Categories
Books Reviews Social anxiety

Cultivating a Fuji: Reviews 1

Cultivating a Fuji in the world: Reviews 1

Now that Cultivating a Fuji (new edition with Ocelot Press) is well and truly out in the world and I have time to breathe, I’m posting the review excerpts from my last post in a better way, so that they can be seen on any device.

There are other reviews, which I will post soon. I’m so proud of the reactions to Cultivating a Fuji so far, and hope the novel will be read by many more readers.

You can find Cultivating a Fuji here.
The paperback is on its way.

Splashes Into Books

This is a very moving story.   There are many other characters and the author does an amazing job of developing them all. It is an intriguing and thought-provoking story, a very different read with a dramatic twist at the end that had me rethinking assumptions I’d made when reading the earlier part of the book.

The Bookwormery

[I] found it to be a moving description of social anxiety and just how traumatic a simple meeting can be for sufferers….yes there’s humour, but I found this to be a sad, poignant and thought provoking tale.

FNM

This is a book that is guaranteed to stay with you long after you read it, it is a book that really makes you think with a few surprises along the way.

Jan’s Book Buzz

Drori tells a story that can only come from a place of empathy and recognition. It says: “I know you. I see you. I hear you. I understand you.”

Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog and here

I think the way Drori went about this was thought provoking. It’s a stage with Martin smack bang in the middle with a spotlight on him.

In de Boekenkast

Cultivating a Fuji is a very touching story about how hard it can be to fit in the crowd. Martin’s character is well-developed and even the minor personalities have their own past and problems in this wonderful story.

Grace J Reviewerlady

What a beautiful book! This is a novel I will reflect on time and time again.  This isn’t a ‘preachy’ read; rather it is one of understanding and compassion, and it has brought another excellent author into my world. Extremely enjoyable, providing much food for thought and, in my humble opinion, no less than five stars will do it justice!

Radzy Writes

These scenes were deeply uncomfortable for me, as someone who experienced bullying, so I’d be mindful of how you feel, but it’s written sensitively and in a beautifully validating way.   The thing I appreciated most about this novel was the way the author constructed a novel elevating social anxiety as a real, difficult thing. She either experiences the illness herself or has done her work. Where the Curious Incident with The Dog in the Night-time is a beautiful novel explaining autism, this, for me, is the work to explain social anxiety.

Mai’s Musings

Even when I wasn’t reading the book I found I was thinking about it and counting down to when I could pick it up again.   This is an extremely important book for helping people gain an understanding of social anxiety, and just how deeply it can affect the entire lives of sufferers.

Book Lovers’ Booklist

Author Miriam Drori has written a compelling, heart-warming and thought-provoking UpLit exploration of loneliness and social anxiety.   It was impossible not to be gripped by Martin’s journey, which begins with a business trip to Japan. And, then there’s a whammy of an ending that’ll leave you gasping…

Nesie’s Place

This is Martin’s story but there are multiple POVs to show not everyone thinks badly or only want to ridicule him. People want to help… they just don’t know how.   Cultivating a Fuji is a good read lovers of contemporary and literary fiction will enjoy, and the twisty conclusion will linger long after the story’s end.

What Cathy Read Next

Not everyone is without sympathy for Martin either but sometimes, as the book shows, people willing to help him (such as his boss, John) don’t know the best way to go about it or may inadvertently choose the wrong way.   There were some great scenes full of humour… I really enjoyed the second part of the book in which we learn of Martin’s life following his return from Japan. Cultivating a Fuji does a great job of highlighting the experiences of those with social anxiety disorder and the challenges they face using the medium of fiction.

Doublestackedshelves

I think the resilience Martin inadvertently learned from his school years, sets him on the path he takes, and propels the story forward into a new chapter in his life.   There are plenty of moments of contrition in this book, and the feel is generally cathartic. I did find certain aspects troubling, as I think we are meant to.

From Under the Duvet

Miriam Drori has sensitively exposed the reality of living with social anxiety and the impact it has on all involved while creating a character I love in an uplifting, memorable novel.

JenaBooks

Miriam Drori, the author, is a marvellous storyteller, especially in her ability to create real and relatable characters. You will be charmed by the story of Martin and all the people he meets. In this book, even the minor walk-on characters are fully developed with fascinating back stories.

Herding Cats

It’s such a beautiful and thought provoking story.   The first half of this book completely and utterly broke my heart then tenderly pieced it back together, filling it with so much joy.  This is really an uplifting novel.

