The ProsenPeople

Questions that Signal Success

Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Permalink

Joel Chasnoff has been blogging all month for the Jewish Book Council on his NETWORK author tour.

Writing from Houston, TX, in the midst of the mega-est week of my Mega Tour. It began in San Diego on Sunday, where I ran into fellow author (and friend) Joel Hoffman. Then on to Walnut Creek, CA; Cherry Hill, NJ; a Houston day school this morning (Emory-Weiner School, which is a totally great name for a Jewish school), and tonight the Houston Book Fest.

I’ve noticed a recurring phenomenon: after a book event, someone will approach me and tell me that he or she is working on a book. The person asks for advice – and by his/her questions, I can tell whether he/she has what it takes to write a book.

Questions that signal success:

“How long did it take you to write it?”
“Did your editor work with you along the way?”
“What are your writing habits?”
“How many drafts did you go through?”
“Did you know when you were finished?”

These are all terrific questions. They are about the writing process, which every author struggles with. These questions show that the writer is immersed in his/her project and passionate.

And then there is the one question that tells me the person is probably writing for the wrong reasons and, therefore, won’t see it through. That question is:

“What are the residuals on book sales?”

Oh, boy. Residuals? Are you kidding me? The residuals on book sales are tiny. And they only come months – possibly years – down the road, if ever, because first you have to earn back your advance for writing the book and only then does the extra money come in. And even then it’s a pittance, maybe 15% of the profit on the book.

The most dedicated writers write their books without any thought for the money. Some even self-publish their books. Either way, writing the book is a two-year process at minimum, and probably more like 3-5. Anyone who’s writing the book for the residuals will probably be disappointed along the way and likely won’t hang in there.

Joel Chasnoff will be blogging here all month as he travels around the country on his Jewish Book NETWORK tour.

Publishers Weekly’s Best 100 of 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Dani Crickman

Publishers Weekly recently determined their Best Books of 2010. David Grossman’s To The End of the Land made the list–not a surprise for most who have read it. (Did you see our review a few days ago?) We were also excited to see Sarah Glidden’s How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less among the selected titles. PW describes the graphic memoir as “an evocative, sometimes funny and often emotional recap of Glidden’s birthright visit to Israel done with charming watercolors and no shortage of candid responses to the Jewish state and the Palestinian question.”

Searching for Osama

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | Permalink

On Monday, Lavie Tidhar wrote about Jewish vampires and Hebrew punks. His new novel, An Occupation of Angels, is now available.

It can be terribly frustrating, writing a book no one wants to buy.

At the same time, it can be a good indication you’re doing something right.

I wrote a book called Osama. It will be out next year – but only in a limited-edition format, from a specialist press in the UK called PS Publishing. It’s a prestigious publisher – they also publish Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King, and they seem to like my stuff. But 20 other publishers have so far rejected Osama for publication.

My favourite rejection said, “What a great book! However, at my previous employer we got bomb threats in the post, and I don’t want that to repeat here, so…” “However” is the one word you don’t want to hear when you send out a book.

A lot of publishers liked the book. But no one wants to buy it.

Osama is the story of Joe, a private detective living in Vientiane, Laos, a place as far from anything as you can get. His world is… different to ours, we find out. Simpler, possibly. Joe just gets by, but then he is hired by a mysterious woman –- who asks him to find a marginal writer, Mike Longshott, the author of a series of pulp novels about one “Osama Bin Laden: Vigilante”…

To find Longshott, Joe has to leave Vientiane, travelling to Paris, London, New York and Kabul on the trail of the elusive writer, who seems to write about mass terrorist attacks, about a war no one seems to understand. And Joe gradually finds out he, too, is in the midst of a secret war, with people after him, and the border between the two worlds blurring… until he has to face who he himself really is.

I can see why publishers are uncomfortable with this book. It is not only the subject matter – the “War on Terror”, or the war in Iraq and Afghanistan – not just Longshott’s detailed, almost-clinical passages about attacks in Nairobi or Ras-al-Shaitan or the London Underground. It is not just the title, Osama, which makes grown publishers run screaming. We never see Osama bin Laden in the book. We only ever see his shadow. What I think the problem – one of the problems – publishers have is that the book takes place in a shadowy place. Is it real? It is fantasy? One editor went over the manuscript line by line, highlighting changes he would like. Everywhere the book whispers, suggests, hints, the editor wanted the book to shout. To point and say, This is what I mean!

