Finally, it’s the end of his incerceration, or so Asaf believes. In the Liberty Bell Park, his elation is boosted:
Sadly, these feelings are short-lived. And so it is with the novel itself.
Yes, Style and the Solitary, published by Darkstroke Books, is free to download for a short period only, so get it while you can, no strings attached.
I do, however, have a little request. If you enjoy reading it, I would very much appreciate a review. It doesn’t have to be long and detailed. “Loved it” is fine – really.
Here’s the latest review on Amazon.com: “I loved this innocent young woman who stood by her social phobic coworker when he was accused of murder. Her compassion and tenacity for finding the actual killer puts her in danger but demonstrates how much Nathalie cares for Asaf. The help she gets from her roommates is funny and caring as they bumble their way toward freeing Asaf. Will they survive this investigation, or will the murderer lead them off the deep end. Great story. Nice setting.”
Thank you, Sandy.
About the Novel
An unexpected murder. A suspect with a reason. The power of unwavering belief.
A murder has been committed in an office in Jerusalem. That’s for sure. The rest is not as clear-cut as it might seem.
Asaf languishes in his cell, unable to tell his story even to himself. How can he tell it to someone who elicits such fear within him?
His colleague, Nathalie, has studied Beauty and the Beast. She understands its moral. Maybe that’s why she’s the only one who believes in Asaf, the suspect. But she’s new in the company – and in the country. Would anyone take her opinion seriously?
She coerces her flatmates, Yarden and Tehila, into helping her investigate. As they uncover new trails, will they be able to reverse popular opinion?
In the end, will Beauty’s belief be strong enough to waken the Beast? Or, in this case, can Style waken the Solitary?
This post is about a new novel. It’s one that covers four thousand years and follows a stone on its travels close to home and then further afield. I was lucky enough to read a draft, about which I made suggestions that have been incorporated by its author, Olga Swan (pen-name). I look forward to reading the final version, which has just been published as The Meleke Stone.
Here’s the author herself to tell you about it.
Thank you so much, Miriam, for allowing me on your blog. I’ve been working towards The Meleke Stone all my life. Included are all the times, and perpetrators, from 1900 BCE to the present when the Jewish people were ousted from their land. It’s a novel with a strong underlying message. Here’s the blurb:
“A meleke stone from the ancient plains of the Dead Sea is passed down by generations of females through four thousand years.
In 2019 Sami, the son of Egyptian immigrants in Toulouse, is traumatised by the family’s hardships in France and plots revenge.
Menes, Sami’s father from Cairo, had emigrated to France in search of peace. An unlikely friendship forms with Holocaust-survivor Moshe, each recognising their past struggles.
Suddenly, a terrorist bomb explodes in a Toulouse synagogue. Moshe asks his son, Simon, to produce a film showing the true history of his people from the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.
What will happen to Moshe’s and Menes’ special relationship when an intrepid French detective’s efforts to find the terrorist reveal the horrifying truth?
In a soul-searching conclusion in Jerusalem, having no female descendant to whom to give the meleke stone, there’s only one thing that Simon can do to maintain the survival of his people for all eternity.
…..are you ready for the four thousand year journey of the meleke stone?”
Follow the story as it moves between Toulouse, Warsaw, Cairo and through to Jerusalem. Read the historical truths about Sodom and Gomorrah, the Maccabees and what happened during the Six-Day War in the Sinai. But above all, recognise the lifelong friendship between a Jewish man and an Egyptian Muslim. Enjoy!
About the Author
Olga Swan has a B.A. Hons. (Open) in English language and literature. For many years she worked at The University of Birmingham, following which she spent twelve years living in S.W. France before returning to Birmingham in 2017. She has had 7 books (3 non-fiction) published by indie publisher Crooked Cat Books, which has now closed. Three of Olga’s works are narrative non-fiction, one of which (Pensioners in Paradis) is approaching one million pages read and is already a four-times international best-seller. A second edition of this and of An Englishwoman in America have now been reprinted. Three novels form a series set in wartime Germany, France and Poland. Dunoon Assassin moves between NY, Dunoon and Amritsar.
Olga has been writing her blog every Sunday for 13 years with hundreds of regular readers each week from around the world.
