Writing a synopsis is much harder than I thought.
I must distill 85,000 words into a pithy, succinct, exciting, unputdownable description of ADAM’S NEEDLE in five hundred words or less.
That includes one sentence that tells the whole story in a nutshell . . . .
and a captivating, mesmerizing, enchanting, short paragraph about myself.
I’m working on it.
Yesterday I finished the last chapter of my new novel, ADAM’S NEEDLE.
I’ve begun the exciting process of line editing, writing an irresistible synopsis, enticing an agent, and getting published.
I’ll keep you informed.
During the Christmas season, we scurry to find our loved ones unique gifts, suited to their personalities and interests. I read recently that the best gifts are not what people would buy themselves, but luxuries or experiences to take them out of their everyday world. See Don’t Be a Lousy Gift-Giver, by Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2013.
Books are a staple on my gift list. Most of the people in my family are big readers, so books might seem to be things they would buy themselves, and many of them don’t wait for Christmas to buy their reading material. Therefore, I am challenged to find books they wouldn’t buy for themselves.
But I have an “in” to finding unique books—I know a lot of authors. Books by local authors, people I know, are a good choice for family and friends. I have often already vetted the books, watching their development from first draft to final product. I know the care and craft that has gone into these books.
I hesitate to recommend any books in particular, because there are so many good books by talented authors in my community. But here are a few books by Kansas City area authors I recommend. All of these have been published within the last year or two. All of the links are to Amazon, but some of these books are available on other online sites and in bookstores as well. Most are available in both paperback and ebook versions.
Beth Lyon Barnett (an author featured before on this blog) published Jazz Town. This novel depicts Kansas City’s rich jazz history so powerfully you want to sway to the music. The jazz era comes alive in a riveting story with interesting characters.
Pamela Boles Eglinski (also featured last year in a guest post on this blog) published the second novel in her Catalina Bonhomme series this year. She Rides with Genghis Khan is spellbinding historical fiction full of suspense and seduction.
Norm Ledgin, a prolific local author, has written a novel about Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, entitled Sally of Monticello: Founding Mother. Researched in great detail, this book will make you think about our third President in a new way, and consider how love and freedom are intertwined.
Sara Rickover has published a new novel of corporate intrigue, Playing the Game. Debuting in the top 100 in Amazon’s financial thriller category, this book features a heroine in Human Resources—someone I could really relate to—along with murder and mayhem in a struggling family-owned business.
Young Adult and Children’s Fiction:
I have a hard time finding books for boys, because I don’t read this genre typically. C.M. Lance writes fantasy that combines magic and science. Lance’s second book in the Wizard Dawning series, Wizard’s Sword, features strong characters from humans to werewolves to Amazons. Try this for the fantasy-lovers on your gift list, from teenagers to adults.
Rita Roth tells the story of a young Jewish girl during the Great Depression in 444 Pine Street. In this book, Hannah’s family struggles to survive and maintain their values and traditions in the face of both religious discrimination and serious illness. A good gift for middle grades.
Phyllis Westover has written a story of a boy and the horse he wants in Sold to the Highest Bidder. Young Jed needs friends and family to help him achieve his goal. This book is perfect for the new chapter book readers on your list, or for children who like to be read to.
Sally Jadlow, another prolific local author, has a recipe book, Family Favorites from the Heartland. I can vouch for several of the recipes from the book, which you will enjoy along with Sally’s stories. Easy to follow directions.
Deborah Shouse has written a book about her own family’s experience taking care of her mother with Alzheimer’s Disease. It is a powerful and moving collection of essays entitled Love in the Land of Dementia, with both spiritual and practical lessons for caregivers.
You may know authors in your area with new books. Consider supporting these authors by giving their books as gifts this Christmas.
Even if you don’t know any local authors, most bookstores have a “local author” section. Ask the salespeople in the stores to help you find it. You will probably find a treasure, and check another gift off your list.