It is a book that mixes pulp, and the formula story, with bits of old black and white films, and alternative history, and the ghost story, and a very real, very immediate war and its impact on people’s lives.

And no one’s sure, I think, exactly what to do with it.

At least one editor who loved the book had to reject it because the people from Marketing didn’t know how to market it. Others didn’t understand what was happening in the book. Others still were afraid of bomb threats (I’m not sure from whom). It’s a book that gets praises, but not a contract. Which is fine…

#

Because I couldn’t not write Osama. As it happens, I have a very personal history with that loose, and little understood, network of operatives that uses the collective name Al-Qaeda. I was in Dar-es-Salaam, in Tanzania, recovering from Malaria in a small hotel room in 1998, when the American embassy was attacked. I was in Nairobi a week later, watching the remains of the embassy there, surrounded by soldiers after-the-fact. And my wife, who was with me there, was in the Sinai in 2004 when a set of bomb attacks rocked the tourist coast of the Red Sea. A car bomb exploded less than a kilometre away from where she was, and I remember that night vividly, trying to establish contact, find out that she was alive, with the phone lines jammed and people passing on messages to each other, reassurances that such-and-such is fine, that they’re alive.

Just as I remember being in London in 2005 when four suicide bombers blew themselves up, spreading out of King’s Cross Station, where my wife travelled every day on her way to work (she was out of London that day, and had to travel back through the scene of chaos).

So I feel a certain intimacy with Al-Qaeda. We’ve certainly been through a few things together! I think the real tragedy of this war is that no one seems to understand it. The Americans seem genuinely baffled by the attacks, by the power of anger and resentment directed at them across a large part of the world. Al-Qaeda hasn’t come out of nothing. Nor did the American invasions of first Afghanistan and then Iraq. Most recently, a colleague of my wife’s, an aid worker like herself, was kidnapped in Afghanistan and later killed in a failed rescue attempt by a US soldier’s grenade. This is a war that we need to understand.

#

It is a war my hero, Joe, most certainly doesn’t. He just wants to get by, in his very carefully-constructed world. He’s escaped these things he doesn’t understand, has created for himself a simpler world, a black-and-white world that resembles an old noir picture.

But, like Joe, we can’t live in black-and-white. We have to understand the shades of grey.

I think, ultimately, that’s what Osama is about. Maybe, when it comes out next year, no matter how small the print-run is, other people will agree. Maybe they’ll hate it. I wish it would find a bigger publisher, but I am happy either way. Happy that I wrote it, happy that I got to say something important, and happy that one publisher, at least, believes in the book enough to take a chance with it. I think they’re a bit scared about it, too…

But we need to stop being scared, and start understanding instead.

Lavie Tidhar is the author of HebrewPunkThe Tel Aviv Dossier and The Bookman. His novel Osama is forthcoming early next year from PS Publishing.

The Power of Half

Monday, November 08, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The Jewish Book Council has been spreading the good (book) word down here in New Orleans. This morning we had the pleasure of presenting NETWORK author Kevin Salwen (The Power of Half) and we left the room inspired and charged to be more conscious of our actions and ability to help others.

Several years ago, Kevin and his family made the extraordinary decision to sell their Atlanta mansion, buy a house half its size, and give half of the sale price to a worthy charity. The experience took the family on a powerful journey across the globe, allowing them to understand how individuals can truly make a difference. In the end, the family devoted their money to help communities in Ghana improve their way of life through the Hunger Project. Author profits from the The Power of Half will be donated to charity, as well as a dollar from each sale.

Learn more about their efforts here.

And, hear from Kevin’s co-author, his daughter Hannah, below:

Thrilling Hebrew Tales! On Jewish Vampires, Golems, Tzaddiks, and HebrewPunk

Monday, November 08, 2010 | Permalink

Lavie Tidhar’s most recent book, An Occupation of Angels, is now available. He will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Author Blog.

I’ve got a feeling that, in years from now, with many novels, novellas, and collections all out (I’ll have 3 novels out just next year, if it’s an indication), when oil becomes scarce and there’ll be a Chinese colony on the moon, I’ll still be that HebrewPunk guy.

I should probably explain…

A few years ago, I became irritated enough with fantasy fiction to do something about it. When I get asked about it, I normally say it was the vampires what did it. It used to drive me insane that the underlying assumption of – well, pretty much all – vampire novels and movies, was that Christianity worked.

After all, we all know what vampires are afraid of. Crosses and holy water, right?

Which is strange, and a little uncomfortable, if you happen to be Jewish.

