Tag Archives: writing exercises

The Poet

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April is not only the month bloggers participate in the A to Z challenge, it’s also National Poetry month. I adore poets and love to read poetry. I have dabbled in poetry writing since I was a teenager but I don’t think I’m good enough to be considered a true poet.

Today, I’m sharing a Haiku I wrote in honor of Spring and today’s letter-H.

The Poet

Resurrecting Sun
Fresh air twirls through sprouting blooms
The poet observes

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THE GRAPEVINE STORY (A CHARACTER BUILDING GAME)

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Do you remember playing the grapevine game when you were a small child? You know, the game where one person whispers a phrase into the ear of another person and then that person does the same to another and then another until there are no more people to whisper it to? More times than not the participants discover the original phrase has changed by the time it gets to the end of the line of people playing the game. You played this right?
That game inspired me to write today’s a to z challenge for the letter G.

Our character’s name for this game is Shay. Shay’s a twenty year old college student taking the day off from school to go to the giant street fair that only comes around once a year. The festival is a cross between a giant flea market and a big craft fair with bands playing music too. There are vendors, musicians, food stands and artist galore at this event. Shay brought lots of money to shop and eat.

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Leave a comment letting us know what you think Shay will get or do at this festival. What stands will she stop at? Is she interested in the art work from local vendors? Does she want a piece of artisan jewelry? Is she hungry for a portabella mushroom sandwich or would she be more likely to grab a hotdog? What type of music will Shay stop to listen to? Is Shay alone or did she bring others with her? Feel free to leave a physical description of Shay.
At the end of the day, I’m going to go through the comments and update this blog with an in depth character description of Shay based on the details everyone provides. You can get a good feel for a person based on the foods they like, the items they buy for themselves or the music they listen to. Shay will evolve based on your comments. Currently, I have a vision for her in my mind but I’m certain by the time I read through the comments I will see her differently.
Happy Writing!

UPDATE: I WILL POST THE CHARACTER DESCRIPTION BY WEEKS END. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED BUILD SHAY.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTION OF SHAY

Thanks for helping me build Shay. I believe we created a hippie which is fine with me because I always wished I was born in the era of the hippie. Shay reminds me of a lyric of a grateful dead song. She wore rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes. I imagine Shay was wearing a dark red bandanna skirt with a white halter top and strappy sandals. Her hair is swept up into a messy bun and her face is covered with over sized sunglasses.

Medeia mentioned she bought beaded bracelets (which I totally imagine her to be wearing) and elephant ears. I think (however I may be wrong), Medeia meant the flaky pastry and not actual elephant ears. So we have Shay stopping for a pastry. Her arm is filled with her newly purchased multicolored beads. She is the type of girl others watch from afar.

She’s confident too. Confident enough to purchase a pair of floppy elephant ears from a novelty vendor next to the bandstand. She slips the grey ears over her head and bops over to the band where she listens to the bluegrass band. She sways slow, her head moves with the jazzy beat of the instruments. She smiles before taking another bite from the fluffy pastry. Flakes of crust flutter down her shirt which she brushes off.

Shay strolls out of the band area and heads back to the vendors. She’s filled from the pastry but not stuffed. She can’t resist the fried Avocado with the crispy corn dog coating. She chooses the ranch dipping sauce. Today is a day to splurge.

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BRAINSTORMING EXERCISE

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In November I attended a writing conference where we met with some great authors, illustrators, agents and editors. It was a two day conference filled with writing tips, critiques, pitch fests and mini workshops. I had a workshop with Linda Oatman High, a successful children and young adult author. Linda was AWESOME. She shared stories of her road to success, offered advice and gave us a super cool writing exercise that I’m going to give to you today. At the end of this exercise, I will share the fiction story I wrote that day.
Grab a pen and get out a piece of paper (or your laptop). Are you ready?

Write down a symbol of hope.
Write down one or two difficult times in your life.
Write down something that recently made you laugh.

Now take everything you just wrote and write a short story. You might find yourself asking how they will possibly fit together but believe me you will come up with something. If you are willing, share with us your story. If you don’t feel comfortable or have time to comment with your story then maybe just comment with the answers you wrote for the prompts given above.

As promised, here is what I came up with.
*Symbol of hope-I chose a dove
*Two difficult times in my life
1. The death of my father
2. Being an overweight teenager
*Something that recently made me laugh – I wrote down “What If” scenarios and trying to apply makeup to my husband on Halloween (we had an idea that just wasn’t coming together, the more I tried to fix the make-up, the worse it became).

Here is the story I wrote.

Every dress I tried on made me look like an Orca. I succumbed to the fact that I was going to be the fat daughter standing at the casket. I don’t remember the drive to the funeral home but I do recall the half hour before the public came in to pay their respects. I stood above the simple wooden casket staring at my lifeless hero, stroking his cold forehead and kissing his cool cheeks trying to remember the warmth they once held.
Random memories surfaced as my face filled with tears. I don’t know how I could forget the car ride over but remember the fight we had one Halloween. My mother insisted he dressed up like the rest of us. “We are trick or treating as a family,” she yelled. As she scrambled about the house gathering our costumes my father sat patiently as my eight year old brother smudged my father’s face with paint from a kit purchased at a costume store. “You’re going to look scary but cool,” my brother said.
My oldest sister flew into my bedroom whining “I don’t want to go trick or treating. I’m a teenager for crying out loud,” she protested.
“Can I eat your candy?” I asked. All I was thinking about at that moment was chocolate, sugar and more chocolate. I followed her out the room continuing to beg for her candy (I knew regardless if she wanted to go, she was going to be forced to go). She ignored my pleading and headed down the steps. I raced behind her shouting “Erika can I eat your candy?” All I wanted was to hear her say yes. I skipped the last step to get to her sooner. When I hit the landing, I felt a crunch beneath my foot. My father still sitting on the floor getting his face done, looked up when he heard the sound. His face wasn’t cool or scary, it was ridiculous. I would have laughed at the blur of mish mash colors across his face if it wasn’t for the fury I saw swimming in his eyes. When I lifted my foot, I saw the remains of the shattered ceramic dove his mother painted for him when he was six years old, three years before she died.
It was usually on the mantle of our fireplace in its special spot but that day my father allowed my brother to take it in for show and tell. He didn’t put it back. “I’m sorry Daddy,” my brother mumbled before his eyes lowered. My father’s head shook. He looked at me “You should be giving away candy not trying to eat more,” he said. My heart crashed from his hurtful words. I knew at that moment that my father the only person in my world who never made a fat comment to me thought I was fat.
The memory faded as people from his life filled the small room. I took my spot next to my siblings and thanked the people offering condolences. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that as they were telling me they were sorry for my loss they were also thinking she’s the fat daughter.
When the night came to an end and the funeral parlor emptied. I kissed my father’s cheek and said goodbye once again.
I heard its call when I stepped outside. I stood paralyzed. Above my head on a telephone wire a dove cooed. I looked up at the bird. Its head nodded as if it was acknowledging me. It might have been nothing to someone else, but to me it was my father giving me a sign in the form of a dove. Perhaps he didn’t want that memory to occupy anymore space in my mind. I let the memory of the only hurtful word my father spoke to me during his life fly away with the bird.

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APPLES IN LITERATURE

Today is the first day of the A to Z challenge. I thought I’d write about Apples in Literature. If you are a blogger participating in this challenge, drop me a line and let me know where I can find your blog.

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According to Wikipedia, the apple is known to symbolize knowledge, immortality, temptation, the fall of man and sin. We have all heard of Adam and Eve being tempted by the forbidden fruit which man determined to be an apple. Since the story of Adam and Eve the apple has popped up in many stories in literature. For my first A-to Z post I have collected some stories where apples showed up. Are there any that I missed that you would like to include?

The Story of Adam and Eve– In the Book of Genesis we are told that Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent (Devil) to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. It started with the serpent tempting Eve who took the first bite and later convinced Adam to eat the fruit. Because of their actions (disobeying God) they were banished from Eden and man would be made mortal. Of course this is my summary of the story so please don’t chastise me for not writing the complete history of Adam and Eve.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-Snow White is beautiful and kind and everything about her upsets the wicked queen who also happens to be Snow White’s step mother. The queen especially hates when her magic mirror tells her that Snow White is the fairest of all. The queen’s jealousy for Snow White consumes her and she orders a huntsman to chase Snow White into the woods and kill her. The huntsman can’t do what is asked and instead warns Snow White and urges her to hide in the woods. I think we all know what happens next, she meets seven dwarfs who do their best to hide her. For a while all is good but eventually the witch finds out she is alive and devises a plan to get rid of her for good. She makes a poison apple, dresses up like an old lady and offers Snow White the shiny delicious looking apple. Snow takes a bite and immediately falls into a deep sleep. All looks hopeless until her true love kisses her and she awakes.

