You may be wondering Iím on vacation or, Heaven forbid, too ill or otherwise occupied to post anything. The good news is that Iím on a 3-week Midwest book tour, speaking about the research behind ENCHANTRESS at a variety of Jewish venues in 5 states: Illinois [Chicago], Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia [Morgantown], and Pennsylvania [Pittsburgh]. As you can imagine, I donít have much free time, particularly in a place where I can set up my laptop and write. Iím also in the middle of a 3-week blog tour, with reviews and guest posts on all sorts of book blogs. Check it out at the HFVBT website
But now itís almost Shabbat, and Iím happily the guest of my longtime friend and Talmud teacher, Rabbi Benay Lappe. Iím pleased to read a very nice review from Life With Angie . Hereís an excerpt: ďÖ the extraordinary story of a 3rd century Jewish mystic in Babylon. I suppose it is technically fantasy (or religious, depending on your point of view) because magical things happen, but it reads very much like historical fiction, and based on the author's website, it's very much rooted in history. The author, Maggie Anton, has studied the history of Judaism in depth and actually based the novel on true characters from the Talmud. I'm not Jewish and I know nothing about Jewish history or the Talmud, but I really enjoyed this work of fiction.Ē
I consider this high praise indeed.
Had a great interview with Blog Radio host Cyrus Webb today. Here's how to listen:
Short and sweet review by Mari Reads:
"I have absolutely loved reading this book. It was totally unexpected considering my lack of knowledge of the time period and Jewish history. Rav Hisda's daughter is so interesting and such a strong character even in a very male dominated time period. The book is filled with magic, demons and a golem. There are also some tales thrown in, Mishnahs, pertaining to Jewish law. It is a great mix of fiction, Jewish history and mysticism.
This is the second book in the series, but I never felt lost despite not having read the first book. Information is doled out in increments throughout the book to explain things that occurred in the previous book. It is a long book, but I never felt that is was too long. I also spent a lot of time looking up yiddish terms and names I was not familiar with. This may not be for some but I enjoyed it. I felt like I learned something. I always like that."
My answer to the question: Now that ENCHANTRESS is finished, have you started writing the next book?
As for "writing" novels, the terms "start" and "finish" are relative. After I 'finish' writing the first draft of a current novel, I move into editing mode, during which I also 'start' thinking about the next one, setting up the plot and imagining important scenes. Once I 'finish' the semi-final draft of the current novel, there's a gap of time while various others are editing it, during which I 'start' writing the next one.
This continues as I do several revisions until the first ms is truly 'finished' and ready to be printed. At that time I turn my complete writing attention to the next book, which will surely be interrupted by promoting the 'finished' novel.
Speaking of finished novels, the prestigious New York Jewish Week lists ENCHANTRESS among its roundup of 13 upcoming Fall fiction releases. Here's the link
CHAG SAMEACH. HAPPY SUKKOT [that's me 4th from the right, next to lady in blue]
Now that more and more people are wearing white for Yom Kippur, check out this article on Jewcy for Melissa Golmanís experience. I had the same problem last year [except for living in NYC] since I have nothing white in my wardrobe. So I was determined to find a cream or light beige outfit appropriate for my shul that didn't blow my budget.
I set up a search on Ebay [I prefer recycled clothes] and must have looked at, and rejected, hundreds of possibilities. It was just before Rosh Hashana, when I was about to give up, that two outfits caught my attention. One a minimally beaded cream skirt suit, very retro, perhaps worn once by a bride's mother, the other a light beige pants suit with subtle stripes. I checked the measurements and they matched mine [very important for Ebay], so I bid on both. To my amazement and delight, I won both and they fit perfectly once I shortened the sleeves & pant legs. I wore the fancy skirt suit to Kol Nidre and the comfortable pants suit on YK day. Mission finally accomplished [as long as I stay this size]. That's me on the left, my husband next to me.
I didnít do a whole lot of publicity for APPRENTICE, the first Rav Hisdaís Daughter book, and later realized that most of my Rashiís Daughters fans didnít realize I had written a new series. I have learned my lesson for ENCHANTRESS, and not only took out big ads in Reform Judaism, Hadassah, Lilith, CJ Voices [Conservative Judaism] magazines, but also stepped up my social media. Almost nobody had blogs 10 years ago when my first novel was published, and now authors ignore these at their peril. As you have hopefully noticed, Iíve done a bunch of guest posts on various Jewish womenís blogs, as well as posted more often on my own blog.
I also signed up for something new: a blog tour of 20 historical fiction websites. Starting today Ė itís Maggie Antonís ENCHANTRESS Blog Tour via HFVBT [Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours], October 6-30. Reviews, interviews, guest posts, giveaways and more. Here is the HFVBT link.
Yom Kippur may be over, but it shouldn not be forgotten so quickly. With that in mind, I want to share a remarkable piece of writing from Elizabeth Gilbertís SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS Ė a historical novel I highly recommend.
ďIn all our lives, there are days that we wish we could see expunged from the record of our very existence. Perhaps we long for that erasure because a particular day brought us such splintering sorrow that we can scarcely bear to think of it ever again. Or we might wish to blot out an episode forever because we behaved so poorly on that day - we were mortifyingly selfish, or foolish to an extraordinary degree. Or perhaps we injured another person and wish to disremember the guilt. Tragically, there are some days in a lifetime when all three of those things happen at once - when we are heartbroken and foolish and unforgivably injurious to others, all at the same time.Ē
That, among other things, is what Yom Kippur is for.
To put you in a light-hearted mood for Yom Kippur, here's a shofar video that can't help but make you smile.
Gmar chatimah tova to all. Just in time for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Book Council has interviews with authors David Wolpe and Yael Unterman, as well as an article about Internal Dialogue: The Days of Awe. It also has, sound trumpets [or maybe shofarot], ENCHANTRESS at the top of its list of recommended reads. Here's the JBC link
Forgive me, but I forgot to announced that the Reading Group discussion questions for ENCHANTRESS are on my website. There are 16 for readers to consider and 3 for the author that I answered. Appropriate for this week as we approach Yom Kippur, Q16 asks ďWhat role does forgiveness play in the novel?Ē
Here's the link
Itís now about halfway between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which means Iíve answered 5 of the 10 online questions for the 10Q program, a spiritual exercise where each day between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I receive an email, reminding me to log into their website and answer a different question. Earlier this week I received an email with my answers to last yearís questions, and it was enlightening to see where I was last September compared to this one.
Not just for Jews, 10Q is a great way for anyone to look back at the year thatís past, look ahead at the year to come, and take stock. To give you a taste, here are the first 5 questions:
1. Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?
2. Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you're especially proud of from this past year?
3. Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?
4. Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?
5. Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? "Spiritual" can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.
I havenít come up with an answer to #5 yet, and itís OK if I donít. Nobody knows how Iíve answered except me. I know I blogged about this last year, but for those who didnít see my post or just need a reminder, itís not too late to sign up.