Dear Mum & Dad,

First of all, I want to wish you happy birthday, Mum. 108 today. Secondly, I want to tell you that you have become greatgrandparents. That little boy, who was 7 and 24 when you left this world, is now a father, and I am trying to get used to being a grandmother.

Baby1-12

You might know this, or you might not. Who knows? If you do, you’ll also know that we’re now in the second wave of a pandemic. I’ve had to stop dancing, and I’ve spent a lot of time at home. But I know I’ve been lucky in many ways.

You must both remember the previous pandemic, a century ago, although neither of you ever mentioned it. Did it somehow pass you by and leave you unaffected? I wish I’d heard more about your lives before I was born. I know I could have asked, but I didn’t think of doing that. And I had no idea about the pandemic. I did learn something of your lives during the Second World War, but nothing of living through the First.

Moshe & Esther

You must have endured a lot, but here you are, standing happily together in the sunshine in front of the back door of the house I grew up in. You must be around the age that I am now. I’m glad you were able to enjoy this and many other happy moments.

I don’t often write about my other job as an editor, but now is a good time to do exactly that.

I just finished working with Joan Livingston on her new novel, Killing the Story, out on August 26th (the day after my birthday) and available for pre-order now. This is the fourth novel of hers that I’ve edited, and I love them all.

I also enjoy being appreciated – don’t we all? – and this post shows that to be the case. However, the editor in me wants to change the tense of a verb in this sentence:

She’s originally from the UK, but has lived in Israel for many years and does a lot of traveling.

I did a lot of travelling. I hope to do a lot of travelling. But just now… nope. But that single l in ‘traveling’ – I know that’s fine in the US.

The first time I was asked to edit a novel in American English, I worried that I wouldn’t know all the correct idioms or get the dialogue right. “Don’t worry,” I was told. “The author comes from the UK but lives in the US and she knows all that.” That was almost entirely true, but I did query one word (I can’t remember which) that I thought might not be understood by Americans. The author was surprised to discover I was right. I think living in Israel has opened me up to more Americans than the average British person would come into contact with.

That doesn’t mean I know all the idioms, but I trust Joan, who has lived there all her life. And, yes, I keep her writer’s voice. I think that’s important.

Editing a book is a long process, but it’s also enjoyable, especially if the book is interesting and the author is easy to get along with. Fortunately, I haven’t worked with any stroppy authors, but I’ve heard stories! And I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve worked on.

I’m currently editing a memoir by a non-native speaker of English. She writes English very well, but the mistakes she makes wouldn’t be made by a native speaker. Sometimes, they’re not even mistakes, and I find myself saying, “It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t sound quite right.” Yes, we actually talk, via Zoom. It’s quite fun.

There are different types of authors. Some accept all my suggestions, while with others there’s more discussion. With the first type, there’s less of the back and forth, and that saves time. But  discussion probably leads to a more polished result and that, after all, is the point of the exercise.

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life.

Spice of Life

There’s so much happening, I can’t keep up with it all.

Some of it is private. Some of it is yet to take place.

But this is what I can tell you.

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Social Anxiety Revealed is taking part in the Smashwords July Summer/Winter Sale.

Social Anxiety Revealed by Miriam Drori.

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This book is suitable for teachers, parents, employers, employees, group members. In fact, it’s suitable for everyone, because it’s NOT a self-help book. It explains what social anxiety is, so that you can understand.

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Both volumes of Dark London have now been published.

Find them at Volume One and Volume Two.

Dark London, Volumes One and Two

Eighteen fabulously dark stories centred in the famous city of London.

My story, Gruesome in Golders Green, begins with an unusual encounter in the suburb of Golders Green.

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That’s all for now, but watch this space….

Book News is the Best News!

In a way, I feel sorry for Katy. I imagine she had a tough upbringing and was left to fend for herself long before maturity found her. Even now, aged twenty-six, she makes some pretty bad decisions and seems unable to protect herself or plan any sort of future. I expect her outlook on life will change soon, but whether that change will be for the better remains to be seen.

