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Keeping Track

Housework, Audiobooks, and Juliet Stevenson

I am a huge fan of audiobooks. Partly because I love being read to. I love the human voice. I read my own writing outloud during the many stages of rewriting. I loved reading to my children when they were younger. I think the music of spoken words is magical.

But the other reason I love audio books is because I absolutely hate housework. I feel a rage and resentment whenever I have to do it. To soften my mood, to make the boring repetitive distasteful tasks bearable, even enjoyable, I listen to a book. With an audiobook I can enjoy myself while folding laundry, dusting, washing dishes.  Audiobooks are a miracle.

Over the years I have found my favorite readers. These are the people I will chose before the book. If I see they are reading a book I will order it. And my favorite is Juliet Stevenson. Her reading of George Eliot's Middlemarch got me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. My partner had been half-paralyzed by a stroke. Many days a week after work, I drove several hours to see him in the rehab center where is was learning to walk and talk again. As if our tragedy wasn't enough, the rehab center was full of motorcycle victims. Young men, mostly, who would never fully recover. My partner would tell me the stories with his broken stumbling language. I would sit in my car after each visit and weep for a few minutes and then put on Middlemarch for the drive home.

George Eliot's masterpiece runs over 35 hours and has a huge cast of characters and sub plots. Juliet Stevenson was able to make each voice distinctive. I could follow the plot and the savor Eliot's brilliant writing. It was magnificent. I never would have understood or appreciated Middlemarch without Stevenson reading it to me.

Imagine my gob smacked joy when I learned that Juliet Stevenson had agreed to read my book. I couldn't believe it. I had been her fan for years but now I have become a complete fan girl. This unexpected honor has been yet another gift that writing  The Nine has brought me.

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Visiting Les Camp des Milles

There it is: an ugly red brick heap of a building standing alone on a flat open plain, a desolate wind-swept landscape, surrounded by train tracks and little else. In this building between 1939 and 1942, more than 10,000 people were imprisoned in terrible conditions. Most of the prisoners were not French nationals; they were refugees in France from totalitarian and fascist regimes. They came to seek refuge in the land of “les droits de l’homme” from Spain and Russia, and from pogroms in Eastern Europe. And then the Germans invaded. They were Jews, and Gypsies, and artists, and famous scientists. In 1942, 2000 people were deported directly from here to Auschwitz where they were murdered.  Read More 

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Got an agent

I am no stranger to rejection. I’ve had high hopes and seen them dashed. This last novel, I wrote to make myself laugh. Being so serious and “literary” was really not working out for me. I figured I would not get myself too worked up about publishing it. I set a goal for myself. I would find twenty agents to submit to. I would work my way down the list. If I got to the end of the list with no takers, then I would self-publish.  Read More 

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The Pitch

I am in the final (I think) phases of writing my novel, My Stray Guru. I am not sure how long I have been working on it. But I like to tell people that I am a writer and a failed novelist. This will be my fourth novel manuscript. Each one takes about 5- 10 years to write. I have come very close to getting one of them published. I have been hopeful and despondent. I have felt scared and brave. I have been angry and found laughter the best cure to existential despair.  Read More 

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