Paris and the Apple (Greek Mythology) When the Goddess of discord found out she was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis she felt snubbed. Her means of revenge was to throw a golden apple onto the table at the wedding reception with the inscription To the most fairest. Three goddesses saw this and fought over who was the fairest. They took their argument to Zeus who handed over the decision to Paris. Each woman promised Paris things if they were chosen. In the end he chose Aphrodite a decision that was said to cause the Trojan War.

Other places the apple made an appearance are –Twilight (on the cover and in the lunch room scene, Bella rolls the apple-perhaps it was symbolic of being tempted by Edward) , Johnny Appleseed, and The Nancy Drew Notebooks (The Apple Bandit).

If an apple a day is said to keep the doctor away then why have so many bad things come from taking a bite from one? 

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IT’S A NEW YEAR, LET’S GET WRITING! MY 500 WORDS: A WRITING CHALLENGE

Happy New Year! I hope this New Year brings luck, prosperity, ideas and days filled of writing.

I have lots of ideas for the blog this year. In addition to author interviews, book giveways and posts focusing on this wonderful craft, I have decided to include more writing exercises and critique giveways. Who doesn’t love a critique? I love to critique and will promise to offer constructive feedback.

Yesterday while blog hopping I stumbled upon Jeff Goins My 500 Words: A Writing Challenge. I signed up and made a promise to myself that I will write 500 words a day for the entire month of January.

I need the discipline and look forward to visiting other writer’s blogs to see how their progress is going.

I’m diving into 2014. I declare my mantra to be- No feeling beats the feeling of accomplishment.

Today, I found a book I purchased years ago when I first started studying the craft. The book, Writer’s First Aid by Kristi Holl offers motivation for writers.

Throughout the month I will be opening the book to a random page.

Today, I smiled when I saw the words Keep Moving on page 65. Kristi encourages writers to tackle unfinished business. She explains how stalling can deplete your energy. (So True!) Her message is a similar message to the one I wrote about a few days ago. You have to get up! Stop procrastinating. Tackle the projects you have allowed to sit. You will feel so much better about yourself.

Come on guys, we can do this. We have to believe in ourselves. Write something right now, in an hour you will be happy you did.

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A Divergence Test For Writers (Inspired by the book Outliers)

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Happy New Year! I hope each and every one of you see success and productivity in 2013. May you write many words, imagine great stories and read tons of books.

Currently, I am reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a story about success. I’m very interested in the facts Malcolm shares about the world’s most successful people. There are so many things that contribute to a person becoming successful and to be honest it’s simply fascinating. Yes, hard work is at the center (according to his findings it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve success) but so many other things come into play as well, such as birthdays, geographic locations, opportunities and sometimes being in the right place at the right time.

I stumbled upon a chapter in the book that made me think blog post. The section talks about geniuses and the studies done on groups, scholars thought or claimed to be the most intelligent. A test given to them is called the “Divergence test.”  My interest was piqued when Malcolm explained that this type of test requires you to use your imagination. Perfect for writers, right?

So, let’s do it together (the sample he gave) and see what different types of answers we can come up with. Below you will find two words. The book says write as many different uses you can think of for each item, but for this post I will say five. Don’t read my answers until you come up with yours, then let’s compare. Okay, Ready, Set, Go! Be sure to use your imagination, don’t just write the obvious.

1. Brick
2. Blanket

Look over your answers, can you use any of them for a story you are writing? What do you know, this just became a writing exercise.

Here is what I came up with for Brick.

1. Build a House (my obvious answer)
2. Protection (A brick can do some serious damage)
3. Book Ends (Why not?)
4. Use to jump over when running an obstacle course (Be sure to be careful if doing so)
5. If you have a window that won’t stay up on its own, a brick can be used to help prop it up.
6. To stand on if extra height is needed. (I know I said five but I couldn’t help myself)

7. A planter (Yes, I’ve seen it done on Pinterest)

 

Here is what I came up with for Blanket

1. To cover yourself for warmth (my obvious answer)
2. To use as a roof when making a fort (my children do this all of the time)
3. To cushion something if transporting (if you are traveling, you can wrap a blanket around something fragile)
4. To cover a window (think college students)
5. To spread out on the ground while picnicking or a beach while sunbathing
6. To cover a body (Some of us write crime novels right?)

