joanne Weck Author Page

Monday, December 7, 2015

CREATING EVIL--GOING TO THE DARK SIDE


EVIL LIVES--TURN ON TH ENEWS, OPEN YOUR LAPTOP, PICK UP A NEWSPAPER.

So it seems appropriate to face this fact, even in fiction. But I'm a mild person who avoids even the most minor conflict in person, who yearns for a world in which armies and bombs and battles are obsolete. 

Yet novels thrive on conflict. Creating characters, especially those whose personality and goals are the very opposite of mine, always presents a challenge. Producing imaginary people who are as memorable as MacBeth or Nurse Ratched, to make them stalk the pages as believable, demands more than imagination. It demands an understanding of the effects of nature and nurture. This is where my education in psychology (the Gestalt Approach) and theater (the Stanislavski Method) become invaluable.

For a self-centered cheater in my novel DOUBLE DECEPTION I employed “the magic if.” How would I feel if I’d been abandoned by my mother at birth, left in the hospital and then adopted by demanding parents who always made me feel I was somehow lacking? If my husband lost interest in me after the birth of our child, and a suave and charming man offered me the reassurance and admiration I needed?

For a brutal criminal I contemplated the psychology of a boy who’d been raised in a series of foster homes, thrown out onto the streets at fourteen and had to make his way on the streets. Offered a "tribe" and a brotherhood of older criminals, wouldn’t it be natural to find satisfaction and success in the gang?

First I consider the forces that combine to create a certain type of individual. Then I search for quirks of personality, physical attributes, manners and morals that contribute to their individuality.I meditate and search my own soul for the emotions I feel and the emotions I suppress and deploy them as appropriate for my characters.

Writing brings into play all of the accumulated knowledge and experiences of one’s life, the ability to walk in another’s shoes, the excitement and pleasure of playing many different roles. In my real life I’m a staid, modest, law abiding, and considerate human being. But on the page I can live an adventure every day as I become a hardened killer, a wily detective, or a femme fatal.    

Friday, December 4, 2015

Can I Keep Writing Fiction When the World is in Chaos?

“I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.” 
― W. Somerset MaughamThe Painted Veil


I read all the headlines--endless wars in the mideast and Africa, fire-bombings in Syria, in the United States--police shootings of unarmed young men, mass shootings by fanatics--not to mention fires and natural disasters--floods, fires, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and the effects of our contribution to more disasters through climate change.

Chaos seems overwhelming. Makes me rethink my life of security and my escapism into worlds that I  create. Should I be writing about more important issues? Should I voice my opinions in op-ed pieces and letters to the editor instead of more subtly through the the minor themes of my fiction? Is it enough to contribute to causes I believe in, to add my name to petitions, to write to my representatives?

When I was younger I threw myself into the fray. I taught in a ghetto school in a riot torn city. I picketed against injustice. I volunteered. I worked with children at risk. Even when I taught in more comfortable towns I did my best to impart values I believed in to the young people in my care.

Now my keenest wish is to sit at my desk (before a roaring fireplace) in my Pocono Mountain cabin and disappear into a world which is under my control. In which karma ensures that characters get what they deserve. I can insinuate my ideas about issues I consider important--that abuse of the weak is always wrong, that all children are our children, that violence only leads to more violence.  But I wonder if it's enough.  Can art in all its forms create beauty out of Chaos?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

HERE'S THE STORY, UNION, NEW JERSEY'S HOMETOWN BOOKSTORE







A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.

–Neil Gaiman

Joe Leo, the owner of HERE'S THE STORY BOOKSTORE, has kindly invited me to do a book signing/reading at his Stuyvesant Ave, Union, NJ store. In many ways, it feels like going home. I lived and taught in Union for many years. I moved to Fort Lee shortly before I retired from teaching so, after retiring in 2001, I haven't had many occasions to return.
But when I drove to Union to talk about doing the reading it was very much a case of deja vu. There was the high school that was my home away from home. There were the familiar landmarks, the familiar streets. And yet things have changed.

Joe's bookstore is one of the few independent bookstores surviving in this world of Amazon. It's a lovely oasis in the desert. It bright, cheerful, arranged to lure you in and encourage you to stay. There's a rocker, inviting children to gather around for Story-time.

I hope that friends and strangers will stop by to say hello on November 14th, between 1:00 and 2:30. I hope you will support Joe and his beautiful bookstore. We can't let these islands of culture and community slip away.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

ANOTHER GREAT REVIEW FOR DOUBLE DECEPTION --KEEP THEM COMING, (PLEASE!)

By Bsby on October 31, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a delightful surprise. It grabbed me from the first chapter, and then I couldn't put it down. This author has a masterful command of dialogue which helps make the characters feel real and fully formed. There is a very real sense of suspense in this story which slowly builds throughout the novel and then bursts into a satisfying climax in the final chapter. The story concerns a young woman who discovers there is someone out there who is her exact duplicate, and somehow their lives are intricately entwined. . All in all, this is a great read. I can't wait for Ms. Weck's next book.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

POCONO RETREAT SPARKS FORT LEE AUTHOR'S NEW MYSTERY

fortlee.dailyvoice.com/neighbors/  by Alexis Tarrazi 10/26/2015

FORT LEE, N.J. — It's no coincidence that Fort Lee author Joanne Weck's latest novel takes place in both Manhattan and the Poconos. The former teacher splits time at her borough home during the week and the Poconos on weekends.
“I watch the bear come wandering down the dirt road, watch the birds in the feeders -- and squirrels,” said Weck, whose novel, "Double Deception," was published in early October.
Writing has always been her escape. “I grew up in a family of 10 kids,” Weck said. “I was the poet, I was the writer, I put on plays for grade-school classes. That’s how I got the attention that I needed.”
Her mother rocked her younger siblings to sleep by singing nursery rhymes. It stoked an early interest in poems and rhymes.
“I started writing at 6 or 7,” Weck said. “I wrote almost continuously throughout my life.”
Weck is nothing if not versatile, having worked in Lakewood, Linwood, Tenafly, and Union Township teaching "all the exciting courses," she said, "creative writing, theater arts and TV production, as well as English.”
After retiring in 2001, she found she missed working with youngsters and took up part-time tutor work for Fort Lee.
Weck continued to find time to write poems, produce plays while she taught. She even interviewed celebrities such as Michael Jackson as an editor for Scholastic Magazine.

The fast-paced "Double Deception" is set in and around Manhattan with scenes in a deserted cabin in the Pocono Mountains.
The plot involves a pair of twins, separated at birth, who know nothing of one another’s existence until each is kidnapped in Manhattan. Held by dangerous criminals, they discover one another and escape by combining their ingenuity and courage.

Weck already has completed another novel that is due to be released in January.
But she's also still feeling the thrill of her latest release.
“I didn’t believe it was real until I was holding the paperback last week,” she said.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

My First Review for DOUBLE DECEPTION

"...an exciting book about a young woman's plight when she realizes someone in New York City who looks exactly like her--has been kidnapped. The book kept me entirely in suspense as Fallon, the heroine, tries to understand what is going on in her life. I really like how the book gives you a peek into another person's life and urges you to want to see how circumstances are going to play out for her. The author Weck does a very good job in setting the book in New York City, in northern New Jersey and the Poconos. The book has fresh twists and turns that surprised and grabbed me. A most satisfying read." -- Marge Carson 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

THE WORST MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE (MAKE FOR GREAT DRAMA)

This feels like Love

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
― James Baldwin

Tragedy, heartbreak, and pain do not make life richer, except perhaps for the relief of having survived with a deeper appreciation of everything you STILL have. My life has not been awash in unusual suffering. I've never survived a tsunami, an earthquake, a fire, or a shooting rampage.

But that doesn't mean I can't identify with those who have, or imagine myself in a similar situation. As a writer, I use the pain and suffering, the fear and shock that I've experienced to enrich and develop the characters in my novel.

I've felt the loss of people I loved, parents, a sister. I've lived through a painful divorce, financial disaster, a near death from an ectopic pregnancy. I was stalked and threatened by a mental patient who fixated on me.

One peculiar aspect of being a writer is the ability to be inside and outside of the experience at the same time. I remember as a child during moments of rage or sadness becoming aware of a separate part of myself observing and recording everything I was feeling. In the most dire moments (once, for example, as my car spun through the air after being sideswiped by a truck) I caught myself thinking, "This will be great to write about. Time actually does slow down. If I live through this, I'll use it in my novel."

When I'm writing a scene that demands intense emotions I can easily recall desires and emotions of my own life. (Not that I've ever murdered anyone--but I know what murderous rage feels like.) Devastation, hate, love, joy, feel the same no matter what the circumstances.

Tapping into the emotions, sense memory according to acting principals, help me, as a writer, recall the physical sensation of these emotions and transfer them to the characters as I create them.

Friday, October 9, 2015

WRITER'S BLOCK, PROCRASTINATION--FEAR OF FAILURE?

FEAR IS WHAT HOLDS US BACK FROM OUR CREATIVITY.



One of my favorite inspirational writers is Julia Cameron, author of several books on the creative process including The Artist's Way, Walking in This World, Finding Water, and The Complete Artis's Way. She is a prolific creator in many fields, including film, poetry, memoir, as well as her inspirational books for every artist.

One of her ideas that strikes me as deeply true is her belief  that procrastination (and/or the condition known as "writer's block) is the result of FEAR.  What can cause a person who truly wants to write (or draw, paint, sculpt, film, dance etc.) to freeze before the page or artistic material? What turns an artist's desire for expression against herself?

ACCORDING TO CAMERON, FEAR IS AT THE HEART OF SUCH PROCRASTINATION.

Her advice: before you start a new project, ask your artist (i.e. that inner creative part of yourself) several questions, including what resentments or angers you are holding in regard to the project, any fears, and what you stand to gain by NOT tackling the project.

Another part of Cameron's cannon is the daily mental "dump" called Morning Pages. She urges any creative person to make this a daily practice, simply write, no censorship, no second thoughts, no concern with grammar or spelling or structure. This practice, according to Cameron, frees the mind and dissolves writer's block.

I've attempted to incorporate this practice into my writing life, but I confess, I don't always follow through. But when I feel blocked I open one of her books and her writings inspire me and activate me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Promotion and Publicity, find what works!

I’m sharing a link to the community The Books Machine, a website where you can find good books to read from the comfort of your electronic devices. Membership for readers is free and will give you access to free Kindle books and quality deals, specially selected for you. This link will take you to the page: http://www.thebooksmachine.com

Monday, September 28, 2015

THE TRUTH ABOUT PROMOTION TODAY


DOUBLE DECEPTION EBOOK AVAILABLE AT DISCOUNT OCT 4-9 HTTP://AMBERQUILL.COM
 
The writing life is frustrating and rewarding in equal measure. I can find numerous ways to procrastinate and avoid actually writing. But once started, I wonder why I procrastinated. The story seems to appear magically. It’s like slipping into a stream or a river, an effortless flow, originating from a source somewhere beyond me.

Afterward there comes the hard work—editing, rewriting, submitting and even after publishing the most difficult work of all—promoting. Today all but the most famous, the most prolific, writers must promote their own work if they hope to be read. 

To quote from an article from Writers’ Relief:

Once upon a time, when a big, traditional house published a book, the author just sat back and relaxed while the publisher did all the marketing and sales promotion.
Those days are over.
Today’s authors, whether self-published or published through a traditional house, must do the bulk of their own marketing and promotion if they want their book to sell. While self-published authors know this all too well, many traditionally published authors are surprised to find that their publishers aren’t going to take care of everything when it comes to marketing their books.
Why Publishers Aren’t Promoting Books
Traditional publishing has changed in recent years. With the rise of self-publishing, there are many more new books competing for the same audience—more than a million new titles are released each year! Most publishing houses are now short on time, money, and staff. Their marketing personnel are often overworked, and they generally put the bulk of their resources into A-list authors. For the rest of their lesser-known authors, traditional publishers basically hope their books will find an audience simply by being available in a store.
Why You Must Market Your Own Book
If you’re a self-published author, marketing your own book is a given. You may be able to purchase some promotional help, but the brunt of the promotional work is your responsibility. If you’re traditionally published, you’ll find most publishing houses will prepare basic promotional materials and include your book in their catalogs, websites, and ads; they may send out review copies, show your book at conventions, and provide rudimentary information about your book to online bookstores and wholesalers. Many use social media and distribute press releases as well. If you’re lucky, they might schedule a book tour. But if your book isn’t an instant success, you may notice the marketing support dropping off fast.
No matter how you publish, the fact remains that no one knows your novel like you do. No one is as passionate about your work as you are, and it’s your reputation and career that are on the line. Ultimately, the success of your book is up to you.
Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, lay the groundwork with a solid author platform and a plan for your own promotional goals and ideas. Cross-market using your social media to build your email list. Try to get local media coverage: TV, newspaper, and radio. And, of course, don’t overlook the importance of “word-of-mouth” and book reviews.
Writers (like me) feel overburdened by such requirements. Writers want to write, not spend time harassing friends, hunting the Amazon top reviewers and begging for reviews, going to book stores, libraries, and cafes to find an audience for their book. But it just won’t happen today unless you are incredibly lucky or well connected.
Nonetheless, as a writer, I keep writing and submitting. My latest novels have been accepted by a new publisher, Amber Quill Press and I’m looking forward to their launching.
Double Deception will be available as an ebook October 4th, and as a paperback by the end of the month (from Amber Quill Press and Amazon.)
 Rima and Chloe will be available by January 2016.