Because, like the Aryan elves of fantasy literature, there is a whole planetary mass of underlying assumptions of cultural dominance behind those “silly stories about unreal things”. And Jews don’t belong, they seem to say, in fantasy.

This goes back a long way, of course. The most important editor of American science fiction was John W. Campbell, revered to this day, with a bunch of awards named after him. By all accounts he was a lovely, if somewhat eccentric, guy (he launched L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics – later Scientology – in a 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, after all). There was only one thing about Campbell – he thought the best people were white, west European people, and he felt that the “readers” wouldn’t appreciate Jewish names in his magazine. Isaac Asimov, the most famous Jewish SF writer to this day, writes about it in his autobiography – and how lucky he was to get published under his own name – but at least one other writer wasn’t so lucky. Jews could write this kind of stuff, as long as they weren’t too Jewish.

I mean, no one wants that, right?

And so, back to vampires, afraid of Christian symbols, afraid of water blessed by a priest.

What if, I thought, you had a Jewish vampire? He wouldn’t be afraid of this stuff, surely?

‘That sounds awfully racist!’ my mother told me when I happened to mention it to her. ‘Like the worst blood libels, all the things that were attributed to Jews throughout the years!’

Which was partly the point, of course. I wanted to re-claim fantasy. I wanted to play with the idea of the Jew-as-blood-drinker, the awful racial stereotypes, and at the same time with the underlying assumptions of white, Christian superiority in generic fantasy fiction at the same time.

A few years ago, too, I ran into Neil Gaiman at the time of his American Gods launch. Every kind of fantasy archetype is in there, but for one. ‘Where are the Jews?’ I asked, and watched him squirm a little and finally say, ‘Well, there’s a golem in it. What else is there?’

So I wanted to answer that question, too. What else is there? And I didn’t want to write a mainstream, literary novel. I wanted to write pulp. I wanted to re-imagine pulp fantasy in a different universe. As one reviewer said on reading the eventual product, my mini-collectionHebrewPunk, the stories read as though they had appeared in the 1940′s in magazines such asYiddish Excitement Quarterly andThrilling Hebrew Tales!

But of course, we didn’t have those magazines. The Yiddish pulps had all but disappeared, and Jewish literature became concerned with heavy matters, with the realistic approach, with issues. The issues I was interested in were those that came into your post box every month with a picture of a monster on the cover.

So I set out to write what would become HebrewPunk.

****

I only slipped once. I ended up going literary with the last story. At least, I think I did.

****

The first story came seemingly complete. It was called “The Heist”. It was, as the title suggests, a heist story (I wanted each story to fit a very specific genre). It was pulp, almost comics-like, almost drawn rather than written. It introduced a gang of immoral, underworld figures: the Rabbi, who had the power to make golems; the Rat, my Jewish vampire (and we all remember the rats in Fritz Hippler’s Nazi “masterpiece” The Eternal Jew, right?); and the Tzaddik, a renegade from the Lamed-Vav, the 36 righteous men of Jewish legend.

Three anti-heroes, hired for a job no one else wanted to do. It didn’t have much of a plot. I had fun devising a blood bank guarded with holy water sprinklers and crosses cut into the walls (no match for my guy!), assembling my team, and sending them off on one last mission, and, o course, nothing quite works out as it’s supposed to.And once I had finished it, I knew – at that very moment – that each of these characters required their own story.

I next took the Rat back to his earlier days in “Transylvanian Mission” – a World War II story with Jewish partisans, an elite Nazi commando unit made of werewolves (naturally!), and the Nazi quest to awaken Vlad Tepes, AKA Dracula, from slumber. It was easy to write – my family comes from Transylvania, and in the mountains one might still see the name Heisikovitz on a tombstone (my original family name). And the Nazis notoriously did hunt for mythical objects and were obsessed with the occult. So I got to have fun with that.

My Tzaddik ended up in 1920 London, a time of Jewish gangsters, of a roaring drug trade… and of rampant racism. As it happened, it was also my breakthrough story, since it sold – rather to my amazement – to Sci Fiction, at the time the highest-paying, highest-profile genre magazine in existence (it was sponsored by the Sci Fi Channel). I got a big check for that one…but then the corporate bosses pulled the plug, and “The Dope Fiend” was the last story ever published there.

Make of that what you will.