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
And many thanks to all those who attended the event and those who tried but failed.
Since my last post about Style and the Solitary, there have been several developments. I’m going to copy from the post and add to it.
Thanks again to Melina Kantor and Shoshana Raun, whose prompts and other writing suggestions helped to craft the plot much more than I’d expected. Joan Livingston, who read and commented on my draft, and also wrote the cover line and the brilliant foreword. And Stephanie and Laurence Patterson of darkstroke books whose editing and cover design were magnificent.
Also to all those who have opened up (or will open up) their blogs for me:
You can come to today’s Facebook Launch. Click now and press Going. There will be information about the book in text, photos and music, and plenty of interaction, including a competition.
You can come to the joint online launch event called Ladies Who Launch, where three darkstroke authors will introduce our new books with readings and answer questions. It’s on 6th May. Click now to secure your free ticket.
GREEN. If that were the solution to a cryptic crossword clue, what might the clue be? Answer: a new genre.
As it happens, a new genre (for me) is exactly what my latest novel is written in. It’s a murder mystery, called Style and the Solitary. Set in my adopted city of Jerusalem, it begins with a murder and a suspect – a suspect who is unable to defend himself. Fortunately, there’s someone who believes in his innocence.
Style and the Solitary will be published by Darkstroke on 26th April, 2021.
GREEN is also the dominant colour in the gorgeous new cover.
Is there anything you want to say about the colour green, or anything else for that matter? You’re welcome to comment below.
No doubt, I’ll be writing more about this novel in the coming weeks. Topics will include Jerusalem, NaNoWriMo, friendship and maybe even social anxiety.
In the meantime, Cultivating a Fuji, my uplit novel set in Bournemouth (UK) and Japan has been rereleased and is available on Amazon.
For a short while, the paperback on Amazon UK is only at this link.
For the second SIM Talk, I welcome back Jo Fenton to the blog. She brought Tina to Letters From Elsewhere, and also wrote a lovely post for my other blog. I wonder which of the three topics – Social anxiety, Israel, Misunderstandings – she’s going to talk about…
When I was 19 I went on a six-week trip to Israel. It was my first visit there and I was very excited. The main purpose of the trip was to work as a youth leader in a summer camp in Ashkelon, under supervision of a Hebrew speaking youth worker.
I went as part of a group, and there was to be time afterwards for touring the country. I had foolishly planned to do the touring with a young man who was the friend of an ex-boyfriend! More to follow on that subject…
I was a shy, nervous nineteen year old. Although I’d had a fantastic time during my first year at Uni, being away with a group of strangers brought all my social anxiety to the fore.
There were some lovely people in the group, particularly amongst the girls, and I did make some friends. I’m not sure if it helped that my closest friend in the group was a recovering anorexic, and the other girls and I spent a lot of our time making sure she ate, and trying to convince her that her view of her body image was distorted. At the time, I didn’t realise how similar I was to her in many ways, having an inaccurate view of myself due to the unkind comments of just a few.
There was a young man amongst the group – an attractive-looking guy with a charming smile and a Scottish accent. I don’t know if he understood how hurtful he was when he commented almost daily on my nervous laugh. Perhaps he was stupid enough to think he was helping me. Not surprisingly the more he commented, the more nervous my laugh became!
Ashkelon was beautiful. I loved working with the kids, many of whom came from deprived homes; but who were lively, cheeky and resilient. It felt great to be able to do something worthwhile with them. The highlight of each week was the Israeli dancing on the beach, where we would dress up, enjoy ourselves, and socialise. I kept away as much as I could from the young Scotsman. My anxiety always returned ten-fold whenever he was near. I spent several weekends with the girls in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and fell in love with the country.
Eventually the time arrived for us to say goodbye to the children, and go off on our more extended travels. My ex’s friend, whom I shall name P to save anyone embarrassment, agreed to do a brief tour taking in Lake Tiberias and Netanya before meeting the girls back in Tel Aviv for the flight home.
P refused to accompany me to Masada and the Dead Sea as he had already been. Without knowing it, he did me a favour, as I’m sure I got much more out of the trip to those fantastic places when I visited with my husband, sons and my mum last year!
From the minute we set off on the bus towards Tiberias, he started moaning: I was cramping his style. The fact we appeared to be travelling together meant that all his potential girlfriends would be put off from approaching him. This complaint continued throughout the three days we spent in each other’s company. He thought nothing of my own feelings, but by then, I was so downtrodden, the idea of me getting a boyfriend seemed a million miles away. One thing I was certain though – he was not on the list!
Overall, the trip did little for my confidence. All the anxiety that had been squashed during my first year as a student, returned in full force thanks to these somewhat insensitive young men. It was not until I met my husband-to-be a few months later, that some confidence returned.
Looking back, I see that I shouldn’t have allowed these individuals to get to me, any more than my anorexic friend should have been affected by the idiots who joked that she was fat. (She was the opposite!) I’m happy to say that I haven’t been criticised for my laugh or my existence since then, and as stated above, I returned to Israel for a most enjoyable and fulfilling trip with my family last year.
Ah, the tribulations of the young! I’m so glad you had a much better experience on your second visit. Thank you, Jo, for that entertaining account, which includes all three topics of the series!
Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.
The Monster (Hebrew: Mifletzet) sculpted in 1971 by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, is a well-known landmark in Jerusalem and one that is enjoyed by children, who love to slide down its three-pronged tongue.
When I walked past it, yesterday evening, it looked different – a bit sad and funny.
I posted the picture on Instagram with the caption: What have they done to the monster? And to the English language?
This post is about what happened to me this past weekend. It’s also about much more than that.
We were visited by a lovely Canadian couple. They stayed with us, ate and talked. We showed them some of the sites of Jerusalem: the Old City market, the Western Wall, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Machane Yehuda market, the city centre and other neighbourhoods. The visit ended with an impressive light show projected onto the city walls. Then they left us to visit other parts of the country before returning home to Canada. The end?
Not at all, because I left out the beginning of this story. Two eleven-year-old girls became friends at school out of convenience, and somehow that friendship grew to include visits outside school. One of those girls was considerably less popular than the other and so glad of the friendship that provided protection from the harsh treatment she’d endured from other girls.
That friendship ended without warning just a year after it began. The popular girl’s mother secretly took her daughter off to live in Canada. The other girl was left to flounder, suddenly vulnerable and exposed to bullying from all directions.
The girl who remained was me. The one who left was the woman who came to stay last weekend, over fifty-one years later. We met briefly four years ago, but this was the first chance we had to talk together.
‘Weird’ was a feeling we both agreed on. I could be talking to her as friends do, when I’d suddenly remember she was that twelve-year-old girl who deserted me. And while I knew that what happened back then was in no way her fault, I appreciated her apologies. Her leaving led to six difficult years that determined the person I was to become, and none of it was her fault.
I’m so glad we met up again. And I might even have a chance to visit Canada.
Social media, especially Facebook, I’ve found, has enormous potential to distort reality. It probably contributes to our surprise at the way recent votes have gone. Our friends on Facebook tend to be those who have similar views to our own. If we discover views we disagree with, we tend to unfriend their propagators rather than engaging them in discussion or just ignoring offending posts.
The result becomes very one-sided. My friends were almost totally anti-Brexit and anti-Trump. Yet both Brexit and Trump came to pass, surprising many, including me.
Now, in my little country, an issue has come up in which the views of my friends do reflect reality, although I don’t understand why. Israelis are split over this and so are my friends. I won’t unfriend those I disagree with. I want to try and understand. And sometimes they post views I do agree with.
Contrary to the complicated issues connected with this country, this one seems very straightforward to me. A soldier was found guilty of killing a terrorist after the terrorist was restrained and no longer a threat. For all ethical reasons, religious ones included, it should be clear that he committed a crime and must be punished. This article explains why.
What do some of my Facebook friends (and friends of friends) say against the verdict? Mostly that they, as mothers, have told their sons that their safety comes first and they shouldn’t hesitate to shoot if they find themselves in danger. They – the mothers – would rather visit their sons in jail than in the graveyard. Absolutely – I understand that, but that wasn’t the case here.
It would be awful if this led to violence, which has been threatened.
So to another, much pleasanter, article. It shows the Jerusalem I know and love. I’ve never seen the one most people imagine.