Double Deception is a mystery set in Manhattan and the Poconos with some overlap of characters from my previous mystery, Crimson Ice, a Pocono Mountain Mystery, also available from Amazon. (Copies have also been donated to the Med West library in the basement.)
Reviews are helpful in promotion, and I’m told they don’t have to be all 5 star reviews to move the book upward on the Amazon lists.This is the cover and the “teaser” from the opening page of Double Deception, a mystery involving twins who have been separated at birth and grow up unaware of one another—until they meet under the most dire of circumstances.


Fallon checked the mailbox, grabbed the magazines and forwarded bills before she took the elevator. Without even glancing at the envelopes in hand, she inserted the key. It wouldn’t turn. She jiggled it, pushing at the door, which slowly swung open. Somebody’s been here, broken the lock.
She glanced into the apartment. A kitchen stool was overturned. Sofa pillows were strewn on the floor. Better get the hell out of here. But what about Goliath?
“Goliath! Come, boy,” she called, poised for flight. She searched her handbag for her cell. No dog. A faint whine sounded from the inside hallway that led to the bathroom. Backing toward the elevator, she pressed 911.
Before Fallon could stab at the call button, she heard the elevator rising. That was quick. Gretchen must be on her way up. Fallon shut off the phone.
Another sound—the stairway door behind her creaked. She turned, caught a glimpse of someone leaping toward her. Black ski mask. Gloved hands reaching for her. She flailed, but powerful arms grasped, pressed a cloth over her face.

She kicked, struggled, knew she was being dragged into the stairwell. Oh my God. This can’t be happening. The hall door creaked shut just as she heard the elevator door slide open. She tried to draw in air, scream, but sweet fumes flooded her nostrils and she slipped into darkness

Thursday, September 17, 2015

.DOUBLE DECEPTION COMING SOON! (GET A FREE COPY)


I just received the cover for my new novel, DOUBLE DECEPTION-- ebook available October 4th, paperback later in the month, from AMBER QUILL PRESS.


I think I like it. It captures the idea of twins, doubles, and mystery. It's interesting how the people who've seen the picture interpret it differently. One friend saw the faces as cracked like ancient statues. Another saw spider webs. I see the delicate pattern covering the faces as lace, suggestive of the hats women used to wear with a veil, creating an aura of mystery.

The following is a scene from the book when the sisters (identical twins) raised apart, unaware of the other's existence, confront one another for the first time:

“Oh, you’re awake!” The woman’s voice seemed eerily familiar, and when she approached, Fallon blinked. It seemed at first a mirage, a hallucination—a woman with her own face, her own figure loomed above her in the dim light. She realized, with a start, her identical twin was staring down at her.
——
Still lightheaded, Fallon struggled to a sitting position, feeling as if she were gazing into a slightly distorted mirror. Charlotte stared back with the same intensity, their eyes locked on one another. Charlotte spoke first. “Who are you? Where did you come from?”
Since learning of her twin’s existence, Fallon had been obsessed with finding her, yet the reality was overwhelming. Her reaction was visceral—blood pulsing at her temples, a rush of adrenaline. Despite the pain in her head and the vertigo that made the room spin, she reached a hand toward the figure. She tried and failed to say her name.
Charlotte’s face, at once strange and familiar, swam before her—pale, paler than her own. A slight crease between her eyebrows and a certain tightness about the mouth hinted at stress. She was slimmer, too. Her sister was staring at her, demanding to know who she was.
Fallon finally managed a croak. “Oh my God! Charlotte! Charlotte, you’re alive!”
“Who are you?” Charlotte repeated. “How do you know my name? Why do you look like me?”
Fighting the fog in her brain, Fallon tried to explain. “I’m your twin. Your sister, Fallon Jamison.”
“You’re my twin? My twin?” Charlotte drew in a deep breath. “This is crazy!”
“I only found out a few days ago.” It was still difficult to get the words out. “I saw your picture in the park on a poster—”
“My picture?” Charlotte’s voice faltered. “They’re looking for me?”
“You didn’t know?”
“I don’t know anything. I don’t know what’s going on, where I am, why I’m here. Then you show up. I thought I was losing my mind!


