. There’s one I often meet. We write together and talk, too. And two days ago I met up with someone I haven’t seen for many years. I even initiated the meeting and travelled all the way to Haifa for it. Well, for this country it’s a long way. The bus journey from Jerusalem to Haifa takes all of two hours.

We had a pleasant and interesting chat together. She also gave me a brief but fascinating tour of Rambam Hospital, where she works. In particular, I saw how the underground carpark can be turned into a whole hospital in times of emergency. Amazing!

TechnionChurchill1

Sir Winston Churchill at the Churchill Building, Technion

As I was in Haifa anyway, I did a bit of research for a novel I began in November and plan to return to. I wandered around The Technion Institute of Technology and found some details to add or change in the novel. It was hot and humid and the paths of the campus, up there on the Carmel mountain, are very steep, but I’m glad I went.

The title of this post also has a different significance for me and connects to the exciting news I hinted at in my last post. Along with another author – the lovely Emma Rose Millar, who appears again at the end of this post – I have been working on two novellas based on the painting The Women Friends by Klimt. The first, which will be published early in 2017 by Crooked Cat, tells the story of Selina, a country girl, desperate to escape the demons of her past and searching for solace in the glittering city of Vienna. The second novella follows Janika, who is Jewish. It begins when the first novella finishes, in 1938, a time when Vienna wasn’t a good place for a Jew to be in, to say the least.

So that’s my big exciting news. If you’re interested, you can also read about how I’m spending the summer over on Nancy Jardine’s blog. How are you spending your summer? Or winter, if you’re in the other half of the world?

AnnouncementPicWithAuthors

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Author of the Day

Today, I highlight two authors – the two who appear in the post.

Emma Rose Millar writes historical fiction. Five Guns Blazing, set in the eighteenth century and written together with Kevin Allen, follows a convict’s daughter from London to Barbados. More information is on Emma’s blog.

Nancy Jardine is a multi-talented author, who writes historical romantic adventures, intriguing contemporary mystery thrillers and YA time travel historical adventures. Her published novels are too numerous to list here, but can be found on Nancy’s blog.

Disclaimer: this post is in no way political. (Well, that’s almost true.)

It’s time for a CHANGE. I’ve been feeling that for a while. It’s time to make that happen. Let me explain.

History of An’ de walls came tumblin’ down

The Point of the Blog

I began this blog over seven years ago when I was in a very different place. I wanted to write about writing and about social anxiety – especially social anxiety. It had been my ambition for some time to tell the world about this common but little-known disorder. I began anonymously, because I was afraid  of negative reactions. (In all seven years, I haven’t had any at all.)
ClosetGradually, as I became more confident, I added my first name, then my whole name. And with that came the other secret: I live in Israel – the place I felt everyone loves to hate. I don’t know whether that turned anyone off, but I still had readers after that revelation. And some readers even said they wanted to know more about what living in Israel is really like. So I added a category: Everyday Life in Israel, because I was scared to mention anything controversial.

Only occasionally – very occasionally – I felt I needed to write about something more serious. And I put it under Everyday Life in Israel, because that was all there was, even though the serious topic was far from ‘everyday.’

So, for me, as far as this blog goes, the walls did come tumbling down. In real life, well, that’s much harder, especially after nearly fifty years of SA.

Swerving Off the Path

Then, at the beginning of 2014, I received some wonderful news: my novel, Neither Here Nor There, was going to be published by Crooked Cat. I was thrilled… ecstatic. I’m still very grateful and happy that Crooked Cat accepted me and my novel.

Letters from Elsewhere

Farewell, for now

From that time, I became a member of a large and ever-growing community of writers. Many of those lovely writers hosted me on their blogs and I hosted them on mine. I started the series Letters from Elsewhere, in which characters sprang out of books to share their letters or to write directly to blog readers. It turned out to be popular among the writers.

During those two-and-a-half years, I hardly wrote about Israel or about social anxiety. I lost sight of the point of this blog and it became just another writer’s blog. Don’t get me wrong – there are many blogs that are solely about writing and are interesting, because their owners do it much better than I can. But I had a different purpose for starting this blog and it’s time to return to it – not as that frightened, anonymous individual who began it, but openly, as me: Miriam Drori, an author who lives in Jerusalem and who still lives with social anxiety, as do many others all over the world.

What’s New?

As well as social anxiety and Israel, I will talk about writing – my writing, starting with some very exciting news that hasn’t even made it onto this blog yet. I will also mention my fellow authors, at the end of each post, with links to their blogs and books.

With that decision in mind, I have changed some of the categories. That will be a problem for old posts, but it needed to be done.

There may still be guest posts; I’m hoping there will be. But guests will have to relate to Israel (or Jews) or social anxiety in their posts.

This decision isn’t set in stone. If you have any further ideas, do let me know and I’ll consider them.

 

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