The stories were published individually, but I always knew they were meant to be gathered together. I finally pitched the idea to Jason Sizemore, head of a small publishing house in the U.S., Apex Books, and he thought it was worth giving it a shot. I sat down and wrote the final story, “Uganda”, which follows my rabbi in 1904, following a visit from Herzl himself, and joining the Zionist Expedition to British East Africa to decide on the suitability of that area for possible Jewish colonization…

And here, I think, I sinned. Because, while it is pulp, glorious pulp, it also became something of a statement, an examination of Jewish states, and a comparison of sorts with the one we did end up with in British Mandate Palestine instead…

I was able to view – and later, incorporate into the text – the actual expedition report, a story far stranger, and more fascinating, than anything I could devise. In fact, with each of the stories, I delved deep into the actual history – whether it was the desperate war against the Nazis in ’43, or the hidden world of Jewish gangsters in 1920, or the strange, forgotten expedition to Africa on behalf of the Zionist Congress in 1904. Because being Jewish is being a part of history – a secret history, a forgotten history, a lot of the time – as though Jews were the notes scribbled on the margins of history, faint but always there when everything else passes and is gone forever.

The book, at last, was published. It had a suitably garish, pulpy cover (by the awesome Melissa Gay) which truly belonged on the cover of Thrilling Hebrew Tales. We weren’t sure about the title – HebrewPunk was meant tongue-in-cheek, but I saw several people miss out on the irony – but we went for it nevertheless. It sold – moderately – and continues to sell (moderately). And it made its way into the pages of none other than the Encyclopaedia Judaica (if only in passing mention). You know you’ve made it when you’re in that book!

And if I get to be remembered for anything, and it just happens to be for HebrewPunk, I don’t think I’d mind too much.

Lavie Tidhar’s HebrewPunk is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. His first novel, The Bookmanis out now, and will be followed next year by Camera Obscura. 

Jewish Book World Review: To the End of the Land

Friday, November 05, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

In honor of David Grossman making Amazon’s top ten this year, and with the winter issue going in the mail next, we thought we’d offer a little preview from the issue (more online reviews to follow over the next few weeks).

To the End of the Land
David Grossman; Jessica Cohen, trans.
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. 592 pp. $27.95
ISBN: 978-0-307-59297-2

Reviewed by Maron L. Waxman

1967. Three ill teenagers—flame-haired Ora; Avram, wild with imagination and exotic knowledge; and Ilan, later his companion in all exploits—meet in the isolation ward of a hospital. Young, vulnerable, eager for themselves and one another, they come together nightly in the almost dreamlike prologue to this powerful and memorable novel.

2000. Thirty-three years later, Ora is alone. Ilan has recently left her, and she has just dropped their younger son at his army unit’s meeting point for an emergency call up. In a rush of magical thinking, she decides that she can protect her son by taking a hike in the Galilee that she had planned for the two of them. She will disappear, and the notifiers, the bearers of the unbearable news, will not find her. As she makes the final preparations for the hike, the phone rings. Avram, Avram who has not spoken with her for three years, Avram who crawled into a shell decades ago after surviving horrific torture as a prisoner in the Sinai campaign. Literally dragging him from his apartment, Ora takes Avram to the Galilee with her.

Over their long days and nights together, walking through bright spring blooms with valleys opening before them, Ora and Avram reel back through their lives, apart and together. Slowly, moving backward and across time, the story of the three intertwined friends and lovers unfolds. It is a story of complex and intimate connections marked by multiple loves—love that creates a family, sensual love, love between inseparable friends, love for army comrades, love of the very earth Ora and Avram are treading—all shaped by inescapable war and the tensions it imposes.

Beautifully written and fully realized, this is a novel of great depth and artistry. David Grossman, one of Israel’s most honored writers, conveys the vitality and humanity of every character, etched against the intensity and pain of life in the daily presence of an enemy. There is not a page of this book that does not call out for an end to war.

Maron L. Waxman, retired editorial director, special projects, at the American Museum of Natural History, was also an editorial director at HarperCollins and Book-of-the-Month Club. She also leads editorial workshops.

Making Kosher Food Is an All-Night Affair

Friday, November 05, 2010 | Permalink

Earlier this week, Sue Fishkoff wrote about watching a goat slaughtered and people who only keep kosher on holidays. She is the author of Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority.

The most fascinating work of kosher food manufacturing takes place in the middle of the night. That’s when factories shut down their lines for koshering, when ovens are blasted with blowtorches and boiling water is run through miles of pipes and in and out of huge stainless steel vats.

That’s when the mashgiachs, or kosher supervisors, start work in industrial kitchens and banquet halls, cleaning bugs from pounds of lettuce, celery and other fresh produce.

