Monday, May 9, 2016


     This was my third A to Z Challenge and probably my favorite so far.  I got to not only play historian, but to get creative too.  It wasn't always easy to come up with 21st-century cultural memes that had 16th-century analogues, but I managed.  I guess my underlying goal was to help make people realize that life on Earth has been around for a very long time, that 500 years is just the blink of an eye, and that people who lived in the 1500's thought and felt and dreamed and schemed very much like people of the 21st century do.  It was an incredibly innovative time, bringing huge advances in science, communications, philosophy and the arts that changed the world every bit as much as the Internet has done for you and me.
     But of course, the satisfaction I derived from my own blog posts is only a part of what the A to Z Challenge is about.  The real genius of the Challenge is its focus on interactivity - discovering new blogs and bloggers, reading and commenting on their posts, replying to their comments on your posts.  Because as fascinating as it is for me to discover 16th-century people I'd never heard of, it's maybe even a little better to discover some new contemporaries who love to blog as much as I do.  The Challenge, at its heart, is about creating and sustaining a supportive community, and that's a really wonderful goal.  So once again, I'll thank Yvonne Ventresca, my friend and the very talented author of the Crystal-Kite-winning YA novel PANDEMIC and the forthcoming YA thriller, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES, due out in October (I can't wait!)  Among the many ways Yvonne has always supported me and my writing career, she was the one who first told me about the A to Z Challenge and encouraged me to participate.  And I want to thank the A to Z founders, hosts, minions and participants for making the month of April so exciting and rewarding!  I'm very proud to be part of this annual adventure.

Friday, May 6, 2016


  Two days ago I was nominated by Sarah Zama at The Old Shelter ( for the Liebster Award.  I must admit I'd never heard of it, but it was so cool to be nominated by a fellow blogger! Sarah somehow found the time to loyally read my A to Z Challenge posts and leave many generous comments, while doing all her own well-researched and fascinating daily alphabetic posts about the 1920's jazz scene. Of course I accepted, but today, while I was still preparing my acceptance post, I was nominated for the same award again, this time by J. Lenni Dorner at http://jlennidorner.what-are-they.  I'm incredibly grateful to both Sarah and J.  My cup runneth over!!
So the first thing I have to do is answer 11 questions Sarah asked me, which are:
  1. Q: When your started your blog, did you know what you were doing?
          A: Are you kidding me?  I still don't know what I'm doing!  I'm a technophobe with a very tiny blogger toolkit.  Basically, I know how to write and publish posts, how to include photos from Google Images, and how to answer commenters.  That's kind of it.

     2.  Q: Many writers I know tell me they don’t blog because they prefer to write their own stories. Why do you?

          A: I started my blog at a time when I was feeling immensely frustrated that none of the YA novels I was writing were getting published.  I decided that, rather than continuing to wait for the brass ring to fall into my grasp, I would be proactive and just WRITE.  It's been a godsend to me.

     3.  Q: Do you plan your posts?

           A: Define "plan."  I don't post on any regular schedule (except for the A to Z Challenge, of course).  But when I do have something I want to write about, I don't just dash off my posts.  I take my time editing them to try to make them as interesting and well-written as I can.

     4. Q: Do you stick to a posting schedule?
          A: Oops.  I think I just answered that one.

     5. Q: When you sighed up for the AtoZ Challenge the first time, did you know what you were doing?

          A: Well, I had a theme, I knew what my subject was going to be for each post, and I had pre-written some of them (I can't remember how many).  Does that qualify as knowing what I'm doing?

     6. Q: What were you thinking when you sighed up the second time?

          A: I was thinking that I really got a kick out of doing it the first time and that I was going to enjoy participating a second time with a completely different theme.

     7. Q: I can hardly resist a blogging challenge. Do you participate in many?

          A: The A to Z is the only one in which I participate.  I feel like my time is spread so thin that if I tried to participate in any more of them, I would dissolve into dust.

     8. Q: What is the blogging challenge which was the most fun for you?

          A: Damn! There I go with my premature answering again!

     9.  Q: Did you ever produce a vlog? If not, would you consider doing it?

           A: Me? Figuring out how to produce a vlog? [hysterical laughter]

     10. Q: Have you ever read articles about marketing to learn promoting your blog?

            A: No, I haven't.  I still think of my blog as a vehicle for entertaining myself, and if anyone else stumbles across it and likes it, so much the better!  Yeah, I'm not exactly a born entrepreneur.

     11. Q: Do you think writing a blog is the same as writing a book?

            A: I think that writing a blog is completely different from writing a book, other than the fact that they both involve writing.  My blog is about me.  I write novels, which are only about me in ways I'm not fully aware of.

And now I believe I have to try to answer J's questions too:

  1. Q: What sets your blog apart? Why is it special or different?
A:  Honestly, it's pretty funny.  I've been a wiseguy all my life and that trait doesn't seem to be going away no matter how old I get.  I routinely crack myself up.

