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 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 Social anxiety

An Excerpt from Social Anxiety Revealed

My non-fiction book, Social Anxiety Revealed, is half price until the end of the month at Smashwords.

“Not for me,” I hear you say. “I don’t have social anxiety.”

That’s where you’re wrong. You might not have social anxiety, but someone you know does. Some family member, friend, colleague or stranger is struggling alone and needs your help, which you’ll be able to provide once you’ve read this book and gained understanding.

Parents and teachers should read the book to help stop children from reaching adulthood with this noose around their necks.

So, grab it now while it’s on sale.

Here, I read from the book. This excerpt is about avoidance.

Remember to get Social Anxiety Revealed while it’s on sale.

Categories
Books Rhymes Social anxiety

Loneliness

In the UK, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s topic is loneliness.

In the US, it’s Mental Health Awareness Month with the message of “Together for Mental Health.”

I always feel social anxiety gets forgotten in any discussion of mental health, and this year it’s more relevant than ever to the topic.

When I had time to be active in a social anxiety online forum, I came across an enormous number of lonely people. Most of those were also alone, while others were alone with their thoughts and emotions.

Why were they lonely? Because social anxiety is that voice in the head that says:

  • They don’t want you.
  • You’re not good enough.
  • They’ll laugh at you.

and similar negative remarks.

Social anxiety leads to avoidance, which leads to loneliness. It’s that simple.

You can turn away from this or decide to help.

***

About My Books

I don’t write only about social anxiety, but, as it happens, it crops up in all of these books:

Categories
Blogging Holidays Social anxiety

Thirteen Today

Not me, of course. I left that age long ago and am happy to say, “Good riddance.” It wasn’t a good time, although there were often good moments.

I need to remember that. We – I and my possible memoir partner – have come to the conclusion that the difficult parts of our childhoods are easier to remember. They stick in our memories, while the happy times pass with enjoyment and laughter. They’re not so clingy.

Is that how it is for everyone? Do you remember the sad times more than the happy ones? Or perhaps we all have a general impression of how things were, and need to dig deeper to remember episodes that don’t fit the mould.

So, who is thirteen today? Wrong question. It’s not who but what. On March 23, 2009, I posted this:

Speech is Silver; Silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

So tune in again, keep in touch and don’t suffer in silence.

I was afraid when I wrote that first blog post. On one hand, I knew it would help to feed my growing passion to raise awareness of social anxiety. On the other, I was scared of a backlash. Even in those days, social media was a double-edged sword. I was afraid anonymous people would tell me social anxiety didn’t exist – that it was a made-up term and the problems were not real, either. That’s why I had no name at first, except for the name of the blog: An’ de Walls Came Tumblin’ Down.

Fortunately, the feared ridicule hasn’t happened – not yet, not on social media, I’m glad to say.

Looking back at the person I was then, across the long bridge of thirteen years, I feel proud. Plenty has changed. I’ve become a published author, I’ve delivered talks, I’ve grown in confidence. I’ve also become a grandmother, met lots of people in various settings, and travelled widely.

I’m still walking that bridge and probably always will, but it feels less of a struggle, these days. I’ve accepted that social anxiety is here to stay and learned to make friends with it.

Crossing a river during a hike in Norway, 2001

How about you? How have you changed in the past thirteen years, and do you tend to remember the sad parts of your childhood more than the happy ones? Do let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Books Social anxiety

Social Anxiety in Hunter’s Rules

I’m delighted to welcome friend and author, Val Penny to tell us about social anxiety in her Edinburgh Crime Novels and in particular the brand new Hunter’s Rules.

In the real world, many people consciously restrict their contact with others due to the social anxiety they suffer, and I try to illustrate this in my series of Edinburgh Crime Novels through the character of Frankie Hope.

 Frankie is now a young man, but as a child he was bullied by his mother and insulted by his father. This has left him cautious of interaction in the wider world. He fears being thought of negatively so, in Hunter’s Rules, the most recent book in my crime fiction series, he waits in two long lines during a prison visit to his uncle, Ian. Otherwise, he would have had to return empty-handed and get scolded by Ian. That is not an option for Frankie.

Frankie also finds it difficult to initiate conversations with strangers. They cause him a great deal of embarrassment. However, he works in the family business, a car showroom where new customers are always unknown to him, so rather than approach them, he will usually leave his more ebullient cousin, Jamie, to make the first approach.

Social anxiety also usually holds a fear for those who suffer from it that they may humiliate themselves in some way or do or say something out of place. They worry about drawing attention to themselves and getting a negative reaction. Frankie is no different.

During his adolescence, he suffered from severe acne and, although he dated the prettiest and nicest girl at his high school, he did not have the confidence to understand why she might like him. The girl had to make the first move; Frankie certainly would not do so.

The only people Frankie is really relaxed around are those he knows best, his twin daughters, Kylie-Ann and Dannii-Ann, his fiancée Donna and his cousin Jamie. They live together in the house Frankie inherited from his parents and I doubt Frankie will ever move – the anxiety would be too great.

