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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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Interview with “Hoodoo Sea” author Rolf Hitzer

Rolf Hitzer was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1959 and raised by his parents, Erna and Julius Hitzer.

Rolf attended Princess Margaret Elementary School, John Pritchard Junior High and Graduated from Kildonan East Regional Secondary School where he had majored in Culinary Arts.

Rolf is married to his wife Irma since 1997. Together they have a wonderful blended family with Rita and Clark Bodoano and Grand children, Alexandria, Patrick and Braeden. Jason and Leah Tutlies, and Grandson Easton. Mandel Hitzer, and the youngest Jessica Hitzer. Clearly the growth of his family is still a work in progress.

Rolf Hitzer has several passions besides writing, they include being at the log cabin on weekends. Spending time on the water with a fishing pole in hand. Wildlife viewing and especially Moose calling during the fall rut. Playing a range of Poker card games and a variety of board games.

Rolf is a Member of the Winnipeg Real Estate Board, The Manitoba Real Estate Association and the Canadian Real Estate Association. He is currently working on his second novel.

For more information on his book visit: http://www.hoodoosea.com/

Hoodoo Sea is his first novel.


Q: Thank you for this interview, Rolf. Can you tell us what your latest book, Hoodoo Sea, is all about?

A: Nasa’s team of scientist’s develop speed-of-light capability for space travel.  On the maiden test flight the crew goes missing as they enter the Bermuda Triangle.  The crew is unaware that they have gone missing as they lose control of their technologies as they safely land in an open field.  Convinced search and rescue will soon locate them the day is spent in waiting.  What happens at night, though, is about to change everything they know and believe about life and death.     

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: My main character, Wing Commander Scott Reed, is the quiet leader that cares about his crew.  Before he acts, he thinks things through and then garners a plan of action.  Well respected and liked, with the exception of Captain James Harrow who felt he deserved to be selected as the leader of the crew, and as the mission progresses, so does the anger welling up in this character.  Captain John Heintz is the wholesome and religious doctor that was born and raised in the Midwest. Deedee Polson is the only female member of the crew.  In the book she starts off appearing to be emotionally fragile and little help to the crew members, but she prevails to be one of the stronger characters as the story moves forward.        

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A:  The characters are mostly from my imagination.  That being said, the main character does mirror my personality.  At least this is what I’ve been told.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A:  When I first started writing Hoodoo Sea I thought I had the entire plot figured out.  A funny thing happened as I continued writing the novel.  It was as if my pen took on it’s own life as the plot kept changing as fast as the chapters did.  It was a really strange feeling as to how the book ended up versus what my original vision of the story was.  I can genuinely say it was a combination of a planned plot and a ongoing changing plot.

Q: Your book is set in the Bermuda Triangle.  Can you tell us why you chose this location in particular?

A:  My novel is about life after death.  I thought by having my characters go missing in the Bermuda Triangle it would add another element of mystery and paranormal.  The beginning of the book is so misleading as the story and plot take on a hundred and eighty degree twist once they travel through the devil’s ocean.  By the way, that is how the title of the novel came about.  Hoodoo Sea is another name for the Bermuda Triangle.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A:  Ooops, I gave some of this answer away by answering your previous question.  Yes, the setting had everything to do with the book.  The reason for selecting the Bermuda Triangle as a geographical location is the fact that I was having four different people going through what happens after death and this was a great location to have four people depart from Earth.  

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A:  Captain James Harrow is having a nightmare. This is the first time he meets the antagonist, Therkor, who is communicating to James through his dreams.  Captain Harrow awakens from the hellish dream and because it was so vivid compared to a normal dream, he doesn’t know what to make of what had just happened. 