     2.   Q: What spin would you put on this? “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but _____”

A:  "never leaving your house achieves the same goal.  Nobody makes house calls these days."

     3.  Q: Red Vines, Twizzlers, or other type of red licorice?

A: So sorry.  I hate licorice.  Are you going to revoke my nomination?

     4. Q: What's your favorite constellation? (Include an image if you can!)

A: Orion, without a doubt.  In the winter - my birthday season - he's directly overhead every night, and I feel like he's guarding me. 

     5.  Q: If you could have one of any vehicle you desire, but it’s the only transportation vessel you can use for the rest of your life — what one would you choose?

A: If my current car would last me for the rest of my life, I'd be good with that.  I like hanging on to useful things.  Not a big fan of novelty.

     6.  Q: If you could save the human race from extinction, hypothetically, would you do it and why or why not?

A: I would.  Because I still hope that someday we may get smart enough to stop hurting each other and our planet.

     7.  Q: What’s your favorite scent?

A: I totally fail this one.  My sense of smell is very limited.  I'm glad when I can smell almost anything, even if it's gross.

     8.  Q: What is your favorite turtle, tortoise, or terrapin story?

A: The only one I know is the Tortoise and the Hare.  Shameful, but true.

     9.  Q: What does liberty mean to you, personally?

A: The right to dress the way I want, think the way I want, write the way I want, make my own hard choices.

10.  Q: What is the most memorable hobby of a fictional character you’ve come across?

A:  I'd say Hannibal Lecter had several of the most memorable hobbies I've ever come across.  You didn't say good hobbies, remember.

     11.  Q: If you could have one of the following abilities, which would you choose?
  • Able to easily swim the length of the English Channel
  • Eat 100 hotdogs in 10 minutes
  • Have more color receptors in your eyes, thus being able to see more colors, ultraviolet, infrared, and polarized light
  • Go back in time to kill one villain of your choice one time
  • Walk any tightrope without danger
  • Understand the needs/wants/desires of animals
  • Grow any plant or tree anywhere in under one week
  • Require only 2 hours of sleep after every 22 hours awake
  • Light candles with your mind
  • Have skin as hard and tough as carbonado diamonds, but with luster intensity from light reflection
A: Go back to the year 1930 and kill Hitler.  Because I'm Jewish, and for me it's personal.


1. My brother/only sibling and I were born in the same calendar year, he on January 25th and me on December 15th.  (It took me decades to learn that these kinds of siblings are called Irish twins.)
2. That very same brother graduated high school at the age of 16.  That summer, he announced to my parents that he had been teaching himself college- and masters-level mathematics, and had applied and been accepted to a math PhD program at Harvard for the coming fall (with a full scholarship, of course).  He went on to get his PhD at age 20.
3. With my brother as my basis for comparison, I grew up believing that I was stupid.
4. I was accepted into college after my third year in high school, and graduated law school at the age of 23.
5. As a trial lawyer, I tried about 100 cases, and won my fair share.
6. I went on to work as an appellate lawyer.  I've argued about 40 cases before my state Supreme Court, and won my fair share.
7. Despite all of this, I've gone through most of my adult life still believing that I was stupid and that everyone else knew it, but they were too polite to tell me to my face.
8. About five years ago I was promoted to being a managing attorney in my office.  In this role, I have to supervise other attorneys and to participate in management decision-making.
9. To my amazement, I've found that I'm good at these tasks.  People at work - some very smart people - seek out my advice and opinions, and seem satisfied when they get them.
10. For the first time in my life, I feel like I might actually not be stupid after all.
11. And that's a really good way to feel. 

And now, huzzah!!  I get to nominate some awesome bloggers for this award!  Here's my list:

1. Nila Bose at Madly-in-Verse (
2. Guilie Castillo at Life in Dogs (
3. Stephanie Faris at Steph in the City (nominees are supposed to have fewer than 1,000 followers, and she just squeaks by with 977!) (
4.Dahlia at Stories and More (
5. Tamara Narayan, Author (

If my nominees accept, and I hope they do, here are the rules that must be followed:


If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster Award in which you:
  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog in your post.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  • Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  • Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers.
  • Create a new list of 11 questions for the nominees to answer.
List these rules in your post (copy and paste from here). Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  • Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)


1. Is your blog your best friend?  Why or why not?
2. Blogging feels to me like a job ___ percent of the time, and like a joy ____ percent of the time.
3. What rules of Blogger Etiquette are most important to you?
4. Do you have any great tips for attracting readers to your blog?
5. What do you wish you could change about the education you had?
6. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
7. Of all the places you've lived, which one is your favorite?  Why?
8. If you had a time machine, which era would be your first stop?
9. What's the best thing that happened to you within the past week?
10. What's the fastest way to get on your bad side?
11. What's the one thing that never fails to inspire you?

Lord, I thought this post would never end!  I feel like I've run a marathon.  Thanks for reading, and please check out the blogs of the people who nominated me, as well as those of the people I've nominated, because they're all REALLY interesting.  Bye for now!