Katy is one of the two women in my short story, Gruesome in Golders Green. The other woman? I’ll let you meet her when you read the story.

I’ve always liked the alliteration in the name Golders Green, which is a London suburb that borders Hendon, where I grew up. I enjoyed adding another G-word to create my title. ‘Gruesome’ fits the story perfectly.

My familiarity with north-west London led me to choose it for my setting and helped me to write the story. Google Maps also played a part in adding to my knowledge. So did Wikimedia Commons:

Rotherwick_Road, Golders_Green

Rotherwick Road, Golders Green. © Todd Keator / Rotherwick Road, Golders Green / CC BY-SA 2.0

The only other research I did for the story revolved around Katy’s lifestyle and UK police procedures.

Gruesome in Golders Green is the first of eighteen fabulous stories that comprise the two-volume anthology, Dark London, published by darkstroke. All proceeds will go to two charities: Centrepoint and The London Communities Foundation.

The first volume will be released on 25th June and the second on 2nd July, but both can be pre-ordered now. Click on the pictures if you dare!

Dark London, Volume TwoDark London, Volume One

…and something else.

I want to tell you a story, starting at the end. The lovely, kind, patient, funny, talented author, David W. Robinson, interviewed me here. David has written lots of books, the latest being The Anagramist, which you can read about here.

The Anagramist

Where does the story begin? It could start with my relationship with interviews, although I think that’s really backstory. In my previous life, my experience of face-to-face interviews was with job interviews. Frankly, the fact that I did get accepted for some jobs was probably despite those interviews.

I think the story should begin last Sunday, when David sent me the interview questions, but then I need to add a bit more backstory. Of course, if I were writing the story properly, I would begin at the beginning of the story itself and seamlessly weave in the backstory. As I’m not telling it properly, I’ll fill you in now. David originally told us authors that those who wanted to take part would create a video with our answers and he would add his part of the chat afterwards. I thought, I can do that; it’s like creating any video. And I volunteered. It was a bad decision, it turned out.

I’m still in the backstory, because at some point David realised it would be much easier for him to just record an online chat, using Skype or Zoom. This is when I should definitely have backed down, but I didn’t. I thought, I’ll work out the answers in advance, so surely it can’t be that hard. That’s me. I’ve never had that pre-event anxiety that’s supposed to be part of social anxiety. That’s not necessarily a positive trait.

Right. Finally, I can begin the story. David sent me the questions, I sent him my answers and we arranged a time for the interview on Zoom. I decided to use my mobile phone, because the camera on my laptop is too low down, and makes me look cross-eyed. But the phone, it turned out, created more problems than it solved. We weren’t synchronised, we had problems understanding each other and that wasn’t just because of David’s hearing difficulties and my lack of familiarity with the Yorkshire accent.

So we went back to the previously suggested method. I made my video (videos, actually, but let’s not get into that) and sent it to David. But he discovered that he couldn’t add his part without taking over the whole screen, rather than having us side by side all the time. So we eventually scrapped the video idea and David put the interview out as a written one. End of story?

Creating Videos

Yes, but I’ve missed something out. Although David was super kind and blamed everything on the technical problems on both sides, it must have been clear to him, as it was to me when I watched the videos, that my performance left a lot to be desired. While his part was polished and flowed easily, mine was hesitant and unnatural, as it used to be in job interviews, as I often sound when simply chatting. I’ve decided before that I don’t want to do video interviews because of that. Why did I let myself volunteer to be interviewed yet again? Because this is part of being an author in the 21st century. Because I think I need to crack this and always imagine that next time it’ll work better.

And how do I manage to give presentations? By practising beforehand and learning whole texts off by heart. Or by reading passages from the page. A presentation isn’t a chat; sometimes you can get away with that.

The imaginary pets? All part of David’s wonderful humour in our numerous emails. He made up cats and dogs, which led me to think of the rain we probably won’t see in Israel for five months, which led him to talk of droughts. And then there was a budgie (or there wasn’t). Maybe I should give up on being an author and open a pet shop with imaginary pets.