And that’s when the flour for Manischewitz kosher-for-Passover matzah begins its journey from western Pennsylvania to the company’s $15 million manufacturing facility in Newark, NJ.

Matzah is important to Manischewitz. The 120-year-old company makes a wide range of kosher products, but it was founded in 1888 to produce kosher for Passover matzah on a new assembly line format, and matzah is still central to its mission. Like most ethnic kosher food manufacturers, Manischewitz’s busiest season is Passover. Fifty percent of its business involves kosher-for-Passover food. According to one survey, 24 percent of American non-Jewish consumers bought a Manischewitz product during the previous year; most of them bought matzah.

Passover matzah is the most labor-intensive kosher product in the world. As one of two sacramental foods required at the seder table, along with wine, its production is carefully controlled to ensure that water only comes into contact with the flour for less than 18 minutes. Longer than that and, according to rabbinic authorities, leavening might begin. That would mean it cannot be eaten at all during the eight-day Passover holiday.


In industrial production, the flour must be watched by a mashgiach from the time the wheat is milled until water is introduced to the flour during the mixing process. At that point the dough remains under even closer supervision to make sure it is completely baked in less than 18 minutes.

A Manischewitz Passover matzah begins its life in a wheat field in one of the mid-Atlantic states. The exact location is a trade secret. Red winter wheat is the preferred variety for unleavened bread because it is low-protein; protein in the dough produces air pockets that cause it to rise during baking.

The wheat is harvested and brought to another undisclosed location, a family-owned flour mill in rural western Pennsylvania where it is stored for up to three weeks before being ground into flour. A single wheat kernel moves through the grinding and sifting process in about 20 minutes. The milled flour is kept utterly dry in moisture-resistant bins, until it can be transferred to a tanker truck for the three-hour journey to Newark.

I spent a morning with Rabbi Yoel Lowenstein, mashgiach at the flour mill, as he met a freshly washed tank truck that pulled up at the mill shortly before dawn. He crawled inside the enormous steel tank with a flashlight to check for moisture. Running his hand along the curved sides, hepeered at the floor and felt carefully under the jagged metal rim. Then he crawled back out and climbed the stairs to the loading platform. The truck pulled up underneath the platform, and Lowenstein watched as close to 50,000 pounds of flour was pumped at high-speed into the intake valve atop the tanker. At one point he leaped down and scooped out a few plastic bags of flour, which the driver had to carry to Newark where it would be checked for moisture levels.

When the tanker was full, Lowenstein stretched plastic wrap over the 18-inch valve opening to seal it tight, replaced the heavy metal hatch, and closed it with yellow Orthodox Union plastic seals. He placed similar seals on the discharge valves, from which the flour will be pumped out. The seals can only be removed by another mashgiach after the truck arrives at the Newark plant. If even one seal is compromised during the journey, so is the flour’s integrity. Once, a truck carrying Passover flour to Newark got a flat tire, and the impact blew out one of the seals. The entire 50,000-pound load was rejected by Manischewitz.

After the flour arrives in Newark, it is stored in a large outdoor silo for no longer than a few days. Then it’s pumped into the plant for mixing and baking, a procedure that is timed to the second. Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, longtime head rabbi at Manischewitz and a worldwide authority on Passover production and kosher food, guided me around the plant, pointing out the state-of-the-art matzah baking line he helped design. In the mixing room, he showed off the double kettle system imported from Israel. Flour is dumped down a chute into one kettle, then water is added through a thin yellow tube and the mixture is agitated until it forms a sticky dough that is extruded onto a conveyor belt to begin its short run to the ovens.

Batches of dough are mixed up and dropped every minute for 14 minutes. Then an alarm sounds, the kettles are rotated automatically, and the first kettle is thoroughly cleaned while the second kettle repeats the process.

Before each batch of dough hits the conveyor belt, a mashgiach monitoring the mixing grabs an egg-sized amount called challah, meaning “tithe,” and throws it in a bin for later discarding, according to Jewish law. The rest of the dough moves over and under a series of metal rollers that press it into thinner and thinner sheets, until the dough is ¼=inch thick. A final perforating roller scores it into matzah-sized squares, and adds tiny holes to ensure a thorough bake .

The dough hits the 700-degree oven between 11-14 minutes after the flour and water are first mixed. The legal limit is 18 minutes, but the company gives itself some wiggle room. If the system breaks down and the dough does not reach the oven in time, it must all be thrown out and the entire line taken apart and re-kashered.