Okay, how did we compare. Now look over my answers and your answers. Can you use them in your story? Perhaps the eccentric neighbor invites you in for a cup of coffee and you notice she uses painted bricks as book ends. You get the idea. I love being inspired, and this book and the test listed in the book did exactly that. I hope I have inspired you today and would love if you list your answers in the comment section. I’m super curious to know what you come up with.

Happy Writing!

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Her Thoughts Became Mine – Discovering My Character

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I finally got to edit today. I won’t bore you with why I haven’t been able to in the last few weeks, but I will tell you I felt lost, not being able to be active in the world I adore, the world I create.
I have a great critique partner. She is someone that really jumps into editing and gives an honest opinion. I noticed one thing that was brought up several times through my critique. “Too many internal thoughts.”
I have a tendency to include an internal thought from the mc at the end of a sentence but it wasn’t something I recognized I did until recently.

Coincidentally, a few days prior to receiving my critique I was beginning to spot the over usage in my work. So when I read her comments, I knew she was absolutely correct.
As I deleted words that have become special to me I realized something else. The internal thoughts that I was writing down unnecessarily were necessary to me. Those internal thoughts were my characters way of introducing herself to me. So though eliminating them makes the story stronger, I am connected to my character because of them. I learned what she thought about people, what she really wish she could say to people, what she thought of herself, what went through her mind when she was scared and what memories she held.
Her mind became my mind and I discovered everything she needed to be.

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Could You, Would You, Be Anonymous?

Back when I was a young girl in elementary school a teacher read a story to our class. I can’t tell you what the name of the story was or the title, but I never forgot the author. “The author of this story is Anonymous,” she said. “Does anyone know what anonymous means?” she asked as she wrote the word in big letters across the chalkboard.

I sat there trying to properly pronounce the word in my mind, curious of whom this Anonymous person was. It was a peculiar name, one I’d never heard, or could barely pronounce. “Anonymous, means unknown,” she explained.

My heart sunk as I tried to process the explanation. How can’t they know who wrote this? I wondered. I had so many questions that I didn’t ask. Like, how was the story found? Did the person regret not letting the world know their name? Why is their identity a secret?

I still find myself asking those same questions every time I see the author listed as Anonymous. This past summer, I read the book Go Ask Alice. I think the fact that the author was Anonymous had a lot to do with the purchase.
I always wanted to come across one of these anonymous authors and pick their brains. In an industry where most of us collect rejections, it seems impossible that a nameless, faceless author would become published, but yet they do. And what is their process? Do they submit just like us? Does someone stumble upon their work, and then take the time to query work that isn’t even theirs? Who gets paid?

I understand someone may choose to be listed as anonymous if a book they are writing may stir up controversy, but what about a poem or a quote? How do these become known and then published. We as writers list quotes everyday on sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Is it possible that one day we will read a quote listed as Anonymous and know it was ours?
Having said all of that, I also want to make it known I always admired Anonymous writers and often asked myself this question, “Could you be Anonymous? Would you be Anonymous?” I never replied with a straight answer. I’d like to think I could but then I say nah probably not. But, I learned a long time ago never say never. Could you be anonymous? Would you be anonymous?

5 Famous Writings by Anonymous Authors
1. Beowulf
2. Arabian Nights: Tales From One Thousand and One Nights
3. (Quote) Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow
4. Go Ask Alice
5. The Book With No Name

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If My Book Were A Song

You hear a song for the first time and think, I don’t like this song. You hear it a second time and think, I still don’t like it but I don’t hate it as much as I did the first time I heard it. It plays again and you say to yourself, “Hmm, I’m actually starting to like this song.” By the tenth or so time, you are starting to turn it up. Maybe, you’re even singing the catchy verse that repeats throughout, but still you are not listening to it. Then one day, you stop listening to the music and begin listening to the lyrics and realize the story behind this song is awesome.
Songs have an advantage that books do not. Wouldn’t it be nice, if author’s books got played over and over again until people had no choice but to sit up and listen to the story being told? Yeah, that’s not going to happen which is why it is so important authors engage the reader from the get go. I am currently writing a book that I truly am in love with. I really feel like I have thought outside of the box and created a world that is mine alone. But, if I don’t nail the beginning, I may never get anyone to explore the world that lies deep within the pages. There is no tune that will prelude my words, no beat that will beckon someone’s attention and no melody that will drive the emotion. There are only words, words written by an author wanting to tell a story that someone will remember as good as they remember a favorite song.