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A:  Here goes, hope you like it…as follows:

Scott took a few slow and careful steps towards the wolves, hoping not to spook them into running off.  The eyes didn’t move or blink.  He stared them down, as if sizing them up, as he continued inching towards them.  Now the pair of eyes on his left began to move towards him!  He didn’t expect a wolf to show such aggression.  Scott stopped, his heart racing.  Why weren’t they running away, like they always had in the past?  The first set of eyes continued to creep forward.  Now the wolf on the right joined its mate.  Scott remained perfectly still, trying to show these wild animals he was no threat to them, but his strategy did not stop their advance.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Rolf.  We wish you much success!

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Interview with Author Monica Brinkman, “What goes around comes around.”

Monica M. Brinkman lived in the Philadelphia, PA area, relocated to the California Bay, where she resided for thirty years and now resides in the St. Louis, MO area, which was the inspiration of her newest book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel.

She views herself as a citizen of all the States, finding that people throughout the country are warm, caring and most want the same things in life, to enjoy their passions, make a living and be surrounded by those they love. In her own words, “Life is truly an adventure. I believe in giving everyone the opportunity to go after their passions in life. To not do so, creates hostility, depression and emptiness.”

A free-lance author and poet, she embraces stories that have meaning and purpose. Though a bit of a rebel, when some authors told her that no one would ever read a story set in the Missouri Ozarks, nor would they wish to read a mixed genre, that was all it took. “How dare they insult the intelligence of our readers by placing them in a box”. Off she went, and wrote this exact type of story, set in the small rural college town of Raleigh, MO. It is a mixed genre of suspense, horror, spiritutality and a touch of the paranormal. Monica is working on the sequel, The Wheels Final Turn, set in the State of California.

You can find out more about Monica and her work athttp://monicabrinkmanbooks.webs.com/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Monica. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, is all about?

A: My book intentionally written using a mixture of genres has created quite a few discussions of the real conception. The reviewers seem to have their own idea of the meaning of the tale. The good news is this is exactly what I intended when creating the idea of the story.

The best description I can provide, without giving away the suspense, is this brief synopsis.

“What goes around comes around.”
Truer words were never spoken, as evidenced by the complex interactions and fates of the characters in “The Turn of The Karmic Wheel.”
When the residents of Raleigh begin to hear music and voices that aren’t “there”, and to receive frightening messages from no discernable source, it soon becomes apparent that changes must – and will – be made: to their everyday lives, to their relationships, to their bodies, and, most importantly, to their souls.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Would love to and thank you for asking. I’ll touch on a few as I have many characters within the tale.

• Angela Frank is the main character and driving force within the story. A beautiful young mother, wife, psychiatrist and reluctant psychic, embraces the goodness within people and the world. Ms. Frank lives her life assisting the mentally ill, performing charitable acts within her town and tending to her family, husband Monty Frank and two twin girls Alesha and Alexis. Lately, she has been unable to avoid or repress ‘voices’ and ‘visions’ occurring at an increasing rate. Thus begins her journey and participation in the karmic wheels turn.

• Euclid Hannigan, on the other side of middle age, speaks simply with an Ozark twang and is a firm God-fearing, compassionate man whose life has been in turmoil since the death of his wife Gina and the loss of his life-long job at the car factory. He soon finds himself perplexed by his inability to resist the force calling him to perform uncharacteristic acts.

• Karmen Shelton, in her early 50’s, is a loving, giving, caring nurse working in the local hospitals psychiatric ward. Her life is the definition of being charitable in both her work and outside activities. Unmarried, a bit overweight with short, tight, curly hair and what people call ‘coke bottle glasses,’ she yearns to find a man who will love her for her heart and not her outward appearance.

• Joshua Allen, tall, a mid thirties Financial Advisor with a model physique, black hair and piercing blue eyes is a woman’s picture of perfection. Females seem drawn to his animal magnetism until they realize he possesses qualities of self-absorption, greed, arrogance and pretentiousness.

• Rosie Richards, unmarried, 60 years of age, is a successful real estate agent with flame red hair, loud, overbearing, grossly overweight, and flamboyant in dress and appearance. Ms. Richards’s business practices place her own financial needs above those of her clients.