… and one in particular.

I know, some people prefer not to see them, but I generally like to see those posts from the past that pop up every day. Of course, some of them are no longer of interest, while others bring a smile to my face and words from my lips.

“Was that really six years ago?”

“Was that only last year? So much has happened to me since then.”

In the current climate, I also think of how the whole world has changed since last year.

One of today’s memories brought a different reaction from me: regret.

We met, she and I, in an online forum. Later, she started up another, smaller forum and I joined it. We interacted quite a lot. I even met her in person when we stayed together for two days.

Eventually, with the rise of Facebook, there didn’t seem any point in continuing with the forum. We became Facebook friends. She sent me a message in Hebrew; I was touched.

SadMemory

It couldn’t last. Although we had a lot in common – enough to chat about on the forum – there was too much that separated us. Topics that didn’t come up on the forum couldn’t help but come between us on Facebook. She broke off contact.

I think about her sometimes and hope she and her family are well and happy.

Facebook is supposed to bring people together, but sometimes it tears them apart.

Social Anxiety Revealed by Miriam Drori.

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My non-fiction guide to social anxiety has begun the next stage of a long and exciting journey.

The first stage, which lasted for thirteen years, transformed it from a collection of random ideas to structured text.

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Cover - Bestseller

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The second stage saw it travelling together with the many wonderful books – mostly fiction but also non-fiction – of the publisher, Crooked Cat Books.

As Crooked Cat changes direction, Social Anxiety Revealed had to part company and continue alone.

Social Anxiety Revealed by Miriam Drori.

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And so, my little book has now changed platforms and is standing proudly, thrilled to be beginning a new stage of the journey. Yes, you can now find it, with a few minor enhancements, on Smashwords.

 

 

 

 

 

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About Social Anxiety Revealed

Fear of other people? Most of us feel this occasionally, when giving a presentation or being grilled in a job interview. This is not social anxiety disorder.

Fear of what other people think of you? We have all felt this, too. It is why we dress as we do and generally try to behave in a way that is expected of us. This is not social anxiety disorder either.

But when those fears become so prevalent that they take over your life? When they cause you to hide away, either literally or by not revealing your real self? When you keep quiet in an attempt to avoid those raised eyebrows and the possible thoughts behind them? That is social anxiety disorder.

And it is much more common than you might think. In the mental health table, it comes third – after alcoholism and depression – and yet most people don’t even know it exists.

If you have social anxiety disorder, this book is for you.

Even if you don’t have social anxiety disorder, you might have a friend, a relative or a work colleague who does. You might see it developing in your son, your daughter, or a child you teach. This book is for you, too.

Social Anxiety Revealed is created by people who yearn to ditch all these problems and live their lives to the full.

Can you help? When you have read and understood, you’ll be in a much better position to do that.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been bored at all since lockdown. In fact, I’ve had more to do than usual.

I miss going out to folk dancing, which won’t take place for another month, and that date, of course, relies on the coronavirus figures going down. Fortunately, they are, despite the gradual relaxation of the rules.

What have I been doing all this time? It’s hard to remember. There have been a lot of Zoom meetings of different sorts. I’ve written, and edited, and submitted. Lately, I’ve been trying to keep afloat in a vast sea called Self-Publishing. (More about that, later.)

What I want to tell you now is that this book:

Dark London Volume OneDark London Volume One

is available for pre-order from Amazon and will be released by Darkstroke on 25th June.

This is a collection of short stories from authors across the world – Miriam Drori, Jess Popplewell, Ted Bun, Anne-Marie Ormsby, Kate Braithwaite, Donna Cuttress, Sue Barnard, Sam Hall and Cathie Dunn – with a special foreword text from international bestselling London author, Alice Castle.

Yes, that’s me up there.

All monies received will go to two London-based charities – The London Community Foundation and Centrepoint.

If you pre-order now, the book will land in your e-reader on launch day and you’ll have helped those charities. Here’s the link again.