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Interview With Indie Author Jozef Rothstein and Signed Book Giveaway

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Signed Book Giveaway and Interview With Author Jozef Rothstein

 UPDATE: This giveaway will be open until Tuesday August 28 th.  

 

On Sunday, August 5th, I had the pleasure of meeting Jozef Rothstein, author of As the Matzo Ball Turns at our local Barnes and Nobles. As we charged his table (yes, my sister-in-law and I bought five books) I knew immediately by his huge bright smile that he was going to be fun and interesting. Talking to Jozef was like chatting with an old friend. I had so many questions (maybe too many) and Jozef eagerly answered every one of them. His sense of humor shined through the entire conversation which I adored because as I told Jozef, I tend to bond with people immediately if our sense of humors match, which his and mine definitely did. I had to pull myself away from his table, because I didn’t want to sabotage his book signing, but it took every ounce of restraint not to run back every five minutes to chat. He was that much fun.

Jozef was totally cool in agreeing to answer some interview questions for my blog. Be sure to include a comment at the end of the interview because you will have the chance to win a signed copy of Jozef’s awesome book As the Matzo Ball Turns. One reader will be chosen at random. All you have to do is comment. I’d love for you to follow my blog or me on twitter @Yolaramunno but you don’t have to in order to win. If you don’t comment you can’t win.

As with all interviews on this blog, answers from authors don’t necessarily reflect my views regarding the industry.

Okay, let’s get to it.

Hi Jozef how are you?

Dandy. Now that’s a word you don’t hear much anymore!!! I am just dandy!

First, I’d like to thank you so much for stopping by Writing Like Crazy.

Thank you for having me Maribeth. It was so much fun rapping with you at the book signing I was chomping at the bit to do the interview!

 I like to start right from the beginning, if that’s okay with you. First, did you always want to become a writer or was your journey (living in Hollywood with stars in your eyes) what inspired your writing career?

Wow, that’s a loaded question!!!! I really have no idea. Hmmm. Let me think about it. How much room do I have? Okay well, I remember writing funny stories in my fifth grade creative writing class that the teacher would read aloud. (And then there was this time at band camp … ) I would pick one classmate per week to build a story around and put him/her on the spot. My teacher and my peers found them humorous, as long as they weren’t the subject of my ridicule that week. AND everybody looked forward to my holiday cards. They didn’t get me any after school kisses but I really enjoyed writing them.

Then came high school. I was a gangly teen who looked like a praying mantis. That has nothing to do with your inquiry but I thought I’d mention it anyway. I really got into sports for a while but I eventually wandered out to Hollywood where my writing career was born out of necessity.

I have always admired people who could pack up everything to go follow their dreams. Can you tell us a little bit about your choice to leave your small town in Pennsylvania to go to Hollywood?

I equate it to the first time I went skydiving. I am six feet five inches tall and as we climbed to five thousand feet, the altitude for my first jump, I was crammed into a tiny little Cessna with like seven other people. I was scared as hell but I was so boxed in for so long I couldn’t wait to jump out of that sardine can and stretch out a little.

How did that first year go?

Well … It depends on who you ask. First, a little background. I ended up taking a liking to the game of football but one crazy life story later I ended up taking a year off after college and then tried to get back in the game. I was acting as my own agent and I got so insanely obsessed with obtaining an NFL career I would call people like Mike Ditka and I don’t know, threaten to eat him and his children if he didn’t bring me into training camp. Believe it or not, this approach was somewhat successful and almost landed me on a couple of rosters. An NFL career just wasn’t in the cards so I exploded onto the Hollywood scene like a clown shot out of a circus cannon.

At first, I grabbed the attention of every big player in the business. But this quickly backfired and worked against me. After my first year in town, unbeknownst to me, I believe my aggressive approach, which had worked so well in football, landed me on every blacklist in Hollywood. It did, however, get me several recommendations for the crème de la crème of acting teachers who were an interesting case study in and of themselves. I spent five years immersing myself in the craft learning various techniques with the best coaches in the business. I worked so hard, I actually became quite good at it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

It’s the story of someone entering the dog eat dog world of Hollywood wearing milk bone underwear. The pitch line for it is “An aspiring actor’s ten year encounter with hit men, celebrities and old Jewish ladies.” To sum it up, it is the story of someone who arrives in Hollywood with a suitcase and announces to the world, “I want to be in movies!” This is the real story, not the E! True Hollywood story, of what 99.9% of people go through, for as many years as they can stand it, before they are sent back to where ever it is they came from with their shattered dreams folded up in their suitcases.