OK I enjoy writing about art, but sometimes the question arises as to when is art really art. For example there is a new exhibition opening at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art late this month celebrating the work of Joel Arthur Rosenthal or JAR as he prefers to be called. Jar is often noted as the Faberge of our time. He will become the first living jeweler to be given a retrospective at this world famous museum. Even more fascinating are the facts about the life of JAR. He was raised in the Bronx by a father who was a postal worker and a mother who was a biology teacher in the public high school system. He likes to say that they taught him that there were two important things above all else–to learn English perfectly, including how to spell and to do what you want to do. JAR has followed these precepts to the letter and in the process he has produced jewelry with extraordinary gems which look so much like artworks that they are accepted as just that. He has a Garbo like reticence which he has encouraged his clients to follow if they wish to continue to be able to buy from him. And his fame can only be attributed to the quality and the astounding beauty of his work. It is said of JAR that he creates what he wants, when he wants, for who he wants. He does not much like talking about himself. He doesn’t really like other people talking about him either. It is no wonder that clients, other jewelers, fashion designers, and performers all follow his strictures with envy but with exactitude.
JAR has given perhaps 2 or 3 interviews in the last thirteen years. Jar had spent a great deal of time at the Met and the Natural History Museum in his youth and after studying at City College he transferred to Harvard. He had been to France and was in a big hurry to return to Paris because he wanted to be a painter and this was the mecca to which all painters went. He met his partner Pierre Jeannet and the two of them opened a small needlepoint store for which JAR painted the canvases. Then he worked for Bulgari for a shot time before he and Jeannet opened a jewelry business. Neither of them had any training or knowledge about the business and depended on their own bank accounts to open the shop. He only knew that jewels fascinated him and that many jewels held absolutely no interest with the buying public. No one would want old cut diamonds or pink topaz. But JAR loved all these rejected stones and had no interest in the grand large stones. His favorite stones were in shades of red violet pink and green rather than the perfect blue white diamonds. Many of these vivid stones fascinated him; they were not even regarded as precious and often were considered fake stones. Today he has made them an important part of his business. Today these stones have become not only accepted but they command high prices. His small shop is located around the corner from the Place Vendome; its windows are bare and there is not a single jewel in sight. Instead the windows are dressed in faded pink velvet with perhaps a twig or a piece of fruit centered in them. In the shop there is a warren of small rooms all dressed in faded green velvet which enhances the colors of the stones. JAR works with four assistants and uses workrooms in Geneva, Paris, and the south of France. He makes between 100 and 120 jewels a year and the business has been successful since its inception. He has been offered blank checks by enthusiasts to open shops in London and other great cities but his response has been that other people’s ideas of reality get in his way. “I’d rather fail my way than succeed the way you told me. I don’t want to be beholden to anyone. I don’t want to be owned by anyone.”
JAR also has a unique method of pricing his jewelry. He makes a drawing and figures out what he is doing and the time and the materials involved, and then he comes up with a fair price. He refuses to negotiate on his price and should any clients ask for a better price they are shown the door. And since the business has been profitable since it was begun there is no question that he can conduct it as he chooses. He is a master of the art of pave in jewels, which is a technique for setting small stones so closely together they form almost a pavement of jewels. He makes between 100 to 120 pieces a year. He has no interest in checking the cost of jewels that he has created, but it is fascinating that the few works that have come to auction have sold for 8 times their original price. One of the perfect pieces that he has created are the willow earrings made of chrysoberyl in soft blues and murky watery greens. Each leaf is articulated which allows them to float in the breeze. Any motion frees them to flutter. It is a JAR creation which has been given the touch of the master jeweler himself although he has had no formal training. The Met show contains approximately 400 pieces loaned by 145 of his living clients and might be termed a homecoming of sorts for JAR. However he does not see it that way. Instead he thinks of himself as the little boy who walked up the steps of the Met anxious to see the wonders inside. His extraordinary gems will cast their spell on thousands of viewers. You owe it to yourself to take a look at the creations of JAR. Google him!