• Monty Frank, a Debt Eliminator in his late 20’s, pudgy around the mid-section, a marvelous husband and father is married to Angela Frank. From outward appearance, life within the Frank household seems idyllic, two young successful parents, blonde beautiful twin girls surrounded by deep love. Soon, Angela confronted with a taste of reality, must re-think her entire married life as Monty’s deep secrets are exposed.

There are a few small characters, whom we meet throughout the story as they get a taste of the karmic wheels turn.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: I must confess that I do both. Many times I will combine both the real person I have met and add to their personality from my imagination. The characters appear in dreams many times and seem to ‘call me’ to bring them to life. With the diversity of individuals we meet in life, I believe, if an author is honest, they will tell you that all characters hold some truth with people they have met in life. We take them and tweak them a bit.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: The plot comes first. It is the actual idea of the entire story. The fun is adding the characters and watching them come alive before your eyes. The bond of intimacy between an author and their characters is perhaps the most exciting aspect of being a writer. The feeling is much as giving birth. First, an idea appears and you mold it into becoming a real, breathing individual that you hope readers will embrace.

Q: Your book is set in Raleigh, Missouri. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: Allow me a bit of local history. When the town of Rolla, MO was being named, legend has it, that new settlers from North Carolina voted to name the town after their hometown of Raleigh but chose to spell the Missouri version phonetically. I chose to use the original spelling and intention of the towns’ name.

I set the book in this setting when some very pompous authors told me no one would wish to read a story set in the Missouri Ozarks or any small town. They went on to say, to be successful, you must set your story in a large city. It didn’t set well with me, as I believe they had no right to place readers in some ‘readers’ box’, telling them what they prefer to read. Many excellent stories have been set in small towns. To me, they were insulting the readers of the worlds’ intelligence.

The sequel, The Wheels Final Turn, will be set in California but reach the world.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Definitely. In this case, I drew on the diversity of the people living in Rolla, MO. They are not merely ‘simple country folks’ but a blend of many different dialects, beliefs, ethnicities, and walks of life. Yes, you will find the Ozark accent, but the majority of the people have no accent whatsoever, or only a touch of it.

Also, the fact that a small, rural, college town would hold the beginning to a major shift in peoples’ perception of being held accountable for their own actions in life, intrigued me. How ideal, a sleepy little town awakening a universal force that would change humankind. It would not have been the same story had I set it in metropolis.

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?

A: Joshua Allen has awakened and is preparing his morning meal, reflecting on the strange occurrences from the previous evening. He contemplates visiting Joansie, his female counterpart. As he reaches for his cell phone, he is jolted by electricity and sent reeling across the room, shocked (literally) and dazed.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: This one is my favorite as it awakens peoples’ eyes to a rare, incurable, genetic disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa or EB, for short.

I wanted to let the readers know, also, that every sale of my novel will create a donation to EBMRF, the only research foundation that uses 97% of their funding on actual research. They are starting to come up with promising research results. I can only hope and pray we will see significant results in the near future.

Miriam gazed at her daughter and saw pure beauty where others would see only the gauze bandages covering her thin, tiny arms, legs, feet and hands. Most people who saw her believed the lovely little girl was a burn victim. If only that were so, Miriam thought to herself. Yes, that she could live with, knowing her Tessa would get better and grow to a ripe old age. Often she wondered why such a disease as Epidermolysis bullosa, E.B. for short, existed. For what purpose were these children born into this world? Their reality was constant pain and misery. E.B. was a cruel trick of nature indeed. The doctors had explained that it had to do with genes that she and her late husband carried. Rather like Russian roulette. No one knew when, or if, a child would be born with E.B. There were no tests to find out if an adult had the gene, they’d told her—well, not until a child was born with E.B. Then the medical field was able to take DNA from the child and compare it against the parents’. Even then, she’d been told, the disease could simply be the result of a mutant gene that popped up out of nowhere. In truth, the doctors knew very little about this genetic disease and as much as admitted that each afflicted child was, more or less, a training tool for the medical field. The extent of the disease varied from mild to extreme cases.

Miriam knew that to the world, her daughter was a freak. Moreover, she knew that Tessa was growing weary of the long stares, rude questions, and out and out gawking whenever she went out in public. Miriam felt like telling Tessa to give ’em the finger the next time an adult stood next to her gawking openly. That would serve ’em right, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and it was better for Tessa to ignore them and not buy into their discourteousness. Miriam laughed to herself just thinking of Tessa lifting up that finger at some moron.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Monica. We wish you much success!

A: You are very welcome. I am humbled to provide a bit of information on my book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel, my views and inspirations.

I appreciate your taking the time to talk with me about a story written to make people think and bring meaning to the world as it was conceived from the point of care and concern for our world.

Thank you!

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Interview with author Shari Bookstaff, “It is ok to fail–that just means you need to try harder next time.”

Shari Bookstaff grew up in Milwaukee, WI, dreaming of becoming a marine biologist. She made it to California and is currently a biology professor, teaching at a community college near San Francisco. While her specialty is marine mammals, she recently expanded her course offerings to include a class on the human brain. Inspired by her own medical trials, Shari continues to merge her personal and professional interests.

Shari lives with her two children (and two dogs) in a small town just south of San Francisco, near the ocean. While her disabilities make life harder, she is determined to continue walking on the beach, attending concerts, and cheering at football games.

You can find more about Shari and When Life Throws You Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice on her website at http://www.wix.com/lemonsandcranberries/lemons

Q: Thank you for this interview, Shari. Can you tell us what your latest book, When Life Throws You Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice!, is all about?

A: When my kids were learning to walk, I remember walking behind them, ready to catch them if they stumbled backward. I never dreamed that thirteen years later my kids would be walking behind me, ready to catch me if I stumbled backward.

I was 42 years old when I was diagnosed with a benign, operable, brain tumor. Doctors predicted a short hospital stay followed by a speedy recovery. Complications arose, giving me unexpected life-long obstacles.

A divorced mother of two beautiful, talented, wonderful children, I had high hopes for a bright and happy future. I had a secure job that I loved, and I was beginning to date again when my brain tumor was diagnosed.

My life since that fateful day has been focused on regaining basic human functions: breathing, swallowing, walking, etc. I am working again, and trying to be a good mother to my two beautiful, talented, wonderful children.

Putting a positive spin on life’s disasters doesn’t always work, but looking for, and accepting, positive things in spite of life’s disasters works. Instead of making lemonade out of lemons, I add life’s sweet sugar and cranberries to my lemons. This makes life much more palatable.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: In the hospital, with nothing but my mind for company, I thought about how I would write a book. The rehabilitation center I was at specialized in brain injuries, and it was suggested to me that I write stories about the twelve patients staying there with me. My speech and physical writing skills were coming along very slowly at the time, so I wasn’t up for conducting interviews.

I came home at the end of March 2007. I wasn’t walking, driving, or working. Going to outpatient therapy kept me busy during the day. My kids kept me busy at night.

Writing the book started with long emails that I wrote to friends in the middle of the night. I had always been able to express my feelings better through writing than through talking–and express them I did!

By January 2009, I had read the entire Harry Potter series twice and I was ready to go back to work. I started going to an Adaptive Physical Education class at my college, assisted in labs, and gave guest lectures. The busier I got, the more I did! I realized my experiences may be valuable enough to share. Those emails I wrote to friends in the middle of the night were a start. I divided my thoughts into “chapters” and got started. Once I had enough, I looked for a publisher. Publish America called me to tell me they accepted my story for publication at the beginning of 2009. Once I had a publisher (and a deadline), I set daily writing goals for myself. I went through my medical records (a two-foot high stack) and legal records for dates and names of medical procedures. I also interviewed friends to get parts of my story that I wasn’t “there” for.

