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I’ve been taking a fascinating online course on screenwriting at FutureLearn.

As an exercise, we are to write a character outline for a character from a film or a character of our own. Naturally, I chose Martin from my novel, Cultivating a Fuji.

List the character’s major actions. Start from the end and work backwards. (Don’t analyse how or why; just create a list of actions.)

These are actions in Martin’s life. The list doesn’t exactly correspond to events in the novel.

  • Death
  • Lecture
  • Second visit to Japan
  • Marriage
  • Walk to Hengistbury Head
  • First visit to Japan
  • Move to Bournemouth
  • Job acceptance
  • Begin university
  • Begin school

Analyse the list to reveal the character’s wants and needs. Is the character aware of what they want?

  • Death: Wants/needs nothing.
  • Lecture: Wants to explain social anxiety and remove feelings of guilt in others. (Aware)
  • Second visit to Japan: Wants to enjoy and reminisce. (Aware)
  • Marriage: Wants to be happy and make someone else happy. (Aware)
  • Walk to Hengistbury Head: Wants to make a decision. Needs to change lifepath. (Aware)
  • First visit to Japan: Wants to succeed in mission. Needs self-confidence. (Unaware)
  • Move to Bournemouth: Wants to succeed in job.  (Aware)
    Needs company. (Unaware)
  • Job application: Wants to be accepted. (Aware)
    Needs more confidence. (Unaware)
  • Begin university: Wants to do well academically. (Aware)
    Needs to socialise. (Unaware)
  • Begin school: Wants to do well academically and to be accepted socially. (Aware)

Describe how the character thinks and look at his or her basic psychology. Intelligent? Intellectually engaged? Cognitive Biases? Impulsive? Cautious?

He’s intelligent and his job provides intellectual engagement.
At first, he likes people and wants to befriend them. Later, he sees they’re mostly nasty and tries to keep away from them. As adults, they’re mostly nice, but he thinks he’s unable to connect with them.
Over the years, his self-esteem regarding social interactions has plummeted.
He has become too aware of his limitations to be impulsive or even spontaneous.

Describe the character’s superficial affect. How might a casual acquaintance describe them?

Quiet, strange, frightened. Apparently stupid, ignorant of social norms and void of feelings.

List any important physical characteristics

Slim, short hair, blue eyes. Clothes not always suitable. Tension visible in his posture.

Quote from Cultivating a Fuji by Miriam Drori

 

I happened to read this in a recent article in the Jewish Chronicle:

In recent years, as antisemitism has become ever more of a news item… lazy journalists reach for some easy stereotypes of black- hatted and bearded Jews in Stamford Hill to illustrate any news piece about the Jewish community.

This notion might have grown, but it’s not new. It must be over twenty years since my son got separated from his father in a funfair in England. He found himself searching a CCTV screen along with a man who said, “Oh, you come from Israel. So we’re searching for a man with a black hat and a beard.”

Another time, I was sitting in a little tourist train in Bournemouth when I saw two women watching a family whose dress made them stand out. You know, hat, beard, black suit, dress covering knees and elbows, little boys with dreadlocks and tassles. One woman turned to the other and said, “They’re Jews,” and I wanted to say, “We’re not all like that.”

It’s been an awfully long time since I visited Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel-Aviv. The part I remember most about it is the never-ending pictures of Jews flashing past on a screen. And they’re all so different.

That’s all I wanted to say in this post. Jews come in all shapes, sizes, colours and dress.

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I looked up “Jews” in some free image sites, looking for a picture for this post. Guess what I found and why there’s no picture attached to this post.

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We’re remembering one Jew and Israeli who sadly passed away two days ago: the brilliant author, Amos Oz. While not everyone agreed with his views, we all acknowledge and appreciate his love for this country.

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Good morning, everyone.

Letters from Elsewhere won’t appear this morning, I’m afraid, due to a misunderstanding. It might appear later today or on a different day. We shall see.

Instead, I have a surprise for you… someone who was shocked on reading my book.

ShockedReader

You can read her story on the other blog.

This is such an interesting question: If we were all forced to wear a warning label, what would yours say?

I think in the past mine would have said:

Warning: BORING AND HESITANT

Now it would say:

Warning: APPEARS HESITANT AND BORING AT FIRST, BUT ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS AND YOU WILL BE SURPRISED

What’s your warning label?

Nancy Jardine posted a link to this fascinating article on Facebook recently. I was amazed. I knew about Mary Anning through reading Tracy Chevalier’s novel Remarkable Creatures, but I’d never connected her with the well-known tongue twister:

She sells seashells on the seashore.

Well, that’s how I knew it, although apparently it should be:

She sells seashells by the seashore.

Remembering that again made me think of other tongue twisters:

Betty Botter bought some butter.
“But,” she said, “the butter’s bitter…”

 

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers…

And our own family tongue twister, discovered while on holiday in Switzerland:

Das Schloss Spiez

TakingThePlunge

If you don’t know how to pronounce German, it should be something like this:

Dass Shloss Shpeetz

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Author of the Day

Mary Grand interests me for several reasons. One is that she lives on the Isle of Wight, which I’ve visited many times. My other half fondly remembers family holidays there. But the main thing that first interested me about Mary is her first novel, Free to be Tegan, about a young woman who leaves a particularly strict cult. The similarities to and differences from my debut novel, Neither Here Nor There, didn’t escape me. Now, Mary has a new novel out: Hidden Chapters.