UPDATE: Volume Two can also be pre-ordered now from here.

I’m author number seven out of the eighteen who have written stories for Dark London, the new anthology to be published by Darkstroke.

Dark London Authors

I’ve long thought of my lucky number as twenty-five. Why?

  • I was born on 25th August.
  • The house I grew up in was at number 75 (25 x 3).
  • I came to live in Israel on 25th October.
  • When I was 25, I lived at number 25.

However, seven is a rather special number in Judaism because:

  • The menorah (the 7-branched candelabrum) has been a symbol for Judaism for about 3000 years.
  • The festival of Sukkoth, which involves eating (and sometimes sleeping) in booths, as a reminder of the years when the Israelites wandered through the desert, lasts for 7 days.
  • Simchat Torah, the Rejoicing of the Torah, includes parading around the synagogue 7 times.
  • The wedding ceremony includes 7 blessings.
  • The festival of Shavuot, commemorating the receiving of the Torah, is celebrated 7 weeks after Passover, which commemorates the exodus from Egypt.
  • The shivah, the period of mourning, lasts for 7 days.

 

Ruth&David'sSukka

Inside a Sukkah (booth)

I couldn’t be author #25 because there aren’t 25 authors in the anthology, but I’m happy to be #7, and I imagine one of the characters in my short story is, too.

Publication will be this summer. I’m excited!

Letters from Elsewhere

Today, there’s a letter and two announcements for you.

The letter comes from John, who is Martin’s boss in Bournemouth, UK. John has popped over from the pages of my novel, Cultivating a Fuji. It’s 1976, shortly before the start of the novel.

The announcements follow the letter.

Dear Martin,

I’m at my wits’ end. I’ve tried other ways to no avail, and now I’m resorting to a letter. At the very least, I can now be sure you’ll understand how I feel about this matter. But I’m hoping for much more. I’m hoping you’ll write back with an explanation, and that you’ll give me hope to believe things will gradually change. I promise I won’t show your reply to anyone, if you don’t want me to.

You know, I’m sure, how much I appreciate your work – how much we all do. We all know you do the work of ten other programmers, and we’re always confident you’ll complete all your tasks on time and with extreme efficiency.

But employment in an office doesn’t end with producing output. There is always a social aspect to it. We expect all employees to interact sometimes, as this adds to the convivial atmosphere in the office.

I would have thought that you, too, would welcome more interaction. No one can work all the time without a break. Instead of spending your breaks hunched over your desk, you could be having a word with your colleagues. It doesn’t have to be anything deep – just a little something to break the ice and ease the tension.

I don’t know anything about your past life. Exam results don’t tell me much. I suspect something happened to make you so quiet. Maybe a lot of things happened. If you want to tell me about them, I’m here to listen. You can do it by letter, if you prefer. I repeat my promise: I won’t tell anyone what you confide in me.

But please, please do respond in some fashion. I’ve tried many different paths to reach you – not because I’m nosy, but because I really, really want to help. Because I’m sure you’d be much happier if you opened up a bit. If this doesn’t work, I don’t know what else to try. I genuinely want to help you, but I can’t think of any other way.

Yours,
         John

More information about Cultivating a Fuji and about its author (me) is available by clicking the tabs at the top, as well as at the Amazon link in Announcement 1 below.

Cultivating a FujiAnnouncement 1

Cultivating a Fuji (the Kindle version) is completely free this weekend. Do download it from Amazon while you can. I hope you enjoy reading it. That was my main intention in writing the story. I also hoped you’d think about the story after reading it not so that you feel uncomfortable, but so that you’d consider changing your behaviour in the future. Because, probably, everyone knows someone like Martin.

Announcement 2

I’ve been waiting for a long time to be able to make this announcement. I have a short story in the two-volume anthology, Dark London, that will be published by Darkstroke this summer. All royalties from this anthology will go to London-focused charities. I’m very excited about this, delighted to find myself in this amazing lineup of authors and looking forward to the publication.

Dark London Authors