I finished the book in June of 2009, and it was published in October 2009.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A: I poured through my medical and legal records and I did some research on brain plasticity.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A: It is ok to fail–that just means you need to try harder next time.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: I went to a Monday Night Football game, hosted by the Houston Texans, with my family just after Thanksgiving, 2008. As Matt’s guests, we parked and entered the stadium through areas designated for players’ families. Once inside, we had a long walk to our seats, so an employee brought me a wheelchair. When I finally got to my seat, I stayed put the entire game. 

After the game, the wheelchair guy came back and took me to the player’s post-game reception. We met up with Matt at the reception, but before he got comfortable, Abby asked him if we could go on the field. Abby and Andy had never been on a football field, and they had wanted to go on one for years. We walked out onto the field and it was awesome. We looked at the spot where Matt had tried to throw a touchdown pass, and the spot where the ball was kicked for field goals.

Then, my sister Stephanie asked me if Steve Young was an announcer for Monday night games. 

I said, “He might be. Why?”

She said, “I think he’s right over there.”

He was. Steve Young was on the other side of the field, conducting post-game interviews.

“Wow!” I thought. “Another chance to meet my biggest celebrity crush?”

I hobbled across the field, towards the bright television lights, moving faster than I had moved in two and a half years. He was busy working, so I was not able to say hello to him again, but feeling that rush of adrenaline that made me nearly run across the football field worked more magic than a week’s worth of prozac! Part of me was still a woman. Part of me could still get goose bumps over a man. Part of me was still ambitious enough to chase down Steve Young. Part of me was still alive.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

A: It is difficult for a book to get attention from a traditional publisher, so I published my book through a “print-on-demand” publisher.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: Nearly every day includes a work-out in the gym at Skyline Collegepart  of the Adaptive Physical Education course. Continuing these therapeutic work-outs will always be a high priority. I teach biology at this school, so I am in the lab or on the computer much of the day.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: In one of my blogs, I wrote that I could write a book called “The Brain Tumor Diet” and make a fortune! Other than continuing to teach and playing around at karate (I just received my Black Belt), I think it would be fun to write that book. It would be a “diet” for the body, mind and spirit.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Shari.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you so much for having me! More information about When Life Throws You Lemons…Make Cranberry Juice!,  can be found at http://www.wix.com/lemonsandcranberries/lemons

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Inspiration Is a Crazy Thing

M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of 11 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix,The Reincarnationist, The Memorist and The Hypnotist.

Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg ofBuzz Your Book.

She is a founding member and board member ofInternational Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype andBackstory.

Getting published has been an adventure for Rose who self-published Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, ForbesThe New York TimesBusiness 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, includingUSAToday, Stern, L’Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the ’80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

She lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka.

You can visit her website at www.mjrose.com


Inspiration is a Crazy Thing

by M.J. Rose

Inspiration is a crazy thing. I don’t know where it comes from but I’m thankful it does come.

My characters are very elusive. They arrive like wisps of smoke. My first inkling about a new character comes as a question. A “what if”.

“What if” a man was in an accident and woke up with memories that don’t belong to him.

Then I start thinking of what kind of man would that be a conflict for. Who would hate that and fight it.

Slowly a person starts to emerge.

Then I work on their names – for a main character it can take me a month to come up with the right name. And all too often I think I have the right name – then start working on the book and realize I have the wrong name. In The Memorist I wrote the whole book with Meer’s name being something else and she was wooden on the page. Then I changed her name and she came alive.

My real work with the characters is an evolution. For three months I don’t write a word. Rather I do research and work on my main character’s scrapbook. The very process of collecting her preferred poems, swatches of her favorite colors, and petals from the flowers she grows gives me time to find her.

I collect the ticket stubs for a performance of the Metropolitan Opera that she went to, a postcard from her mother’s first trip to Europe, a piece of the red and white string on the pastry box from her grandmother’s apartment: it’s all in the scrapbook.

And only when I’ve found all the knickknacks of her life and I’ve done a fair amount of procrastinating do I even think about sitting down to write. And by then, I can’t wait.

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