When the hot, baked matzah emerges from the oven, it moves through a roller-coaster conveyor belt to cool, is cellophane wrapped into packages and boxed by hand, two packages per box. The boxes are stacked and moved out for delivery.

Manischewitz usually begins making Passover matzah right in early August, and produces Passover matzah through February. During the height of the Passover production season, one or two truckloads of flour arrive at the Manischewitz plant every day, about four hundred thousand pounds a week. The amount of matzah produced is mind-boggling, close to 76 million sheets per year. Fifteen or so full-time mashgiachs are employed to watch over every aspect of this enormous undertaking.

While making Passover matzah is a particularly delicate operation, similar stories take place behind the scenes of every kosher food manufacturer. Of all the things I witnessed during my 18 months researching this book, nothing matched this work for its energy, intensity, and sheer enormity of scale.

Sue Fishkoff’s new book, Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority, is now available. She has been blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Visiting Scribe series.

Joel Chasnoff reporting from…Louisville

Thursday, November 04, 2010 | Permalink

Joel Chasnoff has been blogging his NETWORK for the JBC herehere, and here. His most recent post can be found below.

My schedule for today, which perfectly represents a typical day on the Jewish Book Council author tour:

6:00 AM – Wake up call, courtesy the hotel front desk.

6:15 AM – Man identifying himself as my “limousine driver” calls my cell phone, informs me that he’s downstairs in the hotel lobby. I thank him, excited at the prospect of riding in a limousine, which I have not done since my grandfather’s funeral (June ’84).

6:24 AM – Meet limousine driver in the lobby.

6:25 AM – Discover that “limousine” is really an ’89 Dodge minivan, maroon. Disappointment.

6:45 AM – Arrive JAX.

6:50 AM – Remove shoes, belt, hat, sweatshirt, and watch out of paranoia that I will fail the metal detector and be frisked by TSA.

7:50 AM – Flight to Louisville, KY, via Cincinnati.

10:05 – 11:15 AM – Layover in CVG. Two cups of tea at Max and Erma’s. While I drink, I call Con Edison in New York, beg them to waive the late fee on my last bill, which I forgot to pay because I was on the road for Jewish Book Tour.

11:15 AM – Flight to LOU.

11:20 AM – Meet Kim, the JCC professional, who is holding my book over her head like a literary Statue of Liberty next to baggage claim.

11:40 AM – Kim waits in the car while I dash into Subway, order the Kosher Sub (tuna/cheese/tomato/cucumber/mayo) on six-inch wheat. Also Sun Chips.

12:00 noon – Arrive at hotel.

12:02 PM – Television on, ESPN. Will remain on until checkout tomorrow morning.

12:04 PM – Unpack. Iron pants, shirt for tonight’s event.

12:15 PM – Eat Subway while watching SportsCenter. Bliss.

1:00 PM – Consider doing some work: email, pay bills online, follow up on upcoming shows/book events.

1:01 PM – Decide to instead watch another episode of SportsCenter.

2:00 PM – Email, pay bills online, other work I should have started an hour ago.

4:00 PM – Work out. Never helps. I still weigh 128 lbs.

4:45 PM – Shower, shave.

4:55 PM – Dress while watching ESPN (“Rome is Burning” followed by “Around the Horn”).

5:15 PM – Meet JCC Book Council professional and usually a few local patrons for dinner at a local restaurant. By the questions they ask, I can tell whether or not they’ve read the book. “Did you have to make aliyah to join the Israeli Army?” means they read it. “Why did you join the army?” means they may have read it. “Have you ever been to Israel?” means they have no idea I wrote a book.

7:00 PM – Book event at the JCC. Smashing success. Hundreds, if not thousands, of books sold.

8:30 PM - Dessert reception with donors. Pose for pictures. Shake many hands. Old women I do not know kiss my on cheek. Reminds me of Thanksgiving with my grandmother.

9:30 PM – Back to hotel.

9:40 PM – ESPN: football, basketball.

10:15 PM – Pack suitcase.

10:59 PM – Confirm tomorrow morning’s wake-up call.

11:00 PM – SportsCenter. Lila tov.

Joel Chasnoff (The 188th Crybaby Brigade) has been blogging for the Jewish Book Council on his Jewish Book NETWORK tour. Be sure to check back for his next post for the JBC Blog

Apatow and AJWS

Thursday, November 04, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Not exactly “books,” but an inspiring organization that you should all know about and support:

Jewish Lit Links

Thursday, November 04, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter