I think you can still buy Levy’s Rye Bread in New York. Years ago in the subways that company advertised with a series of posters of apparently non-Jewish types (Buster Keaton, a native American, a NYPD cop, a choir boy, African- and Asian-Americans) happily chomping on its product. Very politically incorrect and ethnically inaccurate in today’s world, but in the sixties the ad campaign made its point and helped propel its creator, legendary adman Bill Bernbach, into the Advertising Hall of Fame. (To keep things contemporary, I must note that Bernbach–a founder of Doyle, Dane & Bernbach–is considered an inspiration for today’s “Mad Men” television series.)

A non-Jewish San Francisco friend, whose book club has invited me to speak early in 2011, commented, after reading the book herself, that it would be helpful to have some terms explained. So, I’ve developed a glossary, which is actually included in the ebook version of After the Auction.

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This author thing is a new experience for me, of course, and people are naturally curious as to how it’s going.  I’m not on the best seller list, but my status on Amazon varies from 100,000s to the 400,000s in rankings of books sold.  That doesn’t count what I’m selling myself via the web site or in person.  And I’m flattered by those who’ve posted favorable reviews on my Amazon page.

But, important as sales are, that’s not my sole criterion in assessing how After the Auction is “going.” I am intrigued by the reactions of readers and SHOCKED that many I’ve heard from like/love it.  Why am I shocked?  Let’s face it–this is a new venture for me–writing fiction.  From the trials and tribulations I’ve had–for instance, not hooking up with any of the myriad of agents I queried–let’s say that I had considerable self-doubt.

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My book-related travels have taken me to New York City the week of the annual Book Expo event.  Specifically, I came to present AFTER THE AUCTION to a Jewish Book Network (JBN) “Meet the Author” session.  The audience, the members of the JBN, consists of Jewish community center, educational agencies, and synagogue programming staff members who “book” author speakers for their sites.  The JBN schedules 4-5 of these sessions over a three-day period during its annual conference just ahead of the opening of the huge Book Expo exhibition at the Javits Center here.

I’d really targeted this year’s JBN meeting as my timing goal for getting my book published.  And I was amazed at how many other authors apparently had, too.  The sessions run like a well-oiled machine: Each author gets two minutes to speak, and the next speaker sits in an “on deck” seat.  While the timekeeper doesn’t exactly use a hook or play Oscar night music, her bright red signs announcing 1 minute, 30 seconds, 10 seconds and her ultimate times-up rise from her seat are pretty effective in keeping the speakers in line.  That is, except for a couple–including at least one prominent novelist, Cathleen Schine, whose latest book, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, only got a great front-page review in the NY Times Book Review (which she did mention, but who wouldn’t?).  It surprised me that such a relatively well-known writer would appear for this try-out session; maybe it surprised her, too, but that was no reason for her to disregard the rules and ignore the timekeeper trying to be polite but firm.

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