Becca’s Books

I thought the choice to tell the story from both Martin’s perspective and the perspective of those around him added depth to the emotional landscape. The author seems to understand the challenges faced by those of us with social anxiety as well as the troubles that exist for others who try to interact with us.

Books Are Cool

This is a very cleverly constructed novel and beautifully written. There’s no preaching or wallowing. The author presents the issue of social anxiety and gives us a view from both sides: from those who experience it and those who feel that it’s OK to put others down and induce such misery. There’s hope and despair, love and disappointment, achievement and failure, happiness and missed opportunities in this richly textured book that’s rewarding and poignantly enjoyable to read.

Categories
Books

Publication Day for Fuji

World image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Cultivating a Fuji is out in the world!

In June 2019, I posted excerpts from some of the reviews for the first edition of Cultivating a Fuji. They are copied below. If you haven’t read the novel yet, I hope you enjoy the experience as much as these reviewers did. (Apologies, the table doesn’t work well on a mobile phone.)

The new edition is out today with Ocelot Press.
You can find it here.
The paperback is on its way.

WebsiteDateQuotes
Splashes Into Books13th MayThis is a very moving story.   There are many other characters and the author does an amazing job of developing them all. It is an intriguing and thought-provoking story, a very different read with a dramatic twist at the end that had me rethinking assumptions I’d made when reading the earlier part of the book.
The Bookwormery15th May————————–
[I] found it to be a moving description of social anxiety and just how traumatic a simple meeting can be for sufferers….yes there’s humour, but I found this to be a sad, poignant and thought provoking tale.
FNM15th May————————–
This is a book that is guaranteed to stay with you long after you read it, it is a book that really makes you think with a few surprises along the way.
Jan’s Book Buzz15th May————————–
Drori tells a story that can only come from a place of empathy and recognition. It says: “I know you. I see you. I hear you. I understand you.”
Cheryl M-M’s Book Blog and here15th May————————–
I think the way Drori went about this was thought provoking. It’s a stage with Martin smack bang in the middle with a spotlight on him.
In de Boekenkast16th May————————–
Cultivating a Fuji is a very touching story about how hard it can be to fit in the crowd. Martin’s character is well-developed and even the minor personalities have their own past and problems in this wonderful story.
Grace J Reviewerlady17th May————————–
What a beautiful book! This is a novel I will reflect on time and time again.   This isn’t a ‘preachy’ read; rather it is one of understanding and compassion, and it has brought another excellent author into my world. Extremely enjoyable, providing much food for thought and, in my humble opinion, no less than five stars will do it justice!
Radzy Writes17th May————————–
These scenes were deeply uncomfortable for me, as someone who experienced bullying, so I’d be mindful of how you feel, but it’s written sensitively and in a beautifully validating way.   The thing I appreciated most about this novel was the way the author constructed a novel elevating social anxiety as a real, difficult thing. She either experiences the illness herself or has done her work. Where the Curious Incident with The Dog in the Night-time is a beautiful novel explaining autism, this, for me, is the work to explain social anxiety.
Mai’s Musings18th May————————–
Even when I wasn’t reading the book I found I was thinking about it and counting down to when I could pick it up again.   This is an extremely important book for helping people gain an understanding of social anxiety, and just how deeply it can affect the entire lives of sufferers.
Book Lovers’ Booklist19th May————————–
Author Miriam Drori has written a compelling, heart-warming and thought-provoking UpLit exploration of loneliness and social anxiety.   It was impossible not to be gripped by Martin’s journey, which begins with a business trip to Japan. And, then there’s a whammy of an ending that’ll leave you gasping…
Nesie’s Place19th May————————–
This is Martin’s story but there are multiple POVs to show not everyone thinks badly or only want to ridicule him. People want to help… they just don’t know how.   Cultivating a Fuji is a good read lovers of contemporary and literary fiction will enjoy, and the twisty conclusion will linger long after the story’s end.
What Cathy Read Next19th May————————–
Not everyone is without sympathy for Martin either but sometimes, as the book shows, people willing to help him (such as his boss, John) don’t know the best way to go about it or may inadvertently choose the wrong way.   There were some great scenes full of humour… I really enjoyed the second part of the book in which we learn of Martin’s life following his return from Japan. Cultivating a Fuji does a great job of highlighting the experiences of those with social anxiety disorder and the challenges they face using the medium of fiction.
Doublestackedshelves20th May————————–
I think the resilience Martin inadvertently learned from his school years, sets him on the path he takes, and propels the story forward into a new chapter in his life.   There are plenty of moments of contrition in this book, and the feel is generally cathartic. I did find certain aspects troubling, as I think we are meant to.
From Under the Duvet20th May————————–
Miriam Drori has sensitively exposed the reality of living with social anxiety and the impact it has on all involved while creating a character I love in an uplifting, memorable novel.
JenaBooks21st May————————–
Miriam Drori, the author, is a marvellous storyteller, especially in her ability to create real and relatable characters. You will be charmed by the story of Martin and all the people he meets. In this book, even the minor walk-on characters are fully developed with fascinating back stories.
Herding Cats21st May————————–
It’s such a beautiful and thought provoking story.   The first half of this book completely and utterly broke my heart then tenderly pieced it back together, filling it with so much joy.  This is really an uplifting novel.
Becca’s Books22nd May————————–
I thought the choice to tell the story from both Martin’s perspective and the perspective of those around him added depth to the emotional landscape. The author seems to understand the challenges faced by those of us with social anxiety as well as the troubles that exist for others who try to interact with us.
Books Are Cool22nd May————————–
This is a very cleverly constructed novel and beautifully written. There’s no preaching or wallowing. The author presents the issue of social anxiety and gives us a view from both sides: from those who experience it and those who feel that it’s OK to put others down and induce such misery. There’s hope and despair, love and disappointment, achievement and failure, happiness and missed opportunities in this richly textured book that’s rewarding and poignantly enjoyable to read.
Excerpts from reviews of Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori.
Categories
Books Social anxiety