Set in Edinburgh, the beautiful capital city of Scotland, Hunter’s Rules revolves largely around Frankie, Jamie and their loved ones. There is no doubt that they are impatient for DI Hunter Wilson and his team to solve the case that has touched them so deeply.

Thank you for explaining that, Val. Here’s some more information about Hunter’s Rules, which launches on 1st January, 2022.

About Hunter’s Rules

A bloody scene brings Hunter and Meera’s romantic plans to an abrupt end.

A young woman was attacked in a hotel lift. She has life changing injuries, but she is alive. Hunter notes that her wounds are like those inflicted on two women who previously died.  

Can Meera keep the injured woman alive long enough for her to identify her assailant? Is the same person responsible for all three crimes? When Hunter is identified as a suspect in the crime, can he establish his innocence and lead his team to solve the crime and keep Edinburgh safe?

Author BIO

This is the sixth book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series of novels. Val Penny’s other crime novels, Hunter’s Chase Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret form the rest of this bestselling series set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke.

You can also start at the beginning of The Jane Renwick Thrillers with The First Cut.

 Her first non-fiction book Let’s Get Published is also available now and she has most recently contributed her short story, Cats and Dogs to a charity anthology, Dark Scotland.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland with her husband and their cat.

Categories
Books Israel Social anxiety

Transport

Transport is the word I’ve chosen to describe all three parts of this post.

1. A Tour

My latest novel, Style and the Solitary, is going on tour from tomorrow with Reading Between the Lines – Online Book PR. Watch out for social media posts using the hashtag #styleandthesolitary.

2. An International Event

Smashwords even travels to the other hemisphere (which is more than I’ve done). That’s why their current sale is called The Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale. Even my book, Social Anxiety Revealed, has travelled further than me. Try it. It might transport you to a world you don’t know, or one you know all too well. In either case it will further better understanding.

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.

3. A First

My granddaughter is now old enough for her first form of self-driven transport.

And somehow, despite raising three children and definitely having one of these in the house, I’ve only just discovered the name for it in Israel: Bimba. What do you call it?

Categories
Books Social anxiety The Power of Belief The writing process

Ask and You Will Be Answered

Yesterday evening was Ladies Who Launch – a joint online launch event with the fabulous authors, Jo Fenton and Alison Knight. And me. We were celebrating the launch of our new novels:

I was looking forward to reading an extract from my novel, but not so much to tackling questions. In fact I was sure I’d mess that part up. I was ready to say, “I haven’t done your question justice, but I’d be happy to answer it properly on social media.”

In the event, there were no such problems and I managed to answer fairly well. But there was a different problem. There were several questions that I didn’t get to answer, many of which I didn’t even have a chance to see.

So, I’m opening this post up for the questions that weren’t answered, and for questions that weren’t asked before. Ask, in the comments below, about Style and the Solitary. Ask about me as an author, or as a person. With time to consider my responses, I’m likely provide a more satisfactory answer, anyway. I’ll reply to the comments or write one or more separate posts in response if the question warrants it.

What you should know about Style and the Solitary

  • It’s a murder mystery
  • It’s set in Jerusalem
  • It includes a romance
  • One character has social anxiety
  • One character is a new immigrant from France
  • It involves the power of belief

Ask away!

And many thanks to all those who attended the event and those who tried but failed.

Categories
Books Everyday life Israel Social anxiety

Going Out – Coming Out

Today, 23rd March, is a day for going out and for celebrating coming out.

I, together with the rest of the citizens of this country (hopefully) will be going out to vote. It’s only a year since we last voted and we all hope the next government will last for longer. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the election results will give a better advantage to any party.

Voting
Voting in 2013

Today is also an anniversary. Twelve years ago, I began this blog, tentatively, anonymously, scared to own up to having social anxiety, even though I knew it was obvious. Optimistcally, I called the blog and myself “An’ de walls came tumblin’ down.” They haven’t tumbled, but they have some large chinks.

Nevertheless, a lot has happened in that time. It could all be summed up in the words “I came out.” It’s made a big difference to me that I can write about having social anxiety and give presentations about it, even though it’s still hard to talk about.

Where were you, twelve years ago? Have you changed over the years?

Categories
Books Interviews Social anxiety

Useful Tips – Not For Me

Following several great interviews of her own, Rose McClelland has posted her five tips for a great radio interview.

They’re excellent tips – the sort of tips that make you think, “I can nail this!” Even I started to think that as I read. But I checked myself: “No, I can’t,” and this was the trigger:

Imagine that they’re sitting opposite you. Imagine it’s a friend or acquaintance who has a genuine interest in your book and wants to know more about it. Chat away to that presenter as you would to anybody.

The way I would chat to anybody isn’t what you want to hear on the radio. That’s why I’m not going to do this. I would need to plan my words in advance, as in a presentation.

Miriam Drori: presenting on social anxiety

But you can do it, I’m sure. If you’re considering a radio interview about your book(s), read the tips and go for it!

In contrast, I was delighted to be interviewed by Paula R. C. Readman recently because [spoiler alert] the clubhouse tearoom is virtual and I had plenty of time to plan my answers.

Where do you stand on interviews?