HERE'S MY OFFER: The first five people who respond by sending me their name and address at my email Joanneweck@aol.com with the promise of posting an honest review will get a free copy of DOUBLE DECEPTION as soon as it is available in paperback.





Monday, September 14, 2015

PROMOTION, OH THE PAIN!

Like most writers, what I most want to do is WRITE. I want to sit at my desk in my secluded alcove and spin stories like a spider spinning a web, like Penelope weaving Laertes' shroud. Not that it's always effortless--far from it. Sometimes the writing is difficult, painful, gut wrenching.

But here's the rub. No matter how difficult it is, it's never as difficult as the task of promoting. Today writers, even the most successful according to what I'm reading, have to do much of their own promoting. They have to get out there and shout from the rooftops, or from the radio interview,  from the blog, from the utube video, and also arrange their own reading venues, appearances--promote, promote, promote!

I've had invitations from book clubs, from educators, from libraries to discuss my writing and read from one of my books, and I've enjoyed the experience. I'm not shy. I'm happy to show up. It's just that the research, the going out there and finding opportunities takes away from my writing time.

I dream of being one of those reclusive writers who can sell thousands of books without leaving my  desk, of having fans write me letters begging me to explain my secrets, to have name recognition and my books displayed in airports. But I'm afraid if it's all up to me, it may never happen.

My new publisher, AMBER QUILL, offers a marketing plan. They send out emails announcing new books available every day and give advice on other promotions. I'm hoping this advice will make me a better, more enthusiastic promoter. I'm breathlessly waiting for the publication of my mystery DOUBLE DECEPTION, sometime next month or early November to test it out.


Friday, September 4, 2015

WRITING SCENES OF SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS-- REALISM? EROTICA? PORN?

       Writing scenes that portray or even suggest a sexual encounter can be difficult.  Just show? Just tell?  Show and tell?

      My characters are driven by many forces.  That's what makes for a story that people want to read. Sex and sexual attraction is a vital part of the life of any well-rounded character. A prime motivator that drives mystery and suspense. Lust. Jealousy. Suspicion. Theft.  Manipulation. Betrayal. Greed. Murder. Some of the qualities that contribute to a page-turner.

       I don't write erotica or porn. I don't write "romances". I try to write realistically, to present sex as a part of normal life but also as one of the natural, human drives that leads to irrational behavior, to situations that create or increase the conflicts for a novel that makes a reader ask "What happens next?"

        I've been faulted for creating characters that aren't "likable" or like, Hillary, "likable enough." It is my belief that certain characters, and not just villains, are more interesting if they have minor (and sometimes not so minor) flaws.

         My characters in my latest novel, RIMA AND CHLOE, the major characters are guilty of various sins and offenses--adultery, selfishness, greed, rage, betrayal.  A supporting character is revealed as a pedophile and murderer. But until the denouement, he appears more sympathetically than some of the major characters.

         In Rima and Chloe the adulterous love affair jumpstarts and drives the plot. Lovers betray spouses and sometimes deceive one another. But, I do believe, it is in the cause of a deeper understanding of human nature, and the ultimate redemption of the characters.


     RIMA AND CHLOE, AVAILABLE FROM AMBER QUILL PUBLISHERS IN JANUARY 2016

Thursday, August 13, 2015

LEO THE LION

“A lion doesn't concern itself with the opinion of sheep.” 
― George R.R. MartinA Game of Thrones

The lion has always been a popular symbol of courage and strength, in myths, the bible, history. I've used it myself. A protagonist of my current novel is named Leo because of its symbolic connotations.
How can I be  heartbroken over the death of one beautiful lion killed as a trophy? I'm sure other lions are hunted and killed every day.
I know the world is full of other horrors, human horrors, starvation, war, human trafficking, sex slavery, yet I can be moved to tears by the murder of one beautiful beast.
(I always knew the beast in Beauty and the Beast was a lion, a beautiful lion. )
Is it because I was born a Leo? I don't really believe in astrological nonsense (except for the fact that the horoscope for a Leo has me pegged--arrogant, creative, narcissistic) nonetheless I identify with lions.
My totem animal.
I notice statues of lions, paintings, and the appearance of lion icons in films.
The murder of this one lion devastates me.