Why I chose to write about a guy with Social Anxiety

With the republication of my uplit novel, I’m reposting this article from 2019, which first appeared on donnasbookblog.

My childhood was marred by bullying. It was the urge to do something to stop the bullying that led me to catch social anxiety. I kept quiet as much as I could, because they couldn’t tease me for things I said if I didn’t say them, and this became a habit that I couldn’t discard when I wanted to.

Decades later, after discovering this thing that had “strangled” me for so long had a name, and that I was by no means alone with this problem, I joined an online forum for sufferers of social anxiety. Here, I learned a lot about the others, about what we shared as well as our differences. I realised that most of the others, like me, had mistakenly imagined themselves to be alone with it, and that people they came into contact with usually misunderstood their behaviour. It was because of these things I discovered as a member of the forum, that I became passionate about raising awareness of social anxiety.

Writing was the natural way for me to do this, and I put together a book full of quotes from sufferers, who all agreed for their words to be published, providing they remained anonymous. So this was the first book I wrote, back in 2004, although it was only published in 2017, called Social Anxiety Revealed.

Cultivating a Fuji, on the other hand, is fiction, and it’s first and foremost a good story. (Fortunately, I’m not the only person to think so.) Martin, the protagonist, struggles to push the boundaries imposed on him by social anxiety, and readers enjoy rooting for him.

Martin – and Fiona, who appears later on – have been with me for several years. They appeared in the first novel I tried to write, a novel that, I learned later, didn’t have a strong enough story line. Fortunately, I scrapped that novel, had two short stories and then two novels published, and am delighted that Martin and Fiona will now see the light in this new and compelling story, fighting the demons in their quest for happiness.

There aren’t many novels involving characters with social anxiety, and I’m so glad to be able to add to their number. One of the others, The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan, is very well-written with a strong plot, but I had two main reservations about it. One is that the reason for Mary’s social anxiety was given as one devastating incident that occurred when she was sixteen. I felt there must have been more that we weren’t told about. The other was the very extreme nature of her anxiety, which caused her to hide from society completely. While there are certainly cases like hers, it is much more common for sufferers to force themselves to function in society however much of a struggle that is. I think someone who reads of an extreme case like this could make light of the effort made by someone who appears to function fairly normally.

One more thing I need to say: Martin isn’t me. Although there are some similarities between us, there are also many differences in our natures, upbringing and other experiences.

About Cultivating a Fuji

Convinced that his imperfect, solitary existence is the best it will ever be, Martin unexpectedly finds himself being sent to represent his company in Japan. His colleagues think it’s a joke; his bosses are certain he will fail. What does Martin think? He simply does what he’s told. That’s how he’s survived up to now – by hiding his feelings.

Amazingly, in the land of strange rituals, sweet and juicy apples, and too much saké, Martin flourishes and achieves the impossible. But that’s only the beginning. Keeping up the momentum for change proves futile. So, too, is a return to what he had before. Is there a way forward, or should he put an end to the search now?

Gradually, as you’ll see when Martin looks back from near the end of his journey, life improves. There’s even a woman, Fiona, who brings her own baggage to the relationship, but brightens Martin’s days. And just when you think there can be no more surprises, another one pops up.

Throughout his life, people have laughed at ‘weirdo’ Martin; and you, as you read, will have plenty of opportunity to laugh, too. Go ahead, laugh away, but you’ll find that there’s also a serious side to all this…

Fujiya Hotel in Hakone Mianoshita, Japan

Cultivating a Fuji is republished with Ocelot Press this Thursday, 19th January and is available for pre-order.

Categories
Books Holidays

Being an Outsider

Sometimes, being an outsider is all right.

On our many trips abroad over the years, we have always been outsiders. Not so much in the UK, where most people don’t usually realise we’re not one of them, but most definitely in places like India, Ethiopia, Egypt and Japan, even when we dressed like the indigenous population.

India – Odisha – Bison Horn Maria village.
Dancing in Egypt
Ethiopia 2017: Wakonos Village.
We are Japanese, if you please.

In my childhood, I was an unwilling outsider. Like all children, I wanted to fit in but I never did.

However, my outsiderness was never as severe as Martin’s. He suffered in silence, learning behaviours that made life bearable as a child, but didn’t prepare him for being adult.

That all changed for Martin when he was sent to Japan to represent his company, not necessarily in a good way, although ultimately…

No, I won’t tell you the ending of Cultivating a Fuji, the new edition of which is out in one week: 19th January. You can pre-order it now from Amazon.

Nowadays, I’m happy to be an outsider. As an author, it’s helpful to get an outsider’s perspective. And I like being unique, rather than fitting some pattern. What a shame that children can’t see those benefits, or accept differences.

Categories
Books

What on Earth is UPLIT?

With the republication of my uplit novel, I’m posting an updated version of this post from 2019.

The marriage of uplit and Cultivating a Fuji.

What is UPLIT and why might it interest me?

If you look up uplit in a dictionary, you’re likely to find that either it doesn’t exist or it’s the past of the verb uplight: to illuminate from below. But google it and you’ll find uplit or up lit is a genre people are starting to talk about. And to read.

Possibly, there is a connection between those two meanings of uplit. It’s about lighting the world from below, from the ordinary people, rather than having to endure spotlights from above.

An uplit novel is one of kindness, compassion and empathy. But it doesn’t sugar-coat the world; it’s “about facing devastation, cruelty, hardship and loneliness and then saying: ‘But there is still this,’” says author Rachel Joyce. Uplit novels are books that embrace difference, idiosyncrasy and those who are either marginalised or overlooked by society.

Uplit is about broken people who become fixed. Three examples are:

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Uplit gives us readers control. It makes us realise that we can change the world – not the politicians, the dictators or the superstars, but people like you and me. We can make the world a better place, each in our own small way, and the more of us who do it, the greater effect it will have.

Uplit helps us to develop empathy for marginalised groups: immigrants, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities or mental health problems. Sadly and weirdly, another group often labelled as marginalised is women. How can a group that consists of slightly more than half the population be marginalised? Yet, it is.

My novel, Cultivating a Fuji, to be republished through Ocelot Press on 19th January, focuses on a marginalised character who doesn’t have a voice, at least not a spoken one. He is not able to explain how or why or who he is. And most people naturally fail to understand and simply label him as weird. Fortunately, a few of those he meets attempt to delve deeper, to reach inside his fortified exterior, and they are the characters who give the novel its uplit flavour. He is the only person who can turn his life around, but he needs those kind, understanding characters.

An island in Switzerland.

“No man is an island entire of itself.” ~John Donne

If the novel helps to create more empathy in our fragmented world, I will be delighted. But most of all, Cultivating a Fuji is a good story. When I first wrote this post, I had to say that myself. Now I can quote from the reviews. Here are a few:

Categories
Books

oSALEot

At the end of this post, there are bargains for you.

Most of what I know about Christmas comes from singing Christmas carols at school. The one I liked best (for the tune and the change of tune for the third verse) is called Three Kings from Persian Lands afar.

This carol was also useful when I studied music, because its first interval is a major sixth.

That was when I heard (and sang) about three kings who brought gifts to the “newborn king of the Jews”.

Now I hear that this took place on Twelfth Night, and that’s why Ocelot Press is holding a Twelfth Night Sale of ebooks.

