As I approach the publication of novel #2, The Lost Torah of Shanghai, Lost Torah coverI’m constantly in catchup and explanation mode. Yes, it’s done,  but no, it’s not quite ready. The formatted manuscript sits in a drawer (to keep it together) awaiting my final proofread before it goes to press, cover and all. It’s coming, it’s coming…

What am I doing that takes the time away from this? Well, there’s HIPPY USA, Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, of which I’m board chair, and that takes tons of time. Why? Because I’m passionate about this program that coaches parents to give their kids school-readiness skills, and it does so through paid home visitors, the parents’ socio-economic and cultural peers, “trusted messengers” who deliver HIPPY’s curriculum to the parents and trains them in using it with their kids. Many of these home visitors are working their first-ever jobs. HIPPY is now in 23 states and DC, and we’re trying to expand it. 

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Israel-China Cultural FestivalFor the last couple of months it’s seemed to me it’s been all China all the time. Without venturing out of  San Francisco.

Part of this was due to the Israeli Consulate’s Israel-China Cultural Festival throughout June. I was involved in  some of the planning and execution of this community-wide series of events that ranged from lectures to films to children’s story to a final banquet. The opening “ceremony” featured an exhibit on Dr. Ho Feng Shan, a Chinese consul in Vienna in the 1930s who drafted transit documents for Jews trying to escape the Nazis with few places to go. Sometimes called the “Chinese Schindler,” he’s been honored posthumously among Righteous Gentiles at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. His daughter, Manli Ho, a journalist and the curator of the exhibit, presented an excellent lecture about her father. Manli and her husband, John Wood, have become friends of the family both here and in Beijing.

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guest-interview by Linda FrankGuest Author Interview with Linda Frank

Please join me in welcoming Linda Frank, a resident of San Francisco, avid reader and author of After the Auction.

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Readers may wonder why I blog on travel and not just my writing. From the beginning I titled the blog “Travels and Travail,” relating to the authorship experience. While travel is hardly travail, it certainly augments and complements the writing and broadens the writer’s outlook (and body look). Blogging is writing, too, which is a good thing, since this is the most writing I’ve done in the past couple of weeks.

After our non-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving in Glasgow Ei and I flew to southern Spain. The 2+ hour flight that departed at 8 am from Glasgow was packed with Scottish vacationers, many sporting flip flops and shorts and drinking beer for breakfast. We flew Easy-Jet, a European no-frills carrier. Nice folks, no rowdiness, just a little noisy. With Glasgow’s climate, who could blame them for starting their holiday from the moment of take-off?

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Lamp Shade Tower at Glasgow's Gallery of Modern Art

 

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Yes, traveling (a Midwest swing bookended by a Little Rock meeting and book talk and a St. Louis wedding and book talk, with stops in Louisville and beautiful Lexington, KY; Indianapolis; alma mater town Ann Arbor; Milwaukee homeland; Lincoln’s Springfield). Hardly the dizzying foreign destinations of the Today Show host’s annual odyssey this week.

But, more significantly, I’ve been AWOL from writing.

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“A 60 year old female protagonist is an automatic problem with most mainstream publishers who prefer much younger characters.”

This is part of the email response I got yesterday morning from a New York literary agent, who shall remain nameless. I read it on my IPhone, while my husband and I were driving back to San Francisco from a quick weekend trip to Los Angeles. The thumbs-on-phone approach wouldn’t work for my reply, and I wouldn’t have time to write back on my computer until later in the evening. But I had plenty of time to think about it the challenge it presented. Those “fighting words” were a clarion call to action!

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Xiaoming, a new Chinese friend searching for her Jewish roots.

It’s no secret to blog-readers and everyone I know that I have a family tie to China in my daughter-in-law Li Xuebai, aka Amy Li Ansfield. And readers of my first novel, AFTER THE AUCTION, might recall that Lily, my “main woman,” discovered a Chinese cousin, Ruth, in Israel, while searching for the Seder plate looted by the Nazis. And I’ve already hinted that Ruth and China figure prominently in the next novel. Working title: The Lost Torah of Shanghai.

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A long trip such as ours (Eli says “40 days and 40 nights”–he counts the day we left and the day we came home, which, of course, makes a better story than 38 or 39 days!) includes some down time and a lot of flight time, perfect for reading. But flying on small 12- and 4-seater safari planes mandates that you don’t take weighty luggage. This is where the Kindle came in very handy!

What was loaded and read:

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Goodness, this is my first blog post of 2011!

Not that I haven’t thought about blogging. I’ve even felt guilty about not blogging. But I’ve posted on Facebook (even developed a new Facebook page–please LIKE me!) and tweeted on Twitter (FOLLOW me, please). Does that count? Even if I haven’t blogged since 2010?  Writing the next book? Not so much.

Yes, I know that social networking is the marketing mode of choice. I know I have to do it. I’m doing it. I see results, actually, as when I tweet several times a day I gain a new follower or two. Facebook, well, I saw a small bounce in my book sales when I mentioned a “promotion” during National Read an Ebook Week, which was also on International Women’s Day (is there a National Week for Self-Published Authors? Or Baby Boomers on Facebook/Twitter?).

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