Wednesday, August 5, 2015

LIKABLE VILLAINS. UNLIKABLE PROTAGONISTS?


"The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

How likable must your protagonist be? I've gotten criticism from agents (with whom I don't necessarily agree) that protagonists of my most recent novel aren't "likable enough." I confess I never strove to make them sympathetic--I strove to make them interesting. I hope readers will follow these characters' journeys toward one another and their growing self-awareness with interest--pulling for a final rapprochement.

Zoe Heller, a novelist I particularly admire (Everything You Know, Notes on a Scandal) often creates characters who are despicable, yet intriguing. Her characters may or may not achieve the understanding or self-knowledge we want for them, yet they fascinate from beginning to end. Her protagonists, like those in the novels of Patricia Highsmith, (The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Two Faces of January) could in fact suffice for villains in other more conventional novels. 

Like these authors, I never try to create totally admirable and likable protagonists or absolute villains. Every human has a history, a combination of nature and nurture, that explains his/her character, the motivation for any good or any villainy. Flawed protagonists and likable villains are more interesting than caricatures of good or evil. I prefer an antagonist who has certain admirable qualities, so that even when he/she is defeated, the reader feels some sympathy and regret.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

RUBBING ELBOWS WITH THE FAMOUS (MOSTLY ACTORS)

THE FAMOUS--ARE THEY REALLY PEOPLE--JUST LIKE US?


 Recently I came across a newspaper photo of actors who had appeared in the movie Goodfellas--and it occurred to me I had personally met two of them--Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino. This led me to review the famous people I have met (however briefly) over the years. Here's my list:

1. Ray Liotta—I met him when he visited my roommate at a house we were renting in Union, NJ. He had grown up in that town. My roommate had been a student-teacher in the Theater program while he was a student at the local high school and he came to see her.

Since I had also studied acting at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and had appeared as an extra on the soap "Another World", we had a pleasant conversation about acting as he sat in my kitchen and shared coffee and cookies. He was handsome and polite and he joked with my six-year-old son who had also acted in a  few commercials.

I met Ray again years later when he returned to Union High School for a day of celebration--Ray Liotta Day. By that time he had become famous. The red carpet was rolled out for him and many festivities planned. 

As the then current Theater teacher at his alma mater, I invited him to re-enact a scene from a play he had appeared in as a student, with some of my young theater students reading supporting roles. He dismissed the suggestion out of hand. He spoke only to a large group in the gymnasium. During his talk he asked if a certain teacher was still at the school, and followed the answer with a put down. He told the kids he had succeeded  without going to to college and generally denigrated his high school experience. Apparently the students were not impressed with his visit. His photo plaque mounted in the school foyer was defaced within the week.

2. Paul Sorvino--He came to speak to my Theater students when I was teaching at Tenafly High School in Tenafly, NJ. (His daughter attended the school.) He was warm and charming, friendly, and accessible. The students asked many questions and he talked with them at length.   I met him again years later when I'd been awarded a Geraldine R. Dodge Fellowship for Teachers and Playwrights. He graciously claimed he remembered our previous meeting and posed for publicity photos with me.




3. Michael Jackson--I interviewed him for Scholastic Magazines when I was working as an editor there.  He was sweet, innocent, and idealistic. I left the recorded interview at the magazine office when I departed, but I wish I’d made a copy.






4. Cliff Roberson--star of many old movies such as Charly and PT 109. I met him first by accident at a studio in Manhattan when I was waiting to audition and he was waiting to have his makeup done for a public service commercial. He looked to be about sixty-five, weathered, but very healthy and tanned. (I was in my thirties.) He asked me if I were the make up artist. I confessed I wasn't. He initiated a friendly chat and invited me to submit resumes for my son and me as extras for a film he would be making called Morning, Winter and Night, based on a Sherwood Anderson short story. I called my manager that afternoon.

The next day I received a strange telephone call from Mr. Robertson. He asked me many personal questions, as though vetting me for something more than an "extra" on the film. He asked about my family, where I had grown up, my maiden name, my marital status and chatted in a friendly manner.

On location (Deerfield, Mass.) however, he only nodded when he saw me.I wondered if I had failed some test. Still, my son and I had a wonderful time, staying at the Deerfield Inn and shooting scenes in the snow. The film never got completed due to some union problem. However, on the shoot, we met Brooke Shields, who was the star.

5. Brooke Shields--She was young, sweet, and very lovely. Her mother accompanied her, as did her mother's entourage. Brooke joked with my young son and endeared herself to the entire cast, made up mostly of young people. In the late afternoons, after shooting, she sat signing photos while her mother watched. I had the impression that she was her mother's caretaker rather than vice-versa



6. Olympia Dukakis--She sponsored a woman's playwriting seminar at the Whole Theater in Montclair, NJ and occasionally stopped by to hear us read scenes from our work. When she won an Oscar for Moonstruck she invited the group to a dinner at her home in Upper Montclair, NJ. We ate sphagetti and meatballs and drank a toast to the most generous and welcoming host.






7. N. Richard Nash--playwright, author of The Rainmaker. He spoke to our group at Princeton and generously posed for publicity photos.





Wednesday, June 24, 2015

DOUBLE DECEPTION





“BODY AND SPIRIT ARE TWINS: GOD ONLY KNOWS WHICH IS WHICH.”

AND SPIRIT ARE TWINS: GOD ONLY KNOWS WHICH IS WHICH.”

ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURN




I’ve always been fascinated by twins, especially identical twins. Having been brought up with the concept of the soul, I wonder what it means to be a twin. Does each twin have half of one soul? Does the soul split in two when the cells divide to create identical doubles, or even triples? Stories of twins, separated at birth, who find each other and 
discover how similar they are especially spark my imagination.

These are some of the questions and mysteries that inspired me to write my latest novel, DOUBLE DECEPTION, a mystery, to be published  this October/early November in ebook and paperback by Amber Quill Publishers.

 .

Thursday, June 11, 2015

TIME OUT TO CELEBRATE

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
 






Is it too early to celebrate? I just signed a contract for the publication of my next book, a mystery. It won't be out until October or November.  I know, "There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip," etc.
But--why not luxuriate in the excitement and joy available in the moment?

I celebrated when I signed my first contract with my first agent---a relationship that ended amicably over  artistic differences. But I don't regret the pleasure I felt, the validation of having someone in a position to judge the merits of my writing, show their confidence in me.

Every hope and dream won't come true, especially in your writing life.  I could concentrate on the times the email or letter said, "We want to publish," or "You've won first prize" or I could become depressed about all the rejections I've gotten for stories, novels, and my favorite novella, still waiting to be recognized.

I choose to celebrate.

 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

STICKING YOUR NECK OUT



"I'd rather have cancer than a dishonest heart.”
                                                                            TRUMAN CAPOTE


It can be hard to take on a controversial issue. In personal writing it can be nearly impossible to confront a painful topic. Does that mean it’s not worth writing about? What to do when you’re torn between being honest and hurting someone’s feelings? Is “hands off” the right policy?

Truman Capote famously alienated his “friends” by revealing them with all their warts and wrinkles, lies, hypocrisy, and pretensions. Maybe it’s not necessary to go that far, but is there a middle ground?

My approach to difficult subjects is to attempt whatever is pleading to be explored, no matter how painful or shameful or secret it feels. Let it come forth from my mind, heart, unconscious, or wherever it might be lurking in all its gory detail. Put it on paper or on the screen. Then let it simmer. Let it percolate. Let it ripen.

Review it later with a bit of distance and a calm mind. Is it urgent in its need for wider distribution? Is it something to share with a limited audience? Something that can be mined for fiction? 


Perhaps the answer is that it simply needed to be expressed. But if there’s a message or a great story, go for it. Be brave. Stick your neck out.

Monday, April 20, 2015

FLYING HOME--BACK TO THE REAL WORLD



The end of vacation is hard. Focus changes from relaxation and fun to every day work and concerns. The long flight back to NJ from California is  a time for a transition for me. I start thinking about, maybe even start writing the story I want to write for this week's writers’ group meeting. 

Is work really work when you choose what and how much you want to do? No one is waiting eagerly to read what I write and yet I feel this pressure to create. My writing group helps me by giving me a deadline. When I haven’t written, there is no penalty, but still, I feel as if I’ve failed if I have nothing new to read.


Ideas have seemed scarce lately. I feel as if the pitcher has been empty for some weeks. Maybe my need to refill it has been served by a lazy week in the sunshine with my loving and beloved family.