Friday, December 14, 2007

Throw A Rock And Hit A Writer...

One of the most startling things tourists from the US find in the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv streets while they take a stroll, are the incredible amount of street cats that populate the cities. The city managers have over the course of the years, attempted to bring this blight under control coupled with the ASPCA, but cats are still all over. When my mother, years and years ago used to visit here, she would love to say, "If you throw a rock in Jerusalem, chances are you will either hit a lawyer or a cat." And certainly it is true there are more lawyers here then one knows what to do with, but I think most of us would kind of hope the arc of the rock would miss the cat and let us say, graze the lawyer. A gentle nudge as it were.

Well, things change. The world moves on. Technology has taken over our lives. And so today, the saying should be changed just a wee bit. "If you throw a rock in Jerusalem, chances are you will either hit a writer or a cat."

Everyone I meet these days is a "writer" or an "author". I do not say this with any embedded cynicism by the way. I think self-expression is a very good thing. But recently while I perused the pathways of the Internet, I have come to amend that statement once again.

"If you throw a rock on the Internet, 99% of the time you will hit someone claiming to be a writer. The other 1% of the time your rock will land in a no-man's land."

Recently with a bit of tongue in cheek I talked about the new Internet craze, Facebook. (The Book Will Not Make You Succeed - You Make The Book Succeed). And in truth Facebook is somewhat fascinating, in that gadzillions of people secretly found a way to waste their time by throwing kisses, hugs, booze, cats, balloons, and every object you can possibly think of at each other. They flirt, they take virtual showers together, they talk and they babble. It truly is a fascinating aspect of human culture in our day and age. And every time they do something you get hit with an email!

On Facebook there are groups. Much like the "old technology" of Yahoo groups and Google groups. Anyone, as far as I can tell, can start a group, about any subject under the sun. So of course one should not be surprised that there are quite a few "writing" groups on Facebook as well. Some have already garnered a few thousand members. And what is actually interesting, is that there is no snipping, no foolishness and certainly none of the Absolute idiocy one finds on other writer Absolute writer forum boards these days. Isn't it amazing that when people from all over the world get together, in a decent forum, they can actually deal with the topics at hand?

But back to the point. So these groups allow many of the writers to emerge from the closet as it were. Some of course, make the major boo-boo of posting their work on Facebook itself. Others publish it in their blogs.

But the major lesson is this:

Everyone is becoming an author these days!

To be sure I myself got into trouble when I joined a group whose Administrator had begun it to give some more PR to her own business. I did not realize this at first, however, it is perfectly legitimate to do such things. So when this person started posting about the great possibilities of self-publishing, I posted back a reply not in favor of it. Well I got smacked down! OMG! On Facebook yet! I still cannot figure out if the person is a PR company, or offering her services to be a go-between. One of those people who promises to get you an agent. Is this individual legitimate or just a shell for a scam?

But you know what? Everyone is an author. And no matter how many times we write about scams and such, grown people will often do childish things. Simple as all that. And they are often parted from their hard-earned money.

Back to the point... yet again!

Sites like Facebook (Gather as well) are slowly making inroads into our way of acting, reacting and thinking. It is a very swift exchange of information, and there is certainly an ever-increasing "information overload" going on. The trouble is no one person can cover it all. Trends come and go, but the art of writing certainly is loved and cherished still, if one is to judge by the numbers.

I assume, and this may be a faulty assumption, most of the writing is just for fun though many have professional aspirations. Still if one wants to get a handle on things that interest people today, and write about it, I can think of worse endeavors than to spend a few days looking at Facebook and Gather and studying the actions and reactions of people. You are not going to get famous on Facebook. It wont raise your Google ranking for your name. But it will allow you a peek into the changing world of things.

So when you do your research, go to Gather and Facebook and throw a rock. Make it a light one and don't hurt anyone. But chances are you are going to hit a writer or a would be author. Chances are as well, you will end up wasting an enormous amount of time. But it is better than watching and episode of Law and Order or CSI for the fifth time! And besides, on Facebook if you do publish your latest chapter, you can at least get all your listed friends to read it! Just throw them a hug and a kiss and a balloon!

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Manless In Montclair - The Genre Of Memoirs

It is rare that I will do a book review here at Cobwebs Of The Mind. And in truth the following book review for Manless in Montclair: How a Happily Married Woman Became a Widow Looking for Love in the Wilds of Suburbia is not so much due to the nature of the book but the story behind it. Let me be a bit clearer. Not the story in the book itself, which is basically a fictionalized account of the true story of Author, Amy Holman Edelman. It is due to the way one woman was able to take her own life experience and parlay that into a book which has garnered a great deal of interest.

In 2001, Amy Edelman went out one day, she returned to her home to find out she had become a widow with her husband's sudden death. At that point Amy did not give up on life, which is something very tempting to do. After a few years Amy decided it was time to try and find a relatinship which would lead to marriage. The story of this quest is documented in Manless in Montclair.

What I want to bring to the attention of readers of Cobwebs Of The Mind is the ingenuity and perhaps even gumption of how Amy turned an event into her life into a book, which is actually a memoir but a fictionalized one. The message here is there are stories everywhere, if you are willing to let the world read about your most intimate thoughts. The genre of memoir is usually reserved for the famous and infamous. However, even in this genre, one can turn around and find that specific niche and idea which will enter the market in a positive way. And while I certainly do not wish upon anyone the events which took place in Amy Edelman's life, it is an education for writers who are sifting through ideas and possibilities on what to write and how to write it.

It is true though one must be careful in this genre. You should have a story and a message. Few people want to read a fictionalized account of how wise your grandparents were. To be incredibly crass but completely realistic, tragedy sells, but it has to be written in a way which interests many people, and something the public at large can relate to. And again it is worth repeating, once you decide to go down this path, you must be willing to lay your soul bare and express its pain as well as the joy. If you cannot do this, memoir writing is just not for you.

The following is a review up at Amazon on the book by Jamie Driggers.

When Isabel went out to get her teeth whitened, she didn't know that she would return to a life she couldn't recognize. Husbands shouldn't die unexpectedly, leaving their happily married wives as widows. And young daughters shouldn't request a new daddy for Chanukah. Where is a suburban woman supposed to find love when she thought she was out of the dating pool for good?

Manless in Montclair is a fictionalized account of Amy Holman Edelman's own journey. Sudden widowhood was bad enough, but finding a new daddy for her girls through 21st Century dating had its own challenges. When internet dating, dating services and speed dating didn't work, she tried an email blast offering a free trip to the person who found her next husband.

In a journey back and forth through time, from dating her husband, through their relationship to his sudden death, we get to know what makes Isabel tick. She isn't just another woman desperate for a man; she is a mother desperate to honor her daughter's wishes. You have to laugh at her antics while also feeling sorry for her situation.

I admit that the time travel in the beginning of the book was disconcerting. It took a while before I felt relatively confident about what was going on. It also felt like we spent most of the book in about two weeks worth of time and then went into hyper speed because of the method. Also, East Coasters will probably better relate with this book than Midwesterners as many topics were rather foreign to me (I've been in the burbs my whole life). But overall, it did work, so give her a chance and stay with her.

Manless in Montclair is a witty and heartbreaking story of coping with sudden change.
You can also read an interesting though short interview with the author up at Yahoo News. However this book does on the market, one can only wish Amy Holman Edelman only joy and happiness from now on. And may she and all of you out there who celebrate it have a wonderful Hanukkah - full of light and love and chasing away the darkness.

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind