01. November 2015 · Comments Off on October news fit to print · Categories: Among the Righteous News, Math Shiva News, Olio

I had a fun time at the Wisconsin Book Festival. People were gracious and friendly, plus I got a nostalgic taste of Babcock Hall ice cream (and a drink at still-the-same Nick’s). I found out that The Mathematician’s Shiva will be aired on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Chapter A Day over a three week period late in 2016; my mother would be ecstatic. I continue to make tiny changes in my next novel, Among the Righteous, which I’ll be giving to friends and family in early November and to my agent sometime around Thanksgiving. I hope he doesn’t think the new book is a turkey, haha. I’m very proud of this book.

01. October 2015 · Comments Off on September news fit to print · Categories: Among the Righteous News, Olio

This month I finished a decent draft of my next novel. It’s still not quite ready to send off for comments, but I’m getting there. It should be ready to show to a few people – an exciting and nervous time for me – in mid-October. I highly value comments from my early readers and agent. I make many changes after I get their feedback. There is no doubt that my work is greatly improved when I listen carefully to what these people have to say and incorporate many of their suggestions. It’s the only way I can turn a decent book into a good one. If there are five rules of writing, one of them has to be, “Find a group of early readers and take their criticisms seriously.” I’m grateful that I have insightful readers who can look at my writing and be completely honest about what works and what doesn’t.

I attended a local authors appreciation event at my town’s public library. In October, I’ll be traveling to Madison, WI to give a talk at UW-Madison. In November, I’ll be giving readings in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC as well as doing a few local events at bookstores and with book clubs.

03. September 2015 · Comments Off on August news fit to print · Categories: Math Shiva News, Olio

I spent three months pretty much saying no to all requests for public speaking so that I could make headway on my next novel. That turned out to be a great idea. At August’s end I was 95% done with a decent draft. Toward the end of the month, I did make a few local appearances at book clubs. It’s always good to hear what avid readers say about books, especially when they’re not talking about mine! I learn a lot. I did some Skype sessions with out-of-town book clubs as well and planned a few fall trips to talk about both literary fiction and TMS.

TMS is now one year old. It’s been a happy and healthy baby that has given me lots of joy. It was named a finalist for Hadassah Magazine’s Ribalow Prize and because of TMS, I’m on the shortlist for the Anne and Robert Cowan Writer’s Award. Most of my days are spent obsessing about the novel I’m currently working on. I am very happy with how it’s turning out and am crossing my fingers that it will be sold to a publisher in a few months.

03. August 2015 · Comments Off on July news fit to print · Categories: Math Shiva News, Olio

I keep working on my next novel, which has the working title Among the Righteous, and am on track to have a version ready for partial viewing (for family and maybe even a friend or two) in October. For me novel writing isn’t an angst-filled thing. It’s serious work that is often emotionally satisfying and it’s something I do at a rate of about 1000 words a day.

I received my comp copies of the commercial audiobook of The Mathematician’s Shiva and it was a pleasant surprise to hear the words being read aloud by trained actors. I hope people enjoy listening to the CD or MP3 on their car trips to wherever. I’ll come out of my (productive) isolation chamber a bit at the end of August, when I’ll be talking to some book groups locally and via FaceTime about TMS. I’ll be at the Palo Alto Library in September and I’ll do some traveling related to TMS in October, November and maybe December. It looks like I’ll be in Wisconsin, Seattle, Vancouver, and New York City and I’ll post dates in a couple of weeks. TMS was named an Indie Next Summer Reading Group pick by the American Booksellers Association, which makes me very happy. It’s also a finalist for an award that, if she were still around, my mom would be crossing her fingers about big time.

30. June 2015 · Comments Off on June news fit to print · Categories: Math Shiva News, Olio

IMG_1055This month I’ve been focused on making progress on my next novel, and slowly but surely I’m getting there. I hope to have a version good enough to start showing people in October. I haven’t been a complete hermit, though. Last month, I went to Jerusalem to do some research for this new book (it’s a comedy that takes place in the US, Poland, and Jerusalem and focuses on a community of Righteous Gentiles who lived in Israel in the 1990s). I’ve been doing phone sessions and Skype sessions with book clubs who are reading TMS. I went to the American Library Association’s annual meeting, where I gave a talk (see right) and signed a couple hundred copies of TMS. Thank you, librarians, for laughing at my jokes and giving my wife a round of applause (she deserved it). Our local paper, the Palo Alto Weekly, printed a very sweet article about TMS and me.  I’ve been helping the audio book narrators of TMS with pronunciations of all those foreign words and math terms. The commercial audio version will be available through Tantor Media in July. The Library of Congress version for the sight impaired will be available in the fall (I’m guessing). The Mathematician’s Shiva won its final (I think) award this month, an Outstanding Achievement Award (one of 10 books honored) from the Wisconsin Library Association. Comic novels usually don’t get honors of any sort. They are also hard to get published. I feel like I’ve won the book lottery in a lot of ways.

12. November 2014 · Comments Off on New and Newish Movies I’ve Liked This Year · Categories: Olio

Most of the Oscar winners for 2014 will be showing for the first time over the next month or so (and I hope to see several of them), but here are the recent movies I’ve watched this year so far and liked.

The Great Beauty
Hava Nagila, The Movie
In A World
Fruitvale Station
(Untitled), yes that’s really its title
Paul Williams Is Alive
12 Years A Slave
Inside Llewyn Davis
Cutie And The Boxer
Le Week-end
In Bruges
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me
Like Father, Like Son
Find Me Guilty
Ernest And Celestine
Beware of Mr. Baker

The Stuey for Best Drama goes to The Great Beauty (best movie I’ve seen in years). The Stuey for Best Comedy goes to In A World. Best Documentary Stuey goes to Blackfish. Best Foreign Film Stuey goes to Ida (and yeah, I know The Great Beauty is a foreign film, too). Best American Drama Stuey goes to Boyhood. Best Animated Movie, Ernest And Celestine. Best Actor, Toni Servillo. Best Actress, Lindsay Duncan. All results tabulated by Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

01. August 2014 · Comments Off on Where I’m going next winter vacation · Categories: Drawings, Olio


20. June 2014 · Comments Off on Baseball humor · Categories: Olio


12. May 2014 · Comments Off on What happens in heaven · Categories: Olio

When you get a letter for jury duty it’s from Cannes, not from the county courthouse. Given the contents of my recent jury duty letter, I haven’t made it to heaven yet.

19. December 2013 · Comments Off on New (and newish) movies I liked this year · Categories: Olio

In alphabetical order:

The Book Thief
The Butler
Dallas Buyers Club
56 Up
Fill the Void
The Gatekeepers
The Kings of Summer
The Sapphires
Searching for Sugar Man
The Sessions
Silver Linings Playbook
Stories We Tell
This is Not a Film
20 Feet From Stardom
Up the Yangtze
The Way Way Back
We Live in Public
What Maisie Knew

The Stuey for best drama goes to What Maisie Knew. Best comedy goes to The Way Way Back. Best documentary goes to The Gatekeepers. All results tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers.