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Barbara Becker Holstein Talks About Life in the First Draft of Next Year in Jerusalem Part I and II.

Next Year in Jerusalem

Next Year in Jerusalem

Writing the first draft of Next Year in Jerusalem! Romance, Mystery & Spiritual Awakenings, Part I and II, Around Every Corner, Mystery & Romance in the Holy Land was a most amazing experience.  It all started over lunch with a dear friend.  As we bemoaned the loss of a special spiritual teacher in our lives we began to imagine a movie around a similar woman’s disappearance.  Before we knew it, I was writing a movie plot on paper napkins that involved two characters, much like ourselves, except younger and open to amazing adventures.

Those notes led to the first draft of the book, which I began to write on the computer late at night.  At first I really hated the two main characters.  Neither had enough life or depth to them once I left the napkins behind.  That was resolved when I got some mentoring.  I learned about creating a ‘back story’ even if all doesn’t appear in the book and also how to work from what I knew, but yet make it fiction.

The plot and characters then moved along a great neck speed.  Over the next six months I wrote a few pages at a time a few times a week.   Six months later I had over 300 pages and realized that the plot was so dramatic as to qualify to be a cliff-hanger series.  Realizing I had a series, rather than a book, I went back to clean up what would be the first three books of the series.

The first draft really flowed from me.  The re-writes also did.  What was a bit of torture was the editing.  That was tedious and required professional help.  I probably spend at least 3 months just cleaning.  But the basic trilogy never changed.  Natalie and Maggie had determined what I would be saying and sharing about each of them.  And the mystery woman, also, Chaya Sarah, was  also able to let me know how the mysteries around her would develop.  What was the real shock for me was how Jack, Natalie’s old boyfriend, (Natalie is married) would pursue Natalie.  Also, I was unprepared for all the romance that would happen to Maggie, who is divorced.

However, I just knew the characters had a better spin on their lives than I did, so I went with it.  I hope you will enjoy reading Part 1 of Next Year in Jerusalem!

Next Year in Jerusalem Book Excerpt

Natalie didn’t tell David (her husband)about her other dream, the one about Jack, the Jewish fellow from Chicago who’d been around to save her from despair after she decided she wasn’t moving to Iraq. A diamond salesman, Jack now lived in London and traveled back and forth to Israel all the time.

Natalie prided herself on staying in touch with lots of people from her past. Jack was one of them. Occasionally they e-mailed and he’d friended her on Facebook two years ago. Although they hadn’t written recently, if he read her Facebook page he would know she was going to Jerusalem. What if he tried to see her? What if there was still an attraction? Would she tell David? Would he care? Would she act out?

Her life with David was so good and stable and predictable. And boring!

Did I just say boring?

No, she must have meant solid. Or did she mean solid?

Oh, I’m a wreck. I’m miserable and I can’t sleep, she continued to obsess. What about that cute secretary at the college? The one who has a sparkle in her eye whenever she talks to David? How old is she? Forty-two? Divorced and sexy. How would I know if something’s going on there?

I’m going crazy lying here, she began again. Where’s the Xanax? Already packed. Oh, that was dumb.

Next Year in Jerusalem: Around Every Corner, Mystery & Romance in the Holy Land: Part Two

Book Excerpt

Chapter Six,  

As the driver pulled away, Natalie realized how poorly lit the street was. Now, well past dusk, the one street light way down the block did nothing to brighten the end where she stood. The building itself had one little light above the doorway. As she walked along the sidewalk to the front door, she shivered suddenly and wondered why in the world she’d sent away her protection?

She rang the bell. Immediately a sweet young woman, probably no more than twenty-nine or thirty, head kerchief neatly in place, answered the door. Natalie felt better. Now to introduce herself and get started. Her heart pounded, but from excitement, not fear.

“Can I help you?”

“Chaya Sarah made an appointment for me to come here tonight after sundown.”

“Oh, sorry, phones no working,” the girl said in broken English. “No messages this week.”

Natalie felt her heart begin to pound harder. Now she was upset. Another mix-up, another confusion where she would never know if Chaya Sarah had tried to call!

“Oh, well, I’m here to go into the mikvah.* I understand I can go in as a bride, even though I’ve been married many years. It is my first time. I was told a matron would show me what to do and give me a prayer to say.”

“First time? No problem. Come in. I will show you where to go. Cost ninety shekels. Fill out form.”

Natalie handed over the money, and signed the visitor sheet (a blank piece of notepaper with the date at the top). She .was not at all sure the young woman understood most of what she said. Only later did she wonder why she so freely signed a blank piece of paper with her name and full home address.

“Come this way.” The young woman led Natalie past a small waiting room with pleasant pink walls and a soft gray marble floor. There were no pictures, no signs and no literature with the facility’s name. The place was stark, but certainly clean and feminine in its color scheme. It was eerily quiet. Natalie wished she had asked the taxi driver to wait.

The young woman spoke. “Please, you go here,” she said as she opened the door of a large, attractive bathroom with many mirrors. “Robe in there,” she explained as she pointed to a small closet. “After shower, go down hall to mikvah.”

“Will you be coming in to help me? Natalie practically begged. “Are there prayers to say?”

“See, mikvah down there. You open and go in. No one bother you.”

Obviously, they hadn’t communicated clearly. “Any prayers to say?” Natalie tried one more time.

The young woman looked perplexed. “Mrs. Levy not here, I alone.”  It hadn’t seemed to work, and eventually Natalie realized that not only was the woman’s English poor, but apparently Mrs. Levy was the wisdom keeper of everything, including the prayers. Finally, she surmised that she’d have to make the most of her experience. So much for that; she’d just have to carry on by herself. There was no going back now.

The woman walked back to the desk in the waiting room and sat down. Apparently, it was all now in Natalie’s hands.

She went into the bathroom and started to undress. Determined to make the most of this situation, she let the environment begin to take over. This was going to be fun. Yes, she would prepare for the mikvah as if she was a Queen. Maybe she’d been the Queen of Sheba in another life? She laughed to herself, and then the image of being a very special bride on her wedding night came to her. It was a lovely image.

Somehow the environment elicited from her vague yet powerful feelings. She felt so female, part of a special group, a sisterhood of women who had gone from babyhood to elder years … one by one in an endless chain of family life, belonging to the same tribe. She saw her body today, naked in the mirrors, and once more felt moved to tears. She envisioned those before her–her grandmothers and her mother, and then saw her daughter after her, and imagined granddaughters in the future. She felt their energy, their hopes, dreams and prayers along with hers in the highly charged feminine bathroom.

She felt good although she was crying at the same time. The golden chain of women in her mind’s eye engaged in no gossip, put-downs, criticisms or comparisons. It was as if each woman had been branded with a primitive imprint that identified them as belonging to the same clan. No need for words. Just timeless knowledge, maybe first known by Eve in the Garden of Eden and passed down over hundreds of generations, a knowledge of mannerisms and hopes and dreams that transcended time. And now she stood right here in the midst of it, finally able to enjoy the same rights as other Jewish women throughout history.

Natalie showered again with a vengeance. She was determined to be as clean as she could be for the purifying waters. With no one to guide her, she washed her hair, took off her make-up, and trimmed her nails with the small scissor that lay on the vanity. She looked at the three red strings on her wrist. Should she leave them? It didn’t seem right, since she knew she was to be completely  unadorned. Without another thought she cut them off with the scissor.

She was ready now. She took a fluffy robe from the closet, and a pair of paper slippers, the kind they give you when you’re in the hospital. She also grabbed a towel from the closet shelf and proceeded down the hall.

The building was totally silent. When she looked back she didn’t even see the young woman in the waiting room any more. She could see from the small window in the hallway that it was pitch dark outside. The only noise was that of a siren somewhere, and the sound of an occasional car passing by.

She opened the door to the mikvah. The room was the size of a small bedroom with white tile walls, and most of it was taken up by what looked like a very small swimming pool. She’d feared the water would be cold, but as she stepped down a small staircase into the water, she was surprised as the pleasant warmth rushed up to her. At chest level the water seemed so much smoother and silkier than regular water. She sank down further, letting her hands float at her sides as the water welcomed her. A profound feeling of safety and calmness enveloped her. Were there guardian angels in here with her? It felt that way, but she wasn’t scared. She felt protected and loved and, in turn, felt her heart opening up toward David.

