A bit of good news-my book cover.
(You’ll have to read the book to figure out what the daisies mean.)
Today is my son’s sixteenth birthday. A milestone meant to be celebrated. After all, Ben is a gift—truly, a gift. A few years ago he was hit by a car and Hashem let me keep him. I give thanks for that every day.
Today is the one month anniversary of my brother’s accident. We didn’t get to keep him. Unfortunately, tears always seem to wash away the joy. I wish it could be the opposite.
My beloved brother passed away on February 5th. Death is overwhelming. Human language doesn’t provide words to describe the intensity of the pain caused by grief. To say mourning hurts is like calling Niagara Falls a ripple on the Niagara River. Words are not big enough.
When my daughter was little she hated helium-filled balloons—so much so that if offered one, she would vehemently refuse it. Most people assumed that she feared the loud sound it would make when it popped. Wrong. She couldn’t bear the thought of seeing it float away. She chose to live without the balloon rather than deal with the pain of losing it. I’m afraid to start living again, because the pain of loss is so great.
My loved ones provide me with much of my identity: wife, mother, daughter, ,sister-in-law, aunt, a friend. Now, there is a hole in the last sentence, a hole in my identity, and a hole in my heart. I’m not a sister anymore.
I’m trying to step forward through the anguish, but all I see is the past. The questions in my head remain unanswered because death doesn’t provide a FAQ handout. It also fails to provide instructions on how to move forward, when the fear it leaves behind is so paralyzing. Like my daughter’s dread of flying balloons, I’m terrified of another loss—namely my own.
The accidental death of my brother crashed my family’s world. Even just a glimpse of him in a picture causes my heart to pound out waves of pain. Tears are triggered each time I speak his name, but outright sobbing begins when I think about what he’ll miss. The life, death deprived him of. He’ll miss every day of his children’s lives. He won’t be there to celebrate their successes or to comfort them in times of disappointment. He’ll never meet their future spouses or beam with pride at their weddings. He’ll never look into the eyes of his grandchildren. But most of all, my brother will miss growing old with his dear wife, who truly is his other half of his soul.
I fear death because the mere thought of missing all of those things is excruciating. As I grieve the loss of my brother, I also grieve for him and all that he lost.
I just wrote the words “The End” on my second book, The Kiddush Ladies. It felt so good! Now it’s time to jump into rewrites.
Recently, two subjects merged in my head, my Facebook friends’ sentimental postings recalling our collective youth and the third book in the Hunger Games series. Believe it or not, there is logic behind this mental mashup.
At the end of MOCKINGJAY, Katniss and Peeta play a sort of game—“real or not real.” In the game, she clarifies his memories, which have been altered by an evil government. I need someone to play that game with me each time I read a Facebook posting regarding our shared youth.
Since I’m out of the mental illness closet, I’ll admit that living with horror story levels of depression separates you from the reality of your own life. And, I will also confess to filing the memories of my hometown and high school years under the term nightmare, years ago.
But, like Peeta, I would love answers to my gnawing questions about my past. Now that I have medication that works, I can almost see the possibility of 1970’s Ellwood City being a decent place to be a kid, and that the walking train wreck was me, not high school. But, I’ve accepted that I’ll never get answers to my real memory or distorted memory questions because I would be too embarrassed to even ask the questions.
Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot like a hamburger, not just any old hunk of beef lying on a bun, but a very specific hamburger. Remember the old Heinz commercial that starred an ordinary burger, waiting for the red sauce to drip down from the ketchup bottle hovering above, while Carol King sang “Anticipaaaaation?”
Instead of waiting for ketchup, I wait as the calendar creeps closer and closer to April 26th. The release date for DEFECTIVE. Some days, I want the ketchup to blast out of that bottle, but most days I want to pull the top part of the bun over my head.
When I decided to learn to write novels, I took a few online courses and did a ton of research. According to the online sources, most writers pen multiple novels before achieving publication. So, I typed and dreamed that if I worked hard and polished my craft, maybe my third book would be published—DEFECTIVE is my first book.
What the experts didn’t tell me is that publishing is not for the faint of heart. Honestly, the mere thought of strangers and reviewers reading it makes me shudder, and no offense, but the idea of friends and family reading it is even scarier. Writers often compare writing a book to the pain of childbirth. Not even close—I gave birth three times. It was much easier, and birth announcements read infinitely simpler than book reviews. A typical birth announcement:
Susan Sofayov gave birth to a 7lb 8oz boy on December 31, 2013 at 6:00 am.
No newspaper has ever published a birth announcement that read:
Susan Sofayov gave birth to an ugly baby boy at St. Clair Hospital. His head is slightly misshapen, and his ears stick out like butterfly wings, but she did a lovely job on the eyes. Unfortunately, his asymmetrical limbs overwhelm the whole. All in all, a weak first-time effort.
Yes, writing is a subjective field. What some people love others hate. Pini, my husband, told me to grow a thick skin before April. So, I went to Macy’s and the pretty young girl behind the Clinique counter informed me that they sell moisturizer, not skin thickening cream.
I hate living with this slow dripping condiment hovering above my head. I’m sick of asking myself the same question—scared day or excited day? Yesterday, an idea hit me, the perfect solution to calm my pre-publication anxiety. I downloaded the forms required to legally change my name and filed them in a folder titled “In Case of Emergency.” So, if the reviews for DEFECTIVE are good, my name will remain Susan Sofayov. If they are bad, Susan Sofayov will become my pen name, and my legal name will be changed to Jennifer Nightingale. -s
Happy New Year everyone.
I’m excited to announce that DEFECTIVE will be released on April 26, 2014.
(Now, I’m officially nervous.)
Whoopi! I received the second round of edits today. Not painful at all. Much more black ink than red.
DEFECTIVE is inching forward.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Friday!
I am exited to report that DEFECTIVE is inching its way toward the shelves. This week it entered the second round of editing. Faith, the editor at Black Opal Books, said it should be finished in two or three weeks! Then it will be my turn to correct all of her redlines. Say a prayer or cross your fingers that my fear of seeing the entire manuscript covered in red ink, except for one really well written sentence, doesn’t come true. Just kidding. Her job is to help me polish my work until it becomes the best story it can be.
I’m also thrilled that my talented young friend Daphne Schlesinger has agreed to design the front cover!
I hope to know an exact publication date soon. Next steps, marketing plan. This is when I am going to ask for your support. Please, friends, once the book is available, help me spread the word. Tweet-Facebook-Linked-In-Pinterest-telephone-carrier pigeon-owl…
Thank you for visiting my blog and enjoy the day. -s
This is my anything can happen page.
I don’t really have a specific intention for this page. As of this moment, I foresee posting updates on DEFECTIVE’s path to publication. And, keep an eye open for Flash Fiction stories, some written by me and others penned by guest writers. I hope you enjoy reading them.
Anything swirling around in my life has the potential to end up on this page, even an occasional rant.