And like almost everyone in LA LA land the only way to earn a decent living while aspiring for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is to become an indentured servant, oops, I mean waiter. And since everybody and his brother Harry is trying to do the same thing, (If you throw a rock you hit two hundred of us), you are a very disposable commodity at best. I just so happened to pick a very notorious Jewish deli for my ten years as professional whipping boy where most of the hilarity and hijinks in this story occur. And, of course, that’s where the backdrop for the book is set.

How did you come up with the title for the book?

It started out as a joke because everyday at the deli there was so sort of heavy drama going on, much like a soap opera. In a deep announcer’s voice I would observe, “Today, on As the Matzo Ball Turns, John’s boyfriend threatens to leave him if he doesn’t stop performing at the local drag queen bar.” On my way out of Hollywood doing 120mph the title kept repeating itself in my head. With lots of time to think while driving across country with my two dogs, the rest of the story started punching its way out of me. In all my years as a writer I believe every great story starts with a great title. I believe the title has to excite you about your story and from there the rest just falls into place.

Readers get an immediate hint at what type of work you landed out in California by the books jacket. Clad as a beaver in Speedo trunks and Scooby Doo cape while surrounded by beautiful women dressed to the nines. Can you give us maybe a small snapshot of this moment?

It is the equivalent of stepping into a nice warm shower only to have it interrupted by ten federal agents in riot gear who mistakenly arrest you and drag you out into the middle of the street stark naked while the entire neighborhood watches on in horror. All the while your turtle is in the shell, if you know what I mean.

You and I connected on a couple of things. You wait tables in your spare time; I waited tables since I was thirteen years old so I can relate to the waiter/waitress stories. There is a part in the book where you had to wait on a very famous person on Christmas day (I won’t say who the celebrity is-we will make the readers curious ;)) who wasn’t very nice. Your description of standing in front of her asking if she would like a drink while she ignored you hit home for me because I myself have had those moments while waitressing, many times, but never by someone famous. Did you know at that moment that incident would end up in your book?

You mean before or after I imagined myself cutting her in half with a chain saw? I honestly had no idea at that point in time there would ever be a book, let alone a book written about those types of experiences. As a matter of fact, I simply wanted to move on with my career in entertainment and never re-visit them again. Back then, I would have never believed a Hollywood career would not happen for me. But when the light finally turned on after ten years of beating my head against a cement wall and other factors (that are listed in the book) sent me flying out of Los Angeles with a ball of flames shooting out from behind me that’s when the idea of looking back and having one last laugh became very appealing to me.

Okay, now on to some industry questions.

Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

It was like giving birth to a hippopotamus, but I truly believe when it’s your time it’s your time. I had been raging against the machine for quite some time so it only made sense that my publisher would be detached from the Hollywood establishment and the crony media conglomerates. After getting anywhere from 50-100 rejected query letters and exhausting my Hollywood insider connections I put a call out to an independent producer friend who knew a lot of people. This guy really liked my previous writings and I thought to myself what can it hurt? He was actually planning a dinner meeting with a good friend who was in town and whose mother is a successful publisher. A few weeks later they were reading my work and I was getting the green light. The rest is history.

Do you remember the moment you declared yourself a writer?

The day Universal Studios returned my call based on a pitch I left on someone’s answering machine for my first screenplay which was written entirely in pencil. I didn’t have a computer at the time so I had to have a friend who worked at MGM type it up for me so I could present a professional copy.

You are a semi self-published author is that correct?

Yes, even though I’ve bared some of the up-front costs, I had to have their stamp of approval on the material in order for them to publish it and the book had to be good enough for them to want to distribute it. Again, I absorbed most of the costs (which is very typical today for almost any first time author unless you are Paris Hilton writing your memoirs) but the upside is a bigger back end for me. I have an unbridled entrepreneurial spirit and a very clear and concise artistic voice. I refuse to have it compromised for any reason whatsoever and this situation allows me to have the best of both worlds. I couldn’t be happier.

Can you share with my readers how you went about getting your book out there and what resources you used?