Making her own prayer she said aloud softly, “Dear G-d, may David and I be blessed with the harmony that comes from being soul mates. And may I have the strength not to be influenced by other forces not in my best interests.”

That covered it. She wasn’t going to credit Jack by even saying his name aloud in these sacred waters.

She dunked herself in the waters three times, really fast. She had promised herself, but that part was hard. She grasped her towel and wiped her eyes and ears. She had almost drowned on Cape Cod once as a child, but a big strong man had pulled her out. Since then, she could never stand to go underwater. But this time it was worth it. This was for their marriage and for herself.

She returned to her changing room where she took another shower, this time a quick one, and got dressed. When she went back to the waiting room no one was there. In fact the young woman never reappeared even when Natalie called out….

 

*mikvah: A specified pure body of water that is used for total immersion, often associated with bringing a heightened level of sacredness to the marriage bed.

About Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, internationally known positive psychologist, inspires thousands with her ENCHANTED SELF®. Around the world people benefit from her techniques to enhance well-being, and to live up to their potential. Known for her ability to make complex psychological concepts easy to understand and to implement, she has now turned her talents to novel writing.  “A great fiction read is a great escape, and yet, it is more! It is the gateway to new ways of thinking and behaving.”

Dr. Holstein received her Doctorate in Education from Boston University and her BA degree from Barnard College. Dr. Holstein has been a school psychologist and taught first and second grades. She is in private practice with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein, in Long Branch, New Jersey. Find her at www.enchantedself.com

and www.next-year-in-jerusalem.com.
Her previous books include:

  • THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy
  • Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!
  • The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)
  • Seven Gateways to Happiness: Freeing Your Enchanted Self.

 

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Next Year in Jerusalem Virtual Book Tour

barbaraAbout Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

 

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, internationally known positive psychologist, inspires thousands with her ENCHANTED SELF®. Around the world people benefit from her techniques to enhance well-being, and to live up to their potential. Known for her ability to make complex psychological concepts easy to understand and to implement, she has now turned her talents to novel writing.  “A great fiction read is a great escape, and yet, it is more! It is the gateway to new ways of thinking and behaving.”

Dr. Holstein received her Doctorate in Education from Boston University and her BA degree from Barnard College. Dr. Holstein has been a school psychologist and taught first and second grades. She is in private practice with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein, in Long Branch, New Jersey. Find her at www.enchantedself.com

 

and www.next-year-in-jerusalem.com.

 

Purchase Next Year in Jerusalem at Amazon

 

Watch the Book Trailer Here

Her previous books include:

  • THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy
  • Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!
  • The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)
  • Seven Gateways to Happiness: Freeing Your Enchanted Self.

 

About Next Year in Jerusalem

Holstein Next YearYou may be wondering why I chose the title Next Year in Jerusalem! for my new novel.  Why not Forbidden Romance or Romantic Travel or Spiritual Awakenings or Lust, Memories and Old Friends on Facebook?  After all Natalie and Maggie are two women, both caught up in issues that many of us face: a somewhat dull but faithful husband; a bad marriage leading finally to a divorce; a desire for adventure; unsatisfied spiritual longings.  They have a great friendship with each other, something research keeps confirming, keeps us young and emotionally happy, but life is far from easy for either women.

So again, why would I focus on a strange title that comes out of a book written thousands of years ago?

Here is one of the reasons.  Next Year in Jerusalem! is actually a phrase that shows up at the end of the Haggadah.  Those of you who are not Jewish may wonder what that is.  The Haggadah is a book that the Jews have used for thousands of years to celebrate and relive the Passover experience.  Many people know that the central theme of the story is how the Jews, who were slaves in Egypt, were finally able to escape and began their long journey of 40 years to get to the promised Land, which was Israel.  However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that this theme is universal and can be taken metaphorically for all of us.  That is why when the Haggadah ends with the fourth glass of wine being drunk, and the words, Next Year in Jerusalem! the phrase becomes so significant.