 

We don’t travel around a lot when we’re at home. We tend to spend much of our time in our garden and leave touring for holidays. Unlike my friend, Lisa Isaacs, who travels regularly and writes fascinating blog posts about the places she goes to.

But there are a few places I’ve visited recently:

The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art

FriederikeMariaBeerByKlimtPart of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, this pavilion provided us an interesting hour or two. Due to my forthcoming novel, written together with Emma Rose Millar, I was particularly pleased to see a painting by Gustav Klimt. This portrait was commissioned by the young Viennese socialite, Friederike Maria Beer. She arrived at the modelling session wearing a hand-painted silk dress and a fur jacket. Klimt was taken with the lining of the jacket and asked her to turn it inside out.

Sarona

As a place to eat, shop and wander around, Sarona, which is in Tel-Aviv, is still quite new. But its history goes back to 1871, when the German Templers established a colony there.

MigdalDavid19The Tower of David

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Jerusalem’s Tower of David has a much longer history, which I won’t delve into here, but I plan to write about it very soon.

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Author of the Day

Sue Barnard doesn’t parade her wide knowledge, but it accompanies her to quiz programmes and to wherever she write her novels. She’s had three published, two of those influenced by Shakespeare, and there’s another on the way. I met Sue, first online and then in person, four years ago and we’ve been friends ever since.

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Update: It was while tweeting about this post that I realised I should have mentioned an event that links two of its themes: an excellent outdoor performance of Macbeth by Theater in the Rough.

Macbeth

 

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.

The day after the attack, I saw tweets blaming Jews for it. I saw tweets blaming Israel for it. After voicing my response to no one but myself,

No, Mr Israel-hater. The fact that Israel hasn’t had an attack on that scale is not an indication that Israel caused the Nice attack. Firstly, Israel has more attacks than you know about because the so-called impartial media chooses not to mention them. And secondly, Israel has better security in place than France. The terrorists would love to damage Israel in that way.

I tried to ignore those.

I saw Theresa May, the brand new UK Prime Minister said she was “shocked and concerned” about the attack. Someone suggested “concerned” was too woolly a word and that others would think even “horrified” was not strong enough. I agreed with that and also wondered about the word “shocked.” It carries with it a sense of surprise and, unfortunately, I don’t feel at all surprised. France has suffered a number of horrific, devastating attacks and there’s no reason why these attacks won’t continue. Nothing has changed that might facilitate an end to the trend.

But I do feel extremely sorry that this has happened yet again. I feel sorry for the families of the dead, for the injured and for all peaceful citizens of France and of the world.

IsraelStandsWithFrance

Terrorism is an enormous problem everywhere. There are ways of trying to curb it. Doing nothing isn’t one of them.

Remembering 4th July, 1976

The summer of 1976 was a special one for me. For starters, it was my last summer before I left England for a year-long programme in Israel with the potential to turn into a permanent move. I planned a party for friends and work colleagues. I was excited to be doing something new, in a new land, and looking forward to being close to the boyfriend who in time became my husband.

It was unusually hot in England  that summer. The heat wave was to last for about three months, although we didn’t know that at the beginning of July. In some areas, people would suffer from water shortages, though not in London, where I lived. I remember joining work colleagues for a day trip to Oxford. I remember relaxing on a punt and trailing my hand in the water.

The media was full of a special anniversary. Three-and-a-half thousand miles away, and further, across the Atlantic Ocean, something enormous was being planned in an enormous country I’d never visited – a country connected to us by language but one that seemed very foreign in many ways. The United States of America was about to celebrate two hundred years of independence.

Despite my distance from that place, in all senses, I would have been interested in the run-up to the special day. I would have been happy for those people over the ocean, but for one thing.

One unfolding event in another part of the world dampened my enthusiasm for everything else and kept my eyes glued to the television screen. In a disused part of the airport at Entebbe, Uganda, a little over a hundred people were being held hostage by four hijackers with the full support of the leader of that country, Colonel Idi Amin Dada. Apart from the French crew members who had elected to remain there rather than desert the hostages, those people were Jews or Israelis, following a selection process reminiscent of other such processes that took place not so many decades previously, and resulting in all the other passengers of the hijacked plane being released.

4July

On the morning of Sunday, 4th July, I woke up in time to turn on my transistor radio for the eight o’clock news, and was overjoyed to hear the first item. Israel had launched a raid on the old airport building at Entebbe and rescued the hostages. I raced downstairs to tell my father, who always got up early but never turned on the radio before my mother got up.

Throughout the day, we listened and watched as details became clearer. We also watched the Independence Day celebrations in that far off country. Suddenly they matched the way we felt: euphoric.

The following day, work colleagues congratulated me as if I’d personally planned the whole rescue operation. Times were different then.

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On October 25th, I’ll be celebrating another fortieth anniversary – of my move to Israel. There might be prizes.

Before that, probably later this month, I plan to announce a change in direction for this blog. Keep watching this space.

I’m delighted Carol, a.k.a. C R Ward accepted my challenge of the Liebster Award in this lovely post.

I managed to condense Neither Here Nor There into 140 words for Stella Hervey Birrell. All the posts on her blog contain 140 words.

I paid another visit to Ailsa Abraham’s Bingergread Cottage. The magic carpet is… magical.

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