At this stage of the game, I just used my instincts and the relationships I had built over the years. I am definitely a one man army when it comes to tireless self-promotion and I believe in my work so I am also like a used car salesman gone wild. There are days when I wish I had an off button but overall I am very proud of the book which makes me want to get it out to people even more. If I have to spray paint the title on the side of my car I will, but I will not stop until As the Matzo Ball Turns reaches the New York Times Best Seller List.

Before you decided to take this route, did you try the traditional methods of querying agents?

Yes, but quite honestly, I knew from my previous encounters with these brain dead drones that they would never in a million years accept my work. It doesn’t fit into one of their neat little boxes and it also exposes the very same industry that sends their kids to the finest schools and gets them invited to all the trendy parties. Well, I am kicking in the door and saying, “Here’s Johnny.”

*I’d like to clarify if any agents are reading my blog, that Jozef’s comments are not my own. I don’t think of agents, editors or publishers as brain dead drones*

If so, how many queries did you send before deciding to do your own thing?

Again, even though I sent out 50-100 queries I knew in my heart of hearts I had to take the grassroots approach but I had no idea how I was going to accomplish it. There is no doubt in my mind that this publishing and distribution set up is the right thing for me because I have never had things fall into place so naturally in my entire life.

Do you have more books in the works?

If I started writing them today I wouldn’t finish them all in this lifetime. But, right now, with my work schedule and the non-stop promotion of this book, I have absolutely zero time to write. I already thought out a sequel to As the Matzo Ball Turns and have another more serious book to scribble down after that. But, I would honestly like to take a stab at making another movie. I worked on one film while I was in LA and learned so much from it I just have to get my hands on another one. And I have a great screenplay to boot.

Okay, I know your head is probably spinning from all of these grueling questions but I like to end my interviews with some fire questions. You ready?

Yikes. Go for it!

*Do you have a thinking spot?

On the john or on the floor while petting my dog, Charlie, who is also a character in the book. He made one public appearance for a book signing and it will most likely be his last. I left him out of my site for just one minute and he scared the death out of two middle aged men entering the store. He was dressed in bow tie but acted more like he was wearing a pin striped suit.

*What is your writing ritual?

Playing solitaire before and after each writing session. I know I just drew ire from the entire writing profession for falling into the lonely writer stereotype but what can I say it relaxes me. And what writer isn’t a little bit of a loner?

*Do you keep Journals?

I scribble down notes. My desk looks like that of a mad scientist. I call it organized chaos.

*What is the strangest thing you ever wrote an idea on because you didn’t have paper available? (I once wrote an idea on a matchbook)

Hahaha. I like yours. For me, it would have to be a bible.

What are you reading right now?

Besides all of these silly questions, I am reading Redemption 4th edition. Long story. It’s not so much for enjoyment as it is personal knowledge. But the truth of the matter is, with this latest endeavor I barely ever get time to read for pleasure. I squeeze it in when I can.

*Do you have a favorite author?

I am very into the freedom and truth movement so two people come to mind. Both are people I loosely know. Sheriff Richard Mack and G. Edward Griffin are incredibly insightful, courageous and intelligent. If you care about the state of the world and value freedom and prosperity you should read their works. It is your duty!

*What is your favorite word?

Duty. Only because the comedic side of my brain just doesn’t want to turn off right now.

Okay, one last thing I promise. Can you tell my readers where they can purchase your book?

I thought you would never ask! Well, if you live in either the Wilkes-Barre or Allentown area you can walk into the Barnes and Noble store either in the Wyoming Valley Mall or Whitehall Mall and snag one right off of their shelves. Other than those two locations (at this point in time anyway) you can order it from a store clerk at any Barnes and Noble store across the country and just about any other book store nationwide. But being that it is the 21st Century, you can also order it through amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com or by simply going to my blog at www.asthematzoballturns.com . Links are provided on the blog for the other online sellers as well and the book is also available for download.

Jozef, I wish you nothing but tons of success. You are an awesome, funny writer and I hope we stay in touch.

Thank you very much Maribeth. I hope so too.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for Jozef. Anyone who comments will be entered in a random drawing to receive a free signed copy of his book As the Matzo Ball Turn

Jozef, please let my readers know where they can find you. Your blog, twitter, facebook, any social networks.

My blog is www.asthematzoballturns.com  , you can friend me, Jozef Rothstein on Face book and my email is jozefrothstein@yahoo.com . Thanks for your interest and happy reading!!!!!

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