 

 

Next Year in Jerusalem Book Excerpt

Natalie didn’t tell David (her husband)about her other dream, the one about Jack, the Jewish fellow from Chicago who’d been around to save her from despair after she decided she wasn’t moving to Iraq. A diamond salesman, Jack now lived in London and traveled back and forth to Israel all the time.

Natalie prided herself on staying in touch with lots of people from her past. Jack was one of them. Occasionally they e-mailed and he’d friended her on Facebook two years ago. Although they hadn’t written recently, if he read her Facebook page he would know she was going to Jerusalem. What if he tried to see her? What if there was still an attraction? Would she tell David? Would he care? Would she act out?

Her life with David was so good and stable and predictable. And boring!

Did I just say boring?

No, she must have meant solid. Or did she mean solid?

Oh, I’m a wreck. I’m miserable and I can’t sleep, shecontinued to obsess. What about that cute secretary at the college? The one who has a sparkle in her eye whenever she talks to David? How old is she? Forty-two? Divorced and sexy. How would I know if something’s going on there?

I’m going crazy lying here, she began again. Where’s the Xanax? Already packed. Oh, that was dumb.

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How to Light Up the Heart of a Three-Year-Old Boy by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

 Holiday Memories is a month long series of heartwarming holiday stories from authors all over the world.  We at As the Pages Turn hope you will enjoy and have a happy holiday full of good and happy memories!

 

How to Light Up the Heart of a Three-Year-Old Boy

 by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Parents and grandparents always wonder what will most delight their kids and grandkids.  What should they get them for Birthdays?  For the Holidays?  Should we buy what delighted us as children?  Should we really cater to their Santa or Chanukah lists?  Should we go with what is ‘in’ this year? 

These are important questions and all I can say, is listen to the kid even if it seems strange!  We did when our grandson was three.  We knew he loved to help his mother vacuum.  We had noticed that many times when we visited.  But it still surprised us when he asked for a vacuum.  A vacuum?  Who ever would want one?  I would love to give mine up if someone else would just magically appear and vacuum.  Why would a tiny kid want one?  Wouldn’t he rather have some trucks or a train set?  “No.”

All he kept asking for was a vacuum.  Did toy stores even have vacuum’s for kids? 

We decided we had no choice.  Off we went to look.  And indeed we found a vacuum that looked just like his mom’s except it was half the size. We were amazed.  It was a little pricey, but hey, he is our grandson! 

So we bought it and wrapped the box and appeared on Chanukah.  He didn’t have a clue what we were bringing. 

After lighting the candles and singing, we brought out the presents.  There were a few other presents first and of course some for his baby sister who was happy to just rip off the paper.  Finally the big box was brought out by his parents and handed to him.  I will never forget his face when he ripped off the paper and saw a picture of a stand-up vacuum on the box.  There was such joy in his eyes and his grin was as wide as could be.  He looked at us with love and recognition that said that even as a three-year-old, he realized that sometimes only grandparents, not parents can really get it right. Then the magical second passed and he ripped open the box. 

Soon the vacuum was plugged in and he was busy.  Off in a dream world of cleaning and pushing and doing what only a kid could experience.  We were so happy that we had hit it right.  We kept looking at him and loving every second of his eager pretend cleaning, even though he no longer had eyes for us. He was sweet though and did turn and look at us and smile every once in awhile.  Even the noise didn’t bother us-because of course, no good mechanical toy, is without its sound effects! 

That was a great Chanakah!

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.  

She is the author of The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! and There Comes A Time In Every Woman’s Life for DELIGHT.   

Her newest book, The Truth, I’m Ten, I’m Smart and I Know Everything! is another first in positive psychology. Written by a ten year old girl as a diary, Dr. Barbara has been able to imbed lots of positive truths that we all need to remember and live by, regardless of our age.  

The girl’s edition, titled: The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) debuted February 2008 in bookstores nationwide. You can get your copy now at www.enchantedself.com.

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