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.
In another month or so, my murdery mystery, Style and the Solitary, will be republished under the Ocelot Press banner.
I thought this would be a good time to tell you what the novel is about, tweaking a post I first wrote for friend and author, Jo Fenton.
Belief in Another Person
The story of Beauty and the Beast was first written in 1740 by a woman called Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It wasn’t intended as a children’s fairy tale, but rather as a tale with a moral. It is Beauty’s belief and love for the Beast that turns him back into a prince. Similarly, Nathalie’s belief in Asaf will help him in his attempt to become the person he was meant to be.
The similarity of my novel to Beauty and the Beast is, of course, the reason for its similar title.
People who shun society are considered strange by the rest of society. Sometimes, they might even be thought dangerous, due to a tiny minority of loners who have turned to violence. This gives vulnerable people, who probably only chose to live their lives alone because of bad experiences, less of a chance of ever returning to society.
We all need the help of friends. Nathalie gets her two flatmates on board to help her solve the mystery. Other friendships crop up in the story. Even Asaf, the “loner”, acquires some friends, eventually.
The process of fitting into a new place can be long and difficult, especially when it involves a new language and culture. Nathalie has some advantages. She’s young, sociable and good at languages. Still, she struggles sometimes, and also misses her family and her home town of Strasbourg. Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market brings a bit of France to her.
The Law and its Failures
I was moved by a documentary I heard once, in which a woman wanted to testify against her rapist, but found herself struck dumb when standing in the witness box. Asaf is similarly worried about being tried in a court of law. He thinks he’ll find himself incapable of answering questions in such a setting. He’s probably right.
I do think laws fail to protect those who can’t speak or who freeze in certain situations.
Why is the setting a theme? When I wrote my first novel set in Jerusalem (Neither Here Nor There, currently unavailable), I was worried people wouldn’t be interested in it because they’d expect a story set in Israel to include war and conflict. I was glad to be proved wrong; the book sold well and was appreciated. Yet, with this current novel, perhaps due to the timing, I’ve had questions like, “I wondered if you were deliberately setting out to show Jerusalem as a modern ‘Western’ city compared to the views we normally see on TV, or just reflecting life as you live it.” My response is that it absolutely reflects life as I live it and as most of the residents live it. People go about doing normal activities and talking about normal things. On the TV, they like to show everything in a different light. They seek out extremists and do all they can to exacerbate conflict. But even those extremists do and say normal, mundane things most of the time. And the rest of us go about our normal lives as much as we’re allowed to, which is most of the time.
I’m not suggesting murder is normal. But this murder is not the sort of abnormal you might expect from Jerusalem.
Many stories thrive on secrets and Style and the Solitary is no exception. But I won’t reveal any secrets here. You’ll discover them when you read the novel.
What would Asaf think of the book?
Asaf would consider himself unworthy of having a story written about him, just as he feels unworthy of having Nathalie in his life. He blames no one but himself for his woes. Being suspected of murder is admittedly unfortunate, but anyone else would have succeeded in clearing all suspicion long ago.
The new Style and the Solitary will be out soon. Watch this space.
The Strasbourg image is by Monika Neumann from Pixabay. Nathalie’s photo is by Andrea Piacquadio and Asaf’s is by fauxels.
This post is about a hangover. No, it’s not what you think. I haven’t taken to the bottle. Well, not in excess, anyway.
Living it up on safari in South Africa.
No, it’s about a hangover from childhood. And the town of Akko, called Acre in English.
I first discovered this ancient and modern town from a book I read as a teenager. I think the book was The Source by James A. Michener, a fascinating story of a fictional archeological dig and the ancient stories it uncovers. For some reason, at that young and impressionable age, I couldn’t accept that a town would have a name that I knew to be a unit of measurement. (It’s about 4047 square metres, which I didn’t know then and won’t remember now). Every time I came across that name in that book, I thought how weird it was.
After moving to Israel, I learned the Hebrew name for the town, and I’ve always used it, even when speaking in English. I wouldn’t say Yerushalayim in English, or Natzrat. I’d use the English names: Jerusalem and Nazareth. Yet Akko remains Akko because, in my mind, Acre is a strange name for a town.
Recently, because this town appears in the novel I’m currently writing, the sequel to Style and the Solitary, I asked a group of authors which name they thought I should use. None of them had a problem with that name: Acre. It’s just me, then.
That led me to wonder about hangovers from childhood. I’m sure I must have a lot more. Do you? I’d love to hear about them.
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.
Remember that novel I was going to write in November? Well, I wrote it. I didn’t reach the magic total of 50,000 words, by I did pass 40,000, and now I have the first draft of a sequel to Style and the Solitary that will need a lot more work before I can submit it for publication.
As well as spending time writing every day in November, I wandered around Jerusalem and further afield, gathering information for the novel. Here are a few of the pictures I took:
As every year, there was plenty of support from our local group of writers, and in particular Melina Kantor and Shoshana Raun. I wouldn’t have managed without them.
Now, I’m trying to catch up on all the tasks I postponed in November.
I’m also looking forward to the publication of Dark Paris, an anthology of dark stories set in Paris, all proceeds of which go to two charities: Restaurants du Cœur and Fondation Brigitte Bardot. My contribution to the anthology is called Train Trouble.
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?
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?
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.