Style and the Solitary is just one of those books, all of which can be found on Amazon – individually or by searching for Ocelot Press. Here are the others:

Happy reading!

Categories
Books

Trumpet Blowing

Saturday night folk dancing sessions in Jerusalem are run by Ofer Alfasi.

Ofer is very talented and diligent. He knows all the dances very well. He invests a lot of effort, demonstrating from the centre of the circle and watching to make sure we’ve learnt properly.

But he’s not good at blowing his own trumpet. He’s reticent about introducing the dances he choreographed. Fortunately, another Ofer, who also has a dance to his name, has been championing the first Ofer’s dances recently, and they’re really good.

I’m no better at blowing my own trumpet, but I need to say this, so please forgive me:

I recently reread my novel, Cultivating a Fuji, making very minor changes to it. And as I read it, I realised how good it is, and how much I’d love it to be read widely, firstly for enjoyment – the story mixes poignancy, humour, sadness and hope – and also to increase understanding in our crazy world.

The reason why I reread it was that it’s now being republished through Ocelot Press. Here’s where you can read about it at Ocelot Press.

And then, on Facebook, someone asked, “What are your writing strengths?”

I replied, “I think I do have strengths, but I’ve never owned a trumpet or blown one.”

But this is the time I need to fight my inclinations and blow my own trumpet from the rooftops! (And mix metaphors.)

To find out more about Cultivating a Fuji, watch these short trailers:

Cultivating a Fuji is available to pre-order ahead of the 19th January release on Amazon.

Categories
Books Israel memories

The Long and the Short of it

Apparently, this was my Facebook profile pic on this day in 2014.

To me, now, it looks as if I forgot to comb my fringe (bangs?). There are some better pics taken later that month.

Well, I’m not planning to change my profession to model of a certain age. But 1st January 2014 is significant because it’s the day I had my hair cut short, hoping for further changes that year. And they came, starting with a publishing deal with Crooked Cat for my romance novel (currently unavailable), Neither Here Nor There.

As I wrote to a friend on Facebook, that was the day when I shortened my hair and lengthened my expectations.

Do you have a significant first of January? Maybe yours is happening as I write. Do tell. And…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Watch out for my next post, which will be about an uplifting story.

Categories
Books Everyday life Interviews Israel

What was I Doing in Tel-Aviv on Publication Day?

Yesterday was publication day for Style and the Solitary, edition 2 with Ocelot Press.

My job was to announce the occasion on social media and respond to well-wishers, as well as sharing various guest posts that bloggers had kindly posted for me.

I did just that – in the morning. And then, after lunch, I went to Tel-Aviv. Why on earth…?

The publication date had been fixed for 27th October when our musician daughter asked if we’d like to go to a birthday performance by singer Ronit Shachar, held in a garden in Tel-Aviv. We couldn’t turn that down – we knew it would be good. Besides, I reckoned that after spending the day with my novel, it would be all right to go out in the evening.

Daughter got the tickets for the four of us. Then there was a suggestion that as we were all going to be in Tel-Aviv, we could meet earlier and do other things. We ended up meeting in Yarkon Park, where we went for a longish walk, then walking by the sea around sunset and eating some delicious vegan food in a restaurant called J17.

The concert, which also included other performers like Corinne Allal, was excellent and even worth the cramped seating on damp fake grass. And the proceeds went to an animal sanctuary.

After the performance, we had to collect a rather large electric piano which was hard to fit in our van. It was after 2 a.m. when we returned home.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to do the driving, and I spent the journeys trying to catch up with all the kind posts and comments about my book launch.

On the subject of blog posts, here’s what I’ve written about various aspects of Style and the Solitary:

BloggerTopicDate
Vanessa CouchmanSteeped in France25/10/22
Kateri StanleyInterview27/10/22
Nancy JardineInspiration27/10/22
Sue BarnardWhy I turned to crime28/10/22
Jen WilsonSettingsTBA
Cathie DunnSecretsTBA

Normal life will return shortly. Maybe.

Categories
Books

It’s Out

Style and the Solitary has come out of its temporary hiding place and is sitting proudly on Amazon, where you can pre-order it ahead of its 27th October release.

This is edition 2, with small improvements but still the same story. The next novel in the series will follow.

There will also be a paperback of Style and the Solitary. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

What is Style and the Solitary?

  • Cosy crime
  • Murder mystery
  • An Ocelot Press book
  • Set in Jerusalem
  • Based on Beauty and the Beast
  • Contains humour, romance, friendships, songs and much more.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s your opportunity.